She tightens the strap of her saddlebags, securing them to the motorcycle’s shining body. The moonlight dances off the chrome, and the girl sweeps her long hair over her shoulder, her leather jacket creaking with the movement. She swings her leg over the bike, reaching behind her to grab her helmet.
A shrill voice stops her, and the girl on the bike sighs, her plans for a quiet escape ruined.
“Wynonna!” Her sister runs out of the small house, her feet bare on the rain-wet ground. “Wynonna, what are you doing?” She skids to a stop in front of the bike, her small hands landing on the handlebars and wobbling the bike.
Wynonna steadies the bike and puts her hands over Waverly’s. “Waves, let go of the bike.”
“No!” Her hands grip the bars harder. “You’re leaving again. I won’t let you!”
“Waverly,” Wynonna warns, “get out of my way.” Waverly’s face sets, resolute in her determination. They stare each other down, waiting for the other to give. The wind whistles through the tall prairie grass. Wynonna sighs and nods, reluctantly getting off the bike. Waverly lets go of the bike once she’s sure Wynonna won’t try and make a break for it.
Wynonna leads her over to the porch and they sit on the steps. Waverly wraps her arms around herself and tucks her chin to her chest. Wynonna fiddles with the fringe on her sleeve.
“Why are you leaving?” Waverly asks, breaking the silence.
“I can’t be here anymore,” Wynonna answers. “This town is…it’s suffocating. I need to get out, make my own name. My own way.” She looks up at the star-littered sky and shrugs. “I have to escape this town.”
Waverly sniffs. “What about me?”
“Hey,” Wynonna says, draping her arm over Waverly’s slim shoulders, pulling her to her side, “you don’t need me, baby girl.”
“You’re my sister,” Waverly sniffles. “I’m always going to need you.”
Wynonna kisses the top of her head, rubbing her arm. “I promise I’ll keep in touch.” She fishes in her pocket and pulls out a gold coin, flipping it around in her fingers before pressing it into Waverly’s hand. “Take this.”
“Wynonna,” Waverly protests, “you’re the heir, it belongs to you.”
“That’s bullshit,” Wynonna says. “You’re the best of us, Waverly Earp.”
Waverly stares at the coin in her hand. “You’ll come back for it?”
Wynonna hears her silent question, and rests her head on Waverly’s. “You can count on it.” They sit like that a while, quietly holding each other and Waverly tries to commit it to memory, the smell of Wynonna’s leather jacket, the warmth of her sister’s comfort.
Wynonna moves first, standing and wiping her hands on her pants, offering Waverly a hand to help her stand.
“I love you, baby girl,” Wynonna says, hugging her sister briefly before getting on her motorcycle, pulling her helmet on and starting the engine. Waverly stands on the porch, watching as her sister rides off into the night, the sound of her engine deafening against the silence of the night air. She opens her palm and looks at the coin again.
“She’ll come back for it,” Waverly says quietly, closing her small hand over the coin and clutching it tightly to her chest. She looks at the half moon and nods. With one last look to the road, she walks back inside the house, the door creaking behind her as she closes it. She sneaks quietly up the stairs, even though she’s sure Gus and Curtis have already woken up with the noise of Wynonna’s bike.
The coin is placed in a shoebox under her bed, and Waverly climbs under her covers. The wool of the afghan scratches her chin, and she rolls onto her side to look out the window at the clear sky, stars bright against the black.
“She’ll come back.”
Waverly curses under breath as she rushes to her office, a stack of papers and books balancing precariously in her arms. She weaves through the crowded hallways with a practiced and sure foot, climbing stairs with an ease born of having to make the same mad dash every Wednesday. And, like every Wednesday, she curses her luck for having an office on the twelfth floor of the most remote building on campus as she tries to open her door with her full hands.
“Jumpin’ juniper,” she mutters as she manages to get the key in the lock, turning the handle and pushing through the door. Her office is tiny, but neat, every book and paper having a place. She sets her pile on her desk, in the “to organize” basket. Collapsing in her chair, she heaves a sigh, waking up her computer and groaning at the emails that come flooding in.
“Mornin’, Waves,” Jeremy says, popping his head in her doorway and giving her a smile.
“Hey, Jeremy,” she answers. The Bio-Chem grad student is one of her best friends on campus, another grad student who got given an office in this building. They’re the overflow floor, when departments don’t have enough room to give their students space. It means you get your own office, but it also means Waverly spends too much time running from the History department across campus to her office.
“I’m getting a coffee,” he says, waving his Optimus Prime mug around, “want one?”
“Yes, please,” she says, giving him a grateful smile, “you’re a life-saver, Jeremy.” He grins, taking her ‘if it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it’ mug. She filters through her emails while she waits, deleting spam and flagging the emails from archives and her supervisor. Jeremy returns with her coffee quickly, leaving her with a commiserate smile.
Her morning passes in a blur of research and students complaining about their grades. Being a TA is part of her job that she really loves, until it gets to be mid-term season and everyone’s grandmother seems to pass away at once.
She’s about to leave and find Jeremy to see if he wants to grab lunch, when someone knocks on her door.
“Office hours aren’t until three today,” she calls out, grabbing her purse and a book in case Jeremy is busy. “If you’ve got a problem with a grade, send an email first please.” The person knocks again, more insistent this time, and Waverly sighs. She goes and opens the door, beginning to tell the person off again, but then the door is open and her jaw drops open.
“Hey there, baby girl,” Wynonna grins, leaning in the door frame. She’s got the same stupid fringed jacket that Waverly remembers, and the same mane of wavy hair. Her grin is just as shit-eating, her eyes still mischievous, and her pants just as impractically tight.
Waverly feels a little like she’s been punched in the sternum.
Wynonna nods and Waverly jumps forward with no hesitation, her arms wrapping around her sister tightly, like she might disappear if she isn’t held down.
“Oof, okay, watch the squeezing,” Wynonna wheezes, patting Waverly on the back. Waverly jumps back, sheepish.
“Sorry,” she says, “it’s just…it’s been years, Wynonna!” Waverly smacks her sister’s arm, and Wynonna yelps. “Where the hell have you been? Have you never heard of-of cellphones, or postcards?!”
Wynonna winces. “Look, I’m sorry about that, okay?” She looks around the hallway and gestures to Waverly’s office. “Can we talk about this in there?” Waverly huffs, but steps aside, letting Wynonna in and closing the door behind them. She sits behind her desk, frowning when Wynonna kicks her dirty boots up on the desktop.
“Nice place you got here,” Wynonna says, looking around the office with an impressed smile. “Look at you, all grown up and in an office.”
“Yeah,” Waverly says, crossing her arms over her chest, “ten years can change a lot.” Wynonna has the sense to look chastised, and Waverly sighs. “Alright, I’m sorry. You deserve a chance to explain yourself before I kick your ass.”
Wynonna laughs, quickly stifling it when she sees Waverly isn’t smiling. “Okay, so, where do I start?”
“Well, last I heard from you was almost five years ago,” Waverly says, “you were working a job in Bangkok.”
Wynonna grins, nodding her head. “Bangkok was sweet,” she says. “Okay, so after Bangkok, I got a job with Doc in Nepal. It was half relief work, half a hunt for this lost statue from the fifth century. Never actually found it, because an avalanche came in and almost wiped out the entire search area. Lost funding, had to head back to Nevada. Spent a few months working odd jobs, mostly bounty hunting. Got a big contract to bring in this big time drug dealer’s lieutenant, went down to Nicaragua while tracking him. A few things went sideways, spent about a year in custody of said drug lord.”
“What?!” Waverly exclaims, her eyes wide with shock.
“Yeah, it was way less scary than it sounds,” Wynonna assures her, picking at her pinky nail. “Honestly, Hector wasn’t that bad a guy. After the year was up, I think he just got tired of having to keep bringing us around. So we were released, then we spent a handful of months drunk on different Caribbean islands. Couldn’t tell you which ones, the whole thing is a blur. Got offered another job, which was good because Doc and I had pretty much drank our reserves dry. Indonesia was nice, but then the guy who was funding us got done in by this bitch Clootie, and she…well, long story short, she got wind of our hunt and now I’m kind of in the middle of a race.”
Waverly tries to catch up with Wynonna’s whirlwind tale. “Wait, so what were you looking for?”
“You’re not gonna believe it,” Wynonna says, her grin wolfish, and she reaches into her jacket. “Check out what I found in California.” Clutched in her hands is a leather bound journal.
Wynonna nods, tossing the journal to Waverly. The younger Earp carefully opens it, taking care to protect and support the spine, and her mouth slowly drops open.
“Wynonna, this is incredible,” she says slowly, thumbing through the dry pages.
“A full account of the discovery of the Iqueue,” Wynonna says, “along with a rough description of their plan to move the treasure.”
“Son of a gun,” Waverly whispers. She looks up at Wynonna, a slow smile spreading across her face. “Wynonna, this is just-just-just incredible! Like, totally amazeballs!” She’s vaguely aware that she’s yelling. “This is our legacy! Daddy wasn’t lying, the Iqueue really did exist!”
“She sure did,” Wynonna agrees, “wanna come help me find her?”
Waverly’s smile goes ear to ear.
Back at Waverly’s apartment, Wynonna is lounging on the couch and nodding absentmindedly while Waverly goes on, pointing at her crime map of history on her bedroom wall. There are photographs, sketches, witness accounts, any shred of evidence that ever existed about the Iqueue and her treasure.
“Wynonna, are you even listening?” Waverly says, hands on her hips as she frowns at her sister.
Wynonna jumps, shaking out of her fog. “Uh, yeah, something about-about Spanish music-ers?”
“That’s not even a word,” Waverly scolds.
“It could be,” Wynonna grumbles.
Waverly sighs, pointing at a sketch of two crossed swords. “Spanish mutineers, Wynonna,” she says, “they’re the ones who were piloting the Iqueue, and they ran her aground. They had a whole bunch of treasure and most notably were the doubloons.” Waverly tosses her gold doubloon at Wynonna who fumbles and manages to catch it. “They were unique from other doubloons at the time because of the sigil on one side. There’s the usual Templar cross, but on the reverse is this symbol. The mutineers minted their coins with two crossed rapiers.”
Wynonna looks at the coin and nods. “Shit, I never realized that,” she says. “Damn, you’ve done your research.”
“Well, it is my dissertation,” Waverly says with an eye-roll. “It’s kind of my job to research it.”
“Right, makes sense,” Wynonna says, tossing the coin back to Waverly. Waverly hums, putting the coin carefully in the silk lined box she got for it a few years back. “So, what do you think of all this?”
Waverly shrugs, coming to sit beside Wynonna. “I don’t know, I mean, I always dreamed that the Iqueue was real, but the evidence was so weak. But now…I don’t know what to think.”
Wynonna bumps their shoulders together. “Come on, baby girl, this is it. This is our time to see if everything we grew up hearing was real or not.” Waverly grins. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it.”
Waverly sighs, looking at her life’s work on the wall. It’s kind of a dream come true. Her sister comes home, and she comes home ready to fulfill their legacy and work together, something Waverly had dreamed of since Wynonna left ten years ago. All her years of research, or dead ends and false leads, of trying to scrape together any shreds of evidence she could find, it’s all coming to a head.
One look at Wynonna’s eager smile is all it takes to have Waverly agreeing to take off in search of the Iqueue’s treasure.
“So, tell me again how you got all this gear?” Wynonna asks as they sit on the bus to California.
“I did some family history research for this guy a year or two ago,” Waverly says, fiddling with the lens on her camera. “He didn’t have the money then to pay me, and what I found was so big to him that he felt pretty indebted.” She aims the camera at Wynonna and clicks the shutter. Wynonna gives her the finger with a smile.
“But like…this is a lot of high class shit,” Wynonna says. “If he doesn’t have money, how did he get all this?”
“Oh, well, that was sort of the family history’s doing,” Waverly says.
Wynonna grins. “Nice.” She gives Waverly a high-five before turning to look back out the window, the California desert whipping by them. “Why do all cacti look like dicks?”
Waverly snorts, shaking her head. “You haven’t changed a bit, have you?”
Wynonna shrugs, her forehead resting against the window. “Guess not.”