Never Left Unsaid


elliot_icon.gif merlyn_icon.gif

Scene Title Never Left Unsaid
Synopsis With his departure looming, Elliot and Merlyn put all their feelings on the table.
Date June 1, 2021

The Hitchens' Townhouse
Red Hook

Tuesday, June 1st
8:30 PM

The house isn't quiet by any measure, yet there's a sense of serenity amidst the noise. The television plays quietly and largely ignored. Gusts of wind howl outside, pushing around a ceaseless smoky haze. Elliot turns the pages of a tattered paperback book on the couch beside Merlyn. They haven't said a word in the last hour, and everything is truly fine.

There’s serenity in the near-quiet companionship, and Merlyn has really started to get used to someone just being there. On her lap is a shirt she had ripped recently, needle and thread in hand to try and patch up the tear. The coffee table in front of them holds a small bag that likely had been intended to hold a travel selection of makeup but now hosts a collection of different colored spools of thread and a small collection of needles pushed into a pincushion shaped like a tomato.

She holds the needle between her lips for a moment, adjusting the mending in her lap to check and see how invisible her seam is turning out. The faint sounds of the TV are just something for the background, something to keep her mind from wandering too far from the present.

When Elliot lifts his glass from the side table he's reminded that it's the third time he's done so without remembering that it's already empty. Despite having read this novel shreds, he still gets caught up in it so easily. Sometimes he just holds it open without reading, or focuses not on the print but what's scrawled in pen between the lines.

He lets out a voiceless chuckle as he admits defeat and closes the book without marking his place. It trades spots with his glass and he stands, collecting Merlyn's glass from the coffee table as well. As he passes her on the couch he gives her glass a jiggle to get her attention and asks with his expression, Would you like another?

Merlyn nods her agreement with a little ‘mmhm’ noise accompanying it, careful not to lose her needle in the process. He’s given a warm smile as pre-emptive thanks, one he’ll likely get again once he returns with the beverages. Satisfied with her seam so far, she retrieves the needle from between her lips and starts sewing again now that she knows the rip will barely even be visible. She catches the TV out of one corner of her eye, a soap opera with a pair of men arguing while someone tries to stop them before it comes to blows.

Elliot moseys into the kitchen on bare feet unbothered by the suddenly colder feeling of the harder flooring. The ingredients for this drink are still out on the island, a pitcher of champagne-colored liquid beading with condensation. He rinses both drinking glasses before refilling them, then carbonates both with a soda machine.

Before returning to the living room he picks at the plate of snacks that formed their dinner. When he passes by Merlyn to deposit her drink, he pauses to place a kiss on the top of her head. He carries past without expecting one in return as she's rather busy at the moment.

Merlyn seems to have been making good progress, reaching the end of the rip and beginning to carefully tie off and knot the end so it won’t come undone. The kiss on her head does make her glance up for a moment with a fond smile, then her attention turns back to the little makeup bag full of sewing supplies. She fishes for the tiny pair of scissors she keeps in there, the needle placed between her lips to keep track of it.

Elliot pushes his book further down the table with his glass, not interested in returning to his place. He drinks as he watches Merlyn rather than the TV, feeling the thrill he always feels when she performs basic life tasks in his presence, in their home. He sighs fondly, sitting with his legs up and heels together as he makes memories of these little joys.

With some careful knots, Merlyn finishes off the seam. A small snip of the scissors frees the shirt from the needle, and she sets the shirt on the coffee table. Scissors are tucked away and she retrieves the stuffed tomato from the bag and sticks the needle and what’s left of the thread into it. As she tucks the pin cushion back into its place, she notes the book’s still sitting on the table.

Merlyn picks up her glass, turning a bit to face Elliot. She takes a sip, eyes not leaving him as she does. Lowering the glass, her hand and her drink rest on a knee while she looks in her husband’s direction. “I like it when you stare,” she teases, though her voice sounds honest. “But it always makes me wonder what you’re thinking when you do.” She flashes a broad smile at him.

"Well the cute answer," Elliot replies, "is that whenever I'm staring at you, I can't think straight." He conceals most of a playful grin behind his drink.

“Cute,” Merlyn agrees with an amused grin. “But is the cute answer the correct one? Because really, I don’t mind it if you want to just continue flirting with me…” She takes a sip of her drink before setting it on the table. She bumps him playfully with her knee. “That all you’re thinking about? I don’t mind if you just want to admire me though. I can’t blame you at all for that.”

"You know, I do love to admire you, and very thoroughly," he replies, sighing as he takes a moment to look over her numerous qualities. His smile at her comment isn't playful, he's honestly happy that she's self-confident.

"And I'd like to circle back to that eventually, but mostly I'm actually thinking about how happy I am that you're here with me, even just doing life's menial tasks in each other's company in silence. I love you, in short."

“I don’t think anyone is quite as good at admiring me as you are,” Merlyn notes. “I do have to say I never get tired of you saying you love me. I never will.” She leans her weight in against him, finding comfort in his continued presence. “I love you. Never thought I’d have someone who it doesn’t feel weird to sit around and do things in silence with. That’s not the kind of thing you really know you want until you get it.”

She lets her eyes drift shut for a moment, enjoying his comforting presence. “Definitely one of the best things in life once you’ve found it.”

"Definitely." Elliot crooks his knees and pats the couch between them, looking to draw her into a nest of him where he leans back against the arm of the couch.

Merlyn’s attention is pulled fully to him at the offer, and she shifts her weight, scooting so she can settle herself fully in his arms. As she moves, she idly glances at the TV, momentarily amused at the drama of River Styx before she instead focuses on more of the reality of this moment.

Elliot shuffles around, wrapping Merlyn up in his limbs as tight as a hug before relenting some. He sighs contentedly and leans his cheek against her head. Her hair is free of the scent of the smoke they waded through earlier on their charity drive. He notices the feeling of her pressing against the locket he wears beneath his thin nightshirt, and is compelled to trace his hand along her arm until he feels the pendant chain that wraps around it.

Merlyn settles herself, head resting against his chest. If she had been paying attention to the TV at all before, it’s been completely forgotten as she lets her eyes drift shut. She tips her head to plant a quick kiss to his jaw before she settles back in, enjoying him and their comfort silence.

Elliot is entirely unsure what anybody sees in this horrible show, but he's in no mood to complain without necessity. He focuses instead on seeing to Merlyn's comfort, rubbing the pad of his thumb over her hand to remind her he's here with her in the quiet.

After a while he feels that they could be more comfortable upstairs. He's unsure how far they are into this episode, the pacing is terrible. "How do you feel about ba—" he says only to stop short.

"Sorry," he says, "Wright is pulling my attention, is it okay if I check in on what's up? She won't stream this without an okay." The implication is that if she needs to stream Elliot's perspective to hold a conversation, she will experience this cuddle as intimately as he is.

Merlyn probably hasn’t even been following everything going on, it’s just an added auditory and visual stimulation while she enjoys just being there. She shifts her head a little so she can glance at him, enough of a movement that she can plant a kiss on his jaw.

“Go ahead. She wouldn’t be bothering you if there wasn’t a good reason.” She laughs for a moment. “If she needs me to move, let me know. I’m comfortable.”

Elliot takes a moment to consider the stark contrast between Merlyn's comfort and Marthe's. He almost questions it to confirm that she's okay with effectively snuggling his partner, but Merlyn has agency here and made her decision; he won't question this small blessing. He squeezes her hand in response and lifts his head to look away. "Hot mic," he says for Merlyn's benefit, then for Wright's, "Violet."

Merlyn is, in fact, grateful for the indication. Simply having the knowledge of what’s going on keeps her at ease, and she just remains mostly still and relaxed. She focuses instead on the TV for the moment. River Styx is not the best of shows, but that’s exactly why it’s enjoyable. Elliot is effectively on a phone call, so while she has no intention of getting up and moving unless it was weird, she does focus on something else.

Elliot is still and silent for a minute, showing no reaction to what's happening elsewhere. Sighing, he clears his throat and blinks an acknowledgement. "She's gone," Elliot says softly, not commenting on Wright's thoughts on snuggling with Merlyn. "Just you and me." He rubs Merlyn's arm as what he heard sinks in.

Merlyn leans more fully against him, relaxing more than before now that it’s just them. “It’s always nice when it’s just you and me,” she says, pulling her gaze from the TV to look at him again. “Everything okay with Wright?” She does know, after all, that interruptions like that are usually important.

"We've been called up," Elliot says, eyes then moving to meet Merlyn's. "We ship out on Friday." He didn't expect to be afraid when this inevitability finally showed up, but he is. He doesn't want to lose Merlyn again, doesn't want to be the one lost. The complexities play across his features but he holds himself together.

That immediately has Merlyn sitting upright rather than leaning against him, her eyes scanning his. “Friday,” she murmurs, her voice soft as she takes it in. She had known this would happen, but being in the actual moment is harder than she anticipated. “I wish I felt more ready for it to be that soon. I wish there were more time.”

"I'm sorry," Elliot whispers, not ready to say goodbye so soon. "I wish there were more too, but every second I have until I leave is yours."

"I know. I know that's all we get, it's just…" Merlyn swallows hard, then lifts her arm where the bracelet is. "I'll remember your promise. We'll also be in touch… so we'll both survive it." There's the slightest hitch in her voice at the word 'survive', as it hits her harder than she expects. She inhales, composing herself even though she knows it's the two of them and she doesn't need to. "I'm glad I at least know how much time we have now. It's less of an unknown thing on the horizon and even if it's a known thing now, it's at least something I know how to face head on."

She shifts so she can plant a kiss on his cheek. It's not the lips because she's not done talking and she knows if she does she'll want to hold it for longer and lose her verbal footing. "I'm not letting you not come back, just so you know. I know it sounds unrealistic but you're gonna come back. It'll happen. You'll find a way, the people you're with will find a way, Wright will find a way… hell, I'd even try if I needed to." She doesn't know how impossible that is, but the determination in her voice is almost overwhelming. "Fuck, I'm glad we got this at least. I don't regret anything."

Elliot's breath shudders as he prepares to speak but suddenly doesn't. He lets his head as preemptive grief comes in a wave. His expression screws up and tears form in his eyes, he takes another unsteady breath and tries again. "This means so much to me," he says, eyes down but turning up. "You're so fucking important to me. Having this time with you has saved me from the worst of the dread. You've given me so much hope that I believe I will come back. I didn't before. I wanted to, but now I'm going to."

It's hard for her to keep composed when he's not. Merlyn's throat closes a little, eyes meeting his. "We've still got a little time. We've got that, at least," she murmurs, leaning into him. "Fuck, why is this so hard." She squeezes her eyes shut, but then decides she doesn't want them shut when she can look at him instead. "When you come back, when you come back, you know I'll be here. Wright will make sure I don't get into too much trouble without you." She laughs, still trying not to fully cry. The humor doesn't cut the pain at all. "I can't believe how much this means to me. I mean, the wedding made it feel real and not just me dreaming about it, but this…" She laughs. "This is worth everything to me."

"I know," Elliot assures her, absolutely certain as he pulls her head forward to gently rest against his own. He can't meet her eyes easily from this close, but doesn't bother obscuring the tears that do break free. "I know. Even if you're not here, I'll come home to you there. It doesn't matter where we're together."

Merlyn shifts so she can slide her arms around him, needing to be able to hold onto him. "Wright will keep us in touch. I'm so glad she can do that. Honestly, I think I'd be going out of my mind if I didn't have any word from or about you at all. I'm so glad for that." She inhales deeply. "We'll find each other. As soon as possible. I know you'll be back when you can. You've got good people, as you've told me. You'll make a plan to get back." Her voice waivers slightly. "Fuck, I wish I was better at always being confident about these things. I know it'll be fine but there's always this part of me that remembers how much the world likes to fuck with me."

"You're the one who told me that the world doesn't have motivations," Elliot says. Merlyn's arms wrapped around him provide him the chance to wipe the tears from his face. He's embarrassed to cry, but simultaneously relieved to be able to. The intimacy of being safe with her amazes him; he catches the embarrassment and lets it pass.

"We're the ones with agency here," he continues. "We get to fight circumstance with purpose. I'll fight for you with everything I have. I'll build a bridge home by hand if I have to."

“I really hope it doesn’t take building a bridge by hand,” Merlyn cracks a smile. “That might take a while.” The humor comes a little easier now, likely because the way he says it seems to be hitting home. She believes it, and the tightening of her arms is less that she fears he won’t ever return and more that she wishes they had more time before this mission gets in the way.

“It’s unlikely I can really do anything to help, but if there is something I can do, anything, have Wright tell me.” Her smile is tender, genuine, unlike the smiles she uses on others. “Fuck, I hate that I have to lose you for a while all over again. It was hard enough doing it once and this time I’ve got a better Elliot to lose.”

Elliot laughs and sniffles. "I'm sorry I wasted so much fucking time," he says, then realizes he's been meaning to move from an uncomfortable position since before Wright pinged him. He slides his legs off of the couch into a more stable sitting position, then pulls Merlyn onto his lap. "I'm sorry I was such a fucking asshole. I wish I had more time to try to make it up to you before I have to go."

Grateful for the much more comfortable position, Merlyn wraps her arms around him and leans so she can see his face. She wants to admire him while he’s still here. “It’s okay,” she laughs. “Everyone’s an asshole at some point. I’m just so, so glad that you decided to apologize and that I decided you were worth the risk.” It was a risk, emotionally. That pain hit deep, and this one feels a little like it, but she has no one she can yell at in her head for it.

“I know it’s going to be hard, but just thinking about how it’s going to feel hugging you when you get back makes me hopeful. It makes me happy.” True happiness is not something she gets often.

Elliot grins, taking a moment to clear the water from his eyes. "Holy fuck, me too," he says. "Both things. I'm so glad you gave me the chance to be good to you and I'm already thinking about our reunion. Not thinking about it too much; we still have a few days for me to focus on getting in as much apology as possible. I hope you're prepared to have your every need and whim catered to."

Merlyn grins, leaning in to steal a quick kiss. “I’m going to enjoy having you for the rest of the time I do, but believe me I’ll be thinking of that reunion often.” Color does creep into her cheeks at the mention of being catered to. “You’ve already been the one to give me the first of many things. I’ve done so much with you that I’ve never had the chance to do at all otherwise and somehow I think you like getting to be the one to show me things.”

She does sigh, though there’s still a touch of amusement there. “I think you’ve got me too addicted to you, I’m going to go through withdrawals.”

"Not addicted," Elliot says, "just invested. We can figure out a way to make sure you don't miss me too much. You're right though, I really, really do like to be the one who shows you new things."

"This really could take a while," he continues, not remorseful so much as constructive. "If you have needs that require catering to while I'm gone, I'm totally fine with you shopping local. Even while I'm not gone, really. I don't fool myself into thinking I'm able to meet one hundred percent of your needs all the time, though I'm shooting for a large percentage. I trust you to be safe and I will never think less of you for your choices."

“I’d say I’m pretty invested, given I married you,” Merlyn teases, then leans in to kiss him. It’s brief, just a gentle reminder of her continued affection before she speaks again. “You’re very sweet. I’m glad to know where you stand on it, even if that is the last thing on my mind. I also hope that it doesn’t take as long as you think it will, I’m just going to have to remain optimistic about that one.”

She smiles broadly as she studies him. “In case you were wondering, you’re doing a great job with that large percentage.”

Elliot hums with satisfaction. "Always happy to accommodate," he says with a sly grin, "because I'm always starving for you."

He darts in with a kiss of his own. "I have a couple things for you though," he says with reluctance to stray from the topic of his appetites. "Just in case it does take longer than I want it to." He leans forward while she still sits in his lap, holding her in place only loosely while retrieving his silver business card case from the coffee table. "Pardon me," he says as an afterthought, "just need to get… this."

She raises an eyebrow, tucking herself in close so it’s easy for him to reach to the coffee table. Merlyn’s not fond of the idea of him being away at all, but it takes little to spark her curiosity and he’s already done that. “Pretty sure it’s already gonna take longer than you’d like it to,” she teases before she watches him and the case.

Elliot pops the case open behind Merlyn's back and draws a card from each side of the stack. He hands himself the first so he can then hand it to Merlyn while still supporting her perch on his lap. "This is my Wolfhound card," he says. "If you ever have a code red emergency, you can get help here. Memorize the number just in case."

“Nice to have backup,” Merlyn says, studying the information on the card. “That is seriously not a number I hope I ever have to use, though.” Mostly, that’s because shit would have to really hit the fan. “Somehow I doubt I’d get into that much trouble. But if I get into something I can’t talk my way out of, I’ll not be stubborn and actually ask for help.” She grins, trying to at least be lighthearted about the possibility of some kind of serious danger.

"Sensible," Elliot says, passing around the other card. This one is a finer stock, blank on one side. The opposite face beats an embossed logo of some kind: a snake with a head at both ends tied in a figure-eight knot. "This is a different nuclear option, in case you find yourself running afoul of Gideon d'Sarthe. He and the manager of Rossignol will recognize this card and the alias Al Rosen. But if you're tired to a chair and can ask to speak to a manager, this will make me owe him one but it's better than you being hurt over a misunderstanding."

“I can take a punch but d’Sarthe has a few too many fists for my liking,” Merlyn says as she takes the second card. “He’s not someone I tend to tread too close to. I’m small potatoes and that’s pretty much how I like it.” She steals a quick kiss. “Seems like you’ve got all your bases covered in getting me out of trouble, even if one of them might have consequences in the long run.”

"I like to have all my bases covered," Elliot admits. "They also know my real name, but if you need to kick it up through a couple nobodies first the alias is probably better. The restaurant manager goes by Ace."

He leans back, discarding the case on the end table. "There's one more thing," he says a bit more seriously. "Wright may reach out to you with little to no notice to tell you to go somewhere, or to get on a plane. Maybe not Wright, but an agent of the Department of the Exterior, who I'm doing this job for. If that happens you need to drop what you're doing and go. A don't bother locking up scenario. Take your emergency bag and go where they're sending you. I'll meet you where you're going, Wright and her family will be going too."

“Shit,” Merlyn says, her expression turning serious. "Mmkay, I was worried about whatever you're doing but now I'm kinda super worried about whatever it is you're doing." She studies him, her eyes full of concern as she seems to be puzzling out in her head just how bad it could be. "I trust you. I also trust Wright. I don't know these Department of the Exterior people, but I will tentatively trust them if it means getting to safety. Safety and you." She inhales deeply. "I knew this was something serious and there wasn't a plan for extraction but now I'm…"

Now it feels like danger. Now it feels real.

"You're coming home to me," she says, firmly, as if it were already a fact known to the universe.

"I am," Elliot agrees. "Wherever we are, I'm home."

Immediately after he says that, Merlyn buries her face in against his shoulder, arms tight around him. Whatever words she's got left leave her, mostly because it would be her just repeating the same things. Words on how she loves him, how he needs to come back, how they need to be together. All of those sentiments are wrapped up in the hug, the desire to just feel him there with her while she can.

She lets the silence linger, resting closely against him, thoughts drifting through her mind. Thankfully, they weren't thoughts of the danger he'd be facing, or the danger he thought she might be facing, but instead a thought from before Wright had tugged for his attention. She pulls back just enough so she can look at him and catch his gaze.

"… you were asking about how I felt about something earlier, before the news. What was it?"

"Oh right, thank you for reminding me," Elliot says, planting a chaste peck on her cheek. "How do you feel about back to back orgasms?"

The innocence of the cheek kiss followed by the words gets a sudden bubble of laughter from Merlyn. "Oh fuck, she's got incredible timing," she's doing her best to regain her composure. "I am actually really glad you didn't finish that sentence before she interrupted. I can't imagine the awkwardness that could have been." She pauses, then grins at him. "I guess I made it slightly awkward because I didn't decide to move. Hope Wright didn't mind, but I was comfortable."

Merlyn grins at him. "And, for the record, you do have to make up for as much time as possible, so I think your question is especially important now."

Elliot laughs, nuzzling into her neck for a moment. "It's a question for the ages," he says. "I intend to make up as much time as humanly possible."

"And Wright was fine with it," he adds, "which we should probably talk about. Our boundaries are… complicated. You and I haven't really delved deeply into that."

"We are only limited by the human body's capacities," she replies with a grin, though the mention of boundaries gets her fingers to reach up to tangle in his hair. "You're right. We haven't really talked too much about it, I know you mentioned things got blurry in the past. Given that you're about to go away for a while and Wright's gonna play switchboard, it might be a good idea to have that conversation while we still have the chance."

"A very good idea," Elliot agrees. He thinks for a moment on where to begin, relaxing into Merlyn's fingers.

"Wright and I have a singular level of intimacy," he says. "We definitely shared too often, and there were some boundaries but few were set in stone. So now everything is informed consent, we don't share across our homes without it being an emergency. We'll always let you know if it's happening. You are always allowed to say no, or change your mind. If you want hard limits we will accommodate; you have a say in this and we will respect what you are and aren't comfortable with."

“That seems to make sense and be reasonable,” Merlyn says. Her fingers in his hair pause for a moment. “So really, our situation earlier was a perfect example. You informed me, I was fine with it, and it was an emergency. It doesn’t bother me, especially with just knowing when it’s going on. Wright’s lovely and it didn’t bother me that she got a little cuddle.” She laughs.

"I'm sure she'll be happy to hear that," Elliot laughs. "She loves a good cuddle. Big hugger, that one."

He relaxes a bit of tension he'd built up since the conversation took a more serious turn. "Is there anything you want from us," Elliot asks, "Assurances or hard limits or questions? Also it turns out that this is just as uncomfortable as the other way, how about you just straddle my legs for a bit?"

Merlyn laughs and shifts her weight, moving to adjust her position so she’s straddling his legs. “I’d prefer you be comfortable,” she says, stealing a small kiss as she resettles herself. “I think in general just a warning about what’s going on is enough. I trust the both of you and just having knowledge and control over my comfort is enough for me. It also does make me feel a little better knowing I won’t make her uncomfortable if I want to send a hug when you’re gone.”

"Are you sure?" Elliot asks, hands wrapped around her hips to pull her an inch, rather suddenly, toward himself. "You don't forbid streaming after ten PM? No streaming while hand-holding? Would you like a secret hand signal if I'm live?" With each question he scoots her a little bit closer until he's close enough to tickle her neck with his nose.

There's the tiniest little giggle that Merlyn lets out at the scooting, and when there's the slightest tickle at her neck she leans in against him, lips curved into a grin. "I'm not concerned if Wright gets a hand-hold or a snuggle," she teases. "In general, if you just let me know if you're streaming I'm pretty good. If you want to get complicated and have a secret hand signal, you can do that. I just only want to know so I don't end up making Wright awkward or me slightly embarrassed."

Elliot's only response is a smile, threading his hands through her hair to pull her forehead down to his. He's grateful for her trust, conflicted because she shouldn't. There's a sudden wave of emotion that he has to take time to navigate before he speaks.

"Lyn, I love you so much," he says, mostly succeeding in keeping his voice from breaking as the reality of his mission returns. "I don't want to leave anything unsaid, even knowing Wright will be able to talk to you for me. I fucking love you and I can't wait to spend our days getting old together. I want to wake up beside you and feel my heart skip a beat because it will always be a miracle that you're here with me. I'm going to be back for you, I'm going to be here for you, I'm going to prove to you that I'm not going to leave you on your own again. You have me. We're in this together now."

Merlyn can feel the prick at the corner of her eyes, but she ignores it. The way her heart pounds in her chest is also ignored because she’s too busy taking in his words. “I’m glad we still have some time together. It’s not just that I’m happy to have the chance to say everything I want, but it’s also that I want you to have the chance to feel how much I care beyond just saying it.” She exhales deeply, not even having realized just how much she had been holding onto her breath.

“I know you only just found out how soon you’re leaving, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already imagined how good it’s going to feel when you come back and I’m holding you again for the first time. I want you to understand that having you means more than anything to me. I know I’m usually a bit skeptical about good things in the world actually happening because I’ve seen so much bullshit, but everything that I’ve felt and are feeling towards you in all of this makes me know and understand what actual good in the world feels like. I’d fight to make sure we always have this.”

Elliot feels a light in his chest that bubbles up as relief and joy compounded. He doesn’t bother trying to keep his eyes dry; in this moment he needs to feel everything, to show everything. “Thinking of coming home to find you waiting gives me life,” he says. “I don’t kid myself that everything will be perfect when Rue gets back, we’ll all have to adapt. But I’m going to fight for us with everything I have. Knowing that you will too takes the doubt away.”

He pulls her into a tight hug, her head resting on his shoulder and no space left between them. “This is more than we ever were,” he says softly. “Even at our best before, this is the us that I want. Not a burst of desire because I ran into you and I missed you, not getting along and trying to make it work. I want this. This absolute certainty, this commitment, this life with you. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Merlyn doesn’t try to hold back the tears anymore. She cries quietly against him, tears both happy and sad, her arms tight around Elliot. She knows there will be plenty of sad tears later when he’s gone. For now, she sheds these ones because the emotion is overwhelming and wonderful. She couldn’t ever ask for more than that. It’s hard to hear exactly what she says, mostly because it’s buried against him. What it does sound like is her echoing his words over and over. When she’s finally done with her tears, she squeezes him tight before she pulls back just enough to watch him.

“I’ve never felt so certain of anything in my entire life,” she says, her voice soft. “Thank you for everything, even though it took so much for us to get here. I’d do it all over and over again even if I knew it would bring us tears.” She brings one hand up to her face, wiping away the tears there.

Elliot reaches up to gently pull her hand away, kissing her clean of the rest of her tears.

She laughs slightly at the gesture, her cheeks flushed with color, and she shuts her eyes for the moment to allow the tender kisses. When her tears are fully gone, Merlyn opens her eyes to look at him. “I think if I say anything more I’ll be talking myself in circles,” she murmurs. “But I almost don’t mind it because I want you to hear it from my lips in person while we have the chance.”

Elliot cups her jaw, caresses her cheek. "All you have to say is where to kiss you."

“Everywhere,” Merlyn replies.

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