V woke with a start, a mild grunt escaping his throat as he looked around himself with light confusion.
'How odd' … he thought.
He was sitting on his couch in the television room, the jukebox was quietly playing some classical tune in the distance, and it was now dark. The artificial lighting of the shadow gallery had already begun dimming with the first hint of night. A tiny green light located on the DVD player blinked happily about the room, awaiting use, and the television aside it was off.
V squinted at the light beneath the mask, mildly annoyed by it's presence. Good lord, how long had he been sitting there? It was nearly seven-o-clock at night by what he could tell and he had fallen asleep earlier. Yes, he remembered that much. It had only been mid-day at the time, though. There had been plenty of hours yet until fatigue would set in and he required rest.
…and yet rest he had received.
"Hmm," he vocalized, his awareness growing by the moment. He shifted a little, then froze as he perceived a certain amount of weight upon his chest.
…and with that the remainder of his memories suddenly came flying back to him. Evey had been sick earlier that morning and had required his aid, something he gave freely. Later she likewise sought his comfort and had confided in him, desperately seeking the assurance that she was not alone in her struggles and that she would soon be well again. Trust had been discussed, as well as fear, and then the lady had fallen asleep, finally succumbing to the effects of both her medication and her perceived safety.
V looked down, consciously having to steady his breath as he studied her features. Her eyes were closed, a look of concentration set upon her face as she passed through some unknown dream. There was a blanket bundled around them both--something that he did not quite remember putting there-- and her hair was tussled about, folding in and out of the fabric.
Did know that she was here…with him?
Likely, though the medication was strong, and he did not wish to scare her if she was to wake.
Shifting his body, he tested her level of awareness. She sighed softly, but otherwise did not stir. He positioned his arms around her and appropriately rose, lifting up both Evey and the blankets around her in one fluid movement. From there he began a slow journey to her bedroom, careful not to make any sudden jerks.
"Mmmn" a rather unexpected sound escaped her throat in the middle of their journey. She rubbed her face against the blanket across his chest. "I'm tired," she said, barely aware of being conscious.
Confound it, she woke up.
"Shhh, sleep Evey"
For a moment Evey wondered if she was being carried by her father, like she used to be when she was a small child. It was not him, however, and she knew that. He was dead.
'V,' she thought, 'it's V'.
"V?" she mumbled through her sleepy haze, "where…"
"You fell asleep, I am simply taking you to your room," he voiced lowly.
"Oh…" She yawned, her movements childish within the light daze that she was under. A few moments passed, and she appeared to have fallen asleep yet again within V's arms. He looked down to her, smiling beneath the mask, when suddenly she jerked and tried to sit up.
All awareness returned to her in an instant.
"Yes?" the mask focused on her.
"V, oh god, put me down" she said, a worried look forming upon her countenance.
"Are you alright?"
"Please V," she said, squirming to be let loose "let go!"
"As you wish…" He put her down carefully, concerned over whether or not he had offended her until she bolted from his presence; heading not in the direction of her bedroom but, rather, the facilities.
The door did not close, and it did not take him long to decipher what was now occurring. He followed her path, all initial concern washing away as the sounds of gagging and retching flooded the hallway.
Evey was slumped over the toilet bowl, laying on the tile floor with her head pressed against the lid as she waited for the another wave of overwhelming nausea to consume her. She heard V enter the room, and noted the brief sound of the faucet running before she felt ill again.
"Oh god," she muttered weakly before lifting her head over the porcelain bowl and emptying what little was left of her stomach's contents into it.
"Evey," V intoned lowly, coming to squat beside her, "here"
She felt a cool cloth press against her lips, wiping away any residue that remained on them, and then there was a soft pressure on her back. What that…his hand? The pressure began to move, shifting in slow, long, circular movements.
He was rubbing her back. God, she wanted to cry at the gesture.
"Thank you," she whispered before her breath caught and she tasted bile once more. V did not cease his ministrations as she threw up again, if anything he only grew more sympathetic, his efforts in comforting her growing that much more diligent.
It was a while before Evey's nausea spells finally abated, her occasional gags now producing nothing but pure air. The muscles of her stomach were sore from all of their efforts and she was left feeling both weak and dehydrated.
V, determined as he so obviously was, had not left her side. His handsome black figure looming over her in silent dedication.
"I suppose that I should to get up, I'm thirsty," she said
"No need," he said, rising from his squatting position, "I will return shortly"
She nodded, to weak to really care where she was or who did what for her at the moment. When he left, she curled up, resting her back against a nearby cabinet with her arms around her legs as she awaited his return. Examining the room around her, she pondered it's immaculate appearance. V was so…tidy, and clean. There was hardly a speck of dust floating around and no stains of any kind could be located on any of the nearby objects around her. Even the toilet was perfectly maintained. She wondered when he ever had the time to do such things. He was almost never around, always busy doing some task or another. She never really asked what he did, fairly sure that she did not want to know anyways.
"I wonder if he stayed home for me" she whispered, not sure who she was talking to. Had he? She did not want to burden him, though it was awfully kind of him to do so.
A shiver ran up and down her body as air began to flow through the ventilation shaft above her, disrupting her thoughts. God it was cold, and she was so tired, even after just waking up.
V's footsteps could be heard in the distance, and he entered the room through an alternate door, one that was closer to where the shower was locate. It was a rather spacey bathroom.
He stood in front of her and bent down, handing her a cup of tea.
She took the saucer, analyzing it shortly before looking back up to him, "V, this isn't chamomile again, is it? …because I will throw up."
"No, it's Ginger."
"Oh, I don't think I really like that stuff either." Her nose crinkled in an expression of disgust.
"Come now, it will settle your stomach. There is no need in prolonging your unease."
She smiled weakly and brought the cup to her lips, sipping it gingerly
"I guess it isn't that bad"
He nodded, rubbing his knees as he sat Indian style on the tile floor, "I tried not to make it too strong"
They sat in silence for a few moments, V watching her as she continued to mentally monitor the state of her health.
V had shown her nothing but kindness and gentle concern since she had fallen ill, and the feelings that such a notion brought to her were more than a little confusing. No one had ever been this nice to her when she was sick before, at least not after the death of her parents, and it was nice to have someone to lean on during such times. …but why V? Why had they crossed paths that one fateful night, and why was she beginning to feel so incredibly fond of him?
She turned to look at him, only to find his constant gaze focused likewise on her.
"You'd make a very good doctor, you know" she said, before things could get awkward.
What an interesting notion, to don a lab coat instead of a cloak; choosing to heal instead of kill. V chuckled, "Oh, I'm not so sure that I would. There are so many others are there who are much more…qualified than I am."
Evey looked down to the floor. She did not quite agree with him. No doctor she had ever encountered had been so kind to her.
"The doctors at the detention center I went to were never very nice, they just had a little clinic that we were sent to when we didn't feel good. I always felt like the physical exams took a little too long, if you know what I mean. They never told us what we were given when we got pills, and whatever I was given never worked very well. I doubt that the government would have wasted too much money on our health… I wouldn't be surprised if they were made of sugar powder."
"…when I got back I still always had to do all those bloody chores that they forced on us. I threw up on the floor once and they made me clean it up…never did it again."
"No care facility under this government has ever had the need to reassess it's policies in order to give more consideration to human rights. It had been my particular experience to note that their practices are far from humane and, unfortunately, your case is not uncommon. The doctors they hire there are often lost upon themselves. They forget who they are beneath the façade of the profession, and, over the years, often neglect to think that their patients are beings who are just as human as they are. It is desensitization at it's best. A belief that humanities entire existence upon this earth has been filtered down into some unnamable vat of filth that lives only to be controlled or exterminated by it's superiors; with no regards to that which made humanity so unique in the first place. Our creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence. It is the same belief under which the current government is functioning."
He paused, looking to the side.
"…when it all comes down to it what we have is a parasitic relationship between the leaders of a certain body of people and the people themselves, and the idea is nothing short of ludicrous. It is comparable to having a large population of butterflies that have been tricked into being led by a small number of over-controlling roaches. 'For the good of the population,' the roaches say, 'for justice you will clip off your wings and feed us your children and in return you will have safety and order.' How can the ground be safer than the air, and how can such beauty and potential let itself be coerced into such a state? Well it is simple, butterflies are fragile and easily caught. They need only be rubbed the wrong way for the scales of their wings to fall off, and then they lose the ability to fly altogether. The reputation of roaches is much more consistent, much less complex, and far more corrupt. They are not swayed by the wind or the night or the filth of the world, and the world is their sewage drain…."
His voice trailed off then, as if V was coming out of some strange trance.
"…Yet another aspect of this government that I wish to change, " he finished, looking back up to her, the white mask almost apologetic in it's appearance.
Evey just stared at him, barely able to comprehend his words in such a state. "I still think that you're mad, you know."
"Perhaps, I fear I shall carry that label until at least after the fifth, then I think that my sanity may finally have a solid chance at being restored. The puzzle will be solved."
"What do you plan to do after then anyways. I mean, if all of this works out"
He sat silent for a moment, as if hesitant to answer such a question, "I have no plans"
She looked at him, confused. "You seemed to know what you're doing. Obviously you have a plan, you didn't include yourself?"
"What I do is dangerous Evey. It is not wise for me to think very far beyond the present."
"Well, is there anything that you might want to do. Anywhere you want to go?"
"You're kidding" she said, almost laughing "a man like you could do anything. I mean, don't you want to move on? Get a new home?" She paused, cautious in stating her next question "…maybe even get married?"
Those last few words struck V hard, and Evey did not see him as he winced behind the mask.
Marriage? Lord. Before marriage there had to be love, and he was hardly loveable. Though, he had--to his great surprise-- retained his ability to carry such an emotion over the years of solitude that constructed his existence. If only she knew to whom his heart was already succumbing too...
"No," he said deeply, a faint twinge of hidden emotion seasoning his voice.
"Not any of those things?"
"Rest, Evey," he finally answered, his mask turning to gaze at the floor, "I want to rest, and I'll leave it at that."
"Alright then." she yawned, halfheartedly smiling at her next statement "I'll weasel it out of you some other day."
V gave a nervous laugh. Indeed she would. He would tell her…eventually, or at least she would find out.
There was another awkward pause, before Evey spoke.
"I think going to wash up now." she put her hand on the top of the counter above her, and began an attempt to lift herself up. V stood immediately, and lifted her to her feet before she could even begin to strain the first muscle.
"God you're fast," she said, putting a hand to her forehead as her blood pressure stabilized from the sudden change in position.
V gazed at her, a certain warmth forming within his concealed eyes.
"Would you like a story" he said, cocking his head to the side in query "when you get out?"
"Err," she gave him a strange look. A book? Was that not a bit childish? "Sure."
V nodded, "I shall come to your room when you return." he turned, making his way out of the room, and just as he began to close behind himself he heard her speak.
"Yes, Evey" the door was barely open now, only his hand a part of his mask visible behind the crack.
"Thank you, for taking care of me. I really do appreciate it."
"You're welcome," he said softly before closing the door fully.
V heard the rush of the shower as she flipped the water on, as he walked back down the hallway, heading in the direction of his library.
When he arrived in the room he went straight to a nearby shelf, knowing exactly which book he had in mind for the young lady. He plucked a book out of it's designated resting spot and held it up to the light, brushing a bit of imaginary dust off of it's cover and gazing at it fondly. It was a book called The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.
Beneath the mask, V smiled.