Chapter 1: Fear
Delphine looks in the mirror and sees nothing behind her eyes – no feeling, no emotions, and definitely no love. She ties her curls up in a tight bun and flattens her milky white uniform, rolling a lint roller over every inch, making sure it looks pristine. She unlocks the drawer of her nightstand and takes her firearms out, sliding them into her holsters. Ever since the third world war, Delphine knew that she wanted to become a Cleric and she worked incredibly hard to become the youngest in her squad. She kept her head down, took her daily injections and did whatever it took to do her job right. Her partner, Beth, was just as determined and it was because of their mutual understanding of doing their job to the best of their ability that made them work so well together.
World War III had brought the world to the brink of destruction and a worldwide mandate went around that forced the human population to become devoid of all emotions in hopes that it would prevent further violence. Every man, woman, and child was required to take daily injections of a medication cocktail called Casteda, that suppressed all emotions and all things that could potentially illicit emotions, such as music, books, and all forms of media, were outlawed. Clerics were the law enforcement individuals tasked with finding and arresting these sense offenders, and also in charge of ridding the world of any forbidden objects. They are governed by Neolution, led by The Father, to keep the peace and ensure that their vision of emotionless remains intact, preventing further war and violence.
This day is like any other day. Delphine and Beth are out patrolling when they receive a call about a sense offender being found in the slums. They accept the call and drive out to the house where the operator directed them. When they get there, they find a few other officers already there, one of them being Rachel. She’s the type of Cleric who would do anything to rise in the ranks and doesn’t care who she steps on along the way.
“What’ve we got?” Beth asks as she and Delphine walk up to Rachel.
“Level two sense offender. Look at all these illegal materials I found,” Rachel replies, pointing to a pile of things in the middle of the driveway. Other officers are dousing it with gasoline and throwing matches, setting it alight. Delphine sees books and music records poking out and slowly burning.
“Let’s go inside, Cormier,” Beth calls over to her. She follows her partner inside the house and they find a woman on her knees with her hands behind her head.
“Katja Obinger, you are under arrest for the crime of sensory offense, to which the punishment is death,” one of the officers announces. Beth ascends the stairs with Delphine behind her. Officers are in each room, searching for more illegal objects. Beth kneels down in front of a bookshelf and rubs the spines of a few books. She pulls one out and reads the cover. A gunshot from downstairs distracts Delphine and she turns toward the door. When she brings her attention back to Beth, she notices that her partner has a hand in her jacket pocket and the books on the shelves have been shifted, but doesn’t question it.
“We’re done here. These officers have it under control,” Beth says as she stands back up. She walks back downstairs and Delphine follows once again. Delphine notices the body of the woman is now curled up on the ground with a pool of blood flowing across the wooden floor. They climb back into their vehicle and drive off.
“We are doing a lot of good here,” Delphine says.
“We are?” Beth replies, looking over at her partner.
“Pardon?” Delphine looks at her questioningly.
“We are,” Beth answers, more certain this time.
Soon after they get back on the road, they receive another call about a disturbance in the town square and head there. When they arrive, they see a woman standing in the middle of a crowd, shouting and waving a gun in the air. Delphine gets out of the car and walks up to another officer, who has a rifle perched on the hood of his car.
“We can’t get a clear shot without possibly hitting a bystander,” he says. Delphine removes her firearms from her holsters and hands them to Beth. She heads toward the center of the square. The woman fires the gun in the air and the crowd flinches briefly, but they don’t move.
“Look at all of you,” the woman sneers. “Nothing but mindless clones. You don’t feel anything, don’t desire anything. You don’t enjoy anything. You’re all the same.” She fires the gun again and the crowd doesn’t move, only frustrating the woman even more. She points the gun at the dead body of a man on the ground. “I shot him, because he was abusing me and none of you even care about that. You only care that a man is dead and that a sense offender did it.”
Delphine climbs onto the platform where the woman is standing, holding her hands out in front of her and opening her jacket to show she is unarmed. “What is your name?” she asks gently.
“I ain’t telling you my name, Blondie.”
Delphine nods. “Listen to me, no one here wants to hurt you. We just want to make sure that you don’t hurt anyone else.”
The woman scoffs. “Bollocks. I’ve seen what you do to sense offenders. We’re the equivalent of animals to you.”
“What we’re doing works. You see all of these people? They don’t feel any fear, something I’m sure you’re feeling now. If everyone followed through with their injections, all of these negative feelings, everything that causes violence in people, would be gone. No more depression, no sadness, no anger.”
“What do you want from me?” the woman asks, voice shaking.
“I just want you to stop feeling bad,” Delphine answers. She holds her hand out and her fingers bloom open like a flower, showing a small vial in her hand. “I want all of the rage and anger rushing through your head to stop.”
The woman reaches out and takes the vial in her hand, tears flowing freely. In an instant, Delphine knocks the gun out of the woman’s hand and throws her to the concrete, kneeing her in the back to keep her subdued, while other officers rush in to assist. She stands and sees Beth in the back of the crowd; Delphine gives her partner a tiny smile and a nod, but Beth doesn’t return the smile. The drive back to headquarters is quiet. When they get back, Delphine is called into an office, where a tall man is standing.
“Hello, Officer Cormier – or, perhaps I should call you ‘Doctor’. I read in your file that you left medicine to become a Cleric, is that right?”
“Yes, I wanted to do more, have a bigger impact.”
“I see,” the taller man says. “I assume you know who I am.”
Delphine nods. “Of course, sir. You’re Aldous Leekie, the voice of The Father.”
“That’s right, very good,” Leekie replies. “You are quite young, Officer Cormier. You were able to get your medical license and complete Clerical Academy in record time.”
“I have always been driven,” Delphine answers.
Leekie hums. He taps his fingers on the desk below him. “Looking at your files, I noticed you have an impeccable record for search and seizure. You are able to find contraband wherever it may be hidden.”
Leekie sets down the folder he was holding. “Do you have a family, Officer Cormier?”
Delphine cocks her head slightly to the side. “I don’t see what that…”
“I am just making small talk, Officer Cormier, nothing more,” Leekie explains.
“No, I do not have a family.”
Leekie flips through the file and lands on a photograph of Delphine and a man with dark hair. They are sitting together, smiling. “And him?”
“Guillaume,” Delphine whispers.
“Delphine, come look at this,” a voice said from the backyard of their home. Delphine stood in the doorway and looked at her mate, who was kneeling in front of the garden. He plucked a flower out of the dirt and held it up to her. “It is beautiful, non?”
Delphine nodded. She knew he’d been skipping his injections and it worried her, but she’d never seen him like this, so open and free. So… happy. He stood in front of her and offered the flower. She took it and kissed him, smiling slightly at the red petals.
“You are beautiful,” he said, running a hand through her hair. “I wish you would skip your Casteda injections, even if it was just one. You can’t even imagine what it feels like to feel everything.”
“You know I can’t, Guillaume. Not with my job.”
“As a doctor, I thought you would have figured out how to trick the scanners by now.”
Delphine shook her head. Of course she knew how to trick the scanners, but she’d never felt the need to. Skipping her doses never crossed her mind before Guillaume had suggested it weeks ago.
“You need to be more careful,” Delphine said. “If anyone catches you, you know what they do to sense offenders.”
“Yes, I know. I will be careful,” he kissed her forehead and walked back into the house. Delphine followed him and set the flower inside a vase, placing it on the windowsill. As Guillaume began walking toward the living room, the front door of the house was thrown open and a group of Clerics entered.
“Guillaume Nadeau, you are under arrest for Sensory Offense.” One of the officers cuffed him and another hung onto Delphine.
“Guillaume?” Delphine said weakly.
“It will be okay, Delphine. Say nothing. You did nothing wrong.”
The officers searched the house and one found a false wooden plank in one of the walls in the bathroom. He pried it open and found a stash of skipped doses. Another officer found a hidden room, where they discovered books and paintings. During her interrogation, Delphine denied any involvement and said she didn’t have any idea that her mate was a sense offender. Since her scan showed that she was still taking her doses, the Clerics found no reason to hold her.
On the day of his execution, Delphine was given the chance to witness it, but she didn't go. After that was when she decided to become a Cleric, as a sort of penance. She knew her mate was a sense offender, but did nothing to stop it. Should could have tried convincing him to start his doses again, tried anything, and he might still be alive. So, now, she would spend the rest of her life exposing other sense offenders.
“He was my mate.”
“And a sense offender,” Leekie adds.
“Yes, he was.”
“You didn’t pick up on it at all?” Leekie pries.
Delphine shakes her head. “No, I had no idea. I, I should have known.”
“All right. That is enough questioning for today. Thank you for indulging me, Officer Cormier. Keep up the good work.”
“Thank you, sir.” Delphine takes her leave and lets out a long breath when she’s no longer near Leekie’s office. When she goes back home, she replays the day’s video recordings. She watches the discussion that she and Beth had in the car, on the way to the town square.
“We are doing a lot of good here.”
Delphine pauses the video and examines Beth’s face. Her partner’s eyebrow is raised slightly and her the corner of her mouth is turned upward in a sneer. She fast forwards to the town square with the woman and the gun. At one point, the woman had pointed the gun directly at Delphine. Delphine scans the crowd and the other officers and none of them had moved and inch. When she focuses on Beth, however, she sees her partner reaching for her guns, afraid for the former doctor’s life.
“Beth, what have you done?” Delphine whispers to herself.
Delphine takes a small team of officers with her to Beth’s apartment. She checks in with the security to make sure Beth isn’t there.
“No, ma’am. Says here she left about a half hour ago and hasn’t returned.”
Delphine and the rest of the officers make their way into Beth’s apartment, letting themselves in. They do a quick sweep to make sure there are no others inside and once it’s been cleared, Delphine looks around. She checks the bedroom and the bathroom, but finds nothing. When she gets to the study, she looks through the drawers of the desk and doesn’t find anything incriminating. She stands with her hands on her hips and scans the room once more. Her eyes land on the brick wall and she notices that one of the bricks is loose. She jiggles it a little until it comes loose and finds a hidden compartment. Inside is about a month’s worth of injections. She reaches in and removes a handful of vials, realizing that she’s just signed her partner’s death warrant.
Delphine and the rest of the officers leave the apartment and head toward a park that she remembers Beth mentioning once before. They find her sitting on a bench, overlooking the water. She’s holding a book in her hands and Delphine recognizes it from the Obinger house.
“Beth?” Delphine says cautiously. She instructs the rest of the officers to stand back.
“Why do you think they have these benches facing the water? Only sense offenders would truly appreciate the view.”
“Beth, you need to come with me.”
“Cormier, we’ve been partners for a long time. I know you knew I stopped taking my doses, but you didn’t want to admit it. You couldn’t admit missing another sense offender right under your nose… again.”
“Please, Beth. Come with me now and I’ll try to get them to go easy on you.”
Beth scoffs. “You know they don’t go easy on anyone. I’m as good as dead, no matter what. How can you live like this, Cormier? How can you feel nothing?”
Delphine furrows her brow. “What we do works,” she says, repeating what she told the woman in the town square. “There is no more war. You saw yourself earlier. Anger and fear led that woman to murder.”
“Yeah, yeah. With no fear and hatred, we become better as a whole, right? We’ve given up everything that makes us human, Delphine. I hope you see that someday.” She reaches into her coat, grabbing her weapon and Delphine lifts her firearms and points them at Beth.
“Beth, please don’t make me do this.”
Beth smirks. “Is the mighty Delphine Cormier feeling something? Regret? Guilt? It was an honor to serve with you, Cormier.” She pulls the hammer back and aims the gun at her temple. A shot rings through the night air and Beth’s lifeless body falls across the bench. Rachel walks up, seemingly out of thin air, and stands next to Delphine.
“It isn’t like you to hesitate, Officer Cormier. If it had been anyone else, you would have terminated her at the first sight of a weapon.”
“I was trying to give her a chance to turn herself in,” Delphine argues. “I owed her that much.”
Rachel sucks air through her teeth and stares at Beth’s body. “Well, it appears that you’re in need of a new partner. I will be putting my name in with the Commander. Someone has to watch your back.”
Delphine fully knows that Rachel is just trying to get a promotion through her, since she has the best record in Apprehension and Recovery and it would look good on her file.
The next day, Delphine attends the incineration of Beth’s body. Since she was discovered as a sense offender, Beth was not given the same celebration as Clerics are normally given. She was placed on a metal table in one of the incineration rooms in the lab, which was ignited in a large flame and Delphine was only able to look through a small window in a metal door. As she turns around, she notices a woman walking down the hallway that she doesn’t recognize. The woman is on the shorter side and wears glasses. Her coat is white, possibly a lab coat.
“Hello,” the woman says as she walks past Delphine and gives her a big grin.
Delphine stops walking and turns around, watching the woman walk down the hallway. No one ever smiled at her like that. She watches the other woman disappear into one of the rooms to the side and she continues on her way, not being able to shake the image of the other woman’s smile for the rest of the day.
The next morning, Delphine goes through her normal routine – putting her hair up in a bun, lint rolling her uniform, placing both firearms in their holsters. When she walks to the bathroom, she pulls out her injection case and flips it open. She pulls out one of the vials and examines it. The label reads ‘Morning 3/24’ and she places it on the shelf next to the mirror. As she reaches for her toothpaste, she knocks the vial over and watches it crash to the floor, its contents spilling out all over the white tile. She stares at it for a while, trying to figure out what happened. She never pulls her doses out before she brushes her teeth. Why did she do that? She’ll just have to go log the missed dose and request a replacement. She finishes brushing her teeth and a car horn honks from outside of the house. Rachel is there, waiting to pick her up.
“I’m here to take you to your debriefing,” Rachel says.
“I missed my dose this morning. I will need to go to the lab to pick up a replacement.”
“Missed your dose? How did that happen?”
“It…fell,” Delphine explains.
Rachel looks at her disapprovingly and drives them to the lab first. Delphine climbs out of the car and Rachel waits for her in the parking lot. She walks into the building and as she’s about to walk to the receptionist to check in, she bumps into someone. When she looks to see who it is, her breath hitches. It’s the same woman from the day before.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going,” the woman says, straightening her glasses.
“It’s, it’s okay. It was my fault,” Delphine replies. She looks at the woman intently. Underneath the plain white lab coat, she’s wearing the same white dress that all civilian women are required to wear, but she notices a small pin on the collar that looks like a shell. Accessories are not allowed, but this woman is wearing one.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Cosima asks, pulling her coat closed.
“Oh, yes, I missed my dose this morning and I need to log it and request another.”
The woman smiles at her. “Well, you are in luck. I just so happen to be a lab rat in the Casteda department. I can get you all set up and you don't even need to wait in line.”
Delphine graciously follows the woman to her lab and follows her inside. The woman walks over to a refrigerator and pulls out a small vial and a clipboard, handing both to Delphine.
“You can either inject here or wait to use your own.”
Delphine hesitated slightly, but not enough for the other woman to notice. “I will wait and use my own.”
The other woman nods and pushes her glasses up her nose again. “Okay, right on. I’m Cosima, by the way.” She offers a hand to Delphine.
Delphine shakes Cosima’s hand and gives a polite smile. “Officer Delphine Cormier.” The contact of their skin makes Delphine shiver, which is another new feeling. She takes her leave, but not before turning around to take one more look at the curious woman who gave her a dose of the very thing that would suppress all of the things she’s currently experiencing. Cosima is looking back at her, as well, and it gives Delphine a strange feeling in her chest. Her heart starts beating a little faster and her hands begin sweating. She looks at the smaller woman again, who hasn’t moved from her spot from leaning on the table and gives her a tiny wave. Delphine races out of the building and jumps back into the passenger seat of the car.
Rachel stares at her and purses her lips. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes. I got a replacement injection.”
Rachel nods and drives off, heading toward the office for Delphine’s debriefing. Delphine reaches into her pocket and wraps her hand around the vial and thinks about Cosima and how she made her feel after their short meeting. She’s curious to explore it more, but she knows she shouldn’t. Even after one morning of no dose, she’s already feeling the effects of going without. She notices more things, has invading thoughts constantly running through her head, and can’t stop thinking about Cosima and her smile.
They arrive at the office and Rachel escorts Delphine inside, but when they pass a trash can, Delphine discreetly tosses the vial away. Her heart starts beating rapidly again.
I don’t understand this feeling. Is it fear? Fear of getting caught? Fear of feeling emotions I’ve never experienced before? Fear of the unknown?
Delphine walks into Leekie’s office and Rachel waits outside. The taller man looks up from his desk and grins.
“Officer Cormier, come in.” He stands up and gestures toward the chair in front of the desk. She sits down and folds her hands over her lap. “I’m just going to ask you a few routine questions, if that’s all right.”
Delphine nods. “Yes, of course, sir.”
Leekie sits back down. “I read that you encountered your partner, Beth Childs, in the park.”
“Yes, that’s correct,” Delphine answers.
Leekie pores over the papers in front of him. “What was her state of mind?”
“How did she act? What was she like?”
“She was… emotional. She was speaking about what makes us human.”
Leekie listens to Delphine intently. “Do you know what makes us human, Officer Cormier?” When Delphine doesn’t answer right away, he continues, “Freewill. Freewill makes us human. And the best way to make decisions is to do so with a clear mind, not muddled by feelings and emotions. That is the whole reason for all of this, the injections.”
“Let’s get back to your partner, shall we? Officer Childs turned the gun on herself. Cleric policy is that you shoot first the instant you see a weapon. How was she able to pull out her gun and fire before you were able to react?”
“I, I was anticipating that she was bluffing, sir. I wanted to give her a chance to turn herself in for questioning.”
“I see,” Leekie replies. “How did it feel? Seeing her shoot herself?”
“How did it feel, sir?”
“How did it make you feel to see your partner, someone you’ve known and worked with for years, die in front of you? Would you consider yourself friends?”
Delphine pauses and the lines on her forehead form a crease in the center. Friends. She and Beth were friends. She… loved Beth.
“I felt nothing. Sir.” She swallows thickly.
Leekie examines Delphine’s face for a moment and nods. “Very good. That will be all for today, Officer Cormier. Officer Duncan informed me you missed this morning’s dose Be sure to get this evening’s dose and then you have a new assignment at 10 o’clock that will be sent to you.”
Delphine nods and leaves the office. She glances at her watch and she has ten minutes until she has to show up to her next Apprehension and Recovery.
I’m going to be late. I’m never late.
She looks around and shifts impatiently. A familiar brunette is walking up the stairs in her direction, holding a clipboard over her chest. When she looks up, she sees Delphine and smiles.
“Getting tonight’s dose?” she asks. Delphine nods and looks at her watch again.
“I am going to be late,” she says.
Cosima grabs her hand and pulls her back toward the building. “Come with me. I can get you one faster.”
Delphine concentrates on the warmth of Cosima’s hand in hers and the way the brunette’s thumb brushes against her knuckles as they walk toward Cosima’s lab. When they arrive, Cosima pushes through the door and walks over to the same refrigerator that she went to before. She pulls out another vial and hands it to Delphine, smiling.
“Here you go.” Delphine looks at the vial in her hand and Cosima watches her curiously. “Do you need anything else?” Cosima asks.
Delphine is shaken from her stupor and closes her hand around the vial. She shakes her head. “No, no thank you.” As she’s about to walk out of the lab, Cosima blurts something out at her.
“Do you want to get coffee sometime?”
Delphine turns around slowly. Did this woman just ask her out? People don’t date. Was this a test? Was this woman going to expose her as a sense offender if she accepts?
“Or… not, nevermind. Forget I asked,” the brunette says, turning back toward the refrigerator. She seems embarrassed?
“That sounds nice,” Delphine replies. She bites the corner of her lip before realizing what she’s doing. “I mean, yes, that would be appropriate, seeing how we have met multiple times now and have developed a rapport.”
Cosima smiles. “How about tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow would be fine,” Delphine replies.
Cosima grins widely, showing all of her teeth, but quickly closes her mouth into a more tight-lipped smile and she attempts to subdue her facial expressions. “I will see you tomorrow, then. We can meet out front at eleven o’ clock.”
Delphine nods curtly. "Eleven o’ clock.”
Delphine met Guillaume in medical school. Their courtship began like most everyone else’s does – they had meals together, talked often, but relationships without emotions or feelings were just for procreation. They’d talked about having children after they finished school, but Guillaume had died before they could conceive. People did not have sex in the traditional sense, as it could be seen as pleasurable, so eggs and sperm were extracted, fertilized outside of the bodies, and the zygote is inserted back inside of the woman.
“What would you want our children to be like?” Guillaume asked Delphine.
Delphine thought for a moment. “They would be strong, like you and I, have a sense of duty, hardworking.”
“Not kind? Thoughtful? Generous?”
“Guillaume, kindness will not get them anywhere. If they want to succeed, they will need to work hard.”
“Do you ever think about what love feels like?” Guillaume asked.
“Non, love is a useless emotion. It starts wars, causes violence. It is the root of most problems in history.”
“Je t'aime, Delphine.”
“No, you don’t. You don’t know the meaning of the word.”
Guillaume kissed Delphine’s forehead and walked to the bathroom. He removed the loose plank of wood and looked inside at his missed doses; there were only four so far, but it had been long enough to flush the rest out of his system. Delphine didn't know it yet, but he did know what love is. He opened the bathroom door and walked into the bedroom, where Delphine was already lying in bed and climbed in next to her. Delphine turned to her side and looked at Guillaume, stroking his cheek. His face began to shift and his features softened into a different face. Glasses formed over the new face’s eyes and the Cheshire cat grin formsed across its mouth.
“I love you,” she whispered.
Chapter 2: Surprise
I'm just going to throw these chapters up, because no one likes waiting. Proofreading? I don't know her.
Human Form Divine is still on schedule for a Friday update.
Delphine’s eyes shoot open and she sits upright, breathing heavily. She had a dream; she never dreams. She gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom, splashing cold water on her face. The reflection in the mirror is no longer the stoic, dutiful, Cleric. Her eyes are filled with uncertainty and fear and dark circles are forming underneath. She checks her watch and she only has a few minutes before she’s supposed to meet Cosima. It isn’t like her to be late. She quickly finishes getting ready and leaves the house.
As she’s walking to the coffee shop that Cosima chose, a car pulls up next to her.
“Where are you heading off to, Cormier?” Rachel asks through the lowered window.
“I’m just getting some breakfast before I head off to training,” she replies. Normally, on her days off, she would be in the gym at six a.m. sharp, but accepting to meet with Cosima threw everything off.
“Then I suppose I’ll see you there,” Rachel replies, almost as a warning, and drives off. Delphine hurries into the coffee shop and spots Cosima sitting at a small table in the back. Her stomach ties itself in knots when she sees her and her palms get sweaty again. What is happening? She walks over to Cosima’s table and the brunette’s face lights up when she sees her, but she catches herself and tempers her excitement.
“Hey, you made it,” Cosima says standing up to greet Delphine. They awkwardly shake hands, as any other greeting would show more emotion than was allowed. A waitress walks up to their table and takes their order. “Thank you for meeting me,” the brunette says, looking down at her napkin that is neatly folded on the table.
“Thank you for inviting me,” Delphine replies. They sit and talk for a while, Cosima waves her hands around animatedly and Delphine watches her intently. She's never met anyone like Cosima before.
“You are very… interesting, Cosima.” The brunette looks up suddenly with an indescribable look on her face, but her eyes waver. “Tell me about yourself. How did you end up in the injection lab?”
Cosima shrugs. “It’s not that interesting of a story, really. My parents were both scientists, so I just followed in their footsteps. I wasn’t fit to be a Cleric and had no other specialized talents, so scientist was the logical decision.”
“Were? Your parents are no longer alive?” Delphine inquires.
Cosima shakes her head. “They were sense offenders. They were executed five years ago.”
Delphine scans her memory. She remembers every Apprehension and Recovery that she was involved in, but she never remembered meeting Cosima. “What is your last name?”
Delphine’s face falls when she hears the surname.
Delphine and Beth rode to their next assignment. They received a call for two level three sense offenders, possible leaders of the Underground, the resistance group of sense offenders who plan on overthrowing The Father and Neolution. When they arrived at the Niehaus residence, Delphine and Beth met up with the officers already there. They got into formation and Delphine was at the front of the line. She removed her firearms from their holsters and called out from the door.
“Gene and Sally Niehaus, you are under arrest for sensory offense and intent to betray The Father. Come quietly and we can take you in for interrogation without bloodshed.” When there was no answer, Delphine turned to her team and nodded. She broke down the door and they rushed into the house. Room by room, the officers cleared the house, until they got to the last bedroom. Delphine peeked inside and looked around. She walked up to the doors of the closet and ripped them open. A gunshot fired and Delphine got hit on the chest, right on her Kevlar vest and she returned fire, shooting both Gene and Sally Niehaus.
“You okay, Cormier?” Beth said from the doorway, her own weapon drawn.
“I’m fine, they got my vest.” She looked down at the two bodies on the floor.
“Pity we couldn’t take them in,” Beth said solemnly.
“They chose their fate,” Delphine answered, looking around the room. She slid her hands across the walls and saw that it looked be a child’s room, or at least it used to be.
“Hey, I got something over here,” Beth yelled from down the hall. Delphine left the room to join her and see what her partner found. She found Beth standing in front of a false wall that had been opened and behind it was a whole cache of illegal objects - paintings, books, a record player, jewelry. They also found flyers and propaganda promoting the Underground, one poster mocking the Father's by saying The Underground is Everywhere.
“Jackpot,” one of the officers said.
Delphine filed through all of the documents and found a stack of photographs. She picked one up and sees Gene and Sally standing with a young girl, all smiling and joyful. Is that what that emotion was called? She looked closer and examined the young girl’s face - she was wearing glasses, had a huge grin on her face, and it confused Delphine. Did the Niehaus’ force their daughter to feel emotions, as well? Did they make her complicit? She flipped the photo over and read the caption: ‘Gene, Sally, and Cosima, March 2060’.
Delphine’s eyes widen as she remembers her last encounter with the Niehaus’. She recalls finding out that their daughter had been away for school, which is why she wasn’t at home during the raid. She killed Cosima’s parents. Her breath starts to become shaky and her mouth dry, and then she finds herself having trouble breathing. Is this panic? Anxiety?
“Excuse me,” she says, standing up from the table and heading toward the restroom. She shuts herself inside of a stall and tries to slow her breathing, but they’re coming out as choked sobs. She’s so distracted that she doesn’t hear the bathroom door open. A knock sounds from the other side of her stall door.
”Delphine? Is everything okay?”
Delphine gasps and wipes her face with her hands before unlocking the stall door. She walks out and washes her hands. “Yes, everything is fine.”
Cosima watches her with tempered concern in her eyes, paying close attention to Delphine’s expressions in the mirror. Delphine hardens her facial expressions and leaves the restroom without a word. She sets some money on their table and leaves the coffee shop with Cosima chasing behind her.
“Did I do something wrong?” Cosima asks.
“No, I am going to be late for an assignment.”
Cosima frowns as she tries to keep up with Delphine’s long gait. “Isn’t today your day off?”
Delphine internally scolds herself. “Yes, but this is a special assignment.”
Cosima refuses to let up and she holds Delphine by her arm and stops her in an alleyway. The blonde looks down at Cosima’s hand and is about to admonish her for touching a Cleric, but sees the look in the other woman’s eyes, telling her that she knows.
“Delphine, listen,” Cosima says quietly, “I can tell you’ve stopped taking your doses. I can help you.”
“I, I don’t know what you are talking about. I need to go. I’m sorry, Cosima.” She hurries out of the alley and down the street, away from the other woman, who could see right through her. She knows it’s useless trying to run away, but Cosima intimidates her and makes her feel things she’s never felt before and it scares her.
As she walks down the street, a car pulls up next to her and the window rolls down.
“Where are you going in such a hurry, Cormier? You weren’t at training,” Rachel calls out. Delphine wonders how Rachel is always conveniently just... there.
Delphine stops dead in her tracks and turns to face her partner. “I am heading home; I have been tasked with conducting research on another case.”
“Well, allow me to give you a ride,” Rachel offers. Delphine looks over her shoulder and sees Cosima still standing near the alley. She opens the car door and sits down in the passenger seat and Rachel drives off. Delphine looks out the window as Rachel drives her to her house.
Of course she knows. If she’s a sense offender herself, she would be able to notice it in others. Was she part of the Underground like her parents? Did she take over where they left off? When Rachel pulls up in front of her house, Delphine thanks her for the ride and exits the car.
“See you on Monday,” Rachel says through the passenger window. Delphine smiles and nods at her partner and unlocks her front door. When inside, she heads straight for her computer. She searches for every bit of information that she can find on the Niehaus’, specifically Cosima. Cosima’s childhood was pretty unremarkable; her parents sent her to the best schools and she studied all different types of sciences before settling on sensory research. Delphine found that there was a gap from the time her parents were killed to about a year ago where there was nothing found on Cosima’s record. It was almost as if she had vanished and reemerged suddenly, years later.
Who are you, she thinks to herself. She reaches out to touch Cosima’s cheek through her monitor. She doesn’t understand why she feels this way about this particular person. Not only is she curious about Cosima, where she comes from, but she’s unsure of what she feels for her. It seems to be more than curiosity. A knock at her front door interrupts her thoughts and she turns off her monitor and places a hand over her weapon before looking at the camera feed. Her breath hitches when she sees a familiar head of brown hair. She cracks open the door.
“How did you know where I live?” Delphine inquires.
Cosima laughs nervously. “You filled out the replacement Casteda documents twice and they ask for an address.”
“That seems highly unethical,” Delphine replies, curling the corner of her mouth up in a smirk.
Cosima shrugs her shoulders and pushes her glasses up her nose. “It probably is, but I really needed to talk to you. Can I come in?”
Delphine moves aside, so Cosima can walk through the doorway. Cosima looks around at the bare walls and the spotless furniture.
“Wow, this is how Clerics live?”
Delphine smiles slightly. “Would you like something to drink? I have water or milk.”
Cosima shakes her head. “No, thank you. I brought something better.” She pulls out a small flask from her coat and walks into the kitchen, pulling all of the cupboards open until she finds glasses. She pulls a couple out and pours some of the auburn liquid into them, handing one of the glasses to Delphine.
“What is it?” Delphine asks, examining her glass.
“Try it,” Cosima answers simply with an amused look on her face.
Delphine sniffs the glass and the sour smell invades her nostrils. She takes a timid sip and the liquid burns all the way down her throat, causing her to cough. “This is terrible.”
Cosima laughs heartily. “Yeah, well, we use what we have access to. It’s a work in progress.” She takes her own sip and grimaces as she swallows. She holds Delphine’s gaze, until the blonde looks away and moves across the table.
“You said you needed to talk to me?”
“Oh, right,” Cosima replies. “Do you mind if I sit?” She asks, gesturing toward the couch. Delphine shakes her head and motions toward the living room. They both sit down on opposite sides of the couch and Cosima nervously sips her drink. “Okay, well, like I told you after you ran out of the coffee shop, I know you’ve stopped taking your doses, and I told you that I could help you.” She lifts the lapel of her coat and shows Delphine the pin that she’d already noticed before – the seashell. “I’m with the Underground and we have a whole network of people, sense offenders as you call us, who want to overthrow this corrupt government.”
Delphine frowns and shakes her head in disbelief. “Do you realize how dangerous it is to tell all of this to a high-ranking Cleric?”
Cosima looks her right in the eye. “No more dangerous than it is for a high-ranking Cleric to stop taking her doses and start feeling emotions she’s never felt before.”
“Yes, but it would be your word against mine. If I start taking the doses again or trick the scanners, it would be much worse for you.”
Cosima leans back and raises an eyebrow. “Are you going to turn me in?”
Delphine frowns. “My instincts and all of my training tell me that I should, but no, I am not going to.”
“And why is that?” Cosima questions.
“I, I’m not sure,” Delphine replies, internally struggling with her answers. “I don’t understand.”
“Because you’re curious. You want to know more. We’re having a meeting tonight at midnight, in the old church on Baker Street.” She lays a card on Delphine’s table. “Show this to them and they’ll let you through.”
Delphine shakes her head. “Cosima, I can’t be seen there. It’s dangerous enough for you to be here now.”
“Relax, Delphine. I wasn’t followed. I know how to shake a tail,” she says with a wink. “In more ways than one.”
Delphine swallows hard. What was Cosima doing? Her palms start to get clammy and her face feels warm, but she doesn’t know if it’s because of Cosima or her drink. She takes another sip, so she can use that as an excuse for her face flushing.
Hey,” Cosima says, “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I don’t know how to control my feelings sometimes.”
“I’m not uncomfortable,” Delphine says, staring into her nearly-empty glass.
“You aren’t making eye contact and you’re nervously drinking alcohol that you thought was disgusting,” Cosima notes. She stands up and heads toward the door. “I really hope you come to the meeting, but I’ll understand if you don’t. I imagine this can’t be easy for you. My phone number is on the card if you ever need to talk to someone who gets it.”
Delphine doesn’t say anything and just nods, watching Cosima open the door to her house.
“See you around, Cormier,” Cosima says over her shoulder. As the door closes, Delphine takes a deep breath and downs the rest of her drink. She notices that Cosima left the flask of alcohol on her counter, so she pours herself another glass and sits down on her couch. She takes the card that Cosima left on the table and reads it, flipping it to the other side and looks at the phone number that’s scrawled on the back.
“Mon amour, do you ever wonder what it would feel like to be in love?”
“Why are you asking me such a thing, Guillaume? Love has no place here. We have our jobs to do and emotions muddle everything.”
Guillaume sighed. “That’s what The Father tells us. We just don’t know any better.”
“This is dangerous thinking, Guillaume. People have been executed for much less.”
Guillaume took one of Delphine’s hands in his own. “I just think there should be more to this, to us. Procreation can’t be the only reason why two people find each other and spend the rest of their lives together. There has to be more.”
Delphine rubbed her thumb across his knuckles gently. She never told him, but she was with Guillaume out of necessity, out of obligation. Sure, wanted him to succeed and live a fulfilling life, but she would have been just as content being alone. She was expected to find a man, have children, and prolong the future of their species, so when she found the first man who was decent enough, she latched onto him.
She smiled at him calmly and stood up. “Come, let’s go to bed. I’m tired.” Guillaume got up and they got ready for bed. Once they settled in, Guillaume kissed Delphine’s cheek and was asleep in no time, but Delphine lay awake, staring up at the ceiling. Guillaume had planted the seed in her mind and now she was wondering what it would feel like to love someone, really love someone. It shouldn’t bother her as much as it does, since she’d lived her entire life without emotions, but now she wondered what she was missing, if anything. The only books she’d been allowed to read have been history books, or science texts. Storybooks and novels were outlawed, as were all non-historical and non-documentary films.
Delphine sighed and looked over at Guillaume, who was snoring next to her. She examined the features of his face – his nose, the stubble around his mouth and chin, his hair. None of it elicited any sort of feelings from her. He was just a man, who was compatible enough with her that she felt they could cohabitate for an extended period of time.
The face slowly morphed into something else, softer features, fuller lips, no stubble. This face, however, made her heart beat faster. She wondered what those lips felt like. She slowly reached out to touch them with her fingers.
“Hey, you,” the voice greeted her. She pressed her lips to Delphine’s fingers. “Why are you awake?”
“I, I am not sure. I was—I thought…,” Delphine stammered, unsure how Cosima got into her bed when it should have been Guillaume.
“It’s okay, I love you. Everything is going to be okay, but you need to wake up now.”
“Wake up, Delphine.”
Delphine gasps and wakes up startled, one hand still clutching her glass and the other gripping the card Cosima left. She must have fallen asleep on the couch. She looks at her watch and she has about a half hour to get to the meeting at the old church. Against her better judgement, she grabs her coat, business card in hand, and leaves her house. The citywide curfew does not apply to her, as a Cleric, but she takes the backroads, anyway, just in case.
As she walks down the street, posters that simply say “Father is Everywhere” line every wall, as if to remind them that they’re always being watched. When she arrives in front of the church, it looks dark inside, but she slowly pushes the door open. She’s met by a woman with wild blonde, curly hair and a thin man with dark hair and leather pants.
“Who are you?” the man demands.
“I’m Delphine, Cosima told me to come here,” she replies, showing the man the business card. He examines it and tilted his head to the side, looking back at Delphine.
“Oh, I get it now,” he scoffs. “This way.”
Delphine follows both of them deeper into the church. A group of people are gathered near the front pews and they turn to see who the newcomer is. Cosima pushes her way through the crowd and meets up with them, smiling widely as usual.
“Hey, you,” she says cheerfully. She places a hand on Helena’s shoulder, who is still glaring at Delphine like she’s an intruder. “At ease, soldier.” Helena visibly relaxes a little and Felix stifles a laugh. Cosima turns her attention back to Delphine and grabs her by the elbow, dragging her just below the pulpit, in front of the rest of the people. “Everyone, this is Delphine. She’s just here to observe, so let’s make her feel welcome.”
A woman with dark, wavy hair walks up to her and Delphine recognizes her immediately. “You-you’re the woman from the town square. How did you—“
“How did I manage to avoid execution?” she interrupts. “Easy. I told them that my mate was the one who forced me off of my injections and I didn’t have control of my emotions.”
“And that actually worked?” Delphine asks, her eyebrows raised.
The woman shrugs. “Clerics will believe anything, as long as you’re sincere and act like you really mean it. They forced some of it back into my system, but it helps having someone on the inside. Cosima helped get me back out.”
Cosima smiles and pats her on the shoulder. “Sarah here is a lucky duck. She’s got, like, nine lives, or something.”
“Yeah, but she’s used at least three of them,” the man laughs.
“That’s Felix,” Cosima says. “And you’ve met Helena,” she says, gesturing toward the woman with the wild blonde hair. “Then we’ve got Alison, and little Kira is Sarah’s daughter. There’s a few of us missing, but I’m sure you’ll meet them eventually. We’re the Underground.”
Delphine takes a look at the people surrounding her. They all look like normal, everyday, human beings. There’s nothing scary or inherently evil about them.
“Anyway, we should start the meeting,” Cosima continues and everyone takes a seat in one of the front pews. Delphine sits in between Felix and Kira, who looks up at her and smiles a big toothy grin. “All right, everyone, Clerics seem to be cracking down on us much harder than before. We need to be vigilant and be more careful,” she says looking directly at Sarah.
“Hey, Vic was called Vic the Dick for a reason.”
Cosima rolls her eyes. “Delphine, maybe you could give us some insight into what Clerics are planning – if you’re comfortable with it, that is.”
Delphine’s eyes widen at the sudden attention put on her and her throat goes dry. “I, I’m not sure what you mean.”
“She’s a bloody Cleric?” Felix exclaims. “Are you mad?”
“Cosima, you should have informed us,” the woman named Alison says.
“Guys, relax. She has just as much to lose as we do now. I trust her. Hear her out.”
“Why are Clerics doing so many searches?” Helena asks.
Delphine runs a hand through her hair. She honestly doesn’t know; she just does as she’s told. “I’m not certain. We just get the calls and we go. It is possible that it is due to a recently executed sense offender being a Cleric.” Everyone around her looks at each other.
“Beth?” Alison asks quietly.
“You knew her?” Delphine asks. Alison nods and tears begin to fall down her face. Delphine’s heart breaks all over again. Her former partner was part of the Underground. These people knew her.
“Beth, do you really have to go?” Alison asked and Beth found her shirt on the floor and threw it over her body.
“You know I can’t be seen here, Ali. Besides, I have to get to work.” She leaned down and kissed Alison on the forehead.
“Right, duty calls,” Alison said sarcastically as she watched Beth lace up her boots. She held the sheets up to her chest and sighed.
“Say hi to Donnie for me,” Beth said from the door to the bedroom. “I’ll see you later.”
Beth strolled down the street, holding the collar of her coat over her face, so she was harder to recognize. She still had about an hour to get to work, so she darted into a bakery to grab some coffee and a pastry. She ordered two of each and heads over to Cleric Headquarters. She placed one coffee cup and a pastry on Delphine’s desk that sat across from hers and she sat down in her chair. She examined all of the office supplies on her desk closely and started to move things around – first the stapler and then the cup that held all of her pens and pencils. She didn't notice her partner’s arrival and practically knocked over her coffee cup when she heard her clear her throat.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m rearranging my desk,” Beth replied.
“Why? It wasn’t good the way you had it?”
Beth straightened her post-it notes. “I am trying to find the optimal arrangement for all of my supplies.” Delphine stared for a few seconds more, then sat down at her own desk and sipped the coffee her partner brought her. Beth then tried to busy herself with some paperwork and opened a new file that had been placed on her desk. She almost choked on her coffee when she saw the photo of the next sense offender they’re supposed to apprehend – Donnie Hendrix.
“Fuck,” Beth said under her breath.
“What?” Delphine asked, looking up from her own paperwork.
“Nothing. Did you see this new file?”
“Yes, it looks like a simple Search and Apprehension. We can probably get in there and be done by lunch,” Delphine said as she took a bite from her pastry.
Simple. There was nothing simple about this. Donnie was Alison’s husband, but he and Beth had an arrangement – she would be allowed to see Alison and Beth wouldn’t turn them in. It wasn’t blackmail, per se, because Donnie was happy to be Alison’s beard, as long as he was able to be involved in the Underground without worrying about being caught. Some things were bigger than them. But now, Donnie was their next target and she didn’t know what to do.
“Are you ready to go?” Delphine asked, holstering her weapons.
“Yes, of course,” Beth answered, standing up and heading toward their car. Delphine drove them to their destination – a nice, plain looking two-story house with a well-kept lawn out front. Delphine parked and waited for their back-up, while Beth sat inside of the car, her heart beating out of her chest.
“Childs?” Delphine called from the other side of the passenger side window.
“Yeah, I’m coming,” Beth replied, opening her door. When the other Clerics arrived, a couple of them secured the back door, while Beth and Delphine stood outside of the front door. Delphine looked at Beth with her weapons drawn and nodded. She faced the door and kicked it in, pointing her guns in front of her.
They moved through the hallways until they found Donnie and Alison in the bedroom. Delphine grabbed Donnie by the back of the neck and threw him to the floor. Another Cleric took Alison by the arm and tossed her into the living room.
“Donnie?” Alison screeched.
“Don’t say anything, honey,” he replied, as he’s sat down on his knees in the middle of the living room, as well.
Beth watched helplessly as Clerics turned the house inside out, looking for evidence. She caught Alison’s eyes, which were filled with fear and dread. She wished so much that she could tell her that everything would be okay. What happened next happened so quickly that Beth didn't even realize what was going on. She heard Delphine yell something from the hallway and Donnie stood up suddenly, rushing toward the front door and Beth reacted without thinking, drew her weapon on him, and pulled the trigger. He fell to the floor and the only thing she heard from then on was the scream coming from Alison’s mouth.
“What— what happened to her?” Alison asks.
“She took her own life, after I found out she was a sense offender,” Delphine says regretfully. Alison covers her mouth with her hand and starts sobbing. Sarah wraps an arm around her and consoles her. “I’m sorry,” Delphine apologizes. “I tried to help her.”
“Not hard enough,” Sarah spits.
“Hey, come on. She’s here now, right? Delphine’s going to help us,” Cosima says, trying to settle the tension.
“No, she’s right. I could have tried harder. I, I didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. I should go,” Delphine says as she makes her way to the front of the church. Cosima chases after her and grabs her by the wrist.
“You don’t have to apologize, Delphine. I know when you stopped taking Casteda and it was after Beth’s death. So, in a way, she was the one who helped you see the light, so to speak. Look, they’ll warm up to you, but we’re all kind of on edge right now with the increased Cleric forces snooping around. Just give them time.”
Delphine nods and finds herself staring at Cosima’s mouth as the corners of her lips turn upward into a smile. Her pulse starts racing again and she tugs her bottom lip between her teeth. Cosima stares up at her with a confused look on her face.
Delphine flinches and takes a step back. “Yes, yes. Sorry. I really should be going.”
Cosima nods. “Of course. Let me walk you back.”
Delphine tries to tell Cosima that it isn’t necessary, but the brunette insists and she’s already out the door before Delphine can protest further. They walk side-by-side down the empty streets while Delphine listens to colorful stories that Cosima tells her about the lab and all of the different reasons she’s heard people give for missing their doses.
“One guy claimed that his dog took his dose by accident and the dog stared at the unlit fireplace all day, didn’t move an inch,” she says, laughing. “Kinda ridiculous if you think about it.”
“But, wait, pets are outlawed, too, unless they are used in the line of duty.”
Cosima shrugs. “Illegal pet.
Delphine chuckles as she listens to this intriguing woman all the way home and she almost misses her house. “Oh, we’re here.”
Cosima fiddles with her fingers and shifts her weight from her heels to the balls of her feet. “Thanks for coming to the meeting. I really do hope that we can help each other, without anyone getting hurt.”
“Me too,” Delphine replies. They stand at the front of the house for a while until Delphine feels the urge to grab Cosima’s hand and presses her fingers to her lips. She doesn’t know why she’s doing it, but it feels right. Cosima gasps at the contact and her eyes open so wide. When Delphine lowers their hands, Cosima brings her other hand up to cradle Delphine’s face and pulls her down slowly. Their noses touch and they can feel each other’s breath, but there’s a crash and they pull away from each other, hearts jumping up their throats.
Cosima looks behind her shoulder and laughs nervously. “It was just a rat. Anyway, I should get going. Have a nice night, Officer Cormier.” She starts walking backwards, not taking her eyes off of Delphine. The blonde grins and turns back toward her front door and unlocks it, taking one more look at Cosima before walking in. She closes the door and presses her back onto it. She thinks about Cosima, how close their lips had been, and she can’t stop smiling.
Chapter 3: Anticipation
“I love you.”
“Je t’aime, aussi.”
Cosima hovers above Delphine’s naked body, taking in the sight before her. She’d never seen someone so beautiful – almost ethereal. She leans in to kiss a trail up Delphine’s neck to her earlobe and sucks on it gently. She feels Delphine writhe underneath her and when Delphine lifts her thigh up to meet Cosima’s core, she gasps. The brunette nips at the soft skin on Delphine’s shoulder and lowers her hand to the other woman’s hips, tracing lazy circles around it.
“Please, mon amour,” Delphine whispers.
“Tell me what you need,” Cosima replies, moving her hand down Delphine’s outer thigh.
“I need you to wake up.”
Cosima lifts her head. “What?”
“Wake up, Cosima.”
Cosima’s eyes open at the sound of her phone ringing next to her head. She answers it and lays it on top of her ear, while still lying her head on her pillow.
“Cosima, where are you,” the male’s voice says from the other end of the line. She takes the phone off of her ear and looks at the clock on the top of the screen and groans.
“Sorry, Scott. My alarm didn’t go off. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” She hangs up the phone and jumps out of bed. She brushes her teeth and gets dressed, making sure she wears her pin. She throws her lab coat on and grabs a bagel before running out the door. As promised, she gets to her lab fifteen minutes later and stumbles through the door. Her coworker Scott is already sitting at his desk, which is covered in papers.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Cosima says as she sits at her desk.
“It’s okay, I told Leekie that you were on your way. He didn’t mention repercussions.”
The day is uneventful and Cosima spends most of her time checking batches of Casteda, making sure none have been compromised. Scott occasionally asks her questions, but they mostly keep to themselves. Before the end of the day, Cosima is given a list of randomly selected citizens who are going to be tested to make sure they’re taking their doses. She swallows hard when she sees Delphine’s name on the list. The date of the test is set for the next day, so Cosima hurries and finishes up her work, says goodbye to Scott, and heads out of the building. She has no idea where to find Delphine, so she heads straight for Cleric Headquarters and waits outside.
After an hour of waiting and strange looks from people passing by, she finally spots Delphine and walks up to her casually.
“Cosima,” Delphine says with a surprised look on her face.
“Hey, hi. Can we talk?”
Delphine smiles. “Yes, of course. Walk me home?”
Cosima nods enthusiastically and they head in the direction of Delphine’s house. On the way there, they tell each other about their days; Delphine tells her about the house she and Rachel searched, but left out the part where they apprehended a sense offender who was now sentenced to death. Cosima admits that she was late to work, but her coworker covered for her. His girlfriend, Krystal, is a member of the Underground and Cosima has been helping her, so Scott does what he can for Cosima when the need arises. When they arrive at Delphine’s house, she unlocks the door and lets Cosima in first.
Cosima takes off her coat and drapes it across the sofa. She takes a seat on one end, while Delphine walks into the kitchen and grabs something from her shelf. Grabbing two glasses and joining Cosima on the sofa, she sets the glasses down and fills it with the hooch Cosima brought the last time she was in Delphine’s house.
“Oh, my god, you still have some left?” Cosima exclaims.
“I do. I wanted to save it,” Delphine answers with a smile.
“Well, cheers!” Cosima says, holding up her glass. Delphine clinks her glass against Cosima’s and they both take a sip and make sour faces.
“Was there something you needed to speak to me about?” Delphine asks.
“Oh! Yeah, yeah. At work today, I got a list of the people who are going to be randomly tested for Casteda and you’re on the list. The test is going to be tomorrow, so we have until then to inject you with a faux suppressant that will trick the test.”
Cosima predicts that these random tests aren’t so random and there must be a reason why Delphine is being tested, so she wants to help.
When Cosima finished school, she was immediately assigned to the Casteda lab. Being one of the few students who was able to successfully develop a serum that could be injected, rather than ingested via pill or other means, she was highly sought after. She and the other students worked together to continue doing research and developing new ways to take the suppressants, finding ways to make it last longer.
That’s where Cosima met Scott, another scientist who had been researching if being a sense offender was something that was passed down through DNA and genetics. So far, he found that there was no correlation between family members and no pattern to whether or not being a sense offender was hereditary. It mostly appeared to be environmental.
Cosima did her best to keep her head down and continue her work, knowing that drawing any attention to herself would be dangerous. If she was going to help the Underground, she would need to tear Neolution apart from the inside. All of that flew out the window when she caught wind of an up-and-coming Cleric who was rising in the ranks very quickly. She would walk the halls just to catch a glimpse of her. Most days, the other woman wouldn’t even look at her, but she would continue to smile when she walked by in the off-chance that the Cleric would notice.
Her partner was a hard ass, who seemed to be by-the-book, but little did she know that she was also a sense offender. She’d noticed that there was a different look in her eyes and she’d come by the lab every so often to ask for new doses, because she either dropped or lost hers. Cosima knew it was suspicious, but she gave her replacements without question, because no one questioned Clerics. Then one day, the partner came into the lab, looking haggard and like she hadn’t slept in days. She asked Cosima for another replacement, but Cosima asked her if she was feeling. The look in the woman’s eyes was one of terror and she reached for her weapon.
“It’s okay,” Cosima said, setting a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I’m here to help.” She unlocked a drawer in her desk and handed her a vial. “Keep this. It will trick the scanners if you ever need it. I developed it myself," she said with a cheeky grin. The other woman took the vial and her eyes began to burn as tears fell down her cheeks.
“I killed the love of my life’s husband today. I had to. If I didn’t, they’d find out.”
Cosima held the woman and let her cry into her shoulder. “I have some people you should meet. Bring your love with you.”
“I know how to trick it,” Delphine says. “But I will need your help.”
“Of course, anything you need,” Cosima replies. She takes another sip of her drink, feeling it heat up her body and fog her mind. She swears she sees Delphine lean in slightly and bite the corner of her lip, so she jumps off of the sofa. “Let’s dance!”
“Dance? I have no music to play.”
Cosima grins. “We don’t need it. Come on.” She offers her hand for Delphine to take, which she does. Cosima holds one of Delphine’s hands in her own and places the other on the small of her back, pulling her close. She begins to hum a soft tune while they dance in a tight circle in the middle of Delphine’s living room.
“What song is that?” Delphine asks.
“It’s a song by someone named Carly Rae Jepsen. I think it’s called ‘Call Me Maybe’. My mom used to sing me to sleep and that’s the song she would use.”
Delphine freezes in place and pulls herself away from the other woman. “Cosima, there is something that I need to tell you.”
“Nope, no being serious. I want to savor this feeling.” She pulls Delphine back into her, so their bodies are flush against each other.
“I’m... happy. I don’t think I’ve ever been happy.”
Cosima pulls Delphine down to meet her lips and Delphine’s body goes rigid. When Delphine doesn’t move, Cosima releases her and takes a step back.
“Shit, I’m sorry. Was that too much? That alcohol is pretty strong, right? I thought we were on the same page, but if I made assumptions, I’m really sorry. I—“
Delphine cut her off with a kiss and Cosima wraps her arms around her torso, yearning shooting through every vein in her body. She feels Delphine open her mouth slightly, inviting her to go deeper. When Cosima experimentally darts her tongue out and swipes it across Delphine’s lower lip, she hears a deep moan come from the blonde, which encourages her to continue. She pushes her toward the couch and has Delphine sit on the armrest, so she can have a slight height advantage. Holding Delphine’s beautiful face in her hands, she continues kissing her until she feels hands drift beneath her shirt. She pulls away from Delphine and looks into her eyes, which are burning with desire.
“Have you ever felt this way before?” Cosima asks.
Delphine shakes her head. “This is all new.”
“Yeah, me too. Maybe we should…” She looks around the room toward the hallway, realizing she has no idea where the bedroom is. Delphine catches on and smiles; she stands up and takes one of Cosima’s hands and leads her to the room she was searching for.
Delphine closes the door to the bedroom behind them and Cosima sits down on the edge of the bed. She walks up to the brunette and slots herself between her legs, leaning down to kiss her gently. Cosima lifts Delphine’s shirt up just above her bellybutton and kisses the smooth skin of her abdomen. Delphine sucks in a breath and weaves her hands in Cosima’s hair, gently scratching her scalp, causing Cosima to moan.
“That feels really good,” she says, now sliding her hands down Delphine’s thighs. “It makes my whole body all tingly.”
Delphine grins and pulls her shirt over her head, tossing it on the floor. She does the same to Cosima’s shirt and pushes her back onto the bed, climbing onto it herself. Cosima scoots herself to the headboard and pillows and Delphine lies next to her, stroking her ribcage.
“Full disclosure, I’ve never done this before. I mean, I’ve seen videos and things, like, all the illegal stuff that we’re not supposed to have. Felix has a whole collection. Some of them are intense, though. There was this one movie that Alison had called ‘Big Boob Blowies’ and… yikes.”
Delphine laughs and kisses Cosima’s jaw. “I have never done this with anyone, either. I’m a little nervous.”
“I guess we’ll learn together,” Cosima replies, smiling and kissing her gently. She switches her attention to Delphine’s neck, kissing up its length slowly until she reaches her earlobe and takes it between her teeth. Delphine gasps and rotates her hips forward unconsciously. Cosima slots her knee between Delphine’s legs and when she unintentionally pushes it up into Delphine’s core, the blonde cries out, causing Cosima to stop. “Oh, god, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”
Delphine shakes her head. “No, that was… good. It felt good.”
“Oh,” Cosima said, experimentally pushing her knee up again. When Delphine’s breath hitches, Cosima takes that as a sign to continue. She braces her arms on each side of Delphine’s head and leans in to kiss her. Delphine’s hands trail down Cosima’s back, down to her ass, and she pulls the brunette down into her own leg. Cosima moans into the kiss and Delphine smiles.
“Shit, that does feel good. Can I try something?”
Delphine doesn’t understand what’s happening to her body. Everything is thrumming and pulsing, and her underwear is... wet? All she knows is that she doesn’t want to stop, so she nods and allows Cosima to do whatever she’s planning.
Cosima unbuttons Delphine’s pants and slides the zipper down. She slips her hand inside, beneath her underwear, and moves her fingers past course hair until Delphine yells her name and slams her hand against the headboard.
“Oh. Wow,” Cosima says, chuckling. “I guess that’s the magic spot. If I do anything you don’t like or that hurts, tell me.”
Delphine closes her eyes and nods rapidly, grinding her hips forward to try and get Cosima to keep touching her. Cosima notices this and touches Delphine in the same place that made her cry out just before and the blonde’s hips lurch forward again.
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it,” Delphine says breathlessly. Cosima does, but her hand is greatly limited by the small amount of space between her hand and Delphine’s pants.
“Is it okay if I take these off?” Cosima asks, pulling at the band of her jeans. Delphine nods again and lifts her hips as Cosima peels them down her long legs. She then does the same with her underwear. Delphine sits up and unhooks her bra, dragging it down her arms and tosses it off the side of the bed. Cosima sits up and revels in the beauty before her, jaw hanging open.
Delphine blushes and tugs at the elastic band of Cosima’s pants and the brunette slides them down her tan legs, dragging her underwear with them. Cosima climbs back onto the bed and kisses Delphine hard, sliding her tongue through the blonde’s wanting mouth. Cosima spreads Delphine’s legs wider and drags her fingers through her wetness.
“Is that supposed to happen?” Cosima asks, bringing her fingers up to her face.
“Well, from what I’ve read in anatomy books, I assume it’s meant for lubrication purposes, so it must be natural.”
Cosima experimentally licks her fingers. “It’s... different. I think I like it. May I try something else?” Delphine nods as Cosima lowers her head to line up with Delphine’s sex. “I saw this in one of those videos. The woman in it seemed to like it.” She kisses the inside of Delphine’s thigh and makes her way the blonde’s center, licking up her wet slit. Delphine’s hips buck up violently while she lets out a shaky breath. Cosima plants her hand over Delphine’s hips and teases her clit out of its hood, mimicking the movements that she remembers from the video, using her tongue to circle the sensitive bundle.
“Oh,” Delphine lets out a short gasp and pulls on the ivory sheets next to her body, unsure where else to place her hands. As Cosima continues her ministrations, Delphine moves one hand to the back of Cosima’s head, who seems to like the added pressure. Her breaths become more strangled as Cosima continues licking her, but once she feels lips wrap around her clit, she releases a strangled moan until she’s shuddering beneath Cosima. Her orgasm is earthshattering, to put it lightly. Cosima climbs up the bed and lies down next to Delphine, kissing her jaw and her lips.
“That was amazing,” she says, exhaling. “I can see why they’ve outlawed that. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t ever do anything else.”
Delphine laughs and stares up at the ceiling. The joy in her face flattens when she realizes what she’s doing and what the consequences will be.
“Hey, where are you?” Cosima asks, turning on her side and stroking her cheek.
“They’ll kill both of us if they find out,” Delphine says plainly.
“Then we can’t let them find out. We’ll take the faux suppressants and go about our business. They won’t find out.”
Delphine shakes her head and feels a foreign pain in her chest. She feels her eyes well up, which has never happened before, and then she starts crying inconsolably.
“What—what is happening to me? What is this?” She chokes through her sobs, swiping at the tears falling down her cheeks.
“You’re crying,” Cosima says, hugging her close. “It’s what you do when you’re sad or afraid, or sometimes when you’re angry and you have no other way of expressing your emotions.”
“I don’t think I like it,” Delphine replies, taking deep breaths to calm herself down.
Cosima laughs. “Most people don’t. It’s not a favorable reaction.”
“I just, I just don’t want to lose this,” Delphine whimpers into Cosima’s shoulder. She knows it’s only a matter of time before someone finds out about them. One of them is bound to slip up – a smile here, a not-so-discreet handhold there. With all of the increased Apprehension and Recoveries that are happening, the likelihood that their houses will be searched, or even the churches, regardless of their sanctuary status, is increasing. Soon, there will be nowhere for them to hide.
But, for now, she has Cosima and they’re together, and Delphine feels something in her chest that she’s never felt before. It must be what Guillaume told her - this is what love feels like.
Delphine kisses Cosima thoroughly and climbs in top of her, straddling her hips. She takes off her shirt and bra, tossing them over the side of the bed. Cosima sits up and takes off her shirt and bra, as well.
“Oh, my god,” Cosima breathes. She places her hands on Delphine’s hips while the blonde grinds into her. “This is so much better than ‘Big Boob Blowies.’” Delphine laughs and leans in, kissing Cosima’s jaw and neck, sucking and biting at the soft skin. She lowers her hand to the band of Cosima’s pants and slides her hand under. She mimics the motions Cosima did to her, hoping the brunette likes it just as much. When Cosima gasps or moans, she knows she must be doing something right.
“Try putting a finger inside,” Cosima says.
Delphine unbuttons Cosima's pants and kisses her skin as she peels them down her legs, along with her underwear. After she throws them off to the side, she slides her index finger inside Cosima’s heat. “Comme ça?”
“Oh shit, yeah. Try one more and thrust them in and out.”
Delphine adds another finger and does what she’s told. Cosima is slick and warm around her digits. Delphine likes all of the sounds coming from the brunette and she wants more. She remembers how good it felt when Cosima licked her clit, so she tests it and flicks her tongue. Cosima’s hips buck up and she cries out loudly, which gives Delphine more confidence to continue. Soon, Cosima is writhing underneath her, mumble obscenities until she feels her tighten around her fingers and her body goes rigid, coming silently.
Delphine presses one last kiss on Cosima’s thigh before climbing back up and lying next to the brunette who is completely out of breath.
“Was that good?” Delphine asks.
“Was that good?” Cosima laughs incredulously. “That was incredible. I believe the term is mind blowing. My god.”
Delphine grins and kisses Cosima gently. It’s true that they may get caught eventually, but for right now, they have each other and they can feel the emotions that humans are meant to feel for one another. The words are on the tip of Delphine’s tongue. They’re the same words that Guillaume said to her and she rejected them before. If Cosima said them to her, she would embrace those words. She would hold them close to her heart and let the feeling overtake her, because she now understands what Guillaume had meant.
Early the next morning, they wake up and head over to Cosima’s lab to start making their faux injections. When Scott comes in, he notices Delphine working at one of the stations and gives Cosima a look. She just shrugs. He sighs and starts working on his own project.
When they’ve finished creating their injection, Cosima uses it first to test it out. She takes out a reader from her drawer and lets the needle prick her finger. The display flashes green and she smiles at Delphine, who is already lifting an injector up to her neck. She pushes the button and feels the liquid flow through her veins.
Delphine starts to head for the exit, telling Cosima she can’t be late for work, but Cosima reaches out and grabs Delphine’s hand and gives it a squeeze before she goes.
“Good luck,” she murmurs. Delphine gives her one last smile before leaving. Cosima turns around and sees Scott starting at her disapprovingly.
“You’re walking on really thin ice, Cosima.”
“Leave it, Scott.”
He stops working on whatever he was doing and turns his chair to face her. “Cosima, I am eternally grateful for what you’ve done for me, you know that, but I cannot watch you dive headfirst into your own demise. She’s a Cleric. This can only end one way.”
“I love her, Scott. At least, I think this is what love feels like. All I know is that I want to be with her for the rest of my life. If I don’t have her, there’s no point.”
“You’ve spent the past thirty years without her just fine.”
“Maybe it was all leading up to this moment. I had to live through losing both of my parents and being stuck working for the system that killed them to find her. And if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would if it meant I got to be with her.”
“Just... just be careful. You obviously know they’re cracking down on sense offenders. I hope you have the rest of your parents’ stash hidden well.”
“Well enough,” Cosima answers.
When Delphine arrives at HQ, she’s five minutes early, so she heads to her desk. Rachel is already there, going over some files.
“Hello, Rachel,” Delphine says while sitting down.
“Delphine,” Rachel replies without looking up. “We’ve received a new assignment. High profile sense offenders, most likely part of the Underground.”
Delphine opens the thick file on her desk and feels her stomach drop straight to the floor when she sees what’s inside. Photos of Cosima, Felix, Helena, Sarah, and Alison are paperclipped to the edge with all of their information and last known whereabouts.
“Niehaus. Isn’t that a case you had years ago? Killed a couple of sense offenders in their home after they opened fire?”
“Yes,” Delphine answers plainly. She had no desire to rehash the details of murdering Cosima’s parents.
“Looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” Rachel chuckles.
Delphine can’t concentrate. She needs to warn Cosima somehow, but she can’t leave, not with Rachel sitting there and when she has a Casteda test happening sometime that day. Then she remembers that she has Cosima’s phone number and quickly sends an encrypted text.
Compromised. You need to hide.
She receives a text back that basically says Cosima refuses to leave her behind and they’ll figure it out. Delphine nearly throws her phone to the floor and clenches her jaw, trying to figure out what to do.
“Everything okay, Cormier? You seem tense,” Rachel observes, looking up for the first time that morning, examining her face.
“I am fine,” she replies, loosening her muscles and trying to look stoic.
An e-mail pops up on Delphine’s screen and she is to report to Leekie’s office immediately. She sighs internally and excuses herself, walking down the long, dark corridor until she gets to her destination. She knocks on the door gently and a voice tells her to enter. Leekie is sitting at the desk and there is another man standing next to him.
“You asked to see me, sir?”
“Yes. Come in, Delphine. There’s someone I want you to meet. This is—“
“The Father,” she gasps.
“Please, call me PT,” the elderly man says, extending a hand out for Delphine to shake, which she does.
“This is such an honor, sir.”
“Well, I had to see our brightest Cleric in the force with my own two eyes, especially with one of the biggest Apprehension and Recoveries coming up in the near future. I do hope you make me proud.”
Delphine feels the guilt welling up in the pit of her stomach. If only they knew that she was in love with a sense offender and is a sense offender herself. She should have been more disciplined, but then she never would have met Cosima. Was it worth it? Was love worth the threat of dying for it?
“There is also another matter to attend to. As you know, we have been running random tests to make sure citizens are keeping up with their doses. We’ve chosen you to be one of the firsts, so we can show the rest that the system is working and to have people keep their faith in the Clerics,” Leekie says while smirking.
“Of course, sir. Whatever you need.”
Leekie takes out a scanner from his desk and walks around to Delphine’s side. She takes her gloves off and allows him to prick a finger to scan her blood. A green light flashes across the screen and she internally lets out a sigh of relief.
“Very good. Thank you, Officer Cormier,” the Father says. “We should let you get back to it. I look forward to reading the report of your next case.”
Delphine simply nods and stands up, shaking both men’s hands before exiting into the corridor. She immediately sends Cosima another text and tells her they need to meet. Soon. Cosima tells her to come by the church at midnight and Delphine heads back to HQ, so Rachel doesn’t become suspicious.
She fakes her way through the workday, acting like she’s gathering information on the Underground, when, in actuality, she’s trying to think of a way to get out of her situation alive. She isn’t sure just how big the Underground actually is and if they even have a change of overthrowing Neolution, but she’ll ask Cosima later that night.
“I’m going home. Don’t work too late, Cormier. We need to be at our best if we’re going to take this group down,” Rachel says with an air of cockiness.
“I won’t. I’m just finishing this up,” Delphine replies. She watches Rachel leave and waits a half hour before leaving the office herself. On her way out, she walks past Cosima’s lab, but the lights are turned off and the door is locked. As she walks down the stairs in front of the HQ building, the streets are completely empty due to the curfew. She passes a dark alley and someone grabs her by the arm. She reflexively reaches for her gun and points it at the person’s head.
“Whoa, hey, it’s just me,” Cosima says, holding her hands up.
“Cosima! What are you doing? I almost shot you.”
“Sorry, I was waiting for you. I wanted to walk you home or to the church.”
Delphine exhales and holsters her gun. She cradles Cosima face in her hands and leans in to kiss her passionately. Cosima moans softly and molds herself to Delphine’s body, pulling at her hips.
“You’re ridiculous. You could have sent me a text and told me.”
Cosima shrugs. “And ruin the surprise and nearly get killed by my girlfriend? Not a chance.”
That’s what she is? She never really thought about what to call Cosima. They always called the people they lived with their mates or partners. There was never any feeling behind it, no meaning other than what they were together to do - create life.
Delphine sat on the couch, reading one of her science texts - this one about immunology, and Guillaume came by and sat next to her. She could feel his eyes on her and puts her book down.
“Do you need something, Guillaume?”
“I have something for you,” he said, pulling a small velvet box out of his pocket. He opened it and presented it to Delphine.
“What—what is this?”
“It is a ring. I read that people used to give each other rings when they made the decision to spend the rest of their lives together, so that is what I’m doing.”
Delphine stared at the gold band with a series of small diamonds across it. “Guillaume, you know I cannot wear that. Jewelry is not allowed.”
“I know, chérie, but if you accept it, I’ll know, even if you have to hide it away.”
Delphine took the ring out of the box and looked at it. She slipped it onto her finger and held her hand out curiously. Quickly removing it, she put it back into the box and handed it back to Guillaume. “I can’t. It is against the law.”
Guillaume hung his head and stared at the box in his hands. “I will leave it with the other things in case you change your mind.” He kissed her temple and stood up, walking out of the room.
Cosima walks Delphine back to her apartment, since they don’t need to be at the church for a couple hours. When they get there, Delphine lets them inside and she makes some tea. She catches Cosima staring at her across the room and she feels her face get warm.
“What is it?”
Cosima shrugs. “Nothing. You’re gorgeous and I can’t stop looking at you.”
Delphine laughs and feels her face get warm. She adds teabags to two cups, handing one to Cosima. “I’ll be right back,” she says, putting her cup back onto the counter and walking to her bedroom. She searches through her dresser for something and takes all of the clothes out and removes the false bottom. Inside is a photograph of herself and Guillaume, smiling, and next to it is the velvet box he had tried giving her. She lifts it out and puts the bottom back inside the drawer, placing all of the clothes back neatly on top. As she turns to leave, she sees Cosima leaning on the door frame, watching her. Delphine walks up to her and hands her the box. Cosima puts her cup down on a small table and opens the box.
“It is a—“
“A ring,” Cosima gasps. “I’ve never seen one this nice before. It’s beautiful.”
“I want you to have it,” Delphine blurts out before realizing what she’s saying.
Cosima looks up at her in disbelief. “Delphine, I can’t accept this.”
Delphine wrinkles her forehead and a look of rejection falls across her face. Cosima realizes what she’s done and steps closer to Delphine.
“No, hey, I don’t mean that I don’t appreciate the gesture. It’s just that—this is an engagement ring. I’ve read about these. You’re supposed to give it to someone that you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. It’s a symbol.”
“I’m aware of that Cosima,” Delphine says, not meeting the brunette’s eyes. “I know what marriage is. My… boyfriend tried to give it to me and I didn’t accept it, either, because I was too caught up in following the rules and not causing any disturbances, so he died not knowing how I felt about him. I think I loved him, as much as one can love without being a sense offender and he never knew. I just thought that you might want it.”
Cosima reaches out to take one of Delphine’s hands in her own and brings it up to her lips to kiss it. “You’re such a sap,” she giggles. “Thank you, I love it. I can’t wear it, but I’ll find a place for it.” She smiles and pulls Delphine closer to her, kissing her tenderly.
“Je t’aime,” Delphine whispers.
“What is that?”
“It’s French. I haven’t spoken it since Guillaume died.”
“What does it mean?”
“It means,” Delphine pauses. She’s not sure she’s ready for Cosima to know how she feels, even though the ring pretty much says it all. “I love you,” she breathes. Being able to speak French freely around Cosima feels really good.
Cosima is quiet for a while and Delphine is worried that she said it too early or that Cosima doesn’t feel the same way. Her thoughts are cut off when she feels a hand wrap around the back of her neck and she’s being pulled into Cosima’s waiting lips. She’s pushed back into the dresser and it knocks against the wall with a thud. Frenzied hands are pulling at her jeans and Cosima is trying to work her button and zipper. She provides some assistance and drops her pants and underwear to the floor, while Cosima kneels in front of her and hooks a leg over her shoulder. She swipes her tongue through Delphine’s wetness and the blonde throws her head back, crying out loudly. One hand threads itself through Cosima’s hair and tugs it forward, while the other one holds onto the corner of the dresser.
Cosima brings two fingers to Delphine’s entrance and slides them inside slowly, coating them in her arousal.
“I love you,” Cosima whispers, looking up at Delphine standing above her, chest heaving and puffs of breath leaving her mouth. She takes Delphine’s clit into her mouth and vows to show Delphine just how much she loves her, that they’re in this together, and they’ll find a way to live.
Chapter 4: Sadness
Cosima feels the hard metal and harsh edges of the ring inside of her pocket while she and Delphine walk together to the church. Delphine spots another Cleric walking down the street and panics.
“Merde,” she mutters under her breath.
“Huh?” Cosima asks, looking up and she sees the Cleric walking in their direction.
“Hey, what are you two doing out? It’s past curfew,” he says, placing a hand over his weapon.
Delphine sighs. They really don’t have time for this. The Cleric looks young. “I’m Officer Cormier. My badge is in my coat pocket.” The young man reaches into her pocket and she resists the urge to disarm him and knock him unconscious. He takes out her badge and ID and his eyes widen when he sees her rank.
“I-I’m sorry, sir—ma’am. Apologies.” He hands her badge back to her and she raises an eyebrow.
“Have you been taking your injections, Officer?”
“Of course, ma’am,” he says, a bead of sweat drips down his forehead.
“What is your name?” she asks.
“R-Raj, ma’am. Raj Singh.”
“Raj, come with us. We have some people you should meet.”
Delphine, Cosima, and their new friend Raj all head toward the church. When they arrive, Cosima knocks a specific pattern on the large wooden door and it creaks open. Helena stands there and peeks out at them before opening the door wider.
“Who is this?” she asks, pointing at Raj.
“Another recruit for the cause,” Cosima says, putting an arm around his shoulder. Helena gives him a once over and asks for his weapon, which he reluctantly gives to her.
“Oi, what’s this meeting for?” Sarah calls out from the front of the church. “I had to leave Kira with Mrs. S, so let’s get this over with.”
Cosima looks over at Delphine, waiting for her to say something. Delphine clears her throat and steps forward. “All of you are in danger.”
Felix scoffs. “When are we not?”
“Everyone in here is a target. We’ve been tasked with finding all of you and bringing you in. You need to run.”
“We can’t just run, Delphine. Where would we go? There will be checkpoints everywhere and our faces will be all over the news,” Cosima argues.
“Then we fight. There are sense offenders all over the city. We just need to get the word out,” Alison states. Just as Cosima is about to argue, the doors of the church fly open and there are shouts coming from Clerics. Delphine’s eyes widen and she removes her weapons from their holsters and lets them hang at her sides.
“Officer Cormier, looks like you beat us to the punch,” Rachel says, trying to mask her annoyance. Delphine’s heart beats fast and she looks at Cosima with concern. Cosima mirrors her expression, but doesn’t say anything.
“Take them,” Rachel tells the other officer. She looks over at Raj. “Officer Singh, isn’t it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he answers, his hands shaking.
“He was assisting me with the arrest,” Delphine adds quickly, trying to save his life.
“I see. Well, Officer Singh, looks like we have a plethora of sense offenders here. The world wouldn’t miss one more.” Rachel hands him one of her guns. “Shoot one. I don’t care which. Remember, Father is everywhere.”
Raj looks at her with fear in his eyes and Rachel looks back at him. Raj slowly raises the weapon and points it directly at Cosima. Delphine’s fingers move to the triggers of her guns, waiting. Raj’s hand shakes as he pulls the hammer back on the gun. There’s a loud bang and Raj’s body falls to the floor. Rachel stands off to the side with her other weapon raised, smoke still coming from the barrel.
“As a Cleric, you never hesitate. He was clearly a sense offender. You’re losing your touch, Cormier.”
The other officers continue taking everyone out of the church, Sarah and Helena both resisting and Cosima looks at Delphine the entire time. The blonde is helpless. Of course, she could kill every Cleric in the building, but that would just mean there would be a manhunt for all of them and they weren’t ready for that.
“I knew we couldn’t trust her,” Sarah spits on the floor. “Thinking with your twat again, eh Cos?”
Cosima closes her eyes and hangs her head, allowing herself to be led into one of the Cleric cars. Rachel walks up beside Delphine and admires her handiwork.
“What will happen to them?” Delphine asks.
“Same thing that happens to all sense offenders,” Rachel replies. “Nice catch.”
When they arrive back at HQ, Delphine tries to locate the cells that everyone was put into. She watches the video feed of Cosima’s cell and feels a pain in her chest when she sees her sitting on her bed, knees folded up, and it looks like she’s crying. While Rachel is off congratulating herself, Delphine walks down to the interrogation rooms and sees a security guard waiting at a desk.
“I need to interrogate Cosima Niehaus,” she tells him.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but every interrogation room is in use.”
Delphine looks down the hall and sees one door open. “What about that one?”
“Microphones are faulty, won’t be fixed until next week.”
“Put us in there.”
Delphine whips her head back and glares at him. “I said put us in there, or do you want to explain why you denied a First Class Cleric the ability to interrogate a member of the Underground during your next review?”
“Right away, ma’am. The room is yours.” He gets up to fetch Cosima from her room and he returns shortly after with her, kicking and screaming.
“Let go of me, you asshole,” she sees Delphine. “Oh, great, you here to execute me? Fuck you!”
The officer sits Cosima down and handcuffs her to the table. Delphine sits across from her and waits for the other officer to leave and close the door.
“Mon amour, are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
“What do you care?” Cosima sneers.
“Please, I didn’t know they were going to be there. I didn’t hear any information regarding a raid. Rachel, she—she’s trying to make herself look good, so she most likely kept me in the dark. I’m going to get you all out of here.”
Cosima scoffs. “Yeah? How? How are you going to rescue all of us by yourself?”
Delphine twists her hands nervously. “Cosima, I’m a highly trained weapons expert. I was top of my class and the youngest to become a Cleric at my rank. I will burn this entire building down if I have to, Neolution with it.”
Cosima visibly calms down and looks at her with obvious arousal in her eyes. “Okay, angry Delphine is kinda hot.” Delphine gives her a look. “Sorry, sorry. Not the time.”
Delphine furrows her brow. Something jogs her memory and she feels the need to ask the question. “Cosima, when did you stop taking your doses? Did your parents force you to, or was it your own decision?”
“You’re asking me that now?” Cosima asks, eyebrow raised.
Cosima sat in one of her classes and was busy taking notes when two men walked in and informed her that she needed to go with them.
“Why?” she asked defiantly.
“Please, Ms. Niehaus. Just come with us.”
She huffed and packed up her laptop and notebook, scooting out of her seat and leaving the auditorium. The two men stood in front of her and told her the news of her parents’ death at the hands of the Clerics. Cosima didn’t cry; she was still on Casteda and felt nothing. She thanked the men for their time and headed home. She looked at herself in the mirror and saw an unmoving, unemotional, woman staring back at her.
Logically, she should have been upset that both of her parents were gone. She should be angry. She should want revenge, but she didn’t feel any of that. She took her doses of Casteda out of her cupboard and stared at them for a long while. Her parents were sense offenders. There had to be a reason why. There had to be something she was missing if they risked their lives to feel. When she turned eighteen, they’d given her a choice to stop her doses or to continue taking them. Her parents took her off her dose for one day, so she could experience it. After that day, she chose to keep taking Casteda, saying that she wanted to become a scientist and help people and the doses would help her achieve it to her highest potential.
Now that she’d become what she wanted, what was the point? Where had it gotten her? She was alone. She removed each vial of Casteda and smashed them in her sink, running water to wash it down her drain. That day, she decided that she would continue what her parents sought out to do. She would find the remaining members of the Underground and she would do what she could to save humanity, or what was left of it
“Cosima, there is something that I need to tell you. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while, but I didn’t know how,” Delphine says nervously.
Cosima looks at her, creasing her forehead with concern. “Tell me what?”
“I-I was the one who killed your parents. I was assigned to their case and we searched their house. I found them in the closet, your father opened fire on me, and I had to return fire. I had no choice.”
Cosima’s breaths become ragged and her face screws up like she’s in pain. “You had no choice? Of course you had a fucking choice! You could have not killed them. You could have taken them in for questioning and then most likely executed, but it didn’t have to be you.”
“No. I should have known. Did you seek me out? Did you want to finish off the rest of the Niehaus family?”
“What? No, of course not. Cosima, I love you.”
“Bullshit,” Cosima spits. “Let me out. I’ll await my execution in my cell.”
Delphine knows that she’s ruined everything, but she couldn’t hide her past from Cosima anymore, even if it meant losing her. She unlocks the cuffs from the table and knocks on the door. The security officer takes Cosima by the arm and the brunette turns her head slightly.
“I never want to see you again.”
Delphine takes a deep breath and steels herself. She doesn’t have time to feel sorry for herself with what she needs to do. She drives back to the church and joins Rachel and the other Clerics in their search of the premises, looking for illegal items. Stacks of books and paintings are piled up in the center of the walkway, ready to be engulfed in flames. Delphine looks around and sees a small box with the initials CN on the side. She opens it up and sees the ring that she’d given Cosima, along with her nautilus shell pin. Did Cosima anticipate a raid, or was it just there for safekeeping? She discreetly puts them in her pocket and continues looking around.
“The Underground will definitely be crippled with the loss of this group,” Rachel notes, throwing a few books onto a pile. “We’ll surely get those promotions now.”
Delphine nods silently. Her goal had always been to become the youngest Senior Cleric and she was well on her way, but now, none of it seemed to matter. Cosima and her friends are going to be executed within a few days and she has to stop it, even if Cosima never forgives her. At least she’ll be safe.
At least she’ll be alive.
After they get back to the office, Rachel goes to congratulate herself in front of a few other officers and Delphine takes the opportunity to check on Cosima via the security cameras. She’s still curled up in the corner of the room, staring straight ahead. Suddenly, she stares into the camera, seemingly looking straight at Delphine with rage in her eyes.
Delphine gasps, shaken by the anger on Cosima’s face. She grabs her coat and leaves her office, heading toward the lab. When she gets there, she’s relieved to see Scott working. As he pours a liquid into a test tube and puts it inside of a centrifuge, he looks up and nearly knocks it off the table.
Delphine steps forward. “Scott, I need your help. Cosima was arrested last night with everyone else from the church. I’m going to get them out, but I’ll need back-up. Can you help me?”
“I’m not much of a fighter, but I know someone you should go see.” He writes an address on a piece of paper. “Find Cosima’s nautilus pin and show it to them. They’ll let you in.”
“I have the pin already,” Delphine says, pulling it out of her pocket.
Scott slaps his hand over hers and tells her to put it away. “Good. The building is disguised as a bakery. Ask for Mrs. S.”
“Thank you, Scott. Thank you,” Delphine says, hugging him briefly.
“Oh, hey, Delphine?” Scott says just as she’s about to leave. “If you see someone named Krystal, will you please tell her that I love her and give her this?” He hands Delphine an envelope.
Delphine smiles and gives him a nod. “I will.” She walks out of the HQ building and right past the endless line of people getting their next dose. The bakery is a few blocks down the street and the outside looks normal, like any other shop on that street. She does notice a small parchment of paper in the corner of one window with a blue nautilus shell drawn on it. She opens the door and the bell jingles as she walks in. It smells like dough and pastries, reminding Delphine of her parents and when her father would bring home freshly-baked bread on Sundays. It had been a long time since she thought of them. She feels a tear fall down her cheek and she quickly swipes it away before a woman walks out from the back.
“Hello, how can I help you, Cleric?”
Delphine walks up to the counter slowly and takes the pin out of her pocket, sliding it across the glass.
“Where did you get this?” the woman asks.
“Cosima,” Delphine says quietly with a twinge of guilt.
The woman frowns. “Is she…”
“Not yet, but she doesn’t have much time. I need your help. I’m assuming you’re Mrs. S?”
“Yes, Siobhan Sadler, but most call me Mrs. S. Come around back,” she says, lifting part of the counter up, so Delphine can slide in. In the back room, there’s a young girl drawing on some paper. Delphine recognizes her as Kira from her first encounter at the church and the other woman, a blonde, she doesn’t recognize.
“Okay, start from the beginning,” Siobhan says. Delphine goes through her meeting Cosima at the lab and how she’d helped her, then the times she went to the church and how they’d been ambushed by Rachel.
“Their execution is scheduled two days from now. I will be able to get in and free them, but someone will need to get them all out while I find the Father.”
“The Father? Why him?” Siobhan asks questioningly.
“We need to take Neolution down, otherwise we’ll never be free.”
Siobhan hums and takes a device out from a hiding spot on one of the shelves. “There are thousands of us in the Underground. We’ve spent years learning how to hide in plain sight. I will send out a message to all of them and have them meet you the day of the executions.”
Delphine nods and looks at the blonde woman, who is reading a book by the window. She steps closer to her. “Are you Krystal?” The woman looks up.
“Yes, who’s asking?”
“I’m a friend of Scott’s. He helped me find my way here. He wanted me to tell you that he loves you and give you this.” She holds out the envelope, which Krystal takes.
The woman looks up at her a grins widely. She jumps up and throws her arms around Delphine and hugs her so tight that Delphine has trouble breathing.
“Cleric, come with me,” Siobhan calls to Delphine. She extracts herself from Krystal’s grip and follows the older woman through a doorway into another room. They sit down at a small table and Siobhan turns on a small kettle. “Tell me, Cleric—“
“Delphine, please. I don’t feel like a Cleric much these days.”
Siobhan nods. “Delphine. How did you and Cosima meet again? You told me that she helped you with your missed doses, but there’s more to it than that, isn’t there.” Delphine stares at the other woman. There’s a motherly air to her and she seems fiercely protective of those she cares about.
“No, that’s not all. She and I have—ehm, had a relationship.” Delphine feels a tug at her chest and she wrings her fingers on top of the table.
“Had?” Siobhan asks.
“I did something horrible and I fear she may never forgive me.”
Siobhan chuckles. “The thing about Cosima is that she loves someone with her whole heart. If she’s let you in, you’ll never leave. She’ll forgive you.”
“I killed her parents.”
Siobhan hums contemplatively. “Well, that is a little more complicated. However, if she does love you, she’ll forgive you. It may take time, but I’m sure it will happen eventually. The thing that you learn when you’ve gone so long without emotion is that when you get them back, you feel them much stronger than normal, and love is one of the strongest emotions there is. Emotion is chaos, it has a price, but when you’re in it and you feel it, it’s the most powerful thing in the world.”
They sit and drink their tea, talking about how Siobhan started out with the Resistance and how she’d basically become the mother of the Underground.
“And Beth? She was part of the Underground, too?”
“Yes,” Siobhan nods sadly. “She was our informant and she was coming up with her own plan to kill the Father.
“I’m sorry. She’s dead because of me.”
Siobhan tilts her head. “Guilt. You’re feeling guilty, but you shouldn’t. You were doing your job, Delphine, and Beth was doing hers. And now, you can honor her and her memory by freeing everyone from this prison.”
Delphine leaves the bakery with a baguette, a gift from Siobhan. She heads back to HQ and walks straight to the interrogation rooms, telling the guard to bring Cosima into the same room with the faulty microphones. Shortly after, the guard brings Cosima in and when she sees Delphine sitting at the table, she scoffs.
“I told you I didn’t want to see you again.”
“Sit down, Cosima.”
“No, take me back,” she says to the officer. Delphine waves him off and he closes the door behind him. Cosima paces back and forth across the room, eyes full of scorn for the Cleric.
“I went to see Siobhan,” Delphine says calmly. “She’s going to help.
“Or she’s going to walk them right into a trap. Who’s to say you won’t betray them too, huh, Delphine?”
Delphine stands and stalks toward Cosima, backing her into a corner. “Cosima, please. I had no idea they were your parents and didn’t know you. I love you. You saved me. Do you understand?”
Cosima simply shakes her head. Her emotions are still too raw. Delphine takes Cosima’s face in her hands and lifts it, so the brunette looks into her eyes. The ache in her chest is so present and so strong that if she wasn’t so afraid of her pride slipping, she would have broken down on the spot. The look in Delphine’s eyes, full of apologies and promises, reminds her of something her mother told her.
“When you fall in love with someone, you just know. Nothing around you matters, just you and that other person. Love makes all of this worth it. What we’re doing? The Resistance? It’s to help people experience this emotion. Not all emotions are bad, Cosima. Some are worth fighting for, but emotions are an inherent contradiction. If you have good ones, you also have to have bad ones, but the thing is, I would fight in a hundred world wars if it meant I could feel the love that I feel for you and your father.”
Cosima stands on her toes and reaches behind Delphine’s neck to pull her closer. Their lips meet and Cosima sucks the breath right out of Delphine’s lungs. They cling to each other as if their lives depend on it and, in this moment, it does. Delphine lets her love for Cosima flow through her, lets it tell her everything she’s been too afraid to say, or unsure of how to say it. She lets all of the pent up emotion break down the dam that held it back for so long.
“Je t’aime, je t’aime, je t’aime,” she says between kisses and tears. Cosima grips onto her shirt, letting her own tears fall.
When they break away from each other, Delphine steps back, a little embarrassed by her reaction.
“You’re in my heart now, Delphine. You’re a part of me,” Cosima says, holding one of the blonde’s hands up to her chest.
Delphine smiles. “Siobhan mentioned that about you.” When Cosima raises an eyebrow, Delphine explains. “She said you love with your whole heart and once you let someone in, they never leave.”
Cosima laughs. “Yeah, she’s pretty intuitive that way.”
Delphine checks her watch. She’s been in there for well over an hour. “I need to go,” she says sadly.
“I know,” Cosima replies, still holding onto Delphine’s hand.
Delphine takes her other hand and feels the inside of her pocket, remembering she still has the ring. She takes it out and tries to hand it to Cosima, who shakes her head.
“No, I don’t want to lose it. Keep it for me until I get out of here.”
“I will come back for you, I promise. I’m going to kill Father and then I will find you.”
“I know that, too,” Cosima smiles.
Delphine kisses her one last time before leading her to the door and handing her off to the security officer. Cosima looks over her shoulder as she walks down the hallway and takes one more look at her and gives her a wink. Now that she’s left alone, Delphine hurries out of the incarceration wing and back to her home. She looks up blueprints of the HQ building on a secure server and plans her attack, finding the optimal route inside, to the cells, to Father, and back out again.
When she goes to work the next day, Leekie is summoning her once more and she heads directly to his office. Before she can knock on the door, it swings open and Leekie looms over her.
“Oh, just in time, Officer Cormier. Come in,” he opens the door wider.
Delphine sits in a chair in front of the desk and Leekie sits across from her. He pulls out a folder from his drawer and opens it in front of Delphine.
“Officer Cormier, it was brought to my attention that you’ve been spending quite a lot of time with one of the sense offenders who was apprehended." He flips through a few photos and stops on one where they’re sitting together at the coffee shop.
“Yes, sir. She helped me retrieve my missed dose without having to stand in line. I bought her breakfast to thank her.”
Leekie hums. “And here?” He flips to a photo of them when walking down the street on their way to Delphine’s house.”
“She wanted to discuss the effectiveness of Casteda injections and if there was a way to only need one injection a day, or even one a week. She knows of my medical background.”
“She’s quite pretty, don’t you think?”
“I have no opinion, sir.”
Leekie examines her face closely, waiting for her to give him some kind of indication that she’s feeling. She remains still and her breaths are even.
“And your interviews with her? The logs show you’ve seen her twice, but there are no recordings.”
Delphine has never wanted to cause anyone physical pain as much as she wants to cause it now. “I had no choice but to use the interview room with faulty microphones, as the others were all taken at the time. I was interviewing her to try and get her to tell me where the rest of the Underground is.”
“And did she give you anything?”
“Of course not. She is going to die and she’s aware of that. Perhaps if we stalled her execution, she would be more willing to cooperate.”
Leekie shakes his head. “The Father is adamant that these sense offenders must set an example for the rest of the citizens, that resistance will not be tolerated. In fact, I believe we moved up the schedule a bit and her execution has been change to today.”
“What?” Delphine’s eyes shoot up and stare into Leekie’s, devoid of all feeling. “You can’t.”
“Why is that, Officer Cormier?”
Delphine stands up and rushes out of the office, running straight toward the incineration wing, pushing guards out of the way and flashing her ID through the checkpoints. She gets to the end of the hall and sees a small figure in a long gown surrounded by three guards.
“Cosima!” She runs to them. “Stop, I am a First Class Cleric and I need to interview her.”
“It’s okay,” Cosima says calmly. “Save the others.”
Delphine shakes her head. “No, that is not the promise I made.”
“Delphine, really, it’s okay. I’m okay. This is what I signed up for.”
After her parents were killed, Cosima became a ghost. She had no home to go back to, no friends, no one she could trust. She’d found a bakery that tossed out old bread daily, so she would wait in the alley across the street and when the woman who owned the shop came out every evening to throw away the old product, Cosima would sneak over and eat it hungrily.
One night, she waited in the alley like she always did, but the woman never came out. She thought that maybe the woman had thrown away the bread early, so she walked across the street and took the lid off of the trash can, but there was nothing in it. The back door swung open and the baker grabbed her by her shirt collar and pointed a gun right at her head.
“Who are you?”
“I’m no one,” Cosima squeaked. “I just—I eat your old bread, that’s all. I’m no one. Please.” Her lip started to quiver, betraying her.
The woman’s eyes softened and she loosened her grip. “Come with me.”
They walked inside the bakery and into a back room, where three other people sat – a man, a woman, and a child.
“These two are my children, Felix and Sarah, and the little one is Kira. I’m Siobhan, but you can call me Mrs. S. And this is…”
“Cosima. Cosima Niehaus.”
“Niehaus. Gene and Sally’s girl?” Siobhan asked.
“Yes, I’m their daughter.”
“Shit,” Felix muttered, looking over at Sarah.
“I’m very sorry about your parents, but this is very fortunate for us. How would you like to work for the Underground? We can make sure you get revenge for your parents.”
Cosima looked up, hopeful for the first time in years. “How?”
Siobhan smiled. “Well first, you need to go to school and then we need to get you recruited by Neolution. Should be easy enough. Welcome to the resistance, love.”
One of the guards takes Cosima by the elbow. “Time to go.” Delphine freezes in place, watching Cosima walk to her death. She turns her head and mouths I love you and in that moment, Delphine knows what she needs to do.
She draws her weapons and aims them at the guards. She rushes the one in the rear and kicks his knee out from under him until he falls to the floor. With the butt of one of her guns, she knocks him out. One of the other guards stops and turns, pointing his own weapon at Delphine and she grabs him by the wrist and knocks his arm into the wall hard, the gun falling to the floor. She punches him on the nose and his head flies back, knocking it on the wall and he bends over in pain, Delphine brings a knee up to his face and knocks him to the ground. The last guard fires at Delphine and misses. She fires a non-lethal shot in his shoulder and he’s knocked back onto the floor. Grabbing Cosima’s hand, she drags her down the hallway. As they turn the corner, an arm shoots out and hits Delphine’s neck, causing her to fall to the floor. Standing above her is Rachel and two other guards. She grins menacingly. “First Class Officer Delphine Cormier, you’re under arrest for Sensory Offense.”
Chapter 5: Joy
Thanks for reading. Come yell at me on tumblr @bearpantaloons.
“You, grab the Cleric. You, take the prisoner back to her cell,” Rachel orders the guards. They walk down one of the hallways toward the Offices of the Vice Council.
They arrive at the council, which has been gathered for a special meeting. Leekie is there at the center of the group. Rachel grabs Delphine by the neck and throws her to the ground before the rest of them.
“Vice Council, we have here a First Class Cleric who has stopped her dose. She is feeling! She is a stain on the very foundation that we have laid down for the citizens of this great nation, for Neolution, and has been rotting its core for who knows how long.” Rachel leans in and whispers, ““I told you I’d be getting that promotion, Cormier. Maybe they’ll even make me Senior Cleric.”
Rachel walks forward. “Cleric Delphine Cormier is a sense offender and has had relations with… a woman,” she says with disgust.
Leekie almost looks disappointed. He motions to one of the guards. “Search Officer Cormier’s residence for unused Casteda.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Rachel says. “I have a tester right here.” She pulls the device out of her coat pocket and one of the guards removes Delphine’s gloves. Rachel pricks one of Delphine’s fingers and the screen turns green.
Rachel looks at it in disbelief. “That can’t be right.” She looks down at Delphine who stares back up at her and smirks. Delphine stands up slowly and faces the council.
“You have something to say, Officer Cormier?”
“I know it’s hard to believe that one of your very own Clerics, one so determined and so driven, could be a sense offender, to be associated with members of the resistance, to even become a part of the Underground. I always vowed to perform at the best of my ability and to bring any sense offenders to justice.” She looks at Rachel square in the eye. “And I have.”
She walks up to Rachel and takes the device out of her hands. Holding one of her wrists, Delphine pricks one of Rachel’s fingers and the screen turns blood red and blinks.
“What? No! It can’t be. I’ve taken my doses every day. They switched them!”
Delphine walked into Scott’s lab and sets a letter in front of him. He looked up at her questioningly.
“Krystal said to give this to you,” she smiled. “I need another favor, though, Scott.”
“Sure, anything,” Scott said, bringing the letter up to his nose.
“I need you to create a placebo Casteda serum that looks like the real thing and have it assigned to Cleric Rachel Duncan. I will also need some of the faux serum for myself. Do you think you can do that?”
“Y-yeah, of course. I can have it ready for you this afternoon. How many placebos should I make?”
“At least enough for the next two days.”
Leekie sighs. “I suppose you have always been quite passionate, Officer Duncan. Perhaps I overlooked that emotion, because it was getting the job done. Take her to her cell for judgement and incineration.”
“No! You can’t do this! Do you know how many sense offenders I’ve arrested? Clerics will be lost without me. Cormier’s the one! She did this!” Rachel continues screaming out in the hallway as she’s being dragged away.
“Officer Cormier, I hope you will accept our deepest apologies,” Leekie says.
“Of course, sir. A simple misunderstanding.”
“Now, knowing the rules, since the complaint has been made, we will still need to search your residence for any illegal substances or evidence of unused Casteda, unless you believe it to be too harsh.”
“No, sir. Not at all.”
“And it does not bother you that you are sending yet another one of your partners to her death?”
“No, sir. Why would it? Although, it does bother me that I have only had the pleasure of meeting the Father once. I would like to speak with him once more regarding the apprehension of the Underground members, as well as another sense offender within the Clerics.”
Leekie ponders for a minute. “Very well, I will see what I can do.”
“Sir, one more thing, due to the questionable actions of Officer Duncan, would it be safe to assume that the executions of the apprehended Underground members will be postponed until an extensive investigation can be made?”
Leekie looks over at the other council members and they all nod at him. “Yes, that is correct.”
“I see, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Back at Delphine’s house, a few officers pace around.
“Ma’am, you understand this is just to keep up appearances,” one of them says.
Delphine waves him off. “Yes, yes. You’re just doing your job.”
One of the officers searches Delphine’s bathroom and she watches him like a hawk. He removes the vanity mirror to find nothing behind it and he places it back. She stares at the loose tile where she had been keeping her unused vials and the officer taps them and finds it when the hollow sound echoes in the room. He lifts the tile and reaches his hand inside and pulls out nothing. Delphine breathes a silent sigh of relief and the officer turns to her.
“You should get that fixed, ma’am.” She nods and says she’s been meaning to get around to it. She’s glad she had the foresight to dispose of her unused vials before they got there. After the officers leave, she collapses onto her couch. Not getting any rest, there’s a knock on her door and she gets up to open it.
“Sarah? Honestly, how do you keep getting released?”
Sarah shrugs. “It’s a gift. Now, what’s the plan? How are we getting everyone out?”
Delphine smiles and lets Sarah in. “Would you like a drink? I have water or... most likely spoiled milk. I may still have some of that alcohol Cosima brought.”
“That’s where the moonshine went! That wanker. Gimme that, yeah?”
Delphine grabs a couple of glasses and pours the rest of the alcohol in them. They clink their glasses together and drink, reveling in the burn they feel as it goes down.
“I need to kill the Father,” Delphine says disdainfully.
Sarah exhales. “Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Mrs. S called on the Underground, so you’ll have back-up. We’re all meeting at HQ and a group will follow you to Father.”
“Thank you, Sarah. For trusting me.”
Sarah takes a drink and shrugs. “You make Cosima happy, and there’s no point to any of this if we can’t feel the emotions we want to feel. As far as I’m concerned, you’re one of us, but that won’t stop me from putting a bullet in your brain if you hurt her.”
Delphine chuckles. “Noted.”
Sarah sleeps on the couch and Delphine doesn’t sleep at all, preparing herself for her meeting with the Father. She knows it’s a longshot and he’ll have security all over the place. He may not even show himself, but she has to try. She has to save Cosima.
The next morning, a car comes to pick Delphine up to take her to the Citadel, where the Father resides, except they’re going in the wrong direction.
“Where are we going?” Delphine asks the driver.
“Pit stop, ma’am,” he replies and keeps driving. Delphine continues looking out the window to try and figure out where she is, but nothing looks familiar. When the car stops, the driver gets out and opens Delphine’s door. They’re met by another unit of officers, but they’re all dressed in different uniforms – all black. Tactical. They ask her for her weapons and pat her down, then lead her into a small room, where a man sits with a strange device. “Officer Cormier, welcome,” he says. “Please, sit.”
Delphine sits down and the man wraps a blood pressure strap around her arm, along with a heart rate monitor clipped to her index finger.
“Before you see Father, we’re going to do a series of tests. This is called a polygraph machine and it is designed to measure the heart and breathing rate of a person and tell if they are lying. We’ll start with a couple of test questions to calibrate it.”
Delphine can feel multiple pairs of eyes on her and tries to relax.
“State your name.”
“First Class Cleric, Delphine Cormier.” The needle stays relatively steady.
“Have you ever seen the Father?”
“Do you believe the Father is everywhere?”
An image flashes on the screen. It’s a photo of Cosima and herself and they’re walking down the street, smiling.
“Did you have relations with this sense offender?” The needle begins to shake rapidly. “Officer Cormier? Please answer the question.”
“I—“ Delphine starts to say.
“Yes or no?”
“Give her a chance to think about it,” a voice says, the screen switching to a video feed of Leekie. “By the look on your face, I’d wager that you didn’t have any idea that we knew about you. Did you think that the whole stunt with Rachel would throw us off the scent? You forget,” he leers at her, “I’m everywhere.”
The video feed switches to another room, where Cosima sits, looking very afraid and haggard. Delphine gasps softly and grips the arms of her chair. The polygraph needle swings back and forth rapidly as Delphine’s stress and anger rises. Leekie finds a sick satisfaction in watching her and continues. “And you helped me round some of the top members of the Underground. I assume you’d recruited more to come help you, but we’ll be ready for them when they come.”
Delphine lowers her head and steadies her breathing. She looks up, stares Leekie straight in the eyes and says, “Are you sure about that?” The polygraph needle flatlines and the technician’s eyes widen. Delphine grabs a gun out of a nearby guard’s holster and fires it pointblank into his leg. She continues firing non-lethal shots into the other guards in the room, taking one more gun in the process, and when the technician is left, she slams his head into the table and knocks him unconscious.
Leekie watches the events unfold and scoffs. “With all of your talents and knowing how good you are with a firearm, you could have killed all those men. See? Emotions make you weak.”
“You mistake weakness for mercy, Leekie. I won’t be so merciful with you,” Delphine says, glaring. “I’m coming for you.”
Waves of guards line the hallways, weapons drawn. “Freeze, Cleric!” one of them yells. Delphine takes a deep breath and raises her weapons, calculates the trajectories with lighting fast speed and fires. The first wave falls to the floor and the next wave stands frozen in place. Delphine stalks toward them and they drop their weapons and flee. Delphine grabs a grenade from one of the guard’s belts and heads toward Leekie’s office.
The door to Leekie’s office is blown wide open and a handful of guards surround him, but when Delphine turns the corner, she quickly takes care of them, leaving Leekie standing by himself with his own weapons dangling at his sides.
“Leekie, or should I call you Father?”
Leekie smirks. “Yes, it was all smoke and mirrors. PT was a fake, and a good one at that.” He slowly walks down the stairs and circles around Delphine. “You know, I was a Cleric once. Top of my class, as well, just like you.”
Gunfire echoes through the hallway; the Underground must have arrived. Delphine doesn’t take her eyes off of Leekie, trying to find her next move.
“Your relationship with that sense offender intrigues me, Delphine. You had everything you could ever want – high rank, nice home, impeccable Apprehension and Recovery record. And you’re throwing that all way for this one insignificant speck of dirt. Why?”
“Freewill makes us human, you said so yourself. You think you’re free, but you aren’t. Freedom is having the choice to feel, having the choice to love unconditionally, being happy or sad, angry. You’re a prisoner of your own convictions and that what you believe is the only way. With no emotions, everything is already set for you. You take your injection in the morning, report to work, go home, nighttime injection, sleep, and it repeats. That sounds like hell to me.”
Leekie suddenly lifts his guns to point at Delphine and she does the same. They fire their bullets simultaneously, mirroring each other’s movements. They know what the other is going to do and are able to counter and parry with ease. Their magazines empty one by one as the bullets fly past them, into walls and furniture, until finally, they each end up with one bullet left and their guns pointed at each other’s legs. Leekie fires his weapon and the bullet shreds through Delphine’s thigh. She cries out in pain and stands up a couple feet away from Leekie. He checks his weapons and he’s out of bullets, but Delphine holds up one of her guns with her last remaining round.
Leekie tilts his head quizzically. “You took the bullet on purpose.”
“It’s like chess. I anticipated your moves,” Delphine replies. She holds the gun up to Leekie’s head.
“Wait, Delphine!” he falls to his knees. “Look, I’m unarmed, I’m alive, I’m breathing the same air you are. I feel. Can you really kill me knowing that I’m like you?”
Delphine hesitates just for a split second and squeezes the grip. “You are nothing like me. Goodbye, Aldous.” She pulls the trigger and Leekie’s body crumples to the floor. Delphine hobbles around the room and sees a door off to the side. She disengages the lock and walks in. Cosima looks up and gasps. She runs toward Delphine and throws herself into her arms, Delphine wincing in pain.
“Oh, sorry! God, I thought you were dead. Leekie told me everything he had planned and I—I was so scared.”
Delphine holds her close and kisses her tenderly, wiping away tears. Footsteps approach and Mrs. S, along with Sarah and all of the other rescued Underground members run in. Delphine tosses an arm around Cosima’s shoulder and they walk over to Leekie’s console and start a new recording.
Delphine’s voice rings throughout the city. “Citizens, this is a new message. Casteda is finished, there will be no more doses. The backbone of the Clerics is broken and Father is gone. We are now the makers of our own fate, free to make our own decisions, free to feel.”
Eventually, all of the Casteda labs are shut down and all of the lab technicians, including Scott and Cosima, are reassigned to develop cures for diseases and other medications. Some of the people continue to take mood stabilizers in order to combat the sudden switch back to feeling emotions and will gradually wean themselves off of them. Delphine starts a new branch of Clerics, whose sole purpose is to watch over the city. Naturally, crime does happen, but Delphine’s units are well-trained and are able to de-escalate most situations.
Scott and Krystal get married, one of the first couples to have a marriage in the new emotional world. At the reception, Alison prods Cosima and asks when she and Delphine are going to get married, since Cosima’s been wearing the ring Delphine gave her for the better part of a year. Cosima jabs back and says they’ll get married when they’re good and ready.
Delphine sits back in her chair and just watches everyone. Smiling faces litter the dance floor and the tables around them. She feels a soft hand lay itself on top of hers and she looks over at Cosima, whose smile is full of love and adoration.
“Sorry about Alison,” she says. “She’s always been the pushiest of all of us.”
Delphine laughs. “It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
“So…” Cosima says, looking over at Scott and Krystal, who are dancing together in the middle of the floor. “Maybe Alison’s right. I think we should get married.”
Delphine’s breath gets caught in her throat and she stares at Cosima, who keeps looking straight ahead. “You want to get married?”
Cosima shrugs and takes a sip of her champagne. “I love you, you love me. You kind of toppled all of Neolution to the ground just for me. If that doesn’t scream ‘marriage material,’ I don’t know what will.”
Delphine rolls her eyes. “It wasn’t all for you, but a majority of it was, yes.” She turns her hand up and threads her fingers between Cosima’s. She can’t imagine what life would be like without Cosima, now that she had a taste of it with her. She brings their hands to her face and lets herself feel. The tugging in her chest that she feels whenever Cosima is even just a few feet away from her is an indication that she could allow herself to love Cosima forever. She never wanted that feeling to end, feeling her heart beat faster and louder whenever Cosima smiled at her.
“Delphine, I know that you’re against feeling and you’re used to everything being precise and calculated, but I really do hope that you get to experience this at least once in your life.”
“Why, Guillaume? What’s the point of feeling anger or contempt when you can just move right past those emotions and get things done?”
“Because those aren’t the only emotions. There’s happiness and joy, like what I feel whenever I see you walk into a room. That feeling outweighs any possible bad feeling I could experience.”
Delphine shook her head. “I have no use for that as a doctor. I heal people and save lives. I have no room for emotions when I have a job to do.”
“Gratitude from a person whose life you’ve saved is what would keep you going. Seeing people breathe again after you’ve resuscitated them, the relief and the excitement you’d feel, it would be exhilarating. Making love, seeing the person you’re destined to be with, lying underneath you, looking at you like you’re the only person who matters in this world. That’s what makes being alive worth it, not completing a task or solving a problem.”
He held Delphine’s face in his hands and kissed her gently. She showed no emotion and didn't kiss him back. “I know it is probably too late for me, mon amour, but I hope someday you find someone who makes you feel something, anything. Life really isn’t worth living without loving someone with your entire being.”
Delphine looked at him with curiosity and brought a hand up to his cheek, feeling the rough stubble under her thumb. In another life, she probably could have loved him, but it wasn’t the right time.
“Let’s do it,” Delphine says suddenly. Cosima turns her attention toward the blonde. “Let’s get married.”
“Really?” Cosima asks with a wide grin.
“Oui, really,” she replies, returning the smile. Cosima makes a high-pitched noise and kisses Delphine with her whole heart, pulling her close and practically causing her to fall out of her chair. Delphine returns the kiss and Felix stumbles over and wolf whistles at the two of them.
“Hey, you two, save it for the wedding night.”
Cosima snorts. “That’s only for the bride and groom... or bride and bride, or groom and groom, person and person? Whatever the case may be.”
Felix finishes his drink in one gulp. “Oh, please, you’re going to tell me other couples don’t want to have a good shag after a wedding? If anything, it probably makes people want to even more, because they see how dreadfully happy the married couple is and they want in on that.” Another man walks by and gives Felix the “sex eyes,” as he calls them. “Excuse me, ladies, but I may have a wedding shag of my own.”
Cosima and Delphine laugh and shake their heads. Their hands are clasped together, laying on top of the table. When it’s time to throw the bouquet, Cosima tries to get Delphine to go out with her, but Delphine politely declines, as she thinks it’s one of the more ridiculous wedding traditions. Luckily, Kira pulls Cosima out into the middle of the dance floor with her. Krystal grins at all of the women standing in front of her and waves. She turns around and tosses the bouquet into the air and it goes flying backwards right into Cosima’s hands. Everyone cheers for her and she looks over to Delphine, who’s smiling and she feels a tear fall down her cheek. Confused, she wipes it away and wonders why she’s crying if she isn’t sad or upset.
“I hope those are happy tears,” Cosima says as she sits back down, tossing the bouquet onto the table.
“I think they are. I don’t feel sad. I’m actually quite happy.”
Cosima looks at her and kisses Delphine’s cheek. “Then they’re happy tears. I love you so much,” she whispers.
“Moi aussi, mon amour,” Delphine replies, feeling that love deep within her bones.