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still, the tide rises

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жизнь прожить не поле перейти 

(life is not a bed of roses)

 

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Fuck Eve. 

 

Villanelle is seething, teeth clenched and vision red despite her external calm as she walks from the ruins. Fuck Eve. Fuck Eve for giving her no other choice. Fuck Eve for turning away. Fuck Eve for not just coming with her. Fuck Eve for being so stupid and naive to think either of them could ever go back to their old lives after this. 

 

Fuck Eve for thinking the world would just leave them alone after Aaron Peele’s death. Fuck Eve for thinking someone would get her out of this. Fuck Eve for thinking she could go home. 

 

There’s no home anymore. Not for her. Not for Villanelle. Not for Oksana either. They’re all as good as dead now, and it’s all Eve’s fault. Eve’s fault for not trusting her, Eve’s fault for seeing her actions as something as simple as manipulation and not something much, much deeper. Fuck Eve for not understanding what she has given up to be here. Fuck Eve for thinking that she’s the only one with feelings. 

 

Villanelle might be more volatile, she might be able to turn them off like the switch of a kettle but they’re still there. She has a heart; Eve’s seen the red pool in her own hands to prove it. She’s blood and bone and gristle and pain and rage and fury and defeat, now, and it’s all Eve’s fault. 

 

Fuck Eve for pretending that she could walk away. Fuck Eve for calling her bluff. Fuck Eve for thinking she was different enough to spare. 

 

If I can’t have you, no one can. If I can’t have you, no one can.  If I can’t have you, no one can. No one can no one can no one can. And now they never will. 

 

Her parting gift isn’t an instantly fatal shot unless Eve has something nestled in amongst the tissue of her gut out of place, not unless something is twisted around another organ in a way it shouldn’t be. It’s not a fatal shot, no, but it’ll hurt . And that’s what she wants. She wants Eve to hurt like she does, she wants Eve to ache and scream and cry with the frustration of everything they could have had if she’d had the sense to understand. 

 

She knows she’s the only person on earth who could keep Eve safe because she knows she’s the only person on earth capable of breaking through whatever guard Carolyn and MI5, if they’re still in this game, might put around her. She’ll claw her way through whatever they put between the two of them if Eve survives, she’ll spit out a mouthful of blood at the end, wipe the blood from her lip and kiss the desire off Eve’s mouth as she watches Villanelle rise like Hades, like Lilith, drenched in blood and here, and the end of the game, at the end of all things, for her. 

 

They are the same, she knows it even if Eve denies it, even if Eve denies it until her dying breath leaves her. She knows because she’s watched; she’s seen the way Eve’s eyes go glassy at violence, at the rawness of a kill, not blank with disgust like everyone else’s do. Eve is like her, they’re the same, they’re soul mates, Eve is just too afraid to see it. She’s too afraid of what admitting that to herself will mean, but Villanelle can show her how good it is on the other side, she’ll show her how quickly one forgets what else there was beyond this. 

 

Fuck Eve for not admitting that this is everything, for not realising how much potential they have between them; how much power. Fuck Eve for not realising that they together could tear the fabric of reality apart if they set their mind to it. Fuck Eve for not realising that the two of them are a force innarêtable. Fuck her for not realising that they are the end of the world. 

 

She walks blindly until she finds Konstantin near the car. She smirks through her anger when he looks up at her from the steps; surprised. She knew he wouldn’t just leave. She knew he loved her even if he stubbornly persists on pretending to put his family first. 

 

“Where’s Eve?” he asks, looking to the blank space behind her. 

 

She shrugs. “Gone,” she says emotionlessly. 

 

Turn it off , she thinks, biting the inside of her cheek until she can taste blood when Eve fills her mind. Turn it off. Fuck Eve. Turn it off

 

“Are you alright?” he asks, unable to help himself. 

 

“I thought you didn’t care about me?” she huffs dismissively.

 

“That’s not what I said,” he replies, clenching his jaw. He speaks after a considered moment, asks again in Russian, formally, with an authority that anyone else would listen to without hesitation. “Answer me, Villanelle who was Oksana,” he says in her own tongue, the sound of it making her lip twitch in anger. “Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine,” she says in English, clenching her fists to stop herself from slapping him for his boldness. 

 

“What happened?” he asks, also in English. 

 

“She’s not ready,” she answers simply. 

 

“She is not the same as you after all, hmm?” he says, in statement not question. 

 

“No,” Villanelle snaps before she can stop the reaction. She smooths down the front of her outfit to calm herself. “No, she is,” Villanelle says adamantly. “She is,” she asserts, firmer than before, her tone dangerous in the face of Konstantin’s doubt. “She’s just…” she pauses. 

 

“Villanelle,” Konstantin says softly, like he’s walking on glass in bare feet. “You are better off without her. You know this.”

 

“Why?” she asks sharply. “Because I play your games better when I’m not distracted? Because I’m a better pet when I’m not thinking about how much I want to fuck her?”

 

“Because she is dangerous to you,” he counters, looking almost hurt at her insinuation. Almost. 

 

“I’m dangerous to her, too,” Villanelle shrugs, shifting her weight from foot to foot. She adjusts the gun discreetly when it rubs against her lower back, drawing it out and tucking it into her front waistband. 

 

Konstantin’s eyes open in realisation. “Give that to me,” he says, snatching it from her before she can argue. He ejects the magazine quickly, looking up at her with a frown when he registers the one missing round. “What happened?” he says again. A demand, not a question. 

 

“I shot her,” Villanelle replies, thinking of Anna as she does so. The softness of her palms on her naked skin after she’d stripped Villanelle bare. The way her hair had matted to the rug in death, sticky with blood. 

 

“Why?” he frowns, troubled. 

 

She shrugs again. “She wasn’t ready.” 

 

“Is she dead?” he asks slowly. 

 

“I don’t know,” Villanelle replies. “I shouldn’t think so.” She looks up, meeting his eye in a challenge. “I shot her in the stomach, not the chest. She’s not old like you and you survived.” Her hand floats to her scar, aching deeply all of a sudden as if the wound were connected to Eve, just as she had hoped it would be when she had aimed. 

 

“She doesn’t love you,” he says, and this time Villanelle isn’t sure whether it’s a question or not. 

 

The red flashes in front of her eyes again and her pulse thumps in her ears. “She does,” Villanelle says with forced calm, biting back her anger before she shrugs as if to prove her words true. She pulls her hair tie out, combing the loose strands back with her fingers before she loops the elastic around her gathered hair. Konstantin looks frustrated at her game, but she doesn’t care. She shrugs again. “She just wasn’t ready.” 

 

The look in Konstantin’s eyes is clear to her. Naievity. He’s always thought she was naive but she knows she’s far more shrewd than he gives her credit for. It would be naive to think Eve loved her if she hadn’t seen the way Eve looked at her, if she didn’t feel the heat of the way that Eve had hunted her, the way she had passed over and kicked down every warning sign in the way in her pursuit. 

 

Konstantin doesn’t understand what it means that Eve hadn’t killed her in Paris even though she had killed Bill, he doesn’t know what it means that Eve hadn’t strangled her in the loft apartment when she’d introduced her to Billie. Konstantin doesn’t understand what it means that Eve had fucked her husband after the flowers, her flowers, arrived on Eve’s doorstep. Eve loves her, marrow and mind and body and soul; that’s why she ignored the warnings of Carolyn’s son, that’s why she ignored the warnings of her colleagues, of her husband, of Villanelle herself.

 

Love. Desire. Obsession. Konstantin doesn’t understand any of this because he hasn’t cared to look, he only sees the aesthetic cat and mouse game, he only sees the competition that is so much more than just that. He doesn’t look for the way Eve’s breath halts when she walks into a room, or the way that her eyes never really leave her. He doesn’t look, he doesn't see , but if he did, he would understand in an instant. 

 

They are the same, but Eve is stubborn and proud and now perhaps dead. At least she’s left Villanelle with a scar on her stomach, woven poetically into her muscle, that, and a broken heart. Oh well , she thinks as Konstantin gives her directions to a safe house apartment a few streets away; at least Eve left her with a memory of what it means to feel

 

 

.

 

 

The apartment is nicer than she had anticipated, rich carpets that feel freshly laid under her bare feet when she kicks her shoes off. She wondered how much blood stains the wood or concrete beneath her. She wonders how many of her colleagues have used this place; have killed here or died here. 

 

“Your clothes are in the bedroom,” Konstantin says, gesturing the door beside the fully stocked kitchen before he drops a set of keys on the tabletop for her. 

 

“My clothes?” she frowns, looking towards the door. 

 

“Aaron took them, no?” Konstantin replies casually. “We took them back.”

 

“You knew I would come here,” Villanelle says, turning to him as her lip curls over her teeth. She makes an effort to take the sharpness out of it, the snarl out of her tone, but Konstantin’s smile fades regardless. 

 

“I hoped,” he returns honestly before sighing, rubbing his hands over his face in exhaustion. “You will die with her, Villanelle,” he tells her. “I don’t want that. I had hoped you would come here, even though I knew it to be a desperate one, because if you were here, you were safer than with her. Is that a crime?”

 

She doesn’t reply right away, she walks to the bedroom in search of her clothes instead. Her suitcase is on the bed as promised and she opens it, setting the gun down finally so she can unzip it with both hands, folding one side back as she begins to check over the contents. 

 

She smiles as she runs her hands over the rich fabric of her clothes. Konstantin made sure to remove everything he deemed a weapon but he left the things most dangerous. She doesn’t need a knife or a gun to kill someone, but a good outfit is crucial. Opulent dress will get her places that mediocre clothes will not, they are her camouflage, they make her invisible, they put others around her at ease, and people are so much easier to kill when they’re not looking over their shoulders. 

 

Her clothes open doors and remove barriers and once she is there, once she is in a room that cannot be opened with a key but only welcomed into, she is as dangerous as an atom bomb. She lifts a dress of a rich black fabric that she was hoping Eve would peel off her, kissing the skin between her shoulder blades as she ran the zip down Villanelle’s back. Instead of that, of the two of them in the most expensive hotel room in Rome, instead of coming apart under Villanelle’s hands and teeth and tongue, Eve will have the richness of Roman dust to dine on as she bleeds into earth that has seen so much blood already, the fine powder sticking in her lungs, making her choke, driving the pain in her side deeper into the muscle until she can’t breathe. 

 

She can feel Konstantin hovering at the door, his worried eyes on her. He’s a fool if he thinks he doesn’t love me, she thinks to herself. A fool for not thinking that he is in more danger now with her here than he has ever been. He loves me, she smiles to herself. More than his family, or else he would have run as soon as Carolyn’s freedom made its way into his palm. 

 

“We will die with each other, I think,” she says after a moment of contemplation, letting the silk of one of her scarves run through her fingers like water. 

 

“That is still dying,” he says plainly. “Why do you want that so much? Why don’t you want to live? Why do you want her so badly?”

 

“Would you die for your wife, Konstantin? Even if you knew she was bad for you? Even if you knew the noose around your neck was her fault? Tied by her hands?”

 

“That is different,” he says. 

 

“Is it?” Villanelle asks, her eyes flashing. “How is it?” 

 

He doesn’t answer so she advances on him, smiling when he takes a step back.

 

“What do I have to live for, hmm?” she asks when she steps into the warmth of his personal space. She can feel his arms tensed at his sides and she raises her hand to prod at his shoulder when he doesn’t answer her. “Tell me, father ,” she says mockingly. “What do I have to live for? Money? Boring. Clothes? Better, but still dull. A constant flight from MI5 or The Twelve? Why would I want any of those things when I could die with her? Why would I want to die without her when we could die in each other’s arms?”

 

She sneers in the face of his silence and takes a step back from him, turning to her bag. There’s a long piece of sharpened ivory in the boning of one of her dresses; the only weapon he hadn’t found and removed. It’s not tidy but it’ll do, she thinks as she pulls item after item out in search of it, better than letting him crack a few ribs in the fight if she has to do it hand to hand, damn his brutish strength. 

 

“You think it’s romantic?” he asks, genuine curiosity in his voice. 

 

“Isn’t it?” she challenges. She thinks of Anna, of the way she used to sigh when Villanelle would read her the classics; the way her eyes would flutter when she would speak of Persephone’s devotion to the god who took everything away from her and gave her eternal life in exchange. “What would you have me do?” she asks, abandoning her bag when Konstantin doesn’t answer right away. “Find another handler after you leave me? Freelance myself? Kill insipid men for more money than I could ever spend in my lifetime until I am so bored I hang myself in an ugly hotel room just to feel something?”

 

“No,” he says sternly. “I want you to live.”

 

“What life?” she snaps. “This one? Hiding in a hotel room like a coward? How do I live here? How do I live with what is in front of me?”

 

“I don’t know,” he says honestly. Perhaps the first truly truthful thing he has ever said to her. 

 

“You, who knew me when I was Oksana,” she says with disdain, like the word itself tastes foul, “you who knew me when I was nothing, you who knows me better than anyone alive; if you do not know and I do not know how to live then no one does and no one will, so what is the point?”  

 

He chews on his bottom lip. “What would Eve want you to do?” he asks after a moment. 

 

She laughs cynically at his desperate turn. “Eve who does not know me or love me?” she asks, raising an eyebrow. “She would want me to die, I think. For the time being anyway. But that doesn’t matter, does it? That means nothing, the same as everything else.”

 

“Nothing,” he laughs. “You have never been nothing, Villanelle,” he tells her almost fondly before his expression evens out. “Eve does not define you.”

 

“Right and wrong,” she tuts, shaking her head. “I have never been nothing, true, but she is the only person who found me. How does that not define me?”

 

“She found you because you stopped running long enough for her to,” he growls. 

 

“Don’t do that,” she says coldly, making the colour in his face fade. “It doesn’t suit you to be intentionally stupid,” she tells him with a hard tone. “You know she had information before the polish girl, you know she found me before then.”

 

That in itself is impressive and something she will never forget, that in itself made her slow down enough with a desire to meet the person capable of such a thing. She was more reckless after, but Eve found her first, something Konstantin knows full well. 

 

She sighs loudly. She has grown bored of this conversation. Konstantin doesn’t have an answer for her, he doesn’t understand and she doubts he ever will. Eve is different and she is extraordinary and he will go into hiding long enough for him to think that they are safe and then she will decide what to do next. 

 

For now, she’s tired and hungry and she wants to be alone. She wants to go and look for Eve, or maybe to a bar, to look for someone with long curly hair, someone who will blush prettily when she turns her attention on them, someone who will beg her to take them home, someone who doesn’t think twice about what it means to want her. She knows that Eve wants her, that is unequivocally clear, but it’s clouded, constantly clouded by her supposed moral compass, her reluctance to realise what it means she is because she wants Villanelle in spite of everything else. 

 

It’s clouded and tonight she’s bored of it all. She’s sick of the occasional look of disgust on Eve’s face. She wants instant gratification just like the thrill that came when the gun went off. Villanelle: one, soon to be two with some pretty girls skin under the sharpness of her teeth. Eve: zero, probably still face down in the dirt, too stubborn to cry for help.

 

The difficulty is that she knows she’ll be empty again come the morning, she will before the girl falls asleep next to her in bed and that’s the problem. She has an itch that has been there her whole life but is different after Eve; it was persistent before but now it’s as loud as a siren, and Eve, fucking Eve, is the only one, the only one that scratches that. 

 

She finds the garment she was looking for as Konstantin waits silently behind her, her blunt nail picking at the sharp piece of boning at the bottom of the corset. Like Adam’s rib, she had thought when she’d slid it in before leaving London, needle and thread next to her to conceal her handiwork. She is Adam and Eve is… well. 

 

There’s a darkness inherent in Eve but she brought it out, her work made Eve chase and sink deeper into the grey. Don’t forget; the only thing that makes you interesting is me. Without her, Eve is nothing, just like her namesake was before Adam. 

 

It’s a funny sort of poetry then that she gave Eve this life, this desire, the thick, rich taste of the hunt; it was she who brought that forth, but that Eve with this knowledge and skill makes her feel like she does, like the world suddenly has hue, red and bold and drinkable. 

 

Maybe she isn’t Adam at all , Villanelle thinks, piercing the expensive fabric with the end of the ivory so the point appears and punctures her skin. She watches the blood bead on the top of her finger. Maybe she’s God instead . Eve is who she is because of her, and she is who she now is because of Eve. She created the thing that makes her feel. Eve is her design, hers, hers, hers alone. No one else’s. Eve would have continued to be nothing without her, trapped in a boring marriage in a mediocre job. Without her there would have been nothing to make Eve any different to anyone else.

 

She raises her finger to her mouth, sucking the blood away and wrinkling her nose when the copper of it hits her tongue. Drops the dress back into the bag unceremoniously, turning around to Konstantin. 

 

“I am alive when I’m with her,” Villanelle says, pushing the weight of her gaze against Konstantin, the conviction of her words between her teeth. She is a true predator in that moment, not bothering to temper the way the edges of her body blur into something more animal. It’s something Konstantin recognises instantly and he takes a step back before he can stop himself. She smiles, pleased at the retreat. 

 

Anything without limits is infinitely more dangerous than things that do. He knows now, with the knowledge of the missing round, that she has none. Dangerous , she thinks, radioactive . Destroyer of worlds

 

“You haven’t been paying attention if you haven’t seen that,” she says emotionlessly, her expression a void. His fear makes her feel for a fleeting moment before it fades, just like everything else does. Everything but Eve. She takes a step forward, impressed when he doesn’t take one back. “The only time I am and ever have been, is with her,” she tells him, putting her finger back into her mouth to clean the blood away before she releases her finger with a pop , her eyes never leaving his. “If you would truly have me leave that you’ve already killed me.”

 

“Playing stupid doesn’t suit you either, Villanelle,” he says with a resigned look in his eyes. “You’ve already made that decision, haven’t you,” he shrugs simply. “With her or without her, the end is the same. You should have finished it before she became something to you, but you didn’t. It doesn’t matter what I say or don’t say. You’ve already killed yourself.”

  

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