InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Runaway ( Chapter 179 )

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

- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'The jig is up, the news is out, they've finally found me ...
'The renegade who had it made, retrieved for the bounty
'Never more to go astray
'This will be the end today of the wanted man ...'

-'Renegade' by Styx.


"Look!  Over there!"

Valerie stopped and looked up in the direction that Evan was pointing in time to see a rabbit, bounding off into the cover of the trees.  She giggled and watched as it stopped for a moment and glanced back at them before resuming its escape.  With a chuckle, Evan took her hand and started walking again, well off the road, but close enough to see it.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Valerie couldn't help teasing as they moved.  "You're not going to get us lost, are you?"

"Are you kidding?  I have a compass built into my head!" he scoffed.

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head but kept moving.  When he'd first suggested that they hike to Madrid, Valerie wasn't entirely sure whether or not to take him seriously.  Oh, he looked serious enough, but honestly, she hadn't actually believed that he wanted to do any such thing.

He was dead serious, as she had found out while they were driving Garret to the airport.  They'd just watched as the boy disappeared into the terminal after hugs and kisses that Garret would have likely rather foregone, when Evan grinned and her and tugged her out of the limo.  He'd already taken the liberty of packing two very large backpacks—one, black leather.  The other, a smaller, tan version that he'd bought for her.  She'd laughed when she saw his backpack, though.  That sucker was huge—really huge, and he'd since told her that it was because he was carrying their tent, strapped to the underside of it.

"So how mad do you figure Mike is about now?"

Evan snorted.  "Who the fuck cares?" he countered, looking rather irritated at the reminder that Mike probably was plenty pissed off, all things considered.  Evan had sent a note to the manager's room last night that he was going to sleep in until the last possible moment and that if anyone disturbed him, there would be hell to pay.  Of course, that was the only way to get a good head start—at least, that's what he'd said, anyway.

"You're sure Bone won't tell him where we went?"

This time, Evan shot her a shit-eating grin, instead. "Bone?  Fuck . . . he works for me, not Mikey, remember?  'Sides, he likes yanking ol' Mikey's chain just as much as the next guy."

She didn't remark on that since Evan likely wouldn't be pleased with the reminder that, while Bone did work for Evan, he also didn't like to see Evan get himself into trouble, either.  The big man had said that he'd keep things on the down-low last night when they'd dropped Garret off at the airport after having spent a good two hours, trying to lose the few members of the press who had spotted them, leaving the hotel.  Evan and Valerie had then hailed a cab and told Bone that they'd see him again in Madrid for the next show.  Bone had laughed, gave Evan all the money he had on hand, and had waved as they drove away.  An hour later, they were aboard a train that would take them from Paris to Lourdes, and now they were heading toward the border of Spain.  Evan had said that they could walk the entire way, but he'd also wanted to put a bit of distance between Paris and themselves, so he'd used the money he'd gotten off of Bone to buy tickets on the train.  Then he'd yanked her into a very small bathroom where he'd managed to talk her into helping him wash the color out of his hair using only a small plastic cup that she'd had coffee in and the service sink.  Then he'd clubbed his hair back into a ponytail that he tucked up under a goofy straw hat—she had no idea where he'd gotten that—and they hadn't gotten even one curious look since.

"Why did you take Bone's money, anyway?" she asked Evan veered a little further away from the road.  

"Knowing Mikey, he's probably already put some kind of trace on my accounts," he told her in an almost distracted kind of way.

"Can he do that?"

He shrugged, more interested in where they were going than he was in answering her questions.  "Let's just say that he has some connections," Evan muttered.

"You make him sound like he's part of the mafia," she pointed out dryly.

Evan laughed and tugged on her hand to speed her up a little as he pulled a small GPS tracker out of his pocket to make sure that they were headed in the right direction.

"Eh, kind of."

She snorted then giggled.  It was incredibly hard to be stern with the man when she was having such a good time.  Back in the days when she was in college, she had some friends who had done this very thing in the summer between their junior and senior years.  She hadn't had the money to go along even though they had invited her.  One of her friends had offered to help her pay for it, but Valerie's pride wouldn't allow it.  There were a  few times over the years when she'd regretted that she hadn't.  This made up for it, didn't it?  After all, how many people could say that they backpacked to Spain with the Zel Roka?

That thought made her laugh a little harder, drawing a questioning glance from Evan.  "What's so funny?" he asked.

It took a moment for her to stop laughing long enough to tell him.  "I was just thinking," she finally said.  "Back in college, some of my friends went backpacking through Europe, but I didn't get to go.  Now I'm here, backpacking through Europe with Zel Roka . . ."

"And that's funny?" he countered despite the grin on his face.

She smiled.  "Not funny as much as it is ironic," she said.  "Think about it.  First off, who on earth would believe that the Zel Roka would actually want to do something as ordinary as hiking?  And secondly, how many girls do you figure would give anything to trade places with me right now?"

Evan grunted and rolled his eyes, but Valerie didn't miss the hint of pink that seeped into his cheeks, either.  "You're kind of bent, woman," he complained, pushing a low-hanging branch out of the way as they moved a little deeper into the forest.

"As if you don't know that," she insisted, ducking to the side to avoid the branch even though he was still holding onto it.  "If that many women came on to you at that party when I was sitting right there, how many more hit on you while I was out of earshot?"

"Oh, not that many," Evan quipped.  "Only another ten or so."

She snorted to let him know exactly what she thought of that.

He chuckled.  "Don't worry about it, baby," he said, turning to wink at her without breaking his stride.  "You're the only one for me."

She faltered for a moment, her smile disappearing as she frowned at the back of his head.  He really sounded sincere when he said that, didn't he?  For some reason, the idea that he might actually mean it made her belly flop over, and she quickly shook her head.  It was becoming harder and harder for her to separate herself from Evan, and the most frightening thing about it was that it didn't scare her nearly as much as it ought to.

The memory of his lips against hers was enough to bring a rosy flush to her face, and she concentrated on the ground under her feet.  She couldn't decide if the overwhelming wealth of emotion she'd felt at the time was all in her imagination or not, but she wanted to think that it wasn't.  If it was . . .

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie tried to push it all out of her mind.  God only knew that she didn't have any answers; just more questions that she was more than a little reluctant to ask herself.  Concentrate instead on the beauty of the scenery they were trekking through—that was what she tried to do.


"Check it out, woman," Evan declared proudly as Valerie straightened up and brushed off her hands, staring in complete satisfaction at the fire she'd just started.  Taking another moment to survey her handiwork, she slowly pivoted to face him.

"I'd be more impressed with that," she began slowly, "if you'd actually had to pitch that tent."

He shot her a cheesy grin.  "What are you talking about?  This was hard work!"

She didn't look like she was buying it.  "All you had to do was push a button, Roka," she pointed out with a shake of her head.  "Unlike starting that fire, you know.  I had to work to start that fire."

"Yeah," he agreed with an all-knowing nod, "because it's so hard to strike a match, right?"

Her lips twitched.  "That's right," she intoned.

"Yeah, well, you'll be glad for my button-pressing abilities later on," he predicted arrogantly.  "After all, it might be warm enough during the day, but it still gets plenty chilly at night."

Rubbing her arms through the thick sweatshirt she'd pulled on about an hour ago, Valerie arched an eyebrow at him and slowly shook her head.  "You know, I don't mind camping," she said, "but I wouldn't have objected if you'd planned this out a little better—you know, so that we could spend the nights in hotels along the way . . ."

"Sorry, baby.  Unless you can figure out a way to move the towns around a little . . ." he apologized without sounding at all contrite.

She snorted.  "Well, you packed everything else.  What's for dinner?"

Evan laughed and headed off toward the stream near the campsite.  "Fish, if I can catch 'em," he called over his shoulder.

"You're going fishing?" she said, sounding more than a little dubious.

"That's right.  Don't follow me.  You'll scare away the fish."

She snorted again, and when he glanced back at her, he chuckled.  She wasn't following him, which was just a well, really.  Even though he doubted that she'd be too worried about his methods, she might find it a little odd that he chose to fish with his bare hands.  Instead, she was gathering fallen branches and stacking them neatly by the tent.

They'd made good time today.  As far as Evan could figure, they'd walked a good fifty, maybe fifty-five miles, give or take a few.  Valerie had even said that she could walk a bit longer, just before they'd set up camp, but it was late afternoon already, and Evan figured that they weren't in that much of a hurry.

It was nice, he had to admit.  There was such a stark contrast between the insanity of his existence as Zel Roka and trekking through Spain.  That he was with Valerie?  Well, there was certainly something to be said about having good company . . .

'Kind of amusing,' he thought as he stripped off his shirt, followed by his shoes and socks and let them drop in a careless heap beside the water.  He hadn't actually considered doing any such thing before.  It wasn't that he disliked being out of doors.  No, he just never really had the time.  Funny how he realized now, just how much of his life had been nothing but work.  Granted, his work was a far cry from other people's ideas of normal.  Still, that didn't change the facts, either.  Between composing, public appearances, doing gigs, and everything else under the sun, he hadn't taken as much time to do things for the sheer enjoyment of it as he had since Valerie had entered his life.  She was good for him, wasn't she?  Now all he had to do was to convince the stubborn woman that he was just as good for her, too . . .

'Eh, she's coming around.  Slowly, sure, but that's all right,' his youkai voice insisted as he waded into the frigid stream.

'She is,' he agreed philosophically as he scanned the water for fish.  Then he grinned stupidly.  'She called me 'baby',' he couldn't help adding.

'Hell, yeah, she did!' his youkai said.  'She really is coming around!  Oh, fuck!  You missed that one!'

Evan blinked and slowly shook his head as a big, fat fish darted away from him.  It was big enough to be a good meal for both of them—if he hadn't been daydreaming.  'Ah, well . . . What can you do?'

Even as he stood, frowning over the lost opportunity, another good sized fish swam over to nibble on Evan's toes, and a few moments later, he straightened up, holding the flopping, struggling to break free.  It wasn't as big as the one that had gotten away, but it'd do.  Now, if he could catch another one, he'd be ahead of the game . . .

'Uh, Roka . . .'

'Not now,' he grumbled absently as he held onto the squirming fish with one hand and reached behind himself to grab the fish line he'd grabbed out of his bag at the campsite.  It only took him a few moments to hook the catch on one of the hooks, and he let the line drop back into the water satisfied that it was secured to his belt before turning his attention back to the water once more.


'Shut the hell up, will you?  Oh!  There's a big one!'

His youkai snorted loudly.  'Fuck the fish, damn it!  There's something I wanna tell—'

'Not . . . now . . .' Evan growled, his hand shooting down to catch the fish he was eyeing.

'Fine, fine!  You're a dick; did you know that?'

He ignored the irritating voice and hooked the fish on the line.  One more ought to do it, he figured.  Valerie would only eat one of those—maybe—but he was damn hungry after hiking all day . . .

'So you really don't want to know that you've got an audience?' his youkai-voice remarked dryly.

'I do?'

His youkai grunted.  'Over by those trees—don't look!'

Resisting the urge to turn around and peek, Evan kept his gaze trained on the water.  He would have figured it out himself eventually.  After all, he was too in-tuned with her not to know roughly where she was most all of the time.

That thought made him grin rather stupidly.  He wasn't sure when that had happened, and it didn't bother him in the least.  It was more like he just knew, wasn't it?  Everything about her . . .

She was there, by the trees.  Peeking around them, maybe?  It wasn't like her, lurking in the shadows, hesitating when she normally plunged right in . . . Still, it made his grin widen by degrees.  Whatever she was doing was fine by him as long as he was the one holding her attention . . .

'Maybe you should flex your muscles,' his youkai suggested baldly.

Evan chuckled.  'Give it a minute.  I'll pop a fucking woody and really give her something to gawk at.'

'Such a damn moron,' his youkai grumbled.  'First off, it's not like she'd see it, considering you're nearly waist-deep in water and facing away from her, and secondly, that'd be a little counterproductive, now wouldn't it?'

'How could that possibly be counterproductive?' he challenged.  'I'll have you know, girls think that my boners are quite impressive, remember?'

'Yeah, but you know damn well that if you did that, she'd turn-tail and get the hell outta Dodge.'

He grunted, mostly because he hated to admit that his youkai might be right about anything, but as much as he hated to say it, that was true enough.

'You're just jealous because she kissed me and not you,' he tossed back instead.

His youkai didn't respond right away.  'Did I mention that you're an idiot?' it finally asked, which only served to amuse Evan a little more.

'Maybe,' he allowed smugly.  'Then again, it's my ass she's staring at, ain't it?'

'You're all ass, Roka.  All.  Ass.'


'Fishing, huh . . .?'

Dropping the rest of the firewood onto the neat pile she'd built up, Valerie dusted her hands off and slowly pivoted on her heels to stare in the direction that the man had gone.  Fishing, sure, but he hadn't taken a pole with him; she knew that he hadn't, but he had grabbed a sturdy nylon rope to string the catch on.  Of course, it wouldn't matter in the least if he couldn't catch the fish.  Just what was he going to do?  Sing them a lullaby so that he could just reach down and pluck them out of the water?

"Don't follow him," she muttered under her breath as she started off after him.  It crossed her mind briefly that he might have just said that, knowing that she would anyway, simply out of sheer curiosity.

The path to the stream was short, and when she neared the edge of the treeline, she stopped.  He was standing in the middle of the water without his shirt, his skin glowing in the late afternoon sunshine, reflected off the rippling, surging water.  Everything about him was gentle, almost serene, lending the surroundings a sense of calm that seemed to permeate the very air around him.  It was a novelty, really.  Of all the words that she could think of to describe him 'calm' wouldn't usually have been at the top of the list.

That, however, wasn't what caught and held her attention though.  As she watched him, he leaned down suddenly, his arm flashing out and down faster than she could quite credit, and when he stood up, he was holding a flopping fish in his hands.  How he'd managed to do that was beyond her, but he secured the creature between his forearm and his chest, reaching down to grasp the cord that he'd secured to his belt loop.  He'd already caught one fish, she saw as he hauled the line out of the water and efficiently hooked his latest catch then let go of the line and resumed his stance once more.

'He . . . He's . . . beautiful . . .' she thought almost reverently as she reached out, leaned heavily against a tree as though she needed the support that it unwittingly offered her.  Physical beauty, yes, of course.  To be honest, there really wasn't a thing about him that didn't appeal to her, but that wasn't what she saw, either.  No, it was an inward radiance that stemmed somewhere deep inside him, and he used it to lift others up.  That was the heart and soul of Evan Zelig, even if he did try to hide it.

Swallowing hard as her belly turned over in an entirely pleasant sort of way, somewhere in the back of her mind she registered the slight pain as the bark of the tree slipped up underneath a few of her fingernails when her grip tightened.  All at once, a deluge of memory crashed down on her—the feel of his lips on hers, of the heat of his body as he held her close, held her like he would be lost if he let go.  The sudden sensation that she was falling despite the knowledge that her feet were most definitely firmly on the ground . . . It was a heady feeling, like careening down a roller coaster—or jumping out of an airplane . . .

The reflection of the sunlight cast stark highlights on his skin, making the shadows more pronounced, more mysterious, and it was with an easy grace that he caught another fish.  If she hadn't seen it with her own eyes, she wouldn't have believed it.  He really was catching them with his bare hands.  She'd known that he had good reflexes, sure, but to be able to do such a thing?

Before she could stop herself, she pushed away from the tree, moving toward the stream where she paused long enough to kick her shoes off next to Evan's and discard her socks before carefully wading into the water behind him.

"How are you doing that?" she asked without preamble.  Her voice was a little more terse than she meant for it to be, mostly because of the very, very cold water.  Still, she stubbornly forced her legs to move, deciding that if Evan could deal with it, then so could she.

He turned his head to peer over his shoulder at her, and he didn't seem at all surprised to find her right behind him.  "What's that?" he deadpanned innocently.

Valerie wrinkled her nose.  "How are you catching those fish with your hands?"

He chuckled and turned his attention back to the water once more.  "Oh, it's easy," he assured her.  "You just have to become one with the fish."

Rolling her eyes despite the giggle that escaped her, Valerie grasped the nylon cord fixed to his belt loop and hauled the string of fish out of the water to inspect them.  They thrashed wildly, and she took a step back in retreat while tightening her grip.  "These are huge," she decided in a no-nonsense tone of voice.  "Do you need to catch more?"

He shrugged.  "I'm starving," he informed her.  "If I died out here, you'd never get back to civilization."

She snorted but let go of the line.  "So tell me how we do this," she said, mimicking his stance as she scowled at the gently churning water.

Evan laughed and stepped over behind her.  "Well, wait till a big ol' sucker comes in close—they like to nibble at your toes and such—and then when he's there, you just grab him."

"That sounds a lot simpler than it is," Valerie pointed out absently, concentrating on the water.  "Oh, there's a big one . . ."

She barely noticed when Evan slipped his arms around her, his hands on hers, his chest warm against her back.  "Okay, now wait," he said, his voice, soft, intimate.  "Slip your hands in the water," he instructed.  She leaned down and did as he said.  His hands were on hers, as though he were guiding her.  "Ready . . .? Now!"

Valerie squealed as he bent down further, pushing her toward the water his hands forcing hers to close in around the fish.  He didn't let go until they'd pulled it out of the water as it fought against their collective grip, and she laughed triumphantly.

"Hold onto it, V," he warned, letting go with one hand to reach for the fish he'd already caught.

It seemed to her that she didn't breathe until after he'd hooked the fish and dropped the line back into the water once more.  Then she sighed.  "I just caught a fish with my hands," she said with a bemused smile.

Evan chuckled and pulled her against his chest.  "Silly woman," he chided, crossing his arms over her back and rubbing her forearms to ward off the chill that was fast setting in.  "Let's get you out of the water before you freeze on me."

To Valerie's chagrin the proximity of Evan's body sparked the onset of shivering that had nothing really to do with the chill of the water, and she couldn't quite stop herself from snuggling a little closer against his chest seeking the warmth of him that he freely offered.  All the same, she wasn't really in a hurry to move, either, despite the knowledge that her legs were already numb.  There was something altogether beautiful about that insular moment, and if she moved, it would fade away . . .

Evan let out a deep breath.  She could feel his lips, warm on her forehead as she closed her eyes, as she held onto the lingering sense of well-being, and whether Evan understood or was simply humoring her, she didn't know.  He just stood there, holding onto her, humming a familiar song under his breath that she couldn't quite place . . .

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'Renegade' by Styx originally appeared on the 1978 release, Pieces of Eight.  Copyrighted to Tommy Shaw.
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Thought from Evan:
Ni-i-i-ice ...
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.