Chapter 1: Part 1.
”Cosima, isn’t this a little... excessive?”
Delphine was nearly whispering, as if she were afraid the people downstairs might, somehow, hear her voice her concerns through the thick ceiling. Cosima, standing on the opposite side of the room with her nose pointed out the window, looked back at the other woman. Her slender body was leaned against the doorframe, her arms crossed over her chest and her bottom lip sucked into her mouth. Her feet were firmly parked on the doorstep as though she would be breaking some sort of invisible boundaries, if she were to actually enter the room. And although she met Cosima’s gaze with full confidence, that little wrinkle between her eyebrows made her look completely harmless. Utterly adorable
How the same woman had once killed a man was a complete mystery.
“Well…” Cosima answered, coolly, shrugging as she slanted across the floorboards. She grabbed Delphine’s hand, prompted her hesitant feet to follow her to the window. Delphine obeyed with a sigh, though her expression seemed slightly more cooperative now that their fingers were entwined. Cosima slipped her arm around her slim waist as they both examined the world on the other side of the window. Delphine put her forehead against the glass. A cloud of condensation formed by her lips.
Cosima didn’t have to say anything to sell the garden to Delphine. It spoke for itself. Trees towered around the perimeters, blocking noise and protecting from curious onlookers, while still letting plenty of sunlight pass through. Bushes and flower beds had been well taken care of by the rather meticulous previous owners, something which more than made up for the size of the garden – which admittedly was not that impressive. Everything had clearly been planned thoroughly, with reasonable portions of grass left empty for garden furniture, swing sets, or whatever one might desire to put there. It was green and lively and absolutely gorgeous.
This was the third house they had seen and their second time viewing it. Although, Cosima had already made up her mind the first time they had been there. She loved it. The other two houses had been smaller, more central. No gardens. Too modern, not spacious enough. She loved the more rustic feel of the wooden floorboards under her feet, the big windows, the broad staircase, the light and the air. It could use some renovating, sure. For one she knew Delphine would not be able to live with the kitchen at its current state, and no amount of realtor staging with fake flowers and decorations placed in odd locations could hide the fact that the walls would need a fresh coat of paint. But in a way that was exactly why Cosima liked it. It felt like an honest house. It felt right and it had felt right, instantly.
She glanced curiously at Delphine as they stood there, in silence. She could almost see the gears turning inside her much more indecisive mind.
“Pretty nice, yeah?”
“Yes, of course, I just-” Delphine exhaled deeply, drew her hand through her blonde curls in a frustrated motion. “I don’t know, Cosima. I know we have the money and yes it’s a lovely garden but… It’s too big, non? Do we really need three bedrooms?”
“Oh come on, they don’t have to be bedrooms. We could make like a study, or… replace the door with a bookcase, build a secret lab.”
Cosima slid her other arm around Delphine while she talked, pulled her towards herself, positioned her so that they were stomach to stomach. She kept her arms loosely tied around Delphine’s waist and Delphine put her hands on Cosima’s shoulders. Her fingertips traced the neckline of Cosima’s shirt. A small smile was playing on her lips. Clearly, she was close to giving in. Cosima smiled broadly before she leaned in and kissed her, knowing it would make her arguments much more compelling.
“I’ve always wanted a big house Delphine, I really think it would be perfect” she kissed Delphine’s now visible dimple, embraced her tighter. “I could totally see us having a bottle of wine on the porch, or like, cooking up some wacky experiment in the basement. We could have everyone over for dinner, it’s close to work… and you know what the best part is?”
Delphine shook her head. Cosima put her lips against her ear, conjured the huskiest, most seductive tone possible from the depths of her stomach and whispered: “Throw a rug in front of that fireplace downstairs and it’s the perfect place for me to go down on you until you-”
Just barely escaping a light slap aimed at her upper arm, Cosima jumped back from the window and caught Delphine’s hand mid-air. They both laughed.
“Come on, let’s check out the kitchen again. I know I’m winning this,” Cosima grinned. She grabbed Delphine’s other hand as she took another few steps back, stopping only to steal a kiss off Delphine's still chuckling lips. She paused briefly before she continued, gave Delphine a long look and swept a strand of blonde her behind her ear. Examined every detail of her beautiful face and pondered whether this was the right time to speak her mind. She quickly decided that it was. At least partially. After all, she wasn’t one to pass on an opportunity to tease.
She tugged Delphine along with her towards the door, unable to wipe the playful smile off her face. “Besides, I mean… who knows, maybe we do actually need three bedrooms.”
Having lived out of a suitcase for many years of her life, ‘home’ had always been a fluid concept for Delphine Cormier. Only after meeting Cosima, it had begun to take a more solid form. But home to her still was not home in the traditional sense, the way most people saw it – a specific place, a single address.
Home was any place where she could close her eyes and fall asleep to the sound of Cosima’s heartbeat. Wherever they bickered, fought and made up, simply talked about nothing, or got caught up in intense discussions about things only people with years of education behind them could fully comprehend. It could be anywhere. And it had been anywhere, for the past couple of years. A mattress in Felix’s apartment for a few weeks, the one bedroom student rental back in Minnesota while Cosima finally got her degree. Weekend trips to Paris, San Francisco. And currently, the modern flat right in the heart of Toronto.
Delphine liked the apartment. It was small but had plenty of closet and storage space, and the view from the balcony was sublime, especially at night. The two of them often spent hours out there, watching the web of lights from windows and streets spread out beneath them. It was absolutely beautiful. Personally, she did not mind that it was all paid for by the DYAD Institute, and she did not feel even a little bit guilty about the cost of the rent – which she knew was absurd, for the size of the place. It was the least DYAD could do for them after the hell they had been put through, and only one of many promises which had led to her and Cosima eventually choosing to return.
Scorned by past mistakes and close to bankruptcy, after Neolution had finally been taken out of the game, the institute had been desperate to repair and rebuild. They had sent a representative practically begging for forgiveness with a very generous job offer for the both of them. Naturally, they had not been easy to convince. But despite everything, Delphine found herself drawn towards the offer. And when she realized she would not only be able to steer the institute in a more positive direction, back to its roots in vaccines and cures rather than highly unethical experiments, but that she would also be able to take control of the future monitoring of the remaining clones’ health, and in turn administer their cure and eventual release from the program, she simply couldn’t turn it down. After many long discussions as well as some minor arguments, Cosima had come to the same conclusion. They had left Minnesota no more than a week after Cosima had graduated.
And now here they were. Looking at houses.
The normalcy of the task was possibly the weirdest thing about it.
Back when she had been recruited by DYAD for the first time, Delphine had not thought twice about leaving the only country she had ever called home behind to follow her heart across the ocean. And now Cosima was her heart. Of course, she would do the same thing again, if asked. The decision was even easier now that they were staying in the same city. It was another question - or, rather hint of a question - that had been brought up earlier that day which had sent her mind spinning.
“Cosima, can I ask you something?”
She eyed the other woman cautiously over the edge of her wine glass. Cosima looked up from the blueprints on the coffee table next to them, sporting her usual confident grin. Seemingly unaware of the quiet state Delphine had been in all evening. “Of course babe.”
“You were, uhm,” Delphine hesitated, chewing on her lip. That smile always got to her. She knew Cosima too well to be fooled by innocent shrugs, but when she smiled like that she looked so carefree, like nothing in the world could ever bother her. It threw Delphine’s constantly calculating mind off balance. She had to take another sip of wine before she could bring herself to actually ask the question.
“You... were talking about babies before, weren’t you?”
Cosima looked perplexed for a second. Then she laughed, shaking her head at Delphine’s investigating stare. “I mean... Maybe not plural babies right away but… I suppose I was. Believe it or not I was trying to be, like, subtle about it.”
“Subtle is not your thing chérie.”
“Yeah, yeah” Cosima put her wineglass on the table, shifted her weight on the couch so that they were facing each other. Their fingers entwined on top of Delphine’s knee. “You don’t think about stuff like that?”
“Well, I… Guess I just haven’t considered it, you know? And when I fell in love with you I just figured… Us being women and all.”
“What, because you’re from the Stone Age?” Cosima laughed again, after another brief pause. Delphine felt her face warm up and she looked down at the hand squeezing her own, shaking her head at her own words. Cosima’s thumb swept over her burning cheek. “Delphine if we do want kids there are plenty of ways. We could adopt or… I read this really cool article about methods using stem cells and bone marrow to create artificial sperm and stuff, I mean we could even have our own biological kids if we expand on that. Sure we’re way smarter than whoever started that research.”
Delphine lost track of her own words before her mind could even begin to form a logical sentence.
Truth was, since the beginning of their relationship, she had been so preoccupied with trying to just keep the two of them alive, even now that she no longer had to worry about it, she was so used to that mindset she had not even considered the possibility of bringing something else into the equation of their everyday lives. Cosima was clearly thinking about it. A lot. And now that the idea had entered her mind, so was Delphine.
“No pressure though,” Cosima added, in response to Delphine’s silence. A grain of anxiety could clearly be heard through the calmness of her voice. “You know I’m happy as long as we’re together, D. I just wanted to let you know I’m not… not thinking about it. Or some bullshit.”
Delphine emptied the contents of her glass before she put it on the table. Delphine could feel her pulse beating harder with every passing second.
The sunset breaking through the big windows filled the room with pink and orange light. Delphine let go of Cosima’s hand and instead allowed her fingertips to trace the colorful pattern of shadows and tattoos decorating Cosima’s skin. She followed the lining of her arm up to her shoulder, then slipped her fingers around Cosima’s neck and pulled her closer. As always a small wave of relief washed over her at the sensation of healthy warmth radiating from the other woman’s skin, when seeing that spark in her eyes, no longer dimmed by her illness. She brushed their noses together swiftly before she brought their lips together for a long kiss. Something about the sudden change in the atmosphere had made it impossible for her to resist.
“You know, for the record,” she mumbled quietly, their lips merely a breath apart. “I… don’t think it is bullshit.”
The familiar taste and feeling of something that was pure Cosima filled Delphine with a certain kind of warmth as they kissed again, more eagerly this time. Somehow the moment seemed intensified by the serious undertone of the short conversation. The words that had not been spoken seemed to spur them both on even more. Delphine could feel her heart racing all the way up to her ears by now. It was intoxicating. Cosima was intoxicating. She simply couldn’t stop herself from pushing against her, to touch her. Desire spread through Delphine’s body like wildfire.
A firm hand slid up her thigh. Her own hands slid down over Cosima's chest, feeling the curve of her breasts under her shirt. Nails scratched Delphine's sensitive skin and teased her already alert nerves through the thin fabric of her pants. Every touch sent a tremor down her spine. Completely lost in the sensation of her lips, she barely noticed how Cosima pushed her down on her back, until the light weight of the other woman’s body between her instinctively spread thighs made her moan softly into the kiss. She wanted more. Friction was not nearly enough to ease the trembling tension building up inside her stomach.
Their breaths were strained when they eventually pulled away just enough to look at each other. Delphine held Cosima’s face with unsteady hands, caressing her cheeks. Brown eyes examined her through thick-rimmed glasses. Then Cosima smiled in that way again, and Delphine felt as though she might actually fall apart for real. But in a good way. All she could do was laugh quietly through heavy breaths.
“So I will call the realtor tomorrow and make an offer on the house,” she whispered, her voice much thicker than usual. Cosima’s response was an even broader smile and in return Delphine pulled her even closer. Forehead to forehead. Warm breaths tickled her already flushed skin. “But now I really need you to take my clothes off.”
I have been thinking about the future of DYAD a lot, for some reason. So this chapter contains a little bit of that because it's fun to speculate.