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a ripening of sorts

Chapter Text

The dreams come in fitful spasms. Wedged between a sea of drugs and disrupted sleep, Eve loses all ability to tell apart dreams from reality.

There are bright lights, the strong smell of bleached sheets, and distorted rattles from a distant radio. There is the scent of spicy gochujang stew, notes of badly sung Korean ballads, and yellow afternoon light filling an empty house in Connecticut. There is the bristle of facial hair against her cheek, a lingering spritz of expensive perfume, and the taste of cheap wine. There is sticky ricecake on her fingers, drunken laughter in a pub, and the incessant hum of an old refrigerator.

Occasionally she is able to muster enough energy to open her eyes, and in those moments, she observes the painted criss-crossed patterns on the ceiling. They are the result of a job poorly done, and when she runs shaky hands over her wounded side, she thinks she can feel the remnants of another job poorly done.

There is no way to tell how much time passes. When she’s awake, however brief, she watches the light move across the walls and strains to hear the sounds of people. If she is in a hospital, she imagines it’s a single occupancy room in a very empty ward. If she is in a house, there does not seem to be anyone here other than herself and whoever brought her here.

Most of the time, she is not conscious enough to be awake when she’s being tended to. She feels feverish, sluggish, and confused. Her body does not move the way it should, and her brain feels stupid and bloated. It is the constant flow of drugs, she eventually realizes, that keep her suspended in this stupor.

In scattered minutes of lucidity, she can feel the warmth of a hand on her shoulder guiding her to a cool cup of water. She can recognize the damp sponge against her thighs and under her arms, and the sound of someone shuffling the sheets and pillows. They never speak, and as indisposed as she feels, she cannot help but sense that it’s intentional on their part to keep from being recognized.

Eve moves in and out of consciousness, until one day, she feels wide awake.

She can feel the crust around her eyes and the sandpaper texture of her tongue. An experimental flex of her fingers reveals that her body is finally responding like it should. Grunting, she tries to hoist herself higher up on the bed, and the abrupt shot of pain that scatters across her ribcage is enough to make her shout.

“You shouldn’t move too fast. If you tear that stitch, it’s going to be a real pain in the ass to find someone to treat it.”

She blinks through the pain and sees Villanelle by the door.

It is dumb shock that hits her first, and then an almost animal rage that compels Eve to lunge forward. Of course, the attempt to strangle the other woman is swiftly extinguished by the fact that she’s been bedridden for days, and the sheets offer little to no cushioning when she promptly crashes to the floor.

“Eve, what did I just say? You are shit at following directions, you know?”

Suddenly, Villanelle is crouched over her, curtained by warm yellow hair. There is amusement in those eyes, but even through the haze of rage, Eve can see muddled concern sitting beneath it like a still pond.

“What the hell,” she wheezes, fists curling around the soft sheets beneath her. Her body might feel dumb but her mind is moving a mile a minute. It doesn’t take long for sounds and images of the distant past to seep back in: the crumbled ruins, the scattering of birds, the crack of the gunshot…and fuck, the weathered handle of an axe in her hands and the spray of Raymond’s warm blood. Villanelle watches her steadily. There is a slight furrowing of her brows before her whole body stills, as if waiting for the swirl of emotions to finish moving over Eve’s face.

“You remember what happened, don’t you?”

Eve can see her fingers twitch, as if wanting to brush away the hair by her ears, but they stay resolutely by her side. Eve licks her lips, a thick knot of anger and confusion coiling around itself in her stomach. Her head snaps up, eyes steely.

“You fucking shot me.”

Villanelle sighs, leaning back into the balls of her feet for a lower squat and a half-shrug. “Yeah, well, now we can match. It is cute. It can be our new thing.” Eve snorts, inelegant and pissed, and despite all the hours and days they’ve spent together, she thinks that she will never get over her flippancy, her ability to act like nothing ever mattered.

“Besides, I did you a favor—“ Eve cuts her off, swiftly, “—like hell you did!”

“If you went back, they would have found you. You would be dead, Eve. They would have been waiting for you, and they would have gotten rid of you.”

She smirks, a quick lift of her lips. “Just like they came for me in Paris. That is what they do. They come, they collect, and then they leave.” Her mouth twitches, perhaps bitterly, before she goes on to say, “No matter how good you are at your job.”

Eve seethes, frustration swelling higher. Villanelle continues to stare, smile smaller but back in place.

“But I wouldn’t leave you. I meant it when I said I’d take care of you.”

And that does it. With whatever bit of remaining strength she has, Eve growls and shoves her. It’s not much given her state, but Villanelle’s surprised yelp as she tips over backwards is well worth the effort. She lands on her rear and glares, surprised for a moment before playing it up with an outraged gasp.

“Manners, Eve! That is no way to treat the person who has been taking care of your injury.”

“Yeah, the injury that you gave me. I can’t believe you. I’m leaving, I have to go back—“

“—there is nowhere to go back to. If you leave this house now, you are dead. It is really that simple.”

They stare at each other, Villanelle’s gaze pointed and feeling very much like a knife to her chest while Eve glares back, trying to pull more fuel from the dregs of her righteous fury. It is useless.

What was once a rapid whirlpool of anger is now a vacuum. Like a pulled bathtub plug, she can feel the energy drain away just as quickly as it had filled her.

Eve groans. It is loud, broken, agitated and so fucking tired.

Villanelle watches as Eve grinds the soft flesh of her palms into her eyes. She stares and stares, and even with her face buried, Eve can feel the weight of it burning pathways on her skin.

“You can eat now, so I’m going to make dinner. You should rest more. I will wake you when it’s ready.”

She pauses, and Eve, unable to read her without seeing her face, drops her hands from her eyes.

“…do you need help?” Villanelle gestures vaguely to her position on the floor, expression unsure. Eve snaps irately before thinking, “No. I’m fine.”

If she is wounded by the tone in her voice, she doesn’t show it.

“Okay. I will be downstairs.”

She stands tall and pockets her hands to consider Eve one more time. Dressed in a light blue button up and comfortable pants, she looks disturbingly at peace with their situation, so at home in this small room and its quaint furnishings.

Eve doesn’t attempt to lift herself back onto the bed until she hears Villanelle’s footsteps fading. It is challenging and painful to move, but still manageable, and once she settles back into the bed, she sighs, expelling a long rattle.

 


 

The kitchen is simple and contains only the necessities. In fact, the whole house is this way, with only two rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. There wasn’t time to be picky, and distance away from Rome was far more important than the aesthetic of whatever house she landed upon. Harder still was trying to travel undetected with a wounded, unconscious body.

Villanelle sighs, leaning over the stovetop to stir a large spoon into a pot of soup.

While it was disappointing that Eve was still upset with her, she had expected it this time.

She reaches into a nearby basket and pulls out a yellow squash, rinsing it in the sink before cutting it into neat cubes. Admittedly, things did not go exactly as planned in Rome, and while she was right about several of Eve’s impulses, she had miscalculated on a few key points.

She slides the cubed vegetables neatly into the pot and watches it simmer.

There were more moving parts than she anticipated, and in her haste to reach the finish line, she had acted too fast. She had a taste, and reached for the meal before it was ready to be served. But in the euphoric aftermath of Eve’s first kill, could she really be blamed for rushing? The high was contagious, the hysteria infectious. Eve’s strain of it was horror, but for her, for Villanelle, it was unadulterated glee, raw and true. And what a pleasure it was to share that moment together: a sacrament for two, a baptism of blood and gore.

She stirs the pot again, shifting through sliced meat and potatoes. In the reflection of the spoon, she sees the glint of an axe and the shine of a small black handgun.

As it turned out, she had also not made enough room for her own impulses. It was hard to think clearly when Eve was involved and so near, and it awoke in her a strange, addictive blend of apprehension and curiosity. It felt good to be carried by it, to feel it grab and possess her so absolutely.

Still, she thinks as she ladles the soup into two bowls, she would not make the same mistake twice. She reaches for a crispy baguette and cuts it into even slices, arranging them onto a plate with cheeses and fresh tomatoes with salt and cracked black pepper.

Certain things are worth the time and practice. Some meals are made better by the long hours they spend atop a hungry flame. She smiles down at the set table, placing the last knife gently onto the tablecloth.

This time, she’ll get it right.

Chapter Text

Eve refuses help coming down the stairs.

She makes her way slowly, holding the railing as she cradles her side, mindful of any discomfort when she turns or moves in certain ways. To her credit, Villanelle does not hover over her. She sits herself at the table, hand under chin, and watches Eve from afar.

The seats are arranged across each other, and the table they share is small and made of dark wood. The moment Eve sits, Villanelle begins eating. Between the spread before her and the vigor in which Villanelle attacks her food, Eve spends a long moment not knowing where to look or what to do. The sheer strangeness of this shared meal does not escape her. She watches the way Villanelle tops her bread with cheese and a slice of tomato, and eventually finds herself moving to eat as well. The first spoonful of soup awakens every cell in her body to how hungry she is.

The first half of the meal is spent in silence.

There is the occasional clank of spoon against bowl, tear of bread, and audible sip of water. There is an open window close by that lets in a cool breeze, letting her hear the nearby rustling of leaves. The air from outside smells crisp, and mingles with the warm aroma of Villanelle’s cooking. The long shadows cover the room in a dim, orange glow, and Eve cannot help but feel that she’s still dreaming.

She inhales through her nose and takes a deep breath.

Eve is tired, but not too tired to miss the glass vase at the center of the table. There are three yellow flowers inside. She has no idea what they’re called, as she has never seen the need to know flowers by name, but now, in this strange clip of time, she wonders what they might mean. She wonders if they were picked by Villanelle, and if so, why three? Why that color? Why the clear glass? Her spoon scrapes noisily against the side of the bowl.

Of course, it is just as likely that they don’t mean anything at all. It’s entirely possible that the flowers are simply remnants left behind, placed by whoever was here before them. It is legitimate to wonder if the previous occupants are even alive—especially since Eve has no idea how they landed here or what it cost to arrive.

Eve dips her bread into the soup. She watches it sop up the liquid, red tomato staining through and around the holes.

For some reason, she is annoyed to find that everything tastes delicious. There is no rational reason for it and she’s completely aware of that, but like a random skin rash or bout of flu, she feels the irritation spread and course through her.

“Is it not good?”

Her head snaps up. Villanelle’s eyes are on her, eyebrow raised with spoon loosely in hand.

“It’s…fine,” she replies. “It’s good.” The delivery is flat, but she means it. That seems to be enough for her though, and she returns to eating. Eve takes a distracted bite of her bread, now soggy from the time it’s spent in the soup. As she chews, she watches Villanelle.

Even back then, in the darkness of her kitchen, she hadn’t missed the particular way she ate. Villanelle had a tendency to hug her plate, with elbows perched close to the sides as if marking the boundaries of her territory. She took up space, unapologetically. She ate languidly then, as she does now, and moves as if she has all the time in the world. She eats as if there is nothing more important than the sheer pleasure of it, and licks her lips without thought. There seems to be nothing shy or reserved in this act of consumption, no single drop of self-consciousness. It’s almost enviable.

“Is there something on my face?”

She doesn’t look up from her food when she asks this time, and despite all risk and abruptness, Eve’s brain fires a question it’s been dying to ask instead of offering an answer.

“Where the hell are we?”

Villanelle shrugs, spinning her spoon in the soup. She scoops up a chunk of meat and chews it slowly before answering.

“What would it matter if I told you? We are not in Rome anymore, and we are far away enough.”

Eve feels her temper spike. In her periphery, she sees the rest of her cutlery.

“What kind of answer is that?”

“A good one?”

Villanelle puts her spoon down, elbows still on the table, and waits for Eve. Her eyes are open and expectant, but otherwise hard to read. Eve tenses and feels the rough grain of the table under her fingers.

“And what…do you imagine happens now?”

It is a carefully worded version of a question asked once before, spit with venom in the past, and Eve is careful this time to temper the outrage. She cannot hide the note of resentment that bleeds in though, as Eve has never known how to squash her emotions entirely, especially the darker more erratic ones.

Villanelle hums, looking up at the ceiling momentarily before returning her gaze. 

“First, you have to heal. We will move if we have to, but it would be better for you to stay in one place until then.”

She pauses, and Eve turns over her words, understanding that “moving if we have to” refers to the fact that they are likely being hunted. It is an odd way to be reminded that she (they?) committed a crime (a murder). She blinks rapidly and keeps her thoughts moving so as not to linger. Whether it is the drowsy feeling of being sated or the lingering hold of her medications, she finds she does not feel the same level of fear, repulsion, and terror that she did before about Raymond, about what she did to him. At least, not right now. It is a small blessing, and she holds onto it desperately.

“And then after that…”

She drifts off, and Eve observes the rare flicker of uncertainty cross her features.

“…we can decide what to do next. Together, if you want.”

The uncertainty is gone now, or at least heavily muted, and Eve is almost too surprised to notice the change. Her surprise must be evident though, as Villanelle shrugs and sniffs loudly before returning to her meal.

“Or I can take care of it. I don’t really care.”

To say she is thrown off by the casual suggestion of equal collaboration is an understatement. It is such a radical pivot from where they were before that she is left momentarily speechless. It is infuriating, honestly, how much time Eve spends trying to catch and understand her, only to have the shape of a trait or behavior become a trick of the light or a wrong cast of shadow. Even in her current state, she has enough mind to consider that Villanelle is still fooling her. She is bitter at the reminder that she’s been manipulated for so long by so many, and so she wills herself to take this new development with a grain of salt.  

“Right, okay, fine.”

There it is again, the terse underlying agitation in her voice. She closes her eyes and makes a snap decision to not press the issue, at least for now. She is too tired. There is not enough energy, not enough fight in her. She wants a clearer mind before pressing forward, and she thinks to herself that it is because she was so reckless before that she ended up here to begin with. It cannot happen again, she cannot be tricked, coerced, and manipulated into a corner with the wool of free will over her eyes.

They finish the meal in relative quiet, and Villanelle clears the dishes afterwards. Eve is too tired to help or even look around to see the rest of the house. She sits at the table and watches Villanelle’s back as she washes and cleans. She stares at the way she moves around the kitchen, already so familiar with the location and placement of things. She stares and she stares, soaking in every odd detail that she’s never had the freedom to notice before, at least not without caution and secrecy. All her movements are sure and precise, and again, with no hint of self-consciousness despite the certainty that she must know she’s being watched. In the growing darkness of the room, Eve observes the way her hair turns a different shade, a dark ochre, almost burnt.

Eve continues to watch as she dries her hands on a nearby towel. She opens a drawer and rummages for a bit before approaching the table again to place two multicolored pills and a clean glass of water before her.

“You have about four more days of these antibiotics.”

Eve stares at the pills, doing the mental gymnastics required to determine if this is safe or not. Villanelle sighs, the first real hint of her own disagreeable emotions.

“Really, Eve?”

And it is yet another way this dinner is a strange pantomime of their past, with pills and liquid and an open dare to drink. Yes, the same fact remains that if Villanelle wanted her dead, she would be dead. Eve reaches for the pills and swallows them unceremoniously, chasing it down with water. She can sense Villanelle’s eyes on her face, on her mouth, and she does not have it in her to stare back. Instead, she feels the demands of her own body, and the growing need for more sleep, more rest.

“I’m going back to bed.”

She hears her chair scrape against the floor when she stands, and tries her best to mask her grimace when she feels her side twinge from the sudden movement.

“That’s a good idea.”

Climbing up is strangely easier than climbing down, and as she makes her way back to the room, she feels herself being watched every step of the way. In the comfort of the cool sheets, she lets herself fall into a deep and heavy sleep.



Villanelle learns quickly for herself that the house has limited options for entertainment.

The television in the living room is an ugly square relic from the past with no more than four channels. Even after upending the house, the only DVD’s she can find are pre-recorded sports games or step-by-steps for how to improve your golf swing.

She hates golf, and has never understood why rich people found it so interesting to hit tiny balls over perfectly manicured greenery only to chase after them in shitty little carts. The only thing she finds remotely interesting about it are the funny outfits, but given how most of the people in the videos are fat old men, she is robbed of even that small enjoyment.

She sighs, sinking deeper into the ratty sofa. It is checkered, and smells faintly of dust.

She misses Paris. She misses her flat, and her bathtub, and her Italian designer sheets, and her trifold mirrors, and her favorite bottle of champagne. She lays down more fully, putting her feet up on the other end, and scrunches her nose as she fights her way through the smell. She deliberates, for the fourth time in the past thirty minutes, whether or not she should go upstairs and watch Eve sleep.

When Eve was in the earlier stages of her recovery and unconscious more often than not, she had spent considerable hours simply watching her. It was surprising for her to note how it never became boring. It never became tedious or predictable to observe the details of her face, or the way her body would move and twitch under blankets of sleep and delirium. Over time, she came to collect all sorts of information.

For example, now she knows acutely that Eve has surprisingly small hands. She has relatively short fingers, too. The curve of her upper lip looks so much like an archers bow. She grinds her teeth when she sleeps. There are small, almost imperceptible curls of grey hair at the roots of her temple, above her brow. There is a small mole under her left jaw, and from a certain angle, it reminds her of a comma.

She has never touched her, of course. The habit of watching over her began mainly as a safety measure, but she thinks now that it may have also been to soothe the part of her that wondered if Eve would try to run away again. Villanelle has never believed herself to be an idiot by any respect, so while she knows that she shouldn’t want Eve if Eve doesn’t want anything to do with her, it is still remarkably hard to fight the knee-jerk impulse of clutching her closer. She has always prided herself in finding the exceptional, and in Eve, she sees something she’s never wanted more—to own, to be part of, to touch—in her entire life.

Rolling over, Villanelle stares at the grainy images of football players running across the screen. The picture jerks to the side, revealing the edge of a television. She is only now realizing that this pre-recorded game is actually a hand-held recording of someone watching their own screen. It is an even crappier DVD of a sports game than she could have ever imagined.

No, she decides abruptly, she will not go upstairs to Eve. It would be unpleasant if Eve woke up to her in the room, and the last thing she needed was to give the other woman more reason to fight or flee. Especially after how smoothly dinner went. It was an experiment on her part to present Eve with the idea that she was more open to the concept of making decisions together. It was a logical conclusion she came to when mulling over why Eve had reacted the way she did in Rome. She was careless then, and with the many hours she’s had to herself since, she’s come to the understanding that for this to work, Eve needed to feel some semblance of control. Any hope of keeping her close was tied to breaking down the wall of mistrust between them, and in finding a way to signal that theirs was a level playing field. Even if it wasn't true yet.

A man in yellow scores a goal, and Villanelle watches the tiny smears of colored jerseys jump and vibrate on the screen.

Over the distorted jeers of the crowd, she almost misses the sound of a door opening. She sits up swiftly and lowers the volume on the television. Her ears pick up the halting sound of footsteps padding across the floor upstairs. Eve is awake.

She lowers the remote and relaxes. She shimmies back further into the sofa and closes her eyes to feign sleep. Eve takes her time, and Villanelle hears the weight of her feet upon the tired staircase. Eventually, she makes her way over to the kitchen, and through barely opened eyes, Villanelle watches her pour a glass of water. She can only see the back of her, and while it is now night and hard to make out much from the darkness of the room, there is enough illumination from the television and the open window to let her see that Eve is staring at the chef’s knife by the sink.
 
She spends minutes standing there, but they unfold like hours.

Her ears do not miss the slight scraping of the knife being picked up. Villanelle can feel the pulse of her own heartbeat in the soft flesh of her thigh when she hears Eve approach. She wonders what cue she should wait for to open her eyes. Perhaps right after Eve inhales sharply (as most amateurs do) before the first strike? What is another stab wound if not a lovely reminder that she is still regarded with heat, with fire, with primal emotion?

She continues faking her breaths, knowing just the right amount of time for each exhalation to mimic sleep.

She ends up waiting for a cue that never comes. Whole minutes pass and Villanelle can feel the heat of Eve’s body right by her, can almost smell the remnants of their meal clinging to her clothes amidst a quieter scent of soap. She wants her so much nearer, and thrills privately at how bright and colorful the desire is.

It takes every bit of self-control not to move or react when she feels the touch of Eve’s hand upon her cheek. Her palm cups her face, and it is clammy. She hears Eve release a shaky breath, and feels the tip of a knife drag against her sternum. It catches on the material of her shirt, and Villanelle is dizzy with longing.

Time stretches.

Eve’s hand finally stirs, moving over her cheek to graze over soft strands of her hair. It is so unexpectedly gentle, and her body reacts involuntarily with a shiver. The sudden movement is enough to break Eve from her reverie, and she jerks back, taking all heat and touch with her. Villanelle wants to reach for her and pull her back in, and feels the yawning, hungry need to wrap herself in that warmth.

She hears Eve swallow thickly. There is a long beat of silence, and as she tries to imagine the sequence of events that might occur if she were to open her eyes, Eve begins to move away. She ascends the staircase, presumably taking the knife with her.

Villanelle waits until she hears the click of the door closing, and opens her eyes to monochrome zebra stripes on the television. She stares into the staticky frame and releases a long breath, hands slipping under the fold of her pants.

Sleep does not come to her that night, but she finds that she does not mind it.

Chapter Text

In the early light of day, Eve wakes gasping for breath.

She lurches forward, feeling her vision swirl. There is sweat on her brow and upper lip, and the sheets have been kicked away, leaving her exposed. The room is heavily shaded but streaks of light slip through cracks in the curtains. They bend over her legs, casting bars of white on skin. Her heart hammers and she feels her lungs struggle to fill with air.  

A glance down reveals that she is not shrouded in blood. There is no carnage on her hands, no morsel of flesh in the crevices of her teeth, and no split rib-cage housing her shadowed form. There is only the blank white of the bed covers and a distant warbling of birds.

She cannot keep her hands still. The slope of her knuckles and the tight wire of muscles underneath continue to shake until she curls them, making rocks.

“Fuck,” she mutters. Her voice is ragged even to her ears, almost unidentifiable.

She sits and waits, fists taut. She waits until the images subside, and until she can no longer feel the phantom heat of gore and crackling bone. When her breath evens out, she swings her legs over the bed and stands carefully. Her side feels sore, but it doesn’t burn. She touches her face and neck, feeling the remnants of sweat. Her hair is oily, and she wonders when its last been washed. Thirsty, she turns to the table for a glass of water and freezes when she sees a knife in its place.

The memories skitter back, clumsily and out of order, but in flashes that immobilize her.

She can not begin to make sense of what possessed her last night to hover over Villanelle, knife in hand, knife over chest, inches away from repeating the first fatal action that had permanently ensnared her into this mess. There was anger yes, and the edges of something less recognizable (yet familiar, for the same creature had gripped her in Paris, between the peeling walls of that flat.) It was compelling, so undeniably powerful, and Eve hadn’t been able to resist its call (perhaps hadn’t even tried) when she found Villanelle blind and unguarded on that sofa.

Logically speaking, what good would it have done? What good did it do back then? It would not bring Raymond back, and it would certainly not bring Bill back.

It would not make her a better person, it would not make Villanelle any less fascinating, and it would not excuse any of her choices. For now she is starting to dawn on the horrifying realization that despite all the manipulation and doublespeak, she still made her choices. She had always taken her seat at the table, hadn’t she?

What causes more anxiety is the possibility that she was never being driven by any form of logic at all. What if she just wanted to do it?

Eve feels the prickling of tears.

“Fuck,” she whispers again, “dammit, what the fuck am I doing here?”

A growing hysteria curls knots around her throat.

“Fuck, fuck—why did I let this happen, why did I keep going, what’s wrong with me—"

She shuts her eyes and without thinking, finds herself applying pressure to the wound.

The flood of pain is immediate and explodes into bursts of color behind her eyelids. She hisses and hears a small voice in the back of her head. You needed a surprise. Like hiccups. She shoves it down and walks out into the hall in search of a bathroom.

She shuts the door behind her once she finds it, and climbs into the tub to turn the water on as hot as it can go. Once it’s filled, she steps in and dunks her head. She watches bubbles float towards the surface. She comes up and sits in the scalding water, rubbing absently at her arms and legs with a bar of soap. As her skin begins to pucker, her thoughts slow down enough to be picked up again.

She has killed a man. She has, for all intents and purposes, basically told Carolyn and MI6 to fuck off. She has left Niko behind, and most likely, any real hope for resuming her past life as she knew it. She is currently sharing a house with a psychopath.

Okay, those facts were immovable. Eve could sit with them and stuff the panic they brought into boxes to push away in the meantime, but what bothered and haunted her more were the questions that followed in afterwards.

What should she do now? Was she safe here? Would she ever be safe again? Could she go to police? Could she turn Villanelle in? Did she ever even want to? What did she want? What did she ever want from any of this, what had she imagined would happen?

She pulls the plug and watches the water drain. It is only when she’s toweling off that she realizes she has completely forgotten to wash her hair.

 




Behind the house is a small fenced in plot filled with flowers.

Calling it a garden feels like a stretch, but when Eve steps out through the backdoor in the kitchen for a closer look, she can see that the plants are clearly tended to and maintained with care.

She runs her fingers over the petals of the nearest one, recognizing the bright yellow hue.

“Those are daffodils. If you put them in a vase with other flowers, they wilt.”

Eve jerks her hand back and turns to see Villanelle on the steps. She must be really out of it, to have walked by and missed her completely.

“…the daffodils or?”

“No, the other flowers. They need to be kept with their kind.”

Villanelle takes in the sight of them from her seat by the stairs, a strange expression on her face. Eve takes the time to give her a proper look, and notices her hair is up in a loose bun today. A single lock has escaped to sit upon the nape of her neck, and she is dressed cleanly in a pale green blouse. She suddenly feels dowdy in the oversized men’s shirt and pants she pilfered from the cabinet in her room. Her hair is still wet from the quick rinse she gave it after the bath, and she feels the curls already begin to stick to her in the slow waking heat of the sun.

“You washed.” Her eyes return to Eve, as sharp and direct as ever, with no trace of the previous strangeness.

“What, was I not allowed?”

Villanelle raises an eyebrow. Eve recognizes her own brusqueness, but refuses to shirk away from it. At this point, she wonders what it might take for Villanelle to snap back at her. Distantly, she wonders why she keeps sticking her hand in the fire.

“That’s fine. I bought you clothes, they are in a bag by the closet. The cabinet smelled.”

It did. It reeked of mothballs.

She breaks her gaze, suddenly uncomfortable. She stares down at the daffodils instead, and watches the way they move delicately from the wind. She is sure now that these are the same flowers that are in the kitchen.

“You found the bandages then?”

Eve nods stiffly. She’s somewhat paranoid about whether or not she did a good enough job re-wrapping her wound, but she had no intention of asking Villanelle for help. Silence hangs over them. Eve looks into the distance, not sure how to feel when she realizes there are no other houses in sight. It’s just stretches upon stretches of trees and grass, with a winding dirt road that disappears into the hills.

“How was your sleep?”

There is a lilt in the question that makes the hair on her arms rise, so she answers hurriedly, maybe too hurriedly.

“It was fine. I slept fine.”

Villanelle smiles slowly and nods, seemingly unbothered. She stands and dusts herself off. Eve watches warily from her peripheral vision.

“I am going to make a trip into town, we are running low on supplies. Do you want anything?”

She purses her lips and shakes her head, latching onto the fact that she will be left alone for a while. She’s not sure what to make of it yet or how to best use the time, but she reigns herself in, not wanting to reveal any of her thoughts. Villanelle continues to watch her, and when Eve finally meets her eyes, she can hear the small voice slip back in, neat and tidy. Don’t run.

The moment drags on until it doesn’t, and Villanelle shrugs and cocks her head to the side before walking back into the house.

“Okay then, no complaints about what I bring back.”

Eve hears the jangling of keys and waits for the sound of the front door closing. She remains rooted until she hears the faraway rumble of an engine, and she stays in the garden until she can no longer hear it.

Once she’s absolutely certain she’s alone, she heads back inside. On the kitchen table is the bottle of antibiotics from last night, with a scribbled note underneath. She pulls it out and scans over familiar handwriting, ‘2 morning/2 night, take with food - x’. She turns it over but there’s nothing on the back. The fridge reveals a covered bowl of fruit and scattered vegetables and leftovers. There is bread on the counter and jar of fresh marmalade. She stares at everything, frozen by the surreal domesticity of the scene. It feels like reality is one shade off. Half of her wants to go through the motions, wants to toast a slice of bread to slather with marmalade, wants to sit still and eat fruit by the window. The other half of her cannot stop seeing the clench of Villanelle’s teeth as she dragged a ham knife over Aaron Peele’s pale throat.

Her eyes move across the kitchen, not really taking anything in until she notices a beige landline phone on the other side of the room.  

The sight of it and the sudden possibilities it brings snap her out of her trance, and she heads straight for it. She picks up the receiver and gasps when she hears the blaring tone of an open line. Her fingers hover over the number pad as she racks her brain. Who could she call? Carolyn wasn’t an option, and that meant no Kenny, Elena, Jess, or Hugo…if he was even alive. Her hand stills as she remembers the way her name stumbled from his bleeding mouth, small and afraid. Unthinkingly, her fingers begin to plug in her and Niko’s home phone number. She is one digit away from making the call until she realizes what she’s doing.

There is no way she can call home. Niko would probably not even be there to answer, and was most likely still with Gemma and her cheap rice paper lights. The only other person she can think of is her mother, but she hasn’t spoken to her in years and isn’t sure what she knows or doesn’t know yet. There was no need to drag her into this, and the last thing she needed was somebody else’s confused panic. As the euphoria of discovering the phone subsides, she realizes she could be risking MI6 or even the Twelve tracking any outgoing calls to their location. God knows, Kenny could probably find a way to do that much.

She places the phone back down and stares blankly at the wall, completely unmoored.

Back in the kitchen, Eve burns her first slice of bread. She tosses it into the trash and toasts another, smothering it generously with marmalade. She eats it alongside the fruit and a mug of strong tea. Afterwards, she dumps the dishes into the sink and swallows back her pills.

While she feels a strange blankness rolling in through her mind, the sudden energy from breakfast convinces her to walk around and explore the house. The living room and kitchen are connected and offer little information about the previous occupants. She notices that there are barely any pictures on the wall, and it isn’t until she steps into the first floor hallway that she comes across a framed photo. It is of an elderly couple, presumably Italian, and they are standing atop the same plot of land she was in just moments ago, with their arms held loosely around each other. The flowers are pink in this photo. She stares at it and wonders, weirdly, if this is what Niko had imagined for them one day.

She frowns and opens the door to the new bedroom. The smell of perfume hits her first, and swiftly confirms what she suspected. This is where Villanelle sleeps. Or at least, it is when she isn't dozing off on the sofa. Eve takes a cautious step forward, almost expecting an alarm or trip wire or some other ridiculous obstacle to present itself. Learning about Villanelle had never been a straightforward venture after all, and she had no reason to think it might be now. There is a duffel bag by the bed and a satchel on the desk. She moves to unzip the bigger bag first, and finds neatly folded clothes and underwear. She pats it down to search for hidden trinkets but finds nothing. She tries the satchel next, and almost drops it entirely when she realizes it’s filled with cash.

The gears in her mind start turning. There’s enough in here for her to break off on her own, almost certainly enough to catch a ride somewhere. She grabs a thick roll of it and estimates it to be almost three hundred euros. There must be at least fifteen rolls inside. She throws it back in and grabs the satchel. Her movements are hurried now, and she grits her teeth when she accidentally pulls against her stitches on the trek up the stairs. Back in the bathroom, she opens the mirrored cabinet and sweeps the bandages and first aid supplies into the bag. She descends again, and grabs the bottle of antibiotics in the kitchen.

She swings open the front door and stares wildly at the dirt road. The sun beats down on her, relentless. Eve takes a step forward, and discovers that the shoes she jammed her feet into are slightly too big. A bead of sweat rolls down the side of her face. She squints into the distance, and cannot see anything but green and dirt. The satchel weighs heavily down on her, leather strap biting into her shoulder. The adrenaline is waning, and while Eve has been stubborn and even dangerously reckless in the past, she has never been stupid. Or at least, never this stupid.

“Goddammit…just….give me a fucking break,” Eve mutters angrily as she kicks up a plume of dust. A pebble bounces off the top of her shoe, and she curses to herself again before retreating back into the house, slamming the door shut behind her.

 




The ride into town takes about thirty minutes by car.  

As she drives past vineyards and quaint cottages, Villanelle spends the entire time wondering if Eve will be there when she returns. She buys more food, tea, and bandages and then wastes five minutes staring at a bin of discounted DVD’s before pulling two at random. She plucks a few bottles of wine and grabs some gum before waiting impatiently for the cashier to ring her up. He smiles at her nervously, and she does not miss the way his beady eyes linger on her chest. She smiles at him when she leaves, waving once before toppling the magazine rack over on her way out.

She drives over the speed limit on her way back to the house.

It takes a bit of maneuvering to carry the entire haul in her arms while opening the front door, but she’s determined not to make two trips if she can help it.

Right away, she notices the door is unlocked. She knows for fact that she locked it behind her when she left.

She elbows it open and quietly places the grocery bags onto the floor. Villanelle reaches for the small handgun in her back pocket and clears her throat, doing everything she can to sound casual as she glides into the living room.

“Eve?”

Her eyes scan the perimeter and immediately spot Eve slumped over on the sofa, mouth agape with a small dribble of drool on her cheek.

She scoffs, and is surprised by the almost physical weight of relief she feels. She swiftly checks out the rest of the house and re-pockets the gun before closing the door and bringing in the groceries.

A glance at the dish rack reveals that Eve has not yet returned the knife from last night. She begins to hum a quiet tune to herself as she sorts things into the fridge and pantry, and makes an amused noise at the dirty dishes. Well, at the very least, it was good that Eve’s appetite was intact. She is only dimly aware of the sudden pleasant mood that has taken hold of her, and doesn’t think to question it. Of course Eve didn’t leave. Where would she go? There was nobody who could do a better job of taking care of her, nobody who could see her and truly know her, and hopefully she was coming around to that too.

They were the same kind, and needed to stay together.

Villanelle understood that, and was willing to wait for Eve to catch up. She was certain that she would eventually see for herself how other people were no good, how they couldn’t possibly keep up, and how they would eventually disappoint her. Next to Eve, everyone paled in comparison and wilted in their own unspeakably boring way.

She closes the pantry and heads to her room, intending to tuck away the leftover cash. It doesn’t take long for her to notice something is amiss. Her bags have been disturbed, and upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the neat rolls of cash in the satchel have been handled by someone. She laughs under her breath.  

“Ooh, sneaky baby.”

What else had Eve gotten up to while she was gone?

She parses through her duffel bag, almost hoping that Eve snuck away with a pair of panties or two. It’s a disappointment to find that her clothes have only been moved around. She steps back into the living room and smirks down at her, hand on hip. Eve is snoring lightly, mouth slack. Villanelle’s eyes trace over her face to follow the curve of her jaw, the dip of her neck, and further down to the awkward jut of her crossed arms. Her smirk drops instantly though when she notices a small bloom of red staining through her shirt, right by her ribs. The stain is a mix of rusty brown and bright red, which means that she is bleeding, likely from re-opening her stitches.

She drops hastily to her knees and places a hand on her arm, shaking her awake.

The reaction is instant, and Eve shrieks and lunges for the television remote by her side.

The thick sound of it bouncing off her skull would be comedic if it wasn’t so fucking painful, and Villanelle growls instinctively as she grabs Eve’s wrist.

“Will you calm down?”

“—ow, cut it out!”
 
Villanelle eases her grip, all traces of the earlier cheer dissipating.  

“You’re bleeding.”

Eve’s screwed up face of anger turns into one of confusion. She releases Eve’s wrist, but not before letting her fingers linger briefly on the warmth of her skin. She gestures down to the stain on her shirt.

“I think you tore it open, maybe a little. It doesn’t hurt?”

She observes the rapid-fire cycle of emotions that flicker over Eve’s entire body. The apparent bewilderment is expected, but it strikes her as odd that it’s mixed so obviously with a high dose of panic. Clearly the wound wasn’t causing her much pain, so why the anxiety? Curiouser and curiouser.

“I—yeah, no, it doesn’t hurt. I’m not…sure how that happened.”

Eve is obviously a shit liar. Villanelle will have to help with that eventually. For now, she’ll enjoy the ride.

“Okay,” she says plainly, making it evident that she doesn’t buy it. She leans back, giving Eve more space.

“Hopefully it has healed enough so that we don’t need to restitch that part. You will need to re-wrap it though.”

Eve responds briskly, hissing through her words when she sits up too fast.

“Fine, I can do that.”

Villanelle can deal with Eve being skittish and rude, but she’s not willing to risk her health. An infection would be a massively huge pain in the ass.

“No, stay here. I will do it.”

She leaves no room for argument, and while Eve’s lips tighten, she doesn’t protest. Thankfully, the bag she brought with more first aid supplies is still close, and it doesn’t take long for her to return with a fresh roll of bandages, a towel, a basin of water, and a tin of petroleum jelly.

“What is that?”

Eve looks skeptically at the tin in her hand, still hunched over herself on the sofa.

“It will keep your skin from drying out. Stitches tear more easily when the skin is dry.”

She had learned this the hard way early on, and was not prepared to let Eve go through that particular discomfort. Eve continues to stare at her, curled up defensively like a cornered animal. Villanelle sighs.

“…or we could just keep our fingers crossed that you don’t tear open a new hole in your side. Up to you, boss.”

She smiles cheekily and tears open the plastic packaging on the bandages. Eve glares icily at her for a few seconds before reluctantly moving her hands to tug at the hideous shirt she’s got on. Villanelle turns away politely, taking the moment to soak the towel into the basin of water. She waits until Eve pulls it up enough to reveal the smooth surface of her torso, and Villanelle corrals her emotions, not wanting to give her any reason to change her mind.

Eve unwraps the stained bandages, lifting herself slightly from the sofa to get her arms across herself. Once removed, Villanelle’s eyes drop to the wound, driven by a blend of curiosity and worry. The skin around the stitches is angry, but fortunately the tear is a not a large one. She delicately pats at it with the towel, holding her breath when Eve groans quietly at the touch. She manages to wipe away most of the blood, and is relieved to determine that the chance of infection is unlikely. She dips her fingers into the petroleum jelly and applies a layer of it over the wound. Eve lays absolutely still when she does this, while Villanelle prides herself at the precision with which she shot her, so perfectly aimed to yield a mirror image of her own stab wound.

Next is the bandage, and Eve has the sense to dip forward to allow Villanelle’s hands to reach over her back. Her attempt at wrapping the wound by herself was shoddy at best, and as Villanelle ties the knot, she grins, satisfied that she’s done a perfect job.

“Okay, all done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Eve answers with a grunt and tugs her shirt back down, leaning back into the sofa. Villanelle stands to strain the water out from the towel, reminding herself to be patient with Eve’s attitude.  

“…thank you.”

She pauses, genuinely surprised by the admission of gratitude. She recovers with a smirk and a waggle of her eyebrows.

“Wow, appreciation is a cute look on you, Eve.”

“Oh, fuck off.”

It is an unexpected moment of levity and Villanelle scoops it up hungrily. She collects the rest of the things from the floor and moves to place them where they belong. As she makes her way up to the bathroom to dump out the water and store the supplies, she calls out over her shoulder to Eve.

“Rest and I will fix lunch soon. I brought back some amazing sausages.”

Unsurprisingly, there is no response from Eve, but that does nothing to diminish the delight on her face as she climbs up the stairs. A thank you from Eve and the extension of trust to touch her? Oh yes, clearly she was doing something right. If she could keep this up, then perhaps Eve would wake up to the truth sooner. If she could keep this up, perhaps Eve could see how right they were for each other, and how happy she could be. Then they could leave this shithole and start to have some real fun.

Villanelle opens the bathroom door, smile widening, and decides that she will make spaghetti for dinner tonight.

Chapter Text

Lunch ends up being a stressful and hilarious affair.

Eve goes back and forth on whether or not Villanelle knows that she almost took off. She did her best to put things back where she found them, but the exhaustion that swooped in after her sudden excursion winded her more than she expected. Her sudden nap on the sofa was proof of that, as Eve had really only planned to catch her breath, not fuck off straight to sleep. Still, it seemed that if Villanelle did indeed know anything (or notice anything out of place) she was keeping it to herself.

It is clear to her now that if an actual escape was to be in her cards, it could only happen after she fully recovered. Despite the fact that she’s unsure of what her future might be outside of here and on her own, she cannot help but imagine that getting her shit together would be difficult (if not impossible) if she stuck around the very person who single-handedly hijacked her life and set it aflame.

Surely it would be madness to try to live with someone who tricked her into murder and shot her in the back (no matter what she claimed the reason was). Who was to say it wouldn’t happen again? Who knew what Villanelle considered a sensible reason for hurting someone? And at this point, who was to say that she wouldn't be the one to shoot (or stab, or wound, or harm) again?

She cannot trust or even recognize herself when caught in Villanelle’s orbit, and this strange new person who sits in her skin terrifies her.

Eve is aware that these thoughts alone should be enough to want (to need) to leave, but she cannot deny that there is still an irrational part of her that resists and doubts. There is a taunting voice that reminds her that she had once dreamed, however naively, of being exactly where she was now: positioned perfectly to look inside Villanelle's mind. Uninterrupted, with no MI6, no shady criminal organization, just her and Villanelle.

In debating all this, she neatly ignores the fact that past attempts at untangling herself from the vortex that was Villanelle were always failures, and at best, poorly disguised excuses for throwing herself in deeper. Sometimes, it is hard for Eve to remember what her life was like before this began. She wonders if it shouldn’t just be divided into two chapters, a before and after Villanelle.  

She sighs, tired from her racing thoughts, and cuts up her honeyed sausage.

A glance up reveals that Villanelle has likely been watching her the entire time, amused all the while. Eve doesn’t have it in her to feel self-conscious, but she does have enough mind to realize that she’s been oddly cheery since coming back.

"So...I'm guessing you had a good trip into town?"

She moves her fork around the spinach salad and attempts to pierce a cherry tomato. It evades her until gushing against the plate when she stabs it, and her thoughts stutter briefly.

"Oh, yes. There was a pervert at the register who was staring at my tits so I pushed a magazine rack over on my way out." Villanelle takes a sizable bite of her sausage and appears thoughtful. "Maybe now he will know better."

Eve fights back a small smile at the image it conjures. It is remarkable to realize the same person who can slit a throat without batting an eyelash is also the same person who can act so much like a crabby house cat. There seems to be no end to Villanelle’s eccentricities. It was no wonder she was so good at what she did, with her ease and agility in shifting between moods, personas, accents and whole countenances...

"And what did you do today, Eve?"

She tenses, and adjusts the grip on her fork while picking at a piece of arugula. It is a shoddy attempt at nonchalance.

"Nothing really, I'm still, you know..." she gives a weak shrug and finishes lamely, "...healing."

When Villanelle doesn't say anything, she feels the impulsive need to fill in the silence.

"So I slept mostly. I've been tired a lot, and I had this awful dream—"

She freezes, realizing she's said more than she intended.

"Hm, you are having nightmares?"

It's too late to backtrack, so Eve purses her lips and opts for silence instead. Villanelle chews her way through a forkful of salad before continuing.

“That is probably normal.”

And at the sudden unexpected opportunity to step into the realms of what Villanelle might constitute as normal, Eve finds she cannot help herself, cannot stop from biting at the carrot.

“…what do you mean?

“Well, it is like something Jerome would ask. He could never shut up about dreams,” she scrunches her nose as if noticing a bad odor, “He was very annoying about it.”

Eve puts down her fork, unable to stave off the curiosity.

“Jerome?”

“A boring man, a stupid therapist.” Villanelle appears bored by the conversation, but Eve scrambles to keep the the thread going, piqued by this new information. It had never dawned on her that the Twelve might care enough about their agents to require occasional therapy, and she can’t help but wonder what Villanelle’s files might have looked like. The prison records suddenly seem paltry in comparison.

“How often would you se—“

“—I don’t want to talk about this, it is boring and not useful. He was shit at his job anyways.”

Villanelle takes another bite of sausage and gestures with her fork, dangling around the unbitten half.

“I can do it better. What are these nightmares about?”

“No, I am not doing this with you.”

“Why not? I have done enough of these—I can skip to the best parts.”

Eve sighs, and busies herself with her plate.

“Okay, I will take a wild guess. They are about Raymond, aren’t they?”

Her hand stills.

“God, he was such an ugly drama queen. And fat. No wonder you are having nightmares.”

Eve’s sudden bark of laughter surprises both of them, and she wonders how it is that she keeps losing track of her own reactions. She shakes her head, trying in vain to disguise the note of amusement that sneaks into her voice.

“You are really something.”

Villanelle smiles brazenly, spinning the sausage around on her fork.

“Thank you, I know I am fantastic.” She then shifts her expression into one of faux seriousness, perhaps mimicking Jerome from memory.

“In these dreams—what is happening? How are you feeling?”

And Eve doesn’t know if it is the genuine curiosity in Villanelle’s eyes or the way her body declares its interest by leaning in closer, but for some reason, she finds herself answering.

“I don’t know, there’s always so much blood—too much blood—and I feel…afraid mostly, but also…”

“Mm?”

“…powerful.”

The word sits with them like a third person at the table, and Eve tilts her head to look fully at Villanelle.

“It’s messed up, but sometimes I can’t tell if I’m myself in my dreams or if I’m only someone who looks like me.”  

Villanelle considers this, letting silence settle over them. Eve wonders what she will say, wonders if Villanelle herself ever had dreams after she killed or if she might share with Eve what it felt like for her when she first started.

“Well, they are only dreams, Eve.”

Eve scoffs, unable to hide her disappointment.

“I’m serious. Jerome was a stupid man who put too much meaning in them. You cant control your dreams, but you can control what happens outside of them.”

The irritation floods in, pinching Eve’s nerves as she feels her walls go back up.

“Oh, can I?”

“Can’t you?”

Judging by the blasé tone, she can’t tell if Villanelle is feigning ignorance to the fact that Eve has only had the illusion of control over her life for the past few months. For all she knew, it was possible that she didn’t understand how deeply the lies and betrayal cut her, or how mad she’s been about the level of manipulation around her.

“…do you really not see why it’s frustrating to hear that?”

Villanelle shrugs, putting down her fork as well.

“Okay, fine, I know you are mad that I didn’t shoot Raymond.”

Eve leans back and crosses her arms, unable to imagine where this conversation might go next.
 
“But we really did have to take care of him. He was going to cause us a lot of problems.”

“You mean he was going to cause you a lot of problems.”

“It is not just me anymore, Eve. It’s us.”

“Because you made it like that! You pulled me into this—you made me kill him!”

What happens next is a blur, and Eve cannot stop herself, cannot even hear the sound of glass shattering when she stands with rage firing through every circuit in her brain. The back of her hand is wet and she can see the surprise evident in Villanelle’s face before it dissolves, leaving only a blank expression.

“Doesn’t it get exhausting?”

The question throws her off, and Eve watches a storm of emotions move over Villanelle. She doesn’t miss the twitch of her brow or the way her lips tighten.

“Doesn’t what get exhausting?”

It is a question fired back like a threat, yet Eve doesn’t know what she is threatening, doesn’t know what to do with this heat that spreads through her like open wildfire every time they speak.

“Pretending,” Villanelle leans back into the chair, resting her arm over the back of it, “And playing the victim all the time.”

It stings how close she is to the truth, how near the jab is to a blossoming bruise.

“Have you forgotten? It was you who started chasing me.”

Eve flinches. Villanelle stands calmly and begins to move towards her.

“You could have stopped whenever you wanted.”

Eve takes a step back, but Villanelle shows no sign of slowing.

“But you didn’t want that, did you Eve?”

She is close enough now to eclipse Eve’s entire vision, leaving space for nothing else. She watches the smile unfurl over her face like a slip of paper eaten by flame, and stares at the shine of her teeth.

“You wanted to catch me. And now here we are.”

Her whole body is rigid, and Eve feels a dangerous calm settle over her.

“Don’t do that.”

Villanelle raises an eyebrow.

“Don’t do what?”

“Don’t tell me what I wanted.”

The smile loses some of its sharpness, and Villanelle shifts her weight as she contemplates this.

“Okay,” she responds simply. She tilts her head and peers at Eve.

“Are you always like this with everyone you eat with? Or is this like—” and here, she shimmies slightly, an absurd sight after the tension of the past moment, “—a little thing between us now?”   

Eve expels a quick breath, producing a half-choked noise somewhere between a snort and a laugh at the immediate mood shift. She is starting to get dizzy from the whiplash of their conversations, she can barely keep up anymore.  

“God, you’re unbelievable,” she breathes. “Asshole.”

Villanelle sighs loudly and stares down at the ground. She examines the floor and Eve watches her, still trying to follow her train of thought.

“You are very bad at respecting peoples things. First my champagne and perfume bottles, and now these glasses.”

Eve shoves her half-heartedly, more out of annoyance than with any real malice, but it serves a dual purpose in creating some distance between them. It is incredibly distracting when Villanelle is so close, and she does not know what to do with the scattering of impulsive thoughts that ripple through her whenever she is around.

“You do not get to lecture me about respecting peoples belongings. I’ll…I’ll clean it up, move over.”

Surprisingly, Villanelle acquiesces. Eve bends down and carefully picks at the shards of glass, wiping up the spilled water with a paper towel that Villanelle offers her. Wordlessly, they clean up the remaining dishes, and Eve hovers awkwardly when Villanelle starts washing them at the sink.

It is only mid-day and Eve is not sure what to do with herself and all the time that she has. The nap took care of her prior exhaustion, and she knows there is nothing within safe walking distance for her to see or explore. She meanders into the living room and notices the neglected pile of dusty DVD’s by the television. A quick glance at their sleeves confirm that they are slim pickings. To the left of the sofa is a dark blue bookshelf, and it doesn’t take long for her to conclude that it’s mostly atlases, books on gardening, and a handful of tattered mystery novels.  

She hears the water turn off in the kitchen, and hears Villanelle before she sees her.

“We should watch something.”

Eve gives the DVD pile an unimpressed look.

“I…didn’t take you for a golfer. Or any kind of sports person, really.”

“Okay, first of all, I am very athletic. But no, I didn’t mean those.” She crosses the room and pulls out two plastic-wrapped DVD’s from a shopping bag.

“I picked these up when I was out, so we can either watch…” she squints at the front of them and cocks her head as she studies the covers. “…Frozen…or…The Devil Who Wears Prada.”

Eve snorts. “Seriously? That’s what you picked?”

“Oh, it is The Devil Wears Prada, not Who Wears Prada. Is that even grammatically correct?”

“Um, I guess? I mean I think both can work, it just depends on…” she drifts off, suddenly feeling ridiculous. “Since when do you care about grammar?”

“I decided we will watch this one first.”  She holds up the Frozen DVD like a trophy, and Eve cannot tell if the sight is ludicrously out of place or perfectly in character. Perhaps it was both.

“Wait, I didn’t say I would watch a movie with you.”

“Oh right, because you are so busy doing something else.”

Eve falters because it’s true, there really is nothing else for her to do. And while part of her still digs its heels in at the thought of sitting on a sofa to watch a movie of all things with the assassin she’s been chasing, who’s murdered her best friend, who’s shot her (shot her!), she also really hates being bored. With each passing day, Eve feels her life shifting to be more and more off-kilter. At this rate, there seemed to be no end in sight to how unreasonable she could be.

She slumps down onto the sofa, defeated.
 
Villanelle whoops (there really is no other word for it) and Eve doesn’t have to look at her to know she is grinning. She watches her back as she tears off the plastic wrap and cracks open the case to pop the disc into the player.

She joins Eve on the sofa, leaving a cushion of space between them.

They get about as far meeting Prince Hans, but when it becomes apparent in the movie that Anna is falling in love with him, Villanelle makes a frustrated noise and throws the Frozen DVD case over her shoulder.

“This movie is shhhhhhiiiiiit!

Honestly, Eve had wanted to quit the moment they started singing that infernal snowman song, and was grateful to know she wasn’t going to have to sit through another hour of this.

Villanelle bounces over to swap out the DVD’s.

“We will see if the fashionable devil is any better.”

The movie begins and as she listens to the upbeat music of the first scene, Eve wonders what she was doing when this movie came out in theaters. What was her life like at that point in time? She can hardly remember, and when she tries to picture it, all she comes up with is a disconcerting fog of work, drinks at the pub, Netflix specials she slept through with Niko, and a considerable amount of take-out.

As the story unfolds, she is surprised by how much she relates to Andy. She remembers what it was like to be that young, plucky, and stubborn. She remembers that quiet sense of feeling like she was always cut out to be part of something bigger, something essential in the grander scheme of things. Hell, she’d be lying if she didn’t admit that she still felt that way. She had simply never imagined that it would look like this.

A side glance reveals that Villanelle is finding this movie much more entertaining than the last one, and Eve is quietly relieved. It strikes her that she must have spent long hours alone in this house while Eve was unconscious, and she is curious to know what she did to pass time. Was the cash in her room the result of past trips alone into town…? Little thefts here and there?

Villanelle is positively giddy with the scale of Miranda’s demands, and laughs openly at Andy and the Runway employees who scramble to meet them.

At some point, Eve is struggling to keep her eyes open. She does her best to keep fixed on Stanley Tucci’s shiny bald head, but somewhere between her full stomach and the padded sofa underneath her, she dozes off.



Villanelle ends up finishing the movie alone.

When the credits roll, she lets her eyes roam over Eve’s curled up form on the opposite end of the sofa. Eve sleeps soundly, covered by a blanket that she had placed over her lest she got cold.

She is not surprised by how often she is sleeping. She remembers that specific type of antibiotic, and while they were efficient, they had made her sleepy in the past as well. That had been the reason why she forwent them back in Paris. While she knew she could dispatch more than her fair share of agents, she didn’t like her chances under heavy drugs.

She scoots a little closer and watches a curl of hair by Eve’s mouth move slightly with every exhalation.

While she had resolutely told herself to be patient with Eve, it is admittedly getting harder and harder. She is growing weary of her skittishness, and is tired of how afraid and on-edge she constantly is. She wants to fast-forward this part and skip over the resentful bite behind her words. She wants to be done with the accusations and mistrustful glares, wants so badly to see Eve’s open and honest face again by her bed, telling her all the ways she’s dreamed and thought about her.

It seems more likely though that it will continue with this back-and-forth, for now she lives between a moment of Eve’s warmth and the following burn of a scathing comment.

Every time she thinks she is making progress, Eve finds a way to throw it back at her face. She is not used to having to spend this much time on anything or anyone, or rather, she is not used to being so affected by such impediments and backward steps. Villanelle sighs, and leans a little closer towards Eve.

It wouldn’t be honest for her to say that she wasn’t drawn to Eve’s rage, she really and truly was fascinated by the full spectrum of her personality. In Eve’s sharp edges she sees something familiar, something enticing in the reflective surface of her anger, the steel trigger of her impulses. She had always been delighted by her exclamations and outbursts, maybe even more so because Eve clearly tried hard to suppress them. There was nothing more fulfilling than watching a woman step outside of her cage, nothing more satisfying than seeing her bask in her own uninterrupted visage.

She tentatively reaches a hand out, fingers uncurling to tuck back the hair by Eve’s mouth.

Eve does not move, so deep in her slumber, and Villanelle lets her hands linger. Eve’s hair is soft to the touch, and the skin of her cheek is warm when she brushes over it.

The desire to hold her is intense, and the desire to be wanted by her even more so.

Still, she knows. To make a move now would be to raze everything down to the ground, and she can not tolerate another failure, can not even bring herself to imagine how meaningless a life would be without Eve in it.

She withdraws her hand, and stands to turn the television off. As she puts the DVD back in its case, she realizes she will have to come up with something else for dinner. She will save their spaghetti meal for when the time is right, for when Eve is ready to let her occupy the full space she knows she takes in her life. She will save it for when Eve is ready to leave her cage, for when  they can stand hand in hand by the water as they share an image.

Chapter Text

Eve wakes to the smell of bacon.

She sits up and feels a blanket fall off her shoulders. Despite her attempts to stay awake through the movie, she must have fallen asleep. She peeks over the side of the sofa and towards the smell of food, mindful of her wound, and catches Villanelle by the stove with a spatula in hand.

She watches her stir the contents of the fry pan, and over the sound of the sizzling, she hears the faint hum of a tune. She still finds it disorienting how comfortable Villanelle is around the kitchen, as if for some reason the idea of a psychopath who knew how to cook (and possibly even enjoyed it) was too much to bear. Honestly though, at this point in her life, it would probably be one of the easier things to take into stride.

Eve heads over, bare feet padding softly before stopping by the dining room table. Villanelle finishes her humming and give her a look over the shoulder, excited grin in place.

“We are going to have breakfast for dinner. An American breakfast.”

She blinks at her apparent excitement and Villanelle turns back to the fry pan.

“Eve, can you cut the vegetables? They are on the counter.”

True to her word, there is a long cutting board with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and spinach. Still brushing away the remnants of sleep, she stands in front of it for a full minute before realizing there is nothing to cut with. As if sensing her confusion, Villanelle chimes in again, voice airy.

“Ohh yes, for some reason, the cutting knife is gone now.” She waggles her eyebrows at Eve, eyes widened for added drama and intrigue. “Don’t worry though, there might be another one in the drawer.”

Eve draws a blank before remembering the chefs knife she’s tucked away in her room. She fumbles through the contents of the nearest drawer, groping around blindly before she lands on a handle that feels the right size. It’s a bit smaller than the chef’s knife, but it’ll do. She tries not to think too much about the fact that Villanelle knows now that she’s hiding a knife, and focuses instead on chopping the vegetables before her. She swats away her sleepiness and tries to change the topic.

“…so how was the rest of the movie?”

She grabs a carrot and slices the end off distractedly, knife catching at the uneven pressure. She forces herself not to drift from the task at hand.

“It was good until the end, I did not understand why Andrea did not stay in Paris with Miranda. Who would want to leave that amazing job to be a journalist? Nobody even reads papers anymore.”

Villanelle flips the bacon over with more force than necessary before heading to the fridge. She pulls out a cartoon of eggs and cracks a few into a clear bowl, reaching for a whisk as she continues.

“But at least she didn’t go back to the ugly boyfriend.”

Eve snorts, unsurprised. She did not miss the parallel between Andy and Nate to herself and Niko, and had actually related to Andy’s frustration of being caught between her career and a pressure-cooker relationship with an upset boyfriend. Except in her case, of course, he was her husband. She wonders if Niko thinks she is dead now, and whether or not he is surprised by it. She pushes the thought down.

“Yeah, well…I didn’t catch the end but Miranda was a lot to handle. And I don’t know, maybe Andy missed having her own life.”

Eve slides the cut carrots to the side and starts on the bell peppers. Villanelle begins beating the eggs, face pinching slightly.

“Okay but they were perfect for each other. They were the same, they were both smarter than everyone else. And very good at their jobs.” She pauses, and adds with utmost finality, “And she got to have a fantastic wardrobe. Did you forget what she looked like before? Poor thing.”

Eve rolls her eyes, still chopping all the while.

“At least you’re consistent.”

Villanelle shrugs and places the bowl down, arm brushing up against her as she reaches for a separate one across the counter. She freezes, but Villanelle acts as if she doesn’t notice. The new bowl is full of batter and dark blueberries, and she heads back to the stove with it in hand. She hears Villanelle set another pan down, and wills herself to finish cutting the last of the bell peppers. She looks at the bright red tomato and hesitates.

“How do I cut these?”

The reply is fired off quick, combined with the sound of batter being ladled onto a hot pan.

“Diced. It’s okay if they are a bit chunky.”

Eve is doing fine until she’s about halfway through her third cut. Suddenly, the juice and wet meat against her fingers is not made of vegetable, but of Raymond, of Villanelle. The slippery skin against her knuckles is not the brilliant red of a tomato, but the dark and putrid sleeve of a stomach. The scattered mess that drips under her nails is not made of seeds, but of dried blood and slivers of flesh.

The knife clatters noisily onto the board and Eve feels the edges of her vision swirl, warping inwards like a fish-eye. Everything dims around her and flickers weakly until she feels the firm grip of a hand on her shoulder.

“Eve, you have to breathe.”

The voice is heavily distorted but she listens, and the shallow breath of air that she takes in burns her lungs.

“That's good, keep going.”

She feels another hand on her shoulder and lets the weight of it reel her in and anchor her to the floor. The kitchen comes back into focus and in the staccato of her rapid breaths, she feels the hummingbird spasms of her own heart.

“We can switch. You can take care of the pancakes.”

Eve looks up to see Villanelle right in front of her, and the warmth of her hands leave as quickly as they arrived.

“No,” she says thickly, “No, it’s okay. Seriously, its—it’s nothing.”

She picks up the knife again and clutches it tightly.

“I’m fine.”

Villanelle is skeptical and her expression says as much.

“That is obviously not true, but alright. We can do this later—you would probably burn the pancakes anyways.”

As if to prove her point, she spins around and flips them expertly with a flick of her wrist, revealing a perfectly golden crust.

Eve releases a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Some part of her had been anticipating a fight or argument, and instinctively she had tensed up to prepare for the verbal parrying she did so regularly with Niko. She stares at the back of Villanelle’s head for an odd moment and doesn’t know what to make of her thoughts. Instead, she reaches for the mushrooms and spinach. The rest of the cooking is done in silence, and it isn’t until they’ve got the full spread out on the table that Eve notices the absurd amount of food they’ve made. Before her sit decorated plates of omelettes, bacon, blueberry pancakes, and potato hash.

There’s no stopping her laughter of disbelief.

“I’m sorry, are we feeding a nation of hungry children that I don’t know about?”

Villanelle wipes her hands on a nearby towel, completely unbothered.

“I just want you to eat something you like.”

Eve is taken aback, having honestly believed that Villanelle simply cooked whatever she wanted because she either liked it or because she was bored. She’s not sure what to make of the possibility that she is doing this to please her.

“…oh. Thanks?”

Villanelle digs around for cutlery and napkins, playfully mocking Eve’s inflection when she responds.

“You’re welcome?”

She motions for them to sit at the table and Eve follows, still somewhat disarmed.

Like everything she’s eaten so far in this house, dinner tastes delicious and flavorful, even her sloppily chopped vegetables in the omelets. They eat without talking until midway through the meal, when Villanelle leans forward to peek at Eve’s plate.

“What?”

“You don’t like syrup?”

“It’s too sweet for me.”

She seems confused by this, and dips a piece of pancake into a pool of syrup on her plate as if in defiance.

“Okay, so you don’t like sweet things.”

“I mean…sometimes I do, but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.”

Villanelle nods.

“What else?”

“Do you really care?”

“Why would I ask if I didn’t care?”

Eve takes a bite of her omelette and considers the question. Villanelle pushes forward.

“Do you have a favorite food? Like shepherd’s pie?”

Eve scoffs and picks up a strip of bacon with her fingers.

“You know, I never really liked it that much. It was more of Niko’s thing. He liked it. Or at least, he sure as hell liked making it.”

Villanelle pauses to turn over this new piece of information in her mind, and at the lack of response, Eve glances up to see a mix of muted surprise and confusion on her face. She watches her with sudden curiosity.

“…what made you think it was my favorite?”

Villanelle stares at her wordlessly before averting her gaze and spearing a potato. She shoves it into her mouth and chews while Eve waits, and takes her time before eventually responding with a shake of her head.

“No reason.”

Eve sits expectantly, sensing that there’s more to the answer, but in classic fashion, Villanelle moves the conversation back to her.

“Why didn’t you tell him you didn’t like it if you were so tired of it?”

She sighs, cutting up a square of her pancake.

“I think he got it in his head that I liked it, and it seemed to make him happy. Honestly, at some point, it’s easier to, you know—“ and here she motions vaguely with her cutlery, making a lazy shape in the air, “—keep the peace.”

Villanelle makes a face, not quite following.

“What? Why?”

“What do you mean why? It just didn’t seem worth the trouble.”

“You shouldn’t have to lie about what you like.”

“It’s not really lying…it’s more like compromising? I mean it’s just shepherd's pie for crying out loud.”

“Okay, but are you sure that was all you were compromising?”

“I didn’t realize this was going to be an interrogation about my marriage.”

“I’m just saying, Eve.”

“Well, don’t.”

Villanelle rolls her eyes and Eve takes a long sip of water. They eat for a few more minutes without sharing words, and Eve tries to ignore how she might be feeling bad about being so dismissive. While it was absolutely fair to not want to hear Villanelle of all people try to provide relationship counseling, it was still prefaced by what seemed to be an authentic attempt at thoughtfulness. And while that in itself was certainly unsettling in its own way, it also presented the equally bizarre possibility that there were aspects of Villanelle that she didn’t even know could exist. Against all good reason, she finds herself picking up the conversation again.

“Do you have a favorite food?”

Villanelle dips her bacon into the syrup and crunches her way through an answer.

“I’ll eat anything.”

“That’s not what I asked though.”

She glances up at the ceiling, as if the answer might come to her from there.

“…it is less about what the food is, and more about where I am eating it and why.” Eve watches her lean back into the chair and wipe her fingers and mouth with a nearby napkin.

“I have had amazingly cooked food that I didn’t like plenty of times. Sometimes it is not what I want.”

She crumples up the napkin and leans forward, arms back on the table.

“So then, Eve, what is really your favorite food?”

Eve struggles for an answer, thinking back briefly to the fried chicken she scarfed down with Hugo but finding it to lack any real meaning. She digs further into her memory, and smells the gentle waft of the bulgogi jeongol that her mom used to make. When she was studying criminal psychology, she found a way to fill the craving by spending more than a few late nights at a dinky Korean restaurant near her campus, and while it wasn’t quite the same as her mom’s, it certainly hit the spot.

“…it’s been a while, but I really liked this dish my mom used to make. It’s like a—a Korean hot pot I guess? You know, with noodles, scallions, beef, tofu, all the works. Really good for hangovers.”

“What is it called?”

“Bulgogi jeongol. My Korean’s shit, I haven’t had to use it in years.”

“Bulgogi jeongol,” Villanelle repeats as she tests out the words, letting each syllable roll from her own mouth. It’s spot-on, a perfect mimic. Eve doesn’t think she will ever get over how easily she picks up and imitates languages.

Villanelle smiles, clearly satisfied, and moves to clean her plate. Eve looks down at the dishes and is surprised to realize there’s not much left. She moves to wrap the leftovers, and it isn’t until Villanelle is handing her a wet plate from over the sink that she realizes that she somehow, without thinking, helped Villanelle prep, cook, and clean dinner without anything flying off the rails.

She almost drops the plate in her hands at the thought and barely catches it in time.

“You should tell me.”

“I—what?”

She dries the plate off and stacks it on top of the others and gives Villanelle a questioning glance.

“You should tell me if I make something you don’t like.”

She hands her another plate and returns her attention to the sink, forearms covered in suds. Eve blinks and finds herself strangely amused by the request. What the hell was going on?

“…sure.”

As if to bring them back to more familiar waters, Villanelle pipes up again in a more obnoxious tone.

“Though the idea that I would make you something that wasn’t delicious sounds very fake. But yes, you should still tell me, I am a big girl.”

The implication that Niko is not a “big girl” is enough to make her laugh, and a small chuckle does escape despite her efforts.

“Right, okay. You’re a big girl. Got it.”

“I said big, not fat.”

“Hey, those are your words, not mine.”

Villanelle glowers, scowl in place, but it’s half-assed and Eve can tell that it’s mostly for show.

They finish cleaning the kitchen, and Eve remembers to take her antibiotics. As she swallows down the pills, she hears Villanelle step out into the garden. Through the kitchen window, she watches her water the daffodils.

It is a disorienting thing to have the source of her obsessive thoughts live and breathe so close to her. So many nights she’s spent over notes and crime scene photos, trying to uncover and understand the mind of the person who was standing mere feet away from her with a watering pot in hand. The sight of her living in the walls of this house feels so incongruous with what she knows to be true. The image of Villanelle looming over a dead body now sits closely to the one of her flipping pancakes by the stove. She knows now that her excitement for staging a flashy kill can be mirrored by bringing back a DVD from the discount bin.

Eve moves away from the window and towards the garden for a better look, eyes still fixed on her as she circles the plants. It’s dark now, with just enough light for her to see how yellow the flowers are. She slumps against the door frame and lets the cool air settle over her skin.

“Why are you doing this?”

“They might smell bad if they die.”

“No, I’m not talking about the flowers.”

Villanelle tips out the last dregs of water over a row of daffodils by the back. When she turns to face her, Eve is struck by how weary and small she suddenly looks, hidden in shadows and half-lit by the moon.

“Why are you waiting for me to get better? Why do you even want me to go anywhere with you?”

This time, there is no heat in her voice. She is too tired, confused, and disarmed by the back-and-forth between absurdity and normality that seems to keep repeating between them. It’s hard to see Villanelle’s face clearly from where she’s standing, but she doesn’t miss the twitch of her hands as she readjusts her grip on the pot. Suddenly, Eve really wants a cigarette.

“Seriously, you don’t know the first thing about me. We barely know anything real about each other.”

That seems to stir a response. Villanelle speaks slowly, as if feeding words to her one piece at a time.

“I am trying to know about you, Eve. You are not making it easy.”

“Easy? There’s nothing remotely easy or normal about any of this. You do know that, right? No person in their right mind would stand in my shoes and be fine with playing house and acting like they didn’t just—just—”

She gestures wildly and that familiar twang of anger bleeds through, staining the edges of her attempted calm. Eve is only mildly surprised to hear a tone of frustration enter Villanelle’s voice when she replies, and she squashes the surge of vindication she feels at finally provoking a heated response.

“Thankfully,” she measures, “you are not normal.” She sets the watering pot down and fixes her with a resolute stare. “We are not normal. And that is good, Eve. I tried to give you normal, but you did not want that. And that’s fine, I’m over it. Alaska would have probably gotten boring anyways.” She carefully steps over the plants and walks towards her.

“But not you, Eve. You would not get boring, not to me.”

Eve ignores the way her brain trips, doesn’t let herself think about how those words rattle inside her mind.

“There’s no way to know that.”

“There’s no way to know anything, but there is only one way to find out.”

She stops in front of her and Eve leans further away, back pressing up against the door frame.

“You did not want to go to Alaska, fine. That was not the only option. We can…”

She turns her head, momentarily unsure of how to finish the sentence. Eve watches the way her eyes dart around in micro-movements, sees her nostrils flare when she struggles to find the right words.

“I meant it when I said that I feel things when I’m with you. Don’t you?”

The full force of her gaze keeps Eve in place, and she is unable to string together a response. Villanelle’s eyes seem to see right through her, and she is standing close enough that Eve can see small flecks of green around her iris. Her mind is still and her mouth is dry. Suddenly, Villanelle strides past her and moves back into the house, and long moments later when she hears the sound of a bath being drawn upstairs, she is still standing in the garden without words.

Chapter Text

It is overcast and grey when Villanelle stares out the kitchen window, smoothie in hand.

It’s a quieter morning than usual and the stillness seems to hang in the air outside, with nearby trees and branches empty of birds. She leans against the counter and takes a deep sip, enjoying the mix of fresh fruit and yogurt. Last night had been…interesting. It had been frustrating in the way she was growing familiar with, peppered with Eve’s suspicions and apprehensions about her motives. Still, through the thick of it were moments of dropped defenses and flickers of openness that she took in eagerly while Eve skittered back and forth between her doubts.

As she scoops the blended fruit at the bottom of her cup with a spoon, she remembers how slowly Anna’s smile had changed, how her tense politeness collapsed into curiosity and then into hunger. She learned from a young age about how to wait in the shadows and how to coax someone out of hiding, and while her time with the Twelve had her move faster than she ever dared, she knew that wouldn’t serve her here.

She sets a pot down for tea and lets a hand stray to her side, absentmindedly stroking the skin of her scar.

From her position, she can see only the last row of daffodils in the garden. She catches their vibrancy, yellow petals made brighter against the grey sky above. Given her lifestyle, she had never succeeded in owning plants. There was never any way to know how long she’d be gone for, and it was annoying to have to throw them away when they died. There was nothing nice or fun about keeping them around, especially when they only served to remind her that she could not take care of anything, could not even keep a plant alive long enough to come home to.

She hears footsteps from above and finishes the rest of her smoothie, wondering what mood Eve will be in today. She listens to the pace of her steps and notices how even they are. Her wound must be healing well. It hadn’t been easy to find someone to take care of it, and her concern about a botched job and the danger of infection made her more discerning and slow to decide. When on her own, she tended to roll the dice and didn’t mind a degree of risk, but gambling with Eve’s health and well-being felt different altogether.

She places her cup in the sink and turns in time to greet her as she enters the kitchen.

“Do you want tea?”

“God, yes.”

Eve moves towards the fruit bowl and breaks off a banana. Villanelle pulls down two mugs and fills them up, eyes darting up to read her expression. Eve is gazing off into the distance, peeling her banana before taking a distracted bite. Villanelle slides a mug towards her and gives her a proper look. The dowdy clothes from yesterday are thankfully gone, and Eve has dressed herself in the clothing she bought her. She’s wearing a button-up, bone-colored and loose. It drapes her nicely though and Villanelle is not surprised, she had hand-selected each piece with both beauty and comfort in mind.

She watches Eve eat fruit and drink tea across from her on this cloudy morning and feels a quiet yet intense emotion settle over her. Her body soaks in the scene, absorbing every outline and color, collecting every sound and smell. She realizes that while she may not want normal, she does want this: a quiet moment each day with Eve’s face still sleepy and unguarded, and her black mane, wild and untamed. The want blossoms and bubbles within her, threatening to spill outwards and onto her face, into her words.

Villanelle swallows the feeling down with a sip of tea, ignoring the way it burns her mouth.

“Did you want a real breakfast?”

“No way, I’m still full from last night.”

Eve runs a hand through her hair and blows steam off the top of her mug. She is very beautiful today, and Villanelle feels the words press up against her teeth. It is tiring and exhausting to calculate her every move like this, but Eve is like no other person she’s ever wanted in the past. Eve is like no other person, period.

“Aren’t you getting stir-crazy? There’s nothing to do here.”

Eve drags over the nearest chair and sinks into it, taking a final bite of her banana before throwing out the peel. Villanelle watches the way her eyes move towards the window, taking in the gloomy landscape. She weighs her options and resolutely ignores the dregs of paranoia about Eve running away.

“How is your wound?”

“Hm? Oh, it’s…it’s doing well, actually. It’s a lot less sore now.”

Eve herself looks surprised by this admission and narrows her eyes in sudden thought. Villanelle waits for her to continue but nothing comes, and Eve’s train of thought goes on unshared.

“Okay. Do you want to talk a walk outside?”

The words are clumsy leaving her mouth and Villanelle instantly regrets having phrased it as a question. Eve’s face scrunches up, brows furrowing.

“What, with you?”

She bristles. Moments like this make her wonder how Eve was clever enough to catch her, in any and all sense of the word.

“…I just meant—“

“—no, it’s fine, we can just sit here and go stir-crazy, like you said.”

There is no attempt to hide her indignation and Eve has the decency to look embarrassed. Was it really so impossible for her to imagine them taking a walk together? Even more annoyingly, did Eve think she wouldn’t make good company? She stews in silence until Eve stands, moving to smooth out the wrinkles on the front of her pants.

“No, let’s do it, let’s go for a walk.”

Villanelle grimaces, lips curling slightly.

“Don’t say it like that, I am not a dog.”

Eve laughs and Villanelle lets it wash over her, suddenly aware of how much she enjoys the sound.

“Right, my bad.”

Villanelle watches her stretch briefly before heading towards the door. She is caught by the smile that ghosts over Eve’s lips and the relaxed manner in which she moves across the room. It is a rare display of ease on her part, and Villanelle finds herself both intrigued and cautiously optimistic. She wants to feed and nurture this moment of familiarity and wonders how to make it last. This is the Eve she’s been starving for more of, the Eve with private smiles and low chuckles. So distracted is she in her thoughts that she almost misses how Eve has already left, and Villanelle takes a final, hasty sip of her tea before following.

The air is crisp, and before she can suggest Eve bring a cardigan or sweater, she’s already several feet away and walking surprisingly fast. Villanelle shuts the door behind her and closes the distance, keeping a small pocket of space between them as she trails slightly behind.

“Do you even know where you are going?”

She watches Eve’s hair bounce with each step, and feels the urge to run her hands through it. One day, she thinks, and hopefully soon. The dirt crunches beneath them and Eve shows no sign of slowing down.

“Maybe not, but does it even matter?”

There is a flippancy to her voice that gives Villanelle pause, so she holds her tongue and focuses instead on the triangle of skin on Eve’s neck that peeks out when she gathers her hair into a loose bun. They are traveling along a dirt path behind the house, separate from the main road. The ground is mostly flat and as they advance forward, she keeps her eye on visual markers to make finding their way back easier. Villanelle hadn’t wandered much beyond her initial search of the perimeter when they first arrived, and while she knows there is nothing but vineyards and hills for miles around them, she finds herself acutely aware that she is without a weapon.

It is silent for a long moment until Eve speaks again.

“Who taught you how to cook?”

Villanelle pushes away tall grass as they step closer towards the hills.

“I taught myself,” she says as she steps over a cluster of rocks, “It is a waste to eat out all the time. There are better things to spend money on.” Eve makes a noncommittal noise and Villanelle watches her, wondering what is going through her mind.

“And who taught you how to kill?”

Villanelle smiles, not at all minding the darker turn of Eve’s questions.

“I taught myself that too.”

Eve pauses mid-step to give her a doubtful look and Villanelle rolls her eyes.

“Okay, fine, maybe there were a few tips here and there. But I taught myself most of it.”

“Uh-huh,” Eve breathes out as she begins to slow her gait. They are approaching a more uphill part of the path, and Villanelle eyes her side warily.

“Do you really want to be re-opening that stitch?”

“Was it Konstantin who taught you?”

Villanelle sighs under her breath and moves a little closer to Eve, planning to be there in case she slips or takes a misstep. The path ahead grows more uneven and cluttered with rocks and pebbles.

“You know, Konstantin is not the only man in my life.”

“Oh?”

“Don’t be jealous, Eve. I am very popular.”

She doesn’t need to look at her face to know she is rolling her eyes at this point, and Villanelle allows herself a moment of satisfaction.

“You don’t need to tell me how popular you are, there are probably at least eight different countries with police work on your murders.”

“Yes, on my murders but not on me.”

There’s not even the tiniest attempt to disguise her pride. Eve scoffs, and from the angle of her shoulders, Villanelle can tell she is growing winded. Before she can suggest taking a break, Eve fires off another question.

“What would you do if you couldn’t kill anymore?”

Villanelle squints, somewhat confused by the idea.

“What? That wouldn’t happen.”

Eve spins around and stops, forcing Villanelle to freeze immediately to avoid walking into her. Villanelle takes in the sight of her, hungrily staring into the dark glint of her eyes before noting the faint sheen of sweat on her forehead.

“Humor me. What would you do if you couldn’t kill anymore?”

She can tell now that whatever lightness had been floating around Eve in the kitchen this morning has gone, and she is left again with a hazy cloud of suspicion and caginess. She clenches her teeth, aware that she is biding her time. She looks straight back at Eve, searching for a clue in her expression for how to answer but there is only the reflection of grim determination. It is impossible to tell what Eve is wanting to hear this time.

She is saved by a crack of thunder.

Eve flinches, bending down immediately to curl into herself. Villanelle crouches down instinctively too, and it isn’t until she’s close enough to hear Eve’s rapid breathing that she realizes that she’s having a panic attack.

“Eve, it’s okay, it is just thunder—"

She puts a hand on her shoulder and Eve jerks back, throwing herself off-balance and straight onto the dirt ground. The thunder cracks again, and it dawns on her that Eve is probably hearing a gunshot instead. A strange feeling pierces through her, shattering messily into the meat of her brain. It is a foreign sensation, ugly in the way it settles inside of her like a heavy stone.

Eve is still folded over herself on the dirt, and the sad sight of her like this is what eventually snaps Villanelle out of her thoughts. Raindrops start falling and it prompts her to put both hands on Eve’s shoulders. She ignores the way Eve tenses at her touch.

“We’ve got to move.”

There is no response or motion on her part, and the rain starts falling more heavily. Villanelle curses before she slides an arm under Eve to help hoist her up. She stirs at the physical contact, seeming to finally notice the sudden torrential downpour. Villanelle sights a nearby tree big enough to provide momentary shelter and begins to direct them towards it.

Eve starts walking on her own then and soon enough they are close enough to slump against the tree. The dirt underneath it is damp, but there is a flat boulder big enough for them to sit on to stay dry. Despite having only been out in the rain for less than three minutes, they are thoroughly soaked. Villanelle grumbles and brushes back a lock of wet hair, tucking it behind her ear. She spares a side glance at Eve and feels the ugly feeling inside stir again at the sight of her: wet, scared and shivering.

“Eve?”

The sky flickers and thunder strikes again, this time further away.

“Eve, look at me.”

She slowly reaches for her face, unsure if the contact might frighten her further. Eve doesn’t seem to be noticing anything around her though, so Villanelle gingerly holds her face with both hands and forces the other woman to stare back at her.

“Hey, you’re okay. It’s only rain and noise, it’s just crappy weather. Crappy stupid weather.”

Eve blinks slowly, and Villanelle feels the cold skin move under her palm. She thinks hard and fast about how to calm her down, and reaches blindly for an answer to her previous question.

“I—I don’t really know what I would do if I couldn’t kill anymore. I never thought about it. I never had to.”

That seems to help somehow, and Villanelle watches Eve’s eyes dart around her face before focusing on some point behind her ear.

“It would probably be boring? There would not be an easy way to replace it...and it is the thing I am best at.”

She shrugs weakly and can’t tell where the words are coming from, only that they don’t seem to be stopping. She lets one of her hands drop from Eve’s face, still cupping her cheek with the other. Her thumb starts to move over Eve’s cheekbone, brushing past the soft crinkles by her eye.

“I told you before, but I like being good at my job. Killing is my job, it is what I do, I don’t think about it. It’s fun, I get to be creative, and the money is great. It is also what brought you to me, and I am not so sure we would have found each other otherwise.”

Eve’s eyes finally snap up to her, meeting her gaze.

“I mean really, Eve, I know I am beautiful but would you have chased me all this way if I wasn’t so amazing at killing people?”

She screws her eyes shut then, and Villanelle watches a drop of water catch on her lashes.

“…god, what a mess.”

Villanelle perks up at that, glad to have her out of her stupor.

“Yes, I agree. I don’t know that your shirt won’t shrink in the dryer back at the house.”

Eve sighs and lifts a hand to place atop Villanelles wrist, grip loose.

“Do you even know who you are when you’re not killing someone?”

The question bounces around loudly and uncomfortably in her head, and Villanelle moves to pull her hand away. Eve’s grip tightens, not allowing its escape.

“I don’t understand the question.”

“Yes you do, don’t be a dick.”

The rain roars behind her, and she is really starting to dislike not having all the right answers.

“Yesterday in the garden, when you said that you were trying to know me? If that’s going to happen, if you were actually serious about that, then you have to understand that it can’t be a one-way street.”

Villanelle feels herself tensing at the sudden turn of conversation, but she can’t bring herself to look away from the darkness of Eve’s eyes, can’t stop from staring at the gentle slope of her nose.

“I get to know about you too. The real shit, none of those fake personas you use for…for work. Got that?”

Eve finally releases her hold on her wrist, and she lets it fall soundly. Villanelle tries for an easy smile and wonders how it makes its way onto her face.

“Okay, fine.”

Her tone is light and casual, but she’s uncertain if her eyes convey the same weight. She moves her head to the side and leans further back against the tree to avoid further scrutiny. If Eve notices anything, she chooses not to comment. Instead, Eve follows suit and leans back too. Their shoulders touch, wet shirts brushing against each other. They sit wordlessly in the rain for a while and stare out at the field until Eve sighs, picking at a damp tuft of grass.

“Of course this would happen on the one day I feel good enough to leave the goddamn house.”

“Mm, yes. You have shit luck.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“But not too horrible, because I am here.”

“Lucky me.”

They’re both smiling, one more wry than the other, but Villanelle sears the moment into her brain anyways. She rubs a speck of dirt off her arm and gives Eve a sideways glance, wanting to see her face while still maintaining the touch of their shoulders.

“We will head back once it calms down.”

Eve nods and exhales, letting her head fall back against the tree as she closes her eyes. She watches her try to relax, only to be interrupted by a shiver. Villanelle nudges her lightly.

“Are you cold?”

Eve cracks open an eye defensively.

“…aren’t you?”

Villanelle answers her by scooting closer.

“It will suck if you get sick. I bet you are very noisy and sniffly.”

“Wow, how thoughtful of you.”

Eve moves closer anyways, and despite their wet clothes, there is still enough heat to share between them.

They sit together under the tree as the storm carries on, and in the distance, Villanelle can just barely make out the yellow daffodils in the garden with their petals stretched to catch passing droplets. They are hungry for water and waiting for sun.

 

Chapter Text

After what feels like half an hour of waiting under the tree, the rain eventually tapers off into a gentle drizzle.

With her eyes closed, Eve’s ears pick up on the gradual shift as the downpour lightens and it’s enough to stir her away from her thoughts. She looks out from hooded eyes to glance at Villanelle and is struck by the image that greets her.

Villanelle’s dark blond hair is still damp, with wet strands sticking to the side of her face and jaw. Her skin is bright, made doubly so by the touch of rain, and her eyes almost glow in the shade of the tree. She is staring out into the hills, quiet and alert. The surface of her face is still—an undisturbed lake, silent and wordlessly beautiful. Eve doesn’t know what to do with the knowledge of something deeper and darker below, doesn’t know what to make of the starved creature she’s seen beneath the surface. She lets her eyes roam over the curve of her lips to the column of her neck, and lingers on the sharp jut of a collarbone.

Even from her limited view, Eve catches the barely perceptible movement of her arm, of a wrist turning and making lazy circles over a rib cage. It takes only a few seconds for her to piece together what’s under Villanelle’s hand and soaked shirt. She was after all, the one who bestowed the wound.

Eve hastily shuts her eyes when Villanelle turns to face her. She feels her lean in, hovering close.

“Eve, we should go down now.”

She goes through the motions of blinking and pretending to wake from her thoughts before standing. Her pants stick to her thighs and she makes a disgruntled face.

Villanelle offers out her arm and Eve stares at it dubiously, almost missing the pointed huff.

“It’s slippery. Do you really feel like rolling back to the house? Or did you want to live here under this tree instead?”

One glance down at the muddy hill is enough for Eve to warily take up the offer, and she tries not to notice or be surprised by how firm the muscles are under her palm.

They make their way down slowly and Villanelle is careful as she guides them over and around pockets of sludge, slick rock, and wet soil. The moment they pass through the garden and kitchen doorway, the drizzle reverts back into hard pounding rain and Eve moves quickly to shut the door behind them.

“Ugh, it’s good that we left when we did.”

Villanelle squeezes out the water from her hair over the sink and makes a noise of agreement. Eve reaches for her abandoned tea from the morning and it isn’t until she’s brought the mug to her lips that she realizes she’s forgotten her dose of medication. As she unscrews the cap off the antibiotics, she feels Villanelle study her.

“Tomorrow is your last day.”

“Yeah, I can’t wait to stop feeling like I need a nap every two hours.”

Villanelle’s lips twitch but her eyes betray another emotion, and Eve pauses, cradling the brightly colored pills in her hands.

“What?”

“Hm?”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

Villanelle shrugs before moving towards the fridge, pulling out a bag of baby carrots.

“It is just my face, Eve. What, you don’t like my face anymore?”

Her eyebrows arch up challengingly and she takes a noisy bite of a carrot, amusement writ over her face.

“No, you asshole, you totally had this weird look—“

Villanelle takes another bite, this time with more flourish.

“—like you were thinking something, or planning something—“

The crunching of the carrot grows louder still. Eve glares at her before knocking back the pills with a gulp of cold tea.

“Well, if you are really dying to know, I was just thinking that soon you will be better again.”

“What, was that not the plan?”

“You will be well enough to move. That means we can get out of here.”

That takes the fight out of her immediately, and she stares wordlessly as Villanelle returns her gaze. Her eyes remain fixed even as she reaches for a new carrot, and the loud crunching of it would be funny if Eve wasn’t still stuck processing this bit of news.

It was stupid how she had almost forgotten that this was always going to be temporary: the house, the garden, the shared kitchen meals. She remembers again (as she remembered briefly this morning) that her wound healing meant that she was well enough to leave. It meant that she was well enough to run away from all of this. It meant that there was no more reason to stay in this situation, no excuse for her to remain with the most dangerous person she’s ever met. Somehow, their time together and recent conversations had distracted her from this crucial point, and she is only now noticing how swept away she’s been in Villanelle’s current. Despite all her best efforts, she had given in to the pull, no matter how reluctant and resistant she was at the start.

As if to snap her out from her reverie, Villanelle slides over the bag of carrots.

“We should talk about it. It doesn’t have to be now but,” she rolls her shoulders back, tilting her head to the side as she considers her words, “We shouldn’t stay here much longer.”

Eve doesn’t miss the way her long fingers thrum over the surface of the table as she speaks, and recognizes it for the rare hint of nervousness that it is. She sighs and reaches for a carrot, not yet sure how to respond, and takes a minute to turn over the mess of her own scattered thoughts. It is still odd to catch these moments where Villanelle is not brimming with her usual confidence. Eve can almost see the muted cloud of melancholy that rolls over her, can almost run her hands over the dam that Villanelle puts up to hold back the pressure of some hidden sentiment.

She remembers Martin and what he said about psychopaths and their poverty of emotion. Eve looks up mid-bite at Villanelle, who is now busying herself at the sink, and wonders instead about the possibility of an excess of emotion and the failure of its containment. What would that look like? Would it and could it look like Villanelle?

A loud knock interrupts her thoughts.

Eve freezes, still holding onto a half-bitten carrot, and looks frantically at Villanelle when the knock happens again.

Villanelle has already turned her entire body towards the front door, brow pinched as she clenches a paring knife in her fist. Her eyes sharpen in on the door and Eve stares at her helplessly, already knowing what she’s thinking.

“Villanelle, don’t.”

Her eyes dart towards Eve before looking right past her and the tense moment is instantly shattered. They both snap into action and race towards the door. Eve just barely reaches it in time, despite having been closer to it from the start.

Villanelle immediately crowds her, pressing impossibly close, and slams a hand down by her ear. She hisses, teeth clenched.

“You have no idea who is behind that. Move and I will take care of it.”

Eve presses her entire back against the door, blocking off as much of it as she can while glaring furiously in return.

“No, screw that. You are not killing anyone. You don’t know who they are either, it might just be some lost kid.”

Villanelle groans and rolls her eyes, barely gritting out her next words.

“Why do people always bring up children like I’m supposed to care?”

Eve exhales sharply through her nose. So much for an excess of emotion.

The door shakes lightly behind her as the knocking resumes.

“Hello? Is anyone home?”

They both stand still at the sound of a clearly female voice and Eve feels Villanelle’s hot breath on her. In that instant, she knows instinctively that she cannot deal with another murder or dead body at her feet. There is just no processing space left in her brain for that right now. Ignoring all common sense, she shoves Villanelle away and pulls the door open.

“Oh, thank god. I thought I heard someone but I was just about ready to give up!”

Eve immediately registers the American accent. The woman is soaked and wearing a thin navy jacket that’s done little to keep her dry. She’s mousy and appears to be in her early thirties, with dark hair cut close to her head and clothes that seem to drown her. Her hands clutch tightly at a mustard yellow purse. She gives Eve a watery smile as she self-consciously crosses her arms over her chest.

“I’m so sorry to bother you, but could I possibly borrow your phone? My car broke down on the road and my battery is dead, and I really need to call the rental service for some help.”

Eve smiles back awkwardly and wonders if there might be a gun in the purse.

Villanelle shoulders her way in through the doorway and sizes up the woman before her. It takes all of three seconds before she breaks out into a sharp smile and convincing Italian accent.

“Sorry, but we don’t have any phones. My wife here is actually afraid of them. Bye now!”

Eve sputters as Villanelle slams the door shut.

“Are you serious?!”

“That was stupid, Eve. She could have shot your beautiful brain right out of your head. It would have been over in less than a second.”

That shuts her up, but only for a moment. She snaps back in a sudden rush of annoyance.

“Yeah? Stupider than me staying in this house with you?”

Villanelle’s eyes darken. They glare at each other with only inches between them. Eve sighs and thinks quickly, trying for a new tactic.

“Look, this could go two ways. If she’s from the Twelve or MI6, this could be a good chance to find out what they know and what they want. If not, and if she’s really some stranded traveler like she says she is, what would be the harm in helping her?”

Villanelle shakes her head, placing no effort in hiding her displeasure.

“I don’t care about what either of them know or want, it doesn’t matter to me. I am only trying to keep us safe. And you are making it very hard to do that.”

“You don’t think you can take her?”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

She scowls before shooting Eve a dirty look.

“Nice try, but that is not going to work on me.”

Eve fights back the urge to scream. Instead, she purses her lips and turns back towards the door with squared shoulders.

“Alright. If you’re not going to let her in, I’ll just go out there myself to find out who she is.”

Just as expected, Villanelle makes a frustrated noise.

“Ugh, okay—fine! She can come in, but Eve, you need to know that I will kill her if I have to. She will be very dead, very fast.”

“Okay, very dead, very fast, got it.”

Villanelle seethes but steps back when Eve reaches for the door. She pauses before opening it, hovering over the handle.

“…’your wife’ really?”

The reply is swift and chipper, with each word somehow dripping in both frustration and fondness in equal measure.

“Yes. My beautiful wife who is terrified of phones and makes stupid decisions.”

Eve rolls her eyes and opens the door, surprised to see that the woman is only a few steps away from where she was standing last.

“Hi. Sorry, we do have a phone and you’re welcome to use it. My…my wife has a bad sense of humor, that’s all. Do you want to come in?”

“Oh my god, yes, please. Thank you so much. You’re a lifesaver, seriously.”

She smiles exuberantly at them, and Eve feels the almost painful strain of her own reflexive smile as she steps back to let her in. Behind her, Villanelle crosses her arms and follows the woman’s every movement with poorly hidden contempt. The woman shrugs off her jacket and looks around her, taking in the decor of the house.

“You have a lovely home!”

“Don’t lie, it is shit ugly.”

“What she means to say is thank you. Here, I can take your coat.”

“—oh, I…yes, thank you.”

Eve glares daggers at Villanelle and elbows her as she reaches for the woman’s coat. Villanelle makes an exaggerated grimace of pain before returning to her scrutinizing, paring knife blessedly out of sight.

“I’m sorry, did you mention your name?”

“I’m Stacy! So nice to meet you. And thank you again, really, I know not everyone would be kind enough to help a random stranger off the street.”

Villanelle nods thoughtfully and turns to Eve while shoving her hands into her pockets.

“Yes, there are crazy people out there. Anyone could be a real psychopath these days, isn’t that right baby?”

“—uh-huh, anyways! The phone is this way, Stacy.”

Eve ushers her in and shoves past Villanelle, sending her a heated glare over the shoulder as she moves them towards the landline in the living room.

Stacy gestures at their still damp clothes before beginning to dig through her purse. “Looks like you two got caught in the rain too, huh?…god, I know I wrote that stupid number down here somewhere…”

“Oh, uh, yeah, we were just…”

“We were having a very romantic picnic outside. Did you know today is our anniversary?”

Stacy stops rummaging through her things and looks up at them, mouth open in surprise.

“Wow, congratulations! That’s so lovely! How many years?”

“Ten. The sex is amazing.”

“…oh…”

“Okay, you know what, I’ve got a great idea—can you-can you just go set some tea for us? How about that? I bet Stacy could use a hot cup of tea. And maybe a snack or something. Why don’t you go to the kitchen for a moment, hm? Babe?”

Eve can barely keep the hysteria out of her voice or disguise the twitching on her face but Stacy has thankfully gone back to rifling through her bag. Villanelle smiles beatifically.

“Sure thing, darling.”

She winks and saunters towards the kitchen and Eve takes a deep breath before focusing her attention back to Stacy. She steps closer to ensure the rest of their conversation goes on unheard.

“Found it!”

Stacy unearths a bright yellow paper and unfolds it, only to promptly slide it towards Eve. She then reaches for the phone, and fakes her way through an unnervingly convincing conversation without ever actually dialing anyone. Eve blinks owlishly at the page before reading the scribbled handwriting. Her blood runs cold.

'Eve—

Consider this your last chance to get on the right side of affairs.
We can take care of Rome. Come back to London.
There’s been a new lead.
Haven’t you played house for long enough?

- C’

“Yes, thank you, I can stay on hold…”

Stacy puts a hand over the mouth piece of the phone and stares pointedly at Eve. She turns to make sure her back is to the kitchen, and speaks in a hushed and measured tone with a full Cockney accent, all hint of her American one gone.

“There is a car waiting for us half a mile up the road. If you come with me, I can return you safely to headquarters. You can either convince your psychopath girlfriend that you’re walking me to my car or I can try to take her out right now. Given her track record, I’d really rather you come up with a good excuse or this could get messy.”

Eve can see Villanelle watching them from the kitchen as she assembles a plate of cheese and crackers.

She swallows thickly, heart pounding in her chest.

“I…how do I know this isn’t a trap? Carolyn already gave me a last chance back in Rome, and given what I know about her and this whole operation, who’s to say this isn’t a trick to throw me behind bars? Or worse?”

Stacy stares back stonily and offers no trace of her earlier brightness or mousy demeanor.

“Well you’re just going to have to trust us now, aren’t you?”

Eve laughs incredulously, doing her best to keep her voice down.

“Yeah, no thanks. I think I’m done placing my bets on Carolyn and whatever shady business she’s involved in. As far as I know, she’s only trying to cover her own ass, and that’s not even counting whatever underhanded shit is going on that I don’t know about yet.”

“You’d rather place your bets on her?”

A sneer stretches over Stacy’s face as she jerks her head towards Villanelle, and Eve feels her hackles rise.

“Actually, yeah, I would. So you can tell your boss that I’m done being her pawn.”

Eve pulls the phone away from Stacy’s grip and places it back on the receiver.

“And who knows? Maybe you can be her next bitch.”

This time, her smile feels real.

She raises her voice loud enough for Villanelle to hear.

“So glad you were able to get the help you needed and that someone’s on their way! I’d offer to let you stay but it’s our anniversary and we’ve got a lot of…a lot of sex to have so, you know. It was nice meeting you.”

Stacy considers her unblinkingly, face blank, before slipping back seamlessly into character with a chuckle.

“No worries at all, it sounds like the rain’s quieted down anyways so I don’t mind waiting by the car.”

She yanks the paper from Eve’s hand and heads towards the hall, reaching for her coat.

“And I have to say, it’s actually so refreshing to see a couple so free and uninhibited. It’s like you have no care in the world!”

Eve follows her to the door, stopping in her tracks when Stacy turns around to mutter a final comment.

“Next time we see you, there won’t be a conversation. You’ve chosen your side and all that comes with it.”

Eve shoves open the door to reveal the sodden, muddy road.

“Go lick the inside of a toilet bowel, Stacy.”

She takes five whole seconds to bask in the glory of her offended face before slamming the door. The sound of it is gratifying beyond words.

Eve waits until the footsteps recede and only then does she screw her eyes shut and sigh heavily.

“What happened?”

She turns to see Villanelle in the hall with a plate of cheese and crackers.

“Nothing, it’s fine.”

Eve steps forward and grabs a handful of cheese and a fistful of crackers.

“I’m going upstairs.”

She can feel Villanelle staring at her as she climbs the stairs, but she is too tired to talk about or explain anything. What she wants more than ever is a tall glass of wine and a pack of cigarettes. She stumbles into her room while chewing her snacks distractedly, and lands onto the bed with a soft plop. She peels off her pants and her shirt, and reaches for the soft shirt she’s been using to sleep in.

She eats in a daze and stares at the ceiling for a long time. Her thoughts run back and forth, escaping any sort of permanent hold. Eve can feel herself fizzling over, can feel herself being stretched across a surge of contradictions. She wants to scream, she wants to cry, she wants to laugh at the state of her life until there's no more breath left in her.

She ends up fitfully sleeping the afternoon away.

Eve eventually wakes to the creaking sound of a door, and opens her eyes to see Villanelle standing by the entrance.

“Are you okay?”

She curls further into herself in the bed and pulls the sheets close.

“I was right.”

“About what?”

“She was sent by Carolyn.”

Villanelle frowns and steps into the room.

“What did she want?”

“Does it matter? I sent her away.”

“Eve…”

She sighs and rolls onto her back, draping a hand over her eyes.

“She wanted me to go with her. To London, to Carolyn, to MI6. They wanted me back on the case, probably to chase the Twelve.”

There is a pregnant pause and the weight of her decision hits her all over again. Villanelle steps forward, voice low.

“…but you didn’t go.”

There is a tint of confusion when she speaks, a shade of uncertainty that prompts Eve to pull her hand away from her face so she can see her better.

Villanelle’s changed clothes as well, and with her hair down and dressed in a white blouse, Eve thinks she looks almost angelic, nearly innocent. The thought is absurd enough to make her smile. If anything, that only serves to confuse Villanelle further.

“Why didn’t you go?”

She pulls her arm in and folds it under her cheek as she turns to her side, meeting Villanelle’s doubtful eyes with her own.

“…I don’t really know.”

Villanelle’s face clouds over, suddenly unreadable. She hovers for a moment longer in the middle of the room before taking slow steps towards her. When Eve doesn’t make any motions to protest, she continues until gingerly sitting herself down at the end of the bed.

“Okay, that’s fine.”

She keeps her eyes on Eve, gaze careful. She squints in thought and looks away before opening her mouth to speak softly.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

Eve can’t stop the surprised laugh that escapes her at the sudden admission, and it isn’t until she looks at Villanelle that the laughter fades. There is a strange look in her eyes, a flash of something she had seen back in Paris—the oddly familiar stretch of tender skin on the belly of a beast.

Villanelle seems lost, shot adrift, and the tinge of green in her eyes vibrate in the darkness of the room.

Eve is not thinking when she slides closer and reaches for her hand. She grazes over the top of her knuckles and breathes out slowly, letting her fingers wrap around Villanelles.

For the first time in a long time, she lets herself imagine what would happen if she stopped fighting herself. They stay together like this in silence, hands entwined, until Villanelle shifts to face her more fully.

“You didn’t have any real food today. What do you want for dinner?”

Eve snorts and untangles their hands. She tries not to notice her disappointment or the way her fingers seem to almost chase after hers.

“Are you always thinking about food?”

“Mm, among other things.”

The suggestive lilt is enough of an answer, and Eve rolls her eyes.

“Right, right. I’m…I’m up for whatever.”

“Do you want to help cook?”

“Is this your way of saying I should get my ass out of bed?”

“Yes.”

Eve sits up slowly to stretch and feels the soreness that comes from a bad sleeping position.

“Okay, well…give me a few minutes and I’ll be down.”

Villanelle nods and stands, and regards Eve with a final, undecipherable look before leaving the room.

When Eve is sure Villanelle is downstairs, she reclines back into the bed and brings her hand to her chest. The skin tingles, and the gentle hold of Villanelle’s eyes burn their way into the folds of her mind. It strikes her as absurd then, that somehow, in some unpredictable way, Villanelle has become the only solid thing in her life as of late. Would it really be so bad to trust in this for a little while, to lean into the mess of whatever existed between them? The possibility unfurls in her, filling a space that she had spent so much energy trying to banish from existence. She shuts her eyes and lets it take hold, if even for a little while. 

Chapter Text

There is little to see from the windows of the house but Villanelle peers out regardless, scanning the open road and hills for even the smallest sign of movement. It is mid-afternoon, and the sky looks especially clear after yesterdays rain.

Stacy had left, somehow peacefully and without blood.

If what Eve had said was true though, that would mean that people knew where they were now. They may have likely known for quite some time too, and the knowledge doesn’t sit well with her.

She fingers the raised hatches on the grip of her gun and scrutinizes a red car as it rounds the bend.

It zooms past and continues off into the distance.

She relaxes a fist and recognizes her tense and unusual mood as nervousness. She thinks that she’s felt it more in the past few weeks than she has in almost ten years of her life combined. The fact both unsettles and excites her, like everything that comes along with thinking about Eve. It feels alien to keep discovering these new facets of herself, like stepping into an untouched room in a once familiar home.

Villanelle reaches for her mug of tea and takes a sip, letting her mind shift through recent events. She can feel the gap between them closing—however slowly, however minutely. The touch of Eve’s fingers over her own had riveted her, moved her doubly so when she remembered that it was of Eve’s own volition.

She breathes in the smell of bergamot and drinks deeply, floating in the memory and sensation of warm, shared contact.

From upstairs, she can hear the bathroom water being shut off. Somehow, Eve had slept through the morning and well into the afternoon. She waits for the sound of her coming down, and wonders if she will have a chance to see her softened and at ease like yesterday, before their walk. It was nice to see Eve like that outside the walls of her mind, separate from her fantasies and imaginations, and she knows now that she will crave it always.

She studies the ceiling and listens intently.

The descending footsteps never come. There is only silence.

Villanelle moves then, taking the stairs up two at a time. She raps her knuckles over the bathroom door while clutching the gun with her other hand.

“Eve?”

She frowns at the lack of reply and seconds before she’s about to break her way in, she hears Eve’s muffled voice.

“—yeah, I just—god, hold on…”

She waits by the door, still tense, but fairly confident that Eve isn’t in any real danger.

From under the crack of the door, shadows shift around jerkily. There is a thump and a loud exasperated sigh.

“…okay, fuck it.”

The door swings open and Villanelle stares.

Eve glares back, frumpy and disheveled, with her hair curling in all directions and her sleeping shirt caught around her midsection. Villanelle fights the urge to make a lewd comment and slips into a crooked smile instead.

“My shirt got caught on the stitches, I think. I can’t see it clearly, there’s no full sized mirror in this place. Ugh, and the last thing I need is to cut myself. Can you just…can you just snip it off or something?”

She turns to the side awkwardly, and Villanelle can see the problem right away.

The stitches that Eve had received were not the dissolvable type, and the skin must have healed in a strange manner around them. As a result, the knot at the end stuck out and made for an easy snag. She silently pockets the gun and steps forward.

“Hmm, yes. I think it’s time to cut your stitches actually. The skin is healed.”

“Really? Are you sure? It wont like…I don’t know, rip open or something?”

Villanelle smiles while reaching for the first aid kit behind the mirror over the sink. She cracks open the lid and pulls out a pair of small scissors, snipping at the air before giving Eve a wide grin.

“What, you don’t think I know what I’m doing?”

“Yeah, no. Not with that face.”

She places the box on the floor and perches herself on the edge of the bathtub.

“Relaaax, I am a professional.”

Eve stares at her warily.

“Now, come and let me do my job.”

She does her best to school her face into an expression of seriousness and Eve eventually relents, shuffling closer. She stops in front of her, turning again to reveal the mess of fabric caught on her side.

“…If you fool around, I’ll smack you. I’m serious.”

“Oh yes, I believe you.”

She smiles cheekily and takes a closer look at the stitches. There are six black notches going across her skin in a diagonal, and while the skin around the thread has healed, there is still light bruising and discoloration in the surrounding area. Her fingers graze over the mottled color and she pulls at it gently, checking to see if the puckered scar moves or stays taut.

Eve fidgets. At this close distance, Villanelle can smell the scent of her sheets and the soap she used last night. Both are clean and nondescript, but under it lays a heady, quiet scent that she knows must be distinctly Eve’s own. It wraps her in notes of fear, warmth, and something else that escapes naming. She licks her lips distractedly and continues examining the wound area.
 
Once she’s satisfied that the stitches are ready to be removed, she leans back to address Eve.

“When I cut them, you are going to feel it pulling a little.”

“Pulling?!”

Her panicked face is worth a laugh, but she reigns it in to settle for an eyebrow waggle instead.

“I did not know you were such a big baby, Eve.”

“Alright, listen, not everybody is used to getting stitches removed from a freaking shot wound.”

“Yeah, yeah. But you will barely feel it.”

Eve takes a deep breath as if steeling herself. Villanelle waits until she receives a rough nod that ends up looking more like a full-bodied twitch.

She moves in again and begins carefully cutting the stitch. To keep Eve from feeling too uncomfortable or scared, she starts a new conversation.

“We should leave and find a new place. Maybe tonight.”

“What!?”

Eve snaps her head to face Villanelle, and she just barely manages to keep the scissor from nicking her skin at the sudden movement. She scowls and steadies her hands, firing Eve a pointed look.

“Are you trying to get stabbed? It is not as fun as it looks. Trust me, I know.”

Eve flushes but the tense frustration doesn’t leave her.  

“That’s…that’s not just something you can drop like that on someone. It’s too soon to leave—it, I—“

Villanelle gets back to work, smoothly snipping at another black stitch. She keeps a hand this time on Eve’s hip to keep her in place, and lets herself take in the soft warmth of it under her fingers. She replies coolly.

“They know we are here. It would be stupid to stay.”

She narrows her eyes in concentration and pulls gingerly at the cut stitch, testing how it catches onto the flesh around it.

Eve barely notices, so caught up instead in their sudden discussion.

“But Stacy left without doing anything. Don’t you think that if they really wanted to catch us…or even kill us, that they would have done it then?”

Villanelle hums and drifts to another stitch, making her way across the diagonal.

“So you just want to wait here like easy targets until they change their mind?”

That silences Eve and she thins her lips as Villanelle makes another cut. Her fingers graze over Eve’s rib cage, leaving behind a light trail of goosebumps. They both stay in their thoughts for a measured beat until Villanelle speaks again.

“Why don’t you want to go?”

She does her best to keep her tone airy and not accusatory, but a swift glance up at Eve’s face is enough to confirm that she’s already back to building up her walls.

“What, so we can just keep doing whatever this is?”

Villanelle’s nostrils flare at the reply, and she feels both stung and incensed. She has to will herself to remain careful with the scissors, but when she presses around the skin for a smoother cut, she imagines how satisfying it would be to push in just a little bit deeper. It’s a vindictive thought but it’s an impulse she knows well.

“And what was your end game anyway? Did you think we’d just keep jumping from house to house?”

“No,” she says roughly, surprised by the sudden force in her voice. She tries again, slower this time. “No, we only stayed here so that you could get better.” She cuts another stitch and maneuvers the thread around with great focus. “We can find another place to be, somewhere nicer with better food and fun things to do. Somewhere that isn’t so boring and quiet all the time…” she trails off, dimly aware of the possibility that her hopes for the future will turn Eve away. “…somewhere we can take walks without rain and not be visited by badly dressed agents with shitty American accents. Somewhere with better movies than Frozen, and maybe a garden with more interesting things than just daffodils.”

The unexpected rush from being vulnerable grips her and she cannot help the way her shoulders curl inwards, as if folding together for protection. She hastily straightens herself out and steers back towards more comfortable terrain.

“But I am serious about needing to leave. I am talented, but having all of MI6 smash down the door is not my favorite kind of party. It is unsafe here now.”

She leans up towards Eve and drinks in the sight of her. Even when dressed in a crumpled shirt in a too-small bathroom, she still feels a steady thrum of want from simply looking at her. Their eyes lock and Villanelle is almost too distracted to think about anything other than Eve’s eyes, mouth, or neck.

Eve scans her face, searching for something she can’t know. In the yellow glow of the afternoon light, the dark brown undertone of her hair sneaks through, and Villanelle lets herself imagine what it might feel like to run her hands through it. She wonders what it might feel like to be wrapped in it, to be pressed so close to Eve that it was all that she could see. For a quick moment, she catches a glimmer of doubt, a fleeting glimpse of actual consideration in Eve’s expression. It makes it all the more punishing when she finally does respond.

“It’s always unsafe with you.”

Villanelle holds her gaze for as long as she can, but the sudden vice around her chest makes it hard to do.

She grits her teeth and returns to the stitches, cutting the last one off. There is a dull throbbing above her eye, and she thinks she can feel a rhythmic push of blood rushing through her veins. It is not the familiar pulse of rage, euphoria, or even adrenaline. As she pulls the last thread through the healed but sensitive skin on Eve’s midsection, she remembers the dim club lights of Amsterdam and the cold granite of the hotel sink. Wordlessly, she discards the pieces of pulled stitches into the bathroom bin and returns the scissors to the first aid kit. Eve watches her all the while, presumably waiting for some sort of response.

Every fiber of her being wants to throw the kit right out the window and shatter the glass. In her gut, she knows she wants to remind Eve that she had made a decision already by saying no to Stacy. She wants to tell Eve to make up her mind, to stop wasting their time, to stop wasting her time, and to stop being so…so…

“You want me to choose, don’t you?”

Her head snaps back up at Eve, who greets her with a fiery gaze.  

“You’re trying to get me to do what you want again.”

And before she can stop herself, she finds herself barking back, equally irritated.

“No. Can you stop being an asshole for five minutes?”

Eve blinks, thrown off-guard.

“I didn’t say any of that. If you really want to go, fine. Go.”

The lie is surprisingly easy, but she feels her chest grow even tighter the moment the words leave her mouth. She is suddenly exhausted in a way that’s incapacitating, and she feels the weight of it drag along with her when she stands to cross the bathroom. She stops by the door, and gives Eve a final look.

“…is it really so bad being with me? Am I so terrible?”

She hates the way she sounds so small and confused, but she is learning just how hard it is to control this new and undeveloped side of hers. It feels almost impossible to get it to do what she wants.

Eve doesn’t say anything, and her face offers no hints as to what she’s thinking. Somehow, that in itself feels like an answer and when Eve turns to look away at the floor, Villanelle takes her leave.

 




The dirt is cool beneath her when she sits in the garden.

She sprawls out, not caring if her pants will stain. From her spot on the ground, the bathroom window is easy to see on the side of the house, and she glares heatedly at it while reveling in the writhing mess of her emotions. Somewhere amidst the more foreign shades of feeling are familiar strokes of anger and frustration. She knows what animosity looks like and is intimate with all the exact variations of hate and rage. Normally, she’d get a special kind of high from such a spike in feeling, but this mix leaves her suspended, somehow askew.

It is the burning, silent stain of hurt that she’s not sure what to do with. It’s not in any form that she’s used to, it feels thicker, more viscous and murky. She can feel it swelling, mingling with something that tastes like longing and desire, and the mass of it pushes itself to the forefront of her mind. It’s encompassing and while it strains against her, intense and overwhelming, the pain is almost pleasurable. The ache to extinguish it, almost unbearable.

Villanelle considers the row of daffodils beside her, and sees her hand reach out towards the nearest flower.

The petals are fuzzy and crumple easily when she crushes them into her fist. She rubs them between her fingers, grinding them slowly.

The impulse to tear up all the flowers in the garden floods her then, and she considers it seriously until she imagines Eve’s face, stoic at the confirmation that Villanelle was at best, nothing but a good pretender—a psychopath who merely memorized the lines.

She yanks the plant from the ground and flings it to the side.

Psychopath. Such a stupid word.

Hadn’t she proved to Eve that she was more than that? Why was it so hard to get Eve to see things her way? Wasn’t she doing everything right—wasn’t she being patient and good and honest in the way that she had been asked once before? She clenches her teeth.

It was beyond frustrating that Eve couldn’t seem to imagine that she wasn’t faking it, that Eve couldn’t bring herself to face the possibility that she was feeling something real, maybe even the realest thing she’s ever felt before.

The discarded plant lays a few feet away, tattered roots fanning out.

Despite the loudness of her thoughts, she stays quiet enough to keep an ear out for any signs of intruders. And also, she thinks to herself somewhat bitterly, to hear if Eve really does leave.

What would she do if Eve ran away? Childishly, she wants to believe that she wouldn’t, not after everything they’ve been through—but Eve had always been unpredictable and that was in fact one of the things she liked most about her. She stays seated in the middle of the garden and imagines Eve running down the road, away from her and away from ever waking into her own truth and potential. In her minds eye, she can already see herself picking between one of two choices: waiting a day before giving chase, or reaching for her gun, eye closing to afford an accurate and final shot.

It is grounding to know that she never had a single intention of ever letting Eve go.
 
She lets herself hover between the two choices, and it doesn’t take long for her to know which she would pick. Only one of them offered her the chance to see Eve waking in the morning, only one of them offered her the possibility of learning how she tasted, what she laughed most at, or how she would feel like when held close.

The door from the kitchen to the garden opens, and Villanelle jolts to attention, hand already reaching for her gun.

She relaxes when she sees that it’s Eve.

She’s changed out of her sleepwear and into a comfortable pair of slacks and a new shirt with a cardigan. They stare at each other, and Villanelle loosens her grip on the gun still hidden in her pocket.

“What did that poor flower do to you?”

Eve nods at the torn plant before gingerly taking a seat next to her on the ground, leaving some space between them.

Villanelle maintains her silence, still feeling bruised and petulant.

Eve crosses her arms over her knees and stares at the dead daffodil. For a while, there is nothing but the sounds of passing birds in the distance.

“Look, I’m—“

“—It is easier for you when I am a psychopath, isn’t it?”

Villanelle turns to fix Eve with a firm stare and when Eve peers back, she appears both startled and guilty.

“It is easier to know how to feel about me when I am killing someone. Right?”

Eve blows a stream of air out from her lips and buries her head in her hands, massaging her temples.

“I mean, yeah. There’s not supposed to be a lot of gray area around murder. Morally speaking, anyways.”

“But how do you feel about me when I’m not doing that? When I’m not being a psychopath?”

She watches Eve’s hands still, and decides to approach it from another angle. She decides to try it from the same train of thought that pushed her over only moments ago.

“Remember when you asked me what I would do if I couldn’t kill anymore?”

Eve drops her arms back down and turns to Villanelle, confusion evident.

“What would you do if you couldn’t chase me anymore or get to know me, what would you do if you had to let this go? What if you really went back and walked away from this, after everything that’s happened?”

She scratches at the patch of dirt between them and looks squarely at Eve.

“Would that really make you happy?”

Eve sits motionless, but it’s clear to Villanelle that the questions have landed. She can almost see the way they sear through Eve’s thoughts, setting aflame everything they touch. It was high time for Eve to raze down and discard the judgements and notions that had kept her, kept them, down for so long. She was done with watching Eve hold herself to beliefs that no longer served her.

Villanelle waits and eventually Eve speaks, voice almost too low to hear.

“I don’t…I don’t know what I feel about you, or for you. I don’t what to name it, if it even has a name. All I know is that I cant stop it, not entirely, and every time I do try, it just feels like it gets stronger. You make me feel out of control, like I don’t know who I am anymore, like I don’t know what I want, like all I become is someone who takes, or chases, or hides—and I hate it, it’s so—it’s so—it’s just too much.”

Her voice cracks at the end and she slumps backwards into the ground, laying flush against the floor.

Villanelle blinks and lets herself process what she can before she lowers herself to lay on the floor as well. Together, they stare at the sky. Villanelle chews on the inside of her cheek, deliberating over what to say. She clears her throat.

“Me too.”

Eve snorts and turns to face her. Villanelle turns to her side to face her too, and lets Eve scrutinize her before she continues. 

“But I’m not afraid of it like you are.”

“How the hell are you not afraid?”

“I don’t feel guilty about it, that’s all.”

At this point, there is nothing for her to hide. She dares to scoot closer, and Eve doesn’t shy away. She tentatively reaches out to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. Eve’s eyes flutter shut briefly, and from this close, she can see the curve of each eyelash. Her mouth parts and when she speaks, it’s more of a tired whisper.

“God, I don’t have the faintest idea about what would make me happy.”

Villanelle shrugs, or at least tries her best to from her current position.

“Well, take a break. And let me try.”

That wrests a laugh from Eve, the deep rumbling kind. It fills Villanelle with a warmth that spreads through her entire body.

“You’re going to regret saying that.”

“Mm, no. I don’t think so.”

They share a small smile, and Villanelle dares to feel hope. Eve sighs again and this time, makes the move herself to scoot closer. Villanelle just barely hides her surprise, and Eve shuts her eyes and murmurs tiredly.

“Can we just stay here for a bit?”

The déjà vu is intense, and Villanelle cannot stop the wide grin that spreads over her face.

“Sure.”

Chapter Text

In the garden, time moves like molten lava.

The two of them lay together in near silence, sharing nothing but the quiet occasional look, furtive and almost shy. Eve's mind is light, squeezed of weight and hung out to dry. She goes back and forth between drifting and observing, feeling aware of her body and the nearness of Villanelle's.

The earth is cool beneath her. There is a freckle by Villanelle's cheekbone that she is only noticing today. When she exhales, Eve catches the warm breath of it. Strands of hair stick to the back of her neck and there is a clump of dirt beside her elbow.

From up close, Villanelle’s eyes seem to drift between two different colors. In the encroaching darkness, she watches them trace over her face, two huge orbs dipped in brown with flecks of green. She feels self-conscious but also strangely emboldened under that gaze, and her fingers twitch with an unknown current. Villanelle remains still for the most part, like a creature half-hidden in the bushes: waiting, watching and at rest. Something has shifted, the air is different—and Eve dares to let herself float in it. She cannot remember the last time she felt like this, or if she ever even has. She wonders, not for the first time, what it is that really lives between them. In the end, Eve simply lets the moment carry itself and feels a rare calm from the act of doing nothing at all.  

When they eventually head back inside, it is with the slow sinking of the sun.

The orange hues follow them into the kitchen and when Villanelle washes her hands at the sink, her hair glows by the window.

“What should we do for dinner?”

Eve leans against a nearby table to consider her answer, still wrapped in a lingering peace.  

“How about spaghetti?”

Villanelle turns, eyes wide. Her hands drip with water and form tiny puddles onto the floor. Eve doesn't know what to make of the reaction and finds herself slipping into a shrug.

“Or maybe not?”

She blinks in response and Eve watches a flurry of emotions flicker over her face.

“…no, that’s perfect. Spaghetti is perfect.”

Eve nods slowly and moves towards the sink, bumping into her as she puts her hands under the stream to wash the dirt off her fingers.

“Great. I can help?”

Villanelle nods dumbly and turns to open the fridge. Eve watches her pull out the vegetables and ground beef, and wonders to herself about all the absurd little things that have happened to bring them to this one moment, this one day.

She rinses the vegetables and hears Villanelle setting out the necessary pots and pans. They move through the kitchen around and beside each other to cut and to cook, and oddly, it fits. They fit.

She holds this thought as she peels carrots for the sauce and chops onions, she holds it as she leans against Villanelle to slide crushed garlic in with the beef, she holds it until it grows too hot to the touch.

As Eve watches Villanelle slice bread and strain pasta, she tries to imagine if this new feeling might grow to be as tiring and frail as it did with Niko. She stares at her as she assembles a quick salad, and follows Villanelle's thin, nimble hands as they make work of the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. While Eve listens to the rhythmic slicing, her mind travels to the past.

Dimly, she remembers how she and Niko had agreed to leave the cooking strictly to him as he became bossy in the kitchen in a way that led to arguments and passive-aggressive meals around the table. She can still recall the rattle of his tired sighs and the carved contours of his sunken frown, etched tightly onto the canvas of his face. The memory of his voice returns, low and tinged with an exasperation and resentment that she was slipping away, evading him, and doing everything she could to run deeper into the forest of her mind. She doesn’t know when exactly his stable predictability became so wrong for her and almost accusatory in its steadfastness. All she knows is that one day, she woke up knowing that she could never be still enough for him to be happy.
 
The knife rocks back and forth on the board, and Eve knows that whatever exists between her and Villanelle is like nothing she’s encountered before. Villanelle is not Niko, and could never be, in any way shape or form.

She is a killer. She is a woman. She is similar and dissimilar to Eve herself, she is both the shadow and the shape. She is the form that fits in the cut-out spaces of her mind, she is the darkness at the very center of the forest where she runs wild.

In those passing moments in the garden, held only by the cool earth and Villanelle’s unwavering gaze, Eve felt present and full in a way she never had—free and absolved, clear and unburdened. There was no restless thrumming in her veins, no impulse to fight or pretend.

Alone and with Niko she was made fake and exhausted by the effort of staying in place, of keeping her impulses under control, but across Villanelle she sees the possibility of a life uninhibited. How might it feel to be unbound? What would it be like to breathe freely and give space to the unruly and ugly, knowing the person beside her reveled in it too? Would she lose herself? Would she become more herself, more whole? Would her desire to take, chase and hide ever abate?

When they carry their plates of food to the table, she is still dizzy from the possibilities.

Villanelle slides into her seat and fills Eve’s cup with water.

“What are you thinking about? You are so quiet.”

There is a cautious look in her eye as Eve settles into her chair, not quite sure how to respond. Villanelle twirls her fork into the pasta and takes a hearty bite, leaving a small red stain by her lips.

“You are still thinking about leaving, hm?”

Eve reaches for a slice of bread and dips it into her tomato sauce. She does not know how to tell her that she is beyond thoughts of leaving, and that rather, she is thinking more about staying and the implications of what that would mean for her future. She does not know how to explain that she is thinking about changing the course of her entire life.

“Maybe.”

Villanelle hums, and Eve manages a few bites of her food before putting her fork down. She fixes Villanelle with a serious expression.

“…okay, listen.”

Villanelle slurps up a stray noodle.

"Realistically...what are the options here? Say I leave here with you. Is the grand plan to just keep running away from MI6 and The Twelve forever?"

"Hm, it depends."

"On?"

"Whether or not they get tired and bored of looking for us."

"What if they don't?"

"Then I will take care of them."

"What are you, 007?"

Villanelle sighs, tearing into her bread with a bored frown.

"Eve, you asked me what our options were. It is either that they get tired of us and stop looking or they don't, and then we will have to deal with them ourselves."

"That's...crazy."

"It's not really any crazier than what we've been doing already."

Eve pauses and Villanelle grins though a mouth full of bread.

"...god, I guess you're right."

"Yes, I know. I always am."

"I don't think there's enough space in that car outside for you, me, and that huge ego."

"That's okay, you can sit on my lap."

Eve snorts and rolls her eyes, but Villanelle's broad smile takes the edge off of it. They continue to eat, and the spaghetti is as delicious as all their other shared meals. Eve takes a long sip and considers her next words carefully, tone colored with skepticism.

"...if I left here with you, where would we go?"

Villanelle licks her lips, cleaning away the stain by her mouth before leaning forward with a hand under her chin. Her voice is light and easy.

"Is there a place you want to see? Something you want to do?"

Eve is surprised by the question, having expected a more dramatic reaction or some outlandish and elaborate proposal. Her response is knee-jerk, and the moment she says it aloud, she hears how wrong it is.

“Does it matter what I want?”

Villanelle’s answer is swift. Immediate.

“Of course it does.”

Her gaze softens, and Eve catches the tiny crinkle of skin by her eyelids.

“Eve. I am not going to force you anymore.”

The delivery is firm and clear. It is sincere and somehow sad.

Eve chews at the bottom of her lip and stares at the table, suddenly unable to look at her. The emotion is unnervingly real, and so much more authentic than Villanelle's last attempt at sincerity before a plate of microwaved shepherds pie.

Villanelle clears her throat and picks at her salad.

"I am glad you are thinking about it though. I was not joking when I said it was unsafe here. Whether you choose to come with me or not, we should not risk staying here tomorrow. I am not going to die in a house this ugly."

Eve's eyes trail over Villanelles face, searching for any signs of manipulation. When she finds none, she concedes with a slow nod, feeling the weight of the future move ever so nearer.

"...okay."

Ultimately, she understands that Villanelle knows what needs to be done to stay alive. She too, had little interest in dying in this house. She would have to make a decision by the end of the evening.

The rest of the meal passes without conversation, though the silence isn't awkward.

When Eve stands to help Villanelle clear the plates, she cant hide the tired yawn that escapes. Villanelle raises an eyebrow, giving Eve an odd look as she passes her to start washing the dishes.

"How are you still sleepy? You are not still taking the antibiotics, are you?"

"What? No, of course not."

"You slept all day."

"Are you shaming me?"

"I am only stating the facts."

Eve sighs, pausing to tie her hair up with a band from her pocket before reluctantly responding.

"...I didn't really sleep much. Still having those dreams."

Villanelle scrubs at a pot with her brows furrowed. Eve reaches over to dry off the rinsed plates by her side.

 "What usually helps when you are having shitty dreams?"  

Eve laughs at the innocuous question before realizing that she's waiting for an answer.

"Um, I don't...really think there's anything in particular. I don't normally dream much, or at least, I don't usually remember them afterwards."

Villanelle passes her the cleaned pot and starts to soap up the fry pan. She gives Eve a side glance, eyes darting over quickly.

"...I can keep you company until you fall asleep?"

"What?"

"Eve, you are standing right next to me. Or is your hearing also affected by these bad dreams?"

"Haha, very funny."

Villanelle shrugs and rinses off the fry pan before passing it to her.

"I am serious. Maybe it will help."

Eve runs a towel over the handle and cleans off the bottom of the pan with great care to buy herself some time. She returns it to the empty stove top and looks back at Villanelle.

 "...seriously? It sounds like it'd be really boring to just wait around for someone to pass out."

"But you are not just someone. Also, it is never boring with you. You are rude sometimes, but never boring."

"That's pretty cheesy. You know, I've been surprised to learn how cheesy you actually are. It's kind of tacky."

"See? So rude. But still not boring." Villanelle pauses to scrunch up her nose. "And you have not seen anything yet, I have been holding back this whole time."  

"You know, somehow I don't doubt that."

Villanelle hands her the last of the dishes and Eve dries them off before placing them where they belong.

"So? You will let me keep you company?"

"I mean, sure? But I will absolutely kick you out the moment you start complaining like a child about how dull it is to wait for me to fall asleep."

"I am not the baby who cannot sleep at night."

Eve sends her a withering glare to which Villanelle responds by cheerily flicking her with the remaining water from her still wet hands.

"Okay, smartass. I'm going upstairs to get ready for bed." Eve pauses, drying her hands and feeling awkward in a way she hadn't before. "...and thanks for dinner."

Villanelle seems surprised for a moment but shakes it off with a small and happy smile. Eve leaves quickly after that, willing herself to not feel self-conscious.

 




It is strange to wash up at the sink in the bathroom while knowing that this will be her last night here.

Eve is not sure if it's an unexpected fondness for this place or the anxiety of trading something familiar for something foreign, but she takes her time in washing her face and brushing her teeth.

The tumultuous cycle of emotions she's experienced since waking up here have been nothing short of exhausting, but tonight she feels a strange willingness and desire to find a way forward. She is tired of being resistant and confused, she is done with carrying anger and blame.

She dries off her face and takes a hard look at herself in the mirror. Dark eyes and mussed hair gaze back, and in this moment, in this countryside house in Italy, she realizes that she is wiped clear of her identity as a wife and as a British government employee. She can be someone else now if she so chooses. She can be Eve—full-stop, end of sentence. It is both a terrifying and exciting thought to have.

When she walks into her room, Villanelle is already perched on a chair beside the bed. She is flipping through a large atlas balanced on her crossed legs. Eve shuts the door behind her and hovers over the light switch.

"Is there going to be enough light for you to read that?"

Villanelle waves nonchalantly, eyes never leaving the page.

"What kind of assassin would I be if I couldn't see in the dark?"

Eve scoffs and turns off the light before heading towards the bed. She slips under the covers and lets her eyes adjust before turning to study Villanelle. She's changed into her own sleepwear: a soft, silk shirt and loose black pants. Her hair is down and Eve watches as Villanelle distractedly plays with the ends of it.

"...what's the atlas for?"

"Mm, I am thinking about where to go next."

Eve curls into herself and stares at the cover. It is an old and tattered copy, dog-eared and faded around the edges. Despite the comfort of the bed and the warmth of her blanket, she feels oddly alert.  
 
"...do you have a favorite city?"

Villanelle perks up, tearing her eyes away from the current double-spreaded map to stare at Eve.

"Paris, of course. But we—I—can't go back. Not yet, anyways. I bet there are still idiots swarming my apartment and ruining my outfits like animals."

"Yeah, that probably wouldn't be the best idea. Do you have a second favorite city?"

"Barcelona is fun. Good paella and amazing cava."

"God, you really love food, don't you?"

Villanelle smiles widely and cocks her head to the side.

"Have you traveled much, Eve?"

"Not really. I haven't had the time, and even my honeymoon was more about visiting and taking care of Niko's parents in Poland than it was about seeing the actual country."

"Oh."

Eve stretches and burrows deeper into the blankets, feeling the slow tug of sleep.

"Okay, well you have time now. So what is the city or country you want to see most?"

She considers the question, running her tongue over the back of her teeth in thought as Villanelle watches curiously.

"...I've never been to Korea before."

"What? Aren't you Korean?"

"Sure, but I wasn't born there."

"Then we should go." Villanelle frowns and hastily corrects herself. "I mean, you should go. You can have all of the bulgogi jeongol in the world."

Eve laughs, and Villanelle brightens visibly at the sound.

"They have amazing barbecue. And very impressive saunas."

"So you've been before?"

"No, but I just know."

She's still smiling when she rolls her eyes and tucks a hand under her cheek to settle against the pillow behind her.

"Well, my Korean is wonky as hell so that might be more than I can handle."

Villanelle shrugs and uncrosses her legs, leaning back into the chair for a more relaxed position. Her eyes betray a nervousness and caution that her body language hides, and Eve watches the contrast with fascination.

"Yes but it could be a fun and new experience..." She trails off and fiddles with the brittle edges of the atlas. "For the both of us, maybe."

Eve watches her restless movement as Villanelle crosses her legs again.

"Besides, my Korean pronunciation is excellent. You can leave it to me."

"That's true. Though there's something pretty shameful about letting a white woman handle all my communications in the motherland. Don't think I could live that down and I'm pretty sure my ancestors would kick my ass."

They both laugh at that until Eve finds herself slipping into another yawn.

"I think your body is telling you it is time for sleep."

"You might be right."

Eve adjusts the blankets to settle in more comfortably into the bed. Once she's tucked in, she finds herself staring at the stiff angles of Villanelle's chair.

"...you're not uncomfortable? Or tired?"

Villanelle shrugs, still holding the atlas in her arms.

Eve eyes her warily before pulling back the sheets beside her.

"Well, if you change your mind, you can take this half. That chair looks brutal."

Villanelle raises her eyebrows and stares at Eve for a long moment before dropping the atlas to the floor to move swiftly towards the offered space on the bed.

Eve holds her breath as she lays down beside her, and the two of them turn towards each other like flowers to the sun. Neither of them say anything for a while. Their bodies are a night-time mimic of their shared moment in the garden, they are two curved petals facing one another in the dark. A stretch of quiet passes with each of them in their own thoughts before Eve places a tentative hand on the soft skin of Villanelle's cheek.

"What would you do if I left without you tomorrow?"

Villanelle bites her lip, eyes bright.

"That would be too bad."

"Would you leave me alone?"

Eve stares at the glassy surface of her eyes and sees uncertainty flit over her features.

"...I don't know. I would try."

She expels a tight breath and Eve feels the brunt honesty of her next words.

"But I don't think I could."

The admission lingers in the air and Eve finds herself idly stroking Villanelle's face with the pad of her thumb.

"...be honest. What do you want from this? What are you hoping for?"

"I am drawn to you, Eve. I know that you are what I want."

"What does that even mean?"

"I want to be with you."

"And then?"

Villanelle lifts her hand and stills the motion of her caress with a loose, warm hold around her wrist. Her gaze is searching, soft and plaintive.

"Why isn’t that enough?"

The question strikes her like a punch to the chest, and Eve swallows around the thick mess of emotions that bubble up inside of her. Because you murdered Bill, she wants to say. Because you manipulated me and shot me in the back, she wants to say. Because you are capable of evil and dangerous things and I am afraid to be okay with that, she wants to say. Because I am afraid of admitting what I want, she wants to say, and because I am afraid of not wanting to return to who I was before I met you.

She says none of this and all of this when she closes the distance between them to press her lips soundly against Villanelle's.

At first, Villanelle is too shocked to do anything, but it only takes a moment before she catches up and reciprocates. She makes a small noise of surprise and her lips are soft, her hands even softer. The kiss deepens and she moves to cradle Eve's face, to smooth her hair, to brush her fingers over the growing heat on her neck and shoulders. Villanelle's mouth is warm and her touch is somehow both eager and hesitant, filled with a halting adoration that digs into the marrow of Eve's bones. She finds herself being pulled closer and when Villanelle wraps an arm around her, their bodies fit like pieces built to carry one another.

When they finally break for air, Eve's cheeks are flushed and Villanelle's pupils are blown and almost black. Villanelle brushes away a curl of Eve's hair from her eyes and stares at her in wonder. Eve shuts her eyes and leans into the touch, gripped with a sudden nervousness.

"...I think I want to be with you too, as crazy as that sounds." She sighs shakily. "And maybe that's enough. For now, at least."

Villanelle nods and tenderly brushes over Eve's jaw.

"Okay. I can work with that."

Eve gives her a wry smile before returning to the warmth of her body. Close to Villanelle, she finds that sleep comes easily and that the dreams pass her by, silent and painless.

 




When Eve wakes, the bed is empty and the sun is still low in the sky.

She can hear the sound of someone moving quickly towards her room and she sits up groggily, wondering if she’s about to be greeted by an angry MI6 agent or an assassin from The Twelve. Villanelle pokes her head through the door, fully dressed and carrying a duffel bag.

“Good morning, Eve. No nightmares?”

She slumps in relief at the familiar face and rubs at her eyes.

“No nightmares. God, how are you so awake and chipper?”

Villanelle grins and throws her an apple that Eve just barely catches.

“We are having breakfast on the go. I have packed everything in the car, so take what you need from this room and then we are out of here.”

Eve cant help but notice the new vitality that colors Villanelle’s cheeks or the radiant energy she seems to exude. She manages a smile in return, still feeling tired but filled with her own quiet warmth and calm.

Packing is swift and orderly as she only needs to bring the clothes that Villanelle bought her. She washes up and brushes her teeth quickly before heading outside and Villanelle greets her with a thermos of tea. She takes a long sip and finds it to be perfectly to her liking. Eve stands by the house and stares at the road up ahead while Villanelle starts up the car. The sky isn’t light yet and is covered mostly in a tinted blue with swirls of pink. Villanelle comes to stand beside her and watches her carefully.

“Are you ready?”

Eve turns towards her and takes in the wide, clear, and open expression on her face. Her lips curve into a small smile as she takes a big bite of her apple. It is crisp and sweet, perfectly ripe. She swallows, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Yes. I’m ready.”

When they climb into the car, they drive to chase the sun. They follow its path across the country and as it settles higher and higher into the sky, Eve lets herself soar.