InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Future ( Chapter 216 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Try to leave a light on when I'm gone ...
'Something I rely on to get home
'One I can feel at night, a naked light
'A fire to keep me warm …'

-'Light On' by David Cook.

-Valerie-


Evan plopped over the back of the sofa, landing beside Valerie with a grunt as he swung his legs around to drape over the armrest.  She didn't do a thing to acknowledge the invasion except to drop a leather-bound, zippered photo album on his chest.

He grunted again and rolled onto his side to lean up on his elbow while he picked up the album and flipped it to stare at front and back.  "What's this?"

"It's the sample album from Bob Gross Studios," she said without looking up from the guest list that currently preoccupied her.  Suddenly, though, she heaved a sigh and tilted the notepad to the side in favor of pinning Evan with a raised-eyebrow-ed look.  "Tell me something, Roka," she drawled, her voice silky smooth, almost caressing.

He grinned in response.  "You wanna go fuck?" he asked a little too hopefully.

"No," she said with all the finality of an executioner.

He heaved a sigh to let her know exactly what he thought of her no-nonsense rebuttal.

She ignored it.  "Who the hell are all these people?"

He laughed.  He couldn't help it.  "Family," he replied simply enough.

She blinked a few times and then slowly shook her head.  "That is one huge family," she retorted mildly.

"I know, right?  Sucks to be me," he quipped lightly.

"I thought you said that you wanted a small wedding in the interest of arranging things quickly.  This," she went on, waving the list at him, "is not 'small'."

He heaved a long-suffering sigh.  "Actually, it is," he ventured with a wan grin.  "Cain being who he is, the list of those that would expect to be invited is pretty extensive.  He was . . . nice enough . . . to condense it for me, though."

Which really wasn't that hard to do, if Evan wanted to be honest.  All he'd really had to say was that Valerie didn't want to have a huge wedding.  Cain had grunted and nodded at Gin.  "Tell that to her," he'd said simply enough.   "Save me the trouble of trying to remember names of people I only see once every fifty years, anyway."

Gin, on the other hand, had been a little more circumspect about the whole affair, worrying whether or not this person or that would be offended if they were left off the list.  In the end, however, Evan had pointed out that Valerie's list was pretty concise—fifty people, maybe less—and to that end, Gin had finally given in, too.  After all, Gin still hated to think about how one-sided the guest list was back when Bas and Sydnie had gotten married.  It didn't really surprise Evan that she'd take that into consideration when presenting Valerie with the edited list.

Valerie sighed and rubbed her forehead as a trace of weariness crept into her aura.  "I guess there's no help for it, then," she concluded, more to herself than to Evan.  "I'll just have to call the printer tomorrow and make sure that they can adjust the order—probably charge an arm and a leg—maybe an IOU for your first-born, too," she muttered with a sigh as she rubbed her forehead with a weary hand.

"If they do that, then don't worry about it," Evan reassured her with a grin.

"Oh, I'm not," she quipped.  "You're paying for all of it, remember?"

"Maybe, but when we get married, you're going to have everything I have, so actually, I guess you could say that you're paying for it, too."

She shook her head.  "See?  I knew that there was a reason we should have just gone to the justice of the peace."

Evan chuckled and rolled over, slipping his arms around Valerie in one smooth motion.  "No way, baby.  I'm going to make sure you have the wedding of your dreams."

She snorted indelicately but smiled as she ran her fingers lightly through his hair.  "In three months," she muttered.  An all-too-familiar stab of panic shot through her with the thought as she wondered for the umpteenth time if he wasn't asking for the impossible—and if she weren't actually being a little too stubborn for her own good since she's the one who had insisted that she could plan the wedding.  After all, it had damn well better be the only one she'd ever have, so the idea of hiring a wedding planner just hadn't appealed to her.  "I want everything to be perfect . . . and speaking of 'perfect' . . ."

"What's that?" he asked when she trailed off.

"You're going to have to find another best man, Roka.  Maddy's agreed to be my maid of honor."

Evan snorted indelicately.  "What?  You bribed her, didn't you?"

She smiled a little smugly.  "Bribe?  Nope . . . She just figured she'd rather wear a dress than a suit—and I might have given her a pair of shoes . . ."

"Bribery!"

She laughed.  "I'd call it . . . sharing between friends . . ."

He scowled at her.  "That's dirty, V—really dirty."

"Suck it up, Roka.  It'd look weird, don't you think, if your best man wasn't a man."

Evan heaved a particularly petulant sigh.  "Fine, fine . . . Just remember: cheaters never prosper."

"It wasn't cheating," she insisted with a casual flick of her wrist.  "She just loves me more.  That's all."

He snorted, signaling that he was giving up the fight, albeit with all the ill-grace he could possibly muster, and went on to change the subject.  "Yeah, well, don't forget that your parents are flying in tomorrow, so I'm sure your mama will be more than happy to help you out," he reminded her with a stifled yawn.

"Hmm, thank you for that.  Daddy's saying that he feels like a rock star, having a private jet fly them up here," she teased.

Evan grinned.  "Easier on him than a regular flight.  I would've gone down myself, but we've got that guy coming tomorrow with the molding samples, and it was the only day he could make it."

"It's fine," she assured him.  "They know you're just trying to get on their good side."

His grin turned cheesy.  "Yeah?  Is it working?"

She couldn't help but to smile, too.  "Probably."

He looked so self-satisfied that she rolled her eyes.  "Good . . . Now your mama can help you finish up the wedding plans, and we can get this show on the road."

Valerie sighed.  "Y-Yeah," she allowed slowly as a slight scowl surfaced on her features.

"What's that look for?" Evan pressed.  When she didn't respond right away, he poked her in the belly for good measure.  She giggled and shoved his hand away.

"Do you know what she said about the flower portfolio I sent her?"

Evan nodded and gave her a little squeeze.  "Said they were all beautiful and that she thought any of them would be perfect for the occasion."

Valerie shot him a droll look.  "Exactly."

He blinked and stared at her for a moment.  "That was the wrong answer?"

That earned him a very consternated frown.  "I want her input, Evan," she complained with a sigh.  "I don't want her to just say that this or that is all good.  You know, it's like she's afraid of . . . of offending me or something if she speaks her mind."  Trailing off to heave yet another sigh, Valerie shifted around so that she could rest her cheek on Evan's chest—no small feat since he was still resting his head on her upper thigh.  "I don't want it to be like this.  I want . . . I want thing to be normal between us . . . It's like she's walking on eggshells around me, like she's afraid of saying anything that'll upset me . . . It shouldn't be this . . . this . . . formal, right?"

He considered that for a moment as he sat up and let her rest her head on his lap in much the same way as he had done to her.  Stroking her hair, he smiled, albeit wanly, and shrugged.  "I think it's part of your mother's way of showing you that she's sorry," he finally said.  "I mean, if you think about it, it's pretty sweet of her.  She's going out of her way to make absolutely sure that she doesn't say or do anything else to hurt you."

Valerie stared at him for a moment then rolled her eyes.  "Good God, you sound like some warped after school special or something," she grumbled.  "Talk about completely corny . . ."

"Yeah, but think about it, baby.  If she didn't care, then she wouldn't try to spare your feelings.  Maybe what you really need to do is to sit down with her and tell her that you'd value her honest opinion."

Her eyes narrowed as she stared at him.  "I have told her that," she insisted.  Then she sighed.  "I don't want the reminders that things weren't always all right between us."

Evan's only response was to hug Valerie a little tighter.  "It'll be okay, baby.  You'll see."

She gave him a wan smile that grew brighter the longer she looked at him.  Somehow, just staring into his eyes was enough to reassure her that he was right, after all . . .


-Evan-


The evening shadows were starting to spread, impossibly thin fingers of darkness cast by the trees that surrounded the small yard where Bas Zelig was folding up a small metal table.  "Hey," Evan called as he stepped off the road and into the grass.  He'd opted to walk the distance to his brother's house instead of driving, partly to prolong the inevitable, and partly because it just happened to be an absolutely brilliant spring evening.  Valerie had asked if he wanted her to come along, but for once, he kind of didn't.  Besides, she was planning on heading over to the mansion to look over a few things with Gin before calling it a day, anyway.  "That looks like Bailey's doing," he commented, nodding at the folded up table.  "Was he building a fort or something?"

Bas snorted.  "Or something," he muttered, bending down to swipe up a piece of cardboard that he proceeded to hold and frown at for a moment before turning it around to show Evan.  In Bailey's unmistakable scrawl were the words, "Will trade for cookies."

"What was he trying to trade?"

Bas snorted again. "His sister."

To his credit, Evan did manage to keep from laughing, but he could feel his cheeks twitching.  "Wow."

Bas blinked and stared at him for a long moment.  "I could have told him it'd never work, anyway.  At least, it didn't when you were a pup."

"You tried to sell me?"

Bas shrugged and started to stride toward the garage.  "I wanted a skate board," he replied over his shoulder.  "Let me put this stuff up.  Be right back."

Evan chuckled.  It didn't take Bas long to put the table up and grab a couple beers out of the small refrigerator under the tool bench.  He tossed Evan one and popped the cap off the other.  "So what's up?"

Evan took his time, twisting the cap off his beer and taking a long swig.  "Just wondered if you'd been by to see Miss lately."

Bas nodded at Evan's unvoiced question.  "How she's doing, you mean?  I assume you've been over to see her?"

"Of course," Evan allowed, staring down at the bottle in his hand with a thoughtful frown.  "What do you think, though?"

This time, Bas sighed, only it wasn't a regular sigh.  It was long and drawn out and almost tired.  "Seems a little pale, maybe a little run-down, though I can't say that it's because of Dieter.  It could just be stress."

"That's what I thought, too," Evan agreed.  "So doesn't seem to be worse, though, so I guess that's a good sign."

"And she's human, so that might have something to do with it since he never marked her."

Evan smiled almost sardonically as he lifted the bottle to his lips again.  "Deet said that she didn't completely buy into his story until after Daniel was born."

They fell silent for a moment, and Evan could feel Bas' gaze on him, as though he were trying to figure out just what Evan was thinking.  Finally, he sighed and drew a deep breath.  "So you going to tell me why you're really here?" he asked, striving for a casual tone and inflicting a little too much of it into his voice.  "I mean, I just saw you earlier while we were working on the lighthouse."

Evan chuckled.  "All right; all right.  I was building up to it, you know."

Bas broke into a slight grin as he casually sipped his beer and waited for whatever Evan wanted to say.

Even so, it took him a few moments to actually gather his thoughts before he spoke.  "I just thought, maybe—If you wanted to, anyway . . . I need a best man, and I thought that maybe you'd . . .?"

Bas blinked as the smile on his face faltered and faded, only to be replaced with a thoughtful scowl—an expression that Evan was a lot more familiar with, given their history.  "You want me to be your best man?" he repeated with a shake of his head.  "What happened to all your buddies?  Bone and whoever else?"

Evan frowned and gave a shrug meant to be a casual kind of gesture as he turned on his heel and headed for the road once more.  Honestly, he wasn't entirely sure just why he wasn't surprised, and he supposed that a small part of him actually expected a response like that from Bas.  "Forget about it," he tossed over his shoulder as he wandered away.  For some reason, though, Bas had just seemed like the natural choice for best man.  He should have known that there was no way that Bas would do it, and for some ridiculous reason, Evan couldn't help but to feel just like he did when he was a child, chasing after the big brother who didn't really want to hang out with him.  "Just a thought.  No big deal."

"Evan, wait!" Bas called after him.  Evan didn't turn back, but he did hesitate in his gait as the sound of Bas' footfalls sounded behind him.  "Hey, I'd be honored.  I mean, if you're sure you don't want someone else.  I just thought—"

Evan blinked and glanced over his shoulder at Bas, standing there, looking somewhat confused but with the slight smile back in place.  "You were my first choice—after Maddy, anyway."

That statement made Bas chuckle, and he slowly shook his head.  "Maddy, huh?"

"Yeah, well, what can you do?  V wanted her as her maid of honor, too, and Maddy looks better in a dress than she does in a tux, anyway."

Bas laughed a little more. "You're sure though?  That you want me to be your best man?"

Evan grinned and gave another slight shrug before tossing back the rest of his beer in one steady gulp.  "Yeah.  You're my bubby, right?  Who better?"

For a moment, Bas looked like he might be at a loss for words.  Suddenly, though, he smiled and jerked his head toward the house behind them.  "Come on in and have another beer.  Besides, the game's about to start."

Evan chuckled as he followed Bas.  Football season might well be over, but everyone knew that Bas' love of all things sports knew no bounds.  "Isn't it about dinner time?"

"Oh, don't worry about that.  Sydnie went for pizza.  You're welcome to stay for it, if you want."

"Did she ever learn to cook?"

Bas snorted as he ran up the steps onto the front porch.  "Are you kidding?  The one time she tried, she nearly burnt the house down, remember?"

Evan laughed since he did, indeed, remember that incident not long after the two had gotten married.  He hadn't realized that one small burning pot roast could produce enough smoke to fill an entire house, but it could and did . . . "Yeah, I guess you've got a point."

Bas paused in yanking open the front door and shot Evan a knowing look.  "Besides, she's perfectly happy with letting Mom cook for us.  I mean, we told her not to worry about it right now with the baby and everything, but you know her . . ."

Evan nodded, making a mental note to mention it to Gin later.  He could give her a hand in her weekly task of making reheatable meals for Bas and Sydnie, after all.  Besides, he loved cooking and spending time with her, so it was all good.  Truthfully, he was mildly surprised that Cain allowed Gin to do all of that, as anal as he tended to be about her, especially now that she was pregnant.

"This best man thing," Bas went on as he headed for the kitchen to grab more beer, waving a hand toward the living room in passing.  "You're not expecting me to do anything weird, are you?"

Evan grinned as he dropped onto the overstuffed sofa and reached for the television's remote control.  "Nah, nothing weird," he said, but couldn't help adding, "though I did have some ideas about the bachelor party.  What do you think about taking a trip to the city?  There's a great little club in the Village that serves food on naked women, and they offer lap dances while you're eating."

Bas snorted, the sound echoing through the house.  "No way, you twisted little monkey," he called back.

Evan chuckled.  'Yep,' he decided with a nod,  asking Bas to be his best man was the greatest idea he'd had in a while because seeing just how far he could push his brother was always worth a laugh or two.  "No?   Okay, then how 'bout we . . .?"


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Light On' by David Cook originally appeared on the 2008 release, David Cook.  Copyrighted to Chris Cornell and Brian Howes.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Bas:
The best man, 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.
~Sue~

Chapter 215
Chapter 217
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