A/N: Greetings to like the 3 people who read this! I apologize for the long wait on this chapter, but I hope you will be excited to know that this is a very LONG chapter and the LAST chapter as well! Yes, I've decided to draw the line for this story. I think it's a pretty good ending and unless I get serious protest, it's going to stay this way! Anyway, I hope you enjoy and thank you all for your support!
"I hate you." I've said it so often over the past week, but apparently it just hasn't sunk into Annon's thick head yet, because he still comes to see me a few times a day. Mostly he's the one who brings me my food. And every now and then he'll just pop in for kicks. It's especially annoying when he brings Renly or Anthem with him, because then I want to be happy with my friends but his presence ruins it.
One visit shocks me though. Annon is naturally present, but so is a man in a crude prisoner uniform. The only thing out of the ordinary is the fact that he's still wearing his Guy Fawkes mask and wig. He looks so proud, despite his situation.
"He wanted to see you." Annon says bitterly, shoving V slightly. He glances at Annon with what I can only guess is a glare and the boy narrows his eye, but steps back. V gives a satisfied nod and sits in the open chair by my bed, taking in the fact that I'm strapped to a bed with looney bin binds.
"Are you okay Annie?" He asks, his voice ever calm despite our current circumstances. I hesitantly nod, but I'm sure I don't look at all sure of my own condition. A heavy sigh comes from behind his mask and his cuffed hands take my own. "I apologize. You deserve so much more. A real father, a real family. A life with no secrets, a life where answers were easy to come by." he explains remorsefully. My heart nearly breaks hearing his words. I want so bad to say something to make him feel less guilty. But a lump the size of London is in my throat, making it hard to even breathe. All I can do is squeeze his hand.
"that's all for today." Annon says strictly, pulling V up by his prisoner outfit collar. I try my best to hold onto his hand, but we are both weak apparently. And V is gone before I can even summon my voice to say goodbye.
Gabe petitions for my release from the looney bin binds soon after V's visit. And though Annon takes his sweet time thinking about it, he does grant the request. I can't even begin to describe how happy Renly and Gabe look when they come in to tell me the good news. Happier than I do by far. You'd think they were the ones being treated as mental patients/prisoners.
"Come to the game room with me Annie, and we'll play some video games!" Renly begs. And even though I want to seek out my father, I cant say no to her pleading voice. Gabe decides to join us, deciding that he could kick our butts with both hands behind his back. And Anthem tags along too once we reach the game room. All three of them are 10 times as excited as I am. I can't even manage a smile as they hand me a Wii controller and start Mario Cart. But, being a normal teenager has it's perks and I keep winning. Flashes of sleepovers with Vanessa and Kendra fill my head as once again my cart comes in first place.
"I don't get it! She must be cheating!" Renly exclaims with an intense pouty face. I almost want to smile at her ridiculous charade, but once again a pang of concern for V fills me. He looked so sad, even through the Guy Fawkes mask, and who knows what he could be enduring! After Larkhill, I'm sure this prison must seem like heaven. But I can't imagine him enjoying himself. Gabe seems to sense my every emotion as I feel it because eventually, after my seventh consecutive win, he puts a hand on my shoulder.
"Annie would you like something to eat?" Even though I'm not hungry, I nod. Something in his face tells me I should. "Switch to two player mode guys, I'm gonna take Annie to get food." He instructs, taking my hand and leading me out the door.
"I'm not actually hungry Gabe." I explain somewhat guiltily. But he doesn't respond, only continues to lead me. "Really I don't want anything." I try again. He sighs.
"I know. I'm taking you to V." He explains quietly after his hefty sigh. I'm a bit shocked. Why would Gabe be doing this for me? Isn't he loyal to Annon. He makes a motion for me to be silent just before I try to say something, and then picks up his pace. Gabe has a smiley face for everyone we pass, but I'm too confused to try and keep up with his acting. I just wish I understood what for sure was going on. Who was on my side and who was on Annon's side, and how could I trust any of them? Especially if I'm ever going to be rid of all this nonsense regarding my heritage and the people willing to kill over it.
"Gabe, Annie." He freezes in his stride, inadvertently catching me off guard so I run into him. I glance around Gabe only to find myself glaring at Annon. "Where are you two off to?" He asks with very little interest actually in his voice, but plenty in his eyes. But Gabe, ever confident, has something to tell him instantly.
"Mess hall. We were both hungry after an intense battle of Mario Cart." Gabe even offers a little smile to sugar coat it. Annon glances at me, as though trying to read whether or not it's a lie. But after three years of drama and an intense detest for Annon, I have no problem keeping a steel poker face. Annon simply arches an eyebrow and nods before walking along the way he was going. I spot a file in his hand and I can't help but wonder if it's one of the ones he showed me last time I was here. Maybe he deduced V's origins after all. And while my curiosity is piqued, Gabe is in motion again, dragging me along behind him impatiently.
"You would lie to Annon?" I ask quietly as we rush along. He frowns ever so slightly and glances around at our lack of company before talking.
"Many of us here have noticed differences in Annon. Ever since he captured V he's been incredibly short tempered, bordering on cruel. Especially to you. None of us approve. The best way I can help you is to get both of you out." He explains with a heavy regret in his voice. Obviously he doesn't like betraying his friend, but he also obviously doesn't like the way Annon is behaving. Regardless, I can't deny that I'm very grateful. I tug on his hand a little, effectively getting him to stop. He looks at me curiously, waiting for me to say something. But instead I lean forward and kiss him on the cheek.
"Thank you." I whisper. He smiles a bit loopy for a second then composes himself. With a sophisticated nod, he starts walking again. As we get closer to the prison area, the halls are infrequently populated. In fact I don't see anyone when we arrive at the guarded door. Gabe flashes his ID and explains that I'm the Prisoner's Daughter. The Guard nods, a bit wide eyed at me, and opens the door dutifully.
"We have to be quick. There's only one door in and out of the Prison, but there is an unpopulated back door out of the commune." He explains. I don't respond, but he seems to know I'm listening. "We have to plan our timing perfectly. Once Annon finds out that V is free, he will stop at nothing to retrieve him before V can slip away." He stops in front of a thick steel door. There's not even a window on the door, only a slot for food. I shudder to think that V is locked inside. Gabe, sensing my discomfort, is quick to swipe his badge and gain entry. I instantly rush in only to freeze in my tracks at the sight of V looking so utterly helpless and hopeless.
"Annie?" He sounds so confused as to my presence that I nearly cry. Instead I rush forward and hug him.
"Annie come on!" Gabe urges from the doorway. I gather myself and step back.
"We're busting you out of here. Come quick." I plea. He tilts his head to the side slightly.
"I cannot let you put yourself in harms way for me." He murmurs ever so slightly.
"V we don't have time for this! I want to leave and I'm not leaving without you!" A resounding THUMP comes from the doorway and both of us look. Annon stands there, a recently punched Gabe sprawled on the floor.
"That's so hurtful Annie. After I did everything I could to make you comfortable." He snarls. V protectively moves in front of me. "As for you, you're lucky you're not dead right now! You killed so many people it's amazing I'm allowing you to live!" V doesn't even flinch. It apparently annoys Annon greatly because he's suddenly pointing a gun at V. "Although, no one would blame me if I accidentally shot you. A shame I had to, but you were trying to escape. Viciously attacked me and left your daughter for dead too." I can't believe what I'm hearing! This boy sounds absolutely nothing like the Annon from barely three weeks ago!
"Annon stop this madness! Can't you hear yourself?!" Gabe mutters from the ground. Annon glances fiercely at his once friend. V lunges for the gun, but Annon still has his wits about him and manages to keep hold of it. Gabe reaches out, grabbing Annon's ankle and pulling so they both go down in their little wrestle. I gasp and try to get as far away as possible from the fighting men. A shot ricochets off the wall dangerously close to me before piercing the pillow of the cell's bed.
"Please stop!" I exclaim. No one seems to hear it though. By this time both Gabe and V are fighting with Annon over the weapon, but it's like trying to wrestle a toy from a two year old! Another shot hits the wall, this one burying into the concrete and not bouncing. But it gives me an idea. Gathering all the emotions that have been dragging down my mind for the last week, I let out a heart wrenching scream and crunch in on myself. Instantly all three of them have stopped, the gun long forgotten as all three try crowd around me.
"Annie! What is it!" Gabe demands, putting his hands on either side of my face. I manage a sly wink and he gets it. He pretends to examine a wound on my side and winces.
"Is...is she okay?" Annon asks, some form of heavy emotion in his voice.
"No. Are you happy now Annon? You've hurt an innocent girl mentally and now physically! All for what? Some ancient Vendetta that has nothing to do with us! What happened was terrible but it's also over! And the world is a better place for it! Let it go!" Gabe exclaims fiercely, taking slow angry steps towards Annon, who's slowly shrinking into a scared boy again. As Gabe leaves my side, V takes it.
"Annie...I am deeply sorry." He whispers, his head hung low. I try to show him I'm okay without showing Annon, but he doesn't seem to be able to catch onto the ploy like Gabe. Speaking of Gabe, I glance over to see Annon looking one minute from a full mental breakdown, kneeling in front of Gabe, who's fuming.
"I...I never meant to hurt her! I...my...mother told me...I had to do as she said!" He mutters, slowly collapsing. I don't know if I can watch this. Instead I bury my head into V's arms, preferring to act injured than to see Annon be reduced to a quivering mess.
"Listen to me. You don't need to do anything. Except stop and think. What will any of this do to make things better? Nothing. There is nothing this can lead to but pain! You need to stop this Annon!" Gabe continues, not letting up. V cradles me as I purposely whimper. I may not want to watch, but I want this to end. The quickest way, besides killing him, will be to disarm him permanently.
"I...I'm sorry. To all of you." I glance up at the sound of a scuffle. It catches us all off guard because suddenly Annon has the gun again. But this time it's pointed at himself. Before either Gabe or me can say anything, the trigger is pulled and everything is deathly quiet. A scream rips from my throat before I black out.
I wake up to Gabe writing something on a clipboard. I blink wearily a few times before making a sound similar to a groan. This gets his attention and he looks at me with a heavy hearted smile. I'm not sure how much of what comes to my mind really happened. Some of it I don't want to have happened. But from the dense sadness in Gabe's eyes, I'd say Annon killing himself did happen. Which makes my eyes water slightly. I never wanted anyone to die over all this. Why did he do that?
"Good morning Annie." Gabe finally speaks.
"Gabe. A-Annon...did he really..." I can't finish, but he nods his head all the same. I feel like I might be sick. "I'm so sorry. I can only imagine it's much harder for you. Being friends with him and all." I add nervously.
"I think I knew somehow that I would come to that. I hoped it wouldn't...that he would see reason. But I think in his mind it was either going to be V or him, and he didn't want to hurt you any more." He patiently explains, putting the clip board away as he speaks and drawing a chair up next to my bed.
"W-what happened? After I blacked out?" I dare to inquire. He takes a deep breath before glancing at my apparently stable monitor.
"I had the guard, who heard the shots, take you to the infirmary while V and I cleaned up after Annon. I explained what happened to everyone as well as the fact that V was no longer our prisoner but our guest. He's out eating with some of the men right now, but I suspect he'll be in soon. He called Evey about an hour ago so she'll be here soon as well."
"Oh great." I sigh. He smiles ever so slightly.
"Without Annon and his crazy mission of revenge, the men here don't really have anything to do. They're all trying to adjust to normal life I think. But I doubt any of them will leave the Commune. Annon left the place to me and I'm turning it into a school for foster and orphaned children." He brightens a little at his plans for the future.
"Congratulations." I give him the best smile I can manage, but after everything that's happened, I hope he understands why I'm not cheery.
"Thank you. Ya know, we'll always need teachers if you find yourself without a job in the future. And of course you can visit anytime to chat with Ren and Anthem." A blush comes to my cheeks as in my mind I add Gabe's name to that list.
"Thank you." My smile is a bit more genuine this time. He clears his throat awkwardly.
"I do hope you'll visit frequently. I know we're not exactly best friends...but I've grown used to seeing you over the last few weeks. I'll miss you Annie." I'm about to tell him I'll miss him too, but the door to the hospital room flies open and mum, V, and Mr. Finch all walk in looking very concerned. Well except V. He just looks like Guy Fawkes.
"Oh thank God you're okay! And it's all finally over!" Mum exclaims, taking Gabe's seat after he stands up. I listen to mum fuss over me for nearly an hour before V and Mr. Finch intervene and get her to let me rest. Gabe gives me a little wink before escorting all three out. And I actually do feel very tired. With one last look around the white sterile room, and with a feeling of relief that it is all over, I fall asleep.
OOOOO EPILOGUE OOOOO
"May we come up?" I smile ever so slightly at the movie playing. I've watched it so much that I can pretty much recite every line. But this is no ordinary viewing. Instead of the normal three people sitting together on one couch, two more couches have been pulled into the room. On one sits Mr. Finch and his old detective friend Dominic. On another mum is under V's arm, looking quite content. V too, seems rather pleased with the situation. But I'm most interested in my couch. And the fact that it's shared with Gabe. I glance up at him from where I'm laying on his lap. He looks rather interested in the movie, considering that it's the first time he's seen it.
We weren't all planning on watching Count of Monte Cristo, but as soon as V heard Gabe was ignorant of the film, he instantly popped it in. He did the same thing last week when Gabe admitted he'd never seen Twelfth Night. But this is really actually very nice.
"You find your own tree!" V says at the same time as Edmond Dantes. Mum smiles and with a deep sigh snuggles closer to V. The movie ends, but no one moves. We're all too happy with our current placements. Gabe eventually glances at his watch though and makes a sound that mixes between a sigh and a groan. I know he's really busy these days with the school and all, but still I feel like I should be able to see him more often than I am.
"I have to go Annie." He says regretfully, smoothing my hair. I grudgingly sit up. "I'll see you on Saturday?" He asks with a sly smile. I return it and kiss him right on the lips.
"Of course." He grins, says his goodbyes to my family, and makes his way to the lift. I sigh happily and sit back against the couch, only to realize everyone is looking at me. Even V, though I suspect he's only looking because everyone else is looking. I blush a shade brighter than tomato and pretend to be fascinated with something on the ceiling.
"It's okay to admit you have a crush on the boy Annie." Mum grins, ever all-knowing. I blush even brighter, if it's even possible.
"Annie and Gabe, sitting in a tree." Dominic begins.
"And he's a doctor too." Mr. Finch jumps in on the joke.
"Okay everyone stop! Maybe I do like Gabe! You all should too. He's a perfect gentleman and smart as all get out!" They all exchange looks.
"Well one thing is for sure." Mum finally speaks. "He's no Edmond Dantes. But...I guess he's good enough for my daughter."
P.S.- Annie and Gabe sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-ING. First came love, then came marriage, then a baby V in a baby carriage!