Vivified: a Verbose Vignette
He shouldn't've done it. He really shouldn't've gone off and gotten himself involved with her or with what she had to offer. It was a horrid way for him to truly lose whatever he had left of himself. He didn't have any of the details of who he had been, why he had even been interred in the detention facility. He didn't have many memories of the first half of his life left, and now to ruin what he had left upon unrequited . . . well . . . affection. He was no longer sure if he could muster up anything past affection anymore.
And now he was going to lose himself in her.
One who probably didn't even care about his wishes.
She hated him, and it had been his fault.
"Mm?" He looked up from his book, instincts screaming at him to hide his emotions from his expression . . . when he remembered that he . . . didn't have a face anymore. "Is something the matter?"
Evey sat upon the armchair that rested at a ninety-degree angle from his reading couch, hands lightly clasped together, her gaze intend upon her fingernails. "No. Well . . . yes. Somewhat."
Placing a small scrap of paper within the pages to mark his place in the book, V faced Evey without saying anything, just giving her his full attention. He just didn't know what to say to ask her if she really wanted to confide in him her worries.
Bugger his inadequacies.
"V . . . what had your name been before . . . before you took this one on?"
She wanted to know about him? Why? Sighing, the man shook his head, the wig softly flowing around his mask with its own individual whisper. "I . . . I can't remember it anymore."
"Is it because you've called yourself V for so long?"
"No . . . circumstances caused me to forget it."
"What were they?"
He really didn't want to go into his past today, not after he had relived it to show her what he had to deal with in Larkhill, and his silence spoke that discomfort to Evey Hammond.
"You still don't trust me . . . even after I came back."
"I . . . Evey, please try to understand. There . . . what they had done to me . . . at the facility . . . every little part of it created someone . . . new. The pain, fear, hatred . . . all of it had erased who I had been before. I simply cannot remember."
Evey rubbed her hand over the slowly-growing-back hair that V himself had shaved off. He looked away from her sharply, again reminded of why she hated him. Of why he truly hated himself for what he had done to her. He heard a shifting of fabric, and his shoulders dropped a fraction. She was going to leave again. This time . . . he was sure that she wasn't going to return.
No. He couldn't let her leave again. He would die if she left him again!
Moving suddenly to try to stop her, he found himself staring into her smiling face as she sat beside him, taking his gloved hand into hers and tracing the stitching of the worn, supple leather. "Can you tell me why you have been avoiding me? I came back to help you prepare for what you said you have to do. Your Revolution. Not to watch you skulk around and watch me when you think I'm not aware of it. Not to hear you try not to sob with pain. I don't even know if that pain is physical, or . . . or otherwise." Her warm brown eyes stared into the depths of the mask, unable to see his own eyes. "V . . . what you did to me was . . . it wasn't how I wished to be rid of my fear, I admit . . . but it boiled the dross away. It shaved me down to the very innermost part of myself, stripping me of all my worries, my fears, my broken hopes . . . You helped me become someone more. You helped me not fear . . ."
"I recreated you to hate . . ."
"Then why do I not hate you? You gave me a window to look into why you are the way you are. Why do I not hate anyone for what they have done to this country? I pity them. Their minds are closed. Their actions are dictated through fear. I don't hate anyone anymore. I pity them."
"I don't need your pity," he whispered harshly, pulling away with a sharp movement . . . but then paused as he realized that her hands kept the black leather glove within them . . . his scarred hand, pockmarked with angry red reminders of the fire . . . it stared up between them, contrasting against the black of his outfit, and the dark blue of her own.
Evey placed the glove upon her lap, one of her soft, delicate hands reaching up to trace over his knuckles, the movement so tender and tentative.
He hadn't been touched . . . for so very long.
When she moved her hand back, he gasped almost so softly that it almost went unheard. But Evey looked up at his mask, her hands taking his uncovered one between them, causing him to bow his head and revel in the touch of skin upon skin . . .
"V . . . you never had my pity. You've always had a strange sort of affection from me . . . a strange but wonderful love that I never would have guessed that I could have held for anyone . . . I never pitied you. I never could be able to." She drew his hand up to her face, kissing each finger softly, then resting his palm against her cheek, closing her eyes.
The man nearly melted at the touch of her baby-soft cheek.
He leaned closer, his arm pulling her closer against his side as he rested his forehead against hers softly. No . . . he rested his mask's forehead against her. She smiled and whispered, "It's all right, you know."
"What is?" he whispered, his fingers tracing the strong line of her jaw, having wanted to do that since he had seen and met this intriguing young woman.
"That you don't want to show your face. That you are afraid of what I might think of you. That you don't want to feel embarrassed by the physical show of the struggle you've lived through. It's all right. I respect that. I . . . I understand that."
"Evey . . ."
She smiled softly, her fingers tracing the edges of his mask. Her answer mimicked his own. "Mm?"
He pulled his hands from her, pulling his other glove off to rest both palms against her face, holding her head still to look deep into her eyes. Biting his thin, scarred lips, he stood, his hands sliding along her arms to take her hands, gently pulling her to her feet. "Come with me."
The gloves were left upon the floor as he drew her to his dressing room. With a sigh, he sat upon his chair, and reached up to his face, loosening the ties to his mask, but then paused . . . unsure of this new action . . . seeing the reflection of the one person in this world whom he would die for watching him softly, yet intently, not wanting to miss a single detail. His fingers began to shake, and he couldn't bring himself to do it. He couldn't pull his mask off.
Then those bewitchingly soft hands of Evey's rested upon his own, and a kiss was placed upon the mask's cheek. "I told you . . . it's all right."
He waited until he was sure his voice would be strong enough to answer, and during those brief seconds, her arms had rested over his shoulders, down upon his chest, and her chin rested upon his shoulder softly. She spoke before he was able to. "V . . . I don't want you to die on the fifth."
"Evey . . ."
"V, listen to me. You asked me one thing, and I didn't want to do it, but I did. I came back. I overcame what had been resentment of the treatment you had given to me throughout this past year, and I became stronger for it." Her eyes bored into the black recesses of his mask. "V, please."
He bowed his head, and his hands went up again. This time, they pulled the mask off of his face. His head was still bowed, still partially in shadow, but his eyes looked up.
Evey stepped back, and her heart burst within her at the power within those eyes. The will in them, the force of true personality and the wariness of one who had been hurt one too many times in their life. As the hurt at her stepping back flooded his face and his hands went back up to replace the mask, she stepped in and moved around him slowly, one hand gently keeping the mask from going any higher than V's chest-level. She smiled ever so softly, looking into the eyes as they were, not through a reflection of them. Kneeling upon the floor, she looked up into his burn-scarred face, seeing how his nose was almost completely gone, his ears little more than lumps of flesh resting upon the sides of his face, how his eyes, while evenly placed, one wouldn't open all the way anymore. He had no eyebrows. The flesh was the same as his hands: angry, red, pockmarked . . . tender.
She reached beneath his wig, finding his chin, and tipping his head up to the proud set it usually sat at. And she spoke. "Your eyes are beautiful . . ."
For the first time, she heard his voice unfiltered through a mask. "Evey, please . . ."
"Your chin shows that you're more stubborn than I am, still stronger than I am."
Tears began to flow. "Evey . . ."
"Your cheekbones are high and wide . . . and these . . ." Her fingers gently traced the smile-lines over his cheeks, through which tears were finding a safe path down the poor, scarred skin. "You still find reasons to smile . . ." The cool fingertips traces the clumsy crow's-feet at the corners of his eyes. "To continue to smile tenderly . . ."
"Please stop . . ." he cried through a whisper, trembling.
She rose up on her knees, her hands cradling his jaw, her own voice a tender whisper, "You are the most handsome man . . . that I have ever met in my life. And it's the strength and beauty within you that shines through your eyes that makes me truly believe in you and the cause you and I must finish . . . and live through. I want you to see the other side, V. I want you to be there as we try to remake the England that once was . . . as the England that will have to be for our children."
He almost choked. "Our children?"
The shock clearly written over his face caused Evey to giggle. Her hands traced his scarred features again. "Not literally. When you got drunk that one time on the celebration of one of the old holidays . . . trust me, I set you onto the couch as you were and let you sleep it off tucked in under a warm quilt. I couldn't get you any further than there on my own, since you decided that it had been the opportune time to pass out. You can trust me on that. Whatever happened after I turned the lights low and went into my room is all upon your head." Her smile was soft and warm at the fond memory. It was the only time that she had been the nurturer in this strange relationship, and since then she had been doing small things to reassure him that she could help take care of him, too. So far, he was letting her.
"Yes, well, I . . ." V cleared his throat, looking at Evey's face openly, his own features showing hope that she wouldn't run off . . . now that she had seen the face beneath his mask.
"You wished that it could have been so? That can easily be arranged. I hope."
Clearing his throat again, V lowered his eyes in the expression that one who would have been blushing would take on. He could no longer blush. He hadn't been able to blush for a long time. And felt a slight pressure, a touch damp, upon his forehead. It matched the same sensation that he had felt upon his hand when they had been sitting . . . upon the . . . couch.
She kissed him. His face.
Looking up sharply, he managed to knock the remainder of his nose and part of his cheek into her chin. Evey yelped softly just as V did, and both of them released each other to press their hands against the paining sections of their respective faces. "Oh, God, now you really must hate me," V whispered through his hands.
But the sound of mirthful chortles reached him, and he opened one of his eyes long enough to see Evey sitting upon her prim little bottom, giggling the world away. When she saw him watching her, she only laughed a little harder, unable to stand from the sitting position that she had fallen into. His foot was in the way. So she rubbed at her chin with one hand, and the other was used to hook around his knee, using his leg as leverage to kneel again.
"V . . . you are absolutely, wonderfully, innocently the most comfortingly and most precious person I know," she managed to say without laughing.
"You've been drinking something, haven't you? Got into my wine again, I see," V teased, holding his hands out to her. She took them, and he helped her stand. That action was only to pull her to himself, embracing her, his knees upon the outsides of her own, and his face pressed firmly into her stomach, breathing in her scent, drinking in the euphoric vintage that was the presence and love of another human being.
Evey carefully pulled the wig off of V's head, gently placing it upon the wig-stand behind her. Her hands brushed over the scarred skin of his scalp, tenderly tracing scars that had occurred after the burning. He never spoke of how he was burnt. Never said how he had escaped Larkhill, either. But that was inconsequential. That he had survived the detention center was enough.
"V, I love you."
His shoulders went stiff, then began to shake violently. He was crying, and she felt the tears begin to soak the front of her shirt. Her hands continued their soft and tender exploration of his abused skin.
"I will always love you."
V held onto Evey as hard as he dared, and he whispered back, "I could never have asked of you to even begin to . . . to regard me . . ."
"You are such an actor . . . speak to me as the man, not as the ideal."
"Harsh words, mistress . . ."
"It's because I care for you that I can tell you the truth."
"I doubt it not," he whispered, eyes closed as he turned his head, now pressing his ear against her stomach and listening to her heartbeat. "Evey, I don't know if I can love anymore."
She was silent, but not still. Those infernally soft hands of hers coaxed him to continue. "I don't know if I will ever be able to love after Larkhill. After what they had done to me. I just don't know if I am capable of it anymore."
Evey let that rest between them for a while. "V?"
"When I said 'our children,' what were you thinking?"
"That . . . I was happy. But scared."
"Because . . . I . . . wasn't . . . I wasn't going to . . . be there for them. I wasn't going to be able to be the right father . . . I suddenly realized that I would have had a choice to either die for this new era to be birthed . . . or live so that the children could be birthed."
Evey smiled down at V, whispering, "What would you have chosen?"
"To be there for the children."
"You would have given up your vendetta?"
"Don't use this as a vice against me, woman. I will not be with you if those are to be your plans," he growled out, eyes opening but not to look at her. They lit upon the mask, now lying upon the floor.
"V, you're forgetting to trust me."
He growled something out again, this time incomprehensible.
Evey laughed softly, then sighed, leaning back to look into his face, her fingers playing with his high collar. "So you think that gives you leave to be with me at all?"
Caught by his own words, the survivor opened his mouth, then shut it, trying to find a way out without saying something wrong.
Evey saved him from that fate of saying the wrong thing to a woman. "Because you might have the permission anyway, if you but ask."
"Oh . . . God . . . Evey . . ."
She only smiled down at him, whispering, "But I don't have any of the supplies. You'd be risking my carrying a child tonight, anyway."
"I . . . you . . . but . . . Dammit, Evey, you are frustrating."
"Taught by the very best."
Swearing, V had to agree with her upon that. Huffing out a sigh, he stood and picked Evey up in one smooth movement, cradling her in order to breathe in the scent of her skin at the base of her jaw. Carrying her out and towards the one room she hadn't yet seen, he whispered, "Then if I tempt fate . . . I'll tempt it with a reason and a hope . . ."
"That's not Shakespeare."
"No," he agreed with a whisper, looking into her eyes from his close angle, still worrying about her reaction to his true face.
"Can you put me down?"
He did so . . . very, very reluctantly. But Evey shocked him once again, this time by pulling herself against his chest. She pulled back after a moment, her face angled just the right way to be kissed . . . as if she was inviting his kiss.
Before he could argue against himself, V pressed his thin lips against hers, then felt her kiss him back fiercely.
What that he could bottle her ferocity and tenacity . . . he would be set for life. "Evey?"
"But . . . on one condition?"
He winced. "With the mask on, I'm assuming."
Her face was the very picture of confusion. "Whatever are you talking about?"
V stood more confused than she was, and sighed. "Oh. Sorry."
"Stop worrying about your face and your appearance. I love you for who you are inside."
"I still don't understand that, you must know."
"I know. But . . . I don't want just one night, one instance."
"I want a lifetime of you."
V bit his lip again.
"And . . . I don't want to break my heart if I can't have that lifetime of you."
"All or nothing, then."
"So . . . I now have another choice . . . you . . . or my vendetta."
"And I can't have both."
"I don't feel like debating it right now, no."
Evey smiled softly, her face still angled up. "Compromise with me, and hold to your word. No arguing. Can we both agree to do that?"
He kissed her again, unable to resist that invitation, thinking hard upon what she might be able to ask about. V warred against himself for a long few moments, then with a sigh, he asked, "Would it be possible to agree or disagree after hearing the compromise?"
"Then tell me what you would propose this compromise to be."
"You would tell me all of your plans . . . and I do mean by all even and especially if the plan involves your death. You would tell me, and I will help you in bringing all of England down upon her knees to begin the new era. But you would not die. You would not have to be a public figure, or any more of a public figure than you already are. I . . . I would, if it is your wishes, remain here with you."
"I could never live another day without you," he breathed. "Is that all I would have to agree to?"
Evey thought the concept through again, a delicate frown placing her eyebrows at precarious angles to one another. V chuckled, kissing the small hill of puckered skin between her eyebrows. She sighed. "I just want to help you. And I don't want you to die."
"Then . . . I agree, Evey Hammond. I will show you all of my plans, every last one. And those which call for my death I will share with you, then discard. And I would most gladly have you live here with me. My home seemed more empty than I liked when you had left."
"My life seemed empty without you in it for those few months."
"I never want to be . . ." V cut himself off, completely sure that the words to follow that beginning of that sentence was by far too soon to be spoken. This was one thing he held as a certainty.
But . . . Evey whispered, completing the sentence, "Without you for another day of my life."
They shared a gaze, one of searching the other, tenderly hoping for the possibility that things would become different, and the world of tomorrow would dawn brighter . . .
V picked Evey up, tossing her over his shoulder and stalking off into his bedroom, hearing her laughing protests. "Compromise is done." He gently tossed her upon the bed. "Now about that tempting of fate . . ."
Her giggle became muffled as he closed his door.
Deep in the darkness of night, the clock ticking away comfortingly, V awoke with a start, breathing heavily. Evey's hands upon his chest calmed him, her kiss to his chin comforting. Her murmur was sleep-heavy. "What is it? Another nightmare?"
He pulled her into a fierce embrace, one that had such the tender touch upon it. "No."
The younger woman yawned widely, wriggling to get even closer to his warm skin.
"I dreamed . . . and in dreaming, remembered."
"Are you going to talk in circles or get to the point?"
"Mm. You're not very happy when awoken sharply."
"Find me one human who is," she retorted, but the severe tone was ruined when she yawned at the end of her sentence. "What did you remember?"
Evey leaned up over his face, her own lit softly by a candle that always burned in their now-shared room. "Te–"
A chiming ring cut her off, and she groaned, picking the phone up. "Evey Hammond."
"It's Dominic. We've got a situation, level two."
She sighed, falling limp against the silken pillows that she had shocked V with, which had replaced his wearing-thin Egyptian cotton sheets. The silk was sometimes easier upon his skin, and if he was uncomfortable at any time, it was nothing for Evey to get herself up and help him change the sheets. She rubbed at her forehead. "Seven months into the New Era, and we still have these level twos. Why did you have to call me in the middle of the night?"
"It isn't as if you were actually sleeping."
"Dom, get to the point."
"Well . . . You know that the former United States has stopped their Second Civil War. The Northern states have their leader, and . . . well . . . she's come here, and is demanding to see our leader."
"Which we still haven't decided upon, and are in the process of electing."
"My sentiments exactly," Finch's voice broke in. She was obviously upon speaker-phone in their joint office. "Evey, we need you to represent England again."
"And if we never decide upon a leader? You promised me that Austrailia was the last one."
"The Moot will decide themselves upon one sooner or later. You know that you're among those in consideration. They still feel that you have the right ideals to deal with these kind of situations in this rather precarious and shifting time," Dominic said, a smile clearly evident upon his face. He was enjoying her discomfort.
Bugger him. Evey turned the speaker upon her phone on as well, setting it upon the pillow between herself and V. "Well, Germany isn't going to have a good time of accepting another candidate anytime soon after that wonderful job you said I did with winning them over with promises not to become another fascist state."
"I'm afraid that we simply don't have a choice, Evey," Finch replied in his deliberate way of speaking.
"Tell me that," V said in a feigned freshly-awoken voice. "I'm not in the mood to lose my personal bedside fire for the third time in a week. Find someone else."
"You, perhaps?" Dominic shot back.
"I recall that you nearly reviewed your lunch upon my boots the last time we met."
"V!" Evey rebuked, trying not to laugh. Dominic had walked in with Finch, who was used to seeing V's hands as he either cooked for Evey or preformed some other task, usually reviewing papers or the like. Evey could burn a salad rather easily and without much encouragement. Besides. Cooking was something that V took pride in doing.
Dominic had never seen the result of severe burns that had scarred over without much medical attention. He had very nearly puked with gusto upon V's freshly-polished boots. Evey still found the mental image highly amusing.
"Oh, very well." V sighed. "How long must I give Evey up to you two?"
"Not longer than past noon."
"Twelve hours." V pulled Evey into an embrace, making sure to make a lot of noise while doing so. "Sadists."
Dominic spluttered, but Finch said, "I'll stall and tell them that you can't be reached. I'll have a car waiting for you at nine, if that's acceptable to you both."
V opened his mouth to say something, but found it blocked by Evey, who maliciously kissed him rather loudly before answering Finch. "Mm. Of course. See you at nine, Inspector." She turned the phone off and tossed it back upon the side table.
V's hands pulled her back against himself again, kissing her jaw. "Don't think you can get away that easily from me, pet." He curled up around her, pillowing her head upon one arm, the other gently stroking her abdomen. "Not after that wonderful kiss."
Evey let him hold her, feeling safe and secure in his arms. "You said that you remembered your name."
"Yes. Can I ask you something?"
"Can we name our son by this name when he's born?"
"Whose name was it?"
"My father's as well."
"Then our daughter will be named Selina, after my mother."
"Without a doubt," V whispered, his hand pushing through hair that was now long enough for most to be pulled back into a small ponytail.
"Before you tell me the name, V . . ."
"It's our anniversary."
"The fifth of November. Guy Fawke's Day."
"I love you."
"I . . . I love you, Evey."
She bit her lip, but the tears fell anyway. He felt a great amount of affection for her, she knew, but he had never spoken that he loved her . . . V fought within his own soul to recover those exhilarating emotions that fall under the name of love.
Turning her around, careful of her still-small twin pregnancy, V kissed her tears away, his eyes closed, his voice a whisper. "I once went by the name–"
And that infernal phone rang again.
The couple glared at the phone, and Evey reached behind herself to check who it was . . . then grinned, whispering, "Dominic again . . . shall we?"
V only snickered, whispering her name softly just as Evey turned the phone on. Ah, the joys of being free.