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This is a really bad idea.

In Eve’s defence, it is not her idea. Hugo had been the one to suggest it.

“There are professionals, you know,” he had suggested, at some point during their third - or possibly fourth, Eve struggles to remember the exact number - post-work drink. “People who do this for a living. You could hire one.”

“Do what?”

“Dates for hire.”

And then Eve had leant across the table and asked in a slightly slurred voice, “Are you suggesting that I hire a gigolo to be my date for my ex-husband’s wedding?”

It had been a ridiculous suggestion at the time, but after another drink at the pub, and with a glass of mid-range Merlot from Tesco in her hand, it doesn’t seem quite as crazy anymore. Eve might be drunk, but it is Friday night and she is also alone, as she will be at Niko and Gemma’s wedding in less than a month if she doesn’t find herself a date soon.

And so, with her glass of wine freshly topped up near to the brim, Eve sits cross-legged on the couch in her South London apartment. She balances her laptop on her knees as she opens a search engine and types in the words ‘wedding date for hire’, and then clicks on the first website that comes up.

Eve skims through the introductory paragraph - some corporate bullshit about promising high quality personalised experiences - and lets the cursor follow her eyes to the tab that reads ‘Gallery’. Immediately greeted by pictures of each of the escorts available for hire, along with links to their profiles, Eve starts scrolling, searching for somebody young and hot whose presence at Eve’s side will cause Niko’s eyes to burst out of their sockets in surprise.

It is only after a couple of minutes that Eve realises that every one of the escorts is a woman.

Eve is about to leave the website and look for a male escort service instead, when she pauses to think. And maybe it is the wine talking, but if she’s actually going to go through with this then she may as well just fucking commit. Because why would she take a young, attractive man to Niko’s wedding, when she could take a young, attractive woman?

Now that’s how to show Niko that she has moved on with her life.


 

When Eve wakes up, she is still on the couch. Her body aches in all sorts of places - her back and neck are stiff from spending a few hours curled up on a couch that is too small to be slept on comfortably, and her head pounds from the alcohol she consumed last night. On the coffee table beside her, a laptop sits open, its screen in standby mode. A half empty bottle of wine stands beside a glass sticky with wine residue, the evidence of last night’s bad decisions.

Eve sits up and lets out a low groan as she stretches out her back and legs, full of regret. She’s far too old to be spending her Friday nights drinking with Hugo, Kenny and Elena. They might all be young and still possess the ability to bounce back from a night of heavy drinking without a headache, but Eve is certainly not. She needs to find herself some new friends, ones who are closer to her own age and who value a quiet night in.

A phone starts to ring, and Eve realises that it is coming from somewhere within the couch. She gets to her feet and peels back the cushions to locate the source of the noise, snatching up the phone and holding it to her ear.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Eve?”

The voice is male and has a slight accent, though Eve can’t quite place it through the speaker of her phone.

“This is she.”

“Hello, Eve,” says the man. “My name is Konstantin. I’m calling about the request you submitted for one of our escorts.”

And it all comes flooding back. Hugo’s insane suggestion. Eve’s even more insane idea to actually go through with it.

“Shit, yeah,” groans Eve, slumping back down on the couch. “Can you just give me a second?”

Balancing her phone in place between her cheek and her shoulder, Eve leans forward and taps at the keys of her laptop so that the screen wakes up, then opens her browser. There are two tabs open, the first being her inbox, where the most recent email is an automated confirmation of her interest in hiring an escort. With her heart almost in her throat, Eve scrambles to open the second tab, letting out another groan as she is greeted by the wide eyes and high cheekbones of a woman who must be twenty years Eve’s junior.

Eve scans the escort’s profile quickly. Name: Villanelle. Location: London. Age: 26.

Oh, she would definitely turn a few heads at Niko’s wedding.

“Villanelle,” Eve reads the escort’s name aloud.

“Yes,” comes Konstantin’s voice. “That’s her. We ask that all new clients attend an introductory meeting with their escort so that both parties can decide if they want to proceed. Think of it as an opportunity to get to know each other.”

And maybe it’s because Eve is still a little bit drunk from last night, or maybe it’s because she can’t tear her eyes away from the picture of Villanelle on her computer screen, who stares at the camera with an enigmatic smirk on her lips and a smouldering look in her eyes, but Eve agrees. After all, it’s just a meeting. She’s not committing to hiring Villanelle just yet.

What could Eve possibly have to lose?

“Fine,” Eve tells Konstantin. “Does tomorrow work?”


 

Eve has plenty of opportunity to back out before the meeting with Villanelle. There’s nothing forcing her to leave her apartment on Sunday morning, to get on the tube and travel three stops to the coffee shop where she will meet Villanelle.

Nothing except perhaps curiosity.

Eve arrives a full ten minutes before the time she agreed with Konstantin, only to discover that the escort, Villanelle, is already here too. Eve recognises her immediately, having spent most of her Saturday afternoon studying the single image of Villanelle on the agency website, as if examining it in painstaking detail would tell her what kind of person she has agreed to meet. The photo gave her nothing, no indication of personality or hobbies or why she works as an escort. Eve will have to figure everything out for herself.

It’s still not too late to back out, Eve reminds herself, as she eyes Villanelle up through the window of the coffee shop. She could still back out now, call Konstantin on her way back to the tube station and give him a flimsy excuse about a family emergency to mask the real truth that she’s just nervous about meeting an escort.

But she doesn’t back out. Something compels Eve to enter the coffee shop, like an invisible magnetic force drawing her to the table where Villanelle waits.

“Um, hi,” says Eve, clutching her bag in both hands in front of her as she tries to get Villanelle’s attention.

Villanelle lifts her head, then tilts it to one side as she appraises Eve. Feeling Villanelle’s gaze scan down the length of her entire body, Eve wishes that she had decided to dress for this meeting in something slightly nicer than a pair of casual slacks and the jumper that was on the top of the clean laundry pile. In contrast, Villanelle looks nothing short of a movie star, wearing an elegant pinstripe jumpsuit and with a pair of large sunglasses perched on top of her head as she sips at an iced coffee through a straw.

“You are Eve?”

Eve swallows in an attempt to quell some of her nerves, then nods and says, “I am.”

Villanelle’s eyes narrow ever so slightly and a tiny smile graces her lips, as she comments, “You are different to what I expected. Would you like to order something, or shall we get straight to business?”

Villanelle gestures in the direction of the barista behind the counter.

“I need a coffee,” says Eve truthfully, because without alcohol as an option, she’s going to need some caffeine to make it through this encounter. “Would you like anything?”

Villanelle holds up her iced coffee and shakes her head.

“I’m good.”

Eve removes her coat and carefully hangs it over the back of the chair opposite Villanelle, then takes her handbag and joins the back of the queue to order a drink. As she waits, she steals glances at Villanelle, conducting her own evaluation of the other woman. She is just as difficult to read in person as she had been in the photograph on the website.

Villanelle chooses that exact moment to look up at Eve who, embarrassed at being caught staring, looks away quickly so that Villanelle can’t see the blush that rises to her cheeks.

A couple of minutes later, with a coffee in her hand and her cheeks thankfully back to their normal shade, Eve returns to Villanelle and takes a seat opposite her, unsure of how to begin.

“I’ve never done this before,” she confesses, eager to get that knowledge out into the open early in their meeting.

Villanelle leans back in her chair and gestures around at the coffee shop, before she says in agreement, “This is my first time in Caffè Nero too. I’m usually a Starbucks girl.”

“No, I meant…”

“I know what you meant,” Villanelle interrupts, lips curling up into a smile and a glint of mischief in her eyes. “I was trying to lighten the mood. You’re tense.”

Eve’s cheeks start to burn again at the misunderstanding, and she rushes to cover her nerves with conversation.

“You’re not from the UK,” she observes aloud, commenting on the accent with which Villanelle speaks. Eastern European, perhaps even Russian, if Eve’s guess is correct.

“Neither are you,” Villanelle points out. “Looks like we have something in common already.”

The conversation falls dead between them and Eve doesn’t quite know what to say. She had been hoping that Villanelle would take the lead on the conversation, as the professional in this situation.

“So, um, how does this work?” Eve dares to ask.

Villanelle sips at her iced coffee through its straw, then says, “You tell me what you’re looking for. I tell you if I can provide the service.”

“I need a date for a wedding,” confesses Eve. She pauses for a moment, then elaborates, “My ex-husband’s wedding.”

Predictably, Villanelle leans forward in her seat, her eyebrows raised in surprise. It’s a reaction that Eve is used to by now, the same reaction that she got from Elena and Kenny when she told them that she’d received a ‘save the date’ from Niko and Gemma.

“Your ex-husband invited you to his wedding?” Villanelle asks incredulously. She talks almost like a small child, excitable and expressive.

“It’s complicated,” Eve tries to explain, taking a sip from her coffee. “We stayed good friends after the divorce. Our lives were too entangled for a complete break.”

“And you want to hire me to make him jealous.”

Villanelle speaks in a low voice and phrases her words as a statement rather than a question.

“What? No!” cries out Eve, shaking her head in a resolute no. “I’m happy for him! I just … I don’t want to be the lonely ex-wife and I thought that if I had somebody to go with me, somebody young and attractive, it wouldn’t be quite so tragic.”

“People have hired me for weirder stuff,” shrugs Villanelle, slumping back in her seat.

Eve feels relief at that particular piece of knowledge, because she had been worried about coming across as a sociopath who gets drunk and decides to hire an escort in the early hours of the morning. There’s a small part of her that wants to know more, wants to ask what the weirdest thing Villanelle has ever been paid to do is, just to make her feel a little better about her own questionable life choices, but she decides not to push it. She’s not quite ready to align herself with other people who hire escorts, whatever their reason.

“So, if I were to hire you,” Eve asks, to clarify the hypotheticals, “what would you do?”

“Whatever you want me to.”

There’s a suggestive smirk on Villanelle’s lips as she answers question, one that implies she really does mean ‘whatever’, only emphasised by the way that Villanelle’s eyes scan down Eve’s body again, her tongue darting out to wet her lips as she does so. Eve hates the rush she feels as Villanelle blatantly checks her out, hates the way that her body reacts to something that is just a sales pitch, a ploy to persuade Eve to hire her.

Most of all, Eve hates the way that it actually works.

“I’m not gay!” blurts out Eve. She decides that it’s best to clarify that early on, just so that Villanelle is one hundred percent clear that this is purely a business transaction, that Eve would never actually date somebody like her.

“Oh, sure you aren’t,” replies Villanelle, unconvinced. She waves a dismissive hand, before she continues, “Anyway, you have nothing to worry about. I don’t screw my clients. At least, that’s what I tell my boss.”

“You have sex with your clients?” gasps Eve.

Villanelle pauses, then replies in a low voice, “Only the special ones.”

Her eyes drop to Eve’s lips and linger there.

“I’m not looking for anything like that!” Eve is quick to interject, and Villanelle’s eyes flit up to meet her own once more. Eve wonders if they are darker than before or if it is just her imagination. “I just need somebody who can pretend to be my date.”

Villanelle nods thoughtfully.

“I think I could manage that. I can be very convincing. What is our story?”

Eve frowns in confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, how do we know each other?” explains Villanelle, gesticulating with the hand not holding her nearly empty coffee cup. “Unless you want to tell your ex-husband that you hired an escort to make him jealous…”

“For the record,” says Eve, shaking her head for emphasis, “I’m not trying to make him jealous. And no, I’d rather not tell him the truth.”

Villanelle nods once more and her forehead creases into a pensive frown. She seems to consider the situation for a few seconds, before she asks, “So I am your girlfriend?” Villanelle’s eyes widen in excitement and she adds, “Or wife! Maybe we eloped to Scotland together.”

Having given this drunken impulse to hire an escort very little thought, the word startles Eve somewhat. She has had boyfriends before, had a fiancé and a husband, but never a girlfriend. This is certainly a first for Eve, in more ways than one.

Eve tries to imagine introducing Villanelle to Niko at his wedding, to saying the words ‘this is my girlfriend’ to the person who used to be the one she introduced to others, and tries to picture his reaction. She imagines the way that his eyebrows might shoot up across his forehead, the way that his mouth might gape open in surprise, the way that he might be stunned into silence for a few seconds as he formulates a response to such a revelation, in the same way that all of Eve’s friends have reacted to the news that she’s going to be attending her ex-husband’s wedding. Eve decides that Niko’s reaction will be worth it.

“I guess you can be my girlfriend,” Eve agrees with a nod.

“What are you comfortable with?” Villanelle asks inquisitively. “We will need to be convincing.”

Eve pauses for thought, then confesses, “I don’t know. You have to understand; I was married for fifteen years so it’s been a while since I dated anybody. And I haven’t dated a woman in… well, ever.”

Villanelle’s eyes widen and she gasps, “You have never dated a woman before?”

“No.”

Villanelle peers at Eve curiously, like she’s an exotic animal in a zoo and not just an ordinary heterosexual woman.

(Eve ignores the fact that ordinary heterosexual women probably don’t tend to hire female escorts in their twenties.)

“So, you’ve only dated men?”

Eve hesitates, then answers, “Yes.”

Villanelle reaches across the table and lays a hand over Eve’s. Eve flinches at the unexpected touch and she tells herself that the goose bumps that ripple up her arm are a result of Villanelle’s fingers being cold.

“Oh Eve, you poor thing,” sympathises Villanelle. “Please tell me you have you at least kissed a woman?”

Villanelle waits expectantly for an answer, concern etched upon her face.

“Um, no.”

Eve watches as Villanelle’s face goes through several expressions in under a second, from surprise to confusion to what appears to be abject horror at the thought of living a life without even thinking about kissing another woman.

“Did you even go to college?” Villanelle asks incredulously, finally withdrawing her hand from on top of Eve’s and leaning back once more in her chair.

“Yes, I did,” Eve attempts to justify her answer, “but I was in a long-term relationship with a guy for most of the time.”

“That sounds so boring,” Villanelle drags out the last word to show Eve exactly what she thinks.

Eve thinks back to the relationship in question, her last major boyfriend before she moved back to England and met Niko, and internally agrees with Villanelle’s judgement.

“So, I would be the first girl you are dating?” Villanelle says the words slowly, as if it is something that she can boast about, the fact that she will be Eve’s first girlfriend, albeit a pretend one. She looks at Eve with a question in her eyes, then adds, “If you still want me.”

“Yes, I want you,” Eve agrees with a sigh. When she notices Villanelle’s suggestively raised eyebrow, she quickly clarifies, “To hire you. I want to hire you.”

“And the kissing part?” asks Villanelle. She rests both of her arms on the table between them, then says, “Listen, you’re the client so it’s your decision, but if you want my professional advice, it will be more convincing if he sees us kissing. And more fun if he thinks you’re having a lot of crazy sex now that you’re divorced.”

Eve’s mouth goes dry at the suggestion.

“I guess.”

And then Villanelle says, as casually as she might if she were discussing the weather, “We should probably practice before the wedding.”

Eve doesn’t know if Villanelle times her words deliberately as Eve takes a sip from her coffee or if it’s purely coincidental, but the result is that Eve ends up choking on her coffee and dribbling it down her chin. She lunges for a paper napkin and wipes at her mouth while Villanelle just sits there, seemingly amused by the way that her words have affected Eve.

“Practice what?” asks Eve, once she has managed to recompose herself, and though she knows the answer, she just needs to hear it from Villanelle, just to be absolutely sure.

“The kissing,” confirms Villanelle. She pulls a face, almost like a grimace, then whispers across the table, “I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m pretty good at it.”

Eve’s eyes drop to Villanelle’s mouth, pink-stained lips parted just enough to reveal the tip of a tongue caught between two rows of pearly teeth, and immediately has to look away again. She doesn’t want to give Villanelle the satisfaction of knowing that Eve is thinking about what it would be like to kiss her.

“Is, uh…” Eve stammers, before starting her question again. “Is that a normal part of your job?”

“Eve,” says Villanelle, and god, the way that her accent curls around the single syllable of Eve’s name is doing absolutely nothing to calm the heart that has been pounding in Eve’s chest since the suggestion that they might need to kiss in order to convincingly pretend to be girlfriends, “there is absolutely nothing normal about my job.”

Eve takes a few deeps breath to steady her trembling nerves. This is the craziest thing that Eve has ever done. Villanelle was right earlier - Eve’s life has been boring, the excitement of a career in British Intelligence stunted by the amount of time that Eve has spent behind a desk. But now thanks to copious amounts of alcohol, a suggestion from the very last colleague she should be taking relationship advice from, and Eve’s apparent inability to recognise a bad idea if it slapped her in the face, she is seriously contemplating sharing her first ever lesbian kiss with an escort she’s only just met.

“Fine,” Eve agrees, with a shrug that is anything but the casual gesture she wants it to be. “Let’s get it over with.”

Apparently, it’s the wrong thing to say. Villanelle stiffens in her seat and scowls across at Eve.

“Well not if it’s such a chore to you,” she retorts.

“What?” asks Eve, confused about what she has done wrong. After all, Villanelle was the one to suggest that they practice kissing. Would she rather that Eve said no?

“I told you, I’m not going to force you to do anything you don’t want, and you clearly don’t want to kiss me.”

“I never said that.”

“You didn’t have to,” says Villanelle, shaking her head. She leans on the table between them and then says, in a softer voice than before, “Look, Eve, I’m expensive and there’s a reason for that. I know exactly what you need and I can give it to you. But you have to be willing to put in your effort too.”

Eve’s breath catches in her throat. There’s just something about Villanelle telling Eve she can give her what she needs, coupled with the smouldering look that Villanelle is giving Eve from beneath her lashes, that makes Eve start to question her decision to go forty-five years without kissing another woman.

Which is why Eve takes a deep breath, and then says, “Okay, I want you to kiss me now.” And then, because she’s worried that it’s too forward, she adds, “You know, for practice.”

Villanelle scoots her chair around until they are sitting next to each other, without the barrier of the table between them.

“For practice,” Villanelle echoes back, and she starts leaning in.

“Just so you know,” Eve blurts out, and Villanelle leans back again with a frown on her face. “I haven’t kissed anybody since Niko.”

“Your husband?”

Ex-husband. Well, I guess there was this one guy, but it doesn’t count because I was so drunk that I barely even remember it.”

Another product of a night out with Hugo. Eve really needs to pick better co-workers to spend her free time with. Ones that are older, more mature, less inclined to gear every single conversation towards sex. Maybe Eve should start spending her lunch breaks getting to know Jess better instead…

“Eve,” says Villanelle, interrupting Eve’s train of thought and bringing her right back to the present, where Villanelle is sitting so close that Eve can see the flecks of green in her hazel eyes. “I don’t want to hear about the men you have kissed before.”

Eve nods in understanding, and lets her gaze drop to Villanelle’s lips once more. This time, she lets her eyes linger.

“Got it,” says Eve. “So, do we just…?”

Villanelle reaches up with one hand to cup Eve’s cheek, brushing her delicate fingertips along the angle of Eve’s jaw, and starts to lean closer. Eve shuts her eyes and waits for the impact of Villanelle’s lips against her own. She can feel Villanelle’s face move closer, and the hairs prickle on the back of Eve’s neck in response to the proximity.

Eve startles back to the present at the sound of a sharp hammering against the window of the coffee shop behind her. She momentarily forgets about Villanelle, forgets that they were about to kiss, as she turns around to look for the source of the noise, only to see Elena and Kenny standing on the pavement outside. Kenny looks uncomfortable as they peer in, a complete contrast to Elena, who gestures between Eve and Villanelle before making some obscene hand gestures with an excited grin on her face.

Eve groans in embarrassment and raises a hand to her face.

“Do you know these people?” Villanelle asks from beside her. “Are they your friends?”

“No, I…” starts Eve, trailing off as Elena mouths the words ‘get it, girl’ while pointing at Villanelle. She sighs, then corrects herself, “I work with them. Co-workers, not friends.”

In retaliation, Eve sticks her middle finger up at Elena through the window. The gesture seems to spur some life into Kenny, who hastily grabs Elena’s hand and starts to drag her away from the window and across the road, much to Eve’s relief.

There are a few seconds of silence, before Villanelle says, “So, do you still want to…?”

As Villanelle trails off and gestures between them, Eve supplies the end of the question by saying, “Practice kissing?”

“Yes.”

Eve considers the offer for a moment, and the image of Elena swims to the front of her mind, lewd hand gestures and all.

“No,” answers Eve. “I don’t think I can anymore.”

Villanelle pushes her chair back, putting some distance between them, and Eve tries to tell herself that the flash of disappointment that she sees on Villanelle’s face is just a projection.

“Okay,” says Villanelle, suddenly very business-like again. “So, you have my boss’s number, right? You can give him a call if you still want me for the wedding.”

I do want you, Eve want to say. But that feels like a little bit too much so instead she says, “Of course. I will definitely think about it.”

And then, because Eve doesn’t really know what to do next, she holds out her right hand for Villanelle to shake.

Villanelle looks down at Eve’s extended hand, then back up at Eve’s face with a snort.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she says, shaking her head. “You don’t shake your escort’s hand.”

“Oh, right,” says Eve, and she lets her hand drop limply back into her lap.

Villanelle stands up, appraises Eve from head to toe again, and then says, “I hope we see each other again.”

And then she leaves, and Eve is all alone in a Caffè Nero with absolutely no idea what the fuck has just happened.

 

Chapter Text

“So, how did it go with your new client?”

Konstantin doesn’t even wait for Villanelle to invite him into her apartment, he just steps past her as soon as she opens the door, holding a packaged sandwich bought from Marks and Spencer.

“Please,” says Villanelle, her voice laced with sarcasm as she closes the door behind Konstantin, “make yourself at home.”

“I will,” Konstantin deadpans, dropping onto one end of Villanelle’s couch with a soft thump. “So, how was it?”

“Pretty good, I think,” answers Villanelle. “She told me that she doesn’t like women, but she could not stop staring at me.”

Konstantin peels open the packaging on his sandwich without giving Villanelle the satisfaction of a response. She watches him lift the sandwich to his mouth and as he takes a bite, some of the sloppy contents ooze out and fall into his lap.

“Do you have to eat that in here?” Villanelle complains, watching in disgust as Konstantin scoops up the mess and then licks his fingers clean. “You’re as messy as a child.”

“All day breakfast,” says Konstantin, showing her the packaging. He offers the second sandwich out to her and asks, “Do you want to share?”

Villanelle inspects the content and then wrinkles up her nose as she shakes her head.

“Egg does not belong in a sandwich.”

Konstantin looks down at his sandwich, then shrugs.

“More for me,” he says, taking another bite. With his mouth full, he hums contentedly and then changes the subject by saying, “She already called me. She wants to hire you for the wedding.”

Villanelle feels her ego swell in her chest like a balloon being inflated. It’s not even been an hour since she parted from Eve in the coffee shop, and to learn that Eve has already been on the phone with Konstantin fills her with immense satisfaction. Villanelle could tell that Eve was into her from how nervous she was at the start, and then from how Eve’s eyes kept dropping to Villanelle’s mouth once those nerves had disappeared. Eve might have insisted upon her heterosexuality on more than one occasion, but Villanelle knows Eve’s desires better even than Eve knows them.

Villanelle will definitely be able to have a little bit of fun with this one.

“She called you already?” Villanelle says, as a slow smirk spreads across her lips. “She must really like me. Can you blame her though?”

“The wedding is in two weeks,” Konstantin informs her. “I will email you details later.”

Villanelle strolls across the room and stands by the window, looking out at the bleak London cityscape beyond. It’s a clear enough day that if she stands at the right angle, she can just see the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral silhouetted against the sky.

“I will have to buy a new dress,” she comments aloud, turning her head to look at Konstantin. “Maybe even a fascinator.”

Konstantin takes another bite of his sandwich and is oblivious to the hint that Villanelle has just dropped in his lap until she raises her eyebrows pointedly in his direction.

“Oh right,” he says, and balances his sandwich in one hand as he reaches into the pocket of his duffel coat with the other hand to pull out a roll of twenty-pound notes. “How much do you need?”

He peels off a handful of notes and offers them out to Villanelle.

“Thank you, Konstantin,” Villanelle says in a sing-song voice, taking the cash from him and sitting at the other end of the couch to count it. “Do you want to come shopping with me?”

“No,” Konstantin mumbles around the final mouthful of sandwich. He swallows, then wipes his sticky fingers on his trousers as he asks, “Are you going to behave yourself at this wedding?”

“Of course I’ll behave myself. Unless Eve wants me to be naughty.”

Konstantin gets to his feet and points his index finger at Villanelle in a warning, like a parent scolding their child.

“Do not screw the client.”

“Of course not,” Villanelle holds her hands up in surrender. “I am a professional.”

Konstantin narrows his eyes.

“Good.”

He wraps the second sandwich back up in its card packaging and tucks it inside his coat. As he heads back towards the door, Konstantin stops in his tracks and turns to look at Villanelle again.

“I have cleaned up enough of your messes,” he warns her. “Don’t turn this into another one.”

Villanelle pretends to be offended and says, “I would never!”


When Eve goes back into the office on Monday morning, she wonders how long it is possible for her to avoid Elena and the inevitable conversation.

As it turns out, when a team of only five people is crammed into an office space so small that they have to pretty much climb over each other to get to the coffee machine, the answer is approximately eight minutes.

“So, Eve,” says Elena, rolling her office chair over to Eve’s desk almost as soon as Eve settled down with a steaming mug of black coffee. “Who was that woman Kenny and I saw you out with yesterday?”

In their cramped office, it is also impossible to have a conversation without every single one of the others listening in. Even Hugo stops his crass bragging to Jess about the girl he picked up in a chip shop on Saturday night, so that he can eavesdrop on their conversation.

“Just a friend, that’s all,” says Eve, as she switches on her computer monitor, then types in her username and password to log into the MI6 system.

“She looked like a little bit more than a friend to me,” Elena presses for me. She glances over her shoulder, then asks, “Don’t you agree, Kenny?”

Kenny holds both of his hands up and says, “I’m staying out of this.”

While Kenny picks up a file from his desk and leaves their small office to visit another department, Hugo gets up from his own chair and crosses over to Eve’s desk, standing just behind Elena.

“Hold up,” says Hugo, looking confused. “You’re saying that Eve has been getting jiggy with another girl and she hasn’t told me? I’m a little offended, to be honest.”

Eve groans and lifts an exasperated hand to her head.

“I’m not getting jiggy with anybody!” she protests, wincing at Hugo’s choice of words. “It was one date.”

Elena and Hugo look at each other with matching grins on their faces, then Hugo glances back at Eve and holds one of his hands up for a high five.

“I’m not high fiving you,” Eve tells him.

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m really not.”

“Don’t leave me hanging, Eve,” whines Hugo.

Eve looks up at him and at the pout on his face and realises that if it wasn’t for him and his outrageous suggestion, she would still be dateless for Niko’s wedding. She decides to indulge him, and half-heartedly nudges the palm of her hand against his.

Hugo grins and leans himself against Eve’s desk, before he asks, “So let’s hear all about this girl on girl stuff.”

Elena groans in disgust and says, “First, that’s gross. But secondly,” Elena turns her attention back to Eve mid-sentence and asks, “please do tell us everything. What’s her name?”

Eve panics, knowing that she can’t give away the name that Villanelle goes by in her escort work, and blurts out the first name that comes to mind.

“Julie.”

“And how did you meet Julie?” asks Elena, eyes glimmering with excitement at the prospect of hot new office gossip.

Again, Eve realises that she should have expected a barrage of questions and come to work prepared with a backstory. As it is, she gives the answer that is closest to the truth, without actually admitting that she went on a date with an escort.

“We met online,” she answers with a shrug. “It’s like Hugo is always saying, it’s all about the dating apps these days.”

Hugo stares at her incredulously and asks, “ You’re on Tinder?”

Eve hesitates for a fraction of a second, then answers, “Yeah.”

Hugo frowns and considers the answer, before he shrugs and replies, “Nice,” as he wanders back to his desk.

Elena doesn’t seem quite as ready to quit.

“Things looked to be going pretty well, from what I saw,” she says, leaning closer to Eve and wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. “Are you going to see her again?”

Eve tries to act nonchalant as she replies, “I actually thought I might take her to Niko’s wedding as my plus one.”

In her peripheral vision, Eve sees Hugo’s head jerk up when she says this, and she is grateful that he decides not to bring up the drunken conversation that he and Eve shared on Friday night. She isn’t quite ready for the onslaught of teasing that would come her way if the entire office learned that Eve’s apparent new beau is only with her for the paycheck.

“Really?” asks Elena, eyes widening in surprise. “That’s quite a big step.”

“It’s either that or I turn up alone to my ex-husband’s wedding.”

Elena grimaces at the suggestion.

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be ideal.”

Eve is grateful that Elena drops the subject at that point, apparently satisfied with the titbits of information that Eve has given her, and instead starts talking about a case that they’re supposed to be working on.


The topic comes up again three hours later when Hugo drops into a chair opposite Eve while she’s picking at a Tupperware box of reheated pasta with a fork. Eve knows what is coming as soon as she realises that it is Hugo, but she doesn’t expect him to be quite so forthcoming.

“Okay, so I know we were pretty drunk on Friday night,” he starts, resting his elbow on the table and leaning across with a smirk on his face, “but I distinctly remember you telling me that you didn’t have a date for your ex’s wedding.”

Eve lifts a forkful of pasta to her mouth to buy herself some time before she answers. Hugo maintains an unnerving eye contact the whole time she is chewing, apparently willing to wait for as long as it takes.

Eve swallows, and then says, “Well, now I do.”

“The thing is,” continues Hugo, “I also remember the suggestion I gave you.”

Eve holds his gaze for about half a second, then looks down, suddenly very interested in the contents of her Tupperware.

“Eve?”

“Okay fine,” concedes Eve, slumping back in her chair. She looks around to make sure that nobody is close enough to eavesdrop, then admits, “She’s an escort. Please don’t tell anybody.”

Hugo grins in triumph.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I hire escorts all the time.”

Eve shouldn’t be surprised. Hugo, being a man who has spent his entire life surrounded by more money than he knows what to do with, is exactly the right demographic of person that might hire an escort. And yet the admission does take Eve aback slightly. She has spent almost her entire weekend wallowing in the shame of what she is doing, both before and after meeting Villanelle, thinking of the other people who have paid Villanelle and the countless other escorts just like her. Eve imagined that they would all be creeps, either perverts with strange fetishes unable to convince a woman to agree to without handing over a large sum of cash first, or losers unable to get a date on their own. Eve supposes that she falls into that second category herself. What she didn’t imagine, was that other people who escorts could end up being people she interacts with every day, people who are normal. Or at least as normal as somebody like Hugo, who has three middle names and a second cousin who is a baron, can be.

“You?” asks Eve, frowning at Hugo as she presses him to explain. “Why do you need to hire an escort? You’re always bragging about the women you pick up.”

Apparently immune to embarrassment, Hugo just shrugs and leans back in his chair as he takes a sip from his mug of tea.

“Let me tell you a little story,” he begins. “My dear old parents divorced when I was fourteen and ever since, my dad has dated a string of much younger women who are only interested in him for his money. And then, a few months ago, he proposed to one of them. Clare.” Hugo’s distaste for the woman is evident in his voice, only emphasised by the way that he rolls his eyes as he says her name. “So, I hired an escort to be my date for the engagement party.” Hugo pauses and leans forward in his chair again, a mischievous glint in his eyes as he adds, “And then a different one for his birthday party. And then another one for a family dinner.”

Eve doesn’t know whether she should be horrified or impressed.

“But you’re always bragging about the women you sleep with, why not just take one of them?”

“Because it’s much more entertaining to pay women to piss off Dad and Clare. Also, I know my dad’s credit card details, and now so do the escort agency.”

Eve shakes her head in disbelief.

“That is the most entitled white boy story I’ve ever heard.”

Instead of taking offence at Eve’s comment, Hugo’s eyes light up with mischief.

“Isn’t it just?” he agrees. He pats Eve’s arm twice, then says to her, “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”

Chapter Text

Eve is starting to panic.

This all seemed like such a good idea at the time. Accepting the invitation to Niko and Gemma’s wedding was a polite courtesy and a gesture of goodwill to her ex-husband’s new life. And hiring an escort to pretend to be her date to said wedding, while perhaps not a conventional move, seemed like the best way to prove to Niko that she has no lingering feelings for him either.

But now, standing in front of the bathroom mirror on the morning of the wedding, trying to work out whether she should wear her hair up or down, Eve can feel the doubt in her mind growing from a tiny seed into something much bigger.

Perhaps it would have been more polite to turn down the invitation? Or should she have just settled with turning up dateless, to ensure that she doesn’t draw any attention away from Niko and his soon-to-be bride?

She is just beginning to wonder what Villanelle’s cancellation fee might be, when the obnoxious double toot of a car horn rises up from the street outside her flat, and Eve realises that it is too late to make that decision.

Eve hurries out of the bathroom and across her bedroom, fixing her earrings into place as she goes. She flings open the bedroom window, shuddering at the cool blast of air that hits her when she does so, and leans her head out far enough to be able to look down at the street below.

And immediately does a double take at the sight that greets her below.

Holy shit .

Stepping out of a flashy sport car wearing a plum-coloured tailored pantsuit, is Villanelle. Eve gapes dumbfoundedly at what she sees as Villanelle straightens up, flicking her hair over her shoulder almost in slow motion and sweet Jesus she’s wearing a tie too.

“Hello, Eve,” says Villanelle, raising a hand in a half-wave as she notices Eve leaning out of the second story window. “Are you nearly ready?”

Eve tries to compose herself and manages to calm her racing heart for a full half a second before she remembers the car, and asks, “Is that a Porsche ?”

Villanelle turns around to look at the car behind her, as if she hadn’t even realised that it was there, then shrugs and answers, “Yep. I hired it for us for the day. I thought it would make a good impression.”

Eve rests her elbows on the windowsill and leans her head in her hands. Villanelle is certainly going to turn a few heads at the wedding, Niko’s included.

“Yeah, it’s definitely going to make an impression,” Eve admits aloud.

“So, are you ready to go?”

“I just need to do my hair!” Eve calls down, ducking back through the window so that she can look for a hairbrush.

“Leave it down!” she hears Villanelle’s voice drift up from the street. “It looks good like that.”

Eve stands in front of the mirror and appraises her hair, still wild and unbrushed. She runs her fingers through the curls, combing out any tangles, then messes it up at the roots to give it a touch more volume. She’s so used to tying it back every day for work that leaving it down feels strange.

But if Villanelle says it looks good down...

“Oh, fuck it.”

It takes her less than thirty seconds to step into a pair of heels, grab her purse, and join Villanelle down on the street, slipping her arms into her trusty raincoat as she shuts her front door behind her.

“No.”

Eve looks up and then nearly trips over her own feet, because the visual from down here, the visual of Villanelle leaning against the side of a sports car with her hands buried deep in the pockets of an impeccable pantsuit, is something that makes walking in four-inch heels substantially harder than it already is.

“What?” asks Eve.

“No, you are not wearing that coat to a wedding.”

Eve looks down at her coat. It’s grey and waterproof and it keeps her warm and what can possibly be wrong with a coat that does exactly what it is supposed to do?

“Why not?” frowns Eve. “This is my coat.”

Villanelle wrinkles up her nose and Eve is pretty sure that she watches Villanelle shudder in horror.

“It’s disgusting and shapeless.”

Eve rolls her eyes and tries to step past Villanelle to get to the door on the passenger side of the car, only to find her way blocked as Villanelle sidesteps into her path.

Julie would not let her girlfriend wear that coat,” insists Villanelle. Eve feels Villanelle’s eyes travel all the way down her body, before she says, in a voice that is much huskier than before, “Besides, you have an amazing body. You shouldn’t hide it.”

Villanelle is standing far too close to be able to speak to Eve in that voice and not incite a reaction from her, and so Eve protects herself by taking a step back.

“It’s November!” she complains with a gesture up at the sky, as bleak and grey as the offending coat. “Can I not just leave the coat in the car when we get there?”

Villanelle shudders again.

“You want to taint my Porsche with that coat?”

“It’s not your Porsche, though, is it?” Eve is quick to retort.

“It is today.”

Eve folds her arms across her chest in defiance, before she insists, “I’m keeping the coat on.”

Villanelle’s stares for a few moments, her nostrils twitching in distaste, but she finally steps aside and opens the car door for Eve. Eve thanks her with a nod and ducks inside the vehicle.

“You take it off the second we arrive,” Villanelle instructs her, when she climbs into the driver’s side. Glancing across at Eve, she arches an eyebrow and adds, “And I might set it alight when you are not looking.”

“Set fire to my coat?” scoffs Eve. “What are you, a psychopath?”

Villanelle shoots Eve a sly grin as she starts the car and revs the engine aggressively, before pulling away from the edge of the street.

“Absolutely not.”


“That is your husband?”

Ex -husband,” Eve clarifies. “But yes.”

Eve ushers Villanelle into the second pew from the back before they can draw too much attention to themselves. What with the sports car, which Villanelle insisted on revving loudly again as she pulled into the gravel car park outside St Jude’s Church in West London, and Villanelle’s striking pantsuit, they have turned a few heads already. At least, Eve tries to tell herself that it is Villanelle’s larger than life presence that has earned them a few stares, and not the fact that the other wedding guests, at least half of whom were at Niko’s first wedding to Eve almost seventeen years ago, are surprised that Eve has shown her face here at all.

Niko, thankfully, doesn’t seem to have noticed them yet. He stands at the front of the church, laughing about something with his best man, oblivious to the way that Villanelle scorns him as she drops onto the uncomfortable pew beside Eve.

“No, but seriously,” whispers Villanelle, “you were married to that ? Remind me for how long? Fifteen years, was it?”

“Stop it,” Eve swats at Villanelle’s leg in reprimand.

“Did he always have the moustache or is that a post-divorce addition?”

Eve hesitates before she answers, not wanting to give Villanelle any more fuel, before realising that the easiest way to get through today will be if she allies with her date.

“He grew it about three years into our marriage and it never really went away,” she tells Villanelle.

“And it took you another twelve years to divorce him?” gasps Villanelle.

Eve can’t tell if Villanelle is faking disgust at the situation for dramatic effect, or if she is actually horrified at the thought of somebody spending so long stuck in a marriage with that facial hair.

“Stop,” repeats Eve, though she can’t help but laugh under her breath. She had never been one hundred percent on board with the moustache after the initial novelty had worn off but hadn’t been quite brave enough to burst Niko’s bubble. Eventually she just got used to it and it became just as much a part of their marriage as the once-a-week missionary sex.

“But, Eve …” Villanelle starts, drawing Eve’s name out in one long syllable.

Villanelle gets cut off from whatever else she was planning to say by two other wedding guests, who politely tap on her shoulder and ask if they can get past to sit in the empty space on the other side of Eve.

“Of course you can,” says Villanelle, and Eve is surprised to hear the words leave her mouth in an impeccable London accent, so very different to her usual Russian one.

They both stand up to let the other couple squeeze past, Villanelle with a polite smile plastered on her face.

When they sit down again, Eve leans closer and whispers to Villanelle, “Okay, where did that accent come from?”

“This accent?” asks Villanelle, continuing to speak with her English accent. “This is just how Julie speaks. Do you like it?” She switches to another accent which Eve recognises as a regional Liverpool accent, then says, “I thought about making her a Scouser but I’m still working on this one.”

Eve gapes at Villanelle for a few moments, then asks, “How?”

Villanelle shrugs indifferently.

“My clients hire me to play a part for them,” she says, back in her own accent. “I like to make sure I have a wide repertoire.”

Eve is prevented from being able to make further comment on this by the organist, who plays a rousing chord as the doors swing open at the back of the church. The congregation gets to their feet as Gemma steps into the church in her white gown and starts to walk down the aisle with her father on her arm.

“If it makes you feel better,” Villanelle whispers in a low voice so that only Eve can hear her, her breath hitting the back of Eve’s neck and sending goosebumps down her back, “she’s not as hot as you are.”


The ceremony goes off without a hitch. Eve finds it strange to watch the man she loved for so long marry another woman for about the first five minutes, until Villanelle’s hand reaches out and finds hers, like she knows exactly what Eve needs. With their intertwined fingers resting in Eve’s lap, everything is nearly okay.

And then, almost as soon as the ceremony has started, the vicar declares Niko and Gemma to be husband and wife. They walk down the aisle arm in arm and when Niko makes brief eye contact with Eve as they reach the back of the church, he nods politely in her direction before he looks away again.

Villanelle’s hand tightens in hers, and Eve squeezes those fingers back.

“So,” Villanelle whispers to Eve, as the guests begin to make their way out of the church, “now is the part where we all get drunk?”

It’s not quite as simple as that - there’s rather a lot of hanging around outside the church as the photographer takes particular groups of people at a time and positions them in front of the church doors around the new bride and groom.

And then, Eve experiences her first slightly awkward encounter of the day when she finds herself standing next to Niko’s aging mother while they watch the photographer organise Gemma and her bridesmaids into a group photo.

“Eve,” says Niko’s mother. “You’re looking well.”

“Thank you,” says Eve, forcing a polite smile onto her face. “So are you.”

Villanelle, perhaps sensing Eve’s discomfort from a few feet away, sidles over with her hands in the pockets of her pants, removing one of them when she reaches Eve’s side so that she can drape her arm casually around Eve’s shoulder. Villanelle is just the right amount taller than Eve for it to be comfortable, like they were made to slot together at each other’s side.

“And who is your guest?” Niko’s mother asks, eyeing Villanelle up and down.

“This is Julie,” says Eve. “She’s my - uh…”

“I’m Eve’s girlfriend,” supplies Villanelle, in her fake English accent. She withdraws her other hand from her pocket and offers it out to Mrs Polastri. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Julie, this is Niko’s mother,” Eve is quick to explain, eager to get that little nugget of information out into the open before Villanelle says something that will land Eve in hot water.

“Oh!” says Villanelle, surprise in her voice. “Well, congratulations . I hope that your new daughter-in-law is just as wonderful as your last one.”

Niko’s mother makes a hmmph noise, but then Eve is saved from having to force conversation any longer by the photographer, who calls for a photo of the bride and groom with their parents.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs Polastri!” Villanelle calls out, as Niko’s mother walks away. She turns to Eve, and then in her own accent, says, “So, how did I do?”

“You were perfect, actually,” admits Eve. “I never much liked Niko’s mother.”

Villanelle smiles in triumph, then runs her fingertips down Eve’s bare arm, where goosebumps have formed from the chilly November wind.

“Look, you’re cold.”

Eve huffs, and then says, “That’s because somebody made me leave my coat in the car.”

Villanelle frowns, deep in thought for a few seconds, before saying, “I have a confession. There’s another reason I didn’t want you to wear a coat.”

Villanelle places a hand on Eve’s hip as an anchor as she leans in closer and Eve nearly flinches at the contact. She tells herself that the reason she doesn’t swat the hand away is because it’s part of their act, and not because the warmth of Villanelle’s palm through the material of her dress makes Eve feel more alive than she’s felt in months. Eve’s ears fill with the rhythmic sound of blood coursing through her veins, blocking out almost all other sound, but when Villanelle presses her mouth to the shell of Eve’s ear and whispers, it is like her voice is being amplified around Eve’s skull.

“I think you’re going to look really sexy wearing my jacket.”

To an onlooker, they look just like a loved-up couple, exchanging secret nothings. Villanelle is so convincing that she almost has Eve fooled too.

Villanelle takes a step back and slips her arms out of her jacket, then drapes it over Eve’s shoulders. It is still warm with Villanelle’s body heat, and Eve wraps it tighter around herself, murmuring her thanks.

“I was right,” smirks Villanelle. “It looks good on you.”

 

Chapter Text

The wedding reception takes place at a hotel about ten minutes from the church. Eve finds herself sitting beside Villanelle at a table made up mostly of Niko and Gemma’s colleagues and a couple of distant Polish cousins. It’s the table for people who have been invited to the wedding more as a courtesy, rather than because Niko and Gemma actually want them here.

It’s not all bad. At least they are close to the bar.

Eve listens diligently to the speeches, laughing and applauding in all the right places. Beside her, Villanelle inhales a three course meal like she’s never seen food before.

When the speeches are replaced by music and the DJ calls out for the bride and groom to make their way to the dance floor for the first dance, Eve wipes at her mouth with a tablecloth and makes an excuse about needing to use the restroom. As she pushes her chair back and gets to her feet, Villanelle’s fingers find her own.

“Do you need me to come with you?” she asks, concern written on her face.

“Why would I need you to come with me? I’m just popping to the loo.”

Villanelle’s face cracks and she smirks at Eve.

“I have a thing about bathrooms,” she tells Eve, just a hint of her Russian accent creeping into her voice.

Eve doesn’t even want to start to unpack that one.

“No, thank you. I’ll be fine on my own.”


Eve doesn’t actually get to speak to Niko until about forty minutes after his first dance with Gemma. By now, the lights have dimmed and the crowded dance floor is lit up with coloured disco lights. Most of the guests have left their seats, either to get up and dance, or to visit the bar, which is where Eve is standing when Niko arrives at her side.

“Hey.”

Eve looks up when he speaks to her and smiles her greeting back at him. Her first thought is how different he is to Villanelle, even on his wedding day looking like the same slightly scruffy maths teacher she was married to for fifteen years. His dishevelled suit hangs slightly too large on his body and he looks uncomfortable to be wearing a tie, the knot loose at his open collar.

“Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” replies Niko. “I’m glad you could make it. And you brought … well, I overheard somebody saying that she’s your girlfriend but I didn’t know whether to believe that.”

Eve looks over at Villanelle, who is still slouched in her chair at their table. She, too, has undone her top button and loosened her tie, but rather than looking like a harried teacher, she effortlessly pulls the look off with style. Eve smiles to herself at her choice of date, then turns back to Niko.

“You can believe it.”

Niko’s eyes widen in surprise.

“Oh wow. That’s quite a change.”

That’s one way of putting it. Elena referred to it as “an upgrade” the other day when the subject had come up in the office, and Eve doesn’t disagree, even if it’s an upgrade that has cost a sizeable portion of this month’s salary.

“Sometimes life throws you a curveball,” says Eve, holding both hands up in surrender. “I guess my curveball is called Julie.”

“Sorry, but I have to ask. Are you…? Has this always been…?” Niko trails off, like he isn’t quite sure what he wants to say to her. He sighs, and then continues, “I mean, we were together for…”

“Are you trying to ask me if I’m gay?” Eve interjects, arching an eyebrow at him.

Niko at least has the decency to blush as he answers, “Well, yes.”

Eve is grateful that she decided to do her homework before today because she has an answer prepared for this exact question.

“I don’t really like labels,” she tells him. “I’m attracted to whoever I’m attracted to.”

“Okay,” nods Niko, though he wears a frown on his face like he’s still trying to wrap his head around the whole thing. “But you’re happy?”

Eve glances over at Villanelle again, who appears to be using her reflection in the screen of her phone to adjust her hair. As if sensing Eve watching her, Villanelle looks up and makes eye contact, before blowing Eve a kiss that must be for Niko’s benefit.

“Yeah, I’m happy.”

“Good. I’m really glad to hear that. And I’m really glad you came today. I was worried you might find it a little awkward.”

“Awkward?” Eve forces a laugh and shakes her head, perhaps a little too eagerly. “Not at all! We’ve both moved on, Niko.”

“We have,” he agrees.

Eve doesn’t realise that Villanelle has left the table until she feels an arm snake around her waist.

“Hey baby,” Villanelle murmurs in a sultry voice, pressing a kiss to Eve’s cheek. Her fingers tighten at Eve’s waist, then she says, “Let me get the drinks. How do you feel about champagne?”

“Uh, sure.”

Villanelle waves to catch the bartender’s attention and orders a bottle of Moët and two glasses, keeping her other arm wrapped almost possessively around Eve’s waist. When she has finished talking to the bartender, she turns her attention to Niko for the first time.

“And you must be Niko.”

Eve doesn’t think she’s ever felt this awkward, caught between her ex-husband and her supposed current girlfriend. She doesn’t know what she expected really, by putting herself in a situation where these two would be able to interact, but realises quickly that she should have prepared herself for what would happen when they met.

Eve wishes that she could just teleport herself and Villanelle out of this conversation.

Villanelle’s laugh - or perhaps it is Julie’s laugh - high-pitched and forced, cuts through the silence.

“God, this is so weird!” she acknowledges. Villanelle stares at Niko, as if expecting him to say something in agreement, but when he doesn’t she continues, “We’ve both shagged the same woman!”

“Vi-” Eve catches herself just before she slips up and correct herself. “Julie.”

“Come on, Eve, we’re all adults here,” says Villanelle, her hand dropping lower so that it’s almost-but-not-quite groping Eve’s ass. “You’re not normally shy about this stuff. I’m sure Niko gets it, right Niko?”

“Right.”

“Anyway, congratulations. I hope you and your wife will be very happy together.”

It’s the politest ‘fuck off’ that Eve has ever heard, but it seems to do the job. Niko glances between them for a few more seconds, his eyes falling to the hand slung low on Eve’s hip, but then he clenches his jaw and walks away, back towards where his new wife is dancing with her bridesmaids.

Villanelle waits just long enough for him to get out of earshot, then whispers, “I think he is jealous.”

Eve disentangles herself from Villanelle’s arms and suppresses a snort.

“Jealous? Don’t be ridiculous, Niko hasn’t been interested in me for a long time.”

“No,” Villanelle corrects Eve, “he isn’t jealous of me. He’s jealous of you.”

Eve doesn’t quite understand.

“Why would he be jealous of me?”

“Because he’s moved on with a boring teacher and you’ve moved on with me.”

This time the snort can’t be stopped. It’s ugly and abrasive but Eve is helpless to the sound that leaves her following that particular comment from Villanelle.

“Okay, I don’t think this room is big enough for that ego.”

“I’m just being honest!” Villanelle protests, passing a few notes across to the bartender as he brings over their bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice. “I’m definitely an improvement. Let’s drink.”

Eve watches Villanelle’s deft fingers tear off the seal and unwind the muselet with the expertise of somebody who has done this a million times before. But Eve doesn’t want to think about all the other clients that Villanelle has impressed with champagne. Villanelle pries the cork from its seal with a not-so-subtle pop, and the bubbles within spill over the back of Villanelle’s hand as she rushes to fill the glasses without wasting champagne.

“To us,” says Villanelle, dropping the bottle back into the bucket of ice while she raises one of the glasses aloft with her other hand.

Eve picks up the other glass and nudges it against Villanelle’s with a soft clink.

“To us.”

Villanelle takes a sip and then murmurs in a low voice, “I think the moustache is still watching us.”

Eve’s eyes wander past Villanelle and fall on Niko who, despite being talked at by the woman he married mere hours ago, seems to have his attention on the two women by the bar. Eve makes brief eye contact with him, but glances away quickly, taking a swift drink from her own champagne flute for bravery before she gives Villanelle a bold instruction.

“Kiss me.”

Villanelle’s eyes widen in surprise and her gaze momentarily flickers down to Eve’s lips, before shifting back up to her eyes.

“Are you sure?” she asks, leaning a little closer, like she can’t quite believe what Eve is asking of her.

“Yes,” Eve answers without hesitation. “Please.”

Villanelle’s smirk is back as she takes Eve’s champagne and sets both glasses down on the bar next to the bucket. She braces an arm on the bar on either side of Eve, trapping her between Villanelle and the wooden countertop, and suddenly they are close enough that Eve can see details in Villanelle’s face that she hasn’t noticed before - faint freckles and the mole next to her eye.

“Well, as you asked so nicely.”

Villanelle leans in and then, without the preamble that preceded their almost-kiss in Caffé Nero, presses her mouth to Eve’s with the ease and familiarity of somebody who has kissed Eve a thousand times before.

Which is what Eve wants people to think, but it’s so impossibly far from the truth.

Eve is pretty sure that her brain implodes at the contact of Villanelle’s lips against her own. Even though she asked for it, it still takes Eve by surprise. Nothing could have prepared her for the softness of Villanelle’s lips, nor the warmth of her body pressing Eve against the bar. Eve reaches out for something, anything to grab hold of that can anchor her to reality, but her fingers close around the material of Villanelle’s jacket, which only anchors her to the one thing that is making her head spin.

Villanelle’s lips are soft, so soft, like marshmallows floating on clouds and just as sweet too. When she slides them against Eve’s lips, gently prying Eve’s mouth open, she tastes of champagne. Kissing Villanelle makes Eve feel like she’s drinking straight from the champagne bottle, intoxicating and full of bad ideas, but oh so good in the moment.

And then, as if being pushed up against the bar and thoroughly kissed wasn’t enough, Villanelle’s hands drop and find the back of Eve’s thighs, hoisting her up with a hidden strength until Eve has no choice but to wrap her legs around Villanelle’s waist.

“What are you…?”

Eve mumbles the words against Villanelle’s lips, but Villanelle’s objective becomes obvious when she carries Eve a couple of feet to her left and deposits her on a bar stool. Their height difference now reversed, Eve decides to keep her legs wrapped around Villanelle’s middle as their lips meet again, trapping Villanelle against her.

Eve loses herself. There’s nobody around them anymore, just Eve and Villanelle, kissing in an empty void. What started as a performance for Niko has become about them, about this. About Eve kissing a pretty woman because she wants to and because Villanelle wants to kiss her back.

And Villanelle does kiss Eve like she wants to, not because it’s her job. One of her hands traces a path up Eve’s side, tracing around the outer swell of her breast and up the column of her neck, until her fingers bury themselves in Eve’s thick hair. It’s almost possessive but Eve relaxes into it, kissing Villanelle back with more tongue, with hands that wander beneath Villanelle’s jacket and scratch at her back through the thin material of her shirt.

Eve hates that she’s this into it, hates that she wasted so many years putting up with bristly moustache kisses when she could have had this, soft and messy and wonderful.

Villanelle pulls back and Eve tries to chase her mouth, already addicted to the taste of Villanelle’s mouth, but she’s too far away now, and the lips that were kissing Eve wear a smirk like Villanelle has just won first prize in a competition.

On the contrary, Eve thinks that she is the one who is winning.

Villanelle steps out from between Eve’s legs and reaches for the bucket of ice and her champagne flute.

As she saunters away, she shoots over her shoulder, “I told you we should have practiced.”

Chapter Text

Villanelle is speaking French.

Eve doesn’t understand a word, but she is mesmerised by the conversation between Villanelle and the French teacher at Niko’s school. Or at least, she’s mesmerised by half of the conversation. Eve couldn’t really care less about the French teacher.

The thing is, Eve can’t stop staring at Villanelle. Specifically, at her lips. Because now that she knows what Villanelle’s mouth feels like, what she tastes like, she just wants to kiss her again.

With that realisation, Eve drains her glass of Moët. She is far too sober for this situation.

“Would you like another, baby?” asks Villanelle, switching back to English as she reaches for the bottle, and really, who is Eve to say no?

“Thanks,” mumbles Eve, as Villanelle tops up her glass.

When both Eve’s and her own glass are full once more, Villanelle drops the bottle back in the bucket of ice and reverts to the conversation in French, though her hand slides across the tablecloth and covers Eve’s, a small sign of affection for anybody who might look their way.

And once again, Eve can’t tear her eyes away from Villanelle. Her face is so expressive when she talks, perhaps even more so when she is speaking French. Or maybe it is just the fact that Eve’s high school French from over twenty years ago can only pick out occasional words, and so Villanelle’s expressions are the only thing that Eve can understand.

Villanelle is incredibly pretty, Eve realises as she studies Villanelle’s face. In a purely objective way, of course, but Eve could get lost staring at her face for hours. She is the perfect combination of soft curves and hard lines, the smoothness of her unblemished skin contrasting against the angle of her jaw.

“You’re staring at me,” Villanelle comments after a while, interrupting her own conversation with the French teacher who Eve can’t be bothered to try and recall the name of, and the sharp arch of Villanelle’s eyebrow tells Eve that Villanelle knows exactly why she’s been staring.

Eve finds herself caught in a dilemma, wanting to both defend herself and pretend that she hasn’t been gawking at Villanelle, whilst simultaneously being aware of their surroundings and that the French teacher and her partner are watching them both intently.

And perhaps it is a surge of confidence given to her by the champagne, but instead of denying it, Eve instead says, “Of course I’m staring. You’re beautiful.”

It’s a fine line to tread, between wanting the people around them to think that she’s deadly serious and wanting to silently communicate to Villanelle that she’s only saying those words to keep up their act. Because she is pretending. One hundred percent Emmy-award-winning acting.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie. Ninety-eight percent, perhaps. And that two percent is only because Eve has been drinking. Not because Villanelle is breathtakingly beautiful. Or because despite the circumstances, Eve is actually really enjoying herself at her ex-husband’s wedding.

“Oh Eve,” says Villanelle, reaching up with both hands to cup Eve’s face, and then she is leaning in for another kiss.

At least Eve is prepared for this kiss. Or so she thinks. Eve still gasps when Villanelle’s lips meet hers, which Villanelle takes as an opportunity to swipe into Eve’s mouth with the barest trace of tongue. Eve tries to kiss back, tries to give the impression that this is the two hundredth kiss they’ve shared, not the second, but it’s kind of hard to concentrate on her own kissing skills when Villanelle’s hand moves back and her fingers start to do that with her hair.

And then, almost as soon as it has started, Villanelle pulls away again, a smirk on her lips and a flush to her cheeks.

“God, you’re so sexy,” she growls.

Eve glances at the French teacher out of the corner of her eye, who makes brief eye contact with Eve and then looks away quickly, like she would rather be anywhere other than sitting next to Eve and Villanelle while they fawn over each other, and in that moment Eve knows that this entire charade has done its job, that somehow people actually believe that Eve has moved on from Niko with a woman in her twenties.

“Come and dance with me, Eve,” says Villanelle, getting to her feet and grabbing Eve’s hand in an attempt to pull her out of her chair too.

“Oh, I don’t dance,” Eve tries to protest.

“Tonight you do.”

Eve reluctantly lets Villanelle drag her out of her seat and into the throng of dancing wedding guests at various levels of intoxication. Eve feels pleasantly buzzed, drunk enough to let Villanelle lead her onto the dance floor but still sober enough to feel self-conscious about it. Villanelle, on the other hand, throws her hands up in the air, closes her eyes, and dances like … well, like a twenty-five year old at a party.

Eve knows she can’t compete. She can’t even remember the last time she danced.

Instead, Eve sort of awkwardly shuffles from one foot to the other, moving her body like somebody who is embarrassed to be dancing and would rather be somewhere else. Which, in her defence, is exactly what she is.

“What are you doing?”

Villanelle’s eyes are open, staring at Eve as if she has grown a second head. Eve frowns in response, because she thinks it is pretty obvious what she’s doing.

“Dancing.”

Villanelle lets out a snort, barely audible over the music, and says, “That is not how you dance.”

“It’s how I dance!”

Eve tries to move her hips more, swaying them from side to side and moving her shoulders too. She tries to feel the music, to throw her whole body into it in the same way that Villanelle does.

“No,” says Villanelle, reaching out to place a hand on each of Eve’s arms, effectively stilling her. “That is not dancing. Where did you learn those moves?”

“I don’t know,” Eve shrugs. “Probably my senior prom in ‘92.”

“You left high school in 1992?” exclaims Villanelle. Her mouth falls open in a mixture of surprise and wonder, before she adds, almost seductively, “Eve, you are such a cougar.”

“Please tell me you were alive in ‘92,” pleads Eve, trying to do the math in her brain. “Actually, wait, I don’t want to know.”

Villanelle shrugs and answers, “I mean, I was conceived in ‘92…”

“Oh god…” groans Eve, lifting a palm to her forehead and closing her eyes. The age difference had been something she had sort of swept to the back of her mind until now, distantly aware that she was significantly older than the escort she’s hired but not enough to comprehend what that means. It’s only now with context, with the realisation that Villanelle was still in diapers when Eve was old enough to legally drink, that she realises how different they are.

“Hey, stop it,” says Villanelle, brushing a few loose strands of Eve’s hair out of the way and then cupping her cheek. “You’re beautiful. And besides, I have always preferred older women.”

Villanelle says these last words with a dark flint in her eye.

“Mommy issues?” asks Eve.

“No, of course not,” denies Villanelle, shaking her head. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“The escort with mommy issues,” says Eve, laughing softly under her breath. “That is such a cliché.”

Villanelle’s thumb dances across Eve’s cheek, and she murmurs, “What about the divorcee who starts questioning her sexuality the moment her moustachioed husband leaves her for another woman?”

Eve ducks away from the hand on her cheek, watching it drop limply to Villanelle’s side.

“Alright, number one,” she corrects Villanelle, “Niko started dating Gemma after we split up. And two, I am not questioning my sexuality. I know I’m straight.”

The lie is as much for Eve’s benefit as it is for Villanelle’s. Because she isn’t straight, that much has been clear for a while now, but Eve has this convoluted idea that if she tells herself that she can’t possibly be attracted to Villanelle, maybe she’ll start to actually believe that it’s true.

It’s a simple case of mind over matter.

Villanelle leans down so that her mouth is next to Eve’s ear, and when she speaks, her lips tickle the shell of Eve’s ear, sending goose bumps along both arms.

“Eve, after that kiss, I know you’re not.”

Eve’s eyes wander over to the bar, where she can still see the stool that she sat upon, legs wrapped around Villanelle’s waist in an attempt to get her as close as humanly possible when they kissed.

“And now,” continues Villanelle, placing a hand on each of Eve’s hips and spinning her around so that her back is flush against Villanelle’s front, “I’m going to teach you how to dance.”

Villanelle starts to move behind her, a firm hand on each side of Eve’s waist encouraging her to move too. Eve can feel each movement of Villanelle’s hips against her ass as they sway from side to side, far too slow to fit with the music but somehow that makes it all the more erotic, like they are trapped in their own bubble that doesn’t conform to what everybody else is doing.

“This isn’t dancing,” Eve breathes out, turning her head to the side so that Villanelle can hear her.

“Of course it is,” comes Villanelle’s reply, and their bodies are pressed so close together that Eve feels the vibrations of Villanelle’s voice against her spine.

Eve suppresses a moan as Villanelle’s hips push forward into her own. There’s an unspoken implication, like Villanelle is trying to show Eve what she can do with her hips. With this thought, Eve becomes aware of a throb between her legs and realises how turned on she is.

She spins in Villanelle’s arms until they are face to face, anything to stop Villanelle from grinding against her ass like that. The only problem is that now they are face to face and Eve has to try not to kiss her. Which, Eve would like to point out, is really fucking hard when Villanelle keeps her hands on Eve’s hips and looks at her like that.

“I need the bathroom,” says Eve, ducking out of Villanelle’s arms and taking a step back.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” answers Eve.

“Are you actually fine or are you just saying that?” frowns Villanelle.

“I’m fine,” repeats Eve. “Too much champagne. I just need the bathroom.”

She half expects Villanelle to follow her to the bathroom.

Villanelle doesn’t, or at least, Eve doesn’t think that Villanelle does until she flushes the toilet and steps out of the stall to find Villanelle checking her reflection in the mirror.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” comments Eve, lathering her hands up with soap and letting the hot water from the tap wash the suds away.

“I am very stealthy.”

Eve turns off the tap and grabs a paper towel from the dispenser to dry her wet hands.

“Have I told you yet that your hair is amazing?” asks Villanelle.

Eve looks across at Villanelle’s reflection in the mirror and finds it staring right back at her, the golden ring of her irises barely visibly around the black of her pupils.

“Um, yeah,” says Eve, absentmindedly running her fingers through her hair. “I think you mentioned it.”

Villanelle closes the gap between them and places one hand on each side of Eve’s head. She buries her fingers deep within Eve’s hair, fluffing it up to give it even more volume. Eve decides that the gesture is more intimate that anything she experienced with Niko in the last few years of their failed marriage and she lets out a shaky breath in response.

Villanelle’s eyes widen slightly in wonder.

“I make you nervous.”

“What? No!”

With Villanelle’s fingertips massaging her scalp, Eve’s body gives a traitorous shudder.

“It’s okay,” Villanelle says, her voice is low and gravelly. “You make me nervous too. I’m not usually this attracted to my clients.”

“Oh,” Eve manages to stammer. “Thanks, I guess.”

“You’re welcome.”

Eve’s arms hang limply at her side, unsure exactly what she is supposed to do with them. If only there was a guidebook for acceptable behaviour with your escort. Eve doesn’t know if she’s supposed to push Villanelle’s hands away or encourage her keep them exactly where they are.

If they were back out in the wedding reception, surrounded by other people, Eve knows exactly what she would do. She would arch into Villanelle’s touch, put her own hands on Villanelle’s waist. Perhaps even, emboldened by two and a half glasses of fizz, lean closer and press her lips to Villanelle’s.

But they are in private, and all of that is just a completely unnecessary hypothetical.

“There’s nobody else here,” Eve reminds Villanelle.

“I know.”

Villanelle’s hands drop, but only far enough that her forearms can rest on Eve’s shoulders.

“No, I meant…” Eve pauses to let out a shaky breath, then continues, “There’s nobody else here to see us. We don’t need to put on a show.”

Villanelle tilts her head to one side and her lips curl up into a smirk.

“Who said anything about putting on a show?” she asks in a low voice.

She takes a couple of steps forwards, nudging Eve back against the sink. Villanelle is as close as she was when they were kissing by the bar, as close as she was when her hands were on Eve’s hips as they danced together. Perhaps even closer. Eve feels giddy, and she knows that it’s not just the champagne going to her brain. Villanelle’s proximity is even more dangerously intoxicating than any alcohol.

“What if somebody walks in?”

Villanelle’s response does not come in the form of words, but instead in the way that she takes Eve’s hand and leads her into the furthest bathroom stall from the door, pushing open the plywood door and gesturing for Eve to step inside. Eve does, and then Villanelle follows her into the stall, closing and locking the door behind them.

“Better?”

The stall is far too small for two people, but what that means is that they end up flush against each other. Which, considering Eve’s current state of mind, hardly seems like a bad thing.

“Can I kiss you again?” asks Villanelle, and surely she must be able to hear Eve’s heartbeat, to feel Eve’s want, and does she really need to ask at all?

Which is why Eve is the one who initiates this kiss, pulling Villanelle in by the lapels of her jacket and planting an open-mouthed kiss on her lips. Villanelle is stunned for about half a second, then she pushes Eve against the wall of the stall with a wooden thud and kisses her right back, one hand returning to its favourite position in Eve’s hair, while the other clings to Eve’s waist.

Eve knows in the back of her mind that she shouldn’t be quite so consumed by Villanelle kissing her, knows that Villanelle probably does this with a lot of her clients - says just the right things and touches them in just the right places to seduce them into wanting her. It’s a business strategy, a ploy to secure repeat customers, but Eve will be damned if it isn’t working. She wants to throw all her money at Villanelle, to withdraw from her retirement savings if necessary, just to ensure that she has exclusive access to Villanelle’s services.

It’s a dangerous place for her mind to be in. She never expected this, not at all. Eve doesn’t know whether she should curse Hugo and his stupid ideas or present him with an expensive thank you gift when she turns up for work on Monday morning.

Villanelle’s teeth nip at her lower lip, and Eve realises that she really doesn’t want to be thinking of Hugo right now.

“Turn your mind off,” Villanelle murmurs against Eve’s lips. “Just feel.”

So that is exactly what Eve does. She feels. Specifically, she feels the hard muscles of Villanelle’s back through the thin material of her shirt. Even through the fabric, Villanelle’s skin scorches Eve’s palms, but she can’t tear her hand away, wrought on a path to self-destruction with each movement of Villanelle’s lips on her own.

“God, Eve,” groans Villanelle, and Eve decides that she has never liked her name more than the way it sounds when it spills from Villanelle’s lips. “You are so sexy.”

Eve doesn’t remember the last time she was called sexy. She doesn’t remember the last time somebody kissed her like they wanted her.

And Eve can’t help but wonder if this is more. More than just an escort seducing her client for money. Or if that is all just in her imagination.

All thought gets knocked pretty effectively from Eve’s mind when Villanelle’s mouth goes to her neck. Villanelle sweeps Eve’s hair aside and presses her lips to a spot just below Eve’s ear that has her gasping. Her own hand finds the back of Villanelle’s head and just holds her there, keeping Villanelle’s mouth against her neck as teeth nip at the fluttering pulse below the line of her jaw.

Villanelle’s hand drops to Eve’s ass and gives it a firm squeeze, and oh god Eve is so close to just succumbing to the advances, to saying fuck it and letting an escort screw her in a cramped bathroom stall at her ex-husband’s wedding.

You have sex with your clients? Eve recalls asking the question at their first meeting and being shocked by the concept, only now she gets it. It would be so easy to let it happen.

Only the special ones, came Villanelle’s reply.

Special? Is Eve special? Villanelle is special - her lips are special, and her hands are too - but Eve feels pretty ordinary in comparison. Definitely not special.

“We should stop,” Eve gasps out, though her actions say the opposite as she tries to pull Villanelle impossibly closer.

“Are you sure?” asks Villanelle, whose teeth bite at Eve’s neck hard enough to surely leave a mark.

“I’m not paying you for sex,” explains Eve.

Villanelle lifts her mouth from Eve’s neck so that she can look at Eve, using one of her hands to brush some stray hairs out of Eve’s face.

“It’s okay, the time you paid me for is nearly finished,” Villanelle informs her. “You wouldn’t be paying me for the sex.”

“I know,” Eve agrees, letting her hands drop to her sides, “because we’re not going to have sex at all.”

Eve watches as Villanelle’s face goes through a range of emotions, surprise through disappointment to stony-faced acceptance.

“Is this because we’re in a toilet cubicle or…?”

“It’s because I don’t want to have sex with you,” says Eve bluntly.

The ache between Eve’s thighs says the opposite. Eve wonders if she’s ever been this consumed by want before. The rational part of her brain, the part telling her to walk away before she gets trapped, only just wins out over the part of her brain controlled by her sexual desires.

“Um, rude,” says Villanelle, rolling her eyes. “Of course you want to have sex with me.”

Despite her words, Villanelle does take half a step back, giving Eve enough space as is possible in the cramped cubicle. Eve inhales deeply to calm her racing heart, then does the sensible thing and unbolts the door, stepping out of the stall. She is greeted by her reflection in the mirror opposite, hair more unruly than usual, cheeks flushed and lipstick slightly smudged. She looks exactly how she feels - like she’s just been thoroughly kissed.

There is one thing that the mirror doesn’t show her, and that is the ache in her chest, the product of mixed desire and confusion.

“Do you want me to take you home?” asks Villanelle. “No funny business, I promise.”

She emerges from the stall looking altogether more composed than Eve. It’s just another day at work for her, Eve supposes. The realisation only makes the ache grow stronger.

“Are you safe to drive? I don’t mind calling an Uber.”

“I’m fine,” Villanelle dismisses the question with a casual wave of her hand. “I barely even touched my second glass of champagne.”

“Thank you,” Eve says politely. “I would appreciate a lift home.”

It feels incredibly forced for a conversation between two people who had their tongues in each other’s mouths not even two minutes ago.

“Okay,” says Villanelle. “Let’s go.”


The car ride back to Eve’s house is a short one. They don’t talk, instead Villanelle puts the car’s radio on, blasting out hits from the 80s and humming along under her breath.

Eve is grateful for the lack of conversation. It’s been a surreal day, one of those ones that feels like it has been going on for weeks. Eve’s brain is in overdrive, her thoughts like tiny little cars speeding around a track, each one whizzing past at too high of a speed for her to be able to focus on any individually.

Eve steals glances at Villanelle the entire drive home. With her jacket discarded somewhere in the back of the car, Villanelle has rolled her shirt sleeves up to her elbows to expose her forearms, the tendons in her wrists visible beneath her skin from the way that she grips the steering wheel. At some point between leaving the bathroom at the wedding reception and getting into the car, Villanelle pushed her hair up into a loose bun on top of her head, the result being that Eve has now has a perfect view of Villanelle’s profile, dangerous jawline exposed in all its magnificent glory.

Eve knows that her attraction to Villanelle is only superficial. Objectively, Villanelle is young and hot. And charming, Eve supposes, if that’s what you’re into. Which, as it turns out, Eve is into after a couple of glasses of champagne.

So, yes, Eve decides that the day has been a success. She had a reasonably good time at the wedding of her ex-husband - a feat which is almost entirely down to the presence of the woman currently driving her home. Mission accomplished.

“I had a great time today,” says Villanelle, speaking up for the first time since getting into the car, just as she signals to pull up at the side of the road outside Eve’s house. “Did you have fun?”

With the car at a standstill, Villanelle turns to look at Eve as she waits for an answer.

“I suppose I did,” Eve answers truthfully. “Thank you.”

It feels oddly like the end of an actual date, rather than a pre-agreed business contract. Eve wonders momentarily if she’s supposed to root around in her clutch bag for a few notes she can give to Villanelle as a tip, just to remind herself of what this is. She really should have googled the etiquette for saying goodbye to an escort.

“We could do this again, if you like?”

It really does feel like a date. Eve tries to suppress the fluttering in her chest at Villanelle’s words, knowing that Villanelle is only suggesting it because she needs a means to be able to pay her bills.

Eve laughs it off as a joke.

“Mm, I think my other ex-husband is getting married in a few weeks so…”

“I do more than weddings,” interjects Villanelle. “Family events, office parties...”

“I will have to think about it,” says Eve, in an attempt to be diplomatic, knowing full well that there is no way that she will be making use of Villanelle’s services again.

Villanelle leans across the console and places a hand on Eve’s knee, before she adds in a low voice, “I even do private dinners. If that’s your thing?”

Eve stares straight ahead through the windscreen, watching a cat that prowls along the front wall of a house two doors down from Eve’s own, anything to stop her from being drawn into Villanelle’s dangerous eyes.

“Like I said before, none of this is really my thing,” Eve tries to explain. “I just needed a date for the wedding.”

Kissing Villanelle in the bathroom stall was definitely Eve’s thing, but she decides to let that one slide.

Much to Eve’s relief, so does Villanelle.

“It’s okay,” says Villanelle. “My diary is quite full anyway. I have a lot of other clients.”

Eve feels her gut clench in jealousy. She hates the thought of there being others just like her who have succumbed to Villanelle’s charm. And then she hates that she has even allowed Villanelle to make her feel this way in the first place.

“Okay, well, bye,” says Eve abruptly, leaning down to pick up the raincoat that she discarded in the footwell at Villanelle’s request upon arriving at the church earlier in the day. “And thanks.”

As she opens the Porsche’s passenger door and steps out onto the sidewalk, she can feel Villanelle’s eyes burning holes into her back.

The only small victory that Eve can take from this is that she doesn’t give Villanelle the satisfaction of turning back.

 

Chapter Text

“Good morning, Villanelle.”

Konstantin’s voice startles Villanelle out of unconsciousness and very nearly out of her own bed.

“You cannot just break into my apartment like this!” she complains loudly, when she spots Konstantin lounging in the armchair across the room.

“I did not break in,” counters Konstantin, holding up a jingling set of keys. “I have a key.”

Villanelle lets him know exactly how she feels about that by pulling a face.

“That is so creepy. Do you enjoy watching me sleep?”

Konstantin ignores her question and instead asks one of his own.

“How was the wedding?”

Villanelle sits up in bed, keeping her silk covers across her lap, and smiles to herself at the memories from yesterday, of pushing Eve up against the bar and kissing her, of pushing Eve up against the bathroom stall and kissing her…

“I had a good time,” Villanelle tells him. “I don’t think Eve is straight anymore.”

Konstantin shakes his head disapprovingly and asks, “What did you do?”

“Nothing she didn’t want me to.”

As Villanelle remembers what it felt like to have Eve’s body trapped between her own and the wall of the bathroom stall, she feels a familiar stirring between her legs, and internally curses Konstantin’s presence that stops her from being able to take care of herself.

“Have you got anything interesting to say or are you just here to annoy me?” Villanelle growls irritably.

Konstantin pushes himself up out of the chair and reaches a hand inside his coat, pulling out a brown envelope, which he tosses at Villanelle.

“Your payment.”

She looks inside the envelope, satisfied with the stack of crisp notes. Of course, getting to kiss Eve was almost payment enough, but Villanelle will never turn down money. Her mind starts running wild with all the things she could buy with this money - perhaps she could treat herself to a new jacket or some designer boots? Yes, she decides, some boots would be nice. And perhaps a bottle or two of expensive champagne for her fridge, a pleasant reminder of what Eve’s mouth tasted like the first time that Villanelle kissed her by the bar.

“Does she want to see me again?”

Konstantin stares at her blankly.

“I don’t know.”

“I bet she will,” boasts Villanelle, remembering the way that Eve’s hands had clawed at her back, pulling her closer. If they had been wearing fewer clothes, Eve’s fingernails would have scratched marks into her, and Villanelle’s back would look like a work of abstract art this morning, adorned with red lines that stay as evidence of how much Eve had wanted her. “Can I have her phone number?”

“No,” Konstantin shoots her down immediately. “That would be inappropriate. If she calls me again, I will let you know.”

Konstantin’s refusal to pass on Eve’s contact details will be an easy hurdle for Villanelle to jump over. There are other methods she can use to get in touch with Eve. Villanelle already knows Eve’s full name and her home address.

That is, if Eve doesn’t get in touch with her first. It might be just as fun to wait for Eve to hire her again - and Villanelle knows that Eve will. That even if Eve goes into denial at first and insists that she doesn’t need to hire an escort again, she will eventually be powerless to fight that magnetic pull between them.

Yes, Villanelle knows that it will just be a matter of time before she has Eve in her arms once more.

“I know that face,” Konstantin’s gruff voice cuts through Villanelle’s fantasies. “You are plotting something.”

“No, I’m not. I’m trying to remember if I have bagels in my kitchen.”

Konstantin points a warning finger at her.

“Behave,” he orders her. “You should go out and see London. Find a museum, or something.”

“Museums are boring,” whines Villanelle.

“Then find another way to entertain yourself until you get your next job.”

“Okay!” Villanelle half yells in frustration. “Get out of my apartment so I can take a bath!”


Eve doesn’t stop thinking about Villanelle all weekend.

It’s quite surreal actually, to spend forty-five years on this planet and to suddenly experience such an earth-shattering moment.

It’s not the first time she’s ever been attracted to a woman, of course it’s not. There was Eve’s mild infatuation with Nancy Palmer in high school, a girl two years above her who she always thought she just really admired, and who happened to make Eve quite giddy that one time they made eye contact outside the science block. And Eve was always slightly too invested in the X-Files when it was on the television, but really which self-respecting person, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, wouldn’t have a little bit of a crush on Gillian Anderson?

But being married to a man for fifteen years made it pretty easy to ignore any attraction Eve had to other women. She’s never needed at act on it, so it all seemed pretty irrelevant.

Until now.

Eve tries to tell herself that it is just Villanelle’s job. The woman gets paid to do this, to charm the client and be exactly what they need.

And who knew that what Eve needed was a damn good makeout session in a bathroom? Eve didn’t, that’s for sure. Not until she was right there in the moment, with Villanelle’s hand on her ass and her mouth on Eve’s neck, and then it was just a whirlwind of oh shit and yes just like that.

So that’s a fun new development in Eve’s life - she can’t stop thinking about her twenty-five year old escort’s mouth.

Returning to work on Monday is as unpleasant and unwelcome as falling through the ice on a frozen lake. Eve is forcibly submerged back into the world of answering emails and trying to find the right size staples for the stapler on her desk so that she can finally submit a report that was due on Friday to Carolyn.

She wonders what Villanelle’s Monday morning looks like, whether she’s sipping another iced coffee in Caffè Nero with her next client, some other fool that will get charmed by Villanelle’s quick wit. Whether Eve has even crossed her mind at all since the wedding.

Eve needs to stop dwelling.

She also really needs to find those damn staples.

“Does anybody have a stapler that actually works?”

Elena glides across the room on her office chair, a stapler in her hand.

“Here, borrow mine.”

“You’re a lifesaver,” Eve says with a grateful smile, taking the stapler so that she can use it to secure together the pages of her report.

“So, how was the wedding?” asks Elena. “That was this weekend, right?”

“Yeah, it was,” nods Eve. “It was fine actually.”

Elena leans forward in her chair, eyes shining at the prospect of new gossip, as she asks, “And Julie?”

Eve’s mind goes back to the bathroom stall for a split second, and one of Villanelle’s moans reverberates around her skull.

“I think she enjoyed herself,” replies Eve, without missing a beat.

“I bet. So, when do we get to meet her?”

Eve’s eyes widen and she shakes her head.

“I don’t think that’s really…”

“Well, she met your ex-husband,” interjects Elena. “Isn’t it about time you introduced her to the people you work with every day? Or are you ashamed of us?”

More like ashamed of the fact that her fake girlfriend is actually an escort. But Eve can’t admit that to Elena, not without having to concede how tragic the life of a forty-five year old divorced government employee actually is. In fact, maybe Eve should admit that to Elena, just so that she can take preventative measures to ensure that her own life doesn’t end up in a similar place fifteen years down the road.

“I don’t know if you’d like her,” Eve tries to protest.

As if anybody wouldn’t be charmed within a few minutes of meeting Villanelle.

“Let’s find out! How about a double date?” suggests Elena. “You and Julie, me and Kenny. Does Friday work?”

Eve has run out of excuses.

“I’d have to check with Julie,” she shrugs. Remembering Villanelle’s parting words to her as she dropped Eve off after the wedding, Eve echoes, “Her diary is quite full.”

“Check with her then. Dinner on Friday.”

Hugo saunters across the office and leans on Eve’s desk.

“Am I invited?” he asks.

Elena looks at Eve, as if to consult her for her opinion, then answers, “If you can find a date by Friday, then yes.”

Hugo would normally be the very last person Eve would want to introduce a prospective partner to, but as the only person who knows Villanelle’s true identity, Eve decides that she would appreciate having Hugo there as an ally.

“Sure,” Eve agrees with Elena. “Come along.”

Hugo grins at Eve and says, “I can’t wait to meet your girlfriend.”

Eve tucks her freshly stapled report back into its brown folder, ready to pass onto Carolyn. She leans down in her chair and sends a hand into the bag beneath her desk, rooting around for a few seconds until her fingers locate her phone. Eve slyly drops her phone into the pocket of her pants, then stands up with the folder in her other hand.

“I’m going to take this to Carolyn,” she announces to the room, before she leaves the office.

Carolyn, almost predictably, seems as disinterested in Eve’s report as she does about the fact that it was supposed to be given to her before the weekend. She instructs Eve to drop it on top of a stack of similar files on her desk without even looking up from her laptop.

Eve takes a detour to the women’s bathroom on the way back to her office. She locks herself in a stall and withdraws her phone from her pocket, dialling one of her most recent contacts.

The call goes through after two rings.

“Konstantin? Hi, it’s Eve Polastri. I was just calling you to ask if Villanelle is free on Friday evening?”

“Hello, Eve,” Konstantin’s voice crackles down the speaker of Eve’s phone. “Let me just check for you.”

“Thank you.”

Eve leans her back against the stall door and trying not to let her mind wander to the last time she was in a public bathroom, just two days ago. She can almost feel the warmth of Villanelle’s body pressed flush against her own, and it stokes something deep in the pit of her abdomen.

“Yes, she is free,” Konstantin speaks up after a few seconds of silence. “What would you like to book her for?”

Eve feels her pulse quicken at the confirmation that Villanelle is free again on Friday. It’s a dangerous game that she’s playing, throwing herself back into Villanelle’s clawed grasp, especially after she swore to herself that she would never see Villanelle again. But it’s just once more, a dinner with Eve’s colleagues to sell her fake relationship to them, and then she and Villanelle can go through a carefully contrived break-up and part ways forever.

Eve just needs to get through this one night.

“Just a dinner with friends,” Eve informs him. “I’m not quite sure when and where yet, I just wanted to check her availability. I would need her to play the same part again.”

“I have pencilled you into her diary,” Konstantin informs her. “If you can let me know the details soon then I will email you a confirmation and the billing details.”

“Thank you.”

Eve feels a fluttering in her gut and doesn’t know if it is excitement or anxiety.

Chapter Text

“You’re wearing that coat again.”

Eve taps her Oyster card against the scanner and pushes through the turnstile to leave the tube station. As Villanelle follows behind her, Eve smooths down the waterproof material of the trusty coat she wears over her dress.

“Of course I’m wearing it. It’s my coat.”

Villanelle snorts under her breath.

“You should get a nicer coat. Julie would buy her girlfriend a nicer coat.”

Eve ignores everything she knows about London etiquette and stops walking to turn towards Villanelle, earning herself a few angry glares from the harried commuters that have to weave around them.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with this coat,” Eve insists.

Villanelle grimaces and pushes past Eve, as she says, “Whatever you say, boss.” 

Eve follows her down the street, walking as fast as her two-inch heels will allow until she catches up and falls into step with Villanelle.

“Do you remember everything you need to know for this dinner?”

“Of course I do,” Villanelle replies snippily. “Elena is going out with Kenny. I will recognise them because they saw us on our first date. And your other co-worker is … no, don’t tell me. Harry? Horatio?”

“Hugo,” Eve prompts her.

“Hugo,” Villanelle says, her face screwed up in concentration as she tries to commit this detail to memory. “And his date?”

“I don’t know her name,” admits Eve. She only knows that Hugo promised to bring somebody along. “She might be one of your colleagues, actually. He has a habit of hiring escorts.”

Villanelle shrugs indifferently and explains, “I don’t know any of the others. It’s not like we have company parties.”

“Speaking of Hugo,” adds Eve. “He knows that I’ve hired you. The rest of them don’t.”

“Got it,” Villanelle assures her with a smile. “Julie will charm the shit out of them.”

Villanelle’s hand finds Eve’s and links their fingers together. Eve is about to question the gesture, when Villanelle stops on the pavement and pulls open the glass door to the restaurant Elena has booked for dinner. She holds the door open for Eve to enter, then follows behind with their hands hanging entwined between them. When Eve spots Elena and Kenny already sitting at the bar sipping on drinks, Eve realises that the handholding is for show and appreciates that Villanelle is making an effort to maintain their act.

“Eve!” Elena greets her enthusiastically, placing her brightly coloured cocktail down on the bar and hopping down from the stool to welcome Eve with a hug. “And you must be Julie.”

Eve watches as Villanelle gets swept up into a hug too.

“Elena, right?” Villanelle asks, in Julie’s English accent. She turns to Kenny, who stands awkwardly with a pint of pale beer in his hand, before she says, “And you’re Kenny? Are you a hugger as well?”

Kenny shakes his head and answers, “It’s fine.”

“Now we just need Hugo and his flavour of the week,” says Elena. “I bet you a tenner she’s blonde and has fake tits.”

“I’ll take you up on that one,” interjects Villanelle, holding out a hand for Elena to shake.

Elena accepts the handshake, then turns to Eve, impressed.

“I like this one already!”

Eve breathes an internal sigh of relief as the worry that Elena and Kenny would immediately see through this ruse dissipates. 

“Should we get drinks while we wait?” Eve asks Villanelle, reaching for her purse. 

“Let me,” says Villanelle, leaning on the bar and catching the attention of a bartender with a wave of her fingers. “Two gin and tonics, please.”

Eve tries not to let the surprise show on her face. She doesn’t recall ever telling Villanelle what she likes to drink. And they definitely didn’t drink gin at the wedding, only champagne that cost more that Eve is usually prepared to spend on a drink. She wraps an arm around Villanelle’s waist for show, then pushes herself up onto her tiptoes to whisper into Villanelle’s ear.

“How do you know I drink gin and tonic?”

Villanelle looks at Eve like the answer is obvious.

“Lucky guess.”

Eve remembers that Villanelle reads people for a living, that she is a chameleon who adapts to whichever situation her clients put her in. And she’s definitely earning her fee.

“Ladies and Kenny! It’s a pleasure as always!”

Hugo’s booming upper-class voice is unmistakable as he enters the restaurant. The girl on his arm is pretty generic, wearing a tight black dress that falls to her mid-thigh and her blonde hair is styled in waves over her shoulder.

“This is Cleo,” Hugo introduces her to the group.

Beside Eve, Villanelle lets out an inelegant snort. All eyes turn to her.

“Oh,” says Villanelle, eye widening in realisation. “That’s her real name?”

“Shall we go to our table?” Elena is quick to ask, before Villanelle can get herself into any more trouble. “The booth in the corner is ours.”

Their gin and tonic drinks come in two giant fishbowl-shaped glasses and Villanelle picks up one in each hand, following the rest of the group to their table. Eve reaches out and catches Villanelle’s elbow with her hand, pulling her back just enough to whisper into Villanelle’s ear.

“Be kind,” Eve warns Villanelle.

The table in the corner is circular, with a faux-leather bench curving around most of it and two cushioned chairs making up the remaining seats. Eve slides herself around the bench next to Hugo and Villanelle follows her, sitting far closer to Eve than is really necessary. Villanelle’s thigh nudges against Eve’s, like a reminder that she’s there.

Not that Eve needs one. She is hyper-aware of every movement that Villanelle makes at her side.

Eve takes a sip from her gin and tonic and opens the menu to peruse, as Elena strikes up a conversation with Hugo’s date across the table.

“So, Cleo, how do you know Hugo?”

Cleo places her phone face down on the table and then replies, almost disinterestedly, “I don’t really know him. Not yet.”

Eve’s first thought as Cleo speaks is that Hugo seems to have found the one person in London with a posher accent than his own. They certainly seem well-suited to each other in that respect, though Eve knows Hugo well enough after working alongside him for a few months to know that there is only one reason he’s interested in Cleo, and it definitely isn’t her inheritance.

“We met on Tinder,” explains Hugo, when Elena gives Cleo’s response a curious look.

Beside Eve, Villanelle makes another little noise of disparagement.

“You use dating apps?” she asks, almost scornfully.

Across the table, Elena’s head jerks up.

“Isn’t that how you met Eve?” Elena asks, a confused frown etched on her face as her eyes flicker between Eve and Villanelle.

Eve feels her insides lurch horribly in her chest, like she’s on a high-speed rollercoaster taking a loop-the-loop. Her fake relationship is crumbling at its first close inspection due to her own careless oversight to not brief Villanelle on exactly what her friends have been told about them.

Thankfully for Eve, Villanelle is ever the professional and manages to give a response without even flinching.

“Oh, it is,” answers Villanelle. “But it’s harder to meet people in real life when you aren’t straight.”

Eve almost sends her drink flying with her haste to reach for the glass, lifting it to her lips and knocking back almost half in one long gulp.

“Sorry,” interjects Cleo, leaning forward in her seat and pointing a finger between Eve and Villanelle, “but did I hear that correctly? You two are together?”

Eve doesn’t know if Cleo’s words are judgemental or if it’s just that her accent makes everything sound a little snooty, but the taste of gin in Eve’s mouth sours as she hears these words. Villanelle reacts too, her fingers tightening on Eve’s thigh.

“Of course,” Villanelle replies. “Did you think we were just friends?”

Cleo just shrugs and says, “You don’t look like a normal couple, that’s all.”

Villanelle’s nails dig into Eve’s leg through the material of her dress. Eve covers Villanelle’s hand with her own in a silent reassurance.

“Normal?” Villanelle echoes back. “What do you mean by normal?”

Eve can feel the tension start to linger over their table, like a dark cloud just waiting to empty itself in a downpour over their heads. She feels powerless to stop it, unable to think of the right words to say, and so she just grips Villanelle’s hand tighter, hoping that they don’t get swept away in the storm.

“What even is normal these days?” interjects Elena, eyes wide in desperation to rectify a dinner that has gone downhill before they’ve even placed an order for food. “Right, Kenny?”

Kenny looks like he could quite happily sink into his chair and through the floor to get out of this situation. If it were possible, Eve thinks that she would probably follow suit.

Normal?” Villanelle half-growls through clenched teeth, a hint of her Russian accent just starting to creep in around the edge of the word.

It’s animalistic and arousing and Eve really shouldn’t be getting turned on by her escort pretending to jump to her defence, but Villanelle is enrapturing and so incredibly convincing. And when Eve notices that Villanelle’s other hand, the one not digging crescents into her thigh with clipped nails, is curled around the handle of a fork so tightly that Villanelle’s knuckles have gone white, Eve definitely does not imagine her climbing across the table and plunging the utensil into Cleo’s neck.

No, she definitely doesn’t. Because that would make Eve crazy. 

“I don’t mean that being gay isn’t normal,” Cleo attempts to justify herself. “I knew a gay person at uni. Just that, you know, Eve is quite a bit older than you are.”

Eve honestly doesn’t give a shit about what Cleo has to say. The only thing that matters is Villanelle’s reaction. And Villanelle is glaring at Cleo with ferocity in her eyes like none that Eve has ever seen before.

It’s really fucking hot.

“Why does it matter how old we are?” demands Villanelle. “You don’t choose who you fall for.”

“Lots of things get better with age,” Elena attempts to mediate. “Wine. Cheese.” She pauses, then adds, “ABBA songs. You know, I just love their music even more each time I listen to it.”

Hugo leans forward slightly in his seat, addressing both Villanelle and Cleo as he asks, “How about we just forget that Cleo said anything and start again? Right, Eve?”

He turns to look at Eve at the end, like he is seeking her support. As if Eve could stand by anybody except Villanelle in this situation.

“I think that sounds like a great idea,” Elena agrees, shooting Eve a pointed look.

Eve opens her mouth to form a half-assed response, but is saved by the arrival of a waitress, who flips open her pad of paper and takes a pencil out of the breast pocket of her shirt.

“Hi, I’m Lucy,” she greets them all with the forced smile of somebody who has been on her feet for too long without a break. “I’ll be serving you today. Are you ready to order?”

Ignoring the waitress, Villanelle pries her hand from underneath Eve’s and slides off the bench so that she can stand up.

“For the record, I think normal is boring,” Villanelle shoots at Cleo. “I’m going to the bathroom.” Before she departs, she addresses the waiter and says, with forced politeness, “I’ll have the seafood platter, please.”

Eve can only watch as Villanelle weaves between the tables to get to the door to the ladies’ bathroom at the back of the restaurant. 

At the other end of the curved bench, Cleo huffs and shakes her head, before getting to her feet as well.

“This is the weirdest Tinder date I’ve ever been on,” she announces to them all. As she picks up her coat and slips her arms into the sleeves, she turns to Hugo and says, “Don’t call me.”

Hugo’s mouth opens as if he is going to protest, then promptly shuts again as Cleo walks away from their table and leaves the restaurant. He looks across at Eve with confusion on his face.

“Shall I come back in a few minutes?” the waitress asks them, tucking her pencil back into her shirt pocket, her eyes wide as if she can’t quite comprehend the spectacle for which she’s just had an accidental front row seat.

Eve reaches for her glass and drains the rest in one long gulp, barely even wincing at the taste of too much gin at once. The ice in the bottom of the glass clinks as she puts it back onto the table.

“I should check on Julie,” she tells her three dumbfounded colleagues, sliding along the bench and standing up too. Before she follows Villanelle to the bathroom Eve smiles politely at the waitress and says, “The mushroom risotto and another gin and tonic, please.”

When Eve pushes open the door to the women’s bathroom, it is to find that Villanelle standing in front of the mirror that covers one wall, one hand braced on either side of a sink. There are four bathroom stalls and all of them are empty, so Eve lets the door swing closed behind her, shutting out the sounds of the restaurant, and goes to stand at Villanelle’s side.

“You were so convincing!” Eve congratulates her, nudging her hip against Villanelle’s. “Jumping to my defence like that? I don’t think any of them are doubting that we’re together.”

Villanelle’s response is nothing more than heavy breathing, and Eve looks at Villanelle’s reflection in the mirror. Her jaw is clenched and her eyebrows are buried in a deep scowl. When Eve spots a flash of silver, she realises that Villanelle is still clutching the gleaming fork in one of her fists.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

Eve rests a comforting arm on Villanelle’s forearm but withdraws it again after she watches Villanelle’s reflection flinch under the touch.

“I don’t like disrespectful people,” growls Villanelle, her Russian accent even more pronounced than usual in her anger. “She was so rude!”

“She’s gone now,” Eve tries to reassure Villanelle. “She left the restaurant. And I think Hugo is feeling a little sheepish.”

“I could kill her!”

Villanelle has always been beautiful in a breath-snatched-from-Eve’s-lungs kind of way, but when she’s like this, angry and feral and clutching a piece of cutlery like she could use it to take somebody else’s life, Eve feels pretty much ready to get down on her knees and commit herself to Villanelle for the rest of eternity.

Except that Villanelle is supposed to be pretending to be Julie to impress all of Eve’s friends, not committing a murder in front of them all with a blunt piece of silverware.

“Hey, no,” Eve says as she pries the fork from Villanelle’s fingers and places it on the granite counter next to the sink. “We’re not killing anybody.”

Villanelle pushes herself off from the sink and paces back and forth in front of the mirror. 

“You’re right,” she says, in a voice that is softer than before, “that would be a bad idea.”

Villanelle’s stops in front of Eve and takes one of Eve’s hands in each of hers. Her gaze meets Eve’s, full of worry, and her teeth chew anxiously at her lower lip.

“Have I ruined this?” she asks, almost like a child who has been caught in the wrong. 

“No, of course you haven’t…”

“I can call Konstantin and ask him to return your money,” suggests Villanelle, dropping one of Eve’s hands so that she can reach into her bra - of all places, her bra - and pull out her phone. “I haven’t been a very good escort.”

Eve wraps her fingers around Villanelle’s wrist, stopping her from doing anything with the phone.

“What are you talking about?” Eve half-laughs. “You were amazing! You made it seem like you actually care about me!”

Villanelle lets out a soft laugh and drops Eve’s other hand so that she can lift her fingers to Eve’s face, cupping Eve’s jaw and then tracing a path with her fingertips down Eve’s neck and across her collarbone. Eve shudders in response and wonders how a touch so light can make her feel so alive.

“Oh, Eve.”

The huskiness of Villanelle’s voice as she draws out Eve’s name somehow manages to suck all the moisture from Eve’s mouth like a sponge. Eve tries to swallow but finds that her throat is too dry.

“We should go back out there,” croaks Eve. “I ordered food too.”

Villanelle drops her hand and takes a step back, opening the bathroom door. She holds it open for Eve like nothing has happened, like they didn’t just have a moment in a restaurant bathroom.

“After you.”

As they make their way back to the table, weaving in and out of the other diners, Villanelle’s hands find Eve’s waist. She leans in close behind Eve, her hot breath hitting Eve’s bare shoulder, as she whispers, “I can’t believe you told them we met on Tinder.”

“I panicked, okay?” admits Eve, glancing over her shoulder as she walks, only to be met by an expression on Villanelle’s face akin to as if she has just stepped in something unpleasant. “They all seemed to believe it.”

“I will die before I use Tinder.”

When they reach the table, Eve is relieved to see that Cleo truly has gone for good. Elena, Hugo and Kenny are immersed in a conversation of their own that stops abruptly when they notice that Eve and Villanelle have returned.

“All good?” asks Elena, eyebrows raised in anticipation.

Eve drops back onto the bench and slides along to her seat from earlier, relieved to see that the waitress has replenished her gin and tonic in her absence.

“I think so,” answers Eve with a nod, lifting her fresh drink to her lips to take a sip. 

Villanelle retakes her own seat at Eve’s side.

“I’m sorry about your date, Hugo,” she says, almost convincingly remorseful.

“Oh, it’s fine,” Hugo assures Villanelle, dismissing her apology with a wave of his hand. “Don’t worry about it. She was hardly girlfriend material.” He leans closer, as if about to impart a huge secret, then adds, “I mean, she only got her degree from Durham.”

“We can always count on you for some casual elitism, can’t we, Hugo?” teases Elena.

And just like that, the tension from earlier has shifted, and Eve feels much more relaxed.

All trace of Villanelle’s earlier anger seems to have disappeared too. Her knee nudges almost playfully against Eve’s below that, while her hands rummage around in a small coin purse and produce a crumpled ten-pound note.

“Elena?” says Villanelle, offering the money out to Elena.

“What’s this for?” asks Elena, accepting the note and smoothing out its folded corner.

Villanelle leans closer to Elena and then, with a smirk on her face, says in a low voice, “Cleo’s tits were definitely fake.”

Chapter Text

Dinner is a delightfully smooth affair now that Cleo has left them. 

Julie, with her well-rehearsed anecdotes and one-liners, seems to charm Eve’s colleagues with an apparent ease. And Villanelle, whose hand has been seeking Eve’s thigh beneath the table whenever it can, inching higher up each time she does, is unwittingly doing a brilliant job of charming Eve.

Or maybe it is entirely intentional. With Villanelle, it’s quite difficult to tell.

“So, Julie,” says Elena, putting her cutlery down on her almost empty plate and wiping at her lips with her napkin. “Will you be joining Eve at the office Christmas party?”

“There’s an office Christmas party and you haven’t invited me?” asks Villanelle, lifting her hand from Eve’s leg and feigning outrage.

Eve feels her cheeks start to burn red as four pairs of eyes fall upon her.

It’s not that she doesn’t want to take Villanelle to the Christmas party (okay, maybe the idea of introducing her escort-slash-fake-girlfriend to Carolyn Martens does fill her with more than a little bit of anxiety), but rather that she never planned to see Villanelle beyond Niko’s wedding. But now, Eve is starting to feel like she’s spiralling down a path of no-return. A very expensive path of no-return. What with Christmas coming up, Eve’s bank account will definitely suffer if she transfers much more money to Villanelle’s escort agency.

“It’s just that this is all very new,” Eve gestures between herself and Villanelle. “I hadn’t thought about it yet. Besides, you might be busy with work.”

Villanelle grins around at the other three, then nudges Eve with her elbow as she says, “Eve, if you don’t want me there, you can just say.”

Eve leans into Villanelle and lets her lips graze the outer shell of Villanelle’s ear.

“We’ll talk about this later,” she whispers, just loud enough for the others to hear her.

“Sorry, Eve,” says Elena, and though she grimaces, there is a trace of glee in her voice too. “I’ve kind of dropped you in it, haven’t I?”

“It doesn’t matter,” lies Eve, as her brain already starts going into overtime to come up with separate excuses for both Elena and Villanelle as to why she will not be bringing a date to the party.

Exactly why Eve feels the need to justify to her escort why she will not be hiring her again, Eve isn’t entirely sure, only that she does feel as though she owes Villanelle an explanation.

“Shall we get the bill and move on?” asks Hugo. “There’s a place just around the corner that does deals on drinks on Friday nights. They might even do karaoke.”

Elena’s eyes light up and she mostly addresses Villanelle when she says, “Karaoke is so Eve’s thing.”

Villanelle feigns surprise, or perhaps it is genuine because her gaping mouth is very convincing.

“You kept that a secret.”

“Karaoke is not my thing,” Eve insists, shaking her head at Elena. She hesitates, then says, “It was possibly my thing one time but that was only after most of a bottle of wine.”

“I wish I could have been there to see it,” Villanelle says, resting her hand over Eve’s on the table for everybody else to see.

“There’s always tonight,” suggests Hugo. He nudges Eve and then teases her, “Another G and T should be enough to bring out the Disney tunes, right Eve?”

Once the bill has been settled, the group ambles down to the pub that Hugo suggested they visit. The streets are already full of people enjoying their Friday night; couples walking hand-in-hand, groups of rowdy boys who barely look old enough to be drinking, even a hen party carrying three-foot inflatable penises. Villanelle drapes her arm around Eve’s shoulder and Eve leans into the warmth of a body pressed against her side, letting her own arm snake around Villanelle’s waist beneath her jacket. Hugo, Kenny and Elena walk just ahead of them, far enough away that Villanelle and Eve can have a private conversation without being overheard.

“The office Christmas party, huh?” Villanelle asks in her own accent, nudging her hip against Eve’s as they walk.

“I’m not inviting you,” Eve tells her straight away.

“Why not?” complains Villanelle. “Are you planning on breaking up with me? You know, it’s very cruel to do it right before Christmas. Julie might have already bought you a really expensive new coat.”

Eve huffs in part indignation and part amusement. Villanelle’s vendetta against her perfectly practical coat entertains Eve, but it also makes her want to wear it more, just to invoke a reaction. 

Ahead of them, the other three duck into a pub, outside which a chalkboard emblazoned with the word ‘KARAOKE’ stands on the pavement. Eve follows them inside and holds the door open for Villanelle behind her.

“I can’t introduce you to my boss,” Eve attempts to justify as they step into the lively pub, shuddering at the thought of Carolyn meeting Villanelle. “I’m sure she’d see through it right away.”

Carolyn is pretty much the last person Eve wants Villanelle to meet. Carolyn, whose perception is frustrating and brilliant in equal measures. Carolyn, who knew that Eve’s marriage to Niko was never going to last way before Eve did. Carolyn, who Eve lied to about a case once and nearly lost her job as a result. Eve thinks that Carolyn could probably take one look at Villanelle and not only identify her as an escort, but quite possibly deduce Villanelle’s bank details, her sexual history, and her birth name too.

But Eve doesn’t feel as if that is enough of an excuse to give Villanelle.

Villanelle goes into full-charm mode and pulls Eve in close, fronts flush against each other, and her hands fall dangerously low on Eve’s hips.

“Am I not convincing enough?” she murmurs, leaning her forehead against Eve’s so that Eve has to go cross-eyed just to look at hers “Do you need me to be more convincing?”

Eve’s breath hitches in her chest. Villanelle’s fingers are mere inches away from groping her ass, and the fact that she makes no move to do so just turns Eve on more. She wonders if she can somehow trick Villanelle’s hands into moving, so as to avoid having to outright ask Villanelle to get more physical with her.

And Jesus, what has Eve’s life come to if all it takes are two gin and tonics and a hot twenty-five year old for her to start thinking like a horny college boy.

Eve realises that she really needs to get laid. Except that she can’t get laid, because her friends think she is dating the woman currently not-quite-groping her butt. Who is off-limits because she is an escort. And twenty-five. And a woman.

Okay, so maybe the woman thing isn’t really stopping Eve from getting laid. She has long-since stopped trying to pretend that her attraction to women is non-existent, and would be lying to herself if she said that she wasn’t at least a little bit curious about what it would be like to act upon that attraction.

It’s just, Eve tries to reason to herself, that it would be a lot less messy if the person she explored that attraction with was somebody other than Villanelle.

And that makes it doubly important for her to ‘dump’ Villanelle in the near future, so that she can get on top of (or underneath, Eve really isn’t fussy at this point) that curiosity.

“I lost you for a second,” Villanelle murmurs.

She brushes some of Eve’s wild hair out of the way, but in order to do so, Villanelle has to lift one of her hands from Eve’s hips. It’s the exact opposite of what Eve actually wants, but it does cause the fog clouding the rational part of her mind to shift a little.

“Just thinking,” Eve replies elusively.

“About…?” Villanelle presses her for more.

“Oi, lovebirds!” Elena interrupts them loudly, from a table at the back of the pub. “Are you joining us?”

“Shall we?” Villanelle asks, switching to Julie’s accent again.

She takes a step away from Eve and Eve mourns the loss of Villanelle’s body against her own. But it is short-lived, because Villanelle grapples for Eve’s hand and tangles their fingers together so that she can lead them both to the table that Elena has found at the back of the pub.

They pass Hugo on the way, who is walking in the opposite direction towards the bar with his wallet in his hand.

“I’m getting the first round,” he tells them. “What do you want?”

“Surprise us,” Villanelle challenges him. 

If Eve were more sound of mind, she would perhaps warn Villanelle that Hugo, who has too much money and not enough shame, is the last person anybody should be asking to surprise them. Eve really wouldn’t be surprised if Hugo returned to the table with a bottle of absinthe and had them all paralytic within about ten minutes.

Instead, Eve lets Villanelle lead her to the table and takes a seat opposite Kenny.

Kenny is the kind of person who thinks to bring a pack of cards to the pub, or at least the kind of person who keeps a pack of cards in his girlfriend’s bag so that it can be taken out when they go to the pub, and he’s already shuffling them when Eve and Villanelle join them at the table.

“Ooh, cards,” says Villanelle, eyes lighting up like a child who has spotted their favourite toy. “I like that game where you have to match the cards.”

“Snap?” supplies Kenny, arching an eyebrow.

“Snap!” Villanelle cries out in delight, clapping her hands together. “That’s it.”

“I think we’ll play something a little more highbrow than snap,” says Elena.

Eve realises that this is a glimpse at the real Villanelle, rather than the act that she is putting on for everybody.

“Whatever,” says Villanelle, keeping her Julie persona while also slumping back in her chair, a look of disappointment on her face. “But I’m really good at snap, just saying.”

“Do you know how to play Cheat, Julie?” asks Kenny, as he continues to shuffle the cards.

Villanelle glances across at Eve, as if waiting for the rules to be explained to her, then answers, “I know how to cheat at snap.”

“How do you cheat at snap?” Elena asks incredulously.

Villanelle never gets to answer that particular conundrum because Hugo returns at that exact moment, carrying a huge pitcher of beer in one hand and a tray of shots in the other. With him, is one of the bartenders, who carries another pitcher and a stack of glasses.

“Tequila, anybody?”

The drinks get set down on the table in front of them and Eve grimaces as she realises that in addition to the beer and the shots, Hugo has returned with a salt shaker and a plate of lime wedges.

“No tequila!” she protests. “Hugo, you know I don’t drink tequila!”

Villanelle, however, reaches for one of the lime wedges with one hand and the salt shaker with the other.

“May I?” she asks Eve.

“Of course,” replies Eve.

Eve doesn’t quite understand why Villanelle needs to ask her permission in order to take a shot, until Villanelle leans closer and brushes Eve’s hair over her shoulder and out of the way. Villanelle tips some of the salt onto the exposed skin where Eve’s neck meets her shoulder, and Eve realises only too late what Villanelle’s intentions are when she gently pries Eve’s mouth open with the lime wedge until it is caught between her lips.

And sure enough, Villanelle leans down and presses her mouth to the base of Eve’s neck, collecting the salt with a single swipe of her tongue, then knocks back one of the shots, before concluding her little performance by snatching the lime wedge from Eve’s mouth with her own. Villanelle maintains eye contact with Eve while she sucks the juice from the wedge, then spits it out with a smirk on her lips.

“Are you sure you don’t want tequila?”

No, Eve thinks to herself, I want you.

But what she actually says is, “Fuck it.”

Eve doesn’t put on a show like Villanelle did. In fact, Eve ignores the salt entirely and tips one of the shots into her mouth, swallowing quickly before the taste fills her mouth, then chases it by biting into a lime wedge.

“Is it just me or is it getting hot in here?” Hugo asks gleefully, dropping into the empty chair at the table and fanning himself with one hand.

“Shut up and drink your tequila,” grumbles Eve, reaching for one of the pitchers of beer and pouring pints for herself and Villanelle.


 

Villanelle, as it turns out, is the most competitive person that Eve has ever met.

“One King,” says Villanelle, sliding a stack of cards from her hand face down across the table and placing them on top of the discard pile between herself and Hugo.

It’s their third round of the game and while Eve, Kenny and Elena have all managed to get rid of all their cards, the final battle to determine who has lost the game between Villanelle and Hugo has been going for several minutes now.

Hugo eyes the cards that Villanelle has put down, and then says, “I mean, there’s blatantly more than just one card there.”

“Are you calling “cheat”?” Elena asks Hugo.

“Obviously,” he replies. “Cheat!”

Elena flips over the cards that Villanelle places down, revealing an assortment of cards - a three, a five, a couple of Jacks, and a few others, with not a single King amongst them.

Villanelle lets out a groan and collects the pile of cards, shuffling them around between her fingers, before taking a similar stack of cards and putting them down in the centre of the table.

“One King.”

Across the table, Hugo arches an eyebrow.

“Julie,” says Eve, resting a hand on Villanelle’s thigh and giving her leg a quick squeeze, before she continues, “I think you’re supposed to be trying to…”

“Cheat!” calls out Hugo, pushing the pile of cards back towards Villanelle without even needing to flip them over to know that she is lying.

Villanelle lets out a low groan and her head falls back in her seat.

“Why is this game called Cheat if I’m not allowed to actually cheat?” she complains, throwing the rest of her cards down on the table in a mini tantrum.

“Are you forfeiting?” grins Hugo. “Remember what we said - the loser gets the next round in.”

“I’ll buy your drinks if it means I don’t have to play this stupidly-named game anymore.”

Eve rests a comforting hand against Villanelle’s arm and leans closer in a show of affection.

“Let Hugo have this one,” Eve tells her. “You’re good at other things.”

As soon as the words spill from Eve’s lips, she can’t help the way that her mind starts to wander. Villanelle is good at other things - she’s good at accents and dressing to impress and charming people. But perhaps more importantly, Villanelle is good at reducing Eve to a flustered mess, at kissing Eve and touching Eve in places specifically designed to make her melt and occupying a far larger amount of Eve’s brain space than should be possible.

It seems that Villanelle’s mind goes to exactly the same place, because her pout quickly morphs into a smirk and she replies, “I know I am.”

Villanelle’s teeth chew at her own lower lip and goddamnit Eve wants to be the one biting that lip.

But then Villanelle is pushing back her chair and getting to her feet.

“Same again?” she asks the group, taking out her wallet and gesturing to the empty glasses on the table, leftover from the round that Kenny bought after they drained Hugo’s two large pitchers of beer. There’s a general murmur of consensus, apart from Eve, who shakes her head.

“Just a Coke for me, please,” she says to Villanelle. “My liver is too old to keep up with you all.”

Eve isn’t drunk yet, perhaps pushing on tipsy but only in the way that it has let her inhibitions down and made her bolder, rather than actually clouding her judgement. She would rather stay this way, just buzzed enough to have a good time without being so out of control that she does something stupid.

The last time Eve got drunk, after all, was the night she went home and hired an escort. 

“Got it,” says Villanelle, before she goes to the bar to order their drinks.

While Kenny collects up the cards, some of them sticky from being put down in beer spillage, Elena shuffles her chair around the table slightly so that she’s closer to Eve.

“You really like her, don't you?” asks Elena, gesturing across at Villanelle, who leans on the bar and catches a bartender’s attention almost immediately.

There are many things that Eve is faking tonight, but the nod that she gives in response to Elena’s question is not one of them.

“So do I,” agreed Elena, nudging her knee against Eve’s in an almost congratulatory manner. “Well done, Eve. You’ve picked a good one.”

“Thank you.”

Elena pauses, then says, “Ugh, all this sincerity is making me want to puke.”

Eve looks across at Villanelle again, and the way that Villanelle leans on the bar gives Eve the perfect view of her ass. Almost as if she senses Eve’s eyes on her, Villanelle turns to look over her shoulder and shoots Eve a wink.

“Stop drooling,” says Elena, slapping Eve’s leg playfully. “Though I don’t really blame you. What a step up from Niko, right? Maths teacher to … well that. She’s basically a supermodel.”

Villanelle pretty much glides back over to their table, her skirt flowing out behind her and a tray of drinks in her hand. She sets down two half pints of Coke in front of her own seat and Eve’s, then distributes the other drinks before sitting down again.

“What are you two talking about?” Villanelle asks Eve and Elena.

“You,” Eve answers without hesitation.

“We’re objectifying you horribly,” elaborates Elena.

“Eve!” gasps Villanelle, clutching a hand to her chest in mock offence. “I thought you were a feminist!”

“If it’s equal opportunities you want, you can objectify me too,” quips Eve.

Villanelle drags her eyes down Eve’s body, lingering on her legs where the hem of her dress has ridden up to show the skin of her stockinged thighs.

“Oh, I plan to.”

“And that’s my cue to leave,” says Elena, as she gets to her feet and picks up her drink, grabbing Kenny’s arm with her other hand. “Come and dance with me, Kenny.”

Kenny follows his girlfriend like an obedient puppy, while Hugo grumbles something about being a fifth wheel and takes his own drink towards a gaggle of university-aged girls near the bar.

Now alone together at the table, Villanelle rests her hand on Eve’s shoulder and lets her fingers wander towards the nape of Eve’s neck, absentmindedly playing with the soft curls there.

“Elena likes you, by the way,” Eve tells Villanelle. “Well done.”

“Of course she does,” says Villanelle. “Though, I don’t think that Hugo likes me much. First I scared off his date, then he was a sore loser at cards.”

“I don’t think Hugo is bothered about Cleo. Anyway, he can be a bit of an entitled prat, but his heart is in a good place. And if I like you, then he likes you.”

“Do you like me, Eve?”

For a question that should have a simple yes or no response, it is much harder for Eve to come up with an answer than it should be. Because Eve does like Villanelle - she likes how effortlessly their conversations flow and how Villanelle can always put a smile on Eve’s face; she likes Villanelle’s accent, both her real Russian one and the fake London one she uses as Julie; she likes Villanelle’s funny little quirks and her extraordinary confidence and the way that she dresses and the little crease between her eyebrows when she’s thinking and-

So yes, Eve does like Villanelle. But it is far more complex than a black and white like versus dislike. Eve likes Villanelle but she doesn’t like that it makes her vulnerable in front of somebody who should be nothing more than a business transaction. She doesn’t like that Villanelle probably has countless other clients who feel exactly the same way about her as Eve does. She doesn’t like that this is all temporary and that sooner rather than later, Eve will have to cut the best thing that’s happened to her in a while out of her life for good.

And all of this is far too complicated for Eve to even wrap her mind around, let alone verbalise.

Which is why Eve answers Villanelle’s question with an elusive, “I like some parts of you.”

It comes out a lot more suggestively than Eve intends, but that ends up working more in Eve’s favour. Villanelle’s other hand, the one not toying distractingly with the back of Eve’s neck, comes to rest on Eve’s knee.

“Oh really?” purrs Villanelle. “Which parts?”

This hardly feels like an act anymore. Not when Elena and Kenny are somewhere in the crowd of other patrons and Hugo is somewhere behind them hitting on women. It’s not Eve flirting with her fake girlfriend Julie, it’s Eve flirting with Villanelle, who she really wants to find an excuse to kiss again because it’s been six whole days since Niko’s wedding. Six whole days since Villanelle kissed her.

Eve wants to kiss Villanelle, but she isn’t quite brave enough to initiate.

Instead, Eve settles for letting her gaze drop to Villanelle’s mouth and hoping that Villanelle gets the hint.

“It’s really hard for me to stay professional when you look at me like that,” murmurs Villanelle.

“Maybe I don’t want you to stay professional,” replies Eve. “Maybe that’s why I’m looking at you like this.”

And just like when they were back in that bathroom stall at Niko’s wedding, connected at the mouth and bodies pressed as close together as humanly possible, Eve gets the sense that there’s more to this than just Villanelle being good at her job. 

Villanelle leans in and for a split second, Eve thinks that this is it, that Villanelle is finally leaning in to kiss her. She closes her eyes in anticipation, which only leaves her more surprised when Villanelle’s lips don’t meet her own, but instead brush against Eve’s earlobe.

“If we leave now,” Villanelle whispers, and holy shit her voice does things to Eve that shouldn’t be legal, “they’ll think I’m taking you home for sex.”

Eve’s initial reaction is one of arousal, both from the words themselves and the tone of voice that Villanelle uses to speak them. Villanelle’s Russian accent is liquid in its smoothness and Eve swears that it is half an octave lower than the accent she puts on for Eve’s friends.

It is only after a few seconds of trying really hard not to climb into Villanelle’s lap, that Eve registers what Villanelle has actually said and realises that Villanelle doesn’t want to actually kiss her, like Eve thought she might.

“You want to leave?” asks Eve, trying to mask her disappointment.

“Yes,” nods Villanelle. She leans closer again and her hand slides up the inside of Eve’s leg from her knee to halfway up her thigh, and then she adds, “But only because I don’t want your friends to think that I’m not taking care of all your needs.”

Eve’s throat goes incredibly dry. She can’t help the way that her mind starts picturing exactly what Villanelle is suggesting, starting with Villanelle kissing her up against a wall like she did at Niko’s wedding, then escalating further as hands pull at clothing and mouths starts to explore newly revealed skin. Eve’s cheeks burn at the mere thought of Villanelle taking her in such a way and a growing ache settles deep in the pit of her abdomen.

“I could, by the way,” adds Villanelle. “In case you were wondering. I’ve never had any complaints in that department. I am a literal goddess in the bed-”

“Okay,” Eve interrupts her, before Villanelle can boast any further about her sexual prowess. Eve’ voice comes out as a croak and she reaches for her drink to rehydrate herself before she says, “I think you need to work on your modesty, though.”

“Does confidence not turn you on?” asks Villanelle, arching an eyebrow that suggests to Eve that she already knows the answer to this question. 

Niko was never this confident. Eve still remembers the way that he mumbled his way through asking her out for the first time, and only after she had been dropping hints to him for several weeks that she wanted him to. In contrast, Villanelle’s confidence that borders on arrogance, despite being for show, is more of a turn-on that anything Niko ever tried with her.

Eve can’t admit that to Villanelle though, not without risking inflating Villanelle’s ego to the point where they won’t be able to make it through the door to leave the pub at all.

“We should say goodbye to the others,” says Eve, when leaving to go home suddenly seems like a much better idea that staying here and letting Villanelle torment her further.

Villanelle doesn’t complain. She sticks at Eve’s side as they look for Hugo near the bar, an arm around Eve’s waist and her hand straying just low enough to be suggestive. Hugo seems pretty disinterested in them leaving but wishes them goodnight, before he turns around and resumes chatting up a stick-thin brunette who seems to be hanging on every word.

Elena and Kenny are slightly harder to find, caught up in a crowd of bodies dancing to the music that the DJ plays while a couple of staff members set up the stage for karaoke, but Elena’s eyes widen knowingly when Eve tells them that she and Villanelle are leaving. Villanelle, meanwhile, wraps her arms around Eve’s waist from behind and nuzzles her face into Eve’s mane of hair, only encouraging Elena’s glee.

“Have fun,” Elena tells her. “I want all the juicy details on Monday morning, no exceptions.”

“I’ll make sure she has lots to tell you,” promises Villanelle.

Kenny is doing a very good job of pretending that he isn’t listening, looking up at something on the ceiling in order to avoid having to make eye contact with anybody. Eve wishes that she could do the same.

“Let’s go,” Villanelle purrs into Eve’s ear. She checks something on her phone, then says, “Javi is here.”

“Who is Javi?” asks Eve, giving a final farewell wave to Elena and Kenny as they make their way to the door.

“Uber driver,” explains Villanelle.

“Did you really have to be quite so suggestive with Elena?” asks Eve, as Villanelle pushes open the door and holds it so that Eve can step out into the chilly night. “She’s going to want to know everything.”

“I’m sure you’ll be able to think of something to tell her,” smirks Villanelle. “I don’t think you’re as innocent as you act. Unless you want me to give you something real to tell Elena about.”

Eve does want, oh how she wants. Or at least, she wants Villanelle to kiss her again, and press her body so close to Eve’s that their bodies could almost morph into once. And maybe some heavy petting over the clothes wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome. But nothing more than that. Definitely nothing more.

Villanelle is probably right. Eve’s imagination won’t be short of ideas to share with Elena on Monday morning.

Javi pulls up outside the pub in a black Toyota and Villanelle ushers Eve into the backseat, confirming Eve’s address as the first drop-off point just as the car starts to move. Villanelle sits herself in the middle of the three seats, so that her leg touches Eve’s and she can hold Eve’s hand. It’s completely unnecessary now that they’ve left Eve’s friends behind, and Eve is struck with the similarities between this and the kiss they shared in private at Niko’s wedding.

Eve wonders if Javi will mind if she throws herself mouth-first at Villanelle in the backseat of his car, if he’ll be able to maintain professionalism and keep his eyes on the road if Eve forgoes safety and just climbs into Villanelle’s lap.

If only Eve had that amount of bravery.

Villanelle seems perfectly content with handholding and so that’s what Eve settles for. She squeezes Villanelle’s fingers with her own, not wanting to ever let her go.

If Javi has one fault, it is that he knows his way through London far too well and that they make it to Eve’s street before Eve is ready to say goodbye. 

“Walk me to my door?” asks Eve.

Villanelle unbuckles her seatbelt and slides across the backseat to the door, opening it and stepping out without letting go of Eve’s hand. She leans back into the car once Eve is out too and says something to Javi in another language - something that sounds like Spanish to Eve’s untrained ear - before shutting the car door behind them.

“You’re lucky I’m so chivalrous,” Villanelle says to Eve, as she wraps an arm around Eve’s waist and leads the way up to the front door of Eve’s house.

“Is that why you haven’t kissed me?” Eve asks, emboldened by alcohol and the warm press of Villanelle’s fingers against her hip bone through the material of her dress.

Eve feels rather than hears Villanelle’s hitch of breath, and she stops just before her door so that she can turn to face Villanelle.

“I didn’t kiss you because you didn’t ask me to,” says Villanelle, tilting her head slightly to one side and smirking.

Eve thinks back to the last kiss they shared at Niko’s wedding, messy and desperate against the wall of the bathroom stall, and then says, “I thought it was implied.”

“Is that your way of asking me to kiss you?”

“You’re an asshole,” says Eve, as she wraps her arms around Villanelle’s neck and pulls her down for a kiss. 

Villanelle smirks again and this time Eve feels it against her mouth. Determined to wipe the smile away, Eve catches Villanelle’s lower lip between her teeth, then swipes her tongue into Villanelle’s mouth. Villanelle gasps and then, with a hand on each of Eve’s hips, steers Eve backwards until her back collides with the front door.

Eve pulls Villanelle impossibly closer. Villanelle’s mouth is hungry, but her hands are hungrier, teasing lower until she is cupping Eve’s ass with both palms. Eve moans and then kisses back harder, messier, more urgent than before. They could have been doing this hours ago, could have said goodbye to the others right after dinner and been doing this instead.

Villanelle is a fantastic kisser. It has not even been a week since their last kiss, but Eve had forgotten just how good at it Villanelle is. She is constantly pushing and pulling, coaxing breathy little whimpers from between Eve’s lips, until Eve is lost in a world that consists of only Villanelle’s body driving her wild.

With the single braincell that is not consumed by Villanelle’s mouth, Eve thinks of the key in her purse, and wonders if there would be terrible consequences to locating it and unlocking the door that Villanelle has her pressed against, only to have a much more private continuation of this kiss inside.

It would be so easy. Eve wouldn’t even pretend to invite Villanelle in for a drink, she would just lead Villanelle by the hand to her bedroom and push her down on the bed. She already knows that Villanelle would look up at her with wide pupils and a victorious smirk on her lips, but all Eve would have to do to rid her of it would be to climb into Villanelle’s lap and kiss it away. And in that position, Eve’s dress would ride up her thighs and it would be so easy, too damn easy, to grab Villanelle’s hand and guide it between her thighs.

With that thought, Eve lets her head fall back against the door and takes in a sharp breath, feeling the cool night air fills her lungs. Villanelle’s lips descend to Eve’s neck, which is no less distracting. Eve’s eyes flutter shut as Villanelle’s teeth scrape over her pulse.

“We’re giving Javi quite a show,” Villanelle murmurs, as her mouth presses open-mouthed kisses along Eve’ jawline. 

“I don’t care about Javi.”

Villanelle lifts her lips from Eve’s neck, red lipstick now smudged around her mouth.

“I should ask him to drive me home. Unless…”

Villanelle trails off and lets the suggestive look in her eyes complete the sentence in place of words.

“Unless?” Eve barely manages to choke out, already knowing the answer.

“Unless you don’t want me to go home.”

Eve’s heart momentarily stops beating. There are so many implications in so few words. Asking Villanelle to stay would mean inviting her inside, which would mean more kissing, which would inevitably lead to Eve lying on her back while Villanelle’s wicked mouth explores her entire body. And Eve wants it, fuck she wants it, but she doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of fucking her escort on a lustful whim.

“I don’t know what I want,” confesses Eve, and it only feels like half a lie.

“Okay,” says Villanelle, face unreadable as she lifts her hands from Eve’s ass and takes a step back. “But when you figure out what you want, you know where to find me.”

Villanelle takes a few swaggering steps backwards, lifting a hand in a half-salute goodbye before she opens the car door and ducks inside.

It is only then, with her back against the front door and an empty space the size of a black hole in front of her where Villanelle stood just moments ago, that Eve realises that she knows exactly what she wants. But as Javi pulls away, Villanelle in his backseat concealed from Eve’s view by the tinted windows of his car, Eve knows that it is too late.

Chapter Text

Eve dreams of Villanelle. 

Specifically, she dreams of Villanelle’s hands, of Villanelle’s mouth, of Villanelle’s voice whispering filthy promises into her ear. Dream-Villanelle calls Eve beautiful and then tells her that she’s going to fuck Eve until she sees stars. The whole thing is like a giant mind-bending epiphany, realms away from all of Eve’s previous sexual experiences.

In the dream, Villanelle has a dick. Eve isn’t sure if it’s real or if it’s just a fake replica in a harness and to be honest, it really doesn’t matter when Eve is on all fours and Villanelle is thrusting into her from behind. Eve feels as though she is being turned inside out from pleasure unlike any she has ever felt before. 

She wakes up abruptly right before she comes, her alarm clock interrupting the dream like a series of punches to the side of her head. Eve rolls over and screams muffled expletives into her pillow, then flails one arm out and slams a hand onto the button on top of the alarm clock. The ache between her legs is stronger than it had been when she was asleep, without Villanelle’s magic dick satisfying her hunger. 

If this is the effect that dream-Villanelle has on her, Eve doesn’t even want to think about what it might feel like to actually have sex with the real version. 

And she will never find out, because Villanelle is her totally off-limits escort.

Which is why Eve reluctantly gets out of bed and takes a cold shower, ready to spend the rest of her weekend definitely not thinking about Villanelle’s naked form covering her own.


 

When she returns to work on Monday morning, Eve has done enough research and careful consideration to reach the conclusion that it might not actually be considered prostitution if she were to succumb to her urges and let Villanelle fuck her.

Eve’s reasoning is quite simple.

One; the word prostitution brings to mind trysts in underground brothels and seedy motel rooms, whereas a hypothetical encounter with Villanelle would probably occur in the comfort of Eve’s own bed.

And two; Eve is paying Villanelle for her time, not for sex. Eve equates it to if she were to hire a decorator to paint her downstairs bathroom and ended up screwing them after they completed the job - that wouldn’t be prostitution, so why should this be any different?

Besides, Eve reminds herself as she swipes her ID card against the scanner to let herself into the MI6 building, prostitution isn’t even illegal in the United Kingdom.

The office is empty but for Elena, so Eve drops her bag on the floor with a thud and makes a beeline for the coffee machine before everybody else arrives and a queue forms. 

“Morning Eve!” Elena chirps, coming to stand beside Eve with her own mug in her hand. “So, how was it?”

Eve selects a dark roast and places her mug under the spout, as she asks, “How was what?”

“The rest of your Friday night?”

Eve’s heartbeat quickens in her chest at the memories of Friday night, of Villanelle licking salt from Eve’s neck before taking a tequila shot and the very obvious implications they gave the rest of the group as they made their premature exit from the bar.

“I left before you did.”

“Don’t be coy, Eve,” says Elena, nudging her arm against Eve’s. “It doesn’t suit you. I think we both know exactly why you left when you did. Is she good in bed?”

An image of dream-Villanelle rises to the front of Eve’s mind, beautiful and powerful and so very naked. And as all Eve can think about are the entirely fantastical memories of Villanelle’s hips moving against her own, of Villanelle finding each of Eve’s sweet spots with her fingers and then her mouth, a familiar throbbing starts to pulse between her legs.

And fuck it’s not even nine o’clock on a Monday morning and Eve is already turned on at work.

“It was alright, yeah,” answers Eve.

She is grateful that the coffee machine finishes making her coffee at that exact moment, and reaches for the handle of the steaming mug, desperately avoiding eye contact with Elena.

“Alright?” snorts Elena. She wraps a hand around Eve’s wrist to stop Eve from moving away. “Your mouth is saying one thing but the blush on your cheeks is saying something else.”

Eve snatches her arm out of Elena’s grasp and the sudden jerk sends a drop of coffee splashing over the side of the mug. She crosses over the office to her desk, feeling Elena’s eyes burning into the back of her head. 

Her mind wanders to Villanelle this time, except instead of the perfectly chiselled naked form of the Villanelle from her dream, she thinks of the real thing. And just like that she’s back outside her own house again, strong hands on her ass and the press of hot lips to the sweat-dampened column of Eve’s neck. Eve has no doubt that the real Villanelle would be just as good in bed as the fictional version conjured by her unconscious mind.

Elena is normally the first person that Eve comes to when something is on her mind and Eve finds herself wanting to tell Elena everything. She wants to confess that the whole thing on Friday night was just one big charade, that Julie is actually an escort called Villanelle who is driving Eve wild, that she literally can’t find the strength to think about anything else. But coming clean brings a lot of baggage with it. Eve doesn’t know if she’s ready for her colleagues to know the truth. Friday night was a lot of fun, and not just because of Villanelle, but because Eve got to pretend to be the one that Villanelle is into. She and Villanelle were the centre of attention and Eve doesn’t think she is ready to admit that she can only get a woman like Villanelle to be attracted to her when she empties her bank account to pay for it.

Weighing up the costs and benefits of telling Elena the truth, Eve realises that continuing the lie is the safer option.

Besides, Eve is a big girl. She can handle a few intrusive sexual thoughts.

“It was fucking amazing,” blurts out Eve, and though it is a lie, it doesn’t really feel like much of one. “Okay? Happy now?”

“I knew it!” exclaims Elena, grinning in triumph at Eve’s revelation.

“Knew what?” asks Hugo, as he saunters into the office and removes his blazer to reveal one of his favourite striped shirts.

“That Eve’s girlfriend gave her the bonking of a lifetime on Friday night,” Elena shares gleefully.

“Oh really?”

A slow smile spread across Hugo’s face and Eve doesn’t even want to consider what depraved thoughts might be going through his mind.

Instead, Eve takes a sip from her coffee and addresses Elena as she grouchily says, “Why don’t you take some of that eloquence and crack on with the paperwork that Carolyn needs us to complete?”

“I’m sure I read in an article that lesbians can just keep going forever,” Hugo informs them. “You know, two hoohahs and no recharge time. Like the infinity symbol but made out of orgasms.”

“Why are you reading articles about lesbian sex?” scoffs Elena. As Hugo opens his mouth to answer, Elena holds up her hand and says, “On second thoughts, I really don’t want to know. Besides, straight sex would last a hell of a lot longer if men realised that sex is more than just sticking it in and spunking.”

Until now, Eve has done her best to ignore the conversation between Hugo and Elena, knowing that putting a stop to the only thing distracting them from asking her more questions about Villanelle will only spell bad news for her. But even Eve has to draw the line somewhere.

“Guys, do you think you could…?”

“Good morning, team!”

The greeting is accompanied by the click of expensive shoes against the wooden floor as Carolyn Martens sweeps into their office, followed by Kenny, who dumps his rucksack next to his desk and drops into his chair.

“Morning, Carolyn!” Eve greets her with the kind of enthusiasm that is reserved for trying to impress one’s boss. 

Carolyn regards Eve with an impassive expression that could be either an acknowledgement of Eve’s greeting or distaste for her forced enthusiasm. With Carolyn, it can be difficult to tell.

“I just dropped by to remind you we need final numbers for the Christmas party by Wednesday at noon so that we can inform the caterers. That includes any guests.”

“Eve,” Elena shoots across the office, giving Eve a pointed look.

Carolyn’s eyebrows shoot up in interest as she asks, “Will you be bringing somebody along, Eve?”

Eve flops back in her chair and rolls her eyes, her gaze landing on Elena, who she glares at.

“No,” Eve answers, definitively.

“Shame,” says Carolyn. “I heard a rumour that there was somebody new in your life. If you change your mind, drop Tobi an email.” She turns her attention to Elena, as if the topic of Eve’s love life had never even come up at all, and asks, “You’ll have those completed forms on my desk by the end of today?”

Elena’s demeanour changes the instant hat Carolyn addresses her, her back straightening as she sits up in her chair and an eager-to-please smile on her face.

“Of course!” answers Elena. “Anything for you, Carolyn.”

“Excellent. I look forward to it.”

Carolyn stalks from the room as powerfully as she entered it. As Carolyn leaves, Elena turns to Eve with her mouth open, dramatically fanning her face with one of her hands.

“Major swoon,” Elena half-whispers across to Eve.

Hugo crosses the office with his mug in his hand, stopping at Hugo’s desk on his way to the coffee machine.

“When is Elena going to stop being weird around your mum?” Hugo asks Kenny.

Kenny just shrugs and looks embarrassed about the interaction between his mother and his girlfriend.

Eve, meanwhile, has more pressing matters on her mind than Elena’s girl-crush on their boss.

“How does Carolyn know about Julie?” asks Eve, glancing around the office at each of her colleagues in turn. Her eyes fall on Kenny last of all, lingering longer than on the others.

“Don’t look at me,” he protests, holding both hands up defensively. “I don’t actually talk to Mum. Not unless it’s about what’s for dinner.”

Elena, still slightly dumbstruck from her brief exchange of words with Carolyn, pipes up and says, “I’ve said it before, Eve. The woman is a demigod. She knows everything.”

Eve thinks of everything she’s currently keeping to herself, of Villanelle’s real identity and her presence in Eve’s dream, and feels her cheeks start to heat up at the thought of Carolyn knowing the truth.

“God, I hope not.”


 

“Has anybody ever told you that you look really ugly when you eat?”

Konstantin puts his burger down on the greaseproof wrapper it was served in and picks up a napkin to wipe at his mouth.

“This is very rude,” he says, jabbing an accusatory finger at Villanelle across the table. “I am treating you to lunch and this is what I get?”

“Spending six pounds on a burger does not count as ‘treating me’, Konstantin,” Villanelle scoffs. 

“Well, if you don’t want your burger…”

“No!” Villanelle protests, leaning forward to put her arms on the table between her and Konstantin, shielding her half-eaten greasy burger and fries close to her body and away from his grubby fingers.

Konstantin’s lips curl up into a half-smile.

“This place has great reviews on Yelp,” he informs her. 

Villanelle chooses not to respond with words. Instead, she picks up a handful of fries and stuffs them into her mouth, not caring that they don’t all fit and that some stick out between her lips as she chews.

“Now who eats like a child?” asks Konstantin, rolling his eyes.

“Has Eve contacted you again?” asks Villanelle, swallowing her mouthful of fries and washing it down with a sip of her milkshake through its striped straw.

“Not yet.”

“Can you give me her number?”

Konstantin frowns in the way that he seems to reserve just for Villanelle.

“You are a little bit obsessed with this Eve, don’t you think?”

“What I think,” Villanelle pauses to aggressively slurp her milkshake through the straw, “is that you’re a grumpy old man and that you should give me Eve’s phone number. I bet I could text her a picture of my tits and she would invite me to her work’s Christmas party straight away.”

Konstantin shakes his head disapprovingly.

“You are becoming quite naughty, Villanelle,” he scolds her. “No tit pictures to anybody, especially not Eve. This needs to be nice and clean.”

“Clean is boring,” complains Villanelle. “You know I don’t like to be boring.”

Villanelle’s consoles herself by stuffing the last quarter of her burger into her mouth and chewing as passive-aggressively as she can while maintaining eye contact with Konstantin. He just watches her, indifferent, and it annoys her even more.

She wants Eve’s number. And what Villanelle wants, she usually gets. Sure, Konstantin might have said no to her request. But she knows the passcode to get into his phone and she has never once been caught pickpocketing, so Villanelle fancies her odds. 

She just needs the opportunity.

“What are your plans for the rest of the day?” Villanelle asks him, her voice muffled by the food in her mouth. She swallows her mouthful of burger and shoots Konstantin a charming smile, a plan already half-formed in her mind. “We should hang out.”


 

Eve can’t remember a time that she felt this much inner conflict.

Should she hire Villanelle again for the office Christmas party?

Should she tell Elena the truth and admit that she’s been hiring an escort to pretend to be her girlfriend?

Should she give in to her desires and get herself off while thinking about Vi-?

Wait, what?

Well, at least the answer to the last question is clear in Eve’s mind - a resolute and unwavering no.

(Okay, maybe it is wavering a little bit…)

But Eve really shouldn’t be thinking about masturbation when she is on a crowded underground train during the evening rush hour, and her face is just inches away from the patch of barely-there chest fuzz revealed by Hugo’s open collar. And yep, that’s definitely a more effective turn-off than the four million cold showers Eve took over the weekend.

“You said you’ve hired escorts before, right?” Eve addresses Hugo, or at least addresses his chin, because there is barely enough room on this crowded carriage for her to be able to lift her head without coming face-to-face with somebody else’s armpit.

“Yeah.”

“Well, did you … have you ever … you know, with them?”

Eve finds herself physically unable to get the right words out to form a coherent question.

“Sentences, Eve,” Hugo tells her, and when she glances up at him, his face is wearing a frown of confusion.

“Did you ever … have sex with them?”

Eve realises that this is not the kind of conversation she should be having on the Central Line during rush hour. The train shudders to a halt at the next station and Eve wonders whether it would be possible for her to fight the current of new commuters boarding an already overcrowded train so that she can hop off onto the platform and escape from her own shame.

“Of course not,” replies Hugo, as if the answer to Eve’s question is obvious. “If I want to shag a girl, I don’t need to pay for it.”

Eve cringes at Hugo’s words, then asks, “You haven’t even thought about it?”

“No,” Hugo shakes his head. “Why do you ask?” Eve sees the realisation wash over Hugo’s face, and he asks, “Hang on, was Elena telling the truth about the bonking?”

“No!” Eve shuts him down immediately. “God, no! What kind of person do you think I am?”

“Come on, Eve. Tell me the truth.”

“I had a dream.”

“I’m not quite following.”

Eve really wishes that it was the norm for passengers to talk with each other on the tube, because she worries that every person sitting in silence will be eavesdropping on her conversation. Eve is grateful that at least some of them have the decency to be wearing headphones.

“A … vivid dream,” she tries to explain. When Hugo still does my understand, she adds, “About Villanelle.”

Hugo’s eyes widen in realisation.

“A sex dream?”

He says the words a little too loudly. In her peripheral vision, Eve notices at least three heads turn in their direction. A mother sitting in the priority seating close to them with a baby in a carrier strapped to her chest looks down at the child then back at Hugo and Eve with an expression of horror on her face, as if her sleeping six month old could have possibly heard and understood Hugo’s words.

“Say it a bit louder, why don’t you?” Eve hisses, reprimanding Hugo by swatting his arm. She lowers her voice even further, then confirms, “Yes, a sex dream. And I’ve felt guilty ever since.”

“There’s no need for guilt,” Hugo assures her with a shake of his head. “I mean, she’s an escort. I guarantee you’re not the first of her clients to knock one out while thinking about her.”

Eve winces, first at the crudeness of Hugo’s words, then at their implication. Thinking of Villanelle’s other clients stirs the sleeping beast of jealousy that resides in Eve’s gut. She doesn’t like the thought of being just one of many. And she especially does not like the thought of those clients fantasising about Villanelle, of rich businessmen jerking off to the thought of her, to overweight sleazebags pretending it’s her when they go home and fuck their wives.

Eve relays her disgust to Hugo.

“Out of all the possible things you could say, how do you always manage to pick the grossest one?”

Hugo merely shrugs and says, “Talent?”

He wears a gleeful smile on his face, like the knowledge that Eve has a lustful infatuation with her escort is the highlight of his day, and because it’s Hugo, Eve curses for the second time today that it is only him that she has confided in about the real situation with Villanelle.

“You know what,” Eve says decisively, “I don’t need to justify myself to you.”

“You’re right,” agrees Hugo. He raises his eyebrows at her and adds, “You can do whatever you want while thinking about whoever you want.”

And it’s true. Eve could give in and Villanelle would never have to know. But Eve is the one who would then have to live with the guilt, feeling as though she had somehow violated Villanelle by using her as a means to an orgasm.

Fantasy Villanelle swaggers to the front of Eve’s mind and smirks at her, before saying in her familiar Russian accent, “I don’t mind.”

And Eve doesn’t doubt for a moment that Villanelle wouldn’t mind. She thinks that instead of recoiling in disgust, Villanelle would bask in the knowledge that the mere thought of her has Eve so hot and bothered that she just has to touch herself.

Eve reminds herself once again that she is on public transport, and the smell of other people’s B.O. filling her nostrils and clogging the back of her throat is enough to turn Eve off.

Hugo leaves the train at the next station, bidding Eve a goodbye that involves far too much suggestive eyebrow waggling, and then a few stops later, it’s Eve’s turn to get off.

Eve is halfway up the escalator out of the tube station when she hears her phone chime with a new message in her bag. She fumbles around inside until she finds the phone and takes it out to read the message.

And though it’s from an unknown number, Eve knows straight away who has sent it.

Unknown number:
Are you missing me yet?

Chapter Text

Unknown number:
This is Villanelle by the way.

The text comes through at ten thirty that evening while Eve is using a cotton pad to remove the makeup from her face. The first message had been followed by a second that arrived as Eve was unlocking her front door, reading I’m missing you , and a third message saying I can’t stop thinking about you arrived just as Eve was about to start washing up her dinner plate. All three messages have gone ignored, prompting the fourth.

As if Eve could have any doubt as to who is texting her.

Eve drops the used cotton pad onto her nightstand and snatched up her phone, typing out a message without even thinking.

Eve Polastri:
Sorry, I thought this was my other escort…

Eve’s thumb hovers over the send button for a few long seconds, before she deletes the message with a sigh and tosses her phone to the side. Villanelle doesn’t need a response, sarcastic or otherwise.

She can do this. She’s strong. She won’t give into the temptation.

Eve remembers the dream she had after hiring Villanelle for the group dinner on Friday night, and her hands itches to dip below the elastic waistband of her pyjama pants to just feel .

Instead, Eve flicks off the bedside lamp and pulls the covers up over her shoulder as she rolls onto her side.

She won’t give into that temptation either.


 

Eve is strong. Eve is determined. Eve doesn’t give in.

But before she’s had her first coffee of the day, Eve is a fucking idiot.

Eve’s phone rings just as she’s letting herself into the MI6 building ten minutes later than usual because she had made it halfway to the tube station before remembering that she’d left her Oyster card on the kitchen counter. Eve is already flustered from having to run back home to fetch it, so when she hears her ringtone, the lack of caffeine to help her think rationally means that she doesn’t even think twice about the unrecognised caller ID.

“Hello?”

“It’s a bit rude to ignore somebody who texts you, Eve,” says Villanelle’s familiar voice.

Of course it is her. Why didn’t Eve just stop to think for even half a second when her phone started to ring?

Eve considers hanging up without saying anything but the word ‘rude’ echoes around her skull in Villanelle’s accent, the ‘R’ rolled and the vowel sound clipped short. To hang up would be rude, even ruder than not replying to any of the four messages that Villanelle sent to Eve last night. And though Eve has been trying to push all trace of Villanelle from her life and her mind, Villanelle has done nothing wrong to warrant being treated in such a way.

Fantasy Villanelle is a prick, because the mere thought of her keeps turning Eve on at inopportune moments. But actual Villanelle helped Eve out of a bind at Niko’s wedding and then charmed the hell out of her coworkers at dinner on Friday. 

“I was busy last night,” lies Eve.

“What were you doing?” asks Villanelle.

Eve arrives at her office and peers inside, realising that she’s the last to arrive. It’s still a few minutes before nine o’clock, so Eve decides to hover just outside the office, out of view of the others while she finishes talking to Villanelle.

“None of your business.”

“Do you want to know what I did last night?” asks Villanelle.

Eve’s mind immediately pictures Villanelle out on a date with another client, somebody who vaguely resembles Hugo with expensive tastes and enough money to fulfil them. 

“No,” mumbles Eve.

Villanelle ignores her.

“I went out to a bar,” says Villanelle, her voice low and sultry. “A really shitty bar, but I met a woman there. Her hair was kind of like yours, actually. That’s what attracted me to her.”

Eve’s heart starts racing in her chest. She thinks she can already work out how this story is going to end. And as much as she really doesn’t want to hear about Villanelle fucking another woman, there’s a tiny twisted part of her mind that does .

“So I took her back to my place,” continues Villanelle, “and bent her over the bed with one hand in her hair and…”

Villanelle .”

“Eve, are you going to loiter out here all day or come in and do some work like the rest of us?”

Eve startles and nearly drops her phone as Elena’s head emerges through the doorway into their office. She feels a lot like she’s been caught doing something that she isn’t supposed to be doing. Eve knows that her cheeks are burning from Villanelle’s confession, and she can still hear Villanelle’s voice murmuring indistinct words through the speaker of Eve’s phone.

“I’ll be right in,” Eve tells Elena, before raising her phone back to her ear to end the conversation with Villanelle. “Sorry, Julie. I’m at work. I really have to go.” And then, to keep up the show for Elena, Eve adds, “See you tonight.”

Eve hangs up without even giving Villanelle the chance for a goodbye. 

Two minutes later, when Eve is settled at her desk with a mug of coffee, she realises that a new text has arrived on her phone from that same unknown number.

Unknown number:
I didn’t even bother to learn her name. I just called her yours.


 

Villanelle is in a good mood. 

No, scratch that. Villanelle is in an excellent mood.

Last night’s tryst with Not-Eve had been satisfactory enough - the woman had been a little too vocal when Villanelle was fucking her for Villanelle to be able to completely imagine that it was Eve but she had been delightfully pliant under Villanelle’s touch. And when Villanelle got tired of fucking her, it was easy to fist a hand into that thick hair and rut her hips against Not-Eve’s mouth until Villanelle reached her own climax.

But it is the not the night spent having sex with a cheap facsimile of Eve that has put Villanelle in a good mood, but rather the conversation with Eve this morning. Eve may have ignored her messages, but the jealousy in Eve’s voice when Villanelle told her about Not-Eve was undeniable. She knows it’s just a matter of time before Eve is putty in her hands, before Eve is the one on her knees submitting herself to Villanelle’s whims. And the fact that Eve denies it while her true feelings are so clear to anybody with a pair of eyes just makes the chase even more of a thrill.

Villanelle always gets what she wants. She got Eve to hire her for a second time after telling Villanelle that she wouldn’t, she got Eve’s phone number after Konstantin refused it to her, and now she’s going to get Eve to admit that she wants Villanelle.

So really, they’re both going to end up getting what (or who) they want.

There will be more time for Villanelle to bask in that thought later. Right now, she has more urgent issues at hand.

Villanelle pushes herself off the stool she’s been perched on for the last thirty minutes in the window of a coffee shop. She drains the dregs of her coffee and then makes to leave, knowing that she only has a few seconds in order to get the perfect timing. As she leaves the cafe, she pushes the heavy glass door open with all the strength she can muster, watching in concealed delight as it swings open and collides with a passing pedestrian.

“Ow! Jesus Christ!”

Villanelle dons her best apologetic face and then says, in the English accent that has had so much rehearsal recently, “Oh my god, I am so sorry.”

And then, pretending as though she doesn’t already know exactly who she’s nearly knocked out with a heavy door, she asks, “Niko?”

He looks up when he hears his name, and his eyes widen in surprise when he recognises Villanelle.

“Julie?”

His clothes are scruffy, his hair looks like it has never seen a comb before, and the mustache on his upper lip makes Villanelle shudder in disgust from just looking at it. Villanelle doesn’t understand how somebody so unremarkable, in both looks and personality, can have been married to somebody as other-worldly as Eve for fifteen years.

“Fancy bumping into you here!” Villanelle keeps up the act, pretending as if she has bumped into an old acquaintance on the street by chance, rather than through careful planning.

“Well, we…” Niko pauses and gestures between himself and the woman beside him, who Villanelle notices for the first time and recognises from the wedding a couple of weeks ago. “Gemma and I work at the school across the road. We were just heading home.”

“Niko, who is this?” asks Gemma, looping her arm through Niko’s uninjured one.

“Julie,” Villanelle introduces herself. “Congratulations, by the way. I’m sorry I never got the chance to speak to you on your wedding day.”

Gemma’s eyes widen in recognition and she says, “The suit! You’re Eve’s…”

“Girlfriend,” Villanelle supplies, smiling to herself at Gemma’s memory of what she wore to the wedding. She had hoped to make an impression in that pantsuit, and though the memories of Eve gasping into her mouth as they kissed in the cramped toilet stall during the wedding reception the only proof she needed, this is another small victory. Villanelle revels in the satisfaction that both of this pasty man’s wives, former and present, were taken by the image of Villanelle donning an elegant suit.

Niko still clutches his arm where the door hit it, cradling the injury carefully and rubbing the tender spot. Villanelle only just manages to stop herself from rolling her eyes - it’s not like she stabbed him or anything.

“Is your arm okay?”

Villanelle really doesn’t care for the answer, but Julie probably has a little bit more compassion than she does.

“It’ll be fine,” Niko brushes it off. “We should really get going. Lots of marking to do.”

“It was nice to see you again, Julie,” adds Gemma, shooting Villanelle a bright smile.

They start to walk past Villanelle, arms looped together a little too forcibly, as if they feel like they have to prove something. Villanelle shoots out a hand and catches Niko’s arm, deliberately grabbing the exact spot that she hit with the door and thriving off the wince of pain that crosses his face.

“You two should come over for dinner sometime,” suggests Villanelle, all smiles and feigned politeness. “I’ll talk to Eve about it.”

Villanelle cannot think of many things that would be worse that having to sit through a dinner with this drab man and his slightly childish wife, but she would be prepared to suffer through such an occasion if it meant seeing Eve again. And anyway, Villanelle knows that it would be even more uncomfortable for Niko to have to spend an evening in the same room as his current wife, his ex-wife, and a woman that could make it abundantly clear that she would be able to fuck both of them far better than he ever could.

Sure enough, Niko isn’t taken by the idea.

“I don’t know,” he complains, and his voice is really starting to grate on Villanelle now, like the whining of an annoying little mosquito flying close to her head. “It’s nearly the end of term - it’s really busy. We’ll be spending Christmas with Gemma’s parents, then my mum is visiting from Poland. And then in January the Year Elevens have their mock exams so we’ll both be drowning in marking.”

Villanelle had half-expected him to say as much. Besides, she doesn’t need this dinner in order for her plan to be successful. Villanelle just needs to entangle herself so deeply in Eve’s life that Eve can’t possibly deny her any further.

“Fine,” says Villanelle, shrugging it off. “It was only a suggestion.”

“Will we be seeing you on New Year’s Eve?” asks Gemma.

Villanelle frowns in confusion.

“What’s happening on New Year’s Eve?” 

“The party. Hosted by…” Gemma trails off and turns to her husband, only to ask, “What are their names again, Niko?”

“Andy and Nitesh,” supplies Niko, before explaining to Villanelle, “Old friends of Eve and I.”

Villanelle pretends to know exactly what Niko and Gemma are talking about.

“Oh, that party,” she says, as if suddenly remembering Eve mentioning it to her. “Of course Eve and I will be there. I can’t wait to meet more of her friends. I’ll let you in on a secret - I really think that Eve might be the one , you know?”

Niko’s reaction is worth it. He looks a bit like a dog who has swallowed a bee, waxed skin sagging in places and his mouth hanging open like he’s got a sour taste in his mouth. If Villanelle were capable of empathy, she might feel sorry for the woman by his side, who has chosen to spend the foreseeable future as the bland wife of this mediocre man.

His moustache is particularly displeasing, Villanelle decides with a grimace. She thinks of the penknife tucked into her pocket - for emergencies - and wonders how quickly she would be able to use it to hack the moustache off his face.

“I’m happy for you both,” says Niko, a forced smile on his face. 

Villanelle does her best to look smug, then replies, “I’m happy for us too. See you at the party.”

She buries her hands deep in the pockets of trousers and then saunters away from Niko and Gemma, whistling a nonsensical little tune as she goes.


 

Villanelle had sex with another woman and imagined that she was Eve.

In what universe is Eve supposed to be able to get on with her day as normal with that piece of knowledge clouding her mind?

Eve can’t help but feel like they’ve crossed a line somewhere along the way. What Eve can’t quite figure out is when that line was crossed.

It would be very easy to blame it on Villanelle’s confession, to tell herself that it is Villanelle and not her who is the one who has crossed a line. But Eve knows that would be a lie - that a line must have already been crossed when she had the dream about Villanelle. When was it though? Was it the kiss against the door? Villanelle licking the salt from Eve’s neck before taking a shot of tequila? Or does it stem back even further than that - to Eve being kissed senseless in the bathroom stall at Niko’s wedding reception?

Perhaps the line is not an Eve-and-Villanelle line, but just an Eve line, and it is one that she catapulted herself across at the speed of light the moment that she pressed the enter key on her laptop to google search for an escort.

The worst thing about this whole thing is the harrowing feeling that there is no return ticket to this journey, that Eve is stuck on a one-way trip to self-destruction, one where Villanelle is not just the only other person on the train but the one actually driving it.

Eve comes to that startling realisation in the bathroom at work, which is perhaps the least sexy place to have a minor gay epiphany.

She washes her hands, then splashes water on her face without even looking at her reflection in the grubby mirror above the sink, afraid to come face-to-face with her own biggest demon.

Eve’s phone, which she has been keeping in her pocket rather than her bag just in case Villanelle contacts her again, vibrates against her leg as she leaves the bathroom moments later. She hurries to fish it out of her pocket, nearly dropping it on the tiled floor in the process in her eagerness to find out what Villanelle has to say now.

Unknown number:
1 new image.

Well, that’s new. Villanelle hasn’t sent her any pictures before. Eve glances both ways down the corridor to check that she’s alone, then unlocks her phone to open the message.

And then promptly gasps.

Eve doesn’t know what she was expecting, but in hindsight, she realises that she should have known that it would be something like this. She’s spent enough time with Villanelle now to have a feel for her character, to know that she is an annoying little shit who seems to take great delight in tormenting Eve in whichever way she can.

Villanelle has sent her a picture of her tits.

Eve has never been a boobs woman before, has never needed to be a boobs woman when none of her previous lovers have even had them, but she very quickly understands the obsession that men have with breasts. 

Holy shit .

Any doubt that Eve might have had about her sexuality has vanished as suddenly as the image appeared on the screen of her phone. Granted, Villanelle is not completely nude in the photo, but the lace covering her breasts is perhaps just as arousing to Eve as the knowledge of what is underneath. Villanelle has framed the photo perfectly, cutting off at the top just above the pair of lips smeared with the same bright red lipstick she wore to dinner on Friday night, and finishing at her navel on the bottom edge. And right in the centre, two glorious breasts covered in a piece of black lace that is just see-through enough to be very frustrating.

Eve’s mouth goes incredibly dry. She rotates her phone ninety degrees and then uses both thumbs to zoom in, so that the rest of Villanelle’s upper half is out of frame and she has the perfect glimpse at-

“Afternoon, Eve.”

Eve does actually drop her phone when she hears Carolyn’s voice. She lunges for it with desperate fingers, watching in horror as it clatters across the tiled floor. The momentary relief that Eve feels when she sees that the screen of the phone hasn’t shattered is replaced by abject horror when she realises that the reason she knows her phone is fine is because it has landed screen-up on the floor at Carolyn’s feet, where there is absolutely no hiding the pair of breasts that glare up at them both.

Eve surges forward and snatches up the phone, locking the screen as quickly as she can and dropping it back into her pocket, doing everything that she can to avoid having to make eye contact with her boss.

Ignoring the incident entirely, Carolyn starts by saying, “I had been hoping to catch you today, Eve. We’re sending a field agent off to St. Petersburg at the end of the week. I need your team to put together some paperwork for it.”

“Of course,” says Eve, nodding a little too enthusiastically in her eagerness to push all thoughts of Villanelle’s photo to the very back of her mind.

“We’ll need a quick turnaround. He flies out on Thursday night.”

“We can get right on it,” promises Eve. “I’ll ask the team to prioritise it over their outstanding tasks.”

“Excellent,” says Carolyn, with a curt nod. “I’ll email the details across.”

Carolyn takes a few steps backwards with her hands in her pockets, and when she starts to turn around to walk away, Eve think she might have gotten away with the picture on her phone. Until-

“Oh, and Eve?” 

“Yes?”

Carolyn’s eyes drop to the rectangular shape of Eve’s phone outlined against the material of her trouser pocket, before she says, “Nice tits.” Carolyn pauses, and then adds, as calmly as she would if discussing the weather, “Very perky.”

And then she walks away, and Eve is left feeling mortified .

As if on cue, Eve’s phone vibrates with another message, and Eve waits until she is certain that Carolyn has disappeared before taking it out to see what Villanelle has sent her this time.

Unknown number:
Oops, I meant to send that to somebody else!

Eve decides that Villanelle is such a little shit.

Chapter Text

Eve cannot get Villanelle out of her head all evening. 

When Eve gets home from work and strips out of her heavy work clothes to put on a cotton t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, she wonders what elegant outfit Villanelle decided to wear today. When Eve microwaves a portion of leftover lasagne and sits down to eat it on the couch in front of The One Show, she imagines Villanelle dining out in an expensive restaurant. And when Eve slips beneath her bedcovers and reaches out to switch off the bedside lamp, she thinks of-

No. 

Eve shouldn’t.

(Oh, but she could.)

Eve snatches her phone off the nightstand and unlocks it, the bright glare of the screen illuminating her dark bedroom. Her thumb is drawn to her messages like a moth to a flame and she opens up the messages from Villanelle, still unanswered. The photo is right there, erotic and mesmerising and downright dangerous.

It would be so easy for Eve to-

“No.”

Eve interrupts her thoughts verbally this time, as if sounding the warning aloud will make her more likely to actually behave herself.

She wonders what Villanelle is doing right at this moment, whether she is lying alone in her bed in another part of the city longing after Eve in the same sort of way that Eve pines for Villanelle. 

Eve decides that it is not Villanelle that she is pining for, but rather just physical intimacy. And with the memories she has of Villanelle kissing her senseless on more than one occasion, it’s very difficult to equate the idea of physical intimacy with anybody other than Villanelle. Eve longs to be touched, to be kissed, to be held. She cannot help the fact that when her mind drifts to imagining those unattainable fantasies, that Villanelle is the one doing the touching, doing the kissing, doing the holding.

Villanelle is an addiction, like crack cocaine but ten times as dangerous. Eve can tell herself that she’ll only succumb to the urge once, but it was only ever supposed to be one date too, and now there’s been another one of those and Eve can’t be one hundred percent sure that she won’t give in and hire Villanelle’s services again, just to get another fix.

These feelings are destructive. Eve can feel the way that Villanelle’s presence in her mind is gradually dismantling her sanity one day at a time. Soon there will be nothing left that is recognisably Eve, just a shell of the body that once belonged to her masking a mess of mismatched wires all tangled and connected in the wrong places. And it won’t be long before Eve is certifiably insane, craving the touch of a woman who will always be just one more step out of reach. 

Eve’s thumbs type out a message without even thinking and this time, Eve doesn’t back out before she presses send.

Eve Polastri:
What are you doing to me?

Eve doesn’t expect a reply. It’s late - Villanelle is probably out with a client or worse, out with somebody who isn’t paying her for her time, somebody who she will take home and fuck senseless when it could be Eve instead.

It’s a surprise when less than two minutes later, Eve’s phone lights up with a response.

Unknown number:
What would you like me to be doing? 😏

The text is laced with suggestion. Eve can almost hear Villanelle’s voice, low and gravelly, whispering the words into Eve’s ear so that her hot breath causes every hair on the back of Eve’s neck to stand to attention.

There are millions of things that Eve wants Villanelle to do to her. A million things that Eve’s depraved imagination has already pictured and another million that haven’t even come to mind yet. Eve wants Villanelle to kiss her, to touch her, to strip her of all her clothing and do things that nobody has ever done to her before, to bring her pleasure like she has never experienced before. She wants Villanelle’s hands and Villanelle’s tongue all over her body, on her neck, on her tits, up her thighs and between her legs, until Eve is clutching at bed sheets and crying out incoherently into her bedroom. She wants Villanelle to fuck her from above, from below, from behind, to bend Eve over the dresser and make her watch in the mirror as Villanelle fucks her until she is too sensitive to keep going any more. Until she can no longer even recall her own name.

Eve has never needed to be touched this much before. Sex has always been fun, but it has been a controllable urge, something that she does because she wants to and because it makes both her and her partner happy. But now that she knows Villanelle, Eve feels as though sex is right at the base of her own hierarchy of needs, more necessary to her survival than food and oxygen.

Eve’s entire body thrums with desire. She needs relief and she doesn’t think that another cold shower will be good enough. Her fingertips toy with the waistband of her pyjama pants, itching to dip lower.

What harm can it possibly do if Eve gives in to her urges?

Villanelle doesn’t even have to know.

Just one little-

Oh.


 

When Eve wakes up the following morning, she feels exactly the same.

She doesn’t quite know what she was expecting, really. To wake up feeling new and refreshed and completely rid of her obsession with Villanelle? Okay, perhaps that is a little too unrealistic, but she had at least been hoping that giving herself two orgasms while thinking about Villanelle’s pretty mouth all over her body would be enough to sate her curiosity until she gets the chance to come up with a more permanent solution.

But it isn’t. If anything, the hole in Eve’s chest is larger and the ache between her thighs is stronger. 

Eve feels a bit like a zombie as she gets ready for the day and goes to work. The journey to the MI6 Headquarters is a bit of a surreal one - Eve feels as though she is any one of the other hundreds of commuters on the London Underground, watching herself from several metres away rather than actually experiencing it herself.

She ends up getting to the office far earlier than planned but takes advantage of the quiet before the others arrive to try and push on with the paperwork that Carolyn asked her to put in order for the agent going to St. Petersburg. But thinking of Russia just makes her think of Villanelle, and now any hope of productivity has just gone flying out of the window.

Eve instinctively reaches for her phone and dials Villanelle’s number.

Villanelle picks up after only two rings.

“Eve, do you have any idea what time it is? Being awake at this hour is just inhumane.”

Eve glances at the digital time display in the bottom right corner of her computer screen. 8:20am. It’s early, but not as unreasonable as the irritability in Villanelle’s voice makes it seem.

“Sorry, I…” Eve trails off with a sigh, then continues, “I don’t know why I called you.”

“I do,” says Villanelle, and even though she can’t see Villanelle’s face, Eve can picture the smug look on her face just from the tone of voice that she uses. “It’s because you like me.”

“I didn’t call you because I like you.”

“Oh really? You do like me though.”

“No, I don’t,” insists Eve. “I think you’re an annoying little prick.”

Villanelle half-laughs down the phone.

“That’s a bit rude, don’t you think?”

Eve doesn’t think that calling Villanelle a prick is on the same level of rudeness as Villanelle managing to infiltrate every thought that Eve has, both awake and asleep. Eve can’t tell her as much though, not without having to admit that her brain is consumed by thoughts of Villanelle.

When Eve stays silent, Villanelle speaks up again.

“I thought about you last night,” she tells Eve. 

Eve’s pulse quickens as her heart pounds faster in her chest.

“You did?”

“Yes. Did you think about me?”

Eve has a sudden flashback to last night, to her back arching off the bed, eyes screwed shut in bliss as the hand buried deep in her pyjama pants worked herself up to her second orgasm in as many minutes.

“No,” Eve lies.

The red flush on her face and neck say the opposite, and Eve is grateful that Villanelle isn’t here to see it.

And then, Villanelle says matter-of-factly, “I thought about you last night when I touched myself.”

Eve chokes when she hears Villanelle’s confession. Her mind immediately sinks to the deepest pit of depravity, conjuring images of Villanelle sprawled naked on a bed, a hand working furiously between her legs, rasping out Eve’s name into an empty bedroom. And straight away, Eve knows that her own actions last night are not going to be a one-off, that she’s going to have to get herself off again tonight with these new images to help her.

Eve realises that she has a front row seat on the rollercoaster to hell, and that Villanelle is the harness that stops her from being able to get off.

Metaphorically, of course. Villanelle, or at least Eve’s fantasies of her, definitely helped Eve get off last night.

“Eve? Are you still there?”

Taking a few deep breaths to recompose herself, Eve croaks out, “Yeah, I’m here. That’s just a lot to process.”

“Would you like me to tell you more?” Villanelle asks, in a voice that is impossibly husky.

“Villanelle,” Eve warns her. “I’m at work.”

“You phoned me, Eve,” Villanelle points out. “You can’t be working very hard.”

Eve glances at the screen of her computer, which has gone dark from inactivity, and realises that there is a lot of truth to Villanelle’s words.

“Well, I’m the only one in the office at the moment,” she tells Villanelle.

“You’re alone?”

Eve hears the little hitch in Villanelle’s breath and wonders if she should regret making that particular admission.

“Yes, but Elena will be here any moment…”

“I could give you a repeat performance, if you like,” says Villanelle, ignoring Eve’s words entirely.

And even though Eve is ninety-nine percent certain that she already knows the answer, she dares to ask, “A repeat performance of what?”

Instead of answering directly, Villanelle asks, “Do you want to listen to me while I touch myself?”

Eve’s brain screams for her to say no. But what actually leaves her mouth is a quiet, “Yes.”

“Are you going to join in?”

Eve could, she really could, because she knows her team well enough to know that she should have at least ten minutes before any of them turn up, and knows her own body well enough after last night to know that it will take far less than ten minutes to get what she wants, even without Villanelle’s heavy breathing down the phone egging her on. And she could swivel her chair around so that she is facing away from the door and it would give her at least two or three seconds from hearing approaching footsteps to stop and sort herself out…

“No,” Eve says decisively, squeezing her thighs together to alleviate the throb that provides a very convincing counterargument as to why she should just give in.

“That’s a shame. I bet you sound really good when you come.”

Eve closes her eyes and lets her head fall back against the chair as she tries to control her breathing. Her right hand grips her phone so hard that she feels as though she might be able to crush it, and she holds it as close as possible to her ear so that she can hear every sound that Villanelle makes with maximum clarity.

“Do you wish you were here with me?” asks Villanelle. Without waiting for an answer, she continues, “I wish you were. The things I would do to you if you were here…”

Villanelle trails off into a breathy sigh that alerts Eve to the reality of the situation, that yes, Villanelle is actually going to touch herself while Eve listens over the phone. Eve opens her eyes and gets to her feet, crossing the office just so that she can open one of the windows to let some air in because it’s suddenly way too hot to be comfortable in here.

“What, uh… what would you do to me?” Eve dares to ask.

Eve returns to her chair, sitting down again before her legs give way beneath her, and spares a quick glance at the door to check that nobody is coming in or walking past.

“Oh, Eve.” Villanelle draws out Eve’s name like it the only thing grounding her to reality, then lets out another almost-moan, before she says, “What wouldn’t I do to you?”

Eve closes her eyes and imagines the situation that she’s missing out on by being at work instead of in Villanelle’s bedroom with her. Villanelle, nearly naked in the centre of a large bed, eyes squeezed shut in pleasure, one hand on her tits and the other rubbing circles inside skimpy lace underwear.

But then her mind goes further and starts thinking about what could be. Instead of Villanelle touching herself, it is now Eve touching her, kissing down Villanelle’s body and pushing her knees apart, putting her mouth between Villanelle’s legs and letting Villanelle’s hand in her hair guide her to the right spots, coaxing whimper after moan from Villanelle’s lips with each flick of her tongue and curl of her fingers. 

It’s Eve’s turn to let out a choked moan.

“Morning, Eve!”

Eve’s eyes snap open in horror as she hears Jess’s voice, and she abruptly ends the call without giving Villanelle any warning, placing her phone face down on the desk and sliding it away from herself.

And it just has to be Jess who enters the office, doesn’t it? Eve vaguely remembers, sometime in the distant past, making a mental vow to try and be more like Jess. Jess, who is sensible and dependable and respected by everybody. Jess, who doesn’t go out and get horrendously drunk on Fridays or spend her days daydreaming about making out with somebody twenty years younger than her. Jess, who not only manages to be responsible enough to take care of herself, but also the tiny human growing inside of her.

“Do we really need the window wide open?” Jess asks Eve, once she has dumped her bags beside her own desk.

“It’s hot in here,” shrugs Eve.

“It’s freezing,” Jess disagrees, wrapping her coat tighter around her body. “It’s supposed to snow in parts of the country today.”

Eve’s phone starts to vibrate on her desk and she snatches it up, recognising Villanelle’s number as the one calling her. She rejects the call then types out a quick message explaining the abrupt end to their conversation.

Eve Polastri:
Not alone anymore. Warned you I was at work.

“Do you mind if I close the window?” asks Jess.

When Eve shakes her head in response, Jess crosses the office and does just that.

Eve’s phone vibrates to alert her to a new message. She can’t read it fast enough.

Unknown number:
Guess I just have to do the rest myself then…

Villanelle has accompanied her message with a picture of the lower half of her body. Her stomach is bare, and there’s a hand toying at the waistband of red silk pyjama bottoms. Eve nearly combusts at the sight.

She swiftly switches off her phone and drops it into her bag. The sooner she can distract herself from the knowledge that Villanelle is currently touching herself while thinking about Eve, the better.

Oh God, Villanelle is currently touching herself while thinking about Eve.

Exactly how is Eve supposed to get on with her day knowing that?

“Are you okay?” Jess asks, stopping beside Eve on the way back to her desk, an expression of concern etched on her face. “You look a bit flushed. Maybe you’re coming down with something. Do you need to go and see a doctor?”

Eve doesn’t think a doctor will be able to help her. In fact, she can diagnose herself with a severe case of foolishness, with the symptoms starting approximately three weeks ago when she first decided to hire the escort that is the root cause of all her current problems.

“No, I’m fine,” Eve assures Jess. 

Eve is about as far from fine as it is possible to be. The very concept of Eve being fine has defied physics and transported itself to another dimension.

Eve wishes that she could transport herself to another dimension, one in which Jess didn’t interrupt and Eve got to hear Villanelle bring herself to climax on the other end of the phone.

But she can’t, and instead must endure this mundane Wednesday and make sure that her team meets Carolyn’s deadline.

“You’re early today,” comments Eve.

“Yeah,” shrugs Jess. “Well, Carolyn needs us to get those documents sorted out by the end of play today, doesn’t she?” Jess pauses and rubs her pregnant belly with one hand, before adding, “Plus, this little dickhead woke me up at five by tap-dancing on my bladder. I’ve been awake for hours. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I just haven’t had my morning coffee yet,” Eve answers, with a shrug to brush it off. 

Her eyes widening in realisation, Jess says, “Oh, that explains everything. Get some caffeine in you and let’s get to work.”

But how is Eve supposed to work after that?


 

It’s a struggle. Eve has already been working for eight hours when she checks the clock and it reads 9:46am.

Could this day get any slower?

Across the office, Kenny and Hugo seem to have devised some sort of game that involves throwing crumpled paper balls onto each other’s desks - Eve isn’t paying enough attention to fully understand the complex scoring system that they’ve developed and if her mind was in the right place, she would ask them to stop and focus on the deadline that Carolyn has given them. Instead, they get away with their silly games and the brunt of the work ends up being done by Jess with a little bit of help from Elena.

Eve excuses herself to go to the bathroom shortly before ten o’clock, where she stands in front of the mirror and lets the cold tap run for a few seconds, then splashes some water on her face. The cold water has its desired effect of startling Eve back to reality, but now Eve is alert enough to be aware of her own reflection staring back at her.

She looks exactly the same on the outside. Her hair is pushed up into a ponytail, a few stray curls already attempting to escape from the elastic band. There are a few familiar lines on her face, tiny creases around Eve’s eyes and mouth. She wears the same pale blue blouse that has been in her closet for nearly ten years, crumpled from lack of attention from an iron. 

And yet Eve feels like a completely new person. Villanelle makes Eve feel alive, awakening parts of her that she didn’t even realise existed. Eve has spent the last forty-five years of her life living a lie, trying to fit her triangular-shaped self into the round hole that was her marriage to Niko. Villanelle is the spritz of something fresh that Eve’s life has needed for a while.

It feels like it could be the beginning of a new adventure.

In an ideal world, Villanelle would show up at Eve’s place of work right now. Probably on a motorbike, because if Eve is going to indulge this fantasy then she’s going to properly commit. And then Villanelle would pass across a second helmet, and Eve would climb onto the back of the motorbike, and they would just drive. They would leave London, perhaps make their way down to Dover and head across into France, leaving all their troubles behind them in a cloud of dust churned up from the wheels of the bike.

Niko had a bike when Eve first met him. He offered to take her out for a ride on the back of it a few times, but Eve always turned him down, until eventually he sold it to pay for an engagement ring. Maybe if Eve had shown more of an interest in the motorbike, there never would have been an engagement ring, and Eve wouldn’t have been trapped in a lifeless marriage for so long.

Eve wants to run away with Villanelle. She wants to leave the memory of her failed marriage behind, leave her job and his country and live from hotel room to hotel room, exploring new places by day and exploring Villanelle’s body by night. It’s the fresh start that Eve needs to feel alive, her own personal renaissance.

It’s also completely unrealistic.

“Eve?”

The bathroom door opens, interrupting Eve’s train of thought, and Elena’s head peers inside.

“Are you okay?” asks Elena. “Jess mentioned that she thought you were coming down with something. Are you feeling sick?”

“No, I…”

Eve trails off and stares in the mirror with intensity, like it’s a staring competition between Eve and her reflection to see who will look away first. And just like the situation with Villanelle, there is no way for her to emerge from this victorious.

Eve’s life is fraught with lies but there is an awful lot of truth in the way that she feels about Villanelle. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to open up to Elena.

“I don’t remember it being like this with Niko,” confesses Eve.

She turns away from the mirror, leaning her back against the sink and running her hands through her hair to loosen the elastic holding it back in a ponytail.

Elena comes to stand beside her and asks, “Like what?”

“Like…” Eve struggles to find the words to explain the hurricane of emotions that has swept a path of destruction through her entire being. “Like this. So all-consuming. I think about her from the second I wake up until the very moment I fall asleep. And then I end up dreaming about her half the time too.”

If Elena is surprised by Eve’s outpouring of emotion, she does a brilliant job of masking it.

“Eve, that’s not a bad thing,” she says, resting a comforting hand on Eve’s arm. “Relationships are supposed to feel like that at the start. Aren’t you at least glad that it’s not as dry as what you had with Niko when you two were still married?”

Despite Eve’s constant state of confusion about her feelings for Villanelle, she has to admit that this is far better than anything she ever experienced with Niko. Eve started to go a little bit numb towards the end of her marriage to Niko, drowning in a current of monotony that threatened to wash her out into an ocean of despair. With Villanelle, everything is amplified onto a grander scale, every little emotion is felt on a scale of ten times what it was like with Niko. Even when their marriage started to break down, Eve never felt any strong negative emotions towards Niko, just complete disinterest. Villanelle makes Eve feel the very opposite of that, like Eve could spend decades peeling back the layers of Villanelle’s complex personality and keep uncovering new things. Life would never be boring with Villanelle.

As if Villanelle could even be a part of Eve’s life for long enough for Eve to get bored of her.

“I just don’t think this can last,” she vocalises to Elena. “I don’t think I can keep her interested in me for long enough to make this permanent.”

“Are you serious?” scoffs Elena, turning so that her full body faces Eve.

“Of course I’m serious!” nods Eve. “She’s twenty-five and looks like a supermodel! And I…”

Elena holds up a hand to interrupt Eve before she can carry on.

“I’m going to stop you there before you say anything self-deprecating, mostly because I’m an excellent friend but also because I saw the way that she looked at you on Friday night. That woman is obsessed with you!”

Eve thinks back to the events of Friday night, thinks of Villanelle getting angry and defending Eve against Cleo’s snide remarks, thinks of Villanelle taking a tequila shot after licking salt from Eve’s neck, thinks of the way that Villanelle pushed Eve against her own front door and kissed her when there was nobody except their Uber driver to watch them. And either Villanelle deserves a nomination for Escort of the Year, or there is some truth to what Elena says.

Eve remembers that the Christmas party is coming up soon, an excuse for employees of MI6 to get drunk and pretend to their spouses that they have normal jobs, and checks the watch on her wrist for the time. Eve has just under two hours until the deadline on the guest list, just under two hours to decide whether she will be turning up alone, as she did last year, or bringing a guest.

And wouldn’t Eve regret it in the long run if she never saw Villanelle again? Wouldn’t she regret it if she didn’t give herself one more opportunity to test the limits of her feelings for Villanelle?

To test the limits of Villanelle’s feelings for her.

“You really think so?” she asks Elena.

“Of course,” says Elena, with a smile. She leans into Eve’s side and says, “Who wouldn't fancy you like mad?”

Eve reaches for Elena’s hand and gives her fingers an appreciative squeeze.

“Give me two minutes to sort myself out and I’ll be back to help you all with this assignment.”

“Fab,” says Elena, as she makes her way to leave the bathroom. She stops at the door and turns around to add, “Don’t forget you can talk to me about anything. You know I love a good natter.”

Alone in the bathroom once more, Eve takes the hair elastic from around her wrist and pushes her hair back into its usual ponytail, sweeping up a few stray hairs as she ties it back. She feels better after unloading some of her feelings onto Elena, like she has more clarity of thought now that she has verbalised some of the effects that Villanelle has on her.

The next step is to verbalise some of that to Villanelle.

Which means she needs to hire Villanelle again.

Fantasy Villanelle strides into view at the front of Eve’s mind with a swing in her hips, and shoots Eve a seductive wink.

Fuck it.

Eve leaves the bathroom and returns to the office, shooting Elena a grateful smile as she drops into the chair behind her desk and reaches down into her bag to retrieve her phone. It takes a few seconds to switch it back on, but when the screen lights up once more, Eve ignores the red notification telling her that she has new messages from an unknown number and starts to compose a new email.

Until she gets a chance to speak to Villanelle face to face, this needs to stay professional.

Konstantin,

I am writing to check Villanelle’s availability on Saturday 15th December. If she is free, I would like to book her for the evening to be my date for the office Christmas party. I would be grateful if you could get back to me ASAP to confirm.

Regards,

Eve Polastri

 

Chapter Text

Eve think she deserves a goddamn medal.

Nothing that has ever been achieved by humankind - not building the Great Pyramids or climbing Mount Everest or landing on the moon - has taken as much courage and determination as Eve has spent in the effort to not succumb to Villanelle in the last week.

And okay, maybe she hasn’t been one hundred percent successful. Maybe she has touched herself once or twice (or eight times) since listening to Villanelle over the phone. But Eve is sure that the Egyptians must have faced setbacks when building the pyramids too. Regardless, what she has achieved is a true display of bravery.

Here are the facts: Eve has not called Villanelle since the incident in the office last Wednesday morning, nor has she answered any of Villanelle’s calls; Eve has only texted Villanelle twice since too, both times in response to something Villanelle has said to her, and both times when Eve was absolutely certain that nothing sexual could be construed from her words; and when Villanelle left Eve a voicemail message that quickly descended into breathy gasps and moans, Eve not only stopped listening to it one minute in, but also took a cold shower instead of attending to her body’s response to hearing Villanelle choke out Eve’s name like that.

(Why does it matter that Eve saved the message instead of deleting it? It’s not like she has plans to listen to it in the future…)

So, when Eve has so much self-restraint, and Villanelle is the one who is texting Eve and calling Eve and sending Eve pictures of her tits, Eve knows that she is the one winning.

Why then, oh why does it feel like she is losing? 

The main problem is that it is easy for Eve to tell herself that she is resisting Villanelle’s charms when Villanelle is not actually physically present for her to have to resist. The last time they were together was after the taxi ride home after dinner with Eve’s colleagues, where Eve’s biggest crime of the whole evening was indulging in a bit of harmless making out. Since then…

Eve has lost count of the number of orgasms she has given herself since she last saw Villanelle, but she wouldn’t be surprised if it was into double figures.

She never came that much when she was with Niko, and Villanelle hasn’t even touched her yet.

Eve reaches out for her phone and opens it up to the most recent message from Villanelle, received about twenty minutes ago.

Unknown number:
What time is your thing tonight?

It’s the most harmless message that Villanelle has sent all week. There’s not even a hint of flirtation.

Eve has kept all of her communication about the Christmas party completely professional. In fact, Eve hasn't spoken about it with Villanelle at all yet, only Konstantin, who should have passed on all of the relevant information.

But Eve has Villanelle’s number, and the party is in just a few hours, when Eve will be seeing Villanelle anyway, so what harm can there be in replying?

Eve Polastri:
Drinks reception starts at 6.30. Dinner at 7.30.

Eve decides that there are two possible routes that the Christmas party could take.

One; Eve is cool and collected and as resistant to Villanelle’s ways as she has been to the multitude of suggestive messages that Villanelle has sent her over the last week and a half.

Two; Eve lasts about five minutes before dragging Villanelle away to a secluded corner of the venue and begging Villanelle to fuck her.

And as much as Eve wants to back herself, if this were something that she could bet money on, she would be withdrawing her life savings and putting them on option number two.

Her phone buzzes with a reply from Villanelle and Eve snatches it up quickly.

Unknown number:
I’ll put on my most expensive underwear 😜

Option number three it is. The meltdown might already be starting.

Eve already knows what Villanelle looks like in her underwear. She thinks back to the first picture that Villanelle sent her, showing off a gorgeous black lace bra. Eve has looked at that photo more times than she cares to remember in the last week and a half. And there is a part of her, though she hates to admit it, that has been waiting for Villanelle to send another to add to the collection. She’s been waiting, and waiting, and receiving any number of suggestive messages but no damn photos, and still waiting…

All the waiting is almost enough for Eve to throw common sense out of the window and ask to see the real thing tonight.

Except that Eve has promised herself that she’s not going to let that happen. Tonight might be her final night with Villanelle so she’ll let Villanelle kiss her and dance with her and possibly even encourage some heavy petting, but there is a big red line when it comes to the removal of clothes and Eve isn’t going to cross it.

No matter how much of a temptation Villanelle might be.

Eve Polastri:
I’ll meet you there at 6.30. Konstantin has the address of the hotel.

Eve turns her phone on silent and drops it into her bag. She has so many things to get done this afternoon and only four hours until she needs to leave for the party. She can do without any more distractions from Villanelle.


 

“Hey, girlfriend!”

The last person that Eve expects to find on her doorstep when the doorbell rings just after six is Villanelle. If Eve had known that it was going to be her, she would have made herself a little more presentable, instead of answering the door wearing nothing but a fluffy bathrobe and her makeup only half-done.

“Villanelle?” frowns Eve, wrapping the robe tighter around her body. “I thought we agreed to meet there.”

Villanelle steps into Eve’s house without invitation and holds out a bottle of expensive champagne.

“Yes, but I wanted to surprise you.”. She gestures at Eve’s attire, and then says, “I love the robe. I think it goes really well with my dress.”

For the first time, Eve examines Villanelle’s outfit. Eve had been half-expecting Villanelle to show up in another suit after the impact of the one she wore to Niko’s wedding, perhaps even a tuxedo. Eve’s mouth goes a little dry at the thought. Instead, Villanelle has opted to go to the complete other end of the fashion spectrum. Dressed in a black evening dress that is elaborately decorated with lace and sequins, Villanelle looks like a stylish gothic mermaid, complete with dark red lipstick. With each step that Villanelle takes, a thigh-high slit in the side of the dress reveals a tantalising glimpse of leg.

Eve might as well show up to the party in her bathrobe. Anything that she puts on will look incredibly unfashionable next to what Villanelle is wearing.

“I’m running late,” admits Eve. “And I could do without the sass. I’m stressed enough as it is.”

“Okay,” says Villanelle. She holds up the bottle of champagne and then continues, “Why don’t you go upstairs and change and I’ll open this?”

Eve sighs with relief and starts to make her way back up the stairs.

“Where do you keep your champagne glasses?” Villanelle calls after her.

“I don’t have any. Just use mugs.”

“Mugs?” Eve hears Villanelle cry out in disgust. “Eve, what kind of house if this if you don’t have champagne glasses?”

Eve scoffs and doesn’t indulge Villanelle with an answer, disappearing back into her bedroom to finish getting ready.

It is just as Eve is adding the final touches to her makeup that there is a soft knock on her bedroom door.

“Come in!”

Villanelle steps into the bedroom with a mug of champagne in each hand and sets one down on the dresser in front of Eve. She drops down on the end of Eve’s bed and takes a sip from her own.

“So, this is where the magic happens?”

Eve’s heartbeat quickens in her chest. Having spent the last week and a half thinking about not much else than Villanelle being in her bedroom, she never once thought that Villanelle might actually end up in here. It’s quite surreal actually, to the point where Villanelle has infiltrated so many of Eve’s recent dreams that Eve can’t be one hundred percent sure that she isn’t dreaming right now. The only indication that this isn’t a dream is the fact that Villanelle is still fully clothed.

“Which dress are you going to wear?”

Eve glances up at the three dresses hung on the back of her bedroom door.

“I can’t decide,” she admits.

“Wear the white one,” Villanelle tells her decisively. “We will look amazing together in black and white. A real power couple.”

Eve puts down her makeup brush and stands up, collecting the white dress from the back of the door and going to stand in front of her full length mirror. The dress will look good on Eve - she knows that it’s a flattering fit from when she tried it on in the shop six months ago, but she hasn’t yet had the right occasion to wear it out.

“Okay,” agrees Eve.

She reaches for the tie on her bathrobe, then remembers that Villanelle is behind her.

“I’m not looking,” pipes up Villanelle, sensing Eve’s hesitation.

Eve drops the robe and lets it pool at her feet, thankful that she put on a pair of underwear below the robe when she got out of the shower. Keeping her back to Villanelle, Eve slips the dress off its hanger and steps into it, pulling the straps up her arms and over her shoulders. When she reaches around behind her, she located the zip but fumbles with it, unable to draw it up.

“Let me help you,” says Villanelle.

Before Eve can process the words, she hears Villanelle approach her from behind and feels a hand cover her own. Villanelle takes the zip and gently tugs it upwards, closing the back of Eve’s dress. When the zip reaches the top, Villanelle’s hands smooth down the fabric of the dress, then she takes a step backwards.

“You look amazing,” she assures Eve. 

Eve stands in front of the mirror again and checks out her appearance. The dress does look good on her, way more glamorous than anything Eve would normally wear on a day-to-day basis. Eve decides that Villanelle was right in her choice out of the three dresses - arriving together in a bold black and white, especially with Villanelle looking like that, they are sure to turn a few heads.

Eve glances at her wristwatch and her eyes widen when she sees that it is already nearly twenty past six. It will take them close to thirty minutes to get across London at this time on a Saturday evening.

“We’re going to be late,” says Eve, crossing over to her dresser and taking a swig from the mug of champagne as she starts to rummage around in her jewellery box for accessories.

“Important people never arrive on time,” says Villanelle. “Are you nearly ready to go?”

Eve grabs the clutch bag sitting on the end of her bed and checks that she has her phone and keys inside, before looking back up at Villanelle and smiling.

“Let’s go.”


 

Arriving late for the champagne reception ends up working out for the best. Most guests have already arrived when Eve and Villanelle step into the hotel arm-in-arm, mingling and chatting amicably with each other. Eve picks up two champagne flutes from the table by the door, passing one across to Villanelle and then, spotting the back of Elena’s head from across the room, Eve makes a beeline for her, weaving in and out of the other guests with a few polite mutterings of ‘excuse me’.

“Eve!” Elena greets her with an enthusiastic hug, almost spilling champagne down them both. “We were beginning to wonder if you’d got lost.”

“Fashion crisis,” Eve explains, offering out a warm smile to Kenny and Jess as a way of greeting them too.

“You look stunning,” Elena tells her. She glances across at Villanelle, taking in the elegant sequined dress she wears, then adds, “Both of you. It’s good to see you again, Julie.”

“You too,” Villanelle says politely, in Julie’s accent.

“You must be the infamous Julie,” says Jess, offering out a hand for Villanelle to shake.

“This is Jess,” Eve introduces them to each other. “She’s the responsible one in our office.”

“You know, I‘d never been the responsible one in the group until I started working with you lot,” says Jess, resting a hand on her pregnant belly. “And I kind of like it.”

“Speaking of responsible people,” says Elena, rolling her eyes, “here comes Hugo.”

Hugo saunters over, wearing an expensive-looking navy velvet jacket and a bow tie, a pretty brunette girl on his arm, who he introduces to everybody as Effie.

“She’s an escort,” Villanelle murmurs under her breath, quiet enough that only Eve can hear her, though the others are preoccupied with making polite smalltalk with Effie.

“You know her?” asks Eve, arching an eyebrow at Villanelle.

“No. But I can tell.”

“Is it obvious?” asks Eve. There’s a brief moment of panic, in which Eve worries that people are able to do the same with Villanelle, to take one look at her and immediately know that everything Eve is telling them is a complete lie. “Can people tell that you’re an escort?”

“No,” Villanelle shakes her head. “I’m different from most escorts.”

Eve almost snorts at Villanelle’s arrogance, but the laughter does settle her anxiety a little.

“Oh, really?” she teases Villanelle in a low voice. “How so?”

“Eve,” says Villanelle, frowning incredulously, “do you even need to ask?”

Eve glances across at Effie and tries to picture how her life would be different if she had chosen a different escort when browsing the agency website. She finds it difficult to imagine anybody but Villanelle by her side. Effie certainly seems nice enough from the way that she’s making an effort to engage in conversation with the others, but she doesn’t seem to have quite the same charm as Villanelle. And there isn’t the same initial sexual attraction as Eve feels with Villanelle. Eve still remembers stepping into that coffee shop for the first time and being overwhelmed by Villanelle’s presence. Eve can’t imagine anybody else having that effect on her.

If she had picked a different escort for Niko’s wedding, would Eve have seen them again? Would she have been tempted into hiring them a second, then a third time? Would she have been consumed by thoughts of them, sometimes unable to even concentrate on anything else? Would she have spent the last week and a half compulsively touching herself while thinking about them?

Eve is pretty sure that the answer to all those questions would be no.

Her life would certainly be a lot simpler if she had chosen somebody else, and her bank account would have a lot more funds in it. But Eve finds herself not really caring much about either of those things, not when she has the obvious benefits of the situation standing right beside her in a stunning gown.

“You’re certainly something,” Eve admits aloud.


Eve manages to keep Villanelle away from Carolyn Martens until after dinner. The empty dessert plates have been cleared from the tables and a guy that Eve vaguely recognises from another department has taken over the PA system to run a raffle while the three-piece band who played some light jazz music during the meal dismantle their equipment to make way for the DJ.

She convinces Villanelle not to buy any raffle tickets, remembering Villanelle’s competitive edge during the card game in the pub two weeks ago and knowing that the addition of actual prizes to the mix will only make that worse. Instead, the pair of them leave the rest of their group fumbling over strips of paper raffle tickets at the table, and head over to the bar.

“What do you want?” Eve asks Villanelle. “It’s an open bar until eleven.”

“May I recommend the whiskey?”

Eve startles slightly as she hears Carolyn’s voice from her other side. Carolyn attracts the bartender’s attention with a simple wave of her hand, and is apparently important enough that the bartender knows what she wants to drink without her even needing to order. Eve watches as he takes a bottle of whiskey from the shelf behind the bar and pours a generous amount of the amber liquid into a glass tumbler.

“Irish, of course,” says Carolyn, thanking the bartender with an incline of her head. “It’s infinitely better than anything the Scots have ever produced.”

“The same for me, please,” Villanelle says to the bartender. “And Eve, what would you like?”

Eve hesitates, still trying to wrap her head around the fact that Villanelle seems to be bonding with Eve’s boss over expensive whiskey, then says, “A glass of Pinot Grigio, please.”

As the bartender sorts out their drinks, Villanelle leans across Eve with a hand extended out to Carolyn, and then says, “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Julie.”

It’s probably only a matter of seconds before Carolyn shakes Villanelle’s hand, but it feels like an eternity to Eve. Anxiety bubbles away beneath the surface because Eve knows that if anybody is capable of seeing through their ruse, it is Carolyn. 

“Carolyn Martens,” Carolyn introduces herself, taking Villanelle’s fingers in her own and giving them a curt shake.

“You are Eve’s boss?” asks Villanelle.

“I am.”

“You are very elegant, Carolyn. I love your outfit.”

Carolyn, who normally dresses in well-cut suits and crisp white blouses, has chosen to wow in a sleek forest-green dress. She’s the only person who even comes close showing Villanelle up.

Eve feels a stirring of jealousy in the pit of the stomach. First the whiskey, and now they seem to share an interest in stylish clothing. Eve remembers Villanelle admitting that she was into older women and wonders if Carolyn is her type too.

A new raffle number is called out through the speakers and Carolyn flicks through a couple of blue strips of numbers.

“Oh dear,” she frowns. “Blue thirty-five. That’s me. I’ve got a really nasty habit of winning these things. Last year I came away with a splendid hamper of French cheese - it went down a treat with Christmas guests - but people are going to start thinking that I’m using my Russian contacts to rig the damn thing!”

With her glass of whiskey in one hand and her raffle tickets in the other, Carolyn strides away from the bar to collect her prize from the stage at the front of the room.

“I like your boss,” says Villanelle, leaning on the bar and tracking Carolyn with her eyes as she walks away. “She is way cooler than mine. Konstantin is just a pain in my ass.”

“Yeah, well Carolyn is…” Eve starts, trying to think of something that she can say that might make Villanelle a little less interested in Carolyn. She comes up empty. Carolyn is nothing short of brilliant and it doesn’t surprise Eve that Villanelle is able to recognise that instantly.

“Do you think she would offer me a job?” asks Villanelle, tilting her head to the side as she watches Carolyn collect a bottle of port from the front of the room.

“What, like a normal job?” asks Eve, her eyes widening. “Or to hire you as an escort?”

“I don’t want her to hire me as an escort,” Villanelle scoffs, as if the very idea is ridiculous. “I meant in your office. Don’t you think that would be cool, you and me working side by side?”

There is a small part of Eve’s brain that screams at her not to indulge in the fantasy, but that is quickly squashed by the other part that starts to picture what it would be like to have Villanelle working with her. Eve imagines Villanelle turning up at the office each day in a different striking pantsuit, strolling down the hallways of the MI6 Headquarters with her hands buried deep in her pockets and a familiar air of arrogance in her walk. Eve doesn’t know if working as an escort gives somebody the kind of transferable skills that would be useful at MI6, but she does know that Villanelle speaks at least three languages fluently, if not more, and that she has a persuasive charm just from existing. Maybe Villanelle has the qualities to make a great field agent.

Eve hopes that Villanelle is only joking. She doesn’t know how she would concentrate on her work knowing that Villanelle could walk past her team’s office at any moment.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing?” gushes Villanelle. “You wouldn’t have to hire me if you wanted to see me. We could have a scandalous office romance instead. You know, secret meetings in the copy room. Maybe a quick fumble in the stationary store cupboard at lunch. Is that what you want, Eve?”

I don't know what I want, Eve recalls telling Villanelle at the end of their last night together, right before Villanelle walked away and climbed into the Uber that took her home. Except that has never been further from the truth. Eve knows that she wants Villanelle, knows that she has probably wanted Villanelle since she first laid eyes on her but it has taken her this long to understand those feelings. She wants Villanelle but she also wants Villanelle to want her back. And this, Villanelle propositioning her by giving a glimpse into an imaginary future together, only makes Eve want her more.

Does Villanelle want her too? Sometimes Eve is convinced that Villanelle is only acting, telling Eve what she wants to hear because that’s what she needs to do in order to be good at her job. And then other times…

Nobody kisses that well unless they actually feel something, right? Nobody is that good at playing pretend.

And now Villanelle is suggesting that if circumstances were different, that even if Eve wasn’t paying her for her time, she would still be interested.

As if Eve didn’t already suspect that. 

When Eve doesn’t answer her question for a few moments, Villanelle takes a sip from her whiskey and leans in closer, before she says, “I’m just kidding, anyway. I would get so bored working in an office.”

Chapter Text

The lights dim once the raffle has finished and the DJ starts playing her set. It takes a couple of songs, but soon the dancefloor is full of bodies, the various levels of drunkenness shown through movement.

Elena takes the lead from their table, more than a little bit merry from singlehandedly getting through an entire bottle of wine during dinner. She drags Kenny to his feet, then points one finger at Eve while beckoning with her other hand, and because it’s nearly Christmas, Eve thinks fuck it and stands up.

“Are you going to join me?” asks Eve, extending a hand out to Villanelle. 

“Have you been practicing since the wedding?” asks Villanelle. “Because I’m not sure I want to be in the same room as those moves.”

Eve leans closer to Villanelle, like she’s about to go in for a kiss, but stops a couple of inches from letting their lips meet.

“Why don’t you come and find out?” she whispers, before she pulls back and turns away to follow Elena and Kenny onto the dance floor.

It’s only a few seconds before Eve feels a pair of hands on her waist from behind and a pair of lips nuzzling against the sensitive spot just below her ear. Eve smiles and presses her body back into Villanelle, deliberately grinding her ass against Villanelle’s hips just like they danced together at the wedding. Eve feels rather than hears the hitch in Villanelle’s breath, and the hands on her waist tighten possessively.

Eve spins in Villanelle’s embrace, grabbing both of Villanelle’s hands and linking their fingers together as she continues to dance. She tries to leave her inhibitions behind, remembering the way that Villanelle mocked her awkward movements at Niko’s wedding. She shimmies her hips, letting the moves ripple through her entire body. And though Eve knows that she is far from the best dancer, she finds herself feeling more comfortable in Villanelle’s presence now that she knows her better, less concerned about what Villanelle thinks.

“You have been practicing,” murmurs Villanelle, as her eyes wander down Eve’s body and settle on her swaying hips. “Very sexy.”

Eve’s dance moves aren’t the only thing that has changed since Niko’s wedding. Eve no longer feels like she is performing for somebody. Dancing with Villanelle is about having fun, about dancing because it’s what she wants to be doing, not because she needs other people to be convinced by their relationship.

At this point, they know each other well enough and their acting is good enough that Eve is convinced.

Villanelle texts Eve good morning sometimes, right before she makes a suggestive joke that has Eve blushing down at her phone as she arrives at work.

Villanelle is open about the fact that she fantasises about Eve, about the fact that she thinks about Eve when she touches herself or when she fucks another woman - perhaps not a conventional way of telling somebody that you’re into them but nothing about Villanelle is conventional.

Villanelle dances up against Eve like she can’t physically be close enough to be happy, and looks at Eve with mixed wonder and hunger.

But Villanelle also charges Eve for her time.

Eve is confused. Like really fucking confused. Eve has spent years of her life studying the brain and the way it works - she has a Master’s degree in Psychology, and yet she cannot quite understand Villanelle. She’s an enigma, a conundrum, an impossible jigsaw puzzle with an extra fifth corner that doesn’t quite fit together in the way it should, and Eve just wants to be able to figure her out so that she can work out where she fits in too.

There are other things that Eve wants to do to Villanelle too. Perhaps later, when Eve has a little more courage…


 

They dance for a while. Eve doesn’t quite know how long for, only that she is having a lot of fun. She dances with Villanelle, then with Elena and Kenny, then with Villanelle again. When Mr Brightside comes on, Hugo drags her into the middle of a big group of people who aren’t really dancing, but instead just jumping up and down with their arms around each other while they belt out the lyrics. Eve plays along until the song finishes, then she finds Villanelle’s hand again and excuses them both from the group.

She leads Villanelle back to their table, which is empty but for Jess, who sits with a hand resting on her swollen belly and watches the others dance. Jess pays very little attention to Villanelle and Eve, smiling a quick greeting at them when they drop into two chairs on the far side of the table to her, before looking away again as if she senses that they want to be alone.

“Konstantin told me that you don’t want to hire my services again after tonight,” Villanelle says in a low voice, reaching for the jug of water in the middle of the table and filling two glasses.

“Yeah, well…” says Eve, as she accepts the glass of water that Villanelle has poured for her. “I mean, I can’t keep hiring you forever.”

If Eve had huge amounts of money, if she suddenly won the lottery or developed the superpower to turn anything she touches to gold, Eve would hire Villanelle every week. Every day if she could, just to see her, to kiss her, to touch her.

“Why not?” asks Villanelle, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs at the knee. She tilts her head to the side ever so slightly, then pouts dramatically at Eve as she asks, “Am I not good enough?”

“No, you’re great!” Eve is quick to correct Villanelle. “It’s nothing like that at all.”

“Then what is it?”

“I’m not rich,” Eve reminds Villanelle. “I don’t have infinite money to keep throwing at you.”

The corners of Villanelle’s lips curl up into a little smile as she looks at Eve. Eve is left feeling like she’s missed the punchline to a joke that she didn’t even realise was being told.

“Check your purse,” instructs Villanelle, flicking her gaze across to the clutch bag that Eve placed down on the table when she picked up her glass of water.

“What?” frowns Eve, confused by Villanelle’s strange instruction. “Why?”

“Check it.”

Setting down her drink, Eve picks up the purse and flicks open the clasp that holds it shut. Villanelle watches with interest, uncrossing her legs so that she can lean forward and see what Eve is doing. Eve peers inside with caution, even more confused than before when she spots an unfamiliar brown envelope nestled inside the bag in between her phone and her wallet.

“What’s this?” 

Eve extracts the envelope and lifts the flap so that she can inspect the contents. Her mouth falls open as she realises that it is full of cash, a wad of crisp banknotes that must amount to a few hundred pounds.

This definitely wasn’t here earlier.

Eve looks up at Villanelle, waiting for an explanation as she tries to work out at which point this evening Villanelle was able to put the money into her bag unnoticed.

“This is your refund,” explains Villanelle, as if the answer is obvious.

She stretches a hand out to Eve, her fingers catching the crook of Eve’s elbow and pulling until Eve has no choice but to stumble into Villanelle’s lap. Eve adjusts her position, settling so that she is sitting comfortably sideways across Villanelle’s legs, one arm draped around Villanelle’s shoulders for support while the other clutches at the envelope of money. 

“Why are you giving me a refund?” asks Eve, still not understanding what Villanelle’s motive is.

Villanelle lets one of her arms wrap around the small of Eve’s back, while the fingers of her other hand toy absently with the hem of Eve’s dress just above her knee. This new position feels oddly intimate, as if they are an established couple and not two people who still no very little more about each other than the shape of the other’s mouth.

“Because you don’t have infinite money to keep throwing at me,” answers Villanelle, parroting Eve’s world’s from earlier back at her.

“No, really,” asks Eve, eager for the truth. “Why are you giving this to me?”

Villanelle waits for a moment, holding Eve’s gaze as her finger continue to paint distracting circles on the outside of Eve’s knee.

“Because I don’t want it.”

“Bullshit,” says Eve, barely even waiting for Villanelle to finish giving her answer before she interjects.

Eve only has to glance at Villanelle’s dress to know that she is lying. So much about Villanelle remains a complete mystery to Eve, but this is one of the few things that Eve is clear on. Villanelle has been impeccably dressed each time Eve has seen her, each designer outfit probably costing more than a single one of Eve’s pay checks. Villanelle rented a Porsche for Niko’s wedding, she showed up at Eve’s house earlier this evening clutching a bottle of expensive champagne. There are so many obvious signs that Villanelle not only has a lot of money, but also enjoys spending it. Eve doesn’t believe for one moment that Villanelle would turn away money.

Eve temporarily entertains the idea that Villanelle is breaking up with her, that she’s giving Eve a refund because she’s about to leave the party early and tell Eve that she doesn’t want to be hired again. But Eve disregards that idea because of their current position and the hand on Eve’s knee, tracing circles that gradually move higher and higher beneath the hem of Eve’s dress.

Villanelle leans in closer and murmurs, in a voice that is so low that it sends a tremor of arousal straight to Eve’s core.

“I want you to use it to buy yourself a new coat.”

“Oh, piss off,” blurts out Eve, rolling her eyes and playfully swatting at Villanelle’s shoulder. “I like my coat!”

“It is very you .”

Villanelle says the words as if they are supposed to be a compliment, but Eve can’t help but detect a trace of sarcasm in her voice too.

“Should I be offended?” asks Eve. “You don’t like my coat but you think it’s very me?”

Villanelle’s eyes widen and she is quick to defend her words.

“No, no offence intended! It’s a very sensible coat and you are …”

“I’m what?” interrupts Eve, arching an eyebrow at Villanelle. “Think very carefully before you speak.”

Villanelle does pause before she speaks, but instead of using those few seconds of silence to consider the answer she is going to give, she instead uses them to let her hand roam further up Eve’s thigh. It’s still a way off being inappropriate, but Villanelle’s fingers are just starting to dip into dangerous territory - dangerous in that Eve’s mind is trying to fight off thoughts of what she would let Villanelle do to her if they weren’t in a public place.

“When was the last time you did something spontaneous, Eve?”

Eve snorts. Her life used to be boring and predictable. Day after day of waking up to Niko, of pretending to be interested in hearing about Niko’s day, of eating his cooking while watching crime dramas on the television, of mediocre sex that often finished before Eve could reach an orgasm.

And maybe there is some truth to Villanelle’s words. Maybe her coat belongs to the old Eve, the Eve who led the same repetitive life, who existed in heterosexual monotony when she could have been living .

Maybe she does need a new coat, one that represents the new Eve that she has become since meeting Villanelle.

Her life has been pretty crazy recently, and Eve decides to remind Villanelle of that fact.

“I hired an escort as my date for my ex-husband’s wedding on a drunken impulse,” Eve says to Villanelle, “and despite promising myself it would be a one-time thing, I’ve hired her twice since and I’m currently sitting on her lap.”

“Actually,” Villanelle points out, gesturing to the envelope of money in Eve’s purse, “you only hired me one more time.”

Letting her fingers play with Villanelle’s hair, Eve leans a little closer and whispers, “Tell me the truth. Why have you returned the money?”

Eve has her suspicions, but she wants to hear it come from Villanelle before she will allow herself to truly accept the idea that Villanelle likes her as more than just another client.

For the first time since Eve has known Villanelle, she looks vulnerable. There’s a crease in her forehead from her frown and a lost look in her eyes, like maybe she isn’t one hundred percent sure what her motive for slipping the money back into Eve’s purse is.

“Money is power,” explains Villanelle, speaking slowly as she carefully considers each word. “Don’t get me wrong, I like power. I like to be in control.”

In typical fashion, Villanelle’s mouth twitches into an almost-smirk as she says the last few words. Eve’s thighs clench together at the implication, except her position on Villanelle’s lap means there is no way of hiding it.

Villanelle’s fingers tighten on Eve’s leg in response as she continues talking.

“But I don’t want this kind of power over you.”

If Eve isn’t paying Villanelle for her company tonight, that means that Villanelle isn’t here in a professional capacity.

Which means that Villanelle is Eve’s actual honest-to-god date.

Which means that none of this, not the dancing nor the sitting in Villanelle’s lap nor any hypothetical displays of affection that could still happen tonight, is for show.

Which means that Eve has a chance to show Villanelle that she does actually have genuine feelings for her.

“Are we not past the point of you needing to pay me to see me?” Villanelle murmurs in a low voice. “I don’t think I was being subtle when I masturbated over the phone.”

Eve closes her eyes and thinks back to the moment Villanelle is talking about. She remembers the boldness of Villanelle’s words, the sultry tone in her voice, the heat pooling deep in Eve’s abdomen as she listened to Villanelle gasp and whimper down the phone. Villanelle is right that it lacked subtlety, but…

But is it not just an underhand (and really effective) marketing strategy that Villanelle uses on all her clients to get them to come back for more?

Eve decides to say as much.

“I wondered if you were just trying to trick me into hiring you again,” she confesses, letting her eyes flutter open so that she can look at Villanelle again.

“I don’t want your money, Eve,” Villanelle tells her, brushing some of Eve’s hair behind her ear with absent fingers as she talks. “Your body, yes. But not your money.”

Eve hardly knows how to process this information. There is an obvious response, but that one requires a hell of a lot more privacy than they currently have. 

Unless…

There must be somewhere around here that offers some privacy. And if there isn’t, then this is a hotel and Eve has an envelope full of cash in her purse that she definitely wouldn’t be too bothered about spending on one of the many rooms upstairs.

Besides, Villanelle has a point.

When was the last time Eve did something spontaneous?

Eve grabs the hand on her leg and links their fingers together, then slides off Villanelle’s lap and uses their entwined hands to pull Villanelle to her feet. She starts to lead her away, weaving in and out of the tables that fill this side of the hotel’s function room.

“What are you doing?” asks Villanelle, though she puts up no resistance and lets Eve take the lead.

“Being spontaneous.”

Eve drags Villanelle through a door into an access corridor leading to the bathrooms. As soon as they are out of the main room, Eve drops Villanelle’s hand and weaves her arm around her back, resting her hand on the swell of Villanelle’s hip. It’s suggestive enough to imply which gutter her thoughts are currently in, and when Villanelle spots the female bathroom at the end of the hallway, Eve hears her snigger.

“Eve, are you sneaking me off to the bathroom? You’re such a naught-”

Villanelle cuts herself off mid-word as soon as they push the door to the bathroom open and realise that there are only two stalls and a queue of four other women.

Of course there is a queue.

Eve drops her hand from Villanelle’s hip and folds her arms innocently across her own chest. In her haste to get Villanelle somewhere private, she had completely ignored the possibility that there might be other people in the bathroom. And as much as Eve wants Villanelle, she doesn’t think that she’s willing to sacrifice her dignity by dragging Villanelle into the next available bathroom stall in front of people that she works with.

Perhaps there is a single-stalled disabled bathroom around here somewhere...

Villanelle has a better idea and swoops in like Eve’s savior, leaning down and whispering into Eve’s ear, “We could always leave the party and go back to mine. If that’s something that you want.”

Eve looks up and is met with a lustful gaze that probably mirrors her own.

“I would like that,” she tells Villanelle earnestly.

Villanelle’s lips curl up into a smile. She takes Eve’s hand again and leads her out of the bathroom, back into the main function room. A part of Eve just wants to leave, already eyeballing the exit and trying to work out if she’ll be able to keep her hands off Villanelle for long enough to be able to make it back to Villanelle’s apartment. But Villanelle seems to have a small part of her brain that hasn’t yet been so overcome that she can’t think straight, and instead leads Eve back into the throng of dancing party guests so that Eve can say goodbye to her friends.

Eve says a quick goodbye to Hugo, then spends what feels like an eternity wrapped up in Elena’s arms while Elena spills a drunken monologue about how much she loves Eve. Villanelle is somewhere behind Eve, patiently waiting while Eve indulges Elena rambling, until eventually Kenny steps in and pries Elena’s arms from around Eve.

“I think Eve wants to leave,” he tells Elena. “And I think you need some water.”

“Look after my girl, Julie!” Elena says to Villanelle. “Treat her like a princess!”

Villanelle steps forward and wraps an arm around Eve’s waist.

“For you, Elena, I will treat Eve like a queen .”

Elena places a hand on either side of Villanelle’s head, then leans forward and presses a sloppy kiss to each of Villanelle’s cheeks in turn.

“You’re a good egg, Julie.”

Eve bids the rest of her goodbyes, wishing Kenny an extra ‘good luck’ for taking care of Elena, then before she knows it, Eve is in the back of a taxi as Villanelle reels off her own address to the driver.

And then, finally , they are alone.

Chapter Text

Villanelle’s apartment is every bit as glamorous as the woman who lives there.

It has the feel of somebody in their mid-twenties with a busy lifestyle - a few odd trinkets standing on shelves, a set of weights lined up in one corner, mismatched cushions on the couch. The whole apartment is very open-plan. The main living space is divided into a kitchen area and the living room, and Eve’s eyes get drawn through the archway in the wall to the right, beyond which she can see a dresser scattered with cosmetics and beauty products.

But there’s also hint of money injected in the place too, that makes it stand out from Eve’s own house that is cluttered with cheap Ikea furniture. A vintage chaise longue upholstered in dark velvet stands in front of the window in place of a couch, an upright piano made of dark mahogany and yellowing ivory keys is home to an antique-looking vase, and the sheets on the bed that Eve can just see through the archway appear to be silk.

This place, while only a mid-sized one-bedroom apartment, drips with luxury. It even smells like Villanelle’s perfume, expensive and French.

Villanelle takes off her shoes by the door and then strides into the kitchen, taking two glasses down from a shelf and filling them one at a time with cold water from the tap. Unsure what she is supposed to do, whether she should take a seat and make herself at home, or wait for Villanelle to tell her what to do, or hell , even just make a beeline for the bedroom and invite Villanelle to follow her, Eve slips out of her own heels and sighs with relief as her bare feet relax against the floorboards after hours in uncomfortable shoes.

Eve watches Villanelle leave the kitchen and cross over to the chaise longue, where she places both glasses of water down on the nearby coffee table and drops into the seat. Villanelle says nothing to Eve, but it’s as clear an invitation as any words that could have been spoken.

Eve goes to join her, perching on the edge of the seat about as far from Villanelle as it is possible to be, like there is an invisible magnet pushing them apart.

“Are you nervous?”

Villanelle’s voice cuts through the silence, echoing around the high ceilings and wooden floors.

“No,” answers Eve, though her voice lets her down with a traitorous shake.

“Drink the water,” suggests Villanelle. “You’ll feel better.”

Eve reaches for the glass of water closest to her with a trembling hand and lifts it to her lips. Villanelle watches intently as Eve takes a sip, her dark eyes not straying from Eve once. Eve holds her gaze over the top of the glass for what feels like an eternity, but when Villanelle’s lips curve upwards into a little smile, Eve can’t bear it any longer and drags her eyes away, looking at anything but Villanelle.

“I like your apartment,” says Eve, as a way of filling the quiet.

“I like my apartment too.”

They fall into silence again, one so awkward that it is almost like they are complete strangers, rather than two people who have exchanged saliva and masturbated about each other. Eve takes another sip of her water just to give herself something to do.

“Are you enjoying your water?”

Eve lowers the glass, then answers, “Yes, thank you.”

She tries to think of something else to say, something to prolong the conversation so that they don’t have to acknowledge the fact that they are here, in Villanelle’s apartment with more privacy than they have ever been afforded before. Her eyes fall on the piano stood against the nearby wall, and she remembers the years of piano lessons she took as a child. There was a time when she used to be able to fumble her way through the first page of Für Elise , until even Eve’s stereotype of an Asian mother had to acknowledge that Eve was never going to be a musical prodigy and started funnelling money into swimming lessons instead. Eve imagines Villanelle sitting at the piano stool, slender fingers dancing across the keys as she plays a flowing melody.

“Do you play?” Eve asks conversationally gesturing to the piano.

“What are we doing here, Eve?”

Eve’s head snaps up and she looks across at Villanelle. The question is almost exasperated yet Villanelle looks anything but, lounging against the back of the seat with her arms spread wide and one ankle resting on the opposite knee. She arches an eyebrow at Eve as she waits expectantly for an answer.

Eve leans forward to place the half-drained glass of water back on the coffee table, then says, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Villanelle just smirks.

“You’re a clever woman, Eve. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

Eve half snorts and slumps back against the cushions.

“You think so?”

Villanelle nods.

“You’ve made it this far.” She leans a little closer to Eve, then adds, “And I can help to show you the rest.”

Eve lets her head fall back and laughs.

“I bet you say that to all the women you bring back here,” she says, as a way of deflecting from the matter at hand, which is that she really wants to put her lips to Villanelle’s just to stop her from teasing Eve any more.

“They aren’t you though.”

There’s an intense look in Villanelle’s wide eyes, one that tells Eve she’s deadly serious and not just flirting.

“What do you mean by that?” asks Eve.

“I think you know what I mean,” says Villanelle, refusing to wilt under pressure.

Eve’s mouth goes incredibly dry, but she keeps her cool and reaches for the glass of water. Once she has taken another gulp, she replaces the glass and leans back in the seat again.

She looks at Villanelle, who doesn’t seem to have taken her eyes off Eve in minutes, and tilts her head to the side, maintaining the utmost calm as she says, “I don’t think I do.”

Villanelle’s teeth dig into her lower lip as she fights off a smile, as if she is enjoying this back and forth all too much.

“Can I ask you a question, Eve?”

Eve shrugs and answers, “Sure.”

Villanelle uncrosses her legs, letting both feet touch the floor, and she leans forward with an elbow resting on each of her spread knees.

“Do you masturbate about me?”

Eve’s eyes almost burst out of her skull. That was not the question she was expecting Villanelle to ask her at all. From Villanelle’s expression before she spoke, Eve had been expecting it to have been something serious on her mind.

Eve tries to regain her composure as quickly as she can, but she knows that Villanelle has already seen her reaction. It doesn’t seem quite fair - the last time the topic of masturbation came up between them it was over the phone and Eve didn’t have to work quite as hard to mask her emotions.

“That’s a little personal,” deflects Eve, glancing away from Villanelle.

“Eve,” says Villanelle, drawing out her name in one long syllable. “There’s no need to be ashamed. Everybody has urges.”

Eve remembers why she invited Villanelle to the Christmas party in the first place. It was supposed to be a goodbye, a chance for Eve to do what she wants, to say what she wants, with no consequences.

And then Villanelle returned the money. There are consequences to everything that Eve does now, but the termination of the business side of their relationship gives Eve more reason than ever before to say her piece.

“You want to know the truth?”

Villanelle nods once.

Eve takes a deep breath to steady her thoughts, then continues speaking.

“I don’t think a moment has passed since I met you that you haven’t been on my mind,” admits Eve. “I wake up, and I’m thinking of you. I go to work, and I can hardly concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing. I go home, and I wonder what you’re doing. I think about you with your other clients and it fills me with…”

Jealousy .

Eve doesn’t say the word aloud, but instead just lets the sentence hang between them. Villanelle is clever enough to be able to fill in the gap.

“I dream of you,” continues Eve, closing her eyes. “Not every night, but often enough to matter. You drive me crazy. I want to hate you for what you’re doing to me. I want to push you away, to purge my mind of you. But I can’t.”

Eve opens her eyes and turns in her seat to look at Villanelle.

“And yes,” adds Eve, “I masturbate about you. But that’s the least frustrating part about this.”

Villanelle is unusually quiet for a moment, then she says, “There are no other clients. Not since I met you. You’ve been the only one.”

“Why?” frowns Eve.

“Because I like you,” replies Villanelle, like it’s obvious.

Eve scoffs.

“That’s a pretty messed up way to show somebody that you like them,” she says. “You charge me for your time, but it’s okay because you only charge me for your time.”

“I didn’t charge you tonight,” Villanelle reminds her.

Eve’s eyes flicker across to the purse which holds the envelope of returned cash, lying discarded on the floor between the front door and Eve’s shoes.

“Why did you return the money?” asks Eve, repeating the question she asked at the party earlier in the evening. “Is it because you like me ? Or is it just because you wanted to invite me back here with a clear conscience?”

Villanelle hesitates for only a moment, before she answers, “Both?”

Her eyebrows are raised, her lips pressed together, and she has a cautious look in her eyes, like she’s expecting Eve to snap at her.

Instead, Eve replies, “At least you’re honest.”

Villanelle smirks and then says, “Honesty is one of my best qualities.”

They fall into silence again. Eve doesn’t understand why this is so difficult. They’ve made it so far since that initial meeting in Caffè Nero, a journey from strangers to client and escort, through a confusing mess of pretend girlfriends to something even more . And yet these final two feet between them on the seat are the hardest for Eve to travel.

Villanelle seems content to wait, for what Eve isn’t quite sure, but she lounges back like she could sit there and watch Eve for hours. It isn’t fair how good she looks, still dressed up for the party in the glamorous dress that reveals her leg through the long slit. Eve still wants her just as much as she did at the party, but without the guise of their fake relationship giving her confidence, it is much harder for Eve to take what she wants.

Or is it? The barrier between them is flimsy, constructed of only two things - Eve’s fear and Villanelle’s arrogant refusal to make the next move. Eve has the power to tear down both of those things just by sliding closer to Villanelle and going for it.

“I’ve thought about this a lot,” confesses Eve.

“About what?”

“About you and me. Away from everybody else. Alone. Nothing but time and each other.”

“And what are we doing when you think about us alone?” asks Villanelle, almost breathlessly.

“We’re closer than this,” says Eve.

She leans her body towards Villanelle to emphasise her point. In response to Eve’s words, Villanelle pushes herself off the cushions and leans forward in intrigue, a simple action that already halves the distance between them.

“What else?” asks Villanelle.

Eve pauses and takes a deep breath for confidence, then holds Villanelle’s gaze as she says, “We’re usually not wearing any clothes.”

Villanelle’s breath hitches and her hand finds its way to Eve’s knee, toying with the hem of her white dress.

“I could help you make that happen.”

Eve lifts one of her hands to Villanelle’s face and cups her cheek, using her fingertips to brush away a few loose strands of hair.

“I think about this all the time,” says Eve, and then she kisses Villanelle.

Kissing in private is so much more exhilarating than kissing in public. Eve has known that since Niko’s wedding. Their kiss for show at the bar had been good, exquisite even, but it was the kiss that took place much later on in the secluded bathroom stall, fuelled by fire and wandering hands, that is the kiss that changed Eve’s life.

This kiss might be life changing too. Not just the kiss itself, though Eve melts into Villanelle’s mouth and feels like she’s gone to her own personal version of heaven, but what the kiss stands for. The barriers between them have been torn down now, barriers constructed of money and lies. Nothing matters except Eve kissing Villanelle in this moment and all the moments that will follow.

Villanelle’s lips are much softer than Eve remembers, her mouth more pliant. She seems happy to let Eve set the pace, responding to each of Eve’s movements with a mirrored one of her own. Eve briefly wonders how far she could push this, if she could keep on taking until Villanelle has nothing left to give her.

Eve decides to wait a little bit before testing that theory.

There is still too much space between them which is why Eve, without detaching her lips from Villanelle’s, climbs up onto her knees and sits as close as possible without actually mounting Villanelle’s lap. Though, Eve thinks to herself, the only thing stopping her from sitting astride Villanelle’s legs is not self-restraint, but instead her dress, too tight around her hips and thighs to allow the right kind of movement for that without tearing the fabric along its seams.

Villanelle smirks against Eve’s lips as Eve gets closer to her. The hand on Eve’s leg slides up under the hem of Eve’s dress, a warm palm squeezing the flesh of Eve’s thigh, while her other hand buries itself in Eve’s hair. Villanelle has made it clear that she’s a fan of Eve’s curls on a few occasions, but this is Eve’s favourite form of appreciation. Villanelle’s fingers massage her scalp and try to pull her even closer.

If this is how good Villanelle’s fingers feel in her hair, Eve hardly wants to dare to imagine what they might be capable of elsewhere.

The dress is quickly becoming a bit of an issue. Eve wants to be as close to Villanelle as physically possible and the dress is the main thing that is holding her back. Instead, Eve has to lean across Villanelle to kiss her, precariously balanced on her knees with only a hand on Villanelle’s cheek for support. It would only take one overzealous movement for Eve to topple face-first into Villanelle’s crotch.

And yes, that is probably the desired outcome tonight, but a little bit of build up would be nice first.

Villanelle seems to be having some of the same struggles as Eve. She pulls back from the kiss just enough to straighten out her neck, previously bent at an awkward angle to accommodate Eve’s mouth on her own, and tries using her hands to guide Eve into her lap.

“Eve, could you just…?”

With very little preamble, Eve reaches down to the hem of her dress and hoists it up around her hips so that she has the freedom of movement to swing a thigh across Villanelle’s lap. Villanelle shoves her tongue into the hollow of her cheek, trying to fight off a grin as Eve settles with a leg either side of Villanelle’s hips.

“Stop looking at me like that,” Eve warns her, using the new position to drape her arms around Villanelle’s neck.

“Like what?”

Eve leans down and silences Villanelle with another kiss. It’s more aggressive than before, leading with her lips but following with a nip of her teeth and a gentle thrust of her hips that has Villanelle gasping into Eve’s mouth. Villanelle’s hands land on Eve’s thighs and slide up and further up, under the hem of the dress bunched up around Eve’s hips and there’s absolutely no pretence about this anymore.

For the first time since meeting Villanelle, Eve feels as though she has the upper hand. It might be the position or even the envelope of cash across the room, but Eve feels like the power dynamic has shifted, like she is now the one in control. She takes that newfound dominance and kisses Villanelle with everything she can muster, messy tongues colliding, lips searching for something more. Eve knows that she is doing something right because Villanelle’s breathing immediately gets heavier. Villanelle doesn’t seem in a hurry to take the power back, but she lets Eve know that she could - hands tightening at the top of Eve’s thighs, teeth catching Eve’s lower lip with just enough pain to be pleasurable.

The change in position heightens Eve’s awareness of her own arousal. The ache between her thighs becomes more pronounced with each second that they spend kissing, weeks of sexual tension building up to this.

Eve knows that she’s going to have sex with Villanelle tonight. Not that there was much doubt about that when she agreed to come home with Villanelle, but it’s become an inevitability now.

An inevitability that cannot happen fast enough.

Eve rocks her hips into Villanelle’s, hungry for friction. Villanelle lets out another breathy gasp and one of her hands snakes up Eve’s back, seeking out the zipper of her dress.

“Can I take this off?” Villanelle murmurs against Eve’s lips.

Eve blows a strand of hair out of her mouth and nods.

“Please…”

Eve half expects Villanelle to tease her about how desperate she sounds, her pleading whimper punctuated by another lurch of her hips. Instead, Villanelle leans her forehead against Eve’s and maintains eye contact as she ever so slowly draws the zip down. Villanelle’s eyes are darker than Eve has seen them before and her lips, smudged with red lipstick that is probably smeared around Eve’s mouth too, are parted.

Time seems to slow down as Villanelle undresses Eve. The only sounds in the apartment are two sets of heavy breathing, synced up like they are just two different parts of the same piece of machinery, and the metallic rasp of the zipper on Eve’s dress being drawn down.

Eve is reminded of another occasion, earlier tonight though it could have been years ago from the way that kissing Villanelle has warped Eve’s perception of time. Villanelle’s hands have been in this position before, doing up the zip on the back of this very same dress. It seems almost poetic that after being the one to help her put on the dress, Villanelle is the one who gets to her remove it from her body.

You look amazing , Villanelle had told her after helping her with her dress earlier. Eve wonders if Villanelle will still think the same of her when the dress is on the floor.

It takes a little bit of manoeuvring, in that Eve actually has to pull back from the kiss and climb off Villanelle’s lap for it to happen, but her dress is soon gone. It falls in a puddle at her feet and as she steps out of the crumpled ring of fabric, Eve feels self-conscious about the fact that she is stood in front of Villanelle in just a pair of panties for a couple of seconds, until Villanelle speaks and pushes her anxiety aside.

“Wow,” exhales Villanelle, getting to her feet and letting an appreciative gaze wander down Eve’s nearly nude form. “You are stunning.”

And as Eve reaches for Villanelle and pulls her mouth down into another hungry kiss, she actually believes that those words are true.

Chapter Text

Somehow, shortly after Villanelle lets her own shimmering dress pool at her feet, Eve finds herself on her back on the chaise longue with Villanelle on top of her.

It’s rather a nice place to be.

The exact how of ending up like this, nearly naked and wrapped around each other, is a bit of a blur in Eve’s memory. She vaguely remembers using desperate fingers to coax the zip down Villanelle’s back, and she knows that Villanelle’s hands momentarily sought out her tits somewhere between Villanelle’s dress hitting the floor and Eve ending up on her back.

The only barriers that exist now between Eve getting what she wants are two pairs of panties and an absolutely exquisite piece of lace masquerading as a bra. And Eve knows that they could make it work like this, that she could just take Villanelle’s hand and guide it below the elastic waistband of her underwear. But she’s spent far too much time imagining and reimagining this moment to be satisfied with anything less than full nudity.

Eve isn’t even self-conscious about being naked in front of Villanelle for the first time. She just wants to feel all of Villanelle, skin against skin, which is why she lets her hand wander up Villanelle’s back to locate the clasp of her bra. Eve has to reluctantly turn her head away, letting Villanelle’s lips meet her cheek then her jaw, just so that she can focus on the task at hand with minimal distraction. She fumbles with the clasp, letting out a huff as she tries and fails to remove the garment, before she finally feels the elastic slacken as she manages to release the little metal hooks.

Eve lets out a hum of triumph and she feels Villanelle’s lips turn up into a smile against her neck. Villanelle pushes herself up so that she is sitting astride Eve’s lap, a complete reversal of their positions from earlier, and flings the unwanted bra aside.

It’s a lot of naked to look at. Eve’s eyes go wide, as if that will somehow help her to take it all in, but her gaze gets stuck on the swell of Villanelle’s tits and the pert nipples that seem to be calling for Eve’s hands to touch them. 

And Eve does just that. She reaches out with one hesitant hand, barely letting her palm graze Villanelle’s breast as if she is scared that Villanelle will somehow disintegrate into a pile of dust underneath her touch. Villanelle is hungry for more and she arches her back, pushing her chest into Eve’s hand until Eve is cupping the flesh fully. Villanelle’s eyes close as Eve gains the confidence to brush the pad of her thumb over an aching nipple, and her hips rock forward, grinding down into Eve’s lap.

The power goes to Eve’s head and makes her feel giddy. She quite literally holds Villanelle’s pleasure in the palm of her hand. 

Villanelle’s hips move forward again, and Eve becomes very aware of the fact that she only needs to strip Villanelle of one tiny piece of clothing before she is completely naked on top of Eve. Eve’s eyes flicker down, past a toned stomach to where the final piece of lace hides what Eve really wants.

Eve is apparently incapable of multitasking, because trying to work out the best way to remove Villanelle’s panties means that Eve’s hand has stalled on her breast. Villanelle’s eyes flash open and she frowns momentarily, until she seems to figure out what Eve is thinking.

“No,” says Villanelle, climbing off Eve’s lap and getting down onto her knees beside the seat. “I want to have my turn first.”

Eve is confused for about half a second, until Villanelle’s hands seek out Eve’s hips and slip under the elastic waistband of her underwear, and Eve realises exactly what Villanelle’s intentions are. She lifts her hips in an obvious invitation. Villanelle’s teeth dig into her lower lip and her hands slowly draw Eve’s underwear down her legs in an act so sensual that Eve thinks she might combust from the sheer intimacy of it all.

When Eve’s underwear is gone, discarded on the floor somewhere behind Villanelle with the rest of their clothes, Villanelle places one hand on each of Eve’s knees, and then asks, “May I?”

Eve lifts one of her legs up onto the chaise longue and spreads the other one, letting her head fall back against a patterned cushion as she gasps out, “Please…”

Eve wonders momentarily if she should feel some shame about how needy she must sound, but then remembers that Villanelle wants this just as much as she does. They are both just as needy as each other, and it both brings Eve comfort and turns her on with the knowledge that Villanelle is just as into this.

Eve has been thinking about this moment for too long to be interested in any more foreplay. Hell, the last few weeks have been nothing but foreplay, each moment building up to this one.

Villanelle seems to feel the same. A strong hand plants itself on the underside of Eve’s thigh, hoisting her leg over Villanelle’s shoulder as she pulls Eve’s entire body closer until her ass is right on the edge of the seat. Villanelle lets out a soft hum of approval at the sight in front of her, Eve spread out naked and vulnerable for her, then ducks her head down and puts her mouth on Eve for the first time.

Eve’s first thought, as Villanelle’s tongue touches her, is that she has died and gone to heaven.

She lets out a noise unlike any she has ever made before, one that reverberates off the hard surfaces of Villanelle’s apartment.

“You sound even better than I imagined,” says Villanelle, lifting her head from between Eve’s legs, and Eve knows that Villanelle must be wearing a triumphant smirk on her lips but she can’t bring herself to open her eyes to look at it. “Let me hear you.”

And Eve likes it when Villanelle talks. She likes the words and the lilt of Villanelle’s accent when she says them.

But there are far better things that Villanelle could be doing with that pretty mouth than talking.

Eve’s hand finds the back of Villanelle’s head and her fingers tangle in golden hair, guiding Villanelle’s mouth down between her legs once more. Villanelle lets out a moan when her lips touch Eve, a sound that vibrates through Eve’s core. The way that Eve’s back arches off the seat is an involuntary reflex. It takes both of Villanelle’s hands on each of Eve’s hips to hold her down so that Villanelle can put her tongue to work.

“Oh, God…”

Eve’s needy whine seems to spur Villanelle into action. She eats Eve out like it is the sole reason that she was put on this Earth. Eve doesn’t remember sex ever being this good. It must be a crime for somebody to be able to make Eve feel this way, like her entire existence depends on the specific movements of Villanelle’s tongue against her clit.

“So good,” Eve encourages Villanelle, her eyes rolling back into her head in pleasure as the tip of Villanelle’s tongue swipes over a particularly sensitive spot. “Just like that.”

Villanelle doesn’t really seem to need Eve’s words to tell her what to do. She knows exactly what to do, where to touch Eve, where to linger. Eve can only lie there and feel .

It’s building up far too fast. It’s been an awfully long time since Eve was touched by anything other than her own hand, so she knows that she can’t be expected to last long, but she doesn’t want it to be over this quickly. Villanelle’s tongue is rapidly bringing her towards climax, the pressure starting to build in the pit of her abdomen. Eve tries to distract herself from the sensation, tries to recite the alphabet backwards in her mind to stop the orgasm from hitting her quite so soon, but with each flick of Villanelle’s tongue, Eve is lost and has to start over again. 

“Villanelle…”

Villanelle’s fingers dig into Eve’s legs as Eve gasps out her name, clipped nails surely digging red crescents into the flesh. If anything the pain just turns Eve on more.

And then, without any warning at all, Eve knows that it’s going to hit her, and she is powerless to stop it.

“I’m going to - oh …”

Eve’s hips jerk upwards into Villanelle’s mouth as the orgasm overcomes her body. She can do nothing more than cling to the back of Villanelle’s head, the only thing stopping her from floating away from the Earth like a helium balloon.

Villanelle works Eve through the orgasm, licking and probing with her tongue until Eve is too sensitive and has to push Villanelle’s head away. Sitting back on her heels, Villanelle wipes her mouth on the back of her hand and smirks up at Eve, looking far too pleased with herself. And Eve can’t have that, not when she hasn’t yet had the chance to touch Villanelle and prove that she can drive her just as crazy as she drives Eve.

Eve plants a hand on either side of Villanelle’s head and tries to pull her up on top of Eve so that she can kiss her, but the chaise longue is too small for Eve’s level of enthusiasm. Instead of coaxing Villanelle up to her level, Eve ends up instead sliding off the seat and into Villanelle’s lap on the floor.

It may not have been the desired outcome, but it works .

“Hey,” Villanelle says as she exhales, leaning her forehead against Eve’s as one of her hands glides up the smooth skin of Eve’s thigh and dips around to grab at Eve’s ass.

And then Villanelle’s other hand finds its way between Eve’s legs and oh god it feels amazing when Villanelle’s fingers slide through wetness but this is not what is supposed to be happening right now.

“You’ve already had your turn,” says Eve, though her body rocks down onto Villanelle’s fingertips, an involuntary reflex.

“Sex isn’t about taking turns, Eve,” says Villanelle. Her fingers probe lower, and still lower, until the tip of her index finger pushes inside Eve. “It’s about having fun and me making you feel good.”

“What about me making you feel good?” asks Eve, her head falling back and her hair spilling down her back as she finds a rhythm on Villanelle’s hand.

“You are making me feel good.”

“You know what I mean.”

Villanelle pushes back inside with the addition of a second finger and Eve just about loses herself entirely in the sensation. She didn’t think it possible for anything to feel better than Villanelle’s tongue against her clit - oh, how wrong she was! Eve wants to be able to make Villanelle feel just a fraction of what she is feeling right now.

Eve manages to hold onto reality for long enough to place a hand on Villanelle’s shoulder and give her a gentle push until she has no choice but to fall onto her back. It takes a little bit of manoeuvring, during which Villanelle point blank refuses to withdraw her fingers from inside Eve, but Villanelle manages to unfold her legs from beneath her and straightens them out so that Eve can sit astride her thighs. The change in position means that Villanelle no longer needs to use her other hand to keep her back upright, and she immediately takes advantage of the freedom by sending a hand up to grope unashamedly at Eve’s tits.

“I want to…” gasps Eve, still determined that she should be the one doing all of these things to Villanelle right now, rather than the other way around, but she descends into incoherence as Villanelle’s fingertips pluck at a pebbled nipple. “Oh god , you’re far too good at this.”

“Please, Eve, keep telling me how amazing I am.”

She’s so insufferably smug that Eve thinks she would probably hate her, if it were not for the fact that Eve is depending solely on the specific movements of Villanelle’s fingers to keep her alive.

But, there is something that Eve can do...

Eve musters every brain cell that hasn’t been turned to mush by Villanelle - all three of them - and concentrates on touching Villanelle. She sends a hand down the smooth plane of Villanelle’s stomach, which Eve makes a mental note to revisit later when she isn’t quite so goal-oriented because holy shit those abs , then dips beneath the elastic of panties that somehow still haven’t yet been removed. Eve watches, victorious, as Villanelle’s eyes widen in surprise, then roll back into her head when Eve’s hand dips low enough to encounter wet folds.

Villanelle’s hand stalls against Eve’s own centre, still two fingers deep, but Eve really doesn’t care when Villanelle feels that good against her own hand.

And now Eve gets it, she understands why Villanelle was so eager to take her turn with Eve first because this , being able to watch Villanelle struggle to maintain her composure as Eve touches her, is as much of an endorphin rush as the orgasm that Villanelle gave to Eve just minutes ago. Eve thought that she hadn’t lived until she had fallen apart underneath Villanelle’s touch but it’s actually this , being the one to bring those sensations to Villanelle, that might be the pivotal moment in Eve’s life.

It feels even better than Eve imagined, to touch Villanelle and to be touched by her at the same time. It very quickly descends from very specific movements to messy ones, neither of them quite capable of concentrating fully on what they are doing with the other’s hand between their legs. But Eve finds herself not caring. It’s messy, but it’s working , and if the noises that Villanelle is letting out as Eve’s hand works between her legs is anything to go by, Villanelle is enjoying it too.

When Eve comes for the second time tonight, she falls headfirst into the black of Villanelle’s pupils. Eve’s arm, the only thing holding her up over Villanelle’s body, gives way and she collapses on top of Villanelle. Eve momentarily forgets that she’s supposed to be bringing Villanelle pleasure too, her arm caught awkwardly between their bodies as Eve trembles through her own orgasm.

When the last tremors stop, Eve lifts her face from where it has been buried in Villanelle’s hair, then asks, “Did you…?”

Villanelle removes her hand from between Eve’s legs and wraps her fingers, still sticky with Eve’s arousal, around Eve’s wrist, coaxing her fingers into movement again.

It’s probably about twenty seconds of very little more than Villanelle humping Eve’s hand, but it allows Eve to focus fully on Villanelle’s face, watching intently as her eyelids flicker, then clamp shut as her orgasm hits her. 

It’s the most beautiful sight in the world, more beautiful even than the towns precariously balanced on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast that filled Eve with awe when she visited Italy a few years ago.

After a few long moments, Villanelle’s breathing evens out and her grip on Eve’s wrist loosens. Her other hand finds Eve’s naked back and trails a ticklish path up and down her spine. Below Eve, Villanelle’s body starts to shake, and it takes Eve a few seconds to realise that Villanelle is laughing.

“I can’t believe you wanted to fuck me so much that you couldn’t wait until we were on a bed,” sniggers Villanelle.

Eve rolls off Villanelle’s body, withdrawing her fingers from inside Villanelle’s underwear, and lies on the rug next to her. One of Villanelle’s hands reaches out and tangles her fingers with Eve’s, thumb absently rubbing back and forth across the inside of Eve’s wrist, like she can’t bear to not be touching Eve in some way.

“I’m pretty sure that it was at least sixty percent your fault,” Eve retorts, squeezing Villanelle’s fingers.

Villanelle snorts, then says, “You are really bad at math.”

“Whatever.”

Villanelle rolls onto her side and props herself up on one elbow to survey Eve’s naked body lying beside her own.

“There are other things you’re really good at though,” she says, trailing a hand down Eve’s side.

“Oh yeah?” teases Eve, arching an eyebrow. Her free hand seeks Villanelle’s hip and toys with the elastic of the underwear that she still wears, before she says, “I don’t seem to be very good at taking these off.”

An enormous grin spreads across Villanelle’s face. She pushes herself up, first into a seated position, then to her feet. Villanelle’s hands go to her own hips, and oh boy she’s removing her underwear with absolutely no urgency, dropping the garment an inch at a time. Eve’s eyes go wide, unsure whether she is supposed to be returning Villanelle’s intense eye contact, or watching the black lace descend, or gaping at what is revealed underneath.

It’s a lot to process, which is why Eve’s brain just decides to shut down entirely, like an old computer that has been pushed to its limits.

Villanelle extend a hand out to Eve, who is still sprawled on the floor, before she says, “Come to bed with me, Eve.”


When Eve wakes up, there is a split second in which she doesn’t remember where she is.

But then she inhales air that is thick with the scent of French perfume, and when she stretches, she realises that she is naked and that the sheets that move against her skin are luxuriously soft.

There’s a soft groan from beside Eve as she stirs into consciousness, and when Eve turns her head and sees honey-blonde hair splayed across the pillow next to her, she remembers everything .

Eve’s body feels heavy, limbs lethargic and aching in ways that they aren’t used to hurting, but her mind feels light and free. She feels like a brand new woman, as if finally having sex with Villanelle has injected a fresh lease of life into her veins.

Against Eve’s side, Villanelle lets out another little hum and shuffles closer, burying her tousled head into Eve’s neck. Her knee comes up as she drapes a bare leg across Eve’s hips, while her hand winds across Eve’s stomach. Her eyes remain closed but Villanelle’s lips press a delicate kiss to Eve’s shoulder, and her fingers tighten at Eve’s waist.

It’s intimate but not sexual.

“Morning,” croaks Eve, her voice husky from sleep and from crying out Villanelle’s name several times last night.

“Shhh,” Villanelle hisses softly. “Sleeping.”

A slow smile spreads across Eve’s face. Finally giving in and having sex with Villanelle has brought them so much closer, not just in the obvious physical sense, but emotionally too. This Villanelle, soft and sleepy and affectionate, is so different from the versions of Villanelle that Eve already knows.

Eve presses a tender kiss to Villanelle’s forehead, then brings one of her hands up to cup the back of Villanelle’s head, fingers playing with soft hair and caressing Villanelle’s scalp. The gesture earns her a sleepy moan of contentment, and Villanelle’s leg tightens across Eve’s hips.

It’s almost better than the sex itself. Following last night’s confessions, Eve can actually see a future between herself and Villanelle for the very first time. And this, a lazy morning snuggled up next to each other, is exactly the kind of intimacy that Eve’s life has been missing for so long.

But as Eve’s brain starts to wake up and reflect on the last twelve hours, the familiar feeling between her legs starts to stir too.

It certainly doesn’t help that she has a naked woman against her side. The silk covers are barely draped over Villanelle’s body, low enough to expose her freckled back. Eve finds herself still able to admire the swell of Villanelle’s ass through the sheets and that’s where her eyes wander to. The leg hooked across Eve’s hips is oddly intimate, and it would only take a small amount of maneuvering for Villanelle to be straddling Eve fully, exposed and grinding down onto Eve’s stomach. 

Eve clenches her thighs together, her nakedness beneath the sheets meaning that she can feel the sticky evidence of those thoughts between her thighs. Her fingers scratch at Villanelle’s scalp, while her other hand trails a path down Villanelle’s spine and dips below the covers to rest on Villanelle’s bare ass.

“Are you always this frisky in the morning?” asks Villanelle, pushing herself up on one elbow so that she can look at Eve.

And god , she looks beautiful. Her hair is messy, matted on one side and sticking out at a weird angle on the other. Villanelle’s bleary eyes blink up at Eve, a little crease between her eyebrows as she wakes up. 

With the hand in Villanelle’s hair, Eve smooths down the tuft that sticks out, then strokes Villanelle’s cheek with her thumb.

“Can you blame me?” Eve asks in response.

Villanelle smiles and pushes herself up further until she can kiss Eve. It’s much slower than the kisses they exchanged last night, without the same urgency to fuck each other. Eve still wants to fuck Villanelle again, but she is content with these lazy morning kisses too. 

Just as she thinks that, Villanelle swings her thigh across Eve’s hips, coating Eve’s stomach with a wetness that is really hard to ignore.

“Tell me, Eve,” says Villanelle, flipping her hair over one shoulder and biting her lip as she leans closer. “How do you feel about shower sex?”

Eve’s brain temporarily short-circuits at the thought of Villanelle, wet and naked, pushing Eve up against a tiled wall and fucking her.

“I could be persuaded,” Eve manages to answer. 

Villanelle plants a few lingering kisses on Eve’s lips, then pulls back far enough to say, “This is me persuading you.”

She reaches for Eve’s hand, wrapping her fingers around Eve’s wrist and guiding it between her own legs. Eve’s mouth hangs open slightly and she lets out a little gasp as her fingers encounter Villanelle’s obvious arousal. It’s almost too much to take as Villanelle rocks her hips against Eve’s hand, and Eve lets her fingertips become more confident as her muscle memory from last night starts to kick in. She finds the little nub of Villanelle’s clitoris, deliberately passing over it as she dips her fingers lower and teases at Villanelle’s entrance.

Villanelle’s back arches and her head falls back, her curtain of tangled hair falling back over her shoulders as she moans in pleasure.

“Fuck the shower,” she says to Eve. “I want you here.”

“You make a very compelling argument,” says Eve, as she dips one of her fingers inside Villanelle and fills her up to the second knuckle.

Instinct takes over. Eve is no longer the anxious woman that she was last night, half-intimidated by having sex with a woman for the first time. Instead, she knows that she holds the power to give Villanelle what she needs. Eve lets her fingers move, pulling out all the way and then pushing back in with two.

Eve .”

Eve doesn’t think she will ever get tired of the way that Villanelle says her name. But this, Eve decides, the drawn out rasp of pleasure, is Eve’s favourite.

It spurs her fingers into life. She wants to hear Villanelle say her name over and over again, to listen to the way that she slowly tumbles into incoherence. Each thrust of Eve’s fingers provokes another little breathy moan from Villanelle’s lips, until Villanelle starts rocking her hips down onto Eve’s hand. Their movements fall into synchronisation, and Eve tucks her thumb against Villanelle’s clit until Villanelle eventually collapses on top of her, completely spent and boneless.

“You’re really good at that,” Villanelle says, once she has caught her breath back.

Eve withdraws her fingers and wipes them on the sheets, before she wraps both arms around Villanelle’s naked back and holds her close.

Eve could quite easily fall asleep again like this, with Villanelle’s body draped over hers, her own orgasm be damned. But the moment of contentment is interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing elsewhere in the apartment.

It takes Eve a few seconds to recognise the ringtone.

“Shit, that’s mine.”

On top of her, Villanelle lets out a groan of complaint.

“Don’t answer it.”

Eve runs a sympathetic hand down the ridges of Villanelle’s spine, then counters, “But it might be important.”

I’m important,” says Villanelle, pushing herself up on her elbows so that she can pout at Eve like a small child.

“And modest.”

In the other room, Eve’s phone stops ringing, then starts up immediately once again.

Villanelle flops down again, letting out a groan that is muffled by the pillow she buries her face into, then rolls off Eve’s body.

“Answer it,” she orders Eve. “I’ll get the water running in the shower.” She sits up on the side of the bed, a sly smirk on her face as she says, “Don’t take too long or I’ll have to start without you.”

As Villanelle gets up and wanders into the ensuite bathroom, Eve reluctantly drags herself out of bed to go searching for her phone. The other room is a mess, clothes strewn haphazardly across the floor in their haste to undress each other last night, but Eve finds her purse near the front door. She flicks open the clasp and shifts the brown envelope of cash aside so that she can take out the ringing phone, reading the name of the person calling her on the screen.

Carolyn Martens .

Why is Carolyn calling her at half past eight on a Sunday morning?

Eve hurries back into Villanelle’s bedroom and picks up the silk robe she spotted draped over a chair earlier, because it feels a little weird to answer the phone to her boss while not wearing a shred of clothing. After slipping her arms into the robe and loosely tying the belt around her waist, Eve perches on the end of the bed and taps the green icon to accept the call, then lifts the phone to her ear.

“Carolyn?”

“Eve,” Carolyn greets her curtly. “You’re going to have to pretend that I’ve done the normal pleasantries because I don’t have time for idle chit chat. How soon can you come into the office?”

“Today?” asks Eve, her eyebrows shooting up into her forehead. “It’s Sunday. I’ve got plans.”

Eve thinks of Villanelle, waiting for her in the shower, and the day she would like them to spend together - first continuing to explore each other’s bodies, then perhaps a nice lunch out somewhere together, a day together without the boundary of money lingering over their heads.

“Then I’m afraid you’ll have to cancel and rearrange,” Carolyn tells her. “This is quite an emergency.”

Eve flops back on the bed and covers her eyes with her hand. She doesn’t ever like getting called into work on a weekend, but it’s especially painful on a day like today, when the alternative is as glorious as Villanelle.

Letting out a disgruntled sigh, Eve reluctantly concedes.

“Give me an hour. I’m … I need to go home and change before I can come into the office.”

If Carolyn understands what Eve is trying to avoid telling her, she gives no indication of it.

“Excellent. See you in an hour.”

Carolyn hangs up as abruptly as she started the conversation, and Eve tosses her phone aside as she lets out another groan. She doesn’t want to have to leave Villanelle, especially when she knows that Villanelle is waiting for her in the shower for what promises to be another life-altering orgasm.

Eve stands up and wanders into the bathroom to break the bad news to Villanelle.

“Villanelle?”

“Mmm hmm?”

Eve leans on the doorframe, not walking too far into the bathroom out of fear that she’ll catch sight of Villanelle’s naked body lathered up with soap suds. Not fear. That’s the wrong word. Eve struggles to think of something she would rather see right now. But she knows that if she sees Villanelle naked, then the last of her self-restraint will crumble, and she really can’t be jumping into the shower with the woman she was up for half the night having sex with, when Carolyn is expecting her at the office in only an hour.

Oh, but it would be so easy to arrive at the office ten minutes, twenty minutes, three hours too late. To saunter in through the doors wearing borrowed clothes that are noticeably too fashionable to be Eve’s own, fresh bruises sucked into the exposed skin of Eve’s neck for all to see. For Carolyn to take one look at Eve and to know straight away that fucking Villanelle is higher on Eve’s list of priorities than her actual job.

And it is , but Eve isn’t quite brave enough to disobey Carolyn. She doesn’t want to risk getting into Carolyn’s bad books by showing up late when she knows there will be plenty of time to fuck Villanelle both in and out of the shower later.

“There’s some kind of emergency at work,” Eve says, loud enough that Villanelle will be able to hear her over the running water. “Carolyn needs me to go in.”

Villanelle’s head pokes out from behind the shower curtain, hair lathered up with shampoo. Eve is grateful that the rest of her body is masked behind the opaque material of the curtain, and tries her hardest to keep her eyes on Villanelle’s face, rather than imagining what is hidden from view.

“On a Sunday?”

“Yep,” answers Eve.

“On the morning after the Christmas party?” asks Villanelle, arching an incredulous eyebrow.

“That was my reaction too!”

Villanelle disappears behind the curtain again, and the sound of the running water changes as Villanelle steps beneath it and it hits her instead of the shower floor.

“Whatever nice things I said about your boss last night, I take them back,” Villanelle’s voice calls out from behind the curtain. “You should be spending today with me.”

“I know,” agrees Eve. “But I really should go. I’ll call you later? Maybe we can … I don’t know, grab dinner sometime, or something?”

Villanelle’s head emerges once more, her hair now free of shampoo and slicked back with water.

“Dinner,” hums Villanelle, her lips curling up into a soft smile that is the most genuine expression of happiness that Eve has ever seen on her face. “Dinner sounds good.”

“Great,” says Eve. “I’ll call you.”

“You already said that,” grins Villanelle.

Eve’s cheeks pinken, and she says, “Well, that’s because I really mean it.” She pauses, and then, before she can give herself enough time to succumb to dropping the robe and jumping into the shower with Villanelle, she adds, “So, I’ll just go then.”

Eve makes to turn away and leave the bathroom, but she hasn’t even made it through the door when she hears Villanelle’s voice behind her.

“Eve?”

She turns back to find Villanelle pouting at her. Villanelle says nothing else, but merely arches an eyebrow at Eve and then taps her puckered lips with her fingertip expectantly.

“Oh my god, you are such a brat ,” huffs Eve, rolling her eyes hard enough to shift time, though she complies and crosses back over to the shower to press a chaste goodbye kiss to Villanelle’s lips.

It stays chaste for not even half a second, when Villanelle draws back the shower curtain fully so that she can drape her wet arms around Eve’s neck and pull her in for more. Eve lets her, if only because it means that she is focusing on kissing Villanelle back instead of the obscene amount of naked skin just revealed to her. That is, until one of Villanelle’s hands drops to the tie holding the robe that Eve wears, tugging at it until it falls loose.

“I really do have to go,” says Eve, taking a step backwards and allowing herself to appreciate Villanelle’s toned body for only a couple of seconds.

Villanelle leans in and presses another lingering kiss to Eve’s lips, one which Eve does a really bad job of resisting, then promises, “I’m going to be thinking about you the whole time we’re apart.”

The last thing that Eve says before she leaves the bathroom to go and locate all her clothes that are strewn elsewhere in the apartment is, “So am I.”

Chapter Text

When she arrives at the office, Eve is surprised to see the whole team assembled. It’s not the first time that there has been a weekend emergency that required immediate attention, but usually on these occasions it will only need essential personnel to come in, often just Eve as the team leader and one unlucky other.

Hugo perks up when he sees Eve enter the office and gets to his feet as if something important is about to happen now that Eve has arrived.

“Eve! What’s going on?”

Eve drops her bag down next to her desk and takes off her coat, then answers, “I honestly have no idea. Carolyn called me to say it was an emergency and that I needed to come in immediately.”

“That’s what she said to me too,” says Hugo.

“Shhh!” hisses Elena, from across the office. Her head is resting on her desk, arms folded out in front of her, and Eve can see both a can of energy drink and a mug of coffee on Elena’s desk. “Too loud.”

Eve glances across at Kenny for an explanation.

“She had a bit too much fun at the party,” Kenny tells her in a hushed voice. “She’s not best pleased that we’ve been called in early.”

“Yeah, well join the queue!” blurts out Hugo.

“Shhh!” groans Elena again, lifting her head from the desk and scowling at Hugo.

“Did she tell you what’s going on?” Hugo asks Kenny, using a softer voice.

Kenny shakes his head.

“I haven’t seen her since last night. I’m not sure she even came home after the party, to be honest.”

“The dirty stop-out!” Hugo sniggers gleefully. “I always had a feeling that your mum was a bit of a…”

They never get to find out exactly what Hugo thinks of Carolyn because he trails off mid-sentence when he is interrupted by the arrival of the woman herself. Carolyn enters the office in a crisp suit and wearing a stern frown, just the same as she would if she hadn’t been drinking and schmoozing the night before. Behind her are two men in dark suits that Eve doesn’t recognise, flanking Carolyn’s shoulder like security guards.

“Good, you’re all here,” says Carolyn. “I apologise for calling you all in so early on a Sunday morning but I’m afraid we’ve got a bit of a situation on our hands. This is Vic Morgan and Anwar Rashid. They’re both part of a team of investigators who will be questioning everybody who attended last night’s Christmas party.”

“Investigators?” asks Eve, with a frown. “Questioning us about what?”

Eve makes eye contact with Hugo, then with Jess, both of whom look as confused as Eve feels. When she glances across at Kenny, he is staring at the investigators, watching as one takes an audio recording device out of the pocket of his suit trousers while the other sets up a laptop at the table by the door.

It is a testament to how hungover Elena is that she has barely even lifted her head from her desk since Carolyn, who she would normally be eagerly trying to impress, walked in.

“I trust that you’ll all be cooperative,” says Carolyn. She introduces each one of them in turn to the investigators, finishing with Eve. “And this is Eve Polastri, the leader of this team.”

The man that Carolyn introduced as Vic turns his laptop around, to show them a headshot of an unfamiliar dark-haired man.

“Do any of you know this man?” he asks.

Eve shakes her head and sees Hugo and Kenny do the same out of the corner of her eye. Elena lifts her head too and squints at the screen, before shaking her head. Only Jess seems to recognise him.

“I’m sure that’s the prick who cut in front of me in the line at the cafe downstairs last week.” she says, frowning at the photo of the man.

“His name is Diego Pascale,” Carolyn tells them. “He was an employee here at MI6, working in one of our more sensitive departments.”

“Was?” asks Hugo.

“He collapsed at the Christmas party last night and was pronounced dead by the paramedics who arrived at the hotel,” explains Carolyn. “We believe that somebody poisoned one of his drinks.”

Eve recoils at the startling news and thinks back to last night, trying to see if she can remember seeing this Diego at the party, or anything suspicious happening at all. But so much of her attention last night was on Villanelle and her memory is clouded by that. Eve doesn’t remember being able to focus on much else at all. 

And so much has happened since that the party seems like an age ago. Eve can measure the last twelve hours, not in normal units of time, but in kisses, in orgasms, in number of somersaults that her heart has done in her chest. An entire lifetime has passed since the party last night and Eve doesn’t know how she is supposed to remember details that pale in insignificance compared to Villanelle’s larger than life presence at Eve’s side.

“Anything that you can tell us from last night could prove to be useful,” Anwar tells them. He presses a button on the side of the audio recorder and a tiny red light comes on, then he continues, “Mr Pascale collapsed at ten past one. Could you tell us where you all were at that time?”

“I left before midnight,” says Jess. She rests her hands on her abdomen, then explains, “Parties aren’t as fun when you can’t drink and your feet are too swollen to comfortably fit in a pair of shoes.”

“I’d already left too,” says Hugo. There’s a smug tone in his voice as he continues, “Jade from Internal Communications can verify.”

Eve’s head snaps up at this. Perhaps she missed out on some juicy new office gossip by making an early exit with Villanelle.

Apparently, Kenny missed this bit of news too.

“Didn’t you bring a date?” he asks Hugo, voicing the question that was on Eve’s mind.

“Yeah,” shrugs Hugo. “And?”

Kenny appears to be startled by Hugo’s confession, as if he has momentarily forgotten that Hugo doesn’t really know how to respect women, but blinks out of it after a couple of seconds and turns his attention back to Anwar.

“Elena and I left the hotel just after midnight. We … um, we waited outside for a bit…”

“I was puking my guts up,” Elena announces, interrupting Kenny to supply the details he seems reluctant to share.

Kenny nods, then continues, “Elena wasn’t feeling well so we went outside for some fresh air, then got an Uber home. I can find the details of the journey for you.” 

He takes out his phone and spends a few seconds tapping at the screen, before holding it out to show the investigators.

“Thanks,” says Vic, before he makes a note of something on his laptop.

“Eve?” asks Carolyn, looking at Eve expectantly.

“I had left the party,” answers Eve, knowing that she was the first one to go, leaving the party before even Jess.

“So, you were at home?” Carolyn asks her.

“Not exactly,” replies Eve. She can feel the eyes of everybody in the room, barring Elena who still looks like she might need to run out of the room and be sick at any moment, watching her as she speaks. “I stayed somewhere else. With, uh … with my girlfriend. We … you know…”

Eve trails off, knowing that at the time in question, she was very naked and probably had Villanelle’s mouth between her legs.

“Hmm, yes,” says Carolyn, watching Eve with a look in her eyes like she can see into Eve’s soul and read all of her secrets. “I rather think I do. As she was at the party, we will need to speak to your girlfriend, of course. What was her name again?”

Eve really doesn’t want Carolyn and her team of stony-faced investigators to speak to Villanelle.

“Julie,” Eve reminds Carolyn.

“That’s right,” remembers Carolyn. “Julie. If you would be so kind as to pass on her contact details.”

Eve stalls for a moment, trying and failing to come up with an excuse as to why there’s no need for them to speak with Villanelle.

“I don’t really think that will be necessary,” she attempts to reason with Carolyn.

“Whyever not?”

Out of the corner of her eye, Eve spots Hugo hiding a smile behind his hand as he watches Eve suffer and squirm. Eve shoots him a glare, trying to warn him against spilling her secrets with nothing but the stern look in her eyes. Hugo gives her a barely perceptible nod in return, and Eve hopes that means that he understands, even if he is still stifling a snigger into the back of his hand.

Returning her attention to Carolyn and the two investigators, Eve says, “I mean, I can vouch for her. We were together all night. And at the time the man died? I’m sure you don’t need the specifics, but we were together.”

“I wouldn’t mind hearing the specifics,” Hugo pipes up unhelpfully.

Eve rolls her eyes at him. Hugo laps it up and responds with a leering grin.

“We will still need to speak with her,” says Carolyn. “We’ll be speaking with everyone who was there. Hugo’s date, as well.”

Hugo takes out his phone, then picks up a pen and scrawls something onto a post-it note, which he tears off the top of the pile and extends out to Carolyn.

“That’s the number of Effie’s escort agency.”

“You hired an escort and brought her to the Christmas party?” groans Elena, scowling at Hugo. “Why are you such a pig, Hugo?”

Eve feels a blush rise to her own cheeks at the thought of Villanelle. She wonders what Elena would think if she knew the truth, whether her reaction would be the same as the disgust she has given Hugo. Eve’s guilt is only partially absolved with the knowledge that there is an envelope of returned cash sitting on her dresser at home. She may not have officially hired the escort that she brought as her date to the party last night, but she intended to, and the fact that she has hired Villanelle in the past probably places her in the same category as Hugo.

Except that last night (and this morning) changes everything.

Eve and Villanelle like each other now. They have genuine mutual feelings for each other. Eve has promised to call Villanelle later and then they’ll go out on an actual honest-to-god date with each other.

Eve goes a little bit giddy at the thought.

“Eve?”

Carolyn’s voice snaps Eve out of her daydreams about a future with Villanelle.

“I'll have to ask Julie’s permission to pass on her details,” says Eve, stalling for more time. “You know, GDPR and all that.”

“Ma’am, this is an official murder enquiry,” Anwar reminds her.

Carolyn turns to Vic and orders him, “Show her.”

Picking up the laptop, Vic gets to his feet and crosses over to Eve’s desk. He puts the laptop down and taps a few buttons before turning the screen towards Eve. There is a grainy CCTV image on the screen and Eve peers closer. She recognises herself and Elena, caught up in a hug, and realises that this is a still taken from footage of the party last night. Elena’s arms are draped around Eve, while Kenny stands nearby and appears to be trying to coax Elena off Eve.

But that’s not what Vic wants her to look at. He uses the touchpad on the laptop to zoom in on two figures in the background, one of whom is recognisably Diego Pascale, and while the other has their back to the camera, Eve would recognise Villanelle from any angle.

Eve’s blood runs cold. Surely they can’t be suggesting that Villanelle had something to do with this?

“We have footage from two different angles that shows Julie standing next to Diego,” explains Carolyn. “There are a few seconds in which the drink Diego is holding goes into a blind spot from both cameras.”

Eve can’t find any words. She stares dumbfoundedly at the screen, trying to process what Carolyn is implying. Eve just doesn’t think it’s possible. She knows Villanelle. After last night, Eve knows her better than ever before. And if what Carolyn is suggesting is true, that Villanelle managed to slip something into Diego’s drink at the precise moment that neither camera could catch it, then this is a mastermind of an operation that Eve doesn’t think Villanelle could possibly be behind.

In the absence of a comment from Eve, it is Kenny who is the next to speak.

“You think that Eve’s girlfriend killed that man?” he asks. “But that can’t be right. I’ve met Julie and she’s completely normal!”

Eve is inclined to agree with Kenny. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not possible.

Except that it could make sense. And it is entirely possible.

Because realistically, how much does Eve actually know about Villanelle? Sure enough, Eve knows the scent of Villanelle’s perfume and the sound of her laugh and the shape of her mouth and the look on her face when she comes, but Eve doesn’t actually know Villanelle. And if Villanelle is good enough of an actress that she can trick all of Eve’s friends into believing that she really is Julie, then maybe it is possible that she has also tricked Eve into thinking that she is not a psychopath.

Eve thinks back to the dinner Villanelle came to with Eve’s friends only two weeks ago, when Cleo agitated Villanelle enough that there were an exhilarating few seconds in which Eve thought Villanelle might climb over the table and plunge a blunt fork into Cleo’s neck. Could it really be within the scope of Villanelle’s abilities to take the life of another?

Why, though? Why would Villanelle want to kill Diego?

If it was Villanelle, then this changes everything. Eve knows that they were far away from the Christmas party at the time Diego seems to have collapsed and died, but that just makes it even more sinister. If it was Villanelle, then this was premeditated, carefully planned out so that she has a rock-solid alibi. And if this whole thing was planned, then Eve has been played for an absolute fool.

Eve feels herself starting to go a little bit lightheaded, and no longer because of happy memories of time spent with Villanelle. She needs to get out of this office.

“Sorry,” she says, pushing herself up into a standing position and making sure that her phone is in the pocket of her pants. “I think I need some air.”

Eve spares a glance at Carolyn in case she objects to Eve leaving the room. Carolyn stands tall with her hands clasped neatly behind her back, her expression remaining as difficult to read as ever. Eve doesn’t know whether to be impressed or disturbed that Carolyn seems so indifferent to the supposed murder of one of her own colleagues at a party where half of the British Intelligence Service were in attendance.

Hurrying out of the office, Eve heads straight for the stairs, racing down them two at a time in her haste to get outside. She hammers her fist against the door release button, then steps out into the fenced in courtyard. It’s really far too cold to be outside without a coat on, but Eve drops into a seated position on the doorstep and sucks in a deep breath of the cool morning air.

This is not at all how Eve imagined her day going when she woke up this morning next to Villanelle.

Eve thinks of how she left Villanelle earlier, alone in the shower, and wonders what Villanelle is doing with her day. And if she did have something to do with that man’s death…

Eve needs to know the truth. 

Slipping her phone out of her pocket, Eve dials Villanelle’s number. After a few seconds, there is a beep over the line and a robotic female voice says, “I’m sorry, but the number you have called is not recognised.”

Eve lowers her phone from her ear and frowns at the screen, checking to see if she has called the right number. She reads their brief conversation from yesterday afternoon, discussing arrangements for the party, then tries to phone the number again.

“I’m sorry, but the number you have called is not-”

Eve ends the call before the tinny-voiced woman can finish her sentence. She scowls at her phone as she types out a text message to Villanelle instead.

Eve Polastri
Can you call me ASAP? Something happened at the party last night and I need to talk to you…

Eve presses send and then tries to dial the number again, only to be met with the same automated message.

“What the-?”

It makes no sense. Eve knows that this phone number exists, she knows that it belongs to Villanelle. She has two weeks of messages to prove it.

But when Eve scrolls down to the most recent messages, and the one that she has just sent, her eyes widen in surprise when she sees a little red exclamation mark next to the message.

Message undelivered.

It’s all a bit of a mindfuck. 

The last twenty-four hours have been a rollercoaster. The party, the mind-blowing sex, the murder of an MI6 employee, and now this? It’s all rather a lot to process. The universe has managed to inject more drama into a single day than Eve has experienced in her entire life until this point.

This is far too much of a coincidence to not be connected. 

Eve really wants there to be a logical explanation for all of this, for Carolyn to emerge again and tell Eve that there has been a mistake and that somebody else is responsible for the dead body at the party, for there to be a perfectly normal reason why Eve can’t get hold of Villanelle. But Eve’s mind is pessimistic and jumps to the worst case scenario - that Villanelle used her as a means to get to Diego and has vanished from Eve’s life now that she’s taken what she wanted.

Eve feels broken. She feels used. She feels like utter shit

Tears begin to prickle in Eve’s eyes and the orb of anxiety starts to swell in her chest. Eve blinks away the tears, then closes her eyes and buries her face in the palms of her hands, trying to fight off the panic that threatens to take over her entire body. She can feel her chest tightening, her throat constricting, her ears ringing loud enough to muffle out the busy London sounds beyond the security fence, while the world closes in on Eve, spinning and twisting out of control until...

Eve hears a noise, far in the distance though it can realistically only be the door immediately behind her, and then there are a pair of hands on her knees. When she opens her eyes, she finds Hugo crouched in front of her, and though his lips are moving, there is no sound coming out. Eve tries to focus on Hugo, his hands on her legs grounding her back to Earth. Her eyes watch his mouth, following the movement of his lips until she begins to hear words come out.

“- with me, Eve. In and out. Nice, slow breaths. In.” Hugo demonstrates, taking in a long breath that fills his lungs and causes his chest to swell out. “And out.”

He does the same thing again, and again, and Eve copies him, until her breaths go from short and shaky to long ones that match Hugo’s.

“Everything alright?” Hugo asks her, once he is satisfied that Eve’s breathing has returned to normal.

Eve just shrugs and wipes at her tear-stained cheeks with the back of her hand.

“I’m going to have a fag,” says Hugo. “Do you want to join me?”

Hugo’s hand goes up to the side of his head, fingers finding the cigarette tucked behind his ear, and brings it to his lips. He produces a cheap plastic lighter from somewhere in his jacket, then uses one hand to shield the end of the cigarette while he flicks at the lighter until it catches. With the cigarette caught between his lips, he takes a box of cigarettes out of the inside of his jacket and offers it out to Eve with the lighter. 

Eve doesn’t usually smoke unless it’s late at night and she’s had a couple of drinks. She can’t even remember the last time she bought her own box of cigarettes. But she accepts Hugo’s offer readily, taking a cigarette from the box and lighting it between her lips.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asks Hugo, as he takes his lighter back from Eve and drops it into his jacket pocket.

Eve takes a slow drag from the cigarette, letting the smoke fill her lungs, not even caring that it’s bad for her health. 

“I think it might have been her, Hugo,” she confesses, as she exhales and watches the smoke billow out from between her lips. “I think Villanelle could have killed that man.”

Hugo drops down onto the step beside her, wrapping his arms around his knees in an attempt to stay warm as a particularly icy gust of wind sweeps through the courtyard.

“Are you sure?” asks Hugo.

“No, I’m not sure at all. But…”

Holding the burning cigarette between two fingers, Eve reaches into her pocket with the other hand to pull out her phone. She unlocks it swiftly and dials Villanelle’s number, tapping the screen to put it on speaker so that Hugo can hear the automated message.

“I’m sorry, but the number you have called is not recognised.”

Eve hangs up the call and returns the phone to her pocket, before explaining, “She was texting me from that number yesterday and now it suddenly doesn’t exist.”

Hugo takes a drag from his own cigarette, then concedes, “Yeah, that’s pretty condemning.”

“But if this was planned in advance, there were just so many variables for her to contend with,” continues Eve, blurting out the thoughts as they come to her mind. “What if I had picked a different escort? What if I hadn’t hired her again after Niko’s wedding, or for the Christmas party?”

Eve’s brain is on a roll now, things clicking into place as she verbalises everything. She thinks back to the night that this all started and wonders how things might be different if she had just gone straight to bed when she got home from the pub after Hugo suggested she hired an escort for Niko’s wedding.

“What if I had never hired an escort in the first place?” Eve says aloud. She turns to look at Hugo, then adds, “I mean, I never would have thought about hiring an escort at all if you hadn’t suggested it.”

Hugo sucks on the cigarette between his lips, apparently oblivious to Eve’s implication, until his head suddenly snaps to look at her. His lungs still full, he chokes out several spluttering coughs, each one punctuated with a cloud of cigarette smoke puffing from between his lips.

“Hang on,” he says with a frown, once he has regained his composure. “You’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting, are you?”

Eve shrugs, and says, “I’ve gone over everything and I can’t work out a way in which she managed this without you being involved.”

Hugo doesn’t seem offended. Instead, he just rolls his eyes at Eve and then arches an eyebrow in her direction as he says, “Eve, as flattered as I am that you think I could be a criminal mastermind, have you really listened to what you’re saying?”

It’s a far-fetched theory, but Eve has very little else to go on.

“How else did she do it, then?”

“I don’t know!” shrugs Hugo. “But the idea of me being involved is just preposterous, to be honest.”

Eve is inclined to agree with him. Hugo is more of a loveable rogue than a mastermind, capable of breaking a few hearts and embodying white privilege but very little worse than that.

“I know,” admits Eve. “I don’t quite believe that you could be involved. It’s just … how?”

“How, indeed,” Hugo agrees with a hum, before he lifts the cigarette back to his lips.

Eve gets to her feet and paces around the fenced-in courtyard, and maybe the movement gets the blood moving through Eve’s body and to her brain, or maybe she’s just spewing a nonsensical stream of consciousness, but she talks aloud as she tries to process her own thoughts.

“How did she know I would hire an escort for Niko’s wedding? How did she know that I would use that particular agency? How did she know that I would pick her?”

Eve turns to look at Hugo, pointing emphatically at him with the dwindling stub of her cigarette as she continues her monologue.

“You know, I’d never even been with a woman before her,” she tells him. “It’s not like she could even do any research to find out if I had a type. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Eve looks out beyond the security fence and wonders what Villanelle is doing right now - what she’s wearing, whether she’s still in London, if she is thinking of Eve too. 

“And I nearly didn’t invite her to the Christmas party at all,” Eve continues to ramble. “I made the decision just a couple of hours before the deadline for the guest list.”

Eve isn’t worried about oversharing. Two heads are better than one and if Hugo had no malicious intent with his suggestion to Eve of hiring an escort, then perhaps he can be trusted to put his Oxford degree to some good use and help Eve to solve this little puzzle.

“Why did you invite her?” asks Hugo. “What changed your mind?”

Keeping her back to Hugo, Eve feels her heart start to race as she thinks back to when she made that final impulsive decision. She hardly remembers what the exact final trigger had been, only the messy combination of lust and the delusional idea that Eve would only see her one more time, as if the party would flush Villanelle from her system like a mild strain of an illness..

Eve realises that it will take more than a juice cleanse or a prescribed course of antibiotics to free herself of Villanelle.

Especially now that they have slept together. Eve doesn’t know what sex means to Villanelle - probably just a meaningless tool that she uses as a way of taking what she wants - but to Eve is means that Villanelle is always going to be a part of her, a name on a comparably short list of people that Eve has trusted enough to get into bed with.

“I … she got into my head,” admits Eve, remembering the thrill of finding a new message from Villanelle each time she checked her phone. “She started texting me and calling me and … and other stuff, and I told myself it would just be one last time. A final send-off before I “broke up with Julie” and then I would be done.”

“Well, that bit makes sense, at least.”

“Does it?” asks Eve, turning back to frown at Hugo.

“Yes,” answers Hugo, like it’s obvious. “She’s clearly very intelligent and she’s worked out exactly how to manipulate you into hiring her again. Ignore how this started, because that is a bit baffling, I agree. But is it reasonable to think that everything she has ever said or done since you met her could have been priming you to make that decision to invite her last night?”

Except that Villanelle didn’t manipulate Eve. Each decision to hire Villanelle again was made entirely of Eve’s own volition. 

“I don’t want to believe…”

“I know you don’t. But is it possible?”

But Villanelle always went above and beyond what was expected of her. She kissed Eve too eagerly, flirted with her a little too well, played the doting girlfriend in front of Eve’s friends so convincingly that Eve really had no other choice than to be utterly enamoured by her.

So, yes, it might have been Eve’s own decision to invite Villanelle to the party and then into bed with her, but Eve can’t try to pretend that she would have let things go that far if Villanelle hadn’t been exactly the person that she pretended to be.

“Of course it’s possible,” Eve eventually admits.

Eve drops the cigarette stub and grinds it beneath the toe of her shoe. She tries to imagine that she’s not just squashing the cigarette, but also every negative emotion in her body.

It doesn’t work. Instead, Eve feels the negativity start to build up within her again, manifesting itself not as anxiety, but as pure rage.

Without even thinking, Eve storms back over to the step where Hugo sits and swings her fist at the wall of the building. Her knuckles collide with the hard brick and she lets out an animalistic yell, half rage and half pain. Clutching her hand and nearly tripping over Hugo as she takes a step back, Eve inspects the damage, little beads of blood swelling to the surface where the rough brick has scraped the skin from her knuckles.

It hurts, but not as much as the betrayal that aches in her chest.

“God, I’m such an idiot.”

“For punching a wall?” replies Hugo. He shrugs, then says, “Yeah, I can’t argue with you there.”

“No, for…” Eve trails off, before conceding that she really has nothing left to lose. Letting out a sigh, Eve admits aloud, “I had sex with her, Hugo. I thought that she actually liked me and I…” 

Eve gets lost mid-sentence again, caught up in the memories of last night with Villanelle. It’s not that Eve thought Villanelle liked her, but that she left Villanelle’s apartment this morning one hundred percent convinced that they were going to have a happy future together, full of cute brunch dates and long nights touching each other until the sun rises. 

“She manipulated me, and she used me and then she fucked me and…”

And Eve would do it all again in a heartbeat. Eve would relive last night a thousand times over, and let countless other innocent people be murdered, just for another few hours with Villanelle.

Eve decides not to admit that part to Hugo.

“I really think you need to tell Carolyn the truth,” says Hugo.

He drops his cigarette butt on the floor and gets to his feet, wrapping his coat tighter around his body to keep himself warm.

“I know,” Eve reluctantly agrees. “God, I can’t think of anything more mortifying than telling my boss that I hired an escort.”

“Does it make you feel better if I point out that if she killed that bloke, she might not actually be a real escort?” asks Hugo, as he pulls his ID pass out of his coat pocket and taps it against the card reader to open the door back into the building.

“No, Hugo. It doesn’t make me feel better.”

Chapter Text

Interrogation rooms are not fun places to be. The whole room is designed to be deliberately unnerving, from the flickering bulb overhead, to the hard plastic seat with one leg fractionally shorter than the other three, to the two-way mirror lining one wall, behind which Eve can only speculate who might be lurking, watching her suffer.

Eve has been in a few interrogation rooms during her years working for the British Intelligence Service, but never before has she been in one as the person being interrogated.

She hates it.

Perhaps what is worst about the whole situation, is that the person questioning her is Carolyn Martens. Carolyn has been regarding her with a stern frown ever since Eve made the uncomfortable confession not even an hour ago that the person she brought to the office Christmas party, the person currently suspected of committing murder at said party, is actually an escort and not a delightful woman by the name of Julie. Eve cowers under Carolyn’s steely gaze. She can’t be sure that Carolyn has actually blinked at all since they sat down on opposite sides of this table in the centre of the dingy interrogation room, and at this point, Eve is half-convinced that Carolyn is actually part-lizard and doesn’t need to blink at all.

“Are you sure that there’s nothing else you can tell us?” Carolyn asks, removing her glasses and folding them neatly as she places them down on the table, as if removing that barrier between her eyes and Eve will somehow cause Eve to crumble and suddenly remember new facts that she hasn’t yet shared with Carolyn.

“I think I’ve told you everything,” Eve insists, eyeing the blinking red light on the audio recorder that has captured their entire conversation.

Carolyn picks up the spiral bound notebook that she has been jotting notes into as Eve has answered her questions, then replaces her glasses back on her nose as she gets ready to read.

“Let’s go over this again,” Carolyn says to Eve. “Her name is Villanelle, though you’re not sure if that’s her real name - she might have given you a fake one. She is twenty-five, from Russia originally - you think - and she works as an escort, though you’re not so sure about that anymore either.”

Carolyn removes her glasses again, this time pushing them up to sit on the top of her head as she regards Eve with another stern look.

“There are a lot of ‘maybes’ in this story.”

Eve struggles to think of something that she can say in response. Carolyn is absolutely right - there is very little about Villanelle that Eve can be certain of anymore. Even the tangible things, like the way that Villanelle’s body felt against her own and the sound that escaped Villanelle’s lips when Eve brought her to orgasm, seem like they could be fake now. Eve can hardly believe that she woke up with Villanelle in her arms only this morning, when it feels like it might have happened a lifetime ago.

How can Eve have been so stupid? She jumped into bed with somebody that she hardly knows anything about.

But perhaps what is even worse, is that Eve somehow managed to convince herself that she was falling for Villanelle. Eve knows, now that she realises everything that Villanelle ever said or did around Eve may have been a lie, that any feelings for Villanelle were just as far from the truth. Eve isn’t in love with Villanelle, instead just the hypothetical version of what Villanelle could stand for.

Eve racks her brain, scrambling for something, anything that she can give that might make Carolyn a little less disappointed in her.

And then, with perfect timing that must surely warrant a little cartoon lightbulb appearing above Eve’s head, she remembers...

“I know the name of her boss! Her … pimp, I guess. He’s called Konstantin. Russian again, or Eastern European. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of times.”

Carolyn picks up her pen and scrawls the name Konstantin at the bottom of her page, before underlining it.

“And I suppose that could be a pseudonym as well,” she says, far less impressed with this new piece of information than Eve was hoping.

“I guess so,” shrugs Eve. “But at least you know that she isn’t working alone.”

Caroly gives Eve a look, as if she has just stated something incredibly obvious, and Eve slumps back in her chair.

“You know her better than us, so answer me this, Eve,” says Carolyn. “Do you trust her?”

Eve’s answer requires no thought at all.

“No.”

“Do you think she is capable of murder?”

Eve thinks back to last night, and tries to imagine Villanelle lethally poisoning a stranger’s drink at some point between the romantic gesture of returning Eve’s money and the physical gesture of going down on Eve until she could barely remember her own name. It’s definitely possible, and the more that Eve thinks about it, the more she thinks that it must be true, but there’s a fairly large part of her still holding onto the hope that this is just a huge mistake, that Villanelle is going to call her at any moment and provide a perfectly logical explanation for her phone number disappearing, something that doesn’t involve a murder carried out with truly expert precision.

With the animalistic, fork-wielding version of Villanelle flashing across the front of her mind, Eve’s brain answers yes, but her mouth says, “No.”

Carolyn stares at Eve like she’s waiting for her to crack. With each second that Carolyn watches her, unblinking, Eve feels more like she is the one who is being suspected of committing the murder being investigated.

And then, after Carolyn closes her notebook with a little flick of her wrist and reaches out with the other hand to turn off the audio recorder, she leans back in her seat and says something that Eve couldn’t have prepared herself to hear.

“I’m afraid you’ve given me no choice but to put you on indefinite leave without pay while this investigation is ongoing.”

Eve’s mouth falls open in surprise, before she cries out in outrage, “You’re suspending me? You can’t do that!”

Carolyn clasps her hands together neatly on top of the table between them, and says, “I think you’ll find that I can.”

“This is bullshit!” fumes Eve, not even caring that she is using such language in front of her boss. “I had nothing to do with that man’s death!”

“And until we’ve finished investigating and know that for sure, I have to suspend you,” says Carolyn, remaining unnervingly calm in the face of Eve’s angry outburst. “Villanelle is our biggest lead and you are alleging that she was with you when Diego collapsed.”

“I’m not alleging,” says Eve, grinding her teeth together as she speaks and folds her arms indignantly across her chest. “I’m telling you that she was.”

“If you can think of anything else that can help us, you really must tell me,” says Carolyn, pushing back her chair and getting to her feet, a pretty clear signal to Eve that this conversation is over and that there is no room to debate her employment status. “The sooner we can rule you out as an accomplice, the sooner you will be able to return to work.”

Eve manages to bite her tongue just in time to stop herself from telling Carolyn that she doesn’t want to work for people who distrust her enough to think that she could have assisted in the murder of a colleague, even after working for Carolyn for all these years.

Instead of making a snarky comment, Eve replies, “Of course I will. But I’ve already told you everything that I know.”

It feels like a lie, even if Eve herself can’t quite work out what information she is still withholding, and from the look on Carolyn’s face, she doesn’t quite buy it either. Eve is just grateful that Carolyn decides not to push it any further.

“Excellent,” says Carolyn, picking up her notepad and the recording device, before she makes her way over to the door in the corner and pushes it, holding it open for Eve to follow her through. “You can leave the premises now. I’ll be in touch as soon as we know more.”


Until today, Eve would have struggled to think of a situation worse than being stuck on the London Underground during rush hour. Hundreds of sweaty bodies crammed into a carriage with no space to move and no air to breathe, far below the bustling capital city - it’s smelly, unbearably hot, claustrophobic, and Eve’s idea of living hell.

But today is Sunday, and even though it’s only a week before Christmas, the tube isn’t anywhere near as crowded as it gets during the evening commute. Yet this is by far the worst journey of Eve’s life. From the highs of spending the night with Villanelle, only to have it all come crashing down with not only Villanelle’s mysterious disappearing act, but a suspension from her job - Eve has never felt worse. And now Eve is stuck on an underground train for the next twenty minutes to wallow in self-pity.

The worst thing is that nobody else seems to be sharing in Eve’s despair. Eve has travelled thousands of journeys on the Underground, each one full of sullen commuters who bury themselves in their phones or copies of Metro without saying a word to one another. Why does it have to be today, when Eve’s mood is at an all-time low, that everybody else seems so happy. Across from Eve, a loved-up couple in their early twenties sit as close as they can despite the armrest between them, hands intertwined and the girl’s head resting on her boyfriend’s shoulder. A pair of twin boys who can’t be older than about four or five spend the entire time making each other giggle raucously, while their nearby mother cradles a sleeping baby sibling in a carrier against her chest. There are people smiling down at their phones, a guy with impressive dreadlocks bobbing his head along to the music coming through his headphones, a pregnant lady wearing a badge that reads ‘baby on board’, and the icing on top of the cake is the saxophonist who boards the train at one station, plays a jaunty tune while his friend moves up and down the carriage collecting loose change, before they both get off again two stops later.

These people are all so happy, so content with their lives. In contrast, Eve feels miserable. She has nothing. She feels as if even her soul has vacated her body, still wrapped up in silk covers in a flat in Shoreditch.

Eve is relieved when the train finally pulls into her stop, however momentarily, until she steps out of the tube station to find that it has started snowing. London can’t even do snow properly, not like the winters of Eve’s childhood in Connecticut, where several feet of thick snow would mask the entire landscape. In London, the snow falls and melts before it even lands, making everything just really soggy - all the coldness of snow with none of the fun.

And now Eve has to make the ten minute walk from the station to her house with no gloves or scarf, both forgotten in her haste to quickly get out of the house after going home to shower and change. The only protection between Eve and London’s half-assed attempt at snow is a coat that is both far too thin for wind this icy, and an unpleasant reminder of Villanelle.

“You really should have listened when I told you to get a better coat,” Villanelle’s voice says in Eve’s head, sounding so much like the real thing that Eve imagines having a tiny version of Villanelle, only a few inches tall, standing on her shoulder and talking into her ear.

“Oh, piss off,” Eve grumbles under her breath, banishing fantasy Villanelle from her mind.

Eve stops off at Tesco on the way home, picking up a basket from the stack beside the door and making a beeline straight for the wine aisle. She spends a few minutes deliberating between a bottle of Malbec and a light rosé that promises her ‘crisp hints of melon’, until she reads the cheap price tags and decides to pop both into her basket.

But when Eve stops off in the snack aisle on her way to the checkout, loading her shopping basket up with a few bags of crisps and a large bar of Dairy Milk, determined to spend the rest of the day eating and drinking her feelings, Eve gets chills down her spine when she hears a familiar voice calling out her name.

“Eve!”

Eve turns to face Niko, contorting her face into the most neutral expression she can manage, so as to not let her ex-husband know that she’s having a worse day than possibly even the one they agreed to file for divorce.

“Niko. How are you?”

Niko reaches out and picks up a packet of rich tea biscuits - of course he goes for the blandest item on the shelf - and drops it into his own basket.

“Good, thanks,” he answers, hooking the handle of the basket over his forearm as he takes a few steps closer. “And you?”

“I’m fine,” Eve is quick to answer. “I’m great. Really … just great.”

Niko seems momentarily bewildered by Eve’s insistence that she is great, but he doesn’t question her about it.

Instead, he asks, “And how is Julie? You seemed really loved up last time I saw you.”

Eve feels a pang of loss for what could have been, if Villanelle had just been somebody she met through normal methods, rather than an apparent psychopath disguised as an escort. Villanelle is still fresh in Eve’s mind, and her touch fresh on Eve’s skin, filling Eve with a strange mix of longing and rage. But Eve will be damned if she lets Niko think that things are anything less than perfect in her fake relationship.

“Oh, we are!” agrees Eve. “So loved up. We can’t keep our hands off each other.”

“Great,” says Niko. “And Gemma and I are…” Niko trails off, then laughs and says, “Sorry, this is a really weird conversation to be having.”

Eve forces a laugh and then agrees, “Yeah, it is.”

They both fall silent, facing each other in a shroud of awkwardness, with no easy way to either continue or end the conversation.

“So…” says Niko, trying to fill the silence. 

His eyes flit down to Eve’s basket, frowning as he inspects the contents. There are two reasons why somebody might have a basket full of only wine and snack food - one is that they are going through a breakup, and the other…

“Julie and I have synced up,” Eve blurts out.

It takes Niko a few seconds of confusion to figure out what Eve means. Eve sees the moment that it clicks in his brain because his eyes widen and then his cheeks flush pink as he avoids making eye contact with Eve.

So much for getting away from the weird conversations to be having with an ex-spouse...

“I should be going,” says Eve, gesturing over her shoulder with her thumb. “Don’t want to keep her waiting.”

“Of course,” agrees Niko, with a nod. “It was nice to bump into you, Eve.”

Eve says goodbye and tries not to sprint away to the checkout.

It was one thing pretending to have a girlfriend when she had an escort at her side to help sell the lie, but Eve realises now that it’s going to be a lot harder to keep the pretence up with Villanelle gone from her life.

She’s fucked.


When Eve wakes up on Monday morning, she is briefly pleased that she has been suspended from work, because it means that she doesn’t have to go to work with a terrible hangover.

It’s about the only thing that Eve is pleased about.

Wine hangovers are the worst. Or second worst, right after tequila hangovers. Drowning her sorrows in two bottles of wine seemed like an excellent idea last night, but now Eve still has to face the reality of having no job, a bruised heart, and a pounding headache.

Somewhere in the distance, Eve’s doorbell rings, and then reverberates around her skull in the most painful of ways.

“Coming,” Eve groans out into her empty bedroom.

Gently peeling back the covers, Eve reluctantly climbs out of bed and stumbles out of her bedroom, making her way to the front door. When she opens it, there is a young man, probably only in his late teens or early twenties, holding a large bouquet of flowers.

“Eve Polastri?”

“Correct.”

He offers out the bunch of flowers, and says, “These are for you.”

There is a brief moment in which Eve thinks she is being hit on by a kid who looks like he is barely out of puberty, before she spots his pale blue polo shirt and realises that it matches the van parked at the side of the road outside Eve’s house, both sporting the logo of a nearby florist’s shop.

Eve accepts the flowers and reads the card poking out from between the petals, curious as to who is sending her gifts.

If she had been awake for a little longer, or perhaps drunk a little less wine last night, the answer to that question would have been obvious much sooner.

The card bears only two words - sorry baby - written in loopy handwriting and scrawled above a large ‘x’.

Eve’s immediate reaction is to drop the flowers like they have scalded the palms of her hands. Fuelled by rage that Villanelle, who just over twenty four hours ago was begging Eve to join her in the shower for more debauchery, has done a runner and thinks she can make it okay by sending Eve flowers, Eve lets out a yell surely loud enough to be heard by the entire street. She jumps on the flowers, crushing the petals repeatedly beneath her still bare feet. As Eve seeks to destroy the evidence that Villanelle was ever in her life, she completely forgets about the guy who delivered them, who deserves much more than the meagre wage he probably earns for having to watch Eve descend into a mental breakdown over a few flowers.

The delivery boy takes a couple of steps back, alarmed at Eve’s reaction to being delivered a beautiful bouquet. 

Well, it was a beautiful bouquet, until Eve trampled it into her own doorstep.

It’s only when he retreats backwards to his van, that Eve snaps back to her senses and realises how psychopathic she must look, jumping up and down on some flowers while wearing only her pyjamas. 

“I’m sorry!” Eve calls out after him. “It’s not you or the flowers! It’s  … I’m going through a bad breakup!”

The delivery boy can’t get back into his van fast enough, practically jumping into the driver’s side and slamming the door behind him, as if he is afraid that if he doesn’t get away, he will meet the same fate as the flowers he delivered.

As the van drives away, Eve finally takes in the carnage at her feet. There’s no hope of salvaging the flowers, not that Eve would want a reminder of Villanelle sitting in a vase in her house for the next week. 

The flowers were gorgeous though, before they got trampled.

Eve bends down and picked up their crumpled remains, holding them at arms’ length as she walks over to the wheelie bin parked against the wall that separates the overgrown patch of grass in front of her own house from the slightly better-kept one belonging to her neighbour. She lifts the lid of the bin, ready to drop the flowers in, but at the very last minute she catches sight of the white corner of the card nestled between the leaves. Eve snatches the card out between her fingers, then lets the flowers fall into the bin and shuts the lid on top.

The card is a little crumpled, but Eve reads the two words written on it over and over again until Villanelle’s handwriting is burned into her retinas. She knows that she should give it the same fate as the flowers, that she should probably burn everything that reminds her of Villanelle so that she can give herself a fresh start, but she can’t.

Even now, after all that has happened, Villanelle still has her claws deep within Eve’s soul.

Eve wonders briefly if she is supposed to tell Carolyn about the flowers. But she doesn’t see what the flowers have to do with murder or the investigation, and Carolyn never explicitly asked Eve to tell her if Villanelle tried to make contact.

And as Eve lifts the card to her nose and inhales the familiar scent of Villanelle’s perfume that has been spritzed onto it, then takes it back into the house with her, she decides that there are some things that it is best if Carolyn doesn’t know.

Chapter Text

It is on the second day of Eve’s suspension from work that she realises she might be a little bit fucked up.

Eve is disappointed that she’s been put on indefinite leave, of course she is, not to mention a little bit anxious that she might end up losing her job permanently over the matter. Or worse, she could end up in prison for assisting a murder, if Carolyn’s team of investigators manage to produce enough evidence to pin this on Villanelle. But that is nothing compared to the gut-wrenching emptiness that Eve feels at the prospect of never seeing Villanelle again.

Eve should not be hung up on a woman that has screwed her over quite so spectacularly.

It turns out that there’s actually very little for Eve to do now that she doesn’t have to go to work anymore. Eve never realised how heavily her life revolves around her job until there was no longer a job for it to revolve around. And sure, Niko always used to accuse her of being a workaholic, but she never once stopped to think that there might actually be some truth to his words. Everybody that Eve might hang out with if she had free time works during the day, leaving Eve alone in her house with nothing to do and nobody to talk to.

Eve’s instinct is to reach for her phone and text Villanelle, and each time she does so, there is a split second in which she completely forgets everything that has happened and that she won’t get a response. And with each minute that passes since Eve last heard anything from Villanelle, Eve becomes increasingly certain that she is never going to hear from Villanelle again.

The flowers , though. Yet another thing that Eve can’t quite make sense of. They are clearly an apology, obvious from the card that was nestled amongst the petals, the same card that now rests on her nightstand, giving her just a hint of Villanelle’s perfume each time Eve inhales. But an apology for what? For killing Diego? For being responsible for Eve getting suspended from work? For not being able to go on that promised dinner date? Eve doesn’t even know how many of those things are even true, least of all whether Villanelle actually feels remorse for any of it.

Eve makes the conscious decision not to tell Carolyn about the flowers. She can’t think of a reason why they might be useful to Carolyn’s investigation. And even though the smell of Villanelle’s perfume spritzed onto the accompanying card is the only thing about which Eve can be one hundred percent certain, unless MI6 has a pack of hunting dogs at their disposal, Eve decides that they are unlikely to be able to track Villanelle based on her smell alone. She’ll tell Carolyn if Villanelle contacts her again, but there’s no point just yet.

Why, when the truth has come out like an explosion that has destroyed half of Eve’s life, are there still so many lies and half-truths scattered about?

The very last thing that Eve wants to do is to face up to her colleagues and have to admit to them that Julie was just an elaborate lie spun to trick them into thinking that Eve has game, but when twenty-four hours have passed since Eve’s last conversation with another human being - the brief interaction she shared with the flower delivery boy - she concedes out of boredom and shoots a text to Elena asking if she wants to meet up during Elena’s lunch break.

Which brings Eve to now - to sitting in a cafe just a few blocks from the MI6 Headquarters in Vauxhall, waiting for Elena to show up.

Not for the first time in the last couple of days, and probably not for the millionth time either, Eve thinks of Villanelle.

She wonders where Villanelle is right now, what she’s doing and who she’s doing it with. She wonders if Villanelle is thinking of her, if Villanelle has thought about her at all since she sent the flowers, or if Eve has been discarded from Villanelle’s thoughts as easily as she has disappeared from Eve’s life. 

Eve’s mind runs in circles, one long stream of Villanellevillanellevillanelle on repeat that won’t go away, no matter how much she tries to will it to, until it’s driving her completely crazy, unable to focus on anything else...

“An escort, Eve?” comes Elena’s voice from behind Eve, taking her by surprise and knocking her out of her thoughts of Villanelle with an unpleasant abruptness. “I’d expect it from Hugo, but not from you.”

As Elena drops into the seat across from Eve and unwinds the scarf from around her neck, Eve shakes her head and says, “I really don’t want to hear it.”

Elena slips her arms out of the sleeves of her coat and then picks up the menu.

“I think I’m less disappointed in you for hiring an escort than I am about the fact that you lied about it,” says Elena. “I can’t believe that Hugo knew and I didn’t.”

Other than Carolyn, and Hugo who knew by default, Eve hasn’t actually discussed the reason behind her suspension with any of her colleagues. The fact that Elena seems to not only already know the juicy details but also have an opinion on the matter, just confirms to Eve that this is hot gossip spreading around the office like a nasty plague.

Eve doesn’t feel like she should take all the blame for this disaster and says as much to Elena.

“Yeah, well, it was Hugo’s idea.”

Elena grimaces, then says, “Don’t you know better than to take suggestions from him?”

“I do now!”

Elena flicks through the menu, then puts it down.

“God, I hate to be that prick that flags down a waitress but I’ve only got a forty minute lunch break,” says Elena, half-heartedly raising a hand to catch the waitress’s attention, before sinking back in her seat in shame when it works. “Are you ready to order?”

They order a couple of sandwiches and drinks - a small glass of rosé for Eve just because she can now that she doesn’t have to go to work.

“Anyway,” says Elena, once the waitress has left them alone again, “how are you feeling?”

“How do you think I’m feeling?” grumbles Eve, before she clarifies, “Like shit.”

Elena reaches a sympathetic hand across the table and rests it over Eve’s, squeezing her fingers comfortingly.

“Well,” she reassures Eve, “you had no way of knowing that she would pull a stunt like this.”

Eve narrows her eyes, and then asks, “So you think she did it?”

“You don’t?” asks Elena, her eyebrows shooting up across her forehead in surprise.

Eve is grateful that the waitress returns at exactly that moment with her drink, but when she takes a big sip to give herself time to prepare an answer to Elena’s question, Eve regrets only ordering a small glass.

The fact that Villanelle might have spent the entire time wrapped around Eve’s body with the knowledge that there was a man dying because of her, make Eve feel a little…

Well, it makes Eve feel sick for about half a second, until she feels the blood in her body start to rush south and fuck she shouldn’t be turned on at the thought of Villanelle killing somebody, but at this stage there is very little that Villanelle could do that wouldn’t have that effect on Eve.

Like Eve says, it’s more than a little bit fucked up.

Most fucked up of all is that Eve’s biggest regret is not that she hired an escort for the office party, an escort who might not actually be an escort but instead a cold-blooded killer, but that she didn’t accept Villanelle’s invitation to shower together so that she could get a proper goodbye.

But if she were to admit that aloud, Eve is sure that it would get her fired at the very least, if not thrown into prison.

“I don’t want to believe it,” admits Eve, choosing her words carefully as she thinks of the night she spent with Villanelle. 

“But you think she probably did?” asks Elena, leaning forward with both arms resting on the table between them, eyes alight with hunger for gossip.

Eve shrugs, fully aware that as much as she loves Elena, anything that she shares with her will probably have made its way around the rest of the office before the end of the working day.

“Can I ask you something?” continues Elena.

Eve hesitates for a fraction of a second, before she answers, “Sure.”

“Was any of it true? That stuff you said to me about you never feeling about Niko the way that you felt about her.”

Eve’s heart flips in her chest.

“No,” she lies without thinking, before remembering that she’s still trying to wade out of the pool of shit created by the last set of lies she told to Elena. “I mean, I think that I thought some of it was true at the time. And I think I fancied her and really wanted to have sex with her.”

“Did you?” asks Elena, teeth digging into her lower lip as she fights off a grin in her excitement to hear Eve’s answer.

“Did I have sex with her?” Eve asks to clarify. She pauses, taking another sip from her glass of wine, then says, “Only on the night of the Christmas party.”

Elena’s face goes through a myriad of emotions in just a single second - from surprise to glee to curiosity. 

“So, she really was with you when…”

“When the guy died?” supplies Eve. “Yep.”

“Do you think she planned it like that?”

When the waitress returns with their sandwiches, Eve is glad that she can use the food as a welcome distraction from thoughts of exactly what she was doing at the time Diego died at the party. Those are better saved for a more private place.

Except that Eve shouldn’t be thinking about it at all, and instead trying to banish them from her mind, at the very least feeling ashamed about what happened, if not trying to trick herself into thinking that it never happened at all.

But Villanelle’s lips, Villanelle’s hands, and her fingers and her touch and her touch

“So, how is work?” asks Eve, as she lifts her sandwich and hopes that she can hide the blush on her cheeks behind a large mouthful of BLT.

“It’s weird without you,” admits Elena. “Jess has taken over from you as team leader while you’re off. I hope this shit gets sorted soon and your suspension gets lifted because Jess goes on maternity leave after Christmas and god knows who will be put in charge then.”

“It might be you,” Eve points out, reaching for her paper napkin and dabbing at her lips.

“It should be me,” says Elena, emphatically gesticulating with a sandwich in one hand. “I’ve worked there longer than the other two. And I bloody love the idea of bossing those boys around. But I reckon Hugo will get Daddy to pull some strings and Carolyn will give it to him.”

“God, I hate white privilege,” says Eve, rolling her eyes in sympathy with Elena. She pauses for just a second, before she asks, as casually as she can possibly muster, “Have Carolyn’s investigators turned over anything?”

Elena takes a moment to chew her mouthful of food, holding her free hand up apologetically as she swallows, then answers, “I honestly have no idea. If they have, they’re keeping it hush.”

“But people must be talking,” says Eve, pushing her for more.

“Oh, they are ,” says Elena, dark eyes lighting up with mischief. “Don’t you worry about that.”

And now Eve is worried. She hates the idea that people are gossiping about her behind her back, especially when she can’t actually do anything to change their mind. She is torn between wanting to know exactly what is being said about her, and wanting to go into denial about the fact that she might be the cause of the hottest gossip to enter the office all year. Eve would have thought that there would have been something more interesting going on at the Headquarters of one of the world’s most well-known intelligence services, but it’s a disappointingly dull place to work.

Until now. And Eve might not even have a job there for much longer.

“What are they saying?” asks Eve.

“I think it’s pretty mixed between thinking you orchestrated the whole thing and knowing you well enough to know you had nothing to do with it. Our team is on your side, of course. Kenny won’t even entertain the idea that Julie did it.”

“Her name is Villanelle,” says Eve, correcting Elena now that the secret is out. It may have only been a couple of days, but Julie seems like a lifetime ago. “At least, that’s the name she gave to me. I think it’s probably fake too.”

“Villanelle,” says Elena, testing out the name. “Sounds French.”

“She spoke French,” Eve tells Elena. “But I’m pretty sure her accent was Eastern European. Russian, maybe.”

Elena puts her sandwich down and rests her elbows on the table, clasping her hands together as she leans forward to talk.

“Let’s get this straight,” says Elena, eyes glued to Eve as she talks. “You invited a Russian assassin disguised as an escort to a party full of British government employees, where she probably murdered one, before giving herself an alibi by taking you home and shagging you? I’m not surprised Carolyn suspended you.”

“Hey, we don’t know that she’s an assassin,” says Eve, pressing her lips together as she thinks. “It could have been somebody else. Or maybe it was an accident.”

Elena lets out a little snort and then nearly chokes on her mouthful of food. She splutters inelegantly, then reaches for her drink and takes a couple of long gulps to help clear her throat. Eve is relieved when she hears Elena take a smooth unobstructed breath, glad that she won’t be indirectly responsible for a second person unexpectedly collapsing in a matter of days.

“I don’t know how you accidentally slip a lethal neurotoxin into somebody’s drink,” says Elena, once she has recovered from her choking experience.

“No,” explains Eve, “I mean, like, maybe she didn’t plan it in advance. Maybe he groped her without permission and she retaliated. You remember Cleo, right?”

“Hugo’s Tinder date that did a runner?”

Eve nods and then says, “Well, I had to talk Villanelle down from killing her after she made those comments about our relationship.”

Elena puts her sandwich down and rests the palms of both hands flat on the table as she stares at Eve and asks, “You’re telling me that you knew Villanelle had violent and possibly murderous tendencies and you still brought her to the Christmas party?”

Eve tries to transport her mind back to the restaurant bathroom to remember exactly what happened. Sure , Villanelle had been angry, but rightfully so after Cleo implied their relationship wasn’t normal. And yes, Eve does remember the ferocity in Villanelle’s voice as she spoke about how she could kill Cleo, but Eve doesn’t think she can be expected to see that as a red flag. Eve has made similar offhand remarks about people she would never dream of killing - just last week she said that she could quite happily kill Hugo after she spent an hour hunting for an important bit of paperwork that eventually turned out to have been on his desk the entire time.

It’s really not Eve’s fault at all. Besides, she remembers feeling more aroused than terrified or concerned by Villanelle’s violent outburst.

“Look, she was really hot, okay?” says Eve, attempting to reason with Elena.

“Keep digging, Eve,” says Elena, raising an amused eyebrow as she profs at her side salad with a fork. “I’m not sure there’s a ladder big enough to get you out of that hole.”

“Piss off,” mumbles Eve, rolling her eyes. “We all make mistakes.”

“Some bigger than others,” says Elena. She sits up straight, then swiftly changes the subject by saying, “Anyway, what are your plans for Christmas?”

Eve is grateful that she is no longer being interrogated about Villanelle, and she replies, “Oh, you know. Keeping it lowkey.”

“Well, I’m not letting you spend it alone,” says Elena. “You’re coming to mine on Christmas Day.”

“I don’t need a pity party,” complains Eve.

“It’s not a pity party!” says Elena, shaking her head adamantly. “Kenny’s coming, and Hugo jumped at the chance to not spend it with his family. It’ll be a nice little gathering. I’ll give you the same warning as Hugo though - absolutely no hiring escorts as plus ones.”

“Maybe I should hire one to spend the day at home with me,” retorts Eve, taking an aggressive bite of her sandwich.

She doesn’t mean it. After this fiasco, Eve vows to never do something as idiotic as hiring an escort again. And beside her work friends, there’s nobody else that Eve would actually want to spend her Christmas with, except perhaps the unattainable idea of a pre-murder Villanelle. (Post-murder Villanelle can stay the fuck away unless she wants to end up with a knife in her gut for the emotional turmoil she has put Eve through.)

“Now you’re just being stubborn,” says Elena. “You’re spending Christmas Day with us and that’s final. Even if I have to drag you out of your own house by your Christmas jumper.”

Eve slumps back in her chair and concedes, “Fine.”

“Good,” says Elena, with a cheery smile. “I’m glad that’s agreed. I’m working on a little Christmas surprise for you.”

“No,” groans Eve. “You know I hate surprises.”

The only surprise that Eve could possibly be okay with would be for Villanelle to appear and provide concrete evidence that she had nothing to do with Diego’s murder, but Eve doesn’t think that even Elena is capable of pulling off that miracle.

“You’ll like this one,” insists Elena. “I know you will.”

Eve lets out a sigh and then jokes, “And if I don’t, then I’ll set my assassin girlfriend on you.”


 

Eve makes a detour on her way home after lunch with Elena. And by detour, she means that she jumps on the tube in completely the wrong direction until her feet lead her to a familiar flat in Shoreditch.

She glances up at the window that she knows belongs to Villanelle’s apartment, half-expecting to see a curtain twitch and a familiar face peering down at her through the pane. But Eve sees nothing, and knows that Villanelle probably hasn’t been here since the morning that Eve left her behind in the shower.

Eve wonders if Villanelle’s stuff is still here, if the closet is still full of designer clothes, if the scent of French perfume still hangs in the air. She wonders if the sheets are still rumpled, lasting evidence of their night spent together.

Without thinking, Eve takes a few steps forward and tries the door leading up to Villanelle’s flat. Unsurprisingly, it’s locked and the handle doesn’t budge, not even when Eve rattles it aggressively and leans her shoulder against the door. She spends a couple of minutes searching the vicinity for a spare key, but there are surprisingly few decent hiding places down this little side alley.

Which means that Eve will have to resort to slightly less legal methods of entry.

The first idea that pops into Eve’s brain is to lob a rock at one of the windows and hope that it shatters. But then Eve remembers that she is not a cat burglar and probably lacks both the agility and the upper body strength to be able to haul herself up a drainpipe and clamber through the window. Luckily, Eve’s second idea is a stroke of genius, and she reaches up to her head, locating a bobby pin holding back a loose flyaway, before she bends down in front of the keyhole.

Or, at least, the idea is a stroke of genius until Eve realises that she has no idea if picking a lock with a hairpin is actually possible, let alone if she’ll be able to accomplish it. 

“Oh, what the hell?” Eve mutters under her breath, forcibly straightening out the pin between her fingers, then slotting one end into the keyhole.

There’s probably a technique to this - a technique that requires much more care and dexterity than just jamming the pin into the keyhole, wiggling it about, and hoping for the best. Eve registers a vague kind of irony at the back of her mind, remembering when she first joined MI6 all those years ago and thought that her days would be full of excitement and danger and cool gadgets, rather than endless paperwork. It’s only now, minus both the job and the cool gadgets, that Eve is behaving even remotely like the secret agent she imagined she would become.

The lock doesn’t budge at all. Eve doesn’t want to use too much force out of fear that the pin will snap and end up lodged in the keyhole, but the more frustrated she gets, the less careful her movements become.

“Oh, piss off!” Eve says to the lock, withdrawing the pin and throwing it aside out of rage.

She becomes aware of footsteps behind her and her head snaps up suddenly, half expecting to see Carolyn flanked by a squad of armed police officers, ready to arrest her, but Eve is instead met by a teenager, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his tracksuit pants and a hood pulled up over his head. He regards Eve with suspicious eyes, and she wonders how much he has seen.

Eve scrambles for an excuse before he can call the police, though a community service order for attempted burglary sounds more appealing than prison time for assisting a murder.

“My girlfriend lives here,” she tells the teenager. “I wanted to surprise her but I forgot my key!”

The boy lifts his hands out of his pockets and holds them up in surrender as he says, “I ain’t seen nothing!”

As he starts to walk away, Eve calls out, “Wait! Do you know how to do this kind of thing?”

He turns back to look at her with a look of disbelief on his face.

“You asking me because I’m black?” he asks, taking a couple of steps backwards.

“No, God no!” protests Eve, realising her mistake only too late. “It wasn’t a race thing, it was an age thing. I wasn’t accusing you of being a…”

“Goodbye, Asian Lady,” says the teenager. “Good luck surprising your missus.”

He saunters away, and Eve turns back to the door standing between herself and Villanelle’s luxurious flat, her cheeks burning red with embarrassment. She tries the handle one more time, as if it has somehow magically unlocked itself during her conversation with the hooded teen, then kicks the door in frustration when it still doesn’t budge.

Look , Eve wants to say to Carolyn, look at how completely incapable of criminal activity I am! How Carolyn can think that Eve could be an accomplice to murder when she can’t even successfully break through a door is beyond Eve.

Eve has to give up before she tries something more drastic. Coming here was a stupid idea in the first place. Eve doesn’t know what else she should have expected.

If Villanelle doesn’t want to be found then so be it.

Chapter Text

When Eve’s phone rings with a call from an unknown number, she almost has a mini heart attack.

It’s not the unknown number though, not the one that used to text her with naughty pictures and call her for an unexpected but not entirely unwelcome bout of almost phone sex, before going dark on Eve two days ago. That number has finally been given its own contact details, saved under nothing but the letter V, just so that Eve can be absolutely sure of who is calling her and can prepare herself emotionally for answering.

This unknown number is withheld, probably somebody trying to sell her a new kitchen or informing her that she’s had an accident at work and is entitled to compensation.

Yes , Eve thinks to herself, I have had an accident a work , though she highly doubts that an insurance company would pay out for the sheer dumbassery on Eve’s part that led to another man’s death.

It’s probably just a spam caller, Eve tells herself as she reaches to pick up the phone, all the while deliberately ignoring the fact that she wouldn’t answer the phone to a spam caller.

“Hello?”

It’s as if Villanelle is in the room with Eve. Her voice is so familiar and so close that Eve can imagine her standing there in front of her, hands buried deep in her pockets and a smirk flashing across her face. 

But she isn’t here, which is why Eve says nothing, like she’s trying to pretend that she never answered the phone at all.

“I can hear you breathing, Eve,” says Villanelle, in a sing-song voice.

“Fuck you.”

Eve hears Villanelle’s dramatic gasp through the speaker of the phone and hates how she can picture it in her head, Villanelle’s mouth gaping comically wide and one hand clutched to her chest as she pretends to be offended by Eve’s profanity.

“Okay, first of all, that is rude ,” says Villanelle. “It’s me - Villanelle. I thought you would be happier to hear my voice.”

“Why would I be happy?” asks Eve, her words just a croak as her throat goes dry at the sound of Villanelle’s voice, so close yet so far away. She grips her phone tighter, as if that will somehow bring Villanelle closer to her. “You disappeared.”

“You’re mad about that?” scoffs Villanelle, and then she launches into an explanation before Eve has the chance to even open her mouth. “It’s not my fault at all! Konstantin wanted to take me on holiday. I was really looking forward to taking you out for dinner, but he planned this big surprise and practically kidnapped me. I couldn’t really say no to him - I think I’m his only friend, can you believe that? And I wanted to tell you what was happening but I dropped my phone in a puddle and it stopped working.” Villanelle adopts a British accent, then concludes her little speech by saying, “The bloody rain, eh?”

It’s too convenient. It explains everything. Everything , like Villanelle has spent the last two days working through the plot holes of her own life and rehearsing that little monologue to make sure that Eve can’t find a single thing to question.

And yes, Eve might not have believed a story with holes in it. But she definitely doesn’t believe one without any at all.

“Bullshit.”

There’s a brief silence before Villanelle asks, “Are you in a bad mood? I’m sensing that you might be in a bad mood.”

“Oh, really ?” says Eve, clenching her jaw as she tries not to explode down the phone at Villanelle.

She doesn’t understand how Villanelle can be so blasé about the whole thing, not when the truth is this obvious. Eve is many things but stupid is not one of them. And what’s more, is that Eve doesn’t think that Villanelle would be as interested in her if she thought Eve was stupid. Eve can’t understand what game Villanelle is playing by trying to trick Eve into thinking that this is all just an unfortunate accident.

“I can’t stop thinking about the night we spent together,” says Villanelle, letting out a content hum. “The things you do to me, Eve.”

She’s good, Eve has to at least give her that, because there is a split second in which Eve’s mind also wanders back to that night, and it is nearly enough for her to forget her anger.

Nearly enough.

“Where are you?” asks Eve.

“I told you, I’m on holiday.”

“So you’re not in England?”

Eve is mentally trying to remember where her passport is, as she realises that the one benefit of being suspended from her job is that she has the freedom to go chasing Villanelle around the globe to confront her in person if necessary. 

“I can’t hear you,” says Villanelle. “I think the line is breaking up.”

And then there is nothing but the tone of a dead line and the vague smell of bullshit in the air.

Eve lowers her phone from her ear, stunned into disbelief by the short exchange. Villanelle may think that she’s successfully deceived Eve, but after that conversation, Eve is now more sure than ever that she never really knew the real Villanelle at all.

And that realisation hurts. Eve feels as though she’s been shot in the back and left to bleed out, betrayed by somebody in front of whom she allowed herself to become uncharacteristically vulnerable.

She needs to find Villanelle.

Eve taps the screen of her phone a few times to make a call, then lifts it to her ear and listens as it rings.

“Alright, Eve?”

Kenny’s cheerful greeting is a welcome sound to Eve, who is missing her colleagues much more than thought she thought she would.

“Hi Kenny, are you in the office?”

“Yep,” says Kenny, popping the ‘p’ percussively. “Is everything okay?”

“You can trace withheld numbers, can’t you?”

“Of course,” answers Kenny. “I just need the number that was called.”

“Uh, okay,” says Eve, her teeth digging into her lower lip. “Well, it’s my number. I just missed a call and I think it’s probably spam but I’m expecting an important call and I just want to check I haven’t missed it.” Eve pauses and then, so that Kenny doesn’t probe her for further information, adds, “It’s a medical thing.”

Eve realises that she’s rambling and thinks of the conversation with Villanelle, wondering if Kenny can see through her lies as easily as she could see through Villanelle’s.

“I’m pulling up your phone records right now,” says Kenny, and if he has any suspicions about Eve’s motivation for tracing this call, he says nothing.

“Thanks, Kenny. You’re a star.”

There’s a pause, then Kenny asks, “Is it the most recent incoming call you want to trace?”

Eve can just picture Kenny in her head, sitting in his office chair with his headset on as his fingers move rapidly over the keyboard, and she finds herself wishing that she was back in that office, missing the familiarity of work and the social interactions with the rest of her team.

“Yes, that’s right,” Eve tells him.

“Okay, give me a moment,” says Kenny. “This should only take a few sec- oh, here we go. You were called from a payphone in Amsterdam.”

“Amsterdam?” says Eve, her forehead furrowing into a thoughtful frown as she tries to come up with a reason why Villanelle might be in Amsterdam. “Can you find out the exact location of the phone?”

Kenny pauses, then replies, “I’ll email you the coordinates now.”

The metallic ping of an email notification sounds through the speaker of Eve’s phone and she quickly checks that it’s from Kenny.

“Thank you so much, Kenny!” says Eve, showing her appreciation through enthusiasm. “And... uh, keep this between us?”

Eve can hear the uncertainty in Kenny’s voice as he asks, “I’m not helping you with something illegal, am I?”

“No, no!” Eve reassures him. “Of course not!”

“Good,” says Kenny. “Because I quite like having a job.”

“It was just a missed call. It’s probably spam.”

Kenny goes silent, and though it is only for a brief moment, with each second of nothing, Eve’s heart sinks further down towards her gut.

When Kenny finally speaks, there’s something different about his tone, more hesitancy and doubt than before.

“Eve,” he says. “Your phone record says that you answered and the call lasted for a minute and a half.”

“Really?” says Eve, feigning surprise. “Are you sure? I must have ... what’s the opposite of a butt dial?”

“Eve, I’m not going to tell anybody but… be careful , okay?”

Eve realises that she’s been caught out and immediately feels guilty for trying to deceive Kenny who, despite not having Hugo’s Oxford degree or Jess’s language skills or Elena’s quick wit, is almost certainly the smartest guy in their team. But she also feels a sense of relief that it is only Kenny who knows this secret, because he is also the most loyal person that Eve knows. If Kenny says that he’s not going to tell anybody then Eve knows she can trust him not to spill the beans.

“I’m always careful,” says Eve, trying to deflect his warning away.

“Yes, but like, extra careful, okay?” says Kenny. “You don’t need any more trouble right now. We need you back here. The office isn’t the same without you.”

Eve’s heart swells in her chest and she says, “You’re very sweet, Kenny.”

“Thanks. Um, is there anything else I can help you with?”

Their heartfelt moment over as quickly as Eve could snap her fingers, Eve says, “No, I think that’s it. Thanks again, Kenny.”

“Okay, bye!”

The line goes dead and Eve lowers her phone from her ear, opening up Kenny’s email containing the location of the phone that Villanelle used to call Eve. The string of numbers means nothing to Eve as they are, so she opens up her laptop and carefully types the coordinates into a search engine. A map of Amsterdam pops up immediately, with a red pin on top of a building near the main canal that runs through the city. 

Eve had been prepared for Villanelle to have left London, but the fact that she has left the country entirely is unexpected. And, quite frankly, very damning. 

“Amsterdam,” mutters Eve, as she goes into street view.

She finds herself looking at what seems to be a hotel, and a luxurious one too. It’s exactly the kind of place that somebody with Villanelle’s expensive tastes would want to stay. 

Except…

Surely not ?

Villanelle must know that a phonecall is always traceable. If she did kill Diego then she must know that Eve works for MI6 and has the resources available to trace even a withheld number. Which means that if Villanelle has called Eve from the hotel she is staying at, she is either incredibly arrogant or incredibly stupid. 

There is a third option, though - that Villanelle knows she’s traceable and wants Eve to find her. That option is both arrogant and stupid on Villanelle’s part. What if Eve hands over the coordinates to Carolyn and lets her be the one to find Villanelle? What if Eve goes to Amsterdam, but with an entourage of Carolyn’s stony-faced investigators and armed security officers? 

There are so many what ifs.

What if Eve goes to Amsterdam, confronts Villanelle for the truth, and does it without telling anybody else what she’s up to?

She could do it. There’s nothing stopping her. No job to keep her in England, no husband to provide a rational counterargument, no reason why she couldn’t spend the envelope of cash that Villanelle returned to her at the Christmas party on a one way ticket to Amsterdam.

No reason, except the fact that if this is what Villanelle wants her to do, then Eve should do the exact opposite. 

Amsterdam must be pretty at this time of year. Eve has only visited once - a weekend mini-break with Niko to celebrate an early wedding anniversary so unmemorable that Eve doesn’t even remember which one - but has always intended to go back and explore the city further. Maybe this is a sign, a chance to get away from the monotonous bustle of London life and spend Christmas on the continent instead. She doesn’t even have to make it about Villanelle. Can Carolyn really punish Eve if she just happens to be in the same city as Villanelle at the same time, if she just happens to be admiring the view of the canals outside the same hotel that Villanelle is staying at? Surely Eve can’t be punished for a coincidence such as that?

Kenny would know the truth, though. He would know exactly why Eve has gone to Amsterdam. Eve knows that she can trust him to a certain extent, but she also knows that even somebody as loyal as Kenny can’t be expected to put his job on the line to save Eve’s ass from yet more trouble. And Eve is fully aware that she is only one bad decision away from a prison sentence and orange has never been her colour.

There’s also Elena and her Christmas surprise to consider. Elena may have been able to move past Eve’s lies about Villanelle, but she doesn’t think Elena will be quite so forgiving about Eve bailing on Christmas plans to go on a gratuitous holiday.

With that in mind, Eve realises that if she’s going to hunt down Villanelle, there are two options - either make it a quick overnight trip so as to make sure she’s back in England for Christmas but risk not being in Amsterdam for long enough to actually find Villanelle, or wait until after Christmas and reassess the situation then.

It’s an impossible decision. Eve’s head is telling her to stay here in London, but her heart pleads for her to take the leap and go to Amsterdam. There isn’t a right decision to make - either choice will result in Eve letting a part of herself down. Neither decision is right and choosing either one would leave Eve feeling deeply unsettled in the pit of her gut.

She can’t go to Amsterdam. Well, she can but she shouldn’t. Kenny is absolutely right - Eve does need to be especially careful at the moment. She can’t afford another stupid mistake caused by making another impulsive choice. Eve has had her chance to indulge in the ‘what ifs’ of time spent with Villanelle and it backfired in spectacular fashion. 

It’s a dangerous game of cat and mouse, but Villanelle is proving herself incapable of leaving Eve alone, first the flowers and now the phonecall. If Eve sits tight, then maybe Villanelle will come to her.

Perhaps Eve should start sleeping with a knife close at hand, just in case.

Eve leans closer and stares at the grainy street view image of the Dutch hotel, as if proximity to the screen of her laptop will somehow bring Villanelle closer to her.

“What are you doing in Amsterdam?”


 

Villanelle normally loves Amsterdam. It’s a pretty city, mismatched brick buildings lining the winding network of canals, a place buzzing with the eclectic mix of youth and culture. On her previous visits, Villanelle has spent her days discovering new places to eat and practicing her limited Dutch in designer boutiques, while her nights have been spent taking advantage of Amsterdam’s lively nightlife by charming her way into VIP lounges and the bedroom of whichever pretty thing has caught her eye that night.

Yet Villanelle feels none of that excitement this time, not when she has been practically dragged here against her will, forced to leave London just when things were starting to get exciting with Eve. Villanelle would much rather be back there than here, sprawled across a bed in an Eve-less hotel room.

Konstantin can sense that she is agitated. He’s been watching her a little closer than normal and his fists keep finding their way to his hips as he adopts the stance that usually tells Villanelle she’s in trouble before he even opens his mouth. It took Villanelle’s best evasive tactics just to sneak away from him while he sorted out their neighbouring rooms with the receptionist, using the guise of needing to visit the bathroom just to spend two minutes on the payphone.

But he says nothing, just watches her like an old pervert until Villanelle threatens to gut him in his sleep if he keeps staring at her.

“We should go out,” he says, to counter Villanelle’s death threat. “See the sights, eat some food, drink a couple of beers like good friends do.”

She’s still mad at him for forcing her to leave London - buying her lunch isn’t going to change that.

“No,” Villanelle replies brusquely. 

She rolls over on the bed and reaches for the television remote, pointing it at the screen on the wall to turn it on in the hope of drowning out Konstantin’s nagging.

“Why are you behaving like a child?” he asks her impatiently.

“Because you are treating me like one,” retorts Villanelle, as she flicks through the channels - a mixture of Dutch and English ones. “I don’t understand why we had to leave London.”

“Because MI6 will be looking for you. They have probably worked out it was you by now.”

Villanelle rolls onto her side, propping her body up on one elbow as she looks up at Konstantin.

“But I was with Eve when he died,” she says, shooting him a sickly sweet smile.

“Yes, very clever,” says Konstantin, narrowing his eyes at her. “But I know the British and they are smarter than that.”

“Excuse me, but have you met them?” says Villanelle, letting out a snort and rolling her eyes. “British people are really stupid.”

To emphasise her point, Villanelle gestures at the television, currently playing an international news channel showing an oafish man with floppy blonde hair bumbling his way through a political press conference. Konstantin watches the screen for a few seconds, before he concedes with a small shrug.

“Anyway,” continues Villanelle, “Eve will tell them that it wasn’t me.”

Eve isn’t stupid. Eve is brilliant and clever and incredibly naive and she likes Villanelle far too much.

Konstantin lets out a little huff and then, in a voice that is even less pleased than before, he says, “I knew that Eve Polastri was a bad idea. I warned you not to get attached to her.”

“I’m not attached.”

“Are you sure?” asks Konstantin.

Villanelle decides that she will go out tonight and find herself a plaything, somebody she can bring back here and fuck against the shared wall between this hotel room and Konstantin’s room next door, just to prove to him exactly how unattached to Eve she is.

With that thought, and with Konstantin’s beady stare burning holes through the side of her skull, Villanelle switches off the television with a bored flick of the remote and rolls off the bed. She steps into a pair of combat boots, then inspects her reflection in the mirror hung above the dresser, fixing a loose strand of hair and then letting out a disgruntled little huff as she notices the first signs of a spot beginning to form in the corner of her forehead. 

“Where are you going?” asks Konstantin, as Villanelle moves into the adjoining en-suite bathroom to locate some concealer from her makeup bag to cover the offending spot.

Villanelle waits before answering, concentrating on daubing concealer over the spot, careful not to irritate it further. When she is finished it is almost unnoticeable, but Villanelle is grateful perhaps for the first time that she is far enough away from London that she won’t have to see Eve with such a glaring imperfection on her otherwise flawless face.

“I’m going shopping,” says Villanelle, finally answering Konstantin’s question as she leaves the en-suite.

“Excellent idea,” says Konstantin, winding his scarf around his neck and wrapping his coat around his body a little tighter. “Let me just use the bathroom and…”

“You’re not coming with me,” says Villanelle, cutting him off before he can finish his sentence.

“Why not?”

On his worst days, Konstantin is just like an unpleasant smell, always hovering nearby and very difficult to get rid of.

“Because then you will know what I’m getting you for Christmas,” replies Villanelle, irritation creeping into her voice.

“You’re getting me a present?”

Konstantin’s eyes widen in mixed surprise and excitement, conclusively proving that he is the child in this relationship, not Villanelle. Villanelle decides that she will stop at a souvenir shop and buy him an ‘ I love Amsterdam ’ t-shirt or some other equally tacky tourist crap, just to show him exactly how much she appreciates him bringing her here.

“Of course,” replies Villanelle. “Are you getting me a present?”

Konstantin hesitates for just a fraction of a second, then says, “Yes.”

Villanelle goes to grab her coat from the hook on the back of the hotel room door, stopping as she passes Konstantin so that she can ask, “An expensive one?”

“You’ll have to wait and see.”

Slipping her arms into her coat and buttoning it up, Villanelle opens the door and holds it open for Konstantin.

“You are such a tease,” she tells him as he steps into the corridor outside.

Following him out, Villanelle closes the door behind her and watches as Konstantin slots his key card into the door of his own room next door. It unlocks with a click and he nudges it open with his shoulder, turning around at the last minute to point a stern finger at Villanelle.

“Behave yourself,” Konstantin warns her, waving his extended finger at her. “You only go out for a few hours, then you come back here.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

Konstantin shoots her an incredulous look, as if she is the one imposing an unreasonable curfew on him , before he explains, “I want to take you out for dinner. To celebrate how amazing you are.”

“You’re a sentimental old fart,” Villanelle replies.

“You come back here at six o’clock!” Konstantin yells after her as she saunters down the corridor towards the elevator.

Chapter Text

There’s no such thing as a white Christmas in London. A grey Christmas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it’s definitely accurate. Grey buildings, grey skies, even Eve’s mood is grey as she spends Christmas Eve cooped up inside her little house, stuck watching awful Christmas movies that have far too much festive cheer and unable to leave the house because of the persistent rainstorm that darkens the sky even further as it hammers against the window panes.

Just after lunch, Eve googles the weather in Amsterdam. The BBC website informs her that it is cloudy there too, but with only a ten percent chance of rain. Perhaps Eve should have booked that flight after all…

No, Eve has definitely made the right decision to stay in London, despite the miserable weather. She is done with the Villanelle part of her life. Soon Villanelle will be nothing more than an exhilarating memory, something that she’ll one day sit and laugh about as she enjoys a leisurely retirement free of assassins and escorts and mysterious women who masquerade as both.

Eve tries to remember the simpler life she had before Villanelle crash-landed into her life. It’s only been a few short weeks, but Eve struggles to remember what it was like. She can remember people, events, but not the way that she felt before she met Villanelle. It’s like that part of her life has been locked away, muffled and distorted by the injection of excitement that Villanelle has given her.

And now it’s all been taken away. Eve wonders if her life will go back to what it was like before, if it’ll be the same bland existence she tolerated for so long, or if the memory of Villanelle will be enough to keep her feeling alive.

Realistically, Eve could do whatever she wants now. The power to make her life exciting again is in her own hands. She could withdraw all her savings and go backpacking around the world, she could go and join a hippie commune or a satanic cult, she could move to a new city and reinvent herself, find an actual girlfriend who makes her feel the way that Villanelle did but without the same threat of danger. There are millions of paths that Eve could take. The power to reinvent herself is in nobody’s hand but Eve’s own.

Except…

Except that Eve doesn’t want any of that. She just wants to go back in time two weeks and cherish every moment with Villanelle before it all went wrong.

The doorbell rings, and Eve wonders who is crazy enough to brave the torrential rain outside to visit her.

Please be Villanelle, Eve chants internally, as she gets up from the couch and goes to answer the door. Please be Villanelle. Please be Villanelle…

It’s not Villanelle. It’s the postman.

“Awful weather, isn’t it?” asks the postman, as he passes across a parcel addressed to Eve, then reaches into the satchel slung across his body and fishes out a handful of envelopes, no doubt the last few Christmas cards from people that Eve no longer cares about.

“Yes,” agrees Eve. “Just terrible.”

“No chance of a white Christmas this year,” he adds conversationally, as he passes his device across so that Eve can sign for the parcel.

It’s so dull. But this is what normal people do - they make mundane small talk and discuss the weather and they don’t go around killing people and pretending to be escorts.

“Nope,” agrees Eve, tucking the letters under her arm and balancing the parcel in one hand as she scrawls a messy signature on the screen. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you too,” says the postman, his cheery voice not reflecting either the weather or Eve’s mood as he pulls up the hood of his coat with the flick and strides off down the street to make the next delivery.

Back inside, Eve flicks through the stack of Christmas cards quickly, setting them aside on a countertop when she realises with disappointment that none of them have a Dutch postmark or foreign stamps. She turns her attention to the parcel instead, neatly wrapped in brown paper. Eve’s address is handwritten and the writing seems familiar, and it only takes Eve a couple of seconds to realise that she doesn’t need to go upstairs and get the card that came with the flowers for comparison, to know that this is Villanelle’s loopy writing.

Eve’s mood has done a complete one-eighty. She feels triumphant in the fact that she made the right decision, that she didn’t need to go to Amsterdam because Villanelle is physically incapable of leaving her alone. It’s not quite the same as Villanelle herself showing up on Eve’s doorstep, but it’s still nice to know that she is still on Villanelle’s mind. Eve feels as though she has the upper hand, and that all she needs to do is sit at home and wait for Villanelle to come back to her.

Surely Carolyn can’t punish her for that?

With hands that are trembling in anticipation, Eve tears at the brown paper covering the parcel. She peels it aside to reveal what’s underneath, finding a white and silver box emblazoned with the name of a Dutch designer in serif font.

Eve raises the lid of the box to find out what’s inside.

It’s a coat. An expensive coat. Eve lifts it out of the box with careful fingers, as if scared that she might damage it just by touching it. The fabric is soft, a plush felt with a silk lining, and as Eve lifts it up and holds it out for inspection, she sees that there is a neat row of large black buttons down the front. The fabric of the coat is slate grey, not too dissimilar in colour from the trusty raincoat she already owns, and it is with that realisation that Eve can’t help but let it an exasperated laugh at Villanelle’s choice of gift.

Julie would buy her girlfriend a nicer coat, Eve recalls Villanelle saying to her, at some point in the not-so-distant past. And that’s exactly what “Julie” has done. Eve can practically hear Villanelle’s voice in her mind, ridiculing her old coat and telling her how much better she will look in this new one.

It’s a gorgeous coat, far nicer than anything that Eve would ever dream of buying for herself. Eve sets the box aside to slip her arms into the sleeves and button it up, and finds that it fits her perfectly, like it was designed specifically with Eve’s body shape in mind.

“Goddammit,” Eve mutters under her breath, smoothing her hands down her body over the coat and closing her eyes to enjoy the feeling of the expensive fabric beneath her fingertips.

She wants to find fault with the coat, just one tiny reason why she should put it back in the box and hide it away at the back of her closet, but it’s perfect in every way. Warm, stylish, exactly Eve’s size, and though she wouldn’t ever buy this coat for herself, it suits her just right.

Eve hates that Villanelle knows her this well.

She should tell Carolyn about the coat.

She really should, but...

But it’s Christmas Eve and Carolyn is probably relaxing at home with a glass of eggnog and a tub of Quality Street while watching a rerun of the Vicar of Dibley Christmas special with Kenny, or something like that. Eve’s own Christmas has already been soured by the events with Villanelle, and there’s no point in letting this ruin Carolyn’s festivities too. Yes, she can wait until after Christmas before sharing this with MI6.

Eve slips her arms out from inside the sleeves of the coat and hangs it up carefully on the hook next to her front door, right beside the old raincoat that looks even more tatty than usual next to its designer counterpart. She traces her fingers over the soft fabric, touching the coat as if it will somehow bring her closer to Villanelle. Without thinking, Eve leans forward and presses her face against the coat, inhaling deeply as she hopes for her nostrils to be filled of that familiar perfumed scent.

It doesn’t smell of Villanelle.

Eve returns to the couch feeling oddly both more disappointed and more alive than before the coat arrived.


“Merry Christmas!”

The door to Elena’s flat swings wide open to reveal Kenny, whose curly hair just sticks out from beneath the fluffy brim of the Santa hat perched on his head. He greets Eve cheerfully with a hug, then closes the front door behind her and takes the bags in Eve’s hand so that she can take off her brand new coat.

“Merry Christmas, Kenny,” says Eve, hanging the coat up carefully on the hook beside the door.

Villanelle would have a meltdown if she could she the outfit that Eve wears beneath the coat - a garish red sweater with a giant cartoon reindeer emblazoned on the front. But Eve quickly banishes that thought from her mind. Today is about having a good time with her friends and putting the Villanelle fiasco behind her for good.

“Who is it?” Elena’s voice calls out from somewhere within the flat.

“It’s Eve!” replies Kenny.

“Hi, Eve!” shouts Elena. “Come in! I’d come and say hi but I’ve got my hand up a turkey’s arse right now.”

Eve follows Kenny through to the kitchen, where Elena is indeed midway through stuffing the turkey. The kitchen is a bit of a mess, an assortment of chopped vegetables covering one surface and a sizeable pile of dirty dishes and utensils stacked up on another. Elena is wearing a comedy apron with a naked man’s torso on it over her own Christmas jumper with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, and there is an almost empty glass of wine on the counter beside the turkey.

“Merry Christmas!” Eve greets Elena brightly, and despite the emotional turmoil of the last couple of weeks, Eve can’t help but be dragged in by the festive cheer. She reaches into the carrier bag in Kenny’s hand and draws out a bottle of wine, one of two that she’s brought with her today, and says “I come bearing gifts.”

Elena turns to see what Eve is holding up, and grins at the sight of the bottle.

“Oh, I love you Eve. Who needs Father Christmas when they have you?”

Eve hears the opening bars of Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ rise from a speaker in another room, followed by a triumphant shout that is unmistakably Hugo.

“What a tune!” exclaims Hugo, entering the kitchen and bopping his head in time with the music as he does. “Hi, Eve. I see you’ve followed the no escort rule. We’re off to a good start.”

“I’m a changed woman, Hugo.” Eve holds up the bottle of wine again, and then asks, “Does anybody mind if I crack open one of these?”

“Do I mind?” scoffs Elena. “Eve, I’m disappointed that you even have to ask. Kenny, show her where the wine glasses are.”

Kenny obeys, opening a cupboard and grabbing some wine glasses, then manages to produce a corkscrew to open the bottle from somewhere beneath the mountain of vegetables waiting to be cooked. He looks a bit bewildered by the corkscrew, and offers it out to Eve to open the bottle herself.

“I only ever drink the screw cap stuff,” he explains.

“So do I,” agreed Eve, though she manages to pull the cork from the neck of the bottle and pouring herself a glass. “But it’s Christmas so I splashed out. Anybody else?”

Kenny shakes his head and answers, “I’ve got a beer in the other room.”

“So have I,” says Hugo, even as he reaches for an empty glass and holds it out to Eve. “But if there’s one thing that my dearest highly-strung mumsie taught me, it’s that it’s not Christmas until you’re mixing drinks.”

Eve fills his glass, then crosses over to Elena, who drains the last mouthful of her own and offers the glass out to Eve for a refill.

The doorbell sounds, cutting through the Christmas music that drifts from the speaker in the other room.

Her eyes lighting up with excitement, Elena says, “That might be your surprise, Eve. Kenny, be a doll and go let our guest in, will you?”

“You invited somebody else?” asks Eve.

Her heart starts racing and Villanelle’s face swims to the front of her mind. Eve scolds herself for even daring to think - of course Elena isn’t going to invite Villanelle over for Christmas, and Eve is wrong for hoping.

Eve hears muffled voices down the hall as Kenny welcomes the newcomer, and as she waits in anticipation, she could swear that her heart beats in a triplet rhythm that sounds a lot like Villanelle, Villanelle, Villa-

It’s not Villanelle who steps through the door, but a woman carrying a toddler against her side, and Eve’s gut reaction is disappointment until she recognises the woman, and the toddler, and then the man who enters the kitchen behind them both with Kenny.

“Bill?”

“Hello, Eve,” grins Bill, unwinding his scarf from around his neck and crossing the kitchen to wrap his arms around Eve in a crushing hug. “Merry Christmas.”

“You asshole!” cries out Eve, though her voice is a little muffled by Bill’s shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell me that you were back in England?”

“Because then it wouldn’t be a very surprising surprise, would it?” says Elena, exasperation in her voice as she moves over to the kitchen sink to wash the excess stuffing from her fingers.

Eve releases Bill from a hug and greets his wife too, though she eys the toddler that Keiko holds warily in case she ends up covered in slobber or vomit or whatever other mess a one year old might suddenly create.

“She’s grown so much since I last saw her,” says Eve, tentatively holding the baby’s tiny hand between her delicate fingers, then hastily withdrawing them when she realises that they are sticky with an unknown substance she suspects might be snot. Turning to Bill, Eve asks, “How is retirement treating you? The last I heard, you were sunning it up in Turkey.”

“Retirement is fantastic,” says Bill. There’s a twinkle in his eye as he says, “I should have done it much sooner - I could have been rid of you awful lot years ago.” 

“Oi!” interjects Elena. “Don’t pretend you don’t miss us.”

“Of course I miss you all,” admits Bill.

“We miss you too,” replies Eve.

The office dynamic has definitely changed in the nearly eight months since Bill decided to take an early retirement so that he could go travelling with his wife and their infant daughter. In the twenty years Eve worked alongside him, Bill was always up for a good laugh, often at the expense of their previous boss Frank, but he was also a sensible mind and a voice of reason. With Hugo replacing him in their office, the average age has gone down and the number of units of alcohol consumed in the pub after work has significantly increased. Eve knows for a fact that she would not have done something as impulsive as hiring an escort if Bill has still been around. At the very least, she would have let Bill in on the secret and the events of the Christmas party probably wouldn’t have happened at all.

Eve doesn’t know how she feels about that. Would she still be living the same mundane existence, her life unmarred by escorts and dead bodies, if Bill hadn’t retired when he did?

“Have you got somewhere I can change her nappy?” Keiko asks Elena, her voice snapping Eve out of her own thoughts.

“Of course,” says Elena. “Kenny?”

Kenny obligingly leads Keiko from the room, while Elena opens the oven door and puts the roasting tin holding the turkey inside. 

“Anyway. Eve, what’s this I hear about you and a young escort who goes by the name of Villanelle.”

Eve’s heart drops until it is in her stomach, then she turns to Elena, who is now washing her hands at the kitchen sink.

“You told him?” complains Eve.

“She wouldn’t have had to if you’d told me yourself,” argues Bill.

“I didn’t think you needed to know,” shrugs Eve, her cheeks burning red with embarrassment. “She was only ever supposed to be a temporary thing.”

“And then she seduced you with her feminine charms?”

Eve knows it is the truth but she doesn’t like the way it sounds, like Villanelle is a malicious predator and Eve is naive young woman who has been taken advantage of.

“Jeez, I’m not a virgin, Bill. She didn’t steal my innocence. I was an idiot, but I willingly took part in it all.”

“I bet you did,” says Bill, smiling knowingly. “You know, Eve, I’m really not surprised at all.”

“Surprised that she likes women or surprised that she likes them young?” Hugo interjects unhelpfully.

“Both,” grins Bill. He takes a sip from his wine glass, then adds in a low voice, “I’ve always known that you were secretly a dog, Eve.”

Hugo’s howl of laughter gives Eve a fresh wave of embarrassment, and she tries to hide it behind her wine glass by taking a long sip.

Bill drapes a heavy arm around Eve’s shoulder and pulls her against his side. 

“I’m only teasing, Eve.” he says. “You know I love you really.”


Lunch, despite the gravy nearly turning lumpy when Elena leaves Hugo in charge of stirring it while she carves the turkey, is a resounding success. By the time the Queen is broadcasting her annual speech on the television, Eve’s stomach is full of good food and wine and her cheeks ache from smiling and laughing. The stack of dirty dishes piled up next to the kitchen sink to be washed up later is surpassed in volume only by the leftovers crammed into every available space in Elena’s fridge.

Their bellies full of food and pleasantly inebriated by the wine, they decide to make the most of the fact that the weather has cleared up outside by going for a walk. Elena suggests going to the small park just around the corner, and then they are all bundling themselves up in coats and scarves. Eve slips her arms into her brand new coat and feels self-conscious about how expensive she knows it must be. To her relief, none of the others are paying her enough attention to comment that she isn’t wearing her usual drab coat.

Outside, Bill straps the sleeping baby into a stroller and falls into step beside Eve as he pushes it along, the others forming a small group not too far ahead of them as they walk in the direction of the park.

“You’re different, you know?”

Eve nearly trips over an uneven paving slab and recovers quickly, before she says, “Am I?”

“Yes,” says Bill. “You seem more… I don’t know, just more.”

“I feel exactly the same,” lies Eve, knowing that back when Bill was still working at MI6, she never felt as alive as she did in the last few weeks with Villanelle. “Although I think I give less shits. I let that lot get away with far too much. I’m not the team leader you were.”

“I’m not talking about work, Eve,” says Bill. “You seem lighter than before. More free.” He pauses, and Eve half-expects his next words before he even asks, “Is it her influence?”

“Whose influence?” asks Eve, feigning ignorance.

Hers. The escort.”

“Come on, Bill, you talk about her like it was an epic romance. I have needs, okay? I’m divorced, but not celibate.”

Bill says nothing. His silence feels very judgemental and Eve wishes she had the power to be able to read what is going on in his mind.

“She was an escort, Bill!” protests Eve, when she can bear Bill’s lack of response no longer. “It wasn’t a thing.”

“Would it matter if it was a thing?”

Eve sighs, then asks, “You know the full story, right? That Villanelle is the primary suspect in the murder of an MI6 employee?”

She glances up at Bill, watching his face for a reaction. When there is none, she concludes that Elena has indeed told him everything.

“When she was an escort, it was just a bit of fun,” explains Eve. “And yes, there was a brief moment where I entertained the idea of something more, but that disappeared the moment I found out she might have killed somebody.”

“Eve, I’m not bothered how you actually feel about her,” interjects Bill, finally speaking up again. “But you’re my friend and I care about you. It doesn’t do any good to try to squash these feelings. Trust me, I’ve been there too.”

“I bet you weren’t indirectly responsible for a colleague’s death,” mumbles Eve.

“No,” admits Bill. “But I was in that office for long enough to know that there is always a hidden agenda in the Intelligence Service. There’s always going to be somebody behind the scenes pulling strings that affect the lives of hundreds of people who don’t even realise it. It doesn’t hurt to be selfish every now and then.”

Eve realises that there is a degree of truth to Bill’s words. The inner workings of MI6 are like a complex piece of machinery that nobody has the instruction manual for. Eve and her team and only privy to tiny amounts of information that pass through the organisation, and she knows that there are always motions behind the scenes, important people bending rules and making decisions for the greater good, that people like Eve are supposed to go along with even without always fully understanding why. Eve could lose her job properly next week for something entirely unrelated to Diego’s murder, and she would have very little power to protest such a decision. Why not grab life by the balls like Bill is suggesting before it is too late?

“She’s in Amsterdam,” Eve blurts out, and the admission feels like a weight lifting off her as she finally shares the piece of information that has been plaguing her mind since the conversation with Kenny a couple of days ago.

“Amsterdam?”

Eve hesitates, then makes a second confession.

“I haven’t told Carolyn.”

Bill turns his head to look at her, his eyes widening in surprise but a little smirk of pride crossing his lips.

“Eve, you naughty girl,” he whispers, his voice laced with excitement.

“There’s no point,” says Eve, attempting to justify her decision. “It’s a big city and she’ll move on the second she finds out that the investigators are onto her.”

“And if she finds out that you’re onto her?” asks Bill.

“I don’t know.” Eve shrugs, then jokes off-handedly, “It’ll probably turn her on.”

Bill lets out a howl of laughter so abrupt that it startles Eve and even catches the attention of the rest of the group up ahead of them. Bill winces and lifts a hand in apology, before he leans over the handle of the stroller to check that his daughter is still asleep.

“I’m joking,” says Eve, quick to clear things up.

Bill glances across with a twinkle in his eye and says, “You know what, Eve, I really don’t think you are.”

“Stop it,” groans Eve, rolling her eyes dramatically.

“Anyway,” says Bill, “tell me about the sex. Was it good?”

Eve considers lying or playing dumb or even just outright ignoring his question, but this is the first time since the truth came out that she hasn’t felt completely ashamed of her actions.

“Oh, Bill, you have no idea!”


The baby wakes up just as they arrive at the park, and Bill gets swept up in dad duties, helping his daughter down the slide and pushing her on the swing. He even manages to rope in Hugo to help spin her around on the giant roundabout.

When daylight dwindles, they amble back to Elena’s house and jump straight into what Elena affectionately names ‘Tipsy Pictionary’. Eve insists on being on Bill’s team for old times’ sake, then immediately regrets it when she realises how little artistic skill the pair of them have.

She’s almost relieved when, thirty minutes and two glasses of wine into the game, her phone rings.

No Caller ID.

There’s only one person who could possibly be calling Eve from a withheld number on Christmas Day.

“Sorry, can we pause for a minute?” Eve asks the group, standing up and shielding the screen of her phone against her body so that they can’t see who is calling. “I should probably get this.”

The others mumble amongst themselves, with Hugo getting to his feet to rummage in his pockets for a cigarette and Elena saying something about drink refills, which Eve takes to be an affirmative. Hurrying down the hallway, Eve shuts herself in Elena’s tiny bathroom, closing the toilet lid so that she can sit down on it, before eventually answering the still ringing phone.

“Merry Christmas, Eve,” says Villanelle’s sing-song voice, almost as soon as Eve accepts the call.

Eve lets out a sigh, just lethargic enough from the food and wine to not really give a shit about the fact that she’s supposed to be angry at Villanelle, and then replies, “Merry Christmas.”

“Are you having fun today?”

“So much fun,” says Eve. It’s not even a lie, despite her initial reservations and worries that Elena had only invited her today out of pity, Eve has actually had an enjoyable day with the people who matter most to her.

Well, nearly all of them…

“How’s Amsterdam?” asks Eve, abruptly changing the subject, mostly just so that she can show off to Villanelle that she managed to track her down.

“Very clever,” says Villanelle, a hint of pride in her voice. “I thought you might come and visit me.”

Eve smiles to herself, smug in the fact that she didn’t give in to her own whims and do what Villanelle wanted her to do. Eve decides that her incredible display of self-restraint her put her firmly ahead of Villanelle in this unspoken game of constantly one-upping each other.

“I can’t just drop my Christmas plans to chase you across Europe,” replies Eve. “Not everything in my life revolves around you.”

“I think it does, though,” says Villanelle. “What else is there in your life apart from me. You don’t have a job anymore.”

Eve feels all the hairs on the back of her neck prickle to attention at Villanelle’s words, realising that although she has managed to trace Villanelle’s location, Villanelle must also be keeping tabs on the goings on of Eve’s life here in London. 

“How do you know that?”

“I make it my business to know everything about you, Eve.”

It’s creepy, but in a strange way it’s also kind of touching to know that Villanelle is still fascinated enough by Eve to want to stay updated on Eve’s life.

“You don’t sound as angry as last time,” continues Villanelle.

“You caught me at a good time,” answers Eve. With her thoughts a little blurred around the edges and her inhibitions lowered, she explains, “I’ve been drunk since lunchtime.”

“Drinking excessively is bad for your health.”

“So is falling for the wrong people,” blurts out Eve, without really thinking.

There’s a pause, then Villanelle asks, “You’re falling for me?”

“Don’t put words in my mouth,” counters Eve. “I could have been talking about Hugo.”

“The ratty one?” says Villanelle, letting out an ungainly snort. “Okay, Eve. I believe you.”

Eve smiles to herself and shakes her head at Villanelle’s description of Hugo, which is not entirely inaccurate. Eve makes a mental note to tell Hugo that this is what Villanelle thinks of him, before she remembers that she’s not supposed to still be in contact with Villanelle at all. Relaying this information to Hugo would just open up all sorts of new problems, and Eve knows that she would have to reluctantly share Villanelle’s location and probably also try and justify to Carolyn why she has so far kept this information to herself. 

“Are you still in Amsterdam?” asks Eve.

“No.”

“Where are you?”

Villanelle laughs, and then says, “I can’t tell you that.”

“You know I can just find out again?” says Eve, hoping that the threat will encourage Villanelle to give up her current location because Eve doesn’t think that she’ll actually be able to use Kenny to trace this call again without him calling her out on it properly this time.

But Villanelle does not rise to her bait.

“Okay,” she says, challenging Eve.

“Are you going to tell me?” asks Eve.

“Are you going to come this time?” 

“No,” answers Eve, through every atom in her body thrums with the urge to just get on a plane and chase Villanelle down. “I just like knowing where you are.” Realising that this sounds a little too cutesy, Eve tags on the end, “So that I don’t have to worry about maybe getting stabbed in my sleep.”

“I’m not going to hurt you, Eve,” purrs Villanelle, her voice as smooth as liquid gold.

“Promise?”

“I promise,” replies Villanelle.

Eve doesn’t believe her. Villanelle has already hurt her, and continues to hurt her by leading her on with flowers and phone calls and expensive gifts.

“I like the coat,” blurts out Eve.

There’s an air of smugness to Villanelle’s voice as she replies, “You’re welcome.”

“It fits me perfectly.”

“I know.”

God, she’s arrogant. 

Eve’s heart aches from the distance between them. There’s so much that she wants to say to Villanelle, so much that she wants to do to Villanelle, but Eve needs to be able to see her in person for that to happen.

From elsewhere in the house, Eve hears a raucous shout, and remembers where she is and who she’s supposed to be spending time with right now. More importantly, Eve remembers who she isn’t supposed to still be in contact with.

“I should probably go,” says Eve reluctantly. “We’re playing Pictionary.”

“Pictionary?” asks Villanelle. “The game where you draw things?”

“Yeah, I’m not very good at it. My team is losing.”

Villanelle says, “I would let you win.”

“No, you wouldn’t.”

Villanelle lets out an abrupt bark of laughter at Eve’s rebuttal. Eve can’t help but think back to the card game they played in the pub when Eve introduced ‘Julie’ to her friends. It was certainly not the only time that Villanelle’s competitive side came to the surface, but definitely the most memorable.

It only makes Eve miss the way things used to be even more.

“I’m going to hang up now,” she tells Villanelle.

“Okay.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“You already said that earlier,” points out Villanelle.

Eve leans her back against the bathroom door and lets out a sigh, before she says, “I know, but I’m saying it again.”

“Okay. Merry Christmas again, Eve.”

“I…”

I miss you. Eve wants to say the words. They hover on the tip of her tongue, almost pushed over the precipice by alcohol-induced bravery, but rationality eventually gets the better of Eve.

“Bye!” says Eve, hanging up the phone abruptly before she can say something stupid, like “Come back to London” or “Please touch yourself so I can listen and get myself off to the sounds you make.”

Now that would be quite the Christmas present.

Villanelle is wearing Eve down. There’s only so much more of this that she can take before she loses her mind altogether.

If she hasn’t already lost it.

Chapter Text

Over the next few days, Eve is a nervous wreck every time her phone goes off. She lunges for it each time it pings with a new text message, she checks it every couple of minutes when it doesn’t just in case, she even sleeps with it clutched to her chest so that she can answer it as quickly as possible if it happens to ring in the middle of the night.

Villanelle doesn’t call.

Eve briefly wonders if she has somehow done something wrong. But she is not the one who lied about everything and then fled the country. If anything, Eve is in the right and it is Villanelle who has a lot of making up to do.

Eve can not believe she is even entertaining the idea of Villanelle being able to make it up to her, because that still suggests that there is some kind of viable future between them, in which Eve forgives Villanelle for all of her wrongdoings and they live happily ever after. Eve knows that those fantasies aren’t possible, not when Villanelle is the prime suspect in the fiasco that may cost Eve her job.

There’s a part of Eve though, the hopelessly romantic part of her, that is waiting for Villanelle to make a grand gesture in apology. Eve spends her days daydreaming of a reunion, of Villanelle turning up on her doorstep in the pouring rain, wet hair clinging to her face and a huge bouquet of flowers in her hand as a gift. The fantasy often goes further, to Eve inviting Villanelle into the warmth of her house, to stripping Villanelle of her sopping wet clothes and accepting her apology in the most intimate of ways…

Eve touches herself more than she would like to admit, but it doesn’t feel as good now that she knows what it feels like to have Villanelle’s actual hands on her body, rather than just the fantasy version.

Her Christmas spirit disappears pretty quickly. Bill sticks around for a couple of days after Christmas, before he bids them farewell so that he can go to visit his sister’s family in Sheffield with promises to see them again soon. With Bill gone, Eve retreats back into her solitude, spending days cooped up in her own house and only venturing out to visit the grocery store.

It really is a pitiful life without Villanelle.


When New Year’s Eve rolls around, Eve is still so down that she nearly decides to spend it alone at home, sipping at cheap prosecco on her own couch as she watches the televised countdown.

With Kenny and Elena out of town with Elena’s family and Hugo celebrating with old friends from university, Eve’s other option is the annual party hosted by old friends from Niko’s bridge club. Even since the divorce, despite being more Niko’s friends than Eve’s, Andy and Nitesh have dutifully invited Eve to the celebrations.

Eve considers not going.

But…

Is she supposed to just sit around and wait, on the off-chance that Villanelle might show up on her doorstep, dripping with rain or otherwise? Is that not exactly what Villanelle wants her to do? Would it not be a far better use of her time to keep on living her life to the fullest, to prove everybody, but especially Villanelle, wrong?

Going to a New Year’s party where her ex-husband and his new wife will also be in attendance may not be the dictionary definition of living life to the fullest, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Which is why Eve puts on her nicest dress, a really sexy number that she knows would make Villanelle drool if she saw Eve wearing it, then the expensive new coat, and steps out into the cool night air.


When she arrives at the house, the telltale signs of the party inside are already there - parked cars lining the side of the street, music drifting through an open window, and white and gold balloons taped to the front door. As her taxi drops her off, Eve takes a deep breath to fill herself with courage, then steps up to the house and rings the bell. She has to wait a few nervous seconds, but when the door swings open, Eve is immediately greeted with a kiss on each cheek from one of the hosts, Nitesh.

“Hi, Eve! You look gorgeous! Please come in!”

Eve obliges, stepping across the threshold and closing the front door behind her. Inside the house, Eve can hear the upbeat music coming from the room to the left, as well as excited voices of other partygoers.

“Let me take your coat,” says Nitesh, helping Eve to slip her arms out of the sleeves. He folds the expensive garment carefully over one arm, admiring the fabric, before he asks, “Is this new? I love it.”

Through the doorway at the end of the hall, Eve spots Gemma, tipping her head back to laugh at something said by one of the other guests, and she knows that Niko must be here too. Without really thinking, Eve blurts out, “It was a Christmas present. From my, uh, from my girlfriend.”

She waits for the surprise to cross Nitesh’s face, but it doesn’t. Instead he grins, like he’s feeding off gossip.

“Niko mentioned you might be bringing a plus one.”

Eve’s cheeks flush slightly pink with the knowledge that Niko has been talking about her with their shared friends, and she realises once again how deep this lie about Villanelle is entangled into her life. Until she can stage a fake break-up, she’ll just have to continue playing along, even without Villanelle as a prop at her side.

“She couldn’t make it tonight,” lies Eve. “She got called away last minute on a work trip.”

“She’s the one you brought to Niko’s wedding? Quite a catch, from what I saw.”

“She keeps me on my toes,” says Eve, truthfully. “I never quite know what she’s going to do next.”

“Ah,” sighs Nitesh, a dreamy smile on his face. “The honeymoon period. I remember when Andy and I just started dating. We just wanted to rip each other’s clothes off all the time.”

Eve recalls the night she spent with Villanelle, and how she has thought of very little else since, and her face heats up.

“That sounds about right,” she chokes out, past a throat that is as dry as sandpaper. 

“Why don’t you go on through and get yourself a drink?” says Nitesh. “I’ll put your coat upstairs. We’re using the spare bedroom as a cloakroom.”

As Nitesh takes Eve’s coat upstairs, Eve decides that it’s only polite to say hello to Niko and Gemma. She enters the kitchen cautiously, grateful that a couple of old friends spot her and welcome her into the group. Eve greets Gemma with the customary kiss on the cheek, then awkwardly nods at Niko, because she isn’t quite sure what the etiquette is for greeting an ex-husband in polite company.

“No Julie?” asks Niko, passing a glass of prosecco across to Eve from a tray on the side.

“She’s working,” lies Eve, taking a sip of the bubbly drink. She hates the fact that her immediate thought is that Villanelle would turn her nose up at the fact that it’s not champagne. “She got called away on a last minute trip to Amsterdam.”

“That’s a shame,” says Niko, and Eve can’t tell if he’s being genuine or not, because she can’t imagine a scenario in which Niko would want to spend time with his ex-wife’s new lover. The whole point of hiring Villanelle’s services in the first place was to make Niko uncomfortable.

“It is,” agrees Eve.

“I guess the Porsche doesn’t pay for itself.”

There’s a hint of jealousy in his voice and Eve wonders if she is a bad person for feeling a sense of satisfaction. It’s the first positive emotion she has felt since Christmas, and the fact that it is at Niko’s expense bothers her very little.

“No, it doesn’t,” agrees Eve.

To her relief, she spots Nitesh’s husband across the kitchen while scanning the room for a reason to leave this conversation, and decides to make her excuse.

“Sorry, I’m going to say hi to Andy,” she tells Niko and Gemma. “It would be rude not to thank him for hosting. I’ll catch you both later.”


Working the room is exhausting. Because of the nature of Eve’s connection to the hosts, an awful lot of the people here are also friends of Niko, which means they were in attendance at his wedding last month. Eve answers the same two or three questions over and over again until she feels as though she could repeat the answers in her sleep.

(Yes, she’s dating a woman. No, she’s not here tonight. Yes, Eve is very happy in her new relationship.)

It gets rather tiresome.

Oddly, the only person who doesn’t seem to have endless questions about Eve’s budding relationship is Gemma. It’s a pretty strange reason to start bonding with her ex-husband’s new wife, but when Eve steps out into the back garden for some fresh air, she is almost relieved two minutes later when the glass doors slide open and it is only Gemma who steps out.

“Oh, hi Eve!” says Gemma, her words slightly muffled by the unlit cigarette caught between her lips. She reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out the rest of the box of cigarettes, offering it out to Eve as she asks, “Do you want one?”

“Oh, I don’t…”

“Neither do I, if Niko is asking,” says Gemma.

With the box of cigarettes still in Gemma’s outstretched hand, Eve accepts one appreciatively and watches as Gemma lights her own cigarette, then passes the lighter across to Eve. It takes a couple of flicks for the end of the cigarette to catch, but when it does, Eve draws in a long breath of smoke, then exhales into the darkness of the garden.

“Yeah,” agrees Eve. “Niko never used to like it when…” Eve trails off as she remembers who she is talking to, then apologises, “Sorry, that was inappropriate of me.”

“It’s fine,” says Gemma, dismissing Eve’s apology with a wave of her hand. “I’m glad that we can be friends. I think it would be different if you were still madly in love with him, but you’ve moved on with somebody else.”

And now, the conversation is veering dangerously towards the one person that Eve came out here to avoid having to talk about. Eve knows that Villanelle is by far the most interesting thing about her, even under the guise of Julie, but she wishes, just for once, that somebody would stop and ask about Eve, rather than that woman that she is supposedly dating.

“Speaking of which,” continues Gemma, and Eve prepares herself for the inevitable barrage of questions. “I thought you said Julie wasn’t coming tonight.”

Eve’s head snaps up and she frowns at Gemma, confused by the phrasing of her words.

“She isn’t.”

Gemma’s frown mirrors Eve’s, the cigarette caught between her fingers hovering halfway to her lips. 

“But I’ve just seen her inside.”

Eve’s hearts stalls temporarily in her chest. Gemma must be mistaken, though how anybody could get Villanelle confused with somebody else is beyond Eve. Villanelle is magnificently unique, in as many good ways as bad, an incomparable one-of-a-kind.

“No,” says Eve, shaking her head. “That must be a mistake. She’s not coming.”

“I’m sure it was her,” insists Gemma. “I don’t know anybody else that stylish.”

Vaguely, Eve registers that the glass door from the house has slid open again behind her, but Eve is too dumbfounded by the suggestion that Villanelle could possibly have shown up at a party Eve hasn’t invited her when she is supposed to be in another country entirely, to turn around and look at who has opened it.

“But I didn’t…” stammers Eve. “But she didn’t tell me that she was coming.”

The sole braincell responsible for Eve’s rational thought wakes up from deep slumber and reminds Eve that historically, there is quite a lot that Villanelle has neglected to tell her.

“That’s because I wanted to surprise you,” says a voice behind Eve.

Eve’s first thought, as she turns around to face the owner of the voice, is that she must be hallucinating. Because Villanelle is supposed to be in Amsterdam, or somewhere else far away, not in a West London back garden belonging to two men who, to the best of Eve’s knowledge, have not met Villanelle before other than possibly glimpsing her across the room at Niko’s wedding.

But Villanelle is right there, in all her three-dimensional glory, definitely not a figment if Eve’s imagination. She is so familiar, yet so different, like an old friend that Eve hasn’t seen in years, though in reality it can only have been a couple of weeks. The last time that Eve saw her, Villanelle was very naked and wet from the shower, attempting to entice Eve into joining her. Eve still remembers the last words that Villanelle said to her before she parted, echoing around her skull since that day as a reminder of what Eve has been missing out on.

“I’m going to be thinking about you the whole time we are apart.”

Eve remembers thinking that it was a strange choice of phrase at the time, and had just put it down to the fact that English isn’t Villanelle’s first language. But the more Eve thinks about it, the more times she repeats those words over and over in her mind, the more sinister they have become. Eve has since realised that Villanelle knew they wouldn’t see each other for a while, that she knew Eve was leaving the apartment that day to go and learn of the death of a fellow MI6 employee, that the promises she made about dinner and spending more time together were pure lies built upon Eve’s own fantasies. When Villanelle said those words, Eve imagined that their time apart would be no longer than a few hours, rather than a couple of weeks.

Still in shock at the sight in front of her, the half-burned cigarette falls from between Eve’s fingers and hits the paving.

Villanelle is actually here.

Eve wants to slap her and kiss her and ... and Gemma is standing right there preventing Eve from being able to do either of those things, watching the whole reunion unfold without an inkling of the true weight of the situation.

Villanelle is...

Well, Eve is struggling to form any kind of coherent thought at all as her eyes are drawn into the plunging neckline of Villanelle’s outfit. Villanelle is dressed in an exquisitely tailored suit and Eve is one hundred percent certain that the decision to wear nothing underneath the jacket was made with the sole intention of thoroughly disorientating Eve. Eve can stare at nothing else, she can think of nothing else, except for the sheer amount of skin that Villanelle has exposed, despite being fully dressed.

Eve’s distraction allows Villanelle to approach and place an affectionate hand on Eve’s waist, as she dips her head and presses a chaste kiss to Eve’s lips.

“Hi, baby,” says Villanelle. When Eve turns her head away to stop Villanelle from kissing her again, Villanelle asks, “Is that all I get?”

Eve spares a glance at Gemma, then says, almost coldly, “We’re in public.”

Villanelle glances across at Gemma, then back at Eve again with a smirk on her face, as she replies, “That hasn’t stopped you before.”

Eve’s face burns at the memory of their heated first kiss by the bar at Niko’s wedding, and from the expression on Villanelle’s face, Eve knows that she is thinking of the same thing.

This is just an act , Eve tells herself, to refrain from flipping out at Villanelle in front of Gemma. This is just Julie. You’re just putting on a show.

“Let’s not make it weird for Gemma,” replies Eve, impressing even herself with how steady she manages to keep her voice, despite the whirlwind of emotions wreaking havoc in her head and chest.

“I should leave you two to catch up,” says Gemma, stubbing her own cigarette against the side of the house, before disappearing back into the house through the open door.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” hisses Eve, the second that Gemma leaves them alone.

Villanelle shoots Eve a look, face briefly screwed up in incredulity.

“Niko invited me,” she answers.

“Niko in-” Eve cuts herself off, rolling her eyes and letting out a huff. “Bullshit.”

“Eve,” pleads Villanelle, reaching out to take one of Eve’s hands in her own. “I wanted to see you.”

Eve shakes off Villanelle’s hand as if it has scalded her, taking a step backwards so that Villanelle can’t touch her.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” says Eve, still in disbelief. She shakes her head and blinks, as if she expects Villanelle to flicker out of view, but she is still there, just as clear as ever. “I don’t want you here.”

Hurt flashes across Villanelle’s face. Eve finds herself not really caring at all.

“You’re going to leave,” Eve orders Villanelle. “I’m here to have a good time with my friends. You’re not supposed to be a part of this.”

“Don’t be so rude, Eve. I flew back to London for you! I didn’t even tell Konstantin I was leaving him!”

“I didn’t ask you to come here!” exclaims Eve. She realises that the door to the house is still open, so that anybody might be able to hear them. Lowering her voice, she repeats, “You’re going to leave, and we’ll talk about this tomorrow.” Eve adds as an afterthought, with a bitter taste in her mouth, “If you haven’t fled the country by then.”

“I’m not leaving,” insists Villanelle, folding her arms across her chest. “I was invited.”

“Well, I’m uninviting you.”

“How are you going to explain to your friends if I leave?” asks Villanelle. “What will you tell Niko?”

Eve grinds her teeth together, unwilling to admit that Villanelle makes a very good point. It was one thing giving an excuse for Villanelle’s absence when she didn’t turn up at all, but Eve knows that she will struggle to be able to explain why ‘Julie’ showed up at the party and promptly left again without Eve not even ten minutes later.

“Migraine?” shrugs Eve. “Food poisoning? Maybe I’ll tell them the truth!”

“You wouldn’t,” says Villanelle. “Your fragile ego can’t take Niko knowing who I really am. And I’m not leaving here without you.”

Eve makes a split second decision without giving herself a chance to fully weigh up the options.

“Then we’re both leaving.”

She grabs Villanelle by the hand and leads her back into the house before she can say anything in response, squeezing Villanelle’s fingers tighter than necessary so that it isn’t obvious just how much her hand is trembling. Eve plasters a forced smile on her face as she makes her way through the house, only letting it drop when she reaches the stairs.

“You know,” says Villanelle, as they ascend the stairs, still hand-in-hand, “it will look pretty suspicious if we leave before midnight.”

Eve stops midway up the stairs and Villanelle collides with her back at the unexpected stop. 

Without bothering to check that Villanelle is okay, Eve drops Villanelle’s hand and says. “Suspicious? Do you know what’s suspicious? The fact that you pulled a disappearing act the morning after one of my colleagues showed up dead at the Christmas party!”

Eve turns and continues up the stairs, not bothering to drag Villanelle along with her this time. She hears Villanelle’s footsteps thundering behind her as she chases Eve up the last few steps.

“That?” scoffs Villanelle. “Blame Konstantin. I wanted to stick around, but he said we had to…”

“I don’t care what Konstantin said!” interjects Eve, flinging open the door at the top of the stairs and peering inside to see if it is the spare bedroom containing all the coats, only to discover that this is the master bedroom instead. “Was it you?”

“Was what me?” asks Villanelle, playing dumb.

“Did you kill him?”

Eve tries the next door and finds a small bathroom - a toilet, a bathtub, and a sink crammed into a room so tiny that there must barely be enough room for a person to move around inside. Eve closes the door behind her once again and finds herself face to face with a pleading Villanelle.

“Eve,” she says. “Do you really think that I have it in me to kill somebody?”

“Yes,” answers Eve, without hesitation.

From the expression that crosses Villanelle’s face, eyes widening and mouth hanging open almost comically, it’s not the answer that Villanelle is expecting. Eve almost scoffs at Villanelle’s arrogance, wondering how she could possibly think that she has still hoodwinked Eve after everything that has taken place.

“You do?” asks Villanelle. Her features soften, her head tilting to one side as her lips turn up in a smirk of pride, before she half-purrs, “Eve.”

Her voice is as smooth as liquid gold, and the effect it has on Eve is instantaneous. Eve feels her head go a little giddy as all the blood rushes south, culminating in an unwelcome throb between her legs.

Villanelle’s extends her own neck, lifting her chin so that the height difference between them is amplified.

“Does your boss think it was me?” asks Villanelle.

“I…” stammers Eve, her gaze once again enticed to the deep ‘V’ of Villanelle’s jacket. “I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about an ongoing investigation with the main suspect.”

“Why not?” jeers Villanelle. “What will happen to you if you do talk about it? Will they suspend you for longer?”

Eve opens her mouth to respond, but is cut off by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. Not wanting to be caught mid-argument with Villanelle, Eve does the only other thing she can think of doing, and opens the door to the bathroom behind her once more. She wraps her fingers around Villanelle’s wrist and gives her arm a yank, pulling them both inside the bathroom and closing the door to give them privacy.

Privacy seemed like a good idea two seconds ago when they were about to be interrupted by another guest, but privacy translates into seclusion, which translates into Eve being alone in a room with Villanelle wearing that outfit, and suddenly she’s struggling to remember whether she’s supposed to be shouting at Villanelle or forgiving her.

Eve reluctantly drags her eyes up from Villanelle’s plunging neckline to her face, and it is the smugness that is so deeply rooted into every one of Villanelle’s features, as if she is so sure that she’s going to get away with this, that brings Eve’s fury back to the bubbling surface of her emotions.

“I am so angry with you right now,” says Eve, through clenched teeth, glowering at Villanelle with every bit of rage she can muster.

Villanelle winces as Eve snaps at her, then hesitantly asks, “Good angry or bad angry?”

“Bad ang-” Eve cuts herself off mid-word, frowns, and then says, “Wait, there’s no such thing as good angry.”

Villanelle takes half a step towards Eve, closing the gap between them in an already cramped space between the toilet and the bathtub, and lowers her voice as she asks, “Isn’t there?”

Eve takes another step backwards, until the back of her legs collide with the bath, leaving her nowhere else to go. Villanelle makes no further advance, but her presence is enough to fill the entire bathroom, leaving Eve feeling trapped in a room with a confusing array of emotions and a woman she is supposed to hate.

Eve quickly realises that confronting Villanelle isn’t going to work - she seems entirely unaffected by Eve’s anger towards her. Instead, she decided to appeal to Villanelle’s softer side, if she is capable of feeling any empathy and remorse at all.

“How could you do this to me?” asks Eve, pleading with Villanelle.

The smirk drops off Villanelle’s face, but she doesn’t seem particularly bothered by Eve’s anguish as she replies, “I was only doing my job.”

“Killing people?” Eve asks for clarification. When Villanelle doesn’t reply, Eve presses on and says, “I thought we had an understanding. I thought there was something more going on between us.”

“There is,” insists Villanelle, reaching for Eve’s hand. “I told you that you were different. I told you that you were special.”

With her mind in turmoil, Eve doesn’t know how to react. Because Villanelle did make Eve feel special, each and every time they were together, but particularly on the night of the Christmas party. And then she left and made Eve feel completely and utterly shit, cancelling out everything that she felt before.

“I really don’t care that you killed Diego,” Eve tells Villanelle truthfully. “And maybe that makes me a psychopath, but I didn’t know him and it makes no difference to me if he’s dead or alive. What bothers me is the fact you made all those promises and then ran away.”

“I told you, I didn’t run away! Konstantin…”

“Are you seriously trying to tell me that when we spent that night together, you had no idea that you would be leaving London the next day?”

Villanelle’s lack of an answer says everything. 

“Fuck you,” spits Eve. “You used me and you ruined my life and then you have the audacity to come back like nothing has happened.”

“Oh, stop being such a drama queen, Eve!”

Eve snaps. She doesn’t even register moving, but one second she is standing next to the bathtub, and the next she has Villanelle pinned to the bathroom door by her throat, fingers squeezing at the elongated column of Villanelle’s neck.

Villanelle’s eyes widen, almost bulging out of her skull, and both of her hands come up to wrap around Eve’s wrist, fingers so tight that it feels as though her grip could crack Eve’s bones. Eve’s entire body trembles in anger but she doesn’t relinquish that hold she has on Villanelle’s throat. She feels tears sting in her eyes but she refuses to look away, maintaining eye contact as Villanelle’s face turns red as she strains to breath. Eve’s hand isn’t tight enough to cut off Villanelle’s air, but it still chokes her, and Eve can feel Villanelle’s pulse under her palm, a fluttering reminder of the fragility of life.

Eve expects Villanelle to try to pry Eve’s fingers from around her neck, and she is pretty sure that Villanelle has the strength to be able to do just that and flip their positions so that it is Eve being choked against the bathroom door. 

But she doesn’t.

It seems to happen in slow motion. Villanelle’s eyes, wide with surprise just moments ago, darken as she locks Eve in an impossible staring contest. One of Villanelle’s hands drops from its hold around Eve’s wrist and goes to the front of her pants. She deftly flicks opens the button, then draws down the zip. Eve barely registers what is happening, and only just recognises that the look in Villanelle’s eyes isn’t fear or anger but instead lust, when Villanelle’s fingers find the hand not clasped around her throat and guide it into the opening of her pants.

As her fingers make contact with silk underwear, Eve wonders if she’s accidentally stumbled across one of Villanelle’s kinks. She’s supposed to be shouting at Villanelle, hurting her, making her pay for what she’s done to Eve, not … not this.

But Villanelle is hot beneath her hand, needy and warm and right there, and is this - Villanelle submitting herself to Eve while Eve keeps one hand around Villanelle’s throat in a reminder of who is in charge - not just as much of a lesson to Villanelle as hurting her?

Eve applies the barest amount of pressure that she can to the front of Villanelle’s underwear, just to test the water. Villanelle lets out a groan, or at least tries to. The position of Eve’s hand stops much sound from leaving her throat, but Eve can feel the vibrations of the attempt against the palm of her hand. She squeezes again for a couple of seconds, not enough to hurt but enough to remind Villanelle who is in charge, and then lets her hand slip beneath the elastic waistband of Villanelle’s underwear, where Villanelle is hot and slick and waiting for her. It’s an awkward angle because of the restrictions of Villanelle’s clothing, and with her dominant right hand at Villanelle’s throat, Eve is stuck using her left, but she makes it work.

“Is this what you wanted?”

Eve punctuates her words by sliding her fingers, already slippery with Villanelle’s arousal, across the sensitive nub of her clit. Villanelle’s head rolls back and hits the bathroom door with a soft thud as her mouth falls open in pleasure. Her other hand falls from Eve’s wrist too, now hanging at her side with her fingers clenched into a fist.

If Eve is surprised by how much Villanelle is getting off on this, it surprises her even more how much it is affecting her. It’s entirely thrilling to have Villanelle at her mercy like this, for the person who has caused so much torment and destruction in Eve’s life to now be at Eve’s whim. Eve can’t remember ever feeling this powerful, holding Villanelle’s pain in one hand and her pleasure in the other.

“Look at me,” commands Eve.

Villanelle resists for a couple of seconds, then lets her head tip forward again until her chin rests on the crook of Eve’s thumb as she opens her eyes.

Eve rewards Villanelle by sliding her fingers yet lower and pushing inside Villanelle, burying her first two fingers up to the second knuckle and curling them roughly. She can tell that Villanelle wants to look away again, that she wants to slump against the door and let out an ungodly whine of pleasure as Eve pushes inside.

Villanelle’s eyelashes try to flutter closed, but she manages to resist the natural instinct, maintaining eye contact with pupils so black they could swallow Eve whole.

“Good girl.”

Eve doesn’t even bother to try to be gentle. That’s not what either of them wants. Her grip on Villanelle’s neck slackens somewhat but she keeps her hand in place, fingers still curled around Villanelle’s throat. She glances down at her other hand, the movements visible against the front of Villanelle’s pants as Eve works her fingers in and out, pushing deeper each time until her wrist starts to ache with the strain of the awkward angle. 

But she doesn’t give up. Especially not when one of Villanelle’s hands comes up to pop open the single button on the front of her jacket. The lapels fall open slightly, still barely covering Villanelle’s tits at all as the full extent of her nudity beneath the jacket is revealed. As Villanelle sends a hand inside the jacket and grasps at her own breast, Eve wonders if it was deliberate, if the decision to wear this outfit was based purely on ease of accessibility in a situation like this.

Eve tries to find it in herself to be annoyed, but with Villanelle’s growing arousal coating her hand, she finds it very difficult. Having Villanelle beneath her hands, hips rocking into her fingertips as she seeks out her own pleasure, gives Eve a kick of want that throbs between her own legs. She doesn’t give in to it though, instead just focuses on Villanelle, on the steady thrust of her fingers and on the way Villanelle tries to groan out her own pleasure. 

Part of Eve, sadistically, wants to draw it out, to slow down or even withdraw completely to delay Villanelle’s desperate climax. But the other part of her is just as hungry, just as eager to watch Villanelle crumble under her touch. Eve needs this just as much, perhaps even more than Villanelle does.

Eve doubles her efforts, tucking her thumb against Villanelle’s clit and rubbing small circles there as her thrusts become shallower and faster. Villanelle’s hips rock rhythmically, seeking the right kind of pressure until…

Eve.”

Eve’s fingers have loosened at Villanelle’s neck enough for the breathy whimper that leaves her throat to be unmistakably Eve’s name. She’s unbelievably beautiful like this, even more jaw-droppingly gorgeous that she had been when Eve first laid eyes on her this evening. Villanelle’s cheeks are pink and flushed, her chest heaves with the exertion of seeking out her climax, and her eyes, though heavy and dark, are still just about managing to obediently follow Eve’s command to remain open.

And then the orgasm hits her.

It’s unmistakable when it happens. Villanelle’s hips stutter but Eve keeps the movement of her fingers constant as Villanelle rides out the orgasm. She watches as Villanelle’s head falls back against the door again with a thump, mouth hanging open in a near perfect circle but her dark eyes still staring at Eve from beneath her lashes. Eve coaxes tremor after tremor from Villanelle, basking in each choked whimper that leaves Villanelle’s mouth.

“Too much,” Villanelle eventually gasps, her fingers wrapping around Eve’s wrist to still her hand.

It’s too much for Eve as well, which is why she withdraws her fingers from inside Villanelle’s underwear, places one hand on either side of Villanelle’s face, and pulls her in for a kiss. 

Villanelle seems surprised at first. Hell, Eve is surprised that she’s managed to push aside the pain that Villanelle caused her that quickly. Because it’s one thing to fuck Villanelle against a door, fast and rough, to teach her a lesson about messing with Eve, but it’s something else entirely to let down her own guard enough to kiss her again.

But Villanelle moans into Eve’s mouth and though her brain knows that this is a bad idea, a terrible idea, possibly even the worst idea Eve has ever had, she just can’t stop kissing Villanelle. Villanelle is an addiction and Eve is a weak and damaged soul who can’t help but succumb.

“You taste like an ashtray,” Villanelle murmurs against Eve’s lips.

It’s the grounding to reality that Eve needs to stop her from floating away on the ridiculous fantasy of Villanelle’s kiss. She pulls back just as suddenly as she initiated the kiss in the first place, wiping her lips on the back of a hand that is still sticky with Villanelle’s arousal. Eve takes one look at Villanelle, still leaning against the door with her cheeks flushed and her lips parted, and turns her back to her. She distracts herself at the sink, running the cold tap and lathering her hands with soap to keep herself busy while her brain distances itself from what has just happened.

“What is this?” asks Villanelle, from behind Eve. “Are you done? Do I not get to return the favour?”

Eve finishes rinsing her hands and turns the tap off, turning around and pushing past Villanelle to get to the towel that hangs on the rack on the opposite wall.

“Yes, we’re done.”

“But… but you can’t fuck me like that and then just walk away!”

Eve turns around and faces Villanelle, whose clothes are still half-hanging off her body. The skin on show from the open jacket isn’t a distraction to Eve anymore, just a reminder of a terrible mistake and the need to get as far away from this house as possible.

“Watch me,” snarls Eve.

She makes a move to push past Villanelle and leave the bathroom, but Villanelle sidesteps into her way, towering above Eve with her eyebrows furrowed into a furious frown and her brown eyes searching Eve’s face for something to cling onto. Eve doesn’t cower away, though the heart that pounds in her chest and pumps anxiety through her veins reminds her that Villanelle is somebody that she has every right to be afraid of, but squares up to Villanelle, lifting her head so that their faces are just inches apart.

“You’ve fucked up my entire life,” says Eve, the quiet rage somehow feeling more powerful than screaming at Villanelle would be.

“No,” counters Villanelle, shaking her head resolutely. “I made your life interesting.”

“Why do you always have to reply with clever comment?” snaps Eve. “Can you not be serious for once in your life? Can you not just be … be normal?”

Eve regrets the word the second it falls from her lips. Villanelle isn’t normal, but that’s one of her most redeeming features. Niko was normal and nice and safe and boring as all hell when it came down to it, and that’s why Eve is no longer married to him but instead here, in an upstairs bathroom at a friend’s house having just fucked a woman who is so beautifully estranged from normal. Eve doesn’t want Villanelle to be normal, she wants Villanelle to keep being her delightfully eccentric self - she just isn’t sure that she is ready to deal with that herself yet.

“Eve…”

The pain in Villanelle’s voice cuts through Eve like a knife. She can’t do this, can’t hurt Villanelle anymore. But she also can’t stay without allowing herself to be hurt. 

“I’m going home,” says Eve, making the abrupt decision and taking advantage of Villanelle’s hesitation to push past her and leave the bathroom.

There are footsteps behind her as she tries the only door that she didn’t open earlier, relieved when she sees that all the coats belonging to the guests downstairs have been draped carefully over the double bed inside.

“But it’s not even midnight yet,” says Villanelle, following Eve into the room.

“I don’t care,” says Eve, rummaging through the pile of coats to find her own. It’s not hard to find, the only expensive design amongst a heap of crumpled anoraks and high-street brand coats. Eve regrets wearing this coat tonight, now that Villanelle can clearly see that she likes it enough to wear in front of her friends. “I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to be around you anymore. I’m going home and if you even think about following me, I’ll hurt you. I mean it.”

“You wouldn’t,” says Villanelle, shaking her head in defiance.

Folding her coat over her arms, Eve steps into Villanelle’s personal space and snarls, “You don’t know what I’m capable of. Don’t test me.”

She leaves the bedroom, hurries down the stairs, and is out of the house before she has time to even consider changing her mind.

Villanelle doesn’t follow.

Chapter Text

Villanelle has never been dumped before. 

It’s weird.

She doesn’t like it.

She feels… wait, is this what sadness feels like? Or heartbreak? Or even grief ? She doesn’t remember ever feeling anything this intensely before. It aches in her chest, more painful than breaking a bone or being stabbed and she doesn’t know why.

Villanelle just doesn’t understand anything, not the way that she is feeling, nor why she is feeling like this, and she especially doesn’t understand what she is supposed to have done to provoke such a reaction from Eve. And Villanelle doesn’t like not understanding things. It makes her feel so powerless.

Powerless, like she had been earlier, when Eve had her pressed against the bathroom door with one hand while the other was buried in her underwear. Except that was just an illusion of being powerless - Villanelle could have turned it around onto Eve in an instant and really, was it not her with all the power by letting Eve believe that she was the one in charge when it was Villanelle who was getting exactly what she wanted?

It doesn’t make sense. At first Eve had been annoyed that she had to pay Villanelle for her time, so Villanelle returned her money and stopped charging her. Then, she hadn’t been happy when Villanelle left the country, so she decided to return to London once more. And now…

Well, Villanelle doesn’t know what has warranted this new bout of rage from Eve, only that it is entirely undeserved. 

How can Eve go from fucking Villanelle, to blaming her for everything and storming out of the party?

Eve told Villanelle not to follow her. But this party is boring without Eve, and she really doesn’t think she can make polite smalltalk with any of the bland people downstairs without accidentally killing one of them with a cocktail stick. So Villanelle makes the executive decision to ignore Eve’s request and leaves the party anyway.

Not that Eve realises. Villanelle isn’t stupid. She doesn’t want to make Eve any angrier than she already is. But it’s New Year’s Eve and everybody is drunk and Villanelle is just doing the decent thing by tailing Eve to make sure that she gets home unharmed. 

She follows Eve all the way home, first into a nearby tube station, keeping her distance so that Eve doesn’t notice her, but making sure that Eve stays in sight. When a train pulls into the platform and Eve gets on it, Villanelle jumps onto the next carriage down so that Eve doesn’t see her, knowing that it is just a couple of stops until they arrive at the station closest to Eve’s house, where she will most likely get off the train.

But then what?

When Eve gets home, Villanelle loiters in the shadows outside Eve’s house, watching as a light downstairs flicks on, then off again a few minutes later, followed by an upstairs light as Eve goes up to her bedroom. Is Villanelle supposed to give up, just like that? She can’t very well spend the whole night out here, waiting for Eve to suddenly come to her senses in the middle of the night.

Oh, but she could…

There are a number of options. The least appealing is perhaps waiting for Konstantin to track her down and reprimand her for running away from him, even less appealing than throwing herself into the icy waters of the River Thames in a heartbroken fit of hysteria.

Or she could march up to Eve’s front and hammer against it with her fist, demanding that Eve talks to her and explains what she has done wrong.

Or she could flee across Europe, away from Eve and Konstantin and any other responsibilities.

Or…

Villanelle glances at the watch on her wrist. Thirty minutes to go until the new year. That’s plenty of time to get back on the underground and head into the very centre of London, where millions of people have gathered along the banks of the Thames to watch the fireworks display at midnight. Villanelle knows that she would easily be able to find somebody to keep her bed warm for the night, somebody whose pleasure she can hold in her hands as they call out whatever fake name she decides to give them, somebody she can use to forget about Eve for a few hours. That’s how normal people get over a breakup, right?

Exactly as that thought crosses Villanelle’s mind, there is movement at Eve’s bedroom window. Villanelle ducks down behind a car and pretends to be tying her shoelace, watching out of the corner of her eye as Eve draws the curtains across the window, until the house is completely dark except for the soft glow of a lamp around the edges of the curtain.

Villanelle stretches up into a standing position again and lets out a sigh. She doesn’t have the energy to find an anonymous girl to fuck, not when she knows that she will spend the entire encounter thinking about Eve and calling her Eve’s name and wishing that it was Eve with her instead.

Fuck.

Villanelle lashes out at the nearest thing, a car parked at the side of the road, and kicks the tyre as aggressively as she can. A wailing alarm sounds inside the vehicle and Villanelle takes a step back as her eyes widen in surprise. She instinctively glances back up at Eve’s bedroom window, the attention-seeking part of her brain hoping that Eve will come to the window to investigate the noise outside and see her standing her down on the street. 

Eve does not appear.

Villanelle swears under her breath again, then decides to go home.


New year, new Eve. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?

And yet here she is, the same Eve with the same fucked up thoughts in the same fucked up brain.

Resolution number one; drink less wine. So far, so good. But it is still only just gone lunchtime, so maybe Eve shouldn’t congratulate herself just yet.

Resolution number two; get her old job back. Again, it’s too early to tell. Perhaps Eve should send Carolyn well wishes for the year ahead, just to sweeten her up… or is that too obvious?

Resolution number three; do more exercise. It wriggles its way into Eve’s list of resolutions every year - last year she managed and impressive five weeks of Zumba classes before giving up, this year Eve wonders if maybe yoga could keep her interest for slightly longer.

Resolution number four; get over Villanelle. This one is a little harder to pretend she’s succeeding with. The number of times Eve has thought about Villanelle so far this year is unquantifiable. Not to mention the small matter of the fact that the first thing Eve did when she awoke this morning, was jump straight into a colder than enjoyable shower to curb the arousal that has been buzzing through her veins since she fucked Villanelle last night.

But it’s a work in progress. It’s hard to quit anything cold turkey, and Eve suspects that Villanelle will be no exception. 

What Eve really needs, and what she should probably have asked for last night if she hadn’t been completely out of her mind, is closure. At the time, fucking Villanelle one final time seemed like it would give her just that.

It’s never ‘one final time’ though, is it? Not with Villanelle. Eve remembers telling herself the same thing over and over again back when she thought Villanelle was only an escort. I’ll only hire her one more time, she had told herself. I’m only kissing her because I won’t ever see her again.

Lies.

If Eve has learned just one thing from this entire episode of her life, it’s that she has absolutely no impulse control.

Neither does Villanelle. Eve tells herself that in an attempt to reassure herself, before quickly realising that likening herself to a known psychopath is the opposite of reassuring.

Eve tries to put herself in Villanelle’s situation. What would an impulsive psychopath do after the events of last night? Eve is actually a little bit surprised that Villanelle didn’t follow her out of the party. At the time she had been glad of that, but now, having slept on it and calmed down from the initial shock of Villanelle’s appearance, Eve finds herself able to think with a bit more clarity and almost wishes that Villanelle would come and seek her out again so that they can actually talk about this like adults.

It all comes back to closure.

If Villanelle didn’t follow her last night,  does that mean that she’s finally received the message about staying away from Eve? Is this it? Is Villanelle gone from Eve’s life now for good?

Eve doesn’t know how she feels about the idea of a life without Villanelle in it, so she lifts herself from the couch and traipses into the kitchen to make herself a coffee in the hope that caffeine will induce a bit of rationality into her thought processes.

She checks her phone as she waits for the coffee to brew, as if Villanelle will have contacted her in the thirty seconds since she last checked it. When there is predictably nothing, she internally scolds herself, because she is supposed to be on a cleanse from Villanelle and checking her phone every minute just in case is the kind of stupid behaviour that got her into this mess of emotions in the first place.

Her phone rings just as she finishes making the coffee, and Eve snatches at it with desperation that she should probably feel ashamed of.

“Eve! Happy New Year!”

It’s not Villanelle, though if Eve had taken even half a second to read the screen of her phone before answering, instead of lunging for her phone like a madwoman, she would have already known that it was Elena calling her.

“Happy New Year, Elena!”

“So, how was the party last night? Was Niko there?”

Elena sounds far too chirpy for the morning after a night of drinking and seeing in the new year. Even Eve, who left too early to be drunk, doesn’t feel anywhere near as alert as Elena sounds.

“He was,” replies Eve, turning around and leaning against the kitchen counter. “It was fine. I wasn’t feeling good though. Tummy troubles. I left early, just to be safe.”

“Too much wine?” jokes Elena, before she swiftly changes the subject. “Anyway, I have news!”

“Oh?”

“Kenny proposed!” blurts out Elena.

Eve almost drops her phone in surprise.

“He what ?”

“I know, right?” agrees Elena. “That was my reaction too! I mean, we’ve talked about it but I had no idea he was planning to do it so soon! I said yes, of course.”

Eve takes a few seconds to process the information, letting her brain catch up with what she is being told. Kenny and Elena are a great couple and Eve has watched their relationship blossom over the last couple of years. Eve remembers the smug expression on Bill’s face when he collected his winnings from her over a bet they placed about whether Kenny would ever pluck up the courage to ask Elena out, she remembers going out for lunch with Elena the morning after her first date with him to get all the details and to listen to Elena’s doubts about getting involved with somebody at work. She’s been there for every stage of their relationship, has picked them both up when it hasn’t been steady sailing, almost like a protective guardian angel, and the fact that they are finally going to fly the nest and start their life together properly fills her with immense joy.

It also makes her heart ache for the same thing.

Not with Villanelle. That would be ridiculous. Besides, look how well marriage worked out for Eve the first time.

“Wow, Elena!” gushes Eve, once she has started to wrap her head around this new development and tried to push her own feelings of inadequacy aside. “Congratulations! How did he do it?”

“It was perfect, Eve. It got to midnight and the fireworks were going off and he just got down on one knee in the middle of ‘Auld Lang Syne' and asked me to marry him.”

“I’m so happy for you both. I really am.”

It’s the truth, but it somehow also feels like a lie. Does that make Eve a bad person? She loves Kenny and Elena so much, individually and together. They are both nice people living a normal life who deserve every happiness in the world. That they have found it with each other is just a bonus.

Was that not Eve and Niko though, fifteen years ago? Nice and normal people who deserved a happy life together? And how did Eve end up like this - lost and lonely and so very confused?

Will that be Kenny and Elena in fifteen years?

Eve shakes her head to snap herself out of the funk. This is just the residue from last night clogging her mind. Kenny and Elena aren’t like that - they’re perfect for each other. She and Niko were always just slightly too different from each other to be perfect soulmates.

But Villanelle…

No.

Why does her mind keep wandering back to Villanelle?

“Thank you, Eve!” says Elena, snapping Eve out of the dangerous territories inside her own brain. “I’m terrified, but also, like so excited. Just think, soon I’m going to be Carolyn Martens’ daughter-in-law.”

Eve snorts and replies, “I think you’re supposed to be more excited about becoming Kenny’s wife.”

“Oh, I am. But this is exciting too! Anyway, I’m going to hang up now so I can spam you with pictures of the ring.”

“Please do!” says Eve. “And congratulations again!”

“Okay, bye!”

As promised, Eve only has to wait a few seconds after the call ends for Elena to send through a picture of her left hand, a shiny ring glittering on her finger. Eve sends an appropriate reply - a string of heart-eyed emojis - then shoots off a quick congratulatory message to Kenny too, before putting her phone face down on the counter and picking up her mug of coffee.

She really needs to speak to Villanelle. It’s for her own peace of mind, so that she can move forward one way or another. Eve deserves the truth, and if Villanelle won’t give it to her then cutting her out of Eve’s life will be a complete no-brainer.

How to find her, though, is the first big hurdle that Eve must overcome. Eve no longer has a working contact number for Villanelle, and she’s not prepared to sit around and wait, just on the off-chance that Villanelle hasn’t given up on her yet and will come calling.

If Villanelle is sensible, she will have booked herself onto the first flight out of London this morning and already be in a new country.

But when has Villanelle ever been sensible?


Villanelle knows she should leave London.

Not because Eve asked her to, but because Konstantin is a smarmy git who will know exactly where she has fled to and why, and she doesn’t have the emotional resilience to face up to him arriving on her doorstep just yet.

I warned you that Eve Polastri was bad news, he would say, or some other such variation on ‘I told you so’, as if he has somehow outsmarted Villanelle by stating the obvious. 

Konstantin is, and has always been, a pain in Villanelle’s arse. But, as much as Villanelle hates to admit it, he is sometimes pretty good company and seems to have a hidden reserve of loyalty that he saves for just Villanelle. She knows that she’ll be able to charm her way back into his good books eventually. He likes her too much to be angry with her for long.

But she isn’t ready to run back to him just yet.

Villanelle reckons she’s probably got until tomorrow morning before Konstantin shows up here to find her, perhaps later in the day if he’s slow. And if she moves away from London, she’ll have even longer. There are better places to hide from Konstantin, after all, than the flat he set her up with while she was pretending to be an escort.

Away from London means away from Eve. That’s less than ideal.

Maybe she should pay Eve another visit before she leaves. But Eve was pretty clear about wanting Villanelle to stay away from her. Villanelle doesn’t want to seem desperate .

Besides, has it not been her who has made all the romantic gestures so far? Was it not her who called time on their professional relationship to pursue a personal one, who sent Eve flowers and a brand new coat to show that she was still thinking of her, who defied her boss and returned to this miserable puddle of a country just for Eve? 

Yes, Villanelle tells herself, Eve should be the one to make the next move.

It’s not as if Villanelle needs Eve. Villanelle has never needed anybody but herself. Eve has been a nice little bit of entertainment while she carried out her job in London, a challenge that she has successfully completed, a beautiful distraction with incredible hair and...

A knock on the door startles Villanelle out of her own thoughts. 

Villanelle frowns, because she ordered Chinese food - too lazy to buy groceries and cook for just one meal if she’s only going to end up leaving London again tomorrow - but it isn’t due to be delivered for another twenty minutes, unless the Chinese restaurant is really efficient.

Grabbing the knife strapped to the underside of the coffee table just in case, Villanelle approaches the front door of her apartment cautiously, so as to not make any noise from footsteps, then flings the door open to greet the visitor.

“Eve?” 

Villanelle is shocked to see Eve standing outside her apartment. She looks more tired, more haggard that Villanelle has ever seen her before. Her hair is wild, voluminous curls forming a glorious mane around her head, and she is dressed in casual clothes - a crumpled shirt and a pair of jeans underneath the tatty coat that Villanelle would hate if it was worn by anybody other than Eve. She is the exact opposite of the Eve from last night, the glamorous cocktail dress replaced with comfort, the loathing in her eyes replaced with exhaustion, the fierce determination replaced with defeat.

She is the exact opposite of last night, and Villanelle’s heart still leaps in her chest at the sight of Eve standing outside her apartment.

“Can I come in?” sighs Eve, desperation in her eyes. “I just want you to tell me the truth.”

Chapter Text

Villanelle’s apartment is exactly as Eve remembers it - spacious and incredibly chic. Her eyes wander first to the velvet chaise longue, her cheeks burning at the memory of Villanelle eating her out in that exact spot, then through the archway on the right, where she can see the very end of the bed.

Villanelle follows Eve’s gaze and seems to realise what she’s staring at, because she smirks as she stands aside and says, “Come in.”

Eve steps inside tentatively, perhaps more nervous this time than she was the last time she came here.

She catches sight of a flash of silver as Villanelle closes the door behind her, and Eve notices the blade in Villanelle’s hand. It’s a strange sight - Villanelle is dressed otherwise casually in a silk button down pyjama top and matching shorts that show off long smooth legs, but the knife is an instant reminder to Eve that Villanelle is not always exactly who she seems.

“Why are you holding a knife?”

Villanelle glances down at the weapon as if she has only just realised that she is holding it, then answers, “Because I didn’t know it was going to be you.”

“And that’s how you normally answer the door when you don’t know who it is?” 

Villanelle shrugs, and then says, “You can never be too careful.”

Eve stands by the front door, holding her bag in front of her body as if it will somehow act as a barrier between Villanelle and the whirlpool of emotions that Eve has for her. She watches as Villanelle returns to the kitchen, putting the knife down on the counter, before ambling over to the chaise longue and sitting down at one end. She sprawls across the seat, legs spread and arm draped across the back, watching Eve with a calculated stare.

“So, what do you want to know?”

Eve crosses the apartment, taking the slightly longer route around the coffee table so that she doesn’t end up walking right past Villanelle and her endless bare legs in order to sit down. She can feel Villanelle’s eyes watching her as she walks, and she deliberately takes her time, carefully placing her bag down beside the seat, before taking her coat off and folding it over the bag. She sits down and turns her body to look at Villanelle, savouring every second of silence so that she can formulate the mess in her brain into sentences.

“I want to know everything,” she eventually tells Villanelle.

Villanelle opens her mouth as if to make a smart remark, then promptly shuts it again as she seems to remember that she is currently in Eve’s bad books. Eve decides to spare her the agony and offers further clarification.

“I don’t know anything about you,” says Eve. “Everything you ever told me was a lie.”

“Not everything,” counters Villanelle. She pauses, then adds, in a voice that is much softer than before, “Not the things that matter.”

“But it all matters to me,” insists Eve. “I only know the fake version of you that you allowed me to see, but that’s not good enough anymore. I want to know who you are. I want to know why you did this to me. I want to believe that the things you said to me that night were real, but I need to know the truth. This is your final chance to be honest with me. When I know the truth, I can decide what to do next.”

Villanelle’s eyes widen, almost childlike in their surprise, and she tucks one leg up underneath her body as she leans a little closer to Eve on the chaise longue.

“You mean that there’s still a chance?” she asks, a glimmer of hope in her voice. “For us?”

Eve berates herself internally for showing her cards so early on, until she meets Villanelle’s gaze again and barely recognises the vulnerability in them.

“I don’t know,” admits Eve. “There are obvious complications. But there isn’t not a chance. Just tell me everything. You can carry on lying if you want, but I’ve reached the limit of bullshit I can take from you. No more gimmicks. No lies. I just want the truth.”

“Okay,” agrees Villanelle. “Ask away.”

Eve opens her mouth to speak again, then shuts it. Here she is, finally with the chance to get some honest answers from Villanelle, and she can’t decide what to ask. There’s so much that she wants to know - about Villanelle’s real identity, about what possessed her to masquerade as Eve’s escort, about her feelings and her motives and...

Eve wants to know it all. But there is one thing she needs to be clarified before she can delve into the truth about the woman in front of her.

“You did it, right?” she asks. “You killed Diego?”

“Yes.”

Even though she has asked for nothing but the truth and Villanelle has promised her just that, it still surprises Eve when Villanelle gives her a straight answer. She’s so used to Villanelle having a witty response to everything, to the way that she doesn’t take anything too seriously, that she realises now that she had hall been expecting Villanelle to continue spinning an elaborate web of lies. 

Eve is glad to have underestimated Villanelle’s honesty. It bodes well for the million other questions burning on the tip of her tongue.

“Why?” asks Eve, pressing Villanelle for more.

“I can’t tell you that.”

And just like that, Eve’s optimism is gone.

“Villanelle…”

“There are some things it’s best for you not to know,” explains Villanelle, as she shuffles a little closer on the seat and places her hand on Eve’s leg, a gesture that is intimate, but not charged with the usual sexual chemistry that Eve has felt every other time Villanelle has touched her. “It’s for your own safety. Just know that Diego was a dick and the world is a better place without him.” Villanelle lowers her voice and, as an afterthought, adds, “Also, between you and me, I don’t think your boss is particularly sad to see the last of him.”

Eve pauses for a moment, recalling the complete disinterest in Carolyn’s tone when she had informed them of Diego’s murder, then concedes, “No. I got that impression too. Though Carolyn can be quite difficult to read.”

Glad to finally have a definitive answer about Diego, Eve is a little surprised to realise that it changes nothing in the way she sees Villanelle. Perhaps it is the two weeks of mentally preparing herself for this exact piece of knowledge, or maybe Eve is just as crazy as the woman sitting next to her, but the feeling she gets with Villanelle’s answer is one of relief at hearing the truth, rather than fear that she is currently sitting in the apartment of a killer without having told anybody where she is.

But Eve is not scared of Villanelle.

“And Diego’s not the first person you’ve killed?” asks Eve, continuing her search for answers about Villanelle.

Villanelle snorts, as if Eve is asking a ridiculous question. When Eve says nothing else, Villanelle’s eyes widen and she quickly backtracks.

“Oh, you’re serious,” says Villanelle. “No, of course he wasn’t.”

Eve opens her mouth to ask more about Villanelle’s other victims, curious about numbers and the how and when of it all, but gets interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Villanelle lifts her hand and shakes her arm so that the sleeve of her silky pyjama shirt falls around her elbow, then peers at the expensive watch strapped to her wrist. She bounds up from the couch and crosses over to the door, not bothering to retrieve the knife still lying on the kitchen counter. 

Eve panics for half a second as she realises that Villanelle must be expecting another guest, and wonders if she should be the one arming herself with a weapon, before the front door swings open, revealing a young man with a motorbike helmet tucked under one arm and an insulated food bag held in the other hand. She watches the brief exchange, the man unfastening the Velcro on his bag and taking out a couple of brown paper bags emblazoned with the logo of a familiar chain of Chinese restaurants, then wishing Villanelle a good evening as she accepts the food and closes the door.

“I ordered dinner before you showed up!” Villanelle announces in a sing-song voice, holding up the bags for Eve to see. She drops the bags onto the coffee table, close enough that Eve’s nostrils are suddenly filled with the aroma of the food inside, then wanders back into the kitchen as she calls out, “Do you want to share?”

“I’m not hungry,” answers Eve. “But thank you.”

Villanelle rummages around in a couple of cupboards, then returns to the chaise longue with two plates and two pairs of chopsticks. She places one set down in front of Eve and the other in front of herself, before opening the first bag and removing the containers within.

“Please,” she says to Eve, gesturing at the food. “I ordered more than enough for two. Help yourself.”

Eve watches Villanelle put generous helpings of the food onto her own plate, then reluctantly gives in as her stomach gives a traitorous growl at the smell of the food. She helps herself to a small amount of food, filling barely a third of her plate, by which time Villanelle already has her cheeks stuffed like an over-enthusiastic hamster.

“Don’t hold back on my account,” says Villanelle, words muffled by the food in her mouth, as she gestures with chopsticks at the spread of food in front of them that is surely far too much for two people to manage, let alone Villanelle by herself.

Eve picks up the plate and rests it on her knees, half-heartedly pushing the food around the plate with the tips of the chopsticks as she tries to remember where they got to before the food arrived.

“Oksana,” says Villanelle, once she has swallowed her monumental mouthful of food.

“Um, bless you?” says Eve, confused.

“No,” says Villanelle, shaking her head. “You said you wanted to know everything. Well, Oksana is my real name.” 

She lifts a piece of chicken to her mouth and pauses while she chews, giving Eve time to process this new information. Eve tries sounding the name out in her head, mentally trying to attach it to the woman in front of her, but struggles to make that connection. The name doesn’t suit Villanelle, not when Eve knows her by another name.

“I haven’t gone by that name in a long time,” continues Villanelle. “The last person who called me Oksana died a few years ago.”

“Oh god, you…?”

Her eyes wide in horror as her mind scrambles to fit together the pieces, Eve gestures with her chopstick, encouraging Villanelle to fill in the rest of the sentence herself.

“No!” protests Villanelle, eyebrows furrowing into a frown as she seems to realise what Eve is implying. “Of course I didn’t kill her! What - you think I’m some kind of psychopath? I didn’t harm her! She killed herself!” Villanelle hesitates and Eve can tell there is more, before Villanelle finally admits, “After I murdered her husband.”

Eve tries not to let the surprise at that particular confession show on her face. The last thing she wants to do is to discourage future honesty from Villanelle, but Eve realises in that asking Villanelle to give the truth, she probably should have prepared herself for the truth to not always be the prettiest.

There’s a reminiscent fondness in Villanelle’s eyes as she thinks of this old friend, this long dead woman who was apparently close enough to Villanelle to get to use her birth name. She feels a stirring of jealousy in her gut and hates the fact that her mind starts wondering exactly what the nature of Villanelle’s relationship with this woman was.

Eve distracts herself with food, using the chopsticks to lift a sticky piece of chicken to her mouth. She chews, then pushes the food into the corner of her mouth so that she can ask, “Did you - I mean, did you and her…?”

Eve gesticulates vaguely with her free hand as she chews and swallows the chicken, while Villanelle gives her a smirk in response. 

“Did we…?” says Villanelle, clearly understanding what Eve is suggesting but getting far too much enjoyment out of Eve not being able to finish her question.

Eve gives Villanelle the sternest look she can muster, then says, “Stop being an ass. You know what I mean.”

“She was my teacher, Eve,” says Villanelle, feigning outrage. She pauses, waiting until Eve is just about to open her mouth to apologise, before she relaxes and grins as she adds, “Of course I seduced her. But don’t worry, she wasn’t as good as you. Too vanilla for me, if I’m honest.”

Eve cannot help the way her cheeks burn with embarrassment. She busies herself with her food, desperately trying to distract herself from the memories of fucking Villanelle, of the first night they spent together when they physically couldn’t keep their hands off each other and of the unplanned tryst against the bathroom door at last night’s party. Eve has never quite had sex that good before either. None of her previous encounters have ever been that thrilling and she doubts that anybody else could even come close to making her feel how Villanelle does. Eve has never completely lost control with a partner in the way that she did with Villanelle. 

Surely that has to mean something ?

As distracted as she is, Eve swallows her mouthful of food and tries to redirect her mind back on the course of the conversation.

“So, you changed your name after she died?” asks Eve.

“Oksana’s life was really shitty,” explains Villanelle. “I wanted to get away from that. I grew up in Russia and my family didn’t have a lot of money. It was … I don’t want you to think that I’m excusing the way that I am, but it was hard . I’m not that little girl anymore. I’ve worked hard to give myself a better life. And so when they came along and offered me a lot of money to do something that I’m really good at, I took it.”

“Who are ‘they’?”

Villanelle shrugs.

“I don’t know. It changes.”

“You don’t know who you work for?” asks Eve, astounded that Villanelle can carry out work of such a unique nature and not want to find out who is asking her to do it.

“Sometimes it’s better not to know,” says Villanelle, reaching for one of the cartons of food and adding a second helping to her plate.

“Are you not curious?” asks Eve, leaning a little closer to Villanelle in intrigue.

“There are lots of organisations who might want to dispose of a person,” explains Villanelle, forgoing the chopsticks as she uses her fingers to scoop up some food and lifting it to her mouth. She carries on talking as she chews, words a little muffled as she says, “Most of them are really powerful and really dangerous. As long as I get paid, I don’t ask questions.”

Villanelle swallows and wipes the residue of food away from her lips using the pad of her thumb. Eve gets momentarily distracted by the gesture, following Villanelle’s thumb as it traces her plump lower lip, then dips into her mouth as she licks it clean.

“And Konstantin?”

“A total pain in my ass,” says Villanelle, and though her words seem to say otherwise, there’s a tenderness to her tone that seems to suggest she doesn’t actually mind Konstantin that much at all. “But he handles all the bits I don’t have the patience for. He’s like an administrator. Or my personal assistant. He likes to pretend he’s the one in charge,” Villanelle pauses for dramatic effect and leans a little closer to Eve, grinning as she lowers her voice and finishes, “but we both know he isn’t.”

Having only spoken to Konstantin on the phone a handful of times, Eve has only engaged with him in a professional capacity. Their conversations have been strictly business-related and Eve has an image of him in her head, despite having never met him - a serious man, perhaps Eve’s age or a little bit older, balding on the top of his head but making up for it with greying facial hair. For some reason Eve always pictures him in a suit and, since discovering that there might be something much more secretive to his role than just being Villanelle’s pimp, dark sunglasses like he’s stepped straight out of a cliche Russian spy thriller.

The way that Villanelle talks about Konstantin does not match the image in Eve’s head. Villanelle has always spoken about him with affection, despite her words often suggesting the opposite. There’s an amused kind of resentment in her voice whenever she mentions him, like she’s pretending that she finds him annoying but would secretly be devastated if he was no longer a part of her life.

Eve is as intrigued by Konstantin and his role in this almost as much as she is by Villanelle. In fact, Eve still has so many questions about the whole escort charade that Villanelle and Konstantin somehow managed to pull off.

“So, is the escort thing part of your usual routine?” Eve asks Villanelle. “Konstantin pimps you out to somebody foolish enough to give you an alibi?”

“No, actually,” says Villanelle, grinning at Eve mischievously. “That was just a bit of extra fun. And I was showing off a little.”

“To whom? To Konstantin?”

Villanelle shrugs as she winds a noodle around her chopsticks and lifts it to her mouth.

“I guess so,” she says while chewing, the end of the noodle hanging from between her lips. “And to the people who hired me. There might, um…” Villanelle trails off and she sucks the last little bit of noodle into her mouth, then swallows before she continues, “I don’t know if I’m really supposed to tell you this, but there might be some more work for me if the big bosses are pleased with this one. I think they’ll be quite impressed that I managed to infiltrate an MI6 party and kill him there.”

“And you poisoned his drink?”

Villanelle nods.

“Arsenic,” she explains. “Enough to be lethal but a small enough dose that it gave me time to get far away from the party.”

“I’m still pissed off at you about that too,” says Eve, pointing an accusatory chopstick at Villanelle. “You used me as an alibi.”

“Eve, I know I lied about a few things,” agrees Villanelle. Eve gives her a pointed look - more than an eye roll but less than a glare - and Villanelle concedes with a grimace before she says, “Okay, about a lot of things. But you were the only thing I was always telling the truth about. I meant everything I ever said about you. Sometimes, when I was with you, I forgot about the long game because I was so caught up in the moment. In you .”

Eve wants to believe her, she really does. Her heart aches for Villanelle, longing to explode with forgiveness and forget that Villanelle ever hurt her. But Villanelle did hurt her, and Eve still has a shred of her dignity left, which is perhaps the only thing stopping her from allowing herself to be vulnerable around Villanelle once again.

Her guard is lower than it was earlier though, because Villanelle shuffles a little closer to Eve on the chaise longue and picks up the plate from her lap, placing it carefully on the coffee table. She half expects Villanelle to use their new proximity to initiate physical contact, maybe holding Eve’s hand or touching Eve’s knee or even letting their thighs press against each other in an unspoken gesture of past intimacy. But Villanelle doesn’t touch her, instead keeping a respectable foot between them on the seat that may as well be a hundred miles.

“Do you remember when we first met in that shitty little cafe?”

Eve tries to think back, recalling how nervous she was, how she very nearly didn’t show up to meet Villanelle at all, how she knew that Villanelle was going to be trouble straight away but did nothing to stop it.

“Yes,” says Eve, with a nod.

“You surprised me a lot,” admits Villanelle. “I thought you would turn up and I would charm the shit out of you and it would be as easy as that. I didn’t expect any of this .”

Eve bites her tongue to stop herself from pointing out that Villanelle did manage to charm the shit out of her very easily, and instead deflects the attention back onto Villanelle and how she is feeling.

“Any of what?” asks Eve.

Villanelle smiles to herself, then replies, “I never planned to get attached.”

“And are you? Attached, I mean?”

Villanelle gives Eve a look, eyebrows half-raised and almost-but-not-quite rolling her eyes, as if Eve has just asked the dumbest question in the world.

“Eve.” says Villanelle, her voice a low purr that stirs something deep within Eve’s gut. “I think you know that I am.”

“You have an awful way of showing it.”

“I came back, didn’t I?”

Eve sighs and slumps back against a cushion. She really wishes it could be as simple as Villanelle is trying to make it out to be, that they could just put everything that has happened before behind them and start again with fresh minds. But Eve wonders if there is a tiny part of her brain that will always be a little bit distrustful of Villanelle’s motives, if she will spend the rest of their relationship, however long that may be, just waiting for Villanelle to slip up and betray her again. Doubt is not a solid foundation upon which to build something special.

As if sensing Eve’s hesitation, Villanelle speaks up again by saying, “Sometimes I don’t understand you at all. Like when you told me you were angry that I left London, so I came back for you. And you were still angry.”

“It’s not that…” starts Eve. She pauses, lets out a huff as she struggles to find the words to explain how she is feeling. “It doesn’t work like that.”

“Then how does it work?” demands Villanelle, and though she is raising her voice slightly for the first time since Eve’s arrival, she does not sound angry, but instead frustrated. “I came back for you, Eve. I’m risking my job, my freedom, maybe even my life to be here in London when it’s much safer to be abroad. I’m doing this for you .”

To emphasise her point, Villanelle reaches across and takes Eve’s hand in her own, giving her fingers a little squeeze. Eve drags her gaze up to meet Villanelle’s, desperately searching her face for some big clue that Villanelle has left her days of deception behind her and moved onto a life of honesty, at least with Eve.

“Don’t look at me like that,” pleads Villanelle.

“Like what?”

“Like I’m broken. I know I’m different, but it doesn’t mean that I’m any less capable of loving you.”

Eve keeps staring into Villanelle’s eyes, which are glossed over with emotion but still so full of warmth. Eve is waiting for the moment where Villanelle cracks, where she drops the sincerity and spits a loud ‘ HA! ’ in Eve’s face, as if she could ever love Eve.

It never comes.

“I think you love me too,” says Villanelle, after an eternity of silence has stretched out between them.

“I’m still hurting,” says Eve. “A lot. I can’t turn that pain off with a click of my fingers. You used me and lied to me, and then you just abandoned me, and that stings . But…”

But Eve wants to forgive Villanelle.

But Eve wants to put the past behind them and start over again.

But Eve could be capable of loving Villanelle too.

When Eve doesn’t finish her sentence, the possibility of what she might have been planning to say hanging in the air between them, Villanelle speaks up again.

“I spend so much of my life pretending and deceiving that sometimes I forget who I really am,” says Villanelle. She squeezes Eve’s fingers again and continues, “But Eve, when I’m with you, I know exactly who I am.”

“And who is that?” Eve dares to ask.

“Yours. Forever, if you’ll have me.” Villanelle goes quiet for a few seconds as Eve starts to process her words, then lets out a little snort as she adds, “Wow, that was a lot gayer than it sounded in my head.”

The moment is broken by Villanelle’s attempt at humour, but Eve finds herself a little bit relieved by that. As much as she appreciates Villanelle finally showing her some honesty, her brain feels frazzled from all the new information. It’s almost a comfort to see Villanelle revert back to her normal self, dropping Eve’s hand as she lunges for a fortune cookie in a red wrapper, the sincerity from just moments ago seemingly forgotten.

Villanelle tears into the plastic wrapper animalistically, ripping it clean in two pieces so that the fortune cookie drops into her lap. She discards the wrapper and snaps the cookie in half, popping one half into her mouth as she extracts the little slip of paper from inside the other half.

“Go on,” says Villanelle, crunching the cookie between her teeth as she talks. She gestures with a nod of her head at a second fortune cookie lying amongst the food on the table, and then says, “Open yours too.”

Eve does as she is told and picks up the second cookie, unwrapping it with not even half the amount of vigor that Villanelle used and snapping the cookie in two and lifting one half to her mouth. Beside her Villanelle crunches on her own like she hasn’t just eaten two helpings of takeaway food as she reads the writing on the little slip of paper that had been inside the cookie.

“Ha!” exclaims Villanelle, grinning gleefully at the fortune in her hand. She swallows the rest of her cookie, then reads aloud, “‘ The person you like desires you too .’ See, Eve? Even the cookie knows we belong together.”

“Oh, come off it,” groans Eve, learning across and snatching the little slip of paper out of Villanelle’s fingers. She’s half-expecting it to say something completely different, for Villanelle to have made that line up in an attempt to win Eve around, and is surprised when it reads exactly what Villanelle told her. “Oh.”

Oh ?” mimics Villanelle. “I promised you no more lies, didn’t I? And why would I lie about something as sacred as a fortune cookie?”

Eve rolls her eyes and finishes eating her cookie, unfurling her own fortune and flipping it the right way up so that she can read what it says.

The greatest risk of all is not taking one .

The greatest risk - is that supposed to mean Villanelle? Because trusting her again is a risk, to Eve’s heart and quite possibly her physical safety too. But Eve thinks that both options carry risks. Either she trusts Villanelle again and possibly ends up being betrayed and having her heart broken, or she doesn’t and she risks the rest of her life being the same monotonous existence it was before she met Villanelle.

Is that what the cookie is trying to tell her? That forfeiting her chance of happiness is the worst decision she could make, even when the alternative could cause so much damage.

Or it could not. Trusting Villanelle could be the best decision she makes in her entire life.

“What does yours say?” asks Villanelle, leaning closer as she tries to peer at Eve’s fortune.

“Nothing,” says Eve, crumpling it up in her fist before Villanelle can see the words written on the little slip of paper. 

“Not fair!” complains Villanelle, with a disgruntled pout. “You’ve seen mine.”

“I didn’t ask to see it!” protests Eve. “You read it aloud.”

“Come on, Eve,” pleads Villanelle, pushing herself up onto her knees and leaning across Eve’s body as she wraps her fingers around Eve’s wrist and attempts to pry Eve’s fingers open so that she can take the fortune. “No more secrets. That’s what we promised each other, right?”

“Get - off ,” grunts Eve, her words punctuated by a disgruntled huff as Villanelle practically clambers into Eve’s lap in an attempt to get what she wants. “It’s mine!”

There are a few seconds of half-hearted wrestling, during which Eve keeps her fist clenched tightly shut and refuses to concede to Villanelle. And then Eve is falling sideways, as if in slow motion, until she has rolled off the chaise longue and onto the floor. Her back is flat against the plush rug with her fist held above her head, Villanelle’s body half-draped across her own. Eve’s cheeks heat up, burning red hot with embarrassment as she realises what position they’ve ended up in, and all it would take is for Villanelle to angle her head down a few inches and…

Oh .

Villanelle does just that, and immediately stops in her struggles as she too seems to realise that she has somehow ended up on top of Eve with their faces just inches apart.

“Oh, I… uh…”

Eve has never seen Villanelle actually speechless before. Eve knows that Villanelle is thinking about kissing her because her gaze is trained on Eve’s mouth rather than her eyes, but she does not move at all, not her head so that their lips can touch nor does she move her body from on top of Eve’s and at this point, either one of those options would be preferable to this fucking limbo in which Eve is caught between what she thinks she wants and what she actually wants.

What she actually wants is…

Oh.

Villanelle is kissing her.

Except that Villanelle is not kissing Eve, but rather Eve is kissing Villanelle, because somewhere along the way in this confusing mess of ‘will-she-won’t-she’, Eve has become fed up of waiting and used the hand not clutching her crumpled up fortune to grab the back of Villanelle’s head and pull her mouth down to meet Eve’s. Villanelle’s lips collide with Eve’s with a little hmmph of surprise, but then she is kissing Eve back and one of her hands is clawing at the soft material of Eve’s shirt. 

It’s a leisurely kiss, lacking any urgency, as if the entire world around them has been put on pause while the slow slide of Eve’s lips against Villanelle’s consumes them both. It’s a homecoming, like getting into a favourite pair of pyjamas after a long day at work, like a home-cooked meal on a cold winter’s night. But it’s not boring like it used to be with Niko - Eve still feels that electric spark of unpredictability, like Villanelle could bite Eve’s lip and have them both naked with a snap of her fingers if she so wanted. Kissing Villanelle is safety and danger at the same time, like jumping out of a plane when the fuselage has caught fire - risky, but why would Eve not take the leap from the burning plane when the alternative is guaranteed to hurt her.

Villanelle slows the kiss right down until it stops, sweeping a few wild curls out of Eve’s face with her fingertips as she stares deep into Eve’s eyes and says, “I’m not going to hurt you again. I promise.”

Eve’s teeth dig into her lower lip and she shakes her head as much as she can with the restricted movements caused by Villanelle’s body atop her own.

“You can’t promise me that.”

Villanelle’s head falls forward until her forehead is leaning against Eve’s, and her eyelids flutter shut.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she says, her warm breath hitting Eve’s face as she exhales. “I want to take care of you. I want to love you. But not to hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you.”

“But you did,” Eve reminds her, her voice cracking. “You hurt me so much.”

Villanelle shifts so that her head lays on Eve’s shoulder, a leg draped across Eve’s hips and one hand coming up to tickle at the hairs just behind Eve’s ear.

“I’m really sorry about that,” Villanelle murmurs into Eve’s neck. There are a few seconds of silence, then Villanelle adds, “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said sorry and actually meant it.”

“How do you know that you mean it if it’s the first time?” asks Eve stretching an arm out and wrapping it around Villanelle’s back to hold her close, as she stares up at the high ceiling way above where they lie together on the rug.

Villanelle shrugs, and then says, “Because I get a weird twisty feeling in my chest when I think about you not forgiving me. Is that normal?” Villanelle lifts her head to look Eve in the eyes, an inquisitive frown on her face as she asks, “Should I see a doctor about it?”

“Yes, it’s normal,” says Eve, letting out a short burst of laughter as she pulls Villanelle’s head back down on her shoulder. “Don’t ruin this by trying to be funny.”

“I’m not trying to be funny,” whines Villanelle. “I’m genuinely concerned that there’s something wrong with me. I’m not used to this - to feeling things.” She lifts her head again, propping herself up on one elbow and fanning her face with her other hand as she asks, “Are you sure I’m not a bit pale?”

“You’re fine!” says Eve, rolling her eyes and giving Villanelle a playful slap on the arm. And then, while the mood is still lighthearted, Eve quickly asks, “Can I stay over?”

A slow smirk spreads across Villanelle’s face.

“Eve, you know you don’t have to ask.”

“I just ... let me be clear that I’m not going to have sex with you tonight.”

The smile falls from Villanelle’s face but is not replaced by disappointment. Instead she just nods with sincerity.

“I know,” says Villanelle.

“I want to wake up with you and see how I feel in the morning, if that makes sense?” Eve attempts to explain.

“You don’t want to let me out of your sight in case I run away?” teases Villanelle.

Eve rolls her eyes again and then answers sarcastically, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Villanelle nestles against Eve’s shoulder again, fingers tracing a mindless path up and down Eve’s side through the material of her shirt.

“You can stay as long as you want,” she says to Eve.


When Eve wakes up, she feels safe.

It takes a few seconds for her brain to catch up, but she quickly realises that the weight around her waist and the warmth pressed against her back is Villanelle’s. Their legs are tangled together beneath the covers, as if they have tried to morph into one person during the night, but it’s comforting to wake up in Villanelle’s arms like this, after so many nights of restlessness and discomfort in her own bed.

Eve doesn’t yet know what the future holds, but she wouldn’t be entirely opposed to more mornings like this.

She shuffled backwards into Villanelle’s embrace, pressuring her ass into the curve of Villanelle’s hips and letting out a content hum as Villanelle’s arm tightens around her.

“Morning,” comes Villanelle’s husky voice from behind Eve, before a pair of lips press a soft kiss to Eve’s shoulder. “How did you sleep?”

“Really well,” admits Eve.

Eve can hear the smile in Villanelle’s voice as she replies, “So did I. You are a very nice little spoon.”

Eve slowly rolls over in Villanelle’s arms, and her breath catches in her throat when she realises that Villanelle, despite her slightly heavy eyelids and her hair sticky out in an odd tuft where she has slept on it, still looks like an absolutely goddess in the morning. She attempts to smooth down Villanelle’s wayward hair with the palm of her hand, then leans in to press her lips to Villanelle’s. Villanelle goes to meet Eve in a kiss, before turning her head at the last moment and wrinkling her face up in disgust.

“No offence, Eve, but you have really bad morning breath.”

“Shut up,” groans Eve, rolling onto her back and flinging an arm across her face in embarrassment.

Villanelle’s arm that is still around her gives Eve a little squeeze, before she sits up in bed and climbs out from under the covers. Eve watches as Villanelle crosses the bedroom and rummages around in the closet for some clothes - a pair of dark tailored pants and an expensive looking turtleneck jumper, because god forbid Villanelle be seen in anything even remotely high street.

“I will get us breakfast to show you what an excellent girlfriend I could be,” Villanelle announces as she strips off her pyjamas and dresses quickly in the new outfit. She pulls the jumper over her head, then sits down in front of the large mirror above the dresser and runs her fingers through her hair in an attempt to make herself look like she hasn’t just woken up. “How do you take your coffee?”

“Black.”

“Coming right up,” says Villanelle. She stand up and crosses back over to the bed, then leans in and presses a quick kiss to Eve’s forehead. As she straightens up, she points a stern finger at Eve and adds, “Don’t move. I won’t be gone long.”

Eve holds her tongue to stop herself from making a comment about how she is not the one with a history of scarparing after spending the night together, because she is supposed to be trying to put that particular incident behind them, and instead focuses on admiring Villanelle’s ass in tight pants as she bends down to put on a pair of shoes, before leaving the bedroom entirely. 

She hears the front door open and shut, and then the apartment is blissfully silent. Eve rolls over into the space left by Villanelle in the bed, the outline of Villanelle’s body on the sheets still warm and the pillow smelling of her scented shampoo, letting out a content hum as she drifts into the state of conscious between being asleep and awake.

Eve is snapped out of blurry half-dreams an indeterminable amount of time later by a sharp tap on the front door. Eve lurches upright at the sound, unsure exactly how long she has been dozing. The knock on the door sounds again, louder and clearer now that Eve is no longer half-asleep, and she hastily rolls out of bed.

“I’m coming,” Eve calls out.

It must be Villanelle returning with breakfast and coffee, Eve decides, hurrying to the front door without bothering to put on anything more than the oversized t-shirt she borrowed from Villanelle last night to sleep in. She must have forgotten her key when she left. 

Eve rubs at her tired eyes with one hand as she reaches for the latch on the door with the other, unlocking it with a flick and pulling the door wide open.

It’s not Villanelle.

“Oh. Eve. Hello.”

Eve is unable to form a response. She had been so certain that she would open the door to find Villanelle grinning at her, coffee in one hand and a paper bag carrying pastries in the other, that she is completely taken aback by the presence of Carolyn Martens in the hall outside Villanelle’s apartment. So dazed is she by the appearance of her boss, that Eve’s first thought is that she must still be asleep, that her content dreams of soft kisses and morning cuddles have morphed into the strangest nightmare where Carolyn catches her in the very last place she is supposed to be right now.

“Carolyn?” Eve eventually manages to choke out, after an extended silence. “How did you know I would be here?”

“I didn’t,” answers Carolyn, neither her voice nor her face betraying even a hint of emotion. 

Eve frowns in confusion, not quite understanding what Carolyn means, but she doesn’t get the chance to question it because another person steps into view behind Carolyn. He is a white-haired man in his fifties, with thick facial hair and a stocky build wrapped up in a dark duffle coat. Eve doesn’t recognise him but he gives her a sheepish smile and a half-hearted wave, as if he knows exactly who she is.

“Eve, this is an old friend of mine, Konstantin Vasiliev,” explains Carolyn. “I believe you two have spoken several times on the phone.”

Konstantin? As in Villanelle’s Konstantin? But why would Villanelle’s Konstantin be showing up with Carolyn? And come to think of it, why would Carolyn Martens be showing up at Villanelle’s apartment at all ?

“Hello, Eve,” says Konstantin.

His accent is jarringly familiar. This is Villanelle’s Konstantin. But if Villanelle’s Konstantin is somehow also Carolyn’s Konstantin, then...

“Pick your jaw up from the floor, Eve,” says Carolyn, striding past a dumbstruck Eve and entering the apartment. “We don’t have time for you to be surprised. Is Villanelle around?”

Chapter Text

After what feels like an eternity but is probably no longer than about ten seconds, Eve realises that she has been asked a question and remembers how to form words with her mouth.

“She just, um, she popped out,” answers Eve, as her brain struggles to catch up with what her eyes are seeing.

“Did she say how long she would be gone?” asks Carolyn.

“No.”

Still in a state of shock, Eve watches as Konstantin crosses over to one of the windows and peers out, as if looking for Villanelle on the street below. 

Carolyn hums in disappointment, and then says, “That’s rather inconvenient but I suppose we’ll have to wait.”

Konstantin chuckles, before he says, “It looks like you two had quite a lot of fun last night.”

For a moment, Eve doesn’t realise what he is talking about, but then he gestures at the takeaway cartons and dirty plates still out on the coffee table, then looks pointedly at Eve’s state of dress, or rather her lack of it. Eve’s cheeks burn with embarrassment as she realises that she’s answered the door to her boss, of all people, wearing just a t-shirt, completely forgetting that her bare legs are on show for all to see. She is grateful that she is at least wearing underwear beneath the t-shirt.

“It’s not…” Eve starts to protest. “We didn’t even…”

“It is none of my business if you did or didn’t,” says Konstantin, holding up his hands in defence. 

Gesturing over her shoulder with her thumb into the bedroom behind her, Eve asks, “Do you mind if I get dressed?”

“Be my guest,” says Carolyn.

Eve hurries back into the bedroom, pulling down the hem of the t-shirt to try and cover as much as possible as she moves, then picks up her clothing and enters the bathroom. Visiting Villanelle for the truth had been such an impulsive decision that she didn’t have the foresight to bring a change of clothes just in case she ended up spending the night, but Eve decides that giving herself a quick wash and putting yesterday’s clothes back on is better than rooting through Villanelle’s closet and picking out something that isn’t suited to her at all. And Eve doesn’t think she would be able to bear the inevitable smug expression that would appear on Villanelle’s face if she returned from her outing to find Eve dressed up in her clothing, especially not with Carolyn and Konstantin around as witnesses too.

When she leaves the bathroom a few minutes later, mercifully now dressed, Eve finds that nothing has changed while she was gone. The apartment is silent, Konstantin and Carolyn apparently comfortable enough in each other’s presence without finding the silence awkward. Konstantin ambles back and forth between two windows, hands buried in the pockets of his coat as he occasionally peers through the glass onto the street below, while Carolyn simply leans against the counter in the kitchen with her arms folded across her chest, impatiently staring at the door as she waits for Villanelle to return.

Those two might be able to stand the silence, but it chokes Eve.

“Did you have a good Christmas?” she eventually asks when the silence becomes too much, aiming her question at Carolyn but sparing a glance at Konstantin in case he wants to answer too.

“I did actually,” Carolyn answers curtly, and then falls quiet again.

“Good,” says Eve, unsure what else to say. She lets the silence hang between them, smothering the atmosphere in the apartment, before something else pops into her mind and she blurts out, “I heard about Kenny.”

Carolyn stares at Eve blankly, as if she has never met anybody called Kenny in her life.

“And Elena?” Eve eventually prompts her.

“Oh yes,” says Carolyn, finally recognising her son’s recent engagement with a nod of her head. “Excellent news.”

“You will need to buy a big hat for the wedding,” interjects Konstantin. 

“I think hatinators are rather in fashion these days,” replies Carolyn.

Konstantin lets out a sharp bark of laughter. 

“A hatinator ?” he asks incredulously, his Russian accent getting caught on the unfamiliar word. “Stop pulling my leg. That is not a real word.”

“I think you’ll find that it is,” counters Carolyn. “It’s not quite a hat but more than a fascinator.”

Eve can only watch as the conversation bounces between them, as familiar and meaningless as if they have had hundreds of other such conversations in the past. Eve’s confusion only deepens as she watches them interact - two people who, until ten minutes ago, she had no idea were acquainted with each other at all, least of all well enough to be bantering back and forth about headwear.

“A hatinator,” hums Konstantin thoughtfully. “That is very strange. I am always learning new things about English language.”

He looks at Eve as he makes this last comment, as if he is silently inviting her to join in with the conversation. Eve wishes that Villanelle would return soon so that she doesn’t have to endure this painful atmosphere for any longer than...

Eve’s head jerks up suddenly as her ears catch the sound of a key being slotted into the lock on the front door. She stands up to greet Villanelle, who is blissfully unaware of what she has walked into, holding a cardboard tray with two styrofoam coffee cups in one hand and a paper bag branded with the name of a local coffee shop in the other.

“I got us breakfa- oh.”

Villanelle stops mid-sentence when she notices Konstantin standing beside one of the windows. Her eyes widen and dart across to Eve, before she seems to spot Carolyn leaning against a kitchen counter out of the corner of her eye, and her surprise intensifies further.

Oh .”

To Villanelle’s credit, she only lets herself react to the two new visitors in her apartment for a couple of seconds, before the surprise slips from her face and she continues as if nothing has happened. Eve watches as Villanelle closes the front door behind her, then bypasses Carolyn entirely as if she isn’t even there as she places the food down on a countertop.

“If I’d known you were coming, I would have got you some breakfast too,” she says conversationally.

“How about we go out for breakfast?” suggests Carolyn. “We’ve all got a lot to talk about and I’d rather do it somewhere that…” Carolyn pauses and eyes up the spread of half-eaten Chinese food across the coffee table. “Well, somewhere that doesn’t smell like my son’s bedroom. I know a place near here that does an excellent full English. Their hash browns are something else entirely.”

“I think that sounds like a great idea, Carolyn,” says Konstantin. “You Brits have your flaws but breakfast food is not one of them. Right, Villanelle?”

Villanelle puts the breakfast she has already bought down on the kitchen counter and then shrugs, before she asks, “Is Eve allowed to come?”

Carolyn regards Eve with a gaze that is impossible to read, then says, “I don’t see why not. I expect that Eve will have a few questions that need answering.”

“Yes,” says Eve, finally speaking up for the first time since Villanelle re-entered the apartment. She stares right at Villanelle as she adds, “ Lots of questions.”

Villanelle’s eyes widen and she quickly interjects by saying, “I know I promised no more lies, but I want to remind you that there is a difference between lying and not telling the truth.”

“Is there?” asks Eve.

Villanelle pulls a face, then says, “In this situation, yes.”

Eve opens her mouth to say something in response but is cut off by Konstantin, who addresses Villanelle as Carolyn leads the way to the front door and opens it wide so that they can all leave the apartment.

“Villanelle, you are interested in fashion. Did you know there is a thing called a hatinator ?”

Villanelle shoots an apologetic face at Eve, her teeth digging into her lower lip as she shrugs, then answers Konstantin.

“A hatinator? I have not heard of those. Tell me more!”


The cafe is just a short walk away from Villanelle’s apartment. Within two minutes of stepping outside, Eve finds herself in possibly the most bizarre situation of her entire life, Carolyn opposite her and Villanelle in the seat to her right, waiting to find out what will happen next. She has so many questions that need answering, but doesn’t dare to ask a single one out of fear that as soon as she opens her mouth to speak, Carolyn will cut her off and reprimand her about everything that Eve has neglected to share about Villanelle over the last couple of weeks.

But Carolyn doesn’t seem like she is about to give Eve a thorough telling off. Instead, Carolyn peruses the menu like it is a case report that Eve has passed onto her, glasses perched on the edge of her nose and a concentrated frown on her face, as if she is looking for spelling errors rather than a breakfast option. Eve uses her own menu as a bit of a barrier, holding it up between herself and the other three long after the almond croissant listed in the pastry section has caught the attention of her growling stomach.

“I am very angry with you,” says Konstantin, eventually breaking the uncomfortable silence that hangs between the four of them, speaking in a voice that could not be less angry if he tried.

“We both know you are not,” counters Villanelle, turning her head to glance at Eve and rolling her eyes.

Eve breaks eye contact quickly, unwilling to get involved in whatever is going on between these two. As far as she is concerned, they can fight it out between themselves.

“I am,” insists Konstantin. “I told you not to leave Amsterdam until we were ready. I specifically told you not to return to London.”

Villanelle grimaces, as if to say oops . Eve doesn’t think she seems particularly sorry.

“And do you remember what I told you about Eve?” continues Konstantin.

Eve’s head jerks up to look at Konstantin when she hears her own name, suddenly interested in what these two have been saying about her behind her back. She is particularly interested in hearing what Villanelle has told Konstantin about her, whether it contradicts the declaration of love that Villanelle was so insistent upon sharing with Eve last night.

“Not particularly,” shrugs Villanelle, lounging back in her chair disinterestedly. 

Villanelle’s hand wanders across the table so that the tip of her pinky finger brushes across the back of Eve’s hand. Eve indulges her for half a second, before moving her hand away so that it rests in her lap, mindful of the fact that she is probably already in colossal amounts of trouble with Carolyn.

“I warned you not to get attached,” Konstantin reminds Villanelle. “I warned you that you were getting too obsessed with her.”

Villanelle leans towards Eve and says, with a grin on her face, “See, Eve? Even Konstantin can see how much I like you.”

“It is not a good thing!” shouts Konstantin, finally raising his voice and catching the attention of a few nearby diners as his fist slams down on the table with a heavy clunk of rattling cutlery.

Villanelle sinks down in her chair and folds her arms across her chest like a child who has been caught misbehaving in class by their teacher.

“Shall we order?” interjects Carolyn, putting down her menu and catching the attention of a nearby waiter. “We have a lot to discuss and I, for one, would rather not do this on an empty stomach.”

Eve’s stomach grumbles softly in agreement with Carolyn’s words.

“An almond croissant and a black coffee, please?” she asks the waiter, before sitting back in her seat to let the others place their own orders.

“I expect you’ve worked out what is going on here, Eve,” says Carolyn, once the waiter has collected in their menus and disappeared into the kitchen with their orders. 

“How can I possibly know what’s going on?” asks Eve, her voice laced with exasperation. “Nobody has told me anything.”

Villanelle reaches over with her hand to cover Eve’s, in full view of both Carolyn and Konstantin, and says, “You’re a smart woman, Eve. You must have your suspicions?”

Eve maintains eye contact with Villanelle for a few seconds, where Villanelle’s eyes are urging her to connect everything together into something that makes sense, then withdraws her hand from beneath Villanelle’s as she starts to speak.

“Carolyn knows Konstantin,” begins Eve, talking aloud as she processes the mess inside her brain. “Konstantin knows Villanelle. So Carolyn and Villanelle also know each other?”

Eve glances around at the other three and, when she receives nothing in response, not even a slight nod or a frown, assumes that she is correct and presses on.

“In which case, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to assume that you always knew it was Villanelle who killed Diego,” continues Eve. Addressing Carolyn, Eve asks, “Did you know it was going to happen before she did it?”

Once again, Carolyn does not respond.

Villanelle’s hand finds Eve’s leg under the table, giving her thigh an encouraging squeeze as she says, “You are so close to guessing the truth.”

Eve looks from Villanelle, whose eyes are bright in anticipation of Eve making a correct guess, to Konstantin, who glances away with guilt in his eyes, before finally resting on Carolyn. 

Carolyn gives nothing away. At this point, Eve is one hundred percent certain that Carolyn knew who Villanelle was as soon as Eve introduced them to each other at the bar during the Christmas party, which means she knew that Diego was going to die and that Eve was going to have to lose her job, and is it really that far out of the realm of possibility that perhaps Carolyn’s part in this is even more than just knowing about...

“No,” says Eve resolutely, as soon as the idea pops into her head. And really, it’s not as if the idea has just materialised in her mind - she’s had her suspicions since Carolyn unexpectedly showed up on Villanelle’s doorstep earlier this morning but pushed the thoughts aside out of respect for Carolyn’s integrity - but it’s only just starting to make sense as a concept. “ You hired her to kill Diego?”

There is another moment of silence, hanging between them like a stormy cloud waiting to empty its contents over the table, and then Carolyn finally speaks.

“Not me personally. The money came from within MI6. It’s virtually untraceable, by the way, in case you were thinking of whistleblowing.”

Eve’s eyes close and her head falls forwards, elbows propped up on the table as she rests her forehead against the heels of her hands.

“But you used your contacts to get the job done?”

Carolyn is silent again, which is enough of an answer for Eve.

Lifting her head and looking at Carolyn directly in the eyes, Eve’s forehead furrows into a deep frown as she asks, “But why?”

Carolyn removes her glasses and folds them carefully, placing them down on the table next to her knife, then rests her elbows on the table, hands clasped together in front of her with interlocking fingers

“The inner workings of MI6 are an incredibly complicated machine,” says Carolyn. “I doubt there is a single person who knows everything that goes on inside our organisation. Diego worked in a field-based role within a top secret disposals department, the existence of which very few people know about.”

“Disposal of what?” 

“People, Eve,” pipes up Villanelle, from the seat next to her. There is just the slightest trace of glee in her voice as she says it, and Eve is reminded of the fact that Villanelle is in the business of disposing of people too.

“He killed people for MI6?” asks Eve, eyes flirting between Villanelle and Carolyn, not quite believing what she hears. “Is that even legal?”

“Very little of what MI6 does is actually legal,” explains Carolyn. “There is not a single intelligence organisation in the world that doesn’t occasionally have the need to discreetly get rid of a person. That’s usually where somebody like Villanelle comes in. A freelancer with an untraceable paycheck who can be trusted to get the job done and then disappear like they never even existed.”

“And I am one of the best in the business,” boasts Villanelle.

Ignoring Villanelle’s brag, Carolyn goes on to explain, “Until recently, MI6 had two such assassins we hired when it became necessary to dispose of somebody. Diego, and a woman named Nadia.”

“Sweet Nadia,” says Villanelle, clutching a hand to her chest dramatically. “She was always too naive for this business.”

“Diego impressed us a lot. He was efficient and reliable.” Carolyn pauses for dramatic effect, and then continues, “Or so we thought. We made the mistake of making him a permanent employee, and within a few weeks he had gone rogue. We know he was still working for other people and when Nadia’s body was dragged out of the Thames a couple of months ago, we have every reason to believe that he was the one responsible.”

“So you hired Villanelle?”  asks Eve, incredulously, because even though she is not an expert, she is certain that there must be more obvious and moral ways of dealing with Diego’s misbehaviour than outright murder.

“Carolyn needed to get rid of Diego and also replace him. There are your two birds,” says Villanelle, pausing and gesturing to herself, wiggling her eyebrows at Eve as she adds, “I am a stylish and very professional stone.”

Vaguely, Eve remember Villanelle making a comment last night about the opportunity of further employment if her superiors were pleased with the way she handled Diego. Eve brushed it off at the time, but that was before she had any inkling that the superior in question was Carolyn and that the further employment would involve working for the same organisation as Eve.

“You’re hiring her permanently?” asks Eve, unable to stop the surprise from entering her voice as she addresses Carolyn.

“The deal was that if she impressed us with the way she got rid of Diego, we would consider taking her on as a disposals consultant. Not as a permanent member of staff - we won’t be making that mistake again, no matter how trustworthy Villanelle might prove herself to be - but our go-to assassin, as it would be.”

The waiter returns with their food at that exact moment and Eve has never been so happy to see an almond croissant in her life. It is perhaps the only thing still grounding Eve to normality, in this strange new world in which Carolyn Martens orders assassinations and Villanelle might become Eve’s goddamn colleague .

Eve waits until everybody else has been served their food too before she tucks in, tearing off the end of her crumbly pastry with her fingers and popping it into the hollow of her cheek.

“How did you know that I would hire an escort?” asks Eve, around a mouthful of croissant. It’s the one burning question that she forgot to ask Villanelle last night, how an assassination can have been planned so meticulously while relying on Eve to do something that is completely out of character. When the others are too busy swallowing mouthfuls of their own breakfast to answer straight away, Eve elaborates, “How did you know I would hire that escort?”

She emphasises her point by gesturing with a nod of her head in Villanelle’s direction.

“Well, you see, the thing is,” starts Carolyn, putting down her knife and fork and using a paper napkin to dab at her lips. “We didn’t. Actually, Eve, you rather got in the way. Quite pesky, really. In the end we just sort of -” Carolyn gestures vaguely with her hands, then concludes, “- went with it. Konstantin assured me that Villanelle is a professional.”

Villanelle makes a sort of ‘oops’ face, as three pairs of eyes fall on her.

“I feel like I should point out that I completed the job,” says Villanelle. “Very efficiently too, don’t you agree, Carolyn?” 

“There’s very little I can fault with your execution,” admits Carolyn.

Konstantin lets out a harsh bark of laughter, and he points at Carolyn with the hand not clutching a sausage sandwich oozing with brown sauce.

“Execution,” he repeats, chuckling to himself. “That is clever. Very punny.”

 Carolyn deadpans for a few seconds, then turns her attention to Villanelle.

“Let’s talk about what happens next,” she says.

“Wait, hold on a second,” interjects Eve, brandishing a piece of croissant as she gestures at Carolyn to get her attention again. “You can’t move on yet. You still haven’t explained a thing to me! How did you know I would hire Villanelle?”

“Hmm,” Carolyn hums disapprovingly. “Well, I wasn’t really planning on this being all about you, Eve.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be you,” says Villanelle, looking at Eve with the same honesty in her eyes that Eve saw for the first time last night. “Not originally.”

Eve shakes her head and says, “I still don’t follow.”

You weren’t supposed to be the person who invited me to the party,” explains Villanelle.

It still doesn’t make any sense to Eve - it’s like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle while wearing a blindfold and with one hand tied behind her back. Diego’s murder was far too professional of a hit to have been carried out with anything less than precision planning. But if the plan wasn’t supposed to include Eve, then that means somebody else was supposed to be the scapegoat instead, and Eve only knows one other person in attendance at the Christmas party who would think to hire an escort to be their date...

“Hugo?” asks Eve, knowing that she is correct before she even gets a nod of confirmation from Villanelle.

“It was quite straightforward, really,” says Carolyn. “We knew Hugo had a history of hiring escorts. We set up a profile for Villanelle on the websites of the biggest escort agency in London, which Hugo uses every time his father hosts a family event.”

“When he picked an escort, he gets a little call from me,” adds Konstantin. He puts down his sandwich and mines holding an imaginary phone to his ear, before continuing in a mocking voice, “‘Oh, I’m so sorry but the one you picked isn’t free that night. How about I offer you another girl instead?’”

Villanelle pushes the heels of her hands together and opens her hands out, resting her chin in the cradle of her palms in a picture of faux innocence.

“And then I charm him into hiring me again so I can get close to Diego,” Villanelle concludes their little story.

With this revelation, Eve feels … well, she actually feels a little bit offended that she was never supposed to be involved in this plot, which she realises is a bit of a weird emotion to be feeling about something that might have cost her job. The thought of Hugo going through everything that Eve has gone through - being charmed, seduced, and then betrayed by Villanelle - stirs a beast of jealousy from its slumber deep within her gut. She feels a surge of something else, possessiveness perhaps, and wonders whether she can take Villanelle to the vet and get her microchipped so there is no confusion about who she belongs to.

That particular line of thought scares Eve a little, because she is supposed to be taking things slowly and letting Villanelle prove that her feelings are genuine before she throws her heart out on the line again, not permanently claiming her as her own.

But it also clears things up in Eve’s mind too - namely, that she still has strong feelings for Villanelle that aren’t going to vanish just by closing her eyes and wishing for them to go away.

There is no way that Eve is letting a lech like Hugo anywhere near Villanelle. For the first time, Eve is actually quite relieved that things turned out the way that they did.

“And I came along and just happened to pick your assassin by accident?” she asks Carolyn, arching an incredulous eyebrow.

Villanelle puts down her fork and takes Eve’s hand again, squeezing her fingers gently as she asks, “Do you believe in destiny, Eve?”

“It was rather fortuitous in the end,” says Carolyn, before Eve can answer Villanelle’s question. “If we went ahead with the original ‘Hugo’ plan, we risked you recognising Villanelle at the party and drawing unnecessary attention to her.”

“I think Villanelle is quite good at drawing unnecessary attention to herself,” says Eve, thinking of the rented Porsche and Villanelle’s varied and eye-catching wardrobe. 

It’s not intended as an insult, nor is it a compliment, but Villanelle seems pleased with Eve’s accurate appraisal of her extravagant ways.

“I got your attention, didn’t I, Eve?” she says, her tone smug and her eyebrows raised in glee.

“Hmm, yes,” says Carolyn, regarding them both with mild disapproval. “We will need to discuss this little flirtationship at some point and what it means going forward.”

“Did you always know I was going to lose my job?” asks Eve, attempting to divert Carolyn’s attention away from the fondness she holds for Villanelle.

“Unfortunate collateral damage,” answers Carolyn, with an indifferent shrug. “Had it been Hugo, the story would have been quite different. Hugo’s father and I go back a long way. He was a slimy little git in the year below me at Christ Church - not too unlike his son, to be frank - but he’s well connected and would have pulled some strings to sweep the whole affair under the carpet. Luckily for Hugo, being rich, white, and male has its perks.”

Eve has to admit that it is rather clever of Carolyn to make her scapegoat somebody who has never had to face up to a single consequence in his entire life due to the privilege of his own birth, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it wasn’t Hugo who ended up taking the blame for this with some tiny blip on his employment record that would soon be overlooked, but Eve, who has faced suspension and scorn from even those closest to her.

“But I’m none of those things,” protests Eve, leaning her elbows on the table as she glares angrily at Carolyn. “Did you just decide I wasn’t worth keeping around?”

“Oh, Eve,” chuckles Carolyn, exchanging a humoured glance with Konstantin. “You don’t think your job was ever actually  at risk, do you?”

Eve feels humiliated by the way that Carolyn scorns her, a furious blush rising to her cheeks. How was she supposed to know any of this? Eve doesn’t remember there even being any lines for her to read between. Was she supposed to look into a magical crystal ball after Carolyn suspended her from work and just know that it was only for show to mask the fact that it was actually Carolyn who orchestrated this entire fiasco?

“You suspended me,” Eve points out, her teeth clenched as she tries to keep her emotions under control to avoid exploding at Carolyn and losing her job for real this time.

“I followed protocol,” counters Carolyn. “Villanelle did rather an excellent job of dealing with Diego. All the investigative team have to go on is the name Julie and a few grainy CCTV shots. Villanelle is virtually untraceable, thanks in large part to your own naivety Eve, and even if they did find her, the timing was so perfect that there’s no proof that it was her that poisoned Diego’s drink.”

Beside her, Eve can feel Villanelle’s ego swelling with each word that Carolyn says about her work.

“You flatter me, Carolyn,” says Villanelle, her voice as smooth as liquid gold. She turns to Konstantin, then says in a much harsher voice, “Why don’t you ever compliment me like this?”

Konstantin holds up a hand, sticky with brown sauce, in apology.

“I told you I was proud of you, didn’t I?”

“Yes,” says Villanelle, “but Carolyn thinks I’m perfect .”

Eve can’t stand this, she can’t stand the way that Villanelle is praised as a hero when she has murdered somebody, while Eve is being made to feel like the fool when she has done nothing wrong at all. Well, very little wrong, and keeping a few little secrets from her boss is definitely not on the same scale as committing murder.

“Just to be clear, am I getting my job back?” Eve asks Carolyn.

“I’m expecting the investigators to conclude that there’s not enough evidence to continue within the next couple of days. It’ll be brushed aside before anybody can get their hands on the story and everything can go back to normal. You - and Villanelle - will be free to work for MI6 again.”

Villanelle nudges her knee against Eve’s below the table and she grins at Eve.

“How about that, Eve? Coworkers!”

It’s-

Well, to be quite honest, Eve can’t believe that Villanelle is being rewarded for her actions with employment prospects. Eve had been hoping that a hypothetical future between them would prove to be much quieter than previous weeks - full of repentance from Villanelle and fewer unexpected dead bodies. Eve can now see that it is unlikely to be the case.

But would Villanelle still be the same spontaneous, charismatic person with a flair for the dramatic if she was no longer assassinating people? Would it be completely unreasonable of Eve to offer Villanelle an ultimatum between Eve and her job?

And does Eve even want Villanelle to change at all?

Eve wonders whether she would be able to turn a blind eye to a spot of casual murder if it had no direct impact on her own life. Whether she and Villanelle would be able to start building a future together if Eve pretends that Villanelle’s “work trips” don’t result in somebody else losing their life.

Diego was a prick, right? Eve has heard accounts from multiple people who didn’t like him. And if the world is better off without Diego, then who is to say that Villanelle’s job isn’t actually a good thing? Maybe she is actually the hero in the situation, a brave soul willing to do the work that others won’t, ridding the world of one bad person at a time.

And, if that is the case, is it not Eve’s duty as a decent human being to support her in that?

Eve cannot believe that she , an employee of the British government, is trying to justify murder in her own mind.

The only thing harder for Eve to comprehend, is the fact that Carolyn apparently has both the need and the ability to order hits on people she dislikes.

“This still isn’t making sense,” says Eve, shaking her head. “You got rid of one unreliable egocentric psychopath by hiring another to take him out.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Eve sees Villanelle flinch at her choice of words, though she doesn’t say anything.

“Yes,” agrees Carolyn, “but as I explained, Diego became a liability.”

Eve can hardly repress a snort.

“And Villanelle’s not?”

“Shhh, Eve,” hisses Villanelle, leaning closer with a frown on her face. “This is my job interview.”

“We have leverage we can use to keep Villanelle in line,” explains Carolyn.

“What leverage?” asks Eve. When there is no immediate response, Eve realises what Carolyn is inferring. “Wait, me ?”

Carolyn half-shrugs in response, which is the only confirmation that Eve needs.

“No,” says Eve, shaking her head in defiance. “Absolutely not. I don’t agree to this.”

“Well, do you want a job or not?” asks Carolyn, exasperation creeping into her voice for the first time this morning. “Which is it, hmm?”

Eve is done with this. Carolyn may be her superior, but Eve is done with being used as Carolyn’s pawn, done with being used and manipulated by every person in her life. She is worth so much more than this.

With her fist clenched so tightly that her fingernails are digging red crescents into the palm of her hand, Eve tries to keep her cool as she says, “May I remind you that I have nearly twenty years of service in British Intelligence?”

“And may I remind you that you brought an assassin to our Christmas party where she murdered one of your colleagues?” counters Carolyn.

“Unintentionally!” says Eve, raising her voice. “This is gaslighting!”

“Villanelle has a unique skill set. You, on the other hand, are quite disposable.”

“Hey!” cries out Villanelle, moving to the very front edge of her chair as she half-leans across the table, snarling at Carolyn like a wild animal. “Don’t speak to Eve like that! You want me to behave myself, you need her, remember?”

Eve feels a rush of affection as Villanelle leaps to her defence. She has never wanted to be somebody else’s property, but she likes that Villanelle is a little possessive of Eve and is probably more than willing to kill for her. Eve likes that more than she probably should. In fact, it even turns her on a bit.

“You’re right,” Carolyn eventually agrees. She turns to Eve and adds, “Despite a very severe error of judgement, you have always been a valued member of your team. I apologise for suggesting otherwise.”

This is huge . In all her years working at MI6, Eve doesn’t remember ever hearing Carolyn give an apology. She must really want to keep Villanelle on her side.

Villanelle stews in her rage for a few seconds, glowering across the table at Carolyn, before she seems to finally accept Carolyn’s apology and relaxes. Her hand finds Eve’s across the table, interlocking their fingers in full view of Carolyn in a display of their unity.

Carolyn’s eyes wander to their linked hands, and the expression on her face dips into a deeper frown.

“What is this?” she asks, gesturing between the two of them. “Is it serious? A fling? A relationship?” She looks directly at Villanelle, before adding, “Is it going to affect your work going forward?”

“Eve knows what my feelings are towards her,” Villanelle answers elusively, a trace of coldness in her tone that suggests she maybe hasn’t accepted Carolyn’s apology for insulting Eve quote as readily as it first seemed.

“Eve?”

Eve glances across, first at the fingers that squeeze her own in encouragement, then up at Villanelle’s face. 

“Villanelle intrigues me,” Eve pauses, wondering just how honest she should be in front of Carolyn, then adds, “In lots of different ways but particularly on a personal level.”

There is a moment of silence, then Villanelle pipes up with, “I think that is Eve’s way of saying she likes me too.”

“Hmmm,” says Carolyn. “That does rather complicate things.” “Let me explain what is going to happen next. Eve, I don’t want you to return to your old job.”

“But that’s not fair! This whole thing was planned by you and I don’t think I should suff-”

Carolyn holds up a hand, cutting Eve off as she says, “Let me finish. I don’t want you to return to your old job because I want to offer you a new position.”

Momentarily stunned into silence, Eve blinks confusedly at Carolyn, then asks, “Doing what?”

“After the fiasco with Diego and Nadia, we will be restructuring the way our disposals unit works,” explains Carolyn. “Villanelle will carry out assignments whenever she is asked to, however she needs a manager. Somebody who can keep her in check.”

“Me?” gasps Eve, eyes widening in surprise. She can barely get her head around the concept of Villanelle being employed by MI6 at all, let alone in such close proximity with Eve.

Is it a promotion? A step sideways, perhaps? Eve doesn’t dislike her current job, but she has to admit that the main thing that gets her out of bed and into the office every day is the people she manages, rather than the continuous stream of uninspiring paperwork. Moving to this new team would definitely spice things up. Eve can’t imagine herself getting bored - not by the job and definitely not by working alongside Villanelle.

“The role would involve briefing and debriefing her on each assignment, a little bit of admin - false identities and so on - and covering up any indiscretions or messes left behind.”

“I don’t leave any mess behind,” says Villanelle, emphasising her point with a firm shake of her head.

“You are a show-off!” interjects Konstantin, speaking up for the first time in a while. “There is always a mess left behind! And it is very annoying for me when I have to clear it up! Remember the hairpin in Italy?”

Villanelle smiles, as if reminiscing about fond childhood memories rather than a murder she has apparently committed.

“How could I forget?”

“A mess ,” says Konstantin, enunciating each word carefully to emphasise his point.

“Sorry, but why me?” interjects Eve. “Why can’t Konstantin continue managing Villanelle? He has the experience.”

“MI6 can’t really hire a man who worked for the KGB for fifteen years,” explains Carolyn.

“Besides, I am thinking about retirement,” adds Konstantin, with a casual shrug. “I am far too old to keep chasing this one-” He jabs a finger at Villanelle and shoots her a wide-eyed look, “-around the world. I want to spend time with my family and go fishing and get a dog. Normal things.”

Villanelle leans across the table, reaching out with one arm and pinching Konstantin’s cheek between her finger and thumb.

“You will miss me though, won’t you?” she says, putting on a voice as if she is talking to a small child.

Konstantin swats Villanelle’s hand away with an incoherent grumble and glares at her for a few seconds, before he finally concedes, “Maybe a little bit.”

Villanelle shakes her head, clearly fighting off a grin as she says, “You sentimental old frog.”

“Don’t push it!” he warns her.

Turning her attention back to Carolyn’s job offer, Eve asks, “How do I know that you’re not just going to hire another assassin to take out the two of us when something goes wrong?”

“I suppose that you don’t,” answers Carolyn. “But that’s why I want you to be accountable for each other. Villanelle will become your direct responsibility and I have to trust that you won’t let her mess up in the same way Diego did.”

“I am very good at what I do,” says Villanelle. “You will want to keep me around. And you will not find anybody capable of killing me, even if you wanted to.”

Konstantin snorts and shoots Eve a look, as if to say good luck with her .

“So, what do you say, Eve?” asks Carolyn. “Will you take this new job?”

Eve only takes a moment to consider, her mind already going into overdrive with the possibilities.

“Okay. But I have some terms…”

Chapter Text

“Surprise!”

Eve has spent the last few days since having brunch with Carolyn, Villanelle and Konstantin wondering what would happen when she returned to MI6 to start her new role.

A heart attack was not on that list.

“Jesus Christ!” says Eve, clutching a hand to her chest to steady her racing heart. “You’re all going to kill me.”

As the shower of confetti that exploded across the room begins to settle, Eve takes in the sight in front of her. Her coworkers have decorated the office in honour of her return, a painted banner with ‘WELCOME BACK EVE’ hanging on one wall, as well as a few colourful balloons and streamers tied to various pieces of furniture. The entire team are lined up in the middle of the office, each holding a used confetti cannon in their hands, resulting in the mess of paper on the floor and caught in the curls of Eve’s hair. It’s probably going to take them longer to clean it all up than it took to prepare in the first place, but Eve appreciates the gesture immensely, particularly after a difficult few weeks where every aspect of her life has been hanging in limbo.

“Welcome back,” says Elena, the first to cross the office and wrap her arms around Eve. “We’ve missed you.”

“I missed you all too,” says Eve. Pulling back from Elena’s embrace, Eve looks her in the eye and asks, “But you do know I’m not staying, right?”

Elena frowns and says, “Carolyn told us you’re being moved to a new team.”

“That’s right,” says Eve, with a small nod. “I get my own private office on the same floor as Carolyn.”

“You’re leaving me here with Hugo.”

“Kenny will be here too,” points out Eve.

“I know, but Hugo ,” whines Elena.

Eve glances across at Hugo, who is now sprawled out in his office chair, red chino-wearing legs propped up on the surface of his desk. His hair is noticeably longer than it was when Eve last saw him a couple of weeks ago, his floppy curls almost getting in the way of his eyes, and his striped shirt has one too many buttons undone at the open collar to be workplace appropriate.

“I’ll only be upstairs,” says Eve sympathetically. “We can still meet up for lunch and you can complain about all the awful things he’s said.”

“I’m not going to let you back out of that promise!” replies Elena.

Eve crosses the office to get to her desk - her old desk, she realises with a hint of nostalgia - and drops down into the chair, surveying the mess in front of her with distaste. If she had known that there was a possibility of moving to a new office and having to work out which things are important enough to take with her, Eve would perhaps have organised her desk a bit better. She knows that most of it is useless, stationery that can easily be replaced, files that are no longer relevant to her new role, but there might be some stuff that is worth keeping. Besides, somebody is going to have to sort through this mess at some point.

Somebody…

Casting a quick glance across at Hugo, who appears to be scrolling through his twitter feed on his computer rather than actually doing any work, Eve hastily bundles all of the paperwork on her desk into one huge heap, clearing a lot of space, and rolls her desk chair over to Hugo’s desk.

“Sort this out, will you?” she asks him. “File anything that’s important, bin anything that’s not. Shred the confidential stuff that’s no longer needed.”

Hugo looks up from his computer with an expression of outrage on his face.

“Why me?”

“Sorry, do you have more important things you could be doing?” asks Eve, shooting a pointed glance at the social media page on Hugo’s screen.

Hugo looks across at Elena, as if expecting her to take his side, but she merely shrugs and says, “Do what she says.”

He rolls his eyes and Eve doesn’t even want to speculate about what is going through his mind - presumably something misogynistic, knowing Hugo - but he does at least pick up a stack of paper from the top of Eve’s pile and starts to flick through it half-heartedly.

“Thank you, by the way,” says Elena, as Eve rolls her chair back over to her own desk.

“For what?”

“Kenny says you told Carolyn that you’d only accept your new position if she put me in charge of this team,” explains Elena.

Eve shrugs as if it’s nothing and says, in a low voice so that Hugo can’t hear her, “Do you think I’d let her put him in charge?”

Elena considers this, before she nods in agreement and says, “Point taken. But it’s much appreciated. I’ve got a wedding to save up for and this payrise is definitely going to help.”

“Let me see the ring in person,” says Eve.

Elena offers out her left hand to Eve, the ring on her finger glittering, even in the poor light of the office. Eve admires the ring and the jewels embedded into it, leaning closer to Elena’s hand to get a proper look. The photos that Elena sent her don’t do it justice at all, and Eve finds herself internally praising Kenny for his taste in engagement rings.

“It’s beautiful,” Eve tells Elena, before calling out across the office, “Good job, Kenny!”

Kenny blushes, a light pink tint in his cheeks, and smiles an awkward thank you at Eve, before he returns his attention back to his computer.

“Hey, Eve, did you hear about Diego?” asks Hugo.

“Yep,” says Eve, as she begins to sort through the remaining mess on her old desk to work out what she wants to take with her to her new office and what is meaningless junk that can be left behind. 

“It’s mad, right?” pipes up Kenny. “Suicide?”

Eve tries not to make eye contact with the others, worried that by doing so, she might accidentally give away that she knows more than they do. Carolyn ended their impromptu brunch meeting the other day by explaining how Diego’s death would be written off to clear Eve and Villanelle of suspicion - that new information would suddenly come to light that was missed in the initial investigation that would point towards Diego poisoning his own drink in an act of suicide after one final night of fun at the Christmas party. Eve has to agree with Kenny’s assessment of the situation. It is mad, but Eve suspects that many of the higher-ups within MI6 will be delighted with a semi-reasonable explanation that will allow them to sweep aside the fact that one of their employees dropped dead publicly under suspicious circumstances.

“I heard they found kiddie porn on his home computer with the suicide note,” says Hugo, his eye alight with glee as he shares this new piece of gossip.

“I really doubt that’s true,” says Kenny, a sceptical frown on his face.

“It is, I’m telling you!” insists Hugo.

“I don’t think it adds up at all,” says Elena. “I mean, if you’re going to take your own life, why poison yourself at a Christmas party?”

Hugo gets up from his chair, a stack of papers ready to be filed in his hand, and says, “I guess some people like to always be the centre of attention, even in death.”

Eve has to suppress a snort at this comment, because the irony of Hugo calling somebody out for attention-seeking is just a little bit too funny.

“At least it puts you and Julie in the clear, right Eve?” says Kenny.

“Villanelle,” Eve corrects him, because Julie is nothing more than a distant memory now.

“Wait a second, didn’t she do a mysterious disappearing act right after Diego snuffed it?” asks Hugo, leaning against the filing cabinet with a confused frown on her face.

“Yeah, uh,” says Eve, feeling her cheeks starting to heat up as the story comes under scrutiny. “It turns out that one of her friends surprised her with a trip abroad. They spent Christmas in Amsterdam and she came back for the new year.”

“So you’ve seen her again?” asks Elena, eyes wide with surprise. “How come this is the first I’m hearing of this?”

Eve busies herself with her desk again to avoid having to make eye contact with any of the others. She can feel Elena’s eyes burning a hole into her skull as she picks up the two small potted cacti that live on her desk and places them carefully in the bottom of the small box she’s using to transport her belongings up to the new office.

“Because I don’t really know where I stand with her yet,” says Eve.

It’s the truth. After their honest conversation at Villanelle’s apartment the other night, Eve feels like there is at least the possibility of a future between them, but nothing has actually been agreed. Though she spent the night in Villanelle’s bed after their chat, Eve’s last interaction with Villanelle was at brunch, where she waited until Carolyn and Konstantin had left to tell Villanelle that she just needed a bit of space to think.

And thinking is pretty much all that Eve has done in the last two days. It’s a lot of new information to process all at once, revelations from both Villanelle and Carolyn keeping Eve’s mind active well into the dead of the night when she should be fast asleep. Eve still doesn’t know whether she can trust Villanelle fully, or if she would be stupid to even attempt that. But she does know that she wants to see Villanelle, that her heart aches for Villanelle in a way that it has never ached for another person before.

Apparently her heart aches so much for Villanelle that it’s obvious to others too, because Elena just stares at Eve with a dumbfounded expression on her face and says, “Shit, Eve, you really like this girl, don’t you?”

Eve’s shoulder twitch upwards in the tiniest of shrugs, and she answers, “I guess so.”

“I really don’t blame you,” adds Elena, surprising Eve as she had been expecting backlash from all her friends, but particularly Elena, as soon as they found out that Eve was still in contact with Villanelle. “She was charming as all hell every time I met her. Like I know she’s an escort, but I did actually really like her and the side that she brought out in you.”

Eve’s cheeks redden at Elena’s words.

“She’s not an escort anymore,” says Eve. “She’s getting a new job.”

“She’s doing that for you?” gasps Elena, her mouth falling open. “Girl, lock that down ! What are you waiting for? That’s wife material, Eve!”

Eve briefly wonders if Elena would be quite as enthusiastic about Villanelle being a permanent fixture in Eve’s life if she knew the full truth about Villanelle’s profession.

“One step at a time,” says Eve, in an attempt to calm Elena’s enthusiasm. 

“Okay, but we are absolutely going on a double date soon. Without Hugo this time.”


Getting her own office is not quite as exciting as Eve thought it might be. 

Of course, it’s nice to have her own space, and the absence of Hugo and his inappropriate comments is refreshing, but the room is small and on the wrong side of the building to have a nice view out over the River Thames. Instead, Eve can only see a towering block of flats and a Tesco Express from her window. 

Perhaps when Eve has settled in and given the room a bit of a personal touch, it will start to feel more like her own office.

“Hey, partner!”

Engrossed in trying to untangle the mess of wires so that she can connect her computer tower to the monitors on the desk, Eve jumps when she hears a voice in the doorway. She glances up from what she is doing, surprised to see Villanelle leaning casually against the doorframe, watching Eve with an amused smile on her face.

“Villanelle, what are you-?” Eve trails off and wheels her office chair a couple of feet to the side so that she can see Villanelle’s entire body unobstructed by the desk, and changes her question halfway through. “What are you wearing ?”

Villanelle steps into the office with her arms outstretched and spins around to give Eve the full three-sixty view of her outfit. Ever the fashionista, Villanelle wears an elegant two-piece pinstripe suit over a white shirt, a dark tie knotted nearly at the collar. Her hair is pushed back into a sleek bun and a pair of thick-rimmed glasses sit on her nose. Eve has never seen Villanelle in glasses before and knows that they must just be for show, along with the dark leather briefcase in Villanelle’s hand that completes the entire ensemble.

“This is my new work suit,” explains Villanelle. “I thought I should dress the part, now that I work in an office.”

“You don’t work in an office,” counters Eve. “Carolyn was very clear that you’re a field-based operative.”

Villanelle rolls her eyes and pouts as she crosses the office, placing her briefcase down on Eve’s desk and flicking open the catches. There is only one thing inside, further proving Eve’s theory that Villanelle is only dressed up like this because she has a flair for the dramatic, and Villanelle takes it out of the case. It is a small gift wrapped in unassuming brown paper and tied with a piece of string, the words ‘ Darling Eve ’ written on the paper in Villanelle’s loopy handwriting.

“For you,” says Villanelle, passing the gift across to Eve.

“What is this?” asks Eve, pulling at the string until the knot loosens and it falls away into Eve’s lap.

“A present, duh,” answers Villanelle. “This is what girlfriends do, they get each other gifts.”

As she rips at the paper covering the gift, Eve says, “I don’t think I ever agreed that we were - oh!”

Eve doesn’t know what she was expecting Villanelle to have gifted her, but she is surprised when she peels back the paper to reveal a silver photo frame. The photo inside is a selfie of the two of them taken on the day of Niko’s wedding, one that Villanelle had insisted on taking and setting as the wallpaper on Eve’s phone, claiming that it would help to sell their fake girlfriends story. Eve can’t help but smile at the memory of that day, of how much fun they had together despite the circumstances, of a whole day of flirting and teasing, only to end up making out in a bathroom away from the eyes of everybody they were supposed to be trying to fool.

So much has changed since that day, but Villanelle’s ability to keep Eve on her toes has not.

“For your desk,” says Villanelle, reaching out to pluck the photo frame from Eve’s hand and setting it up next to Eve’s computer. She turns back to Eve with a smile on her face and adds, “So you are always thinking about me when you’re at work.”

“That’s actually quite sweet,” admits Eve, deciding not to stroke Villanelle’s ego by pointing out that it will take far less than a framed photograph for Eve to be constantly thinking of Villanelle while she sits at this desk.

“There’s no need to sound so surprised, Eve,” says Villanelle, as she closes the gap between them and drops unannounced into Eve’s lap. Draping an arm around Eve’s shoulders and lifting her other hand to cup Eve’s cheek, Villanelle continues, “I am very romantic.”

She leans down and captures Eve’s mouth with her own, completely disarming Eve with how sudden it is but pulling away before Eve has the chance to react to it herself. 

With a wicked glint in her eyes, Villanelle asks, “Have you ever had sex at work before?”

Eve stops still, stunned by Villanelle’s question, then shakes her head, because the only person at work with whom that is even remotely a possibility is Hugo, and even that’s only because Hugo would shag anything that moves if he had the chance.

“I - no, of course I ha-”

“Would you like to?” asks Villanelle, interrupting before Eve can even finish answering the last question.

And god , it’s tempting. This is a private office, after all. A lockable private office, with one of only two keys currently sitting in the pocket of Eve’s jacket. It could be quick too, as Eve recalls from their previous encounters. Eve knows that Villanelle is capable of getting her off in a matter of minutes.

But this is about more than just sex and Eve vowed to herself that she would have a conversation with Villanelle before anything else.

“I really think we should talk about…”

The sound of a throat clearing cuts Eve off mid-sentence. She glances up and sees Carolyn standing in the office doorway, and Eve’s cheeks burn in shame at the predicament Carolyn has caught them in.

Not exactly the impression Eve was hoping to make on the first day in her new role.

Still, it could have been much worse...

“I’m not interrupting, am I?” asks Carolyn.

She must know full well that she is interrupting, but Eve is grateful for a way out before things escalate beyond what she is comfortable with in the workplace.

“No, not at all!” says Eve, coaxing Villanelle off her lap with a gentle nudge to her thigh.

“Excellent,” says Carolyn. “Would you both like to join me in my office?”

Eve stands up and goes to follow Carolyn out of the room and into the hallway beyond, but Villanelle’s fingers clasp around Eve’s wrist to hold her back.

“What were you about to say?” asks Villanelle, the muscles in her forehead visible in a pronounced frown.

Eve pauses for a second, long enough to lose her nerve, then answers, “Never mind. We can talk about it later.”

She follows Carolyn down the hallway, hearing Villanelle’s footsteps close behind her against the panelled wood flooring.

Eve has been in Carolyn’s office many times before. She regularly has to visit to drop off or collect files, on those occasions when she doesn’t send one of her team to do it in her place, and Eve has jittery memories of several performance appraisal meetings here. This is even the room where Carolyn told Eve that she would be replacing Bill as team leader when he announced his retirement. 

For Villanelle, however, this is presumably the first time she’s stepped foot inside the MI6 building at all, let alone Carolyn’s office. While Eve walks straight over to the middle of the spacious room and drops into one of the two upholstered leather chairs on the opposite side of the desk to Carolyn, Villanelle is much slower in her approach and wanders around the edge of the office, taking everything in. Her fingertips dance across the worn spines of the books on a shelf, then she skates past the large filing cabinets that fill most of one wall, finally stopping in front of a table that houses two thriving pot plants on either side of a Newton’s cradle model. Eve watches as Villanelle leans closer, peering curiously at the object, before she reaches out and pulls back the metal ball on the far right out, then lets it swing down and collide with the one next to it. The balls on each end of the row swing back and forth and Villanelle watches, as captivated by the movement as a cat chasing a laser pointer. 

“Villanelle!” barks Carolyn.

With lightning reflexes, Villanelle’s hand darts out and she catches the metal balls, putting an instant stop to their swinging. Her eyes wide in the picture of innocence, Villanelle turns her attention to where Carolyn sits, lounging back in her own chair as she waits for Villanelle to take a seat.

“Are you planning to join us?” 

Villanelle approaches obediently and drops into the empty chair next to Eve’s. She sits as if she is the one commanding the power in the room, rather than Carolyn, resting the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other and clasping her hands together in her lap as she waits for Carolyn to speak.

“Welcome, Villanelle,” says Carolyn, before she turns her attention to Eve and says, “And welcome back, Eve. Does your new office meet your standards?”

“I’m sure it’ll be great,” answers Eve.

“Excellent,” says Carolyn. She opens one of her desk drawers and pulls out an unmarked brown file, which she slides across the desk to Eve. “Your first assignment.”

Eve tentatively opens the folder and looks at the first page. At a quick glance, it appears to be a personnel file, but it’s the small photograph attached to the front sheet with a paperclip that catches Eve’s eye. It only hits Eve now, staring at a picture of a dark-haired man who doesn’t seem to even know that he has been photographed, let alone that somebody wants him dead, that the primary function of her new role is to ensure that people end up losing their lives. Eve feels a little bit nauseous as she realises that this man has to die and even though Eve isn’t the one to actually take his life, she’s the one who has to facilitate his death. In Eve’s mind, that will make her just as responsible.

“Let me see,” says Villanelle, leaning across so that she can peer at the file. She seems to examine it for just a fraction of a second, before she leans back in her chair and says, “This will be easy.”

“Easy?” exclaims Eve, thoroughly bewildered by Villanelle’s attitude to being asked to kill somebody.

“Yes,” says Villanelle, with a nod. “Because white men think they are invincible which makes them the easiest targets.”

Eve opens her mouth to say something in response, then promptly shuts it again when she realises that she can’t argue with Villanelle’s logic. Instead, Eve looks back up at Carolyn.

“You’re just throwing us straight in with an assignment?” asks Eve. “No training, or anything?”

Beside her, Villanelle snorts.

“Eve,” she says, reaching out to rest a hand on Eve’s forearm. “I am a professional. I do not need training on how to kill people.”

Trying not to think too hard about the implications of Villanelle’s words, Eve mumbles, “I was thinking more about myself.”

“Konstantin will be joining you on this mission,” Carolyn informs them.

“Konstantin?” asks Villanelle, rolling her eyes melodramatically. “I thought he was retiring. We have no use for him.”

“Think of it as part of the handover process,” explains Carolyn. “Eve, you are the one in charge but Konstantin will be there to advise. He does, after all, have experience of handling Villanelle.”

Handling Villanelle ,” sneers Villanelle, mocking Carolyn’s words under her breath. “Konstantin does not handle me. If anything, I handle Konstantin .”

“You’ll find everything you need in the file,” says Carolyn, ignoring Villanelle’s last remark. “Information about the target, your expenses, and so on.”

Eve closes the file. The soon-to-be victim’s face is too much for her to look at right now.

As if sensing that something isn’t sitting quite right with Eve, Villanelle’s hand darts out and rests on Eve’s arm again, giving her a reassuring squeeze..

“Eve? Is everything okay?”

“This man is going to die. You’re going to kill him.”

“He probably deserves it,” says Villanelle, plucking the file from Eve’s hand and opening it in her own lap. She flicks through it casually, as if reading a newspaper. Stopping on a particular page, Villanelle tilts it towards Eve and says, “Look! Human trafficking. Animal abuse. Suspected paedophilia. Eve, this is a really shitty man. We are actually doing the world a huge favour.”

“We have no issues then?” asks Carolyn, looking directly at Eve as she speaks.

Eve hesitates for a moment, then shakes her head.

“No,” she answers. “No problems.”

“Excellent,” says Carolyn. “I’ll leave the pair of you to it, then.”

It’s as obvious an invitation to leave as they’re going to get from Carolyn. Eve slides her chair back and gets to her feet, taking the file from Villanelle’s hands, closing it and tucking it under her arm as she walks toward the door.

“Oh, and Villanelle?” Carolyn speaks up once more just as Eve is about to reach for the handle to open the office door. Both Eve and Villanelle turn to look back, as Carolyn says, “I cannot highlight enough the importance of being discreet.”

“Discreet,” parrots back Villanelle. She shoots Carolyn a sly smile, before she adds, “Got it.” 

Eve leads the way out of Carolyn’s office and back down the hallway to her own, waiting until they are far out of Carolyn’s earshot before finally speaking to Villanelle.

“What are you doing tonight?”

Surprise momentarily crosses Villanelle’s face, eyebrows twitching in a movement that Eve would perhaps have missed if she were not hyperfixated on every detail of Villanelle’s expression.

“I don’t know, Eve,” answers Villanelle. She lowers her voice, mouth curling up into a roguish smile that still manages to disarm Eve, even after seeing it so many times. “What am I doing tonight?”

“Dinner?” suggests Eve, her heart doing an unwelcome little flip in her chest. “At mine?”

Villanelle tilts her head slightly to one side as she considers the idea, before she asks, “Like a date?”

Eve exhales, half laughter and half sigh of relief.

“Yeah,” she nods. “A date. Do you like spaghetti bolognese?”

The smile that spreads across Villanelle’s face is unlike one that Eve has seen before - not arrogant or cocky, not teasing or flirtatious, but almost shy .

“I would like that a lot.”

“Does seven o’clock sound good?” asks Eve.

“Seven o’clock sounds perfect, Eve.”

Chapter Text

Eve’s doorbell rings at exactly seven o’clock. 

Eve, naturally, is not at all ready for Villanelle’s arrival. 

“Shit! Fuck!”

Eve lunges for a nearby tea towel and wraps it around her hand to protect herself from burns as she grabs that handle of the bubbling pan of sauce and removes it from the stove. 

Surveying the chaos before her - unwashed dishes, spillages, food waste that hasn’t yet made it to the trash - Eve tries to figure out at what point things started to go wrong. She had such great intentions of cleaning the house, of cooking a nice meal for two, of getting herself all dolled up for her first official date night since divorcing Niko, and yet it still ended up like this.

At least the food should be semi-edible. One out of three isn’t a complete disaster.

The doorbell rings again and Eve glances quickly down at herself. She lets out a groan as she realises what she’s still wearing - the pair of cotton shorts and an oversized sweatshirt that she put on when she got home from work, underneath a tatty kitchen apron that definitely needs to be washed.

Realising that she doesn’t have time to get changed into anything decent, Eve hastily tears off the apron to make herself look at least a little bit more presentable, crumpling it up into a ball and tossing onto the kitchen counter next to the microwave, before she hurries out into the hall to answer the front door.

“Hi!” Eve exclaims breathlessly, as she swings open the front door.

As expected, Villanelle is standing on her doorstep, a bottle of red wine clutched in her hands and a cheerful smile on her face. This quickly morphs into surprise, eyes widening as she takes in Eve’s appearance.

“I feel overdressed,” says Villanelle, her gaze scanning down Eve’s body and lingering noticeably on the bare legs visible between the lower hem of Eve’s shorts and the fluffy slipper socks that cover her feet.

“No!” protests Eve. “I’m underdressed. I didn’t have time to get ready.”

Comparatively, Villanelle is probably overdressed, though Eve thinks this might be the most casual she’s ever seen Villanelle. She’s definitely never seen Villanelle wearing jeans before, though Villanelle still manages to make them look stylish. Her jeans are loose-fitting and end mid-calf, the cuffs rolled up a couple of times at the bottom, which Villanelle has paired with a patterned short-sleeved shirt with the top few buttons left undone so that the collar hangs open to reveal a tantalising glimpse of cleavage that Eve finds herself unable to tear her gaze away from. In fact, Eve realises that she can see the black edge of a lace bra and her eyes go wide…

“Eve, are you staring at my tits?”

With her cheeks flushed hot from the shame of being caught ogling Villanelle’s chest, Eve snatches her gaze away and shakes her head rapidly from side to side as she protests, “No!”

Villanelle steps into Eve’s house, kicking her shoes off by the door, before shooting Eve a sly smile.

“Shame. That’s the only reason I wore this shirt.”

Eve allows the front door to close and then it is just them, standing less than a metre from each other in the dimly lit hallway of Eve’s home.

“I should go upstairs and change,” says Eve, gesturing at the staircase, still embarrassed that Villanelle has seen her like this.

“Don’t,” says Villanelle, reaching out with one hand to cup Eve’s cheek, running the pad of her thumb across Eve’s cheekbone. “You are perfect as you are.”

“But it’s not very sexy.”

“You are always sexy to me, Eve. No matter what you’re wearing.” Villanelle pauses for a few seconds, then opens her mouth and starts to say, “Except for when…”

“If you make another comment about my coat, I will actually kill you,” interrupts Eve, shooting Villanelle a warning glare.

Villanelle hesitates as she considers what to say next, her eyes darting to the coat in question, which hangs on a hook next to the expensive designer one she gifted Eve for Christmas. The frown drops off Villanelle’s face and is replaced by a charming smile as she says, “We’re already reading each other’s minds. How cute!”

Eve leads the way into the kitchen and they make idle small talk as the food finishes cooking. Villanelle pours them each a glass of wine and fills Eve in on what she and Konstantin got up to in Amsterdam while supervising the bubbling pot of spaghetti, while Eve attempts to clean up some of the mess she’s created so that the room looks more like a kitchen and less like the site of a devastating natural disaster, telling Villanelle about her own Christmas in return.

“Oh, I forget to mention that Kenny and Elena got engaged!” blurts out Eve, as Villanelle turns off the heat and drains the spaghetti over the sink.

“They did? I liked them. They make a cute couple.”

Eve nods in agreement, then reaches into one of the cabinets to take out two dinner plates, which she places down on the bit of kitchen counter she managed to clear so that Villanelle can serve two portions of spaghetti.

“They really do.”

“I don’t have to get jealous that you’re going to hire another escort to be your plus one to their wedding, do I?” teased Villanelle, and though she plays it off like she’s just joking, Eve finds herself growing hot at the thought of Villanelle being possessive over her.

“I mean, they haven’t even set a date yet,” says Eve, deflecting away from the real implication of Villanelle’s question, which is that she wants to be Eve’s plus one.

Eve stirs the pot of bolognese sauce one final time, then ladles a generous portion on top of each serving of spaghetti.

“Bon appetit!” she declares as she drops the ladle into the sink on top of the ever growing pile of washing up.

Carrying her plate and her wine glass over to the table, Eve drops into her usual seat. Villanelle doesn’t choose to sit opposite Eve, but instead puts her own plate down next to Eve’s, so that she can sit closer around the circular table. The gesture makes Eve smile, which she masks by taking a sip of wine.

“So,” says Villanelle, as she uses her fork to mix the spaghetti around on the plate, coating it in the bolognese sauce. “Do you want to plan how I am going to kill that man?”

Eve watches as Villanelle plunges her fork into the centre of her pile of spaghetti and twists it around a few times before lifting a forkful that is surely far too much to be able to possibly fit into her mouth in one go. Yet Villanelle manages it, her cheeks bulging out and a few loose strands of spaghetti hanging over her chin.

Miraculously, Eve is still just as attracted to her.

“Actually, I’d rather not talk about work at all.”

Villanelle chews a few times, then swallows and sucks up the spaghetti hanging from her lips, then says, “Okay. Cool. What do you want to talk about instead?”

“You,” answers Eve, with a little shrug. “Us.”

Villanelle’s head tilts to the side fractionally, her curiosity piqued.

“Go on,” she drawls.

“Somehow, without me realising when, or why, or how, my life has become…” Eve trails off, pausing as she tries to find the right word to describe how she feels, realising quickly that there aren’t really the words to describe how she feels, “- entirely inconsequential without you.”

Villanelle puts down her cutlery and takes a quick swig of her drink. When she puts the glass down, her lips are stained slightly darker from the wine, and Eve watches Villanelle’s mouth move as she speaks slowly to get her Russian accent around the long words, “Entirely incons … inconse-”

“That’s my way of saying that I really like you,” interjects Eve.

Villanelle’s eyes drop momentarily as she laughs, before she looks back at Eve with an intensity in her dark pupils as she leans a little closer and says, “Yeah, I kind of guessed that already from the way that you keep staring at my lips.”

“I don’t keep…” Eve starts to protest, even as her gaze drops to Villanelle’s mouth once more. “But what I’m trying to get at is that I like you . Not just your body and your … your lips and the way you touch me. But you . The way you make me feel. The way you make me laugh. Your smile and your mannerisms and the way you talk. The way I feel when I’m with you.”

“And how do you feel when you’re with me?” asks Villanelle.

“Like I’m sitting in a car that’s just hurtled over the edge of an enormous cliff. And there’s rocks and … and, I don’t know, sharks and lava at the bottom, and god knows what else…”

“Sharks would not survive in lava,” interjects Villanelle, with a frown.

“I know,” agrees Eve, before she clarifies, “I just mean that I could be falling towards everything dangerous that exists in the world and it wouldn’t matter, because as long as I’ve got you in the passenger seat next to me, none of the scary things are actually scary.”

Bewilderment flashes through Villanelle’s eyes, but then she relaxes back in her chair and reaches an affectionate hand out to cover Eve’s.

“Eve,” Villanelle practically purrs. “That is the most romantic thing anybody has ever said to me. And also the weirdest .”

Eve blushes, then asks, “And you? How do you feel?”

Swallowing another mouthful of spaghetti, Villanelle shrugs and says, “I don’t have any analogies about cliffs and sharks.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

Villanelle gesticulates with the fork clutched in the fingers of one hand, then says, “I want to buy you nice things. I want to watch movies with you.” She hesitates for a fraction of a second and then adds, in a voice that is lower than before, “I want to have a lot of sex with you.”

“Wow,” says Eve, eyes widening in surprise at Villanelle’s complete lack of shame or subtlety.

Undeterred, Villanelle continues, “I want an old lady to see us together in public and tell us we make a cute couple. I want to cook spaghetti for you .”

“I think we can make those things happen,” says Eve, humming in agreement. “Except maybe the old lady thing because that’s weirdly specific.”

“Eve,” says Villanelle, lifting another spiralled forkful of spaghetti to her mouth, “you cannot talk to me about being weirdly specific after your story about driving off a cliff.”

“Point taken,” acknowledges Eve. “But can we agree on one thing? That we have a clear boundary between our work lives and our personal lives. If we disagree at home we don’t take it into our work and vice versa. I want this to work but I’m not naive enough to think it’ll be easy. We need to give ourselves the best chance of success.”

“Okay.”

Villanelle goes straight back to eating her spaghetti.

“You don’t have anything to add?” asks Eve.

Villanelle pauses, a frown on her face as she considers the question, before she answers, “I want to be with you, Eve, whatever it takes. I do have one question though.”

Eve's heart does an anxious flip in her chest.

“Go on.”

Villanelle lifts her chin and her hazel eyes meet Eve’s, the tiniest hint of a frown in the crease between her eyebrows.

“Do you have a problem with what I do for work?” asks Villanelle. “I’d rather you were honest if you do.”

Eve deliberately pauses to think before she gives her answer. It’s something that has consumed her mind over the last couple of days since hearing the full truth about Diego’s death over brunch and being offered her new role by Carolyn. Morally, Eve has her doubts. But she also knows that she should feel a lot uneasier about the situation than she actually does, which in itself is quite telling. Though Eve doesn’t trust Carolyn as far as she could throw her, she does believe that Carolyn will have a good reason for every assignment that she gives them, and that the world will be a better place without these people in it.

Eve might be foolish for having such a belief, but it’s the belief that caused her to accept the job when it was offered to her.

“I’m not one hundred percent okay with it,” admits Eve. “But I don’t have a problem with it. Anyway, it’s what we do for work now, isn’t it? We’re a team.”

“And you’re okay with that?” asks Villanelle, putting her fork down so that she can rest her hand on Eve’s thigh beneath the table, giving her leg a reassuring squeeze. “You’re okay with us working together and … and-”

Villanelle gestures vaguely between them in lieu of finishing her question.

“Eating spaghetti together?” jokes Eve. 

Villanelle narrows her eyes and leans closer, before she asks, “Is that a euphemism?”

“No. Maybe. I don’t know.”

Leaning back in her chair, Villanelle shoots Eve a smile and then says, “I like this. Thank you for cooking me dinner.”


Once they’ve finished eating, Eve takes one look at the mess in the kitchen and lets out a sigh.

“Just leave it,” Villanelle says to her, wrapping her arms around Eve from behind. She nuzzles her face against Eve’s neck, then murmurs against Eve’s skin in a way that has the hairs on Eve’s arms standing to attention, “Show me your bedroom?”

And because Eve has been thinking about kissing Villanelle since before she even showed up at Eve’s door, she complies, leading Villanelle by the hand up the stairs and into the bedroom. 

It all passes in a bit of a blur, the way that Villanelle pushes her up against the door and kisses her with authority, the hands that tug each item of clothing off Eve’s body and discard it onto the floor, but Villanelle’s kisses and touches are intoxicatingly distracting. Eve starts off trying to savour each moment, but when she remembers that there is no longer a time limit on her relationship with Villanelle, she realises that she can lose herself in the sensations because this is going to happen again and again and again.

There will be time to savour it later. Now, Eve just really needs Villanelle to fuck her.

The fact that Eve never had the chance to change into something more presentable earlier in the evening now rewards her as a blessing. Eve’s clothes are easy to take off, the lack of bra beneath her sweater means that Villanelle’s tongue finds her nipple with ease, and it seems that just minutes after entering the bedroom, Eve is on her back in the middle of the bed, knees spread and feet planted on the mattress for support, while Villanelle’s mouth goes to work between her legs.

“Oh god,” Eve manages to groan out, one of her hands finding its way to the back of Villanelle’s head so that she can tangle her fingers in Villanelle’s golden locks and keep that tongue exactly where she needs it.

Weeks of using only her own fingers and her imagination have not done any justice to Villanelle’s real skills. Eve had almost forgotten just how good it was the first time. Villanelle pours every ounce of devotion into eating Eve out, penning a love letter with the tip of her talented tongue against Eve’s clit.

It builds fast because how could it not? How could Eve not fall apart within mere minutes of Villanelle touching her?

“I’m so close,” Eve announces breathily, her hand tightening in Villanelle’s hair in a way that must be almost painful.

Not that Villanelle complains.

Instead, she wraps her lips around Eve’s clit and sucks one final time, before pulling away and wiping her lips as she crawls up Eve’s body.

Eve cannot even appreciate the view of Villanelle stalking towards her like a predator, cheeks flushed and mouth sticky with Eve’s arousal, because her entire body throbs with a burning ache for the pleasure that Villanelle has denied her.

“What are you doing?” Eve manages to choke out. “I need to … I was so close !”

“Sex isn’t all about the orgasm, Eve,” says Villanelle, as one of her hands finds its way between Eve’s legs and strokes lazily at the sensitive flesh, smearing the abundant wetness between Eve’s folds. “It’s about how you get there.”

Eve wants to protest and tell Villanelle that right now, in this particular moment, it most definitely is about the orgasm, but she doesn’t get the chance because Villanelle covers Eve’s mouth with her own in a hot open mouthed kiss. Eve sighs as she tastes herself on Villanelle’s lips, clawing at the back of Villanelle’s head again as kisses back hungrily. She bucks her hips up into Villanelle’s hand, desperate for more, and Villanelle indulges her, sliding her hand lower and slipping two fingers past Eve’s entrance easily.

“Don’t you dare stop this time,” Eve growls against Villanelle’s lips, rocking her hips in time with the movements of Villanelle’s hand.

Villanelle’s response comes in the form of an answering curl of her fingers, which draws a raspy moan from Eve’s throat.

Villanelle kneels over Eve and anchors the weight of her upper body on her free arm, allowing her to thrust the fingers of the other hand in and out of Eve with more vigour. Eve can feel it building up again and her eyes flutter shut. She grips Villanelle with one hand and the sheets below her with the other as her thighs start to quiver in anticipation of the impending orgasm. 

“Come on, Eve,” Villanelle purrs into her ear. “I want to hear you.”

And then, when Villanelle sinks her teeth into the skin where the column of Eve’s neck meets her bony shoulder, Eve’s back arches off the bed and she lets out an unfiltered cry into the bedroom as the force of the climax almost rips her in two.

Villanelle coaxes her through each shockwave with a curl of her fingers and a stream of whispered words into Eve’s ear, not that she is able to actually take any of them in with a brain that has turned to jelly from the pleasure.

“Wow,” Eve manages to eventually croak, when Villanelle slides her wet fingers out from between Eve’s legs and wipes them on the sheets an indefinite amount of time later. “I’ve thought about you doing that a lot over the last few weeks but that definitely exceeded all expectations.”

“I would love to revisit this whole thing of you thinking about me fucking you at a later date, but could you maybe get me off first?” asks Villanelle, straddling Eve’s lap fully to emphasise her point, a wet smear of arousal coating Eve’s belly in the process.

In her post-orgasmic bliss, Eve has the confidence to parrot Villanelle’s earlier words right back at her.

“Sex isn’t all about the orgasm, Villanelle…”

To show Eve exactly what she thinks of that comment, Villanelle’s strong fingers find Eve’s wrist and drags her hand down between her legs.

“I was just saying that to be a dick,” says Villanelle, before she starts riding Eve’s fingers. “Now fuck me.”


Later, when the only sounds are the pumping of Eve’s heart and the distant wail of a siren through the window that Villanelle cracked open at some point after their second orgasm each, they curl up against each other, warm and content. Villanelle is quiet, her breathing slow, but Eve knows that she is still awake from the hand that draws a path up and down Eve’s side with delicate fingers that brought her so much pleasure earlier in the night.

This is her life now, Eve realises, burying her face into the top of Villanelle’s hair and inhaling her scent. Villanelle is her life now. No more waiting around to see who makes which move next, no more waiting to see when Villanelle will betray her or run away next. They belong to each other now.

Villanelle’s thoughts have clearly travelled down a similar path because she says, in a hoarse voice, “Just to be clear, am I your real girlfriend now, not your fake one?”

A loud burst of laughter erupts from Eve’s throat and fills the otherwise still bedroom.

“Yes,” she tells Villanelle. “Yes, you’re my real girlfriend now.”

“Good, because all that uncertainty was really starting to make me lose my mind…”

Chapter Text

“You look really pretty today.”

Villanelle drops the comment casually as they enjoy a lazy continental breakfast in their hotel in Cologne. 

“Uh, thanks.”

Eve had wondered if this would get less interesting now that Villanelle is her girlfriend, whether they would lose the excitement now that Villanelle is no longer the forbidden fruit tempting Eve away from her old life. Though only three weeks since the first utterance of the word “girlfriend”, Eve is pleased that things are working well so far. She had been particularly worried about Villanelle losing interest in her - Villanelle has, after all, never been in a real relationship before. Yet Villanelle has proved her wrong in every way - if anything, her obsession with Eve seems to grow with each second they spend together.

Really pretty,” repeats Villanelle. “Gorgeous. Like, I cannot stop staring at your face. And your hair? Just, wow!”

The compliments are something that Eve doubts she will ever get used to. Niko used to tell her that she was beautiful, but Eve always felt that he did so because it was his husbandly duty to tell her so. Villanelle tells her that she’s beautiful because she truly believes it. Villanelle is completely unashamed about her feelings and Eve thinks that perhaps it is because she has never had a relationship before that she is so willing to give Eve everything. 

And Villanelle’s lack of shame extends into the bedroom too. Eve doesn’t remember ever having this much sex in her life. Three weeks in and Eve is pretty sure that Villanelle’s stamina is basically infinite, and while Eve is hardly going to complain about having incredible sex that only seems to keep getting better the more they practice, she is also very aware that she isn’t as young as Villanelle and her own stamina does have a limit. A limit that Villanelle is eager to test whenever possible.

Last night, for instance.

As Eve takes a sip from her very strong, very dark coffee, she makes a mental note to maybe not let Villanelle ravage her all night before their next assignment. They both need to have optimal levels of focus for this to go to plan.

Eve’s free hand instinctively goes to her neck, where she knows a dark purple bruise has already bloomed beneath the grey jumper she wears. Eve is going to be covering this one up for days.

“Your turtleneck is fooling nobody,” says Villanelle, smirking as her eyes track the movement of Eve’s hand. “I know what you’re trying to hide.” She leans across the table and whispers, in a low voice that almost has Eve thinking fuck the mission and dragging Villanelle back up to their hotel room, “I can’t wait to do it to you all over again tonight.”

“I am trying to eat!” protests Konstantin loudly, brandishing a slice of bread layered with thick slices of cheese and salami.

Eve’s cheeks burn red and she breaks from Villanelle’s intense gaze, turning her attention to her own breakfast. She almost feels sorry for Konstantin. Eve doubts that when he agreed to oversee Eve and Villanelle’s first assignment together, he prepared himself for the fact that he would also get a front row seat to the honeymoon period of their relationship.

“Konstantin, don’t you think that Eve looks pretty today?” Villanelle asks him, in a lyrical voice.

“I think that you are being extra annoying today,” counters Konstantin. He turns his attention to Eve, and says, “Good luck trying to handle her when she is in one of her annoying moods. Now that I won’t miss.”

“I can handle her,” says Eve, shooting Villanelle a look as if to say don’t you dare mess this up for us.

“Eve!” gasps Villanelle, as if what Eve has said is particularly scandalous. “Can you tone down the flirting? Poor Konstantin is trying to eat.”

“Yes, I am!” agrees Konstantin, glaring pointedly at Villanelle. “Why don’t you talk about your mission instead of each other? You know, Carolyn wants me to give her a report when we get back and at the moment neither of you are scoring high.”

“The mission,” says Eve, with a nod of agreement. She addresses Villanelle as she asks, “You know what you’re doing?”

“Eve,” says Villanelle, practically purring in a way that has Eve clenching her thighs together beneath the table. “This isn’t the first time I’ve killed.”

“I know,” says Eve. “But like Konstantin pointed out, this is our chance to prove that we can be successful together. We can’t afford to get this wrong.”

“And we won’t,” insists Villanelle. “I know the plan inside out. And I know everything there is to know about him.” Villanelle pauses, then adds, “His internet browsing history is horrifying. Such a dirty pervert. I’m looking forward to getting rid of this one. Trust me, I’m not going to mess it up.”

Eve settles back in her chair, takes another sip of coffee, and then says, “Good.”


Villanelle is excited.

There’s just something about killing that is incomparable to any other feeling. There are many benefits to Villanelle’s line of work - great pay, flexible hours, travel opportunities - but the exhilaration of actually taking a life is what really keeps Villanelle in the industry.

Some would say that it makes Villanelle a psychopath. Villanelle disagrees. She believes that this is what makes her more human than anybody else.

Today is different. Today is Eve’s first day in the field.

“He’s about a hundred yards ahead of you,” says Eve’s voice through the earpiece that is concealed by the dark wig that Villanelle wears over her own hair.

Of course Eve isn’t actually here with her. Eve is in a hotel room a few blocks away with Konstantin, carefully monitoring the whole thing on the network of CCTV cameras they’ve hacked into. Eve is her eye in the sky, no - her guardian angel.

“Yards? Use the metric system, Eve.”

“Metres,” Eve corrects herself. “A hundred metres. In the green sweater.”

Villanelle moves through the busy street and spots the target sitting outside a cafe just ahead of her.

Lukas Riegel is every bit as slimy in person as his personnel file made him out to be. He is middle-aged, slightly overweight, and his thinning blonde hair is slicked backwards with far too much hair product. The leather jacket he wears over his sweater is clearly a last-ditch attempt to cling onto his youth and he’s making no effort to conceal the flashy watch that peeks out from beneath his sleeve.

God, he’s going to be so easy to kill.

As Villanelle continues down the street towards the cafe where Riegel sits, she reaches into the right-hand pocket of her coat and pulls out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter.

“Make sure you’ve got the correct ones,” Eve’s voice warns her.

“I’m not stupid,” mutters Villanelle, knowing that the tiny microphone concealed in the lining of her coat will pick up her words and relay them into Eve’s headset.

“I know,” replies Eve tersely. “I’m just being careful.”

“You need to trust her,” comes Konstantin’s gruff voice.

“I do trust her!” says Eve.

Villanelle rolls her eyes and flicks open the box of cigarettes, taking one out and bringing it up to her mouth. With the cigarette caught between her lips, she shields the end with one hand and tries to light it with the lighter as she continues down the street.

It doesn’t catch, although Villanelle already knows that it won’t. She keeps up the act for a few more paces, then stops in frustration outside the cafe.

“Scheiße!” 

Lukas Riegel’s head jerks up at Villanelle’s sudden exclamation. She pretends not to notice him at first, then when she feels his eyes still watching her, lifts her head to make eye contact with him.

“Sorry,” she continues in German, holding up the lighter. “My lighter is broken.”

Riegel stares at her, his eyes lingering on her face for a few seconds, before scanning down the rest of her body. It takes all of Villanelle’s willpower not to knock him to the floor and gauge his eyes out with her thumbs.

Subtle, Villanelle reminds herself. Discreet. This needs to go exactly as planned.

Which is why Villanelle, knowing that her miniskirt and understated makeup make her appear younger than she actually is, dons her most innocent expression and takes a step towards him.

“Do you have a lighter I could borrow?”

And because Riegel underestimated her that moment he looked up and realised she was a woman, he just leers at her and reaches into his pocket for a lighter.

“Anything for a pretty girl like you.”

“What’s he saying?” Villanelle hears Eve ask Konstantin over the earpiece. “My German is rusty.”

“He called her a pretty lady,” explains Konstantin. “I think he is flirting with her.”

“Gross,” replies Eve. “Men are all pigs. No offence, Konstantin.”

Villanelle accepts the lighter from Riegel, trying not to let her face react to the obvious jealousy in Eve’s voice, which she loves , and uses it to light the cigarette between her lips.

“Thank you,” Villanelle says to Riegel, once the end of the cigarette flickers into life. She returns his lighter and tries not to cough as the rancid smell of the cigarette clouds her face, then flutters her eyelashes at him. “You’re my hero.”

“Great,” says Eve. “Now offer him a cigarette from the other packet.”

“She does not like to be micromanaged,” says Konstantin, his voice slightly muffled, and Villanelle realises that the greedy bastard must be eating while he supervises, despite only having had breakfast a couple of hours ago. “She will get angry at you very quickly if you keep telling her what to do. And when she is angry, she is naughty.”

Ignoring them both as they continue to bicker in her ear, Villanelle reaches into her coat pocket again - the left side this time, and pulls out a second packet of cigarettes. She flips open the lid and offers the box out to Riegel.

“Would you like one?” she asks him. “As a thank you?”

Riegel considers the offer for a couple of seconds, before a slow smile spreads across his face and he accepts one without questioning it. Villanelle watches with delight as he raises it to his lips and lights it.

“You know,” he says, sucking in a lungful of smoke and then letting it escape out of the side of his mouth, “there are other ways you could say thank you.”

His tone is disgustingly suggestive and his eyes roam down to her stockinged legs again. Villanelle only just manages to conceal a shudder, not even daring to imagine what horrible thoughts about her are going through his perverted little brain. If the circumstances were different - if she wasn’t in a public place, if she wasn’t trying to impress Carolyn with her discretion, if Eve’s career wasn’t also dependent on their success today - she would teach him a proper lesson, starting off by throwing him to the ground and stamping on his balls, then perhaps cave the back of his skull in with a heavy object until that nasty brain is splattered across the floor.

“Time to get out of there,” Eve warns her. “He’s already a dead man. You need to be far away when he collapses.”

Ignoring Eve and continuing her faux innocence act with Riegel, Villanelle makes herself a little bit nauseous by playing up to what he wants and asking him, “Really? Like what?”

Riegel clearly thinks he’s scored with her, if the stupid expression on his face is anything to go by. So arrogant and so incorrect. Villanelle is staring at his mouth not because she is flirting with him, but because she can’t believe that he was stupid enough to accept a cigarette from a complete stranger. The deadly toxin coating the stub of the cigarette she offered him will already have started being absorbed into his bloodstream through the skin of his lips.

“How about dinner tonight?” he asks her.

He’ll have been dead for hours by then. In fact, Villanelle gives it fifteen minutes at most before he collapses, by which time the cigarette will have burnt out and been discarded, and she will have disappeared back into the crowds of Cologne.

Not that Riegel knows that.

Rich white men are such idiots.

They’re also stupidly easy to seduce, which is why Villanelle glances down at her feet shyly and says, “Oh, I don’t know…”

“It’s my treat.”

“Villanelle, what are you doing?” hisses Eve’s voice. “Get out of there.”

“How can I say no?” Villanelle says to Riegel, ignoring Eve again.

“Where are you staying?” asks Riegel.

Villanelle reels off the name of a hotel on the opposite side of the city to the one that she’s actually booked into.

“I know it,” he says. “I’ll pick you up at seven…”

He trails off and looks at Villanelle expectantly, and it takes her a few seconds to realise that he’s asking for her name.

“Sabine.”

“Sabine,” he repeats. “A pretty name for a pretty girl. I look forward to seeing you again, Sabine.”

When Villanelle smiles at him just before she walks away, it is because she knows he is about to die. She knows that he won’t follow her and waits until she has weaved back into the crowd, another forgettable face on the streets of Cologne, before she lets the half-burned cigarette fall to the floor and the smile fall from her face.


It takes Villanelle less than five minutes from leaving the target smoking the poisoned cigarette to make it back to the hotel room. Eve watches the entire thing on the network of CCTV cameras and knows Villanelle will be with them again in a matter of seconds when she sees Villanelle enter the hotel lobby from the camera outside the bakery opposite.

“That was too easy,” says Villanelle, pulling off the dark wig in a single slick movement as she enters the hotel room and closes the door behind her.

“You spent too long talking to him,” Eve chastises her straight away. “I warned you earlier, the longer you spent talking to him, the more likely somebody else is to remember seeing you together.”

Villanelle pulls a face and flops down on the bed.

“Wow, Villanelle,” she says, mocking Eve’s accent in an overexaggerated manner. “Nice job. I’m so proud of you.”

“You could have blown the whole thing.”

“Except I didn’t,” argues Villanelle, sitting up again and staring at Eve with a clenched jaw. “If I walked away after giving him the cigarette he could have chased after me and made a scene. You know what men are like.” Villanelle glances across at Konstantin, who is busy tipping crisps into his open mouth, and adds, “No offence, Konstantin.”

Konstantin shrugs and replies, “None taken.”

Turning back to Eve, Villanelle continues, “So I let him flirt with me and yes, he asked me out, but he’s sitting there smoking his cigarette thinking he’s got a hot date tonight and doesn’t realise he’s about to drop dead.”

Eve opens her mouth to say something, then shuts it again when she realises that Villanelle has a very good point. But then Villanelle’s words actually register in her brain and she realises what Villanelle has just said.

“Wait, he asked you out?”

Eve’s limited understanding of the German language didn’t allow for much comprehension of Villanelle’s conversation with Lukas Riegel while it was happening, with only a couple of comments from Konstantin and the occasional German word that sounds just like its English counterpart to guide her.

Villanelle laughs under her breath and then, with a cocky smile, asks, “Are you jealous, Eve?”

“No,” answers Eve, perhaps a little too quickly.

“Don’t worry, I only have eyes for-”

Villanelle cuts off mid-sentence, and leans forward until she is perched right on the edge of the bed, frowning at something just past Eve’s shoulder.

“Eve!” she cries out, pointing a finger. “Look!”

Eve jumps, half-expecting to see something horrific behind her like an enormous spider about to pounce, but she follows Villanelle’s outstretched finger and realises that she is pointing to something on one of the computer screens still displaying CCTV from around this part of the city. When she realises what Villanelle is pointing at, she leans closer to the screen and watches as the image of Lukas Riegel collapses, one hand clutching his chest and the other desperately clawing at the chair he has just slid off.

“It worked,” comes Villanelle’s voice from right beside Eve, having come to stand at Eve’s side so that she can get a better view of Riegel’s death in glorious black and white. “We did it, Eve.”

There’s a hint of awe in her voice, as if she can’t quite believe that they’ve pulled it off, despite three weeks of careful planning and Villanelle’s pre-murder attitude that bordered on arrogance about how easy it would be for her to carry out.

Eve doesn’t really know how she feels about it, as she watches Riegel stop struggling and his lifeless body lays still on the floor. People start to crowd around him, rushing to his aid as soon as they realise that something isn’t right, but Eve knows it is too late. Lukas Riegel is dead and it’s because of them - not just Villanelle, but both of them. Eve thinks she should feel at least a tiny bit of remorse for the man who has just lost his life, but she doesn’t, nor does she feel a particular sense of achievement at a job well done. 

Until she looks up at Villanelle, that is.

Villanelle’s eyes are wide and she stares at the screen as if the image of Riegel lying dead on the paved street is solely responsible for giving her life. Eve has only seen this look in her eyes under one other circumstance - when they’re having sex.

The thought sends all of Eve’s blood south, and the ache that makes its presence known between her legs isn’t entirely unwelcome.

“Uh, Konstantin?” says Eve, unable to tear her eyes away from Villanelle’s face. “I think Villanelle and I can take it from here.”

Villanelle looks confused for all of about two seconds, before she seems to recognise the look in Eve’s eyes.

Oh. Yes. Eve is right.” Villanelle wanders over to Konstantin and pretty much manhandles him out of his chair and towards the door, before she continues, “Why don’t you go out and explore the city while you’re here? I hear the view from the top of the cathedral is amazing. And let’s be honest,” Villanelle pauses and prods Konstantin’s belly with her index finger, “you could do with climbing all those steps.”

Konstantin pauses with one hand in his bag of chips and then narrows his eyes, his gaze switching between Villanelle and Eve, and then back again.

“Are you trying to get rid of me so you can have sex?”

“Absolutely not!” says Villanelle, feigning outrage as she opens the door and gives Konstantin a little shove into the corridor outside. “That would be unprofessional! Now go take your perverted mind to a museum or something.”

Villanelle closes the door without allowing Konstantin to say another word to them, returning her attention to Eve with a wicked smile on her face.

“Are you turned on by the fact we just killed a man?” she asks.

Eve notes Villanelle’s use of the word “we”, even though she was the one to kill Riegel, but decides not to question it. There are, after all, much more pressing issues.

“Absolutely not,” says Eve, parroting Villanelle’s words to Konstantin back at her, even as she gets to her feet and pushes Villanelle’s coat off her shoulders as she steers Villanelle towards the large bed in the middle of the hotel room. “That would be unprofessional.”


Later, when they are both sated and showered, Villanelle takes Eve out for dinner to celebrate a successful mission.

“To us,” says Villanelle, raising her glass of champagne.

“To us,” repeats Eve, lifting her own glass and clinking it softly against Villanelle’s.

“And to dead perverts!”

“Villanelle!” hisses Eve, glancing around to check that nobody has overheard them. 

Luckily for them, one of the luxuries of dining in an expensive restaurant is privacy.

“I think we make a good team, don’t you agree, Eve?”

“I, uh…”

Eve trails off, because against all the odds, they do make a great team. Eve had been worried that working together would affect their personal relationship or vice versa, but today has proven that to be wrong. She wouldn’t have been able to get through today with anybody other than Villanelle, and Eve likes to think that she provides a similar grounding to reality for Villanelle too.

An excellent team. Partners in every sense of the word.

“Eve?” asks Villanelle, startling Eve out of her thoughts by reaching across the table and covering Eve’s hand with her own. “Is everything okay?”

Eve laughs to herself and then answers, “Yes. Everything is okay. More than okay. Much more.”

“You were gone for a few seconds,” says Villanelle, a curious frown on her face. “Stuck in your head.”

“I was just thinking,” confesses Eve. “I just find it strange to think that there was a time, not so long ago, that you weren’t in my life. Because now I can’t imagine you not being here. And I know it’s still only early, and that we’ve already had some pretty big ups and downs, but I’m glad we’re here.”

“Here in this particular restaurant, or…?”

Eve rolls her eyes and playfully slaps Villanelle’s hand.

“You know what I mean.”

Villanelle pauses for a few seconds, then says, “I always knew you would fall for my charm. I’m irresistible.”

“You’re an ass!” counters Eve.

Villanelle leans forward across the table, a wicked glint in her eyes.

“You love it.”

Eve squeezes Villanelle’s fingers, considering the words for a moment, then she finally concedes, “I do. I love it.”

Chapter Text

fifteen months later

“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a very warm welcome to your bride and groom, it’s Mr and Mrs Stowton!”

Eve gets to her feet and starts clapping along with the other wedding guests as the double doors at the end of the reception room swing open to reveal Kenny and Elena. Both wear smiles that fill their faces from cheek to cheek as they step into the room and walk arm-in-arm past all their friends and family to reach the head table at the opposite end of the room. As they pass, Elena makes eye contact with Eve and grins with yet more excitement, while Eve offers her a smile and a covert thumbs up in response.

Kenny, meanwhile, not wearing shorts for perhaps only the second time ever in Eve’s memory of knowing him, cannot keep his eyes off his bride. Eve hardly blames him. Elena looks gorgeous dressed all in white. Her dress is exquisite - a bodice that clings to her curves, delicate lace sleeves, and a skirt that trails out behind her as she walks.

“Daddy, is that a princess?”

Eve glances across the table at Bill’s daughter, now almost three years old and standing up on the chair between Bill and Keiko to get a good view as she watches Elena walk past, an expression of awe on her chubby face.

“She is today, sweetheart,” comes Bill’s reply.

As Kenny and Elena reach the head table and take their seats between Elena’s father and Carolyn, Eve follows suit and sits back down in her own chair again. She unfolds her napkin and places it carefully over her lap, then looks around at the people she’s been put on a table with and sighs with relief at the fact that she knows most of them. Eve gets on very well with Bill and Keiko, both of whom haven’t seen her for months while they’ve been off travelling and have much to catch up on, and Jess sits on Keiko’s other side with her husband and one-year-old son. The only other two people at this table are Hugo and his surprisingly male plus one.

Yet despite the abundance of friends around her, it is the empty seat beside Eve that seems to occupy most of the table. Eve’s eyes fall on the little placard that says ‘Villanelle’ in neat calligraphic font, then she spares another glance at the door, as if expecting Villanelle to burst through them with her usual flair for being the centre of attention.

No such thing happens.

“Trouble in paradise?” asks Hugo, from the other side of Villanelle’s empty chair. “Has she stood you up?”

“She’ll be here soon,” insists Eve.

Without Villanelle at her side, Eve takes the opportunity to catch up with Bill while they enjoy the starter and then the main course. Eve is appropriately vague about her work, earning a laugh from Bill when she tells him that she would have to kill him if she shared too much, deliberately not elaborating on the fact that the nature of Eve’s role means that she has the capacity to do just that.

In return, Bill tells her more tales of travelling with his wife and daughter, all about the trials and tribulations of potty training while on the road and the places they visited on the long journey back to London from the South of France.

“Tell Auntie Eve who you met in Disneyland,” Bill prompts his daughter.

The girl looks shyly at her father for reassurance, then says to Eve in a quiet voice, “Minnie Mouse.”

“Minnie Mouse?” repeats Eve, feigning dramatic surprise. “Wait, not the Minnie Mouse?”

Bill’s daughter giggles at Eve’s reaction.

“I am so sorry that I am late!”

Eve’s surprise is real this time as Villanelle finally drops into her empty seat, slightly out of breath.

“Hi, baby,” says Villanelle, pressing a quick kiss to Eve’s lips. “Traffic on the M1 was crazy. Overturned lorry.” 

“It’s fine, I’m glad you’re here now.” 

Spotting a little smear of dark red on Villanelle’s jaw, Eve picks up the napkin from her lap and reaches out to wipe at Villanelle’s skin before anybody else can pick up on it.

“What are you-?”

“You’ve got a little something,” Eve explains, rubbing at Villanelle’s jaw until she’s satisfied that the tiny flecks of blood have gone. She rolls the napkin up into a crumpled ball to conceal the evidence, then smiles at Villanelle and says, “Perfect.”

Villanelle, briefly smiles back, then looks down at her place at the table, empty where everyone else has a dessert. 

“You didn’t ask them to leave one for me just in case I showed up?” Villanelle asks, pouting at Eve in disappointment.

“I did,” counters Eve, “but after they had to take away your starter and main untouched, they weren’t too pleased about giving you a dessert too. You can have mine.”

Eve passes across her own plate, barely touched. 

“You’re amazing and I love you,” says Villanelle, diving in with her spoon before the plate even touches the tablecloth. After a few seconds of hastily wolfing down spoonfuls of ice cream and cake, Villanelle looks up with her cheeks full and says, “You must be Bill. Eve has talked about you a lot.”

Villanelle puts down her spoon and offers out a hand to Bill, which he shakes with a grin on his face.

“It’s very nice to finally meet you too!”

Eve reaches for her champagne flute and takes a sip, slightly worried that introducing Bill and Villanelle to each other will be something that she later regrets.

Sure enough, Bill proves her correct just moments later.

“So,” he says, leaning closer, a wicked glint in his eyes as he looks between Eve and Villanelle. “Will the next set of wedding bells be ringing for the two of you?”

Eve actually chokes on her champagne.

Villanelle quickly fills a glass tumbler with water from the bottle in the middle of the table and passes it across to Eve, who knocks it back gratefully.

“Oh, absolutely not,” Villanelle eventually answers Bill’s question. “The only good thing about a wedding is the massive cake.”

“What Villanelle means,” interjects Eve, “is that we don’t need a piece of paper to prove that we love each other. Anyway, I’ve already tried the whole marriage thing before and look how well that turned out.”

“Villanelle,” pipes up Hugo, from Villanelle’s other side. “While we’re on the subject of introductions, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend Rufus.”

Hugo’s plus one gives a jaunty little wave and Eve sprays champagne across the table from her mouth for the second time in as many minutes.

“Boyfriend?” she splutters. “You never told me he was your boyfriend!”

Hugo scoffs and says, “You didn’t think I’d bring any old platonic friend as my date to a wedding, did you?”

Eve eyes up Rufus now that she has this new piece of information. He’s remarkably similar to Hugo in the way that he presents himself, his curly hair blonde instead of Hugo’s brunette and his cheeks pink with a flush that Eve recognises as the telltale sign of somebody who probably has more money stashed away in a trust fund than she has earned in her entire life. His dress sense is similar to Hugo’s too, an expensive suit over a salmon pink shirt, and Eve spots the glimmer of a signet ring on the pinky finger of his left hand.

Now that she knows they are dating, Eve realises that Hugo and Rufus are probably a pretty good match for each other.

“There’s no need to look so surprised, Eve,” says Villanelle, lifting another spoonful of dessert to her mouth. “You don’t have a monopoly on bisexuality. Men can be bi too.”

“Yes, Eve,” agrees Hugo. “I’m outraged by your heteronormative assumptions.”

“Oh, piss off,” says Eve, rolling her eyes at the way Hugo and Villanelle playfully wind her up.

“I’m very happy for you, Hugo,” adds Villanelle. “You always had shit taste in women. What do you do, Rufus?”

“I’m a student designer at a local fashion house,” answers Rufus.

Predictably, Villanelle’s eyes brighten at this like a child who has just seen their pile of presents on their birthday.

“You do fashion? I think we will get along well. Who is your favourite designer?”


Much later, when the food has long been cleared away and Kenny and Elena have had their first dance, Eve finally gets the chance to speak to Villanelle alone.

“How was it?” asks Eve, as they watch the bustling dance floor, mostly filled with Elena’s vibrant extended family, from the edge of the room.

“How was what?” asks Villanelle.

“Seriously? The job.” Eve hesitates, then adds in a quieter voice, “The woman you killed this morning.”

“Oh, that. Good. Quick.” 

At first, Eve thought it was particularly cold of Carolyn to order the murder of a political hacker in Nottingham on the day of her son’s wedding, until she pointed out that it was probably best for everybody’s future safety if Villanelle was not present for the photographs after the ceremony earlier in the day. Eve knows that Carolyn is covering her own back more than anything else in case Villanelle gets compromised on a future assignment, but Eve agrees with the general principle.

Eve’s gaze falls on Carolyn, who sits on the other side of the room, sipping on a glass of whiskey and clearly not listening to a word that her daughter, who sits beside her, is currently saying.

“Do you think Carolyn gets off on this?”

“On what?” asks Villanelle, with a frown.

“On ordering you to take a woman’s life on the day of her own son’s wedding?” clarifies Eve. “Like, is it some kind of power trip?”

“Maybe,” answers Villanelle, with a small shrug. Abruptly changing the subject, Villanelle asks, “Hey, do you remember the first wedding we went to together?”

“Niko’s?”

“That was a fun day,” reminisces Villanelle. “You were lusting after me so bad.”

“I was not!” protests Eve.

“You were!”

“Was not!”

Villanelle falls unusually silent, leaving Eve to wallow in her memories of that day, almost eighteen months ago. The main thing she remembers from that day is the kisses they shared - the very public one for the sake of their pretend relationship, and the much more private later on.

Eve’s cheeks flush at the memory.

“Okay,” concedes Eve, remembering the way that she followed Villanelle into a lockable toilet stall and all but begged to be kissed. “Maybe I lusted after you a little bit.”

“Do you want to find a bathroom to make out in for old times sake?” asks Villanelle, in a voice that manages to completely drench Eve’s underwear.

Eve grabs Villanelle’s hand and starts to lead her away.

“I thought you would never ask.”