Author's Note: I'm going on vacation tomorrow, so I guess I'll just give you the rest today. Thanks for the love, people!

"It started off as a one-shot... AND THEN IT ATE MY BRAIN!"

Here it is: the spellbinding conclusion to the epic chain of events which have led our fearless paladin to the very darkest depths of humanity!

OK, so much for pathos.

---

Chapter the Third

---

To the casual passersby, the only indication of the drama occurring within the chemist shop was the abrupt appearance of a CLOSED sign in the window. Following this, the lights also went out. The store was apparently deserted.

In reality, however, six people had been herded into the restroom and locked inside, with the exception of Doris the teller and the young lady V had accidentally "felt up". He was admittedly still feeling a bit soretowards the latter, but she looked about Evey's age, and so might serve as a basis of comparison.

The two hostages had been marched into the Women's Health aisle at knifepoint, and were now staring at V with seven kinds of incredulity.

"You're fucking joking," said the girl, bristling with indignance.

"I couldn't be more serious, miss."

"What are you, some kind of she-male?"

V fingered his knives in irritation. "Look, it's very simple: just choose whichever items you would buy for yourself."

"I thought there was something weird about you -"

"Waitaminnit," said Doris. "That girl - I saw her on the telly, Edie-something. This stuff's for her, isn't it?"

"How acute of you," croaked V. My personal life, laid bare by a sales clerk with glue-on nails. "Yes. Yes, it is. As my friend is currently incapacitated at the moment, I am acquiring the necessaries."

"Oh my gawd," said the girl. She was now looking V up and down with new respect. "Dylan doesn't ever buy me stuff like that. That's chivalry."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," said V lightly. "Now that we've come to an understanding, would you be so kind as to assist...?"

"Yeah, okay," said the girl. "Does she do tampons or pads or what?"

"Take both,"opined Doris sagely. "It isn't healthy to use tampons all the time. Toxic Shock, you know."

No, I don't. But I'm not going to ask.

"Oh, c'mon, no one gets TSS. I once had one in for two days straight and I never-"

"Right," interrupted V hastily. "Both it is."

For reasons he could not even begin to fathom, V saw that he now had both women on his side. He toned the menace down a notch and sheathed his knives with a sigh of relief.

Doris was already rummaging through the shelves. The teller, assured that V was in no way connected to the KGB, had latched onto the idea that she was in the company of a celebrity of sorts. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying herself.

"Applicator, right?"

"Pardon?"

"Applicator or no applicator?"

"Non-applicators are for hippies,"advisedthe girl.

"The difference being...?" V asked thickly, feeling very stupid indeed.

Following an opened package and cursory explanation of the device's mechanics, V opted in favour of the applicators, but proved indecisive when asked, "Which colour does she take?"

"Er-"

"There's junior, regular, super, super plus, ultra..."

"Come again?"

"Does she have a heavy flow?" asked the girl helpfully.

"What?" asked V, appalled.

"Is she a virgin?"

"WHAT?"

"Don't get your panties in a knot," the girl muttered. "They say virgins like the smaller sizes. Never mind. Regular it is."

---

Several packages of yellow- and purple-coded tampons and three boxes of Overnight sanitary napkins later, V had a headache.

His past experiences in hostage situations usually involved a lot more screaming, yelling, and a generalized sense of all-around hostility. By the sound of the muffled abuses being yelled from the menfolk in the bathroom, this appeared to be what was going on in that vicinity.

The two women, however, had risen to the occasion with an unnerving enthusiasm. Having recently reconciled their differences in feminine hygiene preference, theywere currently advising him on the appropriate measures to take when sharing a home with a menstruating female.

"-and bananas," concluded Doris. "Have plenty of bananas."

"-and chocolate."

"-and chocolate,"the teller agreed."And Tylenol for tummy aches."

They both smiled at V.

"Well, ladies, this has been very helpful," he began, but at that moment sirens began to wail from down the street. The captives in the bathroom began to cheer.

"Oh. Sorry," said the girl, frowning. "I forgot -I think Dylan phoned the police. You didn't take his cell phone away - he hid it in his pants -"

"Is there a back door?" V asked Doris distractedly, eying the windows.

"-he probably thinks you're, like, raping us or something. I mean, I totally forgive you for the whole knife thing and all-"

"Ladies, please try to remember that I am the villain in this drama," V said, hurriedly shouldering the packages. "If anyone asks, this was a forced robbery. At gunpoint. Anything you like. I would hate for you to be black-bagged after your kind assistance."

"We'll lock ourselves in the supply room," said Doris cheerfully. "It was nice meeting you, dear. Say hello to your young lady for me. 'Vive le revolution' and all that!"

The masked man fled, feminine products and all.

"He seems like a nice man," said Doris. "It's a pity that he's a terrorist."

"Yeah. Dylan wouldn't ever take anyone hostage to buy me tampons."

---

V picked up speed as he ran through the side streets,juggling his cumbersome spoils as he ran. From the sound of things, the entire Nose division had turned out to run their quarry to the ground.

This is beyond chivalry, he thought hopelessly. This is beyond the labours of Hercules, for God's sake!

He needed to get to a roof. The city was easier to comprehend when it lay at his feet.

...it was also easier to comprehend without peering around a package of tampons. But damned if he was going to leave them behind.

He turned into an alleyway and had one foot on a wrought iron fire escape when -

"Not so fast, mask boy."

Behind V, something clicked in an oiled-metal, mechanical sort of way. He turned to find an officer with the Fingermen's double-barred cross insignia on his sleeve.

The man grinned. "You're not giving us the slip this time, chum. Put the boxes down and put your hands up. We're gonna see what's behind that smiley face."

"Young man, I don't have all night," V growled irritably. "I have a lady waiting. 'Hell hath no fury', as I'm sure you are aware."

"Don't try and by cute," the officer snarled. "Any funny moves and I shoot your legs out from under you."

Despite himself, V was becoming quite angry. At any other time he might have been amused by the officer's clich├ęd machismo; tonight, on top of the evening's previous irritants, this musclehead was just another straw on the camel's back.

Unluckily for that particular officer, it was the straw that broke it.

"Funny moves?" echoed V quietly, dangerously. He stepped down from the fire escape slowly. "I assure you, young man..."

"-Listen, you spooky bastard-"

"..That what I'm about to do to you..."

"-Come one step nearer and I'm gonna blow you away-!"

"...With this..." V glanced at his weapon of choice. "...ah, vaginal harpoon..."

"-I'M WARNING YOU-!"

"...Will be anything but 'funny'."

They would find the officer the following morning, bound to the fire escape with several Always® Maxi pads and gagged with a dozen junior-absorbency tampons.

---

Evey was in the shower when V returned, so he left the packages outside the door. Then he locked himself into a storage room and spent the next few hours alternately emptying a bottle of red wine and beating the hell out of a spare suit of armor.

---

In the morning, his houseguest padded into the kitchen in pajamas to find V standing at the table, staring rigidly at a newspaper.

"V...?"

He slammed the paper down at her approach and jumped to his feet, holding it behind his back.

"Evey. Did you sleep well?"

She took a step backwards. "Are you all right? What's that you're reading?"

"What? Nothing. Nothing at all. Yes! Yes, I'm perfectly fine. Never been better. Yourself?"

She gave him an odd look, but continued, "I just wanted to say thank you."

"You're quite welcome Evey," he said with a strained bow.

"The bananas are very nice too," she added, brown eyes looking at him thoughtfully. "And the chocolate. It was very... classy of you. None of the other guys I knew treated me like that."

In spite of himself, V's chest swelled a bit. "It was no trouble at all, my dear."

A small and sarcastic voice in his head replied, You only held eight people hostage, outran the entire London police force, and incapacitated a Fingerman with feminine products, but it was no trouble at all? ...You are whipped, old man.

Shut up.

"I'm deeply sorry to have put you through any earlier discomfort. I trust you, ah, managed? In my absence?"

Eveysmiled at him, and V felt the last vestiges of annoyance melt away."Necessity is the mother of invention. Four-ply toilet paper is good for more than just wipingSutler's ass."

"Quite." A pause. "Why don't you go and get dressed? I'll make waffles. How do waffles sound?"

"Fantastic. You know,"Evey called over her shoulder. "I was actually worried that you'd have some trouble with the whole thing, last night. Silly of me, wasn't it?"

When she had gone, he glanced back at the momentarily-forgotten newspaper in his hand and winced anew. It was only a local rag, but the headline - coupled with a blurred but very much authentic photograph - had stopped him dead in his tracks.

CODENAME 'V' ACTUALLY A WOMAN!

An unnamed source reported sighting the terrorist near the Soho district following Codename V's armed robbery of a South London chemist shop in which the only items stolen were several packages of tampons and sanitary napkins! Caught oncandidcameraby our informant, the masked marauder is seen making off with his - or shall we say her - ill-gotten gains!

Attack on TV Station: Political or PMS?

Could it be that the recent attack on the BTN station was a symptom of Codename V's raging premenstrual hormones? Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is the monthly scourge of more than half of the world's women, with symptoms including mood and behavioral changes. To find out more, we got an expert's opinion on the matter...

If you only knew, Evey. If you only knew.

FIN

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