Okay, so, contrary to what every-fucking-body seems to think, Daphne isn't a complete fucking idiot, okay? Sure she can be a little absent-minded, and yeah, she's a little ditzy and always has been, and yes, her favourite colour is pink and she likes shiny things and she's very girly, and so was Elle Woods and she went to Harvard and became a bitchin' lawyer, so everybody can just shove it up their ass, thank you very fucking much. She's unapologetically all of the above, and she's also intelligent and persuasive and has perfect recall. She's good at getting what she wants without having to resort to violence or dirty tricks. She's good at putting things together. She notices things.
Ever since she officially joined Ocean's Eight - and she coined that name too, so everyone can just suck on that - she's noticed a lot of things. It helps that the others have been giving her crash courses on how to become an effective criminal. Constance tells Daphne that she's already got strengths that suit the profession - people like her, people underestimate her, people look at her but don't really see. It's a start.
"Observation," Nine Ball tells her, tapping two fingers under one eye. "Most important thing if you want to get away with shit, because it gets you everywhere. When you observe, you see. You can make connections. You can figure out what you're seeing and what you're not. You see who's an ally, who's a threat, who's just going to get in the way. You see who would follow you to the end of the earth, who would sell you out for a buck. You can tell when people are lying and why. You see everything. All of us here, we got different specialties, but we got that one thing in common. And if you wanna run with us, you better start doing the same. Get some practice. Look around you. See. Observe. Figure people out."
So Daphne does. And who better to start with than her own team?
She notices Debbie and Lou first, because... to be perfectly fucking honest, it's like the proverbial Great Wall from space. It practically doesn't even count because everyone can see it. It's like watching a solar system or something along those lines. Debbie looks at Lou like she's the sun, like she's the one source of light in her world, like it could consume her, like it blinds her but she just won't look away. Debbie orbits around Lou, the centre of her entire fucking universe. And Lou - Lou burns brighter when Debbie's around. No, she burns brighter for Debbie, would go supernova for Debbie, follow her into the very last circle of hell and beyond.
Daphne knows there's a past there, which speaks for the depth of loyalty and devotion and love between them. She asks Tammy and Amita about it, and they don't give away a lot, because it's not their story to tell, but she knows enough. They're not dating. The entire concept of dating is wholly inadequate to describe what Debbie and Lou have. She's not even sure soulmates would cover it. They're just - them, really. And it would work, only they don't seem to get it, which, what? No, seriously - it takes Daphne just about thirty-six hours after she first meets Ocean's Eight to figure out that Debbie and Lou are ass-over-teakettle for each other, and then one week later the penny drops - that they are ass-over-teakettle but are also pining for each other like idiots, and neither of them dare to make the first move, and both of them are convinced that the other could never love their oh-so-damaged oh-so-criminal selves back, and seriously, are they twelve?
"Are you an actual idiot?" Daphne demands to Debbie's shocked face. "Like, are you an actual imbecile. No, I mean it, serious question. You really think you're not 'good enough' for Lou because you're a criminal? Newsflash, Ocean, so is she. So are all of us."
"Okay, don't flatter yourself," says Lou, who is listening from her corner and trying badly to pretend that she doesn't care. Her acting is shit. "Shut up," says Daphne, because she hasn't even started on Lou. "Christ Jesus, Debbie, you can plan the perfect heist in prison but you can't grow up and confess your undying love to the love of your life?" Oh god, Daphne can feel herself cringe and wilt at the garbage regency romance bullshit she's spouting, but maybe if she speaks Debbie's language she might actually get through to her. "Don't give me that shit about not having noticed the way Lou looks at you, Ocean, you're smarter than that and we all know it. Just get your shit together. And you," she says to Lou, pointing an accusing finger at her. "You couldn't have taken some initiative? None? Not at all?"
Lou's eyes are so soft and grossly sad that a lesser woman would probably melt on sight, but Daphne is not a lesser woman and she stays very firm. "You don't fuck with an Ocean," she says, quiet and a little broken, like she's been waiting years to say this, to even hear this, which is probably pretty close to the truth. "I didn't - I was scared."
"Jesus, Lou," Debbie and Daphne both say, but in very different tones. Debbie crosses the room in three steps and pulls Lou in and brings her lips to Lou's and okay, Daphne is getting the fuck out of there right fucking now, gotta go fast, she really doesn't want to see any of what's going to happen next thankyouverymuch.
It takes a little longer - okay, a lot longer - to figure out Amita and Constance. In her defence, the first few times Daphne was around the girls they were still orchestrating the endgame of the heist what with framing Claude Dickhead Becker and fencing the various jewels and her role in it was pretty monumental so there wasn't a lot of time to be poking her nose into her colleagues' love lives. And then everything finally settled down and they all booked it into the gorgeous beachfront apartment in Bali that Daphne bought with her share of the money - you're fucking welcome - and the others started figuring out their own shit, and Amita seemed to be pretty preoccupied with Tinder of all things. And Constance was busy perching on the sofa half the time enabling her in her quest to swipe right on all the ugly-ass guys within thirty miles, so forgive her if she didn't figure it out because apparently it took the two of them some time to get it too.
Amita first gets a hint when the twentieth guy she matches with on Tinder turns out to be a steaming sack of dog shit, and this one is homophobic to boot. She comes home incandescently angry with two tubs of Ben and Jerry's and rants about men and Daphne sighs and sits down with her for what she thinks is a long-overdue heart-to-heart. "Look, Amita, have you ever considered that you're looking for love in the wrong place?"
"First of all, you sound like my grandmother, tone that down," Amita says, digging into her tub for another generous helping of Cherry Garcia. "Also, where am I supposed to look, you tell me. I'm too old for the clubs and our profession isn't exactly conducive for dating and I'd rather take a life sentence than have my mother matchmake me with rabbit-fucking Arvin from back in Massachusetts, so."
"Okay, you're not in a good place, so I'm not going to follow up on the rabbit-fucking, but know that it hurts me to do so," Daphne says. "Please don't say you're too old for the clubs. Nine Ball would kill you. And who says our profession isn't conducive for dating? Debbie and Lou are dating. They're very happy together too. You could date a fellow criminal. You could date one of the others."
Amita snorts. "Debbie and Lou are different. I'm straight."
Daphne fixes her with a dead stare. She can't possibly be serious right now. Is she kidding? She has to be kidding. Amita wilts a little under her gaze. "I mean, I'm mostly straight."
"Amita," Daphne says, very slowly, because she still can't believe she's actually hearing this. She takes a few deep breaths, trying to stay calm - an effort, that. "Amita. Amita, absolutely nobody on this team is straight. Nobody. On. This. Team. Is. Straight."
Amita's eyes widen and her spoon stops its journey back into the tub of ice cream. "Wait, seriously? Even Constance?"
Ah-ha, Daphne fucking knew it. She shoots Amita a triumphant look. "So, Constance, huh?"
"No," Amita automatically replies, then pauses to think. "I mean, maybe?"
Daphne pinches the bridge of her nose and exhales as evenly as she can, feeling a migraine begin to settle. "Okay, here's what's going to happen. I'm going to get Nine Ball to put you on the list for some high-end daylight robbery restaurant and you're going to ask Constance out for dinner tonight, and if there isn't a sock on one of your doors by the end of the day, you can have ten grand from my share."
"You're on," Amita says, and ends up with a sock on her door. Daphne's share remains intact.
So that's four down, and after that Daphne really doesn't expect to see anything else because who in the hell would see Tammy and Nine Ball coming, I ask you, because Nine Ball is a high-rolling chain-smoking bad bitch and could literally kill all of them in their sleep. If her brain was a car, Daphne would bet on it for Formula One every year. Tammy, on the other hand, is a relatively soft-spoken - okay, softer than all of them - single mother and the only one of the eight of them who had a normal childhood and finds it incredibly easy to slip into the persona of a Normal Person. Yes, even Daphne and Rose, because even though they were civilians before the Toussaint heist, Shitty Families are a thing! But she digresses. She doesn't see it - not until they jet-set off to Vegas for a week and the two of them go out together for a night and don't come back until five in the morning and Daphne doesn't want to know what happened, she really doesn't - and after she sees it, she doesn't get it, until she does.
It's really just a hunch because Nine Ball is pretty reclusive - she's outspoken and fun and mischievous but she doesn't really let people in - and she's not that close to Tammy, but Daphne thinks it's the kids. Nine Ball doesn't let slip a lot about her life but they've met her sister once or twice since the heist, and they all know - how both of them have been alone for so long, and how Nine Ball's been taking care of Veronica since they were both just kids, and she's spent her whole life just trying to be the best big sister she can be. Tammy's alone, too, with her kid depending on her and her alone. They've both been alone until now, and Daphne thinks they'll always carry a bit of that loneliness with them, a bit of that need to be someone's protector, defender, provider, a bit of that needing the person who needs them just as much as they're needed.
Kindred spirits. Daphne gets that. She respects that. And unlike Debbie and Lou - thank God - Nine Ball and Tammy act on what they see once they see it instead of dancing around the elephant in the room. She notices the day the two of them get past the mutual interest and make it a thing. It's subtle, but when you know what you're looking for, it's practically a beacon. Daphne's eyes catch on the way their touches linger, and how Nine Ball's smile is softer, and how Tammy stands a little straighter when they're around each other, so on, and so forth.
For all of Nine Ball's talk about observation - god bless her soul - it takes her in turn a while to realise that Daphne knows. She makes her way into Daphne's room when she's picking her outfit one morning and drops herself into the giant beanbag Daphne got off Ebay for a steal and puts her feet up on Daphne's bed. "So, when did you find out about me and Tim Tam?"
"I didn't 'find out', I figured it out. Give me some credit," Daphne says. "And get your feet off my sheets."
Nine Ball takes her feet off Daphne's sheets. "You took the observing thing to heart, huh?"
Daphne puffs up a little with pride. "Of course I did. I'm a bad-ass criminal just like all of you, okay?"
Nine Ball snorts. "Oh yeah? So what's your excuse for not asking Rose out yet? Because homegirl really likes you, just saying, and it's obvious as fuck. Unless you haven't actually noticed?"
Daphne drops all the dresses she was considering, and Nine Ball laughs. "Oh, ha-ha, somebody needs to start looking at her own shit before snooping into ours, huh?"
But her eyes are sparkling and there's a grin on her face, and Daphne's face is burning as she scoops up all the fabric on the floor. Nine Ball pushes up off the beanbag and walks towards her door, patting her on the shoulder. "Wear the red one. And ask her on a date already."
"Fuck you," Daphne calls out of the door.
"Love ya too," Nine Ball answers, flipping her the bird on her way out.
And, okay, she hasn't noticed, swear to god, and she's willing to admit it because it would be way more embarrassing to pull a Lou and notice but not do shit about it because she's a pussy. Before this, she didn't notice the way Rose's gaze would sometimes linger and how she was way more reticent around Daphne than anybody else and how she would look so pained sometimes, and oh fuck, Daphne feels pretty shitty now, because she can't imagine being the only one left. She can't imagine looking around and realising everyone else in the team is all paired up and noticing, seeing, observing, like all of them do, and wanting, and thinking you won't be able to have it. Because shit, she's - it wasn't love at first sight or all that other stupid shit, but she's liked Rose since the start, okay? Even at their first meeting in the cafe, where she now knows that Rose was staring at Debbie and Lou blowing bubbles outside the window - honestly, are they twelve? - and all the way up until she figured out that they were playing her for a goddamn fool.
She gets having to be the one to ask. She gets that, even now, months after everything has settled down and Claude Becker is on his way to prison and they're all living their best lives together, she's still Number Eight. She was the one they used. She was the obstacle they didn't expect and the factor they didn't predict. She was the one who forced her way in and made herself a space in their lives, and she's one of them now, but that past will always be there. Honour among thieves is her life now, and she trusts them - she would trust all of them with anything, with all her worldly possessions, with her life itself - but if she didn't, they would understand. She has to be the one to ask, because Rose would never allow herself that luxury.
So she does. She wears the red dress - thank you, Nine Ball - and swans into Rose's room. "Okay, you, me, dinner tonight?"
And shit, Rose looks at her like - Jesus, like the world has stopped turning for a second. Looks at her like she looked at the Toussaint in their hotel suite the first time Daphne ever set eyes on it. Like the world rests on her, this one sentence. Nobody has ever looked at her like that, and Daphne thinks she never wants anyone else to.
"Is this a date?" Rose asks, cautious, like she is with everything in her life besides design, and Daphne grins. "You bet your ass."
Rose's smile could light up an entire fucking city, and she knows this is what she wants, what she's always wanted - the second-best decision she's ever made or ever will.
The first, of course, being joining Ocean's Eight to begin with, because Daphne Kluger's not a fucking idiot, thank you very much.