InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Notebook ( Chapter 163 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'How can I help it if I think you're funny when you're mad …?
'Trying hard not to smile though I feel bad
'I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral
'Can't understand what I mean ...?
'Well, you soon will ...'

-'One Week' by Barenaked Ladies.


-Evan-


Evan paused outside the house and took a moment to look over the contract that Mike had faxed over earlier that morning.  After hearing the song that Jack had played for him yesterday, one that he'd written years ago, Evan had been so impressed that he'd called Mike as soon as he and Valerie had gotten back to the hotel last night, and Mike had agreed to see what he could do about selling the rights to record the song.  It might not be done immediately, but the money that the deal would provide would be a welcome thing for Jack and his family.

It hadn't taken long.  One of the other bands that Mike managed was interested in buying the performance rights, and while that was cool in Evan's estimation, he couldn't say that he thought that the band in question was right for the song, either.  Of course, just because they were interested didn't mean that they'd get the song.  After all, there was a lot of stuff between here and there, and deals had a habit of falling apart more often than not.  Mike figured that it'd be okay to buy the rights now.  If Evan himself bought them, then there was no rush to get it out there, either, and they could take their time in approaching the right person to record it.  He'd bounced the idea of talking to Mike about it off of Jack before he'd left last night, but he had the distinct impression that Jack had just said yes without actually believing that anything would really come of it.

Still, it was just a standard contract.  Evan through Mike had offered Jack more than enough money to make it worth his while, and once the song was recorded, there would also be royalties, and those would be nothing to sneeze at.  All in all, in selling this one song, Jack would be able to support his family better than he had in quite a while, and that would undoubtedly mean a lot to the man.

Besides, it would make Evan feel a lot better, too.  He didn't have to be a genius to know that Jack would absolutely refuse any help, should Evan offer it.  At least he'd let Evan help with the roof, so that was one thing that he felt better about, and when Valerie had tried to offer to give them some money to buy the kids a few things last night, she'd been turned down, flat, and it wasn't just Jack who had refused.  The kids, too, had insisted that they were fine.  Garret had his part time job at a local fast food restaurant, and Kaci Lea worked on Friday afternoons and Saturdays at the library.  Neither one made much, but they both said that they had some spending money for clothes or other things.

"Do you think he'll accept that?" Valerie asked as she stepped onto the porch behind him.  He glanced back at her in time to see her flexing her arm, staring thoughtfully at the area where the cotton ball was taped underneath her coat and sweater.

"Sure," he replied with a reassuring grin.  "You okay?"

She rolled her eyes at his question.  "Come on, Roka.  They just drew a little blood.  It's not like I'm dying or anything," she reminded him.

He chuckled.  "I know," he relented.  "You didn't tell him you were going in to be tested, right?"

Valerie shook her head and stepped past him to knock on the door.  "No.  Mama said that she thought it'd be better to wait until after I'd gotten the type test, and now . . ." Trailing off with a wince, she heaved a sigh, those hazel eyes of hers clouding over.  At least the redness that had lingered after she'd given into the need to cry earlier had diminished.  "Anyway, I'm glad I didn't."

Evan nodded.  She was afraid that he would have told her not to do it, wasn't she?  It wouldn't surprise Evan in the least; not really.  After all, he knew well enough that Jack felt like he didn't deserve to ask anything at all of her, even if she didn't exactly feel the same way.  It was understandable, but it was also understandable, why Valerie would want to do it, in the first place, and her mother had told her last night that she should go into the doctor's office and have her blood drawn to see if it was even possible for her to be considered as a donor, to start with.  They'd done that a few hours ago, but she'd been so upset that Evan had suggested that they go out for lunch before heading over to her parents' place.  She hadn't really agreed or disagreed, but in the end, it was probably a good thing that they'd waited a while since she obviously wasn't really ready to try to put on a good face. She hadn't said much on the drive over, and Evan wasn't entirely sure that she was okay now, but she'd insisted, so what could he really do?

"I'm sorry about that."

Valerie sighed.  "Me, too," she muttered, not even trying to hide her own disappointment.  The first thing they'd done was to see whether or not her blood type was compatible, and, unfortunately, it wasn't.  Since that was the case, there really wasn't a point to trying to test her further, they'd said.  At least she hadn't gotten Jack's hopes up, but still . . .

It was a double edged sword, wasn't it?  On the one hand, Evan could understand and appreciate Valerie's desire to help her father.  On the other?  To be completely honest, Evan was really not too keen on the idea of Valerie being cut open for any reason, whatsoever, and while he knew that she was upset about the idea that she couldn't even be considered to be a donor for her father, he couldn't help the small part of him that was selfishly glad on that front.  Sure, he wanted Jack to live, and if it came right down to it, he'd have supported Valerie's decision to donate, but . . . Well, it was a moot point now, in any case . . .

Valerie sighed again and pushed open the door to go inside.  Evan started to follow her, but stopped short when his cell phone rang.  He considered sending it directly to voicemail until he saw the name that appeared on the caller ID.  With a grin, he motioned for Valerie to close the door.  "It's my mama," he explained as he connected the call and lifted the phone to his ear.  "Hey, hottie.  You ready to bag that ol' geezer and come hang with me?"

Gin giggled.  "Now, now," she chided despite the amusement in her tone, "your father's hardly a geezer, Evan!"

"Yeah, okay," he relented with a chuckle.  "So what's up, Mama?"

"Well," she drawled, "I just wondered what my baby boy's been up to?  Sebastian said you're out of the city . . . You aren't on tour again, are you?  You didn't mention it when you were here over Christmas . . ."

Evan chuckled again at the slightly petulant tone of his mother's voice.  "No, Mama, I'm not," he assured her.  "Actually, I'm in Kentucky with V."

"Oh?" she said, sounding more than a little interested.  "Are the two of you back together?"

"Uh, not exactly," he hedged, folding the contract up and stowing it in the inside pocket of his coat.  "It's complicated . . ."

"Hmm," Gin intoned.  "Are you going to be there long?"

"Actually, we're leaving tomorrow," he said.  "Then I'll be getting ready for a couple shows overseas.  You know, rehearsal and all that good shit."

"O-Oh," Gin said.

"Here, Baby Girl.  Give me the phone."

Evan frowned at the serious tone in his father's voice as Cain took the phone from his mother.  "Evan?"

"Yeah," he said.  "Something wrong?"

Cain sighed.  "Not really.  You're going back to the city tomorrow?"

"Yeah," he said again.  "Why?"

"Okay, good," Cain went on, more to himself than to Evan.  "Come up here as soon as you get back, then."

The frown on Evan's face deepened at the no-nonsense lilt in Cain's tone.  It wasn't really one that he heard that often.  It usually meant that Evan had done something worthy of garnering Cain's wrath, but he hadn't done anything like that recently, had he?  As far as he knew, he was in the clear, and even then, Evan couldn't remember having ever been summarily told to get home . . . Well, no, there was one time when that had happened, and Evan just didn't want to think about that time, either . . . "Did I do something, Cain?" he asked mildly.

"Do something?" Cain repeated, sounding more confused than he probably should have.  "No," he replied.  "We—your mother and I—we just have something to tell you, and it can't wait.  That's all."

Evan digested that for a moment then shrugged.  "Okay," he allowed.  "So tell me."

"We need to tell you in person," Cain insisted.  "Your brother and sister will be here, too."

That got Evan's attention quickly enough.  "Bubby and Jilli, too?  What about Bella?"

"We'll tell her, too, of course.  Anyway, the sooner, the better."

"Yeah," Evan agreed slowly.  "All right."

"Oh, Cain!" he heard Gin say in the background.  "Tell him to bring Valerie along!  I'd love to see her again!"

"You heard your mom, right?" Cain asked.

"Uh, yeah," Evan said.  "What's all this about, Cain?  Is something wrong?"

"No, Evan, I told you," Cain maintained.  "We'll see you in a couple days."

"Right," Evan replied just before the line went dead.

He scowled.  Just what the hell was going on?

"Are you okay?"

Evan blinked and turned, then forced a small smile when he spotted Kaci Lea on the path with one foot on the bottom step.  "Oh, hey.  I didn't see you there," he said, brushing aside the feeling that something important was going on back home.

She didn't return his smile, and her concerned frown deepened as her bright hazel eyes—eyes the same color as her older sister's—took on a troubled sort of glow.  For the briefest of moments, Evan had to wonder if Valerie had looked like Kaci Lea at that age, and if she had, it was not surprising that she'd had a slew of boyfriends, even if those boyfriends had been complete and utter jerkoffs.  "You were on the phone," she explained, gesturing at the cell in his hand.

He glanced down at the device then snapped it closed and dropped it into his pocket.  "Eh, that wasn't a big thing," he lied.  "Shouldn't you be at school?"

"We got out early today," she explained.  "There was a gas leak in the Home Ec room, so they sent everyone home."

"Oh, is that right?" he asked, shuffling over and sitting on the top step.  He'd wanted to have a little talk with her before they left, and now was as good of a time as any.  It wasn't that he wanted to try to gloss things over between her and Valerie, no, but if he could maybe get some kind of understanding as to what, exactly, was really on the girl's mind, it might help Valerie to figure out how to deal with this particular sibling . . . "I hear you're the smart one," he said, careful to keep his tone light, teasing.

Kaci Lea blushed slightly—damned if she didn't look even more like Valerie, too—and she shifted her weight from one foot to the other self-consciously.  "Not really," she muttered, biting her lip and looking entirely nervous.  "I mean, I have to study a lot."

"Nothing wrong with that," he allowed.  "Can I ask you something?"

She shot him a quick glance, looking more unsettled by the moment, but she nodded.  "Okay."

Evan took a deep breath as he considered how to word his question so that he didn't inadvertently put her on the defensive.  "Are you . . . Are you unhappy that Valerie came home to visit?"

She seemed surprised for a moment.  Tucking a long strand of blonde hair behind her ear, she shuffled her feet again and scrunched up her shoulders.  "N-No, that's not it," she blurted quickly, her already ruddy cheeks darkening in color.  "Mama and Daddy are so glad she came home."

"Yeah, but are you?" he asked gently.  Something about the girl's demeanor . . .

Biting her lip, she hesitated for a moment before replying.  "I am," she whispered, her voice as thin as the smile that she tried to sell him.  Her eyes were sad, and maybe she thought that she was putting on a good front, but she wasn't any better at doing that than Valerie was . . . "Every day since I can remember, I've heard about her non-stop.  I guess she's everything they've said she was."

Evan nodded and smiled gently as an unsettling sense of deja vu crept up his spine.  Sure, she was a girl, and he wasn't, but her feelings . . . He could understand them, couldn't he?  After all, he'd spent a lifetime feeling much the same way about his perfect brother, Sebastian.  That's what it was.  He could see it in her eyes.  To her, Valerie had become the one person she'd never, ever be able to catch up to, hadn't she?  "I know Valerie's looked forward to getting to know you," he said.

She didn't look convinced.  "Yeah, but you're leaving tomorrow, right?"  Her frown deepened.  "So she gets to go back to her big city life and forget all about Mama and Daddy again . . ."

"Do you really think she'd do that?" Evan asked quietly.

She shrugged and shot him a belligerent sort of glance.  "Won't she?" she challenged.  "If she really cared like you said she does, then why didn't she bother to try to get in touch with Garret or me sooner?"  Shaking her head, she seemed to be gathering her waning bravado.  "Okay, maybe not me.  She never knew me, anyway, but Garret?  He's said before that he remembered her some, and if he remembers her, then she has to have remembered him.  She's a big lawyer, right?  So, that means she's got money, too, right?  I mean, if she didn't, then why would she bother trying to give them money?  You telling me that she couldn't find us?  Because that's a lie . . . Mama told me that they've always lived here."

"Kaci Lea, I don't think—" Evan began, only to be cut off when the girl shook her head furiously.

She sighed, and the sadness in her tone was completely at odds with the guarded expression in her eyes.  "Even if Mama and Daddy did her wrong, Garret didn't do a thing to her, and I know it's always bugged him."

"And you," Evan added.

She shook her head again, wrapping her arms a little tighter around the books she held against her chest.  "I don't know her," she stated once more, "and I don't need a sister who comes and goes as she pleases."

Letting out a deep breath, he could only watch as Kaci Lea hurried up the steps and brushed past him.  Of course, he knew damn well that it wasn't the way that the girl seemed to believe that it was, but what he knew didn't matter.  As much as he wanted things to be okay between the two, it wasn't really his place to try to fix it all, and even then, he could understand the girl's feelings.  Kaci Lea was too young to understand everything, and as much as Valerie had always perceived things from her point of view, so did Kaci Lea.  In her mind, the sister she might have wanted when she was younger hadn't wanted her, and no amount of Evan's interference, no matter how well-intentioned, would change that.  The only thing that would was time—time and a lot of effort on both of their parts . . . Add to that the idea that in her mind, Valerie had become the untouchable icon, and, well . . .

The thing was that Kaci Lea had gotten tired of trying to chase after Valerie's shadow, and that was something that Evan really could understand all too well.  That same feeling had led him to his desire to be the best of the bad, the exact opposite of his perfect brother.  Kaci Lea might not have opted to follow that same route, but her determination was the same.

But Evan also knew that Valerie had no intention of breaking her ties with her family now.  She'd fought too hard to regain them, battling demons that had lived deep inside her for far too long, that there was no way she would let go.  Eventually, Kaci Lea would understand that, too . . .

The car that Evan had seen picking up and dropping off Garret before and after school pulled to a stop in front of the trailer, and Garret crawled out of the back seat.  He muttered something to the driver then stepped away as the car rumbled down the lane.

The boy loped over to the porch with a grin on his face.  When he saw Evan's expression, however, he blinked.  "V still pissed at you about last night?" he asked without preamble.

Evan barked out a terse laugh then shook his head.  "Nah," he replied, finally breaking into a grin as he pushed himself to his feet once more.  "She never stays mad at me."

Garret looked rather dubious, but he nodded.  "I told Mom not to make a big deal out of it, but she insisted . . . said it wasn't every day that her daughter got engaged and all that . . ."

Evan grimaced at the blatant reminder.  Valerie had been pleased enough at the celebration dinner that her parents had thrown the night before.  She'd just assumed that they were 'celebrating' her homecoming—until her mother had asked, point blank, when the wedding was going to be.  Too bad Evan had been in the middle of taking a bite of fried chicken at the time.  He'd inhaled sharply, only to end up choking on crispy bits of the chicken breading while Valerie kicked him as hard as she possibly could under the table . . .

"Hey, you're not limping anymore," Garret remarked as he reached for the door knob and shot Evan a wolfish grin.

He snorted but refrained from comment as he followed the boy into the house.

"Just the man I wanted to see," Jack remarked as Evan wiped his feet on the welcome mat inside the door.

"That right?" Evan asked, ignoring the widening grin on Garret's face.

Jack nodded.  "Come here, son."

It took Evan a moment to realize that Jack was talking to him and not to Garret.  "Yes, sir?"

Jack stared at him for a long moment before he spoke again.  "You're Zel Roka, right?"

Evan raised his eyebrows since he thought that had been established a couple days ago, but he nodded.  "Yes, I am."

Jack nodded again.  "So you've got money, right?  I mean, you've got to, don't you?"

Evan wasn't sure where this was leading, but he went along with it, anyway.  "A fair amount," he admitted.

Jack snorted.  "Then tell me why my daughter's running around with that joke of an engagement ring on her finger when you're Zel Roka with a fair amount of money."

"Uh . . ."

'Yeah, that looks smart,' Evan's youkai pointed out as Evan opened and closed his mouth a few times without making much progress on the speaking front.

"You know, I'd have thought you'd buy her the Hope Diamond or some shit," Garret added, crossing his arms over his chest despite the grin that was growing on his face.  He was enjoying this, wasn't he?  Well, hell, of course he was.  Evan would be, too—if he wasn't the one in the hot seat . . .

"Well, see, that's just a—um—a temporary ring," he said, hoping to God that Jack didn't call him on his lie.  "I'm having her ring made to order, and it's not ready yet . . ."

Jack narrowed his eyes in a 'Don't Bullshit a Bullshitter' kind of way.  "Zelig?"

"Uh huh?"

Jack nodded slowly.  "Are you really marrying my little girl?"

Evan cleared his throat.  "E-Eventually," he replied.

'You'd think you'd have learned your lesson about this lying business the first time . . .'

'Shut the hell up, or I swear on all that's holy, I'll fly to Japan and ask Grandma Kagome to purify you right the hell out of me.'

'As if!'

"But you will marry her," Jack went on.

Evan nodded.  "As soon as possible," he added for good measure.

"Not before you buy her a real ring; not if I have anything to say about it."

Evan swallowed hard.  Nothing like being called on the carpet by the father of the woman he wanted to marry . . . "Yes, sir."

Garret snorted.  Then laughed.  Loudly.

Jack, however, seemed satisfied enough with Evan's answer, and he settled back in his chair again.  "Good . . . now V said you have something to tell me?"

It took Evan a moment to remember exactly what it was he meant to speak with Jack about, which wasn't surprising, as far as he was concerned.  When he did, however, he pulled the contract out of his coat pocket and held it out to the man.

"What's this?" Jack asked, eyeing Evan rather suspiciously.

Evan grinned.  "It's an offer," he replied easily enough.

"For what?"

"That song you played for me yesterday," Evan explained.  "I played it for my manager last night, and he thinks he can sell it—if you're willing, that is."

Jack looked surprised.  "Your manager does?"

"He said last night that he was going to play it for him, Dad," Garret reminded him.

Jack waved a hand at his son then patted his pocket for his reading glasses.  Garret reached over, nabbing them off the table, and handed them to Jack.  "Yeah, but I didn't think you were serious," he said.

Garret leaned toward Evan.  "Do you mean it?  Dad could sell that song?"

Evan chuckled.  "Absolutely."

Jack made a face.  "I don't understand this legal crap," he complained.

Garret fairly ran out of the living room and into the kitchen.

"It's a standard contract," Evan said.  "It gives Mike the right to shop the song around to interested parties."

Jack grunted without taking his eyes off the contract.  "My song . . . It ain't gonna be recorded by some boy band or something, is it?"

Evan laughed.  "Mike doesn't deal with anyone like that," he said.  "Even then, if you tell Mike that you don't want him to release the performance rights to someone like that, then it's all good."

Jack sighed, letting the contract drop onto his lap as he rubbed his forehead with a trembling hand.  "Then again, guess it don't matter.  Hearing my song on the radio . . . That'd be worth something, wouldn't it?"

"I've always thought so," Evan replied.  "That song isn't really a pop song, anyway," he went on.  "You ask me, though?  I think we should look for the perfect person to record it."

Jack nodded slowly, but his frown deepened as he considered the offer.  "It's not normal though, is it?"

"What isn't?"

He shrugged.  "Your manager, buying the song?  I thought the artist that wanted to record it usually did that."

"Not exactly," Evan said.  "You're not really selling your song, see.  You'll retain all the copyrights and that kind of thing.  What you'll be doing here is selling the recording and performance rights to your song, which is completely different.  Some songs go through a middle man, though.  A lot of times, you sell your recording rights to record labels, and they offer it to their people.  This is kind of like that, only Mike would be looking for the right person, not just whoever they figured could sell it to the biggest audience."

"You need help with that contract?"

Evan and Jack both looked over as Valerie followed Garret into the living room.

Jack started to shake his head, but seemed to remember that contracts were something that Valerie would be able to understand well enough, and he grudgingly held up the document.  She took it and spent a few minutes reading through it.  "According to this, you'd be selling the performance rights to an as-yet unspecified artist for the initial amount of twenty-five thousand dollars up front while retaining all copyrights, meaning that you can sell the performance rights again after the allotted time frame given here of five years from the initial date of public release if someone else wants to record it.  After the publication of your song, you will be entitled to royalties of eight and a half percent per unit sold as well as radio and video royalties, to be paid quarterly."

Jack shook his head and shot Evan a questioning look.  "What does that mean in terms of money?"

Evan grinned.  "That means that if you choose to sign that contract, you'll get twenty-five thousand dollars right now, and when it's recorded, you'll get royalties from that, too.  Say your song hits number one on the charts, you'd be looking at a damn healthy royalty check every quarter.  Two?  Three hundred thousand, easy."

He considered that and seemed a little taken aback by the numbers that Evan had so casually tossed out there.  "But it's still my song?"

"Absolutely."

Jack nodded slowly then glanced at Valerie.

"It's a very good deal," she told him with a smile.

"Twenty-five thousand dollars for one song," Jack mused.

"Plus royalties after it's recorded," Evan pointed out.  "Jack, listen.  I've been doing this for a while, you know?  I know a kick ass song when I hear one, and yours is gonna kick a hell of a lot of ass.  It wouldn't surprise me if you're looking at damn big royalties that'll make the twenty-five look like nothing, and once the song's released, we're not talking about a year or two of royalties.  We're talking about years and years of them—royalties that'll be paid to your grandchildren or even great-grandchildren one day, providing no one does anything stupid, like sell those rights to it."

"I can't believe it," Jack murmured.  "My song . . ."

Evan pulled his cell phone out and dialed Mike's number.  He answered after two rings.  "What's up, Roka?"

"Hey, Mikey, I'm here with Jack right now, and he just went over the contract with V.  You wanna talk to him?"
"Okay," Mike agreed.  "Does he want to sell?"

"He's interested," Evan said.  "Hold on."

Jack blinked when Evan held out his cell phone.  "It's Mike," Evan explained.  "He wants to talk to you about the contract and stuff."

Jack took the phone, and Evan chuckled.  The man looked about as shocked as it was possible to look, but it was definitely shocked in a good way.  "Hello?"

"Hey," Garret said, lowering his voice so that only Evan could hear.

"Hmm?"

Garret glanced at his father then back at Evan once more.  "Dad's got this notebook, you know?  He's got lots of stuff in it—more songs—lots of them."

"Really?" Evan said, turning to face Garret more fully.  "Is that right?"

Garret nodded.  "A lot of them are real good.  Dad says they're not, but he said that one wasn't, either, right?  So, maybe . . ." He trailed off and seemed to be thinking about something.  A moment later, he shot Evan a resolute look.  "I know where it is.  I'll go get it."

"You're behind that contract, aren't you?"

Evan grinned at Valerie as she tugged him a little further away from her father.  "Now, why would I do that?" he asked.

She wrinkled her nose but smiled at him.  "Good thing I know that you wouldn't lie to him about whether or not his song was good," she ventured.  "You really do think it's good, don't you?"

He chuckled.  "Of course I do, V.  But how do you know I'm not just blowing smoke?  You know, trying to help him without really helping him?"

Crossing her arms over her chest, she shrugged.  "Because you respect musicians too much to do any such thing," she replied simply.  "I thought you said that Mike had a band that was interested in the song already?  So why don't you let them record it?"

Evan's grin dimmed then disappeared as his gaze shifted back to the man in the chair once more.  "They don't feel right," he admitted at length.  "They're okay, but they wouldn't understand the real story behind the song."

"Real story?  And what's the real story?" she challenged, though not unkindly.

Evan shrugged and slipped an arm around Valerie's waist.  "It's a song about redemption," he told her.  "It's about a father who doesn't know how to say he's sorry to the girl he lost."

"So it's a love song?" she asked, her gaze also trained on her father.

Evan sighed and smiled just a little.  "V?"

"Hmm?"

"He wrote that song for you."


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A/N:
I realize that the music industry currently works a little differently on this front.  Since this is years in the future, I figured it would be all right to change some of the status quo, however.

'One Week' by Barenaked Ladies originally appeared on the 1998 release, Stunt.  Copyrighted to Ed Robertson.
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sutlesarcasm ------ theablackthorn ------ matsuri ------ rachainu ------ monkeyseemonkeynodo
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Forme …?
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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 162
Chapter 164
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