Cosima woke up first, her brain registering nothing more than the warm body slumped against hers for several peaceful minutes. It was followed by static tingling up her legs. Trying not to wake Delphine, Cosima struggled to get her limbs to move, clumsily swinging herself upright and waiting until the pins and needles lessened enough that she could stand with a yawn. Delphine's sharp inhale alerted Cosima to her wakefulness.
“I'm going to bed,” Cosima mumbled. Delphine sat up, rubbing her eyes.
“Oui,” she agreed, slurring. “Moi, aussi.”
“Night, then,” Cosima replied.
“Bonne nuit.” Cosima dragged herself upstairs, falling unceremoniously into her bed with a grateful sigh. Her body missed Delphine's heat, but her blankets were soft and warm. She wiggled out of her pants, and pulled her bra from beneath her shirt, sliding under her duvet. A few minutes later, Delphine's bedroom door opened and shut with a soft squeak and click. Cosima drifted back to sleep not long after.
In the morning she remembered, and tried to forget. She pretended, when she could, that she hadn't gotten off to thoughts of her naked step-sister. She pretended things were normal, and that she hadn't been completely ruined by Delphine and everything she was. Sometimes it was easy. The science project had bonded them, whether or not Cosima wanted it. And she did, deep down. Regardless of her body's low hum whenever Delphine was close to her, she yearned for the blonde's company. The girl was her intellectual equal, something she'd given up trying to find, at least while she was still in high school. Delphine understood, despite her confusion when Cosima spoke too quickly. She made an effort, and that was more than anyone else did. Except maybe Scott, but he didn't count. She didn't have much difficulty finding excuses for them to spend time together.
“Hey, Delphine?” Cosima asked, curiosity pulling her mind away from her Bio notes. Delphine hummed from her perch on the edge of Cosima's bed. Cosima had left her plenty of space to sit, even with both their books and notebooks spread across, but she had been sat stiffly practically falling off the mattress despite Cosima's coaxing and reassurances. “How many people have you gone out with?” The question drew Delphine's attention. She set her book down.
“A few,” she replied. She hesitated. “Claude was the longest.”
“How long?” Cosima asked. Delphine shrugged a shoulder, and tucked her hair behind her ear.
“Six months, I think,” she said. Cosima tapped her pen against her duvet, waiting.
“Are you doing okay?” Delphine nodded. “Good. Cool. I was worried.” She bit her lip once, spinning her pen between her fingers. “Do you miss him?” Delphine didn't say anything for a long moment. Finally, she shook her head with a quiet sigh.
“No. I don't miss him.” She met Cosima's eyes. “And you?” Cosima shook her head, but her throat was tight.
“Nah,” she said as casually as she could manage.
“What about Scott?” Delphine asked. “He is clearly in love with you.” Cosima scoffed, and laughed so abruptly that she snorted.
“Are you serious? He's a seventeen year old boy; he falls in love with anything that moves so long as it has a nice rack and a good pair of legs,” she said. “Did you see the way he looked at you when you met?” Delphine bit her lip, her face tinged pink. Cosima's flushed to match. “Besides, I could totally do better. ...that makes me sound really shallow.” Delphine chuckled softly.
“Do you fall in love with anything with a 'nice rack and a good pair of legs?'” she asked. Only if they understand me like you do, Cosima thought. Shit, no. Do not say that. Repeat: donotsaythat.
“Oh, yeah, totally,” she said instead, nodded and furrowing her brow. “You know me. I like them all beauty, no brains.” It earned her another laugh.
“I think you are lying,” Delphine said through a grin.
“Yeah, you're right. I like brainy girls.” It wasn't the smoothest coming out. Shit.
“You... like girls,” Delphine repeated, frowning ever so lightly. Cosima swallowed down the urge to barf.
“I, uh... yeah. Is that... cool?” Delphine chewed on her lip, examining Cosima. She felt like a lab subject. After a moment, the blonde's lips twitched into a smile.
“Yes,” she replied. “I think that maybe girls are better than boys, sometimes.” The tension in Cosima's shoulders faded. She laughed, despite herself.
“Yeah, sometimes. My ex is a real bitch, though.”
“How so?” Delphine asked. She shifted on the bed, her movements lightly bouncing Cosima. She still sat by the edge, but looked less like a puff of air would topple her to the floor.
“I thought she was super cool when we met, and like, I didn't know many lesbians or anything. She ended up being super pushy. Dad didn't like her.”
“Her and Claude would suit each other perfectly,” Delphine said, scowling.
“He's still an asshole,” Cosima said. Delphine's features relaxed. She pulled her book back onto her lap, pushing her hair behind her ear with a smile.
Cosima passed by them between classes when she stopped at her locker to switch her books out. She wanted to think it was Scott staring at them that drew her attention, and not the fact that she could pick out Delphine's accent above the bustle of the hall. She was talking to Mark, one of the football players. Delphine looked small compared to him, holding her books to her chest.
“So, uh, do you wanna maybe grab a movie sometime?” she heard him say. Cosima's face distorted into a scowl. She watched with one hand stuffed in her locker as Delphine blushed and tugged on the strap of her bag. Cosima slammed her locker shut, jealousy flaring up in her chest, followed by a sick dread. She wanted to punch him. Stupid Mark with his stupid face and his stupid muscles that Delphine probably swooned over, not that she'd ever seen her step-sister looking at him at all, let alone admiring his physique. She slammed her locker shut.
“No,” she heard Delphine say. “I don't think so, but thank you. Maybe... some other time?”
“I wish I could ask her out,” Scott said dreamily next to her. “But if she won't go out with him I don't have a chance.” Cosima punched his shoulder. “Ow!” he exclaimed, rubbing his arm. “What was that for?” Cosima glared at him, and stalked off in the opposite direction Delphine had gone, pushing through the crowd. “What did I do!?” Nothing. That was the problem. He hadn't done anything that was out of the ordinary for him. That would be out of the ordinary for anyone. Mark hadn't either, and she still wanted to hit him. Preferably where it would hurt most.
“There's some French film playing at the movie theatre, Delphine,” John said when he got home, his voice muffled by Cosima's door. She tugged an earbud out to listen. “I think it starts around seven, if you're interested.”
“What is it about?” Delphine asked.
“Can't remember. I heard a passing conversation at work. Something about soulmates and reincarnation, but supposedly it's pretty good. Maybe Cosima will go with you.” She heard his heavy steps creak along the floor, passing her door and down the stairs. She waited, listening for the thud of Delphine's door shutting. A knock came instead.
“Yeah?” she called, swinging her legs around to sit up on her bed. Delphine pushed the door open, bracing herself between it and the frame with her weight balanced unevenly.
“I know you were listening,” she said. Cosima blushed. “So? Do you want to come with me?”
It's not a date. She did not ask me on a date. This is not a date. She's my sister and she asked me to go see a movie. That is something normal sisters do. This is normal. Normal, normal, normal. Sibling, sibling, sibling. Delphine looked puzzled when Cosima pulled her into a convenience store on their way down to the theatre.
“Isn't there a snack bar there?” she asked.
“Didn't you do this back home?” Cosima replied, piling candy up in her arms.
“I made Claude buy me food. Isn't that what boyfriends are for?”
“Well, yeah, but I don't have the money for that,” Cosima mumbled, tumbling boxes and two drinks onto the counter. “See?” she said when the total rang up. “Cheap. Here put these in your bag.” She handed Delphine the soda bottles, accepting the bag given to her by the cashier.
“Cosima, we can't walk in with these,” Delphine said, still sounding confused.
“No shit,” Cosima replied. She stopped Delphine from entering the building, pulling her a pace to the side to clear the door. “Put these in your pockets,” she said, handing candy over. “Is there any more room in your purse?”
“Not with the drinks, no,” Delphine replied. Cosima hummed, then slipped a box under her shirt, securing it in the waist of her skirt. She gave the other box to Delphine, then fixed her shirt until the shape of it was almost unnoticeable. She laughed at the state of Delphine's.
“Let me fix that,” she said, reaching. Delphine tilted her head to the side, giggling as Cosima nudged the box around until it wasn't quite so visible. “You should wear looser shirts. Just like, hold your bag in front of it or something. They don't care, but it's kind of stupid to be super obvious about it.” Delphine's nervousness was entertaining, but no one in the theatre batted an eye. Cosima found them the best seats, high up enough that unless someone spectacularly tall sat in the row below, there'd be no risk of Cosima having her view blocked. Delphine settled next to her, distributing the drinks and food.
The music was nice, Cosima thought, staring hard at the screen. Subtitles were good. Naked women were good. Naked women were excellent. Cosima tried to keep her cool. Delphine was un-phased. She must have been used to it, Cosima mused. She was more than okay with it herself, but she couldn't help how her cheeks burned, and couldn't have been more thankful for the dark that hid their colour. Delphine's arm bumped against hers as she went for her soda. She mumbled an apology. Play it cool, Cos. She breathed in deeply, and sunk down into her chair. Not a date. Just a movie. She held her breath. Delphine's fingers brushed along hers again. No apology followed.
“Well, that was depressing,” Cosima concluded, wrapping her arms around herself.
“It was beautiful,” Delphine replied, falling easily into step next to her.
“Are all French films like that?” Delphine laughed.
“Did you not like it?”
“No, I did. Especially the first five minutes.” She grinned. Delphine smiled back.
“She is attractive, yes,” she agreed. Looked a bit like you, Cosima thought before she could stop it from forming. She cleared her throat, uncomfortable. “Thank you for going with me.”
“Yeah, totally. I need some cartoons or something now, though. That was some deep shit.” Delphine chewed on her lip. “You up for it?”
“No,” she said, her fingers threading through her hair. “No, I am going to read, I think.”
“You can share my Netflix if you want,” Cosima offered.
“Thank you, but I have work to do for class.” She smiled, taking the sting of disappointment out of her words. They parted outside their rooms, doors softly shutting almost simultaneously.