Early mornings in New York were quite peaceful...for about five minutes. Waverly Earp intended to make the most of it one early September morning as she stood atop a building not far from her luxury loft in upstate New York. She wanted to take in the serene scene one final time before she jumped to the hustle and bustle below.
Most of her obligations were taken care of already--since she was going to be put on trial next week because of her deadbeat husband, Champ Hardy. Turns out he had been laundering money under her nose while she commandeered one of the most successful event planning agencies in all of the east coast. She had only just found out a few months ago when federal agents stormed her loft one night while Champ was away on one of his “business trips.” Waverly got recruited to go undercover for them to help put Champ away for good. It seemed like everything was about to work itself out when a damning piece of evidence placing Waverly as an accomplice to Champ turned up out of nowhere. She maintained her innocence before the grand jury, as she should have. Champ had actually found out about her working for the feds from one of his guards that was watching the building the night the loft got raided. He had a dirty cop drop the evidence off in front of the government building--next thing she knew, she was getting carried out of her home in handcuffs that were a little too tight to her liking. The indictment followed (which happened around a month ago) and she was allowed to be released on her own recognizance thanks to her sister, Wynonna, who happened to be a government agent, and a first string of the best attorneys money can buy.
She was grateful for her sister, especially since she’s looking at about 25 years hard time in federal prison. Judge Holiday released her and she came home to a bare loft--her assets had been seized and her bank accounts were drained. Her team of lawyers had been working around the clock non-stop, trying to find any avenue to discredit the evidence and clear her name, but it was hard to motivate them when there was no money to pay for their rates.
Waverly surveyed the skyline, shades of pink, blue and purple whirled around in the sky due to the sun peeking out from the horizon. It was a beautiful final image to burn into Waverly’s mind before she took that jump...just one more step closer to the edge--
“Excuse me,” a voice called behind her. She caught herself from falling over and turned to look at where the voice came from. Waverly’s hazel eyes were met with big coco brown ones that belonged to a woman, a gorgeous one at that. She was tall and toned, with visible muscles showing through the heather grey HAIM t-shirt she was wearing. Her hair was short, with crimson waves falling down to her collar bone. An easel was blocking most of her body from Waverly’s view--but she was captivated by how peaceful and kind the woman looked like--
“You’re blocking my view,” the woman complained.
“W--what?” Waverly was stunned by how quickly the redhead was to squash the brunette’s brief fantasy.
“I come up here every morning to get inspired by the world around me...and you happen to be standing in front of my inspiration for today...so would you kindly shuffle to the left for like two minutes. I’ve been trying to create a decent painting of that sunset for months and this is the best it’s gonna get.”
“Oh, s-s-sorry,” Waverly obliged and scooted over until the woman gave her a thumbs up.
“First time?” The woman didn’t look up from her easel.
“First time trying to kill yourself?” There was those eyes again, accompanied by a quirked eyebrow.
“Pretty sure there is only one time if you do it right,” Waverly sneered as the woman chuckled at her one-liner.
“You’re funny--good looking too, why are you here?”
“I’m going to federal prison for presumably the rest of my life thanks to my darling husband who has a nasty racketeering habit.”
“I’ve been there--er, the shitty man part--not the uh, racketeering and federal prison part.”
“Says the woman in a HAIM shirt,” Waverly quipped.
“Oh she’s REALLY funny! You got me, I was just trying to offer some solidarity. But you’re right, I’ve been a raging, bra-burning lesbian for most of my life--I thought I was just attracted to men with long hair up until high school. Christ was I wrong, thank you Drew Barrymore for showing me the error of my ways,” the redhead nodded her head as she laughed at her own words.
“Drew Barrymore? I’m more of a Hayden Panettiere kind of girl,” Waverly smirked at the woman, she felt herself relax ever so slightly when the redhead laughed in response. Her laugh was warm, disarming, and welcoming--something Waverly hadn’t experienced since shit had hit the fan with Champ.
“Is that so? Guess we both got a thing for blondes. My name is Nicole by the way,” the redhead moved closer to Waverly, hand outstretched in front of her in anticipation of a handshake.
“I’m-I’m Waverly…” The brunette looked at her like she had eight legs and arms. Why would this woman try to shake her hand when she was clearly on the edge of a building for a purpose--
“Gotcha,” Waverly felt herself get yanked off of the ledge by the woman’s strong arms. She stared at Nicole in shock, finally realizing why the redhead did what she did. Waverly fought back the hot tears burning behind her eyes but it was no use, sobs suddenly wracked her body as she tried to sink down to the floor. Nicole held the sobbing woman, whispering soothing nothings into her chestnut hair and rubbing the length of Waverly’s back with slender, ivory fingers.
“I got you, here...let’s get you warm,” Nicole grabbed her black bomber jacket and placed it over the brunette’s shoulders. Waverly pulled the jacket around her tightly and softly hummed at the pleasant smell of vanilla dipped donuts that stuck to it.
“Can I take you inside?” Nicole proposed and the brunette nodded weakly. Growing up in New York, she was taught to be wary of strangers, especially ones that tried to bring her back to their place. In this moment, she couldn’t put up much of a fight, too drained from the events earlier to even protest as the redhead gently pushed her through the roof access stairwell.
Nicole kept a protective arm around the smaller woman as she fumbled for her keys to let them inside her apartment. It was well decorated, coordinated with soothing, neutral colors. There was an Epiphone acoustic-electric guitar that was leaning against a large bookshelf. An orange fixed gear bike stood on its tail just next to the entryway. There was a large flat-screen TV that took up most of the view of the city in the wall of windows behind it. Curled up into a tiny ball in the middle of the grey sectional was a Calico kitten.
“This is home,” Nicole sang as she guided Waverly to the couch.
“Anything to drink? Are you a coffee or tea person?” the redhead asked and shared a few seconds of awkward silence before she smacked her palm on her forehead.
“Christ, what am I thinking--here, come watch me make whatever it is you want, I know I’m probably giving off major Edward Carver vibes just shuffling you into my apartment and trying to get you to drink something. I’m not a killer, at least not people--I could murder a stack of pancakes on any given day, though.” Nicole pointed to finger guns at Waverly and clicked her teeth to boot. Waverly couldn’t help but laugh at Nicole’s failure of a joke as she slid off the couch and sauntered over to the breakfast bar.
“Tea would be great,” the brunette whispered.
“Perfect, I got Earl Grey, Chamomile, Mint, Chai...I basically got enough tea to put Perez Hilton out of business for good,” Nicole laughed at her own horrendous joke as Waverly shook her head at the corny punchline.
“Got any English Breakfast?”
“Aren’t we posh, I do--be right back,” Nicole disappeared below the breakfast bar and popped back up after a few seconds of rummaging in the cabinets for a kettle and her hot plate. She pulled a water pitcher out of the fridge behind her and began to pour some into the kettle. Waverly watched with her head propped up in her hand, this was certainly far from how she figured this morning was going to go, but she found herself to be thoroughly enjoying her time with Nicole. She turned to find the kitten rubbing against her leg, continuously purring in contentment.
“Can I pick her up?”
“CJ? Absolutely, she’s kind of a petting whore like her mama,” Nicole winked as she steeped the tea leaves.
Waverly reached down to pick up the kitten and held her in her arms, gently stroking the top of her head and down her back. Within seconds, CJ had fallen asleep in the brunette’s hands and she felt her heart warm at the sight of the tiny creature sleeping peacefully under her fingers.
“I wish I could sleep all day like she did, but I got to work so she can live a fruitful life...sleeping for most of it I guess,” Nicole playfully scoffed at CJ and slid a mug over to Waverly.
“Thank you, it’s nice to see that not everyone in New York is a fake. Genuine kindness here is a virtue,” Waverly took a sip from the tea and sighed heavily, relaxing her tense muscles after the eventful morning she had.
“Not all New Yorkers are shit heads, how long have you lived here?”
“My whole life, upper east side,”
“No kidding, I grew up in Hell’s kitchen...I majored in business so I could make a pretty penny to see if the grass was greener on the other side here in the upper east side.”
“What do you make of it now?” Waverly took another sip as she cradled the twitching kitten in her other arm.
“I think the grass is greener here because these bastards prefer fake ass turf over actual lush green grass,” Nicole snorted as she took a sip from her own cup. Waverly found herself shaking her head yet again at the redhead, but she hasn’t failed to make the brunette smile that’s for sure.
“I can drink to that,” Waverly clinked her mug against Nicole’s and finished her tea, the other woman chuckled and took another sip from hers.
“So, I have the day off--and since you’re thankfully still here...maybe we could hang out?”
“Are you doing this because you actually want to hang out with me or because you’re taking pity on me after having to pull me from the edge of your building?”
“Definitely because I want to hang out with you...and I think you might want to take a break from your life for a bit, in a less macabre fashion of course,” Nicole finished her tea and reached for Waverly’s mug as well.
“Alright Nicole, I’m in--do your worst.”
Nicole and Waverly ended up in Central Park by noon--taking a stroll while Nicole pointed at different parts of the park and told wild stories associated with every location.
“Here we are,” Nicole excitedly gestured to an ordinary park bench, Waverly looked at her in disbelief poorly masked by a crooked smile.
“It’s a bench oooh,” Waverly threw on her best jazz hands and flashed a teasing smile at the redhead.
“Sit Waves, sit and watch,” Nicole plopped down on one side of the bench and patted the other side for Waverly to sit on. The brunette obliged and sat down, blushing once she felt their knees brush against each other.
“See that woman with the milk crate? That’s Constance, she puts on one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen--and I’ve been to Broadway like more times than I can count.”
“Three Card Monty? What you like magic tricks more than Wicked?”
“More than Wicked? No way. More than RENT? Absolutely, even the movie was garbage,” Nicole laughed as she kept her eyes on the small woman covered by a long green army jacket and a charcoal beanie. Her hands moved fast, Waverly noticed that much. She squinted at the “street performer” trying to find what Nicole found so entertaining about a lousy card trick--
“Boom! You see that?” Nicole leaned over and Waverly could smell the same vanilla scent that was on her bomber jacket from that morning.
"She lifted that dude's wallet. Watch her do it again to this poor bastard." The pair watched as the woman played the same game, this time taking another man's Rolex in the process.
"Holy shit she's smooth," Waverly gawked at the swift sleight of hand she witnessed.
"Like butter," Nicole looked over at Waverly and the two locked eyes for a few moments before the redhead turned away.
"Sometimes I'd grab a few dollar slices and waste a couple hours here just watching her con tourists and local idiots. It's an art, really."
"I'll say. I've been through here so many times...how did I miss her?"
"Sometimes you need to really look around to find new things in a place like this, Waves...besides I'd keep a low profile too if I was swindling dudes out of their earthly possessions."
"Makes sense," Waverly leaned back on the bench and gently leaned against Nicole's broad shoulders. She looked up at the taller woman, noticing how her eyes squint slightly and her nose crinkles when she laughs. Waverly couldn't take her eyes off of Nicole, feeling a sense of warmth and safety wash over her as the redhead continued to observe the con-artist. Nicole felt eyes on her and she turned to find Waverly peering up at her the same way a child looks in awe at the dinosaur fossils at the Museum of Natural History. She gave a warm smile to the smaller woman and playfully nudged her with her elbow.
"You can lean on me Waves--WHEN YOU'RE NOT STRONG, AND I'LL BE YOUR FRIEND--I'LL HELP YOU CARRY ON--OW!"
"Jesus Nic, you're gonna draw away her crowd if you don't shut up," Waverly playfully smacked Nicole's arm before leaning all her weight onto the woman next to her. The brunette closed her eyes for a few seconds and felt herself relax against the redhead's side--a smile gracing her lips once she realized that Nicole had put her arm around her.
"Come on, there's still a few things I want you to see," Nicole stood up and held out her hand for the brunette. Waverly took it and was pulled up a lot more gently than the last time she took Nicole's hand.
Waverly had seen more of New York than she could have possibly ever fathomed. It was shocking to think that she lived all her life there to only have seen about a quarter of what the city had to offer. Nicole was an amazing tour guide, and great company in general. She was keen on making sure Waverly really took the time to look at the things she showed her, like the kids that played on Home Depot buckets and sang medleys of hits from the different decades on the subway--or the man that played violin covers of pop songs in Times Square--or the many street artists that made the most beautiful sculptures and painted breathtaking pictures of the world around them. Waverly had never really seen this side of New York, but she was so glad she was finally seeing it-especially with someone like Nicole by her side.
The sun had begun to set when the two women returned to Nicole's building. CJ greeted them at the door and Waverly picked up the kitten and danced with her all around the apartment. Nicole grabbed a blanket and took in the sight of the alluring woman dancing around her apartment with her cat--a scene she didn't think she would ever get tired of seeing if the brunette felt the same way about her.
"CJ will still be here, we got one more stop," the redhead jingled the bag of vegan takeout and nodded towards the door. Waverly sauntered over to the redhead and took her hand, lacing their fingers together and walking hand in hand to the front door.
Nicole pulled the brunette close to her side, looking deep into hazel eyes.
"Do you trust me?" Nicole tensed her body in anticipation, subconsciously squeezing the brunettes hands in her own.
"I do, Nicole... I do," Waverly lightly traced the redhead's jaw line with her fingers as Nicole leaned into her touch, kissing the pad of her thumb in the process. The gesture prompted a spark of attraction between the two and they stayed still for a few seconds, taking in the feel of one another and committing it to memory. Nicole squeezed Waverly's hand again and began to pull her towards the stairs leading to the roof.
"Just remember that I got you, okay?" Nicole whispered into Waverly's knuckles before kissing them. Waverly looked at the roof access and only felt a faint drop in her stomach. For some reason, the sight wasn't as daunting as it was that morning when she first made her way to the roof. Nicole continued up the stairs with the smaller woman in tow until they found themselves on the roof for a second time that day.
"Sunsets are always beautiful up here," Nicole sighed. Carefully, she led Waverly to the edge of the building and unpacked the food, spreading across the very spot where Waverly had stood just hours ago. The brunette did feel nervous being back in the same place where she began her day, but it was bearable now after meeting Nicole and spending the day really seeing her world around her. She could almost argue with herself that coming full circle like this was almost cathartic. Waverly felt Nicole wrap a blanket around her shoulders and pull her in close. Tears fell gently down the brunette's cheeks, but she was well aware that they were tears of joy, not sadness or self pity. The very place where she tried to end it all was the same place that she felt at peace, she was happy for the first time in a long time.
Night fell soon after the sun had set. Nicole had kept Waverly talking and laughing for some time before she laid out another blanket behind them. She laid down and patted the space next to her, inviting Waverly to lie down with her. The smaller woman was surprised to see stars in the night sky above the city that never sleeps. Turns out Nicole and Waverly had taken enough astronomy classes to point out the different constellations for the next hour or so.
Waverly was listening to Nicole talk about Orion's belt when she reached for the redhead's hand. Nicole turned to her and smiled.
"I'm so glad you're here, Waves," the smaller woman's heart skipped a beat after hearing the nickname. She cupped Nicole's jaw with her free hand and locked eyes with the other woman.
"I am too," she stroked the redhead's face with her thumb and slowly leaned in until their lips connected in the softest, sweetest kiss she ever experienced. The more seconds flew by, the deeper the kiss became, as if both women pushed all their emotions behind every press and glide.
Time seemed to stop in that moment, and nothing else mattered. Waverly's colossal problems seemed so small--so insignificant while she was with Nicole. She hoped the night would never end, or she would at least be able to see Nicole the next day, and the day after that...and so forth.
Nicole pulled away slowly as the brunette groaned from the sudden distance.
"Waves, you are...a vision," Nicole breathed.
"Does this mean you want to keep this going after tonight?"
"Of course," Nicole pressed a kiss to Waverly's forehead,
"I just need you to wake up now, okay?"
"W-what? We are awake...Nic what are you--"
"Wake up babygirl, wake up...please," Nicole was practically begging Waverly at this point as the brunette looked back at her with bewilderment. She rolled into her back while Nicole kept asking her to wake up, she shut her eyes tight--the redhead's voice began to fade into a more familiar voice…
"Babygirl? Wake up, Waves...come on. Stay with me Waverly, stay with me…"
Waverly's eyes fluttered open and found her older sister, Wynonna standing over her. They were both on top of the same roof that Waverly had been on at least twice today, or was it only once?
"Oh thank God, Waverly sweetie everything's gonna be okay we're gonna get you checked out and then I'm taking you home alright?" Wynonna held her sister's head in her hands as the brunette groaned from the soreness she was feeling across the back of her body.
"Wha-what happened?" She slurred, struggling to sit up.
"Owner of the building found you here, said you must have passed out and fell backwards.”
“Wait, what time is it?”
“Quarter to nine in the morning. Waves--why were you up here?”
Waverly could sense that her older sister already knew the answer to her own question. She squirmed, avoiding the piercing slate blue eyes that were slowly piecing together that her little sister was trying to kill herself.
“Oh Waves,” Wynonna pulled Waverly into a tight hug, sobbing into her hair as she held on with all everything she had, with no intention of letting go.
“It’s okay Wyn, I’m still here. I’m here and I stay, okay?” Waverly hugged her sister back, stroking her hair and back to soothe the woman in her arms.
“I didn’t call out the whole rescue party, I didn’t want to spook you when you woke up. This is the EMT who is going to look at you and this is Officer Nicole Haught, the best of New York City’s finest...she’s going to keep you company when I can’t, okay?”
Waverly froze when she heard the familiar name, turning, she laid eyes on a tall, gorgeous red-headed woman who was standing behind Wynonna with soft, cocoa brown eyes and a beguiling smile. Waverly couldn’t help but stare at Officer Haught the entire time she slowly approached the smaller woman--she crouched down right next to her as she placed a strong and comforting hand on the brunette’s back. Waverly caught the faintest notes of vanilla pulsating off of the redhead, bringing her at ease with a sense of comfort and safety...and hope too.
“Hi Waverly, I’m Officer Nicole Haught...I got you now, okay?”
“I know,” Waverly whispered, smiling from ear to ear.