Chapter 6

V was slowly getting well from his case of flu, but he fretted at how long it was taking.

"What's so important that you feel you have to run yourself into the ground?" Evey asked, standing in the doorway of the lab and glaring at him. "You'll have a relapse, V."

"I'll be fine," he said shortly, his attention taken up by the project he was working on. He stared at the computer monitor while his fingers flew over the two keyboards he had in front of him. Diagrams flashed on the screen (they looked like floor plans) and every now and then a new file would open and begin to run.

"Well, all right, then," Evey said. "While you're doing that I'm going to take all of the films in your collection and make confetti out of them, and then I'll do the same to your books."

"That's fine," V told her, not paying any attention.

"After that Marshie and I are going to play target practice with the paintings."

"Have fun," V said, distracted by the program he was currently gazing at.

Evey muttered something and left the room, heading for her own. V was making her so mad! He was just barely better and already he was going full-tilt and acting as if he'd never been sick! He was going to be sick again, she just knew it, and ten to one he'd forgotten how worried she'd been the first time!

"Mrow!" Marshie said from the bed as Evey entered the room.

"Hello, Marshie," Evey said, flopping onto the bed and scratching behind the little cat's ears. "Why is it men are so stupid? Hmm?"

Marshie gave her a look which seemed to say, "Men are so stupid because women are the ones with all the brains, hon. That's just the way it is."

Evey just laughed, imagining Marshie launching into a diatribe against men (as any girl friend would do) and decided that if V was going to make himself sick all over again, she wasn't going to bother taking care of him. He'd have to do the best he could without her help.

Space

V did not get sick again. Instead, he seemed fine, much to Evey's annoyance. She would have loved to say "I told you so," when his fever came back and he started feeling wretched again, but that was not to be. V didn't seem to notice that Evey was somewhat disappointed in his returned health, and that put her even more out of sorts than before.

V did notice, however, a change in Creedy's actions, and that change meant he was away from home much more than before. He seemed to come and go at odd hours, and once he was away for three days before showing back up in the Shadow Gallery.

Those three days were a nightmare for Evey. She was convinced that if V didn't come back, she would be trapped in the Shadow Gallery and she would slowly starve to death and never see another living soul besides Marshie again. She worried about V constantly, worried that he might have been captured, killed, or blown up in one of his ridiculous statements of defiance to Creedy. She could imagine V miscalculating some kind of explosive and it going off in his face, killing him and sending his mask spiraling up into the sky.

She began to curse her imagination when V came in, startling her.

"V!" she gasped, dropping into a chair with a white face. "V!"

"Evey, are you all right?" he asked, going quickly to her side, worried by the expression on her face.

A moment later a fist planted itself in his shoulder, knocking him on his rump.

"If you ever go away without telling me where you're going or what you're doing ever again, I'll kill you!" she shrieked. "Do you have any idea how worried I've been? How scared? You could have been killed, and I would never have seen you again, and I would have been stuck here! I don't know the way out, and I wouldn't know how to let people know I was here!"

"You would have been fine," V said from the floor, looking up at her, very amused. Why did he like it so much when she got angry with him? Probably because it let him know that she cared about him, or because when she was angry her eyes flashed and looked exceedingly lovely.

"I would, huh?" she muttered, still glaring.

She was grinding her teeth. That meant she was extra-angry. "Yes," he insisted. "You see, the way out is hidden, but not so hidden that you wouldn't find it should you begin looking. There are signs that point the way out."

"Well, if there are signs, I've yet to see them, and I've been looking for ages!" she snapped, getting up from her chair and going into the room. She even banged the door, a definite sign that she was not in a "let's talk about it" mood. V knew it would be better to leave her alone for a while.

He checked the time and found it was almost time to eat, so he went to the kitchen and began to make supper. He made pot-au-feu and fresh bread and waited for the aroma to draw Evey out of her room and into the kitchen. It didn't happen, however. She stayed in her room, and V began to pace back and forth, worrying. Perhaps she'd really had enough of staying with him. Perhaps he'd really kept her here too long. Maybe she needed to be set free.

But what about Creedy?

Leaving supper on the table, he went into his room and pulled out his journal. Not even bothering to write in the date he began to write his feelings about the current situation.

I don't know what to do. I'm keeping her here for her protection, but she doesn't want to stay. She's afraid of being trapped here, but doesn't she realize by now that nothing will happen to me? I'll always come back, and I can make that as a promise. Besides, if she left and Creedy's fingermen caught her, she would be trapped in a worse way, in a worse place, and she'd also be a liability to both of us. So, that means she'll have to stay. What more can I do to help her understand this? What more can I say to make her believe me?

Neither one of them had supper that night, and Evey stayed in her room, despite V putting on Phantom of the Opera. That movie was usually enough to draw Evey out, but tonight it didn't work. She stayed where she was, and V was certain that she'd never speak to him again.

Space

"V?"

V woke, certain that he'd heard Evey's voice and wondering if he'd been dreaming it. Then, he realized that she was standing at the foot of his bed, looking down at him.

"Yes, Evey?" he said, sitting up and turning on a light. For once, he was glad he'd gone to sleep with his mask on. No point in her fainting away once the light was on.

"I want to apologize for getting so mad at you and acting the way I have been," she said, perching on the edge of the bed like a tired bird. "It's just that…although you're certain you'll always be able to come back, there might be a time when you can't—a tunnel may be blocked, or something. I wouldn't want you risking your neck coming back to get me out, especially if it would be dangerous or if people are after you. I understand about your wanting me to stay here: Creedy could get his hands on me, and neither of us can be certain I can keep this place a secret while being tortured. Still, I think it would be better if I knew the way out, just in case you can't come back."

"I understand, Evey, and thank you," V said, standing up and holding out his hand to her. "Come with me."

Evey took his hand and followed him through the Shadow Gallery to where a large painting of doors hung. It was a picture of all types of doors: small ones, large ones, simple ones, ornate ones, glass ones, wooden ones, and one open door that led to a sunny garden. V put his hand on the frame and pulled, and behind it was a door.

"That door leads out," he said, pointing to it. "It leads to the old subway tunnels and up to the ground. Just keep going up. Also, to the right there is a hallway that leads to a lift, and that will take you up to the roof, if you wish to go."

Evey's only reply was an arm around V's shoulders and a kiss on the mask's cheek.