Everything's Fine When You're Lying


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Scene Title Everything's Fine When You're Lying
Synopsis Wright comes home from triage at Eve's misbegotten rave.
Date October 24, 2020

Phoenix Heights, Wright and Marthe’s apartment

October 24, 2020

Wright stands in the hallway of her apartment building, steadying her breath in the dim lights of the stairwell. Her hand grips her motorcycle helmet like a vise. She reaches to stream Elliot’s sensations automatically. She only drops it when his pain, even dulled by medication, makes it difficult to concentrate.

She knows he’s okay, that he’s going to be okay, but she tests the link over and over. Assures herself that their link hasn’t been plucked from her mind. Another reminder is Elliot’s own blossoms of anxiety which echo in the vast space between them. Panic, test, Are you still there? and I’m here.

It’s been so long since their link was formed that Wright can barely remember what it was like to live without it. The link is older than Ames, older than her marriage. Though barely a week older than the day she met Marthe.

Elliot’s moment of unconsciousness after the blast was nearly enough to overwhelm her by itself. That darkness, so like the—No.

When the wall went up it was the first time she’d been truly alone in nine years. The animal panic was immediate, thinking about it now results in more embarrassment than anxiety. Melody saw me, she thinks. That wasn’t what dropping a link is supposed to look like. Almost no one knows that it’s—Don’t spiral into it.

She chastises herself. Feels the flutter of Elliot’s awareness against her own. I’m here. It makes her sick that she wants to leave to sit beside him while Ames and Marthe are mere feet away from her. Ethereal. Oscillate. Ochre. I know, I know. But she can’t.

But between there and here there’s only the intrusive memories of triage and trauma. She lets out a sad sound before she can clamp a hand over her mouth. She stands before her door, shaking to contain that heartbroken helplessness, tears running over her hand.

When the door to her apartment opens and she sees Marthe, another cry escapes her. But then Marthe is holding her tightly, reaching up between her arms, around her back, to direct her head down to her shoulder. “It’s okay,” Marthe tells her, “It’s okay. You’re safe.”

Wright wraps her arms around her wife, annoyed by the soft crinkle of her leather jacket and how her helmet gets in the way of the hug. But she’s grateful, and when Marthe holds her she’s here for it. She cries softly for a while, but it’s fading to stuttering breaths when the door just down the hall opens. Their small, elderly neighbor Mrs. Hon leans out with a worried look, but when Wright laughs away the last of the tears in embarrassment Mrs. Hon merely blows them a kiss and waves dismissively as she closes the door.

“Come on,” Marthe whispers, disengaging from Wright to take the helmet from her hand as she leads them into their home. “Ames is still asleep.”

Wright closes the door quietly and hangs her jacket on the wooden peg rack mounted beside it. Marthe’s backpack, the one she takes with her when she’s volunteering at a hospital, leans against the wall. The apartment smells like coffee. Marthe motions to the carafe and Wright nods before walking into the living room and dropping herself onto the couch. When Marthe joins her with the cup of coffee she takes it, holds it in both hands, but doesn’t drink. Marthe settles onto the couch beside her.

“It was a day,” Marthe observes. The default ‘I saw some grizzly shit’ deflection they’ve been using since the early days of the war. It’s a joke now, not a way to say ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ though the invitation remains to leave it there. Wright lets out a silent laugh and considers saying Yeah but just shakes her head and raises an eyebrow. Sighs.

Marthe reaches for her hand, and she leans forward to set the mug down on the coffee table, currently home only to a stack of Ames’ drawings and an open Royal Dansk cookie tin full of markers and crayons. She takes the offered hand and relaxes as her wife sidles in closer.

“It was really bad,” is all Wright can muster at first, a whisper. Marthe’s fingers flex in her grasp, cold against the warmth from the coffee mug. “I couldn’t get in and I felt so useless. I heard the first three bombs go off and—And before I could even grab my medic kit there was this wall that cut us off from everyone inside. Just this massive green block. No light, no sounds, it was like everyone had just been scooped out of the ground and disappeared.”

Marthe doesn’t interject, but she runs her thumb over Wright’s as a reminder that she’s listening. “When it went up it was like somebody cut—” but she stops, swallows. “I had a panic attack in front of Melody, the new Hound. She tried to raise the rest of the team on the radio but the frequency was dead. Nothing in or out, nothing, no—Eventually I got my shit under control and we got through to local dispatch. Then it was just waiting in silence for help. My first operation back and I felt so fucking useless.”

“The wall came down eventually and I was so relieved, I could—” she stops again. “Apparently the wall was an Expressive ability which reset everything to the state it was in at the time that the wall went up, so several people came back from the dead.” She shakes her head like she still doesn’t believe it, though she’s replayed Elliot’s memory of the event several times.

“But still so many dead, so many wounded, and whoever did it is in the wind. At least I could—I could help. But the injuries were some of the worst I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t prepared.”

She sniffs quietly and Marthe squeezes her hand as fresh tears fall from her eyes. “If you hadn’t been there, if you had been inside whatever, wall, and the radio was dead, you couldn’t have called for emergency services and it would have been a lot worse,” Marthe says. “Every minute counts, you know that. And it wasn’t your job to heal people, just to stabilize them for as long as possible.”

Wright just nods, presses her thumb and index finger to the bridge of her nose. “Yeah,” she says. She turns her eyes up to Marthe’s and manages a sad smile. “I love you.”

“I love you too. I’m so happy you’re safe,” Marthe says, and she leans in to kiss Wright deeply. Wright pulls her in close, hungry for the contact. Unsatisfied, she reaches an arm under her wife and scoops her up, depositing the shorter woman in her lap.

Wright runs her hands through Marthe’s hair, kneads at her back, runs her hands from her hips up over her ribs. Barely breaking from the kisses long enough to breathe. But then Marthe settles into her, rests her head on Wright’s shoulder and wraps her in a tight hug. Breathing heavily with relief from the anxiety of waiting. After a minute she pulls herself back, and Wright feels guilty when she wants to hold onto her instead. To be with her here, now.

“Are you leaving?” Wright asks.

“Yes, shortly,” Marthe responds, face flushed, eyes still clinging to tears of happiness. “I called in to volunteer right after you called me.”

“Elliot’s at Elmhurst,” Wright says quietly. When Marthe stills Wright tries to explain rapidly, anxiously. “He was injured in the blast. His arm is broken but he should be fine. I thought I lost— When the wall came down my—” Wright feels the mistake well before she’s done talking but she tries, unsuccessfully, to soldier past it. When Marthe’s hand stops squeezing the back of her neck she regrets it immediately.

Marthe doesn’t respond, but Wright can feel her wife’s head shake, even with her eyes closed, in their proximity. Hears her short sigh. Don’t do this right now. She feels her wife’s hand slip from hers as she stands, and Wright reaches for her but doesn’t try to grab her or hold her back.

“I wasn’t going to—” Marthe says, but she’s shaking her head and she continues anyway. “You told him to call me? You had time but you told him to call me instead of calling me yourself?”

“Everything was so confusing, I did call you,” Wright says helplessly.

“You called me an hour ago,” Marthe says in a harsh whisper. “Five hours I waited for you to call me.”

“No, I—” but Wright can’t say it. She's incapable of talking about it.

“I only married one of you,” Marthe says. “I only love one of you. I want to talk to you, not him. I want to talk about us, not him. When you’re here you have to be here for me. You promised me.”

“I know,” Wright whispers, eyes closed. She hears Marthe sigh in frustration.

“We can talk more when I get back,” Marthe says, shaking her head as she moves to the door. Wright looks into her face and watches as the carefully maintained denial sets back in.

“No we can’t,” Wright says, louder than she means to. Marthe stops, meets her eyes. “You won’t let me.” She worries she sounds petulant and looks at Marthe through misty eyes. “I can’t just talk around—”

The phone hasn't rang in years, surely the Lock will hold when Marthe already knows but chooses not to remember. She takes in a breath that feels like the beginning of a sob, but she manages to just whisper, “Please don’t make me lie to you anymore. You have to know what this is doing to me.”

That comment sits in the coldest silence Wright can remember between them in the last year. When the door closes she can’t keep the rest of the sob in.

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