I wandered the streets for hours, waiting for the sensation of tiredness to wash over me. I wanted, more than anything, for my eyes to droop and legs to feel heavy. But the more I walked, the more I wanted to see and the more I wanted to travel. I hadn’t walked these streets for years and yet my legs moved like I had been here my whole life. I spent many nights in the past walking in the darkness. Usually, I was high or drunk (or both) but the memories remained. I wanted to stop walking. But my feet carried me farther and farther away and I didn’t know what to do.
“You lost, little lady?” A man asked as he slowed his car down next to me as I walked along the road. He was grinning and it didn’t take me long to know what he really wanted. Maybe it was just instinct as a woman, maybe it was from all the work I had done over the years, or maybe it was just previous experience, but I knew that this creep wasn’t trying to be polite.
I immediately turned around and called back, “Not lost!”
He started driving in reverse to catch up with me. Chuckling, he said, “A girl like you shouldn’t be walking out here this late at night. Some guy could just grab you pretty little thing.”
“I’d like to see someone try,” I snarled and glared at the disgusting man.
“That sounds like you want someone to,” He muttered and drove faster. “You can hop in if you like. I can take you to wherever you’re staying.”
I shook my head and told him, “Not interested, pal.”
“Don’t play hard to get, honey,” He warned with a smile. “It makes you sound like a whore. You aren’t a whore, are you?”
The urge to beat him up gradually increased even though I knew that I couldn’t. The last time I did that, Lucado suspended me for a week. She didn’t understand my excuse: assholes deserve the right to be hit. Maybe she just knew that if she agreed with me, I would be closer to hitting her instead.
The heels of my feet were barking and my stomach was growling. I hadn’t eaten in days and walking around the city was getting me nowhere. It was harder to live in the States than anywhere else. In America, people just didn’t give a shit. And people were harder to pickpocket.
“I’ve seen you walk around this part of town for weeks,” A young blonde man said as he approached me with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was attractive and dressed like he wasn’t poor. Which was odd for this part of town. “Do you know where you’re going?”
Normally, I would have just walked away. This kind of interaction was usually too good to be true. These kinds of guys were the ones who’d act all nice and then strangle you hours later. But I was desperate.
“I don’t have anywhere to go.”
That made him smile, showing me his perfect, straight, white teeth that made me shudder. Things shouldn’t be too perfect. This guy was no different.
“Can I buy you dinner? You look like you’re about to topple over in this heat.”
He was right, but my gut said that this was wrong. That he would eventually be my demise. My gut was rarely wrong on these kinds of things. But I was so tired. And hungry.
“I can tell you’re on the fence,” He muttered with mesmerizing charming. “All I want is dinner. We can go to a public place. You can order whatever you want.”
There was something else that was bothering me. “Why me?”
He tilted his head to the side as if he had no clue why I was asking that question. “Because you look like you have a good story. And I really want to talk to someone interesting. And, I can’t deny how attracted I am to you. But I’m sure that sounded creepy coming out of my mouth, so let’s just pretend I didn’t just say that.”
I sighed, “You’ll be disappointed.”
“With you?” He asked with a surprised gasp. “Never. I have a feeling you will never bore me. The name’s Garrett, by the way. Garrett Hayes.”
“Hey!” A woman shouted as she rolled up in her police car. “Get away from her, Tucker.” She was the redhead deputy that I saw at the station. The person I didn’t recognize.
I raised my eyebrows, surprised by the fact that the dude in the car was the old neighborhood creep that didn't age well. Tucker looked obviously disappointed and drove away, sticking his middle finger out the window as the cop pulled up next to me.
“Did that shithead bother you?” She asked with severity. She looked genuinely worried, which surprised me. She must have not known about my past in this town.
“I could have handled him,” I shrugged off easily. “You’re working night too, ginger? That’s dedication. Why are you working here ? In this shithole town?”
She snorted and said, “I have no clue. I got the offer and decided to come. I think I just wanted to get as far away from home as possible. Speaking of, what are you doing out here late at night? You working on a clue or something?”
I appreciated her curiosity to a certain degree. I didn’t want it to get in my way when I eventually did want to investigate, but talking to her did kind of feel like a relief. She didn’t seem to know who I was.
“I couldn’t sleep,” I explained vaguely. “What are you doing out here?”
She bit her lip and I could tell she was hiding something. I raised an eyebrow. She was becoming more interesting by the second.
“This guy is killing girls in the dead of night. Taking them from the dead of night. I try to come out here from eleven to three. And I hope… that I’ll just see something.” I could tell that she was telling the truth, but there was something else that she was hiding. I could tell that she was a good cop, or at least was trying to be a good cop. That was rare in a town like this one.
“I understand,” I admitted truthfully. “But it’s just you. Realistically, you can’t cover the whole town.”
She sighed and nodded. “The rest of the department thinks it isn’t necessary. Not that they’d even admit there was a problem.”
“Do you think there’s a coverup?”
The redhead laughed and said, “They aren’t smart enough for that. My colleagues might be a bunch of masochists, but they don’t cover up murders. If they did, you probably wouldn't even know about these cases.”
I smirked and countered, “I never said it would be a good coverup.”
I liked her. She was the kind of person I’d imagine would be my friend if I had friends. She was witty and intelligent. Someone that could create a lot of good trouble if they wanted to.
“Can I give you a ride to wherever you’re going?” She asked me uncertainty like she didn’t know the words were going to come out of her mouth until they were out.
“I’m sure when I leave Tucker is just going to come back. And I’m sure you can fight that son of a bitch off, but I don’t want to risk it. I’ve been trying to get a case against him for as long as I’ve been here.”
I raised my eyebrows. The cops never went for wealthy individuals in the town. Local druggies and homeless people, for sure. But not people like Tucker Gardner.
“Then you should let me go. I can let him try something. Then you can arrest him.”
She raised an eyebrow as if she was surprised that I suggested such a thing. “You’d do that?”
“Well, not for you. I’m truly not a fan of pervs. And if he really is that disgusting… it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.” Since I used to deal with those kinds of people every day.
“No, it definitely would be. Thank you, seriously. But not tonight. Let’s do this by the books, okay? You can wear a wire and everything. But not right now. Right now, you’re getting into the car with me.”
She was forward and I briefly considered if she was interested in me. If I wasn’t on a case, I wouldn’t think twice. But usually, I didn’t fuck on a case. Especially not with another cop. But, even surprising myself, I got into the car with her.
When I got in, I realized she had her music on low. I recognized the Pink Floyd immediately but didn’t say anything. Bonding wasn’t something I felt was necessary. I told her where my motel was and she started to drive.
“I’m Nicole, by the way. Nicole Haught. You’re Wynonna Earp, right? Your sister is Waverly?”
I smiled at the thought of this redhead being friends with my sister.
“Yeah. You know her really well? You both friends?”
The deputy shrugged and said a little more softly, “Not really. I know she’s really sweet. She visits Champ every day. She’s always been very kind to me. Especially when I first moved here and wasn’t really accepted by the townspeople.”
I could visualize it in my head. “Yeah,” I commented. “That sounds like my sister. She’s a good one. Way better than me.”
Nicole thought about that for a few seconds before replying, “I think she’s better than everyone.”
“That’s probably true,” I agreed with a head nod. “But I hope you two get to know each other. She should hang out with more people like you. You’re better than Champ. Fucking dick.”
“Tell me about it. At least you don’t have to work with him.”
I snorted and retorted, “At least you didn’t screw him.” When she raised an eyebrow, I explained, “High school. Little weasel.”
“Yeah, it took him weeks to understand what lesbian meant. I mean, how hard is it to understand? Jesus, this town. People either come up to me and say that I’m brave or a sinner that God will never forgive.”
“It’s always one or the other,” I joked with a tight grin, understanding all too well what she was talking about. “I try to let it go. It’s hard though when everyone reacts poorly.”
“Tell me about it,” Haught sighed. “Are you lesbian?”
“Pansexual,” I explained with a shrug. “I identified as bi for a long time, but pan feels more right now. Or queer. I just like a good fuck.”
She nodded without any judgement. It was refreshing. I started to hate how much I was liking her and enjoying our conversation. She was a badass and someone I could relate to. That didn’t happen very often.
“It took me a while to realize it,” Nicole confessed after a long pause. “I really didn’t know it was an option until this girl’s lips were on mine and I realized how much I liked it in college. But hey, it doesn’t matter when you realize it, right? I still haven’t come out to my family.”
She laughed and said, “No. judgemental pricks more like it. They were really upset when I became a cop. Finding out I'm gay, I think their hearts would just stop. What about you? Are you out to your family and friends?”
“I guess so,” I answered with uncertainty. “I mean, I’m not hiding it. My colleagues know that I sleep with everyone. And my family… I’m not sure. I haven’t spoken to them in a decade. But I’m sure they heard the rumors.”
Haught frowned as if she realized that being outed as a child sucked. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” I told her simply. “It is how it is. Well, this is me. Thanks for the drive, Officer Haught.”
She smiled and said, “No problem, Agent Earp. I’ll talk to you about the whole undercover thing. I’m sure we’ll be working together for a while.”
I wasn’t sure of that, but I nodded anyway. I thanked her again and then got out of her car. I felt weirdly calm as I headed toward the room. Talking to Haught felt good. Like she genuinely understood what I was saying. I forgot what it was like to have a friend like that. I missed it. But getting close to someone scared me. Nicole Haught scared me.
The water was scalding, but I let it scorch my skin. I could only imagine what people would psychoanalyze about that. An ex (more like a person I had casual sex with occasionally) told me that I showered with burning water because I wanted to punish myself. Long story short, that was the last time that I saw her.
Being back in Purgatory was like crawling through a nightmare. The steam from the shower made it more difficult to breathe, but the water felt good pressed against my skin. I wanted to scream, but scaring my colleagues probably wouldn’t be the greatest idea and would lead to annoying questions that I wouldn't want to answer.
The knock at the bathroom door startled me and caused me to shout out, “What the fuck?”
“Wynonna…” Jeremy said slowly (as if he was afraid to say it). “There’s another body. Found in her own bedroom. Strangled and stabbed like the others.”
I turned the water off knowing that there was something more to this. For months after he first joined the team, Jeremy was afraid to talk to me (which was because of my bad attitude) or upset me, but we had recently started moving away from that. But now… he seemed unsure of himself again. And I also found it odd that it wasn’t Dolls who was telling me this. We were partners, after all.
He yelped when I got out of the shower without getting a towel first. He covered his eyes, causing me to snort and say, “Sorry, bud. Forgot that you aren’t a fan of tits.”
Jeremy blushed and started almost spazzing, causing me to smirk.
“Oh, no. It’s fine. I mean, your t-- they’re great! But well. I’m not really...”
“You’re fine, Chetri. I know. Turn around for a second. Or don’t. You know at this point I don’t care.” As he turned around, I dried off my body and put on fresh clothes. While I did that, I said, “So what’s the deal? What aren’t you telling me.”
“Your sister found the body, Wyn. Apparently, she’s pretty shaken up. And she’s asking for you. Dolls thinks that’s the only reason Nedley called. She won’t talk to anyone but you.”
Fuck. The last thing that I wanted was for Waverly to become connected to this case. I hated that she found the body. I hated that she has to live with that now. I hated that she wanted to see me. I didn’t want to be there for her trauma. I was not good in those kinds of situations.
“Jesus Christ. Goddamn,” I muttered as I angrily combed through my hair and put on old spice deodorant. “Fine. Let’s go, then. Where’s Agent Grumpy?”
“He’s waiting in the car,” Jeremy answered as he followed me around the hotel room to grab my stuff (my badge and gun). “I’m not sure he knows what to say.”
I shrugged and replied, “He doesn’t have to say anything. Come on, Chetri. We can really learn a lot from this fresh body. I just hope the police don’t contaminate the scene.”
“Tell me about it,” He agreed as we both jumped into the car. “I hope they aren’t trying to be efficient. And I hope Waverly--”
Didn’t touch the body . I shivered and I felt like both of them noticed. The idea of my baby sister being around a dead body made me want to jump off a cliff (and that was only a tiny exaggeration).
“She’s not an idiot,” I tried to explain as Dolls began to drive. “But instinct is to touch the body or to pick up the murder weapon. Unfortunately. Seeing a dead body, though. It changes you.”
Dolls turned onto a suburban street that I recognized immediately. And when he pulled onto a familiar driveway, I let out a tiny gasp.
“This was Stephanie Jones’ house,” I breathed out as we got out of the car. I didn’t even have to follow the police to know my way around the house. Though I was never friends with her, I had been there enough to remember where everything was. Dolls and Jeremy trailed behind me and I knew they were looking for answers.
“Wynonna!” My sister shouted as I entered the living room. The first thing I noticed was that my sister was shaking with blood covering her body. She stood a good distance away from the body, but I noticed that Haught was behind her, looking like she wanted to help my sister, but was too afraid to try to offer assistance.
I cringed when I saw that there was a sheet over the victim. But my attention didn’t stay on the body of the girl I used to know. Instead, I looked at the pools of blood. Blood was spattered all around the room, which was already a difference from other crime scenes. The other girls were kept for weeks and their bodies were kept hidden. This body was the opposite. She was killed here. She was tortured here. She was probably raped here. She was slaughtered here. And yet I couldn’t help but think she was the lucky one. She didn’t suffer for too long.
“What happened?” I asked her as I slowly moved my way toward my sister.
“It was awful!” She shouted as she crossed her arms, holding her own body parts close to herself. “The door was slightly ajar. Which I thought was odd. Stephanie doesn’t make the best decisions but… she isn’t that dumb. I thought that someone robbed her. So… I went inside to check to make sure she was okay.”
“You touched the door?” Jeremy interrupted with interest.
She nodded glumly and then scrunched her face up. “Crap, I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t… oh god. Did I ruin the evidence?”
“You didn’t know something happened here,” I reassured her with a shrug. “You had no idea it was a crime scene. You might have ruined the evidence, but it wouldn’t be your fault. Chetri, check the door.”
He gave me a thumbs up and took his kit to the front door. The fewer people in the room the better. I could tell the crowd was overwhelming her.
“What happened next, Wave?”
She sniffled and answered, “I saw the blood. God, there’s so much blood.” She looked down at her hands that were covered in red. “I didn’t know she was dead. I tried…” Her breathing started to quicken and I could tell that she was about to have a panic attack, which wasn’t unusual for the poor people who found the victims.
I tried to think about how I’d help anyone else in this situation. I turned to Dolls and said, “Look at the body. Get Chetri to take pictures. I’ll be here soon. Write down everything. I’m going to interview her outside.”
Dolls nodded and I led my sister to the backyard where she wasn’t in the same room as a dead body. I knew that she just needed room to breathe.
“I’m so sorry…” She muttered as she slowly stopped hyperventilating. “I’m sorry, Wyn. I shouldn’t… I should…”
I shook my head and almost reached out for her. I pulled away though at the last second before she could notice that I wanted to touch her.
“There is no should and shouldn’t, Waverly. Your friend was murdered. Your reactions are involuntary. I’m so sorry that you have gone through this, but I need you to tell me what exactly happened so I can catch these sons of bitches. Okay?”
She wiped her tears and nodded. “So, I walked inside. I called her name but didn’t hear an answer. So I kept trying to find her. And then I saw the blood. I ran over to her, stepping into pools of blood on the way. I tried to stop the bleeding, but I think she had already bled out. But she was warm… so I… I thought she was still alive.”
“It’s a myth that people who die immediately go cold,” I told her with a frown. “It takes a while for the body to cool down.”
She nodded and added, “I called 911 and I put my hands on her stab wounds. But it didn’t do anything. I tried to find her pulse but didn’t find one. But I did notice the off colors around her neck. I think she was also strangled. The 911 operator told me to perform CPR until the medics came. They came a few minutes later with Nedley and the others and announced that she was dead. Haught put the sheet over her. Nedley kept trying to ask me questions but… you’re on this case. And you’re my sister. I just thought…”
“It was good that you asked for me,” I told her with a small smile. “We’re going to find these guys, okay?”
She furrowed her eyebrows. “Guys? As in plural?”
Shit . “We think there are more than one perps. But don’t tell that to anyone, okay? Now, can you tell me why you came to visit Stephanie?”
After telling me about their daily exchange of gossip, I asked her about what she saw when driving to her friend's place and if she saw anything odd in the house other than the body and the pools of blood. She didn’t say she saw anything, but it could have also been the shock. I’d ask her again when it wore off.
“Why do people do this?” She asked me quietly as we walked to the inside of the house. The question was so innocent and I remembered that there were people who weren’t tainted by violence.
I sighed and answered, “There are a lot of reasons, bab-- Waverly. Some people are predisposed through DNA. Other people turn into bad people through unhealthy childhoods. And some people are flat out evil and sick bastards. And it’s when evil people find other evil people when we have something like this. People bring out the worst in each other.”
Jeremy and Dolls were standing over the body when we approached them. I called Jeremy over to take pictures and took DNA and samples from the blood that was found on Waverly. She also took off her shirt and gave it to him for evidence. Silently, after Jeremy had taken pictures and got all the prints from the bathroom, I washed my sister’s hands gently. Blood was hard to get out, so it took a while to scrub it all out.
I never thought I’d have to do this. Getting blood off of someone you loved was difficult to swallow. When I left, I never thought I’d have to do it for her. I thought she was safe without me. I thought she wouldn’t ever have to follow me and Willa’s footsteps.
“Remember when you washed the blood off of my knee when I fell off my bike?” She asked me in a whisper.
The blood drained from my face once I caught my sister sobbing as she ran to the house. She was heading for the inside, but I stepped in front of her before she could continue.
“No, Wavey, don’t!” I told her as I pulled her to the side. The last thing I wanted was for her to go to mom or dad. “I’ll help you. They’ll be mad if they see that you were reckless.”
Waverly’s little lips quivered and I helped the four-year-old into the house and I quietly led her to the upstairs bathroom. I got the small first aid kit out and sat down on the edge of the tub. She sat down and I could feel the fear radiating from her.
“You have to be silent,” I whispered as I poured disinfectant onto a rag. “It’s going to hurt, but you have to be strong for me. Can you do that?”
She nodded and grimaced once I started cleaning her cuts. I hated that she was hurt and that I had to be the one that helped her. But Willa was stuck in the barn with daddy and mom was wherever mom was at.
“No!” I heard my other sister scream from outside of the house. “Dad, don’t!”
I swallowed the bile that rose up my throat and tried to not cry. I hated being strong, but Waverly needed to see me not look worried.
“New plan,” I told her with a forced smile. “We’re going to sing a song. Can we do that together? Let’s sing a song.”
She grinned and we started to sing Disney songs that I knew she loved. I wanted to distract her from the screaming outside and the cuts on her body. I was trying to save her from reality.
“You were my superhero, Wyn,” She told me with a kind smile.
I didn’t deserve the words. “Maybe you should leave town. It isn’t safe here with you. Girls are getting killed all the time.”
She sighed and muttered, “Yeah, the next one will be a brunette.”
I tilted my head in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“The killer -- or killers I guess -- they go back and forth between killing blondes and brunettes. Steph was a blonde.”
She was right and I cursed myself that I hadn’t realized it earlier. “That only reaffirms my statement, Waves.”
Waverly glared at me and replied, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not letting my fear control me, Wynonna. We can’t let these turds control our lives. It would give them power, and that’s the last thing we can give them. That’s something you would say to me.”
I hated how right and strong she had become. I was proud of her in every way, but I didn’t want her to be in danger.
“Go home at least, Waverly. And don’t tell anyone what you saw. No one can know that you found the body, alright?”
She nodded and found Champ who would take her back home. For once I was glad that she had him to protect her. I stood at the window and watched them leave like a stalker and I felt Haught stand next to me.
“Is she okay?” She asked me with worry drowning her voice.
“No. But she will be.” I turned to look at the redhead and felt the overwhelming urge to push her far away. The last thing I wanted was to get close to her. “You covered the body with the sheet. You could have fucked up evidence.”
Haught’s face whitened and I knew that I startled her. “What?”
“It’d be as shitty as closing the eyes. We have to see the crime scene at its original state. Because if we didn’t know you covered her up, it could have been a sign of remorse. Which could have fucked up our whole profile. You have to be more careful.”
She took steps back away from me and muttered, “I… I didn’t want anyone to see her like that. She doesn’t deserve to be remembered like that. They mutilated her.”
I felt the guilt and let it subside. I knew I was ruining whatever friendship that was bubbling up and it felt good to know that I didn’t have to worry about it again.
“Which is why we need to put the right bastards away for this. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to do real crime solving.” I swiftly moved around her and found Jeremy and Dolls standing over the body again. I looked at the brutality of the crime and stated with certainty, “This is for us. We’re a part of the game now.”