They’re kept, as all lab rats are kept, in a box.
Granted, their box is much bigger, a mansion, a manor ( a prison ), whatever word Rachel Duncan and her upturned nose and sneer could conjure up at any given moment, but it’s still a box, wherein the subjects rot away, unwitting participants to an experiment they didn’t sign up for.
She supposes that she’s being dramatic.
( Dramatics are usually Alison’s forte. Alison, who spends her spare time with musicals and Tony-award-winning productions. She says that one day, she and her friend Sarah, her neighbor from down the street, were going to do their own production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The Hendrix-Stubbs duo. She still has hope, somewhere behind the bravado, tugging at the golden cross never absent from the chain dangling around her neck. For all Alison’s dramatics she’s always been the most hopeful of them all.)
As far as being the product of human cloning ( and, god, it’s still weird to think about, despite the constant reminders, the mirrors of her face staring back at her every morning, every meal, every time Alison smiles softly at her or Rachel frowns or Tony grumbles or Krystal rolls her eyes or timid Mika―because she won’t be called Veera anymore―sticks her tongue out in concentration and shoves her over a tournament of super smash brothers or Beth reaches to ruffle her hair only to realize she can’t, because dreads don’t take well to being ruffled. Beth makes a valiant effort anyways) goes, Cosima supposes she has it good.
In another world, another life, she could be sixteen and unaware. She’s been here, in this old victorian style behemoth of a building straight out of an X-Men comic, for a year now, and her parents visit as often as they can. It’s harder for them to make the journey, not like Alison, whose parents are locally based, and can make visiting days almost every weekend without fail ( sometimes with Sarah, but those times only when the others are safely tucked away. Cosima isn’t sure what they’d told the girl with the kind eyes that aren’t her own―a rare occurrence in this house―but whenever she comes by Alison won’t stop humming for days) and Cosima handles it.
At least, here, she can study.
And study she does.
They have files on all of them, across the world. Leekie once called them sisters, but the words didn’t quite fit. They were more than that, and less than that, at the same time. Genetics didn’t make a family, but there was a thrumming connection between them all, the same threads of life linking them together like the double helixes identical in all of them.
Cosima studies them, the clones, the extensions of herself that are all too different from herself. There’s another place like this, Leekie told them once, in Europe. Mika never speaks of it, and nobody asks her to, the weight of those lost heavy on all of them.
She takes special interest in Katja. Katja, who is sick, who is so desperately sick, and tries her hardest not to think of Jennifer, withering away on a stretcher, eyes sad as Cosima traced patterns onto her hand.
(“If anyone can find a cure, it’s you, Cos,” Jennifer had said, and the pressure of the words sunk on her lungs immediately, crushing her as if she was drowning. Before she can promise that it will get better, Jennifer shakes her head, and squeezes Cosima’s hand, tightly, a rare show of strength amidst her fragility. “Make us better.”)
She conducts tests, gathers data, and her sisters―the word still doesn’t fit quite right―let her poke them with as many needles as she likes. Even Mika, who flinches away so violently from touch, lets Cosima gently lead her to an examination room, whispering soothingly into her ear as she rocked back and forth on her feet, counting backwards in a language Cosima can’t comprehend.
Nothing seems to be working, and illness seems inevitable.
And then, a miracle.
Aldous Leekie is not known for being a man of surprises. Quite the contrary. Rachel, who has spent her entire life in this house, under his tutelage, knows that he is a man of science, like Cosima. Likes to know all the possible outside factors that could impact his precious experiment. And then―
Two new faces show up at the house.
New, but oh so familiar.
Dual sets of eyes, eyes that Cosima sees every morning in the mirror as she brushes her teeth, blink up at her, guarded and unknown and dangerous .
( They keep records on all the clones, across all countries. It’s Mika who finds something odd, once. She’s always had a way with computers, and when it comes to digging, there’s nobody better. Just the name of a donor, Amelia, and then, nothing.)
Cosima is a scientist, it’s her instinct to observe, to dissect, to try and understand . The two girls in all their mystery, are whisked away before she can make so much as a comment.
( “Perhaps this carrier miscarried,” Mika suggests, tentatively, eyes down, never reaching Cosima’s own. Something about it doesn’t sit right, but nothing else makes sense. All the clones are known, monitored, controlled, “and that is why there is no further data.”)
One’s hair is shock-blonde, the other’s the same familiar brown as the majority of them, both wild and untamed. Feral , a voice in the back of Cosima’s mind whispers. The clone with brown hair stares at Cosima from where she stands, gaping in the stairway, before she is lead down a hallway.
( “Perhaps,” Cosima agrees, because nothing else makes sense. But, then again, with cloning, nothing much makes sense.)
Naturally, the first thing Cosima does is run straight to Beth, because Beth is the best at cajoling them all together, has a sort of sixth-sense for knowing where everyone is at any given time.
“What do you mean new clones? ” Alison hisses in a quiet tone, always fearful of the walls with ears. “That’s impossible, we know all of them.”
Before Krystal can open her mouth to start spouting conspiracy theories about the whole affair―really, nobody should have allowed her access to the internet―Mika looks to Cosima and something clicks.
“There was a carrier in the files,” Mika says, almost excitedly, and Beth smiles encouragingly at her when she falters, “Amelia. There was no record of her child, or, I guess, children―”
“You’re saying they’re twins?” Rachel cuts off, ignoring Beth’s glare. “That’s never happened before.”
“It’s not impossible, though,” Cosima points out.
Sisters . Twin clones.
From then on it’s a series of excited babble, questions of where they came from, who they are, what their names are. What makes them different . Krystal is by far the most flexible of them all, and Cosima has an eidetic memory, and Tony is afraid of needles, and Alison can’t sing above an F sharp, and Mika can always tell who it is walking down the hallway by the sound of their footsteps, and Beth takes her coffee black, and Rachel is, well, Rachel.
The excitement dies as soon as Mika spies them.
The wild, shock-blonde hair, and suddenly, timid, tepid Mika is leaping across the room, at this mirror image of herself, and the blonde clone lets her. Small, shaky fists, so unused to touch, land somewhat flimsily on her, but still find purchase, and their watchers in labcoats come out to intervene, to lift Mika off of her―Mika, who is physically pained by touch, and Beth quickly goes to intervene―but the blonde clone just waves them away.
“ You killed her!” Mika yells, and her voice is raw and choked with emotion. “ You killed Niki!”
The other girl comes in then, takes quick note of the situation, and stalks forward, only to be met by the brick wall that is Beth, always protecting, always there.
“Oi! Nuthead! Get your hands off my sister!”
Mika turns to her, face blotchy and red, tears streaming down her face, twisted into an expression that does not fit on Mika’s face, is perhaps better suited for Rachel, or even the unnamed clone currently beneath her.
“ She killed ,” Mika repeats, but the other clone doesn’t let her finish.
“She was tortured ,” she snarls, and Cosima begins to realize that maybe being a lab rat is a fairly cushy life in comparison to what she could have experienced, and maybe Leekie wasn’t lying when he said it was safer, “brainwashed by complete nutters and tortured and abused and made to do things she didn’t understand! Helena didn’t have a choice!”
“It is okay, sestra ,” the newly named Helena says from her position below Mika, and Cosima can spy the glint of remorse in her eyes. “What she says is truth. I did not understand, but does not make killing right. If hitting helps, I will let you be hitting me.”
Mika pauses, and raises her hand once more before lowering it, sobbing helplessly, and Beth collects her gently, so gently, and leads her away.
The others are more subdued now that they know they are in the company of a murderer, but Helena’s twin, still without a name, fixes them with a glare that rivals even Beth’s, and collects her own.
“Are you alright?” she asks, and Helena nods.
“Shaky same-face does not have training, blows did not damage.”
“Yeah, ‘s not what I meant, meathead,” she reaches for Helena’s hand, gently, and Helena looks at her gratefully, as though she hands the stars in the sky.
“Do not be calling me this,” Helena responds good-naturedly, as good-naturedly as one can for getting tackled. She pauses. “Not yet. Maybe, someday?” The unnamed clone nods, and, with another glare at the other clones, yanks at the sleeves of one of the scientists and has them lead her to their room.
Cosima goes back into the records, later, and there they are: Sarah and Helena Manning.
Sarah . She’s oh-so different than the girl who stumbles in some visitation days to sing about the musical adventures of Jesus Christ, and Cosima finds herself instantly intrigued.
( She finds a video, later, with Beth, of Helena killing six grown men without batting an eye, and the two of them understand then the immensity of her immobility. For someone trained to kill, to attack, letting herself be the punching bag would go against her every nature. Alison would call it a penance, if she knew. Beth calls it lucky.)
It’s her unquenchable curiosity, her thirst for knowledge, that had driven her to this place, convinced her parents that her staying her was the best option. It’s this same unquenchable curiosity that leads her down familiar hallways to the only bedroom she knows is big enough to fit two people.
She knocks once, twice, and waits. A third knock.
Cosima grins, despite herself, because Sarah Manning is so scruffily British in all the ways that Rachel is not. The moment they’d left―Sarah and Helena―Rachel’s nose had scrunched in the way it always did when she was displeased, from Sarah’s accent alone. A street rat , she had called her.
“I just wanted to say hi,” Cosima says instead, not very eager to, in Sarah’s words, piss off , “my name’s Cosima.”
“I don’t care what your bloody name is― ow! What was that for, meathead?”
Cosima hears a faint refrain of “don’t be calling me this” before the door is yanked open and she is face-to-face with the newly named clone ( Sarah Sarah Sarah) whose body is blocking any potential view of Helena.
“What,” Sarah growls, and she sounds so much like Beth before she’s had her coffee that it’s uncanny―albeit, with an accent―and Cosima takes a moment to observe her. Wild brown hair has been parted differently to reveal an undercut, and there’s an industrial bar in her left ear.
( Street rat, Rachel had called her. Delinquent, Alison had chimed in.)
“I thought you might like a friendly face somewhere around here―well, other than your own, of course.” Sarah’s eye twitches, and Cosima fights the urge to frown. Of course, she still hasn’t gotten used to the idea of it yet, of clones . It’s weird for anyone, but especially for someone raised outside of the system.
“Yeah, not bloody likely.” Sarah’s voice drips with suspicion, and Cosima can’t blame her.
“My room is down the hall, the one with the Einstein poster on the door,” Cosima continues anyways, as though her offers of friendship aren’t being continuously shot down, “if you ever want answers, or someone to show you around, or scientific jargon, I’ve been told I’m really good at that, but Beth says I’m prone to babbling, but really I think that babbling provides the good basis for―”
The door is slammed promptly in her face and Cosima grins because she thinks she’s made at least a bit of an impression on this wild type.
In the first couple of weeks of their stay, the twins ( the name follows them around like the plague, whispered through the halls. The twins. The twins. The twins. A miracle, an anomaly. So mysterious in what they don’t know) keep quite the distance from the others, cautious, never trusting.
They’re never far apart, extensions of one another in a way that none of the other clones are. Where Sarah goes Helena follows, and from the precursory x-rays Cosima knows that Helena’s heart beats on the wrong side of her chest, always the mirror image of her twin.
Sarah is always watching, though, with a keen eye.
Helena they expect. Helena was trained, raised under the tutelage of religious fanatics who whispered in her ear to kill kill kill . Her instincts are refined, power ripples beneath her skin as she walks, always a predator ready to strike. But Sarah? Sarah is still unknown.
Helena has lists of known contacts, of trainers, of confirmed kills.
Sarah has a small list of foster parents, ending in Siobhan Sadler, a handful of arrests, overnight stays at police stations. Beth’s father is a police officer, and Cosima knows that Beth itches to go to the academy, one day. She doesn’t think that Beth and Sarah will get along very well.
One day, there’s a knock on Cosima’s door.
And then: Sarah Manning, in all her ruffled, disgruntled glory.
If Helena is a wolf, prowling, hunting, watching, then Sarah is a cat. Skittish, feral, always ready to bolt. Back in San Francisco, Cosima’s mother’d had a cat, a scraggly, waifish little thing named Benedict. Cosima had spent hours coaxing him out from under sofas and into her lap, finding the perfect places to scratch to elicit deep, rumbling purrs, and she figures Sarah can be no different.
It will take time, and patience, two things that Beth tells Cosima she lacks on a regular basis, but, for this, for Sarah , Cosima knows she can do it.
“I don’t know why you’re so invested in this one,” Alison huffs, pushing around on one of the rolling chairs in Cosima’s lab that she shares with the pretty french monitor and Scott, the son of one of the on-site doctors, “she’s nothing but trouble. I can feel it.”
Alison fails to mention how, when Sarah is with Cosima, Helena follows her around like a curious puppy, always asking questions about the cross hanging around her neck, about the songs she hums.
( “They told her it was a mission given to her by God,” Alison tells Cosima and Beth one night, as they’re all curled up together, knowing that Mika is around the corner, listening intently, “the nuns, they―” her voice breaks, and her shoulders convulse “―they did such terrible things to her, and when she found out about Sarah she killed them, god she killed them all and she ran.” She tugs hopelessly on the cross around her neck. “How could someone do that? Use something holy as a weapon?”)
“I just have a feeling, Alison,” Cosima tells her, fails to mention the stirrings in the pits of her stomach when Sarah rolls her eyes fondly at her, eerily similar to Krystal but different in the way that everything about Sarah is different, when she snorts in an undignified manner that Rachel would never stand for at something Cosima says.
Alison fixes her with a look and Cosima raises a singular eyebrow.
“Yes, well, if this feeling has anything to do with how you tried to seduce Delphine that one time―” Cosima yelps and promptly falls off of her chair and Beth positively cackles at the accusation as Cosima tries to defend herself.
“You have always been the most defensive about Leekie calling us sisters,” Beth manages to get out amidst her wheezing, and Cosima knows she’s the color of a tomato at this point, “I guess we know why now.”
“Fuck off,” Cosima whines, “this is bullying.”
Sarah chooses that moment to walk past the lab, and pauses as she sees Beth and Alison in a heap on the floor, clutching at each other as they laugh, and the flush on Cosima’s cheeks.
“Are they high?”
“If only,” Cosima mutters under her breath, but Sarah’s presence only furthers the rush of blood to her face and encourages Beth’s raucous laughter, “they’re just being idiots.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, then,” Sarah says with a smirk, and Cosima knows her ears are red at this point, before leaving, and Beth just shakes her head sadly at her.
“Bullying my ass .”
Getting close to Sarah is a painstakingly slow process. If getting Benedict to trust her had been a struggle, getting Sarah to trust her is a full-blown war . She’s locked herself in a labyrinth of walls, her secrets have secrets and her defenses have battlements.
( She asks Helena about it, in a rare moment when she, Sarah, and Helena are alone together.
“It is like wise ogre said,” Helena’s been watching movies with Alison, a childlike innocent in the killer’s eyes when animated images fill the screen, “like onions, we have many layers.”
“If you quote Shrek one more time I’m gonna clobber ya with a bloody onion, meathead.”
“Do not be calling me this.”)
“What are your parents like?” Sarah asks her, out of the blue, one day, and Cosima takes pause from what she’s inspecting under the microscope.
“Kind,” she says after a moment, “you’ll probably meet them, eventually. They’re doctors, they’ve always been very supportive of my enthusiasm for science, which was part of the reason it was so easy for me to convince them to let me stay here, to work on a cure.” Sarah frowns, but doesn’t say anything.
“We lived in a little house by the bay in San Fran,” Cosima continues, “I kept a seashell collection. My mom has this grumpy old cat named Benedict, took me forever to get him to warm up to me, little booger would always hide under the couches whenever I got remotely near him.”
“Must’ve been your sunny personality,” Sarah teases, and Cosima sticks her tongue out at her, childishly. They’re silent, for a while, before Sarah speaks again. “It sounds nice.”
And oh does it break Cosima’s heart.
“What about you?” she asks, and Sarah shrugs.
“I was passed around in the system for a long time before I landed with Mrs. S.” Cosima remembers her from the files, Siobhan Sadler. “Not all of ‘m good. She took me ‘n Fee and brought us here.”
Cosima’s seen him, met him on a few occasions. She’d liked him instantly, because Sarah’d somehow found a way to tell him about them, about clones , and he’d stolen one of Rachel’s dresses within ten minutes of being in the building.
( “We’re a family of hustlers, darling,” he drawls as she gapes a him, hiding momentarily in her lab as Rachel stomps around looking for him, “can’t survive the foster system without having quick fingers.”)
“And then Helena found me.” Sarah’s expression softens in the way it always does when she mentions her twin, and Cosima finds herself wishing, not for the first time, that she had a connection with someone like the connection the two of them shared. Because, while she might have the same genetics as god knew how many people in the country, genetics didn’t make a family.
“And now you’re here,” Cosima finishes for her, and Sarah nods.
“And now I’m here.”
With me , Cosima adds in her head, and Sarah seems to sense it, because she smiles, not a smirk, but a smile, small and real and whole.
“Cos?” ( Her mind travels back to another time, another clone, because nobody calls her that, nobody has except for one other. A dying girl on a stretcher, pleading for her to save them all) “What’d ya mean by a cure?”
Sarah doesn’t trust this, doesn’t trust Leekie, or DYAD, or Rachel’s mysterious parents who are apparently behind it all. But she trusts Cosima.
And, slowly, she begins to tell Cosima everything.
They gather, Cosima and Sarah and Helena and Beth and Alison and Mika, in a room that Beth knows has no ears, because Beth has a way of knowing things. Beth is a protector, always has been, always will be.
“I was not just killing sestras,” Helena tells them in a small voice, “also brother-sestras, not like Felix. Same-face ones.” Her english is still broken, but they understand all the same.
“Male clones?” Beth demands, looking at Sarah for confirmation, and she nods.
Helena tells them about the convent, about Thomas, who whispered names in her ear, and about a man named Ferdinand, who had pulled at her captors like puppets.
“He talks like Rachel,” she says, and Mika’s face burns with a silent fury as she tugs at her hoodie strings. They’ve seen him around the building, often following Rachel around like a lost puppy, and the thought that he is behind their dead counterparts is sickening.
Beth fancies herself a detective, and Mika’s always been the best with computers, and with Cosima’s mind and Alison’s handy talent for compiling information, as well as however it is Sarah and Helena have managed to figure out what it is they’ve figured out, they slowly begin to piece together this puzzle that they’re all a part of. Leda and Castor.
“I will need Leekie’s laptop, to get what we need,” Mika tells them, and Sarah grins in a predatory way that is more Helena than Sarah.
“You leave that to me.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?” Alison huffs, but Sarah has disappeared down the hall to her room, and she returns with the dress that Felix had stolen and a blonde wig and Cosima’s eyes widen.
“You can’t mean to―”
“What?” Sarah asks, inflection the perfect imitation of Rachel, and suddenly Cosima understands why she is always watching. ( “We’re a family of hustlers, darling”) “Aldous is like a father to me, nobody will bat an eye to me visiting his office.”
It’s risky, they all know this, but they’ve spent all of their lives not knowing, so it’s worth it. Anything is worth it.
They dress Sarah up as Rachel, and Alison paints her lips dark red the way Rachel always wears them, and it’s eerie, how one clone can so easily morph into another, but Cosima can tell it’s still Sarah, beneath the dress and the wig and the makeup, in the small, reassuring smile she shoots her and the way she rolls her eyes at Helena when she makes pig noises at her.
Sarah comes back, triumphant―of course she does, who were they to doubt her?―with laptop in hand, which she quickly hands off to Mika, and as the others crowd her, Cosima stays.
“Why are you doing this?” she asks, and Sarah’s quiet, for a long moment.
“You said we’re all sick,” Sarah shrugs, and then, after another pause, “I can’t imagine doing any of this without you, Cos.”
Cosima’s body floods with affection at her words and before she can stop herself she finds her arms winding their way around Sarah who still looks like Rachel and pulling her into a tight hug, and the other girl goes stiff before relaxing into the embrace, bringing her own arms up more tentatively to wrap around Cosima’s lower back, her nose tucked into Cosima’s shoulder, and Cosima’s in hers.
Sarah smells like Rachel’s stolen perfume and Helena’s woodland musk and something entirely unique that is simply Sarah , and Cosima thinks she’s utterly intoxicating.
They stay like that for a long moment, probably longer than acceptable from the pointed look Beth gives her when they part, but Cosima is still warm and there’s a light dusting of color to Sarah’s cheeks that has nothing to do with the small application of Rachel’s blush that remains.
“We’ll have to find the Original,” Beth decides, and Cosima nods. Sarah shoots them both puzzled looks.
Despite the fact that Sarah and Helena are here, that they’ve been brought in, they’re surprisingly ignorant about the matters of it all.
“The Original,” Cosima elaborates, “the person we were all cloned from, and, hopefully, with that computer, we’ll be able to figure it out.”
“There is nothing I can’t crack,” Mika says confidently, and Helena frowns.
“Cracking? Like egg?”
“No,” Sarah sighs, “it’s a saying, meathead―” ( “Do not be calling me this” ) “―it means like finding secrets.” Helena nods, appeased, and Sarah ruffles her already wild hair fondly, Helena leaning into the contact.
They disperse, after a while, heading to their individual rooms.
( “We won’t learn anything sleep deprived and greasy,” Alison mothers, and Beth agrees.)
Cosima goes to her bathroom, humming absentmindedly to herself, a showtune that Alison had gotten stuck in her head that is promptly interrupted by a fit of coughing as she doubles over onto her sink, vision blurring. When she pulls away, vision clearing, there are droplets of red staining the previously clear white.
( It seems like such a long time ago.)
Cosima’s breathing stutters.
( Jennifer Fitzsimmons greets her cheerily as she enters the mansion. Not Beth, not Alison, not Rachel or Tony or Krystal or Mika or anyone else. Jennifer Fitzsimmons. Cosima’s been been made self aware at this point, but it’s still weird , to look at someone else and see your own face staring back at you. But Jennifer isn’t her. Jennifer’s hair is pulled into a french braid hanging off her right shoulder and their is a bright, bubbling vibrancy of life radiating off of her in waves.)
She isn’t sure when she falls onto the floor, or when she starts crying. But there she is.
( “Hiya!” she sounds like one of the people that are cast for infomercials, and Cosima has a million questions. “I’m Jennifer, you must be Cosima.” She puts too much emphasis on the ‘Cos’ and not enough on ‘sima’ but it isn’t the first time someone’s made the mistake, and as she leads Cosima and her parents into the winding halls, rattling off facts, Cosima thinks they’ll be fast friends.)
There’s a knock on her door, and she hurriedly wipes at her eyes, trying to compose herself, running the tap to remove all evidence of the sickness that has now crept up on her.
“Coming!” she calls.
( “If anyone can find a cure, it’s you, Cos,” Jennifer had said, and the pressure of the words sunk on her lungs immediately, crushing her as if she was drowning. Before she can promise that it will get better, Jennifer shakes her head, and squeezes Cosima’s hand, tightly, a rare show of strength amidst her fragility. “Make us better.” )
Of all the people Cosima might have expected, Helena was last on the list, after even Dr. Leekie and Rachel. Helena tilts her head and leans in closer than personal space dictates is acceptable, and inhales deeply, which is weird but nothing much that Helena does falls under the category of normal anyways.
“You smell like blood,” Helena declares, eyes narrowing, “you are sick, like Jennifer and Katja, yes?”
Well, Cosima was planning on keeping it a secret for a while, but Helena has a way of finding things out whether or not people want her to. All she can do is nod.
“This is bad,” Helena decides, moving Cosima to sit her down on her bed. “You cannot be sick.” She says the words almost sternly and Cosima frowns, but before she can ask, Helena continues. “ Sestra is fond of you. I do not know why. But she is, so you cannot be sick. Cannot be cracking like egg.” Helena fixes Cosima with another look.
“We will make you better,” she promises with a ferocity that’s supposed to be comforting but is mostly terrifying, and Cosima nods. She turns sharply on her heel to stalk out of the room but Cosima stops her.
“Please, don’t tell Sarah. Not yet.”
“I will not lie to my sestra ,” Helena scoffs, as though the very thought offends her, and Cosima shakes her head.
“I’m not asking you to lie,” she insists, “just, omit the truth a little bit. I want to tell her myself, okay? And I just found out, I’m not really ready for people to know.”
Helena looks at her, brown eyes meeting their match, and there’s something sad there, but it isn’t pity. No, it’s akin to understanding, and, somehow, that’s even worse.
“Alright,” she agrees, “I do not like this, but I will not tell. For you, Cosima.”
“Thank you, Helena.”
She nods, and then she’s gone.
It’s only then that Cosima processes what she’d said, about Sarah being fond of her , and despite the fact that she’s sick, she can’t help but giggle like a schoolgirl, because she can’t imagine Sarah and Helena talking about their romantic interests together, and can’t help the swell of hope in her chest that she might be one of those.
Time passes, and hope is sparse.
No matter how much they dig, they can’t seem to find anything about the original, and they realize that it’s because Leekie doesn’t know .
“That’s the reason he can’t continue cloning,” Cosima figures, “because he doesn’t have the original genome. Ethan Duncan had it, and he died in a fire.”
Helena makes a disagreeing noise, and Mika backs this up with pictures she conjures from her computer, and then they have a whole other load of nothing, and another impossible mountain to climb.
And Cosima isn’t getting better.
The others still don’t know. Helena keeps a watchful eye on her, Cosima can feel her tracking her movements, waiting for her to falter, and its equally comforting and unnerving.
Leekie knows, as do the doctors on site, and Scott. Rachel probably knows, too, but Rachel hardly cares enough to inform anyone else. So Cosima soldiers on in silence, fighting a war that nobody else is aware of―nobody of importance, anyways (sans Helena).
One night, there’s a storm, one of the worst there’s been in a while, and Cosima barely hears the knock at her door over the rumbling of thunder, the harsh cracks of lighting, like whips of light across the tumultuous night sky.
Sarah stands there, shivering and skittish, and Cosima ushers her in immediately.
Benedict had hated storms, too, would curl up in the safety of Cosima’s duvet until they’d passed, ears tucking back and curling further into himself at every shake of thunder, every harsh snap of lightning, and not even Cosima’s gentle hand could relax him fully.
“Are you scared of storms?” Cosima asks, but there’s no trace of mockery in her tone, patting the bed next to her. Sarah nods, and lets herself be pulled in close, lets Cosima thread her fingers through Sarah’s hair in the way she sees Sarah thread her fingers through Helena’s. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not yet,” Sarah says, voice smaller than Cosima has ever heard it, leaning further into Cosima’s side, “can you just talk? For a little while?”
“Of course,” Cosima agrees. She talks about the science behind storms, of meteorology, of thunder and lightning, of the variation in sounds and how they’re affected by pressure and temperature and such, all while gently running her fingers through Sarah’s hair, pressing into Sarah’s side, breathing in Sarah’s scent, soaking in the presence of Sarah Sarah Sarah.
“I was a really stupid kid,” Sarah says, after a while, when Cosima takes pause, “still am, really.” She chuckles self-deprecatingly and Cosima aches to take away all her insecurities. “But especially then, I was mad at the world, and stupid enough to get involved in some dumb shit, the wrong crowd of people, and lots of drugs.”
Cosima doesn’t speak, but she doesn’t stop playing with Sarah’s hair either.
“I was young and angry and trying to prove a point and dumb enough to get myself knocked up.” Cosima freezes for a moment because that can’t be possible . All the clones are infertile. It was a part of their designed genetic code, part of the reason they were sick , as discovered by the polyps in Jennifer’s uterus post-mortem. Her mind is running at miles a minute because what does this mean and is Helena the same and is Sarah immune? But that’s not what Sarah needs in the moment so she forces herself to breathe and continue her ministrations.
“I was too young to have a kid,” Sarah says, and her voice breaks, and Cosima knows where this story is headed. “S was bloody furious, she was, but mostly she was scared, I think. I ran away, and it was raining, and I went to a clinic and, and―” she’s crying, now, and Cosima holds her.
“I’m a horrible person,” Sarah sobs.
“No you’re not,” Cosima tells her fiercely, “Sarah Manning you are not . You are good and brave and strong and if it weren’t for you we’d be in the dark about so many things. You’re a bright shining light here in all the darkness.”
She turns so that the two of them are facing one another, eyes that are the same yet so different boring into their mirror image. Sarah’s breath hitches, and she’s so vulnerable, and soft, and her eyes are filled with hope and longing and a desperation to believe . And suddenly her hands are cupping Cosima’s face and she’s leaning forward and oh god is this actually happening―
There’s a particularly violent crack of thunder and Sarah jerks back, the moment broken, and Cosima curses whatever forces in the universe exist, whatever gods or higher beings that may be in control, for interrupting what might have been the most intimate moment between the two of them thus far.
And then Cosima coughs.
And coughs .
And keeps coughing until the violence of the fit drives her once more to the bathroom, where she’s heaving over the sink, red once more splattering over synthetic white, and Sarah’s eyes are blown wide with fear that has nothing to do with the thunder.
“You’re sick.” It’s a statement. Not an accusation, not a broken revelation, not a pitiful death sentence. Just a statement.
Other than the fear, Sarah is woefully unreadable, and Cosima wishes, not for the first time, that she could read minds, somehow understand what Sarah is thinking, figure out this one puzzle that is always shifting, to gauge Sarah’s feelings so that she can react, placate, reassure―
Before she can do anything, Sarah’s hands find their place back on Cosima’s cheeks, cupping her face the way they had moments earlier, before the interruption, before the revelation, when they had just been two girls in the eye of the storm, in a state of limbo between broken and sick and whatever else it was the world wanted to throw at them, and Sarah’s lips were on Cosima’s own and it’s messy and imperfect but perfect in its own way, kind of like them.
It’s not the best moment for a first kiss, all things considering, because there’s the salty taste of Sarah’s tears and the coppery residue of Cosima’s blood, but there’s a raw need, a desperation for the two of them to be infinitesimally closer to one another in this moment, and Cosima isn’t complaining.
She wraps her arms around Sarah’s neck the same time Sarah’s hands move to grip Cosima’s ass, hoisting her up into the air and Cosima squeaks at the display of strength as she winds her legs around Sarah’s waist, because damn thats hot .
Somehow, between all the heated, frantic kissing, Sarah sucking on her neck, her teeth tugging on her earlobe, her lower lip, her tongue coaxing whimpering, needy little noises from the back of Cosima’s throat, noises that Cosima hadn’t known she was even able to make, they make it back to the bed. Sarah lowers her gently, so gently, as if Cosima is the most precious thing in the entire universe.
Cosima shucks off her shirt with surprising dexterity and Sarah wastes no time in continuing her quest to worship the girl currently beneath her, arms framing either side of Cosima’s body. Her lips trail kisses down Cosima’s collarbones, dip to the sensitive skin below her breasts, the soft expanse of her stomach.
Another rumble of thunder, and Sarah falters.
“Hey,” Cosima whispers softly, hand reaching for Sarah’s face, hidden by a cascade of brown hair, “you’re shaking.” She thinks she’s crying, too, because there’s a suspicious dampness on Cosima’s stomach that she knows has nothing to do with Sarah’s tongue―she’d been keeping very good track of it―and she pulls Sarah’s chin up so that she’s looking at her.
“Usually the crying happens after I’ve given someone a mind-blowing orgasm,” Cosima whispers, and Sarah laughs wetly before letting Cosima pull her further up to cuddle, arms wrapping around her almost protectively, “we don’t have to do this now.”
They’re both raw and vulnerable and, frankly, emotionally off-kilter, and Sarah nods into Cosima’s shoulder.
“I can’t lose you too, Cos,” she whispers, brokenly, and Cosima is reminded that this is a girl whose life has been filled with impermanent people.
She kisses Sarah, then, soft, and sweet, and filled with promise.
“I’m not leaving you anytime soon, Sarah Manning.”
She wakes up in the morning to find that they’ve tangled together, Sarah’s legs twisted with Cosima’s own, her brown hair spread out like a halo on Cosima’s burgundy pillows, expression soft and relaxed in sleep in a way she never is during the day. Cosima isn’t sure how long she lays there, watching Sarah sleep, and when brown eyes finally flutter open she finds she doesn’t mind getting caught.
“Good morning,” she greets, and Sarah groans, rolling over.
“Tell me you’re not a bloody morning person or this’ll never work out.” Cosima’s breath hitches at the implication, but she doesn’t dwell on it.
“Only when there’s a pretty girl in my bed.”
Sarah finally gets up after some coaxing on Cosima’s part, and her eyes flicker appreciatively over Cosima’s shirtless torso before heading towards the window.
“Where are you going?”
“Sneaking out so Beth doesn’t skin me alive,” Sarah explains as though it’s obvious, “don’t worry, I’ve been doin this for ages, I’m a pro.” And before Cosima can say anything in return, she’s gone, like a cat, slinking out of the window.
It shouldn’t be as attractive as it is.
Cosima goes about her day as usual, attending classes and tending to her experiments in the lab, exchanging whispers with Mika as they try still, with no progress, to find the Original. But there are more questions, now, questions about Sarah’s apparent fertility that Cosima hasn’t yet had the chance to ask, and what that might mean, and if Helena is the same, and the cure the cure the cure.
Her mind, however, is stuck on images of Sarah Sarah Sarah , specifically Sarah’s arms, and Sarah’s lips, and Sarah’s tongue, and Sarah’s teeth, entirely inappropriate thoughts especially considering the fact that she’s dying , that they’re all dying, but teenage hormones rarely take these things into account, and Cosima squirms in her seat at the memory during dinner, and from across the hall where Sarah sits with Helena, the other girl smirks and winks .
She fucking winks .
Beth, ever the detective, never misses a thing, and her eyes move slowly from Sarah’s smug expression to Cosima’s squirming figure and zero in on a patch of skin above Cosima’s collarbone.
“Is that…” Beth trails off, her tone low and somewhat dangerous “...a hickey?”
Suddenly Sarah’s smug expression makes a hell of a lot more sense, the bitch , and Cosima’s cheeks flush bright red despite herself.
The ability to lie flawlessly is apparently not a genetic trait, because Cosima can’t hold a candle to Beth or Sarah or even Rachel in that department. She has tells that give her away immediately, and the fact that it’s Beth asking doesn’t help her situation at all.
Beth’s eyes narrow and she glares in Sarah’s direction and all Sarah offers in return is a jaunty little wave and Cosima can practically hear the protective instincts in Beth’s body ticking down like a bomb waiting to explode.
“I’ll kill her,” Beth promises, turning back to Cosima with a serious expression, and Cosima rolls her eyes.
“No,” she says sternly, “you will not kill my―” she falters, because Sarah’s not technically her girlfriend , not yet, anyways, but if Cosima has anything to say about it she will be, but that’s besides the point. “You’re not killing Sarah.”
“And why not?” Beth challenges.
“Because then you’d have to deal with a very angry Helena,” Cosima points out smugly, nodding to where Helena is trying to steal Sarah’s dish of jell-o, which the other girl is deftly playing keep-away with, “and whether you care to admit it or not, I know Helena scares you.” Beth frowns and grumbles morosely into her food. “And besides, you’re one to talk, considering you make puppy eyes at Alison all the time.”
Beth freezes, and makes approximately eighteen different facial expressions in the span of five seconds before settling on her poker face.
“I do not .”
“Please,” Cosima scoffs, “nobody goes to every single rehearsal of Jesus Christ Superstar unless they have an ulterior motive, Childs, so leave Sarah alone.”
Beth glowers at her, but there’s an upward quirk of her lips so Cosima knows she’s not really angry.
“Blackmail? I’m so proud.”
“I learned from the best.”
“You’re damn right.” It’s Beth’s signature line, and she reaches across the table to ruffle Cosima’s hair even though it really isn’t meant to be ruffled. “I’ll still kick her ass for you, though.”
“You won’t have to.”
Cosima knows that she has to tell the others that she’s sick. They’ll find out eventually, Beth sooner than later, with her keen, always-watching eyes, her protective nature. It’s no wonder she and Alison are drawn to one another, they’re both mother hens, in their own way.
Sarah becomes her shadow, always there, her hands on Cosima’s waist, at the small of her back, gently resting on her elbow. Unwittingly, Cosima leans on her, soaks in her warmth, gently accepts the silent offers of strength. They don’t talk, but they don’t need to, there’s an unspoken understanding between the two of them.
Cosima wakes up some mornings with stolen jell-o at her door and wonders if she compared the wrong Manning twin to a cat, but Helena just smiles at her.
“You are a nice boulder,” she says, as if it makes any sense, “I like you, so you must get better. Jell-o helps.”
Time passes, and Mika digs, and digs, and digs some more, and Helena bemoans that they are no closer to cracking this egg. But Cosima is studying Sarah, now, trying to figure out how she is different, why she is different, and wondering how it fits into it all, and hoping desperately that it might help.
( “Sometimes I can’t help but feel like they’re keeping secrets from us,” Jennifer tells her one day, as Cosima traces golden ratios into the sick clone’s forearm, “we’re sick but they don’t tell us why, or how. We’re here and we’re ‘self-aware’ but we don’t know much of anything at all.”)
Sarah reminds her of Jennifer, sometimes. Jennifer had wanted to be a teacher, which made her similar to Cosima in that she always sought knowledge, always had a curiosity about the world, never ceased to question the reality presented to her.
Sarah breaks barriers and pushes limits and redefines truth with everything she does with a ferocity in her gaze and a stubborn set to her jaw and Cosima loves her for it. Loves her even though it’s reckless and puts her in danger and loves her even more with the knowledge that she’s doing it for her , for all of them, but mostly for her .
( “ We can’t do this without one another,” Sarah tells Mika fiercely, on one of the nights where Mika is tired, where Mika remembers Niki and the weariness seeps through her bones and grief consumes her. And it’s true. They need one another like a tree needs its roots, precariously balanced like a house of cards. If one card were to fall, the entire structure would crumble and scatter to the floor, lost forever.)
Mika rubs at her eyes and pulls on the strings of her hoodies and Beth wordlessly hands her a cup of iced tea, 25 oz crystals and 75 oz water, and Sarah holds Cosima’s hand, rubbing patterns on her cold skin that aren’t golden ratios but are comforting all the same.
( “I can’t lose you too, Cos.” )
Sarah Manning needs her, and Cosima won’t be another name on the endless list of people who have left.
Visitation weekend rolls by, a small interlude of calm to quell the rush. Alison and Sarah Stubbs have headed off to sing, Sarah Stubbs who still knows nothing about clones, and Beth is grumpier than usual because she can’t spend time with Alison, and Felix Dawkins strolls through the door as though he owns the place.
“Well,” he says, regarding the group of them, “I can’t say this isn’t weird, because it’s bloody insane.” He pauses and studies Cosima with more rigor, and though she’s the scientist among them she can’t help but feel as though she’s the one under the microscope. “You’re an arguably more attractive version of my sister.” His eyes flicker down to her chest for a brief moment. “Sarah, am I making this up, or are her tits bigger than yours?” Beth snorts and Cosima’s eyes widen and Sarah covers her face with her hands and Mika squeaks and Helena just grins.
“Shove off you bloody wanker,” Sarah punctuates the words by actually shoving him and Felix just laughs, winking at Cosima as the two of them tussle for a moment. They act like brother and sister would.
“Hello brother-sestra,” Helena greets once they’ve separated, pulling him in for a hug, “I have missed you.”
“Cheers, ‘lena darling,” he grins, “how’s prison been treating you?”
“Very good,” she tells him seriously, “there is much jell-o, and funny movies. My favorites are one with green ogre and small yellow bug who fights for his same-face brethren.” Felix nods along with her words, looking to Sarah for some sort of explanation.
“Alison thought it would be a good idea for her to watch children’s movies, but she keeps quoting Shrek as if it has some sort of deeper meaning an’ it’s ridiculous.”
“The ogre is very wise,” Helena frowns, “you just need to listen.”
Instead of arguing further on the intellectual prowess of Shrek, Beth leads them away, and they do their best to bring Felix to speed on the situation. He nods along, jotting notes down on the one of the phones he’d brought― stolen ―that Mika has encrypted, because he says Mrs. S should be able to help them with all of this.
“She has a network,” he says, as though it explains everything.
“Right, well, you can’t keep pretending to be Rachel in the same dress, so I’ve got a lil bit ‘o thievery to do.” He grins lecherously, and Sarah rolls her eyes.
“You enjoy this way too much, Fee.”
“Ever since you left, S hasn’t had to keep ‘n eye on two o’ us, so now she’s always watchin’ me, so I can’t get away with half as much.”
He comes back an hour later, much later than they expected him to take, looking ruffled but with several dresses in hand.
“What took you so long, Fee?” Sarah teases. “Thought you were a pro?”
“I was accosted,” he defends, “by your bloody boy clone who smells like too much axe body spray and bad decisions.” Cosima fights the urge to snicker because of course Tony would find Felix, he’s got the nose of a bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out gay boys whenever they’re on premises. “Tried to kiss me, he did, and it was bloody weird . Sure he’s got a beard but he’s got your face and―” Felix’s expression contorts and he shivers.
“Seems like a nice bloke ‘n all, jus’ had to let him down gentle.”
Sarah’s always watching, but today Cosima takes a moment to watch Sarah, the easy way that she interacts with Felix, the familiarity between the two of them, the jokes and the play fighting and the knowing looks. She sees the way that Sarah and Helena communicate wordlessly, through gentle, leading touches and directional nods, watches how Felix takes the time to slow down his hurried speech when Helena’s brow furrows slightly, english still foreign to her at times.
Cosima knows a thing or two about found family.
Sure, she has her parents, and Benedict, and the house by the bay and her seashell collection and all the memories, but she also has Beth, and Alison, and Mika ( she had Jennifer, too, once upon a time) and something that was bigger than all of them.
Seeing Sarah with Felix and Helena feels different, though, again in the way that everything about Sarah seems to always be different, and Cosima’s heart swells because if anyone deserves this it’s Sarah, Sarah who fights and fights and fights and asks for nothing in return, Sarah who has lost and lost and lost and yet has so much love in her heart.
Felix pulls Cosima away from the room after a moment and there’s a question in Sarah’s eyes that he ignores, and Cosima follows willingly.
“Don’t worry,” he assures her as soon as they’re out of earshot of the others, “this ain’t a shovel talk or nuthin, figured you know that Helena’d bloody murder you if you so much ‘s breathed at Sarah the wrong way.” Cosima chuckles softly because Helena does give off that impression; she’s never seen twins so fiercely devoted to one another. “I just…” he trails off.
“I don’t really know what you’re doing.” Cosima doesn’t really know, either, but Felix doesn’t need to know that. “But I know you’re doing something. And, I know Sarah’s difficult, but she’s worth it.”
He fixes her with a heavy look, as though he’s searching for something, and Cosima hopes he finds it.
“Don’t give up on her.”
“I won’t,” Cosima promises, and she means it.
( “I’m not leaving you anytime soon, Sarah Manning.” )
Helena comes and visits her a few nights later, nearly scaring Cosima half to death, because she’s unnaturally quiet in the way that she moves, so much so that Beth keeps threatening to put a bell on her.
“You are fond of sestra , yes?” she asks, and Cosima nods, baffled, because Helena knows all of this. “And sestra is fond of you.”
“I hope you,” Cosima jokes, but Helena just frowns at her.
“If you are both fond of one another then why are you not saying it?” she presses, and this brings Cosima pause, because she and Sarah really need to talk about what it is that’s going on between the two of them, but neither of them are great when it comes to confronting their feelings.
“You are being stupid,” Helena deadpans, and Cosima sputters, trying to come up with some sort of argument to defend herself, but Helena continues, “you are supposed to be smart one, but even smart ones need to listen sometimes. Even wise ogre needed advice from osiv .” Helena fixes Sarah with a stern look.
“I will be your osiv .” Cosima doesn’t speak ukrainian but she’s fairly certain that means donkey. “Do not be so wrapped up in layers to be afraid of your feelings.” She pauses. “Too much onion is not good.”
If it were anyone else speaking to her, Cosima would either burst out laughing or recommend they be institutionalized, but coming from Helena it actually makes some sort of sense, so she nods.
“Good.” Helena smiles at her. “Also, you must tell the others that you are sick, so they can help. They worry.”
“One thing at a time, Helena, one thing at a time.”
She gets around to telling the others before she has her conversation with Sarah. Her coughing fits have become less predictable, so it was only a matter of time before she slipped up and had one in front of them. Unfortunately for her, it happens sooner rather than later.
Sarah is with her immediately, eyes filled with concern that Cosima rushes to brush off, but the others are there as well. Alison’s hands cover her mouth and Beth’s jaw is set stubbornly as if she doesn’t want to believe what she’s seeing, and Mika tugs on the strings of her hoodie more frantically than usual, eyes wide and lower lip trembling.
“How long?” Beth’s voice only sounds cool and professional when she’s scared and god she’s terrified, and Cosima aches.
“A couple of months,” she admits weakly, because there’s no use trying to hide it from them now. They’re all in this together, this tangled mess of half-truths and lies and not knowing and science that shouldn’t exist and sickness. They deserve to know.
“ God .” It’s worse, hearing it from Alison, who never says it, who uses words like golly or gosh or goodness but never god , and Cosima’s heart breaks a little bit more.
( “The pity’s the worst part,” Jennifer tells her, stretching out on her bed, looking wistfully out the window where Beth is running circles around a wheezing Alison, “the looks people give you. They don’t mean to, but it happens. They look at you like you’re something that’s going to disappear.” She fiddles with the cannula Cosima has helped situate onto her nose. “I just want people to look at me and see Jennifer again, not someone sick.” )
“We’re going to find the Original,” Beth swears, voice stony and sure, eyebrows furrowed stubbornly in a manner eerily reminiscent of Sarah ( she’d thought, once that Sarah and Beth wouldn’t get along, but they’re much more similar than either would care to admit ) “we’re going to figure this shitshow out and we’re going to cure you, Cosima.”
“Well if you say it like that I guess we have to,” Cosima offers weakly, and Beth’s eyes glisten with tears she refuses to let fall.
“You’re damn right.”
It’s a long and tiring day, and when Cosima retreats later to the confines of her room Sarah follows, fingers intertwined with Cosima’s own, and the two find themselves situated on Cosima’s bed, curled into one another.
Eventually Cosima moves so that she’s straddling Sarah, holding both of her hands, and presses a soft kiss to Sarah’s forehead.
“What are we doing?” she asks softly, and Sarah shudders beneath her.
“I’m not very good at this,” Sarah admits, and Cosima hums, letting her talk, “at feelings, and talking, and letting people in.” She pauses, swallowing. “It’s mostly because I’m scared, because people leave, and they’re impermanent fixtures in life, and being left hurts .” Her voice breaks a little, and Cosima offers her another soft, comforting kiss, this time on her cheek.
“But with you it’s different,” Sarah says, and she herself sounds surprised by the words, “even though it seems like it wouldn’t be, considering the fact that you’re―” she cuts herself off, because she doesn’t want to say it, but Cosima nods. They both know. “It’s different and it’s scary , and god, Cos, you terrify me, but in the best way possible, and―”
It’s silent for a long moment.
“And?” Cosima prompts, not wanting to rush her, but not wanting the moment to end.
“I haven’t had much practice when it comes to loving people,” Sarah says, softly, so softly that Cosima almost doesn’t hear, and Cosima’s heart freezes, because this was hardly what she expected when she planned to ask Sarah what they were, and she fights the urge to pinch herself because surely this is a dream, “but you just make it easy, I guess.”
Cosima surges forward before she can stop herself, because Sarah has a talent for removing her inhibitions, and she’s shaking but she can’t bring herself to care because why would she care about anything other than the fact that Sarah loves her , and they’re kissing.
It’s so much different than their first kiss, which had been filled with desperation and longing and a need to reassure. There’s a softness to it despite the fact that Cosima isn’t being very soft, and Sarah melts into her, entirely pliable to her ministrations.
Cosima kisses Sarah and her tongue slides over Sarah’s own and kissing Sarah feels like home, and it’s perfect in its imperfections, in the way kisses are interrupted because Cosima is too busy smiling, or because Sarah giggles― giggles! and it’s music to Cosima’s ears―or one of them becomes too enthusiastic in their movements and they knock noses, or Sarah skews Cosima’s glasses.
“In case it wasn’t obvious,” Cosima gasps when she finally pulls away, the need for air inevitable, “I love you, too.” Sarah grins at her, and in a quick, fluid movement flips them over so that she’s the one straddling Cosima, and then they’re kissing again.
“I love you,” Sarah repeats as she kisses down Cosima’s neck, like a mantra, fingers skirting up Cosima’s shirt, tickling at sensitive skin, “I love you, I love you, I love you .” Her voice is thick with emotion that Cosima herself is flooded with, emotion that permeates the room and threatens to overwhelm them.
Sarah quickly removes Cosima’s shirt and whines when she meets the resistance of her bra, a petulant little noise that Cosima absolutely adores.
“Need some help?” Cosima teases, and Sarah’s eyes narrow, irises darkening.
“No teasing.” She pauses in her trail of kisses and unlatches the clasp of Cosima’s bra―burgundy, it really is Cosima’s color―at the same time Cosima slides a single hand underneath Sarah’s shirt and makes quick work of her own.
“One handed?” She’s impressed, Cosima can tell, and she takes a moment to be smug about it.
“What can I say? I’m a woman of many talents.” Before she can brag more, Sarah resumes her ministrations and Cosima loses the ability to speak coherently as a curious tongue finds purchase at her nipple, and she takes a moment to wonder if they’re all as sensitive as she is, but the thought of any other clones melts away when Sarah begins to suck, hooded eyes looking up at Cosima innocently from her position, and Cosima keens , back arching into the movement, eyes fluttering.
“That’s― Sarah .”
She looks entirely too pleased, to have reduced Cosima to an incoherent mess by just this, and her hand moves to ghost up Cosima’s side, trace patterns under the swell of her breast, tug lightly on the nipple not being lavished by her tongue.
Cosima hums contentedly as Sarah switches, and god did this night turn out better than she expected. She jogs her hips up into Sarah’s, searching for any sort of friction, but Sarah always pulls away, a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“ Sarah ,” Cosima whines, “I need―I need―”
“Yes?” Sarah asks, entirely too cheekily, and god Cosima loves her but she hates her in that moment.
“ More, ” Cosima’s practically begging at this point, and Sarah finally obliges, sinking lower, tugging experimentally at the hem of Cosima’s pants, a question in her eyes that Cosima readily consents to, and then in one fluid motion Cosima is bare before her.
Sarah stops and stares.
“You’re so beautiful,” she breathes, and a part of Cosima wants to snark narcissist , but she can hear the heaviness in Sarah’s voice, so she refrains, pulling her up instead.
“Hey,” Cosima whispers once they’re face to face, “no tears until after, remember?” She can feel the wetness gathering in her own eyes, though, and Sarah removes her glasses gently before setting them on her bedside table, wiping them away with her thumbs.
“I love you,” she tells her again, kissing her softly.
Sarah doesn’t look at Cosima like she’s going to disappear, or like she’s broken. Sarah looks at Cosima as if she holds the answers to every question in the universe, as if Cosima is the answer herself.
“I love you too,” Cosima echoes back, and then smiles, “you’re wearing too many clothes.” She is, it’s unfair. Cosima is naked and Sarah is still completely dressed, spare her bra, which Cosima had flung somewhere in her room.
“Well we’ll have to fix that, now, won’t we?”
Sarah lets Cosima help her out of her shirt, and then quickly steps out of her leggings before sinking down Cosima once more, situating herself between Cosima’s legs, and Cosima feels warmth pool throughout her body, energy coiling throughout her, thrumming, waiting to be released.
Sarah takes her sweet time, mapping unexplored skin, kissing softly at her thighs, at her hips, everywhere except where Cosima needs her to be.
“Who’s teasing who now?” Cosima whines, and then Sarah laps at her entrance, one broad stroke, and Cosima throws her head back and moans, low and throaty, and Sarah chuckles against her.
“In a moment, darling, I’m in the middle of something.” She repeats the action, tasting her, and Cosima breathes heavily. “God, Cos, you’re so wet.” Finally, finally , Sarah slides in two fingers with a practiced sort of ease, a familiarity. She knows Cosima’s body in the way she knows her own, knows exactly where to curl her fingers and oh is it glorious.
“ Fuck ,” Cosima moans, spreading her legs to allow Sarah a better angle, a deeper angle, mind a haze of pleasure, “ Sarah .”
Her movements are slow and lazy. Though she knows what she’s doing, she takes her time, studying the way Cosima reacts, the sounds her actions elicit, the way Cosima’s back bows and her mouth opens and her eyelashes flutter. Cosima appreciates her dedication to observation, as a scientist, but as a human with carnal desires, she wishes she’d hurry up .
“ Sarah ,” she pleads, “I need―” she doesn’t finish the statement, because Sarah knows, and complies, deciding that she’s teased Cosima enough. She picks up the speed of her fingers, thrusting in a practiced rhythm, and her mouth finally finds its purchase over Cosima’s clit, tongue dancing around it in tight circles as her fingers curl and Cosima gasps, hands grasping at Sarah’s hair, alternating between direct contact and gentle coaxing, until Sarah makes a seal with her mouth and sucks.
Sarah’s fingers keep their pace as Cosima’s muscles contract, her thighs shaking, and Sarah uses her free hand to pin Cosima’s hips down to the bed, and Cosima’s never been this dazed during post-orgasmic bliss before, chest heaving, and it’s wonderful.
Sarah crawls back up to her, looking entirely too smug, sucking on fingers she’d just used to completely unravel her, and god Cosima loves her.
“I love you,” Cosima breathes once she’s regained the ability to speak, because she has to say it, feels like she won’t ever be able to say it enough, and Sarah’s eyes dance.
“Shut up,” Cosima laughs, but she’s just so happy , despite the shitty situation that they’ve found themselves in, “give me too minutes and you won’t be so smug.”
They wake up tangled together and in love, and everything is okay.
Mika, fueled by the knowledge that Cosima is sick, pieces it all together.
“How can the Castor Original and the Leda Original be the same person?” Beth asks, and Cosima’s more excited than they’ve ever seen her.
“Kendall Malone,” she explains, “had a male twin in the womb that she absorbed, that’s what made her so unique, made her the only subject that Ethan Duncan was able to successfully clone. We’re the female half of her DNA, and the Castor boys are the male half…” she trails off. “So we might not even need the Original.”
The implication of her words hang in the air, and Sarah pieces it together.
“So you’re saying, if you fertilized a Leda egg with Castor sperm, it would recreate the original genome?” There’s hope shining in her eyes that is mirrored in Cosima’s own, lost on the others.
“Yeah,” Cosima breathes, “yeah, we could.”
“That’s impossible, though,” Alison points out, because Cosima and Sarah have kept the details of Sarah’s differences secret, “none of us are fertile.”
“I am,” Sarah says, simply, offering no elaboration, “and I’ll do it.”
They draft a plan, together, terms and conditions, and present it to Leekie, who seems wholly unsurprised that they’ve managed to piece it all together.
( “I knew you were going to stir up trouble the minute I brought you here,” he sighs, looking at Sarah, whose arm is wrapped tight around Cosima’s waist, equally protective and possessive, “something like this was bound to happen.” )
Susan Duncan raises from the dead in the same way as her husband, only she brings with her a gangly boy, muscles not defined like his brothers, but with their face, named Ira. She hardly spares Rachel a glance, and Cosima can’t help but feel bad for her.
She holds Sarah’s hand throughout the entire procedure, even when she has long lost consciousness, tracing golden spirals on her skin and reciting the steps of the surgery as a comfort to herself. Anatomy is unfair in the way that Sarah has to be poked and prodded and put under while all Ira has to do is spend a couple minutes alone in a room with his fantasies, but Sarah is doing this for her , and Cosima loves her so, so much.
As Sarah’s unique biology promised, the sperm sticks, and soon, they have a zygote.
And then, the long awaited cure.
Cosima’s spent so long being sick that she’s forgotten what it’s like to be healthy, but Sarah holds her hand when Susan Duncan stands over her with a really, really long needle, and remembers Jennifer, withering away in a bed with a treatment that was doomed for failure. Remembers how she had once been so filled with life and how Cosima had been forced to watch as that life had drained from her.
( “If anyone can find a cure, it’s you, Cos,” Jennifer had said, and the pressure of the words sunk on her lungs immediately, crushing her as if she was drowning. Before she can promise that it will get better, Jennifer shakes her head, and squeezes Cosima’s hand, tightly, a rare show of strength amidst her fragility. “Make us better.” )
“I did it,” she whispers, mostly to herself, after the needle is out of her body, and Sarah squeezes her hand reassuringly, “I did it.”
“Yeah,” Sarah laughs wetly, she’s been crying, pressing a soft kiss to Cosima’s forehead, “you cured us, monkey.”
Cosima swears she hears the whisper of Jennifer’s laughter on the wind, and she smiles.
“Together,” Sarah agrees.
Cosima hums contentedly as Sarah traces patterns on her forearm, following the inked trail of the golden spiral, finally getting it right. They’re curled up on the couch together, legs a tangled mess underneath fuzzy blankets that Alison had knitted for them as a housewarming present, and the fire burns brightly.
She’s warm and content and at home.
Outside, a storm wages, but Sarah’s gotten used to them as time has passed. At their feet, Buckminster the cat sleeps soundly, not one to be disturbed by something as petty as thunder.
In the light, the golden bands on their left hands twinkle, a constant reminder of their promise to one another.
(“I’m not leaving you anytime soon, Sarah Manning.” )
Sarah pauses in her movement as the thunder rumbles, a smile blooming across her face.
“What is it?” Cosima asks, voice thick with sleep, blearily opening her eyes. Wordlessly, Sarah lifts Cosima’s hand from where it’s been resting on her thigh and places it on her steadily growing stomach, swelling with life.
“Feel,” she instructs giddily, and Cosima does, waiting patiently for whatever it is her wife wants her to experience. Moments tick by and stormclouds roll overhead as thunder shakes the ground, and finally―
Cosima gasps, her own expression lighting up to match Sarah’s, because there, against her hand, is a sharp, fleeting little burst of pressure.
“She’s kicking!” Cosima exclaims.
“Rowdy little monkey, she is,” Sarah coos, and Cosima is wide awake now, moving so she can press soft little kisses to her wife’s stomach.
“She?” Cosima asks, and Sarah grins.
“Call it mother’s intuition.”
“Have any names in mind?” Cosima asks, eyeing Sarah with nothing but utter adoration shining in her eyes.
“Well we’re not taking Helena’s suggestion and calling her bloody Fiona,” Sarah shudders, “you’d think she’d’ve grown out of her Shrek obsession with time, but it’s just gotten worse. I don’t really have many ideas, though, just not that.”
Cosima thinks, for a moment, of Jennifer, and how she had been so full of life, then thinks to the life now swelling in her wife’s stomach, waiting to be welcomed into the world. She shrugs the thought off almost as soon as it comes, though, because Jennifer had been laid to rest years ago, and her unborn child will pave her own destiny.
“How about Kira?” Cosima suggests instead. “I’ve always liked that name.”
“Kira,” Sarah says experimentally, the name rolling off her tongue, “I like it.”
Regardless of what they name their child, whether or not they’re a girl or a boy, they have each other, and this baby will have quite the family to welcome them into the world.
Helena to fend off bullies and watch countless children’s movies, quoting them as though they have some sort of deeper meaning. Felix, for sticky fingers and stolen sweets and self expression and endless teasing stories about Sarah that Cosima delights in.
Beth, who has fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a detective, will chase off boys and girls and any potential suitors with a stern set of her jaw and a harsh glare that Sarah still hasn’t perfected, and Alison will knit jumpers and scarves and bake cookies that she won’t let Beth anywhere near because Beth burns everything she touches, and sing lullabies and make sure that Helena doesn’t feed them too much jell-o.
Mika will be there, too, with stories of countries far away, and people that they will never meet, a sad look in her eyes. She will teach them the importance of forgiveness, with a wayward glance at Helena, and of always looking beyond for answers.
And the others, of course. Tony, Krystal, little Charlotte, even Rachel, who has warmed to them as much as she's able.
Their breathing matches and Sarah drifts off, but Cosima remains awake.
( “It sounds nice.”
Once, Sarah hadn't been able to fathom the idea of family. But now, here, in Cosima’s arms in the home that they’ve made together, the life sprouting within her like a miracle, she has it.