Notes: Non-Canon compliant. Future AU. Please don't hurt me.
She loves it here and hates it too. She loves to spend time with Aunt Helen and work in the garden and she loves how hot it feels here as compared to Lexington.
But it's hard to get past staring down your very much alive father's gravestone, or the man who waxes poetic about the day that he'll be buried there.
Arlo (he's not Grampa and he never, ever will be) always talks like he can't wait for his own son to die so he can put him in the ground, and it scares the hell out of Shelley.
She knows she'd be fine. She'd have her mama, and her aunt Gail and grandmother. She'd still have her Aunt Helen, but even though the man is still alive she knows exactly where that hole in her heart will be when Raylan Givens dies, and she feels it readying itself every time she comes face to face with that gravestone.
And one day, planting tomato seeds with Aunt Helen, Shelley's had enough. It's July and hot and Arlo's telling her again how he got those gravestones again, and how her daddy's gonna die sooner rather than later and be buried right there. Again.
Aunt Helen tells him to shut the hell up; "The girl doesn't wanna hear that kinda talk about her daddy."
"She's fine," Alro argues, waving a hand. "Ain't like she don't know what her daddy does; how her daddy lives."
And something in her just snaps. She doesn't know what or why but her feet are carrying her to the shed and her hands are grabbing the heavy, rusted pickaxe from the corner and lifting it, carrying it out and over to the gravestones.
Arlo and Aunt Helen yell for her. She knows they're shocked and they're telling her stop but all she does as lift the pickaxe and bring it down hard on the headstone marked "Raylan Givens. Beloved Son of Arlo and Frances. 1970-."
She keeps at it; watching the stone crumble and break, until a large, bony hand grips her by the hair and yanks hard. She drops the pickaxe and gets shoved to the grass. She rolls onto her back just in time for Arlo's foot to connect with her shoulder.
White hot pain shoots through her as his foot comes back down and something cracks in her chest and she gets dizzy, suddenly. She can hear Aunt Helen screaming for him to stop, but she doesn't say anything.
Shelley watches the foot lift one more time, and then stop. She can feel the wind pick up a little; thinks she hears some thunder rumble in the distance and knows that her father has arrived early to pick her up.
He's a force of nature, her daddy. It seems like every time he's angry, he brings a storm with him.
She hears Arlo get pushed back, his boots heavy on the grass, and then her daddy's voice rings sharp on the hot air.
"You move from that spot I will shoot you in the head, god damn the consequences."
Her vision still swims and she squints up. She can make out the Stetson and the Marshal badge attached to his belt, but not much else.
"Shelley? Darlin', you hearin me?"
Shelley nods and then gives a cough and something that tastes metallic hits her tongue.
"Shit." Her daddy's voice is edged with panic and she sees him fumble for something; something shiny that he puts to his ear. A phone, and he's calling an ambulance.
She wakes up to arguing.
It's nothing new for a child of divorce. Fact of life. Sometimes you wake up to arguing.
"I didn't know she was gonna do that, and I didn't know Arlo was gonna lose his shit like he did. I won't leave her over there anymore."
"You should never have left her there in the first place!"
"Ain't like she's little anymore, Winona, she's half grown, and she likes spendin' time with Aunt Helen."
"Give me a reason I shouldn't keep her away from you."
"Because that girl's the best thing in my life, and I'd do anything to protect her."
Her mama sighs heavily. "Raylan..."
"We won't go over there anymore. We won't. We'll visit Boyd and Ava and Josh and that's it."
"She shouldn't be there either."
Silence fills the room until her mama speaks up again.
"She really busted up that old gravestone?"
Her daddy's voice is quiet and she feels his large, callused hand rest on top of hers; warm and reassuring. "Yeah."
"Our baby's smart."
He huffs out a short laugh. "Yeah."
"Ain't so smart," she mutters. "Got myself kicked in the chest." She squints up at them, her vision clearing slowly.
Her daddy grins. "Arlo busted a couple of your ribs. You're lucky as hell I showed up when I did."
"Don't you know, Daddy?" she jokes. "We ain't got nothin' but luck."
Her mama sits down slowly next to her. "Listen to this one jokin' like it ain't no thing. Like she's the toughest little thing in Kentucky."
"She is the toughest little thing in Kentucky," her daddy says, looking oddly proud.
"I gonna be alright?" Shelley asks, looking from one parent to the other.
"You're gonna be just fine," her mama says. "I am gonna take you home and take good care of you, you'll be better in no time."
"Shelley," he daddy says slowly. "I don't know-"
"Daddy, too," her mama nods. "For a little while. Just til you're back on your feet again." She looks over Shelley's head at him. "He's even gonna take off from work."
Shelley looks up at him, and he's lookin' at Mama for a moment before looking to her.
"Ain't like I don't got the time."