Eve stood at the bus stop and checked the time on her phone: 8:03am. The rush hour crowd, all waiting for the 56, didn’t give her much hope that she’d make it into the office on time. Using Bitter Pill as a base made sense, but Eve hadn’t settled into her new commute routine yet. Everyone around her was craning their necks to be the first to see the bus as it rounded the corner. Eve was looking not for the bus itself, but hoping that there would be the silhouette of Villanelle inside it. She doubted, after the kiss they shared on the 56 earlier that week, that she would ever be able to ride a bus without thinking entirely of Villanelle: the way Villanelle had sauntered causally over with a ‘hi, Eve’, the power she had held over her as she pressed Eve into the bus seat before they had kissed, the way stray strands of hair had fallen silkily towards Eve’s face. Their kiss had given Eve a feeling in her stomach she hadn’t felt since she was a teenager: giddy butterflies and a knot in the back of her throat. The feelings of lust she had for Villanelle completely overrode everything else: how she had murdered more people than Eve could count, and even how she had shot Eve and left her for dead.
Eve looked around her but couldn’t see Villanelle. She checked her phone again: only four minutes had passed but this time she took note that it was Friday and felt a little happier, standing up straighter, glad for the rest that the weekend would bring. Looking into Kenny’s death was draining. She was all-consumed with thoughts of everything MI6; she needed a distraction, a hobby that didn’t involve female assassins. As she thought this, a bus rounded the corner and pulled up in front of the crowd she was in the middle of. Eve hung back, letting other people board it before her as she looked up towards the window of the top deck, scanning every figure in the window, simultaneously hoping and fearing that Villanelle would be sat up there. As she looked, she noticed the advert pasted across the side of the double-decker: ‘Start running with Couch to 5K!’ the advert read in huge letters, followed by an image of a woman about her age in gym clothes with a speech bubble saying “I’m slow, but I’m lapping everyone on the couch!”. Eve scoffed aloud, and her mind flashed back to the bus that drove smugly past her at Kenny’s funeral ‘worry, greif, regret, let it all go…’.
Eve stepped forward to board the bus and was suddenly unable to move. Villanelle. Further down the road. There she was. Running. Panic rose in Eve’s chest. Her fists clenched, her mouth dry. Her heart was beating fast, and her mind whirling at a hundred miles an hour. What now? Would Villanelle make a scene in front of all these people? Yes, of course she would. Twenty metres away, Villanelle crossed the street and Eve saw her side profile. With simultaneous relief and regret, that she wasn’t Villanelle.
“You getting on, love?” the driver shouted to Eve as she stood, mouth agape at the woman running. An innocent jogger, in a tight matching outfit and headphones.
“Yes,” she mouthed and stepped forward, sucked so quickly out of her fantasy.
No seats. There never was at this time in the morning. The journey from this side of Kingston to the office wasn’t far and Eve stood up willingly, completely preoccupied with her thoughts of the woman that was, for a few seconds, Villanelle. Holding onto the pole she was leaning against, Eve zoned out and looked towards the fogged up window. The bright colours of the Couch to 5K advert came to her mind. Maybe she could take up running? Was that a ridiculous, wild idea? Her and Niko had never really been into exercise, preferring a takeaway and a movie in an evening over a couples gym trip. But you’re not with him anymore, she reminded herself. Her thoughts went straight back to Villanelle and the kiss they had shared. How energetic their fight had been, how physically worn-out she’d been afterwards. Emotionally, she was completely wired, but it was true, she could be fitter. Villanelle probably walked away from the bus not even short for breath. She thought about how she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the younger woman if they were in a fight again or… intimate. Forgetting she was on a bus, Eve’s mind was filled with flashes of Villanelle on top of her, as she had been during their kiss a few days before. Only this time she was naked and they weren’t on public transport. Eve imagined her toned and muscular arms holding her down, and a sheen of sweat on her torso. Villanelle would have so much more stamina compared to her. The thought of Villanelle’s athletic body grinding expertly against her own had Eve’s mouth watering. She was embarrassed at the thought of not being able to keep up with Villanelle and the competitive side to her got her thinking…
Still holding onto the light blue pole for support, she slid her phone out of her pocket and typed into the App Store ‘Couch 2 5K’.
Saturday morning, Eve’s alarm woke her at 7am. Admittedly, it was early for a weekend but today she had plans. Rolling over to turn off her alarm, she caught a glimpse of the running clothes she had folded on the chair beside her bed the night before. ‘Running clothes’ was perhaps a stretch. She had rummaged around in her drawers for clothes that were somewhat suitable for running. She settled on an old pair of leggings that were flecked with bleach stains. On top of them was a baggy, faded Roxette band t-shirt she must have had since her early twenties. She rolled out of bed, amazed at herself for still thinking that going for a run was a good idea. When was the last time she went for a jog? Early in her MI5 days, probably. Definitely not since she’d been married to Niko.
The trainers were probably the most worn-out part of the outfit. Eve hadn’t even been aware that she still owned these trainers until she was packing her things to move out of her house and into this flat. She felt a little embarrassed as she pulled on her clothes, remembering the girl that had jogged past her the day before in her tight pink matching co-ord. She thought of Villanelle and wondered what she’d think of her… although that made her feel another pang of embarrassment, so she brought herself back to reality and opened up the C25K app.
Eve was nervous, what if she physically couldn’t run? What if she saw somebody she knew? Walking down the stairs of her building, she began to regret the tatty old leggings. But the image she’d had of Villanelle panting and grinding against her yesterday morning made her push open the front door of the flats, out into the cold air and hit ‘play’ on ‘Week 1, Run 1’.