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Title: i will fight 'til i have died
Characters: Winona Hawkins, Ava Crowder, Raylan Givens
Summary: Part 2
Winona Hawkins returns to Harlan as a US Marshal. Character-swap, ladies-centric AU, inspired by But we are not men by [archiveofourown.org profile] moonshine_givens. R, for gore and language.

Part 1


i will fight 'til i have died - 2

Art Mullen is the head of the US Marshals’ office in Eastern Kentucky out of Lexington. Winona has met him before, as he’d been teaching shooting at Glynco the same time as she’d been the female hand-to-hand instructor there. They hadn’t been close, but she knew him to say hello to, had been to a couple of his wife’s big dinner parties. He had a good reputation -- watched out for his people and didn’t take shit from anyone.

“Bit of a comedown from the Miami office,” Art Mullen says in greeting.

Winona’s smile is honest enough. “I could probably use something a bit less high-profile.” Aside from the fact that this is Kentucky, she really doesn’t mind.

After a quick round of introductions, Art ushers her into his office. It looks for a moment like he might be about to say something about Gary -- everyone had heard about Gary -- but he thinks the better of it, thank god.

Instead, he says, “You still got much family in Kentucky?”

“I’m sure I do,” she says, though she silently wonders how many would still count her as kin, after what she’s done.

"I thought I remembered you grew up around Harlan. You happen to know a Boyd Crowder?"

Winona allows that she's heard of him. "Not many around there haven't."

"The US Attorney is trying to build a case against him, shooting people, blowing shit up, getting his hands into just about every criminal enterprise that runs through there. He's living up in Harlan with a man who, near as we can tell, is his boyfriend. Another Harlan boy, used to be a Marine, if you can believe it. Raylan Givens -- you ever hear of him?"

Winona leans back, suddenly out of breath, shocked. "My god, Art, you got any more shit you want to dump on me today?"

At her language, Art glances over the desk at her, raises his eyebrows. "Something I should be aware of, Winona?”

She collects herself -- stops gaping at least -- says, “Sorry. A girl could get pretty upset hearing that kind of news about a man she married once.”

"Who the what now?" Art says. "You're bullshitting me."

"I swear I'm not.” Winona holds up her hands, palms out to forestall his questions.

Art shuts his briefcase and taps his fingers on it. He’s looking at her like she’s surprised him somehow, as if he’d remembered she was from Harlan county but didn’t quite expect her to have any history there. Eventually he gets up, says,“That sounds like the kind of story that calls for a drink.”

Winona smiles and follows him out of the office. “I won’t say no.”



The boy’s name is Jared Hale, up from Oklahoma. His sister said he had good prospects, was looking to get his hand into some of the explosives, and no one ever did know explosives like those Harlan boys.

Raylan scowls when he comes to pick up Boyd, takes one look at the mess and turns his eyes away. He’d been pissed when Boyd called him at the bar where he was working, and the apparent murder doesn’t pacify him any.

The only thing he says on the way back is, “Did you have to?”

Boyd sighs and stares into the dark on the side of the road, says, “That boy was so full of directionless malice, he would’a poisoned the entire enterprise if I’d’a let him in. Dumb as a box of hair, too, talking up his dubious merits and getting entirely the wrong impression of the situation down here in Harlan,” which, Raylan knows, is his way of saying yes, and likely he called you a fag, as well, so it ain’t like he can argue.



“Raylan and I barely knew each other, as kids,” says Winona, once Art takes her to get that drink. “Our families had one of those feuds going, an old thing, the kind that gets handed down from one generation of idiots to the next going on centuries.”

“That’s some Romeo and Juliet bullshit.”

Winona laughs at Art’s expression. “Before I left Kentucky, the only thing I knew about Raylan Givens was that he’d hesitate to swing at a girl, so I could always be sure to get in one good hit, at least.”

“Endearing.”

Winona shakes her head, because she can’t tell him how it kind of was. “I guess you wouldn’t have met him. It was only a couple of years we were together -- he ran out on me right before I’d got the transfer to Glynco.”

“He ran out on you?” Art frowns, a little furrow of confusion

“His mama was sick and he came home to look after her, take care of things.”

“That doesn’t sound like he ran out on you, exactly.”

“I was always the one who called Frances, after she took ill -- Frances was his mama -- sweet woman, stubborn as all hell, too. Raylan couldn’t handle it, talking to her, not being able to do anything for her condition.” Winona shrugs. “One night he got drunk, told me he was thinking about going home. Didn’t say another word about it. Three days later, he was gone, left behind half his stuff and a goddamn sticky note. He never called and he never did come back. Now how does that sound?”

She hadn’t realized then, how hard it must have been for Raylan to even admit that much.

“Sounds like he’s an asshole.”

Winona gives him a rueful smile. “Tell you the truth, Art, that was kinda what I liked about him.”

She lets that sit for a little while, lets him have some time to consider just how little she’s turning out to be what he expected. She’d stayed married to Raylan, if only in name, for two years after he was gone -- she doesn’t have to admit to anyone but herself that if he’d come back in those two years, she’d have let him.

“Tell me about Boyd Crowder,” Winona says, before Art can ask any more questions she doesn’t want to answer.

He tells her that Boyd was picked up for tax evasion; he’d been careful enough when he was blowing up cars and robbing banks that the couldn’t get anything serious to stick. That doesn’t quite sit right with Winona, though it sounds exactly like something Boyd would do -- he never was as dumb as he pretended to be. Then Art tells her that Boyd’s MO has changed since he got out, still too careful to be caught, but he’s moved from robbery to drugrunning, mainly, with a bit of extortion and whoring on the side.

“When did he get out?”

“Going on ten years, now.”

Winona does the math and it comes out about what she expected.

She called Raylan once, after he left her, right before she sent him the divorce papers -- listened to his excuses with all the patience she could manage. He wasn't coming home. She thinks on that for a little too long.

Art says, “What do you know about Boyd Crowder?”

“I know about what every girl in Harlan county knew.” Winona shakes her head. “He was creepy as hell, but smart, too. You’d think he was nothing but what Bo had made him, mean and crude and ignorant, then he’d turn around and start quoting Byron to get your attention.”

“Byron?”

“I read, you know,” Winona says, not admitting that she’d wondered for years, until she looked it up on the Internet one night, after Raylan left her, thinking about all the shit she left behind in Kentucky.

Art chuckles, probably suspects the truth of it anyway. “So he never seemed like the type, huh? To be-”

The gesture he makes somehow manages to convey, living with another man, with startling coherence.

“I always did feel like that Crowder boy was gonna steal from me,” Winona says, smirking, “but I never thought he’d steal my man.”







Notes
Title from The Hand That Thieves by Streetlight Manifesto.
Second part in a rewrite of the pilot, likely the first fic in a series, we'll see if anyone is interested.
Also available on AO3.
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