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Every Rose

Chapter Text

You don’t get to where Eve is without hard work.

She was brought up with it drilled into her by her parents, her teachers, her tutors; ‘You won’t get anywhere without hard work’.

So Eve worked hard, and she got results.

Eve liked results.

She threw herself into everything with results as her motivation. She aced tests, passed top of her classes, made enough money delivering papers and washing cars to buy herself the little things she wanted. She was a force to be reckoned with in athletics through middle school and high school, she was the first to sign up for extra curricular projects, and she was valedictorian when it came time to graduate.

Some called her an overachiever; she called it hard work.

Eve wasn’t upset when they moved back to England. England meant new rules and new lessons and new opportunities. New challenges.

She studied Anthropology at the University of Kent, devouring every comprehensive perspective on what it means to be human through culture, the arts, history, biology and evolution. She joined any group that would give her something new to learn without driving herself into an early, exhausted grave, and discovered she had a talent for drawing.

So she drew.

Eve studied Anthropology, and drew the lecture themes. She played football (football, Eve, not soccer anymore) with uni friends, and drew what she could remember from the matches. She worked part time at a pub, and drew the building on her breaks. She tutored kids at the nearby tennis club, and drew the surrounding nature after her sessions.

She drew.

And she loved it.

She went to life classes, sketched at museums, joined art groups, doodled in notebooks. She tried her hand at realism, illustration, technical drawing, manga. She dabbled in watercolour pencils, oil pastels, charcoal, chalk.

She was better at drawing styles with more rules, but that’s not to say she didn’t enjoy letting the pencil glide out of the realms of normality. She liked to play with bold lines and patterns just as much as she liked capturing photo like perfection on paper. It depended on her mood, really.

In short, Eve liked to draw.

She got her first tattoo when she was 21. She’d drawn it out carefully, got it exactly the way she wanted, worked hard on the design. It was the American robin, the state bird of Connecticut, and it was a way for her to proudly show where she’d grown up. Her design was an adaptation of the bird, with flowing lines and faded edges, identifiable enough to be the American robin but unique enough to be truly her own.

When she got to the tattoo parlour she’d chosen for its good reviews, she was seated on a leather sofa by a sweet girl with piercings in her lip and candy pink hair, who told Eve to wait just a few minutes while the artist prepped the chair. The low table in front of her housed huge portfolio books, and as Eve flipped one open she found sleeve after plastic sleeve full of drawings.

She quickly opened all of the books up and spread them in front of her, turning random pages, drinking in the colours and designs and contrasts between what were clearly the different styles of the various artists that worked at this studio. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes when a short guy walked over and caught her attention with a laugh.

“Having fun?”

He had a nice laugh, sort of scratchy, like he’d been talking or singing for too long. Eve looked up and took in the muscled guy in front of her, arms filled with dark lines and rich colours, his beard scruffy around the edges and his eyes bright behind his somewhat boring glasses.

“There’s so much.”

It’s all Eve can think to say right now, still half lost in the amount of work in front of her.

“Yeah, it’s a lot.” He says, walking around to her side of the table and peering down at the open portfolios. “Any time we draw some flash or whatever, it goes in those. And we spend a lot of time drawing, so.”

He gestures at the spread with a hand, smiling, and Eve smiles back.

“I love to draw.” She says, “I know I don’t look the type, but I love it. And all of this is just…” Eve trails off and shakes her head.

“I’m Joe.” Says the artist, reaching out his hand to shake Eve’s. “That’s my folder there. Full of a few years’ worth of drawing and doodles now. People choose pieces from it now and again, but I just can’t stop myself from packing more into it.”

He laughs again, and Eve pulls his book towards her, flicking through the pages. His work is bold, with thick lines and deep colours, but with a certain something that lends them a stained glass window sort of look, like his tattoos should be in the windows of cathedrals, not in the pages of plastic wallets tucked inside a book.

Eve feels like the weight of the slip of paper in her pocket, the paper her design is meticulously drawn onto, and it’s all of a sudden uncomfortable. She looks up at Joe, eyes focussed, and feels something far beyond the decision of a tattoo settle inside her chest.

“I’ve changed my mind,” she says, smiling at his confused look. “Forget the design I sent you the photo of. I want one of yours.”

Joe is smiling now too, but his eyebrows stay furrowed in confusion.

“You sure?” He half chuckles, “I don’t want you to regret a last minute decision.”

“I’m sure,” Eve nods, “Just look at all of this. The passion and the feeling and the hard work… I want one of your designs. A bird, if you have one.”

Joe is smiling fully now as he starts to walk away from the table, nodding his head towards a massage style chair wrapped in cling film in the corner.

“How about I draw one for you right now, an American robin.” He throws over his shoulder as he moves, “and you can show me your drawings too, while we talk. Who knows, maybe you’d make a good tattoo artist. Maybe you’ll have someone walk into your own studio one day, asking for you to draw them a bird.”

Eve’s heart flutters at the thought, and suddenly, after years of trying everything she can get her hands on, after learning everything available to her and working her ass off to discover it all, Eve knows what she wants to spend the rest of her life working hard on.

——

“Eve?”

Maybe if she doesn’t say anything, he’ll stop shouting for her from the front room and she can get on with her full inbox of emails.

“Eve!”

She rolls her eyes and groans.

“What do you want, Hugo?” Eve shouts back, rubbing at her forehead in frustration. “You know I’m busy.”

There’s the sound of muffled voices from the next room and Eve thinks that maybe Hugo will drop whatever ridiculous reason he needs her for so she can carry on with her emails, because honestly if she doesn’t get through at least a quarter of them today then-

“I know, but… she’s done it again.”

Eve doesn’t need telling that twice.

She slams her laptop shut with probably too much force as she pushes her chair back from her desk, then storms through her office space and into the studio.

The work day is in full swing in the studio, with both of her artists tattooing clients. Kenny is in the middle of giving a burly guy a huge rib piece of ruler straight lines and shapes in seemingly random places, but knowing Kenny and his eye for detail, the tattoo will be a geometric masterpiece. Elena has two clients, girls around uni age, one watching excitedly as the other gets a tattoo featuring a vibrantly coloured nude woman surrounded by stars, another one of Elena’s popular ‘love yourself’ pieces.

Kenny is frowning at his work, tattoo gun in hand, clearly trying and failing to ignore what’s going on, while Elena is barely concealing her amusement at the entire situation. She glances up at Eve as she storms in, clearly struggling not to laugh, and Eve throws a scowl at her.

Her body modification expert Hugo is standing by the large front window, arms folded as he stares out at what Eve expects to be the reason she won’t get her emails to clients answered any time soon.

“Hugo,” she mutters darkly as she approaches. “You’ve been on front desk for an hour, how did you not notice her?”

Hugo turns to her and puts his hands up in defence.

“I swear Eve, I answered the phone and looked away for like two minutes, max.” He says, exasperated and a little touchy at being blamed. “It’s like she was waiting, or something. I don’t know how she does it.”

Eve groans angrily, and looks out the window to see that yes, she has indeed ‘done it again’.

The pathway outside of the studio is covered in old plant clippings, dead petals, and compost, already starting to dry out and warm up in the July sun. The stuff seems to be everywhere, it’s blocking people from walking on the path by the window and door, and Eve lets out an unhappy groan as she thuds her forehead against the glass. It’ll take forever to clean up.

Eve sends a silent and mournful goodbye to her email answering session.

She notices a young woman with curly blonde hair approach the studio then stop when she almost steps on the mess, nose wrinkling at the undoubtedly terrible smell. Eve sighs as she pushes herself away from the window and walks to the door.

She swings it open and smiles a strained smile at the woman.

“Hello, are you my 2:15?”

The woman looks a bit taken aback by Eve’s sudden appearance.

“Uh, yes, I think? 2:15 with Eve, I’m Amber. I’m-“

“Awesome, hi Amber,” Eve interrupts. “I’m afraid you’ll have to bear with me for a moment. I have a tiny issue I need to take care of first, as I’m sure you can see.”

Amber nods with wide eyes as Eve leaves the studio and takes a wide step over the mulch to walk along the road edge. She can feel Amber’s curious gaze on her back as she walks the 10 steps to the neighbouring building.

Although an exact mirror image of her own two story red brick building, the front of the neighbouring store couldn’t be more different to Eve’s own.

Eve’s tattoo parlour, Original Sin (she’ll forever be grateful to Joe for giving her that name idea 10 years prior), features only a door and large window, both with painted black frames, below a white sign bearing the studio’s name in clear, bold lettering. The sleek and minimal colouring works with the red brick perfectly, lending the studio a stylish, modern vibe that people on the street are drawn to, many of which peer through the window to watch the artists at work before sometimes wandering in themselves.

The building next door, however, is another story.

It’s a florist.

Crammed along the wall of the shop front are flowers and potted plants, some perched on upturned crates and wooden pallets in a way that would look messy if it didn’t look so damn ‘instagram’. Vines of rich green leaves climb up the brick wall, crawling over the window and curling through the now unmovable awning, before finally twisting themselves around the ‘G’ of the bright pink neon sign fixed to the brick.

The cursive ‘Garden of Eden’ wording glows pink, even in the early afternoon sunlight .

Eve often thinks it’s some kind of cruel twist of fate that her infuriating neighbour would call her flower shop something that relates to Eve’s studio name and her own name so much.

Eve stops in front of the frustratingly beautiful storefront and steels herself.

“Villanelle!” She barks angrily.

Moments later, a head pops up at the window, waving cheerily at Eve.

Villanelle.

Villanelle was the owner of Garden of Eden, and is, according to Elena, florist royalty.

She is, according to Eve, a royal pain in the ass.

Villanelle seemed hell bent on ruining Eve’s working life. If she wasn’t dumping plant garbage in front of her studio, she was ordering sacks of fresh compost to be delivered and left at her studio door. If she wasn’t ordering compost, she was ‘accidentally’ spraying the studio window with her hose on full blast, making the artists jump while working. If she wasn’t spraying the window with her hose, she was parading up and down the path yelling about botany and charming people into the florist while blocking Eve’s door.

And yeah, okay, so Eve gets back at Villanelle in turn every single time, but the stuff Eve does is nowhere near as annoying, in her opinion. She blasts her studio music to ruin the gentle French tunes Villanelle plays in her florist. She slams the hinged lid of their giant shared outdoor bin extra hard against Villanelle’s side wall, and doesn’t apologise if she hears a shelved pot fall and crack followed by a muffled yell of anger. She smears the tattoo lotion they sell to customers all the way along Villanelle’s big window as she walks by to head to the coffee shop on the corner.

So you know, way less annoying.

And anyway, Villanelle started it.

But that’s not important right now.

What’s important right now is Villanelle stepping out of her doorway, smiling as if nothing’s wrong and she hasn’t just dumped a load of stinking crap outside Eve’s studio.

It only takes a second for Eve to look Villanelle up and down, taking in her, no doubt, designer jeans and her loose pastel blue tee that probably cost more than Eve’s tattoo sleeve. Her honey blonde hair is loose over her shoulders and her hands have smears if soil on them as she crosses her arms casually and grins at Eve.

“Eve. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Cut the crap, Villanelle.” Eve bites out, “Why does the front of my studio look like your compost heap?”

Villanelle taps one mucky finger against her chin, faux thoughtfulness painted across her face.

“Raccoons?” She shrugs, her soft Russian accent curling around the word. “Must be those pesky raccoons again, getting into the bins.”

Eve sighs angrily.

“Once again, Villanelle, this is London.” Eve says, irritated. “There are no wild raccoons in London.”

Villanelle smiles pityingly from her doorway as if Eve is missing out on something the whole world already knows.

“There are on this street, Eve. Surely the last six times this has happened has shown you that.”

“No, Eve’s right, there are no raccoons in London.”

Eve looks over her shoulder to see her client, Amber, watching them both with innocent interest.

Eve looks back at Villanelle, whose face has dropped into a displeased grimace.

“Who are you?” She asks, clearly annoyed that someone has interrupted her and Eve’s conversation.

“She’s my 2:15,” Eve replies pointedly, “who couldn’t get through my front door because of the trail of shitty plant crap you left there.”

“It is not ‘shitty plant crap’, Eve,” Villanelle says hotly, and Eve smirks, satisfied that she’s hit the usual nerve. “That ‘crap’ is essential to the growth of green life, it’s the very essence of-”

“Hey did you guys both name your shops after the whole Adam and Eve biblical thing on purpose? Because-”

“No.” Villanelle and Eve both bark at Amber at the same time.

Eve turns back to Villanelle and glares at her.

“Clean up your mess, Villanelle.” She says cooly, “or I’ll pour salt on your favourite monstera plant.”

“Do not drag the innocents into this,” Villanelle glowers and folds her arms tighter. “My babies have nothing to do with-”

“It’s twenty past, do I get a discount seeing as there’ll be less time for my tattoo?”

Eve is contemplating lying and telling Amber that she has a strict ‘no talking’ policy during her sessions.

“And now you’ve cost me money.” Eve says to Villanelle, holding her arms out by her side before dropping them back down angrily. “Thanks a lot.”

Villanelle sneers and opens her mouth to reply just as Amber cuts her off with a happy clap.

“Yay! Money off!”

Eve rolls her eyes and turns to hurry Amber back in the direction of her studio, stepping over lumps of compost as she does so.

“Clean it up, Poison Ivy!” Eve yells grumpily over her shoulder.

“Ask the raccoons, little robin!” Villanelle shouts back in a sing song voice.

“That was fun.” says Amber obliviously, to Eve.

“Shut up, Amber.”

Chapter Text

Villanelle first discovered the power of plants at the tender age of 7, when she accidentally killed her pet bunny, Lenoshka, by feeding it a bunch of foxgloves from a nearby field.

She still maintains her excuse from back then, that if Lenoshka had been a smarter bunny then she wouldn’t have eaten the flowers fed to her, because bunnies are supposed to be able to tell when plants are poisonous and therefore avoid them.

So really, it wasn’t little Villanelle’s fault.

After her second rabbit died from suspiciously similar circumstances, Villanelle was no longer allowed pets.

She was, however, allowed a library card, and luckily for her, the books that she was interested in were on the preapproved list for the Russian public.

Each weekend, she’d ask her parents to take her to the Russian State Library, where she’d spend hours pouring over information books on the types of flowers and plants that grew in Russia while her parents left to do some shopping. When her parents were finally able to convince her to leave each time, she’d beg them to let her borrow books on plants from the library to read at home, and each time they’d readily agree because a child reading non-fiction is better than a child poisoning the neighbourhood rabbits.

As Villanelle grew, so did her passion for all things plant based.

She found high school a breeze academically, excelling at languages and biology, whereas socially she was what her teachers described as ‘unwilling to work on her interpersonal skills’, whatever that meant. Her parents told her it was all the fighting, and the coercing of other kids out of their lunch, but Villanelle is still unconvinced.

When she turned 18, Villanelle began to make plans to move away from Russia. She needed more. More life, more greenery, more vibrancy, and Russia had started to lack in that area. Her parents were okay with her plan, more than happy to send her on her way with money, and with only a small amount of relief obvious on their faces when they realised their antiques would no longer be surrounded by climber plants.

The fact that they’d gain back the use of their conservatory without breathing in some type of slightly toxic pollen or vapour was also a plus; teenage Villanelle was a fan of the more dangerous vegetation. They still don’t know how she’d managed to get ahold of those particular types of seeds.

Discovering London had been bittersweet. Never had she been somewhere so full of learning and life, yet with so little green life in the spaces in between. It was all grey, all metal and old stone and roads, and to get to the greenery she had to take tubes or busses, and even then it was surrounded on every side by more grey.

She found herself a small but nice apartment and filled it with good looking furniture, pieces from boutiques and antique stores and anywhere else that boasted high-end furniture that could turn her mini flat into a luxurious pad. Every shelf was loaded with books on plants kept upright by the plants themselves, while each room corner housed large plants in beautifully glazed pots. Her favourite hanging plants trailed down gracefully from the curtain poles in every room and over the sides of her ceramic hanging planters to tickle at the sleek wooden floorboards and expensive wool rugs.

All in all it was a botany lover’s paradise, and it was Villanelle’s escape. Her home.

Never being one for the limitations of schooling, Villanelle decided that university wasn’t for her. She already knew from books what they’d teach her anyway, so skipping the extortionate tuition fee was a no brainer, really. Instead, she signed up to do a floristry course at a nearby college while working part time at a landscaping company, earning a wage by planting flower beds in rich people’s gardens.

She loved getting home at the end of the day with dirt under her nails.

Villanelle spent her spare time reading books on botany at the library, where she met numerous other female students studying their own fields. It was in these instances and the instances that followed them that Villanelle realised her teachers’ views on her social behaviour applied only to school friendships.

Villanelle soon discovered that it wasn’t just plants that she had a passion for.

She liked making more than just flowers bloom.

And so Villanelle’s time was spent between landscaping shifts, women, floristry courses, women, botany research, women and sometimes men too, shopping, more women, and so on.

It was an extremely pleasant life, and it was a life full of life.

It was while she was winding climber vines around a wooden frame in a rooftop garden bar owned by a serious but welcoming man named Konstantin, that she was struck with a thought she should’ve had sooner.

Why was she building pergolas when she could be building a business?

——

Villanelle stares at the sky thoughtfully as she mentally checks her body for any pain.

The back of her head aches from the impact, she notes from her lying down position on the ground, but she’d kept it up instinctively so it didn’t take the full force of the fall.

Her lower back is killing her, because that had taken the brunt of it when she’d slipped. Villanelle winces as she shifts her spine, but besides those aches she can’t feel any other discomfort. Not that she’d expected any; she knows how to fall safely to avoid potential injury. She’s not an idiot.

She stays on the ground for a few more moments and watches the clouds twist together, but is interrupted as a shadow falls over her face.

Eve is leaning over her, eyebrows raised and smirk in place.

“Have a nice trip?”

Eve is wearing her usual attire, Villanelle can see from this angle. Tight high-waisted black jeans plus a black leather belt, plain black t-shirt tucked into the jeans, intricate yet bold tattoo sleeve running down her left arm, and wild curly black hair creating some kind of gloriously dark halo around her head. Eve paints an intimidating figure to those who don’t know her well, but Villanelle likes to think she knows Eve a little better than most. You don’t spend 5 years as neighbours without getting to know each other at least a bit.

Villanelle looks away from Eve calmly and continues to study the clouds.

“That is a terrible joke,” she says casually, watching clouds merge into each other. “If you’re going to come and inspect your handiwork, at least have a better line prepared.”

It’s Villanelle’s turn to smirk as the smug expression slips from Eve’s face. Villanelle looks around from her prone position, and her smirk widens when she spots the yellow ‘wet floor’ sign propped against the outside of her shop door.

“Did you put that sign there to stop any of my customers falling victim to your little Vaseline puddle prank?” Villanelle chuckles, shaking her head. “Oh Eve, you continue to surprise me with how bad you are at this game.”

“No, no,” Eve starts, already getting annoyed. “You don’t get to do that. I got you, you fell, and now you’re… you’re gonna have a headache all day, and that’ll be so annoying for you, because-”

“Because what? Because the incessant buzzing from your place isn’t enough to have already given me a headache these past few years?”

“Look Villanelle, I've said before that if you hate the buzzing so much then you could just move. Hey, I’ll even help you pack-”

“Oh yes, you’d like me to leave, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, yeah, that’s why I’m offering.”

“Enough,” Villanelle barks from her position on the pavement. “I am done with this conversation, so if you are not going to help me up, then-”

“Okay, bye!”

Eve’s smug voice accompanies her disappearing from Villanelle’s view, but another voice breaks the quiet almost immediately.

“Oh my god, are you okay?”

Villanelle pushes herself up onto her elbows to stare down the path in the direction of the voice.

“Oh, hi Maria.” Villanelle raises one hand in a small wave, as one of the ladies from the local bakery comes rushing towards them.

“Hi Maria!”

Villanelle smirks at Eve’s hopeful voice. Although she can’t see the woman behind her, she knows Eve has just tucked her hair behind her ear, probably with a nervous smile in place.

“Hey Eve,” the small strawberry blonde woman says quickly, before bending down over Villanelle. “Villanelle, what happened? Are you okay?”

And really, this was all working out so perfectly.

“Oh, Maria, please, I am fine. I just slipped.” She flashes her most charming smile up at the young woman. “Please do not worry. My old pal Eve here was just making fun of me falling, you know how friends are.”

“What? Eve, she could’ve really hurt herself.”

Villanelle hears Eve start to sputter.

“No, no I wasn’t, I was just about to help her up-”

“Really? Because it looked like you were walking away. That’s not very kind, Eve, poor Villanelle.”

Villanelle herself is trying to contain the glee she feels at hearing the disappointment in Maria’s voice aimed at the woman who is so clearly crushing on her.

Maria’s hand reaches out and she gently pulls Villanelle to her feet, who grimaces again at the ache in her lower back.

Honestly, Eve deserves this for the bruising Villanelle will have to deal with for the next week alone.

“Thank you Maria, you’re too sweet.” Villanelle says, smiling at her. “Just like your beautiful cakes.”

“Oh, stop it.” Maria blushes, slapping Villanelle on the arm softly.

“She’s right, your cakes are beautiful Maria.”

Villanelle can barely hold back the eye roll at Eve’s attempt at inserting herself back into the conversation.

“Thanks.” Maria tells Eve quickly, before turning back fully to Villanelle. “Come on V, you can have a red velvet cupcake on the house, I know that’ll make you feel better.”

Villanelle clutches her heart dramatically.

“Gosh, you really are lovely, Maria.”

As she starts to follow Maria down the pavement to the bakery, she turns to throw Eve a smirking grin over her shoulder.

The scowl and angry half-shriek of frustration that come from Eve are far more delicious than any red velvet cupcake.

——

Later that day, Villanelle locks the front door from the inside and flicks the switch that controls her neon ‘Garden of Eden’ sign to off. She casts one last sweeping glance around the shop space at her plants before heading through to the back room where she usually prepares the bouquets and wreaths, checking that she’s put her tools away before flicking the light off in there too.

There’s only one room left on the ground floor, and as she heads into it she feels herself start to slip into home mode. Her kitchen is spacious and bright, also bursting with plants, and Villanelle heads over to the fridge to see what she can make for dinner.

After pulling out chicken and veg, she turns on her radio and hums along to whatever pop song is filtering out of the speakers, hip checking drawers closed as she grabs tools to prepare her dinner.

She spots a light come on in the window of the neighbouring building as she sits down to eat.

Their buildings are mirror images of each other, and she knows that Eve’s kitchen is at the back of her house too. Eve must’ve just finished up for the day, because she suddenly appears at the window, talking animatedly on the phone while looking at something on her kitchen counter.

Villanelle studies Eve while she chats, chewing on her chicken stir fry thoughtfully as she watches her end the call and ruffle her hair tiredly. She catches a glimpse of the underside of Eve’s tattoo sleeve, sees the lines and shapes there that she knows make up a death’s-head hawkmoth, and she wonders not for the first time is Eve is a movie fan, and if her tattoo is an homage to Silence of the Lambs.

Villanelle loves that movie.

Eve moves away from the window then and doesn’t reappear for a while, only passing again when Villanelle has finished eating and is flicking through her phone before she starts the dishes. She hears the familiar rumble of a bike engine outside and rolls her eyes. This is the second time this week Eve has ordered takeout, and it’s only Thursday. She really needs to learn how to cook.

It’s around 9pm when Villanelle heads upstairs to her living room, pausing only to grab a well worn copy of The Botany of Desire from her bookshelf before heading into her bedroom. Plants fill this space too, but only her absolute favourites get pride of place in this room.

In the corner stands a tall Areca palm, a housewarming gift from Konstantin when she’d finally secured this building for her own. Her friendship with Konstantin was a good one, all starting from their chats as she built his rooftop garden for him. His bar was just down the road from here, so she saw him regularly, keeping him up to date with her rivalry with Eve which never failed to make him laugh.

A slightly smaller rubber plant stands next to the Areca palm, its large flat leaves shining in the glow from the floor lamp nearby. It was the first rubber plant she’d bought to sell in her shop, and for some reason she was never able to part with it.

The pot of flowering maple she’d found at a car boot sale sits on her windowsill, almost smothering the peace lilies sent by her parents. Villanelle moves to her window to separate the two, giving the lilies space to breathe, before something across the alleyway separating hers and Eve’s homes catches her eye.

It’s a plant.

A plant is sat on Eve’s windowsill, gently swaying in the breeze coming from the open window.

Normally this wouldn’t be a strange thing to see, but ever since this feud started between Eve and herself, the reason for which she will never talk about, Eve has done everything in her power to give off the impression that she hates plants.

It’s stupid, and immature, and Villanelle is still bothered by it.

But whatever. There’s a plant there, in a little ceramic blue pot, and it looks like a… Chinese money plant? A young one, Villanelle thinks. Recently watered too, if the droplets on the leaves catching the light are anything to go by.

Eve suddenly appears at the window and spots Villanelle, who narrows her eyes before nodding curiously at the small plant. Eve smiles innocently and touches one of the leaves delicately.

Eve is dressed for lounging, in a grey raglan tee and her hair up in a loose bun, curls spilling out and framing her face around the trendy reading glasses perched over her eyes.

She’s still stroking one of the leaves with an almost caring expression on her face when Villanelle realises what’s about to happen.

Because, obviously. She’s an idiot for not realising it sooner.

Eve looks up with a dangerous smirk, and Villanelle doesn’t even get a chance to shout ‘stop’ before Eve casually bats the back of her hand into the pot, sending it tumbling, plant and all, down from the second floor window and crashing to the alleyway pavement below.

Villanelle stares down at the mess of soil and leaves, her hands pressed against the glass, almost feeling the pain of the poor innocent plant, before looking back up with a thunderous glare at Eve.

Eve, who mouths ‘oops’ at Villanelle through her smirk, before dropping her blinds and turning out her light.

Villanelle turns furiously on her heels and stomps back through to her living room, grabbing her laptop and immediately loading up the page for her plant wholesaler.

A few clicks later and Villanelle can breathe again.

Lets see how Eve likes 35 Chinese money plants on her doorstep.

Chapter Text

Despite what she’s lead Villanelle to believe, Eve doesn’t actually hate plants.

She loves going for runs through the park, she loves going on mini breaks to the Norfolk coast during summer, she loves driving out to Epping forest and drawing in the shade of the trees.

But Villanelle can’t know any of that.

Not when Eve’s ‘hatred’ of plants winds the other woman up so wonderfully.

She’d felt bad about the money plant stunt for a moment, before conjuring the image of Villanelle grinning at her while trailing behind cute Maria from the bakery. Once she got that picture back in her head, it really was very easy to knock the little plant to its untimely death.

She’s not a psychopath. She just has a really shitty neighbour.

Anyway.

Eve is thinking about plants today as she sits in her corner of the studio, sketching out a design featuring a haunting woodland scape. She’s humming along to whatever hip hop track is playing courtesy of Elena, when she’s interrupted from her drawing by the door banging open revealing a familiar figure.

“Code V, Eve! Code V!”

Eve rolls her eyes.

“Yes, thank you Hugo, I can see that.” Eve says over the sound of Kenny’s tattoo gun. “I’m sitting right here.”

Hugo shrugs and goes back to arranging the piercing station ready for walk-ins like Villanelle isn’t just standing in their doorway.

“Hello, sinners.”

“Don’t call us that.” Eve says sharply. “What do you want?”

“What? I can’t stop by and see my favourite neighbours?” Villanelle spreads her arms out to gesture around the room. “You, and Elena, and the quiet maths guy, and the one with the loud voice and bad shirts?”

“Hey.” Hugo pipes up indignantly.

Villanelle flaps a hand at him.

“Whatever. Can’t a neighbour stop by and say hello?”

“No,” Eve replies blankly. “Go away.”

“You’re so mean, Eve. Is it because I clogged your gutter drain with flower stems again?”

“You what?”

Villanelle ignores her and claps her hands together once as if that solves it, while Eve groans tiredly and buries her face in her hands. “Anyway, I am here to talk to you.”

“Well, I’m busy.” Eve says, turning back to her iPad to continue her sketch. “So if you’ll excuse me-”

“Not you, Eve.”

Oh.

“Oh.”

Eve looks back up at Villanelle as the blonde starts walking towards Elena, a bounce in her step as she approaches Eve’s colour tattoo expert. Elena has been watching the scene with amusement, as usual, but even she looks a little bewildered as Villanelle comes to a stop in front of her.

“I saw on your Instagram story last night that you’re a Lizzo fan.”

Elena smiles at her uncertainly from her chair, fingers pausing in their fiddling of her tattoo gun.

“Uh, yeah, I am.” Elena replies.

And it’s like Villanelle has been pricked with a pin, the way she suddenly lets all her air out in an excited whoosh of breath.

“Oh my god, I love her so much, isn’t she amazing?”

“Um, try incredible?”

Eve watches as the two young women start gushing about this Lizzo person with an uneasy feeling in her chest. Villanelle sure was upping her feud game if she was now purposefully chatting with Eve’s own friends just to rile her up.

Villanelle has perched gently on Elena’s tattoo bed and is gesturing wildly with her hands, saying something about a flute and thighs and Elena is nodding enthusiastically, laughing along and giving back just as much energy as Villanelle is giving her.

Eve reluctantly turns back to her iPad, trying to block the two excited women from her mind, and then she realises; Villanelle is doing this to get at her.

Villanelle is taking the attention off of Eve to mess with her, to unsettle her, to lead her into a false sense of security, and then she’ll strike. It makes total sense. Eve is almost impressed.

It’s a little sad that Elena is getting roped into it, but she’s an adult, she’ll be fine once she’s been dropped after Villanelle sees that it’s not affecting Eve.

It’s only a matter of time.

——

Two weeks later, Elena is slipping quietly into the studio.

“You’re 15 minutes late, Elena.”

“You know, any other tattoo studio wouldn’t be all that bothered by a late artist, as long as they weren’t late for an appointment.”

Eve flicks her gaze from her ink pots to Elena, putting on her best ‘scary Eve’ expression.

“This isn’t any other tattoo studio, though, is it.”

Elena looks as though she’s about to argue before clearly deciding against it, flashing Eve an apologetic smile.

“Sorry boss.”

“It’s fine.” Eve replies, going back to arranging her ink pots for her first session. “How come you were late, anyway?”

“Oh uh, just, traffic, y’know… Wednesday morning rush.”

Eve fixes Elena with a suspicious gaze.

“You live two streets away.”

Elena purses her lips guiltily.

“Um… foot traffic?”

But before Eve can say anything to that, the studio door is swinging open loudly and Villanelle is leaning through.

Eve’s hackles immediately go up, ready to deliver a sarcastic remark at the sudden appearance of her neighbour, when she realises Villanelle is waving something at Elena and ignoring Eve completely.

“Hey idiot, you managed to put your wallet in my bag.” She says fondly, getting ready to throw Elena the wallet. “You’re really not a morning person.”

Elena catches the wallet as it flies across the studio, smiling gratefully at Villanelle.

“Shit, thanks, sorry.” Elena says, shaking her head. “Coffee again on Friday?”

“Sure.” Villanelle nods. “We can talk about those Lizzo tickets for November.”

Eve stares at the back of Elena’s head as she bids Villanelle goodbye with a wave, who steps out the door without even a word to Eve. Not that Eve wanted a word, anyway.

She focuses her energy on Elena instead, who is here and in front of her and easier to understand, instead of dwelling on why Villanelle isn’t talking to her, if it’s part of her plan to get at Eve, or if maybe the feud is over, or if-

Snap out of it, Eve.

“So. Chummy coffee mornings, huh?”

Elena turns around to face Eve, wary expression already in place as she twists her bag strap in her hands.

“Listen, Eve, I know it may be hard to believe, but Villanelle is actually pretty decent-”

Eve interrupts her with a scoff of disgust, but Elena pushes on.

“She’s pretty decent and also really fucking funny, and we just get on, y’know? We’re mates. We hang out and get coffee and listen to music. She’s my fr-”

“Don’t say it.” Eve snaps, and she knows she sounds like a dramatic teenager, she knows she does, but this just feels like some sort of betrayal, like her trust has been broken, like-

“Eve, stop it.” Elena says, planting a hand on her hip and settling Eve with a firm look. “You are my boss, and you are my friend, but you do not have a say in who else I’m friends with, despite whatever silly rivalries may be happening between said friends.”

And fuck, Eve can definitely feel a sulk coming on for the first time in 20 years while being stared down. She folds her arms and looks away from Elena, trying to hide her moody expression.

“Fine.” mumbles Eve. “But she’s plotting something, I can feel it.”

“Maybe.” Elena replies before moving into her own corner of the studio. “But if she is, I don’t know anything about it. We don’t talk about you.”

And for some stupid reason, that makes her moodier than the last five minutes put together.

——

Eve is still fully convinced that Villanelle’s sudden friendship with Elena is a way of getting at her.

She just hasn’t figured out how, yet.

And she doesn’t mean it in a bad way against Elena, god no, Elena is great and anyone would be lucky to have her as a friend.

It’s just that Villanelle’s attention for the past five years has been on her, and now it’s… not.

And there’s something up with that, right? There has to be.

She wouldn’t just switch her attention from Eve to Elena overnight for no reason, there’s no sense in it. Why would she just suddenly stop targeting Eve?

Unless…

Unless Elena is Villanelle’s new target.

Eve grabs her phone from the coffee table and straightens up on her sofa, flicking through quickly and finding Elena’s text thread.

Eve: ELENA

Elena: Who’s died??

Eve: What?

Elena: If you’re texting me at a quarter to midnight in all caps it better be because a famous person has died

Elena: and not something about work or whatever

Elena: if it’s about work I’m leaving you on read

Eve: I’m your boss, you can’t ‘leave me on read’

Eve: What does that even mean?

Eve: Elena?

Eve: Elena it’s not about work.

Elena: okay. So who died

Eve: Jesus, no one died, I’m sorry if that disappoints you.

Elena: I mean kinda

Eve: I’m worried about something. And I need you to hear me out.

Elena: oh for fuck’s sake Eve is this about V again?

Eve: V? You call her ‘V’ now? Wow. It’s been 2 weeks.

Elena: yes Eve, because mates give each other nicknames

Elena: and also Villanelle is a super long name to keep typing out

Eve: Okay fine. And yes, it is about ‘V’ again.

Eve: BUT BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING

Eve: I just want to get my thoughts out there. Okay?

Elena: oh christ

Eve: First of all, I think it’s weird that she all of a sudden wants to be best friends with you.

Elena: excuse me?

Eve: No no wait. I’m worried she’s using you, or moving on to target you. I think it’s weird because there was no like… in between? It wasn’t a friendship moving into a best friendship. It was zero to ‘I heart Lizzie’ real fast.

Elena: Lizzo.

Eve: What?

Elena: good lord never mind carry on

Eve: Okay. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is she hasn’t said a word to me in over a week. Which is weird? Because all she usually does is say words to me to make me mad. She loves doing that.

Eve: Why stop now?

Elena: because she remembered neither of you are 13 years old?

Eve: Elena, please, I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you.

Elena: keep trying

Eve: THIRDLY. Thirdly, she’s not pranked me for two weeks. Not since the blocked gutter. That’s a record for us.

Eve: Her* a record for her.

Eve: And it’s just weird that these things have all fallen at the same time, you know?

Elena: so let me get this straight.

Elena: becoming friends with Elena + not bothering Eve + stopping the ridiculous rivalry = Villanelle is planning on destroying you with a new friendship as her weapon?

Elena: is that about the jist of it?

Eve: Yes! That’s exactly it, do you see now??

Elena: you’re insane and I’m going to bed, love you x

Eve stares blankly at her phone for a few moments longer, before scrolling back through their messages to see if she really did sound insane.

Nope, totally logical.

Eve sighs in frustration before tossing her phone back on the table. This was stupid. And unfair. She knows Villanelle is up to something.

The others just don’t seem to get it. For five years, Villanelle has been focussed on her. She’s been finding ways to make Eve annoyed, to make Eve retaliate, to make Eve stoop to childish levels she never thought she’d be stooping to at 40.

The only time there’d ever been anything close to a friendship between herself and Villanelle was back when-

Anyway.

Maybe Eve should stop trying to work out what’s going on. Maybe the best course of action here would be to just let it play out. Let it happen. Because eventually Villanelle will slip up, or launch her attack, or whatever, and Eve will just have to be ready to give back as good as she gets. Maybe she should start planning revenge now, actually.

And if Villanelle really was just interested in being friends with Elena, then great, cool! Awesome! Finally, y’know? Finally moving on from torturing Eve to live a normal adult life, and letting Eve get on with hers. That’s exactly what Eve wants. Exactly.

Fuck.

She drops her head against the sofa arm with a groan before grabbing the blanket from the cushions, curling it around herself like a cocoon. Maybe she’ll emerge from it with new wings, and new clarity on this whole confusing situation.

——

Distracted from her drawing, Eve glances around the studio at what the others are up to.

Kenny is drawing too, headphones on, his digital drawing pad hooked up to his laptop as he sketches out patterns without needing any kind of ruler tool.

Hugo is with a client, a little girl getting her ears pierced with her mum stood nervously behind them, the promise of a glittery ‘I’m brave and cool’ sticker sparkling from his side table.

Elena’s station is empty, having taken the morning off, but Eve is expecting her any minute.

She imagines, not at all bitterly, that Elena is probably having coffee with Villanelle. It’s been three weeks since the start of their friendship and Eve is starting to realise that maybe, maybe, it is just that. A friendship. And that maybe, maybe, Villanelle has decided that their feud has run its course and she has decided to drop it.

Good.

Eve shakes her head a little to clear her thoughts, then turns back to her iPad to finish her drawing.

But why won’t Villanelle talk to her? It’s been nearly two weeks. Granted, Eve hasn’t said a word to her either, but surely Villanelle would say something to her if she’s decided to let go of their rivalry?

Or maybe she’s waiting for Eve to say something first? That could be it. Yeah, maybe Villanelle was waiting for Eve. Maybe if Eve bit the bullet and apologised first, Villanelle would follow, and they could become civil neighbours who occasionally say hello to each other in passing, a smile on both of their faces.

That sounds… fine.

She won’t let her mind even get close to the vicinity of the word ‘boring’.

She is interrupted from pretending to concentrate on her work by the door opening, bringing with it the sound of laughter from Elena and Villanelle. Eve looks up to see them saying goodbye to each other, Elena with a coffee in her hand and Villanelle with two.

Eve opens her mouth to greet Elena, but stops at the sight of Villanelle walking directly towards her.

She narrows her eyes slightly as she looks up at Villanelle’s approaching figure.

“Villanelle.” she says tersely when the woman comes to a stop.

“Eve.” Villanelle replies with a nod, voice strained.

Eve doesn’t know what to say, but it looks as though Villanelle is building up to something, so she stays quiet while the younger woman takes a steadying breath.

“I brought you this.”

Villanelle holds out the coffee cup.

“Mocha with oat milk. No cream. Extra chocolate sprinkles.”

Eve stares at the proffered cup, steam curling from the cut out hole in the lid. She glances at Elena, who is watching the scene with a mix of interest and amusement, before looking back to Villanelle and the cup still in her hand.

When did the room get so quiet?

Eve takes the cup.

“Uh… thank you, Villanelle.” Eve says stiltedly. “This is, um… very sweet of you.”

Villanelle nods, and the corners of her lips curl up into a small smile.

“Just a little something to end the period of no talking.” Villanelle says, shrugging a little before taking a quick sip of her own drink. “So… yes.”

“Thank you.” Eve says again, quietly, sincerely.

And then it looks like Villanelle’s smile drops for a millisecond, but quick as a flash it’s back and bigger and she starts backing away. She nods once more at Eve, then turns to wave at Elena with a grin and a ‘bye’, before pushing her way out of the studio.

“Well.” says Hugo, he and his clients staring at her with wide eyes.

“Well.” says Elena, looking thoroughly amused.

“Well.” says Kenny, who Eve hadn’t even realised was paying any sort of attention to any of them.

“Well.” Eve agrees, peering down at her coffee-come-peace offering. The steam rising from the lid smells delicious, the perfect blend of coffee and chocolate, and she smiles to herself before taking a sip.

The sip ends up sprayed across the studio, splashing her workstation and the floor with deep brown drops of coffee.

Or hot, mocha flavoured salt water, might be a better way to describe it.

Eve is gagging and scrubbing at her tongue with some kitchen roll when the sound of laughter makes her look away from the mess and up at the door.

Villanelle is standing there in the window, clutching her chest while laughing.

“Sorry you’re still so salty, Eve!” she yells through the glass, before making the devil horns symbol with her fingers and opening her mouth wide to waggle her tongue. Then she stalks off, still laughing, as Eve tries to take stock of the situation.

She glances icily at Elena, who is looking back with a guilty expression.

“Okay,” Elena says quietly, breaking the silence. “I will admit that was a bit childish-”

Eve has slammed her cup into the bin and stormed into her office before Elena can even finish her sentence.

 

The night finds Eve sat on her bed, hunched over a notebook. She’s scribbling furiously, and if anyone asked if she was drawing, she’d say yes.

The fact that that would be a lie because she’s actually writing up revenge plans is completely irrelevant.

Her bedroom is cosy, with art prints on all the walls and mementos stuffed on the shelves. She’s surrounded by a pile of pillows and blankets as she quietly seethes, mind wandering too fast for her pen to keep up, and before she knows it she’s drawn Villanelle’s full profile in biro without any real excuse for why.

And god, the fact that Eve has the details of her face down to a tee is just ridiculous. How did she even manage-

Whatever. She has a photographic memory. It’s... whatever.

She rips out that page and goes to toss it in the bin when her eyes catch on something outside.

It’s Villanelle, walking around her own bedroom, disappearing in and out of view as she passes the window.

Eve finds herself studying Villanelle, watching the way she tucks her hair behind her ear as it slips forward every time she bends over. She must be putting laundry away, or maybe watering her plants. She’s wearing light, loose clothes now, a baggy sweater that still looks worth more than any of Eve’s clothes, plus a pair of checkered pyjama shorts in deep red.

She looks so… soft.

Eve’s seen her looking soft before, obviously. You don’t have a straight view into someone else’s bedroom for five years without seeing them in their loungewear. In fact, Eve has seen her in all states of dress, from fancy as shit to stark naked, but the few times Villanelle had been naked had been blatant purposeful attempts to wind Eve the fuck up.

Because Villanelle hadn’t been alone those times, and Eve is pretty damn certain Villanelle left her window open on purpose, just so Eve could be subjected to the unnecessarily loud moans and groans of Villanelle’s late night conquests.

Eve’s learnt to keep headphones on her bedside table, nowadays.

But anyway.

Tonight Villanelle is just soft. Face clean, hair down, calm expression in place.

Until she looks up and sees Eve staring at her.

Villanelle pauses for a moment as Eve internally struggles on what the hell to do now she’s been caught watching, but then Villanelle is frowning a little and holding up a finger indicating Eve should wait, before disappearing out of the room.

Eve crawls across her bed, closer to the window, curious. What is Villanelle planning? Her window is closed, so Villanelle can’t chuck seeds through it like she did when she last left it open, so whatever she was planning would be a visual thing.

Eve hopes to god Villanelle doesn’t reappear naked.

That would be, just… not what she needs, right now. While she’s midway through planning revenge. That would ruin her flow. Her revenge flow. Her-

Eve realises she’s still got the torn out sketch of Villanelle clutched in her hand, and she scoffs at herself. Some revenge plan. She screws up the drawing and chucks it on the floor.

And then Villanelle’s back at the window, and she’s got a pad of paper in her hands and is drawing something. When she holds it up, it’s a very basic sketch of a coffee cup and what Eve can only assume is a curly haired stick figure version of herself with a frowning face.

Eve wonders if her glare could shatter the glass.

Villanelle nods at Eve’s reaction, brow still furrowed, and holds her finger up again to get Eve to wait. She tears that page out and starts scribbling again, and Eve thinks that maybe she can see the corner of a pink tongue sticking out between Villanelle’s lips in concentration.

Eve focuses her attention away from it.

Villanelle holds the pad up again and this time it’s a stick figure of Villanelle, if the long straight lines of hair are anything to go by. Stick Villanelle has a wavy line for a mouth, like she’s confused or guilty or some other complex wiggly mouthed emotion, and then the real Villanelle points at the page and then at herself.

Eve rolls her eyes at the sub-standard Pictionary game happening before her and nods, hoping Villanelle will understand that yes, Eve can see that that is meant to be Villanelle feeling… well, something.

Villanelle again tears the page out, and this time she pauses before starting to draw. Her brow is furrowed more this time around, and judging by the slight jiggling movement Eve can see, Villanelle is bouncing her leg about. She looks like she’s struggling with something or against something, staring at the pad like its offending her, before she ends the stare with a roll of her eyes.

She starts to scribble again, quicker and more fluid this time, and when she holds the pad back up, Eve thinks that maybe she’s seeing things.

Sorry baby’

Villanelle’s handwriting is cursive, and Eve thinks it looks similar to the neon Garden of Eden sign, the same swooping lines and curved shapes. And-

And she’s saying sorry.

She’s saying sorry?

Eve must’ve been sat there for longer than she realised because Villanelle is dropping the pad slightly, staring at Eve hard through their windows, and Eve can see the battle playing out over Villanelle’s features. She can see that Villanelle is struggling with apologising, who for whatever reason felt that she should apologise.

Eve is still just sat there, looking at Villanelle, trying to wrap her head around this weird… shift. They’ve never done this before, never said sorry. Not even when-

Eve catches Villanelle’s eyes then, and lifts her own pad to show that she’s going to write back. Villanelle looks relieved for a moment before schooling her features and nodding once.

Eve stares down at her pad of paper and flips to a clean page before twirling her pen nervously in her fingers. What should she write? Was this the moment? Was this when she too would apologise?

She tries to picture, for the second time that day, an existence where she and Villanelle are civil towards each other. Maybe they’d smile in greeting whenever Villanelle came in to see Elena. Maybe they’d say a brief ‘hello’ when they pass each other to and from their bins. Maybe they’d share short, pleasant small talk while both waiting in line at the bakery.

Maybe that’s how things would be between Villanelle and Eve if they quit fighting each other.

Which was better? Peaceful, pleasant civility where everyone is happy? Or intense, infuriating feuding where their time not working is spent figuring out ways to wind each other up?

Eve puts her pen to paper, letting a beautifully illustrative font take form in the ink, the lettering shapely and delicate and somewhat floral.

She climbs off the bed and takes the single step over to the window, where she looks up to see Villanelle waiting patiently, almost excitedly, for Eve’s response.

Civility, or feuding?

And then Eve allows herself to be honest, for just a second.

Boredom, or excitement?

She holds up her pad.

She sees her swirling ‘fuck you’ lettering reflected back at her in the glass of Villanelle’s window.

Villanelle, who is staring at Eve’s pad with an unreadable expression.

Who glances up to Eve’s face, surely recognising the eyebrow Eve has raised in challenge.

And Eve swears she sees Villanelle smile a small, pleased smirk, before disappearing completely from Eve’s view.

Chapter Text

Villanelle did actually feel bad about the coffee stunt, but she had to do something to end the weird two weeks of… radio silence, that had been going on between herself and Eve.

She knows it’s her own fault, if fault is what you can call it.

But she’d gotten distracted becoming friends with Elena, who turns out is really cool and exactly Villanelle’s kind of person, so yes, prank planning had slipped her mind a little.

She hadn’t even realised that she and Eve hadn’t said a word to each other for almost a fortnight until Elena mentioned Eve, and it was like the whole thing came back to her at once.

And as soon as Villanelle noticed the silence, she couldn’t stop thinking about it, which was infuriating because she had other very important things to think about. But for whatever reason, the silence was loud in Villanelle’s brain, so she started coming up with something big and dramatic to reintroduce the feud.

Talking to Eve to annoy her was a lot more fun than not talking to her at all.

And the sign thing hadn’t gone the way she had expected, but she was pretty pleased with the outcome.

She really did want to apologise even though it physically pained her to do so, and the way it turned out? She was okay with it. It seemed Eve actually wanted to continue their game, and Villanelle was more than happy to keep playing. She even felt a little more respect for Eve, more of a kinship now that she knew they were both on the same page.

Eve had retaliated to the salted coffee by signing Villanelle up to two dozen catalogue companies, judging by the huge pile of ridiculous mail she found on her doormat a couple days later. In the privacy of her kitchen, Villanelle had smiled to herself while dropping them all in the recycling.

She isn’t smiling now though, as she lays in bed, hands pressed tightly over her ears and almost growling in anger because for the third night in a row she is still awake at 2am.

She takes a deep breath before slowly removing her hands, ears immediately on alert for the noise, but seconds pass and the night is quiet and she breathes out a sigh, tired eyes already slipping closed because peace, finally, peace-

The rough coughing starts up again just as Villanelle starts to drift off.

Her frustrated groan turns into an angry shriek that she muffles into her pillow.

Three days of this. Three days of Eve coughing her lungs up at all hours of the night, waking Villanelle up and keeping her awake, having literally zero compassion for the people around her trying to sleep, and Villanelle is done. She can’t. She’s. No.

Villanelle doesn’t operate well on less than 8 hours sleep a night.

The spluttering cough trails off once again, and Villanelle thinks she hears a loud and miserable groan follow, almost lost through the obstacles of both of their single glazed windows.

That miserable groan does something weird to Villanelle’s chest. Eve just sounds so… sad. Turns out Villanelle doesn’t like how Eve sounds when she’s sad.

It’s… sad isn’t a helpful emotion when it comes to exciting neighbourly feuds, that’s all.

Villanelle grabs her a pillow and her duvet and drags them through to her living room, dropping them to her sofa and curling on top of them tiredly, too long to stretch out properly on her cosy loveseat couch.

She decides that tomorrow she’ll do something about the coughing. She’ll do something to stop the spluttering and hacking and pitiful little whines.

She’ll do something to stop Eve sounding so sad.

——

“Sinners, good morning.”

Villanelle has performed her usual entrance into Original Sin, which is basically just swinging open the door hard enough to make it bang against the wall, making everyone inside jump.

“Hey, V.”

“Hi Elena,” Villanelle replies with a smile bordering on strained due to exhaustion. “Where is she?”

“She’s not working today, she kept coughing on her clients.” The guy with the hair pipes up, watching her suspiciously. “Can we take a message?”

She glares at his sarcastic tone before glancing to the other guy, the quiet one who’s good at straight lines, who’s sat avoiding her stare like she’s Medusa. She nods, pleased, then turns back to Elena.

“I need to talk to her.”

“Sorry babe, she’s in no condition to talk to anyone,” Elena replies, casting a sympathetic glance upwards. “Besides, I’m not sure you’re at the top of her list for potential visits.”

“She will be happy to see me,” Villanelle says confidentially, tossing her coat in the direction of Elena’s corner of the studio and striding towards the back room. “I am assuming I can just walk straight up?”

Elena’s protest falls behind Villanelle as she strolls into Eve’s office space and kitchen, and she rounds the corner to where she knows the staircase will be.

Time to go see Eve.

It’s fairly dark upstairs, with all the curtains drawn in the rooms Villanelle glances into. Maybe Eve has sore eyes. She looks into the living room, takes in Eve’s style in art, in books, in cushion covers and rugs, before settling on a shelving unit in the corner, rammed full of DVDs.

So Eve is a movie person. Good. Movies are fantastic.

Villanelle smiles as she gives Eve more credit in her mind.

She comes to a stop outside of a door that’s slightly ajar, light streaming out of it into the unlit hallway. She can hear sniffles and the sound of music playing quietly, and she takes a moment to just breathe in the quiet of it all.

Then she gently knocks.

“Um… hello?”

Eve’s voice makes Villanelle instantly pout. She sounds so scratchy, so rough and deep and unwell, and Villanelle can’t help but feel sorry for her. Sick people are just so… weak. Villanelle always gets this intense need to protect someone when they sound that vulnerable, but she shakes the thought away and pushes the door open the tiniest bit more.

“Do not be mad.”

“Oh Jesus,” Eve’s miserable voice comes through the door. “How- I’m going to kill Elena.”

Villanelle smiles a little despite herself.

“Yes, I am sure you are capable of that right now.”

Eve’s unhappy groan is followed by the rustling of sheets.

“Why are you here? This is trespassing. I could press charges.”

“Yes yes,” Villanelle rolls her eyes. “And I’m sure they will believe you after the last few times you tried that.”

It’s true; Eve had called the police once or twice in their first few weeks of feuding, thinking that they’d swoop in and rescue her from the ‘asshole florist next door’, but all it had resulted in was the police thinking Eve was a dramatic artist type with a love of attention, getting huffy at her neighbour accidentally spilling compost over her doorstep.

She listens to Eve’s grumble then pushes on.

“Anyway, I am here because you are awful and keeping me awake, and I want to see if you will die sometime soon,” Villanelle nudges the door open a little more. “finally leaving me with some peace and quiet.”

Eve scoffs, and Villanelle is pleased to hear a defeated sound follow it.

“Jesus, fine, come in.” Eve mumbles. “But don’t- I’m not looking my best, okay? So, just… don’t be an ass.”

Villanelle pauses in pushing the door fully, confused at why Eve would care about Villanelle seeing her less put together than usual, before brushing the thought away and opening the door to reveal Eve’s bedroom.

Eve is on the bed, bundled in her duvet, comforter pulled up to her nose which looks red raw underneath pink and bleary eyes, her hair a dark, wild mess on her pillows, and scrunched tissues strewn around her like bulbous white flowers.

“Gross…” Villanelle breathes.

“Oh, fuck you.”

Eve tries to roll over and face away from Villanelle but seems to have wrapped herself up too tightly, struggling to even get on her back and groaning frustratedly at Villanelle’s amused smirk.

“Whatever, look, here I am.” Eve closes her eyes tightly, brows furrowed. “Almost dead, certainly looking close to it anyway. So now you can just… go back to Eden and, I don’t know, tell your Venus fly traps that you’ll be feeding me to them soon, or whatever.”

Villanelle wishes she didn’t find the flu induced rambling cute, but she can’t help but smile at this pitiful lump of blankets before her.

“That would take a while.” Villanelle slowly steps inside the room. “Botanist Barry Rice tested out whether Venus fly traps could digest human flesh by feeding it some of his skin after it fell off during a bout of athlete’s foot. It took over a week to digest one gram.”

Eve pulls the blankets down and Villanelle sees the twist of her frown.

“That’s disgusting.”

“Yes,” Villanelle says dreamily. “Plants are amazing.”

Eve shakes her head and pulls a hand out from under the duvet to rub at her forehead. It doesn’t help clear the sheen of sweat that coats it. Villanelle takes another step towards the bed.

“It smells like breath in here.”

“Yeah well I’ve barely left the room for four days, so.”

Villanelle hums as she takes another step closer to the bed, eyeing the tissues with a wrinkled nose.

“Okay, I have an idea, Eve.”

Eve pushes herself up onto her elbow, narrowing her eyes at Villanelle and muffling a cough into her blanket.

“No, you may not smother me with a pillow.”

Villanelle has reached the bed now and sits down gingerly, pulling her sleeve over hand hand to brush a wadded tissue to the floor.

“Tempting as that is, I do not plan on killing you yet.”

Eve’s shocked splutter turns into a coughing fit, which Villanelle leans away from with a grimace.

Yet?”

“Anyway,” she presses on. “I have decided to help you get better.”

Eve’s death threat shock has subsided to be replaced with a different kind of shock, and the whiplash on her face makes Villanelle smile.

“You what?”

“I want to help, Eve.” Villanelle sighs. “I am exhausted and your coughing is ruining my beauty sleep, which I do not need but like all the same.”

Eve rolls her eyes.

“God, for a second I thought you were doing this for me. How silly.”

Villanelle doesn’t let the argument on the tip of her tongue out, ready to defend herself against Eve’s sarcastic tone, because who is Eve to say Villanelle isn’t doing this for her? Maybe she’s doing it because she wants Eve to feel better, maybe she’s doing it because she misses their weird prank war?

Maybe she’s doing it because hearing Eve’s sad voice does something funny to her chest?

Maybe.

Villanelle stands up and clears her throat.

“Nope, this is about me, as everything should be.” She brushes the back of her jeans with her hands, trying to rid herself of any tag along germs. “Where is your trash?”

“There’s a bin under the desk in the living room.”

Villanelle heads into the room and over to the desk, quickly glancing over the half finished drawings that cover the surface. Eve really is talented. There’s one that looks like twisted vines that seems to be intended to wrap around someone’s arm, and Villanelle lifts her own, looking over her forearm and picturing Eve concentrating, drilling the design painfully into her skin.

She ignores the pleasant shudder that tries to take her.

Back in Eve’s room, Villanelle starts picking up the piles of tissues, tossing them into the bin in her hand before putting it by Eve’s bed.

“Tissues go in there.” Villanelle points at the bin and gives Eve a stern look. “Just because you look gross doesn’t mean you need to act gross.”

Eve just grumbles in response, burrowing herself further under her covers. Villanelle reaches out and tugs them back down again away from her face.

“Hey!”

Villanelle ignores Eve’s protest.

“Get up and take a cool shower, you will feel better.”

Eve stares back defiantly, and seriously, have the last five years not taught Eve anything about Villanelle’s patience?

“You know I can stand here all day, Evie.”

“Don’t call me that.” Eve huffs. Finally, she shoves the mess of blankets from her and climbs weakly out of bed.

She’s wearing a loose tank top, sky blue underwear, a thick pair of fuzzy looking socks, and nothing else.

It’s not in Villanelle’s nature to avert her eyes, so she doesn’t.

Because why would she? Eve is hot. But that’s not news to anyone, surely. Plus, it makes their feuding all the more fun. Who wouldn’t want to wind up someone attractive?

Eve shuffles over to her closet and grabs some towels from it before turning back to Villanelle and running her fingers through her hair tiredly. Villanelle trails her eyes slowly over Eve, taking every inch of her in, ending on her legs before glancing back up with a smirk. Eve notices.

“What?” She mumbles, narrowing her eyes.

“You have a very nice body.”

Eve looks down at herself and seems to realise how she’s dressed for the first time.

“Shit! Don’t- don’t look.”

Villanelle chuckles, shaking her head at Eve hastily wrapping one of the towels around her waist.

“But it is true.” She says through her smile, enjoying this weird towel dance Eve is performing on her way to the door.

“It’s- I’m not- I mean-” Villanelle catches Eve rolling her eyes at herself as she pulls open the door. “Thanks.” She finishes with a mumble before leaving.

Villanelle smiles.

“You are welcome.” She says quietly to the empty room.

——

When Villanelle re-enters Eve’s apartment two hours later, this time meeting no resistance from the rest of Original Sin seeing as she’d left earlier still smiling and still alive, she immediately notices how much fresher the air is.

While Eve had been in the shower, Villanelle had made quick work of shaking out her sheets and blankets and remaking her bed, before opening up all of the windows to try and clear the stuffy air. She’d grabbed a large glass from Eve’s kitchen cupboard and placed it full of ice water on her bedside table, along with some flu meds she’d found in the bathroom cabinet. Why she didn’t already have them out was beyond Villanelle. She was finding Eve more and more difficult to understand. She quite liked it.

“Eve,” Villanelle called out while walking towards the bedroom. “Are you dressed?”

There’s no response from Eve, so Villanelle pushes the door open gently and peers in.

Eve is fast asleep, sprawled out beneath her blankets, one arm hanging over the side of her bed and face squished against her pillow.

Villanelle doesn’t bother holding back her smile.

She’ll admit, this weakened state is making her soften up to Eve a little. Not that she’ll ever let the older woman know that. But something about seeing her with her walls down is making Villanelle feel all… warm.

It’s concerning.

It’s a flicker of a feeling from five years ago, which-

Which doesn’t matter.

She walks to Eve’s bed and puts her bag on the side table, leaning over Eve slightly before reaching out to nudge at the sleeping woman’s shoulder.

“Eve,” she says quietly with another nudge. “Wakey wakey.”

Eve groans and shrugs off Villanelle’s hand, burrowing further below the blankets with a tiny murmured “No.”

“Okay, this is very cute, but I need you to wake up.” Villanelle says, still keeping her voice hushed. “I would rather you sleep through the night instead of now so that I too can sleep tonight.”

Eve cracks one eye open to stare up at Villanelle, who grins down at her.

“Hello.”

“Yeah, hi.” Eve grumbles, pushing Villanelle away from her gently. “What are you doing back here?”

“It is time to smother you.”

Eve just chuckles and rolls onto her back, rubbing her eyes sleepily. She glances to her side and spots the bag.

“What’s that?”

“That,” Villanelle says, grabbing the bag and lifting it in front of her grandly, “is soup. Vegetable soup. Made from herbs and vegetables grown by yours truly.”

Eve sits up in bed, pushing her hair away from her face.

“You… you made me soup?”

“Yes, obviously. It is the best cure for a cold. Would you like some now?”

Eve looks away from Villanelle’s face, where she’d been staring at her with wide eyes, a look on her face that Villanelle can’t quite work out. She stares down at her hands and starts to pick at a loose thread on her blanket.

“Um, yeah, please. That would be nice.”

Villanelle finds a pan in Eve’s kitchen that looks like it hasn’t seen use for months and puts it on the stove, filling it with chunky soup from her tupperware. She stirs slowly, staring into her own kitchen across the way as she mixes.

So, this is what Eve sees.

Villanelle makes a mental note to clear some of the plants from her own windowsill. They block Eve’s view.

Back upstairs with a bowl full of steaming soup in her lap, Eve hums appreciatively as she takes a mouthful.

“Oh my god, this is good.”

“Well, yes. I made it.”

Eve looks over at Villanelle with a small laugh.

“You’re something else, Villanelle.”

“Thank you.”

Eve laughs again, and Villanelle smiles.

Eve eats the rest of her soup in silence while Villanelle looks around her room from her perch on the bed, taking in the framed photos and books and art prints. All the little things that Eve likes to have in her home, her comforts and her memories.

“You need some plants in here.”

“Over my smothered dead body.”

But Eve is fighting back a smile when Villanelle smirks over at her.

——

Villanelle sleeps solidly for 8 hours that night.

She dreams of curly hair and fuzzy looking socks.

Chapter Text

“Villanelle!”

Eve burst through the door to Garden of Eden, slamming it against the wall angrily.

The sound of rustling comes from the back room, followed by Villanelle popping her head round the corner, grinning wide.

“Eve, hello! You are wearing clothes today!” She looks pointedly at Eve’s legs before stepping out fully, a funeral arrangement in her hands. “And you are alive and well. Unlike this guy.” She nods at the flowers in her hand, spelling out the name ‘Bob’.

“Ladybirds?!” Eve shouts, ignoring Villanelle’s comment and the blush rising on her own cheeks. “You wait until I’m well again and then give me a cake box full of ladybirds?!”

It’s infuriating how Villanelle is just standing there smiling, lifting one shoulder in a delicate shrug.

“It was a welcome back gift, did you not get the note?”

Eve scowls at Villanelle, her eyes not leaving the blonde’s as she reaches into her back pocket. She straightens the note out dramatically as she looks at it and clears her throat.

“‘Roses are red, veg soup is green, what’s inside this box just has to be seen. V.’”

Eve looks up from the note to find Villanelle staring at her expectantly.

“And did you see them?”

Eve groans angrily, throwing her hands out.

“Yes, I saw them! All three dozen of them! Now flying around my studio!”

“Oof,” says Villanelle, shaking her head disapprovingly. “You should have been more careful with the box, Eve.”

Eve splutters at the smirk on Villanelle’s face.

“I thought we weren’t doing this anymore,” she says, exasperated. “I thought we had a-”

“You thought we had a truce because you were sick?” Villanelle interrupts her, finally walking further into the main room, dropping the flower arrangement onto the counter. “We did. But you’re not sick anymore.”

“Your ladybird prank has cost my studio money. Kenny had to go home!”

“Why?”

Eve rubs her hands tiredly over her face.

“He’s scared of ladybirds. Or something like that, I’m not entirely sure actually, he left in a hurry.”

“Coccinellidaephobia?”

“Bless you.”

Villanelle rolls her eyes.

“Coccinellidaephobia. Phobia of coccinellidae, specifically coccinella magnifica.”

Eve stares at Villanelle, not even bothering to hide her surprise, before nodding in defeat.

“Of course you know Latin.”

Villanelle smirks.

“Naturaliter etiam.”

Eve turns on her heel and storms out, Villanelle’s laughter following her.

——

And so, the month following Eve’s recovery had been much the same as before she got sick, except now with added… looks.

From Villanelle.

Whenever they saw each other, it felt like Villanelle’s stares lingered a little longer than they used to.

Her gaze would stay on Eve, sometimes dropping to her legs, causing Eve to fight off the memory of Villanelle seeing her in just her underwear, how Villanelle’s stare back then had warmed Eve unexpectedly.

She can’t help but blush lightly whenever it happens now, and Villanelle has picked up on it if the smirks are anything to go by.

Her gazes linger and Eve can almost feel them heating up her skin, little pin pricks of fire as Villanelle’s gaze licks flames over her body.

It’s ridiculous and inappropriate and-

And Eve can’t stop thinking about it.

It throws her right back to five years ago when she and Villanelle first met, when Villanelle was moving her furniture into the building next door. She’d been standing outside, directing movers carrying her sofa, when Eve setting up the studio A-board while staring at the newcomer must have caught her eye.

She’d looked over at Eve, dropped her gaze and dragged it back, ending it with a smile Eve’s way before heading inside the building. Eve had then spent 20 seconds fumbling with the very simple board latch, heat in her cheeks and mind full of honey blonde hair.

Much later that day, Eve had been in her bedroom, messing with her hair in the mirror when she caught sight of movement across the alley. Villanelle was in the room opposite, watering a plant on her windowsill, staring right back at Eve with a curious glint in her gaze.

She paused in putting her hair up and smiled lightly as Villanelle studied her.

Wear it down, Villanelle had mouthed, smiling back before disappearing from view.

Eve cuts off her own thoughts on that particular subject before they go any further.

It’s in the past.

Unlike the lingering gazes and warm flushes.

Fuck. Not again.

Eve throws herself into her designs for the rest of the day, keeping herself too busy to think.

——

Sometimes, when things appear to be going well, or normal, or as expected, life will throw you a curveball.

Why?

Because life is a dickhead like that.

Eve’s curveball comes during the night, after she spent the day forcing her mind to focus on her drawing and not on the way Villanelle has been looking at her legs and ass.

It comes when she’s deeply asleep, and starts in the form of a tapping sound that barely manages to drag her out of unconsciousness. But it does, the tapping breaks through the haze, and she sits up wearily.

It’s coming from the window.

She’s mildly aware of someone shouting. It sounds far away, like it’s leftover from her dreams, but it continues until she recognises that it’s her name.

She shakes her head to clear it, but can’t lose the drowsiness still clinging to her.

Crawling to the end of the bed, Eve looks to her window.

Villanelle is at hers. She’s throwing something out of her open window at Eve’s closed one. Peanut shells? Why is she doing that? Eve groans because seriously, even in the early hours of the morning Villanelle is trying to ruin her day.

But Villanelle has spotted Eve now because she’s stopped throwing nuts and is waving her arms around furiously.

Jesus Christ.

Eve throws her hands up sluggishly, glaring at Villanelle in part confusion part frustration, who is now wildly gesturing to Eve’s window, motioning her to slide it up.

Eve feels too tired to argue the obvious trap, so just climbs off the bed and approaches the window, sliding it up weakly.

Fresh air hits her in the face, and Eve’s lungs seem oddly grateful.

“Eve, get out!”

What?

“What?” Eve says, voice weirdly scratchy. “What the hell?”

“Your building is on fire, Eve! You need to get the fuck out!”

Well, this is a new one.

“For god’s sake Villanelle, can’t you save it til morning? This is taking things too far, I’m trying to sleep.”

Villanelle curses in what Eve assumes is Russian, and now that Eve’s head feels clearer she realises that Villanelle really does look frantic, eyes wide and bordering on frightened.

“Look behind you, you idiot! Can you not see the smoke? Do you not feel it making you dizzy?”

She’s scaring her now. Eve is like this, she gets caught up in other people’s emotions, and she’s clearly feeding off whatever state Villanelle is in. She’s scared to turn around, but clenches her jaw and looks over her shoulder.

Her room is foggy, grey curls of smoke making their way in around the door, slowly filling the room with a dangerous haze.

“Shit,” Eve whispers to the room before turning back to Villanelle, voice rising. “Shit!”

“Finally.” Villanelle says weakly, rubbing her hand over her face hard before staring at Eve desperately. “Eve, you need to get out.”

“How?” Panic has fully set in for Eve now, the smoke rising around her and the distinct sound of crackling reaching her from below. “I can’t go downstairs, that’s where the fire is!”

Villanelle curses in Russian again and drags her fingers through her hair harshly.

“Okay,” she says, seemingly to herself. “Okay, okay, okay.”

She suddenly looks up, staring at Eve with determination.

“You need to jump to my window.”

Eve laughs shrilly.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” She half shouts through the laughter. “I cannot jump across, this isn’t fucking Spider Man!”

“Do you have a better idea?” Villanelle shouts back angrily, and then she starts to push her window up higher, creating a wider space and no, no way, no fucking way-

“I could climb onto the roof?”

Eve knows it’s a terrible idea before she’s even finished talking, but Villanelle’s look just helps to confirm it.

“Eve.” She says, obviously trying to stay calm. “Just climb out of your window, sit on the ledge, and push yourself off towards me. I will catch you.”

Eve laughs again but it turns into a cough when she inhales smoke.

“I can’t!” She yells. “I’ll fall!”

“You will not fall, I will catch you! Come on!”

Villanelle stars climbing out of her own window, one knee planted firmly on her ledge and the other leg still inside, braced behind her. She reaches her hands towards Eve, eyes still frightened but with something else there now, something certain.

“Eve,” she says, “I will catch you. I promise.”

It’s a Tuesday night and she’s going to jump out of a fucking window.

Eve lifts herself up and swings her legs out before she can second guess herself, another cough bursting out of her chest as she takes a deep breath in an awful attempt at calming down.

I will never be calm ever again.

Villanelle’s arms are still out, and they make grabby motions that almost make Eve laugh for real, because how, how is she being almost cute at a time like this?

“I will grab your arms, but your legs will probably swing into the building, okay?” Villanelle says, certainty also laced in her voice now. “But I promise you, Eve, I will not drop you. I will count to three and on three you jump, yes?”

Eve can’t talk anymore, panic gripping her throat, so she nods quickly, eyes refusing to leave Villanelle’s own wide ones. She grips the sides of the window and puts her feet against the wall, ready to jump.

I can do this.

“One.”

Jesus fuck no I can’t.

“Two.”

I’m going to die in my pyjamas aren’t I-

“Three!”

Eve jumps.

She reaches out her hands, feels the air rush through her fingers, her hair, her loose clothing.

Feels hand close firmly around her elbows, strong, not letting go.

Her legs slam into the wall and she cries out, grimacing, but she’s not falling, she’s not falling, she’s okay she’s okay she’s-

“I’ve got you.”

She’s being lifted up.

She’s being pulled through the window.

She’s on the floor.

And-

And she can breathe.

Eve keeps her eyes closed, breathing deeply, trying to slow her raging heartbeat. There’s the sound of the window sliding shut and the thud of knees next to her, and then there’s a gentle hand on her shoulder, just touching her, not shaking her or squeezing her, just… there.

“You did it, you jumped.” Villanelle sounds almost giddy with relief. “Eve, you are okay.”

I’m okay.

Eve’s slowing heartbeat rockets back up when she realises what she’s forgotten up until now. She bolts upright.

“My studio!” Eve gasps, fear thick in her voice. “Oh my god, my- we need to call-”

“I have called the fire department already, Eve, I did that while trying to wake you.” Villanelle says quietly, hand still calm on Eve’s shoulder. “They should be here any minute.”

Sure enough, the distant sound of sirens wailing reaches them, and Eve lets out a watery sigh of relief.

“If the smoke was reaching my room, then… then-”

Villanelle shushes her softly, and Eve’s too nauseous over what her livelihood might currently look like to dwell on how gentle Villanelle is being.

“The fire department will put out the fire, and then we will see what has happened.” Villanelle says calmly.

She lifts her other hand and places it on Eve’s other shoulder, just as soothingly, before lowering her head to catch Eve’s eyes.

Eve is suddenly taken with the amount of concern and relief swirling in the golden hazel eyes staring into her own, unable to look away.

“Eve,” Villanelle breathes through the smallest smile. “You are okay.”

——

Talking to the firemen is horrible.

They managed to put out the flames fairly quickly before heading through the building to assess the damage, leaving Eve and Villanelle outside, a blanket draped around Eve’s shoulders from Villanelle’s couch.

Eve had told Villanelle she could stay inside, but for some reason she’d insisted that Eve not be alone. So here they were, side by side, waiting for the verdict.

They didn’t have to wait long.

The firemen informed Eve that it was an electrical malfunction in her kitchen that started the fire, which consumed that entire room and started to spread into the studio and the bottom of the stairs, sending smoke billowing up into the rooms above.

Eve stands still, staring at the smoke blackened studio through the window, tape around the outside of the building to stop anyone getting near.

She hears footsteps behind her but doesn’t move, just tightens the blanket around her shoulders.

“Eve?” Villanelle’s voice is quiet, careful. “Why don’t you come back to mine, I will make you some tea.”

“Yours?”

Her voice sounds weird in her ears.

“Yes. You cannot stay at yours, you heard what they said, you have to stay out for a while.”

“I’ll… I’ll stay at a hotel.”

Eve’s view of her studio is suddenly blocked by Villanelle, who gives her a disbelieving look.

“Eve, no, you will stay at mine. At least for tonight. I don’t think you should be alone-”

“You already said that.”

“And I meant it.” Villanelle’s look is open now, honest. Eve feels it like a flame. “Stay at mine tonight.”

Eve opens her mouth to argue, but Villanelle cuts in.

“I promise I will behave myself. I will be nice.”

And Eve can’t help but smile at that.

——

Eve insisted on taking the sofa, which Villanelle was fine with.

“I love my bed. I will not give it up if you are happy with the couch.”

Villanelle sets her up with blankets and pillows, piling them on top of Eve even after she tells her to stop, laughter muffled by a faux fur throw Villanelle casually drops over her head.

Villanelle has been nice, as promised. She’s been welcoming, and generous, and genuinely friendly. And it’s been… fun.

It’s weird.

“Okay, if you are comfortable, I will go to bed now.”

Villanelle rubs one eye sleepily before lifting her hand in a wave and turning to head through to her bedroom.

Eve is surprised to suddenly feel panic set back in.

“Wait, Villanelle, I-”

Villanelle turns round and looks at Eve expectantly.

But she can’t say anything. Her mouth just opens and closes stupidly, and Eve doesn’t know why she can’t just ask.

“You want me to stay with you.”

Villanelle doesn’t ask it. It’s stated, as if she knows.

“If… if you wouldn’t mind.”

Villanelle doesn’t say anything as she walks over to the couch. She climbs on and rearranges the blankets to bundle herself up in a cocoon, faux fur throw draped over her own head like a hood.

Eve shakes her head, not actually minding the fond feeling that swells in her chest at the sight.

“So,” Villanelle says from inside her blanket mountain. “Netflix? We should watch The Spy Who Dumped Me. It is a feel good movie, perfect for post-fire stress.”

And Eve doesn’t want to laugh at that, or at Villanelle’s ridiculous get-up, but she does, and Villanelle beams in response.

“I am glad you agreed to stay, Eve. And you can stay as long as you want.”

Villanelle looks down at the TV remote for a moment, turning it over in her hands thoughtfully before looking back up at Eve.

She’s surprised to see something like nerves simmering in the hazel.

“I would like it if we could be friends.”

And there’s that warmth again.

“Friends?”

“Yes. I think that maybe I do not want to… play our game, anymore.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.” Villanelle says softly. “So, Eve, would you like to be friends?”

And god, Villanelle sat there with a fur hood slipping down over her forehead and remote control twisting in her hands and hopeful smile on her face is just about the cutest thing Eve has ever seen, and she doesn’t even care when that thought flits through her mind.

“Friends.” Eve says with a smile. “I’d like that.”

Villanelle smiles bigger as they look at each other for maybe a moment too long.

Eve lets it linger.

It feels like warming by a fire.

Chapter Text

One night, when Villanelle was 11, she’d woken up abruptly to a soft thud.

Thinking she’d imagined it, she settled back down into her pillows, eyes slipping shut.

A sharp click had her eyes immediately open again.

She’d caught the gentle murmur of unknown voices coming from the back door of the house, directly below her own bedroom, and quickly debated whether to hide under her covers or go down and investigate.

Long, exciting story short, young Villanelle had saved her home from being burgled by throwing a terracotta plant pot at one man’s head and repeatedly kicking the other man in the crotch, all while screaming for her parents at the top of her tiny lungs.

The local police department gave her a certificate. Her parents got cool new locks on the doors that she was allowed to know the codes to. They even bought her a pretty potted Oleander for her to keep in the conservatory, despite denying her one for over a year due to the fact that they have the potential to literally kill people.

Her parents loved to tell people the story of brave little Villanelle, and how her light sleeping had saved the day.

Villanelle continued to be a light sleeper into adulthood.

The soft crackling sound had woken her almost instantly, and one look out the window had confirmed that what she was hearing was the sound of something burning. That something being the downstairs level of Eve’s building.

And it was like the orange flames she could see through the window of Eve’s kitchen below were inside Villanelle too, burning her insides with white hot panic. A panic that momentarily wiped her mind, and it was like the last five years just flashed before her eyes. Every insult, every trick, every calculated move, all spinning through her head.

And god, each and every one of them were so unimportant, so trivial and stupid and-

Villanelle needed to get Eve out.

She’d called 999 while throwing peanut shells at Eve’s window, and her knees had nearly buckled in relief when she saw Eve’s messy curls pop into view.

She knew her plan of Eve jumping had been risky, but the thought of Eve staying in the burning building and waiting to be rescued just set off more of that panic and Villanelle couldn’t, she just couldn’t.

The relief she’d felt at having Eve lie on her bedroom floor, gasping and frightened but very much alive, was better than every bit of satisfaction from their feud put together.

And what Villanelle had said to Eve as they sat side by side on her sofa, bundled under blankets, was true; she didn’t want to play anymore. She was done with the meaningless and energy consuming war.

Villanelle wanted things to be good between them. Just in case.

——

Villanelle groans a bit upon waking, her neck stiff and legs sore from sleeping on the sofa, but it only takes a second before the night previous comes back to her. Smoke. Fire. Window. Jump. Eve. Eve. Eve.

She opens her eyes and peeks to her left to see Eve curled up against the sofa arm, blankets still swaddled around her, and Villanelle decides to let her sleep a while longer, to keep Eve in a state of unawares before the reality of the situation hits.

She gets up to make some tea, crunching through an apple as she lets the tea bag brew in her ‘plant princess’ mug, a gift from Konstantin’s daughter, Irina, that Villanelle pretended to hate but secretly used every single morning without fail.

She glances up automatically to look into Eve’s kitchen, and freezes when she sees the blown out glass, charred wooden frame, and the blackened interior beyond. Maybe she should wake Eve up after all, a lot of phone calls will need to be made this morning.

“Uh, hey.”

Villanelle looks over her shoulder and sees Eve, tee and shorts crumpled and hair pulled into a messy bun, looking down at her feet. She turns and walks to the counter to switch the kettle back on.

“Would you like a cup of tea? Coffee?” Villanelle says in greeting, hearing Eve slide into a seat at the table.

“Coffee, please, milk-”

“Milk, no sugar, I know.” Villanelle smiles at her before reaching to pull out a mug for Eve. “How are you feeling?”

She hears Eve chuckle humorlessly.

“Like my house almost burnt down.” She replies, accepting the mug of coffee with a grimace that might have been intended as a smile. “I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to do now.”

Villanelle joins Eve at the table with her cup of tea, hands wrapped around it and fingers gently tapping the side as she thinks.

“I will help you.” Villanelle says. “First, you need to call the others and tell them not to come in. Actually, we should make a list, shouldn’t we. I will get paper.”

Villanelle grabs a pad and pen from a drawer before Eve has chance to say anything, but glancing back at her face tells Villanelle that Eve hasn’t got the energy right now anyway.

She sits back down and flips to a clean page.

“So, call artists.” She mumbles as she scribbles it down. “Then you must call your insurance company. And then… then I think you must call someone to fix your window, that is important.”

“My window?”

Villanelle looks up again at the croak in Eve’s voice and is startled to see tears in her eyes.

“No, no Eve, it is okay, do not cry.” Villanelle says, reaching out to touch Eve’s hand but hesitating halfway, dropping her own hand to the table and leaving it there. “We will sort this out, you will make calls and I will… I don’t know, I will be a supportive friend. I will bring you coffee. And I will make more soup!”

Eve gives out a watery chuckle at that, and Villanelle smiles wide, relief filling her again at getting Eve to pause in her sadness, even if just for a moment.

“I almost forgot that we’re friends now.” Eve says through a small, watery smile.

“Yes, well, we are.” Villanelle says firmly with a nod. “And as your friend I will keep writing this list for you. Who else do you need to call?”

And so they sit for 20 minutes, sipping their drinks and working out the plan, who to contact, what rules apply, etc, until Villanelle slides the pad over to Eve along with her phone.

“Use my phone,” Villanelle says before standing up. “I am guessing yours is still in your room. I am going to take a shower and get ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Ready for the day! It is going to be a busy one, Eve, we have a lot to do. So please, start making your calls. I will just be through there.” Villanelle points to the door at the end of the kitchen which leads to the bathroom.

Eve gives her a nod and a weak smile before picking up the phone and taking a deep breath, and Villanelle spares a moment to think fondly of how Eve seems to know the numbers of her staff by heart.

——

Villanelle doesn’t allow herself to luxuriate in the shower as she normally would, lathering herself up with expensive bubbles and essential oils, and instead speeds through the process. Although she does indulge in full body moisturising; she‘s not an animal.

The smell of rose and orange blossom delicate on her skin, Villanelle steps back into the kitchen wrapped in a fluffy white towel, smiling when Eve looks over at her.

Eve, who immediately flushes at the sight and turns back to the pad in front of her.

“Oh, you’re- uh…” Eve stumbles over her words, much to Villanelle’s delight. “I’m sorry, you’re… I shouldn’t-”

“Eve,” Villanelle says through a chuckle, arriving at the table and glancing down at the list items Eve has been crossing out. “It is just a towel. Friends see each other like this all the time.”

“Uh huh.” Eve mumbles, still staring hard at the pad.

“And besides,” says Villanelle through a growing smirk. “It is not like I haven’t seen you in a similar state of undress, is it.”

Eve does look up at that, cheeks immediately turning more red and eyes narrowed.

“That was an accident.”

“And what a beautiful accident it was.” Villanelle says with a wink, before walking towards the stairs, holding back a laugh at Eve’s embarrassed huff behind her.

Being friends with Eve was going to be fun.

——

Standing side by side, Villanelle in sweatpants and a tank top, Eve in some of Villanelle’s shorts and a baggy tee, they stare at the entrance to the studio.

The front of the building was fine, with no fire or smoke damage at all. Eve lifted the mat and grabbed a flat rock from beneath it, turning it over to reveal a key, which Villanelle scoffs at. She’d need to have a talk with Eve about being more safety conscious in a place like London.

Eve unlocks the door and the pair head inside, looking over the blackened back wall, smoke damage leaving the drawings and prints there unreadable. Eve sighs.

“Well, there goes those designs.” She says sadly, walking over to inspect the damage. “Fucking fantastic.”

Villanelle hums in sympathy while heading to the back door, pushing it open gently and hearing the wood creak. She checks the back of it once open and her suspicions that the other side is burnt are confirmed. She sighs and walks through to the kitchen.

What’s left of it, anyway.

She stops, staring around her at the burnt mess that was Eve’s living space, furniture crumpled and charred, fridge melted and cupboards hanging off the wall. She hears a gasp behind her, and turns to see Eve standing there, eyes wide and hand over her mouth.

“I am sorry, Eve.”

She says it softly but Eve doesn’t respond, just slips past Villanelle slowly to stand in the centre of the room, slowly turning to take it all in.

“It’s gone.”

“It is.” Villanelle nods, never being one to beat around the bush. “But the insurance money will help you buy new things.”

“I don’t want new things.” Eve whispers. “I want my things.”

Villanelle doesn’t know what to say, so walks towards Eve’s desk instead, grimacing at how it buckles under a gentle touch of her hand.

“Fuck.” Eve bites out, suddenly next to Villanelle and staring down at the mess. “Fuck, my work. There was years of work in those drawers, there was-”

She cuts herself off with a pained squeak and Villanelle quickly glances at her, chest tightening at the miserable sound. Eve walks around the desk and crouches next to the pile of wood, tears swimming in her eyes.

“My Norman Collins flash sheet.” Eve mumbles, eyes scanning the ashes hopelessly. “An original piece of Sailor Jerry work. It’s…”

Eve trails off, and Villanelle says nothing, knowing that whatever Eve is upset about right now cannot be fixed with words. Eve stands and quickly swipes at her eyes.

“I’m going to check upstairs.”

She’s gone in seconds, her footsteps muffled on the stairs, and Villanelle sighs.

Eve is sad.

Villanelle doesn’t like it when Eve is sad.

She quickly rushes out of the building and back into her own, grabbing a bag and filling it with supplies before dashing back into Eve’s, eager to fix the problems that she can actually help with.

Maybe if she can get this done, then Eve will sound less sad, and Villanelle will be able to think properly again.

——

An hour has gone by before Eve comes back down again, and Villanelle sees her stop in her tracks, staring at her.

“Do not worry,” Villanelle says, wiping at her brow with her forearm. “The fire department took photos and so did I.”

“You’re… cleaning?”

Villanelle stretches pleasantly after being hunched over the counter for so long. She drops the brush and pulls off the green gardening gloves she’s wearing while flashing Eve a bright smile.

“I am.” Villanelle says. “I cannot fix the problems that are making you sad. But I can fix the problems that will give you the space to be sad, if that is something you need. I read that people like space to be sad in. Pick up a sponge and come help.”

Eve is still frozen, staring around her. In the hour she’d been gone, Villanelle had managed to clear most of the wooden rubble and ash into bin bags which stand neatly by the back door, and is a third of the way through sweeping and scrubbing the marble countertops, still intact but covered in ash.

But Eve is just standing there, staring at her with this… look, a look Villanelle can’t decipher, but one that makes her feel warm nonetheless. She tries again.

“Cleaning is very therapeutic.” Villanelle says earnestly, “Honestly, this really is not that bad.”

Eve moves slowly and stops when she’s beside Villanelle, who goes to put her gloves back on but is stopped by Eve’s hand on her wrist.

It’s warm and steady and Villanelle feels something like a spark where she touches, a little flicker causing her to glance quickly at the woman next to her.

The woman who is looking at her with wide, grateful eyes, slightly red from crying but still the deepest chocolate brown that Villanelle could honestly just swim in, and-

And Eve hugs her.

She wraps her arms around Villanelle’s shoulders and squeezes her, curly hair pressed against Villanelle’s cheek, chin resting on her shoulder.

“Thank you.” Eve murmurs, and Villanelle closes her eyes at the words, at the feel of Eve’s arms around her, at the feel of one million sparks skipping across every inch of her.

“You are welcome, Eve.” She breathes out.

“No,” Eve says softly, pulling back slightly so she can look Villanelle in the eye, and she’s so close, too close, not close enough- “Really. Thank you. You’re turning out to be a pretty good friend.”

Villanelle smiles happily, feeling it bubble in her chest.

“You are welcome.” She says again, before Eve puts her chin back on her shoulder and tightens her hold.

Villanelle’s arms come up to circle Eve’s waist, holding her firmly and running one hand soothingly up and down Eve’s back before she even realises she’s doing it.

Those sparks are clustered in her chest now, over her heart, giving it a speedy beat to dance to.

Villanelle sighs into Eve’s curls and pulls her the tiniest bit closer.

And as she pulls Eve in, she halfheartedly pushes out the little thoughts trying to draw her attention to the warmth and the sparks and the soft itch in her fingertips. Villanelle closes her eyes.

Maybe being friends with Eve is going to be more difficult than she thought.

Chapter Text

It takes days to fully clean up her flat, and Eve is exhausted.

And although she keeps denying it, Eve can tell that Villanelle is too.

The only things left to do are the window and cupboards, which the repair guy will be fixing tomorrow morning, meaning all Eve can do now is wait. 

The last four nights have been spent at Villanelle’s, despite her second round of instistance after the first day of cleaning that she could stay in a hotel.

“What, you don’t like my home?”

“No, no, it’s lovely, I just-”

“Then you will stay here. It would be rude to turn down an invitation, Eve.”

“But I-“ 

“So what will we watch tonight? Brooklyn Nine Nine is very funny, we will see which character you are. I, am a Gina.” 

And so Eve hadn’t tried to argue again after that. 

But after four nights of sleeping on Villanelle’s sofa, the first of which was the night of the fire and so the sleep she did get was broken and cramped, Eve’s body is sore and begging for the comfort of a mattress.

They’re sat at Villanelle’s dining table while the younger woman cooks and Eve tries to answer emails on her phone, getting more and more frustrated at how much more complicated it is to do through an app.

“Jesus Christ, all I want to do is reply to this fucking email, why won’t it just… fucking…” Eve trails off into an angry groan and lifts the phone to fling it across the room, but suddenly there’s a hand around her wrist and another pulling the mobile out of her own.

“Okay, angry wangry,” Villanelle says calmly, pressing Eve’s phone screen a few times until a ‘whoosh’ notification sound comes from it. “I know you are tired but breaking your phone will not help things.”

Eve grumbles and grabs her phone back, looking at the screen to see if she can work out what Villanelle did to get the email to send, and when she looks back up Villanelle is smirking at her.

“The fajitas are ready,” she says, walking back towards the cooker. “Let’s eat. And if you let me choose what we watch tonight I will teach you how to use your phone.” 

“I know how to use it…” Eve mumbles, eyes narrowed but still standing to help Villanelle lay the dishes of steaming food on the table. “I wanted to talk to you about that, actually.”

“About your phone? Or about what we shall watch? Because do not worry, Eve, I have a good movie in mind.”

Eve starts loading chicken and peppers onto her warm tortilla as Villanelle spoons salsa onto hers, and then they swap, Eve laughing when Villanelle scoops a huge handful of grated cheese into her mouth before sprinkling another handful over her food.

Eve grabs the bottle of sour cream and starts squirting it all over her meat and peppers, not stopping until the white fluffy stuff is all she can see on the tortilla. When she looks up again she finds Villanelle staring at her strangely. 

“...What?”

Villanelle comically darts her gaze between Eve’s plate and her face repeatedly, dramatic expression of disbelief in place. 

“Would you and the sour cream like a room?”

“What,” Eve says with a shrug and a laugh. “I like sour cream!”

Villanelle pretends to gag when Eve shoves the wrap into her mouth, humming around the sour cream and bulging her cheeks out on purpose, and it’s fun, messing around with Villanelle like this. It’s fun and relaxed and not at all what Eve had expected friendship with Villanelle to be like, especially not after only four days.

But here they are, joking back and forth over the delicious food Villanelle has made, and it settles warmly in Eve’s chest, making it hard for her to stop smiling throughout dinner. Not that she wants to, anyway.

“What did you want to talk about?” Villanelle asks, flicking a piece of onion that had fallen out of her fajita at Eve.

Eve manages to catch the onion and pops it in her mouth much to Villanelle’s delight, and before the younger woman can suggest some kind of food throwing game, because Eve knows that’s where Villanelle will go, she answers her question.

“I’m going to stay in a hotel tonight.” Villanelle immediately opens her mouth to argue, but Eve cuts back in with a raised hand. “I know, I know, but I’m aching, Villanelle. My back is killing me and my muscles are sore from cleaning and I just want to sleep on a mattress. That’s all.”

Villanelle frowns, and Eve doesn’t like what this announcement has done to their fun dinner.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” She says with exaggerated sincerity, trying to lighten the mood, and succeeds in pulling an eye roll from the other woman.

“If ‘that’s all’, Eve, then why didn’t you say so?”

Villanelle stands up and starts clearing their plates, leaving Eve quietly confused as she heads to the dishwasher.

“What do mean?” She asks Villanelle’s back.

“I mean,” says Villanelle, loading the plates into the tray, “that you should have said something sooner. I have a bed. You can just sleep in that.”

“Oh,” says Eve, surprised, standing herself to collect the bottles and extra wraps. “Well, that’s really sweet of you. But where will you sleep?” 

Villanelle finishes loading the plates and rubs her hands on a tea towel before turning to Eve with a smile.

“Eve, you are so silly.” She says fondly, then lifts her hands to squish Eve’s cheeks. “I will also be in the bed.”

She lets go of Eve’s face with a gentle pat to one cheek and then walks towards the stairs, Eve staring after her motionless, her brain trying to kick back into gear.

“Also?”

She hears Villanelle laugh as she heads upstairs.

“Do not forget your phone. Tonight’s lesson will be Gmail!”

——

Gmail 101 taught and passed, they sit bundled in blankets, Inception playing on the TV. Villanelle is leaning forward, elbows on her knees and chin in her hands, mouth slightly open and eyes wide as she watches, while Eve sits and stares at Villanelle instead.

Sharing a bed isn’t a big deal. She’s shared a bed with Elena before, usually after one of the studio’s monthly game nights got a bit too rowdy. She shared beds with countless friends at high school sleepovers and late night uni study sessions. Sharing beds is what friends do.

So why does the thought of sharing one with Villanelle make her feel… well, feel .

She studies the sharp line of Villanelle’s jaw, the soft curl of her eyelashes, the messy dark blonde hair running down her back in a loose braid. She studies it like she used to study her textbooks, working hard to learn back then, and working hard to learn now.

But learn what?

There’s a tiny Eve in the back of her mind, a tiny Eve that big Eve can usually shove away, but she’s standing tall tonight and shouting and waving a sign that reads ‘don’t you remember?’, and of course she does, of course.

Of course she remembers the swirling in her stomach the first time she saw Villanelle. Of course she remembers the way Villanelle’s touch lingered on her arm when Eve went to welcome her new neighbour. Of course she remembers the way Villanelle’s eyes would drop to her lips whenever Eve spoke to her over those first few weeks. Of course she remembers what it felt like to push Villanelle against-

Eve’s not trying to learn anything that she doesn’t already know.

She already knows exactly why the thought of sharing a bed with Villanelle makes her feel .

But they’re friends now. They’ve never been friends before. Friends share beds.

But so do two people who-

Friends share beds.

“Eve, you are missing it, this is the best part.”

Eve startles at the interruption to her thoughts but is grateful for it, so she clears her throat and looks at the screen, just in time to see the fuck-off massive train go barrelling through the street out of nowhere. A somewhat manic laugh bubbles out of Villanelle, causing Eve to stare at her again but this time in amused alarm.

“This is your favourite part?”

“Mmhm,” Villanelle hums, nodding earnestly at Eve before looking back at the movie. “It is just, like… boom , and then the road is getting torn up, and it is loud and just, so cool.” 

Eve shakes her head and smiles at Villanelle’s giddy rambling, turning back to the screen herself to watch. She’s immediately distracted though by Villanelle pausing the movie.

“We should put on comfier clothes.” Villanelle says, jumping up and nodding towards her room. “I forgot how long this movie is, I have only seen it about 20 times.”

“20 times?” Eve says in surprise, getting up and following Villanelle. “And I thought I was bad. I’ve seen it 10 times, max.”

“It is not bad to love movies, Eve.”

“No, I know,” Eve rushes to say, entering the bedroom behind her and heading over to her bag stuffed with a few day’s worth of clothes. “I do love them. A lot, actually.”

“I know,” Villanelle smiles at her, grabbing a tee and shorts from her drawers. “That is just one of the things I like about you.”

Eve tries to fight off the blush she feels in her cheeks, but smirks nonetheless.

One of the things?” She teases, settling into the role that she and Villanelle have both been in these last few days. “Do you have a list?”

“Wouldn’t you like to-” Villanelle stops suddenly and gasps, clapping her hands. “Oh my god, we should watch Ten Things I Hate About You tomorrow! It is perfect, and it is about a list!”

Eve scoffs and grabs her things, heading back towards the living room to change as she replies.

“Well in that case, why not Schindler’s List?”

Eve laughs at Villanelle’s soft grumble of “party pooper” aimed at her retreating back.

—— 

It’s late when the credits roll, and Villanelle doesn’t stifle the huge yawn that takes her.

It’s this gasping of breath that makes Eve realise how close they are. One or both of them must have moved during the movie, because Eve’s sweatpants covered thigh is lightly pressed against the skin of Villanelle’s, the younger woman’s shorts ending high up on her legs. Eve swears she can feel the heat where they touch, even through the cotton of her joggers.

And then Villanelle drops her head to Eve’s shoulder, and if she thought she was warm before then she’s suffering from a fever now.

“I have really enjoyed watching movies and shows with you, Eve.” Villanelle says sleepily, somewhere near Eve’s neck, but not close enough for Eve to feel her breath against her skin. Purely innocent.

“Me too.” Eve says quietly, and before she can stop herself she’s lifting her hand and gently resting it on Villanelle’s head, smoothing down her hair just slightly.

Villanelle practically purrs like a cat at the touch and snuggles further into Eve’s shoulder.

And Eve has to say something before she does something silly like run her fingers through the soft, honey blonde locks.

“Let’s go to bed.” Eve suggests, then rolls her eyes at the low chuckle Villanelle lets out. “Don’t say it.” 

“Okay, okay.” Villanelle says in a somewhat suggestive tone, lifting her head. “I mean, you are the one who thought it, Eve.”

Villanelle is shooting her a smirk, and Eve is very tired and very warm and very likely to do something that will complicate this and mess things up, so she stands instead of taking the bait.

Villanelle’s brow dips for a millisecond, a flicker of something sad or confused dancing through her eyes, so Eve reaches out her hand to drag Villanelle upright as well as the both of them back into the relaxed moment from before, where Eve isn’t… pining, and Villanelle isn’t… whatever just happened to Villanelle.

Villanelle stands still, staring at Eve for a second, looking at her with an inscrutable gaze that Eve can’t even begin to work out. 

“Okay!” Villanelle says, and when she starts to walk away and looks back at Eve over her shoulder, Eve is relieved to see her smile back in place.

In the bedroom, Villanelle wanders around and turns the various lamps off before sliding into bed, humming contentedly and then staring at Eve. 

“Get in then.” She says to Eve, who catches the amused glint in Villanelle’s eyes, lit gently by the string of fairy lights hung above the bed. “I won’t bite.”

Eve rolls her eyes at the wink thrown her way, smothering the butterflies in her stomach that start to flap themselves into a frenzy at the sight. She grabs the thick duvet and pulls it back, sliding into the bed and burrowing herself under the covers.

She’s not even embarrassed at the pleased groan she lets out at the luxurious softness of the mattress; it’s that wonderful against her sore body that she doesn’t even care.

And then the bed is dipping slightly and Eve opens her eyes to see Villanelle scooching closer. Not too close, nothing crazy, but close enough that Eve can watch the reflection of the twinkling lights flicker in Villanelle’s hazel eyes.

“I am glad we are friends.” Villanelle says in a hushed voice.

”Me too.” Eve whispers honestly, because she is, god, she is , this is so much better than the excitement that came with fighting, even though Eve might already be thinking that friendship isn’t enough. But she won’t think about that right now. Not now, not after spending a great evening with her friend, who she’d very much like to keep as a friend.

Maybe Eve has learnt something tonight after all. Maybe she’s learnt that being friends with Villanelle is better than being nothing at all. 

And wow, is that not just the most cliche fucking garbage line she’s ever thought in her life.

Eve can handle friendship just fine.

But then Villanelle is reaching out, her hand appearing from under the covers and slowly touching Eve’s cheek, brushing aside a loose curl that had fallen across her forehead to tuck it behind her ear, so delicately that Eve isn’t sure Villanelle even touched her at all.

She’d be certain that she hadn’t if it wasn’t for the sparks she can feel, prickling the line Villanelle’s fingers took across her cheekbone.

And for a flicker of a second, Eve swears she sees Villanelle’s eyes dip to her lips, just like they used to.

But then Villanelle’s eyes are on hers again, and she’s smiling softly and murmuring “goodnight, Eve”, before rolling over and snuggling further into her plush pillows.

Eve stares at the back of Villanelle’s head, playing the moment over and over again until she’s convinced herself that her tired eyes were just seeing things, and that her mind is drowsy with exhaustion and the evening’s revelations, creating things that Eve maybe wants but aren’t actually there.

But she can’t shake off those sparks across her cheek, can’t blink away the soft but wistful look in Villanelle’s eyes as she’d tucked the loose curl away.

Eve muffles a long and slow exhale into the duvet, grounding herself, before nuzzling further into her own pillows.

And if she moves herself the tiniest bit closer to Villanelle, then it’s only because of the warmth rolling off the other woman in waves, drawing Eve in, like a moth to a flame.

Chapter Text

“Hi.” 

Villanelle is just finishing putting up another shelf when the greeting comes from behind her. She turns to see the woman from yesterday, the one who she’d caught staring at her while she directed the movers. The one with the hair. 

Villanelle smiles. 

“Hello,” she replies, quickly dropping her eyes to appreciate the tight black jeans on the woman. “You work next door, yes?”

“I do. I’m Eve, I own the tattoo parlour. And I live above it.”

“Villanelle.”  She replies, reaching out to shake Eve’s hand, “I live here too now. I guess that makes us neighbours.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Eve says quietly, a focussed look in her eyes as she squeezes Villanelle’s hand in a shake. 

Villanelle finds that she likes that look. It’s different to the looks that other women give her, who mostly seem to look at her like she’s dessert or competition. Eve’s look is more thoughtful, like she’s already seen something in Villanelle that she wants to figure out. 

And Villanelle is more than happy to let her try. There’s something about this woman with her tight clothing, contemplative gaze and undeniably attractive tattoos, and don’t even get her started on those dark curls, wild over her shoulders. Maybe Villanelle could try figuring Eve out, too. 

The handshake has gone on way longer than necessary, so Villanelle slowly lets go, her fingertips trailing along the soft skin of Eve’s palm as she pulls her hand back to cross her arms. 

Villanelle turns on the seductive charm that always works so well for her.

“So,” Villanelle says, smirking slightly at Eve trying to inconspicuously rub her palm on her jeans, “are you here to be neighbourly? Would you like to help me put up shelves?”

“Where are you from?” Eve asks instead of answering. “Your accent is... I like it.”

Villanelle lifts her eyebrows, somewhat surprised at Eve’s forward compliment. 

“Russia.”

“Russia,” Eve repeats softly. “Cool. It’s nice.”

Villanelle laughs a little at that.

“I am not sure I would call it cool, but thank you.” Villanelle tilts her head a little, dropping her gaze down Eve’s front again. “So, neighbour. Want to help?”

“I can’t,” Eve says sounding regretful. “I have a client soon. But maybe you could come to the studio today, meet the gang. Unless you’re busy, I imagine you have a lot to do.”

Villanelle takes a step forward, standing closer to Eve but not too close, just testing the waters. She’s pleased when Eve doesn’t flinch, but stays in place with that same interested look on her face. She takes another step forward. 

“Yes, I would like that.” Villanelle replies with a small smile, and then she reaches out to touch Eve’s arm, the one covered in thick black lines, and trails her finger gently over the curve of a storm cloud. “Maybe you can show me some of your designs. I have been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while now.” 

To Eve’s credit, the only thing that gives any sort of reaction away to Villanelle’s touch is the gulp she takes, drawing Villanelle’s eyes straight to her throat. 

“Sounds good.” Eve replies before taking a breath and a step back. “I’ll see you later, then.”

“Mmhm,” Villanelle hums through a pleased smile. “See you later, Eve.”

——

Villanelle is warm when she wakes up. Warm and comfortable and beginning to mourn the fact that it isn’t Sunday yet so she can’t stay in this comfort for longer. She goes to roll over when she realises a weight across her middle is stopping her, and then suddenly she remembers where she is and who she’s with. 

Opening her eyes, she smiles when she sees Eve’s arm slung across her rib cage. Then she notices the warm puffs of air against her upper arm and holds back a giggle at how Eve has pressed her forehead against Villanelle’s shoulder, messy curls covering her face and part of Villanelle’s arm. 

It feels so natural, cuddled up like this. But she knows when Eve wakes up she will react, probably freak out, probably push herself away from Villanelle and stumble over words of apology. Villanelle doesn’t want that. She wants Eve to feel like she does, content in their little duvet cocoon. 

She isn’t going to pretend that she doesn’t want Eve to wake up and smile at her, nuzzling closer and letting Villanelle push the curls away from her face, just like last night. 

And okay, so maybe Villanelle has realised over the last few days that while being friends with Eve is fun, it could be so much more fun. Like the fun they’ve been having watching movies and playing scrabble and cleaning while dancing to Eve’s 90s playlist, but with kissing. And touching. And kissing and touching at the same time. 

Images of what happened five years ago flash through her mind trying to sour her thoughts, but she pushes them away. It was a long time ago, they’ve changed. They know each other better now. And she’s sure Eve will apologise eventually. 

Carefully, she reaches blindly with her free arm for her phone, grabbing it off the side table and opening the camera one handed. She holds it above them and sticks out her tongue, leaning her head against Eve’s and snapping a pic before dropping it back onto the table.

“Eve, wake up.” 

The forehead against her shoulder presses closer, accompanied by a muffled moan and a tiny “noo” that makes Villanelle bite her lips together to stop from laughing. 

“Eve, I am sorry but you must wake up, you are so heavy you will surely crush me to death if you do not get up right now.”

It works. 

Villanelle watches as Eve’s head jerks up, curls falling in front of her face messily as she seems to realise her position. 

“Oh, oh my god, I’m so sorry, I’m-”

And there was the reaction Villanelle had expected. 

As much as Villanelle would like to tease Eve with flirtatious comments and a wink, she knows that that isn’t the way to get Eve to relax around her, not in the way that she wants her to. So instead, she rescues her. 

“My room gets quite cold at night and I run super hot.” She says, flashing Eve a casual smile. “When Elena stayed here, I woke up with her practically spooning me.”

“Elena stayed here?”

“We drank too much tequila during a Love Island drinking game so she slept over.” Villanelle says while pushing the covers down and getting up. “Have you seen that show? It is so bad. Like, really, it is garbage.”

She grabs her robe from the door, draping it around herself then looking at Eve who is still sitting in bed but looking a lot less flustered. And Villanelle can’t resist. 

“Come on, cuddle bug, I will make you breakfast.”

“Don’t call me that.” Eve grumbles while climbing out of bed sleepily. 

“Okay, Evie.”

“No.”

——

After three days off spent cleaning with Eve, Villanelle finally opens up her shop again. 

She’s the only one who works there, not trusting anyone else to look after her store properly, besides Irina who helped her out wrapping bouquets during the busy periods of the year and school holidays. And being the only member of staff meant the shop had stayed closed while she’d been busy. 

Not that she minded. 

She loves her job, her plants, her flowers, even some of her return customers, but Eve needed her, and so she’d been there. 

There was no contest. 

Unlocking her front door and flipping the little ‘open’ sign to face out, Villanelle sighed happily. She’s missed this. She switches on her neon sign and goes about setting up the flower stands out the front, and within half an hour she’s already had two customers.

A little later, hands wrapped around a mug of fruit tea, Villanelle is heading to her laptop on the counter to check if any bespoke orders have come through overnight, when she hears banging coming next door. The repairman must’ve arrived to fix the rest of Eve’s kitchen. 

She’s not the type to dwell, because she doesn’t like wasting time on things that she can’t immediately understand, but Villanelle takes a moment to think back on the past few days and the feelings that came with them regardless. 

She’s never been one to deny herself anything, not the kind of person to lie to herself or hold back feelings and wants and desires either, but with Eve she finds herself attempting to control all of that. 

Villanelle frowns and taps her fingers on the countertop, thinking. What is it that makes her restrain herself around Eve? Is it the lingering bad feelings from five years ago, casting shadows of doubt through her mind and making her careful? Or is it something more than that, something to do with Eve herself rather than the situation they found themselves in back then? 

Was it Eve, awkward, passionate, impatient, strong willed, angry, glorious Eve, that had something in Villanelle holding back from acting like she would with any other woman she was attracted to?

The bell above her door tinkles to announce a customer, and with that delicate chime Villanelle sets her thoughts aside for later, maybe to be enjoyed with a chilled gin and a hot dog. 

——

Her gin bramble, made from the berries she grows in her own garden, is perfect. Of course. She sits on her bed as she sips from her glass, slowly twirling it and causing the ice to spin in the sweet red liquid, thinking about Eve.

She lets the thoughts from earlier back into her mind and examines them with calm eyes, but not quite coming to the conclusion she’d hoped for earlier.

She thinks there may be something there, something alluding to the reason for her controlled behaviour, but it doesn’t seem to want to make itself known. As if something is blocking it, not allowing it to come to the forefront. Is Villanelle herself blocking it? Is she refusing to face it and to listen to it, subconsciously? Hmm. Maybe.

Villanelle figures that it will come to her when it comes to her, so she won't force it. Forcing thoughts causes stress and Villanelle does not like to be stressed, it is bad for her skin which is just so lovely at the moment. So. No stress.

She’s about to load up an audiobook on her iPad when her phone buzzes, and she feels the vibration echo in her chest when she sees Eve’s name on the screen.

iPad entirely forgotten, she swipes the message open.

Eve: So, what did the big flower say to the little flower?

Villanelle: Hello Eve! What flowers? 

Eve: Haha, hi.

Eve: It’s a joke! What did the big flower say to the little flower?

Villanelle: I know, but what type of flowers are they? That is important or I won’t be able to guess the right answer?

Eve: Oh my god.

Eve: Just say ‘I don’t know, what did the big flower say to the little flower’.

Villanelle: Okay okay 

Villanelle: What did the big flower say to the little flower?

Eve: ‘What’s up, bud!’

Villanelle stares at her phone, corners of her mouth lifting into a smile that soon turns into a grin as she stares at the words.

Eve: Do you get it?

Villanelle: Yes Eve I do

Villanelle: I just had no idea you liked dad jokes

Eve: It’s not a dad joke, it’s funny!

Villanelle: Okay dad

Eve: Oh wow, do not call me that.

She can’t help her smile from twisting into a smirk, the field left wide open for the perfect type of inappropriate comment.

Villanelle: Sorry daddy ;)

Eve: We are no longer friends I am never speaking to you ever again goodnight and goodbye.

Villanelle throws her head back and laughs, delighted by the direction the conversation has gone in.

“Shut up!”

It’s muffled, but Villanelle hears the shout through her subsiding giggles and immediately moves to her window, grin still in place.

Eve is sat on the end of her bed, arms folded and poorly hidden amusement on her face through her forced frown as she stares at Villanelle from across the alleyway. Eve’s window is open and the breeze rolling in is ruffling her hair, and Villanelle feels her chest continue to buzz happily.

“What’s up, bud?” Villanelle says after pushing up her own window.

“Oh, now you like the joke?” Eve says with an eye roll before getting up and standing by her own open window.

“I never said I did not like it.” Villanelle says through a grin. “Just that you are a d-”

“Okay that’s enough!” Eve half yells, causing Villanelle to laugh again which in turn seems to pull a defeated chuckle from Eve, who shakes her head with a smile. “You’re awful.”

“I am.” Villanelle agrees with a smile. 

They stare at each other for a few moments, both still smiling, content just looking, until Eve blinks and clears her throat then looks away almost awkwardly.

Villanelle doesn’t want her to look away. Eve starts to open her mouth to say something, and the fear of it being ‘goodnight’ pushes Villanelle into action.

“Come over?”

Eve glances back up, a little confused expression in place.

“But, my house is fine now?”

“Yes Eve I know that, I helped, I was there.” Villanelle replies with an eye roll. “I mean come over and hang out. Come watch another movie.”

Eve looks unsure, like she’s battling with herself about something, and Villanelle suddenly cannot stand the thought of Eve turning her down.

“It is Sunday tomorrow and I have made gin brambles.”

Eve slowly smiles.

“I’ll be there in five.”

Villanelle does a little excited dance once Eve disappears from view.

——

Three brambles in and Eve and Villanelle are laughing a little too loudly considering they’re watching The Hunger Games. 

“So the birds were just falling out of the tree?” Eve says, wiping a tear off her cheek through her laughter.

“Well yes, they were all doped up on morphine!” Villanelle laughed back, waving her hands around while recounting the time her dad had gotten hold of some morphine to sedate a sick and feral cat, but ended up drugging 12 garden birds as well. “They ate the drugged cat food, and I was sitting in the conservatory and suddenly birds were just dropping out of the tree. Yeti the cat was so confused.”

Eve bursts into another round of laughter, covering her face as she does.

“Why was the cat called Yeti?”

“Oof, you should have seen this cat, Eve. So feral, like a soft little beast.”

“God.” Eve says, forcing out slow breaths as she gets her laughter under control. “Did the birds die?”

Villanelle sombers up and presses her lips together.

“Yes, four of them.

And for some reason that just sets them both off all over again.

——

They’re a third of the way through the second Hunger Games film when Villanelle feels gentle hands on her ankles. She’d propped her feet up on Eve’s legs somewhere near the end of the first movie, but until now Eve hadn’t reacted except to throw Villanelle an unimpressed look. Villanelle had smiled innocently back and wiggled her feet, to which Eve rolled her eyes but smiled anyway, leaving Villanelle’s legs where they were.

But now, now Eve’s hands were on her ankles, and they’re warm and kind of heavy against the soft skin of her legs, and Villanelle feels her heart rate pick up just the tiniest bit. 

It’s just Eve’s hands resting on her ankles, but it thrills Villanelle nonetheless, this soft contact that Eve has given her without prompt. She delights in the touch, pulse quickening, skin starting to tingle. 

But then Eve starts to trail a fingertip back and forth in slow and delicate strokes, and everything Villanelle felt in the last two minutes is being completely smothered by what she’s feeling now.

Villanelle prides herself on her sexual prowess, her patient seduction, her ability to smirk and wait out whatever teasing methods other women try to use on her until the women themselves are the ones trembling with anticipation and want. But this?

Villanelle doesn’t think she’s ever felt this much from a touch so simple.

And maybe this has something to do with that thought from earlier, the one she can’t quite see yet. Maybe Eve’s ability to reduce Villanelle to a heartbeat-skipping ball of delicious tension is part of why Villanelle tries to control her behaviour around the other woman. Maybe part of her knows already the power that Eve holds over her, even if Eve doesn’t know it herself.

Villanelle suddenly realises that Eve has the power to make Villanelle feel queen of the fucking universe. She also realises that Eve has the power to destroy her.

Two sides of the same coin.

And that coin has been tossed in her mind, maybe when she saw the fire, maybe sometime during their feud, maybe when they first locked eyes five years ago, but it's flipping through the air and Villanelle thinks that maybe the coin is what’s stopping her from acting like she always does when she wants someone.

Maybe the power Eve unknowingly has is enough to keep Villanelle in check until she can see which side the coin will land on.

And Villanelle is very aware that it’s impossible to predict the result of a coin toss.

The familiar sparks that Eve causes are dancing across her skin, following in the wake of Eve’s slow fingertip back and forth across her ankle, and Villanelle chances a glance towards Eve.

Her eyes are on the screen of the TV and she looks perfectly relaxed, like she isn’t aware that she’s ruining Villanelle from the inside out, but her eyes give her away. They don’t flit across the screen, following the movement of characters. Instead they stay still, looking through the TV, looking beyond it into dazed nothingness, and Villanelle knows then that Eve is thinking about the movement of her fingers too.

Swallowing, Villanelle turns back to the movie and forces a little laugh after a few minutes at an appropriate time, trying to act as though she’s watching the story play out rather than living in the story playing in her own mind.

A story involving Eve’s hand trailing higher up her leg and higher still, her dark eyes locking with Villanelle’s while her fingers delicately skim the soft skin inside Villanelle’s calves, her knees, her inner thighs, before reaching where it’s warmer, making Villanelle’s lashes flutter behind heavy lids, making Villanelle sit up and twist her hands in Eve’s thick curls, bringing her forward to crash her lips against her own, smothering Eve’s moan with a kiss so desperate, so perfect, so-

And then Eve’s fingertip really does move higher, maybe by a millimetre, a centimetre max, but it might as well be dragging Villanelle’s panties down her legs if the way her chest tightens and her fingers flex are anything to go by.

And Villanelle can’t tell which way that coin is going to land.

So she sits up, feigning a stretch, not wanting to make Eve think she’s done something wrong but desperately needing to move her ankles away from Eve’s gentle fingers because holy shit.

She stretches her legs a little but leaves them on Eve’s lap, watching Eve’s face carefully for any sign of rejection that Villanelle really doesn’t want to cause. She wiggles her feet again happily, trying to make it seem like she really was just stretching, and it seems to work. 

Eve blinks herself out of the daze she seemed to be under, and she clears her throat before turning to look at Villanelle and smiling a little.

“Jeez, I’m tired. I think I’m gonna head back to mine.”

Villanelle nods, her own small smile in place, heart and mind already relaxing without the maddening and blissful touch of Eve’s fingers to fog it up with fantasies. 

“Me too.” Villanelle agrees with a genuine yawn, rubbing her face before smiling again. “Maybe we could watch the rest tomorrow? Or next week, or whenever you are free.”

Eve smiles wider, and Villanelle feels a sense of relief that Eve too seems to be coming back to herself.

“Absolutely.” She nods, then stands and stretches, and the glimpse of skin between her jeans and tee are enough to set Villanelle’s mind buzzing softly again, so she looks up at Eve’s face instead.

“I’ll text you.” Villanelle says, and Eve nods at that and starts to make her way to the door. Villanelle jumps up to follow, grabbing the keys off the coffee table as they go. 

Eve throws her a smile over her shoulder. 

“I have more plant jokes, you know. I’ve been googling.”

“Well I cannot wait to hear them, daddy.”

“Jesus never mind.”

——

It’s not as easy to push her earlier desires away as she’s lying in her own bed, staring up at the twinkling lights above her.

And by that she means she doesn’t want to push them away.

Villanelle may well be controlling herself around Eve, but she sees no reason to control herself when she’s alone.

Her mind picks up where it left off with no hesitation, and Villanelle sinks further into her sheets as she lets the thoughts take her fully this time, her fingers slowly drifting down to toy with the waistband of her shorts.

Eve’s fingers dancing their way up her thighs, both pretending to watch the movie while knowing the effect they’re having on each other. Villanelle’s thighs dropping open slightly, giving Eve the room to trail her hand higher which she does, her breathing growing quick to match Villanelle’s own. Villanelle sitting up, shifting closer, climbing into Eve’s lap and straddling her, encouraging the hand higher between her thighs with a gentle but insistent rocking of her hips, hands going to Eve’s hair and fingers twisting just on the right side of too tight. Eve’s dark eyes dropping to Villanelle’s lips as her fingertips start to trail over damp lace, and Villanelle rocking her hips faster, harder, a moan on the tip of her tongue as Eve teases her and tugs the lace aside and, and-

Villanelle doesn’t control herself when she’s alone, and she only half hopes Eve has closed her bedroom window.

Chapter Text

Eve is going to put ‘touching someone’s ankle’ near the top of her mental list of the most erotic things in the entire world, followed by ‘(not a foot fetish)’ underlined, because even though this is a private mental list, she still needs to be clear.

Not that she’s kink shaming, it’s just not for her.

Jesus, anyway.

All she’d wanted to do was touch Villanelle in some way. After almost an hour of her feet resting on her lap, after almost an hour of enjoying the warm weight of her, after almost an hour of stolen glances at impossibly long legs ending in peony printed silk shorts, Eve had given in to the slow but steady building desire to just… touch Villanelle. 

She thought it would be innocent, just a simple touch of her hands against Villanelle’s ankles to satisfy the want for literally any kind of skin on skin contact. What she hadn't expected was the buzz of a spark the second her palms settled on soft skin. 

She felt it like a current, shooting up her arms and sizzling nerve endings in its wake. 

She almost pulled her hands away but found she couldn’t, as if the current was holding her in place, keeping them linked with invisible ribbons of electricity. 

But she didn’t want to move her hands anyway, and Villanelle didn’t seem too phased at first glance. So, Eve kept her hands there and allowed herself to indulge in the warm touch. 

Fifteen minutes passed with Eve’s palms tingling against Villanelle’s skin before she chanced another glance at the woman, tilting her head only slightly and sliding her eyes to their corners. 

Eve caught her just in time to see her blow out a slow and steady breath. 

She thinks… she hopes it’s because Villanelle feels the sparks too. 

Eve decided to use it as a learning opportunity, a way to gain a little more understanding, maybe gather some data on how Villanelle works and reacts to things. Reacts to Eve. 

Slowly, slowly, Eve started to run her fingertip along Villanelle’s ankle, and she swears she felt the muscles beneath her fingers tense for a second or two. She took another quick look and felt her stomach tighten pleasantly at the sight of Villanelle’s eyes sliding closed, clearly affected by the tiny movements. 

Eve had looked back at the TV then, determined not to be caught staring should Villanelle turn to look at her, not wanting to do anything to interrupt the moment unfolding around them. She doesn’t watch the movie, content instead to stare in the direction of it while letting her mind wander over the delicious tingling in her palms and fingertips and Villanelle’s smooth, warm skin. 

And okay, maybe she shouldn’t have been doing it, but honestly? Pretending to herself that she isn’t attracted to Villanelle again is a waste of mental energy.

And it’s not a big deal anyway. Villanelle is a very, very attractive woman. Beautiful. The stuff of paintings and catwalks and whatever else features the kind of women people would die for. She’s funny too, all dry wit one moment and teasing mischief the next, an exciting and unpredictable blend of humour that has had her laughing countless times over the last few days. And god, she’s smart. Her knowledge doesn’t end at biology and languages; Villanelle knows art, music, history and geography, she follows what’s happening in politics and has opinions on various philosophical theories and knows about the constellations and the stars. 

Apparently Eve is a Capricorn sun with a Scorpio moon, whatever that means. Villanelle had nodded knowingly and mumbled ‘workaholic, obsessive’ under her breath, and refused to explain what that meant even after Eve had started pinching her until Villanelle shrieked through her laughter and hid in the bathroom.

So yeah, Eve wants Villanelle. 

But she has self control. 

Stroking fingertips across Villanelle’s legs, seeing the effect it was having on the woman, may not appear under what is considered ‘self control’, but whatever. Seeing Villanelle react to Eve , react to her soft and innocent touch with a heavy exhale, react to her delicate movements with eyelids fluttering closed, had just been… 

The first thing Eve did once back in her own apartment was take a long, cold shower. 

——

They don’t go back to how they used to be before the fire. 

Not that Eve expected they would. She knew something had changed. 

Their friendship was instantly a good one, both delighting in the other’s quirks and traits. Eve constantly found Villanelle’s knack for pulling an innuendo or flirtatious comment out of thin air impressive and hilarious, while Villanelle would throw her head back and laugh at every quick, sarcastic line delivered by Eve’s sharp tongue. 

Movie nights became their thing, much to Elena’s amusement. 

“Wanna hang out later?”

“Can’t, sorry Elena, watching Psycho tonight with V.”

“Oh my god, babe, you’re over hers like every other night!”

“Not true! ...Sometimes she comes to mine instead.”

“Wow.”

They happened around four times a week, which really isn’t a lot if you think about the fact that they’re neighbours who each live alone and enjoy the company of others. It makes sense to hang out together a lot, seeing as they’re already only 30 seconds away from each other. 

So they have their movie nights, sometimes four nights, sometimes more nights, and they take turns in choosing what they watch. And they sit together on the sofa, and they have snacks or dinner or wine, and they don’t acknowledge the fact that one of them always manages to initiate some kind of contact with the other. 

If it’s not feet on a soft lap (always Villanelle), then it’s toes tucked under warm legs (always Eve), and if it’s neither of those then it’s a back leaning against an arm and shoulder, propped up and facing away but the firm contact still there (both of them in turn). 

These positions, these casual positions, would look like your standard friendship to an outsider. 

But to Eve, these positions are just fuel to her fire. And as she watches Villanelle, studies her, she thinks that maybe Villanelle has a fire being fuelled too. 

It makes Eve’s self control a lot harder to… well, control. 

——

It’s Monday, which means Eve has the full day off and Villanelle has the afternoon off. They don’t usually hang out during this time, both busy with admin or other friends etc, and so Eve sets herself up at her new desk to get on with some emails despite not needing to work. She likes to stay on top of things. 

She’s interrupted by a knock, and before she can ask who it is Villanelle has pushed her way through and is moving towards Eve, smile on her face and coffees in her hands. 

“We are going out.”

“Who’s we? Got a mouse in your pocket?”

“English sayings are so strange.” Villanelle says curiously before smiling again. “But really, let’s go do something.”

Eve takes off her glasses and folds them, dropping them to her desk as she pushes her chair back to stretch her legs out. 

“I can’t.” Eve replies. “I want to organise my calendar, get clients booked in.”

Villanelle puts one coffee cup down on Eve’s desk and puts the free hand on her hip, eyebrow quirked. 

“I thought you were booked up for months.”

“I am.” Eve shrugs with a grin. “I’m sorting out my clients for three months from now.”

She starts to slide her chair back in but Villanelle is too quick, rushing towards her and grabbing the back with her hand. 

“It is your day off, Eve,” Villanelle says with a little whine. “You must give yourself a break!”

“I do ,” says Eve, staring up at Villenelle’s face while trying to wiggle the chair out of her grasp. “I watch movies with you.”

“Well then let’s go watch a movie!”

“Villanelle, it’s 1:30 in the afternoon.”

Villanelle looks perplexed by Eve’s statement. 

“And?”

Eve should’ve known better than to apply normal rules to Villanelle and her movie habits. 

“Fine, okay, let’s go to the cinema.” Eve relents, shrugging heavily in a show of frustration but unable to hide her smile. “But you’re buying me popcorn for dragging me out against my will.”

“Okay.” Villanelle chirps while heading back to the door. “Shall we see Midsommar?”

Eve pauses in pulling on her leather jacket. 

“Isn’t that the creepy one?”

“Yes,” Villanelle replies slowly, casting a glance back at Eve as they walk through the studio. “Is that okay?”

“Yep. Sure. That’s fine.”

Villanelle stops Eve before they step through the front door. 

“Do you not like scary films?”

“I do.”

“She bloody doesn’t.”

Both Eve and Villanelle spin around at Elena’s amused voice reaching them over the sound of her buzzing tattoo gun.

“She doesn’t ?” 

Eve rolls her eyes at the excited tone in Villanelle’s voice, then turns to head out. 

“I do. It’s just… gore creeps me out a bit.”

“You are a tattoo artist, you make people bleed for a living.” Villanelle says, still sounded delighted. Eve scoffs and holds the door open. 

“That’s different, that’s art.

“And movies aren’t art?” Villanelle smirks as Eve purses her lips in defeat. “Exactly. Now let’s go, I read a review saying this movie is basically a horror film about the world’s worst boyfriend, and a lesson on why scoop neck tees on men are a red flag.”

—— 

Midsommar was, to put it lightly, disturbing. 

“That was amazing.” Villanelle gushes, grabbing at Eve’s arm excitedly. “It was so beautiful, and the shots were so clever, and the story, and the costumes, and the ending was so good, it was-”

“Okay Vil, I get it,” Eve chuckles, the sunlight outside helping to remove some of the lingering ick from her mind. “You liked it. Deep breaths.”

Villanelle turns on Eve then.

“And you?” She says hopefully. “Did you like it?”

Eve considers the question.

The movie was smart, and the lead actress was great, and it really was beautiful like Villanelle said. Obviously that didn’t take away from all the screaming and blood and ritualistic sacrifices, but even those moments had their upsides.

Those upsides being, when Eve instinctively buried her face in Villanelle’s side in fear, Villanelle throwing an arm around her and holding her close, chuckling quietly at Eve’s frightened squeaks while squeezing her closer whenever something particularly gross happened.

So Eve had spent a lot of time curled up against Villanelle watching the movie through the fingers of one hand, the other fisting Villanelle’s white t-shirt and refusing to let go, even at Villanelle’s quiet ‘you are going to stretch my top’. 

And Eve didn’t even do this stuff on purpose, it was all automatic, all on autopilot the second the old lady jumped off the cliff and not ending until the credits started rolling.

But still, just because it wasn’t on purpose didn’t mean Eve couldn’t enjoy it a little. 

Villanelle smelt of her vanilla and orange blossom moisturiser, plus something floral settled deep in the fabric of her tee. Eve could feel the warmth of her skin through the clothing pressed against her cheek, comforting and steady, while the hand on her shoulder rested gently, sometimes trailing fingers down to Eve’s upper arm, sometimes gripping tight as some other insane thing happened on screen.

So yeah, the film had been disturbing. But if a disturbing movie meant a completely legitimate excuse to tightly curl into Villanelle then sign her the fuck up to a horror movie club, or whatever else would mean they could do this more often without Eve feeling like she’s taking advantage of the situation.

All in all, Eve has never been so thankful to be freaked out by scary movies.

“I liked it,” Eve says, smiling at how Villanelle’s face goes from hopeful to happy. “I could have done without that woman’s face flapping open or the dude’s leg snapping upwards, but overall, yeah. It was good.”

“Which was your favourite part?” Villanelle said excitedly as they started the twenty minute walk back to their homes. 

Eve only then noticed that Villanelle’s hand was still holding her arm, so she moved her own slightly, giving Villanelle the hint to slide it down and link their arms together. Villanelle gave an appreciative squeeze and Eve bit her lips together to contain her growing smile.

“Uh,” Eve says, squinting her eyes a little while thinking. “The ending, I think. Yeah, I liked how in the end she found her family. She found a place to belong.”

“By ordering that her boyfriend be burned alive.” Villanelle says, staring at her with an unreadable expression.

“Yeah, but like…” Eve trails off, then shrugs, “He deserved it.”

And then Villanelle is squeezing her arm tighter and dragging her into her side, grin on her face as she looks at Eve.

“That was my favourite part too.” Villanelle says happily.  “And the bear dissection bit, I liked that.”

Eve laughs and jostles Villanelle a little as they walk, arm in arm.

“Of course you did.”

——

“Polastri.” 

“Hmm?” Eve is staring at the tv, The Other Woman playing per her request, her toes tucked underneath Villanelle who lounges next to her on the couch. 

“I saw it on your card earlier. I have never heard that name before. Where is it from?”

“It’s polish.” Eve replies, glancing away from the screen to Villanelle who is looking at her with gentle curiosity, glass of white wine in her hand. “My ex-husband is from there.”

Eve jumps as Villanelle sprays the wine she’d been sipping over herself. She reaches out to hurriedly grab the glass out of Villanelle’s hand as she coughs. 

“You were married ?”

Eve feels the ‘to a man?’ hang in the air, unspoken. 

“Yeah, I was. For a little while.”

“Oh.”

Villanelle looks a little confused, but Eve smiles in anticipation of how Villanelle might react next.

“Almost married a woman once, too.”

“What?!”

And Eve laughs, any shade of regret on Villanelle’s face gone the instant Eve had finished speaking, leaving only surprise and a glimmer of something else shining in hazel eyes. 

“Mmhmm,” Eve hums, smiling and handing Villanelle’s glass back to her. “Ashley, my girlfriend from university. We got engaged just after graduation but called it off not long after. We realised there was still too much we wanted to do. We’re still friends on facebook, actually.”

“Huh.”

It’s not often that Villanelle is speechless, and Eve can’t help but grin and revel in being the cause of it. 

“Surprised?”

“I mean, yes.” Villanelle says before taking a sip of wine. “I did not expect you to be divorced.”

“Well, I am. Divorcee, right here.” Eve says, sipping her own wine. “All of that before the grand old age of 30.”

“You were young?”

“Probably the age you are now?” Eve says, scrunching up her face as she tries to remember. “I was about 25 when Niko and I got married, and we split when I was 29. Just before I bought this place, actually. I think it kick started a drive in me that I’d been missing for a few years.” 

Villanelle starts to turn her body to face her, so Eve moves her legs and tucks her knees under her chin as Villanelle tucks her own to the side. Long fingers run up and down the stem of her wine glass and Eve spares a moment to watch the slow trail. 

“I’m gonna go ahead and assume Astankova is just a standard Russian name?”

Villanelle clutches her chest with her free hand, throwing Eve an affronted look. 

“How dare you, it means ‘assassin’, I come from a very powerful family, we are feared by all.”

Eve’s eyes widen. 

“Really?” She says with interest, shuffling closer to Villanelle. 

“No.” She replies, and Eve drops her head with a chuckle. “It is just a name. My parents are bankers.”

When Eve looks back up, Villanelle is smiling at her softly. With all of their rearranging, there’s not much space between them now.

“I like knowing things about you.” Villanelle says quietly, reaching with her free hand slowly to the hand Eve has wrapped around her own calf. Sparks fizzle as Eve feels fingertips gently touch her knuckles. “I do not know many people well. I do not usually like to. But, I like knowing you.”

It’s so sweet and strange, Villanelle’s statement, that Eve slides her hand off her leg without thinking, and gently takes Villanelle’s fingers in her own. 

It’s not until she registers the warmth of Villanelle’s fingers linked with her own that Eve even realises she’s taken hold of the woman’s hand. 

Who knew just holding a hand could feel so heavenly. 

Eve smiles at Villanelle who is staring at their linked hands almost in surprise. She glances back up with bright eyes. Eve smiles and leans forward like she’s sharing a huge secret. 

“I like knowing you too.”

It’s quiet, bar the movie in the background, but Eve can barely hear it over the thoughts in her own head. She wants to tug on the hand, pull Villanelle closer, feel warm puffs of air on her lips as they wait to see who’ll give in first. 

So she does. She tugs, just a little, lightly enough to deny it if she needs to but enough that Villanelle feels the pull on her own fingers. Villanelle sways the tiniest bit forward and she looks dazed, and it makes Eve feel wild. This gorgeous, intimidating woman looking like that because of Eve? It’s enough to make her tug a second time. 

And when Villanelle’s eyes drop to her lips, Eve can only hear the soft thud of her own heartbeat, can only feel the warmth heavy in her hand and the anticipatory tingling in her lips. 

A third tug. 

A small hitch of breath. 

A small movement to close more of the distance.

A jarring crash from outside. 

Eve falls off the sofa in shock. 

“What the fuck?” She barks, pushing herself off the floor and wincing a little at the pain in her knee. She rushes to the window to stare out, seeing none other than Hugo stumbling in the alleyway. “Hugo what the fuck are you doing down there?”

He’s clearly drunk as he spins on the spot trying to find Eve’s voice. He finally looks up and sees her, grinning wide and waving. 

“Hey!” He calls up, and Eve feels Villanelle come to stand beside her, long dark blonde hair swinging as she sticks her head out too. “And Villanelle! What’s up girl!”

“Hugo, you are ruining the movie.” Villanelle says with an edge to her voice that Eve completely understands. “Go away.”

“Well I am trying,” the man says, “but my phone is dead and I need an Uber, a young man like myself shouldn’t walk home alone at this time, it’s not safe.”

“It’s not even ten pm!” Eve says exasperatedly. “Why are you here?”

“Because you are the hero I need, Eve.” He says in what she guesses is supposed to be an imploring tone. “And also because the pub is just over there. Please call this charming, handsome man a taxi so he can get home and sleep, ready for his shift of putting holes in people tomorrow.”

“Jesus Christ.” Eve mumbles to herself, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I’ll call you an Uber, but you’re not coming in to wait. And if you’re hungover tomorrow you’re fired.”

“Hugo doesn’t get hungover,” he calls up at her, “Hugo is youthful and nubile and immune to that shit!” 

“Oh my god, we’re going now, just be quiet and wait for your damn taxi.”

And with that, Eve pulls her head back inside with Villanelle closely following who then slides the window down with a slam. 

“Eve, I do not like Hugo.”

“Me neither, Vil. Me neither.”

——

Villanelle leaves soon after that, and Eve doesn’t blame her. The moment, if it had been a moment and not just some lust filled fever dream Eve had on the couch, was over. There was still a tension in the air, a warm buzz of energy as the women moved around each other to clean up their drinks and snacks, but they ignored it. 

It wasn’t awkward, much to Eve’s relief, but they did act as if nothing had happened. Villanelle was back to her usual self, making jokes and laughing at Eve’s plans to murder her piercing expert, even dragging Eve into her usual goodbye hug as she left. 

Eve felt Villanelle linger during the hug, her face buried in Eve’s curls, and Eve couldn’t help her eyelashes fluttering lightly at the feeling of Villanelle’s breath tickling the side of her neck. 

But then it was over, and Villanelle headed down to let herself out of Eve’s building, taking the key with her to lock up behind herself before pushing the key through Eve’s letterbox. 

And Eve stands in silence for a moment, in the middle of her living room, breathing steadily in the quiet. 

The quiet which is disturbed by a yelp from outside. 

“Eve! Ow, fuck, Eve, she kicked me!”

Eve smiles as she heads into her room. 

Chapter Text

Eve tried to kiss her. Villanelle is sure of it. 

And if she didn’t then Eve needs to work on her social behaviour, because gently tugging someone in your direction while staring into their eyes is not really the sort of thing people do during casual conversation. Maybe it’s an American thing. 

So Eve had tried to kiss her while they sat on Eve’s couch, and Villanelle had wanted to kiss her too. Still wants to kiss her. Would really, really like to kiss her. 

But that goes against the self restraint Villanelle is trying to keep up, it is the proverbial cannon ball into her defensive wall. 

And okay, dropping her eyes to Eve’s lips and leaning forward as she pictured kissing her cupid’s bow wasn’t exactly a good example of self restraint, but that is not important. What is important is that they didn’t kiss, and Villanelle is somewhat proud of herself. 

Proud, and thoroughly disappointed. 

Very, very disappointed. 

And still a little turned on, hours later, lying in bed. 

Self restraint really isn’t what she thought it would be. No wonder she’s never tried it before.  

Villanelle feels something teetering in her mind, like she’s balancing on a rope while taking careful steps forward. One side of the fall is soft and green but empty, lonely, boring. The other side is a long drop and she can’t see what’s at the bottom, but there’s nothing to suggest if it’s good or bad. It could be either. 

Thoughts blow like a breeze and disrupt her balancing act, and she knows she has to choose a side. She’s not the type to balance for this long anyway. She’s a decision maker. She hates the ifs and buts of being in between. This really isn’t like her. This is boring

Villanelle is not the type to balance for this long, so she chooses a way to fall. 

She chooses how to move forward when it comes to Eve. 

It’s a long drop. She hopes she finds something good at the bottom of it. 

She has always been a risk taker, and so for now, she’ll enjoy the fall. 

——

Villanelle: Want to hang out?

Villanelle: You can come here? I made snacks

Villanelle: Eve why are you ignoring me

Villanelle: Eve

Villanelle: Evie

Eve: Nope, still not okay with Evie.

Villanelle: You are alive! Thank god, I would have nothing to do

Eve: Ha, shut up.

Eve: I can’t hang out, I’m in the zone. Drawing stuff. 

Villanelle: But it is after work?

Eve: My kitchen burned down, remember? All of my designs were destroyed. I’ve got to get more flash drawn.

Villanelle: I can help

Eve: How?

Villanelle: By taking you out for a drink!

Villanelle: You need to relax, you’ve been at it every evening this week. We still haven’t watched the second Bourne movie.

Eve: I know, I’m sorry, I just have to get some done.

Villanelle: And you will! 

Villanelle: But tonight you are going for a drink

Villanelle: So that you don’t burn out like your kitchen did

Eve: Fuck you!

Villanelle: Too soon?

Eve: Yes.

Eve: I’ll be ready in ten, take me somewhere fancy.

Villanelle: The fanciest!

Tossing her phone on the bed, Villanelle quickly checks herself in the mirror. Her mid length, floating leopard print skirt shows off her calves, a black loose-fit tank top tucked in at the waist flattering her figure. Her hair is down and tousled, deliberately effortless, while her light make up helps frame her hazel eyes.

She gives herself a smirk and shimmies her shoulders. She looks gorgeous as always, and there’s no way Eve won’t think so too.

Villanelle loses focus and stares through the mirror without seeing, imagining Eve admiring her legs in the skirt. Maybe Eve will sit close to her at the bar, maybe her hand will gently brush against her thigh while telling another bad tattoo story. Maybe she’ll lean in, touch the back of Villanelle’s hand where it rests on her glass, run a fingertip over her knuckles gently, slowly. 

Villanelle blinks herself back into reality and shakes her head at herself in the mirror.

When did she become so affected by the thought of these tiny, little touches? They did something to her when done by Eve. No one else has ever stirred up these sensations before with barely-there touches and lingering looks. Villanelle was the stirrer. She was the one creating reactions, not the other way around. 

With every new touch, every new inch of innocent skin brushed with delicate fingers, Villanelle felt another lit match fall into the depths of her, joining the fire already burning, already building in size and heat.

With every new touch, a new fantasy came alive in Villanelle’s mind, sparked by something small but growing into something big, reaching a fever pitch, igniting Villanelle from the inside out with nothing to put out the flames but her own touch, her own frenzied fingers, her own wet heat.

But she’s learning that you can’t fight fire with fire. Sooner or later, something has to give to either put the fire out or let it engulf her.

She clears her throat to chase away the embers starting to flicker, and winks at herself. 

Time to go. 

——

Eve is standing outside Original Sin, tapping away on her phone, and Villanelle is glad for the other woman’s momentary distraction because it gives her the chance to just drink Eve in. 

Eve’s usual skinny jeans sit tight on her legs, but instead of sneakers the woman is wearing polished black brogue flats, reflecting the light of the street lamp above her. On her top half Eve wears a silky looking khaki shirt tucked into the jeans, a few buttons undone at the top drawing Villanelle’s eyes to her sharp collar bones. A black blazer finishes the look, sleeves rolled up to the elbows in a way that Villanelle knows isn’t a conscious decision on Eve’s part, but done for practicality without realising just how good it looks, showing off her tattooed forearms. 

And Eve’s hair. It was curly, but it looked like Eve had run some product through it, something that tamed the curls a little, made them look sleek and shiny without losing their bounce. 

Villanelle holds a breath and lets it out slowly, eyes dragging lazily over Eve’s body before she clears her throat and flashes her trademark smirk. 

“Maybe ‘daddy’ was not such a far fetched nickname after all.”

Eve starts at Villanelle’s voice but softens quickly, although soon frowns at Villanelle’s line. 

“I will turn around and go back inside, I swear to god.”

“Okay, I am sorry, no more d word.” Villanelle puts her hands up in surrender. She reaches Eve and holds an arm out for her to take. “Shall we?”

“We shall.” Says Eve through a smile, linking arms with Villanelle then walking beside her. “Where are we going?”

“Vasiliev’s.” Villanelle supplies, then Eve stops walking suddenly and Villanelle is jerked back. She gives Eve a baffled stare. “Ouch, what?”

“I was joking when I said fancy,” Eve says, reluctantly moving again when Villanelle starts dragging her forward. “I can’t afford that place.”

“Well, lucky for you, you won’t be buying your drinks.”

“No no, Villanelle I don’t want you to pay for me, I won’t-”

Villanelle’s scoff interrupts her. 

“Oh, I will not be paying.” She chuckles. “You think I am made of money? I am a florist, Eve.”

“Then how do you afford all your designer clothes?”

Villanelle turns to look at Eve and smirks. 

“You have noticed my clothes?”

“Everyone notices,” Eve says with an eye roll. “Have you seen you?”

Eve seems to realise what she’s said because she clamps her mouth shut fast, but it’s too late. Villanelle feels excitement bubbling inside her at the knowledge that Eve thinks she’s attractive and well dressed. She feels like she’s glowing. 

“Thank you.” She says, smug voice in place to make Eve a little more comfortable. It works, and Eve shakes her head with a small laugh. Villanelle continues, “but how I afford my clothes is a story for another time.” 

Eve narrows her eyes at that, peering at Villanelle suspiciously, but she just smiles sweetly in return. 

“Anyway, you won’t be buying your drinks and neither will I.” Villanelle stops at the door to the bar. “After you.”

Eve doesn’t seem to realise they’ve arrived, because she continues to stare at Villanelle for a moment until noticing that Villanelle is holding a door open. 

“Oh. Thanks.” Eve says, heading inside, Villanelle following with a wide smile already in place. 

They’re barely five steps inside the dark and luxurious looking bar before a booming laugh reaches them. 

“Villanelle!”

Eve spins to look at her, confusion painted across her features. 

“You know him?” She says quietly as a large man with salt and pepper hair walks towards them, arms outstretched. 

“Nope.” Villanelle replies, popping the p, before grinning at the man. “Never met him.”

“Never met me?” The man says, and then Villanelle feels herself being lifted off the ground and spun around. She yelps and starts hitting his wide back, but can’t help but laugh at the comforting grip of her old friend. “Well, if we’ve never met then I’ll take that investment back, hmm?”

“I paid that back years ago,” Villanelle tells the man once he’s put her back down. “Do not start making up debt.”

“I know, I know.” He chuckles, still grinning at her. “I just miss having something to blackmail you with.”

Villanelle watches him turn to Eve, giving her a quick up and down before holding out a large hand. 

“Hello, I am Konstantin,” he says, shaking the hand Eve puts in his. “Your rude friend doesn’t seem to want to introduce us.”

“Eve, Konstantin, Konstantin, Eve.” Villanelle says, flapping a hand between them. “Now please, Konstantin, we are thirsty.”

Konstantin starts heading to the main bar area, beckoning them over with a hand. 

“And I suppose you will not be paying for your drinks again tonight?”

Villanelle scoffs as she slides onto a velvet barstool, throwing Eve a quick smile as she sits on the one beside her. 

“You are so silly today, Konstantin.” Villanelle says. “I will have a gin martini.”

But Konstantin had already started reaching for a martini glass, giving Villanelle a knowing smile. He glances at Eve with a raised eyebrow. 

“Let me guess.” He says, reaching for the vermouth for Villanelle’s drink. “I will make the perfect drink for you, Eve.”

The older woman looks a little impressed, much to Villanelle’s delight, and settles comfortably on the barstool. 

“So how do you two know each other.”

Villanelle looks to Konstantin who is busy making drinks, then turns to Eve with a smirk. 

“This place would not be nearly as popular without me.”

That booming laugh comes from somewhere below the bar. 

“You built a rooftop garden, rostok,” Konstantin says as he stands back up, bottle of bitters in hand. 

“The best rooftop garden you have ever seen , dyadya.”

He waves a hand at her in fond dismissal and Villanelle rolls her eyes before looking back at Eve. 

“I built his rooftop garden back when I did landscaping work. We got talking pretty much immediately, due to the shared homeland thing.” Villanelle says with a shrug, flashing a smile at Konstantin as he slides her the martini. “He helped me get my business started, and we have been best friends ever since.”

“Best friends do not drink entire bottles of gin without paying.” 

“Yes they do.” Villanelle replies innocently, before turning to watch Eve as she accepts her tumblr of amber liquid from Konstantin. “What did you make her?”

“Old fashioned but with a summer twist.” He rubs his hands on a towel as he studies Eve, who sniffs at the drink before smiling. “Whisky and ice, but with fresh peach muddled into the bitters instead of sugar, and a splash of simple syrup.”

Eve takes a sip, and immediately her eyes widen. 

“Holy shit, this is delicious.”

Konstantin gives her a confident shrug as Villanelle grins proudly. 

“And it’s all free!”

“One of these days you will have to pay your five year tab, Villanelle.”

“And today is not that day.” She says happily before lifting her glass towards the others. “Cheers!”

——

“Eve, Eve come here. Let me tell you how much I love you.”

Eve grins at her drunkenly and pushes herself away from the outside wall of the bar and straight into Villanelle, arms immediately wrapping around her neck as she smiles up at her. 

“I’m here, tell me.”

Villanelle staggers a little under Eve’s forceful grip, but rights herself and wraps one arm around her waist. The other she reaches up to boop Eve on the nose. 

“So much.” Villanelle smiles at Eve’s laugh before wrapping her free arm around her back. “You are my best friend.”

“I thought Konstantin was your best friend.” Eve frowns with a slight pout, and Villanelle squeezes her. 

“He is my best man friend. You are my best lady friend.”

“I am your best lady.” Eve grins, squinting at Villanelle through drunk eyes. “You are my best lady too.”

Villanelle squeezes her again and then gasps as a thought strikes her. 

“Eve,” she whispers, excited. “I have had an amazing idea. It will show everyone we are best friends forever.”

“What’s that?”

Villanelle starts walking them backwards, grinning as they stumble a little. 

“We should get matching tattoos.”

Eve stops them from walking and shoots an amused look at Villanelle. 

“You want your first tattoo to be a drunk one?” She says, all humoured suspicion. “And you actually think someone will tattoo us in this state anyway?”

“Eve, don’t be silly!” Villanelle laughs drunkenly, finally letting go of her and grabbing one of her hands as it slides off her neck. “We will do them!”

Eve chuckles as she allows Villanelle to drag her to the door of the studio. 

“I am not tattooing you while I’m drunk.” Eve says, shaking her head with a smile. “It goes against all I’ve been taught. And also the law.”

“Well then,” Villanelle says, turning on the doorstop to flash Eve a somewhat manic grin. “I guess I will just have to give you a tattoo.”

——

“I can’t believe you’re letting me do this.”

“Me neither.” Eve says from her sitting position on her own tattooing bed. “Pass me the tequila.

Villanelle hands her the small liquor bottle they’ve been passing back and forth as Eve set up what they needed. Villanelle presses her foot down on the pedal and giggles at the gun buzzing in her hand. 

“Okay, so you remember what I said?” Eve says after taking another gulp and wincing. “Slow and steady, don’t press too hard on my skin or the pedal, and follow your pen lines as best you can.”

“Mmm no,” Villanelle slurs, shaking her head while focusing on the needles fixed to the gun. “I will be free styling.”

Eve just stares at Villanelle for a second, face blank, before taking another shot from the bottle. 

“Fuck it, let’s go.”

Villanelle giggles again darkly, and then wipes the outside of Eve’s right ankle with one of the wipes handed to her. She positions herself with the needle just over Eve’s skin. 

“Are you ready?”

“Yep, do it.”

“Okay.” 

Villanelle presses her foot down and touches the needle to Eve’s skin. 

The hiss from Eve’s mouth startles her a little, but she does her best not to jump. 

“Does it hurt?”

“It’s a bunch of sharp needles stabbing in and out of my skin, sweetheart.”

Villanelle tried to focus on her hand around the gun and not on the flutter in her chest at the casual nickname, bitten through Eve’s clenched teeth. 

“Okay, I will now begin my masterpiece.”

Villanelle tries to work carefully, she really does. And to be honest, once she’s finished, she thinks it looks pretty good. 

“Vil, what is that supposed to be, exactly?” 

Villanelle pauses and looks up at Eve with wide eyes, who is staring at her own leg in curious concern, the bottle clenched tightly in her fist. 

“It is an apple, obviously.”

“Obviously.” Eve mumbles thoughtfully. “Okay. Let me get down now.”

Villanelle scoffs and uses her free hand to push on Eve’s shoulder. 

“We are not finished yet.” She says with a smile. “I have two more to do.”

“Two more?” Eve says with a strange laugh. “Vil, I don’t-”

“Do not interrupt an artist while they are working!” Villanelle says loudly as she presses her foot down again, bringing the gun back to life. “Sit still.”

“Memories of your stick drawings are coming back to me.” Eve says, but there’s a chuckle in her voice that makes Villanelle smile as she tries to carefully draw a straight line. 

Villanelle isn’t surprised that Eve only lets out a few hisses and grunts, and she’s grinning proudly when she finally places the gun down. 

“They are finished!” She says with an excited clap. “I am pretty good at this, maybe I should be a tattoo artist too.”

Eve is quiet as she stares at her ankle, and then she lifts her head to look at Villanelle in exasperation. 

“Please explain.”

“This is an apple, like the one that was used to tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden.” Villanelle says, carefully tracing a finger around the shape before moving on. “This is a rose, because… well, because I like roses.”

Eve scoffs out a laugh at that, and Villanelle smiles up at her briefly before continuing to the final tattoo. 

“And this is a snake.” Villanelle says quietly, fingertip running down the length of its body. “The one who encouraged Eve to be bad. The beast that tempted her.” 

Villanelle is staring back up at her Eve as she finishes her explanation, Eve’s own dark gaze staring back. Their eyes locked, Villanelle continues to run her fingertips across the raised skin of the ankle under her touch, mind spinning a little from drink and from Eve, waiting for the woman to say something, anything. 

“Villanelle.” Eve says, voice low and quiet and echoing deep in Villanelle. 

“Mm?” She hums back as her gaze drops to Eve’s lips, that echo thrumming deeper and lower as she sees Eve’s tongue quickly swipe over her bottom lip. 

Villanelle’s other fingers dig into the plush cushion of the bed Eve is sat on, ready to push herself up and into Eve, to take that pouty bottom lip between her teeth and tug on it, all Eve needs to do is say the word and she’ll be there, she’ll-

“Um…” Eve starts, and Villanelle looks away from her lips at the hesitation in her tone. “Getting drunk was- I mean I don’t think-” Eve sighs and shakes her head with a slightly embarrassed smile, and then points towards the workstation. “Pass me that bottle?”

Villanelle swallows down the heat that had started to climb its way up. She can feel how flushed her cheeks have gotten, how her fingers tremble ever so slightly on Eve’s leg, so she clears her throat and blinks away the flames. 

Villanelle grabs and hands the bottle over and Eve sprays a bit onto her ankle, wincing. 

“I hate this part.” Eve says, grimacing a little. “Can you firmly wipe the spray off for me please? I don’t care what anyone says, it hurts like a bitch, and I can’t do it to myself.”

“Okay.” Villanelle says quietly, grabbing clean tissues. She holds them over the skin and looks at Eve again, gaze holding Eve’s once more. “Ready?”

Eve just nods, and then suddenly her hand reaches out to wrap around the delicate bones of Villanelle’s wrist. 

“Ready.” 

Villanelle doesn’t move her stare from Eve’s own as she drags the tissues over the now bloody skin. Her heart clenches as Eve whimpers in pain, eyes shut tightly. 

“Shh, it’s okay.” Villanelle murmurs softly, and she gently removes Eve’s hand from around her wrist to hold in her free one. Eve squeezes it, and Villanelle feels it mirrored around her heart, warm and tight. “It’s okay, solntse.”

Eve blows out a harsh breath and squints opens her eyes as Villanelle finishes wiping the tattoos, then stares at her curiously. 

“What does that mean?” She says, and Villanelle is confused until she realises she must have spoken aloud. She takes a moment to think, finding herself lost in deep brown eyes once again. 

“I will tell you another time.” Villanelle settles on before smiling in a way intended to distract. “So, how do we stop you dying from infection?”

——

Villanelle wakes up the next morning face down in between her pillows. She groans into the sheet squished against her nose, and slowly pushes herself up to roll onto her back. 

Events from the night before swarm her and she groans again. She’ll never understand Eve’s ability to reduce her to this soft… thing, eager for anything, anything at all. Villanelle has never met anyone who can do to her what Eve can do with just a simple touch. 

She blinks her eyes open and immediately feels a thump in her head. 

The shared tequila in the studio was a bad choice. 

She rubs at her face before carefully reaching for her phone, peering in confusion at the 7 text notifications from Eve, all received before 8am. 

Eve: Holy fucking shit my head

Eve: Holy fucking shit my ANKLE

Eve: Villanelle what the fuck are these supposed to be again?? They look like they were drawn on by a child!

Eve: You know what? This isn’t your fault. I let you do it, I went along with it, this isn’t your fault. 

Eve: Oh for fuck’s sake, why does one look like an ass??

Eve: You know what, this IS your fault. Bring me a croissant from the bakery and I might forgive you. 

Eve: Jesus Christ Villanelle I look like a preschooler's art project, make it two croissants and a coffee, fuck

Villanelle smiles wide at the messages, and only grimaces a little as she clambers out of bed to get dressed for the bakery run. 

Maybe being soft is not so bad.

Chapter Text

Once Eve’s tattoos have healed, and once Elena and Hugo and even Kenny have finished taking the piss out of her new permanent ankle additions, Eve goes swimming. 

Swimming has always been a sort of escape for Eve. She swam on the school team as a kid and then throughout uni as a way to relax, and now as an adult she goes whenever she can find the time, or whenever something particularly frustrating is happening in her life. 

The latter is her reason for the trip to the pool today. 

And it’s not like it’s a bad frustration, it’s just a… frustration. Of sorts. 

Back when Eve and Villanelle first met, Eve’s rules for herself were a little more relaxed. The month that they’d gotten to know each other was so full of flirtatious comments and touches and downright bold innuendos (always from Villanelle), that Eve really hadn’t had a choice back then but to relieve a little of her frustration. The tension would’ve killed her otherwise, or something. 

But it’s different now. Back then, they were strangers that wanted each other. Like, really wanted each other. But they didn’t know each other. 

Yes, Eve knew the exact slopes of Villanelle’s cheekbones, and the placement of each freckle and mole that ran along her cheeks and temples. And she knows that Villanelle knew the precise twist of each of Eve’s curls, and the angles of her top lip, if the amount of time Villanelle spent staring at her face and playfully springing her curls was anything to go on. 

Eve knew that Villanelle liked it when Eve was confident. Villanelle knew that Eve liked it whenever Villanelle bit her own lip. They learned these things over that month simply from watching each other and teasing each other, all ‘innocent’ until the end of the month when it wasn’t so innocent anymore. 

Fast forward five years and Eve had learned more about Villanelle as a person within their first few days of friendship than she had over their entire first month of knowing each other. And now that it’s been months, the list has only grown.  

Eve knows that badly decorated cakes make Villanelle laugh almost as hard as Eve’s awful tattoo stories do. Eve knows that the news makes Villanelle annoyed, but bad or lazy service in restaurants makes her honest to god angry . She knows that animals dying in films doesn’t make Villanelle sad, but lost love in films makes her eyes well up. Eve knows that Villanelle gets very uncomfortable when her eyes well up, and so Eve knows to pretend she doesn’t see. 

So Eve still knows the exact slopes of Villanelle’s cheekbones, and the placement of each freckle and mole that run along her cheeks and temples. But now, she knows Villanelle

Eve kicks off the side of the pool hard as she starts her 18th lap, slicing through the water with a learned agile grace, reaching the other end in no time and kicking off again to repeat the motions. 

Eve knows Villanelle, and that makes it different , this time. She can’t just store up the teasing and flirtatious comments until she’s alone in her bed, one hand down her pants and the other on her chest, pretending it’s Villanelle from next door swirling her fingers around her clit, pretending it’s Villanelle from next door pinching her nipple tightly. She can’t do that this time around, because there are other things involved now. 

Eve is sure some people would laugh at her if they knew this, Villanelle included. The blonde was clearly an advocate for all things sexual and would see no issue with Eve touching herself to the thoughts of her. In fact, Eve is pretty fucking certain that Villanelle would love that, would want a play by play of the events sent to her phone along with photos to help her picture Eve exactly , fingers disappearing and head thrown back. 

Eve swims faster. She pushes herself harder and pumps her muscles to their limits, trying to swim away from the desire that is chasing her as she goes. 

She just… she knows Villanelle wouldn’t mind. She doesn’t need Villanelle to spell it out for her. 

Villanelle likes sex. She’s made that very clear whenever they chat about that kind of thing, about past relationships and their lifestyles and what not, like friends do. And, Eve is pretty sure that Villanelle likes her. 

Eve isn’t blind to attraction. She’s felt it from others, aimed at her, numerous times over the years. She knows what it feels like. And even if the evidence from five years ago wasn’t still fresh in her mind, the way Villanelle acts now makes it obvious that she is clearly attracted to her. 

You don’t stare at someone’s lips like they're made of honey without giving that vibe away. 

The touches and the looks and the teasing, it’s not just friendly banter. Villanelle is attracted to Eve and isn’t all that fussed about hiding it, but this time around it’s mixed in with notes of friendship. And… care. 

It’s like before but different. 

Different, different, different. 

God, Eve is fucking sick of that word. 

She kicks off the side again and feels the muscles in her thighs yell at her in discomfort, body begging with her to stop, so she finally does when she reaches the far end. Arms folded on the edge and forehead pressed against the back of her hand, she takes deep breaths before pulling herself out of the water. 

Her legs feel like jelly as she makes her way to the changing room, but at least her frustration levels have dropped. 

A flash of a tall blonde walking past in a bikini launches Eve’s mind straight to thoughts of Villanelle and how she’d look in a bikini, skin wet from the pool and droplets of water clinging to her curled lashes, cheeks flushed from the exertion of exercise, hair slicked back showing off her neck-

Eve can practically hear her muscles start to cry as she groans and turns, heading right back into the pool to swim some more laps. 

——

“You’re doing great, just a little more.”

The man lying face down on Eve’s tattoo bed grunts in reply and clenches his fingers tighter around the edge of the bed. Eve has been working on him for over seven hours now, a huge Korean pagoda in the centre of his back with prowling Siberian tigers below it and Korean magpies above, all surrounded by hibiscus flowers in contrasting pinks compared to the thick black line work of the rest of the tattoo. 

“What’s left?”

“Couple more magpies and you’re done, big guy.” Eve says, concentrating on creating the lines of a wing on his shoulder blade. “Twenty minutes, tops.”

He grunts again but follows it with a relieved sigh at her prediction, and she smiles. These long sessions always remind her of what she loves about her job, the hours of dedicated focus followed by the genuine excitement from customers leaving her feeling completely satisfied. 

She hears the door open but doesn’t look up, wanting to get this guy’s back done as soon as possible what with him clearly starting to struggle. 

“Woah, that’s huge!”

Eve pauses and looks up with a grin at the curling Russian tones. 

“Hey Vil,” she says, looking back down. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” she hears Villanelle reply, and then the shadow of the woman falls over the man slightly. “Bored. This is so cool!”

“Thanks.” Eve and the man say at the same time, and Eve chuckles at him. “He’s sat like a rock.”

The man whines but lifts his hand in a thumbs up, face still pressed in the hole in the bed. 

“What is it?”

“Symbols of South Korea.” Eve says, focusing on a new bird. “Pagoda, Siberian tigers, Korean magpies, hibiscus. It’s illegal to get a tattoo in South Korea unless it’s by a trained doctor, but not illegal to actually have tattoos. So my new buddy Ji here is getting this done in London to show his folks back home next time he visits.”

Ji grunts again and Eve gives his arm a gentle pat of support. 

“I’ll be done soonish, V, if you wanted to hang out after?”

Villanelle smiles happily when Eve quickly glances up at her, and nods. 

“Okay!” She chirps, before dragging the chair from Hugo’s corner over to sit beside Eve, who shakes her head at her new audience member. 

“Hello Ji, I am Villanelle.” She says, leaning all the way down so she can look up at his face from under the table. “There is so much blood on your back, you would not believe .” 

Eve smacks Villanelle’s shoulder with her free hand as Ji squeaks in fear.

“Oh my- Villanelle, stop it. Ji, you’re fine, it’s the usual amount of blood, you’re okay.” She rounds on the other woman and glares at her, trying to control her growing smile. “If you’re going to be annoying then you can go sit over there until I’m done.”

Villanelle pouts at her and Eve rolls her eyes before turning back to the tattoo underway. 

“Fine.” Villanelle says, and Eve feels her start to wheel herself away on the chair, scooting across the room. “I will talk to Kenny.”

Eve chuckles quietly and starts another bird, ears pricked to follow what she’s certain will be an interesting conversation. 

“Hi Kenny.”

“Um. Hey.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

Eve smiles at the following silence. 

“Well, are you having a nice day?”

Only a quiet hum follows, which is punctuated by a bored huff from Villanelle. 

“Are you one of those sensitive and silent types?”

Still no response. 

“You are, aren’t you. You are a listener. No wonder Elena likes you.” 

What?

Eve quickly lifts the gun away from Ji’s skin as she splutters out a laugh, looking up to see Kenny’s surprised face and Villanelle’s innocent one. 

“Elena likes you. You knew that though didn't you?”

Kenny shakes his head, face still one of complete shock. 

“Oh.” Villanelle doesn’t look at all guilty, and just grimaces a tiny bit as she shrugs. “Well, now you do.”

Eve laughs again and shakes her head, attracting Villanelle’s attention away from the poor shell-shocked boy. 

“Elena is going to kill you.” Eve stresses through a grin, but Villanelle just shrugs again. 

She focuses on starting another bird, deciding this will be the last one, letting the end in sight motivate her and sharpen her concentration. She’s almost finished when she hears Kenny speak again. 

“What are you doing?”

“Texting Elena.”

“Why? What are you- why?”

“To tell her I told you. I think maybe I have broken some sort of girl code. I must apologise.”

“No, no no, please don’t, don’t tell her, just forget you said anything, don’t-”

“I have to follow the code, Kenny!”

“No you don’t, give it-”

There’s a scuffling sound from the front of the room and Eve is so close to finishing the wing of the bird, so close-

“What are- hey, ow! Eve, she bit me!” 

She finishes the last feather and then slams the gun down. 

“Oh my god, children, will you please not ?” She barks, but amusement is laced through her tone as she stares at the two of them, Villanelle with wide eyes and her hands behind her back, Kenny rubbing his forearm and edging away from Villanelle. “V, for my own sake I’m going to assume Kenny is lying and you did not just bite him.”

Kenny splutters to argue while Villanelle smirks, but Eve interrupts him with a finger pointed his way. 

“And you, you’ve been silently crushing on Elena since you got here, just ask her the fuck out before she finds someone else and save us all the heartbreak.”

Kenny purses his lips and looks down sulkily as Eve breathes out a sigh of relief and turns to Ji, who has lifted his head up to blearily stare at the scene in confusion. 

“Ji, you’re done. Just let me treat it and wrap it up and you are good to go. I am so sorry for… well. For these people.”

Once Eve has sprayed and wiped down his back, Ji pushes himself up and swings his legs round to sit, rolling his muscular shoulders and wincing a little at the stretch of tender skin. 

“Thanks Eve, can I see it?”

“Sure.” Eve hops up from her chair and stretches herself, back cracking from hunching over for so long. She points him over to a full length mirror, then grabs a long mirror from under her station to hold up behind him. 

“There. What do you think?”

“Fuck, wow.” He breathes out, turning this way and that. “Holy shit, Eve, it’s perfect. Umma’s gonna love it.”

Eve smiles proudly and reaches up to lay one hand on his shoulder. 

“Of course she is,” she says with a smile. “You got a Korean tattoo by a Korean woman. What’s not to love?”

“Well, she’d certainly love you, Eve.”

Eve glances away from his back in the mirror to his face, and sees his eyes focussed on her own, a smile in them that Eve knows all too well. 

Oh boy. 

She’s about to pull away and ask if she can take a picture for her portfolio, when she catches sight of something else in the mirror’s reflection. 

Villanelle, standing halfway across the room, scowling at the back of the man’s head. She doesn’t seem to notice Eve has seen her yet, but Eve can almost feel the daggers in Villanelle’s gaze flying past her straight into Ji. 

Eve finds she likes that look. 

She decides to push it, just a little.

“My mom would like you too.” She says with a smile and a soft squeeze to his shoulder.

She almost feels bad for the hopeful look in his eye, but then she catches Villanelle again who somehow looks angrier than before, fingers of her left hand flexing at her side. 

She’s about to say something else to Ji when she sees Kenny enter the mirror’s reflection, whispering something in Villanelle’s ear with a smirk. 

Eve does let go of his shoulder and spins around as soon as she catches Villanelle kick out with one leg, Kenny jumping out of the way at the last second with a squeak. 

“Will you stop kicking my staff please?”

Villanelle looks back at Eve with a frustrated expression, before pinning her stare on Ji who has also turned around, looking confused and baffled once again at the apparent circus Eve’s studio has become. 

Villanelle opens her mouth as if to speak, but something stops her and she clamps it shut, rolling her eyes at herself. 

“Text me when you’re done.” Villanelle directs at Eve before storming across the room, head held high, straight into Eve’s kitchen.

“But that’s my- you know what, never mind.”

——

An hour later, Eve waves goodbye to Kenny, locking the door behind him and shutting off the lights.

“Vil?” Eve says as she pushes the door to her kitchen open, “You in here?”

There’s no response so Eve assumes Villanelle has gone upstairs, totally used to the younger woman’s ability to make herself at home literally anywhere she goes. She heads over to the fridge to grab a beer, feeling the drain from the day-long session and deciding she deserves a drink, and then catches a glimpse of movement outside. 

She heads over to the french doors in her kitchen for a closer look, hoping to anyone who might be listening that it’s not another urban fox digging up her garden, but instead the sight makes her smile.

She looks out at her long and narrow garden, mostly grass but with a paved path running down the middle, already there when she moved in, and a row of shrubs running along the inside of the two fence borders. Eve never touched the shrubs, but her mother liked to tend to them when she visited twice a year, so they stayed put. 

At the end of the garden, crouched down over an empty bed of soil, is Villanelle. She’s on her knees but her face and hands are blocked from Eve’s view, doing something in the soil that Eve can’t see. She turns quietly and goes back to her fridge, grabbing another beer before opening the door and stepping out. She quietly makes her way down the path and stops just before she reaches Villanelle, watching the loose strands left out of her messy ponytail dance in the autumnal breeze. 

“Hey.”

Villanelle jumps a little then lifts her head, looking over her shoulder and smiling when she sees Eve.

“I did not hear you coming,” Villanelle says, reaching out for the beer that Eve offers her. “I was just pulling out weeds. You could plant some nice flowers here, you know?”

“Mm,” Eve hums, scrunching her face up as she drops to sit beside Villanelle on the grass. “Not really my thing though, gardening.”

“Well lucky for you, it is very much your best friend’s ‘thing’.” Villanelle says. She clinks her bottle against Eve’s and takes a long sip, sighing happily when she brings the bottle back down. “Can I plant some things for you?”

“Would you like that?”

“I would.”

“Then of course.”

Villanelle smiles again in response, then looks at the tiny shed in the back corner of the garden. “What’s in there?”

“Uhhh, lawn mower, mom’s clippers for the bushes, a hammock-”

“A hammock?”

Eve grins at Villanelle’s excited tone.

“Yeah, you want to set it up?”

Villanelle looks at Eve like she’s insane, and Eve laughs again.

“Do not ask stupid questions, Eve.” She says, brushing her dirty hands on her jeans. “We must put it up immediately, I cannot believe you did not tell me you have a hammock.”

Eve unlocks the shed and helps Villanelle drag the hammock out, then leaves the younger woman to start putting it together while she heads back inside to grab a blanket and some cushions, then heads back again for a bag of popcorn and two more beers.

“I brought snacks.” Eve announces, dropping the bottles and popcorn onto one of the cushions before joining Villanelle in knotting the fabric between the two posts already set up. 

“Perfect,” Villanelle says, brow furrowed as she works on the knot. “It is against the rules to not have snacks in a hammock.”

“And what rules are they?”

“The rules , Eve, god.”

Eve laughs as they finish the knots, then scoops the blanket and cushions and throws them onto the thick fabric. 

“Hop in.” Eve says, holding the fabric in place. Villanelle jumps up and rolls into the hammock, immediately burrowing herself under the blanket and setting the cushions up behind her so she can sit up a little. Eve passes her their open beers and the bag of popcorn, placing the two unopened bottles by her feet. “Okay, scooch.”

It’s hard to make room in a hammock, Eve knows from experience, so when she jumps up and into the hammock, her rolling onto Villanelle is inevitable. Villanelle lets out an indignant ‘oof’, which Eve laughs at before rearranging herself to lie beside Villanelle, their sides pressed together.

“Stop hogging the blanket.”

Villanelle grabs a corner and hands it to Eve who pulls and wraps half of the fuzzy throw around herself, cosying down before taking her beer from Villanelle.

“To hammocks.” Eve says, clinking their bottles together again.

Villanelle laughs.

“To hammocks.”

——

Florence and the Machine filters quietly through the speakers of Villanelle’s phone as they sway gently under the stars.

The whole thing is straight out of a movie, something romantic and cliche and honestly so typical that Eve is surprised it isn’t scripted somehow.

But they sway and they drink their beers and they eat popcorn, all while staring up at the stars scattered across the sky like spilt salt.

Villanelle points up at the stars and Eve tries to follow what she’s being shown.

“Do you see that W? The five stars that make up a sort of… zig zag shape?”

Eve squints as she tries to find the stars, gasping a little when she spots it.

“Yeah, I see it,” Eve says, eyes fixed on the constellation. “What is it?”

“Cassiopeia.” Villanelle says quietly. “In Greek mythology she was a vein queen who thought herself beautiful. And she was, apparently. They say Cassiopeia boasted that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs.”

“Ooh, bad move Cassiopeia.”

“Yes.” Villanelle laughs. “People got very offended at that, and so she was banished to the stars for people to gawk at forever. Usually people are put in the stars for honour, but not Cassiopeia.”

“Hmm.” Eve hummed, sipping from her beer and turning her head to watch Villanelle. The sky reflects in her bright eyes, and Eve gets lost for a moment.

“I do not think I would mind being in the stars forever.”

Eve almost spat her beer out, saving herself just in time as she chokes her way through a laugh.

“Of course you don’t.”

Villanelle turns to look at Eve and grins, eyes innocent.

“What? What is wrong with having people look at you forever?”

And maybe it’s the stars, maybe it's the gentle rocking of the hammock, or maybe it’s the large hazel eyes only inches away from her own, bright and sparkling with mirth like the stars above them, but Eve says what first comes to her mind.

“Nothing, Vil. I’m sure anyone would be happy looking at you forever.”

Villanelle stares at her, eyes darting between each of Eve’s own before quickly glancing down at her lips.

“You really know how to charm a girl, Eve.”

She feels her heart skip into a faster beat, the warmth of the other woman suddenly burning her own skin through their clothes so deliciously she wants to live in this heat forever.

Eve bites her lip softly and feels her heartbeat echo lower, lower at the sight of Villanelle’s eyes darkening as they study the movement. 

“No,” Eve murmurs, unable to stop her own gaze from dropping to Villanelle’s lips for a moment. “I just know you .”

Villanelle closes her eyes and Eve feels a soft puff of air against her lips as Villanelle breathes out slowly. When hazel eyes blink open again, Eve is struck by a hint of nervousness in them. 

“Did you like that man?”

Eve frowns a little, and reaches out without thinking to tuck a strand of dark blonde hair behind Villanelle’s ear, fingertips lingering on her cheekbone. 

“What man?”

“That man from earlier, getting the tattoo.” Villanelle says, just above a whisper. “He liked you. Did you like him?”

Eve trails her fingertips lightly down Villanelle’s cheek to her jaw. 

“No.” Eve replies quietly, eyes locked with Villanelle’s. “I didn’t.”

“Good.”

It’s breathed out like a gentle sigh, and the nervousness vanishes. Eve turns her hand softly, almost cupping Villanelle’s jaw, the ends of her fingers starting to disappear into the roots of honey blonde hair. 

“Why is that good?”

Villanelle says nothing, and Eve watches as her eyes slip closed at the feeling of Eve’s fingers sinking further into her hair. 

“Villanelle.” She murmurs, imploring the other woman to look at her again. “Tell me.”

And her eyes open, lashes fluttering as Eve cups her jaw fully. Villanelle tilts her head, nudging warmly into the palm of Eve’s hand while moving closer, closing the few inches between them slowly, slowly, her nose brushing the side of Eve’s so delicately.

For a second, they share the same air, and Villanelle doesn’t need to tell Eve anything anymore. 

Their lips touch.

And the heat engulfs them both.

——

Eve feels Villanelle sigh gently against her lips and mirrors it. They’re still, just a press of soft lips, plush and light, everything around them pausing to watch, the stars staring down at them and making up their own stories. 

Then Eve draws back, leaving only the tiniest space between them, giving them both a moment to breath, to fill their lungs. 

And then Villanelle presses her lips to Eve’s again. And again. And again. 

Eve presses back and tilts her head, breathing in Villanelle’s sigh as her hand cupping the other woman’s jaw slides further along, nails almost starting to scrape against the base of Villanelle’s skull, but not quite. 

They draw back once more but it’s quicker this time, just a readjustment, and then they’re meeting in the middle and kissing firmer, pressing harder, Villanelle taking Eve’s bottom lip between her own. 

Eve hadn’t noticed the pull in her neck until Villanelle starts awkwardly rolling onto her side, refusing to stop kissing Eve for even a second, and she feels the blonde’s desperation thump fast in her own chest. 

Eve rolls too, struggling in the hammock and unable to hold back a smile, chuckling quietly when she feels Villanelle smirk, but her soft laughter is cut off by her own gasp as she feels teeth gently bite her lower lip and tug. 

Villanelle releases her lip and they pause, everything quiet and waiting. 

And then Eve is crashing back into her. 

The silence is broken by a muffled moan from Villanelle as their tongues press together, Eve savouring the leftover taste of sweet popcorn mixed with something purely Villanelle, something she’ll never be able to describe and will never try to, already unwilling to share the secret of Villanelle’s mouth with the world. 

Eve drags another moan from Villanelle by shifting her fingers fully into her hair and tugging on it, drinking in the vibrations and swallowing the sound whole.

Villanelle is controlling with her kisses, sliding her tongue against Eve’s again and again, not stopping until Eve is whimpering, for what she’s not sure. A chance to breathe, maybe, or a chance to feel that tongue elsewhere, marking a wet path along her neck or stroking firmly between her legs. 

Eve groans at the images flashing their way through her mind, and rolls herself halfway on top of Villanelle. The hammock swings dangerously and the metal poles creak, but neither of the women let up. Villanelle licks deep into Eve’s mouth, and it’s so dirty, so raw, that she can’t help the soft buck of her hips into the woman below her. 

The high pitched moan that comes from Villanelle at the pressure is enough to make Eve pull back from the kiss and press her forehead to Villanelle’s. They both take ragged breaths, lips barely millimetres apart, sharing the damp, charged air between them. 

“So much better than I remember.” Eve mumbles, her nose nudging the side of Villanelle’s, softly, teasing a smile from the blonde. 

“And so much better than I have been imagining.” Villanelle whispers back into Eve’s mouth. 

Eve pauses and moves back a little more, staring down into Villanelle’s deliciously blown eyes, shining even in the darkness. 

“You’ve been thinking about this?”

“Oh, baby.” Villanelle murmurs through a growing smirk, eyes fixed on Eve’s kiss-swollen lips once more. “You have no idea.”

And Eve feels those words like a fireball. They set her alight and sink, scorching their way down through Eve’s body to below where they stop and flicker like burning embers. 

Eve barely draws breath before she rolls onto Villanelle fully, a thigh sliding between her own legs and pressing up immediately, desperate hands twisting into her thick curls and pulling her closer, and-

The poles creak again, louder, and then there’s a snap. 

The women are unceremoniously spun and spat out of the collapsing hammock, Eve landing on her back in the soil bed and Villanelle landing face down not far off. 

“Oh my god, are you okay?” Eve says worriedly, reaching a hand out towards Villanelle, but a second later Eve is met with Villanelle’s unimpressed face, dirt smeared across her nose and chin and grass blades stuck to her forehead. She coughs once before grimacing. 

“This is not the kind of dirty I wanted to get.”

And Eve laughs at that, because what else can she do?

Villanelle looks momentarily affronted before her own frown collapses, replaced almost immediately by a grin of her own, and soon they’re both laughing, lying side by side on the damp ground and staring up at the stars once again. 

The night really was turning out to be that romantic and sickeningly cliche movie Eve had first compared it to. 

But fuck, it’s the most perfect damn romcom Eve has ever seen.