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The Binary Nature of Death

Chapter Text

She turns.

And Eve is waiting for her.

She can feel her own breathing. She can feel her chest swelling, and falling, the slow heavy thud of her heart.

Eve is waiting for her.

She didn’t leave.

Villanelle told her she could leave, did everything she could to allow her to leave, and then Eve stayed.

Villanelle can’t even hear the traffic any more. The bridge is empty, the late night strollers melting away into an insubstantial fog, because Eve has chosen her. Has she? Maybe. She has waited for her, at least.

Eve has refused to let whatever this is end, and that will be enough for now.

Her heart beats again, once, heavy.

Has her heart slowed down or has time slowed down?

This is how Villanelle had imagined it.

Her imagination has been modest. Not expecting too much, not dreaming too far. In her head, when she had imagined it, Eve hadn’t left. There was a tacit admission that Villanelle hadn’t ruined Eve’s life, and that Villanelle was welcome to stay. In some of her more feverish imaginations, they’d maybe smiled at each other, they had maybe found a mutual understanding. And then, and this bit Villanelle had considered carefully, they would find a way to go forward in a different direction. Re-set how they interacted. Something less frenetic than the ever revolving vengeance and inching forgiveness.

That’s the fantasy which has been keeping Villanelle awake at night. Just some kind of peace. Because as appealing as chaos is, it turns out it is hard to maintain that without getting some feelings involved.

But the fantasies are just fantasies, and the imaginings of an idle brain, an idle brain that can airbrush out inconvenient truths… those day dreams don’t come true. It’s never as good as she imagined, it never feels perfect enough, the truth never sharp enough, the justice never precise enough…

Reality has always been a poor second best, and no wonder Villanelle has been so bored all the time. Reality has been serving up nothing but duds, high hopes and then crashing collapses.

Until this time.

Because Eve is waiting for her.

Does she walk towards her now? Villanelle is helpless, none of her imaginations ever got this far, she always crashed and burned at the idea of Eve waiting for her. Acknowledging Villanelle as a welcome part of her life. But they've travelled so far so quickly. Villanelle can’t remember what it feels like to be stationary.

She is walking back towards Eve though. Her legs have taken control of the situation, and now she is walking towards Eve, and Eve is walking towards her, and now she is in front of Eve, back where they started.

“Back where we started” Villanelle murmurs, and maybe London has stilled for this moment, because Eve hears her, Villanelle’s words float through the air so easily, and Eve smiles cautiously at her.

“I think, that maybe we aren’t done with each other yet.”

“Another chapter? How exhausting.” Villanelle says, and Eve laughs, and then for a moment Villanelle could swear that Eve is going to take her hands, but instead she pushes them into her pockets, and just looks up at her.

“You do have a very beautiful face” Eve says, and manages to smile even wider, “trust you to use this power for evil.”

Villanelle grins back at her, too wide, and wonders whether Eve is thinking about kissing her on a bridge as well.

“Hello again you two, Villanelle I don’t suppose I could borrow you for a moment?”

Luckily there is no one here to interrupt them, Villanelle tells herself pointedly. Eve is staring into her eyes, although the flicker of a frown tells Villanelle she has also heard the interruption that cannot possibly be real because god damn it.

‘Villanelle. I’m afraid the meter is running, so if you could please… get in the taxi. Eve you can join us if you would like to.”

Villanelle clenches her jaw, and then purses her lips in frustration.

Eve closes her eyes, as though mentally investigating teleportation.

“I am afraid that we cannot loiter here long, I’ve already had to give the gentleman a significant tip in order to get him to pull over on the bridge, so if you could both just…” there’s a pause, and a sigh of mild irritation “If you could both just bloody well get in, and then if you need me to drop you off back here later so you can continue whatever this then-”

Eve cracks first.

“Okay!” she says abruptly, and turns away from Villanelle, ducking into the black cab. She beckons at Villanelle to follow.

Fuck everything.

Carolyn peers at both of them as though they’ve just interrupted one of her meetings, rather than responding to her kerb side summons.

“You’ll have to sit on the fold down seats I’m afraid” she says, even though that is blatantly obvious because the two unoccupied back seats on either side of Carolyn are piled high with a number of binders and dossiers and at least a couple of laptops. Villanelle and Eve sit obediently, and the cab moves off.

Carolyn smiles at both of them, and places her hands on her knees.

“Well” she says, with polite disinterest. “How are you both?”

“We only left you five minutes ago” Eve says, just as Villanelle says sourly “We were having a moment, and then you-”

Carolyn focuses on her. “Really?” she says. “A moment?”

“Yes, or-” Villanelle hesitates, wondering whether describing things as a moment would be too presumptuous baldly. “Well, we were busy, and things have not been straightforward, so you could have done everyone a favour and taken a quick lap around the M25 before-”

“It looked more like a seance to me.” Carolyn says dryly. “Is that how moments work, these days? We stand a foot away from each other and meditate.”

Villanelle kicks her legs out in front of her, occupying more space deliberately. She momentarily hates the fact that her coat is so expensive, because she has an irrepressible urge to slouch in her seat like a teenager, but the creases would never come out. She grimaces at Carolyn.

“Look, Carolyn, I like many aspects of you, but you are extremely bad for my emotional well being, do you know that? You refuse to hire me to Mi5, you interrupt my seance, you… you do other things, I cannot think of them at this moment, but I will find them, give me a second-”

“I’ve changed my mind, since we last spoke.”

“Since when? Five minutes ago? What have you changed your mind about?”

“Yes indeed” Carolyn says cryptically, and then turns to Eve. “Eve, would you like us to drop you off somewhere? Our driver is waiting for a destination.”

The cab takes a corner at this moment, and Villanelle holds on to the door handle to prevent herself from sliding off her seat. Eve braces herself against the door frame, and then points at herself.

“What, me? That’s… no I’m fine. That was pretty rude. And where are you expecting me to go?”

Carolyn spreads her hands in a neat gesture.

“…where ever it is that you sleep? I assume you have a regular place that you sleep?”

“A home?” Eve asks. Carolyn nods, glad to have had things cleared up.

“Yes. One of those. A home. Do you-”

“No, as we’ve already said, Villanelle and I were in a middle of a conversation that we want to finish.” The repeated reference to Eve and Villanelle as a ‘we’ makes Villanelle smile despite herself.

Carolyn blinks at her, as though this is a completely outlandish idea. “Why?” Eve spreads her hands wide, apparently plucking an idea from thin air.

“We were going to get dinner after the seance.”

“You were?” Carolyn asks, just as Villanelle says “We were?” The taxi rumbles on. Eve glances quickly at Villanelle, and then shrugs.

“Well, I was going to get dinner, I’m hungry. And I assumed that you would like to join me?”

Yes, yes, yes, yes that sounds ideal, yes, let me take you to my favourite restaurant, there’s a particular table with a particular view that I’ve been waiting to show you. Unfortunately “I’m always hungry” is what her mouth produces.

Eve raises her eyebrows at Villanelle, before turning back to Carolyn. “We had nearly wrapped up the seance to be honest-”

“Which you rudely interrupted” Villanelle adds, and then raises the stakes by adding “and then you kidnapped us-”

“I politely asked you to get into the taxi so we could discuss things. This is not a kidnapping.” Carolyn leans past them, speaking more loudly so the driver can hear her. “This isn’t a kidnapping. We are work colleagues. ”

The dashboard is covered in little bobble headed plastic statues, which wobble in time to the cab’s motion. The driver waves one of his hands dismissively over his shoulder. “Don’t you worry about me love, you can kidnap whoever you want as long as you don’t leave any rubbish back there.”

Villanelle scoffs, and then slouches in the seat, before remembering about the creases and sitting up again.

“You’ve taken all the fun out of this evening Carolyn, you know that?”

Eve clears her throat. “You should take us to your house Carolyn.”

Carolyn seems horrified for a split second, and then controls herself.

“That doesn’t seem sensible to me.”

“No? We’ve just witnessed you commit murder, and as key witnesses I would say that maybe you should be acting on what we think is sensible.”

Carolyn glares stonily at Eve for a number of seconds, and then raises her voice again.

“And, I’d like to underline that I haven’t committed murder, my colleagues are referring to an in-joke. We are an informal business.”

“Can’t hear you love, sorry, I’m come over temporarily deaf all of a sudden.”

“Wonderful” Carolyn says briskly, and then immediately turns back to them, saying “I have no food in my house, and I do have my daughter in my house, who appears to be enforcing squatters rights. It is not the most conducive place for a serious meeting.”

“No symphony tickets going spare?” Villanelle says sourly. Eve hauls out her phone from one of her coat pockets.

“We can order delivery. And I would imagine that your daughter is a reasonable person, I’m sure she’ll understand.”

Carolyn folds her hands in her lap, first one position, then another.

“Yes” she says eventually, with a sigh. “She is, rather.”

…..

Carolyn’s house is a perplexing, squat building, which seems to lurk in rather than occupy a plot.

“Geraldine” Carolyn calls, as she kicks off her shoes. “I’m afraid I have visitors, but we won’t get in your way. We will be getting take out from the Thai place if you wanted to add on to the crime sheet?” Carolyn stalks deeper into the house without a backwards glance at Villanelle and Eve.

A youngish woman appears in the hallway. Presumably Geraldine. Villanelle raises her eyebrows at her once in greeting, and then starts inspecting the art hanging on the walls. She finds the items that people hang in their front entrance most revealing. It’s the area that is the most likely to be witnessed by guests. Eve comes to stand next to her after a moment, and they both look at the framed photos.

Carolyn’s hall contains a series of small black and white photos of another, far more traditional house. It is a tall terraced house in what looks to be a neat neighbourhood. In some of the pictures a family stands in at their front door, well turned out in the sunshine.

“Bit creepy” remarks Eve. Villanelle nods.

“Everyone in that photo is probably dead by now.”

Villanelle wonders if any of the people in the photo are related to Carolyn, but before she can lean closer to peer for family resemblance, the Geraldine person has stepped further into Villanelle and Eve’s space, and here is a family resemblance, if Villanelle puts aside the apologetic manner.

“Hello, I’m Geraldine. Can I take you coat” she says to Eve, before turning to Villanelle and saying “and your…” Geraldine’s eyes rove over Villanelle, before she finishes lamely with “…cape?”

Eve snorts to herself, and Villanelle glares at her, before shrugging out of her extremely expensive and high end coat that she will not be taking further questions on at this time.

“Thank you” she says to Geraldine, who gathers both their coats in her arms carefully. “I’ve already eaten” she says matter of factly, “but if who ever is putting the order in wants to order an extra portion of chips, I would be very grateful.”

“Okay” says Eve carefully, clearly repressing the many things she has to say about a person who would order chips from a Thai restaurant, and then they are alone.

“We could just run out the door now?” Villanelle suggests. “Although I’ll need to get my coat back.”

“Mine too.”

“We can live without your coat.”

Eve ignores this, and nods in the direction that Carolyn went.

“But aren’t you curious?”

“Yes” Villanelle concedes “a bit.”

“We can go get some food after we’ve heard what she has to say.”

It’s not a date. It’s just two adults, spending time together, because they enjoy each other’s company.

“Good plan.”

Chapter Text

Carolyn’s kitchen is clean. The type of clean that suggests that no one ever actually cooks meals here, but rather just uses it as a room to stand around in and have serious conversations over whisky.

Carolyn slides a glass towards Eve, who accepts her whisky with a grimace, and then she glances at Villanelle.

“And what do you drink?”

Villanelle shrugs.

“Whatever I feel like at the time.”

Carolyn’s smile tightens.

“And what do you feel like right now?”

“Orange juice.”

Carolyn looks at Villanelle as though she is letting the side down, and then moves to the fridge.

“Could I get a straw with that?”

“Don’t push your luck” Carolyn says shortly, and Villanelle grins.

It’s been less than an hour since Carolyn shot someone in the head at point blank range, and yet her hands aren’t shaking at all. Villanelle eyes her curiously for the hundredth time, wondering again exactly what kind of woman she is. She’d fired two shots, and hadn’t had a single problem with the recoil, a usual failing of novices. But then, there was no way that Carolyn hadn’t killed before. She was ice cold.

Probably remorseless when she was younger, Villanelle thinks, and feels a sudden pang of relief that they were of a different generation. She doesn’t particularly back herself against Carolyn in a fight.

“You said that you had changed your mind?”

Carolyn nods. “Yes.”

“Is this about the job?”

“Yes.”

“You do want to hire me to Mi6?”

Carolyn shakes her head. “No.”

Villanelle pauses, momentarily off balance.

“So you don’t want to hire me?”

“I do.”

Villanelle stares blankly at her. “Okay” she says flatly, abruptly deciding she can do this all night.

Eve sighs, clearly not able to contemplate doing this all night. “Carolyn, if you could summon a paragraph of explanation this whole thing would go a lot quicker.”

Carolyn takes a sip of her drink, putting the glass down on the polished surface next to her with a sharp tap.

“Agreed. So I’ve decided to wreck vengeance for Kenny’s death in a personal, extra curricular capacity. Mi6 will not be hiring you, but I will. I will fund you to track and identify each member of the Twelve, and bring me their details. I want them to know that I have them, and I want to them to know that peace will never again be an option. And then I will decide that to do about Konstantin.”

Villanelle sits down in one of the kitchen chairs, and slides her own drink across the table noisily, from one hand to another. She stares at Carolyn for a couple of seconds, thinking.

“Ah, off the books contract killing. How unprofessional of you.” She brings her glass to her lips, swallows, and sets it down again. “And what’s in it for me? I wouldn’t be able go back to the Twelve if I do this for you. And they were going to promote me. Helene seemed to be a big fan of my work.” Villanelle says this with widening eyes, because she’s still weirded out by Helene’s endless cradling of her head.

Carolyn shrugs. “If you do this, then I will make it so that you can work for Mi6. I will smooth everything over.”

“Will you? Or will you be in jail for killing your boss and stealing a bunch of stuff from his house?”

“He was not my boss.”

“Your…whatever.” Villanelle casts around. “Your colleague. The man who made tea. I don’t know, but you definitely shot him in the head.”

“I tidied up.”

“You tidied up a corpse? You put him in the bin?”

“Well now you are just being wilfully dense. I made a call. The whole thing is going to be reported as a suicide. And the things I took are not official Mi6 assets, so there will be no problems. Nothing will be reported missing. I took his personal affects, the paper trail that will lead to his work for the Twelve.”

Villanelle grunts, and then pulls an awkward face. “Still sounds risky.”

Carolyn shrugs.

“I can find someone else, if you are feeling risk averse. I’m asking you first because you are in front of me, and because I am familiar with your methods. However if you are uninterested-”

“I’m not uninterested, I’m just thinking-”

“Do you have many other offers on the table at the moment? Do you think that the Twelve will still be encouraging you to work for them, or will they listen to the report that Konstantin is inevitably going to deliver to them? The report that says you have conflicting loyalties and-” Carolyn waves a hand at Eve, suddenly looking too tired to explain everything that needs explaining. “- and a weakness for seances.”

“We’ll do it.” This is Eve speaking. Villanelle looks at her in surprise.

“We? Why?”

“Don’t you want to know how it ends? If you don’t take the job, I don’t find out how it ends. So… we’ll do it” Eve says firmly.

Carolyn gapes at her.

“Eve, I was only extending the offer to Villanelle, I’m sure Villanelle can fill you in with the details on ‘how it ends’ once she has completed the role.”

“How much will you pay me?” Villanelle interrupts.

“How much do you currently earn?”

“Around thirty thousand euros per kill depending on difficulty, plus I had an expenses account which covered anything I wanted.”

“Okay, well I will pay you five hundred euros a day, and that has to cover everything.”

“So this will be less.”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

“We’ll take it” says Eve.

Villanelle laughs at Eve, because she’s never known anyone like her. Eve is standing next to the fridge, nodding adamantly as though there are no fine details in question. Carolyn frowns.

“Eve the offer wasn’t for you.”

“I’m coming anyway. Kenny was important to me, and I want to help you. I’ll do it, plus I’ve lived on a budget for years, whereas she will blow it on shoes day one.”

Villanelle mumbles “people need shoes Eve”, but Carolyn cuts across the rest of her thoughts.

“And explain to me what you are hoping to bring to the team? Other than frugal budgeting?”

Eve opens her mouth, stops, and closes it again.

Carolyn continues.

“Clearly I will be bringing the intellect, the plans, the direction, etcetera, Villanelle will be bringing creative flair, a can do attitude, and stealth, apparently, although someone will have to tell the costume department, and you will be bringing…?”

“This sweater is literally pure black-”

“I’m so sorry, I must have missed that underneath the orange cloak.”

Eve interrupts them both.

“Carolyn, you told me I had good instincts.”

“Did I?” Carolyn looks blankly out of the window in to the darkness of the night for a moment, and then looks back at Eve, frowning.

“That doesn’t sound like a thing I would say. Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure”

“When was this? Was I being threatened at the time?” Villanelle snorts at this. Eve splutters.

“I… I can’t remember. But I definitely remember you telling me I had good instincts.”

“Was this in a dream?” Villanelle asks in a way that isn’t meant to be sarcastic. Eve glares at her, nevertheless.

“No it was not a dream, Carolyn said I had good instincts-”

Carolyn puts a hand to her temple. “Maybe I had a migraine, that happens on a semi regular basis, particularly if the lights are at a certain angle-”

Villanelle leans forward. “Oh, you are supposed to eat plain salted crisps for migraines.”

Carolyn squints at her. “N-oh, no I think that’s for travel sickness.”

“Ah.”

“Look Eve, the fact of the matter is, there are not many things in your skills set that I do not also have in vastly superior amounts, so it seems a trifle pointless to have you along for the ride.” Carolyn seems to decide that this is the final word on the matter, and folds her hands in front of her on the table, smiling brightly at Eve, and then Villanelle.

“Are you bad at anything?” Villanelle asks, curiosity overtaking her desire to move the conversation along.

“No, I’ve decided that I’ve tried all the new experiences that I want to try, from here on out either I’m extremely good at things, or I just don’t do it.” Carolyn takes a second to consider this, and then concedes “Asides from baking. She’s a fickle mistress, but I do seem to keep returning to sacrifice myself on her alter.”

Villanelle brightens.

“I’m bad at baking too. There you go Eve.”

“There I go what?”

“I’ll be in charge of flair and stealth, Carolyn will be in charge of literally everything else, and you can take the lead whenever baking comes up.”

Eve spreads her hands.

“And how often do we think baking is going to come up? Also, I don’t bake.”

Villanelle looks at her stonily.

“Can you please show a little team spirit here? Carolyn, I’ll do it if Eve is coming, and if you will do everything in your power to set me up in Mi5 afterwards. Without Eve, I’ll blow your tiny budget on shoes.”

Carolyn stares levelly at Villanelle for a long moment, and then waves a hand, as though indicating that she’d like the next slide in her presentation to appear.

“Very well, but in that case I am changing the plan slightly. Because I do have a problem, in that I do not trust either of you one inch. One jot. One” Carolyn pauses, and takes a sip of whisky “…iota.”

Villanelle shrugs and says “seems reasonable” just as Eve says “Well that’s not fair.” Carolyn taps the rim of her glass for a moment, looking between them, and then nods, clearly having come to some internal decision.

“Yes. You are both catastrophically under prepared, neither of you have any sense of planning, you both reel from crisis to crisis and you will inevitably get caught up in the fine print of your personal lives rather than focusing on the task in hand. Do jump in at any time if any of this is inaccurate?”

Neither of them jump. Carolyn continues after a moment.

“So, I’m going to require you to be accompanied by someone who can report back to me accurately and regularly, and not lie about how under control everything is. And someone who can pass on my instructions.”

“Someone from Mi5?” Eve says suspiciously.

“No” Carolyn says and then raises her voice “Geraldine? A moment please, if you are available?” Carolyn smooths her fingertips over one eyebrow, and then shrugs slightly. “And I could really use the spare room back. Ah, Geraldine. Thank you.”

Geraldine appears, smiling cautiously. “Hello”

“Geraldine, you remember Eve, she made a scene at your brother’s wake? And this is Villanelle, who has killed more people than you have Facebook friends. I need you to take a trip with them. They’re going to be doing some work for me, and I would like you to be my main point of contact between myself and them. I need you to keep me updated on how they are doing, pass on messages, hold the phone up to their ear so they must listen to me, that sort of thing.”

Geraldine blinks, and then looks around at both of them, before gazing at her mother.

“Um… what kind of work will they be doing?”

“Bringing your brother’s killers to justice, in an informal, free lance capacity.”

Geraldine eyes her mother. “What kind of justice?”

“What ever sort of justice I deem suitable at the time” Carolyn says coolly, opening up a whole world of possibilities with a blunt edged tin opener of revenge.

“Mum, I’m not sure that… is this just another attempt to get me to move out, because-”

Carolyn sighs heavily.

“Yes Geraldine, it is, you know it is, please spare me the lecture. But-” and then Carolyn pauses, and takes a deep breath. “But it is also because you have one quality that I cannot deny… you always tell me the truth. Sometimes with overwhelming and uncomfortable levels of detail, and though I do not value that quality when it comes to interpersonal relationships, it would be extremely helpful in the field.”

Geraldine spreads her hands, and then puts them on her hips. Villanelle watches her as she bites her lip, and then makes steady eye contact with the fridge, in the way that people do when they are fighting to control their emotions.

Carolyn lowers her tone, speaking almost softly.

“Geraldine… I’m saying I trust you, and I’m asking you to do this for Kenny, and for me.”

Geraldine sniffles abruptly, and then laughs, looking down at her hands.

“I thought you were doing it because you wanted the spare room back.”

“Oh that too, but I thought this could be a very neat solution. Also you never took a gap year, even with my heavy encouragement… I still maintain it would have done you the world of good.”

“Sorry to interrupt” says Eve “but you just want us to bring your daughter along for the ride?”

“Yes, I do” Carolyn says plainly. She takes off her glasses, and then pushes them onto her head. “And Eve, I’m afraid she is rather good at baking.”

…..

They arrange to meet in the morning.

Villanelle isn’t nervous, but she does feel unsettled about the arrangement. She increasingly trusts Eve to see her way through most situations apart from ones where she is required to be anyone other than herself, but Geraldine?

If Geraldine dies, does Carolyn start her next personal vendetta? Only this time Villanelle and Eve are on the hit list? Seems unlikely, but if Carolyn is anything, she is a series of unlikely responses on repeat.

On the other hand, Geraldine doesn’t seem the sort of person to die. It’s always the annoying ones who stay alive.

The night is no longer cool, but is now the kind of cold that grips fingers and toes and works inwards. Villanelle’s breath mists in the air around her, and she wonders briefly about holding Eve’s hand, just walking away from all of this.

Geraldine is on the door step with them now, talking nervously about nothing.

“I’ll just pack as if I’m going on a mini break, seems silly to try and plan for every eventuality, I’ll aim for a carry on case only-”

“Mmm” says Eve, noncommittally, and Villanelle wonders if she is thinking about running away as well.

And then, abruptly, a car pulls up on the road side, tyres protesting. And then a gun appears in the window.

“Villanelle, you get in the car.” It’s Konstantin, and he’s pointing a gun at her.

“Oh see now this is what a kidnapping looks like.” Villanelle says calmly, gesturing at no one in particular. Konstantin growls.

“Villanelle, you get in the car.”

Villanelle scoffs. “No I don’t.”

Konstantin glares at her, illuminated oddly by the lights of the dashboard.

“Look, I am a reasonable man, and I like you. And I am not too proud to admit that these last few days have not been to plan. But I am an adaptable man, I can bend to circumstances. Get in the car or I shoot her.” And then he points his gun at Eve.

“Seriously?” Villanelle says, because seriously? “Seriously, this is the level you stoop to? Where is the style, where is the panache? You know I used to think you were an impressive man, but now-”

“Get in the fucking car” he abruptly roars.

“Why? You know I will just kill you?”

“No you won’t, I know you’ve lost your nerve.”

“No I haven’t.”

“Dasha told me.”

“No she didn’t.”

Konstantin breathes out heavily through his nostrils, seems to readjust his grip on his gun, and then stares levelly at her.

“Get in the car or I kill Eve, and yes, I will shoot her whether or not you are in the way.” At this point Villanelle turns to look at Eve, and she realises with a shock that Geraldine is standing in front of Eve.

Villanelle turns back to Konstantin, and shrugs. “But if you kill her I definitely don’t get in the car.”

Konstantin rolls his eyes, and starts enunciating carefully. “No, but if I kill her she is Dead, and if you do get in the car she is Alive. You understand the binary nature of death? Either someone is dead, or they are not. I need you for two days, three days maximum, you talk to the Twelve, whatever whatever, and then I get to go home and I never have to see any of you psychopaths again.”

“You are a terrible man!” This comes from Geraldine, who sounds like she has been working on that insult for a while. Konstantin grins tightly.

“Yes. I know. Welcome to the narrative. Villanelle, get in the car. Three days maximum and then you are free to go. If you don’t get in the car, I am fucked, you are fucked, and she is dead.”

Villanelle realises that she is going to get in the car. Which is the terrible, but all the other options seem worse.

“God you are so boring sometimes.”

“Get in the car.”

“We were going to get dinner, you know that? Eve and I. Dinner.”

“I am not stopping dinner, I am delaying it.”

“Are you even safe to drive?” she asks, as she approaches the car. “With…” she drops her voice to a stage whisper, and gestures “…your heart?”

Konstantin shows her all his teeth, a pastiche of a smile. “Get in the car now, and I let Eve live and you can choose the radio station.”

Villanelle turns to Eve, one hand on the car door handle.

“Three days maximum” she says, with a roll of her eyes.

“Okay” Eve says levelly. She looks beautiful, Villanelle realises. Completely serene.

Eve’s face gives away nothing, but meanwhile Geraldine looks utterly aghast. It’s comedic somehow, how much she looks like her mother, while sharing none of her emotional reactions. She puts her hands on her hips, points at Konstantin, drops her hands, runs her hands through her hair, all in a repeating cycle of physical outrage.

“And you believe him?” Geraldine manages after a couple of seconds of frenzied flailing.

Villanelle snorts. “I believe in myself. Konstantin move the gun, I cannot get into the car through your arm you idiot.”

“What?” Geraldine says. Villanelle glances at Eve, who nods, because she doesn’t need an explanation. Besides, maybe they are better when they are working their way back to each other.

“Three days maximum.”

She gets in the car.

“You are an arsehole.”

“I know this” Konstantin says levelly, reversing hastily off Carolyn’s drive, and pulling back into the main street.

Villanelle slouches, and this time fuck the creases, because there’s something else she’s annoyed about, but she can’t manage wade through the trauma of her brain to find it-

Then she remembers, just a moped zips past them.

“Oh fuck”

“What?”

“You made me miss my take out, it just went past us now. You are even more of a bastard. Fuck you.”

…..

Chapter Text

“And then?” Carolyn asks.

“And then he just drove off” Eve gestures with her fork, as though pointing after the disappearing car, and then bites the prawn off the end of it.

“He is a bastard” Geraldine says darkly, and then asks in an entirely different tone of voice “are you going to eat all of Villanelle’s food as well as your food or-?”

“Yes I am.”

“It’s just that, she isn’t here to eat it, so-”

“Geraldine, eat your chips.” Carolyn says shortly, not removing her eyes from the stolen laptop screen in front of her. She has many of Paul’s files and folders spread out over her kitchen table, but is concentrating on the screen in a wholly focused manner. Eve frowns at her.

“Have you… figured out his password?”

Carolyn nods once, and then says smoothly “You’d be amazed often how powerful men think that they are somehow immune to identity theft…his football team and his late husband’s birthday.”

“Mum, I’m not sure you should really be invading someone’s privacy like this-”

“Geraldine, the man was a significant member of an organised crime syndicate, and he was endangering the lives… ending the lives of people who worked with me. Do not tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing.”

Geraldine sighs, and looks down at her plate of chips. She looks up again. “Did you by any chance buy some mayonnaise when you were out?”

“What?”

“You said that if you passed a shop you would pick up some mayonnaise.”

“Geraldine-”

“It’s okay if you didn’t, I forgot too… sometimes these things slip our minds. But you know I usually have mayonnaise with chips.”

“There’s some salad cream in the fridge.”

“Salad cream on chips?”

“Take it or leave it Geraldine, your condiment choices aren’t even in my top one hundred of concerns right now.”

Eve puts another forkful of noodles in her mouth, as she watches Geraldine head for the fridge. The absence of Villanelle feels like a missing tooth, but it also seems wholly predictable, that Eve would have her for a moment, and then she’d disappear again, like sand slipping through her fingers.

“Why would Villanelle even get in the car?”

Carolyn raises her eyebrows. “Astonishing, isn’t it, what people will do when a gun is being pointed at them?”

“He was pointing it at me” Eve points at herself.

Carolyn looks up, and then peers over her glasses.

“Did you consider hiding? Or running away?”

“No” Eve chews for a second, and then swallows. “That seemed a bit over dramatic. Besides, he wasn’t actually going to shoot me.”

“He’s an erratic man; where do you think Villanelle learned her methods? Geraldine for god’s sake, the salad cream will be on the condiments shelf, what on earth are you doing in the veg drawer?”

Eve gestures at Geraldine.

“She stood in front of me” she says quietly to Carolyn. Carolyn turns to look at her daughter, or what she can see of her, which is basically just her arse, as the rest of Geraldine is deep diving the fridge.

“She did? That’s… not like her.”

“She was angry with Konstantin, I think it gave her some kind of stimulant.”

“Nevertheless, that is extremely out of character- Geraldine will you please look with your eyes, how can the jar still be eluding you?”

“Mum, referring to certain sections of your fridge with lofty titles such as ‘The Condiments Shelf’ does not automatically result in a tidy fridge, it’s like a war scene in here… oh here we are.”

“Did you happen to find the source of the Nile as well whilst you were in there?” Carolyn asks dryly, as Geraldine returns to her seat, jar in hand.

“I don’t know, what does that sauce taste of?”

Eve taps her knuckles on the table, trying to wrap up this fight to the death.

“Why do the Twelve want Villanelle brought back to them?”

Carolyn purses her lips, and then looks at Eve. Eve feels like she can almost see Carolyn’s brain working.

“I would imagine” Carolyn says slowly, and then picks up speed as her theory formalises in her mind, “that the Twelve are trying to reclaim Villanelle as an asset; someone has noticed her worth, or someone is doing her a favour, I’m not sure, but she seemed to be very certain of a promotion, despite the fact that she’s clearly woefully ill-suited to any kind of management position.”

Carolyn takes off her glasses, and places them on the table next to her, before leaning across and pinching one of Geraldine’s chips. She takes a bite, chews, swallows, and then continues. “I’d think some kind of quid pro quo, but I’m not sure who she can possibly have done a favour for… by all accounts she has only ever had sustained contact with Konstantin and this Dasha character you have described. Neither of whom seem to have anything like the level of influence required to give Villanelle a cushy desk job.”

Eve considers this for a long moment, and then shrugs.

“Maybe they were trying to retire her upwards. Maybe she was getting too expensive, I would imagine that her expenses account is pretty eye watering. So maybe…. they were going to make her work closer in the organisation, tie her down, financially limit her, and then… set her free? Or-”

“Or kill her?” Carolyn says frankly. Eve swallows before continuing.

“Yes, or that. But if it was the case that they just wanted Villanelle to leave them… why not just let her drift away? It seems pretty clear to me that she was trying to separate herself from the Twelve.”

Carolyn breathes out slowly through her nose.

“Well. She is probably considered to know too much to just be allowed to leave. So death is on the cards if they are looking to get shot of her. Maybe they think they have some final use for her? Some final, extravagant kill? Maybe a difficult one where it doesn’t matter if she gets killed herself. However that doesn’t explain all the references to promotion. Seems a bit elaborate. Also-” Carolyn pauses and gestures at the laptop. She picks up her glasses again, and puts them back on. “-And this is just my first sift through the details you understand, but the financial records that Paul has on here seems to confirm the proposed promotion. Money has been moved around to facilitate Villanelle’s promotion.”

Eve frowns in suspicion “So the promotion is real? They’re collecting her to put her in position for the promotion?”

“Mmm, it would seem so, but then we are back to the favour solution, because I cannot possibly imagine Villanelle has earned the trust of the Twelve to actually encourage them to put her in a position of responsibility. Who on earth can she have backing her?”

Eve pauses, considering this thought. She twists her fork in the noodles, spiralling them repeatedly.

“No idea” she concludes lamely. “Maybe we are looking at this from the wrong angle. Maybe Konstantin has gone rogue, and is hoping to extract some leverage on the Twelve using Villanelle?”

Carolyn sighs, and sits back in her chair.

“Oh, this is all a bit of a mess. That seems unlikely, but not impossible. I’m going to have to take some time with this computer, there is a paper trail but who knows where it leads, and everyone is referred to by code, this whole thing is monstrous. No way to run a business.”

“And so what do we do? When do we leave?” It’s Geraldine who speaks, and then shifts in her seat uncomfortably when both Eve and Carolyn turn to look at her. “On our job, I mean. Identifying who this group of people are, reporting their details back to you, like you said. Will we still be leaving tomorrow?”

“Leaving?” Carolyn repeats. Geraldine nods.

“To wreak vengeance? Cause havoc? Whatever you said.”

Carolyn smiles briefly, before controlling her face. “I’ll be honest, I thought I was hiring an international assassin, I’m not sure sending two… baking specialists is really going to-”

“Can we all please remember that I don’t bake?” Eve says sourly, but Geraldine is speaking over her.

“Mum, you said it was for Kenny. Well, if you need someone you can trust to do exactly what you say, then I’m the best choice.”

Carolyn laughs at this. “Geraldine, you never do what I say.”

Geraldine looks affronted. “I do when it is important. When it is for Kenny. And Eve has moved in these circles, I’m sure between us we can do what is needed. Or at least, not make things worse. Besides, you are the brains. We’ll just be the hands. Your hands.”

“I don’t want to have to come and extract you from prison. Or worse.”

“Mum… we won’t get into any bother. I’m basically a non entity. People look through me. About time I put this quality to some use. Eve?”

Eve wonders if Geraldine is asking her if Eve also feels invisible to the wider population, but then realises she is just asking if Eve is still on board with the job.

“Sure. I’ll do it. But Carolyn, you’ll have to tweak the plan to suit our extremely limited skill set.”

Carolyn looks at both of them, weighing them up.

“So you are offering me a team of sheer raging incompetence, and you are hoping to just stumble your way to success. Brazen it out. Sheer bloody mindedness will get the job done, is that what you are saying? Pester the Twelve into submission?”

“Yes” says Geraldine firmly. “I can be very stubborn about things. And I’m aware that I’m often annoying. Might as well try to apply this to a practical situation for once.”

Carolyn rolls her eyes.

“Oh very well. Might as well see what happens. You can leave tomorrow. But in order for you to leave tomorrow, I need to be able to tell you where you are going. So if I could encourage you to both leave me now with this laptop, I need to make sense of a few things. Eve, feel free to take the tupperware with you if you haven’t finished yet.”

…..

Eve returns to her home, eats the remaining (now cold) take out, and then hauls her small suitcase down from on top of the wardrobe.

She remembers Niko doing this for her once, once upon a different lifetime. In a different house, on top of a different wardrobe. Just before she had left for Berlin with Bill, a trip that Bill had not survived.

She doesn’t know why she thinking about Bill right now.

This time Eve drags a kitchen chair over to help her. It gets the job done just as well as Niko did.

This is the same suitcase though. The one that Villanelle had filled with clothes so expensive Eve hadn’t known what to do with them, too high end for Eve to ever have an occasion to wear them.

She’d sold most of them on eBay to be honest. Eve smiles to herself, and makes a mental note not to mention that to Villanelle any time soon. She carefully packs whatever she thinks will be sensible for miscellaneous Europe in the late autumn, which is such a broad concept she gives herself a headache.

It doesn’t matter what she wears anyway, she decides. People do not often look at her.

Villanelle looks at her.

This thought leaves her chest tight and disappointment prowling in her gut, because all Eve wants is enough time to break the spell, or completely compound it. How is she supposed to know what Villanelle is to her, if she never manages to spend more than thirty minutes with her? Is the real version of Villanelle as intoxicating as the version of Villanelle that she keeps in her head?

Eve feels drunk on her sometimes. Drunk on the attention? Or is it some other emotion?

No one looks at Eve like Villanelle looks at her.

All of this is happening so they can end up in a room together? Maybe, but when, when?

Eve doesn’t check her phone until well after midnight.

The message says It’s me.

The number is unknown, not even the same one that Villanelle had left her a voice message with only a few days ago. She must change her sim almost daily, Eve realises, and wonders if Villanelle even notices how exhausting it must be to live like that.

How do I know it is you? Eve is somehow already imaging Villanelle at the mercies of the Twelve, information being extracted at knife point, even though she knows that Villanelle can take care of herself.

My monster encourages your monster

Eve smiles at the reply for a moment, and then types out Where are you?

About to board a train heading for France. Konstantin is trying to threaten me, but I’m here because I want to know how it ends, just like you do

Eve takes a second to put her phone down. She pulls off her clothes, and gets into her sleep clothes, one particular old scruffy t shirt that she knows would make Villanelle pass out if she ever saw it.

She tucks herself into bed, and then picks up her phone.

How do you people manage to swan across borders without anyone ever tracing your passports and trying to arrest you?

That’s a boring question. Ask me a better one.

Eve sighs, and rolls on to her back for a moment. She stares blankly up into the darkness, and then bites her lip.

Why do you keep leaving me? It’s a fair question. Eve spends her life waiting for Villanelle to appear, and then no sooner has she arrived than she’s gone again. This is how she kills people, Eve knows. She appears, wraith-like, and then disappears as they die.

Eve has been fated to die a thousand small deaths instead.

This time I left because I had a gun pointed at my heart

It was pointed at me

I know

Eve stares at this last answer for a moment, and then snorts abruptly.

Wow, you are lame

I know. Get used to it

Eve smiles for a moment, and then changes the subject, because she doesn't want to fall down that rabbit hole too completely.

What is Konstantin doing?

Villanelle takes longer to reply.

He seems to think he has to personally hand me over to the Twelve, he thinks will get him some credit with his masters. I’m playing nice with him. I like to know what is happening. And then if I’m not interested in what is happening then I will leave, it will not be too hard.

Eve wonders if the ‘not too hard’ is Eve’s version of not too hard, or some violent version which involves Villanelle having to fight her way out of heavily guarded Twelve head quarters.

Geraldine was very keen for us to carry on with the mission anyway, despite your absence, so we leave for Europe in the morning.

Oh interesting, maybe we will bump into each other?

Or you could just leave Konstantin now? It can’t be that hard to get away from him?

Villanelle starts her message a couple of times before committing to it. Eve wonders what she is holding back. If I return to the Twelve I can get more information for Carolyn? I am completing the same job, just doing it in a different way

Or maybe you can just abandon us for a better life. Your promotion. Eve sounds cross, maybe she is cross.

Or maybe I can get killed. Eve reads the quick answer, and then sighs, holding the phone to her chest for a moment.

She doesn’t know if she trusts Villanelle, but she does know that she wants to.

Don’t do that please.

I will be careful. Keep this number, I have it memorised. I will be able to find you.

Chapter Text

Geraldine waves enthusiastically on the St Pancras concourse, when she sees Eve. Eve grimaces back at her, because she’s tired and grouchy and this already feels like a dumb idea.

Geraldine is wearing a gilet. Eve doesn’t know she finds this almost more than she can cope with. The plan that had felt like a good idea over Carolyn’s kitchen table, a good way to burn off her excess energy and untapped rage, wilts rapidly in the face of Geraldine’s breezy “Good morning!”

Eve stops, and grunts in reply. Then she realises that a grunt may come off as rude, and then she realises she doesn’t entirely care. She breathes deeply, looking around herself blearily. “I need coffee.”

Geraldine points. “They sell coffee.”

“Okay. I’m going to get a coffee, could you watch my bag?”

“Uh, sure” Geraldine pauses, making a performance of looking at her watch, and up at the departures board “…we have twenty three minutes until our train leaves, and we obviously need to factor in going through passport control…so-”

“So, are you saying I can’t get coffee?”

“No I’m just giving you all the details so you can make an informed decision here.”

“I need coffee. It doesn’t take that long to get through passport control.”

Eve heads off in the direction of coffee, leaving her bag at Geraldine’s feet. Confusingly, Geraldine comes the fuck along with Eve, towing both her own bag and Eve’s bag along behind her. She is still talking.

“Mum has been very busy, kitchen was a complete mess of papers this morning. I have a couple of addresses in Paris that she has suggested we start with, one of which is in an old bookstore that I’m particularly excited to visit, and then another one is a kitchenware supplier… Mum says she’ll be able to pass us more information by the time we get there, but at the moment it’s just addresses- look, I’ve laminated it, and I’ve printed out a map-”

“Why would you laminate something like that?”

Geraldine looks confused.

“Well…it just seemed sensible? In case coffee gets spilled on it, or something like that, you know.”

Eve sighs, but places her order with the barista before turning to Geraldine and explaining Undercover Work 101.

“What if we need to destroy it in a hurry?”

“Oh. Oh” Geraldine says, and briefly looks utterly crestfallen. Eve turns back to her server.

“Yeah, to go please.”

Geraldine rallies. “Do you know, I didn’t even think of that” she says, sounding self conscious. Eve doesn’t answer. She’s irritated. She glances down at her suitcase, briefly concerned, but Geraldine still has it, so at least that fuck up hasn’t been repeated. Eve moves down the counter towards the collection point, trailing Geraldine. She realises that she didn’t even ask Geraldine if she wanted anything, but Geraldine is a grown woman. She can get her own damn coffee.

Eve abruptly feels invisible. Another middle aged nobody surrounded by other nobodies, each one of them living inconsequential lives. The coffee shop is busy, and time has been squeezed and neatly allocated into precise minutes, until every moment is a departure, an arrival, another coffee.

The collection point is covered in split sugar grains. Eve clamps down on an irrational impulse to sweep them onto the floor, to tidy up.

Her coffee arrives. She nods her thanks, and then leads Geraldine out of the coffee shop. She heads towards the EuroStar, and Geraldine falls into step, half a pace behind her. Eve takes a sip of her too hot coffee, and then relents.

“Well, this is what years of moving in corrupt circles has taught me. Do not laminate sheets of paper with incriminating details on them. Oh, give me my case back. Thanks, sorry. I didn’t mean for you to be my sherpa, I thought you were going to wait whilst I went to get coffee.”

Geraldine absorbs her first points thoughtfully. “So you’re saying… what if I get into a situation, and I have to deny all knowledge of the Twelve, but then it’s all laminated in my bag? This is the scenario we are working with?”

“Well” Eve waves a hand airily around, sketching out multiple possibilities. “Not just specifically that, but it’s good to keep things easy to destroy, I’ve found.”

Geraldine nods. “Yes, I can see that now. I will definitely remember that in the future. Rookie mistake.” Eve tries not to roll her eyes in response to Geraldine’s earnestness, but she’s not sure how successful she is.

“Look, it’s fine, just don’t laminate anything else. We’ll find a way to get rid of that sheet when the time comes. Meanwhile we have a train to catch.”

They pass through security without incident. Eve thinks she should maybe be excited, but she’s just feeling numb. At least this time she doesn’t have a bloody knife in her pocket.

Their seats are facing each other across a small table. Eve decides that this is fine, and if she can’t even cope with this amount of Geraldine time then she should just call Carolyn and announce that the whole idea was a mistake.

“Sorry” she says, as she hauls herself out of her coat and crams it on the seat next to her, to try and discourage anyone from seeing their spare seat as an opportunity. “I’m not a really a morning person. Or an any time person, to be honest. Definitely not a pre-coffee person.”

Geraldine follows her lead, and shrugs. “It’s fine, I’m used to people being annoyed around me, my mother was not an easy person to grow up with. Listen, I’ve been thinking; I have packed toenail clippers, maybe we could just cut it up the laminated sheet into small pieces?”

…..

She keeps checking her phone.

It’s a compulsive little habit, and one that has snuck into her pocket just these last twenty four hours, just like the bloody knife. The bridge has changed things, Eve knows it.

Before the bridge, Eve knew Villanelle was fine. She just knew. Villanelle was an obnoxious, devastatingly attractive, charming, murder machine in an expensive jacket, and Eve had never once worried about her, because she was fine, obviously. Villanelle was like a superhero, or a super villain (and god, isn’t that just the question), and Eve had never attached the possibility of failure to her, never worried that she might never see her again.

Nothing has changed, she tells herself, as she fumbles in her pocket for the hundredth time. Villanelle is still Villanelle.

Eve checks her phone, but she’s met with silence again.

It’s pointless worrying.

“Has my mother murdered people, do you think?”

Eve crams her phone back into her pocket with a start, and then glares at Geraldine automatically. The train noise is a consistent hum, and the vibrations are almost imperceptible, but it all adds to a gentle, soothing background buzz. But this is hardly enough cover to discuss murder.

“Shh, are you crazy?”

Geraldine lifts her chin off her hand, and gestures vaguely.

“What?”

“You can’t say things like that on a train” Eve whisper snipes in her direction.

Geraldine widens her eyes. “I whispered?”

Eve grimaces. “Whisper harder!”

Geraldine lowers her voice even further, until Eve can’t hear her at all, can just see her mouth moving. She relents.

“What?”

“I said” and here Geraldine returns to her original whisper volume, which to be fair is almost impossible for anyone other than Eve to hear “Do you think my mother has killed people? Back when she was in the field?”

Eve hesitates, unsure what to say.

“Uh-”

“That would explain….certain behaviours, you know? Geraldine motions oddly with her head, managing to imply that she knows Eve knows what she is talking about. “I think she must have, at least once. I can’t imagine it can be easy, having that on your conscience, and it probably makes her… like she is.”

Eve stares stonily at her.

“Like she is?”

“Maybe that’s why she is emotionally… you know. Not there. She’s repressing past traumas.”

“Past traumas” Eve echoes hollowly.

“Yes. Though I’d imagine they get therapy? Some kind of post trauma after care maybe-”

“I’m not sure” Eve mumbles “I’ve heard that the canteen is pretty good.”

Geraldine isn’t listening. “Poor mum. Being forced to live like that, carry a human’s death on her shoulders for all these years-“

Eve coughs awkwardly “I mean, how many years in the past do you think we are we talking here?”

“Oh, I’d say a fair few, she-”

“Geraldine, I saw her murder someone less than twenty four hours ago.”

Geraldine stills. She stares at Eve, wide eyed. “She-”

Eve shrugs, because this can’t genuinely be a surprise, it can’t. “Yeah, just before she picked up Villanelle and I, and brought us to your house. She shot a man in the head at point blank range.”

Geraldine’s fingers twitch fractionally on the table top, and then she places them in her lap, in a manner very reminiscent of her mother. She frowns. “Was she… was she being threatened? Was her life in danger?”

Eve shakes her head. “No. She was just, very very cross about Kenny. I was watching from a sofa four foot away.”

“And you didn't do anything?”

Eve pulls a face. “What was I supposed to do? Wrestle the gun out of her hand? Might as well try to wrestle god.”

Geraldine breathes in very deeply though her nose, and then looks out of the window, seeing nothing because a) there is nothing to see, and b) she isn’t even looking. Eve can sense there is some very hasty rewriting of known truths happening in Geraldine’s brain.

“She killed someone involved with Kenny’s death?” she asks softly, after a moment.

Eve grimaces, and then her hand is reaching for her phone again. “Well… uh. Tangentially. Maybe. It was Konstantin who she was going to shoot, but she bailed at the last moment and shot Paul instead. That’s why his personal effects are all over your kitchen. She took them after she killed him.”

Somehow, Geraldine seems even more startled by this.“She bailed? That’s…unlike her. And… Konstantin-”

“They have a history.”

“They do?” Geraldine briefly looks like she is going to vomit into her own mouth. Eve sighs.

“Geraldine are you even paying attention to anything? How could you not know-”

Geraldine abruptly blushes, very hard. “She doesn’t talk to me about that sort of thing! Or anything! You could tell me she moonlighted as a stripper and I wouldn’t have any way to refute it!”

Eve takes a second to let that horrifying thought sink in, and then shrugs. She glances at her phone.

Nothing.

“Talking is over rated. Sometimes it is better to know very little about people.”

…..

By the time they arrive in Paris, Geraldine still hasn’t let it drop.

“…But my own mother? Eve, I never know how to talk to her. That kitchen conversation you had with her about Villanelle… that’s far longer than any conversation I’ve ever had with her.”

Eve wonders if Carolyn is going to pay her extra for all the free therapy she is having to provide. “Mmm, but that’s work, that’s different.” She’s steering her way through the other commuters, with only the vaguest notion of where she is going, and what they should have been doing on the train is investigating the damn laminated sheet, but instead she’s been treated to a whistle stop tour of the various traumas of Geraldine’s upbringing.

“My mum’s whole life is work.”

“Look, at least you’ll have something to talk about after this? Walk a mile in her shoes, that kind of thing? This’ll open up whole new conversational areas. Maybe you’ll understand her more.”

Geraldine takes a moment to dwell on this, and then says, “That’ll only happen if I can actually impress her. Do you think that we’ll be able to achieve anything?”

They join the back of the passport queue. Eve takes a quick check around herself to see if anyone is paying unusual attention to them, but…no. They are invisible. Yet again.

She clenches her jaw. “I can be pretty determined. And Kenny was my friend. I’ve lost too many friends to this… I don’t know, this turn, my life has taken.”

Geraldine looks concerned. “Mum has explained to me some of the things that she was hiring Villanelle for. I’m not sure I will be able to replicate her approach.”

Eve waggles her finger under Geraldine’s nose, and then snaps her fingers, before tapping her other palm rapidly for emphasis.

“Okay, rule one is that we do not try to replicate Villanelle, that’s how we get ourselves killed. We just have to approach things differently. Our own style. It’s just info gathering, at the end of the day. Basic intelligence. Your mother should be able to guide us pretty comprehensively, if Paul’s laptop is as useful as she claims. We’ll have to be subtle though. It won’t take long before they realise that the information that Paul held is no longer secure, we don’t want to alert them to the security breach any sooner than we can help.”

Geraldine smiles faintly, and then says “So no more laminating?”

Eve nods, acknowledging the joke. “Exactly. But show me the sheet, I need to know where we are are going.”

As Geraldine delves into her hand bag, Eve checks her phone.

Ah she thinks, when she sees the notification. There you are, you little shit.. She smiles automatically.

And then she frowns as she reads it.

Do not go to the first place on the list. Go to the second. Trust me. Don’t get killed.

…..

Chapter Text

Villanelle crams her phone back in her pocket when Konstantin clears his throat pointedly.

“What?”

“You teenagers, always on your phones…”

“Do not talk to me.”

“You teenagers, with your attitudes and your phones-“

Please do not talk to me.” Villanelle makes a point of taking her phone out again, and she’s careful to close the conversation with Eve before it is at an angle that Konstantin could conceivably sneak a glance at.

“You teenagers with your sarcasm and your attitudes and your phones-”

This is the same argument that they started outside Carolyn’s house, when Konstantin had pointed a gun at Eve and made Villanelle get into his car.

They’re in a different car now. Konstantin has impenetrable business to complete in Paris, business that may or may not be to do with the Twelve. So far they have stopped outside three separate apartments. Konstantin gets out of the car, goes into the building, and returns with a laptop, or some files. One time he was carrying a pot plant. It’s all very mysterious, but Villanelle isn’t asking. She’s staring at her phone, mindlessly scrolling through an Instagram feed dedicated to chickens, trying to calculate what Carolyn will have discovered, and trying to calculate what Eve will do, and hoping that she’ll stay alive long enough to-

To what?

Konstantin starts again when he doesn’t get answer. He mutters to himself as he grips the top of the steering wheel, checking repeatedly in his rear view mirror, and then says “You teenagers, with your-”

Villanelle abruptly loses her temper, and kicks the underside of the footwell, an ineffectual blow.

“You are so boring, jesus christ with his bikes-”

Konstantin laughs, adjusting his position in his seat and grinning to himself.

“I imagine there will be a hair brained scheme? Carolyn is so predictable sometimes. You were all in her bunker house to hatch a little plan? I mean-” Konstantin pauses, and gestures futility with his hand, unable to express himself. He’s chuckling. “A little plan, a little plot, to vent some of Carolyn’s anger, I have to laugh-”

Villanelle glares, and fights a huge and near overwhelming impulse to undo his seat belt and haul on the handbrake. But they aren’t going fast enough, and death by projectile through the windscreen isn’t guaranteed, so she settles for just seething instead.

“What are you talking about, why are you making all these noises with your mouth?”

Konstantin leans towards her, sobering abruptly. He lowers is voice, growling.

“You think the Twelve are stupid? You think they don’t already know Paul is dead? You think they aren’t tracking Carolyn, their data breach, Eve, and your little friend-”

“My little friend? My vibrator?”

Konstantin half chokes, and then says “No, the daughter, Geraldine.”

“Oh her.” Villanelle looks down at her phone, making eye contact with a ridiculous looking chicken, and shrugs. “I do not know her.”

Konstantin grumbles to himself again, sniffing hard as though he’s doing a line of coke. “Carolyn will have taken everything she can get her hands on after she killed him... god that woman is so predictable, so impetuous, she thinks she is invincible, you know? Typical British arrogance, she thinks that she cannot be touched… and she will send your little friends off and they will get killed because-”

Villanelle has to interrupt, because she can’t just leave that hanging in the air, unchallenged.

“They are difficult to kill. My little friends. They do not kill easily. They are stubborn.”

Konstantin blows out a lungful of air, and shrugs “Eve maybe, although that seems to be down to luck rather than judgement, it is amazing she is not already dead. And I do not know this Geraldine.”

Villanelle pulls a face, because she doesn’t know her either, and then she is struck by a thought. “You think a person grows up with Carolyn and doesn’t come out of that experience like a sword comes out of a furnace?”

Konstantin says nothing for a moment, and then sucks his teeth, considering. Then he shakes his head.

“She is nothing.”

Villanelle shrugs. Outside, they pass a cyclist too close. He flips them off, and then they are past him, turning onto a tree lined avenue. They pick up speed.

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“She is nothing” Konstantin repeats, as though convincing someone. Villanelle grins.

“You nearly shit yourself after twenty seconds of Carolyn holding a gun to your head, I am not sure you are in a position to be all high and mighty, big impressive man Konstantin.”

“Shut up” Konstantin says blandly. Villanelle continues, somehow aware that Geraldine is a weak point for Konstantin without being certain why. She warms to her theme.

“Geraldine has been hardened on the anvil of life, battered to a point by a terrible childhood, fire cannot burn her, pressure cannot bend her-”

“Oh and you would know all about bad childhoods?”

Villanelle stops. Konstantin snorts after a moment.

“How is your mother by the way?”

“I should kill you. I have already decided how I would kill you. You would be dead in five seconds, if I chose it.”

Konstantin laughs, his big abrupt belly laugh. “You can’t, you lost your nerve, I have heard it from your other mother.”

“I killed Rhian” Villanelle says sourly. Konstantin laughs again.

“Oh sure, big impressive Villanelle, using a train for your kills now? Where has your sense of fun gone, hmm? The precision?”

Villanelle says nothing. Konstantin continues.

“You are damaged goods. They will see that, the Twelve will see that, and then bye bye promotion, bye bye protection, and then what are you Villanelle? If all you can do is kill, and then you can’t do that, what are you? Just another human. Pathetic.”

Villanelle scoffs, even though she is gripping her phone so hard she can feel the casing flex. “You trying to talk me into suicide?”

Konstantin changes gear with a crunch and a jerk. He doesn’t look at her. “I’m not trying to do anything except my job, which is to bring you to the Twelve. The rest is bullshit. I do not know why they want you. To kill you? Promote you? I do not care. You no longer are my concern.”

Abruptly, Villanelle pouts. “I thought you used to like me.”

Konstantin laughs hollowly. “I liked you when you were impressive. But now? Too many weaknesses to be impressive.”

…..

The next stop, Konstantin motions at Villanelle to get out of the car.

“You come too.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

Konstantin sighs, and then puts his hands on his hips, flexing forward slightly with a wince.

“My back is not good, and I need to take a heavier thing, bring it down the stairs. You can help, or you can sit there and wait, as I find a kind stranger who will help me no questions asked, but this is Paris so the odds of finding a kind but incurious stranger are very small, so it might take a while, and you might run out of chickens, and so the whole thing would be easier if-”

“Okay” says Villanelle abruptly, undoing her seatbelt and getting out of the car. “But only if you go through a drive through afterwards, I am starving.”

“This is Paris, they do not have-”

“I know Paris” Villanelle snaps, abruptly nettled. “I know Paris, I lived here for two years, remember, do not keep trying to explain Paris to me, I know it better than you.”

Konstantin raises his eyebrows at her, but says nothing, instead motioning for her to follow him. He approaches an nondescript door, punches in a code, and then lets himself in.

It’s a spacious hall way, with stairs that wrap around the walls as they rise. There is a line of post lockers to their immediate left, a dilapidated looking set, in-keeping with the general air of run down elegance to the place. Konstantin approaches the lockers, fumbling in his pocket for something. Villanelle looks around herself.

Even the floor tiles feel familiar.

She abruptly feels homesick. It was never home, never in the mythical, half romanticised version of home that she has been missing since before she left it, but her apartment, with all her things, all of her nice things…

She misses it.

“Are you making a point to me with this?”

Konstantin flicks a quick glance at her over his shoulder, and then performs a lopsided shrug.

“No? This is what buildings look like in Paris, you know this, you lived here for two years, remember? Come, it is upstairs, second floor.”

…..

Inside the apartment, the feeling gets worse.

Villanelle runs her finger tips over the wall as she walks down the entrance lobby. Even that brings back memories.

“What is this place?”

“Paris” Konstantin says shortly, and Villanelle rolls her eyes. She flips her finger tips so that she is dragging her nails across the wall, trying to jolt herself out of this fit of nostalgia.

“Someone from the Twelve?”

“No” Konstantin says shortly, and then shrugs. “Someone like you. Like you used to be. Someone kept by the Twelve. An asset. However you wish to describe yourself. But they got caught, so now I tidy up. Just the vulnerabilities, passports, documents, hard drives, etc. There is a service that comes in for the other effects. I bring the important bits back to the Twelve.”

The apartment doesn't have the same sweeping view that Villanelle’s apartment used to. That makes her feel better. And the owner of this apartment also had no taste, and that helps too. Furniture lurks in corners, embarrassed. Villanelle wrinkles her nose.

“This is what you do for them? Collect things? You are a courier?”

Konstantin opens the wardrobe, grunts in satisfaction, and pulls out a suitcase. He looks around the room, and then motions to Villanelle. “Have a look around, any paper work, laptops, that kind of thing…”

Villanelle obediently heads to a chest of drawers, and starts hauling each drawer open. Konstantin seems to register her earlier comment, and he starts speaking.

“This is one of the things I do. One. I am a fixer. I fix things, I make things happen. The Twelve… they are all blue sky thinking, you know? Concepts, big ideas, big plans. Then people like me make it happen. That is my level.”

Villanelle nods, not really listening because she has found a drawer full of papers. She indicates at them, and Konstantin nods.

“All of them? They can’t all be-”

“All of them.”

Villanelle shrugs, and starts scooping them up, sheaf after sheaf of old bills, adverts, miscellaneous life debris.

“What kind of promotion do you think they have for me? No one has told me anything.”

Konstantin clicks his tongue. “I do not know. Nothing like my job. You would not be good at my job.”

“Maybe they think that I am good at this blue sky planning?”

Konstantin snorts, looks sad for a moment, and then says “Do you know that your English gets worse when you are talking to me?”

Villanelle widens her eyes at nothing, because this is takes her by surprise. “Does it?”

“Yes. I think you are trying to be endearing.” Konstantin says this with a hint of suspicion, and Villanelle scoffs in response.

“I am not… anyway how would you know? You watch me when you are not there?”

“I can just tell… like now, the longer you stay with me, just me, the more abrupt your sentences become. You are losing that polite English tendency to insert extra words as soft furnishings.”

Villanelle picks up more papers, and dumps them into the suitcase. She glances at him. “I have no intention to be polite to you” she says sourly. Konstantin tosses in a laptop on top of the papers.

“Whatever. I am just saying, if you are trying to be cute, please drop the pretence.”

Villanelle turns back to the chest of drawers, scraping up the last of the papers. “I am not trying to be cute, please stop thinking that my existence is some kind of performance for you- who is that?”

A photo has slipped out of the final papers. It is of two men, one older and one younger. They are both smiling at the camera, looking happy. The older man has his arm around the shoulders of the younger man.

“Who?”

Villanelle picks up the photo, and points at the older man. “The man in this photo?”

“Who? Oh him. He is annoying. Charles. He should not be in photos, but Charles thinks he can do what he wants. He is Twelve. He seemed to keep this asset as a pet, he was probably fucking him”

Villanelle stares at the man in question, unfortunate memories meshing with unforeseen consequences. She’s not really heard what Konstantin is saying, but she’s aware a response is required.

“Mmm really?”

“Yes. He is a fool. I don’t know how he works for them, or what he does. He did some kind of job, big job and now he lives off the glory.”

“Charles” Villanelle says absently.

“Yes. Charles. Not Charlie, although Charles doesn’t work for him either. Idiot.”

Villanelle stares at the photo of Charles, remembering. She represses a wince, and she’s so busy thinking about the implications that she forgets to guard her words.

“He still works for the Twelve? I thought-”

“Well, ha, I mean… works? He just seems to drink wine and eat, whenever I see him. How do you know him-”

“I don’t.”

“But you just said-”

“It is my bad English.” Villanelle slips the photo back in amongst the papers, and tosses them into the suitcase. “Or maybe I saw him briefly, if he works in Paris.”

Konstantin glares suspiciously at her for a moment, and then says “Whatever. This. This painting is too valuable apparently, they want it out now.”

Villanelle puts her hands on her hips, and blinks. “Oof. It is ugly.”

“Yes. And big. But… expensive is sometimes bad. Help me, you take that corner.”

“I have not had the safety in the work place training for manual lifting.”

“Shut up and help.”

Chapter Text

The second place on the list is an apartment, above a laundrette.

It’s a crumbling building, with some of the residual glamour of Paris, but not much. The balconies are north facing, and so they live in permanent shadow, and the paintwork is chipped and peeling. The access door is down a side street, and there are rubbish bags lying discarded in the corners. Eve thinks she can see movement in one of them.

They’re sitting in a bus shelter, opposite the building. Scrawled graffiti decorate the walls. Eve decides not to make a note of the aroma.

“Are we sure this is the right place?” she says.

Geraldine sighs.

“Yes, I’ve checked on google maps. It’s the second floor apartment. I know you said that Villanelle’s apartment was far nicer, but maybe the Twelve have a budget tier. We have to go into there, and then we have to take any information we can find. That’s what my mother said.”

Eve looks up and down the street, casting around for observers. “Paper work, anything with a hard drive-”

“Yes, like we’ve said.”

“Mmm.”

Geraldine adjusts the straps of her bag on her shoulders, and rests her hands on her knees.

“Look, I don’t think we should overthink this. I doubt it will be complicated or hard. Mum has sent me all the access codes, and apparently there will be a key under the mat.”

Eve snorts. “How can she possibly know that?”

Geraldine shrugs.

“Not our job to worry about things like that. We need to be single minded.”

Geraldine appears to think that she is the one with all the experience. Eve is finding this highly annoying.

“How do we know it isn’t a trap?”

Geraldine pulls an incredulous face.

“Why would my mother be trying to lead me into a trap?”

At Eve’s feet, her suitcase sits. Eve had wanted to find a hotel first, somewhere to be able to hole up in and process whatever info they manage to collect. Somewhere at least to leave their bags. But no, Geraldine was remorseless.“Maybe she’s been tricked? They could be feeding her false information.”

“Look… the longer we wait, the more likely the Twelve have time to set us up. We need to work as quickly as possible to stay as safe as possible.”

“I just… I think that we should-” A car drives past noisily, drowning out the rest of her sentence. Geraldine stands up.

“Okay, you stay outside, I’ll go in.”

“No, I-”

“Then come on, we can’t just hang around on the street, we look like we are soliciting for trade.”

With that, Geraldine strides across the street, not even making an attempt to be subtle. Her suitcase rattles remorselessly after her. Eve grimaces, but then darts after her. Her suitcase clatters off the kerb with a jolt.

“What if someone is in there?” Eve whispers as they stop at the door. Geraldine shrugs, typing in the security code. The door clicks open. Geraldine explains her thinking as she strides on in.

“Well, the odds are low; its the middle of the day, so whoever lives there will either be at work, or out enjoying the sunshine. I wouldn’t stay in this building for any longer than I had to, good lord.”

The entrance hall is dingy, and unloved. Some of the floor tiles are missing. Eve wrinkles her nose at the musty smell.

“I’m not sure assassins keep regular nine to five working hours.”

“Well, if someone is there, I’m just going to say ‘whoops, wrong address’, and then we can go to somewhere else on the list. I’m sure it isn’t that complicated, Mum has made it clear it isn’t difficult.”

“But-” Eve is following Geraldine up the stairs now, trying to squash her instinct to creep, lifting her suitcase up high to avoid it bumping on the steps. Geraldine’s shoes squeak on each step. Geraldine carries on talking.

“Obviously if Villanelle was here then she could just kill whoever answered the door, but-”

This time Eve interrupts, and she isn’t shocked at the notion of death, but she is unsettled because Geraldine isn’t even making an effort to lower her voice. “Just kill?”

“Look, the gentleman who lives here isn’t a very nice man, according to Mum, and we can’t be all high and mighty about our morals.”

Eve stares at the back of Geraldine’s head for a long second. When she speaks, Eve feels like her voice is coming from a long way away. She holds on to the bannister with exaggerated care.

“Uh, I would imagine it’ll be a bit more complicated, if we go around killing people. People tend to notice the bodies, and ask questions.”

Geraldine flaps a dismissive hand at her, throwing a quick smile over her shoulder as she heads towards the door in question.

“I’m not suggesting we do it, although I can’t imagine it can be that complicated. But it would be quicker than having to leave here and then come back later. We do want to try and get this over and done with quickly.”

“Carolyn wants us to bring down an international crime network and you think we should get it over and done with quickly?”

“Yes? How else? I know Mum said I should take a gap year but a gap ‘long weekend’ would be infinitely preferable… ah here we are.”

Geraldine stoops in front of the door and flips over the doormat.

There is no key.

Eve represses an urge to scoff, because although she does want this to work, she doesn’t want Geraldine’s first experience of espionage to go as smoothly as Geraldine has been imagining.

“Oh” Geraldine says flatly, and then straightens up, staring at the floor. Eve clears her throat.

“Maybe we should take a moment to come up with a different plan? Or are you going to break down the door?”

Geraldine looks around herself, hands on hips. Then her eyes settle on a dead pot plant, which sits on a small table next to the door. She picks it up.

There’s a key underneath.

“Excellent” Geraldine says, just as Eve rolls her eyes. She picks up the key, inserts it into the lock, and then unlocks the door. And then she just barges in, to Eve’s consternation. Geraldine bellows “Hello! Only me!” as she walks in. Eve darts after her, whispered concerns jostling in her throat.

“What are you doing?”

Geraldine walks further into the apartment, sticks her head through a couple of door frames, and then heads into a bedroom, tossing her handbag on the bed. “I’m announcing myself like an English tourist would, if they were accidentally walking into the wrong apartment. Why, am I doing it wrong?”

Eve“No, but…. we are trying to be subtle? We should be sneaking, not shouting.”

“I would have thought that sneaking around suspiciously would only make someone more suspicious of us… anyway, it doesn’t matter. No one is home. I’m going to start in here, do you want to start in another room?”

“Start what?” Eve says blankly.

“Looking for papers?? The thing we are here for?”

Eve abruptly feels like this whole thing is getting away from her. She’s usually better than this. Geraldine is throwing her off her game, not that she had much game to start with.

“I’ll look in the lounge.”

…..

After five minutes of fruitless searching, Eve comes to the conclusion that someone else has been here first.

“Geraldine, have you found anything?

“No… though I think I have found where things used to be?”

“Yeah” says Eve, staring down at a suspiciously empty drawer, with small bits of debris clustered in the corners. “Yeah, I have that too. Someone has been here before us.”

“Well that’s inconvenient.”

Eve opens her mouth to say it is a little bit more than inconvenient, when she hears footsteps in the doorway.

“Qui est là?”

Oh shit.

A tall, well muscled man in his thirties appears in at the threshold, and takes a couple of steps inside. Eve instinctively says “Ahhhhh, bonjour!”, even as she panics and tries to disappear further in the apartment.

“Uh, je suis, uh, une tourist, et je pense que-”

The man is following her, looking furious, and Eve knew this was a stupid plan, she knew that her non existent luck wouldn’t make it through the first stop, and she knows that she is probably about to die.

She’s just scrabbling around in the kitchen drawers, hoping for a knife or a prayer or a French dictionary, or a something, when Geraldine appears to the left of the man, holding her scarf to her face, and promptly sprays an unidentified aerosol in the man’s face.

The man clasps his hands to his face, and then drops to the floor.

Eve stares.

The man starts moaning in pain.

Geraldine puts the aerosol can back in her handbag.

“What the… did you just mace him??”

The man’s groans grow louder. Geraldine looks at her as if she is being ridiculous, and then coughs a little, wafting her hands in front of her face.

“No? No. It’s something called bear spray, it apparently repels 97% of bears.”

“And you… you just… have that in your bag?”

“Yes, to protect myself.”

“From the wild bears of London?”

“No, from rapists, I thought it would work just the same- look, can we get out of here? We are clearly too late to gather any papers, and this gentleman is too noisy to talk over….”

Before they leave, Eve checks the fridge, and finds half a pint of milk. It’s probably on the verge of going off, but she leaves it next to the man who is clutching at his face.

“Here is some milk for your face” she mutters. The man moans, and then says something incomprehensible that is probably impassioned French swearing. It certainly sounds very French.

Geraldine is standing in the door way, both her suitcase and Eve’s suitcase parked neatly at her feet, ready to go. She motions slightly at Eve.

“Well come on then.”

She looks just like her mother.

…..

The rest of the day continues in the same vein, although thankfully they do not have to use the bear spray again.

Eve and Geraldine arrive at reasonably unremarkable apartments. Each one has the air of being recently evacuated. They find nothing but empty drawers, no papers, no laptops, no point, no purpose.

Geraldine continues to approach breaking into the property of an international crime organisation as if she is on a particularly disappointing episode of Love It or List It. She is unabashed, practical, and unnervingly calm and polite about the whole thing, and Eve is hating every second.

It’s not like Eve just expected Geraldine to be a mess the whole time. That would have been annoying as well. But… would it be too much to ask for Geraldine to be a little flustered on occasion? To ask Eve what she thinks they should do? The last time Eve checked, she was the one who had worked for Mi5, not Geraldine. But no, Geraldine has the whole thing under control it would seem. At one point around midday, Geraldine delves into her bag and produces a pot of homemade pasta salad she had pre-prepared. Eve nearly throws the damn thing on the floor.

Eve has an urge to tell Geraldine that she has killed a man, has stepped on a woman she hated to watch her suffocate, broken every rule that she could find. Because this is Eve’s territory, she doesn’t need a pasta salad making, bear spray toting, side kick who can speak better French than Eve can.

So yeah, she is in a foul mood.

They book into a hotel for the night, a whole day spent in fruitless nothingness.

Eve’s feet are sore, and she thinks the wheels on her suitcase might give out soon.

“I’m going to check in with my mum, and find out what she thinks we should do, because this approach clearly isn’t working… would you like to sit in on the call?”

“No” Eve says sourly, staring at the elevator buttons. “No, I’m going to sleep. I’m sure you can fill me in in the morning.”

It’s a small hotel room, but it has a bed and a shower and Eve couldn’t give a shit about anything else right now. The sun set long ago, but her room is faintly illuminated from the street lights and car headlights below her window.

Tomorrow she is going to insist they hire a car. It’s just not practical to be hauling across Paris by foot.

Eve gets into the shower, and attempts to wash away some of the aches in her joints. The water pressure is good, and Eve tries to relax, tries to mentally identify some positives.

Her mind lingers on Villanelle, who she hasn’t heard from since that one abrupt message in the morning.

She steps out of the shower, and wraps a towel around herself, rolling her neck from side to side in a way that she hopes will replace half an hour of listening to a mindfulness podcast.

Eve wonders if Villanelle is in the same city as her.

She hopes she is.

Eve lies down on the bed, the coolness of the sheets a relief. She reaches for her phone.

Where are you?

The reply is almost instant, as though Villanelle was waiting for her, had her phone in her hand ready for her.

Paris. You?

Same. We have been zigzagging across the city, trying to gather paperwork, but every time we get into a place someone has been there before us.

Yes, that probably will have been us. Konstantin has been collecting paperwork all day.

Eve stares at the screen, and then stares blankly at the ceiling for a minute, because of course. Of course, she doesn’t know why she doesn’t see these things.

Oh well this is ridiculous then.

She can imagine Villanelle grinning at this.

You need to get ahead of us.

Eve frowns.

Us? Whose side are you on?

Villanelle takes a moment to answer.

Ours. You and me. I’m just… playing the game. The more information the better.

Eve’s thumbs hover, inarticulate.

I’m not sure we count as our own side.

It would be nice though, wouldn’t it? Villanelle’s answer is instant, and Eve smiles, before changing the subject.

Where are you going next?

I don’t know, Konstantin needs another day and then we head south.

Eve reads this a couple of times, and realises she is biting her lip, worrying at the skin.

None of this adds up she sends, eventually.

Agreed. I don’t think there is a promotion waiting for me. But I want to know what is happening.

Eve sighs, and rests her phone against her chest.

She’s just tired of it all, and that’s what makes her look for a shortcut.

Do you want to just blow this whole thing off?

???

Eve breathes in deeply, steeling herself to commit to an impulse.

… the whole thing. Konstantin can’t point a gun at me now, I’m sure you can sneak past him, Geraldine is in another room, we could just leave them.

Eve knows that she hasn’t said that they should meet, but she can rely on Villanelle to make that leap.

…do you remember where my old apartment is? The nice one.

Eve smiles softly.

Yes. I’m not sure I could ever forget.

Meet me there?

When?

Now

Chapter Text

They meet in the street outside Villanelle’s old apartment.

Eve is wearing her coat, and she hates that she is wearing her coat, but normal humans do not have the time to go shopping in between crossing borders and breaking into apartments and hastily googling ‘bear spray’ on their phones. Besides, she is now in Paris, which is hardly the cheapest place to get a wardrobe overhaul unless she is willing to take out another mortgage.

But she has tried to wear something nice underneath her coat, a soft white blouse with hints of silver in the seams, that Eve knows she looks good in. And she’s worn her hair down, and spritzed herself with perfume before she left, because-

Because?

They arrive at almost the same time. That makes it difficult. No one is waiting for the other. No one gets to announce a welcome. No one sees the other, and keeps walking forward anyway.

Eve barely registers Villanelle until she’s almost walked into her, she’s so pre-occupied with looking up at the building, checking for a street name to try and track whether she has found the correct place.

“Hey”

“Oh shit!… Hey.”

Villanelle looks guarded, and barely smiles, just motions that Eve should follow her down the entrance alley.

“I have keys” Villanelle says, patting her pockets. She’s wearing a black bomber jacket, one that Eve hasn’t seen before, but then again Eve has never seen Villanelle in the same outfit twice. She doesn’t know how she does this, but has long consigned it to a unexplained mystery of Villanelle. Everything else Villanelle is wearing is also black. Eve wonders if she is in mourning, or if this is more of a covert operation than she had initially anticipated.

“You do?”

“I had them copied, as a back up, and I would be very surprised if they have had the locks replaced…” Villanelle tries the key in the front door, and it opens easily. “Ah, see? No common sense. I don’t know how the Twelve work, but I think they must rotate through leaders once a week, there is no sign of any kind of joined up thinking. They are all stupid.” All of this comes tumbling out of Villanelle abruptly, as though she’s been holding on to it for a while. Eve snorts in sympathy.

“Flawed middle management is a universal problem, it would seem.”

Villanelle gives her a dark look over her shoulder.

“I would do things better. I know that you all think that I am some kind of moron, some kind of chicken without a head, but-”

Villanelle starts climbing the stairs, leaving Eve spreads her hands.

“Whoa, I am not thinking that, who is this ‘all’ that you are grouping me in with?”

“Konstantin. Dasha, fuck Dasha. Carolyn, Carolyn is another one who thinks I am incapable of anything except the most direct instructions, step by step, spoon-feeding a baby-”

Eve realises now that Villanelle is almost shaking with rage, and she thrusts her hands into her pockets with odd, jerky movements, as though willing herself to go through the motions of normality rather than just kicking the door in. Eve watches her in alarm.

“Are you sure it is empty?”

“No?” Villanelle opens the door, striding in as if trying to get something painful over and done with. Eve lingers in the doorway for a moment, suddenly apprehensive.

“So what is your plan if there are people here?”

“I will ask them to leave or make them leave-” Villanelle crosses from one side of the apartment to another, from kitchen to bedroom, and then ducking into bathroom. Eve can tell she is trying to absorb as much information as possible, and she can hear Villanelle making tiny of sniffs of disapproval, as she processes whatever changes have been made.

There can’t be anyone else in the apartment. Eve wonders where the occupants are. It is definitely lived in. She eyes linger on the small side table by the door. It has a yellow china bowl on top of it, which contains all the items not allowed to make it further into the house, small change, contact cards, complimentary restaurant sweets, miscellaneous keys and buttons and junk.

Next to it there is a coat stand. It is covered in many, many coats, and one hat.

This was not a good idea, she realises abruptly.

“We should go somewhere else Vill.”

Villanelle appears, and gestures at the floor.

“No. Here is good. Why are you waiting in the doorway? Please come in.”

Eve steps cautiously forward, approaching Villanelle.

“I was waiting for an invite.”

“What, are you a vampire?”

“No, just… being polite.”

Villanelle puts her hands on her hips, looking away from Eve again and making a show of casting around the apartment. She’s frowning now.

“Someone with bad taste is living here now.”

Eve doesn’t feel qualified to make any comments about taste, particularly if she remembers what her current ‘home’ looks like.

Something about the air in this place feels familiar. Almost comforting. Which is insane considering the only time she has been in here before was a time that involved stabbing and screaming. Great job subconscious.

“We’re lucky that they aren’t here at the moment.”

“Mmm” Villanelle says noncommittally, and there is an unexplained story here, but Eve isn’t sure she wants to know. Villanelle walks away from her, walks into the bedroom, and opens the wardrobe. She stares at the clothes for a long second, and then turns back to Eve.

The deja vu doesn’t so much hit as it does clothesline Eve. Villanelle blows her cheeks out.

“I think we should call a truce Eve.”

“But we aren’t fighting?”

“That’s true. But this is neutral territory, okay?”

“This used to be your home, how can it be neutral if you literally used to live here-”

Villanelle blinks at Eve, and then presses her fingers to her forehead for a moment, looking frustrated.

“I am not expressing myself very well here… I mean I think we should put current circumstances behind us, the circumstances where Konstantin and I are going to the Twelve and you and Geraldine are doing I don’t know what… we should forget that, and just be you and me.”

“Okay” Eve says cautiously, unsure what she is committing to.

It doesn't help to remember that she is standing where Villanelle was lying on the floor, looking like she was about to bleed out at any second. Eve wants to check the floorboards for blood stains.

Villanelle clears her throat.

“If the Twelve give me an offer of a better job, then I am going to take it.”

Eve returns to the now with the abruptness of a floor giving way.

“What? Why… why would you do that?”

Villanelle spreads her hands, looking determined.

“Why not? I have worked hard for them, they should want to reward me. It’ll be a good reward, and I want it?”

“But this-”

“And I’m not involved in all of your shit, I don’t care about tracking the Twelve, they can do what they want, and if I like what they offer, then I’ll do what I want.” Villanelle is frowning at Eve now, daring her to challenge her, and Eve doesn’t even have time to formulate her thoughts before the next explanation is tumbling out of Villanelle’s mouth.

“But-”

“I can’t keep killing for a living, it’s gone” Villanelle starts tapping at her temple, and her eyes are abruptly full of tears “something has gone in my head Eve, I’ve lost the-”

“What are you even-” Eve tries to interrupt, but Villanelle keeps getting louder, and Eve doesn’t even think Villanelle is talking to her, she is trying to have an argument with someone else, someone else who isn’t here.

“You can’t make me carry on doing it, you don’t know anything about me-”

Eve fills her lungs, and tries to match Villanelle’s pitch and urgency.

“Why are you trying to have an argument with me, I’m just trying to talk to you! Save the yelling for the people who are actually trying to make you kill for a living, if that’s the problem.”

Villanelle looks away, deflating instantly. She shifts her weight, and the floorboards creak underneath her.

“This isn’t going to work, I don’t know why I thought-”

Eve laughs. It’s probably not the best response, but it’s the only one she’s got, because she had thought she was coming here for… well. She doesn’t know. Not this.

“What the hell has Konstantin been saying to you that’s made you this… mad with me?”

Villanelle sits on the stool by the dressing table. It is disconcerting, and Eve rages with every fibre of her being to stay standing, to avoid going to sit opposite her, at the foot of the bed. Villanelle looks sadly at her, and then holds her head in her hands for a moment, leaning her elbows on her knees. When she lifts her head to make eye contact again its with a deep breath, as though she is breaking the surface after a spell underwater.

“You are going to be mad with me. You don’t know all the things-”

Eve doesn’t mean to sound dismissive, but she does scoff slightly, because she already knows everything, and that’s the point, isn’t it? Eve already knows everything, and she still likes her.

“I know you have killed many people, I’m not sure what worse things you can reveal?”

Villanelle looks at the floor. She doesn’t say anything for a long moment. When she does speak, it’s so quietly that Eve has to strain to hear.

“Is this what you meant? When you said we would consume each other before we got old?”

Eve has to stare at her for a moment before she remembers what Villanelle is referring to. In Eve’s mind, this had just been a throw away comment, but Villanelle has clearly been turning it over in her mind for some time.

“I didn’t think we’d start consuming each other in this first minute.”

“Why did you kiss me?”

Eve drags herself from a ballroom to the back of a bus. If she closes her eyes, she can still feel the pain on her forehead.

“I don’t know.”

Villanelle looks up sharply. “You don’t know? How can you-”

She cuts off.

They stare at each other.

Just some peace and quiet, Eve thinks. Just the ability to have a normal conversation. To talk about their favourite movies, or what they do for fun, anything other than this constant, constant-

Villanelle’s eyes are shining, but Eve is incapable of attaching a recognisable emotion to her. Villanelle huffs out a short laugh.

“Did you want to kiss me, or do you also not know that either?”

Eve spreads her hands wide, before dropping them.

“That is basically the same question - look Villanelle, I thought… ha, when I suggested we meet up, I thought we’d maybe go get some food together, or… I don’t know. Talk about small things? I don’t know if I have the energy for-”

Villanelle stands up, smoothes her hands over her thighs in apparent attention to any creases, and then looks up at Eve, shoving her hands in her blazer pockets as she does so, and they haven’t even taken off their coats, why does this whole things feel so ridiculous?

“You are going to find something out.”

“Hmm?”

“Listen to me. You are going to find something out.”

“I am?”

“Something you will not like. Something that you will hate me for. So I’m going to tell you here, when we are face to face.”

Eve can feel her stomach dropping away from her. But then she thinks.

“I don’t know if….if I can hate you? All the things that could have gone wrong… they’ve already happened, and I don’t hate you for any of it. Niko, Kenny… god, Bill, I should hate you, but-”

Villanelle sighs shortly, and then motions slightly with her hand.

“Get on the bed.”

Eve blinks. Her head is suddenly filled with a roaring, the warning of an oncoming train.

“Get on the bed. Where I was.”

Eve knows exactly what she means.

Her legs don’t seem to want to move, but she manages it. She perches on the mattress, and then shifts herself upwards, until she is lying half back on the bed, propped up on her elbows.

Villanelle is staring at her. Eve’s fingers are twisting slightly in the smooth sheets, and she tries to still them.

This is where Villanelle had looked up at her, gasping, with a knife in her guts, and Eve had been holding the knife, and regretting, regretting-

Villanelle stands up. And Eve knows what is going to happen, but it is still completely horrifying when Villanelle comes to the bed, climbs on top of it, and then climbs on top of Eve.

Horrifying? Her heart is racing like she’s scared, and the adrenaline spike is so intense that she back feel it at the back of her teeth, but…

Horrifying is the wrong word. Language hasn’t yet invented the correct word.

Villanelle touches her.

She makes a pointer by pressing her index and middle finger together, and then drags the tips from the bottom of Eve’s ribcage downward, until they are resting in the right place.

“You stabbed me about here. Mainly because I killed your best friend, and you were mad with me.”

Eve feels like she’s swallowed a sofa. “There were other elements involved-” she manages, but her sentence dies, because Villanelle abruptly looks so sad.

“I wish I didn’t know you so well.”

“What?”

“Some people would take what comes next as good news, but you-” Villanelle gives a hollow laugh, and shakes her head. “You will hate me.”

“Seriously, I need some kind of context clue here-”

Villanelle leans down, and kisses her.

Eve is so torn in every direction that she does nothing, she can’t seem to tip one way or another. Villanelle’s lips are soft, and she holds them against Eve’s for two seconds, maybe three, before breaking away, and sighing quietly. She stays close, nudging her nose against Eve’s cheekbone like she’s waiting for reciprocation, begging for reciprocation, and then leans away again. She looks down at Eve’s body, at the place where her two fingers are still pressing lightly into Eve’s stomach, and echo of a memory of a revenge of a rebalance of a-

Villanelle opens her mouth to speak.

Eve grabs at her sweater, just beneath her neckline, and bunches it in her fist. She tugs on in slightly.

“Don’t tell me yet.”

When she pulls Villanelle down, the kiss lasts half a moment, before Villanelle is moaning, and that opens her mouth, and Eve cannot take enough, will never feel stated by anything that happens next-

She’s so beautiful.

Eve just wants to drown in her.

Villanelle kisses her, and kisses her again, and Eve is barely aware if she is kissing back, she’s just taking, because she deserves this, she’s earned this. Villanelle moans again, and Eve replies in kind, and her hand is holding at Villanelle’s chin, and then gripping at the back of her head, because it can’t be allowed to end, she doesn’t want whatever comes next to arrive.

God she’s so warm, and real, and-

Eve moans when her brain stops having joined up thoughts, and moans again when the pressure against her waist increases for a moment, and Villanelle is moving her mouth against Eve’s, and the softness of her lips has Eve desperate for something sharp, something to counterbalance the sweetness. It can’t be this sweet, it can’t be.

Villanelle is breathing hard in her ear now, and Eve is grabbing at her clothes, trying to pull her even closer. She bites at Villanelle’s neck, and maybe she is a vampire, she could get behind it as a lifestyle choice if Villanelle makes that noise every time Eve drags her teeth over her neck.

It’s easier, knowing something is about to happen to ruin this. It’s just like old times. Eve isn’t sure that she is made for easy romance any more. Blood and death and fury but god if she keeps moving like that?

After a particularly firm press of Villanelle’s hips down into Eve’s body, Eve whimpers. Villanelle stills herself.

Don’t stop, Eve thinks, don’t stop now, don’t leave again.

Villanelle bites once at her lip, and then rests her forehead against Eve’s.

“I have to go” she says, sounding regretful.

“No you don’t? No you… where are you even going to go?” Eve says all this as Villanelle picks herself up, hops to the edge of the bed, and then stands.

“Away from you.”

Eve is abruptly furious. She sits up on the bed, and now her hands are gripping the sheets for a different reason.

“Oh, back to Konstantin? Off to investigate your new life? Well that’s just fucking bullshit, what about-”

is what she nearly says, but she breaks off. Eve swivels her legs to the edge of the bed, feeling embarrassed at the way Villanelle just shut down the whole moment. She runs her hands through her hair, irritated that she hasn’t got a tie to haul it all back with. Villanelle looks at her.

“What about..?” she prompts.

Eve is not going to answer honestly.

“What about Kenny?”

Villanelle snorts.

“I didn’t know Kenny. This is…” Villanelle sighs, and then passes a hand over her forehead, before tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She appears to reach a decision.

“This is about your other one.”

“What?”

“Your other friend. We never talked about him. Bill.” Villanelle says his name with a roll of her eyes and sarcastic quotation fingers.

Eve feels like she is struggling to find anything higher than second gear in her brain.

“What?”

“He isn’t dead.”

…..

Chapter Text

None of this is to plan.

In Villanelle’s head, all of this had gone very differently.

Of course, it is hard to plan exactly how a conversation goes, Villanelle is aware that in conversations people don’t stick to their lines and cues in the way that Villanelle expects them to, in the way Villanelle has rehearsed in her head. But usually, if Villanelle is quick enough on her verbal feet, the direction of the conversation can stick to the general spirit of the outcome she was aiming for.

The problem is, and Villanelle knows it is a problem, she’s not completely insane…. the problem is timing.

It always comes back to timings.

Villanelle should have told Eve sooner, but it just never came up, and then it was too far in the past, and then Villanelle had allowed herself to forget about the situation because clearly Eve would just never find out.

‘Never’ is such a foolish hope.

And then Villanelle had seen Bill, in that photo. ‘Bill’, or ‘Charles’, or probably neither, nobody uses their real name these days.

And then obviously the wheels were going to fall off, because she hadn’t even considered that Bill/Charles would still be active within the Twelve. She had thought the whole pantomime in the Berlin night club had been to allow ‘Bill’ to disappear into the ether, not to simply allow him to relocate to Paris and carry on doing whatever it is he actually does.

Villanelle becomes aware that Eve is staring at her.

It’s not a turned on stare. It’s the stare of someone who has just heard a joke in extremely poor taste.

Making out with Eve had been a bad idea, but we are where we are Villanelle decides robustly, before opening her mouth to launch into an explanation that will definitely clear everything up.

Eve holds up a finger the moment she sees Villanelle start to speak.

“No.”

Villanelle shuts her mouth, and like, she does what she wants, obviously, and she takes orders from no one, but it just so happens that she decided to close her mouth at the exact moment Eve raised her finger.

Eve looks at a point beyond Villanelle’s shoulder for a long, fixed silence, and then waves her hand to dismiss the situation.

“Yes he is. Bill is dead. I called the ambulance. I had his blood on my hands. I went to his funeral. You stabbed him repeatedly. For fun. Do not fuck with me.”

Villanelle looks around the walls in exasperation, her walls, with all their faded patterns.

“When have you ever known me to kill someone for fun?”

Eve scoffs, and Villanelle presses the point, sharp as a knife, waiting for it to draw blood.

“No, seriously. I don’t kill for fun. Sometimes it is fun, or someone is annoying, but… I don’t kill for fun. Never did.” Villanelle finds herself blowing out her cheeks, and then putting her hands on her hips. “And now all the fun that was there before seems to have disappeared so…”

Eve gapes at her, and now she’s standing up from her perch on the bed. She takes a step forward, but she doesn’t need to, Villanelle can hear her perfectly clearly.

“You know that that is a really fucked up place to draw a line? You only kill people if they are annoying, but not just for sport, oh great, you want a fucking medal-”

Villanelle has to fight hard to stop herself from rolling her eyes, but Eve isn’t listening? She needs her to listen.

“Bill was a job. I was paid. It was arranged. His death needed to be faked. The blood wasn’t real, it was one of those chest things, I don’t know, I never understood the props, and I never asked why before, but now-”

Eve isn’t even looking at Villanelle, she’s engaged on her own soliloquy on the rules of comedy in reference to recent deaths. She gestures to the audience that isn’t there.

“-if this is some kind of fucking joke then it is really over the line, there’s too soon and there’s too fucking soon, I still miss Bill every day and here you are claiming some kind of fucking miracle even though I was the one who was trying to stop him from bleeding on the dance floor-”

Villanelle scowls at that, because rewriting history to that extent cannot be allowed to slide.

“You were not. Sorry to interrupt, but you were not. And if you are going to understand this at all you need to fucking listen with your ears and not with your misplaced sense of injustice.”

“Misplaced??”

Villanelle raises her voice, and she’s not yelling, it’s just that Eve is not listening.

“You were not trying to stop him bleeding. You were holding one of Bill’s hands and screaming his name, a first aider was actually trying to stop him from bleeding out, except Bill wasn’t bleeding out, because the whole thing was a fake! The first aider was a plant, the ambulance was a plant, the whole thing was faked. I was watching you, and I wasn’t screaming the entire time, so my recollection is a bit clearer than yours.”

Eve stares blindly at her, and then puts her hand to her eyes.

“I’m dreaming, this is a bad fucking dream-”

“Okay I’m really going to need you to concentrate…I saw a picture of Bill in with the belongings of someone who works for the Twelve. Are you listening to me? Your friend Bill was in the Twelve.”

Eve laughs, a little desperately.

“He was not. I knew Bill. He was my friend.”

“Yeah, well, it turns out that a person can be likeable whilst also still being not that great. Bill worked for the Twelve. And he’s still with them. I understand it now.”

“Villanelle, I literally went to his funeral, you understand you actually sound like a crazy person right now.”

“Eve… look he must have been planted in Mi5, had been working undercover, and he needed extracting. But maybe Bill was so embedded, that he couldn’t just disappear. So they put together the whole thing.”

“You killed him-”

“I was hired, specifically to not kill him! I was told to what to expect, ha, an older man in a hat would compliment my scarf, and then he would follow me to that night club, and there I would pretend to kill him. They told me we had to act has though we were being watched the whole time, because there was a potential witness who would need to be convinced if they happened to have eyes on the deception…and that was you. You were the witness. I didn’t know, that it was going to be you. But you needed to be deceived. Although it seems I could have shot him with a water pistol and you’d still blame the death on me.”

Eve suddenly goes pale with fury. She fixes on Villanelle like a sniper rifle, and approaches her, jabbing a finger at her accusatorially.

“This isn’t okay, you dickhead. You hear me? Don’t fucking bring Bill up, you have no right, I had his blood all over my hands-”

“It wasn’t real blood, will you just listen to me, and I will explain, maybe I can throw together some kind of power point, are you a visual learner because-”

“No! No I am not going to listen to whatever kind of fucked up practical joke this is, whatever parade of bullshit, I am not, listening!

Villanelle stands her ground.

But.

Her throat tightens. And fine, you know? She fucking gives up.

And then she steps closer.

“Are you going to head butt me again?”

Eve’s nostrils flare. Villanelle waits for half a second longer than she should, and then steps away, shrugging.

“Okay Eve. You don’t want to hear? I’ll let you figure it all out. Carolyn has probably half pieced it together by now, or maybe she knew all along. Either way, the powerful combination of you and Geraldine will no doubt burn through this mystery like lighter fluid - goodbye Eve. I am sorry, I didn’t mean for the evening to go like this.”

Eve opens her mouth to speak, or to swear, or to yell, Villanelle isn’t sure.

But then there is the unmistakable sound of the front door being opened, and some keys being tossed on the side table.

And then nothing.

Villanelle takes a slow deep breath, just as she can see that Eve has stopped breathing altogether. She shifts her weight slowly, willing the part of floorboards that she is currently standing upon to be as silent as she remembers them.

There is no other way out. There isn’t a fire escape, there isn’t an escape hatch, there’s the front door or there is a scramble down crumbling brick work to street level, and although Villanelle backs herself, she doesn’t back Eve.

She doesn’t have a weapon, Villanelle has only ever carried weapons when she was on a mission. But she can improvise, if the worst comes to the worst.

Besides, the easiest thing is to probably just talk their way out of whatever is about to happen next.

Eve is gesturing minutely at her, frantically indicating that’s she’s going to let Villanelle take the lead on this one. “Yeah okay” Villanelle mouths sarcastically at her, before stepping into the corridor, ready to cheerily English tourist her way out of trouble.

Oh.

“Oh.”

She stares at the arrival for a long time, and is stared at in return.

Villanelle puts her hand to her head, and grimaces.

“Okay, I literally cannot figure out the implication algebra here in real time, so I’m just going to go with my gut… look Eve, Bill’s so fucking alive he is actually here! Here is Bill! Alive! And with immaculate timing, could you hear us talking about you or something?”

Eve rounds the corner, and-

And.

And?

Villanelle is good with people’s emotions. She can catch flickers of fear, half seconds of hesitation, the facial flinches that indicate when a person is psyching themselves up for something.

Eve just stares at Bill. And there is not a trace of emotion on her face, not a whisper.

No one says anything for what feels like about half a year.

Villanelle turns to Bill, because it sure as fuck isn’t her moment to break the silence.

He’s just a man. Villanelle has ceased to be surprised by the people that work for the Twelve, really, the Venn diagram is just a series of circles standing around glaring at each other from separate corners of the room. But they all have had something about there. Something indefinably impressive. Even Konstantin has gravitas, for all his wildly annoying personality traits.

Bill is just a man. Bad hair, bad clothes, general aura of nothingness.

Villanelle didn’t have much time to weigh him up in their first and only encounters, but she’s built him up in her head because of how important she knew Bill was to Eve, because of the betrayal Bill’s ‘death’ represented.

But nope. Just a man.

Bill is saying nothing. He just stands there, coat still on, and gapes at Eve.

Villanelle looks at Eve. She’s still just staring back.

Just as Villanelle is wondering what would happen if she waved her hand in their direct line of sight, Bill makes a small noise, something that almost sounds like a snort, shakes his head, and starts taking off his coat.

It seems to unfreeze Eve. She points at him.

“What, the fuck, are you doing here?”

Bill makes small awkward face, and hangs his coat up on the coat stand.

“Well, I live here, at the moment, so… why are you in my apartment?”

“This is my apartment” Villanelle says reflexively, but Eve is abruptly yelling over her. Villanelle’s eyebrows bounce up into the air, and she can tell that a lot of things are going to happen quite quickly, in the immediate future.

“I didn’t mean why are you in this particular postcode, I mean why the fuck are you not in the fucking afterlife!” Eve, for some reason, has picked up a book from somewhere, and she brandishes it at Bill, almost blindly.

Bill tugs at his chin slightly and then takes a step towards Eve, both hands low down by his side, palms open towards Eve.

“Would you believe me when I say I can explain?”

Eve laughs at the ceiling, a strange, desperate sound, like the words are not coming.

“Would you believe me when I ram this book down your throat? Why the fuck are you alive, what the-” Eve trails off, and then just screams incoherently. She points at him, and refills her lungs.

“I had your blood on my hands?

Bill, in an act of near suicidal tendencies, shrugs slightly.

“Just a flesh wound?” he speculates with half a cautious grin, and wow, for someone who claims to have been Eve’s best friend for however many years, he truly seems to have no idea the amount of fury that is about to avalanche over him.

“You bastard!” Eve yells, and then does actually throw the book at his head. Bill ducks, but it still glances off his back. “You bastard, you bastard-”

Eve is advancing on him now, and Bill is backing away, ducking sideways into the bathroom, holding his hands up in the air partly in protest, partly to protect himself from any other missiles.

“Look, there really is no need-”

“Oh, you THINK?” Eve yells, but Villanelle decides that this is the time to catch her around the waist, because there is a strong possibility that Eve is so angry with Bill for not being a murder victim that she finishes the job herself.

“Get off me!”

“No, we are going Eve”

“We are not, I’m going to kill him, you bastard-”

“You can’t kill him now, you’ve alerted the entire building to your fury, there’s no way you’d get away with it, ow!”

Eve is now flailing at her, and it’s only her fists on Villanelle’s shoulders, but ow?

“Get off me!”

Villanelle manhandles her out of the door, but not before Eve grabs a yellow dish by the front door, and manages to fling it at Bill’s head. He ducks, again, but Eve’s aim is off, so it bounces ineffectually off the door frame and shatters on the floor.

“Hey!”

“Eve, for fuck’s sake…” Villanelle gets them out into the hall, and then hauls the door closed behind them, closing Bill in her apartment.

Eve stares at her, wild eyed and wild breaths.

“Let me back in.”

Villanelle dismisses this flatly.

“No.”

“Let me back in.”

‘Still no. What are you going to do? Other than be arrested for screaming?”

“I’m going to kill him.”

“For not being dead? Sure, that adds up.”

Eve stares at her for a fury filled second, and then abrupt turns away, marching down the stairs. Villanelle follows, curious.

“So what are you doing now?”

Eve hauls the front door open like she hopes to tear it from the hinges.

“I am going, to set, the building on fire.”

Villanelle has to work hard not to laugh, lest she be used as kindling.

“No you are not.”

“Yes I am. Bring me some dried leaves.”

Villanelle spreads her hands.

“Oh I’ll just find a forest shall I?”

“Yes” Eve snaps, and then snaps “Yes!” again, before advancing on Villanelle, who takes a hurried step backwards, colliding with a bin.

“Bring me some fucking leaves or I will set your coat on fire!”

Villanelle takes a deep breath.

“Eve, as much as I admire your decision to switch to arson to process your feelings, and believe me, I’ve been there, maybe we could this plan on hold for a few days?”

“On hold?” Eve struggles with that, Villanelle can see the workings of her mouth, the furious twist to her eyebrows. Villanelle smooths a hand over her jacket, because she likes this jacket and she doesn’t want it to be used as fire lighter.

“Eve” she says soothingly, “You know who’s turn it is to be yelled at? Carolyn’s. She probably knew all about this, because when doesn’t she? You should go and yell at Carolyn, and then, if you still need dried leaves, I will find you some.”