InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Little Lies ( Chapter 181 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'< i>If I could turn the page ...
'In time then I'd rearrange just a day or two
'Close my, close my, close my eyes …'

'But I couldn't find a way
'So I'll settle for one day to believe in you
'Tell me, tell me, tell me lies ...'

-'Little Lies' by Fleetwood Mac.


-Evan-


"Thank you so much for your hospitality."

Evan shrugged and handed the man a skewered fish, hot off the fire.  "Don't mention it."

Antonio Valdez bit into it, his eyes fluttering closed, as he uttered a soft groan.  "Fantastic," he muttered, holding the fish out to his young wife, Imelda.  "You are sure you don't mind sharing your campsite for the evening?"

Evan grinned as he handed Valerie the other cooked fish and sank down beside her on the log he'd pulled over to use as a bench.  "Nah, it's fine," he assured them again.

He caught the questioning expression on Valerie's face and chuckled.  "He asked if we're sure that it's all right to share our campsite with them tonight," he clarified since they'd been speaking in Spanish.  "You don't mind, do you, V?"

Valerie blinked and quickly shook her head as she turned to smile at their impromptu guests.  "No, no, it's fine," she said.

Antonio laughed as he slipped an arm around his wife.  He knew enough English to have introduced both of them to Valerie when they'd stumbled upon her as she was gathering firewood, but his grasp of the language wasn't very strong.  He'd told Evan, though, that he and his wife had decided to hike around Spain on their honeymoon, and they were going to set up camp further on, but it was already getting a little late, and he'd inadvertently ended up shoulder-deep in the stream they'd been following when he'd lost his footing earlier in the day.  Because of that, most of their gear was wet since he'd been gallantly shouldering most of it at the time. Their damp things were spread out around the campsite to air dry before morning, and Evan and Valerie had offered to share their place for the night.

"Your wife is beautiful," Imelda murmured, her smoky dark eyes shining brightly as he handed her a tin cup of coffee.

Evan's grin widened as he cast a quick glance at Valerie.  She was nibbling at the other skewered fish, carefully stripping the flesh off one side while leaving the other untouched.  "Yeah, she is," he agreed, not bothering to correct the woman's mistake about their marital status.  

"She is a good match for you, eh?   Your looks go well together," she went on.

Evan blinked and shot Valerie a slow glance.  Sure, he knew she was damn hot, but he'd never actually stopped to think about how they actually looked together.  He supposed that it just didn't occur to him, even if the idea pleased him . . . "She's a lot prettier than I am," he murmured with a little shake of his head.  As though sensing his casual perusal, Valerie shot Evan a questioning glance, and he chuckled.  "Imelda said that we look good together," he clarified in English.

Valerie blinked and shot the woman in question a quick glance, and Evan didn't miss the tinge of pink that bloomed under the slight tan on Valerie's face.  "We do?"

He shot her a saucy grin.  "'Course we do, baby."

She wrinkled her nose in an absolutely adorable kind of way but laughed.  "You're so bent, Evan," she muttered under her breath.

"Very . . ." Imelda drawled as she leaned forward, as though she were trying to make up her mind as she stared at Valerie, her brow furrowing while she struggled to find the English word she wanted to use.  Then she clapped her hands and smiled.  "Pretty!"

She looked a little flustered for all of ten seconds before she quickly shook her head, her cheeks pinking just a little more.  "O-Oh, thank you," Valerie replied with a smile and a friendly nod.

Imelda laughed.  "You two must have a romantic story of how you met, no?" she went on happily, her gaze returning to Evan's face once more.  "Like, across the crowded room, your eyes met, and you knew that she was the perfect mate of your soul?"

Evan chuckled and sat back on his heels, as he casually sipped the cup of coffee he'd just poured and idly pondered her question.  Considering Valerie still didn't quite see the humor in the situation when they'd met, he didn't think that telling the truth would be a good idea—at least, not in this case, anyway.  "I guess you could say it was something like that," he hedged slowly.

"Imelda, Imelda," her husband chided, slipping an arm around her waist and tugging her a little closer.  "I apologize," he said, turning his attention to Evan once more.  "My wife is forever the romantic—to the point that she can forget her manners."

"But everyone should share the same beautiful passion that we have," she insisted, her deep red lips pursed into a slight pout.

"Women in love are such silly creatures," Antonio mumbled, rolling his eyes as he shot Evan a droll kind of grin.

Evan waved that off with another chuckle.  Imelda giggled and leaned up to kiss her husband's cheek.  "That's all right," Evan insisted.  "There's nothing wrong with wanting to fill the world with romance."

"You see?" Imelda insisted, turning a plaintive look on her new husband.  "That's right!  The world should be filled with love and romance!"

Antonio chuckled and spared a moment to kiss his wife's nose.  "And you are doing your best to make sure of that . . ." Turning toward Evan once more, the man's smile widened.  "My beautiful Imelda is a painter . . . She loves to paint the love she feels in her heart, you see?"

Somehow, that idea didn't really surprise Evan.  Maybe he was just too used to being around artists.  There was something about them in general, he supposed.  Even his father had that intangible quality—that dreaminess that never seemed to be far beneath the surface.  He wasn't so sure that it stretched to him, however.  After all, musicians were a slightly different breed of artist, weren't they?  "It's too bad I can't see any of your work," he ventured with a smile.  "Oils?  Pastels?  You don't really strike me as a charcoal type . . ." he mused.  "Actually, you seem more like the kind who appreciates water colors."

Imelda laughed.  "I prefer water colors, yes," she agreed.  "You know many artists?"

"A few," he admitted with an offhanded shrug.

She seemed fascinated.  Bright eyes widening as she leaned forward, she reached out to put a hand on Evan's knee.  "I can send you something, yes?  A painting that I will create especially for you and your wife!"

"We'd love that," he allowed.

Imelda pulled her hand away but didn't lean back, content to rest her elbows on her knees as she scanned Evan's face earnestly.  "If you give us your address before we part ways, I'll send you one," she decided.

Antonio chuckled.  "And what is it that you and your wife do?"

"Well, V's an attorney, and I . . . Well, I guess you could say that I'm just her trophy husband."

Imelda giggled.  "A man of leisure."

"Actually, I do write songs," he admitted.

"I knew it!" Imelda insisted.  "You seemed artistic, too!  My darling Antonio is an accountant."

Evan's grin widened as the accountant rolled his eyes and laughed.  "She said I am her perfect match—except for my profession," he informed Evan with a wink.

Antonio laughed and returned his wife's show of affection as Evan pushed himself to his feet and ambled over to Valerie.  "You still hungry?" he asked when she offered him the uneaten side of the fish.  "You can have that one.  I can go catch more."

She wrinkled her nose and stuffed the end of the stick into his free hand, neatly plucking the cup of coffee out of his other one.  "You can't go fishing in the dark," she corrected with a shrug.  "So . . . What were you all talking about?"

"They asked what we do for a living—just making small talk, really."  He almost laughed at the barely discernible hint of a pout in her tone that belied the rather neutral cheerfulness.  "Imelda did say that I have a beautiful wife, though," he replied.

"Oh, yeah?" Valerie murmured, her voice muffled by the tin cup.  "I'd like to meet her—maybe when we get back to the States."

He couldn't help but to laugh at that.  "I figured it was kind of incidental," he said, shrugging off the dryness in her voice.  "Would it kill you to be my wife for one night?"

She peered at him over the edge of the cup, the corners of her eyes turned up just enough to betray the amusement that she was otherwise trying to hide.  "All right," she allowed casually—too casually.  "But I have a headache tonight, Roka."

"Figures," he grouched.  "Ever since you got the ring on my finger, you've had headaches every night."

She giggled but rolled her eyes at his teasing.  "Get over it," she scoffed.  "You've gotten more than your fair share of it, and don't try to say that you haven't."

He snorted though the effect was ruined by the grin he just couldn't hide.  "I'd never get enough of you, baby."

He leaned in to kiss her cheek.  She stopped him with a hand in the middle of his face as she leaned the other way to finish off her coffee.  "Maybe we'll talk if you get me a refill."

Evan's laughter was warm, light, as he took the cup and pushed himself to his feet once more.


-Valerie-


Breaking into a slight smile as she watched Evan refill the coffee cup, Valerie slowly shook her head.  He really was something, wasn't he?  Sure, she'd known that the man couldn't possibly be stupid.  After all, he had a doctorate, for God's sake, and even if he did insist that it wasn't a big deal, she knew better, and she'd known that he could speak Spanish from their brief stops in the couple towns they'd trekked through, but he was even more fluent in the language than she'd initially thought.  He knew quite a few languages, she realized.  Oh, sure, she'd known that, but when she stopped to really think about it, in the length of time that she'd known him, she'd heard him speak German, French, Hungarian—at least, she thought it was Hungarian—and, considering he'd said that his mother was originally from Japan, she figured he knew that, too, and now Spanish . . .

She used to think that he tried to act dumb, that it was all a part of the front he tried to hide behind, but that wasn't true, was it?  No, it was more of a game to him.  It wasn't so much that he tried to hide the fact that he was smart as much as he just didn't really throw such things into other people's faces.  Of course, she didn't doubt that he could and did act a little denser in some situations than he really needed to, but he didn't do that with her.

Biting her lip as she watched him carefully slip more wood into the fire that was still burning strong, she rubbed her arms through the thick sleeves of the sweatshirt she'd dug out of her backpack when the sun had first started to sink below the tree line, she smiled just a little.  Sometimes she had to wonder if there was anything that the man couldn't do . . .

"How long . . . umm . . ."

Valerie blinked and shifted her gaze away from Evan, breaking into a friendly smile when she met Imelda's probing eyes.  The young woman seemed to be deep in thought at the moment, struggling to remember the words she'd learned, or so it seemed.  "You . . . You are married, yes?  Much time?"

Valerie's smile faltered for a moment as she remembered a second too late that Evan had said that he hadn't told their impromptu guests that they weren't married.  "Oh . . . Uh, not . . . not very long," Valerie heard herself saying.  After all, Imelda didn't seem to have a very strong grasp of the English language, and trying to explain things would probably not be worth the effort, all things considered.

Imelda giggled, her eyes shining in the dancing firelight.  "He is a sexy man, no?"

For some reason, Imelda's question caught Valerie off guard.  Sure, she knew he was a good looking man, but to hear it put so bluntly?  "O-Oh . . . Y-Yes," she murmured, cheeks pinking despite her resolve not to do any such thing.

"Not as sexy as you are, baby," Evan quipped as he slipped the mug of coffee into her hands once more.

Heaving a little sigh, Valerie refrained from comment.  Didn't it just figure that he'd heard her answer?  Somehow, she had the feeling that she was going to live to regret that . . .

Imelda grinned happily and suddenly clapped her hands before launching into something in very rapid Spanish that Valerie didn't have a hope of understanding.  Evan must have, though, because he chuckled before casting Valerie a rather suspect glance and answering the woman.

Intercepting Valerie's questioning glance, Evan's grin widened.  "She wants to take some pictures," he explained, looking not unlike the cat that ate the canary.  "She's an artist, and she offered to do a painting of us, so she wants some pictures for reference."

A picture wasn't so bad, was it?  Valerie opened her mouth to say as much, but Imelda was quicker.  During Evan's explanation, she'd dug a very nice camera out of her backpack.  "A . . . romantic picture," she said in hesitant English.  "How do you say . . .?  Oh!  Kiss!  Kiss, kiss!"

"Ki—?" Valerie started to blurt, only to be cut off when Evan caught her hands and hauled her to her feet.  "I-I-I don't think—"

"It's for art, V," Evan insisted as he drew her close, his lips hovering just breaths away from hers.

"Evan, I—"

And he kissed her.

The touch of his lips against hers was electrifying, an instant war against any kind of resistance she might have wanted to offer.  Warm, gentle, yet unsettling, just the same, the moment could have lasted forever, but wasn't nearly long enough, either.  The whisper of a promise that couldn't be heard, the gentleness that he tried so hard to hide . . . it was all there in his kiss, in his touch, in his very being . . .

As though from far away, she could feel her knees give, couldn't help herself as she melted against him, clinging to the front of his shirt, unable to do anything to save herself—if she wanted to be saved, at all.  Maybe he could sense her weakness, because he drew her closer, close enough that she could feel the pounding of his heart—strangely erratic and harsh—against her, using his body to offer her the support she couldn't muster for herself.

The sweetness of his touch was beautiful, as though he were afraid that he'd hurt her if he held her too tightly, he seemed to fold himself around her as his lips flickered over hers time and again in the softest of kisses, the most delicate of caresses.  Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could discern the sound of the camera as Imelda clicked away.  It didn't matter, did it?  Oh, maybe it would later, but once—only for once . . .  Maybe it was okay . . .




-Evan-


"Somehow, I feel as though we got the short end of the stick," Antonio remarked as he settled against the log and stretched his legs out toward the fire.

Evan chuckled but didn't argue with him.  He'd kind of thought the same thing, too, but hell, what could he do about that?  It was a lot cooler tonight than it had been thus far, so it only made sense to let the girls sleep in the tent with the small safety heater.  Evan had bought it, but they hadn't used it yet—it only held enough fuel to work for one night, at best.  They hadn't really needed it, though.  After all, Evan did so love to make sure that Valerie was warm, after all . . .

"Eh, it's only for one night, right?" Evan drawled.

Antonio chuckled and took his time, sipping his coffee.  "One night that feels like an eternity.  You agree, no?"

Letting out a deep breath, Evan slowly shook his head.  "Keh!  You don't know the half of it," he muttered, more to himself than to Antonio.

He'd thought that the kiss was a good idea at the time.  Well, okay, that wasn't exactly true.  He did know that the kiss had the potential to be a bad idea.  Historically speaking, kissing Valerie just didn't tend to lead to the best of outcomes, now did it?  Never mind that she wasn't acting weird or anything, which did mean that he was making progress on some level, sure, but . . .

But damned if he could rightfully convince his body that nothing else was on the table, so to speak.  Oh, he was under a very careful sense of control at the moment.  That didn't mean that he wouldn't snap like a spring wound too tightly if he wasn't careful.  Damn it.

How the hell could she turn him completely inside out without even trying?

'Don't go there, Roka.'

He heaved an inward sigh.  Yeah, he supposed he already knew that answer, didn't he?

"How long have the two of you been together?" Antonio asked, breaking into Evan's thoughts.

"Not that long, really," Evan ventured with a shrug.  "But it feels like I've known her forever."

"As though a part of you has always yearned for her, no?  And then you found her."

Scratching his chin, Evan stifled a sigh.  "Sounds about right."

Antonio chuckled, pulling a rather rumpled pack of cigarettes out of his breast pocket.  Catching the bemused look on Evan's face, he grinned.  "Imelda hates these," he admitted as he shook one out and offered it to Evan.  Evan declined with a quick flick of his hand, and Antonio grasped it between his lips to tug it free.  "I think she can forgive me this once."

"Everything got wet but those?" Evan couldn't help asking.

Antonio grinned as he lit the cigarette.  "I landed on my back," he allowed with a shrug.

Evan chuckled again but trailed off when Valerie pushed back the tent flap and ducked outside.  When she caught his gaze, she smiled and wandered over, straightening her arms out, catching the cuffs of her sweatshirt over the heels of her hands as though she were cold.  "It's too cold in there," she explained as she sank down next to Evan.  "Figured I'd be warmer out here with you than I would be in there . . . Imelda seemed pretty cold, too," she went on, holding up her cell phone before holding it out toward Antonio.  They'd remembered shortly after the photo-op that there was a translation app on her phone, and since then, she'd been able to talk to them a little easier than before.  The translation kicked in, and Antonio smiled as he got to his feet and paused long enough to kiss Valerie on either cheek before ambling off toward the tent.

"Scoot over, Roka," she ordered without preamble after Antonio stepped around her.

"Oh, absolutely," Evan agreed, slipping an arm around her to pull her a little closer against his side.  "You want a cup of coffee?"

"Maybe in a little bit," she said, unconsciously tucking herself neatly against his side.

"You know, those safety heaters got pretty good reviews, I'd read," Evan ventured.  "It's not warm enough for you in there?"

She shrugged.  "It wasn't bad," she admitted casually—a little too casually—"but you're warmer . . . besides, they're newlyweds, right?  It seemed a little weird that they'd spend the night apart."

He kissed her forehead and pulled a blanket off of his backpack to spread over her.  "Ah, so there is a bit of a romantic in you, is there?"

"Occasionally," she allowed, stifling a yawn with the back of her hand.  "You never let me get cold."

There was something in the gentleness of her tone, something completely trusting, completely unguarded, and Evan had to wonder if she knew how she sounded.  In the end, however, he just sighed, tucking the blanket in more securely under her chin before wrapping his arms around her a little tighter.  "And I never will, V."

"Mm . . . I know."

"Do you?"

"Yep . . ."

"How's that?"

She giggled.  "Because you're a good guy, Evan, that's why."

He snorted.  "You need to stop saying stuff like that, woman."

"Why?  It's true."

"It is not," he argued.  "I'm not a good guy.  I'm a nasty guy—a really, really nasty guy.  I'm as nasty as they come."

"You're not, you know," she insisted, her voice taking on a slightly bemused quality.  She was going to fall asleep soon; he just knew it.  "You're a great person—maybe a little misguided sometimes, but a great person, despite your best efforts to prove otherwise."

"That's so not true," he scoffed, rolling his eyes though she couldn't see the expression.  "I'm telling you, if we'd been alone earlier, I'd have had you down on the ground, screaming my name."

She giggled softly.  "You wouldn't have," she countered.  "You're not that kind of guy, even if you try to be."

He sighed.  "Yeah," he agreed almost grudgingly.  "I wouldn't have . . . At least, not till I get that stupid Cracker Jack box ring off your finger, anyway . . ."

"Because you're a nice man," she breathed, her voice growing fainter and fainter with every word, "just like I knew you were."

He snorted and opened his mouth to complain, but snapped it closed when she snuggled against his chest.  Almost like a breath of wind, he could feel her body relax even more, and he didn't have to look to know that she was already asleep.


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A/N:
'Little Lies' by Fleetwood Mac originally appeared on the 1987 release, Tango in the Night.  Copyrighted to Christine McVie and Eddy Quintela.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Nice man, my ass!
==========
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 180
Chapter 182
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