InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Roughing It ( Chapter 180 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day ...
'I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
'And at dinner time, we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
'And Mama hollered out the back door, "Y'all remember to wipe your feet" …
'And then she said, "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge
'"Today Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge" ...'

-'Ode to Billie Joe' by Bobbie Gentry.


-Evan-


"Ow!"

Evan tried to sit up straight, but couldn't.  Even after opening his eyes wide, it took him a moment to figure out exactly what was going on.

Ordinarily speaking, he'd be thrilled to wake up, only to find one sexy-as-hell attorney straddling him and staring intently at his body.  Ordinarily speaking, he'd be deliriously happy to find her anywhere near him, to tell the truth.  But . . .

"Just what the hell are you doing?" he half-growled, half-whined, bucking his hips in a vain effort to try to unseat her.  The sudden motion just made her bring her knees in closer to his sides, her thighs gripping him like he was the prize bronco at a rodeo or something—a sensation that did not go unnoticed by Evan, albeit in a vague sort of way, all things considered.

"Hold still, Roka.  I've got two more," she said, her tone rather bland, as if what she was doing was the most normal thing in the world.

Evan snorted and bucked his hips again.  It didn't do any good, but he slapped her hands aside, reaching up to cover his chest with his crossed arms instead.  "No way!  What are you trying to do?  Maim me?"

She snorted indelicately at his apparently ridiculous accusation.  "Listen, rocker boy, I woke up this morning with your chest hair tickling my nose—quite a feat, I think, considering you only have three—maybe."

"Yeah!" he shot back, slapping her hands away once more before quickly recovering himself.  "If I only have three, then you should leave them alone!"

She snorted again, tightening her grip on the tweezers she had already used to viciously rip the first hair out by the root.  "Don't be such a baby.  If you let me do it, I'd already be finished by now."

"You know, there's an ancient law written somewhere about this.  'Thou shalt not deface a world-famous rockstar,' or some such . . . I think it's one of the Ten Commandments . . ."

Valerie rolled her eyes, completely nonplussed.  "Uncover your chest, Roka," she demanded in a no-nonsense sort of way.  "This'll only take a second."

He grunted sourly but refused to give in to her demand.  "Is that what Minoc says to you when he's trying to convince you to fuck him?"

That earned him a dour look, but he didn't miss the way the edges of her lips twitched just slightly.  "Twisted little monkey," she muttered, shaking her head slowly.  "It's either those two hairs or me.  Take your pick."

"Forget it," he insisted, rolling slightly from side to side in an effort to knock her off of him.  "Don't think I don't know that those hairs are growing out of my nipples—do you know how sensitive nipples are?"

For a moment, he had to wonder if she was contemplating hitting him.  She didn't.  She wrinkled her nose instead.  "Did you really just ask me that?" she asked drolly, arching an eyebrow to underline her challenge.  "I highly doubt that your nipples are more sensitive than mine."

"I'm on to you and your trickery, woman," he shot back haughtily.  "Forgeddabout it."

She sighed and stopped trying to tug his hands away long enough to sit back, crossing her arms over her chest as she eyed him thoughtfully.  "All right, Roka," she finally said with a resolute little nod, as though she'd figured as much.  "I had a hunch that you'd show your true wussiness, and I'm prepared to compromise."

He made a face at her injudicious use of the word 'wussiness'—if that really was a word at all—but remained silent as he waited to hear her idea of 'compromise'.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie looked like she was weighing her options, but she must have decided that ridding Evan of the two lonely hairs on his chest was well worth the effort, and just for a moment, Evan had to wonder if the woman had been born the lovechild of some warped and twisted cult that believed in sacrificing virgins—or small mammals . . . The next time he spoke to Jack, maybe he ought to ask about their religious affiliations . . .

"If you let me pluck those two hairs," she began slowly, her already sultry voice dropping to a husky whisper as she lowered her chin and peered at him through the veil of her eyelashes, "You can look down my shirt while I'm doing it."

Snapping his mouth closed on the rebuttal that had already formed, Evan blinked, unable to mask his surprise as he let her offer sink in.  "R . . . Really . . .?"

She nodded.  "Yes—but no touching."

Evan rolled his eyes.  "I knew there was a fucking catch," he muttered.  "You're wearing a bra, too, aren't you?"

This time, she giggled.  "Actually, I'm not," she assured him, fluttering a hand dismissively.   "Besides, you've already seen them before, so it's not a huge deal . . . So what's it going to be, rockstar?"

"Not worth it if I can't touch," he grumbled.

"You're such a baby," she informed him with a sigh.  "Fine, but whether you look or not, you're still losing those last couple hairs."

"Forget it, wench," Evan retorted, somehow managing to sit up straight and unseating Valerie in the process.

She uttered a little half-squeak, half-squeal as she threw her arms around him to keep herself from falling.  "Jerk!" she accused when his arms snaked around her waist to hold her against him.

He snorted.  "You're trying to yank out my hairs by the roots, and I'm a jerk?" he complained, pointedly arching an eyebrow—an affectation that she completely missed since she was leaning her head against his shoulder and not actually attempting to fight the hold he had on her at the moment.  "You know, I'd never, ever do that to you, V."

That earned him a decisive snort, and she leaned back far enough to cast him a droll sort of look.  "I don't have hair on my chest, Roka," she pointed out.

"Yeah, but if you did, you'd still be hot," he quipped as he pushed the blanket aside and leaned over to snag a shirt out of his backpack.

She snorted as she flopped over onto the air mattress and yanked the blanket back up to her chin.  "Only you would think that a woman with a hairy chest would be hot."

"Ah, nah, nah, nah, nah," he countered, grabbing the blanket and giving it a good tug.  Valerie whimpered in protest and tried to grab the blanket back, to no avail.  "Time to get a'movin', V."

"But it's cold outside the tent," she pointed out with a plaintive whine.

"And you'll warm up quick enough once we start walking."

Her reply was a decisive snort, but she did sit up and reached for her bag.

Satisfied that she wasn't going to try to go back to sleep, Evan dropped the blanket beside the mattress and yanked the tee-shirt over his head with one hand as he unzipped the entrance flap with the other.  "Five minutes, woman, before I start packing it up," he warned as he stepped out into the very brisk morning.

"And you'd better have coffee waiting for me," she tossed back.

Evan let the flap fall closed with a chuckle, sticking his arm through the other sleeve.  "That's my V," he remarked to himself as he ambled toward the edge of the encampment to find a good spot to relieve himself even as he rubbed his chest where she'd so unceremoniously decided to yank hairs off his person.  All in all, not the best way to start the day . . .

'You should've taken her up on her offer,' his youkai-voice complained.

Evan wrinkled his nose.  'Fat fucking chance,' he scoffed.   'That hurt, damn it . . .'

'She's right,' his youkai went on.  'Total wuss.'

Evan snorted but didn't respond.  Better a wuss with a few chest hairs, he figured, than a martyr without . . .




-Garret-


"Hey.  You busy?"

Kaci Lea didn't even glance up from the book she was studying when her brother stuck his head into her room.  "I've got a test tomorrow, Gare," she replied in a monotone.

"Yeah, but this'll only take a second," he said.

Letting out a deep breath, Kaci Lea sat back and pushed the book away.  "All right.  Your second's over."

He grinned at her and stepped into the small room, pushing the door closed behind himself.  "Aww, you always ace those tests."

She made a face.  "Yeah, because I always study for them," she pointed out.

"Yeah, yeah . . ." he agreed with a flick of his wrist.  "You know, I was thinking . . ."

"Did you hurt yourself?"

His grin widened.  "Naw . . . It's just . . . I-I bet Zel could help you get a passport if you wanted to come with me to Spain this weekend."

Her serious expression didn't change.  She probably figured he was going to suggest it since he already had the day after he'd gotten back.  Still, as happy as he was about his new-found 'job', a part of him couldn't help but to feel a little guilty when he stopped to think about it.  After all, he was on the edge of his dreams coming true, and Kaci Lea . . .?  Well, it seemed like nothing in her life had changed at all . . .

"It was amazing," he told her when she didn't reply right away.  "All the people and the parties and stuff . . ." Then he frowned.  "Not that you could go to the parties," he blurted suddenly.  "I mean, there's a lot of shit at those that you don't need to be around . . ."

Kaci Lea snorted indelicately.  "But you can go to them?  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black . . ."

"Y-Yeah, well, I'm not a fourteen year-old girl," he went on almost airily, as though he was far worldlier than she.  "Besides, if you got caught up with some of the guys on the crew or something, I'd have to . . . to kick their asses."

She made a face at his threat.  "Not that I'd want to, anyway, but you know, I heard you telling Daddy about some of the girls you met," she pointed out with a shake of her head.

"Maybe, but I'm not a fourteen year old girl," he shot back, unable to staunch the flow of blood that rose to stain his cheeks.

She rolled her eyes at his statement.  "That's so sexist," she pointed out.  "You think that I'm going to let some guy take advantage of me just because I'm a fourteen year old girl?  Please!"

"Well, maybe not," he allowed with a shrug, "but I still think you'd have a good time."

"Maybe if it was summer," she replied with a simple shrug.

"Yeah, but how often does a chance like this come around?" he countered.  "C'mon, Kase."

Kaci Lea shook her head again, her hair falling over the side of her face.  "Anyway, I can't go.  I have a couple reports due next week, and I have to work at the library on Saturday morning."

He scowled at her, ducking his chin, staring at her through the thick shag of bangs as he crossed his arms over his chest and slowly shook his head.  "Kase . . ."

She waved her hands at him to stall him before he could continue.  Then she pasted a very bright smile on her face as she tucked a long strand of blonde hair behind her ear.  "It's fine, Gare . . . and you know I'm happy for you—even if you are a dork."

"Takes a dork to know a dork," he grumbled.

Her smile widened enough to show off the deep dimples that she hadn't showed very often lately.  "Besides, I don't think I'd like flying, anyway."

"I don't know.  It's pretty damn cool."

She didn't look like she believed him, and she heaved another sigh as she reached out to pull the text book toward her once more.  "As fun as it is to chat with you, I really do have to study for the test," she pointed out in a droll kind of way.  "You could benefit from studying a little bit, too."

Yanking the door open, Garret grinned.  "Shit . . . Why the hell would I wanna do something like that?" he scoffed.

"Gee," she drawled in an exaggeratedly bored tone, "of course you wouldn't.  How stupid of me."

"That's okay.  I'll forgive you this time."  He hesitated before he left the room, his hand poised on the doorknob.  "Hey, uh, Kase?"

"Hmm?" she drawled without lifting her face from the textbook in front of her.

He sighed.  "You're not saying you don't want to go because of V, are you?"

He could sense her back stiffen, even if he didn't turn to look.  There was a subtle change in the atmosphere that was impossible not to notice, and just for a second, he wished that he hadn't brought up their older sister.  Then he brushed that feeling aside.

"Why would I care if she's there or not?" Kaci Lea replied rather stiffly.

Garret wasn't quite ready to give up.  "She's really cool," he went on casually, letting his hand fall away from the door as he slowly turned to face Kaci Lea once more.  "It's kind of funny.  I mean, she's a lawyer and all, right?  So you wouldn't think—"

"It has nothing to do with her," Kaci Lea cut in firmly.  "I just have too much stuff going on to just drop everything—even for a weekend in Germany."

"Spain," Garret corrected.

Kaci Lea snorted.  "Whatever."

"Yeah, but there's lots of historical crap there, right?  I mean, you could think of it as a chance to study old . . . streets and . . . and stuff."

She almost smiled—almost.  Then she rolled her eyes again.  "Go away, Garret.  If I flunk my test because you kept yapping at me, I'll make sure you regret it."

He didn't really want to give up, but he knew damn well that Kaci Lea was about as stubborn as they came, and if she really was set to stay home, then there wasn't much he could do about that, either.  "Next time, then?" he said in a tone that implied that she'd better not argue with him.

She heaved a sigh, but shrugged.  "Next time, I'll think about it," she conceded.

"All right, pest," he muttered, only half-teasing.

"Get out of here, rockstar-wanna-be."

He grinned.  "More like, rockstar –gonna–be."

"Doofus forever," she shot back.

"Brainiac bookworm!"

He could hear the sound of her pen hitting the back of the door as he pulled it closed, and for a moment, he chuckled before the sound died away, before the thoughtful expression slipped over his face once more.

She was lying, and he knew it.

Oh, sure, she probably did have to work at the library, and she probably did have a report or two due at school, too.  But somehow, he couldn't shake the feeling, either, could he?  She'd just been too quiet lately, more reserved than usual . . . Something was bothering his little sister, and he knew it.  The trouble was, he had a feeling that it might well have something to do with his big sister, and if that was the case, then there wasn't much he could do about it.  The trouble was, he could kind of understand where Kaci Lea was coming from.  She wasn't the only one who had been told that, one day, their big sister would come home, and maybe Kaci Lea had wanted that much more than anyone else had.  Still . . .

Unfortunately, he could also understand Valerie's side of things, too, at least, to a point.  Okay, so he couldn't really wrap his head around what she had to have felt, all those years, isolated from their family.  But he knew damn well that it had to have been rough.

The thing was, he just didn't know what to do about it—or if there really was anything he could do, at all . . .


-Valerie-


"So tell me again, why do I feel like we're hurrying?" Valerie asked, ducking slightly to avoid a low-hanging branch.

Evan peered over his shoulder at her, a wide grin breaking over his features as he broke a path through the dense foliage for her.  "Dunno, V," he replied casually.  "Why were you in my bushes?"

Valerie snorted and shook her head.  "Isn't that getting a little old, Roka?" she complained.  "How long are you going to use that one, anyway?"

The sound of his chuckles drifted back to her.  "That one was classic, woman.  Call it payback for trying to de-fur me earlier."

She rolled her eyes but did smile just a little.  "Give it a rest," she told him brusquely.  "I can't believe you're still pouting about that."

"Of course I am," he argued amiably.  "That really hurt, you know."

"Oh, you'll live," she insisted dryly, digging a soy and oat energy bar out of her pocket.  "Did you call Mike while we were in town?"

"Nope," he replied without missing a step.

That didn't surprise her.  He probably thought that Mike would have a cow when he finally did catch up with the errant rock star, and Valerie figured that Evan was very likely right.

"Did you call your parents?"

"I did," she said with a smile.  "Daddy said that you're supposed to behave yourself."

"Are you sure he said that or did he say not to do anything he wouldn't do?" Evan countered.  "'Cause those are two very different things."

Making a face, Valerie had to wonder how Evan could understand Jack Duyer so easily.  "Why don't we make camp soon?" Valerie asked instead, making a point of ignoring Evan's question.

"Yeah, okay," he said, veering sharply toward the left—toward the sound of rushing water.

They hiked for another ten minutes without speaking until Evan stopped on the edge of a small clearing.  Through the foliage on the far side, she could see the bank of the river they'd been following, and she let out a deep breath while Evan shrugged off his backpack and let it thump onto the ground.  "Nice," he breathed, taking a moment to stretch his lanky body before hunkering down to pull the tent from the straps that held it onto the pack.

"How about I do this while you go catch us some dinner?"

Valerie blinked at his suggestion then snorted at the unlikelihood that she'd be able to do any such thing—at least, without a fishing pole, which she didn't have.  "I can catch you a soy-oat energy bar," she informed him dryly.

He chuckled.  "I'd prefer real food, woman," he pointed out as he inspected the ground where he planned on pitching the tent.  "Don't worry.  I, as the big, strong, strapping man, will catch food for you, you weak, tiny, frail woman, after I get done with this."

"You're a big something," she scoffed with a shake of her head as she set her backpack down and moved off to gather some firewood.

"I've got a big somethin'-somethin'," he shot back with a devilish kind of gleam in his eyes.

She made a face and ignored his commentary as his laughter followed her as she stepped into the trees once more.  Then she broke into a smile and slowly shook her head, trying to keep from laughing out loud since Evan didn't really need that kind of encouragement, anyway.

Hiking with him was a lot more fun than she'd thought it was going to be.  Sure, she enjoyed doing such things, but for some reason, she hadn't actually stopped to think that he might, too.  It was a side of him that was so easily hidden by the flashier aspects of his rockstar persona.  It struck her again, just how sorely she'd misjudged him when they'd first met.  Sure, he had his moments, but a dumb musician?  No, he definitely wasn't that; not at all . . .

Of course, there was still the very real chance that Mike would undoubtedly want his head when they finally caught up to each other, but Valerie couldn't even feel too bad about leaving the poor man in the lurch, either, not when she was having such a good time with Evan.  Besides, she knew damn well that Mike kind of expected Evan to pull stunts like this, anyway.  She highly doubted that it was really something new to the manager.

It didn't take long to gather enough wood to start a fire and to keep it going for a good while.  By the time she got back to the camp, she figured that he'd already have a small fire going, anyway.  Turning carefully so that she didn't drop the wood in her arms, she stopped abruptly.  "Evan?" she said, brow furrowing as she scanned the area around her.

She didn't see anything—just trees and undergrowth—absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  But the sound of crunching leaves and twigs came again, though this time, it seemed much closer, just off to the right . . .


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Ode to Billie Joe' by Bobbie Gentry originally appeared on the 1967 release, Ode to Billie Joe.  Copyrighted to Bobbie Gentry.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
Who …?
==========
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 179
Chapter 181
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