Author: Maddie Cristea aka KillerLaughs
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T
Published: 04-08-10, Finished: 07-25-14
In tenebris spes incensio (In darkness light shines)
“Well, here we are. Hope you guys like it.”, the blonde young man said to his friends.
“I don’t care how it looks, I just want something to eat … and fast.”, one of them replied, the others laughed.
“What do you think?”, the blonde man asked the woman standing next to him. She was Evey Hammond, the one that not so long ago was Codename V’s accomplice. Now she was Evelyn Blake just a normal woman enjoying her evening with her colleagues and friends. Or that what she wanted to be, in fact she was trying to get accustomed to her new life, the new job, the new England and most of all…the life without HIM. The blonde young man was Edward, her best friend. Neither he or anyone else knew who she was or what she has done, and thanks to Chief Inspector Finch it remained a secret: her past, her identity and her connection with V, the now national hero. And also the fact that she loved V, and despite the five months that passed since his death she was still crying herself to sleep in the dark confines of the Shadow Gallery, cursing herself for all the things she did and for all the things she didn’t do.
“It’s a very nice place, Edward.”, she smiled. They were close … but she did not let him get closer.
“Let’s find a table.”, he proposed.
They sat down at one of the free tables and started talking about nonsense while waiting for their supper. But Evey was not there, at least her mind wasn’t. The new colleagues were nice, but she did not belong amongst them. She was different in so many ways. She was participating actively at England’s rebirth, helping Eric Finch and Dominic Stone at shaping Britain the way V wanted it to be. It was hard work, but things were going alright.
Unbeknownst to her, in the restaurant a man, that was about to change everything that was going on with her life, entered. He was tall and well built, dressed in a khaki trench coat with matching colour trousers and fedora. A cream-coloured scarf was hiding away his features along with black aviator sunglasses.
He sat down at the table next to the door, he removed his coat, then his hat and scarf, leaving only his sunglasses in place, took the menu and settled down to order something to eat. Evey felt herself pulled out of the reverie when one of her female co-workers exclaimed:
“Oh dear, look at that guy.”, the woman said and covered her mouth with her hand. All her co-workers turned their heads in the direction of the man she pointed, which was now talking to the waitress. “She probably knows him.”, she whispered again.
Evey’s eyes remained transfixed upon the man’s face and suddenly the need to cry swelled up inside her, but she contained it.
“Evey, are you alright?”, Edward asked, “You don’t look very well poppet.”
“Yes.”, she replied faintly. She wasn’t alright though…seeing that man’s face … it was like seeing him, finally seeing him … because he looked like she always thought he would, ever since she danced with him and she realized why he was hiding. But it did not matter now, because he was dead and she was starring at a stranger. Scars covered 80% of his face and head, he had no hair and his right ear was melted onto his head , while his left one was close to being intact but retained the same texture as the rest of his face. Raw red patches interlaced with an irregular pattern of white and transparent knots. The right side seemed to have been affected the most; his lower lip was ripped and melted in one. His nose was still in one piece at least. The scars looked superficial given the fact that his face was not completely melted or too disfigured, but they did seem untreated…and painful.
The scarred man left his table, most likely heading to the loo. The mumbling at Evey’s table began, everyone making mean comments and jokes.
“Just imagine kissing that guy. Eww…”, one of them laughed, unaware of the repercussion his words had on Evey. She suddenly sat up and hurried towards the ladies-room.
“What’s up with her?”
“I have no idea.”, Edward answered. Because he truly did not know … he did not know that Evey Hammond would have kissed those lips instead of a cold, inert mask. But you see, Madame Fate was about to play a prank on our poor heroine, so as she was running to hide herself, she made her crash into the very man that turned her day upside-down.
“Uff…”, the man grunted as a small woman banged against his torso. He caught her when the hit almost knocked her down her feet.
“Oh God, I’m so sor…”, she tried to excuse herself until she raised her gaze and saw the man she barged into. Her eyes widened, heart started racing and her breath accelerated.
“It’s ok.”, he replied. Her eyes were still stuck on him, he lowered his face and looked to his right as if trying to hide his face, because he knew pretty well that his right side was the most damaged and thus the most disturbing. He was used to people giving him odd looks, but those people were not as close as she was now. He tried to take one step backward but found himself unable to do so as the girl was still clutching at him, holding on to his waist. “I’m sure I’m the last man you wished to crush into.”, he let out a nervous laugh as he excused himself for his appearance.
Evey managed to get out of the state of shock she was in and realized that the man understood her reaction in a wrong way.
“No…it’s just that you…remind me of … someone very dear to me.”, she tried to clear the misunderstanding and smiled back at him.
“Oh … people are often … repelled by my appearance, that’s why I assumed…”
“It must be difficult…”, she stopped him.
“It is but not as much as I thought it will be. The waitress became very friendly after I gave her a fairly fat tip.”, he joked, making Evey laugh. “Now, that’s better. That smile suits you more than tears do.”
“You are very welcome.”
“Evey?…”, Edward called. “God you gave me a fright. Don’t just disappear like that again.”
The young woman turned towards her friend. “I’m old enough to take care of my own, Edward.”, she said with a serious tone then looked back to the scarred man, smiling.
“Thank you, you’ve certainly made my day sunnier. Good bye.”
He just nodded and smiled back at her. A tiny, crooked smile, but very sweet none the less.
Only after she left he could release the breath he was holding. She’d been so close to him, too close…and still, not close enough. This shouldn’t have happened, he wasn’t ready yet.
“Oh, Evey…”, he found himself whispering. It’s been 5 months since he seen her last on that train platform. When she told him she didn’t want him to die, and somehow … he complied.
But still this shouldn’t have happened. Meeting Evey was not part of the plan yet. His body was still recovering; some bullets were still inside his torso, one of them heavily infected. Fortunately his body was strong enough to resist it. But was his psychic strong enough to tell her the truth, and show himself to her?
His plan definitely had to change, in fact it already changed the moment she bumped right into him, and showed no sign of disgust or fear. No, never will she feel fear again, he took care of that.
He had to show himself to her much sooner than it was originally planed, but at least now he knew she won’t be driven away by his features. And what a delightful thought that was.
“No more tricks, no more lies. Only truth.”, he remembered saying. The only lie remaining was that of him being an idea, because it became a lie as she soon as she came into his life. Nothing made him feel so human before. For the first time in his known life he felt vulnerable, breakable. And now, after his vendetta was fulfilled, all that remained of him was … the man.
He hurried back to his table, her hands still burning on his chest and waist. When he passed by Evey’s table, he could see her staring at him. It really made him wonder if she was suspecting anything. V sat down and continued with his meal still feeling Evey’s eyes on him. Truth be told this was the first time he ate in her presence, and it made him rather nervous, his already reddish skin turning to a blood red tint. And it didn’t help him at all seeing that she actually noticed the sudden change of his skin colour, her face being covered with a meaningful grin.
‘Hold your horses, old man! You don’t want to ruin everything before it even starts.’, he thought, forcing another mouthful of his food down his throat.
Evey’s cell phone rang, announcing the new text message in her inbox. V noticed, he knew who it was of course, he knew everything his beloved did to make England the country he and so many others dreamt. By the looks of it, the man named Edward, which seemed to be very close to Evey, knew nothing about it, or about who she really was. It was a good thing, thus she will be able to have a new start and a beautiful life, in which he hoped to have at least a small place. He saw her leaving the table and heading to the exit. This was the perfect time for him to leave too, this way he could keep an eye on her until she was safe with Eric Finch, and then head home to get ready for whatever it was to come.
Evey was on her way to meet Eric and Dominic. They all decided that the best meeting place was the mausoleum raised for the Saint Mary’s victims. It was the perfect location since not many people visited this place, especially after dark. Evey felt someone following her but decided to let the man come closer and then make her move.
That was close enough; a dagger flew in the darkness embedding itself in the asphalt in front of the pursuer’s feet.
“Who are you and what do you want?”, Evey asked, being unable to see the man’s face in the dark.
“Oh my God, Evey, you almost killed me.”
“Edward? What in the world are you doing here?”, she asked, a tint of anger colouring her voice.
“I’ve seen the man from the restaurant following you, and I’ve followed him.”, he offered an explanation.
“Oh, really? And where is he now?”
“I … I don’t know. He was right in front of me before you threw … that.”, he said pointing at the knife that was still stuck in the concrete.
“And he just disappeared? Seriously Edward, you have to learn how to make better excuses.”
“Where are you going anyway? You’re always leaving like this, not telling me anything. I’m worried about you. I really care about you Evey, but you act like you don’t even notice. Or maybe you don’t care.”
Evey sighed. She couldn’t tell him the truth even though she felt terribly guilty for lying to him.
“I do care, just that I’m too busy with other things.”, this was the only explanation she could give him. “I have to go now, if you don’t mind. And please stop following me.”
“Ok, I understand. Seems you have someone else, I would’ve liked you to tell me at least.”, Edward whispered disappointed.
“I’m sorry Ed, there are many things you don’t know about me. So many things that you may never find out. Good bye.”, she said taking the knife and left.
Up on a building, a shadow moved. He almost got caught, this never happened before. Luckily his body, though wounded, cooperated this time helping him get out of sight before it was too late. She was fantastic, it was him that she felt following her, he knew that very well, and it made him so proud. She did not need him anymore; she was indeed able to take care of herself.
Well, that was it. He will leave her take care of his legacy; she was strong enough to do it. As for him, it was time to head HOME.
When Evey entered the tunnel that led to the Shadow Gallery the sun was already at dawn. She felt so tired she could sleep a week, her past few days and nights were horrendous. Taking down Norsefire was much more difficult than she expected, especially now that V was dead, and Evey Hammond disappeared. People were being fooled again by former Norsefire party members, now assembled under a different name. She had to quit her identity as Evelyn Blake and speak to the people as Evey Hammond. It was the last resort but she had no other choice, she couldn’t leave everything that V worked for just go to waste. And she did not mind being Evey Hammond again since this new life was not for her anyway.
She pushed open the large wooden door that guarded the entrance to the Gallery, and noticed that the light was on, though she remembered very well dimming it before leaving. A knife appeared in her hand, ready for what was to come. She got closer to the piano room when she saw him: a man was in the Shadow Gallery!
The man was standing with his back at her, his hand propped on the Wurlitzer, so she couldn’t see his face. She took a deep breath, trying to calm down bit. He turned his head for a split second, making Evey’s heart skip a beat, because he made her feel as if he acknowledged her presence and because she saw that face before. Inside her something unknown started to swell. The man in her house was none other than the scarred man in the restaurant. But before the wheels in her head began spinning her eyes caught up on a little detail.
His gloved hand slipped over the Wurlitzer’s buttons with such emotion, just as he would caress an old lover. Then his finger elegantly stopped over one of them and pressed it. The sad piano flooded the room followed by a metallic “clang!” when the man turned to face her and he placed his hands in front of him.
“Oh my god!”, Evey whispered, tears written all over her words. Her hands covered her mouth as she got closer to the piano room.
“I’ve missed this place.”, the man uttered in deep, powerful voice. A voice she knew so well, a voice that until now was hindered by a grinning enamel mask.
“V?”, Evey asked, although she knew it was him. Somehow she always did, but her mind did not want to believe it. Suddenly her legs began to shake and she felt like her body wanted to crumble on the floor. ‘He’s alive!’ was repeatedly played in her mind. She didn’t know if she should be happy, or scared or even angry, the simple idea of him standing right in front of her was just too much for her to take. Her heart pounded, her mind span and her body was losing its stability. An impossible amount of images were crowding her mind: – blood was dripping off her hands and a limp body was resting atop her knees … black and red … a burnt man eating his supper – her heart was now banging in her ears – the same man catching her when she bumped into him … ‘I feel in love with you Evey, like I no longer believed I could.’(1) – she felt her lungs constrict and refuse air – the man in the restaurant was in the Shadow Gallery. ‘Oh my god, he’s alive!’. Two water crystals fell on her cheeks before her eyes lost their ability to see and her brain lost consciousness, just before she heard a faint, distant “Evey!”.
V caught the unconscious Evey Hammond before her body fell limp to the ground. He half expected her to faint; it was a normal reaction when one considered deceased comes back from the dead and walks around as if nothing had happened. He carefully lifted her off the cold floor and carried her to the room he assigned as hers.
A dim light slowly made way between her eyelids, as her unconsciousness was wearing off. She instantly sat up when she remembered the reason why she fainted only to see “him” standing right in front of her.
V was seated on the same chair he stood on the night she came back to him, 4th of November, the eve of his death, his elbows propped on his knees and his hands holding the Guy Fawkes mask. He was staring at it as if at an old friend and an old foe as well. It was a hard decision to make, giving up this old mask, but it was one he had to make.
“V?”, Evey asked, slowly advancing towards him. He did not look at her, just sighed.
“Evey.”, he confirmed, but before he could say something else, she was in his arms, holding him as if there was no tomorrow. His hands gently squeezed her forearms. It felt so good, her arms around his waist, her tears soaking his shirt, the timid tremor of her body against his. A sigh of happiness left his lips while he caressed her still short hair. She raised her head to look at him, only to meet her reflection in his sunglasses. Her hands reached for them:
“May I?”, she asked shyly.
He tilted his head and answered:
“Only if you wish. But I assure you there is nothing to see.”. Evey nodded and took his sunglasses off, but it was indeed as he said; there was nothing to see. There were no eyes. Two pitch black coals were in their stead, only one still retaining a small emerald, the remnant of what once was a hazel eye. She discarded the sunglasses on the bed, her hands carefully finding their way to V’s face. Her fingers were crossed by a light tremble when they touched the scorched skin. Tears eased over her flushed face, the man she loved and for which she mourned was now given back to her.
“V…you’re alive.”, she whispered. “How?”
“I ask myself the same question…sometimes. Although I do not know the way I survived, I really thought that was the end of me.”
“You were dead when I put you in that bloody train. How come you are here? … Am I going mad, V?”, she asked as if he was just a figment of her hopeful imagination.
“No, you are not. I woke up after you pulled the lever. At first I didn’t know what was happening, until I saw the roses.”
The sound of the moving train was what really brought him back to reality. It was hitting his eardrums with the same rhythm as a clock’s pendulum, louder and louder, preventing him to succumb to the darkness that called him. He opened his eyes, but he could not see anything for a few seconds. ‘I don’t want you to die.’, he remembered as the image of the train began to clear up in front of him. The sweet smell of roses flooded his nostrils, and he knew what was happening … this was his funeral, he was supposed to be dead, but somehow life still boiled in his veins. He rose to his feet, pain blurring his already damaged vision, roses spread on the train’s floor. He had to get out. Boxes of fertiliser flew as he was running towards the back of the train; when he reached the last door he opened it and threw himself out, on the tracks. He laid there his body aching for minutes, or hours on end, time became abolished by V’s weakened mind. When his senses came back he realized that even though he was alive he still had to reach one of his hideouts to treat his wounds. The masked man dragged his injured body to the nearest wall, climbed back to his feet and used the wall as a support. A couple more steps and he would reach the station. A warm trail of scarlet remained behind him, he was bleeding again; he could only pray that his blood will regenerate as fast as other parts of his body.
“I managed to find my other hideout and take care of my wounds. It took time to heal…for 3 months I slept almost continuously. I’m still not completely healed, but there is no danger of losing my life. So…I’m alive, and I suppose I will be for some time from now.”, he finished.
“Thank God!” she whispered. “Will you come back to the Gallery?”, she finally found courage to ask him “… Will you come back to me?”
He sighed as he took her hand in his. “Evey, I will only be a burden to you. I will visit, and I will still be your friend.”
“That’s what you really want? Is that why you came back?”
Well that was a good question. He knew what she meant, but it was hard to answer. V knew that Evey remembered that night on the platform…the confession he made to her. Why was she asking him that? What was the purpose of her question?
“V?”, she interrupted his train of thought. “Why did you came back?”
The man exhaled, his heart pounded.
“I wasn’t dead, Evey, and I promised I won’t lie to you anymore.”
“Oh…”, she answered, “I thought you came back because you loved me.”
Evey knew that he loved her; she knew that deep inside his heart the wish of being loved back by her was burning him worse than the fire at Larkhill, she felt it in the way his chest drummed under her hand.
“Evey…”, he replied, “…why are you doing this to me?”
His mind and heart were exhausted; he didn’t know what to do, say, think.
“You have a wonderful life now; I wouldn’t dare interfere. … You have the life I always wanted you to have. I’m very proud of you, Evey.”
“Then I’m sorry to disappoint you V, but this life is going to be over tomorrow.”
“I beg you pardon?”, he asked shocked.
“Evelyn Blake is going to disappear, and Evey Hammond will come back.”
“But…why?”, he tried again. His mind could not comprehend why she would give up that almost perfect life, why she would endanger her life…
“People are confused, Codename V disappeared, so did Evey Hammond. They don’t know what or who to believe. V, I can’t let everything that you did for this country to go to waste.”
“How about you Evey? What will you do? What will happen to your friends, your job, your partner, your life?”, he sounded so worried for her, still his voice faltered at the word partner. He tried so hard to keep his emotions in check, but even so he could not stop that drop of hope from creeping inside his soul.
“That is not my life, V. It has never been. I feel like an outsider. I’m no longer like them, and you know that better than anyone. I don’t want that life, that job, those friends…and I do not want that partner.”, she took a deep breath and then continued, “I have something to ask you, but I want you to be honest, remember you promised: no more lies.”
‘Oh dear…’, he thought, ‘Old chap, what have you gotten yourself into?’ He will have to comply, he was a man of his word after all. He stared at her, waiting for the question to be asked, but the girl just stared back at him, he realized then that he wasn’t behind a mask anymore, now she could see his reactions, she could see that he was frightened. She gently took one of his hands in hers, then looked back into his burned eyes and asked:
“Did you meant what you said on the platform that night?”
“Every word.”, he answered, there was no point in lying, there was no point in hiding, he loved her and he will take responsibility for his feelings.
“Then I will ask you again, this time taking into account that you are alive, and that the life of Evelyn Blake is what you wanted for me if you would’ve died, then tell me, V … why did you came back?”
“On that same night, you said you did not want me to die. Somehow I complied, but I wanted you to know I’m alive and well. You are the one that kept me alive, and I returned because I hoped I could still be a part of your life; I cherish our friendship, the time we spent watching films, or cooking for you. I love you, Evey. I would me more than satisfied if you would allow me to come visit you from time to time.”
“Is that what you really want?”, she continued.
“No. It’s not.”, he whispered while his head dropped.
A light caress on his right cheek made his head spring up again, only to see Evey’s face so close to his that he could feel the heath of her breath on his lips.
“What are you doing, Evey?”, he asked, but her lips kept approaching. His heart menaced to break out of his chest. “I’m not going to turn into a prince.”
“I love you.”, she uttered against his mouth. When their mouths joined, V closed his eyes but did not move, so great was the shock. Why was she kissing him, how was she kissing a monster like him? The warmth of her mouth pressed on his was becoming more alluring with every second, a wave of desire washed over him, timidly he caught her lower lip, but this timidity slowly turned into passionate hunger. Their kiss lasted for minutes on end, air became unneeded, their desire was insatiable. And for that moment they were truly happy.
“Real happiness lasts no more than a moment. More would not be bearable for the human nature which, often, in a lifetime doesn’t even have the luck to meet this moment, or even to get close to it.”(2) V quoted. “I am a lucky man, Evey. Thank you.”
“Come back to the Gallery.”, Evey whispered, she was exhausted and light-headed by the lack of air.
“I will.”, he promised her.
One by one his clothes were packed neatly inside the suitcase. The cramped storage room was supposed to be his “other” hideout, it was crowded and only contained a bed and a small telly, wasn’t much but it served its purpose. As he finished packing a familiar voice made him turn his attention to the flickering screen of the telly only to see his old “face” smiling back at him.
“Good evening, London!”, a woman’s voice started just like he did 2 years ago, and he knew it before she took off the mask who it was behind it, and he a smile bloomed on his face. He did notice one thing that made him wonder, she had shaved her head again.
“So, this was the big secret, huh?”, Edward began as soon as Evey stepped inside the office. She did expect it though, she was prepared. “You are her, the terrorist’s accomplice. The man who blew up London’s most important symbol.”
“The man who saved this country.”, she corrected without even looking at him.
“And what are you going to do now? They’ll be after you. Hunting you like an animal.”
“I know. “, she answered plainly, while she settled down at her desk, still not looking at him.
“Who are you? Where is that sweet young woman I met not so long ago?”, only then she rose her head, and her dark gaze met his eyes.
“She died a year ago in a cold, dark cell.”, she paused for a moment, “I’m sorry Edward. I thought I could be what I used to … but … ”
Edward nodded. “I understand. And … I still want to be your friend.”
“Thank you.”, she smiled, knowing he didn’t understand, how could he?
Evey waited for him to leave but he seemed to be struggling with something in his head. After what seemed hours, he made up his mind and said:
“I would like to take you home after work.”
“I’m not going home. I have a few …”
“I want to talk to you.”, he cut her off.
“All right.”, she accepted.
Should he? Should he not? He was back at the Gallery, and he was staring at one of his old masks. He didn’t know if she would approve, what her reaction will be seeing his old self. But that was him … even for her, that mask has been him for the last 20 years. Why did he gave it up then? Because he thought it didn’t matter anymore, Codename V was dead and she knew … she knew he was a monster. If she would be terrified by how he looks so be it, he deserved it, for that was the face of the monster who dared to torture such an innocent being. But low and behold the surprises Madam Fate has bestowed upon him. But the question was still there: should he don the mask once again?
“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” Evey asked, after she had dragged Edward on a side street. She knew the media was watching her and she did not want to be seen with him.
“Look, Evey … truth is I like you very much. And now that I know who you are, I understand why you kept me away. I want you to know I will wait for you, for as long as it is necessary.”
“Edward, don’t. Find a girl, get married, have kids, be happy.”
“I was hoping that in time you could be that girl. And I will wait.”, he said, almost pleading.
A bitter smile appeared on Evey’s face. “Edward. Don’t do this to yourself.”
“At least give me a reason. Make me understand. If you have someone else please tell me, and I will leave you alone, pretend this never happened.”
Evey’s phone began buzzing, and she let out a frustrated sigh. She took it out of her pocket and wanted to answer but before she could do it, Edward grabbed the phone.
“Edward, it’s important! I have to answer that.”
“I don’t care. This is important too, for me at least. And I won’t give it back until you give me an answer.”, he was serious, and Evey had no idea how to avoid telling him about V. “Why don’t you give me a chance? I know I will never the guy that blew up the Parliament, but …”
“I blew up the Parliament.”, Evey cut him off. Edward just stared at her. He was shocked to say the least.
A voice broke the awkward silence, calling Evey’s name from the distance. Both their heads turned towards the origin of the sound. “Evey!”, the voice called again, and a man appeared from the darkness, and approached the two.
“Eric …”, Evey recognized the man. “I’m really sorry I didn’t answer. He took my phone.”, she apologized pointing towards Edward.
“You had me worried. It’s everything alright here?”
“Everything’s fine.”, Evey assured him.
“How did he find you?”, Eddie asked.
“I was nearby, and also … GPS.”, Eric answered wiggling his phone then pulling Evey to the side. “We found the train…but”, he hesitates for a second, “… we didn’t find him.” Eric looks at Evey searching for a reaction, and when none appeared on her face, his expression changed. “But you already know that, don’t you?”, and Evey nodded. “So…he’s alive.”
“Yes.”, the girl whispered.
“I want to talk to him.” Finch thought V could tell them what to do, if they did well until now. The country was still in chaos and they were pushing Dominic as a new leader, since Evey never wanted to take the role. It was really hard gaining people’s confidence. But finding out V was alive … it was like a breath of fresh air. He knew just how smart the man was, and he was absolutely sure he knew how to help them.
Edward approached the two, curious about what was happening. Evey hasn’t yet answered his question, and this man, Eric she called him, seemed to be pretty close to her, their relationship made him feel uneasy and a bit jealous. Evey was never like that around him.
“I know I’m interrupting, but Evey and I were having a conversation.” Edward started, “…which we haven’t finished. “, he added looking at Evey.
“You and miss Hammond have nothing to talk about.”, Eric responded while grabbing Evey’s cell-phone from the man’s hands. “She is going to resign. You will not see her again.”
“But …”, Edward tried to protest, but he was again cut off, but this time by another voice. “Well, well, well …. what do we have here?”, in the dark and crumped alley they were being surrounded by six ex-fingermen. Evey could recognize two of them, they were two of the fingermen that tried to rape her the night she met V for the first time. The pulse throbbed in her ears as she reached for her knives, Finch already had his gun pointed at the man that spoke.
The Fingerman grinned, they were armed too and our heroes were surrounded by guns from every direction. Evey was starting to doubt their chances to win this fight, she had her knives, Eric had a gun, but Edward was useless. Suddenly all lights went off. The dark alley was now pitch black, she could not see anything, she could only hear some rustling coming from their attackers which convinced her they weren’t the ones who did this. Finch began searching for his pocket flashlight, where the dickens did he put it. A guttural moan broke the silence, followed by a wet slicing sound, then another.
“What the bloody hell is going on?”, the fingerman that seemed to be in charge yelled. “Boys, get the g…”, but he did not manage to finish, his voice was replaced by a sticky gurgle. By the time Finch managed to reach his flashlight everything was silent, it all happened so fast no one realized what was going on. Five seconds later the lights were back on and Evey was gone, Finch and Edward were alone, surrounded only by a pool of blood and the lifeless carcases of the Fingermen. They stared at each other for a few seconds, trying to understand what just happened.
“Where’s Evey?”, Edward asked panicking.
The Chief Inspector smirked, he knew exactly where Evey was, and who has done this. The scene looked eerily familiar, and he knew only one person who could have done it.
“She’s safe.”, he simply stated.
The heavy door of the Shadow Gallery opened, Evey entered the room followed by V; he was wearing his old attire, mask and wig included. Evey went and sat on the chaise lounge, she was exhausted and a bit shaken by the earlier encounter. If it weren’t for V, they would all be dead, or at least seriously injured. After removing his cloak and hat, V sat next to her, his elbows on his knees, he turned his head to look at her, his mask still on.
“You’ve put yourself in great danger.”, his statement was more of an observation.
“I know.”, she answered not looking at him, her face serious. “I knew perfectly well what I was getting myself into, and that this will eventually happen, but I didn’t expect it so soon.”, she paused for a second to look at him. “Thank you. You saved my life … again.”, she smiled and placed a small hand on his thigh, he froze. After a few seconds he managed to regain his voice and whisper “I will never let anything bad happen to you.”, as he placed his gloved hand over hers.
“I will have to move to the Gallery, I don’t think my apartment is safe anymore. I will ask Eric to help me move be out. He’s been like a father to me since you … “, she paused. V nodded, he understood. “He wants to meet you.”
V stood silent for a while, thinking about the Inspector’s proposal.
“Then meet me he would.”, he finally agreed, if Evey trusted Finch, then so will he.
“I’m tired.”, Evey said before letting a yawn steal her words. V jumped to his feet, extending his right hand towards the girl in front of him. Evey grabbed it and sat up. “Then I shall escort this wonderful lady to her chambers.”
The girl couldn’t help but smile.
As they reached her room, she kicked her shoes off, and headed to the bed. V stood in the door frame, not daring to make a step forward, silently watching her.
“Will you stay with me?”, she asked as she sat down.
“I have some matters I must tend to.”, Evey raised her brow as he declined her offer.
“Alright.”, she nodded without asking any further questions, and got beneath the covers. “Good night, V.”
“Good night, Evey.”. V turned the light off and closed the door behind him as he exited the room. He stopped for a few seconds, his legs shaky. He would’ve loved to stay with her but he had to tend to his wounds. The recent encounter with the Fingermen did nothing but harm to his battered body. Every centimeter of him ached.
Next day, Evey left early, after she called Eric to ask him to help her move out of her apartment and as well to announce him that V agreed to speak to him. Finch was already waiting for her with a set of cardboard boxes, when she arrived.
As they were packing the last things from the kitchen, Evey heard the doorbell. “This must be V.”, she told Eric as she went to open the door. The man on the door knocked again he seemed rather anxious, an Evey began to think it wasn’t V who was knocking … and she was right, it was Edward. Evey groaned on the inside.
“May I come in?”, he asked.
“Sure.”, Evey answered trying to smile, letting Edward inside.
“How are you?”
Evey didn’t get to answer as another knock on the door caught her attention. “Come in!”, she called, and V entered the room, he was dressed in black this time, his face covered only by the aviator glasses and a black fedora. Eddie’s gaze remained transfixed upon the scarred face. Wasn’t this the man he saw Evey with at the restaurant a couple of days ago? But what was he doing here? And also … there was something about him, something that made him feel vulnerable, and it wasn’t just the man’s height, or his burnt face … it was something else, something that made Edward keep his comments to himself and just stare. V looked at Evey, then at Edward, then back at Evey.
“Good morning. Is the chief Inspector here?”, the scarred man asked, as if he didn’t acknowledged the other man’s presence and insistent stare.
“He’s in the kitchen.”, the girl replied, with a small voice, she just wanted Edward to get out of here, she was happy V was such a gentleman to not interrupt the conversation and go straight to Finch, but she didn’t like the situation at all.
V entered the kitchen, where Finch was emptying the cupboard.
“Good morning, Inspector.”
‘That voice’, Finch thought, without turning around. His heart began racing, not so long ago he was hunting this man, and now he finally had the chance to speak to him in person, and not under the disguise of Rockwood. He turned around to face the man that saved the country, but to his surprise he wasn’t greeted by the ever-grinning enamel mask, but by a pair of aviator glasses, and a mass of scarred and angry red skin. Finch was taken aback, he could not utter a word.
“I apologize if my appearance has put you off guard.”, V offered, his voice deep and guttural, a voice Finch would recognize anywhere.
“No, I just … didn’t expect … “, Eric tried to regain his composure.
“You expected a mask.”, V concluded.
“Yes. Yes I did.”
“Why did you want to see me, Inspector?”
“We need your help V. ”
“Why are you here Edward?”, Evey asked, waking Eddie out of his
“I wanted to see you for one last time. I still don’t get it, what happened to you, to everything … “, he was sad, but he knew he couldn’t do anything about it.
“V happened, Eddie.”
Then Edward was hit by a sudden realization, it came down on him like bucket of cold water. “You are in love with him…”, he whispered, almost inaudible. He understood now. There was no way he could compare himself with V. The young man looked at Evey. “I understand now.”, he spoke. “So …”, he looked around noticing her apartment, the furniture was all in place but all her personal belongings were gone, “…I guess this is goodbye.”
“I suppose…”, she agreed with a small, almost bitter smile.
“I’ll miss you, you know. Everybody will.”, he smiled bitterly too.
“Thank you, Eddie. You were a good friend.”
Edward then closed the gap between them and hugged Evey. Just then V entered the room with a book in his hand. “Evey, may I…”, he stopped as soon as he saw the scene in front of him, and he crumbled a bit inside. Evey’s head turned towards the scarred man and released herself from Edward’s embrace. V rapidly regained composure. “I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Evey was staring at him, she just didn’t know what to do; actually she didn’t know how to address him. Edward didn’t know who he was, and she didn’t want to expose his identity. Just as she opened her mouth to say something, V’s head snapped towards the other side of the room, where a small television stand was. He raised his gloved hands to his mouth and whispered. “Shhh!”
“What is it?”, Evey asked after a couple of seconds, not hearing a thing.
“Something’s ticking.”, V whispered again.
“Must be a clock, or something I forgot around.”, Evey tried to dismiss it, she didn’t know if V was trying to avoid what just happened or he was serious.
“That’s not a clock!”, V shouted, this time not trying to change his voice anymore, and strode towards the two, Evey and Edward could now hear a rapid beeping, V caught both and brought them to the ground just a fraction of a second before a blinding light filled the apartment. A loud bang made Evey’s ears hurt, realizing what just happened made her panic, V was shielding them from the explosion with his body, her heart began racing. Next to her, Edward was in a state of shock. He recognized that voice, and suddenly the images of the night before came back to him. ‘It’s him’, he thought, this man that just saved their lives, this man without a face … was V. And his thoughts were confirmed when the desperate voice of Evey Hammond began calling him.
“V! V, please answer me.”, the man on top of her was not moving and she couldn’t care less about his identity right now. “V, please…”, she pleaded. But at last she could hear him grunt and his lids fluttered open. He didn’t even answer, he bolted up, yanked the entrance door, or what was left of it, stormed through the small corridor and kicked the neighbour’s door off its hinges. Edward watched the whole scene as if it wasn’t real, the dark clad man’s movement was so full of grace he almost looked like he was dancing, and it contrasted so much with his unhuman strength.
Eric Finch came out of the kitchen, coughing. “What happened?”, and after a quick glance at the room he added, “Where is he?” As soon as he finished his question a man was thrown into the room, not long after that V stepped inside too, making Evey breathe a sigh of relief.
“Is he the one who did this?” Finch asked, then lifted the man from the ground. V nodded. “Dascombe?”, the inspector muttered in shock. The former chief executive of the BTN, yanked himself from Finch’s hands. “Why are you all acting all surprised? You ruined my world.”, Dascombe said looking at Evey. “I couldn’t just stand and watch. And who the fuck is he?”, pointing towards V. The vigilante approached, and kneeled in front of him, looking him right in the eye. “I am death, the destroyer of worlds.” Dascombe’s eyes grew in terror. “No, it can’t be … you’re dead.”
The chief inspector took out his handcuffs and arrested Dascombe, “Are there others? “, he asked V.
“Yes, but they are unconscious. May I assist you in any way?”
Eric looked at him for a couple of seconds, it was amazing how tis man could change his demeanour, from killing machine to gentleman, so effortless. “Just take Evey to safety, I’ll call reinforcements and take care of the rest.”
“As you wish.”, V approved bowing his head, then he reached to help Evey get on her feet. She was still dizzy, and it was difficult to focus, V grabbed her with both hands and she managed to steady herself. Edward managed to get on his feet too, V turned his head towards him and asked “I’m sorry I had to be so abrupt, I hope I didn’t hurt you.”
“You just saved my life, I couldn’t care less if you hurt me. “, Eddie said, he then turned his head towards Evey. “Take care of her. Goodbye!”
The Gallery was shrouded in darkness. V was sleeping on his chaise-lounge, dressed in one of his poet shirts, his right hand hanging over the edge of the chaise. The silence was interrupted by the slow sound of naked footsteps pacing on cold stone. V could hear Evey approach, he was usually very alert even when he slept. When she reached him, he breathed audibly so she would know he was not sleeping. In the darkness of the Gallery he could distinguish the small frame of his beloved, her arms wrapped around her.
“What keeps you awake at such late hours of the night, my dearest?”, he said raising in an upright position, making space for her to sit next to him.
“I thought I lost you again today…”, she breathed. “I don’t know what I would do if … ”
“Hush, dearest Evey.”, he interrupted her, taking his small hand into his own leather clad one. “I am awfully sorry I frightened you. I assume my body can only take that much damage.” Evey’s other hand went from the chaise to her beloved’s chest, her fingers slowly slipped over it and suddenly stopped when V took a sharp intake of air, her hand touched that one bullet still lodged in his body, infected and until 2 days ago refusing to heal, but the healing process finally started, and he was relieved. Antibiotics did nothing for him, so he usually had to wait for his immune system to respond … but 5 months was a long time even for him.
“Are you still hurt?”, she asked.
“I’m healing … slowly, but I’m healing.”, V assured her. A minute of silence followed, none of them uttered a word, and just enjoyed each other’s company.
“Hmm.”, he answered absently.
His heat began to race, he could feel it beating in his throat. Some time has passed since their first kiss, and even though he gave up his mask, he still didn’t feel comfortable without it. If he would have any sweat glands left now he would be sweating like an Eskimo at the topics. He remained frozen for what seemed an eternity, Evey patiently waiting. His gloved hand reached for her face and she closed her eyes. V finally gather the courage to approach her, their faces only centimetres away, she could feel the heat emanated by his skin closing in on her, then soft, leathery lips landing on hers. When she responded, his breath stopped … and he kept thinking: ‘Is this really real? Or did I actually die?’