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The Individual in All Possible Forms

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The worst thing, the thing Cosima could never tell Sarah or Alison-- could certainly never have told Beth-- is that she gets why Dyad did it. Human cloning! In the eighties. It would be unbelievable if they weren't all living proof. That doesn't mean she approves. The experiment alone was unethical as hell, and what's followed has been even worse. But Cosima can all too easily imagine herself standing at the precipice, the balancing of what can be done versus what should be done. But she'd make the right decision. She'd turn away. She thinks.

Beth wanted her life to be normal again, and when she realized that would never happen, she wiped herself from existence. Alison wants normality too, but she's still hoping she can get it, still clinging to the tatters of her old life. Sarah wants her family, though nothing about them could ever be called normal. Of all of them, Sarah's the most likely to survive, though she may be crawling over the rest of their corpses to do it. Cosima should maybe be more bitter about that than she is. Maybe she would have been, before the sickness.

It's easy to think about things like this during late nights in the lab. The lab is where she belongs. Cosima has always wanted to understand. She wants to know, and she needs that knowledge to feed her soul just as much as she needs to it to save her body.

Cosima has a scientist's skepticism, and she hadn't believed Beth, not at first. Weird prank, right? Some classmate with too much time on their hands. Try to get the evo devo girl to believe in human cloning. Even if that kind of technology had been available when Beth was claiming the experiment had happened, human cloning is biology's ultimate taboo. Any biotechnologist would hear the laughter of the ethics committee in their head long before they wrote a proposal. But then the samples kept coming, not just the pictures but the blood. Before long Cosima realized she couldn't brush this off as a prank. Not even as secret twins. Or triplets. Or quadruplets.

The first thing Cosima felt when the reality finally sunk in was a slow, sick twist in her gut, but the second was fascination. She was as hungry as she was horrified.

Delphine would understand, which is exactly the problem. Cosima doesn't want anyone to understand. She's in a Dyad lab, taking Dyad money, and the last thing she wants to hear is how close she is to being like them.

Dyad is everything little baby undergrads are taught to fear, all big money and no morals. Black bagging and stalking hadn't been included in Cosima's scientific ethics class, but she feels comfortable condemning that too.

Dyad is keeping her alive. No one intends to let her forget that, not even Delphine.

Delphine, who is wonderful, beautiful, and brilliant. Delphine, who has a wicked, understated sense of humor. Delphine, who loves science almost as much as she loves Cosima, and Cosima wouldn't have it any other way.

Delphine who has lied to and betrayed her, who delivered Cosima's samples to Doctor Leekie even after Cosima expressly forbid her from doing so. Delphine has been Cosima's monitor from the start, and Cosima forgets that a lot of the time, but it always remains true. Delphine belongs to Cosima, but she also belongs to Dyad. Cosima's confident which side Delphine would fall on, if the chips were down, but that doesn't stop the nagging doubts. But then she feels a stabbing pain that is not only the sickness, because with every blood draw, oxygen canister, and experimental treatment, Dyad owns more of her as well, and she has to believe in something. Believing in Delphine's love is all she can do.

One evening it had been her and Sarah alone. “How can you trust her?” Sarah asked.

“How can you trust Paul?” Cosima countered.

Sarah snorted. “I don't.”

Cosima couldn't help a smile. “You kind of do.”

“Kind of,” Sarah emphasized. “She's your monitor, Cosima.”

“She's more than that.”

“You're gonna get hurt.”

“Maybe.” Cosima shrugged. “But it will be my choice.” Her choice. Her decisions. The mental puzzles of stubbornly making her own choices, all while knowing that they're the choices Dyad wants her to make. But she won't give up Delphine so easily.

She caught Felix looking at her funny another day in his loft. Sarah was off doing Sarah things, so it was just the two of them. “First rule,” he told her abruptly, “is never get involved in lesbian drama.”

“So don't,” Cosima replied huffily. She knew Felix didn't like Delphine. She didn't need to hear any more about it.

“No one ever said what happens to the rule if it happens to involve my sister's clone.”

“I can't believe they didn't cover that in queer school,” Cosima quipped, and Felixes gave her a wry grin.

“The point,” Felix continued, “is that Delphine is one huge bad idea with great hair, and being Sarah's brother has taught me about bad ideas.” He paused, seemingly working out what he was going to say. “But if great hair isn't enough to make the relationship work, you can pack up your u-haul and crash here.” He followed his statement with a shrug.

Cosima didn't know what to say. Felix was Sarah's brother, and he had taken Alison under his particularly flamboyant kind of wing, but the two of them had never really connected. “Thanks,” she finally said.

“Clone Club sticks together,” Felix said, and he was right.

“I have enough dirt on you to destroy your career,” Cosima had said to Delphine, and she meant it. Cosima needs Delphine like she needs air, and now that the sickness has taken hold, that's no casual metaphor. But she'll tear Delphine apart if that's what it takes to keep her sisters safe. Because they're more than sisters, really. Deeper than sisters and truer than other selves.

Biochemically speaking, any two humans are 99.9% similar. .1% percent seems like nothing in terms of numbers, but oh the complexity. And Dyad did it. They made people, and that was enough to make them think they own those people.

Sometimes Cosima wishes she could be like Sarah and tell Dyad to go fuck themselves. But the sickness twists inside her, and the blood on her lips reminds her just what's at stake. Unclassified auto-immune disorder. Polyps in her uterus and lungs. All because Professor Duncan and the rest wanted to be “noninvasive.” Now Cosima has to hope that Dyad can fix the problem it created.

Still, there's a part of Cosima that suspects she'd never be like Sarah. Cosima still wants to understand. She still wants to know. She is always a scientist, and her body is the most wonderful, horrible science she's ever encountered. Dyad thinks they can use her curiosity to get to her, and maybe they're right. But they underestimate her. This is her body, her life. Her fountain of knowledge to be used how she sees fit.

Leekie was flailing in the dark, and he covered with his flashy Neolution. He was intelligent, but he was helpless without Cosima and her sisters. He needed them, and they never needed him.

Cosima can still remember his eyes on her. Hungry and too eager. Leekie liked to play games. (Finding herself on the cover of Scientific American, really. As if she wouldn't catch the subtext.) It caught up with him though. Heart attack on a private jet, sure.

Maybe Ethan Duncan should seem the same, but he doesn't. Cosima can recognize his hubris, his irresponsibility, his refusal to consider consequences, but that doesn't change the fact that he made her. She can't resist the pull of that genius. And how many people can say that they've met their creator? Cosima doesn't think Duncan is any sort of god, but he did build her. He made her what she is, the good and the terrible. (He put the sickness inside her. Accidentally, yes, but he did it. And yet she still can't bring herself to hate him.)

“I am become Death, destroyer of worlds,” Oppenheimer said of the atomic bomb testing. Nuclear physics may not be Cosima's field, but she wonders what Duncan thought when the first viable clone was born. Did he feel like life itself? (Kenneth Bainbridge said, “Now we are all sons of bitches,” which feels more appropriate.)

Cosima would never have done the same in Duncan's position. But she can see what he saw. The endless possibilities. But even if he made her, he doesn't own her. If he used her-- all of them-- to satisfy his curiosity, then she can use him, not just to save herself, but to know herself.

Once, Cosima believed that she could remain the one in control. The arrogance of a scientist, different than Dyad in degree, but not in kind. She thought she was smart enough, rational enough to stay ahead of everyone. She doesn't believe that any longer. But she won't be just a lab rat. If Dyad thinks they can use the sickness against her, or Delphine, then Cosima will show them just what she's made of, and just how much she'll risk.

They may be genetic identicals, but Cosima is only herself. And that's plenty to be afraid of.

Delphine enters the lab, and her soft footsteps seem unreasonably loud in the almost empty space. “It's late, ma chère.”

Cosima turns to look at Delphine and flashes her a smile before turning back to her work. “I just want to finish this run.”

Delphine comes up behind Cosima and wraps her arms around her. “It will still be there in the morning.”

But will I?, Cosima doesn't say, because Delphine worries too much already, and anyway, Delphine is looking at her too much like a doctor right now, when Cosima would much rather she remember she's Cosima's lover. “I'll leave if you will,” she tells Delphine with a smile.

Delphine looks hesitant for a moment, and Cosima wonders what Dyad has her doing, but then she smiles back. “Deal.”

And of course that's the moment a coughing fit overtakes Cosima. Delphine rushes to her side. Cosima tries to wave her away, but her “I'm fine,” comes out too gurgled.

“Maybe you should sit down,” Delphine says, radiating concern.

Cosima shakes her head. She wants to stand up straight, walk out the room like a normal person. She wants Delphine to stop looking at her like she's going to break. “Let's just go. I can sit in the car just as well as I can sit here.”

It's logical, so Delphine agrees. Or maybe it's not so logical and Delphine is just humoring Cosima. Either way.

They keep their conversation to safe topics as Delphine drives, which is difficult, as their greatest shared passion is science, and so much of that is a minefield.

Cosima wonders what it would be like to have a normal lover and a normal life. She wishes she didn't suspect it would be boring.

Delphine, and Cosima's sisters, and her failing body, and the pure, miraculous science of it all; it all swirls together in Cosima's mind, indivisible. She can no longer separate one aspect from the other.

“Do you think we're all sons of bitches?” Cosima asks Delphine, suddenly.

Delphine looks at her, wearing the special expression that means she's feeling particularly perplexed by Cosima's Americanness. “I don't know what you mean.”

Cosima laughs with only a touch of darkness and shakes her head. “Never mind.” Still, she thinks they are. Not Death and not Life, just a bunch of fools poking the universe with a sharp stick, all because they want to see what will happen. “Let's keep driving. We could go anywhere, you know.”

It's not true, but from Delphine's expression, she understands what Cosima means. “All right,” she says, full of fondness. “We'll keep driving.”

It's a big universe, after all. Who knows what the two of them might find?