InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Relation ( Chapter 187 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'People are strange when you're a stranger ...
'Faces look ugly when you're alone
'Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
'Streets are uneven when you're down …'

-'People are Strange' by The Doors.


-Valerie-


"So who was that?"

Valerie looked up and took the glass of wine that Evan held over her shoulder as she dropped her cell phone onto the sofa beside her.  "It was Daddy," she replied.  "He said that they're ready to do the first blood work-up this weekend."

"Oh, yeah?" Evan said, his expression brightening as he dropped onto the sofa.  "That's good, right?  How many in the series?"

She sighed.  "They want to start with four of them, but this one is going to be harder on him because they're going to do some other testing, too—tissue samples and stuff.  The others should just be blood samples—no big deal . . . Well, that's what he said."

She could feel his eyes on her, and for some reason, she stubbornly avoided meeting his gaze.  "I'm sure he'll be okay," Evan said quietly, slipping an arm around her and pulling her over against his side.   "Those tests will help the doctors see if there's anything at all they can do to help him."

"I know," she replied, finally shooting Evan a scowl.  She was well aware of how important the new testing was going to be for his future treatment.  That didn't mean that she wasn't concerned.  The blood tests would be fine, sure.  After all, drawing a few vials of blood wasn't a big deal.  The tissue samples, however, were a totally different story.  Collecting those was going to be a lot more invasive, and with her father's already compromised body, any kind of procedure carried a certain amount of risk.

They hadn't been home from Spain for more than a couple days when Evan had called to tell her that he'd been able to get Jack an appointment with one of the best doctors in the United States.  It just so happened that George Arnold was good friends with Evan's cousin, Isabelle, and she'd gone out of her way to speak to him about Jack's situation.  Isabelle had also told Evan to remind Valerie that there was really nothing that could be done to save Jack's life outside of a transplant, but there were some treatments, mostly experimental, that had showed significant promise in improving one's quality of life, and, in many cases, could extend the patient's life to some extent.  Dr. Arnold ordered the testing so that he could get a fresh look at Jack's current condition.

Letting out a sigh, Valerie shook her head.  "He asked me to try to convince Kaci Lea to fly up here with Garret this weekend," she finally said—the real thing that weighed heavily on her mind.  Garret was coming to record the song—her father's song.  "He's afraid that she'll get her hopes up too high if she finds out about Dr. Arnold . . . but Mom said that she thinks he's also worried that he might need a day or two to recover from the testing, even though he won't admit as much."

Evan nodded, as though the thought had already occurred to him.  Maybe it had.  He was pretty damn perceptive, after all.  "Can't say I blame him for that," he allowed thoughtfully.  "And he thinks that it's best if Kaci Lea is here instead of there, then . . ." He nodded slowly, as though it made perfect sense.  Staring at her for another long moment, he narrowed his eyes.  "You don't think she'll come."  It wasn't a question.

Valerie leaned back against Evan's arm and stared into his eyes for a moment.  "I'm not exactly her favorite person," she reminded him.  "If I ask her, she'll never agree."

Evan looked like he wanted to argue, but he must have agreed on some level because that argument never came, but he did try to smile.  It was a weak and pathetic attempt at best, but she had to give him credit .  "You want me to talk to her?" he asked.

Valerie made a face.  "Well, Garret said he was going to try, so hopefully he can convince her.  If that doesn't work, though . . ."

She didn't have to finish her statement.  Evan understood, and he nodded.  "Just let me know," he told her with a grin.  "After all, they say I have a way with the ladies."

Rolling her eyes, Valerie smiled and leaned up to kiss Evan on the cheek.  "Stay away from my sister, you pervert, or I'll throw you in jail myself."

Evan laughed, looking unaccountably pleased.  "She's going to be a hottie one day," he predicted, scratching his chin as he pondered.  "She might even be hotter than you."

"Hotter than me?  Probably, which is all the more reason why you need to keep your dirty old hands away from her," Valerie warned despite the smile that was still on her lips.

"I don't think it's my hands you need to worry about," he teased.

Valerie shook her head and narrowed her eyes to give Evan a warning look.  It only made him chuckle.  Then she sighed again.  He was teasing—at least, he'd better be teasing, so there wasn't any point in dragging it out more, anyway.  "Thanks for talking to Isabelle," she said quietly.  "Your family's connections are a little scary."

"Yeah, but it's a good thing, too," he reminded her, though he didn't look very pleased.  "I wish that there was more I could do."

"I know . . . you've said so a thousand times.  It's all right.  You've done more than enough."

He didn't look like he believed her.  He also looked like he was at a loss as to what he could do now, and for some reason, as comforting as it was that he cared so much, it bothered her, too.  Maybe it was just in his nature to want to help people—he got that from his parents—but she hated that he would feel guilty over something over which he had no more control than she did.

Leaning forward to set her wine glass on the coffee table, Valerie cleared her throat and willed herself to give him a bright smile.  "It'll be fine," she assured him, hoping that she sounded a lot more confident than she felt.

"Yeah," he allowed, his deep blue eyes sparkling, flickering with an independent light as he slouched back against the sofa.  She couldn't exactly read his mind, no, but she didn't have to.  It was all there in his gaze.  "Yeah, it will be."


-Garret-


"Hey, you got a minute?"

Kaci Lea glanced at the doorway as she refreshed her grip on the pen in her hand.  Spotting Garret leaning into the room, she dismissed him just as quickly before turning her attention back to the paper she'd been jotting down notes on.  "All right, but make it quick.  I've got a paper due for chemistry, and I want to get it done."

He grinned since he'd figured he'd get that kind of a response out of his bookworm sister.  "See?  That's why I don't mess with the smart classes," he quipped, slipping into the room and closing the door as he sank down on the edge of her neatly made bed.  "They make you do reports and crap."

That earned him a very stern look, but even that didn't last very long before she went back to the task at hand.  "Just because you think you're going to be some rockstar doesn't mean that you'll make it," she reminded him cryptically.  "If you fail, you're going to end up bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly downtown."

"No way," he scoffed, dismissing that thought before it had any kind of chance of taking shape.  "That's why I'm going to New York City this weekend."

She frowned at her notes and flipped a few pages in the composition book she was using.  "You'll do fine," she said absently, licking her finger to aide in the page-flipping.

"Yeah, about that," he drawled, quickly licking his lips in anticipation of the argument he figured was about to begin.  "Come with me."

"I've got to study," she reminded him mildly.  "I don't want to be a rockstar, and even if I did, I don't have the biggest rockstar on the plant to help me out."

"He'd help you if he thought you had talent," Garret replied simply, grabbing a rather ratty old teddy bear—Buttons, Kaci Lea had named it years ago—and tossing it idly in the air a few times.  "Anyway, it's not about that.  You can't tell me that going to New York City doesn't sound like fun to you."

"Don't break your arm as you pat yourself on the back," she muttered under her breath.   Garret grinned.  "It does sound fun," she went on.  "Unfortunately, getting good grades will get me into a good school, and getting into a good school will get me a great job, and getting a great job will make me a lot happier than blowing school off to go there for a weekend."

"Exactly!" he interrupted, grimacing when he tossed Buttons too high.  The bear smacked into the ceiling, only to be snatched neatly out of the air a moment later when Kaci Lea leaned back in her chair long enough to retrieve the beloved stuffed animal.  "Sorry," he said with a cheesy grin.

"Stop bullying Buttons around," she scolded, cradling the teddy bear against her chest, which only made his grin widen.

"C'mon," he coaxed.  "It'll be a lot of fun.  There're tons of stores there, right?  I'm sure V would be happy to take you shopping.  She's a girl.  Girls like that kind of crap."

Kaci Lea's frown deepened, and she let the teddy bear fall to her lap, busying herself by fussing with the black beads their mother had sewn on long ago when the original glass eyes had fallen off.  It was a nervous habit; Garret had seen her do it a million times before.   It also meant that she was considering, well, something.

"You . . . you like her a lot, don't you?" she finally asked in a voice so quiet that Garret almost missed it.  She was trying so hard to look as though she was indifferent, but every single bone in her body was terse, tense.

"Yeah, I do," he said simply.  "You would, too, if you give her a chance."

He could see it in her face, couldn't he?  The conflicting emotions that were so raw and ragged in her.  Garret frowned, stifling a sigh as half-forgotten memories flickered to life in his head.

"Aww, that's a nice picture, Kaci . . . Is that us?"

"Yeah!  That's you and Daddy and Garret and me and Valene!"

"Why doesn't she have a face?"

"I don't 'member what she looks like!  What does she look like, Mommy?"

The laughter that echoed like ghostly shadows that weren't unkind as their mother described Valerie's pretty blonde hair, her bright hazel eyes . . . Kaci Lea's chubby hand as she carefully chose the right colored crayons, filling in those details she didn't know herself . . .

"So what do you want for your birthday tomorrow, little girl?"

A brilliant smile; a dimple carved deep into her left cheek . . . "I want a party, Daddy!  D'you think Valene can come . . .?"

And the sadness in a father's expression that was so lost in the face of a child's excitement . . . "She's probably busy . . ."

Tiny fists braced on her father's knee so she could lean in closer . . . "But it's my birthday!  So she can come!"

She'd waited all day the next day, wearing the pretty little pink sundress that she'd picked out at the dollar store for her birthday.  Standing by the screen door, staring out and the dirt road in front of the trailer . . . little hands pressed against the dirty gray netting with all the hope in the world in her eyes, waiting for the big sister that never came . . .

The doll she was given for Christmas that year—a pretty doll with a Christmas dress and a sprig of holly in her shining yellow hair . . . She'd named the doll Valene and had taken it everywhere with her.  He hadn't realized when she'd stopped dragging the doll around, but he'd noticed it years later, tossed carelessly in a box of forgotten things that Kaci Lea had set out for the Good Will, eyes half-closed, the permanent little smile on her face and looking somehow sadder and more horrifying than Garret could credit . . .

How many memories did she have?  How often had she longed to meet the sister that everyone else told her about?  How long did it take before she started to realize that she might not meet Valerie, after all . . .? Did it really matter that it wasn't really Valerie's fault?  In Kaci Lea's mind, she hadn't done anything to deserve to be cast off like that, and, while Garret agreed, he knew.  There were two sides of it.  There was always two sides to everything, and he didn't have to be brilliant to know what Valerie's defense really was: her reason, her beliefs.  Valerie, more than anyone, remembered the bad times—the really bad times . . .

And Kaci Lea didn't remember those, either.  Garret knew that damn well, and he was glad of it, too.  If only Valerie hadn't had to see the things she'd seen, and Garret didn't even try to delude himself.  If the incidents he remembered were ugly, he couldn't even imagine what she'd experienced.  True enough, Jack had stopped doing drugs and drinking just before Garret was born.  But there were a few times that Garret remembered . . . Jack had slipped a few times, and the fights had been terrible.  Garret could remember hiding under tables while his parents yelled at each other: hateful things, horrible things.  Once it had gone so far that Garret had darted between his parents, screaming and sobbing for Daddy to leave Mommy alone . . . He'd gotten in the way of a slap meant for Rhonda.  His eye had been swollen for a couple days, and Rhonda had kicked Jack out for what had felt like forever.  In reality, Garret was too small to remember how long it had been.  Kaci Lea was just a baby then, so of course she didn't, either.  Maybe there had been some other incidents after that, but they weren't as bad as that one time.  When Rhonda let Jack back into the house again, he'd gone to Garret, swallowed hard a few times, and croaked out an apology.  Garret only realized later that the apology that Jack had offered to him had been accompanied by tears . . .

The thing was, if Garret could remember those things, then just what the hell did Valerie remember?  And sure, he could understand Kaci Lea's lifetime of disappointment over wishing for the big sister that never came.  Still, to be completely honest, if Valerie's memories were as bad as he suspected they were, why the hell would she have wanted to come back home?

It left him in a completely awkward situation, really.  He could understand both of his sisters, and yet, he couldn't explain anything to them, either.  Was Kaci Lea afraid of getting used to having the sister she'd wished to have for so long?  Maybe she thought that if she let herself care, she'd only be disappointed, and as much as he wished he could, there wasn't much Garret could say or do to convince Kaci Lea that it wasn't going to happen.  Even so . . .

"I'm glad," Kaci Lea said at length, cutting through Garret's musings in a quiet, almost sad tone of voice.  "And I'm glad that you're going to record Daddy's song, too."

"Then come with me," he coaxed.

"I wasn't invited," she said pointedly.  "Besides, I have homework."

"I'm inviting you now," he corrected.  "Come on."

She rolled her eyes and got up, pushing him aside so she could set Buttons back on her bed.  "That's hardly an invitation," she reminded him.  "You're going to stay with Evan, aren't you?  I can't just invite myself to stay with him, too."

"He won't care," Garret scoffed.  "He wanted me to bring you along; he said so."

She shot him a look to let him know that she wasn't buying into his story.  "It's okay, Garret.  Have fun."

"I'm serious," he insisted, leaning forward, steepling his fingers together between his knees.  "It's a big deal, you know?  Well, to me, anyway.  I mean, this whole thing can change my life, and . . . and I really want you to be there, Kase . . ."

He was getting to her.  He could tell by the way she sat, ramrod straight, staring at her notes with a fierce kind of concentration that told him from experience she wasn't actually paying any attention to what she was pretending to be doing at all.  "Aren't you going to be too busy to notice if I'm even there?" she asked.

Garret smiled.  "Like I can ignore your big mouth," he retorted.  "I can always hear you when you're around."

She snorted but rolled her eyes, and finally, she smiled.  "That's not going to score you points," she said, wrinkling her nose.  "Now go away so I can finish my paper, will you?"

Letting out a deep breath, Garret pushed himself to his feet and reached for the door knob again.  "Think about it, okay?"

She shot him a look, but he wasn't entirely sure how to interpret the expression.  "I'll think about it," she replied in a non-committal kind of way.

It was the best he could get out of her, he figured.  He didn't like it, but maybe . . . maybe . . .


-Evan-


"Hello?"

Ev an grinned to himself, idly rubbing his chest with his knuckles as he cast Valerie a smug glance.  "Hey, sweetie.  How's my best girl?"

There was a definite pause on the other end of the phone.  He figured that she was probably trying to decide just what had inspired him to call.  Then again, she wasn't stupid . . . "H-Hi, Evan," she said, her voice sounding a little uncertain, almost trembling.

"Tell me, what's your favorite color?" he went on after a soft chuckle.

"M-My favorite color . . .?" she echoed, obviously not sure where that particular question came from nor why he might be interested in the answer.

"Sure," he went on smoothly.  "I mean, you're coming with Garret this weekend, right? So I figured I'd have one of my guest rooms decked out, just for you."

"Oh, uh . . . W-Well, I hadn't really decided . . . But you don't have to—"

Evan laughed.  "You've got to come, and no sweat.  I want to," he stated in a tone that left little room for argument.  "It's a huge deal for your brother, and I'd love to have you, too.  I'll even stock your fridge with all kinds of junk."

"But I don't expect . . ." she blurted quickly.  "I mean—"

"If you're about to say that you don't want to trouble me, you're not.  There are a ton of things to do here.  You can even be my girl for the weekend, and I guarantee you'll have a great time, okay?"

". . . O . . . Okay . . ." she finally relented.

"Nice . . . so your favorite color . . .?"

She gave a nervous little laugh.  "I like purple," she admitted.

"Purple.  Got it."  Evan's grin widened as Valerie leaned on the counter, arching an eyebrow at him.  He winked, and she rolled her eyes.  "We'll see you Friday night then."

"I-If you're sure," she agreed faintly.

"Absolutely."

"O-Okay . . . Bye."

"Bye bye," he said then dropped his cell phone onto the counter as he turned a very smug look on Valerie.  "All done, baby," he informed her.

"You have no shame at all, do you?" she mused with a shake of her head though the smile on her face widened.  "Man whore."

He didn't deny it.  In fact, he chuckled, which just figured.  "Well, she is gonna by my woman for the weekend, V," he pointed out.  "Try not to be too jealous, okay?  Those kinds of displays are kind of a put-off."

"Jackass," she muttered, tossing a grape from the fruit bowl in the center of the counter at him.

He caught it in his teeth and tilted his head back to let it drop into his mouth.  "Well, I have no patience for doing stupid shit like redecorating bedrooms, so you'll have to do it.  Says her favorite color is purple."

"Because I don't have a full time job so I've got plenty of time to do this for you," Valerie replied dryly.  Then  she laughed.  "Purple, huh?"

Evan nodded.  "That's what she said.  Get whatever you think she'll like; it's on me."

Valerie took the credit card that Evan dug out of his wallet.  "You think I can use this?  I mean, I hardly look like Zel Roka."

He blinked and plucked the card out of her hand.  "Oh, wrong one."

"You have credit cards in Zel Roka's name?" she asked him quizzically as he handed her another one, this one bearing the name, 'Evan Zelig'.

"Sure . . . Can't really let everything get traced back to me, right?  Anyway, if you have trouble using that, just give me a call, and I'll authorize it."

Valerie nodded.  "Thank you . . . and thank you for being nice to my sister, too."

Evan snorted at the understated emotion in Valerie's voice, the sudden and rather suspect brightness just behind her gaze.  "Don't thank me," he quipped.  "I fully intend to make her a part of my harem one day."

Heaving a sigh, Valerie shook her head.  "Only you," she complained, straightening her back, crossing her arms over her chest.  "Only you can take the sweetest moments and turn them into colossal displays of your ass-itude."

His laughter trailed after her as she stomped out of the kitchen.


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A/N:
'People< /b> are Strange' by The Doors originally appeared on the 1967 release, Strange Days.  Copyrighted to The Doors.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
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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 186
Chapter 188
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