Street lights blurred by in orange, yellow, green and red as Cosima stared out the window of the car. It was late, or early depending on how you looked at it, and she was glad they’d stopped for coffee before heading out even if it had meant a grumpy Delphine arguing with her as they tried to find the entrance to the drive-through.
She turned her head, leaning it back on the seat to risk a look at her now. Her shoulders were stiff and Cosima could sense an aura of tension around her, but the sight of her still made her feel safe. It always had, even at times when she'd told herself it shouldn't. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but she found herself zoning out as they rode through the unfamiliar streets and the radio station played cheesy late night music. Her eyes moved over Delphine, watching the lights change on her face, and she smiled contently at how happy she was to have her in her life.
It wasn’t like she was dismissing her feelings, Delphine had every right to be upset right now, but Cosima figured that that didn’t mean she needed to be too.
“What?” Delphine asked tersely when she caught her staring. She glanced sideways, catching Cosima’s lazy smile and softened a little. “What are you looking at?” she asked, with some amusement.
“This is nice,” Cosima commented lethargically.
Delphine snorted. “Did you smoke something before we left?”
“No, really,” she insisted. “OK, yeah, sleeping would be nicer but how long has it been since we’ve gone for a drive?”
“I don’t like driving in the dark,” Delphine reminded her.
“Yeah, but other than that,” she went on, but the light had turned yellow just as they’d come up to it for the third time and Delphine huffed loudly as she was forced to step on the break. “I can drive,” she offered again.
Delphine turned to her, unimpressed.
Cosima shrugged. “I do have my licence. And I’m not high, I swear.”
“Cosima, I’m sorry but the only thing worse than driving in the dark is being in the car while you drive in the dark,” she told her honestly.
“OK, wow, is this how it’s gonna be when we’re married?” she joked, lifting her head. “Anything else you’d like to share before we tie the knot? Are you going to tell me how you get your hair to look like it’s magic or do I have to wait for level wife for that?”
To her satisfaction, she saw that Delphine was smirking at her over a barely surprised laugh. “Level wife?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, the final boss fight,” Cosima supplied.
“What?” Delphine chuckled. “Who are we fighting?”
“Um, the minister?” Cosima guessed. She hadn’t really thought that far ahead but the answer made Delphine laugh so it didn’t matter. “Do we… wait do we need a minister or…?”
Delphine’s phone buzzed and her expression hardened again in an instant. “The plane wasn’t supposed to land for another half hour,” she muttered as Cosima grabbed the phone.
“Hey, this was last minute. He can wait at the airport for thirty minutes,” Cosima reminded her, swiping her passcode to unlock the phone so she could read the text. “Oh, uh, it’s your mom.”
The text was in English, which was good because Cosima’s French still wasn’t the greatest even though she was trying to learn. Delphine’s mother usually texted them in English if she thought they were driving because most of the time, unless they were in San Francisco, it was Delphine at the wheel and she wanted to make sure it was Cosima who was reading it if that were the case. It wasn’t as if Delphine wasn’t a safe driver, she wouldn’t have read it anyway, but her mom was kind of overprotective with things like that.
“And?” Delphine prompted.
“Um, why does she think your brother is sleeping at our place?” Cosima asked.
“What?” Delphine, at least, was as put off by that as she was.
“Yeah, she’s asking if the couch is gonna be big enough for him and his girlfriend.” She made a face. “He has a girlfriend? When did that happen?”
Delphine swore under her breath. “I don’t know, Cosima,” she said, her brow creasing in frustration. “I haven’t spoken to him in over three years.”
“Right…” she remembered awkwardly. “But your mom would have told you if-”
“Yes, probably,” Delphine grumbled. “She must be new. Or he hasn’t told Maman.”
“Why wouldn’t he tell, uh, Maman?” Cosima asked, trying out the new word that Delphine’s mother had insisted she use now.
“Because my brother is an idiot,” Delphine told her flatly and Cosima couldn’t stop herself from snorting with laughter. “It’s true,” she insisted. “Do you know, he had three girlfriends in high school? None of them knew about each other of course, but they found out. And when I was twelve years old, Maman made him take me to the carnival and he left me with a family we didn’t even know.”
“He must have been in shit,” Cosima commented. “I let my little cousin go swimming without a life jacket once and my parents grounded me for a week. And it’s not like I wasn’t watching her, she just hated the stupid thing. But, you know, water safety. I’d never let Kira or Charlotte do that now,” she added. “Or Gemma and Oscar. Or the twins. You know, we have a lot more kids in our family than I thought.”
“She never found out about it,” Delphine said quietly and the heaviness of her expression made Cosima fall silent.
They turned onto the road that led out of the city and all of a sudden it was a lot darker. Delphine put on the high beams, staring blankly into the pitch black ahead without elaborating on her story.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Cosima asked eventually.
Delphine shook her head. “It was a long time ago,” she said and they didn’t talk for a while after that.
But it was a long road to sit in silence down, with nothing to see on either side except solid night and nothing to do but listen to the music.
Cosima found herself tapping on the door handle and singing along under her breath. ”’Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again… Oh, hey it goes with what we’re doing,” she realized.
“We’re not leaving,” Delphine said flatly beside her.
“OK, yeah, but it’s airplane themed,” she pointed out. “Well, jet plane… but we’re still going to an airport.”
“It’s a bit of a stretch don’t you think?” Delphine asked distantly.
She was so unhappy. It was making Cosima's heart hurt.
“So, kissss me and smile for me,” she sang on loudly, ignoring her criticism. She leaned towards Delphine who cast her a half smile that might have been more to placate her than anything else. “Tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me goooooooooooo,” she went on, holding the note over the next verse.
“Do you not know how this song goes?” Delphine asked, managing a real smile this time.
“I’m taking creative license, OK?” Cosima told her. Delphine puffed out a chuckle and she grinned. “What, can you do better?”
Delphine glanced at her. “Oh, no,” she said, but she was grinning right back and Cosima continued to stare at her expectantly until she started singing soflty. “…so many times I let you down- you gave me a terrible part,” she complained immediately.
“I’ll tell you now, they don’t mean a thing,” Cosima went on. “It gets better.”
“Every place I go, I think of you,” Delphine went on softly. “Every song I sing, I sing for you.”
“When I come back, I’ll wear your wedding ring,” they sang together and soon they were both singing loudly and laughing at each other for the rest of the song.
“Hey, I’ll make up the couch tonight, OK?” Cosima told her when it was over. She leaned back on her seat, mapping out her fiancée’s outline in the dark and glad that she’d been able to cheer her up. “You don’t have to do anything. You drive, I deal with the accommodations. Everybody gets home safely,” she added with a smirk.
Delphine chuckled softly, glancing at her again before reaching out to run the backs of her fingers down her cheek. “OK,” she agreed.
They’d been at the airport for over an hour, circling around, then sitting for a few minutes, then circling around again, and Delphine was once again in a terrible mood. Cosima was so bored she'd started flipping through the owner’s manual for their car because Delphine was terrible conversation at the moment. She was trying to be patient with her though.
“Do you want me to go inside?” she asked after Delphine had spent ten wordless minutes scowling out the window.
“He knows to come outside,” Delphine answered shortly.
“Maybe his plane crashed or something,” Cosima mumbled distractedly, sitting with her feet up on the dash and reading about the airbags under her ankles.
They’d made a deal that Delphine wouldn’t complain about it as long as she didn’t get toe prints all over the window. Which were a pain to clean off anyway.
“At least that would explain why he’s so late,” Delphine muttered.
“Maybe they’re making out in a bathroom,” she offered good-naturedly, wondering why she hadn’t known about the cup holders you could pull out in the back seat. She snuck a look at Delphine to see that she was less than impressed by that possibility. “Or maybe they got stuck at customs bringing in fancy cheese.”
“Or maybe the flight was delayed and he didn’t think to call anyone,” Delphine supplied sourly. She sighed. “I’m sorry for keeping you up with my family.”
“Well, I don’t know if mine are any easier to deal with,” she said with a shrug.
“Your family is wonderful,” Delphine assured her.
“Didn’t Sarah hate you for, like, a year,” Cosima reminded her.
“Yes, well, Rémi has never met you,” Delphine argued. “And he’s already causing trouble.”
“Alison and Donnie got arrested for pushing pills and they murdered Leekie and buried him in their garage like some sort of Desperate Housewives shit,” Cosima pointed out but Delphine wasn’t really listening. “I can handle your brother,” she insisted. “Are you sure you don’t want me to-“
“We’re staying in the car,” Delphine snapped.
“OK, OK, we’ll stay in the car. Jeez.” Cosima raised her hands defensively. “But, uh, Delphine?”
She was rubbing her forehead as if she had a headache. “Hmm?”
“I really have to pee…”
Delphine tilted her head, leaning it on her hand as she squinted at her. “Seriously?”
“It’s been like three hours,” she complained.
“Then go,” she told her. “But you wont find him, you don’t know what he looks like.”
“I promise you, Delphine, this isn’t a clever attempt at a family reunion,” Cosima answered. “I just drank 20 ounces of coffee that they could probably use as jet fuel… and… OK, I gotta go.”
She reached for the handle but Delphine placed a hand on her shoulder, leaning forward to kiss her when she turned around. She still really had to pee, and she was kind of in a hurry, but it was a nice surprise none-the-less.
“Thank you,” she told her sincerely.
Cosima gave her a sideways smile. “Sure.”
“I’ll circle around again,” Delphine told her as she opened the door.
“OK,” she agreed.
Cosima came back twenty minutes later with two McDonald's bags.
“Bada, ba ba ba- I have some bad news,” she said as she took her seat.
“The flight was delayed,” Delphine guessed flatly.
“It’ll be another hour,” she told her and Delphine swore under her breath. Already the time read 4:47. “McMuffin?” she offered, holding the second bag out to her. “I know you like it with sausage. And-“ she reached into her bag, pulling out a little box and smiling as she gave it a shake. “Junior Mints. From the vending machine. Obviously. McDonald's doesn't carry them.”
“I’m not sure what I’d do without you,” Delphine answered gratefully, taking the bag as Cosima ripped open the box.
“Yeah, you’d be totally lost without me,” she said, popping one into her mouth. “That’s why you made sure you put a ring on it.”
“What?” Delphine laughed. Already the food had put her in a better mood.
“The song, you know, All the Single Ladies.” She rose her hands up and down, one still holding onto the box of Junior Mints. “All the single ladies, all the single ladies.” Delphine blinked at her. “If you liked it then you should’a put a ring on it,” she mouthed. “I’m going with our music theme,” she defended.
“How are you so patient?” Delphine asked incredulously.
“That is not what you said when we were waiting for the pizza last week,” Cosima answered, pulling out her hash brown. “Coh-see-mah, the pizza will get here when it gets here,” she mimicked before taking a bite.
“You’re singing and I want to kill him,” Delphine pointed out.
Cosima shrugged, still chewing on her hash brown. “I don’t know,” she said after she’d swallowed it. “He’s not my brother so I guess he doesn’t get under my skin. I am mad at him though,” she added before taking another bite.
“You are?” Delphine sounded relieved.
She nodded, buying herself time to chew. “Oh, yeah. Because he’s making you so mad. And not, like, when Sarah makes a big deal out of me borrowing her shirt-“
“Her sixty-dollar shirt,” Delphine reminded her. “Which you took without asking.”
“I gave it back, didn’t I?” she defended. “Anyway, this isn’t about me right now.” She put her hash brown down, turning serious. “I know how much he hurt you when he stopped calling,” she told her. “And he’s still doing it now, making you come get him and then not showing up. I don’t know why he’s like this… and, you know what, I don’t really care… I just hate how he makes you so miserable.”
Delphine stared down at her hands, nodding slowly. “Me too. But Maman made me come, not him. I still haven’t spoken to him.”
“That’s kind of worse,” Cosima said.
“It is,” Delphine agreed unhappily.
Cosima put a hand over hers, rubbing her thumb gently over her wrist. “We can go, if you want to.”
“My mother would never let me hear the end of it,” Delphine scoffed. “No. We came all this way and he’s not going to need a bed after all anyway. I can handle an hour in the car with him. Besides,” she added, smiling slightly and bringing Cosima’s hand up to kiss it. “He should meet you, at least.”
“You sure he can handle that?” Cosima asked with a grin.
“Try to be nice,” Delphine requested.
“Are you going to be nice?” Cosima asked, returning to her meal as Delphine tucked into hers.
“I’ll try,” she said. “Maman wanted us to spend time together so I’m going to try. For her.”
“Cosima.” Cosima groaned, opening her eyes to find Delphine gently shaking her shoulder. “They’re here.”
She sat up, quickly checking to make sure she hadn’t drooled on herself. “Like, right now?”
Delphine pointed behind her and she turned around to look out the window and saw a man and a woman standing with their baggage a few feet away.
“The guy with the beard?” she asked and Delphine nodded. “He doesn’t look like you.”
“Not all of us are clones,” Delphine teased.
“And that’s his girlfriend?” Cosima guessed, turning her attention to the pretty brunette woman beside him. “Do you think she'll be as charming as he is?”
“At he only has one,” Delphine commented wearily. “I hope.”
“Didn’t we talk about being nice?” Cosima teased.
“He can’t hear me yet,” she objected.
“So… are you going to tell him we’re here?” she asked as he continued to look around. “Before he flags a taxi or something.”
“Good point,” Delphine agreed, opening her door and stepping out of the car.
Cosima followed behind her, already feeling protective and noting how different this was from meeting the rest of Delphine’s family. Her mother had practically been ready to adopt her and her grandmother acted as if she already had, but she didn’t think Rémi was going to be so warm. And neither of them had made her want to take Delphine back in the car and drive away as much she did now.
Delphine's brother's name comes from a previous story, but he's not really the same guy as in that one. Although her family structure is still the same and her grandmother is still the same in this story. Also it's the name of the rat in Ratatouille and I love rats.
The Junior Mints are because those are my brother's favourite candy (candy? chocolate?) so I like adding them in as an Easter Egg every now and then. I've done it before haha. Mine are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mmm.
Rémi was a tall man with light brown hair and a short beard. He had the kind of face that made him look like he could still be a freshman in college, even though Cosima knew he was six years older than Delphine. She really couldn’t spot the resemblance between them. Their eyes were the same colour, she supposed, but where Delphine’s were focused and expressional, his were guarded and wandering.
“Bonjour, Rémi,” Delphine greeted, waving and smiling politely when her brother noticed her.
“Delphine,” he replied, mirroring her politeness. Cosima expected them to hug, or at least shake hands, but he only gave her a half-hearted wave before gesturing to his girlfriend. “This is Maggie,” he said.
Maggie at least took Delphine’s hand, giving it a firm shake.
“Enchantée,” Delphine said in that soft, genuine way that still made Cosima’s heart melt.
“Oh, look, she’s just like you,” Maggie said, grinning at Rémi. She was English but not like Sarah. Not Rachel either though, maybe something in between. “How charming. And who’s your friend then?”
Delphine’s face lit up at the mention of Cosima. “This,” she said, proudly placing a hand on each of her shoulders, “is Cosima. My fiancée.”
“Oh, you mean the two of you are actually doing it?” Rémi asked, surprised and Delphine’s face fell.
‘You mean our wedding!?’ Cosima thought. ‘Yeah, we're still doing that.’
She stared at him incredulously, biting down on her tongue to restrain herself from breaking her promise to Delphine.
Once again, it was Maggie who extended a hand. “Nice to meet you… what was it again?”
“Cosima,” she said warmly, shaking her hand and thinking that at least she was OK until she turned back to Rémi.
“You didn’t tell me your sister was a lesbian,” she told him like he’d been keeping a secret. “Does your mum know?”
“Actually I’m-“ Delphine began but Maggie cut her off.
“Oh, don’t worry, dear,” she assured her with a wave of her hand. “It’s not my place to judge. As long as we’re not sleeping in the same room.” She giggled, looking to Rémi who only seemed to be half paying attention and he let out a forced laugh, still looking lost.
Cosima looked at Delphine, almost in pain trying to hold back a snide remark. When Delphine smiled apologetically at her, Cosima took her hand, staring pointedly at Rémi and Maggie as she gave it a squeeze.
“Did you get my invitation?” Delphine asked uncertainly.
“Invitation?” Rémi looked confused.
‘You've gotta be kidding me,’ Cosima thought.
“To the wedding of course, dear,” Maggie chuckled, hitting him lightly on the arm.
“Ah, yes,” Rémi answered. “Um, I’ll have to see if I’m free. Can I get back to you?”
“That is what the RSVP is for,” Cosima said, plastering on a smile and hoping she sounded sincere instead of sarcastic. “Répondez s'il vous plaît." Like, sometime before our honeymoon.
“Oh, look at that,” Maggie cooed and Cosima felt like she was about to start pinching her cheeks. “Isn’t it lovely that your partner is learning French? You don’t see that in many Americans.”
“Fiancée,” Delphine corrected but neither of them were listening.
“We should get the car out of the way,” Rémi said, taking the handle of his suitcase. “Do you want this in the boot?”
“Of course,” Delphine answered courteously.
She stroked the back of Cosima’s hand gently with her thumb, sending a silent message of thanks that she’d kept her comments to herself, then went to go help her brother. Rémi took Maggie’s suitcase too and she and Cosima were left standing awkwardly beside each other.
“So, um, you’re from England?” she asked.
“Yes, from London. Where are you from?” Maggie answered brightly.
“Berkeley,” Cosima told her. “We should probably get in the car,” she added, not wanting to be alone too long with her. She could only hold her tongue for so long.
“Yes, of course,” Maggie agreed.
Maggie crawled into the back beside Rémi and Cosima took her seat in the front. Neither Delphine nor Rémi had spoken as they’d loaded the car and now Delphine sat staring down at the steering wheel, looking like she wished she were somewhere else.
Cosima placed a hand gently on her arm, raising her eyebrows to ask if she was OK and Delphine gave her a tight smile before putting the keys in the ignition.
‘Here we go,’ Cosima thought.
Dawn was breaking, cold and blue, as they drove back from the airport.
“How is work, Rémi?” Delphine asked and though her voice was light her shoulders were even more rigid than they’d been on the way there.
Rémi was more relaxed, but he still didn’t look like he wanted to be there. He leaned against the window, looking outside with a half frown like a teenager who’d been forced into a family road trip. “Oh, uh, good,” he mumbled.
“And you’re here for a conference?” she asked.
“Yes,” Rémi answered, staring out the window. He didn’t elaborate.
“So, how long have you guys been together?” Cosima asked conversationally, turning her seat to face Maggie and Rémi and hoping she'd have better luck than Delphine if she engaged both of them.
“Four months,” Maggie told her brightly. “Actually, Rémi and I met at a conference in Paris. We both work in programming, and I was smitten right away. I think he took a little bit longer,” she joked.
“Maman never mentioned it,” Delphine commented casually, glancing at Rémi in the rear-view mirror.
“Oh, of course I just met her last week,” Maggie told them. “She’s a lovely woman, Cosima. I’m sure you’ll like her,” she added.
Rémi let her talk, only half paying attention and looking bored with his head leaning on his hand.
“Um, I have met her,” Cosima answered awkwardly.
“Really?” Maggie seemed surprised.
“We’ve been together for two years,” she said, pointing between herself and Delphine. Maggie blinked at her in surprise. “She’s staying at my sister’s house for the wedding…”
“That’s so lovely that she’s coming,” she chirped. “It must be nice to have such a supportive mother.”
‘She’s her mother,’ Cosima thought, annoyed. ‘Obviously, she’s coming.’
She glanced at Delphine, who had her lips pressed together in a thin line, and rose an eyebrow, begging for just one snide remark, but Delphine gave her head a small shake. Cosima let her agitation show on her face but she cooperated anyway and kept her mouth shut.
“I love your butterfly ornament,” Maggie said, pointing at the folded golden angel that hung from their mirror. “Where did you get it?”
“Our niece made it for us,” Cosima answered, glad for the change of subject. “And, um, I’m pretty sure it’s an angel.”
“Oh, no dear, that’s a butterfly,” Maggie said knowingly.
“Uh, no, Kira said it was an angel,” Cosima insisted. “To keep us safe, because we’re so far away from the rest of my family.”
Maggie tilted her head sympathetically. “I’m sure your niece did her best. We can’t all be artists.”
“She’s ten years old,” Cosima told her, prickling, but managing to keep her voice even. “And, you know what? I think it’s pretty good. She coloured it herself.”
“Well, angels only have two wings,” Maggie informed her.
“Actually, according to some versions of he Book of Ezekiel, cherubs are angels with four wings and four faces,” Cosima told her. “But I think she just meant it as a guardian angel.”
“Oh,” she answered, either not understanding or not interested. Rémi, who was still staring out the window, was definitely the later. “Well I’m sure she’s a great kid no matter what her religion is. But we’re going to raise ours Christian, right Rémi?” she said, touching his arm.
“OK, sure, that’s great, I guess. But I still think it’s a good angel,” Cosima muttered under her breath but no one heard her except Delphine who nodded in agreement.
“I didn’t know you wanted children, Rémi,” Delphine commented, surprised.
“Uh, sure why not?” Rémi answered, as if he were agreeing to a pizza topping. He smiled at Maggie who beamed back.
“Well, since you two can’t have any, someone needs to give your mother grandkids,” Maggie laughed.
Cosima laughed dryly along with her, a bitter taste rising up her throat. “Yeah, Delphine will just have to settle for doing every else,” she replied straight-faced.
Delphine’s mouth twitched into a small smirk, but Cosima’s delivery of the comment had sent it over Maggie and Rémi’s heads. Which was probably for the best because Cosima knew that if Maggie started passive aggressively going after Delphine’s relationship with her mother the way she’d gone after Kira’s angel, she was probably going to lose it on her.
“You know, I can have children, Maggie,” Delphine added politely, as if having to explain reproductive technology to an educated adult wasn’t embarrassing. “Cosima and I did talk about it, of course, and we both agreed that-“
Rémi’s phone rang in his pocket and he grabbed for it instantly. “Sorry, I have to get this,” he mumbled. “Hey!” he answered, grinning widely for the first time since Cosima had met him. “Yeah we just landed. No, I have to spend time with my sister,” he lamented. “Yes, I can’t get out of it, but I would if I could.” He laughed jovially at something they said. “OK, well maybe after the presentation…”
Maggie was leaning towards him, trying to hear what was being said on the other end, but Cosima had her eyes on Delphine whose face had crumpled at what he’d said. She looked like she was holding back tears and seeing her hurt like that made Cosima hurt too.
“Babe…” she whispered, running a hand down her arm.
Delphine swallowed. “It’s fine,” she whispered back thickly.
‘No, it’s not,’ Cosima thought angrily.
Rémi didn’t care about her. He didn’t care about their wedding, he hadn’t even asked about her job. He didn’t care about getting to know Cosima and he didn’t care about what she’d been about to say just now. He was here, but none of this seemed to matter to him.
Delphine was right, her brother was an idiot.
They were almost back in town and the sun had risen a comfortable distance from the horizon, colouring the sky in pretty hues of pink and orange. Unfortunately, the colours were lost on everyone except Maggie who’d been chirping away about it for ten minutes, since Rémi had ended his phone call. At least she’d stopped talking about other people.
“Is that McDonalds?” she asked suddenly, pausing her monologue to sniff the air.
“Yeah, we had some breakfast while we were waiting,” Cosima said tiredly.
“Oh,” Maggie answered, nodding her head. “I see.” She sounded put off.
“Are you two hungry?” Delphine offered, picking up on Maggie’s tone. “We can stop somewhere if you’d like.”
“Are you hungry, sweetie?” Maggie asked in a cutsie voice, leaning on Rémi and giving his stomach a pat.
“We have some Junior Mints left,” Cosima added, shaking the box. She twisted around in her seat to offer the candy to them but Maggie made a face and shook her head and after she nudged Rémi, he waved his hand in a no. “Delphine?” she offered.
Delphine put out her hand and she rolled two into it.
“I would eat, I guess.” Rémi said.
“Did you want to go for breakfast?” Maggie suggested.
“Delphine and I already ate,” Cosima pointed out.
“I see that,” she said, eying the empty bags judgementally. “You could have waited.”
“Your flight was two hours late,” Cosima reminded her, doing her best to be patient.
“Well, that wasn’t our fault, was it?” Maggie answered.
“No, but there’s a new invention called a cellphone that I see you've heard of,” Cosima shot back, nodding her head at Rémi who was currently texting someone.
Delphine sighed resignedly at the turn in conversation but she looked just about as tired of Maggie’s complaints as Cosima was and when Cosima cast her a guilty look she only shrugged, as if it couldn’t be helped.
“You don’t need to sound like that,” Maggie huffed. “And just because you’re OK with doing anything to your body doesn’t mean the rest of us are,” she added, rubbing the spot on her own arm where Cosima’s tattoo was showing. “We would like to have a real breakfast.”
“Excuse me?” Cosima asked incredulously. She narrowed her eyes at her, shaking her head in disbelief. It wasn't even the worst thing she'd said but it was one comment too many and Cosima was ready to snap. “We just met, like, an hour ago. Why are you being such a bitch?”
“Hey, you need to stop being so rude,” Rémi scolded, finally giving her his full attention, and Cosima scoffed. “Apologize,” he demanded but she huffed at him and sat back in her seat and crossing her arms. “Delphine,” he complained, turning to his sister. “Tell her-“
“Tais-toi, Rémi,” she snapped. “I’m not telling her to do anything, she’s been putting up with the two of you for longer than you’ve been here.”
“But she’s-“ he objected.
“She’s what?” Delphine demanded. “Have you even been paying attention to what’s been said? Maggie insults our niece, then she insults my fiancée, and which one do you ask to apologize?”
“Um…” Rémi gestured uncomfortably towards Cosima. “That one. Her.”
Delphine shot him a look in the rear-view mirror. “Do you remember her name, Rémi?” she asked flatly.
“… Cristina?” he guessed.
Cosima snorted. “Cristina?” she mouthed, glancing at Delphine who stared forward with daggers in her eyes. She twisted around to look at Rémi. “Wow. Dude, that’s not even close.”
“Dude?” Rémi repeated, frowning at her. “How old are you?”
Delphine switched lanes, turning into Home Depot.
“I don’t think we can eat here,” Maggie told her.
“Delphine, what are you doing?” Rémi asked uncertainly, but she ignored him and Cosima really didn’t want to say anything else at this point.
She parked the car, turning it off before cradling her forehead in one hand, closing her eyes. “Why are we doing this?” she muttered.
“I don’t know,” Rémi answered. “Ask Maman.”
“Then go,” she muttered in defeat. She lifted her head, turning towards him. “If you don’t want to be here, then just go.”
Cosima touched Delphine’s arm, watching her with concern and wishing she’d just kept her mouth shut. Telling Maggie off wasn't worth how upset Delphine looked now.
“You’re going to leave us at Home Depot?” he asked disbelievingly. “Because I took a phone call? Or because your girlfriend is being rude?”
“Cosima, my fiancée, is not the problem,” she shot back. Her hands were bunched into loose fists and she waved them aggravatedly each time she stressed a word.
“So, because I took a phone call then?” he scoffed.
“Because you never call,” Delphine objected, raising her hands in frustration. “Do you know, we haven’t spoken to each other in over three years?”
“I’ve been busy…” he objected.
“For three years?” Delphine demanded angrily. “And what about when we were kids, were you busy then too?”
“You know what? I wasn’t the one who shipped you off to that school,” Rémi shot back. “That was Maman. If you want to blame someone for why you’re screwed up-“
Delphine winced and Cosima felt her blood boiling. “Hey!” she snapped. “Back off!”
“Mind your own business,” Rémi retorted. “This is between family.”
“She is family,” Delphine said firmly, placing a protective hand on her arm. “She’s going to be your sister in law in a few months, whether you care or not.”
“Wonderful, so are you going to tell her how you had a breakdown while you were away at school?” Rémi snarled. “Did you know that?” he asked Cosima harshly. "And how Maman still thinks it was my fault even though she was the one who sent her there?"
She crossed her arms and scowled at him, refusing to dignify him with a response even though, of course, she had known about it. The way he said it infuriated her though, as if he were trying to warn her that there was something wrong with Delphine for being sad and alone. As if she'd done something wrong by being in so much pain.
Delphine had taken her hands back onto her lap, shrinking into herself at what he’d said. “Rémi…” she warned quietly. “Stop.”
“And how Grand-maman blamed me and Maman for it,” he added resentfully, ignoring her.
She shook her head furiously. “She did not-“
“’Mon pauvre ange,’” Rémi imitated, and Delphine twisted around to glare at him, rigid with anger. “’Pourquoi as-tu laisser mon ange tout seul?’” He huffed, leaning back with thump against the seat. “Nothing was ever your fault. You were always her favourite.”
“Is that why you won’t talk to me?” Delphine demanded in disbelief.
“I won’t talk to you, because you aren’t my problem,” he spat, sitting up irritably. “Why does everyone still act like you’re my responsibility? I had things I wanted to do here, you know, but Maman still thinks I need to babysit you. Grow up, Delphine. I didn’t come visit you then because I didn’t want to take care of some whiney little kid and I still don’t now.”
“I never asked you-“ Delphine began, her voice sharp, but he interrupted her in French and suddenly they weren’t arguing in English anymore and they were yelling at each other so fast that Cosima could only understand snippets of what they were saying.
They were talking about her mother for a while, she was pretty sure Delphine was defending her and her grandmother, then there was something about a carnival and when Rémi said something about Papa, Delphine’s eyes flared dangerously.
“Get out,” Delphine snarled. Rémi only glared at her. “Get out!” she shouted. “Both of you,” she added harshly, turning to Maggie and waving her hands as if to flick her away. “I’ve had enough of the way you talk about us and our family.”
“Fine,” Rémi shot back, opening the door.
“Really?” Maggie asked, looking very uncomfortable, but Delphine glared at her with eyes that could cut steel and she rushed to follow him out.
The door slammed behind them and Delphine didn’t look to see where they went. Instead she stared down at the steering wheel, breathing hard and blinking back tears. As her anger simmered out, her strength dissipated with it and she deflated, her face crumpling as what had just happened finally hit her.
Cosima placed a hand on her arm and her breath hitched, tears spilling over silently. Without looking up, she put her own hand on top of Cosima’s, gripping it tightly and they sat like that without speaking as Rémi took their suitcases out of the trunk and slammed that too. While they waited for him to go, Delphine did her best to keep her breathing even, gently stroking Cosima’s hand with her thumb as tears continued to roll down her cheeks.
“What do you want to do?” Cosima asked quietly when they were alone.
“I want to go home,” Delphine whispered weakly. Her lip trembled and Cosima reached over the gear stick to pull her into an awkward hug, letting her bury her face her shoulder so she could hide it as she cried. “I’m sorry,” she squeaked.
Cosima's stroked her hair, her heart aching for her. “No, don’t be. I should have kept my mouth shut.”
“No.” Delphine pulled back, taking her face between her hands. “You don’t have to let anyone talk to you like that.” She shook her head fiercely, protective of Cosima even now when she was so hurt. “I will never ask you to do that.”
“Neither do you,” Cosima answered, still seething at what her brother had said to her. She tilted her head, kissing Delphine’s palm before gently removing her hands from her face and pulling back to unclip her seatbelt. “I’ll drive, OK?”
Delphine wiped her eyes, nodding shakily. “OK,” she agreed.
“OK,” Cosima whispered, reaching out to carefully help her wipe the tears off her cheeks.
They switched sides, ignoring Maggie asking them indignantly if they were really going to leave them there, and Rémi already on the phone calling a taxi. He didn’t look at either of them.
“You two have a lot of nerve,” she called hotly as Cosima slammed the door.
“You two have a lot of nerve,” Cosima imitated mockingly, adjusting the seat. “We should have told her Home Depot is a restaurant,” she muttered as she moved the mirror. “Maybe she’d still be inside trying to find a table.”
Delphine let out a weak chuckle, but her smile was fleeting. “I don’t think that would have worked,” she said quietly as Cosima started backing out. “Maman isn’t going to be happy with me,” she added, shoulders sinking at the thought.
“Was it worth it?” Cosima asked as they started driving away.
“Kicking them out of the car?” Delphine asked. Her eyes were still red but she’d stopped crying. “Yes. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“What did he say to you?” Cosima asked and Delphine dropped her gaze, looking like she was going to cry again. “Do you want to talk about it?” she added gently.
She shook her head, letting out a long sigh before shifting in her seat to stare out the window. When she spoke, her voice was dull and tired. “I just want to go home.”
Delphine’s mother called the second they got home to their little apartment and she groaned when she saw the number.
“Go ahead,” she told Cosima, tilting her head towards their bedroom. “I won’t make you stay up any longer.”
“You sure?” Cosima asked, concerned.
But Delphine nodded, placing a hand on her cheek. “Get some sleep, my love,” she instructed before answering her phone. “Bonjour, Maman…”
Still, Cosima hesitated but when their cat, Oden, walked out of their room, whining loudly for his breakfast, Delphine waved her towards the kitchen and she went to go feed him so he’d leave Delphine alone while she was on the phone.
As he scarfed down his food, Cosima left him to tiptoe into the bedroom where she peeled off her clothes and crawled into bed. She lay under the covers, still in just her underwear because she was too exhausted to look for pyjamas, but she couldn’t sleep without Delphine there. Not when she could hear the distress in her voice from the next room where she was explaining everything to her mother.
She was getting better at French but she was still only hearing half the conversation. She could tell her mom was pissed but that Delphine still didn’t regret what she’d done. It really just seemed like they were talking in circles and the whole thing lasted about ten minutes, ending with Delphine saying non, to something over and over again until at last she told her mother she was tired and she had to go.
When she finally made it in to bed, she didn’t even bother undressing, she just lay herself on top of the covers, face first into the pillow, muffling a groan of frustration.
Cosima rolled over, squirming closer to run her hand gently over her back, smoothing the fabric of her shirt over the tense muscles underneath it. When Delphine didn’t respond, she shifted to kiss her shoulder, worried that she was crying again.
“You’re just gonna sleep like that?” she teased lightly.
Delphine groaned again, turning her head towards her. “Are you sure you want to marry into this family,” she joked flatly.
She wasn’t crying but she still sounded miserable. This whole situation was making Cosima’s stomach hurt and she hated that she didn’t know what to do. She was helpless. It was like watching the tide come in to pull down a sand castle, you could dig all the moats you wanted but it was still going to be underwater soon. She couldn’t stop Rémi from being an ass and she couldn’t change the fact that he was Delphine’s brother.
“Are you sure you want to marry into mine?” she asked jokingly. “We’re pretty weird you know.”
“Are you talking about your parents who live in the middle of the ocean, or you 274 sisters?” Delphine asked flatly. “Because either way I still think I have the better deal.”
“Wow, that bad?” she asked jokingly.
Not even a smile. Cosima propped herself up on her elbow, reaching out her hand to gently comb her fingers through Delphine’s hair. Delphine watched her dully, a tear rolling over her nose, and suddenly Cosima was angry with Rémi all over again. She didn’t think she could ever call him family, not if this was how he treated Delphine.
But of course, they’d only been joking. Delphine’s family could have been an angry mob of trolls and she’d still want to marry her. In her mind, Delphine was already her wife. The wedding was just to let everyone know and to celebrate but what they were to each other was truer and stronger than any ceremony or piece of paper. She was her soulmate and she wanted her, whoever or whatever baggage she came with. And she’d be there to dig her out whenever it came crashing down on top of her.
“You can’t have the better deal,” she whispered, gently wiping the tear off her face. “Because I got you.”
Delphine's eyes softened, her mouth twitching up in a smile and Cosima shifted to give her a gentle sideways kiss. When she started to move away Delphine held onto her head, pressing her forehead against hers. For a moment, they stayed that way, breathing quietly and she found that she was able to be still when she was all wrapped up in what was between them. Delphine’s thumb gently stroked her hair above her ear, communicating to Cosima things there were no words for and that she felt all the way down to her bones.
“Maman wants me to apologize,” she mumbled eventually. “But she’s going to talk to him too.”
“Maybe I should apologize…” Cosima whispered reluctantly.
But Delphine pulled back, some of the fire rekindling in her expression. “No,” she answered immediately, “I’m not making you do that, you had every right to speak up for yourself. Besides, if you hadn’t said something, I would have.”
Of course she’d say that. She’d made a promise a long time ago to protect her, to let her speak her mind and be herself, and she had been dedicated to that promise even after Neolution fell. Delphine could put up with a lot but she’d never let anyone hurt Cosima or treat her badly. That was probably why the first crack in her polite façade had been when Rémi started going after her.
And then the final straw had been something about her father. Cosima had never met him, he’d died long before she’d met Delphine, but she knew that he’d been a good, kind man and a wonderful father. She knew how much Delphine had loved him, and how much she still missed him even now. Only a few weeks ago she’d come home to find her in tears over the wedding invitations because it had only just hit her that she wasn’t sending him one.
“So, what did he say back there that got you so mad?” Cosima asked, reaching out to play with her hair.
Delphine let out a long breath, lowering her gaze, and when she spoke her voice was so small Cosima had to strain to hear it. “He said Maman didn’t want us anymore after Papa died.”
Cosima winced. “God, Delphine. I’m sorry,” she murmured.
Delphine closed her eyes and Cosima moved her hand down to her neck, stroking the back of her jaw with her thumb. Delphine cared so much about the people she loved. Her heart was like a sponge that pulled them all into it, soaking in every word and feeling for Cosima, for her father, her mother, her grandmother, and even Rémi, and it meant that any of them could poison it if they weren’t careful. The same thing that made her so fierce also made her incredibly vulnerable.
“It’s not true,” Delphine said quietly after a moment. “She loves us, it was just… difficult for her take care of us after. And it wasn’t easy for her to take care of us and Papa at the same time. But, you know, I thought it was true when I was a teenager. Especially when she told me she was sending me to boarding school. And Rémi… he was six years older than me, going off to university, and he wanted nothing to do with me. He’d already spent so much of his high school years looking after me, because Maman made him.” She sighed helplessly. “Maybe he does have a reason to be angry.”
“You were just a kid,” Cosima objected gently, still stoking her jaw. “You needed someone.”
“Rémi was a kid too,” she pointed out unhappily. “And I could be such a brat. I always thought I knew better, even when sometimes I didn’t. That’s why he left me at the carnival, because I used up all his money trying to win some stupid bear even after he told me I couldn’t. I never asked for permission for anything, I just did whatever I wanted to because I thought I was right and Rémi always ended up with the consequences. I was no angel.”
“None of us were angels and it’s not your fault he had to take care of you,” Cosima insisted. “He shouldn’t resent you for that. And you know what? I’m an adult and I’d still probably waste all your money trying to win a bear.”
Delphine smiled gratefully, reaching out her hand to stroke Cosima’s face. “I’d win it for you, mon amour,” she told her.
Cosima’s chest stirred and she brought up her hand, mirroring Delphine. “Yeah, you would,” she said softly.
Another smile crept onto Delphine’s lips and she smiled back, running her hand down her face until Delphine frowned suddenly, her eyes drifting up to Cosima’s bare shoulder.
“Why aren’t you wearing a shirt?” she asked, sitting up in surprise.
“Why are you wearing one?” she countered.
“Cosima, if you treat the bedding like underwear, we’ll have to wash it like it’s underwear,” she scolded.
“Oh my god, I’m wearing underwear,” she objected. “Seriously?” she giggled when Delphine lifted the covers to look. “What about when we have sex?”
“That’s different,” Delphine mumbled.
“How is it different?” she asked, laughing.
“Don’t laugh at me. I thought we agreed that we’d have top sheets if you were going to sleep naked,” she went on, ignoring the question.
“I’m not naked,” Cosima protested. “And I don’t like them, they’re too light. I get all tangled up in them and it feels like I grew a membrane.”
“Hmm.” Delphine shook her head but after a moment she smiled down at her. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Right now?” Cosima grinned up at her, rolling onto her back and spreading her arms out invitingly. “I’m naked and open to anything.”
Delphine snorted. “What about sleeping?”
She let out a wide yawn. “Yeah, I like that plan.”
“OK,” Delphine agreed, already unbuttoning her shirt.
She undressed, leaving on only her underwear and slipped under the covers in beside her.
“You’re not changing?” Cosima asked, lifting her arm to let Delphine snuggle against her. Her skin was warm and soft and Cosima held her close, not caring that she smelled like the car.
“Too tired,” she mumbled. “Mmm.” She wrapped an arm around her, pressing her bare skin against hers. “You feel so good,” she whispered.
She felt good too, without anything between them. Cosima loved the shape of her back and the strength of her arms and how warm the two of them were pressed up against each other. It calmed her but it turned her on a little too. That could wait though. They had all day and she could tell that Delphine needed sleep more than sex right now.
“See?” she teased, nudging her nose with her own. “It’s better without pyjamas.”
Delphine chuckled at her. “I’m sorry I made you take time off your thesis for this.”
“We still have the rest of the day to ourselves,” Cosima pointed out. “We can do whatever we want when we wake up.”
“Will you still be naked and open to anything?” she teased, sliding a hand down to her hip.
Cosima giggled sleepily, glad she was thinking the same thing she’d been. “Hmm. yeah, I’ll probably still be available.”
“OK.” She kissed Cosima’s cheek before rolling onto her back, letting out a wide yawn. “Don’t wake me up until twelve.”
“Twelve?” Cosima mumbled. “I’m sleeping ‘till one at least.”
“Mhmm,” she agreed lazily and soon they were both asleep.
Their cat is named after a Chihuahua puppy I met once who was really cute and sweet. They didn't name him though, they got him from the shelter.
Cosima lay sprawled out on the couch, wearing nothing but a shirt and a pair of underwear as she reread her old copy of The Lost World, her legs resting on Delphine’s lap.
It was nearly four by the time they had actually gotten out of bed. Delphine had woken her up at a quarter to two with a kiss that she’d sleepily let herself be caught up in. She hadn’t even opened her eyes yet when Delphine’s slow kisses had strayed down onto her jaw, onto her neck, but she’d already been hungry for more and they’d navigated each other clumsily, both still cloudy from sleep.
She was still drowsy now, the hot shower she’d taken had only added to her pleasant post-sex sluggishness and sleeping during the day had always left her feeling lazy. Between all that and their nearly-finished bottle of wine, Cosima wasn’t planning on doing much of anything for the rest of the evening.
Delphine was looking at something on her phone, absently switching between typing with both thumbs, rubbing Cosima’s ankle and petting their cat Oden who had squished himself unglamorously, face first against her other leg.
Oden was about ten pounds overweight, ridiculously fluffy and missing one eye and about half of one ear. He was so old the shelter had given him to them at a discount and he could get kind of grumpy sometimes, but they adored him. Delphine pretty much let him get away with anything as long as he didn’t claw her clothes and Cosima didn’t really believe in negative reinforcement, but it wasn’t like he did much other than sleep and cry for food anyway.
She poked him with her foot, giggling in amusement when he let out a surprised mrrrew but pulling her foot back when he nipped at her toe.
“Please don’t encourage him to bite,” Delphine said absently.
“I’m not,” Cosima complained. He wouldn’t hurt her, he was just telling her to knock it off. “He’s just grouchy because I woke him up.”
“Then don’t wake him up,” she replied, still looking at her phone.
“But he’s so cute when he makes that sound,” she told her. “What are you doing?” she added when Delphine only grunted in acknowledgment.
She flipped herself around, laying on her stomach and reaching over Delphine to give Oden a scratch under his collar, which he appreciated a lot more than her feet. As he purred and squished his face back under Delphine’s leg, Cosima twisted over onto her back so she could reach up and play with her hair. It was so soft and she loved running the curls over her fingers. Especially when she wanted to get her attention.
To her satisfaction, it worked and Delphine smiled down at her, pausing in what she was doing long enough to take Cosima’s hand and give it a kiss.
“I just wanted to look into something,” she told her.
“Something like ordering takeout?” Cosima prompted unsubtly.
“Are you hungry?” Delphine asked, setting her phone aside for a moment. “We could go out.”
“I don’t really want to leave the living room,” Cosima answered.
“Well, actually, I was thinking…” Delphine trailed off, looking preoccupied. “…you know, the conference Rémi is going to is hosted by a company which used to belong to DYAD. They’re recruiting right now, it seems the conference is a chance to meet prospective employees in his field…
“OK,” Cosima said slowly, seeing where this was going but not really wanting to help steer Delphine in that direction. “So, that’s why you’ve been so distracted.”
“I’m just wondering if it’s safe,” Delphine went on. “Human cloning may be off the table, but we know that Neolution hasn’t been eradicated completely.”
Cosima frowned, remembering their unpleasant encounter in New England with a die-hard Neo. He’d been stalking a Leda named Hannah Bryk and Delphine had almost gotten herself killed going after him without telling Cosima. She’d ended up saving Hannah, and she’d been fine, but she’d also scared the shit out of Cosima and they’d had very long, very loud conversation afterwards in which they’d renegotiated their agreement about Delphine keeping things from her. Their new policy was full disclosure.
This didn't feel like that at all though. This felt like Delphine with hurt feelings mixing with alcohol and her natural overprotectiveness and Cosima really didn't want to see her get hurt for the second that day.
“Well, that isn’t out of the ordinary, is it? DYAD owned a lot of companies,” she pointed out. “And all of them were either bought out by someone else or became independent, unless they went bankrupt. They’re not tied to Neolution anymore.”
“On the surface,” Delphine said conspiratorially. “But we have no idea what’s going on higher up. Or who may still be working for them. And I’ve also been looking into Maggie.”
“Find anything else we need to be paranoid about?” Cosima asked sarcastically.
“Yes,” Delphine answered. Cosima sighed but she ignored it. “She used to work for the headhunting company which DYAD used to locate potential monitors. Which they then either hired or blackmailed into working for them.”
“I thought she said she worked in coding?” Cosima asked.
“She helped design some of the software they used to screen for potential matches,” Delphine explained.
“All that from your phone, huh?” Cosima muttered. “That doesn’t really sound too incriminating though. It’s not like she was actually involved in the hiring itself. And we were all compartmentalized at DYAD remember? Even most of the scientists didn’t have a clue what was really going on.”
“Maybe she is now,” Delphine said.
Cosima frowned up at her. “And you think she’s after your brother for, what? To convert him into a Neo.”
“To get to you,” Delphine suggested darkly.
“Yeah, because he seemed really interested in me,” Cosima scoffed.
“No, but Maggie certainly was,” Delphine pointed out.
“I think that was just her twisted version of being polite,” she objected. “There are more direct routes to me than through your brother.”
“Maybe…” Delphine said, but she didn’t sound convinced and Cosima was pretty sure she was letting her emotions win out over logic right now.
“What are you going to do?” she asked. “Crash the conference to tell him that his girlfriend might be trying to get him to work for a bunch of eugenicists?”
“No, but I could go and keep an eye on him,” Delphine answered.
“You mean spy on him,” Cosima said.
“Well, ideally, yes he wouldn’t know I was there,” she admitted.
Cosima let out a long sigh of defeat. “OK. This seems like the kind of bad decision I need pants for.”
“You don’t have to come,” Delphine told her as she got up.
Oden raised his head, watching Cosima move around the table, and meowed loudly, deciding that since she’d gotten up it was time for her to feed him.
“Uh, yeah, I’m coming,” Cosima insisted, pausing on the other side of the table. “We have two options.” She raised one finger. “One, this is just you being paranoid and you’re going to get yourself hurt and I want to be there.” She flicked off another finger. “And, two, there really are Neos crawling around and you’re going to get yourself into trouble and I definitely want to be there.”
“I’ll be fine,” Delphine insisted.
Yeah, right. Nothing about this is going to be good for you. But she didn't think Delphine was going to listen to her right now. If she couldn't stop her from going, and she couldn't stop Rémi from being awful to her, the next best thing was to be there for her.
“OK, option three then,” Cosima decided, raising three fingers in the air. “I promised to love you, and cherish you, and be partner in crime to your paranoia fueled decisions until death do us part.”
“What about dinner?” Delphine pressed. “Weren’t you hungry?”
Oden meowed pointedly at the word dinner, getting to his feet and stretching his long legs.
“We’ll pick something up on the way,” Cosima said with a shrug. “What time do we need to be there?”
“Rémi's talk is at seven,” Delphine told her.
Oden jumped off the couch, meowing loudly on his way to the kitchen, and Cosima meowed back at him mockingly. “OK,” she agreed. “I’ll feed Oden and get some pants on.”
“I’d rather you stay here,” Delphine said.
“That wasn’t the deal we made six months ago, remember?” Cosima reminded her. Oden cried pitifully, returning to rub himself against her legs and she mimicked him mockingly again before scooping him up. “You have the place to yourself tonight, buddy,” she told him, giving his ear a kiss, and he mewed hopefully at the attention. “After I feed you,” she giggled when he nipped lightly at her nose. “Jeez, buddy. Just give me a sec, OK? It’ll be fine,” she added at Delphine’s expression. “It’s probably just going to be a bunch of computer nerds and then we’ll go home.”
“You really believe this is all in my head, don’t you?” Delphine asked.
“I think you’re tired and a little bit drunk and we’re going to have to call a taxi,” Cosima answered honestly. “And maybe it’s simpler to think Neolution is targeting your family than to deal with all the bullshit your brother put you through today. But if you want to go check out his presentation, I’ll come with you.”
Delphine’s shoulders fell and she buried her face in her hands, groaning in frustration. After a few seconds, Cosima realized she’d started crying and she put Oden down so she could go sit beside her.
“Hey,” she soothed, rubbing her back when she didn’t look up. “Hey, it’s OK. I’m kind of drunk too.”
She sniffed, turning to burry her face into Cosima’s chest, and Cosima let her cry messily into her shirt as she stroked her hair, riding it out with her.
When Delphine spoke again, her voice was thick and wobbly. “He’s wrong about Maman.”
“Your mother adores you,” Cosima agreed firmly. “Your brother’s an idiot, like you said.”
“I can’t ap-ppologize,” Delphine sniveled. “I won’t. He shouldn’t have let her speak to you like that. He shouldn’t have said those things about Maman…”
“I know,” Cosima soothed. “And he shouldn’t have talked to you like that either,” she added. “It was out of line.”
“It was also true,” Delphine in a small voice.
“No,” Cosima objected. “No, not… not how he said it.” But that only made Delphine cry again.
“I made it so much harder for all of them,” she squeaked. “That’s why he hates me.”
She let out a sob that made Cosima’s heart hurt and she kissed her head, her arms encircling her protectively. “He doesn’t hate you,” she said softly. “Or… if he does, it’s not your fault. You know that, right?”
Delphine was quiet for a while, sniffling every now and then as Cosima held her and rubbed slow, wide circles over her back. She put her cheek on her hair, closing her eyes and wishing she knew what to say that would make this better.
“I don’t think we should go out tonight,” Delphine said at last.
“We can go if you want to,” Cosima told her gently.
“No,” Delphine replied, sitting up. “You were right. I was being stupid.”
“Uh, I never said stupid,” Cosima objected. “I said paranoid. And drunk.”
“That’s the same thing,” Delphine argued. “I want to stay home. Even if someone is trying to get to you through me, it’s safer to keep both of us away from them. Rémi can deal with his own problems, that’s what he wants me to do,” she added bitterly.
But her anger quickly gave way to despair once again. Her lip wobbled and she choked out a loud sob before hiding her face in Cosima’s shirt.
“OK,” Cosima agreed gently. “We’ll do that. We’ll do whatever you want, OK?”
Delphine squeaked unintelligibly, muffled by Cosima’s shirt. “I’m s-sorry,” she mumbled. “I can’t… th-th-hink… I'm so angry. I hate this.”
“Shh,” she soothed and when she ran her fingers gently through her hair, Delphine calmed slightly. “You don’t have to do anything, I’ve got you. Take your time.”
Soon her breathing started to even out and, just when it was quiet again, Cosima's stomach grumbled loudly and she responded with a watery chuckle. She shifted her head so that half of her face peeked out from behind Cosima’s shoulder, her hand coming up clumsily to clutch her shirt.
“Mon pauvre petit chiot,” she teased. “No. I wont make you wait. I want to order you some take out.” Oden whined at them again and she glanced at him. “And I want someone to feed him.”
Cosima kissed her head again. “OK.”
“And I want another bottle of wine.”
The Lost World Cosima is reading is the sequel to Jurassic Park. Kind of a nod to one of my earlier fics but also she just probably does like Michael Crichton. He seems like he thinks like she does lol.
Both Cosima and Delphine were a little hung over the next morning and they were grateful that it was Saturday. It meant Delphine didn’t need to go in to work and she could stay home with Cosima who’d spent most of her time applying for jobs since handing in her thesis a week ago.
Not this morning though. Her head was still aching and after last night’s crying fest she felt like Delphine probably needed a some affection.
They were sitting together on the couch again, Cosima leaning against Delphine who’d used her arms to wrap their big wool blanket around both of them like a bat as they watched a documentary on Animal Planet. She’d been quiet and a little needier than usual, but she hadn’t said anything about what had happened on Friday and she wasn’t in a bad mood anymore despite the headache Cosima knew she had.
“We totally have to go to Florida to see these monkeys,” Cosima said, watching with amusement as the tiny creature warned off the camera crew’s boat.
“You want to go?” Delphine asked sincerely, rubbing her arm under the blanket.
Cosima hesitated. “Well, I don’t know. I’m also kind of getting sick of airplanes,” she admitted. “And layovers. And going through security. And crappy food.”
“It wasn’t crappy food when we landed though,” Delphine reminded her wistfully. “Mmm. I could kill for some of that coconut rice.”
“You know, every time you say that I think of Camilla,” Cosima told her with a grin.
“Are you jealous, my love?” Delphine teased, squeezing her tighter, and Cosima could hear the smile in her voice.
“Pfft. No,” she answered smugly. “I know you like ice cream better.”
Delphine laughed. “You’re the only one for me,” she told her, kissing her cheek.
“Hmm, I’d better be,” Cosima said playfully.
She twisted her head around, reaching up for a kiss and Delphine happily complied. One arm tightened around her, the other coming up to hold her cheek and suddenly Cosima wasn’t as interested in the program anymore.
A knock at the door made Delphine draw away and she grumbled slightly as she turned towards it, keeping her own head tilted up towards Delphine.
“I should get it,” Delphine said.
“No,” Cosima whined, grudgingly turning away as Delphine started to untangle herself from her.
“It could be the neighbours,” Delphine insisted. “Or maybe even the building supervisor.”
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” Cosima complained. “Maybe if we just make out quietly they’ll go away.”
But Delphine was already getting up, leaving the blanket for Cosima who once again wasn’t wearing any pants. She whined and grabbed at her arm but when Delphine continued on her way she relented and let the fabric of her shirt slip through her fingers.
“I’m sure it wont take too long,” Delphine assured her.
“I hope it’s important,” Cosima muttered, leaning back against the arm of the couch to watch Delphine answer the door.
The entrance led directly into their living room, so she wouldn’t have to move to see what was happening, and when Delphine opened the door, the atmosphere in the room quickly shifted to uneasy tension.
“What are you doing here?” Delphine asked coldly and Cosima stood up, wrapping the blanket around her waist like a skirt.
Rémi began to answer in French but she Delphine cut him off with a shake of her head before nodding towards Cosima.
“J'espère que tu plaisantes,” Rémi said, sounding annoyed, but Delphine raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed. “I…I thought we should talk,” he said uncomfortably.
Delphine leaned away from him, crossing her arms. “Why?”
“Maman called me,” he explained.
“So, she made you come?” Delphine accused. “You don’t have to listen to her, you know. I’m not your responsibility. And I don’t need you anymore.”
“C’mon Delphine, that’s not fair,” he objected. “You needed Maman, not me.”
“What do you want?” she demanded. “Would you like me to call her? Give you a good report? Because I’m not doing that.”
Cosima stood behind her, ready to back her up if she needed it but she seemed to be doing a good job by herself. She wasn’t letting Rémi mess with her, anyway.
“No…” he told her shaking his head. “Well, yes, but-“ Delphine wrinkled her nose in disgust and started to close the door but he blocked it with one hand. “Wait, please, she was so upset. She thinks we hate each other,” he said in a rush. “I couldn’t make her stop crying.”
Delphine sighed, letting him push the door back open. “We shouldn’t have done this.”
“Maybe we could just… pretend,” he suggested.
She laughed bitterly, shaking her head. “You are such a child.”
“You’re the one ignoring Maman’s wishes,” he accused.
“Do you really think she wants us to lie to her?” Delphine shot back, crossing her arms.
“You think you’re so superior,” Rémi scoffed. “But you know what? I remember how much of a brat you were. You caused Maman so much trouble.”
“We both did, Rémi, we were children,” Delphine objected angrily. “But now? We should both know better. And, you know, at least I tried yesterday.”
“Oh C’mon, you ditched us at a hardware store,” Rémi growled. “At least you tried.” He scoffed. “Tu est plein de merde.”
Delphine’s eyes flared and suddenly they were yelling at each other in French, hands flying through the air as they accused each other of god knew what, until Cosima spoke up.
“Woah, stop,” she interjected. “Guys, you’re just going in circles.”
“Why don’t you go put on some pants?” Rémi snapped. “Instead of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.”
“Why are you in my home harassing my fiancée?” Cosima shot back.
“Delphine-“ he complained.
“I don’t really want you here either,” Delphine interrupted coldly. “And Cosima lives here, Rémi, not you. She’ll do whatever she wants.”
Cosima had to stop herself from sticking out her tongue. Now wasn’t the time to get him riled up again.
“Is this really any of her business?” he asked irritably.
Delphine glared at him. “I love her. And she loves me, whether you care or not.”
Rémi sighed. “I just don’t see how she’s contributing. Look I’m not… like Maggie,” he told her defensively. “I know she’s going to be your wife and I respect your relationship.”
“You caught that, huh?” Cosima said dryly.
“Why are you with someone like that?” Delphine asked, shrugging her shoulders in confusion. “Do you even like her?”
“Not everyone is as lucky as you,” he said.
“It wasn’t luck,” Delphine told him, refusing to feel sorry for him. “We worked very hard to get where we are now. That’s what any real relationship takes, it takes work. And people know when it’s a lie, just like Maman will know if we try to pretend.”
“I can’t be responsible for her being this miserable,” Rémi pressed. His shoulders fell and he looked away, shaking his head slightly. “I can’t… I can’t do this to her again.”
Delphine dropped her gaze and Cosima knew that no matter how angry she was with Rémi , she too hated how upset it was making their mother.
“Then try,” she suggested reluctantly. “Come to our wedding. If Cosima still wants you there.”
She turned to Cosima, who shrugged. “Yeah, sure, but you don’t get a plus one.”
“I broke up with Maggie,” he told her.
“Awesome,” Cosima replied sincerely. She crossed her arms. “Still no. We’ll give Charlotte two instead. Or Annie.”
No one had a plus one, it was close friends and family only, but he clearly hadn’t read the invitation. Not that that surprised her. Still, maybe she’d tell Charlotte to invite two of her friends to mess with him. Delphine might be willing to forgive him but the memory of holding her while she cried over the things he’d said was still fresh in Cosima’s mind and he’d have to work a lot harder than this for her to trust him with her.
“You broke up with her? Just like that?” Delphine asked skeptically.
Rémi looked uncomfortable. “She, uh,… she said some things about you after you left that… were inappropriate. And I couldn’t listen to her talk about you that way.” He shrugged. “You’re still my little sister.”
For a moment, Delphine seemed caught off guard by that, but she quickly composed herself. “I think coming to the wedding is a good start,” she told him. “It will look good for Maman, which I’m sure is what you want, and it will mean we don’t need to speak to each other very much.”
“Should I… um… do I need to prepare a speech?”
Delphine scoffed. “What could you possibly say?”
“You really do hate me, don’t you?” he asked.
“I thought the feeling was mutual,” Delphine retorted coldly.
“Can I make a suggestion that doesn’t involve bringing all this baggage to our wedding?” Cosima piped up.
“Of course, mon amour,” Delphine said softly, reaching out to trace her fingers down her face. “If you don’t want this, we wont do it.”
Cosima shook her head. “No, it’s not that… it’s just. This doesn’t really sound like a solution. What if instead, you guys give yourselves until the wedding to, uh, build a relationship or try to get along or whatever you need to do,” she suggested. “You can email, or even call. We can try to get together while Rémi is in town and if you feel like you want him to be there and,” she turned to Remi, “If you actually feel like you want to be there, then you can come.”
Delphine and Rémi exchanged a glance, unconvinced and she wondered if they were thinking that the couldn’t build a relationship. Neither of them looked like they wanted this and, in truth, she didn’t want it either. She wanted to tell Rémi to get the hell out of their home, but she also knew this should be Delphine’s decision.
“If you can’t do that, what’s the point of any of this anyway?” Cosima asked.
“Haven’t you been listening?” Rémi asked condescendingly.
“Yeah, actually, I have been,” Cosima told him, taking a step towards him and lifting her chin defiantly. “Especially to how miserable you’ve been making Delphine. I know you still think this is none of my business but…” She rubbed Delphine’s arm with the back of her hand, smiling at her, and her voice softened. “She’s the love of my life.” Delphine smiled back and Cosima turned back to Rémi. “I can’t watch her suffer and not hurt too. And, if you’re going to keep hurting her then I don’t see what the point of any of this is. But if you actually want to fix things…” She shrugged. “I dunno, just fix them.”
Rémi was looking at Cosima as if seeing her for the first time. They stared at each other and she thought his eyes may have softened a little before he looked away.
“I don’t know how,” he admitted. “I never did,” he added heavily. “Especially not after Papa… I didn’t know what to do, Delphine. You were just a kid and I didn’t know how bad you were getting until it was too late. And then I didn’t know how to help you. What could I have done? You already hated me by then anyway, it was too late.”
“You couldn’t have helped me,” Delphine told him honestly. “It was more complicated than that, Rémi. I didn’t want you to take care of me, Grand-maman took care of me. I just wanted…” She shrugged helplessly. “I just wanted my brother.”
“I never know what to say to you,” he pressed.
“Because you don’t know me,” she answered. “Of course you don’t. I don’t know what to say to you either, but I tried.”
“I know,” he muttered. “For Maman.”
She shook her head. “For you.” He looked up, surprised. “Did you really think that I hated you?” She lowered her gaze, sounding small. “Do you hate me?”
“No,” he said quickly. “Of course not. I’m just… I don’t know.” He threw his hands up helplessly. “I just wish we could go back to how we were before. If Papa could see us now…”
“We’d break his heart,” Delphine mumbled thickly. She looked up at him with bright eyes, hesitating. “Would… would you like to come inside?” she invited.
She looked to Cosima who shrugged again, willing to go along with whatever she needed to do.
“I’ll go get pants on.” She touched Delphine’s arm before starting towards their room, shooting a warning glare at Rémi over her shoulder when Delphine couldn’t see.
“Are you sure?” She heard Rémi ask Delphine behind her.
“Do you want to?” Delphine asked.
He hesitated for a moment and Cosima paused in the hallway to listen.
Cosima’s pants were sitting on the bed, covered in cat hair, and she knelt down to stare accusingly at Oden who was hiding from Rémi under the bed.
“C’mom, buddy,” she scolded. “We talked about this.” She reached out, trying to grab him so she could pull him out and give him a cuddle but he only retreated further away. “Yeah, me too,” she agreed. “But Delphine needs us right now, so you better be really nice to her after this is all over.”
She could hear Delphine showing Rémi around from behind the door and she still sounded uncomfortable. Rather than take the time to roll the cat hair off her pants, she threw them into the laundry hamper and pulled out a new pair, quickly putting them on.
Delphine and Rémi were peeking into the study when Cosima came out. It was mostly her study room right now, at least until she defended next month, books and papers scattered everywhere between sweaters and a couple of old mugs of tea. On the surface, it looked like chaos, but there was an order to it and she knew exactly where everything was. A framed periodic table hung on the wall across from a print of Vitruvian Man and she kept a lava lamp on the desk and an orchid by the window. The pretty purple flower was the only thing currently in the room which Delphine had picked out.
She wasn’t in the room as often as Cosima, but she’d wanted her to have something bright while she was studying and even though Cosima had never managed to keep an orchid alive before, this one was flourishing. She liked to tell Delphine it was a sign of their undying love because she liked that whenever she said it, it made Delphine glow and say something cheesy and sentimental right back. And, honestly, there might have been some truth to that because the plant made her think of Delphine, which made her much more careful with it than she usually was.
“Cosima is just finishing her degree,” Delphine told him, switching to English and smiling proudly as she caught Cosima’s eye.
Rémi turned around and she waved awkwardly before coming to stand close to Delphine. She was still wary of Rémi and she couldn’t help feeling protective.
“You have your degree already?” Rémi asked Delphine. “In… it’s science, right?”
Cosima really shouldn’t have been so surprised that he hadn’t known that, but found herself frowning at him judgementally.
“Yes,” Delphine told him. “In immunology.”
“Immunology,” he repeated, nodding as if that made sense.
“She’s doing some pretty cool stuff for the CDC right now,” Cosima added. “Which… uh, I’m not supposed to talk about,” she added sheepishly, when Delphine raised an eyebrow at her. “Or know about. Anyway, it’s pretty cool and they really like her. We’re actually thinking about moving to Atlanta after I graduate, so she can take a promotion. And I sort of want to see if they’ll take me too. I, uh, have a big interest in gene therapies and the use of viral vectors to treat genetic diseases ever since… um… well, anyway I’d like to go too.”
“Nothing is decided yet,” Delphine said, but she was smiling. “But she’s amazing, and they’d be lucky to have her.” She beamed proudly at Cosima before turning back to Rémi. “You’re living in England?”
He nodded. “Yes, London. For two years now. The weather is terrible but I love my job.”
Delphine smiled at that and they made their way down the hall, passing a wall of photographs which Delphine rearranged every few months. There was a picture of Delphine’s mother, smiling at them as she watered her garden and one of Delphine and her grandmother talking over coffee which Cosima had taken and was pretty proud of. The two of them were still very close and you could see it in the picture, in Delphine’s small smile and in how completely at ease she was, in the sparkle in her grandmother’s eyes as she spoke.
Beside that was one of her and Delphine. Felix had taken it when he’d seen the way they were sitting together in Alison’s backyard one evening. Delphine’s arm was around her and Cosima was leaning her head on her shoulder as she’d looked up to ask her a question. He and Delphine got along a lot better now and he was even thinking about painting that photo because he liked the difference in their height and the way their heads were tilted towards each other. They’d actually used it for the invitations, but Cosima didn’t think Rémi would recognize it.
Another photo had Cosima and her parents on their boat, which Delphine had taken when she’d met them two years ago. All three of them were leaning against the side rail, making faces at the camera.
Beside it was a picture of Cosima and her sisters at the beach, all wearing sunglasses and different bathing suits. Sarah was wearing a blue tank top over a pair of swim shorts, Alison had on a simple pink bikini, Helena was wearing a white t-shirt over her one-piece bathing suit and Cosima had a beach wrap on over her bikini which was navy blue with maroon zig-zags. They didn’t really look like clones in the picture, especially with their eyes covered, so it was a safe one to have on the wall if they had people over.
In fact, her sisters were the reason they were still discussing Atlanta. It was so far away and both Cosima and Delphine liked living further North where they could drive up to see them often. They’d even talked about moving to Toronto to be closer to them, but once again, nothing had been decided yet. Although Cosima’s defense was coming up quickly and the impending decision was starting to stress her out a little.
There was a picture of Cosima at ten years old, looking a lot like Charlotte except for her oversized glasses, and she was hugging their dog, a big Golden Retriever named Happy. Beside it was a picture of Delphine at the same age, sitting in a wheelbarrow with her head thrown back in a laugh as her father pushed her forward.
Rémi stopped at that one, his eyes moving over Delphine, then their father who was smiling down at her with a grin of delight.
“I didn’t know you still had this,” he said quietly.
“You would push me around in there too,” Delphine reminded him. “Before…” Her face fell and she trailed off but both Cosima and Rémi knew what she’d meant.
Rémi gave her a half smile. “You were such a happy little kid. You and Papa could laugh for hours over the smallest thing…” He shook himself, turning to the picture of Cosima. “And this is you?”
“Yeah, and Happy. I loved that dog,” she told him. “And those are my sisters,” she added, pointing to the picture of them at the beach.
“You’re all so different,” he commented. “Are… are you close?”
“Yeah, we’re pretty close,” she answered brightly. “We’ve been through a lot together and I can’t imagine my life without them.” Rémi winced and she snapped her mouth shut, realizing the context of what she’d just said. “Uh, anyway, we have the bathroom over here in case you have to go or something,” she went on awkwardly. “It’s kind of small so sometimes we’re on top of each other in the morning,” she added with a chuckle.
“You think it’s funny,” Delphine teased, grateful for the change in subject. “But it isn’t so funny when you’re in the shower for twenty minutes and the steam is making the makeup melt off my face.”
Cosima giggled at her and she shook her head but she was smiling in amusement.
“It’s really not that funny when it’s happening,” she conceded. “We need more space.”
“So you’re moving soon,” Rémi guessed.
“That’s the plan,” Cosima said cheerfully. “Once we decide where we want to get a house. And then…” She looked to Delphine, wondering if she should say anything. If he shrugged this off too, if he hurt Delphine again, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to forgive him.
But she was letting Delphine take the lead right now, so when she raised an eyebrow, asking permission, Cosima gave her an encouraging smile.
“We want to adopt,” Delphine told him. “Once we’ve settled in. One or two older children. Siblings if we can.”
“So they won’t get separated,” Cosima added, thinking of Helena and Sarah.
She’d been expecting Delphine to want a baby. After seeing her with Donald and Arthur it was clear how much she wanted kids, but she hadn’t expected her to tell her she wanted to adopt an older child. In truth, Cosima was kind of relieved. Babies terrified her but she loved kids and she knew that Delphine would make an amazing mother.
It had actually been Sarah and Felix who’d convinced Delphine she wanted to adopt. She’d told Cosima that seeing their bond with Siobhan and how much they’d needed her had convinced her that there was probably a child out there that needed her too. Needed both of them. Before everything that had happened, neither of them had really believed in destiny, but now they’d somehow both gotten it into their heads that their kids were out there already and they’d never get to meet them if they didn’t look for them.
“But there’s still a lot we have to do before we’re ready for that,” Delphine said.
“Like, we need to get a puppy first,” Cosima told him and Delphine rolled her eyes. “Kids love dogs, Delphine,” she said matter-of-factly, nodding her head to the picture of her and Happy.
“You love dogs, ma chérie,” she chuckled. Cosima shrugged at her and she laughed. “No. We need to decide where we want to live. We both need a steady job, a house.”
“We need to choose an adoption agency, figure out exactly when and how we want to do this,” Cosima added. “If we want to foster first, there’s a course we’ll have to take.”
“We have a lot of decisions to make,” Delphine said. “But… it’s good. Because it means we have choices.” She reached out to touch Cosima’s cheek, her eyes shining with affection. “And, whatever happens, I’ll be happy as long as I have you.”
She meant it too. It was what she’d been saying all along as they’d discussed this together. She wanted kids, but she wanted Cosima more and the weight that that reassurance had lifted off of Cosima’s shoulders had helped her realize that she wanted them too.
Without even realizing it, she’d been so scared. She’d been scared that if she didn’t want a baby it would mean she’d have to lose Delphine. She’d been scared that even if they adopted instead she wouldn’t make a good mother, because she wasn’t maternal enough and all the things that were supposed to come naturally to a mom, like knowing how to hold a baby, just didn’t for her. She’d been scared of some poor kid ending up with a terrible mom, that as much as she’d love them she was going to end up failing them somehow because she was too selfish, or too immature or too something.
But all it had taken was three words to change her mind. You’ll have me. Delphine had made her feel safe before she’d even known how terrified she was. She’d promised that no matter what she chose, she’d have her by her side. And it was her steadfast belief that, if she wanted to, she could be a good mom that had given her the confidence to make the decision.
And that was what Cosima wanted to do for her now. She wanted Delphine to know that she had her no matter what, and she’d be there whatever happened between her and brother, to pick up the pieces or to finally get to know him. For Delphine’s sake, she really hoped it was the latter.
“And… does Maman know about all of this? About you staying in America? Having children here? About your job?” Rémi asked slowly.
“I actually wasn’t supposed to say anything about that last one,” Cosima reminded him awkwardly. “So, uh, maybe you could just…” She mimed zipping her lips. “You know.”
“Um, OK…” Rémi agreed. “But… does…”
“Maman knows about the rest,” Delphine told him.
“Is that why you’re getting married?” he asked. “So you can move here?”
“We’re getting married because we love each other,” Delphine answered.
“But, yeah, we’re involving the state so it’ll be easier for her to move here. And so it’ll be easier for a joint adoption, taxes, inheritance, that kind of stuff,” Cosima told him.
For everything else, her word is enough for her though. She was her soulmate and no one had a say in that but them.
“Maman does like you though,” Rémi said. “She talked about you sometimes but…” He looked to Delphine, who nodded in understanding.
“I would try to change the subject, whenever she brought you up,” she told him. “It’s one of the few things we still fight about.”
“Me,” Rémi guessed and she nodded soberly.
They were silent for a moment.
“I miss you,” Delphine said quietly.
“You don’t know me,” Rémi objected weakly. “And this.” He gestured around him at their home, Cosima, the pictures on the wall. “This Is who are now and none of it is familiar.”
“It could be,” Delphine offered, in a small voice. “If you wanted it to be.”
Rémi stared at her, his eyes bright, and Cosima realized that he was afraid too.
“I know her,” she supplied. “Even if you don’t, and she’s probably the loyalist and most caring person I’ve ever met. Having her in your life, being loved by her, it’s… well it’s pretty awesome. You wouldn’t regret it.”
Rémi opened his mouth, then shut it again. He stared at Delphine, searching her face as she stared uncertainly back.
“Do you still like ice cream?” he asked at last.
Delphine smiled, letting out a quiet chuckle of relief before she caught herself and nodded. “Yes.”
“There’s… My friend told me about an ice cream shop not far from here,” he told her slowly. “Maybe you could come with me. Maybe you know it already? Three Cows in a Cone?”
She and Cosima exchanged a grin.
“We know it,” Delphine said. “It’s very good, I’m sure you’ll like it.”
“Yeah, she can’t get enough of it,” Cosima teased. “You should go,” she said to Delphine. “Have a scoop of pecan crunch for me.”
“You’re welcome to come too,” Rémi offered.
She shook her head. “You two have a lot of catching up to do. But just… be nice to her OK?" she warned Rémi. "I’m a scientist, you know. If you hurt her again, I’ll find you and you’ll wake up with a third arm growing out of your stomach.”
She put her own arm in front of her belly, wiggling her fingers, and Rémi nodded seriously.
“I have to get back to the conference now,” he told them. “But we could meet there after supper? At seven thirty?”
“OK,” Delphine agreed with a small smile.
They saw him to the door and when he was gone she let out a long sigh.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said.
“Yeah,” Cosima agreed. “It wasn’t exactly an apology but… well it was something I guess…” She shrugged, unimpressed.
“I’m still not sure why he’s doing this,” Delphine admitted wearily.
“Me neither,” Cosima told her. She put a hand on her shoulder, searching her face. “Do you want to find out?”
Delphine nodded, nervous but certain. “Yes.”
Cosima grazed her hand down her arm, tangling their fingers together when their hands met. She gave her hand an encouraging squeeze. “OK. Then let’s find out.”
Three Cows in a Cone is an ice cream show we used to go to all the time when I was a kid when we went to visit my Aunt's cottage. It's near Manitoulan Island.
Delphine came home at about nine o’clock on Sunday night. Cosima was in her office, rereading some of the articles she’d used in her thesis to prepare for her defense, but she sprung to her feet as soon as she heard the key in the door. By the time Delphine had opened it, she was already waiting for her on the other side.
“So?” she said, reaching out to take her coat.
“I don’t know.” Delphine shrugged, laying her bag down on the table. “It was strange.”
They made their way to the couch and settled down across from each other with their feet meeting in the middle.
“Was he nice to you?” Cosima asked.
“Mostly,” Delphine answered, looking down at her hands.
Cosima raised an eyebrow. “What’s mostly?”
She sighed. “I don’t know, Cosima. We almost got into an argument but he stopped himself before he said anything too terrible.” She pulled at her fingers uncertainly. “I still don’t know if he’s doing this for me or for Maman…”
Cosima reached out to still her hands. “You know, you don’t have to do this,” she reminded her gently.
“I want to,” Delphine said quickly. “I want my brother back. I just thought…” She trailed off, shrugging helplessly.
“You thought it would be easier,” Cosima guessed and she nodded slowly.
“I thought it would get easier. The longer we were together, you know?” she admitted. “But we have nothing to say to each other that doesn’t remind us of how we’re strangers now.”
“It isn’t going to happen in one get together,” Cosima told her. “It may not even happen before the wedding. And it’s OK if it’s hard. You’ve been through a lot.” She leaned forward, waiting until Delphine caught her eye. “But I promise that I’ll be here for you, whatever happens.”
Delphine’s eyes softened and her mouth twitched up into a small smile. “Come here,” she murmured, holding out her arms.
Cosima shifted over, sinking into her embrace to lay her head on her chest. Delphine pressed her face to her hair breathing her in, holding her tightly, and Cosima closed her eyes. She still smelled like an ice cream store but underneath that was her wonderfully familiar scent.
“Sometimes, I still can’t believe I got to keep you,” Delphine whispered softly.
“That was hard too,” Cosima reminded her. “Way harder than it should have been. But we did it.” She remembered how frighteningly close they’d come to not making it and her voice lowered. “There were times I thought I ‘d never see you again…,” she murmured, gently moving her thumb above where Delphine’s skin was still scarred. “But here we are.”
“Here we are,” Delphine repeated quietly. She stroked her hair and Cosima continued to move her thumb back and forth over her shirt, her heart suddenly heavy with questions. “Did you get any work done?” she added, changing the subject.
“I tried, but I was kind of worried about you,” Cosima admitted.
“I’m sorry,” Delphine said.
“Don’t be,” she told her. “I get to worry sometimes too.”
Delphine kissed her head. “OK,” she agreed.
Cosima could hear her heart beating under her cheek, feel her chest rise and fall with each breaths and there was no place on Earth she’d rather be. Her throat caught at how fragile it suddenly seemed. They were free now, but some days she still felt like it could slip through her fingers.
Even though she loved Delphine with all heart, because she loved Delphine with all her heart, there were still things she worried about. And their wedding and everything that had happened between Delphine and Rémi these past few days had stirred them back up again, almost forgotten uncertainties shaking off dust as they reawakened.
“Delphine?” she asked quietly after a minute.
She swallowed, putting together what she wanted to say. “You want this, right? This life.”
“I want you,” she told her firmly, holding her tighter. “Of course I do.”
“That’s not what I asked,” she mumbled.
Delphine rubbed her shoulder. “I don’t think I understand, my love.”
Cosima hesitated. It felt like she was walking out onto unfamiliar ice, not knowing if it was several feet thick or ready to crack under her feet. But she wouldn’t let her fear stop her from saying what she needed to say. She remembered how angry it had made her, to see the way Delphine’s family hurt her because they never gave her a choice. No one had ever paid any attention to how much Delphine was hurting, how lonely she was, until it was almost too late and she’d already been suffering in silence for years. Cosima had to say something now before she let that happen again.
“You’d really move to Toronto instead of Atlanta?” she asked slowly and once she’d said the first thing the rest came tumbling out. “You’re really OK adopting instead of having a baby? You don’t care that we’re not getting married in France? You’re not just doing all this for me?”
“Cosima, where is this coming from?” she asked in surprise.
She wanted to sit up, but she was too afraid to look her in the eyes so instead she kept her head on her chest, laying in her arms where it was safe.
“You never ask for anything,” she made herself say. “And the other day with Rémi… You put up with so much even when it was making you unhappy. And you let your mother send you away and you never told her how much it hurt you because you wanted to protect her… No one asked you what you wanted and they didn’t see how much you needed them. Until…”
Until they almost lost you. But she couldn’t say it. She hadn’t been there but she could imagine how it had happened. She’d been lonely too, she knew how that felt. It was easy to picture Delphine, so young, feeling like no one was going to stick around for her, like she was alone and she had no choice in what came next. What if she were doing that to her now? Taking her apart, piece by piece, until there was nothing left?
“You said it felt like you were drowning…” she said instead.” Like…” She paused, trying to remember the exact words she’d used. “Like they’d forgotten you at the bottom of the ocean… and I don’t ever want to do that to you…”
“You haven’t,” Delphine promised solemnly. “And you wont.”
“How do you know?” Cosima mumbled.
“Because you ask questions like that,” Delphine murmured. “I know Maman did her best and I know that she loves me, but you ask me what I want. You ask if I’m OK. And you try to make it right when I’m not…”
“I can be selfish…” she said weakly.
“Everyone can be selfish,” Delphine insisted. “But you don’t let it hurt the people you love. These past few days have proven that. You were so patient with all of this.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Cosima told her.
“And it isn’t your fault that your family is in Toronto,” Delphine pressed. “And, you know, I love them too.”
Cosima smiled warmly at that, reaching up to stroke her arm. “I know.”
“I want to be with them,” she insisted. “I want to have the wedding there. And I don’t want to have a baby, our baby is already out there. I’m not drowning, mon amour, I promise you. The opposite, you’ve set me free.”
You’ve set me free. Cosima closed her eyes, sinking into her and letting out a long sigh of relief. She sounded so certain, her voice light with clarity, and it lifted the weight off of Cosima’s heart.
“OK,” she murmured. “But you’ll tell me? When you don’t want something? Or when you do?”
“Of course I will,” she promised.
“You mean that?” Cosima pressed, lifting her head.
“I do,” she answered.
She nodded, laying back onto her chest. “OK. Good.”
“And you?” Delphine asked softly.
“What about me?” Cosima replied.
“You want this too?” she asked. “I know you never wanted a traditional wedding. And you never thought you’d have children.”
“I was afraid of having kids,” Cosima corrected her. “It’s not the same thing.”
“We can’t undo it, you know,” Delphine warned.
“Delphine, I am adopted. I know how it works,” she insisted. “I get that it’s forever. That’s what I got, even after I told them I was a clone.”
“They took it very well,” Delphine commented.
Cosima shrugged. “They’re scientists, they know how human cloning works. We never needed biology to make us a family and I should have known that my biology wouldn’t stop us from being one. They knew I was still their daughter. Plus, they’re from San Francisco,” she added, with some amusement. “They’re used to weird stuff happening.”
Delphine chuckled at her. “But you understand what I’m asking?” she pressed, sobering.
She nodded against her shirt, playing with the fabric between her fingers. “We’re getting married on a beach. No one’s wearing a white dress. No one’s catching a bouquet or telling us to obey each other or anything like that. It’s mostly going to be a party. I wouldn’t call any of that traditional. I might not even wear shoes.”
“But it’s what you want?” Delphine asked.
“To dance barefoot with you on the beach after you recite a speech about how much you love me?” Cosima asked. She gripped her shirt, grinning. “Yeah, that sounds pretty good.”
“It does,” she agreed fondly, running her hand down her arm. “And… what about children?” she asked uncertainly.
“Kids are amazing,” Cosima told her. “They’re like little sponges, they just soak everything in. They haven’t been forced to colour inside the lines yet. And… it’s a beautiful world out there. There’s so much to learn and I want to share it with someone who’s seeing it for the first time. I want to give that to them. And I want to give them a family where they’re safe to explore it. Just like I had.”
“You’re going to be a wonderful mother,” Delphine murmured, giving her a squeeze and sounding at last convinced.
Cosima smiled. “You too.”
Delphine let out a breath. “So. That leaves us…”
“Exactly where we started,” Cosima finished with amusement. All they’d done was repeat what they’d already decided. But it wasn’t a bad thing.
“It’s good though,” Delphine said assuredly. “To check in sometimes. Especially when we’re making so many big decisions.”
“Yeah,” she agreed. She patted her arm, pushing herself up so she was hovering over her. “So, what big decisions do you want to make tonight? Netflix? Board games? Sleep?”
Delphine smiled up at her, taking her face between her hands and sliding them past her ears, onto her shoulders. “You decide.”
She grinned, gently bopping her nose against hers before settling back down against her. “Just talk to me then,” she said.
“About what?” Delphine asked, wrapping her arms back around her.
“Anything,” Cosima answered. “Everything. Something you’ve never told me before. Why do you hate Agricola? What do you think of sacred geometry? If you could live forever, would you?”
“I can only answer question at a time,” she laughed.
“OK, we can make a game of it then,” Cosima decided. “I ask one, then you get to ask me one.”
“Would you live forever?” Delphine asked.
“No. It’s not your turn,” Cosima told her. “And you stole my question.”
“You never said there were rules,” she teased.
“You think it’s funny to cheat,” Delphine mused. She poked her stomach lightly and Cosima giggled again. “I’ll only play if you tell me the rules first.”
“I’m not cheating, I’m improvising,” she protested playfully.
“Oh, OK,” Delphine answered sarcastically. “Well then, I’m going to improvise too. I go first.”
“Did you just take power over a word game?” Cosima asked, laughing at her.
“Yes,” she answered.
“Of course you did. OK, go ahead,” she conceded.
“What are the rules to this game?” she asked and Cosima could hear the grin in her voice.
She took her hand, tangling their fingers together as little puffs of laughter escaped her. When she felt Delphine start to giggle beneath her the damn broke and they laughed together until their stomachs hurt and their eyes were watering.
This is the second to last chapter. Next chapter we will get a glimpse of the Cophine wedding :D
The day they were married was sunny and warm. They stood before their friends and family, sandals squishing in the hot sand against the backdrop of Lake Ontario while Alison officiated. On one side stood high brown-grey cliffs, birds circling around them and on the other the grey sand went on until the beach curved into the trees.
Cosima loved the water, nothing more so than the salt of the sea, but this fresh water lake was close enough and if it meant that everyone she loved was able to make it to the wedding it was more than worth the compromise. She still had the waves and the sand and the breeze off the water. And, most importantly, she still had the love of her life beaming across from her, golden and warm like a drop of sunlight had fallen to the Earth.
Neither of them had worn white. Delphine said it reminded her of the dress she’d been forced to wear on the island, of false submission and a painted on lie of who she was. She didn’t want to bring any of that to this celebration of their love so she wore pale blue instead, which she said symbolized stability, security and lifelong loyalty. The dress was simple, sleeveless for the summer heat and her hair was braided around her head like crown to keep it off her neck. Along with her soft smile and carefree glow, the effect made her look light enough to have rolled off one of the waves that hit the shoreline of the lake in a steady rhythm. She was so beautifully happy it took Cosima’s breath away to look at her.
Cosima hadn’t wanted white either. She hated the symbolism behind it, of innocence and sexual purity, as if she were a doll to be kept clean or tainted rather than a whole person who was neither. It wasn’t as if she were against other people wearing white, Alison after all had worn white to her wedding not out of self-deprecation but out of a desire to uphold the image of marriage she’d believed in. Alison wore white, Delphine wore blue, and Cosima had chosen dark red because she liked the way she looked in it. Alison and Donnie had been married in a church, Cosima and Delphine said their vows against the sunset on a lake. Donnie and Alison’s wedding had been big, Cosima and Delphine’s was small. They looked different, because they were different people but in the end, they had meant the same thing.
Delphine had made the point beautifully in her vows, words that had left both of them in tears.
Life is precious. It’s a gift. And love is what let’s us share our gifts with each other, to make them more than they could ever be on their own. Before you, I had never thought about what love was. In the past, people have tried to measure it. They’ve codified it, defined it. It’s contrary to the nature of love. There is no definition for what is between us. You are my best friend, my soulmate, my lover. I love you because of your integrity, your intellect, your humour, but no combination of descriptors could ever capture the entire reason you are you, so none could ever describe my reasons for loving you. I love you because you are Cosima. There is no classification for that. And there is no quantification for the love between us. Because there is no way to measure how happy you make me. And it’s not possible to define love as happiness because I love you even when I’m miserable. When I’m angry. When I’m scared. Love has no numbers, no units of measurement.
I don’t think we can ever define what love is. But being with you has shown me that I don’t have to define it. Because I feel it. I know that my love for you will be a part of me for the rest of my life and that that part of me makes me better than who I was before. And I know that you love me too, and that your love for me makes my life better. I am standing with you now, because our lives are a gift, because of this wonderful, indescribable thing that we share that brought us both to the conclusion that they’d be better together. That’s why we do this. And that’s why today I am making you a promise to be your wife, your soulmate, your lover, your best friend. And I am promising you my love, forever, in all it’s infinite, undefinable forms.
Her words had been poetic, flowing from her with natural passion and Cosima was glad she’d gone first because there was no way she could have gotten through her vows after she’d heard Delphine’s. She’d needed a long enough to manage I do after Delphine’s conclusion had left her half-laughing, half weeping and hiding her face in her shoulder.
What she’d said had made Delphine cry too though. It wasn’t as pretty, and she’d been nervous about making a long speech in front of everyone but Alison had come through with some good advice. She’d told her that this was their moment, not the anyone else’s. She’d said that all she had to do was figure what she wanted to say to Delphine, and then tell her. These words were for her, the rest of them were just witnesses.
That was hard enough on its own. Delphine was right, the love she felt for her was undefinable, so how could she possibly condense it into one three-minute speech? It had taken her months, agonizing over what to say, how to say it without sounding like a complete dork, but then she’d found help in another sister.
She’d rehearsed what she’d wanted to say with Sarah, who’d told her that it was nice but it didn’t sound like her. And she was right. Months of editing had sucked the soul right out of what she’d wanted to say. She might as well have bought Delphine a Hallmark card. It was pretty, but it wasn’t real.
So, she’d gone back to agonizing over it. She’d even had a nightmare about it which she’d been too embarrassed to tell Delphine about. How were you supposed to tell the love of your life that you didn’t even know what to say them on your wedding day? What kind of lover was she, that she couldn’t even do that?
Her final piece of advice had come from Helena. Too upset to tell Delphine about the dream, she’d described it to her sister as they’d taste tested the chocolates for the guests. Helena had simply shrugged, understanding of Cosima’s frustration but unable to overcomplicate the matter herself.
You like to think. You like to solve puzzles. But this is will not help you now, I think. This speech is not puzzle. If you want to tell her you love her, tell her you love her. She’d placed a hand on Cosima’s chest, pushing it firmly. You know it here.
Helena was right. This speech wasn’t a test or a game. She wasn’t being graded on it and she couldn’t win or lose. Delphine would love her, whatever she said. All she had to do was mean it. So, when the day had finally come, she knew exactly what she wanted to say. She’d taken both of Delphine’s hands in her own, looked into her shining eyes, and wondered why she’d ever been so afraid of this.
I don’t think I really understood what being in love was before I met you. I used to think I did, but now I know it’s so much bigger than I imagined. You made me feel things I didn’t even know existed. Falling in love with you was like a discovery that changed everything. Suddenly, all these things I hadn’t understood before made sense. But you know what? I still thought I understood them. I thought I knew what my parents saw when they looked at each other, or why people chose to promise their lives to each other, or what it means when they say home is a person. But I had no clue. I was just seeing outlines until you filled them in.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what to I was supposed to say today. The truth is, I don’t know what to say. In my opinion, I’ve already said the most important thing, that I love you and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. And I really hope you know how much I mean that. But I don’t just want to tell you, I want to show you. Not just today, but every single day for the rest of our lives. I want you know that I love you. And that I choose you every morning when wake up and every night before I got to bed and in between every breath I take.
Delphine had listened to the entire thing, growing more and more emotional as she’d went on. By the end of it, she was in tears, and the moment she’d realized Cosima was finished her hands had closed around her face and she’d lunged forward to kiss her.
Alison, who’d been officiating their marriage, had bounced around stressfully at the break from the timetable before conceding with a shrug and mumbling that, well, it was their wedding after all.
Everyone else had laughed happily. Someone, probably Sarah, had clapped and cheered. When Delphine had pulled away, she was blushing but she didn’t seem to regret her impulsive decision and Cosima didn’t either. When they’d kissed for the second time, moving towards each other at the tail end of Alison saying you may kiss the bride, everyone had been cheering and laughing.
Now the sun had set, soft white lights strung up between the posts around the dance floor illuminating the darkness. A love song played through the speakers and Cosima leaned on Delphine’s shoulder, letting her lead them around as they swayed back and forth. Normally, she wasn’t a big fan of slow dancing, but as great as today had been she was exhausted and, admittedly, it did feel pretty good to hold each other like this.
“I love this song,” Delphine said quietly.
Cosima chuckled softly. “You picked it. And I like it too.”
Delphine kissed her crown, holding her tighter, and Cosima closed her eyes, content to let her guide her until she heard Delphine sniff.
“Hey, are you still crying?” she teased lightly, tilting her head up. Her nose brushed Delphine’s chin and she felt it slide through a warm tear. But Delphine’s silence shifted Cosima’s amusement to concern. “Are you OK?”
“It- it’s nothing,” she mumbled.
It wasn’t nothing. Cosima pulled back, tilting her head questioningly. Delphine tried to smile but her mouth seemed weighed down in a frown and her cheeks were shining with tears. There weren’t many dancers left on the floor, people were drifting off into groups, soon they’d start heading home and coming to say their goodbyes, but for now the two of them had a short moment of time alone.
“Hey,” she whispered, reaching up to touch her face. “What’s wrong?”
Delphine swallowed. “I wish my father was here,” she said quietly. She took a shaky breath. “He should have known you. You would have liked each other. I just… it’s not fair, you know?” She sniffed again, wiping her eyes with one hand, the other still around Cosima’s waist. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled when she couldn’t stem the flow of tears. “I know I should be happy right now- and I am… I just...”
Cosima shook her head. “You don’t have to be anything. And you’re right, it’s not fair.”
Her lip wobbled and she wrapped both arms around Cosima, hiding her face in her shoulder and gripping the back of her dress. When she let out a soft sob, Cosima stroked her back, gently rocking her back and forth. To anyone watching, it would have looked like they were still dancing.
After a minute, Delphine took in a long breath, breathing her in. Then she gave her neck a quick kiss and pulled back to wipe her face off with the back of her hand. Cosima watched her, unsure what to say, until Delphine smiled at her and she smiled gently back.
“He would have liked you,” she said again.
There was so much said in those five words and Cosima didn’t really think she understood all of it. There was regret, for all the moments she’d lost with him, a sense of helplessness too, at how unfair it was. Something else too, not acceptance, but comfort maybe, that if he could see her now he’d know that she was OK, and that she was happy.
“And he’d be so proud of you,” Cosima added gently, reaching up to brush away a tear from her jaw and thinking fondly about what an amazing person Delphine had become. “Just like the rest of your family is.”
They looked towards Delphine’s mother and grandmother, who were sitting down watching the dancers and talking quietly with each other. Annie, Delphine’s grandmother, winked at them and waved when they caught her eye, and her mother beamed at them as they waved back. They’d been so nice to Cosima, accepting her as part of the family right away, and she’d grown to love both of them in the few short years since she’d met them.
She and Delphine shifted their gaze to Rémi, who was enjoying a beer with Sarah and Helena. Helena said something and he stared at her wide eyed for a moment before the three of them threw back their heads in laughter. Cosima thought they all might have been a little drunk, but it was cute. She couldn’t really say that she loved Rémi. And she still hadn’t entirely forgiven him yet, but Delphine seemed to have and she loved him enough for both of them for now.
He had tried these past few months. He’d called every other week, driven down to visit them when he’d had a conference in New York, and he was planning on being there when they visited Delphine’s mother in the fall. It wasn’t perfect, and Cosima had nearly lost it on him when he’d made Delphine cry during a Skype call a month ago, but Delphine had ended the call before she could say anything and he’d called back about an hour later to apologize. He wasn’t even someone she would have liked if she’d met him any other way, but Delphine loved him so she was going to have to figure out a way to care about him too.
“He did a pretty good job on his speech,” Cosima admitted. “I really think he meant it too. All that stuff about being proud of you and how happy he was for us.”
“I think so,” Delphine answered, smiling fondly at him. “He was never very good with words. But that’s why I know that he means what he says.”
“Well, that’s one thing we have in common,” Cosima joked.
Delphine shook her head. “I loved what you said.” She took Cosima’s hand, pressing it over her heart. “I can still feel it.”
“Yeah, me too,” Cosima said softly.
They smiled at each other, seeing between them the infinite treasure they’d found together. In a month, they’d be moving to Atlanta to start their new jobs. Soon after that they’d start looking at houses and Cosima had already convinced Delphine to visit a golden doodle breeder in Barnesville. Then, in about a year, they’d begin the adoption process.
It wasn’t just the big things though, it was the moments in between too. It was late night car rides to the airport, lazy nights curled up together with a movie, it was ‘how was your day’ and ‘what did you want to do this weekend?’ It was getting to keep each other for all of it.
Today was about celebrating what they’d built together, but it was a celebration of the future too. And they felt it now, their smiles widening into giddy laughter and excitement at what tomorrow would bring.