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"You should let yourself rest... you haven't slept in over a day."

Eric Finch looked with mild disapproval at the untouched sandwich on the dresser near Evey.  Her vigil over the fallen V hadn't ended since they'd returned from Evey's address - as V - to the people of London.  It had been hours.  

He regarded the young woman who'd talked him into treason, set loose the explosives that destroyed Parliament, and nearly single-handedly averted one of the worst riots London had ever known.  She looked so fragile and unraveled here in the half-light, still wearing the remnants of the vigilante's "uniform"; it was amazing she hadn't collapsed already.

Evey looked up into Finch's concerned expression.  Huge dark smudges lurked beneath her eyes and her already-ill-fitting clothes were even more rumpled from having been worn too long.  "He might wake up again."  She glanced over to V, lying motionless and silent once again on the bed.  "He woke up once and he was alone.  I almost missed--"  She swallowed.  She couldn't finish.

Finch nodded in sympathy, but persisted.  "And what good will it do if he wakes just in time to see you keel over from exhaustion?"  

Evey rubbed briefly at her temples, a grimace distorting her features.  He was right, and she knew it.  Her hands dropped back into her lap and her head drooped forward into a nod.  "All right.  I'll sleep.  But," she added as he made to take her station near the bed, "I'm still staying here."

Finch was nonplussed.  "Where will you sleep?"

Evey rose and made her way to the opposite side of the bed.  Glancing a challenge at Finch, she settled to the rug-covered floor and closed her eyes.

"You're sleeping there?"  She could practically hear his raised eyebrow.

Evey smiled faintly, her eyes still closed.  "I've slept in much worse places, Mr. Finch."

*  *  *  *  *

Had it been a dream?

He thought he'd heard his own voice, addressing all of London.  His voice, and yet not.  Familiar words... good words... but not his.

He'd sensed movement nearby and with a supreme effort, he'd managed to open his eyes.  There was Evey - his Evey - dressed in his clothes.  

"... e did it, V... I did what you wanted..."

Ahh.  She had stepped forward to claim her legacy.  He knew she would.  How wonderful that he could actually hear her say it.  

He had reached forward, actually touching her.  He'd tried to speak... he was sure he'd said something...

The moment faded as quickly as it began.

He still didn't know if he'd dreamed it.

*  *  *  *  *

"I think we're ready."

Two bright lamps revealed a collection of blades, probes, and forceps gleaming on a tray near the bed.  A large quantity of disinfectant and gauze lay in readiness near a set of fine needles and surgical thread.  To Evey, it all managed to look both overwhelming and woefully insufficient.

Finch took a deep breath.  "Miss Hammond - could you move that lamp a bit closer?"

She obliged him.  "Evey.  Please, call me Evey."  The faint smile she'd offered him faded and her gaze went faraway.  "I've never liked the people who call me 'Miss Hammond', Mr. Finch."

He paused to digest that.  "All right, then... Evey."  He shifted, checking his tools. "But if I'm on a first-name basis with you, the least you could do is drop the 'Mister'."  His perpetually sad eyes almost smiled.  "Even 'Eric' would do."

Some of the tension left her posture.  "All right then... Eric."  Her mimicry briefly lightened the atmosphere.

Finch considered the task ahead.  "I doubt we'll get everything out.  I'll try for the worst-looking ones; they're the most likely to get infected."

"Can I help?"  She made to move to his side.

"No, you stay there," he warned.  "If he wakes up, you need to be the first thing he sees."

Evey considered this, then moved closer to V's side.  

Finch returned his attention to finding a good angle to reach the first bullet.  "All right - we're set."  he gave the man on the bed a cautious glance.  "Maybe you should talk to him while I do this."

Evey nodded.  She shifted a bit and leaned down, laying a gentle hand on V's shoulder.  Moving close, she murmured a steady cadence of soft assurances to the still figure beside her.

*  *  *  *  *

She was talking to him again.  He tried making out words, but it kept fading out the more he strained to hear.  The only way to keep her voice near was to just let it wash over him without concentrating on anything.  He would have to make do with only the awareness of tone and rhythm.

It was so very frustrating.  He could tell that some important message was being conveyed; something he needed to know.


Pain bloomed slowly into his awareness.  Distant, indistinct, but there.  
That must have been the message; a warning.  Her voice continued through it, calm and reassuring.  He wished he could hear her words.  He missed her terribly.  Drifting in the darkness, he followed her as best he could with only the faint arcs of pain as landmarks.

*  *  *  *  *

"Here.  You look like you could use this."

A warm cup was offered, and Finch could smell a faint tang of alcohol in the steam wafting up from it.  Gratefully he took a sip and let the drink ease away a bit of the tension from the last few hours.

Evey pulled a chair up next to him and sat heavily.  "That was awful."

Finch grunted his assent.  "Something I can live without doing ever again."

"Where did you learn to do all that?"  Evey was studying him tiredly.  

There was a moment of silence.  "My wife.  She was a nurse."  He took another brief sip.

Evey caught the tone in Finch's answer.  "May I ask what happened to her?"

Finch looked down into his cup.  "St. Mary's."  Of course the virus had claimed her - she'd been one of the first ones to treat its victims.  

"I'm sorry."  

He shook his head.  "It's all right."  Briefly he looked up to her.  "I wasn't the only one to lose someone like that."

She was surprised, briefly, before she remembered his profession.  Slowly she nodded in acknowledgment, then returned her attention to V's silent figure before them.  She leaned her elbows onto her knees.  "I feel... so lost."  Her hands cradled her head, massaging her temples.  Flopping her hands back down, she turned to regard her unexpected companion.  "Why do you stay here?"

Finch weighed any number of possible answers.  Because he was afraid to go above and find what remained of his life gone.  Because he still wanted answers.  Because he felt safe here, safer than he'd felt in decades.  Ultimately, though... "Because I know I can do some good here."

The tired smile he got in response was like the sun breaking through an overcast sky.

*  *  *  *  *

The fire.  He was on fire.  Burning chemicals seared his lungs and screams shattered the air.  Bricks were exploding in the heat surrounding him.  Broken spars of steel twisted and glowed orange-hot.   This was his fire, the one that had given him his freedom.  He'd walked out of it before, the flames barely felt, howling his rage to the heavens, but now... he couldn't move.  He was trapped in the inferno, his flesh charring and melting from his bones.  The screams filled his head.  He was going to die.

*  *  *  *  *

"Oh God, V, hold on!"

They were struggling to hold V in place on the bed.  In spite of their efforts after Finch's impromptu surgery, V's wounds had become infected and his temperature had skyrocketed in response.

V was thrashing, his incoherent vocalizations raising fears he was hallucinating.  Finch and Evey flickered between trying to apply the few cold packs they'd found in the first aid supplies and trying to hold V still so as not to tear his stitches.

"Shhh, V, it's all r--" Evey cried out as his arm flailed up, catching her jaw.

"You all right?"  Finch had watched her reel back from the blow.

She rushed back to help, ignoring the pain ringing through one side of her head.  "I'm fine.  We've got to get his fever down!"

"We're going to have to strap the damn things on at this rate!"

The more their voices rose, the worse V's struggles seemed to become.  This thought finally penetrated Evey's thoughts and she motioned to Finch.  "Sh!  I think he's reacting to us... Eric, we have to stop..."  She actually let go of V completely, letting her hands hover over him as she watched his response.  Nodding to Finch to follow suit, she saw V's throes were lessening somewhat.

Finch shrugged at Evey,  Now what?  They couldn't very well get the fever down if they couldn't touch him.  But she motioned for him to wait, and slowly moved in close to V's twitching, hallucination-contorted features.

And began to sing.

*  *  *  *  *

A sound was seeping through the noise scraping through his skull.  It was too soft to be heard above the explosions and the cries of the dying, and yet he heard it.  The  faintest, thinnest thread...

'... cried the whole night through.
Well, you can cry me a river,
Cry me a river,
I cried a river over you...'

A small, quavering voice, whispering a song he treasured - the tiniest of mercies in this hell.  He grasped at that voice with every last bit of strength he possessed, and at last felt oblivion take him.

*  *  *  *  *

"I've got them!"  Finch strode into the room with a small box of plastic packages.  "Hopefully this will carry us through."  Setting the box down, he picked up one of them.  He carefully crushed and then shook it, handing the rapidly-cooling bag to Evey.

"Oh - thank you."  She quickly wrapped it in a cloth and laid it over the pulse point at V's wrist.  They had been fighting V's fever for nearly thirty-six hours now, these last several hours without benefit of ice. " I can't believe we used up all the ones here - where did you get these?"

"Dominic gets the credit, not me.  He, ah... made a bit of a supply raid."  His face colored a bit at the recollection of encouraging his partner to commit petty larceny.

"I see."  Evey looked impressed - whether at him or Detective Stone, Finch couldn't say.  Returning her attention to her patient, she busied herself with another cold pack.  "I'll have to thank him.  How were things out there?"

"Tense.   Not as bad as they could be, but things are still simmering just under the surface."

"Mn."  She stroked a cool cloth across V's brow.  "His temperature's come down a bit, but he's still too hot."  She sat back for a moment.  "He once said to me, 'There is no certainty; only opportunity.'  I hope we don't let him down."  

They settled into a contemplative silence for several minutes.  Evey busied herself with shifting pillows under V while Finch checked his stitches.

"They're looking better, finally."  Finch cautiously replaced a gauze pad.  "I just hope he wakes up soon.  Unless you know how to do an IV drip?"  He was only half-joking.

"No.  I've had first aid classes, and there are books down here... but I've never..."  She looked sadly at V's still form, eyeing the expanse of scar tissue.  "I'm not even sure how we could go about it."

*  *  *  *  *

He was so close.  More than once, now, he'd been able to make out fragments of her sentences.  

She was talking to someone.  Not him... he couldn't tell whom.  There was something he should have been able to remember, but couldn't.  Not yet.

The darkness was drifting near once more, and he forced himself to accept it.


*  *  *  *  *

--"You shielded your father and sacrificed Edmond Dantes, cast him into oblivion... pronounced him dead."

"I acted for the good of my country, at a time when such traitors as Dantes held the power to plunge us into anarchy!"--

"I can see why you like this one."

The Count of Monte Cristo was playing on a minidisc player in the background as Finch finished changing the dressings on a still-unconscious V's wounds.

He'd grown accustomed to this unusual living arrangement, even beginning to think of the labyrinthine Shadow Gallery as "normal".  Being alone with V, however, still made him nervous.  In spite of Evey's assurance that he was the only living person V had ever said he liked, Finch couldn't help but remain a bit dubious.

As he was cleaning up, Evey stepped in from her work in the kitchen.  "I'm afraid we're running out of tinned tomatoes... ah, you found his favourite."  She smiled as she recognized the climactic courtroom scene, settling in to sit where she could see the movie as well.  They watched in companionable silence as justice was served in all its cinematic glory, resolving into its happy denouement.

--"May we come up?"--

Evey prepared, as she always did, to recite the words along with Dantes at the end... but she was pre-empted.  From behind her came a voice - that voice she'd been awaiting all this time.  It was faint, and roughened, and cracking from lack of use and dehydration.  It was the most beautiful thing she'd ever heard in her entire life.

"You find your own tree."

~ Finis ~
Another section finally resolved itself (I think!). Comes after "Apotheosis" and is concurrent with "Monologue". Writing out of order makes my head hurt...

Author's Note: My AU differs from the novelization of the film in regards to Finch. Kindly move along, nothing to see here...

All other stories can be found here.
Add a Comment:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Squee! The perfect ending, this chapter has :)

Finch and Evey performing a surgery on V didn't bode well, so glad they managed!
KaylaArBaxter Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008
Aw, I love this. Very well written ^_^ Keep it up
FugueState Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :aww:

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the order in which I write, but I'm glad you're enjoying the ride. ;)
honour-huston Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008
Nice one Fugue!

FugueState Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :aww:
PiratePhantom Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008  Student Writer
Awww... I wuff your V-fictions :D.
FugueState Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad to hear it! :)
Add a Comment:

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