Legitimate Privacy Concerns


huruma_icon.gif merlyn_icon.gif wright2_icon.gif

Scene Title Legitimate Privacy Concerns
Synopsis Wright asks Merlyn to help her commit a gross invasion of privacy.
Date July 6, 2021

Wright's first instinct upon waking is to take Elliot's perspective a world away. He supplies her with a series of unremarkable memories to catch her up to what's happened since the start of her last short foray into sleep. They Black Boxed several events last night, things they didn't want to chance being picked up by a thought reader. No idea if it works, but standing orders from Richard are to withhold mission-sensitive information from her superiors.

What's happening now is more interesting. Gracie has been released from the hot box, looks a shambles. Elliot is already tagging her behaviors and mapping them, something is off.

Marriott Downtown
Washington K.C.

She turns in bed to look at Merlyn, happy to see the other woman isn't holding more damning evidence of what's wrong with Elliot and desperate for an explanation. It wasn't supposed to be here. She should have put it in a lockbox when it was recovered from the rig. Even with the Lock gone, there's nothing that can be said about it here. She'll just have to rely on the Lock that replaced it.

Her alarm chimes quietly and she spins beneath the sheets to silence it, attention mostly on Gracie's behavior.

Although Merlyn had slept, it wasn't entirely restful. Her mind fixed on the words in the margins of Elliot's book, repeating them over and over like they had been page after page. Wright hadn't been able to explain the book, nor had she really clarified what was going on with Elliot at the moment. It isn't until she realizes that the other woman's up that she really drags herself from her pseudo-sleep and turns to face her.

"… things okay?" She asks, her tone both cautious and concerned as she rubs sleep from her face.

A moment passes before Wright’s attention returns from elsewhere, but she offers a smile. “Good morning,” she says softly and cheerfully. “Sorry if I kept you up all night, but things seem to have calmed down.”

Sleep had been intermittent at best since she came home late in the wake of the ambush on the convoy. She stretches, tosses the covers aside, and levers herself to a seat on the side of the bed.

"No need to apologize," Merlyn replies with a small smile. "I don't think any tossing and turning on my part is your fault." She levels her gaze on Wright, watching her carefully. "You didn't quite answer my question, but I'll assume things calming down as at least a positive thing." She shrugs a shoulder as she shifts to lean on an elbow.

"Sorry if I'm pressing a bit, I just worry."

Wright turns, smiling sadly, then leans over to take Merlyn’s hand after only a brief hesitation. “He’s fine,” she assures her. “I'm sorry that I'm unable to be specific.” About what happened last night. About the book.

The hand is squeezed, Merlyn's small smile remains even if it's a bit tired. "I'm glad he's okay, and that you are." Regardless of Elliot being the one out in the field, Wright's still there experiencing and helping him through everything. She's just as equally out there. "I can understand the inability to be specific. I just wish we'd had more time to talk about these things before… well, all this."

She's beginning to notice a lot she wishes she could talk about. With anyone.

Wright hides a grimace. Before all this, she wouldn't have been able to answer questions honestly. Now that she can, she's up against the surveillance state. It's doubly frustrating that the things she wants to tell Merlyn aren't related to Elliot's expedition and wouldn't violate the NDA. Marcus Raith not actually knowing what he told Elliot he did is an advantage in a way. She needs to find Gates for the conversation he suggested over a week ago; maybe she can discover the limits of the OEI’s ability to overhear.

She is about to say something but pauses, eyes losing focus for a moment. She returns her attention to Merlyn with the somewhat distracted quality of being in two places at once. “All of this is certainly famous for not being able to talk about it,” she agrees. “I realize how frustrating it must be from outside. There are things I'd love to be able to tell you, but I don't think I have enough Richard Ray Swagger to get away with viewing the NDA as more like guidelines than rules.”

“As for personal stuff,” she continues, “honestly some of it would be better to hear straight from Elliot. It's not my place to say.”

"I figure when Elliot gets back maybe he'll explain a few things," Merlyn says, shifting to rest her back on the headboard, tucking the covers around her for comfort. "But I get it, it's top secret stuff and I'm sure some of it would entirely go over my head anyway." She's firmly sticking with the idea of her husband coming back from this trip, and she doesn't hesitate to point it out every time she can.

She laughs dryly. "I'm sort of used to being the one on the outside of things, but most of the time I never wanted to be on the inside before now. I usually don't mind not sticking my nose into something that's way above my 'paygrade'."

“He absolutely will,” Wright says seriously. “He wants to. I'll kick his ass if he doesn't.” She moves to stand but aborts, leaving on the mattress while looking blankly across the room. She raises a hand to signal she's about to talk to Elliot.

"Pneumatic?" Wright says toward the wall, itching a spot behind her ear.

"Iridescent?" she adds a moment later. She sighs, turns back toward Merlyn. “Sorry, work never stops.”

"You know, I've heard of this thing called 'work-life balance' but I haven't met a damn person who has it," Merlyn says with a grin. "Work kinda just trails its way into life anyway, especially if shit ends up dangerous." She rolls over, standing up to stretch next to the bed. "Work is life and life keeps going."

“Ugh,” Wright complains as she finally frees herself from the bed, “laboring for money. Love to make it not exist.”

She makes her way to the closet for a suit that hasn't yet made it to the ‘living on the floor’ stage of its natural life cycle. “I kind of need to ask you a favor,” she says, looking over her shoulder with a smile that doesn't hide a seriousness behind the request.

“Believe me, if there was a way not to work, I’d have found it by now. I think I manage alright, all things considered,” Merlyn replies as she turns to face Wright fully again. “Whatever you need, that’s what I’m here for, just ask it.”

Wright smiles gratefully. “I'm going to preface this,” she starts, slinging the pants onto the bed, “by saying that I love that you are here and I'm so very, very grateful that you would keep me company during this awful time. You're amazing and spending time with you has been a huge relief.”

She crosses the space, pulling a necktie from the back of the desk chair. “I need you to get on the next plane home and text me when you're at the townhouse,” she says.

Merlyn raises a single eyebrow, resting a hand on her hip as she gazes over at Wright. "Good choice with the preface," she chuckles. "I appreciate my feelings being considered. So you need feet in the ground in New York, I'm guessing. I'm also going to hazard a guess that you can't talk about it here?"

Because really, what can they talk about?

Wright smiles playfully, not directly confirming Merlyn's correct guess. “God, you know me so well,” she says. She crosses what space remains between them, making the motions that suggest she would like to embrace the shorter woman.

"I'm getting pretty good at guessing these things," Merlyn replies, meeting Wright for the hug. "Glad the emotional support was helpful. I'm not usually anyone's go-to for that, so it's nice to be able to fill in that role for a bit." She exhales deeply before continuing. "Alright, guess I'm catching a plane out then."

Wright leans her cheek against the top of Merlyn’s head. “You are stunningly good at emotional support,” she says. “Absolute natural.”

“Also I'll pay for the flight,” she adds.

Merlyn leans into the hug. “Glad I’m managing, cause I have no idea what I’m doing being supportive.” She pauses. “Make sure Elliot knows I love him, ‘kay?”

“He knows,” Wright says, feeling his emotions. “He loves you too.”

Red Hook
The Hitchens Townhouse

The smell of smoke lingers like a bad memory. The sun has been seen unfiltered lately, the haze passed with the active wildfires. The house is intact and welcoming.

There’s something reassuring about being in the townhouse again, especially after traveling, and as Merlyn shuts the front door behind her, she’s already got her phone in hand to text Wright the news that she’s safely back and ready for whatever favor might be needed.

Never Wrong
Tuesday, July 6, 2021 ᛫ 3:15 pm
Heeeeeey glad you're home!
Can you grab a ziplock bag and a pair of nitrile gloves from under the sink

There’s a moment where Merlyn stares at her phone blankly before she heads into the kitchen to retrieve the supplies, setting them on the counter before texting back.

Okay, done. What do you want me to do with them?
OK so
I will understand if you are not comfortable with this request, and will respect a decision to decline
I need you to get the spare key to the garden apartment and collect a hair sample from the bed and a toothbrush from the bathroom
The long red kind
Hair, that is
Actually the toothbrush is also red
I need them bagged and brought to the Bastion so they can leverage resources for an expedited tested for Expression

Merlyn sets her phone down on the counter for a moment, her attention going from it to the gloves and ziploc that were intended for a DNA sample. It wasn’t the first time she’d gone in the garden apartment, but it was the first time she’d be going in to do anything privacy violating. She leans on the counter, reading the text over a few times before typing out her response.

Elliot is good with me doing this? It feels a little invasive.
It's his direct request
I can tell you that, if it was possible to make her aware of the situation, he is confident that she would approve of it
Okay, weird request but I trust you both and so I’m sure there’s a good reason for it. I’ll get it bagged up and taken over now. Anything else?
Nothing comes to mind
Also seriously thank you and I'm sorry to put this on you
Hey, it’s fine, so long as no one shoots the messenger anywhere in this process. I've had that happen way too many times, believe me.

"Hey Ginger," Merlyn says, adding a sprinkle of food to the tank where a dull orange beta peeks out from behind a sunken ship. She keeps the spare key to the garden apartment near her tank, the fish serving as some kind of guardian to enter the apartment below. She snags the key ring with a finger, the other hand holding the supplies she's gathered for privacy invasion.

She hasn't gone into Rue's apartment many times, but for the most part it was simply to get an extra container of Ginger's fish food, or to water the plants that livened up the place. Without Elliot there to take care of it, it fell to Merlyn to upkeep things. She was keenly aware of the small traces of Rue that were in the townhouse–the sourdough starter with the name she could never remember, the fish who she talked to occasionally when she needed to get her thoughts out–but the garden apartment was Rue's space. This time her trip downstairs felt much less altruistic.

The bed hasn't fully been made, Rue's clothes are where she discarded them the night before she left, and it still feels as if the red-haired woman might just walk back in at any moment. Not that Merlyn really knows much about her. "Sorry," she apologizes to the air. "I'm going to assume that this is okay on the pretense that I trust Elliot." Rue might not be in the room, but her presence still lingers there as much as her DNA does. Pulling on the gloves, she heads over to the bed to check carefully for stray hairs, then instead turns to check the dresser for a hairbrush. Much easier to find the hair samples neatly collected between the tangled barbs of a brush. "If this does piss you off, you can blame him. Hell, I'll help you exact some kind of revenge if he's lied and said you would be okay with this when you wouldn't."

With the hairs dropped into and sealed within the plastic bag, Merlyn moves to the bathroom next, looking for the red toothbrush she was told would be there. It's an easy enough thing to grab and bag as well, and she makes sure the samples are neatly packaged before she takes the gloves off, snagging her phone from her pocket again.

Okay, I've got the stuff. Is there anyone in particular I should talk to? Do I just show up and hand it over and the rest is history?
Being it to the Bastion and ask for Huruma, she's a gem
You'll love her
Feel free to blame me profusely for the ask
3:26 pm

Shortly Thereafter
Phoenix Heights
The Bastion

The evidence has been carefully tucked away in a faded paper grocery bag, which in turn is tucked in against one of Merlyn Hitchens' arms as she stands in the doorway, honestly a bit unsure as to just what to do other than 'ask for Huruma'. "I swear, if anyone gets mad at me for this, I'm going to kick your ass," she mutters to herself as there's no way to direct it to Elliot himself at the moment.

Fortunately for Merlyn, she doesn’t have to remain uncertain for too much longer. The front door’s electronic bell beeps helpfully.

“Reception is open.” However the ‘hours’ or ‘reception’ work, it seems to be that someone is here. The voice over the bell is a slight drawl filtered by the speaker. “Please have a seat inside, I will be a moment.”

"Thanks," Merlyn says, her tone cheerful even if she's still feeling a bit awkward about things. Pushing the door open, she steps inside the building proper as she folds the top over the paper grocery bag. She takes a seat as soon as she's inside, but takes advantage of the fact that she's got a moment to look around. This is an entire aspect of both Elliot and Wright's lives that she's never really sat and thought about too much. Crossing one leg over the other, she lets out a sigh she didn't realize she'd been holding in.

At the far end of the foyer a door opens with the metallic clink of a bar and a hush of piston. Huruma ascends from the lower level, stepping out and closing the door with her elbow. She wears the tight leggings and sport bra top of workout gear, neck and shoulders still flush with the indicator of cooling down post-regimen.

“Apologies for my state, we are lightly staffed at the moment.” Pale eyes take note of Merlyn’s manner, inward inspection unseen. “What may I do for you?”

"Oh, no, I'm sorry for interrupting in the first place. Wright and Elliot sent me, I'm looking for Huruma, if she's around?" The blonde offers a smile as she rises to her feet. "If she's not around I can come back, I just know it's a bit of a time sensitive matter."

Normally, Huruma might be tempted to take Merlyn on a ride over looking for her. She purses her lips slightly at Elliot’s name, used in the manner of something present tense.

“That would be me…” Time sensitive and all else prevails, and Huruma glances to the front door before leading Merlyn towards the door into the rest of the building, opening the way for her. “Welcome to the doghouse, dear.”

Merlyn follows behind, cracking a bit of a smile at the introduction. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Huruma. I'm Merlyn, Elliot's wife. Not entirely sure if he's ever mentioned me, but don't worry about it if he hasn't. Point is, Wright told me sent me with a DNA sample in hopes of getting a test for Expression, an expedited one. It's important enough that it was worth sending me back here from K.C. just to get it."

“I see.” Huruma skips over the marital relationship with a breezy response to the rest, a masterclass in glossing over whatever she may have known for what she definitely does not. “All the way home, hm?”

“That should not be difficult. We have means.” She glides over to the kitchenette along the side of the lounge, fetching a bottle of water from the cupboard. A look over the shoulder goes to a sharper focus on Merlyn’s bag. “And what could be worth such special attention…?”

"I… can't say I know the intricacies of your organization or its members, but, uh, it's…" Merlyn huffs out a breath after a moment. "Rue's. I'm not entirely certain why this is important and necessary, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that it's not just an invasion of privacy." She pauses, looking at Huruma seriously. "You know Rue. Is this… something she'd be entirely opposed to?"

As far as the slightly convoluted ties between people go, this particular set isn’t getting too puzzling. Huruma still has some inquiries, but those are potentially for days that end with drinks.

“Opposed to? No, I do not think so. Mistrustful of? Likely.” Lips tight, Huruma takes a long draw of water before she continues. “She knows what a good job entails, so to speak…”

“The benefit of the doubt is for people with healthy apprehension.” It sounds reassuring, strangely. “So if you have something you feel you ought to mention…”

Merlyn does seem eased by the tone and she nods her head just slightly. "Elliot's not perfect, but I trust him. Confuses the hell out of me why he needs an expedited Expression test on someone who's off on a separate mission, but I'm willing to believe this is a professional thing and not a personal thing. Still, it still feels like a bit of a violation and I've got no way to even apologize to her for it."

She cracks a small smile. "I've been through enough shit to have just enough hope to hope this isn't a horrible mess."

“It confuses me, too.” Huruma adds on, breath puffing slightly as she extends a hand for the package Merlyn carries. “But the boy is nothing if not endlessly confusing.” Her words filter into a small laugh, low in her chest.

“You can say your apologies when she comes back. Or you could make him do it, I suppose.”

The words get a laugh from Merlyn as she hands the bag over. "Endlessly confusing is an understatement, I feel. Still, I don't think he'd have asked me if it wasn't truly important in some way. He's been trustworthy in what he's asked, all things considered. I suppose I'll just have to offer her an apology once he's explained it to her."

In some way, but of course. Huruma does herself the courtesy of checking inside the bag, a habitual act with mysterious deliveries. Or so that is how she gets to peek at people’s things. In general.

“I can turn it over for testing later today, though no guarantees for time- - I have pull, but so does crime and science.” It’s complicated, you see.

“So, wife now, is it?”

"Well, if you think crime or science could do it faster…" Merlyn muses, then glances at Huruma fully. "We've been married since the end of May. Wright was our witness. Didn't really get as much time together as I'd have liked before he had to deploy, but I've every faith in him coming back, mostly because I'm too damn stubborn to accept otherwise." She grins sheepishly. "I'm a complication, but I accept it."

Deploy is one way to put it, or so she's come to understand. "Well, you are certainly his type, accepting as you are." And seemingly just as full of faith and stubbornness. "I have seen my share of 'deployment' marriages. And those demolished by it, just as much… not to say yours will fail.." Huruma waves a hand, the movement slight as it mimics pushing notions aside. Elliot will need to return first.

"Thankfully Elliot already fucked up the relationship once, so he knows he's really in trouble if he does it again," Merlyn says with a chuckle, then pauses to explain. "We dated before. He dumped me for very stupid reasons and we reconnected and… well, we're married now and I'm apparently collecting DNA samples from his girlfriend. I wish this was the weirdest thing I could say I've done."

Ah, a second wind. Amusement flickers through Huruma’s expression, one shoulder shrugging in something of agreement. “Just wait until you meet the rest of the gang, you will fit right in. I guarantee that by the end you will feel less weird by leaps and bounds.” Maybe that’s supposed to be reassuring too.

“Nevertheless, I am pleased to hear that there is reconciliation in his life.”

"It wasn't a great break, but pretty much everyone other than him realized he'd messed up," the blonde says with a bit of a laugh. "Kind of a fun story now, at least, now that the pain's all over. I can make it sound vaguely romantic." Merlyn's smile broadens. Some of it is romantic, but some details are best left to the realm of illegal pizza delivery.

She takes a moment to truly take Huruma in, her smile broadening. "I'm certain I'm fairly normal in comparison to some of your… packmates?" She's unsure of the term to use, but the idea of Wolfhound really being a pack is a somewhat endearing thought.

Vaguely romantic is still some romantic to the people that matter.

‘Packmates’ earns Merlyn a small laugh, Huruma’s eyes narrowing. “Normal is still relative, but yes. Semi-globetrotting mercenary life tends towards the strange and dangerous. Some romanticizing. That is with only counting after the civil war, mind you.” She clearly loves to talk them up, the honeyed pride quite obvious. Brows lift with another smooth laugh. “Some of us have been weird from birth. It works itself out.”

Merlyn's smile broadens to a grin, a hand resting on her hip. "I might not have been weird from birth, far as I know, but I can keep things pretty strange when I want to. Part of my charm, I think. It's honestly nice to meet you, Huruma. There's… a lot in Elliot's life he and I haven't talked about and being able to see glimpses of him through different lenses is pretty damn interesting. He's kind of a puzzle you continuously only get pieces that don't always fit."

“So far as I know, he likes me,” Huruma snorts faintly. “So that helps my lens.”

“I am glad to meet you as well. I picked up on something and could not place it. Perhaps it was your influence, or some such.” The tall woman leans one arm onto the countertop, a brow arching. “You probably do not realize just how appropriate that metaphor is. Puzzle is putting it lightly, Merlyn.” Huruma’s voice deepens by a tint. Although it isn’t worded like a warning, there is still an offering of precautionary tone. Merlyn is a big girl though, and can make her own decisions on the matter. Make her own discoveries, and her own mistakes.

There's a glimmer of knowing in Merlyn's expression as she looks back over at Huruma. "I'm seeing that, believe me. It's worse not being able to just directly have a face-to-face conversation about everything. Going through Wright is a godsend, but I just look forward to the chance to just look him in the eye and find out if he's okay." She flashes a smile over at Huruma. "Wright said I'd like you. She was right."

“I have a very magnetic personality.” Huruma offers another way of putting ‘of course you do’ into words. “I am sure that you will get the chance to ask, eventually. In the meantime, it seems like we have this to keep your curiosity busy.”

She dangles the bag in her hand a moment, peering quietly at it as if she might translate the problem by thought alone. She’s curious now too, but of course. “It has been a pleasure to meet you, as odd as the fashion may be.”

"I mean, given I don't have any information to work off of on why it's needed…" Merlyn laughs. "I suppose that'll keep me busy while I wait." She shrugs a shoulder. "But I'm honestly glad I got to meet you, and I'm glad the request wasn't too weird. I'm sure it makes sense somehow. If you need to get anything to Wright, I'll probably be headed back there at some point soon. I can physically take any information to her if it needs to be very off-the-record. Consider me a messenger girl. I'm good at that."

Before the decision is made to depart, Huruma pulls a pen and pad from the kitchen countertop behind her, and holds out a note with a straightforward phone number.

“Call this tomorrow afternoon to see if it is done. If this was important enough to have done in person, I will not send Wright any Wolfhound correspondence unless told to. No undue paper trails, for what it is worth.”

Merlyn nods. "I'm all for keeping the paper trail light, even better with it being nonexistent," she agrees. "I'll check back in and keep her updated as things go. I appreciate all your help, Huruma." She takes the slip of paper, tucking it into the pocket of her jeans.

"Take care, and go work your magic." Huruma jokes softly, Merlyn's name the friendly little punchline. She smiles, the expression edging against sly. "I will work mine."

"That's exactly what I do," Merlyn replies with a grin. She wiggles her fingers in parting before she moves towards the exit, her hands going to pull out her phone as she goes.

Huruma's nice. It's been dropped off and I'll be talking to her tomorrow to check in.
You're amazing
Thank you so much
I'm sorry for the intrigue
It's okay, I have to fill my quota for weird things
Just as long as she doesn't come hunt me down later for this
She loves her a smol blonde
Oh good, cause I wouldn’t want us smol blondes going extinct
We are a rare and noble breed
I'll happily take the his if she gets punchy
Ffs *hits
I'm quite partial to rare and noble breeds myself
You’re my hero
I may be a small feisty blonde but I’m not built for taking punches
Let me know if you ever want tusslin’ lessons
Been in many a brawl from a frighteningly young age
Had to keep your husband pretty
Trust me, I appreciate that, I love me some eye candy
That might be a nice thing to practice, honestly
I’m great at talking my way out of a paper bag but if the bag gets punchy sometimes that’s not an option
Sorry, metaphor got away from me there
We’ll start small
Envelopes, those mini gift bags for party favors
I got you girl

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