She's Not Me


elaine2_icon.gif rhett_icon.gif

Scene Title She's Not Me
Synopsis Elaine and Rhett have some tension over the question of if Elaine is her or her.
Date February 8, 2020

Elaine and Rhett's Apartment, Cresting Wave Apartments, Yamagato Park

With a clean bill of health for both of them, it was a short ride back to the apartments—that was the perk of working at Yamagato, proximity to the apartments. It meant they had time to calm any nerves as much as possible before they entered the apartment. Elaine hangs her purse near the door, moving inside and taking off her shoes as she goes, balancing on one foot to take the other shoe off.

"I'd make a joke about that being quite the day at work but I don't think that's really the greatest joke in the world." She moves towards the couch, intent on sinking down on it. "That was definitely a lot to unpack, a lot to process. I'm not sure how to even start."

"I don't really understand what we were seeing, or whose viewpoint… or who any of the people were," Rhett admits with a softened smile. He steps aside from the door, removing the bandage from his inner arm where some blood was drawn, and throwing it away in the trash. He massages the elbow and bicep of that arm before rubbing his sleeve back down into place. Rhett has been amiable enough but distant: possibly just troubled by the bizarre vision and seeing people shot. He doesn't approach the couch right away, he moves into the kitchen instead. He's within visible range, as he puts water in a teakettle, putting it onto the heat.

It's minor, but it's a small reveal that he does feel at home here: and he knows where things are like the teakettle - and more, comfort to do it without asking or making any big deal out of it.

She seems relieved that he's still close, even if it's from across the room. Elaine tucks her legs up under her, dragging the throw blanket from the other side of the couch to come rest in her lap. "I can do my best to explain things, but not all of it makes sense to me. People I've never met, places I've never been… it's a mess. I'm trying to determine what it means and if it needs to mean anything. I wanted some answers but I'm not sure that I'm asking all the questions here."

She rests her head on the back of the couch. "I got to see my mother again. That was what meant the most to me."

"Well," Rhett begins. "Do you want to talk through it, or would you rather put it aside for a little while?" he inquires. He comes around the kitchen island but doesn't come over to the couch fully, staying near where the teakettle is heating roughly. He leans backwards against the edge of the kitchen's island, folding his arms low across his middle, looking at her on the couch with her blanket nest.

He's still visible, but he hasn't joined her on the couch yet. The tea's a good excuse, at least, but Elaine's aware there's some discomfort there. "I mean, I don't know. Do you want to talk it through? I'm not the only one who saw all that. Maybe I know a tiny bit more than you, but you still witnessed things that aren't exactly comfortable." She recalls how strange it was watching bullets race past and strike people around the other her. It's not an experience she wants to repeat. "You seem entirely unnerved."

Rhett considers. "Well, let's start with the first part. A little girl with an injury on her head. She spoke in chinese, I think. Do you know or remember the child? Is she related to your mom in some way you remember, or is this something before you?" Rhett asks, starting there.

"From what I know, this is before me. Before I was born. It was Japanese, and I think that was when she came over. The timeline thing. The girl, I think, might have been Kimiko… if only because of the way she was reacting. I'm not sure how they knew each other, but I also didn't know my mother knew any Japanese. I'm not sure the connection there, honestly." Elaine laughs a little.

"It's the simplest of all of the memories and yet it's the one that gives me the most questions."

"Why save that in a mirror?" Rhett asks, nodding some. "It has to have some sort of significance, doesn't it? Why keep that random meeting?" He taps some of his fingers on the top of his other crossed arm, but then releases a slow breath. "Maybe Kimiko is also from another time or place?" he suggests.

"Ms. Zimmerman seemed to think that it was kind of a practice run when she mentioned the mirror containing these memories. Practice before putting those sort of memories on something a little better suited to the process. So I imagine they were memories just pulled from my mother that they used to test."

Elaine seems to think on this for a moment. "Well, the aurora tells me that whatever was going on was significant, I think that was what happened, though I'm not sure the link with Kimiko. I'll have to ask her if she knows anything about it."

"Wait. Okay. Hang on," Rhett says, confused. "Somebody put memories from your mother to test a mirror? Why her? And then later, it got more memories? I just… don't follow why," Rhett says, with clear confusion. "And who has an ability to print memories on mirrors? I feel like that person could give us more. Why your mom, out of everyone out there for a test. Because she's from another version of the reality? Is that a part of it? This is just…" Rhett kind of gives up, with a drop of his shoulders. It doesn't make sense to him.

"I know there were a couple of people who came over by accident. Then they wiped everyone's memories and made them live normal lives. These are some of the memories that got taken away. Ms. Zimmerman seemed to imply that they started trying with objects like the mirror and then just eventually moved to other things. I don't think we know or have access to this person who made them."

Elaine seems a little frustrated, but not because of him, because of her own lack of explanation. "The other memories I don't think were part of the mirror. I think it was the red thing, the ghost. I believe it kind of piggybacked, so to speak."

"Because it was interested in your mother's memories?" Rhett asks. "Is she also other Elaine's mother?" The link there is a little puzzling, too. If Elaine's mother came from somewhere else, is it from that same place? Or is that another copy of the person? Rhett goes quiet, rubbing one hand up over his jaw and neck, and turns to go fiddle with the tea. It's just confusing.

"I'm not entirely sure what it was interested in. I think it wanted to be seen… which it did. I just don't know what it wanted to say," Elaine rubs her neck, then shakes her head. "Wouldn't make sense to be other Elaine's mom. I was born much later than when she came over, so unless the other Elaine was much older than me, they're unrelated."

Rhett has selected a valerian root tea to make, and sets about arranging it, pouring the heated water and steeping the tea mixture. The scent of it starts to drift into the main room out of the kitchen. It's one of multiple teas that Rhett procured some time ago, and brought over in a small tin box from his boat within the last week.

"I apologize. I realize you don't know either," Rhett says finally.

Elaine fusses a bit with the blanket on her lap, shaking her head. "No, it's alright. You just want answers and for things to make sense. So do I… but it's beyond me. This isn't much of anything that makes a lot of sense. That's all stuff I'd never seen and the significance of most of it is lost. Perhaps Kimiko understands more, but they're just… people, doing things. Like I came in to a TV show after the commercials and missed the first half. I can piece together bits of it, but the nuance and full meaning of things…"

She shrugs helplessly. "I can't help you there. I can tell you what I do know, but I'm no fount of knowledge. If I really wanted to know I'd have to find someone else to explain it… and I'm not sure who, for some of it."

"Well, this is… was…. visions for you," Rhett says, after pulling back some, putting himself into check a little. "That came alive near you." For what reasons, for what purposes? It just makes Rhett feel helpless to be of any help on any of it. He orients back onto the tea to check on it. All he's doing is digging around on the questions and making it worse, he senses.

Is there any point to discussing it? What can they gain, does it help her? Rhett focuses on the tea project after raking his fingers through one side of his hair.

"I don't know, really. I don't know what I was supposed to see or how it was going to be helpful or if it was just that: memories of people who are dead now." Elaine shakes her head, laying her head back against the couch. "I don't know that I can make this any easier for you. I don't know what to say." She seems, for the moment, conflicted.

"You shouldn't have to. It isn't about me," Rhett says, as he comes back with a cup full of warm tea for her, offering it from the back of the couch near her head, holding it there and waiting for her to sense it and look over at him or to take it from his hand.

"I'm sorry I broke this connection to your mom," Rhett says, a frown in his tone. He feels bad. What if there were more of her mom in it, and it's gone?

"It's okay. Mr. Sullivan said that the surface was damaged anyway, it didn't seem like he could pull anything else before the ghost-thing did what it did. Really, you did the most rational thing and I wouldn't change it," Elaine offers a smile. "I got to see her one last time and that's all I really needed. And you got to see her… that actually means a lot to me as well. It's part of why I'm glad you were there."

She takes the tea from him carefully before sitting up fully straight again. "You got to see my family."

Whatever it was in that last sentence, there was a soft smile from Rhett and some evasion. Or he just went to fetch his own tea, since he'd brought hers to her in both hands. He goes to get it, returning.

"Yes, your family," Rhett says, with a relaxed done as he stirs it around once or twice, coming back into the living room.

"What was it like, seeing him again?"

"Wait, what? Who?"

Elaine sits up a bit, squinting at him in confusion as she holds her tea cup. "I mean my mom. Sure, my dad wasn't in there, but you got to see my mom. I think she would have liked you." She still looks confused, taking a long sip from her tea before it hits her and she almost spits it out.

"… I'm sorry did you mean Magnes?"

"Does he need to be contacted about any of this?" Rhett asks, with a relatively even release of breath through his nose, and a quiet, calm smile. His blue eyes are more resolved, acceptance there. "The visions' content."

"Why would this matter to him?" Elaine seems a little confused as to what he's getting at. "He was in those visions, so obviously he'd remember them. I don't want to bring Magnes into this at all. Why should it matter if there were visions from her?" There's some tension, not because she's upset at Rhett, but because she tends to get a little annoyed when there's talk of Magnes.

Rhett has noticed the tension around when he talks about Magnes, which could mean a lot of things. It could just be discomfort related to any ex-boyfriend mentioned to Rhett, really. Or something still there. And a big spotlight got shone on some of that earlier that day.

"If it were me, and my…. Deceased wife left messages on a mirror, I'd want to know. If some of the visions had someone saying my daughter's name… I mean." Rhett just shakes his head, as if this were very clear to him. "Is it crazy to think the messages could be for the person, or people, she loved?" Rhett asks. The calm cracks and his brows drop, a clear pain drawing into his expression and eyes.

Rhett just swallows, though, and turns his sad gaze down into his tea.

Elaine's lips form a thin line. It's not a happy look. "Look, I get you might feel bad for him. I would understand this if it were anyone other than Magnes. If we find his daughter, yes, we'll bring her to him. If I felt she wanted to send any sort of messages to him? Maybe. But Magnes is like opening Pandora's Box. You let out a bunch of demons or something just because you're curious."

She looks into her teacup. "If you were to tell Magnes that there was something that had the memories of his dead wife? He would hatch a plan to bring her back. We're talking about a man who dragged a woman across timelines because she resembled his ex. He's not just some pushover either. He has abilities that, if used correctly, can cause some massive damage. It's not a good idea to give him the faintest hint of hope that somehow he can bring her back. Because if he's got some kind of plan to somehow resurrect her… you can bet he's going to try and drag me into it."

"All right," Rhett says, after quietly listening to her reasoning and frustration. "You know him, and what he'll do. Okay." Rhett gives in without argument of any sort, he drinks the tea in his hand. "His daughter is missing?"

"Taken by someone," Elaine murmurs, her voice softer. "I don't know exactly if she's alright or any details about what happened, I just know he's looking for her. And if her mother is gone, which I'm guessing based on what happened that she is, then she deserves to have her father… even if I'm not sure how well that will go. She's still his." She takes a sip of her tea. "I saw her, when that thing hit. Nothing hurt, but I saw some kind of memory, I think. I've seen what she looks like."

She examines her teacup for a long moment. "I don't know that I can help find her, though. I don't have any clues, Magnes never gave me any hints the one time he spoke to me about things… and even if he did, I wouldn't have remembered them, I was too busy reeling from the 'oh yeah, I got with an alternate version of you and we had a kid'." She sounds frustrated. "Magnes is the kind of person who thinks that a sidewalk is an okay place to just throw that information at someone." She lets out a slow breath. "If I find out about her at all, sure, I'll tell him. That's a little girl. She doesn't deserve what's happened to her. But it's not for him, it's for her."

"Who steals a child?" Rhett asks rhetorically, with a sort of disgusted loathing under his mostly calm tone. He doesn't follow it up with anything, though, he just continues to listen to Elaine, though he's looking at her now.

The jury is still out about if she's been infiltrated by the dead ghost of her other self.

"You saw her, when you said her name?" Rhett asked. "What else? Just her face?"

"I heard her voice, she said someone was there. I couldn't see who the figure was, but there was someone with her, they had eyes that glowed blue." Elaine shakes her head. "But that's it. I think it was a memory, maybe, of when she was taken? I don't know how you'd track 'glowing blue eyes'. Not like you can just google that sort of thing."

She takes a sip from her teacup. "It did feel weird, experiencing it like I was there and not like I was watching in a mirror. It's why I said her name, I think. I think she said her name."

"I saw, I felt— all that lighting, that ghost, pass through me, and into you, just before that," Rhett says, nodding a little bit. He taps his thumb on the edge of the cup. "How are you feeling now?" he inquires, more gently. He did give her soothing tea, with the intent to subtly help her relax. And perhaps for his own worry.

"You seemed … disoriented." Not herself. It's shaken Rhett, though he's very good at not seemed rattled or stressed out in particular. He doesn't want however he feels to impact her while he worries about her. He can't fight a ghost, chase a ghost, or expel a ghost. He can't even see it or sense it, beyond to know it was there. And could still be there.

"And in pain."

"It didn't hurt, not really. I felt myself crying a little because that was how she felt during whatever that vision was. Everything just felt kind of like…" Elaine does seem to struggle for words, to find some kind of comparison. "Like you're watching a movie and you're really into watching the movie so you forget what's going on around you and then when it's over you're suddenly aware of where you're sitting and you have that moment where you're like 'oh right, I'm here'."

She looks back over at him, to see if he's following. "It was kind of like that. Just a little disoriented after suddenly experiencing the vision rather than seeing it. I won't lie that it felt strange, but… I feel fine now. I don't feel different."

"Okay," Rhett says, with a gently teasing tone to his voice, and cracking a smile forward. He looks down into his emptied tea cup, and crosses to her, with an indication to hers. "More, or are you good?" he asks, standing near her covered legs under the warmed blanket-nest. "Or something else?" he offers, willing to bring her whatever she may need.

"Another cup of tea would be nice, and then maybe come sit with me?" Elaine offers him a gentle look, but it's a worried one. "You sure that weird lightning bolt didn't hurt you? I don't know if I'm just imagining it, but… is there something wrong?"

Rhett takes her cup away from her, but then stands there with the two cups, one in each hand. He's clearly deciding how to phrase it, blue eyes clouded with the difficulty of it. He lingers just a little bit too long, looking at the cups, but then brings forth a kind smile to her.

"Don't worry about me, please. Same kind?" Rhett asks, lifting the cups, his question related to the same flavor of tea as he retreats to take care of it.

Elaine watches him, her face conflicted, her gaze landing on the teacups for only a moment before looking back to his face. The blanket nest is abandoned as she gets up to her feet, looking at him seriously as he retreats. "Rhett, please be honest with me. What's wrong? What happened? Did you see something?"

There was more than enough hot water still available, and Rhett is drawn into the relaxed busywork of preparing more of the tea to steep in the heated water from the kettle. Since she's in the kitchen she'll notice his is sort of disgustingly strong: but that can't be a surprise, with his flavor preferences. Or more specifically, his ability to downgrade tea into water.

"Sort of. I'm just…" Rhett doesn't want to tell her, so he quiets, resting his hands on the counter, palms on the edge of it, his weight resting forward on his arms some.

"I should have done more to protect you from that thing," Rhett ends up with.

"You couldn't have, Rhett, it went right through you. You did absolutely everything you could… and I'm fine. All I saw was that vision and that was it. I haven't seen anything else, I haven't felt anything else. You protected me as much as you possibly could have," Elaine moves to be closer—not quite within his bubble, but lingering close, making her presence known.

"Please don't feel any guilt over any of this. Just be happy we got to see my mom." She grins. "I think I got all my good looks from her."

"My everything wasn't enough, is the trouble," Rhett says, with a smile that's coming from a place of being uncomfortable, not actually being happy or smiley for any pleasant reason. It's a little grim.

"You started to speak as the.. Ghost," Rhett finally gives forward. He looks at the cups, but then makes himself stop it and finally looks right at her. It scared Rhett good, and it's causing a lot of the tumultuous flickers of emotion behind the calm veneer. Seeing a spirit enter Elaine and not leave has created a lot of difficulty for Rhett, demonstrated originally when he really pushed on if she recognized him.

Nevertheless, he seems to try to go with her as she makes the joke. It's a valiant attempt. "Your mother … She seemed very kind." And scared and calling for an injured child, so context. He wasn't looking at Roselyn's beauty at the time, not at all.

"Not everything is your fault, Rhett. Sometimes bad things happen, they just do. If we're always considering ourselves not enough, we'll never be happy with anything we are." Elaine looks at him, taking the moment to step closer to him, not crowding him, but simply being within arm's reach. Close.

She looks at him for a moment. "I spoke because she spoke. It was the final vision. I experienced it instead of seeing it in the mirror. It was more real, I felt it that time, and then it was gone." She lets out a breath. "Is there anything I can do or say to help you see that it's not your fault and that I'm fine?"

"It wasn't you quoting her that concerned me," Rhett says, with a slight move of brows, shaking his head. He looks at her more directly, searching through her eyes. "It's when I asked you who Addie was. And you started to tell me she was yours. Is she yours?" Rhett asks, with a sort of pressing worry.

Is she possessed? How can he figure it out? Is this unfair to her? But the evidence showed she is. And he doesn't know what to do to recover his Elaine.

Rhett's voice catches a little. "I want you to be you." And he saw she's not her. And it's breaking him. Rhett clears his throat and tries to pull himself together. "Here," he says, offering her her tea, shaking off his sadness. A real smile comes, a softened love in his eyes.

"No, she's not mine," Elaine states, firmly. "Because she is not me. I only said what I said because I came out of that feeling what she felt. For a second, I got to fill her shoes. She didn't fill mine. I've never not been in control. It just felt reflexive, coming out of that memory. And it was already confusing enough to experience it."

The frustration on her features is evident even after she takes the cup of tea in hand. He might have pulled himself together, but she hadn't reached that point yet. "I am me. I've been me. I've never stopped being me. All I did was see what she saw, I never changed!"

Rhett moves a hand to the honey he got out, and puts some into her tea. It's something to do, something to look at. It isn't really busy nerves: he doesn't do it fast. More of something that's rooted in familiarity with her.

"What did it feel like, to think as her?" Rhett asks, then. "How did she feel right then?"

The frustration eases a little when his line of questioning seems less like he might accuse her and more that he was curious about the experience. Elaine watches him with the honey, observing it even as she tries to explain the experience.

"It never felt like I was her. It always felt like I was along for the ride. To use my movie example, it was like watching the story of someone and then feeling bad for them when you see them hurt unjustly. You understand and are sympathetic because you've seen the journey they've been on. I don't really recall thoughts, I just felt emotion. Like I knew she was going away. Like there was nothing that could be done to stop it. It was sad. It just felt strange because, unlike a movie, being there made it feel real."

"Who was going away? That Addie was being taken from you?" Rhett clarifies. "By the guy with the blue eyes? Did she say anything?"

"Like I knew Addie was being taken away from her," Elaine's the one clarifying now. "It was a woman, and the woman said nothing. Addie said someone was there."

Was Rhett trying to catch her with language? Hard to know. He's not a detective, though, so this isn't an interrogation. He nods a little bit as she clarifies, and picks up his own tea. He doesn't drink it, but he does breathe in the warmth of the steam coming off of it into his lungs deeply.

And then gives Elaine a more calm but serious look.

"Elaine," Rhett begins, pausing. "An electric ghost that can scorch walls passed through me and entered you. And may still be there. I'm worried about you. I'm afraid of what this did, or may do. If you come to any urge to hunt for Addie, or Magnus, or anything, please talk to me. I'll help you. We'll sort it out." And the last thing Rhett needs is her feeling like she needs to hide any of that from him, or go off somewhere possessed!

"I understand you are saying you feel fine. But you talked to me as this other person. Please understand that I am worried for you; imagine if I did that, spoke from the viewpoint of a ghost. We really don't know what just happened. But it wasn't nothing. I'm not trying to accuse you."

"I'm not feeling any of that. I appreciate your concern, but perhaps you're jumping the gun." Elaine looks back at him, her expression just as serious. "I understand that something happened. You being worried? Completely valid given the circumstances. Sure, we should be careful in case anything funny comes up. But you're treating me like I'm tainted, like you can't trust me. You said you just wanted me to be me. But I am me. I'm right here in front of you."

She chews on her lower lip. "I just don't want you to keep your distance and suddenly change how you act because of this. I want you to be you."

Rhett's jaw moves and clenches when he's told he's jumping the gun by being honest about how he felt. He didn't agree, but he doesn't pose an argument back about it. He stops talking, though, drinking his tea. He's found some calm, and seems to be holding it well. So, he inclines his head towards her statement, a quiet assent.

There's a look of continued frustration, and Elaine finds herself looking down towards the floor for a moment. "It's not as if I won't tell you if something strange happens. I tell you everything, Rhett. Because I love you." The tone is serious—above all, she wants to make sure he remembers she's still there and loves him. "I want to live my life without seeing you look at me like I'm not me."

Rhett breathes out, and puts his cup solidly on the counter. There's a weird finality to it. Tea complete. "I'm not trying to —- burden with my concern," Rhett says, a weight to his tone. "Maybe I just need to clear my head on it." Rhett rubs his fingers up his nose to the bridge between his eyes.

"I just… I care. I'll try to… back it off," he says, gently. And steps sort of towards her but also to the side. "I'll take a little walk. I'll be back in a while, okay?" Rhett asks, starting to cross the kitchen.

Elaine watches him, her brow furrowed, concern solidly on her features. She watches him carefully, studies his mannerisms, his words. She seems ready at almost any second, ready to speak, to say something, but nothing happens. She just listens and watches, and shrinks a little as he moves to retreat.

"Okay," she replies softly. "If that's what you need."

"I didn't mean for you to feel like…. Like I think you're tainted," Rhett says, his own frustration showing, but it's very low key, very suppressed. In zero amount does he actually want to go somewhere, but he's causing her clear pain. How can he stay there and admit he's worried if it's making her feel this way?

"But I can't pretend I don't care what happened to you today. That—-" Rhett lets the air out. Him telling her seemed to only make her upset. Helplessly he drops the hand he'd started to try to gesture with, scrubs his cheek again, and continues his retreat. This concern is how his love is expressing itself, and he isn't sure how to stop it.

"You're precious to me. I can't just brush things off." Rhett's making himself busy getting his coat, now.

Elaine doesn't move from the kitchen, but her gaze follows him as he moves. She doesn't speak at first, watching him as he prepares his retreat. When she does speak, it's a softer voice, a softer tone, and she's briefly worried he won't hear the request.

"Please don't go."

She doesn't leap at him or stumble over her words to try and elaborate on what she said, it remains a request on its own, her body frozen in the kitchen as she doesn't move from it. She just watches.

Her tone was so soft, he almost didn't; Rhett had glanced down to put his arm in a sleeve so she'll notice him look up and over at her with a slight question on his face, but he figures out what she probably said even if it was very quiet.

Rhett slows what he's doing, though he does have his jacket on now. "I don't …. Feel like I'm here, to you, though," Rhett says heavily. "You haven't touched me since we've gotten back. Which also makes me concerned about you. That you don't know who I am, or the promises we've made, or — I don't know." He'd brought her tea, fretted over her.

His attentiveness hasn't worked. She hasn't come into his arms, from his perspective, and the sense of distance has fueled his feeling that something is off, or she's injured and won't tell him, or is an Elaine that doesn't remember the times holding her close, always open to her.

"Am I just concerned about nothing? Do you just need a little time?" Rhett asks, frustration showing a little as he rakes his hand in his sandy hair. It's longer than it used to be, the front long enough to brush temples when it loosely comes forward.

"For me, I guess I…" Rhett lets his shoulders drop. "I haven't had the experience you have with any of these timeline fractures. I don't know how to help; I've just frustrated you."

She abandons her cup of tea in the kitchen, moving at a fast clip towards him. Elaine doesn't quite fling herself at him, but she certainly aims to try and throw her arms around him the second she's close. "Don't you ever think that I don't need you or want you here, or that I've forgotten our idea of home, our thoughts for the future, everything. I just thought you didn't trust me. It felt like there was distance."

She looks at him seriously. "I don't need any time. You can worry all you want, I'll tell you if there's anything wrong at any time if it eases your worrying. I just don't want distance. You're the only thing that really makes sense to me. I rely on that. I rely on you." She shakes her head. "All the timeline stuff? I don't think there's a way for either of us to 'help', it's more about just finding answers. It's about understanding and, to a certain extent, making sure the past doesn't come back to haunt us unprepared."

"I wasn't going to …. Say anything, because I didn't want you to just hug or touch me just because I mentioned it was scaring me," Rhett sighs. He's having a bit of an internal war, and it reads on his face and body language.

Is she hugging him because he complained, and she doesn't want this? Should he not have said it?

But the other side of the war is he desperately wants Elaine back, but there's freaky confusing ghosts of past or future or present infesting things and putting it in jeopardy. And he can't fight ghost things or alternate reality daughters and husbands. Things Rhett isn't a part of, that push him out. Ghosts of families.

"I know your past is a big part of you. I just didn't expect it to blast you with lightning."

Rhett doesn't bear hug her, but he does put one arm on her back, hand up near her nape and hair, a loose cradle of the back of her head. He isn't disengaged.

While he's not disengaged, her attempts to show she is are unfortunately not taken as planned. Elaine wilts a little, unsure of what to do. "My past is important to me, yes, but that wasn't my past. My mom was what I was there for, more than anything. That other stuff isn't me. It's not my past, it's not important to me. I've never lived or experienced that." Well, other than briefly right when she got hit.

She lets out a slow breath. "Is… this too much? Is this you trying to bail gracefully and I'm not taking the hint?" Her brow furrows. "I didn't intend to scare you off. I didn't want to hide anything and have it come up to hurt you and now I'm wondering if that was a mistake. Maybe I should have lied."

"It's come up to hurt you," Rhett answers, directly. "At least I have some idea of what it consists of, instead of being in the dark and thinking it has something to do with me. You should have lied?" Rhett repeats, incredulous.

He doesn't like where this is going. "How have we gone from me being too concerned to you not telling me anything?" Rhett asks, emotion coming out. "Lying is what would drive me away, Elaine. Does my caring for you really make you prefer to lie?"

Rhett is injured, upset, pulling his arm from around her, but to reposition hands between them, trying to rest his palms on either side of where her neck meets her shoulders, thumbs angled up towards the underside of her jaw. It isn't forceful, but it does include the language of asking her to look up at him.

"I told you about all of this once and you almost left. So being truthful means you're going to leave. Is it any wonder that I've thought about if things would have been better if I'd just not told you, if I'd just let it be and leave you out of this? I haven't lied to you, Rhett. I told you everything. I always tell you everything."

With his hands encouraging her to look up at him, it's plainly visible that Elaine's been on the verge of tears but has been managing to keep it in check. "I can't do anything right in this, no matter how hard I try, and you're just going to leave."

"I'm going to leave," Rhett explains, "When you ask me to." Rhett watches her face, looking between her eyes. His light blue eyes are a little clouded, a little reserved, slightly defensive of her indeed choosing that option, and he wouldn't like it.

"Or if you're going to start lying, maybe." He gives her a cautious smile, but leans his face in, careful of being rebuffed, and brushes his nose against the side of hers.

Elaine shuts her eyes, leaning her forehead in to rest against his. "Then you aren't leaving," she says. It's not a question, it's a factual statement. "You promised me once you wouldn't leave, and I would hate to have to call you a promise-breaker." She lets out a deep breath—and it's a shaky one. She was nervous. She still might be.

She's not crying, though, at the moment, which is probably a positive sign. There's silence for a moment as she seems to be struggling with what to say. "I left my tea in the kitchen," she mutters.

Rhett does, in fact, know her, and seems to pick up on the proximity to the tears. "You probably did," Rhett agrees about her tea, but then guides her head forward into his neck, her face into that more private spot. Rhett is sensitive about his neck in general, but he does trust her, and senses she needs to see it. To reconnect. Or release her tears there.

"It'll be there." They need this moment.

The offer of trust is enough to make her cry, but not so audible, just barely the sound of a sniffle against his neck as Elaine buries her face there and shuts her eyes. She moves her arms to put fully around him, not wanting and unwilling to pull away from him. He's given her one of the few ways he can solidly prove they're alright, and it's more than enough.

Her only regret is she doesn't know how to show him the same. "I love you," she murmurs, muffled against him.

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