InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Unwanted ( Chapter 162 )

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


'It's been a long time since I rock and rolled ...
'It's been a long time since I did the Stroll
'Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back
'Let me get it back, baby, where I come from
'It's been a long time, been a long time
'Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time; yes it has …'

-'Rock and Roll' by Led Zeppelin.


"Damn . . . What's that for?"

Evan grinned and pulled the new guitar out of the case then strode across the room to hand it to Jack.  "Well, you can play, right?" he challenged, raising an eyebrow to underline the implication.

Jack seemed a little chagrined. On the one hand, he was a musician, which meant that he wanted to show his skills.  On the other?  Well, the man did have his pride, and in spades, at that.  Must be where Valerie got hers, too . . . "I can't take this," he grumbled, trying to hand the instrument back.

Evan stepped away and started to pull out the next guitar.  "Don't worry about it," he said, waving a hand to shrug off Jack's concern.  "Got these free from a friend of mine.  He says it's good advertising.  Besides, I've got too many guitars at home now, and if I take those back with me, I'll just end up donating them to some charity, anyway."

"They just gave them to you?" Jack asked grudgingly.

Evan nodded.  "I comp shit like that all the time.  Really, it's not a big deal; I swear it."

"It is pretty nice," Jack allowed as he looked over the instrument with a critical eye.

"You'd be doing me a favor," Evan added for good measure.  "Shipping all that stuff back home would just be a pain."

Jack didn't look entirely convinced, but he grunted.  "If you're sure," he muttered.  He hated accepting anything, didn't he?  Not that Evan could blame him.  He'd probably feel the same if he were in the man's shoes.  Still . . .

"Seriously, it's no big thing," Evan said.  "If you don't want it, then you can probably find someone to give it to, right?"

Beside him, Garret uttered a harsh, raspy, almost wheezing sort of sound but remained silent.

"And you didn't have to buy it . . .?" Jack asked to clarify everything.

"Not a dime," Evan replied.

'Which is a big, fat lie . . . You know, you're doing that a lot lately, Roka.'

'Shut it.  He wouldn't take it if he knew I bought the damn thing, now would he?  Besides, the old one they've got might've been a good one back in the day, but it won't hold a tune for more than ten minutes, and that's no good.'

'Okay, okay.  I'm just pointing out that lying is wrong, so when you're facing your maker after you kick it, don't be surprised when he slaps you with a one-way ticket, straight to hell.'

'Yeah,' Evan agreed easily enough.  'But I won't be alone, now will I?'

His youkai snorted but shut up, and Evan grinned as he held out the next guitar to Garret.  The kid blinked and stared, opening and closing his mouth a few times while he slowly shook his head.  "N . . . No way," he breathed, taking an involuntary step back in retreat.  "Th-That's a Hargreave-Langastan Walker Pro Fourth-Edition!"

Evan chuckled and shook the guitar until Garret reluctantly took it.  "Close, Garret, but no.  It's a Fifth-Edition—the very newest model."

"Da-a-a-amn . . ." he breathed, handing the guitar as though he thought it'd break in his hands.  "Holy shit!  I never, ever thought I'd ever get to touch one of these babies!"

"You can have that one," Evan stated as he dug the last guitar out of its case.  "Besides, I have this one, anyway."

Garret blinked and finally looked away from the guitar in his hands to stare at the ebony Stainer Rendan Evan held.  "Sweet," he said, obviously approving of Evan's choice.  The Stainer Rendan series wasn't quite as highly acclaimed as the hand-tooled Hargreave-Langastan Walker Pro series, but it was a close thing.  The two companies had emerged in the last thirty years to outshine many of the older, more tired lines, combining a sleeker, newer style with a truer sound, and at a lower price than many of the other big-boy brands.  It never ceased to amuse Evan, really.  There were numerous musicians who swore by the older brands, but if one was to look into their road cases, they usually had one of the newer models.  Besides, Evan already had two of the Hargreave-Langastan models at home . . .

Suddenly, Garret set the guitar down on the sofa cushions and turned away.

"Hey!" Evan called after him as Jack strummed a few chords, pausing now and then to adjust the strings.  "Where you going?"

Garret didn't stop as he headed down the short hallway off the living room.  "I think I need to go shit my pants now," he called over his shoulder.

Evan burst out in laughter, unable to help himself.  No doubt about it: he really liked that kid . . .

He hurried back into the room a minute later with a guitar pick in his hand and another one clamped tightly between his lips.  When he caught Evan's gaze, he grinned and tossed another pick at him.  Evan caught it and chuckled.  "Show me what you've got, kid," he challenged.

Garret's grin widened as he carefully reached for the guitar and sat down on the sofa.

"You know this one, youngun?" Jack asked, launching into a melody that Evan recognized.  Settling down next to Garret, he picked up the tune without missing a beat.  Garret started playing seconds after Evan.

"Everyone knows Milwaukee Traveler," Evan teased.  "The Grind Down, one of the best crunch bands in the last twenty years . . ."

"Saw 'em once in concert just before Mad Dog Cruder got killed in that car crash," Jack said without missing a beat.  "Damn, they were good."

"Well, fuck me up the ass, I'm jealous," Evan admitted.  "I always wanted to see them live."

"They were worth it," Jack assured him.  "You missed a hell of a show, but I guess you were just a kid back then . . ."

"Hey, Dad, play that lullaby you used to play whenever Kase got all fussy," Garret said.

Jack chuckled, but changed the song while Evan stopped to listen.  It was a simple song—a pretty song.  Melodic and mellow with sweet words meant to soothe an upset child, and Evan smiled, wondering in the back of his mind if Valerie had ever heard that particular tune before.  Evan didn't recognize it.  Maybe it was one that Jack had written . . .

Kaci Lea stepped out of the kitchen where she'd been helping with dinner.  She started to head off toward her bedroom, but she stopped and slowly turned, her eyes wide as a little smile quirked her lips, as her cheeks pinked in a very pretty way.  Wandering over to sit on a threadbare old ottoman near her father's chair, she wrapped her arms around her knees, content to listen while her father played the song that she must have remembered.

Glancing over at Garret, Evan chuckled to himself.  True, the song might well have been written for Kaci Lea, but it didn't matter.  The boy looked just as happy as he watched his father play.  When he caught Evan's look, he grinned.  "He's good, right?" he said in a low tone, obviously to keep from interrupting Jack.

Evan nodded.  "He is," he agreed.  "Damn good."

By the time the song ended, Kaci Lea was smiling, leaning forward as though she were afraid to miss a single note.  She stood up quickly and kissed her father's cheek, then sat back down again to wait for the next song.

"Okay, Jack, let's see how good you really are," Evan goaded, launching into another song.  It was old—really old—and he figured that Jack would know it.  Garret, on the other hand, he wasn't entirely sure about, but it didn't actually surprise him that the kid knew it, too.  Maybe Jack was wrong.  Maybe Garret had paid more attention to his father than Jack had thought . . .

"'Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come with talk with you again ...
Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping ...
And the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains ...
Within the sound of silence

"'In restless dreams I walked alone, narrow streets of cobblestone ...
'Neath the halo of a streetlamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp ...
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, split the night ...
And touched the sound of silence

"'And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more ...
People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening ...
People writing songs that voices never shared, and no one dared ...
To stir the sound of silence

"''Fool,' said I, 'you do not know, silence, like a cancer, grows ...
Hear my words and I might teach you, take my arms then I might reach you ...'
But my words, like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence

"'And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they'd made ...
And the sign flashed its warning in the words that it was forming ...
And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls ...
And tenement halls, and whispered in the sounds of silence

As the song faded away, the silence in the room was thick, full of a breathless sort of quality, as though no one wanted to risk breaking the invisible spell.  During the song, Valerie and her mother had ventured out of the kitchen.  Rhonda was leaning in the doorway with a trembling smile on her face, her hand poised over her heart.  Valerie was sitting on the floor just inside the doorway, leaning against the wall, her eyes suspiciously bright.  When she noticed Evan's perusal, she smiled as she reached up to wipe a tear off her cheek.

But it had been something, and even Evan had noticed it.  There were times when everything seemed to come together while playing.  Maybe it was the connection of the musicians, maybe it was as simple as being completely in tune with the others' emotions.  Maybe it was the alignment of the stars or the perfect rising of the tides at sea, but when it happened, something magical was created: as beautiful and fleeting as the insular moment when a butterfly unfurled its wings for the first time, yet so bittersweet because of the whispering knowledge that it might never happen again: that once-in-a-lifetime song that every musician alive tried to attain.  He'd felt the perfect blending of guitars and voices, of harmonies and rhythm, and it was enough to send a shiver down his spine.

The others felt it, too.  Evan could tell by the way that Garret sat, hand poised as if to strike a chord that just never came.  He could tell by the way that Jack stared at his son with all the pride that a father could possibly have, right there in his gaze.

Jack should have made it, shouldn't he?  He should have been one of the stars that Evan had idolized in his youth.  One of those guys who never cut a single record but whose talent was undeniable . . . If his life hadn't been sidetracked, if he hadn't been caught up in a series of mistakes that had ultimately left him standing still instead of moving forward, he would have been, and yet . . . and yet, it was all right, wasn't it?


"I forgot how much I love to hear you play," Valerie ventured as she set down a glass of iced tea on the table beside her father.  "Evan said that you're really, really good."

Jack snorted.  "I ain't that good," he countered mildly.  "That Evan—Zel—whatever his name is . . . He's damn good."

She laughed softly at her father's indecision over Evan's name and sat down on the ottoman that Kaci Lea had abandoned a few minutes before.  "Are you all right?  You look a little tired."

Jack waved a hand and shot her a stern look.  "I'm fine, little girl.  Don't worry about me."

"I can't help it," she admitted.  "I've worried about you and Mom a lot."

"Parents are the ones who are supposed to worry about their kids, not the other way around," he maintained.

She sighed and bit her lip, watching in silence as her father took his evening does of pills.  A moment later, the sound of her mother's laughter drifted out of the kitchen.

Jack frowned as he stared at the empty doorway.  "Tell me the truth," he said without shifting his gaze.  "Can he actually cook or is he in there hitting on my wife?"

Valerie laughed at her father's dry idea of a joke.  "No, Daddy, he really can cook—but he probably is in there, hitting on Mom, too."

Jack smirked.  "She'll put him in his place," he predicted smugly.  "Your Mama's tougher than she looks."

"I know it," Valerie agreed, her smile dimming just a little as she slowly glanced around the living room.  Unmatched lamps, threadbare furnishings, books held in place on a rickety old pressed board shelf by a jar full of pennies on one side and an old, wrought iron boot jack on the other . . . carpeting that was so worn that it was completely flat in places, not to mention the faded old curtains hanging on either side of the window . . . She'd seen the mountain of pill bottles in the medicine cupboard in the kitchen.  She'd seen the bills for the doctor visits that the public health agencies didn't cover.  The old car that sounded like a tank when it was fired up, the patched roof pieced together from so many different odds and ends that it looked more like a quilt spread over the trailer . . .

"You look like you got something on your mind," Jack remarked, cutting through Valerie's thoughts like a sledgehammer against glass.

Valerie blinked and tried to force a smile.  "Oh, uh," she hedged, unsure how she should say what was really on her mind.  "I-It's just . . . I mean . . ."

"Spit it out, little girl," he muttered gruffly.

She bit her lip and gave a couple jerky nods.  "I, um . . . Well, I . . . I have some extra money—I mean, I got a really nice bonus at work for Christmas—and I thought—"

"No," Jack interrupted firmly.  "No, Valene—Valerie.  You keep your money."

Wincing inwardly since she'd rather figured she'd get that response from him, Valerie straightened her back and took a deep breath. "Daddy, I want to help you guys.  Please."

Jack shook his head, a thorough frown carving deep lines between his eyebrows.  "No," he stated once more with a little more force than the last time.  "It's enough for me that you came home.  I don't want your money, little girl."


"No 'buts'," he insisted.  "I don't ever want you thinking that we only wanted you around to take care of us."

"I don't," she assured him.  "That's what family's for, isn't it?  To take care of each other?"

"Yeah, and I did a piss-poor job of that when you were a kid," he shot back.  Then he heaved a sigh as the irritation on his face gave way to a sadness so deep that it brought tears to Valerie's eyes.  "You got no idea how sorry I am, V.  You . . . You don't know how many times I couldn't even look your mama in the eyes, knowing what I did . . . Knowing that it was my fault that you were taken away . . ."

"I don't think that," Valerie said softly, reaching out, grasping his hand in hers.  "It wasn't . . . It's too late to point fingers now."

He didn't look like he agreed with her, and the heightened brightness—the wash of tears that stood in his eyes was a painful thing for her to see.  "You grew up good, didn't you?  Grew up better 'n your mama and I coulda done for you."

"Daddy . . ." Valerie began, ignoring the single tear that slipped down her cheek, "I'm tired . . . I'm so tired of trying to be angry, and . . . and I don't want to be an outsider here.  I don't want to be a guest.  I want to be a daughter—your daughter . . . and I want to help you and Mama."

Jack grabbed her hands, tugged her to her feet, pulled her forward, letting go of her as his arms wrapped around her, and his grip was much tighter than it should have been.  The rising tears that she'd held back cascaded over, soaking into her father's shirt as he held her tight.  "We don't want your money," he told her once more, his voice strained, cracking, as brittle as the winter wind.  "We only wanted you to come home . . . I just wanted you to come home."

Valerie didn't know how long she sat there on her father's lap.  If she stopped to think about it, she might have realized that it was wholly ridiculous for a full-grown woman to be held like such a little girl, but somehow, it never occurred to her.  When she finally pushed herself up, it was to find him smiling at her, and for just a moment, he looked exactly like he had when she was small—the man she loved best, even if he wasn't perfect—the daddy that she thought was more handsome than anyone else on earth . . . "I love you, Daddy," she whispered, a trembling smile on her lips.

Jack's smile faltered for a moment, twitching as he struggled to hold back his tears.  "You, too, little girl," he muttered, his cheeks pinking as he gave her hands another squeeze.  Then he grunted.  "See?  I knew you needed to eat more.  You don't weigh nothing—nothing at all."

She barked out a terse laugh but scooted off his lap.  "I weigh enough," she insisted.

"If that rockstar knows how to cook, then you tell him to feed you better," Jack went on.

Valerie rolled her eyes as she wiped her cheeks and settled back onto the ottoman once more.  "Promise me something, Daddy?"

He looked dubious, but he nodded.  "What's that?"

She drew a deep breath and smiled, but this time, the smile was genuine.  "Promise you'll tell me if you need anything.  Even if it's not for you, if you need money for Kaci Lea or Garret. . ."

She could tell by the look on his face that she'd made a little progress when she'd mentioned the kids and what they might need.  That was enough for now, she supposed.  Jack wasn't about to give in on the matter, but neither was she.  She'd just tell her mother later that she wanted her to call if they needed anything at all.

Jack scratched his chest as he slowly nodded once.  "All right," he allowed, "but they got everything they need."

"I know," she said.  "I just don't want to see either of them miss any opportunities because they don't think that you can afford it.  That's all."

"Okay, fine," Jack relented, albeit with all the ill-grace that he could muster.  "If they need anything, we'll call you."

Valerie opened her mouth to point out that his tone indicated that he was just humoring her.  He cut her off when he held out his hand.  "Now give me that guitar, will you?  It doesn't smell like dinner's ready yet, and I feel like playing some more . . ."

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'Rock and Roll' by Led Zeppelin originally appeared on the 1971 release, Led Zeppelin IV.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham.

'The Sound of Silence' by Simon and Garfunkel originally appeared on the 1966 release, Sounds of Silence.  Song written by and copyrighted to Paul Simon.
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theablackthorn ------ renomaru ------ iheartinuyasha426
kamackie21 ------ sueroxmysox ------ MouF ------ cutechick18 ------ amohip ------ BlkbltVette
Thought from Evan:
Hot damn, he's good!
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.