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(Conclusion of "Turning Point")

The chimes of Big Ben sounded faintly from above, causing the Inspector to flinch slightly.  The odd shapes his life had taken on since he'd found these two had served to insulate him temporarily from events above, but this sound brought that world snapping back into focus all of a sudden.

He's still got sixteen hours. The words from a year and a lifetime ago came back to haunt him.  Now time was up.

He looked up and saw Miss Hammond's eyes flash for a moment at the sounding of midnight.

"It's time."  Quickly she rose and moved to the explosives-laden train.

"Wait!"  The word escaped Finch automatically and he reached out.

The young woman turned calmly.  "Are you going to stop me, Inspector?"

Everything was happening too fast, suddenly.  "—Just… tell me why."

"Because he was right."

"About what?"

"The world needs more than just a building right now.  It needs hope.  We need hope."


Hope.


This was the feeling he'd been experiencing, he finally realized -  the thought that there could be something better; the determination that kept him trying to save a man who by all rights should be dead; the buzzing energy within that had him feeling more alive than he had in too many years to count… it was hope.  He'd always thought of hope as something tiny, weightless; something that was routinely crushed underfoot without so much as a whimper.  But he'd been wrong.

What he was feeling now… it towered.  He could feel it pushing him past his own fears and fatigue - he could run for miles, right now, if asked.   He could see it fairly blazing in the eyes of the woman before him, lending her an aura of strength that transcended the underfed frailty of her bird-like frame.  He recognized it in the actions of Codename V, who had achieved the impossible several times over and might do so again even now.  

Yes – the people did need hope, if this was its power.

No wonder Sutler had worked so hard, and for so long, to crush it.

The inspector let his hand fall back to his side and watched as Miss Hammond entered the train with its sea of flowers and explosives.   She looked over to V for a moment and smiled, looking almost angelic, then smoothly pulled the lever to set the train in motion.  Stepping quickly away as the doors closed, she rejoined Finch to watch it rumble away.  Her head tilted slightly, and she gave him an inscrutable look.

"Do you like music, Inspector?"

. . .


They reached the rooftop in a blur of shadowed passages and secret doors, ultimately supporting V between them so that he might meet the night on his feet.   He was not at all diminished by the second cloak wrapped hastily around his tattered frame, or by the tremor in his posture as he fought to remain standing under his own power.  Somehow, even now, he retained the strength of presence that Finch had sensed from the first grainy images he'd seen from the security cameras.

Turning briefly from his wary observation of the figure he supported, Finch looked out over the city below them.  As he automatically pinpointed their location from the surrounding landmarks, it occurred to him once more just how much he was being trusted.  He still didn't know why, not really.  A thousand questions still clamored to be asked, multiplying with each new riddle presented to him… and every damned thing was a riddle with these two.  He'd been led here, he knew, to this point on the rooftop and in his very life.  Somehow he'd been picked out – which meant, presumably, that he'd been watched by this man as well as his own government.  He felt very much the pawn in this huge, violent game, and didn't like the feeling any more now than he had when he'd learned the truth about "Rookwood".  Even so, he still found himself preferring V's machinations to those of Norsefire.  At least his interactions with the vigilante, no matter how unpleasant, led to truths instead of obfuscations and threats.    Or perhaps his judgement had finally given way under the pressures of his work, and he had let himself fall under the spell of a madman; without a doubt, Finch's world was now stranger than any storybook, with the Cheshire-cat grin on that blasted mask leading the way.

As if to underscore his musings, a fanfare of trumpets slowly blossomed in the air around them, coalescing into a melody that was all-too-familiar.  

"That music…"  The music that had begun everything for him; the composition commemorating a bygone conflict, shouting victory against a hostile foe and urging all who listened into action.  He thought suddenly of the costume he'd received in the post, and the recent incidents involving Codename V look-alikes.  What was happening out there now?  Were hundreds - thousands? - of would-be Vs trying to march on Parliament?  They'd be slaughtered…  What about Dominic, where was he now?  And oh, God, the explosives... the train had been full of explosives, how much had there been, what was he thinking--!

As the music swelled, he had just enough time for a wave of fear and dizzying anticipation to hit him.  Dear God, what had he done?

Through the sudden ringing in his ears he could just make out a whispered affirmation, perfect in its serenity:

"Yes.  His music."

And then there was light.

A dim glow in the distance at first, followed seconds afterward by a rumbling cannonade that shook them even at this distance.  As the bombastic melody shouted its joy far and wide, fireworks lit the sky with roaring multicolored explosions and a series of flares once again etched the sigil "V" into the night.  

It was done.  Sutler had failed.  For better or worse, in this moment at least, V had emerged victorious.

God help us all if I was wrong, the thought skittered through Finch's mind.

At his side, the masked man stirred.  The inspector and Miss Hammond adjusted their grip to accommodate him as he took a heavy step forward.

"'O…Beauty,'" he sighed, yearning toward what would have been his funeral pyre.  "'Til now…I never knew thee…'"1

For one impossible moment, as Finch watched, he appeared as himself once more, standing tall and still while the music soared and the distant fires painted life-like colors onto the ever-smiling mask.   Then the light and sound faded, and the illusion followed suit.   

Sagging slightly, V turned away from the inspector to face Miss Hammond.   "Thank you, sweet Eve."  His gauntleted hand cupped her face with the utmost gentleness, and he slowly bowed his head to hers.  Releasing her, he turned haltingly to face the inspector.  "And you, Inspector," he nodded gravely.  "Good luck… t'you….both..."

Just in time, Eric Finch rushed forward to catch V as he toppled.


1 From Henry VIII, I.4; quoted by V in the GN.



- Continued in "Apotheosis" -
The end of the "bridge" between the initial so-called oneshot "Turning Point" and "Apotheosis".

It seems my writing is taking on a timeline - who knew? I haven't yet figured out a graceful way to present fics here, but I'm working on a website layout for the near future. :work:

- All stories housed in order at my website.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You and V gave me a scare here. That one time V toppled in canon didn't end well :(
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very true :( Still, I figured he couldn't get away with being on his feet unscathed after taking so much damage!
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:iconannadracula2010:
AnnaDracula2010 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2010   Writer
I love your work. Just thought I'd let you know.
Reply
:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw. Thanks. :blushes:
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