Cosima started school, and saw Delphine less and less between both of their classes and her own work, but she refused to let Delphine take time off. Their financial aid came though, and for a while, things were easier, but then Tesla got sick and the vet bill ate at their savings. Cosima hardly slept, between a full course load and all the work for it, the emails from her job, and the second one that she picked up when money was tight after a particularly cold end to the winter. Delphine could see the lines of tiredness forming around her eyes, but she always had a smile for Delphine whenever she walked in the room. There were days when they both fell asleep on top of the covers, too tired to even undress, and days where all they had for dinner was cheap box meals that they had to split between the two of them because Cosima's check didn't come through for another few days.
It was odd, when Cosima finally decided she wanted dreadlocks, but she didn't look any less beautiful for them, and if it made her happy, Delphine didn't care. Besides, it was just as fun to pull on them during sex as it had been before, and if anything Cosima seemed to enjoy it even more. Delphine would twirl them around her fingers, or tug on one when Cosima was being particularly annoying. She decided that she loved the change.
She was surprised it took them as long to properly explode at each other as it did. They were late on the rent, and even across the room Delphine could feel the tension and irritation rolling off of Cosima and crashing into her like waves. She jumped when Cosima violently threw down the pen she was holding and pushed her fingers into her brow with a frustrated sigh.
“We don't have anything we can cut, Delphine,” she said tightly, “and I can't get any more hours. We're going to be late.”
“It's fine,” Delphine said. “As long as we pay it, it's fine. A week won't hurt. We can pay part now and the rest when you get paid again.”
“We can only be late on the rent so many times before we're in the shit, Delphine,” Cosima said sharply. She pushed her glasses on top of her head. “If you'd let us stay at the beach house this wouldn't be a problem.” Delphine scowled, Cosima's annoyance bleeding into her mind.
“You know why I didn't want to.”
“Yeah, and I'm saying that if you'd just grow the fuck up we could have a nice, rent-free place to stay.”
“You know why,” Delphine repeated through clenched teeth.
“He's the reason I'm still here, Delphine,” Cosima said. Her eyes were sharp. “He's the reason we're here in the first place. You can't just pretend otherwise.”
“He has done nothing for me for my entire life, Cosima! How can you expect me to accept anything more than what we absolutely need from him!? We are getting along just fine.”
“We can't pay the fucking rent, Delphine!” Cosima shouted. “Jesus, you can be so fucking irritating sometimes!” She pushed abruptly to her feet and stalked into the bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her.
And hour later she slunk back out, her posture screaming the apology she didn't say, and curled up on the sofa next to Delphine. She pulled one of her hands away from her laptop and held it firmly. Her head turned, pressing kisses to the side of Delphine's neck and along her jaw before finding her mouth. Her hands tugged at Delphine's clothes. It meant more than any words ever could.
Delphine picked up an evening class to speed up her masters. Cosima started to try and stay awake to greet her when she got back, even though it wasn't until ten at the earliest. One night she came home to find both her and Tesla passed out on the bed. Delphine smiled tiredly and sighed, unwrapping her scarf from around her neck. She moved the book next to Cosima's head onto the table, and gently shook her shoulder until she grumbled and blinked her eyes open.
“Hey,” she breathed when her gaze focused. “I'm sorry, I fell asleep didn't I.”
“It's okay, my love,” Delphine said, sitting on the edge of the bed. Cosima nudged her glasses up with a knuckle and rubbed at her eyes.
“How was class?”
“Good. I passed my exam.” Cosima smiled sleepily.
“That's great, babe.” Delphine leaned down and pressed a kiss to her brow.
“I'll come to bed in a few minutes,” she said. “Tesla, down.” Tesla yawned and removed himself from his place lying on Cosima's legs and curled up on his rug at the foot of the bed. In the time it took for Delphine to get ready for the night, both girl and dog had already fallen back asleep. Delphine smiled and lifted Cosima's glasses off her face before shutting off the lamp and crawling into bed, wrapping the brunette up in her arms.
Cosima had a weekend off, but Delphine's essays and approaching exam meant that time that would normally have been devoted to actually spending time together had her huddled in the corner surrounded by books and bent over her computer. Cosima took it in stride, but Delphine could feel the annoyance lurking under her skin. It wasn't at Delphine; it hardly ever was.
“I'll take Tesla out,” she said. Delphine glanced up from her computer and frowned, then looked behind her out the window.
“Cosima, it's pouring.”
“A little water isn't going to kill us,” Cosima replied with a shrug, already clipping on Tesla's leash. Her tone booked no room for arguing. Delphine sighed and went back to her work. The door shut hard enough to rattle the windows. Delphine leaned back against the wall and rubbed at the corners of her eyes with her thumb and forefinger.
It was a good half hour before Delphine heard the door open again, and looked up to see Cosima and Tesla absolutely drenched. She could hear the brunette's teeth clattering from across the room, even over Tesla's happy pants, but she had a wider grin on her face than Delphine had seen in months. With a violent shudder, Cosima shut the door behind her.
“Cosima!” Delphine scolded lightly, scrambling to her feet and hurrying her and the dog into the bathroom.
“H-he was ha-having a lot of f-f-fun jumping in p-puddles,” Cosima stuttered. Delphine shut the door to keep Tesla from getting out and pushed the brunette's coat off her shoulders, then began to peel at the layers beneath. “S-s-omeone's desperate,” Cosima joked. Delphine rolled her eyes, dumping Cosima's wet clothes in a pile to deal with later, and wrapped their biggest towel around her.
“No!” Delphine said just as Tesla went to shake. He cocked his head at her, tail drooping. “Don't look at me like that.” She sat Cosima on the toilet seat and snatched another towel to ruffle Tesla's fur dry.
“W-worth it,” Cosima said, curling up.
Cosima started taking Tesla for a jog every morning, and after a few days started to bring Delphine a coffee. She almost always managed to catch her just as they were getting home and she was leaving for class, handing her her drink with a kiss on her cheek or the corner of her lips.
“You're amazing,” Delphine said. “I love you.” She ruffled Tesla's ears, and kissed the top of his head. “And you.”
“Have fun at school,” Cosima said, wiping sweat off her brow. “Work hard. Make good choices.”
“I will, I love you, bye.”
“Bye,” Cosima waved, and they parted.
One day, it escalated into something more. Cosima's lips glanced off of hers, and before Delphine could process what was happening, the kiss had deepened and the wood of the door frame was pressing harshly into the middle of Delphine's back.
“You're going to be late,” Cosima muttered, voice husky.
“I don't care,” Delphine replied, and groaned as Cosima's hand slid into her hair and tugged. She dragged her inside, leaving Tesla in the living room and pulling a giggling Cosima into their bedroom. She ended up missing her lecture, but she would have done it a thousand times over for the feeling of Cosima's hot skin against hers in the quiet that followed.
“Have you ever thought about having kids?” Cosima asked some time later, her head nestled against Delphine's chest. The blonde stroked the wisps of hair at the nape of Cosima's neck.
“I have been meaning to ask you the same,” she replied. Cosima rolled away, and propped herself up on one elbow to look down at her.
“I know we can't afford it now,” she said, finding one of Delphine's hands and lacing their fingers together with a gentle kiss pressed to her knuckle. “One day, though... when things are easier. When we have the means. Would you want to? With me?” Delphine pulled her down for a heated kiss that started a new ache between Cosima's legs.
“Of course I would,” the blonde whispered against her lips, with a firm tug to her hair.
Cosima's position at her second job was cut, and suddenly their income had drastically lessened. She was a mess when she got home, apologizing over and over again, burying herself in Delphine's arms.
“No, no,” Delphine cooed, kissing the side of her head. “It's not your fault, chérie. You'll find something else.”
“That was our main source of money, Delphine!” Cosima said. She pulled away, stalking across the room to the window and wrapping her arms around her chest.
“It doesn't matter, we'll find you something.”
“I don't want you to have to go back to your father to do that!” She sighed and pushed her glasses out of the way to rub at her eyes.
“What are we going to do, then, Cosima?” Delphine asked, shrugging her arms. “We can only minimize our expenses so much.” Cosima was silent for a long while.
“I won't do my doctorate,” she finally said, her voice so quiet Delphine almost didn't hear her.
“What?” she asked.
“I can wait,” Cosima replied, turning to face her.
“Then I won't do mine, either,” Delphine said. Cosima frowned. “I'll find a job, and I will help you until we have saved enough.”
“No. No, Delphine, you're doing your degree.”
“Cosima, we can't afford it.”
“Then I'll take out another loan! You're doing your doctorate, Delphine.”
“We can't afford it!” Delphine repeated.
“I did not waste seven years of my life for you to not do this!” Cosima shouted, gesturing angrily.
“What? Is that what you think? That you wasted your time for me?” Cosima sighed and squeezed her eyes shut.
“No, no, that's not what I meant! Don't twist my words.”
“That's what it sounded like!” Cosima threw up her hands and balled them into fists, looking for a moment like she was going to break the window, before stomping past Delphine towards the door. “Where are you going?”
“Out.” Cosima slammed the door behind her. Delphine fumed, her body brimming with tension, and managed to throw a slew of curses at the door before a sob racked her body.
Cosima went to a bar a few blocks away, fighting tears the entire way there. Delphine was being foolish. How could she possibly think that Cosima was just going to roll over and let her sacrifice her dream just because the company decided they didn't need her position any longer? How could she not see that everything Cosima was doing was for her? She didn't care about her own degree. She would wait, she could wait. She'd do anything if it meant Delphine would be happy.
It was early morning when she staggered back in the door, stinking of wine and cigarettes and swaying on her feet. The flat was dark. Cosima fumbled for the light switch before remembering that it wasn't connected to the outlet where the lamp was plugged in, and stumbling over towards the other side of the room. She ran into the coffee table with a loud swear, muttering under her breath as she turned on the lights. The bedroom door was shut. Cosima sighed and stared at it. Sofa for me, then, she thought, and sat heavily with a loud yawn. She wrapped herself up in the quilt draped over the back and curled up on her side, tossing her glasses onto the table. Her chest stabbed with guilt, but the alcohol did its job, and sent her to sleep after a few minutes.
She woke up much, much too early, her body still stuck in its work routine despite the copious amounts of alcohol she'd consumed. Cosima groaned and slowly sat up, forcing her eyes to open against the jack hammer pounding relentlessly at her skull. She pushed carefully to her feet, pausing when her head swam, and shuffled into the kitchen to wash the dead animal taste out of her mouth. The bedroom door opened softly. Cosima raised her mouth from the tap and looked over her shoulder. Delphine looked like she hadn't gotten much more sleep than she had, the bags under her eyes more prominent than usual, and her skin pale. Tesla circled around her legs, padding into the room for his food and water. Delphine left for the sofa.
“C'mere, Tes,” Cosima said, crouching down. Tesla looked at her, then turned and followed Delphine. Cosima sighed, and got herself a glass and medicine. Confident that she'd feel more human in half an hour, she cautiously approached where Delphine was sat on the sofa with her computer on her lap, and gingerly sat next to her. “Delphine.” The blonde hummed, and looked at her when she didn't reply.
“I'm sorry,” Cosima said, reaching out for one of Delphine's hands. She sighed and closed her eyes, tilting her head back against the sofa. “Please, just... do this for me, okay? I don't care if I have to wait to do mine, but I won't let you.”
“Delphine, please.” Delphine opened her eyes and found Cosima's gaze, frowning lightly. “Please. I don't care if I have to work three jobs to afford it.” Delphine's shoulders slumped.
“Okay,” she sighed. “Okay.” Cosima tugged lightly. Delphine pushed her computer to the side and fell into her, her head cushioned against Cosima's breasts.
“I'm sorry,” Cosima said again, stroking her fingers through the curls she loved so much.
“I know.” Cosima's stomach rolled when Delphine's shifted against her to get comfortable.
“Oh, god, don't do that,” she groaned. “I think I'm going to puke.”
“Not on me you aren't,” Delphine replied, sitting up. “It's your own fault for drinking so much. Go take a shower, you reek of wine.” Cosima groaned again. “Go,” Delphine ordered. “This is your punishment.” Cosima sighed and reluctantly got to her feet.
“Will you make me coffee and breakfast?” she asked, doing her best puppy dog face. Delphine laughed lightly and smiled at her.
“Yes. Now go.”