InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Cornered ( Chapter 160 )

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

-OoO oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Still like that old time rock n' roll
'That kind of music just soothes the soul
'I reminisce about the days of old
'With that old time rock n' roll ...'

-'Old Time Rock and Roll' by Bob Seger.


"You and V are really just friends?"

Blinking in surprise at Jack's sudden question, Evan couldn't help the grin that surfaced on his face as he met the man's frank gaze.  "Yeah," he said with an offhanded shrug.  "Is that so hard to believe?"

Jack didn't look impressed with Evan's assertions.  "Doesn't really strike me as a 'friendly' sort of vacation for you—coming here with her," he mused.  "Seems more like the kind of thing that a boyfriend would do—a serious boyfriend, at that . . ."

"Eh, I didn't have anything else to do," he insisted, purposefully ignoring the underlying meaning of Jack's words.

Jack stared at him for several seconds before slowly nodding.  He must have figured that he wasn't going to get more of an answer out of Evan on the subject because he smiled slightly and reached down to adjust the oxygen unit beside the recliner.  "If you say so," he relented.

Evan chuckled.

Valerie was in the kitchen with her mother.  He wasn't sure what they were doing, but it was all right.  He could share her, he supposed, as long as it was for a good cause, like rebuilding her relationship with her parents . . .

Garret shuffled into the living room, face contorted in a wide yawn, scratching his chest with one hand and rubbing his mop of bed-hair with the other.  Plopping down on the sofa, he didn't seem very awake, and for a moment, Evan really wondered whether or not the kid was actually aware of where he was . . .

"That's what you get for staying out so late," Jack remarked without preamble as he stared at his son.

Garret managed to grin a bit dopily between yawns.  "It wasn't that late," he mumbled.

"Yeah, your mama said that you were still out when she left for work at eleven," Jack pointed out.

"I got home around midnight," Garret replied.  "I always get home around midnight when I have to close."

"Hmm," Jack intoned, settling back a little deeper into the recliner, "so why are you home today?"

Garret shot Evan a somewhat nervous sort of glance then cleared his throat.  "W-Well, we weren't doing anything important today, and Mom said it was okay.  Besides, I wanted to get up on the roof to check it out.  Kase said that it was leaking over her bed the other night when it was raining."

"Aw, shit," Jack grumbled.

"No shit," Garret retorted with a cheesy grin.

Jack rolled his eyes but smiled wanly.  "Don't you get all lippy now, boy," he warned though the grin on his face widened just a bit.

'Whatever you do, don't look.'

Evan frowned at his youkai-voice's cryptic warning.  'Yeah, I know,' he replied.  There was something entirely unsettling in the way the kid was looking at him, no doubt about it.

"Anyway," Garret said, leaning forward and rubbing his palms on the fabric of his jeans, "I was thinking about going to the store in a little while.  Mind if I take the car?"

Jack considered that as he fumbled with a bottle of pain reliever.  Evan started to reach over to take it, but thought better of it.  He didn't really want to step on the man's pride, after all, even if he seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the safety cap.  "You won't be gone too long, will you?  Your mama gets worried . . ."

"Uh, no," Garret assured him, casting a sidelong glance at Evan once more.  He hesitated for a moment then seemed to swallow hard before he went on.  "I was just going to see if they've got that new video in."

"New video?" Jack echoed.

Garret nodded quickly.  "Yeah—that new Zel Roka one—live in Los Angeles . . ."

'Err, Roka . . .?' Evan's youkai-voice drawled.

'I know; I know," he thought before the voice could continue.  'Not a word.  Gotcha.'

"Oh, yeah," Jack continued as Garret stood up and wandered over to take the bottle of pills from him.  The boy popped it open and handed it back.  "Thanks."

Garret nodded and shifted from one foot to the other.  "So, is it okay?"

Jack shrugged and shook a couple pills out of the bottle.  "I don't care.  Make sure it's okay with your mama first."

"Okay," Garret said, casting Evan yet another quick glance.  "You and V are going to be here a while, right?"

Evan blinked and nodded.  "Sure," he replied, ignoring the feeling that something was most definitely off.

Garret finally broke into a grin.  "That's cool."  Then he shuffled off toward the kitchen, likely to ask his mother if it was all right with her if he borrowed the car.  A couple minutes later, he hurried back through the living room, tossing the car keys in the air and catching them effortlessly.  "Be back in a few," he promised as he grabbed his coat and kept moving toward the door.

"Be careful," Jack called after him.  Garret waved over his shoulder but didn't stop moving.  "That boy'll watch the video a hundred times in the next couple days," he remarked after Garret's departure.

"What's that?" Evan asked, shifting his attention back to the man once more.

Jack chuckled.  "He idolizes that guy," he went on.  "Hell, I think he might've wanted to learn to play guitar because of Roka, not me—seriously playing, that is."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Evan drawled.  "I'm sure you had a hell of a lot to do with it."

"Aw, come on.  I know the score.  Kids don't do squat because of their parents—at least, they try not to.  It's that whole rebellious thing, right?"  He uttered a wheezing kind of laugh followed in quick succession by a rattling cough.  "I started playing because I wanted to imitate the rock stars I idolized.  It's the same for Garret—well, playing seriously, anyway . . ."

Evan considered that for a long moment then nodded.  He supposed that there was a measure of truth in what Jack had said.

"I know you," Jack suddenly remarked.

Evan blinked and glanced at the old man quickly.  "Know me?" he echoed with a shake of his head.  He'd been careful not to let the proverbial cat out of the bag, hadn't he?  Not that he really minded if Valerie's family knew the real connection between himself and Zel Roka, but, considering what they were in Kentucky for, he didn't necessarily want to take away from that, either . . .

Jack nodded, a completely self-satisfied sort of smirk surfacing on his face.  "Yeah . . . You write songs, don't you?  Knew I'd heard your name before, so I had Kaci Lea look you up on the internet.  You won a Grammy few years back, right?"

He chuckled a little guiltily.  "Damn, you're pretty good," he confessed.  "That's me."

"I thought so," Jack went on.  "You ever get a say in who buys your songs?"

Letting out a deep breath, Evan gave an offhanded shrug.  "Nah, but I don't really care.  They pay for 'em, so it's all good.  Besides, it's nice to hear one of my songs on the radio."

Jack considered that, and then slowly nodded.  "I suppose it is, at that."

The irony of it all did not escape him, however.  Evan figured that there was a good chance that Jack wasn't overly impressed with Evan's work, if that was the case.  After all, most of the songs he sold to other artists were pretty pop-ish, very mainstream, and not in the least 'rock'.  In fact, if anyone ever did make the connection between Evan Zelig and Zel Roka, he figured he'd never hear the end of it, all things considered.

"Kaci Lea likes your songs pretty well," Jack went on thoughtfully.  "Says all the girls at school like that new one—it's catchy."

Evan very nearly laughed out loud at that.  The man's careful choice of words was telling, wasn't it?  Not a fan of the admittedly light style of the song he'd written over a year ago that was recorded by pop diva Shasta Veruna for her most recent album.  It was all right, though, as far as he was concerned.  After all, it wasn't like Jack knew that he was Zel Roka or he'd never live it down . . .

Valerie wandered into the living room with a glass of ice water in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  "Mom said you're supposed to take your pills," she said without preamble as she handed the water to her father.  "Are you feeling okay today?"

Jack made a face but took the glass and set it down on the table so that he could reach for the pill container.  "I'm fine, little girl," he assured Valerie gruffly, looking a little uncomfortable with her very obvious concern.  "Don't worry about me, got it?"

For the briefest of moments, Valerie looked like she wasn't exactly sure how to react.  Then she handed the coffee to Evan and crossed her arms over her chest.  "I do worry about it," she remarked mildly.  "Do you need anything?  Another blanket or—"

Jack snorted and tugged on the afghan that was spread over him.  "Yeah," he retorted.  "I need you to go pester your mama a while.  You're interrupting man-talk in here."

Valerie snorted and rolled her eyes, but she let out a resigned sigh and relented.  "Okay," she agreed slowly, "but if you need anything . . ."

"I don't," Jack grumbled.  Then he gave an offhanded shrug.  "You didn't come here to take care of your old man.  Now go on and catch up some more with your mama.  She's more interesting than I am."

Smiling a little uncertainly, Valerie hesitated before following her father's orders.  Finally, she leaned down and kissed him on the cheek before slipping out of the room once more.  Evan wisely hid his amusement at the tinge of pink that rose in the man's pale cheeks.  "Stubborn little girl, ain't she?" he muttered under his breath despite the heightened sparkle in his eyes.

"I kind of like her that way," Evan replied.

Jack chuckled as he shook his pills out of the plastic caddy.  Evan gritted his teeth.  Six different pills, and it those were just his morning meds . . .

"Ahh," Jack sighed as he grimaced and forced down a healthy swig of water to chase the pills.  "Damn, I don't think I'll ever get used to that."

"What?  The number of pills?" Evan asked.

Jack shook his head and swallowed some more water.  "Hell, no," he griped, setting the glass down with a heavy thud.  "The one that tastes like horseshit."

Evan laughed as the man opened and closed his mouth a few times.  The expression on his face left no room in Evan's mind as to exactly what Jack thought of it, after all . . .

The front door opened, and Garret hurried into the house with a plastic bag in hand that he didn't let go of while he shrugged off his coat and hung it on the handle of the closet.  "Sorry it took so long," he said before Jack could comment on it.  "I ran into Fred Brown at the store, and he said he'd give us what's left of the roofing he's got for twenty."

"How much he got left?" Jack asked as Garret tossed the keys into his father's lap.  "Twenty, you say?"

Garret nodded, perching on the edge of the sofa and tugging a video out of the bag.  "Said he there should be enough to cover the back half of the trailer where it's starting to go bad."

Jack considered that, then slowly nodded.  "Twenty?  That all?"

"It's what he said," Garret replied, digging a pocket knife out of his pocket to cut through the security seals on the video.

"Tell your ma," Jack said.  "She'll run him some money later on."

"I already paid for it," Garret said absently.  "He said he'd drop it off later."

Jack scowled thoughtfully.  Evan figured that it grated on the man's nerves that his kid had paid for something that the man clearly saw as his responsibility.  "Oh . . . then tell your mama to give you twenty."

"It's all right," Garret said, standing up and waving the video.  "Can we watch it?"

"Yeah, okay," Jack muttered.  "It's supposed to be pretty nice tomorrow.  I'll see if I can't get up there and take a look around."

Garret glanced over his shoulder, pausing as he frowned at his father.  "I'll do it," he told him quickly.  "Besides, it's pretty nice out today.  I'll give the guys a call after school and see if they can come over and help out."

"Thought you had practice with your band later on," Jack reminded him.

Garret shrugged and scooted back, leaning over the coffee table to nab the remote control.  "Fixing the roof before it starts leaking is more important," he insisted.  "Don't worry about it, Dad.  I got it under control."

The conversation was abruptly interrupted when the video started.  Evan sat back, biting his lip as he tried not to pay too much attention to the television.  Garret turned up the volume, and Jack tapped his thigh as the first song started.

It was the first time that Evan had seen this particular footage.  He had known, of course, about the video, but he couldn't say that he normally sat down long enough to watch them, either.  The release of this one had been delayed when Dieter died since it had been filmed during the three shows they'd played just before the accident that had ultimately led Evan to meet Valerie . . .

"Damn," Garret muttered, more to himself than to anyone else in particular.  "He had to be one of the best bassists in rock—completely underrated . . ."

Evan blinked, tearing his eyes off the television in favor of staring at Valerie's younger brother.  Garret was watching without blinking.  His fingers were resting on his legs, but they were moving just a little, like he was following along with Dieter's playing—or trying to keep up.  "You, uh, you think so?" Evan heard himself asking before he stopped to think about it.  "Dieter, you mean?"

Garret nodded and still didn't look away.  "Yeah . . . He's got some bad-ass lines in there, you know?"  He paused and then shook his head.  "Wish I could've jammed with him just once . . ."

Evan smiled just a little.  "Y-Yeah."

Garret didn't say anything else for a while.  So engrossed in the video, he didn't seem to be paying attention to anything else, which was fine with Evan.  It was taking everything in him to keep himself from accidentally singing along.

'Yeah, but didn't you notice?'

Evan blinked and ground his foot against the floor to keep it from tapping along with the music.  'Notice what?'

His youkai-voice snorted.  'The kid . . . He keeps glancing at you.'

'Eh, you're seeing things,' Evan scoffed.  'He's watching that, not looking at me!  Why would he look at me, anyway?  I'm not Zel Roka!'

'You're—?' The voice snorted again.  'What do you mean, you're not Zel Roka?'

'Well, he doesn't know I'm Zel Roka, anyway,' Evan amended.

His youkai didn't respond to that, but if it had, Evan had the distinct feeling that the voice might well have called him 'stupid' . . . Garret stood up and hurried out of the living room, down the hallway that led to the bedrooms, and Evan emptied his coffee cup in a long gulp.

"The thing about that guy," Jack remarked idly as he watched the video, "is that he never does the same song twice."

"What's that?" Evan asked, glancing at the man.

Jack scratched his chin.  "Some of 'em just keep putting out the same song over and over—their shit all sounds the same.  He's different."

Garret slipped back into the room with a beat up old acoustic guitar.

'Oh, that's not good . . .'

'What?  It's a guitar, not a bomb or something.'

'Ye-e-e-eah . . .'

Evan tried to keep his eyes on the television, but he could see out of the corner of his eyes as Garret carefully plucked a string then turned the pin slightly to tighten it.  Then he glanced up at Evan without lifting his chin before turning his attention back to the guitar again and repeating the process with another note.

'I don't like how he keeps looking at you,' his youkai-voice pointed out suspiciously.

'Eh, it's fine.'

'Says you, rocker-boy, and you're not necessarily the brightest bulb in the box.  I'm telling you, I think he knows something."

'There you go again: thinking that there's something more to it than there really is.  Just because he's looked at us once or twice—'

'He just did it again.'

'—Or three times,' Evan amended smoothly, 'it doesn't mean anything.'

'You're an idiot.  Why did I get stuck with an idiot like you?'

'All the good spots were already taken,' Evan shot back.  'Dude . . . He's playing along . . .'

His youkai heaved a longsuffering sigh.

Garret was good—damn good.  Frowning in concentration as he strummed along with the song on the video, he seemed to be completely absorbed in it even though he did keep glancing at Evan out of the corner of his eye.

"You missed that part," Jack commented.

Garret shot his father a look and sighed.  "I can't get it right," he muttered, his scowl darkening.  "It goes by too fast, and it's just, like, a little tweak . . ." He glanced at Evan.  "So, uh . . . Do you play?"

'Oh, it's coming; I can feel it,' Evan's youkai-voice muttered.

'Shut the hell up.'  Evan sat back and shrugged in what he hoped was an offhanded kind of way.  "A little."

Garret blinked, glancing down at the old guitar before shifting enough to look at Evan a little closer.  "Yeah?  I don't suppose you know this song . . .?"

'You're gonna give yourself away, Roka.'

'Didn't I tell you to shut the hell up?'  He shrugged again.  "I might . . ."

For some reason, Garret didn't look at all surprised, but he did hesitantly hold out the guitar.  "Y-You could try it . . ."


'Hush.'  Reaching out to take the guitar, Evan pushed up the sleeve of the flannel shirt he'd pulled on this morning before settling the guitar on his leg.

"I knew it!" Garret suddenly blurted.

Evan blinked as the boy grabbed his wrist and yanked his arm over to inspect Evan's tattoos closer.

'A-A-And there it is,' his youkai sighed.  'Congratulations, rock star.  You're officially a moron.'

"You are him—I mean, you're you—I mean, you're—" Garret stammered.  Then he drew a sharp breath and grinned.  "You're Zel-fucking-Roka!"

"Uh . . . N-No," Evan drawled, trying in vain to deny what the boy had said.  "I'm—"

"I wasn't sure," Garret went on, completely ignoring Evan's claims to the contrary, "I mean, I thought you looked like him—err, you—but—"

"Uh . . ."

"You do kind of look like him—well, your hair color's different and stuff," Jack added, also eyeing Evan critically.

Evan heaved a sigh.  What was the point in trying to hide it now, anyway?  "All right," he relented with a grin.  "You caught me."

The color that had washed into Garret's skin seemed to drain away, all at once, and he looked a little stunned.  Evan supposed that it was probably the difference between thinking something and having it verified.  "Holy shit," he whispered, eyes rounding wide.  "Zel Roka's in my living room . . . Holy shit . . .! Holy shit!"

Evan laughed as he pulled his arm away from the boy's slack grip.  "It's not that big of a deal; I swear," he maintained.  "'Sides, I'm here with V, right?  So I'm not really Zel Roka—at least, not at the moment."

But that seemed to remind Garret of something altogether different, and he barked out an incredulous laugh.  "Oh, my God!  My sister runs around with Zel Roka!  How fucking cool is that?"

"Well, if you asked her, she'd say it's not nearly as cool as you seem to think it is," Evan deadpanned rather dryly.

Garret didn't seem to be listening.  "Shit!  Shit!  Uh . . . C-Can you play that song?  Uh, hell, of course you can," he babbled—another trait he apparently shared with Valerie—"I mean, would you?"

Evan laughed and played the part of the song in question—the part that Garret hadn't been able to get.  He could feel the boy's eyes on him, and he didn't doubt for a moment that the kid would have no trouble at all in playing the song later on.  He played a little longer, then handed the guitar back.  "Did you get that?"

Garret nodded and sank down on the coffee table facing Evan, the video apparently forgotten.  "Like this, right?" he asked, casting Evan a rather nervous kind of glance before playing the part back to him again.  "So that's what it was . . ."

Evan laughed.  "Not bad, Garret.  You catch on quick."

Garret blushed at what he considered to be praise from his favorite rock star, and his grin turned bashful.  "I, uh, I'm not really that good," he confessed with a little bob of the shoulders.  "I mean, I can't read music too well, and I really only play by ear."

"Yeah, well, you play better by ear than many guys do who can read the scores properly.  Don't worry about it.  You're not bad."

Garret looked absolutely beside himself, and he set the guitar aside, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and his full attention directly on Evan.  "Your new album is hot, man!   I mean, I love the others, too, but V?  V's just fucking hot!"

The amusement of his statement did not go unnoticed by Evan, and he laughed.  "Yeah, I think so, too," he replied, not actually referring to the album in question.

Garret laughed, but suddenly, he stopped.  His smile faltered then faded, only to be replaced by a rather disgruntled kind of expression as he considered something.  "Uh . . . V . . . Y-You're not singing about V—V, are you?  Like, Valerie V?  That V?"

"Hottest V I know," Evan quipped.

Garret's disgruntled expression shifted into one of severe horror.  "Oh, my God," he muttered at last.  "Do you know what your songs are about?"

Evan couldn't help but to laugh at the absurdity of that particular question.  "Of course I do."

Garret made a face.  "O-Oh . . . O-O-Oh . . ."

Jack cleared his throat.  "Just what have you been doing with my daughter?" he asked, and while he sounded mildly amused, Evan didn't miss the underlying seriousness in the man's tone, either.

'Oh, dig that hole, Roka.  Make sure it's at least six-feet-deep.'

'Shut up.'  Evan opened his mouth, ready to defend himself, all things considered.  "Well, I'm going to marry her," he said.

'Or deeper,' his youkai added.  'Then again, there ain't a hole in the earth deep enough to hide you from the Wrath of V when she finds out about this.'

"R-Really?" Garret stammered.  "You're going to marry my sister?"

"Yeah," Evan drawled.

"Oh, my God!  That's so fucking cool!  Holy shit!  My sister's going to be Mrs. Zel Roka!" Garret gushed.  All in all, he rather resembled an excited puppy . . .

'Oh, you lie.  You lie like a rug . . . and V's so gonna kill you . . .'

'It's not a lie,' Evan retorted, ignoring the truth in his youkai's cryptic words.  'I am going to marry her—she just doesn't realize that yet.'

"Oh . . . Well, I guess that's all right, then," Jack remarked, looking quite a bit happier since Evan cleared up that bit of confusion.

Garret looked happy, too—well, kind of.  He looked happier than he had, anyway, though he still looked more than a little disturbed by the idea that one of his favorite albums had been written about his sister's nether-regions . . . "If it's okay with  you, I-I think I'm going to pretend that the album's about a different V," he finally concluded.  "It just . . . hurts my brain too much otherwise.  I mean, damn, it's cool that you're going to get married, but—"

Evan laughed and stood up.  "Okay," he allowed with a wolfish grin, "but it really is about her," he couldn't resist adding.

Garret made a face.  "Dude, that's so wrong in so many ways . . ."

Evan tapped the boy's arm and reached for the coat he'd dropped over the arm of the sofa.  "Come on, Garret.  Let's go take a look at that roof."

Garret stood up but looked even more disturbed.  "Y-You're Zel Roka," he muttered, shaking his head as he cast his father a quick glance.  "You don't really want to go look at our roof, do you?"

Evan chuckled.  "Why not?  I'm here.  Might as well help you out if I can."

Garrett didn't look entirely convinced, but he did reach for his coat as he followed Evan toward the door.  "Do you know anything about roofing?"

"Nope," Evan replied as he stepped outside into the brisk morning air.

Garret blinked and stared at him but didn't comment as they stepped off the porch and headed around the house.  "Guess you don't have to do that kind of thing yourself, right?  Being a rock star and all . . ."

"I don't know.  Doesn't sound like such a bad thing to do," Evan said.  "Besides, it's just a roof, right?  I mean, how hard can that be?"

Garret didn't respond to that, but one glance from Evan was enough to make the kid break out into another wide grin.  "I can't believe it," he muttered, more to himself than to Evan.

Evan sighed and watched as Garret pulled a ladder from alongside the house where it had been neatly tucked under a tarp for storage.  He really ought to tell Garret that he wasn't actually engaged to Valerie—at least, not yet.  Otherwise, there was a good chance he'd end up in a shallow grave in someone's back yard before the trip was over . . .

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Old Time Rock and Roll' by Bob Seger originally appeared on the 1978 release, Stranger in Town.  Copyrighted to George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Thought from Evan:
They caught me
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.