InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Unspoken ( Chapter 125 )

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

- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'I'm so caught up in you, little girl – and I never did suspect a thing
'So caught up in you, little girl – that I never wanna get myself free
'And, baby, it's true, you're the one who caught me
'Baby, you taught me – how good it could be …'

-'Caught Up in You' by .38 Special.


Staring at the flames dancing merrily on the hearth as the soft chime of the clock announced in its understated way that it was an hour until Christmas officially arrived, Valerie couldn't help the little smile that quirked her lips as she savored the warmth of the red and green chenille blanket that Evan had dropped over her shoulders a few minutes before he'd strode off toward the kitchen to get her a cup of coffee.

She had to admit that she still wasn't entirely sure what to make of their unceremonious ousting from the Zelig mansion earlier in the evening.  At first, she was dubious about the entire thing—at least, she had been until Sebastian, completely unnerved, had emerged from the mansion after retrieving keys.  He'd lost the best of five match of rock-paper-scissors, so he'd had to go back in, and he'd wordlessly handed over Evan and Gunnar's keys and then had strode off to his SUV, and as far as she knew,  he hadn't spoken again until well after he'd escorted everyone to his house nearby.

And she hadn't been sure what she'd expected when she'd first seen Bas and Sydnie's little house.  It was more of a cottage, really, complete with a cute little pink—yes, pink—stable off to the right behind the place.  She supposed that if she'd stopped to think about it, she'd have expected them to own a house that was on the same scale as the one where he'd grown up, but no.  About half the size, maybe, of Evan's place on Long Island, but somehow, the house rather fit Bas and Sydnie.  In fact, the only thing she'd noticed at all wasn't something she'd seen but something that Bas had mentioned: the housekeeper was on holiday, so the only thing he'd been able to come up with as far as snacks were a couple bags of potato chips, a case of beer, and a box of Christmas cookies from one of the local stores.

The other noteworthy thing about Bas and Sydnie's home?  Well, that would have to be the dwarf Holstein milk cow that Sydnie led inside not long after they'd arrived.  Bas had sighed and shook his head but he hadn't told her to take it outside again.  Evan had told Valerie that Bas had to widen the back door, just to accommodate Sydnie's 'pet'.  It was either that or sit inside alone while Sydnie spent hours upon hours out in the stable with the creature, anyway . . . At least the children didn't seem to think anything of sitting on the floor in the living room, leaning on the cow while they watched television.

"Ahh, Christmas at the pound," Evan remarked as he strode into the living room with two steaming mugs.  "Here you go, baby.  Watch out.  It's hot."

She took the mug and smiled at him as he sank down on the sofa beside her.  "Thank you."

He shrugged off her thanks as he sipped the hot drink.  "Cocoa," he explained as he lowered his mug.  "Hope you don't mind."

"Oh, this is good," she said with a little sigh.  Thicker, richer than normal cocoa, it tasted like it probably contained about a gazillion calories.  But it was almost Christmas, and she supposed that one mug of it wasn't going to break her diet too much . . .

"It is, right?" he agreed with a grin.  "Mama's secret recipe—Okay, I did tweak it a little."

"Tweaked it?" she echoed, arching an eyebrow.  "How?"

His grin turned a little evil.  "Added a little Bailey's Irish Cream," he told her with a wink.

"Trying to get me drunk?" she challenged.

He chuckled and stood up to poke at the fire and add another log.  "Absolutely not, woman," he assured her.  "That would just be an added bonus.  Besides, it's not like I added that much—just enough, that's all."

Valerie laughed and sat back, staring at the fire through half-closed eyes.  "Your parents are so cute," she ventured.  "I mean, beyond cute, really . . ."

Evan snorted softly but didn't argue with her.  "They've always been that way," he said.  There was a strange note in his voice, but she couldn't see his face.  Hunkered by the fire, he, too, was watching the flames.  Valerie frowned.  If she didn't know better, she'd swear that there was a certain wistfulness in his tone.  "I never knew it wasn't normal, you know?  At least, I didn't until I started noticing other couples around me . . . Kind of sad, isn't it?  I thought that my parents were the rule, not the exception . . ."

Valerie considered that in silence.  Knowing Evan as well as she did, she didn't doubt for a moment that he was telling her the truth.  What was that like?  To be surrounded by that much love—love that was so prevalent that it went without saying, that it could become an afterthought?  She smiled.  "Your mother was trying to pretend like nothing happened," she pointed out with a giggle.

It was true enough.  When she called over to Bas' house a couple hours after their hasty departure from the mansion, she'd apparently acted like she couldn't understand why everyone had left.  Bas had rolled his eyes but smiled, apparently unable to remain irritated about their ousting.  When they'd gotten back to the mansion, it was to find Cain, relaxing on the sofa with his shirt buttoned only once, and Olivia hadn't had any qualms about informing her grandfather that it was misaligned, too.  And Cain?  Damned if he hadn't just grinned a rather self-satisfied grin and let Olivia fix his mistake . . .

"Tell me your best Christmas memory," Valerie prompted when Evan fell silent again.

He blinked and seemed to shake himself, smiling only when he slowly turned his head to meet her gaze.  "My best memory, huh?  What if I told you that it hasn't happened yet?"

She rolled her eyes but smiled.  "Then it wouldn't be a memory, Roka," she pointed out.  "Now come on.  Tell me."

Letting out a deep breath, he braced himself on his knees and stood up.  "I think this is probably the best Christmas yet," he told her.  He even sounded sincere.  "But from the ones not counting this year?"  He frowned as he pondered her question.  "I guess it was the year that Mama and Cain got me a Power Puppies Jeep."

She laughed.  "Really?  You got one of those things?"

"Hey!  Don't diss the PPJ," he warned.

"Oh, wait, I think I saw pictures of that . . . Jillian had a pink one, right?"

Evan snorted and wandered back over to the sofa once more.  "Hardly!  Jilli got a pink Corvette.  I got the Jeep."

"I would have thought you'd have wanted the sports car," she pointed out reasonably.

Evan raised an eyebrow.  "I did mention that it was pink, right?"

"Oh, please!  Like you've ever been an über-macho guy!" she scoffed.

"Back then?  Cain had an SUV.  I wanted one like his, of course."

"That's really cute, you know.  You wanted to be like your dad?"

Evan snorted and reached for his cocoa again.  "I learned better, V," he insisted.  "Just took a few years, is all."

She heaved a sigh, knowing well enough that it wouldn't matter if she pointed out that she believed that Cain truly loved Evan, too, just as much as he loved Bas or Jillian.  Evan didn't believe it, and he didn't want to hear it, either.  Still . . . "So why's that your favorite memory?"

He grinned.  "Are you kidding?  It was too snowy to take them outside, so Cain set up a track here in the house for Jilli and me."  He chuckled softly as he plopped back against the sofa.  "Drove Bubby nuts that year . . . Nearly ran him over a few times.  I think Jilli did."

"Not on purpose, I'm sure," she remarked.

Evan chuckled.  "Jilli?  God, no . . . Me?  Maybe . . ."

"That just doesn't surprise me," she said ruefully.

"Absolutely," he drawled.  "What about you?  You have any good Christmas memories?"

She didn't know why she was caught off-guard by his question.  She ought to have realized that he was going to ask, given the current topic of conversation.  "Me?  Y-Yeah, I guess you could say so."

"Oh, yeah?  Tell me."

She drew a deep breath, hesitant to tell him about the Christmas she remembered.  It wasn't that she thought he'd laugh at her.  She knew better, didn't she?  It was just that the memory—all her memories, really—of that time and of that place tended to reopen wounds deep down; wounds that she'd rather leave alone . . . "There was one year," she heard herself saying, "my mother got me one of those silly little makeup kits.  Probably only cost a buck or two, who knows?"  She shook her head but smiled a little wanly.  "Who cares?  My father said that I was pretty—almost as pretty as my mother . . ."

Evan snorted.  "I find it hard to believe that there's woman on earth who is prettier than you."

"You don't get hero-points," she scoffed as her cheeks pinked up.  "Just so you know."

He laughed and tugged her over against him.  She didn't fight him.  "I'm glad you have good memories," he said in a strangely sad tone of voice.  "You deserve them."

She wasn't exactly sure what to make of Evan's quiet mood.  It was almost as though there was something sad below the surface of his calm façade.  Maybe he was trying to make sense out of what he perceived to be his own messed-up childhood, such as it was.  Again it struck her that it didn't much matter if Evan had grown up here or in some run-down trailer in the middle of the Kentucky hills.  If he didn't understand things he'd seen through the skewed perception of a child, then she couldn't really explain it to him any better than he could.

But it was Christmas, wasn't it?  And Christmas was simply not a time to get lost in the confusion of childish memories, was it?  It was with that in mind that Valerie cleared her throat and turned to face him.  "It's almost midnight, you know."

"Is it?"

She nodded.  "Which means it's almost Christmas."

He smiled just a little.  "Is it?"

"Mmm . . . Which means that we could open presents . . . If you wanted to, that is . . ."

Evan chuckled.  "Ah, beautiful and materialistic . . . Two traits I absolutely love in my women," he quipped.

"Unless you'd rather wait," she challenged.

He laughed again but got up and strode over to the Christmas tree.  It took him less time to locate their gifts than it should have, and when he returned to the sofa, she snorted.  "You've already been at this, haven't you?" she asked in a rather accusing tone of voice.

Evan shrugged but didn't deny it.  "I haven't opened it to peek, if that's what you mean."

Wrinkling her nose, Valerie made a face.  "At least pretend like you like my gift," she warned him.  "I know it's a little stupid . . ."

"Stupid gifts are the best kind," he told her.  "Anyway, I have to confess, this isn't your real gift."

That earned him a raised eyebrow.  "What?  Are you telling me that you forgot my present back in the city?"

"I didn't forget it," he assured her simply.  "It was just too big to haul all the way out here.  That's all."

For some reason, his statement worried her.  "You didn't get me another car, did you?"

He laughed.  "Nope, but I would've if you'd mentioned that you wanted another one."

"I don't," she insisted, shaking her head stubbornly.  "I like the one you got me just fine."

"Glad to hear it," he told her with a wink.  "I mean, the next step up would be a limo or something, and, while I don't think you'd mind it so much, Bone's driving does take a little getting used to."

"All right; all right.  Hand over my present," she said.

Evan laughed again but handed over the neatly wrapped package.  "Such pretty paper," she commented with a smile seconds before she ripped into it unmercifully.

"It's not what's in the package, but how it's wrapped," he told her.

She giggled then rolled her eyes when she opened the box, only to find a coconut shell bikini top and grass skirt.  "Oh, you've got to be kidding," she muttered.

"Hell, no!" he told her with a goofy grin.  "I fully expect to see you wear that while you dance for me."

"When pigs fly, Roka," she shot back dryly.  "Some present this is!"

He leaned in and kissed her cheek before she could stop him.  "It's not your real present; I told you."

"Good thing," she retorted.  "So what did you really get for me?"

"Can't tell you," he informed her.  "Just wait till we get back to the city."

She shot him a doleful look, designed to let him know exactly what she thought of that idea.  He laughed and tore the paper on his gift.  His laughter died away, however, as he opened the box, and try as she might, she couldn't help the livid blush that surfaced in her cheeks as he slowly, carefully lifted out the guitar strap she'd bought for him.  "Wow," he said, his voice quiet, almost awestruck.  "This is for me?"

"Well, unless you know another Evan Zelig," she muttered, ducking her chin, hoping that he couldn't see the acute embarrassment on her face.  She'd looked, hadn't she?  She'd searched for weeks to find something to get for him for Christmas.  A million things had crossed her mind, and every one of those things had seemed stupid, almost insignificant.  Then she'd just happened to be passing a small leather shop just down the street from her apartment.  The smell of the place that wafted out the doors when someone had stepped out of there had drawn her in, and as she'd looked around, she'd seen it: a simple fawn colored leather guitar strap with black metal tooling, and the man behind the counter had told her that he could personalize it, too.  It didn't bear his name, no, but it did have his initials in fine, hand tooled script that was much prettier than the usual western block-style lettering that most places like that seemed to favor . . . "You promised you'd pretend to like it," she reminded him, fidgeting slightly in the silence that had fallen.

"It's beautiful, V," he said quietly.  "Thank you."

"Let's not go overboard," she grumbled, more at his hushed tone than his words.  "I couldn't think of anything else—anything that you didn't already have . . ."

"No, it's beautiful," he insisted once more.  "I love it."

She sighed.  "It seems really stupid," she ventured after a moment, "especially after you brought me here . . . showed me how Christmas is supposed to be . . ."


She shook her head to stop him, her fingers reaching out, tracing his initials carved deep into the leather.  "I always thought that Christmases like these were only things you saw on television.  The perfect family, the happiness that seems so fake on TV . . . It's been my best Christmas, ever," she admitted simply.  "If I live to be a hundred, I think I'll remember this year forever . . ."

And maybe it was the unconscious thought that nagged her in the back of her mind; the subliminal realization that the love she felt surrounding her, even if it wasn't directed at her, was something special, an elusive thing that she might never have realized existed, that brought tears to her eyes, a hitch in her breathing.  Surely she'd have satisfying holidays in the years to come, so, why . . .?  Why did the idea of holidays spent in the quiet solitude of the apartment she called 'home' seem so . . .?

"Aw, hey," Evan said softly, cutting through her bittersweet thoughts as he grasped her shoulder and pulled her close against his chest.  "Why are you crying?"

"I . . . I don't know," she muttered, too miserable to try to explain it, too confused to try to put the feelings into words.  "This Christmas has been so . . . so perfect . . . Nothing's supposed to be this perfect, is it?"

"Depends on whether or not you want it to be, V," he mused, that sad note back in his voice once more as he stroked her back, as he sighed so softly that it couldn't be heard; it could only be felt as she huddled against him, sniffling like a baby but unable to stop herself, either.  "I tell you what: I'll make it my personal mission to make sure that every Christmas is perfect for you.  How's that?"

The ridiculousness of his statement surprised her—and so did the rough little laugh that slipped from her.  Such a hopeless sort of promise, but somehow, a part of her believed him, too.  At least, a part of her believed his intention.  He meant everything he'd ever promised her on some level.  Too bad feelings changed over time, and even the best of intentions were sometimes left, stranded by the wayside.  It wasn't anyone's fault, not really.  It was just the way things happened to be . . .

"You laugh at me now," he went on in that easygoing way of his, "but we'll see who's laughing in fifty years when I ask you what Christmas was your favorite, and you can't decide because they've all been great."

"You're such a dreamer, Roka," she maintained with a shake of her head.  "A dreamer with a beautiful soul . . ."

He sat up a little straighter, stared at her in the wan and wavering light of the fire with an intensity behind his gaze that stilled her tongue, but it was the hint of a blush that just barely kissed his skin that captivated her, that made her reach out, brushing the hair out of his eyes, only to let her fingertips linger against his cheek. So many thoughts that she didn't dare voice, so many half-formed desires . . .

Yet it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to lean up, to kiss him.  The touch of his lips against hers, the warmth, the unspoken understanding touched her, made her feel bolder when she wanted to retreat.  The crush of his arms around her, holding her close, as though he were afraid that she'd disappear if he let her go.

His gentleness moved her, the softness as his lips lingered, caressing hers, but there was no hesitation, no reluctance on his part. He gave her control of the kiss, didn't he?  Letting her set the pace and allowing her to take whatever she wanted . . .

Her hands slipped beneath the hem of his shirt, her palms pressed against the solid muscle of his chest.  He sucked in a sharp breath when her hands flattened against him but did little more than an unconscious drawing her closer, as his lips parted in silent invitation.

She could taste the beer on his breath.  It was tempered by something sweeter, far headier.  Leaning into him, she barely noticed when he fell back, dragging her down with him as a low moan, a shudder, rippled through him.  His skin was burning under her touch.  She understood that well enough.  Something deep inside her felt as though it was on fire, too . . .

Hands sinking into her hair, he held her face gently as he kissed her lips, her cheek, her nose.  The unyielding tenderness in his very touch was enough to bring tears to her eyes again.  He kissed those away, too, mumbling things that she couldn't discern through the haze of fog that had enveloped her brain.  A far away voice in the back of her mind whispered to her; a vague familiarity that felt like coming home . . .

A loud throat clearing interrupted the moment, slamming through her bemusement with all the finesse of a fire alarm.  Jerking upright, she stifled a groan as her wild gaze lit on Cain, standing just inside the doorway with an inscrutable look on his face.  Evan was a little slower to react, pushing himself up on his elbow and craning his neck to peer over at his father.  "Ah, Cain," he muttered, looking more and more irritated by the second.  "Thought you went to bed."

Cain sighed, rubbing his forehead for a moment.  "Just came down to get a drink for your mother," he explained, his voice giving away nothing, as pleasant as he might have been if he were discussing the weather.  "You've got a bedroom, you know—two of them, actually."

Valerie felt her cheeks explode in darker color at the implication of Cain's words.  "Says the guy who corners Mama wherever and whenever he feels like it," Evan grumbled back.

Cain pretended not to have heard him as he moved away from the arch and through the living room.  "If you don't get to bed, Santa won't come, and if Santa doesn't show up, I'll be sure to tell Bailey and Olivia why."

To her surprise, Evan actually broke into a grin.  "All right, all right," he called after his father.  "Wouldn't want that, now would we?"

Smiling weakly when Evan winked at her, Valerie didn't quite trust herself to speak, but she did let Evan take her hand and tug her out of the room and toward the stairs.

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Caught< /b> Up in You' originally appeared on .38 Special's 1982 release, Special Forces.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jim Peterik, Jeff Carlisi, and Don Barnes.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Lennex ——— Dark Inu Fan ——— Cricket24 ——— theadarkslayer ——— monkeyseemonkeynodo
cutechick18 ——— mangaluva ——— mad hatter ——— indigorrain
Thought from Evan:
Damn that Cain, anyway
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 124
Chapter 126
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