InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Trepidation ( Chapter 165 )

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


-< b>OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'The remedy is the experience ...
'This is a dangerous liaison
'I say the comedy is that it's serious
'This is a strange enough new play on words ...'

-'The Remedy' by Jason Mraz.


-Valerie-


"Oh . . . that isn't really something that I needed to see, first thing in the morning," Valerie muttered as she squeezed her eyes closed once more and flopped over onto her side.

Evan chuckled and plopped down beside her.  "No way, woman.  I know you're awake."

She grunted something unintelligible.  "Go 'way," she grumbled, shaking her shoulder when he tried to turn her over.  "Why are you mooning me, anyway?"

His chuckle escalated.  "I wasn't mooning you, per se," he insisted.  "It just so happens that it felt like something was poking my ass, so I was checking to see what it was."

"Likely story, rocker-boy.  Hasn't anyone ever taught you to keep your pants up unless you're in private?"

"Well, I am in private," he argued.  "I mean, it's just you and me in here . . ."

She snorted and yanked the blankets over her head.  "And I don't want to see your bare ass," she insisted.

"Besides, I happen to like your privates," he added for good measure, "and I'd be more than happy to indulge you by allowing you to run around as naked as you wanna be."

That, in her estimation, didn't even deserve a reply.  He laughed outright when it became obvious to him, too.  "But I brought you coffee," he said in a cajoling tone of voice, "and I know that Valerie like-y the coffee . . ."

Heaving a sigh, she sat up reluctantly, unable to ignore the lure of freshly brewed coffee.  "Give it," she demanded, holding out her hand and wiggling her fingers to hurry him along.

Evan laughed and retrieved the cup that he'd set on her nightstand.  "Here you go," he said.  "I even brought you the rest of the pot, too.  Aren't I the best non-boyfriend ever?"

She couldn't help the little giggle that escaped her at his self-professed prowess.  "You're all right," she admitted, spotting the insulated carafe that was also sitting on her nightstand.  "Did your parents tell you why they wanted you to come home yet?"

In hindsight, Valerie easily could have kicked herself for asking that question when Evan's grin faltered then faded, only to be replaced by a darkening in his eyes, a tightness around his lips.  "Not yet," he admitted with a sigh.  "Cain said that he wanted to wait till Bubby got back later on."

Forcing a smile, Valerie nodded slowly.  "I'm sure it's all right," she told him.  "Don't get so worried, okay?"

"Yeah," he agreed, forcing a wan smile for her benefit.  "Hey, since I'm here, there are a few things I need to take care of.  Will you be okay or you wanna come with me?"

Valerie rolled her eyes and uttered a terse snort when he started waggling his eyebrows at her in a completely unrepentant sort of way.  "Things like what?"

This time, his grin was a little closer to what it should be.  "Well, I was going to run past the house and see how Miss is doing, and Mama asked me run a few errands for her—take a few books back to the library, drop off a few things that she's donating for a charity auction at the youth center . . . boring shit, really . . ."

For some reason, the mundane tasks that he was talking about was enough to make her smile.  Zel Roka, running errands?  That was a good one, wasn't it?  Just what would Garret think of his idol if he were to see him doing such domestic things?

"Don't suppose you want to come with me?" he added nonchalantly—a little too nonchalantly.

"Hmm, as much fun as it sounds like, I think I'll have to pass.  Your mother said that she wanted to 'have a talk' . . .whatever that means," Valerie drawled, then quickly shook her head.  "What does that mean, anyway?"

"I dunno," Evan replied with a careless shrug.  "Probably wants to ask you when you're going to stop being mean to me and marry me—all that happy crap, you know?"

She could hear the teasing in his tone, and she reacted in kind.  "It'll be difficult, won't it?  I mean, you're kind of like a . . . a brother to me, aren't you?  And who the hell marries their brothers?"

"Ouch, woman!  Brother?  Really?" he complained.

She rolled her eyes.  "Yes, brother," she reiterated, missing the strange brightness that lent Evan's gaze a certain light.  "A really, really annoying and pesky brother, at that . . ."

Evan snorted but forced a little grin.  "Anyway, you could marry me, even if you thought that we really were related," he shot back with a widening grin.  "You're from Kentucky, aren't you?"

She snorted.  "Stand still for a moment, will you?"

"What for?"

She snorted again.  "So I can find something to throw at you."

"You could throw yourself at me," he went on airily.  "Oh, wait . . . I'd like that, wouldn't I?"

"Twisted little monkey."

"Ooh-ooh, ahh-ahh."

She glanced up at him, ready to ask him a little more in-depth about his plans, but stopped short when she finally got a good look at him—or rather, at the tee-shirt he was wearing.  "Really," she intoned, shaking her head and narrowing her eyes just a little.

Evan looked down at himself then shot her a stupid grin.  "What?  You don't like it?"

"'Save a drum—bang a singer'," she read out loud.  He chuckled at the obvious distaste in her voice.  "Is that something you should wear in front of your dear, sweet mother?"

Evan's grin widened.  "Who do you think bought it for me?"

"Come again?"

He laughed.  "She saw it in a novelty store a while back and bought it, but between you and me?  I highly doubt she really got what it meant."

No, Valerie didn't suppose that she did.  Smiling just a little, she let Evan take her coffee mug and refill it.  "So, how long is it going to take you to play errand-boy?" she asked.

"I don't know," he replied.  "Not too long.  You're gonna miss me, right?"

"Maybe I'll take a short run down by the ocean," she mused, completely ignoring Evan's comments.  "After eating all that food in Kentucky, I think I need it."

"Yeah, be careful if you do," he warned.  "It tends to be slicker than you might think."  He paused for a moment, casting her a thoughtful sort of scowl.  "In fact, why don't you wait on that?  I'll go with you when I get back."

She was about to wave off his concern, but she nodded instead.  Evan might be outrageous, and he certainly had his moments, but if he gave her a warning like that, then there was a good chance that there was a reason for it.  "All right," she allowed.  "But don't think that I don't know that it's just another ploy of yours so that you can stare at my ass."

"Nah," he insisted with a grin.  "That's just an added bonus."

She watched him go with a little smile on her face, and she sighed, but it was a happy kind of sigh.  She had a feeling that there was something about his errand trip that he wasn't telling her, but that was all right.  If it was important, he'd tell her in good time.  He always did.


-Valerie-


"Hmm . . . I don't really look much like Zel Roka, do I?"

Valerie blinked and laughed as Gin peered over her shoulder at her with a very frank expression on her face.  "Maybe not Zel," she allowed thoughtfully, "but Evan looks just like you."

Gin giggled and turned back to face the television.  "Okay, girls!  Ready for the next song?"

To be completely honest, Valerie wasn't entirely sure how Gin managed to talk her into this little misadventure.  At least she wasn't alone.  Jillian and Sydnie were both humoring her, as well—Jillian with a guitar, and Sydnie with a bass while Valerie, at least, was able to look a little more serious, situated as she was behind the drum pads.  She hadn't realized that when Gin had mentioned that she wanted to talk to Valerie that it would include the recently released Zel Roka edition of the Rock Band franchise game.

Of course, she had to admit that the best part of the entire situation had to be hearing Gin Zelig singing along to her son's less admirable songs.  Valerie was of the opinion that Gin couldn't possibly understand exactly what the words meant, because she seemed completely oblivious, and happily so, at that.

It was more fun than she would have otherwise thought.  They were playing on the easiest setting—and doing pretty well.  At least they hadn't been boo-ed off the stage—yet.

"Mama, does Daddy play this with you?" Jillian asked, glancing down at the fake guitar in her hands.

"Once or twice," Gin allowed.  "He only likes to play the drums, though, which is so sad!  Your father has a beautiful singing voice—I think that's where Evan gets it."

Sydnie raised an eyebrow.  "Cain sings?"

"Well, of course he does!" Gin insisted.  "When the children were little, he used to sing to them all the time!"

For some reason, Valerie couldn't really picture that, either.  Oh, sure, she could picture Cain singing to his children on occasion, but for the game?  No, no, definitely not . . .

"Hello, ladies . . . are you enjoying yourselves?"

Valerie stopped, mid-stroke, as did the rest of the women, to stare at Gunnar Inutaisho as the very imposing man strode into the living room.

"Of course we are, puppy!" Sydnie purred.  "You want to join us?"

Gunnar chuckled, stuffing his hands into his pockets.  "Not on your life, pussikins," he replied easily.  "Is Bas back yet?"

"Gunnar!" Gin greeted warmly, setting the microphone down so that she could hurry over to kiss his cheek.  "Cain said he won't be back till early evening."

Gunnar smiled at his aunt and nodded.  "I see."

"We were going to eat lunch soon," she went on brightly.  "Why don't you stay and eat with us?"

Gunnar inclined his head, his little smile still in place.  "I'm sorry.  I really can't.  I have a ton of things to do in the office today. Maybe some other time?"

Gin giggled and patted him on the back.  "Of course," she insisted.  "You're always welcome here, you know."

"I know," he said, his smile widening a few degrees.  "I'll keep that in mind."

Clapping her hands suddenly, Gin bounced on the balls of her feet.  "Oh!  If you're going to go straight back to the office, I'll pack a bentou for you!"

Gunnar blinked and looked surprised.  "I don't want to put you to any trouble," he insisted.

Gin rolled her eyes and waved a hand as she started away from him.  "Trouble!" she scoffed over her shoulder.  "You're never a trouble, Mamoruzen!"

Gunnar chuckled and nodded.  "Then that would be great," he graciously demurred.  "Thank you."

"Ah!  We're about to get boo-ed off the stage!" Jillian exclaimed.  "Quick, Gunnar!  Grab the microphone!"

"Oh, absolutely not, Jillian," he replied firmly despite the amusement still lingering in his expression.

"You don't really have to know the words or anything," Jillian added.  "You can just hum along, and as long as you hit the right notes, it'll still count."

Gunnar didn't look at all impressed with the suggestion, but he was saved from further comment when Cain strode into the living room.  Spotting Gunnar, he stopped short, blinking in a sort of surprised kind of way.  "Ah, Gunnar . . . did I forget an appointment or something?"

In Valerie's estimation, the man looked rather relieved as he shifted his gaze to his uncle.  "Not at all," he admitted.  "I was just checking in to see if Bas was back yet."

"Oh . . . No, but he should be back this evening," Cain replied.

"I've been told," Gunnar said.

Cain nodded slowly.  "Do you need help with something?"

"No," Gunnar remarked with a casual hitch of his shoulders.  "I just wanted to ask him a few questions about that case he gave me earlier."

"I see," Cain intoned.  "Why don't you step into my office for a few minutes and tell me what you've found out."

Gunnar didn't respond, but he did follow Cain out of the living room.

Valerie frowned as the fabricated crowd on the video game started to jeer loudly, and she set down the drumsticks and extended her arms over her head to stretch.  Case?  Just what the hell did Cain do for a living, anyway . . .?

"Gavvie's better at this game than I am," Jillian stated, setting the guitar peripheral on a nearby chair.  About the second she turned away, Bailey scrambled up and grabbed it.  Olivia started to scale the chair much to Bailey's obvious distress, and with a soft giggle, Sydnie scooped up her daughter and sat down, letting Olivia play around with the buttons on the second guitar.  "He uses one of those Air-Bender guitars that Evan sent him, though.

"Where is Gavvie?" Sydnie suddenly asked, arching a delicate eyebrow at her sister-in-law.

Jillian giggled.  "Taking a nap," she said with a flutter of her hand.  "Poor man . . ." she crooned, sounding anything but sorry, "he didn't get much sleep last night . . ."

"Hmm," Sydnie said thoughtfully, "I'll bet he didn't."

Jillian shot Sydnie a very saucy grin accompanied by a playful wink before turning her smile on Valerie.  "And is Evan behaving himself these days?"

She opened her mouth to tell Jillian that he wasn't, but she stopped before she did.  For some reason, the idea of saying anything derogatory about the man in question bothered her, especially when he wasn't here to defend himself.  "He's been pretty good," she said instead, offering Jillian a somewhat tight little smile.

Jillian burst into gales of laughter, as though Valerie had said something extraordinarily funny.  "I'll have to have a talk with him," she said when she'd finally wound down a little.  "I don't think he'll ever behave, so, either you're lying to keep him out of trouble, or he's gone and lost his touch."

"Not that one," Sydnie admitted thoughtfully.  "But that's how he's always been, right?"

Gin hurried back into the room with a small, black lacquered box in her hands.  She stopped and glanced around with a slight frown.  "Where did Gunnar go?"

"He went to talk to Cain," Sydnie said, setting Olivia aside and getting to her feet.  "Is that his lunch?  I'll take it to him."

"Thank you," Gin said, handing Sydnie the box.

Jillian stood up and yawned.  "I think I'm going to go lie down with Gavvie for a while," she announced.

"Okay, sweetie," Gin replied.  She watched her daughter slip out of the room before turning to face Valerie once more.  "I guess it's just the two of us," she said with a bright smile.  "Evan said that the two of you were in Kentucky the other day when I called . . . We weren't interrupting anything, were we?"

"Wh . . .?  Oh, no," Valerie hurried to assure her.  "We, uh . . . We were down there, visiting my family."

Gin's eyes widened.  "I see!  You wanted to introduce Evan to your parents?"

Valerie could have kicked herself for having led Gin to that conclusion.  Worse yet, the woman looked so happy by the idea as well as by the implications of it that it made Valerie grimace inwardly.  "Uh-h-h-h . . ."

Gin grasped Valerie's hands and dragged her over to the sofa to sit down.  "Evan told me that the two of you were having some problems," she said as she pulled Olivia onto her lap and wrapped her arms around the tiny girl.  "I'm so relieved to see that you've worked everything out!"

"Th-That's not really why we went down there," she said with a grimace that she couldn't hide.  "I mean, he did meet them, but . . ." Valerie trailed off and heaved a sigh.  "I . . . I was . . . estranged from my family for a long time.  They . . . They made some mistakes when I was little, and I was taken away from them.  Evan found out that my father is really sick, and he told me, so I . . . Evan . . . He just went with me for moral support."

Gin's smile faded almost instantly, only to be replaced by a very distressed, very compassionate frown.  "Oh . . . Oh, that's terrible," she said quietly, reaching over to pat Valerie's hand.  "Not that Evan went with you—that you and your family . . . I'm so sorry."

Why was she telling all of this to Gin?  Valerie frowned at her own admissions, and yet, it seemed so natural a thing, didn't it?  For some reason, she was just as easy to talk to as Evan was, even if it was in a wholly different kind of way . . . "N-No, everything's fine now—or at least, it will be fine," Valerie amended, giving the woman a rather timid little smile.  "There were a lot of things that I didn't know; a lot of things that no one had ever told me."

Gin shook her head stubbornly, and Valerie was horrified to see that the poor woman had tears in her eyes.  "But you were just a child—a baby!  You must've been so scared . . ."

"It wasn't so bad," she heard herself saying.  If it continued, Gin was going to cry for real, and Valerie didn't want that.  "I'm all right now."

Gin sniffled and nodded, forcing a smile that was completely at odds with the tears that were still awash in her gaze.  "Of course you are!" she exclaimed softly.  "You've got Evan, and he'll take good care of you."

Valerie's already faltering smile disappeared, and she winced.  To be honest, she wasn't comfortable with the idea that Gin was led to believe that she was Evan's girlfriend.  It wasn't right, was it?  Gin was too sweet, too kind . . . "Well . . ." she drawled, trying to come up with a good way to break the truth to Gin.  "We're not . . . really . . ." She grimaced.  "We're just friends."

Gin giggled softly, wiping her eyes with the knuckle of a crooked index finger.  "That's the best way to start," she said, leaning toward Valerie, as though she was letting her in on a secret.  "Cain and I were 'just friends', too."

Valerie bit her lip.  Telling Gin the truth was proving to be far more difficult than she had ever thought it would be, but the more that she got to know Gin, the worse the lie made her feel.  Glancing down at her hands, watching as she twisted her engagement ring around on her finger, she sighed.  "The truth is,
I—"

"Afternoon, ladies.  I hope you didn't miss me too much."

Valerie turned in time to see Evan stride into the room with a couple bags from different stores and an ornery grin on his face.  He hurried over to kiss his mother's cheek then just as easily leaned to the side to kiss Valerie's cheek, too.

"We were just talking about you!" Gin said with a bright smile.  "Did you get your errands done?"

Evan's grin widened.  "Oh, then don't mind me.  Just pretend I'm not here," he quipped, stepping back and plopping into a nearby chair while looking completely attentive.

Gin laughed and stood, taking Olivia with her.  "I'm going to go check on lunch.  You're hungry, aren't you?"

"Always," Evan said, looking entirely too pleased with the idea of being fed.

Valerie shook her head.  "I'm all right," she hurried to say.  "I guess I had a little too much for breakfast.

She sighed inwardly.  That was true enough.  When she'd tried to insist that all she wanted was a grapefruit, Gin had looked positively horrified—and then proceeded to cook Valerie an egg, a couple lean sausage patties, and an English muffin with cherry preserves.  She hadn't eaten it all, but she had eaten more than she usually did, and all because Gin had looked so pleased when she'd set the food in front of her.

Gin waved a hand in obvious dismissal.  "It'll be ready in a few minutes," she promised as she headed toward the kitchen.  "I'll come get you in a bit."

Valerie watched Gin go and slowly shook her head.  "I think she's trying to fatten me up," she remarked, more to herself than to Evan.

"Entirely possible," Evan allowed.  "I told you that you can afford to gain a few pounds, remember?"

That earned him a droll kind of look.  "I can't, either," she insisted with a stubborn shake of her head.  "Between your mother and mine, I think there's some kind of weird conspiracy going on."

Evan looked a little too amused by her grumbling.  "No way, baby . . . So, what were you and my dear, sweet mama saying about me, hmm?"

Valerie rolled her eyes.  "Subtle, Roka," she muttered, then scowled.  "I want to tell her," she admitted.

"Tell her what?"

Her frown deepened.  "That we're not together," she clarified.  "You shouldn't be telling her that we are, you know.  Besides, I really like her, and I don't like lying to her."

To her surprise, Evan didn't look particularly irritated or even remotely fazed by her statement.  No, if anything, he looked somewhat amused.  "She already knows that," he told her.

Valerie shook her head again. "She doesn't," she argued, careful to keep her tone lowered in case Gin came back while she was talking.  "She doesn't, and it's not okay to let her think otherwise."

Evan sighed and shrugged offhandedly.  "You're putting too much brain-power into it, V," he insisted.  "Contrary to popular belief, Mama's not nearly as naïve as she might seem sometimes.  Call it intuition or something.  I promise you, she doesn't really believe that we're together.  She just wants us to be; that's all."

Valerie snorted tersely.  "All the same, I'd feel better if we just flat-out told her . . ."

He shot her a probing kind of look, and for once, Valerie wasn't entirely sure, exactly what was behind that gaze in particular.  "Okay," he finally said.  "You win.  I'll tell her."

Rubbing her forehead, Valerie shook her head.  "I didn't mean that you had to do it by yourself."

"Don't worry about it, V," he insisted.  "I'm the one who told her that you were my girlfriend, right?  So it makes sense that I should be the one to tell her that you're not.  Besides, I already told her we broke up back when we were down in the Bahamas."

Somehow, Evan's easy acquiescence didn't do a thing to make her feel better.  For some reason, it actually made her feel that much worse about her part in the deception, even if that had never been her intention.  "I just . . . I don't like lying to her," Valerie muttered rather defensively.

Evan's grin looked genuine enough.  "Because you like my mama," he concluded.  "It's okay.  She likes you a lot, too."

Valerie wasn't so sure about that, all things considered.

"So, what did you and Mama do while I was gone?" Evan asked, apparently thinking that the subject was a done deal.

Valerie smiled, recalling the girls' round of Rock Band: Zel Roka Edition.  "We played that video game—you know, the Rock Band one—the Zel Roka Rock Band one."

Evan barked out a somewhat incredulous little laugh.  "Is that right?  And I missed it?"

"That's right, Roka," she teased.  "You totally missed it."

Evan grunted and started to open his mouth.  Valerie interrupted before he could get the words out.  "Too bad, rocker-boy."

"So mean," Evan pouted, hauling himself out of his chair and ambling toward the doorway that led to the kitchen.  "I'll challenge you all after lunch."

"Who said I'd play with you?" Valerie scoffed.

Evan chuckled.  "You will, baby.  You know you will."


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'The Remedy' by Jason Mraz originally appeared on the 2002 release, Waiting for my Rocket to Come.  Copyrighted to Scott Spock, Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards, Jason Thomas Mraz.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
He'd better tell her ...
==========
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 164
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