Author’s Note: Doctor Who (new series)/V for Vendetta (movieverse)–don’t ask me where this came from, because I honestly have no idea. The title is from a quote by the Seventh Doctor in the episode, “The Happiness Patrol.” This is an episode I’d never actually seen at the time, but I saw the quote on an icon and it seemed appropriate. *grin* Thanks to rhipowered for the exacting beta and rheanna27 for the challenge that inspired this in the first place, even though it wasn’t what I originally signed up for. *grin*
The fire burns all through the night, all through the next night and well into the third day. Ground and air crews work around the clock–both literally and figuratively–to salvage what they can of the historic building. Finch has long gone, but Evey still spends her nights on the roof, watching the dying glow with the hollow eyes of one who has found her purpose only to lose it again once the battle was won, until the sun rises again over the mutilated skyline.
“Well, this is a nice change of pace. Not often I get to sit back and watch a regime topple. Usually I’m the one doing the toppling.”
Evey turns her head, strangely unsurprised to see a man standing behind her, all in pinstripes with a long tan coat and white trainers. The voice is that of a Londoner, estuary with hints of irony and the north whispering around the edges, as though he lived there once but so long ago it was another life. Brown hair flops into matched eyes that never acknowledge her presence, staying fixed on the distant column of smoke he’s only just distracted her from.
“Now, a lifetime or two ago I probably wouldn’t have approved of the method,” he continues, his voice quiet but with an undercurrent of deep, achingly familiar sadness. “Still don’t, to tell the truth. Effective, though.”
“Is it?” she asks, her own voice tired and toneless.
He looks at her then for the first time. “Oh yes. Oh, it’ll be chaos and anarchy for a bit, but not for long. Society won’t stand for it. It needs order, so much so it will sometimes sacrifice the essential things to obtain it. Not this time, though. Not for a long while. England will remember this: they call it V-Day, now–stole the name from the end of World War II, even–and with good reason. There’s not much greater victory to be had than reclaiming yourself.” He stays still throughout this speech, feet splayed apart with the casual grace and balance of a tightrope walker, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his trousers. “And you made it happen.”
“No.” She is this stranger’s opposite–her body may shift, but her voice never does. It remains emotionless, drained. She’s wept all the tears she has to cry, wrung herself dry of grief and joy, fear and triumph until there is nothing left. “He made it happen.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. He may have set events in motion, but what would have happened two nights ago if that crowd had gathered and there’d been nothing to show for it?”
She’s thrown off balance, as much by the fact that it makes her feel for the first time in two days than from the actual words. Her spirit tilts, her soul tips and lurches for balance as though she were a child again, a child who never realized the carousel was moving until she stepped off. The ground rushes up to meet her without either of them moving. “I…I don’t know.”
His ageless eyes never leave her face. “Nothing: that’s what would happen. The survivors of the current regime would claim victory and pick right up where Sutter left off, using your man’s failure to prove their own rectitude. Nothing changes, except maybe they’re more careful this time, less likely to let even one faceless dissenter slip through. There won’t be a second chance to take, not if this one’s ignored.”
Evey just nods, too tired to feel even a fragment of the gratitude or vindication that his words should stir in her. Too tired to care that he speaks as if the choice still remains to be made. Nothing would be changed–except her. She has been changed; she has been left behind and would have been even if the world had remained still. Somehow she doesn’t know which of the two was the greater crime, or which the greater gift–the changing or the leaving.
“Would you like to see it?” the stranger asks. “See the world you created? The world they died for?”
Evey turns to him now–not just her face, her eyes, but her whole body. He smiles gently at her, and holds out one hand. For a moment, time seems to still, the air between them swelling with questions she has no desire to ask. Then she moves slowly towards him, each step a whispering, measured click against the stone beneath her feet, like the soft tick of a timer counting down innocuously to an explosion. Their hands link, and then he is leading and she is following, towards the promise of a future beyond the memory of the past.
He doesn’t offer his name, and she doesn’t ask for it; the most important men in her life have always been nameless.