A/N: This fic started out as an impulse, then started to grow a solid plot outline somewhere after the third chapter. So bear with the jerky start, and do take the time to leave a review. Feedback is always helpful in finding out what I did right/wrong, and it's always heartening to know someone is reading. :)

An note on the characters: This is strongly moveieverse, except not. I've only seen the full version of V4V once, in a theatre many months ago. So some OOC and my personal interpretation of the characters is inevitable. Also, I'm making it 10 years instead of 20 that V's been doing this vendetta kick, though THE Fifth will happen in the story's current year. It is not GN!V/Evey/verse at all by any shot, especially since I've never read the GN. All info/theories are based on the info that the movie gave, and my own extrapolation. :)

Set a couple of weeks after Evey leaves V because of the interrogation.


It had happened very quickly.

One moment, she was in ducking out of the heat-smogged bar and running into the alley, and the next there was a knife at her throat and blood at her feet. The blade was dull but she could feel her pulse thumping wildly against it.

Despite it all, Evey wasn't all that surprised when V stepped from the shadows.

Darkness suited him. Bright red dripped wetly from the steel in his hands.

'You!'

Her incredulity rebounded off the cramped walls of the crooked alley. The mask tilted—but the knife at her throat had jerked at her cry and the man holding it started screaming again.

'I mean it! Stand back! Go—I'll kill her! Stand back! I'll fucking kill her!'

The Fingerman's breath moistened Evey's ear as he gibbered to himself. She could feel him struggling to hold her tight while forcing them both further behind the shield of wire mesh hanging from the fire-escape balcony above to the ground. Some fool had left it there, and now she might die because of it. Even V could not throw through thickly twisting metal.

How fortunate she was stripped of such fears only a month ago.

'You were following me,' she said numbly. Cloaked by shadows, the hard line of his shoulders was terrifyingly familiar. Like from her nightmares, that unseen face. A bright light, blinding her eyes. The fear twisted into outrage, like a red haze rising. 'You were following me!'

'Shutupshutupshutup,' her attacker snarled desperately, but she could not stop now, not when her words were bubbling out like blood spittle, the bile of dread in the back of her throat.

'You were supposed to let me go!' she shouted; there was a sob caught near the end. The man bruising her by the waist shook her a little in warning, but it didn't matter- she was already shaking, that mocking black silhouette, the water choking her lungs. The taste of cell-stone sweat and despair in the air. Terror stole her voice and distorted it so that each word was a harsh groan of sound. 'Let me go—I'll kill you before you take me again! Do you hear? I'll kill you!—'

The sudden spike of pain in the soft of her throat cut ragged her words. 'Shut up,' the man said again, less convincingly, then under his breath, 'I've never met you before, you stupid bitch. What the fuck is wrong with you?' His hand was shaking under her throat.

'If you kill her, what exactly would you endeavor next?' V moved closer as if neither of them had spoken. His voice was as cold and indifferent as the night. 'I'm curious to see what you've come up with.'

'I'll fucking kill her if you come any closer,' the man repeated dumbly.

'We've covered that,' V said in a tone as light as frost. He didn't move. 'And what next? Where would your leverage be? I assure you the moment she breathes her last is yours as well.'

'I'll—she… You won't let her die.'

'Neither will you let yourself.'

The blade had bit through Evey's skin in her attacker's tense panic. It scattered her waking nightmares, the pain jerking her back like a wild dog on a leash. The darkness faded, forced her back into the grim moonlit alley, away the grey ghosts of stone walls in her mind. Back to the face what her mind had balked to see—a frozen mask, Guy Fawkes, V.

'V,' she said without thinking, a plaintive call. Like a child upon waking in a dark room and afraid to find strangers in the closet, monsters under the bed. The man behind her hissed and his arm tightened convulsively around her chest and arms, her shirt riding higher. When she gasped and struggled to breathe, the pain in her throat spiked again.

'Stay still!' the man behind her screamed again when V made a slight movement. 'I mean it! You're both under arrest! I swear I'll—'

'I need no reminder,' V snapped. The blood of the Fingerman's previous two companions was trickling from behind him to between and around his boots, making for a macabre river. It pooled to where she stood, trapped by the man and dead end behind him, her feet was soaking in dead men's blood through the thin soles of her throw-away shoes.

A few feet away, V stood pristine and untouchable. There was no monster.

'V,' she repeated quietly, to herself, but his head turned slightly and Evey knew he had heard her. He was here. Him. The mask was ivory in the moonlight, a mockery of a grin. It was strange mix of hate and breathless longing; in a flash, she knew he was looking at her, only her, could tell in the split-second he stood as if bracing for a strike, a man hiding behind a mask, and she could not look away. He was afraid of her, she saw, and it did not make sense.

Then the pain returned and the moment was gone; V was invincible as the stars again and the rough pants of the man behind her filled the alley.

'Right, I'm the boss here, alright? I've got the girl,' her attacker said, shaky voice growing stronger when the masked man did not answer, 'so you're going to do exactly as I fucking say. Alright? Alright. You're going to drop all those knives, and you're going to walk ahead of us all the way. If I can't see you, this girl's going to get it, so don't try anything funny. I'll fucking kill her, you got it?' The man's voice went higher, tight with desperation. 'Don't fuck with me, you got it? I'm the one in control here! I'm the one in control!'

The man jerked the knife and Evey couldn't help it, a cry escaped her as the blunt blade cut open another the side of her throat. Something hot and liquid trickled down her collarbone; the surprise startled a gasp from her. She could not look at V.

An ugly sound came from where V stood. But when he spoke, the words came serenely as before, like a string of cool droplets into a pond. 'For your sake, I would refrain from doing that again,' he said, sounding distant. 'It does not do to mishandle one's only chance of survival.'

'I'll kill her!'

The terrorist seemed to consider. 'Hmm. Repetitive. But no.'

'What?'

'I said no,' he repeated coldly. 'I refuse your terms. And what would you do now, monsieur?'

French, Evey realized with something akin to shock. It surprised her how little she actually cared about the situation; her thoughts were raging around V—why is he here, how dare he be here, why is he always saving her, goddamnit-- more than the man holding her life hostage. V only used French when he was furious, or discomforted, or taken by surprise. For a moment, she had an impulse to tell him that it was really alright, she didn't mind dying, she'd already done it once, remember? He should be proud that she wasn't more afraid, really.

And then it all came crashing back: the lies, the ugly humiliation, the betrayal, all the more unforgivable because he said she needed it, that sadistic bastard had dared to say she wanted it. The bitter anger settled in her like an old friend and she kept silent. Vaguely, she was aware that her new captor had started screaming curses by her ear, and there was something sticky congealing between her toes, and a blade shaking dangerously at her throat, but all she could see was V through the spaces of the metal mesh. The darkness and long alley walls made a strange frame of V, like a snapshot of beautiful death: his head bowed slightly like a conductor's pause before the symphony, the rich and decadent cloak arching around him with the fangs of his instruments gleaming sweetly beneath. She found all fear had left her and there was finally enough space in her lungs to breathe properly.

So proud.

When the man had finally run out of breath and unimaginative threats, V took over with all the patient boredom of someone who knows exactly what he wants and how he's going to get it. Evey could feel the arm pinning her to him trembling in the transparency of V's apparent indifference.

'Bravo, monsieur,' he said. He was closer now, or perhaps it was the shadows that had shrunk away. Evey could not remember him moving. 'A fine performance. Perhaps now you'll like to give up? We can part in equal trade: the girl with me, and you with your life…' A smooth, extravagant gesture sweeping the air, 'No need to come to arms or harm, and we go our separate merry ways—well, except your previous companions, that is, but such are the hazards of the job, are they not?'

V's voice had adopted the lilting flow of a theatrical speech somewhere along the way; too smooth, too inviting. Liar, the thought came unbidden, quick as a flash of shame. Evey hadn't realized how much V was panicking. The irony was laughable in its own right.

The Fingerman started to laugh. It started quietly, a hiccup, then grew into a monstrous gurgling roar, laced with mad terror and a twisted kind of triumphant fatalism. He had to grip Evey by the back of her neck so the blade would stay level with her throat.

'You fucking liar,' he gasped. When he gurgled another choke of a laugh, Evey realized with a sick jump of guilt that she must have whispered the thought yes, he is aloud. Soft enough that V didn't catch it, thank god. 'You think you're going to bloody kill me, don't you? Well fine. Alright. I won't shit around. You probably will. But I'm going to raise hell before I go.' He stopped gasping suddenly, a strangled laugh cut off halfway. 'Drop those knives.'

V didn't move. The Fingerman jerked her head back rough so Evey's throat was bared, the scarlet striking against the pale skin. Evey hissed as something cool and alien pressed into her flesh.

'If I'm not going to get out of this, then I've nothin' to lose, do I?' There was a smile in the man's voice that spoke little of sanity. 'Drop 'em.'

The masked man hesitated, then Evey cried out again, instinctively, and there was a metallic clatter as the knives hit the ground.

'See how the tables have turned,' the man crooned by her ear. 'All for a pretty face. But I prefer girls with hair, little lady.'

He raised his voice to V, and there was a shrill crack running through it. 'Alright,' he said. 'Now take off that mask.'