InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Rush Job ( Chapter 170 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'It's time to forget about the past ...
'To wash away what happened last
'Hide behind an empty face
'Don't ask too much the same ...
''Cause this is just a game ...'

-'A Beautiful Lie' by 30 Seconds to Mars.


-Valerie-


Heaving a sigh, Valerie rubbed her forehead and jotted a few notes on the steno pad in front of her as she tried to push off the misplaced feelings of guilt that she'd opted to go to work today instead of taking Evan up on his offer to 'go do something fun'.  She wasn't sure what he had in mind when he'd made that proposal, first thing this morning before her clock had even gone off.  He'd called her no less than four times in a row to wake her up, and all because he was, in his cryptic words, bored.

It figured, didn't it?  He was leaving tomorrow for his European stint, and here she sat, behind a desk, going over notes she'd already written days ago on a case that was just going to end with her client receiving what amounted to a slap on the wrist since it was his first offense, and a minor one, at that, when she could be out doing something fun—or at least, something morbidly entertaining, knowing Evan, but she'd declined, and why?  Because she knew—just knew—that he was simply going to try to get her to go with him.

Okay, to be completely honest, it wasn't that she was afraid that he was going to try to change her mind.  If anything, she was banking on that.  The real problem was her own.  She really did need to stay here, to get things done, maybe even get a little ahead of the game.  But she knew damn well that if he kept it up, she was in very real danger of giving in, and not just because he wanted to drag her along, either.

'Stop it,' she told herself firmly, resolving to concentrate on what she was doing.  Besides, there'd be other opportunities to go to Europe, with or without Evan, right?  Even then, it wasn't like he'd actually be able to get out and go exploring with her, anyway.  Mike always kept Evan locked up tighter than the vaults in Fort Knox, or so it seemed.  Maybe it was for his own good—after all, setting Zel Roka loose anywhere was just asking for trouble.  Still, objectively speaking, Evan was an adult, and there were times when Mike tended to treat him like a child, even if it was to protect him.

The trill of her cell phone rang broke through her bleak thoughts, and she reached for it without looking up from her task.  "Hello?" she greeted.

"Hey, V, just the lady I wanted to talk to."

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie pushed the notepad aside and sat back in her chair.  "Why does that send shivers, straight up my spine?" she asked dryly.

Evan chuckled.  The breathy quality of it was like a caress, and she rubbed her arm to dispel the goosebumps that rose to the surface of her skin. "Well, hell, I'll have to say that to you more often, huh?" he teased.

Valerie snorted.  "Not in a good way," she informed him primly.  "Anyway, I hesitate to ask, but what do you need?"

He chuckled again.  "Know anything about who I'd contact for a rushed passport?"

"A rushed . . .?  What are you up to, Roka?" she demanded, unable to control the suspicion thick in her voice.

"Nothing," he told her.  If she could see his face, she figured he'd be making that wide-eyed, innocent expression that meant he definitely was up to something.  "I just need a passport; that's all."

Stifling a snort, Valerie stood up and wandered over to the window.  "Did yours suddenly expire or something?"

He laughed.  "Of course not, baby; it's not for me."

She blinked and shifted her gaze to the hard-line gray of the city outside.  "Oh . . . is it for the new bassist?"

"Uh, okay," he said.  "Something like that."

She frowned.  "Why isn't Mike taking care of it?  Don't you have more important things to do than to call around for a rush on a passport?"

Evan coughed.  "Mike's a little busy," he told her.  "Anyway, I told him I'd call around . . . Ask for help from this hotter than hell attorney I know . . ."

She wasn't entirely sure she was buying whatever he was selling.  "Just call their office and explain why you need a rushed passport.  If he's a member of the band, even a temporary one, they should be able to get one issued pretty quickly if they don't have anything more important to do."

"Hmm, all right," he said.  "I'll try that.  Thanks, V.  Later."

Valerie opened her mouth to ask him again why he needed such a thing, but the connection died before she could, and she sighed and wrinkled her nose.  A rushed passport . . .? Okay, she supposed that it was possible that the guy they'd hired to fill in on bass could need one, but it was still a little weird that Evan himself was going out of his way to get it done.  Then again, who knew?  Evan's mind worked in such strange ways sometimes that it was hard to tell, and she supposed that it was entirely possible that Mike might have asked him to take care of it if he was busy.

Maybe.

She snorted suddenly and shook her head as she turned away from the window.  It was another one of his ploys, wasn't it?  He was trying to do something about her passport; she just knew it.  Stupid, though, considering he ought to know that she had a valid one since they'd just flown down to the Bahamas, and she'd had it with her then.

Still, if it kept him out of trouble for the day, then she supposed that was fine, too.

Then she sighed.  Reminding her in his not-so-subtle way that he really wanted her to go to Europe with him when he already knew that she wanted to?  'The jerk . . .'


-Valerie-


"What is it this time, Roka?"

Evan chuckled.  "Hey, baby," he replied.  "So, I called the clerk's office about getting a rush on a passport," he told her, "but they said that they're backlogged, and it can't be done till Monday, soonest."

Letting the pen drop from her fingertips, she frowned.  "And that's too late," she said.

"A little, yeah," he complained.   "S,o then, I called the other places where it could be done, and they said basically the same thing or worse."

"When's your first show?  If he has to wait, is that going to be a problem?" she asked reasonably.

Evan grunted.  "First show is Friday night, V," he told her.  "Monday's just not going to work."

"Well," she said, rubbing her forehead as she considered the predicament, "You could try calling around to different agencies that are a little further away . . . Even if he has to go out of state, they might be able to do more for you.  The offices here in the city tend to be pretty busy, no matter what time of year it is, but with summer coming, it's not really surprising if they're swamped."

"A different state," Evan repeated thoughtfully.  "I'll try that.  Thanks."

The line went dead, and Valerie shook her head as she dropped her phone onto the desk once more.  The more she thought about it, the stranger it seemed to her.  After all, even if Mike was busy, he had other people employed under him to help him with stuff like this, didn't he?  Evan hadn't ever really mentioned it before, but, given Mike's line of work, he had to, didn't he?

She reached for the phone, figuring that she'd call Mike and ask him what this was all about.

The office door opened, and she looked up, only to stop and do a classic double-take as Marvin peeked around the corner and smiled at her.  "Uh . . . Marvin," she said, pushing herself to her feet to step around the desk.  "Come in . . ."

His smile widened just a little as he stepped inside and closed the door again.  "My plane just got in, but I wanted to come see you right away," he admitted as he stepped forward for a chaste kiss.

Valerie nodded as a weak little smile tugged on her lips.  "If you wanted to surprise me, you did it," she told him.  "How long are you staying?"
"Well," he said, stuffing his hands into his pockets and shuffling his feet almost nervously, "It depends on how long you want me to hang around . . . I figured I'd stay at least a couple weeks.  I don't have anything else at the moment; not until the Thurigen Conference at the end of the month."

She nodded slowly.  "The Thuringen Conference?  They asked you to be a guest speaker, right?"

His smile widened, pleased that she remembered.  "Yeah," he said.  "It's not keynote or anything, but I've heard that a lot of people are interested in hearing my presentation."

"I'm glad."

Marvin glanced past her at her desk then winced just a little bit.  "I'm interrupting your work, aren't I?" he asked.

Valerie smiled and quickly shook her head.  "Of course not," she told him.  "You know, I haven't had lunch yet . . . you feel like grabbing a quick bite, or would you rather go home and get some rest?"

"Lunch sounds good," he told her.

Valerie nodded and grabbed her phone off the desk.  "Just let me get my purse," she said as she tugged on the heavy spring coat she'd opted to wear since the weather was warming up a little bit outside.

Marvin opened the door for her and stepped back to let her pass before following her out of the office.  "I'm going out for lunch," she told the secretary.  "I'll be back in an hour or so."

"Okay.  Have a good time!"

Valerie waved in answer as Marvin escorted her to the elevator.

They didn't say much as they exited the building.  Well, to be more precise, she didn't say much.  Marvin, on the other hand, was telling her about his meeting with some executive or another.  She wasn't paying a lot of attention as they stepped onto the street.  The mid-March air was crisp and cool, and the sun had warmed the concrete and asphalt nicely despite the inherent haze that never seemed to completely evaporate from the city, mingling with the sounds of cars, of people, of the bustle that was everyday life that all combined to create a dull hum, broken only now and then by the louder, more insistent sounds of sirens or car horns somewhere in the distance.

They walked down the block to the small bistro where Valerie had first seen Evan all those months ago, and to her amusement, the waitress took them to the same table where she'd sat that day, too.  Unconsciously, her gaze shifted to the table where he'd sat, bathed in the softened glow of a faux candle's flame.  He hadn't seemed at all out of place, had he?  He'd melted right in with the rest of the upscale clientele of the establishment, and who in their right minds would have ever suspected that there was a notorious rock-star right there . . .?

The restaurant seemed somehow darker today.

"Iced tea," Marvin told the waitress, pausing in his story long enough to order something to drink.

"I'll have the same," Valerie said.  "Unsweetened, please, with a slice of lemon."

The waitress nodded and handed them each a menu before hurrying away to get their drinks.

Marvin took a deep breath, looking completely happy in a naïve sort of way.   "Listen to me, going on and on," he said almost apologetically.  "You don't want to hear about all of this stuff, do you?"

It wasn't as much of a question as it sounded like, and Valerie grimaced inwardly.  She hadn't meant to make him feel badly . . . "No, it's not that," she insisted, pasting on a bright smile to reassure him.  "It's just . . . just been a long day."

He nodded and smiled compassionately.  "It's okay," he told her.  "So tell me what you've been up to."

"Oh, uh . . . Well, actually . . ."

Marvin was staring at her rather curiously.  He seemed receptive enough, but that wasn't exactly the problem.  He knew that she wasn't on the best of terms with her family.  Considering that he knew she'd grown up in foster care, it wasn't a secret.  She hadn't really told him the entire story, no, but then, he never seemed to want to press her on it.  Having been lost in the shuffle, just like she was, he understood the situation better than anyone.  She just wasn't sure if she was quite ready to try to put her thoughts into words . . .

"I went to Kentucky," she finally said, forcing a smile that was a lot more carefree than she was actually feeling.  "I . . . I got to have a long talk with my parents."

She didn't know exactly what he had been expecting her to day, but it was pretty apparent from his expression that it was nothing that he'd heard.  "You . . . You did . . .?" He couldn't hide the worry that furrowed his brow as he slowly shook his head.  "Are you . . . okay . . .?"

"Oh, yeah," she hurried to say.  "It was just something that I needed to do; that's all."

He wasn't reassured.  "You should have called me, Val . . . I'd have been more than happy to go with you . . ." Trailing off with a shake of his head, his cheeks pinked the tiniest bit as he scowled at the table.  "It's just . . . the idea of you, going down there alone . . ."

"I wasn't alone," she told him.  "I mean, Evan went with me . . ."

He blinked and finally lifted his gaze, and the relief in his expression was obvious.  "Oh . . . That was nice of him."  He chuckled, but to Valerie, it almost sounded a little fake.  "I'll have to thank him for taking such good care of you."

Why?

Why hadn't the idea of asking Marvin to go along ever even occur to her?  It hadn't, but what was more, even if Evan wasn't able to go with her, she wouldn't have thought of asking Marvin, would she . . .?

"You were busy," she heard herself say, wondering to herself if her reply sounded as weak as she thought it did.

"Yeah, but that was a big deal, right?  A huge deal, really . . ." he told her.

She bit her lip and shrugged in what she could only hope was an offhanded kind of way.  "N-No," she lied.  "Please don't feel bad."

"It's not that," he assured her with a smile.  "I'm just glad that you didn't have to go alone, though . . ." He laughed suddenly.  "Maybe I should see about sending him a fruit basket or something."

Valerie uttered a terse little laugh, too, but was sidetracked when her cell phone started to ring.  Against her better judgment, she pulled it out of her purse and glanced at the screen, but wasn't at all surprised to see Evan's number registered.  "Uh, just a moment," she said as she connected the call and turned toward the wall slightly.  "Hello?"

"Hey, V.  It seems the best anyone can do is Monday," Evan said.  "There's got to be something else we can do, isn't there?  I mean, it's just a passport."

Valerie frowned as she considered Evan's question.  She knew someone who worked in the clerk's office that might be able to help him out, but even then, it was kind of a long shot.  "Try calling the clerk's office, and ask for Jim," she said.  "He might be able to do something but no guarantees."

"Jim at the clerk's office?" Evan repeated.  "You mean, here in the city?"

"That's right . . ."

He sighed.  "That won't help.  He's not here, so . . . Ah, shit.  There's no help for it.  Guess I'll call Cain, after all . . ."

"Cain?" she echoed with a shake of her head.  "What can he do?"

"He's got some connections," Evan told her.  "I just hate like hell to ask him for a damn thing."

For some reason, his statement made her frown.  Just what kind of connections could Cain Zelig have?  At least, for something like this, anyway . . . Sure the family was wealthy, but to be able to get a passport rushed?  Unless the person who needed the passport lived in Maine, and with Evan, that certainly was a possibility.

"I'd like the roast chicken panini with the zucchini chips," Marvin ordered, keeping his voice lowered since Valerie was still on the phone.  He glanced over at Valerie, and she nodded.  "Two of those, please," he amended.  The waitress nodded and walked away again.

"Wha—?  Wait . . . Is that fucking Mudwin?" Evan suddenly demanded.

"Bye, Roka," she said in a falsely pleasant tone that was in direct contradiction to the rumbly growl in Evan's voice.  Then she hung up, ending the call before he could really get started.  "Sorry about that," she muttered.  "Thanks for ordering for me."

Marvin nodded.  "Not a problem . . . Roka, you said?  That rock-star guy?"

Valerie opened her mouth to answer when her phone rang again.  She had a feeling she knew who it was without looking, but she did, anyway.  "Not now, rocker-boy," she hissed in lieu of greeting when she connected the call.

"Is it?" he demanded again, the rumbly growl deepening into more of a hiss.

"I have to go now," she said, ignoring his question completely.  "Have a good time on your tour."

"V—"

She hung up before he could launch into a full tirade.  She didn't even get to look up at Marvin again before her phone started to ring.  This time, however, she sent it straight to voicemail.  "He's trying to hunt down someone who can help him get a passport fast."

Marvin simply smiled good-naturedly.  "It's okay, Val.  I mean, if you need to help him, then I understand."

"He's fine," she insisted, redirecting the next call to voicemail, too.  "Besides, it's good for him to hear, 'no' every once in a while."

"Are you sure about that?  I mean, you said yourself that he tends to get into trouble . . ." Marvin reminded her—as if she really needed that reminder . . . "Is the passport for him?"

"No," she replied, rubbing her forehead and wondering if she had some Tylenol in her purse.  "He needs one for the fill-in bassist, he said.  The problem is that he needs one ASAP."

"Really?" Marvin went on with a thoughtful frown.  "Kind of short notice, isn't it?"  Suddenly, he laughed.  "Then again, when you have the kind of money he's got to have, then I suppose it's no big deal."

"What's that mean?" she asked, looking up from her task of rummaging around in her purse for the aforementioned Tylenol.

Marvin didn't notice.  "You hear all the time about people with money.  They get stuff done that ordinary people can't, all because they know who to pay, I guess."

Marvin's off the cuff statement reminded Valerie that Evan was planning on doing something just like that for her father, and she bit her lip.  It bothered her; of course it did.  Guidelines for the waiting list were created to ensure that the system worked for those who truly needed it, but . . . but who were those people to judge others; to decide on their own what people deserved to be helped?  And more to the point, just what would Marvin think if she told him about that . . .?

Her phone rang for a fourth time before she could delve into it any further, and Valerie sighed.  She was beyond ready to reach out and touch someone, and not in a way that he'd probably like, so with a snort, she connected the call.

"What the hell is that little shit doing there?" Evan demanded before Valerie got a chance to say anything.

"Because he lives here," she informed him from between clenched teeth, turning away just enough so that Marvin couldn't hear her.

"Lives here, my ass," Evan complained.  "Why don't you put him on the phone for a minute?  I'll be fucking happy to remind him."

"Bye, Roka," she said, clicking off the phone once more before heaving a sigh as she slowly shook her head.

"Roka again?" Marvin asked with a thoughtful frown.  "Are you sure he doesn't need your help?"

Valerie made a face.  "There's nothing wrong with him," she insisted.  "Well, nothing that a good beating wouldn't cure," she muttered under her breath.

The phone rang again, and Valerie couldn't help the little growl that erupted deep inside her as she connected the call and smashed the device against her ear.  "For the last time, what the hell do you want, and it'd better be important, or I swear to God, I'll—"

"I-Is this a bad time, Valerie?"

Valerie's tirade died as quickly as it had begun, and she stifled a groan as she managed a sheepish little smile.  "Uh, n-no, it's fine, Mom."

Rhonda gave a nervous kind of laugh.  "You're sure?  You sounded pretty upset . . ."

"No, it's fine," she assured her.  "How are things down there?  Is everything all right?"

"Everything's fine.  Better than fine, actually.  Your father's been working on a couple songs, did you know?  Evan says he's very talented."

"He is," Valerie agreed, though at the moment, agreeing with anything that Evan had to say wasn't high on her list of things she wanted to do.  Then she sighed.  Of course he wasn't going to be happy with Marvin's sudden arrival.  If she stopped to think about it, it wasn't really surprising, after all.  Still . . .

"Anyway, I was just calling to tell you that Kaci Lea's got the lead in the spring play, and, well, she said it wasn't a big deal, but I kind of thought it was.  If you can't make it, then that's fine."

"When's the show?" Valerie asked, brushing off her mother's obvious reluctance.  While she wasn't entirely sure whether or not Kaci Lea really would be happy if she showed up, but she'd never make any progress with the girl if she didn't try.

"Well, it isn't until the beginning of May.  I was just so excited when she told me . . ."

Valerie smiled.  "I didn't know she was interested in the theater," she admitted.  "I mean, I've seen her blog and stuff, but she hadn't really mentioned anything about it.

Rhonda sighed.  "The guidance counselor at the school—Mrs. Fuller—she said that Kaci Lea would have a better shot at some of the bigger scholarships later on if she had a more well-rounded curriculum, so she joined the drama club, and she mentioned playing softball over the summer, too . . ."

"Good, and she's right," Valerie agreed.  "I'll be sure to plan on it.  Just let me know the dates."

Rhonda smiled.  Valerie could hear it in her mother's tone.  "Oh, I will!"  Then she sighed.  "You sound pretty busy, so I'll let you go now."

"Okay.  Give Daddy a kiss for me."

She hung up and dropped the phone into her purse just as the waitress set a plate before her.

"Your mother?" Marvin asked as he picked up his sandwich.

"Yeah," she replied.

Marvin smiled at her.  "Good," he told her, his smile growing a little bashful.  "I'm really happy for you.  Being estranged from your family is hard."

Valerie smiled, too.  "I'm happy, too," she told him, reaching for the glass of iced tea.  "I am, too . . ."


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A/N:
'A Beautiful Lie' by 30 Seconds to Mars originally appeared on the 2005 release, A Beautiful Lie.  Copyrighted to Jared Leto.
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Reviewers
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ecqsmail (Sorry, I didn't see your review for the last chapter until after I'd already posted it!) ------RubyJewel ------ Sovereignty ------ Dark Inu Fan
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Just what is that man up to …?
==========
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 169
Chapter 171
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