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Like Sleep to the Freezing

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There's a loud crack that echos in Waverly's head. It takes her a second to figure out where it came from, but she soon realizes that Champ had just broken her left wrist. She doesn't have time to process the pain because the next thing she knew, Champ is kicking the living daylights out of her ribs. She can't hear much, just the muffled sound of Champ screaming at her. Waverly isn't sure what noise is coming out of her mouth at the moment. She can't differentiate if it's screaming or crying, probably a little bit of both she assumes. Champ stops kicking her. He instead leans down and tightly grabs her by the neck, pulling her onto her feet. The brunette's ribs were screaming at her, feeling like hot knives where being stabbed into her abdomen. He gets in her face and yells louder, spit occasionally landing on her face. 

 

"IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SAY TO ME WAVERLY?!" Champ shouts in her face. 

 

Waverly violently shook her head, feeling hot tears stream down her face. "No!" she choked out, Champs grip around her neck tightening. Waverly could feel her breathing become labored. Her ears were ringing from Champ's voice. 

 

"ARE YOU SURE? BECAUSE 5 MINUTES AGO IT SURE AS HELL SEEMED LIKE YOU WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING TO ME!"

 

He loosened his grip. "No! There's nothing- I want- to say!" 

 

Champ completely let go, letting her drop to the floor. 

 

Waverly fell to the ground, clutching her throat and violently coughing, trying to regulate her breathing again. Her wrist was throbbing with pain. 

 

"Don't you ever, try to tell me how much wine is too much wine. You are not in control here Waves," his voice was low but dangerous. "You work at a bar. If we want another bottle, you can get us one, right?"

 

"Right," Waverly squeaked, her heavy breathing starting to slow down. 

 

"Good. Now clean this up," Champ ordered, gesturing to the spilled wine and broken wine glasses. 

 

Waverly nodded, slowly standing to her feet, watching as Champ ascended the stairs. She glanced down at the wine covered wood floor. Her wrist ached with a sharp, shooting pain that radiated up her arm into her shoulder. But she had to ignore it; she knew that she had to clean the kitchen. It was excruciating, but she was used to pushing aside her pain to please Champ Hardy. She wiped her remaining tears and carefully walked over to the sink, grabbing the towel hanging over the faucet. This was the third time this week that something had broken, but Waverly, however, found a sense of calm in cleaning the mess that she had caused. It brought her comfort knowing that Champ would be in their bedroom, waiting for her with a bunch of remorseful apologies sitting at the edge of his tongue.

 


 

Waverly stared into the bathroom mirror, making sure that her swollen, half-open blackeye was hidden beneath a thick layer of makeup. Trying to come up with an excuse as to why her half was half shut was going to be fun. She then walked over to the full body mirror, analyzing every little detail of her outfit, making sure her shirt didn't ride up too much so that it didn't exposure her bruised ribs, that her sleeves were long enough to cover old marks along her arm and cover the new gash on her right wrist. She adjusted the scarf around her to neck, making sure it hid the dark red, almost bruised marks on her neck that Champ had left  She made sure that her pants were long enough to cover the scars on her legs and that her wedges went past her ankles, covering the fading scars from where he bound her ankles together. She looked at the black cast on her wrist. She reached out and touched it, being painfully reminded of the events that occurred just a few nights before.

 

She had gone through this routine many times before, it was nothing new to her and she'd like to think she was an expert at it. She'd start getting ready for her day hours before her shift at Shorty's. She would rummage through her closet, picking the right clothes for the day. She'd make sure her long sleeve shirt hid the cuts and cigarette burns that ran up and down her arms. Her pants always entirely covered the bruises spread along her legs. She never wore crop tops, she never wore t-shirts, she never went swimming, she never wore shorts, and she never left the house without makeup. There was never a piece of skin that had gone unmarked or unscarred and never a part of skin that went uncovered. No one could ever know that 'the nicest person in Purgatory' ever fell into a troubled relationship. They were high school sweethearts, pinned in the yearbook the couple most likely to get married. They had a reputation to keep, right?  

 

If there was one thing Waverly took pride in, it was their house. She kept it immaculate. She'd clean twice it a week if not more, cleaning the cigarettes and beer bottles Champ left laying around. She'd make sure always to air out the house, not wanting their home to reek of alcohol or tobacco. The floors were always cleaned, as Waverly would often have to clean up blood, spit, or other leftover residues that were always resulting from the night before. She'd have to empty the trash of the bloody bandages and gauze often. A clean house was a priority to Waverly; she wanted the house spotless in case anyone were to come over. Even though Waverly let people over her home, she'd always plan to meet in a public place. If someone asked her to come over, she'd still suggest getting coffee or meeting at the bar. She wanted no one questioning her or her relationship with Champ. Granted, the only people that came over were her Aunt Gus, sister Wynonna, and her best friend, Chrissy.

 

However, there were a few rules for her house guests.

 

No one was allowed to go upstairs. Waverly never explained why, she just told her guests it was off-limits and not to ask any questions, as it was a 'long story.' 

 

And no one was allowed to stay longer than an hour after Champ got home. 

 

Those were the rules, and no one argued Waverly on it. The pint-sized brunette has some fire in her, especially when it came to defending her relationship or Champ. 

 

But Champ has his own rules, too. 

 

The first rule, he gave Waverly 15 minutes after her shift ended to get home. An hour if she had to clean up. And Waverly made sure that she was never late. 

 

The second rule, she never argued with him about anything. Never. Waverly never wanted to talk back to him, to begin with. Champ had instilled in her in the first few months of their relationship that her words held no value. She believes it, and now she's not even sure if she wants to hear what comes out of her mouth.

 

The third rule, not directly spoken by Champ, but an unwritten rule that Waverly learned to comply with. If Champ wanted sex, Waverly had to give it to him, no matter how much she didn't want to. If she didn't, Champ would force her. At first, Waverly fought. But then, she stopped, knowing that if she did, she'd always up end with unnecessary bruises and marks. She thought a few minutes of sex with Champ was better than enduring abuse and forming new scars that would last for a year. 

 

Waverly never tried to take control over Champ. She would never win, he stood at six foot three inches with 200 pound, muscular build. He could easily overtake her. And he has, many times before. He has easily given her bruises simply by squeezing her arm or wrist too hard. His hot cigarette breath, mixed with the sour smell of alcohol, the strength of his right arm, the power of his right leg, the grip of his hands, and his harsh words that Waverly would hear over and over; had become a regular occurrence in Waverly's life. It had become normal for her.  

 

It had been four years since they met. The first year was great as could be, for her partner being Champ Hardy anyway. Waverly was happy, but after their first anniversary, things started going downhill. 

 

Waverly got used to being put down by Champ, he would constantly tell her that her opinions and feelings were wrong. She got used to him coming home late or not coming home at all. She got used to radio silence from him, not hearing or seeing him for days. When she first confronted him about it, he got angry, blaming her and telling her that if she was a better girlfriend, he'd come home more often, if she had sex with him more often he'd, want to be around her. When they first met, Waverly had first been excited to share with him the new and fascinating documentaries she'd watched that day or the new things she'd learned in history or Latin class. But that excitement dwindled the more they'd been together. He never wanted to hear it. He'd tell her that no one as pretty as her should be into that stuff. He said that people would like her more if she just 'shut that pretty little brain of hers' off. He told her that 'if she wasn't boring him with that crap so often' he'd love her more. Over time, she got used to this and pretty soon, she didn't really care how he spent his time. As long as he was happy, she was ok with it.  

 

Champ would get furious with her if she spent too much time with her family or friends. He hated it when she would spend too much time with anyone other than him. If she was over the homestead longer than his liking, he'd go over there, storming into the house and causing a scene. He'd demand at have her home and he once grabbed her by the arm and forcefully walking them out of the house. But he never hit her in front of anyone. He was just as good on putting on a fake character as Waverly was. 

 

But Waverly knew he loved her. She insisted on it. They once had a great connection and she firmly believed it was still alive. It had to be. Champ loved her and she loved him. They were Champ Hardy and Waverly Earp, high school sweethearts destined to be together. 

 

Because Waverly Earp without Champ Hardy was just Waverly Earp. 

 

 

Waverly walked into Shorty's bar, dreading her long 6-hour shift. Her wrist was throbbing and every little movement sent pain throughout her entire abdomen. She was racking her brain as she walked through the front doors, trying to think of an excuse as to why her wrist was broken and why her eye was half swollen shut. 

 

"Good afternoon darlin' " Her Aunt Gus greeted her in her southern drawl. "Waverly, what happened to you?!" She exclaimed, doing a double-take. She rushed over to Waverly's side, examining her eye then her wrist. 

 

"Oh, it's nothing, Aunt Gus," Waverly brushed off, attempting to walk past her.

 

"Little girl this is certainly not, 'nothing'," she retorted, following her into the break room. 

 

Her Aunt Gus had practically raised her after her parents left her and her sister's, Wynonna and Willa. She knew Waverly Earp better than anyone and sometimes Waverly thought she knew her better than she knew herself. 

 

"Gus, it's really not a big deal," she replied, hanging up her purse on the rack, grimacing in pain as she lifts her arm up.

 

"Waverly Earp, you are wincing in pain. You better tell me what happened or I'll be sendin' you home 'til you get better." 

 

Waverly sighed, her brain running at a cheetah's pace, trying to come up with an excuse. 

 

"I was hiking the other day. I was climbing over a pretty big rock and tripped and fell and I kneed my eye in the process and I landed on my wrist. But I'm fine, doctors gave me pain medicine and said I'm all good to work." Waverly turned around and walked over to the sink to wash her one good hand. 

 

Gus glared at her, eyes squinting as she processed the information Waverly had revealed with her. 

 

Waverly could feel Gus' eyes burning a hole in the back of her head, but she refused to turn around. 

 

Gus sighed and walked over to Waverly and placing her hand on Waverly's shoulder as she dried her hands. 

 

"Doc says you alright to work?"

 

Waverly smiles and nods, turning around to face her. 

 

"Yeah, he says I'm fine. Cast will be off in four weeks."

 

"Is it broken?"

 

"No, just a minor fracture."

 

Gus stares at her one last time before deciding to let Waverly get to work.

 

"Alright, darlin'. But if I see you in pain, I'm sendin' you home. Deal?"

 

"Deal."

 

Gus nods and turns around to head back to the bar. "And be on time tomorrow!" she calls over her shoulder. 

 

"You got it!"

 


 

Halfway into her shift and her body ached with pain. Everything was hurting. Every bottle she grabbed, drink she poured, and table she waited cause her great pain. It didn't help that she had to do it all right-handed. Her left hand was uselessly limp, stuck in the thick black cast. 

 

"Hey Waves!" her best friend Chrissy greeted, setting her purse on the bar and sitting on the stool below her. "What happened to your wrist?! And you're eye?! Are you ok?!"

 

Waverly chortled. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a hiking accident. The doctor said I'm ok to work and I'll be getting the cast off in four weeks."

 

"Waverly, you gotta be more careful! Not everyone can be as fit as you and I'm a personal trainer! But sometimes it's ok to take a break and relax on the couch." 

 

"Yeah, I know. But you know me. How was work?"

 

"The usual. My roommate Rachel isn't home so I thought I'd grab dinner here. Not everyone can have a perfect relationship like you and Champ can and not everyone can own their own home at 24." 

 

Waverly could feel her face harden, but she quickly put a smile on.

 

"Hey, can I get a beer?"

 

"Of course." Waverly leaned down to get her a beer but clutched her ribs in pain, letting out a choked breath of pain. 

 

"Wave, you ok?" 

 

"Yeah, I just fell really hard when hiking." 

 

"Hmm, ok," Chrissy said, deciding to let it go. 

 

Waverly placed the open beer bottle in front of Chrissy and continued to make small talk with her. They talked about their days and their weekend plans. Waverly, of course, lied about her day and her weekend plans. She told Chrissy her day was fine and that she had planned on just cleaning the house for the weekend. Which wasn't completely untrue, she did have to clean the house. 

 

"Miss Waverly, can I get that rodeo burger with a Bud Light?" one of her regular patrons, Ed Littles asked. He was an older man in his mid-fifties. He was a janitor at the local school and like clockwork, he always came for dinner every Friday at happy hour. 

 

"Of course, Ed," Waverly said with a casual smile. Waverly walked over to the online ordering system and typed in his order and then grabbed him a Bud Light. 

 

"Classic ceasar salad for you," Waverly said, typing her order in as well. 

 

"You know me so well," Chrissy smirked. 

 

"Darlin' can you run down to storage and get another bottle of whiskey?" Gus asked her as she walked behind the bar. 

 

"Yeah."

 

Waverly exited the bar and headed towards the cellar door. She could feel her feet twinged with pain and her ribs burned, feeling like needles were jabbing into her. The more she worked the more her body ached. She wasn't sure if she could keep going, at times it took her breath away. But she had to keep a poker face, just another 30 minutes until her shift was over. This was nothing compared to other problems in the world, she just had to power through it. 

 

"Here," she said, handing the bottle over to Gus. "I'm going to take my break now."

 

Gus nodded and went back to fixing the cocktail for the young woman sitting at the bar in front of her. 

 

Waverly headed into the break room bathroom, really wanting to get some privacy. She made sure that the bathroom door was locked before lifting up her long-sleeve shirt, revealing the dark purple and crimson red bruise, that spread from the left of her ribs to the middle of her abdomen. It hurt like hell. Just lifting her shirt shot pain throughout her body. 

 

She sighed at herself, putting her shirt back down and glanced at the mirror, glaring at the reflection staring back at her. She hated that this is the person she had become, she hated that she had become so unlovable. No one would ever want to be with her, she was disgusting. And she knew that she would never make anyone happy. Champ would be the only one there for her, he loved her. He loved her like no one else would and Waverly knew that she would never be capable of finding love again.