At the tender age of ten years old, Waverly Earp stole her Uncle Curtis’ shotgun.
Granted, she didn’t know the first thing about getting the darn weapon to shoot for her, and behind that deceptively cute little face she had already made rapid-fire plans for how she could nick an informational training manual from the library. (It wouldn’t be all that difficult, Mrs. Bailey-Custer had expressed on more than one occasion her pity for that ‘poor, poor little Earp sweety’, and while Waverly was a sweet kid, she was also a damn smart one, and not above a little harmless manipulation. In fact, she was darn good at it. If it didn’t hurt anyone else and it benefited her, she didn’t see the problem.)
The whole town sneered at her the same way they sneered at Wynonna, anyway. She needed all the help she could get. (They thought she didn’t notice; she was a child, not a blind invalid, thank you very much.)
If the library and sweet old Mrs. Bailey-Custer was her best chance at information, you can bet your sweet ass she was going to use it.
Earp’s were at a disadvantage in this town long before the attack on the Homestead, and now, it was all so much worse.
If you didn’t outwit them, they’d trample you. Kill you. Your spirit, your soul and any attempt at happiness you were still naively clasping.
Wynonna killed herself before any of the townspeople had a chance.
Waverly saw the reasoning behind it, but it wasn’t her style. And it wouldn’t get her where she wanted to go. Where she needed to go.
Variations on old adages had been parroting for years in every culture imaginable the idea of fight or flight.
As if those were the only two options. As if there were only one way to fight, one way to flee.
Wynonna fought with fists, with venom and with self-destruction. (And regular destruction, let’s be honest.)
Waverly fought with her mind. She fought behind the scenes, under the covers, in the dark corners of the garage, in dusty old textbooks.
(She thinks she’d be stupid not to have a fail-safe, though. Her mind is sharp, but guns are sharper. And quicker. She can’t be caught off guard, can’t afford to be. Her mind isn’t as quick as a bullet, that she recognizes. Her mind plays darn good defense, but offense calls for speed. For readiness. For quick, impulse reaction.
A shotgun should do the trick.)
The first time she holds the hulk of a weapon, she knows she must look like an idiot and the weight is intense, but she doesn’t allow herself to falter. The cool wood against her cheek is... intoxicating. She doesn’t feel like an idiot, not right then. She doesn’t feel like a ten-year old schoolgirl who looks more like a five-year old toddler.
She feels powerful. Ready. For the first time in her life, she feels like an Earp and it’s wonderful. Amazing.
She couldn’t help Daddy, couldn’t help Willa. Couldn’t stop Mama from leaving. But none of them ever believed she was worth anything in the first place.
Waverly would rather damn herself to hell than fail in helping everyone still left.
There had to be a way to break the curse without being the heir. Had to be. She refused to believe otherwise.
She had an entire decade before Wynonna turned 27.
That was plenty of time to research, to make the right connections, to come up with the right plans, to conquer using this beast of a shotgun, to plant seeds and watch them grow.
She was going to break this curse, and she knew her mind was sharp enough to do so.
The shotgun gave her desperately needed confidence, but a gun wasn’t going to be enough to beat this curse.
Not even Wyatt’s.
The gun was going to make her an Earp, but her mind was going to break the curse.
(She’d always preferred books and documentaries on the Cold War over any of the others, after all.)
Curtis gifted her his old, valuable shotgun as a graduation gift.
It was a weird graduation gift, in the grand scheme of things, but this was Purgatory and they were Earps.
(Weird for this family was set at a much higher bar.)
“This town sees you as a little girl that you are not, Waverly; that I’m not entirely sure you’ve ever been. But when you decide you want to stop fucking around and pretending to be some fragile little damsel in distress waiting for a Champ in Shining Armor, you’re going to need this. God only knows this fucking town is a hellhole, in more ways than one.”
A short pause hung heavy in the air, but his small, gruff but affectionate smile eased her mind.
“And I trust you with it, you’ve got the purest heart and the purest intentions of anyone I’ve ever met, Earp or otherwise.”
Waverly doesn’t say that intentions don’t always constitute actions.
She doesn’t say ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
Cliche’s are just attempts at campy wit by people without any, after all.
She just smiles — that wide, bright, radiant, sunshine and goodness smile that she knows puts a wall between her perky exterior and the thoughts underneath. She smiles her cheery Waverly Earp smile and gives him a bone-crushing hug, so much love and gratitude etched into every curve of her body.
— (In her defense, the hug was authentic even if the smile wasn’t.)
(She certainly never even entertains for the slightest second telling her Uncle that Gus had ruined the surprise several days earlier, and she’d very narrowly gotten caught returning the newly gifted shotgun — the one she’d been covertly using as her own for eight years — back to its padlocked, glass case because she’d already taken it out to threaten Champ with three days earlier.)
The first time seventeen year old Wynonna sees eleven year old Waverly wielding a fucking shotgun at their abandoned Homestead’s shooting range, she’s drunk off her ass with the Henderson boys, and her eyes blow out so wide that she coughs out her cheap vodka like a thirteen year old newbie.
Waverly takes every precaution to make certain — to make double certain — that Wynonna doesn’t remember what she saw the next day after her hangover, and after she’s certain, her shoulders finally relax.
(Wynonna doesn’t tell Waverly that she did remember. That she spent a lot of time trying to figure out if she should say something, and ultimately decided not to. If she says something, Waverly will start hiding these things a lot better, and Wynonna wants to know more. Needs to know more about the pre-teen that her sister is, because clearly she doesn’t know jack shit about her nerdy, overachiever goody-two-shoes baby girl if she’s — accurately, for gods sake — wielding an effing shotgun in the middle of what is now definitely nowhere.
She starts watching Waverly a lot more closely in the following years. Everyone in Purgatory — and several people far beyond — think Wynonna is nothing but an oblivious, delusional self-destructive drunk who couldn’t even define the word perceptive, let alone practice it.
But her sister is the one -- the only -- person she doesn’t allow herself to ignore.
It takes barely a month to figure out that Waverly Earp is, in many ways, not Waverly Earp.
Not, at least, the little bottle of bouncing sunshine the town thinks she is. The one Curtis and Gus thinks she is. The one Wynonna thought she was.
She’s so pissed at her own obvious ignorance towards the only person that’s ever been worth noticing that she smashes in every window on a dozen cars in the abandoned junkyard before Nedley shows up.)
— (She does eventually tell Waverly. Ten years later, once she realizes that all her attempts to force Waverly into normalcy have obviously failed, once she makes her — reluctant — peace with that, she tells her. All of it. The shotgun, the weird, sketchy treks through the wilderness on summer mornings, the worn and faded punching bag that she found in the abandoned garage outside the homestead, the time she followed Waverly to a park where the younger girl threatened and punched Georgia Benson for talking shit about Wynonna herself, the truth about why Gus and Curtis believed Waverly’s baggie of weed was planted there by someone else, the truth about why Wynonna actually left immediately following the events of their 2012 New Years without so much as a breath of air in Waverly's direction — all of it.
She drops these bombs, one after another, while they’re staked out together spying and taking pictures outside of Bobo’s circus freak ring he prefers to call a trailer park. Waverly’s snacking on peanut butter smeared chips, and her hand stops halfway to her mouth. Stays there, paralyzed. Wynonna exhales the smoke from the joint she’d been smoking and sets it down at her side, not quite meeting her sister’s eyes. Waverly takes a deep breath, spares a glance at the shotgun in question laying not-so-innocuously at her side, snatches the joint out of her sister’s hand and takes her own long hit.
Wynonna waits for a response and never gets one. Admittedly, she’s got no clue what she’d say if she were Waverly either. There’s not much you can say to that.)
The first time she notices Waverly making shy, bashful, covert smiles at the new Haught deputy, she finds it strange. She may be the only person who knows it, but Waverly’s not shy. Nor bashful, under normal circumstances. She pretends to be when it suits her, when it suits her agenda, but this isn’t pretending. Wynonna has watched her sister pretend for far too many years, and she’s spied on her when she isn’t pretending for far too many more. She damn well knows the difference.
This new woman is clearly shaking her sister to the core, and it’s...
It’s too much. She’s still trying ridiculously hard to make peace with the fact that she can’t keep Waverly out of the line of Earp fire — that even if she tried, Waverly would place herself there anyway — and goddammit, she’s trying to kill revenants to save this stupid, podunk backwards asshole-infested town that doesn’t deserve it and she can’t take it anymore.
She doesn’t want to be here. She wants to be on a topless beach in Greece, sipping stupid fruity drinks that taste great but do nothing helpful while a delightfully exotic man eats her out.
She can’t deal with the change anymore. So she compartmentalizes. She focuses on everything but Waverly, because she has to save this town.
She starts calling her ‘babygirl’ again way more often than her actual name, or even the nickname variants of it.
Because her 'babygirl' didn’t have a shotgun, didn’t know how to use it, didn’t punch someone to defend Wynonna’s honor, didn’t have a bag of pot stashed under her bed and certainly isn’t currently ducking her head bashfully at the new deputy.
It’s so much easier to pretend she knows nothing about who Waverly actually is.
It helps foster the delusion, helps keep her on track. Stay on track. Foster it deep, bury it in the caverns of her mind, padlock it shut.
Kill revenants. Tease Dolls. Call Waverly ‘Babygirl’. Fuck Doc till she can't walk the next day. Piss the ever-loving fuck out of Nedley. Drink until she can’t stand up. Call Waverly 'Babygirl' again. Kill another revenant. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Stay on track.
She can’t save her sister anymore. It’d probably be counterproductive to try, anyway.
(The person her sister actually is never needed saving in the first place, though. Was probably more equipped to save Wynonna than the other way around, if she lets herself admit that. She never does.)
Nicole sees more of Waverly than her girlfriend thinks she does.
She used to think the way Waverly’s mouth twitched sometimes was cute, but now she knows it’s a warning sign. It’s a sign of frustration, of pent up emotion of all kinds. Nicole’s not sure if Waverly’s been doing it more often lately or if she’s begun noticing it more often lately.
So when Waverly storms into her newly decorated bedroom and kicks the door shut with enough force to knock its hinges off, a month and a half after the conclusion of the Mikshun horror show, Black Badge’s disappearance act and Wynonna’s pregnancy revelation, Nicole lets Waverly take it out on her.
She’s not a stranger to rough sex, in any way, but most of her experiences with Waverly have teetered closer to the side of warm and gentle than rough and angry. Granted, they haven’t been having sex for that long — although they certainly made up for time with frequency — and there are certainly times it gets heated and a little rough, but it’s less frequent and it’s never been like this.
It feels like Waverly’s clawing at her, her nails digging and scratching and searching down the curves of her back, and Nicole hisses in pain, but it lasts hardly a second, because her girlfriend’s lips are a scorching, angry assault that assuages any and all pain of her previously savage nails with a sharp, hot jolt of electricity to her wet, overstimulated core and she can’t even feel her back anymore, it’s just pleasantly numb.
And when Waverly plunges two fingers into her warm, wet, slick heat — completely prepared, overstimulated, pulsing and aching with sopping liquid want — while never once breaking the intensity of the most passionately torturous kiss of her fairly experienced sex life, Nicole bucks against Waverly without abandon but with quite an impressive scream, expletives flying out of her mouth faster than she’s ever heard a vocalization of the English language.
“Fuck, ehhth — ungh — Wa — Wav — oh, shit, motherfu — har, harder! Waves, fu — ”
She breaks off at that point, because this is the time where Waverly usually makes a dorky but somehow still sexy joke, and she breaks the kiss just long enough to pull back and look into Waverly’s eyes.
It’s disconcerting, because it’s not the kind of peculiarity she saw when Mikshun took over, it’s something entirely different. It’s Waverly’s eyes — they’re not black, they’re not emotionless, but they’re vacant. Like she’s staring without seeing.
“Wave?” She says, still breathless and aroused, but with such a strong undercurrent of caution that's impossible to miss.
Maybe not impossible, though, because Waverly misses it entirely.
Nicole tries to prop herself up on her elbows, tries to speak again, but Waverly shoves her back down. Hard.
She can’t help but let out a moan, but it’s not pleasure. It’s pain; it’s not rough, nor is it pleasure and pain, it’s just hurt.
Waverly bites the shell of her ear, this time even harder than she pushed her, if possible, and Nicole actually yelps this time, like an abused animal.
When the small, petite power-house of a woman goes lower with the clear intention towards Nicole’s chest, a deep sense of honest to god fear envelops all of Nicole’s senses, but it’s not primarily fear for her well-being, it’s fear that she doesn’t know how to stop Waverly right now, because if this was her Waves, her completely conscious, entirely alert, loves her with the force of the Lion King Stampede Waverly, she would’ve stopped as soon as Nicole breathed out so much as a question.
Still entirely lost to reality, Waverly bit down between the valley of Nicole’s heaving breasts, drawing blood that would surely become one hell of a bruise and Nicole jumped, shrieked, her body a livewire in the worst possible way.
“Waverly, Khaaann! Umph, shit — Khann!”
Her last attempt at their safe-word must’ve held even more desperation and fear than even Nicole herself heard, because Waverly’s eyes bugged out, and she scrambled away from Nicole so quickly the blur of motion gave the redhead whiplash.
Waverly launched herself away in terror so quickly that the bedsheets wrapped around her ankles and she fell to the ground hard, twisted, tangled and utterly horrified.
“What — I — Nic — what — my...”
Nicole got off the bed immediately, physical pain irrelevant and forgotten in the face of Waverly's confusion, panic and distress, to crouch next to Waverly, her girlfriend’s sobbing face nestled into the crook of her neck.
“Wave, please, baby — ”
But it was incredibly apparent that Waverly couldn’t even hear her.
“Oh my god,” her voice was muffled, but her panic was so heartbreakingly clear, so sharp, so crisp, so devastating —
“Wa — ”
“Oh my god,” she repeated again, her green bugged eyes blown huge, skittish and appalled.
When Nicole reached a tentative hand to her girlfriend’s shoulder, it was smacked away with a skittish flinch.
“I — I can’t... I’m so... oh my god,” her tears were overflowing now, down her face, absolutely soaking her never fully discarded shirt, and she recoiled, whether in fear, terror or shame, Nicole didn’t know. All of the above, probably.
“Baby, please, it’s okay... you... just let me...”
“Go,” Waverly said, the force of the demand muffled by her ever increasing panic attack; “Please, Nic, go!”
Nicole backed away, the look in Waverly’s eyes convincing her to acquiesce to the demand.
Still hastily and erratically pulling her shirt around her shoulders as she bounded down the stairs, Nicole tried in vain to button it, her fingers shaking fiercely, her eyes wet with fear, pain and badly masked hurt, and Wynonna looked up from her position on the couch and chortled with a wolfish smirk — “Sheesh, Haughtstuff, a little modesty for my innocent eyes, please — I’m sure Waves plays by different rules, but for me it’s no shirt, no shoes, no service.”
It only took a millisecond to see that the situation was not at all what it seemed, and Wynonna immediately jumped to attention. “Nicole?”
“I’m — fine... fine.” She took a deep breath, steadying herself. “I’ll be okay. Waverly. Just... Waverly.”
Wynonna certainly didn’t need telling twice. She sprinted up the stairs in a rush of panic and frenzy that Nicole had never seen from the elder Earp before.
Seeing her sister emotionally torn to shreds, sobbing on the floor, twisted in bed sheets with a dripping red gash on her forehead, Wynonna had to hold back a snarl and an emotional tear-stained swallow all in one breath.
“Wave, Waverly, Babygirl?”
“No,” Waverly said, “No!” The force and sharp quality of Waverly’s voice made Wynonna recoil back immediately. She could count the number of times she’d heard that edge to Waverly’s voice on one hand in her entire life, and every time prior ended up culminating in a shitstorm.
“No what, babygirl?” Wynonna isn’t sure her voice had ever been that soft or that hesitant.
“No that! No ‘babygirl’, not right now! Not right now; god, not right now, maybe not ever,” she repeated, over and over. “No treating me like that, no talking to me like you don’t know, no talking like you don’t know me, like Gus would talk to me, none of that bullshit right now, I can’t take it! I don’t deserve it, I am not that person, I do not and will never deserve to be talked to like that person!”
“I... Wave, I know...”
“Do you?” Waverly is still sobbing, but by the force of her voice, you wouldn’t be able to tell. “You told me you did, but it seems you forgot.” She took a hard, long, painful breath and wiped her eyes. “I need you Wy... need you to talk to me. To me.”
Wynonna doesn’t think she’s ever been so frightened by Waverly, but she shoves this thought down, far, far, far down, and gulps with a hard voiced, “Okay.”
Waverly looks like she’s steeling herself to take a bullet. “I hurt Nicole.”
Wynonna’s eyes widened.
“She’ll forgive you, accidents —”
“Wasn’t an accident,” Waverly cut off determinedly, her fingertips still shaking.
“What — what was it then — ”
“Purposeful. I hurt her on purpose. Something’s wrong... really, really wrong.”
Wynonna blanched at her tone — it was rare to hear Waverly this terrified. Not lately, at least. She went and expelled a fucking demon from her body and started making jokes and herbal teas disguised as coffee. That was just Waverly. This was...
“Like.. Mikshun wrong?”
“No, no... at this point, I kind of wish it was still that. No, this was conscious — ” she stopped, a sob again, another wipe of her eyes; “It wasn’t a possession, it wasn’t some external persuasion — it was me. It wasn’t hazy like Mikshun was, it wasn’t... confusing. There were no gaps, no questions, no inability to control my own body. I did it, and I did it because I wanted to. There was this... god, it was like a click, or a shift, maybe. Wy, something changed in my mind, just like that, just like a snap, and I wanted to hurt her. Nicole. Wanted to hurt Nicole. Nicole, specifically. God, what's happening to me?”
“Waves...” Wynonna trailed off. “You... you wouldn’t, you didn’t... there’s, god, we fight crazy shit all the time, we’ll fight this. We don’t have to know what it is, we’ll figure it out...”
“I know what it is, because it was me. It was me, Wy.”
“No it wasn’t, Wave. For all the things these stupid Purgatory prude loving fucks would be appalled that you’ve ever done or could ever do, hurting anyone isn’t one of them. Could never be. We will figure out what it is, and we’ll fight against it, okay?”
A tiny, little smile curved on her face. “After all, fighting demons is what we do, right?”
Waverly nodded, but she was still so far away.
“I hope we can. Because it’s not an ‘it’ we’re fighting, Wy. It’s me. We’re fighting me. Because that part... that shift in my mind... it wasn’t horrified by that. Not in the least. It enjoyed it.”
A beat; a terrifying, silent, heavy with unspoken fear beat.
“I enjoyed it.”