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[personal profile] charybdis
Title: i felt no guilt 'til i was caught
Characters: Ava Crowder, Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder, (offscreen)Bowman Crowder
Summary: It's a series, now! Backstory. " was quite some time ago Ava laid down the law on your -- or anyone’s -- involvement in her affairs. As in, stay out of ‘em, ‘less you’re invited in." Character-swap, ladies-centric AU, inspired by But we are not men by [ profile] moonshine_givens. PG-13. Mentions of domestic abuse.

i felt no guilt 'til i was caught

The first time was a few years after Raylan came back, when Ava showed up to work with too much makeup where she was accustomed to wearing hardly any at all.

He went by her house that evening, demanded to know where Bowman was.

Ava, who had smiled to see him coming up her driveway, met him at the door and shook her head.

“He’s probably out drinking -- I don’t know,” Ava said. “Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you,”

The admission took him aback. He put his fist on the doorframe, the better to brace his fury. “Why the hell not?”

“You look like you’re set to kill a man, Raylan. And I won’t have that.”

“He ain’t here, I’ll wait for him. At least you could leave this asshole. Ava, what have you got to lose?”

For a moment, something dark and powerful twisted Ava’s expression, but she shook it off, didn’t answer, said only, “I think I’m gonna have to ask you to leave, Raylan.”

“The hell I will.”

There was a shotgun next to the door, and Ava picked it up in one smooth movement. She didn’t point it quite at him, but her hands were steady and familiar with it.

Raylan took one step back, then hesitated.

“Ava,” he said, hands held out to the side now, “He’s gonna kill you one day.” He had been angry when he came, but that was only ‘cause it was easier than worry, and he let that worry show, now.

She sighed, heavy, unhappy, and didn’t take a single step from her threshold.

“It won’t come to that. I know you been married before, Raylan. You’d let anyone else kill her? No matter what she did to you?” He didn’t answer -- he didn’t have to. “No, ‘cause it’s your own business.

“Now much as I appreciate your concern,” Ava racked her shotgun and gestured for him to get down off her porch, “you best move along, cowboy, ‘fore I have to show you just how I handle my business.”

Next day, when Boyd stopped by to say hello, Ava gave him a company-coming-over-smile across her cutting board, dismembering a chicken with practiced ease. Boyd’d got better manners than Raylan, and she acknowledged that by not shoving a gun in his face. She finessed her carving knife through skin and tendon, while he preached family and forgiveness and protection from her dining table. He wound down, asked her if there was anything she needed to get off her chest, seeing as they were kin, if you thought about it, and he was obliged to protect her, if he was able.

Ava demurred, proceeding to cut the back and breast apart, filling the silence with the sound of blade sawing through tiny bones. She laid the breast flat on the board and tossed the back into her scrap bowl before deigning to meet Boyd’s steady stare.

“You know, you got a reputation, Boyd, as a mean son-of-a-gun doesn’t care about much of anything but getting money and blowing stuff up.” And fucking your boy, Ava didn’t add, ‘cause she was still being polite. “I just don’t think I can accept the kind of protection you’re offering.”

She put the heel of her hand on the chicken breast and pushed down hard. The breastbone broke with a sharp crack. She sliced the meat away from the bone in two deft cuts, guiding the big blade unerringly along the curve of bone, nothing wasted.

Boyd got up from the table and came to stand in the doorway by the kitchen.

He scanned her face and his eyes stuck on the bruise that she hadn’t bothered to cover up that morning, not expecting any visitors -- or maybe counting on just the one and counting on making a point. “What he done to you was wrong, Ava.”

And that was the first thing he said that she actually seemed to hear, the words breaking her careful expression and the easy movements of her carving.

“You just don’t understand, do you, Boyd?” Her eyes were bright with unshed tears and he couldn’t tell if the twist to her mouth meant she was pissed or just plain sad.

Then she shifted her grip on her knife, a quick, thoughtless movement, back of the blade held along her forearm down by her side, set to open a man from hip to shoulder, and it was clear that pissed didn’t half cover what Ava was right then.

“It don’t matter what your brother did was wrong,” she said, sounding choked up, clutching her knife fit to dent the grip, “Ain’t no one’s business but mine.”

“Ava --”

She flipped the knife in her hand again, back to something that might conceivably be used to prepare food ‘stead of cut another human being, pointed it at him for emphasis. “You go over my head about this -- you, or Raylan, or anybody -- I will find out. And I will make sure you will regret it for the rest of your miserable life, you hear?”

Boyd met her eyes and nodded slowly, serious. He didn’t step back. “Ava?” he said, level, like he didn’t notice she was about to cry, “You got a plan, girl?”

That made her smile, wry and still damp, but recovering. “What kinda idiot you take me for, Boyd?”

“All right, then. Okay.” He turned for the front door. “You ever change your mind -- and I do mean ever, Ava -- you know where I’ll be.”

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July 2015

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