InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Rush ( Chapter 218 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'< i>I don't care if you sink or swim ...
'Lock me out or let me in
'Where I'm going or where I've been
'No, I don't care at all …'

-'The Great Song of Indifference' by Bob Geldof.

-Valerie-


"Don't forget that meeting with Reverend Jenkins this afternoon," Valerie called after Evan as the latter sauntered toward the bathroom to disappear into the shower.

"Do we really have to do that?" Evan called back with a loud, decisive snort.  "I mean, holy God, we're just getting married, not thinking about starting our own cult."

Rolling her eyes despite the smile on her face, Valerie stretched and pulled the snowy white comforter up under her chin.  "One hour of premarital counseling isn't going to kill you," she retorted dryly.

"Should we tell ol' man Jenkins what we just got done doing?  Bet he'd love to hear the details."

"You'd better be on your best behavior, Roka, or I swear, I'll hurt you," she threatened.  Too bad the sternness was undermined by the giggle that slipped from her, too.

"Hai, hai," he muttered.  "Come join me if you want."

Valerie sighed happily and snuggled down a little more under the protection of the comforter though she ignored his offer.  After all, she had a busy morning ahead of herself, and she was already going to be running a little late since she hadn't been able to dissuade Evan's advances.

Two weeks until the wedding.

She wasn't entirely sure that she believed it, and yet, surprisingly, everything was taken care of, all of the plans were made and set—at least, the big ones. Every day, she realized that there were still a million little things that had to be taken care of—silly little details, maybe, but ones that were still just as important as any of the rest.

A reluctant knock broke Valerie out of her reverie, and she sat up to reach for her robe.  "Come in."

Very slowly, the door opened, and Rhonda poked her head into the room, her eyes darting around quickly, as though to make certain that her daughter was awake—or that Evan was either out of the room or decently covered . . .

Deciding that Valerie was, indeed, alone, Rhonda smiled and finally stepped inside.  "Morning . . . I was hoping you were already awake."

Valerie grinned and tugged the belt into a feminine bow at her waist.  "I know; I'm already late," she apologized with a heavy sigh.  "Blame Evan."

Rhonda chuckled and waved a hand dismissively.  "Your fitting isn't until noon," she reminded Valerie.

Valerie nodded and paused long enough to slug back the half-cold mug of coffee that Evan had left there for her just before heading off to take a shower.  "I wanted to go with you to Daddy's appointment," she said, her voice muffled by the cup.  Glancing at the clock, she made a face.  If she hurried, she could still get a shower before it was time to leave . . .

Rhonda sighed and bit her lip, tapping her palms together in the decidedly nervous fashion that Valerie had come to realize meant that she didn't particularly want to say something.  Still, she waited, because that particular gesture also meant that she would tell Valerie as soon as she figured out how she wanted to say it.  "Your daddy said that he'd rather that you don't come along to his appointments," she finally blurted.  A moment later, she winced apologetically, as though she was afraid that she had been just a little too blunt.  "He just . . . He doesn't like for you to hear all the bad things," she finished weakly.

She wanted to argue with Rhonda.  It was on the tip of her tongue to do exactly that.  She didn't, though, mostly because the logical part of her—the part that she could separate herself from that tended to see things in a more reasonable light, even if she didn't want to—could understand why her father might feel the way he did.  "But I already know he isn't well," she said though she made no move to gather her things for her shower, either.

This time, Rhonda sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, ignoring the fact that she was wrinkling the pale blue blouse she'd ironed last night for today.  During the shopping trips that never seemed to end, Valerie had managed to talk her mother into letting her buy a few nicer outfits, her agreement no doubt fueled by the acute awareness of her wardrobe after spending time with Evan's mother.  Gin, of course, would never comment about the idea that Rhonda's clothes were well-worn for the most part, and certainly not new by any means, and Gin never treated Rhonda badly for it, either, but, well, Valerie had felt a few qualms about taking advantage of her mother's insecurities, but in the end, she'd convinced herself that her mother's misplaced pride could take a back seat for once.  True enough, she hadn't been able to convince Rhonda to pick out anything expensive, but the clothes she had managed to buy her mother were definitely nicer than anything Rhonda had been able to afford before.  Then her father had also insisted that Rhonda buy a few things with their money, and Valerie had been more than happy to accompany Rhonda to the nice if not more moderately priced places in the area.

Besides, it was a smallish victory, in and of itself, that Rhonda hadn't complained at all about the dress that Valerie had helped her to pick out for the wedding.  She supposed that Rhonda had decided that it was all right to spend more for that dress, after all.  As the mother of the bride, she had to look her very best, didn't she?  And the dress that they'd chosen was absolutely stunning, too.  Evan had seen it and had proceeded to complain that Rhonda was going to show up the bride.  Then he'd winked at Valerie and shot her a cheesy grin.

"Your daddy says you have enough stuff to worry about right now, especially with your wedding day so close, and you don't need to add him to that list," Rhonda reiterated.

Valerie wasn't pleased with the statement, but she nodded once, mostly because she knew damn well, just how stubborn her father really could be.  "Okay," she agreed reluctantly.  "If you're sure."

Rhonda looked somewhat relieved and gave a brusque nod.  "It's fine; I promise," she assured Valerie.  "So," she suddenly said in a bright tone as she industriously brushed her palms together, as if she were sweeping away the current topic of conversation for a new one entirely.  "What's on the agenda for today?"

"I guess I'll make a few phone calls while you take Daddy to the doctor," Valerie said slowly, her face taking on a scowl of concentration.  "I just want to make sure that everything's arranged so there'll be no bad surprises later on . . . Then Evan and I have that counseling appointment this afternoon, and I made arrangements for you to take Daddy up to have his tux fitted again, just in case, and then I wondered if you'd like to meet me, and we'll go to Linden's together?"

Rhonda nodded slowly.  Though Jack didn't seem to be getting worse physically, he had lost a bit of weight since coming to Maine and having his tux fitted then.  Valerie didn't think that it would need to have too many alterations done now, but she wanted to be sure.  As for Linden's, well, they were the company that Valerie had hired to take care of the food for the reception.  "The caterer?" Rhonda asked, opting not to comment on the tux fitting.

"They called and said that they had a few new recipes they wanted me to try in case I want to adjust anything on the menu.  If Daddy's feeling up to it, he can go out to the lighthouse with Evan and hang out with him while he gets a couple hours of work—and I use that term lightly—in today."

Rhonda nodded but leveled a no-nonsense look at Valerie.  "Is he actually going to get that thing done enough for the two of you to move in there after the wedding?" she asked in a tone that indicated that she truly believed that Evan had, in fact, bitten off more than he could chew.

Valerie heaved a quick sigh.  "That's what he says," she replied without stating her beliefs, one way or another.  "Evan said that Cain and Bas both promised to make sure that whatever Evan can't get done before the wedding gets done while we're on our honeymoon."

Rhonda thoughtfully digested that for a long moment.  "Has he let you see it since he showed it to me?"

Valerie shot her mother a wan smile and shook her head.  "He says he wants it all to be a surprise," she admitted with a little shrug.  "I have to admit, I'm not entirely sure that even the great Zel Roka can work that kind of miracle, though . . ."

"Oh, ye of little faith!" Evan exclaimed in an arrogant tone as he swaggered out of the bathroom with a towel draped over his head and wearing nothing more than a tattered pair of faded and worn old blue jeans.  "You'll see—you'll both see!" he predicted happily, unwilling to let their skepticism affect his mood.

Valerie didn't argue with him, but she did sigh softly.  Neither she nor her mother had been allowed to go anywhere near the lighthouse since Evan had showed Rhonda the property just after they'd arrived.  Sure, that was a couple of months ago, but, given the condition of the house, she couldn't help but wonder if Evan's reassurances might be a little misplaced.

He wandered over and slipped an arm around Valerie's shoulders, giving her a quick squeeze accompanied by a kiss on the temple.  "I'd better get moving," he told her, letting his arm drop away with an overly dramatic sigh.  He nabbed a tee shirt off the dresser and paused long enough to plant a loud and somewhat obnoxious kiss on Rhonda's cheek as the latter giggled like a schoolgirl before continuing out of the room.

"Don't forget Reverend Jenkins this afternoon!" she hollered after him as he tugged a shirt over his head without stopping.

"If Cain or Bas call, tell 'em I'm on my way," he hollered back.

Valerie crossed her arms over her chest as she watched him go, a secretive little smile toying at the corners of her lips.

Rhonda chuckled as she glanced at her watch.  "All right, then," she decided as she shot Valerie another slightly apologetic smile.  "I'd better get going."  Suddenly, though, she sighed and slowly shook her head.  "I can't believe your wedding's so close," she said with a wistful sigh.  "It seems like just yesterday . . ."

Trailing off, she seemed almost as though she felt guilty for what she was about to say.  Maybe she thought that Valerie would hate to have the reminder yet again that her childhood had been less than perfect . . . or maybe she just didn't want the reminder herself.  Either way, Valerie smiled, even as she wished somewhere deep down that her mother's obvious reticence would dissipate.  It would eventually.  She supposed she simply had to be patient.

Besides, right now, she had a wedding to finish planning.


-Evan-


"There are going to be some tits, right?"

Bas deliberately ignored Evan's current line of questioning as he took his time, measuring the opening for the arch that would lead from the living room to the kitchen.

"Aww, c'mon!  You can give me a hint, right?" Evan persisted.

"Your life's been one big bachelor party," Cain remarked dryly, hunkering down to squint along the long board that he was sanding to use as a shelf under the gently-winding staircase.  "Don't you think that you've had enough of that already?"

Evan snorted loudly but couldn't help the smile on his face, either.  "Can't ever have too much of a good thing, Cain," he shot back.

"It wouldn't hurt to do a little looking as long as there's no touching involved," Jack mused rather philosophically, his voice muffled by the paper respirator mask that he had to wear in the lighthouse.  There was so much sawdust and stuff in the air that Evan had insisted.  Jack hadn't argued much, either, though he had grumbled that he'd be fine.  He'd also said it while pulling the mask over his head, anyway.

"Well, it'd be rude not to tuck a buck or two," Evan drawled, shooting his soon-to-be father-in-law a saucy grin.

Jack laughed.  "That goes without saying," he agreed.

Bas shook his head and muttered something under his breath that Evan couldn't quite catch since the contractor and his crew were currently on the next floor up, and making a hellacious amount of noise.  They were working on the subfloor up there.

"Just remember, Evan," Cain went on, reaching for another of the shelving planks, "there are going to be some people at your bachelor party who might be a little uncomfortable in that kind of place—your great-uncle Sesshoumaru, for one."

"And Jiijii," Evan added despite the grin that widened on his face at the very thought of his rough and tumble grandfather, InuYasha so much as walking into a strip club anywhere.  As adept as he was with a weapon in his hands, the same could not be said for his ability to deal with women other than ones that were directly related to him. If his foul mouth didn't offend someone, then Evan was quite sure that his tendency to come off as rude and abrasive would certainly do the trick.

Cain snorted.  "I'd rather forget that InuYasha's even here, thank you very much."

Evan chuckled.  It was no secret that there was very little love lost between Cain Zelig and his father-in-law, the angry hanyou.  That InuYasha was already in Maine and staying at the mansion was a sore spot for Cain, and considering he'd be in residence until after Gin gave birth, Evan figured that it was a part of the reason that Cain had been so easy to talk into helping with the lighthouse.  InuYasha had offered to help, but Evan had declined his offer since everyone knew, too, that InuYasha wasn't exactly known for his patience, and the last thing that Evan could afford, time-wise was a bunch of repairs on things that InuYasha got pissed off at and went after with his insanely huge sword, Tetsusaiga.  "I'll bet you would, Cain."

"Where do you want these?"

Evan glanced over as Garret shuffled in with a couple of two-by-fours resting on his right shoulder.  "Over there behind Cain," he instructed with a jerk of his head.

"The future rock star is doing manual labor," Jack said, a glint of amusement illuminating his gaze.

Garret laughed and dropped the boards on the small stack.  "No worse than working on the road crew," he replied with a good-natured grin.  "So what are we talking about?"

"Evan's trying to find out what Bas has planned for his bachelor party," Cain supplied absently.

Garret considered that for a moment then shrugged in a deliberate show of nonchalance.  "Well . . . I mean, it wouldn't be right to have a bachelor party without strippers."

Evan laughed.  "Yeah, see?  Even Garret knows!"

"If we did go to a strip club," Bas grumbled with a marked scowl, "you couldn't come along, anyway, considering you're underage."

"Ignore Bubby," Evan replied.  "He's always been a downer."

Bas snorted.  "I didn't have a bachelor party, and everything turned out just fine," he pointed out.

"That's because Sydnie would've scratched your eyes out," Evan shot back.

Bas didn't deny that, but he did slowly shake his head.  "Relax, Evan," he said as the barest hint of a smile quirked his lips.  "It's all under control."

Blinking in surprise, Evan thumped the screwdriver in his hand against his open palm.  "Oh, yeah?"

Nodding slowly, Bas shot Evan a no-nonsense look.  "Don't ask," he stated before Evan could try to wheedle details out of him.  "All you need to know is that everything's already set up."

Evan considered that for a moment then grinned as he turned back to his project.  It couldn't be that bad, he figured.  After all, Bas might well live a little further on the upstanding side than Evan, but he figured that it didn't really matter what Bubby had in mind, anyway.  Marrying Valerie was the goal.  The rest of it really was just icing on the cake.


-Valerie-


"I really like that dress."

Whirling around with an embarrassed flush blossoming under her skin, Kaci Lea hastily tossed the pale pink party frock onto the bed, hanger and all, before pinning Valerie with a guarded sort of look.  "I was just trying to decide what shoes would look best with it," she muttered, her cheeks pinking even more as her gaze skittered to the floor.

Valerie ignored her sister's obvious discomfort and stepped into the room.  "Those white slippers would look really great with it," she mused thoughtfully.  "Unless you want to go look for something else?  I've got time, if you'd like to go now."

She could almost hear the wheels turning in Kaci Lea's brain.  She seemed to like the idea of shopping for another pair of shoes, but she didn't look like she was sure she wanted to take Valerie up on her offer.  "I thought you had some kind of counseling thing to go to," she pointed out.

Valerie shrugged.  "We did that already.  In fact, I got all the things done I had on the schedule for today, so I'm free until the party."  It was just a dinner party, or so Valerie had been told, that Gin had planned so that the families could better get to know one another.  That it was being held at one of the most exclusive restaurants in Bevelle was irrelevant; almost an afterthought, really, though Evan had mentioned that the Zeligs had rented the entire establishment for the festivities.  He hadn't batted an eye when he'd dropped that little bomb on her a couple nights ago, and didn't that just figure since Valerie knew damn well that her entire family would have to run out and buy suitable clothing for the event, even if Evan did insist that no one would care.  Biting her lip, she turned to stare at Kaci Lea thoughtfully, her eyebrows drawing together as she took her time regarding her.  "Those shoes . . . are they in your closet?"

Kaci Lea nodded, and Valerie strode over to retrieve them.  Turning them from side to side, her thoughtful scowl deepened.  They were cute, absolutely, and yes, they would really be fine to wear this evening, but something told her that Kaci Lea didn't really agree.  The closed in, almost boxy toe of the simple slipper style brought to mind a strapless version of a little girl's Mary Janes, and maybe that was the reason that Kaci Lea was reluctant to wear them.  She'd bought them a few months ago during the shopping spree with Madison, but it didn't really matter when young girls' tastes often changed faster than anything else in the world, and what she might have liked a few months ago might not be the same thing she was looking for now.  But the last thing that Valerie wanted to do was to talk down to Kaci Lea or to come off as patronizing her in any way, so instead, she set them on the floor and gestured at them as she stood up again.  "Can you put those on?" she asked, nodding at the shoes for added emphasis.

Kaci Lea didn't look like she was entirely sure why Valerie would ask her to do that, but she did.

Valerie twirled her finger, indicating that Kaci Lea should do a turn, and after a moment, she did though the frown on her face didn't wane.  "Hold the dress up again please?"

Kaci Lea did as she was asked, floating the dress before her as she tilted her head to the side to stare at Valerie.

"You know, if you want to wear those, they're fine," Valerie began slowly, thoughtfully, "but really, if you want my opinion, I think heels would look even better."

As though she had been holding her breath, Kaci Lea's chin raised a notch as the tenseness in her shoulders seemed to release all at once.  Her eyes brightened in surprise, and she actually looked like she might smile.  "You . . . You think so?" she blurted almost breathlessly.

Valerie nodded.  "Come on.  There's this great little shoe store that Maddy introduced me to.  I'm sure that you'll find something absolutely perfect there."

Kaci Lea seemed pleased by this idea as she kicked off the slippers and hastily jammed her feet into a pair of sneakers, but she paused for a moment as a slight shadow passed over her features, and for a moment, Valerie had to wonder if Kaci Lea's stubborn streak had kicked in once again.  "You don't think Mama will say that I'm too young for heels, do you?" she asked reluctantly.

"I'm absolutely sure that she won't mind," Valerie reassured her with an encouraging smile.

Kaci Lea didn't look completely convinced.

Sensing her sister's reluctance, Valerie pulled out her cell phone and dialed Rhonda's number.  As far as Valerie knew, their mother was still helping Jack at his fitting.  She answered after the second ring.  "Hello?"

Switching her phone over to speaker, Valerie turned up the volume so that Kaci Lea would be able to hear easily enough.  "Hi, Mama?  I was going to take Kaci Lea to get a pair of sandals for tonight," she explained.  "You don't have a problem with her wearing heels, do you?"

Rhonda was silent for a moment.  "Heels?  That'd be okay, as long as they're not sleazy.  I know, you wouldn't let her get something like that."

Valerie laughed.  "No, nothing like that."

"That's fine," she said with a laugh.  "I'm glad the two of you are going to go do something together," she added.

"Me, too," Valerie ventured.  "I'll see you at the party."

"Okay," she allowed.  "We're almost finished here.  I hope there's enough time for your daddy to get a little rest in before then."

"All right.  It shouldn't take too long."

With that, the call ended, and Valerie turned to smile at Kaci Lea once more.  "You ready?"

Kaci Lea nodded and finally smiled, albeit a bit bashfully, but she grabbed her purse and followed Valerie out of the room.

She didn't say anything as the two of them got into the car to make the trip to town.  That was fine, as far as Valerie was concerned, pleased enough that Kaci Lea would allow her to accompany her anywhere.

She was coming around, little by little, and that was fine, too.  She might not single Valerie out for a sisterly discussion or a heart to heart talk, but at least she didn't immediately dismiss her, either, and that was progress.  Interesting, really, if Valerie stopped to consider it.  Kaci Lea reminded Valerie of herself at that age in so many ways.  Kaci Lea tended to silently analyze things, seemed to keep a little distance as she cautiously tested the waters, so to speak, and Valerie couldn't really find fault with that, either, given that she tended to do the same thing, and even if Valerie wished that Kaci Lea would open up to her sooner rather than later, she couldn't deny that the progress she felt they were making was definitely worth it.

Besides, Kaci Lea had agreed to be Valerie's bridesmaid, which was no small feat, as far as Valerie was concerned.  She'd been a little reluctant, but in the end, she'd agreed.

Evan swore up and down that he hadn't interfered at all during their trip to New York City, too.  Valerie had made him promise not to say anything about it, not to put any pressure on Kaci Lea, and he'd reluctantly agreed.  No, she wanted Kaci Lea to come around on her own terms, and the last thing that Valerie wanted was for her to feel like she was pressured into accepting Valerie.  Maybe they'd never be as close as Valerie might have liked, but anything was better than nothing, and she could be patient, even if she didn't particularly like having to be so.

But from everything the kids and Evan had said when they'd gotten home from their trip, they'd done nothing but fun stuff the whole time, including Evan arranging a special tour for Kaci Lea at the American Museum of Natural History as well as Museum of Modern Art.  While Garret had gone to do a photo shoot for promotional purposes, Evan had taken Kaci Lea to see Chicago on Broadway.  All of that on top of getting to attend her first ever rock concert, and not just any concert, either, but a Zel Roka show?  Valerie smiled to herself.  It was no wonder that the teen honestly believed that Evan could walk on water.

They pulled into the parking lot at the understated shopping center, and Valerie shot Kaci Lea a grin before stepping out of the car.  To her surprise, the girl actually smiled back just a little.


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'The Great Song of Indifference' by Bob Geldof originally appeared on the 1990 release, The Vegetarians of Love.  Copyrighted to Bob Geldof.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
A little progress is better than none at all.
==========
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 217
Chapter 219
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