A "V for Vendetta" short story by Tina Price.
Preview: The trials and tribulations of a man set on having his own grand piano.
Disclaimer: V for Vendetta and all characters therein are the property of Warner Brothers Entertainment Company and DC Comics.
Author's notes: This story takes place immediately following Second Chances.
Rating: This story is rated R, overall for adult content. The unedited NC-17 version may be found on my homepage. As always, constructive criticism and advice are always appreciated!
Evey arrived home from her latest therapy session to find V sprawled out on the reception room carpet, bits and pieces of the piano strewn on the floor around him. He looked like he'd been shot, his arms splayed out to the sides, his legs apart and the mask staring sightlessly up at the ceiling.
"Good Lord! V, whatever is the matter?" She asked, as she kicked off her shoes and moved to kneel at his side. It was obvious to her that something had gone wrong with his reconstruction of the piano.
"Oh, I just thought I'd lay here," he drawled, in deep, mellow tones. "You know; work on controlling my temper and cultivating my patience," he continued, rare sarcasm evident in his strained voice.
"How long have you been laying there?" She put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"That depends. What time is it?"
She knelt picked up and looked at some of the papers strewn about around him. They turned out to be his notes on reconstructing the piano.
"It's a little after one," she answered, distracted as she read them.
"Then I'd say that I've been laying here a good three plus hours," he sighed.
She had to bite her lip. Obviously something had gone very seriously wrong with the piano rebuild. "Want to tell me what happened?" she asked, still reading his notes. "The metal plate didn't crack, did it?"
The Guy Fawkes mask finally turned to look at her. "No, the plate is fine, thank God." He sighed heavily. "I had nearly all the strings in place and I was tightening them in the correct sequence... when my pinblock cracked."
She quickly read the entry on pinblock repairs. "Well, at least it's something which can be replaced," she said, trying to be optimistic. "If it were the plate, then I could see you sulking!"
"My dear, my love..." he began, as he clasped his hands together atop his belly. "Let us hope that never happens or you're more likely to come home and find me crying in a dark corner." He sighed heavily again. "Yes, the pinblock can be replaced, but it will take me days just to cut the duplicate, let alone drill the holes and replace it on the soundboard. And then I shall have to restring. I know that I'm just being childish, but I had so hoped to have my piano back in working order by now. Never has something so vexed me and at the same time given me such joy!"
Throwing his notes over her shoulder, she hunkered down on the floor beside him. "You promised to tell me the story of how you first obtained this piano," she reminded him.
He turned on his side and propped his masked face on a hand while he stared at her. "I suppose now would be the ideal time to tell it," he murmured. "Besides, it might gain me at least a modicum of sympathy."
She giggled and gently tugged on the hair of his wig. "Go on, give it your best try," she invited.
He took a deep breath. "Our story began, oh... about sixteen years ago...
V paused in his Shadow Gallery and took in the treasures that had begun to fill its cold, barren spaces. The place was coming along famously, thanks to his restless wanderings through old, abandoned back alleys and storage facilities, especially government storage facilities.
But there was still something missing; something he had yearned to have for years already:
He knew how to play, although he could not remember how he had learned, who his teachers had been or what he had done with that knowledge...
Yet, ever since escaping Larkhill, he had burned with a desire to have his own piano and play whenever he felt the urge... to play until his fingers burned..
Up until now he had relied upon pianos in government halls; breaking in and playing them, then disappearing so that the guards began to think the places haunted. It was amusing in the extreme, but ultimately unsatisfying.
But where to get one without actually robbing an innocent citizen? That was indeed the question of the moment.
Shaking his head at his own folly, he put the entire subject from his mind. He had more important things to do, after all. And what was his pleasure anyway besides simply a way of passing the endless time between now and the fruition of all his hopes and dreams?
Bah! A piano? For him? It was enough to make him laugh. Maybe one day, if pigs could fly... and if it ever happened he would have to take it as an omen of sorts; as proof that nothing was impossible, not even his ultimate goal.
Hours later he was returning from a failed foray into several known government lock-ups when lightening struck; literally and figuratively.
He'd taken a short-cut through a dismal, backstreet alley in an attempt to get home before the heavens opened up when a brilliant flash, accompanied by the sound of doom itself had knocked him off his feet.
Next he knew, he'd been rising from his back in the middle of the flooded alley and shaking water out of his eyes.
"Crikey," he'd commented to himself. "That had been a close one!"
And that's when he'd seen her; her peeling metal plate propped against the alley wall, her case, keyboard and and soundboard likewise propped against the wall. He'd blinked and then shaken his head again in an effort to clear all the water from beneath his mask; from his eyes...
He wasn't seeing things: she was really there, right down to the disassembled stool.
Thank God that the overhang had spared the old wood the damaging effect of the rain. Who in their right mind would do such a thing to a piano?
Someone who didn't want it, someone who didn't deserve it, came the thought.
Rising to his feet, he stared at it a good three minutes longer before he realized he wasn't dreaming.
"Damn!" he exclaimed out loud. He had to save her, but how?
Barely even thinking it through, he kicked in the back door of the adjacent building and poked his head in. It was a staging area; a multipurpose laundry room and loading area.
Carefully, he moved each piece of the piano into the building, except for the metal plate, which he lifted and began moving in the direction of the nearest underground tube. It was unbelievably heavy; at least 45 stone. Even with his strength it took a good hour to get it to its new hiding spot. Then he went back for the rest of the piano, wrapping each part in spare drop cloth to try to keep it dry.
The last part to go was the actual casing, which, although not as heavy as the metal plate, was far larger, bulkier and attracted some unwanted attention from the local drunks and homeless riffraff.
Once he had the casing in the underground with the rest of the piano, he was gripped with an unreasonable fear that it would be stolen by someone who'd witnessed his activities. Never mind that the tube was locked and few people besides him had the key; the police might be summoned and they might check up on it. They had keys...
He spent the rest of the night moving every bit of his prize to the Shadow Gallery and only when he was sure that the entire piano was there, strings and all, did he strip off his wet garments, collapse on the rug and sleep.
In the morning the piano greeted his eyes, assuring him that it hadn't been just a dream. A rare smile transformed his face, unmasked as it usually was when he was in the Gallery. All he need do now was identify the piano and obtain instructions on piano restoration.
After carefully searching the parts laid out before him, he found what he was looking for; a stamp on the metal plate and what it said rocked him back on his heels.
His piano was a 1896 Hardman Grand! Moving briskly into his bedroom, he scaled the wall of books on one side, looking for one in particular, which he somehow managed to locate within the hour. It was filled with information about musical instruments and there was a paragraph or two dedicated to Hardman pianos;
Made by Hardman. Peck & Co., one of the distinguished American piano industries, with a world wide reputation for the utmost reliability. Hardman pianos are noted for their technical qualities, for their purity, delicacy, the artistic beauty of their cases, and for their remarkable durability. The Period designs are handsome and accurate. They have been made for more than eighty-three years. The Hardman has been the official piano of the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York for the past fourteen years and a letter from the management to the makers of the piano states that the eighteen Hardman pianos in constant use in the opera house are noted for their fine quality, fullness and great durability give them high satisfaction in spite of the fact that they are subjected to extremely heavy usage, due to the almost ceaseless rehearsals that are conducted here.".
With a sigh of pure contentment, he placed the book back in the pile and went to make some breakfast. He ate it while looking over his new acquisition and thinking about his next move. Where to obtain the detailed information he needed in which to restore this beauty?
The only option seemed to be an official piano refurbishing shop.
It was well after ten at night when he made his move, breaking into the shop. He had to admit that for once he was ashamed of himself. The people who ran this business were Gods in his eyes and he was unworthy to be here without their permission.
Still, he needed information and he seriously doubted that they would simply give it to him if he showed up in his mask during the day and asked for it.
After rummaging through the files in the refinishing room, he finally found what he was after. Flicking on the copy machine, he allowed it to warm up and them made himself several copies.
When he left, the file was back in it's rightful place, the copy machine was off and the place was locked up soundly. No one would ever know that he'd been there.
He'd spent the last month lovingly restoring his piano. The metal plate was polished and repainted with gold leaf. The soundboard had been lovingly repaired and refinished, the pinblock had been replicated and re-drilled with all the pins and several very expensive bass strings replaced. The case, along with the rest of the wooden exterior, had been lovingly refinished and it was a beauty to behold; rich lacquered mahogany with almost a tortoise shell appearance.
And he was down to the final stages of the reconstruction; the reassembly of all the parts. He worked slowly, methodically, taking time to see that all was done right, that his new love would be perfect, sound like heaven...
His spirits were high, his anticipation immense. and then disaster struck. When it came time to replace the metal plate, his instructions stated that he was to line it up carefully according to the outline made in the case before the plate was removed.
There hadn't been an outline! He was certain of it.
In a panic, he thumbed backwards through the instructions to the part he hadn't had to read; the part that dealt with disassembling the piano;
Mark the position of the Metal Plate:
Another extremely important measurement is the position of the metal plate. Should this measurement be overlooked, and the plate is put back in a slightly different position, it will change the voice of the piano, sometimes drastically for the worse, forever.
"No..." he breathed, still in denial of his misfortune. It couldn't be!
Another part of his mind assured him that his misfortune had a very simple explanation; who would bother to mark the plate position on a piano that they were throwing away? They just simply dismantled it.
Sinking down onto the floor, he dropped his head in his hands and resisted the urge to knock his head against the floor.
"Evey, I spent the next three years taking the strings off that piano, moving the plate a fraction after marking where it had been and then restringing the piano. I'd do it two or three times a year as my patience would allow, each time hoping against hope that I'd hit on the correct placement." V looked up at her and shook his head.
"But eventually you did succeed," she reminded him.
"Oh yes. It was a glorious day," he breathed, remembering. "When I hit that very first key as I was retuning it, I knew... I knew immediately. Oh Evey, the sound she made for me!"
"So then it was worth every one of those frustrating years; you did get your piano and it was a beauty at that," she said.
He nodded, apparently deep in thought.
She leaned down closer to him and then slowly began to unbutton his silk shirt, bending to kiss the skin of his chest as it was exposed.
His mask turned to stare at her; she had his instant attention.
"I know exactly what you meant..." she husked.
"Never has something so vexed me and at the same time given me such joy," she repeated, as she pulled his shirt apart and began running her hands over his chest and belly.
He caught his breath and continued to stare at her.
She leaned even closer to him and began kissing and sucking the skin of his neck, working her way up to the edge of his mask and coaxing a moan from him.
"Perhaps you need a restringing," she whispered near his ear. "Or merely a retuning?"
As she went back to nibbling his neck, his breathing became quicker, deeper, as though he had been running. "Evey... my love..." he managed to say. "Are you well enough? Are you certain?"
"Mmmmm," she breathed. "My therapist tells me I have to do more with my left hand to help me improve it's fine motor skill." Having said it, she reached back with the hand in question and groped him.
"Ah!" he exclaimed reflexively, then began to reach for her when she started kneading and rubbing him through his britches.
She placed a hand on his chest, sat up and pushed him down.
"Now, now!" she chastised him. "No moving about until I've got you restrung. We wouldn't want the tension to snap you!"
He chuckled. "Never has something so vexed me and at the same time given me such joy, indeed!"
She worked her way down his torso to his britches and unbuttoned them ever so slowly before sliding her hand inside.
He squirmed in a most erotic way as she teased him, running her fingers lightly up and down his length.
It had been quite some time for either of them and so she wasn't at all surprised at the amount of lubrication he began leaking after just a short while. She collected it with her fingers and took her time slowly spreading it over him. By the time she closed her hand around his hard, inflamed member and began stroking him, he was leaking pitilessly. He went stock still, his gloved hands trying to grip the carpeting and more than one moan escaping him despite himself.
Evey felt herself pushing the edge as well, despite the returning pain in her head and the throbbing in her temple. She felt hot, sweaty and oh so sticky in all the right places... In her mind she'd already decided that she couldn't bear to finish him like this; she had to have him...
Even as she thought it, V sat bolt upright, his hand delving into his pants and covering her own; holding it still. His other hand hooked the back of her neck and pulled her to him so that he could rest the forehead of his mask against her forehead.
Through the mask he was panting heavily.
"Please Evey..." he pleaded, his voice uneven. "Not like this... I would regret it terribly; to enjoy such pleasure while you're unable..." The hand at the back of her neck came around to stroke her cheek, then move down her neck suggestively towards her breast, which he cupped and squeezed firmly. "I do appreciate your gifting me like this, but truly I'd rather wait for more; for you."
That did it; she'd rather have a cerebral stroke right there than stop.
Removing her hand from his britches, she unbuttoned her blouse, then pulled his shirt over his shoulders and down his arms; ridding him of it.
"Evey?" he breathed, barely speaking her name.
"My memories of our moments together are a strange, tangled jumble," she told him, staring deeply into the mask's obsidian eyes. "But one thing I remember very clearly; always yearning for you, wanting you." She ran her hands over his chest, enjoying the feel of him immensely as the reality replaced so many garbled memories; memories which had haunted her in her dreams ever since she'd awakened in hospital.
"V, my head is already hurting, throbbing fiercely. but my body has already overridden it. There's no going back now; I have to have you! You can stop the pain or at least make me not mind it. Please say you will?"
He groaned at her words. "My love, if you want me that badly... how can I refuse? I am but flesh and blood."
"Oh no," she protested. "You're much more than that..."
Gently, eagerly, he pushed her down onto her back, then deftly unbuttoned her pants and slid them off her. With an appreciative sigh, he sat back and paused a moment to take in the sight of her.
She was wearing a matching set of undergarments; a pale blue lace bra and thong. Her unbuttoned gray shirt lay open and flared out around her, while the sun shone full strength through the window, lighting her hair and eyes with amber gold flecks of color.
She knew that very same light would prove a problem for him; she couldn't quite remember his features, but knew that although she'd seen him in the past, it had always been in the shadows.
His gloved hands were on her again, sliding behind her back to unhook her bra, then lifting her with their strength just long enough to shuck the rest of her clothes from her. Laying her back down, he came down beside her and made to caress her again...
That's when she grasped his hand and pulled his glove off.
"The other one, too, please," she said, then removed the offending right glove as he offered that hand to her.
Then his hands were on her again, stroking her breasts, her belly, her thighs...
And she did the same, turning towards him, exploring his patchwork skin with relish, then finally pushing at his pants in frustration. "These have got to go!"
With a joyous laugh, he rose to his knees and slowly peeled them off, quite enjoying the affect his striptease was having on her.
"My God, V... are you trying to kill me?" she exclaimed, as the throbbing in her head... as well as elsewhere, reached a feverish pitch.
"I promise it will only be a small death," he remarked, bending towards her, his knees demanding that she open her thighs to him. When she complied, he was atop her, his hips pressing her down, pinning her to the carpeting, his hardness bruising her pubic bone as it was trapped between them.
And she found herself staring into those black, expressionless Fawkes eyes...
She faltered, stiffening under him. She didn't want Fawkes... but how to ask him to reveal himself?
Then the mask tilted, regarding her silently at an odd angle.
She got the distinct impression that he had already read her thoughts. The air suddenly seemed electrified, as though some switch had been thrown. Something was about to happen...
"Evey," he breathed. "Would you do something for me?"
"Remove my mask."
She froze. "You want me to take it off for you?"
He nodded ever so slightly.
"Here, in full sunlight?"
Again he nodded.
"Even though I can't remember?"
"Can you not?" he asked sharply. "I think you do, deep down, but it makes no never mind; I already know your reaction from the past and it will not change. I trust in that. I do so trust in you."
She felt tears welling in her eyes. "I do remember everything of you that matters," she admitted in a whisper. "I remember beautiful dark blue eyes, a sincere smile and lips that kissed my own like no other's ever could..."
"And I do so wish to kiss you again. Remove the mask, my love. Please?" he pleaded.
She moved her hands from his shoulders to his neck, then upward beneath the wig until they encountered the fastening for the mask. With a few clumsy tries, she finally undid it and slowly, gently pulled the mask from his face.
Blue eyes stared back at her, their expression loving and trustful.
She immediately tossed the mask aside and pulled him to her, kissing him heartily, first on the lips, then all over his face.
He endured the kisses for but a moment, before reclaiming her lips and kissing her most soundly.
Evey groaned and melted beneath him as his tongue joined the battle, invading her mouth, teasing her own tongue and driving her wild. He must have shifted slightly in the middle of that battle, but somehow she'd missed it, because now, suddenly and with little warning...
"Ahhhh!" she moaned as he drove himself into her.
Later she found herself sprawled on his chest after he rolled over, keeping her with him.
Again his eyes searched her own. "Are you alright?" he asked anxiously.
With a sigh, she realized that her headache was gone. Maybe it was the endorphine rush, but it was actually completely gone!
"I feel great," she sighed, happily.
"Yes you do," he agreed, relieved, as his limbs collapsed limply. Giving her a final kiss, he closed his eyes and hovered in a heady, golden warm post-coital haze while she did the same.
Evey opened her eyes quite a while later and lifted her head to find him regarding her with tender affection.
"Well, hello there, sleepy head," he purred.
She smiled and stared with amazement into his eyes. In the brilliant light of the afternoon, they truly were two bottomless clear blue pools. "I see now how some poets find their words," she whispered without thinking. "Right now, I wish I were a poet."
He seemed to be rendered speechless and therefore let his hug and the kisses he rained upon her speak for him.
"You seem much better off than when I found you laying here," she laughed. "Was my little "tuning session" worth the wait?"
"Well worth it, you little minx," he laughed. "I was hard pressed to last as long as I did... as well you know."
"Well, I just wanted to remind you of what they say, 'Anything worth having is worth working for'," she quoted, with a superior smirk on her face.
He seemed startled by it, then pensive. In a moment he looked her in the eye. "Actually, love, the full quote is 'For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice - no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service'." He sat up then. "It was said by John Burroughs and I thank you for bringing it to mind."
Standing, he offered her his hand and pulled her to her feet. Then, after a quick kiss, he gathered his clothing and headed for the bedroom.
"Where are you off to?" she asked, surprised by his sudden sense of urgency.
"I'm off to change masks and hunt down an appropriate piece of pinblock material. It's time to repay my beloved piano with love and self-service for all the pleasure it had given me," came his voice from down the hall.
With a bemused shake of her head Evey lay down on the carpet where he had been. It was still warm from his body heat. She looked around at the gutted piano and the parts strewn about her and sighed.
"Let's get one thing straight, piano," she laughed. "As much as he loves you, he loves me more."
"That is a fact!" came his unexpected retort from the other room. "As it is a fact that I shall apply the lessons of this day and that quote to you for every year we shall live."
Evey sighed, contented with the life she now had and the man she shared it with.