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Darkest Shade of Blue

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Lines blur every day. Sometimes that line is smudged and other times the line is completely crossed. Sometimes the line stays straight and holds like a stone wall. Other times, the wall cracks and that thick wall turns into rubble and that once pronounced line is now nothing. The line changes everything. Sometimes lines need to be crossed to get the job done. Sometimes lines need to be forged to protect yourself from mess and uncertainty. Sometimes, as much as you try to stop it, there’s a hammer that breaks down that wall, and the line fades away.

She was crying. Sobbing, really, and I didn’t have the words in me to comfort her. She repeated the same words over and over again and anytime I tried to interrupt, she would only say them louder.

“He didn’t do it,” She shouted desperately as if the words that escaped her mouth were somehow keeping her tethered to reality. “He’s my baby boy. He’s just a boy.”

I wanted to apologize. Stupidly, I wanted to apologize even though there was nothing for me to be sorry for. 

Besides, my partner didn't feel any empathy to the woman. In fact, every time she said anything, he sighed, rolled his eyes, and checked his watch. He was not a patient guy and he hated not being in action. I was similar, in that way, but I understood the importance of doing this. Still, interviewing family members of perpetrators or victims usually brought out his nasty side.

“Mrs. Palka,” I almost pleaded as I tried to sound firm, yet understanding. “Do you have any idea where your son is?”

“Mark is a good boy,” The mother cried out and grabbed my hands. “He’s my son! A mother knows these kinds of things! Can’t you understand? Are you a mother?”

No. I wasn’t. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t sympathize with the woman. She raised a killer and didn’t know it (or was in denial). Either way, her whole life was being turned upside down.

“No, ma’am, I’m not,” I informed her quietly, slightly shaken by her personal question. “Look, Mrs. Palka. We have evidence that your son committed the murder. We have an eye witness. But if your son didn’t commit the murder, then we still need to talk to him. If he’s really innocent like you claim, we need him to be able to prove it.”

She sniffled and seemed to take my words into careful consideration.

After wiping her eyes and taking a deep breath, she said, “My husband died two years ago. I wanted to stay home with my son, but I had to pay the bills. I worked. I thought I had to. But maybe he needed parents at home. Maybe I ruined everything for him.”

I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be a lie, but it wouldn’t exactly be the truth, either. Because the truth was, I didn’t know Mark Palka or her mother. I only knew his murder. It was cruel, vindictive, and almost sadistic. The kind of crime that others would suspect only a monster could commit. And monsters were something I knew very well.

“Where is he?” I interrogated again, pushing harder as I watched her break.

Her eyes began to water again and I watched as she had to make the most difficult decision of her life. Going against every maternal instinct, she had to give up her son.

“They won’t hurt him, will they?” She whimpered anxiously.

“No, ma’am,” I said with fake confidence. There could be no certainty with these kinds of things. The cops that my partner and I were working with didn’t seem vengeful or dirty. But Mark Palka killed a fourteen-year-old girl after brutalizing and raping her. I definitely wasn’t assured of his safety.

“He’s staying at my mother’s old house. It’s abandoned now. He—he’s there.”

I wanted to sigh from relief. Not that her son was going to be arrested, but from the ache of this case. I immediately turned to my partner who nodded and jumped up. Part of me worried that he would leave without me to capture this son of a bitch. But Dolls was a loyal partner, despite his faults and our problems. He knew how much I wanted to catch this guy.

“What’s going to happen to him?”

I snapped my head toward her again, startled by her voice as if I had forgotten I wasn’t alone in the room.

I cleared my throat and answered, “He’s going to be processed and questioned. We’re going to check DNA samples against his. But we already have enough to book him.”

She started to sob again. And all I could do was watch. I was an agent, not a caretaker. My job wasn’t to comfort the family. It was to hunt down monsters. Even if it meant breaking a mother’s heart in the process.

“Can’t he— isn’t there a chance he’s innocent? I mean, what if he’s being set up? Mark had a lot of friends. Maybe one of them planted evidence.”

I wanted to tell her ‘he didn’t have any friends, nor was he capable of having friends ’ but I didn’t want to push the knife in any deeper. She was going to lose her son. Her son was a murderer. Telling her that her son was a narcissist wouldn’t have helped anything. Besides, I needed her to still tell me things about him. I still needed to understand.

“Did Mark ever have friends over?” I asked her.

She shook her head and said, “Oh, no. Not that I know of. But I knew he spent a lot of time with his friends out of school. He would tell me about them. They did everything together. And the girls loved him. Maybe that’s why a friend framed him. They’re jealous.”

She was looking for anything, anything, to convince her that her son wasn’t a killer. Even if it meant diving into conspiracy theories. I’d seen this a lot with parents. Usually, they don’t give up on their kids. Which, would normally be a good thing. But in this case, it usually hurt both the parent and the kid more in the end.

“Do you have any names?”

She thought about it for a few seconds before answering, “I don’t remember their names. But I do remember there was a leader. He taught the boys a lot of things.”

That piqued my interest. Usually, these kinds of killers were  leaders. The idea of someone that taught him… it was confusing.

“What do you mean? What did he teach the boys?”

The mother frowned and shrugged as if she didn’t believe that it mattered. “He wouldn’t tell me exactly. All he said was that he taught him how to hunt. He really looked up to this boy. My son… he didn’t have many friends until he met him. He changed, really, once he met him, he did. He became confident. Happy.”

This changed everything. I started to dig into my files to try to find any information about his childhood that I had, but I wasn’t finding the answers I was looking for.

“I have documents stating where you and your family lived when he was a child, but nothing from ages sixteen to eighteen. Where did you all live?”

She rolled her eyes and muttered, “I didn’t want to move to that godforsaken town. But my husband insisted. That was when we moved to a little town called Purgatory. When my husband died, we moved. Do you know the town?”

I gulped, letting the wave of shock ride through me. Did I know the town? I almost laughed at the absurdity. She had no idea how well I knew that town. A boy learning to kill in a town where the murder rates for young girls have skyrocketed? That wasn’t too hard to believe. But that only drew in more questions that I knew she couldn’t answer. But at least now I knew now why I was put on this case. Lucado’s name was written all over this.

“Thanks for coming in,” I told her abruptly as I stood up, causing her to crease her eyebrows in confusion. “That’s all I need. One of the rookies can escort you home if you like.”

“Can I stay to find out what happens to my son?” She asked me softly.

I nodded and cursed myself. At the name of the town, I completely forgot she was a mother who was afraid of losing her son. I put on a smile and told her, “Stay here. I’ll find someone to keep you company and talk to you about next steps with your son. Thanks for your time.”

Before I could leave the room (I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible to track down Lucado), she said, “Agent? What’s your name again?”

I stared at her, wondering if she somehow knew . I cleared my throat and finally answered, “Earp. Special Agent Wynonna Earp.”

She raised her eyebrows in recognition and opened her mouth to say something. I’d never get to hear what she wanted to say, however, because I left the room before I had the chance. My breathing became unsteady and I knew the smartest thing to do was go to the bathroom to get myself under control. But I wasn’t known for doing the smart thing.

My pace quickened as I headed for Lucado’s office. At some point, I realized that Dolls was trailing behind me calling my name, but I ignored him. Without knocking, I barged into my boss’ room as she was on the phone.

“I’m going to have to call you back,” She grunted into the phone before hanging up and smiling at me. “Earp. What can I do for you? You know, the door is there for people to knock on. Might want to learn that someday.”

I was not in the mood to take her shit. I slammed both of my hands on her desk and waited for the small traces of fear to enter her eyes even though a tight smile still stretched across her aging face. Lucado wanted everyone to think she had big game and was tough as hell, but there were some things she couldn’t hide from me. I could see through that cold exterior of hers.

“You knew, didn’t you?” I questioned furiously, my eyes not leaving hers for one second. I felt Dolls tense up behind me, ready to pull me back if he had to. Always the loyal partner, even when I didn’t want him to be.  

She laughed and touched her blonde bun anxiously. She was preparing herself to lie. Everyone had their tell. Lucado’s was just more obvious than others.

“Knew what, Earp?” She asked as if she had no idea what I was talking about.

“Palka,” I answered with anger. “You knew it was him all along. You gave us this case to find out where he came from. You knew that once we found out he wasn’t the only monster, that I’d do anything to catch the others. Even if that meant going back.”

Lucado didn’t deny it outright, which was new for her. Instead, she leaned back into her chair and crossed her arms and looked like she was debating her options. As much of a pain in my ass as she was, I had to give her credit that she was methodical.

“You’re the only one that I want on this case, Earp. You know this town better than anyone else in the division. The others could read about it and make a profile, sure. But you know this town. You’re the only one that can solve this case. More than twenty girls have gone missing or been found murdered in the past four years. There are different MOs and signatures. There isn’t just one perp, here. This town won’t just open up to anyone. Especially not big city agents from the government. You have to do this.”

A bitter laugh roared out of my throat, causing her to flinch. “I don’t have to do anything. I left that town years ago without looking back. That town doesn’t want me back. They’d prefer a stranger than me.”

“I hired you three years ago because of your background, Earp. You understand the criminals better than anyone I know.”

I smirked at her. “I thought you hired me for my undercover expertise, Lucado.”

She narrowed her eyes at me much like a disappointed parent would. “You have solved more crimes than a lot of people in this division. But I can take this away from you faster than you can say you’re sorry. Because I am your boss, Earp. You can continue with that smartass attitude, but I will always be above you. And I can stick you into a prison where we all know you belong.”

I grimaced and looked away. This whole conversation reminded me of the first time that we met.

I could smell the alcohol sweating off my skin. The box I was being held in might not have had any windows, but I could tell there was a source of heat coming from inside the room. Miami was warm enough. Adding additional heat to the room made it torture. But then again, I had no fucking clue where I was. It wasn’t the normal police box I was normally stuffed into.

The door opened and a blonde woman sat down across from me. She was in a pantsuit and stared at me like I was below her. It made me angry.

“Can you take these off of me?” I asked her, holding my chains up so that she realized that I was being kept like I was an animal.

She laughed and replied, “You aren’t in any position to ask me for anything. Do you know where you are?”

“A fucking military base or some shit?” I asked with a shrug. “I’ve been in worse places.”

“Oh, I know,” She commented with smugness. “You’ve been in more cells than there are palm trees in Miami. Don’t look so surprised, Wynonna Earp. You’re still in Miami. So here’s what’s going to happen: you’re going to go back out into the world with a little microphone on you. You’re going to pretend like everything is normal. You’re going to talk to your pimp and get him to admit what exactly he and his friends have been doing to the missing girls. And if we get enough to lock him and his friends away, I won’t arrest you for solicitation and dealing. Do we have a deal?”

There was no way out of this, but I didn’t want her to think that she had the upper hand. I placed my hands onto the metal table and smiled at her.

“Don’t you want to know where Garrett Hayes is?”

“So, what?” I asked her as I got off her desk and stood up straighter. “You want me to go to Purgatory and find out who’s killing these girls? That it?”

Lucado smiled that tight smile of hers and replied, “I’m glad you still have some sense in you. Yes, find out who is killing these girls. But make sure you know everyone that this teacher has taught. Some may be like Palka and have moved. You and Dolls will be going there alone and I expect updates every twelve hours.”

I nodded, but there was still a nagging possibility that bothered me. “What if they don’t allow me to stay?”

“You stay anyway. Besides, you’ll have jurisdiction. No one can stop you both from investigating. And if they try, they’ll have to fight me and the rest of the government.”

Sometimes I forgot I worked for the government. I somewhat despised myself for doing it. Working for the thing I once fought so hard against. But I kept my enemies close and ended up here. Fate was funny that way.

Dolls silently followed me to the locker room so that we could grab our go-bags that were always prepared for something like this. We had to work across the whole country with sometimes no notice beforehand.


My partner wasn’t the kind of guy to ask a lot of personal questions. I had known him for three years, and in the span of those years, we only had a few conversations that didn’t have to do with a case. We had what Lucado called ‘good chemistry.’ It was more like we could bounce ideas off of each other and we were generally on the same page. Working with him was easy. He was sometimes frustrating with how often he followed the rules, but after working with me for years, even he relaxed on a few of them.

“What kind of problems are we going to face here?” He asked when I woke up after a long nap in the car on the way to Purgatory.

“I ran away when I was seventeen,” I informed him vaguely with a shrug of my shoulders. “The cops weren’t a fan of me. Got arrested a few times. Haven’t spoken to my family in years either. I pissed off probably every person in my high school. People think I should have been charged with my father’s murder.”

He looked at me briefly and I couldn’t read the emotion that ran across his face. Dolls barely let me see what he was feeling (if he was feeling anything at all).

“It was an accident,” He stated firmly, purposefully being careful about not making it a question.

“Some people didn’t care. Look, Dolls. You’re probably going to find out some stuff out about me that will make me seem like shit. It’ll be hard for you to ignore. Because I have done things that are absolute shit.”

Dolls remained silent for a few seconds as if he was soaking that information in. “You were a kid, Earp. I’m going to judge you for the things you have done as an adult instead.”

A small grin found its way to my lips. He may be an emotionless ass sometimes, but that somehow made it easier to be around. He wasn't offended or afraid of me. Despite how rocky our partnership began.

This stranger looked me up and down as if he was trying to understand how someone like me could be in the same room as someone like him. He was stiff, controlling. And I knew this before I even heard a word come out of his mouth.

“You want me to work with… this?” He asked Lucado as he pointed to me from top to bottom.

I looked down at my crop top and shorts and smiled at him devilishly. “Are you afraid of being distracted? I get that a lot. You’re just going to have to hold in the horniness, ‘kay, sweetie? Look, Lucado, maybe I should work alone. I work best that way.”  

Lucado rolled her eyes and said, “You both aren’t going to act like children about this. It’s my decision.”

“She’s a criminal!” He spat out and crossed his arms. His veins popped out of his head. He was angry. I was somewhat entertained.

“She’s a special agent, now,” Lucado countered with stern eyes. “Don’t question me on this. You and your partner have needed a third person for a while now. I found her. Earp, you’re going to have to learn to work with others. And that starts with appropriate dress attire. Now, you have a case.”

It took a while for us to warm up to each other. We both learned early on that it was hard for us to trust each other. Trust took some time to be earned, but once it did, everything else seemed to fall into place. It surprised me in a lot of ways. A guy who worked for the government was one of the first people I had trusted in adulthood.

“Have you warned your family about coming?” He asked as we passed the ‘Now Entering Purgatory’ sign.

I snorted and admitted, “I don’t have their numbers.”

“You could have looked them up,” A voice called out from the back seat. I looked around to find Jeremy staring at us with apprehension.

The tech wizard had joined us only a few months ago. Him being an asset to the team would be an understatement, not that I’d ever admit that. I didn’t know how Lucado found him, but he was the kind of guy that made the character from Criminal Minds, Penelope Garcia, genuinely seem realistic.

He was excited when we told him we were going to my hometown and started asking questions that made me want to stab myself with a pencil. He was a nice enough guy, but he wanted to know everything about me and Dolls. We didn’t take that kindly. After shutting him down about his questions, he soon fell asleep in the back seat. Jeremy Chetri wasn’t the normal kind of guy I’d hang out with. But seeing him sleep back there gave me the sudden urge to keep him safe at all costs. He was too good for this world. Too good for this job. It was annoying.

“I could have,” I gave in with a sigh. “But I didn’t. I didn’t leave on good terms with my aunt and uncle. If they even say a word to me I’ll be surprised. My sister on the other hand… I fucked that up too.”

“Families be crazy,” Jeremy commented with an awkward chuckle that caused me to roll my eyes. “At least you have me and Dolls.”

I ignored his words and felt my heart sink once we drove through the town. The police department was our destination, but every building brought back memories that I didn’t want to remember. It was like reliving the past. Or some horrible nightmare.

We all got out of the car once we arrived. It was odd being back and not being detained in the back of a police car. Then again, it was almost satisfying. Especially seeing the look on Randy Nedley’s face once we entered the building.

“Special Agent Xavier Dolls from Black Badge Division in the FBI,” Dolls announced before Nedley had a chance to say something to me. “Our boss said that she already spoke to your team. You have a room for us with all the files and computer systems that we need, right?”

Nedley didn’t look away from me once he reached out and shook Dolls’ hand. “Sheriff Randy Nedley. Yes, Sir, I got the call. Can I ask why you’re looking into my case? With Wynonna Earp of all people?”

I grinned at him and said, “Long time no see, Randy. I’m surprised to see you have been promoted. Still harassing troubled teen, eh?”

He glared at me and crossed his arms. “You’re not welcome here, Wynonna. If you’re here that means trouble. Agent Dolls, maybe you should be looking at the person next to you as the culprit. She has the longest rap sheet in this town.”

My hands curled up into fists and I noticed other cops slowly make their way toward us. Champ Hardy, a deputy no less. It made me shudder at the thought of that pea brain helping the town. There was also this mysterious redhead who looked full of confusion. I didn’t recognize her, nor did she seem to recognize me. It was refreshing. She was attractive. Different. Intriguing.

Dolls cleared his throat and threatened, “I’d appreciate it, Sheriff , if you didn’t speak to Special Agent Earp in that way again. We have jurisdiction here. If you have any questions, you should ask my boss. The secretary of state is on her speed dial, I'm sure she can ask him to talk to you. Now, please show us the room so that we can get this done as quickly as possible. We really don't want to overstay our welcome.”

A smile stretched across my face as I watched Nedley's fall. It felt like sweet sweet revenge. 


I swiftly turned around to find a girl dropping her box of doughnuts, staring at me with complete and utter awe. I felt my breath escape my chest. The last time I saw her was when she had braces and would flinch when I cursed. We both stood there, frozen to the spot. I didn’t know what to say, how to apologize, or how to change the shit way I left things all those years ago.


Chapter Text

She was exactly how I remembered her: the sunshine. My sister radiated warmth and goodness . Soaking it in felt like going on a roller coaster and coming off grinning. Waverly was every single thing I wasn’t. She reminded me of what I could have been if I hadn’t killed our father. But after our dad’s death, it caused her to stay (terrified to leave) and for me to run (terrified to create a home). There was no hope for either of us.

“Wyn— What are you doing here?” She looked horrified and astonished. I hated how it seemed like I just waltzed back into her life without a care in the world. I winced at the thought of how much it must have hurt her.

“I’m an agent for the FBI,” I informed her awkwardly as I put one hand on my trusty gun and the other on my badge. “I’m here to solve the cases of the missing and murdered girls.”

She looked at me from top to bottom. I tilted my head to the side to measure her as well and I learned by the doubt in her eyes that she didn’t believe me. Not that I could really blame her after being the shittiest sister in the world.


“Black Badge Division,” I specified as if she would have any clue what the secret division entailed. “This is my partner, Agent Xavier ‘thorn-in-my-side’ Dolls and our resident geek Jeremy Chetri.”

Jeremy waved at her, causing Waverly to smile at him gently. The interaction almost made my cold heart melt. It was like watching two people you know would become best friends in the first second you put them together. Jeremy always reminded me of Waverly.

Instead of saying hello, Dolls leaned over to my ear and whispered like a weirdo, “We’ll set up. Talk to your sister.”

I glared at him, but he just shrugged and moved toward the room that Nedley had pointed to earlier. The other deputies and Sheriff left as well, leaving me alone with my sister. I almost audibly groaned. The last thing I wanted was to be left alone with the girl I abandoned. I missed her like I missed the light, but she didn’t deserve my darkness.

She looked at me expectantly and I cleared my throat. “So, what are you doing here?”

“I drop doughnuts off here every morning so that I can say hello to Champ, my fiancé.” She lifted her hand to show me the ugly rock on her finger. I was shocked, though I tried to look pleasantly surprised. Champ was an idiot and way out of Waverly’s league. But I knew I didn’t have the right to tell her that. I lost that right when I left.

“Engaged. Wow, my little sis. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? You’ve grown up.”

Waverly let out an odd and somewhat forced chuckle, replying, “I was twelve when you left. Not even a teen. A lot has changed.”

This conversation was getting to me. Leaving her was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Letting go of the one thing I loved… it tore me apart.

Waverly was reading on the steps of the front porch. As she was eating slices of apples, I watched as she chewed and flipped pages, her eyes never leaving the crowded words in the book. Ever since the whole incident, she started to read furiously. I understood. It was her way to escape. I had my own way, through drugs, alcohol, and sex. I guess you could say hers was more healthy.

I lit my cigarette and Waverly snapped her head up to look at me. She smiled like I was some goddamn saint. It fucked me up.

Curtis and Gus didn’t tell my sister everything that I did. My sister knew what I did to my father, but she doesn’t know about the hospitals and foster homes that followed. The nights of screaming and binge drinking and borderline drug-induced psychotic breaks. She didn’t know how close I was to ruining everything.

I sat down next to my sister and she rested her head on my arm like I was her world. She was certainly mine, but I wouldn’t allow myself to be hers. She deserved better than that.

“You’re strong, baby girl,” I told her as tears flooded my eyes and I breathed out a puff of smoke. “Don’t you ever let anyone convince you otherwise. This world will try to break you down, but all you gotta do is get back up and everything will be okay.”

She latched onto me tighter as if she somehow knew. Not that she really possibly could. I had no fucking clue what I was doing half the time. She didn’t say anything (not that she ever said much anymore) so I continued.

“I miss that smile of yours. It’s pretty, Wave. But your looks… they are nothing compared to those brains of yours. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all. Own the world, Waverly Earp. It’s yours. And no matter what happens, know that I love you.”

I made up my mind in those few seconds as I spoke. Sometimes loving someone meant shielding them away from your sickness. Sometimes loving someone meant leaving them so they could find someone better. Sometimes loving someone hurt like hell when you knew the best option for them was to not be in their life at all.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you,” I whispered and watched her eyes fall to the floor. She couldn’t look at me anymore. “But it seems like you’ve done well without me.”

Waverly sighed, “I would have done better with you.”

She was wrong, but I didn’t tell her that. The one thing that I learned through interrogations was to not make it look like I always thought I was right. Apparently, letting others think that they made good decisions was key to getting people to talk.

“So you’re doing okay?” I asked her.

“Yeah,” She answered vaguely. “I haven’t changed too much. But I’m sure a lot has changed for you.”

She wasn’t wrong about that, but I wasn’t ready to talk about myself or what I had done, nor was I sure that I ever would. Being a teen runaway wasn’t the kind of life that led to happy stories and riveting fairytales.

“How are Gus and Curtis?” I questioned to change the subject. “They’re still probably arguing about who should cut down the trees for the fireplace.”

Waverly chuckled and replied, “They don’t really change. They do miss you too, though. They might not say it. But I know they do.”

“They shouldn’t,” I commented with a frustrated shake of my head. “I wasn’t the best niece. Or sister. I’m sure they’re going to find out I’m in town. Make sure they don’t feel obligated to see me or house me. I’m okay.”

My sister frowned as if that somehow made her sad. “They’d love to see you, Wyn. You’re family. You’ll always be family.”

I had a lot of different kinds of family over the years, but the one consistent thing about them was how fleeting it was to have them. No family was permanent. And the love in a supposed family wasn’t always strong.

“I haven’t been your family in years,” I told her while I anxiously stuffed my hands in my back pockets. Before she had the chance to argue, I said, “I have to go meet my team. Maybe I’ll see you around, Waves.”

She opened her mouth to say something and then closed it as if she thought that she shouldn’t say it. She then smiled, nodded, and walked out of the building.

I watched her walk away and felt the traces of her linger, like embers from a flame. I was the one who burned things down despite all of her efforts to keep us lit.

Trying to understand a murderer meant nothing if you couldn’t understand the victims, the choice of the victims, the connections of the victims, and how the victims were killed. Every detail wrote a word about the killer(s) that we were looking for. Many murderers started with smaller offenses: robbery, armed robbery, assault, domestic violence, or rape. Programs like CODIS were created to connect these offenders. But perps were getting smarter. The odds of a killer leaving DNA was becoming less and less of a normal occurrence. I blamed TV.

“Genna Blake,” Dolls stated as he put the vic’s picture up on the board that had a drawn timeline. “The first victim. Files say she lived alone and had no family in Purgatory. Either the cops don’t know how to investigate or she really didn’t have any friends to interview. Hoping that there are competent officers here, let’s say that she is a loner.”

I stared at the pictures of the brunette and let her image sink into my head. “Okay, so I’m Genna Blake. I don’t have any friends here. I only moved a few months ago after graduating from college. I got a job at the bookstore, but the only people that work there are old people. I don’t have interactions with young people or people that I’m interested in. One day, maybe a guy comes into the store and smiles at me. I’m taken. I don’t even realize he’s a creep. Maybe he picks me up after work. I’m the perfect victim. I won’t be reported missing. I can be kept for weeks without anyone noticing.”

“He stalks her,” Dolls added as he read the file on the victim. “Watches her. He sees her walk into the store every morning and leave every afternoon. He sees her eat alone. He sees her go home alone. He sees everything she does and knows that she’s perfect. He picks her up from the bookstore, the last place she was seen. Maybe he talked to her earlier and offered a ride back to her place. Maybe he even asked her out. She still trusts him when she gets in the car. It isn’t until he brings her to a closed off location when she realizes what she has gotten herself into. When she starts to fight back, he injects her with a paralysis.”

“Etorphine,” Jeremy explained as he looked at the ME’s report and the pictures of the needle marks on her arms. “Via a hypodermic needle. Even a tiny dose would knock her out in a matter of seconds. Depending on the dose it would leave her immobile and unconscious for hours. There are many marks. And many different types of drugs that he gave her. Ketamine, Rohypnol, GHB… and so many others.”

I flinched. “Date rape drugs. Common enough for Purgatory.”

“So the drug scene is big?” Dolls asked me with a raised eyebrow. He knew that I would know. And I did.

“Well, it was ten years ago. I mean, you have your fair share of weed dealers. Some meth and heroin. And I know for sure roofies weren’t too expensive to buy. The dick dealers I knew would sell it to just about anyone. I was more into molly myself--”

“So maybe he’s a dealer,” Dolls interrupted and looked at the picture of Genna another time. “Or he buys drugs. But with the amount he’s probably buying, his dealer would know this guy. Or the group of guys, if Lucado is right with this teacher-student situation.”

“Genna’s low risk. The perp had her for about seventy-two hours before dumping her in a garbage can behind a restaurant with no cameras. Not that this town has many cameras anywhere anyway. Crime is a constant yet this town continues to want to live in the past. This town’s a perfect target for criminal wannabees.”

“Hey… guys…” Jeremy said as he took a deeper look into the ME report and the photos of Genna’s body. “Come look at this.”

Dolls and I shared a look of surprise before we both huddled around the younger genius. The three of us were close and for a second it weirded me out. The three of us worked wonders together in the job, but none of us really knew each other. Friends would be a loose term, even. Not that I had any friends.

“She was asphyxiated, right? See the bruising around her neck? It was done by hand. The medical examiner stated that was the cause of death. So why are there so many post mortem stab and torture wounds? She was even beaten and raped after death too.”

“Whatcha thinkin’ hotshot?” I asked him as I had no idea where he was going with this.

“I’m thinking this is more than overkill. Maybe we have the leader killing the girl, with the strangling, but I think his students are practicing on the body once she was dead. There are a variety of weapons used on her. There are different levels of hesitation or anatomical knowledge. I mean based on the lividity, I think someone hung her up, too.”

Jeremy’s theory sounded crazy, but just the right amount of crazy that I fully believed in. Dolls, too, seemed to agree.

“You’re right,” He said with a sharp head nod as he made his way toward the board with the timeline. “Strangulation is personal and can be used as a sexual release. If she died, then stabbing and torturing her wouldn’t do anything for this perp. If he’s teaching these others, it’s definitely possible this is how they’re doing it.”

“This can be turning into an organization then,” I pointed out as I looked at the large pile of photos of dead girls. “This is going to be shit to solve. It reminds me of the perfect crime.”

“The perfect crime?” Jeremy asked.

“If there are a group of dominant killers, they could kill each other’s targets so that there are no motives for any of the killing. And each one has something to lose so they wouldn’t trade each other in. This only works with all dominant killers though,” I explained as I looked at the evidence.

Dolls hummed before mentioning, “Luckily this group seems big. The chance of one town having more than a few dominant killers is unlikely. Hopefully, we’ll find a submissive one and get him to turn on the rest of them.”

I nodded and looked at the photo of Genna. “Wrong place at the wrong time. If we’re right about this, these guys aren’t going to stop.”

“No,” Dolls concluded. “They’re just getting started.”

There were eighteen victims that we could positively say were killed by the same group of perps, or Unknown Subjects (UnSubs). We spent hours reading and discussing every single victim and every detail about their deaths. After doing this for years, I was used to it. Black Badge Division specialized in solving the extremely horrific, violent crimes that usually emotionally affected normal people. Most of the time we only worked on cold cases, but this one stretched across years and probably individuals. Unfortunately, just thinking about the kind of people that lived in Purgatory, I could already name more than ten people that I thought was capable of this kind of murder. Then again, I always saw the worst in the town.

Dolls complained about the inadequacy of the department’s investigation and I had to constantly remind him that we were in a small town where the police usually focused on drugs or minor robberies.

“Why does Nedley hate you so much?” Jeremy asked as we got into the car to drive to the motel that we were going to stay at (which was odd for an old resident of the town).

“We have a history of him arresting me for all sorts of shit. And before you ask, yeah, I did it all. But he still targeted me. I dunno if I can even blame him anymore, though. I made fucked up decisions.” I wasn’t going to go more into detail and they could tell. I wasn’t one to discuss my criminal past very often unless it would be helpful for cases.

Jeremy smiled at me sympathetically and said, “I think I’d act out if I lived in this town, too. I think I’ve seen one other person that isn’t white. I can’t even imagine what the people of this town would do if they found out I was gay.”

I could tell them what they would do. But I chose not to. I barely wanted to think about it.

My heart was beating faster as she fumbled to rip the clothes off of me. She had been staring at me for weeks and I couldn’t help but watch the way she walked across the room and ordered people to do things. We barely spoke to each other, but that made the desire that much stronger.

She pressed me against the closet door and she pressed against me, feeling me up the whole time. I wanted her skin on mine. I wanted her. I barely even thought about it. It didn’t matter she wasn’t a guy. It never mattered to me. A good fuck was a good fuck. And her wanting me was all I needed.

“God, I shouldn’t be doing this,” She whispered in my ear before biting it, causing me to groan. “You make me do bad things, Wynonna.”

Her fingers traced my underwear and I could tell what she wanted. She was nervous, though. She hadn’t been with a girl before. I liked the idea of being her first.

“Do I give you dirty thoughts?” I asked her as she sucked my neck and other areas. “Do I make you hot when you see me? Am I all you think about when I’m in the room?”

“You’re very distracting,” She admitted and then kissed me on the lips again. “You’re different than all the others. You seem older. More mature. Like you can handle me.”

I grinned at her and said, “I can handle you. But I’m not sure you can handle me.”

She took that as a challenge. Closet fucks made my days much more interesting. School was less unbearable. I could see the heat on her cheeks when I walked into the room. She’d ignore me, knowing that it turned me on.

We tried to be quiet in the closet, but she didn’t have as much practice as me. I didn’t know what would unravel me was giving a woman too good of an orgasm. Of all ways to be destroyed, though, I guess it was better than others.

Someone unlocked the door and the school found us (with her fingers inside of me). I wasn’t embarrassed, but she was. She immediately blamed me for seducing her and instead of her getting in trouble, I was suspended. Normally teachers would get fired about this sort of thing, but I already had a record. While I was being ridiculed for fucking a girl, Mrs. Lancaster received pity for being seduced by her ‘evil’ student.

I had been to this motel before. For a variety of reasons. Or more like two reasons: drugs and sex. At least those two reasons weren’t a part of this scenario anymore. I kicked the drug habit a few years ago and I wasn’t looking to have sex with Dolls or Jeremy. It was weird being here to sleep. I didn’t like it. Nor did I think I’d be able to sleep at all.

Insomnia was just a symptom after years of drug abuse, bad memories, and working homicides. There were some nights I could only fall asleep because I passed out from the alcohol. But I had been trying to stay sober. For reasons I didn’t know what the fuck for. It was probably wishful thinking at best. I had been drinking since I was twelve. The fact I wasn’t dead from alcohol poisoning was miraculous enough.

Black Badge was low budget. This usually meant that the three of us shared a room. It was not ideal, but I was always given a single bed. I tried to sleep with both of them occasionally, but I was a restless sleeper (if I could actually fall asleep), stayed up the whole night, or got to the hotel later after quick fucks with strangers to get rid of the extra energy. They couldn’t handle my sleeping habits. They quickly told me that I'd be the one to sleep alone.

The room was suffocating, though. Jeremy was already asleep when I escaped by getting out of the room to at least get some fresh air. This place brought too many memories. Every second made me feel like I was seventeen again with the urge to run away.

“Lucado shouldn’t have put you on this case,” Dolls commented as he opened the door and sat next to me against the wall. “I know how much this is affecting you and I don’t even know what happened to you here.”

“Did you update her?” I asked, trying to change the subject.

He nodded and said, “She sounded happy to hear that we were making progress. Thought I wouldn’t be surprised if she was doing all of this just to piss you off. You’ve been becoming more defiant recently.”

“If she wasn’t a shit leader I would follow her rules. But alas, she’s shit. So, therefore, I defy her orders. She was the one who wanted me. I never asked for this.”

Dolls sighed and pressed his hands together. He didn’t like it when I broke the rules. Truth was, I think he was afraid of losing me. I understood that fear. After all, both of us had lost too much already with this job.

“I know, Earp. But you’re a good agent. And if you want to continue having it, you can’t keep pretending like your actions have no consequences.”

I rolled my eyes, a little tired of the old speech that he gave every few days. “I know, I know. My bad decisions can get someone hurt.”

“Or yourself,” He added softly, but quickly, as if it wasn’t an afterthought. “I want you to know that if it becomes too much, you can go back home. We can even keep telling Lucado you’re here. This case matters, but I don’t want it to destroy you.”

He cared, but I didn’t want him to. “I’m strong.”

“I never said you weren’t,” He clarified and put a hand on my thigh comfortingly. “Everyone has the thing that hurts them. Something that makes them vulnerable.”

“You don’t,” I argued with a slight whine. “You’re a robot. Nothing touches you.”

Dolls stared at me with disbelief. “Is that what you really think? Scratch that, you’ve been calling me a robot since day one, but do you really think nothing hurts me? If we go digging where I grew up, there’d be plenty of skeletons we’d uncover. You’re not the only jaded one here, Earp. Don’t forget that.”

I didn’t like how real it was becoming. How close we were to telling each other personal information. It took months to get Dolls to soften up around me. It took longer for him to crack a joke and prove to me that he was human. It wasn’t like him to just open up in front of me. It wasn’t our kind of relationship. And I knew he was just trying to comfort me, but I didn’t want it. I didn’t deserve it.

“It’s a scary world when you know out of the three of us that Jeremy is the most normal one out of all of us,” I joked lightly to make things feel less serious.

He didn’t laugh. Instead, he shrugged and said, “Normal people don’t do our job. And if they try, they can’t do it well. Not many can look evil in the eye and stay.”

I stared at him. I didn’t understand what he was trying to get at. What his goal was. Why he was trying to make me feel better.

“Maybe that’s because I like it,” I muttered under my breath, just to see what his reaction would be. “Maybe it’s already a part of me.”

He rolled his eyes and countered, “There’s nothing evil about you, Earp. There’s nothing about you that’s attracted to evil. You save people from it.”

“Why are you being this way?” I finally asked him, tired of his kind words that only felt like lies to someone who wasn't used to them.

“Like I said,” He explained as he got up and opened the door to our room. “I wouldn’t want anyone digging into  my skeletons.”

He then entered the room and closed the door as if he somehow thought that he gave me a good answer (which he absolutely didn't). I tried to shake away all the weirdness coming from my partner as I stared out into the sky. For a decade, I would look at the sky and wonder if my sister was looking at the same one. Though, the Purgatory sky was different than other ones; here, the stars were much brighter in the darkness.

Chapter Text

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.

“Not anymore.”


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.”

“Religious assholes?”

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.”


Chapter Text

Compartmentalizing was a good tool when looking at dead bodies. Personally, I had seen enough dead bodies of strangers and people I knew so that when I looked at Stephanie, I felt nothing. Well, not nothing. Genuine curiosity and anger about who killed her. But not the overwhelming holy fuck I knew her type thoughts that can shit up an investigation. Instead, I was annoyed and furious that someone thought they had the right to kill innocent girls and get away with it. Murder wasn’t always black and white, but this was unforgivable.

“A game?” Jeremy asked as he looked from me to the body multiple times. “Wh-- What game?”

“We don’t know the rules yet,” I told him with a shrug. “But they know we’re here. And they know they’re not planning on stopping just because we’re here. The leader’s afraid but doesn’t want his students to know that. His students are worried, heard about us in the bar or on the street and told him to maybe cool it. But he has a reputation to protect. He’s not going to stop killing. He likes it too much. And the risk… he just gets that much more of a sexual release when he strangles her.”

He wouldn’t stop grinning and I couldn’t tell if he was high or going insane. He was proud of what we had just accomplished with bags of money in the trunk. I wasn’t. We almost got caught. That made me on edge while it turned him on. We only just lost the police a few blocks ago but I could tell that he wanted to stop soon. His hand was on my upper thigh and I could tell he wanted more than just a touch.

Just like my prediction, he stupidly pulled over to the side and hungrily led me into a field behind a park. He was practically panting like a dog he was so excited. He liked public sex. Something about getting a fistful of grass while he inserted himself inside of me and the adrenaline of possibly getting caught.

He pinned my wrists to the ground and laughed as he struggled to take his pants off. I already didn’t have underwear on, per his request.

Before he could go any farther, I whispered, “Garrett won’t be happy that I’m damaged goods.”

I could see the red in his eyes before he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You’ve always been damaged,” before he wrapped his hand around my neck and I blacked out.

Like he could somehow tell I was having a short flashback, Dolls stared at me for a few seconds as if he wanted to say something but then looked down at the body again.

“The cuts are more shallow,” Jeremy explained as he looked into the knife wounds. “Messy, unorganized. It was fast. He didn’t take his time.”

“He took his eager apprentice with,” Dolls stated with a sigh. “Only two killers this time. He didn’t have much time, so he took one student. Chetri said there are hesitation marks. Maybe this is the apprentice’s first ‘kill.’ But he liked it.”

Jeremy nodded in agreement and added, “There aren’t just stab wounds. It looks like when he finished, he opened up her arm just to see what was inside. He also cut a chunk of leg muscle off.”

I raised an eyebrow. “He’s curious. The shallow marks don’t mean he’s terrified. It was just his first. But he probably has a taste for it now. So how does this leader find all of these sick puppies?”

That was the million dollar question none of us could answer.

Back at the department, I took a sip of coffee that I wished had whiskey in it before I cleared my throat and said, “I’m a psychopath. But I’m also brilliant enough to recognize how to go through life without letting people know I’m a psychopath. Maybe I’ve learned how to act human. Maybe I’m even charismatic. I don’t have many close friends because I can’t hide my narcissism. I don’t have long term girlfriends; my sex habits are scary enough to freak out even someone really into BDSM. But I’ve had enough girlfriends so that I don’t look like a freak. I started out with rape. Maybe I raped a submissive girlfriend. Or maybe I’m into strangers. But I hate women. Maybe I hate my mother. Or maybe my father was overly dominant so I don’t know what a normal relationship would look like. But rape wasn’t enough. Not when I needed more power. So I started killing because it’s fun. I like it. Maybe a friend caught me. Or I was drunk and let it slip that I raped women. And someone didn’t find it horrifying. They liked the sound of it.”

Dolls and Jeremy stared at me with disbelief. I usually spoke as the victim, in their perspective, but I was now talking like the UnSub. But this guy was getting to me. And I wanted to understand him.

“He’s white,” Dolls added as he looked at the victim pool (serial killers usually killed those with the same skin color). “He’s attractive enough to attract attractive women. He’s young but not too young. Late twenties to late thirties.”

“Hey, guys?” Jeremy asked as he stared at his laptop where he had been typing away and looking things up and files that were the departments. “Are you sure he’s that young?”

I furrowed my eyebrows and asked, “Why are you asking?”

“I was trying to find out if it’s possible that he’s old enough to kill girls in the 80s.” He passed me and Dolls two files where girls were also stabbed and strangled.

In 1987, a blonde and brunette were killed without their cases being solved. It was odd to me that there were only two (serial killers didn’t normally stop at two or become dormant).

“Are these files it?” I asked him as I looked farther into it and saw more connections (like signs of brutal torture and rape). “There has to be more than just that .”

Jeremy shrugged and replied, “This is what they gave me. That Champ dude. I got a feeling that he didn’t know where things were. Why? Do you think I’m right?”

“I’m not sure it’s the same guy,” I told him honestly. “But I can’t outright say there’s no connection. We need to find all the cases that even resemble it. Maybe it’s the perp’s father. Who fucking knows.”

“Should we go ask Nedley?” Dolls asked.

“Hell no,” I told him. “This guy is more interested in keeping this case under wraps rather than finding the truth. If this has gone on for decades, he’ll be the first person to try to cover it up. I think we can ask Haught, though. She seems legit.”

Dolls narrowed his eyes and said, “Isn’t she the girl you just yelled at?”

She definitely was. I probably fucked that up due to my fuckupedness. I didn’t want to have to face her again but based on the looks that Jeremy and Dolls were giving me, they were expecting me to apologize.

“You want me to talk to her?”

“We’re both antisocial,” Dolls explained with a shrug.

Jeremy’s eyes widened and he argued, “In different ways. He's mean and standoffish. I’m only awkward. But people like me. Wynonna, on the other hand, you can at least pretend to be cool and interested in people.”

I glared at him and said, “I’m a good liar. Fine. But this girl isn’t some rando dick that’s obsessed with sex and money that I usually fuck around. She seems like she actually has a brain. And I was pretty harsh. But I guess I’ll try to make things right. It’d be good to have an ally in the department. We can use her.”

They nodded and I left the small conference room that we were using and headed for the small desks in the bullpen. Haught had her face stuffed in a file and it reminded me of Waverly when she used to read books that she couldn’t put down.

“Whatcha reading, Haught Sauce?” I asked her as I sat at the corner of her desk, knocking things over with my own ass.

She looked up from the file and glared at me with a ferocity that I had no idea she was capable of. Besides the fact that it was almost a turn on, I was still surprised by the pure annoyed look. It reminded me of someone I used to know.

“You’re a real dick, you know that, right?” Mercedes asked me after I snatched the cigarette out of her hands and smoked it myself. “Just because you have a sad past doesn’t mean I’ll just let you fucking take my cigs.”

I let out a puff of smoke and passed it back to the glaring redhead. “You’re lucky I skip with you, Gardner. Not everyone will hang out with the perv’s sister.”

“Well shit, Wynonna. If I knew that you were talking to me outta pity I would have skedaddled years ago. Besides, we both know I’m the only friend you got. Who knew people don’t like hanging out with killers?”

I chuckled darkly and countered, “Says the one who fucks a killer.”

“That’s not saying much,” She pointed out as she crushed her cigarette with her foot. “You’ve slept with the whole goddamn town.”

“Does that make you jealous?” I asked with a dirty grin.

“It makes me worry about your coping mechanisms. But jealous? Nah. I don’t really give you the extra thought.”

“A real case file to solve a real crime. But wait. You think what I do isn’t real crime solving. So I guess it’s just some light reading.”

I stopped myself before rolling my eyes. “Don’t take it personally, Haught. I’m a bitch to everyone. And I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I’m not really a big fan of my sister finding a dead body.”

Her eyes softened and her whole demeanor changed at the mention of Waverly. “Don’t worry about it, Earp. Can I do anything for you?”

“Your files… We think we found some connections to past cases but we don’t feel like we got all the information. Can you help me out?”

She stared at me for a few seconds as if to try to see if I was lying. Finally, she put her file down and said, “I’ll help you out if you tell me what we’re really looking for.”

I blinked several times, surprised that she could see through my bullshit. I didn’t really appreciate it. I liked having the upper hand. But more than anything, I needed those case files. And despite everything I had learned over the years, part of me trusted this strange redhead.

I leaned over and confessed, “There were murders in the 80s that seem eerily similar to our cases. Like eerily eerily.”

She raised her eyebrows and asked, “Do you think it’s the same guy?”

“That’s what we need to find out.”

She nodded and said, “Then let’s go, Earp. We’ll be spending a whole day in there if we’re lucky. The filing system is shit.”

Haught led me to the evidence and filing room the seemed to look endless.

“The files only go back to 1973,” She explained as we traveled to the back of the tight room. “There was a fire and everything was destroyed. You think he could have even been around in the 70s?”

I had no fucking clue and asked, “Is it ordered by date or crime?”

“Date, unfortunately. But when I got here I was so fed up with the system that I labeled them with color-coded dots. The key is right there.”

She pointed to the poster on the door and I started pulling files out that had any of the dots for solved murder, unsolved murder, and missing persons. After an hour of just doing that, we both stared at the huge ass pile that seemed unrealistic due to the fact that this was a small town.

When we got over the shock, we started downsizing the pile, removing the male victims and girls younger than fifteen and older than thirty-five. We probably could have downsized it more, but I didn’t want to take any chances. There were about nineteen other cases that seemed to somewhat fit the profile.

“Hey, Earp,” Haught began as she looked through the smallest file in the pile. “Your sister’s case…”

Immediately I snatched the file out of her hands. Okay, there were eighteen cases. She looked startled and I told her, “It’s not our guy. Believe me, Haught.”

She sighed and nodded. “Okay, so there are eighteen cases. But the first one is in ‘74. Which means they could have started before then.”

I agreed. “We need to find a way to find out about the cases before the fire. And don’t even think about talking to Nedley. He’s going to deny all of this. It’ll make him look like a bad cop. Which… isn’t a lie.”

Haught rolled her eyes, apparently still loyal to her boss, and said, “I wasn’t going to say that we talk to Nedley. I think we need to find someone that understands this town’s history. Someone that can be quiet about this. Someone that might even have a connection to us.”

I glared at her. She didn’t need to talk in riddles. I knew who she was talking about. “We don’t need to get her involved, Haughty. She’s already more involved than I’d like. This stuff… murder… it isn’t for everyone.”

“She’s strong,” Haught argued which caused me to raise my eyebrows. “I just mean… she’s tough. I might not know her very well, but I can tell she’s got this fire, you know? She can handle this. And be discreet. Besides, solving this should be our priority. I know you and your sister aren’t… on the greatest of terms. But if she helps us solve this case, won’t it be worth it?”

I knew she was trying to pull my emotional heartstrings and I hated how I was fucking falling for it. “Fine, Haught. But I’m not going alone. You’re coming with. And this is going to be your idea.”

She grinned as if that was what she wanted originally. “Fine with me, Earp. Should we tell th -- your -- team?”

I could tell that she wanted to be a part of the team. That she wanted to be with a group of people that did more than pull people over and find drug dealers. But Black Badge wasn’t just for any old cop. And Haught, as driven as she seemed, I didn’t know if she was cut out for it.

“Yeah, let’s go, Officer Bossy.”

We avoided the strange looks coming from Champ and Nedley as we headed for the conference room.

I opened the door and called out, “Yo. We’re heading out.” I slapped the eighteen case files onto the large table and said, “These all could fit. See if they make some sort of timeline or pattern. Some of these might fit. Maybe none of them do. But these only go up to 1973 when there was a fire. We’re going to talk to a historian and see what we can find out if there are more cases like this.”

“Okay,” Dolls agreed as he started to skim through a case file. “Don’t do anything stupid, Earp. We need to keep this under wraps. Lucado’s already--”

“Getting on your ass?” I finished for him. When he didn’t outright disagree with me, I had my answer. “Well, tell her to suck my dick. See you all later.”

The mood was different in Haught’s car than it had been last night. I obviously was a total ass and that really fucked up the mood. That was my fault. I didn’t want to be her friend. But I didn’t want awkward silence either.

“So you moved here recently?” I asked her with genuine curiosity.

“A few months ago,” She told me reluctantly. “But being here has somewhat felt like an eternity.”

I snorted and replied, “Well, I can’t deny that Purgatory is like one long hell loop. That’s why I got out as fast as I could. You’re smart. You can do better than here.”

I could tell she was trying really hard not to have a reaction.

“And yet you’re back,” She pointed out as if I hadn’t thought of that before.

“Good deduction skills, Officer Obvious,” I muttered sarcastically without really thinking about it. “I’m here for the case. My boss, she was the one that assigned it.”

She raised her eyebrows and said, “Really? I didn’t peg you for a rule follower, Earp.”

I smirked and told her, “Well, Dolls is supposed to be my boss sorta too but you see how that doesn’t happen. It’s a job, Haught. A job I’m good at. Unfortunately, following the rules is the only way the justice system allows these sick fucks to go to prison where they belong. Believe me, being a vigilante won’t get anyone anywhere.”

“I do get it,” She admitted with a sigh. “Sometimes the process seems slow and arbitrary. But we have rules for a reason, you know? Have you always wanted to be a cop? Or do whatever you do?”

A laugh fell out of my mouth before I answered, “Honey, I was a criminal before I caught criminals. I do this for the money and adrenaline.”

She frowned and said, “I don’t believe that. Maybe it’s a part of it, but you care about these girls that were killed. You care about justice. This isn’t just about a paycheck and high.”

“No,” I agreed vaguely. “It’s not.”

She seemed like she didn’t want to stop the conversation there, but we already arrived at Purgatory’s library (which included the archives that apparently Waverly ran). It felt odd having what was kind of a partner that wasn’t Dolls. I’d only had two partners (before Jeremy came along) and Haught was different than both of them. Sure, she was obedient and cautious like them, but there was something else in her. Something I recognized that reminded me of the person I used to be.

“You can’t tell dad, Wy,” Willa whispered in my ear as she tugged on my hand as we walked through the dark roads at night. It was my birthday and daddy had forgotten. When he went to sleep, Willa woke me up and told me to put on clothes.

Willa liked adventures and she liked taking me on them. But it made me very anxious. I didn’t like it when daddy got angry. Especially at Willa.

“He’ll find out,” I muttered as she practically dragged me down the street. “I think we should go back. Daddy doesn’t like it when--”

“Dad won’t find out,” Willa argued and abruptly stopped so that she could face me. “The big dick is too dumb to find out. You only turn eleven once, baby girl. We’re going to have fun on your birthday. You deserve to have fun on your birthday.”

I accidentally let the tears bubble up in my eyes. I didn’t want the fact that he forgot my birthday to let it bother me, but I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t deserve to be forgotten. But still… with the risk of being caught, I didn’t know if this adventure would be worth it. Following the rules was easier.

I was about to refuse and tell her that I wanted to go back when she immediately turned around and started pulling me again. She took us into an open all night bowling alley. She paid for everything and let me order any food I wanted.

The two of us played for hours and after a few minutes, the guilt and worry washed away. I trusted Willa. She taught me how to have fun (even if that meant breaking a few rules) and feel like I deserved it.

Haught walked into the library like she knew exactly where everything was, while I, on the other hand, was in completely new territory. I may have lived in Purgatory for seventeen years, but I had not walked into the library. The archives were in the back of the building and I could tell immediately that this was Waverly’s space.

Waverly was nose deep into an old book (I could tell since she was wearing those gloves to hold and touch it) and I couldn’t help but remember the last time I saw her read with such concentration. It was the day I left her. It wasn’t very hard to remember, the pain was always there. There were different memories that were harder to find and think about.

Haught cleared her throat and Waverly immediately swiveled around in her chair and turned to look at us with the most surprised face I had ever seen. Apparently, she never thought her sister would ever come to visit. I couldn’t blame her.

“Wynonna… Nicole! Hi! I mean… what’s up? Do you g-guys need anything?” She was uncomfortable, obviously, and didn’t know what to say.

I think she probably wanted me to say that I just wanted to talk to her, as a sister talking to another sister, not as a cop to a witness. But I couldn’t be her sister. At least, not in the way that she wanted. But I could solve the case.

“The records at the department at 1973 because of the fire,” I explained carefully, making sure that she wasn’t going to get any false impressions of what this interaction was going to be about. “But we think there is a possibility that there are cases similar to the cases we’re looking at today that go past 1973. And so here we are to talk to the town history buff.”

Waverly couldn’t hide her look of disappointment, but she seemed to shake it off before saying, “I think I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

As she started to dig through a filing cabinet, Haught and I shared a look of uncertainty. We didn’t know what she was exactly referring to.

“Aha!” Waverly exclaimed as she passed a small file to us. As we both opened the file, we saw pictures and names of about thirty or so girls starting at about 1920. Haught and I both looked at my sister with absolute confusion.

Waverly sighed and said, “I like patterns. And well, when I tried to create lists of those who died in Purgatory, these girls stood out to me.”

I was surprised. Not that Waverly seemed brilliant and intuitive, but that she had similar obsessive tendencies to me. That there were little things that she couldn’t let go of either.

“Why?” I asked her curiously.

She smiled with almost embarrassment before answering, “Uh… I think we all know that the murder rate in this town has always been pretty high. For as long as this town has kept records, it’s always had this cowboy mentality. As in, there’s an honor for the citizens of this town. Which has led to duels and bar fights and gangs and murder. But these thirty women… they just don’t fit. And it seems like… well, I can’t be sure… but it seems like they were just ignored. None of them happened too close to one another and they were of women that were seen as outcasts. Women that were unwed or worked or… were prostitutes. Not all of them were killed in the same way, but it seems too crazy to be a coincidence.”

Haught’s jaw was dropped and after a few seconds, I realized my jaw had done the same thing. I was beyond astonished (and had to simmer down my feelings of pride for my baby sister) and speechless.

“Do you uh…” I felt flustered, which was odd for me. “Do you have all the details about every case?”

Waverly shook her head and explained, “I wrote down where I can find the information at. But it will still take time to find everything. But a lot of them won’t have much. An article maybe. As I said, these deaths weren’t investigated much or at all.”

“Do you want help?” Haught asked my sister with a smile that I hadn’t really seen from the redhead before.

“Oh!” Waverly replied, obviously startled by the question. “I’ll take any help I can get! Thank you, Nicole. But I understand if you need to go back to your job. You’re a very busy woman.”

“It’s really no big deal,” Haught reassured her. “I’d be happy to help.”

I wasn’t surprised that Haught was willing to help. Waverly has that magnetic draw of warmth and kindness. I think everyone was attracted to it. But the idea of having to spend more time with my sister and my… colleague was daunting.

“Let me call my team to come over and help,” I told them with a shrug. “If that’s okay with you, Waverly.”

My sister nodded rapidly and answered, “The more the merrier! Besides, I’d like to get to know your friends.”

I grimaced and muttered, “They’re not my friends.” The last thing I wanted was for this to turn into some social party. I really didn’t want my two worlds to collide. I did not need my past catching up to my present. It would be a fucking explosion. So, I called Dolls and prayed to the devil that putting all of these people together wouldn’t start my social armageddon.

Chapter Text

I didn’t know how boring digging through newspapers and obituaries were until it actually made my eyes feel numb (who knew that was a sensation?). Jeremy fell asleep after twenty minutes of searching, not that I was very surprised. Jeremy was dedicated to his job, but even at the mention of paperwork, he’d fall asleep. Not that I could blame him really.

“So, let me get this straight,” I muttered to Waverly after I read the same line three times. “You chose to do this. As your job?”

Waverly snickered and said, “Well, no one else was going to. All of this stuff wasn’t even organized when I got here. And I do normally like it. Sometimes it can be incredibly boring, sure. But look at all of this rich history. You don’t know how often I hear something about an Earp. Our family was so… involved.”

“Sorry,” I apologized bitterly. “I kinda fucked up our name.”

My sister, Haught, and Dolls looked up to look at me like I had three heads. Apparently, they didn’t appreciate self-deprecating jokes. Who the hell knew?

“Darlene Atkins,” Haught said, changing the subject. “I found her information. I can’t believe this. She was strangled and mutilated and no one looked into her case. The police just said that it was probably a drug deal gone wrong.”

I looked over her shoulder to see what she was reading from. I skimmed it quickly and told her, “She’s a prostitute. They wouldn’t have investigated it at all.”

My eyes caught Dolls’ and I quickly looked away. I didn’t want his random pitiful stares. He didn’t always feel bad for me. He wasn’t necessarily sympathetic to the choices I had to make to stay alive. But there were random moments of… something. Where he looked at me like I was a helpless victim. Xavier Dolls, always the enigma.

“We can’t trust her,” Dolls commented grimly as we stared at the witness in the interrogation room. He looked at her like she was a criminal; a girl who chose to be in the position she was in. He was wrong. I didn’t know the girl, but I understood her. I knew girls like her. I was a girl like her. Being so desperate that you’d do anything to survive.

“We can,” I argued and watched the girl nibble at her fingers. “She thinks we’re going to arrest her for solicitation. She doesn’t know we’re looking for a client.”

He rolled his eyes and said, “She’s a willing participant who is paid by her client. Good money. Why would she give that up?”

I stared at him, annoyed of his ignorance, and told him, “Because her friends have been killed. Because even if she sells herself because she has to, she has morals. She has ethics. And she’d want to get a murderer off the street.”

He glared at me. Dolls and I weren’t the greatest teammates, always having differing opinions. He was logical and based all of his decisions on facts that made sense to him. I actually understood the world that he decided to dive into, but after six months of working together, he still thinks I’m that criminal that Lucado found a while ago.

“You didn’t want to get Hayes off the street,” He stated nastily, doing whatever he could to get under my skin.

“X--” His partner began before I interrupted her.

“Things aren’t always so black and white, Dolls. Garrett Hayes was a murderer, and so much more than that. You’re right. But he also saved my life, even if it was his goal to end it. Loyalty is hard to understand, but understand me when I say that this girl is not a monster. She’d do anything to put one away.”

The last thing I wanted was for Dolls (or even Chetri) to mention my past, even if it was prevalent to this case. I didn’t want Waverly (or even Haught) to know about what I did to survive. About the places I’ve been to, the people I worked with, and the things I let people do to me. Luckily, Dolls seemed to understand that. He might have been dense sometimes, but he was getting better at reading a room and understanding personal issues.

I was surprised that Haught barely even seemed to blink. Not only did she seem like she wasn’t bored out of her goddamn mind, she seemed like she was enjoying herself. Then again, she and my sister were chatting each others’ ears off, so they were distracted by the shit ton of stuff that we had to go through.

Dolls and I never talked to each other like the two of them were. I barely knew anything about him and the things he knew about me were in my case file or related to a case. It wasn’t like we couldn’t talk to each other. We did talk, but not about anything personal. We just didn’t really have that in us. Chetri tried to open us both up, but we couldn’t do it. I knew a few things about Jeremy, but while he wants us to think he’s open to talk about anything, I think there are a few things he wouldn’t talk about either. Surprisingly, though, I did find out that Jeremy and I had similar tastes in men.

But Haught and Waverly were talking about everything from the redhead’s cat to Waverly’s experience with veganism. I didn’t want to hear it. The last thing I wanted to do was get attached to either person, and they weren’t making it easy for me.

“Someone stab me,” I murmured under my breath so quietly that only Dolls heard me. At his stern look of disappointment, I shrugged and told him, “From experience, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as this.”

He rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t think that’s something you should be proud of, Earp. And please, don’t continue talking about your numerous wounds. We already determined that I have more scars than you do.”

I harrumphed and muttered, “Asshole.”

“What the hell are you two talking about?” Haught asked as we both realized the two girls had been looking at us the whole time.

Noticing the horrified look in Waverly’s eyes, I explained, “We’re joking. Okay, I’ve got the last one. Are we finally done yet?”

Waverly reluctantly nodded and we put all the information together. These cases weren’t necessarily that similar to the current case, there were different methods of killing and a longer resting period between each kill, but there was an undeniable sense that this could not be a coincidence.

A sudden horrific thought came to me and I could tell my eyes widened. I nudged Jeremy awake and looked at him and Dolls and said, “Can I speak to you both outside?”

They nodded and followed me outside (as I ignored the annoyed looks of Waverly and Haught). The thought was hard to swallow and even harder to say out loud.

“Whoever killed those girls aren’t killing the girls today. I mean, it’s impossible. He can’t be immortal or 130. So obviously, it’s more than one person.” When I realized they didn’t disagree, I theorized, “What if there are two killers? Or maybe three? And what if the current killer was one of the first or second killer’s students? What if this is more organized than we had even thought?”

Chetri was gaping at me while Dolls barely blinked.

“Killers creating killers…” Dolls muttered as if he was trying to see if the words made sense with his lips. “It’s not unheard of. There are plenty of copycat killers and people that persuade others to kill. In the right situation, it’s certainly possible.”

He didn’t seem to outright say no. In fact, he seemed to think that it wasn’t crazy.

Jeremy groaned and said, “If we had the police and autopsy reports we could probably figure out how many killers there were. How are we going to be able to solve this?”

“We catch the current sickos and hope that they can lead us to the people that let them act on their sick thoughts. Though, we do have to keep in mind that if this is bigger than we thought, we’re going to have to interview a lot of people who won’t be happy talking to us.”

Dolls nodded in agreement and added, “We’ll be lucky if we get out of here without pitchforks and death threats.”

“Should we get back to the station? We have a long night coming up.”

Jeremy frowned and said, “We have to tell them, Wynonna. They just spent hours helping us when they didn’t have to. We can’t just blow them off.”

I could . I’d be fucking happy to. Besides, they seemed happy enough with each other. But Jeremy was giving me puppy dog eyes and I didn’t want him to think that I was the literal devil. Not that to us that was a bad thing. Jeremy and I began binging shows together (he thought it would help with trying to be sober) and we watched all four seasons of Lucifer . He was a little geek, but he did pick a show with a really hot cast. I could give him that.

“Fine,” I gave in. “But I’m not happy about it.”

Haught and Waverly were still engulfed in a conversation when we met back up with them. My sister looked surprised as if she didn’t think we’d come back either. She was used to me leaving and I couldn’t blame her.

“I don’t know what you two are thinking,” I told them with a shrug. “But we’re thinking that this is an organization that has been going on for decades. We think that the teacher today might have been a student of the past. We’re not sure how many teachers there have been, but if this is bigger than we thought, it’ll be easier to catch.”

“I hope that’s good news,” Waverly replied with an anxious frown. “What can we do to help?”

“Nothing,” I answered immediately. “This is our job. We get in, we get out. We already shouldn’t have come to you two for help.”

Haught glared at me and said, “So, you ask us for help when you need it, but when we offer to help, you won’t let us? What the hell are we supposed to do with that, Earp?”

I understood her anger. Not being able to solve a case always sucked, but the last thing I wanted was to include Haught and Waverly into this. Black Badge was used to the danger, but a town cop and a historian/anthropologist didn’t know what they were getting into. This was worse than having one killer. These people must have had connections if they were able to get away with it for so long. Connections that could get either of them fired or hurt. I wouldn’t risk it, even if they both had been very helpful.

“You’re supposed to let professionals deal with it,” I told her coldly. “And pretend like you never heard any of this. We’ve got to go. But uh… see you later.”

I turned around as quickly as I could, but it didn’t stop Waverly from asking, “Can we talk later, Wyn--”

“Maybe later,” I interrupted, without looking around to see the inevitable disappointment in her face. I didn’t know if I could handle it again.

It was nearing midnight and we had been at it for hours, pouring over all the information that we had just received and old information. We wanted to make our final list; we wanted to be sure of who exactly was a victim of such a brutal organization.

“Altogether, there are about fifty-two victims from 1929 to well… today,” I stated as Dolls drew another line on yet another board. “Ninety fucking years of getting away with it.”

Dolls stared at the wall and explained, “In the last five years, there have been seventeen victims, which is a steep rise. From 1973 to 2014, there were another seventeen victims. Around one girl was killed every two years. But these girls were much more brutally killed and tortured. They kept them longer. They hid the bodies better. And from 1929 to 1973, there were another eighteen bodies over forty-four years. This new teacher is very cocky, very demanding. Egotistical. Narcissistic.”

“He’s God,” I agreed with a nod. “He wants people to know it too. Unlike the others, he needs the attention. He doesn't just get off by getting away with it, he wants everyone to know there’s a serial killer. He wants the fear. This guy started five years ago. And he’s so different from the rest. I wonder if his own mentors are disappointed in him.”

“They should be,” Dolls argued with a snort. “He’s arrogant and dramatic. The others weren’t. They took pride in the silence, in the honor of it all. They killed the prostitutes, the drug users. They killed the scum of the streets. This UnSub is killing any girl that walks past him. He’s doing the exact opposite of his elders.”

“He might be young,” Jeremy pointed out with a shrug. “Immature. Maybe his teacher died before being able to teach him everything. And know he’s fully out of his cage and doing damage.”

I nodded in agreement. “His students are really young too. Novices. But the UnSub likes it that way. He wants to show them the right way to do it. He likes being in charge.”

“It takes a lot of energy and strength to kill girls, especially girls in the age range we’re looking at,” Dolls said, still staring at the timeline (and probably wasn’t blinking). “Most likely, the teacher stops killing from age fifty to sixty. And most killers start from age twenty-five to thirty-five. That’s a fifteen to thirty year range. From 1927 to 2014, there could be three to five teachers.”

I let that sink in. At the beginning of this, I thought there were only a few monsters: the teacher and the students. Now, I knew there were many teachers and probably multiple students per teacher. I felt like throwing up.

“I’ve been looking at the autopsy reports of the girls of the last five years,” Jeremy said as he pointed to pictures of the bodies. “I can match some of the stab marks together. Trajectory and force are very specific. I’m confident I’ll be able to pinpoint how many students there are based on these marks.”

Sometimes there were these moments where people surprised me. After years of what seemed like hell, I didn’t think that there was anything that could startle me. But the brilliance of Jeremy Chetri was sometimes so strong it was like a slap on the face. I wouldn’t tell him that of course (wouldn’t want to let that go to his head) and I certainly didn’t want him to think that I liked him or enjoyed his presence.

“Good,” Dolls responded professionally. “But we should get back to the motel. We won’t be able to work diligently if we’re exhausted.”

That was an understatement. I normally stayed up for hours, but this case was draining (physically and emotionally). I really, really , wanted to go to sleep. The only problem was my fucking insomnia. I missed drinking. At least then, I could pass out.

Once again, I found myself sitting outside of the room, looking out from the balcony. Motels were the worst fucking places because literally everyone was doing something illegal or morally wrong and it was hard to look away and not remember myself doing those things. It felt like a different life, but one that no matter how far I ran, I kept returning to.

“Hey,” Jeremy said as he opened the door. It was interesting that he came out to talk to me. When he first joined, he was terrified to be in the same room as me. Which, was my fault. I’m not a big fan of newbies.

I could help but stare at the boy who was supposed to be replacing her. His knees were practically wobbling as his worried face seemed to match the rest of him. He was younger (not that it was necessarily a problem) which meant he was most likely inexperienced.

“He’s top of his class,” Lucado explained to me and Dolls as if she understood our shocked faces and took pleasure in them. “And he’s passed all the necessary tests.”

Dolls reached out his hand for Jeremy to shake and introduced himself politely. Very different than our first introduction.

“J-Jeremy Chetri,” The young boy told him with a frazzled smile. “I’m so honored to have this opportunity--”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupted as rudely as possible. “You’re three-years-old. How in hell are you qualified to be working with us?”

Jeremy looked beyond startled and I felt my heart sink into my ass. I got the reaction I wanted.

Dolls gave me this look. I was surprised, he wasn’t angry. If anything, he looked sympathetic. As if he somehow understood how I felt about the whole goddamn thing. How she was gone and this little child was replacing her. 


“No. Fuck. This. Shit.”

Jeremy stared at me with sadness and comfort like he wanted to help but just didn’t know how. I felt bad. It wasn’t his responsibility to keep me sane.

“You don’t have to check up on me,” I told him bitterly and with a long sigh afterward.

“I know,” He replied honestly. “But you know me. I gotta make sure all my people are okay. Is there… anything I can do?”

The first thing that came to mind was: leave me alone . The words were so close to spilling out and I think he knew that I wanted to say them. But I couldn’t. Not to him. Not when everything else was so fucked up.

I needed to get away from him.

“I’m going to go take a walk. I’ll be back in an hour or so, okay?”

Jeremy nodded and frowned slightly like he was disappointed (he always thought that I was capable of being a much better person).

“Be careful,” He warned.

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, yeah. The next one will be brunette.”

He shook his head and countered, “Not of the killers. But of yourself. I don’t know if you know this about yourself, Wynonna, but you are sorta self-destructive.”

A bark of laughter fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. He grinned with pride and I could tell that he was happy to see me laugh.

“Thanks for the heads up, Chetri. I’ll see you in a bit.”

I got up and headed out, fading into the darkness of the night like the angsty person I am. The moon was bright tonight, so I was able to see where I was going. I felt like it was maybe a sign that I wasn’t being completely stupid. Though, I think everyone else would argue.

I didn’t know what to focus my thoughts on. The case (which I was quickly getting obsessed with) or my team or Haught or Waverly (I wouldn’t allow my thoughts to fall into the dangers of the past).

When a car pulled up next to me, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t someone like Tucker Gardner. Instead, Nicole Haught was right there, looking up at me with… concern?

“Again, Earp?”

I couldn’t believe that she was talking to me again, especially after what I said to her. I kept being rude to her and she wasn’t taking the hint. Or maybe she had (she was smart after all) and didn’t care.

“Crazy doesn’t stop after one night, nosey Haught. You still doing that ‘town guardian’ thing?”

Haught narrowed her eyes at me and said, “I am. But I was also looking out for you. There’s someone that you should talk to.”

I raised an eyebrow. Normally, I wouldn’t have been interested in whatever person she wanted me to meet. But there was a serious in her tone that I couldn’t ignore. Surprising her and myself, I got into her car.

She began to drive and the silence soon became overwhelming.

“Why are you trying to push everyone away?” She asked me eventually. I decided to play confused and ignorant. “Don’t give me that look, Earp. You know exactly what I’m talking about. One second, we are actually working well together and you seem to enjoy my company and in the next second, you’re doing everything you can to piss me off. Why?”

I shrugged and answered,  “Because I’m a dick and I want everyone to be kept on their toes.”

“No,” She argued with the shake of her head. “I don’t think that’s it. You want me to hate you. You don’t want me to want to befriend you. And despite your team caring for you, you wouldn’t consider them your friends. Why don’t you want anyone to get close to you?”

I glared at her. I did not need a fucking therapist.

“You don’t know me, Haught. Stop pretending like you do.”

“Fine,” She responded with a sigh. “But I will get to know you. You might think you don’t deserve friendship, but I’m not really going to give you a choice in the matter.”

“In what matter?”

“In our inevitable friendship.” She stopped the car and I noticed that she parked in front of a bar I used to know so well. “We’re here.”

Ignoring what she had said, I muttered, “Great. Bring an alcoholic to a bar.”

Haught looked startled. “Oh. Shit. Um…”

“It’s fine,” I told her with an eye roll. “Come on. Let’s get this over with.”

The bar was exactly how I remembered it. As a kid, mama worked here and I spent many nights hanging out with her. When I was older, I came here to drink and forget and drink and pass out. Shorty had a soft spot for me and let me hang around, despite my bad attitude and horrible manners. I think he preferred me to drink at his bar rather than somewhere else where people couldn’t keep their eye on me. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but he probably saved my life.

I was expecting to see Shorty bartending, but instead, I found a man with a ridiculous hat that matched his equally ridiculous mustache. He didn’t really seem to fit in our time.

“Officer Haught,” He greeted as he tipped his hat. “It’s a pleasure seeing you again. Now, who is this pretty lady you’ve brought with you?”

I tried to give him the ‘I’m not interested’ look while Haught told him, “This is Wynonna Earp. She’s with--”

“Black Badge,” He finished for her, grinning. “I’ve heard all about you. And truly, the pleasure’s all mine. Not what can I do for you lovely ladies?”

I stared at Haught with confusion and annoyance. This jackass was the guy she wanted me to meet? I could hardly believe what was happening. Haught had an informant (which I could only guess her boss didn’t know about). I was somewhat proud.

“Behave, Holliday,” She told him with a warning glare. “I’ll only pay you if you’re appropriate. I don’t have to come to see you.”

He nodded and poured a couple of drinks. Three, to be exact. Whiskey, my devil drink. He took a sip and watched carefully as I stared at my glass.

“You don’t, Officer,” He agreed slyly. “But you and I both know that my information is too good to pass up. Besides, I wouldn’t want you girls coming all the way here for nothing. That drink’s on the house by the way, darlin.”

He wanted me to drink it. He wanted to see the chaos that would unfold if the drink met my lips like he somehow knew the monsters deep in my head.

“We’re not playing games tonight, Doc,” Haught told him stiffly. “You know what we’re looking for.”

He chuckled and replied, “Of course, ma’am. Have a sip, Wynonna. It looks like you need it.”

I felt like the only way he’d talk was if I took a sip of poison. And so I did. And oh, did the birds sing in my ears. When the glass was empty and I started to feel the world wash away, I stared into his consuming eyes.

“So tell me, Doc Holliday. What do you know?”


Chapter Text

“They call themselves The Seven,” He explained as Haught started to write down everything he was saying. “And before you ask, I don’t know any of their names or who would know them. They’re ghosts. Anonymous. The town might be in denial of their existence, but we know that they’re out there at night. Everyone is scared of them. No one will touch them.”

“How long have they been around?” She asked him.

He shrugged and answered, “For as long as I’ve been around. They weren’t always called The Seven. When I first got to this town, they were called The Five and they weren’t nearly as known. But this new leader… he’s different. He wants everyone to know he’s there.”

I took another sip from the third glass I’ve drunken from and asked, “How the fuck do we know you’re not a part of it or sayin’ this for the money?”

Doc snorted and replied, “Because I may steal and deal, but I'm no killer, honey. Not of the innocent, at least. I still got some ethics. But I’m wondering if you do, darling?”

He was looking me up and down, and despite the amount of alcohol I consumed, I told him, “I’ve already fucked criminals. Been there, done that. And I’m really not interested in a guy who looks like a Sons of Anarchy cosplayer.”


There were a few drugs I refused to partake in. Not in the fear of ODing or dying, but because of the feelings of the high. Control was something I cared about, something I needed to survive alone for so long. At seventeen, I had been offered countless drugs to help me forget, but when I was high, I didn’t have control over my body. And having control was what kept me alive.

Garrett looked at me like I was his prize. He had countless girls and boys, but I felt like I was his. More than any of the others, I was his partner. I stole with him. I planned things with him. I met with the gangs and fucked the gangs for him. I was his weapon, inside and out.

He rode me until I saw stars in my eyes and as I licked and bit his skin, I could taste the alcohol that seeped out of his sweating skin. He tasted metallically sweet and I realized I had cut into the skin. He didn’t seem to mind.

When he rolled off of me, breathless and tired, I watched his chest move up and down while wondering what I would ever do if it stopped moving up and down. He might have given me to another man, but he was my lifeline.

“I don’t want to go back to him,” I admitted quietly, hoping deep down that he was still asleep. “I want to stay with you.”

He groaned and muttered, “I know, baby. I know. But you make so much money with him. And then we can go away together. Just you and me.”

I knew him well enough to know that he was lying. But I ignored those thoughts and decided to believe him because I needed to. I had to.


Doc shrugged and replied, “You haven’t screwed me.”

“Nor do I ever want to. Is there anything else that you want to tell us?” I asked him, the risk of getting a buzz glaring in my mind.

He smirked and answered, “Just that you girls better be careful. This is a force that you might not want to reckon with.”

“We can handle ourselves just fine,” Haught told him and pulled my arm, letting me know that we were going. Before anyone could say goodbye, she tugged me out of the bar and to the car mumbling curses to herself. “Jesus, Earp. I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to feel like you had to drink. That was so stupid. And he didn’t even give us much.”

I shook my head. No worth her feeling bad about it. “It’s cool. I’m sort of surprised that you have an informant, but…”

She was angry, though she didn’t need to be. He gave us more information than what we had before, which was better than we had before. But my mind wasn’t on the case anymore.

“Haught,” I stated firmly, calmly, staring at the redhead next to me. When her eyes met mine, I could tell that she felt guilty, which was so stupid. “Stop looking at me like that.”

She nodded and looked down like she was upset with herself. I rolled my eyes.

“Oh for the love of God…” I leaned over, tilted her chin up, and kissed her. I learned pretty early on in life that you could cheer people up easily with a kiss. Or at least get their minds off of the shit in their heads.

Her lips were soft, hesitant. She didn’t want me, not like she would want someone that she was interested in. But she allowed the kiss to deepen, to unfold, to grow. We didn’t kiss as lovers, but as two grown people seeking refuge in each other.

When I finally had a breath, I asked her, “Can we take this back to your place?”

She nodded and started to drive.


It took a while to convince Haught that she didn’t need to be delicate or soft with me. I liked a good, athletic, hot and heavy, mouth-watering, mind-numbing fuck that I wouldn’t be able to get out of my head for weeks. When given a few orders and room for creativity, Haught did not disappoint and I enjoyed myself more than I would probably ever admit. She was insanely talented with her fingers and I could tell through her moans and screams that my tongue had found all the right places.

After multiple orgasms and hours later, Nicole fell asleep clinging to my body. I didn’t snuggle or cuddle as a rule. Especially not after meaningless sex. I squirmed out of her tight hold around me and scrambled to find my clothes in the darkness. I gathered she would be pissed that I left without saying goodbye, but there was no way in hell I would wake her up or be there in the morning.

I tiptoed out of her apartment, feeling sweaty and like I needed a long and very cold shower. Luckily, the air outside was brisk and I felt my body relax and cool down as I walked back to my motel.

Of course, Dolls decided to wait up for me. He was sometimes an extremely paranoid partner who cared too much if I was okay or not. Then again, other times, it seemed like he wouldn’t know the difference if I was dead or alive.

He looked me up and down and asked, “Did you have a good time?”

“Yes, perv, thanks for asking,” I joked with an eye roll as I sat down next to him on the balcony and waited for the speech about staying safe .

When he didn’t say anything, instead, I informed him, “Haught introduced me to her informant on the DL. I get the feeling like he’s a non-violent street criminal. Smart, but shady. He says that the organization goes by The Seven. And nobody knows who’s in it or how to get in it. Everyone’s afraid of em.”

“Hmmm…” Dolls grunted and thought that information through. “Is he the guy you fucked?”

I glared at him. Always the gentleman. “No. I screwed Haught.”

He sighed as if that was a worse person to have sex with. “She’s an ally, Earp. Did you drink, too?”

“Yes, Dad. I also masturbate in the shower, what else do you want to know?” I didn’t like the judgemental look on his face, especially the squint that he had for me after I said that. “This town is killing me.”

There was a brief second while he was registering my words when his eyes softened. But then his cold glare returned.

“I know.”

“I don’t like her,” I told him honestly. At his lack of a reaction, I clarified, “Haught.”

“I know.”

I twitched. How the fuck did he know anything? I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing half the time. And then it hit me like a fucking truck.

“I didn’t fuck her because she reminds me of… her.” I still couldn’t say her name out loud.

“I know , Earp.”

I glared at him again. “You’re quite the genius tonight.”

He didn’t think that was funny. “Someone has to be smart. You’re going to fall apart, you know. It’s only a matter of time. I can’t protect you forever.”

“Fuck you. I can take care of myself, dickwad. I am a grown adult. You might be my sorta boss, but you don’t control me, alright? I won’t fuck up the job if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Dolls looked at me like we both knew I was lying. But I wouldn’t admit it, and neither would he. Our continuous little joke back and forth pretending that I was fit to work. And yet it only bit us in the ass a few times.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” He muttered repeatedly as he pressed a napkin to my side as if it could stop any of the bleeding. “What the fuck were you thinking? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

I pulled a flask out of my jacket, took a swig of it, and confessed sloppily, “Only sometimes. Did he get away?”

“No, I got him cuffed,” He told me, unable to look into my eyes. “We have to take you to the hospital.”

I shook my head and winced as he pressed harder on my wound. “L-Lucado will fire me if she finds out I’ve been…”

“Reckless? Intoxicated? Suicidal? Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you?”

He was disappointed, I could tell. After we had made such progress, he was done with me, not that I could blame him.

“She’s everywhere!” I screamed at him, tired of keeping it in. Tired of pretending like everything was normal. “I see her everywhere and I don’t want to anymore! I just want to forget.”

Dolls looked at me with… sympathy? True, untainted sympathy that maybe he could genuinely relate to if that was even possible.

“I miss her, too,” He admitted and handled me more gently. “But you can’t lose yourself because of it. She wouldn’t want that. She… I don’t know why, but she believed in you. She saw potential in you. And I’m not going to give up on her instincts now, alright?”

I nodded and felt warm tears leak out of my eyes.

“Do you really think that it’s just the job that I care about?” He asked me seriously like he was actually offended by my words. “After all this time?”

I didn’t know what to answer or how to answer. The reason why we could work so well together is because he didn’t get personal. I didn’t want him to say anything like that. I didn’t want him to ruin it.

With a noncommittal shrug, I told him, “I’m going to bed.”

It was a dick move. I knew it, he knew it. But we both just let it go.

I had to admit, Dolls was better than anyone at pretending like nothing happened. In the morning, he acted like he did the previous morning. Like nothing was bothering him and his only function was to solve cases. It was easier for me, too, because I didn’t have to deal with the repercussions of my words or actions.

Haught, on the other hand, couldn’t even look at me in the eyes when we entered the station. I wasn’t very surprised (it didn’t seem like Haught was used to the whole meaningless sex thing) but I was disappointed. Dolls was probably right. I probably did fuck up the whole work relationship there.

Right behind us, Waverly entered the building with a box of doughnuts in her hand. Champ immediately got up and approached his girlfriend, who looked less than excited to see him. He then took the box and returned to his desk. Waverly slowly approached me and I could tell based on the look on her face that there was something on her mind that she wanted to talk to be about.

“Wyn… can we um… talk?”

I gulped and felt the never-ending urge to run away (that feeling never really went away). Disappointing my sister really wasn’t on my list of things to do today, but I couldn’t help it.

“I really have to work,” I told her with a faux frown like I wanted to talk to her but couldn’t. “Maybe lat--”

“Curtis is sick,” Waverly stated suddenly, obviously seeing through my bullshit. At the probably horrified look on my face, she added, “They want to see you.”

I felt my whole demeanor revert back to the seventeen-year-old girl that I had left behind when I abandoned my family. The girl who was terrified of loving her family and losing them because of it.

“Are you sure?” I asked her with explosive amounts of uncertainty.

“Would you be willing to come home for dinner tonight?” She asked me as if that was an answer to my question.

I wanted to say no. More than anything, I wanted to pretend like I didn’t give any shit about any of them. I could if I wanted to. I could say the exact thing that would push her away forever and revel in not having to interact with my family ever again. But knowing it would break my sister in half kept me from doing so. I had already done enough damage to last multiple lifetimes.

“Fine,” I agreed to it reluctantly.

She smiled, looking pleasantly surprised. “Great! I’ll come back here and pick you up at 5:30, alright?”

I grunted in reply and then turned and walked away to meet up with the team in the conference room. My mind had been so caught up in my personal life that I lost the thread to the killer(s) in my head. Some people would call that healthy. I called it frustrating.

“We need to start asking around about these people,” Dolls mentioned as the three of us stared at the boards full of information we had learned over the previous days. “Haught’s informant might say these people are ghosts, but they can’t go unnoticed for this long. People are just too afraid to speak.”

“For good reason,” Jeremy pointed out as he literally pointed at the pictures of victims and the numerous sadistic marks of torture all over their bodies. “They’ve killed under the radar for almost a century. I’m terrified of them.”

“They’re not untouchable,” I argued a little too harshly, causing him to flinch. “We can’t be afraid of them and still be able to catch them. They want us to be afraid. That’s their whole fucking thing. That’s how they get off. If we go around and interview people, it’ll make it look like we aren’t afraid.”

Jeremy bit his lip and then asked, “What if we talk to a killer and piss him off?”

I smirked and told him, “That’s kinda the point, Chetri. These sick fucks need to feel the fear for themselves for once. If one of the students freak out enough, they might mouth off somewhere. Or go to the police and turn in the leader. Or they’ll make a mistake. If they’re scared, they won’t be hiding.”

Eventually, he nodded and asked, “Well who will we be interviewing first?”

Dolls answered, “Lowly criminals that have conviction records. Those already scared by cops and would do anything to not get arrested again.”

I nodded in agreement. While I didn’t think those were the kind of people to be a student or a teacher, they were the people who would be down to talk, even if they weren’t a part of the organization in of itself.

After getting the list of citizens with priors, we were so rudely interrupted by a phone call from our wonderful and considerate boss.

“You’re on speaker, Ma’am,” Dolls told her as he put his phone in the middle of the table and gave everyone the ‘ it’s Lucado so behave ’ look.

“Thank you, Agent. Now, can everyone bring me up to speed about where we are at? What progress have you all made?

Dolls took the lead, much like he normally did when talking to Lucado. He had worked with her for the longest and knew exactly what kind of things to say that would keep her off our backs.

“We have found out that this organization dates back to 1927 and that there have been three or more leaders with a multitude of students. Chetri is figuring out how many students there are for this current teacher. We believe the organization is called The Seven and is known to be anonymous and untraceable. We do not know the names of any members at this time.”

Lucado remained silent for a few seconds before saying, “ Do you consider this progress, Agent Dolls? I thought this case would be resolved quickly.”

Dolls’ mouth twitched before he countered, “Ma’am, there have been fifty-two victims over a span of ninety years without it raising suspicion anywhere. We don’t even have files passed 1973--”

“I didn’t ask for your excuses. Get this case solved soon or you’ll be off it. That’s all.”

She hung up, leaving us all looking at each other with the most severe annoyance. This wasn’t the first time that Lucado had said those words. She enjoyed criticizing us and believed in tough love minus the ‘love’ part.

“Well I don’t know about you guys,” I muttered sarcastically with a sigh. “But I miss her.”

Jeremy chuckled but Dolls glared at me. He wasn’t the kind of guy to speak badly about his boss, even if she was a witch. I didn’t understand his weird unwavering loyalty for the woman after everything that she had done to us.

“What do you mean he’s not going to prison?” I asked Lucado once she called us into her office and told us the news. “He killed--”

“He’s willing to give up the whole organization,” Lucado interrupted with a shrug as if it didn’t fucking matter. “He’s going to help us catch much more violent and dangerous offenders.”

I felt my blood boil and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Dolls put his hand on my arm gently, trying to stop me from doing something he thought I would regret. But I wouldn’t. Not after what Lucado had done.

“So, he’s going into fucking witness protection and she died for nothing?! How is that right? How are we supposed to do our jobs when bureaucracy gets in the way of genuine justice?”

Lucado stared at me like she didn’t believe I had the right to speak at all. Like after the year I spent working for her, I was still nothing. That prostitute that she found without a mind of my own.

“Because I said so, Agent Earp. Don’t forget the chain of command. I understand you’re angry about the death of your colleague, but that doesn’t excuse the way you are speaking to me. Or was she more than a colleague?”

My hands curled up into fists and Dolls gripped me harder before saying, “Thank you for the update, Ma’am. We’ll head out now.” He pushed me out of the room, which was probably harder than I’d give him credit for.

I couldn’t tell if he didn’t care as much as I did or… or maybe he had more self-control. Or hell, maybe he just knew that if given a chance, I’d lunge at Lucado and rip her throat out.

“Let’s start interviewing people. Jeremy, see if you can figure out the number of students while we’re gone. We’ll be back as soon as we can.”

“Aye aye, Captain,” Jeremy told him and saluted, causing me to snort. Ignoring the look Dolls gave him, he also added to both of us, “Stay safe out there.”

We nodded even though it was something we couldn’t promise. We had seen enough shit in the world to know that being careful wasn’t always possible, despite all or any efforts to.

Upon leaving the building, I felt Haught’s eyes trail after me which reminded me that I needed to talk to her about what had gone on between us. It was exactly the kind of conversation I would be dreading, but it didn’t seem like she was getting the message.

In our line of work, Dolls and I had done several interviews and interrogations of all types of people. But it was all different in Purgatory. Besides the normal lack of chatter from criminals not wanting to be snitches, the small rural town also meant racist shit heads and sexist or perverted freaks. But even all of that wasn’t necessarily unusual. Knowing almost everyone that you talked to because of a teenagehood doing illegal shit… now that was something I hadn’t really experienced before.

I got a lot of ‘ wait-- aren’t you Wynonna Earp? Didn’t I sell you pot?’ or ‘ what do you mean you’re a cop? Is this a joke?’ type responses. People were uncomfortable telling their old associate about anything. I wouldn’t admit it, but it somewhat hindered the investigating. But there was no way I’d let Dolls do it alone. The only plus about me being there was that people wouldn’t try to intimidate us or use the ‘shoot first ask questions later’ tactic.

After hours of talking and talking and not learning a damn thing, Dolls suggested we get back to Jeremy and find out if he’s gotten anywhere. I reluctantly agreed and hoped that I hadn’t fucked everything up just by being there.

“I think I know what the problem was,” Dolls stated on the way back to the station. When I thought he was going to say me, he surprised me by saying instead, “We talked to the guys who were caught. Maybe we should be talking to the people who haven’t been caught. If someone’s in the know, they have connections or are smart enough to figure it out. That doesn’t really fit with the people we were talking to.”

He was right. We probably were talking to the wrong people, wasting a whole ass day. I hoped to the devil that Jeremy had made more progress than us.

But one step back in the station, we were stopped by a beet red Nedley who reminded me of the man who arrested me all those times in my past.

“I just got word that two agents were going around interviewing citizens of my town without my permission. Are you two hiding something from me?”

Dolls might have normally been courteous around most people (an ability I wasn’t blessed with), but he did not like it when someone else attacked him for doing his job.

I backed away, letting him yell at the sheriff. “Nedley, I don’t know what teacher you had in the police academy, but I learned that interviewing people could help investigations. They are normal. We know just as much as you do.” It was a lie, but one that Nedley would never be able to spot. He would expect it from me, but not from a level headed guy like Dolls.

“I don’t appreciate it when things go on in my town without me knowing about it,” Nedley told him with smoke practically coming out of his ears. His words almost made me laugh. If only he knew what was going on in his town that he had no fucking clue about. “I’d appreciate it if one of my people went along with you for interviews. And worked with you at all times. I don’t trust you. And my ability to share resources and my patience is dwindling.”

“Fine,” I agreed without hesitation. “We’ll take Haught, if you don’t mind.” I didn’t want someone else working on the case, but the last thing we needed was to be shut out by the police. And if getting Haught on the team would help solve the case, I’d do it. Even if it became extremely awkward.

Nedley grunted and we all turned to look at the redhead with a surprised look on her face. She probably had no idea why I wanted her on this case, but I thought it was obvious. Nedley looked just as confused, and I took that as a win.

“Haught!” Nedley called over to her. Once she approached us, he told her, “You’re going to be the official liaison for this case, alright? You’ll report everything to me and help them solve this case. I need someone I can trust working with them.”

“Aww, Randy, you don’t trust me?” I asked him cockily, tilting my head to one side with a fake pout.

“Of course, Sir, whatever you need,” Haught told him, ignoring me on purpose. I could see the doubt in her eyes, though. She didn’t believe in her boss, at least, not in the way a subordinate should. Nedley thought she’d follow every order and yet I saw something different in her.

She followed me and Dolls to the conference room as Jeremy almost pounced us with apparently exciting news.

“I think I figured it out!” He exclaimed and threw photographs of the bodies of the victims as we sat down to follow whatever he was ready to tell us. Before he told us the news, however, he noticed the redhead and asked, “What is she doing here?”

“Nedley is forcing us to have a babysitter,” I informed him with a grim smile.

Jeremy wasn’t very surprised or disappointed. “Oh. Okay, coolio. Anyway, based on the pattern of force and trajectory, I think there are four students. Which would actually make a lot of sense if there were two other teachers besides the current one.”

I didn’t understand, but Haught beat me to the punch. “Why?”

He grinned as if he wanted that question to be asked. “Because altogether, that would be seven. Literally The Seven. One teacher, two past teachers, and four students. The Seven.”

It all kind of sounded like a conspiracy theory. I imagined him on YouTube with a channel discussing the members of the illuminati. But this was possible. There was no way to prove or disprove what he was saying at the time, but I had to take his word for it. He was usually right about these kinds of things.

“Chetri,” I told him slowly, forcing him to wonder what I was going to say. “You’re crazy. But my kind of crazy.”

He laughed and put his hand out for me to high five. I refused, but he wasn’t too bummed.

“Earp, can we talk outside?” Haught asked suddenly, causing me to jump.

I could tell it didn’t have to do with the case so I really didn’t want to. But if I had to work with her for a while, it didn’t seem like something I could just ignore forever. So I rolled my eyes and followed her outside of the station.

Her arms were crossed and I could already tell she was annoyed with me before she asked, “Why did you want me to work with you?”

“Because you proved yourself helpful,” I told her sans any emotion in the words. I wanted her to think it was purely professional. Which it mostly was. But to be fair, I also liked her more than I liked most people which had nothing to do with her cop skills.

“But we--” She lowered her voice and looked around before she whispered, “Slept together. Isn’t that pretty… against the rules?”

I rolled my eyes again. “We’re adults, Haught. We can do what we want in our free time. Besides, it was just sex, right? You’re interesting and we had fun, but we don’t have to do it again if you don’t want to. It won’t hurt my ego.”

She looked torn and uncertain. “You’d want to do it again? You didn’t just do it because you were intoxicated?”

I smirked at her and admitted, “Honey, I was barely buzzed. I knew exactly what I was doing. And like I said, it was fun. I’d do it again.”

Haught blushed but tried to hide it. “I’d um… do you want to come over to my place tonight?”

“Yeah,” I said with a shrug. My attention wasn’t really on her anyway when I noticed Waverly approach us.

I checked my watch and cursed how fast the day went by. And of course, my sister was punctual. Haught noticed her too. She stood up straighter and her mouth opened a little like she was staring at her with awe. I couldn’t blame her, my sister walked with grace and precision that seemed to carry the world around her. She was a natural beauty in every way.

“Nicole!” Waverly greeted with a smile. “I’m glad to see you! We should really get together without talking about any serial killers.”

“Yeah…” Haught told her, a little breathlessly. “Sure. Just let me know when.”

Waverly grinned at her before turning to me. “You ready to go, ‘Nonna?”

“No,” I confessed honestly before adding, “But that doesn’t really matter, now does it?”


Chapter Text

The car drive was more awkward than my first blow job. And that’s saying a lot. Waverly kept attempting small talk, asking about things like  where do I live and if I enjoy my job . Which, in retrospect, are probably very normal questions for normal people who did not abandon their family only to become homeless, a criminal, and eventually agent for the FBI. 

A part of me wanted to ask her about her life and how she went on without me. It wasn’t like I needed reassurance I made the right decision (it was my only choice, really) but I wanted to make sure she was okay. Happy, even. But I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to get attached. And I didn’t want to give her a false impression that I wanted to be attached. 

“They’re going to be so glad to see you,” Waverly told me with a forced smile. “It’s like you’re… well… coming home.” 

I swallowed, but the bile still threatened to rise. Home . It was a dirty word, a lie. Purgatory was never my home. I had so many awful memories that the idea of this place being the place I came home to made me wish it was Hell instead. At least in Hell, it's warm. 

“What’s wrong with Curtis?” I asked, changing the subject as quickly as I could. 

Waverly’s smile turned into a frown before she admitted, “it’s his liver, Wyn. The man rarely drinks and he’s given a death sentence. It isn’t fair.” 

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that life wasn’t fair even though the darkest part of my mind told me to. Life not being fair was sorta my mantra, but that was something a little sister didn’t need to hear from a sibling. 

“How long does he have?” 

“Six months at the most. Gus is trying to do more of the work around the house but Curtis is stubborn. I don’t know what she’ll do. She’s tough, but losing your soulmate… I can’t imagine the pain.” 

I shuddered. I didn’t believe in soulmates or even the idea of belonging to one person, but I had lost enough people to understand where my sister was coming from. And losing the one person you loved for years was a terrifying thought. 

“Is Champ your soulmate?” 

I could tell by the shift in her posture that the question made her feel uneasy. Apparently, she didn’t want to talk about her love life, which was a relief to me. 

“Champ wanted me. And I… I’m not saying he’s the one. But he’s a good guy. What about you? Are you seeing anyone?” 

I could have told her that everyone I saw more than once usually ended up dead, but I thought that was too dramatic of a statement said by a deadbeat sister.

“I don’t really have relationships, Waverly. And I’m glad Champ’s a good guy, but you are allowed to want more. You’re allowed to want someone too. Though I’m sure they don’t teach you that in this town.” 

Waverly snorted and replied, “It’s still pretty conservative. But it’s getting better. Josie and Lyra finally admitted that they were a couple last year.” 

“Thank jesus,” I muttered with an eye roll. “They’re now what? Seventy-five? We all knew anyway. There are plenty of people in the closet in this town.”

Waverly stared at me. “How do you know?”

“I fucked a lot of girls during my time here, sis. And had a lot of other interesting encounters. Believe me. Have you ever kissed a girl and liked it?”

My sister blushed and looked straight ahead as she drove. “Never been one too into experimenting. That was your thing if I remember correctly. And… we’re here.”

The Homestead was exactly how I remembered it. Still slightly unkempt but full of charm that made its untidiness seem historic. It was odd feeling the warmth of nostalgia and the coldness of bitterness. Leaving this house wasn’t something I regretted, but this house was full of regrets. 

“Earth to Wynonna,” My sister called out as she poked my arm. “It’s a little too late to bail. I’d have to drive you back and I won’t.” 

Fair enough . I opened the door and felt the small breeze against my face. The last time I was here it had been still. My family was asleep in my house and I had a bag on my shoulder and a motorcycle in reach. There weren’t any tears that day, but I knew they were somewhere deep down below. 

“Muffin!” Curtis called out as the older man opened the front door and walked as fast as he could down to me. He opened my arms and I reluctantly let him embrace me. He smelled the same; old spice and tree sap. 

The nickname left me off guard. I had expected cursed names and rotten looks. Not sweet gestures and cheerful greetings. When he pulled away, I noticed how old he had gotten. His body was thin, not the muscle-y one that chopped down trees and spun me around. His face was worn and skin almost yellow. He looked like a man without much life still in him. But his eyes still had the same spirit. 

“Goodness, darlin’. Do they feed you wherever you’re livin’? Do you eat a steak once in a while?” 

The concern in his voice reminded me of simpler times when her mom was still around and he asked about her in hushed voices. I was never completely honest. 

“When someone else is paying, Curtis,” I answered as I looked away and found Gus staring at us through the window. 

He laughed and coughed causing Waverly to approach him and ask if he’s okay. 

“I’m quite alright, chicky poo. I still have some life left in me. Just enough life to interrogate your sister about the adventure her life must have been for all these years.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t an adventure. Instead, I followed him into the house that reminded me so much of my mother and father that all I wanted to do was run away again. 

Gus was cooking in the kitchen, obviously avoiding my presence. We never had a solid relationship. She expected more out of me than I could ever be. 

“Gus is making her famous chicken pot pie,” Curtis informed me with the ole smile and twinkle in his eyes. Some things never changed. “I hope of course you didn’t follow in your sister’s footsteps and do the whole vegan thing.” 

Waverly rolled her eyes and I noticed the closeness between both of them. When we lost daddy, I ran away from parental figures when my sister ran to them. Curtis was always like a father to her and they seemed to have stayed that way. 

“I wouldn’t even know how to be vegan,” I told him with a forced smile. “I don’t feel the need to save the planet. What’s it done for me?” 

Too much . Fuck. Sometimes I cursed the words that came out of my mouth. I wished there was an off button. 

Curtis didn’t seem too fazed. “Come on, darlin. Sit down and stay a while. Your Aunt will serve you in two shakes.” 

I sat down on a chair that was specifically not designated to me when I was younger. The last thing I needed was more flashbacks. Just being here made me want to drink to forget. Especially when Curtis placed beer in front of me. 

I thought about drinking it, taking the edge off. But I knew deep down that if I had one I wouldn’t stop there. Because taking the edge off didn’t mean I forgot the memories and ghosts of this house. It didn’t make me happier or feel less pain. It just would make me want to drink more. 

“I’m sorry,” I apologized earnestly. “I don’t drink anymore.” 

Waverly flashed me the most surprised gape I had ever seen. She would have been less surprised if I told her I had ten children. Curtis was smiling happily when he took away the beer. And Gus harrumphed in the background as if she couldn’t believe it. I ignored her response. 

“We’ve got a lot to learn about you,” Curtis said without any bitterness. “How’ve you been all these years?” 

I shrugged. There was no easy answer.

“Things have been pretty good recently,” I told him as honestly as I could (it wasn’t technically a lie). “I like my job.” 

“You work in the FBI, right? How’d you get into that business?” 

“I... uh... helped with a case,” I answered vaguely, really not wanting to be honest about that question. “And I did a good job. So they wanted me to continue.” 

“It’s probably classified,” Gus interrupted as she started serving everyone with plates. “Ain’t that right, Wynonna? Nobody’s heard of Black Badge Division. I would have thought it was fake if the police weren’t working with you.” 

Nice . It wasn’t a surprise that she didn’t believe in me. It didn’t seem like that had changed much. 

Waverly looked down and Curtis almost glared at his wife. I couldn’t believe it had taken me this long to realize that Gus never wanted me here. That the invitation purely came from my brother and uncle. I couldn’t blame her, though. 

“You going to see your father while you’re here?” Gus asked me as I started digging into the food that brought me back a decade. 

I almost couldn’t swallow. My father’s body was buried on our land and the idea of going to see him made me want to throw up. Killers normally didn’t like being brought back to the bodies of the people that were killed. Except for serial killers. I couldn’t imagine why she thought I would ever be able to just stop by and say hello. Or maybe, the more correct reason was that she knew what I would feel when the words came out of her mouth. Maybe she knew she was hurting me. Maybe it was my punishment.

Suffocation was something I could easily remember about the house. And the town. And my life. So, when I ran out of the kitchen, I didn’t feel like ten years had passed. I was seventeen again. Alone, afraid, and in need of a puff of smoke. 

Trading habits for another was never a good idea. I had started smoking when I was thirteen, traded it for alcohol, traded that for pills, and eventually sex or harder drugs. Most of that (besides the sex) I had quit over the years. Could never really beat smoking, though.

When I heard the door open behind me, I could feel Waverly’s eyes all over me. Her disappointed, innocent eyes. God, it was that feeling that brought everything back. 


  I could hear Gus screaming from upstairs. She was in my bedroom. She caught me high once and decided to ransack my room. I exhaled the smoke. She probably wasn’t prepared to find all the little goodies I had stashed around the room. 

“You shouldn’t have done drugs. Gus and Curtis hate that stuff,” Waverly sighed as she sat down next to me. “Stephanie told me that girls that do drugs are asking to be raped.” 

“Stephanie’s an idiot, Waves. Her daddy fucks his secretary and her mom lives on diet juice. She’s really not the product of a smart home.” 

I felt her rage simmering off of her. And I couldn’t blame her. The poisonous words in my mouth tasted so sweet. 

“You’re mean now. You’ve changed.” 

She wasn’t wrong. I’d blame it on the drugs and alcohol (or when I mixed them both) but truthfully it was just me. I was the problem. 

“Maybe I should go,” I told her and leaned back further, letting the sun scorch my eyes. “Then you wouldn’t have to live with an embarrassment. It’d certainly make their lives easier. How does that sound, baby girl?” 

Waverly squirmed away from me and said, “Don’t joke about that. You stay, Wyn. You’re my sister. You belong here. I’m just saying that you’ve gotten mean. That’s all.” 

A bitter chuckle fell out of my mouth. “They’ll throw me out eventually. As they should. It lingers, you know. Festers. The memories. The dreams. They take over and bleed into everything else. I’ll never be able to be the sister that you want.” 

She remained silent for a few seconds before whispering, “I just want you.” 

The words drilled a hole into my heart. She was confident that I’d be her protector and save her and be the girl I was four years ago before I killed our father. She still had hope. Mine had died the second I took a life. 

“You know, I know it doesn’t seem like it, but they are trying. Curtis more than Gus, obviously. But… still. They’re trying.” 

Maybe . For their sake, I didn’t want them to waste their energy on it. Some things were better left broken. 

“They shouldn’t,” I muttered and shook my head. “I was a dick kid. I don’t deserve their forgiveness. Or yours.” 

Silence. After what seemed like minutes, I had wondered if she had left. I wondered if she realized that I was right. That I wasn’t worth her time. But then she asked the question I dreaded the most. 

“Why did you go?” 

There wasn’t one answer. Or at least, there wasn’t one good answer that would satisfy her. I felt guilty about that. I wanted to reassure her that it had nothing to do with her. That none of it was her fault. But the words were hard to form. And the truth that she didn't need to hear begged to be spoken to ease the pressure of it all. 

“I had to sort my shit out, Waverly. And not around you. I was explosive, dangerous. A ticking time bomb, really. Believe me, kid. I saved you.” 

Waverly shook her head as if I was wrong. “You were family, Wyn. We needed you. We could have helped you.” 

“They tried baby g-- they tried . Don’t you remember? All the rehab and institutions and foster homes? Nothing could fix me.” 

She shuddered next to me. Like I had told her something that she had tried to forget. Like I brought up something that I shouldn’t have. 

“They didn’t mean to do that to you. They didn’t know how to deal with your… your…” 

“My crazy?” I finished for her irritatedly as I got up, suddenly unable to sit any longer. “Don’t I fucking know it. I’m sorry, Waverly. That I don’t have better answers that you deserve. I shouldn’t have come back. Tell Curtis that I’m sorry.” 

Shivering, I walked away from the house that had broken me and I had left broken.

Haught seemed surprised that I had knocked on her door. That I showed up when I said I would show up. Normally, I wouldn't have. But without alcohol, I had to find a different solution to get lost into something else. Sex was always a euphoric option that helped take the edge off. And Haught was different. I wasn’t falling in love or catch any feelings, but I didn’t want to run away from her either. 

The small gasp she made when I pushed her into her apartment led to my own lips crashing onto hers. There was something so magically wonderful about making a girl moan into your mouth. Haught wasn’t one to race into the bedroom. She enjoyed the lead-up. She liked the delicate kisses and gentle touches. It made the experience better for her. I couldn’t blame her for that. After I practically ripped her shirt off, she surprised me by tugging at my pants. 

“Somebody’s eager today,” I murmured with a laugh as she sucked my neck. 

She snorted and asked as she pulled down my pants, “Am I going to do all the work tonight?” 

Answering her question, I threw my shirt and bra onto the floor and tossed my pants to the side. I didn’t give her time to look at me. I never let anyone look at me. I pulled her close and I could tell that she was torn about this. That there was desire, of course there was, but there was something else. 

“Are you going to regret this?” I asked her as her fingertips traced my hips. “Why do you want this?” 

“Believe it or not,” She responded in a whisper close to my ear. “There aren’t too many girls in this town who’d go down on another girl. And the one person I really want… she’s straight as an arrow.” 

“Bummer,” I told her honestly, unbothered. “So why don’t we have some fun in the meantime, yeah? What do you want?” 

Haught grinned and confessed, “I want your tongue inside of me.” 

Now that was something I could do. 

Breathless and sweaty, I arrived back at the motel around midnight. Jeremy was dead asleep but Dolls was still up working. He could work for days without sleep. He was a robot that way. I didn’t want to even consider if he was staying up to make sure that I got back alright. 

He looked up when I opened the door but then immediately returned to the papers he was staring at and asked, “Have fun?” 

“Lots,” I deadpanned and took my clothes off. “You still working?” 

Dolls looked up briefly until he realized I was getting naked. “Jesus christ, can’t you do that in the bathroom? And yes, Earp. I’m always working. I’m trying to figure out who to talk to tomorrow morning.” 

Xavier Dolls was too much of a gentleman to look at my body even though I gave him plenty of opportunities to. It confused me. But I was stunned at his self-control. Jealous of it, maybe. He was a better person than I could ever be. 

“I was thinking about that, too,” I announced as I turned the fan on in the bathroom, preparing for a shower. 

“When did you have time to do that? During your dinner with your family or your…” 

“Hookup?” I finished for him with a smirk. He glared at me and I sighed. “Between, if you must know. Usually, I don’t think about work when someone is knuckle deep inside of me. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you d--” 

“Go shower Earp,” Dolls grunted in interruption. “I’m going to bed. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow.” 

I pouted and headed for the shower. 

Haught was sitting at her desk looking at files when I approached her sneakily and sat down on the corner of her desk. Her eyes slowly moved from the files to my eyes and I grinned at her while she glared. 

“Yes, Earp?” 

“Always so pleasant,” I told her with a raised eyebrow. I found it amusing that Haught was no-play during work. 

She narrowed her eyes and asked, “What do you want, Earp?” 

“We’re going to do some interviews today. And Nedley is forcing us to take one of you with us, remember? So, do you want to join us?” 

I knew that Haught wouldn’t say no. She was invested in this case and I could even see a glimmer of excitement in her eyes. It made me wonder why the fuck she was working in such a small town that was as boring as you could get in law enforcement. 

As she got up and grabbed her things, she asked, “Who are we interviewing?” 

“It’s a surprise.” 

“No. No, no, no. This is a bad idea,” Haught repeated over and over again as we pulled into the trailer park. “All of these people are basically owned by Bobo Del Rey. They won’t be talking to us.” 

A small chuckle fell from my lips and I said, “I know. That’s why we’re talking to Bobo Del Rey.” 

Haught stared at me like I was crazy and muttered, “You can’t be serious. Oh my god, you’re serious about this.” At my shrug, she turned to Dolls and told him, “You don’t know this town, Dolls. Bobo Del Rey is not a guy who will answer our questions. He hates the cops. He owns part of this town and its illegal activity. Yet no one will touch him.” 

Dolls didn’t seem too surprised. He trusted that I knew who to talk to. If there was anything that I knew how to do it was finding the criminals who knew all the answers. 

“Exactly,” I agreed with a tight smile. “If anything is going on in this town, he’ll know about it.” 

She sighed and shook her head. “He won’t talk to us. Don’t blame me when this goes terribly wrong.” 

“Don’t be such a Debbie Downer,” I told her as we pulled up to Bobo’s trailer. “If this goes wrong it’ll all be my fault. But also, what if it doesn’t go wrong?” 

The three of us got out of the vehicle and I took the lead. Haught was unfortunately in uniform, but I had hoped that Del Rey would just pay attention to me. I knocked on his door and wondered how many people were watching us from their windows. 

He opened the door and I almost immediately laughed. Bobo was always extra and full of character, but I wasn’t exactly expecting this. He was wearing something in between a trench coat and a snuggie and his hair and facial hair were different shades of black and white. It looked as if he was trying to look like an evil character. Knowing Bobo it made me almost burst with laughter. 

Bobo’s mouth formed into a smile as he looked at me from top to bottom. He leaned on the doorframe and crossed his arms so I could see his long, black fingernails. That was more of the Bobo that I used to know. 

“Well, well, well,” He began with an intrigued grin. “You’re very familiar, aren’t you? I knew your sister.” 

Willa . She and Bobo were friends when they were younger. Or something more than that. Or nothing at all. With her, I never knew. 

“You also sold me drugs,” I pointed out and nodded. “But I think you knew Willa much better.” 

He nodded as if soaking in that name. “Willa Earp. Which must make you Wynonna Earp. I heard you were back in town. It’s a pleasure, it really is. So, you’re a cop now?” 

I shrugged. “Kinda.” 

“Hmm… interesting. I always thought you’d end up like me. You always had the talent, you know. But I never thought you’d return to this town. It royally fucked you up. Can’t blame you for running, really.” 

That was something that I didn’t want to talk about. So, I changed the subject. 

“What do you know about The Seven?” 

His whole demeanor shifted. His eyes suddenly left mine and he looked around at Dolls and Haught and other trailers around his park. 

“I don’t know why you’re askin’ me, Wynonna Earp. I don’t know anything about that. I’d like to help you--” 

“I know that they must scare you, Bobo. You own this town. And yet there’s this organization killing people behind your back. In your town. Killing your girls. That must be terrifying.” 

I knew that would rile him up. He flared his nostrils and growled softly. He pushed me into the other side of his doorway thinking it would intimidate me. Instead, it caused Haught and Dolls to touch their guns and me to smirk. I always liked it a little rough.

“I’m not scared of them. They just have ears everywhere, you understand? These people aren’t your everyday drug dealers and petty criminals. They’re the doctors and lawyers and friends with the mayor. They have connections. You will never be able to bring them down.” 

How could he know those were exactly the kind of words that would make me work even harder? I laughed and pushed him away from me. 

Watch me.” 

Chapter Text

There was a weird vibe in the car on the way back to the station. I couldn’t really blame the others; finding out I had connections to Bobo Del Rey probably wasn’t something they would have expected. Or maybe it was the exact thing they expected. Dolls was used to my knowledge of the crime world, but other than my first case, he hadn’t met anyone who knew me. Not that Bobo and I were friends or close in any way whatsoever. 

“Some people do ballet or draw as a kid,” I explained once the silence got to me. “I did drugs. I don’t anymore. So everything’s okay, alright? Besides, he gave us some good info, right?”

Dolls grumbled and replied, “He told us things we could have guessed. Like the connections The Seven has. I don’t really know anything about the criminal. But he did seem genuinely terrified.” 

“If he’s terrified, then we’re screwed,” Haught muttered in frustration. “I mean, I can’t imagine tougher people in this town than Bobo Del Rey. And if he’s afraid to talk…” 

“You’re forgetting one thing, Haught-stuff,” I reminded her with a grin that almost made her flush. “The only thing that beats fear of something is a fucking bigger fear of something. We just need to be a shit ton scarier than a pack of serial killers.” 

Dolls and Haught shared an exasperated sigh and I frowned. How come I had to be the positive one? 

“One step at a time, Earp,” Dolls mentioned carefully as Haught pulled into the station. 

I rolled my eyes. One step at a time my ass . We trailed into the station only to find Jeremy and Waverly chatting in adorable banter that I could have only dreamed about. She turned around to look at me and I couldn’t tell if she was mad about me abandoning her… again.

“Waverly what are you…” 

“Your sister’s a freaking genius, Wynonna! Why didn’t you tell me about how cool she is? She might have just solved this case!” Jeremy was practically jumping up and down and I wondered how many cups of coffee he had. 

Waverly shrugged humbly and confessed, “I am not sure I solved the case, but I found something that might be able to help.” 

She pointed to an old document on the conference table. The group and I huddled around it, trying to see what this special sheet of paper said. And of course, it was too small for any of us to read. 

“Oh, um, sorry guys. I should have said that I know what it says. It’s a speech that a mayor gives in 1961. And in it, he mentions ‘The Three.’ He thanks them for being there for him and for the donations. And get this, the man was a Gardner .”

A shiver went down my spine. The Gardner’s were a prominent family in Purgatory, but the family was also known for being a group of rich weirdos. Except for maybe Mercedes. 

Noticing Dolls’ confusion, I explained, “The Gardner’s are fucking oddballs. All of em. This guy must know something. And knowing how long their giant ass mansion has been around…” 

“Mercedes Gardner was your best friend,” Waverly mentioned casually and with a small smile. “She’d be happy to help us out.” 

I groaned, “No… I don’t think so. No goodbyes when I left, remember? Besides, I wasn’t a good friend. But she’s at least sane. So, maybe she’ll help out. I hope.” 

“Can I come with?” Jeremy asked with hope in his voice. I raised an eyebrow in confusion and he admitted, “I want to meet a childhood friend of yours.” 

“I’m coming with, too,” Waverly stated confidently. 

I shook my head. “No way.” 

“I am a part of this!” She argued passionately, her face becoming red and forceful. She must have noticed my scowl because her eyes darkened and she said, “I’ve helped you more times than I can count. You can’t solve this case without me. You might not want me as a sister but I’m here as your colleague or partner. Nothing more.” 

The words chilled me to the core. I couldn’t believe that she thought I didn’t want her as a sister. I mean, theoretically, I understood why. I was shitty and mean. But she couldn’t even fathom how much I wanted to be her sister and but couldn’t. That’s what killed me. 

“Fine,” I gave in frustratedly and ignored the sullen looks around me. “Fine. Everyone come with. It’ll be a fucking party.”

The home was grandeur, but uninviting. I felt a chill once the large group of us made it to the entrance of such a magnificent mansion. I had actually only visited a couple of times. Mercedes and I weren’t ones to stay over at each other’s houses. Instead, we’d meet up in bars from towns over or alleyways and under bridges. We’d fuck in unclean places for the thrill of it. Knowing some psycho could stab us on the street or we could pick up some strange disease. Maybe that was what it was more about. The danger of it all; knocking on death’s door and all of that.

She opened the door and I felt my spiritual balls drop. Mercedes Gardner was a lot of things for me when I was younger. We didn’t have a normal teenage friendship. It was made out of spite and hate more than anything. But we were two lonely kids in a lonely town that hated us. We were bound to turn to each other for some cold comfort. 

Ten years later and she almost looked the same. She still wore tacky rich kid clothes and had too much makeup on, but she was unbelievably gorgeous. I could imagine my own fingers wrapped around her red waves in her hair and I had to stop myself before the images became too graphic. I came to work, not play. 

“Wynonna fucking Earp,” She muttered as she leaned on the doorframe with an unimpressed smirk on her face. “What a goddamn surprise. I don’t really know what’s more surprising, you coming to this town or you coming here thinking I wouldn’t just shut the door in your face.” 

A light chuckle fell from my lips. “Sorry, Mer. I’m not here for pleasure. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but I’m with the FBI. And well, I think we need your help.” 

“Ha!” Mercedes shouted and looked all around me. “You and your little entourage want my help? Are you recruiting me, scooby doo?” 

I glared at her. “No, evil witch. I’m not here for you or because of you, Mercedes. You were always the good one of the family. A white sheep, if you will. Which is ironic considering all the shit we used to get up into. Anyway, we think your grandfather was a part of something that has to do with this case. And knowing your crazy ass family, I’m thinking you all have a crazy ass attic with all the crazy ass stuff from the past. Am I right?” 

Mercedes looked torn. She didn’t want to help me but she also had a conscience, she was no monster. She hated the serial killer as much as a normal person. 

“Fucking hell, fine. Come on in.”

We entered her house and I remembered enough of the house to know that Mercedes hadn’t changed much of the house. It startled me. I could recall how much she complained about her family’s idea of stylish decor.  

“So,” Mercedes began as she turned to look at Dolls. “How did Wynonna manipulate her way into the FBI?” 

I rolled my eyes and cursed the fucked up way that our relationship ended. She still hated me for it. I couldn’t blame her, exactly, and knowing how dramatic she was, she wasn’t just going to let it go. 

“I thought you and Wynonna were friends?” Jeremy asked my old ‘friend’ with confusion. 

Mercedes snorted and replied, “I think that Wynonna would be the first one to tell you that we weren’t exactly friends. She wasn’t a big fan of having emotional connections, isn’t that right, Wynonna?”

“Don’t you dare lie to me, Wynonna,” Mercedes yelled and threw the jacket back at my head. “You’re a lot of things, but you aren’t a liar. I know you, remember? I fucking know you. So don’t pretend like I don’t know what I’m talking about.” 

I flinched away from her anger and tried to hold onto a calm response. Getting mad wouldn’t help anything. I was leaving and she knew it. 

“I’m sorry--” 

“You’re sorry ? That’s it? That’s your response? After all of these years, that’s all you have for me? Do you even care?” 

I cared more than I would ever admit. The problem was that I cared too much. 

“We aren’t even really friends,” I told her as I looked a million miles away from her. I was afraid that if my eyes met hers everything would crash down. “I’ll see you around, Gardner.” 

My last words were a lie. I’d never see her again. I could hear her cry as I walked out of her room and her house. I brought the jacket she loved of mine and she had known exactly why I was giving her such a prized possession. She knew that it was a goodbye.


“You knew me better than anyone else, Gardner. So you’re probably right. Jeremy, you know what kind of person I am. Do you really think I would have been better as a teen?”

Jeremy shrugged sadly and I realized he was hoping for something different. He wanted to find some humanity; he wanted to be reassured that there were parts of me that were good and pure, untainted by years of criminal activity. He wasn’t going to find that here. 

“The attic’s up there,” Mercedes said as she pointed to a staircase in the back of her house on the top floor. “You’re happy to look through whatever you want. Beth organized the damn thing by relative. She did that for fun.” 

Mercedes wasn’t wrong. The room was unnaturally organized. I was expecting something that would be on the hoarders show or from a paranormal documentary. 

“Found him!” Waverly shouted as we looked through the piles. “Walter Gardner. There’s not much here but a… bingo!” She held up an old journal with an excited smile on her face. At least someone was having fun. 

“What’s in it, Earp?” Dolls asked as he approached her carefully. 

She skimmed through the pages with a quizzical brow raised. “I think it’s in code. Oh yeah, for sure. I don’t really recognize the code, though. But it probably isn’t too hard. I’m guessing they never thought someone would find their dear old diary, huh?” 

I swallowed a smile. 

“Ooh, can I help?” Jeremy begged with joy in his eyes. When Waverly told him that she’d be happy to have the help he squealed and sat next to her, basically shaking with joy. 

“You would think they were talking about eating a cake,” I muttered under my breath, only earning a snort from Haught. 

Dolls, Haught, and I watched as the two nerds chatted about the possibility of the codes and started to break them. There really wasn’t much for us to do besides watch. 

“We got it!” Waverly shouted as she and Jeremy turned around with happiness in their eyes. “It really isn’t that complicated when you think about it!” 

I didn’t believe that one. 

“Do you know what the overall gist is?” I asked them with hope. 

They nodded rapidly and Jeremy said, “This guy thought he could say anything with the code. He’s not a teacher and it doesn’t seem like he becomes a teacher. He doesn’t name the teacher, but he does name his fellow student that becomes the teacher.” 

“I recognized his name immediately,” Waverly added with certainty. “Jack Knives. He was a famous doctor and surgeon in Purgatory. He was known for his… experimental work. And, to top it off, he had a feud with Edwin Earp. I mean, that’s not in there, but I know about it. Edwin spent years trying to arrest Jack. Do you think he knew about them?” 

I shrugged. I didn’t know anything about any ancestors. 

“Do you have any research on Jack or Edwin?” Dolls questioned my sister and I could see the wheels turning in his brain. 

“Uh, of course!” Waverly told him with a grin. “It’s all back at the Homestead, of course. I try to keep personal research separate from the job. Should we all go?” 

Dolls turned to look at me. I could tell there was a sliver of sympathy in his eyes like he felt sorry that we had to return to the place I grew up in. But he couldn’t have too much sympathy since he ordered that we all go to the Homestead. I wanted to shout with disagreement, but I couldn’t. The case was more important than my problems. Fuck responsibility.


The only good thing about going to the Homestead was leaving the Gardner mansion. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing my aunt and uncle again, but at least I wasn’t in the house with an ex-something that hated me. 

Fuck. Gus hated me too. 

Pissing people off was fun and all, but the repercussions weren’t really worth it. Leaving people behind was easier when I didn’t imagine having to ever talk to them again. 

“Wynonna?” Gus asked as she found us all on her doorstep. “What the hell is going on here? Waverly, what is this?”  

“We’re working on the case,” Waverly explained and patted both my shoulder and Jeremy’s. “And it’s led us to my research, can you believe it?” 

Gus couldn’t keep her eyes from traveling to mine or someone else’s. She was absolutely stunned and didn’t budge. 

“Darlin’, whatcha doing letting all those flies inside? Who’s there?” Curtis called from inside the house. 

“Yo, uh, Gus. Can we come inside?” I asked her a little impatiently. I didn’t want to be here for a second longer. 

She stepped aside and let us all enter. Jeremy and Nicole looked around the place with curiosity and intrigue. Dolls entered and kept his eyes on me. I could tell that he felt like he was intruding. Which was odd, since he was the one person out of the group that I could actually see myself introducing my family to. He might not be a friend, but he was my partner. I wondered if he thought about himself in the same way. 

“Muffin!” Curtis greeted with a surprised smile. “You brought your friends with you?” 

“We’re here for the case, Curtis,” I told him without any resemblance of a smile. I pointed to the people and told him, “That’s my boss and partner Xavier Dolls, our resident genius Jeremy Chetri, and you probably know Officer Haught by now.”

Curtis shook hands with the three of them and smiled politely. “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you. I think we have met before, Officer Haught. You work with Waverly’s boyfriend, right?” 

Haught frowned for a split second before nodding and explained, “Champ’s a colleague of mine. Wynonna recruited me for this… task force.” 

He raised his eyebrows and turned to me like he was surprised. “You must be pretty special then, eh, Wynnie?” 

I glared at him and said, “We have to get to work. You don’t mind if we look through the attic, do you?” 

“Of course not,” Curtis replied with a shrug. “Should I get you all drinks? I made some raspberry tea a few hours ago.” 

It was typical Curtis. I could see that he was itching to spend more time with me and what he thought were my friends. He looked so hopeful, I didn’t want to break his heart. But the idea of having small talk with him and my colleagues was terrifying. 

“I’ll come over when I’m not so busy,” I promised him with a fake smile. “Tomorrow probably.” 

I didn’t give him time to reply. I went upstairs and headed for the attic, ignoring everything behind me. I knew where it was, but I never went into it when I was younger. All it did was bring up memories of the past. I knew Waverly went up there all the time to look at things from the past. 

The room was tight and full of crap. I recognized some of it: the lights and decorations we would put up during the holidays, old Halloween costumes, and some of daddy’s clothes. I turned to look at Waverly, wondering where all her historical stuff was. 

“We’re going to have to do a little digging,” Waverly mentioned with a little laugh. “I don’t exactly remember where I put all my research. I do label the boxes, though. So we just need to find the boxes.” 

I groaned. The last thing I wanted to do was literally dig through the past of my family. Who knew what monsters we could dig up. But they already started to sort through crap and I didn’t have time to stop them. 

I specifically positioned myself next to Dolls. He would be the last person to bother me about my past if he found something incriminating or noticed that something was tearing me apart. I didn’t know exactly what I would find. Boxes of the stuff I left behind or maybe even things mama left. 

“Do you guys have any stuff in here?” Jeremy asked curiously. “I’ve only seen stuff that looks decades old.” 

“Just like the photographs,” Haught added with almost sadness. “I haven’t seen a photo of you guys when you were younger.” 

I snorted and told her, “Daddy didn’t care about that kind of thing. He’d call it sentimental shit. Mama tried to take pictures but I’m sure they’re gone by now.”

The smell of smoke entered my nose and at once I almost jumped up to see what was burning. Willa grabbed my arm forcefully and shook her head. 

“Don’t, Wy,” She commanded seriously and pushed me back onto the hammock where the two of us had been laying on. “Daddy won’t like it. He already blames her. We can’t give him a reason to punish her.” 

Willa was referring to Waverly and I felt the rage boil under my skin. How could it be her fault? Waverly was four and probably the most well-behaved child that ever lived. I couldn’t imagine how she could be the reason for mama leaving. 

“He’s burning them, isn’t he?” 

She nodded and I felt the anger spring water into my eyes. Mama loved taking pictures of us when we were little. She’d make these funny faces so that we’d grin at the camera. She wasn’t in many pictures with us, but I knew that was what he was burning. 

“Why didn’t she take us with her?” I asked my older sister who pulled me in closer and let me cry on her shoulder. 

“Because it would have given him a reason to go after her,” Willa answered honestly, sending shivers down my spine. “Doesn’t it sound nice, baby girl? Being free and away from this town?” 

I thought about being on a bus far away from here and shook my head. “I don’t want to be far away from you, Willa. Or Waverly. I don’t want to be alone.” 

Willa looked far away, empty. I tried to ignore what that could mean and just held her closer. 

“Earp!” Dolls called out and both Waverly and I turned to look at him. He pushed a few boxes into the middle and said, “The younger Earp. I think I found the boxes.” 

We circled around the boxes as Waverly dug in to find what she could on Edwin and Jack. She had newspapers and records and diaries and I couldn’t imagine how she was able to find all of this stuff. It made me wonder if my sister had strange connections. 

“Edwin Earp was a cop, just like daddy,” Waverly explained to the group. “He was known for going after everybody , not just the poor outlaws. People either loved or hated him. He would write lists of people that he thought was connected to crime and holy shit balls this might be the list we’re looking for!” 

She slammed down a page from a diary. We all huddled around it, trying to read the damn thing. Even though the writing was hard to read, I recognized a few names. Jack Knives, Walter Gardner and other famous people of the town. 

“We need to go over every person on this list,” Dolls stated firmly. “Younger Earp, do you have records on these people?” 

“Some of them,” Waverly told him as she read over the list again. “But these people were seen as pioneers in their fields. The town adored them. There won’t be anything negatively written about them.” 

“We should figure out if any of these people are alive,” Haught suggested with a shrug. “If they’re extremely old, they won’t be a part of the group any longer and might be more willing to talk.” 

No one else disagreed with that. We carried the few boxes out of the attic and on the way, I accidentally kicked a box and it opened. The gun flew across the room and I felt my stomach drop. Years ago I hid Peacemaker in a well. Someone must have found it and stuffed it in here. 

I remembered the way it felt in my smaller hands. Cold and heavy. The trigger wasn’t hard to push, just like daddy himself. He always had a short fuse. I gulped and stared at it, hoping to not have a flashback that sent me to my knees. 

Dolls picked up the gun and gently placed it back in the box without me having to ask him. I wondered if he knew why the gun scared me. He couldn't. It wasn't possible. 

We headed back down where Gus and Curtis were sitting down in the living room as if they were waiting for us to finish. I grimaced. Curtis gave Gus this look and I was sure that he was trying to get her to apologize to me or something. He wanted us to be a family again but she was still understandably angry. Saving her from having to say anything, I left the house without as much as a goodbye. 

There was work to do. 

One by one, we found all the information we could about each person on the list. Each one of us had a person to research and after an ungodly number of hours, in our stacks of research, we hadn’t found one incriminating piece of evidence for any of them. We realized that not everyone on the list could have been in the actual organization. We guessed that these were just some of the people that Edwin suspected of either being a part of it or was covering it up. We did, however, find out that one of the people on the list was still alive. 

August Hamilton. At the time when Edwin wrote his list, August was the youngest, but he didn’t exactly fit in with the others. Everyone else was of a higher status in the town. The only thing we could find out about August was that he was a cattle rancher and still owns a farm that he has never moved away from. We couldn’t understand how he found himself on Edwin’s list, but he was worth having a conversation with. We would have gone when we were done, but it was nearing 9:00, no one had eaten, and everyone agreed that an old man like him would probably not be awake or wouldn't be happy about us intruding so late. 

All of us decided to head out, but near the exit, Champ stepped in front of Waverly angrily. 

“Babe, can I talk to you?” He asked her and grabbed her arm possessively. I resisted attacking him on the spot. 

Waverly looked even less happy than I felt. “Oh, um, I was just going to head home. Maybe we can hang out tomorrow--” 

“You never have time for me anymore!” He whined like a child and stomped his foot. “All I do is love and love and love you and you just don’t care anymore! You’re like a stone, Waverly! Don’t you love me?” 

I could see the handprint his hand had left red on her arm and that was the final straw. I pushed back Jeremy, ready to smack him in the face, when Haught had beaten me to the punch. She shoved him away from her. 

“Stay away from her, Hardy. She’s a grown woman. She doesn’t have to cater to all of your needs.” 

Champ growled and ran out the station, leaving Waverly to stare at the redhead with awe and I felt my face fall. That was the way she used to look at me when we were younger and she thought that I was a hero. 

“Thank you, Nicole,” Waverly said and pushed some of her hair back behind her ear. “I feel like I totally owe you. Can I take you out to dinner?” 

Haught nodded, a little shocked. My sister and the whatever-she-was-to-me walked out of the station without a care in the world. I swallowed and tried to not feel anything about it. I tried to not wish that I was in Haught’s place listening to my sister thank me up and down. 

“Wynonna--” Jeremy began and tried to touch my shoulder as I flinched away and walked out of the station with half a mind of leaving the town for good. 

But I didn’t. My legs took me somewhere my brain wasn’t expecting. Shorty’s was the closest thing to being my home in this town and my body must have known that. 

Doc Holliday grinned when I sat down at his bar and asked for whiskey, neat. He said something about it being the devil’s drink and I told him something about being acquainted with the fallen angel for as long as I could remember.


Chapter Text

“You’d be a prettier girl if you didn’t drink,” he whispered in my ear before licking it, which was, in his perverse way, an act of proving that he owned me. “Your body’s breaking down. And he’s getting on my ass about it.”

He was talking about my pimp. I didn't want to think about him.

Garrett gives all the good girls away eventually, but I was special. He still kept me around; he checked up on me. Gave me a little extra for my time. A little money, drugs, a night on the town. He made me feel alive again. 

“I still have loyal customers, don’t I?”

His hands trailed up my thigh and I didn’t want to be sober for this. The first time, it’s good. Hell, even the tenth time feels good. But over and over again, he learns the spots that make you beg for more but also the spots that make you want to cower away. He was good at that, finding what made you vulnerable. 

“Anyone would be a fool not to want you, sweetheart. But you aren’t getting any younger. And you know what’s happening to girls who meet that age…”

They disappear. I swallowed what he was alluding to and pretended hard that I hadn’t heard. The house I was living in always had girls coming in and out. Some of them had been there even before me, some only last a week. It’s normal and yet not. I can learn the girls' names and think of them dearly and when they’re gone I forget. No one asks questions, no one wants to know the truth.

“I can be more,” I told him honestly and thought back to the times he’d take me on his outings. The times we’d steal or sell or make thousands of dollars a night. “I can help you.” 

He laughed maliciously and bit into my neck, drawing blood. “Honey, you’re just a whore I found living on the street.”

The words tore me up and chewed me back out. Before I gave him the chance to say no, I picked up the syringe to shoot up. At least for a few hours, I could fly.

Guys like Doc Holliday wanted one thing: control. Bartenders could sniff out recovering alcoholics and knew exactly how to get under the skin. Not all bartenders are douches and would push a relapse for money, but Doc certainly was. 

The bar was spinning but my head was on straight. I knew he enjoyed the mess I was making. And I knew what result he was hoping for. 

“Closing time is in a few, darlin’,” He reminded me as he poured another drink that I downed faster than the time it was on the table. “I live in the apartment above and could be in need of some… company. If you’re interested.” 

Maybe I would be. But he reminded me of all the shitty guys that made me into a lowlife and I wanted nothing more than to shove his offer in his face. And I thought about Haught and how simple things were with her. She was curious about me, that was obvious, but she didn’t invade my privacy. She was smart and careful. I may have not been the girl she wanted, but being with me was better than being alone. Haught was safe and… there wasn’t too much safety in my life. 

“Maybe some other time,” I said slowly and placed dollar bills on the table, not sure if they were the right ones. “I’ll see you, Holliday.” 

I got up and the room spun around, but I kept walking. There was no way that I could go back to the motel like this, but I knew I had to work off the alcohol. Sex always did the trick. 

Haught opened the door in her pajamas like the last thing she expected was my company. Sober me would have left, but her “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” shirt reminded me of someone else. Her. And drunk me couldn’t tell the difference between them.


I interrupted her with a kiss, pulling her body close up to mine. She didn’t taste like her, but I could keep on imagining. Sober me would have hurt at the memories. Drunk me wanted to relive them. 

I kicked the door with my foot, slamming it shut. Pushing her body to the wall, my fingers tangled in her hair that was no longer red to me. All I saw was blonde.

A flutter of laughter spilled from her lips as I continued to explore her skin; there was always something new to find. She had tattoos all over her back and abdomen, easily covered up by a shirt so her bosses would never see. The tattoos had meaning, told stories. When I first met her I thought she was straight-laced and constantly professional. Learning her secrets was like diving into her soul. It was extraordinary. 

I kissed the tattoo of an ocean wave and listened to her calming voice as she explained her trips to the sea when she was a kid and felt fearless. 

“You would have liked me then, Wolf,” She joked and rolled over so that she was facing me. “I was a lot less of a rule follower.” 

She traced her fingers along my side, from breast to ass, causing shivers to run down my spine. 

“Dolls would be disappointed.” 

She snorted and rolled off the bed, her blonde hair matted slightly, proof to the amazing night that we had. 

“Indeed, mood killer.” 

I felt a smile from my lips as she danced her way to the shower. Her body looked so delicate, but she had muscle and strength covering those bones. Her skin was thick and oh so kissable. I couldn’t resist. I got up and followed her to the shower. 

She grinned and pulled me close, letting the showerhead spray on both of us at once. I wondered if this was what it was like to feel bliss.

Haught pushed me away, suddenly and forcefully. I wiped my lips and stared, wondering what the hell could have been wrong. 

“Earp, you’re drunk,” Haught said carefully, though in my head her words came in and out and I felt like collapsing. 

“I’m fine,” I lied and tried to reach for her as she backed away, causing me to stumble. 

“You’re not. You’re drunk and you’re a recovering alcoholic. And you had a bad day. We shouldn’t be doing this.” 

I looked at her carefully and asked, “Is this because of the girl you actually like?”

She didn’t deny it outright. “Partially. But it’s mostly because you’re not okay. And Earp, you said… you said someone else’s name.”

Did I?

“Who’s E—”

“Don’t!” I shouted angrily, causing her to flinch back nervously. I gulped, sobering up slightly. “Don’t ever say that name, Haught. I’ll go. Just don’t ever say that name again.” 

Her face fell and it was soon filled with worry. She felt guilty. “Don’t go. I can take care of you—”

“No,” I interrupted with the shake of my head. I didn’t want her pity. And I certainly didn’t want her to take care of me. “I should go. Bye, Haught.” 

I didn’t let her get in another word before I left. 

Part of me wanted to go back to Doc, to get some of this frustration and emotion out of me so that I didn’t feel like I was exploding. But it would be too much. Everything felt like too much. I could hear her voice in my head and feel her hands on my body. And sex would only make it worse. I just wanted out. I wanted to escape. I wanted to forget. 

I didn’t know where to go. I considered buying more alcohol so at the very least I could pass out, but that wouldn’t help me tomorrow. I considered getting on the next bus out of town but I couldn’t. Not when there were killers on the prowl. There was no else to turn to, nowhere to run and hide. I had to face the music, as they say, and go back to the motel. 

Dolls was waiting up for me, and honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed any differently. He noticed right away that I was drunk, and it could have been a million things that tipped him off. My smell, my instability, or even the look in my eyes. I was drunk and something was very wrong. 

I expected outrage, even if Jeremy was asleep in bed. I expected him to scream and yell and tell me that I shouldn’t have my job, that I was irresponsible and stupid. I expected punishment and felt like I deserved it. 

He got up from the small table in the corner and approached me slowly as he asked, “What happened?” 

His tone was cold and harsh, but not loud and angry like I had expected. I wanted loud and angry. I wanted to be yelled at. 

“I took the edge off.”

“You did a little more than that,” he huffed and folded his arms stiffly. “I mean, look at you, Earp? You’re practically shaking.” 

I rolled my eyes and muttered, “I was shaking before I had a drink.” 

Dolls tilted his head as if he didn’t understand, which was utterly frustrating. I didn’t know what I wanted him to know. What was worse, him thinking I was irresponsible or him realizing I’m falling apart and the drinks were only to fade the pain? 

“Maybe you should try the medication that Dr. Ly—“

“He was a quack!” I argued and shook my head profusely. “He couldn’t make up his mind! In his perspective, I’m either a paranoid schizophrenic or suffer from a bipolar disorder. Which, news flash, are nothing alike!” 

My burst of a rant sent me a little over the edge. I raced to the toilet and threw up whatever was inside my body. I hated it. I hated all of this. 

I jumped at the feeling of Dolls’ hand on my back and I slowly relaxed. He, Agent Xavier Dolls, was trying to help me feel better. I almost couldn’t believe it was happening. 

“I didn’t mean to upset you, Earp. I know you aren’t crazy. Believe it or not, Lucado doesn’t think you’re crazy either. She just sends you to the therapist to piss you off. I was talking about the anti-depressants.”

I wiped my mouth and turned to look at him. He was truly, honestly concerned. And it baffled me. I was his partner, sure. But I was his reluctant partner. He wanted me gone from the second I joined BBD. He barely even tolerated me now.

“I’m not… I’m not depressed.” 

He pushed my hair behind my ear and said quietly, “It’s okay if you are. You’re my partner, Wynonna. All I want is for you to be okay.” 

I felt the tears rush to my eyes. My first instinct was to push him away and make some excuse while being rude. But he seemed genuine and I really really didn’t want to hurt him. Not right now. Not when I didn’t have the energy to even stand up. 

“I’m trying so hard to be okay,” I confessed before I could stop myself. “I want to be okay so bad. But this town… the people… this place is killing me.” 

He wiped my tears away and sighed. “I know. If they didn’t need our help, I’d leave, Lucado be damned. But we need to solve this case. If we didn’t, it would eat us alive.” 

He was right. Neither of us could walk away at this point with a clean conscience. 

“I’m so tired ,” I admitted and buried my head into his shoulder, wondering what it would feel like.


And then he did something even more unexpected. He picked me up and carried me to the empty bed. He pulled the sheets over my body and placed a bottle of water next to me silently. It was so startling, so un-Dolls-like that I didn’t know what to do exactly. 

“Is there anything else you need?” He asked gently and continued staring at me with concern. 

I shook my head and watched as he slid into his bed. His dark eyes found mine and I felt slightly transfixed. What the hell was wrong with him ? I didn’t understand why he was being so understanding and kind. 

Dolls was always a mystery, but weren’t people supposed to make more sense once you got to know them?

The hangover was awful but not as bad as it could have been. It was certainly something I didn’t miss about being an alcoholic, though I could easily work through it and push past the throbbing nature of my head. 

Dolls didn’t tell Jeremy about my problems last night and from what I could tell, Haught hadn’t told anyone either. This time, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I tried to fuck Haught when I was drunk and reliving memories and then I disclosed that I was having issues with my partner. Not a great night for me. 

Haught was avoiding me... again. She wasn’t angry, but she seemed somewhat worried and on edge like she was concerned that she had hurt my feelings. Which, wasn’t the case at all. She was just too good of a person to realize that. 

Waverly was her bubbly self, which was odd to me since she and Champ had just broken up. I wondered what Haught must have said last night to cheer her up. I figured the redhead would be good at something like that. It made sense to me that they had connected so easily. 

“Woah, so, this guy is a judge?” Jeremy asked as Haught read out the file that she had on him. “That’s sick. He’s supposed to be putting away killers, not being one.” 

“He might not be a part of the group,” Dolls pointed out with a sigh. “The list Edwin Earp had, there were too many people on the list for it to be a hundred percent accurate. He might have just helped the organization. Or he could have been wrong altogether. We can’t assume anything. Earp, Haught, it’s just going to be us that interview him. I don’t want to seem like we are bombarding him. Younger Earp, Chetri, look deeper at Edwin’s journal. See if he has any explanation to how he found out in the first place.”

Waverly and Jeremy looked slightly disappointed, but they didn’t disagree with him. Neither of them were trained in the field and Dolls didn’t want to take any chances. He was careful, and now that we were drawing in on suspects, he knew how imperative it was to get everything right. Spooking this guy was the worst thing we could do. 

The judge’s house was almost as big as the Gardner mansion, but not quite. Something was unsettling about the house. I almost expected ghosts flowing in and out of the windows as we rang the doorbell. 

The door opened and I felt the breath escape my mouth. It hadn’t dawned on me how this guy must have been. He was in a wheelchair and looked like he was having trouble breathing. His skin almost yellowed with age and I felt incredibly uncomfortable and out of place. Old people made me feel on edge. 

His wrinkled face looked upward at me and Haught and he said, “Pretty girls have come to visit. Why do I have such the pleasure of having your presence?” 

Dolls showed him his badge and said, “We’re a part of the task force in charge of finding the person or persons involved with the killed girls in this town.” 

The judge looked at the badge and then looked at Dolls. “Black Badge, huh? I thought Richard was lyin’ when he said you lot were looking in on it. Well, alright, then. I see you need an old judge’s help. Come inside, will you?” 

I wasn’t scared of many things, but coming into his house made me feel uneasy. Like I could imagine something horrible happening if I went inside. But Dolls and Haught entered without any problem and I followed behind them not wanting to draw attention to myself. 

His house was covered with taxidermy and guns. Pleasant. Definitely helped the nerves. While it wasn’t uncommon in Purgatory, I couldn’t help but think about the implications of animal cruelty and hunting. 

He offered us drinks in his office and seemed surprised when I refused. Even if I wasn’t interested in drinking after last night, there was no way I’d accept any drink from this man, even if I was dying of thirst. 

“Judge Cryderman, did you know a man named Edwin Earp when you were younger? He would have been a cop, so you might have worked with him.” 

Dolls, always calm and professional, even in front of a possible serial killer. I didn’t think I could have the same restraint. 

The judge tapped his chin like he had to think hard about it before answering, “You know, son, I think I did. He was an intriguing fella. Always had a little conspiracy in his head. Very frustrating as a judge, you see. But a good man, nevertheless. Why do you ask?” 

“You knew the mayor, too, didn’t you? Mayor Gardner?” 

Cryderman looked between each of us and then grinned. “I only knew him only after his time in the office. I was the youngest judge in this town, you see. But they always accepted me as their own. Good man. He did a lot for this town.” 

I felt my hands curl up into fists. The anger throbbed inside, wanting to lash out. I could feel it, from head to toe, I knew . He was a part of the damn thing. And he was just trying to play us with his phoney innocence. 

“Did you know Jack, too, then? Jack Knives?” I asked him, holding myself back from lurching at him and wrapping my own two hands around his neck. 

Something flashed in his eyes, something unrecognizable. Admiration, maybe. Possibly love for the sick monster. I just knew that it was something evil. 

“Why, yes, my dear. As I said, I was very young to be a judge. Everyone knew my name and I knew theirs. May I ask why you are inquiring about my old friends who have so unfortunately passed away?” 

Before I could say anything, Dolls told him, “We have reason to believe that the Mayor and Mr. Knives were a part of an organization that involved taking and murdering young women. When the Mayor was in the organization, it was called The Three. When you were in the organization, I believe it was called The Five. How did the teacher recruit you, Judge? Did he notice your record of letting rapists and sexual abusers walk free?” 

Cryderman stared at Dolls for a few seconds and I wondered if he would flip out and start attacking. On instinct, I reached for my gun, brushing it slightly. But then the old creep began laughing and I felt myself grip the gun harder. 

His eyes looked up and found mine. “I thought I recognized you, darlin’. Wynonna Earp. You look a little like good ole Eddy Earp. He was a little more righteous than you, though. I sent you to juvie how many times?” 

I felt Haught reach out and touch my hand. She knew I was ready to pounce. 

“Edwin knew you were a part of The Five, didn’t he?” Dolls asked, trying to get his attention off of me. “Are you still in the organization?” 

Without keeping his eyes off of me, he answered, “They don’t let me around the girls anymore. The new boss, he’s a feisty one. Reminds me of Jack a little, but Jack had finesse. Every girl he took he had a purpose with. This new one… he just likes the kill. Torture doesn’t satisfy him. He doesn’t let me near em.” 

“Who is he?” Haught asked him desperately. 

Cryderman laughed again and said, “You really didn’t think I would just tell you, did you? I’m an old man who did good for this town. No one would prosecute me.” 

“Maybe not,” I agreed with a shrug. “But I don’t think the town would be too happy to hear what you did to the town’s girls. You know the men in our town. They’re very protective of their girls. Law becomes arbitrary.” 

Finally, the cowboy mentality of this town helped. His smile faltered and he moved a little, shaken. 

“I’ll tell you his name, Wynonna, if you let me touch those pretty legs of yours.” 

I wasn’t surprised. He was an evil, sadistic bastard. He wasn’t getting any action as an old man and wanted what he could get. And he knew how torturous it would be for me, the embarrassment of my agreement. He knew the touch would linger. But he also knew I was willing to do anything for a name. And I had done a lot worse to get less information. 

“No, Wynonna,” Dolls commanded harshly, turning to me with darkened eyes. “Don’t you dare even think about it.” 

Haught looked frightened and astounded. I wondered if this was one of the first sick puppies she had ever met. 

But I ignored them both. 

Cryderman was smiling when I approached him. I grabbed his hand and placed it on my thigh. I looked up at the ceiling as he explored it, feeling what he could over my ripped jeans. I turned everything off. 


Any amount of time could have passed and I wouldn’t have any clue. I only snapped out of it when I felt someone physically pull me away. 

“You’ve had enough,” Dolls roared and pushed me away from him as he grabbed Cryderman’s shirt. “Tell me his name.” 

“You care about a whore like her,” He laughed as he gripped his pants. “Maybe you want some too. She’s very--”

Dolls punched him and blood went flying. I had never seen him so angry. I almost reached out for him, wanting to calm him down, but didn’t. 

“His name, Cryderman. Or the town will know what kind of monster you really are.” 

The judge spit out blood on the floor and said, “Mason. Mason Kohlhepp.” 

Dolls pushed him away and walked out of the door. I turned to look at Haught, who still looked completely horrified, and grabbed her hand. We were getting out now. 

Chapter Text

Sometimes, there’s this primal urge to growl. And not always in the sexual way; there are times and situations where all you can do is unleash your frustration through a guttural growl. It’s healthy, I saw something like that on TV once. Not all people appreciate it, though, I learned. Haught practically jumped out of her skin when I let one rip once we walked out of that fucked up house. 

“Holy shit, Earp,” the redhead breathed out and moved away from me, not so subtly. “Did you just growl ?” 

“Prepare yourself, Haught,” I mentioned, disregarding whatever the hell she just said. “Dolls is not gonna be happy with me.” 

I opened the passenger side door to find Dolls just sitting there, seething with anger, his hands on the wheel, ready to start driving when we were inside. He looked furious, ready to fight anyone, and I watched as his hands twitched. The hand he used to punch the guy was red and bleeding and I winced just looking at it. It made me wonder if he hurt himself for me. 

“We’re going to get that son of a bitch, Dolls,” I told him with certainty and waited for the guy to start driving or screaming or whatever he needed to do. “Let’s go get his address and get that motherfu--”

“We have no proof, Earp,” he murmured and started shaking his head. “We can’t just go in guns blazing and expect the law to be on our side. We need to do this by the book. You know that better than anyone.” 

‘By the book’ was my least favorite phrase. Sometimes Dolls forgot that I was criminal before I caught the criminals. Sometimes he had too much faith in me that I followed laws. Or sometimes not enough. 

“Then we find proof,” I stated with sincerity. “We’re getting him one way or another.” 

Dolls turned and his eyes bore into mine with anger. I had never, ever, seen him so furious, so untethered to calmness. He was always able to keep his feelings out of the case. He could always put the job first. 

“We aren’t getting him through the ways that you just did. Jesus, Wynonna! What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t just sell yourself for information. You’re better than that. You’re… goddammit.” 

I raised an eyebrow, trying to understand why he was so mad. I could feel Haught trying to blend in with the backseat and I couldn’t blame her. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide from this situation, too. 

I gulped and replied softly, “I did it for the case, Dolls. I did it… it wasn’t that big of a deal. We both know I’ve had to do worse. And, bonus, we got the information we needed, right? We should be celebrating if anything.” 

Celebrating ?” Dolls asked and slapped the steering wheel forcefully. “If you think that I would ever celebrate what you just put yourself through… there’s always another way. Always, Earp.” 

Unable to reply, I turned away and he began to drive. 

As Haught immediately darted to the files, far away from us (and the unstable and awkward energy between me and Dolls), we headed to find Waverly and Jeremy. They were chatting away about Edwin Earp when we entered and then stopped and asked us what we learned. 

Not knowing if I should speak, I looked to Dolls who cleared his throat and explained what had happened, sans how we got the name, which I appreciated. I had gotten enough judgment from what I did, the last thing I needed was a similar look from my sister. 

“Mason Kohlhepp, huh,” Waverly sighed as she seemed to think about the name and if she knew anything about him. “He’s older than what I was imagining, but it would make sense if he’s been killing for a while. It’s odd… I thought that I would know him. Heck, I feel like I know everyone in this town. But… not him.” 

I wanted to tell her that it was a good thing she didn’t know him, but Haught entered the room, sweaty and breathless as if she just ran here, and slammed the small vanilla folder down on the table. 

“Nothing,” Haught uttered as she pounded her fist on the file. “The only thing in here is an official complaint made by him about his neighbors. But that stuff happens all the time here. How was this happening without me even--” 

“Don’t beat yourself up,” Waverly interrupted with a comforting smile as she placed her hand on top of Haught’s to calm her down. “No one had any idea whatsoever about what was going on in this town. None of this could possibly be your fault.” 

Haught smiled at my sister and nodded, taking her hand and squeezing it before sitting down next to her. She now looked settled and ready to take this further. Waverly was certainly talented. 

“She’s right,” I added and took the cap off a marker, ready to write. “Haught-shot, you just got to this town, practically. People who have been living here for generations hadn’t even noticed. But what we can do is stop it now. So, what do we know about Kohlhepp?” 

The redhead opened her file and said, “He’s forty-two, unmarried, lives in a house… that’s in the middle of nowhere. But his practice is in town. He’s a vet.” 

I grumbled, “Of course he is. He has all the equipment he needs: needles, drugs, utensils, money, access to a potential victim pool and information, and he has the space to keep girls away from anyone else. He fits.” 

There was something almost miraculous about figuring out ‘who did it'. I’ve met weirdos who said that feeling is more euphoric than sex. The adrenaline of catching a bad guy was certainly a sweet bonus, but I didn’t know if I’d go that far. But right now, as I listed all the reasons why this guy seemed right for the crime, I felt it. Part of me was elated that this case was coming to an end but the other part of me remembered how long it took to get here, how many girls died senseless deaths because people weren’t paying attention. 

“All we have is a guess right now,” Dolls pointed out again to reiterate it. “We have no evidence. All we have is a name that was given to us by a guy who wouldn’t dare repeat it in court. He’s smart. We can’t just walk up to him and ask him if he’s a killer. He wouldn’t get flustered, or maybe even cocky. Instead, he’d go home and get rid of all of the evidence, not that we could get a warrant right now even if we wanted to.” 

“So, who do we talk to then?” Haught asked, looking confused to where we were heading in this investigation. 

Dolls turned to look at me and said, “Who we always talk to in situations like this.” 

I knew exactly who he was talking about. 

“The mom.” 

“They don’t tell you that the hardest part of the job is talking to the family,” She explained as she passed me the coffee I ordered and we sat down in a semi-crowded cafe. “In all my training, I never thought it would be the worst part. Whether it’s talking to the victim’s family or the perp’s, it’s always difficult.” 

I nodded and tried to calm down, even if I couldn’t. I was so mad. Dolls fucking abandoned me, leaving me alone to talk to a perp’s mother. And I flipped out, probably ruining everything. 

“Dolls seems to think I should have done well without any experience whatsoever,” I almost snarled as I angrily sipped the coffee, burning the top of my mouth. “Jesus Christ! Motherfucker!” 

She laughed and said, “I like how you say those words back to back. But seriously, Dolls believes in you. He might never say it, but he thinks you can be a really good agent.” 

“Well, he has a weird way of showing that. You know, I think the more he gets to know me, the more he hates me. Which I mean, hey, I get it. But--” 

She grabbed my hand and said, “Don’t sell yourself short. You belong on this team. The three of us, we work so well together. Lucado has a hard time even thinking about things to complain about. You’ve only been around a month and I can tell you’re going to do great things.” 

I looked down at her hand that was holding mine and I gulped. I hadn’t had this kind of touching since… I couldn’t even remember. Of course, I had done a lot of things in my time since I had run away, but nothing quite as intimate…

“How come you gave me a chance?” 

She smiled and squeezed my hand. “I could just tell you were special, Wynonna.”

“We can’t startle her, Haught,” Dolls told the redhead as we drove to the mother of who we thought was a prolific serial killer. “The worst thing we can do is have her realize we think that her son is committing these murders. This woman is probably in denial or truly thinks that her son is good. Parents have faith in their children, and that bond is usually hard to destroy. Even if the kid is a narcissistic killer.” 

Haught looked unsure of Dolls’ words. “Okay, so then what the hell do we talk to her about? How can we ask about her son if we can’t… you know, ask about his murderous tendencies?” 

“We lie,” I explained with a shrug. “We tell her that we’re looking for volunteers with the task force of finding the killer. We’ll ask her about his past and personality to see if he’s 'compatible with our team'.” 

She didn’t seem thrilled with the idea. I appreciated Haught’s strong sense of justice and her good morals, but the last thing we could do was allow it to get in the way of our case. 

I turned around to look at her and I told her, “I’ve talked to a lot of parents of serial killers and mass murderers. Do you know how many of them still won’t admit to this day that their child killed someone else’s child? Even with proof and evidence, they still have more faith in their children than with any resemblance of factual evidence. Are there cases where parents acknowledge their child’s illness? Yes. Does that happen often? Hell no. And even if she knows her son is a monster, she still might warn him and tell him to run.” 

Haught gulped and nodded, seeming like she understood better. I couldn’t imagine how difficult this must have been for her. She was used to honesty and using the justice system to help her catch bad guys. She wasn’t used to this roundabout way to catch a sicko. I was a little jealous of her ignorance, though. 

We pulled into a driveway and I looked at the small house without much surprise. Killers came from every walk of life. They could be born rich or poor; from a broken home to a stable one; it didn’t matter. The cute garden in front and the cheery welcome mat didn’t scare me that we arrived at the wrong house. 

“Put on your happy face,” I murmured under my breath to the others before I knocked on the door. “She can’t think we’re here to catch a killer.” 

The door opened and a familiar face greeted me. She was a woman who worked at a grocery store when I was younger. She was warm and inviting, telling us to come inside without even asking us why we were on her doorstep. 

“You three seem so young to be investigating something so dangerous,” Ms. Kohlhepp commented brightly as she sat us down in the living room and offered us her tin of cookies. “You must be very good at what you do.” 

“We are,” Dolls agreed with the fakest of smiles. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t need help. This case has stumped us backward and forwards. We are looking for some fresh eyes. We were looking for help from townies and we heard that your son could help. From what people say, he’s brilliant and very personable.” 

The woman, Donna, nodded profusely and said, “Mason is a good boy. I don’t know where he got those good genes of his. His father and I didn’t even graduate High School. But my boy went to college, which is rare for this town.” 

“His father,” I asked her pleasantly. “What did he do?” 

“Mechanic,” She explained with a sad smile. “He passed away when Mason was only twenty. Mason didn’t give up on his dreams, though. He wanted to support me financially, so he continued school. He’s a good son.” 

I did all that I could to stop me from rolling my eyes. She could be blind to her son’s incapability to empathize, but I could tell that she was trying to convince me that he was a good person, as if she had been doing it her whole life. Or maybe she spent her whole life trying to convince herself that he was good. 

“Does Mason play well with others?” Dolls asked her. 

Ms. Kohlhepp sighed and looked uncertain. “He’s not for everyone, but he does have some very good friends. He’s always hanging out with them at his house.” 

“Did your son know someone named Mark Palka?” 

Donna’s eyes lit up and she nodded. “Mark was one of his apprentices in his practice. Sometimes, Mason takes on assistants in surgeries and tries to mentor them about life as well. Mark was a good one. I don’t know what happened to him. I think his mother moved them away when he was around eighteen or so.” 

He became a murderer. Like your son . That was all I needed. A connection to know that he was apart of the organization. I wasn’t assured that he was the leader, though. I still needed to know more about his personality. 

“So your son helps younger boys out, was there someone else that did that for him? Teach him in some way? Or did he learn leadership through his father?” 

She tilted her head, having to think about that question. “My husband was a good father and provider, but he had long hours to be able to provide. He and my son weren’t very close. But he was close to this one man… hmm… I’m trying to recall his name. He introduced my son to the medical world. I think he even let Mason in on a few surgeries.” 

I raised an eyebrow and asked, “Was this man a doctor? A surgeon?” 

She nodded and looked up to the ceiling, trying to think about who he was. I certainly had a good idea, but I didn’t want to put it in her head. I didn’t want her to think I already knew everything. 

“Yes, I believe so. Dr. Knight… no. Dr. Knives! Dr. Knives was his name! I only met him a few times, but Mason adored him. The doctor was quite older, but he found a way to relate to my boy. And now he helps other boys. Isn’t that full circle?” 

Full murderous circle . I shook away that thought and continued to smile and pretend to find Mason fascinating. 

“So, what is he like?” 

“He’s very confident in his abilities. He’s a lot smarter than me…” She chuckled as if she thought that was funny. “He’s quite the mama’s boy. Focuses more on work than dating.” 

“Is he awkward around women?” Haught asked him, obviously without thinking. 

I turned around to glare at her, but Dolls had already beaten me to it. Looking flushed and concerned, Haught looked apologetic. But no apologies would make up for it if she screwed everything up. Donna looked confused, but not totally turned off. 

“I’m sorry,” Haught told her with a flustered pretend smile. “Dating in this town is just so difficult. He just sounded… just my type. I was curious.” 

I raised my eyebrows, I couldn’t help it. I was impressed. Haught saved the day, even if she almost ruined it. 

“Oh, my dear. I understand completely. I’ll put in a good word, but as I said, he doesn’t date very often, unfortunately. He isn’t awkward. He just thinks that women are frivolous. And what can I say, he’s right, isn’t he? We’re just distractions to men like him.” 

That’s some sexist bullshit. But I ignored it. 

“Are you two close?” Dolls asked her. 

“Very,” Donna expressed with a smile. “He’s my son. He likes to tell me about everything that he’s doing. Most kids don’t want to talk to their parents, but Mason picks the times that we can talk.” 

“He lives at his own house, right?” 

“Oh, yes. He needs his space. Not even I am allowed to come over to his house without his permission.” She laughed as if that was funny, too. But she didn’t understand why he didn’t let her over at his house. She didn't seem to know that he probably had girls in his basement. 

Before any of us could ask another question, the front door opened and a man entered the house. Mason Kohlhepp. He was strangely lean, his neck abnormally long for his body. His hair was curly but untidy. Which seemed odd considering that his outfit seemed perfectly picked and put on. His presence made me shudder. Haught seemed to have a similar reaction while Dolls just stared at him intensely. 

“Ma…” He began as he tried to get a good look at all of us, his dark brown eyes trying to search our own for answers. “Who are they?” 

Donna approached her son, reached out for him, and didn’t frown when he pushed her away. She smiled and told him, “These kind people are a part of this special task force that is trying to catch that horrible man killing all those girls.” 

His eyes didn’t leave ours, even as his mother talked. He obviously didn’t care much about her or respected her. 

“Right,” He said and put his hands on his hips. “So, why are you all here in my mother’s house?” 

Donna patted her son’s shoulder and said, “Don’t be so severe, dear. They’re here looking to recruit citizens of the town. You should be honored, not so standoffish.” She turned to us and said, “So sorry for his behavior. He’s suspicious of almost everyone. I don’t know where he got that from.” 

I wondered if he got it from being a fucking serial killer. I wanted to ask him that out loud, but that wouldn’t help anything. But with a smirk growing on his face, he seemed to know what I was thinking. It infuriated me. I felt like punching him in the face. 

“I’m truly touched,” He lied through his teeth. He grinned and added, “can I walk you all out?” 

It wasn’t like we were going to get anything else out of his mother. And he knew that we were investigating him. So everything had already gone down the fucking toilet. We followed him out of the house and I had one hand on my weapon the whole time. I was ready to shoot his pathetic ass if I had to. Maybe a part of me wanted to. 

“You three don’t impress me very much,” He commented as he closed the door and stared at us predatorily. “My mother might be clueless, but I’m not. You think I don’t know what’s going on? You have nothing on me. Nothing.” 

My hands curled up into fists and I was about to punch him when Dolls held me back and physically pulled me back to the car as we heard him laugh in the background, enjoying the show like the sadistic bastard he was. I wanted to kill him. 

“Calm down, Wynonna,” Dolls ordered in a whisper and opened the passenger side door for me to get into as Mason walked back into his house without a care in the world. “You can’t do what you’re thinking.” 

“He’s a killer, Dolls! If we don’t do something, what if he kills someone? Huh? Can you live with that? We have to do something more.” 

Dolls glared at me and said, “We can’t arrest him or legally search his house, so what do you expect us to do, Earp?” 

“Something!” I yelled and shut the car door, causing him to actually flinch back in surprise. “We have to do something!” 

He shook his head slowly and sighed, “You have to calm down. You’re too personal with this case. You can’t take everything so… Look, Earp, I understand why you feel like we have to do something. But we have to tread carefully. Let me remind you of what happened with Garrett Hayes--” 

“Fuck you, Dolls.” 

I walked away and felt my whole body throb and shake. But I didn’t look back. 

“Earp, he’s back.” 

I felt the wave of nausea rush over me. Dolls’ eyes were serious and even a tad sympathetic. He knew what his announcement would cause. He didn’t say his name, thank God. Even the thought of him made me almost want to cower in a corner. 

Before BBD recruited me and gave me a job, I helped them take down a sex ring that included drugs schemes, grand theft auto, selling illegal pornography, human trafficking, and the occasional murder and cover-up (so that I wouldn't be arrested). They were surprised that I was able to maintain my cover and slowly became clean in the process. 

I was the one who made them aware of him. I wasn’t surprised that he was already on the FBI’s radar, but they seemed surprised that I knew exactly what kind of business he dealt with. 

When the ring was being destroyed, he texted me an address where I could meet him. FBI put a wire on me and I was ready to take him down, even if a small part of me was still loyal to the man who got me off the streets and practically sold me into prostitution. 

The only thing at the meeting place was a small note that read: ‘til we see each other again.’ Of course, it was fucking ominous. I had to watch my back, knowing that he was always out there, taunting me. 

The idea of him being back in the limelight was startling, but also a little intoxicating. I learned to like the chase. Maybe even a little too much. 

After walking for hours around town, fuming with anger, I found that Shorty's was almost empty, which was probably a good thing since I was ready to tear off heads of misogynistic men. Even though Doc could probably fit into that category, he had what I wanted. 

“Miss Earp… you’re back.” He was grinning and poured a glass of whiskey, just for me. 

I pushed the drink back to him and said, “I’m not here for your cheap alcohol, Doc. And it’s Agent Earp, by the way.” 

He smirked and downed the drink quickly. Maybe he thought it was impressive. I wasn’t impressed at all. But still, I leaned over and grabbed his collar, forcing his lips onto mine. He moaned in my mouth with delight and I couldn’t say that I shared the same excitement. I just wanted to think about something else. Anything else. 

Doc led me to a maintenance closet and started ripping my clothes off. He was really into this hookup. That almost turned me completely off. 

He started unzipping and taking off his pants when my phone rang. I let it go. He scrambled to take my underwear off and my phone rang again. I let it go. I was pressed up against a fucking mop and it rang again. I finally answered with a frustrated yell. 


“Wynonna, thank God,” Jeremy murmured, sounding odd like he had just been crying. “Where are you?” 

Noticing the weirdness, I pushed Doc away before he could go any further and I lied, “I’m going on a walk. What is it?” 

“God, Wynonna. I-- I didn’t even know what happened. She was here but then didn’t come back and-- It’s Waverly, Wynonna. She’s gone.” 

Chapter Text

It was a dream I had frequently; Dolls and I looking at a body at the coroner’s and realizing that the familiar face on the lifeless body was my own sister’s. A lot of the victims I had encountered over the years reminded me of her with their beauty and innocence. During cases, I had tried to push out the lingering thoughts of my sister that I left behind always gnawing at my head, telling myself that I was paranoid. Fuck. 

My sister’s strong, she wouldn’t have been taken without a fight. But she isn’t invincible and unfathomable fear and anger roared through my body. I was ready to charge into Kohlhepp’s house with a gun and mission to kill. 

This is what I spent my time fucking avoiding. Losing people was inevitable in this job and after I lost… I couldn’t lose someone else. Not Waverly. 

I barely remembered leaving the bar and Doc’s pissed face and running the whole way to the station. I couldn’t feel the aches in my feet or breathlessness with my lungs. I wouldn’t be able to take a breath until I could get her back, anyway. 

Dolls was standing outside when I got there, his face worn and tired. We were mad at each other, but our frustration dimmed and all I could find was sympathy in his eyes which made me wonder if he was human after all. 

“Chetri’s going through traffic cams and all the footage in the surrounding areas of where she was taken. She was picking up take-out for all of us. Obviously, the theory is that it’s The Seven. Not sure if it’s Kohlhepp, though.” 

Getting down to business was his way of showing his support and I couldn’t be more thankful. We might not have always seen eye to eye, but he was driven to catch bad guys and save the good ones. He’d do anything he could to save her. 

Which is good; I’ve never excelled at saving people. 

I nodded and pushed passed him into the building. The few employees were buzzing, actually seeming like they were working their asses off to find her. Even Champ fucking Hardy. Jeremy’s eyes were glued to his laptop and Haught looked over his shoulder, not even blinking. Her eyes were red and her face was blotchy. 

I sighed at the sudden realization and ran my fingers through my hair. Waverly was the girl that Nicole wanted. 

“What do you have, Jeremy?” I asked him impatiently as I tapped my foot repeatedly, trying not to throttle someone or throw up. 

Jeremy pushed the laptop towards me and pressed the spacebar, starting the video. Waverly was walking with a bag of Chinese food in her hands when a van pulled up next to her. She noticed it and walked over to the tinted window to talk to a person inside. Meanwhile, someone else came up from behind her and injected her with something that knocked her out. The man wasn’t facing the camera. And the van with tinted windows and no license plate sped off. 

 “They’re so dead,” I muttered under my breath and started to search around the room for the extra firearms that I knew Dolls brought with. He seemed to know what I was looking for because he put his hand on my arm to try to stop me from grabbing an automatic weapon. 

“I know what you’re thinking, Earp. I get it. But this guy and his organization have power. We can’t just go in without a warrant and expect everyone to surrender. Because they won’t. You’d shoot them and you’d go to prison and your sister would probably be collateral damage.”

I felt my animosity towards him return and I spat out, “I’m done playing by the rules, Dolls. She’s my sister. My responsibility. I don’t give a fuck if I’m arrested if I give her a chance of life. This is already my fucking fault. If we hadn’t come…” I trailed off, unable to speak as tears fell down my cheeks. They were hot and uncomfortable. Just like the last time I cried.

Her body was just sitting there in her pool of blood and I felt the red on my hands. The sobs controlled me as I tried to pull her close, tried to see if she had any life left, tried to revive her. Her body was warm but without a pulse; she was only just murdered. And I could have saved her if I had come to our hotel room sooner. 

I kissed her and told her lifeless body the truth, that I loved her. Her blood was all over me, but I didn’t care. I wouldn’t be separated. Not even when I felt a warm hand on my back and I realized Dolls arrived after I must have called him and the medics. 

“She’s gone, Wynonna, ” He whispered, saying my first name for the first time. His tone was soft and understanding. I knew that he knew the truth about our relationship at that moment. 

Eliza Shapiro was always more than just a colleague and a friend. 

The words ‘I’ll be seeing you’ on the note next to her body would have normally sent me in a rage, but I felt empty. Lifeless. I knew I would have to hunt Garrett Hayes until the day that I died for what he did to her, but at that moment I wanted to be the prey. I wouldn’t have minded if I had been hunted to. Or could take the place of her. 

Eliza died in the hotel we shared when we weren’t in a different city for a case; she died in the place that we loved. It was sacred to us and became twisted into something of a nightmare. My past had caught up with me and he wasn’t happy that I was happy. And she had to pay the price of my freedom from him. 

“This isn’t your fault,” Haught said almost immediately, the tears returning to her eyes as well. “Waves would be the first person to tell you that. You’re doing your job, doing some good. The only blame goes to The Seven. And we are going to lock them away.”

“We’ll go to his house for a little recon to see if he’s there. We have to do this right, Wynonna. For Waverly.”

He was right and I hated it. The Seven had more manpower than just me. They’d probably end up killing me and my sister. This was our only chance.  

“For Waverly.”

It was hard to blend into the surroundings when the large house we were supposed to be watching and surveilling was in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. Even the path to the house was cobblestone and uneven, maxing the amount of potential sound made by our very own vehicle. 

Dolls was driving, staring at the road ahead of him, calm and steady as he slowly made his way through the path. I regretted telling Haught to come with us; she was shaking in the back seat, on the edge of an anxiety attack. Then again, at least I knew someone else was just as concerned about keeping my sister alive. And despite it going against every bone in my body, I trusted the redhead cop. 

“He already knows we’re onto him,” I pointed out with a grimace. “That’s why he took Waverly. He knows we know that he did it. So, he’s either not here or he’s stupid. Either way, we won’t be able to surprise him showing up like this.” 

Dolls stepped on the gas pedal a  little harder, agreeing with me. We all knew coming to his home was a long shot. His house might have been the location of all the other atrocities, but there was no way he’d keep her in the same house after we got his name and record of everything he owned. 

The eerie house was quiet, undisturbed. I wondered how many girls had been tortured, raped, and killed in that house and I felt my whole body shiver. I wouldn’t allow the same thing to happen to Waverly.  

His phone rang for maybe the tenth time and he didn’t pick it up once again. Lucado had been calling non-stop and Dolls had made the executive decision to keep everything silent. He knew how much trouble I would be in if the boss found out the latest victims was one of her agent’s sisters. This wasn’t normal Dolls behavior. Normally, no matter what, he’d answer his phone and speak with brutal honesty, even if that meant getting himself or me into deep shit. But he didn’t this time and I didn’t understand why. 

We stopped somewhat near the house, close enough for Dolls to look through a gadget of his and see if there are any warm bodies inside with a heat sensor. He cursed softly and put the instrument back into his lap. 

“There’s no one in there. If anyone knows where he could be though, it’d be his mother. She knows a lot more than she was saying.” 

“She’s terrified of him,” I added in agreement. “Did you notice how many times she tried to convince us and herself that he was a good person? She knows that he really isn’t. She knows there is something dark in him. We just need to get her to talk. Which seems hard, she does seem to truly love him, even if she’s scared of him.” 

“How can anyone love someone like… that?” Haught asked, sounding stunned and disgusted. 

“Ted Bundy’s parents loved him, supposedly. School shooters are glorified on social media platforms with followers. Serial killers get love letters in prison. The world is a twisted place, Haught-shot.” 

She didn’t seem satisfied with that answer, and neither was I. Love isn’t a basic concept; it couldn’t be defined or categorized through any measurement. Some people loved immensely, some people loved no one at all, and others loved monsters. People say that you can’t choose who you love, but I disagree. If you lose enough of the people that you love, learning to dissociate from that feeling was easy. 

“Maybe we can use that fear against her,” Dolls mentioned as he turned around and left the strange, unsettling area. “After all, most people don’t like to be told they are helping a monster. Even if she is his mother.” 

Donna Kohlhepp opened the door and barely got a word in before we shoved our way through her house and stood in her living room, looking around for any proof of any presence of her sadistic son. 

“Lord have mercy, is there something wrong, Agents?” She asked them and began to obviously shake, which I guessed meant that she knew why we were here. 

“We’re looking for your son,” Dolls informed her. “Where is he?” 

Wide-eyed and startled, she replied, “I haven’t the faintest clue. Why are you looking for him? Do you need him to solve that case of yours?” 

“No, Ma’am,” Haught told her calmly. “I think we both know that he’s the one perpetrating this crime.” 

She looked horrified, but not necessarily surprised. Though, her words said something different. 

“You’re wrong, Officer. My son--” 

“Mason isn’t a normal man, is he? He was a strange boy with violent outbursts who turned into an egotistical man-child that looks at women like they are meat for him to eat. There’s something wrong with him, isn’t there? You’ve tried to push that thought away but you can’t. You thought he’d grow out of it, but he didn’t. Where is he?” 

She opened her mouth and then closed it, not wanting to answer my question. She walked around and sat on the couch, burying her head in her hands. 

“He’s not at his home, Ma’am,” Haught told her impatiently. “Where is he?” 

“I don’t know!” Donna yelled out, tears streaming down her face. “I don’t know where he is! I don’t even know what you’re talking about! My son doesn’t even have a record!” 

“Your son is a killer!” I fired back, slamming my fist onto the coffee table, causing her to jump. “Your son has killed at least seventeen girls in the past decade and that might not even cover it. He has a girl right now . And you know him better than anyone. Hiding him means letting a girl die. Do you want to be a murderer, just like your son?” 

Her lips quivered and she looked away from me, afraid to answer, still loyal to her evil son. I stood up, ready to verbally attack her when Dolls held me back. I glared at him for a brief second before he stood in front of me and started to speak. 

“A psychopath is a person who is incapable of empathy. This trait is born and does not mean one would be a killer. Add a little narcissism, masochism, and sadism, however, now that’s a recipe for murder. Your son has a taste for it, doesn’t he? Neighborhood animals went missing or were found dead all the time around your house when he was younger. Your son was unable to maintain most friendships and made adults uncomfortable. He hates women and sometimes has trouble controlling himself around them. He has collections of weapons and tells disturbing jokes that he finds funny but would scare a normal person. He threatens you, but not directly. He takes care of you, not because he loves you, but because you raised him and know him, he knows that you know his secret, even if it goes unmentioned.” 

“He’s my baby,” She replied with a voice crack. 

Dolls’ face didn’t falter. “He’s a killer. And he’s going to murder a girl soon if we can’t find him.” 

She sighed, wiped the sweat and tears off her face, and said, “I  don’t know where he is. But I know that his best friend would.” 

“Who is he?” Nicole asked him.

“Tucker Gardner.” 

Sometimes bad days just get a shit ton worse. Like as fucked up as everything seems, the world just says ‘I’m gonna fuck you up a little bit more just for funsies.’ This was why I hated the world. 

Was I surprised that Tucker Gardner’s only friend is a sadistic murdering bastard? Nope. Was I surprised that he was probably one of The Seven? Meh. I never thought he’d have the brains for being a part of something so organized. But creeps attract creeps and I was not surprised those two sick puppies found each other. 

Tucker Gardner didn’t have any known residences, so we had to go back to the girl who probably wanted to skin me alive. And, bonus, I had to tell her that her brother was probably a killer or torturer at the least. Fun times. 

Mercedes opened the door and groaned with probably the biggest eye roll I had ever seen. She hated that we were back. That I had come back. I wish I had been a better friend. 

“Bitch, I thought we were done. You searched my place and found what you were looking for, courtesy of moi, and now you’re back? For what? The little light in my life that I have left?”

She was cranky. I would be too, but this wasn’t a good time for her to be pissy. And if I had to apologize to get her to tell us what we needed to save Waves, it would be worth it.  

“Look, Mercedes. I fucked up, alright? All those years ago, I was the world’s worst friend. I still am. What I did to you was unforgivable. You were there for me when no one else was and then I just abandoned you. I do that to everyone and I’m so sorry. You deserved better than how I treated you. So, continue hating me. That’s cool. But please, Mercedes. Tell me where your brother is.”

She seemed surprised, even startled. I couldn’t tell if she was more perplexed that I apologized or that we needed to find her brother. Either way, the anger seemed to vanish her body and all that was left was confusion. 


I told her honestly, “His best friend is the killer. Or, the main killer. His name is Mason Kohlhepp. Ring any bells for you?” 

She shuddered and answered, “Fucking perv. That little weasel would watch me when he stayed at our house. I one found him in the bathroom while I was showering once. God, I’m not surprised.”

“We think Tucker would know where he is,” Dolls explained carefully, not revealing that we thought her brother could be a killer too. “Which is why we want to find your brother.” 

Mercedes nodded, seeming to understand the importance of the information that she had. “Most of the time, he stays here. But when he’s not here, he stays at this old cabin that’s in my late uncle’s name. Gerald Gardner. That’s where he should be.” 

I sighed with relief and said, “Thank you. He has Waverly, Mer. You might have just saved her life.” 

My old friend nodded and responded, “I hope you find her, Earp. And if my brother is a part of this twisted shit, don’t hesitate to shoot. I know I wouldn’t.” 

Mercedes didn’t have to worry. I was ready to blow his fucking head off. 

The cabin was small and the heat sensor told us that only one person was inside. Dolls was ready to go in. Haught and I were too. I could tell that nothing would make the redhead feel better than getting a punch in. Haught always knew that she had to get this guy and now she finally was. It probably would have been satisfying for all of us if Waverly hadn’t been taken. There was no way we could consider this a victory. 

I aimed my gun at him and he put his hands up, surrendering. We needed him alive. I knew that. But part of me wanted to see the fuckwit crawl into a fetal position as he bled out. His thin body was shaking as Dolls slammed him to the ground to put the cuffs on him. He was shouting about his innocence and that we weren’t allowed to arrest him. 

Tucker Gardner reminded me of my pimp. Both of them are boney little bastards with decaying teeth and a thirst for sexual deviancy. They were also pawns in a much bigger scheme, their sickness being used as a tool for something greater. There was always a smarter mastermind at work. 

“It wasn’t me!” He screamed as he pounded the metal table, his chains banging against it with force. “I never did nothing!” 

Dolls laughed as he sat across from my pimp, enjoying every minute of it. “You buy and sell girls off to customers just as you do with your drugs. That’s a crime, Cole. You’re going to prison for a long time, like it or not.” 

“I don’t belong in prison! I haven’t done nothing wrong! You won’t find anything on me!” 

“We found your stash at your apartment, idiot. And we have victims of your illegal business. Why in the hell do you think you wouldn’t be going to prison?” 

Cole sat there in silence for a second before smiling. “Garrett said that he’d get us out. If anything happened, he’d get us out.” 

Dolls leaned in closer, causing Cole to move back in fear. “You raped and sold girls. No jury is ever going to sympathize with a maggot like you.” 

“Rape?” Cole asked, pretending to sound amused. “Is that what Wynonna told you? That little bitch doesn’t know what she’s talkin’ about. She always had a choice, Agent. And she always wanted me. She just don’t want to admit it like the cu--” 

Dolls pushed the table, slamming it into him as he stood up. This was probably why he didn’t let me into the interrogation room. 

“You’re going to rot in prison,” Dolls told him sincerely. “And then you’re going to rot in hell.” 

The cabin reminded me of my pimp’s apartment with their indescribable smells of sweat and semen. Not to mention the lack of light fixtures, dust, and creepy mementos of their victims. 

As the three of us drove back to the station, Jeremy took other deputies out to the cabin to bag and tag everything. We needed something to nail Tucker on. 

Dolls held him by the collar of his shirt as he pushed him around the station, getting him into an interrogation room. Tucker was sweating and shaking. I was glad that he was terrified. 

“We know you’re a part of The Seven,” Dolls began as he stood over the table as Tucker sat, looking small beneath him. “We know you’re helping an organization rape, torture, and kill girls. And we know that your best buddy, Mason Kohlhepp, is the leader.” 

Tucker crossed his arms and said, “You don’t know anything.” 

I slammed the table this time and growled, “You know where your freak friend is. And where he took Waverly.” 

“Waverly Earp was always so special,” Tucker said in a sing-song voice. “Pretty and sweet. Everyone wants her.” 

At the same time, Haught and I lunged at him before Dolls pulled us back and gave us the look. He didn’t want us to ruin this. 

“It’s fine if you don’t want to talk now,” Dolls said in a forced calm voice. “We can hold you for seventy-two hours, we have all the time in the world. And I promise you, Gardner. You’ll be awake through it all.” 

Chapter Text

“We’re going to get him, Earp.”

Dolls stood behind me as I watched them put her body in the ground where it shouldn’t have been. Her body should have been in my arms. Alive. 

“Lucado has taken us off the case,” I countered as I watched the family grieve in the background, trying my hardest not to cause a scene. They didn’t know about me. Or my relationship with their daughter.

“When has that ever stopped you before?” He asked, his tone sounding oddly less cold than usual. 

I turned around and glared at him. “Are you fucking stupid, Dolls? My stubbornness and inability to stop searching for him got her killed. And you want to keep chasing the bastard?” 

His eyes narrowed and he muttered, “You want to chase him on your own, don’t you? You just don’t want me to help you.” 

I blinked and then responded heartlessly, “Helping got her killed. And we may have our differences, Agent Dolls. You might despise me and I might despise you, but I don’t want you dead.” 

“As much as I appreciate that sentiment, Earp, you’re still an agent. Eliza made sure of that. You’re my… partner. We do this together. Don’t you think I want to catch the son of a bitch who did this too? Shapiro and I worked together for years. It wasn’t just you who cared for her.” He seemed irritated by that fact. “Besides, if you do this on your own you’re going to just end up dead too. And I’m just starting to get used to you being around.” 

I knew that was the closest thing to a compliment I was going to get from him, so I turned around and nodded. 

Eliza’s nickname for me was ‘wolf’ because I preferred to work alone. I called her ‘fox’ because she was tenacious and lived for the chase. It might be poetic if we both died being the animals we chose for each other. But that would mean I had a death wish. 

All I knew was that I had to catch a monster. And after my time on the streets, I learned that to catch a monster, you had to be one. With one last look at the coffin, I turned back around and squeezed through the crowd. As some people say, there ain’t no rest for the wicked.

I was aware of how much time had passed since she had gone missing. I tried not to think about all the ways my sister could be hurting. That was just another rabbit hole I could dig into and die in. 

Dolls was aggressive. Handsy and forceful at any chance he got. After he read him his rights and Tucker so cockily denied the right of having a lawyer present, Dolls pushed Tucker onto the chair in the interrogation room. After we dropped him off, Haught and I stood behind the glass. We would come in later. 

It was Dolls’ job to scare him. Intimidate him. Assert dominance. Make Tucker more afraid of Dolls than of Kohlhepp. Then, once Tucker attempts to pretend he’s alright, Dolls would send me and Haught it. Tucker was a sexist dude. He’d think we would be calm and approachable. He’d relax, spilling secrets. I’d let him flirt as Nicole would judge him. And hopefully, we’d get under his skin and watch him crawl. At least, that was the plan.

“You know, Gardner,” Dolls began as he sat on the table, much taller than the pale boy who looked like he was going to shit himself. “When we first got to town, we quickly found out you were the town perv. Yeah, you were always a suspect. You’re odd, you don’t fit in. There’s… something wrong with you. Everyone can see it.” 

Tucker cleared his throat and said, “That’s not evidence, Agent. I think we both know that.”

Dolls only smiled at him, unfazed. “So, you’re not denying it then? That you’re creepy? That you’re a peeping tom who stares too long at girls? Who snaps pics of girls under their skirts? Who gets off watching underage porn? Who wants to rape a girl so bad but just isn’t smart enough to be a criminal? Who watches other guys do the hard stuff for you?” 

Tucker’s eyebrow flinched and he sniffled as he leaned up in his chair. “I’m not very impressed, Agent Dolls. Is that what they taught you at Quantico?” 

Dolls laughed and said, “Good one. I’m sure Mason and the others think you’re a ham. Do they use you as entertainment? The little boy with such big dreams to make fun of?” 

“Mmm, you like being all tough guy, huh? I’m sure that confidence is completely real. I’m being sarcastic, can you tell, Agent Dolls? I think you judge others because there are parts of you that are more twisted and deviant. Tell me, are there any times where you just want to put your big, muscular hand on top of your partner’s ass and sq—”

Dolls growled and stood up, staring at him straight in the face. “ I think you haven’t even had sex, am I right? Maybe you’ve gotten a few touches in, but the girls always scream before you get more, right?” 

Tucker laughed and said, “I get more than you do. Whenever I want. Sometimes it’s the connections that get you laid, Agent Dolls.”

“Is Mason Kohlhepp that connection?” 

Tucker opened his mouth and then closed it. He wagged a finger in front of Dolls and said, “Dirty trick, Agent Dolls. Dirty indeed. You know, I’m a little parched. And hungry. Maybe you can send that partner of yours in. Maybe I can get a little of that ass if you can’t. Wynonna Earp, the town whore. Such a shame she won’t even let you fuck her.” 

Dolls was restraining himself, I could tell. Which was odd. Normally he wouldn’t have cared if someone spoke about me in that way. He was happy to call me a slut when we first met and didn’t mind it when predators leaned in for a sniff during interviews. But now, he was pissed off. And it was ruining the interview. 

He seemed to know that because he suddenly left the room and stormed away before I could say something to him. Passed the glass, Tucker was grinning. He knew he won that round. 

“Son of a bitch,” I muttered and rubbed my temples, not knowing where to go with that. “Dolls didn’t have control in there. If we went in it would be giving him what he wants. We can’t do that.”

Haught stared at me with confusion and anger. She wasn’t used to this kind of interrogation. Then again, with what just happened in there, I wasn’t used to it either. 

“Should we go get him?”

“No,” I told her immediately. “Let him cool down. This case is getting to everyone.”

She didn’t like that answer. “Earp, the time. At this very moment, she’s… in danger.” 

I glared at her. “You think I don’t know that Haught? I’m doing the best I can right now! Listen, this is our torture too. He won’t just kill her now. He’d take his time. To force our hands.” 

“I’m sorry if the fact that he’s taking his time to torture her doesn’t make me feel better,” She retorted angrily, and rightfully so. She was scared out of her mind. 

Someone needed to be calm. Someone needed to be in their right mind. Jesus fucking Christ, it just had to be me. I put my hand on her arm, trying to comfort her. 

“We’re going to get her, Nicole. She’s tough. And so are we. We’re going to crack that little rat and catch Kohlhepp and the others. And then we’ll have Waverly back into your arms in no time.” 

Her eyes widened and she truly gasped at me. If the situation wasn’t so dire I might have laughed. She was like a deer caught in headlights. She couldn’t believe my words.

“You… know?” 

I sighed and nodded. “I realized a few hours ago. It’s fine, Haught. I’m not going to fight you, or anything. At least not for this. Out of anyone in this town, I’m glad she has you. She deserves someone like you. And you… nevermind. Let’s just focus on getting our girl back, okay?” 

She nodded desperately, glad that I wasn’t upset, and seemed to have calmed herself down. Thank god. This was our least important problem. In the grand scheme of things, my short time sex-buddy being in love with my sister wasn’t that big of a deal. It might even be a funny story in the future.

“Listen, Haught. You’re right. We can’t waste time. I’m going to find Dolls and you go see if Jeremy has found anything on Tucker. See if we can arrest him on anything. That might get him to talk if it looks like he can negotiate.” 

She seemed surprised that I changed my mind. I’m stubborn, sure, but not stupid. Wasting time was the last thing we could do and Haught was right about that. I made the ‘go away’ motion with my hands and she left. 

I searched high and low for Dolls but realized that he was in the last place he thought I would go into. Weighing my options, I ended up just entering the men’s room. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been in one before. 

“Yo, Dolls!” I called out to the closed stall, scaring some deputy taking a piss at a urinal. He screeched and I put my hands up. “Sorry, man. I’m just here for my partner. Who’s hiding .” 

“Earp, what the hell?” Dolls asked with obvious annoyance in his voice when he opened the stall door and came out with his arms crossed. “Do you even understand the concept of boundaries?” 

“Nope,” I told him with a shrug and waved to the guy who zipped up his pants and ran out with a severe blush. Poor guy. I turned my attention back to Dolls who looked a little worse for wear. “What happened in there?” 

“He got under my skin a little,” Dolls said defensively, not looking at me completely. “But he won’t do it again.” 

I narrowed my eyes at him and pointed out, “You’ve never lost your cool like that. I mean, you did when you punched Cryderman but… what’s going on?”

“Nothing, Earp,” he replied and started walking toward the door as I quickly stood in front of it like a wall and he sighed, “Come on, Earp. We have work to do.” 

“We’re not getting out of here until you tell me what’s up with you. Because ‘nothing’ just ain’t cutting it. Spill, Dolls.”

He looked mad. He ran his hand over is head anxiously and started pacing the room. Something was wrong. I could feel it in my gut. Things had been off for a while.

Some asshole tried to open the door and I shouted, “Ocupado, dingus! Try again later!” 

Dolls stared at me and said, “Why can’t you let this go? We have a case to solve. We have your sister to find.” 

He was trying to guilt me . Oh, buddy. He was in for it. I walked over to him and pushed him to the wall. He needed a little reminder of what our dynamic was like. 

“Do you think I forgot about my sister, Agent Dolls? Do you think I don’t want to find her with every fiber of my being? I need  her to be okay. Fucking hell, if she’s not okay, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. So please, don’t remind me of what needs to be accomplished, ass. And if anything, you need to figure out what’s wrong with you . That wasn’t you in that interrogation room. What happened?” 

Dolls gulped, looking ashamed with himself. He looked away and admitted, “I couldn’t stand how he was talking about you.” 

I snorted and rolled my eyes, not believing him in the slightest. “UnSubs have talked about me like that for years. You’ve talked to my pimp before. You thought I was street trash too at one point.”

His face twitched and he retorted angrily, “I was wrong. I didn’t know you.” 

“Oh, so now you know me? Now you won’t let me fight my own battles? Do you see me as weak or something?” He was getting on my nerves and wasn’t giving me any answers.

He growled and shook his head. “You’re the opposite of weak, Earp. We both know it.”

I waved my hands up in surrender and asked, “Well, then what the fuck is it? If he said the same thing about Haught, which he will, will you have the same reaction?” 

He wiped the sweat off his forehead and answered, “No. Of course not.”

Why? ” I didn’t understand him at all. I couldn’t see the difference. 

“Goddammit, Earp!” He yelled and moved away from me and banged his hand onto the sink. “Because I don’t care about her !” 

He finally looked at me with wild and apologetic eyes. Like he confessed something like a sin. Something he was morally against. Caring for me. Jesus Christ. I could barely believe it. He was waiting for a reaction, but I didn’t give him any. So, he just left. And I had no idea where we stood. 

Dolls returned to the interrogation room with a pitcher of warm water and a dusty old cup. Tucker looked at it and laughed. He seemed to understand what it meant. He wouldn’t get anything nice until he gave some answers. 

“Thank you, Agent Dolls. I bet it was very difficult for you to get that for me.” He poured himself some water and drank it, smiling at him when he was finished. “You know, I’m surprised. For a man as tough as you, you’re very touchy about your partner. Do you have--” 

“We spoke to your parents,” Dolls lied without any problem. “They think something’s wrong with you too. They asked that we take care of you privately . They don’t seem to care if you’re locked up for life, there, Tucker. They just don’t want it to be publicized.” 

I smirked as I watched Tucker frown absentmindedly. Dolls was always a good liar and seemed to have convinced him that it was the truth. By now, I learned the difference between him telling a lie and a fact. Which made what he told me in the bathroom that much more confusing since he was telling the truth. 

“My parents don’t know anything about me. They’re idiots, unlike my grandfather. Now he, he was a man.” 

I felt my heart race. Tucker was referring to Walter Gardner, who was once upon a time a part of The Three. 

“What made your grandfather so different?” Dolls asked him. 

“He understood women. How they needed to be submissive. And how men should get to choose whatever woman they wanted. My parents didn’t understand that. They hated each other. My dad couldn’t get my mother to obey him. And my sisters… they’re little bitches.” 

Dolls crossed his arms and asked, “Do you hate women because they don’t find you attractive? Or are you impotent?” 

Tucker slammed on the table and yelled, “I’m not impotent!” 

“Does Mason gloat about his sexual experiences?” Dolls questioned with superiority. “Does it make you angry?” 

Tucker rolled his eyes and answered, “Mason’s not as macho as he thinks he is.” 

“Is it because you do all the work? You all find the girls and make sure there’s no evidence left behind and you clean it all up. Why is it that he gets all the fun? Is that very fair?” 

Dolls was getting to him, finally. Tucker was starting to shake and twitch. All Dolls needed to do was seal the deal. Convince Tucker that Kohlhepp didn’t care about him and that he should give up where he was. 

“Earp!” Haught shouted as she came down the hallway with a look of relief in her eyes. “We got Gardner!” 

“What did Jeremy find?” I asked her once approached me with a list in her hands. 

“He found Walter Gardner’s journal where he wrote down all the methods of torture they used on their victims and Tucker’s journal where he tried to do the same thing. But he’s an idiot. He actually wrote down the names of the girls instead of using code as Walter did. And he barely hid the paralysis drug that he had that was used on the girls. Even Nedley thinks this is enough to get him.” 

I grinned at her and said, “God bless Jeremy Chetri. Anything else you find that could crack this guy?” 

Haught’s face faltered for a second before she answered, “He had a shrine in his closet. Of… of Waverly.” 

I pushed the vomit down and told her, “That’s exactly what I need.” 

Ignoring her looks of confusion, I walked passed her and entered the interrogation room, slamming the door purposefully. It made Tucker jump. 

“You’re obsessed with her, aren’t you, Tucker? You’re obsessed with my sister.” 

Tucker pushed his glasses on his nose and said, “I’m in love with Waverly Earp.” 

I tried to ignore my own disgust before replying, “We both know that he’s with her. And that he’ll kill her without feeling any remorse.” 

A switch seemed to turn on. Tucker put his head into his hands and began to rock slowly. As much as I couldn’t believe he was in love with her, he was worried about her. On some messed up level. 

“You picked her up,” Dolls added, understanding where I was going with this. “You picked her up and made sure that she didn’t even have a bruise on her when you gave her to him. But he didn’t care if she got hurt or not. Did he promise you that he wouldn’t hurt her if you kept silent?” 

Tucker looked up, red-eyed, and answered, “I wouldn’t let anything happen to her!” 

“I know you wouldn’t,” I lied as I opened the file Dolls had and passed him pictures of dead and mutilated girls. “But Mason would. He cares more about the kill than he does you.” 

He sobbed, “He can’t kill her! She’s… she’s mine!” 

“Then tell us where he is, Tucker. Save her life!” 

“They’re in a warehouse!” Tucker cried out, snot running down into his mouth as he wept. “Right outside town. The one that was the old shoemaking building. But there’s something that you don’t know.” 

“What is it?” I asked him, uncertain of what he was talking about. 

“Mason was the leader for a while. But he’s not anymore.” 

Dolls and I looked at each other with the same confusion and he asked, “What do you mean? 

“There’s some new guy who’s been in control. His name’s Garrett. Garrett Hayes, I think.”

I felt my heart drop into my ass. He was telling the truth. As happy as I was that we were going to find Waverly, I knew what it meant for Garrett to be here in Purgatory. This was personal. This was about me. 

“I don’t want to think about him, you know?” I said it as if she could possibly understand as she lightly brushed her fingertips along my arm. “Dolls thinks I can just pull information about him from my ass, but I just… can’t.” 

“He emotionally abused you for years, baby, of course it’s hard to think about him. I can’t even imagine what you went through…” She shuddered at the thought. 

I hadn’t told her and Dolls everything that had happened. Not the drugs he forced me to test or the sex I had to give or his sweet promises. Garrett made me feel alive and dead at once and I didn’t want to relive that feeling. He controlled me and I hated that. I wanted to catch him on my own. I didn't want them to understand him. 

Eliza sighed and kissed my shoulder. “And Dolls doesn’t understand most human emotions, wolf. Don’t let it get to you. He thinks everyone is as emotionally detached as he is about everything. I’ll talk to him, alright?” 

“He hates me, fox,” I pouted and rolled over in the bed so that I could wrap my arms around her. “Did you see his face when Lucado said I was going to stay with this team?” 

“He will get used to it, babe. He just wants to find the guy. Almost as much as me. That way you can be free.” 

Free. It didn’t seem real. I hadn’t been free ever since I met him. Not even when I put away my pimp or got a badge. Garrett was angry at what I did. How I crashed his organization and made him go into hiding. I knew he was just waiting now. 

“I love you, Wynonna. When he’s gone, it’ll just be you and me. I’m going to get him for us.” 

I couldn’t say those words back and she didn’t seem to mind. She only kissed me again and whispered pretty things into my ear before I fell asleep. 

Chapter Text

Nosy Haught asked question after question about Garrett Hayes and his connection to me and BBD. I understood why she was interested (she felt left out of important information) but Dolls and I were both uncomfortable answering her never-ending questions. He didn’t want to answer because he didn’t want to admit that after these few years we still hadn’t caught him (after receiving proof that he escaped to Bolivia). I didn’t want to answer because I didn’t want to admit the kind of hold he had on me for the two years he practically kept me hostage as his own personal sex slave. Besides, what our focus should have been on was the warehouse. The ride over was excruciating and I just wanted to scream every time Haught asked a fucking question. 

“So this is because of you?” 

“Yes,” I answered furiously. 

“I don’t mean to blame you. I just… he must be obsessed with you.” 

“I guess,” I muttered and tried to stare out the window to calm myself down and reassure myself that I wasn’t going to find a bloodbath like I did with Eliza. 

“This isn’t just because of Wynonna,” Dolls stated firmly, but with caution. “Our whole division tried to stop him. He’s a crime boss, Haught. Sure, with Earp it was personal. But he did things that had nothing to do with her.” 

Haught nodded, understanding that, but still asked, “What’s he capable of?” 

Honestly, I blurted, “Cold fucking murder.” 

It was stupid, I knew that. It obviously made Haught on edge, but I couldn’t help it. She needed to know how dire the situation was without me having to explain what happened to Eliza and the games that he played with my mind. 

Dolls called in the big guns. SWAT. That was Dolls’ thing. He was good at the whole ‘tactical’ and ‘mission’ stuff. Me, I was just ready to fire away until I got to Waverly. Some SWAT dude used a small camera on a wire to see the inside of the building. The camera only picked up on three people. The heat sensor detected five. One being my sister. 

“This is our raid,” Dolls explained with an edge to his voice, trying to show off his authority and masculinity. “You all will take care of the entry where the three suspects are. There’s a hostage in there not seen by the camera. That’s the priority. We keep her safe. Once you have the three taken care of, my team will come in and find the hostage and release her from her captor. He’ll most likely have a weapon, but we have vests on and enough firearms. Is this totally clear?” 

One asshole attempted to disagree with him, but Dolls pulled rank and shut the guy up. I would have smiled if things weren’t so… 

SWAT went in with basically a smoke bomb. We could hear some shouting and gunfire, but the event was short and ended up with three arrests and only one of them being seriously injured. SWAT confirmed that there was a locked door and the sound of a woman screaming and crying behind it. Luckily, they let us take care of it. 

Haught hadn’t done this before. We were reluctant to let her go in with us, but she made it clear she would go in, even if it was against direct orders. We were about to go in when I saw in the corner of my eye Mason Kohlhepp grinning. I knew at that moment that we were out of time. 

The three of us raced into the building and stopped at the locked door. We all looked at each other, nodded, and Dolls kicked down the door. I felt the air knocked out of my body. I saw Waverly, which should have been a relief, but she was being held up by him. A knife to her throat. 

Our guns were aimed at him immediately and he just laughed. Waverly was sobbing, pleading, sounding so incredibly scared. For the first time in a long time, I felt scared too. This all felt… too familiar.

“Let her go, Garrett,” I begged shakily, needing for him to drop the knife. Need was throbbing deep in my chest. I needed for him to drop it. 

“She’s a beaut, Wynonna,” Garrett told me with a smile that at one point would have had me on my knees. “You never told me that your sister was so…” He sniffed her hair and she whimpered. “Edible.” 

“Drop the knife you bastard!” I yelled at him, my hands starting to shake. “This is about me and you. This has nothing to do with her!” 

“She didn’t know about me!” He commented as if he was amused and tilted his head to the side. “I’m truly hurt, baby. She didn’t know about our little love story. How you worshipped me. You used to be mine, Wynonna. What did I do to deserve your betrayal?” 

Disgusted, I turned my attention back to my sister. Tears falling, I told her, “Baby girl. I’m so sorry. This is my fault.” 

Waverly attempted to shake her head but the knife cut into her neck. “It’s okay, Wynonna. Just… just get him away from me.” 

I looked back at Garrett and said, “Please, let us switch. Put the knife on my neck. She doesn’t deserve this. I do. I’m the one who betrayed you like you said.” 

“I know you, Wynonna, remember?” Garrett asked me and gripped Waverly tighter. “I know that killing her would do so much more damage to you than if I killed you. Fuck, you’d probably thank me if I killed you. You always had a death wish.” 

“Drop your weapon, Hayes,” Dolls commanded calmly. “Or I will put a bullet in between your eyes faster than you could drop it.” 

Garrett laughed and responded, “Are you her new beau? Wynonna’s a fiery one, isn’t she? Not many can handle her as I did. That poor girl, what was her name, Eliza, was it? She couldn’t take the heat.” 

At the mention of Eliza, I knew what to do. I held my weapon tighter and yelled, “You either drop it, Garrett. Or I swear to god, you won’t smile ever again.” 

“You love me, Wynonna. You wouldn’t shoot me. At one point, you’d kill someone else for me. You’re weak and--” 

I pulled the trigger. There were screams and blurry movement. His body fell to the floor and the blood oozed out of his head that was now splattered in pieces. 

My vision faded but I saw the red hair move and the brunette hair entangle itself with hers. She was safe. And that was what mattered. 

Dolls called my name, I think, but I couldn’t hear it. I felt my body sink to the floor as I watched the red expand and the ringing of the gunshot fill my ears. 

Willa was screaming. I didn’t move a muscle. Sometimes this happened when daddy was really drunk. Ever since mama left, Willa was the one who screamed. She warned me to stay silent when it happened. After she screamed for hours, she’d come into my bed and hold me tight. 

“It’s gonna be alright,” She would promise me and kiss my forehead. “Daddy can’t control us forever.” 

I believed her. It’s how I never got between them. Hope stopped me from trying to get our dad away from her. 

Waverly was playing with her dolls, ignoring every sound that vibrated through the walls. She never knew what the screams meant. She didn’t know what daddy was doing to Willa. We didn’t let her. With tears in my eyes, I watched as my younger sister dressed the doll up and showed me excitedly how much nicer she looked with her hair in a ponytail. 

The blood-curdling screams were what caught me off guard. Daddy was cruel, but he made sure that Willa wasn’t visibly hurt. He didn’t want the town to know what he was doing after he had one too many. 

“Baby girl, I’m going to go get us a snack,” I lied to my sister, knowing something was off. I just needed to check on her. Just to make sure. 

Waverly nodded excitedly and I got up. I locked the door behind me so that Waverly couldn’t come out. She didn’t need to see what was happening. And Waverly tended to follow me around. 

The front door was wide open and daddy’s gun was on a shelf near the door. I didn’t know why, but I grabbed it. Just in case. My fingers seemed too small and the gun was really heavy, but I didn’t drop it. I just carried it to the sounds that made me shudder. 

They were a few feet away from the porch and daddy’s hands were wrapped around Willa’s neck. I felt my body tense up with fear. Willa. 

Her eyes found mine and I could swear she was trying to tell me that it was alright. That I should go back to Waverly and pretend like nothing was happening. But her face was becoming blue and daddy was just getting angrier, spewing curses at her face. I thought he was going to kill her. And she was Willa. My Willa. 

I just wanted to scare him. I just wanted him to let go. I wanted him to wrap his hands around my neck. Anything but this. I fired the gun and watched as the bullet entered his neck and then left it. Daddy looked at me for a second before his eyes changed direction and his body fell to the ground. I dropped the gun and heard Willa scream again. 

I wanted Willa to tell me it was going to be okay, but all she was doing was trying to stop the bleeding. He was dead and she was crying. She told him she loved him and was sorry. I didn’t want to be sorry. I saved her life. 


Her face spattered with his blood looked at me and all I saw in her eyes was horror. 

I blinked again and I was standing. Dolls had his hands on my cheeks, repeating over and over again if I was okay. Finally, I nodded and looked around for my sister. She was nowhere to be seen. 


“Haught took her to the medic,” He explained and tried to find my eyes, but I wouldn’t let him. “Waverly’s going to be fine, Wynonna. She’s on her way to the hospital. We can go right now--” 

“He’s dead.” I didn’t know if I meant it as a statement or a question. 

“Yes. Don’t look at him, Earp. He’s a monster. He’s not worth your pain, alright?” He tried to force my head toward him again. “You did what you had to do. Don’t you dare look at him, Earp. Look at me. We’re going to the hospital. Jeremy’s going to meet us there, okay?” 

I forced myself to move away so that I could vomit. Like he did before, he pulled my hair back and reassured me that everything was over and that I did good. I saved my sister. 

I wiped my mouth and whispered, “She’s never going to be the same. I know what…” I trailed off, meaning to say, I know what it’s like

He seemed to know anyway. “She has you, now. You’re going to help her through this. She has a support system to help her through this.” 

“I don’t want her to be like me. That’s why I left. That’s why…” 

He pulled me into an embrace and held my head to his neck. He was warm. He wanted me to be okay. I cried into his shirt and felt myself unfold in front of him. I was falling apart and he was doing all that he could to keep me together. 

“Come on, Earp. Let’s go see your sister, okay? We can do it together. Me and you.” 

Him and me. As shitty as everything was, that sounded good. 


I hated hospitals. I remembered going to see daddy’s mom when she was dying of cancer. He forced us to crawl into her hospital bed and hold this dying woman we had never met before who smelled of ash and urine. I remembered Willa trying to fight him on it and him yelling at mama for not teaching us respect. And then she died and I didn’t know what to feel. She was my grandmother, but part of me detested her. 

Jeremy met us in the waiting room before we headed to her room. He explained how the three of The Seven were already booked and began confessing. They were trying to blame it all on Hayes. He reassured me that they had enough evidence to put them all away. There were clear records and descriptions of every type of torture they all inflicted on the girls. 

The teacher was dead. Three students had been arrested. The last student, Mark Palka, had committed suicide by cop a week ago. Kohlhepp, a past teacher, would rot in a cell forever. And Cryderman… his death was imminent. It should have been a satisfying ending to The Seven. It should have been. 

“Is there anything I can do, Wynonna?” He asked me, worry drowned in his voice like a true, caring friend that I spent so much time denying. 

“You did so much here, Jeremy,” I told him sincerely. “I couldn’t thank you enough. I understand if you wanted to get back to DC, though. This case has been long and--” 

“I’ll stay for as long as you both are here,” Jeremy stated warmly. “We’re a team. We’re here for each other. You’re my… you’re my family.” 

He looked at me with uncertainty, like he thought I’d scoff or yell at him. I seemed to have surprised both of us when I pulled him into a hug and thanked him profusely. I promised him a weekend of binge-watching a show to make up for it. He was so excited that I put a hand on his shoulder and told him that somethings don’t ever change. 

Both Dolls and Jeremy offered to go into the room with me, but I declined them. Some things I just had to do alone. 

The hallway was bleak and yellow. I ignored the chaos and chatter of the staff and tried to just take it one step at a time. My heart seemed to almost stop when I reached the door. I heard Haught’s voice calling to me from inside and I went in. 

She looked lifeless on the bed. Her eyes were shut and her body was pale. I gripped the side of the door frame and almost toppled over. 

“She’s just sedated, Earp,” Haught announced and rushed to my side. “She’s alive. It’s okay, she’s okay. The doctor should come back at any moment. Just come sit down with me.” 

I felt my heart start again and I slowly trudged my way to one of the two chairs at the side of the bed. I grabbed my sister’s hand and kissed it, tears falling down my cheeks without any promise of ever stopping. 

“Did the doctors say what’s wrong?” I asked Haught, afraid of the answer. 

Nicole sniffled and answered, “She’s exhausted. That’s why they sedated her. She’s also severely dehydrated and pumping her up with fluids. Has some bruises on her abdomen. But nothing else.” 

I turned to look at the redhead with shock. I couldn’t believe her. 

“Nothing else?” 

“They checked, Wynonna. Obviously, they still could have done things but… physically, she’ll recover quickly. Doctors think we can bring her home tomorrow. They called Gus and Curtis. They’re on their way.” 

Fuck. I forgot that I had to explain what happened to their girl to them. Shakily, I leaned forward and kissed her forehead like Willa used to for me. 

“I’m so sorry, baby girl. This is all my fault. I should have been there for you. I should have… I shouldn’t have left you. I have been the worst sister. Barely a sister at all.” 

“No, Wynonna,” Nicole argued with an edge to her voice. “She already said it wasn’t your fault. And she’d hate it if you were blaming yourself. I don’t know what happened to you exactly. But Garrett Hayes is a monster. And all the blame is on him. You saved her, Wynonna.” 

I shook my head. I didn’t feel like I saved her. 

“I let Garrett into my life,” I confessed and put my head into my hands. “I let him into every ounce of my life and my body and then betrayed him so that I didn’t go to prison. It’s my fault he came after Waverly. Just as it’s my fault he killed Eliza.” 

Haught put her hand on my back and rubbed it before saying, “She’s the woman that you… she must have meant a lot to you. I’m sorry.” 

“The way you look at my sister,” I told her and leaned up so I could face her. “Reminds me of the way she used to look at me. Thank you, Haught. Nicole . For being here. For loving her. If I had friends, you might be my best one yet.” 

She snorted and asked, “What about Dolls?” 

That was the million-dollar question. What about Dolls? I didn’t know what he was. All I knew was that I really needed to sort that out later. Much later. After I had lots and lots of coffee. 

“It’s fine, Haught. We don’t have to be best friends. Do you know how happy it would make her, though?” 

Nicole laughed and smiled. “She would love that. I’m so lucky to have her, you know? I always thought she was out of reach. The town sweetheart. And I’m… nothing.” 

I rolled my eyes a bit at the self-deprecation and said, “She’s got Earp in her, Haughty. She wouldn’t settle for anything ordinary. And you certainly aren’t that.”

“Thanks, Ea--” 

“Promise me you’ll take care of her,” I interrupted without any casualness. “When she wakes up, promise me that she’s in good hands and that you won’t leave her.” 

Nicole’s eyes softened and she took my hand. “I would never leave her. I promise you, Earp. You couldn’t even pry me away.” 

I chuckled lightly and jumped at the noise at the door. Gus and Curtis were staring at their niece, their daughter practically, and the poor woman started crying on his shoulder. 

“She’s okay,” I stated as quickly as I could as both Haught and I stood up. “Physically at least. She’s on sedatives.”

“She’ll wake up soon,” Haught added with a tight smile. 

Gus, who seemed to be seeing red, turned to me and asked in a hushed voice, “What the hell did you do, Wynonna?”

Curtis put his hand on her arm and muttered, “Gus--” 

“No, Curtis. She’s here for a few days and her younger sister is taken by some monster. Now, I don’t find that as just some coincidence. Did you put her on the case? Did you put her in danger?” 

Haught flashed me a worried glance and I gulped. Much like always, Gus voiced the self-hatred in my head. That was why we could never get along. But I wasn’t going to cower away. I wasn’t going to deny my involvement. I wasn’t a child anymore afraid of spilling my darkest secrets. They already hated me. Might as well them know the truth now. 

“I did,” I confessed and let the tears start to fall again. “Waverly wouldn’t stop digging into the case and I let her. I tried to stop her for a while but she’s… she’s stubborn. But this had nothing to do with her hard work or being on the case with me. This has to do with a creep named Tucker Gardner and his unhealthy obsession with her and a man who had a personal grudge against me. But yes, she was taken because of me.” 

Gus gripped Curtis tighter and they both approached their niece's bed. Curtis leaned over and kissed her forehead and Gus held onto her hand. I broke their hearts and I felt myself tear up inside. 

“I’m so sorry, you know. Not just about what happened to Waverly but… all of it. None of you deserved my horrible behavior. And how I left… I’m so sorry. If I hadn’t left, this wouldn’t have happened. And I… I’ll regret what I did for the rest of my life. You both did what you could with me and I… I don’t deserve any of you.” 

Curtis opened his mouth to say something but then he closed it. Gus just nodded. I knew what that meant. They agreed with me. 

I turned to Haught and said, “I’ll be outside. If she wakes up…” 

“I’ll come get you immediately,” She reassured me with the most forced smile she could muster. 

I nodded gratefully and with one last look at my sister in the hospital bed, I left the room.


Chapter Text

My legs were shaking and time seemed to move slower than I thought possible. Dolls and Jeremy kept updating me with confessions and evidence found at the warehouse. They told me about their call to Lucado who ended up yelling at them and threatening to fire all of us if we didn’t return another phone call. They thought that they were keeping me occupied, but I could barely think about anything but my sister. 

Minutes turned into hours and I felt so drowsy and unable to do anything. When I wasn’t thinking about Waverly, I was thinking about Eliza and how she would have reacted to what I just did. Eliza was a badass, but her goal was always to save people. To save everyone, even the deadliest of killers. 

Eliza was the first person to genuinely care about me after Waverly. I left the homestead thinking I’d never get close to someone again. Homelessness and starvation shook that out of me. For a while, I wanted to be with anyone for a little warmth and food. Even Garrett Hayes. I was arrested for drug possession, prostitution, and my connections through the criminal channel. I thought helping BBD would just be a means to an end. I thought it would be meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I thought I’d just end up leaving and running as far as my legs would take me. And then I was offered a job and took it. Eliza asked me to. 

She was a Fed, but she didn’t look at me like I was trash and didn’t treat me like some street rat. She helped me get clean and explained to me why BBD mattered. She told me that she saw the good in me. That was new.

We didn’t get together quickly. It took a year before she finally convinced me to even go to her apartment. We never really dated. We just spent all of our extra time together. I was afraid of what I’d do to her. But every time I saw her smile or heard her laugh, all my worries were washed away and I just wanted to be with her. But I couldn’t keep her safe. Just like I couldn’t with Waverly. 

At some point, I just had to admit to myself that something was wrong with me. Why else would everyone I loved die or runaway? It was the only answer I had. The only thing that could make sense. Because if I wasn’t wrong, then I had the worst luck. And that would be almost worse. 

“It was an accident!” I shouted at my sister and watched the blood pool out of him. “I just wanted to scare him.” 

“He’s dead, Wyn. You killed him.” 

Her eyes were angry and that was when I started to shake. It was my fault. My fault. My fault. 

“H-he was gonna kill you,” I whispered and looked at my own hands, afraid of what they were capable of. 

“No,” she disagreed. “He wasn’t. He was just trying to discipline me. God, Wynonna! They’re gonna lock you away for what you did.” 

I didn’t want to be locked up. I was too young. I didn’t want to have to leave Willa or Waverly. 

“Help me!” I begged my older sister. “I tried to save you. I thought… I thought I was doing the right thing!” 

She wiped the blood on her face off with her sleeve, barely getting any of it off. She was still staring at daddy and I was still staring at her. I needed someone to tell me what to do. 

Willa finally turned to look at me and she said, “You killed daddy. Because you were trying to kill his attacker. One man was holding daddy and the other was holding me. You tried to kill the attacker and the bullet hit daddy. When you shot him, the attackers got scared and ran and took me with them. And you don’t know who they are or why they took me.” 

I didn’t understand. I didn’t know why we had to lie or why she thought this would save us.

"Why would I say you were taken? When would you come back?” 

She stared at me for a few seconds before she admitted, “I won’t be coming back.” 

I stood up abruptly, startling Dolls and Jeremy. I reassured them by telling them I was just going to go to the bathroom. I even gave them a short smile before I started moving. I walked down a hallway and found myself staring at the exit. It would have been so easy to just leave it all behind. I could start a new life in a new country and be someone else. I wanted to. 

But I kept walking down the hallway and found the bathroom. I poured water into my hands and dunked my face into it, just trying to calm down. The water was dripping when I looked up and found someone else staring back. My hair was oily, my face was red, my eyes were drooping. It reminded me of when I was first arrested and going through withdrawal. When I started this new life. With BBD and Dolls and… 

I slammed my hand onto the sink. I didn’t want to think about her. Not now, not ever again. I pounded my hands on the sink again. I wanted it all to stop. 

The sob came out of nowhere and I could hear their voices. Mama’s, daddy’s, Willa’s, Eliza’s, Waverly’s. Echoing in and out of my head as the crying took control of my body. I was no longer in charge. 

I fell to the floor and clung to the ground, hoping for steadiness. The world was still moving. I was still shaking. I crawled into a stall and threw up. I felt a little better; the room was no longer spinning but I felt weaker. And I was still crying. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop. I hit my head. Over and over. Nothing stopped the crying. I was nothing. 

There was a voice. And a hand. I tried to move away, I tried to not touch him. I didn’t want to hurt him. He didn’t let go. He put his arms around me and picked me up. He only walked a few steps and then sat down, my body in his arms, gripping his shirt. He was rocking me slightly and I felt my body fall into the rhythm. 

Slowly, my eyes found the darkness and I could finally fall into it. 

Someone was shaking me awake. I opened my eyes and felt warm and okay. I tried to move and realized I was being held. I looked around and noticed I was in the waiting room. Jeremy was reading a magazine and Nicole was standing in front of me. Of us. 

I stretched and got out of Dolls’ embrace. I rubbed my eyes and looked at the clock. Three hours had passed. 

“Waverly’s awake,” Nicole announced and gave me this concerned look. I hoped that Dolls hadn’t told her what happened in the bathroom. “Are you okay?” 

“I’m fine, Haught-shot. Thanks for letting me know.” I stood up and tried to not fall over. My body felt empty without any fluids or food. But I walked. I needed to see my sister. 

I could hear her voice a few feet away and I almost toppled over at the sound. Haught had her hands out, ready to catch me if I was going to fall. I sent a glare her direction and she put her hands up in surrender. 

Waverly's voice was strong and upbeat and I wondered if she was pretending to be okay for the sake of my aunt and uncle. We came into the tight room and Waverly lit up. I wasn’t surprised that she was already munching on some jello. 

“You look like crap, Wynonna.” 

I snorted and shook my head. “My sister. Always the ham. I think you need a mirror, baby girl. You’re the one in the hospital. How are you feeling?” 

Waverly smiled and answered, “Better. All my favorite people are in one room.” She reached over and grabbed Nicole’s hand and I noticed the shared look between Gus and Curtis and wondered if they were just told about their… relationship. 

“You big flirt,” I muttered and crossed my arms awkwardly. “I’m serious. How are you doing? Physically and emotionally?” 

Waverly sighed and admitted, “My stomach hurts a little. And my throat’s a little sore. He didn’t do anything to me, Wynonna. I swear.” 

I didn’t know if I believed her. I hoped that she wasn’t too traumatized to have blocked it out. Nothing was worse than recovering memories later in life. 

“I’m so sorry, baby girl.” 

She tilted her head and frowned. “Are you kidding me, Wynonna? All I had to deal with was his horrible stories. The knife on the throat wasn’t great but it was nothing compared to what he did to you…” 

“What do you mean?” Gus intercepted as she stood up and stared at me. “What did he do to you? Who is this man?” 

I took a deep breath. It was time to be honest with my family and own my mistakes. Because maybe if I had told the truth all those years ago about how daddy died and didn’t let the reality suffocate and change me, I wouldn’t have acted out and left. Maybe I wouldn’t have met Garrett Hayes and let him destroy my life and kill a woman I loved. 

“When I left all those years ago, I thought it was the best decision for everyone. I couldn’t control my thoughts or behavior and I thought that the only thing I could do for all of us was just leave. I went to Austin, Texas first. On the outskirts, I befriended a biker gang. They were too intense, even for me. Good people, mostly. But I couldn’t fit in. After a few months, I headed to Philly and got a job there bartending at this fancy bar. I’ve always looked older than I really was. When they realized I was only almost nineteen, they fired me. That night, at a local bar, I saw the band The Vaccines perform. I followed them around for a while and they let me hang with the groupies. But then they had to go back to London after their tour that ended in Miami. That was it for me. All I had left were the streets. I guess I didn't have a home for maybe a year or so. I was in and out of shelters and stranger’s couches. Garrett Hayes offered me a home. I accepted without even thinking. 

“I didn’t know what I got into immediately. His home was clean, unsuspecting. He told me about his family and his life and I thought I had come across the epitome of good. And then he introduced me to drugs. A lot of them. And then he started introducing me to people that I thought were his friends. One of his ‘friends’ bought me. So, I had to split time with them. And they started dragging me into illegal activities. I couldn’t leave. They had my drugs and evidence of all the shit I did for them. 

“I was then arrested and BBD, the division I work for now, had me turn on my… my... the other guy. And I decided to tell them about Hayes. I betrayed him. He had to go into hiding and I got a badge. He lost his world and I found mine. He lost me and I fell in love. We were close to getting him once. And then my girlfriend was found dead and he slipped between our fingers. And here we are today. He knew I’d come back for a case. He just wanted revenge. And Waverly got in the middle of it.” 

Haught was looking down, not seeming to know what to say or do. I couldn’t blame her. Curtis had tears running down his cheeks and I saw the exact kind of guilt that I didn’t want him to have. Gus cleared her throat and then left the room without any words. Not a surprise. 

Waverly tilted her head, sat up, and reached over to hug me. I wrapped my arms around the girl that I cared about the most in the world. 

“I’m alive, Wynonna. I’m alive and I’m okay. You caught him. You caught him.” She repeated those words over and over in my ear until I believed them. 

“I love you, baby girl. I missed you so much. Every day. I thought about what you were doing when I woke up and went to bed. You’re my world, Waves. I’m so sorry I left you behind.” 

She shook her head and wiped my tears as we pulled apart. She was smiling and I felt my whole body release with relief. She was here. We were together and nothing could tear us apart again. I would keep her safe for the rest of my days. 

“I would have loved to meet Eliza,” She whispered gently. “I would have loved to meet the girl who had your heart. I’m so sorry she’s not here.” 

“I’m just going to see my family, Wolfie,” She murmured and kissed my nose as she sat on my lap in our small chair in the hotel room. “I’m gone for just the weekend. It’ll go by so fast you won’t even notice I’m gone.” 

I shook my head and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I’ll notice.” 

She kissed my cheek and joked, “My poor baby. Maybe you can hang out with Dolls. He’s probably all alone this weekend too.” 

I glared at her and asked, “Do you have to go?” 

“My sister’s getting married. My family would disown me if I missed it. You can come with me on my next trip. They’ll love you.” 

She was being sweet but the idea terrified me. I had never met any parents. 

She noticed my intense anxiety and stated, “Cheer up, hot stuff. You’re looking pale. Turn that frown upside down. I’ll be back in a few days. And besides, Wolf. Even when I’m not right there by your side or in your bed, I’m always with you.”

“I’m sorry you never had the chance to meet her. She would have loved you. But I do think she’s here. Looking down. Being proud.” 

“I’m sure she is,” Waverly replied sincerely and pulled me into another hug. “I love you, big sis.” 

Curtis cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his thinning hair and stated, “Wy, can I speak with you for a second?” He was looking at the door and I knew that he wanted to speak to me about something that he didn’t want Waverly to hear. 

I nodded and blew my sister a kiss before following him out the door and to a corner where people weren’t chaotically rummaging around. 

He seemed like he was a little lost for words before he stuttered slightly, “Gus and I… w-we only wanted what was best for you. We were too tough on you. We had too high of expectations, I guess. We thought you needed tough love when what you really needed was love. This is our fault as much as it’s yours. We pushed you to him.” 

I stared at him blankly for a few seconds before I realized that he wasn’t blaming me for what happened to Waverly. He was apologizing. 

“I wish I didn’t leave,” I confessed to him, the words flowing out of my mouth with more honesty than I thought I could muster. “There was so much wrong with me, so much that was hurting me, so much fear that I’d hurt all of you, and I thought it was the best thing I could do. I was wrong. I should have talked to you. I missed you all so much.” 

Tears fell and he pulled me into a bear hug, one that I could only remember from a time before daddy died. He was always a better man than daddy, and I think I used to be bitter about that. He never laid a hand on any of us. And yet I still rebelled against authority, I still pushed him away. 

“I love you, Wynonna,” He said softly and held me tighter. “I missed you so much, too. We all did. I want you around as much as possible.” 

That reminded me that he was going to be gone in less than a year. My heart began to break again. I just found him and I knew at some point we were all going to lose him. It wasn’t fair. But at least I had some time with him, which was better than nothing. I could at least get to say goodbye, which was something I wasn’t used to. 

“But Gus--” 

“Gus will realize soon enough. I know that you got that job of yours, but you always have your old room. It’s still the same as it was all those years ago. Gus insisted on keeping it how it was.” 

Those words almost made me collapse. I always thought that Gus despised me for what I did and how I treated them. Our relationship was always tumultuous and on edge and I thought she’d be the first person to turn my room into a storage room. But she didn’t. And it gave me hope. 

Night had a particular sound. It was peaceful and calm. My window was open, I could hear everything. There was a serenity into what I was doing. 

I pulled my hair into a ponytail and checked to make sure that I had everything packed. A few granola bars, less than three-hundred dollars in cash, bathroom supplies, some jewelry to sell, and a few things that I couldn’t handle living without. 

Waverly was a few rooms away and I considered saying goodbye. But I knew how much harder it would be if I did. I didn’t know if I’d ever leave. 

With one last look, I took a deep breath and crawled out of my window. 

The stars were bright and I thought it was a sign. For a better tomorrow. A fresh start. And maybe a little hope that things would change and Waverly would have it better than I did. 

I walked across the field and tried to not cry. All I had to do was walk to the bus station. All I had to do was get on the bus. Easier said than done. 

Gus was pacing in front of the coffee machine. There was so much I felt like I needed to say to her, but I didn’t know where to even begin. Different versions of apologies ran through my head, but it was too late to think about them. She noticed I was there and stiffened. It was now or never. 

“I’m so sorry, Gus. I’ve been a dick.” 

It didn’t come out as elegant as I hoped, but it was honest. And maybe that was the best that I could do at the moment. 

She crossed her arms and agreed, “Yes, you have been. But I’ve been thinking… I have been too. Darlin’, I was so stubborn while you were growing up. I blamed your bad behavior on you just wanting to be bad and I didn’t think that there was somethin' wrong. I didn’t even think about how your daddy’s death could’ve affected you. I’ve had a grudge for so long. You left just like my sister left her kids and I hated you for it. If I knew what was going on in that head of yours… I’m so sorry.” 

I almost did a double-take. I had never heard that woman apologize to anyone in my entire life. And now she was saying it to me and I was almost speechless. 

“It’s my fault, Gus. All of it. There is so much I wish I could take back. Hell, I wish I just told you what was going on with me. I wish I was just honest about how I was feeling or about…” about what really happened to daddy . “I know I don’t deserve it. But I hope someday I can earn your forgiveness and--” 

“I forgive you, stupid,” She grumbled with an eye roll. “No need to be so dramatic. Of course I forgive you. I’m just ashamed it took me so long. The real question is if you forgive me. I’ve not been a saint in this situation.” 

“Being a saint is overrated,” I tried to joke to ease the tension. 

She snorted, “Sometimes I wonder how you became so much like me. Curtis used to say it all the time. You had more of me and your mama in you than anyone else.” 

Those words comforted me more than she could ever know. There was so much fear inside of me that I was like him. That I was capable of the same amount of damage that he caused. That I was just as broken. 

“I forgive you, too, Gus. I really do.” 

Our hug was brief but wasn’t lacking any emotion. I couldn’t even remember the last time we hugged. Neither of us were the type. But here we were. 

I felt lighter than I had since I was a child. Since before daddy died and mama ran away. There was a weight off my shoulders. I felt like it was easier to breathe, easier to live. I still had to make amends with Waverly. I would be making amends for the rest of my life. But I wasn’t afraid of it anymore. I needed to tell her everything. She deserved the truth. And I needed to face my demons, once and for all. 

Chapter Text

When I walked in on Waverly and Nicole smooching, I could only imagine that it wouldn’t be my last time doing it. I grimaced and watched them share a look of annoyance. As much as I hated seeing them all over each other (because ew, my little sister), it was pretty funny to see them all bothered and mad at me. 

“Oh, please. Continue putting your tongues into each other’s mouths. Don’t stop because of little ole me.” 

Haught rolled her eyes and ignored Waverly’s muffled laughter as the redhead stood up and announced that she needed to use the restroom and get some coffee. I think she must have known that I needed some time alone with my sister. Or she just needed to pee. Who am I, a mind reader?

“She really admires you, ya know?” Waverly mentioned as I scooted her to the side of her bed so that I could lay down next to her. “For a while, I thought she had feelings for you. I didn’t know that she just thought highly of you. And I definitely didn’t think she could have feelings for me.” 

I wasn’t aware of how much she knew about what Haught and I did in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t going to bring it up. Nicole wasn’t one to lie to her if she asked about it and I could only make it worse. 

“You were dating a shithead, Waves. It’s not like she could overtly flirt with you. But she’s certainly an upgrade. You seem really happy with her.” 

She smiled and nodded. “She sees me, you know? She’s not clingy, but she’s always there when I need her. I can be myself around her. I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else like I had to for Champ. She appreciates me.” 

“You deserve that,” I told her honestly. Knowing that she was taken care of certainly relieved me. “We’ve gone through a lot, baby girl. Fuck, there was a lot that happened to us that you don’t know about.” 

Waverly turned onto her side to look and me and asked, “What do you mean?” 

I took a deep breath and let it escape my mouth slowly. People said that confessing your sins felt good and freeing. I couldn’t imagine that to be completely true. Being completely honest… that was terrifying. The thought of losing Waverly right when I found her… the thought almost made me leave the room without saying anything. But she deserved the truth. And I needed atonement. 

“Daddy began drinking after mama had you, Waves. I don’t know why. I don’t know why he was so angry or why he took it out on mama. He hurt her, almost every night. Willa and I… we did everything we could to take care of you when she couldn’t. You were too young to notice and we just kept distracting you. Daddy didn’t touch us. Not until mama left.” 

Waverly had tears in her eyes and I could see the questions forming in her mind. Part of me didn’t want to continue. I didn’t want to break her heart. But I kept going.

“He mostly hit Willa. Not too bad at first. Willa told me that she was fine, that it was my job to protect you, and that she’d be okay. It gradually got worse. And you got older and it was harder to distract you from her screams. We would play when he was beating her so that you didn't know what was going on. Willa and I would dream of taking you and running to find mama. We wanted to run away from him. We probably should have. Fuck, we should have. Maybe things wouldn’t have… but we didn’t. And one day daddy was beating Willa bad. She started screaming differently. They were screams that I hadn’t heard before. They were the same ones that you had with Hayes.” 

She gasped a little and asked quietly (like she was afraid to voice her fears), “Did he kill her?” 

I shook my head rapidly and confessed, “He was about to. At least, I think that’s what he was going to do. That’s when I shot him. I didn’t mean to. But who the fuck knows. Maybe deep down I wanted him to die.” 

Waverly furrowed her eyebrows and questioned, “I thought… I thought two men attacked the house and took Willa with them when you came out? I thought you were aiming at attackers--” 

“Willa came up with that,” I interrupted so that she didn't get the wrong idea. “She didn’t want them to take me away. She didn’t want to have to explain herself and what daddy was doing. She wanted to run away. She wanted to get out.” 

“She’s just… around somewhere?” Waverly muttered, her voice sounding hurt and upset. 

“Yeah,” I admitted with some amount of shame for not telling her earlier. “Just like mama.” 

Her face suddenly changed from sadness to anger when she asked, “You saved her and she just… left you? Left us? How could she do that when mama left and daddy died?” 

I bit my lip and didn’t quite know how to reply. I was partially expecting her to be furious with me for what I did (and kept from her and everyone else). I thought she would blame me for daddy’s demise and Willa’s abandonment. I thought I would receive a cold shoulder and would be told to leave and never come back. 

“I used to think there was a curse on our family,” I whispered and stared at the ceiling, not knowing how she would receive this truth. “I think Willa thought it was a curse too. Everyone in our family either leaves or dies. I think she left because it was just what we did when things became too much. When things hurt too bad.” 

She leaned up from the bed and asked with concern, “Is that why you left? Was it because of the pain?” 

That was a complicated question. I wasn’t sure how to answer it. I sat up, too, to look at her. 

“There were a lot of reasons why I left. I can’t lie, having to keep that secret… it tore me apart. I felt guilty for years not being able to tell anyone what really happened. And you just kept looking at me like you did before everything. You were the one person who looked at me in the same way. You were so innocent, my everything. Baby girl… everything just kept crumbling around me. I didn’t want you to see me crumble. I didn’t want you to crumble. I wanted to protect you. But it was also selfish. And it was wrong. I was so wrong for just leaving you. And I couldn’t be sorrier.” 

“No…” She said softly and pulled me into a hug. “No apologies necessary. Oh, ‘Nonna. I wish I would have known. I would have understood.” 

I shook my head and countered, “Even so, I should never have left you. But I promise, Waves. I’m going to be around more, okay? For big events and when you need me. I’ll be one phone call and flight away, okay?” 

“Okay?” She laughed with the widest smile I had ever seen in recent memory. “That’s more than okay. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.” 

I wrapped my arms around her again and held her close. We stayed like that for a while in silence. Nothing else had to be said. At least, not right now.

I woke up to the sound of a crinkling bag. I opened my eyes to find Nicole eating a bag of chips as she read a cheap romantic novel that had obviously come from the hospital gift shop. Waverly was still sleeping and I was glad. She needed the rest. 

“How’s the book?” 

“I think a seventh-grader sexist asshole wrote it. But there weren’t too many options.” 

“How long have we been out?” I asked in a whisper and yawned as I pulled away from my sister’s embrace.

“Only for an hour or so. It’s late. Gus and Curtis went home already. They’ll be back in the morning of course.” 

“And you?” 

She put her book down and stared at me. “I’ll stay the night. You should get some rest, too, you know. Knowing you, I don’t think you have ever gotten more than three hours of sleep at a time.” 

“If I sleep through the night, it’s probably because I’m dead,” I joked and then added, “I should probably head out and ask what is happening with my team. Thanks for being here, Haught.” 

She smiled and replied, “There’s no place I’d rather be. Go, Earp. I’ve got it here.” 

“I know, I know,” I said while putting my hands up in surrender. “She’s in good hands. When she wakes up, tell her I’ll be there in the morning and that… I love her or whatever.” 

Haught smirked and said, “Elegant, Earp.” 

“Shut up. You’re still dating my little sister.” I wasn’t offended at all, but she didn’t need to know that. Haught needed to be messed with a little. She was still too uptight sometimes. But she was a good person and good for Waverly. That I was sure of. 

I crawled out of the bed and waved goodbye. I wasn’t going to skip town this time. For once, I was going to actually say goodbye to my sister.

“You guys can go back to Quantico if you want to,” I offered to my colleagues as we entered the dingy hotel room that made me want to hurl. “I know we have a stack of files of places where we are needed back home. I’d understand--” 

“I told Lucado that we had some paperwork to finish up here,” Dolls explained with what I could only guess was a resemblance of a smirk. “I told her we’d be back by the day after tomorrow. That gives you all of tomorrow.” 

I didn’t really know what to say. I was still in disbelief about how willing Dolls was to lie to Lucado for me. He had been there for me this whole time and I… I didn’t know how I felt. I just knew that I was more than thankful. 

“Xavier Dolls,” I stated with a grin. “You might be my favorite person on this whole godforsaken planet right now.”

He really smiled this time, with his teeth showing and everything. I felt warmth reach my cheeks. He was actually quite attractive when he was happy. 

“I think I’m… I’m gonna catch some z’s…” Jeremy yawned as he flopped onto the bed and crawled under the covers. It took only a few seconds before we heard his light snores, causing both of us to chuckle. 

Dolls kicked off his shoes as I tugged my outerwear off. When he was only in his t-shirt and boxers and I had an undershirt and underwear on, we both got into our separate beds. It was dark, but I could still see his eyes stare into mine as we faced each other. 

I felt wide awake and my bed felt so cold. So empty. So alone. 

“Can you hold me?” 

Part of me thought that my question was pathetic, but I didn’t want to take it back. I saw him blink a few times and I wondered if he heard my question. I knew he did when he got up and moved toward me. He was slow when he pulled back the covers and slid into my bed. It was like he didn’t want to seem eager. God, I loved that. 

Slowly, he moved so that his body fit alongside mine like a puzzle piece. He put his arm around my stomach, pulling me closer to him as gently as he could. I could feel his head on my pillow, I could hear him breathe. 

There was a strange part of me that thought my heart would race. It didn’t. If anything, I felt calm and secure. I thought his presence would keep me awake with different thoughts running through my brain, but it didn’t. I felt his body against mine and it was like I could finally rest. 


Jeremy didn’t say a word. Which was surprising because he was Jeremy . Then again, it wasn’t like Dolls and I were talking about it (and I was almost convinced that we would never talk about it). 

Long ago, Eliza and I shared a bed when we were cases and we were extremely careful to not mess around. At least, not when Dolls was around. If he noticed anything was going on between us, he didn’t mention it. It’s pretty well known that dating colleagues in the FBI was a severe no-no. And it wasn’t like Dolls and I were dating but…

I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind. It wasn’t like what was going on with Dolls was anywhere close to being important. It was Waverly who I needed to focus on.

We stopped for a bagel and a cup of coffee on the way to the hospital (there was no way anyone was forcing me to have hospital food) after racing to get ready. The last thing I wanted was alone time with Dolls or a chance to have Jeremy ask about what had exactly happened. Why he woke up and saw Dolls with his arm around me like we were an old married couple.

Fuck me. 

Waverly was standing and had her normal clothes on when I entered her room. She was holding Haught’s hand as Gus and Curtis held her stuff in their hands. 

“Woah,” I greeted, surprised that everyone seemed to be ready to leave. “What’s going on?” 

“I’m being discharged!” Waverly shouted happily with a large grin on her face. 

“After she begged the doctor for about thirty minutes straight,” Haught added with a concerned frown. She was obviously concerned about her girlfriend and was most certainly whipped. 

Waverly shrugged and said, “Whatever. I’m ready to get out of here! We were going to spend the day at the homestead playing games and having fun. You should join us!” 

She came up to me and tugged on my arm with a pout on her face. There was no way that I could say no to that. Or… to her in general. 

“Bring those partners of yours too,” Curtis told me with a smile. “We have to thank them for finding our girl. And I’m sure you all don’t get many home-cooked meals with what you all do.” 

He was definitely right. But bringing all the people that I knew together… wouldn’t that be a total catastrophe? But the look on Waverly’s face made me reconsider. Damn it. 

“I’ll ask em,” I muttered with slight embarrassment that made Waverly jump up and down and thank me. God, it filled my chest with so much happiness. Gross. “I’ll meet you guys there, okay?” 

Part of me hoped that Dolls and Jeremy would be too weirded out by the invitation to accept it, but of course, they didn’t even flinch at my words. In fact, Jeremy cheered and admitted to me that he was obsessed with my family. I thought at least Dolls would be against it, but he just shrugged and said he’d join us because he had nothing better to do. Fuck.

The drive over was odd, to say the least. Jeremy started interrogating me about Gus and Curtis so that he could have a leg up when meeting them. I reminded him that we weren’t dating and that he didn’t have to prove anything to them, but he just told me that I was one of his best friends and that having the people who raised me like him was important. Jesus, he was sappy. 

“Here it is,” I announced as I pulled into the long graveled trail to the house. “This is where I grew up.” 

“Wow,” Jeremy gaped as he stared out the window. “This is exactly how I imagined it!” 

I snorted, “You imagined it?” 

“Of course,” He said like I was being an idiot. “Does your family have any chickens?” 

I grinned and told him, “Oh, God no. My dad hated animals and Gus and Curtis never thought getting any would do us any good. Waves kept a hamster named Pikachu in her closet for a month before they found out. That’s it for animals, I’m afraid.” 

Jeremy was practically dying from laughter as I parked the car. We all got out of the car and they followed me to the front porch. I took a deep breath and hoped that this visit would be better than the last one at this house and knocked on the door. 

Curtis opened the door and smiled. “Wy, you know you don’t have to knock. This is your home too. Come in, come in.” He let us all pass him into the house and then closed the door. 

We were immediately bombarded by all kinds of smells coming from the kitchen. I was almost too distracted to hear Waverly calling my name. I followed her voice to the living room where she and Haught were cuddling under a blanket. 

“Hey, baby girl,” I greeted with a little bit of awkwardness. “Sup, Haught. You taking care of my sister?” 

Nicole glared at me and replied, “Of course I am.” 

“I’m so glad you came,” Waverly told me with a warm smile as if she completely ignored my interaction with her girlfriend. “Curtis is making all of our favorite goods. Lord knows he won’t be able to stop until his fingers are numb.” I chuckled softly, remembering how Curtis used to cook elaborate meals to try to join everyone together. “Where are the boys?” 

“They’re--” I stopped talking when I realized I didn’t know where they were. “They’re probably being suffocated by Curtis with invasive questions. Let me go save them. I’ll be back in a sec.” 

I started looking for them but stopped when I passed my bedroom. The door was closed, but I didn't need to be open to remember how it looked. A voice in my head told me to keep walking and forget the past. Maybe that was a good idea. But I think I needed some closure. 

I opened the door and felt all the air escape my lungs. Curtis wasn’t lying. The room was the exact same as it was when I left. My ripped clothes were still scattered across the floor and the posters of rock bands were still along my walls. It felt like going back in time. 


“Curtis told me what happened,” Waverly whispered as she sat down next to me on my bed. “Are you okay?” 

“Pea chy,” I answered as I picked at the rips on my black jeans. “I love getting sentenced. Jesus, I don’t know why Gus and Curtis waste their money on a good lawyer. I always do the fucking thing that they accuse me of. Nedley’s got his ass watching me, but I’m the one doing the illegal shit.” 

“Well, why’d you do it if you knew you were going to get caught?” 

“Maybe I just like being in a cell,” I told her with all the spite I could muster. What the hell was the answer she was looking for? The truth wasn’t something she would understand. She didn’t need to know I felt like I should be locked up. “Next time I’m arrested the judge says they’ll try me as an adult. Maybe I’ll get to share a cell with a murderer.” 

“Don’t joke about that,” Waverly muttered with a voice crack. She was crying. “Why do you do this?” 

“Why not?” 

I jumped up from the bed and kicked the bedside table, breaking off a leg. I wished that I could break the whole house.

“I feel like you’re home.” 

Her voice startled me and I jumped to look at her rather than the three-legged bedside table. She was sitting on my bed and looking around the room like she hadn’t seen it for years too. I wondered if she hadn’t been in here since she realized I ran away. 

“This is the most I’ve felt at home since Willa left. Maybe since mama left. I can’t stop thinking about what would have happened if I just stayed in this room and hadn’t left.” 

“Gus would’ve strangled you or you would have gone to prison,” Waverly said right away without any hesitation. “Life would have still been hard. You can’t keep living with this guilt, you know? You might have left, but mama left first. And daddy hurt Willa. And Willa left. Those things were out of your control. Garrett Hayes was out of your control. Him killing Eliza was out of your control. Him taking me was out of your control. You have been blaming yourself for the actions of other people for years. How are you not exhausted?” 

“I am. But I’m getting better.” 

“Good,” She said with a smile. “Or else I’d kidnap you and make you stay here with me where I can give you constant sister snuggles.” 

I laughed and replied, “I don’t think I want to be around your little love fest with your girlfriend. Barf, by the way.” 

“Shut up. You can’t talk. Nicole told me about Dolls holding you when you slept at the hospital.” 

“Pshh,” I disregarded with the movement of my hand. “Haught’s crazy. She’s confusing me with Jeremy. It was Jeremy in Dolls’ arms.” 

“Yeah, sure,” Waverly muttered with an eye roll that made me push her flat down onto the bed. “Ow. You’re a child.” 

“I know you are but what am I?” 

“An idiot. A childish idiot. C’mon. Let’s go save your friends.” 

I grinned and followed her to the kitchen where Curtis was stirring something in a pot while questioning my colleagues about there personal life. Jeremy was detailing his flirtatious relationship with Lucado’s assistant, Robin, as Dolls tried to stay as silent as possible. 

“So, Xavier, how is a handsome man like yourself still single?”

I had never seen Dolls more mortified, but to give him credit, he still answered, “The job gets in the way of having any relationships.” 

“So, do you have feelings for one of your colleagues?” 

That was it. “Oh, Curtis. Stop grilling them. Waverly, why don’t you take them into the living room and see what kind of trouble your girlfriend has gotten into?” 

Waverly winked at me and led the boys far from the kitchen. I glared at my uncle and watched as he began to chuckle. 

“The glare never works on me, Wy, you know that. I was just asking a question.” 

“Uh-huh,” I muttered with disbelief. “I’m watching you, mister. I’m going to start to think that you wanted to invite them over just so that you could figure out if I was dating one of them.” 

He put his hands up in the air and said, “You caught me. But you should know that while you were talking with your sister, Gus was asking Xavier about what kind of girl he was interested in.” 

I facepalmed and muttered under my breath, “No fucking way.” I groaned and asked, “Where is she?” 

“She’s setting the dining table for lunch. I’m sure she’d love to talk to you.” 

“Yeah, yeah. Be good when I’m gone.” 

He winked like Waverly before I headed out of the room and found Gus putting the silverware in its exact spot. 

Gus noticed I was there and asked, “Did I ever tell you that my first love died from the flu?” I gaped at her, not really knowing what to say. Instead, I just shook my head. “It was such a common illness and he… died. I became cold. Heartless. I thought life wasn’t worth enjoying unless he was around. I thought I’d end up alone. And then a few years later, Curtis introduced himself and I thought that he was a chump. But he didn’t give up on me. He brings out the softness in me, Wynonna, but he lets me be myself. I know loving someone else after losing the love of your life is confusing, but it’s worth it, darlin’. You deserve to be happy.” 

I knew what she was trying to say. I wasn’t dense, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear it. To comprehend it. To understand it. 

I didn’t say anything. Instead, I just helped her pass out the silverware in silence and tried to stop thinking about him. 

The day was full of stories and games. Gus and Curtis asked my colleagues about the strange cases we had worked as they tried to gauge how dangerous my job was. Jeremy, on the other hand, tried to learn everything he could about my childhood, finding stories about my youth (mostly prior to when mama left) highly entertaining. I had to flick him several times. 

Of course, without fail, I had to pretend to barf anytime Waverly and Haught said anything romantic to each other (which was all the freaking time). One time Gus told me to grow up and be happy that my sister was in a healthy relationship. She got me there. 

Time seemed to skid by when Gus and Curtis taught Dolls, Jeremy, and Nicole how to play Nertz, this fast card game that was practically multi-player solitaire with screaming. Things got intense. I almost pushed Haught off her chair. Now that was hilarious. 

For hours, we played overly competitive games until dinner when I threatened to throw my mashed potatoes at Waverly for telling Jeremy the story about me trying to punch an asshole for asking my childhood best friend out on a date when I was like eight. In retrospect, I was probably into her. But whatever. It didn’t matter. Everyone does that shit. 

There was a moment, it was small and for any normal person, it probably would have been insignificant, but for me, it felt like stars had exploded in my chest. The night was forging on and I knew at some point we had to go back to the motel and eventually go back home and I felt genuinely sad about it. For once, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to hold my sister tight, watch her fall in deeper love with Nicole, be there for Curtis, and laugh with my colleagues as they got to know my family even better. I didn’t want the night to end. I didn’t want to leave home. And that thought changed everything.

I wanted the festivities to continue, but Waverly’s eyes began to droop and Curtis was falling asleep while playing Pictionary. I knew we had to go and it broke my heart. 

“We should get going,” I mentioned bitterly with a frown. “Our flight out is in the morning and--” 

“There’s no way we’re going to let you all stay at that motel tonight,” Gus told me sternly. “We’ll check out of your motel tomorrow on the way to the airport. Stay the night. All of you.” 

The offer was a surprise. Things were getting better, of course, but I didn’t expect this. And I definitely didn’t think that they would invite all of us to stay. Not staying in that motel sounded fantastic and I was just glad to have the chance to stay for a little bit longer. 

“That’s very kind of you,” Dolls told her with a smile that was so rare and so genuine before we had come to Purgatory. “We appreciate it. It’s quite infrequent for us to stay in a place other than the cheapest motel that the FBI will provide when we travel for a case.”

“Well, we’re happy to have you,” Curtis added brightly. “But I’m an old man who needs his sleep. I hope you all have good dreams and rest tonight.” 

He hugged Waverly and turned to me, not knowing if I would give him the same thing. It was odd, a bit, but I wrapped my arms around him and held him close. I knew I wouldn’t always have the chance to do this. 

One by one, people went off to bed, until Dolls and I were the last ones up. We had set up an air mattress for Nicole in Waverly’s room (to comfort Gus and Curtis) and set up the couches for Dolls and Jeremy to sleep in, but there was something I had to do. 

“Do you want to--” I began, stumbling on my words like a complete fool, “follow me into… uh… my room?” 

He looked at me like I had three heads, but he didn’t say anything. Instead, he followed me to my bedroom and stood in the doorway like he was a vampire waiting for me to invite him in. 

“Don’t just brood over there,” I told him with a sliver of humor. 

He stuffed his hands into his pockets and entered the room with what seemed like some difficulty. It was as if he thought that this was an evil prank or some shit. I could see how this could have all been seen as odd, but I wanted him to just read my mind so that I didn’t have to actually say anything out loud. This was mortifying. 

I sat down on my bed and stupidly hoped that he would just follow my lead. Of course, he didn’t. His hands moved from his pockets as he crossed his arms and stood in the middle of my room and refused to look around. 

“You don’t have to be so stiff,” I reminded him with some frustration. “We aren’t teenagers. You aren’t going to get in trouble for being in my room.” 

He rolled his eyes and finally said, “I’m sorry, Earp. I don’t really know what we’re doing. Should I be doing something?” 

Dolls was just as confused as me and I didn’t know if that was a comfort or if it made me more on edge. He seemed to be waiting for me to tell him what to do and I felt slightly overwhelmed. It was my fault that I asked him to join me and now I was too damn embarrassed to say anything. I was being an idiot. All I had left was the truth, right? That was important. 

“Listen, D--Xavier. I did a lot of growing up in this room, but it was BBD that made me an adult. Or at least one that I can live with. I’m so grateful for everything that you’ve done for me. I know that I haven’t always been an easy person to work with--” 

“When I think about my behavior and actions when we first met,” He interrupted, “I feel so guilty. Not just because I was your superior and should have treated you with more respect, but because you were… you. And I… I thought that treating you like I did would stop me from… having the feelings that I had. I eased up when I realized you were in a relationship with Eliza because I finally had a reason to stop being so shitty and cruel. I really was happy for you both.” 

I believed him. 

I stood up and approached him slowly, not sure what I was going to do when I reached him. My throat suddenly felt dry and my body began to shake. Did my body know something that my mind didn’t? 

When our bodies were close enough to touch, I asked him, “So, did you stop having feelings for me?” 

“I tried to,” He answered in a whisper. “But no. I don’t think I’ll ever stop.” 

“Cheeseball,” I said without thinking. 

“Good,” I added when I gave it more thought. 

He tilted his head like a confused puppy and I couldn’t help but kiss those lips of his and feel the world spin beneath my feet. I was dizzy but in a good way. I knew that we were moving into different territory, but I didn’t feel apprehensive about it. I wasn’t anxious or worried or feeling the need to run. Instead, I felt free and strong and stable. And most importantly, I no longer felt alone.


Chapter Text

Time was of the essence, but I didn’t want to rush a goodbye. Not when everything was going so well between the two of us and we had finally found our groove. Relationships are tough shit. Things weren’t perfect; the road was bumpy and full of nights where ending it seemed easier than fighting. But the shaky ride eventually did end and all that was left was us. And we were fucking great. 

“Don’t go,” He murmured and kissed my bare shoulder and held my hips against his body. Sneaky. He started going up the shoulder to my neck and I had to pull away. He knew the spots that would make me stay. 

“I know what you’re doing,” I told him and wagged my pointer finger at him. “And it won’t work. I’ll only be gone for the weekend. And then I’ll meet you in New Orleans for the case and we can do this stuff there.” 

“Chetri’s around.” 

“We’ll kick him out of the room,” I joked and then kissed him. “It’ll only be a few days. You know I’d invite you, but if we had our vacation weekends together, Lucado would just get suspicious and everything would just go to shit.”

Xavier sighed and nodded. “You’re right. Of course you are. Can I at least drive you to the airport?” 

There was an audible honk from outside and I told him, “Sorry, babe, the taxi is already here.” 

He looked sad, which made me put my arms around him and hold him tighter. We hadn’t ever done this before. Being separated for more than a few hours just wasn’t something that happened. Sure, we had our own space and time away from each other, but not for days. 

“Okay,” He whispered and kissed my cheek. “Stay safe, okay? And have a good time. Say hello to your family for me. Tell them that I’m good for Christmas.” 

I smiled at him and pulled away. He was a dork when he wasn’t pretending to be the tough guy. I loved that about him. I picked up my go bag and said goodbye. I was about out the door when I heard him. 

“Wynonna… I…” 

He didn’t have to finish that statement. 

“Ditto, babe.” 


Waverly squealed when I reached her at the airport. It took her only a second for her to tell me everything that had happened since I had been there a few weeks ago. She detailed every new thing that happened with her relationship with Nicole (even the things that I did not want to hear) and how exciting it was to be with someone she was so positively sure about. She then blabbed about what was going on in the town and how excited Gus and Curtis were to have me come home. 

We linked arms on the way to the car for the long drive to Purgatory and she asked me about what was going on with me (she just really wanted to know what was going on with Dolls). I told her about the cases that I had been working on and explained to her the difficulties of dating someone that you worked with. 

“You guys will make it,” Waverly told me with sincere faith. “And if Lucado tries to break you two up, I will beat her ass.” 

I snorted. “I would pay to see that. But we are still trying to keep it a secret. Though I swear that Jeremy has almost told her multiple times.” 

“He has a lot on his mind! The whole Robin situation is bananas,” Waverly explained as she began to drive. “Let me tell you, Robin’s ex is a piece of work. Part of me wants to fly out there and give him a piece of my mind.” 

“Slow down there, baby girl,” I told her with some laughter. “I’m sure that Jeremy would love for you to do that, but we’re rarely in Quantico, so I’ll let you know when we are actually home for a while.” 

Waverly squealed, “Ooh, I can’t wait to go to DC! I’ve never been to the east coast before!” 

Her excitement made me grin. Nothing would have made me happier than if she came to visit me. Showing her around would be cool. She’ll definitely look like a tourist, and I’ll be embarrassed, but it would be a lot of fun. I’d do anything to spend some extra time with my sister. 

“I’ll take you to every museum. Xavier once took me on a date at the Museum of Natural--” 

“You went on a date at a museum?!” 

I glared at her and answered, “Yes, baby girl. Fuck, I shouldn’t have said that part. Anyway, my point was that he knows every little fact in that place. He could be your tour guide. Honestly, he’d probably nerd out in front of you. It’s a bit terrifying.” 

She laughed and asked, “Does he know that you nerd out over Buffy the Vampire Slayer ?” 

I nodded and explained, “I made him binge-watch the whole thing. Jeremy helped me hold him down so that we could watch it. But we still keep that to ourselves, right? You haven’t mentioned that to Haught or anything, right?” 

Waverly blushed and chuckled with what I could tell was guilt. 

“Goddammit, Waves. You know that she’s going to hold it against me. Okay, tell me something embarrassing about her that I can use if she mentions it.” 

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Isn’t that a little childish, ‘Nonna?” Once she saw my glare, she sighed, “Fine, big baby. Nicole sings Dave Matthews songs in the shower.”

My lips curled into a grin and I felt very satisfied with that answer. If Haught doesn’t bring it up during the trip, I’ll just text her about it later. We texted each other almost every day, not that I’d admit that to anyone. She was very good about updating me about Waverly and how she was doing with her trauma. And sometimes we would update each other about ourselves. Sometimes

A few weeks after I had left Purgatory, Waverly finally broke down with the realization that she could have died. Nicole texted me that she was almost catatonic and I jumped on a plane immediately. I spent a night holding her and promising her that everything was going to be okay. Things had been a little shaky after that, but she started going to see a therapist that brought her back to her bubbly self that we all loved.

“How’s Curtis?” I asked her a little apprehensively, not wanting to think about his declining health. 

Waverly’s face fell and she answered, “He’s not getting around as well, but the doctors are being more positive than before. He might have more time than they originally thought. I’m thinking of taking him to the closest city to get another opinion. I just want to make sure that we are doing everything we can, you know?” 

I definitely understood that. And with my distrust in doctors, I thought that was a great idea, which I told her. 

“He’s excited to see you,” She told me with a more of a Waverly smile. “They both are. Nicole’s getting out of work early so that she can come over and hang out with us.” 

“And she’s doing okay?” 

She nodded and said, “Don’t you know that she is? Don’t you guys talk like every day? She’s always texting you.”

“You jealous, baby girl?” 

She snorted, “She picked me, remember? Besides, who would cheat on me?” 


“Good point.” 

We both laughed for a few minutes before Waverly turned on the music and played some Peach Pit. We rolled the windows down and sang. This was how it always should have been, but I felt lucky that I finally had it. 


No one was a bigger supported of Dolls than Gus, who immediately started interrogating me about him the second Waverly and I arrived at the homestead. Even before I got any hugs in. 

“Let the girl put her stuff down and catch a breath, sweetheart,” Curtis joked as he wrapped his more frail arms around me and gave me one of his warm smiles that made me feel safe and loved. 

Gus rolled her eyes and said, “I’m just curious about my niece. Is that a crime?” 

“It’s technically not,” Nicole said as she came from the living room to greet us. “Though if Wynonna’s involved, I’m sure it is.” 

She was grinning like she was proud of herself and I wanted to smack that smile off her face. Though, it was good to see that face. We had a very odd relationship. 

“Ha ha, you’re so funny, Haught-pants,” I replied sarcastically with an eye roll. 

“Children,” Gus stated with frustration for us already. “Why don’t you come inside and sit down and then you two can start to bicker.” 

Nicole and I shared a look of amusement as we followed the rest of our family into the living room where there were mugs of hot chocolate that practically covered the table. I gasped and dodged for one, taking a sip and immediately burning my mouth. 

“I’m glad to see that some things never change,” Curtis chuckled as he watched me wipe the whipped cream off my nose. 

“How are you doing, Wynonna?” Gus asked me as she tried to hide her smile at my impulsive actions. “How’s Jeremy and Dolls?” 

“Everyone is doing great. The cases have been intense as always, but Lucado is thinking of adding people to our team, which would really help out. I don’t know why the FBI thinks that we can take on the same amount of work as the BAU that has like thirty agents in the unit. All the other teams in the division have more people in them than ours too.” 

Haught shook her head in solidarity. “No one ever understands the amount of work for law enforcement. The problem is that here, the more people that Nedley hires, the worse they get.” 

I nodded and told her, “I can give your name to Lucado if you want. At least we already trust you and know what you got. Then again, you’d be a good choice, so Lucado would probably not like you.” 

She smiled and replied, “I appreciate the offer, Earp. But I’m happy here.” She grabbed Waverly’s hand and kissed it. I pretended to throw up. 

I wasn’t surprised. Haught was completely taken by my sister and I couldn’t blame her. If I could, I would have stayed around Waverly when I wasn’t on a case. If I wasn’t living in Virginia. But with my job, that would have been impossible. 

“How is Xavier doing?” Curtis asked, noticing that I hadn’t answered that part, the bastard. 

Truth was, at the moment, I missed him like crazy. For years, we had done everything together by each other’s sides. Not being able to reach out to him felt… I didn’t have the word for it, exactly. It was like missing a part of yourself. Something important and something you couldn’t live without. Like your arm or your heart. 

And this weekend was different. I hadn’t told him that it was my birthday and that I was celebrating it without him (I didn’t want to celebrate it at all). The occasion was something that Waverly loved to celebrate despite how much I despised it. I hadn’t really celebrated it since my twenty-first birthday which gave me a reason to get even drunker than the normal drunk I was almost every night. 

I remembered my birthdays before mama left and things got bad. I remember mama holding me tight and making a cake with candles I would blow out of. When she left, Willa attempted to continue the tradition, but it got lost in the shuffle of dad’s abuse. And since then… for the longest time, it was only Waverly who cared about it. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been celebrating it at all. 

But she insisted that I come for my birthday after reminding me that we didn’t know if Curtis would be around for another one. Gus and Curtis attempted to do something for me for my first birthday after I killed daddy, but it was a disaster. This would be a re-do. I knew how important this was for them and tried to remain cheery for their sakes. But god, I missed Xavier. 

“He’s doing good,” I answered with a smile. “And don’t worry, he’s been taking good care of me. He’s quite the gentleman.” 

Gus smirked and said, “I never thought you would be in love with someone you would consider a gentleman, Wynonna. But I’m happy for you. Xavier’s a good man.” 

I couldn’t disagree. “I’m a lucky gal. So tell me, Gus. How annoying is their lovefest?” 

My aunt chuckled and answered, “They love each other. And Nicole is much better than Champ. The only complaint that I have is that they need to get their own place soon. Or buy me some earmuffs.” 

Wynonna almost spit out her hot chocolate and laughed at her sister and friend’s reaction to Gus’ mortifying statement. She high fived her aunt and felt a little better about being away from her boyfriend. 

“We’re going out for pancakes for dinner!” Waverly announced with a higher voice than normal. “At your favorite restaurant.” 

“That’s great, baby girl,” I grinned wildly. “But I think I’d like to hear more about you and Haught-lava’s sex life please.” 

Waverly gaped at me and Nicole glared at me. I just continued smiling. 

“Don’t torture your sister, Wy,” Curtis told me with a slight smile that he was trying to cover with his hands. “Let’s go eat some pancakes.” 


Nicole was bugging me on the ride over about my hatred for celebrating my birthday and I could tell that it was an attempt at payback for laughing about her sex life with my sister. Truth was, answering that question wasn’t too hard anymore. Dealing with my past and my emotions was something that I was working on. 

I was bitterly honest with her about it, actually. I didn’t like celebrating my birthday for years because I didn’t want to celebrate my life. Before recently, there wasn’t much to celebrate. 

Walking into a restaurant as a family, it wasn’t something I was used to. That any of us were used to. Daddy and mama would never have brought us somewhere as a group. They wanted everything to remain private. And I was too messed up and unwilling as a teenager to be around them for Gus and Curtis to bring me into the public. 

It was uncharted territory, but I had an army by my side. I felt… strong. 

Something caught my eye when we entered the only restaurant that I would eat in when I was younger. There was a table in the back covered with balloons and presents and… fuck. 

I was about to yell at my family when I saw two people in the booth stand up. Jesus Christ. Instead, I turned to look at my family with tears in my eyes. Of course, they did . I pulled them all into a hug. Without even starting the celebrating, they already made this the best birthday that I could have ever imagined. 

When we pulled apart, I took off and ran to them. Jeremy tried to say a joke before I put my hands around him and thanked him profusely. I didn’t know how they got the weekend off too, but I was impressed. 

He was talking about having to keep the secret from me and almost spilling it, but I could barely listen. I was looking at Dolls. 

“You bastard,” I joked as I wiped my eyes and stared into his. “You were going on and on about missing me when you knew we were going to see each other in a few hours.” 

Xavier grinned and said, “Good acting, huh?” 

I hit his arm and pouted. “I felt terrible.” 

“You missed me, then?” 

I glared at him and said, “Maybe I should just put you on a plane back to DC…” 

He chuckled and pulled me into his embrace. I held him tight and hoped unrealistically that we would never have to part again. Sometimes I thought some really gross things. 

“Happy birthday, Wynonna,” He whispered gently and placed his hand on my cheek protectively. “I love you.” 

I kissed him and immediately agreed. Happy birthday to me


Lines blur every day. I was afraid and unable to cross certain lines for years. The line between my personal life and job was as thick as sludge and as strong as steel. With the exception of Eliza blowing a hole into the line (one that I soon patched after her death), I didn’t allow my colleagues to become my friends. Truth was, I didn’t allow myself to have a personal life. I couldn’t. Not after Garret Hayes and losing Eliza. My life was my job. I used my past as a reference for it, but I refused to relive and work through it. I forced myself to forget my teenagehood and compartmentalize the era of Garrett Hayes. There were so many lines that I could barely keep track of them. And life just became… aimless. 

The line between my job and my personal life barely exists anymore. My colleagues are no longer just my colleagues, they’re my friends (and one may be more than that). Admitting the shit I’ve been through has made me better at my job. I’ve become more caring, more sympathetic. And it has also helped me flourish with my personal life. The lines between my past, my future, and my present I can only hope have dissolved. I can’t pinpoint when all those lines were broken down and shattered or smudged like a stain on the wall, but there’s no regret. Nothing tethering me to those lines that made me feel broken and unwhole. 

There are always risks to crossing lines. But, if you don’t cross a few, your life is just… a whole bunch of straight lines, I guess. And who wants to be straight?

Lines create boundaries and separate bodies from other bodies. I thought that they helped me; I couldn’t handle the idea of being close to someone and losing them. Life becomes rigid and cold and something unbearable. 

There’s not one thing I could say that erased all the lines. All I know is that they’re gone because of the people around me that chose to love me and pull me in rather than push me out like I would have wanted. I’m grateful for their understanding and patience. It’s taken me a long time to get here. Too long. That fact still lingers but I’m dealing. Always dealing. 

Everyone was laughing and talking and enjoying the company in one another. I once thought that bringing everyone together was a big mistake; I didn’t realize that maybe they needed some more found family too. I don’t know the exact moment when we all became a family, but sitting around the table I knew it was true. And I guess that’s all that matters.

It’s a weird feeling when one day you feel alone in the world and in the next, you feel whole and brand new and loved. It’s stark and mind-altering. I haven’t become naive; I know the world is still dark and ominous and full of monsters. I’ve even met a few. But there’s also inescapable good if you let yourself find it. 

I avoided it for as long as possible. It’s easier to live with yourself if you think everyone is bad news. It’s easier to not trust and care. But life like that was shit. It wasn’t worth living for. 

It's taken effort, but I'm trying my hardest to find the good. I find it in Jeremy’s immeasurable and undeniable resolve to helping people and making sure that everyone is cared for. I find it in Haught’s love and protectiveness for my sister and her slight edge that makes her stubborn to save people. I find it in Gus and Curtis and their ability to take it even the most random of strangers. I find it in Xavier’s duty to discover the truth and find justice for everyone. But most of all, I find it in Waverly and her capacity for forgiveness and love even when no one deserves it. 

It has taken me years to admit that there is some good in me, too. Not everything inside is scarred and shattered and unmendable. I’m healing. Slowly, maybe. But enough to make me feel it. I can tell that I’m not full of shadows and ghosts anymore. What’s inside of me isn’t black and empty. It might not be bright and shiny and full of neon hues, but it’s progress. What’s inside is a dark shade of blue and it’s getting lighter every damn day.