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Scene Title Hitched
Synopsis Merlyn checks in on Marthe in the wake of the kidnapping.
Date July 3, 2021

The apartment complex that Wright's family has called home for the past few years is unimpressive. If anything, what stands out most is the fact that it maintained its forgettable ordinariness throughout a civil war and nearly a decade since. The paint isn't badly scuffed, though it doesn't appear to have been painted this century. The treads on the stairs are worn but the pattern in the carpet is still visible in the tracks people have left over time.

The last time Merlyn was in Elliot's life, all the people who now live in the apartment across the hall from the stairwell lived in the townhouse she now shares with her husband. A cheaper place in a cramped neighborhood, but a home that anybody would be grateful for with options limited by the lottery.

It's quiet this morning, though other footfalls echo up and down the stairwell. Conversation can be heard through doors, but there are no raised voices. It feels muted; oddly reserved. The place where Ames lives should be so much louder.

Marthe and Wright's Apartment
Phoenix Heights

Saturday, July 3rd

The quiet stillness of everything punctuates the absence of Ames, hitting Merlyn a little more deeply than she might have liked to admit to anyone, much less herself. She settles herself in front of the door, inhaling deeply before she sets about with a soft knock. Loud enough to be heard, but she's not trying to disturb much of anyone or anything here. She is, after all, certain that there's a lot of emotion dwelling within the silence.

The door is answered softly a moment later, opening wide into a space that should be clamorous with misbehavior at this hour. Marthe looks haggard but hides her dread behind fastidious grooming. She smiles when she sees Merlyn, an honest thing that surprises her. "Hi," she says hoarsely at first before clearing her throat. "Welcome, come on in." She sighs as she waves her guest inside, an acknowledgement that this isn't a typical house call.

The apartment smells like good coffee, and the kitchen at least is spotless. The living room shows all the signs of a child who hadn't had time to put away every single one of her belongings before being picked up from the house. Marthe hasn't touched any of the debris, as though waiting for Ames to be delivered safely home at any moment only to find out she didn't escape justice.

There's a small smile of greeting, polite, and Merlyn nods to Marthe even as she's unsure how to fully proceed. As she's welcomed inside, she steps through the door, politely moving to the side. The house call certainly is an atypical one, but it's one which she's hoping won't be entirely awkward. "How are you holding up?" She asks, genuine concern offered in her tone. "Wright told me you'd just got off a long shift."

"Seventy-two hours," Marthe says in avoidance of the first question. "Helping with overflow at Elmhurst from the fires. Been a while since I pulled one of those." She steps around an oddity: there's a folding metal TV dinner tray beside the door bearing the likenesses of characters presumably featured in a nineties police procedural. It's clearly old, though it's in great condition due to being wrapped in a clear plastic furniture protector. An empty serving platter of kitschy cherubic figures rests on top, still a bit damp from the wash.

"Coffee?" she asks as she makes her way into the kitchen, then, "Breakfast? My neighbor, Mrs Hon, surprised me with too much French toast and bacon and also home fries."

“That was very kind of her,” Merlyn says, taking the opportunity to look around, her eyes resting briefly on the tray with some curiosity before she focuses her full attention on Marthe. “I wouldn’t mind a little breakfast. I haven’t had the chance to grab anything yet and I don’t happen to be the best cook anyway.” She cracks a smile, following Marthe to the kitchen.

“I hope you at least managed to get some rest after your shift. Coffee only gets you so far.”

"She's a real gem. But coffee has gotten me this far!" Marthe says in a tone simultaneously bleak and cheerful. She continues more softly. "I'll sleep later, I promise. I'm not pulling an all-weeker like those two did last month."

Her first stop in the kitchen is the coffee maker, gesturing Merlyn toward a seat at the kitchen table. She prepares clean mugs for both of them, carrying both to the table empty before returning with the carafe to fill them. "How have you been?" she deflects. "Did you have to evacuate? I heard you're married now." It's clear she doesn't know how to feel about not having known that until yesterday despite it being month old news.

“You’d better be sure to sleep. Wright said something about me having to trip you with a yo-yo or something like that to make sure you do,” Merlyn replies with a laugh. She settles herself at the table, scooting her chair in and trying to make it as noiseless as possible. “Didn’t have to evacuate,” she says, avoiding the dreaded ‘how have you been’. Instead she focuses on the elephant in the room.

“May 24th,” Merlyn replies with a smile. “We haven’t really gotten the chance to talk about it to anyone.” She isn’t entirely sure what else to add there. What would be the least awkward?

"Wright kept it secret from me, rather," Marthe corrects in a confusion of hurt and knowing why. She sets cream and sugar on the table alongside spoons, then turns towards the oven. "And understand why, I do," she says. Opening the warming oven fills the room with the remainder of the traditional American breakfast scents. A cookie sheet laden with the aforementioned 'too much French toast' is removed and set on the stovetop. It would be ridiculous if Marthe had already eaten and this still remained; she must have waited for Merlyn's arrival to eat.

"I've realized I've kind of been treating Elliot like shit," she admits. "Honestly far more than he deserves. He has changed for the better and the more I look back on it all the less clear it becomes as to why I stayed so angry." The reasons why helpfully bend against her mind and fall away like always. She serves herself and her guest from the tray onto simple white dinner plates and turns them to the table, where maple syrup is already waiting.

Merlyn's meal is set down first, then Marthe sits down with her own. "Rue, Elliot's girlfriend I'm sure he's mentioned, stopped by a few months ago and I was kind of awful to her too," she admits. "But she made me think."

"I'm sorry to be the cause of secrets between you and your wife," Merlyn says, honestly. "Trust me, a handful of months ago I would have been treating him like shit too, and deservedly so. When I ran into Elliot again, I gave him a chance. I wanted to see if he had changed, if he had become a better person and if it was worth me risking my heart. Turns out he's changed a lot… and obviously I think for the better considering the marriage."

She distracts herself only momentarily to prepare her coffee, first tasting it for a moment to see if anything needs added to make it to her liking, then just a tiny splash of cream and a pinch of sugar. "I haven't met Rue yet, she's been deployed on some kind of mission since before I met Elliot again." Merlyn picks up her cup, holding it for a moment as she gazes across the table. Hesitantly, unsure if she wants to ask the question, she presses forward with it anyway.

"What did she make you think about?"

Elliot has changed more than Merlyn could know, though Marthe admits to herself that his purposeful changes of the last two years have been for the better. She dug into Rue about how much he'd changed before then, and now she finds herself embarrassed by it. Merlyn doesn't need the weight of that suspicion, Marthe herself has been questioning her own perspective on the matter for months. Wondering—but carefully not remembering—what it could all really mean.

"Forgiveness, I think," she says quietly. "Why I've been treating him like he's still only just wronged me. Second chances. Hating him is exhausting." She dresses her own coffee with cream and sugar while she takes a moment to think.

"The day he deployed I tried to start making it up to him," she continues. "A little late, I tried once before then but I was still frustrated by my conversation with Rue and I couldn't get out of my own way. I let him and Wright share while we were there, and we had an amazing morning with Ames. Then she melted down, accusing me of ‘sending him away again’ and I was totally unprepared for that."

She looks across the space where her daughter isn't and cries freely for a moment. "So I've been denying my baby her father," she says raggedly, the rest of her words barely audible as the weight of the kidnapping returns.

“I have a lot of faith that the whole of your family will be well and reconnected,” Merlyn says, fishing momentarily in her purse before passing over a small travel packet of tissues. “Ames will be back and then at some point, Elliot too. The amount of people set in motion to retrieve your daughter is staggering. Your family has a lot of people who care about them. Ames will be safe.”

An amused smile spreads on Merlyn’s face. “I was going to offer to go find her myself but when I found out that the real professionals had been called in, I figured it was a much better move to me to see how I could be of use to you and Wright.”

Marthe accepts the tissues gratefully, trying to compose herself throughout Merlyn's reassurances. She settles for nodding at first, the lump in her throat hard to talk around. "Thank you," she finally manages. "They really did fuck up, right? Like, things started unraveling when Wright told Gregory that she hunted and killed his war criminal friends, did he forget Wolfhound still exists? They have a jet that probably has missiles on it and no one who works there is entirely stable. Maybe Huruma. Not knowing Wright is friends with members of SCOUT is one thing, but Jesus. They sure as shit weren't aware that Ames’s principal is clairvoyant."

“I met Barb once,” Merlyn says, shaking her head a bit. “She’s the kind of bitch that I really wouldn’t be surprised if she got a bit arrogant and convinced herself she’s better at this shit than she thinks. I’m glad she had no idea who I was, I’m pretty sure she would have said something that would make me punch her.” There’s a small chuckle as she imagines giving the woman a good right hook.

“Yeah, like I said, I certainly don’t need to go track down Ames myself with the amount of people who they’ve brought down on themselves. I would not want to be on the wrong side of that fight.” The suggestion that no one who works for Wolfhound being stable is something that doesn’t sit quite right with Merlyn, but it’s the first time anyone’s ever given her concrete details about any of the job. “I’m sure they’ll get what’s coming to them, all things considered.”

Marthe nods, sniffles present but subsiding. "Barb is the most manipulative person I've ever met," she says, "though most of her bullshit I learned from Wright over the years. Gregory is more of a danger, I think. He absolutely believes that he knows best, which is hilarious considering all the time he spent in federal prison. He probably justified that like everything else. Still, his resources have to pale in comparison to the groups looking for him."

She sighs, and tries very hard to eat some of her breakfast, soldiering through a large bite as she mulls over Merlyn's earlier offer of assistance. "Can you bring Wright some luggage when you go to visit her?" she asks, seemingly unworried about her wife spending time in the company of another woman. "She needs a wardrobe refresh."

“Absolutely. I’ll bring her whatever you’d like to send,” Merlyn says, politely taking bites of food between bits of conversation. “I figured you might know what she’d need.” She brushes over the conversation about Wright’s parents, figuring it’s best to focus on the least upsetting things.

“I’m assuming you have coworkers or a friend who will check in with you? My biggest concern was that you both have the support you need. I’ve never been in your position, but I know from experience that tense situations are a bit less anxiety-dwelling with someone to talk to.”

"Yeah," Marthe assures her after another attempt at being hungry. "Some coworkers already know, and my mother threatened to fly in from Nova Scotia, though I think I have her contained to face chat for the time being. Not that I don't love her, I just love not being overbearingly fussed over."

She gives up on her breakfast, trading fork for coffee. "Not that I consider your visit to be overbearing and fussy," she assures her guest. "It's honestly good to see you, it was annoying when Elliot stupidly sabotaged your relationship." For me isn't added; she realizes now that she's decided to let that go.

“It’s good to see you as well, although it would be nice if it were under better circumstances,” Merlyn offers a smile before she sips from her coffee. “Elliot really did break my heart with all of that. He learned from it, he worked on himself and became a better person. As much of a sappy romantic as I am on the inside, he really had to change for me to open up to him again. I tend to do that ‘protect myself at all costs’ defensive reaction when it comes to this stuff.”

She pauses to take another bite and sip her coffee. She, at least, is hungry and able to eat. Merlyn is happy to be the polite guest and eat what she is given. “I’m glad he realized he was being stupid. I missed him.”

Marthe smiles behind her coffee at Merlyn’s sincerity. She doesn’t speak immediately, buying time with another sip of coffee as she realizes she’s missed him too. The days of their atypical family unit living mostly in harmony in the townhouse before everything went wrong. He’d been a good dad when she’d let him. She clamps down on her emotions before she ends up needing a second travel pack of tissues by deflecting.

“I’m honestly glad you’re back together,” she says. “The first time he met you it seemed like an immediate improvement for him. And Wright, by association. They’d been having a rough time for a while. Nightmares, institute shit; before my time. But everything seemed to calm down when you arrived.” She remembers him as though he’d been gearing up for something, but all that happened was that the nightmares stopped when Merlyn came home with him one day.

It's certainly not the whole story, but Merlyn can't help but smile at the suggestion that she somehow tied everything together. "They've both had very rough lives, so I'm glad that I can end up helping both of them. I hope that I can still help them now. There are few people in my life I can honestly say I care about and trust, and I am happy to have them both in that handful of people. Being able to come here and see you in person to check in on you is the least I can do for your family. I'm sure Wright will be relieved to know I've made sure you aren't immediately off to the hospital as a distraction." Her smile broadens as her playful tone escapes. It's hard to use in some serious moments, but peppered in as tiny glimpses of levity seem to work.

There’s a sudden knock at the door which foretalls Marthe’s response. She looks puzzled for a moment before remembering. “That’ll be the police,” she says with a sigh as she stands and heads for the door.

Merlyn remains at the table, taking a long sip of her coffee as she listens for the conversation but allows her the privacy of at least not interrupting things. She's hoping there will be good news, but it seems a bit fast for things to have escalated that quickly. She taps lightly on her phone, scrolling through messages as she continues her eating of breakfast.

“Lieutenant Harrison, thanks for coming by,” Marthe says with a bit more spirit than she’d shown when she opened the door for Merlyn. The door opens further into the apartment to allow room for the new arrival. “We were just having breakfast, which there is too much of, if you would like something to eat.”


The police lieutenant who steps inside seems tired, though perhaps not quite as exhausted as the woman who opened the door. A small smile of greeting quirks the corners of her lips upward, belied by the intent expression in the blue eyes as Elisabeth steps inside. She's clearly dressed for heading back to work – a pair of dark gray slacks topped by a deep green button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbows, her badge on one side of her belt and her 9mm on the other, long blonde hair confined to a low ponytail that hangs to the middle of her shoulder blades. "Hi, Marthe," she greets quietly, clearly checking up on the other woman. Her blue eyes skim curiously into the house on the 'we' and she nods a casual if somewhat watchful greeting. "Good morning."

With a glance behind her to give a brief nod to a person still outside the door, who remains outside, Liz shakes her head a bit. "No, but thank you. I'm not really hungry. Although coffee would be most welcome, if you still have some," she replies mildly. "I just came by to check in on you. I know … that what I have for information as yet isn't as much as any of us might like." There's a bit of a grimace to that – she is seriously invested in retrieving Ames. "Are you holding up?" A glance is cast toward the other woman in the room, as if to check with her to see if Marthe is being looked after.

Merlyn washes down some French toast with a swallow of coffee, and since Marthe is letting the detective in for coffee, she figures it’s worth standing up and offering a greeting. She tops off her coffee, then moves to stand so she’s visible from the doorway. She wiggles her fingers in greeting with the hand not currently holding a steaming mug.

“Don’t mind me,” she offers with a friendly smile. She’ll save the poor woman from her joking and foul mouth for now, given the occasion.

"Holding up," Marthe says as she heads toward Merlyn and the coffee. "Or being held up, which I'll take gratefully." A smile is reserved for Merlyn. She overturns two mugs from the drying board and fills each, handing one to Elizabeth and gesturing toward the cream and sugar on the table. The officer outside isn't so lucky, but she reopens the front door and hands out the other mug.

"Nothing new since last night, I assume?" she asks. "Holy fuck it was stupid not to get concrete details from Barbage before letting Ames go with her." Her composure crumples but she keeps herself mostly in check, she's already said as much to the lieutenant over the phone.

The giant man outside the door accepts the coffee with a smile and a rumbled 'thank you' in his deep baritone. He remains at his post.

Elisabeth follows Marthe in to the table and she smiles a grateful smile toward Merlyn, as if to say thank you for being there. It's clear she's really glad Marthe has support. As she sits down with the coffee, she says, "Marthe, it's not stupid." She reiterates the same thing she said last night. "They are her grandparents, and no matter how shitty they are, a part of us always wants to believe that our kids are loved by their grandparents." She may not think any good thoughts about the grandparents but she won't let Marthe beat herself up. Instead, she offers a little in the way of teasing.

"You know, I did tell Wright tho… when we get Ames home, I'm gonna have to take you out back for a good combat boot up the butt for not giving me a shout that you needed help. For the love of God, woman – I have nannies! I can spare people to help, you know. It's a perk of coming home to find Richard rolling in it." Elisabeth rolls her eyes. "He used to be a thief, you know. A really good one." She winks at Marthe – it's not like Richard's past is a secret.

"And besides… even if they were fantastic grandparents, they'd still need help with the Human TacNuke." Now Elisabeth does grin. "Last I checked on her, she was strategically shoving paper towels down a toilet."

"Asking for help can be hard, especially at the last second when you're pulling… how many hours at work was it?" Merlyn doesn't need to defend Marthe, but she happily joins in on the humor. She's always used that as a way to deal with serious topics, something she and Elliot definitely have in common. "You can always ask me, too. I'm good with last minute sudden surprise babysitting changes. Besides, you're basically family at this point."

While it was spoken naturally, simply fitting into the course of the offer, she pauses as the thought really sinks in. Family.

Marthe smiles fondly. "Devil baby," she confirms. "She gets that from her mother." Anybody's guess which one.

"Thank you both for the offer, things really were moving fast when the fires broke out, and at the time I was only in even loose contact with one of you." She seems to catch on Merlyn's words, but after a moment she smiles shyly and gestures toward her for the benefit of their guest. "Lieutenant Harrison, this is Merlyn, who recently married Elliot, God save her."

Nodding with understanding, Elisabeth just regrets that she didn't reach out in the middle of it all. Being in the middle of fire and cops is not an excuse in her own mind. At the full introduction, surprise flashes across her face and then a bright smile. "Liz, please," she urges. "I'm only Lieutenant Harrison at work. … and given who I work with, some days even that's questionable." Elisabeth rolls her eyes and laughs, "it's really nice to meet you, Merlyn. Congratulations on your marriage."

There is a genuine sparkle of amusement in the blonde's weary features. "Your husband is on-mission with mine. Please, if you need anything at all, I'll leave you my direct number before I leave, don't hesitate to use it. For any reason." Liz pauses and admits, "I have something of a complex about taking care of the people who work with us. Probably a holdover of the bad years."

"Liz? It's nice to meet you," Merlyn grins. "It's good to know someone else who's anxiously awaiting news as time progresses. I was assured the team going with him was top notch. So I expect your husband will have to bring my husband home safely. It would be tragic to only get a few months of marital bliss." It has been a short time, but she wouldn't change a thing. "Same goes with you, though. If you need anything, I've got a pretty flexible schedule most of the time and can help with things. Hence why I'm going to find Wright later to make sure she's got an emotional support while this is going on as well."

She glances in Marthe's direction. "I can pass a hug along from you, if you'd like. Just part of my emotional support services."

Marthe smiles sadly for Merlyn's fears of being left behind again, moving in to offer a hug. "This is for you," she explains, "but if you have some of it to Wright I would appreciate it. Also I already packed her a suitcase."

Her head turns to Liz for a question. "Any leads on where Garbara and her worse half have been squatting prior to this?"

Grateful that Merlyn and Marthe have their attention on one another, Elisabeth swallows the emotional hit that Merlyn unintentionally hit her with. Tragic, unfair… so many other words. And the truth of it is that she has to keep almost everything she knows away from these two women… and that too is unfair. But it serves no good purpose for them to know, either. So she buries the anxiety that clenches her stomach tight as deep as it will go.

By the time Marthe turns back around to ask, her expression is just calm. "Not yet. I wanted to check on you on my way to pick up the threads today. I have people banging on doors and looking under rocks, and I have a meeting with the head of Wolfhound today. Peyton has me on speed-dial if anything new happens, and I promise I'll fill you in as soon as I know anything." Tipping her head, Elisabeth studies Merlyn. "Will you be staying in KC, or are you planning on traveling back and forth?"

Oh the possibilities that could present.

Merlyn shrugs a shoulder. “I haven’t thought too far ahead on things, leaving things a bit flexible for the time being. I plan on staying in KC initially, just to kind of make myself available if Wright needs anything. Bit easier for me to go out and about given I’m not entrenched in secret government things,” she laughs, then looks into her mug. “I’m just taking it a day at a time and winging it. Got anything you need taken care of while I’m there? Kind of feels like the lot of us are all in this together now.”

For better or for worse.

Marthe didn't dare to imagine there had been developments, but she's quietly disappointed nonetheless. She momentarily occupies herself by stepping into the living room and wheeling a gray cloth suitcase toward the door.

Elisabeth has all the sympathy in the world for Marthe's pain. She wishes there were something else she could do besides what she is already doing. "There is something I was wondering if either of you might know. When I spoke to Wright last night, she said that her mother had been donating things to a charity drive somewhere here in the Zone." She leaves out Wright's descriptor of it and her mother's described motivation. "Do you know where that might have been? I'd like to send an officer over there to question people, see if we can locate anyone who knows where they were living, who they were spending time around." She glances between the women. "They didn't plan this alone. They had a place to go already in mind, and the evacuation gave them the excuse they needed. Marthe… do they know she's Expressive?"

That's the worry that is giving Elisabeth nightmares, to be honest about it. There is no telling what the girl's ability might be or how it will manifest if they hurt her out there. That is more trauma than any child deserves.

“Oh, I can definitely tell you about that. It’s the only time I’ve met her and she was so fake she was practically aspartame,” Merlyn replies with a roll of her eyes. “Ritzy neighborhood, people donating stuff from ‘smoke damage’. Mostly recovery efforts and aid from the fire, but if you ask around about her you’re likely going to want to wash your mouth out after. Phoenix Heights.”

Marthe seems surprised that Merlyn ever had a chance to meet Wright's mother. "I like to think of her as sweet like antifreeze," she says, "but I see where you're coming from."

"And I don't know if they know about her expression," Marthe tells Liz anxiously. "They know that she goes to Winslow Crawford, but I told her not to talk about Expressives in front of the grandparents just in case."

Elisabeth nods slightly. "If Peyton can get to her – and it's highly possible she can, we just don't want to scare her when she can hear someone who isn't there, you know? Assuming Peyton can get through, though, we'll make sure to reiterate to deny deny deny if it comes up at all, and if they don't ask, she doesn't talk about it." Blowing out a breath, Elisabeth admits, "I'm hoping that within the next 24 to 48 hours, we'll have a solid lead on where she is. And we'll be going after her without prejudice, Marthe."

Every line in the police lieutenant's body is Cold Mother Rage and Soldier Out For Blood. "We will bring her home." Liz won't allow any other outcome to this kidnapping – she can't tolerate the idea of another child close to her being gone for years. The taking of Manuel and Odette scarred the blonde's soul. It will not happen again.

While Merlyn doesn't have the hardness of a mother, she's a nice contrast with her lighthearted tone and attempt at keeping things calm and comfortable. "She'll be back before you know it, and I know she's going to be fine. Ames, in my experience, has been an incredibly resilient child. I kind of wish I could learn to be such a whirlwind that could bounce back from anything." She offers both Marthe and Elizabeth a smile. "I'm willing to bet she's not even scared."

"Thank you both," Marthe rasps. She takes a deep breath and smiles in a way that does nothing to hide the sadness. "You give me hope."

Reaching out to hold Marthe's wrist and squeeze it tightly for a long moment, the only thing she can do in this one moment. "Hang in there, okay?" she says softly. "I promise I'll call you with any updates. Text me or call me anytime – and Marthe, no news is still good news." She quirks a half-smile for the worried mama. "It means the Tiny Terrorist is still wreaking havoc out there. And the more small acts of resistance she can manage, the more it will slow them down and distract them, giving me time to find them."

She moves to stand up. "Both of you, call me if you need anything. I mean that," Elisabeth tells them. "Family – and that includes you guys now – means everything to me. If you need anything, you'll have it."

“You deserve that hope, and the people you’re trusting in deserve that trust. I don’t think there’s anyone better to help,” Merlyn assures Marthe with a smile that looks genuine. Liz’s offer gets something a little more sentimental reflected in her eyes, and she nods at the woman. “I just might call to talk,” she replies. “It’s nice to meet someone I have things in common with.” Things that are a little more difficult to talk about is the clear message she leaves unspoken.

“You’ve got my number too, Marthe. I expect you to use it if you ever need. I’m pretty good at fostering hope in people and I’m happy to offer it anytime.”

"Thank you," Marthe says, cutting tears from her eyes with one hand. "Both of you. For not letting me spiral into it; I can't be a mess when Ames comes home. I have to be my best self." It's what Elliot would want.

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