InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Break ( Chapter 197 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' I try to say goodbye, and I choke ...
'I try to walk away, and I stumble
'Though I try to hide it, it's clear
'My world crumbles when you are not there …'

-'I Try' by Macy Gray.


-Evan-


Uttering a soft sigh as he opened his eyes, Evan blinked into the filmy light filling the bedroom and frowned.  He wasn't sure what time it was, but he could tell it was early, and he couldn't help the self-disgust that flowed over him.  He'd meant to stay awake.  It must have been after Valerie's fever had broken.  Unlike the other times, though, her temperature had returned to normal, and only then had he succumbed to sleep.

She was warm beside him but not feverish and probably exhausted.  God only knew he was . . .

'Yeah, that's not the only thing, either,' his youkai voice muttered.  'Damn, you stink . . .'

Wrinkling his nose—he'd been trying to ignore that for the moment—Evan sighed again.  Okay, it was true.  They both kind of reeked, actually.  It was to be expected, he figured.  Valerie's fever-induced body heat, coupled with the warmer than usual apartment as well as the mountain of blankets he'd piled on the bed to keep her warm had really taken a toll on him, and while he'd done a good job in changing the sheets daily and such, when her fever broke last night, well . . .

Still he was loathe to move, loathe to wake her.  It was the first time in days that he couldn't sense restlessness in her aura—the first good sleep she'd gotten since the fever had set in—and he yawned as his own exhaustion dropped on him like a ton of bricks.

He was in a lot of trouble, if he really stopped and thought about it.  If Mike had left one message, he'd left fifty, at least.  Evan had broken down and called him yesterday afternoon to let him know that he was with Valerie while she was sick, but there were a number of engagements that he'd missed in the meanwhile: interviews, a couple appearances, a meeting with Wicked Soundsations in regards to the new material that he was working on . . .

Mike had understood why Evan didn't want to leave Valerie's side, but the pragmatic business side of him had to be pretty unhappy about the whole thing.  After all, it wasn't really like Evan to blow off things, and he'd been doing that a lot more frequently of late.  The interviews weren't as big a deal, at least in Evan's opinion, but the appearances were a little more important, and the meeting?  As much as he might like to pretend otherwise, Evan really did care about those.  It wasn't that he didn't trust Mikey to handle things, but, being the control freak he tended to be when it came to Zel Roka, he liked to hear things first-hand.  In this case, though . . . well, he supposed that it was all right to let Mike deal with it.

Unable to stifle a wide yawn, Evan pulled Valerie a little closer.  Damned if he didn't feel like he'd been through a war.  The last four days had beaten the hell out of him, no doubt about it.  He was sure that it was nothing in comparison to how Valerie was bound to feel, but with any luck, she wouldn't have to suffer through something like that again—at least, if he had something to say about it, anyway . . .

"That's why . . . I'm scared of you . . . Why I need you . . . Why I love you . . ."

Just the memory of hearing those words from her was enough to draw a smile from him.  Yes, he knew that she was scared, and yes, he could understand why she felt the way she did.  All she needed was the faith to believe that he could give her all the things:    all those things that she told herself that she didn't want.  He'd convince her.  She wanted to be convinced; he was sure of that, too.  It was just a matter of time.

With a soft groan, Valerie shifted, digging her arm out from under the blankets to rub her face.

"Feeling better?" he asked groggily.

Valerie mumbled something and yawned.  "I've felt worse," she commented with a heavy sigh.  "Oh, my God . . . What day is it?"

"Thursday," he told her.  "You want a drink of water?"

"Yeah," she replied.  "Rather have coffee, but I don't think that's a good idea . . ."

Evan chuckled and rolled out of bed.  "I'll get you that water," he told her as he headed for the door.  "A piece of toast, too."

She muttered something—he thought that she might be telling him to forget the toast—as he strode out of the room.  Too bad, though.  She hadn't eaten anything in days, either, so he wasn't about to argue with her over it.

It didn't take him long to get it for her.  He knew that she liked to have a little drizzle of honey on toast, but that might be pushing things, so he skipped that, but he did spread a little butter on it—not nearly as much as he might put on his own, but she still might complain since she normally refused it.

She was sitting up when he slipped back into her room again.  Pale and a little shaky, she looked up at him and grimaced.  "You shouldn't have stayed with me," she said, her voice a bit ragged, but her gaze finally clear.  "If I get you sick, I'll feel bad . . ."

"Eh, don't worry about me," he scoffed with a wink.  "It takes a lot to make me sick."

She shot him a look designed to let him know just what she thought of his boastful statements.  He only grinned at her as he handed her the bottle of water.

She didn't say anything as she swallowed a good half of the contents before lowering it again.  "Ah . . . that's better," she breathed.  She smiled for a moment, but that smile faltered slightly, only to be replaced by a rather confused sort of expression.  "Did you . . . You stayed with me the whole time, didn't you?" she asked softly.

"Of course I did," he said, deliberately keeping his tone light, as though it were of no real consequence.

"Did you miss much?" she asked hesitantly.

He shrugged.  "Nothing important," he assured her, settling on the edge of the bed and handing her the toast.  "Here.  Eat that."

She didn't look like she wanted to do it, but in the end, she took a bite.  "You know, you stink, Roka," she remarked between nibbles.

He chuckled.  "Do I?  I hadn't noticed."

The absolute outlandishness of his statement made her laugh.  Then she sighed and shook her head.  "I don't know who smells worse: you or me," she grumbled.

"What are you talking about?" he joked.  "You don't smell at all!"

She blinked and stared at him for a minute before bursting into laughter.  He supposed he could understand that.  When her fever broke, she'd ended up in a full-out sweat, and he'd already been suffering with that, too, and, well, the stink in the room was pretty damn thick.  He didn't care.  Just seeing that she felt better was more than enough compensation for it, in his opinion.

"Don't worry.  I'll change the sheets and stuff while you take a bath.  How's that?"

She started to smile but wrinkled her nose instead.  "I don't know about a bath," she allowed.  "A shower, though . . . I'll change the sheets and stuff after that."

"No, you won't," he insisted stubbornly.  "I'll do it before I go home for a bit.  I need to clean up, too, and change my clothes . . . You don't really have anything here that'll fit me . . ." He paused and frowned at her.  "You'll be okay, right?  I won't be gone long."

"I think I can manage for a little while," she replied dryly though the smile on her face widened.

He nodded.  "All right, well, first, you need to finish that toast, and after your shower, promise me you'll get some sleep."

The mention of the word triggered a yawn, and Valerie scrunched up her shoulders, rolling her head back as she stretched.  "I'm exhausted," she admitted.  "You're coming back over?"

Pushing her hair out of her face, he didn't smile, but it was a close thing.  "Yeah . . . and if you're sleeping, I'll just crawl in bed with you."

She rolled her eyes but leaned into his hand.  "Did you get any sleep yourself?"

He opened his mouth to brush it off, but ended up grinning instead.  "Not a wink," he confessed.

She frowned at him.  "In four days?"

"I was worried about you," he admitted then sighed.  "I, uh . . . I even had my cousin come over to check you out.  She was in town for a medical conference."

She looked rather surprised by that, but she nodded.  "Oh . . . now that you mention it, I guess I do vaguely remember her . . . Isabelle, right?"

He nodded.  "Yep . . . She told me that I was being ridiculous," he grumbled.  "You sure you're feeling okay?"

"I'm sure," she insisted.  "Just really tired."

"I'm sure you are, but I'm glad you're feeling better," he said, leaning over to kiss her forehead.

"Me, too."


-Valerie-


Letting her eyes close as she leaned back in the tub, Valerie couldn't help the little sigh that escaped her as she savored the warmth of the water, seeping deep into her skin, into her pores.  The lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile oil she'd dropped in seemed to penetrate bone-deep, relaxing away the stiffness that days of illness had inspired.

After brushing her teeth, she'd taken a good, long shower, savoring the simple act of becoming clean.  Shampooing her hair had never felt so wonderful, rinsing off the feeling of clammy skin, of illness, left her feeling much better, but she wasn't quite ready to leave the bathroom, so she'd drawn a bath, too.

It was heaven, plain and simple.

Heaving a contented sigh, she slowly opened her eyes, blinking at the steam that was like a haze in the air.  There was still a bit of stiffness in her body, and she really was exhausted, but at least she was feeling somewhat human again, and that had to account for something.

And Evan . . .

He really had stayed with her the whole time, hadn't he?  Though much of the time was foggy in her head, she could remember waking up, only to find him there, holding her close as her body trembled with the chills brought on by the fever, as he'd given her medicine and forced her to drink water.  Always with a little smile, a reassuring tone of voice, even if she hadn't always comprehended what he was saying . . .

Trying to ignore the stab of guilt brought on by the memories, she sank down a little further in the tub.  He'd blown off everything for her, hadn't he?  And even if he said that it wasn't important, she knew better than anyone that it wasn't really true.  She might not know exactly what he'd been scheduled to do, but she was reasonably certain that Mike was probably pretty unhappy about Evan's abrupt cancellation, especially when he found out that Evan was playing nursemaid for her.  It pleased her—maybe more than it ought to—and yet, at the same time, she couldn't help but to feel as though he really shouldn't have done it.  Evan might not see it, but it was true.  Zel Roka . . . well, he certainly didn't belong to just one person, did he?  A little bit of him belonged to every single person who bought his albums, to every person who paid to download his music, to every member of every audience of every show he'd ever done . . .

Still, there wasn't really anything she could do about it, though she might call Mike, just to tell him that she was sorry that Evan was MIA for the last few days.  She'd probably just made his job that much more difficult, even if she hadn't meant to do any such thing.

Grimacing as she stretched out her legs, Valerie sighed.  She felt like she could easily sleep for a week or more.  The last time she could remember feeling so exhausted was the week when she'd followed Evan around on that bet, but this was a different kind of feeling completely.  Before, she'd just needed sleep, but now, there was more of a weariness to it, an endless lethargy, a blunted kind of sensation wrapped around her brain.  She felt dull, stupid—the kind of feeling that she only remembered after being very sick.  It would dissipate in a day or two, she was sure, as long as she got rest and plenty of it.

She hated that feeling most of all, though.  She was too used to being on top of her game, of keeping her mind sharp.  This was the reason she hated being sick, even if it rarely happened.  In fact, the last time she could remember having the flu that bad was back when she was in college.  She'd gotten the flu, probably because she'd spent a week pulling all-nighters to cram for finals at the end of her sophomore year.  Back then, she wasn't as good about taking care of herself, and the long hours had taken their toll.  She'd ended up with a nasty case of the flu, and it was only made worse when she'd gone to classes anyway to take her exams.  That time, she'd ended up sick for about a week.  At least this time, she hadn't gotten the stomach flu, too . . .

She made a face.  Yep, that would have definitely been worse.  Feverish and puking?  If that had been the case, would Evan have wanted to stay with her then?  For some reason, she thought that he probably would have, though he might not have been trying to joke with her today about being sick.  Maybe.

Reaching over, Valerie touched the control panel built into the side of the tub.  The radio came to life, and she smiled to herself as the sounds of one of Evan's older songs filled the air.  The first time she'd heard it was during a drive home from the airport.  She'd gone to pick up Marvin, and the song had come on the radio.  Marvin had given that little twitter of a laugh as he'd listened to the lyrics, and Valerie just shook her head.  This particular song wasn't quite as nasty as most of his others—it was clean enough to play on the radio, after all, but there was no doubt about the fact that it was completely and utterly about having sex, either.

That was the thing, wasn't it?  As bad as Evan's lyrics tended to be, the songs were all absolutely brilliant.  That was the reason he was so popular.  The man constantly reinvented himself with every single album—a tough thing to do, really.  None of his songs were like anything he'd done before; he didn't run the risk of falling into the cookie-cutter sounds that so many others did.  There were many times when Valerie heard song after song from artists that could have been a re-do of everything they had done before.  Evan did not fall into that trap.  He never did.  She supposed that it wasn't exactly intentional or even something he'd set out to do.  No, it was more that, once he'd done something, he was ready to move on, to try something else.  Always pushing the envelope, whether lyrically or instrumentally, he just never, ever was satisfied to do an all right job.  He had to excel; he had to surprise.  He had to shock.

The phone rang, and Valerie pressed the button, switching the radio to the speaker phone.  She half expected it to be Evan.  It wasn't.  "Hello?"

"Hey, sweetie!  Feeling better?"

Smiling wanly as Madison's warm voice greeted her, Valerie sighed.  "Yes, I am," she stated.

"Good!  Did you send Evan home to get cleaned up?"

"Yes," Valerie replied with a laugh.

Madison giggled.  "He looked pretty rough when I dropped off some clothes for him a couple days ago.  I hope he burned the ones he was wearing," she went on.  "Ugh . . ."

"That bad?"

"Mhmm . . . But that aside, I'm glad you're feeling better.  Evan said your fever was pretty high."

"Probably," she said.  She wasn't sure how bad it had been, but, given that a lot of things about those four days were still pretty hazy in her mind, she gathered that it had to have been bad enough.

"You know, when you're feeling up to it, you need to stop in the spa.  Nothing like a day of pampering to get you back on your feet after you've been sick, right?  My treat."

Valerie smiled.  "You don't have to treat," she insisted.  "But that does sound good.  Maybe this weekend . . ."

"I'll book you a spot," Madison assured her.  "I hate to ask since you've been so out of it, but I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor?"

"Sure, anything."

Madison drew a deep breath.  "I was wondering if you would mind if I borrowed that cute little gray skirt?   The leather one?"

Valerie blinked, trying to remember exactly what skirt Madison was talking about, and then she nodded.  "Oh, yeah, of course."

"You're sure?"

"Of course I'm sure.  Do you want to borrow the blouse that goes with it?"

"That's okay.  I just got an absolutely adorable blouse, but I couldn't find the right skirt."

"Big date?" Valerie couldn't resist asking.

"Ma-a-aybe," Madison drawled mysteriously.  "I'll come by later to pick it up then."

"Okay," Valerie said.  "I think I'm going to take a nap, but Evan said he was coming over again, so it shouldn't be a problem."

"Thank you, V!  You're a doll!  Love you bunches!"

Valerie laughed.  "You, too," she replied.

The call ended, and the radio picked up again.  With a sigh, Valerie sat up.  As much as she'd love to soak longer, she could feel drowsiness closing in on her fast, and the last thing she wanted to do was to fall asleep in the tub.  Besides, Evan had already changed the sheets and opened the window to air out the room, and the lure of fresh linen was entirely too hard to ignore.

She sang along to the song that was playing as she reached for a thick, fluffy towel.  In her haste to get into the shower, she must've forgotten to grab her bathrobe.  She vaguely remembered putting it on the other day when she'd tried to shower, and she wasn't entirely sure where it was, but she figured it might well be in the laundry room.  Not a big deal—at least the apartment was still warmer than normal, even if she did half-dread the cooler air outside the bathroom . . .

The song, 'V' started up, and Valerie giggled to herself.  She wasn't entirely sure why it amused her as much as it did, but she couldn't deny that she really did find the song to be entirely too catchy.  "'V, V, she's comin' for me . . . She's screaming my name . . . She's down on her knees . . .'" she sang along as she reached for the door handle and gave it a turn, as she patted her throat with the towel.  "'Closet bad . . . girl . . .'"

The words to the song trailed off as her eyes flared wide, as a gasp slipped from her lips.


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A/N:
'I Try' by Macy Gray originally appeared on the 1999 release, On How Life Is.  Copyrighted to Macy Gray, Jeremy Ruzumna, Jinsoo Lim, David Wilder.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Uh oh
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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 196
Chapter 198
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