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Talking It Out

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A bottle clunked down on the table where Bobo was sitting, thick folder of research open in front of him.

He'd gone a bit stir-crazy from the atmosphere in the station, not used to spending so much time cooped up indoors and around other people. He couldn't exactly go off for a long bike ride on his own, even though he longed to - they didn't want to give Bulshar opportunity to create a confrontation before they were ready.

He'd scoffed at effectively being told he was at risk of being abducted, but Wynonna had reminded him about that 'make it count' thing he'd said to her. If he really wanted to help her end the curse, he couldn't be giving Bulshar an easy opening like that. That effectively meant he was restricted to his motel room, the station, and Shorty's.

So he'd gone to the latter and settled down at a table in the back, continuing his reading of Waverly's volumes of research into Clootie and curses. Only this time he was accompanied by a beer and finally without the constant babble of the geek kid.

"Hey."

He raised his eyebrows at seeing Waverly stand at his table with two glasses. The bottle she'd set down was an almost new bottle of whiskey. She'd barely said a word to him in his time spent with 'Team Earp,' still angry from having been promised to Bulshar as his bride. Which, she had every right to be angry about that and he wished he could undo it, but, well.

She'd been avoiding him and he'd let her, figuring it was up to her to decide if and when she wanted to talk to him. Apparently now was that time.

He pushed the other chair out for her with his foot, and she hesitated a moment, as if her decision to come over seemed rash to her suddenly. He closed his folder and gave her his full attention, and after another moment, she sat down.

He waited as she opened the bottle and poured them both a healthy measure, not quite daring to believe it was a peace offer. The Earps drank like fish at times of high emotion, and it could just as easily be anger playing here. She might not be an Earp in blood, she was definitely one in all other aspects.

Bobo watched in bemusement as she slammed back her glass without flinching. He mimed a toast and did the same. Didn't seem fair to stay sober for this if she wasn't.

"'m still mad at you," she said finally, refilling her glass.

He nodded. Not like he'd really expected different.

"You sold me out. To a—" she knocked back that second glass, and he resisted the urge to interfere. She was not a child, and no good would come from patronising her. "—to a demon, man. To be his wife." She made a face of revulsion, clearly thinking about what would have happened if the others hadn't been able to get her out.

 

He kept his eyes on his glass. He'd been trying very hard not to think about that.

Bulshar had been so deep in his head that Bobo had gladly suggested Waverly as his bride, anything at that point to please the demon, to prove his own commitment and value. Seeing her actually brought in was what had broken through to him. Had made him realise that actually, there were things he wasn't willing to do to avoid going back to hell.

None of that mattered to her. He drained his glass.

"I'm sorry."

She hummed to signify that she'd heard him, and they sat in silence for a while. Something was still on her mind, a question crowding on her tongue that she perhaps didn't quite know how to word, and they drank quietly, a little more measured now, while she figured it out.

"You saved Nicole," she finally said.

He hummed.

"Suppose I did."

"Why?"

He held his glass out for a refill, and she poured again. Why had he? In hindsight the woman was probably one of the least important team members in terms of strategy. The cause could have, and would have, gone ahead without her. That was definitely not something he'd considered at the time. His body had already been moving toward Nicole and he couldn't really remember any thought process, really.

"I like her," he finally shrugged. If he hadn't before, that takeout dinner two nights ago when she'd been high as a kite and utterly entranced by Waverly would have done it.

"You don't—" she paused for a drink, "you don't get to have an opinion on who I date."

Bobo ran a hand through his hair. God, he felt exhausted. As if for all his efforts, things only ever seemed to move sideways. Not better, just a different kind of wrong.

"Okay." What more could he say?

He expected her to leave, but she just sat there for a while, drinking silently. He could tell the alcohol was hitting her, in that Earp way they all seemed to get. Kind of maudlin.

He pushed his half-full glass of water in her direction, and she scowled at it.

"Don't do that," she bit out.

Yeah, just like an Earp. Maudlin and ready to take a sharp turn into ornery

"When I was a kid, you—" she finally started, heaving a deep sigh. "You looked out for me. Remembered my birthdays. Looked at my drawings. Listened when I wanted to tell you a story. Hell, you even looked at my report cards."

"Yeah," he said on an exhale, heavier than he'd meant for it to come out.

Yeah, he needed no help remembering that. All the things Ward didn't do, she didn't need to say. He'd seen Ward struggle even before Waverly, the curse like a millstone around his neck and the bottle the only answer he'd looked for, his temper always ready to discharge at the nearest target—usually his wife.

He'd been a terrible parent to all three of his girls. His own father, Edwin Earp, had been so determined to end the curse himself that he hadn't prepared young Ward for anything. Perhaps scarred by this, Ward had gone the other way with his own oldest: harsh pressure on Willa ever since she could barely walk. He'd drilled a young girl as if she were a soldier, every day and sometimes deep in the night, raising her for her task as Heir and for nothing else. Ward had had benign neglect for Wynonna, and once she'd joined the family, a more active, resentful neglect for Waverly.

Bobo had wanted to make things better for his Angel in whatever way he could, even if that was only his interest and attention in whatever time they could find. He remembered his frustration that he couldn't give her anything for those beautiful report cards, mindful of her sisters or her parents finding her with gifts she shouldn't have.

He'd been trying to make her life a little better, true enough, but it had also been about indulging himself — indulging the part of him that had once dreamt of having a family. The things the curse had never allowed him.

"Why'd you stop?" Waverly said, voice coming out smaller than she'd probably intended. "I lost my fa—Ward, my sister, my home. And then my other sister when they sent her away. And I lost you, when I needed you most."

His heart kicked painfully, and he wanted to take her in his arms as he'd once done so naturally. He'd stopped seeking her out, after everything went down, chosing to let her think he'd been her imaginary friend. It hadn't been a conscious choice at first; he'd been struggling to balance keeping control of the Revenants, gone wild after Ward's death, and keeping Willa hidden and safe.

"Everything went kind of... unstable, for a while. After that happened," he said cautiously. "By the time I could have met with you without putting you in danger, you were living with Gus and Curtis and there was no opportunity for it."

And they had paid much closer attention to little Waverly, given her the care and attention that she'd been lacking. As glad he'd been about that, it had also made it impossible to meet her without being seen — and people drawing very bad conclusions about why he was spending time with her.

"I wish there had been. I missed you," he said, concentrating on refilling his glass. He offered her too, though she'd definitely had enough. Thankfully she waved it away.

She nodded once, sharply, as if that had settled something for her.

 

He'd been expecting one of the others for a while now, and it was a relief to see that it was Wynonna coming to get her sister, not Nicole or Doc, either of whom would probably having given him a Look for getting Waverly drunk.

Wynonna's expression as she came up to their table said that she had a reasonably accurate idea of how this had gone.

"Hey guys."

Bobo nodded in greeting and Waverly, her back to the door, rolled her head back to give her sister an upside-down look.

"Hey baby-girl." Wynonna bent down to kiss her forehead, and Waverly smiled up at her dopily. "You guys about done talking?"

She glanced at Bobo when she said it, who looked at Waverly because she'd come to him for a reason and it wasn't up to him to decide if she had found what she'd been looking for.

"Is Nicole back yet?" Waverly asked, missing the look entirely.

"She called that she's on her way back," Wynonna nodded fondly. "If you come to the station she'll take you to the homestead."

Waverly got to her feet, a little unstead but not as far gone as Bobo had feared. Wynonna wrapped an arm around her and looked at him.

"We've laid out the mats for sparring, if you want to come join." It sounded a little rehearsed, like she'd tried out the line a couple of times in her mind. He appreciated the invitation to be part of the team anyway. It was more than she needed to do, certainly more than he'd ever expected.

She eyed the empty whiskey bottle. "Though you won't be as much of a challenge like this, I guess."

"Give me an hour," he said, pleased when he did not slur. "It burns off quick."

"Oh!" Waverly said, indignantly drunk and a little theatrical with it. "Here I thought we, we," she pointed an unsteady finger at him, "we were having a, a—heart-felt drunken con-ver-sa-tion." She nodded, seeming highly satisfied with how that had come out.

"said I sober up quickly, Angel, not that it doesn't affec'me." As if to prove his point, he heared the endearment trip off his tongue far too easily. He braced himself for a sharp correction, but she just mouthed "Oh" and nodded. Maybe she hadn't heard.

"Well, give it an hour before you get on your bike, then," Wynonna said brightly. "Nedley's barely accepting you at the station, he'd just love to ticket you for riding under the influence. Come on Babygirl, let's roll."

Waverly gave him a cheerful little wave as she was lead away.

When they were out of sight, Bobo dragged both hands down his face, trying to regroup his thoughts and gain some control over whatever the fuck it was that his face was doing.

Goddamned Earps.

Chapter Text

"You doin' okay there Waves?" Wynonna asked, glancing at her sister. Waverly was slumped in the passenger seat, staring unseeingly out the window. "Did it help?"

"I dunno," she sighed. "Maybe? A little? I—" she waved an uncoordinated hand, "—I dunno what I exp-expected."

"Nothing's ever easy with Bobo, huh?"

"Makes me feel... I dunno." She sighed. "I guess I wanted him to... Ugh, I'm tired."

"Well if it helps, he looked like it was a rough conversation for him too."

Holy understatement, Batman . He had looked like he'd been thinking about hiding at the bottom of his mine. It wasn't that she wanted him to be in pain; the more she got to know him, the more she understood that he was probably the person who'd caught the roughest edge of the curse, certainly more so than Wyatt had. But it was good to see that he could be so affected by things. That Waverly's opinion of him wasn't something he could just shrug off.

"And I think he's trying. To, you know. Be better."

Remembering the way he used to talk to her and about her, he really was far more tolerable, even respectful, than she'd ever expected of him. The invitation to come train with them had been spontaneous, just to discourage that 'bottom of the mine' notion. His surprise made her glad she'd done it.

Let him spend some time sobering up and recovering his game face, then come hang out at the station even if he didn't spar. (she kinda hoped he would though; seeing him and Xavier go hand to hand would be.. well, interesting ). And even if he didn't come over, at least now he knew he was welcome.

Waverly nodded a little, and then they pulled in at the police station, and she saw Nicole just getting out of her cruiser. Wynonna smiled as both women's faces lit up, and her sister tumbled out of the car to crash into her girlfriend's arms.

Nicole gave Wynonna an alarmed look.

"The talk with Bobo was accompanied by a bottle," she explained once she'd gotten out the car. Nicole made an understanding face and helped Waverly into the cruiser to take her home.


 

"Hey, how'd it go?" Dolls asked when she walked in. He was in workout clothes, and she took a moment to appreciate the way his tshirt stretched over his shoulders.

"Well, they worked their way through a bottle of whiskey," she said, considering. "I think it was probably a step in the right direction. Just not an enjoyable step."

"They gonna be okay?" Dolls was starting his stretching routine now, and she didn't bother pretending she wasn't watching.

"Nicole's taking Waverly home, and Bobo—" she wasn't sure how to explain how Bobo had looked. "He was like... I don't know, like Waverly swung an axe into his chest and he wasn't sure if he wanted to scream or ask her to do it again."

Dolls grimaced a little, because they needed Bobo to stick around, and that might have to mean not bludgeoning him emotionally even if Waverly did have every right to be angry.

"Yeah, he was—I told him we were going to spar, and to swing by if he felt like it."

"Oh, wonderful ," Doc said as he walked in, voice dripping with sarcasm. He was in jeans and tshirt and stopped to take off his boots to step onto the mat.

Ah. She hadn't known Doc was staying too.

"Come on Doc, as if you'll have energy left to care once I'm done with you," Dolls smirked, beckoning him closer, and Wynonna hid her smile. Dolls had refined the art of baiting Doc, and she was pretty sure he planned to make sure Doc would be too tired to pick a fight with Bobo once the Revenant arrived. If he even would.

" Done with me?" Doc huffed. "Remember that time I decked you so hard everybody believed you were dead?"

"Sure, I remember throwing a fight so we could go and get on with finding Wynonna."

It really shouldn't be so attractive when he was being an arrogant asshole.

Dolls made Doc do stretching even though the former seemed to find it modern nonsense, and Wynonna went to change into her own workout gear, throwing on a hoodie so she wouldn't get cold while she was watching. Doc might not be as much a hand to hand fighter as Dolls was, he had plenty of scrappiness and it was an interesting fight to watch.

At some point when both men were breathing heavy, having worked up a good sweat, she saw through the matte glass that somebody was behind the door. On a hunch, she went to open it, and it was indeed Bobo, looking very slightly startled, as if he hadn't quite decided to go in yet.

She'd wondered if he would show up drunk and belligerent, but had to admit that until a few days ago she'd never met Bobo not being belligerent, and wasn't sure if alcohol would have much in the way of influence. If anything, he was quieter now, acknowledging Dolls and Doc with a nod and settling down in a chair to watch them.

Doc was clearly wearing down, his breathing sounding laboured, and Wynonna grimaced inwardly at the belated realisation that it really wasn't a kindness to Doc to invite Bobo here to see this.

Dolls must have realised the same, because the wound down their sparring without taking the victory he clearly could have, letting Doc retain his ego.

Bobo, who definitely hadn't stopped being an asshole, got up and solicitously waved Doc to take his chair.

"Sit down, sit down, John Henry. You look like you need it."

It had the predictable effect, and a moment later the men were nose to nose.

"You," Doc growled, "Should not be welcome after everything you've done to Waverly." He stabbed a finger into Bobo's chest for emphasis. "I dunno what the hell they are thinking," he said with a pointed look at Wynonna and Xavier, "but handing her over to Bulshar is not something that can be forgiven."

Wynonna met Xavier's eyes, wondering at which point to intervene. This couldn't come to blows, certainly not with Doc already tired and risking real injury—they couldn't afford that with a confrontation with Bulshar looming. But Xavier shook his head to signal to let it play out a little. He'd headbutted similarly with Doc at first, so she hoped he knew what he was doing.

Bobo made an exaggerated thinking expression, reaction thankfully less volatine than Wynonna had feared.

"It's true, I did do that." he didn't sound apologetic, and up until a few days ago she would have drawn all kind of unkind conclusions from that. Now she wondered if it was because he didn't think there was any apologising for it rather than that he didn't regret it.

"But speaking of putting Waverly in harms way, didn't you use her and her friends as bait to get to the Stone Witch?" he asked, in what from anybody else might have passed for an innocent tone. "Wasn't one of those girls killed? I wonder if Sheriff Nedley knows about that..."

Doc fumed, unable to refute that, and the tension built as the two men faced off, right up into each other's space. Wynonna flashed back to the image in her vision, where Doc had seemed much taller, so clearly in control. Now, his breathing still laboured and with Bobo having such a completely different posture, she could see that they were at least of a height, Bobo possibly a little taller. They looked so completely different that they might as well have been different men.

Bobo grinned his sudden shark grin and lightly smacked the back of his hand against Doc's chest.

"Go to a fucking hospital, you idiot. They can cure that shit."

Doc looked like he might take a swing, but then abruptly turned away instead. He stomped out of the room, and there was a long, awkward silence.

"So, are you sparring or what?" Dolls challenged Bobo, not giving him time to enjoy that victory.

Bobo looked a little surprised, but went back to the chair and looked to be making himself comfortable.

"Oh, you go ahead," he said to Wynonna. "I'll watch. I haven't sparred in..." he waved a hand in a way she suspected might mean 'ever'. She wasn't sure if he'd been a fighter back when he was riding with Wyatt—he hadn't carried himself like one, certainly. Had he been forced to learn to fight when he'd first resurrected, suddenly surrounded by enemies?

She didn't have time to dwell on it, because Xavier was beckoning her onto the mat with a challenging grin, and she had to go wipe that expression off his face right the fuck now.


 

"Hah!" Wynonna couldn't resist gloating a little when she'd managed to take Xavier down, grinning down at him. They were both breathing hard, and he was smiling up at her with so much fondness that she felt a rush in her chest. She didn't notice his hand reaching out until she felt the tickle of his nails against the back of her knee, and yelped in surprise. Her knee reflexively jolted forward, and she managed to avoid kneeing Xavier in the face only by making a slightly awkward forward roll across his body. She let herself flop onto her back by his side with a laugh and met Xavier's high-five.

She caught a glimpse of Bobo and blinked to see that he was watching them with—she'd only ever seen him give that sharp toothy grin of his, that shark's expression that said he was ahead of you and looking forward to seeing you find out. Or on occasion the slightly queasy looking variant that meant he was trying to stay on top of a wave of disaster instead of letting it drag him under. She realised now that never seen him actually smile before.

It faded as soon as he noticed her looking, and he got to his feet.

"I'll, uh—" he gestured to the door with less than his usual self-possession. "See you tomorrow."