InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Hellfire ( Chapter 195 )

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


- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Sing with me, sing for the years...
'Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
'Sing with me, I'm just for today
'Maybe tomorrow the good Lord'll take you away …'

-'Dream On' by Aerosmith.


-Evan-


"So how was it?  Did you two have a good time?"

Evan stepped out of the bathroom and grinned at the sight of Madison, perched on the end of the bed.  "It was pretty damn awesome," he said, dragging his claws through his hair and grimacing when he hit a tangle.  "Spent the whole day at this beach . . . Actually, we ended up sleeping there."

"Outside?  Well, I guess.  Did you just get back?"

Evan nodded and tucked the end of the towel a little more securely around his waist.  "Yeah.  It was raining when we woke up—what's that old expression?  Fish hooks and hammer handles?  Something like that?  Well, that's what it was doing . . . I imagine V's probably still soaking in a nice, hot bath right now.  Sneezed the whole way back . . . She even let me drive."

"She let you drive her car?  Her baby?  Is she feeling okay?"

Evan chuckled.  "Well, she said she was fine.  She said she was going to take some vitamin c and a nice, hot bath, then do some paperwork-crap."

Madison considered that and nodded.  "I'm sure, though I'm surprised she didn't come home with you."  She giggled and held out a smallish package.  "Happy belated birthday."

He took it and plopped down beside her.  "Thank you," he replied, kissing her on the cheek.  "I tried to talk her into it, but Mike's coming over in a while to bring by the proofs for me to look over, and she said she didn't feel like sitting in on the business talk . . . You know, I really don't care what the cover for the single looks like . . ."

"Yeah, but if you tell them that, then they'll just assume you won't ever care."

"I know," he replied, grinning at his friend.  "Next time, they'll release something really stupid if I leave them to their own devices."

She nodded slowly, her amusement still bright in her eyes.  "Hmm, and we wouldn't want that, now would we?"

He chuckled and turned his attention to the package in his hands.  "So what's this?"

Madison raised an eyebrow and shrugged.  "Just something I saw and thought of you," she said.  "Aren't you going to open it?"

His grin widened since he knew Madison's penchant for buying him the weirdest presents she could find for his birthday.  She didn't disappoint.  "Vintage erotic playing cards," he said, shuffling through the deck of very curvy Victorian era ladies bearing it all.  He'd seen some of the original paintings before in galleries around the world and some in books.  Some of the cards were quite worn, and he laughed.  "These are awesome!  Where'd you find them?"

"I saw them in a shop in SoHo last month and thought they'd be a perfect present for you."

Pulling her into a warm hug, Evan kissed her cheek again.  "Thank you."

She kissed him back and reached up to comb through his hair with her fingers.  "What did V get you?  Anything good?"

"Are you kidding me?  She found one of the Sex Pistols' albums—mint condition, too!"

Madison probably didn't understand the significance of that album, but she did know how much some of them could be worth since she hung out with Evan, and she looked duly impressed.  "Wow, how much did that set her back?"

Evan rolled his eyes though his smile didn't fade.  "She wouldn't tell me," he said.  "I offered to pay for it because I know it wasn't cheap."

"Oh, I'll bet she loved that," Madison retorted sarcastically.  "You can't pay for your own birthday present."

"I know, but damn . . . That thing had to be pretty damn salty."

"And she bought it for you because she wanted to, so you'd better let it drop because if I know Valerie, and I think I do, then she's going to get mad if you keep pestering her about the cost of it."

"All right; all right," he relented with a sigh.

She slowly shook her head.  "You have the weirdest habit of hating when people spend money on you, but you go out of your way to do that for them."

Evan considered that for a moment.  He supposed he did do that, but it wasn't exactly intentional.  He just hated for people who didn't really have that kind of money to just throw around to do so for his sake.

Madison sighed and stood up, taking a moment to smooth her skirt before turning to smile at Evan once more.  "I hate to gift and run, but some of us have work to do."

He caught her and hand and held her still as he got to his feet.  "Thank you for the present," he said, tugging her into a hug.

"Oh, yeah, while I'm here . . . Where did you put the spare key for my mailbox?"

Evan blinked then grinned.  "Don't tell me you lost another one," he scolded.

Madison sighed again.  "I didn't lose it," she insisted haughtily.  "I just misplaced it . . . about a week ago."  Her expression shifted into a pout, and she stomped her foot stubbornly.  "It's not my fault.  I didn't want them to switch the locks, but they were having too much trouble with the keypads . . ."

"I'll make a copy and have Bone drop it off later," he promised.  "Seriously, Maddy, you're going to be in trouble if something ever happens to me.  Who'll keep your spare keys then?"

She turned a pouty frown on him.  "That's a ridiculous question," she scoffed, brushing off his concern with a flick of her wrist.  "You're not going anywhere."

Evan nodded though he wasn't really in agreement.  Madison lost something on a daily basis.  Luckily for her, it wasn't often her keys, but it happened often enough, in his opinion.  He should get a frequent customer discount from the locksmith, all things considered . . .

"Thank you," she said, planting a quick kiss on his cheek.  He chuckled as she sashayed to the door, wiggling her fingers in farewell over her shoulder.

His smile didn't wane as he shuffled over to grab a pair of jeans out of the dresser drawer.  To be honest, he was rather hoping he could get through his business with Mike quickly so that he could go surprise Valerie.  Maybe she could get done with her work fast enough to humor him for a bit.  If not, he supposed he'd try to be good—at least, until she was finished working, that was . . .

He fastened the bottom two buttons on his fly before calling it good and striding from the room, and he wasn't too surprised to find Mike pouring himself a drink—looked like mineral water—when he lit at the bottom of the stairs minutes later.  "Hey, Mikey," he greeted.

Mike glanced up long enough to nod at him before capping the bottle of mineral water and stowing it back in the mini-fridge once more.  "Happy late birthday," he replied.  "Glad to see that you didn't get into any trouble yesterday."

Evan shot him a wolfish grin as he picked up the stack of mail that Bone had left for him.  "Nope.  I spent the day with V, so . . ."

"Yeah, well, I think I've bailed you out on more birthdays than not," Mike retorted dryly, tilting the glass to his lips.  "Maybe I should send her a gift basket."

"You didn't even give me a gift," he reminded his manager.  "You should do that before you send V one."

"No, way.  Sending her a little something is much cheaper than paying for bail."

Evan chuckled since that was pretty true.  Nothing interesting in the mail except a reminder that membership dues for his college alumni club were due, and he'd just forward that to his accountant, anyway . . . "So, where're the proofs?"

Mike tossed him a slim-file before flopping down on the sofa with a sigh.

Evan booted the file and frowned in concentration as he looked at the various cover designs.  All were pretty run-of-the-mill—shots of him superimposed over rather standard backgrounds, and he really wasn't too interested in which one ended up selling 'Blood Red Lips', to be completely honest.  "Third one," he said, closing the file and tossing it back to Mike.

Mike chuckled and set the file aside.  "And you didn't care about any of them," he said.

Evan shrugged.  "None of them were anything special, and Soundsations tends to get pissy if I were to try to tell them that I wanted a re-do," he reminded Mike.  "So of those choices, number three is the best of the blah."

"Yeah, well, I was talking to Ramón, and he and I actually came to an agreement of sorts."

Evan narrowed his gaze on his manager, arms automatically rising to cross over his chest, completely prepared for whatever battle was to come because the day that Mike agreed with anything that the little weasel, Ramón had to say was the day that hell froze over . . . "Pact of the devils?"

Mike grinned.  "Actually, no . . . but we were discussing it, and since I haven't really booked anything towards a world tour, Ramón suggested that you go ahead and start working on a new album, instead.  No hurry, really, but he wondered if you might have enough material to hit the studios by the end of this year."

Eyebrows lifting in a show of surprise, Evan blinked a few times as he tried to figure out whether or not Mike was being serious.  After all, the tours were where good ol' Mikey made most of his money, but Wicked Soundsations made more when he sold units, so the idea that Mike, of all people, would be pushing Evan to get back into the studio before they'd even messed around with a full world tour was . . . well, it was strange, to say the least . . . "No world tour?"

Mike rolled his eyes, apparently accurately assessing what was going through Evan's mind.  "Am I wrong in thinking that you might want to stick a little closer to home?  Between your mom's pregnancy and Valerie . . ."

"Yeah, I just . . ." Evan rubbed his chin for a minute, then shook his head.  "You know what?  I could try to figure out why you're being so agreeable or I could just go with it.  Think I'll just go with it."

Mike chuckled.  "In exchange . . ."

Letting out his breath in a rush, Evan nodded slowly.  "I knew there was a catch . . ."

Mike's chuckling escalated.  "In exchange, you promise me something."

Evan merely raised an eyebrow.  He'd learned long ago not to ever make a promise to that particular person without hearing it first.  "What kind of promise?"

Settling down, he deliberately took a long, deep drink then raised his glass, frowning at the ice dancing around in the sloshing water before answering.  "Marry that woman this summer—so you can get the hell back to work."

Evan stared at Mike for a long minute, and, while he didn't smile, it was a near enough thing.  It registered to him that Mike wasn't talking as his manager at the moment but as a friend—something that he usually reserved for moments of drunken stupidity, but he was completely lucid, and so was Evan . . . "I intend to, Mikey," he said, his tone deathly serious.  "I intend to."


-Valerie-


Rubbing her forehead, Valerie uttered a soft groan and closed her eyes for a moment.  Her back ached, her arms ached, her legs ached . . . and all of those aches were dulled by the throbbing in her skull that just wouldn't go away.

She'd already taken a couple acetaminophen tablets a while ago, but she'd only felt progressively worse since.  In fact, she was considering taking another pill or two, though she was trying to wait at least another hour or so.

She supposed it had started this morning.  Waking up in the middle of a rain shower hadn't exactly been the best, and, looking back, it had gotten pretty damn cold last night.  But Evan had been so warm, so welcome, that she hadn't done more than roll over once or twice before drifting back to sleep again, despite the cold that had seeped into her feet and other extremities that weren't being sheltered by Evan . . .

But when he woke her up this morning, they were both drenched to the bone.  He'd insisted that she sit in the warming car while he gathered up everything to take back with them, but she was sneezing by the time he'd joined her ten minutes later.  Those sneezes had plagued her the entire way, only to relent when coughing had taken their place halfway home.  The headache that she still had set in as they'd neared the city, and finally, Valerie had stopped just to let Evan drive the rest of the way.

The first thing she'd done when they got back was to pop about five vitamin c capsules, hoping that they would give her immune system a bump, but it was apparently too little, too late.

She was still stubbornly telling herself that if she didn't acknowledge it, then it wasn't true, damn it.  She couldn't possibly be—Well, she couldn't possibly be anything less than one-hundred-percent healthy.  She had too much work to do, too many things to get done.  She was too busy to let something like this get to her, right?

'Right.'

And that was that.

Grinding her jaws together when a violent chill ripped through her, Valerie glanced over at the windows, but they were all closed.

'I'm not . . . not sick,' she grumbled to herself.  'I don't get sick.  There's no way possible . . .'

She sneezed.

Then she groaned.

With a sigh, she pushed the chair back and slowly stood up to get a mug of herbal tea.  Maybe that would help to warm her up.  After all, she'd been cold all day, and even though the car was warm enough, it seemed like the heat hadn't really penetrated her as deeply as the cold had.  Not surprising.  It always took her forever to get warm, and the longer she was cold, the longer it seemed to take.

Still, she opened the cupboard that she kept medicine in and shuffled through the bottles while her tea water heated on the stove.  She had some cold remedies, but they were more than a year old—was that the last time she was sick?  She supposed it was, or maybe those were Marvin's; she didn't know.  Either way, they were too out of date to even think of taking any of it, and she set the containers on the cupboard.  She'd toss them out later.

She considered running to the drug store, but discarded that idea about as fast as it had occurred to her.  No, maybe she'd just take a couple more acetaminophen tablets and lie down for a while . . .

'Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,' she thought as she dropped a tea bag into an empty mug and carefully poured hot water over it.

Shaking a couple pills out of a bottle, she swallowed them with a handful of water out of the tap, wiping her mouth with the back of a shaking hand.  Her forehead felt hot to the touch, but she wasn't sure if that meant anything at all because her palm felt as though it were a chunk of ice.

So she picked up the mug and shuffled out of the kitchen, pausing only long enough to bump up the thermostat about ten degrees on her way to her bedroom.

'So cold; so cold,' she thought as she crawled beneath the thick blankets on her bed.  Teeth chattering uncontrollably, she uttered a small whimper.

"Evan," she whispered, squeezing her eyes closed as a single tear escaped her.  She wasn't sure why, but for some reason, she knew that he could help her feel better, even if only a little bit.


-Evan-


Hunkering down beside the bed, Evan frowned as he stared at Valerie's sleeping form.  He didn't have to touch her to know that she was burning up with fever, and he dug his cell phone out of his pocket, dialing it with one hand as he pressed the back of his hand against her cheek with the other.   "Fuck," he muttered, gritting his teeth as the phone rang once, twice.

"Hello?"

"Uh, hey, Griffin.  Is Isabelle around?"

Griffin Marin grunted in his usual fashion.  "Yeah, I think I can feel the floor rumbling near the kitchen," he remarked dryly.   "Jezebel, it's your cousin."

The distinct sound of a woman's laughter came to him, and Evan sighed impatiently.  "Hello?" she said.

"Isabelle," he said, tamping down the impatience that wouldn't get him anywhere at the moment.  "It's Evan."

"Hi, sweetie!  How's Valerie's dad?"

He registered the instant worry in her tone.  She thought he was calling because something had happened to Jack, didn't she?  "He's fine," Evan said.  "V's sick, though—really sick."

"Really sick?" Isabelle echoed.  "What are her symptoms?"

He grimaced.  "I don't really know, but she's got a fever.  She's burning up."

"Anything else?  Vomiting?  Diarrhea?"

Rubbing his face, Evan grunted.  "No, I don't think so," he said.  "I mean, it doesn't smell like it."

"Okay, good," she said.  "Does she have a thermometer?"

"I don't know . . . Hold on."  Leaning down, he gently rubbed her cheek.  "V?  Baby?"

"E-Evan?" she murmured, her gaze bleary, affected by the fever that was ravaging her senses.  Two fat tears slipped from the corners of her eyes, and he had to grit his teeth to keep from growling at the sight of them.

"Yeah . . . Tell me, do you have a thermometer?"

She seemed confused by his question, but after a few moments, she nodded.  "Bathroom," she murmured.

"Okay," he said, tucking her blankets up under her chin more securely.  "Go back to sleep."

She half-whined, half-moaned, and he figured that was her way of saying that she intended to, but he hurried out of the room and into the bathroom.  She had a digital thermometer in a black vinyl bag in the medicine cabinet, and he grabbed it before heading back to her room once more.

It only took him a second to press the sensor against her temple, and he grimaced when her temperature was displayed.  "102.5," he read into the phone.  "That's high, right?"

Isabelle sighed.  "It's high, but it's not bad unless we can't control it," she told him in a soothing tone.

"Then I need to get her to the hospital, right?"

"Don't jump the gun here, Evan," Isabelle went on.  "There's not a lot they'd be able to do for her either, especially if it's just the flu, which is what it sounds like.  You can do the same things for her there, and I'm sure she's more comfortable than she'd be in the hospital, anyway.  Unless she tells you that light is bothering her or she complains about her neck feeling stiff, then you shouldn't have to worry."

"But—"

"Evan, she's human, and humans get sick from time to time," Isabelle pointed out gently, albeit firmly.  "She'll be fine, I'm sure, but you need to listen to me."

"Can't you come take a look at her?"

Isabelle sighed.   "I'm in Maine, remember?  Even if I wanted to, it would take me hours to get there, and—"

"Please."

She sighed again.  "First things first, okay?  First thing we need to do is to try to get her fever under control.  Like I said, 102.5 isn't good, but it isn't life-threatening, either.  Does she have any kind of fever-reducer?  Acetaminophen or ibuprofen?  Either of those would work."

It only took him a minute to run to the kitchen and locate the bottle she'd left sitting on the counter next to some over the counter cold remedies.  He ignored those, though, and grabbed the bottle.  "Tylenol," he told Isabelle as he filled a glass of water.

"Okay, give her a couple of those, and try to get her to drink lots of fluids.  The biggest threat to her health isn't the fever at this point as much as it is dehydration.  Now, if her fever goes above 103.5 or 104, then you get her to the doctor."

"104?" he echoed incredulously.  "Isn't that dangerous?"

"I doubt it will get that high," she assured him.  Then she clucked her tongue.  "105 is the number where brain damage can occur, but honestly, it shouldn't go that high unless there's another cause for the fever, like meningitis, and she doesn't seem to have any symptoms of that . . . Look, I'm supposed to be in the city in a couple days for a conference, but if you'd like, I can see if I can't come early."

"Y-Yeah," he blurted.  "How soon can you get here?"

"I'll see what I can do, but until then, just make sure you keep her comfortable, give her Tylenol for her fever, and get her to drink as many fluids as you can.  Don't be surprised if her fever breaks but comes back again, either.  It happens."

"Isn't there anything else?"

Letting out a deep breath, Isabelle seemed to be thinking.  "Not really, Evan, but . . ."

"But, what?"

She laughed softly.  "But I think that just being there with her will help her immensely."

Heaving a sigh, Evan raked a hand through his hair and tried to resist the nearly overwhelming desire to lash out at Isabelle in frustration.  In the end, he took a few deep breaths and grimaced.  "It's my fault," he muttered, lowering his voice so that Valerie wouldn't hear him.

"How so?"

"We ended up sleeping on the beach, and it got pretty damn cold—and started raining," he said.  "I thought we should go home, but . . . but I didn't want to share her."

"That's not really your fault," Isabelle assured him.  "Valerie's a healthy woman, right?  Give her a few days, and I'm sure she'll be fine."

"But you're coming here?"

"As soon as I can, yes," she replied.  "Just give me a call if you're worried about anything before I get there, okay?"

"Yeah, okay," he muttered, ending the call and dropping the phone onto the nightstand before shaking out a couple pills and sitting on the edge of the bed.  "V . . ." he said, stroking her cheek to wake her up again.  "V . . ."

A soft whimper, and she opened her eyes just a little.  "E-Evan?" she squeaked as a few more tears seeped out.  "Evan?"

"Hey . . . Come on, I need you to sit up."

She whimpered some more in protest but didn't fight as he helped her sit up just enough to take the medicine.  "Here," he said, putting the pills in her hand and reaching for the glass of water.  "It'll help."

"You're here," she sniffled, leaning closer to him.  He grimaced as her shoulders shook precariously.  "That helps more."

She took the pills and drank a little water—not nearly as much as Evan would like, but she flat-out refused to drink more.  In the end, he sighed and got up to get more blankets out of the closet since she was still shaking like a leaf.  She whimpered in protest to the loss of his body heat, but he made quick work of spreading a couple more blankets over her, and then he climbed into the bed.

It was roasting under the blankets, but she just couldn't seem to get warm enough.  Cuddled against him, though, she was at least comfortable enough to sleep, and Evan turned off the lamp, wrapping his arms tighter around her, kissed her searing forehead, and scowled into the half-light, waiting for her fever to break . . .


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A/N:
'Dream On' by Aerosmith originally appeared on the 1973 release, Aerosmith.  Copyrighted to Steven Tyler.
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Dark Inu Fan ——— oblivion-bringr ——— slsonic ——— AtamaHitoride ——— sutlesarcasm ——— xSerenityx020
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Perfect time to put the moves on her, and she gets sick … figures!
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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~

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