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Wherever is Your Heart

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It wasn’t that Waverly didn’t want to be home, it was just that she’d been subconsciously avoiding it for almost a decade now. She could count on her left hand the number of times she’d stepped foot back in Ghost River County.

As she passed the ‘Welcome to Purgatory’ sign that lay just on the outskirts of town, her hands gripped the steering wheel of her rental car, knuckles white with the stress that began to build in the pit of her stomach, memories flashing back to the call she’d received just four days ago from her sister, Wynonna.

“Baby girl… I’m sorry but you have to come back… Willa’s dead.”

Waverly had never been close to her older sister, quite the opposite. Willa had tormented her when they were kids, hating the amount of attention tiny Waverly got from the family. She’d once been cruel enough to send the smaller girl out into the field with the cattle in search for her cabbage patch doll only to spook the creatures causing them to stampeded, nearly crushing the smallest Earp under their hooves.

Even after all the torment and the years estranged, the thought of her being gone forever, hurt more than Waverly would’ve guessed. She’d hopped the first plane back from England, leaving her Ph.D. thesis on ancient Egyptian texts on the shelf, wanting to be there more for her sister, Wynonna, than anything else.

The Homestead seemed quiet as she pulled down the driveway, only a light on in the dining room illuminated the porch through the window. The steps up to the front door made Waverly feel like she was walking through molasses. It’d had been over a year since she’d been back when Gus had gotten injured on a tractor.

The youngest Earp took a deep breath reaching her hand up to knock only to have the door swing open, Wynonna on the other side.

“Baby girl… fuck, it’s good to see you.” Her older sister tugged her into a forceful hug and Waverly wrapped her arms around Wynonna, the tension she’d felt moments before slowly melting.

While she hadn’t been home much, Wynonna had always made plans several times a year to pop in on her sister, whether she was in England, Egypt or elsewhere, so at least she’d be a friendly face among all the sadness that surrounded this trip.

“Come on, Gus will start to yell if I don’t drag you into the dining room to say your hellos.” Wynonna took Waverly’s hand, giving it a supportive squeeze before she led her to the table where Gus was sitting, papers sprawled out on the wooden surface.

“Waverly…” Gus stood, putting her pen down and taking off her reading glasses as she crossed over to her niece. She looked tired, eyes slightly bloodshot, bags underneath telling the world she hadn’t slept well in days.

Waverly pulled her into a hug, full of apologies, both for losing Willa and for tragedy being the only thing that brought her back these days.

“Hey hey… it’s okay…” Gus could feel the guilt through the hug and knew she needed to assuage the woman’s thoughts. “We’re glad you’re here.”

“So glad… I’ll put on some coffee.” Wynonna moved into the kitchen leaving Gus and Waverly to talk.

“I only know what I read in the papers…” Waverly took a seat across from Gus.

“Yeah, they didn’t paint a pretty picture did they…” Waverly reached over all the documents and took Gus’ hand in her own. “Police don’t have any leads… all they know is it’s definitely a homicide… someone they think who had grudge against Willa because it was so violent...” Gus’ words were shaky.

“Hey… it’s okay, we don’t need to talk about it.” The older woman looked at Waverly and smiled softly.

“There so much damn paperwork… why is planning a funeral this hard?”

“Let me help, please? I want to be useful.” Wynonna returned with a tray carrying three cups of coffee, cream, sugar and a bottle of Jack.

“Earp special, anyone?” All three women nodded.

“How are Robert and the kids?” Waverly took a sip of her coffee, enjoying the burn as it slid down her throat.

“Devastated. They were visiting Robert’s parents at the time and Willa was feeling a bit under the weather so she didn’t travel with them that weekend. Robert’s beside himself, blame, guilt, everything. I am pretty sure the only thing that’s holding him together are the twins.” Gus sighed, signing a few forms. “I agreed to make all the arrangements, take something off their plate. The coroner's office is supposed to release the remains tomorrow after all the tests have been run…”

“Waverly and I will go to the morgue. You don’t need to do that.” Wynonna placed a comforting hand on Gus’ shoulder.

“Thank you…” The house phone rang and Gus stood. “That will be your uncle…” She took the call in the other room, giving the sisters time to talk.

“I still can’t believe it....” Waverly was staring into her cup, watching as the steam drifted off the surface.

“It’s not fucking fair… she was one of the good ones, you know? Doc said they are bringing in Detectives from upstate. They think it’s connected to a small string of murders in Denver…”

It felt like something out of a made for tv movie and Waverly hated those.

“Whatever I need to do, just tell me. I’m here to help… I bought a one-way ticket.” Wynonna smiled and wrapped her arm around her sister’s shoulder.

“I’m just glad you’re here. I couldn’t do this without you.”

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Morning came all too quickly and reality set in as the light of day poured through the curtains of Waverly’s old room. Gus and Curtis had barely changed anything since she’d went off to college. The books were still on the shelves, pictures left in their frames gathering the slightest bit of dust around their corners.

After her shower, Waverly wandered the room, flipping through books, boxes of keepsakes, and pictures of times she’d long forgotten. The youngest Earp had been so transfixed with her trip down memory lane she hadn’t heard her door open.

“Yeah, not a whole lot has changed... “ Wynonna moved over to a bookcase, lifting a picture frame. The image was of Wynonna, Doc, Waverly, and Nicole. A small date, Summer 08’, etched into the corner of the frame. “Has it really been nine years…”

Waverly looked up and moved to stand next to her sister, taking the picture from her. ‘Nicole…’ Waverly smiled fondly, her thumb tracing the redhead’s face.

“I haven’t spoken to her in over two years…” Waverly sighed, replacing the picture on the shelf.

“I know.” Wynonna shook her head and chuckled.

“Oh right… you guys still keep in touch.”

“Well, she is my best friend… so yes. In fact, she’s…” Wynonna was interrupted by Gus hollering from downstairs.

“I’m headed into town! There’s coffee brewing and donuts on the counter.”

“Man, she’s the best… come on, we’ve got a 10 o’clock appointment with the morgue.”

Waverly wondered what Wynonna was going to say, but the moment had passed and she let the subject drop, more concerned with Willa and the family.

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After eating breakfast, the Earp girls headed into town. Waverly looked out the window as they passed building after building, practically unchanged. It was as if Purgatory itself was frozen in time. They pulled up to the morgue and Wynonna parked, glancing over at her sister.

“Do you want to come in? You don’t have to, I can handle this part.” Waverly shook her head, unbuckling her seatbelt.

“No, I want to come with you.” Wynonna nodded and hopped down from her truck, holding the front door open for Waverly. The smaller woman had always hated this place. Willa used to tell her it was haunted and threatened to lock her in here on more than one occasion when Waverly had done something particularly annoying to the eldest Earp. Waverly felt bad that the only memories she could think of at a time like this were bad, but if she was honest with herself, she didn’t have many good ones to rely on.

“Right this way, Wynonna…. Waverly.” The man at the desk nodded at the youngest Earp, leading them both down a hall. Willa had chosen to be cremated, so at least Waverly wouldn’t have to actually see a dead body. It was not on her list of things to do today.

Turning the corner, Waverly had been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t even seen the woman before they collided, a flash of red blinding her for a moment.

“Oh shit, sorry, ma’am.”

“No… no totally my fa… fault.”

“Waverly?” She was frozen in place as if her name had triggered some sort of hypnosis response.

“Haught...fancy meeting you here…” Wynonna clapped her hand on the taller woman’s shoulder, glancing back at her definitely shocked sister.

“Nicole.” When she’d finally found her voice, Nicole’s name was all she could manage. It had been almost a decade since she’d laid eyes on the other woman. Something she blamed herself for mostly. They’d exchanged the occasional phone call or email when she’d first left, but as the years drifted by and the miles apart grew only larger, the contact all but disappeared.

“I’m… I’m sorry about Willa.” Right, Waverly thought, there was a reason she was here, though why Nicole was at the morgue of all places, confused her.

“Thank you.” Waverly couldn’t really look Nicole in the eyes, so she fixated on what the other woman was wearing, a pair of form fitting gray jeans and a blue button down with small white dots lining the fabric. She looked good, really good.

“Um… I may have forgotten to mention that Nicole is one of the Denver Detectives I was talking about the other night.” Wynonna figured her admission could help break the awkwardness between the other two women.

“Yeah… you didn’t mention that.” Waverly shot Wynonna a stern glance.

Before Nicole could say anything her phone rang.

“I have to take this… um… it was good seeing you.” It was in this moment Waverly finally decided to look up, making eye contact with Nicole, cursing herself for not holding out longer. The soft smile that played on Nicole’s lips were still filled with too many memories which seemed stupid after 9 years, but it was all right there on her face.

“It was good to see you too.” It was a lie. Waverly had often thought of their reunion over the years, wondered what it would’ve been like to just randomly see her across a street or at a table in a dimly lit bar, but in a morgue collecting her sister's remains. Yeah, that was the last place she wanted to see Nicole after almost a decade.

Nicole shot Wynonna a slightly grumpy glance before moving down the hall to answer her phone. She was almost glad her partner had interrupted the moment.

“I tried to tell you this morning…” Wynonna followed her sister down the hall and into the room where all the urns were located.

“You should’ve tried harder…” Waverly’s words weren’t as cold as they looked on paper, but she was still reeling a bit from the surprise reunion.

“It’s been 9 years, Waves, part of me figured it wouldn’t matter?”

“It doesn’t… it’s cool. Just a bit surprising. Um, which one did Gus want?” Waverly wanted to stop talking about Nicole, there was too much going on to process all of this at once. Wynonna let her sister deflect the situation, knowing they’d get around to it eventually and after several drinks.

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“Well as I live and breathe, if it isn’t the world traveler.” Doc smiled as he saw Waverly and Wynonna enter Shorty’s, his arms opened wide to embrace the youngest Earp. She grinned as he enveloped her in a big bear hug.

“I’m glad you’re back, even if it’s not on the best of terms.” She squeezed him before pulling back and reaching up to tug on his mustache.

“Really getting into the westerns these days?”

“Hey, they have come back into style…”

“Maybe… for porn stars.” The group chuckled as they slid onto the bar stools. It was all familiar and Waverly actually found herself relaxing.

“Rosita! Darling, three whiskeys, make it the finest.”

The bartender emerged from the back, tossing a towel over her shoulder.

“You shout like you own the place.”

“That’s because I do.” Doc smiled and winked at the bartender.

“You own 50%, don’t make me turn my 50% into a hipster coffee shop.” Doc grimaced at the thought.

“They went in together on the place after Shorty retired, probably the best and worst idea they ever had.” Wynonna nodded a thank you to Rosita as she placed the glasses in front of them.

“Hey, Waverly… welcome home?” Rosita offered the youngest Earp a sympathetic smile.

“Thanks, Rosita.” She lifted her glass to the bartender before dropping the liquid down her throat in one quick motion, Doc and Rosita looking at her confused.

“Ran into Nicole.” Wynonna mouthed quietly to the other two as Waverly poured herself another shot.

“Slow it down baby girl, we’ve got all night.” Wynonna put a hand over Waverly’s glass after she tried to pour shot number three. Waverly glared at her but acquiesced, leaning back in her chair.
They spent the night talking and drinking, catching up mostly. Waverly told stories from her days in the Peace Corp and her research in Egypt. The drinks poured forth into the evening, Waverly losing count of how many she’d consumed.

“Alright, kids. Time to close everything out. You good to drive, Wynonna?” The older sister nodded, having switched to water several hours ago. Rosita answered her phone, a smile on her face. “Yeah babe, I’ll meet you out back in five. Love you too.”

Waverly took note of the conversation and smiled. “Awww… Rosita finally met someone in this one gay horse town? Who is it?” Doc was about to answer, but his eyes met Wynonna and she was frantically motioning for him to shut his trap.

“No one you know, darlin’. Come on, let’s get you home.” Doc stood and tossed an arm around Waverly’s shoulder, helping led the woman out of the bar and back to Wynonna’s truck. As Waverly drifted off to sleep against the window, her dreams filled with flashes of red and the sweetest of smiles.

Chapter Text

“Hey, baby girl…” Wynonna rapped lightly on the door to her sister’s bedroom. It was just past 11 am and she’d delayed waking Waverly up for as long as she could.

“Mmmm ten more minutes…” Wynonna chuckled and cracked the door open, seeing a disheveled Waverly tangled in a pile of blankets.

“I wish I could let you sleep, but it’s almost noon and Gus has been bothering me non stop about you since ten.” Wynonna made her way over to the bed and placed a cup of coffee and two Advil on the nightstand. “Up and at’em.”

Waverly sighed loudly, eyes peeking open as her arm reached for the pills. She wasn’t sure two painkillers would be enough to silence the beating against her skull, but it was better than nothing. “You let me drink too much…” Wynonna shook her head and sat down next to Waverly.

“Oh no Waves, I made sure you didn’t drink yourself into oblivion, you were like me at 18, no one was gonna tell you that you had too much.” Waverly sat up and popped the pills, no water needed. “We’re um… wanted down at the station in about an hour. Some kind of routine questioning. I think they’re trying to figure out if Willa had any enemies…”

“Not sure how much help I can be, Willa and I talked like, twice a year on our birthdays for all of five minutes…”

“Yeah, but they want to cover all the bases, you know? They already talked to Gus and Curtis, we’re next on the list.” Waverly took a long sip of her coffee, smiling as the liquid gold warmed her insides.

“Wait… who is doing the questioning?”

Wynonna avoided Waverly’s gaze, staring at the ceiling. “Um… Nicole and her partner Xavier…”

Shit, Waverly thought, the pounding in her head now the least of her worries.

“Hey, um… I can ask if you just talk with Xavier? You know, if it’s too weird?” Waverly was quick to respond, almost too quick.

“No...no.. don’t be silly. We’re all adults, Nicole and I… that was ages ago.” So why did it feel like just yesterday they had been sneaking away to the cabin at the Homestead?

“You sure?” Wynonna knew her sister better than anyone else, and she could tell seeing Nicole wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but she’d let Waverly dig her own grave if she was too stubborn to admit the weird air between them.

“Yeah… definitely. I’ll get dressed.”

“Alright, baby girl, we leave in 30.” Wynonna exited Waverly’s room and the smaller woman fell back into the soft pile of pillows.

“You can do this, you’re both adults, it was almost a decade ago, just breathe and answer the questions… simple, easy.”

It took Waverly the entire 30 minutes to figure out what to wear and to make herself presentable, even cute, some would say. She’d tossed on a light green dress, ankle high boots and an assortment of jewelry. It wasn’t too over the top, but Wynonna could tell it wasn’t casual Waverly either.

The station was bustling much more than normal, a few familiar faces and some new passed by the sisters as they sat in the waiting area. With each minute Waverly could feel her nerves grow. Wynonna must have sensed the tension because after about ten minutes of waiting she reached out and squeezed Waverly’s hand, attempting to comfort the smaller Earp.

“Hey, Wynonna.” A man dressed sharply in smart jeans and a black button down approached the two women. “You must be Waverly, I’m Dolls, Xavier Dolls, Nicole’s partner.” He extended his hand and Waverly took it. “Wynonna, you’re up first. If you’ll follow me.” Wynonna squeezed Waverly’s hand one more time before following the attractive detective back to an interview room.

Sitting all alone in the station, Waverly could feel her thoughts wandering back to her unexpected run in with Nicole. She’d acted like an idiot, freezing and hardly speaking to the taller woman. It was a bit of mess and she hoped she could make a better impression the second time around.

“Waverly Earp, it’s been too long.” Sheriff Nedley grinned as he put down the files in his hand and moved to hug the youngest Earp.

“Hey, Sheriff!”

“Does Chrissy know you’re in town?” Waverly shook her head.

“You know I won’t be able to keep it from her, you should go grab coffee, I know she’d loved to catch up.”

“Yeah, that actually sounds kind of nice. It’s been a few years since we’ve talked outside of emails and such.”

“I’m sorry to hear about Willa, we’re working around the clock to catch the asshole that did it.” Waverly smiled softly. The Sheriff was a good man, always extremely kind to her. Chrissy had been one of her best friends growing up and while they hadn’t seen much of one another, they remained in relatively constant contact via emails and texts.

“Thank you, Sheriff, it means a lot. If there’s anything you need, you let me know.”

“I was about to say the same to you.” He smiled. “I’ve got to run, bit of an issue over at Shorty’s, but call Chrissy, she’ll want to see you.” Waverly nodded and waved goodbye as he headed out of the station.

It would be another 20 minutes before Wynonna returned from her interview.

“You’re up, just don’t tell them about the body we hid behind the barn when we were little.” She said the last bit loud enough for Dolls to hear, but he just shook his head and motioned for Waverly to follow him.

“This should be pretty painless, just a few questions so we can get the whole picture. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, let us know.” Waverly nodded, wondering if it would be too soon to say she was already feeling uneasy.

They entered the room and Nicole was standing in the far right corner, file in hand, flipping through a few pages. Waverly took this moment to look at her. She really did look good, the detective style of slacks and button downs suited her quite well and the gun holster that wrapped her torso accentuated all of the right features.

“Just have a seat.” Nicole looked up from her file as Dolls spoke, smiling at Waverly.

“Hello again.”

“Hi.” That was good so far. Waverly congratulated herself silently for not fumbling over one word. Baby steps.

Nicole continued to stand as Dolls took the seat across from Waverly.

“So the main question we want to ask is if you knew of anyone that disliked your sister? Maybe someone with a grudge?” Dolls pulled out a pen while he spoke.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been back in town, so I wouldn’t know of anyone recently… there were a few girls that were a bit bitchy in high school, but that was pretty standard? Outside of that, I don’t know.” Dolls made some notes.

“You were in England right? When was the last time you visited Purgatory?” Nicole had switched from sweet and polite to a more business like mode and Waverly was actually grateful.

“Yeah, I’ve been studying in London for the past two years. I think the last time I came back was when Gus had that tractor accident a year or so ago.”

“Um… this was left at the crime scene, I’m not sure Wynonna mentioned it.” Nicole pulled out an evidence bag from a box and placed it on the table in front of Waverly. It was a note, blood staining the corners.

Waverly slid the evident bag closer to her. Hieroglyphics. Waverly felt her chest tighten as she examined the symbols.

“Can I borrow a pen and some paper?” Dolls tore out a page from his notebook and gave her a pen.

Waverly began writing down letters, trying to determine if there was a pattern to it all. As the phrase began to come together, Waverly dropped the pen, freezing in her seat, the color draining from her cheeks.

“Waves… what is it?” Nicole moved quickly to Waverly’s side, placing a hand on her shoulder. The light touch broke Waverly’s trance and she looked at Nicole, several tears pooling her in eyes as she directed the detective to look at the paper.

“Clue number one for my Waverly…. I.”

“What the fuck… Dolls… can you go get Wynonna.” He nodded and exited the room.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Nicole knelt beside the chair, putting an arm around Waverly.

“I don’t understand…”

“We’ll get to the bottom of this… I promise.” Nicole was rubbing soft circles on Waverly’s back, trying her best to comfort her.

“Waves!” Wynonna practically burst into the room, dropping down on the side opposite of Nicole. Dolls had filled her in on what had been discovered.

“It’s okay… it’s not your fault, none of this is your fault.” She took her sister in her arms and felt Waverly’s body shake, tears streaming down her cheek and onto the leather of her sister’s jacket. Nicole motioned at Dolls to give them a minute, and she stood, locking eyes with Wynonna and mouthing an ‘I’m sorry’ before leaving the interview room so the two sisters could talk.

“Shhh… it’s okay, Waverly. Who knows what this means…”

“It’s pretty fucking obvious isn’t it? Some sick psycho killed my sister and I’m connected somehow… I mean Egyptian of all things!” Waverly’s mind was racing, trying to think of all the possible people that could commit such a crime. She’d met so many strangers on her travels and anyone she exchanged stories with could’ve done it.

“No… no, you aren’t gonna do this. It’s not your fault, you weren’t even here.”

“But what if something I said led to this? My stories about Willa aren’t great, Wynonna, I never painted her in the nicest light… what if someone I met took it all to heart? What if my stories to some stranger in a bar led them here to Purgatory?”

Nicole knocked on the door before entering, a cup of tea and a box of tissues in hand.

“Here… It’s um, jasmine with a bit of honey and one sugar cube.” She placed the items in front of Waverly. In any other situation, the younger Earp would’ve thought it ridiculous sweet that Nicole still remembered what tea she liked and how to fix it, but at this moment she just wanted to curl up into a ball on the floor.

“What else do you know about the murder.” Wynonna released Waverly slightly, keeping one arm around her sister. “And don’t bullshit me, Haught.” Nicole nodded.

“Time of death, around 8 pm, she bled out from the wounds, lacerations on the body consistent with the cuts normally made during the Egyptian mummification process. Most of her organs were removed and left next to her body in small urns.” Nicole knew Wynonna didn’t want her to hold any detail back, no matter how gory, but she wasn’t so sure about Waverly.

“Can I see the pictures?” Waverly’s tears had stopped, but her words were soft.

“Of course.” Nicole took them out of the file and handed them to her.

It was brutal, blood spattered everywhere. She should’ve flinched, felt something like disgust at the images, but Waverly had all but shut off her emotional receptors, anger setting in and taking control, turning on her analytical brain.

“The hieroglyphs weren’t sophisticated… it was as if someone was spelling out English words with common symbols that referenced letters. Wynonna said that you were here because you believe there was a connection to a few murders in Denver?”

“There were two homicides, homeless people. No notes, but their organs were removed and placed in urns, just like Willa. It was odd enough that the county called us down here.”

Waverly took a deep breath, picking up the note, eyes scanning over the blood stained page. “The note said clue one… There will be more… Willa won’t be the last.”

Chapter Text

Waverly ended up at Shorty's. It was the only place she knew to go to that felt warm. The Homestead was cold, there was too much of Willa there and at least at Shorty’s she could drown out the past few hours with a few beers.

“Welcome, little Earp. What can I get you?” Rosita smiled as Waverly entered the room, wiping off a section of her bar top and motioning for the other woman to have a seat. She could see the storm cloud following Waverly a mile away. “Actually, I’ve got just the drink for you.”

“What’s that?” Rosita winked at Waverly and instead of answering the question verbally, she began to mix a drink.

“I call it a clean slate.” She tossed an orange garnish on the edge of the glass and slid it towards Waverly. “Don’t ask what’s in it, you don’t want to know, but I guarantee you won’t taste it.”

“Thank you... “ Waverly attempted a weak smile and sniffed the drink once before bringing the glass to her lips. It was sweet, with a hint of orange and clove. It didn’t burn as much as she had expected, which could be good or bad.
“This is tasty, Rosita… really.” The bartender grinned and leaned her elbows onto the wooden surface across from Waverly.

“So where the hell have you been? Wynonna mentioned Egypt and then the UK?”

“Yeah, Masters in Egypt, working on my Ph.D. in England, I was in the middle of finishing my thesis when… “

“Hey hey… drink, none of that. Clean slate, remember.” Waverly smiled a bit more sincerely and took another sip.

“So Egypt, what was that like? Sounds a bit nuts. The farthest I’ve been is Toronto.”

“It was hot… cause… well, desert. But the people were amazing and the culture, Rosita, it's so deep, I mean one of the first major civilizations… there’s history in every stone.” Rosita smiled as Waverly became excited. “I recommend Egypt to everyone, even if you aren’t a massive history nerd like I am.”

“I’ll toss it on the bucket list.”

They spoke on and off for hours. Waverly wasn’t sure how many ‘clean slates’ she had, but enough for Rosita to call Wynonna when she began to close up.

“Your sister will be here in about 10, I’ll be right back, gonna close up the stock room. Don’t even think about escaping, I nicked your keys an hour ago.” She waved the jingling metal at Waverly before disappearing into the back.

Waverly spun a few times on her bar stool, enjoying the carefree feeling alcohol had given her. She was so lost in feeling spaced that she didn’t hear the back door open. She did, however, hear Nicole’s voice.

“Rosita?” Waverly didn’t answer, frozen on her stool. “Baby? You done in here.”

‘Baby?’ Waverly gripped the bar, steadying herself. Suddenly her world didn’t feel so light anymore.

“Ros?” As soon as she stepped into the main room of the bar her eyes locked onto Waverly and the other woman stared right back, not really sure what else to do. “Waverly… Hey… I um, didn’t know you were here…”

“I figured.” She could tell by Waverly’s now defensive body language that she’d heard the pet name directed at Rosita. Apparently, Wynonna had not told her like she was supposed to. Perfect.

“Hey Waverly, I think Wynonna just pu…. Pulled up.” Rosita stood in the doorway to the stock room, looking at her girlfriend and then back at Waverly.

“Um… thanks for all the drinks Rosita, really.” Waverly tossed way too much cash on the bar and darted for the door, almost running her own sister over as she careened out of Shorty’s.

“Truck… now… please just drive.” Wynonna regained her balance and chased after her sister, sliding into the driver’s seat.

“Waves, what the hell?”

“Just get me out of here okay?”

“Alright alright.” Wynonna tossed the truck into reverse and sped out of the parking lot and back towards the Homestead.

“You knew… why didn’t you tell me?” Waverly’s voice was soft but hard, with an edge to each syllable.

Then it clicked. Nicole’s car had been in the parking lot, she should’ve put two and two together sooner.

“I tried to, baby girl, but there just didn’t seem to be a good time.”

“How long?”

“Um... about two years?”

Waverly wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol in her system destroying her filter or just the emotions overflowing from the whole day, but she slammed her hand hard against the dashboard.

“Waves… God. I mean I knew you wouldn’t be happy, but fuck, it was almost 10 years ago…” Wynonna really hadn’t expected Waverly to be so hurt by it and she wondered if the news of Rosita and Nicole had just been the cherry on the worst sundae ever.

“Yeah well, I still would’ve liked a heads up… maybe don’t wait 2 years to tell me the love of my life has forgotten me, yeah?”

“Love of your… Waves? You were 19, it was for like 3 months…”

“When did you know Doc was the one?”

Wynonna paused and thought about the question, though she could’ve answered it right away. “After he punched Champ’s lights out that time he copped a feel at Homecoming…”

“Exactly, you hadn’t even started dating and you knew.” Waverly was staring out of the window into the darkness.

“Then what kept you away? If you loved her so damn much, why did you stay gone for so long?”

The million dollar question. One Waverly wasn’t even sure she could answer completely.

“All my life, everyone told me I was better than this town, that I’d been born for greatness, that my mind was wasted here... “ She took a deep breath. “I felt like I owed it all of them to get out, to go make something of myself, achieve that ‘greatness’ everyone dreamed about for me… even Nicole wanted me to spread my wings… I would’ve followed her anywhere and instead, she just became another person telling me to fly away… So I did.”

Wynonna reached across the seat and squeezed her sister’s leg. She could feel Waverly’s hurt as if it was an extension of her own.

“ I didn’t know…”

“I didn’t either…”

The rest of the drive was quiet, but that night the two Earp sisters curled up together on the couch, ate popcorn, and fell asleep to a National Geographic documentary about Beluga Whales.
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“Calamity! Did you miss us?” Rosita bent down as the cat purred loudly, rubbing its body against the woman’s legs.

“She’s been alone for like an hour…” Nicole tossed her jacket on the coat rack and took Rosita’s from her.

“Yeah, but when you were home did you sit on the couch and love on her… or did you bury your nose into those case files still strewn across the kitchen table?”

“Guilty as charged.” Nicole raised her hands in surrender.

“Mmm, guess I’ll need to read you your rights…” Rosita hooked her fingers in Nicole’s belt loops and tugged her girlfriend hard against her. “You have the right…” Rosita kissed her. “To…” kiss. “Get naked.” Rosita grinned, pressing her lips against Nicole’s again as fingers easily popped off button after button of the taller woman’s shirt.
“A strip search already… I’ll need to see your warrant.” Nicole slipped her arms around Rosita’s waist.

“I’ll give you a hint… it’s somewhere on me.”

“Well… in that case, time to search for clues.” Nicole dipped her head, placing a trail of kisses along Rosita’s neck and across her collarbone as her hands skillfully pulled off her girlfriend’s jeans.

Calamity Jane knew she’d been forgotten completely, for the time being, so she moved right over to the slowly growing piles of clothes and after circling the fabric and kneading it between her paws, she settled in, waiting until her owners to stop making so much noise.

Chapter Text

“So… Waves knows.” Wynonna leaned back in the diner booth, playing with her coffee mug.

“Yeah… I figured when she practically sprinted out of Shorty’s… I thought you were gonna tell her before she came back?” Nicole took a long sip of her tea, starring Wynonna down with resolve.

“I tried… a few times, shit’s just so fucked right now.” Nicole nodded. She understood that her dating life was really at the bottom of the long list of drama they were now dealing with, but even after all this time she still hated seeing Waverly upset, even if it was something that couldn’t really be helped.

“It’s okay… it was bound to happen... “ Nicole wasn’t sure why it felt so weird, as if a part of her had cheated on Waverly. 9 years was a long time, they’d only spoken once via email since she and Rosita had started dating. There was never really a good time to tell Waverly as was she even supposed to tell her?

“I’ll be real with you Haught… she was pissed last night…” Wynonna knew what that meant, but she didn’t want to meddle too much in her sister and best friend’s love lives.

“Pissed? Whatever for? We dated almost a decade ago…” Wynonna shrugged and took a long sip of her coffee hoping the officer wouldn’t pry too much. Nicole always could see past her fibs.
“Anyway, is there any update on the case? I know I know… you aren’t supposed to share too much, but what good is having you on the case if I don’t get inside info?” Wynonna flashed a small grin to her best friend.

“Nothing new yet, the killer barely left anything identifiable at the site. We’ve checked just about everything and all we found was Bobo and Willa’s DNA. And since Bobo has a rock solid alibi seeing as how he was pulled over for speeding three counties over when the murder occurred, we are kind of shit out of luck with leads.” Nicole didn’t like admitting an investigation was stalling, especially one so close to her heart, but she knew Wynonna wanted the whole truth, no sugar coating.

“Fuck that asshole… whoever they were….” Nicole reached out across the diner table and covered one of Wynonna’s hands with her own, offering her a gently reassuring squeeze.

“I’m working around the clock. I will find them, I won’t rest until I do.” Wynonna squeezed Nicole’s hand back in response.

“Come on, let’s get out of here. I need to shoot something… or punch someone.”

-----------------------------

“Time of death was between 8 and 9pm, cause of death was most likely the laceration to the throat that coupled with the loss of blood, she wouldn’t have lasted longer than a few minutes once they murder hand begun cutting her open.” The medical examiner moved around the body on the table. “I’m assuming the rest of her is in those urns?” She pointed towards the collection the other officers had brought in.

Nicole nodded and motioned for the other officers besides Dolls to leave the room. “It was almost an identical scene to the one we found with Willa… and apparently at the same time if your estimations are correct.”

“I’ll run tests on everything, see if we can collect any DNA other than hers from the urns or body.”

“We have some other samples to test that I already handed over to your assistant. Could be Stephanie’s husband’s or her daughter’s, but we’ve got samples from them to compare and rule them out if needed.”

“Thank you detective. I’ll call as soon as the results are in.” Sheila, the medical examiner, began work as Dolls and Nicole exited the lab.

“There was another note… should we bring Waverly in again to decipher it?”

“Yes, she happens to be our resident Hieroglyph expert. Um… you do it though, I’ll go meet with Stephanie’s husband and daughter.”

“You still owe me the story about you and baby Earp.” Nicole shrugged him off and slid into her truck as Dolls hopped in his.

“I’ll meet you back at the station in a few hours.” Her partner nodded and drove off. Nicole slipped her phone out of her pocket and dialed Wynonna’s number.

“Hey, Wynonna…”

“Stephanie… huh?”

“Word does travel fast around here…”

“It doesn’t make any damn sense. Outside of being rude, Stephanie never hurt a soul. Maybe bruised some egos, but hell for that I’d have been cut down ages ago.”

“Yeah, well Dolls is on his way over to the Homestead, there was another note in hieroglyphs.... I won’t lie, I’m sort of nervous to find out what it says…”

“You and me both. I’ll head over there now.”

“Good, I know y’all weren’t that close to Stephanie, but still, this whole town has to be on edge. It will be nice to know Waverly won’t be alone…”

“Yeah…” Wynonna wanted to call out Nicole’s soft spot for her sister, but she let it slide, the circumstances being what they were at the moment.

“Call me if you need me, Earp.” Nicole hung up on her best friend and took a deep breath, beginning the drive back to Stephanie’s house to meet with her family. She hated this part.

---------------

“All who hurt her will feel my wrath….” Waverly’s face scrunched up.

“Does it hint at who ‘her’ might be?”

“No… though it does use a symbol that would indicate she’s a Goddess of sorts, so maybe not a person, but more a concept? Someone or something this person worships? There have been some weird cults here over the years, though I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Dolls took the note from Waverly and looked at it closely again. “The murders definitely feel ritualistic, maybe a cult is at play here. I am not sure how the two murders in Denver relate, but those could’ve been practice… some killers have been known to murder homeless as testers before they take on the actual targets... “

Waverly shuttered a little. “But why Willa and then Stephanie. All who hurt her… how did they offend this killer? Or whoever this ‘her’ is ?”

“It’s unclear at the moment….” Wynonna entered the Homestead as Dolls stood, prepared to take his findings back to the station.

“So, did you translate it?” Dolls looked at her, almost confused as to how she knew what they had been doing.

“Best friend, remember.” Dolls sighed and shook his head.

“Right, if you think of anything else, Waverly, you know where to find me.” The youngest Earp nodded and the officer exited the homestead.

“First Willa and now Stephanie?” Waverly stood up, grabbing a bottle of Makers from the cabinet and pouring two glasses.

“It’s the Egyptian shit that creeps me out… I can’t help but feel like it’s connected to you somehow? I mean who the fuck else knows about this shit… what if you’re one of their targets, Waves?” Wynonna sat down next to her sister and sipped on her drink.

“I know… I know. I’ve been thinking the same thing. I don’t think it's a coincidence…”

The two women sat in silence for a few minutes, letting the reality of the world slowly creep in around them.

The moment was broken by the ringing from Wynonna’s cell phone.

“Hey Haught… yeah I am with her. Yeah, I agree. Okay, I hear you. Yeah, you know I will. Okay, I’ll see you later.”

Waverly stared at her sister, confused expression gracing her face.

“Apparently Nicole was on the same page as us, thinks this has something to do with you. She wanted to put a cop detail on 24/7.”

“What? No… I do not need to be babysat, I can take care of myself….” Wynonna smiled.

“I know I know, and those oafs down at the station are no match for you. So Doc and I are gonna take on the task. Sorry baby girl, we can’t risk it.” Waverly wanted to protest, but she saw the resolve in her sister’s face and part of her really wanted someone with her at all times because there was definitely something in the back of her mind telling her she was more connected to this than she wanted to admit.

Chapter Text

Wynonna and Doc had been trading off shifts with Waverly and while the youngest Earp appreciated the dedication, it was hard to not feel like she was being babysat. Waverly had been sent to Shorty’s so Doc could watch her and work a bit. Besides, Waverly needed a drink and some time away from the Homestead.

Dolls and Nicole had found a fingerprint outside of Stephanie’s family at the crime scene, but it wasn’t in the police database. It was at least a start, even if it meant they’d have to test everyone in the town in one way or another.

“I can’t help but feel like we’re just waiting for the next murder…” Rosita poured Waverly a glass of whiskey and slide a basket of fries towards the younger woman.

“You and me both.” Waverly hadn’t really spoken to Rosita since she’d discovered the hot bartender was with Nicole, but things weren’t too awkward, at least not while everyone had bigger fish to fry.

“He’s bound to mess up somewhere… left a fingerprint at the last scene… he’ll get sloppy, they all do.” Doc lit a cigarette.

“Sounds like you’ve been watching too many forensic files with Wynonna…” The door opened and Dolls and Nicole entered, the tall woman removing her stetson and placing it on the bar.

“Hey babe…” Rosita let the b word slip out forgetting that Waverly was in ear shot until her girlfriend looked over at the youngest Earp. “Um… Dolls. What’ll you have?”

“Just a coke. Still on duty.”

Rosita nodded and smiled sweetly at Nicole. The redheaded officer returned the smile and approached the bar with her partner.

“What brings the law into my fine establishment?” Doc tipped his hat at the two detectives.

“Do either of you know anything about Mercedes Gardner?”
“Outside of her being made of money, her family being a little nuts, and her being a bitch with a heart of gold? Her words, not mine, that’s about all I know.” Waverly did her best to avoid eye contact with Nicole, focusing on her partner, Dolls, instead.

“Yeah… that’s pretty much the summary we are getting. Her sister Beth reported her missing as of two days ago. She was last seen at the market off of 5th street.”

“Do you think it’s related to the killings?”

“Hard to say at this point. The serial killer case hasn’t involved abduction.”

“Mercedes does have a rather large list of people that wanted her gone, her sister included some days.” Rosita shrugged and continued to clean glasses.

“Keep your eyes and ears out then, if you hear anything, let us know.” Doc tipped his hat again and Nicole winked at Rosita before leaving Shorty’s.

Waverly tried hard not to bristle. She had no right to, hell she hadn’t had that right to Nicole in years, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit hurt seeing her happy and knowing it had nothing to do with her.

Before anyone could say anything else, Wynonna entered the bar.

“I just missed Haughtstuff and pretty boy, didn’t I?” The group nodded. “Well shit… I think I may have a tiny lead for them, come on Waves, we’re gonna cut them off at the station.” Wynonna tossed her jacket at her sister and held the door open for her.

“I’ll fill you in later, love.” She smiled at Doc and the Earp women headed out to Wynonna’s car.

“Okay, spill.” Waverly slid into the passenger side of her sister’s truck.

“What do Willa, Steph and Mercedes all have in common?”

“Um… they were all kinda mean? But like, most women in this town are….”

“Waves… they were all mean to you. ‘All who harm her with feel my wrath… or whatever…” The realization hit Waverly like a sledgehammer to the face.

“What….” It was true, each one of those women had been cruel to Waverly at some point, but did they really make her special? They’d been mean to other people before.

 

“The whole town knew that Willa practically tortured you when we were kids, remember the time she sent you out onto the ice of the lake and you fell in. If Bobo hadn’t been there, I’m almost positive Willa would’ve left you to drown… and you remember your 10th birthday. Stephanie ruined it by breaking your Barbie cruise boat all because she wanted one but didn’t get one for her birthday. You cried for like three days over that boat, not to mention when she tried to steal Champ away from you when you were 14 by spreading rumors around the whole school…. I don’t normally speak ill of the dead, but I still remember how good it felt to break her nose before Homecoming….”

“Okay okay, I get it…. But Mercedes? I mean she was mean to everyone and I don’t remember her doing anything that was specifically targeted at me.”

Wynonna got a little quiet.

“What… “

“You remember that rumor that went around that you were pregnant with Champ’s kid junior year? Well, you can thank Mercedes for that one. She was pissed Doc asked me to prom instead of her and she knew rumors wouldn’t hurt me cause I didn’t give a fuck, but hurting you, well that would be way more effective.”

“That bitch! It took me weeks to convince people that was a lie…. My entire locker got filled with baby formula and condoms for weeks….”

“Yeah… and Mercedes didn’t go to prom that year because I busted her lip open and gave her two black eyes… No wonder Nedley hated me…”

“Wait, we don’t know Mercedes’ disappearance is due to the murder though…”

Wynonna pulled into the station.

“No… but give it a day, I bet my truck we’ll find her dead somewhere with her organ placed in a bunch of creepy urns.”

Wynonna and Waverly ignored Nedley’s pleas to stay behind the counter as they moved past him and into the room Dolls and Nicole had taken over.

“Why hello, knock much?” Dolls shook his head.

“I think this is more important than a courtesy knock.”

Wynonna filled them in on her theory and Nicole took detailed notes.

“If it turns out Mercedes is dead… I wouldn’t rule this out as motive... “ Nicole glanced over at Waverly.

“Waves, can you think of anyone else that has hurt or wronged you?”

The youngest Earp tensed as her nickname rolled off of Nicole’s lips. “Umm… I can probably make a list… I got picked on a lot.”

Nicole shifted a pad of paper and pen over to Waverly.

“Um… let’s see, there was Champ, he cheated on me and was an all around asshole. There was Carl who spread a rumor that I’d slept with him and was easy and the whole fucking football team used to give me shit until I kicked Carl so hard he wasn’t gonna be able to have sex or even lie about it for quite some time….” Wynonna laughed at the last one, remembering that moment fondly and being proud of her baby sister.

Before Waverly could name anymore, Nedley knocked on the door.

“Sorry to interrupt what I am sure is important business…” Wynonna stuck her tongue out at Nedley. “Mercedes Gardner was found dead at a small cabin just west of town. Same as the others…” Nicole nodded and Dolls moved to grab his things.

“Can I go along?” Waverly’s voice was quiet, but her eyes were pleading with Nicole. She couldn’t say now.

“Okay, you will both ride with me. We will need you to decipher any notes and other things you see at the site that may help us determine who is doing this.”

Nicole placed her stetson on and headed out of the station, the group following behind.

------------

The drive to the cabin wasn’t long, about 20 minutes outside of the town center.

“This was the Gardner’s cabin, we used to come here for sleepovers when we were younger, back when they weren’t so awful…”

Nicole parked a little ways away so as not to disturb the site. Two cop cars already blocked the street and one cop was standing with Beth Gardner and her brother Tucker.

“I’m sorry… for your lost.” Waverly spoke up as soon as her eyes met Beth’s.

“What is she doing here?! She is not law enforcement… in fact Wynonna is the exact opposite.” Nicole knew Beth was grieving but she didn’t appreciate the woman’s tone.

“They are with me.” Nicole flashed her badge. “ Waverly is an expert in Egyptian burials and mummification processes and Wynonna has been in contact with both murder sites and is needed for questioning and comparison purposes. Excuse me.”

“Oh… of course… you two used to fuck. That’s why she’s following you around like a lovestruck puppy. Pathetic.” Nicole’s blood boiled instantly and she spun on her heels.

“Deputy, please escort Ms. Gardner away from this crime scene… in fact, take her into the station for questioning, if she would oblige. We cannot have anyone here that is not escorted by law enforcement so as not to disturb the crime scene.” Beth scoffed, as the deputy led her away from the cabin, Tucker snickering at his sister being more or less told off.

“I’d go with your sister Tucker, I am sure you’ll be needed. I’m sorry for your lost.” Waverly smiled politely at him.

“I’m not.” He grinned and followed Beth.

“That boy has always given me the creeps.” Wynonna shuttered.

“He’s not that bad, kind of odd, but he’s always been pretty nice to me.”

“People usually are when they want to bone you…” Wynonna chuckled.

“Eww… no.” Waverly punched her sister in the shoulder as they entered the scene.

“Now if you feel like you’re gonna puke, try and run outside and not contaminate the crime scene.” Both Earp women nodded. “And whatever you do, don’t touch anything unless we say so.” They both nodded again.

The scene was pretty similar to the other two, blood spatters littering the carpet, urns placed neatly on the mantelpiece and a note lying neatly next to Mercedes’ head. Nicole slipped passed the cop taking pictures and picked up the note with her gloved hand. She eased it open and showed it to Waverly.

“She will not be the last, but she was by far the most satisfying….. What the fuck.” Waverly shivered. “What kind of sick and twisted person….” Waverly looked around the scene. Outside of the blood splatter, the scene was rather clean. Everything in it’s place.

Nicole moved around, inspecting the scene. There were a few hairs here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“Haught…. Take a look at this.” Dolls called over his partner. He was holding Mercedes’ hand up. “Looks like skin and a bit of blood under her fingernails… sign of a struggle?”

Nicole took Mercedes’ hand. “Deputy, can you hand me that evidence tube.” The cop handed her the tube and a swab. Nicole carefully scraped the skin pieces and tiny bits of blood into the vial.

“This almost seems too easy… something may not be right about this, but let’s have Sheila run the DNA. Also, make sure we get samples from Tucker and Beth while they are at the stations so we can rule their DNA out.” Dolls motioned for the cop to radio the station.

“Or… prove they did it.” Wynonna was about to lean against a chair as she spoke, but Nicole reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her away from the furniture.

“We don’t know anything, but we will investigate all angles.”

“Wynonna….” Waverly voice interrupted the other two women. “Um… shit…” She reached down and picked up a necklace that was laying next to Mercedes. “You were right…”

Wynonna took the piece of jewelry and the color drained from her face. It was a necklace Wynonna had given Waverly for her 16th birthday. An Egyptian bird in white gold. Wynonna wrapped her arm around Waverly’s shoulder and pulled her close.

“No one’s gonna touch a hair on your head. Not without going through me first.”

----------------------
Shorty’s was pretty much empty by 10pm, most folks not wanting to be out and about with a killer on the loose. Waverly was sitting at the corner of the bar, waiting for Doc to finish closing up so he could escort her home. While she still felt like she was constantly being watched, it was better than the alternative.

The door to Shorty’s opening made the youngest Earp jump, nearly falling off of her bar stool. Nicole was at her side in the second, steadying the stool with one hand and sliding an arm around Waverly’s waist to make sure she didn’t tumble to the ground.

“I’ve got you.”

Their eyes met for a brief moment, the two frozen in time, the world around them melting slowly away. For a split second they were back in this very bar ten years ago, two teenagers in love and obsessed with each other.

The sound of Doc clearing his throat brought them back to reality. Nicole quickly removed her arm from around Waverly, steadying the stool and taking a step back.

“Hey Doc, um… I was just stopping in to see if Rosita was ready to go.”

“Uh huh… right.” At the sound of her name Rosita emerged from the back.

“Hey you, let me just grab my bag.” Waverly could feel the heat on her cheeks slowly subsiding.

“You okay?” Nicole directed the question to Waverly, keeping her distance.

“Yeah… I’m fine.” She slid off the stool. “You ready to go Doc? Wynonna’s expecting us.” He nodded and grabbed his hat, heading out of the front door, Waverly in tow. The youngest Earp looked back once, meeting Nicole’s eyes, unable to keep a small smile from spreading across her face.

Chapter Text

“A curfew?” Rosita was wiping down the bar as Doc tossed back the last of his whiskey.

“Yep. Sundown, 8pm. No one is supposed to be on the roads ‘cept for emergencies and work. All the stores are closin’ and everything. Wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t get a request from Nedley to close early either.”

Rosita packed the empty glasses into her cup washer under the bar and sighed. “Well at least that explains why it’s dead as a doornail in here. I sort of figured folks were just scared to go out, what with three murders in such a short time. I doubt the police really even had to make the curfew mandatory, it’s been a ghost town once the sun's goes down around here.”

Doc nodded and reached over to pick up his hat, placing it neatly on his head as he pushed his stool back. “Well, it’s my turn for little Earp duty. Haught coming to take you home?” Rosita nodded. “Carl, you leave Miss Rosita alone tonight… and go home. It’s nearing curfew.” Carl grumbled at Doc, waving his hand dismissively in Doc’s direction, eyes never leaving his cell phone. “Have a good one, Ros.”

“Carl, you heard Doc. Curfew’s in 20, I’m gonna close up early tonight. Wrap up that beer and I’ll call your aunt to come round you up.” Carl nodded, chugging the last of his beer, again, without looking away from his phone.

About ten minutes later two headlights shown through the front windows. “Carl, ride’s here!” He stood up, tossing cash on the bar and heading out without so much as a goodbye. The headlights pulled away and Rosita finished tidying the bar as well as locking up the basement and back door.

“Hey beautiful.” Nicole strolled in right on time, sweet smile on her face as she looked upon her girlfriend. “Trudy’s still sitting outside waiting for Carl. Is he in the bathroom or something?”

Rosita tilted her head to the side, confused by Nicole’s question. “Carl headed out about 5… maybe 10 minutes ago?”

“Odd… maybe she missed him. Be right back.” Nicole headed out into the parking lot and returned a minute later. “Rosita, I’m gonna take you into the station, I think Carl’s been kidnapped. His phone was found cracked in the gravel outside, a text message half composed. He never does anything without his phone. Dolls and and two officers are on their way over to secure this place and make sure he’s nowhere near here, but judging by the tire tracks spun out next to his phone, I am guessing they won’t find much.”

“Shit… Nic… I sent him out there… I thought the headlights outside were his aunt… she always has her brights on and they blast straight through the glass.”

“Hey… it’s okay…” Nicole tossed an around around her girlfriend. “It’s not your fault, you couldn't have known, love.”

Two cop cars pulled up outside, lights still flashing as Doll’s entered the bar.

“You two okay?” They both nodded. “We got Nedley’s guys surveying the perimeter. Ros, did you notice anything strange tonight? Out of the ordinary?”

“Nothing. Doc left about 20 minutes ago and I called Carl’s aunt to come get him… I saw two headlights, brights blaring through the glass just like Trudy’s so I sent Carl outside. I didn’t even know that he’d been taken until Nicole came in staying Trudy was still outside waiting for Carl.” Dolls nodded and took a few notes.

“I’ll have Doc come over to the station, see if he noticed anything off when he left tonight.”

An officer came in and spoke in a low hush tone to Dolls before exiting. “They are gonna take Trudy home. Nothing was discovered right away around the perimeter except some tire tracks. Officer Eric is going to follow them as best he can. We are lucky it rained like hell yesterday. Mud everywhere. Another unit is going to come over and check for evidence. Rosita, if you’ll head to the station, just for safety and in case we have any more questions. Everything could be crucial at this point.”

Dolls exchanged a knowing look with Nicole and exited the bar. They both knew the likelihood of finding Carl alive was getting smaller with every second he was missing.
“Come on babe. I’ll drive you.”

---------------------------

Doc arrived within 20 minutes at the station, Waverly in tow. “I’m on watch duty, so I had to bring her.”

“It’s okay, she might prove useful in helping us find Carl anyway.” Dolls led them into the back room.

“Doc, did you notice anything out of the ordinary when you left Shorty’s tonight?”

“Nope. Carl was ignoring everyone in the corner, nursin’ a beer.. Outside of that, the parking lot was empty and the whole street was pretty quiet. Most folks have taken this curfew pretty seriously… and obviously with good reason.”

“This is related isn’t it? To the murders. It has to be… Carl was on my list.”

Dolls nodded. “I think so. We can’t confirm anything until we find Carl, but the longer he is missing the more and more I can’t help but think it’s related to the murders.”

“If that’s the case… then maybe I’m the last one that needs a police detail…. I… I made this.” Waverly tugged a folded piece of paper out of her pocket, unfolded it and smoothed the edges before laying it in front of the two men.

“It’s a list… everyone that I could remember that’s really wronged me or hurt me somehow. It felt kind of awful to write this all out on paper… but I figured it’s the best we’ve got to determine the victims… or potential victims I mean… I hope.”

Dolls scanned the list. “Only seven?”

“Well I figured the small random encounters like someone laughing at me or calling me a name didn’t really count. These are the more major offenders.”

“Willa, Mercedes, Stephanie, Champ, Carl, Sara, Chrissy. Sure there is no one else?” Doc eyed the small woman suspiciously.

“I don’t think so?”

“What did Chrissy do?”

“In eighth grade she wanted to hang out with the ‘more popular’ kids.” Waverly made air quotes and rolled her eyes. “So in order to get in good with them, she played a prank on me. It was around halloween and I think they had just watched Carrie or some shit. They wanted to make sure Chrissy was really on their side so they made her spill an actual bucket of pig’s blood all over me after gym class. I was trying to washing that shit out for days and everyone called me crazy for weeks, thinking I was just like Carrie… It’s lame when I think of it now, but back then I was really hurt. It took me over a year to forgive Chrissy once she finally came around to apologizing.”

Dolls nodded thinking she would definitely be high on the killer’s hit list if their criteria was people who wronged Waverly.

“Is that other one Sara Connelly?” Waverly nodded.

“Yeah, she and Mercedes were the sort of leaders of the group Chrissy got wrapped into. While she never directly did anything that I can recall, I thought the same of Mercedes and look how that ended. Sara was sort of the mastermind of that whole operation so I can’t imagine she’s complete absolved from any blame when it came to bullying me and a bunch of other kids. And Champ… well he cheated… several times and was just an all around ass.”

Dolls made detailed notes as Waverly spoke. “We will get Nedley to send patrol around to check on these leads and make sure they aren’t disappearing into the night like Carl did.”

Wynonna entered the station a few minutes later, a tray of take away coffees in hand.

“Figured we’d need this tonight since I doubt any of us will be sleeping until Carl’s located.”

 

The call came in around 11pm. Officer Eric showed back up at the station, sad look on his face as he pulled Dolls to the side. Dolls’ facial expression told them everything they needed to know.

--------

 

“Time of death between 9:00pm and 10:30pm from what I can tell and from what we know of Carl’s whereabouts tonight.” Shelia moved around the crime scene, her gloved hands lifting the jars and inspecting their contents. “They are getting a bit sloppier with the incisions. The lacerations are more jagged than the others, more hurried perhaps?”

Dolls nodded as he surveyed the area looking to see if the killer got sloppy anywhere else. An open field on someone else’s land was a very risky place to murder someone.

“This one is a bit different. Normally there have been injections sites around the neck where the killer has used the synthetic opioid etorphine to knock them out. However, I cannot find a clear injection point at this time. It is possible if there was a struggle that they were injected elsewhere, but I won’t know more until I do a toxicology report. It is interesting that this case shows more signs of struggle than the other scenes we’ve come across. And of course… a weird note with symbols.” Shelia picked up the note carefully inserting it into an evidence bag.

“I’ll have Waverly look this over at the station. She doesn’t need to see another crime scene.” Nicole took the evidence bag and looked at the body of Carl, completely cut open. They had been so close to stopping this one, to getting here in time. It was as if the killer was toying with them and frankly, Nicole was fucking sick of this cat and mouse game.

------
“Roughly translated ‘The list… or order is ending. The final ritual for her will be ready.’ Her being the goddess image again and the ritual might be of a sacrificial nature… at least from what the image suggests.”

“So if Waverly’s list is correct, we just have Chrissy and Sara?”

“We’ve got an FBI unit arriving tomorrow to put a detail on Chrissy and Sara. Our division is going to be overseeing the investigation completely now, with support from Nedley’s team.” Dolls was pacing the room as he spoke.

“Waverly.” Nicole pulled a chair up to the youngest Earp. “Think hard, is there anyone else that’s hurt you? Anyone at all, not matter how little or how insignificant. Anyone who hurt you and it was obvious to others that you were wronged…”

Waverly had a hard time looking Nicole in the face. The other woman’s name was lingering on her lips, but it was something she’d not really admitted to anyone. Did that mean that the hurt Nicole caused wouldn’t count? If no one really knew how deeply Nicole pushing her away scarred Waverly?

Even after a decade, Nicole could tell Waverly was troubled, but it was unclear if it was just the situation they were in or if there really was a longer list Waverly was having a hard time letting out.

“I… I don’t know.” It wasn’t completely a lie, was it? Besides, Nicole was an FBI agent, she could protect herself and those close to her. It was her job, right? “I don’t think so.”

Nicole placed a comforting hand on Waverly’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Waves. I know this is hard. You’ve been amazing so far. Really.” The words should’ve felt warm and comforting and while Waverly couldn’t deny how nice it felt to feel Nicole’s touch, the small guilt about her omission was borrowing a hole into her gut.

“Alright, I think it’s best for everyone if we call it a night and head home. Nedley has patrols at Sara’s and he’s staying with Chrissy and his family tonight. We will let you all know if anything new comes up.”