InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Evan's Bassist ( Chapter 174 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter One Hundred Seventy-Four~~
~Evan's Bassist~


'I'm your average ordinary everyday kid ...
'Happy to do nothin', in fact, that's what I did
'I got a million ways to make my day, but Daddy don't agree
'Cuz when I try to get away, he says he got plans for me ...'

-'Let's Get Rocked' by Def Leppard.


"One, two, three, four, five . . . One, two, three, four, five . . ."

"Give me a note, Roka," Daelyn Flug said over the intercom.  In the distance, Evan could hear the cheering in the East Arena where the morning's concerts were being held.  The West Arena was still silent, but that probably wouldn't last long.  Crawdad was scheduled to play in there later on.  In fact, that was one of the shows that Evan had been thinking about sneaking into . . .

Since he was headlining, though, they were the only ones setting up in the main arena.  The main arena was only used for the headlining act during the festival since it was the only concert going on during the time slot, so once set, his equipment wouldn't need to be redone later.  For the last few years, the sheer number of bands that wanted to participate in the festival had increased so much that it was necessary to double book time-slots, and since everyone's management tended to try to vie for the main arena that was easily twice as large as the branch ones, it had been decided that only the headliner would actually get to use it.

For the last few years, Evan had gotten snubbed by Franco Tellingier, mostly because he'd told the uppity Frenchman to get the dick out of his ass and grow the hell up during a discussion about some missing gear that had been seen in the holding area, only to disappear hours later when his guys went in to set the movable stage.  This year, however, Tellingier hadn't had a choice.  Evan was just too damn big a draw to stick him in one of the alternate arenas.  Of course, when good ol' Franco had met him at the hotel yesterday, he'd been as nice as he could possibly be—too nice, actually, greasy little bastard that he was.

Still, Evan had made nice to him, just the same.  After all, Global Fray was, in Evan's estimation, the second best rock festival in the world, the first being Rocktoberfest, of course.

Strumming a note on the guitar, Evan waited.

"Okay, another one, please."

He hit the chord again.

"Nice.  Now give me a level."

Evan did, spotting Valerie where she stood near the middle of the arena.  She'd gone up to the hotel room to change clothes, and he couldn't help the grin on his face when he realized that she'd actually donned a cute little pink tank top with a slightly darker 'V' emblazoned on it, and even if the 'V' stood for Veradina, one of the hottest fashion designers out there, he had to wonder if she had bought the shirt with something entirely different in mind.  Oversized smoky glasses, her hair falling over half of her face in a mysterious kind of way, the relaxed fit, low riding jeans she wore were appropriately rumpled and hugged those incredible legs of hers in all the right places, allowing her the overall look of the quintessential rock n' roll girlfriend.

"The left spotlight is off," Kink McCray hollered.  "Hey!  Duyer!  Get your skinny ass up there and give it a pop to the right about ten degrees!"

"Uh, okay!" Garret replied, setting aside the palmcam he'd bought in London and striding over to climb the metal chain ladder that was affixed to the rigging.

"Garret!  Oh, my God!"

Evan blinked as Valerie heaved herself onto the stage and stomped over to him, arms crossed over her chest as she frowned at him.  "What is he doing up there?" she demanded.

"Aw, relax, baby.  He's got it covered.  He's part of the lighting crew."

She didn't look impressed.  "He's part of the—?  No!  Absolutely not!  Roka, I swear to God, if he—"

"Take it easy, V," Evan chided with a grin.  "He's hooked up."

She snorted.  "Hooked up?  What the hell does that mean?  Do you know how dangerous that is?  Those things aren't meant to be walked on, and—"

He clucked his tongue and shook his head.  "He's harnessed," Evan told her simply.  "Even if he falls, the harness would catch him.

She snorted again, but lifted her hand to shield the sun from her eyes as she turned her gaze upward.  "All right," she allowed, finally noticing that Garret was, indeed, wearing a safety harness.  From his vantage point, Evan could see her eyes moving slowly as they traced the thin cable straight up to the solid iron lattice frame that stood a good six and a half feet over the actual rigging.  She had to have seen that before when she was with him on his mini-tour, but she hadn't stopped to consider exactly what that frame was for.  It was the security frame that was built and tested to withstand the weight of fifty full grown men, should someone slip off the lighting rigging or, in worst case, should the lighting rigging collapse.  There were never fifty guys up there—usually only three, at most—so it was safe enough—almost as safe as being on the ground.

Each of the cables retracted into an enclosed spindle, and Evan had been told that the cables were purposefully fashioned stop about seven feet above the stage so that it was technically impossible to actually hit bottom.  During shows, there was always at least one, though usually more like two or three, guys up there, constantly adjusting the lights and keeping an eye on things.  Once during a show in Baltimore, an electrical surge during a lightning storm had made one of the spots to throw sparks and catch fire.  Had it not been for the guys up there, the whole thing would've been a lot more serious than it turned out to be.  The audience had no idea what was going on.  The only people who saw anything were the members of the band.

"He could still slip," Valerie muttered, not quite ready to give up the fight.

Evan gave her a quick squeeze despite the way she shoved against him, but it was more like token resistance than an actual attempt to push him away.  "You're acting more like his mama than you ought to," he pointed out.

That comment earned him a scowl, and she gave him another good shove then stomped over to the bottom of the chain ladder.  "Garret, get back down here!" she called, much to the amusement of the rest of the crew, who all started sniggering and whispering behind her.  "Right now!"

"Almost got it," he told her.  "Just a minute, okay?"

Kink loped over to Evan with a no-nonsense scowl on his face as he frowned at Valerie, who looked like she was considering going up after her brother.  "What the hell is she doing?" he demanded without preamble.

Evan chuckled.  "He's her brother.  I mean, can't you tell?"

Kink snorted.  "Yeah?  Well, right now, he's not.  Right now, he's part of my crew, goddamn it."

He started to stomp away, apparently deciding that telling Valerie a thing or two would be a good idea.  Evan made a face and caught the tech's arm.  "I wouldn't do that if I were you," he warned lightly.

Reaching up to scrub at his ratted mop of yellow hair, the old guy popped a wad of chewing gum into his mouth.  He'd been trying to quit smoking for a while now, but it wasn't going well.  Instead of quitting, he'd picked up a gum-habit, too . . . "She ain't crew.  She can get off the fucking stage."

"I really wouldn't tell her that," Evan added with a shake of his head.

Kink rolled his eyes and shook his head.  "Jesus God," he grouched, altering his path as he pushed the button on his headset.  "Farley, when the kid gets that light set, tell 'em to get his fucking pussy-ass down before his damn sister has a fucking baby."

Evan chuckled.

"Okay, thanks, Garret," Farley, the assistant lighting tech, yelled.  "Come on down."

Garret nodded and carefully made his way back over to the ladder.  He handled himself well, considering he'd only been up on the rigging a few times, Evan mused as he swung himself onto the ladder in much the same way as he'd seen the other lighting guys do before.

Valerie still didn't look appeased.  If anything, she looked just a touch more concerned as she watched her brother climb down.  When he reached the end of his tether, he unhooked the cable from the harness and latched it onto the ladder chain before dropping the rest of the way onto the stage and landing in a crouch.

"It's all good, V," he said with a grin as he straightened up.

She was having none of that.  "You know, I'm pretty sure that Mom and Dad didn't give you permission to do stuff like that," she pointed out.

Garret's grin widened.  "I told Dad about it on the phone.  Said it sounded cool as fuck."

Valerie's mouth dropped open for a long moment before she snapped it shut and pivoted on her heel to stomp away from him.  "Whatever," she grumbled, looking entirely exasperated.  "Not a whit of common sense . . ."

"Can we get back to the damn sound check, ladies?" Daelyn complained as Valerie scooted off the stage to stand beside Bone once more, completely nonplussed by Valerie's unceremonious interruption.  She still didn't look happy, and Evan figured he'd hear about it later.

Evan grabbed his crotch and shook it in the general direction of the sound booth.

"Play something," he said, ignoring Evan's unspoken opinion.

"Yeah, yeah, all ri . . ." Cutting himself off as he narrowed his eyes, he slowly shook his head.  "Where the hell is Ordin?"

Tay shifted his gaze around as he continued to swig a bottle of water.  "Damn, I dunno . . . He knew about sound-check, right?"

Tamping down the few choice words that shot to the fore, Evan strode over to the side of the stage.  "Mike!  Mikey!"

"Take it easy, Roka," Mike said, covering his cell with one hand as he shot Evan a quelling kind of look.  "I already sent someone up to his room.  Maybe he fell asleep or something.  Just go on without him.  It's not like the first time you've had to do sound-check without your bassist."

It was on the tip of Evan's tongue to tell Mike exactly what he thought of that, but he rolled his eyes and stomped back onto the stage instead.  As much as he hated to admit it, there was a measure of truth in what Mike had said.  How many times during the worst of it had Dieter passed out during sound-check . . .? Evan had just laughed it off back then.  Doing that now would be a better choice than throwing a hissy fit, he supposed.  After all, Ordin filled in during the Germany gig, and everything had gone smoothly then, so it wasn't nearly as alarming as it would have been had they never worked together before.  Mike was right.  They might as well get on with it and get a few rehearsal songs in, just to make sure that the instruments were tuned and ready to go.

"Here," he said, swiping up the bass as he strode toward Garret.  "Fill in for Ordin, will you?"

Garret blinked but hesitantly took the bass.  "B-B-But—"

Evan shot him a grin over his shoulder.  "But, what?  You said before, you know the songs, right?  Besides, it's just sound-check."

Garret glanced around a little self-consciously.  "Y-Y-Yeah, I know, but . . ."

"Show 'em what you've got, kid," Evan prompted with a wink.  "It's okay with you guys, right?"

It took a moment for the kid to comply.  Glancing around with a scared shitless expression on his face, he must've gotten the go-ahead from the rest of the guys, because he finally gave a little nod and carefully slug the bass over his shoulder.  "Wh . . . What song?" he asked breathlessly.

"What one you wanna do?" Evan countered.

Garret didn't expect Evan to let him choose, and when he did, it took him a moment to consider it.  "How about, 'She's Gone Down'?"

Evan nodded slowly and clapped Garret on the shoulder.  "Hey, guys.  'She's Gone Down', all right?" he called.

Frankie and Tay nodded, and he could see the questions just below the surface, but neither one of them said anything as Garret hurried over to the vacant bassist spot on the stage.

It only took Garret about ten seconds to get over his initial reluctance, and Evan grinned as Frankie counted off the song.  He launched into the bass strong, and, while he didn't reproduce Dieter's particular sound, what he did have was a very distinctive groove of his own.  The lines were fundamentally sound, but the way he played them . . . Well, maybe it did sound the same to someone with an untrained ear, but Evan could feel it, and, more curiously, as the song moved on, he could feel the energy from both Tay as well as Frankie rising, too.

"Hold up, guys," Mike said, jogging out onto the stage in the middle of the song.  He didn't look entirely happy—not surprising, considering who it was.  When the song cut off abruptly, Evan made a face at the unintentional sour note that filled the arena before finally fading out.

"What's up?" he asked, turning to face Mike with his hands on his hips and a raised eyebrow at the impromptu interruption.

Mike slipped the tablet from one hand to the other and rubbed his face wearily.  "Ordin's out," he blurted.  "Got into some kind of brawl with Mysti Gregg.  Broke the middle finger on his left hand."

"What?" Evan growled, eyeing the manager like he thought that maybe he was pulling his leg.  "Gregg? That guy from that band?  Corpusina?"

Mike nodded.  "Yeah, that's him.  Ordin's girl said something about Gregg grabbing her ass.  Anyway, that's piss-irrelevant now.  I've got some people looking into the schedule to see who's playing and when.  Maybe we can have someone fill in for the other shows, but the one tonight . . ."

Evan nodded, understanding exactly what Mike was talking about.  If it was just a club gig or something, then it wouldn't be a big deal to ask around, but at a festival this size when bands played at odd hours and in different arenas, finding someone who wasn't going to be booked at some point was going to be damn near impossible.  Add to that the difficulties in drawing up a contract before the show tonight, and, well, it was the main problem.  "Fu-u-u-uck," he sighed.

"What's up?" Tay asked.

Evan shook his head and turned away from Mike, irritated in the extreme despite the small part of him that whispered that he'd have done the same damn thing if anyone had dared to touch Valerie.

"Ordin broke his finger," Mike replied, this time, loudly enough for everyone to hear him.

"Aw, shit," Frankie muttered.  "What are we going to do then?"

Tay snorted and shook his head.  "All right, so we just find someone else to fill in.  No big deal, right?"

Mike heaved a sigh at Tay's logic, likely because it kind of was a big deal.  After all, the business side of things never was as cut and dried as anyone might have liked.  Even if they could find someone to step in at the last minute, haggling over appearance fees, stage presence, and all the bullshit that went along with it was always a potential headache.  "It's not that simple, Tay," he grumbled.  His cell phone rang, and he turned away to answer it.

Tay loped over to Evan.  "Can't find anyone?"

Letting out a deep breath, Evan raked his hair off of his forehead, burying his hand in the top of his hair.  "I don't know.  He's trying."

Tay nodded slowly, eyes narrowing as he shifted his gaze over the stage.  "Well . . . Why?"

Evan blinked and scowled at the rhythm guitarist.  "What do you mean, why?" he countered.

Tay shrugged then jerked his head toward the other side of the stage.  "I mean, why are we looking when that kid's got the chops?"

Following the direction of Tay's gaze, his eyes lit on Garret, who was fingering bass chords as though he were playing air guitar along to a song that only he could hear.  Head bent down so that his hair was falling over his face, he seemed completely oblivious to everything going on around him, and Evan slowly shook his head.  "I don't know, man," he said at length.  There wasn't a doubt in his mind that Garret could do it, but it was a whole other animal when one factored in a screaming crowd of thousands.  The maximum capacity of the main arena was about a hundred thousand, and as far as he knew, the show had been sold out since shortly after the tickets had gone on sale.  Sure, Garret had said he'd done a few gigs with his band back home, but whatever he'd done had to be a far cry from this.  "He's good, sure, but he's never played in front of this kind of number."

"So what are we gonna do?" Frankie asked as he strode over to join them.

"Seems to me that he's made of stronger stuff than that," Tay went on, ignoring Frankie's question.

Evan frowned.  Maybe Garret was, but that didn't mean he wouldn't freeze up when he saw the reality of it, either.  It was one thing to perform in front of smaller crowds that grew into larger ones the more successful one became.  It was entirely different to consider tossing someone like Garret into the thick of it, especially when Garret wasn't really prepped for it, either.  If he choked, even for a moment . . .

"Who?  Garret?" Frankie added, tapping his drum sticks against his thigh.

"If he chokes, it could ruin him," Evan reminded them.  "This isn't like playing at a high school dance."

Frankie scratched his chin, staring thoughtfully at the boy in question.  "But if he doesn't . . ."

"Damned if he don't remind me a little of Dieter," Tay remarked in a tone that made Evan wonder whether he even realized that he'd spoken out loud or not.

That was the thing, wasn't it?  Maybe it was something that Evan had sensed before, too—something that he was drawn to.  Oh, no, he didn't delude himself into trying to believe that Garret was anything like Dieter, not really.  Quirky, sure, but Dieter was a lot darker than Garret.  Vastly different personalities, but there was something about both of them—an inner artist that Evan related to . . .

There wasn't a doubt in Evan's mind that the kid would be huge one day.  That wasn't the issue.  No, the real problem was that Garret was about as unprepared for that kind of exposure as he could possibly be.  One false step with him could impact him for years to come.  In worst case, if Garret froze up, it could be hard for him to get over.  The press would rip him to shreds, and that kind of thing was ugly as hell, and, while Evan liked to think that Garret was made of stronger stuff than that, the truth of it was that he didn't really know.  No one ever did until they were forced to deal with something, did they?

As if the two could read his mind, Tay heaved a sigh and clapped Evan on the shoulder, giving him a hearty shake.  "Or he could do just fine," he said, a broad grin surfacing on his face.

"That kid looks like he's got it," Frankie added just as thoughtfully.

"No luck yet," Mike said as he approached the group.  "They're still asking around though."  He sounded far more upbeat than he looked.

Evan didn't glance at his manager.  "Mike, you think he could do it?" he asked quietly.

Mike shot Evan a cursory look, then shifted his eyes to Garret, and he didn't answer right away as he considered Evan's question.  He understood what Evan was asking.  It had nothing at all to do with Garret's abilities.  "It's a damn big risk," he ventured at last.

"Yeah," Evan allowed with a sigh.  "Yeah . . ."

"But," Mike went on, still staring at Garret, "I kind of wonder . . ."

"What if he chokes?"

Mike considered that then gave a little shrug.  "What if he does?  Doesn't everyone choke at least once?  Besides, it's not like he'd be out there in the front, right?  You will be, and you can keep an eye on him."

Evan considered that for a moment before cracking a rather cocky grin.  "Well, there is that," he allowed.  "Call around, can you?  The kid needs his own bass for the show—and probably some clothes, too."

"Not a problem.  I'll give Jack a call, too," Mike said.

"Evan, wait," Valerie said, grabbing his arm before he could do anything else.  He hadn't even heard her scramble back onto the stage.  "He's too young," she insisted.  "He can't—"

"V," Evan interrupted, inclining his head to the side as he lowered his voice so that only she could hear him, "you trust me, don't you?"

Eyebrows drawn together in a marked frown, Valerie stared at him long and hard before slowly, slowly nodding.  "Of course I do, but—"

He smiled tenderly and gave her a quick squeeze.  "I wouldn't do a thing to hurt your brother; I swear it.  Do you believe that?"

"Yes," she hesitated but said quietly.  "I know that.  It's just . . ."

Reaching out, rubbing her cheek with his knuckles, Evan's smile took on a gentle lilt.  "Let's just see how he does tonight.  Then we'll figure it out from there."

She heaved a sigh, those brilliant eyes of hers so solemn, so probing.  Finally, though, she jerked her head once and let go of his arm.  "All . . . All right . . ."

He shot her another grin designed to reassure her.  Then he started forward.  "Hey, Garret!"

Garret stopped and looked up a little guiltily as he pulled the bass over his head and carefully set it back in the stand.  "Uh, yeah?"

"So how do you feel about the idea of filling in on bass for me?"

"Oh, it was damn cool," Garret said with a shy little smile.  "Man, I can't believe I got to play onstage with you, even if it was just sound-check!"

Evan chuckled and cleared his throat.  "No, what I mean is, you think you can do that tonight?"

"T-T-Tonight . . .?" Garret managed to sort of squeak out, his voice breaking slightly, attesting to the idea that he was still only sixteen years old.

"Yeah, tonight," Evan reiterated.

"W . . . I . . .Y-You . . . You think I can . . .?" he asked, glancing around from Evan to Tay and Frankie then back again.

Evan chuckled.  "Yeah, but let's run through the set list, just to make sure."

Only then did Garret break into a wide grin, and he laughed.  "O-O-Okay," he stammered, cheeks pinking as the idea started to sink in.  "I won't let you down!"

"I know," Evan told him.  "So let's do this."

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This chapter is dedicated to theablackthorn, RubyJewel, cutechick18, reina q, and sydniepaige.  You were the only ones who commented on the last chapter, and your comments really cheered me up.

'Let's Get Rocked' by Def Leppard originally appeared on the 1992 release, Adrenalize.  Copyrighted to Joe Elliot, Phil Collen, Rick Savage, and Robert John "Mutt" Lange.
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Thought from Valerie:
Just one showright …?
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.