“Mommy? Do we have any milk?”
Cosima frowned, hopping down from her perch on the kitchen counter and putting the newspaper on the table. “I don’t know, my little monkey.”
Ruffling her 6-year-old’s short hair, Cosima skipped over to the fridge and looked in the door. “Hmm, it does not look like it,” she mused. Louder, she called, “Delphiiiiiiine?”
“Ouais?” a French voice responded from upstairs.
Cosima popped her head around the doorframe of the stairs so she could see her wife getting ready in the bathroom. “We have to go to the store, Marie’s outta milk and I need a bunch of stuff too.”
“Yeah, I was planning on going today after work,” Delphine said absently, trying to scrunch her curls into something presentable. “Do you want to come? I can pick you up when you’re done with classes.”
“Sure, my last class gets over at three.” Cosima yawned, climbing onto the stairs and laying across the carpeted steps, giggling at Delphine’s exasperated look.
“Cosima, get up, I haven’t vacuumed,” she said, trying to step around her wife’s limp form. The façade cracked, however, when Cosima swatted at her ankles as she descended. Delphine grinned, and, upon getting to the bottom of the steps, kneeled on the second or third so she was straddled across Cosima’s hips. Pressing a toothpaste-flavored kiss to her lips, Cosima slid her hands around Delphine’s waist, pulling her closer.
“This is a good vantage point,” Delphine whispered against Cosima’s mouth. “We should do this more often…”
“Eww!” a shriek came from behind them.
Delphine yelped, springing to her feet and straightening her blouse. “Marie? Ça va?”Realizing there was no emergency, she started giggling at the sight of her daughter’s aghast expression, then checked the time on the wall: 8:15. “Are you ready for school, ma cherie?”
“Yes, maman,” she said before continuing, “What were you and mommy doing? Did she fall down?”
Delphine shot Cosima a look that plainly said I-do-not-have-time-for-this-please-save-me-Cosima (a look they’d shared plenty of times over the course of their work at Dyad).
Cosima still lay against the steps, laughing. “I can drop her off, babe. You get to work.”
“Okay,” Delphine smiled, kissing Marie and Cosima each on the forehead. “I’ll see my Madame Curie and my Doctor Cosima later, non? Cosima, can you ask Sarah to pick her up after school?” After a nod from Cosima, she bid, “Adieu, mes amours.”
Cosima watched as Delphine gathered her keys and various file folders and left through the back door with a wave and a blown kiss.
“Time to get my monkey to school!” Cosima exclaimed, hopping off the stairs and pulling her daughter into a bear hug.
“Read chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight for Wednesday, but that’s about it, folks!” Cosima called to her lecture hall at two fifty-five, shuffling papers and gathering her things. “Also, don’t forget about your term papers!”
Why do I even bother? She shook her head, grinning at the hundred or so college kids under her charge. Like any of them actually were gonna start their papers on time.
Through the din, she made out a tapping at the door.
Somebody called, “Niehaus, Delphine’s here.”
Cosima smiled, baring her teeth and hopping over to open the door for Delphine.
“Am I early?” she asked as Cosima slipped a hand around her waist and pressed a kiss to her cheek.
“Nope, we’re just wrapping up. Pop a squat anywhere.”
Evidently, the squat Delphine had opted to pop was Cosima’s desk chair, barring her access. “C’mon, babe, I gotta get my stuff…”
Delphine only grinned, patting her legs and spinning in the chair. The several students left watched their antics, apparently amused.
I see how it’s gonna be, Cosima thought, and sat down right on top of her wife, flashing a thumbs up at the kids.
“Hey, keep it PG, Niehaus,” one of her more outspoken students called from the middle rows, grinning and packing up his things.
“Hey, I see you and that anthro chick in the hallways, Wallace,” she teased back. “That shit’s rated, like, X.”
“Cosima,” Delphine said, scolding, but the fingers that trailed up Cosima’s skirt under the desk told a different story. “Hurry up, we have to go.”
“Chill, the store’s open until, like, 11.” Cosima said, wiggling her butt a little and making Delphine’s hands clasp involuntarily against her thigh at the pressure.
“Yeah, but if Sarah has Marie for the evening, we could…have some fun,” she whispered into Cosima’s ear as the last few people trickled out of the room.
A smile tugged at the corners of Cosima’s mouth. “I know what fun is for Delphine Cormier,” she replied.
“And what is that?”
“Putting away the groceries before vacuuming,” she hissed seductively, turning around in the chair to straddle Delphine’s legs and pressing her mouth to her wife’s. The swivel chair rolled backwards slightly, making Cosima lose her footing against the desk. Delphine grabbed hold of her hips to keep her from falling, leaving the two women nose to nose.
“This is probably really unsafe,” Cosima whispered.
“Oui,” Delphine agreed, letting her gaze fall across Cosima’s body. “We’ll have time later.”
“I still don’t know why you don’t let me drive,” Cosima muttered, slinging her arm through Delphine’s as they walked across the parking lot.
Delphine shrugged. “I like driving. Do you have the list?”
“Totally thought you had it.”
“Okay, here, we need milk, bread, and apple juice, and I wanted to make that one soup later this week so we need a red pepper.” Cosima wrenched a cart out of the lineup and immediately hopped onto the footrest, Delphine steering it from behind her, their bodies pressed together.
They entered the familiar store, finding the produce section with ease.
“You know, you used to chastise me for riding on the cart,” Cosima observed as Delphine carefully examined a bell pepper.
Again, Delphine shrugged. “Is the apple juice for you or Curie?” she asked absently, checking things off an impromptu list.
“Okay, but get the sugar free kind, neither of you need any more cavities.”
“Yes, mom.” Cosima rolled her eyes.
“Can you also grab the milk? I’ll find the bread, and meet me in baking—we need to start thinking about Marie’s birthday party.”
Cosima walked away with the cart, shaking her head at the marvel that was Delphine Cormier. Even with the world’s biggest stick up her ass, her wife was actually the only reason their family was at all functional—and she did it while maintaining a full-time research position. Her master schedule included everything from work assignments to thinking ahead to get Marie out of the house for the evening, and, snarky though she was, Cosima was ever grateful. Okay, maybe except when Delphine was lecturing her about dental hygiene. That got old pretty fast.
“Milk, milk, milk, wonderful milk, milk, milk,” Cosima hummed to herself in search of the dairy section. She passed cereal—made a mental note to come back—and bread, where she watched Delphine laboring over bread brands for a second, but still. No. Dairy.
I can teach masters classes in epigenetics but I can’t find the fucking—
Okay, now to find baking.
She meandered around the food section for a few minutes before she heard behind her, “Cosima! Cosima, wait up!”
Turning, Cosima found Delphine hurrying towards her with two loaves of bread under one arm and some sort of canvas (?) under the other.
Probably should’ve left her the cart.
“What is that?” Cosima asked, gesturing to the box-like thing her wife was carrying.
“Oh, I found it in the home improvement section, don’t you like it?” Delphine excitedly held up the canvas, which read in curly font,
‘This home is filled with love and laughter.’
Cosima burst out laughing. “Delphine, what the fuck? That’s literally so cheesy.”
“Don’t you like it? I thought it was nice…” Delphine looked back at the decoration, seeming genuinely hurt.
Cosima immediately felt guilty for her reaction. She reached out a hand to turn Delphine’s chin toward her. “Hey, look at me?” she said softly. “I’m sorry. How about after the party stuff we go look at the others and try and find something less…cliché?”
A grin played across Delphine’s mouth. “Okay,” she said with a peck on Cosima’s lips. “Let’s go find a nice cake mix.”
Even though their daughter’s 7th birthday wasn’t for another month and a half, they’d agreed a few birthdays ago that starting early was the best way to go. Invitations needed to be sent, two separate parties had to be organized, and decorations needed to be bought…it was better for everybody’s sanity to just start early.
They found the baking aisle and Cosima beelined for a box of rainbow cake mix. “Delphine, check it out!”
Delphine raised an eyebrow. “I was thinking chocolate, maybe?”
“C’mon, your family would love it.”
They’d agreed on buying a nice cake for the children’s party, and just baking one for the family party, but that still left the decision of which mix to get. It was an annual struggle that usually ended with Delphine winning the fight to get chocolate and being indebted to Cosima for the next several days.
It generally worked well for both parties.
Delphine scoffed. “Have you met my father? The cake’s too gay, Cosima.”
“Yeah, and his daughter being married to a woman is not gay at all.”
Delphine couldn’t help but grin and pull Cosima close to her by the waist. “Shh, don’t let him know.”
Delphine’s father had taken more time than her mother to come around to the idea of his daughter being with Cosima, but that didn’t stop him from loudly voicing his views on current events regarding same-sex marriage at family dinners. It generally didn’t faze Cosima anymore as long as he kept it down around Marie. However, Cosima’s parents were a different story. Full on hippies, the Niehauses and Cormiers notoriously got into it at parties, a fact of which both Cosima and Delphine were highly aware.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t just go over to my parents’ for dinner one day after her birthday?”
Tempting though it was, Delphine responded grudgingly, “No, they’re flying out just for this. They’re gonna want to see your family.”
“I’ll talk to Mom and Dad,” Cosima groaned, replacing the offending cake mix on the shelf.
“So will I,” sighed Delphine. “Just grab a chocolate one and the frosting. We’ll come back with Marie to get the decorations.”
After tossing the items into the cart, Cosima laced her fingers with Delphine’s and started towards the home improvement section.
“How were you able to get off work so early?” Cosima asked as they searched for the cheesy plaques again.
“We’re starting those new trials in a few weeks, so I only had administrative stuff to do today,” she yawned.
“Oh yeah, you’ll have to tell me how those go. Also, you’re coming in to talk to my classes next Thursday, right?”
“Yeah, I have to prepare that…”
“C’mon, it’s the same presentation every year. Oh, there’s those canvas thingies.” Cosima pointed with her free hand, steering the cart to a wall full of heinously cheesy wall decals.
Delphine scanned the wall, then gestured to one about halfway up. “Okay, how about that one, Cosima?”
It read, ‘Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and family is forever.’
“Delphine, you’ve gotta be kidding me.”
“Fine, what about ‘There’s no place like home.’”
“Okay, fine. But only because of the Wizard of Oz.”
“I’ll take it,” Delphine grinned. “Can you get it down?”
“Are you serious?”
Delphine glanced between Cosima and the plaque, which was easily three feet above her head. She shrugged. “I could pick you up.”
Cosima raised her eyebrows. “Alright, try it.”
Giggling, Delphine wrapped her hands around Cosima’s waist, lifting her several inches into the air. Cosima snatched at the beige frame, but it wouldn’t budge. She felt Delphine’s grip on her sides loosening.
“D-Delphine? Do you have me?” she asked, still swatting at the canvas. It must have been on a hook or something…
“Yeah,” Delphine grunted, repositioning one of her hands jerkily. “Cosima? I’m gonna put you down, okay?”
“Wait, I’ve got it—” Cosima made a final reach, pushing the canvas up and away from the wall as Delphine’s hands gave out. She landed hard on the tiled floor, stepping backwards and almost knocking over Delphine. “Whoa, sorry, babe—”
Cosima whipped around, catching Delphine’s hand and steadying her. They found that when they had both straightened up, Cosima’s feet were between her wife’s.
“My savior,” Delphine whispered with a grin, her face inches away from Cosima’s.
Cosima giggled. “Shut up.”
“C’mere,” Delphine grinned, hooking her fingers around Cosima’s waist and pressing their lips together, the canvas squished between them.
After a few long moments (or possibly several years), they broke away to hear a small voice say, “Mommy, I didn’t know two girls could kiss each other.”
A woman’s laugh followed. “Yes, darling. Don’t bother them.”
“I’m gonna go say hi.”
Little footsteps approached, and Cosima whispered with a smile, “Look out.”
“Hey, kiddo!” Cosima greeted as a girl with long black braids came skipping up to them.
“You kiss like Mommy and Daddy,” she stated, looking from Cosima to Delphine as her mother approached.
“I’m sorry,” the mother said with an apologetic smile, trying to pull her daughter away.
“No, no, it’s fine,” Delphine smiled and asked the girl, “What’s your name?”
“Katie!” she said proudly. “I’m seven.”
Cosima and Delphine glanced at each other, grinning.
“We have a daughter your age,” Cosima said. “Her name is Marie.”
“Can I meet her?”
“We’ll see,” the mother said quietly to Katie. She turned to Delphine and extended her hand. “I’m Vanessa.”
“Enchantée. I’m Delphine.”
“I’m Cosima,” the other woman said, taking Vanessa’s hand in turn.
Katie was pulling at her mother’s skirt, whispering, “I wanna meet her.”
Casting an amused glance at Katie, Delphine said, “How about we give you our number and you can give us a call about a playdate?”
Cosima grinned—she always said the word ‘playdate’ so French.
“Cosima, why don’t you give her yours—I’ll put this in the cart.” Delphine gently pried the canvas away from her wife and placed it against the baking items in their cart.
“So is Marie your only one?” Vanessa was asking when Delphine returned, having inputted Cosima’s phone number into her own.
“Yup,” Cosima replied, resting her hand on Delphine’s shoulder. “We thought about more, but we both work full time.”
“Oh, what do you do?”
“I’m a professor at York,” Cosima smiled, catching Delphine’s eye.
“And I do, ah, research at the hospital.”
They didn’t love lying to people, but it was sometimes necessary and easier than ‘Yes, my wife monitors me for an illegal cloning trial and now she does research on me and my other clones.’
“What about yourself?” Delphine asked with a courteous smile.
“Oh, I’m a teacher at the middle school she’ll be going to.” Vanessa gestured to Katie, who was sitting on the ledge, evidently bored.
Vanessa’s phone buzzed in her hand. She looked at it, saying, “That’s my husband—we’d better get going.”
“See you later!”
Cosima and Delphine waved to both Vanessa and Katie, the former of which said, “We’ll talk to you soon, okay?”
As soon as Vanessa and Katie were out of earshot, Cosima turned to Delphine, raising her hand for a high-five.
“We made a friend for our kid!” she exclaimed, Delphine slapping her hand.
“Well,” Delphine countered, “only because she was enthralled by us kissing.”
“A friend is a friend.” Cosima pushed the cart past the wall of horribly cheesy quotes into the rest of the home improvement section. “Anything else we need?”
“Mm, I don’t think so,” Delphine said after a moment. “You have Marie’s milk, right?”
“Mmhmm. And your plaque thingy. You know, I think it’ll be nice, especially with new guests so they know we aren’t lesbian heathens,” Cosima continued.
“Speak for yourself,” Delphine muttered.
Cosima slipped her hand around Delphine’s waist again and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I know, my little heathen.”
Giggling, Delphine pushed the cart through the aisles, maneuvering their way toward the registers. “C’mon, let’s go home, heathen.”
Cosima was perched again on the countertop, swinging her legs impatiently against the cabinets and waiting for Delphine to finish putting away the groceries.
Before Cosima could even hop down from the counter, the other woman had covered the ground between them in two strides and positioned herself between Cosima’s knees, hands drifting to her waist. The mouth that pressed to Cosima’s was hot, and she leaned into the woman standing over her.
“Shit, Delphine,” Cosima breathed. “You’re not wasting any time, are you?”
“I was thinking about you all day,” she hissed against Cosima’s lips, fingers already working on unbuttoning her shirt. “And about last week…in the bathtub…and about a few weeks ago…in your classroom,” she said between fervent kisses.
“Fuck,” Cosima groaned, leaning further against Delphine’s body in an attempt to increase the pressure. “Let’s go upstairs—there are windows here.”
Suddenly, Delphine pulled away without warning, cutting off all contact except for nimble fingers which entwined with her own, and together, they hurried upstairs.
“Cosima? Are you awake?” Delphine whispered, her long frame wrapped around Cosima’s amidst a mess of sheets.
“Mmhmm,” she responded, taking one of Delphine’s hands at her side and gently playing with her fingers.
Pressing kisses to the back of Cosima’s neck, she said softly, “I love you.”
“I know.” Delphine felt Cosima’s body shake for a moment with giggles. “I think the whole neighborhood knows it too by this point. You’re very loud, Cormier.”
After a playful slap to Cosima’s hip, Delphine gasped. “I just remembered—”
Her wife hopping out of bed with none of the tiredness of thirty seconds previous, Cosima sat up and craned her neck to watch her naked form leave the room. “Delphine? Where are you going?”
She returned a few seconds later, baring a large canvas square in front of her body.
“Oh my god,” Cosima groaned. “You’re not hanging that shit in here, are you?”
“I’ll hang it right over our bed,” Delphine said, climbing onto the bed and perching the horrid plaque on the bedframe.
Cosima watched her hips sway, mind wandering to their position a half an hour ago. Grinning, she reached for Delphine’s hipbones, trying to pull her back down into the bed.
“Hey, my hips are sore,” Delphine complained, wiggling to get Cosima’s hands away.
Cosima laughed gently, now pressing light kisses to the jutting bones. “And who do you have to thank for that?”
Delphine jumped down onto the bed, having positioned the canvas to her liking. “You,” she said, pulling Cosima’s face to hers.
Giggling, Cosima pulled Delphine on top of her again, their sore lips unrelenting.
“Hey, Delphine?” Cosima breathed against her favorite lips. “I love you too.”