InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Belief ( Chapter 215 )

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

-OoOoOoOoO oOoOoOoOoO-

'I have a tale to tell ...
'Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well
'I was not ready for the fall
'To blind to see the writing on the wall …'

-'Live to Tell' by Madonna.


Evan rolled over and slipped an arm around Valerie, leaning up on his elbow to kiss her shoulder.  "Morning, V," he murmured, ducking his head to trail a few more kisses along the rise.

She laughed softly and let her phone drop on the bed beside her as she rolled over to snuggle against Evan with a contented sigh.  "Morning."

"Your mom?" he asked between rounds of nuzzling.

She sighed again.  "Yes . . . She said that she'd talk to her work about taking an extended leave of absence, and Daddy . . . Well, he's already telling her what to pack."


Snuggling against him, she ran her fingertips lightly up and down his chest.  "You really don't mind having them here?"

"Not at all," he assured her, giving her a little squeeze as he wrapped his arms tighter around her.  "The pool house is big enough, anyway, and that'll give them a little privacy, too."

"And the kids?"

"Garret'll be in the city part of the time to lay the tracks for his album and when he's here, I'm pretty sure that he'll want to stay in the main house, but K can stay with us in here or out there in the pool house, too, whichever she wants."

She sighed, snuggling closer to him for a moment before tossing back the covers and scooting off the bed.  "You're such a sweetie, did you know?"

"Aww," Evan complained, propping his head on his hand and doing his best to give her his most pitiful pout.  "V . . ."

"And as much as I'd love to stay in bed with you all day, some of us are on a really tight schedule to plan a wedding in three months," she pointed out.  "A schedule that you insisted on, if you'll recall."

Evan heaved a sigh but couldn't help the grin that surfaced as he watched her move around the bedroom, completely oblivious to the fact that she was still very, very naked.  Or maybe she simply was comfortable enough that it didn't actually bother her.  Either way, it worked out to Evan's benefit, so what the hell did he care?  "But it's only eight," he complained.

She nodded.  "Yes, and today I've got appointments with a couple florists that your mother recommended as well as meetings with potential photographers.  Maddy'll be arriving this afternoon, so I want to get with her and ask her to be my maid of honor, and—"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Evan interrupted, waving his hands as he sat up straight.  "You can't have Maddy!  She's mine!  She's gotta be my best man!"

Bumping the drawer closed with her hip as she donned a pretty pink bra that matched the panties she'd already pulled on faster than should have been humanly possible, Valerie shot Evan a droll look.  "Maybe, except she's not a man, and . . . I said it first, so I get her."

"But I've known her longer," Evan protested.

Valerie rolled her eyes.  "That doesn't matter.  Besides, she loves me more than she loves you."

"No way!" Evan argued.  "What about K?"

Striding over to the closet, Valerie waved a hand over her shoulder.  "I'll ask Kaci Lea to be a bride's maid, and even if I did ask her to be my maid of honor, she'd probably say no."


Valerie wrinkled her nose.  "Listen, if you expect me to plan a wedding in three months, then the least you can do is let me have Maddy," she replied.

He opened and closed his mouth a few times then heaved a sigh as he slowly shook his head.  "All right," he drawled, sounding less than pleased about the whole thing.  "That was entirely unfair, though, just so you know."  Then he snapped his fingers and pointed at her with both hands.  "Wait!  I've got it!  How 'bout you take Bugs?"

"Bugs?" Valerie repeated incredulously.  "He hates me!"

"He doesn't hate you," Evan argued.  "He just wants to keep me for himself."

"Exactly," Valerie replied.  "You keep Bugs, and I'll keep Maddy."

Heaving a sigh, Evan flopped back onto the bed.  "How about we both ask Maddy and let her decide who she wants to deal the big shaft . . ."

Valerie considered that for a moment then giggled.  "Deal," she agreed, obviously sure that Madison would choose her over Evan.

"No bribery," he warned.

Valerie snorted.  "You're the one who would do that," she said as she glanced at the clock on the nightstand.  "You should be getting ready, too."  She tossed a blue tee-shirt over her shoulder.  It landed on his chest.

"Why's that?"

"Hmm . . . Didn't you tell me last night that you, Cain, and your brother are meeting with the contractor at the lighthouse this morning?"

Evan made a face but sat up.  "Damn, forgot about that."

"Still think you can have part of it ready in three months?" she challenged softly.

"Of course I can," Evan scoffed.  "I was just preoccupied, watching you put on clothes that I'm just going to rip off you later."

"You won't," she warned, shaking her head at him as she smoothed the oversized fisherman's sweater over her hips.  "I happen to like this, and I won't like it if you ruin it."

"Okay, okay," he agreed reluctantly.  "If you say so."

"I do," she said, heading for the bathroom.  She stopped long enough to cast him a meaningful look.  "And don't you dare tell them how you really proposed to me," she reminded him.

He chuckled as she disappeared, closing the door behind herself.  He'd tried to do that last night, but she had stopped him, which was probably a good thing, considering there was a good chance that InuYasha might well have cleaned his clock if he had managed to get the whole truth out.  Too bad, really, since Evan considered it to be the best proposal in the history of marriage . . .

Then he sighed as he yanked the tee shirt over his head.  She still didn't believe the whole youkai-thing, but at least she was beginning to show a little more curiosity than she had before.  She hadn't wanted to even entertain the thought, or so it would seem, but last night after they'd gotten home from dinner with the family, she actually had asked him if there was anything else she ought to know.  He might have told her more—if he hadn't been sidetracked by the smell of her, so fresh and vibrant, and the blatant reminder that he had her, all to himself . . .

By the time they'd finished what had to have been a marathon sex-session, she was so exhausted that she'd drifted off almost immediately, and that was all right, too.  They had a lifetime together to look forward to . . .

Dragging on a pair of faded blue jeans, Evan was just stuffing his wallet and keys into his pockets when Valerie re-emerged from the bathroom.  "Oh, hey, on your way to the florist, can you stop and pick up some more condoms?" Evan asked as he reached into the closet for a light jacket.  He didn't figure he'd need it, but one never knew, especially at the lighthouse.

"Okay, but why do we need those?" she asked, tilting her head to the side as she fastened her earring.

He grinned.  "Because we ran out last night," he reminded her.

She rolled her eyes but smiled, too.  "That's not what I mean," she corrected.  "We're getting married, aren't we?  So do we really have to use those?"

He blinked and raised an eyebrow at her.  "Actually, yes," he replied.

Valerie looked confused for a moment.  "Why . . .?"  The confusion slowly shifted into something a bit darker.  "If you tell me you caught some disease from one of your many one-night stands, I swear to God, I'll—"

His laughter cut her off.  "Nothing like that, V, I promise," he said, holding up his hands in mock surrender.  "It's just that, in my world, you can't sleep with someone without a condom without making her your mate—permanently."

It took her all of precisely thirty seconds to digest that bit of information, and when she finally did, she snorted.  "That again?  A youkai-thing, right?"

He nodded.  "Yes, and considering not a damn one in my family has ever gotten that one right, I figured it'd be pretty damn funny if I was the first."

That drew her attention quickly enough.  "What do you mean?"

Evan grinned.  "Ol' Cain marked Mama before they were married—'course, there was a good reason for that, but still, he did it . . . Bubby and Sydnie were mates before he brought her home to meet Mama and Cain, and Jilli?  Well, she didn't want to give Gavin a chance to change his mind, so she kind of forced the issue, if you know what I mean . . ." Turning thoughtful, Evan scratched his chin.  "Though Kichiro and Bellaniece did it in the right order, I think . . . Kind of ironic, considering he's the ass-monkey . . ."

Valerie shook her head.  "Kagome mentioned that, too—marking," she ventured, looking rather unsure about the entire affair.  "The . . . The blood thing . . ."

"Well, there's two ways to complete the marking—two steps, I guess.  The first step is to have unprotected sex.  The second part is the blood exchange."

She blinked and raised an eyebrow.  "Is that why you've always said you use a condom?"

He nodded.  "Youkai cannot get human diseases," he told her.  "Be pretty dumb to accidentally make someone my mate, though."  He chuckled and shrugged.  "Besides, you're the one thing I want to do right."

She smiled even though she didn't look entirely convinced.  "That's sweet of you—I think . . . But how, exactly, does having unprotected sex make me your mate?"

Scratching his head, Evan grinned.  "Well, I don't know the particulars, but I guess it has something to do with a chemical breakdown . . . You could ask Kich; he'd know better than I do."  Heaving a sigh as he sat on the wooden chest at the foot of the bed, Evan thought about the process, of what he knew of it.  In truth, he hated to give her half-answers, but honestly, he hadn't really delved into it too far.  It had always been enough for him to know what was what and all that jazz . . . "I think there's gotta be more to it, too, though," he said slowly.  "I think that's what Kich said before.  Think of it like a way of making physical a purely psychological bond.  Any more than that, though, you'll have to ask Kich.  Luckily for you, he likes answering questions like that."

"You mean, there's something you don't know?"

He heard the teasing in her tone.  He also didn't miss the underlying seriousness of her question.  "There're lots of things I don't know," he admitted with another grin.  "For example, I don't know how I'm gonna make it through the day without my morning 'luvvins' . . ."

Valerie rolled her eyes again but smiled.  "You'll be fine, Roka," she promised before turning on her heel and hurrying out of the room before Evan decided that he needed to detain her anyway.  "I'll send you pictures from the florist."

Evan chuckled and stood up.  "All right, V.  Be careful—and you promised to let Maddy decide!"

"Bye!" she called, her voice echoing through the house.


"Three months, huh?"

Making a face, Valerie heaved a sigh and nodded once.  "Ugh, I know," she lamented, accepting the glass of wine that Madison handed her before settling down on the sofa beside her.  "I must be crazy to have agreed to it . . ."

Madison laughed and set her glass down in favor of grabbing Valerie's hand to inspect the engagement ring.  "Shouldn't that be bigger?" she asked, manipulating Valerie's hand one way and then the other.

"I like this one just fine," Valerie insisted, smiling as she opened her eyes to gaze at the ring, too.  "Any bigger would be gaudy."

"You think so?" Madison parried, letting go of her hand and drawing her knee up on the sofa, twisting her body, resting her elbow on the back cushions and leaning her temple on a balled-up fist.  "He could afford it, you know."  Suddenly, she laughed.  "Then again, there's a good chance he didn't buy that stone, anyway."

Lowering her glass of wine, Valerie narrowed her eyes on Madison.  "What do you mean, he didn't buy it?"  Wrinkling her nose, she waved a hand.  "Never mind.  Let me guess: the Zeligs own a diamond mine somewhere, right?"  She sighed but smiled ruefully and shook her head.  "That family is disturbingly wealthy."

Madison laughed, too.  "No, but they don't need to.  When the boys finish their sword training, InuYasha teaches them all how to perform the Kongousouha, and the diamonds are a direct result of that."

"The wha . . .?"

"Kongousouha . . . It's an attack that can only be performed with jiijii's sword.  Basically, it sends spears of diamonds at the enemy and impales them, but there are always smaller shards, too, and the boys keep the diamonds they've created—at least, that's what Evan said.  I've never actually seen him do it—more's the pity . . ."

Valerie made a face.  "Ah, the whole 'youkai' thing again, right?"

Madison laughed, though whether it was because of the dubious tone of Valerie's voice or the face she'd made, she didn't know.  "Evan mentioned that you weren't buying into it."

Waving a hand in dismissal, she sipped the wine.  "He doesn't have to make all that stuff up," she said with another shake of her head.  "I already decided that I want to be with him, so concocting weird stories . . ."

"Why do you think that he's making up stories?" Madison asked gently.  "Why can't you just take what he says at face value and call it good?"

"Maddy, there are no such things as these youkai," Valerie stated matter-of-factly.  "That's like saying that there are aliens on earth . . ."

"Maybe there are," Madison said simply.  "I'm pretty sure that if they're here, they probably live down by the docks.  Some of those people are pretty weird, don't you think?"

Valerie heaved another sigh and rubbed her forehead in a tired kind of way.  "Hmm . . ."

Madison laughed and started to speak, but her cell phone cut her off.  Glancing at the device, she wrinkled her nose at Valerie.  "Just a sec . . ."

Valerie nodded while Madison read the text message she'd received and quickly fired one back.  "Sorry about that," she said, slipping her phone onto the table.


Madison shook her head.  "No, it was Miss.  She invited me over tomorrow.  Do you have time to come with me?"

Rubbing her face, Valerie let out a deep breath.  "As much as I'd love to, I have a bunch of things to do . . . I'm sure that we'll see her soon, anyway.  Evan said that Bas has been keeping an eye on her . . ." Trailing off with a frown, she stared at Madison.  Was it just her imagination or did the woman seem strangely troubled?  Suddenly, though, the image of Evan's expression flickered to life in her head, too, and Valerie reached out, touched Madison's hand.  "Why do both you and Evan act like you're more worried about Miss than you're letting on?"

Madison blinked, tried to force a smile.  "Do we?" she asked, her smile brightening.

Valerie's frown deepened in turn.  "Yes.  She's not . . . not suicidal or anything, is she?"

The fake smile on Madison's face faltered then slowly disappeared.  "No," she said quickly with a sigh and a grimace.  "It's just that, you know . . . Her mate died."

"So you're saying that Miss is like you and Evan?"

"No, actually, she's not.  She's human," Madison said.  "Evan said that maybe it was a good thing that Dieter never got around to marking her . . . I want to believe that, but . . ."

A strange sense of foreboding ran up Valerie's spine with an icy kind of chill.  True, she didn't necessarily buy into the whole story, and yet it struck her, too, that it was entirely too complicated for it to all be a lie, wasn't it . . .? There was something else, too—something that Valerie couldn't quite per her finger on . . . "W . . . Why would that matter?"

Madison sighed, reaching for her wine with a slightly trembling hand, and she didn't say anything until after she'd drained the glass.  "When a youkai's mate dies, so does that youkai," she said quietly, so quietly that Valerie almost missed it.  Staring down at her hands clenched so tightly in her lap that her fingertips were leeched of color, Madison winced.  "It's not a lie that youkai spend their entire lives, trying to find their mates, and once they do, then that's it, you know?  And with humans . . ." She shook her head.  "I don't know exactly how it works.  I guess that it's the whole theory that a youkai's blood only lives as long as the youkai does, so when Dieter died, his blood would have, too—blood that should have been inside Miss' body but wasn't . . ."

The sense of foreboding grew thicker, more cloying.  "What . . .?"

"That's why Evan lied to everyone," Madison said.  For some reason, Valerie had the feeling that Madison didn't even realize that she was talking out loud.  Gaze clouded over, staring at something that only she could see . . . What was it . . .? "Back then, he was afraid that Miss would really reject Dieter if he was sent away to prison again.  He was afraid that Dieter would give up, that Miss would give up on him.  He didn't want to see Dieter die because his mate rejected him . . ."

"Die?" Valerie echoed, shaking her head in confusion.

Madison sighed.  "If our mate rejects us for real, then yes . . . but with Miss and Dieter, nothing was ever certain, and . . ." Suddenly she shook her head.  "But now that he's gone . . . It all kind of depends upon how deep their bond really was.  Even Kichiro doesn't know . . ."

"But that's crazy," Valerie scoffed.  Her words were more sure than her tone, however.  "You're saying that someone else would die just because the other one does?  That's preposterous!  That's just—"

"It's just how it is, Valerie," Madison said quietly.

"But why—?" Cutting herself off abruptly, Valerie's eyes widened as a strange sense of understanding dawned upon her.  Madison's fear, so real, so raw that night she'd come over to her apartment.  That fear that had driven her, and there was nothing feigned about it . . . She was afraid because . . . because she'd thought, like Evan, that Valerie had . . .? But . . .

"You need to get your ass over there and talk to him—do it before he does something stupid . . . Put Evan first for once in your miserable life!  Forget fucking Marvin—leave him a message if you absolutely must—but the only person on earth who can stop Evan from doing something entirely stupid to himself is you . . .! Hurry . . . please . . ."

"I thought it was what you wanted . . . Thought you'd rather that he came home so you could . . . could marry the little bastard . . ."

"Oh, well, hot damn, if it isn't a couple of my favorite women in the whole world!" Evan exclaimed with a broad grin as he swaggered into the house.

Madison untangled herself and stood up to kiss Evan on the cheek.  "Don't think I don't realize that your mother and sisters rank higher than I do on that list," she teased, wiping lipstick off his face gently.

"Your right up there," Evan assured her.  "So did V get around to asking you yet?"

Madison blinked.  "Ask me what?"

Evan chuckled and scooped Valerie up before sitting down and settling her on his lap.  "Well, you get your choice.  You can either be her maid of honor—but why would you want to do that when you could be my best, uh, wo-man!"

She seemed momentarily surprised as her gaze flickered from Evan to Valerie.  "You want me to be your maid of honor?"

Lost in contemplation as she tried to draw some conclusions for herself, Valerie blinked and started when Evan gave her a little squeeze.  As much as she might have said that she still didn't entirely buy into the whole story, there was something unsettling about the things that Madison had said, and it took Valerie a minute to figure out exactly why that was.  After all, she'd been hearing things from various people all along, hadn't she?  So why . . .?

And then she knew.  Everything that everyone else had told her so far was all positive, wasn't it?  Making the youkai out to be so elite, and maybe that's why Valerie couldn't believe it.  Longer life spans, stronger, faster, immune to human disease . . . But what Madison had said . . . If what Madison had maintained were true, then it meant . . .

"You okay, V?"

"What?  Oh, yeah," she blurted.  Her brain felt extra slow, sluggish, but she managed a wan smile when Evan planted a kiss on her cheek.

Madison sighed as she glanced at her watch.  "You two decide who wants me, and I'll go with it," she said with a wink.  "But I've got to go.  Daddy wants me to go to the firing range with him, and if I do, he should leave me alone for at least a week . . ."

"Okay, Maddy," Evan said with a chuckle.  "Don't hurt Cartham's ego too bad."

She laughed and blew them a kiss before letting herself out of the house.

Evan gave Valerie a little squeeze.  "Get anything done today?" he asked.

She nodded.  "Actually, I did . . . I also brought some photos home for you to help me pick out the centerpieces for the tables and arrangements for the ceremony . . ."

He nodded.  "Whatever you want, baby," he told her with a happy grin.  "As for me, I tore up a bunch of stuff today.  It was pretty exciting."

She smiled wanly then sighed.  Why was it that she simply couldn't shake that sense of foreboding that had invaded her senses when Madison had started talking . . .?

"If our mate rejects us for real, then yes . . . but with Miss and Dieter, nothing was ever certain, and . . ."

"If our mate rejects us for real, then yes . . ."

She sat up straight, twisted her body to stare at Evan directly.  "That's why she was scared!" she blurted, unmindful that Evan would likely have no idea just what she was talking about.

"V?" he asked, brows furrowing as confusion surfaced in his expression.

She shook her head.  "Oh, my God, it is!  The reason she was so scared when she came to my apartment . . . What were you going to do?"

He seemed surprised by the sharpness in her voice, the rising pitch that was attributed to the late fear that ran unchecked through her.  She didn't know why she felt that way—at least, not in concrete form—but she couldn't help but to feel as though Madison's fear that day might well have been totally grounded, after all.  "Uh . . . what was I going to do when?"

"Is it true?  What Maddy said?"

He looked even more puzzled.  "Um . . . depends on what she said?"

Valerie scowled at him.  "She said that if one mate dies, you both die," she said.  "Is it true?"

He was going to lie to her; she could see it on his face.  Well, maybe not lie to her, but he was certainly going to try to downplay whatever it was he was about to say.  Valerie shook her head.  "Truth, Evan. You want me to believe you about everything, don't you?"

Letting out a deep breath, he flinched slightly.  "Yeah, that's true," he admitted.  Then he smiled, or tried to.  It didn't exactly work.  "It's all right, though," he went on quietly.  "If something ever happened to you, my life wouldn't be worth shit, anyway."

"How can you say that?" she demanded just as quietly.  "How could you possibly—?"

"I told you, V.  My life is all about pleasing my mate—you."

She shook her head, but whether she was trying to refute his claim or trying to deny any belief in what he was saying, she had no idea.  "Madison said that youkai die if their mate rejects them," she said.  "That's what you thought, wasn't it?  You thought that I . . . and that's why you asked your mother to fund Marvin's research . . . because you thought . . ."

"It's all right," he told her, wrapping his arms a little tighter around her.  "V—"

"Why didn't you tell me all of that, too?" she demanded, her voice cracking, sharper than she intended, tainted by the emotion that threatened to choke her: latent fear that seethed to the forefront of her brain, unquestioned, unbidden, uncontested.  Somewhere in her mind, she knew it; knew that these things she'd been so convinced were just fantasy were somehow true even if it really couldn't be possible, even if logic screamed at her that it just did not happen that way.  Those things that she had never been able to understand, the things that Evan had just laughed off or ignored when she'd asked, and the things about his family, too . . .

"What was I supposed to do, V?" he asked softly, stroking her hair, rubbing her back as though he were trying to console a small child.  "The last thing I wanted was for you to stay with me because you felt sorry for me."

Somehow, the irony in that statement wrung a coarse laugh from her that she staunched with the back of her hand.  "And just who on earth would ever feel sorry for you?" she countered, but her question sounded more sulky than defiant.

"You know what I mean," he muttered.  "I just . . . I want you with me because it's where you want to be."

She smiled and sniffled and wiped away a tear.  "I am where I want to be, Roka," she said.  "Not sure I like the idea of being your weakness, though . . ."

He chuckled quietly.  "You're not my weakness," he amended.  "You're my strength."

"Am I?"

Wiping her cheeks with a gentle finger, Evan nodded.  "Forever," he told her.

Her smile brightened—delicate, still trembling, but brighter.  "You . . . You mean that."

Leaning down, kissing her gently, he sighed against her lips.  "Absolutely, V.  Absolutely . . ."

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Live to Tell' by Madonna originally appeared on the 1986 release, True Blue.  Copyrighted to Madonna and Patrick Leonard.
== == == == == == == == == ==
ladygeri ——— Glacier Tako ——— AtamaHitoride ——— CandyEars ——— Inusbabe
Midcat ——— cutechick18 ——— sydniepaige ——— Saphirea86 ——— lianned88 ——— amohip
Thought from Valerie:
Youkai, huh
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.

Chapter 214
Chapter 216
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