InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Bloodlust ( Chapter 122 )

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

- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'If everyone cared and nobody cried
'If everyone loved and nobody lied
'If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
'Then we'd see the day when nobody died …'

-'If Everyone Cared' by Nickelback.


The house was strangely empty.

She wasn't entirely sure where anyone was, but the entire mansion was still, silent.

There wasn't even the sound of an errant television or radio: nothing.

It was odd and more than a little unsettling.

Wandering into the kitchen, Valerie felt somewhat better to find a full and fresh pot of coffee and a clean mug sitting on the counter in front of it, upside down, waiting for her, she didn't doubt.

Still, with everyone staying at the mansion, why wasn't someone there . . .?

Filling the mug with coffee, she started to move over to the breakfast nook, but she stopped short, her eyes flaring wide when she saw . . . it.

Outside in the sprawling yard behind the mansion, Evan and Bas were fighting, but that wasn't what alarmed her.  She'd seen the two of them fight before, and that had been bad enough.  This was infinitely worse.  Bas was wielding a wicked-looking sword, the blade flashing and glinting in the cold morning sunlight while Evan held a pitiful wooden sword in his hands, but that wasn't what bothered her, either.

What bothered her the most?  Evan, in some bout of temporary insanity, was still wearing his tuxedo slacks—and only those slacks: no shirt, no shoes, no nothing.

"Oh, my God, he's lost his mind," Valerie muttered, slamming the coffee cup down on the table, ignoring the burn when the liquid sloshed over the rim and down on her hand.  Striding out of the kitchen and toward the back door, she paused only long enough to jam her feet into the oversized rubber boots that Gin left there for anyone who had to run outside for a moment.  They were way too big for her feet, but that didn't matter.  Yanking the bulky old coat off the hook on the wall that Gin left there for the same reason, Valerie jerked the door open and stomped out onto the stone patio.

"C'mon, Daddy!  You can do it!" Bailey hollered from where he stood on the deck next to Sydnie.  Hopping up and down, he looked entirely beside himself, he was so excited.  "Swat 'im like a fly!"

"Just don't leave a mark," Cain said, arms crossed over his chest as he watched his sons.  He didn't seem overly concerned.  "If it shows up in the Christmas pictures, your mom'll have a fit."

"What the hell is going on?" Valerie growled, stomping over to stand beside Sydnie.

The woman giggled.  "They're fighting over me!"

Bailey made a face.  "It's 'cause Uncle Evan kissed Mommy . . . on the lips!  Ugh!"

Valerie stood still, blinking at what Bailey had said.  He'd kissed his brother's wife . . .?  She snorted.  "Kick his ass, Sebastian!"

"I really like that girl," Cain murmured.

"V!" Evan protested with a laugh and without taking his eyes off his bigger, badder, tougher brother.  "Oh, shit!" he exclaimed as Bas' sword descended with so much force that the blade whistled through the air.  He managed to hop back just in time to avoid having a chunk of his shoulder removed.  The blade smacked down on the snow-covered ground with such force that hunks of snow and turf flew up a good fifteen feet into the air, only to rain down like hail.

"You're getting slow, Bubby," Evan goaded.

Bas swung the sword again, only to have the blow thwarted when Evan managed to raise the wooden weapon into the air in front of him, bracing one end of the blade with one hand, hanging onto the hilt with the other.  "Slow, my ass," Bas shot back through gritted teeth as he bore down on his younger brother.  Muscles straining, he yanked his sword away, brandishing it with a flick of his wrist to bring it around in a tight arc that he brought down on Evan's wooden sword again with a loud crack, and for a moment, Valerie winced.  It sounded like the flimsy thing had broken, but it held.

With every blow in the mostly one-sided fight, Valerie could feel her nerves snapping, one by one.  How Cain and Sydnie could stay calm, she wasn't sure, but she was starting to seriously wonder if what Evan had said to her held some measure of truth.  Cain was too unconcerned, wasn't he?  After all, if Bas landed even one of the blows that he was aiming at Evan, there wasn't a chance in hell that he'd be getting up, was there?  I—and it was a huge 'if'—he could get up at all . . . Evan was fast—faster than Valerie would have believed if she didn't see it with her own eyes—but Bas wasn't pulling any punches.  Time and again, that huge sword of his smacked into the ground, sending up sprays of snow and earth and debris, and she gritted her teeth, trying not to think about what, exactly, would happen if one of those hits connected, and as desperately as Valerie wanted to put a stop to the nonsense, it was as if her mouth wouldn't work; that she simply couldn't say a thing to save herself.  Digging her fingernails into her palms, she couldn't seem to do anything but watch, and that was more than bad enough . . .

And yet there was a poetry in Evan's every movement, wasn't there?  A lightness in his step, a dexterity that seemed to surround him without any real effort on his part.  He might have been fighting his brother in the middle of an arena instead of upon snow-covered grass.  It had to be slippery, didn't it, and yet, Evan didn't falter, not once . . .

In fact, if she weren't about ready to scream, she might well have appreciated the beauty, the ease, of Evan's every movement.  As it was, though, it was all she could do, not to charge right down there and demand that the two of them stop.  The only reason she didn't?  She couldn't ignore the faint voice in the back of her head that assured her that the two of them were just too good at what they were doing, that there had to have been some very real training involved . . .

"Aww, c'mon, Bubby!  It was just a little smoochie," Evan goaded, an idiotic grin on his face.

That only seemed to infuriate Bas more.  With a muted growl, he shot forward, swinging his sword

In fact, she was about ready to stomp down there to put a stop to the whole thing when the sliding glass doors opened behind her.  "Looks like I'm late for the fun," Gunnar Inutaisho remarked as he stepped across the patio to stand beside Cain after offering Valerie a curt nod that she was able to reciprocate though it was about all she could manage.  She couldn't think, couldn't breathe, couldn't stand to watch, but she couldn't look away, either . . . "What did Evan do this time?"

"Caught Sydnie beneath the mistletoe," Cain replied dryly.

Gunnar nodded slowly, his eyes lit with understanding.

"He dipped Mommy backwards and kissed her on the mouth!" Bailey explained, scampering over to Gunnar and staring up at him very solemnly.

Gunnar digested that and nodded again.  "Nice knowing you, Evan," he called.

Evan just laughed, which only made Valerie wonder if he'd already gotten smacked upside the head once or twice.  There wasn't any blood that she could see, but . . .

"He can't hit me," Evan scoffed without taking his eyes off his brother.  "Don't even worry about it."

Gunnar shook his head but didn't comment.

"You'll think I can't hit you when you can't get out of bed tomorrow morning," Bas growled.

Evan chortled and spun away from the flashing blade yet again.

"Don't leave any marks," Cain called, crossing his arms over his chest as he watched the debacle in the yard.  "Your mother hates it when you leave marks."

Gunnar snorted derisively.  "Please, Bas," he scoffed.  "It's just Evan: not that much of a challenge."

"It'd have been over long ago if he'd just stay fucking still," Bas growled back, taking another swing at Evan and just barely missing.

Leaping back away from the sword, Evan grinned like an idiot and raised his left hand, palm up, curling his fingers a few times to further goad his brother.  "C'mon, big man.  Can't hit me?"

"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, you little fucker, to keep your goddamn paws off my mate!" Bas rumbled back.  Hefting the sword over his head, he spun around, bringing the weapon down to chest level, and in the watery sunlight, the flash of metal, the whistle as the blade cut through the air, the blur of motion that made the weapon look much thicker, much more menacing . . .

Evan jabbed the blunt end of the wooden weapon into the ground, leaning forward, bearing all of his weight against the hilt before propelling himself backward, flipping once in the air before he landed on his feet out of the range of his brother's attack.  Valerie couldn't breathe: her heart felt as though it was lodged in her throat, as the rock star straightened up, hands on hips, shit eating grin still on his face.  "Aw, give me a break," he complained loudly.  "Give me a real challenge, why don't you?"

That only seemed to irritate Bas more, and he growled in frustration.

Cain seemed to sigh—Valerie couldn't be sure, but she thought that she heard it.  "You could always fight Gunnar," he suggested mildly.

"Fight Evan?  I think not," Gunnar muttered.

"Yeah, 'cause you know I'd kick your ass," Evan shot back.

Gunnar chuckled though the sound was almost nasty, in Valerie's estimation.  "Keep talking, pup."

"That might be more intimidating if you actually hit harder," Evan scoffed.  "Too bad you don't."

"I have better things to do with my time than to waste it on the likes of you," Gunnar insisted arrogantly.

Bailey giggled and hopped up and down.  "You can beat Uncle Evan?" he asked a little breathlessly.

Gunnar snorted.  "That's a stupid question, Bailey," he rumbled.

Bailey uttered a little whine, wringing his hands in a completely nervous sort of way.  "But Daddy can't even hit him," he nearly whimpered.  "Uncle Evan's like a jack rabbit!"

"He's not so much," Gunnar insisted, his cold gaze flicking briefly over Evan as the latter hopped away from what could have been a devastating blow from the hulking Zelig brother.  "And it's not really surprising," he went on rather dryly.  "Your father couldn't hit a mountain if the mountain was directly in front of him."

"You're one to talk, Gunsie," Bas growled without taking his eyes off Evan, knees bent, leaning forward as though he were about to launching himself at him.  "When's the last time you actually fought anyone?"

"Yeah," Bailey added, though he didn't look entirely sure of himself.  "Daddy's tougher'n anyone 'cause he's gonna be the North American tai-youkai—"

"What's that?" Valerie asked, only paying half-attention since she still couldn't quite manage to tear her eyes off the debacle unfolding before her.

"Uh, it's nothing," Cain muttered.  "It's just a Japanese word that Bailey's heard a few times before . . ."

"It means that my daddy's gonna be the biggest dog in the world!" Bailey clarified in a very self-important tone of voice.

Cain coughed suddenly, reaching down and scooping up the lad.  "Something like that," he said with a curt laugh.  "Anyway, Evan could fight better if he actually tried . . . As for your uncle Gunnar?  He's a good fighter, too," he said with a wry grin.  "I mean, it's not like he has to prove himself or anything."

"What's that supposed to mean, jiji?" Gunnar challenged, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning at the older man.

Evan snorted.  "Maybe you should fight Cain, Gunnar . . . The two of you should be pretty evenly matched, after all."

Bas snorted and suddenly straightened up, his gaze flicking over to the patio and Gunnar.  "Nope," he said after a moment of contemplation.  "Dad'd kill him."

"Is that right, Bas-tard?" Gunnar asked, arching a black eyebrow expressively.

Bas shrugged, adjusting his grip on the hilt of the sword.  "Told me before that he always had to pull his punches whenever he trained you—unlike when he trained me."

Valerie could feel the irritation radiating off the man even if there wasn't any real change in his expression.

"Anyway, you're better off, just staying up there, Gun," Bas went on, his head turning to peer at Evan once more.  "Wouldn't want to embarrass you, after all . . ."

He moved so quickly that Valerie had to blink.  Nothing more than a blur, really, and suddenly, Gunnar had managed to vault over the low stone wall, striding over to Evan in an entirely no-nonsense sort of way, only to grab the wooden sword out of his hands and push him back nonchalantly.  "Out of the way, Evan," he commanded, his tone terse, commanding.

"Oh, I don't think so," Evan complained, reaching for the sword but missing when Gunnar yanked it out of his grasp before he could get a hold on it.  "This is my fight, Inutaisho."

"I've got a bone to pick with your brother," Gunnar argued.  "Now, move."

Evan wrinkled his nose and opened his mouth to argue, but Gunnar didn't wait around to hear it.  Digging in his heel, he sprang forward, lifting the wooden sword to meet Bas'. . .

Valerie bit down on her lip, but the fingernails she'd dug into the soft flesh of her palms released just a little, her nails sticking to her skin.  The knot that had formed in her belly hadn't completely eased, but she was able to breathe again.

And she had to admit that there was something entirely compelling about the sword play now that Evan was no longer a part of it.  The two men seemed to be participating in something more akin to an intricately choreographed scene than a real fight.  While Gunnar was fast, just like Evan, he was also apparently less inclined to simply avoid contact.  He wasn't nearly as flashy as Evan, either, but there was a certain beauty in his movements, a certain grace, an elegance . . . It was as though Evan viewed the fight as more of a game, while Gunnar didn't seem to entertain thoughts like that at all.

Bas swung the huge sword in a wide arc, only to be repelled by a couple rapid thrusts of Gunnar's blade, a flick of his wrist.  Still, the brute force of the blow was enough to send Gunnar sliding back a foot or so before he managed to dig his heels in to stop himself.  Whipping around in a tight circle, the blade of the wooden sword whistling through the air, he met Bas' next swing without flinching.  Valerie did, however.  Even from the distance, despite having never touched a sword in her life in a fight, she knew that the reverberations had to be painful, despite the blunting effect of the wood in Gunnar's hands.

Yet what really struck her again was the perceived calm surrounding everyone.  No one seemed to think that any of it was out of the ordinary; none of them seemed to think anything of the fight that was unfolding directly in front of them.  Even Evan, still shirtless, still barefoot, just stood back, arms crossed over his chest, watching with an entirely smug grin on his face, and she opened her mouth to call out to him, but was cut off short when the scrape of the door sounded behind her followed in short order by another voice—a voice of apparent reason.

"What do you think you're doing out here?" Gin Zelig demanded, stomping across the patio and down the stairs with a purpose in her stride and a formidable scowl on her face.

"Just doing a little pest control," Bas gritted out, refusing to unlock swords with his second cousin.

"You wish," Gunnar growled.  Whipping his sword in a circle, he managed to knock Bas' blade away with a derisive sneer on his face.

"How dare you start fighting!" Gin insisted, pushing both of them back a step while insinuating herself between them.  Taking a moment to glower at each of them in turn—rather amusing, considering she was so diminutive—but they stopped, swords lowering, albeit grudgingly.  "I cannot believe you two!  Of all the things for you to start—"

Bas shoved the sword into the scabbard hanging from his hip and grunted.  "He started it," Bas remarked, nodding his head curtly at his brother.

Gin leaned back to peer around Gunnar.  "So who won?" she demanded, tapping her foot impatiently as she eyed Bas and Gunnar in turn.

Over her head, Bas and Gunnar exchanged looks, and to Valerie's surprise, Bas even glanced over at Evan, too.  "He did," all three men said, nodding their heads at . . . Cain . . .?

Cain blinked and let Bailey slip out of his arms and down his leg to the floor.  "Come again?"

"Is that right?" Gin asked, a sudden and brilliant smile illuminating her golden eyes.  "Of course, he did!" she gushed.

"Uh, w—I didn't—" Cain began.

"Aww, don't be so modest, Cain," Evan scoffed, apparently thinking the entire situation was amusing as all hell.

Gin giggled and wiggled her shoulders before taking off toward the patio once more.  "I'll be right back!" she insisted as she sped past toward the doors.

Cain heaved a sigh and shook his head before turning a disapproving look on his sons and Gunnar.  "If she's doing what I think she's doing, you three have had it," he warned.

Evan laughed as he jogged toward the patio.  "It's all good, Cain," he insisted with a wink.

Cain snorted and shook his head again.  "Go put some clothes on, will you?" he grouched.

Evan stopped long enough to make a mock salute to his father and to plant a loud, obnoxious kiss on Valerie's cheek before sauntering off toward the door.  "Don't get started without me," he called over his shoulder.

Valerie frowned.  Get started?  What the hell was he talking about, anyway?

Cain let out a deep breath and headed for the door a moment later.  He didn't get far.  Gin stepped outside once more, smiling brightly at her husband, causing him to heave a longsuffering sigh.

Well, maybe her reappearance didn't do that quite as much as what the petite woman held in her hands did . . .

Valerie blinked, staring in mild shock at the wicked-looking scythe-like blade affixed to a leather wrapped handle.  A long, thick chain hung from the end of the handle—a good ten or fifteen feet of chain at least—and on the other end of that chain was a nasty metal ball a little larger than a tennis ball, a little smaller than a softball . . . What the hell was that . . .?

"Uh . . . It wasn't me," Cain said calmly and without taking his gaze off the weapon in his wife's hands.

"Come on, Zelig-sensei," she prodded with a bright smile, "It's only fair that I get to fight the winner!"

"But I didn't—" Cain began.

Bas' chuckle cut him off short.  "Don't be so modest, Dad.  You kicked our asses, right, Gunnar?"

Gunnar snorted in contention but nodded once.  "Of course."

Gin giggled.  "I knew it!" she exclaimed.  Grasping Cain's hand, she dragged him across the patio and down the steps, passing Bas and Gunnar in the process.  Valerie didn't miss the scathing glower that the older man shot them both, either.

"Don't go anywhere, you three," Cain called over his shoulder though he made no move to get away from his wife.

"Eh, there won't be much left of him when she's finished," Gunnar predicted.

"Yeah . . . and don't think that I don't realize that you were trying to distract them before I got a chance to really kick your ass," Bas goaded.

"In your dreams, Bas," Gunnar rejoined.

"Hey, baby."

Valerie jumped when Evan slipped his arms around her.  She hadn't heard him step outside once more, but at least he was dressed reasonably, having changed into a thick, bulky fisherman's sweater and a pair of faded blue jeans.  He chuckled, slipping a steaming cup of coffee into her hands before wrapping his arms a little tighter around her, pulling her back against his chest.

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him exactly what she thought of his nonchalance, but the hot coffee was a mighty persuasive argument.  She almost forgave him for the scare he'd dealt her—almost.  Not quite, but almost . . . "Hmm," she intoned noncommittally.  "Just had to run downstairs to kiss your sister-in-law?"

"She was under the mistletoe," he explained calmly, reasonably.  "It was perfectly innocent."

Bas snorted, having overheard his brother, even if he didn't deign to comment on it.

"Don't give me that," she scoffed, sipping the coffee as she leaned away from him far enough so that she could turn and pin him with a marked stare.  "You left me sleeping upstairs—your girlfriend, remember—so that you could skulk downstairs to kiss another woman."

He might have actually believed that she was angry if it hadn't been for her overly dramatic tone, her exaggerated emphasis on the word 'girlfriend'.  He chuckled instead.  "I don't skulk!" he insisted.

Bas snorted again.  "Yeah, that sounds about right," he allowed.

"Don't worry, baby.  I'm perfectly safe, see?  Bubby didn't even scratch me," Evan went on.

Valerie opened her mouth to comment but snapped it closed when a sudden hiss, a very loud ripping sound, interrupted her.  Her head snapped back forward, and her mouth dropped open.  The first thing she noticed was the very clean tear straight down the front of Cain's shirt as Gin caught the handle of the scythe-like weapon easily.

"Baby girl, this was one of my favorite shirts," he complained but otherwise looked no worse for wear.

Gin giggled, bending her knees slightly, hunkering down in a ready stance as she idly swung the scythe over her head by the chain.  "Suck it up, Zelig-sensei.  I'll buy you a new one."

"Zelig-sensei," Cain repeated with a shake of his head.  "You're trying to maim me, you know.  The least you could do is call me by name."

With another round of giggles, the woman snapped her wrist, sending the ball and chain flying toward her husband.  He didn't try to step out of the way as he stuck out his arm, letting the length of the chain wrap around it.  Funny how much longer the chain seemed.  Valerie could've sworn that it wasn't nearly that long before . . .

Catching the ball in his free hand, he held onto it with what could only be considered a smug sort of grin on his face.  "There you go," he said with a chuckle.  "I win."

Gin wrinkled her nose and gave the chain a couple terse flicks.  The chain unwound from around Cain's forearm, and with another little yank, the ball flew out of his hand and right back to Gin once more, too.  "You haven't won yet, Cain," Gin pointed out with a very satisfied smile.  A moment later, she sent the scythe flying at him once more with a move so deft, so quick, that Valerie hadn't rightfully seen her move at all . . .

"C'mon, V," Evan suddenly said, his breath tickling her ear as he leaned down to whisper to her.

"In a minute," Valerie replied without taking her eyes off the combatants—well, one combatant.  The other seemed to merely be trying to elude the attacks.

"Yeah, but you're out of coffee, and your carriage is waiting."

That got her grudging attention, and she glanced at him for a moment before turning her attention back to Cain and Gin once more.  The man managed to sidestep the blade, but the tip of it caught in the breast pocket of his shirt, and it gave with a very loud rip, as well.

Evan laughed and let his arms drop, only to reach for her hand, instead.  "I promise you, this is worth it," he assured her.

Valerie sighed, sparing one last glance over her shoulder as he dragged her toward the doors.  "It'd better be," she warned him, unable to keep the mulish tone out of her voice as she followed him into the house.  "It really had better be."

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
Jiji : Japanese term (often used by InuYasha) meaning "grandpa" or "old man".  It's considered to be pretty rude or derogatory.

'If Everyone Cared' originally appeared on Nickelback's 2005 release, All the Right Reasons.  Song written by and copyrighted to Chad Kroeger, Ryan Peake, Mike Kroeger, Daniel Adair.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Kynkii ------ monkeyseemonkeynodo ------ theablackthorn ------ Tashwampa ------ wolfcon (me, too lol) ------ Dark Inu Fan ------ CatLover260 ------ iloveanimecartoons ------ chaos_kyes_fallen_angel
cutechick18 ------ indigorrain ------ mangaluva ------ sueroxmysox
Thought from Valerie:
'Carriage' …?
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 121
Chapter 123
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