First Holiday
A "V for Vendetta" short story by Tina Price. V wants Evey's second Holiday with him to be much different from the first one, but where to begin?

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 PG. As always, constructive criticism and advice are always appreciated!


First Holiday

V sat before his computer in his first floor training room and accessed the heavily encrypted file he had only just created.

He was dressed in the manner of his Fawkes persona, for he'd gone out before the dawn and prowled the streets, looking for wrongs to right.

...And he'd found several.

Now he was filthy and tired, but finally able to think and after taking care of this new project, he'd be able to rest.

In light of Michael's revelations of the night before, he'd decided that he would begin a journal; one meant for his child when they were old enough, but also meant for Evey to read one day, if the unexpected happened.

The diary resided on a server that he owned, under an alias, of course. In the next few days he would make certain that Michael had the passwords necessary to assess it. His one last request of his friend would be that, when the time came, he saw to it that the file was downloaded and passed on to his family.

Rather than finding the concept morbid, he found it reassuring. It was his guarantee that no matter what happened, his children would know him and remember him. And perhaps, if he were lucky, Evey would forgive him for leaving her and heal.

Evey...

V leaned back in his chair and sighed heavily. He loved her truly and wished her the best for her own sake. As much as it hurt to think about it, he wanted her to live and love and find joy after he died. He wanted her to do all the things he might not get the chance to do...

Reaching behind his Fawkes mask, he dashed a tear from his eye. Enough of that! He intended to keep the journal as upbeat as possible while still keeping it honest...

Reaching for the keyboard, he typed:


22 December, 2038

Thus does this record begin.

Merely a week ago I learned of your existence, my most precious child. I know not whether you be male or female, but believe me when I tell you that it matters not; you are wanted and loved already, despite your current humble state of development.

Perhaps you will inherit some of my abilities, perhaps not. Perhaps you will look like your mother. Perhaps like me, as I once was... or maybe you will be the best of both of us.

For you right now, there exists endless possibilities, but in the end you will simply be YOU. And you will be loved.

I write this journal for you, my child, as assurance that should something happen to me, you will still know your father. And it is a heartfelt wish of mine that should the terrible happen, that you will care for your mother and fill her days will love and joy as I would if only I could.

I will assume that by now, you know the story of how your mother and I met; of how history unfolded and of how you came about... so I will skip the history lesson and simply provide the personal highlights, so to speak.

Last night, your mother and I attended the first ever Holiday Ball at the British Museum. Ah, but it was a sight to see and an event to experience!

Perhaps, looking at the archival footage, you will spot us in the crowd or on the dance floor. Your mother wore red satin, so look for the lovely lady so attired and I assure you that the tall, dour-looking fellow with her will be me.

Yesterday was also a day of great personal meaning: I married your mother last night after we arrived home. I married her not with paper, nor with religious ceremony, but with a vow which I shall forever uphold, for it lives within my heart and within my soul.

And she has vowed the same.

Right now she is in bed, still sleeping and hopefully quite exhausted from our celebrations of last night...

And so I sit here at my computer and begin my tales for you... and I must begin with a little story about the upcoming holidays.

Your mother was with me at this time last year, when it was an entirely different world and when we were neither well acquainted, nor comfortable with each other.

We were, at that time, both of us outcasts and I think that that knowledge may have helped her to accept the strange man she was thrown in with.

Oh, by the time the holidays rolled around, I was smitten with her already; have no doubt of that, but I was wary as well. Here I had a woman suddenly living with me; a man who'd known no companionship in all the days he remembered.

It was a novel experience, to say the least and an arrangement that became almost instantly indispensable for me.

No matter how late I arrived home after my nocturnal endeavors, there was evidence that I was returning to someone. My home was no longer empty, no longer lonely; even when Evey was abed, there was evidence of her presence all around me.

In short, they were the happiest days I had known up until then.

And what of your mum?

She treated me well. Of course she resented the fact that she was, for all intents and purposes, my prisoner. And of course she was leery of me. Why shouldn't she be? She knew not my intentions. Yet, over the course of just a few weeks, she relaxed and came to see that my gentlemanly manners around her were no mere act, but an outward sign of both my character and my respect for her.

And so the holiday season rolled around and one night, as I was out on the town, so to speak, it dawned on me that Evey was completely isolated from that holiday spirit that so infected the populous.

She'd said not a word, made not a comment about it...

I myself had never found any reason to pay these holidays any mind. I had no one to celebrate with; to gift and no one to do the same for me.

For me, until that year, the holiday season simply was.

Like the budding of leaves in the spring and their falling in the autumn, it merely existed as a sign of the year's progression.

But suddenly I had someone to think of and it didn't matter to me whether she'd given me the same thought.

I'd found that I had a very real need to thank her for sharing, even unwillingly, a part of her life with me. It was the greatest gift I'd ever had, you see...

Companionship.

Because of her, because she treated me fairly, I finally had someone to talk with, interact with; and most importantly of all, someone who did not pity me.

And that is why I decided to celebrate the holidays that year.

On several of my infamous visits to party members (and I shan't bother to tell you what happened to those individuals), I snatched various holiday decorations, something which I assure you, must have left the detectives at New Scotland Yard quite baffled.

(Note: I shall have to remember to ask Erik about this one day.)

As far as putting those decorations to use; I'd thought things through and decided that it would have been ridiculous to have your mother awaken to find a Christmas tree in the gallery. It would have been too much, too soon, so to speak. So I decided to keep things tasteful and understated; providing what I felt would be just the right touch of holiday spirit to cheer her.

I knew my plan was a good one when I returned to the gallery one night to find her on the couch watching a holiday special. She quickly wiped the tears from her face when she realized I was approaching her, but not before I saw how melancholy she was over the sight of the state tree being lit.

And so, on the eve of December twenty fifth, she awoke to the sound of Holiday music playing on the jukebox and the smell of fresh gingerbread cookies.

She discovered holly, fir branches and holiday lights strung in key locations throughout our home.

I had bayberry scented candles burning merrily atop a red, shimmery, Christmas tree-embroidered cloth on my piano, while I stood in the shadows of the kitchen, behind the screen and watched and waited.

She wandered in her pajamas, gazing in wonder at the decorations, the smile on her face warming my heart.

I waited until she went in search of me, wandering in the direction of my office, before I emerged and quietly moved towards her. She spotted me as I stopped to stand near the couch in the television room and she reversed her course to meet me, giving me such a brilliant smile that I instantly knew that I could never again view this holiday season as merely a way of marking the passage of time.

"V!" she'd exclaimed. "This is so..."

"Festive?" I'd asked, as she moved to stand right before me.

"Unexpected and wonderful," she'd breathed, laughing with joy.

"Ah, then this should be even more of a surprise," I'd replied, reaching behind me for the gift I had lying on the couch. As she moved closer, I actually dared to take her arm and guide her around said furniture to sit beside me as I presented her the gift.

"Merry Christmas, my dear," I'd said.

And I shall never get over her reply:

"V, I never had reason to tell you before, but I'm Jewish."

I'd frozen in consternation over having made so large an error of assumption.

Bless her; she'd laughed and taken the gift from my hands. "Don't be so shocked," she'd said. "How could you know? Besides, it doesn't matter; it's the thought that counts and I truly appreciate your having done all this for me."

In the next moment she had the present open and was hugging me and thanking me for the hairdryer she'd found within.

It had been something she'd wished for and I'd known it would make a nice gift; neither too much nor too little for the occasion, given our relationship at the time. Besides, she still had gingerbread and a wonderful day of holiday meals ahead of her.

And that hug she'd gave me in return was the best gift she could have bestowed upon me, for it warmed my thoughts many a night thereafter as I lay down and prayed for sleep to overtake me.

As a side note, in case you've overlooked the obvious, that hairdryer became the butt of many teasing jokes later on, for recall that I shaved off her beautiful hair when I recaptured her several weeks later...

And here we are a year later; together against all odds and this year I am determined to do this holiday up right!


V uploaded to his site, closed out his program and then shut down the computer. Already he was making a mental checklist for the day. He'd completed most of the preparations and had only to decorate and spring the surprise. But first...

He had to find a way to get Evey out of the flat.

Hmmm... It was the weekend, after all; perhaps he could tempt her with news of a big, last-minute holiday sale at one of her favorite department stores.

Wearing a smile beneath his Fawkes mask, he headed up the stairs, determined to wake his love in some pleasant and intimate manner.

Slowly he moved into the darkened bedroom and approached the bed. She had the covers tucked up around her neck and was on her right side, curled into a tight ball.

He stripped off his filthy jacket, then his silk shirt and finished by tugged off his boots and socks. Then clad only in his britches, he sat on the bed beside her before removing his gloves as well.

With a sigh of delight, he reached out his hand and began slowly stroking her short hair, then frowned; she was very warm and sweaty.

"Evey..." he leaned close and whispered gently near her ear. "Evey... my sleepy nymph... time to awaken."

She grumbled, then coughed, yet showed no sign of wishing to comply.

He removed the mask, revealing a sly smirk, then moved in closer and began reciting in her ear, close enough that his lips brushed her earlobe;

"But first I will release the fairy queen.
Be as thou wast wont to be;
See as thou wast wont to see:
Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen."

At that point, Evey began to giggle.

As he turned her towards him and came down atop her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and nuzzled her face against his neck.

It was a simple matter for him to find and capture her lips and he did so with an enthusiasm that quickly began to transform into sheer desire.

That was when she suddenly pulled away, turned her head and began coughing violently.

He sat back, pulling her to an upright position with him and then began gently patting and rubbing her back.

"It is as I had feared; my fairy queen is ill," he said, once she'd caught her breath.

Evey plopped back down on the mattress. "I've a headache as well. I think I do have a cold or the beginnings of something of the sort."

He felt her forehead. "You are running a temperature as well," he said. "I was going to suggest a last minute holiday shopping opportunity for you, but as it is you'd best stay in. We must have you well by the twenty fifth, even if you are Jewish." As she made to speak he held up a hand. "There now; I'll have no arguments. Now tell me what you'd like for breakfast and I shall serve it up to you on a tray and be the best nurse you've ever had."

Evey laughed again, which began another round of coughing. "Don't you have to be down in the bookstore today?" she eventually asked.

"I took the day off and arranged proper holiday coverage," he answered. "I wanted to have this weekend before the holiday to spend with you."

"In that case, would you consider doing something for me... since I'm a bit under the weather?"

"Anything," he breathed, lifting her hand to his lips for a gentlemanly kiss.

She sighed in reaction and then collected herself. "There are a few last minute gifts which really must be purchased before Monday. Do you think you're up for a little holiday shopping scrimmage? I warn you; some of those last minute power shoppers can be quite vicious..."

"Oh, I think I can handle them," he said, suddenly intrigued. "Even without my daggers."

Evey lifted her hand and began running it over his chest, obviously enjoying the feel of him.

She bit her lip in a most enticing manner and then purred, "Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms. Fairies, begone, and be all ways away. So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle gently entwist; the female ivy so enrings the barky fingers of the elm. O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!"

His heart suddenly racing, he turned her still captive hand over, bringing it back to his lips so that he could kiss her palm. He was, he reflected, truly a fool for poetry; especially when penned by the bard and most especially when recited by his new wife.

"Tarry, rash wanton: am not I thy lord?" he husked, quoting one of Oberon's lines to his lady wife.

Evey moved her hand so that her palm cupped his cheek. The smoldering look she turned upon him; full of adoration and yearning, was his undoing, even before she breathed, "You and no other..."

With a groan, he had her in his arms, silencing her lips with his own, even as he pressed her back into the mattress.


Evey sat at the kitchen table and tried very hard not to giggle at how flustered V still seemed to be after their morning... romp. Even now he was searching for his favorite skillet in a scatterbrained way that was very at odds with his usual sharp and aware attitude.

"What's the matter; still somewhat distracted?" she teased.

Turning, he leaned back against the counter and sighed as he met her amused gaze with an embarrassed one of his own. "You really ought to be ashamed of yourself, you know," he replied. "My poor brain is still fighting for a right to more of my blood supply; you might have caused me permanent damage..."

"Oh please!" she snorted.

"And you with a cold, of all things," he continued. "Have you no shame, woman?"

"It's in the dishwasher," she said as she turned her attention back to the notes she was scrawling for his imminent shopping adventure.

She heard him open the dishwasher and exclaim, "Ah! There you are!" before he turned his attention towards hand-cleaning the pan.

Only then did Evey let her eyes rove over him, visually caressing that form dressed only in red slippers and dark green pajama bottoms; the cheery holly-covered holiday ones she'd purchased him on a lark.

The bigger distraction for her wasn't the clothes, though; it was the hard muscled body revealed by his scanty attire. He'd still felt hot after their love play and had elected to go shirtless and robe-less. Having lost so many sweat glands in the Larkhill fire that had liberated, but at the same time horribly scarred him, it was more difficult for his body to cool itself after any exertion or under warm or humid conditions.

At times like this she was selfishly glad of it.

She almost moaned as she thought back on how their love play had ended; with him sprawled over the edge of the bed and her kneeling between his dangling legs. He'd cried out and literally nearly come off the bed when she sent him over the 'edge'.

And that had been after they'd already made love once and then taken an hour long nap while still entangled with each other!

Again, she greedily took in the sight of him and reflected on how much he had changed since they'd finally learned to trust. Not that long ago, he would have suffered miserably in his hot Fawkes clothing rather than risk exposing himself to her gaze while he allowed the cool air to ease him.

V glanced over at her just then and caught her staring. She was aware of how she must look; flushed, head propped up by one arm and a dreamy, far-away look in her eyes.

The frying pan clattered in the sink as it slipped through his soapy fingers, causing her to come out of her daze and sit up straight. Still, his eyes held her own and she saw in their blue depths some deep emotion she couldn't quite pinpoint.

"Evey... ," he husked. "Love, come here a moment, will you?"

She did as he asked and was surprised when he captured her hands with his soapy ones and began massaging them, their fingers slipping with ease against and between each others'.

He bent to kiss her and she met him part way. It was a short but fervent endearment, his eyes all the while holding her own.

"I'm a very lucky man," he murmured, as he began to rinse her hands beneath the running water, his fingers running sensuously over them. "There was a time when I never could have imagined thinking, let alone saying such a thing as this, but it's true; all that has happened to me, all those years alone... I can accept them knowing that I am now blessed with you."

"Oh, V..." She threw wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him fiercely, as his own arms came around to encircle her. After a time, she whispered, "Let's see if you still feel that way after you do battle with some holiday shoppers."

He chuckled loudly, then planted a kiss on her cheek before swatting her derrière and turning back towards the stove. "You seem to be feeling better. Perhaps you should come along to protect your poor, ignorant spouse, hmm?"

She immediately returned to the table and dropped wearily into her chair, listlessly touching the menorah that V had procured just the week before. "I'm a little bit better," she admitted. "But I still have a headache and feel somewhat feverish."

He glanced over his shoulder. "That's quite all right," he soothed. "If you're not up to it, then I shall simply have to muddle through and dazzle you with my abilities. I intend to return home with everything on your list."

"My, we have a high opinion of ourself," she replied with a smirk.

"My dear; you forget that I used to shop at Sutler's 'My Stash' Store."

She laughed. "Neither Sutler nor his guards were little old ladies who lived the entire year for the chance to get the best possible price on the gifts of their choice!"


"Evey," his voice called from the stairs. "I'm leaving, love."

She'd been sitting on the sofa reading while he showered and then got made up for a public excursion, but at the sound of his voice, the book was quickly tossed aside as she rose and moved swiftly towards the stairs.

He was downstairs, waiting for her in the foyer. Sunlight streamed through the window and lit his hair a golden color. His face had been restored through the use of his clever prosthetics and he was dressed casually in blue jeans and a gray t-shirt.

It was the first time she could recall ever seeing him dressed in such a way and the surprise of it actually stopped her a few stairs from the bottom.

"Well, how do I look? Am I presentable?" he asked, as he removed his black wool coat from the coat rack and began to pull it on.

She flew down the stairs and threw herself against him while he was still entangled. "You know perfectly well that you look irresistible," she chided, hugging him and laughing as he fought to free his arms without damaging the coat.

"Really?" he asked, finally able to hug her back.

"Your ass in those jeans is well nigh irresistible,"she breathed. pulling him down to her and kissed him fervently.

"Mmmm, I must find a reason to dress down more often," he sighed when she let him up for air.

"I have something for you..." she said, relishing the intrigued look and the quirked eyebrow her statement invoked. Reaching into her robe pocket she brought out the sunglasses she had hidden there and held them out to him.

"You don't usually venture out this early in the day and I know the sunlight bothers your eyes," she explained.

He took the glasses and examined them. "They're wonderful," he sighed, putting them on. "There; that's better!"

She had to admit that he looked good in them; she'd picked a shape that was flattering for him and in the next instant her gift had earned her his sincerest thanks; a slew of kisses and nibbles interspersed with whispered endearments.

And then he opened the door and was gone.

Evey ran back up the stairs and watched through the window until she was certain that he was well on his way and not returning for any forgotten item.

Then she went running for the hidden box of items she'd stashed down in the stock room, all pretenses at being ill dropped.


V walked down the street and began humming to himself, his mood as cheerful as could be. He'd been pleasantly surprised and pleased with everything about the day so far; his romp with Evey, his new sunglasses, the warmth of the sun despite the chill in the air.

It was going to be a marvelous day!

He just needed to figure out how he was going to decorate the apartment without Evey knowing…Her request for him to complete her shopping had really put a wrench in things.

A short while later he knew that he was going to need some help; several of the items near the top of his list were to be purchased at a ladies lingerie shoppe.

He'd read the list and nearly dropped it when he got to those items. Good lord; did women actually purchase such things for each other? Why?

Worse yet; next to each item was a size and a little note that said simply, "Pick out something tasteful, but sexy".

And he'd tried, God help him, he'd tried.

He'd actually gotten up the courage and entered the store. With the list clutched in his fist, he'd tried to ignore the women who wandered about with assorted see-through items in their hands and shot him appraising looks.

He'd muddled through on courage alone up until it he actually started looking over the selection, then he'd quickly become lost.

Everything in the shoppe was tasteful and sexy... very sexy! How was he to choose? How was he to walk when he became aroused every time he imagined Evey in one of these?

Just then his eyes lit upon a sheer, black bustier with red ribbons and matching split-crotch undies and he'd moaned.

God help him; he'd hoped no one had heard that!

It was overwhelming! It was embarrassing to have the women shoot him such knowing looks and brush against him as they squeezed by in the narrow aisles.

The final straw had been the saleswoman who'd offered to help him by telling him that she could have one of their models show off anything he was interested in but could not decide upon.

"Models?" he'd stammered.

"Yes," she'd said, confirming that he'd heard her correctly.

Without a word, he'd turned and left the store.

He'd been lurking outside and trying to decide what to do about the problem for the last thirty minutes. He was determined to do his best with regard to Evey's list and so simply forgetting these items was not an option.

Perhaps he could come back after closing? No! This was no longer Sutler's government and these were not items he required in order to survive or further a plan.

Then again... he could take what he wanted in the dead of night and leave cash behind. That would certainly confound the Yard! But no; as intriguing as such a fantasy scenario was, he would not go there, not over ladies' lingerie.

What he needed was some help. He needed to call one of Evey's female friends, but the only problem was that he didn't know who was going to be gifted with these items, so he couldn't just phone anyone. Nor could he phone Evey and ask who these gifts were for; it would tip her off that he was having difficulties...

With a sigh, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Michael.


Less than hour later both he and Michael stood in front of the shoppe, shoulder to shoulder, staring at it.

"How did you say you got yourself into this?" Michael asked.

"I swore that I could finish Evey's holiday shopping for her without any difficulty."

Michael grimaced. "Please don't ever do this again."

V's mouth twitched and then settled back into the frown it had worn for the last hour. "Don't you worry on that account," he grumbled.

"Read me the list."

V pulled out the crumbled paper. "Five thongs, a bustier set and a baby doll nightie," he said as softly as he could, so as not to draw anyone else's attention.

Michael looked his friend in the eye. "You do realize that these things are for Evey to wear, don't you?"

V blinked rapidly in confusion and then gave him a skeptical look. "If that were the case, she would no doubt prefer to do this shopping herself," he reasoned.

Michael couldn't help but laugh at his naivety. "Oh you poor, misguided man..." he managed to choke out. "This is really YOUR present. She's allowing you to choose what YOU want to see her wearing."

Again V blinked. Then his mouth hung open as the magnitude of his current shopping foray sank in. "Oh..." he finally breathed, flushing visibly in the areas not covered by his latex appliances.

"Right! Nothing for it but to get this over with," Michael declared, squaring his shoulders. "Remember: women love and admire men who brave lingerie shoppes. Just pick out those things that you really want to see her in and we should get through this quickly."

"Oh dear lord," V said in a strained voice. "I may end up buying out half the store."

Michael chuckled. "Well then, I can help you pare it down to the required number of items."

"Actually I'm not entirely certain that I want you seeing what I pick out for her," V murmured. "It just wouldn't be right for you to know what Evey is going to be modeling for me."

"No problem. I'll just wait here for you, then."

V's hand shot out and with an iron grip grabbed a handful of his coat just beneath his chin.

"Like bloody hell you are! I am not going in there by myself," he groused. "Just keep your remarks directed towards constructive criticism and forget about making any recommendations."

Together, they advanced towards the door, Michael laughing the entire way.


By seven in the evening, V had had enough. He also, fortunately, still had Michael by his side. After their escapade in the lingerie shoppe, his friend had vowed to see him through to the end of the dreaded list in the hopes they might get it done both correctly and quickly.

Unfortunately, they still had an item remaining on the list and although they had correctly managed to obtain all the other items, they had not accomplished their goals in a timely manner.

V shuddered to think how far behind he would be had Michael not stayed to help him and he took a moment to thank his friend.

"Don't thank me yet," Michael smirked, putting down his diet soda. "We still have one last thing to purchase. Besides, I stuck around as much to watch you quietly panic as to help you."

"That is hardly the way to cement our friendship," V grumbled, flicking a french fry so that it flew across the food court table and struck his friend in the chest. They had taken a break in order to catch a bite to eat, though V was taken aback by Michael's insistence on staying in the shopping mall.

Michael laughed. "Say, are you going to eat those?" At the sneer he received in answer, he reached across the table and took possession of the fries. "Oh come now; the food isn't that bad!"

"As a physician I would think that you would be encouraging those you know to eat healthy," V sniffed, chastising his friend.

"Hmmm... you seemed to have no problem with that gyro; in fact, I don't see even a crumb left on your plate," the doctor said, still looking very amused.

Ignoring him, V again looked over his list, assuring himself once more that, so far, they'd done a very good job. Then he looked across the table at his friend. "Where should we begin looking for the final item?"

"What exactly is it that we're looking for again?"

"A Color Shifting - Scarab Thinking Putty," he sighed.

"What the bloody hell is that?" Michael mumbled around a mouth full of fries.

"She did this on purpose..."

"Pardon?"

"Evey; she must have requested this item specifically to test my shopping prowess," V said, his voice even and not sounding in the least bit annoyed.

Michael stared at him. "You're not upset by that?

"Oh, I am a tad bit vexed," he answered with a smile. "But I do so love a challenge. Besides, she will pay the piper when I succeed despite her efforts."

"And you really think that Evey listed that... 'thingy' just to make things difficult for you?" Michael asked, doubtfully. "I just don't see her doing that."

"She's a sly one..."

His friend wiped his mouth and stood, then reached for his coat. "Well, let's get going then," he replied. "I've a few places in mind where we may begin our search or at least get some questions answered."

V stood as well, shouldering his dozen shopping bags. "Excellent," he replied with a wicked smile.

One last item and he would be finished.


They finally found the item at the third store they consulted and counted themselves fortunate indeed to have snagged the very last one. After ten minutes in cue, they finally exited the building with the final prize.

After locating Michael's automobile, they stuffed all the shopping bags in the boot, save the last one and took their seats within, a long collective sigh filling the passenger compartment.

As Michael started up the engine, V fished the last item out of the bag and opened it's box. His friend was soon leaning towards him to also gaze at the very strange gift.

"What does it do, V?" he asked, as V poked the iridescent blue glob with an index finger.

He pulled a small card out of the box's lid and read, "Color Shifting Scarab Thinking Putty... Shimmering like the Scarab beetle of ancient Egypt, this Soothing Blue has Cerulean highlights and morphs into a royal purple right before your eyes! Squeeze it! Bounce it! Tear it! Mold it! Give it as a gift today!"

They looked at each other.

"We spent an hour tracking this down?"

V nodded slowly. "I told you; she's sly and obviously up to something..."

Michael picked up the putty and watched it turn a deep purple color in his palm. "Maybe not; this could be for her employer, don't you think?" He poked the putty with a finger, leaving an indentation.

V removed his gloves and then reclaimed the gift from his friend. "Maybe..." he sighed, rolling the mass back into shape. Under his heated touch it turned almost black. "However, I still think she's up to something..."

"Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that we deserve a little congratulatory drink. It's eight o'clock; that gives us at least two hours before she starts looking for you. How about we stop at that cozy little pub just down the street from your place?"

V closed the gift box and placed it back in the shopping bag. "That is a most excellent idea, my friend," he replied. "And I am buying. It's the least I can do given all the support you've lent me this day."

Michael smiled and put the vehicle into gear.


Evey finished putting the last touches on the Christmas tree and stood back to admire all her hard work, amazed at all that she'd accomplished.

All the living area windows were twinkling with strands of tiny lights, tinsel and festive décor were tastefully placed throughout the home and candles burned in lovely centerpieces on the dining room table, the mantel and the piano. Spiced apple potpourri simmered on the stove, adding much needed moisture to the dry winter air and deliciously scenting the home.

But her masterpiece of the evening was the eight foot living Christmas tree she'd had friends haul up to the living area. It had taken her hours to decorated it so carefully and it looked and smelled wonderful!

Atop it was an Angel in gold-gilded white robes, her glittering white wings moving slowly in counterpoint to her arms, which lifted a small electric candle. She was stunning; Evey's prize acquisition from many days of surreptitious shopping.

She sighed with pleasure. All the hard work was well worth it. Her lover, her husband, would be surprised and touched by this. Well did she remember a time when he'd done the same for her and she suspected he'd planned on doing it again; but she'd beat him to it.

The shopping trip had been a brilliant idea if she did say so herself. It had bought her all the time she'd needed. Speaking of which...

She checked the clock and did a double take. It was already shortly after eight; how could that be? She'd really lost track of the time!

Moving to the window, she looked out on the snow covered street.

Where was V?

Maybe she'd made the list too difficult? She knew he was prideful in many ways; he wouldn't rest until he'd obtained everything she requested. Still, the stores would all close by ten, so he should be turning up soon.

She just started to turn away from the window when the telephone rang.

"Hello?" she spoke into the receiver after having run for it.

"It's me, Love," came V's voice from the other end. "How are you feeling?"

"I still have that irritating cough, but otherwise I feel much better," she answered with a smile on her face. "Where are you? Did you finish the list?"

"Oh yes; I've finished the shopping and I've gotten together with Michael at a pub. I hope you don't mind; I thought I'd spend some time with him. He said he would give me a ride home as well."

"That's wonderful, handsome," she replied. "It's been a while since you two got out together. I hope you have a wonderful time!"

"That's my girl," he husked. "I'll see you soon."

Evey hung up the phone and sighed, happy that the two men were back together. Then she set out to have a nice soak in the tub.


It was shortly after ten when, despite the protests of several women and quite a few men who were hoping to win their money back, V gathered up his winnings and hauling Micheal behind him, exited the pub.

He'd had a most enjoyable wrap up to what had been a not-so-enjoyable day.

After a few beers, Michael had insisted upon a game of darts and once word got out that the new fellow seemed unbeatable at the game, challengers had appeared left and right out of the woodwork.

One by one, V had put them away, his aim unerring and as his winnings had grow tremendously, the women in the bar had gathered around and cheered him on; much to the dismay of their dates.

Michael had laughed and laughed at the way things had played out. "You just cannot help yourself, can you?" he'd asked.

"What do you mean?" V had responded, while working on his beer.

"Are you certain you weren't once an actor?"

V had smirked. "Quite certain. I can play a part quite well, my friend, but that is all this is; a part. I am no attention-seeker and besides, it was you who insisted that we play darts!"

"And I cannot regret it," Michael had sighed. "I haven't had this much fun in a very long time."

And here they were; an hour later emerging onto the snowy street, surprised at the bite of the air and the white beauty of the snow covered streetlights and trees.

Michael dropped him off a block away from the shop at his request and as they exited the car and Michael opened the boot, he spoke, "I'd like to see you and Evey on New Year's Eve."

V collected his shopping bags and gave his friend a measuring look. "What did you have in mind?"

"You two, myself and Audrey, dinner the Belvedere and then partying in the New Year at Wessex House; all my treat!"

"There's no need for you to..."

Michael cut him off. "I insist! It will be well worth every pence spent so I'll hear no arguments. Will you think it over and phone me in the next few days?"

One of V's eyebrows arched as well as it was able. "Oh... I think I can risk saying yes right now."

"Excellent!"

"But, really, Michael... Audrey?"

"What can I say? I like being Henry Higgins. Besides, I can't wait to see what happens between the two of you!" Michael laughed.

V shook his head. "Quite the masochist, aren't we?"

They bid each other good evening and V began the short trek home.

It was when he rounded the corner that stopped and laughed at what he saw; Evey had fairy lights up in all the apartment windows facing the street and he could see the lit form of a Christmas tree in the background.

"I knew it," he chuckled. Sure enough, his shopping trip had been meant as a diversion as much as anything else.

Good thing that he had half expected it... and prepared a fall-back plan. He headed for the back door so that he might drop of his gifts and collect an item or two...


It was nearing ten thirty and Evey found herself becoming impatient. Sleep was sneaking up on her and she wanted to be awake when her man arrived so that she could see the look on his face.

The phone rang and she groaned. "Please don't tell me that he plans on staying out until the wee hours!" she groused.

Sure enough it was him, but not for the reason she feared.

"Evey, there is the most amazing thing happening out here!" he exclaimed.

"Where are you? What is it?" she asked, instantly awake and excited.

"I'm out on the street out front. Throw on a coat and come out here; this has to be seen to be appreciated!"

"I'm on my way!" She hung up and raced to the front window, where she clearly saw him on the street waving at her. Then she raced to the bedroom to pull some pants on under her nightie before backtracking to the coat closet for her heaviest coat.

Down the stairs she flew, skidding into the foyer and pulling on her boots before disarming the alarms and letting herself out the door.

When she reached V, she was gathered in his arms and pulled tightly against him for a sound kissing. When he let her up for air, she smiled up at him ant then looked around them with a suspicious expression.

"Well? What have you dragged me out here to see?" she asked.

Without speaking, he removed a conductor's wand from his coat, then gave her quite an evil grin.

"Oh no!" she laughed; she'd seen that wand before.

He nodded, then tapped it on the nearest lamppost and almost immediately music began to swell from a speaker...

...At the front of the book shoppe!

An angelic sounding choir could soon be heard singing S'vivon and as she recognized the traditional Hanukkah song, the front of the shoppe lit up suddenly in blue and white lights. It was about as small and tasteful a display as V was capable of, yet wonderful enough to bring tears to her eyes.

She hugged him fiercely. "Thank-you; its wonderful!"

He squeezed her back. "I wanted to do it for you and remind this community that they are now free to celebrate as they see fit."

"Well, it isn't up to your usual standards; where are the fireworks?" she teased.

He sniffed, pretending offense. "My dear, we don't want to disturb the neighbors, do we? Besides, we would still like to have people actually shop in our book shoppe, so scaring everyone off just will not do!"

She sighed. "I haven't heard this song in so very many years. It's beautiful."

"And the recording is now yours." He hugged her again and then led her towards their flat as the music faded away. A small crowd had gathered to look at the lights and listen to the music and there was a smattering of applause and appreciative calls as it ended.

Once inside, they hung their coats and kicked off their footwear, then Evey led him by the hand up the stairs.

He took in the lights, the tree and other decorations. "You've been a very busy girl while I've been out doing the bloody shopping," he joked.

"Yes, but apparently you still found a way to trump my surprise," she countered.

"That will teach you to think you've gotten the best of me," he replied, pinching her bottom. "The menorah always seems to have burned down before I got home. I'm quite disappointed by it. Perhaps you've a way of cheering me up?"

She placed her hands on her hips and glared at him. "I've filled this place with Christmas cheer and you ask for cheering up? You've got cheek!"

He scooped her up and strode to the tree, then tumbled them down before it. Evey found herself on her back with him pinning her, the tree branches twinkling right above them. "There is cheery and there is cheery, my dear," he rumbled near her ear. "Now don't you find this much... more... cheery?" Between words, he nibbled her ear and neck, making her squeal and squirm.

"Oh yes; I see your point now," she sighed.

Again he nibbled her neck. "Not yet you don't; but I promise that you shall..."

Laughing, she grasping his head, pulling him up to face her. "Merry Christmas, V."

"Happy Hanukkah, my love," he replied, as their lips met.

FIN

But first I will release the fairy queen...

-A Midsummer Night's Dream: II, ii