The first time Doc saw Wyatt Earp, the man had taken his breath away.
Doc's actions then had saved Wyatt's life, or so Wyatt had always proclaimed. Doc had been happy to take the credit. Much had passed between them since that first moment and it had taken a long time before that first attraction could be truly realised, and explored and, finally, reciprocated. But Doc would never forget that initial meeting, the spark when he first laid eyes on Wyatt.
Even now he bit down on his lip when he thought of that moment. More than a century had passed but Wyatt still haunted his thoughts. Haunted being an appropriate term given that Wyatt was long dead, his life passed into legend, Doc (to his surprise) immortalised alongside him. Wyatt had been immortalised only in the mythological sense however, and not the one which had led to Doc outliving every person he had ever known.
Nights spent in Wyatt's bed had given Doc solace he had found nowhere else, a peace he had thought long gone and lost forever. Down in that well he'd harboured thoughts of revenge against the witch, just as he'd told the Earp sisters. Revenge for the hell Constance had brought down on him, vengeance for separating him from Wyatt and letting his dearest friend think that Doc had abandoned him. But he'd also clung to the memories of Wyatt, recollections of the times before Doc had become too sick to even stand upright for any length of time, before he'd made the deal and seen the horror and revulsion in Wyatt's eyes at that revelation.
Deep in the darkness Doc had relived every touch, every kiss, every rough thrust and gentle word from his relationship with Wyatt. The sensation of calloused fingers tracing their way along his chest, the scratch of Wyatt's beard against his belly, the touch of Wyatt's tongue against his cock. Wyatt had pleasured him thus, and Doc had let Wyatt take him in return, to ride him like a cowboy on a bronco.
Wyatt was the only man Doc had, or would ever, submit to that way.
It tore at Doc that he'd never have that again, not any part of Wyatt, not his admonishments nor encouragements, not a handshake nor a kiss. That he would never get the chance to truly explain things to Wyatt about the deal, to ask for understanding if not forgiveness, to be able make it up to him in some way. The last time he'd seen Wyatt had been a goodbye but not the one Doc wanted.
That was the worst of this future – and there was much to enjoy and much to be amazed at and much to be horrified by – that he would never see Wyatt again. That Doc was alone with only his burning desire for retribution for company.
Except fate had taken pity on him. Because now there was Wynonna Earp.
She wasn't Wyatt. Her long chestnut hair, her womanly curves, her hips and breasts – those glorious breasts alone were difference enough – all marked her out as distinct, her own person. The scent of her, overlaid by her shampoo, her perfume; the smoothness of her youthful and moisturised skin and distinct lack of any facial hair to brush against his own; the pitch of her voice. Wynonna was womanly and definitely not Wyatt.
There was a strength of character which he recognised, a similarity in her eyes, and the way her mouth quirked sometimes reminded Doc strongly of her ancestor. The way she spoke his nickname when they were alone, and she was lying beneath or on top of him, twisted his insides. The way she tasted of whisky coupled with the smell of his own tobacco evoked cherished memories of times past.
They fitted together the way he and Wyatt had. Had he been prone to weeping he would have wept at the strength of their mutual attraction, at how easily and beautifully he and Wynonna physically expressed their longing for one another.
Then there was the way she challenged him – verbally, physically, emotionally. Wyatt had been akin to his conscience. History had painted him as Wyatt's right-hand man, but had not Wyatt been the same to Doc? Had he not relied upon Wyatt, loved him dearly, needed him? Did not Wynonna need his help, and did he not need her in return to anchor him in this strange new world?
Wynonna did not know how deep his friendship with Wyatt had been. She surely had no idea that it had moved from devoted friends into the territory of reluctant but inevitable lovers. These days Doc could describe such a relationship as "it's complicated" but back then it was impossible to describe and too dangerous to even attempt it, to admit it at all.
And now, in a relationship with another Earp that was definitely complicated, he did not want to complicate it further, to upset the applecart by explaining to the woman he had unwittingly, unwillingly, inevitably, fallen for that he had once loved her great-grandfather too. That Doc had known him in the Biblical way.
One day it would be revealed and he both longed for it and dreaded it. To be free of that secret would be one burden at least lifted from his shoulders. Yet he feared Wynonna's reaction. His greatest fear was that he would see that same look of disgust at his actions twisting Wynonna's features as they had Wyatt's. That she too would walk away from him.
The day Doc had met Wyatt the man had taken his breath away. The day Wyatt had walked away had hit him like a sucker punch, stealing his breath once more, but in a far more painful fashion.
And then Doc had met Wynonna and she too had taken his breath away.
She was not Wyatt, and he was thankful for it, and he adored her on her own merits.
But she was still an Earp and dammit if he couldn't help but love that about her too.