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Professional Boundaries

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She has an incoming call.

Eve stares at the screen, the unknown number blinking mischievously at her.

And Eve just knows it is her. She knows.

She shouldn’t answer, she shouldn’t answer, she shouldn’t answer…

She doesn’t answer. (In fact, the incoming call cuts out just as Eve was reaching for it, but let her have this small victorious moment of self restraint, please. There have been so few, lately.)

Eve sighs once, smiles once despite herself, and then flips off her phone in a sudden, furious gesture.

Goddamnit, she’s on the run and wanted for murder in every country to have a law against that sort of thing, and yet Villanelle is still calling her? How does she know that there isn’t a whole police IT unit here ready to trace the call the second Eve answers?

Eve lies back on her hotel bed, absorbing the silence, the loneliness, and the complete lack of a police IT unit.

She picks up her phone, and passes it from hand to hand a couple of times, before placing it on her chest. Just above her heart.

I think about your eyes, I think about your mouth…

Her phone buzzes twice, vibrating.

The message from Villanelle just says Also rude.

…..

It’s probably not sensible to update the contact info to reflect the new nature of the situation.

Besides, what should she call her? Villanelle? Oksana? Psycho? Baby?

In the end Eve just leaves things as they were. The contact remains unknown.

….

She could text her back, maybe?

“Please stop contacting me” seems a bit redundant. Besides, its not as though “please stop” can have much of an impact on her.

Besides, it’s not as though Eve actually wants her to stop.

….

There is another text, four days later. It arrives when Eve is in the shower.

Anyway, I am alive. By the way.

Eve clamps down hard on her automatic reaction, which is to apologise.

I know. I managed to find the doctor who stitched you up, before I was removed. You scared him half to death.”

The return text takes only a moment.

But I didn’t kill him. You should be pleased.

Eve doesn’t answer.

……

Three days later, Unknown Number is calling again.

Eve has had two glasses of wine already, but that isn’t why she picks up.

“What?”

“Have you seen the show Silent Witness? Because I’m watching it and it is shit.”

None of Eve’s imagined conversations with Villanelle start like this, and she is momentarily at a loss. Villanelle carries on after a few seconds.

“Are you not familiar? It is… there is this blonde woman who pokes the dead bodies to decide who killed them. But she is extremely nosy and I wouldn’t be surprised if she is killed soon for being annoying.”

Eve manages some words.

“Uh, yeah. I know it. She oversteps her professional boundaries. But, she never dies. I mean, I’ve never seen her die.”

“Oh.” Villanelle sounds vaguely disappointed, and mutters something in an unknown language. She sighs heavily, and the tv that Eve can hear in the background is switched off.

“Where are you?” Eve surprises herself with the question. For half a second she panics that Villanelle might say “next door.”

“In a hotel. There is… a great deal of purple. Where are you? You aren’t at your house.”

Panic clutches at her.

“How do you know?”

“Oh, I have been calling your house number. Using a different voice each time, you know, for fun. Your husband is not very consistent about where you are. Sometimes you are at work, sometimes you are on holiday, sometimes you are with family, sometimes you no longer live there…”

Eve gulps at the idea of Villanelle talking to Niko.

“Please don’t kill him.”

Villanelle snorts.

“Why would I do that? I have not been paid to kill him? And he no longer has anything that I want.”

Eve tries to pick apart that sentence. Does that mean Niko no longer has Eve? Or that Villanelle no longer wants Eve?

“Anyway. I am not yet well enough for anything like that. No killing. Another two weeks without any strenuous activity, according to the very scared doctor. Or my intestines will rupture.”

This time Eve does apologise, she can’t help it.

“I’m so sorry - is it bad?”

Villanelle laughs, a small, choking laugh. “Yes, my god. It looks like someone stabbed me. I will never wear bikinis again.”

Eve bites her lip hard to avoid laughing, or apologising some more, she doesn’t know which is worse. Villanelle falls quiet, and there is a long moment of nothing.

“I used to look good in bikinis.” It is said with a mournful, wistful tone, as though Villanelle is remembering her best friend who was stabbed to death in a nightclub for no real reason.

Concentrate, dammit.

“Well. It can’t be the first time someone has tried to stab you.”

Villanelle clicks her tongue, and then says “No, lots of people have tried. You were the first successful one. Well done, I will make you a certificate, maybe? You see, I thought we were going to have sex. I thought you liked me. And then you stabbed me, which was extremely rude and also extremely painful.”

Eve closes her eyes, although that is somehow worse, because now she can imagine the look in her eyes, the way her mouth is moving…

“Are you going to kill me?”

Villanelle doesn’t say anything for a moment, and then says “No, I don’t think so. I thought I might want to stab you back, you know, just for balance, but I’m not sure. So I thought maybe we should talk on the phone first, so I can decide. I can’t stab you through the phone.”

“I don’t want you to stab me at all. I’m sorry, I don’t… I mean, I do like you. I didn’t mean to stab you- well, I did, but then immediately after I realised I hadn’t wanted to, not really, I was just trying to show you, oh I don’t know-”

There is a heavy sigh from the other end of the phone, and then Villanelle says “Okay, I am tired, and that was too many tenses at once for me to figure out what you are saying. You accidentally stabbed me? You slipped?”

“Don’t be a dick.”

“You stabbed me, but I’m the dick? Okay, okay…”

Eve lies back on the bed, exhausted. “You are exhausting.”

Villanelle says “I know. But at least I don’t over step my professional boundaries.”

And then the call cuts off.

….

Two days later, in a new town, in a new hotel room, Eve is staring at her phone.

She’s been completely cut off from her work. Eve doesn’t even know if they are still tracking Villanelle, or going after bigger fish.

She worries that they will find Villanelle before… before she is well enough to run. Before Eve can find her again.

It is a combination of these worries that encourages Eve to pick up the phone.

“Yes?”

“Are you safe?”

Eve can imagine Villanelle shrugging, looking around in an exaggerated manner.

“Yes? For now? I am changing my location regularly. Why, are you worried?”

Eve sighs, and then grumbles “Yes, but I don’t know who for, you, or the person who finds you. And, and… how do you know I haven’t given this number to the police?”

“Because you like me.”

It’s said so simply. Eve’s breath catches in her throat.

“Although that’s probably over stepping your professional boundaries.”

“Well, haha, I don’t know if this is my profession any more. I think I’ve been fired again. After I went awol and visited you in Paris. So that’s three times I’ve been fired because of you.”

“Tch, the third one doesn’t count. You can’t be fired from a job you didn’t have.”

Eve sighs heavily. “I’m not sure, I think Carol managed it.”

Villanelle mumbles something incomprehensible, and then says “Are you safe?”

Eve glances at the hotel door. It is locked.

“I guess so. It depends on whether you come to stab me.”

“I’m not going to kill you. I promised.”

“But you might stab me.”

Villanelle sighs restlessly. “I don’t know. I still haven’t decided. Probably not. Because you are being nice to me. Checking I am safe. It is nice.”

Eve blinks several times. “Well I am nice. Usually.”

“When you aren’t stabbing people.”

“When I’m not stabbing peop- wait, no that makes it sound like a regular occurrence, rather than, you know. A one time accident.”

“A deliberate accident.”

“An accidental accident.”

Villanelle grumbles “oh, sure” to herself, and then falls quiet.

Eve… Eve wants to know where she is, has she eaten, what she’s wearing, the exact rhythm of her heartbeat, whether she drinks her coffee black, what she sounds like when she-

“What do you want me to call you? Villanelle or Oksana?”

“Oh!” Villanelle humms to herself for a moment in consideration, and then says “I do not mind. You can call me what you would like.”

“Oksana is more normal.”

“Would you like me to be normal or not normal?”

God I don’t know. I would like almost everything to be different.”

Villanelle laughs, and then says “Oh dear, I am sorry about that. Me too.”

Eve rubs at her forehead, and briefly considers turning on her tv and suggesting they watch a movie together, over the phone. Villanelle clicks her tongue a few times, as though silence is difficult.

“I wish you had kissed me.”

Eve exhales heavily.

“Yes.”

……