You’re so many things.
The on-brand chill of London whips at her cheeks, thin urban oxygen clawing its way through petrol emissions, pedestrian cigarettes and late dining carried over the bridge on the tail of a breeze. Stinging eyes and dry lips, but under the woolen layers of false security, Eve’s heart pumps a manic, fiery sheen of sweat over the furnace of her skin.
It doesn’t feel like either of them moves, but Villanelle is getting closer, Eve registers the rails of the bridge passing through the corner of her eye, and the barest thread of time simply ticks, ticks backward.
She doesn’t hear herself say it until a curious, uncertain furrow replaces the blown pupils and fearful optimism that had beamed across Villanelle’s bright, beautiful, stupid features. They’re just as they were, just before she’d instructed Eve to turn around, just before Eve had entertained and promptly rejected the notion that this may very well be the last time she ever sees that face.
“You knew I’d turn around.”
Villanelle turns her head no, shaking loose the swell of tears. “Just hoped.”
Even at full height she looks small, suddenly, at the mercy of her wild heart that just might beat its way right through her ribcage. Cages have never managed to hold Villanelle, anyway.
“You can’t stop wanting something by walking away from it,” Eve says, half to herself.
“There is another way.”
“Kill each other?”
Villanelle makes a face. “I really am a bad influence on you.”
Villanelle stares at her like Eve must already know, and of course, she does.
“Stay until you hate me.”
Eve chokes gracelessly on her next gulp of air, trying to process the candor. Leave it to Villanelle to transcend vulnerability entirely and leap straight to martyrdom.
Eve tries to smile. “Familiarity breeds contempt?”
Eve studies her, scanning for clues somewhere deep, somewhere beyond the uncountable layers Villanelle has allowed Eve to pierce, but to what end? It’s impossible to know how many remain.
Villanelle swallows hard. “So what now?”
“I’m not giving up on the Twelve,” Eve barrels forward, desperate for a change in topic. “They’ve taken everything from us, and maybe she’s right, maybe it’s impossible to take them out but I’m not going down without a fight, I don’t wanna spend the rest of my life scared, watching my back, wondering when it’s my turn and doing nothing—do you?!”
Villanelle shakes her head, trying to process, to connect. “What do you want from me?”
It’s quite a fair question, but Eve is floored. There’s no point in competing confessions, because Villanelle would win. She already has and she always will.
“I don’t know,” Eve says truthfully. “I’m just… tired of pushing you away. What’s the point?”
“You’d be safer.”
“Fuck safe. My safe train has sailed.”
“Trains don’t sail, my love.”
“Left the station. Whatever.”
My love, my love, my love—raging in echo over the walls of Eve’s consciousness, a glaring red siren held at bay only by two sets of locked eyes, one begging to pretend it didn’t happen and the other aching for assurance that it did.
“I can’t protect you,” Villanelle deadpans.
“I’m not asking you to.”
“What are you asking?”
“I…” Eve splutters, considering, as if it can be broken down to mere fucking words. “I don’t want you to not be in my life.”
“I think we should work together.”
Villanelle smiles. “What else?”
“I don’t want to go back.”
“Back to what?”
“Any of it.”
“So let’s go forward.”
Eve nods, vague and breathless. “Forward.”
Villanelle takes the plunge to close the distance, but not as Eve expects—because of course it isn’t. The flat, warm planes of their foreheads meet, time stops, and Eve swears she can feel their heartbeats fighting to escape in the small, heated stretch of contact.
Somewhere below, Eve finds her ten fingers linked with ten more, stronger and warmer, intertwining and untangling and reconnecting intuitively, a liquid dance over invisible water.
This was never supposed to feel right, and has never felt anything but.
Eve closes her eyes. “I don’t think I could ever hate you.”
“You’d be the first.”
“Okay,” Eve says, and kisses her.