InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Longest Day ( Chapter 196 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'I don't care what consequence it brings ...
'I have been a fool for lesser things
'I want you so bad
'I think you ought to know that
'I intend to hold you for the longest time …'

-'The Longest Time' by Billy Joel.


-Evan-


"It's the flu."

Evan scowled at Isabelle and crossed his arms over his chest.  "That's all you've got to say?" he demanded.

Arching a delicate eyebrow, Isabelle slowly shook her head.  "I'm sorry, Evan, but that's all I can really tell you.  Be glad it's nothing more serious.  She'll be fine in a few days.  It's just taking her a little bit of time for the virus to run its course."

"But she's suffering!" he growled.  "There has to be something you can do!"

Grasping his shoulders, she gave him a little shake.  "I know you're just thinking about her, but I'm telling you, the best thing for her is to let her body fight it off.  She's doing everything she can, and the only real thing you can do is to shut up and wait."  She paused for a moment and wrinkled her nose.  "And take a shower, too.  You stink."

That earned her another scowl.  "Thanks for the professional advice," he snapped, shoving her hands away.

"It hasn't even been twenty-four hours yet," she pointed out.  Then she yawned.  "Look, I'm going to go get a few hours' sleep.  Call me if you need anything.  Otherwise, I'll come by later on and check up on her again, okay?"

"What about . . . What about if I marked her?" he suddenly blurted.

Isabelle blinked and stared at him as though she were trying to decide whether or not he was being serious.  She must've figured that he was because she quickly shook her head and pinned him with a very serious look.  "Not only is that completely unnecessary at this point, you'd be doing something that cannot be undone, and while you might be sure that she's your mate, if I'm not wrong, you've not told her about that, now have you?"

He grunted but didn't back down.  "It would help her immune system, wouldn't it?"

"Considering she's already running a fever, it could do more harm than good at the moment, and even if it did give some sort of boost, it wouldn't be enough to make her better any faster than she will be now.  Need I remind you that she's a very healthy woman, she's young, and she is only battling the flu, which is probably one of the most common human ailments there is.  She'll be fine; I promise you."

He hated it: the helpless feeling that engulfed him.  "Even a day less is better than nothing," he growled.

"You cannot do such a thing without talking to her about it first," she insisted, her tone taking on a gentler cadence.  "I know you love her, and I know that there's nothing you wouldn't do for her . . . and I know that you want to do more, but really, just being here with her is more than enough."

He snorted but didn't respond as he watched Isabelle gather her bag and head for the door.

"Seriously, you really should consider that shower," she said again as she turned the handle and let herself out of the apartment.  He almost took off after her, to demand that she stay in case Valerie's fever worsened or something.

'Calm down,' his youkai voice said.  'As much as you hate it, you know Isabelle's right.  Besides, you also know damn well that she must've hopped right into her car and drove straight through, and she did that for you.  Don't be ungrateful.'

Heaving a sigh, he raked his hands through his hair angrily.  Yes, he knew that.  She'd have to have done just that, and he appreciated it.  It was a small consolation when all she'd done was check Valerie's temperature, vitals, pronounce very candidly that Valerie had the flu, and that was pretty much it.

And it didn't really help, either, that what Isabelle had said made sense.  Somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd known the answer before he'd ever asked the question.  He was so desperate to do something—anything—that he'd had to ask.

'But you don't want her that way, and you know it,' his youkai-voice reasoned.  'You want her to be your mate for all the right reasons and in all the right ways.'

Yes, he did.  That didn't stop him from wishing that it could have helped her.

Picking up the bottle of pills that Isabelle had given to him for her, he frowned at it as he turned it over in his hand.  According to her, it was just a slightly stronger medicine to help her fever.  She'd already given Valerie one dose of it despite Valerie's protests at being forced to sit up and take it.  She didn't need another dose until later in the afternoon.

She whined softly when he slipped back into her room, her brow furrowed as though she were in pain.  Setting the pill bottle on the nightstand, Evan slipped back into the bed.  She calmed down as soon as he pulled her against him.  He'd intended to take a quick shower, but he couldn't stand to hear her, to know that there was nothing he could do for her except to hold her, to watch over her while she fitfully slept . . .

"Ev . . . an . . .?"

He stroked her hair, gritted his teeth at the waves of heat that poured off her.  "Hmm?"

"So good . . . to me . . ." she murmured, her eyelashes spiky from the tears that she couldn't seem to control.  Isabelle had said that maybe the fever made her feel bad enough that she couldn't help it.  That just irritated him even more . . .

"Go to sleep, V . . . You need your rest to fight the fever."

I don't want to be sick," she whined, and he grimaced when he smelled her fresh tears.  "I . . . I ruined your birthday . . ."

"No, you didn't," he hurriedly told her.  "My birthday was perfect.  I got to spend it with you, right?"

"Next year," she murmured, tightening her fist around a handful of his hair, "next year . . . We'll go sky diving . . ."

He chuckled softly.  "Anything you want."

"Just you," she said, her voice thickening as sleep started to draw her away.  "Just you . . ."

Evan sighed, stroking her hair, rubbing her back gently.  "Me, too . . . Now, go to sleep."

"Will you . . . Stay with me . . .?"

Pressing his lips to her forehead, he frowned.  "Always."

She seemed to sigh, relaxed as the chills that had been running amok in her body seemed to subside, and within minutes, he knew that she was sleeping.

He was exhausted, yet he couldn't close his eyes, and he had a feeling that he wasn't going to be able to do so until he was sure that she was going to be fine.  It didn't matter, did it?  Despite what Isabelle might say, he couldn't shake the fear, the unreasonable and unwelcome feeling that everything was hanging by a thread, that one false move, even one tiny mistake, could cost him, and cost him dearly . . . He wanted to believe that she was going to be fine, and he trusted Isabelle, of course he did.

But maybe it was because he was youkai, at least, for all intents and purposes, because he never really witnessed this kind of thing before—at least, not like this.  Sure, he'd had friends in school who had the flu at different times, and he knew well enough that it was a common ailment, but it was easy to forget about things like that when he himself had never had to go through it, when no one that was really close to him had really succumbed to such a thing.

His cell phone rang, but he'd left it in the living room, and there was no way he was going to get up to see who was calling.  If it was important, they could leave a voice mail.  Besides, he was kind of glad that it was out there since the very last thing he wanted to do was to wake Valerie up for such a dumb reason.

She looked so much smaller, frailer, weaker, didn't she?  Like the illness had greatly diminished her physically, but that was just an illusion.  She hadn't been sick long enough for anything of the sort to have happened.  He ought to wake her up to try to get her to drink some water, but he just didn't have the heart to do that.  After all, she'd been awake so much during the night that she needed to get some rest.  True enough, she wasn't exactly coherent most of the time, but still . . .

It just pissed him the hell off that there really wasn't a damn thing he could do for her.  Never in his life had he ever felt quite so weak, so powerless, and it just didn't set well with him in the least.

Heaving a sigh, he settled for the only thing he could do: pulling her closer, watching over her while she slept, promising himself over and over again that he'd make sure she was fine no matter what.

'No matter what . . .'


-Evan-


"How's she doing?"

Evan sighed and refrained from giving the smart-ass reply that rapidly formed in his head.  "The fever broke around noon but came back a little worse about an hour later," he said.

Isabelle let out a deep breath.  "How much worse is a little?"

"Just a couple tenths of a degree . . . figured you'd tell me the same shit if I called you about it."

She laughed at his surly tone.  "You're probably right," she agreed.  "Do you want me to come by to check on her?"

It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her that he did, but instead, he sighed again.  "You're sure it's just the flu?"

"Yes, I'm sure," she said.

"Then I guess not," he grumbled, half-hoping that she'd decide that she really ought to do it, anyway.

"Okay, but do give me a call if her fever goes up too much."

"Yeah, will do."

Snapping the phone closed, he set it aside long enough to stuff the sheets into the laundry unit.

During the hour when her fever had broken, he'd managed to change her sheets while she was in the bathroom.  Then she'd decided to take a shower, and he wasn't sure if that had somehow triggered her fever to return or not, but by the time she was finished drying off and dressing, she was shaking like a leaf again, and he'd had to carry her back to bed.  Then she'd fussed at him for making her take medicine before he'd leave her alone and let her sleep, but she hadn't been able to rest until he'd crawled into the bed with her again.

And he would have stayed there longer, but Madison had stopped by to drop off a change of clothes for him.  Valerie was sleeping when he'd gone to take a quick shower, and she hadn't stirred at all, which was why he'd taken the time to put in the wash.

What bothered him most were the things that she'd babble about at different times.  Everything from childhood memories to things he was pretty sure had to have been weird dreams—she'd asked him if he'd hung up her belly dancer outfit, amongst other things . . . It wasn't that he found the things she said to be annoying or anything, but if she was sick enough to be having hallucinations, then why wasn't she in the hospital?  Isabelle had said, though, that he shouldn't read too much into anything she said while she was sick because a lot of people tended to float in a kind of half-world, trapped between reality and their dreams at such times.

Rubbing his eyes, he slumped against the laundry unit before turning around to set the wash and dry cycles.  That done, he shuffled out of the room, smacking the light panel in passing to shut it off before grabbing a bottle of water and heading back to Valerie's room again.

She was still sleeping when he slipped back into the bed again, and he frowned as he checked her temperature.  It was a few tenths of a degree lower than it was, though he wasn't entirely sure what it meant.  He'd been wondering about that, too.  Either the medicine wasn't working or her fever was worse than he'd thought because it never seemed to fluctuate more than maybe half a degree, but that half a degree seemed to have a bearing on whether she was lucid enough to say things that made any sense or not.

She groaned softly but didn't open her eyes.  Evan touched her cheek gently, though he wasn't trying to wake her as much as he was just trying to reassure her that she wasn't alone.  The simple gesture did the trick, though, and her brow smoothed out as her sleep deepened.

Almost forty-eight hours so far—at least, since he'd come over to find her burning up with fever, anyway.  Isabelle had said that it could last anywhere from a day to a week, to which he had promptly accused her of being a quack.  She, of course, had just laughed at him, which truly figured.

He just wanted Valerie to get better, damn it.  He didn't want her to suffer, and he hated the feeling of utter helplessness.  He'd hoped that her fever breaking earlier had been the last of it, but no, and now she seemed no better than she was before that had happened . . .

A day to a week of this . . .? Gritting his teeth as Valerie whimpered in her sleep, Evan smoothed her hair, uttering sounds to sooth her.  How the hell did humans deal with this kind of thing, and why was it that they acted like it wasn't a big deal?  Maybe they were stronger than youkai, but in a kind of desperate way—resigned to the idea that things like this happened, that it was par for course and nothing to be alarmed over, but try as he might, he couldn't bring himself to be as blasé about the whole thing, either.

"Y-You're still here," Valerie murmured, a quiet note of wonder in her tone.

Evan blinked and looked down at her.  She hadn't opened her eyes, and her skin still felt hot and dry to his touch.  "Of course I am, V," he replied.  "You need someone to take care of you, right?"

She sniffled.  "Because I'm sick?"

Grimacing at the sob that caught in her voice, Evan swallowed hard and kissed her forehead.  "I'd be here even if you weren't," he told her.  "You . . . you know that, right?"

"Be . . . Because you love me," she whispered.  "You love me more than anyone else ever has . . ."

"I . . . I love you more than anyone else ever will," he said.

She didn't reply for a while.  He was starting to think she'd fallen asleep, but she drew a ragged breath, scooting closer to him.  "I want to love you," she admitted.  "More than anything . . ."

For some reason, her words nearly choked him, and he blinked fast as unwelcome moisture clouded his vision.  "But you're scared?" he rasped out.

She nodded vaguely, a small sob slipping from her as the heat of tears dampened his chest.

"I swear to you, V . . . I . . . I'll love you forever," he whispered.

Opening her eyes, her gaze hazy from the sickness that plagued her, she smiled wanly—pretty pathetic, given the tears that stood in her eyes.  Then she closed her eyes and sighed softly, balancing on the cusp of awake and asleep, and when she spoke again, he had to strain to hear her.  "I think . . . I think I love you already . . ."

Painfully, dizzily, his heart seemed to stop, to freeze, to stand still, as his brain struggled to make sense of the words she'd just uttered.  'Did she . . .?  Did she really . . .?'

She did, didn't she?  She'd just said . . .

"It's nothing to worry about, Evan.  It's just that when the body's temperature rises higher than normal, the brain can be slightly affected, which can result in thoughts or dreams—even hallucinations—but it's not really a cause for concern unless the fever goes too high . . ."

He'd heard Isabelle's words, and maybe that was true, but . . . But she sounded lucid enough, didn't she?

He had to clear his throat a few times before he could get his voice to work.  By the time he had his heart was hammering against his ribcage like a wild animal trying to escape a cage.  "Glad to hear it," he heard himself saying.  "I was starting to think that you were immune to me."

"You know better," she muttered.  "Thirsty . . ."

He smiled.  For some reason, it reassured him that she wasn't just saying things because of the fever.  Maybe it meant . . . Maybe she meant what she'd said . . . "Okay . . . sit up, and I'll get you some water."

She nodded but didn't move.  Well, no, that wasn't exactly true.  She did move: she scooted a little closer to him.

He chuckled and kissed her forehead.  "I can't help you get a drink if you don't try to sit up," he told her gently.

"I know," she murmured, her voice a little sluggish and slurred.

As loathe as he was to do it, Evan pushed himself up. Valerie uttered a whine of protest as he leaned away to snag the bottle of water off the nightstand.  "Here," he said, slipping it into her hands so that he could reach the medicine.  "Take these . . ."

She did with minimal complaint.  He was pleased enough to see that she drank about half of the bottle of water before she pushed it into his hand again.  He set it aside and scooched down in the bed once more.  Valerie huddled against him, a few shivers rattling through her but not quite as bad as before.

For several minutes, she didn't speak, and Evan had started to think that maybe she'd drifted off again.  When she did, though, her voice was a little less shaky than it had been.  "Y'think maybe it was a mistake . . .?"

He frowned, mostly because he wasn't entirely sure what she was talking about.  "What's that?"

She half-sighed, half-moaned.  "I . . . was afraid . . . Being alone with Kaci Lea . . . You're good at changing people's minds.  I'm . . . I'm not."

Her words brought a wan smile to his lips: a pained smile of the one who knows there's nothing else he can do.  "You'll get through to her eventually," he said.

"The one thing you can't do for me," she said, her voice growing a little thick.  Tears weren't far behind.  He could hear them, but . . . "You've done everything else . . ."

"Maybe I can't fix things for you with your sister," he allowed, "but I can . . . can tell you that eventually, you'll get to her if you just keep trying."

She forced her eyes open.  Bloodshot and glassy from the fever, red rimmed from the tears that she couldn't seem to control, she somehow managed a trembling smile, even as a single tear slipped from the corner of her eye.  She stared at him for a moment, and then she lay back down, nestling against his chest, her breathing tremulous.  "You make me need you more every day, you know," she whispered.  "That's why . . . I'm scared of you . . . Why I need you . . . Why I love you . . ."

Evan closed his eyes, hating the part of himself that understood what she meant because sometimes, it scared him, too, and reveling at her confession all over again.  Was it the rawness in her voice?  The emotion that made her falter?  Tremble?  Drawing a deep breath, he tucked her head under his chin, listening to the sound of her breathing.  "You . . . You don't have to be scared," he said, unable to trust his own voice to keep from cracking as he whispered back to her, his lips buried in her hair.  "There's only one woman for me.  There'll only ever be one woman for me . . . I'm . . ." trailing off, he had to will his heart to steady.  Had he ever thought that it would be that difficult?  No, he supposed he never had . . . "I'm not human, you see?  And what I am . . . We only have one mate—one true mate . . . and you're mine."

She said nothing for one minute, two minutes.  Opening his eyes, Evan leaned back, gazed down at her.

And sighed.

She'd fallen asleep, hadn't she?  She hadn't heard a single word he'd said, and didn't that just figure . . .?

Letting out a deep breath, he slowly shook his head.  Then he chuckled as the irony of the situation hit him full-on.  'Ah, well,' he thought as he gathered her close one more time.  He'd tell again later.  He'd make her understand that the fear that was the final barrier between them didn't have to exist, at all . . .


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A/N:
'The Longest Time' by Billy Joel originally appeared on the 1983 release, An Innocent Man.  Copyrighted to Billy Joel.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
I knew it!  She adores me!
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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 195
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