you are my sunshine, my only sunshine; you make me happy when skies are grey
It’s one of the earliest memories Waverly has.
Her mama sings to her, dancing around the kitchen and bouncing Waverly on her knee. She’s a happy baby, giggling and clapping and squealing with delight.
There are shadows that live in their house – in her daddy and in her sister and in the monsters that prowl beyond the fencerow – but in the wake of Waverly’s joy, the sun shines just the tiniest bit brighter for a time.
It’s a few years later when the very first clouds eventually roll in.
Because her mama is gone and her daddy crawls further into his bottle and there’s a dangerous glint in her sister’s eye, and even the brightest summer sun eventually sets.
the storm blows on, out of control; deep in her heart, the thunder rolls
Everything shifts around Waverly, like the changing of the seasons.
The bright colors of her life fade to dull greys, and her joyous laughter has died like the leaves on the trees. The storm clouds continue to gather, and she spends most of her time hiding under Wynonna’s bed, trying to escape the nightmares and her daddy and, more often than not, Willa.
The first drop falls when Mr. Plumpkins loses an eye. She hears an eerie melody tapping against the roof of the barn above her head when she balances precariously on the beam, just to earn the promise that her daddy won’t find out she was looking in his desk drawer.
When she falls through the ice trying to save Mr. Rabbit, she can’t tell if she’s drowning in the freezing water swirling just beneath the surface of the pond or the continual downpour that surrounds her fully now.
By the time Willa disappears like a flash of lightning and the shot from Peacemaker echoes through the sky like an angry crack of thunder, Waverly’s not sure if she even remembers what the sun looks like anymore.
here comes the sun; here comes the sun, and i say it’s alright
Against all odds, there’s a break in the clouds, and for a moment, Waverly finds hope.
It’s warm at Gus and Curtis’s house. Shadows don’t live here like they did on the homestead. Instead, the dark corners are filled with blankets and hot chocolate and bedtime stories.
She still crawls into Wynonna’s bed in the middle of the night out of habit – she’s not used to having her own yet, and she feels so small and alone in it – and she’s not sure if it’s more for her own sake, or for Wynonna’s. Neither of them talks about it in the morning, but every night, she’s back again, and Wynonna lifts the covers wordlessly and waits for her to settle in.
Curtis rolls the windows down on his truck when he lets Waverly ride around the ranch with him to mend the fences and see to the horses, and they sing at the top of their lungs while her hair whips about her face in the wind.
She misses her mama, and she’s sad for Willa and daddy, but Gus made her a birthday cake and she unwrapped some books from Curtis that he said were her very own, and Waverly wonders if this is what a real family feels like.
here comes the rain again; falling on my head like a memory
The clouds roll in almost overnight. One minute she’s playing in the sun, and the next she’s soaked to the bone.
Wynonna’s nightmares continue to get worse – she knows, because she can feel her thrashing in her sleep when they’re huddled together in her bed at night – and then she hears the kids at school talking about a fire in a classroom, and Waverly feels the cold drops splashing on her skin.
When she gets home, she finds out that Wynonna has been sent away. Gus and Curtis tell her that she’s only visiting some friends, but she overhears them say something about St. Victoria’s, and Waverly knows that’s the scary hospital on the other side of town where Willa told her one time that monsters eat little girls.
The wind howls that night, and the rain pelts her window so hard that the power goes out, throwing everything into darkness. Waverly spends the first of many nights alone in her own bed, shivering the whole night through.
i’m walking on sunshine; i’m walking on sunshine, and don’t it feel good
After a while, she gets used to the rain. If she plasters on a smile, it’s not so bad, and sometimes she can even pretend like she can see the sun through the clouds.
Wynonna eventually comes home, but nothing is the same after that. She climbs out the window instead of climbing into bed with Waverly to keep the bad dreams at bay. Waverly hears Gus and Curtis arguing about it when they think she’s asleep, and before long, Wynonna is “staying with friends” again.
It’s not the scary hospital this time. Even worse. It’s other families. Wynonna is out getting other brand new families, and Waverly has never felt so alone in her life.
This goes on for years, and she’s lucky to see Wynonna for a few minutes at school, but sometimes she still sneaks in the window at night and brings Waverly a book – one that has clearly been stolen from the library – and they sit up, eating Waverly’s stash of candy until they can hear Gus getting up to start her morning routine and Wynonna slips back out the window into what’s left of the night.
School is rough. She loves her classes and does all of the extra projects she can, but even her so-called friends talk behind her back with the same whispers and rumors that float through the rest of the school and haunt the hallways like the ghosts that they represent.
But then something happens. Something Waverly doesn’t understand. Champ Hardy – a senior, and the most popular boy in school – starts talking to her. She’s only a sophomore, and this makes her friends gossip even more, but in a good way this time.
When Champ asks her to be his girlfriend, Stephanie Jones asks her to join the cheerleading squad, and suddenly people seem to forget about all of the bad stuff that comes with being an Earp, more interested instead in fawning over Purgatory High’s newest hot couple.
It’s been a long time since Waverly has seen the sun, but she thinks maybe she could get used to this.
there’s a calm before the storm; i know it’s been comin’ for some time
The sun has been nice, but she feels the storm coming long before it arrives.
She continues to go through the motions – girlfriend-of-the-year, town sweetheart, everyone’s favorite bartender – but every quiet moment she has to herself, she spends researching and making timelines and pinning up family trees behind the curtain in her bedroom.
The air around her is charged with electricity, making the hair on her arms stand on end, staticky the way it is just before lightning strikes. She tries to ignore it, her smile and wave forcing things to stay bright and shiny, but it only lasts for so long.
Champ sounds shaken when he calls to cancel their date night – not ill, but scared – and Waverly is angry at first, wondering who he’s seeing behind her back this time, assuming he’s only scared that she’s going to find out.
But then Gus climbs the stairs to her apartment above Shorty’s, collapsing into a chair at her kitchen table, and the moment Waverly sees her face, the sky opens up and drowns her in grief.
ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone; and she’s always gone too long
She’s not expecting the clouds to break any time soon, but suddenly, there’s an unexpected glimmer.
Wynonna is standing in her bedroom.
Sure, her boyfriend is also half-naked, and she’s got feathers in her hair from an exploded pillow, but that’s beside the point.
Wynonna is standing in her bedroom.
She’s been gone again. She’s always gone, always for far too long. Three years this time. But she’s back now, standing right in front of Waverly, and even in the wake of the raging storm, the sunlight is dazzling.
Waverly has been trying to soak up the sun for the past several years, ever since Champ chased away the storm cloud that had formed over her head and followed her around, but it was never real sunshine when Wynonna was gone. It was always muted, like it was filtered through a curtain, but she constantly reminded herself that it was better than the rainy alternative.
Wynonna may be her very own special brand of storm cloud, but for the first time since graduation, Waverly feels warm again.
the rain kept pouring, falling on my ears; and i wonder, still i wonder, who’ll stop the rain
The storms begin to hit one right after another following Wynonna’s return.
Shorty dies, and Sweeny Todd is loose in the town, and there’s demons and witches and literal bears, oh my. They’re standing in puddles and they’re dodging bolts of lightning and they’re trying not to get swept away in the flood.
A lone sunbeam tries to break through the clouds – fiery red hair and eyes that are soft and warm with the glow of a hearth that feels like home – but even that is not enough to stem the tide. It may not be enough to change things, but in its persistence, the sunbeam manages to refract through the droplets of the perpetual mist in the air, throwing tiny rainbows into the dark places where Waverly seeks refuge, and even though she’s drenched through, it still manages to spark a warmth in her chest that feels a lot like hope.
It’s fleeting, though, because Jack-the-fucking-Ripper kidnaps Wynonna, and then Willa is back, but she’s worse than ever, and the next thing Waverly knows, the sunbeam is lying on the dirty floor of the Sheriff’s Department while Willa steps over her with the same smirk on her face as the day Mr. Plumpkins lost his eye.
When it rains, it pours; Waverly’s skin is shriveled from soaking up so much of it, and she begins to wonder if there is anyone who’ll be able to stop the rain.
i feel good, in a special way; i’m in love and it’s a sunny day
It turns out that it’s not as easy to snuff out the sun as some people thought.
A devastating revelation and a thwarted missile strike and a (mostly) dead tentacle monster later, and finally they can see a blue sky again. The sunbeam – Waverly’s sunbeam – survived and Dolls has been rescued and everything from spiders to scarecrows has been defeated.
There’s been a few missteps. Feeling shut out and public displays and entitled boys that have never faced a consequence in their entire life – and what’s a little ancient blood contract between friends? – but Nicole shines brighter than any summer day Waverly has ever seen.
When she invites Nicole into her bed – murmured words, soft and reverent, and names whispered on the breeze – Waverly feels the radiating light like she’s glowing with it from the inside out.
stuttering, cold and damp, steal the warm wind; black hole sun, won’t you come and wash away the rain
The sun is gone, the warmth is gone, her memory is gone. Everything is gone but the strange black storm clouds that swirl in her eyes.
Her life feels like a black hole, bits and pieces of her dissolving in the constant drizzle.
She does things and she says things and she pushes people away, but she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand, because she can only remember flashes, like faraway fragments of a twisted dream, but when she opens her eyes, all she can see is rain.
Rain in Wynonna’s eyes and rain in Nicole’s eyes and rain in her own eyes when she looks in the mirror.
let the sunshine in; open up your heart and let it shine on in
The days turn to weeks, and still the storm rages on.
They eventually quell it, but the damage has already been done, destruction trailing in the wake of the rampaging tempest. New secrets are revealed, drawing everyone’s focus like a lightning rod, but Waverly’s teeth are still chattering from being tossed around in the freezing torrent for so long.
But the sun – her sun – finds her in the places where she hides, warm on her face, seeping into her chilled skin. Nicole wraps herself around Waverly, safe and secure and keeping the clouds at bay until Waverly is able to open up enough to let her in.
Where once was the soft glow of a gently setting sun, now burns the blazing light of high noon, and by the time they are both gasping for breath, Waverly has forgotten what the rain feels like.
i set fire to the rain, and i threw us into the flames; well, it burned while i cried, screaming out your name
Things happen so fast, Waverly wonders if she’s caught in a tornado.
She’s not sure which is worse… finding out she’s not an Earp, or finding out her personal sunbeam has been hiding it from her. She is sure that setting her own life on fire because of it was probably not the best way to go about dealing with it, though.
The wind howls, whipping the rain into her face, stinging her eyes, but still she is determined to set things right. To put out the fire she started herself.
But she’s too late. The storm has already hit Nicole’s house, and more fires have been set, and before Waverly knows it, she’s staring down the barrel of an Iron Witch.
The thunder rolls and the lightning strikes and Nicole wakes up, but her sister is gone. The rain turns to blood. Blood of a man she barely knows, a man she is supposed to fear, but instead she can’t shake the feeling that he means something important to her.
More blood, more people dying that she feels like she has a confusing connection to, until all that’s left is a woman that she’s strangely drawn to and an oddly familiar barn and then nothing but an all-consuming fire.
She thinks maybe the storm will break after that, after they find their way back to each other, Nicole and Wynonna and the boys, but the clouds keep rolling and there’s a shootout in the street and then everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
They put Alice Michelle on a helicopter, and Wynonna leaves town again, and Doc isn’t the same man he used to be, and Nicole and Dolls are hiding something from her, and the raindrops are so heavy that she can barely breathe under the weight of them.
It rains and it rains and it rains, and still it is not enough to keep Waverly’s world from burning down around her.
rain, rain, go away, come again another day; all the world is waiting for the sun
The deluge eventually peters out to a sprinkle, small, constant drops falling slow and steady.
She barely knew Alice Michelle for an hour, and yet Waverly’s world feels like an empty void without her in it. Wynonna returns after a while, hard and guarded, and Doc is barely recognizable these days.
Her one saving grace is that Nicole isn’t hiding anything from her. Not anymore. After everything they’ve been through, it hadn’t taken long for Nicole to sit her down and show her the file that Dolls had given her, along with the ring she’d picked up out of the street, and tell her everything that they know about this cult that now haunts them.
What a dark and stormy night that had been.
Waverly clings to the warmth of Nicole’s sun the best that she can, but it’s hard to find light in the middle of an eclipse.
Especially when the rain never stops.
They carry on this way for a while, not a single one of them able to escape the storm clouds, and it doesn’t take Waverly long to come to the realization that this is just who she is. She has fought her entire life to bring the sunshine, trying to create it herself when there is none to be found, but if she’s being truly honest with herself, she’s never been the sun.
She’ll never be the sun.
It’s almost crippling when she finally resigns herself to this fate. She spends weeks fighting against it, but when she brings lunch to everyone at the Black Badge office one afternoon and Nicole’s face instantly lights up, telling Waverly that a little sunshine to brighten her day is exactly what she needed, the dam finally breaks.
Nicole finds Waverly huddled in the dark of their bedroom that night when she gets home, a wicked summer storm kicking up outside, rain crashing against the roof and the thunder rattling the glass in its panes.
Tears are streaming down her face like the raindrops streaking along the windows, and Nicole immediately drops to her knees in front of Waverly, gathering her up in her arms.
“What is it, baby?” she asks desperately, her eyes darting around the room and one of her hands falling to the firearm that’s still strapped to her hip. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t… I can’t…” Waverly tries, hiccupping through her sobs, unable to catch her breath enough to finish. Nicole rubs soothing circles on her back in the dark, waiting for her to speak again. “I can’t do this anymore,” she finally manages.
She feels Nicole stiffen around her instantly, and Waverly braces herself for what she’s sure is coming.
“Can’t… can’t do what?” she asks, her eyes wide in the brief flash of lightning that filters through the window. They both jump a few seconds later when the booming thunder chases it through the sky.
“Everyone thinks I’m all bright and shiny. You think I’m the sunshine, but I’m not. I never will be.” Nicole looks at her with confusion, afraid to say anything. Afraid to move. “I’m not the sun, Nicole. I am the thunder. I am the rain. I’m more chaotic than this storm that’s raging around us.” Another sob wracks Waverly’s body, and she closes her eyes before she speaks again. “You don’t want that. You don’t deserve that. No one does.”
“Waverly Earp,” Nicole breathes out, both of her hands moving to gently cradle Waverly’s face, tipping it up and waiting until Waverly opens her eyes again to look at her. “I would pick your chaos. I would pick your thunder.” She leans forward, pressing a soft kiss to Waverly’s lips. “I would choose your rain over everyone else’s sun, any day.”