InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Coming Home ( Chapter 127 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'< i>So tired that I couldn't even sleep …
'So many secrets I couldn't keep
'Promised myself I wouldn't weep
'One more promise I couldn't keep …'

-'Runaway Train' by Soul Asylum.

-Valerie-


"So where's my real present?" Valerie asked as Evan carried her bag up the steps of her apartment building.

"Patience, woman.  Haven't you heard the phrase, 'Good things come to those who wait'?" he asked.  "Damn . . . What the hell did you pack in here?  The kitchen sink or something?"

She snorted as she leafed through the small mountain of mail she'd picked up from the security guard on duty.  "Suck it up, Roka.  You're the one who is always trying to tell me what a man you are, aren't you?  So be a man and don't complain about the weight of my suitcase."

"Stuck my mama in here, didn't you?" he teased, ignoring her warning completely.  "Liked her cooking, so you decided to kidnap her, right?"

"Your mother's cooking was fantastic—and highly fattening, I suspect.  I'm going to have to go back on a strict diet, starting right now . . ."

"Aw, to hell with that," Evan scoffed.  "You could stand to put on a few pounds, anyway."

Stopping abruptly, Valerie whirled around to face him, narrowing her eyes when she realized that he'd also stopped—and was leaning back to get a better view of her ass.  When she caught him, he grinned like a lunatic.  That just figured, didn't it?  "I'll have you know that I work hard to keep my body in shape," she pointed out haughtily, "and you've never said that I needed to pack on a few pounds before."

Evan chuckled and shot her that lopsided grin of his.  "I never said you needed to do any such thing," he replied.  "I said that it would be all right if you did; that's all."

"Shows what you know, Roka," she grumbled.  "I happen to like looking good—not for some man, but for me."

"Nice speech, baby," he shot back.  "I almost believed you.  Almost."

"You're just jealous because I'm not trying to look good for you," she replied airily.

"Of course you are, V," he insisted as he followed her down the hallway toward her apartment.  "You're my rock goddess, and rock goddesses always look good.  It's a requirement . . . Oh, hey!  You want to come with me later?"

"Where are you going?"

"Eh, I have to go down to the venue and talk to some of the techs about the New Year's Eve concert.  You can hang on my arm like the eye-candy that you are while I discuss my best lighting angles and shit."

"Oh," she deadpanned, her voice completely flat.  "Sounds like a blast."

"Don't be like that," he said, poking her in the side.

She jerked away and almost collided with the wall.  "Quit it, you pest."

He did it again.  She giggled.

"Ah, you're ticklish!" he said, launching a couple rapid-fire pokes.

"Dork!  Stop it!" she growled between giggles—completely ineffective, but cute, nonetheless.

"All this from the woman who kept trying to make me wreck on the way home," he retorted, poking her yet again.

"I wasn't trying to—stop it, Roka—make you wreck," she corrected, unable to keep herself from giggling the entire time.  "I was—I mean it, buddy—just reading you that stupid—I'm warning you—sign."

He laughed.  She'd seen a billboard beside the highway that was touting a place called Rogers' Crab Bucket with the tag line, 'We got crabs!' that had set her off into an hour long discourse on the wrong-ness of that particular claim.  He'd been laughing so hard that he'd nearly veered off the road a few times, and in the end, he'd had to pull over until the amusement of it all had run its course.

"I'm going to buy that billboard just for you," he teased as she pressed her thumb against the identilock pad.  It took her a few tries since he kept poking her in the sides whenever she tried to unlock the door.  She got it on the fourth try after she'd turned around and smacked him in the center of his chest as hard as she could despite the giggling.

"Abuse!  Abuse!  Where're the cops when you need 'em?" he complained as he clutched his chest melodramatically with his free hand.

"Oh, please!" she replied with a loud snort.  "As if!  I've seen you take harder hits from your brother, you know!  Drama queen . . ."

"Hey!  Watch who you're calling a queen, woman!"

"Well, if the shoe fits," she retorted sweetly.

"Valerie!  Hi!"

Evan's statement died on his lips before it came out as the two of them turned around.  "M-M-Marvin . . ." Valerie stammered, unable to do more than blink as her errant fiancé hurried over and grasped her hands to pull her down so that he could kiss her cheek.  "What are you doing here?"

He smiled broadly at her.  "Ah, well, they finally got the runways cleared enough to allow takeoff.  The plans I'd made for the next week fell through, and I thought I'd fly in and surprise you.  So here I am."

"Yeah," she said, hoping that the smile on her face wasn't as thin and brittle as it felt—and hoping against hope that Evan wasn't going to be completely obnoxious.  "Oh, Marvin, you remember Evan, right?"

Marvin blinked and turned to face Evan, his bashful but friendly smile widening.  "Zelig," he said, extending his hand.  "We met at that fundraiser a few months ago.  How's your mother?"

Was it just Valerie's imagination or was Evan really that good at covering his emotions?  She frowned as the men shook hands since the man in question was smiling in a friendly kind of way, and if he had any less-than-upstanding thoughts running through his mind, he didn't show it in the least.  "She's just fine," Evan replied.  "How's your research going?  Neuroblastoma, if memory serves."

"Uh, yeah," Marvin replied, his smile growing even wider as the light in his eyes brightened, and no wonder.  She'd seen it herself, hadn't she?  Most people who weren't in the medical field didn't often recall Marvin's area of research.  That Evan did spoke volumes, didn't it?  But . . .

"I certainly hope that you get the funding for it," Evan went on.  "It's a very worthy cause."

Marvin couldn't have looked more pleased, could he?  And Evan?  He was behaving himself quite admirably—almost too admirably, given how well she knew that man.  So why was the knot in Valerie's stomach growing larger and larger by the second?  "It is," he agreed quite happily.  "It really is . . . and I wanted to thank you, too," he went on.  "I felt so bad when I got stuck before Christmas, but it was such a relief to know that Val wasn't going to spend it alone."

She didn't miss the quick look that Evan shot her over Marvin's head.  The smile was still on his face, sure, but there was a trace tightness at the corners of his eyes that belied his calm façade.  "As long as she had a good time," he replied, his tone growing more and more polite by the second.  "Hey, I've got to get going.  You two . . . Well, have a nice visit."

"Oh, wait," Marvin blurted quickly, stepping forward to stop Evan.  "Why don't you stay for a while?  We could go get something to eat or—"

"Sorry," Evan interrupted with a rueful smile.  "I had some things I had to do, but thank you for the invitation.  See you, V."

"B-Bye," she murmured, biting her lip as she hurried past Marvin to close the door behind Evan.  "Evan?"

He stopped on the threshold and glanced over his shoulder at her.  "Yes?"

Why was it so hard to smile?  She tried again and managed a little one.  "I really had a great time.  Thank you."

"Any time," he replied.  Then he stepped out of the apartment, closing the door quietly behind himself.

"You should have warned me," Marvin remarked with a chuckle.  "I almost didn't recognize him with all that hair . . ."

"Hair?" Valerie echoed a little stupidly.

"Yeah.  It was short at the fundraiser, wasn't it?"

"Oh, that . . . He, um . . . He let it grow out."

Marvin thought that over and shrugged.  "Well, I guess when you have as much money as the Zelig family does, it doesn't matter how you keep your hair, right?"

He'd meant it as a joke, and Valerie knew it.  So why did Marvin's statement irritate her?

'Stop it!' she chided herself firmly. 'It's Marvin—the man you're going to marry, remember?  Of course, that's all up in the air now, isn't it?  Considering you didn't feel any qualms about kissing Evan on Christmas Eve . . .'

She snorted at her own thoughts.  Of course she was going to marry Marvin.  Christmas Eve with Evan . . . That was just a slip up, nothing more.  Caught up in the moment.  That's all it was . . . Not a big deal, right?

'So if it wasn't a big deal, then are you going to tell Marvin about it?'

Tell Marvin . . .? She sighed.  Would it really do any good to tell him?  After all, it'd just hurt his feelings, of course it would, and she had no intention of repeating the incident, now did she?  So would there really be a point in upsetting Marvin so much?

'That's convenient, isn't it?  Trying to put a nice face on it, are you?'

'That's not it, at all.  It shouldn't have happened.'

'Should or shouldn't, what does it matter?  And don't think I didn't realize it.'

'Realize what?'

The inner voice snorted indelicately.  'That you didn't tell Evan that it was a mistake, either.'

Still . . .

"I'm kind of jealous," Marvin went on, oblivious to Valerie's rising upset.  "I mean, you got to spend Christmas with that family?  Bet it was spectacular."

"It was nice," she agreed reluctantly.  "His family is really nice . . ."

Marvin picked up the mail that Valerie had dropped and stacked it neatly on the edge of her desk.  "I've heard rumors that they live in as close to a castle as there is in the United States," he ventured.  "Ron O'Reilly's wife said that they've approached the family a few times to do an article on their home in The Northeastern, but they always decline."

"I don't know if I'd compare it to a castle," Valerie murmured, rubbing her arms through the thick fabric of her sweater.

Marvin chuckled.  "The whole family is practically royalty, you know.  I mean, if we had royalty here, that is . . ."

"They're just people," Valerie insisted.  "Very nice people."

"I bet it was pretty impressive, though," Marvin added with a grin.

"I suppose," she agreed.  "Maine was nice."

He laughed and handed her a glass of wine.  She hadn't realized he'd poured it.  "Are you okay?" he asked.  "I mean, you keep saying that everything was 'nice' . . ."

Shrugging off the coat that she'd just remembered she was wearing, Valerie forced a smile as she hung it in the closet.  "Oh, I'm just a little tired, I guess," she said.  "Too much excitement or something . . ."

He stared at her for a long moment, stuffing one hand in his pocket as he slowly lifted the glass of wine to his lips.  "Your present!" he suddenly exclaimed as he hurried out of the living room to grab the gift out of his bag.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie frowned.

What on earth was wrong with her?  She ought to be glad, shouldn't she?  That Marvin had wanted to spend New Year's was very sweet.

Pushing the closet door closed with her hip, Valerie rubbed her forehead.  He just surprised her; that was all.

"I tried to call you on Christmas day," Marvin remarked as he strolled back into the living room once more.  "Left a message on your voicemail.  Guess you must've missed it."

Valerie grimaced.  She had missed it, or maybe she was dressed up as a giant elf at the time.  "Sorry," she said, striding over to retrieve the present she'd bought for Marvin.  She'd taken it out of her bag before heading off to Maine with Evan . . .

"Oh, it's all right," he assured her with a good-natured smile.  "Merry Christmas, even if it is a couple days late."

"Thanks," she said, extending the gift she'd bought for him.  "Merry Christmas to you, too."  


-Evan-


'Fucked up, needle dicked, pansy-assed . . .'

'Calling him names isn't really gonna change anything, now is it?'

'But why the hell did he have to show up and ruin everything?'

'He didn't . . . just a minor setback; that's all.'

'Yeah, whatever, and why the hell are you so calm?  Right now, that little prick could be over there trying to put the moves on our woman, and you're acting like it's nothing.'

Evan sighed and tried to ignore the rantings of his youkai voice.

"Are you listening to a thing I've said, Roka?" Mike asked, frowning at Evan's lack of attention.

"Yeah, sure," he said, reaching for his bottle of water.  "Everything's ready to go, right?"

Mike didn't look entirely convinced that Evan had heard him.  Heaving a sigh, he shook his head.  "You're a million miles away.  Something happen in Maine I should know about?"

"Nah, I'm good," he assured him with a grin.  "Don't tell me you spent your entire holiday here, did you?  Christmas is for family, Mikey."

"Someone had to keep the wheels turning, you know.  Besides, the wife was here with me, and it was very nice."

Evan snorted.  "Bet she'd have rather been back home.  Hope you got her some nice jewelry or something."

Mike finally smiled.  "Took her shopping on Christmas Eve and bought her everything she wanted—and then some."

"Nice," Evan said, his grin widening.  No, he didn't suppose that Mrs. Mike missed a damn thing . . . "Ran into Miss and Daniel."

"Oh?  How's she holding up?"

"Not bad," Evan assured him.  "Said she's looking to buy a house there.  Probably for the best."

Mike nodded, his gaze shifting out the darkened window of the limousine.  "Probably."

He didn't sound entirely convinced.  Still, Evan couldn't help but feel that Miss' choice really was the best one she could've made.  After all, she'd be closer to people who could help her if worse came to worst.  Bas had even invited Miss and Daniel over to visit since the boys had seemed to hit it off at the children's hospital.

Everything was fine—great, even.  Maybe better than 'great' . . .

Everything except V's unexpected visitor, that was . . .

Maybe he should've stayed there, kept an eye on things so Marvin didn't get any stupid ideas.  It had only taken him about ten seconds to realize his mistake after leaving Valerie's apartment.  Then again, he'd been dangerously close to losing his temper as it was.  It wouldn't do, would it, to beat the crap out of the guy just on principle.

And worse?  If Evan were to be completely honest, he'd have to admit that Marvin really wasn't a bad sort—a little misguided, maybe, and he could use some work in setting his priorities straight, sure.  Nice enough, maybe, but he just wasn't the right guy for Valerie, and Evan knew that because he was, damn it.

He'd even started to think that he was making headway during Christmas.  She'd had the time of her life; he knew she had.  He'd taken her with him to show her what a real family Christmas was, and he'd done that.  He'd hoped that she'd realize that it was something she wanted, too.

He sighed again, watching as the streets of New York City crept past.  Maybe he was reading too much into it.  After all, it wasn't like he'd really expected that she'd dump good ol' Marvin on sight and certainly not in front of him, now did he?  Even if she had a mind to do it, she certainly wouldn't if Evan was there.

That was one of the reasons that he'd left, wasn't it?  She'd break it off with Marvin because she had to know that she didn't belong with him now, right?

'Right,' he told himself, shaking himself out of the gloom he'd carried ever since he'd left Valerie's apartment.  She'd call him in a day or two to tell him that she'd decided that Marvin was just not the right guy for her, and Evan?  He'd try his damndest not to gloat or anything.  He'd assure her that even if she hated to hurt the little twerp, it would all be for the better.  She'd be free to be with him, and Marvin could spend his time, devoting himself to his research, maybe find a hopelessly boring girl—maybe a librarian—settle down in some equally boring suburb, and Evan?   He smiled to himself just a little.  Then Evan would be able to tell her about his heritage—tell her why he knew damn well what 'forever' really meant.  And then?

'And then I'll spend the rest of my life making that woman smile every day.'

It was a promise that he fully intended to keep.


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Runaway Train' first appeared on Soul Asylum's 1992 release, Grave Dancers' Union.  Song written by and copyrighted to David Pirner.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Reviewers
==========
MMorg
theablackthorn ——— lilswtheart9811 ——— OROsan0677 ——— monkeyseemonkeynodo ——— sunshine161820 —— Wheretheliliesblow (No, his story isn't next, but there are a few lengthy teasers in my forum for that story!) ——— darkangel05
==========
Forums
lianned88 ——— cutechick18 ——— Mangaluva ——— marie ——— sueroxmysox ——— Shiratsuki ——— indigorrain ——— Kendall hearts ——— GoodyKags
==========
Final
Thought from Valerie:
What asurprise
==========
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 126
Chapter 128
« Fanfic Author Profile »
« Other FanFics By This Author »
« Add Author to Favorites »

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