InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Comfort ( Chapter 188 )

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


- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'I took a walk down a road ...
'It's the road I was meant to stay
'I see the fire in your eyes
'But a man's gotta make his way …'

-'Coming Home' by Cinderella.


-Valerie-


"This will be your room while you're here . . . I hope you like it.  There are a lot of shades in 'purple'," Valerie said as she waved a hand over the light sensor to bring the room to life, but her gaze was firmly fixed on Kaci Lea's face.

She was trying not to be impressed; Valerie would give her that.  As her gaze flickered around the room, however, the wariness that she hadn't been able to hide since she'd followed Garret out of the airport started to wane, only to be replaced by a very real sense of wonder.  Not surprising, really.  It was the first time that Kaci Lea had been in a house like Evan's.  The panel on the computer flashed to life as a very soft voice said, "Welcome, Kaci Lea."

"If you look at the home screen on there, you can set everything the way you want—the alarm for tomorrow morning if you want, the bed temperature and firmness, the room temperature, the television—even the settings for your shower."  Valerie smiled as Kaci Lea took an involuntary step toward the computer to get a better look.  "In fact, you can set it to draw a bath for you at a certain time, too.  Pretty neat in the morning."

"It does all that?" she asked, unable to hide the wonder in her tone.

Valerie smiled, leaning against the door frame and crossing her arms over her chest.  "Yes, among other things.  Oh, if you want to go out on the balcony, you're going to have to disable the locks.  I wasn't sure if you wanted to or not, so I left them alone."

"Wow . . ."

"I stocked the refrigerator with some of your favorites—Mom and Garret told me what to buy," she said.

Valerie's statement seemed to remind Kaci Lea that the two of them didn't really know one another very well, and she withdrew a little into herself again.  "Oh . . . thanks," she murmured, stepping over to the suitcase that Bone had brought in just a few minutes before.  "The . . . The room's really pretty."

Stifling a sigh, Valerie smiled.  "I'll leave you alone for a while," she said, pushing herself away from the doorframe.  "You can get settled in and rest a little, if you're tired."

Kaci Lea nodded as Valerie closed the door, and she sighed.  No, she really hadn't expected things to be warm and friendly between the two of them, and, all things considered, she figured that everything was going pretty well so far.  Her real hope was that she could get Kaci Lea to talk to her while she was here.  The trouble was, she wasn't sure how to do that without coming across in a way that wouldn't drive her sister in the other direction . . .

'Small steps,' she thought to herself as she loped down the stairs.  Garret was in his room, doing God only knew what, and hopefully Evan would get home sooner rather than later.  He'd said that he wanted to cook dinner—the idea of just what Kaci Lea would think of that made Valerie smile just a little.  He had also said that he wouldn't be out too late, but then, one never could tell when he was doing interviews.

In fact, she was standing in the kitchen as she pondered starting dinner anyway when she heard the front door open and close.  "Hey, V.  Kids get here all right?" Evan asked as he stepped into the room, scratching his obnoxiously orange head of hair as he squeezed one eye closed.

"They did," she told him, shaking her head at the ungodly color.  "You going to go wash that crap out of your hair?"

He shot her a grin as he wandered over to grab a beer out of the drink chiller drawer.  "What?  You don't like it?" he teased.

"You look like a tangerine," she muttered.

He laughed.  "You wanna try to peel me, baby?"

She snorted and strode over to the refrigerator.  "Get one of your groupies to do it for you."

"Ouch," he chuckled, draining half of the beer in one long, lazy gulp.  "Thought you hated it when I got too friendly with my fans," he reminded her.

"A hussy will be a hussy," she shot back.

He laughed again.  She figured he would.  Lucky for her, her face was hidden from him at the moment, so he didn't see the hint of a smile that graced her lips as she reached for the vegetables that had already been washed for the salad as well as a package of chicken breasts that Evan had bagged with a marinade before he'd left the mansion earlier.  "Your sister like her room?"

"She does," Valerie said, nudging the refrigerator door closed with her hip before turning toward the counter once more.  "Of course she does.  She's probably upstairs, messing around with the settings as we speak."

"Cool."

"Hey, Evan," Garret said as he stepped into the kitchen.

Evan grinned without looking up from his task of arranging the chicken on a pan to bake.  "Good flight?"

Garret shrugged and grabbed a Coke out of the chiller drawer.  "It wasn't bad."

"Nice."

Garret's head snapped up suddenly, as though he had just remembered something important.  "Oh, yeah, here," he said, dropping an envelope onto the counter.

Evan washed his hands and reached for it.  "What's this?"

Garret shrugged.  "Dunno.  Dad gave it to me before we left and said to give it to you."  His phone rang, and he broke into a lopsided grin.  "Speak of the damn devil, right?  He probably wants to check up on Kase . . ."

Evan frowned, putting the chicken in the oven with one hand as he stared at the envelope.  Then he tore it open as Garret walked out of the room to answer his phone and pulled out what looked like a credit card, dropping it onto the counter while he unfolded the piece of paper that was enclosed with it.

"What's that?" Valerie asked, leaning across the counter to pick up the card.  'Kaci Lea Duyer' was printed on it.

Evan grinned as he held out the note to her.  "Your dad sent that for your sister.  Spending money."

Valerie turned the card over to read the back as she nodded slowly.  "It's one of those pre-paid cards," she remarked, more to herself than to Evan.  "Wonder how much he put on it . . . They don't have a lot of money to spare . . ."

Evan sighed and plucked the card out of her hand.  "First off, V, what your mom and dad spend money on is their business, and he got a lot of money for that song already, so it shouldn't be a problem.  Second off . . ." he paused for dramatic effect as his goofy grin resurfaced, "let's go check."

She rolled her eyes but laughed, hurrying around the counter as Evan fiddled with the wall panel.  A moment later, he had the account status of the card pulled up on the screen.  "Fifteen hundred.  Not too shabby,"  he mused.

Valerie raised an eyebrow as Evan started keying in something else.  "What are you doing?" she asked, though she already suspected that he was going to add more to it.

"You're taking her shopping tomorrow, right?" he asked with a simple shrug.  "Maddy can drop that much easily on one pair of shoes, and I know you're almost as good as she is, so fifteen hundred won't last more than an hour if Kaci Lea's going with you.  Women are born with the innate ability to spend massive amounts of money—or so I've been told."

Valerie snorted.  "Jerk," she grumbled, eyebrows arching when she saw that he'd matched the amount that Jack had sent.  "I'll add some, too."

Stepping aside, Evan laughed.  Valerie added another fifteen hundred.

Garret strode back into the kitchen but stopped short when he nearly ran into them.  "You're blocking the doorway," Garret remarked dryly.  "What are you doing, anyway?  Hacking your own system?"

Evan chuckled.  "Nah . . . Your dad sent money for Kaci Lea, and we were just adding a little more to it."

Blinking as though he had to consider what Evan had just said, Garret nodded.  "Oh . . . How much did he send her?"

"Fifteen hundred," Evan said.

"Fifteen?" Garret echoed thoughtfully.  "I'll add some, too."

"You don't have to," Valerie assured him with a smile.  "Evan and I both matched it."

Garret nudged Valerie out of the way and keyed in a third funds transfer, this time, from his own account.  "There," he said when he was finished.  "That should keep her busy for a little while . . . though if I know her as well as I think I do, she's going to try to save all of it.  That's what she always does."

"Nope," Evan remarked with a mischievous little grin.  "Your dad says in his letter that she is not to come home without spending that money on herself."

Garret's grin widened as he turned away from the screen.  "That's gonna be hard to do.  She's got six grand to blow."

"You added the same amount?" Valerie asked, returning to her place to finish up the salad.

Scratching his head, Garret shrugged, as though he thought it was no big deal, but the hit of a blush on his face did not go unnoticed.  "Well, she wouldn't let me buy anything for her with any of the money I earned for the shows," he admitted with a grin.  "She said that I'd still be a dork, either way."

Somehow, that didn't surprise Valerie.  She might not know Kaci Lea as well as she'd like, but she knew well enough that her younger sister had her fair share of stubborn pride, too.  In that way, maybe she was more like Valerie than she wanted to admit . . .


-Valerie-


"So what's the urgent message that you needed to talk to me as soon as possible about?"

Valerie handed Madison a glass of wine and broke into a grin as she settled on the sofa next to her.  "I don't remember saying that it was urgent," she corrected, lifting the glass of wine to her lips.

Madison laughed.  "Okay, but it could be inferred from the overall tone of your message.  So what's up?"

"What are you doing tomorrow?" Valerie asked, purposefully hedging the question, knowing that it'd drive Madison nuts.

"Hmm, depends," Madison went on glibly.  "Did you have something in mind?"

"Well," Valerie drawled, idly swirling the wine in her glass.  "I'm taking my sister shopping tomorrow, and I thought that you should join us if you can.  After all, aren't you on a first name basis in most of the big stores?"

Madison giggled and set her glass on the coffee table.  "First name basis?  Probably . . . or they recognize my cards.  Hmm . . . I could do that," she allowed thoughtfully.  "So she's here?  I want to meet her!"

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie shot Madison an apologetic little smile.  "Sorry.  She already went to bed.  Said that she was tired from traveling . . ."

Madison nodded slowly, understanding the unspoken thoughts going through Valerie's head.  "We could stop by the spa, too, if you think she'd like to.  I'd be more than happy to give her some special attention."

Valerie grinned.  She'd thought of that, too, but wasn't entirely sure what Madison would think of that idea.  "Just remember that she's only fourteen," she said instead.

Madison laughed and fluttered a hand dismissively.  "It'll be fun," she predicted.  "Evan says that she's just a hottie like you, so it shouldn't take too much effort on my part to make her look spectacular."

"Oh, I have no doubt at all that you can make her look fabulous.  I only worry that you're going to make her look a lot older than she is."

"I'll remember," Madison insisted, brushing off Valerie's concern without a second thought.

"Daddy sent money for her, so hopefully she'll enjoy herself," Valerie went on with a sigh.  "I told her that if she had too much stuff to take home with her on the plane that we'd send it all to her."

They'd given her the card during dinner, and, as predicted, Kaci Lea had tried to decline it.  No one had said anything when Valerie had pretended that half of the money had been put on there by their father, but it wasn't until she'd called and talked to Jack that she'd reluctantly accepted it.  He had told her that she absolutely must spend the money he'd sent her on herself, on buying the things that she'd never been able to get for herself before.  She'd hesitantly said that she might look for a new laptop computer to replace the old, slow one that she'd gotten in middle school from the Second Knowledge program at her school.  That program collected used computers and refurbished them as best as they could then sold them to the kids whose families couldn't afford to buy one for whatever they could afford.  It did what Kaci Lea needed to do, but it certainly couldn't do a lot of the things that the newest computers could.  There was more than enough money for that with the money that Evan and Garret had added for her to get a damn good one, and Evan had told her that it was fine, as long as she spent the money on herself.

"Let me guess: Evan and your brother have holed themselves up in the music room?"

Rolling her eyes, Valerie smiled.  "Of course," she said.  "Garret said something about having an idea for a song, and that's all it took."

"Figures . . . You know, I've yet to meet your little brother," Madison went on thoughtfully.  "Is he as cute in person as he was in the concert clips I saw?"

"No," Valerie stated flatly.  "Cuter.  Much cuter."

Madison laughed.  "You know, I have to admit, I was surprised when you'd mentioned having a brother and a sister," she mused.  "You never talked about them before—or your parents, for that matter."

"It's a . . . a long story," Valerie said.  "I just . . ."

The teasing expression on Madison's face faltered, only to be replaced by a more serious look.  "It doesn't matter.  Any family of yours is okay with me."

Valerie blinked and stared at Madison for a moment, then broke into a smile.  "See?  That's why I love you, Maddy," she insisted, reaching out to hug Madison.  "You're so sweet."

Madison wrinkled her nose then planted a loud kiss on Valerie's cheek.  "I am, right?"

"Homigawd, girl-on-girl action!" Evan squeaked, interrupting the moment with an insanely idiotic grin on his face.

Garret snorted.  "Yeah—if one of them wasn't my sister," he grumbled.  "That's just messed up, man, and . . ." he trailed off as he glanced over at the women again, only to stop and do a classic double-take.  Valerie rolled her eyes.  He was about as hard to read as a comic book, though she had to admit that it was pretty funny.  In the space of an instant, he had been absolutely mesmerized by the mere sight of Madison Cartham.  "Uh, h-h-hi," he stammered, his face exploding in a bright wash of color.

Evan glanced from Garret to Madison and back again as an even more idiotic grin lit on his features, and he chuckled.  "That's Maddy," he said, giving Garret a little nudge with his shoulder.

Garret stumbled forward a step but caught himself quickly enough.

"Madison Cartham," she said, wrapping her arms more securely around Valerie's waist and resting her head on Valerie's shoulder.  "But you can call me 'Maddy'."

"N-Nice to meet you," Garret said.

Madison giggled.  "You're right," she said to Valerie.  "He's just a doll!"

Evan chuckled.  "Yeah?  Why don't you teach him a few things, Maddikins?  I'm sure that he'd be up to learning."

Valerie shook her head slowly.  If she thought that Evan was serious—or, more to the point, if she thought that Madison really would give Garret more than a fleeting glance—she'd be a little more inclined to argue.  Oh, sure, she might be if Garret were older, but Madison didn't really have any interest in guys that were that much younger than her, either.

"Sure," Madison quipped, winking at Garret as she reached for her wine glass again.  "Give me a call in five years or so, Garret."

Garret rolled his eyes but grinned despite the heightened color in her cheeks.  "I-I'm not that young," he muttered.

Evan chuckled and strode over to grab two beers out of the wet bar fridge.  At least, that was the plan—until Valerie shot him a look that could, in theory, freeze him on the spot.  He grinned and put one of the beers back and grabbed a Coke for Garret instead.  "Anyway, we weren't going to bother you ladies," he went on as he popped the cap off the beer.

"I've had beer before," Garret pointed out as he took the Coke from Evan and nodded.

"Is that right?" Valerie demanded mildly, crossing her arms over her chest as she shot Evan another scathing look.  Evan tipped the beer with one hand and held up the other in silent surrender.

"Dad's let me have one before," he clarified.

"You're underage," Valerie stated flatly.

Garret grinned.

Evan chuckled.  "Want to work on that bridge again?"

"Oh, uh, yeah . . . It's good, but there's something missing still."

"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing," Evan mused as the two of them headed toward the music room again.

Valerie rolled her eyes as she watched their retreat.

"Hmm . . . how nostalgic," Madison mused as she watched them, too.

"What's that?"

Madison shrugged, a sudden brightness entering her gaze as the door closed behind the men.  "It just . . . it reminds me of Evan and Dieter," she admitted quietly.  "Those two could lock themselves in there for hours—days sometimes . . ."

"He does really like Garret," Valerie said thoughtfully.  She hadn't really seen Evan and Dieter together as much as Madison had, but she, too, had noticed the genuine affection that Evan had for her brother.  "I'm kind of hoping that it will keep him out of some trouble," she confessed with a sigh.

"Which one?  Evan?"

Valerie shook her head.  "Both."

Madison laughed.  "That or they'll just get into even more trouble.  It's hard to say."

That was the other thing that Valerie was afraid of.  After all, Evan wasn't exactly good at self-control, was he?  Those two were more likely to get into all kinds of mischief than not.  In fact, the kinds of trouble that Evan could potentially get Garret involved in was enough to make Valerie groan to herself.  She'd already seen what kinds of ideas those two could have, hadn't she?  The memory of that damned sheet-slide they'd constructed in the hotel flashed through her head, and she groaned again for good measure.

"What's the matter?" Madison asked, oblivious as to what, exactly, was going through her friend's mind.

Valerie waved a hand dismissively and stood up, retrieving Madison's wine glass to refill both.  "Oh, nothing," she said.  "Just foreseeing a lot of gray hairs in my future . . ."

Madison's laughter followed her as she strode over to the wet bar to set down the glasses.  "I'm sure that he won't get Garret into too much trouble," she assured her.  "Most of the time, Dieter was the one who had the weird ideas.  Evan just went along with them."

For some reason, the memory of the night she'd had to pick them up at the police station because Dieter had wanted to 'borrow' a body bag from the morgue flashed through her head, and she sighed.  Yes, that had been Dieter's idea, but she was pretty sure that the real problem had as much to do with Evan as it did with Dieter . . .

Then she smiled.  She couldn't really help herself, could she?  After all, how many people could get in trouble for half the stuff that Evan had over the years . . .?


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A/N:
'Coming< /b> Home' by Cinderella originally appeared on the 1988 release, Long Cold Winter.  Copyrighted to Tom Kiefer.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
They won't get into too much trouble … will they …?
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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 187
Chapter 189
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