You’ve never had a type, exactly. You’ve always known what you want when you see it, sure, and you’ve got a pretty good track record of getting what you want. This is different. You’ve never understood those people who are just in it for the chase. That’s not what you’re about. That’s not what this is. You hope you can make her understand that. You still want her. You still love her. You still need her, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough without Sarah and you can’t tell her why because you don’t know. You just know it’s true.
Before Delphine, before clones, you never put up with so much in a relationship. You never put up with lying, with betrayal, with mistakes – no matter how well-intentioned – that had seriously negative ramifications. You’ve always been a pretty good judge of character, even if you do have a tendency to leap before you look. That is the thrill you enjoy. The thrill of the unknown something you’ve been looking for. It’s not just about physical attraction, or intelligence, or common interests, or similar ways of displaying affection. It is those things, sure, but there’s always something left over – something missing or something present – that you don’t have a name for.
The answers to every question are out there, if you know how to look. You believe that. You believe it wholeheartedly. That’s why you’re a scientist. The pursuit of knowledge – where not knowing yet is just the beginning is what drives you, in all things. Finding the answers too late is always a fear, sure, but the question of timing has never been so real. It’s never hit so close to home. The question of home has never been an issue before, either.
Seven months is a long time in a new relationship. Seven months is the blink of an eye in a lifetime, even a human one. Seven months is long enough to begin to heal, to grow strong again, to grow closer with your sisters and your brothers and your nieces and your nephew and your brother-in-law. Your family. To grow closer to a freedom you didn’t even know you were lacking. To witness transformation. To transform. When Delphine arrives back in Toronto, so much has already changed. Delphine hurdles back into your life and while she doesn’t expect nothing to have changed, there’s just no way she can understand. There’s no reasonable expectation in any of this. Delphine loves you and you do love her, but in the time she’s been gone, Sarah’s been at your side.
Sarah has tucked you into bed each night, in blankets and in her arms, and kissed your sweaty forehead, and helped you pick hats to hide the absence of dreadlocks. Sarah has cooked for you. Sarah has subjected herself to cooking lessons from Alison for you. Sarah has cried with you, and for you, and because of you. Sarah’s been with you. Sarah has also been oblivious to the shite storm she’s incited in your heart.
No one knows. You think Alison has a clue, and she would, but you haven’t actually told anyone. You can’t. Everyone you could talk to, everyone involved, is, well, involved. Invested. You’ve considered talking to Scott, but you two don’t have that kind of friendship. You’ve considered Felix, but no; you’ve considered Art, but no; you’ve considered Donnie, even, but no. So, you talk to Delphine about it. You talk around it with Delphine, more accurately. She has no idea what you’re trying to say, but then again, neither do you.
I’m in love with Sarah, and with you, and Sarah has no idea, and I don’t want to lose you, but –
Even in your mind, the explanation is incomplete. For the first time in your adult life, you don’t know what you want. That un-nameable something is ever elusive, but this is different. You tried to avoid this; to bury the realization under blankets and rationalization. Of course you love Sarah. Sarah’s your friend. Of course you love Sarah. Sarah takes care of you. Of course you love Sarah. Sarah’s your sister, except she’s not. She’s not your sister like Alison is, or Helena; like Tony and Felix are your brothers. Kira’s your niece, sure, but Sarah’s not your sister. It’s so hard to describe, but that’s just not how you feel about her. You wish it was, because then this wouldn’t be happening, but it is.
You know you have to bite the bullet. You have to try to explain what you’re feeling, because it feels dishonest and disloyal and wrong, feeling the way you do about Sarah and kissing Delphine. It feels wrong the way you think about kissing Sarah when you’re so madly, deeply, truly in love with Delphine. You’re terrified of her reaction, absolutely, but you do want her to know. You want her to know and you want her to help you figure out what to do. Sometimes you daydream about working out an arrangement, but that’s absurd because Sarah doesn’t even know. Sarah thinks of you as her sister. You know she does. You love that she cares about you, even if you’re not measuring it on the same scale, and you’re not sure you need her to know. You do need Delphine to know, but you can’t find the words.
The walls of Delphine’s hotel room are bare; the furnishings are standard and sparse and boring. It occurs to you that you’ve never seen where Delphine lives. Since you both came to Toronto you’ve been staying with Sarah, at Felix’s; and with Sarah, at Mrs. S’ place. Delphine lived in a DYAD apartment, before Frankfurt, and presumably during Frankfurt, and now she’s in a hotel. Delphine looks at you with love in her eyes and holds you with love in her every motion, but there’s no sense of home. She’ll follow you anywhere, you’re past doubting it. Doubting her. You know she wants to build a home with you. In the time she’s been gone though, in the time you’ve been separated, you’ve found a home. You’ve found a home and a family you aren’t prepared to leave.
“Hey, Delphine?” You begin. You start, finally, and hope the words you need will fall into place.
She’s looking at you, has been, when you catch her eye. She looks worried and you want to cry. Her shoulders are tense and her eyes are sad. She’s bracing for a reprimand, a dismissal. She’s bracing for you to tell her No, but that’s not what this is.
“I’m glad you’re back,” you tell her, leaning forward to put your hand on her knee.
She smiles, instinctively, at your touch, and your heart soars.
“Me, too, Cherie.” She hesitates. “You said things had changed, while I was away,” Delphine says, fingers aimlessly tracing her wine glass, no longer looking at you.
“Things have changed, but how I feel about you hasn’t.” You try to be clear. You try to leave no room for misinterpretation. “I love you, Delphine. That hasn’t changed.” That’s not what this is.
Her shoulders relax and she smiles and you’re in love all over again. Delphine puts her hand on yours and it feels right in a way no one else has, but still….
“I do need to explain something though, and I – I have no idea how.” You look away, grimacing, shaking your head.
Delphine’s eyes follow your movement, visually inspecting your new growth of hair. She nods encouragingly, plainly at your mercy. She knows as well as you do that, at this point, she would follow you to the ends of the earth.
You wonder if this qualifies.
“Is there…” She stumbles and you want to throw something, hard. “Is there someone else?” Delphine’s voice cracks and you want this to stop.
“Not exactly,” you smile, crookedly, trying to chuckle at her inevitable confusion.
“I don’t understand,” she eventually says.
Now you laugh, genuinely. “Neither do I, babe.” You take a deep breath, because you can, because you need to, but mostly because you can. “I’m in love with Sarah.”
Delphine goes tense, and then limp, and tense again. Her body straightens and curls while her eyes widen and narrow, her mouth opens and closes. Her attempts to process your confession are obvious. She doesn’t need to tell you again that she doesn’t understand. To her credit, she doesn’t try to tell you otherwise. She doesn’t try to talk you out of it. She trusts that you know what’s in your heart, even when this is so very strange.
“Yeah,” you mutter, the truth sour in your mouth. “She doesn’t know.” You look up, brushing your hand over your face and your hair, fighting back tears. “I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea what to do or what I want to do.”
She drains her glass and sets it aside. “Do you plan to tell her?”
You shake your head. You shrug.
“Where – I want to ask where that leaves us, but you don’t know, do you?” Delphine, to her credit, does know you pretty well by now. She must know this is tearing you up inside.
You think she does, when she reaches for your hand. You think she does, when she kisses your knuckles and wipes her eyes and smiles at you, sharing your discomfort and confusion.
You’ve never loved her so much. You’ve never needed her so much, and it seems like she knows that. Which just makes this more difficult.
“Do you want to talk about it, Cosima?” She tilts her head, puppy-like, and you want to kiss her.
You want to kiss her and forget, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of you. You shake your head again.
Delphine’s smile goes crooked, looking almost like yours and Sarah’s for a moment, “Do you want me to help you seduce her into our bed?” She looks strangely hopeful, even if her tone is joking.
You can’t help but laugh. Laughter brings tears, for both of you. You’re laughing and crying together, marveling at the insanity of your lives, and you stand from your chair. You collapse into her arms, her lap, and kiss her face.
Her arms are around you and you’re kissing desperately, making up for seven months apart and the very uncertain prospects of your future together.
“You were kidding, right?” You ask her, later. “About seducing Sarah?”
Delphine doesn’t answer you right away. She looks at you for a long time, long enough that you start to feel self-conscious, and tug the blankets higher. Without looking away, she reaches out and tugs them down again. There are no more barriers between you two. That’s not what this is, remarkably.
“I was, but,” she shrugs, “if that is what it takes to – to be with you, to make you happy,” another shrug, “then, perhaps not.” Delphine runs her fingers through your hair, “You did tell me I had to love all of you,” she smiles, her eyes still dark and hooded.
You blush, pulling her hand down so you can kiss her palm. “That wasn’t really what I meant,” you say against her skin, but you don’t bother reacting as if the idea doesn’t thrill you.
“Cosima, I would do anything for you,” she pulls you close again, close against her warm, sweaty body.
“I know,” you nod, kissing her neck and letting your hands wander.
“Will you stay with me tonight?” She asks, but surely she knows the answer by now.
You sigh against her, “No. Sarah’s expecting me home.” There’s a world in that sentence and you wish it was a world that included Delphine. There’s a world here, in her arms, and you wish it included Sarah. You wish Sarah didn’t mean home unless Delphine did, too, but you’re not sure if that’s possible. You’re not sure if finding a way to make that true is what you’re meant to do here. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. The uncertainly won’t kill you, you’ve survived worse already, but it is awful.
“I understand,” Delphine whispers with her lips pressed lightly against your new curls.
You have to laugh again, “Do you?”
She laughs back, “Non, but we’ll figure it out.”
The certainty in her voice is reassuring. Maybe it will be okay. Maybe you can survive this.
What if and maybe are fast friends with you by now, and they make an almost pleasantchorus in your mind all the way home. Your mind spins with possibilities and eventualities and you begin to wonder how to broach the subject with Sarah. Your body hums at the thought, at Delphine’s peculiar acceptance, of all of you being somehow together. There’s a million other questions to consider, to weigh against this outlandish idea, sure, but Delphine’s with you now. It makes a world of difference. You feel lighter, even as your feet drag with a bone-deep exhaustion. You don’t exactly feel optimistic, or even quite excited, but there is curiosity where there had been dread. It is easier, somehow, to crawl into bed next to Sarah now, to let her sleepily wrap her arms around you, and to drift off with the taste of Delphine still on your lips. You don’t know yet what you’re going to do, no, but you like the unknown, so maybe this isn’t so bad after all.