Warnings: some language and heavily implied sexual content (it’s made pretty clear but it’s not graphic or anything)
ALSO NOTE: this fic is written in second-person and MC is female-coded.
Y/N: what you named your MC Y/L/N: what you picked as your MC’s last name (this also gives you the opportunity to self-insert the fuck outta this)
The weather is colder than usual when you wake up. But that’s hardly the biggest anomaly so far in your day, because as you wrap the bedsheets tighter around yourself, you realize that these are not your sheets, and this is not your bed, and the reason it’s so cold is that the air conditioning is on high, a luxury you have some trouble affording in your own apartment.
Then again, you’re not in your apartment. You knew that from the moment you felt the silk sheets and smelled the cologne. You groan, because how on earth could you forget where you are?!
“Good morning, ma cherie,” comes Vincent’s voice from somewhere close by. Not right next to you, as you’d expected (perhaps even hoped), but across the room. You open your eyes and turn to see him fixing his tie in the mirror of his vanity, his ever-present smirk a little more mischievous than usual. Which is quite an achievement, if you think about it. You remember last night, when the smile was completely gone for just a moment just to come back tenfold when he realized what you were doing.
“Morning,” you say, blushing at the memory. “What are you all dressed up for?”
“I have business to attend to.”
You push yourself up on your elbows, searching around the room for your clothes – not that you’re embarrassed, it’s just that your bra isn’t doing much in terms of protection against the cold. “Trying to take over Paris again?”
“Something like that.” He turns his smile on you. “Dinner tonight?“
The answer is yes, of course, but you’re not willing to give that up just yet. Not before you understand what exactly led to the events of last night.
“Hang on,” you say instead. “Aren’t we gonna talk about…you know…”
His confident expression wavers for a moment, almost too fast for you to catch. He recovers quickly. “Talk about it?” he chuckles. “You initiated it, Ms. y/l/n, or do you not…remember? That good, was I?”
You roll your eyes. “I change my mind. Just leave.”
He laughs again, a low, deep noise that – you won’t lie to yourself – is kind of hot. He crosses the room to pick up a suspiciously familiar piece of cloth from an armchair in the corner, and then again to hand it to you. You give him an incredulous look. “You appeared to be searching for it.”
You take the dress from him, unable to stop yourself from thinking about it slipping to the floor just hours ago. You were still holding a glass of wine at that point. You still can’t believe Vincent freaking Karm actually unzipped the back of your dress, his hands lingering on your back, your waist, your shoulders…
“We can talk about it, if you’d like,” Vincent says when he sees the look on your face (and, god, what a look that must be). “Over dinner?”
“Dinner sounds good.”
For a moment there is a look of relief on his face, as if he expected you to reject him, but it’s gone before you’re even sure it’s there, replaced by the same confident smirk. He touches your shoulder lightly. “Fantastic,” he says as his hand slowly slides down your bare arm until it’s resting on top of your hand. “I’ll have someone pick you up at eight o’clock, sharp.” He slides his hand under yours, lifting both up to his lips to place a gentle kiss on your knuckles. “Mademoiselle.”
With that he lets go of your hand (and it takes a great amount of effort on your part to keep it from dropping uselessly in your lap) and leaves.
You sit in his bed for a long while – perhaps longer than you were welcome to. Before you go to dinner, before you sleep with him again (as you inevitably will. Honestly, it will be a miracle if you manage to even get through dinner before you bed him), you need to think. You certainly don’t regret what’s happened, that’s for sure. There has always been tension between the two of you. At some point during your endeavors it became of a sexual kind. No, more than that. Seducing him in the sewers was what sparked the sexual aspect, but there was something else. You’re not sure how or when it started or even when you noticed it, but for a long time now there’s been something else between you and Vincent. Some other unspoken thing that’s always felt more concrete than sex or adversary.
Even those you love deeply do not always respect you; it’s one of the sad truths of the world. But Vincent Karm does. He doesn’t have to say it or prove it in any way, because from the first time you met at the opera years ago, he’s thoroughly respected you. Your mind, your emotions, your decisions. Being a conventionally attractive woman in your field of work has its perks – people think you less threatening, allowing you to get the answers you need faster than others would – but it also comes with many, many disadvantages. One of which is lack of respect.
So…respect and sexual tension, you find yourself thinking. And maybe something else. That’s all well and good, but is it enough bases for a relationship? You sigh, annoyed at yourself, and get up to put your clothes back on. There is no “relationship” here, y/n, and there doesn’t need to be. What’s wrong with casual sex?!
But you can’t help it. When he kissed your hand, his gaze holding yours as he brushed his soft lips against your knuckles…you wanted more. You’ve wanted more for a long time now.
When you’re dropped off at the restaurant Vincent’s picked, you sincerely hope he’s paying, because this place charges half your salary for parking (thank god you don’t have a car). A man in a fancy red suit takes your name and immediately seats you at an empty table in a dimly-lit portion of the restaurant. You take note of the candles in the middle of the table, giving off a reddish-pink glow. There are two of them, one on either side of an elegant vase containing a single red rose.
You’re trying to figure out whether the cliche romantic setting is Vincent’s doing or just the restaurant when a shadow falls over the table. You look up to see Vincent standing there, studying you with a smile.
“Good evening, Vincent,” you say. “Lovely venue you’ve picked out.”
“Thank you,” he pauses. “…for coming, as well as the compliment.” He takes his seat across from you. He’s wearing the same suit from this morning, but the tie is new.
“Shall we start with some wine?” Vincent asks, opening up a menu and pretending to study it when really, all his attention is on you. You’re tempted to do the same, but the satisfaction of glaring at him until he sighs and sets the menu back down is far too great to pass up. So that’s exactly what you do, and he reacts accordingly, dropping the act and leaning towards you across the table. “Well, I’m listening.”
You search for the right words. Oh god, you should’ve drafted an outline or something! How is interviewing a suspect in murder easier than telling Vincent…whatever it is you were hoping to tell him?
“I didn’t see Esteban this morning,” you say at last. Vincent cocks an eyebrow.
“I had Eugene take him on a walk.”
“You…don’t walk your own dog?”
“Not always. Did you really come all the way here to discuss my dog?”
“No,” you say, a bit forcefully. “I came all the way here to discuss the fact that we had sex, Vincent! I thought that was pretty obvious!”
A look of amusement crosses Vincent’s face. And maybe a bit of an embarrassed one, but you might be projecting on that front. “Alright,” Vincent says. “Let’s discuss…that.” He pauses. “Do you regret it?”
You frown. “No, of course not. Why would I regret it?”
“I always assumed sleeping with me would require you to compromise all your morals.”
“Well…yeah, so did I. But turns out that’s not the case. Not since you helped me catch Kat’s killer, anyway.”
Vincent laughs. “Why, thank you. Now,” and he pointedly picks the menu again. “Wine?”
You nod. A waiter comes and takes “Mr. Karm and his date”’s drink order. Neither of you jump at the chance to correct him on his assumption that you’re a couple. Things are looking up. You’re both quiet until the waiter comes back with your drinks and takes your dinner order. You let Vincent order for you, having never been to this particular restaurant before. When you’re alone once again, Vincent smiles at you. “What are you thinking, Ms. y/l/n?”
“I’m trying to figure you out.”
“Well, keep trying,” he only sounds half-teasing.
“I mean your intentions.”
He winks. Another moment passes in silence.
“I was thinking…” you start; Vincent doesn’t move, but his eyes focus on you ever so subtly. “What happened last night felt a little overdue.”
“I agree. But things have always been hectic whenever we’ve met, haven’t they? Ancient riddles, the Knights, a murder…”
“Yeah, we need to get the hell out of Paris.”
Vincent pauses. His eyes narrow a little, as if he’s a little boy who’s not sure whether he’s gotten away with pulling a prank. “We,” he says, and you find yourself blushing.
“Oh, shut up!” If you weren’t at a five-star restaurant, you would throw a napkin at him.
“I must say, I knew of your feelings for me, but I never suspected them to run that deep.”
“As I was saying,” you push on pointedly. “Whatever there is between us has been there a long time. And I don’t know what it is, but I would like to explore it.”
You take a deep breath, waiting for his reply, hoping he won’t respond in riddles or mere innuendos like he always does. Hoping you won’t lose each other’s respect. Vincent doesn’t look surprised, exactly, just…disbelieving. Like he can believe what he’s hearing, but not that you meant it.
“What are you saying?” You’re sure you hear his voice waver a little.
“I’m asking whether this is a date.”
Several other moments pass. Neither of you speak or move. You’re locked in the intense, unbelieving gaze of Vincent’s eyes that’s only broken when the waiter returns with your meals. You shake your head free of the pressure that was building up in those minutes, ready to dig in and forget about the whole thing, when you hear Vincent’s trademark “I know your deepest darkest secrets” chuckle.
“Even if I didn’t have feelings for you, dear y/n,” he is saying. “It would be quite rude to sleep with you and leave you confused about the nature of our relationship, don’t you think? Besides, I owe you a bottle of wine, if nothing else - you barely had a drop last night! But to answer your question…this is indeed a date. You intrigue me. I am not often intrigued so. I would like to see how we can benefit each other in a less professional context.”
Suddenly, you can’t take it anymore.
“I need you to stop.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“For just five minutes, drop the act and be honest!”
“I’m always honest-”
“I’m not talking about your words, Vincent, I’m talking about the meaning behind them. Stop trying to be this suave Bond villain for five goddamn minutes and tell me what you’re really thinking!”
He doesn’t move or say anything for a moment, considering your words. The glass in his hand is shaking ever so slightly. He puts it down and takes a deep breath.
“As the lady wishes…” he leans so far over the table that he’s almost standing, and whatever words are spoken will have no other witnesses. It makes sense, for a man who’s built an empire on his image of unfaltering confidence and dubious ethicality, to be paranoid about people’s perception when he is about to show vulnerability.
And it is vulnerability you see etched onto his face when he swallows hard and begins, “I drugged Marion with the Essence when she disagreed with my plan.”
“I know,” you say, and he simply nods.
“What I saw in her eyes that day – that…that complete and utter devotion…that admiration no words can describe…the true essence of love itself? That is what I feel every time I think about you, y/n.”
With that, he sits back and folds his hands neatly on his lap, turning his face into an unreadable tableaux once more.
For a moment, you don’t know how to feel. Sure, you felt there was something real about the way he felt about you, but true love? Vincent Karm? In love? With you? You need a minute to let it sink in.
When it does sink in, it’s like a weight’s been lifted off your chest. You stand up abruptly, reaching for your purse. “Let’s get out of here.”
He doesn’t protest or ask questions. Without a word, without finishing your food, and without paying for the fancy meal you just (almost) had, the two of you walk out, past the busy street, and onto a less crowded sidewalk. You hope Eugene will take care of all those loose ends before you can get into trouble for them.
“I…” Vincent starts, but then stops and clears his throat. Seeing your bare arms in the cool night air, he takes off his coat and drapes it around your shoulders. “I take it you feel…similarly?”
You wrap the coat tightly around you, even though you’re not that cold. It smells like him. “Well, I probably wouldn’t have been as poetic about confessing my undying love, but, yeah.” And just to drive the point home, you grab his hand and entwine your fingers with his.
“I’m glad to hear that…” Vincent says, his voice small. He gives your hand a squeeze.
You walk hand-in-hand to your apartment. You linger at the door, teasing Vincent with a goodbye-peck-on-the-cheek before inviting him upstairs. You see a new smile when you do. It’s a warmer smile, and there is still a little disbelief on his face. Something tells you he’s looked at you like this before. You were probably just never looking at the right time.
Later, you lie in bed with Vincent’s arm around you and his hand in your hair. His breath is warm against your neck when he speaks, his words slurring with exhaustion.
“We need to get the hell out of Paris before another flood ruins this moment.”
“We,” you say teasingly.
“Yes, we,” he kisses your neck, making your giggle. “You…me…and Esteban.”
“And the cat.”
“And the cat, of course.”
“Yes, I think we should bring Eugene along as well.” He laughs into your neck. “At this rate, it would probably be easier to just stay.”
“Yeah, there’s always trouble here. The city is needs us.”
Vincent makes a noise in agreement and pulls you closer to him. You fall asleep with a smile on your face.