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i will fight 'til i have died

Chapter Text

Winona Hawkins shoots Tommy Bucks in the middle of the day, in full view of dozens of witnesses.

It wasn't Tommy commanded her husband to be killed, Tommy was just following orders. Winona knows where the blame lies, but she's not feeling particularly fair. After all, it was Tommy made sure it went down like it did, ended with pieces of Gary’s head all over her front lawn.

No self-respecting member of the US Marshals’ service could let that lie.

She walks up to the table where Tommy is sitting, and she says, in the level way she’d learned growing up, “I gave you twenty-four hours, Tommy.”

He ignores that, tells her to have a seat, starts spouting some bullshit about crabcakes.

There’s a Glock 37 on the table next to his right hand, and she wonders idly if he knows how he’s disrespecting her, thinking she’ll be distracted from her purpose just because there’s a gun barrel pointed at her.

“I’ve still got most of an hour left,” Tommy says, seeing her take a seat and settle her jacket, slightly open so her piece will clear easily.

“And it takes about forty-five minutes to get to the airport,” Winona says. “You’d better be on your way, Tommy.”

“I was telling my friends about you. ‘I’ll give you twenty four hours to get out of Dade county.' They thought it was a joke.” His imitation of her voice is insultingly shrill, and the accent is all wrong. No one ever gets the accent right.

“Seems I get that a lot from men like you, Tommy. I issue an honest warning, and you think I won’t follow through. Why is that? You think decapitating my husband with a stick of dynamite ain’t the kind of offense a woman like me might want to shoot you for?”

“I had an option to kill you too,” Tommy says, harsher than before, Winona sits on the flash of satisfaction at that. “You ought to thank me for not taking it.” He’s leaning forward now, like he thinks he’s going to scare her.

“Well I didn’t shoot you on sight, honey.” She lets her accent drawl, bored with his bluster. “I thought that was thanks enough. You got one more minute.”

He sneers at her, getting angry now, says, “You think you can tell me what to do, scare me off with your itsy-bitsy handgun and your shiny badge? Well you’re wrong, you little cunt. This is my city and I’m not going anywhere.”

“Name calling? Really?” Winona smiles, condescending and steady. “Miami is Gio’s city -- you’re just a third-rate gun thug. And I guess it takes one to know one.”

Winona tilts her head to the side and watches Tommy Bucks realize what she’s called him. She doesn't know what it is about her, makes bad men want to hit her, but she doesn't question it when Tommy lunges across the table, ignoring the gun beside his hand. She throws herself to the side, manages to get out her gun in the same movement, levels it in Tommy Buck's face.

“Give me a reason, you piece of shit,” she says. “Please, give me a reason.”

There’s a long silent moment where they stare at each other, a still moment of tension before the drama. Her on her knees, daring him to try her resolve. Maybe he’ll spit out something like, You don’t have the balls and she’ll say, Try me. Maybe he’ll see the truth of her conviction, and she’ll have to arrest this arrogant son-of-a-bitch instead of putting him down.

Instead, like an answer to her prayers, he goes for the gun. Winona shoots him through the heart.

 

 

Ava Crowder shoots her husband at dinnertime on a Monday. She tells anyone who asks that she got tired of Bowman getting drunk and beating on her, and that was why she did it.

No one in Harlan says a word to the contrary.

 

 

Chapter Text

Art Mullen is the head of the US Marshals’ office in Eastern Kentucky out of Lexington. Winona has met him before, as he’d been teaching shooting at Glynco the same time as she’d been the female hand-to-hand instructor there. They hadn’t been close, but she knew him to say hello to, had been to a couple of his wife’s big dinner parties. He had a good reputation -- watched out for his people and didn’t take shit from anyone.

“Bit of a comedown from the Miami office,” Art Mullen says in greeting.

Winona’s smile is honest enough. “I could probably use something a bit less high-profile.” Aside from the fact that this is Kentucky, she really doesn’t mind.

After a quick round of introductions, Art ushers her into his office. It looks for a moment like he might be about to say something about Gary -- everyone had heard about Gary -- but he thinks the better of it, thank god.

Instead, he says, “You still got much family in Kentucky?”

“I’m sure I do,” she says, though she silently wonders how many would still count her as kin, after what she’s done.

"I thought I remembered you grew up around Harlan. You happen to know a Boyd Crowder?"

Winona allows that she's heard of him. "Not many around there haven't."

"The US Attorney is trying to build a case against him, robbing banks, blowing shit up, getting his hands into just about every criminal enterprise that runs through there. He's living up in Harlan with a man who, near as we can tell, is his boyfriend. Another Harlan boy, used to be a Marine, if you can believe it. Raylan Givens -- you ever hear of him?"

Winona leans back, suddenly out of breath, shocked. "My god, Art, you got any more shit you want to dump on me today?"

At her language, Art glances over the desk at her, raises his eyebrows. "Something I should be aware of, Winona?”

She collects herself -- stops gaping at least -- says, “Sorry. A girl could get pretty upset hearing that kind of news about a man she married once.”

"Who the what now?" Art says. "You're bullshitting me."

"I swear I'm not.” Winona holds up her hands, palms out to forestall his questions.

Art shuts his briefcase and taps his fingers on it. He’s looking at her like she’s surprised him somehow, as if he’d remembered she was from Harlan county but didn’t quite expect her to have any history there. Eventually he gets up, says,“That sounds like the kind of story that calls for a drink.”

Winona smiles and follows him out of the office. “I won’t say no.”

 

 

The boy’s name is Jared Hale, up from Oklahoma. His sister said he had good prospects, was looking to get his hand into some of the explosives, and no one ever did know explosives like those Harlan boys.

Raylan scowls when he comes to pick up Boyd, takes one look at the mess and turns his eyes away. He’d been pissed when Boyd called him at the bar where he was working, and the apparent murder doesn’t pacify him any.

The only thing he says on the way back is, “Did you have to?”

Boyd sighs and stares into the dark on the side of the road, says, “That boy was so full of directionless malice, he would’a poisoned the entire enterprise if I’d’a let him in. Dumb as a box of hair, too, talking up his dubious merits and getting entirely the wrong impression of the situation down here in Harlan,” which, Raylan knows, is his way of saying, yes, and likely, he called you a fag, as well, so it ain’t like he can argue.

 

 

“Raylan and I barely knew each other, as kids,” says Winona, once Art takes her to get that drink. “Our families had one of those feuds going, an old thing, the kind that gets handed down from one generation of idiots to the next, going on centuries.”

“That’s some Romeo and Juliet bullshit,” Art says, wincing.

Winona laughs at Art’s expression. “Before I left Kentucky, the only thing I knew about Raylan Givens was that he’d hesitate to swing at a girl, so I could always be sure to get in one good hit, at least.”

“Endearing.”

Winona shakes her head, because she can’t tell him how it kind of was. “We met again in Salt Lake City, and we really hit it off -- it almost seemed like fate, you know?"

She says, "I guess you wouldn’t have met him. It was only a couple of years we were together -- he ran out on me right before I’d got the transfer to Glynco.”

“He ran out on you?” Art frowns, a little furrow of confusion

“His mama was sick and he came home to look after her, take care of things.”

“That doesn’t sound like he ran out on you, exactly.”

“I was always the one who called Frances, after she took ill -- Frances was his mama -- sweet woman, stubborn as all hell, too. Raylan couldn’t do it, talking to her and not being able to do anything for her condition.” Winona shrugs. “One night he got drunk, told me he was thinking about going home. Didn’t say another word about it. Three days later, he was gone, left behind half his stuff and a goddamn sticky note. He never called and he never did come back. Now how does that sound?”

She hadn’t realized then, how hard it must have been for Raylan to even admit that much.

“Sounds like he’s an asshole.”

Winona gives him a rueful smile. “Tell you the truth, Art, that was kinda what I liked about him.”

She lets that sit for a little while, lets him have some time to consider just how little she’s turning out to be what he expected. She’d stayed married to Raylan, if only in name, for two years after he was gone -- she doesn’t have to admit to anyone but herself that if he’d come back in those two years, she’d have let him.

“Tell me about Boyd Crowder,” Winona says, before Art can ask any more questions she doesn’t want to answer.

He tells her that Boyd was picked up for tax evasion; he’d been careful enough when he was blowing up cars and robbing banks that the couldn’t get anything serious to stick. That doesn’t quite sit right with Winona, though it sounds exactly like something Boyd would do -- he never was as dumb as he pretended to be. Then Art tells her that Boyd’s MO has changed since he got out, still too careful to be caught, but he’s moved from robbery to drugrunning, mainly, with a bit of extortion and whoring on the side.

“When did he get out?”

“Going on ten years, now.”

Winona does the math and it comes out about what she expected.

She called Raylan once, after he left her, right before she sent him the divorce papers -- listened to his excuses with all the patience she could manage. He wasn't coming home. She thinks on that for a little too long.

Art says, “What do you know about Boyd Crowder?”

“I know about what every girl in Harlan county knew.” Winona shakes her head. “He was creepy as hell, but smart, too. You’d think he was nothing but what Bo had made him, mean and crude and ignorant, then he’d turn around and start quoting Byron to get your attention.”

“Byron?”

“I read, you know,” Winona says, not admitting that she’d wondered for years, until she looked it up on the Internet one night, after Raylan left her, thinking about all the shit she left behind in Kentucky.

Art chuckles, probably suspects the truth of it anyway. “So he never seemed like the type, huh? To be-”

The gesture he makes somehow manages to convey, living with another man, with startling coherence.

“I always did feel like that Crowder boy was gonna steal from me,” Winona says, smirking, “but I never thought he’d steal my man.”

Chapter Text

 

In the morning, there’s a church bombing connected to a murder connected back to Boyd Crowder. Winona misses Miami already.

“Someone blows up a stoner church and it’s free dope for the whole block,” Rachel says, her tone resigned, disappointed.

Winona pretends she can’t hear it as she steps out into the brilliant midmorning sun, holding up a hand to shade her eyes. The smell of wet weed hits the back of her throat, she breathes around it and thinks, that’s a shame, in the same reflexive moment, pretends to ignore that, too.

The place is a mess -- must have been a shitbox to begin with, if the accounts of one rocket launcher through the window are true -- the whole structure seems to have caved right in on itself, utterly flattened.

Art sends her to talk to Pastor Fandi, watching her closely, like she maybe shouldn’t have said so much about growing up in Harlan last night, and he’s still trying to figure out where she stands. It takes a load of charm and a lot more smarmy smiling than she’d like, but in the end Fandi to agrees to come take a look at their line-up.

Now the only question is, how the hell are they going to get Boyd Crowder to be a part of it?

 

 

A junker skids around the turn into the driveway of the Givens house. The skinhead that jumps out tries three times to shut the engine off, half-hanging out the driver’s side door by the time he manages it. “Boyd here?”

Standing on the porch, Raylan stares down at him in mild perplexity, says, “The hell are you doing here, Dewey Crowe?”

The boys don’t come by the house -- that’s part of the unspoken agreement. No illegal activities take place on Givens property, the boys don’t come by the house, and Raylan don’t have to shoot nobody for being an asshole.

“Is Boyd here?”

“You got something to say to him you can’t say to me?”

For a moment, Dewey just stands there, gaping like a landed fish. He ain’t quite so stupid that he don’t know ‘yeah’ is the wrong answer, but he ain’t smart enough to figure out the right one, either.

Raylan quits fucking with him, says, “He’s out back,” and gestures for Dewey to precede him through the house.

“Boyd, your brother’s dead!” Dewey says the second he gets in earshot.

Raylan can’t help the sharp stab of satisfaction he feels at the news. At least, until he sees the way Boyd nods, that look in his eyes steady, unsurprised.

He already fucking knew, and it don’t exactly take a genius to figure out why.

Raylan’s on him as soon as Dewey Crowe’s junker rattles out of the driveway.

“Goddamnit, Boyd!”

“Don’t go gettin’ upset just 'cause you wanted to be the one to pull the trigger.”

“She should never have had to--”

“Forgive me if I am mistaken, Raylan,” Boyd cuts in, “but I believe it was quite some time ago Ava laid down the law on your -- or anyone’s -- involvement in her affairs. As in, stay out of ‘em, ‘less you’re invited in.”

Raylan scowls. “That ain’t the point. You didn’t even try to talk her out of it, did you? Jesus Christ.”

“I think she had the right to do it, if anyone did.”

“Did you think about what would happen to her, after? You think she’s gonna be tried for manslaughter? Or were you two aiming to get all the way up to murder, you talked about it beforehand?”

“Hold on, Raylan. While Ava may have expressed to me that she was tired of my brother’s wrong actions -- that if there was any justice in this world he’d git what was coming to him -- she never said a thing about murder. It wasn’t like that.” Boyd shakes his head at Raylan’s wordless protest and sighs, the picture of disappointed reasonableness. “Ava ain’t dumb by any stretch of the imagination, and you damn well know it. ”

The fact that Raylan does know doesn’t do much to quell his urge to punch the smirk off of Boyd’s face. He tries a different tack.

“Bo’s gettin’ out soon, and you think now was the time to pull this shit?”

Boyd says, “Five months is nothin’ to sneeze at.”

“Well it ain’t exactly ideal either,” Raylan snaps right back. “And what makes you think we got five months? Dewey Crowe ain’t the only person in Harlan has heard about it by now, I guarantee you that. Someone’s gonna tell Bo soon enough.

“Shit. I wonder if Ava’s okay.”

“I spoke to her on the phone earlier. It’s all right we check in on her, from time to time. She’s fine.”

“The hell she is.” Raylan says, before he can think better of it, “You never shot someone you loved, Boyd?”

That hangs between them for a while, ‘til Boyd laughs quietly, says, “Well no, Raylan, but I can’t say it was for lack of tryin’.”

 

 

There’s a whole box full of allegations against Boyd Crowder, not a single one ever substantiated. Tim has a mere summary spread across the conference table, drug caches and weaponry, burnt-out cars and shot-up surveillance cameras.

“No one in any federal office has managed to pin him down. We do have an address, but the only person ever there is the boyfriend.”

Winona ignores the way Tim’s voice goes lewd and ironic on ‘the boyfriend’. She takes one look at the address, shakes her head. Of course Raylan’s still living in that house. Wonder what happened to his daddy.

“On the other hand,” says Rachel, “Bowman Crowder, Boyd’s younger brother, was shot to death on Monday night, by his wife. We don’t think Boyd will be too happy about that.”

“So you’re thinking protection for the widow, catch Boyd red-handed trying to harm her?” It’s not a bad plan.

Rachel agrees and opens another file. “This is Ava Crowder -- until Monday night, Bowman was her husband.”

“Hold on. I think I know her.” Winona scans the file, and sure enough, it’s right there at the top: ‘Ava Crowder’ followed by her maiden name. “She say why she did it?”

“According to the police report,” Tim says, “Says she was tired of Bowman getting drunk and beating on her.” His deadpan tone isn’t really fooling anybody.

Winona knows the address at the bottom of the page, too. That was the Carvers’ old house. Rumor was that Anson Carver couldn’t find his own house when he was drunk. She’d had an embarrassing crush on Jonah Carver, too -- freshman-year, puppy love bullshit -- ‘til she found out what he said about her mama, and that was when she found out where the house was.

Still, she waits until Art asks before she admits that she knows where the fuck it is.