InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Soulquake ( Chapter 153 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Eyes without light, too tired of goodbyes
'Never felt embraced
'And frightened of every face
'A life in disguise, hope forever died ...'

-'Forgotten Children' by Tokio Hotel.


-Evan-


'Her hair is the same color as the upper part of a candle flame—that part just before it turns red again,' Evan mused as he stared across the table, over the top of the lone candle, at the quiet attorney as she pushed her uneaten food around the plate.  For the last week, she'd been like this, ever since she'd decided that she needed to go see her father: there, but a million miles away, and the closer the trip crept, the farther into herself she seemed to retreat.  Today, however, she'd washed all of the darker rinse out of her hair, probably because she was done being Counselor Denning, at least until after she'd faced her parents . . .

He'd give anything to know what she was thinking about.  Well, that wasn't entirely true.  He had a good feeling that he knew what was causing her preoccupation.  He'd have to be an idiot not to know, wouldn't he?  He changed his mind daily about whether or not he thought that this was all a good idea or not.  Today?  Today, he was leaning toward the 'bad idea' side of things.

Setting his knife and fork aside, Evan let out a deep breath as he sat back and gave up any pretense of trying to eat.  "V?  You want to go somewhere else?" he asked gently.

She blinked and kind of jumped slightly, her cheeks reddening as her gaze flashed up to meet his for the briefest of moments before she turned her attention back to her food once more.  "What?  Uh, oh, no.  No, this is . . . This is really good . . ."

He didn't call her on the lie.  There wasn't a point to it, anyway.  Shoving aside the frustrating feeling that he was completely useless to her, he offered her a little smile that he hoped that she wouldn't be able to see right though.  He must've been a better actor than he thought because when she saw the expression, she smiled, too.  It wasn't big, and it wasn't quite what he was used to from her, but it would do, as far as he was concerned.

He cleared his throat.  "You don't seem very hungry," he remarked, nodding at her untouched food.

She blinked and glanced down at her plate then shot him a somewhat guilty look, probably because he'd brought her to a fairly exclusive restaurant, and she hadn't even taken a bite yet.  "No, it's good," she insisted, feeding herself a forkful of the grilled chicken breast.  "Mm.  This has really nice seasoning," she said, her tone a little brighter than it should have been.

He chuckled.  "You want to go for a walk or something?" he suggested when she returned to picking at her plate once more.

"I guess I'm just not really that hungry," she said in an apologetic tone of voice.

Evan shook his head to brush off her concern as he lifted a hand to call the waiter over.  Without a word, he handed the young man his credit card.  "It's all right, V," he assured her.

Biting her lip, she looked like she wanted to say something, and she opened her mouth to speak, only to be cut off short when the waiter hurried back over with Evan's credit card and receipt.  "Have a good night.  Would you like for me to have your car brought up for you?" the young man asked with a friendly smile.  

"Not right now," Evan replied as he put the card away and stood.  "We were going to go for a walk first."

"Okay," the waiter said with an exaggerated nod.  "Then I hope you have a terrific night."

"Thanks," Evan said then held a hand out for Valerie.  "Ready?"

She nodded and let him help her stand, following him through the restaurant to the foyer to wait while he asked for their coats.  "I can pay for my dinner," she offered as he held her coat open for her.

"Don't worry about it, V," he said as he took her hand and led her out of the restaurant and onto the street.  "You sure you want to leave all this gorgeous weather behind to go down to Kentucky?" he teased, pulling the lapels of his overcoat up to block the wind a little more.

She wrinkled her nose.  "What do you think the weather is like down on your island right now?" she countered mildly.

He chuckled.  "A hell of a lot warmer than it is here," he replied.

She heaved a wistful sigh.  "If we go for a walk, we'll miss that show," she pointed out as they waited at the light to cross the street, heading straight into Central Park.

He shrugged.  Gin had sent him tickets to an off-Broadway production of a new play that was garnering very positive reviews, and he'd asked Valerie if she wanted to go, mostly to get her mind off things, even if it was only for a couple hours.  She didn't seem to upset by the idea that they might miss it, however, and Evan figured that he really didn't care, as long as she was content.  "Oh, I don't know," he said as they started across the street.  "We can see it some other time."

"If you want to," she agreed quickly enough despite the hint of preoccupation evident in her voice.  "It sounded like a good show."

"That's what I've heard, too," he replied with a simple shrug.

Crossing her arms over her stomach to hold her coat closed, she turned long enough to cast him a curious glance before lowering her gaze to the path they were walking along once more.

"What was that look for?" he asked in a teasing tone.

"Nothing," she insisted.

"It wasn't a 'nothing' kind of look," he told her.

She laughed softly—one of the few laughs he'd heard from her in a while—and maybe it wasn't a big one but it was still welcome, as far as he was concerned.  "It's just . . . I don't know.  You know, when I first met you, I never would have thought that you'd be a fan of the theater."

"Why's that?" he asked, raising an eyebrow meaningfully.

Valerie waved a hand in blatant dismissal.  "Because you were doing your best to convince me that you were nothing but a shallow-minded rockstar," she replied simply.

"Yeah, but you changed your mind about that," he pointed out.  "Now you know for sure that I'm a shallow-minded idiot rockstar."

Valerie rolled her eyes but giggled—exactly the reaction he was hoping for.  "I'd like to think you're a little deeper than that," she remarked as they turned down the well-lit path that led into the park.  "After all, I'd like to think that I wouldn't give you the time of day if you really were that incorrigible."

"I'll have you know that I work damn hard to be incorrigible," he retorted haughtily.  "Keh!"

"Yeah, but I've figured out that most of your bad behavior is just because you want to get the reaction," she informed him airily.

Evan snorted but couldn't hide his smile as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.  "That is so not true," he scoffed despite the grin on his face.  "I behave badly because I'm bored—I've told you that a million times, haven't I?"

"Be that as it may, I—" Valerie cut herself off abruptly and stopped when her cell phone interrupted her, and she dug the device out of her purse to look at the caller ID.  "Hi," she greeted, holding up her index finger toward Evan as she lifted the phone to her ear.  "How are you?"

"Hey, Val, I'm glad I caught you."

Evan gritted his teeth as the sound of Marvin's voice reached his ears.  Muffled and distant, sure, but audible, just the same—and Evan felt no qualms in listening into the conversation, considering Valerie had no idea that he could hear it, at all . . . 'Gotta love the youkai sense of hearing . . .' he thought darkly as he schooled his features to blankness and affected a nonchalant stance.

"Oh?" she asked, glancing at Evan almost anxiously, as though she thought that he might be plotting something devious.  "You sound worried . . ."

Marvin chuckled.  "No, nothing like that," he assured her.  "Hey, uh . . . Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she said, her tone brightening by degrees.  "Fine."

"Are you sure?" he persisted, sounding genuinely concerned.  "You sound a little stressed out . . ."

"I'm fine," she insisted.  "I've just had a lot on my mind lately."

"Work?"

"It's nothing," she said.

"I see," he mused.  "I was just wondering . . . I mean, I know you're friends with that rock star guy, right?  Zel Roka?  The one you're representing?"

It was unbelievably hard to keep his features blanked at the mention of Zel Roka.  Somehow he managed it, though . . . 'Just what the hell is that little twerp thinking?' he couldn't help asking himself.

'Dunno,' his youkai-voice replied.  'Now shut up and listen, will you?'

Evan snorted inwardly but didn't dare look at Valerie even though he could feel her gaze on him.

"Yeah, what about him?"

"Well, I was taking with Chester Fortham—you know, the head of the Straussman Fund?  Anyway, I mentioned that you were an attorney and that you worked with some fairly famous people, so he asked me who all you'd represented, and I mentioned Zel Roka—" He uttered a rather twittery laugh.  "It was the only name I could remember, actually—and he said that his daughter is a huge fan of his.  I don't know if it'd be possible, but I thought that if he didn't mind, maybe you could get an autographed picture or something?"

'An autographed picture?  For the daughter of some bastard that the little peckerhead is trying to schmooze?' Evan's youkai scoffed.  'Tell him to bite your big weenie!'

'Shut up,' Evan grumbled.  'I do autographs all the time.  What does one more matter?  And for the record?  I'd rather that he doesn't touch my weenie, thanks . . .'

'That's not the point!  That little shit is trying to use V's relationship with you to further his own agenda!  And fine then . . . Tell him to bite my big weenie, then!'

'You don't have a weenie,' Evan shot back.  'Now be quiet, can't you?  I think she's getting a little pissed off . . .'

It was true, if the crackle in her aura meant anything at all.  She hesitated for a moment before answering, and Evan wasn't at all surprised when she turned away and lowered her voice to a tight, clipped, carefully contained tone.  "You didn't tell him that I'd do that for her, did you?  I can't take advantage of my position as his attorney to ask him for favors like that."

"Oh, no," Marvin insisted quickly.  "I just thought it'd be a nice surprise; that's all . . . I didn't mean to make it sound like I expected you to do anything, really . . . Of course you shouldn't do that, and I didn't mean to imply that you should . . ."

She sighed.  "No, it's okay," she replied.  "I'm sorry I snapped at you."

"You didn't," he assured her.  "It was my fault for making it sound like it was something I expected you to do . . ."

"It's okay," she told him again with a heavy sigh that completely belied her next statement.  "I'm glad you called."

"Me, too," he said, apparently ready to let the subject drop.  "Hey, I've got to get going.  I'm supposed to meet Chester for dinner in twenty minutes . . . Give me a call if you need me?"

"Sure," she said.  "Bye."

"Bye."

Letting out a deep breath, she stashed the phone into her purse once more before slowly turning to face Evan.

"So what'd good ol' Morris have to say?" he asked, careful to keep his tone completely neutral.

"Nothing, really," Valerie replied.  "He, uh . . . He just wanted to tell me how he's doing."

For the briefest of moments, Evan considered calling her on the blatant lie.  About a fast as the thought occurred to him, though, he dismissed it.  She'd just end up either angry or feeling bad, and what was the point of that?

Or asking him how in the hell he'd overheard the conversation, in the first place.

He started walking again, ambling along slowly enough that she quickly fell into step beside him.  They didn't talk, and that was all right.  The cold wasn't quite so bad in the relative protection of the trees, and there was something comforting in the sound of their footsteps on the path.

'Damn . . . Did you notice what I did?' his youkai-voice asked.

'What?  That that little shithead has impeccable timing, as always?' Evan countered.

His youkai snorted.  'That, too, but no.'

'Then what?'

'She didn't tell him that she's going to Kentucky; that's what . . . and what's more?  Do you think she's told him anything at all about her father?  Her parents?'

He considered that for a moment then brushed the thought aside.  'Who the hell cares?'

'You should, idiot,' his youkai shot back.  'Think about it, will you?  Don't you think that it's a pretty significant thing that she's about to do?'

'So?'

His youkai sighed.  'So if you were her?  Don't you think that you should want your fiancé—the man you say you're going to marry—to be with you?  Not some stupid rockstar, but your fiancé?'

Scowling as he ignore the rise of irritation at Valerie's ever-absent fiancé, Evan kept walking.  'Like it matters,' he retorted as he kept moving.  'It's not about me—none of it.  It's about her.'

'Yeah, it is . . . and she wants you there—not Munchkin.  That says a helluva lot, don't you think?  Not that  he'd be able to make the time to go with her, considering he's too busy burying his nose up everyone's ass who has some money . . . Between that and representing the Lollipop Guild, he's pretty damn full up, time-wise, wouldn't you say?'

Evan didn't respond to that.  What was there to say?  It just wasn't surprising, was it?  Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't.  He'd realized long ago that Valerie just didn't rely on Marvin that way.  He had the feeling that she never actually had.  He had the feeling that she'd made it a point over the years not to rely upon anyone but herself . . .

Glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, he stifled a sigh.  At some point during the silence, she'd dug her gloves out of her pockets, and though she didn't say a word, he could tell that she was cold.  "Do you want to go back?" he asked quietly.

She blinked and started, as though she had forgotten that he was there beside her.  "N . . . No, I'm good," she assured him.  "Maybe just a little farther . . ."

"Okay," he said without breaking his stride.  "But I gotta tell you, V: those are just not good shoes for hiking . . ."

She stared at him for a moment before glancing down at her feet—and the black suede pumps with three inch stack-heels.  Then she laughed softly.  "That's why women are tougher than men," she insisted.

"Because you can walk around in those?"

She nodded.  "I'm pretty sure that Madison could run a marathon in her heels."

Evan chuckled, too.  "Yeah, she probably could," he agreed.  "I used to tease her all the time because she always wore shoes like that—well, she did go through a boot phase in high school.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that she's always had a thing for shoes, in general . . ."

Valerie shook her head though her smile hadn't diminished.  "When we first became friends, I told her that I had maybe ten pairs of shoes, and I thought she was going to cry."

"Only ten?" Evan countered with a grin.  "Damn, V.  That's sad."

She wrinkled her nose.  "It isn't," she insisted.  "Maybe I didn't have a lot of shoes, but the ones that I did have were very, very nice."

"Yeah, but shoes are practically Maddy's religion," Evan pointed out somewhat philosophically.  "Only having ten pairs is akin to blasphemy, as far as she's concerned."

Valerie rolled her eyes but laughed.  "I have more now," she pointed out.

"And how many of those were Madison-inspired purchases?"

Her smile widened a little bit.  "Most of them," she allowed.  "The point is, I own more than ten pairs now.  That's all."

Evan watched as she pulled her coat a little closer around her, and he stifled a sigh as he shrugged his coat off and dropped it over her shoulders.  She shot him a quick glance then started to yank it off, only to stop when his hand closed over hers.  "You're cold," he told her, as though it was a foregone conclusion.  "Not really dressed for the weather, huh?"

"You're going to catch a cold," she told him, frowning in a wholly disapproving kind of way.

"I'm okay," he assured her with a little grin.  "I'll let you know if I get cold."

She didn't look like she believed him.  "It's freezing out here, Roka," she pointed out reasonably.  "Here.  Take this back."

"No," he insisted, brushing her hands away when she made to pull the coat off again.  "This jacket's pretty warm, anyway.  Wool, you know."

She narrowed her gaze and snorted.  "It's a dinner jacket," she corrected, "and it doesn't matter if it's wool or not, it's not meant to be warm."  Suddenly, she stopped, only to give him a suspect glance before she started walking again.  "I thought you hated to dress like that," she reminded him, waving a hand at his outfit in case he thought about feigning ignorance.

"I don't mind it every now and then," he corrected her.  "Besides, you can't really eat at Glaciens without the appropriate attire."

She didn't look like she completely bought into his reasoning, but she must've figured that she wasn't going to get much more out of him, either, because she finally gave a little shrug and let out a deep breath, instead.  "Well, you look nice tonight," she told him.  "Did you take out your nose stud?"

He chuckled as they turned to take the path that would lead back toward the area where they'd entered the park.  "Had to look somewhat respectable, didn't I?" he teased.

"As if that's possible," she retorted.

She fell silent again as they kept walking.  Evan had a feeling that there was something on her mind; something that she was trying to figure out, something that she wasn't quite ready to voice out loud just yet . . .

That was okay, wasn't it?  She'd get around to talking if and when she was ready.  She always did.

The evening was falling deeper into the shadows of the night.  The tree line took on the rusty glow of the myriad of city lights that collectively held the darkness at bay—the kind of light that could only be found in the bigger cities of the world.  It defied the natural order of things, thumbing its nose as the otherwise insurmountable forces of nature, creating a living, breathing pulse that stood against the gentler powers of daylight and darkness.

"He's not eligible to be placed on the national transplant list," Valerie said quietly, shattering the silence that had fallen between them.

Evan nodded.  "I saw that."

She sighed, tightening her arms around herself.  "They tested my mother and . . . and my brother and sister, but none of them were matches."

A hint of a frown drew Evan's brows together as he started to comprehend just what she was hesitating to say.  "I read that, too," he admitted.

Nodding slowly, keeping her gaze trained downward, she rolled her shoulders like she was trying to affect a stronger stance.  "What . . . what if they ask me?  What if they want me to be tested, too?"

"What should you do, you mean?" he asked gently.

She nodded once but stubbornly avoided his gaze.  "Y-Yeah . . ."

He stifled a sigh.  In truth, he wasn't sure what he really wanted to say about that.  The decent part of him said that he should encourage her to do it, anyway.  The rest of him?  That was easy.  The rest of him figured that they didn't have the right to ask her for a goddamned thing . . .

"Why don't you worry about that later, V?" he suggested at length.  "One thing at a time, okay?"

She finally lifted her gaze, her eyes veiled in shadows, sparkling like the stars in a midnight sky.  "One thing at a time?" she repeated.

He nodded and reached for her hand.  "Yes," he insisted, pulling her closer next to him as his fingers closed around her cool leather glove.  "One thing at a time . . ."


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A/N:
'Forgotten Children' first appeared on Tokio Hotel's 2007 release, Scream.  Song written by and copyrighted to Dave Roth, Patrick Benzner, David Jost, Peter Hoffmann, Tom Kaulitz, Bill Kaulitz, and Rebecca Roth.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Testing …?
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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~
Chapter 152
Chapter 154
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