In the right light, he can almost pretend that everything’s still okay. That he’s back in his own time, that he never accepted the Stone Witch.
That he never betrayed Wyatt.
The town looks the same in places, especially on the outskirts where the horizon stretches endlessly and even the fences that break up the land fade away. He’s still got his hat and his gun, still feels the same - better, even, without the consumption that wracked his lungs.
He’s still following an Earp.
But really, Wynonna’s curves, the kind that make you never want to take your hands off of them, could never be mistaken for Wyatt’s broad shoulders and deep chest. The grin is the same, though, the one that promises hell for whoever’s standing in their way, the one that got them all into this mess in the first place.
Doc’s never known an Earp to back down from a challenge before.
And therein lies the problem, the reason he’s sure he keeps finding himself mixed up in all this trouble. He’s not one to back down either. He guesses he’s even attracted to it, if he could stand to stand still and try and quantify all the things he’s attracted to without a squirming feeling starting in his gut. He refuses to feel guilty - a man has needs, and that’s natural as the sky being blue and the sun being hot, after all.
Who could blame him for following the brightest star in the sky, the biggest personality in town, or the only person who could hope to match him in a shoot-out?
One shot, one shot he swears was lucky but Wyatt swore as long as he drew breath was intentional that knocked the penny off the can and into Doc’s fingers, sending his own shot wide. No one else had had the daring to go up against him but Wyatt. No one had even come close to succeeding in a challenge he put to them. It didn’t matter that the odds weren’t in Wyatt’s favor. An Earp didn’t back down from a challenge.
He’d swear he never learned anything from Wyatt when it came to sharpshooting, that Wyatt learned everything from him, but his calm before a shot all seemed faked compared to the calm he could find after he stared into that wild grin and shook Wyatt’s hand. For all that Wyatt’s presence was electrifying, Doc had never felt calmer while looking down the sightlines of his revolver and taking his shot than when he could remember who was at his side, who had his back.
He’d blown it all trying to keep it close.
No longer would he ride through the hills of the badlands with Wyatt, hunting down bandits and laughing about those that would try and stop them.
No longer would he toast to the adventures that had been and those to come, because the world was theirs to take.
He’d blown it all with one selfish wish.
The first few decades he’d tried to blame it on Wyatt. If only he’d actually gone and hunted down Wild Jack in the hills like they were supposed to. If only Wyatt had stayed away the weeks Doc thought he would.
If only Wyatt hadn’t come home and seen with his own eyes what Doc had become.
Instead, his aberration laid bare, his betrayal in the light and all Doc could say was, “I did this for us.” He had, really. He’d done it for them as much as he’d done it for himself. He’d lied to Wyatt that night by the fire, skin and touches and kisses saying what words couldn’t, the lie that he’d accepted death. That this would be their last ride.
He hadn’t even known he was lying until the Stone Witch offered him a choice.
Faced with being tied to an immortal witch, acceptance fell short of being acceptable. He’d thought Wyatt would be overjoyed, as he had been at the thought of getting more years to spend together.
He hadn’t known humanity was such a fragile concept. Fragile was barely in his vernacular to begin with; it wasn’t something he should have expected himself to understand, much less Wyatt to call him out on.
He’d had so many long years to become familiar with it.
Now, he can’t blame Wyatt. He knows he would have turned around, likely sooner than Wyatt must have. The thought of a friend dying without you makes everything else pale in comparison, even the idea of one last hunt in their memory.
It’s what drew him to Wynonna, in the end.
She wasn’t worthy of the name, not really. She had the smile, the arrogance, the damned assurance that everything would work out in her favor when all the dust settled, no matter how long it took the dust to actually settle. But she wasn’t Wyatt. He wouldn’t want her to be.
Time blurred together down in the well. What he thought were years ended up being decades, and decades became years. One thing he was sure of when he pulled himself out was that Wyatt was dead and that he wasn’t getting himself involved in any ventures that didn’t put his own interests first and foremost again. So what if he couldn’t die? All the better to ultimately destroy those that had betrayed Wyatt. This town didn’t deserve him, and every Earp that followed him was a sham with grandiose visions of their own importance.
That the only bar in town had a sign saying “drink where Wyatt Earp drank” over a stool Wyatt had never touched made the whiskey sour in his mouth. They’d always kept to the table in the corner, all the better to see the goings on of any town, who came and went from the saloon, who might cause trouble then or later. If anything, the bar and it stools had been where Doc himself had drank, later, his sorrow and penitence on display for everyone in Purgatory to see.
He liked that Wynonna drank in defiance at the bar.
He’d never admit it; that would be folly.
They shared a fire inside, Wynonna and Wyatt, and it was that warmth that drew him closer. It was more than the grin when cocking their gun - it was in the shift of their feet as they aimed, in the lick of their lips as they inhaled, finger poised on the trigger. It was the light in their eyes at eradicating just a touch more evil from this world, leaving behind a better place. It was the glee at doing something only they could. It was the conviction in a higher purpose that made Doc fall to his knees and follow them without second thought.
If he was immortal, he’d put it to good use. It had always been for Wyatt, for them. He might as well put his life, endless as it was, on the line for the sake of eliminating the revenants. He’d believed that Wyatt could put them down originally; he believed that Wynonna could put them down for good. This sort of voodoo magic was beyond him - he’d barely understood the Stone Witch’s offer beyond “you’ll live long enough to see Wyatt’s life though”, and even then he hadn’t understood. He thinks he does now, but he thought he did then, so he guesses he’ll see when the dust settles where the bodies fall and where they all stand.
But he knows now that while Wynonna isn’t Wyatt, has no hope of replacing Wyatt in his heart, she is a brightly shining star. She’s the true north in a wilderness of black sky and he’ll follow her to finish Wyatt’s grand plan, no matter what it takes.