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Changes of Habit or Instinct

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Cosima’s chest was heaving, her breathing shallow and harsh. Delphine pressed her ear to her girlfriend’s sternum. This way she could both feel and hear Cosima’s heartbeat slowing down.

“Hmm, gotta love the crazy science,” said Cosima, when she was finally able to talk again. She twirled a few of Delphine’s curls around her fingers, holding her head close to her chest. They sighed in unison, both happily exhausted.

Oui,” Delphine answered with a grin, not yet able to form a complete sentence in English. She looked at Cosima’s breasts, rising and falling steadily. With her right hand, Delphine absentmindedly played with Cosima’s nipple. Their warm bodies were pressed together as they relaxed into each other.

They were lying on a mattress on the living room floor of Sarah and Cal’s home in Toronto. Behind Cosima, Delphine could see the mess of wrapping paper, balloons, leftover cake and empty glasses in the dim light of the street lanterns shining through the windows.

This afternoon the two of them had flown from Minneapolis to Toronto for Kira’s birthday. The monkey was eight years old, and of course her aunts had to be there with presents. They would spend a long weekend with the Leda sisters in Canada. Sarah had invited them to stay for an entire week, but they both had to work on Monday morning, so they would be heading back to the States on Sunday evening.

When they had arrived, Kira was still in school, allowing them some time to catch up with Sarah. Together, the three of them had picked Kira up from school. The little girl had been so happy to see her aunts again. It was almost as if she did not have plenty of other aunts to spoil her.

While they walked home, Kira told Cosima all about school. Delphine had walked behind them, chatting with Sarah. She had no idea what they had talked about, all she could think of was how adorable Cosima had been with the little girl. Despite her extensive knowledge of biology, somehow Cosima was still able to talk about bugs with an eight year old on an appropriate level. Educating Kira with endless enthusiasm for the world around them. Watching them together made Delphine wonder to what extent a child from Cosima would look like Kira. Of course

Cosima had never been fertile, but it was not impossible for Delphine to carry a child for them.

As Delphine’s hand travelled lower, to rub small circles over Cosima’s stomach, she pondered whether they should talk about these things. Almost their entire relationship had been about the clones and Cosima’s illness. Neither of them had ever spoken of a future they might have together, because neither of them had ever truly believed they could have a shared future. Did Cosima even want children? Cosima wanted to receive her doctorate, but aside from that she had no plans for the future as far as Delphine was aware.

Somehow the birthday party that had followed after their walk home had made Delphine slightly nostalgic. She had watched Cosima interact with her sisters and their families. In the last few months Kira had become close friends with Oscar and Gemma. During the early evening, the three of them were admiring Kira’s new toys. Alison had been very surprised to see how well Cosima looked, the two sisters spent hours catching up.

Helena and her boyfriend were both in town and had brought spoiled Kira with a ridiculous collection of presents. They had been driving all over the area, despite Helena’s advancing pregnancy. Siobhan devoted almost the entire evening to convincing Helena to settle down somewhere, at least until the baby would be born. Eventually Helena agreed to move in with Mrs. S for a little while.

Just before Kira’s bedtime, Tony had arrived. A little later, Alison and Donnie had gone home to put their kids in bed. The remaining Clone club talked for hours. Cosima, Krystal and Tony had not seen any of their sisters in person since Cosima and Delphine had left for Minneapolis, so they had a lot to tell each other.

Krystal had politely tried to include Delphine into the conversation, but Delphine could not help feeling a bit left out. This was Cosima’s family after all, and she felt detached from them. It was not as if they purposely shut her out, Delphine could simply not help feeling like an uninvited stranger. She had spent almost the entire evening quietly sitting next to Cosima, sipping a glass of wine and observing the siblings interact. Cosima had been so enthusiastic about finally seeing her sisters again, that she had not noticed how lost Delphine had been. Delphine did not blame her, she had had Cosima for herself for almost three months, and she should be able to share Cosima for three days.

An hour after everyone had finally gone home or to bed, Delphine was resting comfortably on Cosima’s chest, her mind wandering to all that had happened today.

From her slightly elevated position Delphine could see their naked bodies as they were laying close together, the sheets pooled at the bottom of the mattress. While she had been deep in thought, Delphine’s hands had been travelling all over Cosima’s chest. By the time Delphine had reached the conclusion that she did not care if all of project Leda loved her back, as long as Cosima loved her, Delphine’s fingers were toying with one of Cosima’s dreads.

“Penny for your thoughts.” Cosima broke Delphine’s silent contemplations.

Quoi?” asked Delphine. She lifted her head from its comfortable position, looking up at Cosima.

Cosima was looking back at her, squinting due to her lack of glasses. Her right hand was still resting at the back of Delphine’s head. “It’s like, tell me what you’re thinking,” Cosima said. She brought her other hand to cup Delphine’s cheek, “If you want to.”

Delphine nodded. She let go of the dreadlock to grasp Cosima’s hand and pressed a soft kiss to the palm of the hand. Delphine laid her head back down, not letting go of her girlfriend’s hand. With her other hand, Cosima had started to gently stroke the back of Delphine’s head again, eliciting a soft moan. “Your siblings are very happy to see you again,” Delphine said, intertwining their fingers.

“And I’m happy to see them as well,” Cosima answered. “It had been a while.”

“Hmm,” Delphine agreed.

“You know, they were happy to see you too.”

“Not really.” Delphine shook her head softly, “They’re your family, not mine.” She knew the Clone club didn’t trust her, even after all she had done. Delphine could not blame them for it. She
had done what she had to do to keep her promise to Cosima. As long as Cosima loved her, Delphine did not need any of the other clones to love her.

“Hey, no.” Cosima sat up, forcing Delphine to do the same. “They totally are your family too,” Cosima said forcefully.

Looking down at their linked hand in her lap, Delphine pulled her lower lip between her teeth. Cosima was just saying it to make her feel better. Knowing that Cosima cared about her so passionately did make Delphine feel better, but deep down she knew what her girlfriend was saying was not true. “It’s okay,” Delphine squeezed Cosima’s hands, “You are my family.”

She glanced up at Cosima, who was looking back at her with her head tilted as she usually did when in deep thought. Nervously, Delphine wondered whether that had been too much. Impatiently biting her lip, she waited for Cosima to say something, anything.

After staring at Delphine for a minute, Cosima let go of her hands and turned around to the suitcase that was lying next to the mattress. With her back to Delphine, Cosima started digging around in the clothes and toiletries inside.

Anxiously, Delphine waited for Cosima to finish whatever she was doing.

When Cosima finally turned back around, all she had in her hand was the bottle of pills she had to take three times a day. “I forgot to take my meds tonight,” Cosima said as she shook the bottle.

Delphine felt her mouth fall open. She stared back at Cosima, not knowing how to respond to that. Did her girlfriend not realize the sentiment behind her earlier statement? Delphine was glad that Cosima finally seemed to take her health seriously, but was this really the moment to take her medication?

“I thought you were finished with those,” Delphine said. Choosing to ignore their earlier conversation and focusing on the fact that Cosima still had pills left, despite the fact that, according to Delphine’s calculations, she should have finished her last dosage two days ago.

Cosima fished a single pill out of the bottle. “This is the last one,” she said, “I might have kinda forgotten to take them once,” he grinned back at Delphine, totally oblivious to her girlfriend’s emotionally vulnerable state, “or twice.”

Not knowing what to say to that, Delphine pulled the sheets up. She was starting to get cold and tired. They’d better just go to sleep; Kira would most likely wake them early tomorrow morning. Delphine moved to lie down, when Cosima took hold of her hand, preventing her from lying down.

“Delphine, you my saved life, in more than one way,” said Cosima, shifting into a more comfortable position. “You are my family. I don’t want to even imagine what my life would be like without you.” Cosima looked attentively at Delphine, their faces only a few centimetrs apart. “And I want to share the rest of my life, and my crazy family, with you.”

Shifting her gaze from one dark brown eye to the other, Delphine tried to decipher what exactly Cosima wanted to tell her. Had Cosima been smoking tonight? Her words did not make sense to Delphine.

While Delphine was still looking at Cosima’s face in the near darkness, she felt Cosima turn her palm upwards. Cosima looked down at the empty pill bottle that she was still holding in one hand. Cosima brought the small bottle to their joined hands, tilting it so that something rolled out of it, landing in Delphine’s open hand.

Delphine could suddenly feel her heart pounding in her ears. She didn’t dare tear her eyes away from Cosima’s face. She was afraid to close her fingers over what was lying in her palm, afraid that she was mistaken. Briefly Delphine worried whether she was breathing really loudly, or was that just her imagination. Delphine tried to say something. Anything.

Before she could form a coherent thought, Cosima cupped her cheek in with her now empty hand. She must have dropped the empty bottle, Delphine thought. “Delphine, would you marry me? Would be my family, like legitimately?”

Delphine looked down. In her outstretched hand, supported by Cosima’s slightly smaller hand, was a small, silver band, glimmering in the light of the street lanterns. Was this really happening, was Cosima proposing to her? Delphine stared at their hands, not only was Cosima asking her to marry her, but she had been carrying that ring around for who knows how long. In a bottle of pills Delphine had made for her, how oddly romantic.

Swallowing, Delphine closed her hand around the ring. It was cold in her sweaty palm. She looked back up, meeting Cosima’s intent gaze. The smaller woman was looking at her with such adoration and devotion. The lights behind Cosima became star shaped, distorted by the tears in Delphine’s eyes. As she felt her chin trembling, Delphine did not trust herself to give Cosima an audible answer.

Instead she opted for a kiss. Their lips crashed together, as Delphine frantically tried to convey her emotions towards Cosima. With her free hand she pulled Cosima closer. Before either of them could deepen the kiss, Delphine pulled back. She leaned her forehead to Cosima’s, gazing in her eyes for a moment.

“Is that a yes?” Cosima asked, breathlessly.

“Yes,” Delphine nodded fervently. Tears were steaming down her face; nevertheless her mouth was stretched in a painfully wide smile. “Yes, that’s definitely a yes.”

Cosima peeled Delphine’s fingers open and picked the ring up. With a concentrated frown, Cosima fit the ring snugly around Delphine’s finger.

As soon as Cosima was finished, Delphine held her hand up in the sparse light coming through the window. The small band was barely visible, but Delphine could definitely feel its presence.

It felt comfortable, warm and above all, it felt familiar.

When Delphine was finally able to tear her gaze away from her hand, she noticed Cosima observing her. Her fiancé’s tongue was poking between her teeth, her lips pulled into that trademark grin.

Using her newly ringed hand, Delphine pushed her fiancé down onto the mattress. She used her other hand to pull the sheet up, covering them both.