Evergreen
A "V for Vendetta" story by Tina Price.

Preview: Ah, the joys of the Holidays; Spending time with loved ones, visiting friends and comforting those who feel the years have passed them by... A huge holiday gala inspires several people to rethink the direction their lives are taking.

Disclaimer: V for Vendetta and all characters therein are the property of Warner Brothers Entertainment Company and DC Comics.

Author's notes: This story is rated NC-17 for adult content. It takes place immediately after "The Meltdown" and is based upon my own continuation of the V for Vendetta storyline following the events of the movie (refer to my homepage for previous stories) As always, constructive criticism and advice are always appreciated!

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Evergreen

Chapter 5: All our Tomorrows

After taking his leave of Michael, V had taken a lift down to the main level, not wishing to be spotted while descending the grand staircase.

Somehow he managed to make his way to the main entrance and out onto the front steps of the museum.

The air was bitter, stinging his eyes and lips, parts of him still so unaccustomed to going without the protection of a heavy mask.

He took in the scene around him; people still gathering on the carpet-covered steps, being handed in and out of waiting vehicles, the doormen going about their business.

And he thought back on what Michael had told him:

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"V, you've got an auto-immune problem," he'd said. "Your ANA is positive with a coarse pattern... Your double strand DNA is negative, but oddly enough the single strand is positive."

"And that spells, what exactly?" he'd asked.

"You've got some form of lupus. All the secondary tests which help to identify the type, were negative, but there is little doubt you've got a very strong response going on."

"Lupus?"

"Yes. Your body has formed antibodies against some facet of itself. That is what I was trying to identify with the secondary tests; what portion of you, exactly, your own body is destroying," Michael explained.

V had frozen then, as several different things occurred to him. His current condition made sense, actually... "Michael," he'd said, having reached a decision. "I know what the single strand DNA test was detecting."

"What is it?"

"Viral DNA, more specifically, remnants of The Saint Mary's virus, or at least the inactive portions of it that have been incorporated into my body."

"What?" Michael had protested. "That's not possible! No one has ever survived it without having first been immunized."

"And how do you suppose the vaccine was created?" He'd challenged.

"The usual way; using pigs, horses..."

"That, my friend is where you are wrong. The virus does not affect such animals, not even enough for them to have an immune reaction," he'd explained. "Sutler's regime used human guinea pigs to generate that vaccine; dozens and dozens of them."

"My God!" Michael had looked ill.

"I never told you before, but... I am the sole source of that vaccine; the sole survivor. That is why some viral DNA is still detectable within me. That is why I... changed."

He'd seen the light suddenly go on in his friend's head.

"V, If you were the only person able to produce antibodies to the virus before it could kill you, it means that even then, your immune system was in overdrive. An over-active immunity tends to develop into an autoimmune problem."

He'd nodded. "And it may be more insidious even than that, Michael; suppose the viral DNA is inherent in my cells and that is what I am destroying..."

"Then that would be the trigger for the destruction of those cells," Michael had finished. "Still," he'd added. "There is a chance that you are simply destroying your own tissue and not what is left of the viral DNA."

"Is there any treatment?" he'd asked.

"All treatments are purely experimental and of little proven value," his friend had answered. "Most of them seem to destroy yet more of the body, making them worse than no treatment at all."

"So then... this is going to kill me," he'd surmised.

"V... given your lifestyle, you still have a good chance of dying some other way, but I won't lie to you; sooner or later complications from this syndrome will do you in, provided you live long enough for it to do so."

"How will it happen?" he'd asked. "Fast or slow, Michael? Will I linger? I couldn't stand for that..."

His friend had blinked back tears, trying at the time to not to be anything other than a doctor. "You'll have flair-ups; times where you either trigger your immune system to step up its assault or where it does so for no apparent reason. The symptoms you complained of will return and usually they get worse, for at each flair-up your immune system gets better at destroying its chosen targets."

"Eventually, you may end up in bed until the episodes ease off. Eventually, your body will begin to assault more of itself, causing enough damage that you could even go into shock. You might get ill and linger for a long time at the end, the victim of an ongoing attack or you might be fine one day and then bedridden for just hours up to a few days before dying... of a severe attack. Then again, you might just suddenly collapse and die on the spot, the victim of a sudden fatal heart arrhythmia brought on by an equally sudden attack."

"How much time do I have?"

"Hard to say; if you were an average man, I'd tell you years, at least."

"For me, a few good years will be enough," he'd replied. "Far more than I ever dreamed I'd have. Do not pity me this fate, Michael."

His friend had nodded. "I pity the rest of us for what we'd lose, but no, I won't pity you – I never have and I won't start now."

"So I have at least a few years…"

"Given your history, I couldn't begin to guess, but I will tell you this: take care not to damage yourself. Gunshots, knife wounds... those go without saying, but worse by far for you is muscular or skeletal damage. People become sore after a good workout because tissue is destroyed, broken down before it is rebuilt. For you such occurrences will trigger autoimmunity and strengthen it. Do not use your speed or strength unless you have no choice!"

"What do you recommend I do next?" he'd asked.

"Let's try to zero in on what is being attacked. Stop by my practice at your convenience and we'll get more labs going," he'd sighed. "It's all I have to offer you."

"One last thing, Michael... Please do not tell Evey of this," he'd pleaded. "There is no sense in worrying her before it is necessary. Besides, things are a bit more complicated than you know; we're expecting a child."

Michael had been stunned. "I see. In that case I recommend that she get to an obstetrician as soon as possible. Best not to risk any more complications than necessary."

"Thank-you, Michael," he'd replied, clapping his friend on the shoulder before turning towards the lifts.

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"Sir? May I help you with something?"

The doorman's polite inquiry snapped him back to the present.

"No thank-you. I'm just getting a breath of fresh air," he responded.

With a nod, the man moved off.

V's thoughts drifted back to his dilemma... He'd had specific plans for this evening, something he had desperately wished to do, but this new information changed things...

Or did it?

He might still be able to follow through with his plan, but first he would have to risk the jovial mood of the evening by having a very serious talk with Evey. Exactly how the evening ended would depend upon her response.

With a sigh, he started back inside.

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Evey had begun to look for her missing love twenty minutes after Michael's return to the party, but in the end he found her..

Appearing out of nowhere, he pulled her to him and given her a quick kiss on the forehead.

"There you are!" she sighed. "Everything OK?"

"All is well," he replied softly, then tentatively asked, "Evey, would you like to catch some fresh air with me?"

"Yes, I think I'd like that very much," she answered. "And I know just the place..."

She led him up to the balcony off the employee cafeteria, glad for the chance to get away from the crowd for a while and have some private time with him.

As they stepped outside, V pulled her up against himself and wrapped her in his arms. "It's very cold out here tonight and I've no cloak with which to warm you," he whispered, his breath forming little puffs around her face.

"It's OK," she replied. "It feels refreshing after being immersed in a sea of people. Besides, I always seem to feel hot these days."

"Hmmm... I'll be the judge of that, my love," he quipped, hugging her tightly.

"V, what has gotten into you tonight?" she asked, laughing at his comment.

"I don't feel like playing the gentleman right now," he husked, just as he claimed her lips with his own.

Long moments ticked by as he kissed her, his actions fervent and Evey felt a sense of desperation in him, but why, she could not say.

They were both breathless when he lifted his mouth from hers. "Oh Evey... I could consume you utterly!" he husked.

"Not here, though..." she pleaded, gasping as he moved on to nibble her neck.

"Perhaps not... but surely a small appetizer would be all right," he growled, turning her in his embrace and pulling her backwards against him. He had one arm around her shoulder; his hand on her breast and the other... the other was hiking up her gown in the back.

She moaned, long and low as his hand slowly traced up her thigh... and finally reached her backside.

V froze, his breath stopping for a painful few seconds, then he let out such a low pitched groan that her legs almost gave out on her.

He'd discovered her secret; she was wearing stockings and garters, but nothing else beneath the gown.

"Evey..." His voice was urgent. "Make me stop, for I haven't the strength to do so." He began feasting on the nape of her neck, as his fingers grew bolder.

"Nor have I," she moaned, as she reached behind her and caressed him through his pants.

Just then the balcony doors opened as another couple came out for some air.

V immediately dropped her gown and by the time the other couple realized they weren't alone, the two of them were retreating to an even darker area of the terrace.

Evey sank heavily onto a bench, grateful that V had helped support her.

Leaning down, he whispered wryly, "I'll have to stand for now."

"I'm sorry," she offered in sympathy. "I'll have to make it up to you later."

He swallowed loudly and nodded, apparently robbed of speech.

She changed the subject. "So I take it that you and Michael have worked things out?"

"We have."

"Is everything alright, my love?" she asked, still feeling some unease at his sudden intensity. "Did something happen to upset you?"

"Your perceptiveness never fails to amaze me," he replied, as he finally slid onto the bench beside her. Wrapping an arm about her shoulders, he sighed heavily, "You're freezing. Perhaps we'd best go back inside."

She leaned against him. "Soon; it's too beautiful a night to go back in yet." She refrained from questioning him further, instead allowing him the time he might need to lead into the subject he was attempting to broach.

He looked up at the stars and around at the snow-covered scenery. "It is beautiful," he agreed. "And it has been a night to remember. If I died now, I would die a happy man."

"Please don't say such things," she pleaded.

"I only meant to say that tonight... I feel at peace. It has been like a dream..."

She grabbed his lapels and pulled him to her so she could kiss him. "I'm so glad," she breathed as their lips parted.

"I was thinking how lucky I am to have so much when, for so long, I thought I would have nothing... When I spied Eric Finch at the bar and saw in him the same darkness that had once lurked within me; the conviction that I was unlovable and should not even dare to imagine any woman could want me... I realized just how far I've come."

"You saved him tonight," she said. "I know you did."

"I merely played my part. It's up to him now... and Martha." He kissed her again, and then released his grip on her. "Enough about them. It is us I wish to speak of."

"Go on."

"I am old enough to be your father..." he began.

She snorted. "Barely!"

He gave a short laugh. "You flatter me, yet the fact remains that I am quite a few years older."

"What are you trying to say?" she asked. "I will always love you, even if you end up needing a wheelchair; not that I believe for one moment that will ever happen."

He sighed, then removed his jacket and placed it on her shoulders before taking her hands. "You make this difficult. Evey; my abilities may come at a steep price. A fast fuse burns down much more quickly than a slow one... and then is quite simply, done..."

She clutched his hands tightly. "What is it you're not telling me? Are you ill? Are you dying?" she cried, suddenly very certain that he had bad news to tell her.

He seemed stunned by her words, but quickly composed himself. "I am dying in that we are all dying, love," he finally answered. "But what I am trying to say is this; Whether in the heat of battle, or due to problems related to my genetic makeup, whether suddenly or slowly... chances are good that I will die while you are still young."

"I refuse to believe that!" she ground out, tears filling her eyes. "You're going to die a very old man; I just know it!"

"Evey..." He wrapped her in his embrace and kissed her forehead, then rocked her gently as she calmed.

"Evey, this is a simple truth based upon probability. You must accept that it will likely happen. You must be strong enough to cope if it should, for the sake of our child, if for no other reason."

"V... please don't..."

"Shhh...I'm bringing this up now because I feel I must. It is the right time. You have to understand completely the risks inherent in my very existence, in the life I lead."

"Couldn't you just be happy with the bookshop?" she managed to ask, yet already knowing the question was nothing more than the produce of wishful thinking. Still, she believed in premonition and if he were so certain that he would die in the near future…

"You already know the answer to that," he chided. "Evey, to be with me, you must accept the truth of what I do, of what I am. It is a part of accepting me, as you once told me you did."

"I know it's selfish of me to expect so much of you," he continued. "But I must know that this is what you are willing to endure in order to share with me whatever time I do have on this earth. It is the price to be paid for special memories like those we make tonight."

Evey shuddered in his embrace, now crying, although she struggled to do so quietly. She was attempting to hide her grief. She was trying to be brave and strong for him.

He gave her the time she needed to compose herself and to think, while he simply held her and rubbed her back.

And when she did finally sniffed and wiped her eyes, she suddenly had the words she needed. Staring at him defiantly, she let those words out.

"I would pay any price for even one more day with you," she stated. "Any price! But the thing you must understand is that the moment you leave me, most of me, the best part of me, will die as well."

He gripped the back of her neck and replied with equal passion, "You must promise me that you will live; that you will not throw away the remainder of your life!"

"I will do my duty and live for our children," she replied dully. "But I can promise you no more than that."

V nodded. "Then, when I die, you will accept it and be ready to move on?"

"I will never accept it," she said, fiercely. "I will not seek to change you and keep you from doing what you feel you must and I will abide by your request that I care for our children if that terribly day you speak of comes. In return, I ask that you promise me not to take unnecessary risks, for you risk not one life, but two."

"Ah, love..." His expression softened. "I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid for you. I will not take those risks you speak of." He kissed her briefly. "And I am sorry that I cannot promise you a long life together..."

She placed a finger on his lips, and then spoke from her heart, trying desperately to make him understand her feelings.

"In the pursuit of justice you will, at times, choose to walk in the shadows, but you will live the remainder of your years in the sunlight," she said. "You, my love, will remain strong and green as that evergreen tree over there, until the day you die." She gestured across the way to a beautiful tree, which dwarfed the ones surrounding it. "Like it, you will bend under the weight of snow, but never break. You will not shed your green leaves as the cruel winter approaches."

"But, unlike that tree, you will have children who adore you, friends who admire you... and a woman who would die for you."

She released his hands then and gently cupped his face. "Although your body will age, you yourself will remain forever young and vibrant; forever the man I love and want. I will never see you as anything other than who you really are; my hero, my very world, my one true love."

"That is why so little of me will remain to go on when you die. That is what YOU must accept."

As she guided him down to her for a kiss, she saw tears fall from his lowered eyelids just a second before they plopped down on her chest.

"Evey..." His voice broke as he said her name and then he was clutching her to him as he sought to stifle his own sob, his face buried in her hair.

As if on cue, the wind whipped up suddenly and the snow, which had blanketed the evergreen, was shed, allowing it to lift its branches high once more.

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They took their leave shortly after that and were pleased to learn that Finch had left the party with Martha. Dominic was still in disbelief over it and Michael, though subdued, was in far better spirits than when he'd arrived early that evening.

The taxi ride home seemed to take forever and they'd had to occupy themselves by cuddling up, holding hands and sneaking kisses.

No sooner had they entered the front door of their flat then V swept her up in his embrace, literally lifting her feet off the ground. Being suspended as she was, Evey found herself completely at his mercy.

She would have giggled at how effortlessly and quickly he spun her around in a dizzying arc, then pinned her oh so gently against the wall, but he somehow managed to capture her mouth with his own along the way, stifling any such sounds.

He was a man with a purpose and that purpose was made very clear when his hands lifted her gown, encouraged her to wrap her legs around his waist. They then settled upon her bottom, kneading her in a most stimulating fashion.

She gasped against his mouth, taking delight in the answering groan that escaped him. Then her head was being bent backwards as his mouth moved hungrily down the line of her throat. Along the way, he whispered endearments, alternately kissing, sucking and nibbling her flesh.

She nearly lost herself in the moment, would have in fact, if she hadn't caught sight of him through her lowered lids.

"V... wait..." she groaned. When he seemed not to hear her, she pushed futilely against his shoulders. "Wait... V, wait a moment..."

Somehow, through the haze of his desire, he heard her and stilled, lifting his head to meet her gaze. Then he squeezed her buttocks and pulled her firmly against the prominent bulge in his pants. "I don't think I can wait to carry you up to our bed... but if you like we can have a second go up there once I've had my appetizer..." he purred seductively.

She moaned at his words as well as the contact, but then stroked his cheek. "Your face... please take the mask off."

Some of the joy went out of his eyes. "Why ruin the moment?"

His words confused her; did he think that his true face would dampen her desire?

She shook her head. "Love, I want to be able to kiss your face, not the latex. Besides, I want you to stay by my side tonight; I don't want you to have to get up to remove it later. Is that too much to ask?"

He smiled humorlessly, but slowly lowered her feet back to the floor. "I promised that all you need do is ask," was his reply, as he made to leave the foyer.

"Do you mind if I watch?" she asked, following him through the doorway.

"If you like." He paused long enough to grasp her hand, twining their fingers together before leading her to his personal 'tinkering' room.

It had been part of a large storage room in the downstairs portion of their flat, but he'd divided it, giving himself a small room in which he'd set up his dressing table and mirror as well as a small workbench and the tools he used for fine work.

In the corner was a small sink that he visited first, removing a fresh washcloth from a shelf and wetting it with warm water. Placing it in a small washbasin, he squirted in some solution and brought it to his dressing table.

She moved to stand next to him as he sat at his table. She'd never actually seen him apply or remove the realistic mask and her curiosity, as well as her reluctance to leave his side, dictated that this time she would watch.

First he removed the wig and placed it on a mannequin. Then he took a small jar from the center table drawer and poured a small amount of its contents into the lid. Selecting a brush from a cup that held several of them on the tabletop, he dipped it into the liquid and began to apply it around the edges of the small latex appliance covering the space between his nose and mouth.

Carefully, he freed the edges from his skin, then brushed more beneath them, in that way loosening the piece completely so that he could slowly peeling it away.

She watched, fascinated, as he then moved on to the larger ones that covered his forehead, ruined ears, his chin and neck. Each was carefully cleaned and placed upon the mold of his head, which would eventually be placed back in line with the others on a nearby shelf.

Finally he went to work on the key appliance; the one covering most of his face, including his nose and cheeks. Starting at periphery of his cheeks and bridge of his nose, it was slowly loosened from the outer edges inwards until he finally peeled it away, revealing what was left of his true face.

She was well aware of the look he gave her at that moment; the way his eyes met hers in the mirror, filled with such anguish and shame. Even after all this time, all they'd shared, all the trust, all the love and respect; it was driven home to her that there were some things no human being could ever truly heal from.

She hugged him from behind and kissed his ruined right ear as he cleaned the piece and added it to the rest of the disguise on the mannequin head. Then she slowly swiveled his chair to face her as she plucked the washcloth out of its bowl.

Kneeling down in front of him, she gently began to clean his face, wiping the adhesive from his forehead and then gifting it with a kiss. From there she worked her way to each cheek, his eyes, his ruined nose, his mouth and chin. Each received her kiss once it was clean.

V's eyes closed as she cleaned each area, but opened each time she kissed him, watching her through lowered lids and sighing whenever her lips touched him.

"I'm sorry if I ruined the mood, but I just wanted you to be able to feel my kisses," she breathed near his mouth. "I promise that I'll make it up to you..."

So saying, she climbed onto his lap and kissed him greedily.

When they came up for air he smiled. "Mmmm..." he sighed. "I can see now that I shall never bear you any grudge."

"Nor I you," she soothed, noting how tense he was; the way his fingers fidgeted upon her. It was then that she spoke the first of a series of lines she'd memorized from Shakespeare's "As You Like It".

"Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humour and like enough to consent. What would you say to me now, an I were your very very Rosalind?" she whispered in his ear.

He pulled her away from him so that he could meet her gaze and answered with the next line, "I would kiss before I spoke."

As he moved to do just that, she stopped him with a hand to his chest. "Nay, you were better speak first, and when you were gravelled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to kiss. Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit; and for lovers lacking--God warn us!--matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss."

He stood then, lifting her to her feet with him, his expression intense. "How if the kiss be denied?" he asked, speaking Orlando's part.

"Then she puts you to entreaty, and there begins new matter."

A small smile was all the warning she got as he skipped a line. "What, of my suit?" he asked

It took her a second, but she adjusted and then skipped a line of her own, declaring, "Well in her person I say I will not have you."

His smile vanished instantly. He was all seriousness as he answered in Orlando's words, "Then in mine own person I die."

Evey shivered at the intensity of his declaration. This man lived through such words; he felt them deeply, using them quite often to express himself. She skipped a few lines and said, "But come, now I will be your Rosalind in a more coming-on disposition, and ask me what you will. I will grant it."

He pulled her up against his chest then and tipped her chin up so that she would meet his eyes. "Then love me, Evey," he breathed, substituting her name for Rosalind's.

"Yes, faith, will I, Fridays and Saturdays and all." She hugged him tightly as she felt herself becoming lost in his deep blue gaze.

He moved a hand down to the small of her back and pressed her hips against his own, leaving her in no doubt of his returning desire as he spoke his line, "And wilt thou have me?"

When she spoke, the words were not Rosalind's but her own; "Always and forever, for as long as I live."

Was that one of his little trills that escaped him just as his lips claimed hers? His hands came up to frame her face, allowing her no escape while he ravished her mouth. Long moments were lost as he stole away her breath, leaving her weak enough that he had to snake one of his arms around her waist and pin her up against him in order to prevent her from crumbling.

When he pulled away, she saw the raw emotion in his eyes. "This evening was a dream in which I was a man like any other, accepted like any other," he confessed, raising a hand to tangle his fingers in her short hair. "Oh Evey... for the first time in twenty years Larkhill, the fire and all the lonely, empty years that followed faded away. It was as though the me that once existed had suddenly returned and taken over...

"And I made you remove the mask..." It dawned on her how poorly timed her request had been. "Oh my God... I ruined the illusion, I ended your fantasy..."

He apparently did not like what he saw reflected in her eyes, for he gripped her chin almost painfully. "Oh no, Evey... no. Do not feel such guilt. It was as you said, merely an illusion, a fantasy and you were right to end it when you did."

She shook her head. "It would have harmed nothing to have let you indulge and all I can offer you in repayment is my promise not repeat my little mistake next time."

A small, sad smile appeared on his face as the gentleman in him came to her rescue. "Very well," he replied. "As you wish... But there is something I wish this night. I've a question to ask of you, a very important one which I must precede with an explanation of sorts."

"You can ask me anything," she encouraged him when he hesitated.

He took her hand and led her back to the stairs and up to their living area. Then he indicated she should have a seat on the leather couch before he turned to start a fire going in the fireplace.

She watched him as he coaxed the flames into existence, again noting his unease. After the joyful, playful, sensual moods he'd displayed all evening, it troubled her that he had again become as serious and tense as he'd been out on the balcony earlier.

When the fire began to gather strength, he closed the screen and joined her on the couch, taking her hands in his own, his eyes lowered in such a way that she knew he was looking at their hands..

"V, whatever is the matter?" she asked. "Ask me whatever you wish."

"I am," he replied. "...merely gathering the right words. I cannot bear the thought of wounding you should I choose them poorly."

She tugged on his hands until he looked up at her. "Just say what you need to. I promise not to jump to conclusions."

"Very well. Hear me out..."

"I want you to know that I would marry you if things were different. However, you already know that I do not believe that any government should oversee so personal and intimate a promise; therefore I will never pursue a legal union. Moreover, even if I wished to, I could not, for a close inspection of the records would then show that I did not legally exist until some weeks ago."

He shook his head slowly then. "You also know that, although I do believe in the almighty, I do not follow any particular religion. Therefore, I will not go through with a religious ceremony for it would be meaningless to me..."

Despite herself, Evey felt a lump form in her throat as she realized that he was pleading a case for not marrying her. She really hadn't thought it important until just now when it was being removed from all possibility.

Beside her V made a painful sound, having looked up and noted her expression. He squeezed her hands in quick reassurance, his eyes gently holding her own. "Love, I am not saying that you are unworthy or that I will not have you. Quite the contrary..."

To her surprise, he fell to his knees before her, gripping her right hand and suddenly pushing something into her palm, then holding it closed tightly about the item.

"I'm offering you my own proposal..." he continued.

"Not all that very long ago I promised you everything that I owned; my home, my books, my gallery, a train... I promised you everything except myself, for I could not know that I would survive once my purpose was fulfilled." He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. "But you saved me. I did not so much return to you than was pulled back to you... By your own actions, you showed me how desperately you wanted me."

"Yes," she breathed.

His eyes searched hers intently.

"This very night I asked you if you would have me and you answered..."

"Always and forever, for as long as I live" she spoke up, leaning in closer to him. "I meant that V; the words just tumbled out, but I meant them."

"How appropriate that they would tumble out tonight..." he murmured. "How amazing that you would recite those lines to me…"

"Evey, I love you." His hands shook where they gripped her own and then his fingers loosened their grip and instead encouraged her to open her hand.

Nestled within her palm was a gold filigree ring, its intricate, but delicate metal holding a single diamond framed by two garnets.

"Evey..." His voice was pitched low and urgent. "Will you be my wife; not in the eyes of the government, nor in the eyes of a religion, but in the eyes of the one who made us... and in both of our hearts from this day forth?"

She threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly as his own arms encircled her.

"Yes," she breathed in his ear. "Yes I will, husband."

He caught his breath. "Name me again."

"My husband..."

He slid the ring on her finger and then his hands caught her waist as he rose to his feet, lifting her and swinging her around in the tight space between the couch and the fireplace.

"'Happily met, my lady and my wife...'" he quoted as he allowed her feet to again touch the ground. Then he bent down to kiss her and before she'd even caught her breath, she found herself being carried to the bedroom.

He set her on her feet just inside the doorway. "Now where were we?"

She was spun around and pulled back against him. "Ah... that's better..." he breathed near her ear, encircling her shoulders with his right arm.

She shivered, then trembled as his free hand began pulling her gown up in back, exactly as he had out on the balcony earlier.

Then V's bare hand was running up her left thigh, higher and higher...

"How very flattering," he growled deeply right near her ear when his fingers reached the cleft between her legs and he discovered that she was already slick and ready for him. Then he tightened his grip on her and began lightly stroking the velvet between her legs.

She couldn't stand it; his teasing touch and his seductive voice already had her desperate for him, yet he was holding his hips away from her... She reached behind her to get a feel of him, but again he shifted out of her reach.

"V..." she moaned, pleading with him.

Still he held her fast, his embrace like iron and a sudden reminder of just how dangerous he could be; how inhumanly strong he was.

His teeth found the skin of her neck below her ear and he nibbled hard, then used his tongue to lick the sting away.

She endured long moments of this, and then suddenly erupted in a flurry of motion, fighting him for the right to touch him. Her legs were weak, but she put everything into twisting and writhing in his grasp.

She knew that if she could run her hand over him or press her bottom against him, that he would break and give in to her... She also knew that her current struggle was also exciting him; tipping the scales of want in her favor.

His breath was coming in little gasps despite that he easily outmaneuvered her every move.

"So you wish to play rough, do you?" he asked, in a dangerous purr.

Before she could reply, Evey found herself face-first against the bedroom wall; each of her hands clutched in his much larger ones and pinned on the wall up above and on either side of her head.

V's chest pressed against her upper back, pinning her tightly as he slid down far enough to allow him to nuzzle her neck. He sighed near her ear and then went back to nibbling her neck.

"Ahhh... my little one; what is it that you so desperately seek?" he asked, when his actions caused her hips to buck reflexively.

"V... please!" she moaned.

She suddenly found herself released and then spun around to face him.

He held his hands out to the sides, palms up and smiled at her. "I'm all yours... do with me what you will,"he offered.

Without a second's hesitation, she grasped his slim hips and pushed him backwards ahead of her until he'd backed into the bed, at which point she placed both hands on his chest and gave him a hard shove.

He went down onto his back, sprawling in a most inviting manner. The man actually had the audacity to put his hands behind his head and watch her with keen interest; as though daring her to do something!

So she did; she reached behind her and made a big show of slowly unzipping her dress, wiggling as the zipper dropped past her waist, for good measure.

A sly glance his way showed that he was holding his breath, his smile now gone, replaced with a slack-jawed look of lust.

She let the gown fall to the floor around her, leaving her in nothing but her garters and stockings.

He inhaled suddenly and then let his breath out in a shuddering sigh.

"What is it?" she asked in a sultry tone. "Do you want to run your fingers over me like this?" So saying, she slid her hands lightly over her breasts and down her belly to her groin, barely skirting that particular area and instead stroking her inner thighs.

"Oh my..." he groaned.

And then she was squatting before him, untying his shoes and slipping them off as he craned his neck to watch. Kneeling between his legs, she ran her hands up his calves and thighs to his crotch, then lightly skimmed the area and went for his zipper instead.

He bucked his hips, trying to get her to make contact where he now so desperately wished it and groaned as she managed to lower his zipper with a minimum of such contact.

"Evey..." he moaned.

"What is it you want, husband?" she asked, suddenly dizzy with knowledge of the power she wielded over him.

--------------------------------------------------

How could this be, he thought. How it it that I can want her so badly all the time?

She was kneeling between his legs and stripping him of his pants, a goddess dressed in hose and garters.

You feel thus because she owns your heart, an inner voice explained. You feel thus because you waited a lifetime for her, never once believing that she would arrive until the day you set eyes on her that dark alley...

"Evey..." he moaned, barely aware of what she was doing, only knowing that he yearned for her touch desperately.

"What is it you want, husband?" she asked then, her voice pitched low.

"Touch me, Evey," he begged. "Touch me now."

And she did; running a hand slowly up his thigh until it settled over his crotch.

His head sank back onto the mattress and his eyes closed as she massaged his sack through the black silk of his boxers. Then her fingers were hooking the flimsy material and stripping the garment form him.

The cool air against his skin was startling after the heat that had been building. Then he was covered in warmth and his eyes flew open as she straddled him. God help him, but her crotch was covering and surrounding his throbbing member as she made short work of his tie and the buttons of his shirt.

He couldn't help but buck against her, rubbing his length between her slick labia.

"Oh no you don't!" she admonished, lifting herself slightly and preventing a continuation of the exquisite sensation. "I plan on using you most cruelly tonight; on seeing just what you are capable of. Make no mistake about it; tonight you will back up the vows you made with a consummation for the record books..."

He could barely believe what he'd just heard... Was this his little Evey? His mind reeled at her words even as a whimper escaped him.

He hadn't just made such a sound, had he?

Then her mouth came down on his and it really didn't matter...

------------------------------------------------------

Evey began devouring his mouth, nibbling and licking before invading its innermost recesses, all the while supremely aware of the way he writhed beneath her.

Somehow his hands ended up on her hips, guiding her as she began to rub herself against him. She had her mouth on his neck now, nibbling and biting him as he'd often done to her.

Beneath her, he panted and groaned, writhed and bucked, every little movement he made inflaming her further.

She was lost in a world of pure sensation, aware only of the feel of him against her, of his voice, his smell... She barely even knew what she was doing...

"Ahhhh..." she moaned. "V..."

She was so close...and then he cried out and thrust hard against her, shuddering as he called out her name in turn.

Evey came, pressing against him and riding out the storm, content and yet sad that it was over so soon... She became aware that he was trembling beneath her; shaking as much as she was. His hands still clutched her hips, holding her to him, even as his mouth began suckling her neck and he began to move against her again; thrusting slowly.

She glanced down between their bodies and was taken aback at what she saw... or didn't see... for despite the fact that his rock-hard member was weeping clear fluid, there was no semen on his belly or anywhere else to be seen...

She looked back up and met his amused expression. "But you came... didn't you?" she asked, confused.

His voice was deep and dangerous as he replied, "That was just the appetizer."

--------------------------------------------

With a growl, V rolled them over, taking control of the situation.

"Oh yes... I came; I assure you that I did," he husked as he teased her ear with his teeth.

Truth be told, he was amazed himself. He'd never before climaxed without ejaculating, but he wasn't about to let Evey know that.

"Now I'm ready for the main course..."he growled

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When he let go her ear and reared back to look at her, Evey stared up at him in shock, both surprised by this newly revealed ability and deeply impressed.

Wide set eyes of the deepest blue stared back at her, their lids lowered in an expression of both tenderness and lust.

Then he was sliding down her body, kissing as he went; trailing down her centerline all the way to her mons.

"You could never use me cruelly," he said, breathing against her and making her squirm. "For, your touch is never cruel. Nonetheless, I will prove what you asked of me!"

Evey cried out as he began licking and probing her with his tongue. He was merciless, holding her in place, preventing her from escaping him, until some minutes later she screamed and came a second time.

As she lay there moaning and catching her breath, he shucked his jacket and shirt before crawling back up her length, again licking and nibbling as he went... Then he was kissing her and she felt his hardness pressed against her cleft as he aligned himself with her.

"Evey..." A hand on her chin forced her to look at him. "With my body I thee worship..."

Her back arched and she clutched at him, calling his name as he drove into her.

-----------------------------------------------------

Nearly four in the morning, V saw as he glanced at the alarm clock.

Evey lay against him, sound asleep and he kissed her head tenderly as a smile lit his face.

They'd made love on and off all night and he'd stopped only out of fear for the child she carried... In the end he'd made sure that she knew just what he was capable of... Hell, he'd even surprised himself!

She'd slept briefly between the times he'd given in to his hunger, but he'd remained wide awake the entire night. He was just too manic, too... happy.

That was it; he was happy. Despite Michael's news that night, he was content with what he had and happy for the first time he could remember. The future was unwritten, but now, for him it was, for the first time, filled with endless possibilities.

There was a song he remembered from years ago, before most American music had been black-listed...

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Evey stirred and stretched sleepily to find her lover nibbling on her shoulder.

She cracked open an eye and laughed to see his own eye staring back at her from just centimeters away. Affectionately, she reached out and rubbed his scalp.

"Go to sleep, you!" she snickered. "I've nothing left to give you; no appetizers, no leftovers..."

"What about dessert?" he chuckled.

"Nope, you ate it all up!"

He pulled her into his arms and they rolled back and forth while they laughed.

"Evey, there's something I really must do..." he said, suddenly kissing her and leaping from the bed.

He had his boxers on and was out the door, moving in a blur towards the front of the flat before she could even sit up.

"V!" she laughed, amused by his inability to contain the physical expression of his joy. After dancing all night, then shagging her near to death, he still was a powerhouse of overflowing energy.

But then again, that was V.

By the time she shrugged on her robe and caught up with him, he was seated on the piano bench, his fingers running over the keys and bringing an upscale melody to life.

It was joyful music that he played and he poured everything into it, his left foot tapping the beat while his right worked the pedals.

She moved to stand behind him, then wrapped her arms about his shoulders as she leaned against his broad back.

His smile flared brightly and then he added his voice to the music, singing:

"Well I started out...
down a dirty road.
Started out...
all alone."

"And the sun went down...
as I crossed the hill.
And the town lit up...
the world got still."

"I'm learning to fly...
but I ain't got wings.
Coming down...
is the hardest thing."

A huge grin lit Evey's face and tears stung her eyes at the words of the song he played. It was a song of hope, and of redemption... She leaned in closer yet and planted a kiss upon his cheek, drawing another smile from him and a loving glance, but not stopping his song for a second:

"Well the good ol' days...
may not return.
And the rocks might melt...
and the sea may burn."

"I'm learning to fly...
but I ain't got wings.
Coming down...
is the hardest thing."

"Well some say life...
will beat you down;
Break your heart...
steal your crown."

"So I've started out...
for God knows where.
I guess I'll know...
when I get there."

"I'm learning to fly...
but I ain't got wings.
Coming down...
is the hardest thing."

"I'm learning to fly...
but I ain't got wings.
Coming down...
is the hardest thing..."

FINIS

-----------------------------------------

Author's Notes:

The song V sings at the end pretty much tells it all; he's learning to live again and although no one can say how the future will turn out, he's now up for the journey we call life.

He'll take it as it comes, but with Evey by his side and a child on the way, he's slowly leaving the horrors of his past behind.

I will continue to write other stories dealing with interesting events in V and Evey's lives, but this is the story meant to be the final in a five story arc that includes "Like Light and Cloud Shadow", "Second Chances", "The Piano" and "The Meltdown".

Thank-you for reading and for all the wonderful feedback you've given me.

Appendix:

By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible; true, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal! Love's Labour's Lost: IV, i Happily met, my lady and my wife!

Romeo and Juliet: IV, i

"Learning to Fly"

-Tom Petty (From the album, "Into The Great Wide Open".