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hold your breath and feel the tension

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The bottle of wine was almost empty when Eve set it on the nightstand, close to the pink plastic heart. The movement pushed the toy closer to the edge and, when it inevitably hit the floor, Eve sighed. She picked it up. Played it once for good measure. Played it twice because she couldn’t help herself. Then five more times since Villanelle’s voice seemed to be the only thing that calmed her down these days and she was tired of fighting it.

Alcohol had stopped helping her to fall asleep a few weeks ago. Now it just made her tipsy enough for her to stop trying to control her thoughts. Tipsy enough to have Villanelle wander freely in her head until she dozed off for a couple of hours. Before she woke up covered in sweat, with the last image of a morbid nightmare printed on her pupils or with pain radiating in her shoulder.

Eve turned the volume of the TV down and pushed back the covers to get into bed. She stopped when she heard a thud. After a few seconds of silence, the noise came back. Three knocks on the door. Firm, yet soft.

"For fuck's sake."

She checked the time on her phone. Almost one. She knew Jamie and Bear worked late and they both had her permission to contact her or come over if something important about The Twelve came up. Deciding it was better not to greet them with only shorts on, she reluctantly grabbed a pair of sweatpants. She tripped a few times, slipping it on while making her way to the door.

Eve’s body stiffened when she realized the person waiting behind the door was definitely not Jamie. 

Blonde hair, bright eyes, and that damn cocky smile greeted her. The smile that always stretched Villanelle’s lips when she knew she had the upper hand. Or when she was about to take someone's life. Eve wasn't even sure what to wish it was for this time. 

The Russian assassin had her hands deep in her pockets.

"Hi, Eve."

Eve didn’t respond. She was tired; so tired. She shook her head in defeat and walked back into the apartment, turning her back to the blonde woman. Villanelle raised her eyebrows at Eve’s lack of reaction. She followed her inside, closed the door, and nonchalantly dragged her feet in a way she was sure got on Eve’s nerves.

"Warm welcome," Villanelle finally said. "After last time, I expected something better."

Eve closed her eyes and tried to control her breathing. She would not engage. She couldn’t. Villanelle walked around the place as if she had never seen it before, picking cereals out of the open box on the kitchen counter. The crunching sound broke the silence in the room. It had been almost three weeks since the bus incident. If anything, it was a surprise Villanelle hadn’t shown up sooner.

Neither of them sat down. They stayed in the kitchen area, Villanelle leaning against the counter, Eve toying with the fabric of her shirt. It soon turned into a staring contest and Eve almost looked away when her opponent licked her lips before dipping her hand in the box of cereals again.

"Did you have a nice birthday?"

"Average."

"Did you get my present?" Eve nodded. "How was it?"

She chose to keep the bus cake’s tragic fate a secret.

"I don’t know. I didn’t taste it."

Villanelle squinted and tilted her head. It was clear that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. "That’s not very nice."

"No, it’s not very nice," Eve smiled, matching Villanelle’s tone.

"You usually like my gifts."

Eve's silence made Villanelle chuckle and she pointed at the plastic heart on the nightstand. "Only kept the most important part?"

The cocky smile plastered on her face when Eve had opened the door reappeared, more pronounced this time. She dared to imagine Eve playing the recording again, and again, and again. Eve clenched her jaw. That teddy bear was a very dangerous topic.

"Why are you here?"

Villanelle put the cereals box next to the sink and crossed her arms, eyebrows raised, challenging the older woman.

"Do you really have to ask?"

Eve was too exhausted to play any kind of game. If Villanelle refused to answer her questions, fine. She wouldn’t push it. She made her way to the back of the room and sat down on the edge of the bed to check her phone. One new text from Mo. It would have to wait. She fluffed her pillow and pushed the duvet. 

"Are you going to bed?" Villanelle asked, offended. "Seriously?"

Eve took a deep breath and stared back at Villanelle.

"I haven’t slept in days so, yes, I am. Shitty guest, shitty host," she said, punctuating her words with weird hand gestures that made the assassin furrow her brows. 

She spotted the bottle on the nightstand.

"Are you drunk?"

"God, I wish," Eve groaned while taking off her sweatpants under Villanelle's attentive eyes.

She knew she looked like a seven-year-old having a tantrum, but she couldn't care less. She pulled the duvet towards her face until it rested under her chin.

"Glasses are in the third cupboard," she started, adjusting the sheets. "There's food in the fridge. If you kill me, make it quick. Close the door on your way out."

Villanelle was taken aback. Eve had been mad at her, scared of her, annoyed, jealous even, but never indifferent. She didn’t like it. At all. 

"I'm not here to hurt you."

Eve, who was facing the wall, didn't turn around or reply. Villanelle's honesty and her voice crack made it hard for her to breathe. She was so sure about what she said. Yet, Eve was painfully aware that hurt or anger could overwhelm her in a matter of seconds.

Villanelle knew Eve wasn't asleep. Her breathing was too uneven, her movements too controlled. She sighed heavily and started to pace up and down the room. Her footsteps almost put Eve to sleep when the sound of glasses clinging resonated in the apartment. 

This bitch.

The nerve she had to actually make herself at home made Eve clench her fists around the duvet. But she wasn't ready for the slight feeling of satisfaction that came after that when she heard Villanelle pour herself a glass of God-knows-what and sit down at the table. A part of her liked it. A part of her enjoyed the way the younger woman behaved as if it was her house too, her place. She smiled.

Villanelle sipped her orange juice in silence. It didn't taste good. She wondered if she was the reason Eve couldn't sleep. If the memory of the kiss kept her up at night too. 

The young assassin waited another ten minutes, maybe fifteen, watching Eve move in her bed until it was too much for her. She kicked her shoes off of her feet and left her jacket on the chair. The mattress sunk beneath her when she set one foot next to Eve's legs to step over her body.

The sudden move made Eve jump out of her skin. Her eyes widened at the sight of Villanelle standing up on her bed. 

"You said you wouldn't-"

Villanelle groaned. "I'm not going to kill you." She stopped her sentence there but Eve understood an "idiot" was implied.

She propped herself up on her elbows, the movement eliciting a wince, while Villanelle slipped under the covers, wiggling to find a comfortable position. She faced Eve, her back close to the wall.

"Why are y-" 

"You can't sleep," Villanelle spoke over her. "And people say it's easy to fall asleep next to me," she explained with a shrug.

"People?" Eve asked before she added in a sour laugh, "I wonder who."

Villanelle ignored her remark and folded her arm under the pillow.

"Try it. I have a comforting presence."

Eve huffed at the tone of Villanelle’s voice. She didn’t need to turn around to picture the exact look on Villanelle's face at that moment. Self-assured, dead serious, a tad pretentious.

She tried to sound convincing when she said, "No, you really don't."

But it barely took a minute for her to have to hold back a yawn. No way she was giving Villanelle this satisfaction. She had to admit to herself, and herself only, that the soft touch of Villanelle's hand on her hip and the way she sometimes wrapped her hair around her fingers felt nice and good, and... comforting.

At some point, she felt Villanelle’s fingers ghost over the small of her back, brushing against the fabric of her shirt. She didn't really mind. Until cold air hit her skin. She tried to slap Villanelle's hand away but couldn't quite reach it.

"What the hell are you doing?"

A heavy silence hovered over them, both aware of what Villanelle wanted.

"Can I see it?"

Eve shut her eyes close. Refusing something to Villanelle would make her insufferable until she would get what she wanted.

"If I let you see it, will you shut up?"

"I promise."

That one word alone took them back to a similar situation in Paris, reminding them who had started this game.

Eve gave in and tried to roll the back of her shirt up until she couldn't reach higher and let the other woman help her. Villanelle stayed speechless, admiring the reflection of the moonlight on the grey and purple scar. The touch of Villanelle's knuckle tracing the straight line of thicker skin on her back caused Eve's heart to miss a beat. She went over it twice and Eve opened her mouth to say something but closed it just as fast to bite her bottom lip - so hard she was pretty sure it drew blood - when she felt Villanelle's mouth on her. The first kiss, at the top of the scar, made her tense up. The second one had the opposite effect. The tip of Villanelle's tongue that came with the last one made her lose her mind and clench her thighs. Villanelle was as lost in the moment as she was because she didn't make any inappropriate comments about the sudden movement of Eve's legs.

Deep down, Eve knew that what happened on the bus was bound to happen again. But this was way too much.

She quickly turned around and realized her mistake when she found herself inches away from plump lips and ragged breath.

"Are you going to kiss me again?"

"Wh- I don't-" Eve stuttered. 

"I liked it."

If she didn't know her better, Eve wouldn't have caught the hint of a smile on Villanelle's lips. That's when she realized they weren't playing or hiding anymore. Villanelle was done pretending for the day. She took the assassin's bottom lip between her own for a far more gentle kiss than their first one. At least that was until Villanelle took the lead, her hand lost in Eve's curls. She could taste Eve's blood on her lips. Eve's nails sank into Villanelle's skin, just above her hip and she knew she would replace the heart recording by the moan that escaped Villanelle's lips at the second she heard it. Deep kisses followed, hungrier. A clash of tongues and teeth and bites. Villanelle gripped Eve's right wrist to pin it above her head as she slipped a leg between the older woman's thighs. She left a trail of kisses from Eve's mouth to her collarbone. She wanted to hear everything, needed to hear everything when she pushed her knee to hit the right spot. She wouldn't have said no to a recording either.

Eve had started to move against Villanelle's knee in a messy attempt to get herself off when a flash of lucidity hit her.

"Wait," Eve said, her hand against Villanelle's pounding heart. She shook her head, at loss for words."We can't- Not now."

That was the best she could come up with. She hadn't expected Villanelle to just nod without questioning her. Villanelle simply tucked a loose strand of hair behind Eve's ear before Eve turned her back to her again, as if nothing happened. She felt Villanelle put her hand back on her hip and continue to play with her hair. Minutes passed, their heavy breathing slowly going back to normal.

"Do you mind if I-?" Villanelle said suddenly.

"If you?" Eve repeated.

"Finish the work?"

Eve choked. Of course, it had to be her question.

"In my bed?"

"We've been in your bed the whole time," Villanelle pointed out. She rolled her eyes when Eve stayed silent. "Fine. Where's the bathroom?"

"Is it really necessary?"

"It's uncomfortable," she complained, her Russian accent thicker than usual. "Just cover your ears."

"Villanelle!" Eve warned when the pressure on her hip and the hand in her hair both disappeared and a satisfied sigh echoed against the walls.

Christ.

Eve didn't know what was worse. To look at Villanelle's face and at her hands moving under her underwear. Or to close her eyes, only hear Villanelle's moans and imagine herself bending her fingers just right. It didn't surprise Eve but Villanelle was loud; probably louder than usual since she was clearly putting on a show for her. When her breath became heavier, it took what Eve had left of self-control to not replace Villanelle's hand with her own and feel her clench around her fingers, a thumb rubbing tight circles on her clit. Whatever self-control she had wasn't enough to keep her from mimicking Villanelle's movement and rubbing herself over her underwear. They came roughly at the same time, eyes closed, the muscles in their arms burning.

Eve only opened her eyes when she felt the other woman move.

"You better not wipe your fingers on my sheets."

Villanelle made her wish she had kept her mouth shut when she licked each finger with a particular attention. When she appeared to be satisfied with her work, she flashed a wide smiled at Eve before she asked, "Don't you feel better now?"

"Shut up," Eve groaned. "Can we sleep?"

And she turned around for what felt like the hundredth time that night. Villanelle came closer, draping her arm above Eve's waist. She laughed at Eve's stubbornness.

"Can't you admit it felt good?"

"That's why you came here? Sex?" Eve countered.

"No. I just wanted to see you."

"In the middle of the night?" Her voice was filled with skepticism.

"I was bored," Villanelle admitted. "And my last job wasn't fun." Eve hummed and breathed out an oh no? to let her continue. "No, he tried to fight back but he was very clumsy. Cut off three of his fingers with a butcher knife, there was blood everywh-"

"Is this how you help people fall asleep?" Eve huffed. "Comforting presence."

"I have other ideas."

"Not. Happening."

"Fine," the assassin grumbled. "Later then."

Eve chuckled at Villanelle's confidence. 

"Later."

Villanelle told her another story but soon enough, Eve couldn't make sense of the words rolling off her tongue, as she fell asleep with a smile on her lips for the first time in months. Villanelle had, in her own fucked up way, a comforting presence.