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"Help him."

This was the imperative given to Chief Inspector Finch by a woman whom he'd considered, until moments ago, a dangerous and potentially violent fugitive.   She'd looked at him for a moment – more like through him – after his sudden offer of assistance, with eyes that were old beyond her years.  Their brown depths held him, reading him, until at last she blinked and returned him to the here-and-now.  Evidently she was satisfied with whatever she'd discerned, because those words were the only ones she spoke to him before turning back to her…lover?  Somehow Finch didn't think so, in spite of the obvious intimacy between this woman and the terrorist she now protected.  ("Terrorist"?  Could he use that term anymore, doing what he was doing?  What's in a name, his shell-shocked mind tittered at him.)

Miss Hammond, as his brain had finally settled on calling her, took the man's hand and promised, "I'll be back, V."  Something passed between them in the brief silence that followed, and then she was gone up the passage.   The inspector was a half-beat too late to ask where she was going – he could only hope that she knew of some means of aid that he didn't.  But who would be able to help in this mad circumstance, he wondered, then mentally shrugged; he'd come, hadn't he?  There seemed to be all sorts of things being made possible on this night.

He removed his jacket and carefully reached to the side of V's throat to check the pulse…and bit back a cry as his wrist was caught in a sudden, crushing grip.  If not for his would-be patient's weakened state, Finch had no doubt his hand would have been rendered permanently useless, if not the rest of him as well.  Carefully he leaned forward to address the man panting with effort behind the mask.  "I need to check your pulse."  His voice was admirably steady, he thought, considering he could feel bones creaking in protest.  "She told me to help you; that's all I'm trying to do."  A tense pause, and he prayed his wrist would hold out.  "I don't think she'd take it too well if I let her down," he attempted, and at last got a response.  

The shuddering grasp eased and Finch gingerly tried to flex some feeling back into his hand.  He reached in again, being as careful as he could not to disturb the mask.  The pulse he found was rapid and faint; the clock was ticking even faster than he'd feared.

He didn't mince words with his charge.  "It's not good.  I need to get to your wounds, and I need to do it now.  You want to kill me for that, that's up to you.  All right?"

Receiving no answer to that disclaimer, he set to work.  His jacket was quickly rolled into a makeshift pillow.  "Here," he moved into Codename V's view with it, telegraphing his intent to the mask.  He was permitted to lift his patient's head to place the jacket beneath it.  

The Guy Fawkes outfit didn't present many options for access.  There were no obvious closures, and every inch of the man was covered.  Further inspection revealed multiple clasps that proved reluctant to part.  A control freak, Finch surmised.  Wasn't that just his luck.

Acutely aware of precious seconds ticking by, Finch struggled with the doublet.  Wishing for something to cut the heavy material thwarting his efforts, he cursed.  "Bloody brilliant time for you to be without your knives…"

The answer was a cough that might have been a laugh.

Finch continued a one-sided conversation as he worked, aware that he was chattering out of nervousness while his fingers fought to reach V's wounds.    "Prothero…Lilliman – damn!…Stanton…bloody Rookwood … was this part of your plan too?  Get me curious enough to come find you and show up to save the day?"

To his shock, he received an answer.  

"hnn—no… Noth… planned…for th-this."

"…Does she know that?"

"P'robly."  A hitched sigh.  "Sh's very…observant."  Finch sensed a private joke in that comment.

Suddenly remembering something and cursing himself for a fool, the Inspector reached into a pocket.  "Not as fancy as yours," he produced a small pocket knife, "but it's better than nothing."  As carefully as he could, Finch wrestled and sawed his way past the slippery fibers of the doublet at last and cut open the blood-soaked garment he found beneath that.

"Jesus…"

He was met with such a mess that it took him several seconds to realize he was looking at scar tissue and not bullet damage.  Not entirely, at least.  In addition to the blood leaking from seemingly everywhere, swaths of red, twisted, angry tissue covered every inch he could see.  Larkhill, he realilzed, and felt sick.  Delia's – no, Dana's journal told of the explosions and subsequent fires that destroyed that place, and spoke of "the man from Room Five" who had walked right through the flames.  It seemed he hadn't done so without consequence.

Even so… no one should have been able to survive the damage Finch was seeing beneath the blood whose flow he had to stanch.  Quickly he took his knife to the vigilante's cloak.  If Dana Stanton's words were to be believed, this man survived all the horrors Larkhill had to offer and then took a stroll through an inferno before systematically dismantling Sutler's regime.  Somehow – whether from Larkhill or some innate something in him – he had survived things that would have killed anyone else.   It was nothing short of amazing, Finch had to admit as his hands swiftly applied makeshift dressings to wounds.

In spite of the respect he couldn't help but feel for this man's achievements, Finch had no illusions about him.  The man was anything but innocent, as the Inspector of all people knew.  He'd killed dozens of people – among them officers whom Finch had known and in some instances had even liked.  He'd made it abundantly clear over the past year that he was extremely dangerous and never to be underestimated.  But neither was he an evil man; this Eric Finch knew with absolute certainty. That was what kept him working for the vigilante's continued survival, cutting away garments, finding bullet holes, and bandaging them as best he could.  Whoever Codename V was, he'd endured things most people didn't even know to have nightmares about and had continued to live God-knew-how for two decades, apparently for the sole purpose of bringing down the force that had done these things to him and kept the country in such blind misery.  He hadn't killed indiscriminately… Civilian casualties had been minimal; Dominic had had him at gunpoint and still been spared; even the embarrassment of the Rookwood episode proved that his motives hadn't simply been to kill.  And whatever his link was with Evey Hammond, he'd inspired something in her that ran strong and deep.

But now Creedy's bullets were in him, and his life was in danger of seeping away.  Finch grimaced; the thought that something of Creedy's might end such a man's life suddenly felt obscene.

"Don't give up, damn you…"  Finch reached down to secure yet another improvised pressure bandage.  "After all the headaches you've given me,  don't think I'm going to let you slip past now."  He cast a critical eye over his efforts, murmuring, "She'd likely have both our heads if I did."

Hurried footsteps faintly sounded from the passage, and  V stiffened at the sound.   

"Ev—"  A pained grunt escaped the masked man as he shifted, and Finch instinctively moved to cover the skin he'd revealed in a faintly absurd impulse to preserve his charge's dignity.

Miss Hammond rejoined them, carrying a large knapsack and, of all things, a military-issue stretcher.  Without ceremony she set it down and knelt at Finch's side to look V in the eyes once again.  "Just as I promised," she smiled.  She surveyed the Inspector's work and looked a question at him.  He nodded in answer, slowly and steadily.  I've done all I can.  

She returned her attention to V once more.  "It's nearly time."  

The injured man nodded, reaching to clasp her hand tightly in his.  Turning slightly, she regarded Finch.  "We need to go up.  He needs to see."

The Inspector frowned.  "See what?"

Soft brown eyes met his with perfect serenity.  "Everything," she smiled.
I'm attempting to create a bridge between "Turning Point" and "Apotheosis"; there will be one more (very small) part following this one, I think. It's not all out of my head just yet.

NOTE: If you have not read "Apotheosis", that one should be read first. (it's not sequential, but it works out better that way.)

Disclaimer: People other than myself own the rights to V for Vendetta and anything contained therein. I'm just rearranging the furniture while they're not looking.

- All stories housed in order at my website.
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:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How smart of you to have Finch deal with the injuries at this point. Much easier for everybody involved, methinks...
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! It seemed to make the most sense at the time. ^^
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:iconbrookeechan:
brookeechan Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
i love you you made V live and for that you have my gratitude
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw, thanks. ^_^
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:iconbrookeechan:
brookeechan Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
ur welcome write more v for vendetta stuff please v for vendetta forever!!
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:iconsnurtz:
snurtz Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2008  Student Writer
Interesting interaction. I think I like it. :)
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad! :aww: Those three have been whispering to me about this for some time now, and I'm finally to a point where I can get it written out. I know it's not big on V/Evey just at the moment, but Finch needs his time in the spotlight too! ;D
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