You Don't Have To Say It


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Scene Title You Don't Have to Say It
Synopsis In the aftermath of the festival, Elliot and Wright meet to talk through some of the trauma.
Date October 25, 2020

Phoenix Heights and Red Hook

Wright pings Elliot the moment she closes the door to her apartment. She sighs in relief when he immediately settles into her perspective. She carefully streams his sensations as well, braced against how his pain might feel. It’s only tolerable, but she watches him tip a painkiller from the bottle on his counter and feels the chill of the water he uses to wash it down. How his throat works as he swallows it, how he works his tongue inside his mouth.

“Ranger,” Wright says.

“Trilling,” Elliot replies.


Elliot holds his cast up, bracing his hand against his elbow to keep it above his heart when the pain suddenly spikes. He feels Wright retreat as he works to control his breathing. Once he’s comfortable he picks up the tea kettle and pours hot water into the french press on the counter.

Red Hook

30 Minutes Later

Elliot feels the chill of the key in Wright’s fingertips as she turns off the ignition to her Mantis. Feels the weight of her backpack as she adjusts it across her shoulder. The give in her boots as she takes the concrete steps to his door as he opens it. He stands aside to let her enter before closing and locking the door behind her.

They move to the kitchen, where Wright sets down her cross-body bag and retrieves a plastic clamshell case from inside it. Elliot sets a coffee mug on the counter beside her as she pops the package open and pulls out the sling she picked up on her way here.

Elliot sits on one of the stools beside the kitchen island as Wright shakes the sling open from where it was rolled up inside its case. She holds it open as Elliot sets his cast into it, and places the strap over his head as he leans down for her. She fusses with the buckles, bringing his hand up to his shoulder.

Only once the arm is immobilized does she lean forward to rest her forehead against his, sniffling quietly as a tear drips into the fabric of his sling. A sympathetic tear rolls from Elliot as he reaches up, taking the back of her head in his left hand to hold her to him. Flickers of jagged breath ripple between them, threaten to overwhelm them, but with effort they step back from the force of it.

Wright takes a sip of her coffee and rounds the island, taking a frying pan to preheat over the gas fire. She retrieves eggs from the refrigerator, checking the contents of the crisper drawer while streaming Elliot’s culinary skill. Her creation won’t be as immaculate as Elliot’s would have been, she has to rely somewhat on her own practice with the movements required to cook.

As Wright prepares their breakfast, Elliot streams her memories of the last day where Wright has tagged them for him. He watches as Ames, sensing her mother’s sadness without needing a link, sniffles in Wright’s arms on the couch. How warm she is in the early morning. How big she feels in Wright’s arms. How Wright tucks her daughter’s small head beneath her chin and holds her there, fingers combed through her curly hair.

“Hi Elliot,” Ames whispers. Wright pulls back to place a kiss on her head.

He smiles sadly, and Wright does as well. He then watches Wright drawing at the table with Ames. Feels the sadness that she's keeping at bay while she smiles with her daughter. The honest pride she has for each of Ames’s drawings.

”Can you give this one to Elliot?” Ames asks, tentatively holding out her most recent creation.

”Of course,” Wright says, grinning as she takes the picture, “He’ll love it.” She stands from the table and opens her backpack, sliding the drawing into a laptop sleeve where it won’t get wrinkled.

Elliot reaches into Wright’s bag and unzips the laptop compartment, sliding the drawing free. He’s already seen it, already loves it, but he sighs with deep appreciation. He studies the feathery strokes of color that form the shape of him, his cast in all the bright colors of Ames’s favorites from among his sneaker collection. He carefully slides the image to the end of the counter, away from where butter begins to crackle on the stove.

He looks across the ingredients Wright has taken from the refrigerator as she peers into his spice cabinet. She runs through his sense memories to make a good choice, humming in mild surprise as she tastes the combination of dill and long pepper before taking the jars from the cabinet and opening them. She begins to prepare the vegetables, rinsing and chopping them to size.

They sit in comfortable silence as Wright checks the firmness of the vegetables before pouring whipped eggs over them and scrambling it all together. She fills their bowls and carries them into the sitting area after Elliot, taking a place beside him on the couch. She leans her head on his shoulder for a moment before sitting up and digging into her creation. Their delight at eating ripples back and forth, diffuses between them.

After breakfast they sit to drink coffee. Wright keeps her hand on Elliots leg, where normally she would take his hand. Once he finishes the coffee he huffs out a sigh. Might as well get this over with, he thinks, tapping the back of Wright’s hand. They kick off their shoes and turn toward each other on the couch, sitting cross-legged. Wright takes Elliot’s left hand in both of hers, and gradually they fall into a focused calm.

“Sparrow,” Elliot says.

“Orchard,” Wright replies.


Elliot picks at the threads of Wright’s reactions to their countersign, and he pulls her memory of being cut off by the green barrier at the festival. Her blind, sudden panic. Wright streams Elliot’s own memory of the event, and they begin to stitch together their split memories of the catastrophe.

Elliot is unconscious before Wright hears the entirety of the explosion. She gasps at the emptiness where he should be. That gnawing black. As Elliot begins to come to, she streams the memories as they appear to him in his confusion. Flickers of what’s left of his recollection of the Chokepoint.

But Wright was there. That isn’t what happened. She tags those moments in her own mind.

She feels the chill of the panelling of the Wolfhound truck, clutching a handle as the blossoms of firelight momentarily burn silhouettes of trees into her vision. She doesn’t feel his pain until he feels it himself.

Elliot takes these into himself and his memory begins to change. He was in Cheesequake state park, not Cambridge.

The wall going up was a new kind of torture. Wright’s panic of suddenly losing the link, her terror that this is the Ark all over again, is tamped down by Elliot’s feeling of not being alone; Devon and Francis are still online. She takes these into herself and the memory begins to change. She was never alone.

Elliot’s helplessness, his needling sense of self-loathing at having failed to anticipate any of this carnage, is allayed by Wright’s determination in getting her breathing in control and beginning to contact emergency services. The memory begins to change.

When the wall dropped they had sent a barrage of anxious pings to one another. Watched each other’s memories up to that point. Wheeled at the alien nature of the rewind. Wright still needed to see Elliot with her own eyes, touch him, before she could pivot to triage. Elliot did what he could while streaming Wright’s knowledge and working with her to save who they could. But with his arm in pain it was hard to concentrate on anything that was happening, let alone the effort it took to borrow her medical knowledge.

Back in the here and now they’re both sniffling, leaning against each other. Wright grips the back of his head to keep their foreheads together. They work like this for a few minutes; letting the panic spike, drawing the other’s memory to compensate. Changing how they remember it happening. Letting the worst of it be forgotten. Compiling their more positive emotional reactions to the other’s negatives, layering those emotions over the memories as it always happens.

“Nighten—” Elliot begins, but stops. He doesn’t know why he can’t just go with the countersign, but he feels driven to speak. “Do you want to go upstairs?” he says aloud.

Wright does. Bonfire, she wants to reply. She’s nervous about the sudden discarding of their language. It feels like trying to explain an inside joke to an outsider. This is where they’re safest, free to act as they will without fear of other people watching the oddity of it. She swallows, whispers, “Of course.”

Wright stands and helps Elliot to his feet. She collects their discarded dishes and brings them to the kitchen as Elliot makes his way upstairs. He doesn’t stop at his own bedroom, bed covers still in disarray from where he had woken in Rue’s arms. He goes further down the hall to Wright and Marthe’s old room.

Wright joins him shortly. She doesn’t question it, just follows Elliot into the room. So bare now without all the little signs of liveliness that they'd taken with them when they’d moved out. But her bed is still there, and the smell of the bedding, clean and crisp, causes her to follow a memory thread of her own. One they’ve already altered the associations and emotions of.

Wright peels back the blanket on her side of the bed for Elliot, helping him slip underneath. She rounds the bed to enter at Marthe’s side, notices the gouge in the night stand where she’d dropped the pan carrying breakfast in bed. She doesn’t let the sad hilarity of that ruined breakfast influence her now. She’s here in this moment to be with Elliot. She slides out of her jeans and unbuttons her patterned shirt, sliding into bed in just her tank top and boxers.

She pulls Elliot to her, cradles his head against her. They take turns crying, consoling. Holding while the other lets go. It’s impossible to avoid the stabs of memory as their minds try to warn them of the danger at the festival. Danger now passed, these aftershocks just a quirk of their neurology. The same things other people will be feeling right now. More so those who’d lost someone.

They try not to judge themselves for feeling it. Nobody is in a competition to have lost the most, to have been scarred the deepest. So it’s this; back and forth. Small reminders, gentle touches, murmurs of encouragement and acceptance. Knowing by the tides of the other’s emotions what needs to be said, done.

It’s exhausting, cathartic. When the worst of it passes, when they've changed enough of it and forgotten the worst, they lay together in silence.

“Ballad,” Wright whispers. Elliot kisses her on the forehead.

“Shanty,” Elliot replies, unable to suppress embarrassment at how silly it feels to say that in this context. Wright chuckles with him.


They sleep like the dead.

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