Villanelle wonders if Eve will miss her, when she’s gone.
The water has risen exponentially fast, now lapping against the desk and soaking her shoes. Over the course of her musings, Villanelle has come to the conclusion that there really is no way out of this for her, that she is going to drown in the lower levels of the ship cold and alone.
Normally, she would have opted to react to this information with simple acceptance. Death is a part of life, of course, and Villanelle knows she is not immune to its cruel touch. But that was before, back when she didn’t have someone waiting for her, someone that actually gave a damn whether or not she made it home safely.
Now she has Eve.
Sweet, lovely Eve that she met only a few days ago, but is fully prepared to leave everything behind for her. It makes Villanelle want to scream, to bang her head against this pipe she’s still cuffed to because it’s not fair . It’s not fair that they didn’t have more time together, that Villanelle didn’t even have a chance to show Eve just how much she loved her. It’s not fair that she’s leaving Eve in the clutches of her horrid fiancé to live a life that can barely be considered worth living.
In that moment, Villanelle realizes that she really, really doesn’t want to die.
She pulls hard on the handcuffs, ignoring her wrists scream of pain as the metal digs into her skin. There isn’t much room inside the cuffs for her to shimmy her wrists out of them, so her options are limited.
Just as she’s weighing the possibility of dislocating her thumbs, she hears a splash.
For a moment, Villanelle thinks she’s finally lost it, the stress of impending death snapping her remaining sanity. But then she hears it again, louder, and she lets herself believe that there just might be someone out there who could help her.
Villanelle just needs to make herself known.
So she bangs the cuffs on the pipe, hollering and screaming for help as the water finally overtakes the desk and splashes against her ankles. Villanelle winces at the cold, her feet starting to go numb as the water seeps into her thin leather shoes.
She quiets for a moment, and waits for a response.
Someone is calling her name .
It’s not Konstantin, she knows that for sure. It’s not the deep timber she’s grown accustomed to, and she doubts that he would come all the way down here to search for her. Despite everything they’ve gone through, Konstantin will save his own skin before anyone else’s without a second thought.
It makes Villanelle wonder if he actually made it out, or if he’s trapped somewhere like her.
She hears the voice again, closer now, and Villanelle finally realizes.
Jesus, it’s Eve.
Stupid, brilliant Eve.
“Eve!” she yells, banging her cuffs again as she hears the splashes come nearer.
“Villanelle!” Eve says, her voice becoming louder by the second.
“Eve, I’m in here!”
Villanelle hopes that Eve knows where ‘here’ is.
As if Villanelle manifested it herself, Eve arrives within a matter of seconds.
The water is up to her breasts, and Villanelle can only imagine how cold she must be. The ends of her hair are wet, and she’s shivering profusely, but in Villanelle’s eyes she is an angel personified.
Eve gasps in relief and wades through the water, throwing her arms around Villanelle’s neck and pressing a deep kiss to her lips. It tastes of salt water and something metallic, which Villanelle realizes is the blood that is still coating her lips and chin. Eve doesn’t seem to care, swiping her tongue over Villanelle’s mouth before pulling away.
She pulls away, panting slightly for air as she wipes Villanelle’s face clean of the half-dried blood marring her face.
“Jesus, Villanelle I thought I’d lost you,” Eve breathes, resting her hands on Villanelle’s cheeks.
Villanelle presses her head into the warmth of her palms, breathing in slight relief as she takes a beat.
“Eve, how did you get down here?”
“I scared the piss out of a bell boy,” Eve replies easily. “God, it's amazing how efficient things are when you're a dick to people.”
“You should do it more often,” Villanelle grins, before her eyes drop to the rushing water below them. “Eve listen, there isn’t much time, you need to get to a boat-”
“Not without you,” Eve interrupts.
From the blazing look in Eve’s eyes, Villanelle decides that Eve isn’t going to be negotiated with.
It's quite unfair at how good she is at getting what she wants.
“Okay, okay. But I’m not going anywhere like this,” Villanelle gestures to the cuffs. “What’s the chance that you can find something to cut these off?”
Eve contemplates it, the metaphorical cogs whirring in her brain before her eyes widen.
“Yes, actually I do.”
With that she plants a quick peck on Villanelle’s lips and soon Villanelle is left alone again.
She hopes that whatever Eve has planned won’t end up permanently maiming her.
A thought that becomes much more plausible when Eve returns holding a giant axe.
“Will this work?” Eve questions, slightly out of breath.
Oh god, Villanelle thinks.
She would feel much better about it all if Eve didn’t look completely swamped from holding the large object, her hands balancing the axe awkwardly by the very bottom of the handle.
Unfortunately, it’s the only option they have considering the circumstances.
“That will do,” Villanelle says simply, pulling the cuffs tight around the pipe so that the chain is taught against it. Eve nods nervously, raising the axe above her head in a direction that looks much too close to Villanelle’s arm for comfort.
“Wait! Um, maybe practice first?” Villanelle interjects before Eve can swing the axe, nodding her head to the wooden cabinet on the other side of the room.
“Right, yes,” Eve replies, a certain anxious tone seeping its way into her voice. She wades over to the cabinet, and swings the axe hard to take a solid chunk out of its door.
“Okay! Yes, good Eve. Now try to hit the same spot again,” Villanelle encourages.
Eve bites her lip, tightens her grip, and swings again.
The second hole is at least six inches from the first.
Eve turns, blinking owlishly at Villanelle. It would be very cute if it wasn’t for the water that is making its way up Villanelle’s calves.
“Perhaps that’s enough practice,” Villanelle smiles nervously, readjusting the cuffs against the pipe. If she loses her hands, Eve is just going to have to make do with her mouth next time they have sex.
“Villanelle, what if-” Eve starts.
“Darling, I appreciate your concern, but right now this water is very cold and I would very much like to get off this boat, yes?”
Eve looks at her incredulously, her mouth slightly agape as if she can’t quite comprehend why Villanelle is still going through with this very half-baked plan of theirs.
Villanelle shifts closer, and tries to convey it with every ounce of her being.
“Eve, I trust you. I promise,” she whispers, before repositioning her cuffs on the pipe. “Pretend it’s a log!”
Eve mutters something under her breath that sounds a lot like 'fuck', before extending the axe over her head.
“Choke up a bit on the handle, please?” Villanelle asks sweetly.
Eve huffs a deep breath, moves her hands farther up the handle, and closes her fucking eyes before swinging down in a sharp arc.
Villanelle sees her life flash in front of her before the chain of the cuffs bursts apart, freeing her from the pipe. They still are attached to her wrists, but she’s free and intact, a small manic laugh bubbling from her mouth.
"You closed your eyes!" she shouts.
"I didn't mean to!"
"Next time keep them open, yes?" Villanelle grins.
Eve laughs loudly, hugging her as Villanelle makes her way off the desk.
“Shit!” she curses, water soaking her lower half. It’s freezing to the point of being physically painful, knife-like and blinding as they wade their way into the hallway. The lights flicker weakly before shutting off completely, leaving her and Eve in relative darkness. A supporting wall collapses behind them with a sickening crunch, and a mass flood of water rushes behind them. Pure panic sits itself within Villanelle’s chest, and soon she and Eve are quickly splashing to the exit at the end of the hall.
It’s not fast enough, the water slowing their movements as it quickly rises over their shoulders, lifting them both off of the ground. Villanelle feels the cold rip the very breath from her lungs, her body stuttering and freezing up as the waves cut through her.
She shakes herself from the icy shock of it all when the raging ocean overtakes Eve, her head briefly going under before bobbing up again as Villanelle yanks her unceremoniously upwards by the waist. Eve gasps, chokes on the salty water before Villanelle scoops her into her arms, feeling Eve scramble to wrap her legs around Villanelle’s hips and her arms around her neck. In this instance, the water is helpful, both of them buoyant as Villanelle reaches up and grabs the pipes that run along the ceiling of the hallway, reaching out and pulling them through fast-moving waves.
“Vill, it’s getting higher,” Eve gasps, her smaller form shivering against Villanelle. The water licks at their necks, the base of their ears, and Villanelle realizes that there is suddenly not much air to breathe. She moves quicker, tilting her head back as she pulls along the pipes until they reach the half-flooded stairwell. Eve detaches herself from Villanelle’s front, briefly moving underwater to reach open air.
Villanelle follows suit, her muscles spasming as her head is dunked under the water, gasping as she emerges and follows Eve up the stairs, water dripping heavily from their soaked clothes. They pause briefly once they reach C Deck, taking in deep gulps of air as Villanelle opens her eyes to see Eve cough slightly, her frame bent over as she braces herself on a wall.
“You saved me,” Villanelle whispers.
Eve grimaces, turns to her as she brushes her wet curtain of hair from her face.
“Until we’re off this ship, I wouldn’t count on it.”
When they reach the uppermost deck, it’s in chaos.
Officers are scrambling to cut the lifeboats loose from the ropes, the passengers within them screaming as the boat shifts perilously from side to side as each rope is cut. Those who remain on the deck are running frantically to and fro, desperately searching for vacant lifeboats that could save them from the cold waters below.
The Titanic, once perfectly parallel with the horizon now has begun to tilt downwards at the front, beginning what is surely its inevitable descent to the bottom of the ocean. Eve pushes her way to the back where the lifeboats are still being loaded, her hand clasped firmly in Villanelle’s as they traverse their way through the terrified crowd.
They’ve almost made it when Eve feels Villanelle’s fingers slip through hers, grasping faintly before they are gone entirely.
Eve whips around, terror rising in her throat as she calls Villanelle’s name, looking desperately for blonde hair and hazel eyes before a rough hand is turning her back around.
Villanelle is being pulled backwards by the shirt, and she is livid .
She can’t see who it is, all she knows is that whoever it is is about to die a very painful death. Eve has already disappeared from sight, the only evidence of her being the faint calling of Villanelle’s name before it too is swallowed by the commotion of people around them.
Villanelle did not almost drown to get snatched away by some prick with a hairy hand.
She rears back, connecting her elbow squarely with a face that shouts in pain. The hand loosens, and in a fluid motion Villanelle grabs the mystery wrist with both her hands and flips the perpetrator over her shoulder and onto the slippery deck with a thud.
Hey, she’s still got it.
It’s then that she gets a good look at the man’s face.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” Villanelle mutters.
Konstantin pinches his bleeding nose, and makes his way to his feet.
“You have an interesting way of thanking the person who is trying to save your life, Villanelle,” he grunts, wiping the blood on his large coat. “I have a boat for us.”
Villanelle doesn’t believe him. And if there is a boat waiting for them, there is a catch.
There is always a catch with him.
“How did you manage that?” she questions, folding her arms across her chest. For a moment they aren’t on a sinking ship and they are back in the streets of Paris, bantering over their next job.
Villanelle really misses Paris right now.
Konstantin barks out a laugh, short and harsh.
“Really?” he asks incredulously. “We are about to drown and you ask me questions?”
She ignores him, stepping closer until they are nose to nose.
“What deal have you made, Konstantin?”
Konstantin gulps, his composure failing him as his gaze drops, unable to meet Villanelle’s eyes.
“One of the officers has some work for us in America, in exchange for a boat off this ship.”
It’s never been about a clean slate for him, has it? No matter what they do, Konstantin will get involved with something, and Villanelle will be dragged along with him. He will hold her debts above her head, and she will do what is asked of her until she ends up getting herself killed in the process.
If she goes with him, this will be one more debt that she has to repay. And her life with Eve, if they somehow survive this, will be nothing more than a dream.
“No,” Villanelle whispers.
“What did you say?” Konstantin says slowly, his eyes flashing.
Villanelle grits her teeth, and stands her ground.
“I said no ,” she repeats louder, staring deep into Konstantin’s eyes. “I am not going to live my life solely to do what you are too afraid to do yourself.”
“You have nothing without my help.”
“I have enough.”
He looks at her from head to toe, sizes her up before setting his mouth into a frown.
“This is about that woman, isn’t it?” he mutters. “That woman, Eve? For the love of all things holy, Villanelle, what is it about her ?”
Villanelle allows herself to smile at the thought of her.
“We are the same.”
“There you are,” Niko spits.
His hand is wrapped painfully around Eve’s arm, fingers vice-like and stiff as she struggles to get away. She twists, turns in sharp movements before Niko grabs her roughly in his hands and shakes her as if it would physically knock some sense into her.
“Stop it!” he shouts, his voice carrying even over the commotion of the passengers. “You-you would rather be a whore to a gutter rat?”
Niko’s eyes are wild, crazed. His normally well-kept hair flies into his face and makes him look more like an animal than a man.
Eve removes herself from his iron grip.
“I would rather be her whore than your wife,” she hisses.
“I don’t care what you would rather be,” Niko grits out through his teeth. “You are getting on this lifeboat, even if I have to put you on it myself.”
Eve looks to the boat in question, and sees none other than Carolyn Martens.
Even in the face of a maritime disaster, she is perfectly put-together. Her furs lay elegantly along her shoulders, not a hair on her head out of place as she holds her clutch delicately in her lap.
“Hello Eve,” she says matter-of-factly, as if they were sitting together at dinner and not aboard a ship that is about to kill hundreds of people.
“Carolyn,” Eve blinks.
“I would really suggest getting on the boat, Eve,” Carolyn states promptly, no room for discussion in her tone.
The officer manning the ropes shares her sentiment.
“Listen lass, this boat is going under and we need to go before she takes all of us down with her,” he braces himself against the ropes as the Titanic gives a deathly shudder.
Eve bites her lip and shakes her head.
“Not without Villanelle.”
Niko’s eyes widen, his mouth twisting in what is undoubtedly going to be a derogatory spew of words, but stops abruptly as he spots something behind Eve’s shoulder.
Eve turns, and is met with none other than Villanelle Astankova pushing her way through masses of passengers with remarkable ease. She breaks through a chain of people making their way onto a lifeboat, and makes her way to Eve’s side without a step of hesitation.
She’s panting, her hand instinctively wrapping around Eve’s even in Niko’s sight as her hazel eyes pierce dangerously into his.
“Sorry I’m late, darling,” Villanelle drawls, her gaze never breaking contact with Niko, “What did I miss?”
Eve leans into Villanelle’s warmth. For a moment, she thought she had lost her.
“Niko was just offering us a spot on this boat,” she grins, relishing the look of horror plastered on his face.
“Ah, Miss Astankova!” Carolyn chirps. “You look well for someone who almost drowned.”
“Enough!” Niko shouts, his angry stare burning holes into Villanelle before turning to the officer. “This woman is a wanted criminal and has already been arrested on my behalf. As far as I am aware, we are boarding this vessel according to class .”
The officer glances at the handcuffs still attached to Villanelle’s wrists. He makes eye contact with Villanelle, before letting out a sigh.
“I dunno how you got up here,” the officer says, his voice remarkably kind considering that Villanelle has been outed as a fugitive. “But I can’t put you on this boat. I just can’t, there’s a protocol in place for a reason. If I could take everyone on I would, but the spot is reserved for the lady.”
He nods in Eve’s direction.
Eve feels something cold drop into the pit of her stomach.
She turns to Villanelle, her face soft and filled with something that Eve hasn’t seen in her before. Her eyes are downturned, looking gently at Eve’s fingers intertwined in hers. She lets out a long breath, giving Eve’s hand a squeeze.
“You have to get on the boat, Eve,” Villanelle tells her quietly.
“Eve, you have to go-”
“I’m not leaving without you!” Eve cries, hot tears prickling the backs of her eyes.
They’ve come too far to be separated now. Not when there is even the slightest chance that Eve will never see Villanelle again. Not when there is the very real chance that Villanelle won’t make it off this ship alive.
“Eve, please,” Villanelle whispers, her expression pained and hurt as the officer grabs Eve by the shoulder, pushing her into the boat.
“Get off me!” Eve yells, struggling as Carolyn wraps her arms around her shoulders.
“You have to let her go,” Carolyn tells her softly as the officer begins cutting into the ropes.
Eve pushes her away, scrambling to the side of the lifeboat as they begin to descend, her hands grabbing the ledge of the Titanic before grasping Villanelle’s warm hand in her own, their arms stretched tight against the downward motion.
“Eve, I’ll be fine,” Villanelle tells her over the screams of the passengers around them. Niko rips Eve’s hand from Villanelle, leaning over the edge as the lifeboat lowers further away from them.
Eve will kill him.
“I have an arrangement for a lifeboat,” Niko shouts to her. “I’ll take Villanelle here along with me, just stay where you are!”
Villanelle nods in agreement.
“I have my own boat to catch, Eve. Stay there and I’ll meet you in New York,” she smiles down at Eve, her face getting smaller by the second as Eve looks on in horror. She finally sits in her seat, ignoring Carolyn’s calming words of nonchalance as her eyes remain trained on Villanelle’s retreating form.
This is not the way it was supposed to end.
“You’re a good liar.”
“You know as well as I do that she would not have gone if I hadn’t.”
Niko nods, his eyes trained on the ocean.
“There’s no arrangement, is there.” Villanelle mutters, looking down at Eve’s lifeboat below.
It's a statement, a known fact.
Villanelle knows better than to assume Niko would ever save the likes of her.
“Oh, there is,” Niko replies promptly, his eyebrows raising slightly. “Although I doubt you’ll benefit much from it.”
Villanelle scoffs out a laugh.
What a bastard.
“You know, I really should have saved that drawing,” Niko tells her, a smirk curling along his ugly lips. “After all this, it will be worth much more than you.”
Villanelle smirks back, and looks him up and down. If she’s going to die here, she’s at least going to get a little bit of satisfaction before she goes.
She looks him up and down.
“You look like someone stuck a mustache on some fudge.”
Niko opens his mouth to retort, before yelling is heard over the side of the ship.
Villanelle looks over at the exact moment that Eve Park launches herself onto the lower level of the Titanic , away from the safety of the lifeboat, before clambering over the ledge.
Her jaw falls open.
She did not.
It was the most impulsive, stupid decision of Eve’s life.
One that will undoubtedly result in her demise. But her decision, nonetheless.
Eve runs along the side of the ship, the roaring of the water flooding the deck behind her spurring her into a sprint as she turns and makes her way inside, where the grand staircase resides. She stops, her feet skidding across the marble floors when she spots Villanelle at the top of the stairs.
Villanelle runs down the stairs to meet her, strong arms crushing her to her chest in an embrace as Villanelle buries her face in Eve’s hair.
She pulls away, her eyes wet as she presses kisses to Eve’s lips, her cheeks, her nose.
“Eve, why did you do that?” Villanelle whimpers between kisses. “You’re so stupid, Eve, you were safe!”
Eve rests her hands on Villanelle’s chest, the world blurring into a haze around them.
“You jump, I jump. Right?”
Villanelle’s eyes brighten in recognition as Eve thinks back to the railing, of how Villanelle swore to pitch herself off along with Eve if she let go. It feels so long ago, that chilly night. Now, as everything in their midst is falling apart, the memory fills her with a deep warmth.
Villanelle gives her a grin, before pressing her lips to Eve’s.
Even if they die here, they’re going to do it together.
Eve tangles her hands in damp locks, deepening the kiss as Villanelle anchors her hands to Eve’s hips. It feels different than the ones they’ve had before. This kiss is filled with desperation, yes, but something more. A promise to stay, even if it means their story ends with the Titanic, even if it means their forever is somewhere at the bottom of the North Atlantic.
But it doesn’t mean that Eve isn’t going to try her damndest to save the both of them.
She breaks the kiss, cups Villanelle’s face in her hands.
“Come on, we have to go,” Eve tells her bluntly.
Villanelle doesn't respond, only nods as she clasps Eve’s hand in hers and leads them up the staircase to the uppermost level. They are about to reach open air, when Eve spots a familiar face in one of the lounges to their left.
She skids to a stop.
It’s Pargrave, his eyes trained on an ornate looking clock on the mantlepiece of the fireplace. He says nothing when Eve approaches slowly, still as a statue, his face devoid of emotion.
“Mr. Pargrave?” Eve says tentatively.
He shifts his head slightly, an acknowledgement of her words before meeting her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Eve. I should’ve built you a stronger ship.”
His words are soft, trembling slightly along their edges as they leave his mouth.
Eve shakes her head.
He raises his hand, a small smile crossing his face.
“Please Eve, it’s Bill.”
Eve takes a beat, touches his arm gently.
“Bill, we have to get to a boat, there isn’t much time,” she says, water beginning to seep into the room.
The architect shakes his head, his gaze turning downwards before unfastening the white lifejacket strapped to his chest. He shucks it over his head, before pressing it into Eve’s hands.
“My place is with my ship, Eve,” Bill tells her softly. “I can’t leave her now.”
Eve searches his eyes, tries to make sense of it as Villanelle gently squeezes her hand.
“We have to go,” Villanelle says softly, her eyes trained on the water behind them. A china cup resting on the mantle slides off the wooden top, smashing into pieces as it hits the floor.
Bill doesn’t react, simply pulling Eve into a tight hug. It's warm, and it rips a small whimper from Eve's throat.
“You’re brilliant,” he whispers comfortingly into her ear, and Eve resists the urge to cry.
It’s not fair. It’s not fair, and Eve knows that she can save Bill if he’ll just come with them.
Maybe they can find a spare lifeboat, a piece of debris, anything.
She opens her mouth to speak before Bill interrupts her, grabbing the lifejacket from her hands and placing it over her head.
“You can make it out, both of you."
He secures the straps, one by one until it hugs Eve in a mockery of the way that Bill had mere seconds before. He steps away, his eyes drilling into Eve’s before he returns to watching the clock, seconds of his life ticking away.