Clubs & Parties
Cosima flopped lightly onto her bed, laying on her back and staring up at the ceiling. Absently, she poked at her nose. Good thing she had friends who knew how to make fake IDs. The entire day had been worth missing whatever small party had been planned, from the girl she'd charmed in the club into making out with her against the wall to her new piercing. Delphine's reaction to her hickey hadn't been planned, but certainly made it all the better. Serves her right, Cosima thought bitterly. She sighed at the loud knock on her door, but rolled off her bed to open it. She sighed again when she saw it was Delphine on the other side.
“What do you want?”
“You know, we bought you a cake and everything. You could have at least called to let us know you wouldn't be home. It's almost midnight!” Cosima shrugged.
“So, what?” she asked, challenging. Delphine bit her lip, and huffed.
“So, so you can't,” she said.
“Why, because you don't like it?”
“You don't get to tell me what to do, Delphine,” Cosima said softly. “You started this. This is what you wanted.”
“I didn't want you sneaking out and hooking up with whores!” Delphine said, much too loudly. She flushed angrily. Cosima snorted.
“Presumptuous much? I have college friends. I went out with them, if you really have to know, and since it was my birthday, I think I'm perfectly entitled to do whatever the hell I want.” She pushed on the door. “Get out of my room.” Face still red, Delphine reluctantly backed out. Cosima shut the door on her, and squeezed her eyes shut. Her chest constricted painfully. She forcibly pushed the feeling away, shaking her head as if that would actually clear her thoughts. It didn't, of course. Cosima sluggishly pulled her clothes off and fell back into bed. She waited for a moment, listening for another knock, or Tesla's pawing, but when nothing came she wrapped herself up in her blankets, and touched her nose again.
The house was quiet when she woke up the next day, and her nose was sore. Cosima groaned and slowly got up, shuffling to the door. She almost tripped over Tesla when she opened it, muffling a curse with her hand. Tesla yawned, and slowly stretched before moving out of her way. He followed her down the hall, only stopping when she shut the bathroom door. She peered at her nose in the mirror with blurry eyes. It was red, but no more so than it had been the night before. Cosima poked it experimentally, then gently cleaned it with warm water from the tap. Tesla butted her leg when she left the room.
“Not now,” she said. “Go bother Delphine, I have somewhere to be.” Tesla whined, and followed her, but when she shut him out of her room, she heard him go scratch at Delphine's door instead.
They passed each other on the stairs, Cosima dressed for her meeting and Delphine still in her pyjamas with Tesla at her heels. She could see a question lingering on the tip of Delphine's tongue, but Cosima was gone before she could decide to ask it. It was easier to breathe outside. Cosima sucked in lungfuls of fresh air before she could walk again, shivering lightly in the early morning chill. It wasn't a long walk, and if she'd been in a better mood, she would have taken Tesla along with her, but he was still too excitable for relaxed outings.
Jen was waiting on one of the benches in the park for her. She smiled when she spotted Cosima, and waved, and scooted over to make room for her to sit. Cosima complied with a smile of her own. Jen bent over to rummage around in her bag, coming up with a book in her hands. She handed it to Cosima.
“It's a bit messed up,” Jen said, “and there's a bunch of notes in it which you can completely disregard if you want to, but it's interesting. For a textbook.”
“Thanks,” Cosima replied. “Seriously.” Jen waved her off, and casually lit a cigarette. She offered the pack to Cosima, who shook her head.
“Right, right, only weed.” She gestured to Cosima's neck, blowing smoke out of her nose. “Good birthday, then?” Cosima nodded. “We're going out again tonight. If you wanna tag along, feel free. Jess is the designated driver, so we'll be sure you get home safe.” Cosima considered the offer as she ran her thumb along the pages of her new book. John wouldn't like it, but he'd stop caring the second she was home, Marie had been more worried about her daughter than Cosima, and Delphine...
“Yeah, sure,” she said.
“Cool,” Jen replied with a nod, getting to her feet. “I'll text you the place. See you at nine?” Cosima nodded.
Cosima had never pegged herself as the kind of person who liked clubbing. She'd always kept to herself, but maybe it was being in an environment outside of the bullshit that was high school that brought it out in her. Jen and her friends were waiting outside when Cosima got there, and welcomed her with shouts of greeting and happy smiles. It was no problem getting in.
“I'll be at the bar with Jess,” Jen said into her ear. “If you need to go outside, or leave, or anything like that, find us, okay? Oh, and don't take drinks from anyone.”
“I will,” Cosima replied, then slipped away and lost herself in the crowd. It was easier to forget about Delphine with people surrounding her, caught up in a sea of bobbing, weaving, grinding bodies. She felt almost purified by the sweat that gathered on her face and neck, and stained the top of her shirt. Here and there a person copped a feel, accidental or otherwise, but the touches did nothing more than make her feel like she was part of one, huge machine. When she broke for a drink, Jess grabbed her wrist and pulled her down so she could be heard over the music.
“That girl has been looking at you, Cos,” she said. Cosima gratefully threw back the water set in front of her and followed Jess' hand to a brunette down the bar. “Go get her.”
“Yeah, okay,” Cosima said, nodding. Jess patted her shoulder and gave her a light shove. Cosima squeezed through the stream of people going to and from the bar until she reached the brunette. “Hey,” she said, and grinned broadly. The girl looked up. “I'm Cosima.” She extended her hand. The girl took it.
“Bri,” she replied.
“Can I get you another drink?”
Bri left a rather impressive mark on the side of Cosima's throat that Jen made fun of the entire way home. Laughing, Cosima pushed off her wandering hands, elbowing her in the ribs until she relented with a chorus of okay's and slumped against the window. Cosima brushed her fingers over the bruise, and grinned.
“Cosima,” Jess said as they pulled up outside the house. “Wake her up before you get out.” Cosima shook Jen's shoulder until she shot upright, then with a wave and a series of goodbye's, slipped out of the car. She made sure to be extra quiet going inside, but there was no sign of her parents, Delphine, or Tesla. She was tired, and itchy with dried sweat, and her limbs felt heavy. She yawned on her way up the stairs to the bathroom, peeling off the clothes stuck to her body. The beat of hot water against her shoulders loosened some of the tension knotted in them.
Tesla was softly whining on the other side of Delphine's door when Cosima went past. Sighing quietly, she opened the door to let him out. Light flooded her face. She blinked as her eyes adjusted, and when she could see clearly, caught sight of Delphine curled up under her blankets. Her face was red. Cosima lingered in the doorway, watching, then quietly crossed the room to turn the lamp off. Tesla wound around her legs, then settled on the floor by the foot of her bed.
Cosima left her towels on the floor, and crawled into bed. The high from the night had worn off, and the longing pull in her chest returned. At her command, Tesla hopped up onto the bed. He awkwardly padded around her before settling on her other side with a soft huff. Cosima rolled over and buried her fingers in his fur.
Delphine and Scott had been spending more and more time together. Cosima hadn't noticed, too consumed with spending as much time as she could awayfrom the blonde, including skipping more school than she should have and spending many of her nights out of the house. She passed by them in the hall, standing off to the side and chatting happily. Delphine looked happier than Cosima had seen her in weeks, and completely oblivious to her presence. Cosima followed the stream of students, avoiding drawing attention to herself, even though the grin on Delphine's face made her stomach roll sickeningly.
She let them do the work during their lab, trying to block out the soft sound of Delphine's accent and Scott's stuttering replies. She used her phone to distract herself, texting Jen under the cover of the table. Her friend offered to pick her up after school and go get food, an offer that Cosima happily and quickly accepted. Delphine sent her a few curious glances from the other end of the table, but otherwise said nothing to her, keeping her attention focused solely on the work in front of her.
Jen was waiting, just like she had said. Cosima waved in greeting and pushed through a crowd of her peers to meet her.
“Hop on in,” she said, gesturing to her car. “Where do you wanna go?” Cosima shrugged, and fingered her seatbelt before locking it into place.
“Anywhere's fine,” she replied. Jen glanced over at her.
“You okay, Cos?” Cosima shrugged again.
“Do you wanna talk about it?” She shook her head. “Okay, then.” They were silent for a while, only the music from the radio filling the silence. “Eat in or take out?” Jen asked.
“Eat in,” Cosima replied. “The longer I'm out the better.” Jen stared at her for a moment before swinging the car into an empty parking space. She let Jen order for them both and found a table in a quiet corner towards the back. Jen distributed their food when she returned, and settled, sipping at her soda.
“How's that book going?” she asked.
“Really good, thanks,” Cosima replied with a smile. “It's fascinating.” Jen smiled.
“I'm glad you liked it.” Cosima nodded and hummed, her mouth full. “What are you running from, Cosima?” Jen asked after a moment. The question made her balk before she could catch herself, but she quickly smoothed her features out and raised a brow.
“What makes you think I'm running from anything?” Jen shrugged.
“Just a hunch.”
“I'm not,” Cosima said firmly. Jen popped a fry into her mouth.
“Well, if you ever want to talk about it, give me a ring, okay?”
Cosima considered it the entire way home. She wasn't running, she thought, poking at her nose ring. She was avoiding the things that were causing her pain. She was trying to deal with it and move on, but she certainly wasn't running. There was nothing to run from. It wasn't like she was scared shitless of anything. She hadn't made any life changing decisions. That had been Delphine. Cosima said goodbye to Jen and slowly walked up the path to the front door. She paused outside, sighing, feeling like there was a weight pushing down on her shoulders. Tesla's excited bark through the door prompted her to open it.
“Hey, Cosima!” Cosima frowned, confused. What was Scott doing there? And why was he with Delphine? And why were they laughing? Why was Delphine always laughing when Scott was around? Cosima had known him for years, he wasn't that funny. Tesla bounded happily over to her, jumping up and putting his paws against her stomach. Cosima gently pushed him away, and let him lick her hand affectionately. “We have some pizza, want some?” Cosima opened her mouth to reply, but her throat choked the words out.
“No, she managed to say, too harshly. She walked past the pair of them, hurrying up the stairs.
“What's wrong with her?” Scott asked.
“Nothing,” Cosima heard Delphine say, her voice low and sad, before Cosima shut her door.
She couldn't understand how Scott's jokes could make Delphine laugh, but the blonde could hardly stand to be in the same room as her, forget having a conversation. The knock on her door, loud and urgent, was annoying more than anything else. Cosima sighed loudly and slowly stood.
“Jesus,” she muttered when she opened the door, rolling her eyes. “What do you want?”
“Don't be so mean to Scott, Cosima,” Delphine said, frowning at her. “He isn't doing anything wrong. He's my friend, and he came over to help me study, since you haven't been paying enough attention in class to do so. Not that you would be willing anyway.” She turned on her heel, but before she walked back down the stairs, said, “He's your friend, too.” Cosima scowled. What was Delphine playing at? What was the point in telling her that Scott was only a friend? Unless, she thought, slowly shutting her door, unless she still has feelings for me? Her chest clenched. Delphine's feelings hardly mattered, not when she was so keen to ignore their existence. She must have just wanted to clear the air to keep Cosima from being hurt jumping to conclusions. But he makes her laugh. I don't make her laugh any more. What if she likes him?
Her mind whirred, asking the same questions over and over again. She didn't sleep, save for a brief period of dozing where she was abruptly brought back into consciousness by images of Scott with his hands and lips all over Delphine. It was more than enough to make her want to puke, and only deep lungfuls of cool morning air with her face pressed to the window screen stopped her from doing so. She couldn't stop from yawning, watching as the sun brightened her room bit by bit until her alarm went off and she slammed the button to stop the obnoxious buzzing.
Delphine would have been awake already, and had her shower. Or she should have been, but Cosima hadn't heard any movement from her room. Maybe she'd slept in. Cosima quietly left her room. Maybe she'd get a chance to shower first. She pulled her door shut, and turned, only to come face to face with Delphine emerging from her own room. Cosima froze, staring at her. Her eyes flickered from Delphine's down to her lips and back again. Her dream flashed before her eyes. Tesla's bark startled her back into the present. He darted around Delphine's legs, nearly bowling Cosima over with the force he exhibited, standing up to put his paws on Cosima's chest. She braced herself against the wall.
“Tesla!” she said sharply before she could stop herself. “Get down! Now!” Tesla dropped away, whining, and slunk away to stand behind Delphine.
“Do not yell at him, Cosima!” Delphine shouted. “He's just happy you're awake! You can be mean to me, and to Scott, and to your father, but you will not yell at our dog when he is excited to see you!” Cosima blinked, and gaped. “You are the one who made him sleep with me last night because you refused to open your door when he wanted in, so don't you dare scold him for being happy.” She shoved past. Tesla followed, keeping close to her heels. Cosima drew in a shuddery breath, her eyes pricking. Screw having a shower, she thought, and pushed back into her room. Her phone dinged not long after, when she was sat on her bed with Delphine's angry voice a loud echo rebounding off the inside of her skull.
Hey there's a party tonight. Wanna come? Cosima stared at it.
Yes. Pick me up?
See you at 7 =)
It wasn't the first party she'd been to, but like she'd thought she would be with clubs, she'd never really found them all that interesting. She'd been excited at first, in a house full of people she didn't know, with alcohol and weed, but now she couldn't find Jen or Jess, and she was a bit drunk, but not high enough, and she'd sold her last joint to a group of guys for twenty bucks. Aimlessly, she wandered around, sipping at the drink that she'd been cradling against her chest for the past ten minutes, trying to find where her friends had gone. No one paid her any attention. She was stopped by a blonde, tall and much drunker than Cosima was, slurring so badly that Cosima could only understand half of what she was saying.
“So, do you wanna make out?”
“Your friends, they said you're into girls?”
“I-uh...” Cosima faked an apologetic smile. “Actually, I need to go.” Someone bumped into her during her escape, and spilled beer on her top with a slurred apology. Cosima rolled her eyes, and set her drink down. It was in the bathroom that she found Jen and Jess, Jen kneeling over the toilet with Jess holding her hair back. She smiled apologetically at Cosima.
“Sorry,” she said. “She had too much. What happened to your shirt?”
“Someone spilled their drink,” Cosima said absently, and sighed. “It's fine, I'll wash it when I get home.” She left, closing the door on the sounds of Jen's retching, and rubbed at her eyes. She smelled like beer and pot and cigarette smoke, and she had a test to be studying for. Cosima trod heavily back downstairs, pausing at the base of the staircase. What am I doing here? My friends are sick, those two are basically fucking, and those two are getting food everywhere. She rummaged in her pockets for her cash, and counted it. At least no one had picked her pocket, and thanks to those frat boys, she had more than enough money to get the bus back home.
She was the only one at the stop, huddled up on the bench and turning her phone in her hands. It was still chilly, and she was tired, and lonely, and badly needed the shower she'd ignored that morning. She was relieved when the bus finally arrived, carrying few passengers. The quiet was welcome compared to the thumping of shitty music in her ears. Cosima curled up in her seat and closed her eyes, resting her head against the window.
Tesla was sitting just inside the door when she sneaked in, quietly shutting and locking it behind her. He butted her leg. Cosima dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. He sighed, but didn't move until Cosima let him go and stood back up, then followed her into the living room and stretched out by her feet when she sunk onto the sofa. She stared at the TV, and kicked her shoes off so she could rub Tesla's shoulder with her foot. Her head filled with static. A creak on the stairs pulled her attention, and a glance at the clock revealed that she'd been sat there for over an hour. Tesla had fallen asleep, and was snoring softly.
“Cosima?” Delphine asked, slowly moving towards her with her arms wrapped around her chest. “Are you okay?”
“No,” Cosima sighed. “Finals are next week, and I haven't studied at all. I don't even know what's going on because I haven't been paying attention in class, and if I don't do well it's going to drop my grades down, and my GPA with it.” Delphine paused, biting her lip. She raked a hand through her hair.
“Do you want to borrow my notes?” she finally asked. Cosima closed her eyes and slouched against the sofa.
“Okay.” The floor groaned softly under her weight as she turned. “Wait,” Cosima said, eyes flashing back open. “Delphine.” The blonde spun around.
“I'm sorry,” Cosima said. Delphine hesitated, then smiled. It warmed Cosima's chest, even though it didn't quite reach her eyes.
“Okay,” she replied. “You should change. I can smell you from here.” Cosima breathed out a laugh, and got up to follow Delphine up the stairs.