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The Last Flame

Chapter Text

A tall, beautiful redhead sat a table, slouching down in her seat as if attempting to disappear into the worn cushion of the bench. Her chocolate eyes, eyes that once held a spark of life in them, appeared dulled and sad. When she smiled—really smiled—dimples would highlight her gorgeous features. Today, though, Nicole was not smiling. The girl across from her, a dark haired woman with toned biceps and a permanent smirk, was talking animatedly at Nicole until she finally noticed the cloudiness in the redhead’s eyes.

“Babe, what’s up?” the brunette inquired, her hand quickly covering the length of the table to grab Nicole’s. The redhead quickly sat up, pulling her hand away slightly; the brunette stared at Nicole questioningly, her hand retreating to her own side, a look of rejection playing for a moment on her dark features.

So many thoughts bounced around in Nicole’s head… accusations, hurt feelings, distrust, discomfort… but all she said was, “I don’t think this is what I’m looking for right now.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t think we’re at the same place right now, and I think we’re looking for different things.”

“Well, what are you looking for?”

Nicole closed her eyes for a moment and groaned inwardly. This girl. They had been on one date, shared one emotionless kiss, and she had already drunk-texted the redhead for two hours the day after their meeting, while Nicole was on duty. She just texted saying how much she missed Nicole, wanted to hold her, to kiss her, over and over again. Sure, she was nice, but Nicole didn’t even think she liked the girl like that. When you kiss someone, isn’t it supposed to feel like something? Fireworks? Sparks? Any little bit of conduction? The girl was getting very clingy, way too fast, and Nicole didn’t even feel a crush. Technically, Nicole was looking for the same type of relationship this other girl was—Nicole just didn’t see herself wanting it with her, though.

This dumping thing was harder than she thought. Every few seconds she wondered if she wasn’t just doing this because of what her exes had done or what her family would say… maybe she was scared to feel anything because that would mean opening herself up to get hurt. It would mean, if she found the right person, she wouldn’t be able to go back to her family at all. They wouldn’t let her if she was in a committed relationship with a woman. Is that why she didn’t feel anything for this girl? Because she wouldn’t let herself feel anything? No. Nicole actually didn’t feel that way towards her and she did deserve better. She deserved to be with someone she felt something for, who gave her butterflies. Someone she couldn’t wait to spend time with and didn’t have to force herself to make plans with. She hoped there was something better out there for her.

“I’m not sure what I’m looking for. I just know we’re at really different places with our feelings and I don’t want to feel like I have to pressure myself to catch up to how you feel, when I’m just not there yet,” Nicole finally answered, trying her best not to hurt the other girl. Sure, she was extremely clingy, but she was nice enough. They just didn’t mesh.

* * * * * *

Twenty minutes later, Nicole finally exited the restaurant. She was pretty sure the girl was still crying in there, but she had done her best to comfort her and it was at the point where Nicole realized she was only making things worse by being there. So she called the girl a cab, as she had shouted quite clearly at Nicole that she didn’t want the redhead to take her home, paid the bill, and left. Standing outside for a moment, she wondered if she had made a mistake. What if no one wanted her? What if this girl would have been the love of her life, the only chance for a love in her life, and she had just rejected her? Nicole had always been the one being cheated on and dumped… this new role came with a lot of confusion and doubt. She hated hurting people, but it was better to have done it now than to wait until the girl’s feelings grew more and have Nicole still not like her like that. To be fair, it had only been one date and the girl already had those feelings. It was a little much.

No, Nicole hadn’t made a mistake. Deep down, she did know that. She just wondered if she would ever find anyone, anyone whose feelings actually matched her own, anyone she could trust with her life and with her heart. If Nicole was being honest with herself, she didn’t ever see that happening—especially given all her past relationships.

Suddenly, the sky opened up and thundered violently down on her, the unexpected torrential rain drenching her in a matter of seconds. She ran through the dark, muggy air until she finally reached her small grey sedan. Fumbling with the keys, she managed to slide inside as lightning split the sky in front of her.

“Well, shit. Isn’t that just perfect,” she groaned, wringing out her sleeves inside the vehicle. Sighing, wondering if her life was always bound to be this difficult, she flipped on the wipers to full speed and started her way home, alone again.

Chapter Text

A short, gorgeous brunette Virgo with hair for days wiped down the bar for what seemed to be the seven hundredth time that night. Her usually shining green eyes seemed tired and worn out. The night had been very long, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the whole night had been only ordinary. Day after day, it was the same old, married men, trying to get away with grazing her hand, breathing down her neck, touching the small of her back when she walked by… but she was a bartender. It was part of the job. On top of that, she was a small, fit, Earp bartender. When you’re an Earp, you don’t get the same treatment as everyone else. You can’t expect people to treat you kindly to begin with, because being an Earp comes with baggage.

The last of drunken stragglers had finally, unwillingly, staggered out the door when Shorty threatened them with the shotgun he kept behind the counter. It wasn’t loaded, but the drunkards didn’t know that and were too inebriated to ask. As soon as the door shut behind them, Waverly jumped out from behind the bar and quickly locked it. She turned around, back against the door and slid down until she was resting on the floor, knees bent and head in hands. Shorty had gone to the back to do some inventory as soon as he saw the men were leaving without issue, leaving Waverly alone in the main bar. She took a few deep breaths, trying to feel… more. It had been such a long day, so she was just probably overthinking everything. She always felt like she needed more out of life, like she was meant for more, but that was just probably her naivety. All Waverly had was her job and an emptiness in her life.

Collecting herself, she took a deep breath and picked herself up off the floor. She needed to finish cleaning up the bar—or at least start to cleaning it up—before Shorty came back, otherwise he would not be happy. She would never lose her job; Shorty loved her too much for that. But part of the reason why Shorty loved her so much was because, not only was she a sweet and intelligent girl, but she always tried to make other people happy, even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness. And that included cleaning the bar. With an aura of tiredness—tiredness of mind, body, and heart—she began to wipe out the glasses.

* * * * * *

Just as she was finishing the last of the glasses, she heard a creak of the floorboards from behind her.

“Hey, Shorty. Finished in there already?” Waverly asked, not looking up from the glass she was wiping. When there was no answer, she began to turn around when a pair of strong, rough hands grabbed her around the waist from behind. “Hey—” she began, her heart starting to beat loudly in her chest.

“Babe,” a tired, hot voice breathed in her ear, “you almost done? I need a little help getting to sleep.” Champ. Of course.

“I’m too tired tonight, Champ,” Waverly said, pushing his hands off of her waist and turning around so his very obvious boner wouldn’t be pressed up against her ass. She crossed her arms in front of her to put some space between their bodies. Champ was a good looking guy—muscular, tan, great hair… and he loved Waverly. She knew that. They had been together for so long that there was nothing else she knew; just thinking that brought that feeling of emptiness back to the pit of her stomach.

“You’ve been too tired for the past three months, babe. C’mon… give Daddy some sugar,” Champ’s words seemed to slur in his exhaustion—or maybe his drunkenness. Knowing Champ, either option was equally likely, even at one in the morning on a Tuesday night.

“You know I hate that, Champ,” Waverly said, not meeting his eyes.

“What… Daddy?” he asked slyly, trying to push his groin against her. Waverly kept her arms crossed against her ample chest to keep him as far away as possible.

“Champ… stop…” but her boyfriend spotted a hesitation in her words this time, so he put his mouth to her ear and began nibbling, holding her in his arms. Maybe Waverly was wrong… every time Champ asked for sex recently, she had been turning him down. He kept saying she was his girlfriend, she owed him that much, and maybe he was right. Champ had been the one guy willing to date an Earp girl, regardless of what the name meant in their small town. He had stood by her for years—save a cheating excursion or seven—and he did love her. There was no doubt about that. Champ was the best she was going to get, so why couldn’t she just give him what he wanted? Just as she was about to uncross her arms and reluctantly give in to her boyfriend’s request, Shorty walked into the bar from the back room.

“Champ!” he shouted as soon as he saw the boy practically humping a dead eyed, arms crossed Waverly, “Get back up to the apartment and let my employee finish her job or I swear I will evict you!” Champ rolled his eyes, but he backed off of Waverly who let out a small sigh of relief, releasing the tension that had been building up inside of her. She immediately felt bad that the prospect of sex with her boyfriend, even just spending time with her boyfriend, brought out that reaction in her. It wasn’t fair to him. She watched as he dragged his feet slowly up the stairs, back to their shared apartment, without looking back at Waverly once.

“You okay?” Shorty questioned, putting a hand reassuringly on her shoulder, a soft look in his eyes.

“Yeah, of course,” Waverly managed to squeak out, “He’s my boyfriend. Why wouldn’t I be fine?”

“Who are you trying to convince, kid?” Shorty said softly, turning away from her. Waverly couldn’t help but think he was right… she did seem to be trying to convince herself as well. Because Champ was her boyfriend, it should be fine. So why did she feel like it wasn’t?

“Really, Shorty. All good.”

“Alright, Waverly. If you want to head up, you’re free to go. If you want to wait a bit, you could wipe down the tables. I’m going to head out, just make sure to hang the rag when you’re done.” Waverly felt such compassion for the man. He had always been so great to her no matter what and always seemed to know exactly what she needed.

As Shorty left out the back, Waverly grabbed the rag and began wiping down a few of the tables, mulling over in her head everything she had been feeling for the past few months. Before, she had always been so happy that someone loved her, that someone was there for her. She forgave Champ for all his misgivings and his cheating because, even though he wasn’t being faithful, he was still with her and he still loved her. And maybe she just wasn’t giving him everything that he needed, so if he cheated that was a bit of her fault as well. Champ was sweet, in his own way, and he looked out for Waverly. Until a few months ago, that had been enough. But something changed and she wasn’t happy with that anymore. She felt like she needed more than that… she wanted love. She wanted to feel something. But Champ was her best option—her only option. She could never leave everything she’d known… ever.

Finishing up the tables, Waverly hung the rag and walked to the base of the stairs, looking up at the dark expanse before her. Taking a deep, reluctant breath, she began the climb, hoping against all hope Champ had already fallen asleep.

Chapter Text

Nicole awoke to the sound of the rain still pounding against the window by her bed. Rubbing her eyes and turning on her side, she peered at the clock and groaned when her brain finally registered the time—4:53 am. She didn’t need to be at the station for her shift until nine, but for some reason this was the morning her body decided she needed to be up at a completely unreasonable hour. Nicole lay in the bed for a few minutes, her fingers tracing absentmindedly up and down the side of the blue tank top she wore, hoping that she might be able to fall back asleep. After ten minutes, she finally realized that it wasn’t going to work and swung her legs over the edge of the bed so her feet hit the cool wood of the hardwood floor. Feeling exhausted, she decided to use this time to take a shower and think.

Nicole slipped out of the tank and boy-shorts she had worn to bed and stepped under the beating hot water. She breathed a sigh of relief as the water poured down on her, cleaning her body, her soul. As much as she knew she was in the right regarding her “breakup” last night, she couldn’t help but let the doubts consume her. While Nicole realized her anxieties didn’t have any foundation in truth, that didn’t make them any less real—indeed, her own mind created truth for the anxieties, connecting relationships from the past to uncertainties about her future. Nicole knew that just because she had been cheated on in the past, just because her parents didn’t accept her, just because she had never found someone she could truly open up to and trust, didn’t necessarily mean that would never happen. And while she understood this logically, her brain somehow managed to twist the logic and turn the events of the past into a future.

She would never be happy. Everyone would leave her eventually. She would never be good enough for anyone. She was destined to live her life alone. No one would ever want someone like her. The thoughts pounded in her head with each slam of high-pressured water against her skin. Finally giving up her composure, Nicole let the tears slip from her eyes, hot and thick, while the water from the showerhead splashed to the floor, while the rain battered the ground outside her house.

* * * * * *

“Wow, Haught, you look like shit. Did you even try to sleep last night?” Lonnie stared at the woman from his desk as she shuffled through the doorway to the station. The cop had thick brown hair in a buzz cut on his head with bright blue eyes that were the first thing anyone noticed when they looked at him. He was very well-built and muscular, his biceps stretching out the material of his uniform slightly as he sat with his arms crossed against his chest.

Nicole didn’t realize just how defeated she looked, but Lonnie saw the defeat permeating through her body. Sure, technically she looked good—the short red hair was dried by now and settled in waves framing her face, her uniform pressed neatly and tucked in. But when Nicole was defeated it was very obvious—at least to Lonnie. Her eyes didn’t hold the same shine and spark of life they normally would; her smile didn’t reach far enough to show off her dimples; her posture was slightly slouched; her limbs looked as though they were too heavy to move.

“Thanks, partner. Good morning to you, too.” Nicole sighed and made her way to her desk. Just in case, she quickly looked at herself in the camera on her phone—she looked good enough. Hair was decent enough, uniform together… what was Lonnie even talking about? Sure, she felt like crap, but she did take a shower this morning. Was it that easy to tell from the outside what she was feeling inside? People had always jokingly chided her for being an open book and Nicole was trying her best to work on that, but apparently she still wasn’t too great at hiding her true feelings.

“So…” Lonnie cleared his throat uncomfortably, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands together, twiddling his thumbs while staring at them intently.

“Yes, Lonnie?” Nicole rolled her eyes and gave the younger cop a small smile. Whenever Lonnie got this nervous, it meant he was going to say something he actually meant, rather than just being sarcastic.

“You know, like, we’re partners and everything so if something’s going on, I’m here if you want to talk about it or something. Just saying,” he said, looking up briefly to meet her eyes and then quickly looking away again.

“Thank you, Lonnie. I’m good. Just a bit of a rough night, nothing I can’t handle,” Nicole replied. The other cop let out a breath it looked like he had been holding for quite a while. The relief was evident on his face for a split second, but then he quickly rearranged his face into how it normally appeared as—serious, yet with a sly smirk.

“Good. Just got to make sure you can actually handle your job, Haught,” he winked at the redhead.

“Lonnie, you do realize I’m the senior officer here, right?” Nicole pretended to be offended but couldn’t help a small smile that came to her lips. When they were in the office, Lonnie was very sarcastic and always kept Nicole on her toes, often giving her a hard time and calling her out when she needed to be called out. However, when they were in the field actually dealing with a situation, he always followed command and let the more experienced officer lead, giving his input when he wanted, but all in all realizing that Nicole was extremely good at her job and he should listen to what she says. Lonnie and Nicole had a very good friendship and he respected her immensely, so their working relationship ended up being very easy as well.

“Yes, Officer Haught, ma’am,” he saluted her with a silly, lopsided grin as she rolled her eyes and let out a soft chuckle. Already, the issues she had earlier in the day seemed to be washing away. While the worries still ate at her, they were now pushed down to the point where they weren’t all-consuming as they had been. Lonnie always knew how to brighten up her day, and Nicole truly appreciated that. “Nedley says it’s probably going to be a slow day, by the way. He put us on desk duty because he says he wants to go out in the field today, so if anything happens Nedley’s probably going to be able to take care of it himself,” Lonnie warned her as their boss had warned him when Lonnie came in for his shift an hour before Nicole.

“Great,” Nicole sighed, a bit upset that she was going to have to do paperwork all day and not be able to get involved in any action to take her mind off of her thoughts completely.

“But… I know you get off at seven, so I’ll wait the hour after I get off, and then I’m bringing you to the bar. And driving you home, and picking you up tomorrow for work. Meaning you are getting drunk tonight because damn girl, you need it,” he winked at her.

“Lonnie, I—” Nicole started to protest, but Lonnie cut her off.

“Oh, no you don’t, Nicole,” he used her first name so she would realize that she wasn’t going to be getting out of this one, “you are going to Shorty’s tonight, and you are getting wasted. Tomorrow we both don’t work until noon, so you have no excuse. We’re going out and you’re definitely paying, but I am driving you home—but I’m not driving you home until you are properly smashed. So you better get ready.” He stared into her eyes, not even giving up a small smile.

“Yes, Lonnie,” Nicole finally agreed, knowing that it would probably do her good and thankful that she had Lonnie as a friend to make her do something other than go home to watch Netflix on her couch with her cat and a tub of ice cream.

“This is going to be a fun night,” Lonnie winked at her, his eyes gleaming with a huge smile on his face. Nicole groaned, thinking that maybe Netflix would have been a better idea after all.

Chapter Text

“Waverly,” Shorty started, looking the young girl straight in the eyes. There were only a couple customers sitting at tables since it was around four in the afternoon on a Wednesday, so they had been restocking the bar together before the rush came later. Shorty had tapped her on the shoulder before he had begun to speak so that she would turn to face him. His look appeared almost confused, as if he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to say. The stout old man took a deep breath, mouth open as though he were about to continue his sentence, before finally closing it again, trapping all his concerns within him.

Waverly turned to face him fully and decided to make light of the situation. She set her feet shoulder width apart and placed her fists on her waist, elbows out, giving him a goofy smile.

“Shorty,” she stated in a mock serious tone, the teasing smile still playing on her lips. She loved to tease the old man, but sometimes when she looked at him she saw in his eyes all the hurt and pain he had been through, and that shot her to the core. Shorty was growing old and his face seemed so tired—tired of loss, of life, of everything. Waverly knew that look because she recognized it in the mirror, and it was a look she wouldn’t wish upon anyone, especially Shorty, one of the only people who had always been there for her no matter what. Thankfully, her own playfulness brought a half smile to his lips—it didn’t quite reach his eyes, but it was a start.

“You were saying…?” Waverly prompted after a few seconds of just standing there, looking like an idiot with Shorty rolling his eyes at her. Feeling some of his nerves coming back, the old man scratched his balding scalp and looked at Waverly tenderly.

“I know this isn’t my place, but you know you’re like a… well, I’m proud of you, Waverly. You’re a great girl and I’ve watched you grow into this amazing woman and you know you deserve the best, right?” Shorty turned red, not really one to talk about his feelings. He was more of a drink-and-forget type, but he cared about Waverly and knew she liked to talk things out. So, he was stepping out of his comfort zone a bit to try to help her see some reason.

“Shorty,” the young brunette whispered gently, knowing where this was going. She dropped her hands to her sides, giving him a sad sort of smile.

“No, Waverly. You’ve got to listen to me. You don’t have take my advice, but you’ve got to hear me out,” Shorty told her firmly, seeming to gain a bit of confidence, “You deserve to be happy. You are smart, thoughtful, kind, and a beautiful young girl. You have to stop getting in your head that you don’t deserve to be happy. Your last name isn’t all that you are. Now, I’ve watched you grow up and I’ve seen the person you’ve become. But I’ve also watched you for the past couple years put aside your happiness because you thought you didn’t deserve it. And I know you know what I’m talking about,” Shorty’s eyes bore directly into hers with an intensity and sense of fierce protection she had never quite seen in the man before, “because I can see that look on your face. Now I’m not going to tell you what to do because I’m not your—” Shorty stopped short, realizing what he was about to say. He took a deep breath in to collect himself before starting again, “Because I’m just a guy who owns a bar. I can’t tell you what you can and can’t do, who you should or shouldn’t be hanging around. But I want the best for you, Waverly. And you’ve got to know this isn’t it,” Shorty finished softly, eyes pleading with the small girl in front of him.

Waverly opened her mouth like she was about to speak and then immediately closed it. She looked up towards the ceiling for a moment and then shut her eyes tightly, taking a deep breath in. The conflicted feelings she had been having for the past few months churned in her stomach, threatening to overpower her. Deep down, she knew Shorty was right. But the one thing Waverly was terrified of, more than anything else in the world, was being alone. Even if Champ wasn’t everything she ever wanted in someone, she knew that he would never leave her. Sure, he might run around a time or two with some other girl, but no matter what, he would always be there. If Waverly left him… what if she just ended up with no one? Regardless of what Shorty said, she was an Earp, and that did mean something. It meant everything. And now here Waverly was, damaged goods, and someone like Champ actually chose to be with her—to love her. For all Champ’s faults, he loved Waverly. It was just a risk she couldn’t take.

“I can’t,” She finally whispered softly, hearing her voice crack a bit. She turned back around and squatted down to where they kept spare napkins. She didn’t even know if they actually needed more napkins at the bar, she was just looking for an excuse to do something.

“I get it. I just hope you realize it soon,” Shorty said gently, shuffling to the back room, either to get some more whiskey since they were running low up front or to just escape from the awkward situation he had found himself in. Waverly stayed squatting on the floor for a bit, holding the napkins in her hand and staring intently at them, as if at any moment they might tell her all the answers to the questions jumping around in her head. Her thoughts were everywhere and yet completely incoherent, so she didn’t even know what she was thinking anymore.

“I need a drink,” she muttered to herself, finally standing up to find a large figure leaning over the bar, having been peering down at her for who knows how long. Waverly’s heart stopped beating for a moment and she almost fell backwards while getting up from her squatting position.

“Geez, Champ, you scared the crap out of me!” Waverly cried, swatting his arm with the napkins as he leered at her with a hungry grin.

“Where’d you go last night, baby? You never came up to see me,” he winked at her.

“I was there, Champ. You were just already asleep when I finished down here and you were still asleep when I woke up in the morning,” she stated, exasperated with the situation, “Don’t you have a job?”

“’Course babe. You know that. Ever since… you know, at the farm,” Waverly’s jaw tightened, “I’ve been doing odd jobs with Johnson. He’s real flexible with the hours since he knows I’m studying for the cop test and all.”

“You’re going to do that again? Why don’t you think about a full time job, Champ?”

“Coppin’ is a full time job, Waverly,” Champ snapped at her suddenly. “You’ve gotta support me more.” He crossed his arms across his chest, pouting at her. He looked like a toddler having a temper tantrum.

“Of course, Champ,” Waverly smiled through gritted teeth, astonished that he of all people was telling her that she needed to support him more. He never really seemed to support what she was doing, always wanting her to just stay a bartender forever. And, in Waverly’s defense, Champ had failed the cop test three times already. Even if, one of these times, Champ somehow did pass, she was sure Sheriff Nedley would either fudge the results to say Champ didn’t pass or just outright not hire him anyways.

“Johnson wants me for three-thirty, so I better head out, babe,” Champ said, leaning over the bar to give Waverly a kiss. She quickly turned her head so that it ended up on her cheek, hot and wet. “See you tonight?” he winked at her.

“You know I have the closing shift again, Champ,” Waverly sighed, trying to wipe the slobber off her cheek using the sleeve of her shirt without Champ noticing. She thought about mentioning the fact that it was already four, so he wouldn’t get to Johnson's until at least 4:30, but there was really no point in doing that, so she just kept her mouth shut.

“Babe. I have needs,” Champ whined. “I will definitely see you tonight,” he stated firmly. He began to walk backwards, thrusting his hips out repeatedly while pumping his fists. Waverly turned around to walk to the back room, neglecting to warn Champ that he was going to end up thrusting backwards into a table. There was a loud crash from the front and a small “ow.” Waverly couldn’t help but let out a soft giggle. She shouted to Shorty that she was going to change quickly upstairs and dashed up to get ready before the dinner and night crowd. Even though she was tired and very confused, she knew that tonight was going to be a good night.

Chapter Text

“How exactly did you manage to drag me into doing this, again?” Nicole questioned her partner as they finally rolled into Shorty’s parking lot at around half past seven. Nicole had taken about fifteen minutes to change before they left while Lonnie complained about how girls always took so long to get ready and that was why they could never get anywhere on time. Of course, it was all in good humor as Lonnie himself had taken forty-five minutes to take a shower in the station and get himself ready before Nicole got off. Since she had taken a shower that morning and sat at her desk all day, all the redhead needed to do was change and put on a bit of makeup. Plus, she was having a great hair day, her red locks wavy and framing her face perfectly. She put on some foundation and mascara, wore an off the shoulder deep blue V-neck sweater that showed off the right strap of her black bra and lifted slightly at the center to show a bit of smooth, flat skin. She donned some tight fitting jeans that tucked into white high-top Vans, held up by a soft, brown leather belt, and called it a day.

“C’mon Haught. I didn’t drag you into anything. You wanted to do this,” Lonnie shot back at her, grinning. Nicole nervously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. It was more like you didn’t give me a choice,” she shot back playfully. Nicole really was nervous, though. She had lived in this town for a while now—five months, actually—but she hadn’t really gone out at all. Leaving her hometown had been very difficult for her, but it was something she had needed to do. There were too many painful memories holed up in that place. Ever since then, she had gone to work and the store… other than that, a few friendly dinners with Lonnie, and a couple very bad dates, Nicole just ended up watching Netflix with her cat, Calamity Jane, all day.

“Nicole,” Uh-oh. Lonnie was using her first name, and twice in one day no less. This was not good, “Just do it.” It shocked Nicole that Lonnie didn’t give her a strict talking to, but for some reason she had a sneaking suspicion that was going to come later in the night. Maybe he thought if he could get a few drinks in her, she would be more up for the listening part of things. Lonnie was probably right. Even though they had only known each other for a few months, he really seemed to understand the ginger cop, and that was something she really appreciated. She never really expressed that in so many words, but she hoped he knew.

“Alright, Haught. We’re going in now,” he warned her with a mischievous grin, opening the door to his truck and jumping down. Nicole nervously mussed her hair so it would appear slightly more disheveled, a look she knew she wore well. Taking a deep breath, she too hopped out of the truck and made her way to the bar’s entrance, Lonnie leading the way by a few steps.

When they walked in, the bar was surprisingly quiet. There were a few people playing pool, some around tables, and about five sitting at the bar.

“This is the rush?” Nicole asked, eyebrows raised. Lonnie had complained that they were going to get caught in the middle of the rush and wouldn’t be able to get good bar seats because Nicole was taking so long getting ready.

“Okay, well, not quite,” Lonnie said, looking like he had been caught in a lie. Which, apparently, he had. “It’s Wednesday, which is the slow day, for starters. Monday and Tuesday people get real upset it ain’t the weekend anymore, so they come here to drink it off. Thursday, it’s basically the weekend, so people start celebrating. Friday and Saturday it gets crazy here. Sunday is when all the non-church folk come to drink away their sins in their own house of worship. So, we’re here on the slowest day. It is going to get a little bit busier in about an hour, but not much. I just wanted you to hurry up, truth be told. But it is almost the Wednesday rush, so I wasn’t lying exactly,” he gave her his famous lopsided smile, so of course she had to forgive him. But maybe not too easily.

“For that lie, you’re buying my first round at least,” Nicole bartered.

“Fine. I guess I deserve that,” Lonnie rolled his eyes.

Nicole and Lonnie sat down in a couple of seats at the bar, waiting for the barkeep to take their order.

“Be right with you,” the older man said gruffly, looking up from the couple he was helping at the moment. Turning away from them he shouted a name towards the direction of the backroom that Nicole and Lonnie weren’t quite able to make out.

“Coming!” shouted back a woman’s voice. The voice was sweet and had an almost melodious aspect to it.

“Couple people wanting drinks on the far end,” the man jerked his head towards where Lonnie and Nicole sat waiting, patiently.

“Okie-dokie!” The woman responded cheerfully, finally turning the corner and coming into view from the back room.

“Oh…” Nicole let out a soft gasp, her lips suddenly drying out as she took in this woman’s beautiful form. Brunette hair fell in cascades down her back, the top half of her hair was pulled back and held with a clip. She had stunning hazel eyes that seemed to sparkle in the dim light of the bar. She wore high-waist shorts and a low-cut white shirt that was patterned with small purple flowers. The shirt had no sleeves, showing off her beautiful, tanned arms with a few, mostly decorative, buttons near the top. The topmost button, however, was undone, allowing more cleavage to show than was already and a part of her nude, lace bra. She was short, but her body was well-toned and her skin looked so incredibly soft. This woman was easily the most gorgeous Nicole had seen in her entire life.

A sharp jab to the ribs by Lonnie quickly brought Nicole back to reality.

“Hey there, you guys, what can I get for you?” the brunette said with a dashing smile, eyes lingering on Nicole for a second longer than normal. Nicole felt her heart pounding in her chest; she swallowed and licked her dry lips, trying to get ready to speak. Seeing the look on her face, Lonnie stepped in, but not before throwing her a sly, knowing smile.

“Well, you see here, miss…?”

“Waverly,” she answered him while still smiling at Nicole, who managed to regain her composure enough to flash her a dimpled smile back. The brunette caught her bottom lip between her teeth lightly, blushing slightly and looking back at Lonnie.

“Right, Waverly, well, my partner here—Nicole—has been having a rough go of it. She’s new in town, been through a couple nasty breakups, and her partner is just such a better cop than she is, so I said I’d bring her here to show her a good time. So if you have anything special, pour her a shot and keep ‘em coming, please,” Lonnie threw Waverly a friendly wink.

“I actually think I have something perfect in the back,” Waverly said with a smile, stealing another glance at Nicole and making her way to the back room.

Once she was out of sight, Lonnie turned to Nicole with a stupid grin on his face. “Haught. Wow. You… I have never seen you like that. You didn’t even say anything about my being a better cop than you comment,” he stared at her incredulously. “You couldn’t talk. You were just staring at her like a deer in headlights. And hey, if it makes it any better, she was staring back. Though it’s fifty-fifty on whether she liked you too or you were just creeping her out.” That comment warranted a punch on the shoulder from Nicole as her face burned red with embarrassment. “Ow! Well, that’s the Haught I know. I like the other one better though. Less punchy,” he smirked at her.

“Shut up, Leonard.”

“We talked about this! No calling me Leonard unless you’re my grandma!”

“Fine. But I will get you back,” Nicole promised. Just then, Waverly returned from the back holding a bottle of Jameson’s Whisky.

“This bottle is thirty bucks, so it’s the most high-end one we have,” Waverly gave Nicole a wink as she set the bottle down on the bar; Nicole’s heart seemed to fly into her throat and begin to beat rapidly. Waverly also grabbed a shaker filled with ice, a shot glass, peach schnapps, sweet and sour mix, and Sprite, placing those on the bar top as well.

“Now, correct me if I’m wrong, officer, but you don’t seem like the type to drink alcohol for the taste,” Waverly smiled at her knowingly.

“You’re not wrong,” Nicole managed to reply while licking the lips that somehow managed to remain dry, even through consistent rewetting.

“But, what if we tried something that tastes good? How do you feel about green tea?”

“I prefer mint, but I still love it. I always like to have a cup of tea before bed, in any case.” Dammit, she was over-sharing again. Why did she always have to ramble like this around cute girls?

“Me, too, actually. I love curling up with a cup of tea and a good book before bed. Helps to ease the stress of the day, you know?” Waverly managed to still look at her for almost the whole time while pouring the ingredients for three shots into the mixer. In a separate cup, she poured some of the Sprite over some ice. “Driver?” Waverly asked Lonnie, eyebrow raised. When he responded yes, she handed him the glass, saying, “On the house,” and immediately turned her attention back to the mixer she was now shaking in her strong arms and Nicole.

“I absolutely love reading as well! I’d ask you your favorite book, but I hate when people ask me that. There’s just too many to pick from! So instead, I’ll ask what you’re reading now,” Nicole tried not to get distracted by the movement of Waverly’s arm muscles as she shook the mixer expertly.

“Right now, I’m actually reading The Book Thief for about the fourth time. And I completely understand what you mean. I have a hard time making a top ten list!” Waverly laughed lightly, a sound like wind chimes in a forest—a soft, muffled trill. She poured a shot and handed it to Nicole. “Now, if I can do my job right, that should taste like green tea.”

“Bottoms up!” Nicole exclaimed, taking the shot while regretting her decision to shout that idiotic phrase. Wow, she was making an ass of herself. The shot was surprisingly good, though… really good. “Damn, Waves,” Nicole quickly looked up, wondering if it was okay to call her that. She was given a reassuring smile, so she assumed it was, at least this time. Nicole would try to keep it to actual names, until she knew her better if nothing else, “that was so good. It actually tasted like green tea!”

“So I can do my job!” Her face broke out into a smile so wide, Nicole thought it might reach around the room.

“Yes, you can,” Nicole agreed, holding out her shot glass so the attractive bartender could pour another in.

“I think your friend found some people he knows over there,” Waverly mentioned, jerking her head towards the pool table where Lonnie was now sipping his soda and chatting with the players. Funny, Nicole hadn’t even noticed him get up. She supposed she was too caught up in Waverly to pay attention to him. For a moment, she felt a pang of guilt, but the warmth of the alcohol and the brunette’s presence quickly replaced it.

“Damn it. He was the only person I knew here,” Nicole grumbled. She realized she hadn’t been paying attention to him, but it was only about five minutes. What would happen when the gorgeous girl had to leave to help other customers?

“Well, it is a Wednesday. It’s pretty slow, so I think Shorty can more or less handle it if you want someone to keep you company,” Waverly looked down nervously, her cheeks turning slightly red. She looked up through her eyelashes expectantly, biting her lip while smiling.

“No—I mean, if you don’t want to it’s fine, if you do it’s okay, too, I mean you’re nice to talk to so I wouldn’t mind at all, unless you’re busy,” Nicole forced herself to stop talking. She was such a lightweight, she could already feel the alcohol tingling in her veins, flushing her face and shutting off the filter between her brain and her mouth.

“Of course I want to talk to you. Plus, it’s my job,” Waverly winked at Nicole, sending the redhead’s heart fluttering wildly out of control. Downing the shot the bartender had just poured, Nicole looked up at the beautiful face in front of her, smiling, wondering how she got so lucky as having the most gorgeous woman in the whole world want to spend the night talking to her. She beamed at Waverly, deciding to take a chance.

“So, The Book Thief, huh?”

Chapter Text

Just as she was beginning to do inventory of the whiskeys, Waverly heard Shorty shout her name from the bar. Sighing, she looked down at the clipboard in her hand. She had inventoried everything except for the whiskey. Though she should have been happy to be getting ahead, she had to admit she felt a little disappointed that she would be getting out early tonight. Waverly just needed to get into a better headspace and stop dreading spending time with Champ; she didn’t know what was going on with her. She should be happy. She needed to try to be happy.

“Coming!” she called back.

“Couple people wanting drinks on the far end,” Shorty jerked his head towards the far end of the table, around the corner from where Waverly was standing so she couldn’t see them yet.

“Okie-dokie!” Waverly smiled, thankful for the distraction from inventory and her thoughts. Maybe she could push off the rest of inventory and cleaning if it got busy enough. Or, maybe she should go upstairs early, give Champ what he wanted. Closing her eyes briefly to clear her head, she readjusted her smile as she turned the corner and saw the two Shorty was referring to. For a moment, her heart caught in her chest, but she quickly regained her composure, hopefully before the two noticed.

The man was good looking enough with well-defined biceps stretching his grey t-shirt along with piercing blue eyes, but other than that, he was really just like anyone else. The woman seated next to him though… she was absolutely gorgeous. Her red, wavy hair framed her face perfectly. Her deep blue sweater cut to a V while hanging off one shoulder, showing off a black bra strap, creamy skin, and a fair amount of cleavage. She had soft, brown eyes that seemed to see straight through to Waverly’s soul, causing Waverly’s heart, previous stopped, to restart in her throat at three times its normal speed.

“Hey there, you guys, what can I get for you?” she asked, hoping her voice sounded normal. She tore her eyes away from the gorgeous woman and peered over at the man, for some reason hoping he wasn’t her boyfriend. It made no sense… she herself had a boyfriend and as far as she knew, she was straight. Although her heart rate and desire to just continually stare at this woman were suddenly making her question that a bit.

“Well, you see here, miss…?” The man started.

“Waverly,” she answered him, having turned to smile at the ginger who effortlessly flashed her a dimpled smile. Waverly felt a heat rush to her face as her mouth suddenly went dry, so she turned back to the man in case the woman noticed something.

“Right, Waverly, well, my partner here—Nicole—has been having a rough go of it. She’s new in town, been through a couple nasty breakups, and her partner is just such a better cop than she is, so I said I’d bring her here to show her a good time. So if you have anything special, pour her a shot and keep ‘em coming, please,” he gave her a friendly wink. So, no boyfriend. That was a start. A start that still didn’t mean anything, Waverly reminded herself.

“I actually think I have something perfect in the back,” Waverly said with a smile, stealing another glance at the ginger—Nicole—and making her way to the back room. For some reason, she started getting nervous. She had an idea of what to make the woman and Waverly was really hoping she would like it. She felt her cheeks burning with embarrassment, nervousness, and anticipation; she hadn’t felt this way around someone in… she had never felt quite this way around someone before, actually. Waverly had no idea what was happening to her. Sighing, she grabbed a bottle of Jameson’s Whisky and made her way back to the two. As she was on the way back, she felt her phone buzz in her back pocket. Looking quickly, she noticed it was Champ, letting her know that he wasn’t going to back for the night; he said he was going to be at a friend’s house, which Waverly knew just meant he had found some girl to hook with. Waverly probably deserved it. She hadn’t been doing anything to help him with his…needs for months. Now, she was planning to go back and try to flirt with a beautiful girl, which was… confusing. Because now Waverly was starting to question her sexuality, even though she had no idea if this woman was into girls. Even if she was, she probably wouldn’t be into someone like Waverly. Someone who was an Earp. Either way, she knew it was going to be an interesting night, if nothing more, and Waverly couldn’t help but to be excited to watch it unfurl.

* * * * * *

They spent the rest of the night talking about books, TV shows, work… everything and anything. The conversation flowed so naturally that Waverly didn’t even notice as the hours passed. The ginger was obviously getting drunker and drunker, which amused Waverly to no end. Especially since as Nicole got drunker, she got more and more touchy. But it was in a different way than the drunk men at the bar touched… it was in a way Waverly didn’t seem to mind. Welcomed, even. At first, it started with Nicole’s hand grazing lightly against Waverly’s when reaching for her shot, sending bolts of electricity flying through her body. Then, she left her hand leaning against Waverly’s until the brunette wasn’t able to think straight. After that, while she was laughing at something Waverly had said, she threw her head back, eyes lit up and dimple on her cheek looking adorable, and placed her hand on Waverly’s. Much to Waverly’s delight, Nicole left her hand there too, even though Waverly was losing the ability to breath. She found herself having to fight the sudden urge to lean over the bar and catch the ginger’s full, red lips in her own. Nicole was gorgeous, easy to talk to, and adorable when drunk. Her face was flushed, her pupils full and dark. She was constantly smiling, starting to slur her words, and was now running delicate fingers over the skin on Waverly’s hand. Waverly closed her eyes for a moment, focusing on the sensation of soft skin against hers, biting her lip to hold back a soft moan.

“Nicole,” the man who was with her before stood behind them, hand on her shoulder, with a knowing smile. Waverly quickly opened her eyes, blushing a bit, but not wanting to pull her hand away. The ginger was staring at her with a sly, mischievous smile, apparently aware of the effect she was having on Waverly, which only deepened the blush on her face, “Ready to head out?” Nicole turned around, taking her hand off of Waverly’s, who felt her heart drop as the ginger’s fingers left her skin.

“Lonnie… five more minutes?” Nicole begged, leaning up against him. Waverly couldn’t see the look that Nicole was giving him, but she could tell that Lonnie wanted to go home.

“You know, it’s my fault I got her this drunk,” Waverly started, not fully thinking about what she was saying, “So, if you want, and if it’s okay with Nicole, I could bring her home tonight,” she said, quickly kicking herself. That was too much, too far—what was she thinking? This gorgeous girl was going to think that she was crazy.

“Nicole?” Lonnie asked.

“Yes. I mean… sure. Yeah, that’s fine,” Nicole said quickly, looking back to Waverly, “Thank you,” she looked up at her through her eyelashes.

“Of course,” Waverly responded, “We’re almost closed, but you can stay while I finish cleaning up and then I’ll bring you home,” she smiled at her.

* * * * * *

Over the next hour, Waverly and Nicole continued talking, joking, and flirting. Waverly continued pouring shots for the officer, who had already been drunk to begin with. Eventually, the bar was being closed up for the night and Shorty decided to finish inventory while Waverly washed the bar top and glasses.

“Alright, I’m all set for the night, Waverly. Are you okay if I leave you too here alone?” he raised an eyebrow with a sly smile, causing the short girl to blush even more than she already was. What was she even doing? Obviously Shorty thought something was going on here, but they had only known each other for a few hours and Waverly had a boyfriend. Plus, Nicole was just probably one of those straight girls that got very flirty and touchy when drunk. It didn’t mean anything. It was just a harmless night of flirtation that would hopefully lead to a friendship, and Waverly didn’t expect anything more. She couldn’t expect anything more.

“All good, Shorty. Thank you,” Waverly bit her lip and smiled, feeling as though she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t, but also not really caring. As Shorty left out the back, Waverly began cleaning the nozzles to the on tap beer, sneaking a glance or two at Nicole, who was smiling sleepily with her eyes half closed.

“You’re so pretty,” Waverly thought she heard Nicole mumble, which startled her, causing her to accidentally pull on the nozzle which sprayed all over her shirt.

“Jesus Christ! Perfect,” Waverly shouted, quickly shutting the nozzle and trying to wipe herself with the rag.

“Didn’t know Shorty’s had wet t-shirt competitions,” Nicole was now staring at her, eyes no longer half-closed but voice still slurring thickly, “You okay?”

“Yeah, I just got a little distracted. Sorry. It was a crazy night,” she winked at Nicole, trying to pass off her embarrassment as confidence.

“Sorry I wasn’t here to see it,” Nicole said sarcastically, winking back—or trying to at least. Waverly could tell the ginger was having a hard time with muscle movements obeying her brain. Waverly smiled and looked down at her shirt, which was soaking wet. She tried to wipe herself with the rag a bit more, but it wasn’t helping much and only pulling her shirt down to expose her lace, nude colored bra.

“Do you mind just, uhh…” Waverly covered her eyes with her hands, modeling what she was asking Nicole to do so she would be able to switch to the spare shirt she kept under the bar.

“Oh, yeah, of course,” Nicole blinked and smiled, turning around cautiously so she wouldn’t accidentally fall off the seat—her balance wasn't quite there at the moment. Waverly started to peel off her shirt, but between the wetness of the fabric and her long hair, it somehow managed to get stuck so that her hands were held above her head by the shirt. Struggling, embarrassed, and left with no other choice, Waverly realized she was going to have to ask the beautiful ginger to help undress her.

“Um… Officer? I’m stuck.”

“Ah, so now I’m ‘Officer,’” Nicole said slyly, “Of course I’ll help you.” Stumbling a bit, she used the bar to hold herself up as she made her way around the counter. Finally seeing her lower half as it was no longer obstructed by the bar, Waverly could not help but notice the flat skin of Nicole’s stomach from under the blue shirt that rode up in the front. The tight jeans fit her muscular legs perfectly and her ass… damn. As Nicole came around the bar, Waverly finally peeled her gaze from the ginger’s firm butt. Nicole quickly helped Waverly peel the shirt the rest of the way off, putting it on the bar top, and they stood there for a short moment, staring at each other.

“Good thing you’re not some guy, right, because this would be really, really awkward…” Waverly’s breath caught in her throat as the ginger looked deep into her eyes.

“Yeah,” Nicole said softly as Waverly held the rag over her bra self-consciously. Waverly suddenly felt a bolt of desire course through her body as she stood, half-naked, in front of this gorgeous woman who was looking at her kindly, but also with something Waverly couldn’t quite identify. Could it be… also desire? No. That was crazy. Leaning down, she picked up the t-shirt she kept under the bar and put it on quickly.

“Thank you, Officer,” Waverly said with a flirty smile.

“Haught. Officer Haught,” Nicole responded weakly, leaning up against the bar. Of course her name was Haught. Of course. Just then, Waverly realized that Nicole was sliding down the side of the bar, making her way to the floor.

“Nicole!” She said, putting her arms around the ginger’s waist to try to keep her up. It didn’t really work, so Waverly ended up guiding her to the ground, where they ended up with their faces very close to one another. Waverly heard Nicole’s breathing pick up slightly as the ginger seemed to be staring at her lips. She breathed in Nicole’s scent… vanilla, leather, and something else she couldn’t quite place. The smell was intoxicating and caused Waverly’s mouth to go dry. She found herself slowly leaning forward, her head moving towards the ginger’s as if drawn in by some invisible force. Realizing if she didn’t move now, she would end up kissing a very drunk girl, Waverly gulped and moved her head away so that she was sitting against the bar next to Nicole, her heart beating wildly in her chest.

“I’m just… gonna… take a little nap… just for a second,” Nicole leaned over to lay on the floor.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Waverly pulled the ginger back up to a sitting position, “Okay, you’re going to stay here tonight, because I don’t know if you can tell me where you live right now, and I kind of also just want to make sure you’re okay tonight,” the brunette said gently. Nicole nodded, eyes still closed. Her mouth was slightly open, her face flushed. She was absolutely stunning. “Okay, we’re going to stand up now,” Waverly guided Nicole onto her feet, holding one of Nicole’s hands over her shoulder, grasping her strong, smooth waist with the other. Due to the cut of her shirt, Waverly’s hand managed to grasp the bare skin underneath Nicole’s shirt. It was so soft… Waverly shook her head slightly to get rid of the idea of running her fingers along Nicole’s side.

“Okay, up the stairs now,” Waverly guided the girl with unsure footing up.

“Why are stairs real? They shouldn’t be real. My legs are so heavy. Are legs always heavy? Do you normally feel legs?” Nicole started mumbling her stream of consciousness as Waverly laughed gently. Finally getting to the second floor, Waverly led her over to the bed. Laying her down gently, Nicole immediately curled up, sighing contently, “I love beds. Beds are the best. Everything should be a bed.”

“Is it okay if I help you take off your shoes?” Waverly asked. Nicole nodded, still keeping her eyes closed. Slowly, Waverly began untying the laces on Nicole’s sneakers, gently pulling them off her feet and placing them on the floor beside the bed with the socks inside. She grabbed a blanket and threw it over the girl, who now looked like she was sleeping, knowing it would be easier and better than trying to get her under the covers. She took off her shorts, shoes, and socks, so she was just wearing the t-shirt and purple boy-shorts. Crawling into bed next to Nicole, Waverly curled up as well, staring at the ginger. This was crazy. She had just met this girl a few hours ago, and now she was sleeping in her bed. Anyone else would have been fine… but Nicole affected her in ways Waverly didn’t know she could. For some reason, she felt guilty for having her in her bed. In her and Champ’s bed. But nothing was happening, and there was no reason to feel guilty. Plus, the attraction was definitely one-sided. Gently, Waverly swept a strand of red hair out of Nicole’s face and tucked it behind her ear. Then, closing her eyes, Waverly slowed her breathing until she was on the edge of sleep.

“You’re so pretty,” Waverly swore she heard Nicole whisper before she began snoring softly, adorably.

Chapter Text

Nicole slowly felt herself waking up, pulling her consciousness out of the groggy state of sleep. She kept her eyes closed, feeling content in the in-between state she found herself in. Her other senses began to reawaken. The scent in the air was unfamiliar and yet so pleasant. It was sweet, but not in a sickly-sweet way… it was soft, subtle. Everything around her was silent, except for shallow breathing in front her. She was curled up on her side, under a soft blanket, arms hugging a small figure close to her. The intoxicating smell was coming from the hair she had her face buried in. One arm was wrapped around a petite waist, a body pressed tightly against Nicole, fitting hers perfectly. Smiling softly, she felt a tingle in her lower abdomen as all of her senses fully awoke, becoming aware of her nipples pressed against the soft flesh of the girl’s back, her crotch against a tight, firm butt.

Just then, Nicole put together all information from her senses. Waking up fully, her eyes shot open and she jerked out of the bed. The girl next to her groaned and her eyelids fluttered open. It was Waverly, the absolutely stunning bartender from the night before. They had been talking about books, TV, jobs… everything… and then… and then what? What had happened next? Nicole held her head in her hands, groaning at the effort of trying to remember as her head pounded and spun.

“What happened? Where am I? Did we…” Nicole’s eyes grew wide as she stared at Waverly, motioning between the two of them. Now fully awake, Waverly knelt on the bed, putting a reassuring hand on Nicole’s knee, sending electricity straight up her leg to her groin.

“No, no of course not,” Waverly said with a look that Nicole couldn’t quite read. Had she done something last night? Had she made an unwanted move? Had she gone too far? The memories of the night before were blurred in her mind so she couldn’t quite make out the events. She remembered taking off Waverly’s shirt for some reason… what had she done? She actually really enjoyed talking to Waverly and she had felt things when she was with her that she wasn’t sure if she had ever felt before, or if it had just been a really long time. But these feelings sure did feel new. Nicole hoped she hadn’t done something to mess it all up.

“You’re in my apartment. You stayed last night because you were too drunk to tell me where you lived, which was totally my fault, so it’s fine,” Waverly’s smile reached her gorgeous hazel eyes. Nicole finally looked at the girl next to her, who had shifted position so she was sitting cross-legged next to Nicole, one knee touching hers. Waverly was looking stunning with disheveled hair and a sleepy smile. She wore a loose fitting t-shirt and purple boy-shorts, her long, fit legs shown off. Nicole’s breath caught as her eyes traveled up Waverly’s calves to her strong thighs… but Waverly seemed to notice the look and quickly pulled her shirt over the top part of her thighs self-consciously, before Nicole could finish her scan. Though she thought she saw something on the brunette’s thighs… no, it must have just been the shadows and a trick of the light. Blushing, ashamed at being caught ogling the girl, Nicole decided to continue the conversation.

“What about Lonnie?”

“The other cop? He wanted to leave but you didn’t, so I said I’d bring you home. Which didn’t turn out too well,” she gave her a lopsided smile.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Nicole felt the dread in her stomach churning over.

“Oh, no, Nicole. It’s fine. Really. I had a great time last night. Besides, my boyfriend wasn’t here so it worked out perfectly,” Nicole noticed a slight grimace when Waverly said this, but didn’t pay too much attention to it as the dread that had been churning in her stomach turned to her heart dropping out of her chest. It didn’t matter. She had only known Waverly for a few hours and she had been a mess during that time. Even if she had been single, she was still probably straight, and even if not, she would never be interested in Nicole after whatever happened last night.

“Nicole,” Waverly placed her hand lightly on the ginger’s jaw and turned her face gently to face her, “Trust me. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. We had some great conversations, I offered to drive you home because we both wanted to continue talking, but I gave you a few too many shots so I told you that you were sleeping here. If anything, I’m sorry if I overstepped and made you feel uncomfortable. I should have slept on the couch, I was just really tired and not thinking,” Waverly explained, her hand having dropped to Nicole’s thigh. It was very difficult to fully focus on Waverly’s words when her hand was right there, but Nicole tried her best. Swallowing, she looked up and nodded weakly, still embarrassed at the situation.

“All right,” Waverly said cheerily, smiling goofily and dropping the serious tone she had just held. But Nicole noticed there was something off in how happy it was. It looked forced almost, like the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. She jumped up from the bed quickly and Nicole felt the weight lift off her thigh disappointingly. “Breakfast?”

“Um, sure, I guess. I mean, if that’s okay,” Nicole smiled shyly at her.

“Of course! Well, if you want to brush your teeth there’s an extra toothbrush under the sink, and I’ll just get dressed real quick in here.”

“Sounds good, thank you so much,” Nicole couldn’t believe how sweet this girl was. She realized that she had a huge crush on this girl already and if Waverly kept being herself like this, it wasn’t going to go away any time soon. She was in trouble.

After a few minutes getting ready in the bathroom and generally cleaning herself up so it didn’t appear as though she had slept in her clothes, Nicole exited the bathroom to find Waverly in a short jean skirt, showing off her fit legs, with a blue and red Shorty’s crop top exposing taunt, pale skin where Nicole was convinced she saw abs. Waverly’s long hair was braided down her back and Nicole could swear that she was looking at a goddess. Even better, her smile now seemed to light up her whole face and the brunette didn’t appear to be faking her happiness anymore.

“All ready?” Waverly asked, flashing Nicole a smile.

“Y—yeah. Yes. Indeed,” Nicole stammered. She felt her cheeks grow hot as she realized how stupid she sounded, not even being able to agree simply.

“Alrighty, then. Ever been to the diner down the street?”

“Does this diner down the street have a name?”

“I’m sure it does. Clooney’s? Clootie’s? Something like that. I just always call it the diner down the street,” Waverly shrugged.

“I’m not sure I have, but I’d love to try it,” Nicole flashed the short girl a dimpled smile, beginning to finally feel comfortable again. Waverly made it so easy—everything was just natural with them. Sure, the breathing and thinking thing could be difficult around her, but other than that, they were able to keep a light, flirty conversation, both for hours last night and after this extremely awkward morning. If it were anyone else, Nicole would have turned down breakfast, being too embarrassed to see the person in the morning. But Waverly made her feel like there was nothing at all to be embarrassed about and considering what happened last night, which was no small feat. Following Waverly out of her apartment and down the stairs, Nicole started feeling something that might have been hope. Stupid, reckless hope, but hope nonetheless.

* * * * * *

During the breakfast, they talked more about their interests and other unimportant things. But to Nicole, everything Waverly said was important. Every small detail, the ginger hung on to her every word. The way her eyes lit up when she talked about something she loved, the crinkle in her forehead when they were discussing the things that bothered her. The conversation was fun, easy, captivating. Halfway through the meal, Waverly’s legs stretched out and rested against Nicole’s, sending shivers all the way through her body. Throughout the meal, she caught little bits from what Waverly said about her boyfriend and the way she said them. He did not seem as though he treated her well and, if she was reading in between the lines correctly, he wasn’t at their apartment the night before because he was hooking up with another girl. She wasn’t sure that was what happened, but even the possibility set a fire of rage burning in Nicole’s stomach thinking that anyone could treat Waverly as anything less than she deserved. And that girl deserved the world. There was not a cruel bone in the brunette’s body, nothing at all mean or insensitive or anything. Nicole swore Waverly was the most sincere and wonderful person she had ever met.

Waverly drove Nicole to her apartment and waited for her on her couch, petting a purring and very content Calamity Jane. Nicole quickly took a shower and changed into her uniform, which she would have sworn drew a gasp and gulp from Waverly as she walked down the stairs, straightening the thin, black tie. However, she knew how she was already starting to feel about this girl, so it was probably just her imagination and what she wanted to happen more so than reality itself.

“Thank you, Waverly, for everything,” Nicole said on their way to the station. It was already 11:45, so it was perfect timing for the start of her shift.

“Of course,” Waverly looked sideways at the redhead with a smile, “I’ve had a really good time. Better than I’ve had in a long time, honestly. I mean… it’s really easy to talk to you and it’s hard for me to find that because…” Waverly swallowed and took a deep breath, “You know it’s just hard to find people to trust. I know it’s weird because it’s only been less than a day but I just… I feel like I can talk to you. Like maybe I could trust you,” A shadow suddenly passed over the brunette’s face. “I’m so sorry. That was too much. That was… I’m so sorry. I’m just word vomiting. And continuing to. If I wasn’t driving I’d probably jump out of the car right now,” Waverly blushed.

“Waverly,” Nicole put a hand on her thigh reassuringly, “I know what you’re saying. I feel the same,” Waverly visibly relaxed under her touch and at her words, which made Nicole feel such elation, she couldn’t even describe the feeling. To think that she could help Waverly to relax, to feel any less pain, made her feel like she’d done something important that day. This girl was so kind and deserved to be happy, to not feel uncomfortable, especially when all Waverly was saying were the things that Nicole had been thinking all along.

Nicole still had her hand resting lightly on Waverly’s thigh when they pulled into the station. Nicole didn’t want to have to leave, but she knew her shift was starting in a couple minutes so she really had no choice.

“So, I’ll see you around?” Waverly asked. “I mean… do you maybe… if you want…”

“My number is already on a napkin in the cup holder,” Nicole nodded toward the space between them while making her way out of the jeep. Once she stepped out, she placed the Stetson over her wavy red hair and, thumb in a loop of her utility belt, winked at Waverly, “Text me,” she flashed her a dimpled smile, shutting the door to the jeep and trying to walk as confidently as possible into the station. Maybe a wink was too much for a girl with a boyfriend, but she needed to look like it was nothing, because then it wouldn't be weird. Right?

As much as she may have wanted to, Nicole did not look back as she walked towards the station. Well, when she got to the door, she did look back once. Waverly was still sitting there in her idling jeep, staring at Nicole with a huge grin on her face. Thankful it didn’t appear as though Waverly thought the wink was too much, the redhead gave a small wave, which was quickly returned, and then made her way into the building.

“So,” Lonnie looked at her with a knowing smile, “If I didn’t drive you here, and your car has been here the whole time, how exactly is it that you managed to get to your shift?” he teased.

“Lonnie,” Nicole said, placing her palms on the desk and gripping the edge, “I’m in trouble.”

Chapter Text

Once Waverly got back to Shorty’s, she tried to make her way up the stairs, her legs feeling heavy. Everything that had happened over the past eighteen or so hours played back in her head, slowly through the most cringe-worthy parts of the night. Some of the things Waverly had said… what was she thinking? What was she doing? Her head spun quickly out of control.

Her own words resounded in her head, pounding against her cranium.

“No, no of course not.” What did she mean of course not when Nicole asked in vague terms if they had done anything? On one hand, Waverly had a boyfriend, so of course they hadn’t hooked up, but on the other, she felt some sort of guilt or general distaste for having said it that way. Almost as though she was hurting the other girl. But she knew Nicole didn’t actually care, so why did Waverly?

“My boyfriend wasn’t here….” Again, why did Waverly feel weird about having said that? Was there a part of her that didn’t want Nicole to know she had a boyfriend? Was there a part of her that wanted to lie and cheat? She felt the pounding in her head tighten behind her eyes, tears threatening to surface as a result of Waverly’s self-disgust.

“I feel like I can talk to you. Like maybe I could trust you.” What had she even been saying? She had known Nicole for less than a day, and she was already telling her she could trust her. This wonderful, kind, gorgeous woman probably thought she was crazy. Which Waverly was.

Waverly curled up against the wall of her bedroom, her knees pulled up to her chest. Sobs wracked her body as her chest heaved and she knew she couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She was scared. Her mind was turning against her again and she had been managing decently for so long. Waverly hadn’t been happy by any means, but she hadn’t been bad. And today? Today had been such a wonderful day so far. At least, while it was happening Waverly had found it wonderful. For the first time in a long time, Waverly had actually felt happy for a while. Of course her brain would try to turn that against her now. She always overthought and ruined everything. That was just the way things happened, every single time. Waverly took a situation that didn’t mean anything and gave too much meaning to it. Far too much.

Still, her thoughts slammed against her head continuously, loudly. You’re stupid. You’re not happy now, you’ll never be happy. You have a boyfriend that actually cares about you for some reason and you treat him like shit. You refuse to give him the sex he deserves for putting up with you and instead are trying to get in the pants of a probably straight girl who thinks you’re crazy? You made her sleep in the same bed as you last night while she was too drunk to know what was happening. You’re just an attention-seeking whore. Did you see the look on her face when she thought something might have happened? Disgust. You’re disgusting. You don’t deserve Champ or her or anyone. You’re worthless and stupid and ugly.

“No…” Waverly sobbed, pressing her face against her knees. Why was she doing this again? She ached to punish herself, to give herself what she deserved, to hurt herself like she hurt others. It had been months, and yet the urge came back stronger than ever so she didn’t think she’d be able to fight it.

For some reason, Waverly found herself wanting Nicole. She wanted her there with her, to hold her. She wanted to lean against the ginger deputy, to feel her strong arms wrapped around her. To feel secure, have Nicole protecting her, being with her. She wanted to breathe in her calming scent and know that everything was going to be okay. But again… why did she want Nicole? Why didn’t she want her boyfriend? She was insane and clingy and Nicole didn’t want to be around her. Plus, Nicole had been looking at her legs this morning, staring at them, meaning that she saw the scars and was judging her for them.

The thoughts came back, louder than ever, until Waverly needed to do something about them. She stood up and made her way over to her dresser drawer, rummaging around until she found them. Her body still shaking, tears streaming down her face, she pulled up her skirt and ran her fingers over the scars on her upper thighs and hipbones. She needed to do this because she was worthless. She needed to do this to drown out the words in her head. She needed to do this because she deserved it.

Running the blade over in her fingers, she made slow, deliberate movements across her thigh. Watching the blood pool at the top of her skin, she felt an ease wash over her as she knew, this was what she deserved.

Chapter Text

Later that night, just as Nicole was finishing up her shift, she received a text from Waverly.

Waverly: Hey there! I don’t know if you remember it at all, but I really enjoyed talking to you last night! :P

Nicole’s face lit up. Waverly was so adorable… obviously she was just being friendly, but it still made Nicole’s heart skip a few beats and bite her lip to try to keep the smile down.

Nicole: Things from last night are a little blurry, I’ll give you that, but they are coming back a bit. I do remember having some great conversations this morning, though.

She recalled thinking she might have told Waverly she was really pretty, but she hoped that was actually just what she had wanted to say or else she was too drunk for Waverly to understand.

Waverly: Now that you mention it, I might remember something about that…

Nicole: Maybe we could hang out some more?

Waverly: That would be awesome! It’s so nice to have a friend to talk to. Maybe you can come to Shorty’s on your lunch break tomorrow and I’ll take mine then as well?

‘Friend.’ Nicole knew that was all this was, but for some reason, the word had some bite to it. Seeing it stung a bit, but she knew she was going to have to get used to it. That’s all they were and all they would ever be.

Nicole: That sounds perfect!

Waverly: I’ll see you there, Officer ☺

Nicole rolled her eyes, smiling. Finally ready to leave the office, she went home, knowing she probably wouldn’t be able to get any sleep now with her newly made plans for tomorrow.

* * * * * *

One week later

Nicole and Waverly had been meeting up almost everyday for lunch or coffee. This morning, they were getting coffee at the diner down the road from Waverly’s apartment.

“You’re telling me you think I’m a Gryffindor?” Waverly looked at Nicole incredulously. The redhead just responded by nodding sheepishly and taking another sip of her cappuccino. “But I am such a Ravenclaw!”

“I mean I can see that… but… I don’t know. I just get a Gryffindor vibe off you,” the deputy shrugged.

“No… no way. You, on the other hand, total Gryffindor. Same with Wynonna, but my other sister was definitely a Slytherin. Probably could have been sorted into Gryffindor incorrectly, though,” Waverly said, bringing a vanilla dipped donut up to her mouth, but then seeming to realize what she had said, she put it down immediately. Nicole noticed her face had gone white and her eyes slightly glazed over. Reaching over the table, she placed a hand softly over Waverly’s and tried to give her the most comforting smile she could.

“Hey, it’s okay. We're just talking about Harry Potter.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Sorry,” Waverly took her hand out from under Nicole’s, who immediately retracted hers back across the table, worrying she had gone too far, “I’m such a Ravenclaw, it’s not even funny,” she plastered a very fake smile on her face. Fortunately though, after only a few minutes, Nicole could tell she had made that smile real again as Waverly laughed and chatted along, seeming to have forgotten the whole incident.

* * * * * *

Two weeks after the first meeting

“Hey there, Officer.”

Nicole looked up in surprise to see a gorgeous brunette with long waves in tight fitting pants, black boots, and a white frilly crop top showing just enough midriff on the other side of the counter, holding a cup of what looked like was probably coffee in her hand.

“Waverly! Hi! What’s up,” Nicole asked, beaming. Suddenly, she remembered that she was an officer and was currently on duty, “Wait, did something happen? Are you okay?” Her face immediately turned into an expression of worry, getting up from her chair and walking over to the counter.

“Oh, no I’m fine! Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” Waverly flashed an apologetic grin, “I just thought you might want a cappuccino since you said you were working a double today.” The girl held out the coffee cup for the redhead to take. Even though it was just a fancy coffee, Nicole’s heart seemed to burst as she took the cappuccino gratefully. This was the sweetest, most thoughtful girl ever. Nicole realized that even if she couldn’t be with Waverly the way she really wanted, she was blessed just to be able to have her in her life at all. In that moment, she realized there was nothing she would do to risk losing Waverly as a friend, even if it ended up hurting herself.

It was one damn good coffee.

* * * * * *

Three weeks after the first meeting

Sometimes, if she went on break at a weird time or got off a shift in the middle of the afternoon, Nicole would stop by Shorty’s on her way home. This was one of those days. Nicole had had a particularly rough day, having to duck a few well-aimed punches from a few very drunk people before she had a chance to subdue them. She was lucky that she was fast, so she only had a few bruises on her arms and chest, rather than missing teeth and a black eye. When Nicole went into Shorty’s, however, she remembered that she had taken off her uniform shirt in the stifling heat of the car and had forgotten to put it back on. She was left in her dark pants and utility belt with a white, short-sleeved undershirt that was able to show off the purpling bruises she was sporting. Immediately she tried to escape back out the door to either get her uniform or just go home, but unfortunately a certain young brunette had already spotted her.

“Nicole!” Waverly called in her melodious tone. Understanding she had no choice but to keep walking to the bar to say hello to Waverly as she had initially planned, Nicole crossed her arms and attempted to use her hands to cover up the bruises beginning to appear on her upper arms.

“Hey there,” the redhead responded, her voice a little strained. She felt very awkward standing in such an off-putting position while facing someone so kind, but she also didn’t want Waverly to have to see the bruises. Looking into the brunette’s eyes, she noticed sadness there for a moment, and she wondered if maybe it was because it looked like she hadn’t wanted to see Waverly, when that was the whole reason she had come into Shorty’s in the first place. A wave of guilt washing over her, Nicole felt her shoulders slump a bit, which in turn moved her hands into a different position on her arms, inadvertently revealing a portion of the bruising.

“Oh my god, Nicole…” Waverly reached out a hand across the bar tentatively and, accepting defeat, let her hands fall to her sides, revealing the marbling on her arms, “What happened to you?” The brunette’s brow scrunched in worry, fingers trailing softly along the outlines of the bruising. Nicole had to remember how to breathe as her skin burned wherever Waverly touched.

“Just perks of the job. I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean for you to see them, I just forgot I had taken off my shirt in the car. I was only coming to say a quick hello and see how you were doing, didn’t want to bother you too much,” Nicole began to ramble, blushing slightly, embarrassed that Waverly had seen her bruising. She was even beginning to sound like Waverly too, with this whole rambling thing. Nicole would have thought that maybe she was spending too much time around her if her habits were rubbing off, but she seemed to know that she couldn’t ever spend too much time with her, ever.

After a few minutes of gentle conversation and assurances that Nicole was indeed fine, the redhead left the bar to go home. It was only once she was in the car that she realized she hadn’t even gone through the pretense of buying something… it wasn’t as though she wanted anything, to be fair, but she didn’t want to make Waverly uncomfortable in thinking that Nicole had only gone to see her, even if that was exactly what had happened.

Sighing, hoping she wasn’t making mistakes in showing her feelings and possibly losing the sweetest and the best part of her life for the past few weeks, Nicole made the drive home.

Chapter Text

Eventually, about a month after they first met, Waverly stopped texting. Not that Waverly didn’t want to… it was more that she didn’t think Nicole would want her to. Sure, she was the one who had left her number in Waverly’s car and told her to text her that first time, and she was the one texting her now, asking if Waverly was okay because it had been so long since she responded, but every time Waverly tried to reason with that against the thoughts in her head, she kept getting drowned out. The past few days had been very hard for her… she felt more guilt at starting up her habit again and had been avoiding everyone and everything at all costs.

She also felt guilty about Nicole. Over the past few weeks, Waverly had begun to text Nicole and meet her out for coffee or on lunch breaks. Nicole would stop by the bar, though she hadn’t had any alcohol around Waverly since that first night. They would talk and have such easy conversation that while Waverly was with her she thought she might actually start to be happy. There were light touches, grazing against arms and legs, and even though the touches were innocuous, they still sent electricity shooting through Waverly’s body. But the happiness and the subtle flirtation ate away at her; the guilt crept up inside. She had a boyfriend. Nicole didn’t like her like that. Even though they hadn’t done anything, a part of Waverly felt like she was cheating on Champ in a way because she liked talking to someone else. Because this someone else made her stomach churn in the most pleasant way and sent her heart racing at speeds Waverly hadn’t known it was able to.

During the day, talking with Nicole had Waverly feeling so inexplicably wonderful and high on life. At night, the feelings morphed into guilt and confusion, causing Waverly to slowly begin hating herself more and more; she hated how she felt, and she hated that she couldn’t feel that way for Champ. She felt a great, vast emptiness in the night with no way to fill it. So Waverly pushed everything and everyone away. She had the previous two days off, so she drove her Jeep out to the middle of nowhere and stayed there, lost in her own thoughts and self-hatred, sleeping away the day. She drove home around five a.m. so Champ would already be asleep and woke up at nine before he did. For two straight days, she drove and slept, and that was it.

She was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of isolating self-destruction and Waverly didn’t know how to stop herself.

Finally, Waverly managed to drag herself away from the comfort of sleep, of unconsciousness, and head to work after her days off. Shorty wasn’t in yet, so Waverly relieved the other bartender and busied herself by wiping down the bar, though her mind kept losing focus on the simple task before her. There were no other customers around, and there probably wouldn’t be for a while based on when the crowds usually showed up. The emptiness seemed to claw at her and consume her, to the point where breathing just seemed like another task she had to do.

“Waverly,” she heard her name called from the steps, slurred and thick.

“Champ?” the brunette turned around slowly, still feeling heavy. She hadn’t felt this off in many months, and she hated herself for it now. Why did she feel like this? What was wrong with her? Champ was obviously drunk and stumbled down the stairs, almost falling a couple times, but managing to catch himself on the railing. Waverly, however, was too unfocused to really notice this. He finally made his way over to her and held on to her arms for support, holding himself up.

“Baby, I want you,” he slurred, burying his face in her neck and slobbering all over it.

“Champ… I can’t… I’m at work…” she started, her body not even aware of what was happening.

“No,” Champ clenched his hands around her arms suddenly, his voice turning to anger, “You are my girlfriend,” he stated thickly, “And when I say I want it, you need to give me what I want.” He turned Waverly around and pushed her up against the bar, grinding into her roughly.

“Champ… please…” Waverly started, tears streaming down her face, searing her skin, knowing there was nothing she could do at this point. “Please stop….”

“HARDY!” a loud bellow came from the back door. Champ loosened his grip on Waverly and turned his body toward the sound, allowing the small girl to wriggle from his grasp and quickly make her way to the other side of the bar, still shaking with tears cascading down her cheeks. Shorty stood by the back door, his normally pale face red with anger, and his hands balled into fists by his side. He walked the length of the bar and stood next to Champ, teeth clenched, poking a finger into Champ’s chest. Though Champ was much taller than Shorty, the sheer anger the older man was exuding was enough to cause a look of fear to flash across Champ’s face.

“Out. Now. And NEVER come back,” Shorty accentuated each word with a sharp jab to the younger man’s chest.

“She’s my girlfriend,” Champ muttered thickly.

“No, she’s her own person. And I swear to god, if you ever come close to her again without her permission I will beat you to within an inch of your life. Now get out.”

“I live here.”

“Not anymore, Hardy. Now out before I call the Sheriff on you and if that happens, you know you will never get a job there,” Shorty spat out. With a look of annoyance, and perhaps confusion as his drunken brain tried to process what had just happened, Champ stumbled out of the bar.

“Waverly…” Shorty made his way over to the still crying girl, wrapping her shaking body in his arms. She sobbed into his chest before finally managing to get out a sentence.

“Where are we supposed to go?” Waverly choked out, causing the balding man to stiffen. He pulled her away from him a bit so he could look into her reddened face in confusion.

“What do you mean?” he asked gently.

“Champ and I. If we can’t live here, where are we supposed to go? Can’t you just give us a couple days, Shorty, please? And then I swear we’ll be out of your hair, we just need to find a place,” the brunette sniffled. She watched the confusion on Shorty’s face slowly turn into something else… concern? Horror?

“Waverly, you can stay here,” Shorty said slowly, watching her carefully. Relief very clearly washed over her face, though tears still streamed down.

“Thank you, Shorty. Thank you so much. Champ was just really drunk and I’m so happy you understand,” she sobbed, burrowing her head in his shoulder.

“Waverly…” Shorty was choosing his words carefully, “You can stay here. Champ can’t.” He felt the girl tense in his arms.

“What… what do you mean?” She stepped out of his embrace, crossing her arms across her chest with a hurt expression.

“Waverly,” he looked at her meaningfully.

“Shorty, he was drunk. It wasn’t his fault,” Waverly argued.

“I can’t let him back here,” he sighed, “And I can’t tell you what to do. Whatever you do on your own time, unfortunately I can’t stop you. But you deserve better than this, Waverly. You deserve better. Champ can come to get his things, but that’s it. Fifteen minutes.”

“He loves me, Shorty. And he’s got his faults, but so does everyone else and he’s all I have. He’s all I’ll ever have. Please let him come back, Shorty. Please,” she begged, feeling the tightening in her chest returning as she struggled to breath.

“No,” was all he responded. It was gentle and kind, but firm.

“Shorty please—”

“No.”

“He’s my boyfriend, Shorty. I can’t just leave him with no place to go.”

“Waverly. I do not care about him. I care about you, and that is the only reason why he was still here at all. Because for some reason, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re not good enough for him. That you don’t deserve someone who doesn’t step out on you, doesn’t treat you like shit, and doesn’t try to rape you in my bar!” Shorty began gently, but then the volume and his anger built until he was shouting at her. Shorty wasn’t upset with Waverly, but he was frustrated that she couldn’t seem to see her own worth. He was fighting the urge to shake her, convince her that she was worth something. He had hoped she would have seen that she deserved better after watching her flirting all night with the nice-looking deputy, who in a few hours was nicer to Waverly than Champ had been in years. He kept up his hopes since the officer would often stop by the bar, sometimes not even ordering anything, just to see Waverly. Since that first night meeting her, though, Waverly had seemed to start to close herself off. Shorty could only think that maybe, hopefully, it was because the girl was confused and thinking about making a drastic life change that involved dumping that no-good son of a bitch and seeing where things went with the redheaded deputy. However, these past couple days especially were very bad, and he was starting to get worried. Usually Shorty would have seen Waverly around, hanging in the bar, visiting him, but she had disappeared until her shift this morning.

After he took a deep breath, Shorty saw the look on Waverly’s face and immediately regretted the way he had said what he did. He meant every word of it, but he could tell that the harshness of his tone had hurt her. The brunette’s eyes were wide and she took a few steps back, finally deciding to run up the stairs to what had been her and Champ’s apartment. He started to call up after her, but he knew it would be no use.

Slamming the door and flopping onto her bed, Waverly buried her face into her pillow, body convulsing in sobs. How did everything go so wrong, so quickly? It was all her fault. Everything was fine. It was manageable. She had a place to live, a job, a boyfriend who loved her…. Did she still have all those things? She needed a place to sleep, but if she stayed here, what would that mean for Champ? If he didn’t have a place to stay just because he was trying to ask for something she had been denying him for months, then that was her fault. And what if he never forgave her? What if he left her?

Waverly didn’t know if she loved him anymore. Maybe she hadn’t at all. Maybe she wasn’t capable of loving anyone, and this would be the closest she would ever get to happiness. Champ loved her and she was never going to get that again. She wasn’t going to find someone who loved her, knowing she was an Earp. She couldn’t even give him… anything. This was her fault. She couldn’t do anything right. She didn’t deserve to be happy. Reaching towards her nightstand, she grabbed the shining silver that was now lying on top of the surface. Champ hadn’t noticed it there, and probably never would. Just as she was about to pull down her shorts and reopen wounds from the past few days, she heard a soft, timid knock on the door.

“Please, Shorty. Just go. I’ll leave soon,” she sobbed. There was no verbal answer, just instead another soft knock. Groaning, Waverly returned the metal to the nightstand’s surface and shuffled over to the door, wiping the tears from her cheeks with the palms of her hands.

“Shorty—” Waverly began, expecting to see the short, balding man at her door. Instead, she saw khaki slacks curving against the arc of hips. A utility belt separated the slacks and a light-blue button up Sheriff's department uniform shirt, the top two buttons undone, showing off creamy skin and the swell of breasts. Wavy, red hair framed a gorgeous face sporting a concerned, nervous look.

“Nicole?”

Chapter Text

“For the love of all that is good and holy in this world, Haught, just go see her! Maybe there’s a reason why she hasn’t texted or called. Maybe she’s embarrassed about something,” Lonnie said at their lunch break, taking a bite of his pizza.

“But what does she have to be embarrassed about? I was the drunk one that woke up spooning her that first night!” Nicole buried her face in the hands.

“Just go to the bar after work for a cup of Joe or something. You get off at three-thirty, right?” Nicole nodded, “They’re usually pretty slow around that time since they should just be finishing lunch rush but not quite on dinner/night crowd yet. Go and talk to her, Haught.”

“She has a boyfriend. It doesn’t even matter,” the redhead grumbled, sliding her plate of pizza away from the spot in front of her and placing her head on the table instead.

“Haught, her boyfriend is Champ Hardy. C’mon. Plus, I saw how she looked at you. Regardless, you like being around her, so why not try continuing the friendship? Or is that not a good idea? I don’t know. Either way, that’s how it started with me and my wife, and we’ve been married three years.”

“But, Lonnie, you’re like twelve!” Nicole teased him, looking up from the table.

“Excuse me. I am twenty-four thank you very much. You’re just jealous because you’re so old.”

“Twenty-six is not old, Lonnie!” Nicole pretended to look offended.

“Sure, Haught, if that’s what you need to tell yourself to sleep at night,” Lonnie winked at her and rolled his eyes, “So what are you going to do when you get off at three-thirty?” he asked her expectantly.

“I’m going to Shorty’s,” Nicole rolled her eyes back at Lonnie and, with a sudden new found energy and excitement, decided to take a bite of pizza. “What the hell, Lonnie, that’s disgusting!” she shouted, spitting out the piece and taking a huge gulp of water.

“Yeah… there was only one regular pizza left in the freezer, so you got the gluten free one. Sucks to suck,” and he ducked out of the break room before Nicole could throw the rest of her pizza at him.

* * * * * *

Nicole prided herself on being able to read people fairly easily. So, when she walked into a deserted bar where Shorty was sweeping a broken glass up that looked as though it had been chucked at a wall with a frustrated expression, she was pretty sure her deduction that he was the one to have thrown it probably wasn’t too far off base. When he saw her, Shorty seemed to breath a sigh of relief for some reason, quickly putting aside the broom and dustpan to make his way over to her.

“Nicole, thank god you’re here. To be completely honest, I had half a mind to call the station asking for you.”

“What’s going on, Shorty?” the redhead questioned, confused and quickly getting very worried, “Is everyone okay?” Her hand hovered above her holstered gun as Shorty began to explain.

“No one’s hurt or anything, really—well,” he seemed to be reconsidering his choice of words, but decided to plow on nonetheless, “It’s Waverly. I had to kick Champ out for reasons she would have to be the one to tell you, but she thought I was kicking her out as well, and then she got upset because I told her she deserves better and I was only kicking him out and… God, Nicole, I don’t know how to do this. I love Waverly like she’s my own kid, but there’s something going on with her and I don’t know how to help her. I haven’t even seen her the past couple days. I know you’ve probably got stuff you need to do, but she just always seems so… Waverly… and at ease, you know, when she’s with you, and I just thought you could talk to her for me,” Shorty pleaded with her.

Nicole took a couple seconds to absorb the information, the worry inside her growing. On one hand, at least she wasn’t the only person Waverly had cut off contact with for the past couple days. On the other, that wasn’t a good sign. She had noticed a growing sadness behind the brunette’s eyes the last couple times they had met, but it seemed to disappear as they began talking so while Nicole took note, she didn’t place too much stock into it.

“Of course, Shorty. Is she upstairs?” Nicole asked, the apprehension clawing at her belly. Shorty nodded in response and Nicole hurried immediately up the steps, two at a time.

Knocking on the door, she heard a sniffle as Waverly sobbed out, “Please, Shorty. Just go. I’ll leave soon.” Not wanting to intrude in case she wouldn’t be welcome in her bedroom, Nicole decided to knock again. The brunette came to the door and it creaked open as she started again, “Shorty—,” but froze when she saw Nicole.

“Nicole?” Waverly stood there for a moment, eyes wide. Nicole noticed the skin around her eyes was red and puffy with tear streaks staining her cheeks. Her eyes were empty and looking at this sweet girl in front of her, so broken, broke Nicole’s heart. She wanted to hold her, cradle her in her arms, tell her everything was going to be okay, but she wasn’t sure that was what Waverly wanted. So Nicole stood there for a moment, allowing Waverly time to process the fact that she wasn’t Shorty.

Seeming to have done just that, Waverly burst out into tears again and lay down on her bed, hiding her face in her pillow. Nicole decided that her having not shut the door was a sign that she was allowed to come in, so she slowly made her way to the other side of the bed, shutting the door behind her.

“Waverly,” she said gently, “I’m going to sit on the bed and rub your back a bit. Is that okay? Do you want me to do that?” Receiving a feeble nod from the sobbing form, Nicole climbed onto the bed and sat up against the pillows next to Waverly, turning to the side a bit and propping herself up with her left hand. She used her right hand to start rubbing slow, soft circles into the girl’s back. Deciding it would be best not to try and talk for the time being, Nicole sat there as Waverly sobbed into the pillow, rubbing soothingly for about ten minutes, until the sobs finally stopped and the brunette was only sniffling into her pillow.

“N-Nicole?” she muttered timidly.

“Yes, Waverly?” the redhead asked.

“Is it okay… could you… do you… could you maybe… h-hold me?” Waverly seemed embarrassed by her question so much that another sob shuddered through her body.

“Of course, Waverly,” Nicole said gently. She fixed her position so she was sitting cross-legged on the bed, back straight against the pillows. Waverly crawled into her lap so that her butt was settled near the crook of Nicole’s left knee. Wrapping her arms around the small girl, Nicole smoothed some of the hair out of Waverly’s face and tucked it behind her ear as the brunette nestled her face against Nicole’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, seemingly embarrassed by the situation.

“Darling, you have nothing to apologize for,” Nicole reassured her.

“Why are you here?”

“I was getting a cappuccino when Shorty asked me to come talk to you. He said he couldn’t really tell me why, just that you were upset and he thought maybe I could help more than he could. Also, I came in because I thought I had done something wrong,” she ran her fingers through Waverly’s long locks.

“Wrong?” Waverly asked, confused.

“Well, we were texting a lot and meeting up almost every day, so when I didn’t hear from you at all for more than two days, I was worried that I had done something to upset you,” the ginger explained.

“No, of course not. I just didn’t think you wanted to talk to me,” the brunette said softly, both aware of how silly that sounded while also thinking it made complete sense. Nicole tried to make sense of what she had just heard. How could this gorgeous, smart, kind, wonderful human being ever think that Nicole didn’t want to talk to her, spend time with her, and be around her all the time? What had happened in her life to make her think that she wasn’t absolutely incredible?

“Waverly,” Nicole said gently but firmly, “I never want you to think that I don’t want to talk to you. Ever. You are the kindest, most interesting, and wonderful person I know. If I didn’t want to talk to you, would I have spent six hours with you at the bar that first night? Would I have gone to breakfast and given you my number the next morning? Would I have made plans with you almost every single day to meet up to talk and hang out? Would I have texted you after you stopped responding, asking if you were okay? Would I have come here today? Waverly, you are incredible, and if you ever need reassurance that I do want to talk to you, just ask me and I will tell you, unequivocally yes. I do,” she held the brunette tighter in her arms as she spoke, Waverly burying her face deeper into the officer’s shoulder.

“Do you want to talk about what happened?” Nicole asked gently, not wanting to pry too much. When the small girl shook her head no, Nicole just continued stroking the long locks, rocking Waverly gently. She would sit like this forever if it would make Waverly happy. She knew she would do anything for this girl. Her pain broke Nicole’s heart. It was in that moment, comforting the girl about something that had happened with her boyfriend, knowing she would go to the ends of the Earth to make her happy, that Nicole realized yet again that Waverly was her kryptonite.

After a few more minutes, her eyes began to wander around the room, taking in the bookcase, the vanity with beauty products placed neatly over it, the dresser with more books piled on top, and the nightstand. On top of the nightstand, Nicole noticed an odd glint reflecting on the wood. Looking more closely, she saw it was a razor blade, the edge stained red. Putting together the blade with what she had thought she saw that morning about a month ago, Nicole realized what Waverly had been doing. Her heart dropped into her stomach as her heart broke yet again.

“Oh, Waves,” she let out a strangled whisper. Waverly, who had been almost on the edge of sleep, peered up at the ginger’s face. Nicole hadn’t used the nickname since the first day at the bar, and her voice seemed strained. Waverly noticed a look that was a mixture of hurt and concern. First, a confused look flashed on Waverly’s face, then recognition when she realized where the ginger’s line of sight was, and finally something that was a combination of embarrassment, apologetics, and sadness. Nicole heard the brunette’s heart start to race as she buried her head again into the deputy’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” came a muffled mummer, broken by tearless sobs. It appeared as though Waverly had cried all the tears she could for the day, but the pain and emptiness didn’t seem to care.

“Waverly, you don’t ever need to apologize to me. Just…why?” Nicole asked gently. No judgment, only evenness and caring in her tone.

“I deserve it,” she answered, so softly Nicole had to strain to here. If her heart could break anymore in the span of that hour, it did.

“Waverly. No. Why would you ever deserve that? Why do you feel like you need to hurt yourself? You are beautiful and young and caring and smart and hardworking and funny and kind and interesting and everything anyone could ever want to be. You are incredible. You deserve to have everything you could ever want in life and I know it’s hard to believe, but please, try to know that it’s true. I promise I wouldn’t lie to you, Waverly.”

“It’s all my fault.”

“What’s your fault, baby?” Nicole said gently against the small girl’s scalp, her face buried in her hair as she held the brunette close to her. The pet name just slipped out, but Waverly didn’t seem to mind it, so Nicole just let it hang there in the air.

“Everything. My father, and Willa, and Wynonna, and Uncle Curtis, and Gus, and… and Champ. It’s all my fault.”

“Shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s not all your fault. I can promise you that it’s not. It was an accident. And you’re younger than Wynonna, so she’s not your responsibility. Curtis had a heart attack, and I don’t know what happened with Gus, but I do know that whatever’s going on with Champ is also not your fault,” Nicole assured her, rocking her.

“Y—you know?”

“Know you’re an Earp? Of course, Waverly. I am a cop,” she chuckled lightly into her hair, “I was just waiting for you to tell me.”

“But… but you’re still here,” the brunette seemed confused.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Now it was Nicole’s turn to be confused, “Earp is just a last name. You are an incredible person, and that’s all I care about.” The candid response caused Waverly to throw her arms around the deputy’s waist and squeeze tightly as though this was the first time someone had told her that.

“It is my fault, though,” Waverly whispered, “I haven’t… done things for him in a few months. Most of the time he just gets it somewhere else, so it hasn’t been much of a problem, but I don’t think he was able to so he got really drunk and I didn’t want to but it has been so long and it’s my fault that I’m such a terrible girlfriend and then Shorty kicked him out because I was saying no but he was still trying and it’s my fault. I should have just been doing it in the first place because I’m his girlfriend and this never would have happened and he never would have had to cheat and he’d still be living here,” she rambled quietly, her voice muffled by the fabric of Nicole’s uniform.

It took Nicole a minute to respond as she tried to quell the anger raging inside her. Champ had tried to force himself on to Waverly without her permission, and somehow he has her thinking this is her fault? She said no, but he was drunk, so that made it okay? She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. What had happened to Waverly to make her think so little of herself when she was already everything to Nicole, and she had only known her for a month?

“Waverly. Listen to me. That is not your fault. You have every right to say no to sex if you don’t want it, and that is no excuse for cheating or rape. You don’t have to give him sex because you don’t owe him anything. If you don’t want to, you don’t want to, and you should not let him make you think any differently,” Nicole said firmly, through gritted teeth.

“Maybe, you know, you could talk to someone,” the ginger suggested gently.

“No… I can’t. I tried and it just didn’t work. And I tried other people but it’s just… I don’t like it.”

“It’s okay, Waves,” Nicole reassured her, holding her close and whispering into her hair. She knew that trying to force her to get help she didn’t want wouldn’t help and would only increase her isolation, but she had no idea how to help the young brunette. More than anything, Nicole just wanted her to understand how wonderful she was, but she wasn’t sure how she could make Waverly see what she saw. “I’m always here if you need me. Anytime, night or day, just talk to me, okay?” The young girl nodded against the deputy’s shoulder.

“Nicole?”

“Hmm?”

“Are you… do you have to do something? Like going to work or something?”

“No, Waverly. I can be here as long as you need me. Just tell me what you need.”

“I just… I kind of want to sleep but could you… could you maybe stay?” She asked sheepishly, hiding her face in Nicole’s shoulder.

“Of course,” Nicole answered, loosening the grip she held on Waverly so the brunette could shift positions. In a matter of seconds, they were spooning, just as they had been that first morning, the young girl pushing herself up against the deputy, as though trying to make sure she was actually there.

“Go to sleep, Waves. I’ll still be right here when you wake up,” Nicole whispered into her ear, watching as the brunette’s breathing eventually slowed and she drifted off to sleep.

Nicole couldn’t believe that this perfect girl—so sweet, funny, and intelligent—could think so little of herself. It hurt her beyond anything else she had ever felt in her life to know that there was nothing she could do about it. She could try, and there was no doubt she would do her hardest to try, but there was no guarantee it would work. She decided then that she would try to remind Waverly, as often as she was able, of how incredible she was, that she had people who loved her, and hopefully Waverly would start to accept that. There were no guarantees, but that was all Nicole could do at this point.

Not long after Waverly, Nicole fell asleep as well, the young brunette pressed up against her body.

Chapter Text

Nicole was still there.

Nicole was lying down, arms wrapped around Waverly protectively, still there.

She hadn’t left.

Waverly found this absolutely incredible. Everyone left her… why did this gorgeous redhead stay? She had just fallen apart in front of this girl, admitted the craziness that went on in her mind, and she was still here. Why was she still here? Something didn’t compute in Waverly’s head—it didn’t make sense.

Leaning over slightly and reaching an arm out, careful not to wake the sleeping girl or move the strong arms holding her, Waverly grabbed her phone from the nightstand. She noticed a text from Shorty and immediately guilt washed over her for having missed her shift. In his text, Shorty said that he had called in coverage and not to worry, that he completely understood and everything was fine, just let him know when she would be able to work her next shift. Still, guilt and confusion and anger and emptiness and everything just poured down on her all at once.

She didn’t know what she was doing or what anything that had happened tonight meant. It was all too much and she didn’t know how to handle it. She suddenly felt short on breath, as though something heavy had been placed on her chest, constricting the movement of her lungs. Her breath came more quickly, ragged, and harsh. Her shallow breathing grew louder as she tried to gulp in oxygen to her lungs, to what seemed to be no avail.

She wasn’t sure how long it had been happening, but Waverly suddenly became aware of a firm yet gentle hand rubbing circles on her back, in between the shoulder blades. Realizing Nicole was awake and witnessing all of this only made the panic attack worse. Now, surely, she would have chased her away. After this, that was it. The one person who had been able to make her smile recently, the one person who was there for her, she was just going to scare away by showing who she really was. Just like how it happened with everyone else.

“Hey,” a voice whispered in her ear, low and raspy from sleep, “You are okay. You are here. I’m not going anywhere. You’re okay, and I’m not leaving unless you want me to. It’s okay.” Somehow, Nicole seemed to be able to read her thoughts and know just what was going on in her head at that point in time.

But she was lying; she had to be lying. Why would she stay?

The other part of her mind argued against this—why would Nicole be lying? She had no motivation to be untruthful to Waverly.

Obviously she’s just doing it to hurt you. All you’re going to get out of this is a broken heart. There’s no way she actually likes you—even as a friend.

But what right did Waverly have to think that she was even so important as to warrant an elaborate scheme on Nicole’s end just to hurt her? She wasn’t that special, so maybe Nicole did care?

No. Not possible.

The two conflicting sides of her brain were screaming at each other, and Waverly was finding it difficult to tell which was the sane side and which was just in her head. Even though the words the ginger was saying clearly stated that she cared about Waverly and was there for her, the brunette still found that impossible to believe.

Finally, after a few minutes, the panic subsided and she started to breath normally again. Waverly repositioned herself to face towards the officer, ending up with her face so close to Nicole’s that their noses were almost touching.

“I’m so sorry,” Waverly whispered ashamedly, eyes averted.

“Look at me,” Nicole said, placing a finger under the brunette’s chin so her face couldn’t move away. Eventually, Waverly’s eyes focused on Nicole so she would finally begin to speak, “You never need to apologize to me for how you feel. Ever. And you shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone ever about that. Hey,” Nicole reprimanded when Waverly’s eyes darted away again in embarrassment, “I’m serious. Do not apologize. You are incredible. I’m not going to go anywhere just because you aren’t able to realize how amazing you are for some reason. I’m going to stay here until you tell me you understand that and I believe you. Do you understand that?” Her voice was firm and unapologetic, yet gentle and understanding at the same time. Waverly felt tears welling up in her eyes again as she nodded, cheeks blushing furiously.

“See, I didn’t hear that,” Nicole smirked. Waverly suddenly felt a strong desire to shift her body forward slightly and close the small gap between her lips and the ginger’s. They were so close and Nicole was so incredible. She was sweet, kind, amazing, smart… and so beautiful. So beautiful laying in her bed, staring at Waverly with those tender, chocolate brown eyes, with the knowing smirk showing off dimples, with the soft, moistened lips. Instead, she answered her question.

“Yes,” Waverly’s voice broke.

“Yes… what?” Nicole seemed to just be teasing her now, trying to lighten the mood.

“Yes—ma’am,” Waverly halted between the words, about to have said something very different, something very embarrassing. Her brain was going crazy, on one hand hating herself and believing Nicole hated her, and on the other, kind of wanting to jump the attractive cop’s bones. Nicole didn’t seem to have noticed it, thankfully. Instead, she just continued to smile at the brunette next to her.

Suddenly, Nicole sat up on the bed, clearing her throat. Waverly felt the electricity that had been crackling between the two break in the air, leaving her breathless and wanting. Slowly, the younger girl sat up as well. They both leaned against the headboard, arms pressed against each other, though Waverly ached for more contact. Thankfully, Nicole took her hand and placed it over Waverly’s gently, as if reassuring her that she was there and not leaving.

“So what do you want me to do now?” The deputy asked softly, looking down at the patterns she was drawing on Waverly’s hand with her fingers. The feeling was captivating and the brunette’s skin burned wherever the delicate fingers trailed. Waverly could think of a lot of things she wanted the redhead to do now...

“Mmmhm… what do you mean?” Waverly tried to keep from closing her eyes and just reveling in the feel of the soft fingertips dancing across her hand.

“Well,” the ginger smirked, seeming to enjoy the effect she was having on Waverly, “I could talk you through what you want to do and what you’re thinking, just so you have a sounding board to work off of. I could go, but only if you don’t want me here anymore of course. And if you ever ask me to go, just say the word and I promise I will. But, maybe we could do something completely different to take your mind off of it completely. Personally, I think maybe it would be healthiest for you to talk it out—if not with me, then with someone else—but it’s up to you. It’s whatever you want, Waverly.”

Could this woman get any more perfect? Sighing, Waverly weighed her options. She didn’t want Nicole to go, not by any means. And while she wanted to talk things out, there were certain things that she couldn’t say to her. She liked the idea of doing something with Nicole to take her mind off of it completely, but they were probably thinking of very different things.

“How about…” the brunette started slowly, still weighing the options fully of what to do, “We could watch a really bad movie on my laptop and I could talk to you a bit after?”

“Sounds perfect,” Nicole smiled.

“Alright, I’m going to change and grab some snacks and drinks… do you want to borrow something to change into? You’re taller than me, but if it would be more comfortable I have some shorts and a tank you’d probably fit into. I mean, if you want. If not it’s totally fine too because the uniform looks good on you, I just thought you might be more comfortable in something else and I’m going to shut up now,” Waverly’s face burned in embarrassment from her rambling, but she only realized and stopped when Nicole had squeezed her hand gently, a subtle reminder to relax that Waverly very much appreciated.

“I would be very grateful for something more comfy to change into, thank you,” Nicole smiled gently at the young girl, no judgment at all in her eyes or voice. For some reason feeling extremely giddy, Waverly jumped up to get ready. It had been a long day, and she was by no means feeling perfect, but Nicole had a way of making her feel like maybe everything wasn’t so bad after all. That maybe everything would work out in the end. That maybe she deserved happiness. She needed to work on feeling it after Nicole left as well, but she felt like she was starting to a bit more. Nicole was helping Waverly to see her worth on her own terms and Waverly had the feeling that, if the deputy stayed around, she might be able feel this way even without Nicole.

But being deserving of happiness was a thought that never really struck Waverly as something that would ever be true for her before she met Nicole, and that fact amazed her every single time.

It also scared the shit out of her.  

Chapter Text

Nicole was sitting back on the bed, having changed into a pair of soft, grey cotton shorts and a white tee Waverly had tossed to her, when the brunette finally emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later. Waverly’s eyes were slightly red and looked very tired, but Nicole couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was nonetheless. Her long brown locks were pulled up into a messy bun at the top of her head. She wore a tight fitting black camisole that accentuated and lifted her breasts, as well as long grey sweatpants, rolled down at the waist to expose her smooth, pale hip line. Waverly looked slightly embarrassed at how she presented, but Nicole knew she had never seen the girl looking more beautiful than she did in this moment.

Waverly grabbed a six-pack of beers from the small fridge on the side and a bag of pretzels, placing them onto the nightstand and then crawling onto the bed. She handed one of the beers to Nicole, opening the bag of pretzels and placing it between them, next to her laptop.

“So I’m thinking a really shitty sci-fi movie?” It was a statement, but Waverly’s voice rose at the end to turn it into a question, looking for Nicole’s approval.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” the redhead responded with a small smile. Pushing play, Waverly leaned up against the pillows next to Nicole so that their upper arms were pressed against each other, distracting Nicole completely from whatever was playing. After about five minutes of sitting so close, touching and yet not completely, the brunette placed her head on Nicole’s shoulder, shifting her body slightly to allow Nicole to put an arm around her. Unsure of where exactly to place her hand on the younger girl’s body, she settled on the forearm, sure that was a platonic area. To her surprise, though, Waverly lifted her arm so that the ginger’s hand fell to the brunette’s side, where she then let her arm fall back down, trapping Nicole’s hand on her upper hip, between where the line of her sweatpants stopped and her top began. Nicole felt her mouth go dry as she stared intently at the computer screen, trying not to let what she was feeling show. Her fingertips began to draw soft circles on the smooth, warm skin underneath them. Looking down at the girl in her arms briefly, she noticed Waverly seemed completely engrossed in the movie, her face slightly flushed from what Nicole assumed was anticipation of what would happen next in the movie, biting her lip and expelling calculated deep breaths.

God, she was hot.

Nicole felt desire start to pool between her legs as she stared at the brunette in her arms, so she quickly looked away and tried her best to get invested in the movie, to not get distracted.

Needless to say, Nicole found that a little hard.

* * * * * *

“That was…”

“Terrible? Worst movie ever? I’m sorry, Waverly, but I’m picking next time,” Nicole laughed breathily.

“Hey, the ending was good!”

“They all DIED!” the redhead exclaimed, her smile lighting up her face.

“Yeah, but c’mon. It would have been so stupid and unrealistic if they survived,” Waverly rolled her eyes, looking up at Nicole, who she was still leaning into, the ginger’s arms wrapped around her. Looking down at the younger girl in her arms, Nicole couldn’t help but think how absolutely gorgeous she was, how if she could just have this for the rest of her life, she would be happy—not only Waverly with her, but just the genuine smile she wore now. She looked happy, and that meant the world to Nicole.

At this point, Nicole and Waverly had each had three beers (the movie would have been nearly impossible to get through completely sober), so while the deputy couldn’t speak for Waverly, she knew she was feeling a little tipsy already.

“So…” Nicole looked at the brunette expectantly. She didn’t want to push Waverly into something she didn’t want to do, but she also wanted to help in anyway she could.

“I don’t normally drink, so I know I’m going to end up saying too much,” the younger woman responded, blushing and looking down.

“You don’t need to be embarrassed. Just say how you feel. Sometimes it helps to just get it all out there.”

“I know,” Waverly looked down at her legs, moving her hand slightly to place it over Nicole’s, which was still moving comfortingly over her skin. She weaved her fingers through the ginger’s and squeezed her hand, taking a deep breath.

“It’s okay. Whatever you’re comfortable with, I’m here,” Nicole pressed her face against Waverly’s head and whispered into her hair.

“I can’t break up with him.”

“Okay,” Nicole tried to keep her voice even, but she felt her body tense and she knew the brunette felt it as well.

“He’s… he’s not always bad and he loves me. It’s been my fault because I haven’t been paying attention to him and I feel like… I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I am doing something wrong and I know that,” Nicole felt Waverly’s heart rate quicken, so she instinctively pulled her arm tighter around her waist, holding the brunette tightly to her.

“You’re not doing anything wrong.”

“But… but I am. You don’t understand. I shouldn’t be… It’s not fair to him,” Nicole saw a tear roll down Waverly’s cheek, so she brought her other hand up to wipe it away as Waverly leaned into the touch.

“Waverly, you’re not doing anything wrong, trust me,” she replied gently.

“Nicole, you don’t know that. I am,” Waverly’s voice grew sharper, more cutting and forceful.

“No matter what you think you did, that’s no excuse for what happened today.”

“But—”

“No, Waverly. No buts.”

“Nicole, I’m cheating on him!” Waverly blurted out, the tears falling freely from her face now, looking away from the woman holding her. Nicole’s heart stopped and sank to her stomach. Waverly Earp, a cheater? She didn’t want to believe it… she couldn’t. She was so sweet and kind… there was no way she could be like all the other women she had dated before. A flash of pain ripped through her body as she pulled her hand out from where it was entwined with Waverly’s. It was an knee-jerk reaction as she recalled all the hurt she felt before… all the lies, the broken promises, catching them in the act….

“Nic-Nicole?” Waverly’s voice wavered and broke.

“Just… just a minute,” Nicole whispered, staring ahead. She remained next to Waverly on the bed, she just needed a moment to process. Waverly, the sweetest, kindest girl she had ever known, was a cheater? There had to be another explanation. Anything. Nicole had been cheated on too many times to count, and she knew no one deserved that. She knew that Champ had been cheating on Waverly, which was already terrible, but that shouldn’t mean that Waverly could then cheat on him. She knew how she felt about Waverly and it wasn’t as though that had changed, but she wondered if maybe she had been so blinded by these feelings that she had misjudged the girl completely. If she was being completely honest, it also bothered Nicole because, even though she knew Waverly had Champ, she had still thought… hoped… that maybe one day…. after Waverly finally dumped Champ… just maybe...

But there was someone else. Someone other than Champ, and that hurt her more than she expected it to. Nicole knew that, in that moment, she wanted nothing more than to just run away, to go back to her cat and her room and be alone. An image flashed through her mind, sending a shot of jealousy and pain coursing through her body—Waverly, kissing a faceless stranger, on this bed. Waverly, taking off her shirt for him. Waverly touching him. Waverly—she shook the image from her head before her mind could take this thought places she did not want to go.

But she was still worried about Waverly and she had promised her that she wasn’t going to run, that she wasn’t going to leave her. If nothing else, Nicole needed to keep that promise, even though it was hurting her more than she ever knew was possible.

“Okay,” Nicole whispered, pulling the sobbing girl back into her arms, “You’re going to be okay,” she tried to keep tears from her own eyes as Waverly clung to her shirt, sobbing into her chest. They stayed like that for a few moments, until Waverly finally started to speak again.

“It’s just… I’m not doing anything. I met… um… I met someone and… and I guess I realized that I don’t love Champ anymore, and I’m not sure if I ever did, but I’m talking to, uh, this person and it feels so right but I’m with Champ so it’s wrong and Champ does love me and the other person doesn’t so I don’t know what to do and I’m so scared, Nicole. If I break up with Champ I’m going to be alone and that scares me more than anything, but I feel so guilty because I don’t feel what I feel with that other person with him.” Nicole stopped stroking the brunette’s hair for a moment, eyes knitting together in confusion.

“Wait… have you done anything at all with this other person?”

“We… um, we talk. A lot. And I… I feel… things,” Waverly said hesitantly, as though choosing her words carefully, looking at the redhead skeptically, as though waiting for her to do something.

“Waverly,” Nicole sighed, a small, tired smile gracing her lips. This made more sense. Waverly convinced herself she was cheating just because she had feelings that she hadn’t acted on. Nicole wondered how she could have ever thought anything different, how she could have thought that Waverly would be anything but fiercely loyal, even at the expense of her own happiness. It still hurt to know that Waverly had feelings for someone else, that she was finding her happiness… Nicole wished it could be her. But, if it couldn’t, she was just glad Waverly was finding her happiness somewhere. It was an odd juxtaposition, the pain of knowing she’d never actually be with Waverly, mixed with the satisfaction that, if nothing else, Waverly could be happy.

“Have you kissed?”

“No… but I… I want to,” the brunette buried her face farther into the ginger, her cheeks burning as the blood rushed to them.

“Have you cancelled plans with Champ to go see him?” She felt Waverly’s eyes fly open and her body tense, so she resumed stroking her hair.

“Um… ahhh… no. No I haven’t. But I would, and I know I would.”

“Waverly,” Nicole breathed a soft chuckle, trying to mask her own hurt, “that’s not cheating, darling. It’s… it’s dangerous, but it’s not cheating. I think maybe you should think about where you stand with Champ, and maybe think about breaking up with him if you don’t love him. I know you think you’re going to be alone, but I can promise you, there will always be people who care about you. I know I will always be here for you, I promise. If this other person… if he makes you happy, maybe you should take a chance. If he rejects you, then that’s his loss, but at least you know that you can find the happiness you have with him with someone else. But Waverly, you are amazing and incredible and I will tell you that however many times you need to hear it until you believe it. You deserve happiness, and you will find it. You just need to go out and get it.”

She wanted to tell her how she felt, that she could be that happiness for her. All the stolen glances, the subtle touches… Waverly surely must have felt it too? Either way, this wasn’t the right time, and Nicole knew that. Waverly felt the things Nicole was feeling, apparently… but with someone else. Someone who wasn’t Champ, someone who wasn’t her. The redhead looked down to see the brunette staring up at her with confusion and incredulity, opening her mouth slightly before closing it again as though on the verge of saying something.

“Nicole…” Waverly started, pausing as she continued to stare up at Nicole.

“It’s alright. I understand,” she responded. Waverly was still looking at her as though Nicole didn’t understand, as though there was some huge piece of the puzzle she was missing. The ginger assumed that was because Waverly was still convinced that what she was doing was cheating, but other than what she had already said, Nicole was unsure of what she could do to assuage Waverly’s guilt.

“No, Nicole… I…” Waverly looked up at the redhead, who was sure she would be able to see the pain in her eyes, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. Waverly put her hand on the deputy’s cheek, shifting Nicole’s head gently so their foreheads were pressed against each other. Nicole’s heart began to race as she stared into Waverly’s eyes, glancing at her lips. Waverly licked them and her teeth grazed gently over the soft, red flesh. They were so close, noses nearly touching, and in just a few centimeters, Nicole could touch her lips to Waverly’s, if only she had the courage to move her head slightly forward… But she couldn't. That would make Waverly a cheater, and already knowing that she felt like one now, Nicole couldn’t do that to her. Waverly was too kind and pure. Nicole didn’t have the willpower to pull away though, so she stayed there, on the precipice of a kiss she had been yearning for for over a month. In that moment, something clicked for Nicole… was she who Waverly had been talking about? Was she the one that she was feeling things for? Is that why she tensed when Nicole started talking about a guy? Did she just inadvertently reject the woman of her dreams?

Sighing, Waverly seemed to decide against whatever she was about to say—or do—and began to wiggle out of Nicole’s arms. Seeing what she was doing, the ginger let go, allowing the brunette to sit up and stand by the side of the bed. Waverly grabbed her phone and checked the time.

“It’s nearly midnight, Nicole. I’ve already kept you here so long already, and I’m sorry. Thank you… for everything,” Waverly blushed and looked down at her hands. Nicole moved to the edge of the bed and held her hands in her own.

“Hey, what did I say about apologizing?” the ginger asked as Waverly raised her eyes to stare into Nicole’s with a timid smile, “Do you want me to go? Because I don’t have a shift tomorrow and Calamity Jane’s on an automatic feeder. I can stay here as long as you need me.”

“I…” Waverly’s breath caught in her throat as she appeared to think about the question. Closing her eyes for a moment, she reopened them to finish her thought, “No, but thank you. Really, Nicole, you’ve done so much already and thank you. I just need to think about what you said now and try to figure out how to… how to fix this,” she gestured to her own body.

“Will you be safe?” Nicole squeezed Waverly’s hands, looking concernedly into her eyes.

“Promise.”

“Okay. Just call me if… if anything. I want you to call me if you’re upset at all, so don’t feel like I won’t want to hear from you, because I promise I will. Just promise you’ll call me.”

“I promise, Nicole, I do,” Waverly agreed. Nicole moved to the bedside table and took the blade in her hand.

“I’m just… I’m going to take this okay? Please, please tell me the truth. Do you have any more?” She saw Waverly’s cheeks turn red as she looked down at the floor. There was silence for about a minute, but Nicole let the question hang in the air—this was too important for her to avoid due to embarrassment. Waverly visibly gulped before she finally answered.

“Yes,” the brunette said in a small voice.

“Waves,” Nicole whispered gently, looking sadly at the woman’s shaking form, “Do you mind giving them to me, please?”

“Nic—” her voice broke as she shook her head slightly.

“Please, Waverly.”

“I—I can’t,” her voice came out barely a whisper.

“You can, Waverly. You’re so strong and I believe in you. Do you want me to get them for you? Just tell me where they are and I’ll take care of it.” After a few more moments of silence, Waverly still not looking at the redheaded deputy, she nodded her head towards the drawer of the nightstand.

“Okay, I’m just going to get them out, okay?” Nicole moved slowly down to rummage through the drawer. She found them in the bottom corner, but couldn’t help but notice a couple other things in the drawer. Namely, her number, written on the napkin she had left in the brunette’s cupholder, and a doodle Nicole had drawn of her and Waverly while waiting for the brunette to go on her lunch break—something Nicole hadn’t even realized Waverly had known about, let alone kept. Under any other circumstances, she would have been giddy with excitement knowing that Waverly had kept those things, but this wasn’t normal circumstances.

“Waverly,” Nicole started, having shut the drawer and stood back up, “You are so strong, and I know you can do this. Thank you for telling me where they were, and if you need anything, if you ever feel like you need to do something like that again, please—please just call me, okay? I know I said it before, and I know you already promised, but I just really need to hear it one more time, Waves. I care about you, and I don’t want you to feel like you need to do this or you deserve this in anyway,” Nicole tried to hold back the tears threatening to release from her eyes. This wasn’t about her, it was about Waverly.

“I promise, Nicole. I promise,” the brunette said softly, weakly, still looking down at the floor.

“Alright, I’ll just change and head—”

“No, it’s fine. You can return them later, don’t worry about it.” Waverly’s head shot up and she gave the deputy a look that Nicole couldn’t quite place… something a bit different than embarrassment, but with an urgency.

“Alright, Waverly. Be safe, and I’ll check in tomorrow, if you want,” Nicole grabbed her uniform, slipped on her boots, and stood by the door, looking back a minute as if debating.

“Tomorrow? Say, downstairs at seven?” Nicole asked once more.

“Tomorrow at seven.” The last thing Nicole saw before finally heading out and closing the door behind her was Waverly Earp, smiling at her with her messy bun, tight shirt, and low hanging sweatpants from the side of her bed.

Chapter Text

When Nicole left around midnight, Waverly knew she would have a lot of thinking to do. About everything.

Waverly had more or less come out and told Nicole how she felt, how she made her feel. Well… she hadn’t exactly told Nicole it was her that she was talking about, but who else could it have been? She worked, read, spent some time with Champ, and all the rest of the time she was with Nicole. They hung out almost everyday and she even brought her coffee and lunch to the station on a couple occasions. Who else would she have been talking about? Either Nicole really was so oblivious that she didn’t see how Waverly looked at her, how her whole mood changed for the better whenever she was around, or that was her way or rejecting her.

That was why Waverly had asked her to go home. She wanted Nicole to stay, to hold her, to sleep with her, to wrap her in her arms, to kiss her…. But Nicole didn’t seem to want that, and Waverly was a little too tipsy and emotional to trust herself to not do something embarrassing. To not do something she would regret. As it was, Waverly had already come so close to kissing her, to finishing the cheating she had started when spending time with Nicole, knowing her feelings for her. Which was also why she told Nicole she could return her clothes later… the idea of Nicole changing in the bathroom, right on the other side of the door, might have been too much for her to handle in her state. Mixed with the thought of possible rejection from this girl, she needed to sort things out for herself. Besides, as it was, Nicole in that tight fitted tee, clinging to her toned stomach, while her fingertips drew circles on Waverly’s hip bone during the movie had the brunette practically melting into the bed. She would probably have to change her underwear at this point, and that didn’t help her to feel any less guilty about the whole Champ situation.

Regardless of how Nicole felt about her, there was a lot of truth in what the ginger had said about Waverly’s own happiness. There was still a confliction in her mind about whether or not she deserved to be happy, but she did know it wasn’t fair to Champ to keep up this charade. She knew how she felt with Nicole, and she had never felt that way with Champ. She didn’t think she ever could feel that way with him.

Even though Nicole said what she was doing wasn’t cheating, Waverly still couldn’t help but feel like, in a way, she was. Champ was her boyfriend, but she hadn’t done anything for him in months, and then… and then Nicole. She had almost kissed her tonight… she knew that if Nicole had come any closer, she wouldn’t have been able to stop herself and that would be that. In no world would that not be considered cheating.

She was going to have to talk to Champ, figure out where things stood with him, and maybe even break up with him. Even if Nicole didn’t like her as more than a friend, maybe she was right that she could find her happiness with someone else— or maybe even on her own.

If nothing else, she would at least have to try.

* * * * * *

After reading for quite a while to relax herself and then getting a few more hours of sleep (crying is very emotionally and physically exhausting), Waverly finally made her way down to the bar around eleven the next morning. She had hoped that Shorty would have the night shift again, and she couldn’t be sure since she didn’t have the schedule, but she was pretty sure he had a mid today, meaning that when she walked down the stairs, he would probably be right there. She would probably have to talk to him.

Steeling herself for an uncomfortable conversation, especially with how guilty she felt, Waverly made her way slowly down the stairs. Sure enough, there Shorty was, wiping down the bar. For some reason, she noticed, there were never any customers around when something uncomfortable was about to happen. Wasn’t that just her luck?

For a moment, she considered just trying to sneak past Shorty, and she debated about whether it would be easier to try and escape out the back or through the front door. Sighing, she realized she was just going to have to suck it up and deal with him. Well, not deal with him, but she could tell that this conversation was not going to be fun, ideal, or anything but very awkward and she was less than excited, to say the least.

“Hey… there…” Waverly started awkwardly, trying to smile at Shorty, but it ended up looking more like a grimace. Shorty turned around to face the young woman, placing the rag on the bar top.

“I’m sorry—” they both said at the same time, stopping when they realized the other was talking. The mood lightened a bit as they both laughed at the awkward situation and their talking over the other.

“Wait, why are you apologizing?” Waverly’s brow crinkled in confusion.

“I… I said some things. I was angry. And, you know, I’m not taking it back, he can’t live here anymore. But… I shouldn’t have yelled at you like I did. I care about you, kid. I just want you to be happy.” He always looked so visibly uncomfortable when expressing his emotions, it amused Waverly a bit. However, she was glad he was doing it.

“I shouldn’t have run out on my shift, Shorty. That was unprofessional and I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“Kid, I kicked out your… boyfriend,” Waverly could see Shorty attempting to not roll his eyes at the word, but it didn’t work out that well, “and then I kind of yelled at you, which was completely unprofessional. But that’s what happens when you… you know, care about people.”

“I know, Shorty,” Waverly looked at the man in front of her and for a moment he seemed so much older, tired, small. He seemed as though he had lived through a thousand lives and suffered through so many hardships, almost stopping Waverly from what she was about to say next, but she knew she had to. “It’s just… Shorty,” she took a deep breath, “I know you have every right to kick out whoever you want from your place, and I’m not arguing that, and you have every right to give me advice but… I don’t know. I just think that maybe I need to make my own mistakes and figure things out on my own. And, Shorty, I appreciate it, but it’s just… it’s pushing. And I just shut down with that. Maybe you’re right… I don’t know, Shorty. I don’t know what I’m doing,” Waverly stopped her rambling because she knew that if she kept going, she would likely just start crying, and that wouldn’t do either of them any good.

“I know, kid. We both made mistakes last night. Chalk it up to even?”

“That sounds good, Shorty. Thank you.”

“Yeah, sure, kid. Long as it means we can stop talking feelings like this,” he said gruffly, turning back around to pick up the rag.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Waverly shot the man a grin, walking out the door, still not feeling quite herself, but a lot better than she was just less than twenty-four hours ago. She made her way down the street, preparing herself for having to walk into Gus’s house for the first time in over four months; for the first time since Curtis died. Champ had texted her that Gus was letting him stay in her spare bedroom—of course she was. She probably thought that by letting him stay there, she could get Waverly to talk to her again, but she was still angry. Waverly couldn’t find it in herself to forgive some things… things that had ruined everything. Regardless, Gus would be at work at this point, so going over would just mean she would have to go into the house, not see the woman herself. Going into the house would still be almost nice, though. She had a lot of good memories there with Uncle Curtis, so it would be nice to be able to be around things that reminded her of him, of the good part of her growing up.

Finally, after about a twenty minute walk, Waverly made her way to a big house, on the edge of town where the yards started putting distance in between neighbors, so that they might not have to interact or, when the houses got far enough part, even see each other. This house was right near town so while the yard was large, it was still in viewing distance of the neighbors.

Walking past the remains of Uncle Curtis’s prized tomato plants (the one true love of his life), Waverly made her way up the steps and knocked on the door. She had texted Champ earlier that she wanted to talk to him and would be over soon, but she hadn’t received a response, so she was wondering if he might actually be still asleep. To her surprise, though, Champ opened the door with a huge grin on his face.

“Hey, baby,” he said, grabbing her waist and pulling her close to him.

“Champ,” Waverly put her hands on his shoulders, keeping distance between their bodies, “We… we need to talk,” she started, faltering. Was she really doing this? Was she really risking everything, just to end up alone?

“Yeah, of course, baby. Maybe we could go up to my room, since I don’t know where I’m allowed to be down here? Gus is kind of scary, you know?”

“You mean the guest bedroom?” Waverly asked. My old room.

“Yeah, baby. Remember what we used to do in there? Woooo, those were some good times,” he winked at her, leading her up the stairs. When they got to the room, Waverly noticed that it looked completely different. It was… bland. The walls were now a light beige, the bedding a light grey, the wooden floors even seemed dull now. It was as though there was no life left in it… for a moment she was visited by the memories of Uncle Curtis sitting in the room with her, when there was color, life, happiness in the room. Shaking her head and hopefully shaking the memories away as well, she sat down at the edge of the bed, as far as possible from Champ.

“Listen, about yesterday…” Waverly started, but soon found herself interrupted.

“Baby, I am so sorry… you were right. It’s just I was so drunk and you’re so sexy,” Waverly flinched slightly when he put a hand on her thigh, a little too high for comfort, “and it was really hard to help myself.”

“Champ… I think… I think we need to—”

“Hey,” Champ cut her off, “baby, I love you. And just think about that for a minute. You’re amazing, and I know that, but you’re an Earp,” he spit the name, “You’re an Earp, and that’s all people are going to see. I love you, isn’t that enough?” he shifted closer to her on the bed.

“Champ, I just… Nicole—”

“Wait, that butch ginger cop?”

“She’s not butch—”

“Waverly, I don’t like her. She just rubs me the wrong way, and I don’t trust her. You shouldn’t listen to what she says. Plus, I’ve been with you for years. I know you, I know your family, I know this town. I can keep you safe, I love you. I’ll stay with you, so you won’t have to be alone.” Suddenly, his hand was on her cheek, rough and just there. She wanted it off. But was he right? Would she end up alone if she broke up with him now? He was right, in a way. She was an Earp. Who in their right mind would date an Earp? And she had been with him for years.

“Champ—”

“Yes, baby?” His lips were now leaving sloppy kisses along, her neck, to the point where she thought he might just be licking it.

“Champ, please, don’t…” His hands were on her breasts, groping hard, rough, painfully.

“Shhh, it’s okay, baby, I love you.”

“Champ,” a sob caught in her throat as he tore her pants down and ripped her shirt down the middle.

“I love you,” he whispered as he unzipped his own pants.

Finally giving up, she lay back on the bed, tears streaming silently down from her emotionless eyes as she stared at the lifeless coloring on the walls.

Chapter Text

Nicole arrived at Shorty’s around five o’clock. She was a couple hours early, she knew that, but there were a couple reasons why she was already there. On one hand, she was hoping that Waverly might be there and want to meet up before their seven o’clock time. On the other hand, she was having a hard time with what had happened last night and just needed a bit of time to relax and have a drink.

Nicole couldn’t help but think that it was selfish how she was having difficulties with this, especially since Waverly was the one who was hurting so much. She just hated how much the other girl was hurting, how Nicole didn’t know how to help her, to fix it. She didn’t think she could at all. If there was one thing Nicole hated, it was being helpless, not in control, and in this situation, that was exactly how she felt. She wanted to make everything better for Waverly, for the sweet, kind soul that could never hurt anyone, but she knew that there was nothing she could do. She could try and protect her against the outside world—she would do everything in her power to do that—but what could the deputy do if the person hurting Waverly the most was herself? How could she fix that?

“Hey, Shorty,” the ginger said, sitting down at the bar. She was wearing dark, skinny jeans, with brown lace up boots and a light blue, tight-fitting tee. Her hair was pulled back at the top, straighter today than in previous days, falling to just above her shoulders.

“Hello, Officer—”

“Off duty, Shorty. Nicole is fine,” she shot him a dimpled smile.

“Right then. Waverly’s still out, if that’s who you’re looking for,” He eyed the redhead knowingly, causing her to face to heat up. Truth be told, the news did disappoint a bit, but it was probably for the best that she relax a bit first.

“No… I mean, I’m meeting her around seven, but I just wanted to get a drink first if that’s alright.”

“Well, seeing how this is a bar, I suppose it’s fine.” Nicole couldn’t tell if Shorty was being sarcastic in a friendly way or not, but she wanted to think he was chiding her approvingly.

“Um… I guess I’ll just have a beer? Whatever you’ve got on tap?”

“Coming right up,” the old man sauntered away towards the beer nozzles. A memory of Waverly over there suddenly came back, more vivid than it had ever been before. Of her spraying herself with beer, the wet top becoming slightly see-through, getting stuck trying to take it off, how close they were when Nicole went over to help…

“Hey there! I’ve seen you around here before, just wanted to introduce myself,” a cheery voice jolted her out of her memories, and as quickly as it came, it was gone. She had the memory of the memory, but couldn’t quite get a grasp of the nuances of what had happened. Nicole turned to the stranger, a little upset about her day dreaming being cut short.

“Hi…?” She looked at the young man in front of her. He was young, with warm brown eyes and a charming, somewhat awkward smile. Shorty came by and placed the beer in front of her, so she gave him a quick smile in thanks and turned back to the stranger at her side.

“Hi! I’m Jeremy. I’m new to town; just got a job at the biotech company here—”

“We have a biotech company?” Nicole asked, incredulous, but Jeremy just kept going, so Nicole decided to just listen and sip on her beer, seeing as she probably wasn’t going to get a word in edgewise.

“—and I’ve seen you in here a few times. I thought you seemed nice enough and you know, it’s hard in this town because, like, have you noticed everybody’s a little cliquey? I’m just trying to fit in, you know, find my space, and it’s super hard. But I figured, you know, you mainly just talk to the bartender and I don’t mean to be presumptuous but I thought maybe you might be newer here too and it would also be nice to have some gay friends—”

“What?” Nicole choked on her beer and sputtered, accidentally spitting some of it on Jeremy’s face. He wiped the drops off nonchalantly, as though it were no big deal.

“You and the bartender? You’re together right?” Jeremy asked, eyebrows knitted in confusion, “‘Cause you guys definitely look like it. You know, with the always staring at each other, and the touching, and her ignoring other customers like me…”

“Um… uh… no… we’re not… she’s not… she has a boyfriend,” Nicole mumbled, turning bright red and staring down at her beer. Had she been that obvious with her feelings? She thought she was hiding it pretty well, but apparently not.

“Oooh, I’m sorry,” Jeremy said, looking as though everything made sense now.

“It’s not… we’re not… she’s not…” Nicole couldn’t seem to put into words what she was thinking. Actually, she wasn’t even sure what she was thinking at this point, how to refute this when what Jeremy thought was happening was all she ever wanted.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make assumptions. But, like, you are gay, right? I can’t be that far off-base.”

“Um… well… yeah. I am,” Nicole muttered, steeling herself for the words of disgust she had become so used to hearing when admitting that. The ginger was confident in her actions, but when it came to saying it out loud, it was a little different. She had so many bad experiences coming out to people, so many negative connotations placed on the words “gay” and “lesbian” throughout her life that she still found it hard to say them out loud.

“Oh, awesome. Me too,” Jeremy smiled at her. Nicole realized that she had just had a positive reaction to her coming out—something that had never happened before. Either she came out to receive a negative reaction, or people just figured it out through her flirting with girls and she never had to say it out loud. This felt weird… but nice. She felt accepted.

“And if it makes you feel any better, boyfriend or not, hot bartender girl’s totally into you too,” he winked at her. Sure, the kid was a little odd, but he was nice. Nicole had a feeling that they were going to get along. They got to talking more and Nicole found it nice to have a friend… someone she could talk to without having feelings for, other than Lonnie. Lonnie was great, but there was something nice about being able to talk to someone from outside of her job, someone who was also gay. They didn’t even talk about it that much, but it was still comforting to know it was something they had in common, that Nicole wasn’t alone in this town. She and Jeremy were outsiders, sure, but now at least they were outsiders together.

Before she knew it, it was 7:15 and Waverly still hadn’t shown up.

“Hey, Shorty,” Nicole asked, putting her conversation with Jeremy on pause for a moment, “Do you know where Waverly went or if she plans on coming back soon?”

“Sorry, kid. No clue. She left around noon. Haven’t seen or heard from her since. Said somethin’ bout going to see Champ though,” Shorty answered gruffly, but Nicole could tell he was worried.

“Right,” Nicole sighed, “Maybe I’ll just text her,” she muttered, pulling out her phone when she felt Jeremy tap her softly on the shoulder.

“Door,” he muttered, turning around and staring at his drink and the bartop. The ginger chuckled at Jeremy, who, by turning around, was attempting to give the two privacy in the crowded bar. She didn’t think that was going to work too well, but she appreciated the effort. So, Nicole turned around to see Waverly, arms wrapped around herself, looking down at the floor and appearing as though she was freezing.

“Waverly,” Nicole called out, standing up and starting to walk over. The brunette stopped in her tracks and looked up at the ginger in front of her.

“Shit,” the younger woman muttered, and Nicole could now see why Waverly was walking with such purpose and determination to the stairs. Her eyes were red and her face blotchy, as though she had just spent hours crying, and she was shivering. Nicole’s heart broke to see her like this. She assumed she had just broken up with Champ which, ass though he was, must have been hard for Waverly, seeing as he was really all she had known for years.

“Are you okay? Did you…?”

“Um… uh… I have to go. I’m sorry, I totally forgot and I… I just can’t tonight,” the brunette choked out.

“Waverly, what happened?” the ginger reached out a hand to place on Waverly’s hand; her skin felt like ice, “Are you okay? You’re freezing.”

“I just… I needed a walk. I went on a walk. For a few…” the brunette looked towards the clock on the wall with a curious expression on her face, “...hours.” The young woman looked around the bar, at the faces staring at her. She seemed to register that Nicole wasn’t going away anytime soon and decided that she didn’t want to do this, to have this sort of conversation, with an audience, “Listen, if you really want to talk, five minutes, but upstairs okay?” When Nicole nodded, the brunette led her up the staircase, stopping at the landing before the door and not opening up, turning to face Nicole.

“What happened?” the redhead asked. She was worried. Waverly was acting weird—she knew she had only known the woman for about a month now, but from what Nicole had seen and heard from others, she normally wasn’t like this. Cold, cut off, not talking to her. Even when she had stopped texting the deputy, as soon as Nicole had been in close physical proximity, Waverly had opened up to her. But this time? She could tell something was different, something was off.

“Nothing,” Waverly’s voice cracked, “Nothing happened because this is how it’s going to be. That person, Nicole? They’ll never like me, and you know Champ, he… he loves me. I don’t want to be alone. I can’t risk it all just to end up alone. And I went there to… to try and do it but he knows and he doesn’t care, he just loves me anyways and wants to stay with me so I can’t give that up.”

“Waves…” it was then that Nicole noticed the rip in the girl’s shirt, the tear in her jeans, the bruise on her wrist. Waverly was wearing a jacket, but if Nicole was a betting woman, she would have bet there were a few on her arms as well. Something coursed through her then, an emotion she had never felt before. Realizing what had probably happened, a white hot rage burned in her mind, right alongside a deep, agonizing sadness. She hated Champ for doing this to Waverly—to anyone—but she also felt pure agony over the fact that Waverly had let him do this. That she thought she was worthless enough to deserve this. That he probably drove her to think that so he could have his way with her. That even after this, she was still with him, still defending him. “Did he do this,” it wasn’t exactly a question; Nicole spoke the words with cold discipline, the anger behind her eyes burning bright.

“Nicole, don’t…”

“Did. He.”

“I can’t do this right now, Nicole. I just… I need to go,” a single tear rolled down her cheek.

“Waverly, do you need something? Do you want me to file a report?”

“No!” She shouted the word out and Nicole felt the word hit her with a force that almost had her toppling backwards down the stairs. Waverly took a deep breath, closing her eyes. “No. I just need you to go,” the reply wasn’t angry, the words were just very deliberate. If anything, that hurt Nicole more. This wasn’t Waverly in the heat of the moment, angry at everything. This was Waverly making a decision. This was Waverly asking her to leave. Nicole remembered that she had told Waverly, if she ever wanted Nicole to leave, just say the word and she would go. Now that it had come to that, the redhead didn’t want to leave her alone, especially not now.

“Are you going to be okay? Are you going to be safe?” the ginger asked through a lump in her throat.

“I will be fine, just please… please go,” the brunette’s eyes were still closed when she spoke the words softly, but with determination.

“Ok,” Nicole answered, turning to go down the stairs, breath catching in her throat as she tried to stop the sobs from racking her body. When she got down the stairs she kept walking, through the door, out of the bar, across the street. She wasn’t even sure where she was going, she was just going. Soon, there was someone at her side, a hand on her shoulder. She was on the ground, crying, holding on, small, helpless… she was helpless. She laid on the cold, wet grass, sobbing into Jeremy’s shirt, knowing that there was nothing she could do to help Waverly, and that killed her.

Chapter Text

She was empty.

That was the only word to describe this feeling, this hole in her heart, in the pit of her stomach. This hollow feeling, not exactly there but all-consuming. It was like someone had taken a spoon and scooped out all her insides, like she shouldn’t be able to breathe anymore because she couldn’t feel the presence of her heart or lungs but somehow she still could.

Shorty had come to check on her; he told her she didn’t need to show up for her next few shifts if she didn’t want to. He was trying to help, but didn’t know how. He said Nicole had told him to see her, to make sure Waverly was doing alright.

Nicole.

What had she done? Nicole was just trying to help, to be there for her, and she pushed her away. She had looked her in the eyes and coldly told her to go, to leave her alone. She had seen the hurt in the redhead’s eyes, and Waverly had caused that. She had caused her pain.

The emptiness somehow grew deeper.

Over the past couple of days, ever since that night, Nicole hadn’t texted her. Hadn’t tried to come see her. Waverly had been the one to tell her to go away, but she realized now just what she had done. She had ruined everything and sure, Nicole probably didn’t want her like Waverly wanted her, but now she wouldn’t be in her life at all, and the brunette didn’t know how to handle that. In such a short time, the ginger deputy had come to mean so much to Waverly—she was a spot of light on an otherwise dark horizon. Now, Nicole probably hated her for how she had acted, what she had said, the look she gave her. She probably hated Waverly, and Waverly probably deserved it.

Waverly had lost Nicole, and all because she couldn’t break up with Champ. Because she had let him do what he wanted with her. Because when she got back, she hated herself and she thought if Nicole knew what had happened, if she had admitted what Champ had done, what she had let Champ do, that maybe Nicole would think that she was disgusting and weak. Waverly didn’t want that, so she pushed her away and out of her life. She lost her because she was weak and didn’t know how to fight for what she wanted. For who she wanted.

It was then, thinking about Nicole, that something clicked for Waverly. She had to talk to Champ. Maybe, once she got there, she wouldn’t break up with him, but they had to talk this time. She wasn’t going to let him do anything with her this time; they would sit at the dining room table, on opposite sides, and they would talk. She wouldn’t let him touch her this time. Waverly had messed everything up with Nicole, but she knew the redhead had been right about a lot of things. She needed to get away from Champ, even if it meant being alone. She was already feeling empty and isolated, what did it matter if she cut him off as well? Knowing her, it might not actually go down that way, but it was worth a try. She was destroying herself, and maybe getting rid of Champ would start to help the healing process.

If nothing else, it was worth a shot.

And so she left for Gus’s.

She felt like she was in a daze, walking to Gus’s. She didn’t call or text Champ, letting him know she would be coming. He was probably going to be there. A part of her hoped he wasn’t though, and that she would be able to avoid doing this. Still, she walked.

Waverly made her way up the driveway, noticing a motorcycle parked in the driveway along with Champ’s truck. Either Gus got a new ride, which Waverly thought very unlikely, or Champ was deliberately disobeying the no guests rule the brunette was sure Gus had put in place.

She knocked and rang the doorbell but there was no answer so, after a couple minutes, Waverly walked into the house. She called out Champ’s name, but there was loud music playing from upstairs, so she knew he wouldn’t be able to hear her. He was probably playing video games or something with one of his friends again; he always liked to blast the music to a deafening loudness when he did that.

Nothing, though, could have prepared Waverly for what she saw when she walked through the door. Sure, she had seen a similar scene on a couple other occasions, but this time was different. She could just hear the moans over the sound of the music, she could see the two bodies moving against each other, a brunette writhing on top of Champ until the boy finally noticed his girlfriend standing in the doorway, shocked, hurt. The girl turned around to face Waverly finally, eyes widening in shock.

“Waverly?”

“Wynonna?”

Chapter Text

“Nicole… please,” a soft hand caressed her cheek and the redhead instinctively turned into it. A thumb wiped away a tear sneaking down her face.

“Waverly,” she choked back a sob. Her heart hurt. There was no other word for it. She wanted Waverly, but she also wanted her to be happy, to feel like she was enough. She wanted to help her, to do something to let her know that she was enough, but she didn’t know how.

So Nicole held the brunette’s head between her hands and stared into the beautiful woman’s eyes, her desire and intentions clear in the look she gave.

“Please,” the younger woman gave her consent breathily, and Nicole leaned in, bringing her lips closer…

BRAYNK… BRAYNK… BRAYNK...

Nicole groaned as her alarm clock woke her and she rolled over in bed to turn it off.

A dream. That’s all it was, all it would ever be. Waverly had made that clear when she asked Nicole to leave, so coldly. But Nicole’s heart hurt for the woman, so broken, and what she had gone through that day. She didn’t know what to do or how to help her, but she didn’t want to make things worse by trying to push Waverly, make her talk when she wasn’t ready. She knew she shouldn’t make the first move, at least not this early. So, for the past couple of days, Nicole hadn’t texted the girl or had any contact with her at all. She had stopped by to tell Shorty to keep an eye on Waverly, make sure she was doing okay, and to pay her tab from when she had walked out. He waved Nicole off, telling her that it was one beer on him; he seemed obviously curious and concerned regarding what had happened with Waverly, but Nicole knew it wasn’t her place to tell him.

And so she went through the motions, feeling as though she had failed in some way. She had failed Waverly. The girl she promised herself she was going to protect at all costs was hurt, alone, and there was nothing she could do about it.

* * * * * *

“Morning, Haught,” Lonnie said gently, cautiously, when Nicole walked into the station. Today she knew she looked awful, even more so than when Lonnie had told her she looked like shit that morning about a month and a half ago by now. The morning he told her she was going to the bar with him. The morning before she met Waverly, before she got a little bit too drunk and slept in her bed. The morning before she met the girl that brightened up her whole world and then tore her apart.

“Haught?”

“Lonnie, sorry. Hi,” Nicole dragged herself over to her desk, but she didn’t feel like she was in her body, more just looking at it from the outside. She tried to flash him a smile, but she could tell it just fell flat.

“Haught.”

“Lonnie, I’m fine. Please just let me work,” her voice came out harsh and unkind. She knew Lonnie didn’t deserve that; he was only trying to help. Still, she couldn’t do this right now. So, she put her head down and started her paperwork. Normally, Nicole hated paperwork. She found it annoying and repetitive. Today though, the repetition was nice and welcoming. It gave her something to do, something to keep her mind busy, a purpose. And so the redheaded deputy barely even noticed as the hours slipped by and suddenly it was one o’clock, she had skipped lunch, and she wasn’t even hungry.

“Nicole,” a gentle hand was placed on her shoulder. The ginger deputy looked up to see Lonnie standing by her side, a kind expression on his face. She hadn’t even noticed him coming up behind her… usually she was on top of stuff like that. Stuff that it was necessary for a Sheriff’s deputy to be on top of. Like getting snuck up on. Nicole really needed to get her shit together.

“Lonnie, hey, I’m sorry about before—”

“Hey, Haught, don’t sweat it. I get it, alright? And I know you’re… I know. We just got a call for a probable 10-56 we gotta head out to.” He spoke kindly, but with an urgency.

“Shit,” Nicole jumped up, grabbing her jacket and following Lonnie out the door. They drove down towards the center of town in silence, save for the blaring of the sirens. About five minutes in, Nicole finally spoke.

“You said 10-56, not 10-56A?”

“Yeah,” Lonnie looked in her direction with sad expression, refusing the meet her eyes, before turning back to the road.

“Where?” Nicole managed through a lump in her throat, terrible thoughts racing through her head. She knew what a 10-56 was, what it meant. What if…

She couldn’t go there. Not yet. Not until she knew.

“Outskirts of town, past Johnson’s farm.” The redhead relaxed a bit, but there was still a part of her, a voice in the back of her head, a worry that kept eating at her. Lonnie gave her a look, as though he could read her mind, the thoughts plaguing her. “You good?”

“Yeah, fine. Just… got an ID?”

“Dispatch didn't say. Just got the call. Said young girl, 20s. But we’ll be there in another five.” But to Nicole, those five minutes felt like hours. The images, gruesome and terrible, flooded her mind. What if it was her? What if she had failed her in the worst possible way? Finally, they pulled up to the house; the medics were already there. Nicole walked up with Lonnie in a daze. She was doing her job, she was interacting, and yet she felt as though she was watching from outside of her body. They walked up the stairs to the bathroom…

There was water. Red water, overflowing the tub. Long, brown hair flowing over the side, wet and matted. Nicole went over to the tub, tore back the curtain and there, floating in the deep, red water, fully clothed, was Waverly. Cold, alone. A peaceful expression on her face, but those eyes… the eyes that held so much light… they were empty and unseeing.

10-56A: Suicide Attempt

10-56: Suicide

Nicole’s heart stopped in her chest as she stared. What had she done? Why didn’t she do something more? Could she have done more? She stood in shock, her whole body vibrating, and yet not moving.

Nicole blinked, and suddenly it was someone else lying in the tub. A young girl with shoulder length blonde hair. A girl with her whole life ahead of her, who felt so alone that she had to resort to this. A girl who was beautiful and likely kind, smart, and funny. A girl people cared about.

“Nicole?” She had been standing, staring, and she didn’t know how long she had been there. Lonnie’s hand gently led her to the side, as he took over, taking notes on the scene, instructing the medics, talking to the grieving family. She stared, helpless, unable to do anything, until she finally told Lonnie she was going to go back to the cruiser. He nodded, giving her a concerned look as she took her leave.

She sat, she didn’t know how long, her mind going in circles.

What if that had been Waverly? She thought she had done the right thing by leaving when the brunette asked her to, but what if she had left her feeling so alone that she would resort to that? What if she had left her feeling so alone that Waverly had felt as though there was no one there for her, as though Nicole didn’t care? What if she had failed Waverly in the worst possible way?

For an hour, Nicole sat in the car, staring out the window, until Lonnie finally got back into the car and they drove off the property in silence.

“Nicole,” Lonnie started tentatively after a bit, “I know you’re senior partner, and I respect the hell out of you, you know that. And I haven’t seen you shy away from any of the shit on this job before, so I know there’s got to be something going on.”

“Yeah,” the redhead finally spoke, her forehead placed against the cool window of the cruiser, “It’s uh… I had a… a friend dealing with some stuff like that recently and I haven’t talked to her in a couple days and I just… I thought it was her. I saw that girl and I… I still thought it was her. They look nothing alike, but... ,” she furrowed her brow, feeling her heart constrict in her throat.

“Shit,” Lonnie muttered, a look of realization coming to eyes.

“Damn it, Lonnie, what if it had been her?”

“Nicole, it wasn’t. That’s all that matters. And for the love of God, just go talk to Waverly and tell her how you feel, Haught. I’ve seen the way she looks at you, like you’re the world. Just tell her. Don't keep letting her push you away. Do this for yourself and for her.”

“I wasn’t—it wasn’t—”

“Nicole, I know. I’m not going to say anything, but man, I get it. And that’s rough. But you know, the job. It comes first.”

“Jesus. Shit. I know. I’m… I’m sorry. And it won’t happen again it was just…”

“Too real?” Lonnie offered a small, sad smile.

“Too real.”

“Hey, I know it won’t happen again. Bad timing.” They pulled into the station and Lonnie put the car in park, but didn’t turn it off. “Listen. I’m going to go do the paperwork inside. Do you maybe want to head out on patrol for the rest of your shift?” Nicole knew that by patrol, Lonnie meant that he was giving Nicole the chance to get out for a bit, away from this case, away from the reality of the situation, and drive. Clear her head. Escape. She remembered having done the same for Lonnie after his mother passed, and she appreciated the gesture.

“Yeah… um… thank you, Lonnie. Really.”

“‘Course. But this means if there’s some asshole drunk driver at three o’clock in the afternoon, you gotta take it,” he gave the redhead a wink.

“Of course, I am still on duty,” Nicole tried to return his smile, but she wasn’t sure it turned out exactly like that. He gave her a slightly awkward pat on the shoulder and exited the car. Nicole made her way over to the other side of the car as Lonnie headed into the station to get started on the paperwork.

Nicole drove. She drove, and drove, and drove. She didn’t even realize where she was going, she was just driving. She didn’t realize when the houses started to get farther and farther apart, and suddenly she was near the edge of town, where houses sat so far apart they couldn’t even see their neighbors.

Sighing, Nicole parked the car and sighed, thinking about where she was. Not just in town—because where the hell was she—but in her life. She had messed up today, bad. She had let her own personal shit get in the way of her job, and she couldn’t do that again. But God… what if that had been Waverly? What if the girl of her dreams had been the one lying in that bathtub, bled out? What if Waverly had felt that low, died believing that there was no one there for her, that no one cared, that Nicole didn’t care? If only Waverly knew… if only she knew how much Nicole actually did care about her. If only she knew she would drop everything if Waverly only said the word, that she would do whatever she wanted if Waverly only asked her. The deputy would do anything for that girl; she just wished she could have the courage to tell her that.

Taking a deep breath, Nicole looked up to try to get some sort of grasp of where she was in town, if she was even still in town. She wasn’t even sure how long she had been driving. On one side, there were what appeared to be miles of fields and a lake. On the other, an old, beat down ranch. And there, on the road in front of her, a figure was walking down the road, arms wrapped around herself, looking as though she were shivering. An oddly familiar figure, with a petite body and long, brunette locks braided down her back.

“Waverly?” Nicole muttered to herself, beginning to drive down the road to catch up with the retreating figure.

Chapter Text

“Wynonna?” Waverly stared at her sister, who, along with, Champ, was now scrambling to put clothes back on. She stood in the doorway, not really seeing, just staring, confused and unsure of why her sister was even there at all.

“Waverly, what are you—” Wynonna started to say before she was interrupted.

“Baby, I can explain,” Champ cut in, pleading with Waverly as he pulled a t-shirt over his head. He stood there, giving her his best puppy dog eyes, in only the t-shirt and a pair of faded blue jeans—no socks or shoes.

“Baby? Are you—oh, shitbuckets,” Wynonna finished pulling on her boots, looking extremely annoyed with the turn the situation had taken. Waverly finally took her eyes off of her sister, a face she hadn’t seen in years, and turned to face Champ.

“Champ, we’re done.” She spoke flatly. Waverly had thought this was going to be hard, that this was going to feel as though her whole life were crashing down around her, but it was surprisingly easy. The words fell out of her mouth as though they were a long time coming—and perhaps they were.

“Baby, please—”

“No, Champ. We’re done,” Waverly began to feel elated at how much she didn’t care that they were over. Her world didn’t come crashing down around her, she didn’t shrivel up into nothing. She was done, and so they were done. It just felt right. It probably helped that she had just caught him shagging her sister, but she decided to take this victory as her own. With that, the young brunette turned on her heels, walked out of the room, and began down the stairs.

“Waverly!” She heard a voice call down from the top of the stairs. Shit. In the midst of finally breaking up with Champ and realizing it wasn’t as difficult as she had thought it would be, she had practically forgotten that her sister was there. Schtupping her boyfriend. Well, ex-boyfriend now. Waverly had just finally gotten the courage to break up with him and she really didn’t have the energy to deal with Wynonna right now.

“Babe—” Waverly heard Champ start to call out as she continued down the hall to the front door, but he was cut off by what sounded like a loud whack and then a shout of pain.

Knowing Wynonna, Champ had just gotten a fist to the face, and Waverly couldn’t help but smirk a bit at the thought. Not that that made anything better, not that she wanted to see her sister any more now than she did before. Wynonna couldn’t just disappear for years and then come back and pretend everything was normal, pretend everything was like it had been… though, to be fair, it had never been normal. Still, Waverly was not in the mood. She was mentally and emotionally drained, and it was finally really sinking in that she had just kicked out of her life the person she had spent the last five years dating. She stopped talking to Gus, Curtis had died, Champ was gone, Wynonna was back, she had started to feel things for a girl who she then also kicked out of her life… everything was starting to change and it was scaring the hell out of her.

“Waverly,” Wynonna finally caught up to Waverly at the end of Gus’s driveway, putting a hand on her shoulder and urging her to stop.

“What, Wynonna?” Waverly turned to face her sister, fully seeing her now rather than just staring through her. Her hair was a darker shade of brown with waves that always looked to be the right balance of shiny, but not too shiny. She had dimples on either side of her face, quite large, and intense blue eyes that seemed to burn straight down to the core of whoever she was looking at. She was wearing tight blue skinny jeans with tall black boots. She wore a light grey t-shirt sporting the words “Whisky Made Me Do It,” almost completely covered by a black leather jacket. Her sister was undoubtedly to most very sexy, but all she was to Waverly at this moment was a pain in her ass.

“Girl, I haven’t seen you in ages. You grew out your...,” Wynonna looked over the brunette’s body, hands cupped by her chest as if she were about to say something very different from what came out next, “...hair.” She tried to play it off with a smile, but she very soon got the impression that Waverly was not having it so as quickly as she had put in on, she dropped the smile, “Okay, so you gotta believe me, baby girl, I thought for sure you dumped that hot piece of shit years ago. I’ve met bricks with more brains than that guy, and didn’t you get the smart award in school?”

“Valedictorian?”

“Yeah, that one. Point is, I didn’t know, I swear,” Wynonna pleaded with her.

“Wynonna, I really don’t care. I was going to break up with him anyways, I just can’t do this right now. I don’t want to deal with you right now,” Waverly took a deep breath and started walking down the road again, further away from town, further away from the hurt expression now on her sister’s face.

“Waverly, where are you going?”

“Away from here, away from you, Wynonna. I’ll talk to you later if you stick around that long,” the young brunette shouted from the road, a slight bitterness in her tone.

“Hey!” the older sister shouted, offended, but then seemed to think about it for a moment, “No, yeah, I guess I deserved that. But I am this time. I promise. I’m moving back into the homestead,” Wynonna’s voice slowly became more distant with every step Waverly took away from Gus’s, her teenage home, her ex-boyfriend, her sister. She didn’t respond, but she had heard what Wynonna said, and she couldn’t believe it.

Moving back into the homestead? What was Wynonna thinking? Waverly hadn’t been back there since that night, and she lived in town. Now Wynonna, Wynonna who ran from all her problems, who ran right out of town and never looked back, now she was moving back into the house where all their demons lived? It didn’t make any sense. Why would she ever want to go back to that place?

Waverly kept walking, further and further from main street, until suddenly she saw familiar trees around her and she knew where her body was taking her. She didn’t remember making a conscious decision to travel out here, and yet this is where she was. She could barely even recall the middle leg of her journey, actually getting to this place. In the distance, she could see that battered old frame of the homestead. It looked old and weak, as though ready to blow over in the wind at any moment. Waverly could almost hear the screams from that night echoing throughout the emptiness around her. Out here, she was cold, alone, afraid. She stared for a moment longer at the house frame, but didn’t dare get any closer than the main road.

It was then that she realized she must have been walking for a couple hours, as it was usually about a fifteen minute drive from Gus’s to the homestead, twenty from the center of town. At this point, she was already so far on the edge of town, Waverly just kept walking. Maybe, if she walked far enough, she could get out of this town, out of this life, just leave everything behind. Maybe it would be better.

She kept walking, holding her arms tightly against her chest, until all of a sudden, she realized there was a patrol car pulling up beside her, rolling the window down. A patrol car with a certain redheaded deputy that she really did not want to see right now.

“Waverly, what are you doing?” Nicole asked, a look of concern in her eyes.

“Being alone. I want to be alone.” The cutting remark was harsh, but it was true. She was angry at the world, and she didn’t want to be around Nicole where she would probably release her anger onto the unsuspecting ginger.

“Alright, well, you’ve reached the edge of town, so any further out and you’re going to freeze to death. Just get in the car.” Nicole pleaded.

“No thank you.” Waverly cringed at the way in which she said that—so sassy and rude. Nicole was just trying to help her and this was how she repaid her? Though, to be fair, Waverly had said that all she wanted was to be alone right now, and Nicole was not giving her the space she wanted or needed. Not that she didn’t want to ever be around Nicole… but that was the problem, and Waverly needed time to figure out just what she wanted from the deputy.

“I’ve got a taser, don’t you make me use it,” Nicole teased, trying to lighten the mood. Waverly finally stopped in her tracks and the car stopped beside her. She contemplated the options for a moment. She had a feeling Nicole wouldn’t let her keep walking out of town, or even back into town if she turned around. There was one way for this to go as quickly and smoothly as possible, and she now realized that was just by getting in the car. Turning to face Nicole, she rolled her eyes and trudged over to the passenger side, making a show the whole time of the fact that she did not want to do this.

“Okay, so I’ll start,” Nicole said after about five minutes of quiet driving. She was bringing her back to Shorty’s, so they still had a good fifteen minutes ahead of them. “What’s…” she signed, as though unsure of how to phrase what she was going to ask, “What’s going on?” There was no way Nicole could have been prepared for the firestorm that seemingly simple question would unleash.

“I broke up with Champ and Wynonna’s back and everything’s changing around me, but it’s all too fast, you know? And it’s like nobody ever asks me if I’m okay with it. It’s like, could everybody just stand still for one frickin’ minute?” Waverly shouted. Taking a deep breath, she then started mentally kicking herself for how that came out. She was angry at Wynonna and Champ and Gus and Curtis and her own feelings, but she wasn't mad at Nicole. She couldn’t be mad at Nicole. And yet, she had just yelled at her.

“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” the ginger responded soothingly, placing a light hand on Waverly’s thigh reassuringly and glancing at her with a small smile. Waverly stiffened in her seat as her thigh seemed to be set aflame where Nicole’s hand gently rested. But when the ginger noticed Waverly staring down with wide eyes at Nicole’s hand, she quickly removed it.

“I just screamed at you, you shouldn’t be nice to me,” the brunette was confused. Why was Nicole reassuring her? Shouldn’t she be yelling back, calling her names, telling her she was in no place to yell at her? Wasn’t that how these things went?

“Ugh, you know I just think that you’ve been dating too many shitheads,” Nicole smiled and rolled her eyes.

Dating? Waverly thought. Dating? What does that mean? I’m not ready for dating. I just broke up with my boyfriend and I need to figure this out. I need to figure out if I’m not straight. I don’t think I'm straight now, but this is just too fast. Since when were we dating? Dating!?

“We’re not dating!” Waverly cut harshly, her mind going in circles.

Of course, you idiot. She was just saying Champ was a shit head. Didn’t we already discuss that Nicole was probably straight? She doesn’t like you like that, get it together. You’re just yelling at her for no reason now.

“I know,” Nicole was visibly hurt by the coldness with which the brunette spoke, but Waverly thought maybe at this point she might be getting used to it. She kept treating her like shit, even though she definitely did not deserve it. “God, Waverly, I would never ask you to be someone you’re not.”

Wait. What does that mean? Waverly began to overthink and dissect the redhead’s words in record time. Was she not straight? Is that what that meant? Did she feel the same? Or was Waverly reading too much into the words as always?

“Good, just don’t ask me to be anyone at all,” Waverly shot back, terrified and trying to figure out what she was doing, what was happening, but it just came out as anger.

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

“Well… maybe just friends,” Waverly amended, hoping to repair the bridge a bit while she was in the middle of torching it. She glanced over at Nicole, but to her surprise, her request seemed to just upset the deputy more.

“Heh,” Nicole scoffed, “Yeah, sure, Waverly, whatever you want.”

They drove the rest of the way in silence.

Chapter Text

Fine?  She had said fine ?   Whatever you want ?  What was she thinking?

Nicole had just dropped off Waverly and was now headed back to the station to finish up the last few hours of her shift.  

She cared so much about Waverly, she understood exactly where she was coming from, but that hadn’t stopped the words the brunette had said—and the harshness with which she said them—from hurting any less.  But Nicole’s tone when saying fine had come out so harsh, she had sounded so mean, and she wasn’t even quite sure why, especially when she definitely did not mean it to. She would never mean to be anything other than kind to Waverly, yet somehow she had managed to, and that killed her.  

And then the look on Waverly’s face when she thought that Nicole was insinuating they were dating—which is not what she had been saying at all—was heart wrenching.  It was a scared look, one of horror, as though the thought of possibly dating the deputy was some terrifying, awful notion. As though the one thing Nicole had been dreaming about for the past month and a half was a complete nightmare to the brunette.  

Friends was fine, it really was, if that meant that Nicole could still keep Waverly in her life.  She would do anything, anything at all, just to have that sweet, kind, intelligent, wonderful girl in her life, to be able to spend time with her.  She just didn’t even know if they were even friends anymore at this point. First, Waverly had told her in no uncertain terms to leave her alone after she had gotten back from being assaulted by Champ—that was understandable.  But just now, she had been so reluctant to even get in the car with Nicole so she could drive her back to town and the redhead had no idea what she had done. She was trying, so hard. Should she have given her more space, less space?  She knew Waverly wasn’t using her and didn’t mean to do this to her; Nicole was pretty sure Waverly didn’t know what she wanted herself and was just trying her best to figure it out. To be fair, Waverly probably had no idea the pain she was causing Nicole.  

She probably had no idea how she made Nicole feel when she was around her, how the ginger would do anything for her.  The friends thing made it very difficult for Nicole, but she couldn’t fault Waverly for trying to find her way. At least she had finally broken up with Champ—if nothing else, the deputy took that as a good sign.  A sign that Waverly was taking her happiness into her own hands, and finding out what exactly that might look like. Nicole wasn’t sure if she was in this vision of happiness for Waverly yet, but even if she wasn’t, at least Waverly would be getting whatever it was she did want.  

Finally pulling into the station, Nicole made her way back into the office, where Lonnie appeared to be finishing up the last of the paperwork.   

“Haught, patrol go well?” her partner tried not to appear as concerned as he actually was.  

“First of all, Lonnie, seriously thanks for that.  You have no idea how much I appreciated it,” the ginger replied.  As for how it went, she knew he was actually asking her how she was feeling at the moment, “To answer your question… I picked up Waverly trying to walk out of town by way of the old Earp homestead, so yes and no.”

“What?”  Lonnie was clearly shocked and confused at this, but he quickly regained his composure, “Anything you want to talk about with what happened?”

“Not right now, thanks though,” the senior partner replied.  She didn’t want to talk about the just friends thing. Not yet, not while the hurt was still so fresh in her heart.  Glancing down at her desk, at the mountains of paperwork that still needed to be done for other cases, Nicole sighed, running a hand back through her shoulder length red locks.  It was only five at this point and she was working a double, so she still had another seven hours in front of her. The first double she was going to work in over a month without a certain perky brunette bringing her a coffee halfway through… The deputy prepared herself for what she believed were going to be a fairly boring seven hours.  

 What she hoped were going to be a fairly boring seven hours.  

 She was just a little bit wrong.  

 * * * * * *

“Haught, we got a call for a blue truck, license plate One-One-Four-Zulu-Mike-Juliet driving erratically down Main, westward bound.  Registered to…” Lonnie took a second to clack his fingers against the keyboard, “Shit.” His face scrunched at whatever it was that was on his screen.  “You know, I’ll take this one, it’s fine.”

“Lonnie, who is it?” Nicole asked, rolling her eyes.  

“It’s uh… it’s Champ Hardy.”  The ginger tensed at the name, a rage burning in the pit of stomach.  Taking a deep breath, she began walking towards the door.

“I got it, Lonnie,” she said with a cold determination in her eyes.

“Nicole?” Lonnie called with concern after the ginger, but she was already out the door.  

Once in the cruiser, Nicole took a deep breath, calming herself when suddenly the passenger side door was opening.  

“Lonnie.”

“I’m going with you.  You can take lead, do everything, but I’m going.  Just in case he does or says anything afterwards, that way I can have your back.  I know this guy, Haught. He’s a piece of scum,” little did he know, thought the redhead, “so he might try to make up stuff that happened afterwards, and I want to be able to defend you.”  She appreciated what he was doing for her, so Nicole didn’t respond verbally, but instead directed the cruiser out of the parking lot, putting the lights and siren on at the same time.  The ginger sped down main, westward bound, in the direction of the tip they had just received. After about five minutes they finally caught up with the careening vehicle. Nicole pulled right behind the blue truck as it swerved all over the road; thankfully westward Main this far from the center of town had very low traffic, because no spot of road was left untouched by the tires.  

It didn’t seem as though this behind the truck tactic was working though, so, carefully, Nicole pulled up to the side of the truck, rolling down Lonnie’s window.   Nicole focused on the road, trying to time her swerves along with a drunkard’s.

“Champ Hardy, pull over,” Lonnie shouted out the side of the car.  Having almost side swept the cruiser a couple times, Champ finally noticed what was happening and pulled off to the side, stopping so abruptly that the whole vehicle jerked violently back.  The boy-man, sporting a very dark and swollen black eye, opened the door and stumbled out onto the road, tripping and catching himself with his hands. He ended up sprawled out on the pavement, seemingly too drunk to be able to pick himself up.  Nicole walked over to the pathetic looking man, but she felt no pity. Only disgust, anger, and pain for what he had done to Waverly.

“We’re taking you down to the station for a DUI.”  The words were cold, calculated. She didn’t give him the courtesy of calling him by name, of giving him any semblance of a choice in the matter.  She had first of all read him his rights, of course, because even she believed that someone like Champ Hardy should have his rights. Well, less that reasoning and more that if she didn’t, someone found out, and used it against her, she could lose her job.  The second reasoning is probably actually why she read him his rights.

“You,” Champ spit at the ground, eyes burning in fury, but didn’t rise.  

“Last warning.  Get up so we can take you down to this station," Nicole said with dead eyes. When Champ still didn’t pick himself off the ground, Nicole squatted and grabbed him by the bicep to lift him up. 

“Get off me you filthy faggot,” Champ ripped his arm away, glaring at Nicole.  For a moment, the rage in her stomach turned to an emptiness she had known far too often, as memories of that word played back in her head.  It lasted only a moment, and then she was back. She already let her job be affected once today, and she could not let that happen now or ever again.  No matter what he did, no matter what he said. She couldn’t let this filth affect her career.

“Hardy.  Now. Or I will have to cuff you.”  Cold. Harsh.

“You’d like that wouldn’t you, you filthy dyke?  I know what you did with Waverly. You’re trying to turn her, you disgusting bitch.  You’re why she broke up with me. But she’s going to realize that you could never satisfy her and she’s going to come crawling back, because I’m the only one in this town willing to date a fucking Earp ,” Champ’s words were slurred, but Nicole could still understand what he was saying.  She got every word.

Waverly broke up with you because you’re a disgusting asshole who has no respect for anyone.  She’s not with me and she made it clear that she does not want to be, but even if she did, I wouldn’t be the reason she broke up with you.  It would be because you are a good-for-nothing scum-of-the-earth ingrate who had the most amazing and wonderful girl and still treated her like shit.  She deserves the world, and you made her life hell. So you cannot say anything to me that will hurt me worse than you hurt Waverly already. Rot in hell, you disgusting pervert.  

That’s what she wanted to say.  But Nicole held her tongue, because she was an officer of the law.  And she was going to arrest Champ Hardy for driving under the influence, because that was his crime.  She wanted to arrest him for what he did to Waverly, but she couldn’t. There was no report, no definitive proof without a statement, and she couldn’t do it without Waverly’s permission, so she would have to be fine arresting him for this.  It wouldn’t be as satisfying as seeing him go away for years, but it was a start and all she could do. So Nicole cuffed the vile idiot and, with Lonnie’s help, loaded him into the back of the cruiser.

“I’ll get her back from you, carpet muncher.  You don’t know how to satisfy a girl. She’ll come crawling back,” Champ spat at her the whole way back the station.  Nicole just drove, knuckles white on the steering wheel. She tried to ignore him, but his words pierced through her, bringing back terrible, awful memories she did not want to relive.  The memories only brought pain and emptiness, so instead she chose to feel the anger coursing through her.

“Lonnie,” Nicole said through gritted teeth as they pulled back into the station, “If you could put him in the cell, I’ll start on the paperwork.” As Lonnie nodded and started to do as the senior officer requested, Nicole got out and walked into the station, not looking back.  

Her body crashed into her chair, the world seemed to be collapsing around her.  It had just been the shittiest day. She had no other words for it. Anything that could have gone wrong, did.  Nicole had completely messed up on the job, letting her feelings get in the way of a call. The call itself was emotionally traumatizing for her.  Then she found Waverly, who told her they were most definitely not dating which, of course, she knew, but the brunette had gone on to clarify that all she ever wanted from her was friends.  Until this moment, thinking about it with everything else that had happened today, Nicole hadn’t realized how much that had broke her heart. And then… and then Champ. Spewing all those terrible words that she had heard too many times in her life, bringing back too many memories, saying all those awful, vile things about Waverly….

“Haught?”  Nicole blinked, pulling her mind out of the downward spiral it was headed in.  “You good? You’ve had… well, just… want to talk?” In her head, Nicole was going to say no, she didn’t want to talk.  She was fine.

“Friends,” she muttered instead, “Friends, Lonnie.  She said just friends. And that’s fine, believe me, I’ll do whatever she wants, whatever she needs, but also…” she heaved a deep sigh, staring blankly ahead.  

“I know, Haught, I know.”

Chapter Text

Unknown: I’m going to be at the tree at three today.  Come talk to me, baby girl.

Waverly read the text about a thousand times over the last twenty minutes, thinking about all the implications that one, short text held.  There was so much unsaid behind the sixteen words. Like after all these years, and probably a thousand different phone numbers of her own, Wynonna still had Waverly’s number.  She had her number this whole time, and yet still did not contact her for the years that she had been away. She had left her and had the option to communicate, but chose not to.  Waverly had cut Gus out of her life for Wynonna, not realizing that Wynonna was cutting Waverly out of hers. How could she have been so stupid? Waverly had waited all those years for Wynonna to come back, to apologize for ever leaving, to give a reason, anything, why she hadn’t texted, called, come back sooner… and now here she was.  Here Wynonna was, back in town, with Waverly’s number the whole time and wow did Waverly feel like an idiot.

Everyone she had ever loved, ever trusted, let her down in some way.  Why should this time be any different?

It was two-forty now.  Was Waverly really going to do this?  At the tree? At her tree?  

Damn it, she was.  

Leaving Shorty’s, Waverly took the fifteen minute hike to the park on the edge of the main part of town.  There was barely anyone in this park ever—most got their fair share of exercise and outdoors on their farms during the day.  After that, most of the citizens just wanted to relax at the bar or someplace else inside. It was a fairly small park, with an algae filled pond just about the same size as the basketball court.  The court’s tar was cracked and the hoops had no netting anymore, but they still served their purpose. And about ten yards off of the basketball court was Waverly’s tree.

It was the tree she went to do all her thinking, sort everything out.  The tree was massive, with winding branches reaching up to the sky as far as the eye could see, sprawling out protectively over whoever lay underneath.  It was where Waverly went when anything went wrong—when Mama left when she was four, she ran away to this tree. When Papa and Willa…. She ran away to this tree.  When Wynonna left, when Uncle Curtis died, whenever Champ had decided he wanted sex but Waverly didn’t and took it anyways, she ran away to this tree. Her tree would never leave her, it was the one constant in her life.  Her tree. Lately she had been coming here more often, just to lay there, even if something hadn’t necessarily happened that day. She could just read there, get lost in a world of her own. Even at night, the lights from the basketball court (yup, no nets, but lights, because town budgets always make sense) would illuminate the surroundings just enough so she could read well into the early hours of the morning if she so wished, if she just needed to be alone.  

But now Wynonna was laying under her tree, drinking whiskey straight out of the bottle, and something about the picture just didn’t feel right.  That was her tree, her one safe place, and Wynonna was just chugging liquor underneath like it was no big deal. With purpose, Waverly stepped surely over to the tree, planting her feet in the ground, arms crossed, staring at her sister with a raised eyebrow.  

“Baby girl, what brings you to this fine establishment?”

“...you?” Waverly gave her a confused look.  Wynonna returned the look for a moment before realization dawned on her face.  

“Yup, yup.  That was me.  Totally me.” She threw Waverly a side glance as she positioned herself so she was sitting up against the wide trunk of the tree.  

“How long have you been here?”

Wynonna peered at the almost empty bottle, as if calculating the hours by the amount she had drank.  Which, to be fair, was probably exactly what she was doing. “Hour and a half maybe?”

“And your phone is…?”  

Wynonna looked around at the ground and patted her pockets before answering. “At Gus’s.  I hope.”

“So if I got a text from your phone about forty-five minutes ago…?” Wynonna gave the younger woman a sheepish, guilty smile and held out her hand for Waverly’s phone.  Rolling her eyes, she reluctantly handed it to her.

“Baby girl, this sounds nothing like me.  There’s a period. And way too many words.  Who texts with that many words?”

“Well, for starters, me,” Waverly retorted, receiving a look that plainly said well there you go in return.  She decided it was best to change the subject and just get back to the point of why she had wanted to come in the first place.  “Wynonna, geez, why didn’t you just call me or something?”

“Well, I kinda schtupped your bricks-for-brains boyfriend—”

Ex -boyfriend,”  Waverly corrected.

“Technically he was your boyfriend at the time,” the shorter girl shot Wynonna a look of death, “Right, not the time.  Sorry, I schtupped your washed-up rodeo clown ex -boyfriend yesterday, and so excuse me for thinking you didn’t want to see me?  Because I personally thought you saw a little too much of me yesterday. Also, why would I have your number?  I always lose shit, so I’ve had oodles of phones over the years. Oodles. Oodles,” Wynonna repeated the word, moving her mouth excessively around the word as if the shape her mouth made when saying it amused her to no end.  Which, to be fair, it probably did. She finally stopped when Waverly shot her a hard look. “Okay, fine,” she put her hands in the air in mock defeat, “I was only going to say it oodles more,” Wynonna grinned at Waverly wickedly and managed to dodge an otherwise well-aimed punch to the arm.  

“So I guess Gus wanted us to talk,” Waverly started, now leaning against the tree trunk next to her sister, staring off blankly into the space ahead.  

“Guess so, baby girl.  You talking to Gus?”

“No,” came the short reply.  

“Jesus, Waverly.  I’m supposed to be the emotionally distant fuck-up.  Why aren’t you talking to her, golden child?”

“Doesn’t matter,” her mouth spoke the words, but her brain screamed the truth: Because of what she did to you.  Because you knew what was happening and tried to tell people and even afterwards, she made it seem like you were crazy.  She let the whole town hate you and drive you crazy and did nothing about it. She didn’t stand up for you, and then she told me that she knew all along and that she knew you were right.  She let you think you were crazy, that it wasn’t as bad as you said it was all the time, and she didn’t care .  

Wynonna hummed at the reply, not bothering to pry further.  One thing about Wynonna trying to be emotionally distant, and often failing but trying nonetheless, is that she didn’t ever pry for more information than she thought necessary.  

“Moving back into the homestead.”  The older sister said it as though it were the easiest thing in the world, but the statement fell heavy on Waverly’s ears.  

“Why?” she asked quietly, barely a whisper.  

“I’m sticking around this time.  Weirdly enough, I miss this shithole.  How could I lose out on another year of the annual curling championships?  You know how I love to watch those middle-aged men and their brooms. Just gets my panties in a twist.”

“Why did you even come back?  Why now?” Waverly questioned, trying to keep the edge off her voice.   Why did you leave me with no explanation?

“Curtis.”  The reply was softer in a way, laced with a grief and a regret Waverly knew all too well.  She immediately softened, realizing that Wynonna was eighteen when she left, too young and too broken to know what she was doing.  She was probably scared and while Waverly was still upset, she knew she would have to get over it on her own. It wasn’t Wynonna’s fault, it was the situation.  A terrible situation they both grew up in and handled poorly in their own ways, but in the only ways they knew how. Still, Wynonna’s answer didn’t make complete sense.  

“Wynonna, he died four months ago!” Waverly exclaimed with a confused look on her face.  

“Email’s slow.  And I only was told a couple weeks ago anyways,” the older woman shrugged, taking another gulp of whiskey and finishing the bottle.  She looked at the empty glass with a look of disgust, as though it had betrayed her, and tossed it to the side. Of course Gus wouldn’t tell Wynonna when it happened.  She never wanted her around, never protected her. Sure, Wynonna’s broken, but only because Gus helped to make her that way.  

“Why the homestead then?  Why not live literally anywhere else?” Waverly found herself pleading with her sister, but for what she didn’t know.  Wynonna gave her a look, but chose not to answer her question.

“Move in with me.” It was a statement, not a question.  

“But don’t you remember what happened there?”

“Yeah, but there were good memories too, right, baby girl?”  She asked almost as if she didn’t know the answer herself. As if she knew there must be, but she couldn’t quite remember any of them for some reason.  

“You and I had very different childhoods, Wynonna.  We may have lived under the same roof, but they were very different,” Waverly looked at her with saddened, tired eyes.  

“Could always make new ones.”

“What?” The younger woman had no idea what she was talking about.  

“Memories.  Can always make new memories.”  Wynonna clarified.

Waverly glanced over at her sister, the one always making jokes and causing problems.  Now, leaning up against the tree, she just looked tired, tired and broken. Waverly realized that Wynonna was coming back, asking her to move in, because she needed her.  She finally realized how broken and alone she was, and she needed Waverly. And Waverly had to admit that she needed Wynonna, too.

“Maybe,” she said, knowing the true answer in her heart was yes.  She would push out all her old demons and she would make new, better memories with Wynonna.  After all, it was only a house. Still leaning up against the tree, Waverly closed her eyes and breathed in slowly, allowing the aromas of the grass and trees to fill her lungs, to feel the nip of the air against her cheeks, to listen to the sound of her sister… snoring?  Goddamn it, of course Wynonna was asleep. Waverly chuckled to herself, realizing that maybe this was exactly what she needed—Wynonna and their dysfunctional mess of a relationship.

This was going to be interesting.  

Chapter Text

“Have you ever, you know, played basketball before, Jeremy?” Nicole asked, walking with the shorter man from their cars down to the court in the park.  She smoothed out her well-fitted white tee that didn’t quite manage to reach her low cut fabric shorts, showing a bit of her waist.  She had managed to pull most of her bright ginger hair into a small ponytail, but still had a few strands break free to frame her face.  

“Hey, just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I can’t play,” he retorted, crossing his arms.

“No, I mean, I’m just asking because you’re wearing cleats,” she took in his outfit.  The rest wasn’t bad—a short sleeved grey tee and long sweats. But the cleats…

“Are you… are you not supposed to…?”

“Sneakers, dude,” the deputy replied with a smirk, gesturing to her own basketball shoes.  

“Right, well I got an extra pair, I’ll just change real quick…” Jeremy blushed, quickly sitting down on the pavement to switch out his footwear.  

While Nicole waited, she dribbled the basketball a couple times, lining up her shot.  She closed her eyes for a moment, breathing in the cool night air and forgetting about her surroundings, about everything going on in her life.  For a moment, she was just a girl, holding a basketball, about to make a shot. Reopening her eyes, she took the shot, feeling as though the ball was just an extension of her arm.  She felt it slide off her fingertips and, without even hitting the rim, the ball slid through the hoop. Nicole smiled, feeling the satisfaction of the basket envelop her, her mind cleared by the ability to do the one thing she knew she was good at, that she wouldn’t fail at that, that she wouldn’t mess up.  Like she did with her family, with her job, with Waverly…

She shook her head, making her way back to where Jeremy was finishing tying up his laces.  It had been a few days since she had last spoken to Waverly, and Nicole was really feeling it that day, getting into her head about where they stood, what she had done, what she could have done differently.  When Jeremy had come into the office near the end of her shift that day, insisting that they were doing something—anything—tonight, Nicole thought she would easily be able to shrug him off to just go home and be alone tonight, but he was surprisingly persistent.  He probably thought they were going to go to the bar or a movie because when she suggested basketball, there was an obvious nervous hesitation before he agreed. While part of her wanted to stay inside, play the ending scene of Phantom of the Opera on repeat, and eat ice cream, she also knew she needed this.  She needed to feel the cold air of the night against her skin, the ball in her hands, the strain of her muscles running down the court, hear the swish of the air as the basketball arced through the night. She needed to feel alive.

“All set!” Jeremy popped up from the ground, looking extremely proud of himself.  Nicole just rolled her eyes with a smile. After a few minutes, she could tell that Jeremy probably hadn’t ever played basketball before.   Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I can’t play , Nicole shook her head.  To put it mildly, Jeremy sucked.  The gay thing, she knew, had nothing to do with it.  He was just bad, though.

“Why don’t we just take turns shooting into the far basket at the end there?” Nicole pointed down the court.  They had only run up the court two or three times, but Jeremy was already sweating and panting, so she decided to take it easy on him, and he seemed to welcome the stationary option.  He tried to say something about Dothrakis being faster than Knights of Westeros, but not only did Nicole have no idea what he was talking about, but the words also didn’t come out quite right between his labored breaths.  

After Jeremy started to breathe normally again, and then about an hour of shooting back and forth, sometimes talking Harry Potter or Star Wars, sometimes lost in their own thoughts, Nicole decided to broach a subject she had always wanted to talk about with someone else, but either couldn’t or was scared to.  

“So… how was it growing up?  You know… with the…?”

“The gay thing?” Jeremy gave a short laugh, “I mean, it was fine.  Nothing huge or anything. I almost kind of wish it would have been, though.  Not in a bad way, of course, but my parents really just didn’t care. I could do anything at all and they wouldn’t notice, didn’t even need to be gay.  I just wanted some reaction out of them for something I did.”

“I don’t know.  That sounds kinda… nice, actually.”

“Oof.  Bad time for you, I’m guessing?” Jeremy looked at her sympathetically.  “What happened?”

“It wasn’t the worst,” terrible, haunting memories flashed through Nicole’s memory, but she did know it could have been worse.  It was just bad for her personally, but so many people had such worse experiences than she did, “It just wasn’t okay, you know? My whole life I was told it wasn’t right to like girls, but when I came out I thought maybe something would change and it would get better, but it didn’t.  I don’t know. I don’t talk to my family anymore because I really can’t with the whole gay thing, so I guess I’m better now with myself, more accepting, but it was still really shitty, you know? Sometimes a part of me still feels like me being a lesbian is wrong and I know it’s not, it’s just like this voice in the back of my head.”

“So, were they like Umbridge shitty, or Snape shitty?” Jeremy questioned.  Weirdly enough, Nicole knew exactly what he meant by that.

“Snape shitty.  There are no excuses for Umbridge, no love lost, but with Snape… you get it, but you don’t.  You can see why it happened, but it doesn’t make it right. It’s not pure hatred for him. It’s just more of a ‘wow that was shitty’ type thing.  ‘I hate you, but I don’t, but I really do.’” Nicole responded.

“So… complicated?”

“I guess you could say that,” Nicole chuckled mirthlessly, “It is nice being able to have someone to talk about it with though, you know?” She held the ball in place between her side and her arm, motioning with her head to ask if he was all set to go.  Jeremy nodded and went over to pick up his bag.

“Yeah, I totally get it.  Oh, the stories I could tell you about the things I have said to straight men…” Jeremy was laughing, but Nicole’s mind and eyes were somewhere else.  She could have sworn, over by the huge tree, illuminated by the lights from the court… No. It couldn’t be. She had thought she had seen a face, peering around the trunk, a very specific face, but it must have been a trick of the light (well, in this case, darkness).

“Yeah, just… just one second,” she said absentmindedly, holding up a finger to the still chattering man beside her.  Slowly, she walked over to the tree, peering around the other side of the trunk. Sure enough, huddled up in a ball, shivering slightly, was Waverly.  

“Hey,” Nicole said softly, squatting to be more on par with the younger woman’s level.  

“Um… hi,” Waverly responded, almost shyly, a blush appearing on her cheeks.  

“What are you doing out here, Waves?  You look like you’re freezing,” her words were kind, gentle, any judgement withheld.  

“I—” the brunette started to respond when Jeremy decided to come over, checking on what Nicole was doing, squatting by a tree, talking to it.  

“Oh, I’m just… I’m gonna… yeah,” when Jeremy saw Waverly there, he pointed back to where they had parked the cars as he walked backwards in that direction.  Nicole nodded her head as she turned back to Waverly.

“Um… I was just…”

“Were you reading?”  Nicole asked, noticing the book in Waverly’s hand.   Duh, Nicole.  Of course she was reading.  Hence the book .  “Right, ‘course you were.  Stupid question.”

“No… it’s fine,” Waverly gave the redhead a sheepish smile, “I was.  And before you yell at me for reading in the dark, there is more than enough light from the basketball court.”

“But… you were on the other side of the tree?  There’s no light over there.”

“Yeah,” Waverly cleared her throat, a blush creeping on her cheeks as she looked down at the grass.  “Well, I was on the other side, with the light, but then I heard people coming and I… I didn’t want to see people really, so I just went to the other side of the tree, and I was going to leave but I heard it was you, and the way we left things… I didn’t want you to see me if I left so I kind of just stayed,” the brunette gave an embarrassed smile that looked more like a grimace than anything else to Nicole.   Waverly was there, listening, the whole time.  Oh, God, what had Waverly heard? What had I said? The ginger thought to herself, realizing that she had no idea how her conversation with Jeremy had actually gone, her mind drawing a blank.  Had she said anything about Waverly? She couldn’t even remember. She knew she had talked about being gay, but did she mention her feelings for Waverly?  She hoped not.

“So you stayed here, freezing, because of how we left things?  Waves, we left it as friends, everything is fine between us… right?”  Nicole tried to give her a reassuring smile, but she knew exactly what Waverly was talking about when she said she was worried about how they left things.  Her short “Whatever you want, Waverly,” followed by a long, tense silence on the ride back… but still, she would always be there for Waverly, and Nicole just wanted her to understand that.  She decided to push out all the thoughts she had screaming in her mind, worrying over what she had or had not said, and just focus on the beautiful, sad, freezing brunette in front of her.

“We didn’t leave as friends and you know that,” Waverly said softly, gently, burying her face between her chest and knees, which she hugged tightly to her body, as though she were trying to make herself small enough that she might disappear.  The words weren’t said harshly. They sounded almost… regretful. There was something unspoken between them—the silence screamed loudly at Nicole with its urgency, and yet she couldn’t quite hear what it was saying. Did they leave as less than friends?  Did they leave as something that wasn’t more and wasn’t less, something all together different? Nicole decided to let the words hang in the air for a moment before finally speaking up.

“Did you drive here?  I didn’t see your jeep.” The deputy received a sharp shake of the head in response. “Let me bring you home.”  Waverly hesitated before finally nodding her head in agreement and rising from her curled up position. They walked slowly over to Nicole’s car, not speaking, not looking at each other, just staring at the ground in front of them as they walk leisurely on.  Nicole opened the passenger’s side door for Waverly, allowing her to slide in before walking around to the driver’s side. She took a moment before opening her own door, “ Come on, Haught, pull it together .”

They drove back, Nicole keeping her eyes on the road, but every once in a while seeing Waverly sneak glances her way.  Nicole had no idea what was going on, where they stood, what was happening. She just wanted things to go back to the way they were before and yet she also wanted more than that.  But above all, she just wanted Waverly to be happy.

They pulled into Shorty’s when Waverly finally decided to speak.  

“I’m moving.” Two simple words.  Words that stopped Nicole’s heart for a moment.  Waverly, moving? Out of Purgatory? Waverly, leaving?  From her life? “To the homestead. With Wynonna.” Nicole breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that Waverly didn’t notice her temporary distress, but unfortunately the brunette was watching her very carefully, so she knew it was likely that she had.  

“That’ll be good for you.”

“Will it?” The brunette seemed to be asking herself more so than the ginger next to her, so Nicole decided to not respond.  They sat there for a moment, the silence filling the car around them as though some sort of present being, enveloping and suffocating them.  After a few minutes, Nicole finally decided to speak again.

“If you ever need anything—and I mean anything—you can call me or text me or come to the station or my apartment, whatever you need, ok?  I know you don’t think we left things well, or even as friends, but, if you’ll let me, I am your friend. I will be here for you, no matter what,” Nicole said, looking deeply into the sad, green eyes across from her.  

“I keep pushing you away though, and that’s not fair to you.  I don’t know why I keep doing it and I’m sorry,” tears welled up in the brunette’s eyes, but she refused to let them fall.  

“Waverly, you can push me away as many times as you need, but I will always come back to you.   I will always be here for you if you need me.” Waverly swallowed and nodded, staring back at Nicole, as if waiting.  Whether she was waiting for the deputy to do something or herself to do something, Nicole wasn’t sure. They just sat there, staring at each other, until, after what seemed like hours but was likely only a few very long seconds, Waverly tore her eyes away and began to slide out of the car.  

“Thank you, Nicole,” she whispered gently, “thank you for everything.”  With that, Nicole watched as the beautiful brunette walked slowly into Shorty’s, making her way up to her apartment.  

“Bye, Waverly,” Nicole finally whispered back, putting the car in reverse and driving back to her own cold, dark apartment.  

Chapter Text

Waverly returned to the apartment, looking around at the packed boxes around her.  She was right with what she had said to Nicole in the squad car, that day when she told her she just wanted to be friends.  That day that Nicole picked her up, even after Waverly had yelled at her to leave her alone. The day Wynonna came back, when Waverly broke up with Champ.  She was right in saying that everything around her was changing, and changing fast. It was all so hard to keep up with and, if she thought about it, it had all started with Nicole.  

Things had already not been the best with her and Champ; maybe that was a bit of an understatement.  Waverly had been finding herself not wanting to spend time with him, be around him, and her depression had been getting worse.  Then, she met Nicole. Everything started changing and that scared her. She started to feel really, truly happy in another person’s company and found herself wanting to be with her all the time, in every possible way.  That feeling, that happiness, came with guilt as well, though. She knew she wanted to be with Nicole, but she had been with Champ, and plus, Nicole probably didn’t feel the same. Now, in just the past few days, Wynonna was back, she had broken up with Champ, she was moving back to her childhood home, and Nicole was… gay?

While hiding behind the tree, embarrassed about having seen Nicole after everything that had gone down between them, she heard some of the conversation between the ginger and her friend who, from what she could tell without looking, didn’t seem like he was too great at basketball.  Waverly thought she heard Nicole call him Jeremy? Regardless, she hadn’t meant to eavesdrop on their conversation, but now that the two had been there for a bit, she couldn’t leave, because that would be weird. So there she was, stuck hiding behind a tree, in the dark, in the cold, with nothing to distract her but her own thoughts and the conversation the two were having on the court a few yards over.  

Nicole had definitely said she was gay.  Waverly had heard something about “liking girls,” “coming out,” “the gay thing,” and “lesbian,” so she was pretty sure she didn’t hear incorrectly since she heard it four times.  Or at least, she hoped so. All of a sudden, she found herself having the inevitable internal conflict again.

Just because she’s gay doesn’t mean she likes you .

But when Waverly had told Nicole that she just wanted to be friends, the deputy had definitely seemed upset… well, at least not overjoyed.  

When you said that you didn’t leave as friends and she knew that, she said nothing.  

Nicole had done so much for her… she spent so much time with her over the past couple months, dropping everything when Waverly needed her, coming back, even after Waverly pushed her away, time after time.  This was the third time Waverly had tried to push the deputy away and yet she still drove her home, telling her that she was there for her, whatever she needed.

Has she ever given you any reason to believe she might think of you as more than friends?  She hasn’t even tried to kiss you.

But there were lingering touches, closeness, a certain… look.

So reading too much into Nicole being friendly just because of a crush?

The fight in Waverly’s mind seemed to rage on, almost as though there were two different minds within her own, fighting for dominance.  She needed to drown it out, to stop the voices now screaming in her head. She walked over to the bed, picking up the mattress and reaching underneath.  There, she held in her hand the hidden blade, the one she hadn’t let Nicole know about. She wasn’t ready for that quite yet. She stared at it, knowing that this could drown out her mind, could stop this agony bashing against the sides of her skull.  Waverly brought the shining silver to her thigh, but she stopped. A different voice ran through her mind—

“If you ever feel like you need to do something like that again, please—please just call me, okay?”

Nicole.  

She had promised Nicole.  Waverly tightened her grip on the blade.  Part of her still believed Nicole didn’t care, but she had promised the deputy that she would call if ever in this position again.  Waverly didn’t want to call her now, especially with her own conflicting feelings about where they stood, with her unsure of where Nicole thought they stood.  Already, the brunette began to feel guilty, holding the blade against her skin, not pressing down. Slowly, with what seemed to be all the strength she had in her body, she pulled the silver instrument away from her skin, placing it in one of the moving boxes.  

Waverly laid down on the bed, the emptiness of the room enveloping her and intensifying her own feelings of emptiness.  Closing her eyes, she forced herself to clear her mind, to rid her thoughts of everything, everything but Nicole…. Nicole’s face, leaning towards her, so close she could breathe her in.  With the memories of almost kissing the gorgeous redhead and the imagery of finally being able to do it filling her mind, Waverly drifted into an uneasy sleep.

* * * * * *

Waverly was slightly shocked that she had been able to fit all of her belongings into her jeep in one go, but thinking about it, she realized it did make sense.  All she really had were her clothes, her books, makeup, and other toiletries. For the most part, she wasn’t a very sentimental person. She had a picture of Mama, one of her and Wynonna, a birthday card Uncle Curtis had given her, Nicole’s number that she had written for her the day after they met, and a drawing of the two of them Nicole had done when they had gotten coffee one day.  There weren’t many memories she really wanted to keep from her childhood, or from most of her life for that matter, so she never really acquired the mass of sentimental items one might normally find when moving. While it made the actual act of moving easier, she found it empty, in a way. Other than the clothes and other items, her life boiled down to five little mementos she had acquired over the course of her twenty-two years.  Her whole life, she could carry in only one hand.

Finally, Waverly reached the homestead, slowly pulling into the driveway, fully taking in her old, and now current, home for the first time in years.  She had been by just a week or so ago, but she hadn’t been this close, close enough to see everything. The homestead seemed old, rickety, weak... She knew weak was an odd term to describe a structure, but that’s exactly what it was.  It no longer seemed to hold the terrifying strong power it once had, but the ghosts, the memories of the horrors seemed to hold on. But that’s all they were—ghosts. They couldn’t hurt her anymore; it was weak.

Forgoing the boxes for the moment, Waverly tentatively approached the front porch.  Taking a deep breath, the brunette placed her hand on the cool metal of the handle, steeling herself to open the door, when all of a sudden the door flung open.

“Hurry up, baby girl.  You’re running late.” Wynonna said, not looking at Waverly and immediately walking past her to grab some boxes from the car.  

“It’s my first time back here since that night, Wynonna.  Give me some time.”

“Me too, Waverly,” there was a note of bitterness in her tone, but Waverly could tell it wasn’t intentional.  She knew this was hard for Wynonna as well—maybe even harder than it was for her. The younger woman immediately felt a bit of shame wash over her as she realized this.  

“Sorry, it’s just… it kind of sucks, you know?”

“Baby girl, this whole situation is a shit sandwich.  I didn’t actually want to move back into this place, but I’m broke.  So we’re going to move in here, make it nice, and get on with it. Now help me with these boxes.”

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly and uneventfully.  The two sisters didn’t do much talking as they unpacked all of Waverly’s boxes and the ones Wynonna had brought from storage.  It was weird for Waverly, seeing all the furniture left in the same place as that night. She dusted off the furniture, seeming to bring a bit of life back into the homestead.  She put away the plates and silverware, the same items that Mama and Willa and her father had used…. And now they were all gone. The plates, somehow, remained. Solid, lasting.  So unlike her family.

When they had finally finished putting what they could away, the two girls sat on the floor, slumped against the kitchen cabinets, physically and emotionally exhausted.  

“You know there’s a perfectly good couch in living room.  Or the chairs literally right in front of us,” Wynonna stated, opening the bottle of whiskey she had grabbed from one of the cabinets and taking a swig.  She offered the bottle to Waverly, who started to give her older sister a cynical expression before reconsidering and taking a large swig herself.

“Too exhausted to move,” Waverly groaned.  

“Fair enough.”  There was a long pause, silence only punctured by the sloshing of the whiskey as the two took turns gulping from the bottle.  “So why didn’t you ever leave this…” Wynonna gestured, “....place?”

“I don’t know…” Waverly could feel the whiskey getting to her, warming her body, loosening her inhibitions, “I guess there was always something keeping me here.  Their memories, you coming back one day… I did some courses and got my four year degree online. I also applied for a one-year masters program at this amazing university across the country, but I’m probably just going to do their online program for that.  Probably wouldn’t get in anyways.” Waverly thought about the idea of moving across the country and, on one hand, it terrified her. On the other, it was oddly intriguing. She knew, if she ever got the opportunity, she would drop everything for it. But that would never happen—Waverly was going to be stuck in this town forever.  Part of her didn’t mind, part of her did.

“Don’t make the same mistakes I did, Waverly.  Get out of here.”

“But… you did leave…?” Waverly shot her sister a confused look.

“Oh.  Yeah. I guess you’re right,” Wynonna shrugged, taking another gulp out of the bottle, half empty at this point.  “So anyone else you have your eye on in town, now that shit-for-brains is officially donezo?”

“Not really,” Waverly felt a blush creep up her neck as she thought of a certain redheaded officer, with adorable dimples, a small freckle on her cheekbone underneath the left eye, and the softest looking lips.  Wynonna looked over and saw the blush before Waverly could successfully hide her face.

“See, now I know there’s some juicy gossip in here and you’re just not telling me.  Is Perry still around?” Wynonna raised an eyebrow suggestively.

“I mean… I guess?  Haven’t really talked to him, but I don’t think he left,” the younger sister responded.

“Interesting.  Because as I recall, he was pretty smoking, wasn’t a complete asswipe, and a little smarter than douchebaguette Bieber you were schtupping before.”

“We weren’t really, until—,” Waverly’s lungs seemed to contract momentarily at the thought of what had happened the day before Wynonna came back, but she decided to push it from her mind, to not discuss it with Wynonna.  Not now, not ever, especially knowing how she’d react. “Point is, I’m not interested in Perry, or anyone at the moment.”

“Alright, baby girl.  Whatever you say,” Wynonna shot her sister a wink, letting her know that she didn’t actually believe any of what she was laying out.  

“So why’d you really come back?  Other than Uncle Curtis?” The shorter girl attempted to change the subject.  

“Told you.  I’m broke.” But Waverly could see something else in Wynonna’s eyes, behind the cold, hard words she said.  The younger girl noticed a sadness lacing them, an unspoken… something lingering in the air.

“Right.”  Waverly let it go, content for now to be sitting in the kitchen of her childhood home, drinking with her older sister, demons be damned.  

Chapter Text

“Nicole….”

“Jeremy, not tonight.”

“But it’s a Harry Potter theme night!  At the gay bar!  Do you know how often that happens?”

“Probably pretty often… you know, wand jokes and whatnot,” Lonnie cut in.  

“We have a gay bar?” Nicole asked.

“Not the point, Lonnie!” Jeremy shouted over his shoulder.  “Technically, no, we don’t. But there is one a couple… hours out.  C’mon, Nicole. You need to get out. Bet there would be some cute girls there too,” he pleaded.  

“Jeremy, I’ve been really looking forward to just going home tonight and having a Golden Girls marathon.  Alone,” Nicole looked at him apologetically, but couldn’t find it in herself to go out tonight, especially not a four hour round-trip.  At the very least, she was not in the mood to meet any other “cute girls,” not until she knew for certain what was going on with her and Waverly.  Waverly, who hadn’t contacted her since the night she drove her home from the basketball court over a week ago, since she had told her she can call her whenever and that they were still friends.  A smarter person might have taken this and every other time Waverly had pushed Nicole away as a sign that she didn’t feel the same way. And yet, until Nicole knew for certain , she would keep holding on to hope.  Either way, she would be there for her, as a friend, whether or not Waverly wanted something more.  

“Nicole…” the young man whined, leaning over the counter, trying to get closer to plead with the officer sitting at her desk halfway across the room.  

“No,” the reply was soft, but Jeremy could tell that the ginger meant it.  

“Alright,” he conceded, “Lon—?”

“Nope.”  

“Ugh, fine.  You guys are no fun,” Jeremy sighed, slowly making his way out of the station, as though hoping one of them would stop him and say that they’d actually come along.

“So what are you actually doing tonight, Haught?” Lonnie questioned once Jeremy finally exited the station, not looking up from his paperwork, but raising an eyebrow at her skeptically nonetheless.

“Do you want the real answer, or the socially acceptable answer?”

“I’d like the real answer, but I’m also curious to know what you think the socially acceptable answer is,” he chuckled.  Nicole rolled her eyes.

“Well, I wasn’t lying to Jeremy.  I’m going home to eat Chinese, drink, cuddle with Calamity Jane, and, like I said, watch Golden Girls ,” Nicole stated matter-of-factly.  

“Was that what you thought the socially acceptable answer was?” Lonnie inquired.  

“No, stupid.  The socially acceptable answer would have been something about going rollerblading or something.”

“Rollerblading?” Lonnie finally looked up from his paperwork, giving her an amused look.  

“It was the first thing that came to my mind, okay Lonnie?  Give me a break,” she gave a small smile. Realizing her shift was over, she sorted her paperwork, packed up her stuff, and got ready to head out.  

“Just so you know, rollerblading sounds super gay,” Lonnie mentioned as Nicole began to walk out.  

“If the shoe fits, Lonnie, if the shoe fits,” the redhead called back as she left the station, ready for a night in, putting this whole Waverly thing out of her mind—if she could, at least.  

When she finally got back to her place, she immediately dumped her bag on the floor.  She would no doubt pick it up the next morning, as everything else in her apartment was in its place, but for tonight, the bag belonged on the floor.  She unbuckled her belt as she walked up the stairs, ready to change into something more comfortable. She stripped down to only her underwear, even taking off her bra, just going straight for her usual pajamas outfit, even though normally she didn't wear it until right before falling into bed.  She donned a loose t-shirt and made her way back down to the kitchen to heat up some leftover Chinese food and grab a bottle of wine.

“Hey, Calamity Jane,” she greeted the cat as the large, orange fur ball rubbed against her bare calves.  The ginger smiled when the cat purred in response.

“Let’s go watch Golden Girls , huh?” she said in an embarrassingly sing-songy voice.  Nicole cuddled up on to the couch, flipping on the TV. She poured herself a glass of wine, got Calamity Jane to hop up on to her lap, and dug into her lo mein, ready to drown out the heartbreak she was somehow feeling for the loss of a girl she never had.  

* * * * * *

Somehow, Nicole was on her second bottle of wine by the twelfth Golden Girls episode.  She must have gotten up at some point during the binging to get the wine as the empty Chinese container was gone, presumably in the trash, but she couldn’t quite recall actually doing that.  At this point, Calamity Jane was curled up on Nicole’s stomach, purring contently and completely knocked out.

Everything seemed a little fuzzy and Nicole was feeling so many things all at once, so she wasn’t sure what was going through her head.  She was definitely very drunk. Last time she had been this drunk was the night she met Waverly.

Waverly…

Now, all of a sudden, her mind was filled with thoughts of Waverly, the very person she had been trying to forget with everything she had done tonight.  The eating, the binge watching, the drinking, all to put the beautiful brunette out of her mind for at least a couple hours.

But now, the only thought in her mind was Waverly.  Waverly, in her crop top and tight shorts, her long hair cascading down her back to where the shorts cupped her shapely ass.  Waverly, laughing, her eyes glistening as though she knew something Nicole did not— which, to be fair, was probably the case. Waverly, talking about something— anything— she was passionate about.  Waverly, leaning towards her, lips so close to her own, so close that if she just leaned in, only a bit, she might be able to capture them in her own…

She needed to text her.  She should text Waverly.

Chugging the rest of the wine in her glass, thereby also finishing the second bottle, Nicole leaned over to grab her phone from the coffee table.  For a moment, she almost reconsidered… No, she needed to text Waverly. She wanted to see her so badly, but at least she might be able to talk to her.  

* * * * * *

The next day Nicole woke up around noon with a raging headache, still on her couch with Calamity Jane sleeping soundly on her chest.  Gently, she scooped the cat up, placing her on the other end of the couch. There was a painful kink in her neck from sleeping in such a terrible position and she felt like she could see colors.  

Suddenly, a memory came back to Nicole of wanting to see Waverly, to text her… shit.  She wanted to text her. Had she? Nicole picked up her phone, not seeing any unread messages, which was a good sign to start.  But opening up her messages app, she saw her worst nightmare splayed out in front of her.

Nicole: iheyyy there… i think i mighjt be drunkre thadn tbhe nighpt ew met :p  such a good night tho

Nicole: igf you want to be friends that’s colo ubt it’s going to be super hard for me

Nicole: because you’re so pretty aznd i like you so muchi

Nicole: but i talso just wuant to be around you all thje time sao friends is cool

Nicole: i think i lost omy pants anid bra

Nicole: NO WAIT I DDIDNT PUT THEBM OEN

Nicole: do gi wear glassies? i dont think i duo but im not sure

Nicole: alright darling talk to yolu wlater friend :) p

The ginger stared at her phone in abject terror.  She had sent all these last night. At 1:30 am. To Waverly.  And had not received a response.

Shit.  

* * * * * *

“Okay, Haught, what happened last night?” Lonnie questioned, noticing Nicole walking into the station with sunglasses and a pained expression on her face.  She was working the four to midnight tonight, so it was mid-afternoon, but it looked either like she had just woken up or been awake for days, maybe even a mixture of both.  

“Lonnie.  You do not want to know,” she groaned in response.

Golden Girls went crazy?”

“I drank way too much, and made some very, very bad decisions that I never want to talk about, ever,” the deputy stated, making sure Lonnie knew there was no room for argument, no way he should think that he was going to get any information out of her.  

“Fair enough.  Nedley wants to see you, by the way.”

“Shit,” Nicole’s head went directly to the worst-case scenario: a complaint from the parents of the victim of the 10-56.  Nedley rarely called them into his office unless it was some sort of sensitive, usually negative, subject matter. She was going to get fired.  This was it. Perhaps a little dramatically, Nicole thought about how everything around her was falling apart. Waverly wouldn’t talk to her, and even if she had been going to, the deputy had certainly ruined that after those texts from the night before; she was going to lose her job because she idiotically froze on the field; once she lost her job, she would have to leave—she couldn’t stay in this small town after all of that; she couldn’t go home, where she wasn’t welcome.  She was going to lose her job and end up alone and homeless.

Nicole’s thoughts were spiraling out of control.  The headache certainly did not help.

“Might not be bad, Haught,” Lonnie said, but it didn’t look as though he really believed that.   Slowly, Nicole made her way over to the Sheriff’s office door, knocking tentatively on it. The blinds were open so she could see Nedley, but she averted her eyes to stare at the door in order to avoid any awkwardness.  

“Come in, Haught,” came the gruff response.  Randy Nedley was older man, greying and stout with a commanding presence.  He was widely respected by those he came into contact with and he could be scary when needed, but also gentle when necessary.   The office was very nicely sized; big enough to contain a couch behind Nedley’s desk with chairs in the front of the desk, still with room to walk around.  The walls surrounding the office were covered with large windows, the blinds open so Nedley could monitor everything that was happening outside.

“Hello, sir,” Nicole stood straight up, hands at her sides, trying to show respect without letting on the terror going on her mind that she was going to get fired.  

“Sit down, Haught,” Nedley motioned to the seat in front of his desk.  Nicole obliged, sitting down stiffly, “So, I read Lonnie’s report from Champ’s arrest a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about it yet.”   Shit, shit, shit .  “Your report didn’t mention what his did.”

“Sir, I apol—” Nedley held up a hand to stop her.  

“I just wanted to say good job.  I don’t think Lonnie wrote everything Champ said to you in his report, but you managed to keep your cool even with what he was saying, and I just wanted to recognize that.  You’re doing well, Haught,” Nedley stared at the deputy’s obviously relaxed form for a moment.

“Thank you, sir.”  She wasn’t fired. She was being recognized for doing a good job.  She wasn’t fired. Relief washed over her.

“Now, I have to get ready to head to Shorty’s for happy hour in a few minutes, so you’re dismissed,” Nedley nodded to her, turning back to the paperwork on his desk.   Walking out of the office, Nicole felt elated for a moment. Even with the...events… of the night before, with the raging headache, with everything that was going on in her mind, she was happy, just for a moment.  

Until, that is, her phone buzzed in her pocket and Nicole felt her heart shatter.  

Waverly: Friends sounds good :)

Chapter Text

She had freaked out.  

There was no other way to put it.  

Waverly had freaked out.  

She woke up in the morning to eight unread messages from Nicole, and at first she was freaking out because she thought something might have happened.  What if she had gotten hurt? What if she needed Waverly for some reason? The brunette’s mind went immediately to all the worst possible reasons for having eight unread messages from someone she continually pushed away, someone who should not still be so nice to her—but wait.  What if that’s what the messages were about? What if Nicole had decided to tell Waverly that she was through with her pushing the deputy around, treating her like she was nothing?  What if she had lost her for good this time?

All these thoughts pounded around in her brain, screaming in her mind, in the few seconds before she opened the messages.  

Then silence.

Waverly found that she now had no idea what to do.  

Slowly, she went through the texts one more time, translating them into what she assumed Nicole was trying to say, trying to figure out what all of it meant.  

Nicole: Heyyy there… I think I might be drunker than the night we met :P  such a good night though

Nothing too out of the ordinary there.  Just Nicole saying that she was very drunk—and if she was right about being drunker than the night they met, very drunk—and that they had a good conversation that night.  Completely normal text, that was fine. Though Nicole was choosing to drunk text Waverly in particular… did that mean anything?  It was also completely possible that Waverly wasn’t the only one Nicole had been texting last night, so she really couldn’t read too much into that.  

Nicole: If you want to be friends that’s cool but it’s going to be super hard for me

Waverly thought that was completely understandable.  She had been a mess lately and kept pushing this wonderful woman in and out of her life, giving her total mixed signals.  It made sense that Nicole would find it hard to be friends with her. Because that’s what Nicole had meant, right?

Nicole: Because you’re so pretty and I like you so much

Now this was harder to work around.  Waverly found it so incredibly hard to believe that anyone—least of all Nicole Haught—could like her.  Like, like her, like her.  She was a mess. Maybe she meant she liked her as a friend, but Waverly was beginning to think that the feelings she had for Nicole might actually be mutual.  Especially since she told her she was going to have a hard time being friends with her because she was pretty.

Nicole: But I also just want to be around you all the time so friends is cool

Waverly didn’t want to go so far as to say she was now completely sure Nicole liked her back, but it was seeming pretty certain at this point.  That was kind of scary and Waverly had to admit that she didn’t know what to do with that.

Nicole: I think I lost my pants and bra

Waverly was completely lost on whatever this text meant.  

Nicole: NO WAIT I DIDN’T PUT THEM ON

Until that text.  Now it all made sense.  Nicole must have been texting her all of this in just a shirt and underwear.  Waverly imagined her sitting on her couch, legs crossed with her tongue sticking out in concentration, typing these messages.  She imagined her breasts poking through her t-shirt, her long, muscular legs leading up to….

Waverly shook her head, trying to get her head out of the gutter.  She was a complete mess and now weirdly turned on from a few drunk texts and what was obviously not planned out words, but more of a stream of consciousness on the part of the redhead.  

Nicole: Do I wear glasses? I don’t think I do but I’m not sure

The brunette didn’t really know the thought process that brought about this text, but now her mental image of Nicole included glasses and she felt her breath catch in her throat imagining the sight.  She licked her suddenly dry lips and decided to focus on the last text.

Nicole: Alright, darling talk to you later, friend :)

Why did Nicole make this so hard?  Waverly was pretty sure that the gorgeous, smart, strong, toned redhead was telling her she liked her, but to be fair she was still being a little bit ambiguous.  Nicole was completely smashed and apparently still was too polite to directly ask Waverly out or at least definitively say that she had romantic feelings for her. And while Waverly appreciated that, knowing that Nicole would be doing it because she didn’t want the brunette to feel uncomfortable, even when completely hammered, it frustrated the heck out of her.  What if she was still reading this situation completely wrong?

Waverly wanted to be brave.   She wanted to let Nicole know how she felt.  But she couldn’t seem to get up the courage. The voices in the back of her head created doubts in her mind, leaving her still wondering if Nicole felt that way about her.  There was so much evidence to say that she did—to start, Nicole was actually gay; then there were all the touches; the lingering glances; the hanging out every day for over a month; the stopping in to Shorty’s just to see her; not to buy anything; the bitterness in her tone when Wavelry first told her they should be just friends; and now these texts.  So much evidence, and yet still the little voices in the back of her head told Waverly that she was wrong. Who could ever like her, let alone Nicole? She was an Earp and Nicole was… well, Nicole was Nicole. She was kind, smart, intelligent, beautiful, funny… way too good for Waverly. There was no possible way that Waverly was reading this situation correctly.  

What could she say to Nicole?  What was there to say? She could tell her that she really likes her and that she lied, she wants more than friendship.  She could tell Nicole that she wants to be around her all the time, to kiss her, to be with her, and then probably face rejection.  Right now, Nicole was offering her friendship.  Nicole was giving her an opportunity to keep things as they were so Waverly wouldn’t lose her.  

Waverly didn’t respond right away.  She typed out each version of the messages, some saying how she truly felt, some saying she didn’t think they should be friends at all (those she immediately deleted, knowing that even though this was hard, and it scared her, she knew that wasn’t really what she wanted), some saying they should stay just friends.  Waverly would put her phone down for a bit, trying to distract herself for a while because maybe, just maybe, she would realize what she should say if she wasn’t thinking about it, if she was doing something else. But Waverly couldn’t seem to focus on anything else. She wandered around the homestead, trying to clean, organize, and make the structure look like a home again, but she kept coming back to her phone, to the messages.  

By the time four in the afternoon rolled around, she realized she needed to respond something to Nicole’s texts, because even though she couldn’t figure out what she wanted to do, it wasn’t fair to Nicole to not respond at all.  Quickly, she wrote something out and sent it.

Waverly: Friends sounds good :)

As soon as she sent the text, Waverly regretted it.  She definitely did not want to be just friends, but she had panicked.  She needed to say something—anything—and wasn’t quite ready to tell Nicole, especially through text.  She could have asked if they could talk later, but then what? Nicole might be worried that Waverly was upset, and she didn’t want Nicole to be concerned about her.  And even if she did that, who was to say she wouldn’t chicken out? Sending what she did, as much as it broke her heart, was probably her best option as things stood.  She just wished she was brave enough to have made a different choice.

* * * * * *

A week had passed since she had sent that text to Nicole.  She hadn’t received a response to it and it was driving her crazy.  She didn’t know where she and the redhead stood and didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by showing up at her apartment or going to the station when Nicole was on duty.  After that text, she wanted Nicole to come to her, to make the first move, to know that the ginger was okay with what Waverly had said. But Nicole didn’t stop by. Waverly hung around in the bar before and after her shift; she walked the streets around town, hoping to run into Nicole, that Nicole would come looking for her; she even was hanging around Clootie’s, hoping that her favorite deputy might stop by there.  Maybe Nicole had a very busy week… or maybe she was just very good at avoiding the younger woman.

“I’m going to Pussy Willow!” Wynonna shouted from the kitchen, crashing through Waverly’s train of thought.  

“Pu—why?” Waverly asked with an air of incredulity.  Wynonna peered in through the doorway to where Waverly was seated on the couch in the living room.  

“I’ve seen the whole Shorty’s crowd and there’s nothing there that screams ‘Mama likey.’  Need a change of pace. And you..." Wynonna eyed here and looked the younger woman up and down, almost as if appraising her, "You’ve been really tense lately, baby girl. Maybe you need to release some of that pent up energy with a little horizontal tango.  You know, makin’ bacon. An adult sleepover,” Wynonna winked at her.

“Oh my God, Wynonna, stop,” Waverly held up her hands, horrified.  She thought about it for a moment, about going to a strip club, getting a little tipsy, maybe figuring out exactly how she felt about girls a little more before she tried to figure out what to do about Nicole. “Fine.  I’ll go with you. But I want to drink too, so we are definitely going to need a ride back.”

“I have a friend who owes me a favor, so I got it covered,” Wynonna dismissed the concern readily, waving a hand in the younger girl’s direction before heading up the stairs.  Waverly thought for a moment that maybe she should be concerned about this mysterious favor, but she saw Wynonna’s face and could tell that this one didn’t seem like too big of a deal—an innocent favor, or as innocent of a favor that anyone who interacts with Wynonna can be caught up in.  “Now come on and get dressed, baby girl! You’re cute, but not cute enough to pull off sweatpants in a strip club.”

“Wynonna, I’m wearing jeans!” Waverly huffed, but nonetheless made her way up the stairs to get ready for the evening she was both excited and nervous about.  

* * * * * *

Much like a lot of the decisions she’d been making lately, Waverly was beginning to think that this was a bad one.  

Waverly was very much a stay-at-home type person, and even when she went to a bar, it was usually Shorty’s.  Shorty’s could get rowdy, but not like this. There were flashing multicolored lights, music almost too loud to hear herself think, and so many people crowded around the stages watching dancing girls, or sitting in lounge circles talking loudly.  Wynonna immediately ran off, leaving Waverly alone and, once again, freaking out.

At least she figured one thing out in the short time she had been here, something she had known all along, if she was being honest, but just wasn’t fully ready to admit yet: she was definitely bisexual.  

As soon as Wynonna left her, Waverly had looked around and found her eyes drawn to the stage, to smooth curves and long, flowing hair and swaying hips… Waverly felt a familiar tightening below her stomach, one that she had been feeling quite often ever since having met Nicole.  

Shit.  Waverly was gay.  Very, very gay.

She needed a drink.  

Thankfully, the bar was pretty empty.  Most of the people there were getting drinks from the waitresses, so they stayed by the stages or seated in the groups of chairs around the club.  There were maybe one or two other people at the long counter, manned by a very bored looking, very attractive bartender.

“What’ll it be?” the bartender asked as Waverly took a seat.  She had dark brunette waves to her shoulder blades with deep brown eyes and an olive complexion.  She wore a tight fitting tank, showing off ample cleavage and strong arms. Waverly was distracted by the movement of the bartender’s biceps as she cleaned the glasses and for a moment forgot to answer until she was on the receiving end of a cleared throat and a raised eyebrow.  

“Uhh…. I’m sorry,” Waverly looked at her apologetically, “I’m actually a bartender as well, so I while know all the drinks, but I don’t usually drink so…. I’m not really sure what I want, to be honest.”

“Got it,” the bartender gave her a knowing smile, “I’ll surprise you.  Rosita, by the way.”

“Hi, I’m Waverly,” she looked around until she found Wynonna, grinding up against a tall man with a large mustache and a weird hat, “And just, uh… strong, please?” Waverly requested with a timid smile.  

“You got it,” Rosita gave her a wink before bending over to grab something from below the bar, showing off a firm ass that Waverly couldn’t help but stare at, feeling her mouth go dry.  “Tequila shots,” Rosita said, returning to the countertop with lime wedges, salt, and a bottle of tequila in her hands, “no offense, but you look like you’re going through some shit.”

“Is it that obvious?” Waverly groaned.

“Not at all.  It’s in the eyes.  Plus, I’m just that good,” she shot the girl another flirty week as Waverly downed the first shot.  Rosita immediately poured another one, which Waverly downed as well. And then a third. She felt the warmth flow through her body, causing her fingers to tingle and her mind to cloud a bit.  “Damn girl, that bad?” Rosita looked in on in playful horror as she poured yet another shot for the young brunette in front of her.

“I think I’m gay.  No, I am. Bi? I might be bi,” Waverly downed the fourth shot.  

“That’s not why you’re drinking though.” It was a statement, not a question.  Waverly looked at Rosita oddly for a moment, wondering how exactly she could have known that.

“No,” she started slowly, unsure if she was going to continue.  But the tequila had already gotten the better of her, and she suddenly found herself continuing to explain, much to her better judgment.  “There’s a girl,” Waverly rolled her eyes, realizing she was sounding like a love sick teenager.

“Oh?”  Rosita questioned, smirking with a raised eyebrow.  

“Yeah.  I don’t what’s going on.  I’m so confused. I like her.  I really like her. I just don’t know if she likes me and I don’t want to ruin our friendship,” Waverly banged her head against the table.  

“Well,” Rosita placed her elbows on the table, leaning over the counter towards Waverly, “Is there any reason why you think she might like you?” Waverly blinked, distracted by the swell of Rosita’s breasts accentuated by her leaning as she looked up from where her head was resting on the counter.  Damn, this tequila was getting to her.  Rosita was... hot.  Very hot.  But she didn't stop Waverly's heart only to send it racing like Nicole did.  Weirdly, her attraction to Rosita only made her miss the strong, kind ginger more.  She ached for Nicole in ways she had never before thought possible.  

“Uh, well… I don’t know honestly.  I’m probably reading too much into everything but there’s like these lingering touches and she gives me these looks and stuff and sometimes I feel like she’s going to kiss me but it doesn’t happen so it’s probably just me hoping that it will happen.  And then she texted me when she was really drunk and told me it was going to be hard being friends, but that’s probably because I’ve been pushing her away lately and she’s been great because she’s still there for me and I know that, but she has been avoiding me since I said that friends is good.   And she also said she likes me a lot and that I’m pretty, but maybe she meant that in more of a straight way, you know? Like as friends?” Waverly suddenly realized she was rambling and immediately shut her mouth, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. Thankfully, Rosita just seemed mildly amused by her ramblings.  

“I mean, it sure sounds like she likes you.  Is she into girls?”

“She is a lesbian, yes,” Waverly nodded, realizing how awkwardly she had worded that statement. 

“Wow.  You’re a fucking idiot,” Rosita scoffed with a half smile, pouring a fifth shot for Waverly, “I can tell that this girls is head over heels for you.  And even while you’re trying to make it seem like she might not like you like that, it’s still so clear she does. You’re an idiot.”

“Oh my god,” maybe it was the alcohol flowing through her veins, but suddenly everything was so clear.  Why was she so scared of rejection? Nicole had been so clear and she sent her a text about being friends.  Waverly downed the fifth shot, “I fudged this up,” she said with horror and regret clear in her widened eyes.  

“Not yet.  Just do something about it.  Not tonight.  But don’t continue being an idiot.  She’s a lucky girl, though. You just need to learn how to read signs,” Rosita placed a hand lightly over Waverly’s before flipping over her hand and scribbling in sharpie on her palm, “but just in case you still haven’t learned, if things don’t work out with your lesbian friend, this is my number.  And just in case you still don’t get that, this is my number for you to call me in a non-straight, non-friend, I would totally make a move on you right now if you weren’t very hung up on some other girl type way.” Waverly looked at her with wide eyes, her drunken mind not quite able to keep up with the situation.  Was she breathing? What was happening? Suddenly the attractive bartender was at the other side of bar, pouring drinks for some very inebriated men and not looking back over to where the young brunette sat.

Slowly, trying to get her footing without stumbling too bad, Waverly got up from the bar and made her way across the club to find Wynonna.  She was in the mood to go home now, and if Wynonna didn’t want to come, she was going to find some other way back. Waverly was feeling very drunk, very happy with the result of some casual flirting, and very determined.  

She needed to tell Nicole Haught how she felt, regardless of the consequences.  Maybe it was tequila brain talking, but she was going to do this. The not knowing was killing her, and she needed to know with Nicole.  She could tell this wasn’t some little crush that would go away soon, and she couldn’t even be friends with the way things stood. Not without breaking her own heart, continually pulling away, and then hurting Nicole.  

Waverly needed to be brave, do something that scared her.  That something was Nicole.

Chapter Text

Nicole was doing better.  

Well, maybe better was a strong word.  That first day, when she had gotten Waverly’s text, she had been a mess.  She felt as though her whole world had come crashing down around her in an instant.  Thankfully, Nedley had gone out to Shorty’s for happy hour shortly after the text came in and then was only back for an hour or so before he went home for the night.  Nicole had made her way through the rest of her shift in a daze. Her hangover was still crashing against her skull every time her eyes moved in their sockets and her heart was completely shattered.  

Lonnie asked her if she was alright, having seen her demeanor shift rapidly from excited and proud walking out of Nedley’s office to broken and small when she looked down at her phone.  But the ginger couldn’t talk about it, not right away. She was far from okay, but talking about it would make it real and she couldn’t make it real just yet, not when she still had the rest of her shift to get through.  She had the next day off, so she could go home and wallow in her sorrows then. For now, it wasn’t real. It had never happened. She wasn’t, couldn’t be, a broken mess over a girl who had never been hers—who never would have been hers, anyways.  

Nicole hadn’t responded to Waverly’s text, because what was she even supposed to say to that?  She hadn’t been stopping by Shorty’s or Clootie’s because, at this point, she knew it would just hurt her to see Waverly.  She needed a bit of time. So, it had been a week and she still hadn’t seen the gorgeous brunette, talked to her, or texted her.  While it still hurt to think about her, Nicole wasn’t plagued by the all consuming, constant reminders of Waverly as she had been at the beginning of the week.  

It didn’t help that, while she hadn’t gone out of her way to see Waverly, Waverly also had not tried to see or talk to Nicole.  The deputy knew that if Waverly had texted or stopped by or called or anything, her resolve would have crumbled in an instant. Screw the pain, she would have done anything Waverly wanted, anything she asked for, even if it killed her.  

But it had been a week, and nothing.  Waverly probably didn’t want anything to do with her and, after those texts, Nicole didn’t blame her.   She had taken what she had known was a friendship and pushed way too far. This was her fault and even though she was “avoiding” Waverly, she also knew she likely needed to give the brunette space after all that.  Maybe this was what was best for the both of them.

By the time she got back from her shift that night, it was one in the morning and Nicole was exhausted .  She pulled off her boots and uniform, leaving her in just her boxers and white cotton tee— she didn’t even have the energy to take off her bra at this point.  She needed sleep .  Just as she was burying her face in the pillow though, her phone started buzzing.  The redhead didn’t want to deal with this right now. If it was important, whoever was calling could leave a message or call again.  And soon enough, the buzzing stopped. Until, not even five seconds later, it began again. Groaning, Nicole pat the bedside table, fingers searching for the source of the buzzing before answering the call and placing the phone to her ear, not even bothering to check who it was that would be calling her at this hour.  

“‘Lo?” She grumbled into the phone, face still stuck in the fabric of her pillow.  

“N-Nicole?” A small, almost scared voice on the other end had the deputy sitting up in her bed so quickly she got a head rush.  

“Waverly?  Are you okay?  What’s wrong?” Even though she had been avoiding her for the past week, the tone of the younger girl’s voice— terrified, almost— scared the ginger more than she could possibly say, putting all of her own hurt out of her mind almost instantly.  

“I- I okay.  Jus’ tired. Wanted ta hear yer voice. I’m sleepin’ now tho.”  Nicole could hear a distinct slur in Waverly’s voice and, instinctively, her cop brain seemed to take over, listening to the background noises for any indication that Waverly might not be somewhere safe.  She heard rustling trees… the soft thud of feet on pavement until Waverly mentioned she was sleeping… the rumble of a car driving past? Out at the homestead, there was no way a car would be driving by at that hour of the night.  No one went that far out, meaning Waverly was walking in town somewhere, at one in the morning, about to fall asleep.

“Waverly, I need you to stay awake,” Nicole said with an urgency, pulling on a pair of jeans and quickly lacing the boots she had just taken off, suddenly awake.  She grabbed a blanket off her bed and ran out to her car as she continued to speak with Waverly, “I need you to talk to me, to tell me where you are, okay?”

“I- I went wi’ ‘Nonna.  To the tree wi’ the girls.”

“Waverly, I need you to tell me where you were, okay?  It’s okay, I’m going to come get you, just let me know where you are,” the deputy whispered gently into the phone.  

“I’m s-sorry, Nicole,” Waverly started to hyperventilate on the other side of the line, “I wa’ fine an’ happy an’ I was gonna— an’ I walkin’ home my head is so much, ya know?  S’much. I din’t know who else ta call,” Nicole could hear the full force of tears coming from the other end of the line, breaking her heart in two.

“Waverly, it’s fine, I promise you,” Nicole kept saying her name, trying in some way to reassure the brunette that she was there, that she was hearing her, that she was there for her.  “I need you to tell me where you are though, okay? Can you do that for me?”

“Th’ willow.  Wi’ girls. An’ lights.  I can’t ‘member, Nicole,” Waverly sounded distressed.  

“It’s okay, Waverly.  Was it Pussy Willows? Is that where you were?”

“Yea,” her voice sounded smaller now, anxious, afraid— ashamed.  

“Waverly, you don’t need to be embarrassed.  I’m already almost there, okay? You said you were on your way home, so I’m going to look for you on the road, but I want you to keep talking to me, okay?”  Nicole could hear Waverly still sobbing on the other end and, even though she was only on the phone, the urge to reach out, to hold her, to comfort her, to be with her was so strong she could barely stand it.  

“‘K.  I wa’ there, an’ ‘Nonna sai’ she ha’ a ride ‘ome fer us but she wa’ dancin’ with a mustache an’ I wa’ great, I wa’ so I wentta walk ‘ome an’ it wa’ cold an’ dark like my head an’ I’m scared so I call you an’ Imma sorry.”  As Waverly was talking, Nicole finally spotted her on the side of the road, shivering in a low-cut, sleeveless crop-top and short jean skirt. Parking the car on the side of the road, the redhead grabbed the blanket and quickly jumped out of the car, racing to where Waverly stood on the sidewalk.  Nicole wrapped the blanket around her before holding her tightly in her arms, her heart breaking as Waverly sobbed into her chest, returning the hug by tightly squeezing and clinging to her middle.

“It’s okay, it’s alright, I got you now,” Nicole said soothingly, one hand on the back of the head resting under her chin, the other moving steadily up and down the shorter girl’s back.  “You don’t ever need to apologize for calling me, Waverly. You know I told you, whenever you’re scared or you’re in a dark place, you call me, okay? No matter what happens, or where we are, or—” Nicole’s voices falters for a moment as regret sticks in her throat over what she had done the last week— “or what we’ve done.  I will always be here for you if you need me, okay? I’m so glad you called me tonight, because I would rather that a million times over than have you freeze to death on the side of the road because you were drunk enough to make the terrible decision to try to walk home, okay?”

“M’kay,” Waverly muttered.  The sobs had stopped at this point, but she still held tightly onto Nicole, taking deep breaths.  

“Alright, why don’t we take you home now, okay?” Nicole whispered gently into the brunette’s hair.  

“Don’ wanna be alone,” Waverly shivered into Nicole, huddling closer.  Nicole gulped as the shorter girl’s arms shifted slightly lower, grazing just above her ass, “You feel nice,” the deputy could have sworn she heard Waverly mumble into her chest.  

“Do you want to stay at my place for the night?” Nicole offered, realizing as she said it what a terrible idea this was on her end.  But the look on Waverly’s face— the look of hope, of awe— made the coming pain seem like it would be worth it.

“Yeah?” Waverly responded, more of a question than anything else, as though she wanted to make sure it was okay with Nicole, even though she had been the one to offer the idea in the first place.  

“Yeah,” she affirmed, pulling away reluctantly from Waverly’s tight hold, leading her back to her warmed car.  Embarrassingly enough, Nicole hadn’t managed to grab a jacket on her rush out the door, so all she was wearing was her thin white cotton tee and she was freezing .  So cold, in fact, that she was sure her nipples could be seen through the thin material of her bra and shirt.  But, if she didn’t look, then she wouldn’t have to know that for sure, and plus, Waverly didn’t see her like that, so what did she really have to be embarrassed about?  

As she slid into the driver’s seat, Waverly was already in the passenger side, curled up in the blanket with her eyes closed.  Deciding it best, Nicole let her rest for a bit, driving back to her apartment in silence, stealing glances at the girl beside her.  

When they finally reached the apartment, Nicole turned off the car, walking over to the passenger side of the car to gently lift a groggy Waverly out of the car.  Waverly leaned against Nicole’s solid frame, allowing her to lead her into the apartment and up the stairs, eyes closed most of the way there. Once inside the apartment, Nicole left Waverly’s side for a moment to grab a water bottle, which she handed to Waverly with the instructions to drink.  Waverly immediately did as she was told, gulping down the cool liquid.

“What’s that?” Nicole asked, making a move for Waverly’s hand, the one not holding the water.  She had only seen it out of the corner of her eye, so the dark markings on Waverly’s palm looked almost as though she might have hurt herself on something.  

“S’nothin’,” Waverly responded quickly, trying to pull her hand away.  When Nicole saw it for what it was— a phone number— a disappointed breath of understanding escaped her lips.  Understanding of what it was, and understanding of where she stood with Waverly. She had known, but something about this made it more final.  Nicole knew that, with how she felt, with any sort of chance of Waverly feeling the same— however completely unlikely— she knew that she could never get someone’s phone number.  But Waverly had, meaning that she didn’t feel the same.  She was looking for someone, and Nicole wasn’t on her radar.  Even though she had been patient, she had been there for her, Waverly still didn’t want her.  Trying to mask the hurt clenching at her chest, Nicole gave the brunette what probably looked more like a pained smile than the happy one she was aiming to give, releasing her hand.  

“Sorry, I thought you got hurt or something, but looks like you’re all good!” Nicole said chipperly.  Too chipperly.

“There wa’,” Waverly looked confused, as if trying to remember something, or trying to say something, or trying to do advanced calculus.  “Cute bartender. Tol’ me—” but Nicole didn’t want to hear any more. Couldn’t hear any more.  

“It’s alright, you don’t have to explain yourself, Waverly,” the redhead cut her off with a smile that even she could feel was wrong on her face.  

“No, Nicole—” She looked confused, frustrated.  What was Nicole doing? Was she stepping out of line again?  Was she making Waverly uncomfortable?

“It’s fine.  We’re friends,” she affirmed a little forcefully, “Just friends.”  It hurt to say, so much, but that’s what Waverly wanted. That’s what she had told her she wanted so many times, and now she was finally listening.  Not that she hadn’t been listening before, but she was starting to accept it. Trying to.

“Stop,” Waverly’s drunken haze seemed to lift for a moment as she said the word— no, she slammed the word into Nicole, who looked at her, shocked and confused.  Before she knew it, Waverly was reaching for her face, closing her eyes, about to kiss her— this is what Nicole had wanted for so long, this was everything she had dreamed about, that Waverly would want her.  Would need Nicole, just like she needed her.  This was it, this was everything— but then Nicole turned her head so Waverly’s soft lips met her cheek.  

“Waverly, what are you doing?” Nicole asked, the pain evident in her voice.  The words sounded small, broken. Waverly had someone else’s phone number on her hand.  Nicole had as good as told her how she felt, but she rejected her. She said she wanted to stay friends, and then she had someone else’s number on her hands, and she was still trying to kiss her.  The pain, the confusion, the agony played an intricate dance against each other in Nicole’s head.  

“Bu’—” the drunken haze seemed to return, confusion setting into the delicate features.  

“Waverly,” Nicole sighed, feeling her heart continue to break for what seemed like the millionth time that night, “We’re friends, like you said.  That’s it. You’re very drunk, and you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s fine, I understand that you want someone right now, but I can’t be that for you, not like that .  I’m sorry, Waverly, and I know I said I’d do anything for you, but I can’t be that person.  You said we’re friends, okay? I can’t be a..." she took a deep breath, "I can't be a regret,” Nicole blinked, trying to keep the tears from welling in the back of her eyes, pressing against them; trying to keep them from spilling out.  

“Ni—” Waverly started, only to be cut off again.  

“I’m going to bring you up to my bed, then I’m going to sleep on the couch, okay?” It was more of a statement than a question, even if it was framed as the latter.  Waverly looked for a moment as though she were about to argue before looking into the hardened stare of Nicole and seemingly deciding against it. The brunette nodded sheepishly, allowing Nicole to lead her up the stairs to her bedroom.  Once there, Nicole rummaged through some drawers, pulling out one of her smaller t-shirts and a pair of soft, grey cotton shorts, leaving them on the bed for Waverly before turning around.

“N-Nicole?” the younger woman stuttered, “I-I’m sorry bu’ I- it’s….” Nicole turned around in concern when she heard Waverly burst into tears.  The brunette was trying to pull her top off, but her arms didn’t appear to be cooperating with her.

“It’s okay, Waverly, I got you,” Nicole assured her, moving to Waverly’s side.  She moved her fingers under the hem of the crop top, grazing the muscles of Waverly’s stomach inadvertently, feeling them twitch beneath her.  Gulping, she looked away, a blush creeping on her cheeks, “Is this okay?” Nicole saw Waverly nod her consent out of the corner of her eye as she pulled the shirt over her head.  Averting her eyes, Nicole tried not to notice the breasts spilling out of the strapless bra, the goosebumps on her chest, the abs .  Quickly, she grabbed the t-shirt from beside the bed and guided Waverly’s head and arms through their respective holes.  

“Ca—” the brunette started, before stopping herself.  The ginger took a deep breath and finally looked into Waverly’s eyes again, silently urging her to continue, to let her know that she could ask her anything. “Can you?” Her eyes pleaded, her fingers pointing to her back.  Nicole closed her eyes for a moment before nodding, reaching around and under the shirt to unclasp Waverly’s bra, trying to pull her hands away as quickly as she could. How many times she had dreamed of doing this, taking off her bra, Waverly on her bed— but not like this .  And Waverly… she looked at Nicole with eyes full of— full of something .  Something that Nicole couldn’t quite place, couldn’t quite put her finger on.  

Clearing her throat, Nicole hastily removed Waverly’s skirt, trying to not let her breath catch as she pulled it down her toned thighs, took in the sight of the lacy black thong, barely covering— no.  She tore her eyes away, finishing dressing Waverly by putting on the grey shorts. Nicole gently guided her down, pulling the covers around the sleepy brunette, feeling an ache in her heart as she watched the girl of her dreams nestle under the covers of the bed— her bed — and sigh contently.  Against her better judgment, Nicole smoothed the hair on the top of Waverly’s head, pressing her lips gently to her forehead.  Leaving Waverly’s side for the dresser instead, Nicole pulled off her jeans, leaving herself in her boxers, thankfully she had chosen these this morning instead of her more often chosen boy-shorts.  Making her way to go out of the bedroom, she stopped when she heard a quiet voice from the bed.

“‘Cole?” Waverly muttered groggily.

“Yeah?” The reply was soft.

“Stay wi’ me?”   Silence .  “Please?” A heartbeat.  More silence.

“Okay, Waverly,” Nicole knew this was a mistake— she knew it— but she crossed the room, back over to the bed, crawling in next to Waverly who immediately scooted back into Nicole, her back pressed against the ginger’s breasts, her ass fitting perfectly into the curve of her body.  The deputy could not stop her breath from hitching this time and could only hope that Waverly had not heard— or, if she had heard, that she would not remember come morning. The brunette sighed in satisfaction before grabbing Nicole’s wrist and pulling her arm around her.  This was a mistake .  A big mistake.  Nicole’s heart was being torn out of her chest right now because this, this was what she wanted more than anything in the world.  She was being given a taste of it right now and God it was sweeter than anything she could have imagined.   This is what could be, what Nicole wanted to be more than anything in the world, and yet what she knew would never happen.  Not really. And that killed her. But if it made Waverly happy, if Waverly needed this right now to feel safe, to be safe from herself, then that’s what Nicole would do.  Because she knew that she would always put her own happiness, her own heart, aside if it meant Waverly could be happy, and that was never a question. Waverly came first, even if it did kill her.  With that thought, she pulled the brunette closer against her, deciding to enjoy the moment while it lasted.  They would talk about all this tomorrow; until then, Nicole was content to just hold her.  

* * * * * *

The next morning, Nicole woke to the sun warm on her face.  She lay in bed for a moment, enjoying the warmth, recalling the events of the night before.  If she stayed here for a bit longer, with her eyes closed, she wouldn’t have to accept that last night would never happen again.  She could keep last night going for a bit longer. The ginger turned, eyes still closed, reaching for the brunette beside her— who should have been beside her, that is.  When Nicole’s fingers met the cool emptiness of the mattress beside her, her eyes flew open. It took a moment before she realized— Waverly was gone. She hadn’t stayed. Of course she hadn’t stayed .  

In her stead, Nicole found her t-shirt and shorts folded neatly, a note on top.  

I’m sorry .   Can we please just pretend last night never happened?  I don’t want to ruin our friendship. I hope you can forgive me.  -Waverly

Clutching the note, Nicole felt all the tears from the night before break through the dam, rushing out, hot across her face as the sobs wracked her body.  That was it. That was the closest she would ever get to Waverly and it was gone .  She had stopped anything from happening and she was still a regret.  She had Waverly in her bed, holding her against her, and last night drunk Waverly had wanted her.  But sober Waverly knew it was a mistake.  Sober Waverly wanted to pretend it never happened.  Because the real Waverly didn’t want Nicole.

Reading the note again, Nicole focused on the last line.   I hope you can forgive me .  

Could she?  Waverly had hurt her more than she could ever imagine.  But that was the thing, Waverly couldn’t imagine how much she hurt Nicole because she didn’t know .  It wasn’t Waverly’s fault, but even if it had been, Nicole still would have forgiven her.  She would always forgive her, no matter what.

Even if she broke her heart every day for the rest of her life.  

Chapter Text

Consciousness didn’t come all at once.  It came slowly, one sense at a time.

First, smell.  Soft and sweet, but not too sweet.   Vanilla dipped donuts… Waverly breathed in, comforted by the scent.  

She heard soft snores coming from behind her— well, not snores, exactly, more gentle than that.  The breathing was heavy, laden with sleep, the sound methodic and relaxing.

Waverly felt the breaths on her neck, caressing her skin, warming it.  Strong arm wrapped around her, pulling her closely against a body. A soft body, one she fit against perfectly.  

Taste… was that alcohol she still tasted?  Tequila? Where was she again?

Finally, sight.  Waverly’s eyes flew open as memories started to flood her brain, recollections of the night before.  She took in her surroundings, all of her senses suddenly hitting her— merging, pounding. She lay on Nicole’s bed, secure in her arms, back pressed up against her, and she remembered .

She remembered Rosita, telling her she needed to go for it, but being warned: “ Not tonight. ”  She recalled walking out of the club having seen Wynonna preoccupied, convinced she could walk the miles back to the homestead without a problem.  It was then that the full force of the alcohol had hit her, clouding her mind and amplifying her senses. Everything around her suddenly seemed more .  The darkness, the cold, the loneliness .  It had started to be too much, too real.  Waverly hadn’t been thinking clearly, but she had been cold and alone and afraid and she wanted Nicole— she needed Nicole.  

So Waverly had called her.  Twice. As soon as Nicole had picked up, Waverly felt a wave of relief wash over her.  That’s all she had needed, just to hear her voice, to know that Nicole was real, to know that she was there.  The calm surrounded her, comforting her as the full force of her exhaustion hit her. Nicole was there, on the other end of the line, everything was okay… she could rest now, just for a little….

But then Nicole had asked her where she was, had told Waverly she was coming to pick her up, and suddenly Nicole was too real.  Waverly realized that she was calling Nicole at one in the morning, probably waking her up, and now she was leaving her house because of Waverly.  She was bothering Nicole and this was her fault. She had tried to apologize but she didn’t know what she was saying and suddenly Nicole was there .  

Nicole wrapped a blanket around her, holding Waverly in her arms, anchoring her.  Waverly remembered just standing there, breathing her in, safe .  Nicole said she would take her home but Waverly just wanted to stay in that moment forever— she didn’t want to be alone.  So Nicole offered for Waverly to stay at her place which, looking back on it, Waverly now realized that accepting was a mistake.

Nicole had seen the number on Waverly’s palm and she tried to explain it, but she couldn’t get the words out fast enough, and Nicole was pulling away, saying they were just friends and it was fine , but it was so obviously not fine , so Waverly tried to tell her, but Nicole wouldn’t listen and then Waverly was leaning in to finally kiss her because god dammit if Nicole wasn’t going to listen she was going to show her—

But Nicole turned away.  She asked Wavery what she was doing, sounding so hurt and Waverly had done that to her.  She had caused Nicole’s pain. More important than that, though, now Waverly knew.

Maybe Nicole hadn’t ever liked her like that.  Maybe she had and Waverly had said ‘just friends’ one too many times so Nicole was done and couldn’t take it anymore.  At this point, it didn’t matter anymore, because now Waverly knew .  Nicole rejected her and if Waverly ever had a chance— any at all— it was gone now.   Suddenly Nicole seemed cold and hard, not looking Waverly in the eyes, leading her up to her bedroom, turning away from her, trying to leave—

Waverly was still very drunk.  She felt rejected but she wanted comfort and she wanted Nicole to be the one comforting her.  So the alcohol coursing through her repressed the anxiety, the shame, the humiliation just enough to allow Waverly to ask for Nicole to stay.  And the redhead didn’t want to— that much was obvious by her hesitation, the guarded way in which she agreed and crawled into her own bed so stiffly, so tentatively.  Still, Waverly pulled Nicole’s arm around her, pressing herself against her because she was drunk and she needed her but that was no excuse if Nicole was uncomfortable and didn’t want this.  

Waverly had forced Nicole into something she didn’t want and still, thinking about it in the cold light of day, the anxiety constricting her chest, all she wanted was to turn into Nicole, to curl up against her with her head on the ginger’s chest, to feel her arms holding her securely, tightly.  Even though Nicole didn’t want that— didn’t want her — Waverly still needed Nicole.  

Waverly wanted Nicole so much it hurt, but she couldn’t deal with the humiliation when Nicole woke, not today at least.  Breathing still shallow from the anxiety in her veins, Waverly gently scooted out from Nicole’s arms wrapped around her, careful to not wake her.  Now sitting on the edge on the bed, Waverly looked back at Nicole, still sleeping peacefully. Without Waverly in her arms, Nicole curled up under the sheets, grabbing the pillow beside her, sighing deeply, contentedly.  Waverly felt her heart both swell and break at the sight— she really liked Nicole, and this was all she ever wanted… but she also knew it was what she could never have.

Quickly, Waverly changed back into her clothes from the night before, folding the borrowed pajamas and placing them on the bed where she had been sleeping only moments before.  Waverly was halfway out the door before realizing she couldn’t leave like this, without saying anything. She had to give some sort of explanation of where she was… she and Nicole were friends after all.  Tearing a page out of the notebook on Nicole’s bedside table, Waverly tried to start writing a note, battling the screaming voices in her head to get words onto the page.

She doesn’t want you.  She never did. You’re pathetic and stupid to think she ever did.  

No.  No. She did want me.  At one point she did. And I messed up, but what if she still could?   Waverly’s hand stilled, holding the pen above the paper, hesitating in her writing.  

Even if she did, you’ve mucked it up now, haven’t you?  You kept saying just friends and did you see that look on her face?  You slept in her bed with another girl’s number on your palm and you called that girl cute .  Even if she did want you, she doesn’t now .

And that was logic that every part of Waverly agreed with.  Closing her eyes briefly, attempting to hold back sobs, Waverly reopened her eyes to write the note.  

I’m sorry .   Can we please just pretend last night never happened?  I don’t want to ruin our friendship. I hope you can forgive me.  -Waverly

Heart shattered, Waverly left Nicole’s without looking back, knowing if she did, she might never be able to leave.  

* * * * * *

By the time Waverly had woken up, it was nearing ten o’clock; with her excursion the night before, she had not ended up falling asleep until around two-thirty in the morning, so it did make sense.  Luckily, Waverly had the noon to nine shift at Shorty’s, a fifteen minute walk from Nicole’s, and she always carried the key with her on the underside of her phone case. On the way over, Waverly rubbed at her palm, removing the ink from the phone number aggressively, continuing to rub even after it was gone.  

Waverly headed into Shorty’s, palm now angry and red, surprised to see Shorty already there.  

“Hey kid, you’re early,” he looked her over, suspicion creeping into his features.  

“Yeah, I was just in town and didn’t want to head out to the homestead only to come back in a couple hours.  Do you want me to wait or start now?” Waverly asked quickly, giving half-truths in an effort to conceal the exact reason why she was here.   Because she was a coward .  

“Now’s good.  You okay?” Shorty apparently had not believed her completely, something Waverly had mostly expected.  That man had always been able to read her like a book.

“Yeah, all good.  Just want to work,” she smiled at him in an effort to alleviate any concerns.  

“Right,” Shorty seemed to be accepting the answer for now, much to Waverly’s relief, “Start on the glasses.”  He threw her a rag, which the brunette caught deftly in one hand.

“Aye aye, Captain,” Waverly winked, grateful to have a distraction for the next eleven hours.  

* * * * * *

It was nearing the end of her shift and Waverly was done .  She was tired, stressed, and terribly broken hearted.  She wanted nothing more than to see Nicole, but she wouldn’t be able to face her if she started talking about what happened last night.  Which, Nicole being the wonderful, kind, understanding person that she was, was something she would definitely want to do. She would want to make sure she and Waverly were on the same page, that Waverly was comfortable and okay and that was something Waverly could not handle right now.  She didn’t want to be okay , she either wanted Nicole to be with her in every way possible or she wanted to wallow in her own self-pity and heartbreak until she gathered herself enough to handle the thought of just being friends.  The idea that she had been forcing on Nicole for so long, the idea that she couldn’t stand now.

She wanted Nicole.  But, at least for the next couple days, if she couldn’t have her, Waverly didn’t think she could bear being around her.  Waverly continued scrubbing the table, the same spot, over and over, again, thinking about Nicole, her smile, her laugh, her dimples, her lips…

“Think that spot’s clean enough yet?” Shit .  That voice… soft, melodic, somehow able to send Waverly’s heart into overdrive.  She slowly looked up, seeing a vision before her. The light from the window framed Nicole’s head, streaming through her hair, giving the appearance of a fiery halo.  She smiled at Waverly, showing her dimples, and Waverly broke .  She wanted to cry and hold her and kiss her and the bar was empty now and all that separated them was this stupid bartop and her own idiocy but she was frozen .  

“Nicole,” Waverly breathed, tears forming in her eyes, “I’m so—”

“Hey,” Nicole’s smile was sweet; she placed her hand on top of Waverly’s, connecting them from across the bar and Waverly couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.  It was just Nicole, only Nicole. “I understand, alright?” And Waverly didn’t know what Nicole understood, or what she thought she understood, but dammit it if that wasn’t exactly what she needed to hear right now.  

“Ilikeyou,” the words came rushed, muttered, with Waverly looking down at their hands on the counter, red-faced— somehow their fingers had become intertwined and God if Nicole didn’t have perfect fingers along with everything else.  She said it so quietly she wasn’t sure if Nicole noticed, but apparently she had because suddenly the fingers intertwined with hers were gone and Nicole was leaving because Waverly had messed up again and now she was out of her life forever and—

She felt the presence of a tall frame at her side, strong arms enveloping her as Waverly hugged the ginger’s body tightly against her own, squeezing her waist.  Nicole hadn’t left at all— she had come around to the other side of the bar to be with Waverly, to hold her, to let her know she was there and she wasn’t leaving .  After a few moments of Waverly laying her head against Nicole’s chest, feeling in every part of her the steady rhythm of the deputy’s heart, she felt a finger lifting her chin lightly so she could stare into soft brown eyes.  

“I like you, too,” Nicole smiled down at her and Waverly’s heart leapt .  It seemed to be beating so wildly now, she had to wonder for a moment whether it was still in her chest.  And then Nicole was leaning down towards her, and then her lips were on Waverly’s, and it was everything she could have ever imagined.  There were fireworks and butterflies and it felt right .  When Nicole finally pulled away from the kiss, Waverly just stood there, spellbound, eyes still closed.  She didn’t want to open them because then it would mean that this moment would be over, this perfect, beautiful, magical—

“Waverly?  Waverly? You in there?”

Waverly’s eyes flew open to find Shorty there and she was… in the store room?  Alone with Shorty? Where had Nicole gone?

“Hey, kid, breaks up.  Get enough sleep last night?”  The stout man asked gruffly, concern evident in his features.   She had dreamt it all.  It was all a dream. Nicole hadn’t been there at all .  

“Yeah… I just… God, Shorty, I messed up.” Waverly sighed, her still half-asleep state apparently shutting off her filter completely.  

“Is this about the deputy?” Shorty said with a knowing glance.  

“Wha— no— I mean, it’s— what?” Waverly sputtered.  Shorty must be thinking of a different situation than she was because there was no way that he could possibly know…

“Kid, I’ve seen the way that girl looks at you.  There is nothing you could possibly do to mess anything up in her eyes,” his kind words were accompanied by a role of the eyes, giving them a very Shorty-like quality.  

“Shorty… I messed up really bad.  She doesn’t… I tried and she didn’t…”

“Kid.  Look at me,” Waverly brought her eyes up to meet Shorty’s deep blue ones, “There is nothing, and I mean nothing , you could ever do to stop that look in her eyes.  Not at this point at least. Now, I know you’ve been through some shit, and I can’t fault you for that, but you’ve been pushing her away.  And I know you’re scared, but did you ever think she’s scared too? You forget, I’ve been here. I’ve seen you two. And you keep your distance and kid, she’s giving it to you, and maybe that’s what she’s still trying to do.   For you .  You’re both idiots, but just talk to her and actually use words.  You talk enough, you’d think you’d know how to use them.” Shorty’s arms were folded across his chest as he looked down at Waverly with a frustrated, yet understanding expression.  

“Yeah— I mean— thank you.  Thank you, Shorty,” Waverly blushed, looking down again.  

“Alright, now you’ve got to get back to work, because these patrons won’t serve themselves, ya hear?  Then tomorrow, work the opening shift. Leave around 4 or 5. That’s when Nedley usually comes for happy hour.”  Waverly could have swore she saw a wink, but Shorty was already out of the storage room door before she could tell for certain.  

Tomorrow.  

After all, tomorrow is another day…

Waverly groaned to herself— quoting Gone With the Wind  at a time like this.  But it was true, tomorrow was another day.  And maybe, just maybe, tomorrow would be her day.  

 

Chapter Text

Waverly didn’t want her.  That much was clear. And it was getting easier… in a way.  Nicole had just been repeating in her head, “ She doesn’t want you ,” ever since yesterday morning and it was tearing her apart, but she needed to tell herself that so maybe she could accept it.  Waverly didn’t want her. There was nothing more that could be done because they were friends .  But maybe, at least for a couple days, Nicole could put the whole friends thing on hold.  She wanted to be there for Waverly, she really did, but she didn’t think she could. At least, not right now.  Not while the pain of knowing— knowing for certain — was still fresh in her heart.  

Nicole tried to focus on the paperwork in front of her, the mantra still thundering in her head, against her skull.  It hurt— goddamn did it hurt— but she needed to keep playing the phrase on repeat until it didn’t hurt any longer, until she could look at Waverly and not feel as though her heart was being torn out of her chest.  She just didn’t know if that would ever truly be possible.

“Haught, there’s a disturbance on West Main, so if you want, I can take it and you can man the station,” Lonnie cut through her thoughts.  

“Hmmm?” Nicole tried to get her mind back on the present, “Oh, yeah, ‘course.  That’s fine,” she nodded.

“Alright, well, Nedley left five minutes ago for Shorty’s, don’t know if you heard”—she hadn’t— “so it’s just you right now.  And then, when we get off shift, we’re going to Pussy Willows because you need to cut loose,” he managed to slide in the last direction with a wink and a sly smile while heading out the door.  

“Lonnie, no!  Get back here!” the redhead tried to argue, but he was already mostly out the door.  

“Don’t complain, Haught!  Just do it! It’s what you need, loosen up,” Nicole rolled her eyes as she heard the front door shut behind him.  She knew Nedley would be gone until his shift was up since he got off early tonight, meaning he wasn’t coming back to the station.  Then Lonnie would probably head out on patrol after dealing with the disturbance, leaving her alone in the station for the next few hours.  Just Nicole and her mind.

The first half hour passed slowly as Nicole mostly spent it staring up at the clock, willing the hours to tick by faster.  At some point shortly after the first half hour was up, an old blue-hair named Susan came in, complaining about her neighbors and their “hubbub” and “awful music,” telling Nicole that something needed to be done about it right that instant.  No, they weren’t being disruptive at the moment. No, she didn’t have any proof of nefarious activity. No, there had been no previous complaints filed against those particular neighbors. It took a while for Nicole to convince Susan that the thing to do would be to call the station and put in a noise complaint when it was actually happening, but finally the redhead was able to get through to her and Susan seemed appeased.  

Just as Susan was finally leaving the office, a short, gorgeous brunette made her way in.  Her long, brown hair was straightened today, pulled back at the top. She wore a long scarf, a fluffy blue jacket, tight blue jeans that clung to her toned legs, and fluffy boots.  

Waverly.  

Seeing her standing in front of her, Nicole felt the world stop.  Shit. Now that she was here, Nicole could feel her heart breaking, but also beat far too quickly.  This girl was going to be the death of her.

“Hey, Nedley out for dinner?”  Waverly asked with an urgency, though Nicole wasn’t sure why.  She tried to play it off as though she was calm and collected, and not feeling a whole mess of emotions over the fact that Waverly was right across the counter from her.  

“You mean happy hour at Shorty’s?” She asked with a roll of the eyes.  She tried to keep everything she was feeling out of her voice, but she felt as though it just came off as dead sounding.  Better than angry or hurt though.

“Yeah.”

“Same time every day, kind of like clockwork.” But before Nicole could even finish or realize what was happening, Waverly was already pushing through the partition, making her way behind the counter and towards Nedley’s office.  She didn’t even look at Nicole, determination clear on her face.

“Hey, Wave—” Nicole tried to call out after her, but by the time she could put together what was going on, the brunette was already in Nedley’s office, taking off her purse and jacket, shutting the blinds.  The deputy was absolutely dumbstruck, having no idea what was going on. Finally, she got herself off the chair and followed her into Nedley’s office, “Hey!”

“Excuse me,” Waverly pushed Nicole aside, still refusing to look at her, reaching her hand out for the door.  Normally Nicole had all the patience in the world, but with all the uncertainty around Waverly, the feelings Nicole had, and the way the brunette was acting right now,  and the throbbing break in her heart, the ginger was quickly losing her temper.

“What is your problem?” She cut harshly in exasperation, “I get it.  We’re friends. You’ve said a million times, and I’m going to respect that, but I don’t understand why you—” But suddenly, the door was closed and Nicole felt a hand grip the back of her neck, another on her shoulder, soft lips on her own, hungry and strong, pushing her backwards and suddenly she couldn’t breath.  The world around her stopped, and Waverly Earp— Waverly Earp —was kissing her.  She suddenly felt her back hit the couch and Waverly was on top of her and what was happening?  Nicole was so confused. She loved where this was going, but she needed to know why it was happening before it went any farther.  Against her better judgment, the redhead pushed through the clouding of her mind and the desire to lean in to deepen the kiss, gently pulling Waverly off of her.  Part of her was already regretting this choice, because what if Waverly changed her mind? What if she didn’t want Nicole like that and this was the only chance she’d ever have to kiss the gorgeous woman in front of her?  On the other hand, if this wasn’t actually what Waverly wanted and it was a mistake, Nicole did need to know before it went any farther or risk hurting herself even more than she was already hurting.

“What happened to friends?” Nicole asked breathlessly.  Waverly jumped up, gripping the back of the couch, still sitting in between Nicole’s legs and placing a hand on her upper thigh, beginning to draw shapes on it absentmindedly.  Nicole gulped and tried to remain focused as Waverly stared into Nicole’s eyes for a moment with an unreadable expression before she answered.

“You know what I've always wanted?”

“What?” Nicole asked more out of confusion than in response to the beautiful brunette still laying on top of her, pushing herself up onto her elbows so she was no longer lying on the couch but kind of sitting up.  What did this have to do with anything ?

“To parachute out of a plane at fifteen thousand feet,” when Nicole responded with a look of skepticism, Waverly just doubled down on what she was saying, “Yeah. To swim far out into the ocean so I can't see the bottom anymore. To eat geoduck.”

“Isn't that the one that looks like a p-”

“Yeah, it is,” the younger woman cut her off so she wouldn’t have to say the word, “The point is, I've always wanted to do the things that scare me. But, well, it’s not so easy to be brazen when the thing that you want, that scares you to death, is sitting right in front of you.”  Waverly gave a soft, timid smile.

“I scare you?” The deputy could feel her heart pounding out of her chest, swelling with emotion and adoration for the girl in front of her.  She scared Waverly? How was that possible? Nicole was just… Nicole, but Waverly… Waverly was brave.  She was smart, funny, gorgeous, kind… how could it be possible that she should be afraid of Nicole?

“Yes."  The brunette said it as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.  "Yes, you do.  Because I don’t want to be friends,” Waverly wet her lips quickly and Nicole found herself unable to breathe.  Was this happening? Was this really, truly happening? Sure, Waverly had just attacked her and climbed her like a tree, but there was still a part of her that thought that maybe she still wanted to be just friends.  A very crazy part that took solid evidence and turned it against herself, but a part of her nonetheless. “When I think about what I want to do most in this world… it’s you,” the redhead smirked at the unintended innuendo and Waverly seemed to realize what she had just said.  “Oh, God, that sounded so much more romantic in my head.” Still looking slightly embarrassed, Waverly now leaned towards the deputy, teasing her, but still with an air of uncertainty,

“Wait you’re not—” Nicole stared in fear for a moment.  Three nights ago, when Waverly tried to kiss her, she had been out of her mind drunk.  What if she was drunk again? What if, without realizing it, Nicole had become the experiment she had feared?  What if Waverly didn’t actually want her? What if she had finally gotten to kiss Waverly Earp and she would never be able to do it again?

“Drunk again?  No. I just… I was too scared before.  Of you. Of wanting you, of you not wanting me, to go for anything.  I was terrified. Because Nicole, you’re the best thing that’s happened to me in a really long time.  It just feels right with you, and I don’t want to have to go around pretending that ‘just friends’ is fine with me anymore because I like you.  As more than a friend. And if you want to be friends, that’s fine too, but I want more than that, Nicole. And I need you to know that. And I’m so tired of these miscommunications because neither of us will come out and say it but I think you like me too, Nicole, and you haven’t told me I’m wrong yet, so let’s just say how we feel when we feel it and cut the bullshit .” Waverly cut off her rambling then as Nicole stared at the gorgeous woman in front of her.  Her brain started going into overdrive, trying to process everything that was happening. Waverly liked her.   Liked liked her.  Sober, sane, gorgeous, smart, kind, wonderful Waverly liked her.  Nicole wasn’t sure how long she stared, speechless at Waverly before she could see the doubts start to crease Waverly’s brow.  “Just jump in any time, Nicole, because I really, really don’t know how to do this.”

“Oh, sure you do,” Nicole didn’t mean to be such a tease, but her mind still couldn’t go fast enough to process everything that was happening.  The girl of her dreams wanted her back. She actually liked her as well. The ginger was still convinced she was going to wake up and find out that none of this was real, but if this was a dream, she was still going to enjoy it.  Thankfully, Waverly could see her teasing for what it was, smiling suggestively at the deputy.  

“Maybe I should just stop talking,” Waverly’s pupils were dilating as Nicole stared into them, top teeth gently pulling at her bottom lip.  

“See, you’re getting better at this already,” Nicole gently grabbed Waverly’s scarf in either hand, wrapping it gently around her palms in an attempt to pull the brunette closer to her.  

“Maybe you should stop talking too,” the younger woman’s eyes flashed with something— was it desire, or was that just Nicole’s own feelings reflecting into the gorgeous green eyes in front of her?

“Maybe you should make me,” Nicole flashed the most confident grin she could, showing off her dimples, trying not to let on that her stomach had dropped five minutes ago, that there was an ache between her thighs, that her heart was beating wildly in her chest, that her mouth was suddenly completely dry.  All of a sudden, Waverly’s lips were on hers again, moving against them as though they had been practicing this their whole lives. Nicole breathed in her scent, sweet and mellow, and time stood still. Finally, after two months, she was doing what she had wanted to do since the moment she had laid eyes on the brunette and it was completely worth the wait.  But she needed more.

“Wait—” Waverly pulled back for a moment, causing Nicole to freeze.  “This is… this is real, right? This isn’t a dream?” The brunette seemed hesitant, actually unsure, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.  

“Of course, Waves.  It’s as real as you want it to be,” Nicole reassured her, eyes softening and smiling at the beautiful women on top of her.  

“Good,” Waverly smiled again, recapturing Nicole’s lips in her own.  Quickly, with a smoothness she didn’t realize she was capable of, Nicole flipped their positions, sitting up and sliding Waverly underneath her so she was now on top.  Waverly moaned into the kiss, breathing heavily and gripping the back of Nicole’s neck tightly. Feeling the brunette’s hips buck slightly, almost imperceptibly, up into hers gave Nicole the confidence to run her hand down to the crook of Waverly’s knee, pulling it up against her side as they moved against one another in a perfectly choreographed dance.  Nicole breathed Waverly in, running her hand up her thigh, feeling the brunette’s body arched up against hers as her heart felt like it was exploding in her chest.

Chapter Text

Waverly was kissing Nicole Haught.  

The words didn’t seem to do the action justice though, because this was more than any other kiss she had ever shared in her life.  Maybe it was the fact that she had been building up to this moment for two months, had been aching to kiss Nicole, to run her hands over the strong arms, to twist her fingers through the bright red locks at the base of her neck… the fact that she was here now, actually doing it, that Nicole was kissing her back… her heart swelled with emotions.  

Waverly gasped against Nicole’s lips— Nicole’s —, trying to pull everything about Nicole closer to herself, to feel the sweet friction of her body pushed up against her own, to melt into her.  Nicole had pulled Waverly’s leg up around her waist, sending a shot of desire through the brunette, who moaned and bucked her hips in response, hooking her pulled up leg between the back of the ginger’s legs.  She squeezed her leg against Nicole’s ass, pulling the woman on top of her closer into her throbbing center, eliciting a surprised gasp from Nicole that quickly turned into a low, throaty moan. Waverly gyrated further, aching for more friction between her legs, for release.  

Waverly wasn’t thinking—couldn’t think—not with Nicole right there, her sweet vanilla scent washing over her, drawing her closer so she might breathe her in.  Finally, after what could have been a matter of seconds or hours—Waverly had lost all ability to track time—Nicole pulled away for a moment to catch her breath, but this allowed Waverly a moment to start thinking.  To have thoughts come barrelling through her defences, things that she had stored away to not think about.

Images came flooding back, freezing her in place.  Her fingers slacked on the nape of Nicole’s neck and her breathing, having slowed down for a moment came out faster.  She felt her gaze shift out of focus for a moment, as she felt Nicole’s weight leave her. Where was she going? Waverly needed Nicole there, to just be next to her, to know she wasn’t leaving.  Thankfully, after a minute she realized that Nicole hadn’t left. She was sitting up on the couch now, having shifted Waverly into an upright position as well without the younger woman having ever even realized it.  Waverly felt Nicole rubbing large, slow circles on her back with the heel of her palm, felt her eyes boring into the side of her skull, felt the sudden tension of concern swell between them. But once her vision came back into focus, once she blinked the images out of her mind, once she regained a steady breath, Waverly just stared at her lap, at the hands now clasped together, one thumb rubbing against another as though attempting to rub down to the bone, a feeling of shame washing over her.  

“Hey, there,” she heard Nicole whisper gently, “I’m sorry if I… if I did something….” Waverly started at that, finally looking up into the warm, hurt brown eyes beside her.  She had let Nicole think that she had done something wrong, when she hadn't. Waverly was just… Waverly didn’t know what was happening. She was fine and then… and then she wasn’t.  

“I… I’m sorry.  It’s not you, Nicole.  Believe me, I’ve been wanting to do that since the night we met and I do not regret it, it’s just…” Waverly felt her face flush with embarrassment, but she saw the look of relief flicker across Nicole’s face for a moment before returning to a look of concern.  She wanted to make sure Nicole knew that she still wanted this—wanted her—and she wanted her to know what had happened. Where her mind had gone. She deserved to know. “I, uh, I’ve wanted to do that for a while, as you know, and I was… um, well, I was really enjoying it.  Like really,” Waverly felt her blush deepen, but she still snuck a side glance at Nicole, offering an apologetic smile. Nicole returned it timidly, a blush beginning to form on her cheeks as well, eyes still brimming with concern.

“Waverly, I’m so sorry if I went too far and it wasn’t comfortable, I should have asked—”

“Nicole, stop.  I kissed you… if anything I should have asked.  Oh, shit, I didn’t ask… I just jumped you because I was so nervous and I didn’t even think, I mean, if you even wanted—”

“Waverly Earp, you are free to kiss me anytime you want.  I’m so sorry that—”

“Nicole, please stop apologizing.  It wasn’t you. It was... ehhh, don’t look at me okay?” Waverly grinned nervously, apologetically in Nicole’s direction.  Thankfully, the ginger just nodded understandingly, turned her head, and, moving her hand from the circles it had been rubbing on Waverly’s back, she squeezed Waverly’s hand comfortingly.  Waverly breathed in deeply, taking comfort in the gentle touch. “Okay, well the thing is, I was getting very turned on, and you’re um… you’re a really good kisser, so I wasn’t thinking, because I mean how can I think when you’re like, well, when you’re doing that to me, and I was getting way too carried away because I’ve wanted this for so long, but then you stopped for a minute and I don’t even know why, but suddenly—” Waverly felt her throat close as the fear coursed through her.  

“Waves…” Nicole turned back to face her, drawing soothing patterns onto Waverly’s hand with her thumb, giving the brunette strength.  

“I’m sorry.  It’s so stupid, because I know you wouldn’t, because you’re not him and you wouldn’t do that, I know that, but when I could think again for some reason I just… My eyes were closed and there was someone on top of me and I just went back there and… I couldn’t get out of my head for a minute because I kept seeing him on top of me and, and I’m so sorry, Nicole,” Waverly muttered shakily.   Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of recognition in Nicole’s eyes, followed by anger, and an immense sadness. A sadness that Waverly had caused. She turned to face the redhead, tentatively raising the hand not covered by Nicole’s to cup her face gently.  When Nicole leaned in slightly at Waverly’s touch, she ran her thumb over the smooth cheekbone reassuringly. “I’m so sorry. I’m just… I’m so sorry.”

“Waverly, you don’t need to apologize.  You shouldn’t be apologizing. This isn’t—this will never be your fault.  I just don’t want to hurt you, so tell me what you need right now.” Nicole was so kind, so understanding… Waverly was a mess.  A part of her wanted to run away now—Nicole didn’t deserve this. She deserved better. But the way she was looking at her, willing to do anything, just to make her feel better… it made the bigger part of Waverly want to stay where she felt safe, because that’s what Nicole did.  She made her feel safe.

“Just—just this, okay?” She brought her forehead to rest against Nicole’s, running her hand back from where it rested on the ginger’s cheek through the short red locks to rest on the back of her head.  

“Just this,” Nicole whispered back, the hand not over Waverly’s now resting lightly, reassuringly, on her waist.  

Chapter Text

Nicole sat there, kicking herself internally.  She had gone too far, pushed too much, hurt Waverly.  But God, sitting here, holding her hand, Waverly’s thumb grazing over her cheek, breathing in her scent… she could stay on this couch forever.  Waverly moved her hand from Nicole’s face, tucking a strand of bright red hair behind her ear. Nicole felt the brunette’s other hand leave hers as she brought it up to cup her face with both hands.  The deputy left her arms down, not wanting to push too far too fast again as Waverly brought her lips closer, closing the distance between them. This kiss was gentle, sweet, soft. There was no hurried rushing, no desperate urgency.  Nicole moved her lips with Waverly’s, getting lost in the slow dance. She wanted to hold on to Waverly’s waist, to pull her body against her own, to deepen the kiss, but she knew she couldn’t. She needed to let Waverly set the pace in case she did something to make her uncomfortable again.  

“It really wasn’t you, Nicole.  You did nothing wrong, I swear. Don’t think you pushed me into anything because I wanted all of that.  I wanted more than that,” a blush graced Waverly’s cheeks, “so trust me, you didn’t do anything I didn’t want.  I promise.” Waverly stared earnestly into Nicole’s eyes, having broken the kiss but still holding her head between her hands.  Nicole saw the earnesty in Waverly’s stare, begging for her to believe the words she said. Swallowing loudly and pulling her lips into her mouth to moisten them with her tongue, showing off her dimples, the deputy nodded slowly.  

“Okay.  But I… I do have a question, Waves,” Nicole felt her heart rise up into her throat as Waverly looked at her expectantly.  “So… that day that we watched the movie in your room—the really shitty one,” she couldn’t help but to smile a bit at the memory before remembering why she was talking about this and continuing on, “you said there was someone else and I just… is he still around or, God, I don’t know why I’m not just letting this happen, but I’m scared that you—”

“Nicole,” Waverly was chuckling at the concerned expression on the deputy’s face, “I never said he.”

“What?”

“When I told you that, I never said he.   You said he because that’s what you assumed.”

“So…?” Nicole’s brow furrowed in confusion, trying to make sense of what Waverly was saying.  Was she telling her what Nicole thought she was saying?

“It was you, Nicole.  It’s always been you. Since the first moment I saw you sitting at the bar, I knew I was in trouble.  It was always you.”  She whispered, staring into Nicole’s eyes.  

“But you said you didn’t think that they— I— liked you like that?” Though she was watching Waverly say those words, they still didn’t seem to make sense to her for some reason.  

“Because I didn’t think you did.  Or ever would. I mean, I thought you were straight,” Waverly blushed, averting her eyes for a moment, “Until that night at the basketball court and I heard you talking and… even then, I didn’t think you would like me ,” Waverly admitted.

“Wait a second,” Nicole started laughing, earning a reproachful glare from the short brunette in front of her, “ You thought that I was straight ?  Oh, my God.  You have no idea how hilarious that is, Waves.  Do you have any gaydar at all?”

“Well, apparently not,” Waverly huffed, crossing her arms in front of her chest while glaring at the redhead.  

“I’m sorry, Waves.  It’s just… I’m so gay.  How could you not tell? How could you not tell that I liked you ?”

“I mean, I guess, looking back on it, there were signs, but I thought you were just being straight girl flirty,” Waverly defended herself.  

“Waverly, I asked if we had slept together when we woke up the morning after we met.  I gave you my number. I would stop by Shorty’s just to spend time with you. I’m pretty sure I didn’t keep my hands to myself as much as I was trying to, and I know you caught me checking you out a couple times.  I literally told you I liked you the other night when I was drunk!” Nicole raised her eyebrows at the younger woman.

“I thought it was in a straight way…?  And I’m not an idiot okay, I kind of suspected maybe you liked me when you texted me, but I wasn’t positive still,” Waverly offered, shrugging with a smile that looked more like a grimace.  

“Kind of suspected maybe?  Waverly…” Nicole rolled her eyes, smiling.  

“Whatever.  Now I know!” Waverly exclaimed.  And to be fair, she was right. Waverly most certainly did know now.  

“Ok, well,” Waverly started again, giving Nicole a quick peck on the lips before hopping off the couch, “aren’t you still on duty, Officer Haught?” The brunette gave her a playful wink, the sadness still apparent in her eyes though she tried to hide it.  

“Oh, really now?  As I recall, I was ambushed but a certain tiny, gorgeous woman and now that cannot be my fault, can it?” Nicole rose from the couch, standing in front of Waverly, invading her space slightly.  The younger woman bit her bottom lip, looking up at the deputy standing over her before closing her eyes briefly, grabbing Nicole’s hand, and skipping out of Nedley’s office, pulling the redhead behind her.  

“Alright then, I guess I should let you get back to work,” Waverly shot back with a smile, making her way back to the civilian side of the counter, leaving Nicole staring, dumbfounded.  “Call me.” Waverly winked before turning away and heading out the door. Little did she know that Nicole was reaching for her phone before she had even made the suggestion. The deputy quickly opened up her contacts to call Waverly’s number.  She watched intently, phone pressed against her ear, as she watched Waverly, now in the hallway outside, from the glass panels in the wall beside the door. The brunette stopped in her tracks, digging through her purse to pull out her ringing phone, staring for a moment in confusion at the caller before turning to see a grinning, smug Nicole Haught staring at her from inside the main office.  Nicole watched as Waverly’s face lit up and she raised her phone, answering the call.

“I didn’t mean now , you goofball,” Nicole heard the teasing lilt of Waverly's voice through the phone and faintly from the hall.  

“Do you want to go on a date?  With me?” The ginger waited with baited breath.  This was the question she had been longing to ask, too afraid to know the answer.  But now, now that she knew that Waverly felt the same about her, maybe the answer would be positive.  After the events that had just transpired, Nicole felt as though she had reason to be hopeful. She watched as the adorable girl on the other side of the glass bit her bottom lip in an attempt to soften the smile threatening to overtake her face.

“Yeah.  I’d like that,” Waverly whispered softly through the phone.  

“Great,” Nicole grinned, dimples popping out.  “So I’ll pick you up at your place? Eight? Or do you need the two or three days to plan?”

“Nope, tonight is perfect,” Waverly stuck her tongue out at Nicole for the teasing while wrinkling her nose at her, still beaming.

“I’ll see you then,” Nicole winked as she hung up the phone, turning to go back to her desk.  Sitting down, she looked up to see the brunette still standing in the hallway, phone pressed against her ear, looking slightly dazed but with a grin she couldn't seem to wipe from her face.  “Waves? You good?” Nicole called into the hallway, raising an eyebrow at her while smirking.

“Hmmm?  Yeah. Great, actually.  Really great,” Waverly called out, her face slowly turning a bright red, “I’m going to go now, but I’ll see you later!” She finally turned away, making her way down the hall and out of the station, a noticeable skip in her step.  

Nicole couldn’t blame her.  If it was her, she’d have been jumping down the hall, screaming for joy, let alone skipping.  Nicole was going on a date with Waverly. Smart, beautiful, kind, wonderful Waverly Earp. While she couldn’t quite wrap her head around why someone like Waverly would ever be interested in someone like her, she couldn’t help but feel an elated giddiness.  She had kissed Waverly Earp. She was going on a date with Waverly Earp. And while it broke her heart that Waverly was having difficulties with what that disgusting bastard had done to her— who wouldn’t?— she knew she would do whatever she could to make it easier for her, to help her, to try to fix the damage that Champ had done.  But no matter what, Nicole knew that she would always think of Waverly as perfect. Stubborn, messy, beautiful, smart, kind, strong, and perfect. Waverly deserved the world, and maybe, if she was lucky, Nicole would be able to be the one to give it to her.

* * * * * *

Waverly: I forgot to ask… where are we going?

Nicole: It’s a surprise :P

Waverly: You know I’m a planner!  I need to figure out what to wear.

Nicole: Whatever you decide to wear will be perfect :)

Waverly: So… prom dress? Potato sack?

Nicole: Well, you would look absolutely gorgeous in anything, no doubt, but maybe something a bit more comfortable than those.  Maybe you can save the prom dress for another time…

Waverly: Plan on taking me to a prom anytime soon, Officer? ;)

Nicole: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, now…. We’ll see how tonight goes first :P

Waverly: Tease ;P Fine…. I’ll see you in an hour and try to figure out something to wear

Nicole: Just relax, Waves.  It’ll be fine and we’ll have fun.  I’ll see you soon <3

Waverly: <3

* * * * * *

Nicole got off her shift at seven, right around the time Waverly started panicking about what clothes she was going to wear that night.  Nicole, however, was panicking about what exactly they were going to do tonight. She knew she would tell Waverly anything if she asked, but she had claimed that the date was a surprise due to the fact that she didn’t know what they were doing yet.  Nicole had so many different ideas of places she wanted to take her, things she wanted to do with her, but now this was happening, this was real, and she had to make a choice.  A choice that hopefully Waverly would really like.  The pressure was on.

By the time Nicole went home, got changed, combed out her hair, and got back in the car to head out to the homestead, she thought she had finally figured out a good choice for their first date; she just hoped Waverly agreed as well.  On her way over, she started to get nervous, overthinking everything again. What if Waverly changed her mind? What if she didn’t want this? What if, when she got there, Waverly realized that she had made a mistake, that she didn’t want her ?  As she pulled into the homestead though, all of her doubts, for better or for worse, flew out of her mind when she saw Waverly, smile across her face, skipping out of the homestead.  

“Wow.” Nicole breathed, staring at the vision before her.  Waverly was wearing grey furry boots with sheer black tights clinging to her shapely legs.  She had a loose, long-sleeved, off-white v-neck blouse, dipping between her breasts, tucked into a short, black skirt.  Her long brunette hair was tamed into waves flowing past her shoulders. Waverly was absolutely breathtaking.

“That’s what I was going to say,” the short brunette responded, giving Nicole a quick peck on the cheek before sliding into the passenger side door Nicole had opened for her.  The redhead blushed, not realizing that she had heard her. “So…. where are we going?” Nicole gave the brunette a side look as she sat in the driver’s seat, buckling up.

“You really can’t wait until we get there?”

“Nope!” Waverly crossed her arms, putting on a show of stubbornness, but she was still smirking.  

“Ugh.  Fine,” the ginger rolled her eyes goodnaturedly. “We’re going bowling.”  Nicole saw Waverly’s eyes widen, an expression she couldn’t quite place flashing across her face.  Had she made a mistake? Should they go somewhere else? Not even two minutes into the date and she already messed it up.  “Unless you don’t want to? We can do something else—I have more ideas. We cou—”

“I love bowling,” Waverly cut in, placing a hand on the deputy’s thigh reassuringly.  Nicole stared at the road ahead, trying to not be distracted by the gentle yet sure fingers laying lightly over her leg, draping over the inside of her thigh.  Waverly, however, didn’t even seem to realize what effect she was having on her as she continued on. “It’s one of my favorite things, even though I’m absolutely horrendous at it.  I just never get the chance to go and no one ever wanted to go with me, so you have no idea how great this is.” Waverly smiled at her, which Nicole quickly returned. Nicole still had doubts in the back of her mind, but with Waverly there, next to her, her hand on her thigh, it was easy to forget about them.  She had a feeling tonight was going to be an incredible night.

* * * * * *

Nicole was not wrong.  Things between her and Waverly were so simple, so easy.  They laughed and joked the whole time, and Waverly was pretty accurate regarding her statement about her being terrible at bowling.  But the redhead didn’t mind that; it gave her an excuse to wrap her arms around the brunette, pull her against her front, breathing in her scent as she gently guided her arm into the correct movement for bowling.  It didn’t seem to help any—in fact, Waverly seemed to do worse when Nicole tried to help her out—but that could have been because the ginger was having difficulties concentrating on teaching her when Waverly was in such close proximity.  After a couple games, both of which Nicole won even though she tried to let Waverly get ahead, they decided to order some food and grab a couple beers from the bar to eat at their table in front of their alley. They were lucky because they were in the far corner, separated from the rest of the crowd, giving them some privacy. As they were nibbling on the food, neither of them eating too much, Nicole too focused on the fact that Waverly was leaning into her side, her body pressed against hers, the side of her thigh touching her own.  

“That’s what you were wearing the night we met,” Waverly mentioned, giving Nicole’s form another appreciative glance.  She was wearing her deep blue, V-neck, off-the-shoulder sweater that she loved. It was comfy, but it also showed off a lot of skin, so it made Nicole feel sexy as well.  

“You remember that?” Her eyes softened, a smile gracing her lips as her heart seemed to burst.  

“Oh you have no idea.  That night was… it was great and hard and weird and amazing and I remember every detail of that night.  It made me rethink everything in life—who I was with, my sexuality, everything—and yet it was absolutely incredible.” The brunette looked down, a blush creeping up her neck.  

“And here, I can only remember a little past The Book Thief ,” Nicole chided.  

“Well, to be fair, that’s probably my fault.  I kept pouring you shots and no one can resist my charms,” the younger woman stuck out her tongue teasingly.  

“You’re not wrong there.” Nicole knew she wasn’t wrong.  There was no way she could resist Waverly. The short brunette could convince her to do anything.  

“I-I do have a question about that night,” the blush returned to Waverly’s cheeks as she looked down in embarrassment.  It had been on her mind ever since Nicole had mentioned it earlier.

“You can ask me anything, Waverly.” Nicole responded reassuringly.  

“You asked me something the next morning and the way you said it….” Waverly took a deep breath to start over.  “You asked if we did anything and the way you said it… just, after what happened to me, I was worried about it and was thinking that, did you think that I would have—”

“God, no, Waverly,” Nicole cut her off with a look of horror in her eyes. Horror at the fact that Waverly thought so poorly of herself that she believed Nicole would think the worst of her, not for asking the question itself, “Of course not.  No, I said that the way I did because I couldn’t remember the night before. All I knew was that you were gorgeous and I liked talking to you, all you had on was underwear, and I woke up next to you, unsure of how I got there. I was worried that I had done something to make you uncomfortable.  I knew I really wanted to kiss you, and I wasn’t sure if you felt the same and we ended up in bed because I was drunk and all over you and making you uncomfortable and I know you can handle yourself but I just—” Normally, Nicole wouldn’t consider herself a rambler. But when Waverly was around, when Waverly was thinking poorly of herself, she just felt the dam break and the words spill out, trying to find the right words to convince her that she was enough, that she was better than she thought, that she was worthy. Nicole would say anything if that’s what it took for the gorgeous, wonderful girl to finally believe it.

“Nicole, you were fine.   I almost kissed you .  If anything, I was the one on the verge of making you uncomfortable.   You were so drunk but you were right there, so close, and you’re such a cute drunk….” Waverly smiled, apparently recalling the events of that night.

“Well, I’m glad we felt the same way that night, at least.  I just wish it hadn’t taken us so long to finally get here.” Nicole smiled, putting her arm fully around the girl next to her who responded by snuggling into her side.

“Apparently good things happen when you’re drunk, especially when you’re drunk with a phone and no pants on.” Waverly teased, a hand slowly snaking its way around Nicole’s abdomen, making the muscles in her stomach jump under the light touch. She would have hoped Waverly didn’t notice, but from the smirk evident on her face she definitely had.

“Waves,” Nicole groaned, “We are never talking about that night again.  Please.”

“Oh, I’m sure if I get you drunk enough, I could convince you to talk about anything.  Apparently with very… loose… lips,” Nicole saw Waverly gulp and lick her lips as she raised her gaze to the officers soft lips, her speech becoming halted.

“You alright, Waves?  You seem a little… distracted,” Nicole teased, trying to appear suave, like she couldn’t feel the tension in the air as she stared back at the brunettes lips, longing to capture them in her own.

“I’m—no, I’m fine I’m—I’m not… distracted,” Waverly stammered, burying her face in Nicole’s neck. Nicole ran her fingers through Waverly’s hair, down her back, up and back down again, enjoying the feel of the brunette against her. Finally, after a couple minutes, Waverly groaned.

“What’s up, Waves?” Nicole asked, concerned.

“This is worse. How is this worse?” She groaned into the ginger’s neck. Immediately, Nicole moved her hand away and sat up straighter, not wanting to do anything to make Waverly more uncomfortable than she already was. But, much to Nicole’s confusion, Waverly just grabbed her hand, pulling it back down to her hair before snuggling back into the same position they were in before. “Not worse in a bad way, silly. I just thought that if I wasn’t looking at you, I wouldn’t want to kiss you as much and wouldn’t get so distracted but this just makes me want to kiss you more.”

“Waverly, you know I told you that you are free to kiss me whenever you want,” Nicole said with a small smile.  Waverly immediately looked up, a hungry look in her eye.
“Well, in that case…” and the brunette pulled Nicole’s head down towards hers to bring her into a soft, sweet kiss that seemed to stop the world from turning.

Chapter Text

“Why— haven’t— we— been— doing— this— all— along?” Waverly asked, stealing a kiss between each word.  The two were parked outside the homestead in Nicole’s car, Waverly leaning in towards the ginger, trying to get as close as possible.  

“Because, we’re both idiots,” Nicole replied, smiling against Waverly’s lips.  

“Mmmm… but you’re a sexy idiot, so you’re forgiven,” the brunette said before moving in for another searing kiss.  She threaded her fingers through the ginger hair at the nape of the deputy’s neck, tightening her hand into a fist and pulling her in closer.  Her tongue traced Nicole’s bottom lip, entering when the redhead opened her mouth to let out a sound, halfway between a gasp and a moan. Nicole kissed back passionately, massaging the younger girl’s tongue with her own, increasing the pressure of her hand around Waverly’s waist slightly.  

But it still wasn’t enough for Waverly.  She needed to be closer, to feel the soft strength of Nicole.  Before she knew it, she was moving her body over the center console of the car to straddle the officer, all without removing her mouth from the hot, soft lips in front of her.  Nicole pushed her body forward so it was flush against the brunette’s, continuing to move her lips against Waverly’s— soft, hard, slow, fast, passionate. Waverly moaned into Nicole’s mouth, tightening the grip on her hair, feeling the deputy’s breasts pressed against her own.  Nicole’s hands were now on her hips, pulling them down, closer to her, against her own hips.

More , Waverly’s mind seemed to scream, and that was when she knew they had to stop.  She knew she wasn’t ready for more— not yet at least. Slowing the kisses, Waverly broke away, panting slightly and resting her forehead against Nicole’s, eyes half closed with lust.  She yearned to move her head forward again, to continue what they had been doing, but she knew she shouldn't. So, reaching over, Waverly opened up the car door and managed to slide out, albeit less gracefully than she had hoped.  Her foot ended up getting caught under Nicole’s knee as she stumbled out of the car. The deputy reached out to try to steady her, but Waverly somehow managed to do that on her own. Trying to ignore the blush creeping up her neck, Waverly attempted to appear as confident as possible, leaning over into the car, staring at Nicole’s kiss swollen lips for a moment before returning to look into her eyes.  

“I think I should head in now, but I had an incredible night.  Thank you,” Waverly’s voice came out deeper and more hoarse than she had expected, obviously laden with want. But she wasn’t ready yet, and looking into Nicole’s eyes she knew Nicole understood that.  “Are you… um… are you working tomorrow?” She asked shyly.

“Yes, I am.  Eleven to seven,” a dimpled smile stopped Waverly’s heart for a moment.  

“Would it, uh, would it be alright if I popped in to see you?  Maybe on your break or something? I’m working five to two in the morning, so I’d probably be free for your break if it’s okay, but if not it’s fine as well, I totally understand.  I mean, this was our first date and don’t people normally go slower when they first start dating? So maybe tomorrow is too soon. But I just feel like, because we’ve known each other for a bit now and I just kept messing up and pushing you away, we missed out on so much time together, and I don’t want to do that again and—”

“Waverly,” Nicole had been smiling amusedly at her the whole time, finally deciding to stop Waverly’s rambing, “I would really like to see you tomorrow, maybe at four?” she reassured her softly, running her fingers softly over Waverly’s forearm, sending shivers throughout the smaller girl’s body.  

“Okay, yeah. Okay.  Cool,” Waverly smiled, biting her lower lip.  She bent over to give Nicole a quick peck on the lips, pulling away before it could become anything more than that.  “Just text me when you’re going on break and I’ll bring you some dinner then.”

“That sounds perfect, Waves. Thank you,” Nicole now bit her own lip, tucking a strand of vibrant red hair behind her ear with the hand not running soothingly over Waverly’s arm.  

“Until tomorrow, then,” Waverly pecked the deputy’s lips one last time before stepping away, closing the car door gently behind her.  It took all the willpower she had to close that door, knowing that what she wanted more than anything was Nicole to stay tonight, with her.  They didn’t even need to do anything, she just wanted to feel her next to her, to know that she was real, that this had happened, that she was there.  But it was too soon for that, too soon for any of it, and she knew if Nicole did stay, they would end up doing things, things that shouldn’t be happening yet.  It was only their first date, after all. She needed to keep her hormones in check.  So Waverly backed away from the car, waving slightly as she walked to the porch. Nicole waved back, an adorable grin on her face, not backing out of the driveway until Waverly reached the door, only pulling out in time for the brunette to turn and watch her go, headlights soon disappearing down the road.  

Her heart was full and Waverly was happy, but turning around to see the homestead before her stopped her in her tracks for a moment.  The memories of memories came flooding back as she stopped herself from remembering them fully, but the feelings still permeated through her brain.  It was only a quick flash of fear and hurt, but it was enough to shift her mood. This house held so many ghosts, so many terrible memories… Why couldn’t she just stay happy?  Why wouldn’t this house, the memories, the past held in these walls allow that?  Sighing, Waverly went to open the door, attempting to quietly enter the homestead without Wynonna realizing.  It was nearly two am at this point, and she didn’t want to have to explain where she had been just yet. Unfortunately, there was a slight resistance in opening the door— Wynonna must have left something in front of it.  Taking a moment to regroup, she decided on trying again, so she pushed with more force and ended up stumbling through the door, the resistance to opening apparently gone. Tripping and almost falling on her face, Waverly staggered through the doorway to see Wynonna standing in front of her with her arms crossed, a bottle of whiskey hanging out of one hand, and a smug smile on her face.  

“So, baby girl?  Makin’ any bacon recently?”

“Wynonna, what are you doing up?  And in front of the door?” Waverly ignored the question and the obvious implications it held.  

“Waiting for you.  Doc— the guy I met at the club yesterday night— he’s upstairs, passed out. Guess he can’t quite keep up with an Earp, but he did almost give me a run for my money, I’ll give him that.  But that’s not the point. Why were you out so late?”  Wynonna was nothing if not stubborn, but Waverly had already known that.

“I was… out.  Doing stuff.” Waverly really sucked at this whole lying on the spot thing.  

“So I gathered.  Any… horizontal tango type stuff?  Bumpin’ nasties? Frickity-fracking?”

“Oh my God, Wynonna, it was just a first date!” Waverly exclaimed, eyes wide.  They only grew wider when Wynonna smirked and the younger girl realized the information she had just given her sister.  

“Oh really?  And who might the lucky lad be?”

“Why?  So you can beat them up?”  Waverly crossed her arms in front of her, glaring accusingly at her sister.  

“Hey, that only happened once!”  Wynonna put on a show of being offended.  

“Twice, Wy.  Twice. And I’m not telling you.”  During the course of their conversation, Wynonna ended up sitting back against the door, taking swigs of whiskey, and Waverly had moved to join her.  

“Ah, come on,” when Waverly just raised an eyebrow at her, Wynonna rolled her eyes, seemingly accepting defeat.  They were silent for a few minutes, before Waverly finally decided to break it.

“What would you say if we moved?  We can still go somewhere together, but maybe just somewhere else?”  Waverly asked after a moment.

“What?” Wynonna startled, looking confused, “Why?”

“I don’t know,” Waverly sighed, “This house… I thought I could, but there’s just something here that brings me down a bit, you know?  Most of the time, it’s fine, but sometimes I just remember everything and then suddenly it seems off and… I just think it would be easier to not be here.”

“This house brings you down?” Wynonna laugh derisively, her face growing cold and hard.  “How do you think I feel? I’m sorry, baby girl, I really am, but this house wasn’t shit for you compared to what it was for me.  I’m sorry if it brings you down but what do you think it does to me? You didn’t do it.  I did .”  Wynonna stood up from where she was on the ground next to Waverly, who worried that she was running away again.  And, to be fair, that’s what it appeared as though Wynonna was doing at first. The older woman stalked over to the door, anger evident in her face.  Anger, hurt, pain. Her hand grabbed at the doorknob, but as soon as it touched the cool metal she appeared to freeze. The anger dissipated from Wynonna’s face, replaced with a tired expression.  Waverly watched as she stood by the door, hand still on the doorknob, defeated. The younger girl’s chest had constricted with each and every word Wynonna had spat out at her— because she was right.  This house held more terrible memories for Wynonna than it ever would for Waverly, and she was the one complaining. Not everything was about her, especially not this. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, but she held them back, waiting for Wynonna to turn around, to yell at her, to take out her anger on Waverly, whose fault it was that Wynonna was in this situation in the first place.  It was all her fault, everything, and she needed Wynonna to tell her that, to tear her apart, to destroy her, because that’s what she deserved.

“Wy?” Waverly prompted in a small voice after a few minutes of silence.  

“What happened?” Wynonna’s voice cracked slightly.  She looked up towards the ceiling, taking a swig of whiskey from the bottle still in the hand not on the doorknob.

“What?”  Her sister’s voice was so low, Waverly couldn’t tell if she had heard correctly.  Her sister? Showing emotion? It was anger, sure, but normally Wynonna was just sarcastic and drunk, shutting off anything that could resemble feelings.   

“God, Waverly, I’m sorry, okay?  It’s not your fault and I know that.  It’s not. But I’m going to stay here not because I don’t remember what happened, but because I do .  And I’m not going to let him decide what I’m doing with my life, or how I live it, or where I live it.  So you can do what you want, but I’m staying here, drinking whiskey every night, bumpin’ nasties with whoever I want to get this house back, to get my life back.  Free to join if you want, but nobody’s keeping you here, baby girl.”  She offered the whiskey to Waverly who realized, if she took it, it would mean that she was accepting Wynonna’s offer.  She knew that taking that swig would mean she was staying, facing her past, attempting to dispel the demons that plagued her, or at least learning to live with them.  But she also knew it would mean doing so with Wynonna by her side.

“You’re right,” Waverly took the bottle from Wynonna, letting the alcohol burn down her throat as it coursed through her.  

“I— what?” Wynonna looked confused, as though she expected Waverly to start yelling at her , to run out on her , just as Waverly had been expecting of Wynonna.  

“You’re right, and I’ll stay with you.  We can’t let the ghosts of our past dictate our future.”  Waverly agreed.

“Baby girl, you’re sounding like a Hallmark card now,” Wynonna rolled her eyes.

“That would be a pretty depressing Hallmark card, don’t you think?”

“You know what I mean,” Wynonna made a face at Waverly, sticking out her tongue jokingly, slowly returning to her sarcastic self.

“So, if you’re really sticking around then, don’t you need a job?  I’m not going to be the one funding your whiskey habit. I’d go as broke as you,” Waverly tried her hand at teasing her older sister for once.  

“I’ve got a job,” Wynonna said shortly.  

“Doing what?” Waverly questioned, not entirely sure who in this town would hire her sister, or what for.  While she truly loved Wynonna, she was a little difficult to handle. Plus, with her sordid past, the town didn’t exactly love her.  

“Stuff.  You know.  Point is, I’m getting paid.”  It was obvious that Wynonna didn’t want to discuss this further, so Waverly decided not to pry.  

“Right.  Well, shouldn’t you be getting back to Doc, up there?  You know, in case he wakes up?” Waverly inquired, realizing that the two, now on good terms, would need to go their separate ways for a bit in order to sort out everything in their own minds.  Well, at least Waverly did. Wynonna would likely just end up drinking until she forgot about it. And suddenly, that didn’t seem like too terrible of a plan to Waverly.

As Waverly headed up the stairs to her room, she felt her phone buzz in her hand.

Nicole: I had the best time tonight with you and I can’t wait to do it again <3

Heart beating rapidly in her chest after just a small text, a smile breaking out on her face, the brunette quickly typed out a reply.  

Waverly: Me too.  I can’t wait to see you tomorrow <3

Maybe drinking to forget wasn’t so necessary after all.  

Chapter Text

“Wow, Haught.  You look chipper this morning,” Lonnie gave her a suspicious look, peering at the redheaded officer from his desk as she practically skipped into the office.  

“Hey, Lonnie.  I haven’t seen you since yesterday afternoon.  How you been?” Nicole couldn’t keep a bright, beaming smile off her face.  Usually she would overthink things, she would worry about little events that would suggest ruination, she would convince herself that she was just going to end up losing Waverly, but not today.  No, today was too good to let her brain take control and twist things for her.

“That’s not normally a very long period of time.  Does this have anything to do with you bailing on me last night?” Lonnie squinted at her as though trying to figure out the game she was playing, “Well, I’ve been decent, anyways.  But you? You’re good. Too good. What hap— oh my god you got laid! ” Realization flashed across his face as he stared at Nicole with wide eyes.  

“I did not get laid ,” the ginger responded, though she could feel a blush rising on her cheeks.  It was true, she hadn’t gotten laid, and she wouldn’t get laid for a while yet.  Not until she was absolutely sure that Waverly was ready, that Waverly wanted that.  And if she didn’t, well, at least they could still be together, but from the events of yesterday afternoon and the early hours of this morning, Nicole didn’t see that really being an issue.  She just had to wait until Waverly was ready, and she was willing to wait as long as Waverly needed.

“Oh?   Oh ,” A look of confusion was quickly replaced with one of understanding, “Waverly?  Haught-damn!” Lonnie smirked at Nicole, who blushes furiously now and starts sputtering, trying to deny anything in a believable fashion.  “Oh, calm down. I won’t say anything. Just happy for you, is all. Took you two long enough to figure out your shit.”

“Hey, it wasn’t— I mean, we weren’t—” Nicole doesn’t quite know what to say now.  What could she say? Nicole didn’t care how they had gotten to this point or how long it had taken her and Waverly to get there, just that they were there now.  Deciding to not actually respond (coherently, at least), Nicole made her way over to her desk to take off her coat and put down her bag, turning to make her way back out of the office with the long, rectangular box she had brought in.  

“Where you going with that, Haught?  Are those what I think they are?” Lonnie peered curiously over.

“Yes they are what you think they are, Lonnie, but no, you’re not getting any donuts.  These are for the new task force in the other office. Thought I could give them a welcome treat, maybe get them to warm up to us so we can work together on cases, you know?”  Nicole explained. Lonnie just rolled his eyes, but she chose to ignore this.

“Good luck, there.  Those two are a piece of work. Won’t even tell us what kind of cases they’re working on,” Lonnie warned, having apparently already met the pair.  

“I’m sure it will be fine, Lonnie,” the ginger flashed him a dimpled smile, sure that nothing could dampen her spirits today.  Nicole strode over to the previously empty office, the frosted glass now adorned with a crest sporting the title “Black Badge Division.”  Nicole knocked twice, waiting a fair few seconds, not receiving an answer. She decided if they weren’t in, she might as well leave the donuts in the office for them— a hopefully nice surprise when the pair returned.  With that thought in mind, she opened the door, only to find the two agents in the room alread y.  Nicole quickly recovered, though.

“Hey, check it out!  A piping hot delivery from your friends at the station!  Just wanted to say welcome! Oh, I’m Nicole,” she realized she had forgotten to introduce herself, “Officer Haught.  Y’all getting settled in alright?” Nicole peered around the office, taking in the boxes stacked up around the small room, the odd gadgets, a map of the town and surrounding areas riddled with pins, “What is all this stuff?”  Nicole couldn’t help her curiosity; she knew they were a special task force, but no one knew what exactly for, and they weren’t allowed to even mention to anyone outside the station that the task force existed.

“Nice to meet you, Officer Haught.”  One of the agents — the man— said to her, monotone and cold.  It didn’t seem as though he thought it was nice to meet her at all.  He stepped forward, crossing his arms against his chest. He was a very large, muscular man with dark eyes.  He was extremely intimidating, but Nicole held her ground, staring straight back into his eyes, almost as though challenging him in return.  “If you ever enter my offices again without knocking, I’m going to have you arrested for treason.  Okay?” He had taken the challenge, removing any possibility of a countermove. His eyes were still cold, unyielding.  

“Nice to meet you, too.”  Nicole’s voice was bitter, but strong.  She wasn’t going to let this special agent take away her dignity as well.  Turning around, she exited the office with purpose, not even bothering to close the door behind her.  

“She did knock, Dolls.  You sure you didn’t want to threaten her with death?” Nicole heard the other agent ask.  

“Penalty for treason is death.  It was implied.” The voices were fading as Nicole walked away and she didn’t realize it as it was happening, but suddenly she was livid .  

“Whao, Haught… I mean, I told you so, but this is worse than I was expecting,”  Lonnie said as she stalked into their main office. Nicole just grunted in response, tossing the box of donuts that she realized she still had in her hands onto her desk.  She threw herself onto her chair, slumping down in her seat and glaring at the box of donuts as though they had done something to personally offend her.

Dolls was abrasive and arrogant, sure, but it was possible that her reaction wasn’t entirely a result of what had just transpired, but more like a combination of everything .  She was tired of being treated as though she were less than, not enough, wrong for some reason.  She got this as a female cop, as a lesbian, and now, when she finally felt right , when she was in a place where her boss didn’t care that she was a female, when she was (finally) getting somewhere with Waverly… now Dolls was here, just to remind her again that there was something else she couldn’t do.  And sure, she understood that she didn’t have clearance and to an extent that made sense, but all she had tried to do was bring in a box of donuts. She didn’t deserve that .  

But the deputy didn’t have too long to stir in her anger before someone decided to burst through the door.  

“Red!  You forgot to leave the donuts!”  The other agent bounded through the divider and over to Nicole’s desk with a look of determination.  Nicole quickly took in the agent, the first real look she had gotten of her since Dolls had ended up standing so close, blocking most of her view in the task force’s office.  She wore tight skinny jeans that hugged her, well, fairly nice ass, not that Nicole was looking because, well, Waverly and all. But it was a pretty top-shelf ass, not that she was looking .  She had long, dark brown and wavy locks that fell to the bottom of the her shoulder blades, dimples, larger than Nicole’s own, and bright blue eyes with a smile seeming to hold a darkness, a pain of some sort, within.  Nicole noticed the agent’s eyes flick down to the donuts, eyebrow raised in an unspoken question.

“Go for it,” Nicole acquiesced, nodding her head to the box.  To her surprise, the agent found a chair, pulling up in front of the desk and plopping down, feet on Nicole’s desk which was fine, totally fine (it was not fine), opening the box of donuts to remove a powdered one.  The brunette took a bite, rolling her eyes back and groaning with a moan that sounded almost like ecstasy.   She smirked at the slightly horrified look that flickered across Nicole’s face before the deputy was able to collect herself.  

“Ahhh loosen up…” the brunette squinted at the name tag on Nicole’s chest, “Haught?  Really? I thought I had heard that wrong,” She snorted. “I’m going to have so much fun with this,” she grinned mischievously.

When Nicole didn’t say anything, just closing her eyes and sighing, resigning herself to another person bound to be obsessed with terrible name puns, Wynonna spoke up again.  “Look. About Dolls. He’s a dick.”

Nicole looked up at the woman in front of her, who stared down at her donut with a lovely look on her face.  This woman seemed odd, a little unhinged, and rough around the edges, but Nicole could tell that, while the issued apology was not actually quite an apology , it was as much of an apology as the women could give.  And that actually meant something to Nicole. The deputy smiled up at the agent softly.  

“So, since you know my name, w —” the redhead started before becoming suddenly very distracted.  Waverly came skipping in, two coffees in hand, in a very appealing outfit.  Her hair was tied in a single braid, wrapped around the base of her head and draped over a shoulder.  She wore a low-cut crop top, showing off both cleavage and a wide expanse of abs, causing Nicole’s mouth to dry at the sight.  She wore high-waisted dark blue jean shorts that were very, very short.  Nicole felt her eyes travelling downward involuntarily as she took in Waverly’s long, toned legs and brown cowboy boots that had no right looking that good on anyone.  

“I know it’s early but I was in town and I tho—” Waverly started as she entered the room, but then a couple things happened all at once.  The agent in front of Nicole saw the look of desire, awe, and what looked to be tenderness or compassion or something in Nicole’s eyes. She turned around in her seat to get a look at the newcomer.  When this happened, Waverly’s smile turned into wide-eyed horror .  And Nicole was suddenly confused.  She had started with a huge smile breaking across her face when Waverly came in, but then the look on her face… the horror, the fear…. Had she done something?  But Waverly turned her attention to the woman in front of her. She faltered for a moment, until she began again as though nothing had happened, her smile now trained on the brunette, though not seeming to reach quite as far.  

“I thought that you might be here because I couldn’t find you at the homestead or at Shorty’s,” she finished, handing the agent a coffee.  Nicole noticed a heart sharpied on the cup with ‘good morning, beautiful’ written in curly handwriting underneath. She wasn’t sure quite what to make of the situation, what was going on, but she knew it didn’t feel right .  Waverly had come in, presumably to see her, presumably to bring her a coffee, but now… now she was talking to the task force agent, handing her the coffee supposedly meant for Nicole, completely ignoring her.  Then it clicked— Waverly was ashamed of her. The ginger’s face fell as she realized this. And Nicole got it, she understood that it was hard, especially when Waverly was only first realizing that she might not be straight.  But it still hurt. It hurt like hell.

“Oh, yeah, well… you know me… always stirring shit up,” the agent replied, causing Nicole to become even more confused about what the hell was going on.  Apparently these two knew each other, well enough for Waverly to say she had been out looking for her. But now the agent was lying? Was this part of the confidentiality, of no one outside the station knowing about the task force?  It must be, but it still didn’t quite make sense. Anyone could see her around the station and figure it out if they really wanted.

“Alright, well, thank you, Officer.  Any bail or anything for your trouble?’ Waverly turned her not-quite-smile on Nicole now, not meeting her eyes.  

“Uh…. um… no, it’s fine,” Nicole was clearly confused, but it was clear Waverly assumed the confusion was due to the fact that she was pretending to not know her, while the agent obviously thought the confusion was result of the deputy not understanding fully why she was lying.  

“Thanks, deputy.  I’ll… um…” Waverly shot a side glance at the agent before actually meeting Nicole’s eyes this time, a pleading and apologetic look in her eyes, “I’ll see you around.”  

“Sure,” Nicole responded, hurt clear in her eyes but refusing to break eye contact, trying to offer a small smile of reassurance.  She was hurt, but she understood. Waverly looked away first, back to the woman eating the donut.

“C’mon, Wynonna,” Waverly said, jerking her head towards the door as the woman stood up and they both left the station, Waverly glancing back at Nicole to shoot her another apologetic glance, mouthing “I’ll call you,” to her on her way out.  But Nicole had so much to process, namely, one thing in particular…

Wynonna?

Chapter Text

Waverly kept messing up.  She knew that and she hated herself for it, but she just couldn’t seem to stop messing up .  The thoughts swirled around her head as she walked out of the station with Wynonna— because of course, Wynonna would already be in trouble even though she’d only been back a couple weeks.  She went in, so much earlier than they had agreed the night before, but Nicole had gone home late because of her and might not have gotten enough sleep so Waverly wanted to bring her coffee to wake her up and—

She took a deep breath.  She needed to stop lying to herself.  Waverly had just wanted to see Nicole, so she made up an excuse for herself.  But if she was telling the truth, she had just wanted to be around her. And then maybe she could come later as well, on Nicole’s break and then they could figure out the next time and— Waverly was getting ahead of herself.  But she felt like she and Nicole had missed out on so much, and that was her fault. They could have been together for two months if she had just dropped Champ years ago, if she hadn’t second guessed Nicole, if she had just grown up and told Nicole how she felt…. But she didn’t.  And what kind of adventures had they missed out on? What had she lost out on because she was too scared? Waverly just wanted to make up for it now, but was she going too fast? And now in the station….

She wasn’t expecting Wynonna; it had thrown her off.  Waverly hadn’t told her yet and Wynonna didn’t even know she was into women like that .  She couldn’t let her know, not yet.  What if it didn’t work out? She wanted it to work out, more than anything, but what if it didn’t ?  What if she had actually pushed Nicole too far now, pretending as though she hadn’t known her in the station?  No, Wynonna couldn’t know. Not yet, at least. Not until Waverly was sure she wouldn’t leave.

“So,” Wynonna’s voice broke through her train of thought as they left the station, starting down the road.  She took a sip of her coffee— what was supposed to be Nicole’s coffee. “Better be careful with Deputy Haughtpants back there.”  The older sister raised an eyebrow suggestively.

“What?” Waverly choked on her own coffee, sputtering.  Was it obvious? Did Wynonna know?

“Oh, yeah, you should have seen the look on her face when you walked through the door, baby girl.  She was interested ,” Wynonna chuckled.  “But, just… why are you dressed like that?  It’s cold as balls out here, you know that, right?  Miss Four-blankets-plus-a-bonus-blanket?” Wynonna was right, she was freezing.  But she had seen the look on Nicole’s face and that was why she had worn this outfit.  Because she wanted that reaction but also… also because she knew, even though Nicole might want her, Waverly knew she would never do anything she didn’t want.  And she wanted Nicole to want her, but she also felt safe enough to do something that might make Nicole want her. Nicole made her feel sexy, and powerful, and safe.  Waverly had always worn clothes like this because she was comfortable in them, but then it started to be a little different. With Champ…. She had still worn those clothes because that was her , that was her style, but when people were around, she hugged her arms a little tighter around herself, hid herself a little more behind walls and the bar, and she didn’t feel safe .  But with Nicole, she was okay.  She felt safe enough to be herself around Nicole and Nicole’s… appreciation was just a nice bonus.  

“I uh… I didn’t check the weather.”

“It’s the end of November, Waverly.  It snowed last week,” Wynonna gave her an incredulous look.  

“I was distracted because— well, because, you know—” What was her lie again? “Because I couldn’t find you anywhere and I was worried!” That was it .  

“I told you I have a job, baby girl,” Wynonna sent an eye roll her way.  

“Yeah, but you weren’t there now, were you?  Apparently I had pretty good reason to worry,” Waverly shot back.  

“Yeah, well… not the point,” Wynonna seemed a bit flustered for a moment, but brushed it off.  “Look, I got shit to do, so I’ll see you around, Waves,” she said, turning around and heading back in the opposite direction.  

“Wynonna!” Waverly called out after her, exasperated.  Wynonna had inadvertently ruined her moment with Nicole, had unknowingly caused Waverly to act in a way that she regretted, and now she was running off again, leaving Waverly alone with her thoughts.  

Waverly was such an idiot.  And she only kept messing things up.  

* * * * * *

It was four o’clock, the time that Nicole had said she would take her break so Waverly could stop by.  But that was before this morning, before Waverly had pretended not to even know her. She sat outside the station in her idling jeep, not sure if she could even go in anymore.  Not sure if Nicole would want her there.  She couldn’t go in, not now.  Couldn’t face her. She had two meals, soup and salad, one for each of them all prepared and everything just in case she decided to go in but now…. She should call, at least.  She owed Nicole that much.

Waverly picked up the phone, quickly finding Nicole’s contact and dialing her number before she had a chance to second guess herself.  Before she could even consider hanging up, Nicole had picked up on the first ring. Though the answer was quick, there were a few breaths before she finally spoke.  

“Hey,” Nicole’s voice was cautious, guarded.  

“Hi,” Waverly answered, her own voice small and ashamed.  

“I’m just about to go on break, if you… I don’t know if you….” Nicole took a deep breath, evident over the phone, but let the sentence hang, unfinished.  

“I- I’m here, I’m outside, but I didn’t know—” but then there was only a dial tone, not even the sound of Waverly’s heart could be heard because suddenly it had just stopped, climbed in her throat, filled her with dread.  Regret. Shame. Disappointment. She was about to decide between crying right there in the parking lot or driving away when her passenger side door opened, startling her out of her thoughts.

“Nicole…” Waverly said, and suddenly her heart was back in her chest, beating wildly as though making up for lost time.  The redhead stood outside her jeep in her uniform, top two buttons undone as always, showing off quite a bit of creamy skin, wearing a navy PSD beanie, red waves sticking out from underneath, falling to just above her shoulders.  Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and she was worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. To Waverly, she had never seen her look more beautiful than she did at that moment. “Wow,” she breathed, so softly she wasn’t sure if Nicole had even heard.  

“Can I…?” Nicole motioned to the seat.

“Of course,” Waverly snapped herself out of her daze, moving the bag of their supper from the seat.  She handed Nicole a soup and a salad, watching as a look of appreciation and awe came over the deputy.  

“Did you make this?” The redhead asked.  

“Yeah, I mean… I planned it before this morning and I, uh…. I wanted to say—”

“Waves, I get it, okay?  You’re not ready, right? And that’s totally understandable.  I didn’t realize that was Wynonna.  I just…” Nicole sighed, “You don’t have to pretend you don’t know me at all, you know?” Waverly could see the pain, the hurt in her eyes, but also the understanding.  

“I know.  And I messed up.  I was just not expecting Wynonna to be there, you know, and I freaked.  And it’s not because I’m… ashamed or anything. It’s… it’s hard to explain and…” Waverly hesitated, unsure of how to explain everything she was thinking.  

“Waverly, you don’t have to explain if you don’t want to.  I just need to know first. I need to know how to act around other people with you because I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I also don’t want to end up getting hurt because I do something to make you uncomfortable.”  Nicole stirred her soup absentmindedly.

“No, I want to explain.  I do. It’s just… it’s a lot.  And it’s not something I can really explain on your break.” Waverly gave Nicole an apologetic look, but she saw a look of relief cross Nicole’s face.  

“Well, first I want to say thank you for calling.  For not, not showing up, you know? I know you’re scared, so thank you for not running away.  And, if you do want to talk about it, I get off tomorrow night at five, if you’re free after and want to, you know, talk,” the ginger offered.  Waverly smiled up at her. Could this woman get any more perfect?

“I get off at seven so maybe, if you want, you can come to the homestead around eight?” Waverly suggested hopefully, watching as Nicole took a bite of the soup, moaning in satisfaction.  The brunette wondered how she could be so adorable and sexy at the same time.

“This soup is amazing, for one, and also, that sounds perfect.  What about Wynonna though?” Even though Waverly felt like she was treating Nicole as her secret, she was still concerned about what Waverly wanted, what made Waverly comfortable.  

“She doesn’t get back until four am on Friday nights,” Waverly responded quickly, “And… just so you know, now I’m really excited for tomorrow.”  She blushed, finishing off her soup without looking at Nicole, too embarrassed to see her reaction.

“Hey,” the deputy reached across, placing her fingers under Waverly’s chin, gently guiding her until Waverly was looking at Nicole again with a reddened face.  “I’m excited too.”

“Yeah?”

“Of course,” Nicole said, leaning towards Waverly, across the console.  She kissed her gently, Nicole’s soft lips cradling hers. Waverly couldn’t help but to think of the kiss as comforting— it was exactly what she needed.  When the officer pulled away a moment later, Waverly was left with a dazed expression and a smitten smile on her face. The two smiling, Nicole and Waverly finished up their meals, making light small talk for the rest of the half hour before Nicole had to go back to her shift and Waverly had to head to Shorty’s for her own.  

“So tomorrow?  Eight?” Waverly clarified as Nicole opened the door and slid out of the jeep.  

“Tomorrow,” Nicole agreed, “But is it okay if I text you before then?”

“That would be perfect, actually,” the brunette could not believe her luck.  This woman was wonderful and perfect and for some reason, even after Waverly screwed up again and again, was still sticking around, was still there for her.  She owed Nicole an explanation, and she owed it to her to not keep running away. She knew Nicole didn’t expect anything from her, but that’s why she needed to do this.  She wanted to tell Nicole.  After she had been given so much, she wanted to give Nicole something too.  She wanted to give Nicole her trust.

* * * * * *

At ten of eight, Waverly was running around the homestead trying to make sure everything looked absolutely perfect for Nicole’s arrival.  She knew they would likely stay outside the whole time around the fire she had set up and started in the front yard, but what if it got too cold or Nicole needed to use the restroom or…

Waverly took a deep breath, trying to steady herself and lessen her nerves.  She had known Nicole for two months now. This wasn’t even their first date— should she even be this nervous?  Waverly was always a mess of nerves and excitement before seeing Nicole, but whenever she was actually around, everything felt comfortable and right .  

Just as Waverly was gathering a large, thick blanket and a bottle of wine with glasses, she heard a knock at the front door— Nicole.  Beaming, the brunette threw open the door to see the officer standing in front of her looking absolutely perfect. She wore a beanie similar to the one she had on earlier, but this one was black with no logo adorning the front.  She wore a simple grey hoodie with tight fitting dark blue jeans that hugged her legs in all the right areas as well as black combat boots.

Nicole cleared her throat before Waverly realized that her eyes had started to travel back up Nicole’s body before getting stuck on the way her jeans clung to her hips, mouth drying at the sight.  Blushing, Waverly looked up sheepishly.

“Hi,” Nicole smirked, raising an eyebrow teasingly.  

“Hey,” Waverly’s voice cracked, causing her face to redden even further.  Shaking herself out of her dazed state and trying her best to collect herself, Waverly motioned to the fire pit in the front yard, the flames already burning quite nicely, with a cushioned three-seat swing in front of it.  “Do you want to…?”

“Of course,” Nicole shot her that dimpled grin and Waverly could swear she felt her knees go weak.  This was quite possibly the most gorgeous woman in existence (not that Waverly was biased at all) and she had done nothing to deserve her.  In fact, she had done everything to push her away and still, here she was, standing at her door, smiling at Waverly, taking the bottle of wine and the glasses out of her hands, just generally being absolutely perfect.  Tonight, after Nicole left, Waverly would undoubtedly be concerning herself with how she didn’t deserve Nicole, how she would only leave her when she came to her senses and figured this out, but for right now, the only thing Waverly Earp was feeling was lucky .  Extremely, incredibly lucky.  

“I thought, because of the cold and the fire, it would be nice to have a red wine, but now I’m thinking I don’t know if you even like red, so I can go get another bottle if you want.  But I haven’t actually seen you drink wine at all— do you even like wine? I have beer, I know you like beer, or whiskey, but that’s Wynonna’s and she might get—” Waverly started rambling again on the way to the fire, her nerves managing to get the best of her, try as she might to calm them.  But before she could even finish her sentence— who knew if there would even be an end to said sentence anyways— Waverly found herself cut off by a pair of soft lips against hers. She melted into the kiss, pushing her body as close to Nicole’s as possible considering the blanket, wine, and glasses still between the two.  

“I like red wine and Ravenswood is actually my favorite red, okay, Waves?  It’s just me, you can relax,” Nicole smiled against the brunette’s lips, giving her a quick peck before continuing her way to the swing.  Yet again, Waverly found herself dazed and in awe for a moment, having to hurry to catch up once realizing she was frozen again. Once by the fire, Waverly threw a few more logs on to keep it going for a while as Nicole poured their wine and situated herself on the seat.  She leaned her back against the side, her long legs laid across the length of the three-seat cushions, spreading them slightly and looking up at Waverly with a raised eyebrow, both suggesting she take a seat and asking if this was okay.

Waverly did not need to think twice before grabbing the proffered wine and settling herself between Nicole’s legs, shifting herself into a comfortable position against Nicole’s front.  She used her hand to spread the blanket over herself and Nicole’s legs before sliding her fingers underneath the blanket to rest on Nicole’s knee. Waverly felt the redhead run her fingers through the brunette’s long locks, placing her lips against the top of her head.  Waverly smiled, leaning farther back against Nicole’s chest, drawing light patterns on her knee.

“Hey,” Nicole’s long fingers trailed down Waverly’s neck, pushing her hair off her shoulder, breath hot in her ear.  Waverly shivered, something she knew had little to do with the temperature. “Whatcha thinking?”

“I… I want to explain…” Waverly gulped, hyper aware of the lips next to her ear, the breath tickling her neck, the fingers now trailing up and down her forearm.  

“Waverly, I understand, okay?  It was really hard for me too, at first.  You don’t have to explain if you’re not ready or it brings up bad thoughts or…” Nicole sighed heavily, and Waverly could tell that she was hurting.  Even though Waverly knew she did understand, she could tell it pained her. Waverly needed to explain— Nicole at least deserved that much.

“No, I’m just… distracted.” Waverly smiled as Nicole kissed her ear lightly in response.  

“Sorry… is that my fault?” The brunette felt Nicole’s lips turn up into a smirk against her ear.  

“Mmmm…. I suppose it’s okay.”  Waverly shifted again, squirming farther back against Nicole until she heard a soft, barely there, but still unmistakable, moan .  Waverly immediately froze, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.  She could feel her pupils dilating.  She hadn’t exactly realized that by squirming in her seat she was essentially grinding her ass against Nicole, but now that was all she could think about.  

“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered after a few beats of silence, her lips no longer near Waverly’s ear.  

“No, Nicole, you’re fine.  I’m sorry, I was… I didn’t think…” Waverly worried she had made Nicole uncomfortable— again.   She kept messing up .  

“Waverly.  Stop apologizing, okay?  At the risk of being too… forward, I’m always going to want you, Waves.  So don’t apologize for being beautiful and sexy and smart and funny and just a total turn on all the time.  But I know you’re not ready, and I get it because I’m not ready for that either just yet, even if my body wants it, so I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable and if you want to change positions, that’s fine, just let me know.”

“Nicole,” Waverly turned her head to look at Nicole, staring into deep brown pools filled with apologies, concern, and understanding.  She realized in that moment just how lucky she was.  Nicole had said that her intelligence was a turn-on.  She had called her sexy and beautiful. Nicole was so concerned with Waverly’s comfort that she had even offered to change her position into something that would undoubtedly be less enjoyable for her.  This woman was so chivalrous, cared so much about her, and Waverly didn’t know how to express that. So she lifted her hand from Nicole knee to pull her head towards her, capturing her lips in a heated kiss, passionate and full.  “Thank you,” she whispered, pulling away.

“For what?” Nicole placed her chin on Waverly’s shoulder as the brunette turned back around and snuggled into a comfortable position against Nicole’s front again.  

“For being you,” Waverly answered, as though the answer should have been clear.  “And I am going to explain, just so you know. I want to.”

“I’m listening and here, even if you decide not to finish your explanation, just know you don’t owe me anything.”  Waverly nearly started crying at Nicole’s whispered words, her heart overflowing with gratitude, appreciation, and a feeling of profound safeness she couldn’t quite place.  

“Ok, well, the thing is… I’m going to explain a lot of things that don’t necessarily pertain to the current situation exactly, but it gives background to everything and it’s hard to talk about because it’s a lot, and I’m not saying it to make you feel bad because it’s actually something to do with why I did that, which I am so sorry about again and—”

“Waves, shhhh.  It’s okay,” Nicole whispered reassuringly, fingers combing through Waverly’s locks again, calming her.  

“Right.  Ok. So… um….”

“Breathe, Waves.  I got you,” Nicole pressed her lips against Waverly’s shoulder.  

“Okay,” she took a deep breath, finding strength in Nicole, “I don’t remember much before Momma left, but Wynonna said we were happy.  She said that we were a normal family, and Ward— my, uh, my father— took us fishing, camping, on surprise family trips…. But then Momma left.  And Ward, he couldn’t handle it. He started drinking way more regular. And he wasn’t a nice drunk. He started to get… violent. Especially with Wynonna, since she actually stood up to him.  I was too young, and Willa just… she still thought it was going to get better, that he was going to get better.  She never stopped believing in him.  

“One day, he got really bad.  Worse than normal. We were all downstairs and we were playing.  We were shouting and laughing when Ward came in and he was pissed.  He started shouting at us….” Waverly took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment.  Nicole was there, Nicole was with her, and she was safe. She was safe. She could continue.  

“He was yelling at us and saying things and Wynonna stood up to him.  Like she always did. But this time… this time he picked her up and he threw her.  She hit her head against the table and then there was blood and we thought she was dead.  It….” Nicole’s arms wrapped around her, hugging her tightly, securing her.

“It was bad.  So Willa and I, we ran upstairs because we didn’t know what to do.  I was six at the time, I didn’t… I should’ve checked or something, I don’t know, but I didn’t— I didn’t know.  So we ran upstairs. Ward followed us and running away had just made it worse. He was scared we were going to say what happened and I’m not sure what happened exactly because I had run into my room, but I heard Willa trying to reason with him, telling him that it was okay and she knew that wasn’t him and he was just shouting at her and screaming and—” A tear rolled hot down Waverly’s cheek and somehow Nicole seemed to sense it.  Her thumb wiped gently across Waverly’s cheek, collecting the tear.

“I don’t know how it happened, but there were thuds and a scream and… silence.  And then I heard him coming down the hall and I was so scared. I was just in the corner because I had nowhere left to go and then his hands were around my neck and I couldn’t breathe and I was only six but I thought I was going to die and I couldn’t breath or anything and I was so scared .” Sobs started to rack her chest, as she tried to explain to Nicole without quite remembering .  But every time Waverly blinked, she saw Wynonna, lying on the floor.  Ward, stalking towards her. Willa…

“Waves, I’ve got you, okay?  I’m here,” Nicole wrapped her arms even more tightly around Waverly, “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, okay?”  Waverly pressed her face into Nicole’s bicep, taking in her sweet, mellow scent, calming her.

“I know.  I want to.  I’m sorry,” Waverly said after a moment, able to take normal breaths again, “Wynonna though, obviously she hadn’t died, she had grabbed Ward’s gun from downstairs and she saw what was happening and… and she shot him.  I had my eyes closed when it happened and she picked me up, told me to keep my eyes closed no matter what. Just keep them closed. And I didn’t. I had them closed all the way up until the door and then… before we were out the door, I opened them.  And I saw Willa at the bottom of the stairs and her head was… the blood was everywhere and….” The tears were streaming down at this point, but Waverly powered on. There was a point to all this.  

“Anyways, after that, Wynonna was distant.  Obviously. Everyone blamed her and everyone knew Ward was abusive, but suddenly he became some sort of saint after he died.  Everything was Wynonna’s fault suddenly— Ward, Willa… everything. So she went a little… I don’t know how to describe it. She just rebelled.  Against everything. Not that I blame her. She never got anything but shit in this town, but then she left. And I know why she left, but still… she left me .  It wasn’t good for her here, but a part of me couldn’t help but think she was just abandoning me.

“The point of all this was that Wynonna’s done a lot for me.  And I literally owe her my life. It’s just scary that this might not be… okay.  I don’t know. She doesn’t know and I just… we’re already the talk of the town and I don’t know how she would feel about me possibly making it…” Waverly stopped, not wanting Nicole to feel as though she didn’t appreciate her or want to be with her.  

“Worse?” Nicole finished for her.  “It’s alright, I understand. It’s really hard.  And it is a small town; people will talk. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think Wynonna will care.  She didn’t seem like the type to care about something like this when I met her. She obviously cares about you, and I think that’s all that will matter to her.”

“I know.  I do. But I’m just not sure I’m ready to take that chance yet.  I couldn’t bear it if she left again,” Waverly took Nicole’s wine and put their glasses on the ground for the moment before she turned on her side and curled up into Nicole who wrapped her arms tightly around her, an open palm applying pressure up and down Waverly’s arm soothingly.  

“It’s okay, darling.  It’s okay. We don’t have to tell her yet, alright?  Not until you’re ready,” Nicole spoke the words with her lips pressed against Waverly’s brunette locks.  

“Thank you,” she whispered.  

“‘Course, Waves.  Whatever you need.”  After a few minutes of lying in Nicole’s arms, watching the fire, feeling safe, she felt her mind start to wonder again.  

“So, what exactly did Wynonna do this time?” Waverly asked, looking up at the beautiful sight above her.  Nicole was absolutely gorgeous, especially with the crease in her forehead that she got when confused. Like right now.   

“Huh?” She questioned, clearly caught off guard.  

“This morning?  At the station? What did you bring her in for?” The brunette clarified.  

“Oh, right,” Nicole said, her confused look turning to one of anxiety.  

“Nicole,” Waverly eyed her suspiciously.

“Alright, but if I tell you, you have to promise not to say I told you,” Nicole gave in.  

“Well, don’t hold back now.”

“It’s not like this is a clearance thing because anyone could figure it out if they tried, so I’m not sure why she hasn’t told you, but she wasn’t there because I arrested her or she got in trouble,” the ginger said slowly.  

“Well then why was she there?” Waverly questioned.

“She, uh…. She works there.”

“She what ?” the brunette questioned, an incredulous look on her face.  Why hadn’t Wynonna told her that? She had obviously not wanted to talk about her job the other night when she came home from her date with Nicole, but why hadn’t she just come clean to Waverly when she was caught in the station?  Why had she let Waverly walk her out, only to then turn around and presumably head right back to the station? Also, why would the sheriff’s department hire Wynonna of all people?

“I can’t lie to you, which is why I told you, but don’t tell her it was me, please,” Nicole pleaded.  

“Of course not.  I’m going to wait for her to tell me herself, but thank you for letting me know.  At least I don’t have to worry too much about her leaving or getting in trouble,” Waverly considered.  “But I think we’ve had enough of this sad talk for one day.” Waverly turned completely, her face now within a hair’s breadth of Nicole’s, who responded by raising an eyebrow suggestively and smirking.  

“Hey there,” Nicole breathed.  

“Hey,” Waverly responded before leaning in to close the distance between them.  The kiss was soft, slow. Sweet. It didn’t hold the heat and urgency of their other kisses, but it was perfect for the moment.  Waverly maneuvered herself so she was sitting on Nicole’s lap, straddling the redhead. The position was now more comfortable, allowing Waverly to run her hands through Nicole’s bright red locks underneath her beanie, the ginger’s hands settling on her hips.  The kiss stayed sweet and comfortable, exactly what Waverly needed. She couldn’t help but be amazed at just how right everything felt with Nicole.  It was almost as though Nicole could tell exactly what Waverly needed to hear, what Waverly needed her to do.  She was perfect.

But suddenly, Nicole was shifting Waverly to the other side of the swing, sitting up straight and grabbing their wine from the ground, handing Waverly her own.  The brunette was only confused for a moment, before she noticed the headlights of the car in the driveway beside them. Before she had time to wonder who was at the homestead at this hour, Wynonna was sauntering over to the fire with a tall, very muscular and intimidating man beside her.  

“Wynonna…” Waverly cleared her throat, hoping her lips did not appear too obviously kiss swollen.  “You’re back early.”

“Yeah, just thought I’d bring the fun home, you know.  This guy is a hoot,” the older sister responded, jerking a thumb back to the stoic man behind her who seemed to be anything but a ‘hoot.’ Wynonna just then seemed to notice the ginger officer on the other side of the swing, “Haughtshot! What is she doing here?” She look genuinely confused, directing the question towards Waverly.  

“Hi to you, too, Wynonna.  Dolls,” Waverly noticed Nicole’s smile fell into a hard line when addressing the previously unknown visitor— Dolls, apparently.  

“Oh, she’s here because— we’re, uh… its—”

“We’re really good friends, Wynonna.  Sorry I didn’t realize who you were earlier,” Nicole cut Wavelry off, saving her from an explanation.  Waverly was grateful for the save, but she felt like a rock settled in the pit of her stomach. She had asked Nicole to do that, so she was just doing what Waverly had asked her, but still… the word ‘friends’ hurt.  Was this how Nicole felt every time she had said it to her over the past couple months? Waverly turned to stare at the deputy, eyes widened in the pain of her realization, that she had been hurting Nicole all along, much more than she had realized, and still, Nicole was there.  How was that even possible?

“Why was she acting like she didn’t know you this morning then?” Wynonna questioned, breaking through Waverly’s thoughts.  Nicole grimaced slightly, but managed to regain her composure before Wynonna noticed anything. The pain of agony shot through Waverly again at the sight.  

“Waverly likes to keep it professional, especially when I’ve just arrested her sister for something,” Nicole shot her eyebrows up at Wynonna, whose eyes grew wide for a moment before agreeing readily and appreciatively.  

“Right, right, right,” she nodded, “and, uh, thanks, RedHaught, for letting me off easy with that… uh…”

“Public intoxication charge?” Nicole offered, earning a glare from Wynonna in response.  

“Yeah.  That.” There was a moment of silence between the four of them before Nicole finally spoke up, lifting herself from the seat.  

“Well, I should be heading home now, anyways,” she said, taking Waverly’s hand to give it a quick squeeze before letting go, the brunette’s fingers tingling with the absence afterwards.  

“You don’t have to…” Waverly started, but she stopped short when she saw the longing smile on Nicole’s face.  She knew why Nicole wanted to go; it was for Waverly. She didn’t want to do anything to make her uncomfortable with Wynonna there.  

“I’ll text you when I get back, alright?” Nicole promised as she made her way back to her car, Waverly watching as she left.  A part of her just wanted to tell Wynonna, to not have to hide like this, but she was still scared, terrified .  So she let Nicole leave, knowing that letting her go was the last thing she wanted to do.  

Chapter Text

“I’m an ass.”

“What?” Lonnie looked at Nicole with pure confusion, obviously having no clue what she was talking about.  They were in the cruiser, driving down Main on their normal afternoon patrol route.

“You’ve been amazing, you know?  You’ve really been there for me for support with everything and I’ve just been so caught up in my own stuff that I haven’t asked how you’re doing.  I have no idea what’s going on with you, Lonnie, and I’m sorry because I’m an ass.” Nicole gripped the wheel, a solemn and apologetic expression on her face. 

“You’re not an ass, Haught,” Lonnie rolled his eyes, scoffing at her.  “You don’t know what’s going on with me because there’s nothing going on.  Cheryl and I are doing fine, we still want to wait a bit to have kids so still nothing new there… My life is kind of boring, Haught.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but there’s nothing going on for you to know about, so don’t sweat it. Actually, with all the stuff you’re going through, it’s kind of like a soap opera.  It’s entertaining.”

“Entertaining?” Nicole raised an eyebrow at Lonnie, but couldn’t hide the smirk revealing how little she was actually offended. 

“You know what I mean,” He punched the ginger lightly in the arm. 

“Ow!” Nicole exaggerated her reaction, glaring at him in mock offense.  “Don’t you know better than to punch a driver? Do you want to crash?”  Lonnie pretended to consider it. 

“Well…”

“Lonnie!”

“Ahh, just kidding, Haught.  Loosen up a bit,” he winked at her.  “Oh, pull into Clootie’s here! I need a coffee.  You want something?” Lonnie asked as Nicole pulled smoothly into a parking space. 

“Yeah, I’m exhausted actually.  My usual?”

“Sure.  Be out in a jiff!” Lonnie responded, hopping out of the car way too enthusiastically.  She couldn’t help but feel guilty for not paying more attention to how Lonnie was feeling, even if he said he was fine.  She stared off in Lonnie’s direction, not really registering anything, when she was broken out of her trance by a call on the radio— shots fired two streets over.  Rolling down the window, she shouted out at Lonnie.

“Lonnie!  Shots fired, let’s go!” She called to him quickly before responding to the call, “Haught and Reynolds reporting, three minutes out.”  She looked up to see Lonnie standing in the doorway, looking back and forth, apparently stuck between the two. “LONNIE!” The ginger shouted, finally seeming to help him make up his mind as he jumped in the car and slammed the door shut just as Nicole peeled out of their parking space. 

“Sorry, it’s just they weren’t done with yours, so…” Lonnie grimaced slightly, as though he had done something wrong.  “You can have some of mine if you want?” He offered the cup to her.

“All good, Lonnie.  Let’s just get to the scene,” Nicole answered.  She was curt, but not in a way meant to be rude or mean and she knew Lonnie understood that.  In a weird way, she was excited. She hoped no one was hurt, of course, but all the bar fights and cats up trees did get boring after a while.  Nicole wanted a case , she wanted to do something to really help people, to get someone terrible off the streets.  She wanted to feel useful, which may have been just a selfish reason, but she couldn’t help it. 

But as they pulled up to the scene where the shots were reported, Nicole saw the road already blocked by a large, black SUV and two figures surveying the area.  Her heart dropped in disappointment and a bit of contempt, for at least one of the agents.

“Shit,” Lonnie said, speaking Nicole’s thoughts.  Still, they both exited the vehicle, walking cautiously, but still with determination, to the other side of the black SUV. 

“You guys can leave, we’ve got this under control,” Dolls said, meeting the two deputies as they were about to make their way around the car, crossing his arms in front of him and standing intimidatingly close— something Nicole was beginning to think just might be his favorite pose.  Wynonna stood off to the side, eating a donut and deliberately not looking at the situation unfolding before her.

“Got a call for shots fired and I believe it’s in our job description to check it out,” Nicole fired back. 

“It’s our jurisdiction,” Dolls said coldly.

“Oh, yeah?” the redhead challenged, taking a small step closer, not willing to back down now.  “And what exactly makes it your jurisdiction?”

“Classified.  All you need to know is that I outrank you, and by still being here, you’re interfering with a federal investigation.”  Nicole stared him down, seething inside. “Or do I need to put treason back on the table?” The redhead stood there for a moment, eyes flaring in rage before she felt a small tap on her shoulder.  Looking back, she watched as Lonnie made a small, almost inconspicuous motion, jerking his head back towards the cruiser. With one more glare in Dolls’ direction, Nicole turned on her heel and stalked back to the cruiser, Lonnie following closely behind. 

It wasn’t until they were halfway back to the station, about five minutes into the ride back, that Lonnie finally spoke.  The tension had been palpable until finally Lonnie decided to break the silence.

“So… you good?” He asked, concerned.  It was a moment before Nicole answered.  

 

“He just gets under my skin, you know?  He just thinks he’s better than us and he doesn’t even know us.”  Nicole seethed. 

“Haught, I get it, but that’s just how it is.  Giving into his bait isn’t going to help any,” Lonnie warned. 

“I know, it’s just… he’s so infuriating.”  They were at the station now, walking into the office.  Nicole was still reeling, jittery and full of rage, so she threw her coat on her chair barking out at Lonnie, “I’m going to the break room to get some goddamn coffee.”  A fresh wave of anger washed over her as she remembered the fact that she was supposed to get a coffee, a good coffee, not whatever sludge was at the bottom of the pot today, until that call

“Nicole?” A voice from behind her broke through the incessant pounding of anger in her ears just as she was about to head into the break room. 

“What?!” She shouted, turning around violently to see a startled, slightly terrified Waverly standing in front of her holding two coffees with very wide eyes.

“I- I’m sorry—” Waverly was completely startled, unsure of how to react, and hurt.  And it was the hurt in her eyes that broke Nicole’s heart.

“No, Waves, I’m so sorry, I just had a terrible day so far and I was so angry so I wasn’t even thinking— I didn’t know it was you; I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.  I swear, I didn’t know it was you and I am so, so sorry, Waverly—” Nicole was freaking out, rambling, trying to explain her reaction. She hadn’t known it was Waverly, she hadn’t even been thinking about any of it at all. 

“Nicole, I understand.  It’s okay,” Waverly cut her off, stepping closer, but Nicole still had not forgiven herself. 

“No, Waves, it’s not, I shouldn’t have—” But Waverly was already walking past Nicole, into the breakroom, ignoring her apologies.  Unsure of what was happening, the deputy followed her in, watching as Waverly set the coffees on the table and stepped right in front of Nicole.  With Waverly there, right in her space, Nicole was having a hard time breathing, but she still felt terrible and wasn’t sure if Waverly had forgiven her, so she decided to resist the urge to hold her close, to kiss her. 

“I brought you a coffee.”  Waverly said matter-of-factly, looking up at Nicole as though nothing had happened.  But something had happened.  She had just yelled at her— sure, she hadn’t meant to, but she had

“But—”

“I thought I owed you,” Waverly continued as though Nicole hadn’t said anything at all, “because of the other day.  Thought I’d try to make it up to you.”

“Waves, I’m s—”

“Nicole, can’t you take a hint?” Waverly looked at her exasperatedly. 

“What?”

“The hint?”

“What’s… the hint?” Nicole was genuinely confused. 

“To shut up,” Waverly smirked sweetly as she pulled Nicole’s startled face towards her own.  Waverly’s fingers grasped the hairs at the nape of her neck, illicting a moan from the back of Nicole’s throat.  Waverly kept her face near the deputy’s, so close she could feel her hot breath against her lips, could smell the sweet, intoxicating scent that was Waverly Earp. 

“Right,” Nicole gulped, placing her hands on Waverly’s hips and gently pulling them toward her own. 

“I’ve messed up so much with you, Nicole.  And you’ve forgiven me every single time. You yelled once, not even directed to me, really, and I know you didn’t mean to, but you won’t stop apologizing.  Please believe me when I say it’s completely fine. Please stop apologizing.” Nicole could feel Waverly’s lips brushing lightly against hers with every word she spoke, causing Nicole to feel lightheaded, her mouth drying completely. 

“Whatever you say, baby,” the ginger whispered, eyes closed, not even realizing the pet name she had let slip. 

“Mmmhmm,” Waverly’s lips vibrated against Nicole’s as she murmured her approval, sending shivers down the deputy’s spine, “baby… I like that.”

“Yeah, baby?” Nicole asked, smiling against Waverly’s lips. 

“Yeah,” she breathed in response. 

“Did I mention I was sorry?” Nicole teased, hoping for a certain reaction from Waverly.  And she was not disappointed.

“Did I mention you should shut up?” Waverly smiled, eyes closed as well, breath hitching. 

“Might have.”

“Well, maybe you need some incentive.”

“Maybe.” Their lips were impossibly close at this point, breathing harder than they should be for just standing still. 

“Well, I guess if I’m not around, I won’t have to hear you apologize,” Waverly suddenly left Nicole’s space, her fingers disentangling from her hair, grabbing her own coffee off the table and skipping towards the door.  Nicole stood there for a moment, dazed and aching from the sudden lack of contact she needed.

“Waves…” Nicole groaned, turning around to see the brunette leaning halfway out of the door frame, smirking at how flustered she had obviously left the officer. 

“Text you later, babe,” Waverly winked and wiggled her fingers at Nicole in a goodbye wave before heading down the hallway and out of the station. 

It was a moment before Nicole even realized what happened.  Before she realized what Waverly had done. It was so unfair, and yet so hot .  This woman would be the death of her. 

*         *         *         *         *         *

It was nearing the end of her shift, one that she had been in a considerably better mood for since her surprise visit from a certain short, spunky, and very evil brunette.  Nicole couldn’t stop smiling ever since then and Dolls hadn’t been in to mess up her mood, so she was left happy and more than just a bit frustrated as well. Lonnie was at the front counter while Nicole sat at her desk, getting through the last of her paperwork for the day. 

“Haught?” Lonnie called over to her.  Nicole looked up to see Lonnie at the front counter with an older woman.  She had short, grayed hair, a hard face, and was looking at Nicole with a curious expression on her face, even though the deputy was sure she had never seen the woman before. 

“Yeah?” Nicole closed the folder she was working on, getting up from behind her desk and walking over to the counter.  She gave the woman a polite smile before turning to Lonnie with a question on her face.

“This woman here says she has a matter to discuss with you,” Lonnie informed her, giving a look that clearly said I’ve got no idea what this is about

“In private, if possible?” the woman amended. 

“Of course.  If you would just come this way?”  Nicole led her out and down the hall to the break room, closing the door behind them as the woman sat down.  “What can I help you with, ma’am?” The deputy took a seat opposite the older woman, trying to get a read on her. 

“Please, Officer.  Call me Gus.” Nicole couldn’t help her expression of shock, eyebrows flying up for a moment before she controlled her facial expression again.  However, Gus had already noticed and offered her a small smile.

“So you know who I am, then.  I suppose I expected as much,” she sighed. 

“I don’t know much, ma’am— I mean, Gus.  Just heard the name, but nothing beyond that.  I, uh— if you don’t mind me asking, what is it you need from me, exactly?”  Nicole tried to choose her words carefully, unsure of what Gus wanted, what she knew

“I wanted to talk to you about Waverly, Officer,” Gus mentioned, not explaining anything beyond that. 

“Call me Nicole, please.  But I’m not sure how much I can tell you,” Nicole said slowly. 

“I know, Nicole.  About you and Waverly,” she stated simply, the hard lines in her face not changing or revealing anything. 

“I’m sorry, ma’am?” the ginger asked, the crack in her voice giving her away. 

“Shorty told me.  I asked him to keep me updated on how she’s doing as I’m sure you know our situation isn’t the best at the moment.  He says he’s never seen her happier than when she’s with you,” Gus said, looking Nicole over as she spoke as if appraising her. 

“Well, I’m glad for that, ma’am,” Nicole realized that she had gone back to calling Gus ‘ma’am’ despite her request, but her nerves were acting up and the term just kept slipping out.  Thankfully, Gus seemed to understand this and made no comment.

“I suppose,” Gus sighed, emotions finally starting to glimpse through her hard exterior, “I suppose I wanted to know she’s in good hands.  That you won’t hurt her.”

“Of course not, ma’am.  Waverly… she’s special. And I would never do anything to hurt her, as long as she’ll have me,” Nicole responded, a smile creeping onto her face as she thought of the brunette. 

“Alright, then.  Thank you, Nicole.  I suppose that’s all.  Just wanted to meet you, really.”  Gus stood up, opening the door to leave the breakroom. 

“Wait—” Nicole called out after her, standing up herself, “If you don’t mind me asking, why don’t you talk anymore?  What happened?” Nicole let her curiosity get the better of her.

“I messed up,” Gus gave Nicole that sad smile again, “I made some poor decisions trying to protect her and just ended up hurting her.  The point is, I messed up and I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me. Not that I deserve it, but as long as I know she’s okay. That she’s happy.  She’s had a hard time and she needs someone who actually cares about her. So thank you, Nicole.” And with that, Gus left the station, leaving Nicole more than a bit confused.  

Chapter Text

It had been a whole week and a half since that night around the fire, and while Waverly had found time to stop in to see Nicole at the station and Nicole at Shorty’s, their schedules seemed to be just completely in conflict with each other at all times.  Whenever Waverly wasn’t working, Nicole was. Whenever Nicole wasn’t working, Waverly was. They still saw each other here and there, but Waverly was longing for a longer period of time to spend with just Nicole, where neither of them would have to worry about having to go back to work or being surrounded by people who knew them, who might talk. 

When they finally both had a day off, Waverly insisted that she pick the date this time.  Unlike Nicole, though, Waverly was unable to keep a secret. She was so excited about her plans for the day that, while Nicole visited her at Shorty’s the night before, she had gushed excitedly about what they were going to do while Nicole stared at her, smiling up at her the entire time.  As soon as Waverly saw the expression on the deputy’s face, her face flushed in embarrassment, but Nicole had grabbed her hand before the brunette could turn away.

“You’re adorable,” the ginger had whispered, getting that look in her eye that appeared whenever she was about to kiss Waverly, but they were in the middle of a crowded bar, so Waverly swore she’d make up for lost time the next day. 

When Nicole arrived at her doorstep that day, Waverly did not regret letting her know the plans for the day as Nicole had decided to dress accordingly. Waverly had not been prepared for that.  The redhead was wearing her black combat boots with very tight black jeans and the same beanie she had worn the night of the fire. But she was also wearing a form fitting blue flannel, sleeves rolled up to just below the elbow, accentuating the muscles of her forearm.  The top two buttons of the flannel were undone and, wow—

“Waves,” Nicole was smirking, “my eyes are a bit further up.”  Waverly couldn’t help a blush as she rolled her eyes. This woman was so cocky and confident.  Not like she didn’t have every right to be, though. Waverly wasn’t sure how she had gotten so lucky, but she wasn’t going to complain anytime soon. 

“Are you ready to head out?” She asked, standing on her tiptoes to give the taller woman a quick peck on the lips.

“Whenever you’re ready, baby,” Nicole responded.  Waverly loved Nicole calling her that; it felt so right, so natural.  And God, did it do something to her. Stepping out of the homestead and closing the door behind her, Waverly shivered involuntarily when she felt Nicole place her hand gently on the small of her back as the brunette led them over to her jeep.  Thankfully, she could attribute the shiver to the chill in the air, but really, Nicole’s hand felt possessive and comforting and Waverly loved it.

They got into Waverly’s jeep, driving out of the homestead and down the road.  Nicole sat in the passenger seat, fingers drawing light patterns up and down Waverly’s thigh absentmindedly as she chatted away, telling Waverly all about the latest call she had gotten at Mrs. Henderson’s (she claimed someone was breaking into her house, but really, a raccoon had just gotten into her trash again)— it took everything that Waverly had in her to concentrate on driving.  Finally, after what seemed like hours of not quite being able to breathe properly but was probably only five minutes, they pulled into the tree farm, where Waverly was taking Nicole to find a Christmas tree for the homestead. 

“Wynonna hates finding trees, so she always made me do it and, well, I’m not the biggest person ever so I don’t have the easiest time carrying the trees.  Plus, I thought it would make for a cute date,” Waverly explained, blushing and looking down at her shuffling feet as they made their way down to the aisles of trees.  Luckily it was a Tuesday morning in the beginning of December, so the lot was pretty much empty, save for the two employees at the gate.

“You may be small, but have you seen your arms?” Nicole responded appreciatively, squeezing the brunette’s bicep gently.

Nicole ,” Waverly gasped in mock horror, “have you been staring at my arms when I’m not looking?”

“Guilty as charged.” Nicole raised her hands in surrender, smiling and showing off her dimples.  “But,” the redhead leaned down slightly, her hot breath tickling Waverly’s ear as she whispered into it, sending yet another shiver down her spine, “you do have very nice arms.”

It took everything Waverly had not to jump on Nicole right then, in the middle of the open field before they had even reached the cover of the trees. 

“Well, Officer, I guess I’ll let it slide this time… if you make it worth my while,” Waverly responded teasingly, hearing her voice become low and breathless. 

“And how exactly would I do that?” the deputy questioned, staring intently at Waverly with hungry, dark eyes. 

“Hmmm… I may have an idea…” Waverly said before grabbing Nicole’s hand suddenly, pulling her into the quickly approaching rows of trees.  She made sure they went in a ways, about seven trees down the row, and between the aisles so they couldn’t be seen from the outside before pulling Nicole’s face down to her own.  They kissed hungrily, Nicole’s hands holding Waverly’s waist gently but firmly, pulling her closer against her body. Waverly grasped at the ends of Nicole’s red locks, underneath her beanie, twisting her fingers in the hairs, knowing the response it would elicit from Nicole.  And she was not disappointed, smiling against the ginger’s lips as she heard a low, most definitely sexual moan escape her lips.

Nicole must have felt her smiling against her lips because only a moment later Waverly felt a deliberate smirk against her own lips in return before the ginger’s hands left her waist.  Nicole’s finger’s trailed down, firm and confident, around Waverly’s back until suddenly they were grasping at her ass, pushing her further against the deputy’s strong frame. The brunette gasped at the sudden change in position before melting into the redhead’s incessant kisses.  Nicole’s head moved from Waverly’s lips to her cheeks, under her chin and against her neck, settling into the pulse point where she began sucking and nibbling gently.

Nicole …” Waverly said her name again, this time in a breathless moan, breath hitching.  Waverly’s fingers twisted tighter in Nicole’s hair, pulling her closer.

All of a sudden, Nicole pulled away, placing a much-too-soft kiss to the shorter woman’s lips, nose, and then forehead, pulling her into her arms for a quick hug as Waverly sighed in frustration. 

“Why’d you stop?” Waverly groaned as Nicole now took Waverly’s hand, leading her down the rows of trees.

“Because we have to go find you a tree,” Nicole answered, looking back at Waverly over her shoulder and smiling.  Waverly looked at Nicole and she swore she had never seen anything more beautiful in her entire life. The sunlight behind Nicole radiated around her face, streaming through the hairs escaping under her beanie, brightening the ginger strands.  She stared at Waverly with her dimpled smile and the brunette couldn’t breathe for a moment, she was so in awe. Nicole was absolutely gorgeous .  And she was smiling at her

“Fine,” Waverly rolled her eyes, breaking out of her spell-bound state a bit.  After debating on trees a bit ( No, that one’s too skinny… But Waves, that one is missing branches in the middle…. And that one is way too tall, Nicole… it’s not that much taller than me… Yeah, and you’re practically a giant ), they finally found one that they both agreed was perfect.  Not too tall, not too short, not too skinny, not too fat, and just full enough without having too many branches.  Waverly leaned back into Nicole as the ginger wrapped her arms around the shorter girl, kissing the top of her head gently.  Waverly smiled, looking at the perfect tree, wrapped in the arms of her perfect… what were they? Were they girlfriends yet? Did Nicole trust Waverly enough to be girlfriends yet?  After all Waverly had put her through, Nicole probably didn’t want that. 

“Hey, babe, what’s going through your head?” Nicole whispered into Waverly’s ear.  She must have felt her tense in her arms.

“Nothing, just… just thinking.”

“Hmmm,” Nicole hummed against her ear, obviously knowing something was up but apparently not wanting to pry.  Or not caring.

No.  Waverly shut her eyes tightly, her heart pounding in her chest.   Nicole cares.  She does. She wouldn’t be here if she didn’t .  But the doubts were showing up again, chewing at the corners of her mind.   She doesn’t care.  It’s you .  Why would she care?  But Nicole had literally told her she cared about her, that she liked her.  What was wrong with her that she just couldn’t believe it, couldn’t accept it?

“Baby,” Nicole muttered, squeezing the brunette tightly, “You with me?”  She gently pressed her lips to the side of Waverly’s head, just above her ear, pulling Waverly out of her own head, at least for the moment. 

“Yeah, sorry,” Waverly tilted her head back, trying to look up at Nicole who still held her from behind.  She smiled softly up at her, amazed at the woman who seemed to know her so well. When she was just there, with Nicole, not stuck in her own head, everything felt so right, so easy, so safe

“Right, well, what do you say we cut this thing down and get it back to your place?”

“Yeah, we should probably get on that, shouldn’t we?”

“I mean, we have been here for almost two hours and we only just found a tree,” Nicole chided. 

“Hey, we had to find the perfect tree and before that we did get a little, um… distracted ,” Waverly smirked, teasing her.  Nicole just rolled her eyes in response, but her dimples were showing, a smirk evident on her face though she tried to hide it.  The redhead released Waverly from her grasp, taking the knapsack she had been carrying on her back off her shoulders to take out the saw she had stored in there.

“You want to start, or should I?” Nicole offered Waverly the saw. 

“You can start.  I, uh… I’m not great with a saw.  It’s embarrassing really. You don’t want to see me try.” Waverly blushed.  Nicole just raised her eyebrows in response, obviously trying to hold back a chuckle. 

“Alright, well I’ll get started and then you’re going to have a try because I definitely want to see that,” Nicole said, earning an exasperated groan from Waverly.  But Waverly was quickly distracted when Nicole dropped to the ground, starting to move the saw back and forth against the trunk of the tree. The muscles of her biceps strained against the tight flannel, those in her forearms tensed with the effort, the tip of her tongue stuck slightly out between her lips in concentration. 

Waverly was transfixed

She felt her mouth go dry, staring at the beautiful, strong, sexy as hell ginger lying on the ground in front of her.  She wanted to bend down, trail her fingers down the outlines of the muscles, to push her flat down and straddle her against the ground, to unbutton the rest of the tight flannel that hugged Nicole’s frame so perfectly , to grasp the perfect, full globes of flesh—

“Waverly?  Waves, baby?”  Nicole was looking up at her now, smirking knowingly.  Waverly blinked a couple times, flushing deep red at where her thoughts had just gone so quickly. 

“Yup?” Waverly squeaked, face burning an even deeper red as she heard the high pitched sound escaping from her lips. 

“I’ll help you through it, just come on down here and give it a try,” Nicole patted the ground between her and the tree. 

“Nicole…” Waverly whined, crossing her arms and pouting.

“That pout won’t work on me today, baby.  Come on.” Nicole rolled her eyes, patting the ground again.  Sighing, Waverly crawled down to the hard, frozen dirt, wrapping her fingers around the handle of the saw.  She tried to continue the sawing, but somehow in the matter of seconds, the saw managed to escape from the deep cut Nicole had already made, scraping at the bark surrounding the cut, and somehow the blade ended up bending.  It was not going well and Waverly was just about to give up on her own when she heard Nicole laughing behind her. Before she could even turn around to glare, she felt the ginger’s body pressing against her back, soft hands wrapping around hers on the saw, strong arms pressing against her own.  Waverly was trying to maintain her concentration as Nicole guided her hands and the saw back and forth, cutting farther into the tree, whispering instructions into her ear. She was breathing hard and shallow, but it had nothing to do with the physical exertion of taking the tree down. It seemed to take forever, but finally , the tree fell softly against the one beside it, cut completely from the base but held up by the other tree. 

“God, you’re the worst,” Waverly muttered, Nicole’s arms still wrapped around her. 

“What?” Nicole questioned, confused.  Waverly kicked herself mentally, not intending for Nicole to have heard, or even to have said that out loud. 

“You’re driving me crazy.”

“Oh, really?” Nicole smirked, her lips against Waverly’s neck.  Waverly closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip, tilting her head to the side to give Nicole more access. 

Nicole ,” Waverly moaned, right before Nicole pulled herself away from Waverly, grabbing the saw to put back into the knapsack. 

“We should probably head out now,” Nicole held her hand out to Waverly, helping her up.  When Waverly pouted at her, she explained, “You left me very unsatisfied at my job the other day.” 

“What if I promise to never do it again?” Waverly pleaded, hands pressed against Nicole’s chest. 

“Well…” Nicole brought her lips down to Waverly’s, hovering just above them, pulling slightly away when the brunette tried to grasp the officer’s lips in her own.  “Maybe if I believed you,” Nicole winked, pulling away from Waverly and grabbing the tree, tugging it down the aisles toward where the jeep was parked.

“You’re the worst, Nicole,” Waverly called from where the ginger had left her standing, breathless. 

“I know, baby,” Nicole called back, already halfway to the parking lot. 

Waverly groaned, but was unable to keep a smile off her face.  This woman would be the death of her in the best possible way.

*         *         *         *         *         *

They had made their way back to the homestead, the tree strapped to the back of the jeep, when Waverly noticed a change in Nicole.  She started pulling at the edges of her flannel and worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.

“Nicole?”

“IwantedtotalktoyouaboutsomethingbutI’mnotsureifit’scrossingaline,” Nicole blurted out all at once. 

“Nicole,” Waverly said gently, moving the ginger’s head with her finger underneath her chin so she would look at her.  “You can tell me anything, you know that, right?” Nicole took a deep breath, nodding.

“I had a visitor yesterday, at work,” Nicole started. 

“It’s okay, babe,” the brunette whispered, holding Nicole’s hand reassuringly. 

“It was Gus.”

“Oh,” Waverly stiffened.  She didn’t even want to guess what Gus had said.  Or why she was even there, talking to Nicole in the first place.  Did she know? How could she know? Nobody knew. 

“I’m sorry, I just thought you should kn—”

“What did she say?” Waverly cut in, albeit gently. 

“She said Shorty had told her about us, and she just wanted to make sure I would be good to you.”  Nicole told her. Waverly sighed. She wasn’t even angry anymore, to be honest. She was just done .  “Can I— can I ask what happened?” Nicole inquired softly.  When Waverly took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment, Nicole went to apologize, but the brunette didn’t let her get that far. 

“No, it’s fine, really.  She uh… When everything happened with Wynonna, she wasn’t charged or anything, but everyone said she was a killer and that Ward was this great guy and Gus…. she let them do that.  She didn’t say anything .  She pushed her out of the house as soon as she turned eighteen and didn’t do anything to make her think she could come back.  I thought maybe she didn’t know what was happening to us, that she actually didn’t believe Wynonna and she thought I was protecting her so I was lying.  Then I heard her and Curtis talking one day, and Curtis had always been nicer to Wynonna, so he was trying to defend her. Basically, Gus said some things and I knew , just from what she was saying, that she had known all along and she was just treating Wynonna like shit for no reason.  She knew , and she didn’t care.  She could have protected Wynonna and she chose not to.”

“Waves…. Maybe she didn’t know…”

“You weren’t there, Nicole, you didn’t hear what she said.  She knew ,” Waverly shot back, suddenly upset.   She was there , she heard, and she was tired of people doubting her. 

“I know, baby,” Nicole’s voice was small, dejected, pulling Waverly out of her sudden anger. 

“I’m sorry, Nicole.  It’s just… it’s a really sore subject for me.  I know you’re just trying to help. I love Wynonna, Gus hurt her so much, and she knew what she was doing.”  Waverly looked over at Nicole, who was staring down at her lap again, brow furrowed and looking very upset. Waverly’s heart broke seeing Nicole like this, knowing that she was just trying to communicate with her and that the brunette hadn’t reacted well to the information.  So much so that Nicole was second guessing everything now.

“Hey,” Waverly said, running her fingers to the back of Nicole’s neck, underneath her beanie and through her hair, “I am sorry, Nicole.  I shouldn’t have snapped at you.” Nicole finally looked up, meeting her eyes as if searching for an answer she didn’t quite know the question for.   Waverly looked at her then, feeling such appreciation and longing, warmth filling her, even with how upset she had gotten just a few moments before. Looking at Nicole, being around her, calmed her.  Waverly was about to lean in, to press her lips to Nicole’s, when out of the corner of her eye, she saw Wynonna exiting the homestead, heading over to the jeep where Waverly and Nicole were still seated. 

“Baby girl.  Haughtstuff. You gonna move in there, or are you guys actually going to come out at some point?” Wynonna called, still making her way across the the gravel drive.

“Fudge nuggets,” Waverly said, moving her hand from where her fingers threaded through Nicole’s hair.  She looked at Nicole apologetically, seeing a shadow of hurt and doubt flash in the ginger’s eyes before it was quickly replaced with an understanding smile.  For a moment, Waverly almost kissed her anyway. Even though her sister was right there— it would be easier than having to tell her, just having her see it.

But she had just gotten Wynonna back, and what if she left again?  What if she left, and this time she never came back? She wanted to do it.  More than anything, she wanted to kiss Nicole, to be with her when she wanted, where she wanted, damn who knew.  But she couldn’t, not yet. Not when she wasn’t sure Wynonna was here for good yet. They exited the jeep, making their way in front of it as Wynonna approached them.  Nicole stood beside her, not touching Waverly like she normally would. Usually, whenever they were together, even before they were together , Nicole would always be touching her, even if only lightly.  A hand on the small of her back, shoulder pressing up against her own, pinky brushing against hers.  But now, Nicole was standing right next to her, not touching her at all. She was so close, and yet so far away.  And Waverly knew it was all her fault.

“Hey, Haughtshot, what were you talking about in there for so long?” Wynonna asked in suspicion, glaring at Nicole. 

“We were just talking about life, Wynonna. Nothing important,” Nicole answered simply.  “I should head out, but do you need help bringing in the tree first?” the redhead asked, turning to Waverly. 

“You know what, RedHaught?  You’re good. Baby girl and I got this,” Wynonna said, almost challenging her. 

“Yeah, alright, well, I guess I’ll see you around Waves,” Nicole sighed, giving the brunette a small smile before turning to head back to her own car. 

“Nic—” Waverly started.  Nicole turned around for a moment, as though waiting for Waverly to ask her to stay, to tell Wynonna… but she couldn’t.  She wanted to more than anything she just couldn’t .  So Nicole nodded slightly, understandingly, turning back around once more, heading into her car, and driving away.   Why did she keep doing this?

“Wynonna, why are you such a— such a— a shit ticket? ” Waverly turned on Wynonna as soon as Nicole disappeared down the road. 

“Shit ticket? Really, Waverly?  That’s the best you can come up with?” Her sister scoffed.

“Wynonna, you’ve seen her twice and both times you’ve driven her away!”

“Not like you’re doing much to ask her to stay, baby girl.  Plus, she’s just a friend, right? You were with her all day, what’s the big deal?”  Wynonna questioned defensively. What Wynonna said tore her up inside, because she was so right.  She hadn’t done anything to make her stay, and Nicole was so much more than a friend. 

“Why are you being like this, Wynonna?!” Waverly yelled in frustration.  Mostly at herself, but her sister looked at her guiltily.

“‘Bout my job, baby girl… Haughtticket there knows and I just wasn’t ready to tell you.  I’m working with a special task force at the station.” Wynonna said, looking down, almost embarrassed. 

“Wy, I know.  I’ve known. I was waiting for you to tell me.  I don’t care, though. And you can’t just keep pushing Nicole away from me just because you’re scared!  I don’t care where your job is, Wynonna, and I don’t know why you couldn’t tell me, but you need to stop interfering in my life like that!”  Waverly yelled at her, knowing that most of the words coming out of her mouth, screaming at Wynonna, were meant for herself. She kept pushing Nicole away because she was scared of how her sister would react. 

“So Haught stuff told you? When I get to her—”

“This isn’t about her!  This is about you .  And why you couldn’t tell me.”

“I thought— because Ward was Sheriff you wouldn’t like me in law enforce—”

“I don’t care , Wynonna.  As long as you’re happy and safe, I really don’t care.”

“Really?”  The older brunette looked doubtful.

“Yeah, Wy, of course,” Waverly rolled her eyes.  “Now you said you were going to help with the tree, so are we actually going to do that now?”

“Fine,” Wynonna rolled her eyes, but Waverly couldn’t help noticing a small smile on her sister’s face.  

Chapter Text

“Waves, I don’t know how….”

“Pretty please.”  Ugh, the pout. She had to resist the pout. 

“Have you seen me?  I’m way too uncoordinated for that.”

“But I’ll help you, I promise.”

“Baby, if I fall on you we’re both going down.”

“But you’re so cute when you’re cold and you’re cheeks and nose are all red.”  The pout was there again. Must. Resist.

“But I’m just going to keep falling down, Waves.”

Please .  For me?”  The pout was too strong and Nicole felt herself cracking. 

“Fine.  But if I get hurt it’s on you,” Nicole warned, finally giving in.  But the look on Waverly’s face made it so worth it.  She jumped up and down, squealing in excitement. 

“It’s going to be so cute!” The brunette exclaimed, a smile splitting her face.  “Oh, and we can get hot chocolate and I have mittens and we can hold hands and don’t worry I will totally hold you up if you’re unsteady I promise— I’m so excited!”

“You’re so lucky you’re adorable,” Nicole rolled her eyes but she was unable to keep a smile from creeping up on her lips.  Waverly stood on her tiptoes for a moment, reaching up to give Nicole a quick peck on the lips before racing into the other room, shouting something about looking for gloves and scarves for them. 

They hadn’t been able to decide what they were doing for their date that afternoon, so they met at the homestead while Wynonna was out for the day.  The two had been discussing different ideas of what they could do when Waverly got one that she was particularly excited about and really wanted to do.  An idea that, to be quite honest, scared the hell out of Nicole because she was in no way coordinated enough for that.  But the pout .  She was a strong woman in most respects, but when the brunette stuck out her bottom lip and widened her eyes at the older woman, Nicole could not hold her ground for long. 

So now they were going ice-skating.  And thanks to Waverly and her pout, there was no way Nicole was getting out of it now. 

*         *         *         *         *         *    

“It’s just like walking, Nicole, don’t worry about it,” Waverly assured her.   She had put on the skates, gliding into the rink and speeding gracefully around a couple times.  Meanwhile, Nicole wobbled over to the edge of the rink, holding on to the wall for support. She watched Waverly in awe, completely shocked by how someone could be so beautiful, so graceful… so angelic.  However, when Waverly said that, Nicole wrinkled her nose, making a face of complete disbelief.

“It is not just like walking, Waves.  Look how thin these blades are!  How am I supposed to balance on these things?”

“It cuts into the ice a bit to give you leverage, that’s how.  It’s not that bad once you get the hang of it,” Waverly skated over to the rink opening, holding out her hand to Nicole who looked at it apprehensively.  “Trust me?” The brunette asked, a look of sincerity in her eyes. Nicole stared at her, sure a look of pure adoration was clear upon her face.

“Of course,” the redhead whispered more than anything else.  Nicole took her hand with after a deep breath, stepping one foot onto the ice. 

“One more step, Nic, you got this, just hold onto my arm if you need to, okay,” the shorter woman offered her support, seeming to be concentrating on watching Nicole’s footing. 

Carefully, Nicole put aside her fears and put her other foot gently onto the ice— only to immediately lose her footing and start falling backwards. Waverly tried to hold her up, but Nicole’s hand slipped from hers and with a thud her feet had slipped out from underneath her and the redhead was suddenly sitting, legs spread, on the ice. 

Now it was Nicole’s turn to pout. 

“My butt hurts now,” she pouted angrily at Waverly, arms crossed against her chest as her tailbone throbbed.  Waverly rolled her eyes, obviously saying the first thing that came to her mind when making fun of her.

“Oh, do you want me to kiss it and make it better?” the brunette teased.  Nicole raised her eyebrow, smirking at Waverly.

“I mean… if you insist,” Nicole said, her cockiness getting the best of her.  When Waverly realized what exactly she had said, her eyes went wide and her face flushed bright red in embarrassment. 

“Oh— I didn’t mean—” Waverly stumbled over her words.

“Sure you didn’t,” Nicole winked, enjoying Waverly’s embarrassment and general flustered state.   With Waverly’s help, she was able to get up on her feet again, but in order to stay there, Nicole found that she had to hold on to her for dear life.  Not that she minded… Hanging on to Waverly’s strong arms, holding her waist, leaning into her…

After awhile, Nicole was starting to get the hang of this whole ice skating thing.  She probably could have let go of Waverly, but holding on to her like this felt so nice.  So she pretended for the rest of the time, hanging on lightly to her shoulders, her arms, her waist. 

After a couple hours on the ice, they finally decided it was time to leave.  Nicole hobbled her way to the bench, ankles nearly giving out before she was able to fling herself on to the wooden surface, groaning in satisfaction.  Her feet were killing her.  She tore off the skates before leaning back slightly and groaning in relief, earning a chuckle from the short brunette beside her.  Waverly quickly kissed Nicole’s cheek, the feeling of the soft lips on her skin sending a warm tingle throughout her, before snuggling up into her side.

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered as Nicole put her arms around the girl, squeezing her gently.

“For what?”

“For doing this for me.  I know you weren’t really too into it and you were scared, but you still did it anyways.  So thank you.”

“Well, for one, I was not scared .  I’d just… never done it before.  Two, of course. It’s just ice skating, Waves.  If that’s what you want, I think I can handle it,” Nicole smiled down at her warmly.  When the brunette looked up, the golden brown eyes were met with a look of pure, unadulterated tenderness, causing Nicole to melt at the sight.  It took everything she had not to pull Waverly into a long, passionate kiss, right there in the middle of the arena for everyone to see.

“You’re amazing,” Waverly whispered in awe, but Nicole barely heard her.  Her mind was going a million miles a minute, wanting to ask the question she had been dying to ask, practically since the day they met. But no, it was too much, too fast, too soon, and yet—

“Will you be my girlfriend?” Nicole blurted out.  Maybe this wasn’t the best place to do it, freezing cold and cuddling with each other, shoeless in an arena full of people.  But Nicole couldn’t hold it in anymore. She didn’t want to be with anyone else, she just wanted Waverly .  And if Waverly wasn’t ready yet, sure, it would hurt, but she could handle it.  She would wait however long Waverly needed until she was ready, but she at least needed to try.  It seemed like an eternity before the brunette answered, but in actuality it was probably only a heartbeat. 

“Really?” Waverly looked up, a confused expression on her face.

“Oh, shit— I’m sorry if that was too soon, I knew it was and I should have—” But then Waverly’s lips were on hers, silencing her, a hand caressing her cheek and Nicole didn’t even have time to think about the fact that they were in a crowded arena and Waverly Earp was kissing her and Waverly didn’t care and was this a yes?

“Yes,” Waverly breathed, beaming when she finally pulled away.  “Without a doubt yes. I wanted to ask you last week, at the tree farm, but I thought you might not want that.”  Waverly looked down at her lap, almost ashamed.

“Baby, never ever doubt how much I want to be with you, okay?” Nicole whispered gently, pulling her back into her arms.  “Now what do you say we get out of this freezing place and head back to mine for some take out and a movie?  As girlfriends .”  Saying that would never get old. 

“Sounds perfect,” the brunette agreed, snuggling in closer to Nicole’s side and hugging her even tighter.  She could get used to this.

*         *         *         *         *         *

“So any preference for take out?”

Yes ,” Waverly said forcefully, looking over the side of the couch she was currently kneeling on, watching Nicole rummage around her kitchen for take out menus. 

“Care to elaborate?” Nicole chuckled, still sorting through the drawer. 

“Steamed dumplings!” Waverly said excitedly. 

“Just steamed dumplings?  Nothing else?”

“I don’t care I just need steamed dumplings right now.” Waverly whined.  Nicole looked up, having gathered together the chinese menus.  Ugh, that pout again. But she had to admit, the pout was kind of sexy.   Really sexy. 

“Really?  Are you sure you need them?” Nicole walked over to the couch, tossing the menus over the back of the couch and placing her hands on the small of Waverly’s back, pulling her closer into her. 

“Yes.  I have the worst craving, babe.  Please?” The brunette looked up at her with wide eyes. 

“Well… if I must ,” Nicole teased, not able to believe her luck that this perfect, amazing, intelligent, beautiful girl was in her arms. 

“Thank you! Best girlfriend ever!” Waverly exclaimed, giving Nicole a quick peck on the cheek. 

“Wow, I should get you steamed dumplings more often.  Now let me go order them,” she said, pulling reluctantly out of Waverly’s embrace. 

Not even an hour later, Nicole found herself laying back on her couch, Elf playing on the TV in front of them, empty containers of steamed dumplings on the coffee table, with Waverly seated between her legs. 

“Hey, girlfriend,” Nicole whispered in the brunette’s ear about halfway through the movie.  She didn’t know exactly why she had said that, it had just felt right .  She was watching Waverly as she watched the movie, the smile on her face and her laugh… She was snuggled against Nicole and while she wanted to stay like this forever, she also just wanted to kiss her. 

“Hey, girlfriend back,” Waverly turned a bit, a huge smile breaking across her face.  With Waverly staring up at her with that smile , Nicole couldn’t help herself anymore.  She cupped her face, kissing her gently on the lips.  Their lips moved against each other slowly, sweetly, Waverly’s hand now placed lightly halfway up Nicole’s side.  But when Nicole’s tongue swiped lightly across Waverly’s bottom lip, the brunette pulled back suddenly, causing Nicole to start worrying that she had done too much, gone too far yet again. 

“Waverly, I’m so sorry—” Nicole started, because she should have known .  Usually Waverly was all over her, but she hadn’t been today.  She didn’t want her today and Nicole should have known that and shouldn’t have tried to kiss her like that and—

“No, Nicole it’s just…” Waverly flushed slightly, “I’m on my period,” she muttered. 

“Oh, God, Waves— I wasn’t—” Nicole stammered, trying to get out the words.  She saw the confused look on Waverly’s face and took a deep breath. “You know, I said I want you, so that’s not it but I know you said you’re not ready and that’s fine, I wasn’t trying to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.  Just because we’re here doesn’t mean I—”

“Nicole,” Waverly chuckled, placing her head on the redhead’s chest and snuggling into her.  “It’s not that, it’s just that I’m feeling bloated so I’m just not in the mood really for anything but soft kisses, if that’s okay?”  The brunette’s face looked almost apologetic, brow furrowed as she seemed to try to hide her face in Nicole’s chest. She wrapped her arms more securely around Waverly, kissing her on the top of her head gently. 

“It’s alright, baby, I understand.  Do you need anything? Advil or a heating pad or water?  I don’t like tampons, but I have pads if you need some,” she offered. 

“You don’t like tampons?” Waverly asked. 

“Nooooo thank you,” Nicole said in a sing song voice, smiling against the hair on the top of Waverly’s head, breathing her in.  “But seriously anything you need, just let me know.”

“Really?” Waverly looked almost confused.

“Yeah, of course,” Nicole said, unsure why she was so confused. 

“You’re okay with not, you know?”

“Making out?  Waves, I don’t need to make out with you all the time.  I like spending time with you. It doesn't matter what we do.  Making out is great, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re not one hundred percent into it, it’s not what I want to do.”  Nicole said it as though it were the most obvious thing in the word because, to her, it was

“Really?  So, it’s fine?”

“Waves, baby… I like you.  And I just want to spend time with you.  You deserve better than someone who gets upset with you because you’re not in the mood, and I’m sorry if that’s all you’ve known.”   Waverly buried her face further into Nicole’s chest and she hugged her tightly. “Baby, I need you to stay here, with me, okay? Don’t get into your head.  I’m here, I’m with you, this is real. I like you. Please, baby, look at me.” Nicole pulled slightly away, giving Waverly room to lift her head and stare into Nicole’s eyes. 

“I’m sorry,” Waverly whispered, looking up but not quite meeting the ginger’s eyes.  Nicole had felt this before, when they went to go pick out the trees, Waverly drifting away from her, but she hadn’t seen that look her in eyes since the day she went to go see her above Shorty’s.  The green eyes looked lost, void of life, empty .   She lifted her hands to run a thumb across the brunette’s cheekbone; Waverly leaned gently into the touch. 

“Please don’t apologize,” Nicole tried to keep her voice from cracking.  “Waverly. I’m here. I like you .”  Nicole could see a question in the brunette’s eyes, but she didn’t voice it.  Instead, she chose to snuggle back up against Nicole, head against the officer’s chest, squeezing her tightly around the waist.  Nicole sighed gently, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to get through to Waverly that quickly, not after living her whole life with people who didn’t treat her right.  She ran her fingers through the long brunette locks, breathing in the scent that was Waverly. Waverly faced towards the TV, but her eyes were closed. So Nicole just held her, combing through the younger woman’s hair until her breathing slowed and steadied, giving in to sleep.  Once she was sure Waverly was fast asleep against her, she finally let her own eyes close, just for a moment….

Chapter Text

Stupid.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  

Waverly spilled the beer she had just poured for the third time since starting her shift only forty-five minutes prior.  

Why can’t you do anything right?

She shuffled back to the nozzles, refilling the glass to the top before placing it in front of the agitated customer.  She didn’t even really see the customer, actually. Waverly felt herself going through the motions, falling deeper and deeper.  

It had started again a couple weeks ago, the thoughts eating away at the corners of her mind when she was in bed, late at night and unable to sleep, at her job, surrounded by customers, even when she was with Nicole.  

The dark thoughts, the doubts, everything eating away at her until she was drowning, suffocating, and then— and then nothing.  Emptiness. She felt herself falling again, pushing away anyone who could catch her. It had been four days since her ice-skating date with Nicole, when she fell apart in her arms.  But Nicole was saying that she was there for Waverly, that she liked her and Waverly couldn’t believe her.  How could she? Waverly was a mess , just look at her.  After spilling those beers she had been wiping the same spot on the counter for the past five minutes, unable to get out of her head, unable to focus on anything other than her own sheer stupidity , how worthless she felt.   So for the past few days, she had come up with excuses to not see Nicole, and it was killing her, because that was the thing she wanted more than anything, she just didn’t think she deserved it.  She didn’t deserve Nicole .  

“Waverly?” She heard a gruff voice break through her fog a bit, looking up to see Shorty staring at her with a concerned look on his face.  “You good there? Think that spot’s right clean enough there.”

“Yeah, sorry,” Waverly answered, not quite meeting his eyes.  

“See that redhead cop lately?” He asked, narrowing his eyes.  Waverly knew what he was asking; he wanted to know if Nicole had hurt her.  

“We’re good, Shorty, thanks,” Waverly’s voice came out small.  She knew she hadn’t placated him, given the non-committal and dubious scoff she received in return, but Waverly avoided it, instead moving down to wipe the other side of the bar.   The brunette felt his eyes on her, but she kept her eyes trained on the bar top, continuing to wipe away nonexistent messes.

The rest of her shift passed slowly, so incredibly slowly.  She smiled at her customers, but her eyes were dead. Her insides felt empty, almost as though they had been ripped out, her chest hollowed.  She seemed to keep messing up the rest of her shift, spilling beers, mixing up drinks, never doing anything right .  

Well, what’s new?

She left at the end of her shift, not even bothering to say goodbye to Shorty.  She assumed he was in the back doing something, and though she thought she heard her name being called as she stepped outside, she didn’t turn around to check.  She was almost to her jeep, so close. Then she could go to the homestead and…

And what?   Wynonna said she wouldn’t be heading back until late that night, so Waverly would just be heading back to an empty house, full of ghosts and regrets.  

She knew .  She knew she shouldn’t go back there alone, not right now.  Not like this.

What does it matter?  Whether or not you go back now, it’s not going to change anything.  You’re still going to feel this way because that’s just what you are.  Worthless. Undeserving.

She could call Nicole.  She hadn’t seen her in so long, heard her voice.  She had told the redhead that their work schedules hadn’t lined up, that Wynonna was having issues… it had only been four days, so she was sure Nicole wasn’t thinking much of it, but to Waverly it felt like forever.   More than anything, she wanted Nicole to be there, to hold her, to tell Waverly that she was safe .  But she didn’t want to burden Nicole— she couldn’t burden her.  

Waverly continued on the road, not paying attention to where she was going, barely even registering whether she was still on the road or not.  She felt more than saw her vision coming in and out of focus as the tightness in her throat and the the emptiness in her chest grew almost overbearing.  She wasn’t quite sure how she got back— she knew she was driving, but she didn’t remember most of the route— but suddenly she was pulling into the dusty gravel drive of the homestead.  The desolate homestead, yet so full — full of hurt— all the same.  

Empty, tearless sobs racked her chest as Waverly dragged herself into the homestead, up the stairs, falling onto her bed.  She just wanted to disappear , to not be here anymore.  Everything seemed too much, and yet not enough.  Why did she feel like this? Why couldn’t she just be happy ?  

Because you don’t deserve it.  You don’t deserve happiness or any of it.  That’s why no one loves you, no one will ever love you.  

But Nicole… Nicole had said she’d liked her, that she wanted to be with her.  

Sure.  But how long do you really think that’s going to last?  She may say that now, but she doesn’t actually care. She’s just going to end up leaving you, just like everyone else.  She won’t stick around forever, especially after the way you’ve been treating her. You keep pushing her away, and you’re even doing it again.  No one’s got an infinite amount of patience, not even Nicole. This was probably the last straw. She’s as good as gone, and even if she’s not yet, she will be soon.  She asked you to be her girlfriend, and you haven’t spoken to her since. That’s just messed up.

She said she was there, that she wouldn’t leave.  

People lie .   Momma left you, Wynonna left you, everyone leaves you.

Nicole said she liked her.

Lies .  

No— she said she was there for her, that she liked her .  

Think about it, does this make any sense?  It’s you .  Why would she like you ?   You’re so stupid.  Thinking that someone like her could like someone like you .  What would make you think you’re special enough

“STOP IT!” Waverly shouted out loud, screaming into the emptiness of the house.  Her mind was so loud, but she must look crazy, because the voices weren’t real .  

Maybe that’s because you are crazy , her mind told her softly.  The gentler sounding voice was almost worse.  It sounded more reasonable, like she couldn’t argue with it.  

“She said I’m better than this.  And I am, I am, I am ,” Waverly whispered, tears finally breaking through and coursing hot down her cheeks.  

No, you’re not .  

The statement was so simple, sounding almost sad— disappointed .  

The emptiness scraped at her insides, filling her with nothing .  

She needed to feel .  She needed to forget .  She needed to drown out the voices in her head telling her that she wasn’t enough because goddammit she knew she wasn’t enough and she didn’t need to keep hearing it over and over and over again .  

She hadn’t gone under the mattress in weeks.  Not since that night that she had stopped herself, when she remembered what Nicole had made her promise—

Nicole had made her promise that she would call if she was ever feeling like that again.  

But she doesn’t want to talk to you.  Do you really think she’d want to hear that you’re weak and pathetic and can’t handle life ?

The silver gleamed between her fingers and god why did she want to do this so badly?  It was almost as though doing this would make everything go away and everything better, and that didn’t make any sense.  

Waverly knew that didn’t make any sense.  

But what if it did?

Do it .  

But Nicole—

Doesn’t care.  

Wynonna—

Is just going to leave again next chance she gets.

She said—

People lie.  Now, do you want to remember every lie she told you, about how you’re wonderful and funny and beautiful and that she likes you, knowing that she’s just lying through her teeth?  Knowing that you’re worthless and stupid and ugly?  Or do you want to make all that go away?

She couldn’t take it anymore.  Her own head was driving her insane.  She needed it to stop and she knew how.  

Before she even realized, she was running the blade across her thighs, but that wasn’t enough.  She kept going, down her thighs, on her hips, across her wrists.

Stupid .

Ugly.

Worthless.

Annoying .  

And then she stopped.  The blood was everywhere and what had she done?  The sobs wracked through her and she couldn’t handle this anymore.  She wasn’t even thinking anymore.  She knew what she wanted, what she needed .  Every part of her mind was shut down and a little twinge told her she shouldn’t be doing this, but the logical part of her mind was on hiatus and she was doing what she wanted.  

So Waverly picked up her phone, sobbing as she dialed Nicole’s number.   

Chapter Text

Nicole flopped down on her bed, starfished over the covers, completely exhausted from the day.  It hadn’t been terrible, per se, it was just long .  Everything was annoying and she hadn’t seen Waverly since the night they decided to be girlfriends.  Which was amazing and incredible, but she hadn’t seen her since then. Nicole knew they were both busy, and it had only been four days, but she couldn’t help but feel like Waverly was avoiding her, like something was off .  

But she was crazy, right?  She was getting into her head, again , and now everything was seeming wrong.  She poked at the holes in her white tee, running her fingers absentmindedly up and down her abs through the largest hole over her stomach.  She wanted to call up Waverly, to hear her voice, but it was late. She knew Waverly’s shift let out over an hour ago, but she hadn’t called her or texted her or anything and was she crazy or was something off ?

Nicole was in the middle of a groan, reaching for her phone to call Waverly when everything was telling her she shouldn’t, that Waverly needed her space, that Waverly didn’t want to talk to her .  Even though that was stupid and they were both just busy.  But as she picked up her phone, she felt it start buzzing in her hand.  Confused as to who could be calling her at this hour, hopeful it was Waverly, Nicole didn’t even bother looking at the caller I.D. before picking up.  

“Hello?” She asked expectantly.  

“Officer Haught?” A voice inquired.  

“This is she,” Nicole answered, sitting up straight, not quite able to place the voice, “How can I help you?”

“It’s Shorty,” the voice answered gruffly.  

“Oh, hey Shorty,” Nicole relaxed slightly, “How can I help you?  Everything alright at the bar?”

“Yeah, it’s not… Have you seen Waverly recently?” The officer worried slightly at his concerned tone.  

“I just saw her… Well, I guess it’s been a few days at this point, but she’s been really busy.   Did she show up to her shift today?” She was a bit confused, wondering if something was wrong.

“Yeah, she did but… I’m not sure, Officer.”

“Please, call me Nicole.”  Now she was really worried, and she knew Shorty would be able to tell by the concern seeping into her voice.

“You remember that time you came in and I asked you to check on her?  It’s like that, but worse I think. I was just hoping you might check in, if you could,” the old man requested.

Shit, ” Nicole whispered, already throwing on shoes and running out of her bedroom.  “When did she leave? Do you know if she went back to the homestead?”

“It was about an hour ago.  I wasn’t gonna call, it was just eating at me, and I don’t want anything to happen.”

“Do you think she’d—”

“I don’t know,” he cut her off softly as Nicole started her car, peeling out of her parking space.  

“Alright, well I’m on my way to the homestead, so if anything— I won’t call if she’s fine, okay?”

“I understand.  Thank you, Officer,” he said gruffy, apparently not taking her suggestion to call her Nicole.  

“Of course, Shorty,” Nicole responded, ending the call, speeding down the road.   I’m so lucky I’m not on duty, I’d have to pull myself over, she thought to herself, wishing there was a way to go even faster .  

Shit, shit, shit .  She didn’t want to go there, didn’t want to think…. But her mind kept bringing her back to that one day, the call she got with Lonnie and what if—

No.  She couldn’t go there.

Busy trying to think of anything else, Nicole was relieved when the phone rang again, pulling her out of her mind.  Assuming it was Shorty again, she answered quickly.

“Hello,” Nicole said as the phone connected to the car.  

“N-Nicole?” The redhead’s heart stopped when she heard a small, broken voice.   Waverly .  Feelings conflicted within her— Waverly was safe, but she obviously wasn’t good .  

“Waverly?  What’s wrong?”

“I-I’m s-sorry,” Waverly sobbed.  

“Waverly, baby it’s okay,” Nicole tried to reassure her as she pressed her foot harder against the gas.  

“Can I— can I s-see you?”

“I’m less than five minutes away, Waves, okay, just stay with me.”

“H-how?”

“I was already on way.  Shorty called and he was worried,” Nicole explained.  

“Oh, God, I-I didn’t, I’m sorry.”  Nicole heard Waverly full on crying now, and she kicked herself, not realizing that she was only going to make things worse by saying that.  

“No, baby, it’s fine.  We care about and want to make sure you’re okay, that’s it.  You don’t need to worry, okay? I’m almost there, baby. Where are you?”

“I- I’m in my room.”

“Okay, I’m pulling in now, so I’m going to hang up for a minute, but I’m going to be there, with you before you know it, okay?”

“‘Kay,” Waverly whispered into the phone.  

“I’ll be right there,” Nicole promised, putting the car in park and hanging up the phone.  She jumped out of the car, barreling through the never-locked front door and up the stairs to Waverly’s bedroom.  

What she saw upon entering broke her heart more than she ever thought was possible, and for a moment all the redhead was able to do was just stand there, absolutely speechless, heart aching and completely still.  

Blood.  That was all she saw at first.  Just blood, everywhere.   On Waverly’s legs, her arms, her hips…. She was sitting there, pants-less, cuts along all the open skin she could see, tears streaming down her face.  Waverly didn’t look Nicole in the eyes, but whenever she tried to look up at her, a new set of sobs began wracking her chest. Nicole couldn’t think for a moment, didn’t know what to do.  She just stood there, staring, heart breaking into a million pieces.

“I’m sorry,” Waverly whispered, broken.  Her timid words were what sprung Nicole into action.  She rushed to Waverly’s side, cradling her face in her hands, gently lifting her so she could look into her eyes.  She still wouldn’t look into her eyes directly, instead staring off to the side, sniffling.

“Baby,” Nicole tried to keep her voice from breaking, “I’m here, okay?  You’re okay. I’m going to go down the hall to get some towels to clean you up a bit,” another sob wracked through Waverly, “and I’m going to come right back, okay?” Nicole waited until Waverly gave her a small nod before rushing to the bathroom, gathering towels, wetting them to dampen them slightly.  

Racing back to Waverly’s side, she began to clean up the drying blood with the dampened towels from her thighs and hips.  Slowly, gently, she took the brunette’s hand, extending her arms, one by one, to clean the blood from her wrists, trying not to cry or break down as she saw the cuts riddling the smooth porcelain skin.  As she cleaned up the last arm, Nicole went more slowly, feeling her energy start to drain from her.

She didn’t know what to do .  The girl of her dreams, so intelligent, so beautiful, so funny, so kind, so wonderful , sitting in front of her, was feeling broken, alone, worthless .  And Nicole had no idea what she could do about it.  She wanted to just say some magic words to make it all better to tell the girl she loved more than anything—

Loved?

Shit .  

She loved her.  She had loved her for a while already.  She should have realized before because it was so obvious .  Nicole had probably loved this woman since… since the moment she spoke to her, since the moment she smiled at her, since the moment she saw her.  Waverly was kind, intelligent, funny… everything her heart could have ever hoped for.

She was in love with Waverly Earp.  

And this girl, the girl she was in love with, hated herself.  She felt unlovable and worthless and Nicole would give anything to make her see herself the way she did.  Wiping the last of the dried blood from Waverly’s arm, Nicole placed the towel off to the side, taking a closer look at the cuts riddling her wrists and legs.  

“Well, it doesn’t look like you need stitches,” Nicole said softly, the area behind her eyes burning with the effort of keeping the tears from escaping.  “Baby…. What happened?” She asked, her voice small. Waverly gently pulled her hand away from Nicole, pulling her shirt down in futile an attempt to cover her thighs then crossing her arms across her chest to hide her wrists, head down and hair falling down in front of her face.  Nicole gently pushed the brunette locks behind Waverly’s ears, running her fingers under the younger girl’s eyes in an attempt to dry the tears streaming hot down her cheeks. Waverly opened her mouth as though to speak, but instead she just emitted a loud sob, fresh tears escaping from her eyes.  

“Oh, baby,” Nicole hesitantly pulled Waverly into her arms, tightening her hold when the brunette melted into her arms, laying her head against the redhead’s chest.  

“I don’t know,” Waverly whispered when her breathing slowed and the tears finally stopped flowing.  “Everything and nothing? It was just… everything was too much, you know? And also I was feeling nothing at all?  And at the same time it was like my head was just screaming at me and I couldn’t stop it and I know I promised I’d call first but I needed it to just stop .”

“It’s okay,” Nicole ran her fingers through the long locks soothingly, “I’d prefer if you call first, but it’s better than not calling at all.  Is there anything I can do?”

“You’re doing so much, more than you should, and I’m so, so sorry, I shouldn’t have called—”

“Waverly, please.  Always call. No matter what happens.   Always call me.  But I mean, if there’s anything I can do to make you feel better….”

“No, I just… I appreciate everything, it’s just… I know I should feel good about me, and I don’t.  And it’s better when you’re here, but it should be better when you’re not here, too.  I need to feel okay when you’re not around but you’re helping me to get there, if that make sense?”  Waverly had managed to make her way into Nicole’s lap, squeezing her around the waist, burying her face deeper into the redhead’s chest.   She knew what Waverly was saying, and she did appreciate it. She was trying to not put it all on her, make Nicole feel like she was responsible for how Waverly felt.  And Nicole knew that Waverly’s happiness shouldn’t be dependent on anyone else, not even Nicole, because if she made a mistake one day— and God, she hoped she didn’t, but she wasn’t perfect— she would never be able live with herself if something happened to Waverly because of that.  She needed to know that, no matter what happened with her, Waverly could find happiness on her own.

“And you know, if it’s too much, and you don’t like me anymore, you can leave—”

“Baby, no,” I love you , “I really, really like you.  More than you know,” I love you, “and I’m not going to leave you, okay?” Nicole held her more tightly against her chest, never wanting to let her go.  “Would it help for you, if you want, to talk it all out…?”

“Yeah, that would be good,” Waverly’s voice was small, reluctant.  But Nicole could still tell that she did want to talk about it.

“Whenever you’re ready, baby,” Nicole whispered into her hair, planting a soft kiss to the top of her head.  

“It’s just… I felt so many things all at once and it was a lot and I couldn’t handle it and the— the first time you saw, that was what that was and then you made me promise to tell you but I didn’t want to tell you and I was ashamed so that stopped me from doing it for a while because I didn’t want you to know how weak I was.”  Everything was coming out at once and knew tears were falling, but Nicole could feel the tension leaving Waverly’s body already. “But today I— I just started thinking that this was too much and too fast and not for me because I’ve never felt this way before. I just… I thought how could this be possible and she’s going to leave me because how I feel it’s too much and it would be too much for her and then I’ve been feeling so much lately but after that it got so empty again and that emptiness, it’s the scariest thing.  Because there’s nothing. It’s just black and empty and it’s nothing. And I just wanted to feel. I wanted to feel something, anything. Because it was crushing me and I couldn’t take it anymore. I just… I needed to know I was there. And to just shut everything in my head down.”

“Are you— do you— do you want to kill yourself?”  She faltered on the word, but Nicole needed to know.  She was terrified of the answer, but she needed to know.  

“No.  Not at all.  Just the opposite.  Because that would be emptiness and blackness and nothingness forever and that’s what scares me.  I want to know that I’m alive. I want to feel something. Sometimes I get so numb that I can’t even feel my own skin and I need to— I need to do that to see that I’m alive, to see that I’m not empty, that there’s something inside me.  And when I do it, it hurts so much less than the nothing. The emptiness is so painful, it’s like I can’t breathe and all my insides are scooped out and I’m choking on nothing.”

“Baby, why didn’t you call me first?”  Nicole didn’t want to blame her, but she wanted Waverly to know that she was there for her, that she should have called her first.  That she would never judge anything about Waverly.

“Because this is too much.  I’m too much. And you don’t want to deal with me, with this.  And I don’t blame you. And I don’t know why I called you after and I’m sorry because that wasn’t fair to you, it’s just I— I didn’t want to be alone.”  Waverly fisted Nicole’s shirt, pulling her closer against herself, pushing her head even further into the redhead’s chest, if that were even possible.

“Look at me, Waverly,” Nicole placed her fingers under Waverly’s chin, guiding her face upwards so she could look into the reddened, shiny eyes, “I always want to deal with you; you will never be too much for me.  I wish you had called me before, but do not apologize for calling me after. I’m just glad part of you knew that I will always be here for you enough to call me. Because those voices, telling you that you’re not good enough or that I don’t want to be here are lying, Waves.  They’re lying to you. And part of you knew that. I will always be here if you need me. Waverly—” too soon, Nicole .   I know you feel it, and I know it’s real, but she’s not ready — “I love you.”

“What?”  Waverly’s eyes widened, staring up at Nicole and stiffening in her arms.  

“I love you,” she repeated simply.

“Why?”

“Why wouldn’t I, Waves?  You’re so kind— you have the biggest heart out of anyone I know.  You’re so smart— you know everything and I could listen to you talk about everything all the time.  You’re so adorable, and yet incredibly sexy at the same time. You’re so funny and you always know how to bring a smile to my face.  I love how you put peanut butter in your sweet and sour soup, even though it’s totally disgusting.  I love how you crinkle your nose when you’re thinking extra hard about something.  I love how when you smile— when you really smile, because you’re happy— the smile reaches all the way up to your eyes until they shine and it looks like your eyes are smiling too.  I love how even though, for whatever reason, you can’t always see it in yourself, you always find the good in everyone, even though you’re the person most deserving of that. I love you, Waverly Earp.  More than I’ve ever loved anyone. I love you.” Nicole felt lighter, as though she could shout from the top of a building and just let everyone know she was in love with Waverly Earp .  

But Waverly was pulling herself off of Nicole’s lap, standing up, staring at her with wide eyes, breathing heavy.  

“What?” She asked another time.

“I love you,” Nicole said again, though she was starting to become worried by Waverly’s reaction.  She reached for her hand, but Waverly just pulled away.

“Why would you do that?” A tear rolled down her cheek.  

“Do what?” Nicole’s voice broke, staring at her girlfriend in front of her, wrists and legs covered in red cuts, crying and broken and alone and hurt… now by Nicole?

Lie .”

“I’m not lying, Waverly, I love you ,” Nicole told her again, confused and in pain.  She sat on the edge of the bed, not wanting to reach out again and make things worse.  

“Stop it.”

“Wav—”

“STOP IT!” Waverly shouted at her, startling Nicole.  “Stop lying to me.  You don’t love me, you can’t love me.  So stop saying that because it’s not true .”

“Baby, you can’t tell me how—”

“Nicole, stop.  You need to stop .  I can’t right now I just— I need—” The brunette turned away, tears streaming down her face, choking on her words.  Her breathing started to become shallow and fast, her hand reaching up to clutch at her chest.

“Waverly—” Nicole stood up and walked over, hesitantly placing a hand on her shoulder, which Waverly shrugged off.  “Are you going to be okay tonight?” Nicole asked. She wanted to be here for Waverly, she wanted to help her, but she couldn’t .  She was heart-broken.  

“What?” Waverly looked over her shoulder slowly.  

“I don’t think…. I think it’s best if I go now.  Are you going to be okay tonight? Because if not, I will call Wynonna—”

“No, I’ll be fine,” Waverly answered quickly, turning around to face Nicole, but not looking her in the eye.  

“Are you just saying that, or will you be actually be okay tonight?” Nicole didn’t want anything to happen to her even if she just couldn’t be there right then.  Not with her feeling the way she did.  Everytime Waverly had hurt her up until this point she had stayed, even though it was killing her.  But this time she needed to go.

“Just leave me,” Waverly told her.  

“Why are you saying it like that?  I’m not leaving you , I’m just going home,” Nicole said exasperatedly.  

“What’s even the point, Nicole?  You might as well,” Waverly choked on her words.  

“Might as well leave you?  I just told you I love you !” Nicole looked at her incredulously.  

“Just go,” Waverly said after she flinched at the redhead’s words.  

“As much as I really want to right now, I’m not going to leave you alone like this, Waves, because I care about you, even though you can’t seem to understand that.  God, Waverly, why is it so fucking hard for you to believe?”  Nicole didn’t even know what she was saying anymore; she was hurt and angry and words were just spilling out of her mouth.  

“Leave me alone !”

“No!”  They stood there for a minute, staring at each other, both breathing heavy, anger and fire alight in their eyes, when suddenly they heard shouting from downstairs.  

Shit ,” the two said at once.  Nicole quickly grabbed Waverly’s skirt from the ground, throwing it at her so she could cover her thighs.  While the brunette slid a sweatshirt on, Nicole threw the bloodied towels under the bed, and then they quickly moved to the edge of the bed, staring at the door as loud footsteps approached the door.  

“WAVERLY!  Where the fu—” Wynonna stopped when she flung upon the door and saw the two girls sitting on the edge of the bed, very rigidly, staring at her.  “What are you guys doing?” She asked suspiciously.

Nothing ,” the two women said at the same time, no doubt looking very guilty.

“Right,” Wynonna said, rolling her eyes before turning to Waverly, “Why the fuck haven’t you been answering your phone?”  Her voice was curt, angry.

“Geez, I just had it turned off,” Waverly explained.  

“All day?” The older brunette raised an eyebrow.

“Mmmmhmm,” Waverly agreed, staring at her with wide eyes.  Wynonna responded by glaring dubiously back. It was a long moment before Nicole finally broke the silence, standing up abruptly and making her way to the door without looking at either of the woman in the room.  Wynonna stood off to the side to let her through.

“I should go now,” Nicole said, not quite meeting Waverly’s eyes, “Bye, Wynonna.”  The two women nodded in recognition at each other.

“I’ll—” Waverly started, stopping for a moment as though gathering courage, “I’ll call you tomorrow?”  Nicole saw the desperation, the hurt, the almost apology in Waverly’s eyes and she wanted to say yes, so badly, but she couldn’t shake what just happened.  She couldn’t stop thinking about how Waverly screamed at her when she told her she loved her. How she called her a liar.  And she knew that Waverly had her own self-confidence issues, but it was the fact that she apparently trusted Nicole so little that she called her a liar that she couldn’t get over.  She wanted to say yes, more than anything.  She loved her. But the girl she loved hurt her, a lot.  

“Sure, just… maybe not tomorrow, unless you, you know, need to.  Then please do. But otherwise… I just can’t right do this right now,” Nicole whispered, turning away and heading down the stairs, tears filling her eyes.

Chapter Text

“Get up.”

Waverly pulled the covers farther over her head, buried in the sheets.  She didn't want to get up. Getting up was the last thing she wanted to do.  

“Waverly, it’s been two days, get up ,” Wynonna said more forcefully.  

She hadn’t left her bed since Nicole had left the other night.  Wynonna would bring her water and food that she would nibble at but not quite eat, and she would just lay there, thinking over everything she had done wrong.  

Still, the two parts of her mind were conflicted.

She was lying to you.  She can’t love you. She’s amazing and you’re… well, you’re you.  

Why would she lie?  Why would Nicole tell her she loved her if she didn’t mean it?

Did you see yourself?  You were a wreck. She was just trying to make you feel better so she lied .  And even if she wasn’t lying but she was then that would just be another person to say that and end up leaving you like they always do.  They always leave you.

Regardless of whether or not Nicole was actually a liar, Waverly had called her out on it, pushing the patient redhead past her breaking point.  She couldn’t get the scene from the other night out of her head; it was as though it were stuck on repeat, playing over and over again. Nicole saying “I love you,” saying all these wonderful things ( lies ) about her, Waverly just screaming at her not to lie, to stop.  Whenever she closed her eyes she could see the pained, wide-eyed expression clouding Nicole’s face, feeling her reaching out for her, how she recoiled from her, from Nicole .  

She really messed up this time.  She had messed up before, but this one was it.  Nicole was done with her. The look in her eyes, the pain .  And then she had left, telling her she couldn’t do this, leaving without a look back.  

I can’t do this right now.   That’s what she had said.  She said that she couldn’t do this— she couldn’t do this with Waverly anymore.  And so Nicole had done the one thing Waverly knew she would eventually do: she left.  

“Waverly, get your ass up !” Wynonna shouted, suddenly grabbing at the blankets and pulling them back, exposing Waverly.  The small brunette, wearing only a tanktop and underwear, felt her heart stop at the realization that her body— covered in red marks— would now be seen by her sister.  She attempted to grasp at the covers before Wynonna could see, it was too late.

“Go away, Wynonna!” Waverly cried, attempting to crawl to the other side of the bed, grasping at sheets in an attempt to cover herself up.  Wynonna saw and now she would know that she couldn’t handle her thoughts, her feelings, her life .  She would see her sister for what she really was: pathetic, stupid, worthless .  And then she would leave again, just like she always did.  She expected Wynonna to yell at her or just leave, to be disgusted and not wanting to be around her.  She felt the edge of her bed give a bit, so Waverly assumed Wynonna was choosing the stay and yell option.  

“Oh, babygirl,” she whispered softly instead, reaching out to gently grab Waverly’s wrist.  “I’m so sorry.”

“What?” Waverly looked up at her, confused.  Why was Wynonna apologizing? Why did she have such a sad look in her eyes?  Was she just disappointed? So disappointed that she’ll leave again .   Just like Nicole did, just like Nicole promised she wouldn’t .   

“I’m so sorry, I should have—” Wynonna clenched her jaw, pulling her hand away from Waverly’s wrist and digging the nails of one hand into the palm of the other.  The younger girl took the opportunity to sit up, wrapping the blankets around herself to cover everything.

“Should have what, Wynonna?  Should have had a different sister, should have let Ward kill me when you had the chance?”  She didn’t know where this anger was coming from, but she felt the words, cutting deep and harsh as Wynonna cringed. Tears boiled hot against her eyes, threatening to spill out.  But Wynonna quickly regained her composure, staring challengingly back into green eyes.

“I should have been there, Waverly.  I should have realized. I should have done something.  I always kind of knew, baby girl. I went to visit you but Shorty said you had already left your shift and you were off again.  And I know how you are when you’re off, and I guess I did kind of know, I just… I didn’t want to believe it.  That’s why I flew in here like a bat out of hell looking for you. I thought— well, I don’t know what I thought.” Wynonna sighed, rolling her eyes slightly at herself.  

“Wynonna, I—” Waverly started before she realized she didn’t know where she was going with this, what she was trying to say.  She wanted to communicate something , but she just couldn’t quite figure out what that was.  Reassurance? An apology? But, surprisingly, her sister just nodded.  

“I know, baby girl.  I know. Now,” Wynonna said, the softness of her voice giving way to her usual loud hardness, “anything like this happens again, you call me or Red first, okay?  I assume from the tension you could cut with a knife, cook, and eat in here the other day she knows. So I don’t care who you call first, you call someone. Got it?”  Wynonna stared her down, making sure Waverly knew she wasn’t taking no for an answer. And Wynonna could be pretty scary when she was like this, so the younger brunette nodded meekly.  

“But Nicole—”

“Yes, I know, you and Red got into some sort of argument, but aren’t you guys best friends?  You’ll get through it. I know you haven’t had a lot of really close friends, and that’s probably my fault— definitely my fault— but she seems like a good one, Waves.”  Waverly blanched at the word friend, hating the way it sounding in reference to Nicole. Wynonna was being so understanding with everything, maybe, just maybe, she could tell her—

But she and Nicole weren’t exactly speaking right now.  What if this, on top of everything else, was too much for Wynonna, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back?  So she’d wait, see if she could get things back on track with Nicole, and then maybe she’d tell Wynonna. Right now, there wasn’t really anything to tell, so she didn’t need to say anything.  

“Nicole and I— I messed up.  I messed up really bad.” Waverly’s voice was small, shaking with the effort of finally admitting out loud what she had done, the damage she had caused.  Uttering the words made it so much more real and Waverly didn’t know if she could handle that.  

“You guys will be fine,” Wynonna rolled her eyes.  

“No, you don’t get it, Wy, it was really bad.”

“Listen, I work with Officer Haughtpants, okay?  Well, I work around her.  But she’s been a mess the past couple days because— I know I’ve said this before and I don’t know if it makes it weird for you— she’s totally got the ‘Haughts’ for you.”

“Wynonna!” Waverly, blushed furiously, refusing to look her sister in the eye.

“Oh, come on, baby girl, you could do worse.  I don’t call her Haughtpants for nothin’,” Wynonna winked, causing Waverly’s eyes to widen.  “Whatever. The point is, she’s a mess, and I’m pretty sure she thinks she messed up.  She’s been asking about you, too.  Like ten times a day. Kind of thought it was annoying before, but now I kind of get it.”  The remorseful look came back into Wynonna’s eyes for a moment before she shook it off again.  

“It’s not that simple.”

“It’s as simple as you both getting your shit together.  I don’t know what happened, but if I was a betting girl—”

“You are,” Waverly interrupted, earning a glare.  

“—I’d say you both fucked up somewhere along the line.  So one of you has got to grow some balls and do something about it.”

“I can’t, Wynonna.  I can’t ask her to do that.  I’ve messed up too badly this time,” Waverly whispered, knowing the truth in what she said and hating it.  She had pushed Nicole too far this time, and she knew there was no coming back from it.  The hurt on her face… she could never ask Nicole to forgive her. Knowing Nicole, knowing the kind, beautiful, wonderful person she was, she would say yes.  She would tell Waverly that she forgave her, even if she couldn’t— even if she wouldn’t .  And Waverly couldn’t ask that of her.  

“She’ll forgive you, baby girl,” Wynonna tried to reassure her.  

“I know.  That’s what I’m afraid of.”

* * * * * *

Wynonna eventually got Waverly out of bed, dragging her down the stairs.  Waverly just took up residence on the couch, much to Wynonna’s dismay, but she didn’t say much, probably just glad she had gotten Waverly this far from the comfort of her mattress.  

Wynonna needed to head out to town, but she kept making excuses to stick around, throwing a worried glance in her younger sister’s direction every now and then.  Even though Waverly kept telling Wynonna she was fine, she didn’t seem to quite believe her.

“I’m fine, Wynonna.”

“I know, I just have to do the dishes first.”

“You’ve never done the dishes in your life.”

“There was I did that one time

“Oh my God, Wynonna, you can leave .”

“I’m going, I just need

“Leave!”

“Fine, but just… are you, you know…?”

“Wynonna, I promise you, I’m okay.  I just want to relax and watch TV and not have you hovering over me every time I move .”

Eventually, she decided to give Waverly the benefit of the doubt and headed out to run her errands.  Something about having to meet up with her partner, go over some files, get some groceries (probably just whiskey).  Regardless, she finally left Waverly, who was grateful to be alone again. It was pouring outside, the rain pounding against the window frames, and the weather, along with her mood, was making her tired.  She closed her eyes, drifting off into unconsciousness…

She wasn’t sure if it was minutes or hours later, but either way, Waverly was suddenly hurled back into consciousness by a loud rapping.  The startled girl sat up quickly, her head rushing from the sudden movement. Groaning, she pulled the sleeves of her sweatshirt down over her hands, rubbing her eyes and making her way over to the incessant knocking on the door.  Waverly knew she looked terrible, hair in a messy bun piled on top of her head, the oversized sweatshirt riddled with holes, with sweatpants .  It was a desperate situation if Waverly Earp wore sweatpants .  Yoga pants, maybe.  No pants at all, sure.  But sweatpants?  Never.  They were the ultimate down-in-the-dumps comfort outfit reserved for only the most dire of situations.

Waverly finally opened the door, shocked at the sight in front of her, wishing she was wearing something different.  But that thought lasted only a moment before her heart burst and broke simultaneously.  Nicole stood in front of her, completely drenched from the pouring rain outside, red hair plastered against her face.  Tears were streaming from her reddened eyes; she looked broken .  Waverly didn’t know what to do.  She stood there, frozen, heart and mind torn between two trains of thoughts.  

She wanted Nicole.  She wanted to beg Nicole for forgiveness, to tell her she never should have called her a liar, never should have yelled at her the way she did, never should have let her leave like that .  She should have called, texted, something .  She should have done something, and she didn’t.  She just wanted to go back to where they were before.  She wanted that easiness at the tree farm, during ice skating.  

But she didn’t want to ask Nicole for her forgiveness.  She didn’t want to put her in that position. Because Waverly knew Nicole would say yes.  

So instead Waverly stood there, staring with wide eyes, mouth agape at Nicole, unsure of what to say, what she should do .  

But Nicole moved first.  She collapsed into Waverly, breathing deeply, the tears escaping silently down her face.  

“I’m so sorry, Waverly.  I shouldn’t have left you like that.  It was stupid and selfish and I’m so, so sorry, Waverly.  Please, please forgive me. I should have called or something but I thought you didn’t want me to and I just felt terrible about how I reacted and I’m sorry—”

“Shhh… it’s okay, babe.  There’s nothing to forgive.  It’s okay.” Waverly whispered into the ginger hair, kissing the top of Nicole’s head softly.  Her fingers trailed softly up and down the redhead’s back soothingly. She didn’t say any of the thoughts in her mind because she knew this wasn’t her moment.  This wasn’t the time to make it about her. So she just whispered reassurances, knowing Nicole was the one needing comfort this time. And so she would provide it and maybe, just maybe, they could start making their way back to where they were before.  

Chapter Text

It had been two days.  The two longest days of Nicole’s life, it seemed.  

She was a wreck; she didn’t know what to think, what to do.  She was snapping at work, poor Lonnie getting the brunt of her frustration, and now she needed a drink.  Not wanting to have to get a cab all the way out to Pussy Willows and knowing Waverly wasn’t working that night, Nicole decided to cut her losses and drink away her feelings at Shorty’s.  

She had tried to call Waverly.  She really had. She had picked up the phone a thousand times, trying to dial her number.  But it wasn’t easy at all; it was about as easy as trying to spin the world the other way. What could she say?  I’m sorry that you were emotionally compromised and because of that and the depression I know you have you yelled at me for putting you in a terrible, awkward position at the worst possible time and then I walked away, telling you I couldn’t handle this right now?  I’m sorry I fucked up? I left you at the worst time, in the worst way, after saying something that had no place in the conversation at that moment? Nicole shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. She knew she needed to fix this and soon, because she felt as though Waverly— her girlfriend — was slipping away from her and she had no idea what to do.  She had no idea if Waverly even wanted to see her or talk to her right now.  

According to Wynonna, who Nicole asked about every hour, Waverly was fine .  She didn’t want to press for too much information, not sure what Wynonna knew and not wanting to make her suspicious, so she kept asking, hoping she would get something more, a hint that would tell her more about how Waverly was doing, if she were actually doing fine.  But still, all she got from Wynonna every time Nicole asked was that Waverly was doing fine .  

“You know Waverly isn’t working tonight?” Shorty asked when Nicole walked into the bar, slightly damp from the pouring rain outside.  She avoided his eyes and nodded, sitting at the far end of the bar. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the old man looking at her curiously, sadly, accusingly .  Or, at least, that was how she saw it.  The other bartender went to make Nicole a green tea shot as she put her head in her hands, rubbing her eyes and sighing.  

One thing Nicole prided herself on was that she usually knew what to do, how to handle a situation.  That was what kept her at the top of her class at the academy, what got her the job she had now. But with Waverly, she was lost.  She didn’t know how to help her and she didn’t know what she could do now. This was a situation she didn’t know how to handle. Nicole knew all she wanted was to see Waverly, to hold her, to apologize, to not take back saying that she loved her because goddammit she loved her , but to maybe not say it again until Waverly was ready to hear it.  But even if she didn’t say it, Nicole wanted Waverly to know it, to understand her love through her actions.  And the problem she found now, though, was that she didn’t know how to do that right now.   She didn’t know what Waverly wanted from her and that was killing her.  

In the midst of shooting back her forth shot, Nicole felt an open faced palm smack her on the back forcefully, causing her to choke and spit out most of the shot.  

“Haughtshit!” Wynonna called out, leaning over the bar after taking the stool next to her.  “We gotta have a talk.”

“About what?” Nicole answered shortly, her head already fuzzy.  She was quite the lightweight.    

“About you and Waverly,” Wynonna said simply, causing Nicole’s heart to stop.  Had Waverly told her?

“What do you mean?” Nicole asked cautiously.  

“I know,” Wynonna started, staring at the bar top and tapping her fingers.  Nicole knew better than to fall into that trap, even while very tipsy. So she waited for Wynonna to finish.  It took a minute, two unordered shots of whisky brought over to Wynonna by an apparently seasoned bartender, but she finally finished her thought.  “Thank you for being there the other night. You know, Waverly doesn’t have a lot of really good friends so… thank you.” Another shot of whisky. “So what are you drinking?”

“Green tea shots.”  Nicole was suspicious, still not quite sure what Wynonna knew as the brunette ordered a shot for each of them.  

“Huh.  Trying to get drunk?  Girl after my own heart.”

“Yup.  Been a rough couple of days.”

“You know those are Waverly’s favorite.”  It wasn’t a question.

“Yeah, I guess I do,” Nicole muttered as they downed their shots together.   

“Which is also what I needed to talk to you about.”

“Ahhh…. Knew there was something else,” Nicole gave Wynonna a sardonic, slightly drunken grin.  

“Waverly won’t listen for shit, so you gotta get off your ass and go talk to her.  I don’t know the specifics about why you’re fighting, but she doesn’t let people close to her often.  You seem like you’ve been a good friend, you know, actually around, but I swear to God, Haught, if you hurt her I will make sure it’s the last thing you ever do.  And right now, you’re hurting her.  Luckily for you, I’m pretty sure the hurt’s going both ways, so if you get your shit together and fix this, I’ll let it slide.  So by the end of tomorrow, you’re going to go talk to her and fix whatever’s going on here or I will fix you.”

“Uh—” Nicole stared at the brunette for a moment, taken aback.  

“By fix you I meant kill you,” Wynonna apparently felt the need to clarify.  

“Yeah,” Nicole blinked, “I got that.  Though maybe threatening an officer isn’t a great idea.”

“Yeah, but I outrank you, so it’s probably fine?” Nicole squinted her eyes, thinking it over.  

“Fair,” she finally conceded as Wynonna ordered another two shots for them.

“So you gonna do it?” Wynonna asked after they were given their shots.  

“What?” Nicole was feeling the alcohol at this point.  

“Waverly, dumbass.” They were discussing talking to her right?  Not sex? Because this was sounding a lot like a sex talk.

“Right.  I just don’t know if she wants that, though.” Better wording, Nicole, you’re not helping yourself.  Mind out of the gutter.

“God, you two are so fucking dense.  She said the exact same thing.” Wynonna rolled her eyes in exasperation.  

“She did?” Nicole’s eyes lit up with hope but for what?  She was finally on the right track again, mind fully focused on their actual conversation.  But did she honestly think that Waverly could forgive what she had done?  

“Yeah, she did, so fucking apologize or do whatever you gotta do, but just fix this .  Fucking hell.  It’s like a goddamn lover’s quarrel over here, Jesus.” Wynonna didn’t notice Nicole’s face flushing at her words as she flagged down the waitress for more shots.  Nicole declined hers, needed to process things. Waverly didn’t know if Nicole wanted to talk to her. Maybe if she did talk to her, maybe they could fix all of this, maybe it could be okay .  

“I need to go,” Nicole stood up suddenly.  The room spun only slightly, so she was fine.  Fine enough, at least.

“Not now, Haughtshit,” Wynonna rolled her eyes, yet again, but Nicole didn’t care.  

“I’m not,” she lied.

“You’re idiots,” Wynonna muttered, but she didn’t look up from the bar, not doing anything to stop Nicole from leaving the bar.  So she left, starting the walk down the street, not even noticing the rain pouring down, drenching her. After a few minutes though, the downpour sobered her up and she realized that she was planning on walking the miles to the homestead in the pouring rain.  

Now she realized just what she was doing.  When she left the bar, she hadn’t fully realized that she was heading to the homestead.  To see Waverly. To see the girl she loved , to make things right .  

She also realized now, finally, that she was walking in the pouring rain.  

* * * * * *

“This is a bad idea.”

“I know, Jeremy.”

“So why are you doing it?”

“Because… because I have to try.”

“Why can’t you try tomorrow?”

“Because tomorrow might be too late.”

“Morbid much?  Why would tomorrow be too late?”

“I might have pushed her too far this time.  If I wait another day, I don’t know if she’ll take me back…” Nicole stared out the car window, head against the cool glass.  

“She’d be an idiot.” Jeremy muttered and shook his head, driving on.  

“What?” Nicole questioned.  

“How many times have you taken her back?”

“I… I haven’t…?”  Nicole was confused.  

“Every time she yelled at you, every time she said just friends, every time she pulled away from you?  And you just took her back every time, without a question.”

“But we weren’t together, it doesn’t count.  And there were… circumstances,” Nicole tried to explain.

“I know, Nicole.  I was there. I was there the first time she broke your heart, when you ran away crying at the bar.  I was there when you saw her at the court and there for you after when it was awkward. I was there after she said just friends and you were a mess.  You told me about your drunk messages and her response. You called me crying your eyes out when she slept in your bed and then left in the morning with a note that asked you to forget everything.  I get that there were circumstances, but even so, you’ve stayed .  You’ve stayed and let her do this.  If she doesn’t take you back now… I don’t know if it would be worth it.”

“You’re wrong,” the redhead said simply.  

“Nicole…”

“No.  You’re wrong.  She’s always worth it.  She will always be worth it, Jeremy.  I love her,” she admitted.  

“I know,” he said, catching her by surprise.  

“You know?” Nicole questioned, finally turning to look at him.  If he knew, why would he say all that?

“Yeah, I know.  As long as I’ve known you you’ve been in love with her.  But it doesn’t change things, Nicole.  It doesn’t change how she pulled you around and played with your feelings.”

“She didn’t know, Jer.” Nicole pleaded with him, trying to make him understand. She loved Jeremy and she was in love with Waverly.  She just wanted him to see Waverly the way she saw her.

“Look, Nic, I get it.  But if she keeps hurting you….”

“It’s not like that.  It’s not.”

“Sure,” Jeremy didn’t look convinced, but they had arrived at the homestead at this point, so he let the conversation drop.  Kind of. “You sure this is a good idea?”

“No, but I’ve got to try.  Thank you for getting me here.”

“Nicole, you were drunk off your ass trying to walk here in the pouring rain.  At least you’re more sober now, but of course I was going to come. Do you want me to wait for you?”

“Thanks, but it’ll be fine.  I’ll manage,” Nicole offered a small smile, thanking him again before getting out of the car, making her way to the front porch, the rain still pounding to the ground around her.  Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they could get back to where they were.

* * * * * *

It had been a month, and it seemed like they were back to where they were before.  She had ended up crying in Waverly’s arms, and Waverly had comforted her, had given her what she needed at that time.  That night, she just held her in her arms, comforted her as she drunkenly cried and apologized, eventually falling asleep together on the couch.  In the morning, Waverly apologized to Nicole for yelling at her, for shutting her out, and then there was this moment when they looked at each other and suddenly none of this seemed to matter so much anymore.  Nicole loved Waverly, more than anything, and nothing could get in the way of that.

Christmas they spent apart, Nicole going to Lonnie’s for the day and Waverly spending it with Wynonna.  Afterwords, they exchanged small gifts, Nicole giving Waverly peanut butter and the book on ancient texts she’d really wanted, but hadn’t wanted to spend the money on, Waverly gifting Nicole a new basketball outfit (“Oh, is this you trying to subtly say you want to see me in this, babe?” “Maybe…”) .  

On New Year’s, they spent the night at the homestead with Wynonna, Dolls, and a man with a very large mustache going by the name ‘Doc.’  Nicole definitely noticed an awkward vibe between the three of them, mainly between the two men, but Waverly didn’t seem to notice anything, so Nicole let it slide.  But spending the night at the homestead meant that, since Wynonna still didn’t know about them, they couldn’t do the traditional midnight kiss. Wynonna and Doc kissed briefly, earning a glare from Dolls who left very shortly after.  Nicole and Doc spent the night, and Waverly and Nicole made up for their lost midnight kiss well into the night. Around three am, that New Year’s morning, Nicole found herself gathering the courage to whisper against Waverly’s lips again, steeling herself once she realized what she’d done.  

“I love you.”  Nicole murmured, causing Waverly surged forward, pressing her lips roughly against Nicole’s, pushing her down onto the bed.  “Is that okay?” Nicole smirked.

“Yes, babe.  More than okay.  It’s just I can’t right now and I’m sorry

“There’s no need to apologize, baby.  I understand. You don’t need to say anything, I don’t expect you to say anything.  I just want to be able to tell you, I love you.” Waverly smiled down at her, tears forming in her eyes.  “What is it baby? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just… I’m great.  I actually think I might believe you.”  A huge smile broke across Nicole’s face, as Waverly grasped her head in her hands, pulling her close, and kissing her again.  This one full of intensity, of passion, of love .  

By the third week of January, they were back to where they were before that night, better even.  And Nicole couldn’t be happier.  

Chapter Text

She hadn’t meant for it to happen.  

Well, she had .  But not like that .  

It had been three weeks since their New Year’s Eve date and Waverly was ready.  She felt she and Nicole were in a really good place, herself especially.  She had been going to therapy— well, not going exactly, more like typing her feelings on her computer and sending them to somebody— and weirdly enough, it actually seemed to be helping.  She had only tried it at Nicole’s urging, and she hadn’t realized how beneficial it would actually be. There was something about being able to spill her guts out to someone without having to actually see them that was nice.  And then, the response was actually believable. Maybe because it was typed out in black and white and not just said, so it felt more real to her.  Regardless of why it was working, the point is that it was working.  Little by little. And now Waverly knew she was ready to take that next step with Nicole.  

In order to get things going a bit faster, Waverly had decided to dress appropriately.  She wore the shortest shirt she could find that was still flowy and non-constricting— for, you know, access— with a thong.  She had on a see-through white top that managed to be remarkably low-cut.  The see-through aspect of the top was chosen to show off the black lace bra underneath.  Waverly accessorized with the black choker Nicole always stared at and braided her hair down and off to the side.  

She had invited Nicole over to “cuddle and watch a movie” in her bed with her, so she might have been a little overdressed for their plans, but she was thinking Nicole wouldn’t complain too much.  And, much to Waverly’s satisfaction, when Nicole did show up at the homestead, her eyes bulged out of her head.

“Hey, babe,” she whispered huskily, running a hand lightly over Nicole’s arm, hearing a small gasp in response.  Waverly smirked, knowing her plan was working well.

They did manage to make it to the bedroom, but the door was barely closed before Waverly found herself pressed against the wall, Nicole’s palms splayed on either side of Waverly’s head, body pressed up against hers.  Her lips were centimeters from Waverly’s, smirking as she heard the brunette’s breath hitch within Nicole’s proximity.

“Hey, baby.  I like your outfit,” Nicole whispered, kissing the corner of Waverly’s mouth, across her jawline, down her neck.  Waverly grasped the tight flannel at Nicole’s shoulders, trying to get more , turning her head to give Nicole more access to nibble and suck at the pulse point on her neck.  

Nicole ,” Waverly pleaded as the redhead kissed back up to her lips, finally pressing them hungrily against her own.  The brunette threaded her fingers through the short hair, tugging as Nicole slipped her tongue into Waverly’s mouth, causing her kisses to become harder, more urgent.  

“Playing dirty, baby?” Nicole whispered into her mouth.  When Waverly just smiled, tugging again at the ginger locks, Nicole slotted a thigh between her legs, swallowing the moan that escaped from Waverly’s lips.  The pressure of Nicole’s thigh against her core was delicious.  She moved her other hand up to Nicole’s hair, pulling tightly and not even trying to get a response out of her this time, just wanting more .  But her actions were eliciting a response from Nicole, who pushed her thigh harder against Waverly’s pulsing center and pulled her closer against her body with her hands grasping at her waist.  

“Nicole, please ,” Waverly ground herself down on Nicole’s strong thigh, feeling the heat building in her center, her breath coming out in short gasps.  Her thong was drenched at this point and doing nothing in terms of coverage, so she could feel the denim of Nicole's jeans rubbing against her center, making her moan in pleasure.

“Please what, baby?” Nicole’s voice was low and raspy, her eyes were dark pools, sucking yet again at the pulse point on Waverly’s neck, her hands slipping underneath the brunette’s shirt, splaying across her abdomen.  The muscles under her skin twitched against the touch, on fire where Nicole touched her.

Please,” she moaned, no other coherent thoughts able to form in her mind.  Nicole just smirked against her neck, rubbing her hands against Waverly’s abs, pushing her thigh even more firmly against her center, if that were even possible.  Waverly ground even harder, faster, needing more, more, more.  She found herself gasping yes, over and over again, against Nicole’s ear as her teeth bit into Waverly’s collarbone, her tongue soothing each bite afterwards.  The pressure kept building in her core until she finally felt the muscles in her center clench repeatedly around nothing, her hips bucking involuntarily against Nicole, a flood of wetness undoubtedly drenching Nicole’s thigh.  

When the aftershocks finally subsided, Waverly slumped against Nicole, who held her gently with lips against her temple, a hand smoothing the hair at the top of Waverly’s head.  

Oh my God,” Waverly muttered, still breathing heavily, slumped against her girlfriend, having just had an incredible orgasm.  

Oh shit.  She had just had an orgasm.  On her girlfriend.  Without meaning to.  With all their clothes on.  And now if she looked down, she would probably see a huge wet spot on Nicole’s jeans.  Shit.

“God, huh?  I’m still good with you calling me Nicole, baby, but thanks,” Nicole smirked, kissing Waverly’s temple.  

Shit.  I am so sorry, babe.  So sorry. I didn’t mean— it was just, I forgot to stop— I didn’t want to— and I just— shit, I’m sorry, I mean—” Waverly was trying to explain, but then Nicole’s lips were pressed against hers, soft and sweet.  

“It’s fine, Waverly, really.  It’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing,” Nicole winked, earning a blush from the brunette.  “Ah, baby, you just came on my thigh and now you’re blushing?”

“Nicole!” Waverly gave her a playful smack on the arm, blushing even more furiously.

“You were just saying that a couple minutes ago, but a little more breathily….”

Nicole!

“Mmhmmm, yeah, it was a bit more like that, baby, but don’t forget the moans.”  

“You’re insufferable and please, do not make another joke,” Waverly rolled her eyes.  Nicole just chuckled, grabbing Waverly’s hand and leading her over to the bed.  Waverly was ready, she wanted this, but she was still nervous.  She really, really, really liked this girl and she felt all this unspoken pressure for it to be perfect.  

“So,” Waverly sat on the bed next to a still smirking, very proud of herself Nicole (God, she was adorable).  “I don’t know how to do this, but I want to figure it out, with you.”

“Figure what out, babe?” Nicole asked, looking genuinely confused.  

“You know,” Waverly gestured to Nicole, specifically the dark spot on her thigh, “this.”

“Oh,” realization dawned on her face, “Waverly, I don’t need— I thought we were going to watch the movie on your bed, that’s why—” Nicole seemed to become panicked, so Waverly took a page out of her book and kissed her so she might shut up.  

“I want to.  If you do, I mean,” she whispered against slightly parted lips.  Nicole nodded, eyes wide, and Waverly was surprised— and slightly pleased— to see her girlfriend's confident and cocky demeanor crumbling just a bit.  

“I told you, Waves, I always want you.  But I want to make sure you’re one hundred percent ready.”  

Waverly placed her hand on Nicole’s thigh, feeling the dampness of herself on the fabric.  Apparently her thong did nothing to stop that flow.

“I’m ready, babe,” Waverly whispered, leaning forward to kiss the redhead softly.  Nicole responded with equal sweetness at first, but then suddenly Waverly’s hand was underneath her flannel, scratching lightly up and down her abdomen, and Nicole was gone.  The kiss quickly grew more heated, their tongues exploring each other’s mouths.  Waverly smiled in satisfaction against Nicole’s lips as she seemed to lose herself in their kisses, her need, her desire.  

In the flow of the moment— and Waverly knew it made sense, she knew it wasn’t Nicole’s fault, it was just how things were going— Nicole laid Waverly down on her back, and suddenly everything was different .  Nicole wasn’t moving her body against hers, someone was climbing on top of her.  Nicole wasn’t grinding her legs in between hers, someone was trapping her and holding her down. Nicole’s touch wasn’t setting her skin aflame, someone was groping her.  Waverly knew it was Nicole, she did, but with the redhead on top of her it just felt like she was back in her old room, Champ on top of her, forcing himself inside and she wanted Nicole but she couldn’t shake this feeling.

“Waverly, baby?  Waverly? I’m sorry, Waves,” Nicole was saying, and she realized that Nicole was no longer on top of her.  Waverly was laying on the bed, heart in her throat, fists balled at her sides as she tried to collect herself, to be in the moment, to be here , with Nicole.  But every time she closed her eyes…

Nicole was sitting up, having pulled herself away from Waverly.  She kept saying her name, which made Waverly think that she had been stuck in her own head for a bit of time and hadn’t noticed.  She wasn’t touching her, but she was reaching out slightly, as though she wanted to but was afraid.

“I’m so sorry, Nicole,” Waverly whispered, sitting up on the bed and wrapping her arms around her legs.  She buried her face in the crook between her knees and her torso, ashamed.

“Waves, can I touch you?  Is that okay?” Nicole asked hesitantly.  When Waverly nodded her consent, she felt the bed shift, Nicole wrapping her strong arms protectively around the brunette, kissing the top of her head gently.  “Did I do something wrong?” The redhead asked, her voice small.

“No, no.  Everything was right and good it was just…” Waverly gulped, feeling her heart begin to race, her chest constrict.  Nicole apparently felt it as she hugged Waverly tighter, rubbing circles on her back.

“Same as the first time in Nedley’s office?”  Waverly nodded. “Okay, it’s alright, I’m here.  I’ve got you, okay? Do you know what it is that triggers it?”  Right, Nicole was a cop. She knew what questions to ask.

“I think… I think it’s you being on top of me, because that’s how he was and I just feel trapped and helpless and I’m so sorry, Nicole I really want this, but I don’t know why I can’t—”

“Baby, it’s alright.  I know you said no before already, but maybe it would help a bit if you talk to someone?  You’ve been through so much and none of it is your fault, okay? But maybe talking to someone and getting strategies on how to cope will help you.  I love you, and I will be here for you, but I’ve only gotten bare necessities training on this, so I don’t always know the right thing so say.” Waverly had forgotten she hadn’t told Nicole about going to therapy yet.  She hadn’t mentioned anything in case in didn’t work out, in case Nicole just ended up being disappointed in her for not going. And, to be fair, Nicole hadn’t asked her about going since she had started up.

“I, um… I am.  Talking to someone, actually.”

“Really?”  Nicole gave a hopeful smile. “How is it going?”

“It’s… it’s good.  Yeah. It’s good. I started a couple days after our fight.  The night after you asked me to consider going again I looked it up and found the online therapy place.  It’s still a lot but just messaging the person is a lot easier for me. And I think it’s actually helping a bit.”

“Have you told them about this?”

“No,” Waverly looked down, seeming ashamed.  

“Maybe you should, Waves.  I mean, there’s nothing for you to be ashamed of.  You were taken advantage of and that is not your fault.  Maybe talking about it and getting some coping strategies will help a bit.”

“I’m not sure…”

“Promise you’ll think about it at least?”  Nicole lifted her chin so she could look at her with pleading eyes.  Waverly softened, the fear seeming to slowly fade as she looked into the comfort of Nicole’s warm brown eyes.  

“Promise,” Waverly assured her before reaching up to cradle Nicole’s cheek in her hand, brushing a thumb lightly across her cheekbone as the redhead leaned into the touch.  She placed a soft kiss to Nicole’s lips, lingering for a moment before letting her head fall back onto the ginger’s chest.

“Do you want to watch the movie, or do you want to just stay like this?”  

“I didn’t, uh, I didn’t actually have a movie picked out because I didn’t really plan on watching one today, but I can find one.”

“No need, I’ll go get one.  Do you want me to make you some tea as well?” Nicole asked, getting up to head downstairs.  Waverly could not believe how lucky she was, how patient and loving Nicole was. She nodded, but spoke up before Nicole could leave the room.

“Nicole…. I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for, Waves,” the deputy responded, and Waverly could actually see and believe that she meant it.  

“But there is and— the movie, just today, okay?” Waverly said.   Just today for the movie, then I’ll be ready.  I was ready before, too, but as long as I don’t get in my head I want this, so bad.  And I’m ready. I want you.  But that part she didn't say.  So Nicole just nodded softly, a look of slight confusion on her face, beginning her trek down the stairs.

* * * * * *

One Week Later

“Hey, baby.  Wynonna said you were out here,” Nicole strolled into the barn, a loose purple sweater hanging around her body.  Waverly looked up from where she was pacing in the corner of the barn, a notebook and pen laying discarded on the ground.  

“Oh, hey,” Waverly offered a small smile, not quite reaching her eyes.  Nicole’s smile instantly morphed into a worried frown, closing the distance between them and cupping the brunette’s face in her hands.  Waverly closed her eyes, nuzzling her cheek into the soft, strong hands.

“Are you okay?” Nicole asked, staring deep into the dulled green eyes.  

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Waverly,” she scolded lightly, concern still etched deep into her features.  

“It’s just… it’s a lot.”

“What’s a lot, darling?”  Nicole questioned. Waverly sighed, hoping Nicole realized the sigh was not directed at her.  She wrapped her hands around Nicole’s wrists, gently removing them from her face, offering an apologetic grin so she would understand it wasn’t Nicole’s fault.  She made her way across the barn, folding a leg underneath her as she sat down on overturned wooden boxes piled up on the other side of the barn.

“I’ve got homework,” Waverly sighed, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hand.

“Homework?”

“From my therapist.  She wants me write things down and I don’t… I don’t know what to say.”

“What does she want you to write?”

“She wants me to put five things that I like about myself,” Waverly’s voice was small, sounding ashamed.  

“Baby,” Nicole’s voice dripped with sadness, “I wish you could see how easy that should be for you.  How easy it would be for me to write a list about you five times that length. You’re incredible.”

“Can you help me then?” Waverly looked up hopefully.  

“No, baby.  You gotta do that on your own, and you know that.  But I will be here for you, every step of the way,” the redhead assured her.  

“I know.  It’s just… I’m exhausted.”

“Hey,” Nicole crossed the barn, sitting beside Waverly on the crates.  She pressed a light kiss to her jawline, startling Waverly out her thoughts.  “I know, baby.” She felt soft fingers pushing her long brunette locks out of the way, another kiss pressed right below her ear.  Wanting more, Waverly began to turn her head, another kiss placed against her cheek before her lips finally met Nicole’s. She brought her hands up to cup Nicole’s face, the ginger’s hands settling around her waist.  Nicole leaned in, pulling Waverly against her.

Waverly’s hands moved down Nicole’s body, finding the hem of her shirt, rubbing the material between her thumbs and forefingers.  Pulling back slightly, Waverly searched Nicole’s darkened eyes for consent, finding it in a small, eager nod. She pulled the purple sweater over her head, revealing a blue laced bra, accentuating her full breasts.  Once Waverly saw it, fully realized they were taking this next step, she pulled Nicole’s face in closer, kissing her hungrily.

Nicole’s fingers gripped the bottom of Waverly’s shirt, balling it in her fists, using it to pull the brunette closer to her.  Reluctantly, Waverly broke the kiss for a moment, allowing Nicole to pull Waverly’s shirt over her head, tossing it to the side.  Waverly felt the redhead’s lips moving against hers, teeth lightly pulling at her bottom lip. It was needy, full of desire, not too slow but not too fast, and hot as hell .  Nicole moved her body up and down, in time to their kisses, her tongue tracing along Waverly’s lips.  Waverly felt more than heard the gasps from Nicole as their kisses grew more heated, more passionate, just more .  This was it, this was the day.  It wasn’t a bed, sure, but the lighting was gorgeous and it didn’t matter where they were.  She wanted to do this with Nicole.

Shit,” Waverly heard the ginger mutter, quickly pulling away.  Before Waverly could comprehend what was happening, she felt fabric being pushed into her hands by Nicole— her shirt— and Nicole was grabbing her own, holding it over her chest.  Waverly’s situation, still wearing a cami over her bra, was less dire, so she took a minute to get a grasp on what was happening. Having just come through the doorway was a man with a mustache, almost as large as his face.  

“Why, my apologies,” he drawled, “my impression was that the barn was unoccupied.”  He tipped his hat, starting to make his way back out of the barn. But this was the guy Wynonna was hooking up with— well, more than that by the amount of time he was spending around the house.  What if he went back and told Wynonna? What if she found out before Waverly told her, before she was ready for her to know?

“Wait!” Waverly called after him, stopping him in his tracks.  He turned around as Nicole pulled her shirt back over her head.  

“I have to go,” there was a shortness in her tone and Waverly wanted to reach out, to apologize, but she needed to make sure Wynonna didn’t find out from the guy she was hooking up with before she had a chance to tell her about Nicole herself.  So she watched as Nicole tensely walked out of the barn, turning briefly to tell Waverly to call her later.

“Hi— um,” Waverly started once Nicole had left, completely blanking on his name.

“Doc,” the mustached man replied, not unkindly.  

“Hi, Doc.  I’m sorry I didn’t— I mean, Wynonna doesn’t really—”

“It’s quite alright, Waverly.  Is there something you wished to speak to me about?” Doc questioned.  He spoke so politely, but Waverly felt guilt wash over her as she realized that he remembered her name.  

“Yeah, um— yes.  It’s just, Wynonna, she doesn’t— do you mind not mentioning this to her?  Just because I haven’t yet and I— I’m going to, I just haven’t—”

“I understand, Waverly.  I did not think it my place to speak upon this matter, regardless.”

“Thank you,” Waverly told him as he tipped his hat and exited the barn.  She was left alone, thinking about how close they had been yet again. She knew she should be thinking about when— and how— she should tell Wynonna about them, but that was not as fun a topic to be thinking about.  So instead, Waverly thought about when she would call Nicole, and maybe what they would do the next time she saw her….

* * * * * *

One Week Later

They were on Waverly’s bed again, talking.  Though Waverly wasn’t paying much attention to what they were talking about exactly.  She was too busy watching the way Nicole’s lips formed the words, the way her tongue would dart out to wet the plump, pink flesh every now and then.  She wondered what else that tongue could do…

“Waverly?” Nicole jerked the brunette out of her thoughts.

“Sorry?” Waverly questioned, flushing slightly in embarrassment.  

“You just seemed a little distracted,” the redhead smiled knowingly.  

“No, no.  I— I’m fine.”

“Really?”  Nicole smirked, leaning forward to bring her lips close to Waverly’s.  Waverly felt her breathing quicken and her mouth dry in anticipation, waiting for Nicole to close the rest of the distance between their lips.  “But if you’re fine…” Nicole pulled away, leaning back on her hands, body suddenly angled away from Waverly.

“Nicole….” Waverly groaned.  

“Yes, baby?”  Her eyes widened in faux innocence. But Waverly had decided to take things into her own hands.  As she leaned towards Nicole, the ginger’s body seemed to be pulled towards hers like a magnet, leaning forward in kind.  

Nicole was gorgeous.  There she was, sitting on her bed, in a tight t-shirt and seemingly painted on jeans, her clothes hugging her in all the right places.  Her bright red waves framed her face, falling to just above her shoulders.  Nicole’s cheeks were flushed, her full lips open slightly as her warm brown eyes flickered between Waverly’s lips and her green ones.  Spellbound, Waverly lifted a hand to Nicole’s lips, tracing a finger lightly over the full, parted lips, feeling the hot breath tickle her finger.  Staring into Waverly’s eyes now, the brunette felt a tongue dart out and caress her finger lightly. Nicole seemed to study Waverly’s reaction— her sharp intake of breath, the inevitable darkening of her eyes, the pull of her teeth against her bottom lip.  Smirking slightly, Nicole wrapped her lips around the finger Waverly had been tracing over her lips, pulling it gently into the moist cavity. The younger girl felt the warmth and softness of Nicole’s mouth envelope her finger as she began sucking it in and out, her tongue lavishing the tip.  

Desire seemed to flood her center as Nicole stared into her eyes with darkened pupils, cheeks hollowing as she sucked Waverly’s finger.  Then, with a soft pop , her finger was released and she sat there, unable to do anything but stare, breath heavily, and fall victim to the familiar ache in her core that always seemed to present itself whenever Nicole was in proximity.  It took a moment of Nicole’s eyes boring into her own, challenging her to make the first move before Waverly leaned forward quickly, grabbing either side of Nicole’s face, and pulling her in roughly.

The kiss was messy— full of desire, of need.  Teeth were clashed and lips were missed and before she knew it, Waverly found herself pushing Nicole down on the bed with a hunger she didn’t know she was capable of, lips still smashing against Nicole’s, hand trailing down the ginger’s neck, rubbing against the top of her chest.  Her tongue slipped inside the warm, wet mouth, dancing against Nicole’s. The kiss was pure hunger, desire, need.

“Nicole, can we—” Waverly started to ask in a breathless moan against the deputy’s lips when suddenly Nicole was sitting upright, moving Waverly gently but quickly off of her.  “Did I—?” Waverly’s brow furrowed in concern.

“No, there’s just someone coming up the— Hey, Wynonna,” Nicole cut off her explanation with a singsong tone as suddenly the very frazzled brunette threw open Waverly’s bedroom door, staring at the two.  Waverly remembered the last time they had been in a very similar position, and though she much preferred the implications of this scenario, it was nerve wracking nonetheless. Would Wynonna guess before she even had a chance to tell her?   Did Wynonna even want to know?  But more importantly, why was she even here?

“Haughtshit,” Wynonna nodded an acknowledgement towards the deputy, apparently not noticing how close Nicole was to her sister on the bed, or the fact that the ginger’s hand, hidden behind Waverly, was pressed gently against the small of her back, underneath the fabric of the shirt, sending tingles up and down Waverly’s spine.

“I thought you were going out with Doc?  Also, what do you want?” Waverly asked shortly, more than a bit annoyed with her sister’s untimely interruption.  

“Doc?” Nicole questioned lightly.

“Walking mustache,” Waverly replied.  Nicole nodded in recognition before Waverly turned back to her sister expectantly, waiting for an answer.  

“Dickhead cancelled on me.  Apparently he has better things to do than this,” she motioned to her own body, “but I highly doubt it.  And I was looking for… a light bulb.”

“A light bulb?” Waverly questioned dubiously.  

“Yup,” came the affirmation, an obvious lie.  

“How many times do I need to tell you, I’m fine .  You don’t need to check up on me,” Waverly tried to say, but the last word ended up coming out as a squeak when Nicole’s cool fingers tipped below Waverly’s waistband, drawing soft figures across the top of her ass.  The younger brunette stole a side glance at her girlfriend, but Nicole was seemingly unfazed, giving her full attention to the sister in the doorway.

Yet again, Wynonna appeared to be oblivious.  

“Well, I have to head off to work anyways,” Nicole moved her hand, fingers trailing up Waverly’s spine lightly before leaving her skin completely, sending a shiver up the brunette’s back.  “I’ll see you later?”

“That works,” Wynonna said, “I need to talk to Waverly anyways about a guest who might start living in the barn.”

“Wynonna!” Waverly scolded before noticing that Nicole had left her side and was starting to walk towards the door.  “Do you have to go?”

“Yeah, but I’ll text you later,” Nicole reassured her.  Waverly knew she didn’t want to say too much, especially with Wynonna still standing in the doorway.   With a smile in Waverly’s direction, she squeezed past Wynonna, heading down the stairs.

“Alright, Wynonna, what did you do?”

“Oh, it’s just Doc.  He’s going to be staying here for a bit.  In the barn, you know,” Wynonna explained dismissively.  She waited until she heard the sound of the door closing, signaling Nicole’s exit of the homestead, before continuing.  “Oof, babygirl, she wants in your pants.”

What?!” Waverly’s eyes widened in shock.   Did she know?  Was she not as oblivious as Waverly had thought?  Had Doc said something?

“Yeah, I don’t know if you want to nip this in the bud, though at this point it looks like a full grown gay-ass flower.  But yeah, she doesn’t want a home-cooked meal, she wants to eat out.”

Wynonna!”

“You.  Was that not clear?  She wants to eat you out.”

“Oh my god, Wynonna, stop it!”

“Just saying.”

“And I’m really not sure you’re right…” Waverly sighed, thankfully Wynonna seemed to miss the bitterness of her tone.  She had been trying to get Nicole into her pants for weeks now… maybe she just didn’t want to.  

“I’m definitely right, baby girl.”

“Wynonna… there’s something I need—”

“Does she even know you’ve been dating some guy?  Who I really need to meet eventually, Waves. It’s been months.”

“Yeah… um, maybe another time,” Waverly looked down at her lap.  She almost had the courage… but maybe another day. Just not today.  

“Alright, well, do something about Haughtpants there because that poor girl…”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Waverly reassured her, knowing her sister had no idea they were talking about two completely different topics.  

* * * * * *

One Week Later (Valentine’s Day)

“Happy Valentine’s day, baby,” Nicole smiled against Waverly’s lips.  They had had the perfect night. Waverly had made Nicole a fabulous (if she did say so herself) five course meal, only the best for her best baby.  She did, however, make sure it was light enough, ending the meal with a fresh fruit sorbet, so that if they wanted to take things further tonight, bloatedness would not be an issue...  Now the two were sitting on Nicole’s couch in her apartment, drinking wine, and kissing softly.

“Happy Valentine’s day,” Waverly smiled back, running her hand around the back of Nicole’s neck, gently pulling her closer.  But then Waverly started to feel Nicole pulling away from her. She groaned in disappointment from the lack of Nicole’s lips against hers.  

“Just a second, baby.  I have something for you,” Nicole winked, walking over the end table at the other side of the room.  While Waverly missed her presence, it allowed her to appreciate the view. Nicole was wearing a fitted long, grey sweater with three-quarter length sleeves.  It fell to her very toned thighs, where she was wearing Waverly’s favorite tight black pants and black dress up combat boots. Waverly leaned back, allowing her eyes to roam up and down slowly, especially as Nicole bent over, rummaging through the drawer, her sweater riding up to reveal her shapely ass.

“Mmmm is this it, babe?  Because I’m definitely liking it,” Waverly licked her lips, raising an eyebrow suggestively at Nicole as the redhead turned around, a small box in her hands, blushing a bit.  

“No, it’s uh… well, ironically, I hope it doesn’t make you upset,” Nicole’s blushed deepened, looking down and not meeting Waverly’s eyes while handing her the box.  Feeling a bit of nervousness welling up inside her, the brunette took it tentatively from Nicole’s hands. After opening it, she just stared for a moment, confused, before she finally realized what the gift meant.  It was a key; a key to Nicole’s apartment.

“I just thought, you always say I’m always welcome over at the homestead and you guys never the lock the doors there, so I wanted you to know you’re welcome here whenever as well, if I’m here or not, because I want you to feel like you have a place here too and that you’re not just a regular guest in my home, that you’re special and—” Nicole was frantically trying to explain her reasoning as Waverly stared at the key, mouth agape and heart swelling.  

“Nicole,” the brunette cut her off, gently placing the box down on the coffee table in front of the couch.  She reached over to Nicole, tucking a bright red strand of hair behind her ear before lifting her chin gently to look her in the eyes.  “I love it,” she whispered, knowing, deep down, there was so much more meaning to those words, more than just about a key, but not yet ready to admit it, even to herself.  

Instead, she leaned forward, gently placing her lips against Nicole’s, leaving a soft kiss.  As she pulled away, the deputy’s lips chased hers, giving a second gentle press of lips against her own.  They exchanged these soft kisses, back and forth, until eventually they became more heated, full of a different kind of desire and need than Waverly had experienced before.  Did Nicole know the meaning behind those three words? What she really wanted to say, but wasn’t ready to expose— even to her own consciousness— just yet?

None of that mattered right now, though.  No, what mattered was Nicole, her hands pulling her closer to her body, needing more.  Without breaking the kiss, Waverly shifted to straddle Nicole, her tight skirt bunching around her thighs.  She felt one of Nicole’s hands make its way to her back, underneath her shirt, pulling Waverly closer against her body.  The other hand was holding her thigh, high up where her skirt had ridden up, causing desire to course through Waverly’s body, soft moans escaping from the back of her throat as she moved against Nicole.  Needing more, Waverly found the bottom of Nicole’s sweater, pulling up gently until Nicole lifted her arms, allowing for the sweater to be taken off and thrown aside.

Waverly had only a moment to stare at the full breasts, spilling over the tops of black cups before Nicole’s lips were pressed against hers yet again, the redhead’s tongue massaging her own, hands trailing up underneath her shirt to pull her forward.  Nicole’s hands were at her sides, just underneath her bra, and if only she could move them a little farther up…

The brunette pulled away from Nicole briefly, though the deputy’s lips chased her own again, not wanting the kisses to end.  Waverly pulled her shirt over her head in one fluid motion, revealing a very sexy purple lace bra— her favorite— and she watched as Nicole stared at her breasts, her hands now moving across her rib cage, just underneath the bra.  Waverly closed her eyes and uttered a shaky moan at the almost pleasure before crashing forward again, swallowing Nicole’s own moans as she twisted her fingers through the red locks.

Waverly let her hands move down from Nicole’s hair to her front, rubbing along her collarbone and hesitating to move any farther down.

Yes,” Nicole breathed, sensing her hesitation, giving Waverly her consent to do as she pleased.  The brunette’s finger tips trailed down, running through the valley between Nicole’s breasts, feeling the shiver her touch sent through her body.  She ran her thumbs across the center of each cup, feeling pebbled nipples stretching through the fabric.

“Please,” Waverly whimpered against Nicole’s mouth.  They were both breathing heavier than normal at this point, no longer kissing, their mouths just pressed against each other, breathing the other in.  Nicole’s breath caught and she nodded slightly, grabbing Waverly’s breasts in her hands, beginning to squeeze and knead gently. Waverly’s body arched against the movement as she rubbed Nicole’s nipples between a thumb and finger through the fabric of her bra.  She felt a flood of wetness soaking her panties as her hips rolled against Nicole’s center, stealing more kisses between breaths.

“Baby… we should…” Nicole started, but Waverly pressed her lips against hers.  The younger woman wrapped her arms around Nicole, toying with the clasp of her bra.  

“We should what?” Waverly muttered against Nicole’s skin, her lips trailing along Nicole’s strong jawline, down her neck, fingers poised to unhook the bra as soon as she was given the okay.  

“We should get more wine,” Nicole said quickly, clearing her throat.  Waverly sat up in slight confusion, unintentionally allowing Nicole enough time to swiftly pick her up and place her next to her on the couch, getting up and making her way to the kitchen, sans shirt still.  She walked away quickly, not looking back at Waverly.

Waverly watched as Nicole leaned against the counter for a moment, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.  She grabbed the wine from the fridge, plastering a smile on her face on the way back. Nicole picked up their shirts from where they lay discarded on the floor, pulling her sweater over her head and handing the other to Waverly, who looked at it with disappointment.

The redhead sat on the other end of the couch, flipping on the television and mentioning something about movies.  But Waverly, slipping her shirt back on, couldn’t help but replay in her head what had just happened. Did Nicole not want her?  Is that why she had stopped it? Or was she just not ready? Did Waverly misread all the signs? They were going to do it a month ago, what was the difference now?  She had been trying— she had told Nicole she was ready, but still, whenever the two weren’t interrupted, Nicole was stopping things.

Waverly leaned back against the couch, feeling the distance between her and Nicole, sighing dejectedly.  She saw Nicole glance at her out of the corner of her eye, but neither said a thing. If Nicole wasn’t ready, that was fine, but Waverly had a feeling that something else was going on here.  And if Nicole wasn’t going to say anything, then Waverly would have to find another way to convince her that this was something they should do…

Chapter Text

Fuck , baby,” Nicole moaned, head thrown back on the pillow.   The brunette twisted her nipples gently between her thumb and forefinger as she nibbled along the expanse of the redhead’s throat.  Waverly then kissed down her stomach, up her inner thigh, around the swollen, wet lips of where she needed the brunette the most.

Please ,” Nicole begged, her hips rocking involuntarily, searching for any kind of friction Waverly was willing to offer.  

“Not so cocky now, huh?” Waverly questioned, a devious gleam in her eyes.  Nicole just groaned, electricity shooting down to her core at the sight of Waverly’s smirk between her thighs.  

“Bab— oh ,” Nicole’s pleas were cut off by a sudden swipe of Waverly’s tongue up her slit, the brunette’s lips sucking her clit into her mouth, flicking it with her tongue and oh god did that feel good .  

Nicole felt a tightness twisting in her stomach, her breathing becoming more hurried, her hips bucking more frantically against Waverly’s mouth, and she was almost there…

And then she was staring up at her ceiling, Waverly was not between her thighs, her boxers were soaked from the extremely sexy dream she had just been having, and Nicole was still very, very frustrated.  

What she wouldn’t give to have that dream become a reality.  Or, even better, be the one between Waverly’s thighs, licking and sucking and thrusting until she was screaming for her.  But Nicole knew Waverly wasn’t ready yet… she just had to wait until she finally told her that she was. Nicole knew that she would wait as long as necessary for her girlfriend to feel comfortable going that far with her, which is why she kept stopping things.  Whenever they started to get really heated, whenever Nicole found herself just wanting to rip off all of Waverly’s clothes and take her right there, making her feel absolutely incredible, she walked away. She would never want to go too far, especially if Waverly wasn’t completely up for it.  

She had told Waverly this already, but one thing Nicole Haught refused to be was a regret.  And while she knew how Waverly felt about her, she didn’t want those feelings to convince her to do something she might not be completely ready for.  She wanted to make sure this was what Waverly wanted, not just what she thought she had to do to keep Nicole.  She wanted Waverly to know she wasn’t just in this for the sex, that she didn’t have to put out just to keep her entertained.  As it was, they had been together for a couple months and hadn’t done anything yet, so she hoped Waverly was beginning to understand that she would wait until she was absolutely one hundred percent ready.  And until that time, Nicole would go without sex.

Or, at the very least, try to take care of herself.  

Slipping a hand under the waistband of her boxers, Nicole’s fingers traced her wet slit, sending a shiver down her spine.   She parted the folds, rubbing up and down her center before drawing lazy circles around her clit. Nicole closed her eyes, putting her mind back to where it was in the dream, imagining it was Waverly between her thighs rather than just her hand.  Soon enough, she felt the pressure building inside her again, imaging Waverly’s head moving against her center as she rubbed tighter, faster, harder.

Waves ,” Nicole moaned aloud, her breathing quickly becoming more rapid.  She imagined moving down her girlfriend’s body, tasting her, hearing her moans as she would flick the tight bundle of nerves, as she would thrust her fingers inside her, feeling her tight warmth enveloping her, clenching around her digits.  

The thoughts and images sent Nicole over the edge as she moaned her girlfriend’s name into the empty bedroom, feeling all the muscles in her body tighten and then slacken, riding out the aftershocks of her orgasm.  It wasn’t the best she’d had by any means, but it was enough to release the tension that had been building in her body. She lay there for a moment, regulating her breathing, a bit of unsatisfied tension resting in the pit of her stomach; it wasn’t as bad as it had been before, though.  

Getting up from her bed, Nicole threw on her robe to shield herself from the frigid air.  It hung open, revealing the boxers and sports bra she was wearing, swirling around her ankles as she left her bedroom and her bare feet padded down the hall.  

“Calamity?” Nicole called, wondering where the ginger cat was hiding.  Usually when she opened her bedroom door in the morning, Calamity Jane would jump up from wherever she was sleeping in the living room or kitchen to greet Nicole, rubbing against her legs and meowing for food.  

Calamity? ” Nicole called again, a note of panic evident in her voice, hurrying down the hall a bit faster, her heart sinking down to the pit of her stomach.  She didn’t want to think about why Calamity wasn’t responding like she normally would. Nicole checked the kitchen quickly first, not finding her there, before turning to the living room.  She let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding when she saw her ginger cat curled up, safe and sound, on Waverly’s lap as she stroked the orange fur.

Wait… Waverly?

“Morning, babe!” She looked up cheerily from her spot on the couch, grinning so widely the corners of her eyes crinkled, just another thing Waverly did that Nicole could never seem to tire of.  

“Waverly!” Nicole said excitedly, happy to see her girlfriend in her living room.  It was indeed a pleasant surprise and it meant that Waverly was comfortable using the key she had given her a few days prior.  Until, that is, she realized that Calamity seemed oddly comfortable, as though Waverly had already been there for a bit. And if she had already been there for a bit, that meant she could have… heard things.  

“So, um, Waverly… how long have you been here exactly?  Not that I mind, this is a great way to wake up, with you here, but I’m just wondering, you know, about how long.  Just so I know if I kept you waiting and stuff,” Nicole rambled, her face turning a bright red.

“Well, babe, I’m assuming you just woke up, so how could you have kept me waiting if you just woke up?  That’s not something you can control. It’s not like you were doing… something else,” Waverly stated simply, a knowing smirk playing across her lips, a playfully challenging look in her eye.

Well, shit .  So Waverly knew and apparently had heard.  Nicole’s eyes went wide as she swallowed the lump in her throat.  Should she mention it as though it weren’t that big of a deal? Should she explain herself?  Should she pretend as though nothing at all had happened?

“So… uh… do you want breakfast?” Nicole asked, deciding to go with the tactic of pretending as though nothing had happened, just on the off-chance that Waverly actually had no idea what Nicole was doing and the redhead was reading way too much into things.  

“I actually brought you breakfast; that’s why I’m here,” Waverly smiled at her, gesturing to the muffins and coffees Nicole hadn’t previously noticed on the coffee table.  

“Did you get me a blueberry muffin from Clootie’s?” Nicole’s face lit up, forgetting all her previous embarrassment.  

“Only the best for my best baby!  I also wanted to know if you wanted to come over for dinner tonight at the homestead.”

“Of course, Waves, you know I love spending time with you,” Nicole said dismissively, tearing into the blueberry muffin with glee.  

“And Wynonna.”

“Huh?” Nicole stopped mid-bite, narrowing her eyes at Waverly as though sizing her up.  “Are you… did you…?”

“No, not yet.  But I was thinking… maybe soon?  I just want her to know you first, just in case.  I don’t know,” Waverly bit her bottom lip.

“I mean, she already knows me from the station and seeing me around the homestead, but if it would make you feel better, sure, I’d love to,” Nicole shrugged, trying to let Waverly know it wasn’t that big of a deal.  

“I know you know her from the station but I want her to know you as my Nicole, you know?  But she’s not going to know yet… it’s complicated, I know, and I’m sorry.  I just want her to really, really be sure she likes you before she finds out, you know?”

“I don’t think you’re going to have the problem you think you’re going to have when you decide to tell her, baby, but there’s no need to explain.  Of course I’d love to come.”

“So you’d do that for me?”  Waverly stared up hopefully at the ginger.  

“I’d do a lot of things to you,” she replied.  

“F-for me?”  Waverly looked a little taken aback, but amused at the slip-up nonetheless.

“Yeah, that too,” Nicole blushed.   Shit Nicole.  Keep it in your pants.   She and Waverly went back to eating their breakfast together, the whole time Nicole unable to keep the images from her dream from earlier out of her mind, along with Waverly’s knowing smirk.  

Damn, was she in for it.  

Chapter Text

Waverly had heard everything .  

She stopped by in the morning to bring Nicole a surprise breakfast.  Nicole had told her that she was welcome over at any time, day or night, no matter what.  No need to knock, to even see if Nicole was home. Just use the key, come on in.

So that was exactly what Waverly had done.  

When Waverly arrived, it was a little bit earlier than she knew Nicole would normally get up.  Not wanting to startle her too terribly, Waverly placed the muffins and beverages on the coffee table, deciding to wait her time out on the couch.  Only a few seconds after sitting down, Calamity Jane hopped up into her lap, purring contently.

It took a moment for Waverly to figure out what exactly she was hearing.  She realized the sounds were coming from Nicole’s bedroom… and likely from Nicole.  She was just about to get up to go check on her, to see if Nicole was alright, when she figured out what exactly the sounds were.  

They were moans.  

Sexual moans.  

Waverly debated for a moment going in there, offering to help Nicole out a bit (maybe then Nicole would finally go through with having sex with her), but then she heard her name… Nicole didn’t know she was there, did she?  She couldn’t… so that must mean Nicole was thinking about her when trying to get herself off. Waverly already suspected that Nicole did want her and there was some other reason for her continually stopping their heavier makeout sessions, but this just seemed to prove it.  Nicole was obviously sexually frustrated and thinking about Waverly as she attempted to remedy that.

So when Nicole came out of her bedroom finally, bright red with embarrassment and trying to pretend as though nothing had happened, a plan was forming in Waverly’s head. If Nicole’s reluctance really had nothing to do with her not wanting to go to the next step and was really just about something else as Waverly suspected, then Waverly was going to get Nicole to fuck her.  That night, goddammit.

With the plan in mind, Waverly asked Nicole to have dinner with her and Wynonna that night at the homestead; now all she had to do was get Wynonna to agree as well.

“Please?” Waverly pleaded with her older sister who crossed her arms and glared at the shorter girl in response.  

“Why do I have to meet her?  I already see her at work. I’ve met her.”

“I know, but you really haven’t spent time with her outside of work.  And you’re both really important to me, so I just want you guys to get to know each other a bit.  Please?”

“Ugh,” Wynonna rolled her eyes, “ Fine .  But I’m inviting Dolls and Doc, too.”

“Why Dolls?” Waverly questioned, knowing how Nicole felt about the man.  Doc, she understood. He was now living in their barn and apparently he and Wynonna were a thing/not-thing. It was confusing to say the least, but nonetheless it would make sense that he would be there.  Hopefully, though, he wouldn’t say anything to Wynonna until Waverly told her about her and Nicole first.

“It would be funny,” Wynonna shrugged, letting Waverly know that was all the explanation she would receive, “And also, I’m drinking.”

“Wynonna, you’re drinking now,” Waverly deadpanned.  

“What?  This is coffee,” Wynonna held up the cup, pretending to be shocked and hurt by the accusation.  Waverly just rolled her eyes. “See you tonight, babygirl,” Wynonna winked as she turned away, walking off.

* * * * * *

The night seemed to approach way too slowly for Waverly, but eventually it did arrive.  Storm clouds were gathering on the horizon as the sun dipped below the tree line, but thankfully everyone had made it to the homestead before a drop hit the ground.  Even Nicole, the last to arrive, who was just pulling into the drive, made it before any of the storm hit.

There seemed to be a bit of tension between Dolls, Doc, and Wynonna, none of them really talking much to one another.  Well, Wynonna tried at least, but the conversations she had with each of them were jilted and awkward sounding. Needless to say, the four of them were grateful when Nicole knocked on the door, interrupting the awkwardness of the evening, if only for a moment.  

“Hey, Nicole!” Waverly beamed at her girlfriend, standing stiffly in the doorway, a bottle of Jim Beam Black Label Whiskey in her hands.  

“Haughtshit! Is that for me?” Wynonna pushed past Waverly, bumping her out of the way with her shoulder and making a grab for the bottle of whiskey.  “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to get on my good side.” Wynonna stared at the bottle appreciatively, not seeming to notice how Nicole’s eyes had gone wide at the implications in her statement.  “Ah, but you’re just trying to get in on our cases, aren’t you?” Waverly breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that Doc didn’t seem to have mentioned anything yet and Wynonna still didn’t know. The brunette did notice, however, an odd look between Doc and Dolls at Wynonna’s statement.  She knew Doc had known about them, obviously, but Dolls…? No, he couldn’t know. They were careful. Very careful. There was no way he could possibly know about them.

So Waverly put it out of her mind, grabbing Nicole’s hand to drag her to the kitchen, away from the three in the dining room, already sitting around the table, so that she could help Waverly finish up their dinner of homemade lasagna.  

Dinner was the first part of Waverly’s plan, mainly because it was an excuse to get Nicole to start drinking.  She also did want Wynonna to get to know Nicole a little better outside of work. She knew she was ready to take this next step with Nicole with or without her sister’s approval, but seeing them get along would be an added benefit.  Somewhat surprisingly, they did seem to get along pretty well, bantering back and forth goodnaturedly throughout the dinner.

Other than that, Waverly found the conversations boring.  Mainly they discussed things going on in town, safety issues and what-not.  Not everyone at the table was familiar with each other, or even liked one another, so the topics were broad and the conversation did not flow too naturally, often seeming stilted and forced.  So, obviously, Waverly had to find her own source of entertainment.

Waverly and Nicole were seated next to each other on the side of the table against the wall.  Doc sat at the head of the table next to Wynonna, who was across from Nicole and Waverly with Dolls, so it was very easy for Waverly to make her move without being noticed.  Underneath the table, she intertwined her fingers with Nicole’s. After a moment, she slowly led the deputy’s fingers up her thigh, underneath her skirt. Nicole sputtered, managing to cover it up with a cough as her face turned bright red when Waverly left her hand against the apex of her thighs, sure Nicole would be able to feel the warmth and wetness of her center through her panties.  

Waverly moved her hands back above the table, smirking in satisfaction as Nicole seemed to regain her composure, but still left her hand on Waverly’s thigh, her fingers resting against her center.  The brunette’s smirk quickly disappeared, however, when Nicole began to move her thumb in circles against her thigh, causing her pinky to shift slightly against the thin material of her thong. Nicole continued on in the conversation with the other three; Waverly wasn’t even sure what they were talking about anymore, she was too focused on needing more .  She was beginning to second guess her plan; she wanted to make Nicole desperate for her— this part of the plan seemed to just be increasing her own desire, which Waverly was certain she had enough of already.  

“Waverly?  You in there?  Earth to Waverly,” Wynonna’s voice cut through her thoughts, bringing her back into reality.  Waverly blinked a couple times, trying to reemerge from her lust filled state, looking around at the concerned faces staring at her.  Well except for Nicole, who had more of a knowing smirk than anything else. Her fingers were still pressed up against her center and Waverly was dripping .  It was taking everything she had not to grind against Nicole’s fingers, yearning for any sort of pressure or friction.  

“Sorry,” Waverly cleared her throat, “Spaced out there for a second.  Ummm…. If you guys are all done, Nicole and I will go do the dishes,” she offered.  Waverly stood up quickly, not waiting for an answer, gathering as many plates in her hands as she could and heading towards the kitchen.  When she saw that Nicole had not gotten up, likely having not been given enough time to register what Waverly wanted her to do, the brunette turned to her, jerking her head towards the kitchen in a motion for Nicole to follow her there.  

Waverly placed her dishes in the sink as Nicole entered the kitchen, arms filled with what looked to be the rest that Waverly had left on the table.  

“Baby,” the ginger whispered, a look of regret suddenly on her face, confusing Waverly.  What had gone through Nicole’s head in the few seconds between the table and the kitchen to cause this change in her?  “You know I like you, right? No matter what. We don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for if you don’t w—”

“Oh my god, Nicole, just please kiss me,” Waverly said, a little more exasperatedly than she had intended.  She finally understood, or at least thought she understood, what this was about. Nicole was being noble again.  Even though Waverly was literally telling Nicole that she wanted her, still somehow she seemed to be getting it in her head that Waverly wasn’t ready.  Maybe Waverly’s plan would work after all: get Nicole to drink just enough so that she can convince her not to drive home and to spend the night instead (which, knowing how Nicole hated to drive even after one glass of wine when in less than ideal weather should be an easy feat), not enough to cloud her judgment though, then somehow get her to understand that she was ready, that she wanted this— that she wanted Nicole .

“But Wynonna—” The ginger started, but Waverly cut her off.

“Wynonna is still in the other room, but there’s more of a chance of her walking in the longer it takes for you to kiss me,” she reasoned.  “Now please, if you want to, I really need you to kiss me now.”

Nicole apparently did not need to be told twice.  She pushed Waverly up against the fridge, the smaller girl’s head between her hands, kissing her fiercely, roughly, passionately.  Waverly moaned softly into Nicole’s mouth, trying not to be too loud lest the three in the other room hear. Waverly wasn’t too worried, however, as the storm now raging outside seemed to reverberate deafeningly in the walls of the homestead.  She pulled Nicole closer to her, wanting to feel every inch of her body against her, needing her.  These past few months had been torture… ever since she first met Nicole Haught she knew she wanted to get into her pants, even before she realized she wasn’t straight.  Along the way, she found herself enamoured by what a kind, selfless, wonderful soul Nicole was, but one thing hadn’t changed: Waverly still wanted to get in her pants.

Waverly apparently did not have the same kind of self-control that her girlfriend did, because if she had it her way, they would have done it over a month ago already, and preferably every day since.  And, if what happened next had not occurred and if Nicole, for whatever reason, had lost her sense of self-control for a moment, then Waverly would have no doubt had sex with Nicole right there, in the middle of the kitchen, her sister in the other room, free to come in whenever.  

But alas, it did happen, and Nicole did have self-control.

Waverly was sliding her tongue against Nicole’s lips, begging for access, when a gruff clearing of a throat broke the two apart quickly, Waverly’s heart stopping in her chest.  Dolls stood in the doorway to the kitchen, one eyebrow raised, holding the dirty lasagna pan that the two had apparently forgotten in their rush to collect all the dishes. Waverly started to stammer, trying to think of something to say— anything— while Nicole stared down at her feet, face bright red.  

“Relax, Waverly, I already knew, and I’m guessing Wynonna is not aware of this situation still, so I will not tell her.  Just try to tell her soon, before someone else does or something like this happens.” Dolls said sternly, placing the dirty pan in the sink.  

“How did you—” Waverly started to ask, unsure of how she would word the question.  

“I have eyes,” the man stated simply, walking back out of the kitchen, leaving an embarrassed Waverly and Nicole who immediately turned to the sink, beginning to wash the dishes together.  

* * * * * *

After a bit, Dolls decided to leave and Doc retired to the barn.  Wynonna said her usual gruff goodnight and walked down the hallway to where her bedroom was on the first floor.  Normally, she would stay up until all hours of the night, but she said ‘interacting with humans’ had drained her and she needed to ‘recharge the good ol’ batteries’ before she could handle people again.  

So Waverly grabbed two wine glasses, pouring healthy portions for both her and Nicole.  Just enough to be able to convince Nicole she should stay the night, and for Waverly, maybe just enough to lower her inhibitions enough to ask for what she wanted.  But first, maybe they could chat for a little bit. Waverly loved hearing Nicole talk about herself, but she realized it was something Nicole didn’t do enough. Sitting on the couch together by the fire, a storm raging outside, seemed like the perfect time for that.  

Waverly lay against Nicole, snuggled up into her side, when a question popped into her head.  Trailing her fingers lightly along the deputy’s exposed forearm, watching the goosebumps raise wherever her fingers touched, Waverly thought about the question for a moment, turning it over in her mind.  

“Nicole?”

“Yes, baby,” she breathed in response, eyes fluttering with every pass of her girlfriend’s fingertips.  

“Can I ask you something?’

“Anything, baby…”

Chapter Text

“Anything, baby,” Nicole said, leaning back against the couch, reveling in the feel of Waverly’s fingers tracing her skin.  

“I was wondering… could you tell me about your family?” The brunette asked, her voice growing small.  Nicole felt herself tense up immediately. She took a swig of her wine, not answering immediately, trying to figure out exactly what to say.  

“There’s not much to talk about, Waves,” she finally responded, not meaning to brush Waverly off, but that’s exactly how she felt.  What could she even say?

“Nicole,” Waverly stopped the movements of her fingers against the ginger’s skin, wrapping her hand gently around Nicole’s arm, anchoring her and calming her.  “I suck at communication. I know that. But I’m trying. And whenever I bring up your family or ask about them, you shut down or brush me off or change the subject.  If you’re not ready to talk about it yet, it’s fine, I just… I want to know everything about you, Nic. Everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So I want you to know that when you’re ready, I’ll be here.  Ready to listen. I know sometimes I don’t go out of my way and ask enough, but I do want to know everything, I promise,” Waverly assured her.

“Waves…” Nicole sighed, trying to get her mind in order.  

“I’m sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have asked.  I can tell it’s a tough subject just forget about it—”

“No, baby,” the redhead shushed her, “it’s fine.  You’re right. I brush you off whenever you try to ask and I shouldn’t be doing that.  You’re my girlfriend, you deserve to know, and—”

“Nicole, it’s not that I deserve to know.  You don’t owe me anything.” The brunette turned slightly in Nicole’s lap, staring up with wide, worried eyes.  

“Baby, you didn’t let me finish,” she offered a small smile in response, “I want to tell you.”

“You do?”  Waverly looked up hopefully.   

“Of course, Waves.  I want to share everything with you.  The good, the bad, and the ugly,” the redhead smiled, repeating Waverly’s words back to her.  “It’s just this… it gets a little hard. But I want to tell you, just give me a minute.” Nicole took a deep breath and another swig of her wine, trying to clear her mind.  

“Whatever you need, babe,” Waverly curled up with her head against Nicole’s chest, wrapping her arm tightly around the redhead.  Nicole dragged her fingers up and down Waverly’s spine, reveling in the feel of her girlfriend against her, in the comfort she provided.  

“Ok,” Nicole started, trying to figure out what to say, how to say it.  “Now, I know it wasn’t that bad, you know, comparatively. It really wasn't.  It was hard for me, but you know, other people—” you “—had it so much worse than I did.  My childhood was really great, actually.  There were just some things that bothered me about it.”  Nicole tried to preemptively defend herself, feeling guilty about how much her childhood actually effected her, knowing how much worse her girlfriend’s childhood was.

“Babe,” Waverly squeezed her more tightly, “don’t do that.  Don’t diminish your feelings just because you think other people had it worse.  Your feelings matter and you’re valid.”

“Did you learn that in therapy?” Nicole chuckled, lifting Waverly’s chin with her finger to look her in the eyes.  

“Maybe,” the brunette wrinkled her nose at Nicole who beamed in response.  

“God, you’re adorable,” the ginger placed a soft kiss to Waverly’s lips, a crooked finger still underneath her chin, supporting her head.  She still couldn’t believe her good fortune that this wonderful, smart, kind, gorgeous, adorable girl was in her arms.  That she was kissing her.  That she was sharing every part of her life with her.

“Don’t change the subject, babe,” Waverly chided, laying her head back down against Nicole’s chest.  

“Of course not.”  Nicole sighed again, steeling herself for emotions she hadn’t let herself feel in ages.  She didn’t like to think, much less talk, about her family. Nicole knew repression was not exactly the key to a healthy life, but so far it seemed to be working wonders for her.  Well, accept for the fact that whenever someone asked her about her family she had a tendency to completely shut down, her heart racing and her vision going blurry.

“If you’re not ready yet you don’t have to say anything,” Waverly reassured the redhead.  

“No, it’s fine… I’m just not sure what to say or where to start,” she explained.  

“How about you tell me about your parents?  Why you don’t talk about them?” The brunette offered.  

“Alright… well, my father was… difficult, to say the least.  He was kind of shut off in a way? I’m not sure how to explain it.  Anyways, nothing I did ever seemed to be good enough for him, no matter how hard I tried.  One time I came home with a 98 on my report card in seventh grade and all he did was ask why it wasn’t a 100,” Nicole gave a derisive laugh.  

“He would manipulate my words and throw them back at me and just make me feel worthless.  When he drank… when he drank he got violent. He would throw stuff around, throw me around.”  Nicole looked off in the distance, zoning out for a moment.  Waverly must have sensed it because she decided to break through to Nicole after about a minute.  

“Was he a drunk?” She asked lightly.  

“No…” Nicole started to explain, “He wasn’t a drunk.  It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough. And when he did…” Nicole sighed.  “There just came a point when I couldn’t deal with it anymore, so I haven’t spoken to him in years.  Sometimes I feel terrible because he did support me, like financially and stuff, but it was just he could be… abusive, almost, physically and emotionally.  One time I sat with my parents for a half hour as they debated about whether or not I was a disappointment as a child because I wasn’t really religious. It was hard, but I also just feel like sometimes I should have just dealt with it because he’s my father and stuff and he paid for everything.  I don’t know.”

“Nicole.”  Waverly turned around in the ginger’s lap to face her, holding her head in her hands and staring into her eyes.  Nicole looked down, refusing to meet Waverly’s gaze. She was embarrassed, ashamed, regretful. Everything seemed to be bubbling up inside her, all the emotions that she had been pushing to the side for years, and her head began to pound, the hotness and pressure behind her eyes building intensely.  “Look at me,” Waverly whispered softly.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole said, still not looking in her eyes.  She felt Waverly’s thumb swipe lightly across her cheek, wiping away a tear that had escaped from her burning eyes.  She tried to shut down, to stop these feelings from overwhelming her like she normally did.

“You should never apologize or feel embarrassed about how you feel.  What he did and how he treated you was unacceptable.”

“I just feel like I used him to pay for my schooling and the academy and then just… just left.  Wouldn’t take his calls, wouldn’t communicate with either of my parents at all.”

“Did stuff happen with your mom?” Waverly asked timidly, seemingly nervous.  

“Waves, you don’t have to be scared to ask me something,” Nicole worried that Waverly would hold back from saying things or asking questions she wanted to because she was scared of how Nicole would react.  

“I’m not scared, I’m just… I don’t want to accidentally hurt you by saying something I shouldn’t,” she explained.  

“You can always ask me anything, I promise.  There isn’t anything that you shouldn’t say, Waves.  As for my mom… I love my mom, I do.  She’s just… I don’t know. She’s not very acceptive of me.”

“How do you mean?” Waverly asked gently.  Nicole could tell she didn’t want to assume too much and was waiting for her to go on, but wanted to give her a nudge in the right direction.

“I mean, she’s not accepting of the me being gay thing, at all.   She would always say things, before I even told her. Like, when a gay couple was on TV she would say that the show was ruined and it was disgusting to see something like that.  She would say that women couldn’t be gay, that they were just burned by too many men or hadn’t met the right man yet— men, though, can be gay. She said that was a thing. I spent years listening to her saying stuff like that and, when I finally told her, she said she always knew.  She said all of that and she always knew, apparently. And then after, she just didn’t say anything. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it or say anything…

“She took me to get birth control because I had really bad cramps and irregular periods, and she said that hopefully I’d find myself in a situation where I might be worried about getting pregnant.  One time I mentioned that I liked little boys more than little girls, like toddler age children, just because they’re easier to understand and entertain. Plus, little boys in vests and little hats?  So adorable. But anyways, she just shouted at me, asking me why I’m gay then and how was I supposed to answer that? I remember one time she told me that I would always be the guy in any relationship and that… that really fucked me up for a bit.  I would purposely date girls that were less femme than I was just because it bothered me so much that she said that, even though I knew that wasn’t what I was into. But for some reason I thought that if I was more feminine, if I wore dresses, if I was the girlier girl in the relationship, she would be more accepting, even if that wasn’t who I was.  

“I loved my mom.  I love my mom.  She was always there for me and she helped me through so much, but she just couldn’t accept this .  And I feel like this is me .  This is who I am and if she can’t accept that, if she can’t accept who I love, then she can’t accept me.  I mentioned I want to have children someday and she told me that they wouldn’t be real children. I didn’t even know how to respond to that.  I felt like I needed to cut her out at a point because she just couldn’t accept me or whoever I choose to love or, apparently, any future children I might have.”

The tears were streaming, hot and silent, down Nicole’s face at this point.  She saw the wetness in Waverly’s eyes as she held back her own, wiping away Nicole’s tears as quickly as she was able.  Nicole looked into Waverly’s eyes and saw an unadulterated tenderness in them, a love .  In that moment, as she cried in front of the fire, Waverly in her lap, staring into her eyes and wiping the tears from her cheeks, she knew .  She knew Waverly loved her.  She wasn’t ready to say it, and Nicole knew that, but she also knew in that moment how Waverly actually felt.  A sense of calmness and safety seemed to swell up inside her, grounding her in the moment.

Nicole couldn’t believe at first that she had actually said all that.  For so many years, she had pushed off any inquiries about her family, refusing to talk about them after she stopped talking to them.  But she had told Waverly, and she had told Waverly everything , and it hadn’t been that terrible.  Waverly had made her feel safe enough to talk about it, to not keep everything shut in like she always had.  

“Nicole,” Waverly sat up in the ginger’s lap, turning to face her fully, “you are fucking incredible .”  Nicole started a bit hearing Waverly say that— she had heard her use small swears all the time, like shit and whatnot, but she had never heard her say any version of fuck before.  “You deserve so much better than how your parents treated you and I really just wish you could see that because I can tell you don’t. You’re amazing and wonderful and you deserve to feel loved and accepted.  I’m so sorry that they didn’t make you feel that way, but I want you to know I accept every single part of you, no matter what,” Waverly stated firmly, staring into her eyes.

“I love you,” Nicole responded.  That was all she could say at that moment because that was everything she felt.  She loved Waverly so very much. Her heart was bursting with emotion as she opened up to her, as she let herself be vulnerable with her, as Waverly comforted her.   Wiping another tear from under Nicole’s eye, the brunette leaned in to place a slow, sweet kiss on Nicole’s lips. It was full of comfort, of a sense of safety Nicole had never quite experienced before.  

“You are amazing,” Waverly whispered against her lips, eliciting a small smile from Nicole.  

“Okay, now let’s talk about something a little less sad….”

* * * * * *

They spent the next couple hours just chatting by the dwindling fire, talking and laughing about everything and nothing.  It was fun and light, a large contrast to the heaviness of the previous conversation. Nicole had opened up, and now she needed to take her mind off of things; Waverly was the perfect person to do just that.  Nicole could forget the entire world just being in her presence.

However, it was getting really late and Nicole knew she would have to go back to her own place soon.   Sure, she and Waverly had slept in the same bed before, twice actually, but that was before they were together .  The first time was the night they met when Nicole was drunk off her ass, and the second time was the night Nicole had picked up Waverly after she left the bar, drunk off her ass.   And while Nicole wanted nothing more than to fall asleep holding the brunette close to her, she knew that was likely overstepping and not something Waverly was ready for yet.  

“Hey, baby,” Nicole said after a lull in the conversation, “I should probably get going.”

“Nope,” Waverly popped the ‘p’ in the word, snuggling up closer to the redhead, wrapping her arms around Nicole’s waist and squeezing tightly.  

“It’s getting late, baby,” Nicole argued halfheartedly.  She really didn’t want to leave, at all. But she should.  

“You had wine, you can’t drive,” Waverly said smugly, rubbing her head against Nicole’s chest, her eyes closed.  

“I haven’t had any wine in over an hour, Waves.”  The shorter woman’s face fell for a moment before collecting herself.  

“Okay, well, there’s a storm, it’s late, and it’s dangerous.   Please stay here,” Waverly begged.  She looked up at Nicole, eyes pleading with her.  Nicole hesitated, knowing she was a goner whenever Waverly asked her for something.  Her girlfriend seemed to take note of this hesitation, maneuvering herself so she was sitting against Nicole, legs wrapped around her, arms thrown around her neck.  “Please, babe? I just want you to be safe,” Waverly pouted. Dear God, the pout. Waverly was definitely playing dirty now.  

“Waves… are you sure?  What about Wynonna?”

“What about her?  She won’t think anything of it.  If she hasn’t figured it out by now, then I think we’ll be good until we tell her.  Which… I think should be soon. Not right now, but soon.”  Nicole’s heart leapt at the thought of Waverly telling Wynonna, of not having to pretend they weren’t more than just friends anymore.  Of being free with her.  

“You know you don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for, but if you want to do that, then as long as you want me, I’ll be by your side,” Nicole held Waverly at the waist, forehead pressed against the brunette’s.  Waverly smiled, leaning forward to capture Nicole’s lips, pressing her body against the ginger’s.

“Please stay,” she whispered against her lips and Nicole melted .  

“I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Or my bedroom.”

“On the floor?”

“Nicole,” Waverly leaned back, removing her lips from Nicole’s to look her in the eye.  “Do you not want to stay? If you don’t, it’s fine, but… I want you to.”

“I do, I just wasn’t sure if it would make you uncomfortable.”

“Okay, babe.  Will you please sleep in my bed with me tonight so you don’t have to drive home in this terrible storm?” Waverly said each word slowly, deliberately, as though trying to make sure Nicole had no way of misunderstanding her.  

“It would be my honor, dear lady,” Nicole teased.  

“You’re such a nerd, oh my god,” Waverly rolled her eyes, smiling and leaning forward to pull Nicole into a deep passionate kiss.  

“You want to head up now, then?” Nicole asked between kisses.  

“But I like where I am now,” Waverly murmured, grinding her body slowly and seemingly deliberately against Nicole’s center.  She felt her core clench at the movement, a light gasp released from her lips.

“Fine.”  Nicole shifted her feet from the couch, quickly standing up with Waverly’s legs still wrapped around her waist.  The brunette let out a surprised squeal, giggling when Nicole shushed her playfully, especially with Wynonna asleep just down the hall.  She carried Waverly up the stairs, the younger woman pressing kisses on her lips, on her cheek, down her neck, nibbling and sucking on the exposed skin.  

When they finally got to Waverly’s bedroom, Nicole sat on the bed, allowing Waverly to remain on top of her.  The kisses were getting more passionate, more desperate, the brunette sliding her tongue into Nicole’s mouth, fingers curling in her red locks.  When she felt the slight tug against her scalp, the ginger moaned into her girlfriends mouth. Then the hands were gone, but they were pulling off the brunette’s shirt, leaving her exposed before Nicole.  Nicole’s own hands ran up and down the now bare skin of Waverly’s back around to her abdomen, feeling goosebumps raised against smooth flesh wherever her fingers grazed.

Waverly fiddled with the top button of Nicole’s shirt, pausing momentarily to allow Nicole enough time to give a fervent nod of consent.  The brunette made quick work of the buttons, sliding the button up down Nicole’s shoulders, her fingers trailing down her neck, along her skin, sending shivers down her spine.  Waverly’s hips rolled against Nicole’s lap, moaning against her lips.

This was going pretty far.  Nicole could feel the heat coiling up and burning in her center.  She needed more .  She wanted to feel Waverly’s skin against her own, to hear her moans— moans that she elicited.  So instead of pushing her girlfriend into something she wasn’t ready for, she gently moved Waverly off of her lap, depositing her on the bed beside her.  

“I think— I think maybe we should head to sleep now,” Nicole said, albeit rather reluctantly.  

“Nicole—”

“I can still sleep on the couch or the floor if you want, just let me know.”

“Fucking hell, Nicole,” Waverly groaned, laying back on her bed, arms across the bed.  Nicole looked at her curiously, unsure of what was happening. “For the love of God, will you please just fuck me already?”

Chapter Text

“Fucking hell, Nicole.  For the love of God, will you please just fuck me already?”  Waverly said in her head, laying back across the bed when Nicole got up, stopping them again .  The brunette groaned, opening her eyes to look at her girlfriend who was standing by the dresser, staring at her with wide eyes, very clearly in shock.   Oh shit.  I said that outloud , Waverly thought .  Shit, shit, shit.  Shittickets.

“Waves…” Nicole started, apparently unsure of what to say.  

“Oh my God, Nicole, I am so so sorry,” Waverly explained quickly, sitting up and staring back with equally wide eyes.  “I didn’t mean— I mean, I didn’t think I was actually saying that and I didn’t mean it like that, like obviously if you don’t want to it’s fine, it’s just, I’ve been trying to have sex with you for a month now and you keep stopping things and it’s okay if you’re not ready, I just thought because this morning you were— you know— that you might want to as well and be pushing me off because of something else but if you don’t want to, really, it’s fine—”

“Waverly, stop.”  Nicole spoke firmly but gently.  She took a deep breath, moving back across the room to sit next to Waverly on the bed.  Nicole grabbed her hand, intertwining their fingers comfortingly. Waverly felt her heartbeat slow and relax with the feel of Nicole’s hand enveloping hers, grounding her.  

“I’m sorry,” she muttered softly.  

“It’s okay, baby, really.  I was obviously an idiot because I just kept pushing you away thinking you weren’t ready.  I also just want to make sure you’re doing this because you want it, not because you think you have to with me.  If there’s even a small part of you that isn’t ready, we don’t have to do this.” Nicole assured her, facing her on the bed and now grasping both hands in hers.  Warm, chocolate eyes seemed to see deep into Waverly’s soul and the brunette could not think of a moment when she felt more safe, protected, loved .  

“I want to be with you, Nicole.  In every way. I promise.”

“Wynonna’s in the house, though, are you okay with that?”

“She’s downstairs, plus there’s a huge storm outside still.  She won’t be able to hear a thing. Also, she could sleep through a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.  I think we’re good,” Waverly reassured her.

“We can stop at any time if you change your mi—”

“Nicole.  I know. I trust you and I know you would never do anything to hurt me.”

“Okay,” Nicole took a deep breath, giving Waverly a small smile.  “So you don’t like me on top of you when you’re laying down, is there anything else you like or don’t like that you want to tell me about?” Nicole brushed a strand of hair out of Waverly’s eyes, tucking it behind her ear gently, sending chills down the younger woman’s back.

“I do like the idea of you being on top of me, it just seems really natural with us, but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet, if that’s okay,” Waverly looked down in embarrassment, feeling as though she was letting Nicole down by having problems with that position.  Instead, she lifted Waverly’s chin so her eyes were no longer downcast and placed a gentle, comforting kiss against her lips.

“Whatever makes you feel good is going to be good for me, baby,” Nicole stated simply, her seemingly innocent words setting a fire within Waverly at the thought of the implications behind them.  

“So, um, is there anything you don’t like or do like?” Waverly asked, biting her lip.  

“I feel like it’s kind of embarrassing, but um…. I actually don’t really like penetration that much.  I have to be in the mood for it, which doesn’t happen too often, and I’m sorry if that’s like super weird.”  It was Nicole’s turn to blush this time. Waverly was a little taken aback, knowing how good penetration felt to her, but she quickly collected herself, knowing it wasn’t the same for everyone.  

“Nicole, that’s completely fine.  Like you said, whatever makes you feel good is going to be good for me.”  Waverly could feel her eyes darkening, her voice dropping an octave, her core beginning to clench in anticipation.  

“And obviously, you don’t have to feel like you need to do anything for me at all if you don’t want to.  I would be more than happy to just take care of you…” Nicole said, her tongue darting out to wet her lips.  

“Thanks, babe, but...” Waverly leaned forward until her lips were ghosting the shell of Nicole’s ear, “ I want to taste you .”  A moan rippled through Nicole’s chest as Waverly pulled back, smirking.  Suddenly lips were crashing against her, hands were on her still bare waist pulling Waverly onto her girlfriend’s lap.  Nicole’s tongue traced her lips, slipping inside as Waverly’s hands travelled around the ginger’s body to the clasp of her bra.  She held it for a moment until Nicole nodded her consent and then the bra was off, revealing Nicole’s perfect, full breasts.

Waverly traced her fingers underneath, around, on top of Nicole’s breasts, earning small gasps as she touched everywhere but the pebbled nipples.  When she finally rolled them between her thumb and forefinger Nicole released a high pitched gasp against Waverly’s lips, scratching her nails down the brunette’s back in response.  

Babe ,” Waverly groaned, rolling her hips against Nicole, shifting her center against Nicole’s.  

“You’re wearing too many clothes, princess,” Nicole seemed to growl in response, now sucking marks into Waverly’s neck.  

Shit ,” Waverly felt her eyes roll into the back of her head at Nicole’s words, not very much able to think, let alone do anything.  She ground down on Nicole’s hips, shuddering and moaning.

“Mmmm, you like that, baby?” Nicole asked with a glint in her eyes.  After a moment, though, she seemed to think better of it, the glint quickly turning into hesitation and concern.  “Maybe for this time, though, we should do things slowly, since it’s our first time together?”

“Nicole?”  Waverly tried to unmuddle her mind in order to get her thought out clearly.  

“Yes?” The ginger mumbled against Waverly’s neck, nibbling at the skin on her pulse point, her fingers fiddling with the clasp of Waverly’s bra.  

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?”

“Huh?”

“Are you busy tomorrow morning?” Waverly sighed as Nicole moved back to look at Waverly, but she was trying to make a point.  

“I thought— do you want me to go after, or now?”  She asked, concerned.

“No, I want you to stay.  My point was, if you’re not doing anything tomorrow, we can have that vanilla, loving sex then.  But right now, I know you love me, and I think you know how I feel, and I have been waiting so long for this, so please, Nicole.   Take me.  Tell me what to do, make me yours, fuck me .  Please, Nicole, fuck me .  If you want vanilla sex right now, that’s fine,” Waverly’s hand travelled from her breasts, down Nicole’s abs, cupping her sex over her jeans and squeezing, earning a moan from Nicole.  She leaned forward to whisper in her ear, “but from here, it sounds like you want to tell me what to do, what you’re going to do to me, and just take me .”  Waverly leaned closer and whispered in her ear, hand still grasping Nicole’s mound through her jeans.  “ Use me, babe, please. Make me yours.

Fuck , baby,” Nicole gasped.  Waverly leaned back, looking into her eyes, watching as they darkened and her girlfriend swallowed, licking her lips in anticipation.  

“That’s what I’ve been trying to get you to do.” Waverly winked, her hands reaching up Nicole’s front, over her breasts and around her neck.  She swayed her hips on Nicole’s laps, smirking seductively at her. Nicole’s mouth was opened slightly, her breathing ragged, her eyes dark pools of desire.  She knew Nicole liked the control, considering that time that she had her riding her thigh against the wall, how cocky and sure of herself she had been. And Waverly wanted nothing more than to give that to her.

“Is it— will it be okay?  Will you be okay, you know, with everything?”  Waverly could tell that Nicole was trying her best to not let lust take over just yet and be respectful of Waverly.  She didn’t want to seem to ask the question Waverly knew she was thinking— will it be okay even though you were raped?

“I want this Nicole.  I want you to talk dirty, to fuck me, to make me feel so good I can’t stand it.  I’m asking for it.” And Waverly knew the difference between this and then .  She wanted Nicole to use her because she knew it wasn’t like the other time; with Nicole, it could never be like the other time.

“Okay, baby,” Nicole breathed, her eyes glinting maliciously.

“I liked princess,” Waverly admitted, biting at her bottom lip.

“Fine, princess , as I was saying, you’re wearing far too many clothes still.  Go take them off for me.” Having been given the green light, her demeanor seemed to change noticeably.  Nicole’s voice was hard, firm, and God did it soak Waverly’s panties. She scrambled off Nicole’s lap, standing in front of her and reaching for her bra clasp.  

“Not yet, baby, skirt first,” Nicole’s eyes flitted up and down her body, smirking in just the right way so her dimple was showing.   God her girlfriend was hot, leaning back on her elbows on the bed, wearing nothing but jeans and— holy shit were those boxers poking out of the jeans?  Waverly shook herself out of it, trying to push aside the burning need inside her to jump on Nicole, knowing it would be better for her in the long run if she listened to Nicole.  

God, that made her hot.  Just the thought of Nicole telling her what to do, whispering in her ear everything she would do to her, teasing her…

She slowly shifted her hips, sliding the skirt down her legs.  Waverly unclasped her bra, throwing her bra off to the side, smiling as Nicole pressed her legs together at the sight.  Finally, she hooked her thumb into the waistband of her thong, shimmying the wet fabric down her thighs.

“Oh, princess… you’re gorgeous,” Nicole told her, slowly taking in the sight of her.  Waverly, deciding Nicole was now wearing far too many clothes, decided to take matters into her own hands, just a little. She sauntered over to her girlfriend, kneeling on the carpeting in front of her and slowly unbuttoning her jeans. She stared into Nicole’s eyes as she did so, almost completely unable to see any brown as the pupils were blown so wide. Waverly hooked her fingers into the belt loops, hesitating for a moment before receiving a wordless nod from Nicole. She shimmied the jeans down the ginger’s long, toned legs, tossing them to the side when she was done.

Nicole in just a pair of purple plaid boxers was a sight.  They were tight, hugging her muscular thighs, and damn did they look good on her.  Even though Waverly was enjoying the sight quite a bit, she wanted more.  Nicole’s eyes gave her permission as she slid the boxers off as well, assisted by a lifting of hips on Nicole’s end.  Once the boxers were finally discarded, Waverly found herself at eye level with her girlfriend’s glistening sex, the lips wet and swollen with arousal.  Not even thinking about it, she instinctively nuzzled her nose into the damp, red curls, breathing in the musky, intoxicating scent. Waverly felt Nicole’s hand find the back of her head, gently placed between long brunette waves.  It did not push her forward or hold her back, only giving silent reassurance and encouragement.

Breathing in Nicole’s scent, Waverly couldn’t help herself.  She dragged her tongue up along Nicole’s slit, tasting the juices.  It was salty and tangy and so Nicole .  It was incredible.  As her tongue flicked across the ginger’s clit, Waverly felt the fingers twist in her hair slightly, grasping and holding her tighter.  Nicole still did not push or pull Waverly in any direction, but the tight hold against her scalp spurred Waverly on, allowing her the confidence to keep tasting her girlfriend.  She flattened her tongue and quickened her pace, lapping up the juices that seeped from Nicole’s center. Waverly felt as though she could stay there forever, drinking her in, sucking on the tight bundle of nerves, hearing Nicole’s moans and feeling her fingers tighten and pull against her scalp.  Waverly wondered how she had never done this before because certainly there was nothing better than this.  She swiped her tongue through the slick folds, hearing Nicole’s moans become deeper and more earnest, her breathing quickened, her hips bucking against the brunette’s mouth, though Waverly could tell the ginger was doing her best to restrain herself.

Suddenly, Waverly felt a tug on her hair, guiding her up from her knees to stare into black, lust-filled eyes.  Nicole’s cheeks were flushed, her tongue darted out to moisten dried lips. She was absolutely gorgeous.

“What do you think you’re doing, baby?”  Nicole’s voice was hard and so damn hot. It simultaneously sent a shiver through her body and a heat straight down to her core.  

“I said I wanted to taste you,” Waverly responded simply, as though she had thought nothing of it.  In reality, it had been amazing .  Absolutely incredible.  She could still feel Nicole’s wetness on her face, taste her on her tongue.  

“Well, I don’t remember asking you to.  Tonight is about you. Now are you going to be a good girl and let me fuck you like you wanted?”  Waverly’s thighs squeezed instinctively at the words, a moan escaping from the back of her throat.  

Please ,” was the only word she could utter, and it sounded broken at that.  

“Come here, princess,” Nicole said with a low voice, her finger crooked, beckoning Waverly towards her.  The brunette followed, as if being pulled by some invisible force. Some invisible, incredibly sexy force.  She placed her knees on either side of Nicole’s legs, straddling her and pressing her body up against hers, their breasts touching.  She moaned as the redhead ran her hands down her back, cupping and squeezing her ass. She then moved her hands to the front, trailing up her abdomen and to Waverly’s breasts, where she kneaded the plump flesh as Waverly squirmed on her lap in pleasure.  She felt her muscles twitching in the most delightful way, especially those in her lower stomach. Waverly gasped as Nicole pinched and pulled at her nipples, the shot of pain shooting straight to her core and transforming into intense pleasure. She felt a fresh wave of wetness flow out onto Nicole’s lap as she rolled her hips against her.  

“Does that feel good, baby?  Do you like me using you like this?” Nicole whispered in Waverly’s ear, causing a fresh stream of wetness; she was unable to do anything but whimper in response.  Her girlfriend was always so kind and considerate, the dichotomy of having her use her now, say the things she was in her ear, was hot .  Nicole let Waverly call all the shots in their relationship; having her take control like that was something entirely unlike her and Waverly could not get enough of it.  

“Use your words, baby,” Nicole twisted her nipples until Waverly gasped, her legs now situated so her clit was rubbing against her girlfriend’s mound, the friction intensely satisfying.  

Yes ,” Waverly gasped out.  

“Do you want me to fuck you now, princess?  Do you want my fingers inside you, stretching you out until you’re screaming in pleasure?”  Nicole’s breath tickled the shell of her ear.

Please ,” Waverly managed to gasp.  

“Please what?”

Nicole ,” she groaned.  

“Please what , princess?”  Nicole’s hands travelled down her stomach, fingers pressing into her abdomen.  

“Please put your fingers inside me.”  Waverly was a quivering mess of need and desire at this point.  Nicole apparently knew just what to say and how to say it to make Waverly come apart at the seams.  

With that, Nicole slid her fingers through Waverly’s slick folds, teasing at her entrance, her palm grazing her clit.  Waverly needed more, bucking her hips into her girlfriend’s hand, trying to force her fingers inside her.

“You’re so wet for me, baby,” Nicole nibbled at her earlobe.  

Nicole ,” Waverly pleaded, needing her inside at this point.  With that soft whimper of her name, the redhead drove a finger into Waverly, who let out a small cry of pleasure, her core clenching around the long digit.  Nicole slowly moved in and out, curling her fingers to press against the place that sent shivers of desire throughout Waverly’s whole body. But Waverly wanted more .  Seeming to sense this, Nicole positioned another finger to slip inside.  The younger woman gasped as it filled her, rolling her hips against Nicole’s palm to feel the pressure against her clit.  

Waverly was leaning forward, arms draped over Nicole’s shoulders, her blunt nails scraping her back.  Her forehead rested against the ginger’s, but her eyes were closed as she focused on the pleasure and trying not to moan too loudly.  One of her legs had managed to move between Nicole’s, her knee pressing up against the ginger’s hot, wet center. Nicole was lightly grinding against the knee, rolling her hips slightly, but not too much as to disturb the wondrous things that she was doing to Waverly.

Nicole’s fingers were magic .  They felt so good, curling at just the right angle, her palm pressing just hard enough against her clit to give her the pressure and friction she needed as she ground her hips, smearing wetness across her hand.  

More, ” Waverly pleaded, not knowing exactly what she wanted more of.

“You want more, princess?  Two fingers isn’t enough to satisfy your greedy little pussy?” Nicole asked, smirking when Waverly ground harder, bucked faster, moaned louder at the words.  Without hesitation, she pushed a third finger into Waverly’s tight hole that clenched around her.

Fuck ,” Waverly cried out, forgetting about her sister downstairs as she was filled completely with Nicole.  She lifted her hips up and slammed down on the fingers as Nicole curled them in, fucking herself on Nicole.  

“You’re so tight, princess, but you’re taking me so well.  Good girl,” Nicole purred. Waverly’s eyes seemed to roll back in her head between the stretch of Nicole inside her and the words she was saying.  She bounced up and down, crying out her pleasure as the heel of Nicole’s hand smacked against her clit.

I’m coming, I’m coming, please, please, fuck, I’m coming ,”  Waverly panted, her head now resting in the crook of Nicole’s neck.  Nicole responded by deliberately rubbing the heel of her palm against Waverly’s clit, pressing harder against that wonderful spot inside of her.  Waverly groaned loudly as her release coursed through her, sending electric waves throughout her body. Nicole kept her fingers pumping in Waverly throughout her orgasm, her walls milking the ginger’s fingers deeper into her.  When the aftershocks finally resided, the brunette laying spent against Nicole’s shoulder, the redhead extracted her fingers, sticking all three in her mouth and sucking at the juices. Waverly stared at the sight, wide-eyed.

“Princess, you taste so good.  I’m going to help you clean up now,” Nicole told her, gently laying her down on the bed.   Nicole settled between the brunette’s thighs, gently lapping up the juices that had just flown freely from her moments before.  Her tongue was soft and warm, only drinking the juices and nothing more; Waverly found herself sensitive and exhausted at the moment, so she was grateful Nicole seemed to be so adept at reading her needs.  

“Your turn?” Waverly asked through an unintentional and poorly timed yawn.  

“I did have one against your knee, so I’m good for now, baby.  You’re exhausted, though,” Nicole told her. Waverly felt slightly guilty, wanting to repay the favor, make Nicole feel as good as she had just made her feel.  But it had been a long night and the incredible orgasm her girlfriend had given her (as well as the way she gave it to her) had drained her. And now Nicole was opening the blankets for her, beckoning for her to get under with her.  It looked so inviting.

“Tomorrow morning?” Waverly asked sleepily, giving in and sliding underneath the covers.  She snuggled up against Nicole’s warmth, enjoying the feel of skin against skin.

“Tomorrow morning,” the ginger agreed, holding the smaller woman tightly against her, the two drifting off into a satisfied sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning Nicole woke up to what felt like the most wonderful dream she’d ever had.   Waverly was pressed against her, breathing soft and steady. Nicole’s body wrapped around the smaller woman’s, a hand reaching over to rest on Waverly’s toned stomach.  The two were huddled together under the blankets. Breathing in the sweet scent of Waverly’s hair, the ginger trailed her finger across the soft skin covering abs, smiling as she felt the muscles twitch.  Waverly’s breathing began to quicken as she squirmed slightly against Nicole in her sleep.

Nicole ,” Waverly murmured.  For a moment, Nicole thought that her girlfriend had woken up, but she soon realised that Waverly was still asleep, muttering her name as her hips twitched against Nicole.  Feeling her heart swell, Nicole gently brushed Waverly’s hair away from her neck and leaned over to press her lips to the brunette’s neck, just underneath her ear. Waverly moaned at the touch, stretching her legs out and turning so she was curled into Nicole.  The redhead wrapped her arms tightly around the brunette, pulling her close against her.

“Mornin,” Waverly grumbled into Nicole’s skin, nuzzling her face on Nicole’s bare chest.

“Good morning, beautiful,” the redhead whispered, lips against her forehead, trailing her fingers up and down Waverly’s back.  When her fingers reached the curve below the small of her back, Waverly’s breath hitched, her hips bucking into Nicole.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, face tinting red in embarrassment.  Nicole let her fingers glide down Waverly’s thigh, feeling the smaller woman’s body shiver in response, finally hooking her hand under her knee and pulling it quickly and smoothly up to her hip, reveling in the gasp it earned.

“Why are you sorry, baby?” Nicole asked, loving the fact that she could make Waverly come apart like this.  She moved her fingers back up the toned thigh, stopping when she sensed a shift.

Waverly tensed up, her breathing coming out in short bursts.  Not quite sure what the right move was at this point, Nicole decided on lifting both her hands to gently tease her fingers through Waverly’s hair as the brunette curled her knees to her chest, pulling the covers around her tightly.  

“I’m sorry, Nicole,” she whispered, turning her body so her back was facing the redhead.  Nicole sat up in the bed, blankets pooled around her waist, wanting to reach out in comfort but not wanting to overstep.

“Waves,” Nicole said gently, “Talk to me, okay?  Communication, remember? It’s okay, I’m here.” A million things ran through her mind, mainly worries of the night before.  Was Waverly not ready? Was she too rough? It had been months of want and desire and need … they both just needed to fuck each other.  Or at least that’s what Nicole had thought.  Maybe she should have insisted they go slow, wait things out, not be so rough .  Waverly’s breathing seemed to get even shallower, her body tensing in what Nicole knew to be the tell-tale signs of a panic attack.  

“Baby…” she reached out a hand, placing it gently on the brunette’s shoulder.  When Waverly didn’t shrink away from her touch, but didn’t relax into it either she asked, “Can I hold you?”

“I’m ugly,” Waverly whispered, burying her face under the covers.  

“What the fuck are you talking about?”  Nicole was shocked. Did Waverly even own a mirror?  There was no way she couldn’t see how absolutely gorgeous she was.  It didn’t make sense. She could feel her patience fraying a little.  She wanted to be there for Waverly, but this made absolutely no sense.  She took a deep breath, centering herself to try again. “Waves, you’re gorgeous.  You should know this. Why are you thinking this now? Did I do something wrong?”

“No, it’s not that, Nicole.  You’re amazing. You could never… It’s just…” Waverly’s voice grew smaller with each phrase and Nicole could tell her anxiety was raising again.  

“Baby, please just tell me,” Nicole pleaded, “I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong.”

My scars, ” Waverly said, a sob racking her body, her voice so soft Nicole almost couldn’t hear what she was saying.  “I wasn’t thinking last night and… God, you must think I’m disgusting.”

“Waverly.  Look at me,” Nicole said.  She loved Waverly more than anything but she didn’t understand why she couldn’t see how special she was, how Nicole saw her.   When her girlfriend didn’t turn to look at her, Nicole got off the bed, walking around to the other side and kneeling on the carpet in front of Waverly.  

“It’s so embarrassing, I’m sorry,” Waverly apologized, hiding her face under the covers.  Nicole didn’t respond right away, just pulling gently at the covers until Waverly finally released them from her grasp, revealing her quivering lip.  

“Baby, you are gorgeous.  And your scars are part of your story, part of who you are.  I love every part of you, Waverly, and I love your scars. I hope there aren’t any more, but these are part of your fight, a reminder of your journey, of your healing .”  Nicole pulled the covers completely off of Waverly, revealing her soft skin, her toned body, and her scars.  She ran a hand over her thigh, feeling the slightly raised skin of her scars. Waverly tensed slightly, but then eventually relaxed under her touch.  

“But… they look—”

“They look like a part of you.  Part of your history. And I love you,” Nicole pressed her lips to Waverly’s thighs, kissing the scars covering them.  

“Nicole, I—” Waverly started, but her voice broke and she looked down, holding in whatever words she was about to utter.  

“It’s okay, baby,” Nicole kissed Waverly’s other thigh, her fingers tracing the raised lines.  

“Nicole,” Waverly said her name, almost as though looking for reassurance that she was there, that she was real.  

“I love every part of you,” Nicole whispered, her lips moving to the inside of her thighs, brushing against the scars there.  

Nicole .”  She noticed a change in the way Waverly said her name; it came out as a plea now, dripping with desire.  The redhead shifted Waverly on the bed so her legs, one on either side of her shoulders, hung off the edge.  Nicole’s lips ghosted her inner thighs, tasting the slightly salty skin of her love as fingers weaved their way through her red waves.  

Nicole swiped her tongue up Waverly’s moistened slit without warning, reveling in the moan she heard.  She sucked on the wet flesh, devouring the juices flowing from the hot center. Her tongue flattened against Waverly, the musky and salty taste taking over all her senses.  She hummed in satisfaction against the sensitive flesh as her girlfriend’s ankles hooked around her, digging into her back.

When Nicole’s lips latched around Waverly’s clit, sucking on the bundle of nerves, her hips began to buck against her face, the brunette’s fingers curling and pulling at her hair.  She moaned against Waverly’s clit as she felt the tug on her scalp, pulling her face closer against the warm wetness.

Yes, Nicole, please ,” Waverly moaned, spurring Nicole on to lick more quickly even with her tiring tongue.  But Waverly’s taste was so intoxicating Nicole never wished to stop. She continued until she felt Waverly tense against her, the brunette’s other hand pressed against her mouth to stifle the scream of pleasure.  

Fuck , baby, you taste delicious,” Nicole said in reverence, kissing the still sensitive clit gently, earning a jump of hips against her face.  She crawled up on the bed next to Waverly, kissing her neck elaborately until Waverly giggled.

Nicky ,” she scolded, squirming and playfully batting her away.  She continued pressing kisses against her neck, cheeks, and jaw, until Waverly finally rolled her over, pinning Nicole’s hands above her head and smiling down at her.  Naked Waverly with the malicious glint in her eyes hovering above her was a sight — one she could definitely get used to.  

“My turn,” Waverly practically growled, sending desire coursing through Nicole’s body.  

Unfortunately, it was at that time that something else decided to growl as well.  

Namely, Nicole’s stomach.  

“Or after breakfast?” Waverly suggested kindly, the malicious glint in her eyes softening.  

“Ugh,” Nicole groaned, trying to decide whether her hunger or desire was more pressing.  “After breakfast, I guess,” she conceded.

“Mmm, I’ll make sure to save some of my appetite,” Waverly pressed her lips against Nicole’s before getting off the bed, winking at her and grabbing clothes from her dresser.  Her hips swayed in the most enticing way as she pulled what Nicole swore was the skimpiest cami she own over uncovered breasts and the shortest shorts she had over toned legs and a still glistening center.  For a moment, Nicole saw a glimmer of doubt in Waverly’s eyes as she pulled the shorts down over her thighs a bit, but looking back at Nicole, a gleam of confidence made its way back.

“Babe, you going to get dressed or you just going to stare,” Waverly raised an eyebrow, throwing Nicole a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt.  

“Will these fit?” Nicole asked skeptically.  

“Well, they may be a little tight in… certain areas… boobs… ass… but don’t worry, I don’t mind,” Waverly smirked.  This woman would be the death of her and Nicole was so totally okay with that. “You get dressed and I’ll meet you downstairs,” Waverly told her, sauntering out of the room, leaving a drooling Nicole in her wake.  

When Nicole finally dressed and made her way downstairs, she heard voices coming from the kitchen.  

“Were you okay last night, baby girl?”  It sounded like Wynonna.

“What do you mean?”  Nicole heard Waverly ask.  

“Well, I mean, I heard moaning… Oh, hey Haughtshit,” Wynonna looked up as Waverly turned the corner into the kitchen.  Nicole’s eyes widened as she looked over at Waverly, scared Wynonna was going to figure out what had actually happened.  Waverly sat at the table, sipping a cup of coffee, shockingly not seeming too concerned.

“Morning’,” Nicole managed to choke out as Wynonna shoved a cup of coffee in her hands without looking away from Waverly.

“Anyways,” Wynonna started again, “Everything good?”

“‘Course,” Waverly blushed.  

“Oh, shit .  I get it,” Wynonna looked between the two of them, a look of realization dawning on her face.  Terror flooded Nicole at the thought that Waverly wasn’t ready for this, that she had wanted to tell her on her own, in her own time, and that Wynonna had figured everything out on her own.  

“Were you having nightmares again?” Wynonna asked, causing both confusion and relief in Nicole.  

“Um…. yeah,” Waverly answered slowly.

“I get that RedHaught is your bff, but you can ask me to help you out with your nightmares, too.  No offense, Red.”

“Well—”

“You know I’m here for you, baby girl.  Whatever you need.”

Nicole could appreciate Wynonna’s sentiment but was shocked at how dense she could be.  Apparently she had heard them the night before and she still hadn’t figured it out.  Relaxing a bit, she decided to take a sip of the coffee.

“Thanks, Wynonna,” Waverly said while staring directly at Nicole, “But I don’t think you could have helped me quite the way Nicole did.”  Nicole sputtered in shock, the coffee burning down her throat as she choked on some and spit out the rest while Waverly winked at her.

“Geez, Haughtshot, you good?” Wynonna asked, slapping her on the back roughly, causing more choking and spitting.  

“Yup,” Nicole managed to squeak out, staring at a very smug looking Waverly.  

“Alright, well I’m going to shower; I’ll talk to you weirdos later,” Wynonna gave a two finger salute as she exited the kitchen.  Waverly stood up, taking her coffee and a couple muffins into the living room wordlessly. Smiling to herself, Nicole followed with her own mug to find Waverly sitting on the couch, mug and muffins on the coffee table in front of her, smiling at Nicole.  

“Well, that was close,” Nicole admitted, taking a seat on the couch beside her girlfriend, putting her own coffee cup down on the table in front of her, sinking into the cushions.  

“I think we should tell her.”

“What?” Nicole questioned, not wanting to be too hopeful quite yet.  Waverly moved to straddle Nicole on the couch, her body and scent and very skimpy clothing overpowering her senses.  

“I think we should tell her,” Waverly repeated, her hands running over Nicole’s chest, sending desire coursing through her again.  Waverly’s tight sweatpants were pressed tightly against her hot mound, rubbing against her clit, and with Waverly on top of her, rubbing her chest, she couldn’t help the moan that escaped her lips.  

“Mmmm, you think baby?  She did hear us last night.”

“You’re right,” Waverly leaned in and pressed her lips against Nicole’s, her hips rocking on her lap.  “Maybe we should wait a bit so she doesn’t put it together. But we should tell her soon.”

“If you’re ready for it, baby,” Nicole said.  Her back arched as she felt Waverly roll her pebbled nipples between her fingers, the brunette’s lips now sucking on her neck. 

“Are you ready for me ?” Waverly murmured against her skin.  

“Baby… what about breakfast?”

“I’m hungry for you,” Waverly’s hands slid under the tight tee, running across twitching abdominal muscles.  Nicole lifted Waverly’s chin so her face raised to her own and she pressed a kiss to her lips, needy and desperate.  Her tongue traced Nicole’s lips, seeking entrance.

They were so caught up in one another that neither noticed that the shower had never gone on.  And Nicole at least definitely didn’t notice Wynonna standing in the doorway of the living room, staring with wide eyes as actual realization finally hit.  

“Holy shitballs, you guys were fucking last night!”

Waverly jumped back off of Nicole who watched as her girlfriend stared at her sister with what appeared to be fear in her eyes.  

Fudgenuggets.

Chapter Text

“Holy shitballs, you guys were fucking last night!” Wynonna stood in the doorway, staring at the two with wide eyes and an unreadable expression on her face.  Panicking, Waverly quickly jumped out of Nicole’s lap.

Fudgenuggets. ”  Waverly was unable to think of anything else to say, how to explain this.  Well, other than the fact that they were indeed fucking the night prior.

“The moaning— you weren’t have nightmares— shit ,” Wynonna rubbed her temple with two fingers, closing her eyes for a moment.  “Gross. Okay, whatever. So you’re… gay then?” The older sister asked, reopening her eyes and looking at Waverly with what appeared to be exhaustion.  

“Um… bi?” Waverly answered slowly, cautiously.  She noticed Nicole had not moved from where she sat on the couch.  The redhead was looking back and forth between the two sisters, apparently unsure of what she should do, how she should react.  It was clear she didn’t want to overstep, to make things worse in any way, but she also didn’t know how to make things better.

“Okay,” Wynonna responded.  She took a deep breath, not meeting Waverly’s eyes, before turning on her heels and walking out of the living room, out of the homestead completely.  The porch door banged shut against the frame as she left, leaving the younger sister staring in confusion and shock after her.

What was happening?  Waverly knew that Wynonna wasn’t usually much for talking about things, but that was all she said?   Okay?  What did that even mean?  Was it an actual okay, or was it one of those okay’s that wasn’t actually okay and she was just saying okay to say something but nothing was okay ?  And now Wynonna was walking out the door and maybe… was she walking out of her life again?  After all this worry about how Wynonna would react to finding out about her and Nicole, finally thinking that she would accept her and now this was how she reacted?  What if Waverly had just ruined everything with her sister, just because she was happy? She didn’t blame Nicole, or regret being with her, but she couldn’t help worrying that she was losing Wynonna again, all because she was with Nicole— because of her choices, because of who she was.  

“Waves, are you o—” Nicole started, but Waverly wasn’t listening.  It took her a moment— she wasn’t sure exactly how long that moment was— but when she finally collected herself, Waverly ran outside after her sister.  

“Wynonna!” she called out, the front porch door slamming into its frame behind her.  But Wynonna didn’t answer. She was already on her bike, revving the engine and peeling out of the drive.  

“Wynonna!” Waverly called again, running from the porch in the direction of the road.  The older sister was now far in the distance, but Waverly wasn’t thinking. She needed to talk to her.  She needed to know Wynonna was still there, that she would still be there for Waverly, that she was coming back .  Waverly didn’t know if she could stand it if Wynonna left her again, and this time it would be her fault.  

By this point she had run out to the road, still calling out her name even though she was long gone.  

“Wynonna—” Waverly cried out, her voice cracking.  Her knees buckled beneath her as she fell to the ground, sobs racking through her.  She vaguely heard Nicole running up to her, standing beside her, but she felt so far away.  Waverly knelt on the dirt road, head in her hands, feeling as though her whole world was crashing down around her and there was nothing she could do about it.  

* * * * * *

“Waverly—”

“I just don’t want to talk right now.”

“But—”

“I have to go to work.”

“Can we just talk for five minutes, please?”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You haven’t wanted to talk about it at all yet.  It’s been two days.”

“Nicole— don’t,” Waverly felt her throat constrict at the reality of Nicole’s words.  It had been two days and Wynonna hadn’t come back to the homestead yet. She wasn’t answering Waverly’s texts or phone calls and she was a mess .  Before, she could blame Wynonna’s running off on her just being Wynonna.  Now, she couldn’t help but feel as though it was her fault, that she had pushed her out of her life.  She hadn’t meant to take it out on Nicole; she knew it wasn’t her girlfriend’s fault in the slightest.  Everytime she looked at her or spoke to her, though, she was reminded of the look on Wynonna’s face— at the time, it was completely unreadable, but the past forty-eight hours had transformed the memory into a look of hurt, disappointment, disgust.  

“Waverly, please,” Nicole grabbed her by the arms so she would face her.  There was no question about the look on Nicole’s face— there was pain in her eyes, an obvious longing and need to make things right, to fix things.  

“I need to go to work,” Waverly said softly, turning away from the golden brown eyes, not wanting to meet them and see any more of the desperation behind them.  

“Baby, please look at me,” Nicole begged, her voice broken.  

“Nicole,” Waverly started with a sigh, “I just need time.  And I need to go to work. I’m sorry I— I’ll see you later?”

“Can you please stay the night at my place tonight?”  Nicole’s hands moved gently down her arms, grasping her hands.  

“What if she comes back tonight?” Waverly’s voice was small, not believing the words herself.  She was convinced she had ruined everything, that Wynonna wasn’t coming back tonight or tomorrow or even a year from then.  She was gone for good, all because of Waverly.

“Then you can see her tomorrow.  Or she’ll call or text. But you need to live your life still.  And it’ll work out, she’ll come back.”

“You don’t know that.”

“She loves you.”

“She hasn’t tried to come back or call or… or anything.  What if I messed up?”

“Baby, there’s no way you could have messed up.  This won’t be a big deal, you just have to give her some time to process and readjust.  There are expectations that family has of how your life is going to go and it’s changed now.  It sucks, but there’s almost a mourning period sometimes when family finds out. But after that, they can accept you for who you are, for the reality of your life and it’s often better in the long run.”

“But your parents didn’t.”

“And that was my parents and my situation.  That was my life.  This is your sister and baby, I’ve met her.  I’ve seen how she interacts with you. She loves you, she just needs a bit of time and then she’ll be back.  She makes jokes about me liking you all the time and she seems okay with it. Plus, she still has her job at the station.  I asked Dolls,” she scowled, “ and managed to get out of him that apparently she took some sick days, but she didn’t quit.”

“But those are jokes .  She wasn’t being serious.  And I need her here now .  I’m going crazy,” Waverly pulled away from Nicole, sitting down on the couch in the living room of the homestead and putting her head in her hands.  

“I know, baby.  I know.”

“I just— I need to go to work.”  Waverly got up from the couch, making her way to the front door.  She couldn’t sit still; she needed to do something, to distract herself.  

“Can I at least come over tonight, so you’re not alone?” Nicole pleaded.  

“I just— what if she comes back?  If you’re here it might make things… complicated.”

“But I’m here now?” Nicole’s brow knit in confusion.  

“It’s not night time.  After what she heard…”

“Okay, baby, whatever you need,” Waverly could hear the bitter note in Nicole’s voice, try as she might to hide it.  She knew Nicole was frustrated and it made sense why, but Waverly couldn’t help it. Her sister had left, again. And this time, it may have been because of her.  She didn’t want Nicole to think that she was ashamed of her, but if Wynonna came back late at night and they were together at the homestead again, it might just make things worse.  

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”  There was a beat of silence as the two stared in each other’s direction, looking off to the side as to not quite meet the other’s eyes.  

“I do need to go to work now, though, so do you want to…?”

“Yeah, no problem.  I’ll head out with you,”  Nicole assured her. They left the homestead together, an awkward tension obvious in the air between them.  

“I’ll um…. I’ll text you later?”  Waverly offered as she and Nicole headed to their respective cars.  

“Sure, Waverly, whatever you want,” Nicole said tightly.  Waverly knew she didn’t mean to be short with her, but her tone stung nonetheless.  

“Nicole I—” Waverly’s voice broke, her mind unsure what her heart was trying to say.  “I’m sorry,” she settled for saying again when Nicole looked up expectantly, pausing as she got into her car.  

“Yeah,” Nicole offered a small smile as she began to enter her car again.  Waverly did the same, but she waited until Nicole had been gone about five minutes before starting her own car and heading down the long, lonely road into town.  

* * * * * *

The farther Waverly got into her shift that night, the more people that showed up at the bar, talking and laughing and enjoying themselves, the more lonely she felt.  The prospect of going back to an old, empty house, waiting for someone who probably wouldn’t show up didn’t seem that appealing to her anymore.

She wanted to get away, and she wanted to be with Nicole when she did that.  

When her shift ended, Shorty gave her one of his looks .  

“You alright, kid?”  He questioned.

“Yeah… I’m good, Shorty.”

“You alone tonight?”  He narrowed his eyes in concerned suspicion.  Waverly was never quite sure how much he knew and about what, but he always seemed to know more than she thought he could.  

“I was… I was going to call Nicole,” she answered softly, looking down and blushing.  

“Why don’t you call her and have her pick you up from here?  You can keep the Jeep where it is overnight.”

“I haven’t been drinking—”

“Just so I know you’re with someone,” Shorty cut her off.  Sighing, Waverly raised her hands in defeat and walked to the back room with her phone, suddenly very nervous.  She wasn’t exactly sure why she was so nervous… maybe it was asking Nicole to pick her up when she could drive herself, maybe it was how distant she had been recently, even though she hadn’t meant to be or wanted to be.   

But it was Nicole.  Nicole was always there for her and always understood.  She didn’t need to be nervous.

But how many times could Nicole understand, how many times could she be there for her?  Waverly kept messing up, kept pushing her away. She knew she needed to get her shit together and stop doing that soon, before she pushed Nicole away one too many times.  

Taking a deep breath, she swallowed her nerves and found Nicole’s contact.  

“Waves, is everything alright?”  Waverly flinched slightly at Nicole’s worried tone.  She didn’t mean to cause any hurt or concern about her.  

“Everything’s fine.  I just— I don’t want to be alone tonight and Shorty wants to make sure I’m with someone and not lying to him otherwise I would have just asked if I could come over and I don’t want to put you out or make you go out of your way but would it possible for you to come pick me up?”  Waverly knew she was rambling, and yet there seemed to be nothing she could do to stop the word vomit from spewing out.  

“Of course, baby,” her girlfriend answered softly over the phone, the inflection in her voice filled with love.  “I’ll be there soon. Just give me some time to get dressed and head over. Should be about twenty minutes, if that’s okay?”

“Of course, thank you so much, Nicole, I’m so sorry—”

“Baby, you know you never have to apologize for asking me anything.  I’m here for you whatever you need, I promise.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.  I love you,” Nicole told her before hanging up.  

Waverly stayed in the back for a few minutes, sitting on an overturned box, her mind seeming to be everywhere and nowhere all at once.  Finally, after about fifteen minutes of avoiding Shorty and his looks , Waverly head back out to the main bar area.  

“She heading over?” Shorty questioned, not looking up from the glass he was polishing.  

“Yes,” Waverly said exasperatedly.  She appreciated Shorty, all he did for her, and how much he cared about her, but sometimes it felt a little like smothering.  The short, older man grunted in response, still not looking up from the glass.

When Nicole finally pulled up outside the bar a few minutes later, Waverly got up from the bar stool she had stationed herself at to head out the door.  

“Wait.  I want to talk to her.”  

Shorty .”  

“Let her come in,” he told her, no room for argument in his voice.  

Waverly just rolled her eyes, sitting back down on the stool with a huff.  She felt like a teenager again. She watched as Nicole exited the car, heading towards her.  

“Officer Haught,” Shorty greeted her before either woman had a chance to say anything.  

“Hello, Shorty.  I’m off duty, please call me Nicole.”  She said graciously, a charming smile lighting up her face.  Waverly found herself staring, marveling at how adorable— beautiful, really— her girlfriend was.

“Well, Nicole, I just wanted to make sure Waverly isn’t going to be alone tonight,” he raised his eyebrows, almost as though challenging the redhead.  

“I’ll make sure she’s safe and taken care of, sir,” Nicole nodded, standing impossibly straight with her hands at her side.  Waverly just rolled her eyes. Maybe she was a teenager again.  

“Relax, Nic.  It’s just Shorty,” Waverly said with a huff.  She felt as though Shorty was treating her like a child.  And again, she understood why, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.  “Can we go now?” Waverly began walking towards the door without waiting for an answer.  

“I’ll see you around, Shorty?”  She heard Nicole say.

“Yes.  And thank you, Nicole.”

“Of course.  Anytime.” Nicole said, finally turning to follow Waverly out the door.   At this point the brunette was already at the car door, waiting somewhat impatiently for it to be unlocked.  When it finally was and Nicole started up the car, Waverly sighed, trying to release the tension of the past few days.  

“I’m sorry,” she started.  

“Waves, really it’s—”

“No, Nicole, just please listen to me.  I’ve been pushing you away because I felt guilty.  I felt like Wynonna leaving again was my fault.  And then I guess maybe I was thinking that if you weren’t here it wouldn’t be a problem.  If we weren’t together, maybe she would still be here.”

“Waverly, what are you saying?”  The brown eyes brimmed with tears, her melodic voice cracking as she gasped in a sharp intake of breath.  

“No, Nicole, just— just listen, please.  I’m not breaking up with you. I’m saying I thought those things, but then I realized.  I realized that with you I’m happy .  That I wouldn’t trade being with you for anything.  It took me too long to realize that, to let you in, and I know now I wouldn’t change choosing to be with you.  Wynonna has left me my whole life. She’s had her reasons, and I can’t blame her. But it’s what she does best; she leaves.  I love her— she’s my sister. But she’s going to have to accept that we’re together, that I’m happy with you. So I’m sorry I’ve been pushing you away for the past couple of days because— well, because I choose you, Nicole.  I do. I choose you.”

“Waverly.”  The tears were falling from Nicole’s eyes now, hot and wet, but Waverly felt as though they were falling for a different reason now— a better one.  She pulled Waverly’s face towards her own, pressing her lips against hers in a kiss filled with meaning, passion, love .  “I choose you too.”

Chapter Text

This was heaven.  

The living room of the homestead was darkened, the only light coming from the dim glow of the flickering television screen.  It was only seven in the evening, the winter hours still darkening the sky early these days, but the light was slowly lasting longer and longer each day.

As Nicole thought this, she felt as though that applied to her and Waverly as well.  Waverly still had her dark moments, where she got inside her head, and Nicole could tell when she went there.  There was a distance and a darkness in her eyes, sometimes only for a fleeting moment, but it was there.

These past few weeks especially, though, Nicole was seeing less and less of the darkness, the pain in her eyes.  In a sense, the light seemed to be lasting longer and longer. Sure, there had been an understandable set-back a week ago when Wynonna walked out, but Nicole could tell Waverly was feeling more— feeling happy , even.  

She smiled down at the figure curled at her side, snoring softly— yes, snoring .  Waverly always got very defensive if Nicole ever mentioned her snores, claiming that she never snored.  One day, she would take a video of her as proof , but today, Nicole was content to trail her fingers up and down Waverly’s back, watching as she slept peacefully, unworried.  

Nicole felt her heart swelling at the sight.  She loved this girl more than anything in the world.  She was stubborn and infuriating and sometimes a mess but a beautiful mess and she couldn’t imagine her life without her.  

If she were being honest with herself, there was a moment— well, she was trying to be honest with herself, so there were several moments actually— when she considered it might not be worth it.  Nicole cringed inwardly at the thought, the idea that if she had just given up one of the many times she wanted to, they may not be where they are now. She might not be holding Waverly in her arms, Waverly might still be in the same place she was in a few months ago, Nicole might not know… this.  Life with Waverly. And life with Waverly was definitely something she didn’t want to not know; something she could really get used.

Waverly stirred a bit in her sleep, snuggling up further against Nicole.  She grumbled a bit, stretching her legs and arms out on the couch and over Nicole.  Her eyelids began to flutter slightly as Waverly began to regain consciousness.

“Hey, sleepyhead,” Nicole smiled down at her girlfriend.  She chuckled as Waverly continued stretching out on her lap, facing up towards her, crinkling her nose.  “You were snoring, baby,” she teased.

“Was not ,” Waverly pretended to be offended.  She settled back, relaxing her limbs and staring up at Nicole.  

“Were too.”

“You’re insufferable .”

“Really?  Calling me insufferable?”

“Well you are…”

“Sure, but you usually say that when you think I’m being cocky.”

“You’re always cocky, babe.”

“Mmmm, but you know that’s not what I mean,” Nicole winked.  She loved this easy flirting and banter they had— it felt comfortable and perfect and normal .  

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Waverly responded coyly.  She turned over and folded her legs underneath her, kneeling on the couch next to Nicole.  She leaned forward to press a chaste kiss to Nicole’s lips, placing a hand seemingly innocently right on Nicole’s center, though the redhead knew it was very strategic.  She drew a breath in sharply at the contact, feeling Waverly’s lips lift in a small smirk at her reaction.  

Baby ,” Nicole pleaded, not quite sure what she was begging for.  

“You know what?” Waverly sat back, her hand now retreating to Nicole’s knee, drawing light circles over the jeans.  

“What?” She asked somewhat breathlessly, still a little distracted.

“I want you to guess.”

Baby .”

“Come on.”

“I have no idea, honestly.  But does it have a… happy ending, maybe?” Nicole asked, raising an eyebrow suggestively.

“Maybe…”

“Mmmm, then I’m very excited to find out.”

“You should be,” Waverly winked at Nicole, getting up from the couch to kneel in front of her.  

“What are you doing, baby?” She bit her bottom lip, her core clenching in anticipation.  

“Nicole,” Waverly warned, quirking an eyebrow.   The redhead rolled her eyes goodnaturedly.

“Really?”

Please .”  Ugh, the pout .  Waverly could always get her with the pout.  

“What are you doing, princess ?”  Nicole amended.  Waverly licked her lips and smirked.  

“Well, I was thinking…” she ran her hands up and down Nicole’s thighs.  

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you that’s dangerous for a woman?” Nicole teased, adopting a cheesy old-timey accent.  

Nicole ,” Waverly warned, her fingers digging a little bit deeper into her thighs.  

“Sorry, princess.  You were saying?"

“I was thinking about everything you do for me,” Waverly unbuttoned Nicole’s jeans, “about how you’re always there for me,” she pulled the jeans down as Nicole lifted her hips in an effort to help her, “how you always take care of me and put my needs first,” she threw the jeans off to the side, her fingers trailing back up Nicole’s calves, behind her knees, “and I want to be the one to take care of you now.”

Baby ,” Nicole moaned out, earning a glare from Waverly and a tight grip around her knee cap.  Even before they had sex the first time, Nicole had sort of suspected that Waverly was… well, kinky, to say the least.  But she was a little surprised at just how kinky Waverly was— not in a bad way at all.  A very, very good type of surprised. And apparently, ‘princess’ was the nickname that got Waverly very much into the mood— since Nicole called her that the week prior, Waverly had wanted Nicole to call her that whenever they were having sex.  Which, in the past five days especially, was a lot. But again, it was not as though Nicole minded in the slightest.  She loved their sex life. Waverly was insatiable and always wanted her— she wanted her hard and rough and soft and sweet and at least three times a day.  A part of her wondered if her girlfriend had always been this kinky and active in her sex life or was she just comfortable enough with Nicole to act on her desires, but now was not the time for wondering about this.

Princess ,” she corrected quickly, her own desire increasing at the combination of the her calling Waverly that and her girlfriends darkening pupils.

“Take off your shirt,” Waverly commanded, her eyes glinting mischievously.  

“Taking control, princess?” Nicole teased her.  

“I’m taking care of you, babe.  Now, the shirt.” Nicole felt her abs twitch as Waverly ran her fingers lightly just above the top of her boy shorts.  She bit back a moan as she quickly pulled her shirt over her head. “Bra too, babe.” Nicole wasted no time in reaching behind her back, unclasping her bra and throwing it to the corner where Waverly had thrown her jeans.  

Waverly’s hand traveled up Nicole’s stomach, her entire body responding to the touch.  She kneaded her breasts and Nicole felt her nipples harden, her back arching towards Waverly’s hands, desperate for more .  Nicole’s hips rolled slightly on the couch against her dampened underwear.   

Waverly stared up at Nicole intently, still kneeling between her legs on the floor in front of her, watching her facial expressions as her hands kneaded her breasts, her fingers pinched her nipples.  Desire shot to her core every time Waverly rolled her nipples between her finger and thumb. Nicole wanted to watch Waverly watching her, but her desire and pleasure was becoming too much, so she threw her head back and closed her eyes, moaning in want and need.  

Waves ,” Nicole moaned.  

“Yes?”  She sounded so innocent, but Nicole was not fooled.

Fuck , baby,” Nicole moaned, her back arching even more against Waverly’s hands as she pinched the hardened peaks roughly.

Nicole couldn’t help it; she heard herself whimper .

“You always take care of me, babe. You always turn me into this quivering mess of need and I just want to do the same for you.”  A hand left her breast, a finger trailed softly along the drenched center of her underwear, flicking up at the end against her clit.  Nicole gasped, bucking her hips into the finger, desperate for friction.

“I want you to feel good.”  Waverly leaned forward, her tongue swiping up the already soaked fabric, causing Nicole’s body to jolt at the feeling.  Her lips soon found Nicole’s clit through the underwear and she began sucking.

“Princess, please, ” Nicole found herself begging, desperate for more.

“Yes, babe?” Waverly asked, trying to seem innocent, sitting back and staring at Nicole with wide eyes. She groaned in desperation, her hips canting up of their own accord, searching for the missing friction of Waverly’s lips, even through the underwear, wanting more.

Nicole opened her eyes back up and watched Waverly for a moment, trying to read what she wanted.  She sat on her folded in legs, hands on her knees, looking expectantly at Nicole, waiting .  Nicole thought she understood what Waverly wanted, so she quirked an eyebrow in question, to which Waverly responded with a wink.  

Fiercely strong and independent everywhere else, Nicole had discovered that in bed, Waverly loved being told what to do or what was going to be done to her.  Dirty talk and control was a simple way to get Waverly to start squirming with need and damn, was it hot .  She knew now that Waverly was teasing her, silently daring her to take back control, to make her make Nicole feel good.

“Take my underwear off, princess,” Nicole instructed, earning a smile from Waverly, who quickly did as she was told, peeling the soaked underwear off of Nicole’s dripping center, watching as the fluids stretched between her core and the fabric, finally snapping off against her thigh, drenching her upper legs in her own arousal.

Waverly tossed the boy shorts into the pile along with Nicole’s other clothing with a smirk.

“Tell me, Nic,” Waverly ran her fingers up Nicole’s inner thigh, gathering her fluids. “Tell me what you want me to do.”  Waverly sucked her wet fingers into her mouth, a blissful look appearing on her face as she tasted Nicole. Her cheeks hollowed as she sucked as much of Nicole from her fingers as she was able, finally releasing her fingers with a pop .

“I want you to lick me.”  Nicole knew that Waverly wanted her to be authoritative, but her attempt at a command just came out as a desperate plea.

Nonetheless, Waverly wasted no time, sucking at the lips of Nicole’s sex and swiping her tongue up and down her slit.  Nicole weaved her fingers through the brunette locks, pulling her face closer to her center and she bucked her hips against her girlfriend’s eager mouth.  Waverly, however, didn’t give any attention to where she knew Nicole needed it most, continuing to swipe her tongue along the slit.

“Don’t tease, princess,” Nicole managed to gulp out the words, “make me come.”  Waverly latched her lips around the hard bundle of nerves at the top of her center, sucking roughy as she flicked the nub with her tongue.  “ Fuck, baby .”  Nicole’s hips bucked up against Waverly’s face, her thighs tightening around her.   She felt the pressure building within her, tightening in the pit of her stomach, her wet pussy grinding against her girlfriend’s face.  

“D— don’t stop, princess,” Nicole breathed, head thrown back over the couch and eyes closed.  She wanted to watch as Waverly worked her magic but the pleasure was too much. Her hands pulled at the brunette’s hair, pushing her further into her center as the pressure exploded inside her in a blinding light.  The orgasm shook through her body as she lay back, spent.

“That was fun.”  Waverly kissed the inside of Nicole’s thighs softly, staring up at her, still kneeling between her thighs, come glistening on her face.   Nicole smoothed Waverly’s hair back gently, looking at her soft face with love.

They were so lost in each other, in the moment, that neither of them seemed to notice— especially Nicole— the door to the homestead opening, the footsteps entering the homestead.  

“What the actual fuck , guys?”  A voice yelled from the doorway to the living room.  Nicole’s eyes flew open in shock, her head snapping up to see the eldest Earp sister standing in front of them, her hand covering her eyes.  

“Wynonna?” Waverly asked, her voice sounding small, shocked, unsure.  Nicole looked over at her, still kneeling in front of her, not moving and seemingly in shock.  In was in this moment that Nicole realized she was completely naked— Waverly was fully clothed, Nicole never having gotten the chance to take anything off her.   Quickly, she grabbed the blanket on the other side of the couch, holding it over as much of her as she was able.

Waverly finally stood up, self-consciously wiping the wetness on her face with her sleeve, tentatively walking over to where Wynonna still stood, eyes covered, but facing away from the living room and, by proxy, Nicole’s naked body.  

Nicole watched as Waverly gingerly touched Wynonna’s shoulder, her small touches leading her over to the front door, giving her the silent go ahead to remove her hand from where it covered her eyes.  The last thing Nicole heard before the two exited the homestead, before she finally got recovered from her shock enough to gather her clothes and put them on, was Wynonna yelling out again.

“My goddamn couch ?”

Chapter Text

“What the actual fuck , guys?”  Waverly’s head jolted up at the unexpected sound of her sister’s voice yelling from the doorway to the living room.  

Shit.  

Of course.  Wynonna left without a word for a whole week , and this was the moment she had decided to come back.  

To be fair, there were many moments over the course of the last five days that would have proved rather… inopportune for Wynonna to walk in on.  

But still.   Now?  When she was still kneeling between Nicole’s thighs, her head buried in her center while on the couch in the living room of all places, now was the moment she walked in on them?

“Wynonna?” Waverly ventured.  She could hear her voice; it sounded  small, shocked, unsure. Out of the corner of her eye, she vaguely registered Nicole grabbing the blanket from the couch to cover herself.  

A million thoughts seemed to erupt in her mind all at once, spiraling and spinning out of control.  

Why was Wynonna back?  Was Wynonna still mad? Was she mad at Wynonna?  Did Wynonna have an explanation for why she left?  Did she realize what she was doing, the pain she was causing Waverly by not reaching out, by just leaving like that, again?

The questions pounding against her skull, Waverly finally stood up, self-consciously wiping the wetness on her face with her sleeve.  She didn’t want to feel embarrassed , per se, but she was.  And while it killed her that she felt embarrassed of what she had been doing with Nicole, because she didn’t want to feel embarrassed of Nicole of all people, she tried to tell herself that it was just because Wynonna had caught them, and if she had caught Waverly with anyone she would have the same shamed reaction.

Of course, this is what always happened with her.  Embarrassed of her own embarrassment.

Gently, Waverly touched Wynonna’s shoulder, gingerly leading her over to the front door, trying to let her know it was okay to remove her hand from where it covered her eyes.  Finally, as they walked out the door to the front porch, Wynonna opened her eyes, looking at Waverly with what seemed to be an almost hurt expression.

“My goddamn couch ?!” Wynonna cried; Waverly cringed.  

“I’m sorry,” she said, looking down.  But wait— was she sorry?  Wynonna was the one who walked out; Wynonna was the one who hurt her.  Why was she apologizing?

“So…” Wynonna started, seeming to be thinking hard about what to say.  Her hands were stuffed in the pockets of her leather jacket and she rolled back on her heels, looking anywhere but at Waverly.  “Nicole, huh?”

For some reason, when Wynonna asked this simple question, obviously trying to mend bridges between the two, something in Waverly snapped.

“Yeah, Wynonna.   Nicole ,” Waverly said shortly, fists clenched at her sides and eyes narrowed, almost challenging her sister to say something.

She didn’t deserve to have that judgmental tone, to question Waverly’s happiness like this.   She was the one who kept leaving, who kept hurting Waverly, whether or not she meant to.   Then, in a small voice, so low she almost couldn’t hear it, Wynonna whispered an inquiry.  

“Was it the jokes?”  

“What?”  Waverly’s fists unclenched, her voice lost the edge of anger it held only a moment before as her brow furrowed in confusion.  What was she talking about, was it the jokes?   What did that even mean?  

“Is that why?”  Wynonna looked down as though ashamed.  

“Wynonna, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  Waverly rolled her eyes, throwing her hands up in exasperation.  She was getting tired of this back and forth, of Wynonna just not saying what she actually meant, of having to guess and being unsure, of Wynonna leaving and Waverly never being quite sure why .   Wynonna just closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath before opening her eyes again and staring at her with a saddened expression.  

“Is that why you didn’t tell me?  Why you couldn't? Because I kept joking about it?”  Realization started to dawn on Waverly, the understanding growing as Wynonna continued speaking.  “Because I didn’t— fuck, well I mean, I— Jesus Christ, I just fucking got you something, alright?  Well, actually, I got me something, but for you.” Wynonna blew out a breath through her lips. “Just look.”

She began to unbutton her leather jacket, something Waverly hadn’t realized was buttoned, but now that she thought about it, it was odd.  Her jacket was never buttoned normally, no matter the weather.  It could be negative ten degrees out and Wynonna still wouldn’t button her jacket up.  Also, there was usually a bottle of whiskey hanging out of the pocket, whereas today it was… apple juice?  But that was beside the point. So Waverly decided to wait and see what she was doing before speaking up again.  

When Wynonna finally revealed the shirt underneath the black leather, Waverly was completely taken aback.  She wasn’t sure exactly what she had been expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this.

“I know you said you weren’t gay, but honestly this was the only shirt I could find like this and I thought you’d get the idea, you know?”  Wynonna explained, holding open her jacket to reveal a black shirt with white bubble letters. The last word, however, was written in rainbow bubble letters.  It read: ‘She’s my sister who cares if she’s gay?’ Wynonna looked up sheepishly, as though waiting for a reaction from Waverly.

“Wy—” Waverly started, unsure of where she was going with it, what she was going to say.  She could tell Wynonna was trying, that she was putting in an effort at least, but she wasn’t sure how she felt still about her leaving like she did, about everything that happened.  

“No, wait,” Wynonna held up two fingers as a gesture to stop her from speaking anymore.  “I really am sorry if you felt like you couldn’t tell me, like I would be weird about it or hate you or something or fuck, I don’t know.  I was making all those jokes because it was obvious that she liked you, but I just didn’t think— it doesn’t matter, honestly. The point is, I just didn’t fucking think .  And, I mean, I guess I must have made you feel like I thought it was stupid and not right or something but I don't think that.  I don’t care if Nicole has a vagina or a penis or boobs or looks like a fucking Ken doll. Even if she’s a straight-edged uptight flatfoot, if she makes you happy, then I’m good with it.  I think I’ve told you before, you could do worse.”

Waverly couldn’t help it; she couldn’t stop the tears from cascading down her face, soundless and hot.  

“Wynonna…” she managed to croak, reaching a hand out to grab her sister’s.  

“Ah, fuck, did I say something wrong again? “ Wynonna looked disheartened, defeated, but still closed the space between her and Waverly’s hands.  Waverly could feel her sister shaking slightly— she had never known her sister to be scared of anything and yet now she seemed terrified.  Terrified about this confrontation with Waverly, about speaking to her. Is that why she had left, why she hadn’t answered her phone, why she had run away as she had?  

“No, I just… you don’t usually manage to string that many words together.   I’m the one known for rambling.”  Waverly gave a soft smile, squeezing Wynonna’s hand in comfort.  The older sister gave a short, relieved laugh.

“Does this mean you forgive me?”

“Just talk to me next time, Wy.  Just talk to me. Don’t run away like that.”  She did forgive her, she did. But for some reason the anger was coursing through her yet again.  Waverly didn’t want to be mad at Wynonna— she knew that sometimes she got scared, that she didn’t know how to handle her emotions properly, and she ran.  That was just what she did. But Wynonna came back, Wynonna was apologizing, Waverly shouldn’t be mad at her.  And yet, she was.  “You can’t just run away after I tell you something like that.  You can’t stop showing up to your job for a week, you can’t just not answer your phone or anything.  You can’t not talk to me.  I was freaking out about telling you for the longest time because you leave, Wynonna.  That’s what you do when things get hard and I didn’t want to lose you again. And guess what you did?  You left .  You can’t do that to me, it’s not fair.  So next time, for the love of God, just talk to me.  Please.” Waverly finally finished her tirade.  She realized that her fists were balled at her sides, that she was no longer holding on to Wynonna’s hand.  Apparently, she had let it go at some point during her heated exchange without having even realized it.

“You’re right.” Wynonna whispered softly.  Waverly was taken aback for a second, not quite sure what she had expected to hear, but she didn’t really think it was that.  She knew she was right, or at least she felt like she knew it, but she wasn’t sure if she had actually expected Wynonna to admit that, to agree with her.  Waverly felt her body soften, the tension released from her frame as she sighed softly.

“Now it’s cold as balls out here, Wy.  Can we please go inside now?”

“Yeah, baby girl.  But uh… just one thing.”

“Sure.”

“For the love of all that is good and holy in this world and for my own goddamn sanity, not on my couch.  I like to sit on there and watch TV and I don’t know if I can do that if I know what shenanigans you get up to on it.”  Wynonna made a show of putting on a disgusted face.

“I’ll do my best, Wynonna, but no promises,” Waverly answered slyly.  

“No promises?” Wynonna sputtered.  

“Well my bedroom is all the way up the stairs and you know, sometimes we just can’t make—”

“NO.  STOP. MY EARS ARE BURNING.  I CAN’T,” Wynonna shouted, covering her ears with the heels of her palms.  She screwed her eyes shut tight and starting making loud sounds in a playful show to demonstrate just how much she didn’t want to hear this.  Finally, after about thirty seconds, Wynonna stopped her little show, giving Waverly a challenging look before turning to head inside. Waverly, however, decided she wasn’t done having her bit of fun and scurried up behind the taller sister, standing on her tiptoes to whispered in her ear.  

“Don’t worry, though.  I don’t let her call me baby girl in bed— just princess.”

“FUCKING HELL WOMAN, I SAID I WAS SORRY.  WHY DO YOU HATE ME?” Wynonna screamed in frustration as she entered the homestead.  Waverly followed closely behind, grinning mischievously. She noticed Nicole peering over at them from the couch where she still sat, thankfully now fully clothed.  Waverly was slightly regretting her comment to Wynonna, especially since Nicole was the first thing she saw walking into the homestead, but she had to admit it had been too good of an opportunity to pass up.  Plus, Wynonna owed her one. More than one— she owed her a lot. This was her little way of getting payback.

“Nicole,” Wynonna said stiffly, flinching, no doubt unable to get what Waverly had said out of her mind.  

“Wynonna,” the redhead answered cautiously.  She looked between the two women, seeming to gauge their expressions and evaluate their body language.  When she determined that the two sisters were on good terms again, she seemed to relax a bit, but she still eyed the older sister with uncertainty.  

“It’s okay, Nicole,” Waverly whispered reassuringly, walking over to sit by the ginger on the couch.  Wynonna still stood in the doorway of the living room, arms crossed as she leaned against the door jam.  

“It’s not,” Nicole whispered, grabbing Waverly’s hands and squeezing them.  Waverly looked into the soft brown eyes, brimming with emotion, pleading with her almost.  Pleading with her to not be so complacent, to not accept Wynonna’s apology without a second thought.  But that wasn’t what had happened, and while she knew Nicole just wanted what was best for her, she didn’t understand the entirety of the situation.  

“It is,” Waverly answered, making sure to place a note of finality in her voice.  Nicole finally relented, nodding slightly and loosening her grip on Waverly’s hands, but not letting go.

“Time for the shovel-talk?” Wynonna finally spoke up from the doorway.  

“You’re one to talk,” Nicole rolled her eyes.  

“Fair enough.  But you hurt her at all, Haughtshit, and I’ll have to kill you.  Just the way things go.”

“Same goes for you, Earp.”

“Guess I deserved that.  But I wouldn’t expect anything less.”  Wynonna nodded to the two women, taking her leave into the kitchen.  

Waverly smiled, leaning into Nicole, whose strong arms wrapped tightly around her.

So this was what happiness felt like.  

Chapter Text

Dolls was the worst.  

The worst .  The absolute worst .  

He was completely full of himself and yet at the same time still managed to have room to be full of shit as well.  

No, that was a lie.  He wasn’t full of shit.  As much as Nicole couldn’t stand his smug attitude, his belief that he was better than everyone else, better than her , specifically, she had to admit she had a grudging respect for the guy.  Emphasis on grudging.

Dolls knew how to do his job and he knew how to do it well.  What bothered Nicole was his arrogance, his insistance that this was his crime scene and she wasn’t allowed to even step foot in it.  It was just really his overall attitude.

Nicole didn’t get it.  It didn’t make sense to her.  Wynonna could be on the crime scenes because— because why?  She didn’t have any formal training or any solid reasoning that she should be there that Nicole knew of, at least.  And while Nicole liked Wynonna (for the most part) and had respect for her (to an extent), she didn’t understand why she, with formal police training, was restricted from crime scenes in the town she was deputy Sheriff for while Wynonna, town drunk and, with all do respect, fuck-up was able to walk onto without a problem.  

Nicole stopped herself.  She wasn’t upset with Wynonna.  Not really. It was Dolls who she really had an issue with.  She was angry at everyone right now, to be honest, and she just needed the night to collect herself, to blow off some steam.  She just wanted to hang out and there was a part of her that felt guilty for it, but she just wanted to chill with Lonnie or Jeremy and be able to be pissed.  Not that Waverly wouldn’t let her be pissed, but it was a delicate situation, Wynonna being her sister and all.

Nicole looked at the clock.  It was four o’clock on a Sunday and the place was dead.  No one seemed to like to commit crimes on Sunday, so there was really nothing for her to do.   Lonnie had the day off and the rookie patrol man (no longer her) was out on rounds, so she was alone in the station.  She had an hour left on her shift and Nicole was ready for it to be over.  She picked up her phone to start messaging people, having nothing better to do with her time.  

Nicole: Hey baby, I’m going to see if Lonnie or Jeremy want to hang out tonight.  It’s been a rough day and I just need to blow off some steam so if you’re trying to get ahold of me, I don’t want you to worry if I don’t answer.

Geez, Nicole, why the long text?  Why did she feel guilty, like she needed to explain herself?  

It was because of her misplaced anger with Wynonna that she felt guilty.  She knew she shouldn’t be angry at her and given the delicate situation with Wynonna and Waverly, she didn’t want to cause problems that shouldn’t be caused.  

She proceeded then to call Jeremy and Lonnie, both of whom apologized profusely, saying that they were not available that night.  By the time she hung-up with Lonnie, Waverly still hadn’t responded, so she sent another quick text. She was kicking herself about the double text but she already sent one long-ass one, so why not two?

Nicole: They’re both busy tonight so I’m just going to crash at home.  Had a bad day, so again, sorry if I’m not the best at responding.  

Nicole sighed.  She could feel herself shutting down again and she tried , she tried not to do that anymore, like she had done so many times before, but sometimes she just couldn’t help herself.  She wanted to open up, to let Waverly in, but it was hard for her. Still, she had let Waverly in farther than she had anyone else before.  Even in her past relationships, she wasn’t able to let anyone break down her walls fully— until Waverly. It was incredible the power she had over her— Nicole’s defenses usually went up automatically, but with Waverly, they never seemed to.  Her brain told her to keep those walls up, to not give in, to comfort, but not be comforted, but the message never computed when she was with Waverly.

An hour later, she still didn’t have a response from Waverly and it was time for her to clock out and head back home.  She couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that Waverly hadn’t responded, but she did have a life of her own, and wasn’t this what Nicole had wanted?  To not have to talk to her tonight, to avoid saying something about Wynonna she didn’t want to say?

Eventually, she pulled onto the street where her rented house was located, shocked and a little unnerved when she saw the lights already on in the apartment, a car parked in the drive.  She slowed her own car to a crawl as she approached, her right hand loosening its grip on the wheel, ready to reach over for her gun in the glove compartment if needed.

When she recognized the car, though, she relaxed a sense of relief flooding through her.  She parked her car and made her way to the front door.

“Waves?”  She called out in the house, shrugging off her coat and hanging it up in the closet.  A delicious smell wafted through the house and Nicole felt her stomach rumble, clawing at her insides.  She hadn’t realized just how hungry she was. She made her way to the kitchen where the most perfect sight she had ever seen met her eyes.

Waverly stood in front of the stove, stirring a huge pot as her hips swayed, Nicole assumed in time with the music playing in the earbuds she wore.  Her loose skirt rippled and swayed against her toned legs as she hummed a tune. Nicole leaned against the doorway, arms folded against her chest as a smile played on her lips.  

She knew why she didn’t want to see Waverly tonight, because of her having had a bad day and her misplaced anger towards her sister, but seeing the brunette now, here, Nicole couldn’t help but wonder why she had ever thought that.  After watching for a minute as Wavelry swayed, hummed, and stirred, Nicole finally decided to come up behind her and place her hands on her hips. Waverly jumped a bit, startled, before relaxing into the touch and leaning her head against Nicole’s shoulder, looking up with a smile.  

“Hey baby,” Nicole whispered, pressing her lips gently against Waverly’s forehead.  

“Hhmmm,” Waverly hummed in satisfaction, taking the earbuds out and shutting off the music on her phone.  Waverly turned around in Nicole’s embrace, running her hands along her arms, licking her lips when she trailed her fingers along Nicole’s forearms, exposed from where the redhead had rolled up her uniform sleeves to the elbows.  

“Have I ever told you how hot you are?” Waverly asked in awe, the tips of her fingers ghosting the definition of her forearms.  

“You know, I can’t say I recall you mentioning it…” Nicole teased her a bit, squeezing the brunette’s hips gently and pulling her closer.   She sighed as she felt Waverly’s hands travel back up her arms, resting on her shoulders and clasping behind her neck. She was smiling softly at the shorter girl, perfectly content in where they were, when she saw Waverly’s brow crease.

“Is it… is it okay that I’m here?”  She asked, concerned.

“Of course, baby.  I told you, you’re always welcome here.”

“I just… I wanted to make sure,” Waverly bit her lip, not meeting Nicole’s eyes.  

“Baby— always .  There’s no need to ask or make excuses or explain anything.”

“Okay, well, I’m just to going to explain anyways,” Waverly said quickly.  

“Waves—” Nicole tried to stop her, but her girlfriend cut her off.  

“Nope.  Please let me explain,” she pleaded.  

“Alright, then.  It doesn’t make a difference though,” Nicole assured her.  

“Okay, well, it’s just I got those texts and I know you said you wanted to be alone tonight, but I mean, I’m your girlfriend and I want to be here for you when you need someone.  I know that when I say I want to be alone, that’s when I shouldn’t, so I wanted to make you some food and maybe offer you company if you want it. I made you macaroni and cheese and baked chicken because I know you like those for comfort foods, and I also got your favorite beer from the liquor store, and once the food is done I’ll wash all the dishes, too.  If you still don’t want company, I’ll leave right after I finish washing the dishes, but I know you’re stressed and you work hard and you’ve had a particularly rough day, but I just wanted to make it a bit easier for you.” Waverly explained quickly, seemingly all in one breath. Nicole just stared at her, not quite sure what to say. She was completely in awe of the fact that this was her girlfriend, that just from two short texts a little bit ago Waverly decided to drop whatever she had been doing and put this together for her , for Nicole .  

“Oh, God, I’m sorry Nicole, I overstepped.  I’ll just—” Waverly started to pull away, but Nicole held her in place by the hips, not letting her move until the green eyes finally met hers again, her bottom lip still worrying between her teeth.  

“You.  Are. Extraordinary,”  Nicole whispered in reverence.  While Nicole prided herself on her confident exterior, she had to admit that inside she did have some doubts about herself and it still shocked her that someone as smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous as Waverly Earp liked her— and that she liked her enough to do something like this for her.  

“So it’s… okay that I’m here?”

“Always, baby.  Thank you. More than you know, thank you.”  Nicole said sincerely. She pressed a soft kiss to Waverly’s lips, pulling her hips closer as the brunette let out a soft sigh, weaving her fingers through the short red curls at the base of Nicole’s neck.

“Mmmmm I could kiss you forever, but I don’t want to burn the mac and cheese,” Waverly whispered, giving Nicole a quick peck before wriggling out of her arms and heading back over to the stove.    

“I could get used to this, you know,” Nicole smirked as she watched her woman work.  

“Yeah, maybe don’t get too used it.  Special occasions, you know,” Waverly looked over her shoulder and winked at her.  “Now, go take a shower. You’re super sexy when you’re sweaty, but it’ll at least probably help you relax.”

“Okay….” Nicole conceded, starting to head out of the kitchen, “But I can think of a few other activities that would probably help me relax as well…” Nicole muttered suggestively, staring at Waverly’s backside, her eye level a little lower than what would be considered socially acceptable if they were to be out in public.  

“Go on and shower, you pervert,” Waverly teased.  Nicole stayed for a minute, watching her girlfriend mill about her kitchen as though she lived there, checking the chicken in the oven as the mac and cheese simmered on the stove, and Nicole realized she really could get used to this.  Waverly, in her home, feeling comfortable and at ease— maybe even one day it would be their home.  

She wasn’t sure how she could have ever gotten this lucky.  

* * * * * *

The next morning, the two lay in Nicole’s bed, Waverly still snoring softly, completely naked from the activities of the previous night.  Nicole watched as Waverly’s shoulders lifted gently with her breathing. She trailed her fingers gently over the soft skin of her upper arms, making her way down until Nicole reached Waverly’s hand, tracing the long, slender fingers lightly.  

Waverly let out a contented sigh, wiggling her body until her back was completely flush against Nicole’s front, weaving her fingers through Nicole’s and pulling the redhead’s hand around her body, letting her know she was awake.  

“Morning, beautiful,” Nicole whispered in her ear, earning a smile from the sleepy girl.  Nicole squeezed her gently, wrapping Waverly in her arms and holding tight. “Thank you for last night, seriously.  I needed that.”

“Do you want to talk about what happened?” Waverly muttered, still not opening her eyes completely.  

“It wasn’t anything, really,” Nicole told her.  She didn’t want to ruin this moment— it was just them and she was happy .  She didn’t want the real world getting in the way of that.  “Just a bad day, that’s all.”

“Nic— oh ,” Waverly started to question her again, but it was cut off with a sound that was something between a sigh and a moan as Nicole released her hand from Waverly’s grip and trailed it down her stomach.  

“Yes, baby?” Nicole tried to sound innocent, but she knew exactly what she was doing.  

“This isn’t fair,” Waverly groaned.  Her hips jumped as Nicole brushed along them.  

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Nicole whispered, her lips against the juncture between Waverly’s neck and shoulder.  Her hand travelled lower, tracing along her thigh, gently caressing the raised skin as Nicole became distracted from her original goal.  

“Nicole,” Waverly sighed, seeming to understand where Nicole’s mind had gone and wanting to get her back on track.  

“How have you been doing?”  Nicole questioned, fingers still tracing the scars covering Waverly’s thighs.  

“I’d be better if you’d put your hand somewhere more useful,” Waverly tried to kid, but her voice held a note of uncertainty.  

“No, but seriously, baby.  How have you been doing?” Nicole asked again.  Waverly was avoiding the question and that concerned her.  What if Waverly hadn’t been doing okay? Was she still hurting herself and Nicole just hadn't noticed?  She tried to check sometimes without Waverly knowing she was checking, but usually when she was able to do that she was… well, distracted.  She could have been using makeup to cover up or something, or maybe she just wasn’t feeling right.  Nicole should have been checking in more often, should have known something was wrong.  But she hadn’t been. She thought that Waverly was doing better, but if she was avoiding her question like this, maybe she was wrong.

“Nicole,” Waverly sighed again, tensing under Nicole’s touch, “Do we have to do this right now?”

“Are you… are not okay?  Is therapy not helping anymore?  Do you need something from me?” Nicole was spiraling.  She knew she was spiraling, but she tried to keep everything in check so Waverly wouldn’t necessarily know she was spiraling as much as she was.  

“Nic…” Waverly turned around on the bed so she was laying on her other side, facing Nicole.  She raised a hand to push a strand of red hair out of Nicole’s face, tucking it behind her ear and trailing her fingers down her jawline.  “I’m good.”

“Yeah?” Nicole couldn’t tell which was more evident in her voice: the hope or the skepticism.

“Yes, babe.  I promise. You know I have a hard time talking about what I’m feeling, good or bad, but I’m working on it.  I promise. But I—” Waverly closed her eyes for a the briefest moment, taking a deep breath, her thumb drawing light circles on Nicole’s cheek, “I’m doing a lot better.  I promise. I’m not— you know, doing that , and also I feel… happy.  Even when I’m not with you so that’s good, because I’m being happy on my own, you know?  I mean, my favorite thing to do is still to spend time with you, but I feel like I’m good.  Like me.  Ugh, I’m sorry, this sounds bad.”  Waverly shook her head, a look of disappointment on her face at not being able to say what she wanted properly.  

But Nicole understood— Waverly wasn’t saying she didn’t love her.  Because Nicole knew , she knew that Waverly loved her.  Even if she couldn’t say it yet, Nicole suspected that she had tried to say it a few times but just couldn’t quite get it out.  But that was alright, because Nicole would wait for as long as it took Waverly. All she was saying now was that her happiness wasn’t dependent on her and Nicole understood that.  

“I get it, baby.  I’m so happy that you’re doing well.  That’s all I want,” Nicole smiled, feeling herself getting choked up.  “I love you.” She brought her lips down to meet Waverly’s in the softest of kisses.  

“Nicole, I—” Waverly started, but then her voice seem to catch in her throat.  She looked up at Nicole with wide eyes, as though pleading with her to understand.  

“I know, baby.  I know,” the redhead reassured her, bringing her lips back to Waverly’s, the soft kiss quickly growing heated, tongues tangled in a familiar dance.  Before she knew it, Nicole found herself flat on her back, Waverly’s naked, gorgeous form hovering over her, arms pinning her down on the bed, eyes glinting mischievously.  

“You thanked me last night— now it’s my turn to thank you.”

Chapter Text

“Wynonna!”  Waverly called out, walking into the homestead with her bag thrown over her shoulder.  She noticed a stack of mail on the floor— apparently Wynonna had neglected to pick it up and at least put it on the table while Waverly had been out.   Picking it up, she thumbed through the envelopes, not really looking for anything in particular until she saw the envelope.  

The envelope.  

Waverly’s heart stopped as she tossed the rest of the mail on the side table, ripping open the envelope to get at the contents.  Her eyes skimmed quickly over the words, reading and rereading the first two sentences more times than she could count.

Shit.

But no— today was not the day for this.  She’d deal with it later. Stuffing the letter in her bag, she called out again.  

“Wynonna!”

“Kitchen,” her sister finally responded, her voice seeming faint and far away.  

“I’m having a problem,” Waverly started, putting her bag down in the living room and starting to take off her coat.  “It’s Nicole. Not really a problem per se, but last night she had a rough night and she wouldn’t talk to me about it.  I get that she doesn’t need to tell me everything , but she’s been doing this a lot.  She asks me to open up and communicate with her, but I don’t always feel like she’s doing the same with me, you know?” Waverly walked from the living room to the kitchen, where Wynonna had said she was.  “I just feel like she needs to talk to me too, you— Wynonna?”

The older sister was sitting at the table, head on the wooden surface between her outstretched arms.  

“Hi,” she muttered, not looking up and sighing deeply.  

“Wy, are you—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Wynonna mumbled.  

“What?”

“Don’t worry about it.  Haughtshit really likes you— if she’s not talking to you, then she either has a good reason or she will.”

“Wynonna, are you okay?” Waverly walked over to the table, tentatively placing her hand on Wynonna’s shoulder, trying to comfort her.  

“Yeah, just not feeling too good.”

“Wynonna.”  Waverly could tell when her sister was lying (which, to be fair, was most of the time) and Wynonna was definitely lying to her now.  

“Fuck,” Wynonna sighed, lifting her head off of the table.  She looked at Waverly with defeated eyes. “I fucked up.”

“That’s nothing new,” Waverly tried to lighten the mood with a bit of humor as she held Wynonna’s hand in her own, trying to comfort her as much as she was able.  

“No, baby girl.  This is… this is bad.  I fucked up big time.”

She wasn’t sure how she knew, but Waverly knew .  There was something about the hitch of her breath when she said that word, the small, subtle signs that Wynonna had been giving, and this feeling in the pit of her stomach.  

“It’ll be okay, Wy.  We’ll work through it.”  When Wynonna looked back into Waverly’s eyes, there was a quick flash of confusion before the understanding hit, the understanding that Waverly did know— that she knew and she was there for her, whatever Wynonna might need.  

* * * * * *

It had been a doozy of a day.  

Yup.  A doozy.  But there was really no other way to describe it.  

When Waverly came back from Nicole’s the day before, she had been… well, normal.  Which, for her, was a lot. Waverly had been trying to reach normal for a long time and she had finally gotten there.  She was happy, a little annoyed at Nicole for not opening up, Wynonna was being her usual annoying self… she felt normal .  

Now she had to get used to a new normal.  

Well, Wynonna more so than her, but shit it was a lot to process .

Wynonna was pregnant.  

Pregnant .  

Like, with a human.  

With what would end up being a tiny, little Wynonna.  

Alcoholic, emotionally unstable, trainwreck Wynonna was going to have a tiny version of herself.  

Lord help us all.

But the thing is, Wynonna actually opened up.  

She told Waverly that she was pregnant and then— and then she cried.   She told Waverly that she was worried about the kid, with her job being so dangerous and all, and then what would happen after that?

Before yesterday, Waverly had no idea what it was that Wynonna actually did.  She knew that she worked at the Sheriff's office in a special, classified division, but as for the technicalities of that job, she had no idea.  Apparently, when Wynonna was off in her teenage years, she got mixed up in some stuff— namely, drug related stuff. Because of her knowledge of the inner workings of whatever it was she had done (Wynonna didn’t go too much into detail about that part), they had offered her a deal.  She ended up working with cross-border task forces and eventually she ended up back here, once she had enough agency to request the transfer and have it granted.  

But now, pregnant , she was worried.  It wasn’t the safest job in the world to have, especially when with child.  Plus, there was the matter of Wynonna’s own proclivities.

Waverly was supposed to have a date night with Nicole the next day, but she didn’t want to leave Wynonna alone just yet— not like this, so soon after she told her.  

Wynonna had found out a couple weeks before, but the morning sickness had hit her for the first time yesterday morning— then it really hit her for the first time, and she needed time to process.  

And boy, did Waverly know, Wynonna was not the best at processing things.  

But, try as she might, Wynonna refused to let her cancel her date night with Nicole.  After much convincing, however, she did manage to get her to agree to let Nicole come over and spend the night at the homestead (no shenanigans permitted— well, at least no audible shenanigans).  There was also to be no baby talk in front of others either. That was another rule. Doc didn’t even know yet and Waverly assumed he was the father; Wynonna hadn’t been very clear on that part, though.  

“Beer?  Whiskey?  Wine? Water?  Juice? Gin? Vodka?” Waverly asked.  How many more drinks could she name. She was spiraling a bit, but it was fine.  She was worried about Wynonna and she was worried about saying the wrong thing or acting weird that she feared Nicole would suspect something.  But, by being so concerned about acting weird, Waverly was acting weird. She could tell she was doing it, and yet… here she was. Still doing it.  Acting so very weird.  

“Baby, are you alright?” Nicole questioned.  She was seated on the couch and reached out a hand to gently wrap her long fingers around Waverly’s wrist.  Wynonna was lounging sideways on the recliner, drinking apple juice out of a tumblr so that Nicole would assume it was whiskey— Waverly could feel her death glare of a warning but made sure not to turn in her direction.  

“Yeah.  Great.” Waverly gulped.

“Waves,” Nicole’s eyes flitted to Wynonna, and Waverly knew she had to do something.   Redirect, redirect, dammit.

“Well, it’s just kind of nerve-racking with you two in the same place.  You don’t always get along, you know.”

“I don’t have a problem with Fire Crotch, baby girl,” Wynonna muttered, stretching her legs out over the arm of the chair.  

“Yeah, you weren’t the one I was talking about.”

“What?  Red Haught has a problem with me ?  What have I —”  Wynonna stopped when she noticed Waverly’s warning glance and Nicole’s raised eyebrows.   “Fair enough,” she raised the hand not cupping the tumblr in defense. There was a beat of silence between the three before Wynonna spoke again.  

“Just so you know, you are marginally better than Champ,” Wynonna grinned, pleased with her teasing.  Waverly flinched at the comment and it was in that moment she knew that she had messed up.  Nicole saw the flinch, the tensing of her entire body, she probably could guess the memories suddenly flooding her mind that caused the tension, memories that she had tried so hard to push down.  And Nicole reacted.

“You know why I have a problem with you, Earp?” She spit, jumping from the couch and standing in front of Waverly in a protective stance.  The brunette put a hand on her shoulder, trying to get her to stand down as the redhead fumed. Wynonna seemed rather nonplussed, annoyed if anything— that just seemed to incite Nicole further.  

“Nicole,” Waverly whispered into her ear, her hand running up and down the strong bicep comfortingly, “she doesn’t know.”

Well, it worked— but maybe a little too well.  Now both Nicole and Wynonna were looking at her with curious expressions.  Nicole because she was likely shocked that Wynonna didn’t know something so fundamental, something that had affected Waverly so profoundly; Wynonna because she had no idea what was going on.  

“Shit.  Waves, I’m sorry.  I just assumed—” Nicole looked panicked, terrified.  She knew she had messed up.

“It’s alright, babe,” Waverly told her.  And, well, was it alright? She honestly had no idea.  Right now she wasn’t feeling any particular sort of way.  Just… numb. Empty. Nothing. She blinked, and she saw his face.  

Shit.  It wasn’t okay .  

She should have been okay; all Wynonna did was say his name.  But then Nicole got upset and Waverly had to explain that she didn’t know and that just made her start thinking about what Wynonna didn’t know and Waverly hadn’t expected that to be brought up right now.  

She remembered what her therapist had told her: she had to ground herself.  Waverly grabbed Nicole’s arm, holding onto something, her eyes scanning the room deliberately, taking stock of everything around her, focusing on each individual object.  

The lamp.  It was a light pink— was there a name for light pink or did they just call it light pink?  Also, Wynonna hated pink, where did they even get this lamp?— okay, so, pink lamp. The table holding the lamp was maple, maybe?  Stained—

“Waverly, what the fuck is going on?” Wynonna broke through her inner ramblings and suddenly her mind was free, unfocused, and everytime she closed her eyes—

“Can you just shut up for two seconds, Wynonna?”  It was Nicole.

—she kept her eyes open but still—

“Well, then tell me why the fuck my sister is having a panic attack after I mentioned C—”

—the shouting faded into the background, muted as the memories flooded her brain—

“Fucking shut up, Wynonna!”

—she was back there again and there was nothing she could do—

“What the fuck is happening?”

—there was nothing she could do because it already happened and she just had to relive it—

“She’s having flashbacks—”

“To what?”

“It’s not my place to tell you that.”

—she had to relive it because she had done nothing then and she could do nothing now—

“Haught, I swear to God if you don’t fucking spill it—”

—she needed to ground herself, to come back to the present, to feel something other than this and she knew exactly how to do that but Nicole and Wynonna were here and they wouldn’t let her—

“I can’t tell you that, Wynonna.  It’s not my place. Maybe if you’d have actually been around—”

—was Nicole holding her now?  Had she been all along? She couldn’t tell, she didn’t know, but if she was holding her, how could she get away from them to ground herself the only way she knew would work—

“Don’t you fucking start with me, Haught.  You don’t know shit.”

—no, what was she thinking?  She had come so far; she couldn’t go back there, she couldn’t do that , not after everything, but this goddamn arguing, it was coming back into focus—

“I know more than you think, Earp .”

Haught, you fucking —”

“STOP!” Waverly finally shouted.  Everything seemed to flood back all at once.  She was in the Homestead, she was with Nicole and Wynonna, she was safe.  Nicole was holding her and she was kneeling on the ground, her knees apparently having given out beneath her.  “Stop fighting,” she whispered, collapsing into Nicole’s embrace.

“I’m sorry, baby,” Nicole said, her voice dripping with regret.  She smoothed her hair down, the repetitive motion relaxing Waverly.  

“Baby girl?” Wynonna questioned, her voice small.  She was standing now, off the recliner, her glass of apple juice discarded on the coffee table.  

“I’m sorry, I—” Waverly tried to speak, but her voice cracked and broke off.

“It’s okay, but… you know you can tell me, right?”

“I know— I just,” Waverly sighed.  She picked herself up off the floor gingerly, pulling away from Nicole gently, depositing herself on the couch.  “Nic, I want to— but I can’t.”

“Are you sure?” Nicole looked into her eyes, seeming to be searching for any sort of hesitation.  

“Yes— please.”  Apparently that was all Nicole needed to hear.  She nodded grimly before looking towards Wynonna, jerking her head in the direction of the kitchen.  

Wynonna was beyond confused— Waverly could see that.  But she followed Nicole into kitchen nonetheless with only a brief, concerned look back in Waverly’s direction.  

Was this a mistake?  She didn’t know. But Wynonna should know, shouldn’t she?  Especially if something else triggered her like that and she didn’t know what to do, then it would be good for her to know.  She just sat on the couch, waiting. She heard muffled voices in the kitchen, but Waverly didn’t want to listen, didn’t want to know what was being said.  

The voices were growing louder— Wynonna was angry.  She was shouting. She wasn’t shouting at Nicole, but just in general.  And then, the slam of a door—

Wait.

“Nicole?!”

“She left, baby, I’m sorry,” Nicole peered around the corner, “I tried to stop her—”

“Fudgenuggets.”  Wynonna had left, presumably to find him, and—

Balls.  She was pregnant.  Wynonna could hold her own, but what if something happened?  A misplaced punch or— balls.

“We need to go after her, Nicole.”  Waverly’s voice left no room for argument and she didn’t wait for an answer.  

“I don’t know which way she went, baby.  I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking,” Nicole told her when they finally made it outside and Wynonna was nowhere to be found.  Her motorcycle was already gone.

“She went after him, is where she went,” Waverly explained offhandedly, getting into her Jeep.  “You coming or not?”

“We don’t know where she is, though,” Nicole argued weakly, pulling herself into the car nonetheless.  

“Oh, Nicole.  Sweet, naive Nicole,” Waverly muttered, getting out her phone.  She saw Nicole rolling her eyes goodnaturedly next to her and even though she was worried about Wynonna, she couldn’t help feeling so incredibly lucky to have this wonderful girl next to her.  Finally, she found and pulled up the app. “Find My Friends,” Waverly explained simply, smiling smugly.

“Well, damn,” Nicole did indeed look impressed.  

“Been tracking her for years .  Well, at least until she gets a new phone.  Each time I see her I have to steal her phone and accept the tracking because she inevitably loses the phone whenever she leaves town for too long.  Now, you hold this and tell me where to go while I drive,” Waverly thrust the phone into Nicole’s hands.

“Sounds go— holy crap, Waverly, slow down!” Nicole held onto her seat as Waverly hit the gas and peeled out of the drive.  

“We’ve got some catching up to do.  And this isn’t that fast.”  Maybe Wynonna was right when she called Nicole a straightedge.  She was only going… 75? That wasn’t that bad, all things considered.  

“Waves, baby, the speed limit on this road is 35 and I’m a cop ,” Nicole looked at her with wide eyes, as though that revelation made a lick of difference.  

“Yes, babe, I’m aware of your occupation.  The passcode on my phone 0908 if it shuts off.”

“You’re giving me your passcode?  Aw, ba—”

“Nicole, yes, huge step, whatever, but focus, babe.  Where am I going?” At least it distracted her from the speed limit .  

“Right— okay, let me see,” Nicole looked down at the direction Wynonna was heading, but Waverly could still see the ghost of a giddy smile on her face.  “She’s heading to— oh, shoot. Pussy Willows."

“Of course,” Waverly rolled her eyes, pressing the gas pedal down even more.  Her girlfriend looked as though she were about to say something again, but with the death glare Waverly shot her, she seemed to decide against it.  

When they finally pulled into Pussy Willows, Wynonna’s bike was already there.  Waverly went to unbuckle when she felt a gentle hand covering hers; she looked up to see warm, chocolate eyes peering into her own, looking concerned.  

“I can go in alone,” she offered, not unkindly.  

“I know.  But I— I need to do this.  I’ll be fine. I just wasn’t expecting her to bring him up before and it just got overwhelming, but now I know what I’m getting into.  I can handle it.”

“You know it’s perfectly okay if you decide you don’t want to be there and walk away.  I’ll handle it and make sure Wynonna is okay.”

“I know baby, and I appreciate that.  I’ll leave if I need to, I promise,” Waverly assured her, pressing a brief kiss against the deputy’s cheek before hopping out of the car and heading to the door, Nicole close behind.  

When the two walked in, it was very obvious where Wynonna was.  They could clearly hear shouting coming from a ring of people in the far corner of the club.   As Waverly took a deep breath, she could feel Nicole weaving her fingers through hers, squeezing her hand gently.  

“You sure?” Nicole questioned.  

“Yes.  I’m prepared now,” Waverly confirmed.  She wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince Nicole or herself— she hadn’t seen him since the breakup.  Sure, he had texted and called after, but Waverly hadn’t answered or picked up the phone.

She could do this.  She needed to do this.  

They walked towards the crowd, making their way slowly to the inner circle, pushing people out of the way.  When they finally got to the inner circle, Waverly didn’t really comprehend what was going on. Wynonna was screaming at Champ who was yelling back, Rosita— oh shit, Rosita was here— was in the middle of the two, arms out, trying to keep the two apart.  

Waverly didn’t pay attention to what they were saying— she didn’t want to understand what they were saying.  She just focused on Wynonna, yelling, screaming.  She walked over, wanting to try to stop her, but at that moment, Champ must have said something else because she lunged forward, arm pulling back to swing.  

Thankfully, Nicole was there.  Between the two of them, they were able to grab onto the fiery brunette, holding her back from making a stupid mistake.  

“It’s not worth it, Wynonna.   He’s not worth it,” Waverly whispered in her sister’s ear.  Wynonna looked at her, eyes flashing with anger, but Waverly’s face pleaded with her to understand.  She softened slightly, nodding her head.

“Okay,” she agreed, albeit reluctantly.  Waverly began to lead her away, Nicole still holding on to Wynonna’s other arm, just in case.  It was at that moment, though, that Champ decided to open his mouth again.

“She’s a slut.  It’s not like it’s anything she didn’t want,” he called out to their retreating figures.  Waverly dug her fingers into Wynonna’s arm, still staring at her, pleading with her not to do anything.  But it wasn’t Wynonna who made a move— it took her a moment to realize it, but Nicole had left Wynonna’s side, stalking back towards Champ, fists balled at her side.  

“Nicole, no—” Waverly started, but Nicole’s face was contorted in anger, her cheeks as red as her hair, pulling back her fist and getting ready to swing—

But before the deputy could even do anything, Champ was already splayed out on the ground, groaning in pain.  Waverly looked around, trying to figure out exactly what had happened when she saw Rosita shaking out her hand off to the side, seemingly surprised at what she herself had done.  

“Are you guys done watching?  He got his ass kicked, now get back to watching the ass and titties,” she yelled out to the crowd, still shaking out her hand.  As the crowd began to disperse, Rosita squatted next to Champ’s groaning figure on the ground, whispering harshly. “And you better get the fuck out of here.  If I ever see you near my bar again, you’re going to wish all I did was punch you in the face again.  Got it?” Champ looked up, horrified, quickly scrambling to his feet and heading for the door.  

“Bunch of dyke bitches here anyways, wouldn’t want to be here,” he shouted as he exited, trying to save face.  

Waverly ignored him.  She had to. Instead, she focused on the three women around her.  

“Rosita, thank you so much.”

“Yeah, well, bouncers can’t do their job apparently, so I gotta do it for them.  Plus, he deserved it,” she waved it off as though it were nothing. “So, uh. You never called, so I guess this is the girl you were talking about?” The dark haired woman gestured towards Nicole, who looked slightly confused about the exchange.  

“Yeah, she’s pretty great,” Waverly smiled at her girlfriend.  

“I’m glad you figured it out.”

“Took me a bit, but I did.  And now I’m not letting this one go.”

“You shouldn’t,” Rosita agreed.  “Now I’ve got to get back to the bar before someone else decides to hop back there and bartend themselves all their drinks.  See you guys around,” she took her leave, nodding her goodbye at the three.

“See you,” Waverly waved her goodbye before turning to face Nicole.  

“What was—”

“I’ll explain later.  But I wanted to thank you for what you were about to do.  You know you’re a cop, so that’s not something you should be doing, but I really appreciate the sentiment.”

“Well he was being—”

“Plus, it was really hot and I intend to fully thank you later.” Waverly had stood up on her tiptoes and was now whispering into the ginger’s ear.  She felt Nicole go rigid, her breath catching as she nodded in agreement.

“Okay,” she choked out.

“And you—” Waverly now turned to Wynonna, standing with her arms crossed, waiting for them to be done.  “You’re a fucking idiot!”

“Language, baby girl,” Wynonna scolded.  

“No, Wynonna, seriously.  What the fuck were you thinking?”

“I was thinking he deserved much worse than what I wanted to do to him and I wasn’t around to protect you then—”

“It’s over, there’s nothing you can do.  Just leave it alone.”

“But—”

“No buts, Wynonna, don’t be an idiot!”

“I’m not just going to let him walk away and think it’s okay!”

“Well lucky for you, that didn’t happen.  He got punched in the face by a girl in front of all his friends, and if he didn’t learn his lesson, he’s never going to—”

“He deserves worse than that.  I want him dead,” Wynonna spat.  

“Wynonna, I swear to God, you better not do anything else—”

“He deserves it!”

“This isn’t about you.  It’s about what happened to me and what I want is for you to not get involved and do something stupid.  What if you get hurt, Wynonna? You’re pregnant.  Get your shit together and let me deal with my own shit.”  Waverly was seething now, nails digging into the skin of her palms.  What if she got hurt? What if the baby got hurt? What if—

And it was then that Waverly had realized what she had said.  Not all of the crowd had dispersed completely, Nicole was definitely still there, and Waverly had just yelled at Wynonna for doing this while she was pregnant.   In front of everyone.  

“Well, this situation is balls.  I’m sorry, Wynonna, I wasn’t thinking—”

“It’s fine, baby girl,” Wynonna smiled weakly, looking dejected.  Nicole was looking between the two of them with wide, shocked eyes, but Waverly tried not to pay attention to that or the whispers that had started around them.  “They were all going to find out eventually, it was only a matter of time. And you’re right. It was fucking stupid. I just— I don’t want anyone to hurt you, baby girl.”

“I know.”

“Okay, now thanks to you, people are staring, so can we get out of here now?  I’m never going to be able to come back here.”

“Yeah, but as a repayment for you being an idiot and worrying me, you need to do me a favor,” Waverly told her.  

“Yeah, sure, what do you want, sis?” Wynonna asked.  Waverly slipped her arm around Nicole’s waist, pulling her towards her as the three walked across the club floor to the door.  

“Since Nicole is sleeping over tonight, I’m going to need you to wear earplugs,” Waverly said simply, looking up to stare into Nicole’s darkening eyes.  

“Oh, fucking hell…”

Chapter Text

“It’s too soon for a baby shower.”

“You’re seven months pregnant, Wynonna.”

“Still… too soon .”

“Well, I’m sorry, I planned it and now it’s too late to cancel, so it’s happening.”

“You could have at least told me before you planned it!”

“But then you would have said no…?”

“Exactly!”

Nicole stood awkwardly in the doorway, watching the two sisters argue.  She wasn’t sure what to do at this point about any of this, so she just looked back and forth between the two.  

“Nicole?” Waverly looked at Nicole expantantly, gesturing towards Wynonna, obviously wanting her to say something on her behalf.  The redhead glanced at Wynonna who was glaring at her, daring her to say something.

Ever since that night with Champ a little over six months ago, the two held a grudging respect for one another.  They hadn’t really connected too much, but they were getting along, and that was what mattered.

Getting put in the middle of a fight between the sisters was not going to help matters.  

“Well, you know, she was just trying to do something nice for you and there’s going to be a lot of mocktails and not that many people.  It won’t be too bad,” Nicole offered, trying to toe the line a bit in order to not piss off Wynonna while still staying on Waverly’s good side.  

She wasn’t sure if it actually worked or not.  The sisters both just scoffed, rolling their eyes at Nicole, and went back to arguing with each other.  Nicole saw that as a win— they had started ignoring her again and were just arguing between the two of them.  

Finally, Wynonna agreed to come along.  

Well, it was less of her agreeing to come along and more of her realizing that she didn’t have much of a choice anymore, at least not with Waverly involved.  Regardless of how it came about, the point was that the three women were now piling into Waverly’s Jeep, heading towards Shorty’s.

“Did I mention I don’t want to do this?  Also, if I’m the guest of honor, why am I in the back seat?” Wynonna complained.

“Because it’s my Jeep and I say Nicole gets front seat,” Waverly said simply.  Wynonna just sighed and leaned back.

“As long as you don’t do anything PG-13 up there.”

“Good, because I was definitely thinking more R-rated,” Waverly shot back.  Nicole felt her face burn red. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t done before, but usually Nicole was the one driving, fingering Waverly, and Wynonna was definitely not in the back seat.

“Baby, not now ,” Nicole whispered in a warning tone.  

“Yo, for the record Haughtshit, I thought she was kidding but now… gross.”

Right.  Of course.   She really needed to get her head out of the gutter.  But Waverly winking at her did not help with that.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour but was more like fifteen minutes at best, Waverly pulled into Shorty’s parking lot, parking the Jeep before turning around to face her sister.

“Be good,” she warned.  Wynonna attempted to look innocent.

“Who? Me?” the older sister questioned, placing her hand to her chest in mock offense.  Wynonna only received a glare in return.

When they entered the bar, a great shout met their ears.  Shorty, Doc, Dolls, Rosita, and Wynonna’s friend from high school, Mercedes, were all there and, for only five people, they sure could make a lot of noise.  In fact, Nicole was surprised Dolls could raise his voice above an aggravated, disgruntled snarl. Or even knew what a party was.

But this was Wynonna’s party and for some reason, he did seem to have a soft spot for her.  His only soft spot because Nicole still thought he was the world’s biggest asshole, but a soft spot nonetheless.  

Nicole nodded in Rosita’s direction, receiving a nod of acknowledgement back.  Since The Punch ™, Rosita and Wynonna had grown fairly close, the older Earp was very appreciative of what the bartender had done to defend her sister’s honor.  

Nicole appreciated it too, of course, but then Waverly decided to open up to her about the night before their first kiss.  

Nicole realized that Rosita had actually done her a solid by telling Waverly to go talk to her, but she wasn’t entirely okay with the fact that she had been very clearly hitting on her now-girlfriend nonetheless.  So while she knew Waverly was with her, she was still fairly dubious when it came Rosita for a while after that. Eventually, though, Nicole warmed up to her. She wasn’t that bad, as long as she kept her hands to herself.  Sometimes she got a little flirty with people — with everyone, really— but a quick death glare from Nicole when that flirty behavior was directed at Waverly put her right back in her place.  

Nicole watched as the sisters both left her side; Wynonna went over to talk to Mercedes while Waverly headed towards Shorty.  She decided to take a seat at the bar, biding her time for a bit. She watched as Waverly talked animatedly with Shorty about something.  She was probably discussing the latest menu change or her hours for the week or something, but whatever the point of discussion, it was making Waverly talk with a lot of arm movements and Nicole couldn’t help but watch her with a smile on her face.  She loved how passionate Waverly was, how caring, how excitable—

“Hey perve,” Wynonna slid into the seat next to her, interrupting her train of thought, “Done ogling my sister over there?”

“I wasn’t—”

“Well you were staring over there and I’d be willing to bet my pregnant ass it wasn’t at Shorty’s underbelly poking out from his shirt.”

“Wynonna, for once can we just get along?” Nicole sighed, exasperated.  She really wanted to get along with Wynonna, not just for Waverly’s sake, but also because she really did feel for Wynonna, given the situation.  And she wasn’t half bad when it didn’t feel like she hated Nicole.

“I thought we were?” Wynonna looked genuinely confused.

“You’ve been riding my ass since you found out about Waverly and me.  Even before that. Can’t you just cut me a break?”

“I thought you were supposed to be a cop?”

“What?” Nicole asked, confused by the seeming non sequitur.  

“I mean, if we weren’t getting along, do you really think I’d be riding your ass this hard?”

“Huh.”  Nicole leaned back on the bar stool, crossing her arms over her chest and contemplating.  

“Yeah, and you wouldn’t still be dating my baby sister.”

“I don’t think you’re the one who has much of a say over that, Earp,” Nicole cocked an eyebrow.  “And honestly, neither do I.”

Wynonna leaned back as well, nodding.  They both looked around, observing everyone talking, laughing, joking, content to just watch with each other.  

After a few minutes, though, Wynonna spoke up.

“I’m giving it away,” she said.

“What?” She wasn’t talking about— no.  Was she?

“The baby.  I’m giving away the baby.” Wynonna just stared ahead, Nicole unable to read her facial expressions.  

“Oh?”  That’s what she settled for.  Oh. Nicole sighed, but she honestly didn’t know how else to respond or what to say.  

“Have you met me?  I’m a mess. I can’t do this.”

“You have Doc and Waverly and—”

“I can’t do that to them, Haught.  No one here is ready for this and that kind of responsibility, let alone me.  I gotta do what’s best for h— it. The baby.”

Wynonna’s jaw was clenched, her hand on her stomach, rubbing gentle circles.  Now Nicole understood why Wynonna was so against the baby shower, why she wasn’t doing anything to prepare but— if she was giving the baby away and Waverly knew, she wouldn’t have done this to Wynonna.  Unless…

“Does Waverly know?” Nicole asked.  She didn’t accuse her but instead kept her voice gentle, understanding.  Wynonna just shook her head in response, letting a moment of heavy silence rest between the two.  

“Doc doesn’t know either.  But I’m giving the baby to Gus.  And then Gus is leaving so that it’s not too hard and maybe— maybe when I’m ready one day.”  Nicole could tell that Wynonna was trying hard not to let her emotion seep through, to keep her voice neutral and carefree, but it wasn’t working as well as she probably wanted it to.  

“Wynonna—”

“You can’t tell her, Haught.”  Nicole breathed in deeply, her shoulders slumping slightly.  

“I can’t lie to her, Wynonna.”

“I’m not asking you to lie, just… just let me tell her.”  Wynonna stared straight ahead now, her fingernails scratching at the wooden surface of the bar top.

“Okay,” she agreed.

“Yeah?” Wynonna looked up hopefully.

“Yeah.  I’ll support you in this, Wynonna.  Whatever you think is best. Just please— tell them soon?”

“I will, Haught.  You’re not as bad as I thought you were,” Wynonna looked subtly impressed.  

“Hey!” Nicole pretended to be annoyed, but it was so obviously fake because she was smiling all the way through it.  They sat in an easy silence for a few more minutes (Nicole found she quite liked Wynonna when they weren’t talking to each other) until the bell over the door rang, signaling a newcomer to the party.  Wynonna stood up from her chair in excitement when she saw the woman enter the establishment, looking a little uneasy and out-of-place.

“Waverly invited Gus?” the brunette asked incredulously.  

“Yup.”  Nicole nodded and, before she could say anything else, Wynonna was running up to greet her aunt at the door.  

The ginger closed her eyes tightly and counted down in her head.   Three… two… on

“What does she think she’s doing here?” Waverly whispered-yelled at Nicole, taking the just recently vacated seat that Wynonna had just been sitting in.  These Earp sisters— in one way or another, they would be the death of her.

“Well—”

“It’s not like she was invited .”

“Waves—”

“Who does she think she is, just walking into the party that I am throwing for Wynonna?”

“I invited her, Waves,” she blurted out in a quick breath, anxious about being cut off again.  She braced herself for the inevitable fury that was Waverly Earp, but the brunette just stared at her instead, so Nicole took the opportunity to explain herself. “I get why you don’t want to talk to her, I do, and that’s completely your choice.  But Wynonna does still talk to her and really cares about her and I was just thinking that it’s her baby shower so maybe Gus should be invited?” Nicole took a deep breath, cautiously gauging Waverly’s reaction.

“Okay,” Waverly breathed in deeply, steadying herself for a moment, but Nicole could tell she wasn’t done.  She had overstepped if she were being honest.  She shouldn’t have called her— “You’re right.”

“I’m— I’m right?”

“Yes, babe.  You’re right.  It’s Wynonna’s party and I should have invited her in the first place.  But I didn’t. And you didn’t tell me right away because you knew I would have said no anyways, and I get that.  For things like this, I get it. So… thank you.” Waverly placed her hand over Nicole’s, squeezing it gently.

Nicole just found herself staring into soft green eyes, completely captivated by her girlfriend.  How she ever got so lucky, she wasn’t sure. She remembered back to the first night they met, sitting at this bar, Waverly on the other side and to think… after all those months, everything that had happened, that they were here now, like this?  

They had come so far, she had come so far, Waverly had come so far.  And at least for the moment, everything was completely perfect.  

Nicole saw the inevitable emotions visibly swimming in her eyes reflected back in Waverly’s and she knew.  Of course, she had known for a while how Waverly felt but right now, in this moment, she knew.   She knew that Waverly Earp loved her.  And Nicole? Nicole loved Waverly Earp.  She had her heart, her soul, her everything, and she never wanted that to change.  

“I love you,” Nicole whispered, leaning in towards her girlfriend, capturing her lips in a kiss that was all smiles and way too much teeth but also just perfect.  

“Hey, babe,” Waverly whispered, getting that look in her eye that she has when she’s planning something.  

“Yes, my love?”

“God, Nicole, you’re such a dork.  But you know,” Waverly leaned in to whisper next to the ginger’s ear, “the bathroom can lock from the inside.” Her teeth pulled gently at Nicole’s earlobe as Waverly sat back, a smirk on her face.  Nicole felt her mouth go dry and her eyes widen at Waverly’s insinuation.

“Do you—?” Instead of answering, Nicole felt a pull on her arm as she was dragged across the room towards the back.  Nicole looked over her shoulder to make sure no one saw them— especially Wynonna— but thankfully, they seemed far too wrapped up in their own conversations to notice the pair slip away  

As soon as they were in the bathroom, Waverly locked the door and whipped around to face Nicole, pulling her in for a kiss that was surprisingly sweet despite the urgency in getting there.  

“Nicole?” Waverly whispered against her lips, her breath slightly shaky.  

“Yeah, baby?”  

“I need you,” she whispered, moving her lips against Nicole’s, her words sounding like they were teetering on the edge of something, a wobbliness to them, “I really, really need you.  And I want you. And Nicole,” she stopped kissing her between every word, pulling back so Nicole could see the tears welling in her eyes, “I—” Waverly closed her eyes, and took a deep breath for a moment, trying to center herself.  A tear escaped, rolling down her cheek, so Nicole brushed her thumb along the smooth skin, brushing it gently aside.

“Shhh, it’s okay baby.  I know,” Nicole reassured her.  And she did know.  She knew Waverly loved her and she didn’t need to hear the words out loud to feel it in her heart.  

“No,” Waverly whispered before opening her eyes again, staring at Nicole with defiance and perseverance.  “I want you, Nicole. You’re the one I want, the one I choose. Because I- I love you. I love you, Nicole Rayleigh Haught.  I really, really love you. And I know I’m saying this for the first time in the bathroom of a bar, but I have to clean this bathroom a lot, so I know for a fact that it’s pretty clean, alright?  And I just— I needed you to know.”

Nicole felt the tears welling in her own eyes now and she could not even put into words the love and adoration she felt for this girl, so instead she pulled her into a searing kiss, hoping the feel of her lips against Waverly’s would convey what she couldn’t seem to just yet.  

“I will do anything for you, Waverly Earp, because I love you.  I have never loved anyone the way that I love you and I would move Heaven and Earth to show you that.  I love you, too, Waverly,” Nicole whispered before placing her lips back to the ones that grounded her, that moved her, that made her soar, that did everything for her.  

She didn’t know quite how it happened, but she suddenly found herself slotted between Waverly’s thighs, who was now sitting on the flat surface of the counter next to the sink, her arms wrapped around Nicole’s neck, her hands fiddling with the ends of the flaming red locks.   Nicole’s hands gripped Waverly’s waist, her thumbs tracing the contours of her abs as she silently thanked Waverly for wearing a crop top and skirt today.

Her tongue traced Waverly lips, requesting access that was immediately granted as their tongues danced to a familiar tune, their bodies pressed close against one another.  Nicole let her fingertips roam along the expanse of abs, revelling in the twitching of the muscles under her touch, the increased hunger in the kisses that accompanied the wandering of her hands up to the swell of breasts.  She slipped her hands under the cups, the pebbled nipples hard against her palms, swallowing a soft moan as it escaped from Waverly’s lips.

“Nic, babe,” Waverly pleaded breathlessly between kisses, her hips rocking slowly against Nicole’s front.  

“What do you want, baby?” Nicole asked, her lips trailing down Waverly’s jawline, teeth grazing lightly against the juncture of soft flesh and hard bone.  Her thumbs and forefingers rolled Waverly’s nipples, the resulting moan sending a jolt of electricity straight to Nicole’s core.

“Inside, Nic, please,” Waverly begged breathlessly.  And who was Nicole to argue with that? Her hands travelled back down to Waverly’s sides, down her legs, and up her skirt.  She pushed aside the fabric of the thong, tracing her fingers across the wet heat of Waverly’s slit. The brunette jumped at the contact when an index finger grazed along her clit, whimpering needilly.  

“Are you ready, baby?” Nicole asked, wanting to be sure that she didn’t need more foreplay first.  

“Nicole, please.  I need you.”

“I’m here, baby.  Look at me, okay?” Nicole asked gently, pressing her forehead against Waverly’s, staring deeply into her eyes as she pushed two fingers inside the tight heat of her girlfriend.  She felt the walls contract around her fingers, pulling her in deeper as Waverly let out a strangled gasp of pleasure.

“Keep looking at me baby, I got you,” she whispered, her fingers pumping slowly in and out of the tight confines.  She tried to convey all the emotions she was feeling in her look, pouring as much love as she was able into the eye contact between her and Waverly.  She swirled her thumb around Waverly’s hardened clit, curling her fingers to press against the spot that Waverly told her ‘makes her feel like she’s about to split in half in all the best ways.’  

“Nicole,” Waverly emitted a strangled cry, her hips bucking into Nicole’s fingers, trying to take her deeper, to take more.   

“Shhh, baby, I’m here, shhhh,” Nicole attempted to quiet the loud moans without pressing her lips against Waverly’s and missing the beautiful facial expressions or the look in her eyes at this moment.  She felt the harsh contraction of muscles around her fingers and Nicole thrust up again, harder this time, pressing down on her clit and curling up all at once so Waverly opened her mouth to scream in pleasure, but no sound came out.  Her muscles went rigid, her nails digging into Nicole’s biceps, a fresh wave of wetness coating Nicole’s fingers as Waverly’s walls fluttered and clenched around them.

Waverly collapsed against Nicole’s frame, breathing heavily, eyes finally closed and resting against her shoulder.  Just as she was about to remove her hands from the tight confines of Waverly’s center, they both jumped at a loud knock on the door.

“Really, horndogs?  My baby shower? I wish you guys were able to get pregnant, maybe you wouldn’t have so much fucking sex all the time!” Wynonna screamed from outside the door.  “Also, really tiny bladder. I need to pee. So put on some goddamn clothes.”

Nicole felt her face flush furiously as Waverly just rolled her eyes.  

“Yeah, yeah, one second, Wy,” she shouted out before turning back to Nicole apologetically, “make it up to you later?”

“Baby, this was all about you.  But also I feel like I’ve heard that a lot.”

“Yeah, well, you never let me go first and then we got Wynonnus Interruptus over here.”

“But doing you is the best part,” Nicole smiled, pressing her lips against Waverly’s.  

“Mmmhmmm, so romantic, Haught.  Also, you’re still inside me,” Waverly looked pointedly down at the hand still underneath her skirt.  

“Right, sorry,” Nicole retracted her hand, making her way to wash it in the sink when Waverly caught her wrist and brought the fingers up to her mouth.  The feeling of her mouth sucking on the digits, Waverly’s tongue lapping at the tips sent a new shot of arousal straight to Nicole’s core, her eyes darkening.  

“Oi!  Pregnant woman here!  Usually bathrooms are for quickies!  What’s the hold up?”

Waverly released Nicole’s fingers with an audible pop , smirking at the dumbfounded expression on her face before unlocking the door and leading her past an agitated Wynonna.  Before Wynonna could rush into the bathroom, however, Waverly turned around to say one last thing.

“Oh, by the way Wynonna, our quickies last hours .  And I wouldn’t touch the counter for now if I were you.”

“These are things my virgin ears do not need to be hearing!” Wynonna called out after them, but Waverly had already led Nicole down the hall, back to the party and the people.  

Chapter Text

“Shouldn’t you be doing stuff with Nicole right now?” Wynonna asked when Waverly entered the living room, slumping down in the arm chair.  Wynonna was lying on the couch with a focused and almost annoyed expression on her face, poking at her still growing stomach, almost as though hoping if she poked it enough the baby would pop out and she would magically just shrink back down to her normal figure.  

“Nicole’s going out with Lonnie and Jeremy today, plus she said I should spend some time with you,” Waverly responded.  She definitely wanted to be doing Nicole right now— er, doing stuff with Nicole right now, but she also hadn’t spent a lot of one on one time with her sister recently.  

Over the past few months, Waverly and Nicole had been spending all their time together, not that either of them actually minded.  But with them spending all their time together, Nicole was rarely able to spend any alone time with Jeremy or Lonnie, and Waverly wasn’t able to do any one-on-one sister bonding.  Whenever they did hang out with them, it was the two of them, glued at the hip.

And Waverly wanted to spend as much time as possible with Nicole— she had this dreadful feeling that if she didn’t, if it seemed like she was pushing her away at all, that would be the last straw for her and she would finally leave her.  

Waverly knew she shouldn’t feel that way, and the thoughts of worthlessness were getting less and less with each passing day, but sometimes the thoughts still managed to creep through her skull, banging at the walls of her mind.  She trusted Nicole. Nicole was there, Nicole loved her, Nicole would never leave her.

But they decided they both needed a night off, even if as soon as they kissed each other goodbye that morning, Waverly was missing her strong, sweet, gorgeous, muscular in all the right places, sexy—

“What did Nicole say?”  Wynonna interrupted her train of thought (which was probably for the best) and was suddenly sitting up— as fast as she was able with that stomach of hers— staring Waverly down.  

“Just that I should spend some time with you and maybe talk to you…?” Waverly looked at her sister quizzically.  Wynonna responded with narrowed eyes, as if trying to figure something out and not completely believing her.

“Okay,” Wynonna finally seemed satisfied, leaning back on the couch and closing her eyes for a moment.  

“Why do you— wait.  Did you tell her something?”  The guilty look that flashed across Wynonna’s face was all Waverly needed in order to know .   “Shit, Wynonna, did you tell her something and then make her promise not to tell me?”  Now she looked even guiltier .  And now Nicole’s weird behavior over the past week since the baby shower was starting to make sense.  Whenever Waverly had mentioned Wynonna, Nicole wanted to avoid talking about her, only saying that maybe she should talk to her herself, spend some time with her.  

“It’s not Haught’s fault!” Wynonna shouted out.  

“You’re defending her now?” This was definitely not a good sign.  She loved her sister and her girlfriend (yes— she loved her girlfriend!) but the two did not have the best track record with getting along.  “What did you do, Wynonna?”

“I didn’t do anything.  I just told her something and made her promise not to tell you before I did.  That’s about it.”

“Did that work?”

“Well, she said if I didn’t tell you soon she’d tell you, but I said I would.  You know, in my own time.”

Waverly just rolled her eyes.  Typical Wynonna.

But Nicole?  Why wouldn’t Nicole tell her?  Did Nicole not care? Did she not think Waverly was important enough—

Waverly shut her eyes tightly.  She trusted Nicole. Nicole had been trying to get her to talk to Wynonna for the past week, so she wasn’t sitting passively with whatever secret she had, at least.  And if Nicole thought it was best that Wynonna tell Waverly whatever news it was that she had in her own time, in her own way, then Waverly’s trusted Nicole’s judgement completely.

But that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to at least try to get the information out of her.  

“So you going to tell me or what?” Waverly folded her arms across her chest, raising an eyebrow in Wynonna’s direction.  

“I will.  Just… later?”  Waverly looked her sister over slowly, and it was definitely hard to convince herself completely, but she had been on the outs with this secret for a few days already, what was a couple more hours?  So she nodded and slumped down in the chair.

“So what do you want to do?”

“Well, my plan was just to lay on this couch all day and flip through the channels.  Is that not a good plan?” Wynonna rolled over, holding her body up by the elbows to keep her stomach off of the couch.  “Wow, I’m heavy,” she groaned, looking down at her stomach. Wynonna looked up to see a raised eyebrow from Waverly and an expression that quite clearly said well, if the shoe fits… so Wynonna made a face in response, sticking out her tongue at her.  

“Or we could, you know, play board games again if you want?   Like we used to?”

Wynonna looked up at Waverly, a smile splitting across her face.  

“Really?   Because I am ready to kick your ass in Monopoly again.”

“We must have very different memories of who won those games...

“Yeah, baby girl, what were you smoking that you thought I ever let you win?” Wynonna was sitting up on the couch now, head tilted to the side as she stared at Waverly with a jokingly quizzical look on her face.

“Wynonna, I was like twelve the last time we played Monopoly.  I wasn’t smoking anything. You probably were, though.”

“You were twelve and you weren’t smoking yet?  I guess I really did let the ball drop on some of my big sis duties,” Wynonna jabbed her lightly in the arm as she got up from the couch and passed by.  Waverly rubbed her arm and rolled her eyes, but she was thankful for Wynonna, for this time they had together. She forgot just how much she needed her big sister sometimes.

“Hey, Wy?” Waverly called over to her sister, who was now searching through the mail Doc had thrown on the counter when he had stopped by earlier.  

“Yeah?” The older sister yelled back before muttering under her breath, “ fucking urgent?  Didn’t I pay all this shit already?  Goddammit …” Waverly took a deep breath, wanting to say something along the lines of what she had been feeling, this sense of gratefulness for Wynonna, for her sticking around, for her being there.  But this was Wynonna, and sometimes saying how she felt didn’t always make sense for the kind of relationship they had. So she kept it simple instead.

“You’re getting the board, right?  Since you’re up?”

“Ugh, if I have to.”  The groan was accompanied by the ripping of an envelope.  

Waverly waited for a few minutes, but it didn’t sound as though Wynonna had actually moved from the kitchen.  Sighing, she pulled herself off of the chair to make her way over to the other room.,

“Wy?” Waverly questioned.  Wynonna was standing with her back to her, hunched over the counter, looking at a letter.  She didn’t appear to be reading it anymore, just staring at it with a dazed expression on her face.  

“How long?” Wynonna asked, her voice soft.  Now Waverly was just confused. She had no idea what Wynonna was talking about.  How long? How long… what? She leaned over her sister’s shoulder, trying to see what Wynonna was looking at when the watermark on the paper caught her eye.  

“Shit,” Waverly muttered.  

“Shit?  Baby girl, I remember you talking to me about this months ago,” Wynonna turned around to stare at her harshly.

“Well, you were a little drunk, Wynonna, I didn’t actually think you’d remember it,” Waverly countered, becoming defensive.  

“I’m always fucking drunk, Waverly, that doesn’t mean I don’t remember shit like this.”

“We barely talked about it—”

“Yeah, but as I recall, you really wanted to go.  And I told you that you should.”

“Wynonna—”

“Just tell me why the fuck you haven’t said yes yet!”

“It’s not that simple!”  Waverly shouted. And it wasn’t that simple, it really wasn’t.  But it was her choice and she didn’t think that she would be getting any more letters about it.  Apparently she was wrong. On the table, the envelope marked urgent lay ripped open and discarded, the bright red stamp burning in Waverly’s mind.  If only Wynonna hadn’t gone through the mail, if only Waverly had gone to get the game board instead—

“So this is what I think it is then?” Wynonna asked softly, lowering the letter she had been waving threateningly in Waverly’s face.  She just nodded sheepishly in response. “Baby girl, this is the program you wanted to go to and you got accepted. You have the chance to get out of here, at least for a year, and to do whatever the fuck this is that you wanted to.”

“It’s a master’s degree,” Waverly whispered quietly, looking down at her feet.  She had been hiding the envelopes for months… this was the last one, the notice that she needed to accept or reject their offer or it would be handed down to the next person on the waiting list.  Waverly wanted to go— she wanted to go more than anything. Well, more than most things. She would have accepted if not for Nicole. Not that Nicole wouldn’t want her to go— Waverly knew that her girlfriend would try to get her to go away for the year, to get her master’s, to push herself.  

But that was the problem.  What if Nicole thought that Waverly was just pushing her away again?  What if Waverly, once she left, did start to actually pull away from Nicole?  Distance was hard, what if they couldn’t make it work? It was a whole year, and she knew Nicole couldn’t just up and leave to go with her.  

So instead of accepting the offer, she decided not to go.  But every time she tried to reject it instead, she got cold feet and just couldn’t do it.  Waverly had decided, without a doubt, that she was not going, not when things with Nicole were finally good, not when Wynonna had her baby on the way, not when she was needed here, in Purgatory.  

“Baby girl, you have to go,” Wynonna pleaded with her.  

“Wynonna, I can’t—”

“Yes, you can.  What’s holding you back?”

“It’s just, you know, things are finally good with Nicole and I don’t want to ruin that and you have the baby coming and I can’t leave you and Doc to take care of a baby on your own—”

“Wavery—”

“Do you even know how to swaddle?  Because I’ve been doing a lot of research and I used a butternut squash, but I think I’ve got it down—”

“Waverly, can you lis—”

“And have you even decided yet if you’re doing breastfeeding or bottle?  Because I have a whole list of pros and cons for both of them that I can get out for you—”

“Waverly, I’m giving up the baby!” Wynonna finally shouted over Waverly’s ramblings, stopping the younger girl mid-sentence.  

“What?” She stared in shock at her older sister, her brain not fully able or wanting to compute what exactly was going on.  

“I’m giving it to Gus and she’s going to move away for a bit with the baby,” Wynonna said gently.  

“But- but why?”

“Because, you think I can handle a baby?  Me or Doc? Baby girl, we’re both a mess. It wouldn’t go well.  This is what’s best.”

“But you have me, and you have Doc, and sure, Gus can help if you want her to, but also Shorty, and you know Nicole would— wait.  Did she know? Is that what she knew?” Waverly was finding it very hard to figure out what exactly she was feeling in the moment, but it was a mixture of blinding hot burning rage and anxiety and sadness and emptiness.  Shit, there was that emptiness again.

“I made her promise not to tell you.  Besides, if that’s what was holding you back, now you can go.”

“But you can’t just give up like that, Wynonna.  You haven’t even tried to be a mom yet,” Waverly tried to make her sister see what she believed to be reason.  How could Wynonna just give up like that? Not even try? She was having a baby , a child , and she was just going to give her up?  Just walk away?

“You know it’s not like that.  But this?” She shook the letter in her hand.  “This is like that. You’re the one just walking away right now.”

“I can’t—”

“Why the fuck not?  Baby’s not a factor anymore, baby girl, tell me the real reason.”

“I can’t leave Nicole,” Waverly whispered.  She waited for Wynonna’s inevitable rage to be directed towards her, and sure enough it soon was.  

“So you’re gonna pass up a chance to move across the country and go to your dream school and get your dream degree to wait around for your girlfriend?” Wynonna asked, the bite in her tone obvious.  What Waverly wasn’t expecting was her visceral negative reaction to Wynonna’s words.

“So what?”  She shot back.

“So I’m having flashbacks of you watching your clown of an ex play video games and missing your Valedictorian speech.”

“He got to level 70 on one guy.”  She was trying to defend herself, but she didn’t know why.  These were obviously two very completely different scenarios.  He— he was different. Waverly knew this now.  He wasn’t healthy for her. But Nicole? Nicole was kind, sweet, considerate, loving— Nicole was different.  

“Waverly,” Wynonna’s voice sounded broken.  

“Besides, this is different, okay?” Waverly argued, trying to make Wynonna see the difference between the two situations.  They were so completely different .  Why didn’t she get that?

“You’ve come so far.  Just don’t let anyone make you forget you’re an Earp.”  Waverly could tell that Wynonna didn’t mean anything negative by that, but that name— it carried so much weight, so much disappointment, so much hurt.  She wore the name proudly but right now— right now she just didn’t want to hear it.

“Look, that can mean whatever I want it to, okay?  When you start making adult decisions and don’t have to give away your child because you can’t even trust yourself, you can give me relationship advice,” Waverly spat back.  She wanted to hurt Wynonna, she wanted to cause her pain, and she wanted these words to cut deeply. From the look she saw on Wynonna’s face before she turned around to walk out, she seemed to hit her mark.  

“Hey, come on—” Wynonna started to argue, but Waverly was already out the door.

Chapter Text

“WAVERLY!  WAVERLY GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE!”

When Nicole woke up the next morning it was to a loud banging on her front door and the screaming of her second favorite Earp sister.  Nicole had no idea why Wynonna would think that Waverly was at her house, especially when the sisters were supposed to be having a bonding session during that time, but Nicole decided to open the door and humor her.

“What, Wynonna?” Nicole questioned, folding her arms across her chest and leaning against the doorway.  Wynonna gave her a once over with narrowed eyes, as though judging her.

“Boxers, Haughtstuff?  Okay,” Wynonna shrugged in what seemed to be approval at the redhead’s plaid boxers and tight white tank before the hard glare returned to her eyes.  “Your legs are so not the point right now, where the fuck is Waverly?” The older Earp pushed past her, standing in the middle of the living and staring up at the ceiling, continuing to call her sister’s name.

“She’s not here Wynonna,” Nicole said exasperatedly.  

“What do you mean she’s not here?  Did she leave already?”

“No, Wynonna, I don’t know where she is,” Nicole sighed.  

“Well maybe if you were a decent fucking girlfriend, you would know where she is,” Wynonna threw up her hands, frustrated with the situation.  

“The fuck is that supposed to mean, Earp?”  Nicole could take a lot, and she had thought that with Wynonna telling Nicole her secret, trusting her not to tell anyone, and then Nicole following through… she thought that they were maybe taking a step forward in their relationship.  Apparently not.

“You know exactly what it’s supposed to mean, Haught,” Wynonna took a challenging step forward, glaring at Nicole who stood in the doorway, fists now clenched at her sides.  

“All I know is that she was supposed to be with you last night.  So if you don’t know where she is, maybe you should be a decent fucking sister,” Nicole’s response was cool, calculated, but with bite to it.  

“Well, she ran out on me while I was trying to be a decent sister, but she didn’t listen to me because you’re a terrible fucking girlfriend, Haught.”

“Wynonna, I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, but I guarantee you whatever happened was completely your fault,” Wynonna and Nicole were squaring off against each other now, both of them filled with rage.  

“Oh, it’s my fault that you’re the one forcing her to stay?”

“For the last time, Wynonna, she’s not here right now!”  How many times did Nicole need to explain this?

“I meant instead of going to school, Deputy Dipshit!”

“What the fuck does that even mean?” Nicole yelled back, now totally confused as to what they were talking about and what was going on.  

“You’re just being fucking selfish and if she doesn’t end up following her dreams because of you , you best believe I am going to fuck your life up, Haught, and I outrank you—”

“Wynonna, just stop for a second!” Nicole was still pissed, but she was beginning to think that maybe there had been a miscommunication somewhere down the line, because trying to put it all together in her head now… she had no idea what Wynonna was talking about.  

“You’re an ass,” Wynonna stated simply.  Nicole just rolled her eyes.

“Yes, we’ve established this, but can you just tell me why I’m an ass this time?”

“You really have to ask?”

“Humor me.”

“Because you’re not letting Waverly go to school!” Wynonna exclaimed, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.  

“Okay, this is where you’re losing me, Earp,” Nicole rubbed her temples with the pads of her fingers, taking a deep breath and trying to put together all the pieces of what was happening in her mind.  

“That school she got into?  She said she wasn’t going because of you,” Wynonna explained, at which point Nicole really didn’t know what was going on.  Well, she had a guess, but she really didn’t like where the guess left her.  

“Wynonna,” she answered softly, “I really, really swear to you that I know nothing about a school Waverly got into, but now I’m worried and confused and can you just please take a seat and explain it to me?”  Nicole gestured toward the couch Wynonna was standing a few feet away from.  The brunette narrowed her eyes for a moment in suspicion, as though trying to figure out whether she was telling the truth or not.  Finally, Wynonna seemed to decide to go along with Nicole, landing with a plop on the couch, arms holding her up as her stomach jutted out.  

“She applied for a program at this school she likes across the country— can’t for the life of me remember the name so don’t ask— and it’s for a year long master’s program.  But she said she can’t go because of you.”

“Because of me?” Nicole furrowed her brow, pointing at herself in confusion.  

“Yeah, because of you, so what the fuck did you say to her when she got in months ago?”

“Months ago?”  Nicole realized she was just repeated parts of Wynonna’s conversation in question form, but she had no idea what was going on.  They had promised that they were going to be open with each other… and if this was true, then Waverly was keeping something huge from her.  And sure, it was her thing to tell, but the fact was that she hadn’t told Nicole and still claimed she was the reason she couldn’t go.  

The elder Earp was giving up, though.  She glared at Nicole and pursed her lips, not responding.  Nicole sighed, rubbing her eyes with the balls of her palms.  

“Wynonna,” she started softly, trying to choose her words as carefully as she could while her mind went a million different places at once, “I didn’t know she got in because she didn’t tell me.  Do you really think I would stop her from going? I get that you’re worried, but can you please just calm down and tell me what she said so we can figure this out?”

“Well, first she said she couldn’t go because of the baby.  Then I told her I’m not keeping the baby—”

“Finally,” Nicole muttered, only to receive a glare in return.

“— yeah, whatever.  So I told her that, and then she still said she couldn’t go because obviously the baby wasn’t the real reason.  She said she couldn’t leave you.” Nicole pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger while taking a deep breath, trying to center herself.  But it was hard— this was a lot of information to take in.

“And why do you think she’s here?"

“She walked out yesterday around two and hasn’t been back yet.”

“Two… in the morning?”

“Afternoon.”

“Shit.”

“Listen, I would have been more worried if I didn’t think she came straight here.”

“Wynonna, neither of us has heard from her since yesterday, where the fuck is she?” Nicole was really worried now.  When Waverly hadn’t responded to her good night text, Nicole had just assumed that she was having far too much fun with her sister or had just already fallen asleep.  

“I don’t know,” Wynonna whispered.  She looked defeated, now that Nicole was really able to take her in, and so tired.  Nicole wondered whether she had slept at all the night before. As much as the two tended to get on each other’s nerves, there was definitely a respect between them, an understanding.  And Nicole knew that Wynonna cared just as much about Waverly as she did, so she could easily see the older Earp sitting up at the Homestead all night, waiting for Waverly to come home.  

“Alright, well I’m going to get dressed, and then we can go look for her together, alright?” Nicole tried to sound calm, she tried to keep at bay the well of emotions she was feeling— the anxiety, the hurt, the confusion, the pain, and the fear, especially the fear.  The gut wrenching, nearly debilitating fear that Waverly was not okay.

But she had to be okay.  She had to be.  And Nicole had no choice than to force herself to believe that.  

When she finished throwing on a shirt and jeans, Nicole raced back down the stairs to find Wynonna already out the door, waiting in her car for her.  How she knew where the keys were, Nicole didn’t want to know, so she just accepted it and met Wynonna outside after having locked up behind her.

“I really thought she was here,” Wynonna muttered once Nicole started driving, forehead on the glass of the window as she stared out.  

“I know.  It’s just…. Where would she go?”

“Well, I thought she was here because every time we got into a fight when she was in high school, before I left, she would spend the night at Cha— oh shit.  You don’t think—”

“No,” Nicole cut her off, leaving no room in her tone for question.  

“But last night, I brought him up—”

“Well, after last time, you should have known better than to do that, Earp.”

“Slip of the tongue, I know, mistake, but the thing is, she could—”

“She wouldn’t.”

“But she defended him, Haughtshit.  She took his side in whatever the fuck I was saying.”  Nicole’s hands tightened around the steering wheel, her jaw clenching.  

“She’s come too far for that,” Nicole whispered.  Plus, she wouldn’t do that to her. She couldn’t do that to her.  Not after everything they’d been through. “Not him.”

“I don’t think she would, Haught.  But you have to know, she wasn’t in a good—”

“We’ll check Shorty’s.  If she’s not at the homestead or my place, she’s going to be there.  She’s got to be there. And she’s going to be fine. She’s got to be fine.”  Nicole said firmly. From the look Wynonna gave her from the passenger’s side, Nicole could tell that she had convinced her to not say any more, so they drove the rest of the way in strained silence.  

“Is that—?” Wynonna started, staring at the parking lot in front of Shorty’s.  

“It is, thank God,” Nicole finished, her heart leaping with joy at the sight of Waverly’s Jeep in front of the bar.  She parked quickly, pulling into the space at an angle. When Wynonna began to unbuckle her seat belt Nicole shot out an arm to stop her.  

“What do you want, Haught?”

“Shorty’s here.”

“So?”

“So, that means Waverly is fine.  He would have noticed her Jeep coming in today and if she was… if she was anything, he would have called one of us.”

“Okay, can we go now?” Wynonna jerked her head towards the car door while flicking her eyes to the arm still across her chest, holding her back.

“I was wondering, since she’s alright, if I can talk to her?  And maybe if we could have the homestead for the day?” Nicole met her eyes, silently begging her to understand.  She needed to talk to Waverly. They needed to work this out. And they needed to be alone to do it. They didn’t need distractions from Shorty and Wynonna and even Calamity Jane.  And, if necessary, Nicole needed to be able to leave.  

She was hoping Waverly would come clean, that they wouldn’t have a fight, that they’d end up waking up in the same bed in the morning, but she worried that Waverly would hold back, that she would fight her, and that she would then have to leave.  She hated when they didn’t talk for two, sometimes three days at time, but in the end, it helped that things had been out in the open, and they worked it out from there.  It was just the days in between that always killed her. Still, maybe they wouldn’t fight.

“Fine,” Wynonna agreed after looking her over.

“Yeah?” Nicole hadn’t expected her to agree that easily.  

“Yeah, just… you better promise me that you tell her to go to that school.  Because it’s her dream, and… she needs to go.”

“Wynonna, if it’s only me keeping her here, I will make her go to that school.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  Wynonna, I love her.”

“Ew,” Wynonna made a face, “and also… you better.”

“Okay, well, I’ll go see Waverly, you can take the spare keys to the Jeep and…”

“Make myself scarce.  Got it. Just call me if you need me.”  Wynonna gave an awkward salute to Nicole.  

“Sure,” Nicole agreed, heading into Shorty’s.  The older man was already wiping down tables, even this early in the morning.  When he saw Nicole comes in and gave a nod of recognition before answering her unspoken question.  

“She’s awake and getting ready upstairs, Officer.  She’s alright, I checked on her.”

“Thanks, Shorty.  Is it alright to head up there?”  She asked, pointing up the stairs.  When Shorty nodded she ran up the stairs, taking two at a time before finally reaching Waverly’s old room and knocking on the door.

“Yeah, I’m almost done,” Waverly shouted from inside.  With a small smile, Nicole slowly opened the door, allowing Waverly time to notice she was headed in.  

“Nicole!” Waverly squealed, obviously excited seeing her girlfriend in the doorway.  She ran up to Nicole in her extremely short shorts, rising up on her tiptoes to press her lips to Nicole’s.  Reflexively, Nicole’s arms wrapped around her girlfriend’s waist, pulling her closer to her body. All that mattered in that moment was that Waverly was okay.  That she was safe, that she was here in her arms, that she was okay.  In a minute, then they could talk about the things Waverly had been keeping from her, but for now, in her arms, lips pressed against hers, that was enough.  

Chapter Text

The car ride back was torture.  

After a couple minutes of her lips moving against Nicole’s in her old bedroom at Shorty’s, Nicole’s tongue tracing softly along her bottom lip, she felt the redhead pull away a bit.  Waverly relaxed her hand curling around the back of her neck and went back down off her tiptoes, staring up into Nicole’s eyes. She could see the hurt in them, the longing for understanding.  

“She told you, didn’t she?” Waverly asked, her voice sounding small even to her.  Nicole only nodded, and that made it even worse, if possible. “I was going to tell you—” Waverly couldn’t finish her sentence.  Because the truth was, she wasn’t going to tell Nicole.  Nicole would have never known if it wasn’t for that stupid letter, and stupid Wynonna finding it—

“Is it alright if we go to the Homestead and talk for a bit?” Nicole asked gently.  Waverly nodded, allowing Nicole to lead her down the stairs.

The car ride though?  That was so incredibly and terribly strenuous and awkward, at least for Waverly.  Nicole stared straight ahead the whole time, not meeting her eyes. Even when they got to the homestead, Nicole didn’t bring it up.  They watched TV for a while with Nicole holding her, but Waverly was able to tell she wasn’t really there, that her mind was someplace else.  

They had lunch and they talked and they joked and it seemed normal, but Waverly could tell it wasn’t, and she knew Nicole could as well.  Because she knew Nicole was hurting. Nicole was hurting because Waverly didn’t tell her about the school and she still didn’t have an explanation and Nicole knew that was shitty but— but she couldn’t.  She didn’t know how to tell Nicole that if she left for school, she knew Nicole would leave her.

It wasn’t until midway through the afternoon when Waverly finally broke.  

“Nicole, can we talk?” Waverly turned to face Nicole on the couch, slipping out of her arms.  Nicole nodded, folding her hands in her lap and looking expantly in Waverly’s direction.

“Okay, so there was this school I wanted to go to with this year long master’s program and… well, I got in.”  Waverly gave a shaky smile, raising her hands in uninspired jazz hands. The smile she received in return seemed small, broken.  

“I know.  Of course you did, and congratulations.”  The smile didn’t reach Nicole’s eyes and seeing that hurt worse than anything else.

“I didn’t tell you because…. Well, because of Wynonna’s baby.”  That was a lie. Waverly knew it was a lie, but telling Nicole the truth just seemed too hard in that moment.  

“But she’s told you about that now, you can’t factor that in.  And that’s not the reason you told Wynonna.” Waverly looked down in shame, her fingers tugging at the jean fabric on her knee.  Of course Nicole would know. Nicole always knew.

“I know it’s not.  I told her I couldn’t leave you.”  That was the truth. She couldn’t leave Nicole.  After all the times she had pushed her away, all the times she had left her already, she couldn’t do that again because what if this time was the last time?  What if this time was the time that was too much, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Waverly swallowed thickly, her fingernails tracing the seam that ran up her thigh. 

“But Waves, you want to go, right?”

“I don’t want to leave you, Nic.”  

“That’s not what I asked.”  She sounded disappointed, so very disappointed.  

“Nicole, I’m sorry…” Waverly could feel the emotions building inside her, constricting her chest.

“Waverly, do you want to go?” She was angry.  Waverly could tell. Her words were hard, deliberate, and she was trying to hold it back, but Nicole was angry with her.   Waverly should just tell her she’d go, that would make everything easier. Then Nicole could stop being angry and they could be good for a minute, but that would just be a bandaid.  It would be a lie, especially when Waverly didn’t leave for the school and that would just be so much worse than whatever was happening now.

“I do, but I’m not going,” Waverly decided to go with the truth.  She could deny the fact that she wanted to go the whole day, but Nicole would know.  Nicole already knew that Waverly wanted to go, she was just giving her the opportunity to tell Nicole herself.  But whether she wanted to go or not didn’t matter , and that’s what Nicole didn’t seem to get.  What mattered was that she loved Nicole and she was not letting her go, no matter what.  

Nicole stayed silent for a moment, leaning forward so her elbows were resting on her knees and she was able to bow her head down and run her hands over her face, back through her hair.  She looked tired. Waverly waited for Nicole to say something, anything. Waverly knew she was going to say something at some point; she had that look on her face when Nicole was thinking of exactly the right thing to say.  That’s when Waverly knew it was going to be okay, because Nicole always said whatever was needed to put them back together—

“I think we should take a break.”

“What?” Waverly’s heart stopped.  It completely stopped. This was… this was nonsensical.  How did they go from talking about a master’s program to breaking up?

“I just… I can’t be the reason you don’t go.  You have to go. So we should take a break.” Nicole wasn’t looking at her, just staring straight ahead, elbows on her knees and hands clasped in front of her face.  

“Wait, Nicole, this is stupid.  I’ll go, you don’t—”

“Waverly, it’s just a break.  I still just—” Nicole sighed, looking down at the hands folded in front of her, studying them.  “This was your thought process, Waves. And your thought process included me holding you back, and that’s not right.  That’s not healthy. We need a break.”

“Nicole,” Waverly started, but she couldn’t seem to say anything more, the words catching in her throat.  

“It’s just a bit of time, that’s it.”  Nicole was still looking at her hands, her goddamn hands.  

“I’m not leaving you, Nicole.  Not after everything.” Her voices wavered slightly, but she stood strong.  

“I’m not worth it, Waverly.”  Nicole just shook her head slightly.  Why wasn’t she looking at her? Didn’t she know she was worth it?  Maybe if Nicole just looked at her, then she’d stop this bullshit and she’d see, she’d know that she was worth it.   She had to understand that.  

“Yes, you are, Nic.  You’re worth all of it.  You’re worth everything. And I’m not giving you up again, I love you.”  Waverly could feel the distance between the two of them and she yearned to reach out, to touch her.  Maybe if she could just touch Nicole and ground her and remind her that she was there, maybe then Nicole would stop this insanity.  

“Waves… then maybe we should take a break.  Just until you get back.” How did that make sense?  Waverly just told her she was worth it and now Nicole was saying that because of her schooling, they should take a break?  Waverly couldn’t understand what was happening.

“What?”  Was that her voice?  That small broken sound?

“Just so you can go and you don’t feel like you’re leaving me, if that’ll make it better.”

“How would that make it better, Nicole?  We’re either together or we’re not, you can’t just do that.”  Choose me, Nicole.  Choose me. I chose you, just choose me back.  

“Waverly…”  Why wouldn’t she look at her?

“No, Nicole.  That’s not fair to me.   You can’t just say we’re not going to be together for this period of time to make me do what you want me to do and then say’ll we’ll be back like nothing happened afterwards.  You can’t do that to me.” Just fucking choose me.  

“But I really think—”

“I’m not leaving you, Nicole.”  Waverly was done with this bullshit.  This wasn’t happening.

“Waves—” Nicole’s face was in her hands again and she looked so defeated and small and Waverly felt like her world was crashing down around her and this wasn’t possible, this couldn’t be real.

“Stop.  It’s not happening.”

“Can you just please listen—” Nicole tried to talk again but Waverly just continued to interrupt her, causing noticeable frustration on Nicole’s part, evidenced by the crease in her brow and the clench of her jaw.

“I’m.  Not. Leaving.  You.” Waverly spoke each word deliberately now because she wasn’t shocked anymore, she was angry.  She was so goddamn fucking angry.  

“Then I’m leaving you!”  Nicole exploded at her, the frustration reaching a breaking point.  At least now she was finally looking at her.

“You don’t mean that.”  It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.  Because she didn’t mean that, she couldn’t.  

“Waverly, it’s just—” It’s just?  What was Nicole trying to do, defend what she said?  Was she actually breaking up with her?

“No, don’t defend yourself, take it back.”  Waverly stared at the ginger incredulously. She wasn’t doing this.  Not right now. Not like this.

“Will you go if I do take it back?”

“What if I say no?”  What did it matter?  What mattered was that Nicole was with her, regardless of whether or not she went away, why was everything hinging on this one goddamn question?

“Then I can’t take it back,” Nicole said solemnly.

“You’re leaving me?”  Waverly wasn’t crying or feeling anything because this couldn’t be happening.  It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.

“Waverly, you have to understand—”  Now that Nicole started talking again, Waverly realized that she wasn’t actually lacking in feeling— no, she was feeling angry.  That was something that she was feeling. So very, very angry.

“I don’t have to understand anything other than you’re leaving me.  You’re doing the one thing you swore you’d never do and you’re leaving.”  She had promised she’d never leave. She fucking promised.

“But—” What could Nicole say right now?  Really? What the fuck did she think she could say to fix this brokenness she was creating inside of Waverly?

“But nothing .  You literally just said a couple days ago that you love me and would do anything for me and now this?  You lied, Nic.  You fucking lied,”  Waverly spoke in a tone of realization.  Later, maybe, the revelation would hurt, but now she was just figuring things out, throwing the idea around in her head, tasting the words on her tongue.  

“No, Waves—”

“Don’t you dare call me that.  Fuck you, Nicole. Fuck you.” The words were cold, calculated.  So very deliberate.

“Waverly, I love you and I’m so sorry.”  Tears were streaming down Nicole’s face now— when did she even start crying?— and she was looking at her now, but she was looking through her.  Waverly just wanted Nicole to see her.  She always felt seen with Nicole but right now, she felt invisible and small and like she wasn’t there and she didn’t know the person sitting on the couch next to her.  

“You love me and you’re sorry?  That’s what you’ve got to say?” I’m sorry, Waverly, I fucked up, I’m going to be with you, I’m going to stay with you, don’t worry, I’m here.   That’s what Nicole should be saying, that’s what Waverly wanted to hear.  She repeated the words over and over in her head during the heavy silence that followed, willing Nicole to understand, to say what she needed to hear.  After a few minutes, Nicole finally opened her mouth to speak.

“I am trying to do what’s best for you,” she whispered.  

“You’re what’s best for me, or at least I thought you were.”  Why don’t you see this?

“That’s not fair.”

“This isn’t fair to you?  Really? You just broke up with me!”  

“You gave me no choice!”  Nicole yelled back.

“You always have a fucking choice, Nicole!”  Tears were falling hot and fast down her face now, her chest completely constricted and she felt like she couldn’t breath and oh god the pain.  

“I love you,” Waverly whispered softly, so clearly hurt.  Nicole just sighed, her eyes filled with pity. And it was the pity that hurt worse than anything else.  Nicole didn’t say anything at all, just standing up and starting to walk away.

“Nic,” Waverly grabbed her wrist as Nicole walked past her.  Nicole stopped in her tracks, staring ahead, still not looking at Waverly.  

“Please, babe, look at me,” Waverly pleaded.  Her voice sounded so small and broken and she felt so small and broken.  

“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered, a tear escaping down her cheek.  

“Nicole,” Waverly just needed to say her name.  There was no point to it, she just needed taste the name on her tongue, to roll it around her mouth, to feel it again.  She needed to feel again.  Waverly got up off the couch to stand in front of Nicole, still holding her wrist gently in her fingers.  Nicole didn’t try to turn away or leave, just standing there, looking at the ground, refusing to look at Waverly.  

She didn’t know why she did it.  It was a bad idea. It was so very bad of an idea.  And yet Waverly found herself rising up to meet Nicole’s lips, to reach up with her other hand to run her fingers through the short red locks.  At first she just pressed her lips against the taller girl’s, but then she realized, this could be the last time she would ever do this. She didn’t want it to be the last time— it couldn’t be the last time.  But it might. And that just drove Waverly to need more.  

Her lips began moving with more urgency, breathing every ounce of Nicole in as her tongue traced her bottom lip, requesting access.  And Nicole was kissing her back. She met her tongue, performing an intricate dance they knew too well between their mouths, fighting for dominance.  Nicole’s hand, the one not still held around the wrist, moved up to rest against Waverly’s waist, pulling her against her body.

“This is a bad idea, Waves,” Nicole muttered, breathless, pulling her lips from Waverly’s and resting their foreheads together, eyes shut tightly.  

“Do you want me, Nic?” Waverly could barely hear her own voice.

“Always, Waverly, you know that, but this won’t change anything.”

“I know I— I just need you right now.  And then you can leave. Just one last time okay?  No goodbyes just yet.” It was a terrible idea. A terrible, awful, disastrous idea.  But as much as she might regret it later, Waverly needed Nicole with every ounce of her being.  She needed to feel her, to taste her, to be with her.

“Waves…”

“Please, Nic.  You can go now if you need to, but I just— I need you.  Please, I just need to feel you,” Waverly begged. And Nicole gave in.  She pulled Waverly tightly against her, both hands on her waist now, lips bruising and rough, as though everything in her life had been dependent on this kiss.  

Waverly wasn’t sure exactly how they made it up the stairs to her bed, but Nicole was laying her down gently, her lips soft and against Waverly’s.  The desperation of before had faded into this ephemeral feeling of longing, both of them not yet willing to admit to what their fight before meant for them.  Instead, Waverly focused on the soft lips against her jawline, gliding down her neck, nibbling along her collar bone. Her back arched off the bed as she felt teeth digging gently into the pulse point on her neck.  

Nicole undressed Waverly slowly, with reverence.  Her hands drifted gently along every curve, making Waverly shiver against the light touch.  It felt as though Nicole was exploring her for the first time or— or memorizing her for the last time.  But Waverly pushed the thought from her mind as she focused on Nicole’s hands splayed across her stomach gently, but firm enough to hold her down as her tongue swept along Waverly’s slick folds.  

She rolled her hips against Nicole’s face, whimpering as the ginger took her time tasting Waverly, teasing her.  She wanted Nicole to touch her where she needed it most more than anything, but she also didn’t want this to end, for Nicole to leave.  For Nicole to leave and maybe not come back.

“Nic, inside, please,” Waverly begged.  The thought had caused tears to threaten to drop from her eyes again, so Waverly wanted something to distract her from the pain in her chest— and Nicole’s fingers pumping inside her, filling her, moving so slowly that she could feel everything was such a delicious distraction.  

Nicole’s lips latched around Waverly’s clit, sucking gently and flicking it with her tongue as she curled her fingers in to massage Waverly’s walls, the leisurely pace building Waverly up to points she never thought she’d reach before.  Her fingers twisted in the ginger locks, pulling Nicole’s face as close to her dripping center as she was able, the build up to an intense orgasm becoming so very excruciating in the best possible way.

When she did come, it felt like an eruption inside her, all the pleasure and anxiety and fear and heartbreak exploding through her body, tensing her muscles and lifting her off the bed.  Nicole steadied her and held her down, her lips and fingers working to gently guide Waverly down from her orgasm. She licked gently at the folds, cleaning up the wetness coating Waverly, earning a jolt as a response every time her tongue licked near Waverly’s clit again.  Soon enough, Waverly felt herself becoming worked up again, new wetness flooding the juncture between her legs. Nicole definitely noticed. She kept licking and sucking, her lips now on Waverly’s inner thighs.

“Again?” she asked, looking up from her spot between Waverly’s clenched thighs, her mouth covered in Waverly’s arousal.  

“Again,” Waverly agreed huskily, pushing Nicole’s face down into her drenched and throbbing center.  

* * * * * *

Waverly didn’t remember falling asleep, but here she was waking up.  Somehow she had managed to be under the covers and—

Shit .  

The memories of what happened before she fell asleep came flooding back, along with the hole in her chest at what all that meant.  But then they had sex and they had been so connected during it, and it was right and perfect and Nicole had to still be there.  She couldn’t leave after that.  She wouldn’t.

No.  Nicole had to be there.  

So Waverly opened her eyes, turning in the bed to look at Nicole— or, apparently, where Nicole should have been.  Because she wasn’t there, only a still made-up side of the bed with a note.  And on the note, so much more succinct than the one Waverly herself had written all those months ago, two simple words that completely shattered her world:

I’m sorry

Chapter Text

Everything was wrong.  Everything.

When Waverly fell asleep, drained from mental and physical exhaustion, Nicole felt her heart break.  What had happened? How had they gotten here? Was there any way to fix it and salvage it now?

Nicole pulled the blankets over Waverly, her chest feeling as though it was being constricted terribly and she couldn’t breathe.  She was walking away from everything good she had known for the past several months— almost a year— and she couldn’t figure out why she was doing it.  Waverly was her life, everything she had ever thought she wanted… what was she doing now?

Nicole almost didn’t have the strength to do it.  She tried to write an apology note, but she couldn’t think of what to say past “I’m sorry.”  What else could she say?  I’m sorry I broke your heart?  I’m sorry that for some goddamn idiotic reason I thought this was the only way to convince you that going to school was the right decision for you?  I’m sorry I tore everything apart and if I try and fix it, I know you definitely won’t leave now that I did this, so I can’t? I’m sorry I not only fucked up your life, but I think I destroyed my own?  I’m sorry that you’re the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m just pushing you away?

So Nicole just left it at “I’m sorry.”  

She walked over to the bedroom door, placed her hand on the doorknob, and froze.  Nicole felt the tears welling in her eyes, the pressure in her head intensifying as her breathing grew more shallow.  This was it. She knew what turning the doorknob would mean, and she wondered if she was making the biggest mistake of her life.  

No.  She knew she was making the biggest mistake of her life.  Leaving Waverly there, lying in the bed, was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do.  And she knew she had to do it. Before she woke up. Because if Waverly woke up and asked Nicole to stay one more time, she knew she would.  She knew she shouldn’t , for Waverly’s sake, but she would.  

Slowly, quietly, Nicole turned the doorknob, stepping out of the bedroom and shutting the door gently behind her.  With the finality of closing the door, Nicole felt herself break apart into a million pieces, her heart completely shattered.  She wrapped her arms around herself as though it would help hold her together as she dragged her feet down the stairs, out the door and to her car.  

Nicole sat in the car for a moment, sobs wracking her body as she thought of the life she was leaving behind— of the girl she was leaving behind.  The girl that she loved with every ounce of her being, and the girl that loved her back. Turning her key in the ignition, Nicole pulled out of the homestead, her heart ripped out of her chest, getting twisted inside, and breaking apart completely.  

She entered her own place in a daze.  She wasn’t even quite sure how exactly she had gotten there.  She was pulling out of the homestead and suddenly… suddenly she was fumbling with the key to her front door.  As soon as Nicole shut the door behind her, she fell back against it, her back sliding down the smooth surface of the door until she was a crumpled heap on the floor, shaking, able to do nothing more than stare wide-eyed and unseeing at the space in front of her.  

She wasn’t shaking.  She wasn’t crying. She wasn’t feeling .  There was nothing left inside of her.  Nothing at all. She was empty. Nicole had taken everything inside her, every part of her, and left it with Waverly.  Every piece of her was laying on Waverly’s bed at the homestead, and now Nicole was just an empty shell of a person. She felt her upper torso rocking back and forth slowly, only slightly, without fully realizing that she was doing it, finding a sort of empty comfort in the rocking.  Her breathing slowed and she lost any remaining focus, her vision blurring completely. Distantly, as though the sound were blocked off and obscured, she heard a low meow, inflecting at the end as though asking a question. A mass of fluffy orange fur padded over to her, and she heard another meow in the distance, as though Calamity’s voice was distant and obscured.  The cat curled up on to Nicole’s lap and she leaned over, burying her face in the animal’s fur, sobbing until she eventually cried herself to sleep.

When Nicole finally awoke, there was to a pounding in her head.  She wasn’t sure how long she had been asleep, but she had a feeling it wasn’t long though.  And sure enough, the memories seemed to all come flooding back at once— the memories of leaving, of not wanting to say goodbye but doing it anyway, of seeing the pain in her eyes and wanting to do anything to take it away but at the same time realizing she had caused it.

The pounding in her head only seemed to increase with every passing second, with each memory that bombarded its way back into her head.  It grew in urgency, in volume, in speed, surrounding her senses, screaming her name— screaming her name?

“Nicole Haught you fucking flat-foot, straight-ass, pussy licking piece of shit!  Open the goddamn door right now before I break it down you unholy sack of asswipes, Haught!”

What the fuck?  What was Wy— oh fuck.  Nicole had hurt Waverly and now Wynonna was here to kill her.  Wynonna began shouting again as Nicole managed to scramble to her feet, slipping on the hardwood a couple times before fumbling with the lock on the door.  

“Haught, if you don’t open this door right now, I swear to God—.  Ugh! What if I call you Daddy? Seems like you do a lot things for a lady when she calls you Daddy.  Want me to say it louder, Haught? Want your neighbors to tell Nedley they heard that his star deputy likes to take it up the—”

Nicole finally managed to open the door, pulling Wynonna into the room by the arm, startling her in the middle of her sentence.  And thank God, because Nicole would have just about died if Wynonna had finished it off.  Not that Wynonna had any proof of that — unless Waverly had said something—

“What the fuck, Haught?” Wynonna pushed Nicole on the shoulders, breaking her out of her train of thought.  Nicole just stared at her, processing the question but not responding. She stared blankly at Wynonna, ready to be destroyed for what she had done and be completely okay with it.

Instead, Wynonna apparently saw this in Nicole’s face and kept her fists balled at her sides after her first initial push.  She didn’t approach; the brunette just waited a moment until her breathing calmed and her fists relaxed by her sides.

“What the fuck?” She asked again, softly.  

“I don’t know, Wynonna,” Nicole admitted, quietly, honestly.  

“Haught, what did you do ?”

“I was trying to do what was best for her.”

“When I said to make sure she goes I didn’t mean like this,” Wynonna exclaimed, clearly looking guilty about the whole situation.  

“It wasn’t that, Wynonna.  It wasn’t you,” Nicole assured her, sighing deeply.  Because it wasn’t Wynonna’s fault. Nicole knew that even if Wynonna hadn’t made her promise to do whatever it took to get Waverly to go to the school, they still would have ended up this way.  It wouldn’t do any good to place the blame anywhere but where it should truly go— squarely upon Nicole’s shoulders.

“Then what was it?”  The brunette questioned, completely puzzled by the situation.  

“She was choosing me, Wynonna.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“No.  She was choosing me over herself, and that’s something I never want her to do without talking to me— and she wasn’t talking to me about it.  She was hiding it from me and she never planned on telling me. She was just going to throw away this whole opportunity just to choose me and spend time with me, without even asking me how I felt about it.  That’s not healthy Wynonna. It’s holding her back and I refuse to be the one doing that to her.” Nicole could feel her numb disbelief turn into anger as her grief morphed inside her. She wasn’t even sure who she was mad at— perhaps it was just that she was mad at life in general.  But she was pissed that Waverly didn’t talk to her about this and just decided this was what was best for the both of them.

There were so many other options, and she decided what was best for the both of them.  Nicole could have looked into taking a sabbatical, they could have alternated weekends visiting each other every few weeks, they could have made it work.  But Waverly didn’t give them that option, instead she blindly chose Nicole without even talking to her about it.  

“I did what was best for her, Earp.”

“Damn, Haught.  I know that’s what you think, but are you really sure about that?”

“She would have regretted not going and she wasn’t going because I was keeping her here.  Maybe when she gets back we can make it work again, but I know I’ve probably lost her. She’s so strong, though, I know she can do this.  She needs to do this.”

“That’s bullshit, Haught.” Wynonna stared at Nicole, incredulous.  

“I love her Wynonna; I can’t let her sacrifice this opportunity and be unhappy because of me.”

“Isn’t that what you just did?” Wynonna asked.  

“What?  No. This is totally different.”

“So you’re saying that you didn’t just break up with her because you decided something without talking to her about it?  She’s thinking the same thing now, dude— you threw away your relationship just to choose her success, without even asking her how she felt about that.  Sounds pretty goddamn similar to me, Haught.” Wynonna threw her hands up as though it were obvious.

And fuck if she didn’t have a point.  

Nicole backed up until her back hit the wall and she slid down, crumpling to the ground.  Her head bent down in the space between her knees as she stared in pure regretful shock at the ground.  She felt Wynonna walking over to her, sliding down the wall to sit on the ground beside her, looking straight ahead and not looking at the redhead.  They sat there, unmoving, neither acknowledging the tears running down Nicole’s face.

“It’s too late now,” Nicole whispered.  Every part of her wished that Wynonna would turn to face her, to tell her that it’s not too late, that Waverly will take her back if she goes back now, that everything can be fixed and go back to the way it was before, that they can make it work.  But Wynonna doesn’t say that— in fact, she doesn’t say anything at all. Nicole isn’t even sure if the older Earp heard her strangled whisper at all— and that’s what she wanted to believe. Nicole wanted to believe that Wynonna didn’t answer because she didn’t hear her.  

She didn’t want to believe what the voices in the back of her head were telling her.  She didn’t want to believe that Wynonna hadn’t answered because it was too late, because the damage had been done and there was no turning back now.  No part of her heart wanted to believe that, but it was the theory her mind seemed to keep leaning towards.

Finally Wynonna spoke.  But still, she didn’t answer the question.

“You know you fucked up right?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow at Nicole.

“Yeah.  Yeah, I do,” Nicole sighed.  And yeah, she knew. Did she ever .

“Alright.  You’re a good one, Haught.  I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“Me too, Earp.  Me too.”

Chapter Text

It had been a month.  

A goddamn month.  

A month later and Waverly was still not okay.  

But she was getting better.  

Since Nicole left the note on her pillow, Waverly hadn’t seen her now ex-girlfriend—she hadn’t heard a word from her.  Nothing. Waverly had tried calling, but never received anything other than the voicemail.

She didn’t leave a message.   She didn’t know what she could even say in a message if she did ever did decide to leave one.

Waverly had texted as well—simple questions asking how Nicole was doing or if they could talk, but the texts went unanswered.  

She had even stopped by the station, but Nicole had changed up her schedule and wasn’t there.  Lonnie had looked at her with pity and explained that he couldn’t tell her when Nicole would be in—it was clear Lonnie had been explicitly told not to give Waverly that information.  

It was then, five days after it happened, that Waverly finally stopped trying.  She accepted that Nicole wasn’t going to try to talk to her or come back to her, and she stopped texting, stopped calling, stopped looking.   

And then she broke.  

Before, she could pretend it was just a huge mistake, some terrible misunderstanding.  She knew Wynonna said she had gone over to talk some sense into Nicole, so why wasn’t it fixed yet?  She had accepted her seat in the Ancient Languages program just in case Nicole came back, so she could say that she was going and that would fix everything.  That had to fix everything.  It took her five days to realize it wouldn’t be fixed.  At this point, it couldn’t be. It couldn’t possibly be fixed.

And then she got angry.  

Waverly was so goddamn angry.

She was angry at herself, she was angry at Wynonna, and she was sure as hell pissed off with Nicole.  

Nicole, who broke her heart after she promised she’d never leave.  Nicole, who had been ignoring her calls and texts for the past week after she claimed she’d always be there for Waverly.  Nicole, who broke up with her and… and what even happened?  How did they get to this point?  They were fine, perfectly fine.  Why did Nicole do this?

Was she not enough?  She must not have been.  She must have done something wrong, to make Nicole do this, to make Nicole not want to be with her anymore.  It was her fault.

And those thoughts pounded through her head as the anger began to subside, reminding Waverly of the emptiness she was so used to feeling.  The depression and the anger intermixed, causing the third week after Nicole left to be difficult to navigate, emotionally at least.

She would wallow in her misery until she remembered that Nicole did this to her, Nicole made her feel this way, it was Nicole’s fault.  And then she got fucking pissed, a part of her hoping that Nicole was feeling as gutted by this decision and hurting as much as she was.  Waverly wanted Nicole to be happy, of course—she did still love her. But for right now, Waverly didn’t want to be the only one feeling the pain that Nicole had caused.  

Nicole knew what day Waverly was leaving—Wynonna had mentioned to Waverly that she had told Nicole at some point over the past month.  And so, for the last week as Waverly packed up her belongings to move across the country for a year, she kept looking out the window, willing Nicole’s car to pull up in front of the homestead.  She prayed for Nicole to just show up at her door again, like that other time when Nicole had appeared in the pouring rain because they couldn’t stand to be apart or to be angry with each other. Waverly didn’t know if it would even matter if Nicole did that or if it would change anything, but she wanted Nicole to show up, to do something, to tell Waverly that she made a mistake and she still loved her.  But the week passed, and Nicole never showed up. She must have been really, truly, unequivocally done with Waverly. And Waverly couldn’t help but wonder if Nicole even cared anymore—or if she had ever cared at all.

Her heart felt heavy, but it was no longer crippling and tearing her apart every moment of the day.  Instead, while it was still hurting, it was better than it had been.

Waverly sighed, surveying the boxes of her things she had left to bring out to her jeep, everything meticulously packed and labeled.  Her head began pounding again, the thoughts quickly returning to the dark depths she was so used to. She tried to distract herself and continued carrying the boxes out to her jeep in an attempt to drown out the voices in her head as she had been doing everyday for the past month up until this point.  She had taken care of herself as well as she was able with Wynonna’s help, but it wasn’t easy by any means.

But she had stayed safe, because she was strong even without Nicole, and Waverly’s ability to stay safe and healthy even with Nicole breaking her down was like her own little “fuck you, I’m just as good if not better without you” to her ex.

So instead of hurting herself, Waverly was going to the gym everyday, taking dance lessons, and learning another language.  She was occupied, busy, and fine.  She was fine without Nicole.

Well, truth be told, Waverly wasn’t fine, but she was good enough.  She was surviving and keeping herself busy and not a complete and total mess without Nicole around.  She was doing well enough on her own, and that was good enough for her. And even though Waverly kept telling herself that she was perfectly okay without Nicole around, she still missed her.  Without Nicole, it was as though a piece of her heart had been torn away from her, like an essential part of her soul and who Waverly was as a person was gone.

Waverly packed up the back of the Jeep, arranging the boxes so they fit just so.  And then she was done, and packed, and ready to head out….

But Waverly still had a couple more hours until she needed to leave.  Normally, she would have left at that moment, in case of traffic and any issues that she might run into when trying to find and check into the school.  Maybe it was anxiety, or maybe it was her holding out hope that Nicole would show up out of the blue, but instead of shaking Wynonna awake to say her goodbyes, she decided to unpack everything and repack her things in order for the packing to be absolutely perfect.

And then when it wasn’t just right, Waverly unpacked and repacked again.  There was only an hour left before she really had to leave now (which would still have her arrive two hours ahead of schedule once accounting for traffic and all that, but Waverly was a planner and she couldn’t not give herself any leeway of time).

Once she had packed and unpacked and re-packed the car three times, Waverly started pacing.  There was a half hour left until she had to leave. She started telling herself that she wasn’t leaving because it wasn’t time yet.  She wasn’t waiting for anyone or anything and it was fine because she was fine and she didn’t care if Nicole showed up or not.  She wasn’t even thinking about Nicole and whether or not she was going to show up because it didn’t matter to Waverly.  And the only reason she kept looking out at the road was from sheer boredom and not hoping that maybe, just maybe, Nicole might turn up.

Eventually, Waverly stopped her pacing and instead decided to occupy her time in a way that actually looked as though she were doing something, and not just waiting around for someone who would probably not even show up—or, what Waverly was actually doing, which was just waiting until it was time for her to leave without it being too soon and showing up to check in too early.

But this was with twenty minutes left to go and Nicole still wasn’t there and Waverly didn’t know what there was left to do to make herself look busy, other than just unpack and repack the car yet again.

It wasn’t as though Waverly had that much stuff to bring with her, so by the time she started repacking the Jeep and reorganizing all the boxes inside the trunk there was still fifteen minutes left before she needed to leave and still have two hours of leeway outside of anticipated traffic delays before check in at the motel on the first leg of the journey ended—Nicole, if she was going to show up, was cutting it close.

Not that she would, because she didn’t care, but Waverly also knew in her heart that Nicole wouldn’t actually let her leave for a year without saying some sort of goodbye or having some sort of closure.  She couldn’t just let her leave like this.  She wouldn’t.

With ten minutes to go, as Waverly was finishing up repacking her Jeep for what seemed like the five hundredth time (but was likely only the seventh) Waverly heard a car coming down the road from the direction of town.  Her breathing became shallow and it seemed more difficult to get oxygen to her lungs. When she heard the car turn into the drive, Waverly felt her hands start to shake.

Who else could it be?  It had to be Nicole.

With Nicole turning into the drive, in the car, about to see her for the first time in a month, for the first time since tearing Waverly apart and destroying her heart, Waverly realized she didn’t know if this was actually what she wanted or how she was even going to react to Nicole being here and seeing her again.  She was feeling a mess of all different sorts of emotions and wasn’t sure which of those would show in any interaction with her now ex, with the person who left her without a proper explanation or goodbye, with the person who built her up for so many months only to tear her back down again.

Waverly heard the soft thud of the car door shutting.   There was the distinctive crunch of boots on gravel. Nicole’s boots.

Waverly held on to the edge of one of the boxes in the back of her Jeep, attempting to steady her breathing and calm herself down.  She wasn’t sure if she was ready for this.

The boots stopped a ways behind her, giving her space.  Nicole didn’t speak, didn’t move… she just stood there, waiting for Waverly to turn around.  Because that’s what Waverly still needed to do, she needed to turn around and face this—face Nicole.

The turn was slow, unsure, and honestly, absolutely terrifying .  It seemed like it had been years since she had last seen Nicole, rather than the mere month it actually was.  And Waverly definitely was not ready when she turned around.

Nicole stood in front of Waverly, a small smile gracing her lips and what seemed to be a longing look in her eyes.  She held in her hands a blanket and a jar of peanut butter, extending it out in front of her as though in a peace offering.  Her short, bright red hair looked recently cut, the ends grazing just around the edge of her jawline. Her eyes were that same soft, chocolate brown that glowed with love and affection.  Nicole wore a light blue t-shirt that hugged her body tightly along with ripped skinny jeans that tucked into brown hiking boots. And damn, did she looked good.  So good, in fact, that Waverly found herself slightly resenting Nicole for it.

“Hey,” Nicole breathed out.   Hey.  That was all she had to say now.   Hey.  She had torn Waverly’s heart apart and broken her down to almost nothing, and all she had to say about it now, seeing Waverly again for the first time in a month, was hey.

“What are you doing here?” Waverly spit the words out, feeling the anger sharpening the syllables as her eyes hardened.  Waverly knew she was heartbroken, she knew she was upset, and she knew she was annoyed, but up until this point, up until she had to watch Nicole walking towards her again, she hadn’t realized just how deep the anger coursed within her.  

“Just wanted to make sure you had everything you need.”  Nicole walked over to the back of the Jeep cautiously, coming within a foot of Waverly, smelling like goddamn vanilla and leather and everything Waverly had missed.  The smell seemed to cut deeper than even the sight of her ex lover, causing Waverly to choke up with the emotions associated with Nicole’s scent. Nicole placed the blanket and peanut butter in the back of the Jeep along with a muttered explanation of bonus blankets and soup with a dollop of peanut butter.

“You mean other than you?” Waverly cut back.  She didn’t know why she was being so spiteful exactly— she had missed Nicole, so much, and all she really wanted was for things to go back to the way they had been before that terrible night.  That night where everything had gone wrong and Waverly wasn’t even sure how exactly that had happened, but somehow it had and everything had been ruined.  But regardless of how much she wanted everything to go back to how it was, her mind seemed to remain annoyed and angry with Nicole for destroying her heart.

“Waves….” Nicole sighed, her voice seeming hurt and desperate.

“You shouldn’t have come back here.”  Waverly could tell Nicole was looking for an in, some sort of way to connect with Waverly properly, but Waverly wasn’t having it, as much as her heart and brain told her to let Nicole say what she came to say without ruining everything more, she was just so goddamn angry and she didn’t seem able to stop herself, as much as she might wish she could.

“Waverly, I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.” Nicole was pleading with her, begging Waverly— for what, she wasn’t exactly sure.  Maybe to forgive Nicole for what she had done, maybe to understand why exactly she had done it. Either way, Waverly wasn’t having it.

“Stop saying you’re sorry!” The short brunette shouted, suddenly annoyed with Nicole and her plea for understanding.  She didn’t owe Nicole an acceptance of her apology or the reassurance that she understood why Nicole had done what she had.  No… Nicole had destroyed Waverly… she didn’t owe her anything.

“You know what?” Waverly started again, “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I fell in love with you.” When Waverly said the words, she saw the look on Nicole’s face fall even further and deeper into the obvious expression of hurt than before.

“I never meant to hurt you,” the ginger whispered softly, a desperate plea for understanding still ringing clear in her tone.

“But you did and right now a part of me just really wants to find the right words to hurt you the same way you hurt me, so please, just leave before I start trying to do that more than I already am,” Waverly warned her.  There was a long, pregnant pause before she finished quietly, with words that shattered and broke everything that could have possibly been left between the two of them, “And please… don’t come back.”

“Waves, don’t let this be the last time we see each other,” the words were said hastily in a last ditch effort to salvage something— what Nicole was trying to salvage exactly, Waverly wasn’t sure.  It might have been a friendship, an acquaintanceship… even quite possibly something more than either of those. But whatever if was that Nicole was trying to save, for reasons beyond even Waverly’s own understanding, the younger woman was determined to destroy it all.

“This was your choice, Nicole.  I told you that I l—” Waverly choked on the words “—how I felt and you destroyed me.  And that’s how I know you didn’t feel the same—because you don’t destroy the person you love like that.  You can’t.  And if you can, then maybe you’re not the person I should be with anyways.”  The pain was still cutting far too deep in her to let Nicole in at all. She couldn’t let her in… not after Nicole had taken so long to meticulously break down every wall Waverly had, just to destroy her.

“Waverly, please,” Nicole begged.  She reached out, as though to place her hand on Waverly’s arm in either an act of comfort or continued desperation for understanding— it was unclea