Slowly and deliberately Delphine paced the length of the living room. She was worried. Lately, she was always worried, and today it was much worse than usual. If only she could go out there and look for the clone herself. Delphine checked her phone again; Krystal still had not read her text messages or reacted to her calls. With a frustrated groan, Delphine slid the phone back in her pocket.
She wandered around the empty house, trailing her fingertips along the walls. Every day Delphine felt a little lonelier, especially when Krystal was at work, out with friends, or working on her investigations. During the evenings, when Krystal was home, Delphine would feel a little less isolated. At those times she had somebody to listen to. Because Delphine hardly ever spoke, she just had very little to say that would not further endanger the clone. So Delphine listened, and nodded, giving short answers whenever necessary.
Seeing the clone’s face every day felt like a bullet to the chest, and if anybody knew how that felt it was Delphine. The constant reminder of Cosima haunted Delphine everywhere she went. She wanted to return to the dreadlocked scientist more than anything. Delphine had said goodbye to Cosima two months ago in front of the soap store, knowing that both their lives would be in danger if they stayed together any longer.
To keep Cosima safe, Delphine had run away. Getting shot in the process had not been part of that plan. In her weakened state after having been shot, she had been taken care of by Krystal. Now Delphine was stuck halfway, having lost most of her data and with very little useful to do.
Staying with Krystal for this long was not ideal; it put Delphine in a strange and completely dependent situation. Krystal was the type of person Delphine would normally not befriend. Yet somehow, she had found the naïve clone a refreshing change of pace. Krystal was a never-ending source of kindness and compassion, nothing like most of the cold calculated academics Delphine was so used to.
Delphine peeked into the kitchen. It was very white; with brightly coloured objects and ornaments littered all over the place in a way that Krystal probably thought was tasteful. Delphine did not really agree with her, but she was quickly warming up to the cheerful home. She wandered further into the room, turning the light on as she went. The clock over the kitchen table showed almost eleven in the evening.
Chewing her bottom lip, Delphine checked her phone again. Krystal always let Delphine know how she was doing during the day. The poor clone was paranoid, and was afraid of being abducted again. Even though Delphine knew that that was a significant possibility, if it did happen, it would not happen for the reasons Krystal was expecting.
Aimlessly, Delphine circled the kitchen. She opened a few cupboards, picked up a cup to make some tea, and forgot to turn the kettle on. Delphine lifted the lid of one of the pans still on the cold stove. Earlier tonight she had saved some dinner for Krystal, but by now she probably should transfer it to the fridge before it went bad.
While she was searching for something to put the food in, Delphine heard a key in the front door.
“Delphine?” Krystal shouted, slamming the door closed behind her. “Delphine!”
Delphine dropped what she was doing and quickly made her way to the front door. “Krystal, I am over here,” she said loudly.
Pulling her coat off, Krystal was still standing in the hallway when Delphine could finally see her. The usually so perfect hair of the beautician was tousled, it seemed as if her eyeliner was smudged, and Delphine was almost certain that she saw a broken nail on Krystal’s left hand. Even after living with Krystal for two months, Delphine had never seen her in such a state before; Krystal always looked immaculately made-up, whether she just woke up, had gotten out of the shower, or got home from the gym.
“What happened?” Delphine asked. “Krystal, are you all right?” She tried to have a closer look at Krystal, but the dishevelled clone waved her away.
“No, no, no I’m not,” she said. She pushed her way past Delphine into her living room and sank down on the couch. “Oh my God, Delphine. That was sooo scary,” she said. Her hands were shaking; she leaned with her elbows on her knees and breathed heavily.
Delphine sat down next to Krystal, and softly laid a hand on her shoulder. “What happened, Krystal?” The beautician often exaggerated, and was constantly scared of being kidnapped again after what had happened to her with the two Castor clones. Of course Krystal was convinced of an entirely different complot, but she was scared either way. “Calm down. Take a deep breath, please,” Delphine said, looking at Krystal. Something had happened; Krystal looked absolutely frightened. “I am going to get you a glass of water, stay here.”
When Delphine returned with a glass of water, Krystal seemed to have calmed down a little. She took a sip of water and ran her hand through her hair. “Thank you, I needed that.”
Delphine nodded, she was sitting on the edge of the coffee table in front of Krystal. Now that the she was a little more collected, Delphine took Krystal’s hands in her own. “Krystal, what happened today?” she asked for a third time.
“I totally got abducted again,” Krystal said, looking up at Delphine. “It was, like, the scariest moment of my life.”
Delphine’s mouth dropped, she had not expected that. “What?” She scooted a little closer to the edge of the table, focused entirely on Krystal.
“I went to BrightBorn, for my investigation, you know?” Krystal waved her pink notebook at Delphine. In it the clone had been keeping track of her investigation. Her golden handbag was sitting on the couch next to her, and her things were littered around it. Delphine noticed an extraordinary amount of cosmetic products.
“BrightBorn?” Delphine had never heard of this name. That was good, at least Krystal was searching in the wrong direction, she would not find out the truth anytime soon. That at least would keep her safe, hopefully.
“Yeah, they pretend to be a fertility clinic, but they are totally stem-cell testing,” Krystal explained to Delphine.
“Right, of course,” Delphine nodded.
“And when I was, like snooping for clues, this masseur guy caught me. So I pretended I wanted a massage,” Krystal told Delphine what had happened. “And he totally fell for it, and then he suddenly knew my name, but I had never told him my name.”
Delphine nodded. Krystal was rambling and stumbling over her words, but the French woman had had plenty of time to get used to Krystal’s way of speaking English. Saying nothing, Delphine waited for Krystal to continue her story.
Suddenly Krystal blurted out, “Oh my God, he knew your name too!”
“What?” Delphine was sure she did not know any masseurs, and certainly not one that worked at a fertility clinic. “Who was he?”
“Oh, I forgot his name because of everything else that happened.” Krystal thought for a moment, “Sorry.”
“That is okay,” Delphine said. She would ask again later, first she needed to know what had happened next. She gently squeezed Krystal’s hands in her own. “Please continue,” she encouraged the clone.
Krystal nodded her head, leaning closer to Delphine. “So I ran away, right. And this lady guard was waiting in the hallway, and she grabbed me. She was really strong, and then she dragged me to this room, and then locked me in there.”
“And then suddenly ten minutes later, they apologized and, like, kicked me out,” Krystal said.
“Just like that?”
“Yes, just like that. But that isn’t even the worst part!” Krystal leaned even closer, “One of those creepy twins that abducted me was there. It is all connected!”
“Hmm,” Delphine mumbled. She had no idea how to react to that. She knew that the two Castor clones that had tried and failed to rape Krystal were both dead, like most of their brothers. So this had to be another one. Delphine also was not sure where or how this fertility clinic was connected to the rest of Leda and Castor. She had hoped that Krystal’s absurd theory would keep her safe, and she was looking in the wrong direction. But even as her theory on stem cells in cosmetics was far from what was really going on, Krystal was closing in on some dangerous information. And if Castor was there, Krystal was getting too close to the truth. Delphine had to put an end to this crazy investigation, for Krystal’s own safety.
“Maybe you should drop it,” Delphine carefully suggested. “These people are clearly dangerous, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Just leave it to the police, you might really get hurt next time.”
Krystal did not even hesitate. “Yeah, they are literally after me now. They know my name and everything.” She let out a shaky breath and leaned back into the couch cushions, her notebook still in her lap.
“Exactly,” Delphine said, letting go of Krystal’s hands.
“Yeah,” Krystal said.
The next day, Krystal had gone to work with the solemn promise to Delphine that she would not get herself in more dangerous situations. Delphine had been reluctant to let Krystal go, but she did not have much of a choice. They could not both hide out in this home, and never go out again.
Delphine was working her way through a pile of papers in the hope she might be able to find something about this maggot she still had hidden in her bag. For some strange reason it was still alive, even after having been stuck in a plastic phial for two months without nutrition, water, or oxygen. Delphine was at a dead end, with the worm, with a cure for the Leda clones. Without anything but her laptop and the data she had on it, she would not be of a lot of help to Cosima and her sisters.
When Krystal came home much earlier than usual, Delphine still had her work spread out. Before Krystal reached the kitchen, the scientist laid the non-sense papers on top, so that Krystal would not see what Delphine really had been working on. She closed a few tabs, and opened another one that was just as uninformative as the paper on the table.
Delphine finished just in time, and looked busy with something completely different when Krystal entered the kitchen.
“Hey,” Delphine said.
“Hello, you’re still busy,” Krystal remarked. She sank down in the chair opposed to Delphine. “I did what you told me, I went to the police to ask for, like protective custody,” Krystal said.
“Huh?” Delphine had not been expecting this, the clone looked so calm. “I never- I never said that!”
“Yes you did,” Krystal insisted. “You said that these people are dangerous and that I should go to the police.”
“I, I did not mean that.”
Krystal shrugged, not impressed with Delphine’s protest. “Anyway, they so did not believe me. They thought I was crazy, like pretty much everybody else.”
“Krystal, I don’t think you’re crazy,” Delphine said, and smiled at her.
“Yeah, you are the only person,” Krystal mumbled. “Sometimes even I think I’m totally crazy.”
Delphine bit her lip. She wanted to tell Krystal the truth, but it would tear Krystal’s world apart. There would be no going back to her innocent life, if the clone knew what she really was.
Krystal did not notice Delphine’s inner turmoil. She continued with her story, “There was this one detective who did seem to believe me. I told him everything, and,”
Delphine interrupted her, “What was his name?”
“Uhm, Detective Ball, or something like that.”
“Ball?” Delphine asked. She thought for a moment and said, “Do you mean Bell, Arthur Bell?”
“Yeah, could be. He said he knew you. That you are, like friends.”
“I, uhm. Yes, I know of him,” Delphine hesitantly said. She had never met Arthur, but both Cosima and Sarah had mentioned him. “What did you tell him?”
“Well, he and this other detective-,”
Again, Delphine interrupted Krystal, “Wait, there was another detective?”
“Yes, no. I don’t know. I knew this guy; he had stolen my wallet a while ago in the salon. He said he was investigating something then, he was undercover. Stuff like that. I don’t remember his name,” Krystal rambled.
Delphine sighed, if only Krystal was a bit better at remembering names. Arthur could be trusted, but Delphine was not so sure about the rest his colleagues. “What did he look like? Can you describe him?”
“Uhm, he looked like that one detective from England. He spoke with an accent too, but he said he was Scottish. It was really confusing, ok?”
This did not make sense to Delphine, but she nodded anyway. “Bien. What did you say about me?” she carefully asked Krystal.
“Oh, I did not tell them much. Like you asked. I only said I saw you get shot, and that I ran away. Because you asked me to not let anybody know you were alive, right? That they are after you too,” she said, looking around her kitchen. “I totally understand what that feels like, you know?”
Delphine nodded. She was not sure what Cosima thought about Delphine’s disappearance, but by now Arthur must have told Cosima that Delphine had gotten shot. The mere thought of what that news must feel like to Cosima broke Delphine’s heart. Maybe it was better this way. Now the clone would be able to move on, and nobody would come looking for Delphine.
“Those detectives were really nice. They said they were working on the same investigation as me, they were super happy with the info I gave them,” Krystal said proudly. “And they said I should just be safe, and they gave me this phone to call them if I need.” She pulled a purple phone out of her purse, handing it to Delphine. “They were shocked, you know, when they found out you are, like dead.”
“Yeah, totally sad.”
Delphine turned the phone on, and scrolled through the contacts. As she had expected, it was a clone-phone like Cosima and Sarah had had. She knew some of the other clones had them too, and Felix. And apparently Arthur as well. All their numbers were in there. Delphine stared at Cosima’s name, her finger hovering over it.
Before Delphine could do something stupid, Krystal asked, “Everything all right?”
“Yes,” Delphine said. “Yes, thank you. And thank you for not telling them.”
“Sure, of course,” Krystal took the phone back. “They knew you were dead anyway, so you should not be sad about that.”
“Yeah, when I was leaving, the Scottish detective got a call, and I overhead all of it,” Krystal said. “Somebody told him that you’re dead, and somebody else is dead too. Uhm, Kendall. What kind of name is that?” She looked at Delphine, waiting briefly for an answer, and, when she did not receive it, she continued talking. “Anyway, he seemed super upset about that. He told the other detective that somebody called and Cosima was a wreck, and that he had to go. He was really nice, and even though he was in a hurry and everything; he still gave me a ride home. I am pretty sure he cried...”
Delphine stared at her, shocked beyond words. She tried to comprehend what this meant, for Cosima, for the clones. If the original was gone, and they did not have a cure yet, it might be the end of Cosima.
“Is that bad?” Krystal asked, seeing the shock written all over Delphine’s face. “Did you know that other person?”
“Yes, yes that is bad,” Delphine stammered. “What else did he say about Cosima?”
“Nothing, they suddenly were in a huge hurry,” Krystal said.
Before the first light of day, Delphine quietly gathered her things. She only possessed a few clothes and toiletries. And of course the pile of paper and her laptop stacked in a neat pile on top of the kitchen table. After she had stuffed everything she needed in a bag, Delphine folded the sheets she had slept under and laid them back on the couch.
Krystal was still fast asleep; not a single sound came from the bedroom. Delphine wrote her a note by the light of her phone, and left it for the clone to find on the kitchen counter. She explained why she was leaving, and that, if Krystal ever needed her, she could always call her.
There was no way Delphine could express her gratitude for how Krystal saved her life, not even in a hundred page essay, so she simply ended her note with a “thank you for everything.”
Biting her lip, Delphine reread the note, and turned her phone off. She grabbed her bag and coat. There were still two holes in it and, even though it had been washed more than once, there was an ominous dark stain where she had bled out. Ever since Delphine had arrived here, she had not needed the coat, for she had not been outside the house once. The fear of being sighted, endangering Krystal and along with herself had kept Delphine locked inside.
A little over two months ago, during the night that had ruined Delphine’s coat, when Delphine had been lying on the asphalt floor of the parkade, struggling against the pain and trying to stop the bleeding, while at the same time trying to call for help, Krystal had shown up just in time.
The appearance of the beautician while Delphine was about to lose her consciousness had seemed funny at the time. It was not until much later that Delphine had understood that Krystal had returned to investigate the DYAD institute. Krystal had helped Delphine, who's last act before fainting was to beg the clone not to take her to a hospital, and not to tell anybody.
A day later, Delphine woke up in a bed with flowery pink covers. Apparently the beautician knew a lot of people, and had convinced a surgeon to help the French doctor. It had saved Delphine’s life, not only by literally saving it, but also by keeping her hidden from the world. Krystal had enthusiastically allowed Delphine to stay in her home, and tended to her when she was sick.
The delusional clone had become Delphine’s best friend, and even though Delphine was sad to leave her, Delphine put on her torn coat and softly opened the door.
In the fresh night air, Delphine took a deep breath and started walking. Delphine might have been able to live with Cosima thinking she was dead, if it would help her. But if the original was gone, Cosima would need Delphine more than ever before. And, if Delphine was honest, she did not think she could bear to be apart from her soulmate any longer.