InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Confrontations ( Chapter 144 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

A penny for your thoughts now, baby
Looks like the weight of the world's on your shoulders now
I know you think you're going crazy
'Just when it seems everything's gonna work itself out ...
They drive you right back down …’

-‘Miracle’ by Jon Bon Jovi.


-Evan-


“Ze-e-e-e -el . . .!”

Tossing down the pencil he'd been using to scratch out a few bars of the song he was working on, Evan set the guitar aside and stood up to stretch.  “In here, Bugsy,” he called, rubbing his eyes.

The light click of stack heels on the floor closed in quickly, growing louder as the rabbit-youkai moved in fast.  “There you are!” Bugs gushed as he rushed into Evan's music room.  “I've missed you like mad, of course!  Oh, my God!  You have got to swear you'll never leave me alone that long again!  At least, not with that hussy, anyway!” he pouted.

Evan chuckled and kissed Bugs' cheek, much to Bugs' delight.  “Maddy, you mean?”

Rolling his eyes in an entirely melodramatic kind of way, Bugs stuck his bottom lip out a little farther.  “Who else, I'd like to know?  Ugh, she's such a drama queen—and not a queen in a good way, either.”

“Are you sure that you're not exaggerating things just a little bit?” Evan asked.

Bugs looked positively hurt.  “When do I ever?”

“What was I thinking?” Evan quipped, heading for the doorway.  “I thought you and Maddy were getting along.”

Bugs followed him into the kitchen and leaned on the counter as Evan turned on the grill top and slapped down a few slices of bacon.  “We were,” he agreed, “until we went shopping at Cerin.”

Evan nodded since that made sense.  Cerin was an ultra-trendy little shop in the upper east side that was one of Madison's favorite haunts, mostly because the shoe selection, while limited, was always the very latest from the world's top designers, including Madison's beloved Ray Shauzanne . . .

“What'd you do?  Fight over the last pair of something?” he asked, arching an eyebrow as he eyed the rabbit-youkai as he cracked four eggs onto the griddle top.  “You want an egg?”

Bugs made a face but not nearly severely enough to mess up his makeup and waved a hand.  “No, thank you.  Anyway, she bought them because she knew that I was looking at them first,” he pouted.

Evan laughed.  It wasn't the first time that those two had fought over shoes, and he doubted it'd be the last, either.  Somehow, he'd figured it was something like that . . .

“They didn't have them in your size, anyway,” Madison insisted as she breezed into the kitchen, carrying with her the smell of the brisk winter wind.

“Maddikins!” Evan exclaimed, holding his arms open to invite her closer.

Madison giggled and hugged him.  “So how was the acation-turned-vacation?” she asked, reaching around Evan to nab a slice of bacon that he'd just moved over to finish off.

“It was good,” Evan said, giving Madison a tight squeeze.  “You hungry?”

“Always,” Madison replied with a wink.  “Want me to make the coffee?”

“Sure,” he said, reaching for a couple more eggs.

“Anyway, anyway,” Bugs interjected, fluttering a hand to gain Evan's attention as Madison sauntered over to start the coffee maker.  “I came by to ask you if you might have time tonight to stop by the Bunny Hole?  It's so lonely when you're not there . . .”

“Aww, Bugsy, that's so sweet,” Evan remarked with a grin.

“What that really means is that he's fighting with Keith again and wants you to play if he doesn't show up,” Madison muttered.

Evan's grin widened.  “I might be able to swing that,” he replied.

Bugs clapped his hands and squealed.  “See?  That's why I love you—well, that and your sexy-as-hell body, of course . . .”

Evan chuckled when the rabbit bounced over to kiss his cheek.  “I've got to go, so don't miss me too much . . . Keep that shoe-stealing hussy away from you, m'kay?”

He laughed as Madison giggled and rolled her eyes.  A minute later, he heard the front door close, and just that fast, Bugs was gone, leaving a waft of expensive perfume in his wake.  “Fighting over shoes, Maddy?” he asked, raising an eyebrow as he glanced over his shoulder at his childhood friend.

Madison grinned unrepentantly and stuck out her foot, turning it slightly from side to side.  “Delicious, right?”

“Those are pretty impressive,” he replied, eyeing the snakeskin stillettos on the woman's feet.  “You could kill someone with those if you aimed the heel just right.”

“What are you talking about?” she quipped.  “My legs are to die for, all by themselves, remember?”

He chuckled and covered the eggs with a couple metal bowls to finish them.  “Well, hell, yes,” he agreed as the scent of freshly brewed coffee hit his nose.  “Toast or biscuits?”

“As if you have to ask,” she chided.  He nodded and split open another biscuit, tossing it onto the griddle top, too.  “So tell me.  How was the vacation?”

“I told you already that it was good,” he reminded her.

“You only say things like that when you're trying to avoid something else,” she pointed out.  “So why don't you elaborate on 'good', hmm?”

Evan sighed but smiled ruefully.  Madison always was far too perceptive for his own good . . . “No, it really was good,” he insisted.  “I mean, you know, after I decided to stop being a jackass, anyway . . .”

“You?  A jackass?”  She sighed and slowly, sadly shook her head.  “What happened?”

He grimaced since he really didn't feel like telling Madison about the entire fiasco.  Still, maybe it was like a kind of penance, and he'd rather tell her than to let her get the rundown from Valerie when she'd very likely make it sound as though it was entirely her fault.  “I, uh . . . I got a little pissed off,” he admitted, choosing his words carefully as he pulled two plates out of the cupboard and carefully scooped up the eggs.  “Lost my temper with V . . . Said some things I shouldn't have . . .”

Madison sighed as she considered that for a long moment.  “You ran off and got laid,” she concluded with a sage nod.

“You already talked to V?”

She shook her head.  “Nope.  I just know you,” she said simply.  “You've got a self-destructive streak a mile wide.”

“You know me better than you should,” he muttered.

“Does she know?”

He nodded, then let out a deep breath.  “Yeah, she does.  You know the fucked up thing?  Didn't yell at me; not even once.”

Madison blinked and looked surprised.  “She didn't?”

“No,” he stated matter-of-factly.   “I mean, why would she when I did my level-best to make sure that she felt about two inches tall beforehand?”

Madison grimaced.  “No-o-o-o . . .”

He shot her a droll look.  “Y-Yeah, I did.”

“Oh, Evan . . . You didn't . . .”

He sighed but smiled just a little.  “It's all right, Maddy.  We got everything worked out.”

She didn't look like she believed him entirely as she took the plate he handed her and walked over to the table.  “If you worked everything out, then tell me why you look exhausted,” she countered as she stepped over to pour the coffee.

“I was playing,” he replied simply.  “Wrote a new song.  Lost track of time.”

Madison returned to the table with two steaming mugs of joe.  Setting one on the table before him, she didn't reply until after she'd slipped into the seat across from him.  “Okay,” she finally allowed.  “I'll buy that one.”

He shot her a half-cocked grin as he dug into his eggs.  “So, what have you been up to—Well, aside from stealing shoes out from under Bugsy's nose, that is.”

She sighed and shrugged in a decidedly un-Maddy-ish way.  “Working,” she replied.  “What else is there these days?”

“Now, that doesn't sound like you,” he said, making quick work on his plate of food.  “You know what they say about all work and no play.”

“It'd be easier to find play time if I didn't have to make every single decision about the spas.”

He nodded slowly.  As much as Madison loved her occupation, he also knew that she really, really hated the 'working' side of things.  “Bring in a business partner,” he suggested, standing up and grabbing her empty coffee mug and his to refill them.  “Bugs could—scratch that.  The two of you would kill each other in less than a week, tops.”

She set her fork down and took the coffee he extended to her.  “Actually, I had considered asking Valerie, but I think she's probably already got way too much going on.  Besides, for reasons I'll never understand, I think she likes being a lawyer . . .”

Evan chuckled and grabbed the last piece of bacon on his plate.  “Yeah, I know.  Go figure.”

Glancing at her watch, Madison hopped up.  “Oh, damn, speaking of business, I'm supposed to meet this realtor in twenty minutes.  He's showing me some potential properties for another Madison's: LA . . .”

“Oh, then you'd better hurry,” he said, grinning as she downed the rest of her coffee.  “Oh, hey, there's a package for you on the table in there.  Grab it before you go.”

“I will,” she said, sparing a moment to kiss Evan's cheek before grabbing her plate to put in the sink before she headed out the door.  “I'll see you later, okay?  And get some rest.  You look like hell.”

He waved a hand to indicate that he'd heard her, and he sighed when he finally heard the front door close.

Damn, he was tired.  Actually, that didn't even begin to cut it.  He'd ended up staying awake all night, playing the guitar as he tried to process everything he'd learned from those documents. At least that much of it hadn't been a lie.  But everything he'd read . . . Sitting down, forcing himself to put everything in some kind of chronological order, forcing himself to read the damn things . . . It was all so clinical, wasn't it?  All of the reports, statements from various foster parents, court papers, the list was long, the damage was high, and somewhere in the shuffle it seemed like the little girl who had grown up to be the attorney he knew so well had somehow been lost . . .

'Forgotten would be a better way to put it,' his youkai remarked in a rather philosophical kind of way.

What did it matter?  The end result had been the same, but it was profoundly worse, wasn't it?

Bad enough that she was born into a home with parents who were little more than children at the time.  They hadn't even known how to take care of themselves, so how in the hell could they have ever thought that they could take care of Valerie, too?

He was stupid, wasn't he?  Sure, he'd known that her parents, her ex-boyfriends, had all hurt her.  Yes, he'd realized that she had trouble trusting anyone, and it had made perfect sense.  But it wasn't until he'd read all the paperwork that he'd started to understand that the reality of it all was that what she'd told him had barely scratched the surface, and that wasn't her fault, either.  He had a feeling that she didn't even realize just what had happened to her.

He did.  He did, and, well, it made everything just that much more difficult, didn't it . . .?

She'd said that she was placed with seven families.  She'd said that only one of those families actually wanted her.  In actuality, she'd been placed with nine families, but two of them were for less than a week, and maybe in her mind, they didn't count.  Placed in homes with too many other foster children, and she probably didn't have anyone who really tried to reach out to her, either.  Introverted and withdrawn—he'd seen those words repeated over and over, at least until she'd hit ten.

And then she'd started acting out: cussing out teachers to get kicked out of school, kicking her foster parents in the shins, starting fistfights with a foster sisters and brothers, getting caught smoking and drinking and, yes, doing some light drugs . . . and the boyfriends . . .

The first time she'd tried to run away, she was eleven years old.  A cop had found her at the bus station, hitting up people for money so she could buy a ticket.  He'd taken her back to her foster family where her foster mother had apologized profusely.  Two weeks later, she'd put a chair through a window, and her social worker removed her from that home.  From there, she tried to run away a number of times, mostly alone, but there were a couple of reports of her running away with various boyfriends.  Looking for love, Evan supposed . . .

From what he could tell, her violent tendencies had come to an abrupt end when she was about thirteen, almost fourteen.  It coincided with her placement with the Dennings: Perry and Grace.  There were a few mentions of her sneaking out to meet different boyfriends and one or two busts for underage drinking, but she'd apparently calmed down a little.

To make matters worse, at least for Valerie, her parents eventually had two more children—children that she didn't really know.  How could she?  She'd spent the majority of her life in the foster care system, and her parents missed most of the visitations that they were allotted . . . He didn't have to be brilliant to realize that it had to smart.  How could it not?  Siblings she'd never gotten to spend time with—siblings who had gotten to remain at home with the parents that Valerie had so desperately wanted . . .

To Evan, it wasn't hard to figure out.  After seeing the whole picture, as ignoble as it was, he understood at last, didn't he?  Feeling hurt and confused by her parents' years of neglect, being used and abused by those boyfriends who had said that they loved her just to get into her pants . . . That didn't even begin to scratch the surface, didn't it?  A seven year-old child, having seen the violent arrest of both of her parents and the subsequent shattering of the only relative stability she'd ever known, only to be cast into families that didn't have the time to devote to her when she so desperately needed it because they had too damn many kids there already . . .

To put it simply, she had been completely and thoroughly abandoned for the first thirteen years of her life, and in those years, she'd learned what anyone would have learned during that time—to look out for herself, to do what she had to do to take care of herself . . . to protect herself, even at the expense of keeping everyone else at arm's length . . . fighting against the emotional abandonment that she knew all too well . . .

What could she possibly have done to ever deserved that kind of life?  How in the world was it that she managed to smile now, to laugh—and to cry?  How many times had she sat alone back then, crying in the darkness because she just wanted someone—anyone—to love her?

He sighed.  And just how desperately did he want to show her that everything she'd learned just wasn't how it was supposed to be?  Those ugly things she'd learned so early wasn't really living at all . . .?

Heaving a sigh, he stood up, took his plate and mug to the sink.  Somehow, some way, he'd figure it out.  All he had to do was to make her want to see those things, too . . .


-Evan-


“That was weird.  Good, but weird.”

Evan grinned as he dropped his keys onto the table and stripped of the brown leather jacket he'd worn to the Bunny Hole.  Valerie had showed up shortly before he left, so he'd dragged her along with him.  Besides, he knew damn well that she liked to watch him perform.  That he wasn't being Zel Roka for the night, though, didn't seem to impress her.  “Eh, it would have caused too much trouble if Zel Roka had showed up, unannounced.  Security issues and shit.  'Sides, Bone wanted the night off, so . . .”

Valerie rolled her eyes but laughed as she shrugged off the knee length overcoat and carefully laid it over the back of a chair.  “I suppose,” she allowed.  “Couldn't you have just used your real name then?”

He grabbed a bottle of beer out of the cooler and poured a glass of red wine for Valerie.  “What?  You didn't like my stage name for the night?”

“Ben Haumpin?” she stated, leveling a droll look at him as she took the glass and lifted it to her lips.  “You're completely bent.”

His grin widened.  “I thought it was pretty damn good.”

“Well,” she said as she thought it over, “it was nice to hear you sing something other than songs about crotches and penises and breasts.”

“There's something to be said about crotches and penises and breasts,” he countered, tipping his head back to remove the dark brown contact lenses.  “Hey, is my cup over there?”

“I thought you only wore one of those when you're appearing in PSAs,” she replied.

Squeezing his right eye closed a few times, he lowered his chin to stare at her.  “Nicely done,” he approved with a chuckle.

She didn't smile, but it was a close thing.  “And you thought you were the only one who could manage the smarmy comeback.”

“Hell, no,” he replied, waving a hand in the general direction of the coffee table, “but you should definitely do it more often.  Toss me that, will you?”

She didn't, but she did pick up the small plastic case after setting aside her glass, uncapping the right side as she wandered toward him.  He held out his finger so she could carefully take the lens and pop it into the cup while he retrieved the left one.  “That first song you sang,” she said, her voice taking on a suspiciously neutral tone as she fiddled with the left lid.  “Was that a new one?”

“Yeah,” he replied, letting her take the left lens as he stepped past her for the bottle of fake tears on the table and making quick work of dropping them into his eyes.

“It's pretty,” she went on.  “Completely non-Roka, but pretty . . .”

“I know; I know,” he agreed with a shrug.  “Couldn’t possibly record it or they'd think I was going soft or something . . .”

She bit her lip and set the case on the wet bar before crossing her arms over her chest and lifting her chin a notch.  “Was it about someone you . . . know . . .?”

He sighed inwardly.  Sometimes she could be far too perceptive, couldn't she . . .? “Maybe.”

She frowned as she stared at him.  “'Mommy and Daddy taught her how to fear . . . taught her how to hide and how to shed a tear . . . Taught her how to run and how to hide . . . how to lock away every good thing somewhere deep down inside . . .'?” she recited quietly.

“V . . .”

She let out a deep breath punctuated by a small little laugh that sounded even hollower since it lacked any trace of amusement.  “You made . . . her . . . sound . . . kind of pathetic.”

Staring at her as she ducked her head, as she tightened her arms around herself, he slowly shook his head.  “'Someday I'll show her what it means to laugh . . . what it means to love, what it's like to dance . . . For that beautiful girl, I'll wear my heart on my sleeve . . . All she needs to do is learn how to believe',” he sang.

She didn't say anything for a long moment.  She didn't move or make a sound.  Grimacing when the scent of her tears hit him hard, he reached out and pulled her into a hug.  “There's something I have to tell you, V,” he said a little reluctantly.

Wiping her cheek quickly, as though she was hoping that he hadn't seen her do it, she cleared her throat and sniffled quietly before drawing a fortifying breath and peering at him from under her eyelashes.

He heaved a sigh and grabbed her hand to pull her over to the sofa.  Damn, she was going to be mad, wasn't she?  He didn't doubt it for a moment . . .

“Have I ever told you what Bubby does for a living?”

Valerie sat beside him but looked a little confused by his question.  “I . . . don't remember.  You might have . . .”

He nodded.  “I guess you could say that he does investigation stuff for a private organization.”

She still didn't look like she understood what he was getting at.  “Okay . . .”

He couldn’t look at her.  He wanted to, but he couldn't . . . Raking his hands through his hair, he leaned forward, training his gaze on the floor.  “While we were in Maine,” he said slowly, “I, uh . . . I asked him to . . . to look up your parents.”

He could feel her stiffen beside him.  The aura around her seemed to condense, to pull in, as though she was bracing herself . . . as though she was trying to protect herself.

“I'm not trying to hurt you, V.  It's just . . .” Drawing in a deep breath, he forced himself to look at her.  Her face was turned to the side, her eyes suspiciously bright, and for a moment, his resolve wavered.  Damnation, she'd been hurting for so long all alone, and the last thing he wanted to do was to add to that burden.  He'd seen it before.  No matter what she said, no matter what she tried to believe, her parents really did still hold the power to hurt her, and though him—because of him—they were going to do it all over again, too . . .

'But she deserves to know,' his youkai-voice pointed out reasonably.  'If you don't tell her now . . . if she finds out after it's too late that you knew . . .?  Maybe she can forgive you for all that bullshit in the Bahamas.  Maybe she can forgive you for acting like a complete and utter jackass.  Do you think—do you really believe—that she'd forgive you if you don't tell her now?  Even if it hurts her, she needs to be allowed to make her own decision.'

He grimaced.  Yes, he knew all that.  Damned if it didn't go against everything he wanted, everything he'd been brought up to believe.  Protect your mate: that's what he'd always been told.  But there was no way he could protect her from the truth . . .

“Your father,” he said slowly, carefully, as gently as he possibly could.  “He's, uh . . . He's sick—really sick . . . He's suffering early stage renal failure, and the doctors . . .” Evan shook his head, lifted a hand, palm side up, as he tried to find a way to soften what he had to say.  There wasn't one, though, and he sighed.  “The doctors have him on dialysis, but he's also got problems with his liver, and—”

“And what?” Valerie cut in sharply, her head turning to pierce him with a fulminating glare.  “Why are you telling me this?”

The anger in her eyes was completely at odds with the shaking of her hands, with the telltale flaring of her nostrils, with the twitching of her lips, and Evan had a feeling that it was the anger alone that was keeping her from bursting into tears . . . “You have a right to know,” he replied simply, quietly.

She shot off the sofa, paced the length of the room and back a few times.  “What gives you the right to—Why, Evan?” she demanded.  He shook his head but didn't answer.  “Why would you go behind my back to—? What?  You didn't believe me?  When I told you all of that, you thought I'd lie about it?”

“Of course not,” he said, steepling his fingertips between his spread knees.  “I believe you.  I always have.”

“Then why?

He sighed.  “I don't know.  Maybe I wanted to hunt him down.  Maybe I wanted to beat his ass with the belt he used on you.  Maybe I wanted them to understand how much pain they've caused you over the years.  Maybe I wanted them to know just how well you turned out in spite of them . . .” Trailing off with wince, he slumped back against the sofa .  “But I believed you the entire time,” he said softly.  “There was never a second when I didn't.”

She barked out a terse laugh, an incredulous laugh.  “Why are you telling me this?” she asked, her voice thick with confusion, with tears that still had yet to fall.  “I don't . . . don't care!” she insisted as she pulled together her tattered anger.  He could see it in her eyes.  She was clinging to that outrage, wasn't she?  Clinging to it like it was a raft adrift in the ocean . . . “I don't care!”

Her last sentence came out as more of a squeak, almost a whimper.  He stood up, started toward her, but she held up a hand to stop him.  “Why should I care?” she demanded, shaking her head stubbornly.  “They didn't care about me, did they?  They forgot all about me after I was taken away!  They didn't even bother to come see me!  Once a month, Evan, and they couldn't even manage that!”

Stomping over to the wet bar, she pulled out a few bottles, sparing a moment to glance at the labels, putting them back again until she found what she wanted.  Sloshing a good amount of vodka into a glass, she slammed it back with a grimace and refilled it before she dared to speak again.

“I decided a long time ago that I would never let them hurt me again,” she said, gripping the glass so tightly that her fingertips turned white.  “Never again.”

Evan sighed and let her drink that glass of vodka, too.  When she started back for a third, though, he reached out, caught her arm gently, and pulled the empty glass out of her hand.  “That's not going to help you, V,” he said softly as he reached out with his free hand to brush her hair out of her eyes, “but I will if I can . . .”

She stared at him, and for a moment, he thought she was going to start yelling again, not that he could blame her.  But as suddenly as her anger had come, it seemed to dissolve, and Evan winced when she threw herself against him, when the tears she'd been trying so desperately to hold back finally broke free.  Sobbing so hard that her entire body shook as he wrapped his arms around her, she seemed to crumple against him, her fists closing around handfuls of his shirt, as though she were afraid that she'd melt away if she let go of him.

Rubbing her back, stroking her hair, uttering sounds meant to sooth her that only made her cry harder, he closed his eyes, hated himself in silence for being the one to tell her . . .

And he did the only thing he could possibly do, holding her close, telling her over and over that he was sorry, so sorry, feeling like a mere shadow of a man for being unable to do a damn thing to help her or to take her pain away.


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A/N:
Mirac lefirst appeared on Jon Bon Jovi's 1990 release, Blaze of Glory.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jon Bon Jovi.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Damn it ...
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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~
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