Gordon groaned as he raised his head to rub the stiffness from his neck that spread down and through his shoulders. Carefully he leaned back in the chair next to Evey's bedside. He wondered what time it was but didn't both to find out. What good would it do anyway? It's not like he had somewhere to be, not for a few hours anyway. Heavy bags, dark in color, drooped below his eyes. Last night was a rather stressful and seemingly endless night. He was awakened by a strange sound and discovered it was one of Evey's machines. Having no medical training, Gordon tried the usual things one would do to figure out another's ailment. Finally he reached the conclusion that he heart rate was racing from her fevered dream. Thank goodness her wound didn't seem infected but V was better at determining that type of thing. However, V wasn't there at the time so the responsibility fell to Gordon. After watching her for close to twenty-four hours, drenching a cloth in ice cold water every ten minutes, and checking her pulse periodically to see if he noticed a decline in the aggressively rapid beats, he was spent. His body was crying out for many things but sleep rang louder than the rest and he promised he would only be shutting his eyes for a few minutes, though minutes blurred to hours until he would open his eyes again.
Now here he sat beside Evey, but the room was a bit quieter. The insufferable machine wasn't squawking like a newborn babe that can't be soothed and Evey felt cooler to the touch.
"I'm too old for this" Gordon sighed as he tried to work up the energy to get V's breakfast ready along with delivering it.
Gordon trudged with sagging shoulders down the hall leading to the large metal door. Taking a peek inside he found V sitting in meditation. Unlocking the small door he prepared to slide the food inside when V spoke.
"Yes" Gordon answered fatigued.
"Would you kindly bring me garments to change into?"
Thank Goodness. Gordon all but cheered in his mind.
"Mhm. Eat first" Gordon replied, sliding the tray inside and locking the door back just so he wouldn't forget later.
By the time Agatha and George awoke, V was properly dressed and training to help clear his mind. Both children sat silently eating their food as if on autopilot. Gordon busied with cleaning the mess made from cooking and anything else that would keep him from seeing the shred of innocent light dying from those small eyes.
V pummeled the plastic dummy that would be in need of repair soon. V removed his knife from the center of the chest in one harsh tug. Tucking it away, and a little more calm in thought, he appeared in the living room. Agatha stared blankly at the television seeing the animated characters but not truly seeing them. George sat off alone, though still able to keep an eye on his sister, spinning and flipping a butterfly blade eerily mirroring his sister's gaze. Quietly V distanced himself from the two in search of something. When he acquired his treasure he returned to the living room.
"Good morning" His voice cried jovially.
Agatha flinched from the contrasting happy tone of the words against the melancholy fog that settled in The Shadow Gallery.
"That is enough of that" V said turning off the television.
"Come. I have something to show you both" V said while motioning a gloved hand telling them to join him.
George's body didn't move though his eyes settled on the masked man sitting Indian style on the floor.
V lifted the top of a flat, rectangular box. Inside was an old, and somewhat weathered, board folded into fours, a strange looking die with more than six sides, possibly eight, and lastly a deck of cards. V opened the board then laid it flat on the ground in front of him. Agatha stared at the strange board able to read parts of it but was more captivated by the detailed drawings of four different worlds on each folded section of the board. Bridges made from individual planks linked together stretched in various directions and snaked through all four worlds.
"A game?" Agatha asked quietly.
"That's right. Smart girl" V praised.
Agatha sat a bit straighter with lips quivering in indecision on whether to pull into a smile. Sadly they didn't but she seemed intrigued and distracted out of her dark thoughts if only for a little while.
"This is a very magical game. It can become anything you wish it to be with lands flooding with fairies, knights and other otherworldly creatures"
George stopped flipping his blades around and stared in confusion and curiosity.
"What about aliens?"
"If you wish it to be?"
George looked skeptical of V's words though V had yet to lie to him.
"How does it work?" George asked scooting for a closer look.
V smirked behind his mask.
"We will create a story. Everyone will have a turn in adding to the story and our characters will live through the story, as well as the consequences it may bring" V answered then pointed to various symbols on the bridge planks that neither child had noticed before. "These symbols will tell us which stack of cards to draw from" He explained showing the children how the symbols on the board matched different stacks of cards. "Whatever may lay behind the card could grant us favor or create an obstacle"
For an example he drew a card with crossed swords. Below the picture the card explained that it meant the character came to a blocked path.
"I will explain more, if necessary, as we play. Now, choose your characters, but choose wisely young ones" V said in a deep yet rather animated voice increasing the children's excitement. George now sat right up against the edge of the board while Agatha rambled on describing her character. "Will you join us Gordon?"
Gordon made his way over but chose to rest on the couch instead of the floor. Once they all described their characters they all chose a card, arming them with a weapon, and then the game began.
Time passed so quickly but it was of little importance to the four as they became absorbed in the intricate and rather strange quest. Gordon had been frozen by an angered snow beast and had simply lounged on the couch for the past two turns. Agatha could have thawed him with her Volcan sword forged from the fiery pits of Tartus but if she did she would miss out on a gift from a fairy and so there was no debate in her mind. Gordon would remain frozen, at least one more turn. Gordon laughed at the young girl leaving him to freeze for the chance to talk to a fairy, not surprising given her age. Besides, that would mean he could lay and do nothing a moment more.
The game stretched on into the evening until Agatha and George fell asleep. V lifted Agatha with ease while Gordon picked up George and placed them in their bed. Gordon closed the door to the room and found V staring off in the direction of his own room. Gordon gave a sympathetic smile as he approached him from behind and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"She may not be able to answer but I know she can hear us. No doubt she has missed you"
V clenched his fists tightly in thought.
"Well you're gonna have to do it sometime. I have to get back. Wouldn't want them growing suspicious. Besides, I've been working on a very special show I think you'd rather enjoy"
"Yes" V said slightly distracted. "Thank you for all you've done my friend"
"Yes. Well, I won't do it again" Gordon said firmly. "I know how much you need Evey, but, those children need you too. This isn't healthy for them. So next time that voice starts yappin' away in that head of yours you tell him to shove it, understand"
V grinned in amusement although the seriousness of Gordon's words were not lost on him. V's attention focused on the door ahead of him as Gordon showed himself out. It was rather ridiculous of him to be nervous about seeing Evey, she was unconscious after all. Still, that fact did nothing to ease the guilt and shame that consumed him. He would rather face Creedy's men than open that door and yet a part of him, a large part, felt as if it were slowly dying from being a part from her.
Enough of this.
V's long strides brought him to the door, which he opened with ease. Stepping inside and closing the door behind him, V came to the side of the bed he would typically occupy to sit. Taking her hand gently he wrapped it in his larger ones. Quickly he read the equipment before sighing, thankful that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Her wounds weren't infected, or discolored, and although they would most likely leave permanently scarring, they were healing.
"Hello my love" V said. His hands continued to clutch her smaller one. "I must ask you forgive my absence. I have not been myself lately"
V wasn't sure exactly what to say to her and so decided to tell her everything. The demented voice that tormented him without rest at times, the things it said, his doubts, until he decided to switch to a happier topic telling her of the game night she missed and about the children. Eventually V could fight sleep no longer and lay beside Evey pulling her to him protectively. His fingers drifted through her hair absentmindedly until he gave into the first relaxing sleep he had in days. With the strain his body had to endure, V fell so deep into slumber that he missed the small spike in Evey's heart monitor.
The next morning
The shadow Gallery remained on the quieter side. George and Agatha were still sleeping in bed and V did not have the heart to wake them. He was not eager to confront the awkward encounter that was sure to come. Of course they were children and by nature were curious creatures. No doubt Agatha, at least, would litter him with questions. V had not asked Gordon what he told the children, and they were perceptive enough to see through any sort of lie Gordon may have given them. Had they heard his screams? If they had, what would he say? V abhorred lies and refrained from speaking them, even to his enemies, so he would not disgrace them with tall tales. However, Gordon was right about one thing, they were children. V was used to being blunt and unhindered by emotions when it came to addressing adults, especially those that were at fault for wrong doings, but children were not the same. Despite having their innocence of youth ripped from them by circumstances beyond their control, they were very much innocent. They should not be spared such horrors. They should be protected. Evey would know how to handle this situation. V's wrist twisted vigorously stirring the pancake mixture with more force to help direct his thoughts away from Evey. Needing more of a distraction he began humming an old folksy song common in the 1700s quickly getting swept away to the point humming transitioned to his deep melodic voice raising in volume.
"V?" A soft and sleep ridden voice called from behind him.
His speedy reflexes kept him from dropping the bowl in his arms as he smiled gently beneath his mask at Agatha.
"Good morning my dear Aggie. I hope you are in the mood for pancakes"
"Banana?" Agatha questioned with a hopeful look.
"Of course. Is there any other kind that remotely matters?"
Agatha beamed brightly and caused that warming feeling in his chest. The mentioning of banana pancakes brought the young girl completely out of the remainder of tiredness and she rushed over to V wrapping her arms around his leg.
"You are feeling better?" She questioned, and he swore she was the only being he knew of that could stretch their eyes in perfect circles as her bottom lip pouted slipping past her top one.
He frowned. V was not a man driven by manipulation and yet this little girl that barely reached his hip could sway him with a mere look. Though, if he were being honest, Evelyn could very well possess the same power if she were to exercise it.
"Yes. Thank you" V answered before gently stepping out of her hold to finish breakfast, though the hour was close to lunch.
George sat on the small chair beside Evelyn's bed. The woman was still sleeping soundly as the machines hummed and beeped beside her. George just stared. First taking in her half shaved head, moving to the way her body looked so still. If it weren't for the monitors he wouldn't know if she were breathing or not. Pulling his knees to his chest and curling up in the chair he continued to stare solemnly when one of the machines gave a short but high pitched beep. He focused on the machine with worry that something was wrong. Nothing looked out of place as it returned to normal and he brushed it off and turned his attention back to Evey. There was another spike, a few normal beeps and another high pitched spike. George jumped to his feet about to run for V when a soft moan locked his feet in place.
Evelyn's fingers twitched a few times before curling into a weak fist. Her eyes danced behind her closed lids that she was struggling to open. It took a few tries but finally she awakened, slowly. Her eyes needed a few minutes to adjust but once they did she turned her head left and right to assure herself she was where she thought she was.
"Evey?" George whispered in disbelief.
Her eyes drifted to the boy and a small smile tugged at her lips.
"Hi" She croaked.
George's eyes grew twice their size and he bolted out of the room leaving Evey to stare in confusion. He wasn't gone long and when he returned V and Agatha came bursting through the door behind him. Agatha jumped on the bed nearly tackling Evey who laughed hoarsely. George scolded his sister for almost hurting Evey but the little girl was so ecstatic that she barely paid her brother's words much mind, although she did release Evey and restrained herself to just sitting on the bed at her side.
"What did I miss?" Evey joked with a hoarse laugh.
V appeared at her side with a glass of water.
"How are you feeling?" V questioned gently after she downed the water.
It took Evey awhile to push herself up to a sitting position. It wouldn't have if she took V's offer of assistance but she was stubbornly insistent. V couldn't help but silently chuckle. That was his Evey.