“Eve Polastri, you piece of shit!”
“Eve, that’s enough.”
“Eve Polastri, you piece of shit!”
“Eve!” Carolyn snaps. “Concentrate on the driving, if you would.”
“Sorry.” Eve puts the smartphone down and returns her left hand to the steering wheel, eyes scanning the quiet street for any sign of Villanelle.
“I don’t know how we’re supposed to—there. There!” Eve points about fifty metres up the road. Two women, one tall and one short, have just stepped out onto the sidewalk. They’re wearing what appear to be white nightdresses. Eve accelerates.
The taller one turns around at the sound of their engine. She’s hunched over in pain, battered and bleeding and bruised, but it’s unmistakably Villanelle. She looks like shit.
Villanelle recognizes Eve as their car approaches and freezes like a frightened rabbit. Eve brakes next to her, so hard the tyres screech. She hits the button to unlock the car’s backseat doors and snarls “Get in!” through the window. Villanelle just stares, jaw slack.
“Get! In! The car!” Eve shrieks.
It seems to snap Villanelle out of her trance, and with surprising speed for the state she looks to be in, she opens the door, gets in, closes the door behind her, and lies flat on the back seat. Eve is struck with a moment of déjà vu, but she ignores it and floors the gas pedal with a lurch.
Four hours later ♦ MI6 Medical Facility “Ravenwood”
Eve is reflecting on Niko’s new smoking habit, and has herself about 80% convinced to start too, when Villanelle wakes up.
Though “awake” might be a stretch. Her eyes are glassy, pupils enormous, and it takes her a second to focus on Eve.
When she manages it, she smiles shyly, suddenly Oksana. “You came for me,” she says in a soft, scratchy voice.
Eve discards the first four things that spring to mind, and says the fifth, “I owed you one,” with a shrug. Her eyes flick to Villanelle’s abdomen, freshly cleaned and stitched and dressed, then back up to her face.
She’s afraid acknowledging it will piss Villanelle off, but the assassin’s smile only grows. “Oh Eve,” she says, and then falls back asleep.
When she wakes up again, she’s been handcuffed to the railing of the bed.
“Seriously?” she says to Eve, who’s still sitting across from her. She rattles the cuffs loudly.
“I didn’t—it wasn’t me who—” Eve stammers, then seems to remember who she’s talking to. “Yeah,” she says in a lower register. “Seriously.”
Villanelle closes her eyes and sighs so heavily that Eve thinks she’s fallen back to sleep. But her eyes drift open, marginally more alert.
“Where’s your boss? The tall lady. Is she coming to interrogate me?”
“Eventually,” Eve shrugs. “The doctors aren’t done with you.”
“Have you had sex with her yet?”
The question doesn’t even register at first, it’s so random. When it lands, Eve recoils in her shitty plastic chair. “Have I what? With Carolyn?”
It’s Villanelle’s turn to shrug. It pulls her stitches, and she braces for a stab of pain, but it’s vague behind a painkiller haze. She knows she should have a problem with this state of affairs, but she can’t remember why. “She’s sexy. You don’t like older women?”
Eve opens and closes her mouth like a fish. It’s not very attractive. “No, Villanelle, I haven’t fucked my boss.”
“Good,” says Villanelle. “I would be jealous.”
Then she passes out again.
The next time Villanelle wakes up, Eve is gone.
She dismisses a brief, irrational surge of panic. Eve hasn’t abandoned her. She’s gone to eat a meal or take a piss or comb her husband’s mustache. She’ll be back.
Sitting in the same shitty orange chair is Carolyn Martens, looking predictably impeccable. Carolyn hears Villanelle stir and looks up from her phone.
“Ah,” she says. “Hello again.”
“I’ll keep this brief for you,” Carolyn continues, cool and professional. It’s as though Villanelle is sipping coffee across a conference table from her, not lying helpless and beat to shit in a hospital bed. “You need at least a week of bed rest, not to mention a month of antibiotics. We can arrange that for you, in safety.”
“And in return?”
“You work for us. Help us take down the Twelve.”
“I was going to do that anyway,” Villanelle huffs.
“Then our interests align.” Carolyn smiles thinly. “Does that mean you accept?”
Villanelle scowls back at her. “What if I say no?”
“We drop you,” Carolyn says, without missing a beat, “right where we found you. You’ll be arrested for the murder of that man and might even live to stand trial for it.”
“Hey! That one was self-defence. He put his fingers in my mouth.”
Carolyn grimaces. “Well. In any event.” She claps her hands together once. “What’ll it be?”
When Eve comes back to the hospital room, Villanelle is sitting up in bed, carefully sipping on water. Eve is wearing the same clothes, Villanelle notes triumphantly, and she hasn’t showered. She’s worrying about me.
Eve startles a little when she sees Villanelle. “I didn’t think you’d be awake. I, I brought you some stuff.” She holds up a small canvas bag.
Villanelle’s eyes, still a little shiny from painkillers, widen. “Presents?”
Eve laughs. “Don’t get your hopes too high.” She starts taking things out of the bag and stacking them on the table next to Villanelle’s bed. “Book of crossword puzzles, pencil, trashy spy novel, bookmark, and… a couple of magazines.” She looks a little sheepish. “Hospitals are boring.”
Villanelle examines the novel. “You bought me a book… about spies? And assassins?”
“Uh, yeah,” Eve sort of laughs. “I thought, I don’t know. I thought it would be funny.”
Villanelle chuckles, then winces. “It is funny. But I will do the crosswords.”
There’s an awkward silence. Eve wrings her hands, then seems to come to a decision, taking her coat off and sitting back down in the orange plastic monstrosity.
Villanelle lifts her right wrist, free of the handcuffs she’d been in earlier. “You don’t need to guard me, you know. Me and your sexy boss had a talk.”
“I’m not—she’s—you talked to Carolyn?”
“Yes. She offered me a job. I said okay. I don’t have anything else going on right now.” She gestures vaguely, taking in the whole dingy hospital room. “Plus I could really use the benefits.”
“Smart-ass,” Eve scoffs. “So… we’ll be working together.”
“Yes,” says Villanelle, stroking the spine of the crossword book thoughtfully. “I’m looking forward to it.”