InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Demons ( Chapter 175 )

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

-< i>OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'You're the only hell your mama ever raised ...
'She tried to tell you, but you gotta do things your own way
'Says you're a good boy and that you must be goin' through some phase
'You're the only hell your mama ever, your mama ever raised ...'

-'You're the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised' by Warrant.


Valerie sighed as she stepped into the lobby, disoriented for a moment by the relative silence, a far cry from the bedlam of the concert arena and the frenetic trip between the venue and the hotel.  Bone had brought her back seconds before rushing outside to deal with security since he'd gotten a call from the contingent traveling with Evan, informing him that the errant rockstar wanted to hang out with the kids gathered outside for a little while.  She was a little alarmed by the idea, but Bone seemed to think that it was safe enough.  Evan just wanted take his time, walking up the long path to the hotel so that he could stop and chat with his fans.  They were all pushed back by the blockades that had been in place since their arrival, and the security detail was tight enough to keep them at bay.  On the one hand, it really was sweet of him to take time out for fans that weren't able to see him live.  On the other hand, however, even Bone's reassurances were not easy for her to take at face value.

"Did you see it, V?  You did, right?  I was all right, wasn't I?"

Valerie started and glanced up at Garret as he slung an arm around her shoulders despite the waves of nervous energy that radiated off of him.  She'd felt the same kind of thing before when Evan had come offstage.  It must be something about the adrenaline rush, she supposed, and she smiled, albeit wanly, unable to completely mask the hint of worry in the depths of her gaze.  "Are you kidding?  Of course I did," she told him.

"I-I think I did okay," he went on, looking a little anxious.  "I mean, Zel said I did, and the guys said that the groove was there and all that . . . Th-They wouldn't lie about that, you know?"  Then he grimaced.  "I messed up a couple times," he admitted.  "Nerves, I guess . . ."

She couldn't stop herself from smiling at the anxiety in his tone.  "The show was excellent," Valerie assured him, "and you were fantastic."

He laughed and opened his mouth to say something, but suddenly, he jammed his index finger under Valerie's nose, and she leaned back in surprise.  "Oh!  I swore I'd call Dad!  I'll catch you later, V!"

"Uh, Garret, wait!" Valerie called.  She heaved a sigh when he waved over his shoulder and dashed off toward the stairs.  For a split second, she started to go after him, but she stopped just as quickly.  Concerned, sure, but, remembering the look on Garret's face as the lights came up while he stood on that stage with the man who had been his idol for years, she somehow felt like the proverbial evil sister from fairy tales.

Letting out a deep breath, she turned, instead, wandering off toward the hotel bar.  Maybe what she really needed was a glass of wine and a little relative quiet to think.

The place wasn't as busy as she thought it might be, and the darkened, hazy atmosphere of the place suited Valerie's mood just fine.  Near the highly polished bar stood a baby grand piano, and the tuxedo-wearing man sitting behind it was doing his best to play soft, unobtrusive music.

"Hi, what can I get for you tonight?"

Valerie pasted on a smile for the waiter that felt entirely wooden.  "Just a glass of white wine, please," she said.

"Anything in particular?"

She shook her head.  "Something on the mellow side."

"Mellow.  Got it."  He smiled at her and gave a quick nod before hurrying away toward the bar.

It was too much.

Wasn't it enough that Evan had dragged Garret halfway around the world?  Put him to work on his crew, all to give Garret a little extra spending money—that's what Evan had told her while he got ready for his show.  After all, how many of his friends would have a story like that when they went back to school, right?  When she'd seen Garret, climbing around on the light rig, she'd thought for sure that she was going to have a heart attack.  Maybe everyone else thought that she was being ridiculously overprotective, but . . .

But the real trouble had started when Evan had invited Garret to stand in for the missing replacement bassist.  It took Garret all of ten seconds to shake off the jitters brought on by the idea of being onstage and playing with one of the most famous men in the world.  There he was—her baby brother—decked out in a pair of skin tight black leather pants and a black tour shirt that had been cut around the neck and the sleeves removed.  She wasn't sure where he'd gotten the pants on such short notice, but it shouldn't have surprised her.  After all, if Zel Roka wanted something, the entire world seemed to clamor to provide whatever it was.

He'd done a good job of it, given that he'd barely had time to practice with the band.  Yes, they'd managed to do a run-through of the set list during sound-check, but that was hardly enough time to iron out anything that might be a problem later on.  Luckily, Garret hadn't actually had too much trouble—undoubtedly thanks to his having memorized all those songs, and the rough spots had been few and far between.   Unfortunately, Evan's set had started early enough that there was still some daylight in the open-air arena, enough so that Garret could see the massive crowd, and even if he couldn't see them, he could feel them, right?  Evan had said as much before, hadn't he?  Still, Garret had handled himself much better than Valerie had expected.  Of course, much of the time, he'd kept his head down, concentrating on the bass guitar, and that might have had a lot to do with it.

The late afternoon sunshine, weak and thready, spilled over Garret as he strode out onto that stage.  About the moment that he had appeared, a strange kind of half-buzz seemed to erupt from the crowd.  They had no idea who he was or what he was doing up there.  He glanced out at the audience one time, only to falter in his step.  Tay grasped his shoulder, leaned in to say something to him.  Garret nodded and started moving again.  Turning away from the crowd as he pulled the bass strap over his head, he took his time, hammering out a couple notes as he got his bearings.

He slowly pivoted on his heel, chin lowered as though he were concentrating on the instrument, and maybe he was.  The torn up tee-shirt and leather pants, the black leather combat boots that looked almost comically large on his feet at the bottom of his spindly legs . . . He already had the rockstar look down, and maybe the crowd couldn't feel the nerves that had to be running rampant through him, but she could.  It was his dream; she knew that.  It didn't make it any easier for her to remember to breathe . . .

The speculation seemed to erupt in a dulled rumble, running through the arena.  It was a viable thing, and even as Evan stepped onto the stage, even as the crowd seemed to come alive with the catcalls and whistles, as thousands of voices merged into one insane roar, the questions only seemed to grow larger, to loom higher . . .

Still, from her vantage point up in one of the sky boxes, she'd heard a couple of the reporters who were covering the show talking, asking one another if they had any idea who 'the kid' on bass was.  Valerie had remained silent.  Ordinarily, there was no press allowed in the box that she was in, but the festival was so big this year that allowances had to be made, or so she'd been told.  It was all right, in her estimation.  The reporters didn't seem to think much of her—at least, they hadn't approached her to ask any questions.  Maybe they'd been warned not to do so; Valerie didn't know.

'One show,' she reminded herself, smiling absently at the waiter as he slipped a glass of wine onto the table but said nothing as he nodded at her.  'One show, and now it'll all be okay . . .'

Biting her lip, Valerie slowly shook her head.  Was it okay?  Was it, really?  One show?  Why did she have the feeling that there was more to it than that?  There had been an intangible sort of quality on that stage.  Even she had felt it.  There was a level of comfort that had been missing from Evan's shows of late.  There had been countless articles written about that very thing.  Evan was comfortable with Garret's presence.  It was the same kind of camaraderie that she'd felt when Evan and Dieter had shared the stage, too.

Maybe it was stupid of her to be so worried about it all, but damned if she could help it.  She'd seen enough to know that the music business wasn't pretty, and even if it was ultimately what Garret wanted, she couldn't forget the fact that he was still only sixteen.  There were still so many things that he had yet to learn, that he had yet to discover, and the mayhem of a rockstar's life could be so brutal.  There was a whole side of it that Garret didn't know about, and maybe he hadn't stopped to think about it, never mind the idea that he really did need to finish high school, too.  If she had her way about it, he'd go to college, as well, just like Evan had, but it wasn't really her call—unfortunately.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie sipped the wine and blinked when her cell phone buzzed against her hip.  She'd forgotten that she'd put it in her pocket before leaving for the venue.  She hadn't taken much with her other than some money, just in case, and she shifted her weight to the side so she could fish out her phone.  It was Jack.  "Hello?"

"Hey, Tigger.  How's Europe?" he asked.  Maybe it was her imagination, but he sounded a little tired.

"It's fine, Daddy," she replied, setting the glass down and leaning back in the booth.  "Everything okay there?"

"Yeah, it's good," he told her.  "Garret said he did all right.  That so?"

"He did a great job," Valerie assured him.

"That's good," Jack mused.  "That's pretty awesome."

She drew a deep breath and bit her lip for a moment.  "Daddy . . . Do you really think it's okay?" she finally asked, careful to keep her tone neutral.  "It's a big deal—a huge deal . . . Do you really think he can handle all of this?"

"Well, I doubt that anyone is ever really ready for anything, are they?" Jack replied.  "Don't worry.  Roka's looking out for him, right?"

Rubbing her forehead, she grimaced.  "And you barely know him.  Why on earth did you trust him with Garret so easily?" she couldn't help but ask.  To be honest, that question had been running through her head ever since she'd found out that Garret was here with Evan, to start with.

"Well, you trust him, don't you?"

"Uh, yeah, yeah . . . Of course I do," she said, her frown taking on a confused sort of tilt.

Jack chuckled.  "If you do, then I do," he replied as though it was the simplest thing in the world.

Valerie sighed.  "You trust him because I do . . ." she mused.

"He's smart, that one.  Garret'll learn a lot from him."

"Maybe," she said with a grimace.  "Probably stuff he doesn't need to know."

"Anyway, he's been around.  He can show Garret a thing or two, and he promised that he'd watch out for him."

Valerie sighed again.  "So am I, but that's not what I mean . . . I love that he's going to record your song, but can't it wait?  Can't all of this wait until after he's at least finished high school?"

"Don't worry about that," he told her.  "I already told him that he's still gonna finish school."

Valerie paused for a moment, mildly surprised that he would have told Garret that.  "You did?"

"Sure, I did," Jack went on.  "Anyway, your mama insisted, and I agree.  Besides, I know you mean well by your brother, but he's your mama and my responsibility."

Jack's reassurance helped a little.  At least her parents weren't so star-struck that they'd lost sight of the things that should be most important.  She ought to have realized that sooner, and she shifted just a little guiltily.  "I wasn't trying to imply that you didn't know what's best for him," she said quietly.

"I know," Jack said.  "It's all right.  It's in your brother's blood.  Ever since he was a little shit, he's carried around guitars and wanted to be a rockstar.  I took him with me a few times when I did little gigs around town.  He loved every minute of it, and he'd just sit back and drink it all in.  It's all he's ever wanted."

Valerie rubbed her forehead and sipped the wine again.  "He's just so young," she mused.

Jack chuckled.  "Can't plan for this kind of thing, Valene.  It only comes around once, if it comes around at all, and if you don't take that chance when it does, you spend the rest of your life wondering."

He spoke from experience, she knew.  That didn't make her feel any better about it.

"But that's not really why I called," Jack said, cutting though the thoughtful silence.

Something about his tone of voice . . . "Daddy, you said everything's fine there, right?" she couldn't help asking.

He sighed.  "It is," he said slowly.  "So, I . . . I got a call yesterday."

She wasn't sure what he trying to get around to saying, but she went along with it.  "Oh?"

"Mmm . . . said that I'd been added to the national waiting list.  Said that they'd re-reviewed my case and that I qualified, after all.  Put me up pretty high, they said."

"You . . . You don't sound very happy about it," Valerie ventured, pressing her hand against her chest to quell the fluttering that had taken hold the moment he'd mentioned the waiting list.  In all honesty, she hadn't realized that Evan had already called around.  She should've known that he would.  Evan cared too much, didn't he?  Whatever he could do . . .

He sighed again.  "It was that boyfriend of yours, wasn't it?" he asked, point-blank.  "How much did he have to pay them to get me on that list?"

She sighed, too.  Her father wasn't a fool.  She'd been stupid to think that he wouldn't have figured it out.  "Daddy—"

"I told them to remove me."

It was as though time stopped.  Valerie could feel her chest constrict painfully as she forgot to breathe.  An irrational surge of panic shot through her, the implications of what he'd said closing in fast.  "Why?" she whispered, clutching the phone so tightly that her fingertips turned white.  "You need the transplant!  Why would you—?"

"Valene, it's okay," he interrupted gruffly.  "I made my peace with it a long time ago."


"No 'buts'," he told her firmly.  Then he sighed—a long, tired sort of sigh.  Did he sense her unhappiness at his decision?  Maybe he did, because his next words were softer, gentler.  "You know what I see when I go in for dialysis?"

She didn't answer.  Struggling to breathe in such a way that he wouldn't hear the hitch that choked her, she wiped a tear off her cheek and tried not to sniffle.

"Sometimes there's a little girl in there," he went on when she didn't respond.  "Can't be more 'n five or six . . . Just sits in the waiting room while her mama goes back to get her treatment.  She sits there and draws these pictures: her mama and her.  She said that she don't know where her daddy is.  She ain't got no family—no grandma or grandpa or anything . . . and for every one of her, I've seen others, too.  If I took that place on the list, where do you suppose her mama would end up?  Or the boy I met last week?  Born with bad kidneys . . . He's been in and out of hospitals for it all his life."  He let out a deep breath, gave a rattling cough.  "I made my choices, little girl, and even if I wanted to live, I can't do it at the expense of the ones who never did nothing wrong but were born on the short side of it."

Valerie opened her mouth to argue with him, to tell him that he was wrong.  The words wouldn't come, though, and the worst of it was the feeling of being absolutely helpless, the inability to do a damn thing.

Jack sighed.  "Anyway, you tell that boyfriend of yours, thanks, but no thanks.  I appreciate that he wanted to help, but he needs to keep his money and not waste it on someone like me."

"Daddy . . ."

"Anyway, your mama's home now, so I'll let you go.  Have yourself some fun over there, and stop worrying about everyone else, you hear me?"

Valerie managed a weak smile that she was far from feeling.  "Okay," she agreed.  "But I'm going to talk to Mike and see what he has to say about Garret's contracts."

"Yeah, that'll be fine," Jack allowed.  "I'll sign 'em after you do."

Valerie sighed, a sound designed to let her father know that she wasn't exactly pleased with this idea, but he was right: Garret really was his responsibility, not hers—even if she didn't like to hear that.

"Here you are!  I've been all over this place, looking for you," Evan remarked as he set another glass of wine down and slipped into the booth across from her.  Showered, changed, and looking a little unsettling to her, given that he was currently sporting muddy brown hair and brown contact lenses, she had to stare at him for a moment to acquaint herself with his current look.

"Thanks," she said, nodding at the fresh glass.  "How'd you know what I was drinking?"

He tipped the bottle of beer to his lips before answering.  "I asked," he said simply.  "So why you hanging out in here?  I figured you'd be up in the room or something."

She didn't even try to smile as a group of girls approached the table.

"Hey, Zel.  Can I get your autograph?" the one in the front asked in a sticky-syrupy tone as she leaned over to plant her hands on the table, effectively giving the man a very blatant view right down the low cut tank top she wore.

He grinned and grabbed a napkin off the table.  "Got a pen, honey?"

She giggled prettily and made an overly dramatic show of pulling one out from between her breasts.  "Amazing, right?"

"Absolutely," he agreed, taking the pen and uncapping it.  "What's your name?"

"My friends call me V," she replied with a wink.

"Is that right?" he drawled, looking entirely too amused about something.  Valerie reigned in the urge to kick him soundly in the shin.

The imposter giggled again, and when she did, her breasts shook, too—entirely obvious, given that they were pretty well shoved, right in Evan's face . . . "They say that I'm just like the one from your record," she whispered breathily—Valerie still heard her—and rolled her eyes.

To his credit, Evan didn't even bat an eyelash though he did cast Valerie a quick glance.  She narrowed her eyes, but remained silent as he quickly scrawled his signature onto the napkin and handed it to the girl along with the pen.  "There you go," he said.

The girl gave a delighted little squeal and threw her arms around Evan's neck, smashing her breasts against him as she planted an obnoxiously loud kiss on his lips.  "You're so hot," she babbled.  "My friends and I just love you!"  Then she finally shot a quick glance at Valerie, but dismissed her just as fast.  "You like to party, right?" she said, turning her back on Valerie and addressing Evan alone as she dragged her talon-like fingernails up and down his chest.  "We've got some . . . favors up in our room . . . if you're interested . . ."

"Ah, I'm sorry," Evan replied, looking a little more contrite than he ought to have, all things considered, "but I've got a few interviews and shit lined up tonight."

The girls made no bones about being highly disappointed, but when they finally walked away, Valerie snorted loudly and downed the rest of the first glass of wine.  "Shouldn't you go find your interviewer?" she asked pointedly.

Evan chuckled.  "That was a lie," he replied off-handedly.

Valerie stared at him for a long moment before rolling her eyes.  "I don't know whether I should be impressed or horrified that you can lie without even batting an eye."

His chuckle escalated into a very warm laugh.  "I prefer to think of it as being politically correct."

"I guess you would," she shot back.  "Politics and lying go hand in hand, don't they?"

He gave her an unrepentant grin.  "Wouldn't know, baby.  I'm not really a politician."

She wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily; not by a long shot.  "They call her V, my ass," she muttered, unable to keep the irritation out of her voice.

Evan chuckled again, ass that he was.  "There's only one V for me, you know," he assured her.

"Of course there is," she scoffed, reaching for the other glass of wine.  "Don't you forget it."

"As if I could," he retorted good-naturedly.  "Anyway, how was the show?"

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie tried to smile since she figured that was what he wanted to see.  It didn't work too well.  "It was good," she told him noncommittally.

"Hmm . . . That didn't sound 'good'," he pointed out.  "Garret was pretty damn awesome, don't you think?"

Heaving a sigh, Valerie pinned him with a very direct stare.  "Yeah, he was," she said with a shake of her head.  "He . . . He was . . ."

Evan returned her gaze for several seconds before scratching his head and frowning at her.  "And it scares you, right?"

She considered what he said and slowly shook her head.  "N-No," she drawled thoughtfully.  "Not scared, really . . . But it does worry me.  He's so young, and . . . and okay, maybe we're not as close as I'd like, but . . . but he's just small-town.  All of this is so far beyond him, Evan.  It could go to his head or make him forget that he's still just a kid . . ."

Evan's chuckle was warm, intimate, and he leaned forward, as though he was about to tell her a secret.  "I don't think that a sixteen year-old kid can forget to be a sixteen year-old kid," he said.  "Besides, Garret's got a good head on his shoulders, and he knows how to work hard for what he wants.  He's not some spoiled brat who's expecting things to be handed to him."

"I know that," she replied.  "That's not the point . . . Your world can be so crazy.  You're used to it, and you can handle it, but Garret . . ."

Sitting back, he stared at her under his lashes, his eyes half-closed, and she had to wonder just what he was thinking.  He probably thought that she was being too worried about nothing, but that wasn't the case, and she knew it.  "I just . . ."

"V, your brother's got talent—a lot of it.  In fact, he kind of reminds me of me when I was his age," Evan said, leaning forward, elbows on the table as he continued to gaze at her.  "But in this business, talent's secondary.  Luck and timing . . . If you don't have those two things, then you're fucked before you ever begin.  I could take a step back and let him be, but what makes you think that someone else isn't gonna come along—someone who isn't as interested in helping him out as they might be in exploiting him because he's exactly what you said: a small-town kid?"

Valerie sat back, considering what Evan had just said.  She hadn't thought about that, no, and to be honest, she was more than a little surprised that Evan had.  Was that what he was doing?  In taking Garret under his wing, so to speak, was he trying to shield him in his own way?

And somehow, Valerie knew that was exactly what he was doing.  Misguided and sometimes irritating in the extreme, he might not be the best role model in the world, but he certainly wasn't the worst, either . . .

"You know, right?  Excess in this business is second nature."  Letting his gaze shift to the side, he seemed to be thinking hard.  "I promised your dad," he finally went on, "that I'd keep Garret away from that kind of shit—the kind of shit that could ruin him.  The drugs . . . the hard partying . . . If someone else came along and offered Garret a deal, do you think they'd give a great goddamn about what your father wants?"

"You . . . You promised him," she murmured, shaking her head as she tried to understand what Evan was telling her.  "Because Daddy doesn't want Garret to repeat his mistakes."

Evan smiled wanly and gave a half-hearted shrug.  "Think of it this way, V.  At least you can still keep an eye on him, too, right?"

"Small consolation," she muttered.

"He's a good kid," Evan told her.  "A good kid with a sister who loves the fuck outta him."

Letting out a terse laugh, Valerie shook her head.  "You really need to work on the way you say things, you know," she pointed out despite the smile on her face that was warming by degrees.

Evan laughed, too, and waved at the waiter to get another round of drinks as he stood up and moved over to her side of the booth.  "Speaking of fucking . . ."

She snorted as he bumped her over with his hip.  "We weren't," she stated, planting a hand in the middle of his face when he leaned in for a kiss.

"Damn . . . So, how many more glasses of wine you figure you need before you start thinking I'm sexy?"

"Oh, well, there's not enough wine in France to make that happen," she scoffed.  "Go back over there, will you?"

"But you so se-e-e-ex-xa-a-a-ay," he drawled in a horrible impersonation of a French accent.

Valerie giggled despite herself and tried to shove him away again.  He chuckled but finally sat back, nodding at the waiter as he slipped the drinks onto the table and hurried off again after taking the empty bottle and glasses.

"Something else is bothering you; I can tell," Evan said.  Though he'd spoken in a light and teasing kind of way, she could discern the underlying gravity in his statement.

She sighed and let her head fall against his shoulder just for a moment.  "Daddy . . . He told me that he was added to the transplant list," she finally ventured.

"Oh, yeah?  That's great!  It'll just be a matter of time before they find a matching donor, and—"

"He told them to take his name off," she cut him off.  "He says he's all right with it; that he doesn't want to bump people who are already on it."

She felt him sigh, but it wasn't a sound as much as it was a hitch of his shoulders as he slipped his arm around her.  "I . . . I kind of figured he'd do something like that," Evan admitted.  "But, damn, it was worth a try."

"It's not fair," she muttered quietly, closing her eyes as she stubbornly willed herself not to cry.  "Okay, he's made some mistakes.  Everyone does.  But it's not f air . . ."

Evan kissed her forehead, gave her a gentle squeeze.  "I know, baby," he said quietly.  "That's what I thought, too."

She heaved a shaky sigh and leaned away so that she could look at Evan.  He looked sad, didn't he?  So very sad . . . "Is it so wrong that I want him to be around for a while?" she asked—demanded.

"It's not," he told her, and he tried to smile.  It didn't quite work, but he tried.  "I wish . . ."

Valerie nodded, understanding what he was trying to tell her, even though he couldn't seem to find the right words, either.  "I know," she said, reaching for the glass of wine.  "I . . . I know . . ."

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'You're< /b> the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised' by Warrant originally appeared on the 1990 release, Cherry Pie.  Copyrighted to Jani Lane.
== == == == == == == == == ==
wolfcon89 ------ Lennex ------ theablackthorn ------ knittingknots ------- xSerenityx020 ------ oblivion-bringr ------ Tashwampa ------ xbitternessx ------ Glacier_Tako ------ michellishelli ------ anime_game_lover ------ Saphirea83 ------ monkeyseemonkeynodo
tinywingedthing ------ kogas_woman ------ Zero ------ indigorrain ------ cutechick18 ------ HisEveryThing ------ sydniepaige ------ Shiratsuki ------ reina q ------ Amerise ------ gin_hayashi85 ------ amohip ------ sueroxmysox ------ Proforce ------ BlkbltVette ------ Saphirea83
Thought from Valerie:
damn it ...
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.