InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Valentine's Day ( Chapter 154 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Four~~
~Valentine's Day~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-
'Dusty words lying under carpets
'Seldom heard, well, must you keep your secrets
'Locked inside, hidden deep from view…?'

'Was it all that hard, is it all that tough …?
'Now I've shown you all my cards, well, isn't that enough …?
'You can hide your hurt, but there's something you can't do ...'

-'Talk to Me' by Stevie Nicks.


-Evan-


"Do you want to go get some dinner?"

Valerie started and whirled around to face him, an immediate and livid blush exploding under the surface of her skin.  "Pardon?"

Smiling just a little, Evan hauled himself out of the overstuffed chair and ambled over to the window.   "I asked if you wanted to go get some dinner," he said again.

"Oh," she said, tucking her hair back behind her ear as she shot another almost nervous glance out the window again.  "I'm, uh . . . I'm not really hungry," she said.

He nodded and reached over to rub her back when she turned to stare outside once more.  "Okay," he replied, wishing that he could think of some way to calm her down.  Seeing her so on edge was painful . . . "You know," he said, slipping behind her, folding his arms around her as he pulled her back against his chest.  "There's a really great Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.  I could draw a bath for you . . . add some of those smelly soapy-crystal-y things that girls seem to love . . .?  You could have a good soak, maybe read a book or something?  Try to relax a little bit?"

"That might be all right," she decided at length, craning her neck to give him a rather uncertain little smile, then shook her head.  "I can get it."

"Nah," he said, letting his arms drop away from her.  "I'll take care of it."

The smile on her face was reward enough, as far as Evan was concerned.  Wavering and wan, sure, but her gaze was a little clearer than it had been since he'd picked her up early this morning on the way to the airport.

Heading down the hallway toward the master bedroom, Evan heaved a sigh.  She'd barely said more than a handful of sentences since they'd arrived at the Lexington Plaza Hotel and checked into the best suite the place had to offer  a couple hours ago.

He'd wanted to book a hotel closer to Valerie's parents' home, but it hadn't taken him long to find out that there wasn't one in Durkes, not even a bad one.  At least Lexington was only about a twenty minute drive, so it wasn't too bad.  He'd suggested that they could drive over and take a look around if she was up for it shortly after they'd checked in, but she'd looked so freaked out by that suggestion that he'd let it drop.

Of course he could understand why she was being so reticent.  He supposed that if he were in her shoes, he would be, too.  Still, he hoped that he could get her mind off of it, at least for a little while, long enough for her to relax.  He had the feeling, though, that it wouldn't really be possible unless or until she actually did what she came here to do.

"Foaming bath salts . . . roses and vanilla milk, lavender and chamomile, or green tea and white ginger," he read aloud as he touched the panel to start the flow of water into the tub.  Lavender and chamomile was supposed to be a relaxing combination, wasn't it?  Giving a little shrug, he reached for one of the single bath sized packets in the basket near the tub and ripped off the top.  "Not bad," he decided as he sniffed the contents before dumping them into the water.  The bluish-purple powder dissipated the second it hit the water, and a moment later, the entire room was filled with the supposedly soothing scent.

Evan sneezed and stuck his fingers under the flow of water then bumped up the temperature control a few degrees, then rubbed his nose and strode out of the bathroom before he ended up having a sneezing fit.

He'd let Valerie have the master bathroom, mostly because he thought she'd like that the windows would catch the morning sunlight, and her suitcase was still on the floor beside the bureau where the porter had left it.  It didn't take him long to dig out her sweatpants and oversized tee-shirt that she normally wore to bed along with a very nice pair of very skimpy pink lace panties and a pair of thick socks in case her feet were cold.

'You know, there's a good chance that you're going to burn in hell for staring at her panties when you're supposed to be gathering her things for her bath,' his youkai-voice chided.  'Damn pervert.'

'But they're so . . . ho-o-o-o-ot . . .' he whined, holding up the panties as he gave them another good look-over.

'Yeah, yeah, they are,' his youkai agreed, 'but you better quit messing with them or you're gonna—aw, hell, too late.'

Evan made a face and tossed the clothes over his shoulder to free up a hand so he could adjust his jeans since they'd suddenly gotten extremely uncomfortable.  'Do you suppose she'd be willing to model these for us?'

His youkai sighed.  'No, unfortunately, I don't think she would.'

"All right, Roka.  Just what do you think you're doing with my panties?"

Grimacing inwardly, he slowly turned to face Valerie, who was leaning in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest while looking entirely nonplussed at having found him in her room with her panties in front of his face.  "Oh, hey, V," he said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.

She blinked a few times, her expression quite blank, as she stared at him.  Then she stalked across the room and yanked her panties out of his grasp.  "You weren't doing anything twisted, were you?  Like sniffing these or something?"

"Of course not!" he scoffed then shot her a sheepish grin.  "I hadn't gotten that far yet."

"So gross," she muttered, shaking her head as she reached for the clothes slung over his shoulder.

He heaved an inward sigh as she stalked off toward the bathroom.

"You need help?" he called after her.

"Forget it, Roka," she tossed back over her shoulder without breaking her stride.  "I'm on to you."

His laughter followed her into the bathroom, only to die away when the door closed behind her.  Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he sighed.  Might as well order something from room service.  He had a feeling that she wasn't really going to feel like going out, anyway . . .


-Valerie-


The hot water was quite soothing—or it would be, Valerie supposed, if she weren't already wound tighter than a spring.  She hadn't bothered to bring her eBook reader in with her, anyway.  There was no way she'd be able to concentrate on a book at the moment.

Easy to say that she needed to confront her parents, especially her father, before it was too late.  It sounded a lot simpler than it really was.  For the last week, she felt as though time was crawling, leaving her far too much time to think, to remember.  Now that she was here, however . . .

Heaving a sigh, she stuck out her leg, pointing her toe to hit the control for the water jets, turning them down a notch.  The bubbles that had clung to her foot slid down the slick tile wall, gathering in a foamy white glob on the edge of the tub as she lowered her leg back into the steaming water.

Everything was so unsettled.  The last week had made her question everything about herself, hadn't it?  Even the simplest of things that she'd thought that she'd known seemed to have unraveled in front of her eyes, but the part of it that bothered her the most was that she was positive that her life wasn't going to have a hope in hell of getting back to a semblance of 'normal' until she dealt with her parents, one way or another . . .

And then there was Evan . . .

Leaning back and closing her eyes as she sank a little deeper beneath the bubbles on the surface of the water, Valerie bit her lip.  Not for the first time, she couldn't help but feel like she was somehow taking complete and utter advantage of him, dragging him along on this trip.  He was a busy man with better, more important things to do than to go running around Kentucky to hold her hand while she broke down time and time again, and while he hadn't complained at all, she couldn't help the sense of guilt that surged through her every time she stopped to think about it.

"V, how the hell can you stand these?"

Valerie gasped and started to sit up straight when Evan pushed the door open and strode into the bathroom.  Before she could, however, she remembered that it would be a horrible idea, and she sank down lower, her cheeks blossoming in embarrassed color as she squelched a little shriek and turned to glower at him.

And blinked.  "Wh—What the . . .?" she muttered, disbelief registering in her tone at the sight of him, standing there in the middle of the bathroom, looking entirely uncomfortable, which wasn't at all surprising, all things considered . . . "Oh, my God," she groaned, wrinkling her nose in abject disgust.  "Why are you wearing my panties?" she demanded.

He grimaced and thrust out his hips, reaching behind himself to dig the pale peach g-string out of his butt crack.  "Jesus, woman!  How the fuck can you stand these?" he grouched, shifting his weight from one foot to the other in a perverse sort of dance.

She winced.  Damned if it wasn't like a train wreck: she knew well enough that shouldn't look, but hell if she could make herself stop . . . "Ugh . . . that's something I just don't need to see," she muttered, shaking her head in disbelief.  "Your balls are squishing out the sides . . ." She shuddered.  "Tell me that's not what I think it is . . ."

"What isn't?" he asked.

She sighed and slowly shook her head.  "Whatever's sticking out of the top of them . . ."

He actually had to look down to see what she was talking about.  "It's my penis, woman.  It wouldn't fit."

Her grimace deepened.  "Ugh."

"I know!" he complained, bending his knees outward as he stooped over to do some more digging.  "Shit!  I think they're cutting me in half . . ."

"Why are you trying to wear them?" she demanded in a half-whine.

He blinked and stood up straight, looking rather confused by her question.  "Well, because," he said, his tone indicating that he thought she should already know the answer to that one.  "I wanna feel pretty . . ."

Snapping her mouth closed, it took a moment for Valerie to digest what he'd just said, and when she finally did, she snorted.  "There's nothing at all 'pretty' about that," she insisted, waving a hand up and down.

"Keh!  No wonder you've been kind of grumpy this week," he grouched, hopping up and down, apparently thinking that it would help.  It didn't.  Valerie grimaced.  All that did was make things bounce—things that she never, ever wanted to see doing it.  "You're walking around with a permanent wedgie!"

She rolled her eyes.  "It's a g-string, Roka!  It's supposed to be that way!"

"See, now," he went on as though she hadn't spoken at all, "this is exactly why I don't wear underpants."

"Get them off!" she demanded, leveling her most formidable scowl at him to emphasis her words.  "But not in—"

"Okay."

"—here," she said with a sigh as he whipped the panties down and tossed them into the air with a flick of his leg.  He caught them and tossed them onto the counter next to the tub atop the clothes that she'd brought in with her to change into.

"Aw, damn . . . I think it's broke," he muttered as he headed out of the bathroom once more.  Valerie watched him go, rolling her eyes since he had his right hand jammed in his butt crack, rubbing to dispel the feel of the string, she supposed.  "Sorry, guys . . . Don't worry.  I'll give you both a good rubbing . . ."

Heaving a sigh when the door finally closed again, Valerie made a face and hesitated for just a moment before pushing herself up so she could reach the panties on the counter.  With a grimace, she picked them up between her thumb and index finger like they were contaminated with the Plague and pitched them into the nearby trash can before settling back in the tub once more.

"Idiot," she grumbled in the quiet room, closing her eyes and trying to force the lingering visual out of her mind.  She was going to have nightmares for a year; she just knew it . . .

Too bad it was a little amusing.  A moment later, she broke into a little smile.  A moment after that, she couldn't help the giggle that escaped her as she slowly shook her head.  "Absolutely demented . . ."


-Evan-


Evan yawned and stretched out, making a face at the unsettling feeling of trying to sleep in a bed that wasn't his.  It was a familiar enough feeling.  After having spent so much time on the road, he would have thought that he'd be used to it by now, but he wasn't, and he didn't figure that he ever would be, and it always had to spend a moment or two getting used to it before he could actually close his eyes and fall asleep—unless he was too damn drunk or strung out to care, but those things didn't happen too often.

That wasn't really the problem tonight, though.

No, the problem tonight was the woman sleeping in the room across the hall.

Okay, so he highly doubted that she was actually sleeping, despite the weariness that seemed to hang off of her like an invisible cloud that originated with her . . .

He'd done everything he could think of to distract her: to get her mind off of the reason they were here—at least, for the night, anyway—and it had worked, to a point . . .

'I'm still numb—and not in a good way,' his youkai complained.

Grimacing at the not-so-subtle reminder of the panty stunt earlier, Evan grinned wanly.  'It did make her laugh,' he pointed out.

'Yeah, there's that, but damn . . . next time, try to find panties that are closer to our size, will you?'

He snorted though the smile didn't dissipate completely.  'Next time?  Hopefully there won't be a 'next time' . . . although I have to admit, you'd have thought that it would have felt a little weirder than it did, wouldn't you?'

'Keh . . . Do you think Bugsy wears those atrocities?'

'They weren't that bad,' he corrected.  'In fact, they're pretty hot . . . just not necessarily on me . . . As for Bugsy, it would explain a helluva lot, don't you think?'

His youkai sighed.

Sighing in the quiet room, Evan reached over to turn off the lamp and was just settling back down again when the soft knock sounded on the door.  A moment later, Valerie peeked into the room.  "E-Evan?" she whispered.

"Hey, V," he replied gently, pushing himself up on his elbow.  "What's up?"

Lingering in the doorway, she shuffled her bare feet—he could hear the rub of her soles against the carpet.  Arms crossed protectively over her stomach, she sighed.  "If you're tired, I'll leave you alone . . ." she murmured, a hint of reluctance entering her voice.  "It's just that I . . . I can't sleep."

Scooting over, he held a hand out to her.  "Come here," he coaxed.

She hesitated for a moment, as though she were trying to decide if going over to him was really a good idea or not . . . or maybe she was trying to decide if she was showing some sort of perceived weakness . . .

In the end, however, she must have decided that her pride could stand to lose one round, and she slowly shuffled over to the bed, dropping something on the nightstand that he ignored.

"I . . . I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your coming with me," she said as she sat down on the edge, one of her legs bent and folded under the other one that was still on the floor.  "You didn't have to, but . . ." Twisting her fingers together into a moving knot, she shrugged almost helplessly.  "But you did, and . . . and I'm not so sure that I would have been able to if you hadn't . . ."

"You would have," he told her with a smile.  "You're stronger than you think."

"No," she said in a long exhalation.  "I'm not; not really . . ."

"Don't sell yourself short, Counselor," he said, his light tone meant to reassure her.

She shook her head, still staring down at her hands.  "I never thought I'd be back here again," she admitted quietly.  ''No, that's not right.  I never wanted to come back here again," she amended.  "After I grew up, that is . . ."

Evan nodded and reached out, grasping her wrist and tugging on her arm to pull her down beside him.  When she finally complied, he wrapped his arms around her and planted a kiss on her forehead.  "It's okay, you know," he told her gently.  "You've got nothing to be ashamed of.  I mean, think about it.  You grew up, you went to college, you went to grad school . . . You became a lawyer, and no one did any of that for you.  You did it all, and if anyone deserves to hold her head high, you do."

Her face was half veiled in shadows, half glowing in the paltry light afforded by the glowing city outside the windows, but her eyes shone dark, glittering pinpoints, alight in the terrible dimness.  "You're a good friend, Evan," she murmured, unconsciously huddling a little closer to him, seeking the reassurance that she really wasn't alone.  "I know . . . I know you said that you never wanted to be my friend, but—"

His sigh cut her off.  "That's not what I meant, V," he said, a certain gruffness tingeing his voice.  "I like being your friend."

The expression that entered her gaze caught him off guard for a moment.  She understood, didn't she?  Knew what he was saying—and on some level, a part of her wanted that, too, even if she didn't really know it yet.  No matter what she thought, what she believed, she wanted the same things he did, even if it was on a purely subconscious level at the moment . . . "I do, too," she replied, a weak little smile quirking her lips.  Wan and hesitant, but heartfelt . . .

He let himself indulge in her smile for a minute, letting the silence become a comfortable thing as he extended his youki, willed it to wrap around her, to lend her a sense of strength even if she thought hers was faltering, and to his relief, he could feel the tenseness in her body seem to drain away just a little bit.

"Oh, hey," he said suddenly, sitting up and tossing the blankets back.  "I almost forgot . . ."

Valerie sat up, too, blinking in confusion as he flicked the light back on and tumbled out of the bed and onto his feet.  "Forgot what?"

He spared a moment to cast her a cheesy grin as he strode over to his suitcase and dug into it for the small wrapped package and card.  "It's Valentine's Day!" he reminded her as he strode back to the bed and dropped the gift into her lap.

She stared at the package for a moment then slowly shook her head.  "I know," she ventured as she reached over to retrieve the thing she'd put on the nightstand before she'd sat down and held it out to him.

For some reason, the idea that she'd actually remembered the silly holiday in the middle of everything else pleased him far more than he could credit.  "Thanks," he said as he turned the envelope over in his hands, his grin widening when he saw what she'd written on the front in her neat handwriting: Roka, it said.

He tore it open and tugged out the card, a bark of laughter escaping him before he could think about it.  The exceedingly large and apparently very naked woman on the front of the card was holding a huge red heart that said, 'If you show me yours . . .'

"Oh, damn," Evan remarked, his grin widening as he opened the card.  On the inside, the woman was pictured again, still holding out her arms though the giant heart was missing—and yes, she really was very, very naked—and even bigger than he'd first thought, too . . . '. . . I'll show you mine!' was written underneath the picture.

Valerie giggled as she read the card he'd picked out for her.  "Did you buy this at Thompson's Novelties?" she asked, arching an eyebrow as she peered over the top of her card.

He laughed.  "Well, no," he confessed, understanding her question since he'd gotten her what amounted to the male equivalent of the same card.  "Wow, that's a really big girl . . . and she's hot," he quipped.

Valerie snorted though her smile didn't dissipate.  "Now I'm really going to have nightmares," she informed him with an exaggerated shake of her head.  "Between the panty stunt and this card, I may never be able to close my eyes again . . ."

"Yeah, yeah," he said, propping the card open so that it would remain upright on the nightstand.  "Open the box, V.  Open the box."

She shot him an almost wary look despite the sparkling in her eyes, and she tore into the paper.  The expression on her face took on a more quizzical lilt as she opened the plain white cardboard box and pulled out one of the fortune cookies inside.  "You got me cookies?" she asked with a shake of her head.

He plopped back down on the bed and shrugged.  "Yeah, but those are special ones," he informed her happily.

A hint of foreboding flickered to lift in her eyes and only grew in intensity as she eyed the box of seemingly harmless cookies.  "Special, how?" she asked reluctantly.

He chuckled.  "Open one and see."

She sighed, looking more and more reluctant with every moment that passed.  In the end, though, she tore the plastic and cracked the first cookie open.  "'Wise man say never trust man with small penis'," she read then rolled her eyes.  She tried for a stern expression, but it was ruined when she giggled.  "There's something wrong with you," she informed him, tossing half of the cookie at Evan.

He caught it in his mouth and chewed it up.  "Nice, right?"

She snorted.  "Only you would think of something like that."

He grinned and reached out to pull her back down beside him again.  "Yeah, there are a lot of great Roka-isms in that box.  You can read them all tomorrow."

She leaned away long enough to set the box back on the nightstand again before huddling close to him once more, and he turned the light off again.

She seemed content enough just to be near him.  Well, maybe not him, per se, he thought with an inward sigh.  Maybe she just needed to be close to someone, and that was all right, too.

"Evan?" she said, her voice a whisper.

"Hmm?"

She sighed softly.  "What if . . .?"

"What if?" he repeated when she trailed off.

She sighed again, louder this time.  "What if . . . What if they . . . they don't recognize me . . .?"

"They'll recognize you," he told her gently.

She considered that for a moment.  "I don't know . . . It's been . . . Well, it's been a while . . ."

"What's meant to happen will happen," he assured her, "and no matter what does happen, you'll be fine."

Her silence was dubious, at best, not that he could blame her for that.


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A/N:
'Talk to Me' first appeared on Stevie Nicks' 1985 release, Rock a Little.  Song written by and copyrighted to Chas Sandford.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Twisted fortune cookiesThat figures ...
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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 153
Chapter 155
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