InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Ugliness ( Chapter 200 )

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


-O oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach ...
'You'll never drill for oil on a city street
'I know you're lookin' for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
'But there ain't no Coupe de Ville
'Hidin' at the bottom of a Crackerjack box …'

-'Two out of Three ain't Bad' by Meatloaf.


-Valerie-


"Val!  Hey!  What are you doing here?"

Valerie blinked as she stared at Marvin, her brain slowing to a crawl.

"Go to Marvin, look him in the eye, and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself if that's the man you really want to spend the rest of your life with, and if he's not, then end it.  If he is . . ."

"Val . . .?"

Snapping out of her reverie, Valerie couldn't shake off those words as they echoed through her head.  There he was, right in front of her, and all she could think was . . . "Oh, I . . . I . . ."

Marvin laughed and grabbed her hand to drag her into the room.  "I'm so glad to see you!" he exclaimed, eyes glowing softly as he took a moment to look her up and down.  "I was just getting ready for dinner—meeting Abe Renslow from UNLV?  But I can wait for you to change, if you want.  Is someone bringing up your suitcase?"

"Uh, no," she hurried to say, managing a wan quirk of her lips.  "We . . . We need to talk."

"Oh, okay," he agreed.  "We can do that on the way to the restaurant, if you want . . . Traffic in this town's just crazy this time of day.  I took a shower and changed, but I tried to hurry since it took me about forty minutes to get over to the Regency Plaza yesterday, and that's not too far away."

Shaking her head slowly, Valerie tried to summon up the will to smile.  "I-I don't want to go," she said, waving a hand to dismiss his invitation.  "I've got a headache, and I think I'd rather just lie down a while."

Marvin's smile faded, only to be replaced by a concerned frown.  "You do look a little peaked . . . I just thought it was jetlag . . ." Trailing off, he seemed to be contemplating something, but in the end, he smiled instead.  "Do you want me to stay here with you?"



"You go ahead."

He looked like he was trying to decide whether or not he really ought to leave her.  "Do you want me to call down and see if I can't get something for you?  Tylenol or something?"

"Don't worry about me," she told him, gritting her teeth as the pounding in her skull escalated rapidly.  

"Go to Marvin, look him in the eye, and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself if that's the man you really want to spend the rest of your life with, and if he's not, then end it.  If he is . . ."

Swallowing hard, Valerie blinked fast as the hot wash of unwelcome tears flooded her vision, threatened to spill over.  Marvin didn't notice as he hurried over to the small sink to fill a plastic cup with water.  "Are you sure you want me to go?" he asked, his voice echoing strangely in the small alcove where the sink stood.  "Renslow wanted to talk shop, but if you want me to, I'm sure I can reschedule."

"No, don't," she rasped out, thankful for the seconds of reprieve as she struggled to regain a semblance of control over her rapidly fraying emotions.  "It's fine . . ."

Marvin chuckled and slipped the cup of water into her hand.  "So what brought you all the way out here?" he asked as he straightened the cuffs of the white shirt peering out of the sleeves of his dinner jacket.  "Don't get me wrong; I'm really glad you're here."

For some reason, Valerie's voice just didn't want to work, and she had to clear her throat a couple times.  "I just, um . . . We . . . We need to talk."

"Okay," he replied simply enough as a growing sense of . . . something . . . rose somewhere deep inside her.  "Then you get some rest.   You look like you could use it."

She nodded vaguely, absently aware when Marvin leaned up to kiss her cheek.  Something about it felt entirely perfunctory, but she didn't have time to remark upon it as Marvin let go of her and hurried to the door.

Just like that, he was gone.  For a brief moment, the sense that everything was all wrong gripped her so tightly that she almost ran after him—not to catch him, no, but to escape this farce of a reunion.

It was profoundly messed up, wasn't it?  Marvin really didn't have a clue, did he?  Had no real idea just what she was thinking, the things she'd been trying to avoid for so long.  Thick shame broke over her, wave after wave of the disgusting emotion, as hurtful and raw as anything had ever been to her.

"Go to Marvin, look him in the eye, and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself if that's the man you really want to spend the rest of your life with, and if he's not, then end it.  If he is . . ."

She knew, didn't she?  Knew the answers that were as frightening as the prospect of jumping right off a bridge without knowing whether or not there was anything below her to break the fall, and the truth was something she couldn't hide from any longer.  Yes, she loved Marvin.  Of course, she did.  She loved his devotion to his cause, loved that he was so driven to accomplish something so much greater than himself.  She loved that he, in his own way, had always allowed her the freedom to be whatever she wanted to be, and she knew that, no matter what, she would always want what was best for him.

But that wasn't her, was it?   Because as much as she loved him, she wasn't in love with him, and . . . and she never would be, either.  Somewhere out there was someone who would love him like that, and he really did deserve the chance to find her.  That's what Madison had been trying to say—what she'd told her all along, and Valerie simply hadn't wanted to hear it.

She hated the feelings of guilt that lingered around the edges of her thoughts.  Maybe it wasn't complete guilt, but she was starting to see things in a different light, but the thing was, it had taken both of them to agree that the relationship they shared was all right for them.  What she'd always seen as the freedom to be an individual . . . How much of it was Marvin's apathy?  How much of it was her own?  Or was it something else?  Was it more of an insecurity that if he demanded too much from her that she would push him away on Marvin's side of things?  And yet it made no sense, either, in Valerie's estimation.  Marvin was smart—brilliant, really.  He was a good man; one that any woman should consider herself lucky to have, but . . .

But it wasn't enough, was it . . .?  After meeting Evan, after getting to know what was under the rockstar façade that he wore so easily, she knew that it wasn't nearly enough . . .

Letting out a deep breath, she slipped off her jacket and laid it carefully over the back of the chair that faced the television before heading toward the bathroom.  As exhausted as she was, she couldn't help but think that maybe a warm shower would help to relax her—at least, enough that she'd be able to go to sleep because, despite being completely and utterly exhausted, she had a feeling that she wouldn't be able to stop thinking long enough to get any rest at all, but sometimes, taking a shower would help her.

Deliberately blocking everything from her mind, she removed her clothes, stepped into the steaming flow of water with a sigh.  Just standing as the warmth rained down upon her but without really feeling it at all.  As though the emotions were enough to completely deaden her nerves, she felt leaden, hollow . . . empty . . .

"Go to Marvin, look him in the eye, and be honest with yourself.  Ask yourself if that's the man you really want to spend the rest of your life with, and if he's not, then end it.  If he is . . ."

She couldn't drown out those words, that mantra . . . that question that scared her to her very core because the answer she'd found . . .

It didn't matter, did it?  It didn't matter what she tried to tell herself, what the logical part of her brain wanted to believe.  The part of her that Evan had managed to reach—a part of herself that she'd believed she'd hidden away long ago—was the same part of her whose voice grew louder, stronger inside her.  Maybe Marvin was the choice that she had convinced herself was what she needed, but Evan . . . How long was she willing to try to keep denying what her heart already knew?  What a fool believed . . .

As if she'd actually had to do that.  She hadn't had to travel across the country, had she?  The answer had been there in front of her the whole time: the answer that Madison had tried to get her to see—the answer she hadn't wanted, that she'd feared more than anything else in the world.  The truth, and . . . and the unrelenting panic that made her squeeze her eyes closed, gasp for breath in the silence.

"Who do you think is more pathetic: the bastard who writes that one song that breaks your heart . . . or the person who can't do anything but listen to it?"

She knew the answer to that now, didn't she?  The answer was neither.  The one she would feel sorriest for was the one who heard that song a thousand times but ignored the words until the damage was far too great to ever be undone; that was who . . .

She was the one who was the most pathetic of them all.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie reached out, shut off the tap.  Rubbing her hair with a bleached white hotel towel, wrapping herself in an oversized, well-washed robe with the slightly faded name of the hotel embroidered in neat script over the left breast, Valerie pulled the belt closed, stared for a moment at her clothes, neatly folded on the counter beside the sink.  Her cell phone lay on top of them, but there was no message, no light indicating a missed call . . . no . . . no Evan . . .

And somehow, that realization triggered a pain so deep, so engulfing, that she leaned against the counter for a moment as she struggled to let it pass.  It slowly did, but the ache that lingered was bitter and almost overwhelming.

Shuffling out of the bathroom, Valerie crawled into the bed and peeked at the clock before closing her eyes.  Five o'clock.  Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard that nagging voice reminding her that it was a bad idea to go to sleep with wet hair, but at the moment, she just didn't care.  Too tired to think, too tired to try to reason everything out in her head . . . It also registered to her in an absent sort of way that she likely did have a slight fever, but it wasn't enough to worry about.

No, she'd just rest for a few minutes—maybe an hour.

Then she'd figure out just how she was supposed to tell Marvin that she just couldn't marry him, after all . . .



-Valerie-


Lips.

The crush of lips, the stroke of a hand over her body . . .

Stunted breaths, warm and moist on her skin . . .

That look on his face when she opened the bathroom door, the absolute heat in his gaze and the unquestioned power in his hands as he grabbed her, as he kissed her . . . The hunger that ignited was frightening and heady, welcome and consuming . . .

'Evan . . .' she thought as bemusement warred with sleepiness.  As if her brain wasn't quite willing to let go of the comfort of oblivion, a dense fog permeating her senses . . .

There was no resistance.  It was the one thing she understood.  When everything else spun away, Evan was the one she understood, and it was all going to be all right, wasn't it?  Because he was there; because she loved him . . . and it was all right to kiss him back, to revel in the touch of the flesh, of his lips on hers . . .

But she . . . she wanted to wake up, didn't she . . .?  Because Evan . . .

He had come for her, hadn't he?  That was why he hadn't called back, why he hadn't returned her message . . . 'Evan . . .'

A strange sense of weight upon her—his body pushing against hers, and it was the most natural thing in the world, wasn't it?  Opening herself up for him, allowing him everything, everything . . .

But . . .

"Val . . ."

With a soft gasp, her eyes flashing wide open, the lingering sleepiness that tried to cling to her was hard to escape.  Reality hit her a moment later, and Valerie flinched, reaching up with both hands to push Marvin aside, but he groaned, his body tensing as he spent himself, and he leaned down to kiss her before letting himself fall to the side, his labored breathing loud, harsh in the resounding quiet.

Valerie lay, completely frozen, unable to move at all as she fought to make sense of what had just happened.  A minute later, she tossed the covers aside, yanking the robe closed once more as she stumbled out of the bed.

Marvin muttered something—she thought he might be asking her if she was okay.  But he already sounded as though he were almost asleep, and she didn't answer as she hurried around the corner and into the bathroom, closing the door behind herself, hands shaking as she turned the lock, as she slumped against it, squeezing her eyes closed as a violent stem of sheer dread took hold of her.

It wasn't Evan.  He wasn't Evan.

Even in her addled mind, those words kept repeating.  She had thought that it was him, had been dreaming that it was him . . . It was supposed to be him, wasn't it?  Evan . . .

A soft knock on the other side of the door startled her, and she couldn't control the sharp cry that squeezed out of her as she skittered across the room, recoiling as though she thought that Marvin was somehow going to break down the door.

"Val?  Are you okay?"

Even through the barrier, she could make out the genuine concern in his tone, and it only served to deepen the confusion, the upset.  "I-I'm fine," she managed, unable to bear the thought of opening the door, of coming face to face with him again.  A cloying sense of guilt was rising fast—the feeling that she'd betrayed Evan spinning round and round in her head.

". . . You're sure?" Marvin tried again.

Sinking down on the toilet, her hands gripping her hair, Valerie squeezed her eyes closed, trying to force down the sob that was rapidly rising in her throat.  She couldn't see him, didn't want to see him, and the very idea of seeing him brought on a wave of hysteria.  "Yes," she choked out.  "Go . . . Go back to . . . to bed."

'Evan . . . Oh, my God . . . What did I . . .?'

Marvin didn't answer her, but she thought she heard him shuffle away from the door as a pathetic little squeak escaped her along with two fat tears.

Just what had she done?

Evan, with his tender words . . . Evan, who dropped everything to take care of her while she was sick . . . Evan, who hated to leave her alone, even if it was only for a few hours . . . and . . .

Choking back another sob, Valerie shook her head slowly, miserably.  Eyes burning though tears were far from coming, as though the guilt and shame was just too much for her, as though she simply couldn't afford herself the luxury of tears to alleviate even a modicum of the self-disgust that rose up inside her . . .

She'd betrayed Evan, hadn't she?  Cheated on him . . .? And even if she hadn't had any intention to do that at all, it didn't change what had happened, did it?

Bile rose in her throat, and she swallowed hard, shaking her head, willing herself to let the nausea pass.  Heartsick . . . Could a breaking heart cause her body to react so violently?  Yes, she supposed that it could . . .

Wrapping her arms around herself, she rocked slowly back and forth, as though she were trying to comfort herself—maybe she was . . . and she'd never, ever felt quite so alone in her life . . .

It was crystal clear to her, wasn't it?  No matter what kind of lies she'd tried to convince herself of, no matter what kind of reasoning she'd used over and over again, the truth of it all had been staring her in the face.  All she wanted—everything she wanted—was wrapped up in Evan, not Marvin . . .

A sudden, vicious pang shot through her—a wild, desperate need to reach him, to convince herself that he was still there . . .

The chime of her cell phone wrung a little cry from her that she stifled before it could escape fully.  Her hands were shaking so badly that she nearly dropped the device as she picked it up.  Just the sight of Evan's name on the display was enough to hurt her, but she forced herself to open the message, blinking furiously to clear her vision to read it.

'Night, V,' was all it said.

She didn't know how long she sat there, staring at her cell phone, rereading Evan's message over and over again.  A sudden and savage desire to see him shot through her.  She needed to see him, didn't she?  Needed to tell him that she . . . that she loved him . . . that she was so sorry for so many different things . . . that if he could just find it in his heart to forgive her . . . and if he couldn't . . . Well, she'd figure that out, too . . .

But he had a way of making things okay for her, didn't he?  Could he do that for her this time?  Would he even want to?

Even as she sat there, struggling for a semblance of calm that she was far from feeling, she couldn't ignore it: the growing need to see him, to see Evan . . . As long as he would still have her . . . Everything else would work itself out, wouldn't it . . .?


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Two out of Three ain't Bad' by Meatloaf originally appeared on the 1973 release, Bat out of Hell.  Copyrighted to Jim Steinman.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Whatjust happened …?
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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 199
Chapter 201
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