InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Devastation ( Chapter 206 )

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


-OoOoOoOo OoOoOoOoOoO-

'We seem to have a knack for miscommunication ...
'It stabbed us in the back this time
'Is this the end of the line …?
''Cause that'd be a crime …'

-'Miscommunication' by Delta Goodrem.


-Evan-


'What . . .? What are we going to do now . . .?'

Ignoring the question posed by his youkai-voice, Evan flopped back against the pillows and stared at his reflection in the mirrors mounted on the ceiling as the sound of Valerie's voice echoed through his head.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this . . .! I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry . . . I'm sorry, Evan . . ." Sorry, sorry, sorry . . .

Wincing as a dull but steady ache erupted in his chest, Evan squeezed his eyes closed, tried to block out those words.

He couldn't.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this . . .! I should have . . . Oh, God!  What was I thinking . . .?"

It was . . .

All of it was . . .

"A . . . mistake," Evan murmured, wincing as a searing ache shot through him.  He was a mistake—what they'd shared . . . It was all a mistake?

There really was nothing left, was there?  He'd given her absolutely everything he had to give, and yet, it still wasn't enough.  He hadn't held anything back from her, couldn't resist her, laid it all there, right out in the open, but it wasn't enough.  She'd still chosen Marvin . . .?

"—I had already decided that it's over with Marvin, and—"

So . . . So, why . . .?  Why did she need to go call him?  There was no rhyme, no reason, and yet, he couldn't bring himself to think that she'd lied to him, either.  What was the point in that, anyway?  She was already engaged to that little fucker, wasn't she?  She'd slept with him, but she'd said that she had thought that it was Evan.

Still . . .

Wincing again, Evan sighed.  Did it really matter?  All the questions, and even if he got the answers, it wouldn't change a damn thing because . . . 'Because . . . I lost.  Because he's 'safe' . . .'

And that was what it really was to her, wasn't it?  Everything—everything—boiled down to that one abstract idea—the safety that she didn't believe Evan could ever offer her.  That sense of security that she'd always lacked in her life was something that Marvin had always given her, no matter what.  Safe because she didn't love him.  Safe because she never would, and Evan?

Grimacing, he knew the answer to that, too.  Evan was about as far as she could possibly get from 'safe', from 'security'—from all those things that she thought she needed.  Maybe she did, and didn't he know better than anyone that she had a lifetime of disappointment, of being scared, to reinforce that idea in her mind?  He could blame her parents.  After all, it was their basic failures that had spawned the feelings that Valerie still couldn't come to terms with.  He could blame her numerous exes for their unwitting contributions to her anxiety, but what was the point?  It wasn't going to change anything, and if the best he could do still wasn't enough, maybe . . . Maybe . . .

Maybe he should be angry.  Maybe he should be pissed as hell that she'd effectively taken him for the proverbial ride.  Maybe he ought to curse her and rant about her, maybe break a few things, maybe scream at her until he was blue in the face so that she could understand even a modicum of the absolute desolation he felt right now, but . . . But he couldn't do that, either, could he?  He'd be lying if he tried to say that a part of him didn't want to do that—maybe more than just a part of him.

But somehow, he couldn't.  He couldn't bring himself to muster up that anger, couldn't convince himself that she'd ever really meant to hurt him.  He wanted to.  He'd be lying if he tried to say that he didn't.  He just . . . just couldn't.

Because he loved her, and because he loved her . . .

He'd done it all, had tried it all, everything he could possibly think of to convince her.  In the end, as much as she might have wanted to believe him, she couldn't, and maybe a small part of him could understand that, too.  The reality of it all was simple.  There was just one thing left that he could possibly do, one thing for her, one very last thing: something that she needed, even if she didn't realize that she did . . .

The vibration of his cell phone brought him out of his reverie.  Evan reached over to grab it, ready to send the call to voicemail, but stopped as the familiar name greeted him, but he couldn't muster a smile as he connected the call, as he brought the device to his ear.  The one person he had wanted to talk to, if only to make the necessary arrangements so that he could really say that he'd done everything for Valerie that was in his power to do.  "Hey."

"Evan?  Sweetie!  It's Mama!"

"Morning, Mama.  How's my best girl?"

She laughed softly.  "Just fine, of course!  Are you doing all right?"

Swallowing hard—why was it that the sound of her voice brought a thickness to his throat, a hot ache to his eyes?—Evan blinked a few times.  "Never better," he lied, hoping that she couldn't discern anything amiss in his voice.  "What's up?"

Gin sighed.  "Do I have to have a reason to call you?" she pouted.

"Of course not," he assured her, and this time, he managed a wan smile.  "You know you don't."

"Good!  But actually, I was wondering if you were going to be coming home anytime soon?  Just for a visit?  I mean, I know you're such a busy man, but I miss you so much . . . The house is just so quiet without you here, and I know you've been on your own for a while now, so you'd think that I'd be used to it, but I'm not . . ."

"Uh . . . I . . . I don't know about that," he replied, unable to repress the tender little smile at his mother's babbling.  "Been pretty busy lately."

"Oh, that's too bad . . . I was hoping you'd make it home around Memorial Day—Your father mentioned maybe having a big bonfire and stuff—maybe a clam bake . . ."

He frowned.  "I'll see what I can do," he said in a non-committal sort of tone.  "No promises, though.  I think I might be out of the country for a while soon."

"I understand; I understand," Gin hurried to say, her tone a little brighter than normal, like she was trying to put up a good front for him.  For some reason, that bothered him more than he cared to dwell upon.  "It can't be helped!  I mean, you are Zel Roka!"

Evan didn't reply to that.

"Evan," Gin said, drawing out his name in a thoughtful kind of way when he didn't say anything for a minute.  "Is everything all right?  You sound a little . . . strained."

So he wasn't as good as acting as he'd hoped he was.  No, maybe it was just that Gin was more attuned to him than most people.  Either way, the last thing he wanted or needed was for her to worry about him right now, especially with the baby on the way.  "Just a little tired," he lied.  "I'm fine, Mama.  Don't worry about me."

"Aren't you sleeping well?" she asked, but she sounded like his lie had worked.  "Do you want me to whip up something from my herb garden to help you sleep?"

"It's all right," he told her.  "I'll take a nap in a bit."

"Hmm, okay," Gin said slowly, reluctantly.  "If you're sure . . ."

Pushing himself up on his elbow, Evan frowned, willing himself to be more believable, willing himself to hide the things that his mother just didn't need to know.  He wanted to get off the phone—the sound of Gin's sweet voice was killing him inside, but before he let her go, there was one last thing that he needed to do . . . "Oh, hey . . . I wondered if I could ask you for a favor."

"Of course, sweetie!" Gin replied, her happiness of being asked for anything evident in her voice.

He smiled just a little despite the looming sense of darkness that he could feel, creeping up around the edges of his psyche.  "It's about the Zelig Foundation.  Would you fund something if I asked you to?"

"I'd do anything for you, Evan!  You're my baby!" Gin insisted.

He winced.  "Do you remember that guy?  The one you met at the benefit last year?  Uh, Marvin Pinkle."

"Hmm, Marvin, Marvin . . ." she sounded like she wasn't entirely sure who he was talking about, but suddenly, she gasped then giggled.  "Oh, the pickle man!  He was that tiny one, right?  Like, pocket sized?  The one that Valerie came to the benefit with?  Children's cancer research, wasn't it?"

Wincing at the sound of her name spilling off Gin's tongue so easily, Evan rubbed his forehead.  "Yeah, that's him."

"Okay, yes.  Yes, I remember him.  Why?"

Swallowing hard, trying to keep in mind that it was for her, for her happiness, Evan had to force himself to speak in an even tone.  "Can you okay it?  Underwrite it?"

Gin's tone turned thoughtful.  "Oh . . . How much funding?"

"All of it," Evan replied.  "Everything he needs."

"Hmm . . . That's a pretty good sum of money, isn't it?  You want the Zelig Foundation to take care of it all?"

"Is that possible?" he asked.  "If it's not, I could—"

"Of course, it's possible," Gin insisted with a little laugh.  "I mean, strictly speaking, the Zelig Foundation belongs to all of you kids as much as it does to anyone, so if it's something you feel that strongly about, of course we can do it.  Do you want me to approve it in your name?"

"Uh, no . . . No, just . . . In the name of the foundation is fine."

"Oh, all right," Gin agreed, but a hint of reluctance had crept back into her voice.  "Evan?  Are you sure that everything's fine?"

"Of course, Mama.  I told you, I'm just a little worn out.  I'll be right as rain in a couple days, I promise."

"Your brother's in the city . . . Should I have him stop by to check up on you?"

Making a face, Evan snorted indelicately.  "God, no.  Not necessary."

Gin sighed.  "You can't blame me for worrying about you . . . I love you, you know."

"I know," Evan replied in a much gentler tone.  "I love you, too, Mama . . . You . . . You're the best mama, ever."

"Aww, thank you, sweetie!" Gin gushed.  "You're so sweet!"

"Tell Cain . . ." Swallowing hard a few times, Evan found himself smiling wanly, sadly.  "Tell Cain he'd better take damn good care of you, and, uh . . . g-give Jilli a hug for me the next time you see her."

"Of course I will, and you know your father always takes good care of me," Gin insisted.  "Speaking of your father, he's here now, so I have to go.  We're driving out to Portland today to look at some baby furniture!  I thought it'd be nice to decorate a boy and a girl room since we're waiting to keep it a surprise."

"Okay," Evan said.  "Be careful, and make sure you spend a crapload of the old man's money.  Love you."

"Love you, too!"

The call ended, and Evan heaved a sigh, punching in the number for the airport and quickly booking the first flight out in the morning.  Then he rubbed his forehead as he turned off the phone completely and let it fall onto the floor.

"Damn."

Closing his eyes for a long moment, Evan couldn't shake off the numb feeling that had settled over him, but then, maybe that was for the best.  Maybe that would help him figure out exactly what he ought to do.

No, he already knew, didn't he?  Knew what it was that he needed to do.  It was all over but the crying . . .

Rolling to the side, he leaned up to dig through the nightstand drawer until he found what he was looking for, and he didn't bother to sit up as he rooted around for the papers then rolled himself a joint.  The smell of the room was driving him insane, the still-fresh scent of the both of them seemed to permeate everything.  For a second, he considered getting up to open the windows, but he discarded that idea just as fast.  As much as it hurt . . . Well, he couldn't bring himself to do that, either.

He pushed himself up and lit the joint, letting his head fall back against the headboard, watching as the smoke escaped his lips, floated upward in its filmy strands, only to dissipate, like it had never been there at all.  That was the reality of life, too.  As much as people liked to think that nothing could touch them, that they were invincible, that wasn't true.  No, it could slip away like those strands of smoke, fade into nothing without anyone really noticing at all . . .

The irony in that thought amused him in a vague sort of way, bringing a sad little smile to his lips.  If he had it all to do over again, would he have blown off that appointment that Madison had insisted that he keep?  The fateful meeting with the attorney that would change his life . . .?

Exhaling softly as he pondered that question, Evan slowly shook his head.  No, he wouldn't.  He wouldn't do a damn thing differently because, like the old song said, it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and even if he wished that the end result were different, he wouldn't trade a moment of it, either.  Every one of her smiles, every echo of her laughter were memories that no one could take away from him, and as much as they hurt, there was a certain comfort in it all, too.

He was really going to miss that woman, no doubt about it . . .


-Evan-


Evan awoke from a fitful nap.  He couldn't remember anything about the dream he had, but it had left him feeling desolate, empty.

To be honest, he couldn't remember falling asleep in the first place, anyway.  He'd gotten up after talking to his mother, dyed his hair, applied his tattoos, and thrown on the requisite rockstar garb.  Then he ran out to meet a reporter for lunch and a quick interview, and when he got back home, he locked the doors, stripped down naked, and crawled back into bed to breathe in the scent of Valerie that still lingered thick in the air.  Funny how no one seemed to notice his mood.  Maybe he was a better actor than he thought.

Or maybe they just didn't give a rat's ass.

Now, however, he had no idea what time it was.  He'd broken the only clock in the room a while ago when he'd caught himself staring at it, when he'd realized that he was waiting, waiting, waiting, hoping that she'd call.  About that time, he'd remembered that he'd shut his cell off just after he'd finished talking to Gin, and for a split second, he had started to lean over to look for it.  Then he decided that he was better off, leaving the damn device wherever the hell it was.

There really wasn't anything left to say, now was there?

The sun spilling through the windows had continued a crawling pace across the room, had thinned to little more than lines of light that bounced off the wall of mirrors in a blinding haze.  Staring at that light in a rather perverse kind of fascination was enough.  Something about the steady glow seemed to dull the ache deep inside him.

Then again, maybe it was the dope.

In any case, he was about ready to give Mikey a call to see if he had more of it since Evan had shot through most of his stash.  The only thing that stopped him, at least, for the moment, was that he really didn't feel like indulging Mikey's version of the mother-hen thing, which was probably what would happen if he did break down and call.

Bone, however . . . Yes, he could send the big guy a message, and Bone would have no issue in finding whatever Evan wanted . . .

Too bad he really just didn't feel like dealing with anyone right now.

In fact, he didn't feel like dealing with anyone any time in the near future, either.  As it was, he had gotten away with not saying a whole hell of a lot in the interview.  Chalk it up to simply agreeing with the preconceived notions that were already set in the guy's head.  Amazing how easy it was to do those things without actually having to give away that much of himself . . .

He thought about getting up, of packing a suitcase, but discarded that idea.  If he needed anything, he could damn well buy it.  Didn't he already have more money than God?  Besides, where he was going, would he really need anything anyway?

But he couldn't stay here, and he had known that, too, which was why he had already made the reservation for the flight out in the morning.  Valerie, whatever it was she felt for him, would be impossible to avoid, and to be honest, he wasn't sure he could do that, anyway.  Nor did he feel like lying around here, watching people worry over him—at least, the ones who cared about more than a paycheck from him.  And Gin . . .

The very last thing that she needed was to be upset right now, and that was almost as painful as the thought of Valerie.  Some part of him had realized that when he spoke to her on the phone.  The crazy urge to hop into his car, to drive up and see her ripped through him once more.  It seemed like he'd been drifting between bouts of unwelcome yearning all day long.

There were no good solutions, were there?

The sound of the door opening and closing downstairs drew his attention in a vague kind of way.  He heard it, it registered in his brain, but he didn't care.  It only took a second for his senses to tell him that it wasn't Valerie, and that was enough.

But he heard her approach long before he saw her: the echo of her heels clicking softly on the floor, growing steadily louder, closer, and she smiled as she strode into the room.  "Laying in bed all day, huh?  Well, I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but . . ." She trailed off as a thoughtful frown surfaced on her gorgeous features, only to be replaced by a very pronounced eye-widening as she scanned the room slowly.  "Valerie's been here," she concluded as her smile returned.  "Guess I don't need to ask what you two were up to.  The smell in here is still thick.  Feel better now, Evan?"

Evan said nothing as he took a long drag off another joint and held out his free hand toward Madison.

She shook her head but wandered over to him, let him take her hand and tug her down on the bed beside him where she snuggled into the crook of his shoulder, reaching up to finger a long lock of deep brown hair, the color he'd chosen for the interview.  Considering she'd seen him with every conceivable shade of hair known to man and then some on a regular basis, she asked no questions about that.  "Have you even been out of bed today?"

"Nope," Evan drawled, letting Madison take the joint from him, watching as she lifted it to her lips.

"That's not like you," she replied.  "So where's V?  She's not here, I can tell . . ."

He sighed, and for a moment, he considered trying to lie, but it was Madison, and Madison could see right through that.  Usually he respected her ability to do that.  Today, it annoyed him.  "Eh, you know V.  Had some stuff to do."

Madison craned her neck to stare up at Evan in that 'don't-bullshit-a-bullshitter' kind of way.  Apparently, she wasn't buying the carelessness he'd tried to inflect into his tone.  "Stuff?  Like what?"

Giving up the pretense he had been trying to hold onto, Evan shrugged and snagged the joint back.  "Had to call Moovis, of course.  Probably telling him that she's sorry, trying to smooth things over right about now."

Madison sat up, tucking her legs demurely to the side as she scooted around on the bed to face Evan full-on.  "What?"

Evan waved a hand, tried to offer her a smile full of mock-bravado, but couldn't quite muster enough of it to come off as anything other than the grimace that it was.  "It's over, Maddikins.  I lost.  End of story.  Let's move on, shall we?"

It took a minute for Evan's words to sink in, and Madison slowly shook her head.  "What do you mean?  But the two of you—"

"I know what we did," Evan interrupted, irritation quickly rising.  He wasn't sure who the irritation was directed at; not really, but it was harsh, thick, bitter.  Then he made a face, drew a deep breath meant to calm him down.  It sort of worked—kind of.  "Listen, it's no big deal, okay?  It was just sex, and now that's it's all out of my system, it's all good."

"Tell me why I don't believe you."

He shrugged but stubbornly refused to look her in the eye.  "It's fine; I swear.  She took off out of here because she had to call him.  It . . ." Grinding his teeth together for a moment, Evan had to choke back the bitterness that rose up in him.  "It didn't mean anything to her, and that's okay.  I mean, I've fucked enough women to know that it just doesn't matter.  Pussy is pussy is pussy."

She shook her head and snorted.  "Maybe you're misinterpreting things, Evan.  Maybe it's something entirely different."

"Maddy, I'm not stupid.  I know what she said, and I know what she meant.  Leave it alone."

"I didn't say you were, but if you misunderstood—"

"She said she had to go, that it was a mistake, that she didn't mean for it to happen that way.  I know what she said, and if you don't mind, I'd rather not re-hash it.  Besides, I've told you already, it's no big deal, so who the fuck cares?  I'm not the kind of guy who likes to go back for seconds—present company notwithstanding—and I swear, I'm completely over it."

The look on her face stated quite plainly that she wasn't buying his story, and he rolled his eyes.  "I don't want to talk about it, okay?  Can we drop it?"

"But—"

"No 'buts', Maddy.  I mean it."

She didn't look at all pleased with it, but she did let it drop, at least, for the moment.  "So tell me why you're holed up in your room today," she said instead.

Satisfied that she was going to leave it alone for now, Evan reached over, grabbed her wrist, tugged her back to his side once more.  "Doesn't everyone have a day when they just don't feel like getting out of bed?"

Madison sighed and snuggled close against him.  "I suppose," she replied.  "But you don't usually do it.  You're too hyper to stay in bed all day."

"Then I'm long overdue, don't you think?"

"Hmm . . ."

He snorted.  "I did get up.  Went out to grab some lunch and met a reporter from Revolver magazine.  He did his thing, I did mine, then I came home.  Besides, I was up all night last night.  Kind of needed a nap anyway . . ."

She didn't reply to that, and he could feel the weight of her unasked questions.  She didn't believe his claims that he was all right, not that he honestly thought that she would.  Still, she must have figured that she wasn't about to get any more answers than that, and for what it was worth, Evan would take what he could get.

Heaving a sigh, he decided that a change in subjects was in order.  Besides, it was something he'd thought about earlier, anyway.  "You remember when we were kids?  That time I got you to sneak off with me so we could go exploring, and we ended up, falling asleep in your parents' pear grove?"

She laughed softly.  "I remember," she allowed.  "We were up all night, and you were scared of the owls in the trees, but we fell asleep anyway . . ." Trailing off for a moment, she laughed and slowly shook her head. "I thought Daddy was going to beat on you.  They had everyone out looking, but your brother found us."

He smiled, too.  "Yeah, he did.  One of the few times when Bubby didn't yell at me, right?"  He chuckled, but it died away as he recalled that day.  He'd woken up, only to find Bas carrying him and Madison both, and when he'd looked down at Evan, he had only managed a weary little smile.  "Well, we were, what?  Six?  Seven?"

"Something like that," she said.  "You filled up your 'explorer's backpack' with pears . . ."

"And then your mom made that awesome cobbler out of them after we finished apologizing."

"And it was damn good, if I remember right."

"Hell, yeah, it was . . ." Evan sighed, his smile slowly dissipating as a melancholy so deep that it was almost painful opened up in the pit of his stomach.  "I miss those days."

"I do, too, sometimes," Madison allowed.

They lay there for a while, cuddling in silence, each of them lost in their own thoughts and just enjoying the feeling of being together.  Maybe it had been too long since they'd spent any time like this.  Growing older, having separate lives, and yet, when he remembered just how they were when they were younger—always together, always inseparable—it made him feel somehow sad, too.

"Maddy?"

"Hmm?"

Swallowing hard, blinking back a sudden hot sting that erupted behind his eyes, Evan tried to smile.  "You know, right?  You . . . You're the best friend I ever could have asked for."

She started to sit up.  He held onto her, refusing to let her move, refusing to let her look at his face.  "Evan—"

He shook his head.  "No, just listen to me," he interrupted before she could say anything else.  "I . . . I can't remember a time when you weren't a part of my life, and I just wanted to tell you . . ." He swallowed hard again once, twice.  "I love you."

She did sit up then, managing to extricate herself from Evan's grasp, and she said nothing as she lifted her gaze to meet his, midnight violet eyes way too bright, lips quivering, nostrils flaring, though not a sound escaped her.  She knew what he was trying to say, and as she stared at him, a single tear slipped down her cheek.

He forced a smile that felt as garish as it must have looked because Madison winced.  "I think I'm going to go see the Northern Lights now.  I've always wanted to, you know?"

Smashing a balled-up fist against her lips, Madison choked back a sob.  "Talk to her, Evan!" she rasped out.  "Talk to her, and maybe—"

"No, and don't you dare do it, either," Evan insisted stubbornly.  "It's not your place.  It's not your business."

"But I can't—"

"Do this for me, Maddy."

"But if you'd just talk to her—"

"And what?  Have her choose me out of pity?  No, goddamn it!  It's not your decision."

She looked like she wanted to argue with him.  She didn't.  Choking out another quiet sob that she swiftly staunched with her hands, she willed herself to stop crying before she looked at him once more.  "It's my fault, isn't it?  Because I introduced her to you."

"Don't do that," Evan said with a sigh, all of his bravado dissolving in the air.  "Don't ever blame yourself.  It's okay, really.  I mean it."

"O . . . Okay . . ." She stared at him for another long moment, and then she quickly glanced at her watch.  "I'm, uh, I'm sorry," she suddenly blurted, leaning toward him, planting her lips on his for a moment.  She smelled so familiar, so comforting, and somehow, so very, very far away.  "I just remembered, I've got an appointment . . ."

He caught her hand before she could slip off the bed and narrowed his eyes on her.  "You promised."

She tried to force a smile.  It didn't really work.  "I know," she replied.  "You'll be home later, right?"  Though she'd asked it casually enough, given the situation, he could hear the other part, the unvoiced part.  'You're not going to take off yet?  You're not going to disappear . . .?'

"Yeah, I'll be around," he said.  "Maybe I'll have a few beers or something . . ."

She didn't seem entirely convinced, but she nodded.  "I'll be back as soon as I'm done," she promised.  "We'll . . . We'll hang out together, just like old times."

Evan nodded and only watched as she slipped off the bed and hurried out of the room.

Only after he'd finally heard the front door open and close did he heave a tired sigh.  Talking to Madison had been harder than he'd thought.  She had fully understood the things that he hadn't been able to say, especially to someone like his mother.  Gin would have ignored him when he said he didn't want Valerie to know, would have tried to fix things for him, for his own good, never mind that the very last thing that she needed to deal with at the moment was his drama when she needed to be fully focused on the baby in her belly, instead.  But it was all right; he'd said his goodbye to her, too.

And he knew it, too.  There was no way that he'd be able to face Valerie again because he wasn't entirely sure that he could do it without breaking down, without begging her to stay with him, and, while a part of him wanted to do exactly that, his pride, such as it was, could not allow it.  No, it really would be best for everyone if he just quietly slipped away, and that's fully what he intended to do tomorrow.

Tonight?

Tonight, however . . . Well, he might as well go out with a bang, right . . .?


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A/N:
'Miscommunic ation' by Delta Goodrem originally appeared on the 2004 release, Mistaken Identity.  Copyrighted to Delta Goodrem and Guy Chambers.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Damn.
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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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