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Amateur Genealogy

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Rachel is 95% sure that none of them are as drunk as they’re pretending to be. She, for one, is stone cold sober, despite her best efforts. But if she admitted that, she’d have no real reason to be sitting on Raylan Givens’ floor at 2:00am.

“Goddamn, Raylan,” Tim says. “It’s like pure concrete down here.”

“There is furniture,” Raylan says.

Tim, sprawled out a couple feet from Rachel, looks at the chair next to his head and muses on it for a beat. “Furniture doesn’t look much more comfortable, to be honest.”

Sometimes, Rachel has to wonder if it actually helps. It certainly fills a gap. Raylan has about three weeks left of strictly-enforced medical leave, and Tim and Rachel have spent most of it bringing bottles of scotch to his motel room and studiously not talking about much of anything.

“Rachel.” Tim taps the bottle against the floorboards. “I’ll top you off.”

She stretches her glass out and lets him fill it up. “You think he’d be pissed if he knew about this?” At their blank stares, she adds, “Art. Seems like he’d be kind of mad.”

“Really?” Raylan contemplates the bottom of his glass. “I think he’d be disappointed at our lack of ambition.”

“Gotcha,” Tim says. “Gotta live up to our reputation.”

“Our reputation doesn’t need any help,” Rachel says.

“Yeah, well, I’d actually like to earn it, for once,” Tim says. He has a point. Raylan’s presence alone was enough to have them all branded troublemakers. “We just have to get more scandalous, right? So, what – we get completely shitfaced and claim it as a work expense?”

Rachel throws her head back and laughs. “Work expense?”

“Yeah.” Tim shrugs. “Physical therapy?”

“Lord,” Rachel says. “We don’t make very good lowlifes, do we? We can’t even be scandalous when we try.”

“That was just off the top of my head,” Tim says, and he sounds oddly annoyed not to be a good lowlife. “I mean, you already shot down my cult idea.”

“I didn’t,” Raylan points out from the other side of the room.

Rachel tips back her glass until she sees the bottom. No, Art wouldn’t be mad. He’d just be sort of resigned, just like he has been every day for the past couple of weeks, but it would have nothing to do with the scotch. She knew that look, even if she didn’t quite recognize it until the day they shot Doyle Bennett. It was a look he’d never leveled at her, or Tim – just Raylan.

It wasn’t quite fair, but Rachel understood. She’d had an addict for a sister. She knew what it was like to bury someone in her mind long before they were actually dead.

Maybe she should say something. She swears there was a period in there where they weren’t half bad at saying what was on their minds. It wasn’t too long ago they were holed up in Art’s office with that same brand of scotch, and considering the topics of conversation, it wasn’t as depressing as it could have been.

But then that was before Harlan started trailing after them all over again. She’ll never understand how that little backwater town can have a pull like a black hole even from so far away. Take one step inside and it'll slither after you for miles, like some goddamn horror movie serial killer that keeps getting up no matter how many times you shoot it.

“All right.” She waves her glass at Tim again. “One more.”

“See, that’s what I’m talking about,” Tim says as he obliges. “Maybe one day I’ll actually see you drunk.”

Rachel almost lies that she’s drunk now, but it would sound a little unconvincing with her crisp enunciation. She tells the truth instead. “I don’t get drunk.”

“Everybody gets drunk,” Tim says. “You just aren’t trying hard enough.”

“That,” Raylan mutters, half to himself, “or she’s Wolverine.”

The conversation grinds to a halt as they turn to stare at him. Maybe Rachel’s the only sober one after all. It would explain why Raylan’s so talkative: he’s usually content to sit back and watch Tim and Rachel argue in circles.

“All right,” Tim says. “Challenge accepted.”

“That wasn’t a challenge,” Rachel says. “Just stating a fact.”

“Hey.” Tim points at her glass. “Less talking. More drinking.”

She takes a dainty little sip, only half to piss him off. She’s never really seen the appeal in, as Tim puts it, ‘getting completely shitfaced.’ She may not have a service record or a hat or a cabinet of scotch, but she has her tongue, and she wouldn’t dull it for anything.

But she doesn’t say that, either. She just takes another miniscule sip.

“Never been drunk.” Tim sighs. Rachel isn’t sure how much of that deeply scandalized tone is sarcasm. “What did you do in high school, anyway?”

“Homework,” Rachel says. “Symphonic band. And when I was feeling really rebellious, sometimes I’d be the designated driver. Disappointed?”

“Depends on the instrument,” Raylan says.

“Cello,” Rachel says. “Third chair.”

Raylan considers that for a long moment. “Then not too disappointed, no.”

The conversation hits a lull, and the only sound filling the motel room is that of liquid sloshing, glasses being poured. And not that Rachel would know much about it – not that she really wants to know anything about it – but if this is getting drunk, it’s not working. She heard it makes you forget. That’s what all the addicts say, right? But she dwells more and more with every taste.

Maybe she’ll get lucky – she’s overdue for that. Maybe that day a month and a half ago will be the last time she sets foot in Harlan. She’ll never have to hear it again, that delicate, careful way the locals call her ‘ma’am.’ She’ll never have to listen to another well-meaning speech about how it’s not that bad, how they’re not all criminals, how it’s really just a nice little town. Perfect place to raise a family.

She supposes that part has a little truth. Harlan is all about family. The Bennetts. The Crowders. The Givenses.

She hears Raylan’s voice from behind her, much more subdued. “Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but I assume you two have to work tomorrow.”

Harlan is all about blood, whether it’s spilling onto the dirt or crisscrossing through people’s veins. But Rachel’s beginning to think blood doesn’t count for much after all.

“Maybe so.” Rachel exchanges a look with Tim as she lets the last drop fall onto her tongue. “But it’s not like we’ve got anywhere better to be.”

As explanations go, it's not a bad one. It sounds casual enough. And no one has to know that she means every word.