InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Roadtrip ( Chapter 193 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'99 dreams I have had ...
'In every one, a red balloon
'It's all over, and I'm standing pretty
'In the dust that was a city
'If I could just find a souvenir
'Just to prove the world was here
'And here is a red balloon
'I think of you and let it go …'

-'99 Red Balloons' by Nena.


-Valerie-


"There's way too much static electricity in this car," Valerie said, running her hand over the back of her hair before shoving the helium balloon behind the headrest for the fiftieth time in the hour they'd been on the road.  "You should've let me take them into the house."

Evan chuckled.  "What's the fun in that?"

She rolled her eyes but smiled.  She'd tried to leave them before they left.  Evan had stopped her after asking her what the plan was.  All she'd told him was that they were going on a road trip, and for some reason, he'd decided that the balloons were coming along for the ride.  That wouldn't have been so bad, she supposed, if there weren't thirty-three of them . . .

"You sure you're not going to tell me where we're heading?" he asked, fiddling with the radio.  "Oh, my God!  You have a Zel Roka playlist!"

Valerie laughed and shook her head since he sounded like a giddy five year-old when he'd said that.  "Yes, I do, but don't let it get to you.  I felt somewhat obligated to make one—you know, since his money paid for this car."

He laughed but selected a different one—much to her surprise.  "You're really not going to tell me where we're going?" he tried again.

"Nope," Valerie told him.  "I have to have some surprises, don't I?"

He heaved a sigh designed to make her feel bad.  It didn't work, but at least he'd tried.  "Fine, fine . . ."

The vague scent of noxious fumes made Valerie wrinkle her nose seconds before a horrid squeaking noise forced her to grit her teeth, and she glanced over, only to find him scribbling on one of the helium-filled balloons.  He must have bought it when they'd stopped at a gas station just after they'd gotten out of the city.  "What are you doing?" she asked.  With Evan, one never knew, after all . . .

He chuckled but didn't even pause.  "Hold on."

A minute later, he twisted the balloon around.  "There!" he announced proudly.

Valerie glanced over and shook her head.  He'd written his cell phone number on it along with the words, 'Call me and wish me a happy birthday!'  Then he chuckled and let it go out of the window.

"Are you going to do that to all of those?" she asked, vaguely wondering if anyone actually would find his message.

He grinned at her.  "Why not?  What do you think?  You think anyone will actually find one if I do?"

"Maybe," she allowed.  "Do you really think it's a good idea to give your number out like that though?"

His grin only widened.  "Aww, it isn't that big of a deal," he insisted, brushing off her concern as though it was of no consequence as he nabbed the next balloon and started to scribble.

"You know, I was half tempted to call Mikey and give him a piece of my mind," she remarked.  "Aren't you glad I didn't?"

"Well, that might have been pretty damn funny," Evan said.  "He wouldn't have had a clue as to what you were talking about."

"Hmm . . . You really are a jerk sometimes."

"Yeah, but you think I'm funny as hell," he said, reaching behind the seat to nab a second balloon.  He tied the strings together and scribbled on the second balloon.  Erupting in a rather maniacal chuckle, he turned both for her inspection.

She glanced over, only to do a double take.  "You can't let those go!" she blurted a moment after he'd let go of the strings out the window.

He laughed.  He'd drawn a nipple on each one with the message, 'To see the real deal, give me a call!' along with Bitches' number.

"What if a kid finds those?" she scolded despite the tugging of a smile at her lips.

"Oh, I didn't think of that.  Shit!" Evan exclaimed, lunging out the window as far as he could to catch the strings of the balloons.

The car swerved as Valerie grabbed the back of Evan's pants and tried to yank him back in the window.  "What are you doing?  Trying to get yourself killed?"

Evan flopped back against the seat, his grin only widening.   "Too late," he told her, sounding anything but contrite.

Pressing her palm against her chest, Valerie slowly shook her head.  "Idiot," she muttered, her cheeks pinking as she drew a few deep, steadying breaths.

"Sorry, V," he replied though he had yet to sound sorry at all.  He grabbed another balloon and started to draw as the marker squeaked in an entirely obnoxious kind of way.

"That's all I need," she told him.  "Zel Roka, splattered all over the road . . ."

He chuckled and turned the balloon for her inspection.  "For a good time, call Mikey," she read out loud.  "Oh, that's not going to get you in any trouble," she muttered dryly.

That only heightened Evan's amusement.  "It's all good," he told her as he released that balloon out the window.

She had to laugh when he did.  There was something entirely infectious about the sound of it.  It was one of the things that she really liked about him: how easy it was to make him laugh.  "Keep it up, Roka," she said.  "I mean, you've got another, what?  Thirty-one balloons to go?"


-Evan-


"Last two," Evan said, twisting his torso so he could reach back to snag another balloon.  They'd been driving for nearly three hours, give or take, and he'd been releasing balloons the whole way.  "You know, this was a great idea . . ."

Valerie shot him a glance, her eyes glowing with the smile on her face.  "It wasn't actually my idea to write on them and let them go out the window," she pointed out, "and if it had been my idea to do that, I don't think I'd have suggested writing perverted things on them before doing so."

He laughed.  "I didn't write perverted things on all of them," he reminded her.

"Hmm, just most of them," she retorted.

It was true.  He'd given out everyone's phone numbers that he knew, and some of the balloons were better than others.  Though he highly doubted anyone would really call the numbers he'd written on them, he had to admit that he secretly hoped they would—like Bubby's balloon, for example.  It'd be pretty damn awesome if someone found that one and called just to ask whether or not Bubby really held the world record for the size of his penis . . .

Many of the balloons, though, he'd just written something about it being his birthday and to call and wish him well along with his own phone number on it.  If anyone really did call, maybe he'd find a map somewhere to mark it.

"So are you still not telling me where we're going?" Evan asked absently as he drew on the balloon.

"No, but we're almost there, anyway," she told him.

"We'll have to do this every year," he said, recapping the pen and waving the balloon to dry the ink a little before he stuck it out the window, too.

"Every year, huh?" she repeated.  She seemed rather pleased by this idea.  "What are the odds I'll get to spend your birthdays with you ever year?"

"I want you to," he insisted.

She laughed.  "Okay, then we'll do it every year."

That was as much of a promise as he figured he'd get from her at the moment, but it was enough for him.  "Sweet."

"So what did you write on that one?" she asked, reaching over to hold the balloon still.  "The sexiest woman on earth?  And you just had to put my number on it, huh?"

He chuckled.  "It's the truth, baby.  Anyway, let me know if anyone calls to ask you about it."

She rolled her eyes despite the amusement that still illuminated her gaze, and she sighed.  "I guess that's better than what you wrote with Maddy's number."

"Aww, she'll think it's a riot," he scoffed.

Valerie snorted.  "You wrote that she gave the best blow jobs in New York City," she reminded him.

Evan's grin widened.  "Yep, and to my knowledge, she does.  Did you know, when we were younger, she told me that she was going to perfect that particular skill of hers?  And she did."

He didn't miss the slight irritation that surfaced on Valerie's face before she had a chance to quell it.  "I think I'd rather not know about that," she muttered almost sullenly.

"I'd be more than happy to let you practice on me," he replied.

"Pervert."

He snagged the last balloon and tapped the pen against his thigh as he considered what to write on this one.  "I wouldn't call it perverted," he insisted.  "There's nothing wrong with giving a little lovin' . . . and I'd be more than happy to return the favor."

"Draw on your balloon, Roka," she said, ignoring his bawdy statements.  "We're here."

Evan looked up as Valerie pulled off the road and down a small makeshift lane that he wouldn't have realized was there if Valerie hadn't turned onto it.  The land sloped pretty drastically downhill to a small, sandy beach, where the lane came out in the midst of a small grove of trees.  "Where are we?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

She smiled at him as she killed the motor.  "Some friends and I used to come up here on weekends during college," she explained.  "Haven't been here for years, but this area is a public access point.  It's usually pretty busy during the summer—people like to bring their small boats out here since the beach is kind of enclosed, so they like to use rowboats and things.  Not too much of a chance of drifting out onto the ocean.  At this time of year, though?  Well, as you can see, I figured there wouldn't be much going on today."

Evan hurriedly scrawled Zel Roka onto the balloon along with his number and a happy face before stowing the pen in the glove box and opening the car door.

Valerie hurried around the car and let Evan take her hand as he shifted his gaze around the beach.  She was right about the layout—it was almost a fully enclosed lake with the only outlet to the ocean that he could see lying  directly across from them.  The opening was only about fifty or sixty feet wide, so it would be pretty difficult for a small vessel to inadvertently drift out to sea.  Off to the right was a flat expanse of beach that ran up against the retaining wall and the highway high above.  On the left was a fairly steep incline that ended in a craggy cliff that overlooked the water.

She tugged on his hand, leading him up the incline.  The wind that blew in off the water smelled of salt, lingered on the lips and skin like a kiss.  It was unseasonably warm for late April, and Evan breathed deep as the scent of Valerie's hair mingled with the fresh breeze.

"Okay," she said, stopping a few feet away from the edge of the cliff.  "You ready to let it go?"

Evan grinned and extended his arm.  They both stared at the balloon for a minute before he let go of the string.  It rose into the air, battered around gently in the wind, but the same wind lifted it higher and higher.

They watched it in silence as it floated over the highway, over the horizon, and out of sight.


-Valerie-


"You're not cold, are you?"

Valerie glanced over at Evan and smiled at the attentive expression on his face.  "No way," she said, lifting her face into the breeze.  Sitting on the edge of the cliff with her feet dangling over the beach fifteen feet below, she hooked her ankles over one another and swung them to and fro.  "It's a beautiful day . . . I don't think that we could've ordered nicer weather."

Evan chuckled.  His feet were hanging over the edge, too, but he was laying flat on his back, staring up at the sky with his arms folded behind his head.  "Okay," he said, his word distorted by a wide yawn, "let me know if you get chilly."

She nodded, hooking a lock of hair behind her ear.  "Did your mother call you today?"

"Mhmm . . . She called me at midnight, actually," he replied.  "Wanted to wish me happy birthday before anyone else, she said."

That sounded like something Gin would say, and she smiled.  "Your mom's something else," she said.  "You're a lot like her, did you know?"

That amused him.  "I'm really not," he insisted.  "Mama's sweet and all that.  I don't think that I fall into that category."

"You do," she replied with a shake of her head.  "It's cute.  One of the only cute things about you, I'd say . . ."

"Ah, you're so mean," he told her, but he was smiling; she could tell from the tone of his voice.  "I kind of like it . . ."

"That's because you're strange," she stated.  "I'm surprised no one else has called to wish you a happy birthday."

Pushing himself up on his elbows, he squeezed one eye closed against the afternoon sunshine.  "I left my phone at home," he confessed.  "I kind of wanted to have you all to myself, without any interruptions."

"But I brought my phone."

He held out his hand, and she raised an eyebrow.  "I wasn't going to toss it into the water or anything," he assured her with a grin.  "I was just going to turn it off."

Her lips twitched.  "I left it in the car."

"Oh, then good enough," he decided, rolling onto his side, propping his head up with his hand and using his free hand to play with the ends of her hair that were flying around in the breeze.  "I don't wanna share you with anyone today."

"Okay," she agreed easily enough.  "Are you ready for Phase II of Evan Zelig's Birthday Roadtrip Day?"

He grinned at the title she'd given it.  "Oh?  We're going somewhere else?"

She smiled.  "No, but I think we'd better do the next part of it."

"Sounds interesting," he allowed.  "Should I guess?"

"Nah," she said as she stood up and brushed the sand off her pants.  "I'm going to go get something out of the car."

"All right," he agreed, rolling onto his feet and following along behind her.  "Don't suppose it's a bikini or anything?"

Valerie shot him a droll look.  "It's still a little cool for that—or the water is, anyway."

"I could do it," he insisted.  "In fact, I just might."

He started to follow her to the car, but she waved him away.  She wasn't ready to get everything out of the trunk, so she retrieved the cheap plastic cooler herself, pausing only long enough to grab the bag of drinks they'd bought at the gas station when he'd gotten the marker for the balloons.  He hadn't said anything about them, but then, he was so preoccupied with drawing on his balloons that she doubted he'd paid much attention to what she was buying at the time.

Stacking the bag atop the cooler, she grunted as she lifted both, resting the cooler against the bumper long enough to hit the keychain to close the trunk before refreshing her grip and carefully making her way over to Evan.

He raised an eyebrow at the cooler but took it from her.  She let him, but only because she was a little afraid that she'd drop it if she tried to carry it too far.

"So is this my present?" he asked as she raised a hand to point at the water.

"Not really," she replied, pulling the bag of drinks off the cooler.

They didn't stop till they reached the edge of one of the short piers that dotted the shore.  He set the cooler down while she tied the bag to an old bit of rope dangling into the water.  Then she let the bag down to chill the drinks.  When she straightened up, Evan was looking into the cooler with a grin on his face.

"This is becoming a regular thing for us," he remarked as he picked up a live lobster.   All total, there were a good twenty in the cooler, she figured.  She'd stopped by every restaurant she'd seen that she thought might have live lobsters between her apartment and Evan's house.  They'd all pretty much looked at her like she was nuts, but they'd sold them to her, just the same.

"Yeah, but it makes you feel good, doesn't it?"

He laughed as he dug a pocket knife out and flipped it open to cut off the claw bands.  "Actually, it makes me hungry," he said.

"You're a sick man," she countered, taking the lobster and dropping it into the water.

"Yeah, but you like me that way, so what does that say about you, exactly?"

She sighed.  Okay, so he had a point—a small one.

"When I was a teenager, I always figured that I'd feel a lot different when I reached my thirties," he remarked as he freed another lobster.  "Kind of funny, really."

"Different?  How so?"

He shrugged and sat for a moment, hands dangling idly between his legs, elbows propped on his knees, as his gaze swept slowly over the water.   "I don't know.  Maybe I figured I'd be married already, maybe a few pups . . ."

She smiled.  "Married?  That surprises me."

He blinked and looked at her, and the expression on his face was serious for once.  "Why's that?  I don't seem like the marrying kind?"

She sensed the seriousness beneath his light tone, and while she really didn't consider Evan to be the marrying kind, exactly, in some ways, she could see it.  As outrageous as Zel Roka could be and was, the Evan she knew was not really like that.  There were so many things about him that contradicted themselves that it was often difficult to reconcile everything she knew.   "Part of you is," she said slowly, softly, her voice teetering on confusion.  "Maybe the rest of you wants to be."

He chuckled at her assessment.  "Yeah, I guess," he agreed easily enough.  "I mean, I suppose it's not too weird, if you think about it.  Look at Mama and Cain, right?  Hell, they're having another baby, you know?  And Bubby and Sydnie?  They're so happy, it's kind of crazy . . . Maybe I've seen so many happily married couples in my own family that it was just a foregone conclusion that I'd end up that way, too . . ." Trailing off for a moment, he didn't look like he even realized that he'd spoken out loud.  Then he sighed and gave a lopsided little grin.  "Or maybe I've just been waiting for you to say 'yes'."

Valerie didn't comment.  Pretty words were nothing more than words, and those words were becoming increasingly hard to ignore.  Did she want to believe him?  Did she want to believe that he was just saying whatever he thought she wanted to hear?  It was strange, wasn't it?  Thinking about Marvin . . . it was hard, so why was it that thinking about Evan wasn't?  There were just too many parts of it that were just out of her grasp, too hard to ask herself because the answers she might find were things that she wasn't entirely sure she wanted to know.  The lingering voice of self-doubt were growing harder to ignore day by day, and yet there were still those things—those ugly, glaring things—that she already knew.

But those things had no business in her mind today.  It was Evan's day, after all, and dwelling upon the things that lurked in the darkness of her brain, in the recesses of her heart would only shatter the beauty of the moment.

If Evan noticed her lack of response, he didn't show it.  Taking his time as he released a few more of the lobsters, he seemed completely unfazed by his own assertions, and for some reason, that only added to her sense of confusion.

Still, the voice in the back of her mind kept whispering to her, telling her that there were things she'd need to face sooner rather than later.  Truths or lies or illusions . . . eventually, she would have to deal with all of those things, even if she could grant herself a respite for today.


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A/N:
'99 Red Balloons' by Nena originally appeared on the 1984 release, 99 Luftballoons.  This song's original version, '99 Luftballoons' actually appeared first on Nena's 1983 release, Nena.  Copyrighted to Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen (music), Carlo Karges (German lyrics), Kevin McAlea (English lyrics).
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Shouldn't I be getting hammered on my birthday?
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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 192
Chapter 194
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