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(If You're) Going My Way

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Author’s note: Hey guys. So, I’m essentially coming out of fic retirement to post this, which means that I may be a smidge rusty. Go easy on me. (All butchering of the French language and Californian geography is entirely my fault. I apologize). Also, lord, this ended up long. Which should be good for you. Enjoy! (I hope.)

P.s. No hitchhikers were harmed in the making of this fic. I promise.

 

~ * ~

 
A dull ache is beginning to pulse behind Delphine’s temple. It is an oh-so-lovely sign, she suspects, of what's to come: a long, irritating day spent in horrendous traffic. It has been this way ever since she set out from L.A., and traveling a few miles away from the city has done little to improve matters. What's worse is that she is quickly tiring of tapping the gas pedal, of moving a foot or two and stopping, and neither of those things bode well. Not for her sanity, or for her hair as she violently rakes a frustrated hand through it, or indeed for her ability to cope with the things she needs to do when she actually arrives.

It had seemed like such a good idea from the comfort of her own apartment – driving the 101 to San Francisco. Taking the scenic route would make the trip more enjoyable, surely. Or, at least, that was how her best friend had pitched it to her over the phone. How short-sighted of them both. Idealistic, even.

Delphine is not by nature an impatient person, but she is bored. She is also slowly ticking her way toward royally pissed off: she longs for the road to open up, to give her a chance to feel the smooth acceleration and lose herself in its serenity. Life has been just a bit too difficult lately, and stop-and-go traffic is not quite the escape she was looking for, regardless of the view. When the cars around her settle into a dead-stop once more, however, she closes her eyes for a moment and tries to wind herself back.

There is a gentle breeze twisting its way past, and it ruffles her hair on a whim, tossing a few unruly strands across her face. The sun is warm but not oppressive; it is a beautiful day. That’s good, she thinks, try to see the positives.

The obnoxious blare of a horn startles her from her reverie. Merde. It is laughable how fast she catches up the negligible distance between herself and the car ahead – but, to satisfy the idiot behind her, she keeps her eyes forward. Dutiful. Like she gives a shit.

At the very least, she tries.

Except, her gaze is soon drawn away from the road again, but this time it is for a whole new reason. There is a girl – a small, birdlike figure, with dreadlocks and a baggy sweater that is a mess of clashing colours and patterns – walking backwards down the margin of the highway, the thumb of one hand outstretched and the other toting a cardboard sign that reads “San Fran or Bust.”

Delphine has never understood hitchhiking, nor come anywhere close to even entertaining the thought of picking someone up, but there is something about this girl that gives her pause. Her car is drifting to the side, is slowing to a stop, before she really knows what she’s done.

The girl takes a few lively strides toward the steel-grey Mercedes, gravel crunching under her shoes with each step. She stops just short of the driver’s-side door, flashing Delphine a smile that is cautiously optimistic.

She indicates the sign. “Going my way?”

San Francisco.

Oddly enough… “Yes.”

The girl does this little bounce, her dreadlocks flipping whimsically, and Delphine finds herself wanting to have a name to put to the stranger’s vibrant face. She stretches out a hand.

“Delphine.”

A wide grin and a soft, silver-ringed hand in her own is her reward.

“Cosima.”

“Cosima,” Delphine repeats, liking the shape of it – of the three distinct syllables – on her tongue. It is a name as interesting as the picture she strikes, somewhere between Bohemian and nerdy chic, with her thick black glasses and pierced nose. As interesting as the fact that while she appears to be every bit what one might expect of a hitchhiker, she is a far cry from a stereotype of any kind.

As she stands there, hand resting lightly in Delphine’s, her smile is nothing short of dazzling. It is radiant. There is an air of euphoria about her, Delphine thinks, as if she is high on life itself – joyful, in a situation which would dishearten others – yet there is utter clarity in her eyes. Intelligence shines in them, behind the dark rim of her eyeliner, and Delphine has an immediate, instinctive feeling that she wants to know this woman, this Cosima. There is no going back now.

Delphine smiles. “Enchantée.”

Cosima bounces again, looking thoroughly pleased.

“Enchantée,” she parrots, even as she releases Delphine’s hand and jogs around the front of the car. She deposits her meager belongings in the back before climbing into the passenger seat, all the while a ceaseless flurry of motion. Whatever Delphine expects to hear next, it certainly isn’t, “Phew. You have no idea how glad I am that you’re not a wacko.”

“I’m not sure,” she begins, haltingly, “that you’re in any position to be saying such things.”

“Oh, right, the hitchhiking thing. Yeah, that’s a tale of one lapse of judgement leading to the next,” Cosima says, flipping her hands as if to brush it off. “But, you run into some real whack-jobs trying to catch a ride, let me tell you. Also a lot of skeevy guys who just want me to flash them.”

Delphine frowns. “Why would you…?”

“Well, see, here’s the thing… I’m kinda broke. Most people don’t let you tag along out of the goodness of their hearts.” Her fingers, as if never quite comfortable being idle, drum on the door. “Which, awkward, uh, I can’t pay you either.”

Cosima stops and considers for a moment.

“But,” she offers, cheerfully, “I can flash you.”

Delphine flushes. The idea is ridiculous: it is her prerogative to stop, to offer assistance, so what would give her the right to demand something in return, monetary or otherwise? But, she supposes, that probably isn’t how the average person looks at it.

Also, she realizes, feeling the heat flare on her cheeks and neck with renewed intensity, she has taken a beat too long to answer. “No. That is all right.”

To give herself something to do other than look horribly embarrassed, she starts the car and pulls back into traffic.

Cosima’s laughter is light, not mocking, and she settles in, folding her legs on the plush leather seat. Even the way she sits seems more animated, somehow. Cosima does not just inhabit the space; she makes it her own.

“That’s a shame, man,” Cosima remarks, with a crooked half-smile. “You’re the only person I actually kinda wanted to.”

Delphine has no idea what to do with that, so she lets it slide. Cosima seems perfectly content to let it go, too, for which she is thankful. Deciding to drive with a woman she doesn’t even know for such a long distance is strange enough; she does not need to add staring at said woman’s breasts to the equation. Though, when Cosima leans forward, the neckline of her sweater does dip rather far…

Her eyes snap back to the road. The traffic is showing signs of clearing, mercifully, and she relaxes into the driving. It is rote, by now, more than conscious thought. That's good, because her head is not at all on straight; it hasn’t been since she stopped. Which was only minutes ago, she remembers, dully, and decides she needs to pull herself back together.

“May I ask, why are you hitchhiking? You don’t seem the type.”

“Oh, well, see... there was this thing, total geek-fest,” Cosima explains, looking like she expects Delphine to judge her now, of all times. “Have you heard of Runewars?” Without waiting for an answer, she flips her hand dismissively. “Of course you haven’t. There was a competition – which I kicked ass in, by the way – that I went to with a friend. But I sorta blew all my cash on the bus ticket and the event. So, then I was kinda really counting on a ride home, but his boss also kinda has a corporate-bullshit-shaped stick up his ass and wouldn’t give him a day or two off to haul me across the state.” Her hands, moving wildly the entire time she narrates the story, still now as she concludes. “So, here I am.”

It is a dizzying story, and Delphine is not sure she understands it all. She decides not to linger on the specifics.

“Could you not have called your parents?” she inquires, wondering how the situation could have escalated to hitchhiking. There are always alternatives – other methods to try. Working the problem out in her head, she adds, “Or maybe asked them to send you some money?”

Cosima taps a fingertip on her chin, considering. “Mm. I could’ve, yeah, but I’m trying to do this whole independent living thing. Y’know, getting by on my own.”

Delphine supposes that’s a decent enough point, in theory, but sometimes it is necessary to choose your battles carefully – to fight them elsewhere, if you want to make them really count. In a bind such as this, she thinks, it would be acceptable to relent. Also, it isn’t really on her own, if she’s here in Delphine’s car, relying on the help of a stranger.

“But surely your parents would understand…?”

“Yeah, they did,” Cosima agrees. She pauses, smiles, and adds sheepishly, “The first time this happened. It’s no big, really. I’m just lucky you picked me up.” Her smile widens, and she reaches out to touch Delphine’s arm. “Thanks for that, by the way.”

It’s a little baffling, but Delphine is enjoying herself. Her new trip-mate is fascinating, and her boredom – and threatening headache – from earlier has long since petered out.

“It is my pleasure, Cosima.”

There is a funny little sparkle in her eye, and she tilts her head to the side. “I like that.”

Traffic stalls again, so Delphine turns to regard her fully.

"Hmm?"

“The way you say my name: Co-si-ma. I like it.”

Delphine frowns. “Are you making fun..?”

“No, no! Oh, no, absolutely not. I just… dig the accent.” She almost, almost appears a bit shy – if it weren’t for the look in her eyes. “Kinda a lot.”

Bemused, Delphine hazards a smile.

Merci,” she says, feeling a strange rush as Cosima bites her lip. “Je crois.”


~ * ~


For about an hour now, they have been driving in companionable silence. The earlier thread of conversation had reached its natural end, and Cosima’s solution was to produce an iPod from the front pocket of her maroon jeans. (Mind if I DJ?” she had asked, barely even waiting for Delphine’s answer of Be my guest” before doing just that.)

The music is turned down low, existing for the most part in the periphery, and for once it is an artist she recognizes. An indie German band: The Notwist. Cosima’s musical collection is, like her, very eclectic – mostly things Delphine has never heard – but she likes it.

She’s not sure, however, if it’s the music itself that she likes, or the way Cosima interacts with it. Delphine finds herself increasingly glad for the interrupted flow of the road, because it gives her an opportunity to sneak glances at Cosima – to watch her in her element, eyes closed, twisting to the music, head nodding and swaying. She is sensual in her movements, and when Delphine's eyes linger for just a hair too long, she begins to feel a bit like a voyeur. But this woman across from her is magnetic, and it is difficult to tear her gaze away.

After a while, the inevitable happens: Cosima catches her looking.

“Sorry,” Delphine says awkwardly, flushing, and directs her eyes forward. She props her elbow on her door and rests her head on her hand, wishing for a different distraction: they are in a dead-stop again, which leaves her with nothing else to focus on but this latest wave of embarrassment. She can't remember the last time she's had so little control over herself. It's a little unnerving.

But if Cosima minds in the slightest, she makes no indication of it. Instead she hums softly, and out of the corner of her eye, Delphine can see her extend a hand out just past the door, undulating in the air as the car spurs back into motion, riding the slipstream. She looks peaceful. It’s nice.

 

 ~ * ~

 

The silence only lasts another fifteen or twenty minutes, which is something of a relief. The distance to San Francisco is much too far to pass as they were; in any case, Cosima is not, apparently, the type to be quiet for very long. She leans back against the headrest, rolling her head to the side to look at Delphine.

“Hey, Delphine?”

She starts, coming back from her muddled thoughts. “Yes, Cosima?”

“Let’s play a game.”

Delphine frowns. “A game?” She casts her eyes around them and raises her eyebrows, as if to say, 'we're in a car.' They do not have very many options, and something tells her that ‘I Spy’ would be dreadfully boring.

Cosima shrugs, hardly off-put. “Okay, so, not a game per se, but a get-to-know-you type thing. I ask you a question and you ask me one?”

A smile tugs at Delphine's lips.

“So…” she teases wryly, “you want to have a conversation?”

If Cosima is bad at staying silent, she is worse at pretending to be angry. She makes a very noble attempt, narrowing coal-dark eyes and sticking out the tip of her tongue, but the farce is obvious. It slips very quickly, and she acquiesces with a laugh. “Okay. Then, yeah, that.”

There is a beat during which neither of them speak. It is counterproductive.

“Well, it is your game,” Delphine prods gently. “Soo.. you first.”

Cosima takes a moment to consider it, eyes flitting skyward, chewing her lip as if she has far too many questions and can’t quite weigh which of them she would prefer answered. It isn’t exactly crucial, Delphine thinks, because they have plenty of time ahead of them yet, but she suspects that Cosima’s curiosity might very well be boundless. Free spirits, after all, don’t belong in cages.

“Okay,” Cosima says at last. “You know my story. What’s yours? Where are you from?”

Technically those are two questions, but she doesn’t bother to say as much. Instead, she smiles.

“I am from France.” She ignores the pointed 'no, really?' look that Cosima gives her and carries on, “but I have been living in L.A. for a few years now. I’m… not sure I like it.”

Cosima brightens, sitting up a little straighter. “You should totally try San Fran sometime – well, duh, I mean you’re going there right now – but it’s way better.”

Delphine nods. “I’ve been. It was nice.”

“Oh, please,” Cosima says, rolling her eyes in a way that Delphine can only think to describe as unusual. “San Fran is great. You probably just had a shitty guide.”

With a snicker, Delphine replies, “I am sure my best friend would appreciate you saying that.”

“Yeah, well, no offense to your friend, but she isn’t me.”

That is certainly true. But, then again, Cosima is unlike anyone she has ever met.

“You’re right,” she agrees, reaching over to give her a playful swat. “She is not nearly so cheeky.”

Cosima rubs her arm in a gesture of mock-hurt, looking at Delphine with wide eyes and a scoff forming on her lips.

“Oww,” she protests, but the scoff is fast becoming a smirk. “So, this is your M.O., is it? You invite helpless girls into your car and then you hit them – ”

Delphine swipes at her again, laughing fondly. “Brat!”

“Hey!” Cosima’s indignation is less effective now, punctuated as it is by her raucous giggles, and her hand scrabbles for Delphine’s in an attempt to stop the attack. When Cosima manages it, she laces their fingers together and holds tight until there is no further sign of a struggle.

It seems very quiet, as they settle – very still – as if time is distorting around them. It is a curious feeling; it is not the first for the day.

A few minutes later, Delphine makes a small sound of disapproval as Cosima’s fingers slide out from between her own. Her touch is not gone, however, as she feared it might be. Instead, Cosima seems perfectly content to cradle Delphine’s hand in both of hers, laid out on the armrest, and fiddle with her fingers. She strokes over her knuckles, presses exploratory fingertips into her palm, and gives her thumb a little tug that does something very odd to the pit of her stomach. Then, after a pause, Cosima scrapes blunt nails lightly up the inside of her wrist.

Delphine shivers.

Weren’t they doing something? She hasn’t a clue what, anymore.

It’s a good thing traffic is so slow. She is well aware that driving one-handed is not exactly the smartest thing at the best of times, but she is disinclined to do anything about it, because… well, it feels good.

“You know,” Cosima begins, making idle patterns on her skin, “you’re just avoiding my questions. What, has Delphine… uh…?”

“Cormier,” Delphine supplies.

It strikes her as funny, then, that her hand is being held with such tenderness by a girl who didn’t even know her last name until just a moment ago. What’s weirder, possibly, is the way that her own fingers stretch out, brushing what she can of Cosima’s wrist and arm (around a variety of colourful bracelets), without any real conscious effort – just desire to have her close.

“Has Delphine Cormier got a shady past, hmm?”

She laughs. “No. What is it you want to know?”

Cosima drums her fingertips on Delphine’s wrist, contemplating. “Let’s start with the basics. What do you do for a living?”

“I'm a doctor.”

This catches her attention. “What, like a GP?”

Delphine shakes her head. “No. A specialist – in immunology.”

It’s like she has spoken the magic words, because Cosima sits up very straight, her entire body seeming to brighten. Her enthusiasm is audible as she says, “Oh, cool. So you deal with some of the really nasty shit, huh?”

“Yes. It is…” Delphine trails off, focusing on the road as she remembers why she was doing this in the first place. She huffs out a heavy breath. At last, she adds, “Difficult. It is very difficult.”

Too many patients dead. Too many malicious things, virulent and unforgiving, hidden just beneath the surface until it is much too late. She is still so young. How can she make a career of this, if it is eating away at her already? She is invested in it, yes – she loves the science very much – but is that enough? She feels as if she’s sitting on the edge, not quite there enough to make a difference.

“Mmm, yeah.” Cosima nods sympathetically, giving her hand a squeeze. “The hard stuff. Beats you down.” She seems to disappear into herself for a moment, eyes wandering. She makes a ‘hum’ sound and turns back to her. “So, it’s Dr. Cormier, then, huh? Shoulda figured from, y’know, the Mercedes.”

It is hard to remain serious, with Cosima giving her that look – one that is somewhere between impressed and... something else.

Delphine leans toward her and says in a conspiratorial tone, “Actually, I also have a Tesla – at home. I would have driven it, but the battery life is not permissive to such long trips. Not without stopping to charge it.”

The reaction she gets is priceless. Cosima’s eyes and grin widen at the same time, and she braces a hand on the dashboard, turning so that her whole body is facing Delphine almost full-on.

“Okay, see, now you’re just trying to get me all hot and bothered, aren’t you? The cute doctor with a Tesla?” She shakes her head. “You’re just the package deal… possible domestic abuse habits aside – hey! That one was actually kinda hard.”

“Yes. It was meant to be,” Delphine agrees, allowing her hand to be captured again. Even after a minute or so of silence, she still feels the flush on her skin from what Cosima said – her grasp on English idioms is not the best, sometimes, but “hot and bothered” doesn’t leave much room for misunderstanding. The whole thing should make her uncomfortable, yet she finds herself oddly pleased. “You have had your questions; now it is my turn. You are a science student, yes?”

She hasn’t got much to base it on except the way Cosima livened at the mention of immunology. That and the pin with a university logo on Cosima’s messenger bag, now settled in her back seat.

“Sure am. Evo Devo. I haven’t quite got my PhD yet, but I’m getting there. The whole science thing runs in the Niehaus family – it’s pretty much in our DNA.”

“Niehaus?” Delphine asks, brow furrowing. “You are German?”

She doesn’t particularly look it. Cosima smiles. “My parents are, yeah. I’m adopted – but I’m one of them, y’know? They love me just as much.”

Delphine reaches up, rubbing a gentle thumb across her shoulder. “Yes. I can see why.”

She looks at the clock on her dash, realizing that a couple of hours have already gone by since she picked up Cosima. It is more than a little unsettling, how that feels at once like a great deal of time and none at all.

Her thoughts are interrupted by a decidedly loud complaint from Cosima’s stomach.

“Are you hungry, Cosima?” she asks, pointing to a sign on their right. “There is a rest stop just up here.”

“Oh, no, I’m cool,” Cosima says with a dismissive little flick of her hand. “Besides, like I said, kinda really broke, remember? But I could use a bathroom if you want to stop.”

Delphine makes up her mind in an instant.

“We will.” She flicks on her turn signal, moving into the lane. “We will also get you some food.”

Cosima raises her hands in protest. “Hey, no, you’re already saving my ass here. I can’t ask you to do that.”

“You aren’t. I am insisting.”

She looks for a moment as if she’s going to fight it, but then her features shift, taken over by something akin to embarrassment. “Good, ‘cause, I’m actually starving.”

 

~ * ~

 

Delphine is next in line when Cosima gets back from the bathroom. She sidles up close, so quiet in her approach that Delphine isn't alerted to her presence until she feels a gentle palm smooth across her low back. It is soon accompanied by the warm, comfortable press of her against her side - a feeling which, she suspects, would be very easy to get used to. As their turn comes, Cosima steps up to order. In the process of doing so, there is a brief moment when the length of her body brushes Delphine’s front, and her brain, quite without letting her have any input, mutters a fervent 'yes.' Very easy, indeed.

She snaps back to reality as their proximity lessens, though she is still reeling from the series of sensations, and she watches Cosima with renewed attentiveness. It is adorable, she thinks, how her companion braces both hands on the counter, leaning up and squinting at the menu despite her glasses.

Cosima orders a meal, and when the freckled kid at the register asks if that’s all, she hesitates.

“Well, actually, uh…” she turns back to look at her, seeking approval.

“Whatever you want,” Delphine assures her. She feels a strange pull in her chest as the thought comes to her: I wonder when Cosima last ate. She finds herself irrationally angry with this friend, who couldn’t even be bothered to spot her some cash for food. Though it is also possible, she supposes, that this odd, wonderful little woman simply refused. Stubbornness does seem to be one of her finer traits.

Cosima orders an impressive amount of food, for one so small. Delphine is more conservative, having been properly nourished beforehand, but she does allow herself to be talked into ice cream. (She thinks it makes more sense to have it after, but Cosima insists that ice cream waits for no one.)

While their order is being processed, Cosima turns to Delphine with warm, grateful eyes. She places a hand on her shoulder to anchor herself and leans up, stretching on her toes, to press a lingering kiss on her cheek. “Thanks. I’ll be right back – gotta heed the mighty call of ketchup.”

Delphine watches her go, flitting her way through the crowd, with a bizarre sense of longing.

“Wow. She can really pack it away, huh?”

Her eyes return to the kid, who is probably not much older than seventeen. “Hmm? Excuse me?”

“Your girlfriend,” he explains. “Like, where does she put it? She’s tiny.”

“I don’t know,” Delphine mumbles, distracted as her gaze seeks again for Cosima. Then, his words register. “She is not my… We are not together.”

He looks mortified. “Oh, shit, sorry. You just looked – I mean, really? That’s a shame. If that’s not rude or wicked inappropriate of me to say.”

Cosima returns, ketchup and utensils in hand. “What’s not rude?”

The kid beats a hasty retreat, going to grab their meals. Delphine feels a bit bad for him, but her attention is now on the small frame pressing, once more, into her own. We are not together, she thinks, numbly.

“Nothing.”

The response is somewhat belated, and Cosima gives her I-don’t-believe-you eyes. But, as if to save her from another awkward conversation, the kid returns with their order – including the very important ice cream, which is more than adequate as a distraction.

"Mm, yesss," Cosima drawls, and it seems like only half a second before she has a spoonful of it in her mouth, eyes shining bright with pleasure. She starts to walk away, looking for a table, and Delphine is left with no choice but to grab their tray and follow, shaking her head.

The place is ridiculously crowded. It is a wonder that Cosima manages to find them a place to sit at all. She is beginning to think that they will have to eat outside – to tolerate the gasoline smell from the station next door – when at last they find a small table, wedged so close between others that it is hard to squeeze themselves in.

Delphine has not been self-conscious about her height in a very long time, but there are moments when she does feel too damn tall. This is one of them, as she tries to make too-long legs fit into such a restrictive space and ends up completely invading Cosima’s, despite her efforts to the contrary. If it bothers her, however, she doesn’t show it – doesn’t say a thing, actually, as her knees bump into Delphine’s legs every few minutes. It is made all the worse by the fact that Cosima, overflowing with energy, jiggles her legs periodically. The friction is…

Watching Cosima's idle tongue lick ice cream off her spoon, Delphine almost forgets to eat her own. Between that and the ankle curling around hers and rubbing, she begins to wonder if Cosima's actions are intentional. If perhaps she is trying to get a rise out of her – to drive her crazy. But she seems blissful and unaware, focused as she is on her food.

As they sit there together, Delphine is struck, not for the first time, by how it is all strangely familiar. Natural. Domestic. Like this is just an average day for them.

When they begin to eat their actual meals a few minutes later, Cosima fixes her with a cheeky grin. “You really just ordered a salad? Didn’t anyone ever tell you that salad is bor-ing?”

You have a salad also,” Delphine points out, glaring. “And there is chicken on mine.”

“Yeah, but I have fries,” Cosima argues, like it is the ultimate counterpoint. As if to prove its validity, she grabs one from the carton and extends it across the table to her. “Here. One fry won’t kill you, miss Boring Salad.”

It is a strange impulse, but Delphine leans over – doesn’t have to lean very far – and nips off the end, making sure to keep clear of her fingers. All the while her eyes remain focused on Cosima.

Cosima looks at her in response, long and hard.

“Mmm, Dr. Cormier,” she says, at last, “that was sexy.” She pops the remainder of the fry into her own mouth and reaches back into the container. “Want another?”

Delphine gives a hearty laugh. “Oh no, you are not baiting me into that again.”

She is flirting shamelessly now, she knows, but she can’t seem to stop herself. Cosima does not seem keen to stop, either.

With that tongue poking out between her teeth, Cosima chides, “Spoilsport.”

Delphine lowers her gaze, but she cannot silence the grin that spreads across her lips. Her face is beginning to ache from smiling so much, and she can’t even bring herself to mind. Cosima seems to give over to her hunger – tucks into her food with gusto – and is silent for quite some time. Delphine doesn’t mind that either, because it is just as comfortable.

 

 ~ * ~

 

Later, as they are leaving, Cosima’s hand slips easily into hers. Delphine catches the kid’s eyes as they walk past, and his expression repeats: Really?”

They push through the door together, stepping out into the warm afternoon air. It is not quite hot, yet, but the sun’s rays feel intense enough on Delphine’s bare shoulders. A tank top may not have been the best choice, she thinks, but there is sunscreen somewhere in her car. She looks down at her companion, close at her side, and wonders how she isn’t uncomfortable in such a thick-looking sweater.

“Are you feeling better, Cosima?” she asks instead.

“Yeah, I am, thanks.”

There’s that radiant smile again.

After only a slight pause, Cosima adds, “You really know the way to a girl’s heart, don’t you?”

Delphine laughs. It is a little perplexing, but she feels helplessly charmed. “Through her stomach? I thought that was supposed to be men.”

“Nah. Works for girls, too.”

Good to know.

There is something in the sway of Cosima’s hips as she lets go of her hand and approaches the car, in the way she looks over her shoulder and smiles, that makes Delphine’s mouth go dry.

 

~ * ~

 

“A nap?” she asks, incredulous. “We have miles to go still, and you want to stop for a nap?”

Cosima yawns and stretches in her seat, fixing Delphine with a plaintive stare. “Come on. All that food is getting to me. I need to sleep it off.”

“So sleep,” Delphine counters. “I am the one driving.”

She is pouting now, actually pouting, and Delphine is weak. She sighs, turning off the main road as they reach a small park. It is a rest stop of sorts, with picnic benches and a path leading off to a hiking trail. It is nice. It would be a nice place to spend the day, in other circumstances.

“Half an hour,” Delphine insists firmly, as she parks in a shady spot under a large tree. The leaves are billowing in the wind; their gentle rustle is quite calming. Also, it really is a beautiful day. Maybe stopping is not such a bad idea, after all.

After almost a minute of just sitting there, Cosima gives her an expectant look.

“What?”

“Well, I can’t get into the back until you do, can I?”

Delphine’s brain takes a minute to catch up. She wants me to… There is a protest in there somewhere, a ‘we’ll just sleep in our own seats, Cosima,’ but it never finds its way to her lips. Instead, before she knows it, she is climbing obligingly into the back seat of her car, and she arranges herself so that she is spread across the entire space. Cosima joins her a moment later, settling into her lap.

The weight of her – slight as it is – is inexplicably wonderful. Cosima leans back for a moment, her spine lined up with Delphine’s raised thigh, and she reaches for her hands. With both joined and fingers laced, Cosima smiles, her eyes fixed on Delphine’s.

“Anyone ever tell you,” she asks, stretching – arching her back – with a happy little yawn, “that you’re comfy?”

“Perhaps.”

Cosima gives her hands a squeeze. “Mm, should I be jealous?”

Delphine’s stomach does an unsteady flip.

“Of a hypothetical person, when it is you sitting in my lap? No.”

"Good."

Cosima shifts forward, making herself at home on Delphine’s chest. She curls her fingers into her tank top and nuzzles her with her face, as if fluffing a pillow to her liking, and Delphine can’t help but linger on how perfectly their bodies notch together. She wraps an arm around her middle, holding her in place, and thinks, we really do need to keep going.

But Cosima sleeps with ease, and there is no use fighting. So she rests her cheek on the top of Cosima’s head, curls her too-long legs as best she can for comfort, and closes her eyes. With her free hand, she strokes idly at the inside of Cosima’s arm – and is that a shiver?

Either way, they are in that park for much longer than thirty minutes.


~ * ~

 

They’re closing in on San Francisco when Cosima asks to stop again. With just a couple of hours to go, they really shouldn’t. But, all the same, Delphine finds herself shutting the door with a resounding thud behind her. Right now, should and shouldn’t are just so very irrelevant.

Cosima is impossible to resist, it would seem, flowing as she is with such infectious energy. She points out local plant and wildlife with passion befitting a true scientist, explaining their finer details to Delphine and tugging on her arm when she takes too long to look. It fosters an image in her mind of young Cosima, who she suspects was endlessly curious, and her heart surges to see that age doesn't appear to have stripped her of it in the slightest. She is a little envious, but with Cosima’s hand in hers, looking at her with those bright, excited eyes, she thinks that maybe that passion isn’t so far out of her reach anymore. How could she not be inspired, in company like hers?

There is a fence along the edge of the road, overlooking a small beach, and Cosima vaults it with ease unfitting for her size, perching on the top with understated grace. She sits so that her body is facing Delphine, but her neck is craned to the side in order to take in the view. One of her hands rests on the top of the fence, and without giving it much thought at all, Delphine covers it with her own. Their fingers twine together.

“It is beautiful,” Delphine remarks, looking out at the ocean. The crashing waves glisten in the sunlight, their distant roar filtering up to them on the wind. It is peaceful. She feels peaceful.

Cosima turns to look at her, holding her gaze with a lazy grin. “Yeah. It is.”

“You are looking at me,” Delphine points out. Her throat feels oddly thick.

Cosima tilts her head. Her stare does not waver.

“Yeah,” she says evenly. “I am.”

It feels a little bit like there is no air left to breathe, which is just absurd. But as Cosima shifts, bringing one hand up to rest on her shoulder, and angles up to her, Delphine thinks that it really doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things.

Heart hammering a cacophony in her chest, Delphine begins to close the gap. Except Cosima slides down without warning, ducking out from under her in the same motion. She is left sputtering, hands gripping the fence, utterly confused about the abrupt change of direction. Cosima has not gone far, though she is starting to make her way down a sand dune, when she turns to look back. Delphine meets her eyes, questioning: Have I misunderstood? How could that be?

Cosima’s answering grin is wide and playful. “Bet you can’t catch me!”

Delphine watches her for a moment, still a touch disoriented, before the muscles in her legs rise to the challenge, releasing like a coiled spring and launching her after Cosima with far greater speed. She is taller, faster, and damn determined, and it isn’t long before she catches up.

They have made their way down to the beach proper – it is mostly empty, still too soon for actual swimming – when she overtakes Cosima, curling a long arm around her midsection.

Victoire, she thinks with a grin. You are mine now.

Cosima’s laugh is rowdy, filling the vacant beach with sound, and she struggles bodily in Delphine’s grasp. Even as she does, Delphine trails soft kisses across her neck. It draws delightful, high-pitched giggles from Cosima (amid half-hearted protests of "hey! stop!"), and her arms loosen as she dedicates herself to mapping sensitive skin.

This gives Cosima a chance at escape, and she swivels, lifting her hands to Delphine’s shoulders as if to push her away. The push, however, becomes a desperate clutch as her foot catches in a hollow in the sand, and they are tumbling to the ground before either can try to compensate.

Cosima takes the brunt of the impact, but the sand is not as hard-packed here as it is elsewhere on the beach. Delphine finds herself spread out on top of her, knees digging in on either side of her legs and her palms doing the same by Cosima’s head. The sand is warm, she notes absently, as she curls her fingers through the fine grains.

“You okay?” she asks, concerned more for her head than anything else.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Cosima replies, nodding. Her head moves a bit from side to side, trying to assess the situation. “I think we, uh, fell on some kid’s sandcastle, actually.”

A jolt of laughter chokes its way from Delphine’s throat, because of course they did. She shakes her head. How very appropriate indeed.

Her teeth tug at her lower lip as she sobers, and she lets her eyes drift back down to Cosima.

And there’s that feeling again.

She is beautiful, Delphine thinks breathlessly. Beautiful and wonderful, and how is it that she has only been in her life for a mere fraction of a day?

Cosima is searching her eyes, delving for something – what, exactly, Delphine doesn’t know – but whatever it is, she seems to find it.

She cranes her neck up, and in a motion that is achingly slow, presses a featherlight kiss to Delphine’s lips. She is tentative, careful not to offend, and it is over much too soon.

“If this isn’t cool,” Cosima begins, and there is something in her low, gentle tone that shakes Delphine, “just tell me.”

There are a lot of questions that should arise, a lot of protestations that should find their way to her lips, but Delphine remains resolute in her silence. Because she wants this, wants Cosima – she is a little taken aback, actually, by how much – and she is terrified that if she speaks, the moment will be carried away on the gentle breeze.

So she answers, instead, with a kiss. It begins slow, building as they gain confidence, and the press of their lips becomes firmer, their kisses ever more demanding. Cosima pulls away and comes back at a different angle for yet another. As they meet again, Delphine’s mouth opens into it, and her entire body is wracked by a marvelous tremor as Cosima’s tongue traces her own for the first time.

And suddenly, even pressed this close, it is not enough.

Delphine had allowed herself to sink low, with her arms resting on the ground, but now she rises, once more supporting her weight on her palms. It causes her to lose Cosima’s mouth for one negligent moment, but it is – for now – an acceptable sacrifice. With deliberate motions she shifts one knee at a time, so that they are nudged between Cosima’s legs instead of framing them. Then she hovers there momentarily, staring down into heavy-lidded eyes.

Cosima reaches a trembling hand up to the back of her neck. She puts gentle but insistent pressure there, trying to guide Delphine back down to her, and parts her thighs wider to accommodate lowering hips. Cosima mewls desperately into the next kiss, ardent tongue meeting her stroke for stroke, and Delphine’s voice rises to answer, pulling from her throat in a sharp rasp. She gasps for breath between kisses that are messier now than purposeful, but no less insatiable in their fervor.

This is crazy, a voice in Delphine’s head insists, even as Cosima’s legs clutch tight around her and she rolls her hips, grinding her down into the sad remnants of the sandcastle. But the voice is smothered by desire, by the impulses that drive her to do things she has never done – has never thought of doing, until now. Biology, it would seem, trumps logic.

Her right hand snakes between them, finding the hem of Cosima’s sweater and pushing it up. Delphine laughs against her lips: she has nothing on beneath the sweater, except for a bra. Of course. She scratches her nails lightly across Cosima’s stomach, loving the little appreciative sounds she makes. She loves those sounds almost as much as the mournful whimper that Cosima lets out as she manages to tear her mouth away, descending to kiss taut skin. Her hands work the clasp of her bra open without difficulty, and she bites at the curve of a small, firm breast.

She is happily laving Cosima’s nipple with her tongue when the loud clearing of a throat startles her eyes open. There is an old man standing a few feet away from them, poised there with his arms crossed over his chest and his lip curled in disdain. Further in the distance she can see a younger woman holding her hand over a little boy's eyes, and were her brain not so muddled right now, she might piece together that he is the creator of the destroyed castle beneath them.

Cosima rolls her head back into the sand, looking at the man upside down. Her voice is exceptionally husky, but still calm, as she asks, “Can we help you with something?”

He doesn’t speak so much as hiss the words, “There are children here, you know.”

Cosima looks supremely unimpressed.

“I see that. What’s your point?”

“It’s indecent!”

As she lies there, it's painful how difficult it is not to laugh at the absurdity of the situation: she is actually giving serious consideration to whether he would find it more or less indecent for her to remove her mouth from Cosima’s breast. But the longer they remain in this bizarre tableau, the funnier it becomes. That her first time with a woman – nearly her first time with a woman – should be interrupted by a crotchety old man who has taken it upon himself, on the behalf of concerned heterosexuals everywhere, to stop their indecency... it's just too much.

She lets out a rather undignified snort, unable to hold in her amusement any longer. Her shoulders are shaking with silent laughter, and the little smack from Cosima does nothing to sober her.

Which, naturally, only makes the man’s righteous indignation worse.

"You think this is funny, do you?” he snarls.

Yes, she nearly wheezes. She tries to make her eyes say no – tries to put on her best ‘I’m sorry’ face – but the simple fact is that it is very difficult (maybe even impossible) to look penitent with your mouth wrapped around someone’s nipple.

It is natural instinct, when she is uncomfortable, to chew her lip. But, as she is unable to do so now, she finds herself sinking her teeth into Cosima’s breast without meaning to, which elicits a loud yelp and a less-gentle smack.

The man makes a disgusted face and turns back to his daughter – presumably to share in a disbelieving, non-verbal dialogue of 'Do you see what these filthy lesbians are doing?' – and she takes that opportunity to detach her mouth from Cosima and yank her sweater back into place. Perhaps now she can at least save herself from some of this man’s unfounded rage.

Why is he not leaving? She wonders, not quite able to believe it. There would never be nonsense like this in France. In France, she would have two fingers knuckle-deep in Cosima right now. She is more than a little irked and still so painfully aroused.

But perhaps he is a masochist, because he does not budge.

“Look, dude,” Cosima begins, waiting for him to turn back around. She makes a sweeping gesture with her hand. “There’s literally a whole empty beach here. Would you mind? I’m kinda getting laid – or, y’know, I was. Which, rude, by the way.”

He scoffs. “And what gives you the right to…?”

Cosima seems to have had enough, because when she speaks, her tone is no-nonsense. “No, seriously, man. Just because you have a tiny shriveled old dick and can’t get you some, doesn’t mean I should have to suffer. I mean,” she breaks off, gesturing in Delphine’s direction, “look at her. Can you blame me?”

The laugh that tears itself from Delphine’s throat is ridiculously loud, and she ducks her head into Cosima’s sweater to try to stifle it. It isn’t helping.

“Why, you little…” He can’t seem to find an adequate word for her insolence. His brain, Delphine thinks, trying not to laugh again, is probably as tiny and shriveled as his dick.

When he still doesn’t move, Cosima raises her hand above her head and flicks some sand in his direction, as if to add insult to injury – as if he were some seagull, trying to poach her fries.

It is ludicrous; Delphine is dying.

The man sputters.

For good measure, Cosima flicks a bit more sand. “Beat it!”

At last, they’ve won. He walks away grumbling, and they manage to hold in the bulk of their laughter until he is out of earshot. Then it roars out of them, their bodies wracking with the force of it, until their sides hurt.

It is several long minutes before they can manage to calm themselves. Delphine focuses for a whole minute on just breathing, nuzzling her cheek into Cosima’s chest. She should not be comfortable here, maybe, but she is. She closes her eyes and breathes her in, enjoying the pliant softness of her. She makes a very good pillow.

“The mood is ruined, isn’t it?" Cosima asks, running her fingers through Delphine’s hair.

“I am afraid so,” Delphine agrees. Still, all the same, she climbs higher up Cosima’s body until she is hovering at eye level.

Cosima’s fingers drum on her shoulders. “That’s a real shame, y’know. This could’ve been a great story to tell your friends.”

“I think it still is,” Delphine says softly. Time seems to drag, to grow hazy around the edges, as she stares down into Cosima’s bright eyes. Everything about this day has been wonderfully insane, and all she wants is for it to last.

She thinks of her friends – what would they say, if she were to show up on their doorstep with Cosima by her side? Matt would say something along the lines of Wow. Congrats on getting some” and Jenna, well, she's the type to point out that you don’t just date the woman you pick up on the side of the road (in particular when you’ve never even been interested in women before).

Who cares what they think? She closes the distance between herself and Cosima, drawing her into a slow, tender kiss. She has never felt so alive, and that has to count for something, doesn’t it? The way Cosima presses up into her, curls fingers at the back of her neck to hold her there, and guides her deeper into the kiss with each pass of their lips – that’s real. Who cares if it’s crazy? No one ever said that life had to be sane.

They do, however, need to go. San Francisco is close, but the day is waning fast.

She pulls away – only just – and breathes, “Come.” She feels Cosima shiver against her – feels fingers dig bluntly into her neck – and it takes every ounce of her willpower to continue. “We should get going now.”

They rise with some difficulty, and Delphine feels rather stiff. They are both absolutely covered in sand, and it takes a great deal of brushing and patting themselves to shake even some of it loose. Perhaps intimacy on a beach is not the smartest plan… But when Cosima takes a playful swipe at her, it soon becomes a game, and they are laughing again as they rain gentle smacks on each other, stumbling and tripping their way back to the car. If anyone saw them, they would probably think they looked drunk. Or, at least, more than a little giddy.

When they reach their destination, Cosima stops with her back to the Mercedes. She winds her arms slowly around Delphine’s neck, drawing her in close. Delphine curls her own arms around Cosima’s waist, pulling them flush together, and buries her face in her neck. She noses into the space behind Cosima’s ear, reveling in her.

The hug lasts for a long time, warm and comfortable.

Cosima pulls back just enough to meet her gaze with keen eyes. She makes a sound somewhere between a ‘hum’ and an ‘mmm.’ It seems Delphine is not the only one still burning, because she asks, “Would it be tacky to drag you into the back seat and have my way with you?”

“Tacky?” Delphine tests the word. It sounds strange coming from her lips. “No. But also not very conducive to getting you home.”

She immediately wishes she hadn’t said it, when Cosima deflates and her ever-present smile fades.

“Oh, that. Right.”

For a long moment – much too long – her gaze doesn’t quite meet Delphine’s. Then she looks back up, and her eyes have that strange clarity again. She says, softly, “Being with you just… feels right.”

“It does,” Delphine agrees. She doesn’t know how to properly explain it, how to put it into any words that could do it justice, but somehow Cosima… feels like home.

“It feels like…” Cosima pauses, sliding one hand down to rest at Delphine’s clavicle. Her fingers trace indiscriminate patterns on her skin, raising goosebumps in their wake. “It feels like we were always together, you know – in a different reality, or life, or whatever. Does that make sense?”

“Perhaps,” Delphine says. She has never thought of such things before; she has never had any reason before. She brings her hand up to cover Cosima’s, to lift it up to her lips, and kisses her knuckles. “If there were another me, she would be very foolish not to be with you.”

It brings the grin back to Cosima’s lovely face, and for that, she is glad.

A stupid, crazy idea comes into her mind as she stares into those eyes.

“We could…”

Cosima’s gaze is hopeful. “What?”

“It is getting late, we could…” she trails off, thinking of the logistics. Jenna will be so angry. “There is a very nice hotel, not far from here. We could get a room – stay the night.”

It’s worth it, she thinks, worth every bit of her best friend’s ire, to see that hungry look Cosima gives her, and to hear her tone grow mischievous once more.

“Mmm, and get some room service. On you, of course, Dr. Cormier – because I am still totally broke. But,” she steals a hand down to Delphine’s backside, sliding it into the pocket of her jeans, “I could make it up to you.”

It is a fair exchange, Delphine muses, more than happy to accept the kiss that follows.

“I would like that, very much.”

 

~ * ~

 

They’ve just finished eating when Delphine’s cell phone starts buzzing irritably. Merde, she thinks, as she reads the caller ID. It isn’t like she’s surprised, but she had sort of hoped to avoid this conversation until the morning. She gives Cosima an apologetic glance and makes for the sliding glass door to the balcony, relishing the cool evening air as she presses her Blackberry to her ear.

“Hello?”

“Where the hell are you? I thought you’d be here an hour ago.”

So did I. Delphine turns back to look at Cosima, who flits about their room cleaning up after dinner and arranging some of their stuff. She tosses a grin at Delphine as she unzips her bag, laying out one of her dress shirts. She is not at all prepared to see Cosima divest herself of both sweater and bra, opting for the shirt instead. Nor for the way she only bothers to do up two buttons at her chest, just enough to keep the garment on and no more. Or, for that matter, for her pants to follow a moment later.

She has a very nice backside.

“Hello? Delphine? Are you still there?”

Oh, yes. Jenna. She just about forgot.

“Yes. I’m sorry – something came up.” Cosima moves over to the nightstand and begins to methodically remove her host of bracelets and rings, and Delphine can almost feel her synapses fire hotly with the knowledge of a very precise reason that she should be doing so. She loses herself in the thought for almost a whole minute before she concludes, “I have been… delayed.”

“What, like traffic?”

Delphine rakes a hand through her hair, already mussed impossibly, and sighs. Jenna will learn the truth one way or another… “No. I met someone.”

“Seriously? I’m supposed to accept that my best friend’s not here to help with wedding prep because… what, you met some guy at a taco bell or something?”

She frowns. Her hand, once again, jerks restlessly in her hair. Cosima meets her eyes, tilts her head, and mouths, 'everything okay?'

C'est difficile – I’m sorry – it’s difficult to explain. It’s… complicated.”

Cosima must sense the extent of her discomfiture, because she wanders over, tucking herself into Delphine’s side and leaning up for a kiss.

“Who is that? Your family?”

She shakes her head. “No. It’s my friend. The one I mentioned?”

“Hey, who are you talking to? Is that him?”

She isn’t quite sure what to say to that, so she settles for, “In a manner of speaking.”

“What the hell does that mean? Just, put him on the phone.”

Delphine narrows her eyes. That sounds like a horrible idea. “Why would I…?”

“Because I want to have a word with the jerk who’s holding you up.”

Cosima must be able to hear Jenna’s irritated voice, because she raises her eyebrows. Delphine makes an apologetic face.

“I don’t think…”

Cosima takes the phone and puts it on speaker. “Hey, uh, Jenna.. is it?”

Jenna’s intake of breath is audible. Her voice is edging toward furious as she asks, “Who the hell is this? Is this a joke? It’s not enough to not give a shit about my wedding; you have to prank me too?”

Of all the ways to introduce the two of them, this is absolutely not what Delphine wanted. She hates to think that this might foster dislike for one another – under better circumstances, she thinks they could get on quite well.

Cosima opts for an apologetic, pacifying tone. “My name’s Cosima. I’m really sorry about this; it is totally my fault. I needed a ride, and Delphine was just helping me out…”

“So, you’re telling me you’re gay now – is that it? Since when?” Then, after a beat, sounding slightly hurt, she adds, “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

Delphine sighs. It feels like there is nothing else she can do. “I said it was complicated. Listen, I promise we will be there tomorrow, and I will make it up to you.”

“You had better. Oh, and, I really hope the sex is worth it.”

Jenna hangs up, and Delphine takes in a deep breath. Cosima is shaking her head. “Well she’s… kind of a bitch.”

It’s a bit unfair, but also a bit true. “She is just stressed, and I was supposed to be there for her.”

“Guess that’s my fault, huh?”

“I chose to stop, remember?” Delphine points out. It elicits a grin from Cosima, and they share another slow, lingering kiss. Her heart begins to thunder in her ears, and the words 'I hope the sex is worth it,' repeat in her mind. Her hands sneak beneath the open dress shirt, finding Cosima’s bare hips. For a woman so small, she is surprisingly curvy. “Do you still…? I would understand if you didn’t, after that…”

Cosima’s grin is wide, all white teeth and sharp canines. “Wild horses couldn’t stop me.”

Again, with the English idioms. She is far too worked up to remember how that translates. “Wild..?”

Arms fold around her neck. “Just kiss me.”

They make their way toward the bed, blind as they kiss, not caring for the world that it makes the journey more difficult. The backs of Delphine’s legs collide with the bed a moment later, and she sits gracefully on the edge, pulling Cosima down into her lap. They part so that Cosima can first shirk the button-down, yanking Delphine’s tank top over her head as soon as she’s done. Working in tandem, Delphine reaches behind herself to undo her own bra, while Cosima stands back up, hands reaching for her belt. Jeans slide down the length of her legs and are discarded without even a hint of concern for their well-being.

Cosima stands there for a moment, her eyes searing across newly exposed skin. Delphine feels oddly self-conscious, but she stares back all the same.

When Cosima sinks to her knees, a low groan builds in her throat with the understanding of what she means to do. As the anticipation builds, gentle fingers hook in the waistband of her underwear and pull. She is laid bare, in every sense; if she could see her own face, she is certain it would be riddled with hope and desire. Delphine would never have thought to ask Cosima for this, but she will accept whatever she is willing to give. She is so very far past fighting.

Cosima props her arms on Delphine’s thighs, reaching one hand up to smooth across her stomach.

“Lie back,” she says, gently, and Delphine complies. Cosima’s hand slips into one of hers, and she grips with sudden ferocity as soft lips waste no time finding the inside of her thigh. Her head lolls back on the sheets, and a hoarse groan tears itself from her throat a moment later, with the sensation of Cosima’s first suckling kiss.

The fingers of her free hand dig into the mattress, and her hips lift up to Cosima’s expert mouth.

Oh, it has been too long.

Cosima’s head begins to bob subtly between her legs, dreadlocks tickling as they brush her thighs, and her hips find a natural rhythm, rolling to meet her. Cosima is a gracious lover, she thinks, to put her pleasure first, and oh, she is so good at this. Delphine finds herself desperately needy, spreading her thighs wider, beckoning her deeper.

Pleasure coils low in her belly, building embarrassingly fast. The muscles in her stomach grow taut as she arches her spine, her painted nails biting into the back of Cosima’s hand, and her world consists, for untold minutes, of nothing but a deft, keenly stroking tongue.

Air passes her lips in short, jolting bursts, and too soon she can feel herself beginning to come loose.

Merde,” she hisses, her thighs clutching tight around Cosima’s head.

Her mind exults; her body unravels.

Her orgasm rocks through her like a jagged pulse, white-hot and sharp. She keens, bucking – once, twice – and then lies still, allowing it to wash over her. She has no concept of how much time passes before her eyes finally open, but Cosima is there, looking down at her with tender eyes and an affectionate smile. She looks different, without her glasses, but still so very beautiful.

“How was that?” she asks gently, smoothing back Delphine’s wild hair.

I can’t breathe, Delphine thinks, and answers with a haphazard kiss, too dazed for eloquence. When Cosima’s tongue swirls into her gasping mouth, the pulse echoes under her skin and she whimpers, clutching at slim shoulders. She has never been so utterly undone.

Cosima guides her back down to Earth with gentle, steadying kisses and a softly-caressing thumb on the hard line of her jaw. Her mouth is undemanding, but she does not pause for any real length of time – she continues to meanderingly explore Delphine’s kiss, to tease and suck and nip at every angle of her lips, as if each is a new and glorious discovery of its own.

Slowly, Delphine’s forgotten hunger is stoked, is coaxed into a restless flame, and she surges into the kiss, takes hold, searing her mouth – wide and wanton – to Cosima’s, her tongue staking claim. Cosima mewls in surprise as Delphine rises, like a powerful lioness holding her in her clutches, and lifts her full off the bed. Delphine shifts on her knees, moving to settle them back against the headboard, and eases Cosima – with wide eyes and hopelessly dilated pupils – down into her lap. Cosima is burning and slick against Delphine’s skin, and distantly, she wonders when her underwear came off.

“That was hot,” Cosima pants, when they part, still close enough to share a breath. Delphine husks a laugh that sounds faintly like a low growl, and brushes her nose against Cosima’s.

You are hot.”

“Then I guess,” Cosima replies, kissing her flushed lips soundly, “we’re even.”

Her words fall away to tremulous little cries, to sporadic ‘hums’ and ‘mmm’s, as Delphine snakes a hand down to the juncture of her thighs and begins to touch. It is not inherently all that different, she thinks, to touch another woman this way – it is different, yes, the angle and the lack of accompanying sensation, but still familiar. It is not touching a woman that gives her any sense of uncertainty; rather, it is not knowing Cosima’s body that restrains her, as she eases questing fingers inside of her, thumb parsing out an adequate rhythm on her clit.

Cosima’s hands come up to curl around the strong arc of her neck, and her hips begin to rock, riding the motion of Delphine’s thrusts, gently guiding her toward what she needs. Delphine thinks she isn’t doing it exactly right, but it also doesn’t seem to take much. Cosima’s hips give a violent twitch at every firm circling of her thumb on raw nerves, and she makes a glorious, high whining sound as Delphine’s teeth find her jaw, fingers stroking deep.

She is growing frantic; she is, Delphine knows instinctively, almost there.

Cosima’s cry is mournful, as her fingers slip out and away.

“Hey,” she says, voice strained and eyes heavy-lidded. “You okay? I thought we were cool?”

“We are.”

“Then can you…?” Cosima trails off, giving her wrist a desperate tug. “Please? I don’t want to pressure you, but I was getting really close.”

Delphine grins, slow and heady, and sinks down to a better angle. She wraps both hands around the firm backs of Cosima’s thighs and begins to pull.

Cosima whimpers. “Oh, Delphine, you don’t have to. Seriously, just a bit more…”

“Have to? No.” Delphine fixes her with a predatory stare. “But I want to.”

It is all the encouragement Cosima needs. Delphine guides her up, holding her steady with a tight grip on her thighs, and makes no ado about it at all. Her mouth seeks and finds where she is needed most, her tongue mimicking earlier movements as best she can – it’s not perfect, she knows, but Cosima is on the edge, hands fisted in her hair, mewling with increased urgency, and it is enough.

Her pace is relentless, building Cosima back up quickly, and Delphine is gratified by how hard she comes crashing down. Her mouth continues its fervent sucking, even as one of her hands slides up the curve of Cosima’s backside to cradle her bowing spine, tongue rolling to the beat of riotously jerking hips.

It is a new experience, and utterly wonderful, to be pleasuring Cosima in this way: settling to gentle, lingering strokes – soothing her until she stills – until her forceful grip on Delphine’s hair lessens to a lazy, half-hearted tug.

Cosima slackens and releases. Delphine guides her back down, until her slight frame is pillowed on her own and cradled in her arms. They are still for some time, merely holding each other close.

Cosima is precious, she thinks, tightening her grip just so, but not fragile. She seems vulnerable, a little bird trapped in the cat’s clutches, but as she trails kisses along Delphine’s jaw – nips at the softness under her chin, moves up to lick furtively into her too-willing mouth – Delphine thinks that all of the power is with her. It has been, since the moment they met. She is giddy with it, with giving herself over to this woman she hardly knows, but she clings tighter all the same. She is a fool, falling desperately, and this moment is fleeting. Perhaps, if she just holds on, Cosima won’t soar away on the wind.

She is mortified to find that there is a tear stealing its way down her cheek, an uncharacteristic, soft mewl escaping her lips, and Cosima pulls back, looking down at Delphine with concern etched in her gentle features.

“Hey,” she whispers, “what’s wrong? Was it too much?”

Delphine buries her face in the crook between Cosima’s neck and shoulder, breathing her in. She tries, in the wake of the impossible – the somehow intolerably heavy – to keep afloat. You’ve only just met her. Don’t be silly.

“Not enough.”

Never enough, probably. How did this happen?

Cosima’s hand smooths her hair again, fingers combing through the errant strands, and her lips find Delphine’s forehead with naked tenderness.

“What’s not?”

Her other hand idly reaches for one of Delphine’s, whispering delicate promises with her fingertips that Delphine can only hope are real – that they aren’t just the slipstream drifting by.

She has a distinct feeling that Cosima knows exactly what, sees it in those marvelous, intelligent eyes of hers, but maybe some things just need to be spoken.

Je serai tienne,” Delphine breathes, falling back on her own language, because somehow English just does not encompass the scope of her desires. I will be yours. If she asks — if she wants

“Mm. Yeah,” Cosima agrees, shocking Delphine to her core. “Aren’t you already?”

Oui,” Delphine laughs, sliding her fingers into the spaces between Cosima’s. She knows that Cosima understands, but all the same, she repeats, “Yes. If you want.”

Cosima settles on her chest, eyes closed. “Of course. You think I sleep with just anyone who gives me a ride, feeds me, and offers me a bed? It’s not every day, you know, that hot doctors with Teslas decide to sweep me off my feet… And mack on me in front of old geezers.”

Delphine laughs again, laughs for what feels like the thousandth time. She feels dizzy and unsettled, but she is relieved. There will be difficulties, of course, but after the day she’s had, anything feels possible. Probable. Doable. The reward is more than worth the risk.

“Cosima?”

Cosima lifts her head, meeting her gaze again. “Yes?”

“How do you feel… about weddings?”

“I think,” she says, with a lopsided grin, “that you’re maybe coming on a bit too strong, Dr. Cormier, even if I did just blow your mind with awesome sex.” She glows with mirth, and her tongue pokes between her teeth. “I’m gonna need some wining-and-dining first. Maybe an Eskimo Pie or two. Oh, and I am definitely going to need to get you totally baked.”

Yes. Yes to all of those things.

Delphine swats her. “Brat.” Cosima’s feigned hurt is not particularly effective, but it is adorable. “I am not proposing. My friends – the ones I am visiting – the whole reason I was supposed to be coming here? You know this. They are getting married… and I do not have a date.”

Cosima grins. “You do now.”

Thank god, Dephine thinks fervently, for the scenic route.

 

~ * ~

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