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A Milestone; or, Rachel's Favorite Things

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                The door to Rachel’s apartment bangs open, announcing Cosima’s arrival as it often does now since Rachel gave her girlfriend a key two months ago. Rachel looks up, sipping her evening cup of tea, barely blinking at the harsh sound. She is not fazed, wasn’t to begin with, but especially now, after nearly a year of dating the biologist. Noise is a given in their lives. Some of it, like the door, Rachel could do without, but Cosima more than makes up for it at… other times.

                Normally, Cosima would shout ‘Babe!’ as she walked into the kitchen, tossing her bag down in the general area of where they agreed she would keep it (Rachel gave that battle up when she pressed the new key into Cosima’s hand). Normally, Cosima would grin and kiss her cheek, sitting adjacent to Rachel on a bar stool, and they would discuss their respective days at work. Normally, their conversation would turn to politics, news, dinner.

                Cosima storms into the kitchen, instead, quite literally throwing her bag toward the wall. She barely catches the strap, yanking the bag back before it can hit anything, cursing under her breath as she sets it down properly.

                Rachel hears the words ‘laptop’ and ‘bitch’ and ‘unbelievable’ along with an impressive line of profanities. Rachel waits, ever patient, as Cosima huffs her way to the liquor cabinet, unceremoniously pushing aside several bottles of very expensive wine, and instead pulling down a bottle of whiskey Cosima’s friend Sarah gave them a few weeks ago.

                “So glad we have this,” Cosima says over her shoulder, not yet approaching Rachel as she normally would.

                “Do you want me to ask what’s wrong?” Rachel asks. One of her favorite things about dating Cosima is the other woman’s acceptance that Rachel is how she is. Rachel is not a warm, bubbly person. Rachel does not rush to comfort, even when she wants to. Communication is their middle ground.

                Cosima grabs ice out of Rachel’s freezer, liberally filling two tumblers and setting them down in front of Rachel along with the bottle. She pauses, finally, and just looks at Rachel for a moment, her eyes roving, taking in all the businesswoman has to offer, visually speaking.

                Rachel puts her tea down and places her hand on Cosima’s where her fingers are drumming on the countertop. “Cosima?”

                “I’m going to tell you. Drink with me?” Cosima finally leans over, kissing Rachel quickly on the lips. She lingers, brushing her nose against Rachel’s cheek.

                “Before dinner?” Rachel tilts her head into Cosima’s touch, squeezing the biologist’s fingers.

                “Before, during, after – maybe all night. It was a really awful day,” Cosima kisses her again, on her cheek, on her nose (Rachel still pretends she hates it, but Cosima knows better), along her jaw.

                Rachel reaches for one glass with her free hand. “Tell me.”

                Cosima sits, scooting as close as she can, one hand wandering from Rachel’s arm to her torso and her thigh.

                One of Rachel’s favorite things about being with Cosima is how casually tactile she is. Rachel doubts she would enjoy the same trait exhibited by someone (anyone) else, but she likes it from Cosima.

                “We lost part of our funding and they had to let somebody go,” Cosima says, eyes downcast as she starting drinking, wincing at the strong taste. She hastens to add, “Not me, not me,” when she feels Rachel tense. “I barely knew the guy, actually, he’d just started a few weeks ago, but it has everyone on edge. We needed that funding. Without it, we may not make our deadline for publishing.”

                Rachel nods, more sympathetic than she would have been a few months ago. Racing for a deadline means late nights in the lab and Cosima collapsing into bed at dawn.

                “They just hired three new people, why let one go?” Rachel asks.

                Cosima grimaces again, refilling her glass. “Apparently those hiring decisions were contingent on the extra funding, so the other two are probably on the chopping block, too. It sucks.”

                Rachel sips her whiskey, enjoying the way it burns more than Cosima does, and considers options. “I have a dinner to attend next week, perhaps you should join me. It’s meant to be rather friendly, and the donor’s wife is a wildlife enthusiast.” Rachel enjoys the way Cosima’s face lights up at her suggestion. One of Rachel’s favorite things about Cosima is how ambitious she is, not only because Cosima tolerates Rachel’s own aspirations, but because that passion for their respective careers carries over into all aspects of their relationship.

                Cosima grins, her shoulders relax, and she kisses Rachel again, biting the blonde’s lower lip gently. “My girlfriend is so smart and so sneaky. Would they blink at $100,000?”

                “Perhaps,” Rachel admits, swallowing a groan and wrapping her hand the back of Cosima’s neck to pull her back in. “Ask about otters. I’ve heard they’re a family favorite.”

                “You’re the best, Rach,” Cosima smiles and then her eyes flick away. “I ran into Delphine today, too. That was fun.”

                Rachel tenses again and, immediately, Cosima’s hand is tracing soothing patterns just above her knee, under her skirt.

                “She and Paul called it quits a few months ago. She was so glad to see me – wanted to know how I was doing, if I liked it at the DYAD, if I was busy tonight.” Cosima’s pulls her lips back in a snarl, her face contorting in disgust. “She’s been brought in on a contract basis,” she waves a hand, “totally unrelated to my projects, but I will probably see her in the halls.” Cosima takes a gulp of her whiskey.

                Rachel does the same. Rachel has dreaded the thought of Delphine being single again. She is already relieved that Cosima is here, and that Cosima looks less than pleased about this conversation with her ex, but Rachel is Rachel. Rachel worries.

                Cosima looks up, silently watching as Rachel schools her emotions back far under her skin. Cosima notices the smallest twitch or sigh, Rachel has learned.

                It is not one of Rachel’s favorite things about life with Cosima that she cannot hide from her girlfriend on the rare occasion that she wants to.

                “You want to know what I told her?” Cosima grins crookedly, her anger at the day dissipating in favor of pressing her lips against Rachel’s jaw again.

                Rachel doesn’t reply, not even with a shake of her head, she simply waits. Rachel waits and pretends it isn’t with baited breath. Rachel likes Cosima far more than she expected to. Rachel hates the thought of Cosima leaving her, and not just because of the embarrassment.

                Cosima shifts on her stool, firmly placing her hand on Rachel’s thigh as she speaks into the blonde’s ear, “I told her I had a dinner date with my girlfriend, and when she acted surprised, I told her to go fuck herself because you’re the best and you’re mine and I like it that way.”

                Rachel turns her head and kisses Cosima until she can’t because breathing is a necessary function. She sucks in a ragged breath and lets Cosima pull her close again, until one of them almost elbows the whiskey bottle off the counter, and they stop to laugh.

                “I like it, too,” Rachel says, hiding her smile behind a newly full tumbler. “I wish I could have seen her face,” Rachel narrows her eyes gleefully.

                One of Rachel’s favorite things about being with Cosima is that they are both a touch vindictive.

                Cosima chuckles, “Oh, it was good. Ten bucks she runs the next time she sees me at work.”

                “Text Sarah, she might be stupid enough to take you up on that,” Rachel rolls her eyes, but her heart is still pounding.

                “Before we launch into news and dinner,” Cosima taps her hand on the counter, “there’s one more thing.”

                Rachel waits, a bit less patiently, because she loves kissing Cosima and would much rather resume that that talk, though she does enjoy the talking, too. “And that is?”

                “Well,” Cosima stretches the word, turning shy as Rachel knows she does when she drinks, “my lease is up in two months. My landlord wants to know if I’m going to renew. I wanted your input before I decided.” Cosima’s fingers trace the rim of her glass and she avoids Rachel’s eyes.

                Rachel smiles, gently, and leans over to kiss Cosima again, chastely. “Do you know what my favorite thing is about being with you?” She asks, eyes locked on her girlfriend’s.

                Cosima shakes her head, her own eyes drifting to Rachel’s smirk, inches away.

                “How in sync we are,” Rachel tells her, reaching around the bottle of whiskey to a stack of newspapers. She waits while Cosima processing the listings, while Cosima’s brief look of confusion gives way to a fanged smile.

                Cosima looks up, eyebrows high, “I really, really like you, Rachel.”

                “Likewise. Why don’t we order in and go through these?” She taps the pile of ritzy apartments for rent around the city. Rachel is confident they will be able to find something presentable, affordable, and compatible to both their tastes. Rachel is confident that she has never been so happy. Rachel is confident that they are both coming closer to using words that cannot be taken back, words that should not be said lightly. Rachel is quite a bit less alarmed than she expected to be about it. It’s actually sort of… nice.