Disclaimer: V for Vendetta belongs to Alan Moore, David Lloyd and DC Comics and anyone else I've failed to mention. I own nothing, nothing, nothing...
Evey barely registered the creaks and rattles of the lift as it descended to the Shadow Gallery. Hollow and husked out, she held onto the crisscrossing lattices of the metal frame of the cubicle to support her. With detachment, she observed hard goose bumps covering every millimeter of the skin on her arms and her nipples standing out in sharp points underneath the filthy orange prison rag. The rain was freezing. Despite her hold on the sides of the lift, deep shivers unsteadied her legs.
From behind her, she felt V's gloved hand come to rest underneath her elbow to keep her from collapsing. Evey had purposely turned her back on him so she could collect herself, knowing that looking at his perpetually grinning mask would make equilibrium impossible. After steadying herself, she felt him remove his hand and was grateful to feel the blanket he was holding carefully placed on her shoulders. He had been silent since the rooftop and Evey was appreciative of his tact.
V pulled back the retractable metal door of the lift when it came to a halt and held it open for Evey to step through. As he followed her, V watched her hesitant progress with a critical eye, unready to consider what he had seen on the roof.
She's holding her left arm close to her body, not broken, but it's likely the shoulder is dislocated (that was from when you were interrogating her and you were rewarding her refusals by twisting her arm further and further out behind her).
Her right ankle seems tender but she is putting some weight on it so it's probably just sprained (well, of course it's sprained! you remember, you threw her into the cell like a rag doll and before she could break her fall…).
I need to tend her injuries and examine her more closely to see if there are others (the look she'll give you when you tell her will be priceless and only what you deserve, monster).
It was necessary to increase the severity of the beatings in order to bring this to an end and as much as she hates me it is a fraction of how much I hate myself!
V silenced the voices in his head. After years of practice, he could do this very easily and he no longer wondered if voices were due to his isolation or mental instability. He turned his attention back to Evey and noted that despite her injuries she was holding her back straight and her chin was tilted up. If he needed a reminder of what the months of torture had been for, he needed only remember watching her on the roof. The hint of bravery he saw in her at Jordan Tower was now evident in her every movement and could have only been revealed through this cruel lesson.
And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of (1).
A monster I may be, but even monsters can love.
Evey stopped and turned around to face him. The mask was always inscrutable but his voice and graceful body language were usually enough for Evey to get some idea about how he was feeling. Silent and standing with his hands clasped at his waist, as he was now, he could be thinking about bombs or Shakespeare for all she knew. Maybe none of this seems out of the ordinary to him.
"Evey?" His voice was cool and soft.
She shook her head and then looked down at her grimy hands and her orange garb with disgust. "I'm going to get a bath."
He nodded and resisted the urge to ask her if she needed help. She will want to do this herself.
As Evey made her way to the bathroom she had used when she had first come to the Shadow Gallery (a thousand years ago, right?), she felt disorientation as she passed the couch where she and V once had animated discussions on books and music. She began to feel her aches and pains returning and relished the idea of sitting in the tub for a long soak. She recalled being doused with a fire hose once a week with either freezing or scalding water and felt a surge of hatred for V.
The jolly voice of one of V's more brutal guard personas spoke in her mind. "Don't want to waste too much water on little whore like you but the stench is killing me. You smell like fish that's been sitting in a garbage bin for a week."
Jenkins. He had been the one who she thought was going to rape her. Evey couldn't remember what she said to set him off but could remember being thrown face down onto the cement of the cell and feeling his knee pressing down on her back.
She had felt his hands close tightly around her neck and him leaning down and whispering in her ear. "Do you know how easy it would be for me to kill you?" His gloved hands tightened around her neck until her air was cut off and she began seeing spots before her eyes.
Releasing her, he gave a hard laugh. "I'm not going to do that. Do you know why?" When she had remained silent, he grabbed her hand at her lack of response and started pulling her ring finger back at an unnatural angle. Feeling tears in her eyes at the pain, she asked him why. He released her hand and said gleefully, "Because this would end for you."
He had shifted his weight and she felt his knees now positioned outside of her thighs. His hand insinuated itself between her legs and she felt him push his gloved index finger inside of her; "There are other ways to punish you for your lack of respect." She choked out a sob and begged him to stop. Laughing again, he said. "I'll stop because I really don't want to be delousing all week and it looks like you've remembered your place. Next time, I won't stop." She had stayed on the floor, too frightened to move, as she felt his weight lifted off of her and heard the sound of the cell door slamming shut.
Her face flushing an ugly brick red at the recollection, Evey opened the door to the bathroom and wondered if V would have made good on his promise or if that was a line he was unwilling to cross. She flicked the switch and saw the bathroom was much as she left it except that all of her favorite bath soaps were restocked. In addition, there were fluffy white towels and a bathrobe folded neatly on the sink next to the tub. He put them there for me. What kind of man can kick me in the ribs with a steel-toed boot but also remember my favorite brand of shampoo?
An hour later, she came out in her bathrobe hoping to find something to eat. Evey was unsurprised to see V at the stove stirring a pot, from which a delicious aroma was wafting. His mask turned in her direction and he silently gestured her to sit down at the table, which was set for one as always.
As she sat down, Evey was slightly relieved to see he wasn't wearing his usual ridiculous flowered apron or humming to himself. In her current state of mind, she wasn't sure if she would have started giggling or crying. He set out a bowl of homemade vegetable soup and fresh bread and Evey felt her stomach cramp in anticipation. She would have been happy with soup out of a can but knew V would have considered that blasphemous. "Some things should be done efficiently, but cooking isn't one of them," she recalled him answering when she had asked him why he didn't have so much as a microwave in his kitchen.
After giving her the food, he turned his back to her and busied himself wiping the spotlessly clean counter. As Evey, ate her soup she found herself surprised that she was sad that the pleasant conversations they had over meals were now over. Granted, he had never eaten with her but he had always lingered by the stove talking with her.
"Thank you," Evey said quietly after she finished her meal.
"You're welcome," V said briefly as he cleared away the plates and put them in the sink.
He turned to face her and Evey once again felt uncomfortable under his blank gaze. "Well, I'm going to bed."
"Evey, I know you want to go to sleep but I'm afraid there's one more task to be performed," V said calmly.
Evey felt her pulse speed up and tried to keep her voice calm. "What?"
"I need to examine your injuries and treat them if I can," he replied smoothly and then held his breath as he waited for her response. Her brown eyes widened but she said nothing.
V let out the breath and swallowed before continuing. "It isn't safe for me to take you to a doctor." He paused and clenched his hands briefly. "I know the last thing you want is me touching you, but in order for you to heal properly I ask you to let me help you."
Evey knew he was right. She knew there was something wrong with her shoulder and foot but the idea of having V's hands on her filled her with alarm. "What if I said no?" she asked curiously.
V sighed and said gently, "I would respect your wish."
Evey felt herself relax a little. "All right."
He nodded. "Thank you. I'll be back in a moment." He walked down the corridor off the kitchen and came back after a few minutes with a black leather bag which he placed on the table.
"Can you sit up, here?" he said as he touched the tabletop with the tips of his fingers. She nodded and carefully used her right arm to boost herself up. She was now almost eye level with V as he stood before her. He's so tall. Not that it matters because I wouldn't be able to see his eyes through his mask anyway.
He shifted from one foot to another. "Would you take off your robe, please?"
Her calm disappearing, Evey gulped when she realized she only had on knickers underneath her robe. She had tried to put on one her pajama tops she found in her room earlier but had given up when she couldn't get her sore arm through the tight sleeve. She thought briefly that she wished she had tried harder and tried to think of an excuse to get out of the situation she was in.
An angry voice spoke up in her mind. What's the difference? He's seen you naked many times.
Evey looked at V briefly, who was standing his arms folded, and tried her best to shrug off her robe, but her left shoulder now felt numb and useless making it difficult to slip out of the last sleeve.
Seeing her struggle, V felt a surge of sympathy and guilt. "Do you need assistance?"
"Um, yes," she said in what she hoped was normal tone.
V took a deep breath and took a step closer to her. Trying to control his mix of emotions at unclothing her, he lightly gripped her shoulder while pulling the sleeve down. With both arms now free, he pushed the robe off her shoulders and gasped and pulled his hands away when he saw her small, bare breasts.
Evey felt both annoyed at once again being naked in front V, while he was safely hidden, and triumphant that he was obviously uncomfortable. "Is there a problem?" she asked raising an eyebrow.
"I wasn't prepared," he said slowly. V felt sickened at how thin she was after months of starving her and lust at the sight of her perfect, pale skin. He cursed himself when he felt himself getting hard and was relieved that his long jacket obscured his arousal.
Get control. Think of mixing explosives, Chancellor Sutler, hacking the Interlink…He felt annoyed that these images weren't dampening his response. That isn't working? Think about what the guards did to you at Larkhill after lights out or your face when you look in the mirror.
That will do.
"V?" Evey became frightened after V had stood for almost a minute without speaking or moving. Standing motionless with his black eye holes trained on her, he looked as lifeless and cold as a mannequin. She inhaled in relief when she saw him rub the side his hand up the side of his mask, the gesture giving him life again.
"Oh, sorry! I was distracted," V said lightly. "If you will forgive my embarrassment, we can begin."
"O-kay, are you all right?" she asked, concerned despite herself.
"Yes, now let's start with your shoulder," V said, changing the subject as he bent to inspect her arm. Seeing the large lump distending the back of her shoulder, his suspicion that her shoulder was out of its socket was confirmed.
"Your shoulder is dislocated." V said softly. "I need to put it back in place but first let me check the rest of you."
He picked up her hands one by one, turning them over. Evey was absurdly touched at how gentle his gloved hands were. Falling to his knees in a fluid motion, he examined her feet, rotating her right foot back and forth carefully. She hissed slightly at the sharp pain his manipulations made in her left ankle.
Evey watched him as he rose and pulled out some bandages, cotton balls and two bottles out of the bag, one small and brown the other clear. "I believe your ankle is sprained but not broken and you have some cuts on your hands and feet."
He sighed deeply. "I hope you don't mind but I will need to remove my gloves to continue."
She nodded, feeling pity for him. "I don't mind."
V stripped off his gloves and set them on the table, revealing his red, raw-looking hands. Despite having seen them once before, she found herself staring at them and wondered what had caused the fire that disfigured him. It must have hurt so much.
Unaware of Evey's musings, V picked up the clear bottle and unscrewed the top and dropped a little of the liquid on a cotton ball. "This is antiseptic; I'm afraid it will sting."
He dabbed the cuts on her hands and feet, trying not to feel revulsion at the site of his mangled hands touching her unblemished skin while Evey felt surprise at the sensation of his bare skin touching hers.
Picking up the brown bottle, V pulled out the brush inside it and began applying it to the scratches like nail polish. "This is a liquid bandage; it will help the cuts heal faster. It will dissolve after a few days." Evey was shocked when he bent down and blew on the liquid, raising goose bumps on her skin.
Without looking up, he said apologetically, "To dry it more quickly."
She looked down and noticed her nipples were pebbled and hard and felt moisture gathering between her thighs. She resisted the urge to cover herself because she feared it would only draw his attention to her arousal. Damn, what's wrong with me?
V looked up when he heard Evey's breathing become more rapid and caught sight of her breasts. He bent down quickly so she wouldn't think he'd seen and began wrapping her ankle in an Ace bandage. His mind raced as his hands worked automatically. He had read that sometimes prisoners developed unusual attachments to their jailors and this idea calmed him. She doesn't want "you". The situation has simply created a false sense of intimacy.
V couldn't help wondering what it would be like to really touch her, to feel her body underneath his as he moved slowly inside her. I wonder what she would look like having an orgasm? He considered that it would have been much simpler if the fire at Lark Hill had destroyed his manhood, because then he would not feel desire around Evey.
This is futile. Let's put aside the fact that my body is scarred horror that I would never subject her to. Even if it were possible, it is a distraction from my purpose. I can't let these feelings interfere. And my time is much shorter than I once thought because I too had an epiphany on the roof, didn't I? I escaped prison with hate in my heart and she with love.
She will be the one…not I.
"V?" Evey's voice cut off his train of thought.
"How long was I in there?"
"Three months, five days," he said without hesitation, as he fastened the bandage and stood up.
"Oh, God." Evey said in a low, shocked voice. She had asked the question in order to compose herself and hadn't expected his answer. She hadn't believed she had been in her cell for so long. "What's today?"
"The first day of September," he answered. "We are almost done. I need to attend to your shoulder and then you can sleep."
Evey nodded numbly. "What do you have to do?"
He considered the best way to set her shoulder. "There are two ways we might do it. The first is for you stand and I could rotate your shoulder into place from behind you."
Evey suddenly felt very tired and irritated. "I'm afraid my ankle will give out while you're yanking my shoulder around." She felt like she was a toy of V's that he had played with roughly and now feeling remorse he was fixing her.
"As am I," V said dryly. He paused. "The other way would be for you to lie on you back and I could put it into place from the front."
Her eyes widened in comprehension. "Are you saying you'd have to get on top of me?"
"Yes," he said and sighed. "I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" she said incredulously. "I can't believe you…sorry…that's so rich." She watched him for any outward sign of shame. When he remained motionless, she shook her head in disbelief and spat out, "Fine, can I put my robe back on?"
"You can but I'm going to need to put your arm in a sling afterward so you would have to take it off again," he said as he examined his hands with distaste.
Evey sighed deeply. "Okay, where do I go?"
"The floor would be best," he said a little huskily.
Evey slid off the table slowly, as V quickly placed her robe on the floor for her to lie upon. She sank down on to it and took some deep breaths to calm her nerves at the powerless position she was about to be put in again.
"One moment," V said quickly and walked away. He came back with a sheet in his hand, which he easily ripped into a smaller piece.
V lowered himself onto his knees beside her. "I promise I will make this as painless as possible," he said soothingly. "Are you ready?"
Seeing her nod and admiring the determined look on her face, V lifted one of his legs over her waist so that one knee was positioned on either side. Careful to keep his weight on his knees so his groin didn't touch her, he bent towards her and spoke softly, "Now, I'm going to brace your shoulder with one hand and lift your arm with the other and move it until I feel your shoulder go back into its socket."
Evey nodded again and tried not to think of Jenkins or the way V's thighs felt as they brushed her sides. Putting his weight on her shoulder, he lifted her arm at steep angle. Her upper arm was so thin his fingers completely encircled it as he moved it in a semicircular motion.
After a few minutes, sighed and said, "I think that's got it. I'm going to push it in now…there will be some pain." He tried not to think of how suggestive his words sounded as he saw her nod once again. Quickly wrenching her arm in place, he watched her bite her lip as tears of pain rolled down her face.
V felt his heart constrict at the newest pain he had caused Evey as he raised himself off of her as quickly as possible. Kneeling beside her, he asked, "Evey, are you alright?"
Evey swiped at her eyes and slowly pushed herself to a sitting position. "Yeah, I actually feel better now."
"Good. You were very brave," he said with warmth. "Unless you'd like to rest, I will put your arm in the sling now."
She shook her head quickly. "No, please put it on. I just want to sleep."
"Of course you do," V said as he picked up the sheet. Still kneeling at her side, he gently placed her arm in the makeshift sling. He took care not to touch her breasts as he leaned over her and quickly tied it in a knot on her right shoulder. "There, that will help keep your arm immobile while your tendons heal."
He rose and offered his hand to help her stand up. Evey was reminded of when he had done the same thing the first night she met him. She had trusted him then though he had frightened her a little, but so much had changed since that night in the alley. After a long moment, she took it.
V picked up the robe off the floor and draped it around her shoulders to cover her nakedness.
After silently regarding him for a few moments, she said thank you and limped off to her room.
V watched her walk away from him and after the door had shut behind her he said, "You're welcome."
(1). Julius Caesar, Act I. Sc.2