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(part I is here: ( fuguestate.deviantart.com/art/… )

II.

Evey whirled around at the sound of V's voice.

He was blinking slowly, staring up at the ceiling.  She experienced a moment's disorientation upon seeing him, having irrationally expected the masked man in black to go with the voice and instead seeing the damaged stranger she'd been tending.  Then he sighed, and the small sound re-established his identity for her, pulling her toward him.

"V?"  She stopped just short of touching him, uncertain of the new boundaries his wakefulness might cause. His eyes - so unfamiliar, and yet exactly as she'd imagined - drifted toward her.  

"Evey."  She watched in fascination as she actually saw him smile for the first time - a peaceful, happy shadow of the Fawkesian grin she'd known.  "There you are.  I found you..."  His hand reached up to touch her.

But upon seeing his own bared arm as it rose into view before Evey, he froze.  The smile that had just begun to receive an answering one from her was wiped away by shock, and he stiffened.

He was--

They had--

Evey's heart sank.  She'd been dreading this, even as she'd prayed for this moment.  "I'm sorry,"  Evey's hand moved to hover near his.  "We had to get to your wounds, V.  There was no other way."  Her eyes looked apology at him, but not shame.  Not regret.  Nothing would have kept her from helping him.

V's eyes bored into hers with a briefly frightening intensity.  She met them without flinching.  Then, just as suddenly, his face closed off, losing all animation.  "Yes," he sighed at last in defeat.  "Yes... you're right, of course."  He let his hand fall heavily back to the coverlet.  When his eyes re-opened they were dulled and he would not look at her.  The stranger had returned.

He didn't see her expression crumple, or the sudden shimmer of tears that threatened to overflow.  He didn't see her mouth stammer, trying to form words in the wake of this rejection.

"I--"  She cast about for something to say, or do - anything that would keep her held together for just a few more seconds while the floor dropped out from under her.  She had initially thought of offering him water, but as her eyes flickered to the nightstand--  "I forgot to bring the pitcher back in."  She stood, scraping the chair back gracelessly and nearly upending it.  "I'll go fetch it for you..."  Her voice wavered into silence, and she blindly left the room.

* * * * *

Eric had remained silent during the exchange.  He felt guilty for witnessing it, but couldn't help the surge of anger he felt at V.  Evey had done everything - everything - for V's sake.  She'd been running on hope and adrenalin for the past week, living for the moment when V would awaken... and been met with this.  It was the first time, through everything that had happened, that Finch actually saw her falter.

He watched as V raised a hand to his head and sighed, beginning to sit up.  He wasn't sure if he'd even been noticed where he sat near the foot of the bed, and debated the wisdom of attracting attention to himself now.  Then he thought of Evey, stumbling out of the room in despair, and the choice was clear.

The chair creaked as he rose, and for a brief moment he met the eyes of the man behind the mask for the first time.  The two regarded one another in wary silence, and then Eric went to follow Evey.


* * * * *

Slowly, V worked his way to an upright position in the bed.  Torn muscle tissue and bone-deep bruising shrieked in protest with every shift of his weight, and the weakness in his limbs told him his body had been without nourishment for some time.  Looking down at himself, he saw wide swaths of bandages and medical tape.  An inspection beneath a section of gauze revealed an amateur yet competent stitching job, the flesh it held healing well.  

There was too much light in here... He could feel his skin crawling with the awareness of being uncovered... of being seen.  His eyes cast about the room in an instinctive search... yes - there.   A set of his clothing lay nearby, with a mask lying atop them.  Even a wig-stand had been brought in with a carefully-combed wig perched upon it, and his boots stood sentinel on the floor below.

He wanted them.

But even as his psyche yearned toward the trappings that had sheltered and defined him for so long, he knew the futility of it.  He was in no condition to tolerate the restrictive clothing and besides,  he could not undo what had been done.  As much as he appreciated the gesture that had obviously been made, it was truly no more than that.

He had only himself to blame, of course.  He created the situation when he chose to live beyond his purpose.  He'd countered his own mandate of twenty years, and Evey had simply held true to her word.  He had made a deal - and this was the consequence.

His head tipped wearily back to the headboard.  He could hear Evey and Finch's muffled voices in the distance, but couldn't summon the energy to try listening.   For the first time, he had no idea what he was going to do next.   The thought was a curiously liberating one, and for a moment he allowed himself to indulge in the new sensation.

As his eyes aimlessly wandered, he began to take in the details of his surroundings.  That he'd been brought into Evey's room could simply have been due to its relative proximity, but he wasn't certain.  Adaptations had been made to make the space a base camp of sorts, he could see. Another chair had been brought in.  A police scanner and laptop sat next to a security monitor in a nest of cable on the dresser.   Boxes of gauze and disinfectant lay close at hand near a small stack of well-bookmarked medical texts.    

Next to the bed on the floor he saw a pillow and rolled-up quilt.   One of Evey's shirts lay folded next to them - indication of the bedroll's occupant, and a small testament to her devotion.  A pang went through him.  She'd slept here while they tended him.  She'd brought everything she could into this room so she wouldn't have to leave it - leave him.  No wonder he had so many memories of her voice in the darkness.

He had made his choice on the Underground platform suddenly, without reflection - the first such choice he could recall ever making.  Until that one moment, looking into her eyes and hearing her galvanizing words, he had always anticipated - even embraced - his coming end.  It was fitting; it was just.  There was sorrow in it, certainly... but it was what he had earned, and all he could rightfully ask for.

Evey had changed all of that.   If he were truthful with himself, she had begun to change it from the moment they met.  She was of the world he was working to change, both its victim and its hope.  She became its face, reminding him of the very real consequences of his vendetta.  He couldn't help but fall hopelessly in love with her, even as he knew the impossibility of it.

But she had made it possible...

He couldn't deny the - he would say it - rage he felt at being laid so bare like this, and yet... her expression had been no different than before when she looked at him.  The reflection of himself in her eyes remained the same; to tell the truth, he hadn't even realized what had happened until he actually saw himself.

His vendetta was completed, his purpose fulfilled.  He'd been meant to die but had not, and now had to rebuild himself yet again. That was the choice he had made.  

The question now was, could he live with it?


* * * * *


"I owe her an apology."

This was the greeting Finch got when he re-entered the room with a tray from the kitchen.

V was propped up in the bed, his hands in his lap, head bowed.  He looked up briefly at Finch's approach, then returned to his meditative pose.

Carefully Finch set the tray down on the nightstand.  Despite the presence of any number of military-grade nutritional supplements among the Gallery's supplies, Evey had insisted on making beef tea for when V awoke.   That and a pitcher of water were the offerings that Finch brought.

Finch glanced up from where he was pouring a small glass of water.  He considered V briefly.  "Yes," he dared.  "You do."

V's smile was rueful as he accepted the glass.  "Bravo, Mr. Finch.  You're coming into your own at last."

Finch took that as an invitation to stay.  He brought the chair Evey had vacated near the bed once more and settled into it, watching his "patient".  

V simply looked into his glass for a time, studying the reflections within it.

"You really didn't plan for this, did you?"   The question, dropped gently into the silence, snapped V's head around to face Eric.   The question held no malice, though, and  V's gaze dropped once again.

"No."

The two men sat for a while in pensive stillness.

At last V took a breath and looked up at the monitoring equipment flickering in the background.  "What... day is it?"  He frowned with some consternation that his normal sense of the passage of time was drawing a blank.

"It's November the twelfth."

V blinked, startled.  "So long--?"  A whole week had passed?  The thought was shocking, to have been removed from events for such an extended period of time.  For a man accustomed as he was to steering events, it was unthinkable.

Finch gently retrieved the water glass, which had nearly slipped from V's hand.  "Creedy and Sutler were found the morning of the fifth.  The city nearly collapsed into rioting that day.  Ev-- Miss Hammond went up there dressed as you that night, to try to stop it."

"So that wasn't a dream."

Finch paused, impressed that V retained that memory.  "No.  And it actually worked, more or less.  I've heard that some of the outlying areas are still in trouble, but it could have been a lot worse."  

V studied his surroundings anew, his gaze alighting once more on the place where Evey had slept.  An unfamiliar guilt washed over him as he considered her ordeal to keep her promise to him - all her promises.  He suddenly wanted to get up, go to her, now.  He could have done it; he even found himself tensing to rise from the bed.

Finch's arm suddenly hove into view - cautiously if nominally barring his way.  "Here - you've only just awakened, and you're off-balance.  Let me bring her to you if she wants to talk."

V's jaw actually dropped as he heard Finch answer his thoughts.

The former inspector looked somewhat apologetic.  "You don't have the mask being your poker face right now - It was easy enough seeing what you were thinking before you made to go tearing off."  He shrugged.  "Sorry."

V fought the resurgence of the sense of wrongness his lack of covering was causing, admitting to himself that Finch was right.  Although he knew he could manage to reach Evey,  remaining upright and having a serious conversation with her in his current condition remained another matter altogether.

He had never thought to experience such helplessness ever again.

The sound of Finch clearing his throat softly brought him out of his spiraling thoughts.   "You should try to eat, and get some rest.  I told her the same thing," he added when he saw V begin to argue.   "The bandages should be all right for a while yet - we only changed them a bit ago."  Slowly he rose.  "She does want to see you, don't worry.  You both just need a bit of time first."  He turned to go.

"Mr. Finch--"

Finch turned back to look at him from the doorway.  

"...Thank you."


* * * * *


He was asleep.  This time, his unconsciousness was simple rest, and Evey could take comfort in it.

She had awakened several minutes ago, and was now paused a small distance from the bedroom door.  She was anxious to talk to him in spite of her desire to make sure he regained his strength.  In retrospect, she understood his reaction to his state and could forgive him.  They were both in new territory now, and would have to find their footing with each other all over again.
  
The door was slightly ajar, but there was no light on.   Torn between her desires and her concern for him, she wavered.  She was just debating returning to the main room when his calm voice greeted her from within.

"Hello, Evey.  You may come in, if you wish."

Caught, she finally moved forward, feeling the tiniest flicker of relieved amusement at this reminder of his occasionally-superhuman capacities.

She moved quietly into the darkened room, making out the darker shape of his outline where he sat up once more in the bed.  She gave in to the urge to be near him again and sat on its edge.  He stirred slightly, giving her room but not (she hoped) moving away from her.

"Shall I turn the light on?" she offered.

"Do you want to?"

She let out a soft frustrated laugh in the darkness.  "We've been doing what I want for a week now.  What do you want?"

"...I would like the light off, please."

The quiet request hung in the dimness between them.  She took a moment to acknowledge the slight sting, and put it away again.  

"How are you feeling?"  Her hand briefly stirred as though to touch him, but she stilled it.

V reflected on the question, and all the possible answers he could give.  He was in pain, and stiff, and weak from his injuries and inaction.   He was tired.  Vulnerable.  Uncertain.    He felt adrift, and alone - and yet...

Evey's softly humorous voice interrupted his musings.  "I asked a complicated question, didn't I?"

A surprising burn of emotion surged into his throat at her insight, and the short huff of laughter that came forth was edged with hysteria.  "I'm afraid so."

Evey heard the waver in his voice and ached for him.

"V, I--"

"--Evey--"  

They both stopped.  His deep breath calmed them both and then - amazingly - she felt his hand touch hers in the darkness.  

He began again.  "Forgive me.  I--"  He sighed, shaking his head to himself.  "Mr. Finch was right.  I didn't plan for this."  There was a pause.  "I'm sorry, Evey.  I've been... coming to terms with my choices."

His words sent a twist of dread through her insides.  "Do you--"  She had to stop to regain control of her voice.  "Do you regret them?"  She promised, her mind chanted.  She promised him she would honor his wishes...

His hand, still touching hers, slid farther to enclose her fingers in his.  "No.  No, Evey.  I meant what I said to you at the train."  

She didn't realize just how much tension she'd been holding back until his answer tore a brief sob of relief from her.  She found herself blessing the darkness that protected them both.  

He saw the silhouette of her body bow forward as she fought not to weep.  Her fingers clenched to hold his, and her every gasp was threatening to tear an answering one from him.  Before he was even aware of his actions, he released her fingers and reached out, his hands finding her shoulders and pulling her toward him.  Only when her slight weight sent a combined burst of agony and the most sublime comfort through him did he realize what he'd done.

Better.  

Yes.  This was better.

He heard the hitch in her breath and felt her try to ease her weight away from his injuries.  His arms held her in place though, gently inexorable.   As much as it hurt, this was what he wanted - needed - right now.

She understood, and gingerly wrapped her arms around him.  Despite the unfamiliar textures of bandages and damaged skin, despite the knowledge that she was causing him pain, her body was singing an affirmative.  Her arms knew this distance around him; her back knew the placement of his hands; the crown of her head knew the gentle pressure of his cheek - soft this time, not the inflexible mask - resting upon it.  This was V, here with her at last.  She shuddered, and finally let the tears come.

How long they stayed like that, V didn't know.  His world had been reduced to this one spot in the darkness - her weight upon him... her hands behind him... the sound of her shuddering breath, and the coolness of her tears on his skin...  His hand found her shorn hair and stroked it softly, absently, the texture becoming a tactile mantra for him to anchor himself.  

Nothing else mattered.


~ Finis ~
A continuation of "Mending" (located here: [link] ).


My apologies if the ending seems abrupt - That's where the two of them wanted to leave it, and there's no arguing with them...


Disclaimer: Neither this universe nor its occupants belong to me.
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:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oooh, The Angst! Loved all the tiny details in V's reaction to his state of undress... especially how he noticed later that he wasn't able to tell he was unmasked based on Evey's behavior alone...

And, he was out cold for almost a week? Wow. I have to confess I have a hard time trying to imagine away all the less elegant things that had to be taken care of during these days *sheepish grin* A stupid pet peeve of mine, I admit... But then, maybe V is so superhuman that he can go without peeing for a week if the circumsances dictate so :meditation:
Also, with all that blood loss and infection he would really need an IV or five.
Ok, I shut up already :blush:
I am enjoying the story A LOT, you know. Even if I sometimes tend to ramble about pee and stuffz.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yyyyeeeeeaaaahhh, I pretty much did a great big Hand-Wave with all the medical details, I know. :blushes: Let's just say it was possible because of all the changes wrought by Larkhill's tests (like being able to survive all that torture, and taking a walk through a fire, and survive being riddled with bullets) plus all the study and training he no doubt did to make himself fit to carry out his revenge... I'm sure he could control his breathing, and pulse, and hunger (he couldn't have had much of an appetite leading up to his "final" night, I wouldn't think), and being able to function without sleep, or water, or... yeah. That's how he did it. Definitely. ;) :XD:
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:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That makes sense... totally XD
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:iconpiratephantom:
PiratePhantom Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Student Writer
Awww... poor V. Not that there's much of a similarity, but I usually feel naked without my glasses, although not to the same extent. Its almost scary when the things you're hiding behind are taken away and you're forced to face the world without them.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, exactly - much more so for him, I think.
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:iconlet-there-be-ink:
let-there-be-ink Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008
AW! I loved it! Yet another beautiful peice. Please keep it up!
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :)
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:iconlet-there-be-ink:
let-there-be-ink Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008
You are very welcome! I absolutley adored it!
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:iconprincess88alasse:
princess88alasse Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
:aww:
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:iconbrookeechan:
brookeechan Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
dude i love the whole if he lived through the whole thing bit...i love V so much i cried so hard when he died!!
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you like! :) I know that symbolically he had to die for the story to work, but I love the character too much to not want to fix things!
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:iconbrookeechan:
brookeechan Featured By Owner May 5, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
exactly i love v so much he is so charming and his voice makes him sound handsome...geez i could just melt!!
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:iconsnurtz:
snurtz Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Student Writer
That. Was. Amazing.

You certainly have a way with words! :)

The idea of V as a vulnerable character is so interesting, and you did such a great job with it. I would think it would be much more disconcerting for V not to know exactly what he was going to do next, but even so, the way you took that works very nicely as well.

Kudos :thumbsup:
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :) And yes, I suspect he'd run into more than one moment of difficulty "post-5th". He's not exactly a "sit-back-and-let-things-happen" sort of fella!
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:iconhonour-huston:
honour-huston Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008
Completely totally freakin awesome! I saw this whole thing in my head as it played out. Totally believable as possible cannon (I wish!)
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so glad - thanks! ^_^
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