InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ It's All Relative ( Chapter 167 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter One Hundred Sixty-Seven~~
~It's all Relative~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Lately, I've been talking in my sleep ...
'Can't imagine what I'd have to say
'Except my world would be right
'When love comes back your way  ...'

-'Running on Faith' by Eric Clapton.


-Valerie-


"So how about we draw straws to see who'll get to name the baby?"

"Oh, wow . . ." Bas remarked as he considered the idea.

Cain snorted.  "And run the risk that you win?  No way," he insisted.

"I swear, I'll pick a good name," Evan said.

"Pfft.  Do you remember what you named that stuffed dog your mom gave you for your fifth birthday?"

Evan's grin widened as he stuffed a huge hunk of sausage into his mouth.  "What was wrong with Poozer?"

Cain didn't answer, but he did snort again.

Leaning against the counter, Valerie sipped her coffee and opted to stand back and watch the unfolding debacle.

"Hmm, something tells me that this isn't going to end well," Sydnie remarked in an aside as she mimicked Valerie's stance, her gaze, also like Valerie's, trained on the men sitting in the breakfast nook.

"It'd be more of a situation if Evan were really serious," she said.  "He's just being a dork."

Sydnie laughed.  "He wouldn't be Evan if he didn't try to stir things up.  As for being serious?  I'd be surprised if he wasn't."

Valerie wrinkled her nose and sipped the coffee again.  "The question is, will Bas side with Cain or Evan?"

Giving an offhanded shrug, Sydnie giggled softly.  "More often than not, he sides with Cain, but sometimes he'll surprise you . . . Depends on Sebastian's mood . . ."

"And what's his mood today?"

Sydnie's smile took on a rather enigmatic little lilt.  "I'm not entirely sure," she admitted.

"Don't be stupid, Evan," Bas muttered between bites of eggs.  "That'd be as ridiculous as Sydnie and me letting you name one of our pups."

"Not really," Evan argued.  "I mean, why would I want to name one of my nieces or nephews, anyway?"

Bas blinked and stared at him for a long moment, as though he were trying to decide whether or not Evan was being serious.  "Well, that's true," he finally relented.  "Sounds good to me, then."

"Oh, it looks like he's in the mood to humor Evan," Sydnie remarked.

"God help us," Valerie muttered, slowly shaking her head.

"Forget it," Cain stated flatly.  "And don't suggest it to your mom, either."

"Suggest what to their mom?" Gin asked as she wandered into the kitchen with a book in hand.  When she spotted the women standing near the counter, she smiled.  "Oh, do you two want some breakfast?"

"No, thank you," Valerie quickly said.  "Evan already made it."

Gin seemed surprised for a moment, then her smile widened.  "Did he really?  That's so sweet!"

Sydnie laughed.  "Your sweetie is over there, trying to convince Cain to draw straws to see who gets to name the baby."

Retrieving a sausage patty out from under a clean white kitchen towel off the platter on the stove, Gin paused for a moment to blink at Sydnie.  "Do we get to draw, too?"

Valerie refilled her coffee cup and hid her smile.  Only Gin would ask something like that, she figured.  

"Morning, Mama," Evan said, rounding the counter and giving her a noisy, obnoxious kiss.  "Go sit down, and I'll make you a plate."

"Oh, I can get it," Gin said, patting Evan's cheek affectionately.

"Yeah, but I want to," Evan insisted.

Gin giggled and headed toward the breakfast nook.  "Such a sweetie!"

"You know, Dad, it's pretty remarkable that the two of you decided to have another baby," Bas ventured as he scooted over to make room for his mother.

"Why's that?" Cain asked, looking more than a little dubious.

Bas shrugged.  "Wasn't that long ago that Mom was set to move in with me, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," Evan added, peering up from the plate he was filling for his mother.  "What was that all about, anyway?  Did you ever figure it out, Bubby?"

"We don't need to talk about that," Cain insisted.

Evan crossed his arms over his chest and bounced slightly on the balls of his feet.  "I kind of think we do."

"It was a misunderstanding," Cain grumbled.  "Can we drop it now?"

"It kind of wasn't," Gin said slowly, her gaze cast down on the table.  "I mean, I don't think I misunderstood what I saw at all."

Cain heaved a sigh.  "Gin . . ."

Bas glanced from his mother to his father and back again.  "What kind of misunderstanding, Dad?" he asked mildly despite the formidable scowl on his face.

Cain opened his mouth to speak.  Gin was faster.  "It's all right now," she said, her tone a lot more upbeat than the expression on her face would have led them to believe.  "Your father apologized, and . . . and I know that he really didn't mean it."

"What the hell does that mean, Cain?" Evan demanded.

Cain sighed again.  "I was working at the time, Gin," he reminded her.  "I didn't actually realize that she was in the studio until—well, seconds before I realized that she wasn't you!"

"She?  She, who?" Evan pressed.

Cain grunted and shot him a fulminating glower.  "What do you mean, 'she', who?  The gypsy girl you sent here—the one who apparently didn't understand when we told her that she couldn't go into my studio."

Bas sat back and slowly shook his head.  "Uh, Dad . . .?"

"What?"

". . . Are you trying to say that you were unfaithful to Mom . . .?"

Cain grimaced then glowered across the table.  "Hell, no," he growled.

Gin cleared her throat.  "But . . . She was awfully close to unzipping your pants, Zelig-sensei," she murmured quietly, her cheeks erupting in a painful shade of red.

"I stopped her before she did anything!" Cain insisted.  "Damn it, I—"

Evan whistled low.  "Holy shit, Cain . . ."

He looked like he was ready to light into someone, but suddenly, Cain sighed.  "As soon as I realized that it wasn't you, I stopped her," he said, his voice taking on a much gentler tone.  "I was in the middle of working on that painting, and I wasn't paying attention.  I'm sorry, Gin."

"I know," Gin squeaked, sniffling slightly as Bas slipped an arm around her shoulders protectively.  "It's okay."

Cain sighed again.  On the one hand, he did look sorry.  On the other, he also looked like he was considering giving his sons an earful since they were the ones who had dragged it up all over again, in the first place.

"I dunno, Bas," Evan drawled without taking his gaze off his father.  From where she stood, Valerie couldn't rightfully see his face, but she didn't have to.  The rigidity in his stance spoke volumes, as far as she was concerned.  His tone held a hint of teasing, that was true, but there was an underlying sense of anger that she could sense.  "I don't think that's nearly enough.  Do you?"

Bas didn't reply right away, but he did continue to stare at his father.

"Where's your sword, Cain?" Evan went on.

"Sounds about right," Bas agreed.

"Now, boys . . ." Gin began but scooted out of the booth to let Bas out.

"Aw, don't worry, Mama," Evan said, stepping around the counter to kiss his mother's cheek.  "We won't kill him, will we, Bubby?"

"Dead, no," Bas agreed.  "But you've got to admit: if that were Evan or me, we'd be sitting through a few hours' worth of The Lecture, and we won't beat on him that long."

Cain heaved a long, loud sigh, but he stood up, too.  On some level, Valerie supposed, Cain still felt terrible about what had happened, and that was probably the main reason that he was going along with his sons' idea of retribution.

"Are they really going to fight?" Valerie leaned toward Sydnie to ask.

Sydnie frowned thoughtfully as she watched the men filing out of the room with Gin hurrying along behind them.  "Oh, probably," she finally said.  "Do you want to go watch?"

Valerie made a face, mostly because Sydnie sounded a little too pleased with the idea of bloodshed and mayhem.  She'd seen them fight before while she was here over Christmas, so she wasn't nearly as worried as she might have otherwise been.  Strange enough that the boys had so obviously been trained in the art of sword fighting.  Such an archaic kind of thing, and yet, it seemed to fit the family on the whole, too . . .

Still, she had very little doubt that the whole thing might well upset Gin, and that wouldn't be all right in the least.

"Mommy," Bailey said, rubbing his eyes as he shuffled into the kitchen, his bronze hair sticking up in tufts all over his head.  "Livvy's whinin'."

"Aww, is she?" Sydnie cooed, ruffling her son's hair affectionately.  "I'll be right back, okay?"

Bailey nodded and yawned at the same time.  Then he rubbed his eyes and slowly glanced around.  "Where's Grandma?" he asked, blinking up at Valerie in a thoroughly confused sort of way.

Valerie smiled.  Bas and Sydnie were here so late last night that they'd opted to stay over instead of driving home, and Evan had mentioned that he'd woken up to two little bodies, huddled against him under the blankets.  At some point last night, Bailey had crept into Evan's room, and Olivia had followed her brother, not that Evan minded.  If nothing else, he loved the children, and being a big kid himself, Valerie figured that it wasn't surprising in the least . . . "She's outside," she told him, kneeling down with her hands on her knees so that she was on Bailey's level.  "Are you hungry?"

Bailey's eyes lit up.  "Yeah, I'm hungry!" he yelled.

Valerie laughed and pushed herself to her feet to retrieve a plate off the counter.  "Let's see . . . Uncle Evan made bacon, pancakes, sausage, and biscuits and gravy . . . What do you want?"

Bailey grabbed onto the counter and peered at the food on the stove as Valerie held up the towels so that he could see.  "Yeah!"

"Yeah?" Valerie echoed quizzically.  "You mean, you want all of it?"

"Yeah!" Bailey exclaimed again.  "All of it!"

Valerie pulled a pancake out of the center of the stack since the top ones were a little cooler and split a biscuit in half.  She had only eaten one of the pancakes with just a touch of honey, and she had felt more than satisfied, but she knew well enough that Bailey was what some might call a 'good eater'.  In her estimation, that was a bit of an understatement, though.  The boy could put away more food in one sitting than Valerie usually ate all day long, so she wasn't too concerned as she ladled gravy over the biscuit before slipping a sausage patty and a slice of bacon onto the plate, too.  If anything, he'd probably be hollering that he wanted more before it was all said and done, but then, he had so much energy that he burned it all off in a matter of hours, anyway.

"Thank you!" Bailey said as he hopped over to the breakfast nook on Valerie's heels.

"You're welcome," she said, setting the plate down and stepping back so Bailey could climb onto the bench.  "Do you want some juice?  Milk?"

"Daddy says I should drink milk," Bailey garbled around a mouthful of syrup-soaked pancake.

Valerie laughed and hurried over to fill a glass for him.  By the time she'd returned, the boy had already polished off the bacon, sausage, and most of the pancake, too.  "I guess you were hungry," she said.

Bailey giggled.  "Daddy says I'm always hungry," he told her.  "That way, I can be big like him when I grow up!"

"Where the fuck is everyone?"

Valerie turned, eyes widening, as a strange man strode into the kitchen with a very pretty Oriental woman in tow.  He had the same silvery hair as Gin and Evan, and it hung loose to his waist—maybe a little lower—but the predatory way in which he shifted his gaze around the room was entirely unsettling, especially when it lit on Valerie and stayed there.  "Who the hell are you?" he growled without blinking.

Valerie could feel her mouth fall open and snapped it closed as her cheeks pinked slightly.  Despite the gruffness in the man's voice as well as the harshness in his words, he seemed more curious than hostile, and the little head of a very small child that peeked over his shoulder only served to soften the image in her mind even more.  "Hi," Valerie said a little uncertainly.  They had to be related to the family.  There were too many similarities in their looks not to be.  Valerie just wasn't entirely sure how . . . "I'm Valerie—Valerie Denning.  Evan's friend," she added, almost as an afterthought.

The man's face contorted as he scowled at her, but it was more like he was trying to make up his mind about her.  For some reason, the expression reminded her of Evan—she wasn't sure why—and she had to press her lips together tightly to keep from laughing outright.  There was just something inherently cute about him, even if she had the distinct feeling that he wouldn't appreciate hearing any such thing.  "Evan's friend, huh?" he muttered, crossing his arms over his chest.  He spoke English well enough, it seemed, but he had a very thick accent, too.  "That what they're calling it these days?"

"InuYasha!" the woman behind him hissed pleasantly.  Then she said something in a language that Valerie didn't understand, but the man obviously did, because he grunted and rolled his eyes.

"Hello," the woman called, leaning to the side to see around the man.  "I'm Kagome, and this is InuYasha . . . and this—" she said, peeling the little girl off InuYasha's back and setting her down on the floor, "—is Takara."

"Hajimemashite douzo yoroshiku," the little girl said, her golden eyes wide, solemn as she bowed formally.  When she straightened up, she cocked her head to the side, apparently content to stare at Valerie.

"Ah . . . Hello?" Valerie replied, unsure as to what the child had just said but fairly positive that it was some kind of greeting.

InuYasha snorted when Kagome gave him a little nudge with her elbow.  "Keh!  Whatever, wench!"  Then he turned his attention back to Valerie once more.  "So where is everyone, anyway?"

"Jiijii!" Bailey hollered, scooting off the bench and dashing across the floor to bounce up and down in front of the new arrivals and ignoring Takara completely.  "Baa-chan!"

"Oh, they're all outside in the back yard," she explained as Kagome scooped Bailey up and gave him a loud kiss on the cheek.  Bailey giggled, and for a moment, Valerie had to wonder just how the diminutive woman kept a hold on a child as big as Bailey.

"Why the hell are they out there?" InuYasha grumbled as he scooped Takara up once more and pretty much slung her over his shoulder and onto his back.

"Uh . . ." Valerie hedged.  "Evan and Bas kind of dragged Cain out there," she finally said.

To her surprise, InuYasha swung around to face Kagome.  "See, wench?  I told you that we didn't need to fucking stop for breakfast!" he complained.  "C'mon!"

"InuYasha, no!" Kagome insisted, hurrying after him with Bailey still in tow.  She grabbed a blanket that lay over the back of a chair to wrap around the boy, but didn't say anything about the fuzzy little slippers on his feet.  "Besides, you're forgetting that that is still in your suitcase, anyway."

"Keh!" InuYasha snorted but didn't stop moving, either.  "Like I need that to take care of the likes of Zelig Cain," he scoffed.

Valerie wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but she followed along, anyway.  What was 'that'?  And more importantly, was he Evan's uncle or something?  But something else nagged at her, too.  She'd heard those names before, hadn't she?  Evan must've mentioned them before at some point, but at the moment, Valerie couldn't quite place them, either.

Sucking in a sharp breath as she stepped out of the mansion just behind InuYasha and Kagome, Valerie blinked and stared.  Bas and Cain held each other back with the crossed blades of the wooden swords in their hands.  Both were leaning heavily toward the other, but it was clear that Cain was at a disadvantage since he had to keep glancing over at Evan, who, at the moment, was simply prowling around the perimeter, watching his father and brother intently.

Bas grunted and gave a little shove right as Cain's head snapped to the side. Whether he'd heard the door open and close, Valerie didn't know, but she had the distinct feeling that he'd somehow sensed InuYasha and Kagome's arrival.  Unfortunately, Bas' shove sent him stumbling back just as Evan dashed forward, swinging the wooden sword in his hands in a neat and controlled arc that caught Cain in the lower right ribs as he tried to spin away from it.

"Old man!" Evan called, tossing the sword into the air where it flipped, end over end a few times, before he caught it effortlessly, a silly grin surfacing on his features as he looked over at InuYasha.  "What are you doing here?"

"Leave some for me, why don't you?" InuYasha complained, jerking his head in Cain's direction as he planted his hands on the low stone wall and neatly vaulted over it.

Gin squealed and fairly flew at the man, knocking him back a step as she caught him in a hug.  "What are you doing here?" she asked happily.

"Keh!" InuYasha snorted, rolling his eyes as Kagome hurried down the steps to greet Gin, too.  "That old bastard gets you pregnant then refuses to bring you home?  You didn't think I'd leave you here alone with him, did you?"

Kagome rolled her eyes but pulled Gin away gently to hug her, too.  "You're such a jerk, dog-boy," she said.  "Gin told you that it was her choice, didn't she?"

"It was," Gin added, returning to InuYasha's side.  "There's just so much going on around here that it's impractical to go to drop everything to go to Japan right now."

Evan gave Kagome a quick kiss on the cheek and spared a moment to grin goofily at InuYasha before swaggering over to the porch.  He scooped Takara up and kissed her, too, before stopping beside Valerie.  "Where were you?  You missed the show," he complained.  "Hey, Bailey!  Leave some skin, will you?"

Bailey laughed as he scrambled up Evan's back.  He managed to reach around and help the boy so that he didn't fall before he could lock his arms around Evan's neck.  "Is Ji-chan gonna fight Grandpa?" he asked a little breathlessly.

Evan grinned.  "Probably."

"Get him, Jiijii!" Bailey yelled.  The excitement on his face dimmed somewhat, however, as he watched the two men who were busy, glowering at each other.  "I mean, get him, Grandpa . . .!"  The confusion seemed to heighten.  "What if Daddy fights, too?" he suddenly asked, sounding even more distressed about that idea.

Evan laughed.  "It's all right, Bailey.  No one's really going to try to kill anyone . . . maybe."

Bailey whined just a little as Takara started to squirm in Evan's arms.

"What's that mean?" Valerie asked, frowning as she watched InuYasha lunge at Cain, who quickly hopped back to avoid the man's forward momentum.

"What's what mean?" Evan asked.  She could tell from the tone of his voice that he was watching the two men, too.

"Jiijii," she said with a shake of her head.

"Jii . . .?  Oh . . ." Evan drawled.

"'Cause he's my great-grandpa," Bailey said.

Valerie blinked and turned to face Evan.  "Your . . .?"

"Uh-h-h," Evan hedged then broke into a wide grin.  "Ah, well, that's just . . . a joke!  A joke . . ."

"A joke?' she repeated, arching an eyebrow dubiously.

Evan nodded and set both the children on the porch.  "Hey, Bailey.  Why don't you show Takara that new game your daddy bought you?" he suggested.

Bailey's eyes widened, and he bounced up and down a little.  "C'mon, Kara," Bailey said, grabbing the girl's hand and dragging her toward the door.  She didn't look completely sure whether or not she ought to go with him, but she followed him anyway.

Valerie watched the children go before pinning Evan with a no-nonsense stare.  "That guy isn't even close to being old enough to be a grandfather, let alone a great-grandfather," she pointed out calmly, wrapping her arms around herself since she hadn't had the foresight to grab her coat before venturing outside.  For late February, it was unseasonably warm, or so she'd been told, which basically meant that it was still colder than Valerie liked, but not nearly as bad as it was around Christmas.

"W-Well," Evan said, pulling off the sweatshirt he must have grabbed before heading outside, "He is a little older than you think . . . The 'grandpa' thing is just kind of an inside joke, you could say . . ."

"Inside joke?  What kind of joke is that?" she demanded.

Evan grinned.  "A funny one?"

Rolling her eyes, Valerie took the sweatshirt and pulled it over her head.  "Besides that, even if he is older than he looks, it can't be by much," she retorted.  "So what how is he really related to you?  Your uncle?"

"Uncle!" Evan exclaimed, snapping his fingers and bobbing his index finger under her nose.  "Yes, my uncle . . . isn't that right, Uncle InuYasha?"

InuYasha stomped up the steps and uttered a loud snort.  "Uncle what?"

Evan grinned.  "Uncle InuYasha," he repeated.  InuYasha snorted and reached over to slap Evan upside the head.  Evan ducked to avoid it, but his grin widened a little more.  "V, here, thinks your my uncle since there's no way in hell that you're old enough to be my grandfather."

InuYasha opened his mouth.  Kagome slipped her hand up under his elbow.  "And I'm Aunt Kagome," she said brightly.  "Come on, Uncle InuYasha . . . You promised you'd be on your best behavior around Cain, remember?"

InuYasha didn't look particularly impressed with Kagome's reminder, but they headed toward the doors, anyway.  Valerie watched them go with a thoughtful frown and slowly shook her head.  "Your family is so weird, Roka," she finally said, rubbing her forehead as she gave up trying to figure any of them out.

He chuckled and slipped an arm around her.  "Want to go for a jog, V?" he asked.

Valerie leaned to the side so that she could look up into his face.  "Okay," she agreed slowly, "but don't think I don't know that you're trying to change the subject."

His grin only widened.  "You've got five minutes to change or I'll leave without you," he warned.

Rolling her eyes, Valerie shrugged his arm off of her.  "Whatever, Roka," she tossed over her shoulder.  "We'll see about that."

The sounds of his chuckles followed her inside, and she sighed.  Then again, did it really matter?  After all, as far as she could tell, they were some of the warmest people she'd ever met, and that had to account for something.


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A/N:

Hajimem ashite douzo yoroshiku: Basically, "How do you do? Please take care of me."
Jiijii: Informal address for 'old man'.  Bailey was taught to use this to refer to InuYasha because he's a boy
Baa-chan: Informal address for 'grandma'.

'Running on Faith' by Eric Clapton originally appeared on the 1989 release, Journeyman.  Copyrighted to Jerry Lynn Williams.
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Final
Thought from InuYasha:
Uncle, my ass!
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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 166
Chapter 168
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