InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Ultimate Truths ( Chapter 209 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'But we've got these ugly scars ...
'On our infected hearts
'Maybe it's time for a change
'Yeah …'

-'Lies of the Beautiful People' by Sixx:A.M.


-Valerie-


"Aww, what the fuck are you doing here?"

Valerie blinked and frowned as she followed Evan and the girls up the driveway and leaned to the side to see who, exactly, was drawing Evan's attention.  Bas stood at the top of the steps, arms crossed over his thick chest, leaning against the pillar with a very displeased scowl on his already intimidating countenance, and beside him was Gunnar who actually looked almost bored, though he mirrored Bas' stance, minus the lean.  The sight of them was enough to draw a sigh of relief from Valerie, and though it occurred to her that they had made record time, she also wasn't about to question it, either.

"What do you want?" Evan went on, wasting absolutely no pleasantries on the duo who moved almost imperceptivity to block the path, lest Evan should try to escort the women inside.

"Think you'd better send them home," Bas said in a tone that left no room for discussion on the matter.

"I think you should mind your own fucking business," Evan growled in reply.

The two men on the porch exchanged glances, and Gunnar nodded once before turning on his heel and striding into the mansion, leaving Bas alone to block the way—easy enough, considering the man was absolutely huge.

"Who are they?" one of the girls asked Evan in a loud stage whisper and without taking her eyes off Bas.

"No one you need to worry about, sweetheart," Evan replied before turning his attention back to his brother again.  "Why the hell are you here?"  Then he snorted.  "No, wait.  I've got a good guess as to who called in the dogs."

To her credit, Valerie didn't even flinch when Evan tossed her an almost hostile glance.  She did, however, turn at the sound of a car rumbling down the driveway, and she wasn't at all surprised when Bone got out of the vehicle just as Gunnar stepped back onto the porch once more.  He must have gone into the house to call Bone down, and that was fine.  At the moment, nothing mattered to Valerie except getting rid of those women.

"Take the ladies home, please," Bas said, nodding at Bone and ignoring the protests from the girls and the scathing glower he was receiving from the younger of the Zeligs.

Valerie almost felt sorry for the head of security—almost.  He was most definitely in a bind, considering his boss very obviously didn't want him to do what he was told, but the boss' older, bigger, and way more intimidating brother was just not someone that one wanted to disobey, either.  After weighing his options for about five seconds, Bone intercepted the look that Valerie was giving him, and he chuckled and shook his head.  "Sorry, little man," he said, very obviously addressing Evan.  "Gotta go with the boss-lady on this one."  That said, he stepped forward, carefully extricating all three women from Evan's sides and escorting them over to the running car.

"Well, that's just fan-fucking-tastic," Evan grumbled, stomping up the steps and onto the porch, shouldering his way through the makeshift barricade that was Bas and Gunnar.  The girls were asking Bone if he'd be interested in partying with them, and of course the big man agreed, which was fine with Valerie, as long as they were nowhere near Evan . . . "While you're at it, get rid of her, can't you?" he complained, jerking his head toward Valerie without stopping.

Heaving a sigh, Valerie followed Evan up the steps at length, only to be stopped when Bas grasped her shoulders and held her back at arms' length.  "Who did that to you?" he demanded without preamble, the anger in his tone measured, carefully controlled.  She didn't know why she was taken aback by Bas' reaction to seeing her cheek, but she was.  She also supposed that he had just gotten a good look at it when she'd stepped into better light.

It only took her a moment to realize that Bas actually thought that maybe Evan had hit her, and she quickly shook her head.  "It wasn't Evan," she hurried to say before Bas decided that he was going to flatten his brother on principle.

Bas narrowed his eyes as he leaned down to get a closer look at Valerie's cheek.  "You're not protecting him, are you?"

"Evan wouldn't hit me," she insisted stubbornly.  She wasn't sure exactly where Evan was at the moment, so she stuck to the story she'd already told him since he was still quite volatile and since she really had no idea just what he'd do if she did tell the truth about it.  But she'd seen his overreaction when she'd been injured less, and the last thing she wanted was for him to do something really unnecessary, like go after Madison for what she'd done, especially when Valerie wasn't about to hold it against her.  "It was an accident."

Bas' expression stated quite plainly that he didn't buy Valerie's story.  "Okay," he drawled, contesting her claim without coming straight out and calling her a liar.  "But it wasn't him, right?"

"No," she said as firmly as she could.  "It wasn't . . . and really, it probably looks worse than it is."

He didn't look like he believed that, either, but he heaved a sigh and let go of her shoulders, straightening up to glance over her head at Gunnar.  "You want to search the house or sober up that little fool?"

For the first time since their arrival, Gunnar's expression changed, and to Valerie's chagrin, the latter actually broke into a rather nasty little smile, leaving Valerie to wonder if bringing along that particular cousin had ultimately been a bad idea.  "You mean, you have to ask?"

Bas sighed and made a face.  "Never should have," he muttered as he turned his attention back to Valerie once more.  "What kind of shit does he have here?  Just pot?"

Rubbing her arms against the chilly air, Valerie nodded.  "I think so," she replied.  "I mean, I haven't seen anything else . . ."

With a nod, Bas turned on his heel to follow Evan into the house.  Gunnar fell into step right behind him, and, biting her lip, Valerie chased after them.

She didn't know exactly how Gunnar was planning on making sure that Evan sobered up.  She might have just assumed that he'd force-feed Evan a few pots of coffee or something like that.  She should have known better; she really should have.  Catching up to Evan in the living room, Gunnar didn't stop to ask questions as he grabbed Evan by the front of his jacket and yanked him out the sliding doors.  He didn't stop until they were beside the pool, and Valerie realized just what Gunnar had in mind about a second before the man's arm flashed straight out, catching Evan in the center of his chest and sending him crashing down into the pool.

Evan came up sputtering, wiping his face furiously, as he glowered at his cousin.  "Goddamn you, Gunnar!  Fucking motherfucker!  Cocksucking son of a—"

"Knock it off, Evan," Gunnar interrupted in an almost bored tone of voice.  "You're absolutely disgraceful."

Evan floundered over to the edge of the pool and hefted himself out of it.  When he straightened up, ready to continue his tirade, he was cut off when Gunnar's arm snapped out again, repeating the process of dunking the rockstar.

"The fuck do you think you're doing?" Evan spat as he hauled himself out of the pool again.  "What the fuck is your problem?"

"Still not sober," Gunnar concluded seconds before Evan hit the water once more.

"I'm gonna fucking kill you!" Evan snarled after the seventh or eighth time of being shoved into the pool.  He pushed himself up on his arms, ready to climb out of the pool, but this time, Gunnar returned him to the water, hands in his pockets, using his foot to give Evan a good shove.

Valerie caught Gunnar's arm.  "You're going to drown him," she pointed out.

Gunnar glanced at her then shrugged.  "As if we'd be so lucky.  He's fine."  Then he raised his voice as he shifted his gaze to Evan.  "Sober yet?"

"Fuck you, Gunnar," Evan growled, levering himself out of the water once more.

Shaking his head, Gunnar shot Valerie a meaningful look as he shoved Evan back into the water—again.

Evan came up sputtering and coughing once more, but this time, he didn't try to swim over to the side, opting instead to sink down in the water until only his eyes cleared the surface, and he contented himself by glaring daggers at the man standing beside the pool.

"You sober now?" Gunnar challenged with a raised eyebrow.

Evan rose up far enough to growl, "Yes, goddamn it!" before sinking back down once more.  He wasn't finished talking, though, because a few bubbles rose to the surface along with the muffled sound of Evan's voice with no discernible words.

"Good," Gunnar continued in the same affectedly bored tone of voice.  "Are you going to listen to what she has to say now?"

Another few bubbles without formed words.

"What was that?"

"Yes, damn it!  Fine!" Evan snarled and sank again.

"He sober yet?"

Gunnar grunted in response to Bas' question as the big man stepped outside, glancing down at the mess of broken glass with a scowl.  "Unfortunately," Gunnar replied.  "Too bad.  I could've shoved him in a few hundred more times.  Something kind of therapeutic about it . . ."

Bas sighed, planting his hands on his hips as he shifted his scowl to his sibling.  "Is it safe for us to leave now, Evan?"

Evan grunted but didn't move other than his arms that he was using to tread water as he continued to glare at his brother and cousin.

Bas shook his head slowly then turned to Valerie.  "You going to be okay alone with him?"

"Yeah," she said, even as she wondered vaguely how it had all come down to this.  "Did you find anything in the house?"

Bas snorted.   "Are you kidding me?  A few bags of it, stashed here and there.  Anyway, it's all gone.  I flushed all of it."

Evan muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, "Fucking dick."

Bas ignored it, and instead, he reached over and tagged Gunnar's arm.  "Come on, Gun."  Then he looked at Valerie again.  "Give me a call if he gets out of hand again."

She nodded but knew in her heart that she wouldn't be calling him back tonight.   As much as she wanted to be able to talk to Evan, as upset as she was about the things that had happened since she arrived at his house, she hated the way they'd dealt with him, too, even if the end result was what she wanted—for him to listen to her.

Bas and Gunnar headed for the doors.  "You could have given me a chance to shove him into the pool a time or two," Bas pointed out as they stepped inside.

"Are you kidding?  That was the highlight of my day," Gunnar shot back.

"You're such an ass . . ."

"You shouldn't have asked which one I'd prefer, then."

"Yeah, I guess . . ."

Valerie didn't speak, and Evan didn't move until after the men's voices had faded away.  In the distance, she thought that she heard the front door, and she sighed.

Splashing in the pool drew her attention, and Valerie watched in silence as Evan cautiously swam to the side to climb out again.   He stood on the edge, water running down his body in rivers, crossing his arms stubbornly over his chest, his head turned to the side to avoid her gaze.

They stood in silence for a minute: Evan apparently making good on his promise to listen, and Valerie trying to figure out exactly where to start.  Biting her lip, she took a reluctant step toward him.  "Evan, about this morning . . . I—"

Her words were cut off by the trill of her cell phone, and with a grimace, she dug it out of her back pocket and glanced at the caller ID.  It was Marvin, and didn't that just figure?  She sent it to voicemail.

"Sorry," she said, stuffing the phone into her pocket once more.  "Anyway, I wanted to explain things to you—things I should have told you before I left.  I wasn't trying to ma—"

The phone rang again, and Valerie repeated the process.  "I wasn't trying to make up with Marvin.  That was never my intent," she said as she fumbled with the keys to shut off the phone entirely.  "I wanted to tell him that I don't wan—" The phone rang in her hands before she managed to shut it down, and with a smothered gasp, she started to send it to voicemail.

"Answer it," Evan said, his voice quiet though no less authoritative.

She shook her head.  "No, I—"

"Just answer it," Evan insisted.  "It's . . . It's fine."  Valerie frowned at him, but he was finally looking at her, and this time he nodded.  "Do it."

Hesitating for another moment, she gave in with a curt nod and connected the call.  "Hello?" she said, holding the device to her ear.

"Val?  You're never going to believe this!  Never in a million years!" Marvin blurted.

Valerie's frown deepened since he didn't sound at all like he'd even bothered to listen to his voicemail.  No, actually, he sounded . . . excited . . .?  She rubbed her forehead, wondering dizzily if it could possibly get any worse.  Evan was looking anything but amused, and she . . . Well, she just wanted to be done with the whole mess . . . "Marvin," she said in a calm but firm tone.  "Did you listen to your voicemail?"

"What?  Oh, no!  I haven't had a chance yet!  But I take it you heard?  I mean, I saw that you called a few times!  It's awesome, right?  I mean, wow!  I knew that they were generous, but I'm just completely blown away!  Did you have something to do with it?  Did you talk to your friend about it? Evan?"

Shaking her head in confusion, Valerie had no idea just what Marvin was going on about, but he seemed to think that she did . . . "About what?  What are you—?"

Marvin plunged on.  "You have no idea how floored I was when I got the call!  It's great, right?  And I know you're excited about it, too!"

"Marvin," she said, her voice a little louder, a little sharper, in an effort to gain his full attention.  "What are you talking about?"

Marvin laughed.  "The funding!  The Zelig Foundation's going to underwrite the whole thing!"

Valerie blinked and shook her head slowly since none of it made a bit of sense.  Even as she did, though, one thing clicked in her head as she shifted her gaze back to Evan once more.  The Zelig Foundation . . .?  Evan . . .

The man in question was still just standing there, looking like he wasn't about to fess up to a damn thing, staring at her with a blank kind of expression, as though he was preparing himself for, well, something.

Marvin was still rambling on in his excitement, and Valerie rubbed her forehead.  "It's fantastic, right?  I mean, I can come home, and we can be married whenever you want, and—"

"Marvin, wait," she blurted when he didn't stop.  He didn't hear her, or maybe he simply didn't want to.  "Marvin, stop!" she interrupted.  He cut himself off abruptly, and she sighed.  "Listen," she said, her voice dropping to a softer tone, a gentler resonance.  "I really don't want to do this over the phone, but . . . I don't want to get married."

Marvin stayed quiet for a few moments, like he was struggling to understand just what she meant.  Then he uttered a small, unsure little laugh.  "Well, I know that you were pretty unhappy about putting our wedding off and all that, but surely we could just move it up again, and—"

"No, that's not the issue," she insisted.  "Listen, I did a lot of thinking, and you know, I wasn't really that upset about the idea of delaying the wedding.  Irritated that I'd paid deposits for things that I couldn't get back and that wouldn't transfer, but really, I wasn't upset, but . . . but shouldn't I have been?  I mean, I should have been, but I wasn't, and . . ." She drew a deep breath, frowning as she tried to find the words to say to him.  "I'm sorry, Marvin, but I . . . I don't want to marry you, e-e-ev . . . er." Her last word came out as more of a reluctant sigh than anything.

"But . . . But . . ." Marvin stammered a few times as what she said finally started to sink in.  "Why . . .?" Then he suddenly forced another small laugh.  "Valerie, whatever's bothering you, I'm sure we can talk it out.  Just give me a couple days to get things tied up here, and—"

"No, Marvin, that's not it," she said, hating what she was doing, but knowing that she had to put an end to it, once and for all—for all of their sakes, not just hers.  "It's not about whether you're here or there.  It's about—"

"I-It's about that rock star, isn't it?  That Zel Roka?  The one you've been working for, right?" Marvin blurted, late anger suffusing his tone, twisting it into something she'd never heard from him before.

"No, it's not him," Valerie insisted.  "Marvin—"

"Then it's the other one, right?  Evan?  Evan . . . Zel . . . ig . . ."

Valerie grimaced at the understanding that was rife in Marvin's tone, and as much as she wanted to gainsay him, lying to him was just a little more than she could do, too.

"Oh, my God, that's why I'm getting the funding?" Marvin continued in shocked disbelief.  "Is this some kind of weird arrangement?  You're, what?  A-Are you . . . Are you sleeping with him?"

"I didn't know anything about that," Valerie insisted.  "You got the funding because your cause is worthwhile."

He must have picked up on the hint of doubt in her voice, because suddenly, he uttered a terse, almost caustic laugh—a sound that Valerie hadn't realized Marvin could make.  "But you're not going to say whether or not you're sleeping with him?"

She didn't know what to say to that, so she said nothing as her grip on the phone tightened.

"You are . . ." he concluded.  "R-Really?  Oh, God, you're screwing him, aren't you?  All that stuff you said I didn't have to worry about, and you're fucking him?"

"Is it really important?" she finally, wearily asked: a stark contrast to the raw outrage in Marvin's voice.  "It's not about him; it's about us, Marvin—Us . . . I don't think—"

"A guy like that, Valerie?  I thought . . . I thought you were better than that!  I thought you, of all people, had morals and values!  Guys like Evan Zelig aren't going to stick around!  You're nothing but a plaything to someone like him!  He'll use you and throw you away like some kind of toy, like all rich kids do!  God, you're nothing but a goddamned whore!  I can't believe you'd do that, you bitch!  I can't—"

Valerie gasped as the phone was suddenly yanked out of her hand, as Evan lifted it to his ear, impassive expression slowly giving way to a look of stone-cold anger.  He listened for all of thirty seconds before he bothered to speak, ignoring Valerie and turning his body to avoid her hands as she tried to reach for the phone .

"That's enough," Evan said in a deceptively calm tone.  Over the phone, it might well fool Marvin, but from where Valerie stood, she could see that it was taking everything within the man to keep his temper in check.  "I couldn't give a rat's ass what you have to say about me, so judge me all you want, but . . . but be careful what you say about her.  Now, I gave her a chance to talk to you, to tell you everything she wanted to say because she feels bad about it.   I don't know why, considering you've never treated her like anything but an afterthought, anyway, so if you really want to continue this round of name-calling, then you're just shit out of luck.  It's too late for you to try to act like the outraged party here, like you have the right to be even remotely upset, and if you ever, ever call her a bitch again?  Well, just don't."

She blinked and stared as the phone sailed over Evan's shoulder, landing with a rather anticlimactic plop in the middle of the pool.

Only then did Evan look at her again, the defiance in his expression quickly shifting into one of near-contrition as he shrugged off-handedly.  "Sorry about that," he muttered, jerking his head at the pool behind him.  "I'll . . . I'll buy you a new one tomorrow."

Shaking her head, Valerie managed a small half-smile.  "It's okay," she said with a little shrug of her own.  Then her gaze skittered away, fell to the pavement under her feet.  "I . . . I deserved what he said," she admitted quietly.  "Everything . . ."

"No, you didn't," Evan stated flatly.  "You can't help the way you feel."

She shook her head and sighed.  Maybe she couldn't, and she understood what Evan was trying to say, but it didn't really matter when she was the one who had ultimately managed to screw everything up, in the first place.  She opened her mouth to say something about that, but something entirely different came to mind, instead.  "You . . . Did you ask your mother to okay the funding?  Why would you do that?"

Evan grunted as he shrugged off the soaked and likely ruined leather jacket.  He tossed it aside where it landed in a wet heap nearby.  "I thought it was what you wanted," he replied simply enough.  "Thought you'd rather that he came home so you could . . . could marry the little bastard . . ."

She winced.  "You did it for . . . for me . . ."

He didn't confirm or deny that.  "Do you want me to tell Mama to cancel it?"

She shook her head quickly.  "No . . . I mean, it is a worthy cause, and even then, Marvin . . . I know he can do it."

Uttering another terse grunt, Evan didn't look like he wanted to acknowledge anything of the sort, but he did nod curtly, and that was enough.

Valerie sighed again, retrieving a towel from the small cabinet and slowly stepping over to Evan, taking her time as she carefully squeezed the length of his hair in the towel, as she used the corner of it to dab the residual moisture from his cheek, his chin.  "I didn't realize this morning that I didn't take the time to explain things like I should have," she finally said as she continued her ministrations.  "All I wanted to do was to properly end things with Marvin, which I'd tried to do yesterday, but he wouldn't answer his phone, and . . ." Trailing off with a sigh, she gnawed on her lip for a moment, shoving back the excuses that had been forming in her head.  "I don't want you to be the other man, Evan.  I've never wanted you to be that.  You're the only man—the best man, and I—"

"V—"

Shaking her head stubbornly, she frowned up at him.  "You deserve better, Evan Zelig, and I . . . I messed all that up . . ."

"No, you didn't," he replied, looking more and more disgruntled by the second.  "I'm the one who jumped to conclusions, and—"

"You had every right to," she interrupted.

"Valerie—"

"Please, just listen to me."

He looked like he didn't want to comply.  But he heaved a sigh and made a face as he crossed his arms over his chest, cocking his head to the side as he waited for her to continue.  Her gaze fell away again as she tried to gather her thoughts, to find a way to tell him the things that she had come to know over the course of a few days.  She still didn't know exactly how to word it all, but she had to give it a try.  She owed it to herself.  She owed it to Evan . . .

"I . . . I love you, Evan, more than I've ever loved anyone before, and it's shocking and exhilarating and wonderful and terrifying, all at the same time.  I've never been happier or . . . or more frightened in my life, and I know that you understand that, which makes me . . . love you . . . even more . . ." Pausing a moment, she glanced at him, only to find him staring at her in such a way that a round of butterflies erupted in her belly, and she pressed her hands over her stomach to still them before going on.  "I believe you when you say that you love me, too.  I really do.  That is, I know you mean it now, but I . . . I also know you can't guarantee that you'll always feel that way, and that's . . . that's okay, too . . ."

"I'll love you forever," he said.  The look on his face, the emotion in his eyes . . . He believed what he was saying, and she knew that he meant it, too.  He always meant it when he said things.  As outrageous as he could be, he was nothing if not completely earnest, and that was not the issue, anyway.  She didn't doubt for a moment that he was being absolutely honest with her, but the same words that she'd heard a million times, the same things that she knew . . . The world was ever-changing, always evolving, causing the hearts of men who might have once truly believed in this or that to falter.  She knew that, too, understood it completely, just as she knew that she wouldn't ever hold it against Evan if his feelings began to change, too, even if it left her alone and lost and lonely.

Closing her eyes, she managed a wan smile as she pressed her fingers against his lips to silence him.  "I'm old enough to know that nothing ever is 'forever', no matter what you might want or how good your intentions are, and . . . and it's okay because . . . because I've decided."  Swallowing hard, blinking back a wash of tears that suddenly sprang up to cloud her vision, Valerie's trembling smile widened just a little, her hand moving from his lips to his cheek as a single tear slipped from her eye.  "I don't care if it's only a week, a month, a year . . . Anything at all would be better than a lifetime without you, so as long as you'll have me, I'll stay with you . . ."

He frowned at her, his eyebrows drawing together in a marked scowl, and for some reason, Valerie had the distinct impression that he was angry, though she couldn't really say why he would be.  Narrowing his gaze, he seemed to be trying to see into her mind.  "Is that it?  Is that what you wanted to tell me?"

She nodded, her hand starting to fall away.  He caught it, held it, refused to let go.

"Okay," he said, giving a curt nod.  "You've had your say, right?"

Blinking at the mounting weight of Evan's irritation, Valerie nodded again and tried to pull her hand away.  He hung on tight.  "Evan?"

Shaking his head, he shot her a look meant to quell her words, and it did the trick.  Then he started tugging on her hand, his intention clear as he led her toward the doors.  "No, V.  You've had your say, and I listened," he said as he dragged her back inside.  "Now you're going to listen while I have mine."


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A/N:
'Lies of the Beautiful People' by Sixx:A.M. originally appeared on the 2011 release, This is Gonna Hurt.  Copyrighted to Nikki Sixx, James Michael, DJ Ashba, John 5.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
He's … angry …?
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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 208
Chapter 210
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