Monitors. The first time Sarah says it, it falls hostile and threatening out of her lips. Alison says it quieter, her voice pitching upwards at the end of the word. It's a concept that never touched their individual worlds of crime and suburban life, but that's a completely different matter for Cosima solely because monitors are in experiments and experiments are science and science is every essence of her being. Whilst the clash of their origins and their personal lives hit Alison and Sarah (technically, Beth) hard, for Cosima, it is much simpler. Monitors belong in her world of Evolutionary Development, and the word rolls off her tongue as if it has always been a part of her life (however, she can't stop herself from wondering how it would sound said with a French accent.)
That's one of the few things that Cosima knows about Delphine. French. She's French. There's more things that could be added to the list. Blonde. Attractive. Possibly her monitor? They've only encountered each other once, and this interaction was brief, lasting fewer than a couple of minutes.
But to categorise and constrain the woman (the French woman, the blonde woman, Delphine) who cried in the corridor to herself and whispered in French on the phone whilst in the lab into only the few things Cosima knows about her.... well, it would be a fundamental oversight on her part.
Their meeting still replays in Cosima's mind later that evening, and she sighs as she closes her eyes and tries to fit the pieces together. Her grades. She's clearly smart. Immunology. Established life back in France (boyfriend, now ex), but recently transferred. Why? (Because she's your monitor.) Certainly, none of these could have been fabricated. They are Delphine, there is no mistaking. But where does Delphine end and monitor begin? (Similarly, Cosima routinely questions where she ends, and the experiment begins.)
Every time Cosima has tried to recall the precise details of Delphine's face, she fails. Instead, there is just a fuzzy image of some broad aspects, and dwelling on them has only lead Cosima back to one thing. French. Delphine's french accent. Enchantée. In the loneliness of her flat, Cosima repeats the word to herself, but she pronounces the vowels much too hard and her tongue is like a whale in her mouth. She tries to say monitor, something of normality, but she can't bring herself to say it. Nonetheless, that doesn't stop Cosima imagining again how it would sound from Delphine's lips.
Just stay away from them Cos, just stick to the science, yeah? Sarah's warning rings in her head as Cosima attempts (miserably) to focus on anything on from Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Uncertainty isn't something that Cosima is typically accustomed to. Despite this, she's hasn't found it possible to discern whether it was the hard tone of Sarah's warning, or the echo of enchantée in her memory that is causing Cosima's attention to be lured towards Delphine's reserved presence a couple of tables away in the library. (She's looked towards her seven times now – she's counted.)
It seems odd, because surely Delphine should be trying to interact with her? Judging from what Sarah had told her about Paul, that is what is to be expected. It puzzles her, and curiosity takes hold of Cosima eventually. She places her book face down on the desk and rises from her seat with an internal sigh of resignation. If she's my monitor.... she doesn't know where she's going with this train of thought, or where it will lead to. There's only one thing that she has complete confidence in, and it's that there's a high probability that Delphine is her monitor, she has to be. (Come on – she's been at Minnesota for less than 2 or 3 months, and suddenly a blonde French scientist pops up in the Biology department? Please, Cosima would like a bit more credit than that.)
Approaching Delphine is simple, almost. Cosima feels a smile pulling at the corner of her lips as she focuses her line of sight on Delphine. Enchantée, she repeats in her head, but with Delphine's delicate tones rather than her own failed attempts at imitating the correct way to say it. Conscious of the library's 'quiet study' rule, and not wanting to startle her, Cosima whispers once she reaches Delphine.
Delphine looks over her shoulder. Her smile is full and unabashed – quite contrary to the quiet bubble she had wrapped herself in alone at the end of the library.
'Hey, bonjour Cosima.'
'I'm bored.' Cosima whines, looking at Delphine expectantly. She doesn't disappoint, pulling out the chair next to her (initiation of contact) and pushing the notes she had been working on in the space between them.
'Well, you are more than welcome to join me. I'm really not doing much, but, oh, maybe you'll find it interesting.' The steady pace in Delphine's speech is surprising, and it's almost difficult for Cosima to believe that this very same woman with the quiet undertones of confidence was the aloof French transfer student who she had met in one of the corridors yesterday. Even in her eyes, there's an almost cheeky glint that is daring Cosima, alluring her in. Cosima takes a cursory glance at Delphine's work, before meeting her apprehensive gaze.
'Host-parasite relationships? Hm. Sounds cool. You're not going to mind if I join you? If I end up distracting you at all-'
'No, you will not be distracting me, really. In fact, I have nothing to do today, and I would probably quite enjoy your company. Please, Cosima, I would like it if you joined me.' There's a small hick of giddiness that Cosima feels at the enthusiasm that Delphine displays towards her, and she even feels it reflecting in herself. Spending the afternoon with Delphine had the prospects of being quite enjoyable, and Cosima gladly took the seat next to her. It was as simple as that, really. Just Cosima sitting next to Delphine and discussing their work. In the beginning, their conversations move slowly and contained only to what science Delphine's work held in them. Cosima finds herself more aware of Delphine's hands moving deftly over the pages in front of them than she actually says. It's not long, however, before they feel more comfortable with each other and their discussions start to flow at an easier rate.
When Cosima begins to notice the little distinctions of Delphine's character through her actions, she almost wishes that she didn't. There are times in their converse when science just becomes a background noise, pushed into the background by Delphine herself. The way that her hands make small, intricate movements contained to the area in front of her chest when she is trying to illustrate something was.... cute. Also, from time to time Delphine would have to mutter a word in French to herself when she couldn't think of the English equivalent (not that Cosima ever objected to the small slips into French), something that was almost always accompanied by a small frown. It didn't pass Cosima's attention, either, that Delphine was quite a touchy person. Delphine often reached out for Cosima's hand or her wrist, and there were times that she would even knit their fingers together. It was rare that Cosima would ever feel this settled with someone after such little time, but the more that she talked to Delphine, the more that she would sense herself quickly slipping into something that would be difficult to drag herself out of.
Cosima's invitation to come back to her apartment weaves into their conversation seamlessly. It comes after the librarian had come over, demanding that they be a little quieter when Delphine after had become a bit too enthusiastic about stem cells. (With the stern look on the short, old man's face, Cosima picked up on the unspoken request that they actually leave.)
'You know, if you still don't have any plans, we could just chill at my place? It's literally, like, a 5 minute walk from here.' The amount of times that Cosima had asked this to someone since she had arrived at Minnesota was few and far between, it was just something that never really happened. Of course, Cosima had a few friends, everyone has a few friends, but most of her time was spent in the lab, or at her flat where she would work there. But with Delphine, it feels as though it is a gesture that had been exchanged between them countless times before. Delphine grins and bites her lip, and the happiness spread across her face extends to the small twinkle in her eyes.
'Qui, qui, I would really love to. Yes.' Love to. She would love to.
'Great. Yeah, that's awesome. We can have wine.' Cosima says teasingly, and she doesn't think she has ever seen somebody's face light up this much at the mention of alcohol. Delphine gathers her things hastily, giggling as she struggles to fit them into her bag.
'Come on,' Delphine says as she whips her head up and her hair goes awry, 'we will leave quickly before that man comes and tells us off again... I have truly never been told off in a library before. It must be your influence, Cosima.' Cosima grins, and silences Delphine by grabbing her hand and leading her away from their table.
They leave the library hurriedly, before the librarian has a chance to scowl at them again, and into the cold, winter air. Delphine's cheeks and the tip of her nose slowly turn rosy, and she gently wraps her arm around Cosima's and tugs her along the snow covered path. The soft, orange glow of the early afternoon sunset catches the blonde in Delphine's hair and sets it alight. Cosima looks at her companion, and feels something flicker inside her (her stomach? Her heart?) as she balances on the edge of being intoxicated by Delphine's presence. Not once, throughout their entire time spent together, did either of their minds even consider the concept of monitors, something which, unbeknown to Cosima, was completely alien to Delphine's life.
When the topic of discussion eventually (perhaps inevitably) turns to their meeting the day before, Delphine is sitting cross legged in Cosima's leather armchair. (She didn't originally start in that position – when she first entered Cosima's apartment, Delphine was not willing to forget her manners, and she had sat there with her legs straight and her hands folded neatly in her lap. Certainly, she was soon prompted by Cosima to make herself feel at home, and she relaxed.)
'Cosima? I... I wanted to, would like to... apologise to you, for yesterday.' Her tone is hesitant and she stutters on her words, her french accent slightly heavier on Cosima's ears than usual. Delphine's eyes begin flit around the room as she suddenly has trouble keeping her attention on Cosima. Subconsciously, perhaps, she begins to trace her fingers along the edge of her wine glass. From her own armchair, which had been dragged closer to the one in which Delphine was sitting in following the first glasses of wine, Cosima leans forward and reaches her hand out towards Delphine. Her fingers come to rest lightly on the soft skin of the back of Delphine's hand, and she raises her head to look at Cosima. Oh... oh, Delphine. There's a fleeting look of vulnerability in her hazel eyes, the fragile look of somebody who may just be a little bit lost. It's gone as soon as it appeared, but it had still had enough weight to strike a pang of something in Cosima's chest. Delphine rolls her eyes and tuts, raising the hand which Cosima did have a hold of to her hairline where her blonde hair has gone astray. Cosima's hand falls gently onto the leather of the armchair, and her fingers instantly yearn for the touch of Delphine's skin.
'Oh, look at me getting worked up and confused over this... and so rilled yesterday as well. Crying in a corridor... It's so silly. I just...' Cosima is taken aback by this new development of shyness in Delphine, who earlier in the day had been so open and comfortable in her presence. The usual patience that she has displayed towards Cosima in their conversations has been replaced by impatience at herself, specifically at her own hesitation. Cosima waits until she is sure Delphine has trailed off before speaking again.
'Hey,' Cosima whispers, and can't help but smile once Delphine looks at her again (there's even a ghost of a smile on the curve of the other woman's lips.) 'You know, we've all been there before. It sucks. Bad break ups, lack of communication, maybe crying in slightly inappropriate places.' Delphine giggles at that and Cosima's cheeky tone, and her face instantly brightens. The look in her eyes softens, with a lack of vulnerability that had been replaced by honesty. She shakes her head in amusement, and the curls of her hair move as though they should defy any and all laws of gravity, and Cosima feels nothing but mesmerised. When Delphine clears her throat, Cosima is dragged out of her daze and feels a blush creeping up her neck (Delphine, however, didn't appear to notice.)
'No, I think... Cosima, I think more importantly, I would like to thank you. I have not been here for too long, but already I've found it difficult to... fit in, to have a place. I know, it does sound a little childish. But since yesterday, I've been thinking, well, if you did not come to talk to me, if you didn't notice me, we wouldn't have become friends – can I call us friends? - and it's nice, better than that, even, to make a friend in the brave new world.' Friends.
'Yeah,' Cosima catches Delphine's hand again, and this time Delphine reciprocates by knitting their fingers together. 'We're friends. Definitely.' It was only a partial lie – they did feel like friends, but the way that Cosima had been drawn to Delphine was an entirely different feeling to friendship. They continued their evening as friends, until Delphine had finished her third glass of wine and declared that she had to leave.
'I would have loved to have spent more time with you, Cosima.' she murmurs as she leans slightly against the door of the apartment. Cosima is standing opposite her, and notices the slight pinkness in her cheeks from the alcohol that they had shared.
'Hey, perhaps we could do something like this again? You know, maybe go out for dinner?' Cosima can't disguise the slight tone of hopefulness that creeps into her voice (she doesn't want to disguise it, she won't.)
'Oh, always so forward, so cheeky.' Delphine says teasingly, whilst unknowingly playing with her hair. 'If you really want to, would tomorrow be okay with you?'
'Tomorrow? Yeah, sure, I can do that. Hm... let's say... you meet me here at 6? I'll surprise you.'
'Good. I can hardly wait.' Delphine hesitates as though she is going to say something else, but instead bites her lip and leans down to kiss Cosima's cheek. Cosima closes her eyes and focuses on the Delphine's moist lips against her cheek, where she can feel Delphine's lips curling into a smile. When Delphine moves away, the backs of her fingers brush softly against the underside of Cosima's chin before she kisses her other cheek. She pulls away again, her fingers lingering for a second, and Cosima opens her eyes to see Delphine gazing back at her. Delphine clears her throat, and looks away bashfully.
'I really should be going now. Thank you for your hospitality, and I shall be here to pick you up tomorrow.' Delphine struggles to tear her sight away from Cosima, but reaches for the door to open it.
'Mmhm. I shall see you then.' Cosima gives Delphine a little wave with her hand.
'Yes, goodbye, Cosima. Enchantée.'
A double blind. That's how she justifies it to Sarah, but it still feels like a betrayal. Friends. Enchantée. Cosima isn't certain, however, whose side it feels a betrayal of. The seclusion that she had built for herself from Delphine's presence came tumbling down once Sarah had rung her. Paul. Donnie. Olivier. Monitors. Monitors. That damn word again. Sarah still spits it out with utter disgust, yet Cosima cannot say it as easily as before.
'Seriously, Cosima, you don't understand. This is dangerous, yeah? We can't let these people into our lives!' Sarah's voice comes harsher than usual through Cosima's laptop, and her death glare looks as though it has been etched into her face. Cosima doesn't take much notice – she tosses a glance towards the laptop screen, before leaning further back in her chair and taking another drag from her joint whilst closing her eyes.
'You're not even listening to me! Cosima, just, ugh, for Christ- oh, bloody hell!' There's a loud noise from Sarah's end of the call (she's probably kicked something), the scuffling of a chair across the floor (she's definitely kicked something), and Cosima rolls her eyes before throwing her head over her shoulder to see Sarah pacing with her arms crossed around Beth's apartment. Sarah raises both of her hands up to her forehead and takes a slow, but shaky breath. As she makes her way back to the computer, Cosima sees her push the chair that she kicked back into place with her foot, and hears her grumble something under her breath. When Sarah sighs, it's only then that Cosima notices the tiredness in the subtle lines in her face, and how her eyelids look like they're about to give in at any moment.
'This isn't a game, Cos, just look at what happened to Beth.' The twisting feeling of guilt that stirs in Cosima at Sarah's mention of Beth cannot possibly be ignored, and Sarah can't help but rub the back of her neck and downcast her eyes for a moment. A silence falls between the two. They all knew too well what happened to Beth (even Alison, especially Alison), but they had no way of being able to feel whether they themselves were teetering on the edge of the same fate. Perhaps she could be nearing her own edge, with Delphine being the factor that would push her off. Or maybe not. It was something that would always be uncertain, but Cosima was now sure that despite the fact that Delphine is her monitor (she has to be), it doesn't matter. Delphine is.... Delphine. Her friend (monitor, Sarah's voice in her head echoes). Enchantée.
'I'm going to engage with Delphine, I have to, Sarah.' Sarah's none too happy with that, shaking her head in disapproval and throwing one hand up into the air.
'Yeah, sure, whatever Cosima, you just do whatever you bloody well like.'