InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Spanish Lights ( Chapter 184 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'When the lights go down in the city ...
'And the sun shines on the bay
'Do I wanna be there in my city ...?'

-'Lights' by Journey.


-Valerie-


"So then Bubby came running into the room in a pair of boxer shorts, chasing Morio, and I gotta tell you, I swear to God I didn't know he could move that fast."

Valerie laughed as she and Evan wandered through the Parque de Atenas.  As beautiful as the park had to be during the day, she had to appreciate the understated serenity of the night.  "So you're saying that this cousin of yours, Morio . . . He's as big a trouble maker as you are."

Evan chuckled and gave a careless shrug.  "Almost," he agreed.  "He tries."

She shook her head as Evan took her hand, leading her toward the left when the path under their feet split.  "Not nearly as hard as you do, right?"

He didn't deny it, but he did wink at her.

Pulling the shawl a little tighter around her shoulders and holding it in place with her free hand, she stole a glance at Evan and smiled.  In the wan light reflecting off the surface of the fountain in the distance, he seemed different from the man she'd come to know, and maybe it was the tuxedo, but she rather doubted that.

He'd sat so quietly, watched the actors so intently from the private booth in the famous Teatro Real, absorbing the tragedy as it unfolded . . . She hadn't missed the suspect brightness in his gaze as Zaira had ended, and even as she wiped away a tear of her own, she smiled when he turned toward her, when he shot her a precarious, almost shy little grin, his eyes as bright as hers had to be, as he held out a crisp, white handkerchief . . .

"That was a beautiful opera," she said as her reverie faded away.

"Mm," he intoned.  "The first time I saw that one was just after I'd moved to the city.  Met this girl at a little club near the townhouse, and it just so happened that she was in the cast—Well, she was an understudy . . . Anyway, she invited me."  He laughed suddenly, a soft sound that was warm with only a hint of incredulity belying it.  "She probably never thought I'd actually show up . . ."

"And I suppose that's why you can appreciate the opera?  Because of that girl?" Valerie asked, her tone more amused than accusing.

"Nope," he replied with an easy shrug, stopping beside the fountain, letting go of her hand in favor of shoving his hands into his pockets as he stared out over the ripples that ebbed away from the arcing water.  "Mama took me to see Oberon when I was . . . ten?  Eleven . . .?"

She raised an eyebrow and slowly shook her head despite the smile toying with the corners of her lips.  "Kind of young to get started on opera, weren't you?"

Again, he shrugged, as though it was of no consequence.  "I've always loved music," he reminded her gently.  "Never mattered to me as long as there were words I could understand—as long as I could sing it."

And that made sense, too, didn't it?  "Can you sing opera?"

He chuckled.  "I was classically trained, if that's what you mean.  Took some lessons when I was a pup—then I discovered rock n' roll."

"Voice lessons?"

"Yeah, some . . . then I took some more in college."

"So why didn't you become an opera singer instead of a rockstar?" she teased, leaning closer to him, savoring the warmth that radiated off him in much the same way that the water ebbed toward the edge of the fountain.

"A lot of it is just voice control," he explained to her.  "Besides, there's more freedom in rock than there is in opera."  He trailed off, his expression taking on a more thoughtful lilt, and he finally shot her a rather cheesy grin.  "And rockstars get more pussy than opera singers."

Rolling her eyes, Valerie snorted indelicately.  "I should have known.  Such a pervert . . ."

His laughter was soft, and he slipped an arm around her waist.  "It's true though," he said between chuckles.  "You know, half the time, I don't think the girls give a great goddamn, who you are.  As long as you're famous . . ."

"Is that really what you think?" she countered gently.  "You don't think those girls take one look at you and find you incredibly hot?  You don't honestly think that it's just your name that they're after, do you?"

"Some of them . . . Adding the name, 'Zel Roka' to the list?  I mean, c'mon, V . . . Makes for a helluva tell-all, don't you think?" He shot her a sidelong glance, a hint of an enigmatic grin quirking his lips.  "What about you?"

She snorted but smiled just a little.  "We have yet to sleep together," she reminded him dryly.

He chuckled—an easy sort of sound that blended into the serenity of the night.  "Yet?  I like that . . ."

"Forget it, rockstar," she quipped.  "I know you better."

His chuckle was warm, vibrant.  "Probably," he admitted quietly, and then he sighed.  "You probably know me better than just about anyone ever has."

His admission surprised her, and for a moment, she couldn't reply.  Sure, she figured that she knew him fairly well, but to hear him say that?  It wasn't something she was expecting; not at all . . . "I . . . I do?"

Chuckling again, Evan squatted down beside the water's edge, forearms resting on his knees.  "You can't tell me you didn't know that."

She considered that as she stared out over his head at the glowing sprays of water.  "I thought I knew you pretty well," she said slowly, thoughtfully.  "I guess I just took it for granted that Maddy knew you better than anyone."

"Well, there are some things about me that Maddy doesn't even know," he said with a shrug, as though it was the simplest thing in the world.  "Things I've never told her . . ."

"But you've told me?"

He nodded almost vaguely.  "Yeah."

The soft click of her heels against the flagstone path was the only real sound for a moment as Valerie paced a few feet away and back again.  "Like what?"

Pushing himself to his feet once more, Evan let out a deep breath as he turned to face her once more.  "Just stuff . . . Stuff about Cain . . . Stuff about me . . ."

Somehow, that didn't surprise her, either.  It wasn't that he was trying to keep anything from Madison, per se, but he just didn't like to think about those things.  At least, that was the easiest way to rationalize things in her head, but . . . but was that really all there was to it?  It was true; she didn't doubt that, but those things that he didn't like to talk about . . . As long as Evan and Madison had known each other, he'd never told her . . .?

But then, maybe that wasn't so hard to understand.  After all, she'd never told Madison about her childhood, had she, and even if she wanted to think that it was just because it had never come up, she knew better.  She'd told Evan all that stuff, and she'd done it because  . . . because he was her best friend.


-Evan-


"You know, I think this is the first time I've actually wandered around Madrid," Evan ventured as he and Valerie strolled along the street, illuminated by the golden glow of the many lights space along the walk and the streetlamps high over head.  People milling around the doors of a myriad of clubs that lined the boulevard as women of the night called out to passersby from the windows of the brothels that punctuated the area all combined to create a low hum, a steady wash of frenetic energy that Evan could feel just as surely as he could feel his own heartbeat.

Glancing at Valerie, he couldn't help but smile.  She could feel it, too, the electricity that seemed to emanate from the sidewalk below their feet.  Late hour shops, closing up for the night behind the clean shades and banked windows of the storefronts while the steady white noise seemed to reverberate louder and louder—the pulse of the city . . .

She was vibrant, she was beautiful, and the way those amazing hazel eyes of her shone in the fabricated brightness was enough to make the breath catch in his throat.  Lips stained a deep red, skin translucent, glowing in the haze of the lamps that lined the path, inviting him to touch her, and still he hung back.  Why did he feel like she'd dissolve right before his eyes if he were to reach out, stroke her cheek . . .?

Yet the flutter of her pulse resounded in his ears, blending with the beat of the night: an erratic rhythm as unpredictable as the figures that moved into and out of the fathomless shadows between the old buildings.  If she had any idea just how good she looked in that moment, he'd give up music forever—and that was something he positively adored about her.  It didn't matter if she was going for a morning jog through Central Park or if she was sitting in one of the best restaurants in the world, there was a classic beauty, an honest radiance, about her that reached out from deep with and surrounded her with a glow that could transcend the dullest atmosphere.

"You mean you and Dieter never managed to get out on your own here?"

Evan chuckled, offering a nonchalant shrug as they ambled along the street.  "Still allowed in the city, aren't I?" he quipped.  Then he sighed.  "Maybe we did . . . If we did, though, we were too fucked up to know where the hell we were . . ."

She didn't seem surprised.  "Always a troublemaker," she mused despite the smile on her face.

"Yeah, well . . ."

His thought was cut off by the soft beeping of his cell phone, and for a moment, he considered ignoring it, but he knew damn well that it wouldn't do any good.  Stifling a sigh, he pulled the device out of his pocket and hit the 'connect' button.  "Hey, Mikey.  How's it going?"

"Can the crap, Roka," the grouchy manager grumbled.  "Where the hell are you?"

Evan chuckled.  He could hear the tell-tale sounds in the background of the gear being set, meaning that the crew was pulling a late-nighter at the venue.  Nice, really.  Most of the time, the gear had to be set the same day as the concert since he tended to play a lot of stadiums and arenas that were well-booked.  "Madrid . . . isn't that where I'm supposed to be?"

"Yeah, about that," he went on, his already grumpy tone taking on a slightly more menacing growl.  "You wouldn't happen to know why the French police would think that there was anything illegal in your gear, now would you?"

He could feel Valerie's gaze on him though he didn't look to confirm it.  Given that Mike was pretty damn pissed off, it wasn't really surprising if she was able to hear some of what was being said.  "Oh, hell . . . Did you get busted?"

Mike heaved a long, drawn-out sigh.  "They found some stuff," he admitted.  "It wasn't in anything directly linked to you, though.  Anyway, don't tell me that you had no idea, because somehow, I just don't believe that."

Evan almost laughed, but he managed to control himself.  "Now, why in the hell would I do something like that, Mikey?  That'd be pretty damn dumb, now wouldn't it?"

"Maybe," Mike retorted dryly.  "But if it gave you a healthy head start, then yeah.  Yeah, I think you would."

Evan did grin at that.  He couldn't help it.  "As long as no one actually got in trouble, then it's all good, right?"

Mike snorted.  "Yeah, well, I didn't say that, now did I?  The tour was slapped with a nice, healthy fine, no thanks to you."

"Aww, relax . . . Even if they did fine me, it wouldn't be the first time, and it's no cash out of your pocket, right?"

"Yeah, well, we don't really want or need to be stopped every time we cross a border, do we?  And if that happened, you'd be slapped with a lot more fines than just this one."

It was all stuff that Evan had heard before.  Too bad he also knew well enough that a lot of the authority figures that Mike was so worried about would be more than happy to let them off with a warning—if asked nicely enough . . . "They're not going to do that," Evan pointed out reasonably instead.  "They'd end up having to target every band that toured through, and that would be a hell of a pain in the ass, don't you think?"

"Never mind that, Roka," Mike snapped.  "Just get your happy ass over to the hotel.  The last thing I need is for you to get picked up for something stupid tonight."

"Sorry," Evan replied lightly.  "But I promise that you won't have to worry about bailing me out of jail or anything."

Mike snorted indelicately.  "And I assume V's with you."

"'Course she is," Evan replied.  "Just got in today, actually."

"Then tell me why you haven't checked into the hotel," Mike challenged.

"We're staying at another hotel," Evan said simply.  "Don't worry.  I'll be there tomorrow."

"Yeah, and another thing: don't forget that you have a press conference at ten o'clock tomorrow morning, followed by sound check and a couple interviews . . . You know you blew off a couple of ride-alongs, right?"

"Oh, did I?" Evan asked a little too innocently.

"Not buying," Mike pointed out.  "Where are you staying then?"

"None of your business, Michael," Evan told him.  "I'll be there in the morning, okay?"

Heaving a sigh designed to let the errant rockstar know exactly how put-upon he was feeling, Mike grunted something unintelligible.  "Oh, yeah, and one more thing while I've got you," he went on suddenly.

"What's that?" Evan asked, wondering briefly if Mike would notice if he hung up on him.

"Call your mother."

He blinked.  "Mama?"

Mike snorted.  "Yeah, your mama," he retorted.  "She's worried sick."

"She is?" Evan echoed.

"Of course she is!  You missed the ride-alongs, remember?  One of them let it slip that Zel Roka was missing, and before I could call your parents, they called me."

"Aww, fuck," Evan grumbled, grimacing as he stopped under a street lamp.  "You told her I was all right, didn't you?"

Mike barked out a terse laugh.  "You kidding?  How the hell was I supposed to do that when I didn't know where the hell you were?"

"Thanks, Mikey, you nutsack."

"Well, if it makes you feel better, I did tell her that I thought you were okay—by the way, isn't your mama pregnant?  So stress—like the stress of worrying about her darling son—isn't good for her, now is it?"

No doubt about it.  Mike was definitely enjoying this, and why wouldn't he?  After worrying about where Evan was for the last week, of course he would love to give just a little bit of it right back to him . . . "I get it; I get it," he grumbled.  "Bye."

The last thing he heard before he ended the call was the sound of Mike's laughter.  It sounded suspiciously like a death knell . . .

"Everything okay?" Valerie asked, pulling the shawl a little tighter around her shoulders against the brisk night air.

Evan wrinkled his nose, his finger poised above the second number in speed dial.  "Yeah, it's fine," he said as he pressed the button and lifted the receiver to his ear.

It rang exactly three times before Gin's voice greeted him.  Breathless, anxious, maybe a little worried, she sounded, and Evan winced inwardly.  "Evan?  Sweetie?  Is that you?"

"Hi, Mama," he replied, hoping that his casual tone was enough to diffuse the apprehension in her tone.

"Oh, thank heavens!" she breathed, and he could hear her plop down, probably on a bar stool in the kitchen.  "Is everything all right?  Those reports said that you were missing . . ."

"Nah, it was just a misunderstanding," he assured her.  "I'm sorry I made you worry."

"Oh, no," Gin hurried on to say.  "I mean, I would have known if you were in real danger, wouldn't I?  After all, I am your mama.  It's just that they were saying that no one had heard from you for a few days, and—"

"Baby girl, is that that little miscreant you call a son?" Evan heard Cain Zelig's voice interrupt his mother.

"Oh, yes!  But he's fine, Cain, and—"

She was cut off abruptly, and Evan sighed when he heard the telling racket as his father took the phone—probably forcibly—from Gin.  "Evan, is everything okay?"

"Yes, Cain, everything's just fine," Evan replied evenly.

Cain grunted.  "You weren't kidnapped or mugged or forced to perform lewd acts with animals?"

Evan almost laughed—almost.  "No," he said.  "What kind of lewd acts?"

"Never mind," Cain growled.  "Need I remind you that your mother should not be subjected to unnecessary worry, especially right now?  Do you have any idea what that kind of thing can do to her in her present condition?"

He winced inwardly.  No doubt about it, ol' Cain wasn't pulling any punches, was he . . .? "That wasn't my intention; I promise," Evan replied.

This time, Cain heaved a sigh.  "It doesn't matter if you intended to worry her or not, Evan.  The point is, you did.  A lot."

"Sorry," he muttered, hating that he felt like little more than a pup—hating the idea that he'd caused Gin any kind of stress at all.

"I know," Cain said at length.  "Don't do it again, all right?"

"Tell Mama that I apologize."

Cain grunted.  "Yeah, and take it easy on Mike, can't you?  You're going to give the poor bastard a heart attack."

"Yeah, I can't say I'm too sorry for that," Evan allowed.  "Besides, he's a big boy, isn't he?  He can take himself."

"Fine . . . do me a favor and say bye to your mama.  She could use a nap, and she won't until she gets to talk to you a little longer."

Evan finally chuckled as Cain handed the phone back to Gin once more.  "Sweetie, Cain wants me to go lay down a while, but I wanted to hear your voice again first!  I don't suppose you could squeeze in a little time to come up here sometime soon?  Cain says that New York City isn't good for me right now."

He didn't miss the petulant lilt to Gin's sing-song voice, and he smiled.  "I promise, Mama, I'll see what I can do, even if it's only for a day or so."

She perked right up at that.  "Oh, okay!  Even just a day's fine with me!  I know you're so busy!  And if you can make it, can't you bring Valerie with you?  When are you going to marry that girl, Evan?"

His smile escalated into a warm chuckle.  "Working on it," he assured her.

"All right . . . I love you, Evan!"

"Love you, too, Mama," he said.

The connection died, and Evan let out a deep breath as he stowed the device in his pocket once more and resumed his stride while Valerie fell into step beside him.

"Everything okay?" she finally asked at length, concern touching the tone of her voice.

Evan shot her a grin but kept moving.  "Yeah," he said with an offhanded shrug.  "Mama was just a little worried . . . saw some reports on television about Zel Roka's mysterious disappearance."

He could sense Valerie's grimace rather than actually seeing it.  "Oh, that can't have been good," she muttered ruefully.

"Well . . . she said she'd have known if something was really wrong," he said, purposefully downplaying his mother's concern.  "Mother's intuition, I guess."

She didn't look mollified by his off the cuff answer.  "She's doing all right, isn't she?"

Evan stopped, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he turned to look at Valerie.  Worrying at her bottom lip, she looked as though she were feeling guilty about their stolen time together.  "She's fine," he assured her with a half-smile.  "She invited us up to visit."

"Us?"

His grin widened.  "Yeah, us.  How about it, Counselor?  When we get back, we could make a day of it . . ."

She stared at him for a few moments, her eyes dark, owlish in the wan light.  She seemed to be probing Evan's face for something, but she finally smiled, albeit dimly.  "Just a day?"

He made a face.  "I'd love to go longer, but there's a lot of stuff going on . . . Mikey's scheduled shooting a new video, a couple local concerts in the city,  add to that, your brother's coming up to lay down those tracks for your dad's song . . . not to mention that I've got to get ready for the European dates this summer . . ."

"Going on tour again?"

He shrugged and slipped an arm around her, leading her down the street once more.  "Not a tour; not really . . . Mikey didn't schedule a full tour because of all that jail business before, but he did book a few dates here and there."

Valerie nodded slowly.  "That makes sense, but why didn't he fill in more dates after the charges were dropped?"

He chuckled.  "Well, he did mention wanting to spend a little more time at home this summer," he ventured.  "Guess Bambi laid down the law.  Wants him to spend a little more time at home with her and Lola, and—"

"Lola?" Valerie interrupted.

"Yeah, Lola—his daughter."

Her mouth dropped open for a few seconds before she snapped it closed again.  "Their daughter's named Lola?  Is she a going to be a stripper one day?"

Evan laughed.  "With a mama like Bambi?  You never can tell . . ."

She rolled her eyes but laughed.  "So what does that have to do with your touring schedule?"

"Eh . . . I suppose if I'd wanted him to add some shows, he would.  After all, he doesn't have to be with me all the time.  Kind of glad he didn't, though.  I'd rather be closer to home while Mama's pregnant."

That statement earned him a very tender, very radiant smile, and he blinked as that smile widened by degrees.  "Why doesn't that surprise me?" she teased as she reached up to brush his bangs out of his eyes with a gentle hand.

He grimaced but his grin widened.  "Cut it out, woman, or you'll ruin my rep," he grumbled, catching her hand and giving her fingers a quick kiss before pulling them away from his face.

"Oh, I don't know, Roka," she quipped, tugging on her hand until he fell into step with her once more.  "I think the idea that you love your mom so much is pretty damn hot."

He faltered for a moment and shot Valerie a quick glance.  She was smiling rather dreamily as she stared up at the sky so high overhead, but she didn't look at him.  "You . . . You do?"

She laughed softly, the sounds blending in with the ambient sounds of the city.  "Yeah," she replied quietly, her gaze shifting to the side to meet his though she didn't turn her head.  "I do."


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
Teatro Real: Madrid's main opera house.
Zaira is an opera written by Vincenzo Bellini and first performed in 1829.  Zaira is based on Voltaire's Zaire, the story of a Christian woman who is torn between her family and her Muslim love.

'Lights' by Journey originally appeared on the 1978 release, Infinity.  Copyrighted to Steve Perry and Neal Schon.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
Mama's boys are hot
==========
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 183
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