InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Wordplay ( Chapter 210 )

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

-OoOoOoOoOoO oOoOoOoO-

'I hear the echo of a promise I made ...
'When you're strong you can stand on your own
'But those words grow distant as I look at your face
'No, I don't wanna go it alone …'

-'Forever' by KISS.


Evan didn't relinquish his hold on Valerie's hand until he'd escorted her back into the living room, ignoring the negligible pain like a thousand prickles of fire that erupted in the soles of his feet as he stomped back through the mess of glass on the ground.  Valerie gasped softly as the crunch of the shards reminded her that he'd already walked through it a few times.

"Evan, let me look at your feet," she said, trying to tug her hand away.

"I'm fine," he said in a tone that shouldn't have left any room for discussion.

"You're bleeding!" she persisted, digging her heels in, refusing to move.

He snorted and rolled his eyes.  "They're fine, I said."  Then he relented with a sigh.  "All right, but you're going to listen to me while you're looking at them."

She considered that then nodded, and he finally let go so that she could run off to find the first aid kit that he didn't really need.  He could tell that the older wounds were already healed, and the ones he'd just gotten were nothing, but if it made her feel better, then he supposed that he wouldn't argue with her . . .

Hurrying back into the living room with the large, red canvas first aid kit in hand, she gestured at the sofa as she set the bag down on the coffee table.  "Come on.  Kick your feet up here," she said, unzipping the bag and rummaging around for the antiseptic spray and a few packages of gauze pads.

He heaved a sigh but did as he was told.  "You're going to listen to me while you're doing that, right?" he reminded her.

She nodded but didn't really look like she was listening at all.  Then she frowned as she got a better look at his feet.  "These aren't bad," she remarked, sounding more than a little surprised as she carefully sprayed the antiseptic and gently wiped at the bloody spots.  When most of them disappeared without leaving any trace of injury behind, Evan almost smiled at the almost consternated expression on her face.  "Huh," she muttered.  "Guess there's nothing too life-threatening here . . ."

He said nothing while she worked, content to let himself watch her for the moment.  No matter what she said, he was pretty sure that she wasn't actually going to do much listening until she was finished, anyway.  Still, it was time, wasn't it?  Time to tell her everything, and maybe, once he convinced her that he wasn't losing his damn mind, maybe she'd understand why he knew that forever meant forever because if she honestly thought that she was going to get rid of him any time soon, she was sorely mistaken . . .

She really had broken up with Marvin.  She honestly had chosen him.

The very idea of it was so new, so foreign, so wonderful that Evan still couldn't quite believe that it was true, but he supposed that wasn't too bad.  After all, if it meant that he got to spend the rest of his life, looking at her and wondering how he'd gotten that lucky, then he figured it was a fair trade-off.

'Yeah, well, you owe her an apology before you do any other explaining, don't you think?' his youkai-voice piped up.

He grimaced inwardly.   There was that, too . . . For once, he almost wished that he had gotten himself drunk enough that he couldn't remember everything.  Unfortunately, he did, and he had to admit that he was more than a little surprised that she still wanted to have anything at all to do with him, and those things that she'd said . . .?

"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 . . ."

He sighed and leaned over to catch her hand.  She blinked and glanced at him, her gaze full of questions.  "You're going to think I'm overreacting if I wrap your feet in gauze, aren't you?  But I don't think regular bandages are going to stick . . ."

"I'm fine," he told her again, neatly sliding his feet off the sofa despite the look of chagrin on her face.  "Anyway, forget about that for a little bit.  I, uh . . . I need to apologize for my behavior earlier . . ."

She started to shake her head, and she tried not to look too upset at the unpleasant memories that his words had brought back to her.  He sighed and pulled her over to him, wrapping his arms around her, tucking her head against his shoulder.

"No, I am.  I'm sorry about that," he said before she had a chance to protest.  "You promised you'd listen to me now, so I'll start off with that.  It's just . . ." Trailing off, scowling over her head, he sighed again.  "To be honest, I was already worried, you know?  I thought . . . I thought that you were going to wake up and realize what had happened . . . that you'd realize it was all a mistake, after all . . ."

"Evan, you're not—"

He kissed the top of her head, closed his eyes for a moment while he inhaled the scent of her shampoo.  "My turn, remember?"

She heaved a sigh of her own but nodded.  "Yes, I remember."

"Even if I didn't get what you were trying to do, I . . . I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions, and I . . . I never meant to hurt you."  Suddenly, he barked out a terse laugh.  "Man, does that sound fucking lame, or what?"

"It's okay," she assured him, leaning back far enough so that she could look up into his eyes.  "I should have explained myself better, so it was my fault, too, and . . ." Drawing a deep breath, she tried to smile.  It didn't quite work, but he'd give her points for the effort.  "Let's just forget about all that, can't we?  Just pretend that it never happened?"

He stared at her for a long moment.  It was there in her gaze, wasn't it?  She understood what he felt—the guilt, the remorse . . . Knew it because she felt it, too, and maybe it was for entirely different reasons, but the end result was still the same.  Then he smiled.  "No more apologies from either one of us?"

She nodded slowly.  "That sounds good."

Letting out a deep breath, he nodded, too.  "Okay.  Okay . . . but I am sorry.  I'm such a damn idiot . . ."

"Hmm . . ." she breathed, resting a hand on his chest, cuddling closer to him.  "I thought we agreed not to apologize anymore?"

"Just, you know, getting one last one in there."

"Jerk," she replied though her tone lacked any censure at all and sounded more amused than anything.

"So-o-o," he drawled, tilting her chin, forcing her to look at him.  "You going to tell me what really happened here?" he asked, scowling at the ugly bruise that marred her gorgeous skin.  Dark red that shifted into violet, indigo in the center of the mark, he knew from looking at her that she hadn't simply fallen against something.

"Nope," she stated flatly.

He kind of figured she'd say that.  He sighed.  "There's only one reason you'd refuse to tell me," he concluded almost philosophically.  "I take it you don't want me going after whoever did it."

She neither confirmed nor denied it, but she did roll her eyes and pull her face away from him in favor of resuming her previous position, snuggled against his chest.  "It's not a big deal, so don't worry about it."

He uttered a terse grunt, figuring that two could play the evasion game.  He would find out who did it eventually—and yeah, when he did, he had a few choice things to say about it . . .

He didn't know if she believed that he honestly was going to let it alone or not, but she seemed to think that the subject was dropped.  It wasn't, but at the moment, he didn't really feel like having the argument that it would likely take to get a real answer out of her, and she didn't speak for a moment, content just to be near him, idly rubbing his chest, and he started to wonder if she wasn't going to fall asleep.  He had things he wanted to tell her, sure, but whether he did it tonight or tomorrow, it was all good . . . "Evan?"


Heaving a sigh like it was the very last thing she wanted to do, Valerie pushed herself up but didn't move away from him.  Still, the expression on her face was troubled, drawing her eyebrows together in a slight frown, and he could tell that whatever it was floating around in her head wasn't positive, even if she did need to say whatever it was, to get it off of her chest.  "Those girls . . . You . . . You wouldn't really have . . .?"

He grimaced.  "I don't know . . . Maybe . . ." He sighed, too.  "At least, that's what I want to say . . ."

She tried not to get upset over his quiet statement, but it didn't matter when he could see the way her back stiffened, the way she drew away a little, deeper into herself.

"It's not what you're thinking," he said, sitting up a little more, drawing his feet up onto the sofa, wrapping his arms around his knees.  "Some small part of me would like to say that—I don't know, I guess it's just that arrogant part of me, my ego—you know, 'I can always get the girls,' and all that crap, but . . ." Trailing off, he made a face.  "No, I wouldn't have."

Valerie stared at him for a long moment.  Then she suddenly laughed, shaking her head slowly, probably at the disgust thick in his voice.  "Is that right?"

He snorted indelicately.  "I'm losing my edge," he lamented.

"Are you saying I'm not enough woman for you?" she challenged.

Evan chuckled and flopped back in favor of pulling Valerie close again, dropping his feet back onto the floor with a dull thud.  "Absolutely not," he said.  "You're probably too much woman for me, actually . . ."

She laughed, letting him draw her close again.

"I could stay like this forever," Evan mused quietly.

Valerie sighed, though it was less of a sound and more of a movement instead.  "Mmm . . . Me, too."

His smile shifted into thoughtful frown.  "Speaking of forever, V . . ."

"Hmm?  What's that?"

Taking a deep breath, he gave her a little squeeze before gently but firmly pushing her back.  "We need to talk," he said.  "There are some things about me that you need to know."

She smiled slightly, bringing her feet up to hug her knees, laying her cheek on them.  "You mean, there's even more to you?"

He chuckled.  "Of course."

Her smile faded slightly but didn't completely disappear despite the more serious glow that surfaced in her gaze.  "Is this some kind of deep, dark secret?"

"Dark, no, but yes, I guess you could say that it's a secret.  Strictly speaking, we're not supposed to talk about it unless . . ."

"Unless . . .?" she prompted when he trailed off.

"Unless—or rather, until—I find the one woman I want to spend my forever with."

That got her attention, and she careened her head back to peer up at him.  He could see it in her eyes.  She was about to start in on the same line of bullshit she'd already said to him out by the pool, and before she could say anything, he leaned down, kissed her gently, tenderly.

"You promised that you'd listen to me this time," he reminded her when he finally pulled away.

She looked entirely bemused, and Evan figured that he ought to be proud, all things considered.  After all, how many people really could profess to being able to render an attorney of Valerie's caliber completely speechless?  But she nodded and sat back, wiggling around to make herself more comfortable for the duration, then she held out her hand, inviting him to continue.

If only it were that easy.  Telling her everything?  It wasn't that he didn't want to do that.  No, it was more that he really had no idea just where to start.

As the seconds ticked away, Valerie fidgeted, and the bemused little smile that she had on her face slowly dimmed and then faded away altogether.  "You're making me nervous," she admitted at length.  "What . . .?"

Evan bent forward, resting his elbows on his knees, scratching his head vigorously for a few moments.  "It's not bad," he quickly assured her.  "It's just . . . uh . . . kind of hard to explain . . ."

She digested that for a bit, nodding slowly as she mulled it over.  Then she took a brisk breath and stood up, wandering over to grab a couple bottles of water before she came back and handed him one.  "Why don't you start at the beginning?  That's usually the most logical place, right?"

He chuckled and shook his head.  "I don't think there's a beginning, per se.  I think . . . Well, you've met my family.  You like them—even the ones who are complete and utter asses—Bubby, for example."

"He's not an ass," she retorted, rolling her eyes as she tried not to smile.

"I beg to differ, woman.  You don't think he is because you didn't have to grow up with him.  Anyway, would it surprise you if I were to tell you that Bubby's ten years older than me?"

She blinked and looked a little taken aback, but she nodded.  "Okay," she allowed.  "He's ten years older than you.  Got it."

"And my sister, Belle—you met her, remember?  In Hawaii."

Again, she nodded.  "She's very pretty—looks like your dad."

"Yeah, and what does that really say about him?" Evan replied.  Then he shook his head, reminding himself not to get sidetracked.  "Anyway, I digress.  Did you know that Belle and Kichiro got married just a few months before Mama and Cain did?"

". . . Huh . . .?"

"Strictly speaking, Mama and Belle are pretty close in age."

Valerie frowned.  "But that would make your dad at least . . . Eighty?  N-No-o-o-o . . ."

He could hear the doubt rife in her voice, and he grimaced.  "Actually, Cain's just over three hundred now—three hundred twenty-something, I think."

The puzzled expression on her face gave way to the better-known, 'You've-Gotta-Be-Shitting-Me' look.  "Ve-e-e-ery funny, Roka," she said.  "Now you're just being an ass."

"No, no, no, I swear, I'm not," he insisted, grasping her arm before she got up to leave.  "InuYasha and Kagome . . . They really are my grandparents—Mama's parents.  In fact, jiijii's pretty infamous back in Japan; at least, to those who know or remember."


He grinned.  "Yeah.  My generation call him 'jiijii', which basically means really old man . . . My uncles call him 'oyaji'—like calling your dad 'old man' or 'pops', and their cousin calls him 'jiji' . . . I called him jii-san—grandfather—once.  He kicked my ass for it.  InuYasha's a little strange.  The ruder, the better, at least, to him."

Valerie's lips twitched.  "And jiijii's rude?"

"Pretty much.  I mean, if you went up to some old guy somewhere and called him that, he'd probably think you weren't too polite.  It's roughly equivalent to calling him a really old man.  Jiijii does let girls address him more normally, though.  Mama calls him Papa.  You've probably heard her.  Jilli and my girl cousins get away with calling him jii-chan, too."  He scratched his chin thoughtfully.  "The only guy I've ever heard call him anything but jiji or jiijii is my uncle, Mikio."

"And what does he call him?"

Evan's grin widened.  "Papa."

"And your grandmother?"

"She's baa-chan—grandma."

Valerie laughed, but the amusement was quickly quelled as she considered what he was saying.  "Cute, but I happen to know that there's no way those two are old enough to be your grandparents, and your dad?  If you're going to try to feed me lines, then the least you could do is be a little more realistic."

"I'm not human, V.  Well, not really, anyway."

She stopped short and blinked, her expression almost comically flabbergasted, and for a moment, Evan actually thought that she might turn tail and run.  Then she narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest as she pinned him with a no-nonsense stare.  "I thought you had something serious you wanted to tell me," she said flatly.

"I am being serious, V!"  Heaving a sigh, he rolled his eyes.  He knew convincing her was going to be tough.  She was nothing if not completely and entirely pragmatic, after all.  "Oh!  Just watch!  Don't blink!"

Arching an artful eyebrow, she pursed her lips but didn't move.  Evan figured that it was as good s he was likely to get.  "Now don't blink or you'll accuse me of pulling some weird trick," he warned her.

She looked like she wanted to roll her eyes again, but she didn't.  Evan took a deep breath and removed the concealment.

Valerie froze as she stared at him, her gaze wandering from the tip of his pointed ear to his eyes and the elongated pupils that had suddenly appeared.  As though she had to look away, her eyes seemed to fall to his lap, and she gasped softly when she caught sight of the long, razor-sharp claws that he'd kept hidden from her, too.  Slowly, hesitantly, she started to reach out, as though she were going to touch them, like she couldn't quite believe what her eyes were telling her.

Grasping one of his hands in hers, she turned it over, palm-side-up and leaned in a little closer to fully inspect his fingers.  When she started to reach out, though, extending her finger slowly toward the tip of one claw, he stopped her.  "Careful, V.  They're sharp."

She yanked her finger back and shot him a suspect glance then heaved a sigh and shook her head.  "Okay, I give.  How did you do that?"

"Do what?"

Wrinkling her nose, she gave a curt snort.  "Change your appearance.  What else?"

"I told you, V," he said with a laugh, "I'm not human.  I'm youkai."

"You have fangs?" she gasped, leaning in to shove his lip up a little further so she could get a better look at his teeth.

"Oh, yeah, there's that, too.  Dog-youkai have fangs, and most of the cat-youkai do, too, but some don't.  It just depends on the kind of youkai, I guess."


His laughter escalated just a little.  "Youkai.  It's a Japanese term.  It basically means that I'm a magical entity.  Strictly speaking, I belong to the classification known as mononoke—a creature spirit."  He grinned and winked at her.  "A dog spirit."

The irony of that was not lost on her, if the expression on her face meant anything.  She looked like she might be fighting to back a laugh but didn't want to do it since she was still convinced that he was trying to feed her some weird story.  He supposed that he could understand that.  It wasn't every day that someone told her that he wasn't exactly human, now was it?

"A dog," she repeated skeptically when she finally got the urge to laugh under control.

He nodded.  "Now you know why it seems like I talk to mine—and why they seem to understand me when I do, right?"

"Lots of people talk to their pets, Roka," she pointed out mildly.

"Yeah, but I actually do . . .  Anyway, youkai are stronger than humans.  Stronger, faster, we live longer . . . Human illness doesn't affect us.  That's just how it is," he said.

She still didn't look like she was buying into it, and she kind of looked like she might well be getting a little irritated, too—not surprising if she thought that he was lying to her.

Changing tactics, he got up and walked into the kitchen, returning a minute later with the wicked-sharp chef's knife that he kept up on the shelf in the butcher's block.  Valerie sat up and scowled at it when he sat back down beside her, idly turning the blade a few times.

"What are you—? Oh, my God!" she screamed when he took the knife in one hand and sliced his palm open on the other.  Rising up on her knees, she yanked the sleeve of her sweater down over the heel of her hand to smash against his bleeding palm.  "Why did you do that?  Oh, God, you are still drunk, aren't you?"  Casting a wild look around, she reached behind herself for a throw pillow and jammed it under his nose.  "Here.  Hold this on there while I call Bone.  We've got to get you to a hospital!"

"It's fine, V," he said calmly, taking the pillow and tossing it over his shoulder.  "You're going to ruin your sweater."

"I don't care about the sweater!" she shot back.  He winced when he heard the panic thick in her voice.

"It's okay," he told her again, grasping her hand that she was using to staunch the flow of blood and gently tugging it aside.  "It's already starting to heal.  See?"

She opened her mouth to berate him but blinked when she got a better look at his palm.  Despite the blood that still seeped from the wound, she could see that the sides were already starting to pull together at the top and bottom of the cut.  "H . . . How . . .?"

Tucking a long lock of hair back behind her ear, Evan smiled just a little.  "I told you: I'm not human.  I'm youkai."

Slowly, she lifted her gaze to meet his, and, while she didn't look entirely convinced, she did seem like she just might be trying to consider the possibility of it.  "It's really not possible," she finally said, letting her eyes fall back to his wounded hand once more.

"It is," he replied simply.

"Okay, so . . . your family are all these . . . youkai . . .?  That's what you're trying to tell me."


"And that's why they all look so young?"


She looked thoughtful for a moment, as though something had occurred to her that she hadn't considered before.  "That's why you were able to scale the fence earlier?"


Leaning back, crossing her arms and resting them on her raised knees, she slowly shook her head.  "And your family . . . Are they the only ones in the world?"

He chuckled.  "No.  There are a lot of them, comparably speaking."

She made a face.  "Like who?"

She was definitely humoring him, at least for the moment, but he figured that was all right.  She'd come to accept it eventually.  "Maddy's youkai."

Valerie blinked.  "No, she's not!  She—"

"She's a pole-cat youkai like her father."

She said nothing, just blinked at him very, very slowly.

"Bone and Bugs are both youkai, too . . . So's Mikey . . ." His smile faltered.  "So was Dieter."

Digesting that for a few minutes, Valerie stared at his hand.  The bleeding had stopped—it wasn't that deep of a cut to begin with—but she still didn't seem to quite believe what she was seeing with her own eyes.  "If you heal like that," she finally said, nodding once at his hand, "and Dieter was . . . was like you said . . . why . . .?"

"Why did he die," Evan finished for her when she trailed off, but it was more of a statement than an actual question.  "Youkai are faster than humans, and sure, we heal faster, too, but we aren't indestructible.  It just so happens that his body couldn't heal as fast as a bullet could destroy him."  Letting out a deep breath as he struggled with the deep-rooted emotion that the memories evoked in him, he had to clear his throat a few times before he could trust himself to speak again.  "Deet was shot through the heart.  There was just too much damage . . ."

She was silent for a while, and he could tell from the expression on her face that she, too, was remembering that awful day so long ago.  Then she sighed.  "Evan, how am I really supposed to believe this?  If you really were this . . . this . . . youkai or whatever you called it, then why didn't you tell me this before?"

"I told you, V.  It's not something we talk about unless we're telling our mate."

The sound of that word was enough to make her arch a brow in silent question.  He chuckled.  "But you have to believe me about it because there's more to it than I've already told you."

She looked like she was dreading whatever else he might be getting ready to say, not that he could rightfully blame her for that.

"You said that I might believe that I'll love you forever now, but that nothing is ever 'forever', right?"

The reminder of her own words was enough to make her look away.  "Evan—"

"I do know what it means, V.  Everyone like me knows what it means.  To my kind, when you find your mate, you spend the rest of your life making sure that that one person is happy because their happiness is your happiness.  It's not because we have to.  We do it because we want to."

Somewhere in the midst of Evan's quiet speech, Valerie's gaze had returned to his face, and even though she still looked like she wasn't entirely sold on the whole thing, she did look like she felt it: that quiet sense of hope that maybe she could hold on to.  But she did smile wanly.  "So if I were to believe what you're trying to tell me, then you're saying that you really would love me forever?"

He nodded.  "Absolutely."

She shook her head slowly but the smile didn't disappear.  "And just how long have you known that I'm your . . . mate, was it?"

"Since the day I walked into your office," he replied.

That assertion made her laugh—she really thought that he was just being outrageous again, he figured.  "So why didn't you tell me all of this back then?"

He shrugged.  "You weren't ready to accept the idea, right?  And . . ." He winced.  "And you were engaged . . ."

She sighed and reached for her bottle of water, taking her time removing the cap and draining a good half of it before she deigned to look at him again, and when she did, she frowned at him in that thoughtful way of hers.  "I'm not saying I believe you because even you have to admit that what you're telling me is just a little out there, if you know what I mean."

"Just wait till you see Mama without her concealment," he said.

"Why's that?"

Evan chuckled again and dragged Valerie back over against him.  "She has dog ears like jiijii."

Pushing against his chest so that she could twist her body to look at him, she snorted.  "Dog ears?"

"Mama's half-youkai, half-human—hanyou.  So's jiijii.  They have dog ears.  Damn cute, if you ask me."

"But you don't.  You just look like Dr. Spock."

He laughed.  "Yes, that sounds about right."

She laughed, too, and finally relaxed against him.  There was more he wanted to tell her, but he figured that it was all right to stop for now.  A moment later, he jerked slightly when her fingertip traced the outline of the crests that had appeared when he'd removed his concealment.  Damn his luck for having his in roughly the same spot as Cain.  It didn't annoy him, exactly, but how fair was it for those to be stuck right where it tickled the most?

"Something else that you were hiding?" she asked dryly.

Evan squeezed one eye shut and grabbed her hand, bringing her fingers to his lips.  "Yep . . ."

"Hmm . . . interesting . . ."

Evan nodded.  Interesting?  Okay, he'd take that.  It was a good start, anyway.  Still, he would be surprised if she was able to accept what he'd told her without a lot of inner debate, but that was all right, too.  He had a lifetime to prove it to her, and somehow, he didn't think that he'd mind that at all.

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I've been asked a few times over the years how people actually address certain others.  In this case, Evan's talking about the particulars of addressing InuYasha.  Normally, I address this simply by using English equivalent, but since Evan's explaining things to Valerie, it made sense to do it here.

Oyaji: relatively disrespectful way to address your father.  Ryomaru and Kichiro use this one; Takara might when she gets older, too, as she is a bit more forward than Gin and Mikio  Otherwise, she would likely use Papa, like those two do.  (Note: InuYasha often uses this one, and why the Viz translation often has him say 'father', I'll never know lol)
: old man.  Some argue that it can be used like 'gramps' but that's kind of not exactly the context.  It is considered a rude way to address an older man.  Toga uses this one and Sesshoumaru probably did discourage it when Toga was younger, however, Toga would ignore that and still use it when addressing his uncle.
: old(er) man.  Same argument as before, however keep in mind that when InuYasha talks to Myouga, he calls him "jiijii'—the implication is clear here. Bas, Gunnar, Morio, Evan, et al use this one.
: This one would be the one that is more informal yet still okay to use, as in, gramps or a more informal grandpa.  Isabelle, Alexandra, Sami, Jillian, et al would use this one.

'Forever' by KISS originally appeared on the 1989 release, Hot in the Shade.  Copyrighted to Michael Bolton and Paul Stanley.
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Thought from Valerie:
Youkai?  Sounds like a weird brand of cell phones
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.