A New Start
The email came a few days later. The tone of Delphine's voice drifting through the apartment when she called Cosima's name had her dropping the spoon she was holding to stir dinner into the pot without a second thought and rushing into the other room. Delphine's face was as white as a sheet, her eyes wide. She held out a hand, gaze flicking briefly to Cosima. Her grip was vice-like. Cosima quickly rounded the desk, twisting her wrist to keep a hold of Delphine's fingers, and looked over the blonde's shoulder.
“Ten years, Cosima,” Delphine whispered without looking away from the computer screen. “Ten years with nothing, and now this.”
“How did they find it?”
“They must have seen the news story about the vaccine,” Delphine replied. “They used my name.” Cosima sighed heavily, staring at the words in front of them.
“What do you want to do?” Cosima asked. Delphine's exhale was shuddery, and when she turned her head to look at Cosima, her eyes were shiny and wet.
“I want to go back,” she said, her voice thick. Cosima pulled her hand free and tipped Delphine's head back to kiss her.
“Can you get time off next month?” she asked. Delphine nodded silently and spun her chair around to bury her face in Cosima's chest. Cosima tangled her hands in the blonde's curls and massaged the base of her skull. “I'll book the flights. Just let me wait until after exams, okay?” Delphine nodded again, and began to tremble, light sobs muffling themselves against Cosima's shirt. Cosima held her tight, and stared at the email on the monitor.
Cosima couldn't remember the last time she'd been so nervous. It certainly hadn't been recently. Delphine had been sick a few months previously, in bed for a week, but even then Cosima had been more worried than anxious, fussing about her like she was her mother. Now she felt like she was going to puke at any second, trembling so badly that it was hard to hand over her papers when they got to the airport, but at least she wasn't afraid of flying. Delphine's face alternated between being paler than a ghost and a sickly shade of green, and she hardly let go of Cosima unless she was forced. She had been having a hard time enough as it was recently, waking up early and worrying Cosima and Tesla both by being sick in the bathroom, even though it was normal.
The ride was agony. Delphine was sick once, and spent the time they had to wait for their connecting half asleep with her head on Cosima's lap. Ten years, Cosima thought, stroking her lover's hair. If she was honest with herself, she had given up on ever seeing her father again, at least not if she wanted to keep Delphine. She had wondered, over the years, if the two of them eloping had ruined their parent's marriage, but the email had set that fear to rest. Perhaps they'd found even more comfort in each other despite the loss of their children.
She loathed having to rouse Delphine to board the plane, wishing that she could let the blonde rest for another hour, or, two, or three, but her head lolled right back onto Cosima's shoulder when they'd settled in their seats. She didn't sleep, though. She was gripping Cosima's hand too tightly for that.
“It'll be okay,” Cosima said softly, pressing her face into Delphine's soft curls. “They want to see us.”
“I know,” Delphine replied through a sigh. “I'm still afraid. So much has changed, Cosima.”
“It's only for a week,” Cosima said reassuringly. “I can change the flight if we need to. I don't care about the fees.” Delphine nodded against her shoulder.
“Home” managed to be familiar but entirely different all at the same time. Cosima knew the streets just as well, after a moment or two of disorientation after they picked up their rental car, but some of the shops had changed. Some had grown. Others had left. Delphine didn't know the city as well as she had, but she could see the change as well. At least the house was still the same. Cosima let the car idle at the end of the drive, her and Delphine both staring at the front door. Tesla was eager to get out, squirming around in the back seat and barking every few seconds. Eventually, Cosima shut the engine off with a heavy sigh, and reached for Delphine's hand.
“Shall we?” she asked. Delphine nodded. Tesla ran straight for the door, barking happily and dancing around in front of it. It opened before Cosima could knock, leaving her standing face to face with her father with her fist raised. They stared at each other. His hair had more grey in it than Cosima remembered, his face more lined, eyes tired behind glasses Cosima never thought he'd need. Cosima swallowed over the lump in her throat. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by Marie pushing past them both and pulling Delphine into an embrace so tight Cosima heard the blonde squeak. There was rapid muttering in French, too soft and fast for Cosima to be able to understand, and tears streaking down Delphine's cheeks. Tesla was still hopping around her legs, bumping his head against John's and barking almost non-stop. John ignored him, and pulled Cosima into a hug of his own. Cosima melted against him, her eyes sliding shut.
When they finally all separated, however many minutes later, John finally bent down to pet the dog, ruffling his fur and his ears and grinning at him. Cosima wiped her eyes dry and reached out for Delphine's hand. The blonde tangled their fingers, her free hand rubbing at her face. They shuffled inside, wheeling luggage and weaving around the excited dog. There were drinks and food waiting, and god did Cosima need a glass of wine. She accepted it gratefully, lingering by the island. The silence was loud and tight, full almost to the seams with unspoken questions.
“So, what have you two been up to?” John asked. Cosima snorted out a laugh, and with it the others joined. “That's a stupid question, I know, but seriously.”
“I have a wonderful job,” Delphine answered, “but I think you know that already. That is how you found us, no?” Marie nodded, reaching out to push Delphine's hair away from her face.
“We heard your name on the television,” she said. “On the news. Dr. Delphine Cormier. I couldn't entirely believe it was you, but we looked it up and there you were. What is this DYAD?”
“They work on all sorts of projects,” Delphine replied. “There are several branches that focus on all of the different aspects. I work with a group of immunologists.”
“And you, Cosima?” Marie asked. Her hand still covered Delphine's where it rested on the counter, but her attention and gaze were focused on her. Cosima cleared her throat softly.
“I'm, uh, I don't have a job, at the moment,” she said, glancing down at her wine glass. “I just finished my PhD before we left.”
“Cosima helped put me through school,” Delphine said, her eyes full of love. Cosima smiled at her. “She could have finished her degree earlier, but she was working almost constantly so I could do mine. She has made many sacrifices for us.” Delphine set her glass down and with her now free hand reached out for one of Cosima's, squeezing it gently.
“Cosima,” John finally said, clearing his throat. “I know that words aren't really suitable, but Marie and I, we're sorry.” Cosima drained her glass to gather her composure, and nodded. “And we're proud of you. Both of you.” Delphine wiped at her eyes, and shared a glance with Cosima. Her hand lingered by her stomach.
“We have... something to tell you, too,” Cosima said, and met Delphine's eyes. The blonde's head tipped slightly.
“Maman,” she said, taking a deep breath. “John. We're... I'm pregnant.” Cosima held her breath in the silence that followed, her stomach tight with nervousness, but then Marie's eyes watered, and she pulled Delphine into another embrace. She felt John's arm wrap around her shoulder, pulling her against his side. Tesla padded in from the other room to sit at her feet. Cosima glanced around, and let the grin that was pulling at her lips spread across her face.
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