InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Last Day ( Chapter 142 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Let it rain
'Oh, let it rain down on me
'To hide the tears I'm cryin'
'So no one can see …'

-'Let it Rain' by Warrant.


-Valerie-


"Hmm, it seems like a bad omen."

Evan blinked and glanced down from the ceiling he was checking over for any signs of damage.  "What does?"

Sitting in the open doorway, Valerie nodded at the sky.  "That," she replied simply.  "I think it's the island's way of saying that it'll miss us."

He smiled and flipped himself over the beam, holding on with his hands until his body stopped swaying then dropped to the floor.  "Think so?" he asked, dusting the leather work gloves together and tugging them off before sinking down beside her.  He leaned forward to survey the steely skies and the rain falling in great gray sheets.  "Damn . . . Doesn't look like it's going to let up, does it?"

She turned her head to look at him and smiled ruefully.  "Guess going scuba diving today is out," she replied ruefully.  "I was looking forward to it, too."

Evan let out a deep breath and sank back on his haunches.  "Sorry about that," he mumbled, looking as though he was taking the weather as a personal affront.  "Some last day, huh?"

"Oh, I don't know," Valerie drawled, blowing a lock of hair out of her eyes.  It had escaped from the loose knot she'd twisted her hair up into when the air had turned muggy about an hour before the rain had started.  "It's nice and quiet, isn't it?"

He stared at her for a moment.  Then he reached out and gently tucked the hair behind her ear.  She could see the change in his expression almost instantly, too.  The darkening in his gaze, the sadness that rose up inside him . . . She'd seen that a few times in the last week, and she hated it—hated that he was still beating himself up over their fight.  The thing was, he never wanted to talk about it, either, and the times she'd asked him, albeit reluctantly, he'd just given her a wan little smile and said that he wasn't quite ready to talk about it yet . . .

She caught his wrist when his hand started to fall away and held on.  "Tell me what's bothering you?" she asked quietly, gently, struggling to attain a more neutral tone of voice in the hopes that it would encourage him to speak.  "Is . . . Is it about the . . . the fight . . .?"

He blinked and glanced at her quickly, almost guiltily.  "N-No . . . It's nothing," he replied, much to her dismay.  She'd figured he'd say that.  She was just hoping that he wouldn't . . .

Heaving a sigh, she let go of his hand and pushed herself to her feet, shuffling outside onto the porch to stare at the falling rain.  "You're still mad at me, aren't you?" she asked softly, quietly.  No, it was more of a statement than a question.

She heard him move, the shuffle of his jeans on the floor, the slight creak as he stood up.  She didn't hear him come up behind her, but she sucked in a sharp breath when his arms closed in around her waist, pulled her gently back against his chest.  "I'm not," he told her.  "I swear, I'm not.  If . . . If anyone should still be mad about all that, it's you."

"Don't be ridiculous," she mumbled, leaning against him for a moment—only a moment . . . Even as a gulf as wide as the ocean opened up between them.  She sighed.  "Then what's bothering you?  Can't you tell me?"  She heard him draw in a deep breath, and she knew what was going to come out of his mouth before he could say it.  "And don't tell me it's nothing," she cut in before he could utter the words.  There was only one thing she could think of, and as much as she hated to bring it up, if it would help him . . . If it could help him . . . "It's about . . ." she trailed off for a moment and swallowed hard as she steeled her resolve and stepped away so that she could turn and look him in the eye, so she could silently dare him to lie to her now.  "It's about those . . . those girls you were with, isn't it?  You don't really think I'm upset about that, do you?"

She was a little relieved, though, that he didn't look at her right then.  The truth of it was that the idea of Evan with those girls did still bother her despite her best efforts not to let it.  But it wouldn't do to let him see it, and she . . . Well, she didn't really have a right to be upset over that, anyway . . . Now if she could just convince herself of that, she'd be one step ahead of the game . . .

He looked genuinely surprised for a moment, and then he quickly shook his head.  "No," he told her, turning to lean back against the railing as he uttered a little laugh.  It wasn't exactly an amused sound.  If anything, it sounded a little sad.  "No," he stated once more.  His voice was stronger this time.  "It doesn't have anything to do with them."  Lifting his gaze to meet hers, he must've seen the uncertainty in her expression, and he shook his head.  "Honest.  It doesn't."

"If you want to talk about it, I . . . I'll listen," she told him.  Did she really want to hear it?  Probably not.  Would she be able to listen to him if he did choose to talk?  She'd find a way to do it.

"V," he said, casting her a no-nonsense look.  "Seriously, it has nothing to do with that."

Biting her lip, she nodded slowly.  Whatever it was, he really didn't want to tell her about it, and while part of her could understand that, she had to admit that it bothered her.  She'd thought—she'd hoped—that he'd feel comfortable enough to tell her things.  Maybe he would have before that fight, but now . . .?

'Do you really have the right to ask him anything, anyway?' the voice in the back of her head whispered.

No, maybe she didn't, but . . . but she wanted to.

He sighed and leaned back, holding onto the railing as he turned his gaze to the sky once more.  "Let me ask you something."

She blinked and glanced at him.  "Okay."

For a moment, she thought that he might have changed his mind.  As the silence stretched out into a minute, Valerie rubbed her forearms in an idle sort of way.  "If you found out something that might hurt someone, but it was important—really important . . . would you tell that person?  Or would you keep it to yourself so that it didn't hurt them?"

Eyebrows drawing together in a marked frown, Valerie wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about.  "I don't know.  I guess it would depend upon how important it is," she finally said.  "I mean, if it's something that would do a lot of harm and very little good, then maybe not, but if it was bigger than that . . ."

He heaved a sigh, his expression looking sad, lost, almost defeated, and he nodded.  "Yeah.  That's kind of what I figured, too."

Wandering over to sit beside him, Valerie held onto the railing and kicked her feet.  "So you really aren't going to tell me what's bothering you," she said quietly, carefully, hating to see that kind of expression on his face; hating it more than she cared to dwell upon.  "You don't have to; I know," she went on. "Will you promise me one thing though?"

Evan pulled himself upright again.  She could feel the intensity of his stare even though she didn't look to confirm it.

Drawing a deep breath—maybe she needed it to garner her courage; she didn't know—she studied the weathered boards of the porch instead.  "When we get back, will you at least talk to someone?  Maddy or Bone or . . . or your mother . . . just someone?  It's not healthy, right?  That's what they say.  If you keep things all bottled up inside you . . ." Trailing off, she gave a short, sad little laugh.  "Listen to me, right?  Like I'm any better about that than you are . . ."

He didn't reply right away.  They sat in silence, listening to the sound of the rain splattering down on the roof.  It was a comforting sound, wasn't it?  A dull sort of noise that felt somehow clean and somehow steady . . .

Letting out a deep breath, Evan pushed himself off the railing and grabbed her hand.  "Come on, V," he said suddenly, sounding more animated than he had all day.

"Wh-What are you doing?" she asked but let him tug her into the house.

Once inside, he let go of her hand and strode over to the suitcase he'd packed earlier.  It only took him a minute to retrieve a sweatshirt, and he tossed it to her with a grin.  "When I was little and Gavin wasn't around, Jilli used to make me go walking with her in the rain," he said as he motioned at her to put on the sweatshirt.  "It's been a while, but I remember it was kind of nice . . ."

Valerie blinked and stared at him, unsure where the sudden change in his mood had come from.  But she tugged the garment over her head and slowly started to roll up the sleeves a couple times.  It was huge—really huge—on her.  Not surprising since it was a little baggy on Evan, too . . .

He strode back over to her again with a smile.  "Who cares if it's raining, right?  Might as well enjoy ourselves anyway."

She found herself smiling back at him, even as she slowly shook her head.  "It's a good way to get sick, isn't it?"

He chuckled.  "Come on.  I'll make you a pot of coffee when we get back."

"Oh, well in that case," she quipped, letting him take her hand again and pull her toward the door, "how can I say no to that?"


-Evan-


"That one's Orion," Evan said, pointing up at the stars and moving his hand to trace the constellation.  "There's his belt—see?"

Narrowing her eyes, Valerie adjusted her head on her arm.  "How do they figure that it looks like a man?" she challenged mildly.

Evan chuckled.  "What?  You telling me that you can't see him?"

"Hmm, well, kind of," she allowed slowly.  "Okay, not really."

"Ah, V, you're breaking my heart," he teased.  "You really can't see him?  He's the great hunter!  I mean, how many people do you suppose were actually made into constellations when they kicked the bucket?"

She snorted and rolled her eyes but laughed as she sat up and hooked her arms around her knees.  "I can't believe the sky is so clear when it was so overcast earlier."

Evan sat up, too, then crawled over to throw a few more pieces of driftwood onto the fire.  "Yeah, I'm just glad the storm passed.  Flying in the rain kind of sucks."

Valerie groaned and buried her face against her knees.  "Oo-Ooh, I'm not ready to go back," she moaned, her voice muffled by her legs.  "It said in the Times that they're in the middle of a cold snap up there."

Evan laughed.  Valerie would hate going back, any way he looked at it.  After all, it was still January, and January in New York City wasn't always pleasant . . .

"You know, I always wondered about that," he said, peering over his shoulder at her.  "Why did you move to New York City?  I mean, you knew it had to be cold up there in the winter, right?"

Lifting her face enough to drop her chin on her knees instead, Valerie sighed.  "Xavier offered me a good job," she said simply.  "I didn't really think about how much I hate the cold."

For some reason, that sounded about right to him.  After all, Valerie did tend to be pragmatic to a fault.  "Well, I guess I should just be glad that you did," he allowed.  "If you were further south, it'd have been hard for me to hire you, right?"

"Hmm, I'm still trying to decide whether that was a blessing or a curse," she said dryly, stretching out her legs as she buried her toes in the slightly damp sand.

"One of these days, woman, you're going to admit that you love me," he said, careful to keep his tone light and teasing as he scooted over beside her once more.

"Oh, will I?" she countered with a laugh.  "I'd love it if you could stay out of trouble for, say, a week . . ."

"I don't get into that much trouble," he grumbled, pushing her hands aside and laying down so that his head was on her lap.  "Besides, if I don't get into some, then you won't make any money off me, now will you?"

"That's a pretty poor reason, if you ask me," she retorted, jiggling her legs to try to shove him off of her.  It didn't work.  "You're going to put my legs to sleep, Roka."

He grinned.  "If you wanted to play with my hair, I'd totally let you," he informed her.

"You've got to be the most high-maintenance man I've ever met in my life," she complained, leaning back on her hands.

"Not true," he argued.  "I mean, you did meet my cousin, Gunnar."

She appeared to be considering that for a moment, then she grinned.  "He does seem like he'd be a little high-maintenance, doesn't he?"

"Kind of an understatement," Evan remarked.  "He's not here.  It's not like you have to be nice or anything."

She rolled her eyes but her smile widened.  "He seemed nice enough," she replied.  "Just kind of . . ."

"Ass-tastic?"

Valerie leaned to one side and brought a hand around to tug on a fistful of hair.  "No, and don't you dare tell him I said that.  I was going to say 'aloof'."

Evan snorted.  "Which is just a nicer way to say 'ass-tastic'."

"It is not!" she countered with a helpless little laugh.  "You're such a jerk.  Why are you such a jerk?"

His grin really should have warned her as to what he was about to say, but it didn't.  "I don't know, baby.  Why were you in my bushes?"

That put an end to her laughter, and she snorted loudly as she tugged on his hair again.  "Now who's being ass-tastic?"

"Yeah, but I never said I wasn't," he replied.

Leaning her head back, she looked around.  The nearly full moon bathed everything in a very gentle half-light.  It was a night perfect for magic, if he were inclined to believe in such things.

"Ah—Hey!" Valerie exclaimed suddenly, lowering her chin to pin Evan with a disbelieving look.  "Lost your helmet, did you?" she said.

Evan chuckled.  "Finally saw it?"

She snorted then rolled her eyes.  You were supposed to wear it," she informed him brusquely, "not hang it from a tree!"

"Did you see the coconut in it?"

Valerie stared at him for a moment then looked back at the helmet in the tree once more.  "You drew a face on it?" she asked, sounding completely unimpressed with his decorating skills.

"He's protecting his nuts," he told her.

Valerie heaved a sigh.  "Figures."

He laughed again.  "I just thought it'd never get lost up there."

"Only you would come up with reasoning like that," she muttered.

"Maybe," he agreed noncommittally.

The breeze off the ocean picked up a little.  The sound of the ever-moving sea was punctuated by the hiss and crackle of the fire.  The rain had stopped shortly after they'd left to go on their walk.  His first instinct had been to rush her back to the house to get her into something dry.  She was so quiet, though, so lost in thought that he hadn't.

They barely talked, really, as they wandered around the island, but the silence was comfortable, and that was good enough.  Maybe things weren't perfect, and maybe they'd both taken a step or two back.  The problem was, he couldn't quite bring himself to ask her just how upset she was over his confession, either.  It wasn't so much that he felt as though he didn't deserve to hear her honest opinion.  What bothered him the most was the way that she'd just quietly accepted everything, the disturbing feeling that she was trying to walk on eggshells around him even now.  Valerie was too fiery, too passionate to have been reduced to all that, as though she felt like everything that had happened was entirely her fault.  It wasn't, and he knew that.  He just wasn't entirely sure what to do about it . . .

'I don't think that it's exactly what you're thinking,' his youkai-voice remarked.  'She's been doing as much thinking as you have—about different things, sure, but it's still the same thing.'

'No . . . She's being entirely too understanding, don't you think?  She shouldn't have to be . . .'

'Then tell her,' the voice replied.  'You listened to her when you came back.  Maybe it's her turn to hear you out.'

He hadn't thought of that, had he?  Maybe he'd believed that anything he said would sound like he was making excuses, but wasn't that kind of like taking the easy way out?  She wasn't the only one who needed to apologize, and while he could understand that she'd wanted to get everything out, he hadn't had the same opportunity, had he?  "Hey, V?"

"Hmm?"

Pushing himself up, he turned to face her more fully.  He owed her, right?  More importantly, he wanted her to believe him—to believe in him, and maybe they couldn't move forward until he said what he needed to say, too.  "You remember the other day when you came to me on the dock?"

He could see her body visibly tense at the reminder of that morning.  "Uh, Evan—"

He shook his head.  "I listened to you then.  I want you to listen to me now."

She looked like she wanted to argue with him, but she must've realized that he was serious, and she finally nodded once.  "O-Okay," she agreed, her voice barely above a whisper.

Letting out a deep breath, Evan took a moment to figure out exactly where he wanted to start.  "When I woke up that morning, you have no idea . . . I mean, you were so close, and I . . . I wanted you so badly."  Watching her closely, he wasn't surprised to see the flicker of confusion that crossed her features—confusion tinged with regret . . . "You were right about me when you said that I . . . that I hide behind the jokes and shit.  I've done it for a long time, and you didn't know.  I don't think anyone ever knows when I'm being serious.  Sometimes I . . ." He managed a sad little smile.  "Sometimes I don't think I even know, so how could I expect you to?"

"Evan—"

"But I want you to," he went on then sighed.  "You've told me things about yourself, things you've never told anyone else, and that . . . that means a lot to me, and I know you have trouble trusting people.  For that matter, you have trouble trusting yourself, don't you?  It's not a bad thing, V, and it's nothing you should ever be ashamed of because all it means is that when you do trust someone, you know better than anyone that they'll never let you down, right?"

She looked somewhat surprised by his observation, and the startled look she shot him spoke volumes, as far as he was concerned.

"But I did, didn't I?  I lost my . . . my temper, and I took off, thinking that if I could just . . . just get it out of my system, everything would be fine again . . ."

"Evan, you don't have to—"

"I do," he interrupted calmly but firmly.  "Maddy told me once that I have a habit of self-destructing, and she's right.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that finding those girls—that fucking those girls—was going to change things, and it did, didn't it?  Only it didn't change things in the way that I thought it would."  Drawing a deep breath, he couldn't hide the grimace when he saw her, shoulders slumped, her gaze trained on her hands in her lap.  "I hurt you.  It doesn't matter what your reasons were—if you just thought that I deserved better or whatever, it doesn't matter.  I still hurt you, and . . . and I'm sorry."  He laughed suddenly, shaking his head.  "God, that sounds stupid, right?  Just saying that I'm sorry . . . Does it really mean anything?  It's like saying that if I could go back in time and change things, I would or that I'll never hurt you again and just blindly expecting you to believe me without giving you any reason to."  He sighed.  "That's not what I'm trying to do.  I really am sorry. You're the last person in the world that I wanted to hurt, and I . . . I forgot that."

"I think it does," she said softly, quietly.

He frowned and shook his head.  "What does?"

She didn't lift her chin, but she did slowly raise her eyes.  "Saying you're sorry," she replied.  "I think it means something if the person you're saying it to wants to . . . to believe you."

Why did her statement give him pause?  Why did it make the heaviness that had settled over him in the days since the fight lessen?  The cautious sense of optimism that had been sorely lacking flickered to life, and while he didn't think that it'd be easy by any means, for the first time since that God-awful day, it didn't feel entirely hopeless, either . . . "Do . . . Do you?"

She stared at him for a few very long seconds, her eyes dark, inscrutable, her eyelashes fanning down over her cheeks as she slowly blinked.  "I already knew you were sorry," she finally said.  "But you don't have to be."

"Don't do that, V," he said gently.  "Don't make it okay for me to run over you."

"It's not that," she insisted.  "It's just . . ."

"Just what?" he prompted when she trailed off.

Valerie shot him a somewhat nervous glance and shrugged as though she couldn't quite reconcile whatever was in her head and get it into words.  "You're the only person," she said slowly, whispering, as though the words could hurt her if she raised her voice.  "The only one in the world who can . . . can hurt me."

He could hear it in her voice, couldn't he?  As true as it was to her, she really didn't understand why it was so, but it was enough, wasn't it?  She didn't want him to give up on her, and that was enough for Evan—at least, for now . . .


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Let it Rain' first appeared on Warrant's 1992 release, Dog Eat Dog.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jani Lane.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
Was that what was bothering him?
==========
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 141
Chapter 143
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