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The Peculiarity of Kin
Fandom: Orphan Black
Written by luvtheheaven.
Read by Allysse and looneyngilo2.
Cosima & Alison – conversation #1
Setting: An unspecified time prior to the pilot – Alison’s house
In her pristine living room, Alison startled and then quickly shut off the vacuum cleaner, glancing up at the grandfather clock, which had begun to chime. It was exactly one o’clock in the afternoon. She still had at least five hours before Donnie would make it home from work. She still had over three hours until Oscar would hold his younger sister’s hand and walk her back home from the bus stop. Sometimes it would hit her all over again: Little Gemma was in kindergarten already! Alison sighed. She still had half an hour before Cosima was supposed to arrive, but she didn’t want to miss a knock on the door, so she put away the appliance and proceeded to pull out a dust rag, switching to a much quieter cleaning task.
As she wiped the already-clean table nervously, cleaning out of habit more than necessity, she found herself wishing that Beth didn’t have to work a shift today, because today was an important day – the day Cosima would travel up from Minnesota and bring their DNA test results. Beth had kindly granted her sister clones permission to look at said results prior to her arrival at the Hendrix home, but still, Alison would have preferred all three of them together for such an important event.
A few weeks prior, Beth, known to Alison only as “Officer Childs” at the time, had informed her over the phone that she was genetically identical to an unknown but shockingly large number of other women on the planet. She’d soon met Cosima and seen Beth in person. Instantly, it was obvious that if one tested their DNA, they would, indeed, be “genetic identical”. Regardless, it’d be nice to finally have actual proof that they were 100% identical and not “just sisters” or something. And Cosima hadn’t only collected samples of DNA from the three of them, either. The thing Alison was most impatient for was proof that she was not actually genetically related to her own parents.
Eventually the knock at the door came.
“You’re finally here!” Alison said as she answered the door.
Cosima squinted her eyes a little. “I’m pretty sure I’m five minutes early.” She glanced down at her watch to double check.
Alison ignored her and ushered her inside quickly, not wanting any of her neighbors to get too good of a look at her houseguest.
“So are you ready to open them?” Cosima asked. Still standing near the front door, Cosima pulled two envelopes out of her large purse, and handed one to Alison. Without even waiting a second, Alison ripped the paper, and so Cosima began to follow suit.
Cosima began to read aloud the results.
“The Results of your Genetic Genealogy Test are enclosed below.”
“Skip to the relevant part,” Alison requested.
Cosima continued, “Sofia Niehaus is excluded as the biological mother of Cosima Niehaus.”
Her eyes scanned down the page a bit, and then she spoke again. “Lionel Niehaus is excluded as the biological father of Cosima Niehaus.”
Alison looked at her own page closely. “Same thing for my parents,” Alison said. “So… that means there’s no chance we’re biologically related to our own parents, right?”
“Right,” Cosima confirmed.
Alison walked a few steps over to her living room, and Cosima followed, and they each sat down across from each other, Cosima taking the couch while Alison opted for the comfortable armchair.
“I’m not surprised,” Cosima said softly. “Are you?”
“Well… it’s just so real now.” Alison continued, “Everything I thought I knew, growing up… it was all a lie.”
“I’m sure your parents thought you were genetically theirs,” Cosima assured Alison. “I mean, I know you love your adopted kids fiercely,” Cosima said, “and if you had done IVF and given birth to them, I bet you wouldn’t have given a second thought to whether or not they were biologically yours.”
Alison looked at Cosima for a second, taking in her words. Then Alison said, “You have no idea what my kids look like, do you?”
“Well,” Cosima replied, “you’ve been really careful to make sure our paths never cross, so that they don’t see me, a woman who looks way too similar to their mother...” Cosima chuckled lightly.
Alison pulled a photograph out of her wallet. “Here’s a picture of Oscar and Gemma from last year,” Alison said.
“They’re really adorable,” Cosima said with a smile.
“And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but they’re not white.”
“Oh, yeah, of course,” Cosima replied. “And your husband isn’t-”
“-Donnie is not black either. So yeah, I think I would’ve wondered if I realized my kids looked so different than me.”
“Well, whoever set up this clone experiment probably was really careful to only implant us into white couples using IVF methods,” Cosima reasoned.
“Yeah, probably…” Alison said slowly, her mind already elsewhere. She was staring off into space, wondering if she would have had a closer relationship with her mother had she actually been, genetically, her mother’s child. Her mum had always been so cold, and it had always been a mystery to a young Ali why this woman, who had wanted to be a mum so badly that she’d ended up doing expensive in-vitro treatments, would act so harsh and unloving at times. The woman never even tried to really get to know Donnie, never supported Alison’s theatrical aspirations, and generally was always over-critical of every little thing Alison would do.
“Well, maybe someday you can tell Oscar and Gemma that you were not genetically related to your parents either. Maybe you can bond over that fact, even though you weren’t exactly adopted.”
Alison’s eyes went wide, the idea of her kids ever finding out about Clone Club terrifying her, but she allowed herself to toy with the idea for a moment. “Yeah, maybe someday.” She hadn’t even thought about it like that.
Mrs. S and Alison – conversation #2
Setting: The end of season 1, episode 8, “Entangled Bank” & the beginning of season 1, episode 9, “Unconscious Selection” – Mrs. S’s house, and the hospital waiting room
Alison could barely remember what happened, because she was so drunk. But she knew a series of events transpired that day. She slept with Chad. Then, Aynsley had attacked her in the street. After that, Felix and Sarah had shooed her away from Felix’s apartment in quite a hurry. Sarah’s foster mother ended up showing her to the guest bedroom in the house. The alcohol in Alison’s blood made falling asleep in a strange place remarkably easy, and the next thing Alison knew, she was waking up an hour or two later… still tired and probably still a bit drunk… and she was the only person left in the house. She checked every room, just to be sure.
“Why in the world would they leave me here all alone?” Alison muttered to herself, looking for wherever she’d left her blue jacket. Inside one of its pockets would be her cell phone.
Once she found the coat, she immediately dialed Sarah’s number. It took until the fifth ring for anyone to answer.
“Hello?” Siobhan said wearily.
“Hello?” Alison replied in question form, confused about where Sarah was and why her foster mum was answering rather than the owner of the phone.
“This is Siobhan Sadler,” she clarified. “Who am I speaking to?”
“Um… Alison,” she replied hesitantly. “I just woke up, and you all seemed to not be home-”
“Oh, of course,” Mrs. S interrupted, finally understanding. “Um… we’re down at the hospital. You can meet us down here. Kira… was hit by a car.”
“What?!” Alison exclaimed. “What happened?”
“We can explain more once you get here. Do you know the way? The hospital is in Bridgepoint Health.”
“I’ll just take a taxi,” she replied. She doubted she was sober enough to drive.
Alison spent a few hours in the waiting room with Sarah, Felix, and Mrs. S, feeling almost as concerned for Kira as those people who had known the little girl for her entire life. It was sometime in the midst of all of this waiting, when Felix was busy comforting a completely distraught Sarah, that Alison found herself seated next to Siobhan, out of earshot of the foster siblings. Alison looked at the older woman and followed her line of sight straight toward her children.
“They’re lucky to have you as a mum.” Alison commented softly. She could see how much Siobhan loved them.
“They’re lucky to have each other,” Mrs. S then said.
Alison couldn’t argue that.
After a few beats, she said, “I just hope I can be as great a mum to my adopted kids as you clearly were to yours.”
“You’ve adopted children?” Siobhan asked, surprised.
“Well… I’m infertile, so I kind of had to if I wanted kids.”
“Ah,” she replied. “Well, I became a foster mum for somewhat… different reasons.”
“Oh?” Alison asked, curious. But the older woman did not choose to elaborate.
After a few awkward moments of Alison’s unanswered question hanging in the air, Alison decided to change the subject, slightly.
“How did you talk to them about their birth parents? I haven’t yet had to have that conversation with my kids, and… well...” she trailed off uncertainly, hoping Siobhan would choose to answer this time.
Siobhan turned to look at her foster daughter’s clone sister and gave her a small smile. “That’s quite the question. I don’t think there are any easy answers. Felix was still a babe when I took ‘im in. Sarah… she’d been bounced around enough to already feel like she didn’t belong anywhere, like no one loved her, so I tried to avoid talking about her birth mum, and rather focused on how much I did love ‘er. Besides, I didn’t exactly know much about either Sarah’s or Felix’s birth mums.”
Alison nodded, knowing that her situation with Oscar and Gemma was not quite the same. She’d have to follow their leads on this one. If Oscar hadn’t asked yet, and he was already nine and well-aware he was adopted, then maybe he never would feel compelled to ask. Maybe to her own kids, it just wouldn’t matter. She found that idea fascinating to think about, because here she was, Alison Hendrix, a grown woman desperately curious to learn more about her own biological parents, despite not even having grown up as an adopted kid.
Siobhan then turned to Alison. “Infertile, eh? But you’re genetically identical to my Sarah?”
Alison nodded. “I know. It’s a bit of a mystery. Most of us do seem to be infertile, but Sarah was able to have Kira. We all have a lot of questions.”
Felix & Alison – conversation #3
Setting: During episode 4, season 2 “Governed as It Were By Chance”, when Felix first visits Alison in rehab.
It’s only going to be a week, Alison kept reminding herself as Felix walked her back to her room, having calmed her down over the whole situation. He opened the door for her, which she was grateful for, because now that her arm was in a sling, even the little things were starting to prove difficult for her. A week to get herself back to normal. To commit to being sober.
Felix sat down next to her, on the edge of the bed in the room. “Darling,” he said, “you’re going to be alright, you know that, right?”
“I guess,” she replied. “But God, I’m such an awful mother, aren’t I? Neither Oscar nor Gemma deserves a mum who would check herself into rehab and then doesn’t even remember doing such a thing the next day!” She felt so ashamed of herself and put her one free hand over her face.
“Stop that,” Felix said, gently pulling her arm back down. “You know what Mrs. S always told me? She always said it’s not your mistakes that define you. All that matters are the choices you make afterwards. I like to think she’s right.”
“Why do you do that?” Alison asked.
“Because I like to be optimistic, love.”
“No. Why do you call your mother ‘Mrs. S’?”
“Don’t you consider her your mother? You never even met your birth mum, right?”
“Well,” Felix began to explain, “I… I don’t know. I just… it just… well, I suppose… Sarah always called her Mrs. S, I guess.”
“So you followed your big sister’s lead?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s right. Sarah was eight before she was adopted and Mrs. S never seemed to mind.”
“I think it’s disrespectful, like you don’t appreciate all she’s done for you, like you don’t really consider her your mother.”
Felix looked affronted. “I respect that woman plenty. What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. I guess if I were her, I just would wish you’d call me ‘mum’”.
“Well I kind of like never forgetting that I was a poor little orphaned foster wretch.”
Alison scowled at him. “I thought you like to be optimistic.”
Felix chuckled. “Touché. But I don’t really think of it as a pessimistic thing. It’s more… holding onto my roots. It’s part of my life story. I like to think my life story is a… special one. Not every gay kid who get bullied gets to remember that they survived their parents abandoning them, and for me it was a nice reminder that I could survive the shitestorm that was public school too.”
“You were this… how do I say this delicately… flamboyant back in high school?”
“Love, I was a queen all the way back in primary school.”
Alison smiled in reply.
Alison overhearing Gemma & Kira – conversation #4
Setting: A few weeks after episode 10, season 2 “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” (the season 2 finale), written with only seasons 1 & 2 in mind. Alison’s backyard.
Not too long after Donnie became a member of ‘clone club’, he asked his wife when she thought their kids could be introduced to their aunts and cousin. When, not if. The nerve of that man! As if it was a given that Oscar and Gemma would just meet Alison’s look-alikes and it’d be no big deal.
But sure enough, a few weeks later, Alison found herself sitting on her back patio beside her sister Sarah as they watched Cal toss a football with Oscar on the other end of the yard. Meanwhile, Kira and Gemma were sitting together on the grass only a few feet away from their mothers. The girls were picking ‘flowers’, which Alison knew were just weeds, and collecting as many as they could, it seemed.
Alison glanced at Sarah, who seemed itching to get up from her wicker chair.
“I’m sure the boys wouldn’t mind playing three-way catch,” Alison noted.
“You’re right,” Sarah replied quickly, getting up and running over to them. “Who wants to play Monkey-In-The-Middle?” she yelled playfully.
Alison smiled as her son replied by nodding vigorously. She was glad he was bonding with his aunt and uncle. She took another sip from her glass of ice tea, and then overheard Gemma ask a loaded question that made her freeze. Alison almost forgot to swallow, now so transfixed on the conversation the two girls were having.
“So… you weren’t adopted, right?” Gemma had asked.
Kira looked up at her thoughtfully, pausing her search for more dandelions in the yard. “No. I know you were, though. My mummy said that’s why your skin looks a little… darker.”
“Yeah,” Gemma replied matter-of-factly. “So um, if you weren’t adopted, that means you’re more related to my mum than I am!” Gemma said it triumphantly, like she’d just figured out an important truth. “I mean… by blood,” she added.
Alison instantly felt… worried about the direction the conversation was taking, but she couldn’t intervene. She needed to hear what the girls said next.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Kira replied. “But… I have relatives who aren’t related to me by blood too,” Kira explained.
“Really?” Gemma asked, surprised.
“Yeah. My Uncle Felix, and… Mrs. S, she’s… she’s my grandmother,” Kira explained softly. “She was almost my adoptive mum, because my real mum was busy doing some stuff for a long time. She and Uncle Felix were my only family for a while.”
“Oh,” Gemma replied.
Kira continued, “I didn’t even know who my dad was most of my life. So… so yeah, I almost was adopted too, having no birth parents.”
Gemma nodded, trying to understand. “But now you have both of your real parents?”
“Yeah,” Kira replied. “But I still have Uncle Fee and Mrs. S… and I also have you! You’re my cousin now!” She said excitedly. “My family keeps growing,” she said softly, “and some of you are related by adoption, some by cloning, and some… well, you know,” Kira ended, glancing up toward her father. “We’re all family.”
“Yeah,” Gemma agreed. “I’m glad you’re my cousin now,” she said softly.
“It’s a crazy family we get to be a part of, isn’t it?” Kira asked with a laugh.
Gemma nodded. “I’m glad my parents adopted me into it. Even if they didn’t know it was a clone family at the time. I got lucky.”
Kira smiled. “You’re keeping the clones a secret though, right?”
“Of course,” Gemma replied seriously. “I think my mum would kill me if I let that slip out at school.”
Kira laughed. “I think my grandmother would be the one to kill me.”
Alison let out a sigh of relief – at yes, the clone thing being kept under wraps by even the youngest of the children – but more importantly, at the fact that Gemma and Kira both seemed so sure that being adopted didn’t make one any less family. She should never have worried that her kids would feel like they didn’t belong. They did, and they knew it so deep within their bones.
Gemma was busy counting how many different dandelions she’d managed to pick. Alison looked over at Sarah, who was now leaning down to teach Oscar how to correctly lace his fingers through the child-sized football, and Alison’s heart swelled with pride at her family coming together and bonding in a way she never would have dreamed possible a few months prior. Maybe being a clone wasn’t the end of the world. It had meant she couldn’t have biological children, but here she was so glad that Gemma and Oscar had come into her life, and she could not imagine life without them. It had meant having instant, genetically identical sisters in people like Sarah, which at first had scared her, but now… Alison was happy to have this instant way to add to the group of people who loved Gemma and Oscar.
“Mummy! Mummy!” Gemma said, running up to Alison holding all of her treasures. “I picked fourteen, and Kira only found ten. So I’m the winner!”
“Congratulations, sweetheart,” Alison replied with a smile.