Chapter 1: On the sudden appearance of groups of allied species
This is my first fic, so please let me know what you think.
Any feedback is much appreciated!
M rating for future chapters: violence, language, smut and drug use.
(None of those is in great detail)
She felt as if she had only just fallen asleep. A quick glance at the alarm clock on her bedside table confirmed this theory. The red numbers indicated that it was a little past four in the morning. She hadn’t turned off the lights until almost three, studying the copy of the book and the part that Rachel translated, trying to come up with a cure for the clone disease. The left side of her bed was riddled with papers and articles covered in scribbles and theories. Somewhere within that pile of paperwork her phone was ringing loudly.
Turning on the lamp on the right side of the bed, she sat up. She quickly found her phone and looked at the screen. It was Sarah. Panicking she pressed the green button. “Sarah, what happened? Is she all right?”
“Delphine, chill. I’m not calling about Cosima, she’s fine as far as I know,” came Sarah’s voice from the speaker. “I’m calling about someone else.”
Delphine let out a breath and leaned back. Looking at her clock she suddenly understood Sarah’s reason for calling at this insane hour, “You found the Castor original in London.”
On the other end of the line Sarah said something to someone else, Delphine couldn’t quite catch what she was saying. She pulled the covers that had slid off her body up, sat back and waited for Sarah to return to the conversation.
After listening to the incomprehensible murmur coming from her phone for a minute. Then Delphine heard Sarah apologizing and asking how she knew they were in London. Expecting this question Delphine explained quickly what Cosima had told her and informed Sarah of the call she received from Ferdinand a few hours ago. “Both Topside and the military wants the Castor original, Sarah. They’ll will both be coming after you and they will find you.”
“Shite, we’re already on our way back to Toronto,” came Sarah’s answer. “We can’t fight of both Castor and Topside!”
Chewing on her bottom lip Delphine took a moment to think, both the military and Topside were too strong for her to fight. Despite the fact that she was ‘director’ of the DYAD institute, she possessed very little actual power. Up till now she had negotiated and bluffed her way towards her goal, keeping Leda safe and finding a cure for Cosima. And she had not been very successful at either.
Sarah’s voice interrupted Delphine’s thoughts, “Coady is too dangerous, the original can't fall into the hands of the military.”
Slowly Delphine nodded, a plan forming. “But we need the original as well, so we can’t hand the original over to Topside for safekeeping.” Scrolling through her agenda the plan began to take shape. “Will you be back in time to meet me at my office at 10 am, Sarah?” Delphine asked the clone on the other end of the line: “I have a plan.”
Ferdinand was scheduled to arrive any moment now. Delphine had discussed her plan with Sarah thoroughly and was assured repeatedly by Sarah that Kendall Malone was save, for now. Despite the fact that she would love to meet and examine the original, Delphine realised that it was probably saver that she didn’t know where Kendall was. Ferdinand was not happy, and he would be even more mad when he found out what they were planning. Delphine had known since she first chose Cosima over DYAD that it would become dangerous. She had been ignoring her own unsafe position, in the hope that nobody would be interested enough in her to seriously harm her. But now she could no longer ignore her lack of personal protection, she was not ready to die a martyr so far from home. Not while she still had so much work to do.
From around the corner she could hear the ding of the elevator, hurriedly she pulled the gun out of her top drawer and tucked it in her jacket. Delphine closed her jacket and stood up just in time as Ferdinand and what she presumed was his bodyguard arrived in her office.
“Dr. Cormier,” said Ferdinand in a stiff tone.
“Hello, Ferdinand.” Walking over to where he was standing Delphine greeted him, “Could you leave your man outside, please?”
This only elicited a sarcastic laugh from the man, the bodyguard did not move from his spot next to the entrance. “I’m impressed, Delphine. You eliminated Rachel, and Sarah’s done what no one else could, found the original.” He said while walking further into her office. “All I found was a council house, burned to the ground. No casualties, thank goodness. No trace of any organic material at all.” He looked right at her in an attempt to intimidate her: “Ever wonder if you’re overplaying your hand?”
A chill went up Delphine’s spine, it took all she had not to give into his games. Straightening her back and narrowing her eyes the tall woman looked down on him and coolly said, “Constantly.”
His cold smile faltered. “Delphine, there is nowhere I like to be more than under the heel of a woman, but sometime it makes me seethe. Rachel was special. She was so… beautifully brittle.” He paused shortly and continued in a more authoritative voice, “I want the original. Once I return her to Topside, I’ll have my own seat at the table. And then you can toil under my heel. How’s that?”
With a smile of triumph Delphine answered quickly: “That’s not how it’s going to work, Ferdinand.” He had told her exactly what they had expected him to say, playing right into their hands. Delphine motioned for him to turn around, where Sarah had appeared from her hiding place.
Ferdinand appeared genuinely surprised, “Miss Manning!”
Sarah grinned at Delphine as she walked towards Ferdinand. “I’m gonna give you one chance at a deal,” she told Ferdinand resolutely. Delphine casually strolled back towards her desk, backing Sarah up.
“You’ve become quite the player, haven’t you? Last time I saw you, you were shackled in the basement,” Ferdinand sneered at Sarah.
“Was I?” Sarah lifted her chin, put on a posh British accent and said, “You’ve come all this way across the pond. Why not try some local colour?”
Delphine noticed Ferdinand’s intrigued look. “Who’s a dirty clone?” he whispered.
“You are,” said the clone triumphantly.
Ferdinand’s eyes narrowed as he inspected Sarah. Then he chuckled at the two conspiring woman and said pointing at Sarah, “You two. That was you? All the time? As Rachel?”
Sarah and Delphine exchanged a quick look, it was time to get down to business.
Ignoring Ferdinand’s questions Sarah said, “You’re not getting Kendall Malone, all you need is biological samples.”
“With her genome, Topside can finally reproduce Duncan’s cloning trails.” Delphine quickly explained to a very confused looking Ferdinand.
“But I want Castor dead,” warned Sarah.
“You’re the lesser of two evils, Ferdinand. Virginia Coady is trying to weaponize their pathogen, but, without her science, without the original, Castor dies out,” added Delphine walking towards him.
“I can get Coady for you. But if you cause any bullshit, Malone is incinerated. Every cell,” Sarah explained to him. If all would go according to plan, Topside would eliminate project Castor for them in exchange for a small blood and tissue sample. A small price to pay in exchange for Coady’s demise.
Ferdinand did not seem to trust them though. “You would not kill Leda’s only chance of a cure,” he said.
“I’m immune,” came the clones answer.
Delphine knew that Sarah wanted a cure for Cosima almost as much as she did. But Ferdinand did not need to know that. And maybe he didn’t, or perhaps he decided to take the opportunity either way, because after some negotiating on the details he agreed with their terms.
Chapter 2: Complex relations of all
Cosima walked up the last flight of stairs and paused a moment to catch her breath. Only a month she wouldn't have thought climbing two floors would be such a challenge. But she was out of air so quickly lately, it was only a matter of time before she would start coughing up blood again.
Once her breathing had evened out, the clone focused on the task ahead. Which would be much more challenging than those stairs. Despite the fact that she still couldn't completely trust her girlfriend, Shay didn’t deserve whatever exactly her ex had done to her. And since it was Cosima who had accused Shay of betraying them to Castor, it was only fair that she at least attempted to apologize to her.
When she arrived at Shay’s door, Cosima paused again. This time to slow down her thoughts instead of her breath. The brilliant scientist had no clue what to say, since the truth was absolutely not an option and she was a terrible liar. Before she’d time to change her mind and leave, Cosima knocked on the door, “Shay, it’s me.”
From inside the apartment Cosima could hear heels walking towards the door. “Are you with your psycho girlfriend?” came Shay’s voice angrily.
This wasn’t a very good start. Looking down at her feet Cosima told the woman behind the door that she was alone. The door opened just a crack and Shay looked at her so very hurt. Cosima hurried to apologize, before the smaller blonde would slam the door in her face. “I’m sorry. I know you didn’t do anything,” she said.
“So I’m not a corporate spy now?” asked Shay with a sarcastic laugh, not opening the door any further.
“Delphine just… We work on classified science. We have a lot of reasons to be paranoid.” Cosima stammered, not having the time to come up with a more elaborate explanation for the behaviour of her ex.
“Reasons?” again Shay laughed sarcastically, shaking her head. “She’s insane. You know that? She told me she was going to open my veins and let me bleed out in my bath.” She walked into her apartment back to the kitchen area.
“What?” The clone stared at Shay, not completely comprehending what she was just told. Delphine was of course not as sweet and innocent as she appeared to be. Cosima knew that had to be true, the French woman was part of an illegal human cloning trail after all. Still, for her to threaten to murder someone, just because they might have been a danger to Cosima, that seemed quite unlikely. Yet somehow Cosima didn’t doubt that Shay was telling her the truth. Opening the door further and letting herself in Cosima attempted to apologize, “I don’t even know what to say to that, I’m sorry.”
Immediately Shay threw her an angry glance, continuing her work in the kitchen. “Yeah, I bet you don’t.”
Seeing that saying sorry was not helping at all, Cosima decided that it was time to get some answers for herself. “Why didn’t you tell me you’re in the military, Shay?” she asked cautiously.
Shay turned around, “She do a background check on me?”
“You're not practicing Chinese medicine, are you?”
Leaning on the countertop Shay responded, “No, I quit that too. I’m just an R.M.T.”
Cosima sighed, trying to understand why the blonde would lie about being in the military if not to spy on her. “Why would you lie about that?” she asked.
“Because we met on Sapphire, a dating app, where you fluff up your profile. Reinvent yourself, you know? For that I’m a liar? Because, really, I think from day one, you’ve been the liar. I have. I have, like no clue who you really are, do I?” came Shay’s angry response.
Those words hit the clone hard. Not only was Shay very right, Cosima realised that that she’d never be able to date anyone hiding her identity. And even someone who was supposed to be casual, a scratching post, would get hurt knowing what she was. Or, like Shay, even without knowing, it just wasn’t fair. Wearily Cosima shook her head, “I wish I could tell you.”
Shay noticed her broken voice and the tears in her eyes, because her voice softened a bit. “So tell me. Just… Just tell me,” she said while walking over to where Cosima was standing.
For a moment Cosima stared into Shay’s eyes, considering to do just that. Knowing very well that it was just not an option she whispered, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“Just go.” Was Shay’s immediate response. As Cosima hesitated, she repeated a little more forcefully, “Go.”
Understanding that it was no use, that they would never be together, Cosima walked away. Feeling oddly relieved, at least now she would not have to watch every word she said. And if she was entirely honest, she probably would not miss Shay very much after all. Not that she didn’t care for her, she did, but Cosima found her thoughts wandering to another blond woman every time she was with Shay. ‘Perhaps it is better this way.’ she thought while walking down those stairs that cost her so much trouble going up.
Chapter 3: Difficulty of distinguishing between variations
This is the first chapter that will deviate (a little) from the series, let me know what you think!
Since Rachel returned from her little expedition to Mrs. Sadler home, Delphine had only seen her once. Dr. Nealon had shown her the unconscious clone and told her what had happened. They had gone over the brain scans together and concluded that Rachel most likely would not wake up anytime soon. Tired and angry Delphine had stormed off to give those two idiots that caused this mess a piece of her mind. Of course she had softened as soon as she saw Cosima, and let them both off far too easily.
Every day since she had told Dr. Nealon that she wanted to examine Rachel more thoroughly herself. And he had assured her time and again that there was no change in the clone’s situation. Still, she found his complete lack of elaboration on Rachel’s health very suspicious. So after she’d said goodbye to Sarah and Ferdinand the scientist went to Rachel’s room and demanded Dr. Nealon let her see the clone and the results of all the tests he’d preformed on her.
Now they were standing next to a very fragile looking clone, with her head wrapped in bandages, in a hospital gown and connected to so many wires. Seeing this small woman, looking so much like the woman she loved, in such a state broke Delphine’s heart. Reminding herself that the clone in the bed wasn’t Cosima did not help very much, it could have been the geeky scientist after all. It would be the geeky scientist in very similar state within a few weeks, months at most, if they couldn’t find a cure for the clone disease soon. Distracted Delphine scrolled through the brain scans on the tablet Dr. Nealon had handed her. Almost she didn’t notice, these were exactly the same scans they’d made the day Rachel was shot with a pencil by Sarah! The date had been changed, but there was no doubt that the wound was still fresh in these images.
Somehow Delphine had to convince Dr. Nealon had to leave her alone with the clone, so she’d be able to examine her without being asked questions. “Ferdinand thinks Rachel is dead,” Delphine said, looking at Dr. Nealon for a reaction, “And he’s poking around.”
He did not appear to be alarmed by this information at all. “I’ll have her moved to a private facility.” he stated, appearing almost bored.
Desperate for him to leave, the French doctor said, “Right away, please.”
The other scientist could not ignore such a direct order. She was after all still his boss. He started walking towards the door, hesitantly looking back at her before exiting. Delphine looked intently at the scans on the tablet, pretending she was reading them.
As soon as she heard the door close, the moved to take a closer look at Rachel’s face. It looked identical to Cosima’s when she was asleep, apart from the bandages and the lack of dreadlocks. ‘What exactly is wrong with you and why would Nealon hide it from me?’ wondered Delphine. Looking down at the clone’s arm to inspect her IV, Delphine noticed her left hand. The doctor picked the hand up and took a closer look at it. When did Rachel get such a manicure? Apart from her nearly fatal excursion, she’d been locked up at the DYAD institute for weeks. Considering the clone’s disability after the brain injury, it was impossible that she had painted her own nails like that.
Then it hit her, she was on the floor and her cheek was burning. In the bed Rachel was suddenly sitting upright, gasping and yelling, “Oh my God!” Delphine touched her painful cheek and pushed her hair out of her face. Confused she looked at the clone who was in full panic mode in the bed. She got up and rushed over to Rachel, pushing her down on the bed. “Rachel, I need you to calm down,” she told the clone firmly. Delphine pressed the call button, yelling to the nurse for some help.
Meanwhile Rachel had not calmed down at all, she was trying to get up and speaking not very clearly. Delphine shushed and held her down, moving so wildly could damage the injured clone’s brain even more.
“You’re that doctor from, from the salon!” said Rachel in an uncharacteristically high pitched voice.
Delphine looked at Rachel’s face, trying to understand the chaotic situation. “What?”
“You’re the family doctor,” said the clone in that same voice, gesturing wildly.
Suddenly Delphine realized; this wasn’t Rachel. How could she not have seen it sooner. Dr. Nealon’s weird behaviour, the old scans and the elaborate pink manicure. Rachel had somehow performed the ultimate clone switch and Dr. Nealon was definitely in on it. And in the bed was the poor, innocent beautician. Delphine took a step back and said, “Krystal?”
Now she’d finally been let go, Krystal sat up. “What am I doing here? Why am I here?” She was gesturing wildly, tugging on the numerous wires she was still connected to. Delphine tried to calm her down, so she could take a closer look, but the clone would not hold still, “What’s happening? What happened to my eye?” She reached to touch her face.
Delphine grabbed her hand. She had no idea how far Dr. Nealon had gone in order to disguise Krystal as Rachel. But the French doctor didn’t put it past him to actually remove her eye. They’d abducted the innocent clone and sedated her in order to pass her of as Rachel after all . Of course Krystal was unaware of all of this and kept asking what was going on, and what had happened to her eye. Delphine wanted nothing more than to figure just that out, but Krystal had to calm down first, “Lie down for me again.”
“Dr. Cormier!” said a voice behind her.
“What?” Looking for the source, Delphine looked around and noticed the nurse she’d just called for.
“Should I get Dr. Nealon?” asked the nurse.
‘Merde, he can’t know that I know!’ thought Delphine. “No, no. Please, just wait outside and do not tell Nealon,” she said, looking as strict as she could in her confused state.
The nurse left the room, closing the door behind her.
“Am I blind?” asked Krystal her in a high pitched voice, clearly panicking.
“Relax,” tried Delphine.
“Am I blind?” asked Krystal again waving her arms.
“Just lie down,” Delphine said, pushing the clone back onto the bed.
“What happened?” the clone was clearly not relaxing.
Delphine looked into her eyes and told her to breathe. “We’re going to look at it okay? Just breathe for me, relax.” Finally the clone seemed to calm down a bit. At least she stopped flailing her arms and trying to get up. This gave the doctor a change to peel back the bandage over her eye. There was a familiar, brown eye looking back at her. Delphine let out a relieved breath and leaned back a little.
“Oh my God!” Krystal waved her hands in front of her face. “Oh my God, I can see.”
Delphine rolled her eyes in disbelief at the ridiculous situation. “You’re fine.”
“No, I’m not fine! Why do weird things keep happening to me? What’s in my nose?” Krystal looked at Delphine, she was in full panic mode again. “What’s in my nose?”
Delphine sighted, the clone was right. This was weird and unfair. And that cannula was not necessary at all. She picked up her phone and called security, “I want you to find Dr. Nealon and bring him to room A.003. Search him, chain him down. You’re not to leave him out of your sight, am I making myself clear?” Hanging up she walked to the door and asked the nurse, who was still waiting outside, to go and retrieve her bag for her from her office.
Now that Dr. Nealon had been taken care of, Delphine could focus on the poor clone first. Krystal was sitting again and looked very scared and confused. Delphine removed the cannula and told her, “I’m very sorry you got dragged into this mess.” She started to remove the IV and said, “I’ll get you out of here and somewhere save, but first I have to make sure you’re all right. I promise I’ll explain later, okay?”
Krystal nodded, it was obvious she had a million questions and was not okay at all. But to her credit she kept still and let Delphine take a look at her. The French doctor proceeded check Krystal’s pupils, her pulse and breathing. The clone appeared to be completely fine, her heart-rate was slightly elevated, but Delphine assumed that was due to the stressful situation. It bothered her slightly that she didn’t know how Krystal had been sedated, why she’d suddenly woken up, or whether there would be aftereffects. There was nothing she could do to figure this out at the present moment, considering her limited time and recourses.
Just Delphine was helping Krystal walk around the room in order to get the stiffness out of her limbs there was a loud knock on the door. The nurse entered and handed Delphine her bag. “Anything else I can do for you, Dr. Cormier?”
Not knowing whether the nurse was in on the complot, Delphine abruptly told the nurse to leave. She pulled a change of clothes out of her purse. Lately she’d been pulling all-nighters so often, that she now always carried a clean outfit with her. “You can put these on. They will be too large for you, but they’re better than that cold hospital gown,” she said as she handed them to Krystal.
The clone took the bundle and started by pulling on the socks. “Are you going to tell me what is happening now?”
Delphine turned around to give Krystal a bit of privacy. Looking to the other contents of her bag she said, “You don’t want to know what is going on here, Krystal.” She found one of her business-cards and grabbed a pen. “You’re in a really dangerous position. It would be better if you just hide and knew nothing.” Writing down two series of numbers on the card, she waited.
“You can turn around now.” The sleeves of her blouse were flapping around and her pants were slowly slipping down from the clone’s hips. “Do you have, like, a comb or something.” Krystal asked as she was trying to brush her hair with her fingers.
“Sorry, not right now,” Delphine answered. She took of the belt she was wearing and handed it to Krystal. Her own pants fit good enough to stay in place.
As Krystal was fumbling with the belt, Delphine said, “I understand that you want to know what happened to you.” She moved over to help her roll up the sleeves. “Once you get somewhere save, you can call this number.” She put her business-card into the clone’s hand. “Tell this person what it reads on the other side of the card, you can trust her.”
“Can’t you just tell me right now?” Krystal asked. Delphine noticed the tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, but we really don’t have the time. It’s very complicated, and I have to talk to the doctor that put you in that bed.” Delphine opened the door and motioned for the clone to follow her.
Chapter 4: Geometrical ratio of increase
The closer she got to the address Sarah had given her, the more nervous Cosima became. As Scott said hello, she could barely hear him through the pounding of her heart. Her friend asked whether she was okay but the clone could barely register his question, let alone what her answer was. She was about to meet The Original, the cure to the disease that was slowly killing her and besides all that a biologically very interesting specimen.
Cosima greeted Mrs. S while exchanging her red coat for a white lab coat. Siobhan led her towards the tent Scott had set up earlier. The clone took a long, curious look at the person that had provided the genetic material that she was created from. The woman, packed in a white suit to prevent her from scattering biological material, looked nothing like her clones.
“I’m not going to let one of them touch my blood!” she didn't sound like any of the clones either.
“Blood and tissue, in fact,” corrected Siobhan immediately.
“Look at this one. Like a pikey with that hair. Another pikey bloody doctor, stealing my genes like Duncan,” said Malone after taking one look at Cosima in her lab coat. Her fierce statement cause Cosima to smile nervously. “Oi, you think it’s funny? You think I’m a laugh?” Cosima instantly realised that it would not be easy to get Kendall Malone to cooperate. The woman was obviously angry at them for abducting her and demanding her genetic material. The scientist understood that she would have to use all her charm to persuade Malone to give her what she needed. That or hold her down and take it by force.
“No, no, not at all,” replied Cosima cautiously. “I think that we should get you out of this suit, because it’s totally unnecessary.” She set down her bag on the table waving her hands in an apologetic gesture.
The Irish woman gasped and looked irritated at her daughter. “Oh, it’s unnecessary for me to look like a bloody fool?”
In an attempt to divert the attention, Cosima introduced herself to the mad woman and asked for permission to help her out of the suit. After having done just that she tried to win over the woman with an awkward attempt to make her feel included, “You know, um, your clones, we call each other sister.”
Malone didn’t fall for her trick and replied harshly, “Call yourselves what you want. You’re just a bad copy of me.”
Not shocked by the answer the scientist started to take the equipment out of her bag. “Yeah, we’re kinda over the whole ‘bad copy’ thing. It’s way more accurate for us to call you older sister.”
“Touch me and I’ll gut you,” sneered Malone.
This caused Siobhan to walk towards the pair, planning some sort of interference. Cosima sensed that the hostile relationship between the two would certainly not help the tense situation, so she told Siobhan that would be alright. Mrs. S did not appear to be so certain of the matter, but after some persuasion from the scientist she walked away to wait outside with Scott.
The older Irish woman did not seem be more accommodating now that her daughter was out of sight, “I don’t owe you nothin’.”
“No, no. In fact, I owe you. You gave me the stuff of life,” the clone agreed with her, in a last attempt to win the original over. Appealing to her soft side Cosima continued: “And you're the closest thing I’ll ever get to a cure. So could you give as sister a little blood?” She put on her saddest puppy eyes, hoping that the original would perhaps take pity on her. Malone looked at her for a moment, and quietly extended her left arm.
“Awesome, thank you.” Before Malone would change her mind, Cosima swiftly took her samples and placed them in her bag. Thanking Malone once more, Cosima rushed out of the depressing, sterile tent. Mrs. S was not to be keen to let her mother alone; she went back into the tent as soon as she noticed the scientist had collected the samples.
Cosima walked over to Scott and handed him the duplicates of the samples. He would keep those safe at his place, and she would run back to Felix’ loft and stash her half of the samples in his fridge. Though they agreed that it was not the cleanest place to preserve them, there was no better place to keep them since they no longer had a completely equipped lab at their disposal. Unless she’d return to DYAD, there was no way the clone could use these precious samples to develop a cure either. For now Felix’ fridge would have to do for safekeeping and they would figure out what to do with them later.
Chapter 5: Struggle for existence
Delphine had put Krystal in a cab, and had given her some cash to pay for the ride and a hotel room for a few nights. She had urged the clone repeatedly to lay low and call the number on the business-card once she’d some time to calm down.
Back in her office Delphine accessed Krystal’s bank account. Straight away she found the purchase of a one-way ticket to Vienna and a receipt from a private hospital in Innsbruck. The receipt did not mention what the clone had paid for, only the checkout time, which was two days after Delphine had allowed Rachel to ‘escape’. It seemed almost too simple, they’d not even tried to hide Rachel’s location. Whoever had arranged this trip for the clone, had not expected anyone to find out and go digging. Further investigation told Delphine that Rachel had been picked up by a car at the airport in Vienna. Which made sense, since Rachel was unable to walk, let alone to drive 500 kilometres. Who had arranged all this and how they’d pulled it off right under her eyes, Delphine could not figure out. Only one person could tell her this now, it was time to have a chat with Dr. Nealon.
With her briefcase in one hand and a printout of the information she’d just found, Delphine walked towards room A.003. She took the stairs in order to buy some time in order to collect herself. Only yesterday she’d attempted to pry information out of a presumed spy. And despite the fact that she’d not physically hurt Shay, Delphine felt nauseous at the memory alone. Even though Delphine had done, what she at the time believed had to be done, in order to keep Cosima safe, she could not shake the immense feeling of guilt. She felt she had crossed a line she had never even thought of crossing, and now she was about to go there again. Dr. Nealon was not likely to give her the information she needed. Delphine knew very well that this time she would probably have to use that razor blade and cross another line, one from which there would be no return.
Once she arrived at the ground floor, the immunologist straightened her shoulders and put on a grim face. Taking large strides, she made her way to the wing where her colleague was tied up. As she walked into the room, the two security-guards moved to wait outside.
Delphine placed her briefcase on the table and turned towards Dr. Nealon. Not looking at him, but at the papers in her hand, she said, “We know Rachel flew to Austria as Krystal Goderitch. She took a car to Innsbruck, was admitted to a private hospital…” only then she looked at the man sitting in front of her, “… and disappeared.”
Despite his precarious position, Dr. Nealon showed no signs of distress. He looked up at Dr. Cormier and said, “You’ll never understand anything, Delphine, unless you adjust your frame.”
His condescending statement made Delphine furious. She threw the papers on the table, next to her briefcase and tried to contain herself. Losing her temper so quickly would only show him that she was easily manipulable. So instead of yelling at him, she told him in a controlled voice, “Tell me who you work with.”
“Turn on the screen.”
Delphine eyed the man in the chair suspiciously, what could he possibly want to show her. Before she could even ask, he said, “You won’t be disappointed.”
His self-confidence did not reassure the immunologist. Assuming that there would be no harm in taking a look what he wanted to show her, Delphine turned back to the table and picked up the remote. She pressed the on button. A large room was displayed, in the room a distressed clone in a wheelchair was calling out, “Where am I? Who’s keeping me here?”
Dr. Nealon triumphantly observed Delphine’s reaction. “We were there from the very beginning.” In the background Rachel continued to shout. “Topside pursues its profits, the military pursues its weapons. We steer it all from within,” he continued.
These vague comments confirmed what the French doctor had already guessed. “Neolution.”
His confirmation, a small nod, was enough for Delphine. “Neolution is nothing but pop-science. I did my time with Aldous.” Having seen first-hand the possibilities of genetic manipulation, she didn’t even believe herself as she said it. Of course the Neolutionists had a bigger agenda, if only she knew what they wanted.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Dr. Nealon’s answer. “Leekie was a useful face for seeding ideas, but we run far deeper than that. We’ve infiltrated and maneuvered all the players in this experiment since day one. Castor and Leda are our Adam and Eve.” He looked up at her triumphantly. A chill went down her spine, the fact that he was sharing all this information with her was probably not a very good sign.
“Soon, Delphine, Topside will unknowingly deliver the genome right into our waiting hands.”
Of course the Neolutionists wanted the original genome. Was there anyone left that didn’t want the original? The real question was; what did Neolution intend to do with the genome? Looking down on the devout Neolutionist, Delphine asked, “To what end?”
He chuckled, still not at all appearing uneasy with his situation. “Wherever you think the science is at, I guarantee you’re wrong.”
In another vain effort to conceal her own discomfort and intimidate Dr. Nealon, Delphine walked towards him and whispered, “I don’t believe you.”
“We have a place for you. It’s a one-time offer.”
Delphine shook her head, she had no intention of switching teams again. Dr. Nealon was firmly in her grip and once she was done with him, she would clean up the mess that was Neolution. “You’re finished,” she said firmly as she turned and walked towards the door. Looking out into the corridor she called for the guards.
She wondered briefly ‘Why are they not standing at their posts just outside the door?’ Before she could call again, Delphine heard something behind her. The guards had not chained the Neolutionist to the chair and now his hands were wrapped around her neck. He pressed her down onto the table, leaning his whole weight on her. His mouth was bloody, why was he bleeding? Delphine screamed and struggled to get free. Pushing his chest and shoulders while trying to gain grip on the ground.
It was no use, he was heavy and much stronger than she was. Delphine was starting to see black spots at the edges of her vision, his grip on her throat was surprisingly firm. Using her wits instead of physical strength, she remembered the gun she had tucked in her jacket this morning. Thankfully she’d forgotten to put it back in the drawer after Ferdinand had left. Struggling to get her hand between her own chest and Dr. Nealon’s, she found the grip of the gun. She didn’t have time to aim properly, but he was so awfully close, it didn’t matter.
As soon as her finger pulled the trigger, he flung back. Dr. Nealon was lying flat on the ground. Still alive, but clearly dying. Her heart beating fast, Delphine scrambled to get up rapidly and aimed the gun at the man on the floor. She took a few deep breaths, pushed her hair back and wiped the blood from her face. ‘Why was he bleeding, I didn’t hit him did I?’ Delphine was not entirely sure what had happened in the moments between her calling for the guards and shooting the Neolutionist, but she was pretty sure she did not hit him in the mouth.
Still aiming the gun at him, she walked towards him. Taking a closer lookat his face, she noticed something slithering back into his mouth. It was definitely not his tongue, it looked more like a worm.
“You won’t life till morning,” said Dr. Nealon with visible struggle. His breathing became more and more shallow until it stopped completely.
It was only then that Delphine was able to shake of her state of bewilderment. Despite the fact that he was obviously dead, she did not question Dr. Nealon’s final words. Unless she took matters in her own hands, someone would be coming for her very soon. But first she had to warn Sarah not to hand over the original genome to Topside, and subsequently to Neolution. And she had to take a look at what on earth that thing in Dr. Nealon’s mouth was. Only then, she could take precautions for her inevitable assassination.
She kneeled next the man on the floor and checked for a pulse. When she could not find anything, Delphine put the gun back into her pocket. She got up and walked towards the table. Her hands were shaking when she opened her briefcase. She was a doctor, she was supposed to heal, to save lives, not to take them. Taking a few deep breaths to steady her hands, she took out the small medical kit and her phone.
Stooping down next to the corpse, she called Sarah. With the phone on speaker next to her, she took a set of forceps and her flashlight out of the medical kit. Delphine opened Dr. Nealon’s mouth and it proved not difficult to catch the thing that was still moving around in there.
Delphine was just taking a closer look at the maggot she was holding between the forceps, when Sarah finally picked up the phone. “Yeah?”
“Sarah?” Delphine put down the flashlight and picked up her phone. “Sarah, you cannot give the genetic material to Ferdinand.” Despite the urgency of the message, Delphine could not take her eyes of the thing in her hand. She had no clue at all, what it was or what its purpose was.
Sarah’s answer came with a delay and she sounded clearly confused. “Why not?”
“Because both Leda and Castor are run by Neolution.” Delphine had no time to explain everything that had happened, but at the same time she was painfully aware that this might be her last chance to talk to Sarah. Hoping that she’d have the opportunity to elaborate later, the doctor continued, “Look, we’re all part of a larger agenda. Ferdinand’s just a pawn to get them the original genome. Tell him Rachel’s alive and that Neolution has her.
“All right,” said Sarah, and she hung up the phone.
Delphine had to trust that the clone would figure out what to do. For now her priority was to get out of the DYAD building, preferably alive. She’d be of no use to the Leda sisters dead. Delphine put her phone in back in her pocket. She grabbed a test-tube out of her medical kit and placed the still wriggling maggot inside. To be extra sure, she then placed wrapped the tube in a plastic bag meant for samples and put this in her kit with the forceps and the flashlight.
Gathering her belongings she took one last look at the corpse. The guards must have been bribed by Neolution, Delphine realised. They’d not chained Dr. Nealon as she’d specifically requested and they’d allowed him to prepare a livestream of Rachel. At least she could be sure that they would take care of the body. Considering everything that had happened in this building, she’d not have to be afraid of legal prosecution.
Again Delphine took the stairs, this time to avoid running into anyone. She reached her office and quickly gathered her things; a few papers, her laptop containing most of the information and more importantly, a few samples. She walked out of her office, with her coat completely buttoned up, hiding most of the blood on her clothes. Krystal had her spare clothes after all. She reached the elevator, having both her purse and laptop bag slung over her shoulder. She carried her briefcase in her left hand, and balanced the cooling box with the samples on her right arm.
“Parking, please,” she smiled sweetly at her colleague, already standing in the elevator. He pressed the button for her and offered to carry some of her burden. Delphine smiled that same sweet smile, “Thank you, but I’ve got it.”
The parking garage was empty, and apart from some struggle to open her car door, Delphine got out of the building without any trouble.
Chapter 6: The law of unity of type
Helena and Cosima carried the groceries from the minivan into the back of the soap store. They piled all of the produce on the counters between the soap, chemicals and wrapping material.
Two hours ago Helena had called her saying that she wanted to have a dinner party for the Clone club. At first Cosima thought she’d misunderstood the Ukrainian, over the phone her accent appeared almost worse than in person. But when Helena explained that she wanted to have dinner with all her sestras, Cosima was completely on board.
With the lesbian drama, her illness and the worries about her sisters, Cosima could definitely use a break from all the stress. Seeing everyone together would be a very nice distraction, it was definitely one of Helena’s better ideas. Ever since Cosima hastily abandoned her apartment in Minneapolis, she’d not cooked a proper meal. Felix’ kitchen was simply not equipped for more than a quickly thrown together meal. So Cosima had called Alison and borrowed the Hendrix’ minivan and went grocery shopping with Helena.
Helena started to unpack the food while she munched on the stem of the broccoli they’d just bought. Frowning at her sister, her sister texted the rest of the Clone club, telling them to come to Bubbles for supper in about two hours. Cosima decided to include Art and Scott in the mix. They had both helped the Leda sisters so much lately, inviting them for dinner was the least they could do for the two lonely bachelors. Donnie and Alison already knew of course, they would come over as soon as the campaigning was done.
A little later, Cosima was preparing the beef on one of the burners which was technically meant for soap. Despite the fact that she had not eaten meat since she moved out of her parents’ home, Cosima still knew very well how to prepare it.
Helena was standing at the other side of the kitchen, still working on her babka cake. She was having the time of her life. The apron she was wearing was covered in flour and she was singing along to the radio they’d turned on a while ago. During the songs she did not know, she told Cosima all about her boyfriend. ‘At least one of us is getting it on.’ Her sister’s happiness gave Cosima some hope for herself.
“Hello sestras!” Felix boomed as he suddenly entered.
Sarah came in after him, carrying a couple of bottles of red wine. Cosima turned down the radio and welcomed them.
After giving both clones a quick hug, Felix plopped down in a chair next to Helena and stretched his legs. Helena immediately started to explain to him the fine details of making a perfect babka cake. “You pull here, and then you fold like this, yes?” Helena told him, as she was stretching the dough and folding it over and over again.
Cosima turned back to Sarah, “How did it go with Topside?”
“Shite, you haven’t heard. Your ex totally saved our lives! Again.” Sarah sat down on the counter next to Cosima.
“What!? Which one?”
Sarah looked at Cosima, “What do you mean which one?”
The scientist suddenly realized that her sister didn’t know she was dating Shay, let alone that they’d broken up. “You remember that friend, where I was staying when we were skyping the other day. We broke up this morning. Turns out that when your ex-girlfriend threatens to kill current girlfriends because you think that she might be a spy, it is kind of a deal breaker.” Cosima smiled sadly at her sister on the countertop.
“Holy shite, Delphine must really love you!” Sarah grabbed a carrot and started to eat it.
Giving her sister an angry look, Cosima said, “What do you mean? She broke up with me the day after I almost died!” The clone didn’t really feel like discussing her love-life right now, it still hurt too much.
“Don’t you think she did that to keep you safe? I mean, she’s risking her life working with DYAD and Topside. And if it wasn’t for her we all would’ve been dead two weeks ago with that Helsinki thing.” Sarah finished her carrot and started the next, “And today she could have totally just told Ferdinand what was going on. But she risked her live, lying for us and calling me when she found out wat was going on with Neolution. And I’ve not even gotten started on what she did your ‘friend’. Do you honestly think she enjoyed doing that, Cosima? We do terrible things for the people we love.”
Of course Cosima had known this all along. But it was so much easier to ignore it all. Hating Delphine was so much simpler than missing her. And sleeping with Shay was easier than spending every night alone at Felix’ couch. Now Shay was no longer distracting her, Cosima had to face the fact that she missed Delphine so very much. “So what would you do, Sarah? She still broke up with me. I can’t just, like, get back together with her.” Cosima gestured wildly to express her frustration.
Sarah frowned. “No, I get that. But maybe make sure she knows that you still care, you know?”
“Yes, love,” Felix contributed from his seat next to Helena. “I’m not Delphine’s biggest fan, but I have to agree with Sarah. Without her there would be no Clone club to have dinner with tonight.”
“I like her hairs!” Helena helpfully added as she was braiding the babka cake into its recognizable shape.
Seeing that there was no way around it, Cosima tilted her head and asked the group, “And how do you suggest I initiate a such a conversation. Just walk into her office, or something? Like, hey, I know what you did to keep us save. Thanks.”
“Yeah, maybe not like that. You could invite her over for supper. It looks like you’re making enough food,” Sarah said.
Felix sat a bit more upright, “You should totally do that. Then we can properly check her out for you.”
“I don’t think we’ll be getting back together, Fee,” Cosima told him, “Not after everything that has happened.” The scientist cleared her throat and took the ruffled, pink apron off. “I’m going to the restroom. Please don’t eat all those carrots, Sarah. We’re already short on broccoli because of your twin-sestra.”
In the bathroom, Cosima let out the cough she’d been holding for the last ten minutes. She was trying so hard to appear her happy, energetic self so her sisters wouldn’t worry so much. But in truth, she’d felt her body weakening every day. Thanks to the stem cell treatment from Kira’s tooth, she was still feeling much better than a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, she was going to need a more permanent cure and quickly. Since she no longer had a lab to work in, her chances of finding a cure had decreased enormously. Perhaps it was indeed time to make amends, just in case.
Cosima sat down on the toilet and pulled her phone out of her pocket. Sarah was right, even if Delphine would never be with her again, at least the hot French doctor should know Cosima still cared for her. She opened a fresh text to Delphine and stared at the blank screen. ‘How do you casually invite the ex that risked her live for you, to a dinner with three of your clone sisters?’ Cosima wondered.
Her fingers tapped on the screen, ‘Hey, you wanna come over for dinner?’ No, that totally sounded like a date.
Erasing the message, Cosima started over,‘Hi, if you’re not busy, would you like to have dinner with the Clone club?’ Also wrong, of course Delphine had no one to have dinner with. She was all alone, far from home. ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid’ thought Cosima.
Finally she settled on a simple, ‘Hey, Clone club is having dinner at Bubbles tonight. You’re also invited.’ Cosima hit send before she could change her mind again.
She got up from the toilet and put her phone down next to the sink. Cosima took off her glasses and cleaned them. She washed her hands and splashed some water in her face. Before she put her glasses back on she took a quick look at her eyeliner. It looked perfect as usual. Cosima straightened her jacket and rearranged her dreads.
On the countertop her phone buzzed, it was a text from Delphine. Quickly, Cosima unlocked her screen to read her reply.
“You won’t live till morning.” The words kept echoing around in her head. Delphine kept driving. Taking random turns, left and right. She hardly looked at her surroundings, driving faster than she should. Her thoughts were everywhere. Delphine desperately needed a plan if she wanted to life to fight another day. And she did. To her own surprise, for the first time in her life Delphine dreaded death. Never before had she been afraid of the great unknown.
“You won’t live till morning.” Only a few weeks ago she would have welcomed the thought of no longer having to struggle every day. After that first attempt on her own life in the bathtub, Delphine hadn’t tried again. Not because she didn’t want to, but because her parents had been so mad at her. Not even sad, just very angry. So she had done wat good girls should do; she studied hard. And that was all she did, she was good at it after all. Within no time she became a doctor and had a promising career. Besides her interest in the science, her life was bland, passionless.
“You won’t live till morning.” And now the thought having to die filled her with fear. She had things to do. For the first time she’d know was it was like to love, to be loved. In hindsight it was so silly that she’d never wanted love. That she’d used her body as a tool, to advance her career. Instead of for her own pleasure. But now she’d had a taste of love, she wanted more. And to save her love she’d have to find a way to keep living.
“You won’t live till morning.” They would come after her. As long as she was still using this car it would be easy. It was most definitely being tracked by DYAD, and thus also by Neolution. Delphine decided that she would find a hiding place. With the samples in the box next to her, the data on her laptop, and most importantly the copy of The Island of Dr. Monreau she would have plenty to do without a lab.
The only problem was that her copy of the book was still hidden at her apartment. Though it was probably not save, Delphine had to try and retrieve it.
Delphine walked out of the elevator, nervously clutching the gun inside her pocket and her keys in her other hand. She had left all her further things in the car. Turning the corner, Delphine reached her apartment. Without hesitating she opened the door and turned on the light.
“You won’t live till morning.” Hastily she locked the door and took the gun out of her pocket. Weak on her feet and sweating nervously in the thick, woollen coat, she proceeded to check every dark corner, cupboard, closet, under her bed and behind the couch. Nothing. Nobody.
As she walked back to the bedroom, Delphine finally took off her coat. She sat down on the edge of the bed and took of her jacket and shoes. Deep down she wanted to lie down, hide under the covers. But there was no time. She had to disappear, and hiding under a blanket would not stop Neolution from finding her.
Getting up from the bed, Delphine moved into the bathroom. She put the gun down next to the sink and looked into the mirror. There was still blood in her hair, down her neck and on her blouse. She hardly recognized her own face. The woman in the mirror looked so harsh. “Qu'est-ce que tu as fait?” Delphine whispered.
“Je tué un homme” answered the stranger looking back at her. With trembling hands Delphine unbuttoned the blouse and let it slide to the floor. Still staring at herself in the mirror, she dropped her pants and underwear on the same pile, not bothering to dump anything in the laundry basket. Delphine stepped in the shower, turning up the water to scalding temperature. Harshly she scrubbed herself from head to toe, and washed her hair thoroughly.
After the fastest shower of her life, Delphine dried herself off and went to her closet. She quickly grabbed some underwear and put it on. She found her suitcase at the back of her closet and put it down on the bed. She threw some random clothes and shoes in the suitcase while getting dressed. When the suitcase was almost full and Delphine was fully dressed, she went back into the bathroom. Taking another look at the face in the mirror, Delphine brushed her teeth and hair. Deciding against drying her hair, she put on a little make-up and tucked the gun in the pocket of her clean jacket.
Back in the bedroom, Delphine put some toiletries in the suitcase. From underneath the pillow she grabbed the copy of The Island of Dr. Monreau, and tucked in between two pairs of pants. She closed the suitcase and put her shoes and coat back on. She’d been in her apartment for 15 minutes only, but she’d been in one place for too long. “You won’t life till morning.”
Once she’d returned to the garage, she put the suitcase in the car she’d bought last week. The same way she’d obtained the gun; Delphine had used a fake name, and paid cash. Hopefully nobody had discovered the white car yet. Back to the car DYAD had bought her, she grabbed her laptop bag and the briefcase and placed those two in her own car as well.
She sat down behind the wheel of the blue vehicle, taking her purse from the seat beside her. Delphine gently placed the small cooling box in her bag. If she suddenly had to run, she could leave everything behind, but not this. It was simply too precious.
Before she started the car, Delphine took a minute to check the messages on her phone for the last time. Some e-mails from DYAD, one from Scott and a text message from Cosima. Ignoring the e-mails, she opened the message from Cosima.
An invitation to a dinner with the Clone club. Delphine could feel her heart breaking. For so long she’d fought for the Leda sister, not expecting anything in return. And now, when it was too late, she received that invitation. It felt so amazing. It hurt so bad. There was no way Delphine could go sit down with them, it would only endanger the sisters.
‘I’ll see if I can make it.’ she answered and pulled the battery out of her phone. Maybe she’d go see Cosima one last time. Be a little selfish, for once. There’d be no harm if she was quick right? But first there was something else she should do, to make sure Cosima would be happy and save once she was gone.
Delphine walked up the last flight of stairs and paused a moment. She really did not want to continue. She knew it would be for the best, it would make Cosima happy.
When she arrived at Shay’s door, Delphine paused again. Maybe she should not meddle in their relationship. She’d already done so much harm, how would she ever fix what she’d broken? Before she’d time to change her mind and leave, Delphine knocked on the door.
Shay opened the door. As soon as she recognized Delphine she said alarmed, “Go, before I call the police,” and attempted to close the door again.
“Shay, please.” Delphine pushed the door to keep it from closing. She understood the reaction from the woman. Hell, she was afraid of herself sometimes these days. But Delphine had no time for delays and there was something she needed to say. “I don’t need to come in. Just hear me out.” Delphine put her hands up in a gesture she hoped was would reassure the woman that she did not intend to harm her.
Her words, and gesture seemed to work. At least Shay did not close the door any further. “I know what I did was unforgivable, but I also know that Cosima really cares for you. And I think… I think you two fit.” Saying that last sentence broke her heart. But if she was not going to be here for Cosima, at least the clone would have someone else to support her.
“I don’t give a damn what you think,” Shay answered quickly, obviously she wanted Delphine gone.
Delphine decided that it would be best to get it over with even faster, “Just know this. I won’t be in your way anymore.” That statement made the smaller woman look up at her with surprise. “But it has to begin with the truth. I want you to give her this.” Delphine reached into her pocket and pulled out one of her business-cards. Before she had gotten out of the car, she’d written ‘324B21’ on the back. Delphine held it out to Shay, who grabbed it without looking at it.
“And tell her that I said to tell you everything. If she wants to, it’s her decision.” If Shay knew what was going on, perhaps she’d be able to love Cosima the way the clone deserved. That was if Cosima wanted to tell her, of course.
It took all the strength Delphine had left to look Shay in the eyes and force a smile, “Be good to her.”
Shay looked back at her, angry and confused. Not knowing what else to say, Delphine turned around before she’d burst into tears.
Understanding that giving Shay and Cosima the chance to make up, to be together, would most likely mean that Delphine would never be with Cosima again, never to kiss her again, to laugh with her again, never to make love to her again, Delphine walked away. Even if she was to somehow survive and be able to return to Cosima one day, the clone wouldn’t be waiting for her. ‘I’ll go see her one last time, even if it kills me.’ She thought while stumbling down the stairs through a mist of tears.
French is obviously not my first language (neither is English, in case you haven't noticed), so if you see any errors please let me know so I can correct them! And let me know what you think so far, I'd like some feedback :)
Chapter 8: On the intercrossing of individuals
As soon as Alison and Donnie arrived, Cosima and Helena were thrown out of the storage-room. They had made a huge mess in the improvised kitchen, and Alison did not approve. For some reason she thought that just because the store was hers, she was allowed to kick them out.
Since most of the dinner was done anyway, Cosima let Alison finish. If that was what her sister needed to distress from a day of campaigning, she was happy to give it to her. Helena was more reluctant; apparently after two hours the Babka cake was still not finished. In some sort of harmony the two clones were finishing preparing the meal in the storage-room, while the others were chatting over the first bottle of wine in the front room of the store.
Felix was talking with Mrs. S and Sarah about Kira. They were planning on flying to Iceland after dinner with Malone, while Felix would finally be able to catch a breath. Donnie was setting the table and just as Cosima had decided that she’d give him a hand, Scott arrived.
Cosima forgot all about the table and enthusiastically greeted her friend. After spending all afternoon with Helena, Cosima was dying to discuss the biological goldmine that was The Original. Scott shared her fascination of the science.
Since dinner was about to start they sat down, while continuing their discussion about chimeras and the biological consequences of splitting the cell lines. Scott and Cosima were not too wrapped up in their discussion to not notice that Donnie and Felix were mocking them behind their backs. Luckily the two scientists were used to being made fun of for their geeky behaviour. And since Donnie complimented the beef Cosima had just prepared, all she did was smile at them and shut up about the science.
At the same time, Sarah stood up to toast in Beth’s honour. Cosima, along with the others, raised her glass for their sister that didn’t make it. She exchanged a look with Alison, who was obviously also thinking of the day Beth had called them both. To Cosima it seemed years ago that she’d learned what they truly were, yet somehow it had been less than six months. Alison had of course gone in complete denial for months, Beth was confused, but Cosima had been fascinated by the revelations.
She’d learned more about genetics in the past six months than during all her studies at Berkley. Cosima had moved closer to her sisters in order to learn even more. But Alison was too scared and Beth had been losing it from the very start, so until she had met Delphine Cosima had been kind of alone and stuck with the science.
Cosima’s mind turned to Delphine, despite her promise to let her know if she would be coming, Cosima had not heard from Delphine. Alison was talking about her trustee thingy, and Cosima turned politely towards her clone. Her head still with Delphine, how was she going to let her know she was sorry about the way she’d treated her?
“…to Donnie, my amazing husband, for always doing what’s best and standing by me through it all,” Alison finished her speech, rewarded with a collective aww from the Clone club.
“Okay, everybody eat up.”
The Clone club started their meals, apart from Helena, who had already eaten half of the food on her plate. Alison awkwardly attempted to involve Helena into conversation about the Babka cake, but Helena was more interested in the rest of her dinner.
Just as Cosima was about to continue her earlier conversation with Scott, her clone-phone vibrated with an incoming text from an unknown caller. ‘I’m here. Would you meet me outside? x Delphine.’
Cosima frowned and showed her phone to Felix, who was already peeking over her shoulder. He didn’t seem to think it was weird that Delphine wouldn’t just come inside. “Just go talk to her,” he said.
So Cosima got up and put on her red coat and hat. According to Art, who’d arrived last, it had become quite cold outside.
Delphine was standing there, with her back to the store looking out into the street. Her gorgeous blonde hair glowed in the streetlight. Despite the fact that she was much taller than the tiny clone, especially with those heels on, she looked so small and vulnerable standing on the cold sidewalk in the desolated street.
When the door closed behind Cosima, Delphine turned around quickly. She looked frightened, as if she wasn’t supposed to be there. Cosima wondered whether that was the reason why Delphine hadn’t come inside the store. She quickly tried to reassure her that she was welcome, “Hey, you came.”
“Yeah, unfortunately I… I can’t stay,” Delphine answered as she walked closer towards Cosima.
“Oh…” Delphine looked so tired. Cosima wanted nothing more than to give her a long hug and maybe make her sit down for a minute inside the warm store. “…just for a little bit?”
“No, I’m sorry,” Delphine shook her head and looked around with those large doe-eyes. “I need you to keep the sequenced genome safe and Kendall Malone far away.”
‘What is she so afraid of?’ wondered Cosima. Delphine should know that the military was disabled for now, and immunologist worked for Topside, so she’d not have to fear them either. “Yeah, I think Mrs. S is really good at that stuff, so she’s got a plan,” Cosima tried to ease Delphine’s worries.
Delphine appeared to relax a bit, “Okay,” she nodded softly.
Delphine didn’t look so tough at the moment, it seemed to Cosima as if she had come down from that insane power trip. “I know why you did everything you did.” Cosima decided to make use of the situation. “To Shay and everything.” The clone had trouble to find the words to apologize for her insensitivity, as she had only today realized what her ex-girlfriend had given up by breaking up with her. “I’m sorry I made you make those hard choices and then…”
Delphine looked at her with tears in her eyes, but Cosima only noticed the sweet smile appearing. “… and then blamed you for them.”
Delphine’s smiled widened as a few tears rolled down her face. Cosima felt a gloved hand softly caressing her cheek. Not exactly what she’d been expecting. Cosima had hoped that she could perhaps convince Delphine to open up. But despite the fact that the blonde was finally showing the clone her soft side again, she seemed to be hiding even more from Cosima.
Cosima looked up at Delphine, waiting for a more verbal reaction to what she had just said. Delphine bit her lip in the way Cosima had seen her do a hundred times and leaned forward, softly puling Cosima upwards with her gloved hands around her face.
The kiss was so gentle, so sweet. Cosima could feel all the sorrow and regret pouring in. Before she had the chance to wrap her brain around what was happening, Delphine pulled back. “Give your sisters all my love.”
Was she saying goodbye? Did she leave DYAD? If she were, why wouldn’t she just stay? Was she going back to France? Unable to comprehend the reasons behind the request, Cosima stared at Delphine, waiting for an elaboration.
All the taller woman did was give her a loving smile as she brushed her fingers over Cosima’s lips. Then with an expression as if she was walking towards the gallows, Delphine turned around and entered her car. Before Cosima could try to stop her, Delphine was gone.
She waited for a few minutes, taking a couple of cold breaths to collect herself before re-joining the dinner party inside.
The others were almost done with the main course. Felix wanted to know everything that had happened of course, but Cosima was in no mood for all his questions. She had a million questions herself and dismissed his interrogation with a few short answers and finished her supper quietly.
Mrs. S and Sarah had left; they had a flight to catch after all. Felix was giving them a ride to pick up Malone and bring them to the airport. Scott had to go as well. He had to give his cat her medicine he said as he’d excused himself shortly after the three others had departed.
Alison and Donnie were in the storage-room, cleaning the mess, or so they said. Helena was talking to Art about her boyfriend and Cosima listened half to their conversation. She was staring at her phone, impatiently waiting for a reply. She had texted Delphine on her old number and on the unknown number to ask if everything was okay. Almost an hour later, there had been no answer. Cosima was just about to call, when a text arrived on her regular phone.
‘Your mad ex was here again’
Read the message from Shay. Before Cosima could reply another text appeared. This time it was an image. It showed a blurry picture of the back of a DYAD business card with, in Delphine’s handwriting, her own tag-number.
‘She said to tell you to tell me everything’
‘and gave me this’
The messages poured in. Cosima had no time to reply in between. The business card was obviously from Delphine, but why would she want Cosima to tell Shay everything? Surely the DYAD director did not mean everything about the illegal cloning trail, about the military clones and the Topside involvement? ‘Can I come over to talk?’ Cosima replied. This would buy her some time to consider what she should tell Shay, and figure out what Delphine was up to. First that strange tearful encounter outside in the cold and now this message from Shay, something was definitely off.
‘K’ came Shay’s immediate answer.
Cosima got up from the table and knocked on the door to the storage-room. “Hey guys, can I borrow your minivan for a little longer?”
“What?” Alison’s voice came muffled though the door. A little stumbling and the door opened. “What did you say?”
Cosima grinned and tilted her head. “Can I, like, borrow your car again tonight?”
“Sure, you still have the keys right?” Alison said with an odd high pitch to her voice.
“Yeah, I’ll return it tomorrow morning.”
“Great!” And the door closed again.
Cosima turned around and exchanged a look with Art. “I have to leave as well, sorry.”
Neither Art nor Helena thought it was odd that Cosima would leave so suddenly. They both said goodbye and continued their conversation.
Cosima almost ran outside and got into the red van. There was no need to worry the others. She was only going to have a quick talk with Shay and then go over to Delphine’s apartment for a long conversation. There were to many questions, and it was about time they would share all the information. And maybe share another kiss, Cosima grinned at the possibility.
Chapter 9: Struggle for life most severe
Delphine got into the car and hit the gas as soon as she was seated. Going to see Cosima had been an incredible stupid idea. They might have followed her to the store. She might have led them right to Cosima and to the Leda sisters. Delphine turned around the corner without looking in the mirror; the tears were already streaming down her face. Looking back would definitely cause her to break down and she had no time for that now.
Her first priority was to switch cars. The one waiting for her in the garage was untraceable, and would get her somewhere same. Then she could break down properly and finally get some rest before getting back to working on deciphering the book.
Since she’d never been to this part of Toronto before tonight, her surroundings were quite hard to place. Through the blur of her tears Delphine could not read the signs as she drove past them. Within minutes Delphine was lost in suburbia. ‘Merde!’ she swore silently, this was not a convenient moment to get lost.
She pulled over and rested her head on the wheel for a bit. Saying goodbye to Cosima had not gone according to the plan. She had not intended to kiss the clone, but when Cosima had apologized and looked up at her with those eyes full of regret, Delphine had been so overwhelmed that she was kissing Cosima before she even knew it.
Of course she had pulled away and run off before she’d do anything even more stupid. Like staying. Or telling Cosima about Dr. Nealon’s threat. If she would have done that Cosima would of course have wanted to help her and that would endanger her as well. So now Delphine was sitting in the parked car on a random suburban street in Toronto, sobbing and hiccupping.
Every time Delphine almost managed to pull herself together, the tears would start all over again. It was most likely that she’d not see any of the clones again, even if she managed to survive. If she was lucky, she would be able to decipher The Island of Dr. Monreau, and create a cure for the clone disease. And if she would manage to cure project Leda, Neolution would have another reason to hunt her down.
Someone walked by the car. A lady with her dog, they stopped a few metres in front of the car as she let the dog do its business. Neither of them noticed Delphine looking at them. But the sudden movement had startled Delphine out of her hysteric state. Drying her face with her sleeve, she looked at the clock on her dashboard. Somehow it had been almost an hour since she had left Cosima on the sidewalk next to Bubbles.
Delphine waited a few minutes until the woman and her dog had moved on, and then turned the car back on. She drove quickly down the road, since she had lost too much valuable time already. Now her head was clear and her vision not so blurry, she recognized her surroundings. Backtracking a few roads, she passed a street she had used on her way over to Bubbles. Immediately she was able to figure out the way back to her apartment building.
Delphine drove through the rows of cars, looking for her parking spot. Silently scolding herself for losing so much time with her breakdown. It was very dark outside and she was already over an hour behind on schedule. There should have been almost a hundred miles between her and Toronto by now. But instead she was still in the company owned car in her own parking garage, ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid.’
She quickly pulled into her spot and turned of the engine. The only thing Delphine did before leaving the car was putting the battery back in her own cell phone. This way anyone tracking it would assume she was at home.
In her desperate attempt to make up for lost time she grabbed her bag and got out of the car. Her private, untraceable get-away vehicle was only 50 meters away.
Delphine’s heels were clicking on the asphalt, heavily echoing in the empty garage.
Not echoing, Delphine suddenly realized as she looked back. The steps were heavier than her own. In the hopes that it was just another resident, she increased her pace trying to reach her car.
It was no use to run, the sound came closer. Whoever it belonged to was walking directly towards her. Delphine stopped walking and closed her eyes. A soft sight escaped her lips, if only she had not gone to see Cosima. If only she had not broken down in tears. If only she had left this afternoon when she had transferred her bags into the car that was parked only a meter away from where she was standing. She could have escaped.
All that valuable data in sitting in the car in front of her and the samples in her purse, they would fall into the hands of Neolution. Now she would not be able to find a cure, Cosima would have to do it all by herself. Without the cypher and without the samples, it was almost impossible.
Delphine set her bag down, so the fragile test tubes inside would not break. Turning around to face the person that hade come to terminate her, she immediately recognized him.
She looked him up and down. Despite the fact that he looked terrified and was obviously not used to holding a gun, Delphine did not doubt for a minute that he would use it on her. It all made sense now, how he’d found out about the clones. Why he had surrendered to Rudy so easily. Scott must have been a Neolutionist all along; they had placed him next to Cosima even before she was monitoring Cosima.
Delphine sighted, ‘Cosima…’ Delphine had thought that Scott cared about the clone.
“What will happen to her?”
By breaking the silence, she had also broken the spell they were under. Scott seemed to remember what he was supposed to be doing in the basement garage, aiming a gun at his former boss. Without answering her question, he pulled the trigger.
Delphine didn't see the bullet, nor heard the gun going off. There was no pain, only shock as she stumbled backwards into the car that should have gotten her to safety.
She looked down, surprised at the red that spreading rapidly against her white blouse. In a state of shock she didn’t register the severity of the wound. Her entire body had gone numb; her legs could no longer hold her weight. Yet somehow a doctor’s instinct caused her hand to move to her chest and apply some pressure to slow the bleeding.
She was breathing heavily. Her ears were ringing, and black spots were dancing before her eyes. The only thing Delphine was able to perceive was the intense smell of blood. Not her life flashing by, no light at the end of the tunnel, no visions of her soulmate. Perhaps she was not dying small voice deep inside her head told her. But the louder doctor voice told her that a shot in the liver would mean she would bleed out in a matter of minutes.
Either way, Scott was standing in front of her now. Aiming the gun at her heart to finish her off, and from this distance he would not miss like the first time.
Stunned Delphine looked up at him, silently begging him to make it quick.
But Scott suddenly looked up, as if he had heard something. He turned around and walked away.
Confused Delphine looked into the direction he had turned his head. She did not hear anything save for the violent ringing in her ears. The sudden movement of her head caused the last clear parts of her vision to become dark as well. She tried to yell, hoping that there was indeed someone in the garage that could help her.
Delphine could see again. Cosima was stroking her cheek asking her to come back for her. The car, the bag, the ringing sound, the smell of iron, the whole garage had disappeared. She was floating in a soft light. If this was dying, it was not so bad at all…
Chapter 10: Means of dispersal
This is where the story continues after the ending of season 3.
Let me know what you think of it so far and what you'd like to see in future chapters!
It had been weeks since Cosima had been actually happy.
Ever since Cosima and Scott had build the device that left Rachel severely injured, things had become increasingly dark. At first, to Cosima the whole clone issue had seemed like an interesting experiment on human biology, but recently it turned into a nightmare.
After Delphine had left her, Cosima had been shaken out of the bubble she had been living in. Suddenly she felt the effects of Leda’s struggles with the military and DYAD, Beth’s absence, and most importantly of her own failing health.
Now that Delphine had initiated a kiss, when there was another chance to be with her, Cosima was starting to feel better. Sure there was a tickle at the back of her throat, but she had samples of The Original. With some help of the brilliant immunologist, a cure was no longer a remote concept.
Grinning and humming along with the radio, Cosima stopped in front of a red light. She was very close to Delphine’s apartment. Maybe she should go there first. The thought was tempting, but Cosima did not give into it. First she would talk to Shay. She would tell her that they were experimenting with genetically modified human DNA. Technically it was not a lie; it would explain the secretive behaviour. It was enough information for a clean break with Shay, without endangering the innocent woman.
Cosima passed by the building that contained Delphine’s apartment. She had been inside only once. Most of the time they had preferred the relative privacy at Felix’ loft, where at least they knew who was listening in.
The minivan pulled into a parking spot outside a few doors down from where Shay lived. Cosima closed her red coat pulled her beanie over her dreads. Before she exited the car, she took a quick look at her phone to see if Delphine had answered.
The icon in the top left corner indicated two missed calls. As she opened the messages, Cosima noticed that it was an unknown caller. A different number than the one Delphine had used earlier. Briefly Cosima wondered what was up with all these strange numbers. It had to be Delphine; besides the Clone club no one else knew this number. And her sisters’ numbers were all programmed into her own clone phone. Even Helena had her own blue phone as of this morning.
Cosima got out of the minivan and locked it behind her. As she walked over to the entrance of the building, she pressed the call button to see what Delphine wanted.
“Hello?” this was definitely not Delphine’s voice it sounded more like Alison’s.
“Hey, Alison. What’s up?”
“Uh, my name is Krystal,” the woman at the other end of the line answered. “Krystal Goderitch.”
With her hand on the door, Cosima stopped. ‘Oh, no.’ Felix had told Cosima all about their road trip to steal the identity of the beautician clone. Sarah had been very quiet about their newfound sister. But Felix had felt so shit about it, especially because of what happened to Rachel afterwards. He had told Cosima about the notebook and her boyfriends and her fear of twins and clowns. Both brother and sister had been very convinced that the blonde clone was unaware of all the twins she had. ‘How in the world did she get this number?’
“The family doctor told me you could, like explain what is going on. With my eye and Hector and everything. And she told me to hide,” Krystal said stumbling over her words.
“What? Slow down please.” Cosima stepped back from the door to let a middle-aged man outside. “Which doctor? Who is Hector?”
The voice of on the other side of the line took a deep breath. “Hector is like my boyfriend, I mean was… Now he’s gone.” As she spoke, Krystal’s voice became higher pitched. She was clearly very upset. Cosima did not understand half of what she was saying.
“Krystal, who gave you this number?” Cosima asked. Perhaps Felix had given Cosima’s number to the clone. But why would he give Cosima’s number, and not his own or Sarah’s? It didn’t add up.
“The family doctor with the French accent. She was super sweet and she helped me escape.”
“Dr. Cormier?” Cosima asked. ‘Escape, from where?’ Snow started to fall, slowly but very cold in combination with the relentless wind. Cosima walked back towards the car. Shay would have to wait. With Sarah gone, it was up to Cosima to figure this mess out.
“I don’t know, she never said her name.”
Cosima sighted, it had to be Delphine. Only one doctor with a French accent had her number. But how had Delphine met the beautician clone?
“Oh!” exclaimed Krystal suddenly, “She gave me this card with a code that I should tell you. Uhm, let me check.”
Sitting back down in the minivan, Cosima turned her clone phone to speaker and grabbed her other phone. Quickly she texted Shay that she might be a bit later, something had come up.
Krystal’s voice came back, “3 2 4 8 2 1…. Wait no; I think that’s a B. I don’t know, it’s all smudged.”
“Okay, we should probably talk in person. Where are you now, Krystal?” Cosima decided that it was time to initiate another sister into clone club. Whatever had happened to Krystal, she was obviously already involved. And as history had proven, the best way to break the news that someone is a clone was to meet face to face with another one. Cosima desperately wanted to know what had happened to Krystal, but it could wait until after they had met.
Much more worrisome was the fact that apparently Delphine was running around town, spilling all their secrets. First Shay, and now another clone. In addition to the moment they had just shared outside Bubbles, Cosima was starting to get anxious to talk to Delphine. If only she would pick up her phone.
Krystal gave the name of a small hotel just outside downtown Toronto. “But how will I know who you are?”
“Trust me, you will recognize me. Don’t worry; I’ll be there in like an hour, tops. Okay?” Cosima reassured the clone and said goodbye.
She typed in the address of the hotel into the GPS, and saw that it was only about 15 minutes away. Cosima decided to take the long way round; there was something else she wanted to do first.
The snow was falling heavily by the time Cosima pulled up in front of the expensive apartment building. She let out a cough and made up her mind to park in the basement garage. That way she wouldn’t look like a wet cat, knocking on Delphine’s door. Hopefully the French doctor was at home, Cosima desperately wanted to know why Delphine was acting so strange.
She drove down into the garage, and towards where she thought the parking spot assigned to Delphine was. Cosima was exceptionally good at remembering numbers, she had no problem recalling the passcode to the garage, but directions and locations were another matter. She didn’t recall the exact location of the parking spot; so instead she parked the minivan in the first empty spot she saw.
Cosima got out of the car started towards the elevator. When she was halfway the desolated garage, someone suddenly walked away from between cars a little to Cosima’s left. The sudden movement in the empty basement startled Cosima; she had assumed that she was all alone. Whoever it was seemed to be in a hurry and was gone before Cosima had been able to see whom it was.
Just as Cosima started walking again she heard a sound coming from the direction where she had first spotted the stranger. It was a soft sound, something in between a moan and a scream. Cosima stopped, she wanted to go upstairs to Delphine. She had promised to meet Krystal in about 40 minutes, and she really did not want to be late this time.
Cosima backed up a bit, and walked in between the two cars parked to her left. The sound had stopped, but something was definitely there. Cosima saw someone’s legs twitching on the floor behind the white car she was walking around.
The high-heeled shoes looked familiar to Cosima. She increased her pace to a small sprint as she rounded the corner. As she had feared the moment she spotted the feet, it was Delphine.
She was lying on the floor behind the car, the trunk of which was covered in blood. Delphine’s white blouse was drenched in blood and she was no longer moving.
The clone stared at the woman she had shared a kiss with little over an hour ago. Delphine was now lying on the floor, in a puddle of blood. Cosima was unable to move. What had happened? Was she still alive? Who had been the man walking away?
“Delphine!” Cosima fell on her knees next to her. Her own heartbeat pounding in her ears, She pressed her hand to the side Delphine’s throat, checking for a pulse. It was very faint, but unmistakably still there.
She let out a breath of relief; Delphine was still alive. Cosima grabbed her phone from her pocket to call an ambulance. As she was about to press the call button, she realised that if Castor or Topside were behind this attack, they would know that Delphine was still alive if she called. And they did not leave loose ends; they’d come for back for her.
She pressed the red button, frantically thinking of another way to get some help. Despite the fact that she was technically not a doctor, Cosima did now a lot about human anatomy. But in due to her panic, her brilliant mind was not working properly. All she could think of was the blonde dying in her arms.
Delphine made a small sound, something in between a whine and a moan. It seemed as if she tried to blink, but her eyes did not fully open and her head fell back on the concrete floor.
Cosima realized that if she did not pull herself together right now, Delphine might actually die. She looked down Delphine’s body to see how bad it really was; maybe an ambulance wasn’t necessary.
The unconscious woman had her hand pressed firmly just below her right breast. Judging by the amount of blood surrounding the hand, Cosima assumed the wound was located underneath Delphine’s hand. Cosima lifted her just enough to slide her own hand underneath Delphine. It was immediately covered in blood; it was save to assume that there was an exit wound.
Cosima looked up at the bloody car, a bullet was lodged a little above waist height. Delphine was obviously shot, and had lost a lot of blood. The exit wound was a good sign; there would be no bullet moving around inside her to do more damage. But Delphine would definitely need to be operated, and soon. Cosima picked her phone back up and called for help.
Chapter 11: The survival of the fittest
The first thing Delphine became aware of was the crushing weight on her chest. The pain that started on the right side of her torso seemed to radiate throughout her entire body; paralyzing her arms and legs and pounding in her head.
Unable to open her eyes, she noticed that she was moving. The steady rocking motion, as if she were on a boat, was making her very nauseous. Delphine moved her fingers, slowly and with great difficulty she flexed them a bit. It was enough to become aware of the fact that she was lying down on a soft bed, covered in thick blankets.
Gradually Delphine’s body became more responsive as she woke up completely. Someone was stroking her hair. The steady rhythm made Delphine feel secure despite her confusion. As she relished in the gentle touch, Delphine felt herself slipping back into unconsciousness.
It was the smell that jolted her back to awareness. The unmistakable scent of Cosima, a combination of pot, red wine, books and her jasmine scented shower gel. How was Cosima here? Struggling to open her eyes, Delphine tried to remember where she was.
Delphine looked up at Cosima’s concerned face hovering over her own.
“Hey.” Cosima smiled at her. Her lightly swaying dreadlocks formed a small tent around their faces, hiding their surroundings from Delphine’s view. She was lying with her head in Cosima’s lap, who was still soothingly stroking her hair. “How are you feeling?”
Delphine stared up into Cosima’s eyes. She did understand the question, forming an answer was much harder. Delphine registered the pain and the nausea, but at the same she felt oddly detached from her body. She had no words, neither in English nor in French, for what exactly she was feeling.
“Ow,” her own voice sounded distant.
Cosima ginned that toothy grin, “Yeah, I bet.” She lifted her head, and sat up a bit straighter.
This allowed Delphine to see where they were. As she had concluded earlier, she was lying on a bed covered with several blankets. A few pillows surrounded her body, as if to keep her from moving. Her head was lying on Cosima’s thighs and the clone was sitting with her back against the wall to Delphine’s left side, with her legs stretched out.
Delphine tilted her head towards the right. A small window displayed a clear blue sky and occasionally a leafless tree. They were indeed moving. Delphine tried to sit up to see more of her surroundings, but a strong hand on her shoulder pushed her back down.
“Don’t move. You’ll only hurt yourself,” Cosima said gently. Her hand on Delphine’s shoulder moved upwards to cup her cheek. “Do you remember what happened?” Her thumb stroked Delphine’s cracked lips.
Delphine closed her eyes, taking a moment to consider this question. It was all coming back to her, the discovery of Rachel’s escape, of Krystal and Dr. Nealon’s involvement. How she had questioned him, his final words. Her talk with Shay and the tearful goodbye to Cosima. How she had tried to escape from Neolution and had been intercepted at the very last minute.
“He shot me,” she opened her eyes; Cosima was looking back at her, frowning.
The clone nodded. “Obvs. That bullet went straight through your liver.”
Cosima brought a bottle of water to Delphine’s lips, supporting Delphine’s head a bit so that she could carefully take a few sips. As she drank, Delphine realized how incredibly thirsty she was.
“I found you in the parking lot, totally unconscious in a puddle of blood.” Cosima pulled the bottle back and wiped a few drops from Delphine’s chin. She lifted the bottle to her own mouth and took a large mouthful. “Shay told me you came by her place, and then Krystal called. It didn’t make sense, so I came by to check on you.” Cosima was no longer looking at Delphine; she was staring out of the window. Her voice broke as she continued, “I thought you were dead, there was so much blood.”
Delphine stared at Cosima’s face. A few tears were rolling down from her cat-eyes. Delphine pulled her hand up from underneath the blanket and squeezed Cosima’s hand that was resting on her shoulder.
Cosima looked down at her. The tears started dripping from her chin, falling onto Delphine’s forehead. She set down the bottle and wiped the drops from Delphine’s face and then from her own. “I didn’t see the face of the guy who did it. I figured it was Topside or the military or something, so I couldn’t call an ambulance, they would find you. I didn’t know what to do, you were dying.” More tears were dripping down her face.
Delphine nodded, not knowing how to respond to that.
“I drove you to the paediatric hospital, the one where Kira’s bone marrow was harvested.” Cosima smiled at Delphine through her tears. “The same doctor that harvested Kira operated on you. It was super close, but you’re tough.”
So that was how she was still alive, because by some miracle Cosima had found her and had managed to get her to a private clinic where Neolution could not find her.
“Do they think I’m dead?” Delphine asked.
“Yeah, Ferdinand called while you were still in the OR to say you were confirmed dead,” Cosima waved her hands, regaining some of her usual cheerfulness. “He’s the new you. The new DYAD director.”
All this information was absolutely exhausting. Delphine closed her eyes again. She needed a moment to process everything. “Cosima, where are we?”
Cosima shifted her position again. “We couldn’t stay at the hospital. Mrs. S said we could trust her people there, but I really didn’t want Neolution to find you.” Cosima held up the water bottle again, offering Delphine some more. The injured woman nodded, allowing Cosima to help her drink some more. “As soon as we could move you, Art came with this RV. We’ve been driving for almost 24 hours, taking back roads.”
They looked at each other as Cosima put the cap back on the water bottle. Delphine gave Cosima a weak smile. Despite the pain she was glad that she was here, alive and with Cosima. The clone started to stroke her hair again. Delphine felt herself falling back to sleep under the soothing motion. Yet there was something, she couldn’t quite put her finger on what exactly, that she had to tell Cosima.
“Pauvre petit chiot,” apparently Cosima noticed that Delphine was fighting unconsciousness. “Go to sleep, I’ll watch over you.”
A sudden jolt woke Delphine up. Disoriented, she tried to sit up; a stabbing pain in her abdomen caused her to cry out.
“Hey, relax,” Cosima’s voice grounded Delphine immediately. Quickly, everything came back to her. The shooting, the conversation she had earlier with Cosima and the camper. It was almost dark outside; she must have slept for quite a while.
“Ladies, we have arrived,” at the foot of the bed stood a dark man with short hair and a serious face. He was wearing a wrinkled shirt and looked very tired.
“Cosima, could you walk ahead and open the door? I’ll carry her inside,” Art said.
“I can walk,” Delphine protested. She tried to sit up again, but the pain in her abdomen caused her to fall back onto the bed.
Cosima pressed a kiss to her forehead, “No, you can’t even sit. Besides you lost way too much blood. Let Art carry you, please.”
She did not enjoy being dependent on anyone for anything, and not being able to walk felt like a huge weakness to Delphine. The doctor in her reasoned that it was not wise for her to walk.
Looking at Cosima, Delphine realized that it was two against one. Defeated, Delphine nodded her consent.
The stranger bent over the bed and picked her up, blankets and all, as if she weighed nothing. He walked with her through the cramped space and waited for Cosima to open the tiny door for them. Once she had done so, Art followed. He carefully maneuvered Delphine through the door. Her shoulder hit the door, but it barely hurt compared to the pain in her midsection.
In spite of the pile of blankets, the cold air shocked her. Dazed, Delphine looked around, the sun was setting over the pine forest surrounding them. The area was completely quiet, except for the sound of a few birds. A bit in front of them Cosima was walking through a thick layer of snow, towards a small wooden cabin, that looked as if it was about to collapse.
The clone looked back at them and flashed Delphine a bright, encouraging smile. Despite her awkward position, Delphine instantly responded with a similar smile. This place didn’t look so bad after all.
Chapter 12: Acclimatisation
It was now completely dark, save for the oil lamp that was burning on the large, wooden table in the centre of the room. All Cosima could hear was the sound of the wind blowing around the isolated cabin. Delphine was sound asleep on the bed in the far corner, where Art had laid her down before he had drove off again.
Cosima had tried to convince him to rest for a little while, but Art had insisted that he was needed back in Toronto. Felix had called them several times during their trip here. Since Cosima had been a little busy saving Delphine, he had gone to find Krystal. Alison helped him break the news to her. The beautician with a fear of twins apparently took the news of her clones surprisingly well, and was staying with Felix, whom she trusted most of all.
Before he had left, Art had given Cosima an old gun of Beth’s and had explained to her how it worked. Now she was sitting on one of the hard, uncomfortable chairs, staring at the gun and listening to the wind.
Delphine was sleeping only a few feet away, but Cosima had never felt this alone in her life. Delphine might still be alive, but she was certainly not out of the woods yet. Moving her had not been smart, but staying would have meant a sure death for Delphine. Going by what Sarah and Ferdinand had told her, Cosima had figured out why Neolution had wanted the former DYAD director gone. Hopefully they would be safe here for a bit, at least until Delphine had regained some of her strength and they could figure out a more long-term plan.
Doing her very best to not disturb the sleeping woman, Cosima got up from the table. She walked over to the kitchen area and poked around in the cabinets. Luckily Art had stocked his cabin with an extraordinary amount of canned goods. In combination with the small stock of fresh produce they had brought with them, there should be more than enough to last the both of them for a week. Maybe longer if they were careful.
Cosima settled on a can of pea soup. It didn't look very appetizing, but she had not eaten since early this morning. She turned the stove on with a match and emptied the can in a saucepan. Turning on a second flame, Cosima put a large pan of water on it. A brook running behind the cabin was the only water they had. Art had claimed it was safe to drink, as long as they boiled it first.
Once her supper was heated sufficiently, Cosima ate the soup straight out of the pan. Now was not the moment for proper manners, she was famished and exhausted. After she had eaten her fill, she left the rest of the soup standing on the countertop.
The pan with water had been boiling for a while. Cosima took it off the stove and emptied half of the pan into a large bowl on the table. She added some cold water from the half full bucket standing next to the door.
Cosima stripped from the clothes she had been wearing for almost three days. She had exchanged the colourful jacket for a warmer sweater, but apart from that Cosima was still wearing the clothes she had put on for the dinner party at Bubbles.
She shivered; her entire body was covered in goose bumps. Putting her glasses on the table, Cosima grabbed a washcloth and started scrubbing. On her arms and knees there was still some dried up blood; trying not to think of how it got there, she rinsed the cloth in the water.
Despite the cold, Cosima took her time cleaning her body in the near dark. After the tiring journey, being able to eat and wash made the clone feel human again. Her skin glowed almost golden in the flickering light of the oil lamp.
“Have I died and gone to heaven?”
Startled by the sudden sound, Cosima turned around. Without her glasses and in the dark corner she could not see Delphine, but the voice was unmistakably hers. “How long have you been awake?” Cosima put her glasses back on and pulled an old shirt over her head.
“Long enough,” Delphine looked much more alert than when they had arrived at the cabin, her eyes were in focus and following Cosima’s movements. She lifted her head a bit and smiled at the half naked woman struggling to put some underwear on.
Cosima walked over to the bed, and sat down beside Delphine. She was shivering in the thin shirt; her skin still damp underneath it.
“You look a little better. How are you feeling?” Cosima pressed a hand to Delphine’s forehead to check her temperature. The French doctor might have proven to be tough, but she lost a lot of blood and was still very weak. A fever could be fatal; there was no car to get her to a hospital.
“I do feel a lot better.” Delphine looked over to the kitchen area, biting her lip, “I could eat.” She obviously smelt the leftover soup.
Encouraged by this, Cosima got up from the bed. It was definitely a good sign that Delphine was hungry. Cosima turned the stove back on and put the saucepan on the burner. It was not much, but it would probably be wise to test Delphine’s response to a small portion first. The injured woman had been unconscious for days; her stomach was completely empty and might reject the food.
Cosima poured the hot soup in a bowl, and picked a clean spoon out of the drawer. Delphine had laid her head back down on the pillow, but her eyes were still open and she was looking at Cosima walking over with the bowl in one hand and the lamp in the other.
As Delphine ate, Cosima sat silently on the edge of the bed observing her. It seemed to her that Delphine was responding well to the hot food. Some colour was returning to her cheeks, and her hand holding the spoon was getting progressively stable.
After Delphine had scraped the last bits out of the bowl and washed it down with a glass of water, Cosima brought the dishes to the kitchen.
“I should change your bandages,” Cosima said, returning to the bed with a small first aid kit the doctor had given her at the hospital along with instructions to change the bandages twice a day for the first week. The doctor had also given Cosima a supply of antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and a very generous amount of industrial strength painkillers.
Delphine pushed the blankets down to her hips. “Go ahead.” She was wearing an oversized men’s shirt and a pair of loose cotton pants under the blankets.
“Can I unbutton these?” Cosima pointed at the shirt.
Delphine nodded and Cosima started to undo them quickly. Aside from the bandages below Delphine’s right breast, she was naked underneath. Cosima smiled at Delphine, and focused on the task ahead.
Carefully Cosima peeled the bandages off, throwing them onto the floor. Delphine watched, biting her bottom lip.
“Sorry,” Cosima said frowning, not looking up from the wound. It was healing nicely; there was a dark bruise around the sutures, but there were no signs of inflammation or fresh blood.
Careful not to hurt the sensitive area, Cosima draped some sterile gauze over the wound. She used some medical tape to fasten the bandages and admired her handiwork. “Do you think you can roll onto your side for me?”
Delphine obliged without protest, though Cosima could see that it was hurting her more than she would tell. Quickly, to minimize Delphine’s pain as much as possible, Cosima repeated the process at the exit wound. Afterwards she helped Delphine turn onto her back again. Cosima buttoned up the shirt for her and pulled the blankets back up.
Cosima stood up, stretching her back, “Is there anything I can get for you? Painkillers? Something to help you sleep?”
“Non, merci.” The injured woman looked up at Cosima with a forced smile. “It hurts surprisingly little.”
“Yeah, that would be the morphine I gave you a while ago. Don't worry, it’ll totally hurt in the morning.” Cosima yawned.
Looking up at the tired clone standing next to the bed, Delphine lifted the blankets, inviting Cosima into the bed. “Come here,” she said, almost inaudible.
Not needing to be told twice, Cosima crawled into the bed. She tried her best to not touch Delphine for fear of hurting her, since she was lying next to Delphine’s injured side. Cosima put her glasses down on the nightstand and turned off the oil lamp. She pulled the blankets up to her chin and closed her eyes.
In the complete darkness she felt an arm sneak under her shoulders. Delphine pulled her closer, warming Cosima with her body.
“I missed you too,” Cosima whispered softly into the wavy hair.
A tender kiss was pressed onto her forehead. Cosima was absolutely certain that she would sleep like a baby in Delphine’s arms tonight.
This time it was the light that woke Delphine. The dust-speckled rays of sunshine were hitting her in her face, causing her to squeeze her eyes shut as soon as she had opened them. Slowly Delphine opened her eyes again, giving herself some time to get used to the bright light.
Once she could see again, Delphine took a look around the cabin. It was maybe 15 square metres; the bed she was lying in took up a large portion. The other half contained a table, a few chairs and some cabinets. A couple of bags were scattered on the floor; some of Cosima’s clothes were spilling out of them. On the table were piles of paper and books strewn. Cosima’s laptop was standing on top of this mess. Next to Delphine the bed was empty and cold; the clone was nowhere to be seen.
Delphine threw the blankets to the side, shuddering when the cold hit her. Carefully she pushed herself to a sitting position. A blinding pain caused her to nearly black out. Cosima had been right last night when she said the wound would hurt more in the morning, Delphine thought.
She spotted a medical bottle with a glass of water on the small nightstand next to the bed. Lifting the bottle to inspect the ingredient label, Delphine noticed that it contained fentanyl. She removed the cap and took one of the strong painkillers out of the bottle. Gratefully she washed the pill down with a large swallow of water.
She wondered where Cosima was. Delphine took another look around the cabin. Grinding her teeth, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and got up. Again she was seeing black spots. Delphine grabbed the nearest chair for support, allowing herself a moment to catch her breath.
As the spots disappeared, Delphine shuffled towards the next chair. A navy hoodie with a golden bear on the chest was draped across the back of the chair. She pulled it over her head. It was a tight fit but it warmed her instantly.
Delphine pushed the hair out of her face. Her curls had returned almost completely. She walked to the door. It wasn’t locked, and swung open as soon as she put her hand on it.
Fresh snow had fallen during the night. Delphine noticed that everything was covered in a 20 cm layer of snow. The only disturbance in the fresh pack of snow was a single file of footsteps, at the end of which Cosima was standing.
From her position in the door, Delphine observed the animated woman with a smile. Cosima was talking to someone on the phone. She was wearing an oversized pair of rain boots, and a thick woolen scarf over her regular clothes. The boots caused the clone to trip every few steps, almost landing her face first in the snow.
Cosima stood still with her back to Delphine, her head tilted, listening to the person on the other end of the line. She was oblivious to the silent observer, scratching her dreadlocks while considering something. “I’m sure Ferdinand is on our side. Just, like ask him for your job back.” Cosima’s voice drifted to Delphine.
Suddenly it hit Delphine; she remembered what she had wanted to tell Cosima. “Cosima!” she yelled, running towards the startled woman staring back at her, the phone still to her ear. It seemed to Delphine to take forever before she reached Cosima. “Hang up! Please, hang up!”
When she reached Cosima, the clone had not yet moved. Shocked by Delphine’s sudden outburst as well as the fact that she was literally up and running. “What?” Cosima asked as Delphine grabbed her by the shoulders.
Delphine did not answer. Panting, she seized Cosima’s phone and pulled out the battery.
“Hey, what the fuck!”
Again there was no answer from Delphine. She just threw the phone and the battery in the brook. The short sprint suddenly caught up to her, as the rush of adrenaline faded. Shooting Cosima a frustrated look, she sat down on the ground. The edges of her vision were black again. Delphine lowered her head to allow some blood into her brain
Slowly Delphine’s vision returned to normal, the snowy landscape stopped spinning. Her chest pounded, her feet were burning in the snow. The cold was seeping through her thin pants but Delphine could not bring herself to get up and move inside. She stared at Cosima’s knees, clad in colourful patterned thighs.
Cosima sank down, sitting on her heels. “What the fuck was that about? Are you all right? “
“That was a new phone. I was only talking to Scott.” Cosima tilted her head, trying to make sense of Delphine’s behaviour.
With shaking hands, Delphine reached out to Cosima. “It was Scott who shot me.”
“That's not funny, Delphine,” Cosima shook her head, refusing to believe her.
“I’m serious. He’s a Neolutionist.”
“You’re delirious.” Cosima grabbed Delphine’s arms, pulling her to her feet. “Let’s get you inside.”
Leaning on Cosima, Delphine let herself be guided back into the cabin. “I’m not delirious, it was really him.”
Cosima helped Delphine sit down on one of the chairs. “No, it can’t be. Not Scott,” she said stubbornly.
Delphine shook her head. “It was. He looked me right in the eyes as he shot me.” She shuddered, thinking back to the way Scott had come closer after he first shot her, determined to finish the job. “Think about it Cosima.”
Cosima sat down in the chair next to Delphine. She looked deep into Delphine’s eyes, for any sign that the French woman was joking, delirious, or simply mistaken. When she realized that Delphine was dead serious, Cosima buried her head in her hands. “I’m so stupid. I trusted him,” she mumbled.
Gently wrapping her arms around the heartbroken clone, Delphine whispered, “Je suis désolée.” She didn’t know what else to say. As far as she knew, Scott had been the only friend Cosima had in Canada before meeting Delphine. That was apart from the other Leda clones of course.
They sat in that silent hug for a while, taking comfort in each other’s company. It was the growling of Delphine’s stomach that pushed them to move again.
“Breakfast?” Cosima asked, finding it easier to ignore the harsh betrayal of her friend for now. There was nothing they could do about it anyway.
“Yes please. And some dry pants perhaps.”
They both looked down at Delphine’s legs. The cotton pants were sticking to her legs, and her cold feet were bright red in the relative warmth of the cabin.
“Dude, you ran outside into the snow without shoes?”
Delphine nodded. Once she realized who the clone was talking to, she had been too alarmed to think about silly things like shoes or snow.
The clone got up to grab a towel from one of the bags and Delphine pulled the pants down, discarding them on the floor. Cosima kneeled in front of her, drying Delphine’s legs and rubbing some warmth into her feet. Once she was done, Cosima pressed a kiss to each of the knees in front of her face. She smiled up to Delphine, “I hadn’t told him yet where we are.” Cosima looked so regretful. She obviously felt responsible for Scott’s betrayal and his attempt to murder Delphine.
Delphine leaned forward, trying to reach Cosima’s face. The pain in her abdomen caused her to cease her movement prematurely. Instead she used her hands to pull Cosima’s face upwards.
Delphine pressed her lips to Cosima’s. Her intention was for a small kiss, to let the clone know that she was forgiven.
Delphine had no idea what their relationship was at this point, what was allowed and what was not. She had broken up with Cosima and she had given Shay and Cosima her blessing when she thought she might never see the clone again. Then Cosima had saved Delphine’s life after she was shot and ran away from everything to keep her safe. It was all terribly confusing to Delphine, but apparently not to Cosima. The kiss quickly escalated when the determined woman, still on her knees in front of Delphine, slipped her tongue into Delphine’s mouth. They only broke apart when Cosima started to cough.
After she had managed to control her breathing, Cosima grinned at Delphine. “So… Breakfast.”
“Yes… Breakfast,” Delphine agreed.
Cosima got up and started to move around some pots and pans in the kitchen. “There should be some pants that fit you in the red suitcase.”
Spotting the suitcase next to the table, Delphine got up groaning and sat down next to the suitcase. Digging through the contents she found a pair of sweatpants that looked like they fit.
Still seated on the floor, she put them on. Next she pulled a pair of thick woolen socks on. They were several sizes too big, but warmed her feet.
Taking a look through the rest of the contents she noticed a hairbrush. How thoughtful of Cosima, who obviously didn’t bring the brush for herself. Delphine brushed her hair. As she advanced, her curls rapidly returned to their natural state.
“Cosima, did you bring my bag?”
“Huh? What bag?” Cosima turned around from the stove, looking down at Delphine. “I couldn’t go to your place. Everything in there is either mine or new.”
Finished with her hair, Delphine got up from the floor and walked over to Cosima. “Was there no bag standing next to me when you found me?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Cosima tilted her head, pondering the question for a bit. “Does it matter?”
“Yes, Kira’s stem cells were in there.” Defeated Delphine plopped down on one of the chairs. Everything hurt, she was exhausted, and the cure she had been working on in secret for the past weeks was lost.
“What?” Cosima abandoned the stove to sit down next to Delphine. “How?”
Delphine looked at Cosima with tears in her eyes. “You don’t honestly think I gave Rachel all of the bone marrow, do you?” Her lower lip trembled, “I held back a tiny bit. Just enough, so no one would notice. Behind their backs I cultivated more and prepared another dose of your treatment.”
The sick clone gasped. “You did what?”
Clutching Cosima’s hands in her own, Delphine said, “I didn’t want them to be able to hold power like that over you and your sisters again. I wanted to make sure there would be another available dose when you need it.”
“Holy shit.” Cosima shook her head. “You managed to do that behind their backs? That’s totally amazing!”
Delphine managed a weak smile, “If my bag is gone, then so is your cure.” She couldn’t bear looking Cosima in the eyes, looking out of the window instead. “It took me weeks to cultivate it with a proper lab. Without the equipment, without stem cells, I can’t get you another dose on time.”
Gently turning Delphine’s head, locking eyes with her, Cosima said, “Hey, if you can bring the knowledge, I can get you the DNA.” She grinned at Delphine, who looked back confused. “Malone’s samples are hidden in Felix’ loft.”
Delphine fiercely grabbed Cosima’s dreadlocks and crashed their lips together. Their previous kiss had been long and gentle. Though it lasted only a short time, this one was enthusiastic. Pulling back from Cosima, Delphine asked, “When are we going to see Felix?”
“You kinda destroyed my phone.” Cosima got up to transfer their breakfast to the table. Some of it was slightly burned, since Cosima had left the fire on when she left the stove. “We don’t have a car. So we’ll have to wait for Art to come back.” Handing Delphine a cup of tea, Cosima joined her at the table again. “He promised he’d be back within a week.”
“Hmm…” They still had time. The next dose was not necessary for another month, and Delphine wanted to get some of her strength back before returning to the dangers of the outside world. A week in an isolated cabin with Cosima didn't sound so bad. Sipping the hot beverage, Delphine glanced over at Cosima. “What will we do until then?”
As you may have noticed in previous chapters, Delphine uses meters and Cosima does not. I did this on purpose because in France (just like almost everywhere) the metric system is standard. For those of you who, like Cosima, are used to feet and inches:
1 cm = 0.39 in
1 m = 3.3 ft
1 m2 = 10.8 ft2
1 km = 0.62 m
(-10 degrees Fahrenheit = -23 degrees Celsius)
Chapter 14: Convergence of character
They had finished the last of their somewhat blackened breakfast. Delphine got up from her chair with the intention of doing the dishes.
“No, no.” Cosima gently took Delphine’s hands and pulled her towards the bed. “You’re going back to bed.”
When they had transferred Delphine into the RV, the doctor had repeatedly told Cosima to keep her in bed as much as possible for the first week. After that Delphine would be allowed to walk for a little bit. It had been only three days, and the injured woman had been up and walking around for over an hour. Delphine didn’t look very well. Her skin was unhealthy pale and there were dark circles below her eyes. Though she would never admit it, Delphine was obviously still in a lot of pain.
Cosima gently pushed Delphine down onto the bed. The fact that she was not protesting at all, told the clone that Delphine was indeed not ready to be moving around. Cosima tucked the tired woman in with several blankets and kissed her forehead. “There, we have plenty of time. You focus on getting better and I’ll focus on the dishes.”
Delphine smiled back at Cosima, her eyes were already drooping. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Cosima watched Delphine fall asleep. Somehow the brilliant immunologist had helped Leda, worked for DYAD and Topside and managed to cultivate a new cure all by herself. Feeling horribly guilty for hating Delphine so much after she broke up with her, Cosima promised the sleeping woman that she would spend however long she had left to live trying to make up for her recent behaviour. Starting by doing the dishes.
It had been hours since Delphine had fallen asleep. Cosima had done the dishes and cleaned the mess on the floor. She had taken inventory of the contents of the kitchen and made some horribly strong coffee in the French press she had found in one of the cupboards.
Now she was sitting next to Delphine on the bed. In the cabin without electricity, the only source of warmth was the woman sleeping next to her. ‘For a cottage in the Canadian woods, you’d expect this place to have a fire-place or something,’ Cosima thought bitterly. The mercury of the thermometer outside was a little below minus ten degrees Fahrenheit and it didn’t seem to be much warmer inside. Of course, it was still early in the winter, in a month it would be much colder. But Cosima was used to the mild San Francisco weather and she was starting to regret her decision to move away from the bay area.
She shifted a little closer to Delphine, warming her feet by pressing them softly to Delphine’s legs. Cosima was sipping on the dreadful coffee, pulling a disgusted face after every taste. She was holding her copy of The origin of species. She was flipping through it, reading random passages. Of course she knew the book almost by heart, but whenever she felt out of control, Cosima liked to return to the book. The science was logical; it was something she understood, it made her feel safe.
Next to her, Delphine started to stir. Cosima put the book down on her lap, and slid down into a lying position. Her nose was almost touching Delphine’s. The waking woman’s breath was hot on Cosima’s lips.
Delphine lazily opened her eyes. When she saw Cosima, with her glasses crooked and her dreads all over the place, a smile formed. “Bonjour, Cosima.”
“More like bonsoir,” Cosima answered with a horrible American accent. “It’s almost dark again.”
Lifting her head, Delphine looked out the window. It was indeed starting to get darker. Her smile faltered and a frown appeared, “Sorry. I’m afraid I’m really bad company.”
Fervently Cosima shook her head, “No, no. You’re injured. It’s totally understandable.” She intertwined their fingers as Delphine settled down again. Cosima rolled over onto her side to face Delphine, the book fell onto the floor with a bang. “Besides, you’re very cute when you’re sleeping.”
“Oh?” Delphine raised her eyebrows, her smile slowly returning.
“Yeah, when you dream you do this scrunchy thing with your nose.” Cosima wrinkled her nose, “It’s totally adorable.”
Lifting her head to meet Cosima, Delphine pressed a soft kiss to the clone’s lips. She pulled Cosima down with her as she laid her head back down on the pillow. Cosima was careful not to rest any weight on Delphine, leaning over the blonde as the kiss intensified.
Cosima was perfectly content to stay like this for hours; to enthusiastically make out like a couple of horny teenagers. Delphine had another plan. Her left hand soon crept into Cosima’s pants, stroking Cosima over her underwear.
“Wow, okay.” Cosima pulled Delphine’s hand out of her pants. “Slow down. You’re not ready for such physical exercise.”
“But you are.” Delphine looked meaningfully at the moisture on her fingertips.
Cosima gazed at Delphine. Cosima had missed being with Delphine; Shay had skills but lacked the passion Cosima saw in Delphine’s eyes. She definitely wanted to touch and be touched, but it was not worth it if would hurt Delphine.
“Please let me touch you,” whispered Delphine, with her large eyes pleading, “I’ll let you do all the physical exercise.”
Considering this offer, Cosima concluded that if Delphine was so sure about it, there would be no harm in trying. She carefully swung her leg over Delphine, straddling her hips with both her hands next to Delphine’s head. “Will you tell me if I’m hurting you?”
Delphine nodded her head. She seized Cosima’s waistband, and pulled her pants down a little. Kissing the clone hovering over her, she resumed her earlier ministrations. Cosima gasped into her mouth, arching her back. Delphine moved her hand lower, inserting a single finger into Cosima.
“Oh!” Cosima’s eyes opened wide. She sat up, grinding down on Delphine’s hips. “More.”
Happy to oblige, Delphine added a second finger. Cosima had her head thrown back, and her left hand was grasping Delphine’s hand on her injured side. Panting, she was riding Delphine’shand buried deep inside her. Delphine looked up at the show Cosima was giving her in the dim light of the cabin. She had missed this; the intimacy of being vulnerable together, the way Cosima gave her everything, completely trusting her.
Before long Cosima started to quiver, with her eyes squeezed shut, she collapsed next to Delphine. Her legs trembling, Cosima turned onto her side to face Delphine with a sly grin.
“Merci, Cosima.” Delphine said, answering the grin with a smile of her own.
“No, thank you.” Cosima said jokingly. She rested her head on Delphine’s shoulder, buried deep into the curls. Her glasses pressed uncomfortably into the bridge of her nose, Cosima pressed soft kisses into Delphine’s neck.
In response Delphine wrapped her arms around Cosima. She twirled Cosima’s dreadlocks around her fingers and murmured something in French Cosima could not quite comprehend.
The sun had completely sunk below the horizon. They had enjoyed a late dinner by candlelight. Cosima was now doing the dishes in a bucket with lukewarm water. Sitting at the table, Delphine dried the dishes as they were handed to her. They were chatting about nothing in particular. Both relishing in the domestic feeling of the uncomplicated task performed together.
Cosima silently wished that they could have had more time to share such simple, peaceful moments. After she found out that Delphine was indeed her monitor, they barely had a moment together that wasn’t spent working on clone stuff. A part of Cosima hoped that Art would never come back for them. That they could spend the rest of their lives isolated from the outside world, from all the drama.
“Is this another copy of the book?” Delphine’s voice pulled Cosima from her thoughts.
Looking up from the bucket, she saw that Delphine had put the tea towel down and was browsing a thick stack of paper. “Yes, I’ve been trying to figure out the cypher.” Cosima offered a teacup to Delphine, who abandoned the copy and got back to her task. “If Rachel can decipher it, I should be able to do it too, right?”
This elected a chuckle from Delphine. “I think nurture prevails here, cherie.”
“Maybe, but we have a week and nowhere else to be.” Cosima dried her hands on the tea towel. “Together we can do anything. Let’s make all kinds of crazy science.”
Chapter 15: Variability of body and mind
They were sitting on the bench outside the cabin, enjoying the pale sun. It had been 8 days since Art had dropped them off here, in the middle of nowhere. Most of the time they had spent in bed, under a thick pile of blankets, trying to keep each other warm. Delphine had suggested that they get a bit of fresh air. So now they were sitting close together, looking at the forest covered with a thick blanket of snow.
As the week progressed, Delphine had steadily regained most of her strength. The first few days she had mostly spent sleeping. Cosima had passed the time by trying to decipher Duncan’s book. As Delphine’s health improved, and she managed to stay awake for longer periods of time, she tried to help Cosima. Together they had tried everything to figure out the exact meaning of the symbols between the lines. Both scientists were getting increasingly frustrated with their lack of progress, and as Delphine got stronger, more time had been spent getting reacquainted with each other under the warm covers, instead of working on the book.
Cosima rested her head on Delphine’s shoulder. She coughed in her hands, Delphine pretended not to notice. In truth she was getting worried about Cosima. As Delphine was growing stronger, Cosima started to get weaker. Her cough had returned and the clone was quickly out of breath. Delphine lay awake at night, listening to the rattling in Cosima’s chest. This morning Delphine tasted iron on Cosima’s lips; she would need another treatment much sooner than Delphine had estimated.
“Do you want some?” Cosima offered her freshly rolled joint to Delphine.
Taking a long drag, Delphine looked down the dirt road leading to the civilized world. “Do you think Arthur would approve of this,” she said, handing the joint back to Cosima. The marijuana soothed the lingering pain in her abdomen. Delphine had stopped taking the heavy painkillers, taking only ordinary ibuprofen and sharing an occasional joint with Cosima.
“I won’t tell him if you don’t.” Looking in the same direction as Delphine, Cosima said, “I hope he comes back quickly.”
Delphine nodded. They were both starting to get anxious. Delphine was eager to start working on Cosima’s treatment. Cosima herself had been unable to sit still; she had the gun within reach at all times and was constantly looking out the windows. Cosima was worried about her sisters, and without the phone, they had no way of contacting the outside world. All they could do was wait, so that was what they did.
A Blue Jay was calling in the trees nearby; apart from the sound of the bird the forest was awfully quiet. Both biologists observed the bird in silence. “Cyanocitta cristata,” stated Delphine.
“Dr. Cormier. I didn’t know you were into Ornithology.”
Delphine shook her head, “Not really, but I take it you had to follow a few taxonomy courses during your bachelors as well.”
“True, but I was always more interested in genetics.” Cosima scanned their environment and pointed at a squirrel eating a pinecone. “Sciurus carolinensis.”
Taking turns, they managed to name almost all of the living organisms around them. Since there was not a lot of life visible in the cold, Canadian forest, they proceeded to name as many animals and plants from their respective home countries.
“Viola sororia,” Delphine said.
Cosima opened her mouth, but before she could reply, the sound of a car came from down the road. Both women turned their heads. Cosima dropped the butt of the joint into the snow and pulled the gun from her pocket. A strange car turned around the last bend, the driver was invisible behind the dirty glass.
Neither of them recognized the car. Delphine grabbed Cosima’s left hand, wishing she also had a weapon. There was nowhere they could run if the chauffeur turned out to be someone else than Arthur. Neither of them was in good health and the nearest house was over 30 miles away.
The car stopped a couple of metres from the cabin. The engine turned off and the door opened. A man neither of them had met before stepped out of the car.
In unison they let out a breath of relief. Despite the fact that they had not met the guy before, the face was very familiar to both of them.
“Tony?” Cosima said as she got up, the gun still in her hand.
“Yeah, that’s me.” Tony pulled off his hat and walked towards them.
“I’m Cosima,” with a small wave, Cosima introduced herself. “No offence, but we were expecting someone else.”
“The cop called me, asking to pick you up,” Tony said. He looked past Cosima, checking out Delphine.
“Allô, I am Delphine Cormier,” she stepped past Cosima and shook Tony’s hand.
He grinned a knowing smile and winked at Cosima. “Nice.”
Cosima nodded her agreement and invited Tony inside the cabin.
While Delphine and Cosima packed their bags and got ready to leave, Tony sat at the table watching. He seemed anxious to get back on the road; he was worried that someone had followed him here.
Together they carried the few bags into the trunk of the car. Tony laid down on the backseat. He told them that they could wake him up when they were in Toronto and no sooner. Art had been so concerned about the lack of communication from the ladies that Tony had driven for 10 hours straight to get them.
Cosima tried to tell him that their phone had gotten wet, but he wasn’t interested in their excuses. Instead, he pulled a blanket over his head and was snoring before the car had even started.
True to his word, Tony did not wake up until they pulled up in front of Felix’s building. It was early morning; the sun was not yet out. Delphine and Cosima had taken turns driving, only stopping for gas and a bathroom break. They had taken the direct route, over the main road. Since they were sure their presence in the city would be noticed anyway, they didn’t bother being secretive. Delphine knew the risk of returning to the city and was more than willing to take it, if it meant a cure for Cosima.
The trio got out of the car, walking over to the trunk to pull out their belongings. They dragged themselves up the stairs. Tony was still half asleep, dragging his feet. His constant yawning infected Delphine and Cosima, who had both been awake all night.
Felix opened the door as soon as they knocked. He had been adorably worried about them; even Delphine received a gentle hug. Surprised, Delphine returned the gesture. Cosima was panting, but obviously happy to see Felix again.
While Cosima explained to Felix why they hadn’t stayed in touch, Delphine spotted Krystal sitting on the couch. The clone looked perfectly at home, her legs tugged under her. She was observing Cosima and Tony from a safe distance.
“Hello Krystal.” Delphine sat down next to her. “How are you?”
“Still a bit freaked, you know.” Krystal gave Delphine a quick hug. “Felix explained everything, but it’s, like… wow. You know?” Krystal gestured with her hands, trying to explain her feelings towards the matter.
Delphine nodded her agreement. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”
“I would have thought you were like totally insane.” Krystal looked over at Cosima, who was still chatting with Felix.
Delphine followed Krystal’s line of sight frowning, “Oui, sometimes I think I might be.”
“No!” Cosima suddenly yelled at Felix, surprising both women sitting on the couch. Cosima ran over to the kitchen area.
Felix turned around, following Cosima at a slower pace. “What’s wrong with that. He said he needed it for science?” he asked.
“Delphine!” Cosima yelled from the kitchen, prompting Delphine to get up from the couch and walk towards the kitchen. “Scott has the samples.” Cosima was crouching in front of the fridge, looking up at Delphine and Felix standing a few steps away.
“What’s wrong?” came Krystal’s voice from the couch.
“Felix, Scott is the one that shot Delphine. He’s with Neolution,” Cosima explained, plopping down on the floor next to the fridge coughing.
“Oh, shite.” Felix looked from Cosima to Delphine. “Were those samples really that important?”
Cosima coughed even more violently, blood sputtering out of her mouth. Her entire body was convulsing under the force of the coughing.
“Yes, Felix.” Delphine kneeled next to Cosima, gathering the shaking clone in her arms. “That was Cosima’s cure.”
Chapter 16: Consequent changes of structure
She was gasping for air. The more Cosima fought to breathe, the more violent her coughing became. Delphine’s hands were on her shoulders, holding her upright to help her breathe. Slowly the coughing became less violent. Cosima was able to take a few gulps of air, still not getting enough in between the coughs.
Felix was crouching in front of her holding a glass of water. Cosima shook her head, pushing him away. He meant well, but she needed a minute to compose herself.
Behind Felix, Krystal was standing wide eyed, “Oh my God. Oh my God.”
Tony stood next to her, obviously thinking the same thing. He said nothing, but he looked extremely shocked by the violent coughing.
Taking deep breaths, Cosima leaned her head back onto Delphine’s shoulder. The doctor rubbed her back in small circles, murmuring something in French. In her confused state, Cosima could not figure out what she was saying, but the effect was nevertheless soothing.
Delphine wiped Cosima’s chin with a damp washcloth. Looking down, Cosima saw that it was covered in blood. She closed her eyes. Not again. Not now.
“What can I do?” Felix asked Delphine.
Delphine looked up at him, “Do you still have the oxygen tank around?”
Felix nodded, he ran of to get it.
In a matter of seconds he returned with the tank, handing the cannula to Cosima. The clone was still struggling for air and couldn’t get the thin lines into her nose. Delphine helped Cosima tug them comfortably into her nose and turned the valve open.
As the extra oxygen entered her body, Cosima felt better quickly. She breathed heavily in through her nose and out of her mouth. The coughing stopped completely and Cosima relaxed into Delphine.
“Is Kendall Malone still in Iceland?” Delphine asked Felix, wrapping her arms protectively around Cosima.
“Yeah, I skyped with Sarah last night. They’re one big happy family on a glacier.”
Cosima could feel Delphine nod. It took a while before Delphine responded. “I’m going to DYAD.”
“What?” came the response from three clones and one British man.
“No, they’ll kill you.” Cosima turned to face Delphine.
Delphine looked back at Cosima. In the past week, as they had rekindled their relationship, the French woman had softened. Her hair had regained its curliness and her eyes smiled again.
But the look Cosima found in Delphine’s eyes right now, reminded her of the way Delphine had looked when she was the head of DYAD. There was only determination to be found in her eyes, “No, they won’t.”
“I can talk with Scott,” Cosima tried, “Get the samples back.”
Delphine shook her head. “I doubt he has them. They’re probably at Neolution already.” She cupped Cosima’s cheek, pressing a gentle kiss to the clone’s bloody lips. “I want to talk to Ferdinand. He is on our side.” Both women looked up at Felix, “Isn’t he?”
“I suppose,” Felix shrugged. “But if you march in there, you won’t come out again.”
“Do you have a better plan, Felix?” Delphine got up and faced him. “We need those samples to cure Cosima. In case you didn’t notice, she isn’t doing so well!” In her anger Delphine’s accent grew stronger. “And you just gave them away! Why?”
Felix looked taken aback. Of course he had no way of knowing that Scott was with Neolution, but he had been instructed by Cosima to keep the samples secret, to keep them safe.
“Can’t you meet this guy somewhere else?” Krystal said. She was the only person in the room that was not completely shocked by Delphine’s outburst. “I mean, if he’s like a good guy, that should be safe, right?”
Felix and Delphine stared at Krystal, and then looked back at each other. Both considering if it was safe to invite Ferdinand over.
“Blondie’s got a point.” Tony sat down on the couch, putting his legs up on the table.
Delphine sat down next to him, figuring it would at least be safer than to walk right into the DYAD building. “Can you reach Ferdinand, Felix?”
“I’m on it.” Felix waved his phone at Delphine.
Alison was chatting about her new job as school trustee. She was complaining about decreased funding for afterschool projects, or something like that. In all honesty Cosima didn’t care so much, but she nodded sympathetically and asked questions at the right moments.
Across from Cosima sat Helena, she was bonding with Krystal over their hair. Krystal was giving Helena some advice on colouring her hair, offering to do it for her the next time. According to what Krystal had told Cosima earlier, she had met both Alison and Helena a couple of times this week. The beautician was slowly getting used to the idea of being a clone and was quickly warming up to her sisters.
Next to one of the easels, Felix and Tony were discussing something in a hushed tone. Felix gestured at a half finished painting of Krystal and both of them laughed loudly.
Cosima’s mind was with Delphine. It had been over two hours since Delphine had left with Art. The cop hadn’t been able to pick them up from the cabin because he had been reinstated four days ago. He still wanted to help the Clone club, but he had suddenly found himself lacking time.
The only reason Cosima had stayed behind was because Art had offered to come along as a bodyguard for Delphine. Cosima was not feeling well after the severe coughing attack. The clone had wanted to be at the meeting either way, it was a cure for her disease after all. Delphine had insisted she would stay and rest, stating that she would be able to focus better if Cosima was safe. Cosima had argued, but Felix had wanted her to stay as well. Defeated, Cosima had demanded that Art would go with Delphine to keep her safe.
So now Cosima was pretending to listen to Alison, the sound of the four clones and Felix a white noise surrounding her. Every few minutes she tried to discreetly check her brand new clone phone for a message from Delphine. Still nothing.
Just as Cosima was about to excuse herself so she could call Delphine, the door opened. Relieved, Cosima jumped up from her seat and ran over to her girlfriend, dragging the oxygen tank behind her. Greeting her with a warm kiss, Cosima asked, “Are you okay? What happened? Can Ferdinand help?”
“Yes.” Cosima’s enthusiastic greeting in front of her friends made Delphine smile coyly. “It went all right.”
Delphine walked over to the couch and sank down in Cosima’s spot, subtly pressing a hand to the wound on her chest. Driving all night and the emotional day following were taking their toll on the woman, Cosima noticed guiltily. She had been feeling so sick today that she hadn’t noticed the dark circles under Delphine’s eyes.
Felix grabbed a chair for Art to sit down next to Delphine. The rest of Clone club was anxiously waiting for them to start talking.
“Ferdinand wants Rachel,” Art stated bluntly.
“We don’t have her, he knows that,” Felix said.
“Yes. She used me to escape, remember?” Krystal shuddered at the memory of what had happened.
Delphine looked at Krystal, “Apparently she didn’t escape. She was abducted by Neolution.” She pushed a couple of stay curls out of her face and said, “Just another prison, somewhere in the
Austria. Ferdinand doesn’t know where exactly, he needs our help get her out.”
“So Ferdinand wants you to go break Rachel out, in exchange for a cure for Cosima?” Alison asked. She looked baffled, as if she had expected Ferdinand to hand over a cure without any
demands of his own. “Does he even have a cure for the clone disease?”
Arthur and Delphine both nodded.
“He told us he knows where to find it,” said Delphine, “Rachel will need it as well in the future. I believe he is telling the truth.”
“He wants us to find Rachel in Austria first,” Art said, rubbing his temples.
“We go on trip, yes?” Helena said, jumping to her feet.
Smiling at her sister’s enthusiasm, Cosima agreed, “Yes, we’re going on a trip.”
Chapter 17: Civilised and savage nations
Only a few of hours later Delphine found herself squashed in an aisle seat next to a young family on the way to London. They would transfer to a plane to Vienna at Heathrow airport.
Felix had made a couple of calls with Mrs. S, who of course had people who could fabricate fake passports and other people who could get them on the first flight towards Austria. Delphine was still amazed at how fast things had processed; only this morning she had been sitting with Cosima in the snowy woods.
Three rows in front of her, Delphine could see Cosima’s dreadlocks. The rest of the tiny woman was hidden from Delphine’s view behind the back of the seat. The oxygen tank was standing in the aisle, the thin plastic line invisible connecting the tank to Cosima. She was probably reading The origin of species again. Years ago, during her last year of boarding school, a much younger Delphine had read the book as well. The immunologist was a devout Darwinist, but that book was far too tedious to read more than once.
A little bit behind Delphine, Helena was seated and all the way to the back of the plane, Ferdinand. Due to their last minute arrangements, it was impossible for them to sit together. Delphine didn’t mind a moment alone so much, she was used to flying alone. She missed sitting next to Cosima of course, but their first priority was getting to Austria, not sitting together, Delphine reminded herself. She opened her own book, a trashy French novel, and settled in for the long flight.
It was almost 12 hours later when the small group was walking past the baggage claim of the international airport of Vienna. Each of them had a small carry on item; they did not need to wait for any luggage. The group did not intend to stay for long in Austria; their mission was to get into Neolution find Rachel and get back to Canada.
Siobhan’s people had made excellent passports. No one was stopped at customs and they proceeded directly to the train platforms.
It was Helena who saw Sarah first; her twin was taking a nap on one of the benches in the middle of the platform. Helena ran towards her sister, leaving Ferdinand with Delphine and Cosima to follow.
Sarah and Helena were wrapped in a tight hug by the time the others joined them. Cosima sat down next to her sisters and gave Sarah a long embrace.
Once the sisters had greeted each other properly, Sarah got up to shake Ferdinand’s hand. The formal gesture seemed out of character to Delphine. Before she could make up her mind on the matter, Sarah turned towards her.
“I’m glad to see you’re alive.” Sarah looked Delphine up and down before hesitantly leaning in for a careful hug. This gesture was surprisingly familiar to Delphine. Over Sarah’s shoulder she looked at Cosima, who was looking at the scene with a huge grin.
“I’m glad to be alive,” as she said it, Delphine realized that it was true. For the first time she had a reason to live, besides the fact that she was supposed to. For the first time she had someone to live for: Cosima. Delphine smiled at her girlfriend, sitting on the bench next to Helena.
“It’s not as if I’m not enjoying this reunion, but our train is here,” Ferdinand said sarcastically, nodding his head in the direction of the arriving train.
Cosima and Helena got up and joined the others boarding the train. The three identical women caused some passengers to give them odd looks when they passed. This made Delphine a little anxious; their mission was based on secrecy and anyone could be a spy for Neolution.
Helena was looking out the window, pointing out everything she could possibly point out to Sarah. Ferdinand was observing their interaction from his seat across the aisle with an amused look on his face.
Cosima had her eyes closed, leaning back in her seat. She was still awake; her right hand was toying with Delphine’s left. Neither of them said anything, enjoying each other’s company after the long flight. While Cosima seemed completely relaxed, Delphine could sit back. She was scanning the faces of the other passengers, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Her worries were unnecessary, nothing suspicious happened on the short train ride to downtown Vienna.
Nothing noteworthy happened on the four-hour train ride to Innsbruck either. It was in Innsbruck where Rachel had checked out of the private clinic nine days ago. They would start their search there. Sarah had contacted Marion, who apparently was in the area as well.
Sarah and Cosima had fallen asleep on the train. Ferdinand was staring ahead and Helena was looking out of the window. Again Delphine could not relax. She was still tense, seeing enemies everywhere.
In Innsbruck they checked into a small hotel a few blocks from the train station. It was almost midnight and they agreed that they all could use some rest before they started their search.
Since none of them trusted Ferdinand enough to leave him unsupervised for an entire night, Sarah and Helena would share a room with him. Delphine and Cosima wished the others a good night and retired to their own room.
Cosima dragged her oxygen tank into the room and flopped face first onto the bed. “Ugh,” she moaned into the comforter.
Delphine locked the door before she joined Cosima on the bed. “I agree.” Lying on her back next to Cosima, she looked at the ceiling. The freshly healed wound on her chest was throbbing, her head was pounding and her feet were terribly sore. Cosima probably felt worse, Delphine thought. The clone disease was worsening rapidly, and Cosima was panting despite the lack of physical exercise.
Rolling over to her side, Delphine saw that Cosima was looking at her. She smiled back at the clone. Delphine cupped Cosima’s cheek, subtly checking for a temperature. When she didn’t find one, Delphine leaned in for a kiss. Her forehead bumped into Cosima’s glasses. Their tired state made both of them clumsy. Before long, they laid their heads down again.
With her hand resting on the back of Cosima’s neck, Delphine felt Cosima’s heartbeat under her fingers. Delphine could feel herself falling asleep as well. With some of her last reserves she got up from the bed.
“Hmm, stay,” Cosima mumbled.
“I’m just going to take a shower, cherie,” Delphine answered, while stripping her clothes.
Cosima turned over onto her back. She straightened her glasses so she could see Delphine clearly. “Great plan,” Cosima grinned at her naked girlfriend, who was digging through her backpack for a toothbrush.
Looking up from the backpack, Delphine shook her head at the cheeky comment. She used the chair to pull herself up and stumbled towards the bathroom.
Delphine stood under the hot shower much longer than she intended. In the last week she had only been able to wash herself in a bucket of lukewarm water. As she shampooed her hair she remembered the last shower she took. It had been in her apartment in Toronto, it seemed a world away and a lifetime ago. Lazily she washed the rest of her body. Her arms were heavy and several times she nearly fell asleep standing.
“Hey, leave me some warm water.” Cosima’s head was poking around the curtain. Her sudden voice brought Delphine back to reality.
Smiling sheepishly she got out of the tiny shower so that Cosima could get in. Their room in the old hotel did not have a very spacious bathroom, the shower was a tight fit for one person and two definitely did not fit.
While Cosima took a shower, Delphine dried herself off and brushed her teeth. She wiped some of the fog from the mirror, so she could take a proper look at the wound below her breast.
There had been no mirror at the cabin; this was the first time Delphine could properly see the fresh, red scar. Only yesterday Cosima had removed the stiches. In addition to the large bullet
wound, the skin around it was sore from the miniature punctures. Biting her lower lip, she probed the skin around the wound.
Cosima wrapped her arms around Delphine’s waist, standing on her tiptoes to lean her chin on Delphine’s shoulder. The taller woman had been so fascinated by her wounds, that she hadn’t noticed the shower turning off. Delphine rested her hands around Cosima’s, meeting her eyes in the mirror.
“Scars are totally hot, you know,” Cosima comforted Delphine. “Very badass.”
Delphine hadn’t even had the time to worry about how the scars would look. The reason she was examining the wounds was to see how they were healing. Not out of vanity, but out of
scientific fascination. She nodded at the woman standing behind her and gently pulled Cosima’s hands from her hips. “Are you coming to bed?”
“In a minute.”
True to her word, a minute later Cosima crawled under the covers; she was wearing the cannula again. Delphine pulled Cosima closer, spooning the smaller woman under the covers. Cosima coughed, burying her face in the pillow to muffle the harsh sounds. Feeling powerless, Delphine held the fragile body close, rubbing Cosima’s arms.
After what seemed forever, the clone breathed easy again. Without a word she squeezed Delphine’s hands. Both women closed their eyes; listening to the sounds of the strange city, they fell asleep holding each other.
Chapter 18: On the matter of action
Cosima yawned. It took her sleeping mind a moment to remember where she was. Delphine was still sleeping soundly on the pillow next to Cosima. Her curls were spread out across the pillow, glowing golden in the early morning light. Delphine had rolled onto her back during the night, but her arms had not let go of Cosima.
Carefully unwrapping herself from her girlfriend’s arms, Cosima got up from between the warm covers. Still sleeping, Delphine protested, she reached out to the empty spot beside her.
Cosima smiled, pressing a quick kiss to Delphine’s forehead. She put her glasses on and staggered towards the bathroom. Her legs were still half asleep and not yet cooperating fully.
Sitting on the toilet, Cosima tried to clear her head. She was not so used to traveling long distances. Before yesterday Cosima had never even left the North-American continent. The long flight in combination with her poor health had caused an awful jetlag. Her entire body was sore and she was weary as if she hadn’t slept in days. Her lungs and throat were burning and she had a blinding headache.
Cosima flushed the toilet and looked in the mirror, she looked like an absolute wreck. Cosima splashed a little water in her face. She found a package of ibuprofen on the countertop and washed one down with a glass of water. The cold water prompted a painful coughing fit. Fighting to keep the noise down, Cosima stifled the sound in a washcloth. Hunched over the sink,
Cosima heaved up the blood and water. Her shoulders were shaking with the force of the coughs and tears were streaming down her face.
When she was finally able to breathe normally again, Cosima saw the familiar red blotches on the white fabric. Grimacing, she rinsed the washcloth and the bloody sink. Cosima brushed her teeth and washed her face again. Delphine was mothering her far too much already, checking her temperature ten times a day and asking if she was okay every time Cosima cleared her throat. Cosima knew that her girlfriend meant well, but she hated to be treated like this.
When she exited the bathroom, Delphine was still in a deep sleep. Amazed at the blonde’s ability to sleep through the loud noise she had made, Cosima crawled back under the covers. She snuggled close to Delphine, who wrapped her arm around Cosima still sleeping.
Just as Cosima was falling asleep again, a loud banging on their door woke both women up.
While Cosima was still in trying to figure out where the sound had come from, Delphine was already moving towards the door. “Wer ist es?” Delphine asked as she got up.
From the other side of the door a muffled voice said, “Helena. We have company.”
Delphine opened the door a crack, leaving the safety latch on. She exchanged a few words with Helena in a hushed tone, inaudible to Cosima. After a short debate through the crack, the naked woman closed the door again and turned back to Cosima. “Marion is here. We should go over to the other room.”
“Nooo…” Cosima pulled the comforter over her head. “…just one more minute”
Immediately, the blanket slid off her body again. Delphine stood at the foot of the bed, with her arms full of the fluffy warmth. “Come on. They’re waiting for us.” Delphine was clearly not in the mood for jokes this morning.
Pouting, Cosima crawled out of the bed. “I didn’t know you could speak German,” she said as she pulled a sweater over her head, realizing too late that she was still wearing the cannula. Delphine was already completely dressed in an uncharacteristically casual light blue jumper and jeans. While Cosima still struggled with the lines of the cannula and her sweater, too lazy to take either off, Delphine was braiding her unruly hair into an intriguing French braid. “There is plenty you don’t know about me, Liebling.”
Cosima frowned, that was definitely true. If today went according to plan, they would have plenty of time to get to know each other better. Cosima put on the rest of her clothes and they left their room to join the others.
That afternoon, the small group was waiting impatiently in Sarah and Helena’s room. Cosima was lying on the bed. Next to her Sarah was skyping with Mrs. S and Kira. Delphine was sitting in the windowsill, staring at the outside world. Ferdinand was sitting on the only chair in the room, cleaning his glasses obsessively. None of them said anything.
Helena was pacing the length of the small room. She had wanted to go outside, to see the city. The others had decided that it was probably not wise to be walking outside in clear daylight. Instead they had ordered something to eat and waited in the cramped room. Every once in a while Helena would ask for the time. Delphine patiently kept telling her it wasn’t time to leave yet.
A while ago Marion had left them in the Hotel. During their short meeting she had told them she could get them into the Neolution facility. Her motives for helping them seemed similar to Ferdinand’s; her daughter was missing and she had a feeling that Neolution was behind it. Marion had left them with the promise of returning a little before sunset with a car to take them into the dragon’s lair.
True to her word, Marion arrived with a small van just past four o clock. They left quickly and quietly, not wanting to wait any longer. Aside from Sarah, none of them had ever done anything like what they were about to do. And when Sarah had broken into DYAD to find Kira, at least she had a gun with her. This time they had only each other. They had left everything aside from their phones and coats in the hotel room.
Cosima had even left her oxygen tank behind, figuring the heavy canister would only slow her down. She was already starting to regret that decision. Delphine laid her hand on Cosima’s leg, squeezing tenderly. Cosima looked over at the silhouette in the near dark next to her. She smiled and held Delphine’s hand, feeling the long fingers tremble. Delphine must be terrified, realized Cosima. Lifting the hand to her lips, she pressed a long kiss to the palm.
It took Marion not very long to drive them to what looked like a regular office building, on the edge of the business district. During the ride, Marion had told her passengers that there were no security cameras in the facility, aside from a few select rooms and the entrances. Apparently Neolution did not want any evidence of whatever was going on inside the building. A handful of guards would be posted at the main entrance and some might be patrolling the building. The rescue party would get inside through the service entrance, hoping that they would not be noticed.
“That’s the bloody plan? Hoping we don’t get noticed?” Sarah was not impressed with Marion’s plan.
“We don’t have the time to create a more elaborate plan,” Marion was desperate. “My little girl is locked up all alone inside that building. Cosima is coughing out her lungs. She needs a cure today, if not yesterday.” Marion turned to look at Cosima, who was indeed coughing again. “And I don’t even know what they’re doing to Rachel.” Marion glanced at Ferdinand. “If we do not try this today, we will not get a better opportunity anytime soon.”
“I don’t like it. We have no weapons, no idea what we will find inside.” Sarah looked agitated.
“Check the glove compartment.”
Sarah did as she was told and pulled three guns out of the glove compartment. The first she put in her own pocket, the second she handed to Helena. “Who wants the last one?”
To Cosima’s surprise Delphine held out her hand. Ferdinand protested loudly, but Sarah ignored him and handed the gun to Delphine. “Lets get this over with.”
They got out of the car and walked over to the small door down the alley where Marion had parked. She fumbled with the lock. In the dark alley it took her a while to get the door open. Once they were all inside, Marion pointed them towards a desolate stairway. “I have a feeling that Rachel might be locked up somewhere in the basement. There are some patient rooms downstairs, she is probably in one of them.”
Ferdinand went down the stairs first, followed closely by Helena. The rest of the group followed a little more reluctantly. Cosima gripped Delphine’s hand tightly; she wondered what the hell they were doing. Breaking a clone out of a shady, international organizations grip, it was nothing for people like her. Someone badass, like Helena, Sarah, or even creepy Ferdinand, might pull it off. But a geeky dork like Cosima, she would only slow them down. The only reason she had wanted to come with, was because she was the one they needed a cure for.
While they were walking down the desolated, dim corridor of the basement, Cosima wondered whether a cure would be worth it. She had a hard time keeping up with the others, who were walking with a brisk pace. Delphine seemed to notice Cosima trailing behind. She tugged on Cosima’s hand, shooting her questioning looks.
Cosima reminded herself that the cure they would get in exchange for freeing Rachel was not only to cure her, but it also would help Alison, Krystal and Tony. She swallowed a cough and pushed on, gesturing with her thumb to Delphine that she was okay. This was not the moment to be whiny about a chest pain or black spots in front of her eyes.
Once they had arrived in the wing that contained the patient rooms Marion had mentioned, it took them surprisingly little time to find the right room. A faint banging sound was coming from the first room on the right side as the entered the wing.
Ferdinand hammered on the door, “Rachel!?”
“Shush,” Sarah pulled him away from the door, “The guards will hear us.”
The muffled sound of a voice was coming from the room. None of them was sure who it belonged to, or what they were saying. Whoever it was didn’t sound very happy. Ferdinand pushed Sarah away and tried to open the door. It was locked.
“Well, open it,” said Sarah standing back with her arms crossed over her chest.
Without a word, Helena pulled a bobby pin out of Delphine’s hair, loosening a few curls. Cosima leaned subtly with her back against the wall. She had still not regained her breath. Delphine was too preoccupied with Helena picking the lock, to even notice that Cosima was not doing so well.
“Now it’s not locked.” Helena pushed the door open.
Ferdinand pushed past Helena and barged into the room. “Rachel.”
“F-F-Ferdinand,” stammered Rachel. She was clearly taken by surprise at the large rescue party entering the room. Rachel was sitting in an electric wheelchair in the middle of the room.
“Mommy!” From the other side of the room a small figure ran across the room. Pulling her leg behind her, Charlotte managed to gain enough momentum to make Marion stumble when she jumped into her arms.
Ferdinand was standing next to Rachel. They were having a hushed conversation; the others tried their best to give them some privacy in the small room. Marion was preoccupied with
Charlotte, who seemed to be fine, for as far as an abducted child could be fine.
“Oi, we don’t have time for this,” said Sarah, “We’ve got to get a move on if we want to find that cure.”
Ferdinand looked at Rachel and turned to the other clones, “Yes, you should.”
Leaning over Rachel he picked her up and started towards the door. The clones were too surprised to even try and stop them. When they were in the doorway, Rachel grasped the edge so
Ferdinand had to stop. “Neolution does have a cure for you, miss Niehaus.” She did not look at her sisters and let go of the door.
From outside they heard her raised voice, “I am almost certain of it!”
Sarah started to follow them but Delphine stopped her, “It’s no use. If they do not want to help us, forcing them will only slow us down.”
“He bloody promised a cure for Cosima!” Sarah yelled at Delphine.
“We’ll have to find it ourselves.”
Frustrated, Sarah ran her hands through her hair, “How?” She looked at Delphine and Marion for answers. Neither of them knew any better than Sarah where to start. Their plan had been dependent on Ferdinand and his knowledge of the location of the cure. And now it turned out that he had never even been sure of the existence of a cure. The three clones and Delphine tried to come up with a new plan when the door opened again. Startled, those who where left looked at the man standing in the doorframe.
“You sick bastard!” Cosima yelled before anyone could make a move, she was on her way to the door. “You shot her, you pathetic piece of shit!”
Scott took one look at Cosima charging him and the grim group standing behind her and ran away.
Cosima tried to follow him, but something was holding her back.
“Cosima, no!” Delphine had her arms wrapped around her. “He’s not worth it. We have to find your cure.”
“He shot you!” Cosima was tugging and hitting Delphine, trying to break free. “He shot you!” The exercise was burning in her lungs and tears were streaming down her face. “He shot you!” Cosima was coughing, her body convulsing violently in the very familiar way; she was no longer able to struggle for freedom. “He shot you.” The blood was splattering on Delphine’s light blue sweater. Cosima’s legs gave in; she fell to the floor, dragging Delphine with her. “He shot…” The bright red spots turned black, the blue jumper turned dark, “…you.” As everything went dark, all Cosima could feel were Delphine’s strong arms holding her.
Chapter 19: Intellectual and moral faculties
“Cosima!” yelled Delphine.
Cosima was lying on Delphine’s lap, blood streaked across her face. The rasping sound of her breath was painful to hear. Delphine cradled Cosima’s head in her lap, yelling her name.Cosima did not react to the screaming, her eyes rolled back into her head. Blood was still spluttering out of her mouth. Delphine could feel Cosima’s heartbeat fluttering under her fingers. All she could hear was the rasping sound of Cosima’s breath and the pounding of her own heart.
“Delphine, snap out of it,” Sarah was kneeling in front of them.
Delphine lifted her head. She stared at Sarah, not really seeing the clone.
“Do something, you’re a doctor!”
Delphine nodded. She was a doctor and Cosima needed help. ‘Snap out of it,’ she told herself. In a haze Delphine turned Cosima on her side so she would not choke on the blood. She pressed her fingers to Cosima’s neck to take a pulse. If this seizure was anything like the one Cosima had when she met Duncan, Cosima would be okay in a few minutes. She would be feeling fatigued and completely useless, but Cosima would live another day.
Delphine considered their options. Cosima needed a safe place and medical care; she had to be taken out of this place before anyone found them. But if they left now, there would be no cure for Cosima, aside from the treatment Delphine might be able to fabricate out of Malone’s stem cells. One look at Cosima’s current state told Delphine that such a treatment would be too little, too late. Cosima needed a permanent cure; one that Delphine didn’t know how to make.
On the other hand, if they stayed to find a cure, Cosima might not even survive the night. The seizure could be more severe, or another one could kill her. Even if Cosima’s health did not worsen, Scott might return with backup. Taking another look at Sarah, Delphine realized that their priority was to not get discovered in this position.
“Helena, can you stop Scott?” Delphine asked. If anyone was capable of preventing him to get to security, it was Helena.
Helena nodded, “Yes. I will snap his neck.” She made a disturbing motion with her hands to simulate breaking his neck and ran off.
“Merde, Helena no!” Delphine yelled. The Ukrainian assassin was too far down the corridor already. “Sarah, Scott might know where Neolution hides the cure.”
“Shite,” Sarah didn’t need more of an explanation. She ran after Helena.
All Delphine could do was hope that she would be on time. Turning her attention back to Cosima, she noticed that the clone was starting to wake up. “Cosima.” This time Delphine didn’t yell. She pushed the dreads out of Cosima’s face. “Don’t move.”
“What can I do?” Delphine had forgotten about Marion, who was still standing in the same spot next to the bed. Charlotte was tightly wrapped in her mother’s arms, staring at her bloody sister on the floor.
“We have to get her to a hospital,” said Delphine. They would have to take the risk of Neolution finding Cosima. She needed medical attention of the kind Delphine could not provide for without time and proper equipment.
Marion nodded, “There is a hospital downtown.” She put Charlotte down, and walked over to Delphine and Cosima. “Dr. Cormier, we need that cure.”
Delphine bit her lip, trying to figure out a plan. They did need a cure. They could leave now to get Cosima to a hospital and hope Sarah and Helena were able to find a cure. Delphine ran her hand through her curls; a large portion of her hair had fallen from the braid in her struggle with Cosima. Sarah and Helena did not know what to look for, if they failed, it could mean Cosima’s death.
Cosima was stirring again. She tried to say something, but only bubbles of blood were sputtering from her lips. Delphine stroked Cosima’s cheek with one hand, her other hand squeezed Cosima’s shoulder. She looked into Cosima’s unfocused eyes, and Delphine made a decision. “Can you carry her?”
Marion looked back at Delphine, “I suppose, she doesn’t look very heavy.”
“Good. Take her and Charlotte out of here. Get Cosima to the hospital.” Delphine let go of Cosima, who whimpered softly. “I will find you there,” said Delphine.
She would go find Sarah and Helena. Hopefully they had captured Scott who could lead them to a cure. If not they would have to find it themselves. Either way, a half-conscious clone and a small child would only slow them down.
“Will you be all right?”
Delphine nodded bravely. She wanted nothing more than to go back in time. Back to the cabin in the woods, where it was just the two of them. Or to the brief time before Cosima had known Delphine was her monitor, when they were happy in love. Even the time before she had known Cosima sounded better. At least there had not been the constant fear of losing her.
She gave Cosima a long kiss on her forehead. “I’ll come back for you,” Delphine whispered to Cosima. The clone’s delirious eyes did not react to the promise, had she passed beyond saving? As soon as Delphine pulled away from Cosima, Marion scooped her up. She groaned as she got up from her kneeling position, but once she stood the half-conscious woman in her arms did not seem to weigh anything.
“Please don’t let her die,” said Delphine, ‘without me.’
“Don’t worry about her,” Marion gave Delphine an encouraging smile, “You focus on finding that cure.”
Delphine took one last look at her girlfriend. Her head was hanging back and her eyes were lidded. Blood was still smeared all over her face and sweater and her glasses were dangling off one ear. Delphine carefully took the glasses and put them in her pocket. When she took her hand out of her pocket she was holding the gun.
After she checked the corridor for guards, Delphine gestured for Marion and Charlotte to follow.
They moved along far too slowly for Delphine’s liking. Marion was of course carrying Cosima, and Charlotte’s leg slowed them down as well. Fighting the urge to tell them to hurry, Delphine bit her lip hard enough to draw blood.
After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the staircase. Delphine held the door open for her companions, “Please be safe.”
Marion was too preoccupied with Cosima to react. Charlotte waved as she passed by Delphine. Delphine quietly closed the door behind them, wondering if she had made a huge mistake. Turning around she realized that there was nothing to be done about it now, aside from finding that cure.
Looking down the dimly lit corridor, she tried to figure out where to start. The building was not as large as the DYAD building in Toronto. Checking every room, closet, cupboard and drawer for a cure would still take days. And that was assuming there was a physical treatment. It could just as easily be an ordinary usb-stick she was looking for.
‘Merde,’ Delphine pulled out the phone Felix gave her before they left Canada. She sent a quick text to Sarah and Helena. Perhaps they had already found what they needed. She started walking down the corridor, gun in her right hand. Her phone was in the back pocket of her jeans so she would feel it vibrate if Sarah or Helena answered. With her left hand Delphine tried every door as she walked down the corridor. Most of them were locked. The few that were open were either empty examining rooms or offices.
With her heart pounding in her ears, Delphine skimmed through the files in the offices, stuffing the papers that might be interesting in her coat. This process continued for about thirty minutes, by some miracle she had not yet run into a guard. Once she heard the heavy footsteps of a man walking down the corridor. She had hidden in a dark supply closet until the footsteps had turned around the corner.
Delphine heard nothing from the twins or Marion. She told herself that this was a probably a good sign as she entered the next office.
Despite the fact that there had been no light on in the room, it was not empty. From behind the desk, an older woman was looking back at her. Both were staring at the other person, too surprised to say anything or move.
“Dr. Cormier,” the woman said as she got up from her chair.
Delphine aimed the gun at the vaguely familiar woman, “Who are you?”
Ignoring both the gun and the question, the grey haired woman walked over to Delphine. Standing only a meter from the gun, she said, “I take it you came to find a cure for your subject.”
Delphine nodded. Why else would she be here, breaking into a top-secret facility of a dangerous multinational corporation, holding a gun at an elderly lady? “Do you have it?”
“Yes,” the woman looked over at the bookcase to her left. “I understand your motives, Dr. Cormier. I love my daughter as much as you love miss Niehaus,” she smiled understandingly at Delphine. “Perhaps in a different manner.”
Delphine suddenly recalled where she had seen the woman before. “Susan Duncan?” Was the old, fragile looking lady standing before her really Rachel’s mother? She definitely resembled the younger Susan Duncan Delphine had seen in the pictures with Ethan during the early Leda experiment.
The lady nodded with a sly smile. She turned her back to Delphine, who was still holding the gun. “After Mr. Smith provided us so generously with the samples of The Original, I was able to fabricate a treatment from my previous studies.” Professor Duncan lifted an ordinary looking binder from one of the shelves. “See for yourself,” she handed the binder to Delphine.
Delphine looked at the binder, was that all? Did that thin, beige plastic folder really contain Cosima’s life? She put the gun back in her pocket, and took the binder from Susan’s hands. Was it really what she had been looking for?
Glancing back at Susan, Delphine started to skim the first page. It looked a lot like her own research. Flipping through the next pages, she took mental notes of the formulas, the numbers and the results. The last few pages contained several scans of the uterus, kidneys and lungs of a clone. Frowning, Delphine looked at Professor Duncan for an explanation. The first few images looked worse than Cosima’s last scans, but in the following images the polyps seemed to have shrunk significantly.
“Oh, we had very good results in our tests so far,” said Susan. “Everything you need to develop a cure for your dying girlfriend is in there, besides the stem cells of course.”
“What do you want in exchange?”
“To see my little girls healthy of course.”
“So you will let me walk out of here with this?” Delphine reached for her gun. Something was off; the smile on Professor Duncan’s face was a little too friendly. Down the corridor she heard footsteps, heavy and fast, they were coming closer.
“Of course not,” said Professor Duncan. “I want you to come work for me, for Neolution.” Her smile widened and she closed the gap between them. Delphine stiffened, her fingertips in her pocket, not yet touching the gun. Professor Duncan reached out and pulled the binder from Delphine’s hand, “If you simply surrender yourself and Cosima to me, I will personally guarantee that she will live.”
The footsteps were almost at the door.
“You can’t have her.” Delphine would turn herself in, if it meant Cosima would live. Before she could say anything else, the footsteps halted behind her and the sound of a gun blasted through the room.
Terrified, Delphine screamed and stumbled to the side. At first she thought she was hit, her chest was pounding. Looking at the open door, she saw Helena with the gun pointed at Susan.
The older woman was lying on the floor in a puddle of blood, clearly shot in her heart.
“Hello Delphine,” Helena said giving her a small wave.
Shocked, Delphine stared back at her.
“We have to go, the guard will have heard us.” Sarah grabbed Helena’s arm, which was covered in blood.
“Wait, the cure.” Delphine crossed the room to where Susan was.
“We couldn’t find it, Delphine,” said Sarah, “Let’s go, before the guards find us.”
Delphine shook her head. She kneeled down and pulled the binder from Susan’s hands, checking for a pulse with her other hand. Nothing, the director of Neolution was dead.
“You can’t have her,” Delphine said. She got up and walked out of the office followed by the two clones.
“Did you find Scott?” Delphine looked at the twins as they ran up the stairs.
“Yes, he cried like baby.” Helena said, “He will not cry anymore.”
They arrived at the top of the stairs and jogged towards the exit. “What did you do?”
“I snapped his neck,” said Helena as if it was nothing, “He shot you. He betrayed my sestras. I killed him.”
Shocked Delphine looked at Sarah. The clone shrugged her shoulders in a gesture that could mean just about anything. Deciding that Scott was not important enough, Delphine focused on more pressing matters.
The cold air hit Delphine hard as they exited the building into the alley. Her breath was forming small clouds in front of her face. Delphine clutched the binder in front of her chest. The van was gone and she had to get to Cosima at the hospital. With Susan dead, Neolution was no longer a threat. The only threat was Cosima’s health, and in her arms she held the solution. All she
had to do was figure out how to put it to use.
Chapter 20: Changes of habit or instinct
This is already the final chapter, please let me know what you think!
I would like to thank the wonderful Suyurisan, who so very kindly offered to beta this fic.
Thank you so much, I couldn't have done it without you!
She felt as if she had only just fallen asleep. A quick glance at the alarm clock on her bedside table confirmed this theory. The red numbers indicated that it was a little past seven in the morning. She hadn’t turned off the lights until almost four, studying a pile of papers for useful information for her thesis. Cosima had wanted to continue all night; she had already lost almost an entire year due to all the clone drama and illness. The floor on the left side of her bed was riddled with papers and articles covered in scribbles and theories. Somewhere within that pile of paperwork her phone was ringing loudly.
By the dim light of the early sun peeking through the gaps of the curtain, she sat up and picked her glasses up from the nightstand. Once she was wearing her glasses, she quickly found her phone and looked at the screen. It was Rachel. Frowning at the name, Cosima pressed the green button. “Rachel, to what do I owe the pleasure?” No one had heard anything of the disabled clone since she had ran off with Ferdinand almost six months ago.
“Miss Niehaus. How are you?” came the posh, British voice from the speaker.
“Uhm, fine. Thank you,” Cosima yawned and looked at the empty spot in the bed beside her. She ran her hand over the still warm area. The smell of fresh coffee was seeping into the room.
Delphine had probably gotten up a few minutes ago and was getting ready for work.
“That is most wonderful to hear,” said Rachel after clearing her throat.
Looking at the almost empty bottle of pills on her nightstand, Cosima suddenly understood Rachel’s reason for calling at this insane hour, “You are sick, aren’t you?”
At that moment Delphine entered their bedroom with two cups of coffee and a plate of breakfast. She was already wearing her work clothes and her curls were pinned into a neat chignon.
Cosima gave her a small wave, pointing at the phone next to her ear.
It remained silent on the other end of the line for a bit. Cosima sat back, waiting for Rachel to acknowledge what she already knew was true.
Frowning at what she had overheard, Delphine sat down next to Cosima. She set the plate on the nightstand and handed Cosima one of the steaming cups. Cosima took a small sip; she nearly burned her mouth and put the cup next to the plate to allow it to cool a bit first.
“It’s Rachel,” whispered Cosima leaning towards Delphine. She pressed a small kiss to Delphine’s cheek, just as Rachel decided to answer Cosima’s question.
“Yes, I am.”
“That sucks, dude,” Cosima waited for Rachel to ask for it. She was still angry about the way her sister had left them, after they had been through so much trouble to free her. It had put them in a very dangerous position and nearly killed Cosima. Yet Cosima would not wish for her worst enemy to go through the sickness, pain and treatments she had suffered in the past seven months.
Rachel was obviously not in the mood for Cosima’s games. “You found a treatment,” she stated.
“Yep, we did.” Cosima glanced at Delphine. Her girlfriend was biting her lower lip, clearly anxious to find out what Rachel wanted.
“And it worked.” Again it was a statement, not a question. Rachel was clearly well informed.
Cosima thought of how she had returned to Toronto, more dead than alive. How Delphine had worked around the clock to prepare the treatments amongst the ruins of DYAD. The doctor had sat beside her bed every spare minute she could find, holding her hand, encouraging her to eat, holding her dreads out of Cosima’s face as she threw up everything she ate.
When the treatment worked and Cosima was starting to feel better, her girlfriend had pushed her around the snow-covered park in a wheelchair. And when the first scans had come back clean, they had moved back to Minnesota. Moving in together because, as Delphine had put it, Cosima still needed around the clock supervision from a doctor.
Even now, almost seven months later, Cosima was still taking three pills a day. But she was back to working on her dissertation, doing most of the work from home. She was able to jog up the stairs again, to smoke without coughing up blood and to engage in all the physical activity she could want. “Yep, it did.”
A sigh came from the other end of the line; Rachel was not amused. “Would you share this treatment with me… please?”
“Of course, dear sister.”
“Brilliant, where are you?” Cosima took another sip from the coffee, this time it was perfect.
“In München. Could you come by?”
“Nope, a bit busy. Do you have a doctor you trust?” Delphine was looking at Cosima with a raised brow, waiting patiently until Cosima was finished with her conversation.
“Of course I do.”
‘Of course she does,’ Cosima thought. “Delphine will e-mail you the treatment.” She looked up at Delphine, silently asking for confirmation. Delphine nodded, the brilliant woman had probably worked out what Rachel wanted five minutes ago.
Rachel was nothing if not effective. She provided Cosima with her e-mail address and thanked her very formally. She even offered to pay for the information, which Cosima refused. Within a minute Rachel had hung up the phone. Cosima threw her own on the bed and moved over to Delphine. “Would you e-mail her today?”
“Of course, cherie,” answered Delphine. She kissed Cosima briefly, cupping the clone’s face with her free hand.
Cosima could taste the coffee and breakfast as she slipped her tongue between Delphine’s lips.
Delphine pulled away, “I have to run, I’ll be late for work.”
Cosima pouted at her, patting the bed next to her. “Are you sure you’d not rather stay?”
“Tempting, but I have a lecture to teach in less than an hour.” Delphine had taken a job in the biology department teaching a few immunology courses and doing her own research.
“Oh, okay.” Disappointed, Cosima leaned back into the pillows. Of course Delphine would be back in a few hours, but Cosima would much rather have her crawl back into bed. “I’ll be here, working on my dissertation.”
“Have fun,” Delphine gave her another quick kiss as she got up from the bed.
Cosima called back at her girlfriend, who had already left the bedroom. “I will!”
After she heard the front door close, Cosima picked up the bottle of pills. When she had finished this bottle, she would be completely done with the treatment. She unscrewed the lid and looked into the bottle. She could see the bottom already, and more importantly, what was hidden in the bottle. She would not take it out until she had swallowed every last pill in the bottle, but buried safe and secure in between the pale, pink pills was a simple silver ring.
Cosima fished a single capsule out of the bottle. Shaking it slightly she estimated that there was about two weeks left before she would present the (almost) empty bottle to Delphine. After her near-death experience, Cosima had know that she wanted to she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Delphine. Yet almost all of their time since then had been spend making sure Cosima, her sisters and even Delphine would survive.
Looking at the silver sparkling in between the pink pills, she realized that she was not longer surviving. Cosima was alive; she was truly happy and wanted to spend the rest of her life feeling this blissful. Rinsing down the pill with the last of the coffee, Cosima stretched. While she took a bite of her breakfast, Cosima turned her laptop and put the papers and articles back onto the bed. It was about time she did something and finished her thesis.
Chapter 21: Conditions of existence embraced
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.