InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Irrational ( Chapter 190 )

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


- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Reaching out for something to hold ...
'Looking for a love where the climate is cold
'Manic moves or drowsy dreams
'Or living in the middle between the two extremes …'

-'Out of Touch' by Hall and Oates.


-Evan-


"So who was on the phone?"

Evan snorted and dropped his phone onto the table after taking a moment to shut off the ringer.  "Just Mikey," he replied with a careless shrug.

"Hmm, okay, but you didn't sound too enthusiastic about whatever he was saying."

Offering a terse grunt, he strode off to the kitchen to grab a beer.  "The label wants to compile a greatest hits thing," he called, raising his voice to be heard while he was out of the room.

"Mm," she intoned.  "More money.  Money's good."

He popped the cap off and tossed it into the sink before heading back into the living room again.  "No way."

She spared a moment to glance at him to see whether or not he was being serious.  "You don't like the idea?" she asked, clearly not sure why he would possibly not want to do it.

"Hell, no!" he scoffed.  "Greatest hits albums are only done by bands that are past their primes, which I most certainly am not!"

"That's not true," she countered mildly.  "Now you're just being silly."

"I am not," he insisted.  "It's a known fact!  If you're still at the top of your game, you record new shit, not re-release old stuff!"

She looked rather amused, which just figured.  "Okay," she said in a tone that clearly stated that she was going to humor him.

Evan rolled his eyes but let it drop.  "You just don't understand, V," he complained.

"Poor baby," she replied dryly.  "Now, be quiet so I can read through this file, will you?"

Cracking a little grin, Evan slugged back half of his beer then thumped his chest with a tight fist until he belched.  Then he sat up suddenly.  He blamed Valerie for sidetracking him when he had bigger fish to fry . . . "Oh!  You want to hear something cool?"

Valerie didn't even glance up from the file she was looking over.  "Probably not," she replied evenly, smoothly.

He chuckled and plopped down on the sofa beside her.  "You sure about that?"

"Absolutely," she said.

"Okay, if you're positive . . ."

"I'm positive."

"I'll give you one last chance to change your mind . . ."

"Considering that you're either going to tell me something I don't want to know about any number and combination of mammalian body parts or flaming gaseous expulsions?  I'll pass, thanks," she stated.

That only made him laugh, probably because of what she was referencing.  She wasn't as impressed as he had thought she would be when the phone jarred her out of an otherwise blissful sleep at four a.m. so that Evan could tell her about a dream that had involved flaming fart bombs, a blonde with size quadruple E breasts that very closely resembled Valerie—or at least, she would if Valerie had a massive boob job done, anyway—a donkey, and a llama.  Truly a winner, if one wanted his opinion . . .

"And here I thought you'd enjoy that," he teased.

She didn't bother to dignify that with a response.

"Too bad you think I'm funny as hell," he added for good measure.

Still nothing.  Oh, she did brush her finger over the screen of the slim-file to turn the digital page, though.

"All right, all right.  I'm sorry that I woke you up to hear about my warped and twisted dream."

She leaned forward and jotted a few words onto the notepad on the coffee table.

"You win," he told her with an exaggerated sigh.  Then he slumped a little lower and let his head fall back against the sofa.  "Media . . . audio . . . track 5-9-4-B," he said.

The soft and melodic sound of an acoustic guitar filled the air.  Valerie finally glanced up from the file, frowning as she tried to place the song.  It didn't take long, and she smiled.  "Garret's song," she said, setting the file aside in favor of listening.

Evan chuckled.  "Sounds good, right?"

"Mmm," she intoned quietly.

.

'Sometimes in the darkness
'I can see your smiling face
'And the pain in my heart keeps tellin' me
'I made a huge mistake …'

'When I cannot sleep, I'm won'dring
'If you're smiling for someone else
'And it breaks my heart that I lost you
'And I cannot find myself …'

.

He watched her face as she listened to the lyrics.  She'd heard them before, sure, but just what did she think of the words?  The father she'd idolized, even though she'd known he wasn't at all perfect . . . and no one else would ever realize that the love story set to music was meant for a little lost girl—a daughter, not a lover . . .

When the song was over, she sighed.  She wasn't sad, exactly, but she still had tears in her eyes.  "You know, I don't think that anyone else could've done that song," she finally said, her voice thick with emotion, enough that she had to clear her throat a time or two.  "Garret did a beautiful job.  I think . . . I think Daddy will love it."

Evan grinned.  "Yeah, well, don't tell Garret because he hasn't heard the master yet, either."  He shot her a sidelong look.  "I wasn't supposed to have heard it yet myself."

"Oh?" she countered, quirking an eyebrow in surprise.  "So how did you get a copy then?"

He shot her an almost guilty grin.  "Well, I just happened to be there while Thrash was finishing up the final mix, a-a-a-and . . . I just happened to be closer to the digital dump, so when I ran the first master, I . . . might . . . have run two of them . . ."

Shaking her head despite the smile on her face, Valerie shot him a chagrined sort of look.  "That's awful," she scolded.  "Shouldn't Garret have gotten to hear it first?"

"Sure," Evan agreed, though he knew damn well that he looked anything but contrite, "and I'll pretend that I haven't already heard it until after he does."

"How would you like it if someone else listened to your songs before you got to hear the finished product?" she asked pointedly.

Evan grinned.  "Are you saying that you didn't want to hear it?"

"No, I did," she admitted.  "You still should have waited."

Evan chuckled and reached over his head to stretch.  "He will.  They're sending a copy to him by courier.  He should get it today."

She digested that for a moment then nodded.  "So what's the next step, rockstar?"

Evan shrugged.  "Well, that kind of depends upon Wicked Soundsations," he said.  "They only signed Garret to a temporary contract, as you know, which basically means that they wanted to hear what he can do before they offer him a real deal.  If they like this song, they might decide to sign him and hold this one till he has enough material for a full release.  If they decide to release the single first, though, then it's just a matter of the regular crap: photo shoots for the cover and promos, music video, blah blah blah . . ."

She smiled.  "Sounds complicated."

"Eh, most of it is just red tape," he replied.  "It really depends upon how tight the higher-ups' underwear are on that particular day."

"Really?  So everything in big business depends upon how tight one's underpants are on a given day?"

He shot her a cheesy grin.  "Sounds about right."

She laughed and shook her head, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder.  "Hmm . . . maybe they should stop wearing g-strings then."

He laughed at her response.  "Y'know, I was thinking," he said at length.

"It's a bad habit of yours," she pointed out dryly.  "You really should stop trying to do that.  You're going to hurt yourself."

He chuckled.  "As true as that may be, I just can't help it sometimes."

She heaved an exaggerated sigh.  "Okay, let's hear it.  What were you thinking?"

The cheesy grin widened.  "Well, you're hot . . ."

She arched an eyebrow.  "Oka-a-a-ay . . ."

Nodding rather emphatically, he sat up and leaned toward her.  "And I'm hot, right?"

The other eyebrow slowly arched, too.  "I suppose that some people think so."

Her droll assessment only served to further his overall amusement.  "So . . . if you're hot, and I'm hot, just think about how hot we'd be if we were together!"

She stared at him without a change in expression for several moments, merely blinking slowly once, twice, three times.  "And that's what you were thinking about?"

"I know, right?" he gushed.  "Pretty profound, if you ask me."

She continued to stare at him for a minute, just blinking and nothing else.  Then she sighed.  "You're so much cuter when you don't think," she informed him.

He laughed and flopped back against the sofa once more.  "You've said that before," he reminded her.

"Yes, well, it's still true."

Breaking into a little half-smile, Valerie reached for the slim-file once more as she stood up.  "I've got to go meet with a client," she told him, apparently deciding that it wouldn't do her any good to encourage him further than she already had.  "You can be good for a couple hours, can't you?"

"No promises," Evan quipped.

She spared a moment to pin him with a serious look that was completely ruined when her smile returned.  "Try," she said.

Evan chuckled and watched her go before heaving a sigh and slowly shaking his head.  He really liked having her around; damned if he didn't.  "Just a matter of time, V . . . Just a matter of time . . ."


-Valerie-


"Valerie Denning."

A soft laugh greeted her, and Valerie blinked as she lowered the cell phone to glance at the caller ID again.  She didn't recognize the number, but she did recognize the voice.  "Hello, Valerie!  How have you been?"

Breaking into a smile when she realized who was calling her, she let the ink pen in her hand drop to the desktop as she leaned back and pushed herself away from the desk.  "Gin?  Hi!  I'm fine, and you?  How's the baby?  Are you feeling okay?"

Gin giggled.  "I'm fine," she insisted.  "I just haven't gotten to speak to you in a while, so I thought I'd give you a call."

"Did you get a new phone?  I don't recognize your number," Valerie remarked. When they were visiting over Christmas, Gin had programmed her cell number into Valerie's phone 'just in case'.  Valerie hadn't really thought that she'd use it, though, but Gin had a cute little habit of sending Valerie sweet little text messages every now and then . . .

"Oh!" Gin suddenly exclaimed, as though something had just occurred to her.  "I'm using Sebastian's phone right now, though.  Mine got a little messed up when I accidentally dropped it in the tub yesterday, so he said I could use his!"

Ah, so that explained the strange number . . . "I'm glad that you're feeling okay.  I think Evan gets pretty worried about you," she said.  "You . . . You dropped your phone into the tub?"

She uttered a sound almost like a bird's twitter.  "It was an accident," Gin insisted.  "Well, really, I guess you could say that it was Cain's fault . . ."

"Uh, Mom, we've been through this, right?  I don't want to hear anything about the 'how' of it," Valerie heard Bas' voice in the background.  Gin giggled.

Biting her lip, Valerie had a sneaking suspicion that she didn't really want to know exactly what they were doing that had caused Gin's phone to fall into the tub, especially if Bas was already that worried about hearing the details, so she cleared her throat and opted to change the subject, instead.  "Have your visits to the doctor been good, too?  You're not overdoing it, are you?"

Gin uttered a sound remarkably like a snort, which was only surprising, given that it was Gin . . . "They've been great," she insisted.  "No problems at all."

Valerie smiled.  She was pleasantly surprised that Gin's pregnancy seemed to be going well, according to what Evan had told her, and if that was a relief to her, she supposed that it was even more of one for Evan.  After all, the man absolutely worshipped his mother, didn't he . . .? "Good, then.  As long as everything's going well."

"I had another little something that I wanted to discuss with you, though—the real reason that I called," Gin admitted at length.

"Okay," Valerie said, waiting for Gin to elaborate.

"We-e-ell," she hedged, like she was trying to find a good way to say whatever was on her mind.  "I feel really badly about this, but Cain said that he'd rather not bring me down to see Evan on his birthday this year.  He seems to think that the city air's not good for us, and he's so worried that I just don't have the heart to argue with him, even though I hate the idea of missing Evan's birthday . . . I mean, I've never missed it unless he was out touring or something.  But Evan said that he's got a busy schedule around then, so I don't want to insist that he come up here for the day, you know?  So I was thinking that if I can't spend Evan's birthday with him, if you're not busy . . .?"

It took a minute for Gin's words to sink in.  She'd rattled them off so fast, like she was afraid that Valerie was going to think that she was somehow a bad mother simply because she couldn't make an eight-plus-hour trip down to see Evan on his birthday?  Yes, she realized, that's just what Gin thought because she hated the idea of leaving her baby boy alone on such a special occasion . . .

Valerie laughed.  "Actually, I was already planning on spending the day with him," she assured Gin.

"Really?  You're not just trying to make me feel better?"

"No, I'm not," Valerie insisted.  "Besides, he and I had a really great time on my birthday, so I wanted to make sure that his was just as nice."

"That's so wonderful!" Gin gushed, sounding more and more relieved by the moment.  "Oh, just in case he didn't tell you?  He loves my inside-out peanut butter cup cake.  Do you want me to send you the recipe?  It's really easy . . . If you don't like baking, you can always just use a really good dark chocolate cake mix, but the frosting is simple!"

"I'd love that," Valerie replied.  True, she wasn't much of a baker, but she didn't mind trying out something new, especially if it was something Evan really liked, and it was going to be his birthday, after all.  She had a week and a half to get the recipe right, too.

"Okay, I'll email it to you . . . Oh, I hate that I won't see him on his birthday, though . . . I still remember the night he was born.  He came into the world as a night owl; did you know?"

Valerie's smile widened.  "Somehow, that doesn't really surprise me," she said.

"Did you get him a present yet?  I haven't, but if you have, then I want to know so I don't get him something similar."

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie heaved a sigh.  "No, not yet," she admitted.  "He's kind of hard to buy for.  I mean, he's already got everything he could possibly want or need, and if he doesn't, he has more than enough money to do so himself."

Gin giggled.  "Oh, no, Evan's easy to buy for!" she insisted.  "He's happy with anything.  He just likes to know that people are thinking of him enough to buy him a present, in the first place!"

And that made sense, too, didn't it?  Too bad it didn't really help Valerie in coming up with any ideas.

"How about I give you a call next week, then?  Maybe I can help you come up with some ideas if you haven't thought of anything yet," Gin suggested.  "I hate to cut this short, but Cain wants to go take a nap."

Valerie laughed.  "Okay," she agreed.  "I'll talk to you later, then."

"Okay, Valerie.  Tell my Evan that I'll call him soon, too!"

Rubbing her temple as the connection was cut off, Valerie spared a moment to stare at the huge picture that Evan had mounted in her office for Christmas and slowly shook her head.  She'd artfully moved a table over, so the lamp that sat atop that table was positioned to cover the parts of the picture that really shouldn't be there, and while she'd told him that she didn't want that monstrosity of a picture there, she had to admit, at least to herself, that he really did look damn good in it . . .

Which still didn't help her in trying to come up with a suitable birthday present.  Gin might well believe that Evan wouldn't care what the gift was, that he'd just be happy to receive one, but that didn't really fly with her, considering he'd given her a convertible for hers.

But she didn't want to get him something that was expensive just for the sake of it.  She wanted to give him something that was as special as he was.  He'd bought her a car because he knew she'd love it, and that was what she wanted to do for him.  She wanted to get him something that no one else would ever think of, something that showed him how important he was to her.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie stood up and made short work of stashing a couple slim-files into her attaché case to take home with her.  Okay, not home.  Evan had been texting her ever since she left his house earlier, asking her if she was going to come back over.  He'd gone so far as to offer to be her personal slave for the evening, but then he'd also gone on to mention that he'd started up the hot tub, and while she wouldn't take him up on the slave offer, she just might like the latter part.

Besides, she figured she'd stop off and pick up a couple pizzas on the way.  As a rule, she tended to avoid that kind of thing—too many carbs—but he loved it, and she still owed him a pretty big 'thank you'.  He'd been so wonderful to Garret and especially to Kaci Lea during their visit that she felt as though she needed to do something nice for him.  The visit had been short, but in the end, Valerie felt as though she might have made a little headway with Kaci Lea, and even if their relationship was far from comfortable, Valerie couldn't help but think that it had definitely been a step in the right direction, and Evan?  Well, he'd helped with that, just by being himself, hadn't he?

No doubt about it, Kaci Lea most definitely had a crush on Evan.  In truth, Valerie thought it was pretty damn cute.  It was so blatantly obvious, not that Evan needed that kind of encouragement.  He really, really didn't.

It was also blatantly obvious that Garret had the same kind of crush on Madison, too, which amused Valerie even more.  At least she knew that Madison would absolutely not be interested in someone Garret's age, where the same couldn't exactly be said for Evan.  After all, he had ended up in that mess with Violca, hadn't he?

Okay, so maybe that was a different situation, and yes, she had to admit that Evan really wasn't in the habit of going after girls that he knew were underage, and sure, he liked to make silly comments about her sister being a hottie and all that, but when all was said and done, Valerie was pretty sure that he was a little more honorable than that.  Maybe not by much, but a little . . .

As she stepped out of the building and onto the street, Valerie was already ten steps ahead in her mind.  There was a really nice little pizzeria near Evan's mansion, so she figured she'd stop in there and grab food before heading over, but it was such a nice day out—one of the first really, really nice days of the year, actually, that she felt like walking the few blocks to her apartment so that she could change her clothes first.  Maybe she could get Evan to give her some hints as to what he might like for his birthday without actually asking him straight out.  She'd have to give that one some thought, though, because she really didn't want him to think that she couldn't come up with any ideas on her own . . .

'It'd be a hell of a lot easier if the perfect present for that man would just jump out in front of me,' she thought dourly as she turned the corner.  It was her considered opinion that that kind of thing rarely happened, unfortunately.  But she wanted to get him something special, something that he couldn't get for himself.  All of that just led her right back around in the broad circle of her thoughts, though, right back to Square One.

Stopping at the crosswalk with a bunch of people heading home from work, she glanced around as she waited for the light to turn.  Many of them wore the same kind of nondescript business suits, the same kinds of neckties or skirts and blazers . . . There was something a little disturbing about the visage, really.  At least the young man with the foot-long, spiky Mohawk and tie-dyed, neon yellow and orange shirt and faded, worn jeans broke through the mundane.  Beside him, holding his hand, stood a little girl—maybe three?—who also wore the outrageous hairdo.  Red and white striped tights, a lime green skirt with a white sweater . . . Valerie broke into a wan smile as her father scooped her up and settled her on his hip.  They might well stand out like a sore thumb, but it was in a really cute kind of way . . .

Shifting her gaze around, she frowned at the shop that had recently opened.  On the very cusp of the business district and in the area that started to give way to high-rise apartments stood an older building.  The last she'd heard, they were going to tear it down, but someone, somewhere must have thought otherwise, because the store still had a banner hanging in the plate glass window that proclaimed 'Grand Opening!' in festive red lettering.  Now that she thought about it, there was a bit of a fuss about it since the rumors had been that it was slated to become nothing more than a pawn shop.  No one in the area wanted something like that.  Afraid that it would attract the wrong kind of clientele in the moderate neighborhood, some of the residents had gone door to door, trying to collect enough signatures on a petition to block it.

Either they hadn't gotten enough support or the opposition had died down on some level, because there was the store, open and doing business.  It wasn't exactly a pawn shop in the negative sense of the word.  They called themselves Thatcher's Second Chance—a consignment store—but even from the outside, it looked very neat and clean, and the garden table sitting just outside the doors was actually pretty cute . . .

But it wasn't really the store itself that caught and held her interest.  Venturing away from the throngs waiting for the crosswalk light, Valerie bit her lip as her gaze locked on the display window—on the antique wooden milk crate sitting atop a drop-leaf table that was constructed out of beautiful solid oak, flanked by two ornately carved, high-backed chairs whose spindles matched the repeated pattern carved into the legs of the table . . . Those were nice pieces, of course, but not nearly interesting enough to so completely capture her attention, but . . . but what was in that box brought to hazy life a memory . . .

She'd done it.  She'd found the perfect birthday present for one Evan Zelig.


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Out of Touch' by Hall and Oates originally appeared on the 1984 release, Big Bam Boom.  Copyrighted to Daryl Hall and John Oates.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Score!
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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 189
Chapter 191
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