Delphine held up a shirt for her mother's consideration, peering around the side of it to gauge her reaction from her face. Marie stared at it for a moment, one hand curled on her hip and the other tapping at her chin, before she nodded and pointed to the open suitcase on her bed. Delphine folded the shirt neatly and placed it on top of the pile of clothes already filling the case.
“Maman,” she said, lightly ruffling through her mother's wardrobe. “Why are you going on vacation now? Aren't honeymoons supposed to happen right after the wedding, not almost two months later?”
“We wanted you and Cosima to settle in before we went,” Marie replied, appearing behind her shoulder. Delphine stepped out of the way, crossing her arms over her chest. “A lot of things changed very quickly. I know it's not traditional, but not much about this family has been, so far.” Delphine sighed. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said, too quickly. “I just think it's silly for you guys to leave two teenage girls alone in the house for a week.” Marie scoffed.
“You've never been a troublesome girl, Delphine. You and Cosima are both responsible young women. John and I trust you.” She was right, Delphine knew that. It wasn't the being home alone for a week that bothered her, it was who she would be with. Cosima's company was only made easy by the constant distraction of school and presence of both their parents to keep the tension that stretched between them from growing unbearable. She couldn't avoid Cosima if they had the house to themselves. Basic interaction was going to be needed, if not more. Delphine couldn't decide which was the more awkward of the two.
Her personal feelings on the matter didn't stop the adults from leaving. She saw them off with a sleepy-eyed Cosima who yawned and stretched her arms above her head the minute they were out of sight, and turned back to the house, leaving Delphine alone on the doorstep staring into empty air. She sighed, rubbing her hands along her arms. The house was quiet without the sound of the news on TV, or the sizzling of a pan from the kitchen. Delphine padded through the rooms and upstairs, passing by Cosima's door. She hesitated outside it, listening, but there was no soft muttering or gentle beat of music. She raised her hand and curled her fingers to knock, to ask if Cosima wanted anything to eat, but her fist hung in the air a few inches from the door. The noise probably wouldn't wake her anyway. Delphine dropped her hand and stepped away, chewing on her lip. After a moment, she turned and headed back downstairs.
Delphine learned very quickly that she couldn't leave Cosima to get up on her own. Waking up late wasn't something the brunette only did on weekends when it didn't matter. She was almost late to school the day after their parents left because she had wrongly assumed that Cosima would wake herself up and get ready on her own without any coaxing. She hadn't so much as apologized when she rushed down the stairs almost ten minutes after they normally left, snatching a banana from the kitchen and breezing past Delphine on her way out the door, leaving the blonde to follow in her wake. At least they didn't go hungry. While Cosima was happy to snack on crackers or cereal bars or order out, Delphine needed more than junk food. A good meal, as it turned out, was the key to making Cosima do almost anything.
Getting her out of bed in the mornings, though, was a terror, but Delphine wasn't going to be late to school just because Cosima wanted to sleep in. She could have just left her to be late alone, but it felt cruel to do so, and Delphine didn't want to walk to school on her own. She had already been awake for an hour, and had showered, dressed, brushed her teeth and done her hair for the day, but there hadn't been so much as a peep from her step-sister's room. She knocked on Cosima's door on her way downstairs, waiting until she heard a tired grunt of acknowledgement from the other side. She waited, crushing cereal between her teeth. When there was no hint of movement from upstairs, she left her bowl to knock on Cosima's door again.
“I'm coming!” she said, sounding impatient. Delphine sighed.
“I'll leave breakfast out for you,” she said through the barrier. There was a pause. When Cosima spoke again, her voice was gentle.
“Thanks. Just a minute.”
Delphine had expected Cosima was the kind of person who would have taken advantage of the adults being away from the house to throw a wild party, or skip school and spend all day out in the city, but she spent most of the time they were home in her room, although Delphine didn't know what she was doing or wanted to ask. They fell into a rhythm. Delphine made them breakfast, leaving Cosima's out for when she finally came downstairs, and together they walked to school, and home again, and went to their respective rooms.
It was worth it, waking up a bit earlier to cook something for the both of them, to see Cosima scarf it down with a smile on her face. She caught herself watching, turning her gaze elsewhere when she realized with a blush. Cosima's unwillingness to interact with her suited her just fine, and she was respectful enough to keep the volume of her music low enough that Delphine could only hear it filtering through the wall if she was listening for it. If it hadn't been for the knowledge lingering in the back of her mind that Cosima was there, she could have fooled herself into thinking it was only her in the house.
Cosima's music was almost comforting when it wasn't blasting loud enough for the neighbours to hear it. It sent Delphine to sleep at night, giving her mind something to focus on in the loud silence that hung like a cloud in her own bedroom. She dreamed; usually of home, or of her friends. Never about Claude. There were hands on her skin, in the darkness of the room. The touch was firm, strong and certain, but the fingers touching her were soft and slim, skilled in their explorations. Delphine arched into the touch, her skin tingling. She wanted to see, to look at the warm flesh she could feel beneath her palms, but her eyes wouldn't open. Lips met her jaw, tracing along its edge to her ear. She bucked her hips, seeking pressure, tilting her head back when the kisses burned down the side of her neck. Her hands found hair, thick and silky. She tangled her fingers, tugging while her breath snagged in her throat, catching a moan before it could break. Her lover spoke, whispering against her stomach. The words were muffled, like Delphine had her head underwater, but something about the tone of their voice sounded familiar.
She gasped herself awake, her eyes shooting open. Beneath her breast her heart pounded an erratic beat, hard and fast, skipping around behind her ribs. Her chest heaved with it. She raised an arm, still heavy from sleep, and wiped a sheen of sweat from her forehead. Her body burned. Too hot under sheets damp with perspiration, she kicked her legs free, and swallowed hard. The heat in the pit of her stomach and the ache between her thighs were unmistakeable. She squirmed, hoping that it would fade, but the minutes slowly ticked by and it did nothing but throb. Delphine rubbed at her face with her hands, exhaling shakily, and swung her legs out of bed. A shower would fix it. Showers fixed everything. The weakness in her knees almost toppled her over the second she stood. She sucked in a breath, throwing a hand against her end table to keep upright until she was steady enough to stand without its support.
A dry throat and a severe case of cotton mouth pulled Cosima from an otherwise pleasant sleep. She blinked her eyes open, licking her lips and glaring at the clock in front of her face. Too early, she thought, pulling her blanket over her head and rolling over. She swallowed, trying to work up enough moisture in her mouth that she could go back to sleep, but it was too distracting for her to fall back asleep.
“Uhg,” she mumbled, rolling towards the side of her bed until her legs hit nothing but air. She stood slowly, the world blurry without her glasses, and her eyes crusted and bleary with sleep. Rubbing at them, Cosima yawned on her way out of her room, shuffling down the hallway to the bathroom. It didn't occur to her to knock, even though the door being shut was odd. She'd probably gotten up in the middle of the night and swung it closed behind her without thinking. The room was humid. Cosima frowned, dropping her hand from her face. Oh.
Her and Delphine both froze, staring. Cosima's eyes couldn't settle. There was too much flesh on display, shining with water and dappled with goosebumps. Her hair was curling against her shoulders and behind her ears. She could feel Delphine's eyes locked on her face. She needed to look away, she knew she did, but god her tits are fantastic.
“Shit,” she said, blinking, her eyes finally finding Delphine's face. A flush covered her cheeks and nose, almost reaching her neck. “Shit. Shit. I'm so sor-shit.” She backed out of the room, her own face burning, and slammed the door shut. Her stomach twisted with want, the sight of perfect Delphine's perfect body burned behind her retinas. She retreated, catching her foot against her heel as she turned and almost tripping. Safely in her room, she sat heavily on the bed, staring at the floor. Squeezing her eyes shut, she shook her head violently, as if that alone would be enough to banish the sight from her brain. She wiggled back under her blankets, trading in a view of the floor for one of the ceiling, a fuzzy grey in the early morning like that seeped between the blinds on her window. She couldn't unsee it.
Cosima dug her knuckles into her eyes, puffing air into her cheeks and blowing it out in a frustrated gust. “God dammit,” she sighed, dropping her hands. Her fingers twitched across her stomach. No, she thought. No, no no. she jerked her hand away, slapping it against the mattress with a soft thump. She scowled, biting her lip. The pale curve of Delphine's back flashed into the front of her thoughts. The light bumps of her ribs, the flex of the muscles in her arm. How her lips had been parted in shock, those wide eyes focused on Cosima, dark and alarmed. She ached. Oh fuck it, she concluded, nudging her fingers beneath the waist of her underwear. I'm going to hell anyway.
It was so soft that at first Delphine thought she was hearing things. She was still worked up, her face burning every few seconds when she recalled the look in Cosima's eyes; how they had lingered, and darkened. The shower had done nothing to fix the ache or the heat that spread across her skin. She listened, sitting on her bed in fresh clothes, her hair still damp. It sounded almost like... but it couldn't be. It was Cosima. They'd only been shocked because it was unexpected, and embarrassing. No one had ever seen Delphine naked before. Cosima wouldn't be... A moan, choked and muffled, penetrated the thin wall that separated their rooms. Delphine bit hard into her lip, and found herself straining to hear more. She should have put her headphones in. They were close, sat on her bedside table next to her alarm clock and her phone, right where she'd left them the night before. She didn't move. She couldn't. The sounds drifting from Cosima's room had her frozen in place, hypnotized.
She admired Cosima's mind, it was difficult not to. She had been tantalizingly close to convincing herself that was all it was, but if that was the truth, then she should have been able to block out the noise, to give Cosima privacy and respect. She wrapped her fingers around the edge of her bed, digging her nails into the mattress and biting too hard on her lip. She imagined Cosima's head tilted back against her pillows, her eyes shut and her lips parted. Delphine's chest constricted, her throat tightening. She inhaled sharply. She was trembling. Something was wrong with her. She shouldn't have been thinking what she was. She shouldn't have been listening. She couldn't stop.
The pitch of Cosima's moans changed. They grew closer together. Higher. Strained. As if keeping as quiet as she was was almost too much effort. Delphine squeezed her thighs together against the ache, burning stronger than before. It was too much. Her heart was ready to beat out of her chest, her stomach swirling sickeningly with things she didn't want to put a name to. She felt like she was going to puke—the noises stopped. Delphine waited and listened, straining her ears to hear, but nothing more followed, only the sound of her own breathing, harsh and loud in her head.
She hid away in her room. Cosima wasn't any the wiser. Her music drifted softly through the house. It didn't happen, Delphine told herself. This is all a terrible dream. Any minute now I'll wake up and everything will be normal. The tension in her body stayed, alert to every noise that sounded. Hours passed before Cosima's door opened. Delphine's head shot up from her laptop, her eyes focused on her own. She waited for the creak of the stairs that sound signify Cosima going downstairs, but it didn't follow. A knock came instead, light and hesitant. Delphine had to remember to breathe. She set her computer aside and crossed the room to open the door. Cosima smiled hesitantly up at her, ruffling her hair with her fingers. She held up a mints case.
“Wanna smoke?” she asked. Delphine curled her fingers around the edge of her door, gaze shifting between Cosima's shy smile and the box in her hand.
“I've never...” she started, twirling a hand in the air.
“No?” Cosima questioned. “You don't have to, obvs. Thought maybe it'd be fun. It doesn't like, bother you, does it?”
“No,” Delphine replied, shaking her head. “No, I-” She licked her lip, teeth catching it a second later. “Okay.”
She felt like she was floating, and everything was funny. Claude had smoke weed once, but Delphine had always preferred cigarettes. She liked the way they tasted on her tongue, and the scent was easier to cover than the one that clung to her clothes and hair after spending a night with him and his friends. Cosima was more experienced than he had ever been. They didn't smoke much, but Delphine had no tolerance, and it wasn't long before her head was swimming pleasantly, and the smile that Cosima had stuck on her face grew wider and wider. Delphine couldn't so much as look at her without laughing. Her giggles would start Cosima off, and they wouldn't stop until Delphine's chest and stomach hurt from it.
“Why am I so hungry?” she asked, sprawled on the sofa beside Cosima. The brunette stretched her legs out across the coffee table, slowly sinking further and further down the cushions.
“Munchies,” she replied, and giggled. Delphine was convinced that Cosima wasn't quite as high as she was.
“I should make something,” Delphine said, a determined expression forming on her face. “Should I make something? I'm going to make something.” Lazily, she struggled to her feet, her limbs leaden.
“What are you going to make?” Cosima called after her. Her words were slurred and sounded as heavy as Delphine's body felt.
“Do we have jam?” Delphine asked.
“I think so, why?” Delphine chewed on her lip, searching through the fridge.
“Yeah.” Her voice was closer.
“What about pasta?” A chair scraped across the floor behind her, followed by a grunt as Cosima settled in it.
“Check the cabinet with the peanut butter,” she replied. “...actually can I have that peanut butter?” Delphine side-stepped, holding the jar of jam and the packet of deli ham against her chest and bumping the door to the fridge shut with her hip. She answered Cosima's request, sliding the jar across the island counter top to her. The lid clattered as Cosima dropped it, a content groan slipping from her lips. “God, I love peanut butter.” Delphine rummaged through the cabinet, pushing cans and boxes aside until she found the bag of pasta hidden away on one of the shelves.
“Pot,” she said, turning around with her arms laden. Cosima raised a brow, a finger piled with peanut butter halfway to her mouth.
“We already had some,” she said, sucking her finger clean.
“No, I need a pot to cook in,” Delphine clarified, dumping the food she held on the counter.
“What are you even making?” Cosima mumbled through a mouth sticky with peanut butter.
“Ham and jam pasta,” Delphine replied. The pots and pans clunked loudly as she shifted them around to find the one she wanted.
“What the hell is that?” Cosima asked. Delphine shrugged.
“I want it,” she replied.
“Dude, me too. Make it. Make it right now.”
“Don't let the pasta burn, dude.”
“I'm-I'm not going to let the pasta burn, Cosima,” Delphine said. She'd been watching it like a hawk for the past five minutes to keep it from doing just that.
“Delphiiinnnneeeeeee, this is taking forever. I'm hungry,” Cosima whined. Delphine shushed her. Experimenting, she poked it with a fork, and satisfied with it's texture, strained it and dumped it into a bowl. Cosima reached out to steal a noodle only to have her hand slapped away, Delphine glaring at her.
“Wait,” she ordered, adding the ham she'd ripped up and spooning almost half of what was left of the jam to the bowl. “There,” she said after it was mixed together, licking the spoon off. Cosima pulled the bowl over, wrapping an arm around it almost possessively.
“Holy shit this is delicious,” she said, cleaning a spot of jam off of her lip with the tip of her tongue.
“Let me have it,” Delphine moaned, reaching. Cosima turned her body away. “Cosima!”
“Okay, okay,” the brunette agreed, “but we're going to the sofa; this chair is uncomfortable as hell.” Delphine followed her back out to the living room, settling beside her. Cosima balanced the bowl on their legs, groping for the TV remote. The devoured the meal within five minutes. Hunger satisfied, Delphine relaxed into the sofa, and let her head loll onto Cosima's shoulder with a yawn. Cosima echoed her. “I'm tired,” she announced. Delphine hummed. The world felt heavy. She closed her eyes.
Their parents found them slung over each other on the sofa, with their empty bowl of pasta on the floor and the kitchen needing cleaned. John took Marie's bag from her and crept past the sleeping girls towards the stairs. Marie cleaned up the bowl and put away the food they'd left on the counter, throwing out the rubbish. Even the noise of the water hitting the sink didn't wake them. Marie stopped again before following John upstairs to push Delphine's hair behind her ear and cover them both with the quilt folded across the back of the couch, removing Cosima's glasses and folding them neatly on the coffee table.