Katie and Merlyn


elliot2_icon.gif merlyn_icon.gif

Scene Title Katie and Merlyn
Synopsis Birthdays require a personal touch.
Date June 10–12, 2021

The Husband
June 10 ᛫ 8:21 am
Good morning!
Today is looking busy but boring. I’m spending most of my time in the kitchen, hopefully they got everything I requisitioned
Let me know when you’re up
8:24 am
June 10 ᛫ 9:27 am
I’m up.
Glad you’re at least busy. Boring and not busy is the worst
Also hi, since I didn’t say that
June 10 ᛫ 1:40 pm
Kitchen staff only marginally appeased by knowing I’m making enough of this for them too
They’re all doing the “oh this guy watched Food Network and thinks he can run a kitchen now” shrug like every five minutes
I’m going to let the smuggest one try the food first and if that doesn’t shut him up I’m going to have Wright push him out of the room with a broom
You definitely are going to impress them though, your cooking is great
And if they don't clearly someone should yell at them
I really am already positive I'm going to miss your cooking
Don't worry I won't burn the place down making food
Feel free to text me if you need tips on not burning down our house
The freezer is deep though, the meals I put together should last you a while either way
Oh, I forgot to tell you
I got you a birthday present
Oh! I didn't really expect you to, I figured with everything being so busy with you leaving
That's really sweet
Also I am very glad for our freezer
Where did you put the present?
You know, that is an excellent question
Where DID I put it…
Well now you're just teasing me
Is it wrapped?
You're going to make me do a treasure hunt aren't you
I swear if you weren't and decide to now you are gonna feel my glare from this phone
Wow, that actually would have been a really good idea
But the shipping email says it should be there on your birthday
I am so glad you didn't
But I will happily open your present on my birthday
I hope that it's not something that will make me cry
I definitely cried myself out already
Well this will test both of those last two statements
I both like this and hate this
2:05 pm
June 10 ᛫ 5:14 pm
Alright, dinner is cooked and we're finally going to eat way too much food
I feel like they’re lucky to have you along
Not just for the cooking
You aren't wrong, the team needed a pretty, funny person and they really struck gold with me
I'm going to be afk but I'll let you know when I'm off for the night
Well, I wasn’t available so they had to settle for the other funny, pretty person
They did strike gold though
Talk to you in a bit
5:20 pm
June 10 ᛫ 6:44 pm
I'm the one who struck gold there
Is what I should have said before dinner, which only lasted an hour but felt like it lasted six
Seriously though, holy fuck
I've been thinking about how fortunate I am that you gave me this chance to do better
Also thinking about the fact that I am wildly in love with you but also that slow-burn, high-commitment love that makes my heart beat really fast and without warning when I think of you
Also thinking about your entire body
Holy shit, like everything about it
Excited to get back to explore it more
It’s hard not to think about how lucky we are
Cause I think about it all the time
I think about how I never expected you to actually apologize and try to be better
Hoped, but never expected
I’m so ducking grateful I have you and that you’re coming back to me
*fucking stupid autocorrect trying to make me not swear
You tell your autocorrect that if it does that again I will call the police
Nobody sensors my gorgeous wife
1 Viewed
That’s right, no one does
Also I figured you might need a little dessert and to remind you what you’re missing
Sweet Jesus
Yeah that'll
That'll hold me over for a while
I am absolutely famished for you
7:01 pm
1 Viewed
Never let it be said that I don't reciprocate
If the government agent tasked with information security has made it through the encryption on this app and seen my wife’s and my lewds, you owe us each $100
Reciprocation is absolutely always welcomed
Plus it means you too have a chance to win a hundred bucks
I do not think we are going to leave bed for days after you get back
Maybe a quick snack break but mostly bed
I'm pro snacking in bed
Two for one
Speaking of which I should uhhhhh probably get to bed
Because tomorrow is going to be a long day
Not for any other reason
I absolutely believe you
Enjoy your bed
I’m already in ours
Good night, I love you
6:33 pm
June 11 ᛫ 7:56 am
Today is going to be a long one, I don’t know how much time I’ll have to message you but I will try to check later after you’re awake
7:56 am
June 11 ᛫ 8:47 am
Hunger woke me up. Need breakfast.
I hope today goes well for you
Don’t worry, I’ll be hanging on your every message
8:49 am
June 11 ᛫ 12:11 pm
Do you have time for a call?
I’d love to hear your voice
As if I wouldn’t make time for you
I’m good for it
12:14 pm

Curled up on the couch, whatever Merlyn was doing before has been quickly forgotten. Her back to an armrest, she sits with her legs up on the cushions as she stares at the text messages on her phone. She never in her life thought she’d be waiting by the phone for a call from someone who still gave her butterflies, but as it turns out, that’s exactly what she’s doing.

When the phone dings, the text messages switch to the incoming caller screen and she sheepishly grins at the contact entry she’d changed on the screen; it now simply reads “The Husband”. She quickly taps the screen to answer.

“Hi,” she says, a greeting instead of a question, her tone light and happy.

«Mmmm, that’s the good stuff. How are you doing?»

She laughs, almost in a way that the accompanying grin is audible. “I’m okay. Just lining up boring pizza delivery jobs. I have a feeling that’s what most of my end of this is going to be. Hopefully yours will be just as boring. I feel like saying ‘I miss you’ is gonna get redundant real fast though.”

«I love to hear it anyway, positive reinforcement. I miss you too. I’m glad your pizza delivery is boring. In a good way, not like, I’m glad you’re bored.»

“Cool. I’m going to make sure to tell you I miss you at least once every opportunity I get. Yeah, I figure boring pizza delivery is the way to go. Might get with Joey, we’re working on a thing. She needs to make rent so we’re gambling that we can pull over something on Ricky. Harmless, I promise you,” she says.

«Hahaha, if that one goes south you can probably scare him into being cool if you drop my name, but probably only once. I actually like hanging out with Ricky, that guy is hilarious. You just have to deal with the fact that he has literally always just climbed out of a sewer of the mind, body, and soul.»

Merlyn laughs, grinning to herself. “Yeah, that’s Ricky for you. I don’t think he’ll be a problem even if it goes south, just means I won’t get quite as much money. I’m gonna have to make sure to butter him up to get a good price.” She pauses, leaning her head against the back cushions of the couch. “You holding up okay, at least? Not that I’m worried in general or anything.”

«Yeah… I wanted to call you because it's going to be a while before you can hear the sound of my voice again. I'll be away for a bit shortly, then Wright will begin her stewardship of my phone this evening.»

“I figured as much. I’m glad you did. At least you’ll get to hear my voice as often as you want later. Wright permitting, of course.” Merlyn’s doing a great job of holding it together, despite the fact that the sudden thought of not hearing his voice for a while stirs her emotions. “Your lovely voice is something I hope the rest of your, uh co-workers, appreciate. I doubt they can do as much as I do.”

«None of them have complimented my voice yet, which is rude. I should complain to HR. Wright assures me that she's always permitting and that I don't need to thank her for doing so but I'm going to regardless. Getting to listen to the sound of your voice calms me, knowing you're okay grounds me.»

Merlyn is briefly glad no one can see the goofy smile she gets as she listens. "I'm going to thank her a number of times. She's gonna get sick of hearing me say it. Maybe I should get her a present as thanks or something. But I'm glad at least you'll be able to hear me. When you get back I'm going to demand you babble awkwardly about something or another so I can get my fill."

«Absolutely, Baby. I'll save my choicest awkward rambles for you. Everybody else gets the prepared remarks.»

"That's how I like it. Awkward rambles all the way," Merlyn says, laughing. "If you're lucky sometime while you're gone I'll just awkwardly ramble to Wright so you can get the full benefit. She might have to try hard not to laugh at me. I figure it might be a good pick-me-up if you're having some kind of rough day. I'll do my best not to prepare either."

«I would love that. Wright would never laugh at you for being authentic. She hides it well, but she's over the moon for us.»

“I shall be sure to not prepare my rambles but to share them at will then! The choicest of embarrassing rambles, served courtesy of Wright.” Merlyn smiles, but the smile flickers a bit as she tries her best to stay entirely composed. “The rest of your group better be really good,” she says, her voice softer. “You’re plenty capable, but having good people to watch your back is just as important. So I hope they’re at least as good as Wright at doing that.”

«As to anybody being more capable than Wright is at something, under the advice of my attorney I invoke my fifth amendment right to not incriminate myself. Haha. Everybody on this op was chosen specifically to serve functions that they are uniquely capable of serving. I'm confident we can get the job done.»

«Unrelated, how's my signal? Can you hear me clearly right now?»

“That sounds like a bullshit government approved message to assure the common people nothing’s wrong,” Merlyn laughs, but there’s still a serious tone in it. She doesn’t, however, pursue the topic and instead moves on. “I can hear you just fine, and believe me, I’d be pretty angry if I couldn’t hear you before you left.”

«Excellent, because I want to be absolutely certain you hear and understand me when I say this. I fucking love you, Merlyn Hitchens. I love you and I'm coming home to you.»

“Fuck, I swore I wasn’t going to cry,” she says, her free hand reaching up to wipe at her eyes. “I love you so fucking much. I know you’ll be back here as soon as you can. I promise I know that, sometimes it’s just me waiting for that other shoe to drop.” She pauses. “Fuck, you’re giving me this amazingly adorable moment and I’m fucking it up because I’m just scared of losing the best thing in my life. Person, I mean. You aren’t a thing.”

«I promise you you're not fucking it up, hearing your emotional investment really gets me good. Knowing you're certain makes me happy. Knowing you love me makes me able to do anything.»

“I really do love you, and I know you’ll be back,” she says, regaining her composure a bit. “I’m going to try not to cry again. I’d rather be able to just listen to you and not waste my time sniffling when I can do that on my own anyway. I’m looking forward to you coming home so I get those adorable rambles, though. Those always feel like the most… I dunno, real you? I’m not sure if that makes sense. It’s just pure Elliot to me and I love it.”

«I'm glad that we can be our most authentic selves together. Maybe it's our time in a group home, maybe it's the pizza delivery. Not having to put on a mask for you is honestly the most relaxing part of my life right now.»

“Nah, I think it’s just who we are as people. Who we are now that is. That stuff taught us how to wear masks, but having someone you feel comfortable enough with to give real smiles and just relax is just us being us.” Merlyn’s smile returns. “I don’t feel like I have to hide. I feel like you know me, understand me, and have my back.”

«I like to think so too. Know you and understand you, that is. Not saying there isn't more for me to learn. I do have your back, always and without question.»

"I'm sure there's plenty of me left to learn for when you get back. We'll have more than enough time to do it, too. I trust you, honestly, and I can count on one hand how many people left in the world I actually do trust. Not gonna lie, I even mostly trusted you even after you fucked off. I think a lot of it was me hoping, though," she laughs slightly. "Maybe I'm a fucking romantic or something."

«Wright was correct, you really are too good for me. Like, I know I have all this—you can't see but I'm motioning to my whole self—but you are still out of my league. And we got married? How the fuck did I get so lucky that you would love me? And you're cool with me saying I love you all the time, and there's so much kissing. I really can't wait to get back to that part, top-tier kissing.»

«Seriously though, I wasn't worthy of your trust. I'm trying hard right now to really earn it. Money where my mouth is, I'm doing what I can to be worth it. And I trust you, and there are very few people I trust. Count-on-one-hand few.»

Merlyn laughs. "I can sense you doing the motion and then being kind of embarrassed that you realized you're doing the motion, so that kind of delights me. I don't know about being out of your league, but I accept the compliment from Wright. I feel extremely lucky that you actually apologized, cause I don't think I would be here with you if you didn't. I was hoping you'd apologize, but you took the only step you could've taken for us to be here. So good job you, I'd say."

She leans her head back against the armrest, looking up at the ceiling. "I know you're trying. Even if you don't think you deserve my trust even now, you have it. Pretty sure both Wright and I would beat the shit out of you if you fucked me over at this point." That gets a laugh from Merlyn. "I'm really going to miss your voice, though. You have no fucking idea how grateful I am that Wright can keep some contact with you. I think going months without knowing if you're okay would probably drive me absolutely batshit insane. So hopefully she won't mind me at least checking in fairly frequently."

«Thank you, truly. Wright assures me that she's delighted to keep you in touch. I think if I thank her again she'll slap me, so you should thank her from the other side of your phone where it's safe.»

«I… I just got flagged down, I have to get moving now. Wright will be in touch later this evening.»

"I absolutely will thank her later, I'm pretty sure she won't slap me especially if she can't reach." The words 'I have to get moving now' cause Merlyn's throat to tighten a little and she swallows hard to try and keep her full composure. "I love you. I love you so fucking much and you'll absolutely hear from me soon. I'm going to be expecting you to call as soon as you get back, husband."

«I absolutely will, dearest wife. I'll find a way back to you. I love you, Lyn.»

"I love you, Elliot. I'll be here. I look forward to seeing you. I'll see you again."

«I'll be back before you know it. Talk to you soon. Bye, Baby.»

"I'll talk to you soon," Merlyn says, before adding in another quick word before hanging up. "Remember I love you."

June 11 ᛫ 10:15 pm
(Hi, Wright here, if this ever gets too weird text me directly (Elliot follows))
I love you so god damn much
Suddenly feeling like I haven't said that enough
Sorry it took so long to get the phone back
(Hi Wright, thanks for doing this for us. I'm afraid you're going to have to deal with perpetual thank yous. Maybe a gift basket or something.)
It's okay about not getting back, I figured things were busy
Not that I don't worry anyway because I sure do a lot of that.
I love you and I'm sure I'm going to be sending a lot of texts saying that
You will get tired of 'I love you' and 'I miss you' and so on
You don't ever have to apologize for loving me, that's my favorite thing to hear you say
How is your birthday eve going
I mean, it’s not the worst. It’s quiet.
I might be a rebel and eat something sugary before bed
Drown out the sorrows of missing my love in something overly sweet
You know that bullshit saying about absence making the heart grow fonder? I get that now. It makes sense.
Far be it from me to tell you to avoid satisfying a sweet tooth
For me it feels like absence made the heart go yonder
I feel like I'm as far away from you as it's physically possible to be, but I need to do it. I need to know you're safe
Don’t worry about me, I’ll be safe
I worry more about you getting through everything.
I hope you can check in regularly, even if it’s only a few minutes
I will, I promise
What are you doing right now? I could use a bit of the home life, even if it's mostly my imagination
Currently I’m digging through our kitchen to see about making myself a birthday cake
I was kinda hoping I could find one of those easy little packages
We do have flour, sugar, cocoa powder (above the prep area across from the island), and eggs. I forget what else goes in a cake but you should have most of what you need
Might need to look up a recipe though
I will look up a recipe, but it will likely be a lot more difficult without easy packaging
Honestly I can follow directions fine, I’m just too much of a perfectionist
But it’s a cake for me so I guess it can look weird and I can enjoy it for its weirdness
Perfectly imperfect
Let me know how it goes
It’s funny because I’m a perfectionist but the things I most like are the things not perfect
I hope it will go well. I feel like Joey would make me a cake but I wouldn’t put that on her plate when she’s got rent to think about
Gonna help her with that tomorrow
Have you managed to keep the marriage secret or is she plotting my demise
So far she doesn’t know but she’s probably suspicious at this point
Not sure how long it’ll be, she knows me too well
Pretty sure she’s going to be disapproving of the whole “get back with your ex” thing
Got back together with The Terrible Ex and married him a month later
She's going to think I'm trying to swindle you
Make of with all the silverware
She's gonna think you're going to break my heart
Which, you know, is a very reasonable thing to think given last time
Honeymoon period where all was good and fantastic and then
She's gonna think I'm insane or something.
That guy sure was a stupid asshole
I swear I'm going to do better
(He can't stop me from sending this so I just want to say he feels very genuine about this on the inside)
Oh, thanks for reminding me. We should take a honeymoon when I get back. Somewhere we can throw out phones in the ocean and have uninterrupted us time. Preferably cool/warm and not smoky. Relaxed clothing requirements
(I appreciate the context, even if he can't protest)
Clothing will probably be optional (sorry Wright I had to say it)
But really that'd be amazing
I want to forget about the world for a while and just be
You're one of the few people I don't have to wear some kind of mask with, I can be me
So it would be great to be me for an extended period of time and just be happy
I'm going to try and research something for this, it needs to happen
Also I know you're going to do better, you wouldn't have married me if you weren't serious
Way easier to ghost without a marriage
Maybe that will convince Joey
Hopefully we can find somewhere friendly to Expressives or at least with a shitty enough government that my alt passport won't be flagged
It would be nice to spend a couple weeks being us without reservation
Not that we aren't us at home, just that it would be fun to not have to work all day and only get to spend half our waking hours together
I like having half your hours, that is certainly better than no hours.
But getting away would be nice, honestly
No smoke, just us, somewhere nice.
I do like our house, a lot, but I feel like just getting away for a while would be refreshing
I can't remember the last time I took a proper vacation
Probably never
I took like five years of retirement vacation so really I shouldn't complain. But I'm looking forward to an us vacation
You got plenty of vacation but it clearly wasn't as fantastic as it will be on this one
You have me now and I'm hating myself right now for sounding overly confident
But you technically do and I'm going to make sure it's an experience we both won't forget
And peaceful
And just us
Sounds perfect
10:42 pm
June 12 ᛫ 2:16 am
I did it. I conquered the kitchen. I conquered the cake.
Birthday successful.
Happy birthday, baby, I love you. I hope it's a great one
Hope the cake was great too
Glad you're still up, it's nice to hear from you
Birthday would be better if you were here, but I'll settle for some texts
Cake turned out pretty decently, so I'm pleased with it
I figure I'll save it and have a little at a time for the next week
It'll be like a week of birthdays
I love you and I miss you
Boy this is going to be a long couple of months
Hopefully not longer
I'm going to do everything within my power to make it as short a trip as possible
I would straight up open-hand slap an orphan to be snoozing on the couch with you right now
One of the bad orphans, you know the type
I definitely know the type
Snoozing on the couch right now with you would be ideal
I'll save a spot for you on the couch for when you come back
It'll be nice and cozy
I can't wait
We should get some sleep, we've both got busy days
Let me know when you get your birthday present (should be there afternoon/evening)
2:27 am

By the time Merlyn's back from dinner, it's somewhere around half past eight. She and Joey had a fantastic dinner with good wine, but eventually she parted ways with her best friend with some vague excuse of having something to do rather than crash at the apartment. She fishes out her keys from her pocket as she approaches, noting the box placed carefully by the door. Medium sized and not too heavy, she picks it up with ease and rests it on a hip while she unlocks the door.

Once Merlyn is settled inside with the box in front of her on the couch, she pulls out her phone and starts typing.

June 12 ᛫ 8:37 pm
Home now. Got your present. Gonna open it.
I swear if something pops out of this I'm going to scream and get revenge when you're home
Ok, so, don't be mad
But there were several days where I told you I was working but it was not true
w h a t
I'm not mad but now I'm insanely curious and I'm grabbing a box of tissues because I feel like you're gonna make me cry
Solid plan
8:39 pm

Merlyn does rise from the couch, retreating into the bathroom to grab a box of tissues before returning. She settles once more, using her keys to cut through the tape on the package before opening it.

The box is stuffed with crumpled brown shipping paper. Underneath the first folds there is a pop of color: a series of printed photos of Merlyn and Elliot at their wedding ceremony apparently taken by Wright. Of holding hands as they ascend the steps into the building. Of glancing at each other in the elevator. Of speaking their vows, exchanging their jewelry, of crying for joy and embracing.

Beneath these lies a letter, short and written in Elliot’s hand.


I will always be grateful that you let me back into your life. I look forward to our life together in the future, but it's important to remember our lives before as well.

I love you, I love you, I love you,


Down further still a second letter written in an unknown hand.

Dear Merlyn,

I'm overjoyed to hear that you're alive and doing well. I've been mourning you for a decade, but now I can rejoice that you made it through on your own. Katie had that kind of strength, I'm glad you inherited it from her. I was starting high school when she was born, so we were never as close as I wish we were in retrospect.

When my little sister passed I was battling cancer and fighting the bank to keep my home, in no place to care for a child. I regret that I wasn't able to be there for you. By the time I was able to care for myself again, records in the foster care system were a nightmare. I wasn’t able to learn that you’d gone missing from your group care home until a year after you’d left. I feared the worst, and eventually believed the worst to be true.

I was given these memories as Katie’s next of kin. I saved them to remember you both. Now they're yours to remember her and how much she loved you. If these pictures are to be believed, she loved you ferociously.

I would love the chance to meet you and see who you've become. Elliot is clearly smitten, but I'd like to find out for myself. He says it was no trouble tracking me down but he's full of shit. He asked if I could delay talking to you until your birthday, which is a little over a week from now as I write this, and he seems very nice so I agreed. I would love for you to call me, or write to me, and maybe sometime soon visit me.


Your Aunt Connie

The letter obscures a white shoebox, the lid marked Katie and Merlyn. A treasure trove of memories, keepsakes, photos of Merlyn’s early life with her mother. As an infant in her mother’s arms at the hospital. A footprint on paper declaring Merlyn born on this day. Pictures of a child growing older season by season, year by year.

The bottom of the shoebox holds one last treasure: a scrapbook of Katie King’s adventures in New Orleans before Merlyn’s birth. Pressed flowers and ticket stubs and photos of the city’s sights and landscapes.

Her phone, for the moment, lies untouched on the couch next to her as Merlyn stares at the contents. Her hands shake as she takes the scrapbook out of the box, swallowing hard and holding back tears. She silently turns the pages, fingers tracing over the pictures. Seeing her mother's face again is something almost startling. It's been literal decades since she looked at a picture of her mother.

She traces the outline of the woman in the picture, standing in the French Quarter with her arms raised high in the air as if to say "Look at me! Look where I am!". Katie King's friendly and energetic nature is evident even in the still photograph, and Merlyn moves her hand away from the book to grab a tissue and wipe at her eyes before the tears have a chance to hit the pages. "I forgot how pretty you were," she sniffles, wiping at her eyes and shutting the scrapbook quickly so as not to damage the pages.

Reverently, she places the scrapbook back in first and then the other items one by one before she closes the box and sets it aside as if it might suddenly break or disappear if she moved too quickly. She turns back to her phone, lifting it up to type and only stopping to brush a tear off the screen.

June 12 ᛫ 8:52 pm
holy fuck Elliot
I don't even know what to say
You absolutely did make me cry and I'll probably be crying all night
Happy and sad tears, kinda a mix of both at this point
I don't think anyone could ever give me a better gift than this other than delivering yourself back here safe and sound at some point
I swear if anyone doubts the validity of all of this whole relationship I'm going to wave this in their face and tell them that you gave me something I can't even put into words
Thank you x1000000000 (imagine more zeroes I am too lazy to keep tapping the same key over and over even though I just wrote all of this as an explanation)
I love you and I miss you and you can't even imagine the hug I'm going to give you when I see you again
I love you, Lyn
I never want there to be any doubt of thagt
You’re welcome x10^100 (one googol your welcomes)
Can’t wait to be hugged to literal pieces
I love you so much. I don't have a single doubt. I really don't. Feelings are really hard to express through text without being too rambly but this means the world to me.
You gave me back my mom in a way, and that's the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me
Don't you dare say I'm out of your league again, you're definitely right up here next to me
I will try to be nicer to myself, but i’m doing so under protest and only because you told me to
Good thing I didn’t do a scavenger hunt, that would have been mean and I want you to feel good at all times
You are way too sweet for your own good. I feel really lucky, honestly.
You sure this isn't some really fantastic, elaborate dream? Cause this is way too good to be true. I'm so lucky to have you and I know you will protest and say you're the lucky one
Nope, you're going to have to settle for us being equal on that luck. 50-50, no buyouts.
Also I don't think you could ever be mean to me on purpose
Anymore at least
I swear to you that I never will
I know and I trust you so I believe it.
I'm going to give you some tome to go through your box of memories, but I'll be right here if you need to talk or take a break
If I don't hear from you, I love you and goodnight
Thanks, I’m going to take my time and cry over this for a while. You’re amazing. I love you.
904: pm

Setting down her phone, Merlyn looks from it to the box next to her. With one smooth movement, she moves the box to her lap, resting her hands on the lid as she stares at the words.

Katie and Merlyn.

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