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.
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.”
“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.