InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Distraction ( Chapter 141 )

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


'I'm a real smooth dancer; I'm a fantasy man
'Master of Illusion; magic touch in my hand
'All the stages are empty when I steal the scenes
'A beggar of love; second hand hero; king of dreams …'

-'King of Dreams' by Deep Purple


"Four of the pomegranates, please," Evan leaned in to order from the young girl tending the booth in the noisy open-air market.  "Oh, and a grapefruit," he added, pausing long enough to wink at Valerie as she lifted one of the citrus fruits to her nose.

She smiled, unable to help herself.  He was being a little incorrigible this morning.  "You're the only person I know who actually likes to shop for groceries," she remarked after he'd thanked the girl and stuck the fruit into the basket he was carrying.

"Yeah, not something I get to do too often, you know?" he said.  "Too much going on usually."  There was no regret in his tone, merely a simple matter-of-factness.  She supposed that she could understand his sentiments.

"So who usually does your grocery shopping then?"

He shrugged.  "Depends.  Usually, it's the maid, but a lot of stuff is just delivered anyway, like the meat I feed the dogs."

She rolled her eyes, mostly because, Evan's family aside, she'd never actually met anyone who cooked meals for their pets.  She'd seen firsthand what he fed his dogs.  They usually got better cuts of meat and fresher vegetables than most other people served their families on a regular basis.  "You know, you could always get them canned food or something," she pointed out, tugging the sunglasses off her head and slipping them onto her face.

"Yeah, I could," he agreed easily enough.  "I don't mind cooking for them, though."

"Speaking of your dogs," she went on, wrinkling her nose since she was still convinced that those little beasts were still just waiting for their chance to eat her, "where are they now?"

"Uh, Bubby's got 'em," he said.  "He'll bring them back after I get home from the show in Germany."  He stopped suddenly and shot her a sly glance.  "You should come with me, V.  Ever been to Europe?"

For the briefest of moments, Valerie's heart soared.  Go with him to Europe?  Was he kidding?  She'd always wanted to go there . . . Then reality rudely intruded, and she sighed.  "Isn't that coming up really soon?"

He nodded.  "Yep."

"I can't," she said with a deflated air.  "I've got court appointments."

He shrugged.  "So petition for a continuance."

She snorted loudly and leveled a look at him.  "And you think that the judges would think that was all right?  That I want to postpone the cases just so I can go running off to Europe with Zel Roka?"

He pondered that for a moment then sighed.  "Yeah, you're probably right," he allowed though he sounded pretty disappointed.  "Eh, I guess it won't matter, anyway.  I probably won't have enough time to do much sightseeing, anyway."

Valerie frowned but didn't say anything.  He'd said that before, hadn't he?  How many times had he toured around the world, and really, how much of the world had he actually gotten to see?  Even during his mini-tour, he hadn't gotten to do much.  It seemed pretty unfair, actually.  She wasn't sure if it was worse to have never traveled to any place exotic or to have been there but not been able to go see it . . .

Evan stopped at another stand.  This one offered a collection of different nuts and berries.  As he looked over the produce, Valerie blinked and looked down when a beat up looking soccer ball bumped into her foot.

"Is this yours?" she asked, nudging the ball toward the little boys who were standing nearby looking rather bashful.

The largest of them nodded, and she smiled as she tapped it back with her toe.

The children giggled and ran away without a word.  She shook her head as her smile widened.

"There you go again.  Flirting with all the boys," Evan teased.

Valerie turned and giggled.  "Is that what I was doing?"

"Of course you were," he replied lightly, leading the way back onto the wide path.  "Don't worry about it.  You can't help it.  You're just one of those girls who was born to flirt."

She rolled her eyes but laughed, mostly because she really wasn't.  In fact, she had to admit that she'd never been particularly good with that skill at all . . .

But it didn't really matter.  What did, in her opinion, was that Evan seemed to be very relaxed—more relaxed than he had been since they'd returned from Maine.  It was nice to see him that way—and she had to admit that it was a huge relief, too.  That's what she'd feared, wasn't it?  She'd worried that he wouldn't be able to loosen up and really enjoy the rest of his vacation if she stayed, even after he'd asked her to do so.

'Strange really,' she thought as she watched him haggle with a chubby man over the price of some vegetables.  Why did it seem like she was seeing him in a wholly different kind of light the last few days?  She'd known it before, but maybe she'd taken it for granted, how easily he smiled, how it never seemed feigned or forced.  As quick to start a conversation with a vendor in the open-air market as he was to talk to a perfect stranger at an expensive restaurant, he just had a way with people, didn't he?

"Check this out," he said as he strode back over to her once more.  "I got a great deal on these!"

She laughed at the complete excitement in his expression.  "They're vegetables, Roka," she reminded him.

"I know, but you love veggies, right?  You'll see."

"Yeah, but aren't you buying a little too much?  We've only got a couple more days here," she pointed out.

"All the more reason to cook up a feast," he informed her with a grin.  "Damn, I wish we could hang out here longer."

"I wish we could stay here until winter's over," she remarked.  "I'm so not looking forward to going back home . . ."

Evan chuckled and led the way toward the dock where he could buy the freshest seafood on the island.  "It's kind of stinky over this way," he mused as they walked.  "If you want to go have a drink or something, I'll come find you when I'm done."

"If you can take it, I can, too, Roka," she assured him.  "Just bring it."

He laughed and shook his head but didn't say anything else as they stepped onto the long dock where the fishermen had anchored their boats with the morning's catch.

Okay, so he was right.  There was a very prevalent smell of fish.  Some of the boats held fish that they were busy cleaning and packing down in ice, and the entrails that they were dropping into buckets were likely the cause of the foul stench.  Glancing at Evan, she was a little surprised to see him covering his nose and mouth, and while he kept his gaze straight ahead, he'd also quickened his pace quite a bit.

The first boat he stopped at was upwind of the majority of the smell.  "Hey!  If it isn't baby Zelig!"

Evan grinned and waved at the weather-worn man who hopped up onto the rigging and shot Evan a cheeky smile.  "Fancy seeing you down here," Evan greeted.  "How've you been, you old coot?"

The man laughed and shook his head.  "Ah, you know.  Got too cold up north for the missus."

"She's still putting up with you?" Evan asked.  "Figured she'd have tossed you out by now.  Does she still make those oatmeal cookies?"

Grabbing a waterproof canvas bag, he tossed it to Evan with a chuckle.  "Don't eat 'em all like you did when you were a little shit.  You always ate 'em all and never would share with Maddy," he warned, shaking a finger sternly.  His gaze shifted to Valerie, though, and his already broad grin widened.  "Who's the pretty lady?  Don't tell me she's running around with a tramp like you."

Evan laughed and grabbed Valerie's hand to pull her forward a step.  "This is my attorney, Valerie Denning.  V, this wily bastard is an old family friend, Duncan Hoss.  Ol' Hoss usually fishes off the coast of Maine—one of the best boatmen on the water.  Taught me everything I know—about sailing, anyway."

"Pleased to meet you," Valerie said, leaning forward far enough to shake the man's hand.

Hoss rolled his eyes.  "Which ain't much, I'm sure.  That boy's been full of piss and vinegar since the first day I chased him out of my yard."  Pushing his hat back, he scratched his head thoughtfully.  "Couldn't have been more 'n, what?  Three?  Four?  Damned little shit . . ."

Evan grinned unrepentantly.  "He lived on the hill near Cain's place.  Had this great old oak tree that hung over the short cliff?  All the kids used to love to swing off this rope that hung from the branches, out over the water . . ."

"It sounds dangerous," she pointed out with a raised eyebrow.  Evan's grin widened.

Hoss chuckled.  "Always was fearless—or stupid.  Maybe both, come to think on it . . ."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever," Evan grumbled, cheeks pinking slightly despite the grin on his face.  "So what'd you bring in today?  Anything edible?"

"Had a good haul today," he told Evan proudly.  "Lobster—not as nice as the ones up home, but pretty damn decent."

"How about a couple of those?" Evan asked.

Hoss hollered over for one of his crewmen to bring a couple lobsters over for them.  The man packed them into a beat up old Styrofoam cooler and handed it over.

"How much?" Evan asked as he took the cooler.

Hoss snorted indelicately and waved a hand.  "Your money ain't no good to me, brat.  Make sure you cook those right, now."

Evan laughed.  "Yeah, I know.  Salt water only," he replied.  "Tell Ma I'm sorry I missed her."

"Yep," he called back, giving a wide wave as he turned to lumber back over toward the far side of the boat.

Evan chuckled as he turned away from the boat.  "Can't believe he was down here," he remarked.  "Small world I guess . . ."

She smiled as they made their way back down the dock.  "So you've always been a hellion."

"Naw . . . Well, maybe a little . . ."

She shook her head and reached over to take the basket since he was carrying the cooler, too.  The thought of Evan sneaking into a neighbor's yard, just to jump out of the tree?  Stealing a glance at the man beside her, she let out a deep breath and smiled.  Somehow, that didn't surprise her in the least.


"I'm starving."

Glancing up from her bowl of fruit salad, Valerie didn't look impressed by Evan's claim.  "You're not starving," she informed him, "and if you are, I did offer to share this with you."

He heaved a long-suffering sigh that should have made her feel bad as he flopped back against the pillows piled on the mattress and reached for his eBook reader.  "To think, I could have had lobster tonight . . . Hey, V?"

"Hmm?" she intoned, burying her nose in the slim-file in her lap as she stuck another bite of fruit into her mouth.

Evan peered over the eBook reader at her.  "Tell me again why I'm not eating lobster right now?"

"Because you wanted to return them to their little lobster-y family."  She didn't even bat an eyelash.  'Damn, she's goo-o-o-ood . . .'

He snorted loudly.  "Keh!  You're the one who wanted to return them to their lobster-y family," he pointed out.  "If you hadn't gotten all weepy—"

"I didn't do anything of the sort," she stated quite haughtily.

"'Ooh, but what if they have little lobster-y babies, Evan?  What if they're waiting for these lobsters to come ho-o-ome?'" he said in a high falsetto meant to imitate Valerie's voice.

She threw a pencil at him.  He ducked to avoid it.  "Jerk!  I didn't say that!"

He grinned and tossed the pencil back at her.  "Right, V, right . . ."

"I didn't," she stated once more.  "Don't throw pencils.  You'll put someone's eye out—like mine."

"You threw it first," he pointed out reasonably.

She rolled her eyes.  "If it hit you, you'd have had to move in front of it.  Anyway, I didn't say that," she went on.  "Ms. Lobster did."

He laughed.  He couldn't help it.  He supposed it might have been because she'd gotten bored during the ride back to the island, but she'd walked into the wheelhouse with the bigger of the two lobsters held up in front of her face—and then she'd made the lobster talk . . .

"You can't eat me," it said in a very girly tone.  Apparently Valerie had decided that it was a girl . . . "If you eat me, who'll take care of my twenty lobster-y babies?"

He snorted.  "Twenty?  Try more like twenty thousand for a lobster that size—if you're even a girl, that is."

"Hmph!  I kind of look like a girl, don't you think?  And that's beside the point!  Who'll take care of my babies if you eat me?" she demanded, waving a claw accusingly at him.

"But you'll taste so good with butter and maybe a sprinkling of chives . . ."

"It's entirely inhumane to cook me while I'm still alive," she pointed out.

"Eh, you won't feel a thing."

"I can't believe you're so cold," the lobster-V accused.  "I'll come back from my lobster-y grave and haunt you."

He chuckled.  "I love dreaming about my food.  Make sure you bring your lobster-y babies when you haunt me.  Midnight snack, you know."

Heaving a sigh, Evan slowly shook his head.  She'd finally talked him into setting the lobsters free about halfway home.  Considering it wasn't the first time she'd wanted to do that kind of thing, he figured he might as well consider the tasty crustaceans off the table indefinitely.  Of course, the first time she was very, very 'mellow', as she'd put it.  He would have said that she was mildly drunk.  She hadn't had a thing to drink this time, though, which meant that he'd likely never get to eat another lobster in her presence ever, ever again . . .

'That's all well and good, you know, but just remember, will you?  She wasn't impressed with your comment about making the babies your midnight snacks.'

'Aww, that wasn't V.  That was Ms. Lobster.'

His youkai snorted then sighed.  'I don't think that was a girl lobster, you know.'

'Yeah, but V thought it was, so whatcha gonna do?'

'I know; I know, but Zel?'


'We really are hungry as hell . . .'

That was true.  Unfortunately, there wasn't really anything substantial to eat, and even if he did eat some of Valerie's fruit salad or cooked up some of the vegetables, it wouldn't keep his belly full for long.  He blinked when Valerie set a bowl on his stomach.  He hadn't noticed when she'd gone over to get him some fruit.  "Thanks," he said, figuring that it was better than nothing.

She nodded and sat down on the edge of the bed.  "Sorry about the lobsters," she remarked despite the fact that she sounded anything but contrite.

Evan didn't comment on that as he dug into the food.

"It's just that they were looking at me," she went on.  "It's like they were begging me not to let you eat them with their beady little buggy eyes . . ."

"It's all right," he told her between bites.  "Just remind me the next time I think to get lobster to go ahead and get another form of protein."

She shook her head but didn't remark on that as she picked up the eBook reader that he'd set aside.  "So what are you—? Oh, my God!  What the hell is that?" she demanded, waving the reader in his general direction.

He almost laughed—almost.  Given that she looked completely disgusted at his choice of reading material, he figured that laughing in her face would be in poor taste, all things considered . . . "What?  That?  It's the latest issue of Fetish," he told her.

She made a face and started to set it down but must've thought better of it, because she lifted it closer and narrowed her eyes instead.  "That isn't even possible," she scoffed, turning the reader around to get a different perspective.  The page switched orientation, though, so she tilted her head to the side to compensate.

Evan reached over and pulled on her wrist so that he could see what she was looking at.  The picture made him grin since he'd been in the middle of a pictorial layout on contortionists.  The two in the image were caught in a pose that resembled a really raunchy version of naked Twister . . . "Nah, it's one hundred percent real.  It said that the girl's double jointed."

Valerie snorted and flipped the page. Apparently she thought it was worse, if the expression on her face meant anything at all.  "Photoshopped," she stated flatly, sticking the reader under his nose.

He laughed at her no-nonsense statement.  "Nah.  I mean, everything that shows up in Fetish has to be completely real."  He took the reader and glanced at the picture with a grin.  "Oh, damn . . . Don't suppose you could do that, could you?"

"Don't sound so hopeful, Roka," she shot back dryly.  "Besides, you'll never know, will you?"

He sighed.  "Why you gotta do me like that, V?" he complained.

She rolled her eyes.  "Why do you even have a subscription to a magazine like that?  Penthouse or Playboy, I could see, but that—"

"I get it for the articles," he deadpanned, blinking innocently at her.

She made a face.  "Like hell," she scoffed.

"No, really, they have some pretty good stories," he told her with a grin.  "With pictures, of course."

"Oh, now that explains a lot," she said.

His grin widened as he flicked through the pages to the start of the month's featured fiction.  "Here," he said, handing the reader back.  "This month's story's pretty good.  It's a love story."

She looked completely dubious.  "A love story?" she echoed.

"Yep," he told her with a grin.  "Just read it.  You'll see."

Valerie heaved a sigh but reluctantly took the reader from him.  Stretching out across the foot of the bed on her stomach with her heels kicked up and crossed at the ankles, she shot him another glance.  "This is going to scar me for life, isn't it?" she predicted.

Evan laughed.  "Nah," he assured her then shrugged.  "Well, maybe."

She still didn't look convinced, but she turned her attention to the eBook reader once more, and Evan stifled a sigh.

'You know, I blame you for that,' his youkai-voice grouched.

'For what?' he countered.

The voice snorted indelicately.  'Keh!  For ensuring that we're never going to get to see her cute little panties ever, ever again—or at least, not for a good, long while.'

Heaving a sigh as he sat back, Evan nodded slowly.  'Aww . . . I miss the panties.'

'I hate you,' his youkai concluded with a sigh of its own.  'I really, really hate you.'

'Yeah,' Evan allowed, staring at the cute little shorts covering the attorney's backside.  'I think I might, too . . .'

Valerie made a face but turned the page on the reader.  It was almost enough to make Evan laugh, and if he didn't already regret the argument, he would have started, if only because one of the things that Valerie had apparently decided that he was right about was the tee-shirt and panties she normally wore to bed, and didn't that just figure?  As if it wasn't bad enough that she'd also decided that she needed to hide as much of her body from his as she possibly could, she'd also decided that she needed to sleep on the floor, too, and Evan just didn't know how to convince her that it'd be okay if she shared the bed with him.  Damn his temper, anyway . . .

No doubt about it; she was a tough nut to crack.  But that was all right, too, wasn't it?  After all, he knew deep down that being with Valerie Denning really would be worth the wait in the end.

The silence in the room was comfortable, a completely welcome change from the tenseness that had grown between them directly after the fight.  As though neither of them was entirely sure just how to deal with the other, they had spent a day or so being overly polite, a little too accommodating.  That hadn't sat well with him in the least, but yesterday and today were much better in that respect.

'So when are you going to do it?' his youkai spoke up at length.

'Do what?' Evan asked with a confused little shake of his head since he wasn't entirely sure what the voice was talking about.

'Damn, you're stupid.  How the hell did I get stuck with an idiot like you, anyway?'

Snorting inwardly since he was pretty sure that his youkai was still grumbling about the idea that Valerie had decided to wear shorts, Evan reached for Valerie's eBook reader to see if she had anything interesting hidden on there.  'Just lucky, I guess.'

'Luck had nothing to do with it.  Now stop avoiding my question, will you?'

'I might if you'd tell me what you're talking about.'

His youkai sighed.  'About her father, moron.  When are you going to tell her about that?'

Evan grimaced.  It wasn't that he'd forgotten about that by any means, but if he told her now, all he'd succeed in doing would be to ruin what was left of their vacation.  Sure, she'd said that she'd broken all ties with her parents, going so far as to change her name and everything, and he knew that she generally tried not to think about them.  The trouble was, no matter what she'd said, he knew that she still loved them on some level.  Maybe it wasn't something she'd admit, and maybe she'd done a good job of convincing herself otherwise, but there was a part of her, no matter how badly she might want to deny it that was still the little girl who understood nothing as she'd watched her parents being arrested—the little girl who'd spent a more than a few Saturdays, standing at the door with her hands against the glass, watching and waiting for those parents to show up for visitation—waiting for the parents who never showed up.

And he had to admit that some small part of him had considered tossing the file that Bas had given him into the trash and burying the information that it contained.  Hadn't he already caused her enough pain, and even if that weren't an issue, did those people even deserve to occupy her mind for even a moment?  After everything they'd done to her, what right did they have to hurt her again?  Just how many times should they be given any chances to make things right with her?

He sighed.  If he really wanted to think that way, then how many chances should he get?  No, if anything, he couldn't help but feel a little ashamed of himself for even considering the idea of not telling her the truth.  If she wanted to confront them, then that was her choice.  If she didn't, he could understand that, too.  The thing was, it was ultimately her decision, wasn't it, and he really didn't have the right to keep it from her.

It went against everything he felt, though.  Knowing that it was going to cause her pain just went against the things that he was brought up to believe.  The youkai part of him wanted to shelter her, to protect her from anything that could harm her.  Or maybe that wasn't the youkai part at all.  Maybe it was the part of him that loved her . . .

"Evan?  Are you okay?"

Evan blinked and glanced at Valerie, who was staring at him with a thoughtful frown.  "Uh, fine," he told her quickly.  "You done reading?"

She didn't look like she believed him entirely, but she slowly nodded, apparently deciding that she wasn't going to get a different answer out of him, even if she pressed the issue—or maybe she wasn't quite ready to press anything with him just yet.  That thought made him grimace inwardly.  "You know, Roka, I thought you were twisted before," Valerie stated as she sat up and pinned him with a droll stare.  "Now I'm sure of it.  You call that a love story?"

Forcing back the bleak thoughts that had been running through his head, Evan smiled halfheartedly.  "It was," he insisted.  "I mean, the guy loved her all his life, but he never had the courage to tell her."

She snorted indelicately.  "So he steals her body from the morgue and then . . . then fornicates with her corpse?"

"It was really well written," he told her.

She rolled her eyes, looking entirely unimpressed.  "Okay," she admitted after a moment.  "It was well written—even if it was the most demented thing I think I've ever read."

"The same guy wrote a story a few issues ago that was really good, too.  It was about this guy who was living this double life: safe, happy, regular sex Monday through Friday, and then on the weekends, he'd go to this ranch where he got to act out his dreams with this goat named Nanna."

Valerie blinked as she continued to stare at him.  He had a feeling that she was trying to decide whether or not he was being serious.  "Why do you have a subscription to that magazine, anyway?" she finally demanded.

Evan chuckled.  "Deet used to get it, and I'd read it some, so he got me my own subscription for Christmas a few years ago."

She made a face.  "Oh, great.  Dieter got it for you.  Now you'll get that demented magazine for life, won't you?"

He didn't answer, but he did shrug and smile.  "The pictures were hot, right?  I mean, her skin was peeling off in the later ones."

She sighed—and looked vastly disturbed, probably because the pictures were all of the fictional man performing sexual acts with the corpse of his beloved.  "I'm going to have nightmares," she predicted.  "I just know it . . . Now I feel . . . dirty . . . and not in a good way, either."

He chuckled as she pushed herself off the bed and strode off toward the bathroom.  "Where you going, V?" he called after her.

"I feel the need to scrub myself from head to foot with a Brillo pad," she tossed back over her shoulder.  "Then maybe I'll purge my brain, too."

He couldn't help the grin that surfaced at her statements as she closed the bathroom behind herself.  Then he sighed.  Okay, so things weren't completely normal between them, was it?  But it wasn't as bad as it could have been, considering his colossal stupidity.  He'd get everything back on track.  It might just take a while . . .

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'King of Dreams' first appeared on Deep Purple's 1990 release, Slaves and Masters.  Song written by and copyrighted to Joe Lynn Turner, Roger Glover, and Ritchie Blackmore.
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Thought from Valerie:
What a monkey ...
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.