Actions

Work Header

But...How Does My Hair Look?

Chapter Text

Wynonna was awoken by a thunderous pounding on her door. "Wynonna? Wynonna are you in there? It’s me." With each new shout came more and more knocks and soon it sounded like the door might be beaten off its hinges if she didn't answer it soon.

She begrudgingly threw the blankets off herself and stumbled down the dark hallway towards her front door. It was the middle of the night and she had definitely been dead asleep. Once she reached the front door she ripped it open with anger consuming her features. She was about to unleash a series of obscenities at whoever was on the other side when she was greeted with a tear streaked and red faced Nicole Haught.

"Shit dude what happened?" She pushed her screen door open and quickly motioned for her friend to come inside. She had known her long enough to know when she was upset and this was by far the most upset she had ever seen her friend.

"Did you know?" Nicole whirled around once she was inside looking almost desperately at her friend.

"Know what?" Wynonna threw her hands out in a shrug as she stared at her friend curiously.

"That she was gonna leave me" Nicole sniffled and wiped a hand across her nose.

"What the fuck?" Wynonna shook her head as she nudged the door behind her closed. "Are you serious right now?”

"She left" Nicole deflated now and dropped onto the couch in the living room. She let out a heavy sigh as she felt herself overwhelmed with tears again "She left me Wynonna. She's gone."

"What. The. Fuck!" Wynonna emphasized the last word as she moved over to her friend. She stood near her as her head shook from side to side "Waverly dumped you?"

Nicole nodded in confirmation, unable to speak because her entire body had been consumed by painful sobs.

Wynonna stood with her hands on her hips watching the girl cry. She wasn't so good with tears or emotions. She didn't know what to say when people cried. She wasn’t great with comfort. She'd promised that when she had started to become friends with Nicole that she would not put herself between her and Waverly. She did not want to be involved. Now, here she was, the metaphorical shoulder to cry on.

"Come on, Haught" She finally gave in and moved to sit next to her friend. It kind of broke her heart a little to see her friend so torn up. The two of them had grown unexpectedly close. She would almost dare say Nicole was her best friend.

Nicole looked up at Wynonna when she sat beside her. She tried to wipe away her tears but it was futile as they were coming faster than she could swipe them away. Her face was puffy and she needed a tissue. She looked terrible but she didn't care. Her heart was broken "I tried to do everything she wanted. I tried to love her with my whole heart so she didn't have to ever doubt it. What did I do wrong?"

"Nothing" Wynonna felt her chest tighten as she watched her friend break down in front of her. She always thought she'd have to play this role for her sister but instead, here she was, doing her best to be there for Nicole. "Did she tell you why?"

"Something about needing to see the world?" Nicole's voice rose an octave and she threw her hands out in confusion. "I just don't understand why I couldn't come with!" The more she spoke the more hysterical she grew.

"Shit" Wynonna whispered. She knew her sister had wanted to get out of Purgatory and see the real world. She wanted to explore new cultures and old lands. She wanted an excuse to use the other languages she spoke fluently. Wynonna couldn't say she was surprised by this development. She was, however, shocked by her sister's decision to leave Nicole behind so suddenly.

Since the day they'd met they had been intolerably attached. They were happy. They lived in a bubble where nothing bad could happen as long as they were with one another. It had been disgusting to watch. Sure, Wynonna had been happy for her sister and she actually really liked Nicole but it had still been gross.

Hearing now that her sister had decided to answer the call of the wild and leave Purgatory behind, without Nicole, didn't sit too well with her for two reasons. The first being, obviously, that Waverly had not warned her or invited her to tag along. The second reason was sitting on her couch bawling her face off.

"Why? She didn't even give me a good reason!" Nicole wailed out and reached for Wynonna. Before the woman could escape Nicole wrapped her arms around her and clung to her tightly as she buried her face against Wynonna’s neck and continued to sob.

"There, there. Let it out" Wynonna mumbled as she gave a few pats to Nicole's back. She realized she wasn't getting out of this anytime soon so she decided not to fight it. She would let Nicole soak her shirt with tears if that's what she needed. She felt bad. She had never seen this side of a break up before. It was much easier to break a heart and walk away. Unfortunately Nicole had gotten the short end of the stick so the least Wynonna could do was let the girl cry herself to sleep on her shoulder while silently cursing her little sister for not warning her first.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

"Okay, but, dude, you could have at least warned me!" Wynonna hissed out through her teeth as she threw her hands out in frustration.

"I knew if I told you that you'd try and talk me out of it" Waverly's arms wrapped around herself and her eyes dropped to her feet. "I’ve made up my mind. I didn't want anything or anyone to stop me."

"Babygirl you should know I support you in this" Wynonna sighed as her arms dropped to her sides in defeat. She could tell her sister felt terrible. "But did you have to do it so suddenly?" She motioned to the sign of the bus station they were standing in front of at the moment.

"I was only thinking about me for once in my life" Waverly shrugged but honestly didn’t look too sorry about her decision.

"What about me?" Wynonna yelped and motioned to her chest with one hand as the other gestured vaguely off toward somewhere else. "You’re just gonna leave me here with the mess you made?"

"You'll be fine" Waverly rolled her eyes reaching down to scoop up the duffle bag she had hastily packed before going to tell Nicole that she was leaving. "And so will she."

"Listen, I get that you need to do what you need to do" Wynonna whirled around to follow her sister as she walked into the bus station. "I'm not pissed about you finally getting out of here and seeing the world. You deserve it." She managed to step in front of her sister and stop her in her tracks. When their eyes met her brows furrowed into an annoyed scowl "I'm furious that you're leaving me here to pick up the pieces. She's wrecked, Waves. You don’t do shit like that to the people you love."

"That's not fair" Waverly's tone thickened with sadness. Her head gave a weak shake and she felt tears starting to form behind her eyes. "You know I love her. But I don't know who I am outside of this bubble" She motioned vaguely around herself. "I need to go out and truly find myself before I can know for sure that I’m loving her for the right reasons."

"Damn you" Wynonna let out a defeated sigh and pulled her sister into a hug. If anyone understood needing to get out of Purgatory, it was her. She just hated the damage being left in the wake of Waverly’s sudden departure. She pulled out of the hug and fixed her sister with a stern look "Don't come back until you know for sure who you are and what you want. But don't be surprised if her needs and wants have changed in that time, too."

Waverly nodded her head and hugged her sister more tightly. She held it for a moment before she finally pulled back. She gave her a soft, sad looking smile and stepped back completely. “I love you, Wynonna.”

“I love you, too, you asshole” Wynonna grumbled and stepped out of Waverly’s path so she could continue on her way into the bus station. She let out a heavy sigh and stuffed her hands into the pockets of the leather jacket she always wore. She watched Waverly make her way inside and when the girl paused and threw a little wave her way she nodded in acknowledgement. She waited until Waverly was completely out of sight, and then waited a few minutes more, before she shook her head and walked away. She was not very excited about the task ahead of her but she knew there was no avoiding it. She had to make sure Nicole didn’t completely fall to pieces because, whether she liked it or not, she needed her more now than ever before.

~.~.~.~.~.

“Alright, I have had enough!” Wynonna shouted as she stormed over to her friend’s window and threw the curtains open to let in the sunlight. She then turned around and moved to where Nicole was sprawled out on her bed. She used her boot to shake the mattress a few times in an attempt to stir the girl out of her slumber.

Nicole groaned and lifted her face off of her pillow. She looked up at Wynonna with one open eye then shook her head and rolled to the side, pulling the blanket over herself to hide her face “Go away, Wynonna.”

“No” Wynonna reached out and tugged the blanket out of Nicole’s grip. She then tossed it behind herself and reached out to slap Nicole’s ass a few times “Get up. Get out of bed. Move on with your life.”

“Leave me alone!” Nicole rolled to her back and set Wynonna with a furious glare.

“No” Wynonna repeated as she reached down and started to pull at Nicole’s leg as she tried to get her off the bed. “You smell like ass. You need to shower. You need to change your clothes. You need to eat something.”

“It’s only been a week” Nicole whined and kicked blindly at Wynonna’s attempt to pull her out of bed.

“That is long enough” Wynonna slapped at Nicole’s legs then moved away from the kicking. She moved to stand near Nicole’s head. She set her hands on her hips and stared at the girl “Time to move on.”

“We were together for a year!” Nicole sat up, throwing her hands out in frustration. “It’s going to take some time!”

“Woah” Wynonna lifted her hand and held it between herself and Nicole. She blinked a few times as if she had been hit with something before her head shook and she let out a laugh. “Your breath, dude. No wonder she left you.”

“Not funny” Nicole swatted Wynonna’s hand out from between them and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have to be so fucking rude.”

“Well, yeah, I do” Wynonna reached out and grabbed ahold of Nicole’s arm. She once more started to tug, attempting to get the woman to stand. “I’ve been nice for a week. I’ve let you cry for a week. I’m over it. So you are going to get up, shower, brush your stank ass teeth, and get back to living your life. Because-” She paused, pointing at Nicole who looked like she was about to argue. She shook her head and dropped her hand slowly “-She’s out there living her life already, Nicole. You need to do the same.”

Nicole’s face fell into a frown. She let out a sigh and moved to the end of the bed. She swatted at Wynonna’s hand still on her arm before looking up at her. She rolled her eyes and finally gave into all the prodding by standing up. “You need to work on your bedside manner.”

Wynonna reached out and grabbed hold of Nicole’s face, holding her chin between her thumb and the rest of her fingers. She squeezed until the other woman’s lips squished up, nearly puckering, before she shook Nicole’s head back and forth slightly “I’m mean because I love you, Nicole. Now-” She released Nicole’s face, tapping her cheek in a few light slaps, before she stepped back and motioned in the direction of the bathroom with a few dismissive flicks of her fingers.

Nicole huffed in displeasure and turned away from her friend. She stormed toward the bathroom filled with annoyance but also filled with gratitude. It had only been a week, and she still hurt, but she knew Wynonna was right. She did have to start trying to move on.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

"Come on, we're going out" Wynonna walked into the kitchen of the Homestead where Nicole was sitting and tossed her coat over her head.

"I don't want to go out" Nicole grumbled as she slid the coat off her head and fixed Wynonna with a glare.

"Too bad" Wynonna went over to the cabinet and grabbed the bottle of whiskey. She took a drink straight from the bottle, grimacing as she swallowed, before she licked her lips and pointed at Nicole "You've been moping around here for weeks. It is time you get out and meet someone new."

"I am not ready to date again" Nicole rolled her eyes.

"Who said anything about dating?" Wynonna pushed off the counter and moved over to Nicole. "You know what they say? The best way to get over someone is to get under someone new!" As she spoke she thrust her hips near Nicole with a smirk on her face.

"Is that your answer for everything?" Nicole shoved Wynonna's gyrating hips away and got up from the table. She moved to the sink to rinse her plate before glancing back "Where's Doc? Can't you distract yourself with him and leave my sex life alone?"

"He is out…." Wynonna's smirk faded as her hand lifted and flitted around aimlessly before shrugging "He decided he needed to sow his wild oats. Again. Honestly, I think he knows I will never truly forgive him for becoming a vampire and he's probably not coming back this time. But…" Her smile returned and she focused back on Nicole "....We are not going to think about the losers who left us behind."

"Your sister is a loser now?" Nicole perked an eyebrow curiously at the sentiment.

"She is tonight! Now-" Wynonna motioned over all of Nicole's form before giving a shrug "Nevermind, you're naturally attractive or something so you don't need to get ready. So let's go!"

"Wynonna, no. I-"

Before Nicole could argue she was being tugged so harshly she stumbled to keep her feet under her as Wynonna pulled her through the Homestead and toward her truck.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

"Her?" Wynonna raised a questioning eyebrow as she motioned to a dark haired girl across the bar.

Nicole shook her head without even looking as she sipped from her beer.

"Dude you aren't even trying!" Wynonna huffed and set a firm glare on her friend.

"I don't want or need to meet someone new" Nicole grumbled over the rim of the mug she was drinking from. "This was your idea, anyway. Why aren't you out there trying to get over Doc?"

Wynonna glanced around the entirety of Pussy Willows, scanning the faces of everyone who had decided to come out to enjoy their evening, before she shrugged and focused back on her friend. "Let's just assume everyone here doesn't like me."

"Yet you think you'll be able to help me rope in a one night stand?" Nicole sputtered out a laugh before taking another drink. "At this rate we're going to end up going home with each other." Nicole frowned at that as her lip curled up on one side of her face in disliking "I am somehow more depressed now."

Wynonna reached out and swatted Nicole in the side of the head as an offended gasp left her lips. "You'd be lucky to go home with me! I am a prize!"

"Yeah, one that everyone-" Nicole motioned around the bar with the beer mug she held "-has won. Pass." She smirked and slid off of her stool. She stumbled slightly because she had a few drinks in her already. Once she caught her balance she laughed at herself then turned and looked at Wynonna with her smirk returning "I'm going to catch a cab back to my place" She set her nearly finished beer on a nearby table then turned and stumbled the rest of the way out of the bar.

Wynonna huffed heavily out of her nose and stood from her stool. She finished her drink then slammed her mug down fiercely. It wasn’t that she was upset by what Nicole had said but rather that Nicole had gotten her pretty good. Stupid, annoying, uptight Nicole Haught had bested her for once. She narrowed her eyes at the doorway that her friend had disappeared through. "Dumbass can find her own way home" She grumbled before motioning to the bartender that she wanted another drink. Just because Nicole was gonna be lame and go home early didn't mean she couldn't get sloshed and at least attempt to find someone she hadn't already slept with or pissed off.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

“HAUGHT!” Wynonna yelled out loudly from where she stood on the street in front of Nicole’s house. She squinted to make sure that it was the right house. She was pretty sure it was. Blue, white trim, two stories, a nice big porch out front, and much bigger than the woman actually needed. She nodded when she decided it was the right house then cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled again “Nicooooooole!”

It was the middle of the night and there was absolutely no sound in the neighborhood. She could have spoken in a normal tone and it would have echoed but, being as drunk as she was, she was not in control of her volume so she once more yelled up at the house as she tossed a rock at the window “SHERIFF STUPID FACE ARE YOU AWAKE?”

Obviously, Nicole was asleep. She had taken a cab home and passed out hours ago. This displeased Wynonna because she was standing in the middle of the cold night wanting to get inside her house. Why hadn’t she gone to the Homestead? Because the guy to whom she had offered a handjob for a ride lived only two blocks away from Nicole and as soon as they had gotten to his house Wynonna had changed her mind and ran. She figured getting to Nicole’s house was as good as getting home.

When there was still no answer from Nicole, Wynonna decided she was just going to walk in. She had tried to wake Nicole up and ask her permission to come inside but since she had so rudely not answered what other choice did Wynonna have? None, really. So she walked up to the front door and turned the doorknob as she walked into the doorway at full speed.

The door was locked, much to her surprise, and it wasn’t until she was bouncing off the solid wood and stumbling backwards that she realized that she should have expected that. She gave her head a shake and walked back off the porch, lifting her eyes to examine the house carefully, before she rounded the right side. She lifted her hand and counted the windows. She was pretty sure she knew which one was Nicole’s bedroom.

Deciding she could totally climb a tree in her current state of intoxication she rushed over to the tree near the right side of the house and started to climb. Surprisingly, probably because she was like the Hulk when she was drunk, she managed to make pretty quick work of the branches. Soon she was at the same level as the roof over the porch and decided she could totally make the leap. She inched out onto the branch slowly, testing its strength as she went. When she was as far out as she dare go she bounced the branch up and down slowly a few times until she had enough momentum to launch herself toward the house.

She landed on the roof over the porch with a loud thud. She landed on her stomach and it knocked the air out of her for a few moments. She rolled over, groaned loudly, clutched at her stomach, and just tried to catch her breath. There was a moment while she laid there where she nearly fell asleep due to her severely intoxicated state of being.

Then she sat up with a loud gasp. She groaned as her hand rubbed back and forth over her stomach a few times before she shook it off and focused on her task. She turned over so she was on her hands and knees and crawled over to the window she had decided led to Nicole’s bedroom. She lifted herself up onto her knees to look inside, her hands cupping around her eyes as she pressed her face to the glass. She squinted in an attempt to get her eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. That is when she saw the bright red numbers of Nicole’s alarm clock shining back at her.

“Haught” Wynonna whispered loudly as her hand started to tap on the window. She kept her face pressed to the glass as her hand knocked steadily “Hey, Haught! Wake up and let me in!”

Nicole was dead to the world. The alcohol coursing through her veins had aided in her getting one of the best nights of sleep she had gotten since Waverly had left. The knocking from the window took longer than usual to penetrate her sleeping ears. When it finally did it took another few moments for her to process what she was hearing. Then, all at once, she realized it was the middle of the night and someone was knocking at her window.

She rolled over quickly and reached for her gun that she kept in the drawer of her nightstand. She pulled it out and pointed it at the window as she got to her feet. She narrowed her sleepy eyes, trying to focus, as she slowly took a step toward the noise. After another two steps the rest of her body seemed to wake up and she actually heard what the noise was. When she heard her name coming from a familiar voice, she let out a heavy sigh and lowered her gun.

“Are you an idiot?” She hissed as she ripped her window open. “Wait, don’t answer that. Yes, you are an idiot. What the Hell, Wynonna?” She motioned to her drunk friend sitting on her roof in the middle of the night.

“Hi, pretty” Wynonna put on a wider than necessary smile and waved her hand in a full circle in front of her before letting out a soft laugh “So funny story…”

Nicole huffed and lifted the gun she held in her hand to show it to her friend “You are lucky I am not trigger happy! What were you thinking climbing onto my roof, drunk, in the middle of the night? You could have been killed!”

“But I knew you wouldn’t shoot me” Wynonna reached through the window and tapped Nicole on the nose. She then lifted her knee onto the windowsill and ducked her head inside. With her balance compromised by the alcohol in her system, the small shift caused her to fall head first onto the floor.

Nicole sighed heavily as her eyes dropped to Wynonna’s body sprawled out on the floor. She gave a shake of her head and pushed her window shut, clicking the lock in place, before stepping over Wynonna and moving back to her bed. She sat on the side of her mattress, let out a loud yawn, set her gun back in her night stand, then turned to lay back in bed. “You know where the couch-”

She was cut off by the feeling of the other side of the mattress being sat on. She perked an eyebrow and rolled from her right side to her back. That is when she saw Wynonna sitting beside her on the bed struggling to get her boots off. She sat up and motioned to her friend with a shake of her head “What are you doing?”

“You ever sleep in jeans and boots?” Wynonna grumbled as she fell backwards while nearly pulling her boot to her chest in an attempt to remove it. When it finally popped off she nearly hit herself in the face with it. But she just missed and instead tossed it on the floor with a little annoyance.

“No, I mean-” Nicole was once more cut off as Wynonna stood up and pushed her jeans off her hips without hesitation. This exposed the fact that she was wearing a thong which, essentially, revealed her entire bare ass to Nicole. This made her blush and quickly look away. It was not the first time she had ever seen Wynonna’s ass, unfortunately, but that did not mean it still didn’t embarrass the shit out of her to see anyone in any degree of nakedness. If she wasn’t sleeping with you she only wanted to see you fully dressed.

Wynonna didn’t notice. She had peeled off her coat and slipped her bra off from under her shirt in one seamless motion. Now in just her tshirt and panties she turned toward the bed, lifted the blanket and sheets, and slid in beside Nicole. Her head hit the pillow, her eyes closed, and she let out a heavy sigh that turned into a yawn.

Nicole sat there looking dumbfounded. She stared at Wynonna with her mouth gaping open slightly. She blinked a few times then shook her head and huffed out in confusion. She threw her hands up in defeat and turned around so her back was toward her friend that had, apparently, decided they were sharing a bed. “Yeah, sure Wynonna, you can sleep in my bed. It’s not weird at all.”

A silence fell over the room now. Nicole tried to relax even though she was now acutely aware of the fact that Wynonna was less than a foot away from her. She didn’t know why, exactly, but it just didn’t seem right to be sharing a bed with her ex-girlfriend’s sister. She felt like she was betraying Waverly. It wasn’t like the woman had considered her feelings when she decided to just up and leave to explore the world but still. She felt like it was wrong.

Just as she had relaxed enough to close her eyes and attempt to sleep she felt Wynonna’s arm slide around her waist. Her eyes shot open and she turned to look over her shoulder at her friend. She couldn’t tell if she was awake or not. “Wynonna” She whispered and gave a little nudge with her elbow. The only response she got was a heavy snort and her friend’s arm pulling around her waist more tightly. She let out a heavy sigh and turned to put her head back on her pillow. Well it looked like she was the little spoon in an unexpected and awkward drunken snuggle. She doubted she would relax enough to sleep now. Stupid Wynonna. She should have shoved her off the roof.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

After that night it became a regular thing for Wynonna to come to Nicole’s window in the middle of the night after being out drinking. It had only annoyed Nicole the first few times before she started to kind of like the company. Wynonna always complained that Nicole never stayed out late enough with her and this was her way of getting more quality time with her best friend. If both of them were being honest with themselves, though, they were using the other as a way to cope with their own crippling loneliness.

Soon their mutual loneliness started to fade as they spent more and more time together. It got to the point where they were actually planning their evenings around one another. They wouldn’t make any plans until they had asked what the other one was doing. Most nights Nicole had to convince Wynonna not to go out drinking again because it was a waste of time. Neither of them were going to find rebound hookups so maybe they should focus on moving on in other ways.

That didn’t stop Wynonna from talking Nicole into going out drinking at least once a week. It was a good compromise. Nicole would give in and let Wynonna drag her out and force her to hit on girls all night if that meant they could stay in and just watch movies the rest of the week. Somehow, against all logic and reasoning, Wynonna didn’t complain about staying in most nights of the week. It was almost as if she had shifted her priorities. Maybe she had. Maybe she had realized that taking care of Nicole, helping to heal her from the heartbreak left behind by Waverly, had actually started to help herself heal, too.

The nights they did end up going out drinking were the nights that Wynonna ended up climbing through Nicole’s window and crashing in her bed. She had a key to Nicole’s house but she still insisted on coming through the window. She thought it was hilarious. After a month of Wynonna climbing the tree, Nicole had propped a ladder up on the side of her house to make the climb at least a little safer. She still wished the woman would come through the front door but at least now she didn’t have to climb the tree and jump across to the roof.

One night, four months after Waverly left, while Nicole and Wynonna were out drinking something new happened. Nicole stood up off her barstool out of nowhere, looked down at Wynonna, and gave her a nod “Alright, here I go.”

Wynonna let out a loud, annoyed groan and rolled her eyes, “Is it time for you to go home alone and sulk already?”

“What? I don’t sulk” Nicole huffed then shook her head as her hand waved dismissively to the side “No, I’m going to go hit on that girl over there by the jukebox.”

This surprised Wynonna and it showed on her face. She blinked once then followed Nicole’s motioning toward the girl she had been eyeing all night. When her gaze landed on the girl she carefully looked her over. Her eyes narrowed and it looked like she was scanning the girl for flaws. After a few seconds she looked back at Nicole and shrugged “Are you sure?”

“Yes” Nicole nodded firmly, sounding confident. Then her eyes fell to Wynonna’s suspicious look and her confidence faded. Her eyes went wide with a little panic and she shrugged slightly “Wait, why not her? She’s hot and I’ve caught her staring at me a few times tonight.”

“I didn’t say anything” Wynonna shrugged and turned boredly away from her friend. She motioned to the bartender, holding up two fingers, before picking up her beer and finishing it off.

“You didn’t have to say anything. Your face said it all” Nicole frowned and sat next to her friend. Her eyes shifted back across the bar to where the woman was. She eyed her carefully, as if looking for what her friend had seen, before she sighed and looked back to Wynonna “What’s wrong with her?”

“Nothing” Wynonna laughed out softly as the bartender came over with two shots. She grabbed ahold of both of them and turned toward Nicole. She offered both of the drinks to her friend and gave a nod “I am just surprised you’re ready to finally jump back in. Now, go…” She motioned to the shots Nicole held and gave her a more genuine smile “...go get your muff dive on.”

“I’m not gonna-” Nicole felt her cheeks flush and she rolled her eyes. She shook off Wynonna’s words because she definitely did not need to be thinking about that. She just wanted to say hi, have a few drinks, maybe make out a little, and call it a night. So she focused on that as she approached the girl with the shots in her hands.

Wynonna watched her friend for a few minutes. It seemed like Nicole and the other girl had hit it off pretty well. There were smiles and laughs and they had already ordered another round of drinks. Seeing that it was going well for her friend, Wynonna turned around and scanned the room for herself now. If Nicole was going to hook up that night she might as well try and do so as well. Her attempts to find someone interesting lasted only a minute or two before she gave up with a shrug. She turned back around to watch Nicole work her magic on the new girl. It was a sad night when that was the most interesting thing going on in the bar.

After ten minutes it was growing increasingly obvious that both women were interested in one another. Nicole was leaning into the girl, tucking hair behind the girl’s ear, and using her charming smile with her irresistible dimples to really seal the deal.

A rock seemed to have settled in the pit of Wynonna’s stomach as she watched her friend successfully flirt with the girl. She wasn’t sure why but sitting there watching it all unfold did not feel great to her. She couldn’t figure out what felt so wrong about it all. Was it that protective part of her that wanted to keep her sister’s heart safe? It had been Waverly’s choice to walk away so why in the Hell was it so unsettling to see Nicole attempting to move on now? Maybe it was something else. She couldn’t pin down why it bothered her. All she knew for sure was that she did not like it at all.

Before she realized what she was doing, she pushed herself off her barstool and made a beeline for the two women. She didn’t even hesitate to wedge herself between her friend and the stranger, facing Nicole as she did so. She put on a forced smile and nodded toward the door “Come on, Haught, let’s blow this popsicle stand.”

“Wh-what?” Nicole looked absolutely stunned at the sudden appearance and insistence of her friend. Her head shook and her brows curled together in a scowl “Um, you can leave by yourself. I was having a good time!”

“With her?” Wynonna motioned blindly over her shoulder and let out a sputtering laugh as if that was the most ridiculous thing in the world. “You can do so much better. Let’s make like a rectum and get the shit out of here.”

“Wynonna, I am not ready to-” Nicole didn’t get to finish her protest. Wynonna had grabbed hold of her arm and tugged her off her feet. She stumbled and managed to catch herself, thanks to the hold Wynonna had on her, and quickly righted herself. She pulled at her arm and tried to plant her feet but her friend was surprisingly quick and was not giving her the chance to stop her. “Wynonna, let go of me! Why are you acting like this?”

“I have no idea” Wynonna growled at her friend as they pushed through the door and out into the cold night air. She turned and looked back at her friend, still holding her arm tightly, before giving her head a shake “I just didn’t like it. I got a funny feeling in my gut.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t the huge burrito you ate before we got here?” Nicole hissed in annoyance and tried to tear her arm away from Wynonna. When she was unsuccessful she stomped her foot and started to jerk her arm steadily in an attempt to free herself. “Seriously, Wynonna, let go of me!”

“No because you are going to go back in there and make a huge mistake” Wynonna turned away from her friend and lifted her hand to flag down one of the many cabs that hung around outside the bars at night waiting for someone who needed a ride. As one pulled up to them she glanced back at Nicole and motioned to the car “Get in.”

“You literally have no right!” Nicole growled and finally ripped her arm away from her friend. She turned on her heels and started back toward the bar.

Wynonna was quick and snatched Nicole by the back collar of her coat. This stopped the woman’s retreat with a violent jerk. While Nicole struggled to get her balance as she stumbled backwards, Wynonna opened the door of the cab and threw her arm toward the backseat.

The momentum from Wynonna’s tug caused Nicole to stumble into the car. She caught herself before she fell into the backseat fully and managed to pull herself to standing. By the time she righted herself, though, she was pinned between Wynonna and the cab and she let out a frustrated grunt “What is your deal?”

“Just get in” Wynonna mumbled more calmly and motioned to the cab.

“I’m not getting in” Nicole shook her head in protest.

“Please?” Wynonna’s tone was soft now which surprised both Nicole and herself.

Nicole opened her mouth to argue again but stopped when she saw the look on her friend’s face and heard her soft tone. She didn’t know why but it unnerved her to see Wynonna’s eyes silently pleading for her to just get into the cab. Despite herself, she let out a frustrated sigh and finally ducked her head to get into the backseat.

Wynonna let out a sigh of relief and waited for Nicole to slide across the seat before she climbed in. Once the door was shut and the cab lurched into motion both women settled back into the seat in silence. Neither of them really understood what had just happened and they sat in the quiet of the cab trying to figure it out.

~.~.~.~.~.

Nicole threw her coat down as soon as they walked in the front door of her house. She then whirled around and threw her hands out in frustration “What the Hell was that all about?”

“I don’t fucking know!” Wynonna threw her hands out to the side too. She was just as confused and frustrated by what she had done as Nicole was. She stared at her friend, holding her arms out to the sides for a few seconds, before they dropped to her legs and she let out a relenting sigh “I told you, I got a weird feeling in my gut.”

Nicole rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest “So now you suddenly have the ability to feel when someone isn’t good enough for your friend to have rebound sex with?”

“Pfft, no” Wynonna couldn’t help the laugh that sputtered through her lips at that. “Please, I can’t even make that distinction for myself.” She shook her head and started to peel off her coat now, her head shaking as she tried to figure out why she had reacted the way she had.

“What are you doing?” Nicole motioned to her friend who was now hanging her coat on the coat tree.

Wynonna paused before she released her coat and looked up at her friend. She eyed her curiously then slowly let the coat come to rest on the knob “Taking off my coat?”

“You think I want you to stay?” Nicole snorted out and gave her head a shake before she moved to her couch and took a seat. “I’m pissed at you.”

“So?” Wynonna laughed softly at that and moved to sit on the end of the couch opposite of Nicole. She leaned down to untie her boots, mimicking the same motion that Nicole was currently engaged in.

“So?” Nicole mocked Wynonna’s tone and pulled off her boots with a frustrated huff. “So you can’t stay over tonight.”

Wynonna rolled her eyes and tossed the boot she had just removed haphazardly to the middle of the living room. She then shifted to start on her other foot “You and I both know you want me to stay.”

“You don’t know how I’m feeling” Nicole growled as she pulled her second boot off. She scooped them both up, stood up quickly, and stormed over to the coat tree. She set her boots neatly on a placemat next to the base then turned and motioned angrily at the two boots that laid sloppily wherever they had landed once Wynonna tossed them away “I’m serious, Wynonna. Get your shit and go home.”

Wynonna shook her head and stood up. She held her hands out to the side as if stabilizing herself for a few seconds before letting out a laugh and rounding the couch. She had sobered up when she had suddenly pulled Nicole out of the bar but the lingering alcohol in her system was hanging around to remind her she was still intoxicated. “Come on” She yawned and motioned for Nicole to follow her as she headed for the stairs.

“Wynonna, I-” Nicole huffed in frustration and once more motioned to the boots. She didn’t know why it surprised her that Wynonna was being so stubborn about staying. That was her friend’s brand. She did what she wanted with no regard for anyone else. It was annoying. It was also how they had gotten into the habit of drunk cuddling which, admittedly, had been nice the last few months. It helped her feel a little less alone.

“Come on” Wynonna repeated and paused a few steps up when she realized Nicole hadn’t moved. She fixed her eyes a little more softly on her friend and motioned with her head in the direction of the stairs she was already standing on. “Get your ass up here.”

Damn it if Nicole wasn’t a sucker for an Earp girl. For some reason it didn’t matter how annoyed or upset she was with them. If either of them set their eyes in a gentle gaze and spoke softly to her she was going to bend to their will. Plus, again, she did kind of like the fact that she didn’t have to always sleep alone. She rolled her eyes at herself and stomped her way over to the steps “Fine, but I’m still pissed at you.”

“Get over it” Wynonna mumbled through a yawn as she continued up the stairs once Nicole was behind her.

The two of them puttered around as they prepared for bed. They worked silently around one another, as if they had been doing it for years. By this point Wynonna had a toothbrush in Nicole’s bathroom. Nicole had insisted on it after the third time her friend had crawled in through the window. The woman had terrible morning breath after a night of drinking so Nicole had taken it upon herself to get her a toothbrush.

Nicole crawled into bed while Wynonna took her turn to brush her teeth. She let out a frustrated sigh and rolled onto her right hand side, a position she had gotten used to sleeping in when she shared a bed with Wynonna. She was still upset, and confused, at Wynonna’s actions that night. For months Wynonna had been trying to get her to hookup with someone else and when she finally tried Wynonna freaked out. It just didn’t make any sense.

Wynonna came back into the room and rounded the bed to her unofficially dedicated side. She undid her jeans and wiggled her hips as she worked the material down until she could kick them off. She then pulled her bra off through the sleeve of her shirt and flung it to the side before she reached for the sheets. When she finally looked up she saw Nicole watching her. She perked an eyebrow at her friend then let out a laugh as she crawled into bed “Perv.”

“I bought pajamas for you” Nicole huffed and motioned to the nightstand on Wynonna’s side of the bed.

“I don’t sleep in pajamas” Wynonna mocked Nicole’s tone as she settled on her right side and propped her head up on her hand as her elbow came to rest on the pillow. “You should be thanking me. I usually sleep naked.”

Nicole rolled her eyes at her friend before rolling back to her right. She hated how stubborn Wynonna was about everything. She let out a heavy sigh and pulled the sheets up over her shoulders “Why are you so obnoxious?”

“I like to think my wild dedication to my way of life keeps things fun” Wynonna laughed softly as she shifted to now lay her head on the pillow, tucking her right arm under the pillow.

“Not everything you do is adorable, Wynonna” Nicole grumbled as her eyes closed. “Like you pulling me out of the bar tonight. That was totally unacceptable.”

Wynonna’s amusement faded. She frowned and let out a heavy sigh as her eyes focused on Nicole’s back “I can’t explain that. Something just did not feel right.”

“So you’ve said” Nicole rolled over and cast a scowl at her friend. She held her eyes on her for a few seconds before she shook her head and rolled back to her previous position. “The next time you get a gut feeling to cockblock me I would appreciate it if you would ignore it.”

“Cockblock” Wynonna laughed the word out but she was not amused. The thought made her stomach feel heavy again, like it had earlier in the bar. She definitely did not like the idea of Nicole sleeping with someone else. The only way to rationalize the confusing feeling was that she was experiencing some sort of secondhand jealousy for her sister.

A silence fell between the two friends and after a few moments it was clear the Nicole was asleep. Wynonna, however, was still reeling about what she had done. Waverly had left Nicole. Waverly had broken Nicole’s heart. Wynonna had spent months by Nicole’s side nursing her broken heart. If anyone deserved to move on it was Nicole. So why was Wynonna still so fiercely protective? Why did she care who Nicole hooked up with? She couldn’t quite quell the feeling that there was something other than protecting her sister behind her actions that night.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

“Sooooo” Wynonna drew the word out as she approached Nicole where she sat in her office. When she saw that she had her friend’s attention she gave her an exaggerated smile and slid into the chair in front of Nicole’s desk. She set down the to go box of food she had brought with her and tapped the top of it before focusing on her friend and batting her eyes cutely “I say we try again tonight and this time I promise not to cockblock you.”

Nicole lifted her eyes from the paperwork she was doing and set an annoyed scowl on her features. She stared at Wynonna silently for a few moments before shaking her head and looking down at the box of food. “You can’t just barge in here whenever you want and try to impose your will on me. In this office, I am in charge. I know you don’t really respect authority but I thought you at least respected me as a friend.”

“I do!” Wynonna’s voice rose an octave at her insistent outburst. “Nicole, seriously! I do respect you as both Sheriff and a friend. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful” She motioned to the box of food she had brought in and shrugged “I was trying to extend an olive branch and right my wrong.”

Nicole rolled her eyes and looked slowly back up at her friend. Her face was stoic as she stared at her for a few moments. She needed Wynonna to know that her actions the night before were not acceptable. She finally let out a sigh and looked back at the food as she reached for it, “I don’t really feel like going out again tonight.”

“I get it” Wynonna’s tone was soft. She hadn’t realized how badly she had messed up until Nicole had given her the silent treatment that morning. She really was sorry. She wished she could explain her actions from the previous night but, honestly, she was as confused as Nicole was. She did know, however, that she wanted to make it right. She stood from the chair and gave a motion to the food that Nicole was now opening “Well if you change your mind you know where to find me. Have a nice day, Nicole.”

“Tuna?” Nicole perked an eyebrow and looked up at Wynonna curiously as she realized what was inside the to go box. “How did you know?”

Wynonna paused at the door of Nicole’s office. She smirked very slightly and gave a casual shrug “I know you tend to believe I’m self-involved but I do pay attention. For as long as you’ve been working here you’ve ordered tuna every Thursday. I mean…” She let out a sad sounding sigh and flicked her hand to the side “...on the days Waverly didn’t pack you a lunch.”

Nicole’s smile at Wynonna’s thoughtfulness faltered when Waverly was mentioned. She gave a sideways shrug and dropped her eyes to the sandwich. She peeled the top of the bread back and noticed right away that her order was absolutely correct. She perked a surprised eyebrow and looked back to Wynonna “No pickles and you added swiss cheese?”

“I told you” Wynonna rolled her eyes in fake annoyance as a smirk came to her lips. “I pay attention.” She tapped the door frame on her way out of the office now, reaching her hand back and wiggling her fingers at Nicole in a wave as she left without another word.

Nicole drew in a deep breath and shook her head in amusement as she looked back at the sandwich. She put the top piece of bread back on the sandwich and tapped it once. A smile lingered on her lips as she thought about the gesture from her friend. It was hard to stay mad at Wynonna when she went and did little things like this. She had to admit she was surprised by the thoughtfulness.

The more she thought about it, as she enjoyed her lunch, the more she realized just how much Wynonna had stepped up in the past few months. She really had embraced the role of being Nicole’s person of comfort while she got through the breakup. A smile creased her lips at that. She really couldn’t thank Wynonna enough for helping her move forward even if she had done it in the most obnoxious way possible.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

Chapter Text

“Okay, how about her?” Nicole’s eyes were on a woman she had never seen before as her hand reached back blindly to tap Wynonna in an effort to get her attention. When her hand was met with nothing but air she frowned and turned around toward her friend. That is when she noticed that Wynonna had, at some point, gotten up and was standing a few barstools down making flirty eyes at the only guy in the bar that didn’t seem to know who she was.

With a shake of her head, Nicole lifted her beer to her mouth and took a sip. She had agreed to go out to the bar again with Wynonna only because she knew how badly her friend felt. But now she was regretting it. Instead of the focus being on her it was obvious Wynonna had plans of her own. She let out a sigh and slouched over her beer as she leaned into the bar.

Try as she might to ignore what was happening less than ten feet to her right, she failed. She shifted in her seat to at least get a better view while she watched Wynonna work her magic, or whatever. She propped her head up on her left fist as her right hand worked to lift her beer to her mouth every now and then. She realized as she was watching Wynonna that she had never really witnessed her friend in full on flirt mode. It was kind of unnerving. She could see Wynonna using all the same techniques she used to sweet talk Nicole into bending to her will on the helpless guy in the bar at the moment. That definitely didn’t sit well in the pit of Nicole’s stomach.

She turned away at that thought. Her head shook with a mix of annoyance and disgust. Had Wynonna been using her flirting moves on Nicole this entire time because she knew that Nicole would fall for it? Or did Wynonna simply stick to what she knew worked without discriminating based on gender? It was really stupid, actually. Nicole wasn’t sure why she was upset by it, but she was. She wasn’t sure what idea she hated more: That she had fallen for Wynonna’s feminine wiles or that Wynonna was using the same techniques with the random dude right now. Both ideas sucked. But why? That was probably the most confusing part of it all.

Maybe it was the alcohol in her system. Maybe it was the disappointment in her friend from the night before. Maybe she was just lonely. Whatever it was caused a sudden wave of anger to rush through her. She turned on her barstool, planted her feet on the ground to stand, and took a few steps toward Wynonna. Much like her friend had done the night prior, she pushed herself between the stranger and Wynonna and fixed her eyes on her firmly “We gotta go now.”

“Very mature. Move” Wynonna rolled her eyes and put her hand on Nicole’s shoulder as she attempted to shove her friend to the side. She was surprised to feel how solid Nicole’s balance was in that moment and she took a slight step back from her as she lifted a wide eyed surprised stare at her friend “Are you serious right now?”

“Let’s go” Nicole grabbed hold of Wynonna’s sleeve and started to tug her away from the bar.

“Absolutely not” Wynonna growled and ripped her arm away from her friend. Her surprise faded into anger and she fixed Nicole with a fiery glare.”I get it, what I did was messed up. But this is just asinine, Nicole. I never expected you to stoop to this level.”

“Oh but it’s okay for you to do it?” Nicole yelled and threw her hands into the air in frustration.

With the two friends standing chest to chest, wearing matching narrowed scowls, the guy Wynonna had been flirting with lifted his hands in defeat and took a step back “Nope, not worth the crazy chick drama.”

“Shut up!” Both Nicole and Wynonna spat at the guy as he backed away.

“Mind your own business” Wynonna lifted her hand and pointed it right in Nicole’s face now. “Seriously, dude, this is pathetic. Even for you.”

“Even for me?” Nicole growled the words and stepped closer as if challenging Wynonna to elaborate on the statement. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Your pathetic ass moping around for months with a broken heart. Like, boo hoo, a girl left you. Get over it!” Wynonna threw her hands out to the side as she yelled in her friend’s face. “Or are you so pathetic you can’t find another girl to boss around?”

Nicole’s eyes fluttered and her anger faded into hurt. Her head shook and she stepped back from Wynonna. Her entire body deflated. She eyed Wynonna up and down slowly, looking at her as if she didn’t recognize her. Then she nodded as her eyes set back on Wynonna “Thank you for finally being honest about how you feel about me.” She turned with the last of her words and pushed through a few people on her way to the door.

“Nicole, wait” Wynonna immediately filled with regret. She gave chase to her friend, pushing through the crowd that had gathered around to watch them yell at one another. She growled in annoyance when people just stood there in her way. “MOVE!” She barked as she threw shoulders into everyone who was even slightly impeding her attempt to catch up to her friend.

Nicole wiped a stinging tear away from her eye as she lifted her hand to hail a cab once she was outside. She gritted her teeth and shook her head in an attempt to push away the shitty feeling Wynonna’s words had just given her. She would not let someone who was so unhappy with herself bring her down, too. She had to ignore it.

Wynonna’s feet tangled with a few people in her haste but she managed to stay upright and stumble out into the cold night. She was relieved to see that Nicole was still there. She let out a heavy sigh and moved over toward her friend cautiously, keeping just outside arm’s length as she spoke “Nicole, look, I didn’t mean it. I was-”

“I thought we had actually grown close over the past few months” Nicole spoke firmly without looking behind herself toward Wynonna. She swallowed the lump in her throat and folded her arms over her chest. “I know you had your reservations about me in the beginning. I know you thought I was a goody-goody and I was a little too bossy for your liking. I am aware of the fact that you thought I was too far up Waverly’s ass. But I wrote all of that off as you just being-” She shrugged and flicked her head to the side in a slight shake “-you with your stubborn inability to let people in.” She let out a sad sigh and watched her breath rise into the cold night air as a tear slipped down her cheek “But after everything we’ve been through, especially over the last few months, I thought you genuinely liked me.”

“I do. Shit, Haught” Wynonna took a few timid steps toward her friend as a heavy sigh left her lips. “We’re friends, Nicole. I am so fucking sorry about what I said in there. I-”

“Why did you stick around?” Nicole finally turned around to look at Wynonna. It was clear to see she was still fighting off tears. She was absolutely devastated by the things that had been said in the bar. “If you think I’m so terrible why did you keep coming around? Why did you push me to move on? Why the Hell do you keep crawling into my bed or doing things like bringing me lunch?”

“Because I like you” Wynonna huffed and lifted her left shoulder to her ear and held it there for a second. She then dropped her arm and shook her head, “I’ve always liked you, Nicole. I just tend to be a little judgmental, especially when it comes to my sister. But, I have always liked you.” She let out another sigh as her hands tucked into the pockets of her leather jacket “And these last few months have made me like you in a completely different way. I like the way we are when Waverly isn’t the only factor bringing us together.”

“Then stop bringing her up” Nicole threw her hand out to the side as her voice rose a bit in frustration. She immediately realized she had done so and closed her eyes. She drew in a calming breath and let it out slowly. When her eyes came open again she saw Wynonna, surprisingly, waiting patiently for her to continue. She just shrugged as her hand motioned back toward the bar “That was really fucking mean, Wynonna. It’s the last thing I need to hear just as I’m starting to feel like I can be okay again.”

“I don’t know why I said it” Wynonna shook her head quickly and took another step toward her friend. A cab had pulled up and was waiting for them. He honked at that moment and yelled for them to get in or he was going to leave. “Fuck off then, dude!” Wynonna waved the man away before turning her attention back to Nicole. She frowned as her eyes settled on her friend’s sad face “I don’t feel that way, man. I was just pissed at you for butting in.”

“I have no idea why I did that” Nicole rolled her eyes at herself and let out the tiniest laugh.

“Because you’ve been hanging out with me too long and my pettiness is rubbing off on you” Wynonna laughed the words as her head nodded in agreement with herself.

“I don’t think that was it” Nicole shook her head as a frown took over her features again. “It was weird, you know? I was sitting there annoyed that you were ignoring me when you had insisted we go out again.” She gave a sheepish look at her friend then looked back to her feet “I saw you batting your eyes at him and putting on your charm and…” She waved her hand to the side as if trying to push away the subject as her eyes lifted to Wynonna again “...I can’t explain it.”

“See?” Wynonna’s eyes went wide with a sort of excitement at the validation of what she had experienced the night before. She let out a soft laugh then turned to wave over another cab before looking back at her friend “Was it like a rock was suddenly sitting in the pit of your stomach and before you knew it, you were on your feet?”

“Kind of, yeah” Nicole admitted with a nod. She watched as a cab pulled up again and this time she stepped forward to pull the back door open. She perked an eyebrow at her friend in silent questioning as to whether or not she was leaving with her “I guess I understand what happened last night now.”

“Doesn’t make it any less weird” Wynonna mumbled as she moved toward the cab. She motioned for Nicole to get in and once she did, Wynonna crawled in behind her. After giving the driver Nicole’s address the girls both settled back against the seat. Wynonna looked at her friend and let out a sigh. She reached out and very gently laid her hand on Nicole’s leg.

The gesture was unexpected and it showed on Nicole’s face when she looked down to the hand with a curious eyebrow raised on her forehead. She then looked up at Wynonna beside her and when her friend didn’t acknowledge her, Nicole gave an amused shake of her head and dropped her hand to lay over the one on her leg.

The two women sat like that in total silence for the rest of the ride. They seemed to be mulling over the last forty-eight hours. Neither of them could really explain what had taken over and caused them to interrupt potential hookups. That could be worked out later. All that really mattered was the two of them seemed to be on the same page about their friendship. They needed one another more than either of them really wanted to admit and both of them were content to just accept that for now. No need to figure out anything else. At least not for now.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

Nicole’s eyes came open in the middle of the night. Her brows creased and she blinked a few times as a yawn ripped through her. She slowly sat up in bed with a groan. She had to pee. One of the worst things about drinking was how many times it made you have to pee during the night. She put her feet on the ground and turned to look over her shoulder to make sure she hadn’t woken Wynonna. That is when she realized that Wynonna was not in bed with her.

She moved quickly across the room to find her bathrobe. She pulled it off the hook and took it with her into the bathroom. She went pee, since that was the original reason she had woken up, then pulled her robe over herself and headed downstairs. It didn’t take her long to realize there was a light on in her kitchen. As she hit the bottom stair she could clearly see Wynonna sitting at her kitchen table with a bottle of alcohol in her hand.

“Didn’t get enough tonight?” Nicole asked with a soft laugh as she moved into the kitchen.

Wynonna glanced up, surprisingly not startled by Nicole’s sudden appearance. She offered a slight smile then motioned to the chair next to her as she kicked it toward Nicole gently with her foot “Is there such a thing as enough whiskey?”

“I don’t think the limit exists for you” Nicole agreed with a nod as she took a seat. She eyed Wynonna over carefully before a small smile came to her lips “Wait, are you finally wearing the pjs I got for you?”

“Only the shorts and only because I didn’t want to hear you bitching about my bare ass all over your kitchen chair” Wynonna pointed at Nicole firmly before motioning to her ass. She laughed at it and shook her head “Asses are supposed to be on chairs, dude.”

“Fair” Nicole shrugged then focused on her friend a little more seriously. She eyed her up and down again and after a moment she motioned to the whiskey bottle “So what’s on your mind?”

“Pffft” Wynonna’s face scrunched up as her lips sputtered out the sound. She gave a shake of her head and offered the bottle toward her friend. “Nothing. Not. A. Thing.”

Nicole rolled her eyes at the obvious lie from her friend. She took the bottle that was offered and put it to her lips without hesitation. After swallowing a bit of the whiskey, wincing as it slid down her throat, she handed the bottle back and shook her head, “I’d like to think we are beyond lying to each other, Wynonna.”

Wynonna rolled her eyes at Nicole, half in mocking and half as a deflection tactic, before shaking her head. She took another quick swig from the bottle before sitting it down on the table between the two of them now. She drew in a deep breath and just shrugged. They may be beyond lying to one another but Wynonna was still great at lying to herself. She had been avoiding looking at Nicole but now as her eyes lifted to find her friend they were filled with sorrow, “I still feel shitty.”

“I forgive you” Nicole waved it off and reached for the bottle. “Deep in my heart of hearts I know you didn’t mean it. You were defending yourself. Humans aren’t always pleasant when their defenses are up.”

“It didn’t feel good, Nicole” Wynonna chewed her bottom lip and dropped her eyes to her lap. With her hands empty, since Nicole currently had the whiskey, she used her fingers to pick at the bottom of her shirt. “Both tonight and last night, I mean. None of it felt good.”

“I know what you mean” Nicole mumbled before putting the bottle to her lips for a drink. Her eyes stared blankly at nothing as she swallowed and replayed the events of the past two nights in her head. She was as perplexed by it all as Wynonna seemed to be. As she swallowed, she set the bottle on the table again and finally blinked. She looked at her friend and even though Wynonna was not looking at her she held her gaze on the woman. “I would like to say I was just trying to get revenge on you for what you did last night but, if I’m being totally honest with myself, that’s not what it was.”

Wynonna’s eyes finally lifted and she held a look of surprise on her face. She eyed Nicole curiously for a moment before reaching for the whiskey again “Then what the Hell was it?”

“I don’t-” Nicole shook her head and stopped herself from continuing her denial. She had just called Wynonna out on lying so she felt it was only fair she be honest as well. She reached for the whiskey, taking it right out of Wynonna’s hand before she could take a sip. She took a long drink from it herself before licking over her lips and focusing back on her friend “Honestly? I think I was jealous.”

“Jealous?” Wynonna laughed the word out in disbelief. She leaned forward and snatched the bottle away from Nicole. She eyed her friend curiously before laughing again “Jealous because I was going to hook up and you weren’t? Because I was only flirting with him to get free drinks.”

“No” Nicole frowned and her eyes dropped away from her friend. She felt her stomach suddenly twist up around itself which, mixed with the wave of intoxication still hanging about, made her nauseous. She drew in a deep breath to try and quell the feeling before shaking her head. “I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”

Wynonna was going to tease her friend about being jealous rather than supportive of her hooking up but she stopped herself when she saw Nicole’s sudden change in demeanor. She paused in lifting the whiskey bottle to her lips. Instead she set it down and gave her head a shake as she reached out to lightly tap at her friend’s leg to try and get the woman to look up. It took a few taps but when Nicole finally looked up, Wynonna set her with a comforting gaze “Dude, I get it.”

It was weird. Nicole had expected Wynonna to tease her again but, instead, they were sharing an understanding look. It was as if they had both experienced the same unspoken feeling in regard to their friend’s potential hook up and they were now sharing that mutual confusion about what exactly they had experienced. There wasn’t really a way to describe it. Well, there probably was but neither of them seemed to be aware of what they were actually feeling nor ready to admit it to themselves.

Wynonna felt two things happen simultaneously as she stared at Nicole. She felt a chill slide up her spine while, at the same time, her hand resting on Nicole’s leg tightened into a squeeze. She was almost sure both things were caused by the way she had held eye contact with Nicole for so long. Really it was only a few seconds but in Wynonna time that was forever.

Maybe it was the alcohol in her system mixing with the depth of confusion about why she had stepped between Nicole and the strange woman the night before. Maybe that was all swirling around with the fact that, apparently, Nicole was feeling that confusion as well. Maybe, perhaps, her gratitude toward Nicole for helping her cope with her own crippling loneliness suddenly surged forward. Whatever cocktail it was served to help silence her voice of reason and rational thinking all at the same time. Before she realized what she was doing she felt herself lunging at Nicole until her lips landed surprisingly, and sloppily, against her friend’s mouth.

It all happened in both a blink of an eye and slow motion. Nicole could see Wynonna coming at her suddenly. She had the thought that it was wrong and it should not be happening. She felt complete and total confusion. She knew she should stop it. Yet she had not stopped it. Instead she managed to draw in a deep breath to calm her fluttering heart as well as brace herself for contact before her eyes closed and she caught Wynonna’s lips with her own.

That part inside Wynonna that was so good at turning off when she was making a terrible decision seemed to be working perfectly. She wasn’t thinking. She was only doing. Her body knew what to do in this situation. She relented control and let her lips move of their own accord as she closed the gap between their bodies. Her hand reached behind Nicole’s head letting her fingers get lost in her friend’s messy red hair. Her chest was soon pressing into Nicole’s as she functioned on auto pilot.

The fervor with which Wynonna kissed her took Nicole more by surprise than the initial kiss. She reached out a hand to grip the edge of the table to stop the two of them from falling backwards. Her other hand reached out to take hold of the collar of Wynonna’s shirt, using the grip to tug the woman closer as her own mouth returned the kiss with an equal amount of enthusiasm. She knew this was wrong. She knew they should stop. But that part of her that knew this had not yet found the strength to rise up and put a halt to it.

Wynonna stepped closer to Nicole. She was now half hunched over her, leaning all of her weight against the woman as their lips tangled. Both hands cupped Nicole’s face and held her in the kiss that the both of them knew they should not be sharing. The part of Wynonna that usually shut off when she was making a bad decision now suddenly come back on. She knew she was making a mistake yet she was powerless to stop herself.

It seemed that neither of the women were going to pay any mind to the parts of their inner consciousness that were screaming at them to stop. It was a bad idea all around. There were a million reasons why this was a terrible idea. But as they pulled at one another in desperation to feel close to someone, it seemed they had both decided that was a problem for another day. They stayed locked together in an increasingly desperate kiss until Wynonna’s foot shuffled forward in an attempt to be closer to Nicole. The shift was just enough to alter their combined center of gravity. Nicole had been clinging to the edge of the table while her chair tilted on its back legs underneath her and when Wynonna moved forward her grip failed.

Wynonna’s weight had been hovering over Nicole. She was cupping her face with both hands tightly. Nicole also had a fistful of Wynonna’s shirt tangled in her knuckles so when the chair beneath Nicole finally reached its literal tipping point both women were thrown off balance and tumbled in a jumbled mess to the kitchen floor with Wynonna being pulled down on top of her friend.

Nicole let out a groan of pain. She had been sandwiched between the hard back of her kitchen chair and the weight of Wynonna landing on her. She gripped at her stomach and rolled to her right side where she curled around the leg of her kitchen table and attempted to catch her breath.

Wynonna had bounced off Nicole’s knees and forward in a somersault. She was now laying on her back, head near where Nicole’s would have been had she not rolled to the side. She blinked once and stared at the ceiling above her as her head whirled about. She was trying to focus but it seemed the world was spinning. She was pretty sure that was because of the alcohol and not the embarrassing acrobatics she had just unwillingly engaged in.

The two of them laid in relative silence as they tried to recover from what had just happened. Nicole laid huddled on her side. Each breath she drew in brought less and less agony as she felt air returning to her lungs. Wynonna laid with her eyes closed and her hands on either side of her head as if holding her head still even though it wasn’t really spinning.

After a few moments Nicole finally rolled to her back, nudging the fallen chair out of her way as she did so. The movement brought her back to her original landing point and she realized her head was right next to Wynonna’s. She let out a heavy sigh and turned to the left to look at her friend who was still holding her own head “Are you alright?”

“Got the spins” Wynonna grumbled as she opened her eyes. She focused on the ceiling for a few seconds and once she felt like she had controlled the spinning sensation she slowly turned her head to the left as well. That is when she saw Nicole looking at her with concern in her eyes. Her stomach knotted up and she felt she might be sick again. This time, though, it was not because her equilibrium had just been fucked with. This time it was because of everything that had led up to the two of them crashing down to earth. She felt sick because she had just kissed Nicole. She had kissed her best friend. She had kissed her sister’s ex-girlfriend who she assumed was waiting for Waverly to return. Most sickening of all was that she didn’t regret it one bit.

“Don’t” Nicole frowned when she saw the way Wynonna looked at her. Her head shook and she rolled over now to get to her hands and knees. She rocked back to sit on her knees, her back to the table, her eyes focused down on her friend. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?” Wynonna gave an aggravated cough and rolled to the side. She pushed herself onto her hands and knees but had to pause. The movement was a little too much too fast and her spins returned. She hung her head in an attempt to get it to stop spinning as she grumbled to her friend “I didn’t look at you like anything.”

“You looked at me like you liked it” Nicole tried to sound annoyed but her tone ended up holding more of a panic. She pushed herself to her feet now as her head started to shake a little more quickly “That was a mistake, Wynonna. That was a huge fucking mistake.”

“Calm down” Wynonna mumbled as she drew in a deep breath through her nose. She felt the spinning subside and dared to look up again. When she saw that Nicole had started to panic pace around the kitchen she let out a heavy sigh. She rocked back to sit on her knees and watched the woman move back and forth “We’re drunk, Nicole. It happens. Unknot your knickers.”

“I’m not drunk!” Nicole shouted and threw her hands out to the side in frustration. Then she wavered a bit where she stood and that made her quickly roll her eyes at herself “Okay, I’m not that drunk! I am still of sound mind.”

“Why are you so upset?” Wynonna huffed out through her nose and slowly climbed to her feet. Once she was standing she reached out to put her hand on a nearby countertop to help steady herself. She was definitely a little more drunk than she had first realized and if she had to blame the alcohol for her actions she would. It was her go to cop out, anyway. It was never her fault. It was always the whiskey.

“The fact that you even have to ask me that is insulting” Nicole put a hand to her heart as if she had just been gravely offended. “Waverly, for one. Or did you forget about her?”

“Dude” Wynonna held her hand out in an attempt to stop Nicole from shouting. Her head was trying to start spinning again. She lifted a hand and placed it to her temple, closing her eyes, before letting out a heavy sigh “Friends get drunk and makeout all the time. It doesn’t have to mean anything. In fact…” She opened her eyes and set a firm gaze on Nicole as she tried to speak with conviction “...it didn’t mean shit. I’m drunk and horny and you were the only living thing in my radius of self-destruction, alright?”

Nicole knew Wynonna too well to fall for her deflection tactics. She could see it in her eyes and hear it in the failed strength of conviction in her tone. The kiss meant something to Wynonna which only added to the confusion of this entire thing. It also kind of put Nicole at ease but, like, that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was the shit show they had just unleashed by kissing one another. She let out a frustrated huff and threw her hands out to the side in defeat “You’re such a fucking liar. God I wish for once you could just be honest with yourself at the very least.”

“Oh screw you” Wynonna snapped as her gaze turned into a sharp scowl. “As if I would waste any time entertaining the thought of liking a drunken make out session with you!” She threw her hands out to mimic Nicole’s frustrated gesture. “You’re not even…” She shook her head because, well, she was drunk and her brain was trying to catch up with all the different emotions she was feeling. Right now she was desperately trying to cover her vulnerability with anger “....not even worthy of me!” She snorted as if that were a total burn and started to storm out of the kitchen.

“I know you somehow become a bigger asshole when you’re drunk but you better watch how you talk to me. I am done being your punching bag every single time something, anything, gets too real for you” Nicole whirled around when Wynonna shoved passed her and started to follow her. “God forbid you feel anything other than drunk, horny, or vengeful. You’re going to die alone trying to drown your emotions in denial and booze.”

“You’re going to die alone loving someone who doesn’t love you!” Wynonna shouted as she turned around to face Nicole. Her eyes were burning with hurt and anger at what her friend had just said to her. The gloves were off now. There was no going back. If they were going to throw punches Wynonna knew exactly where to aim and when to take her swings “You were dumped, Nicole, with no regard for your feelings whatsoever. She doesn’t love you anymore and you’re too desperate to accept it. So, go ahead and wait. She isn’t coming back for you.”

“Get out” Nicole growled the demand through her gritted teeth as her hand whipped toward the door. “You have no right to speak to me like that.”

Immediately realizing she had gone too far, Wynonna’s stance deflated. She shook her head and lifted her hands between herself and Nicole in a gesture of surrender “Shit, Nicole, I didn’t-”

“Get out!” Nicole screamed the words in an attempt to mask the fact that she felt tears forming behind her eyes. She had never felt more betrayed in her entire life.

Wynonna opened her mouth to argue again but stopped when she saw the rage seething out of her friend’s every facial feature. Instead, she quickly rushed over to where her heavy winter coat was hanging on the coat tree and slipped it on over her arms. She then stuffed her feet into some boots and moved toward the front door without another word. She knew what she had said had been terrible. Nicole had been awful, too. Neither of them were right but with emotions and alcohol mixing it was bound to be a mess.

Nicole broke down as soon as the front door was closed. She managed to fall onto her couch before her entire body was consumed by sobs. Somehow her only source of comfort and strength had been dismantled in the span of two very confusing days. She hurt. She physically ached from the crying, the screaming, and the fall in the kitchen chair. But that pain didn’t compare to the way her heart was throbbing in agony. She was sure she had experienced the worst pain of her life when Waverly had left her but now, as she lay sobbing on her couch, she was certain this pain was worse than that which only served to confuse her further.

Wynonna closed her eyes and put her back to Nicole’s front door. She slowly slid down until she was sitting on the welcome mat. She tucked her legs into the bottom of her long coat and pulled the hood up over her head. This sucked. This is why she never got too involved with anyone, ever. Because, sooner or later, she would fuck it up and have to leave the person behind. Luckily the last time she had done that, Waverly had forgiven her and welcomed her back with open arms. This time, though, she felt like she had gone too far. She was sure she had lost her best friend forever and she wasn’t sure she could do anything to make it right.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

Nicole groaned at the stiffness her body was wracked with. She had been so exhausted from everything the night before that she had ended up passing out on the couch. She was regretting that now. She was regretting a lot of things about the night before. She shouldn’t have gone out with Wynonna. She shouldn’t have interrupted her friend at the bar. She should have just left. Had she left Wynonna behind nothing more would have unfolded and she wouldn’t feel like total shit.

She let out a heavy sigh and rolled to her side. Her eyes landed on nothing in particular across her living room as the events of the night before came back to her. All the mixed emotions rushed back. The screaming at one another echoed in her head. The kiss. Her heart clenched in her chest at the thought. What in the world was going on between Wynonna and herself because as far as she could tell their entire friendship was in shambles.

She blinked once and pushed herself up to sitting. She moved slowly because of the tenderness in her muscles and bones from the fall in the kitchen chair. She breathed out heavily once she was upright and reached behind herself. She felt like she had been hit by a truck both physically and, even worse, emotionally. She wasn’t sure she had ever felt this completely terrible in her entire life.

What was she going to do? Wynonna was her only social life. It was just easy because, well, she knew everything Nicole had been through. Nicole didn’t have to explain her weird past or the crazy shit she has seen at work because Wynonna had experienced a lot of that with her. Plus, if she was being honest, she didn’t exactly like a lot of people who lived in Purgatory. Even the non-supernatural ones weren’t stellar citizens. It was kind of a town full of assholes.

She shook her head as she stood from the couch, slowly, groaning as she did. Every decision made the night before was now coming back to haunt her. She had to learn from it and not make the same mistakes. As she moved slowly toward her front door to fetch her newspaper she silently decided not to go out drinking with Wynonna for a while.

Nicole had just nodded in agreement with herself as she reached for her front door and pulled it open. At the exact same time Wynonna had lifted her hand to knock and was now standing there looking surprised with her fist frozen out in front of her. She stared in shock for a few seconds before finally dropping her hand and giving her friend tiny smile “Hey.”

“Wynonna, you scared the shit out of me” Nicole let out a huff of a laugh as her hand lifted to lay over her heart. She shook her head and eyed her friend over from top to bottom slowly before finally bringing her gaze back up to meet Wynonna’s eyes. She felt her heart clench in her chest and a sad sigh slipped from her lips “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I wanted to get coffee...” Wynonna lifted her shoulders in a sheepish shrug "..but I left in such a hurry last night I realized I left everything behind.” She offered a crooked smile in an attempt to get Nicole to laugh at her dumb joke. When that didn’t work she let out a defeated sounding sigh “I also…” She bit her lip and her eyes dropped to her feet as her shoulders drooped and she shook her head, “I wanted to be here when you got up so I could apologize.”

Nicole’s stomach twisted around into a thick knot inside itself. She hated this. She hated that they couldn’t be normal around each other. She would much rather Wynonna be obnoxious and purposely torturing her. This awkwardness was more tortuous than anything Wynonna had ever done in an attempt to annoy her.

“I’m kind of freezing my lady bits off. Is it alright if I come in?” Wynonna sounded a bit unsure as she perked an eyebrow at the question.

Nicole nodded quickly at the words from her friend as her eyes looked her over again. “Shit, I’m sorry. Of course you can” She stepped to the side and motioned for Wynonna to enter her house. As her friend stepped past her she looked her over and let out a soft laugh as her eyes landed on Wynonna’s feet “Are those my boots?”

“Yes and you have giant feet” Wynonna tapped the toes of the boots she wore together and offered Nicole a smile. She watched her friend close the door now that they were both inside. She stood there awkwardly, rocking up onto her toes, waiting for Nicole to look at her again. When their eyes finally met she gave a little nod “I didn’t dare waste time looking for my boots last night so I just stuffed my feet into the first pair I could find.”

“I’m sorry” Nicole let out a sigh and shook her head. “I shouldn’t-”

“I was an asshole and you had every right to kick me out” Wynonna interrupted, lifting her hand to indicate she wanted Nicole to stop her apology before it got started. She then turned her hand and placed it over her heart before locking a serious gaze on her friend “Last night was completely my fault.”

“No it wasn’t” Nicole waved her hand quickly to the side like she was batting away Wynonna’s words. “I started it by butting in at the bar.”

“You only did that because I did it first” Wynonna rolled her eyes at herself. “All of this is my fault, Nicole. When have you ever heard me say those words?”

Nicole opened her mouth to argue but stopped when she saw the look on Wynonna’s face. Her friend was right, she had never willingly taken the blame for anything in her life. At least not without a lot of secondary finger pointing and huffing and puffing in denial before finally giving in. She gave a little nod as a way of accepting Wynonna’s apology before motioning once more for the woman to come deeper into her house as she moved now into the kitchen. “Well that doesn’t make my actions any more appropriate.”

“Eh” Wynonna shrugged it off and followed her friend. She moved over to the table and her eyes fell to the chair that was still toppled over. Her heart clenched in her chest as a few flashes from the night before came back to her. The kiss. The fall. The way they yelled terrible things at one another. She sighed as she leaned down and scooped up the chair, putting it upright in its place before tapping her fingers nervously against the top of it. When she looked up she saw Nicole watching her. When their eyes met, she saw Nicole blush and look away. Wynonna huffed out a laugh at that and looked back to the chair “Yeah, so about that.”

“Like you said” Nicole tried to sound casual as her eyes shifted away from Wynonna in an attempt to not give away that this was a totally awkward conversation to be having. “Friends get drunk and make out sometimes. Doesn’t have to mean shit.”

“Yeah” Wynonna nodded and glanced up at Nicole. She watched her friend pick at her fingernails to avoid looking at her and that made her heart twitch with pain. She wasn’t sure what hurt more, though. The fact that her best friend couldn’t even look at her right now or the idea that the kiss was meaningless. She had always thought that if the two of them ever ended up kissing it would be on a dare or some other equally hilarious situation that they could joke about for years. This was anything but that and it was agonizing.

A thick, awkward tension fell over the kitchen as the two friends stood there without knowing what to say next. This was by far the most uncomfortable situation Nicole had ever been in. She wanted nothing more than to have Wynonna make a stupid joke, laugh it off even though this was a serious situation, and move forward without anything really being resolved. But, for some reason, a heaviness had settled and didn’t seem to be going anywhere which only signified how dire it really was between them.

“I don’t think we should hang out for a while” Nicole blurted out suddenly in an attempt to cut through the suffocating awkwardness.

“What?” Wynonna tried to laugh off the ridiculous idea but it fell flat. It was easy to see on her face how much she immediately disagreed with that idea. “Nicole, no. Come on, that’s a little excessive don’t you think?”

“No I don’t” Nicole shook her head and motioned to the chair that Wynonna was still standing behind. “We’ve torn each other apart over the last few days! Why?” She threw her hands out to the side in frustration “There is something going on that is affecting our friendship. I think we need some time apart to figure it out.”

“Figure what out?” Wynonna huffed and shook her head quickly. “A few dumb drunken arguments?”

“Yes!” Nicole nodded so rapidly that she kind of looked like a bobblehead. “Those were more than drunken arguments, Wynonna. We both said some ugly things. We both did some ugly things” She was speaking mostly about the fact that they had both purposely cockblocked the other. She let out a heavy sigh and motioned once more to the chair where Wynonna stood “Made some confusing decisions. I don’t think either of us are coping very well and instead of helping one another we are enabling unhealthy coping mechanisms.”

“Are you a therapist all of the sudden?” Wynnona was trying to be patient. She was trying to stay calm. The last thing she had in mind that morning was another screaming match but Nicole was really starting to get under her skin now. “I am coping just fine and you said you were close to feeling okay again!”

“I need some time!” Nicole shouted and threw her hands up in defeat. She let out a heavy sigh and turned her back on Wynonna. She didn’t want to argue anymore. She didn’t want to go around in an endless circle with someone who was incapable of being honest with herself. She had to walk away so she did just that at that moment. She moved out of the kitchen and dropped to sit on her couch. She was so confused as to what in the world was going on between them and the only way she felt she could work it out was if she wasn’t distracted by Wynonna who was the source of nearly all of her confusion.

Wynonna wanted to argue but she could see it would only aggravate the situation. She gave in with a shrug and turned to follow Nicole’s path out of the kitchen and to the couch. She didn’t move to sit next to her. Instead she stood behind her and stared at the back of her best friend’s head. She let out a sigh and folded her arms “How much time do you need?”

“I don’t-” Nicole huffed in annoyance at the question. It wasn’t something you could put a time limit on. She lifted her hand to her face, pinching the bridge of her nose between her finger and thumb, before giving a shake of her head. She threw one hand in the air in a full arm shrug before letting it drop to her leg in a slap. “I have no idea. Let’s start with a week and see if that helps.”

“I can do a week” Wynonna gave a nod at that. Honestly, she was relieved to hear it wasn’t longer. A week was nothing. She could do a week in her sleep. She smiled at that and focused again on the back of Nicole’s head. “Deal. A week is no sweat.”

“But you have to figure your shit out” Nicole turned on the couch now so she could look at her friend. She had a serious look in her eyes and she fixed it on Wynonna firmly. “If you don’t then we are just going to keep yelling at each other and that’s not the type of friendship I want.”

“Yeah totally” Wynonna tried to smile but it fell flat. Her stomach twisted around itself and she felt a wave of guilt and hurt wash over her again. She hated that something had slipped between them and driven in a wedge. The last thing she wanted was to lose Nicole. She was by far the best friend she had ever had and she would do anything to make this right. She would be honest with herself and figure her shit out so that they could get back to being them. Because a life without annoying Nicole was not a life at all.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

The week apart was one of the hardest weeks Wynonna had ever endured in her entire life. She hated not being able to annoy her friend. She hated not having someone to just waste time with. She hadn’t realized, or perhaps didn’t want to admit, that Nicole was the most important person in her life. Without Nicole around to act as a distraction and form of entertainment, Wynonna had been forced to face herself. She hated that even more. She actively avoided that for a reason. But now, without Nicole around, even the whiskey hadn’t been helping her avoid it. Actually, the alcohol was only making her think more! Stupid alcohol. She never thought her oldest friend would betray her.

Wynonna sat at the bar top of the sleaziest, dirtiest, most out of the way bar in the area. She wanted to be left alone to sulk, drink, and think. She didn’t want to risk running into anyone she might have accidentally, or purposely, pissed off. She wasn’t really afraid of running into her friends because, well, they were all gone. Waverly had left. Nicole had demanded time apart. Who the Hell knew where Doc even was? Mercedes had finally taken the exotic vacation surrounded by cabana boys that she had always dreamed of taking. Jeremy and Robin? She hadn’t seen them since Waverly left. This meant Wynonna was alone which only served to show her just how much Nicole meant to her.

The more she thought about it, though, the more she started to realize that even with all those other options around she would still miss Nicole. She hated that, too. She liked to think she could slot one person in for entertainment whenever another was not available. This was not the case. She knew that if Doc was still around or if Mercedes was there to drink and bitch with she would still be complaining about this week away from Nicole. It was annoying. When did Wynonna start to really, actually like the girl as a friend?

If she was being honest with herself, which apparently she was now, she knew she had grown fond of Nicole very early on. It wasn’t really a secret even though everyone liked to pretend the two of them only got along for Waverly’s sake. It was obvious how well they worked together as a pair, both in the line of duty and on a more personal level. So it wasn’t really fair to pretend like this bond between them came out of nowhere. It was more accurate to say it had unexpectedly strengthened lately. Thanks to Waverly deciding to live her own life regardless of anyone else.

Wynonna wasn’t mad at her sister for it. She had done it herself. She was all about being selfish and getting out to see the world. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was what was left in the wake of Waverly’s absence. Firstly, and selfishly, Wynonna missed her sister. She was the reason that Wynonna had stayed in Purgatory, her only reason for sticking around. At least, that used to be the case. Now, it seemed, she had another reason.

That dumb, annoying, goody-goody reason for sticking around was the biggest issue. Nicole had been left in pieces when Waverly had decided to get the Hell outta there. Wynonna had been pissed that Waverly left her behind to deal with Nicole. But now she wasn’t mad about it anymore. She was actually kind of glad. It had brought upon an unexpected change in their friendship. They had grown close, started to genuinely choose to be around one another, and even started to rely on the other. It was nice. It was comfortable. It was confusing as Hell. And that was the biggest issue that had risen out of the ashes. It also left Wynonna with more questions than she liked to have looming over her.

Why were things suddenly so confusing with Nicole? That was, perhaps, the most prominent and important question to come out of all of this. It was a question Wynonna could not answer.

Why couldn’t she just be honest with herself and admit she was dealing with some pretty severe loneliness? The more she thought about that question the more she realized that, yeah, she had definitely been lonely when Waverly and Doc had left. But, now? Well she realized that Nicole had helped her cope and, surprisingly, helped her get over it. She missed them, of course, but she wasn’t lonely. Not with Nicole around.

What if Waverly came back? Now she wasn’t really sure why but the thought actually terrified her. She would be happy, of course, to see her baby sister again. But there was a part of her, a huge part, that wasn’t so sure it would be all that great anymore. Was it because she felt like she had adapted to life without her and she felt guilty for being able to move on? Or was it because of something else entirely? Again, she wasn’t ready to answer that question.

It seemed the questions that lingered longest, felt the heaviest, all circled around one central idea. Her time spent with Nicole. She knew, without a doubt, she was scared to lose the girl from her life. But why? Why her? She had gained and lost friends and confidants throughout her entire life. None of the losses really bothered her. Well, Dolls, of course. And Alice, definitely. But why? Because she cared. Because they had a piece of her heart. Did this mean Nicole had a piece of her heart as well?

The more she thought about it the more she realized that was probably the case. Nicole had come in and, yes, been annoying but she had also been completely ride or die for the cause. For not only Waverly, but the entire group and what they were trying to do. She had jumped in head first and never once hesitated to do whatever she could to help solve the problem and keep everyone safe. That was admirable. That took guts. So, yes, Nicole definitely meant something to Wynonna. She cared about the woman. She had, somewhere down the line, given Nicole a tiny little chunk of whatever was remaining of her heart.

Even still, with the rationale that Nicole was a part of the team, why did it feel like Wynonna couldn’t handle losing her? Why had the last week without her consistently in her life sucked so bad? Why did Wynonna feel empty? She had been through a lot of shit in her life but this was definitely up in the top three shittiest things she had ever experienced. She hated it.

As she downed another shot of whiskey, hunched over the sleazy bar top, she closed her eyes and let the alcohol burn all the way down to her stomach. Seems like pain was the only thing she could understand lately. She relished in it. It was much better than the alternative. At least, she used to think so. She used to thrive on pain because she didn’t feel like she deserved happiness. Not until recently, at least.

A heavy sigh left her lips as the burning of the alcohol passed. She closed her eyes, holding her head up with her hands as her elbows rested on the bar, and gave her head a little shake. “God damn it” She whispered to herself in frustration. She hated being honest with herself, about her feelings, and this was why. Because now, after a week left alone to her own devices, she had come to one terrifying truth. This truth, unfortunately, did not carry relief or freedom, as the saying goes. This truth was the catalyst of what she was sure would be the end of everything. This truth sucked.

The truth? The truth was that she had feelings for Nicole Haught and there was nothing she could do about it.

~.~.~.~.~.

Chapter Text

Wynonna threw one more shot down her throat then stood from her bar stool. She was greeted with an immediate head rush as the alcohol coursed through her system. She stumbled backwards a few steps which caused her to run into one of the only other people in the bar. She blinked and turned around, holding her hand up to try and stop him from swinging at her, laughing out softly “Sorry, it’s my first time in a bar.”

“Dumb bitch” The man grumbled and looked Wynonna over a few times before shaking his head and turning back to wallowing away whatever troubles he had with the drink he held in his hands.

Wynonna gave a nod of agreement at the sentiment and turned toward the bathroom. “I am, indeed, a dumb bitch.” She smoothed her hands over the front of her leather jacket and focused on the corridor that led to the toilets. She had to piss so bad she was almost sure she was going to pee herself if she didn’t get there in the next thirty seconds.

Luckily she made it in time and everything turned out alright. Once she finished and washed her hands she stumbled her way out of the bathroom. Just as she turned the small corner that led back into the main area of the bar she slammed into someone that was turning down the corridor toward the bathroom. She let out a loud ‘oof’ sound and stumbled back until she slammed into the wall opposite of her. She blinked once and scowled at the person “Yo, you aren’t the only asshole in here. Watch where you’re going!”

“Shit, Wynonna” Nicole stared at her friend with wide-eyed surprise as she leaned into the corner that she had just come around. She blinked just once, looked Wynonna over from head to toe, then let out a breath of a laugh “What are you doing here?”

“What the Hell are you doing here?” Wynonna’s voice rose an octave as she blurted the question out in surprise. She then realized what she had just done and quickly shook her head while clearing her throat. She tried to act casual, even though her heart was suddenly racing, and she shrugged boredly “You stalking me now, Haught?”

“What? No” Nicole half laughed and shook her head slightly. She bit her lip nervously as she reached back to rub at the back of her head. She eyed Wynonna over carefully and after a moment threw her hand out to the side in a shrugging motion “I didn’t think you’d be here.”

“Sorry to disappoint you again” Wynonna grumbled and pushed both hands against the wall she had been leaning against to keep herself upright. She took a few steps toward Nicole and once she within just a few inches she looked up into her eyes. She paused, her breath hitching in her throat when she realized how close her face was to Nicole’s. She bit her lip then gave a little sideways nod of her head “You’re blocking the way.”

“Wait” Nicole stretched her arm out to the wall opposite of her in order to completely barricade the exit of the hallway. She frowned slightly as her eyes once more looked over Wynonna. She could see she was drunk with the way the girl swayed while standing still. But she could also tell she was sad. This worried Nicole. The last thing she wanted was to leave a sad, drunk Wynonna to her own devices. “Talk to me, Wynonna. What’s wrong?”

“Oh now you want to talk?” Wynonna hissed the words out as her face turned so she could set a glare on Nicole. Again this brought their faces within just an inch or two of one another. “A week ago you needed space and now you suddenly want to talk?”

“This hasn’t been easy for me, either” Nicole whispered firmly but softly. She could tell Wynonna was upset but the last thing she wanted to do was have another public argument with her friend. So she kept her tone level as she spoke. “I’ve missed you. I hope you know that.”

“Woopdie doo” Wynonna lifted a finger and spun it in mock excitement before stepping back from Nicole. She motioned to how her friend was blocking her path and let out a sigh “Can I go now?”

“Have you even tried?” Nicole’s face fell into a hurt looking frown now.

“Tried what?” Wynonna rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. She could see she wasn’t going to be able to run away from this particular problem at the moment so she backed up to at least give herself some breathing room.

“To figure your shit out?” Nicole huffed out in frustration and dropped her arm. Though she was still blocking half of the opening of the corridor she wouldn’t stop Wynonna if she tried to leave now. “Or have you wasted this entire week trying to find answers at the bottom of every whiskey bottle you’ve come across?”

Wynonna opened her mouth to make a smart assed remark but stopped herself. She knew that the two of them yelling at one another was how they got to this miserable place. She also knew that being mean to Nicole and pushing her away would not make the truth she had discovered any less real. Instead she let out a long breath through her nose and set a very serious, though slightly out of focus due to the whiskey, stare on her friend “I did what you asked, okay? Are you happy?”

“Wait, really?” The sound of surprise in Nicole’s voice was unmistakable. Her eyes went wide and she stared at Wynonna in pure shock for a few brief seconds. She then shook her head and a relieved looking smile came to her lips “That’s amazing, Wynonna. I am proud of you.”

Wynonna’s entire body warmed at the sound of Nicole saying she was proud of her. She bit her lip because, damn it, she should not be having that sort of reaction. She rolled her eyes, at herself, but luckily it came off as if she was annoyed with Nicole. “Thanks. Can I get back to drinking now?”

“What did you figure out?” Nicole asked as she stepped out of the way of the opening of the corridor completely to indicate that Wynonna was free to walk away now.

“That is….” Wynonna put on a crooked smile, which played well because she was drunk, and stepped past Nicole. She paused to tap her friend on the nose, winking as she continued with “....personal, toots.” She then did her best to give a cocky strut away from Nicole on her way toward the bar. If she kept playing cool like this she was sure Nicole would never, ever catch on.

“Well as long as you were honest with yourself I’m happy” Nicole nodded cheerfully as she followed her friend. She leaned beside Wynonna once they reached the bar top, looking at her with a proud smile on her lips “The next round is on me.”

“Oh, we’re suddenly hanging out again?” Wynonna snorted out in amusement as she tried to sound completely bored by the idea.

“I think a week was plenty long” Nicole put a hand on her friend’s shoulder and gave a soft squeeze. She set her eyes on Wynonna more seriously and gave a nod “I really have missed you.”

“Me too” Wynonna felt her mouth go dry with the way Nicole had just looked at her. She needed another drink. There was no way she could handle this. It was hard enough to admit to herself how she felt and now she had to live with it? There was no way this would end well.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

“So tell me…” Wynonna snorted out a laugh as her hand lifted another shot from the bar top. Nicole and herself had been drinking for over an hour now. She had slowed, slightly, to allow for Nicole to catch up but she had not stopped drinking altogether. Nicole wouldn’t let her stop. They were celebrating, she had insisted. Wynonna didn’t think it was a good idea to keep drinking but she also liked not feeling things and the best way to do that was to drown herself in alcohol. So now she pointed to Nicole and gave a nod “...what in the Hell are you doing in this sleazy ass place?”

“Honestly?” Nicole’s nose wrinkled up as she lifted the other shot that had been placed between the two of them. She licked her lips and looked slightly guilty before dropping her eyes to the drink she held “I was supposed to meet a date and didn’t wanna risk running into anyone I knew here.”

Wynonna’s smirk dropped, along with her heart, when she heard Nicole say the word date. She eyed her friend suspiciously, trying to hide her unease at the news, before trying to force out a laugh. She motioned around the dark bar and shrugged “I think you’re lying. Where is your date?”

“I guess I got stood up!” Nicole laughed the words out and took the shot she had been holding onto. She shrugged it away as she set the empty shot glass down and gave Wynonna a crooked grin “Her loss, right? Besides…” She reached out and put a hand on her friend’s arm and let out another soft laugh “I am having a much better time with you than I ever would with her.”

Wynonna’s heart fluttered. Her eyes shifted to take in the way Nicole was looking at her. It was almost the same way she used to look at Waverly. The way the corners of her lips curled into a tiny smile. The gentle expression of adoration as if she was looking at the best thing in the world. Those damn dimples. It was too much. Wynonna wasn’t sure she could be around Nicole now that she knew the truth about herself.

She did the only thing she could do. She threw back the shot she held, snorted out a laugh at Nicole, and made a joke. “At least with her you had a chance of getting laid. Maybe you should call her up and tell her she owes you pity sex.”

“Pffft” Nicole’s lips sputtered as another laugh pushed through them. She shook her head in amusement then sat a little more upright on her stool. She motioned to the bartender to bring over a couple more drinks before she looked back at Wynonna. She gave her friend a smirk and shrugged the notion off “I am not worried about that. If I want to get sex I can get sex.”

“Oh?” Wynonna perked an eyebrow curiously at the statement from her friend. She eyed her carefully before letting out a disbelieving laugh “Prove it.”

Nicole’s body stiffened at the challenge from Wynonna. She stared at her as if she wasn’t sure whether or not it had been a serious statement. When she was met with a single, challenging eyebrow perched on Wynonna’s forehead, she let out another laugh and gave a nod “Fine. No sweat. Anything to prove you wrong.”

“I ain’t sayin’ you can’t” Wynonna lifted her hands in a gesture of surrender as a laugh coughed out with the words. “But I can’t say I’d hate to watch you fail.” The statement was made with another laugh in her tone because, well, that part of her that loved to challenge Nicole came rushing forward. She was also trying to hide the fact that she would like to see the girl fail for very selfish reasons.

“You’re going to regret this” Nicole laughed as she stood up from her stool. She took a step before she felt the alcohol surge through her. She swayed on her feet before she reached out to take hold of the edge of the bar. Her eyes got wide with surprise for a moment before she looked at Wynonna in amusement “Just gimme a minute.”

“Dude” Wynonna snorted in amusement and reached out to grab hold of Nicole’s arm in an attempt to help her from falling over. She smirked at the woman for a moment before she pulled her hand back and gave her head a shake “Who are you going to hit on?” She motioned around the dark bar now and when she was met with mostly older men as options she perked an eyebrow back at Nicole “It’s a sausage fest in here tonight.”

Nicole’s brows curled together in a frown as she looked around. Honestly, she hadn’t really noticed the company they were keeping because she had been having such a good time with Wynonna. Now that it had been pointed out, though, she let out a deflating sigh and focused back on her friend “Okay let’s go somewhere else? You gotta at least gimme a chance!”

“No way” Wynonna was all too satisfied with how the last few moments had unfolded and it showed through the smirk on her face. She shook her head and glanced around again “Nope you were sooooo cocky. You gotta prove to me just how good you are.”

“Wynonna, that’s not fair” Nicole pouted playfully as she motioned around the bar. “There are like three girls in here, including you” She motioned to her friend with a frustrated huff.

“Rude” Wynonna looked a little more offended than she probably should have. She knew her friend was joking but given her own self discovery it did kind of sting. “Just for that comment you are not leaving until you kiss someone.”

“Nooooo” Nicole whined and plopped down onto her stool. “Now you’re just being-” She stopped in her protest and straightened up a little. Her eyes focused somewhere behind Wynonna and after a few moments a smirk came to her lips. She gave a nod and stood up again quickly “Fine. Deal.”

“Wh-” Wynonna was confused about what had just happened. She turned around, following Nicole’s gaze, until she saw what her friend was looking at. It just so happened that at that exact moment a very young, very attractive woman walked into the bar. Before she could stop it, a very disgruntled groan came from her lips as she looked back to her friend “Fuck me.”

“Get ready to eat your words” Nicole smirked as she patted her friend on the shoulder as she walked past her. Her eyes were laser focused on the newcomer and she barely even swayed as she walked toward the woman.

Wynonna didn’t watch. She buried her face in her hands and let out another loud groan. It had just been a joke and now she had to sit there in agony knowing she had pushed Nicole to kiss someone else. “Talk about the world’s biggest fail” She grumbled to herself as she reached for a nearby beer that she wasn’t even sure belonged to her.

She wasn’t sure how long she sat there. All she knew was the beer she drank was warm and she could hear Nicole laughing in the background. She didn’t want to look. She wanted to leave. She wanted to get as far away from this situation as physically possible so that is what she did.

She pushed herself off her bar stool and got to her feet. She felt herself wobble a little, her head swimming in whiskey, and she blinked to try and focus through the darkness of the bar. She saw the corridor for the bathroom and gave a nod to herself. She would pee and then she would leave. She was sure Nicole wouldn’t even notice. She didn’t want to find her. She knew if she saw her flirting with someone else it would make her sick so she would slip out unnoticed and face the lecture from Nicole about being ditched later. It sounded much better than sitting at the bar in agony any longer.

She stumbled down the corridor and peed as quickly as she could. She was staring in the mirror as she washed her hands and gave herself a head shake. She cupped her hands together to gather some water and leaned over the sink to splash the water on her face. When she looked up at the mirror again with a dripping face she let out a heavy sigh at herself “Get a grip, Earp.”

Wynonna jumped when the bathroom door slammed open behind her. She whirled around, holding her fists up in a ready position, as she focused on the source of disturbance. In a split second she realized who had come barreling through the door and she let out a relieved sigh “You scared the shit out of me!”

“Sorry” Nicole grumbled as she shuffled toward the sink. She leaned into the mirror and lifted a hand to her cheek. That is when the red handprint on her cheek came into view and she let out a groan as she touched it gently “Damn it.”

Wynonna’s eyes went wide when she saw the mark on her friend’s cheek. All other feelings went out the window and all that was left now was that primal urge to protect the people she cared for. She rushed over and looked Nicole over once before shaking her head in confusion “What happened?”

“Misread the signals” Nicole rolled her eyes at herself as her fingers ran over the redness starting to brighten on her cheek. She gave her head a disappointed shake then focused her eyes on Wynonna through the mirror “Guess I’m not as smooth as I thought I was.”

Wynonna bit her lip to fight off the laughter that so badly wanted to escape as she realized what had happened. Nicole had made a move and gotten rejected. She lost the fight to hold back her amusement and a loud chuckle slipped from her lips. She threw her head back to enjoy the sheer hilarity of the situation. Nothing else mattered in that moment. No feelings, no confusion, nothing. It was the first time in a week she had felt this light. In that moment everything melted away and she was reminded that Nicole was her best friend and that is what should take priority.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” Nicole rolled her eyes at Wynonna and pushed off the sink. She turned to look at her friend, waiting for her to finish her laughter. She folded her arms across her chest and let out an annoyed sigh. “Are you done yet? I was gonna offer to share a cab home but if you’re gonna laugh at me the whole time I’m leaving your ass behind.”

“I can’t even apologize” Wynonna wiped a tear from her eye as her laughter died and she focused back on her friend. She was grinning ear to ear with amusement. Was she relieved that Nicole wasn’t going home with someone new or just totally tickled by her friend’s failure? A little of both, probably. But she would just lean on the amusement for now “Come on, let’s both go home alone.”

Nicole rolled her eyes in annoyance again but turned to follow as Wynonna led them out of the bathroom. Even though she was pretty embarrassed by what had happened she was also kind of relieved. If she was being honest she would much rather spend the night with Wynonna than having awkward drunken sex with a stranger.

The two of them made their way outside and flagged down one of the awaiting cabs. It didn’t take long for one to pull up and soon they were in the backseat on their way back to Nicole’s place. It was nice. It was familiar. It was easy. Nicole had missed it. She was a creature of habit and liked the comfort of routine.

A silence fell between them for a few minutes as they rode together in the cab back toward town. It wasn’t until Wynonna’s amusement about the entire thing came rushing back and she sputtered out a new round of laughter that either of them made any noise.

“What now?” Nicole fought off a smirk of her own as she glanced at her friend laughing beside her.

“In all my days of stringing one night stands together I have never been slapped” Wynonna smirked as her eyes focused on Nicole next to her. “I promise to never let you live this night down.”

“Shut up” Nicole reached over to shove Wynonna playfully with a laugh.

“You got slapped and now you ain’t getting laid!” Wynonna teased, giving a shove in return to her friend.

“Shut up!” Nicole gave another shove across the backseat. Soon they were going back and forth, giggling like school girls, shoving and teasing each other. They continued like that for a minute or so before Nicole managed to trap Wynonna’s hand in hers. She used it to push her friend all the way back against the door opposite of her, pinning her there so she couldn’t fight back. Nicole gave a triumphant smirk as she leaned close to her trapped friend “Just, shut up.”

Wynonna breathed out a teasing laugh but it fell flat as she realized how close Nicole was to her. Her hand and arm were pinned against her chest and being held there by Nicole’s body weight. Her smile faded as she locked her gaze on Nicole’s eyes “You got slapped.”

“Shut up” Nicole laughed softly and shoved her hand against Wynonna’s chest firmly.

“Make me” Wynonna grunted out a little more seriously than she had meant to.

Nicole’s smile faltered. Her brows ceased on her forehead and she drew in a shaky breath. She felt her hand tremble where she had it pressed against Wynonna’s chest. Her eyes dropped and she glanced at her friend’s lips. Suddenly that part of her that loved a good challenge and loved to prove Wynonna wrong took over. Before she could think about the consequences, she felt herself closing the small gap between them and pressing her lips sloppily against Wynonna's mouth.

The kiss took Wynonna completely by surprise. If she was being honest she had hoped this was the reaction she would get when she told Nicole to make her shut up but she had never actually believed it would happen. Her surprise was evident as she froze against the kiss, pinned between Nicole and the cab door, not moving for a few seconds before her instincts kicked in. Her hand reached behind Nicole’s head now, burying her fingers into the short red locks she found there and using the grip to hold her friend in the kiss as she finally reciprocated the action.

It seemed as though neither of them were too concerned with the repercussions of the kiss. They stayed tangled together, deepening the kiss with each passing moment, as the cab bumped along. A few minutes later the driver pulled to a stop and turned around to face the backseat. He smirked at what he saw then cleared his throat to break them up.

When they pulled out of the kiss, Nicole blushed. Wynonna smirked. She licked her lips then reached into her pocket to fish out payment for the ride before taking Nicole’s hand and pulling her out of the cab. They quickly made their way up the steps to Nicole’s front door and burst into the doorway, nearly tripping over each other in their haste.

Wynonna turned around to face Nicole, her mouth opening with every intention of making a joke to break the awkwardness she was sure was about to fall over them. Instead, her words were cut short by the sudden reappearance of Nicole’s lips pressing another hungry and surprising kiss to Wynonna’s mouth.

The momentum that Nicole had come at Wynonna with caused the two of them to stumble together, Wynonna going backwards, until they ran into the nearest wall with a loud thud. This made Nicole laugh against the kiss as her hands moved now to start unzipping her coat to free herself from it.

Soon the two of them had managed to strip out of most of their clothes as they bumped and tripped their way up the stairs toward Nicole’s bedroom between kisses and laughter. Finally Nicole fell backwards onto her bed, propping herself up on her elbows, and giving Wynonna a beckoning nod.

There was a moment, a split second, where that rational part of Wynonna came back to her and screamed at her to stop. This was an absolutely terrible idea and she knew it with every fiber of her being. But, as always, the rational voice was pushed down by every self-destructive tendency that had been the driving force in Wynonna’s life. Instead of walking away she gave Nicole a smirk and crawled over her on the bed, trapping her mouth in another heated kiss before either of them could change their minds.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Wynonna groaned as sunlight hit her face through the slightly opened curtains that hung over Nicole’s bedroom windows. Her entire body felt like a truck had run her over. Her head was pounding. Her mouth was dry. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been this hungover. She had definitely consumed more alcohol than usual the night before. She had been more than drunk when Nicole had showed up unexpectedly at the bar and she had not stopped drinking until they left. She had slowed down, sure, but not stopped. She definitely should have stopped because things got completely out of hand.

Her eyes came open as the events of the night before came back to her clear as day. She most definitely should have stopped. She should have stopped drinking. She should have stopped Nicole from kissing her. She should have stopped stripping off her clothes. She should have stopped herself from crawling onto the bed when Nicole beckoned her. She had so many chances to stop and she hadn’t. They hadn’t.

She lifted her head up off the pillow and slowly, carefully, turned it to face the direction opposite where she had been looking when she woke up. It was almost as if she were afraid to look next to her in bed and see Nicole lying there beside her. That would make it too real. That would mean she had truly made a mistake. She wasn’t sure she was ready to face that yet.

When she saw that the spot in bed next to her was empty, she sighed in relief. She then frowned and pushed herself up so she was resting her chest on her arms. Had she imagined everything the night before? Had Nicole actually taken her to bed, tucked her in, then taken the couch? That didn’t seem like something her friend would do. She would tuck her in, sure, but she would sleep next to her. They had done it countless times before.

She pushed against the mattress, rocking back so she was sitting on her legs. The sheet slid down her bare back and pooled at her waist. Wynonna looked down over her stomach, now that she was no longer laying against it, and gave a nod. Yep, she was definitely completely naked which meant she totally had not imagined the night before. She and Nicole had had sex. Lots of it, actually. Some of it sloppy, fumbling, and a little awkward. They had both been trashed, after all. But, mostly, it had been amazing. That was no surprise, though. Wynonna had heard through thin walls more times than she could count just how good Nicole was at what she did.

So where in the Hell was Nicole? Did she wake up, realize what they had done, and flee the scene? It would be much easier than trying to wake Wynonna up to get her to leave. She gave a sigh as she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. God she had a Hell of a headache and she was certain it was only going to get worse.

“Oh good, you’re up” Nicole was suddenly standing in the bedroom doorway wearing her bathrobe with a mug of coffee in her hand. She looked Wynonna’s naked form over once and immediately blushed. She turned so she could focus on the nightstand closest to herself and moved to gently set the coffee there “Uh, I made breakfast. So whenever you get dressed come on down.”

Wynonna had nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Nicole’s voice. She hadn’t even thought to cover herself in her frightened state. She had just turned in the direction of the voice and stared with wide eyes. Before she could say anything, Nicole was gone again. This made Wynonna sigh out a soft laugh and shake her head “Okay, not the most awkward morning after I’ve ever had.”

She made quick work of dressing in the lame matching pajama set that Nicole had gotten for her months earlier. She then brushed her teeth. She had no idea why she did that. What was she expecting? It’s not like she was going to walk down there and get a morning kiss. What a stupid thing to do, brushing her teeth like that. So she gave up on that, moved to grab her coffee, and hurried down the steps.

She was greeted by the smell of food and her stomach immediately growled. The best thing about a hangover was the greasy food you could get away with eating and it smelled like Nicole had doused everything in grease that morning. As Wynonna moved into the kitchen she caught sight of Nicole at the stove and smiled slightly. She wasn’t sure why she had smiled. She hated mornings. What in the world was going on with her?

“Mornin’” She finally mumbled as she slid one of the kitchen chairs out and dropped down into it heavily.

Nicole glanced over her shoulder and gave Wynonna an awkward crooked smile. She then looked back at the stove and continued the task at hand. That is when the full awkwardness finally started to settle in. Neither of them spoke. The only sound was the bacon popping in the pan.

The near silence was too loud for Wynonna. With no one speaking she was left to her own thoughts and those were not things she was ready to hear yet. Eventually she cleared her throat to break the silence and shrugged even though Nicole wasn’t looking at her “So this is totally weird, right?”

Nicole snorted out a laugh. She turned to look over her shoulder and fixed Wynonna with a more genuine smile. She turned back to the pan for a moment more before finally turning off the heat. As she pulled the pan off the burner and started to dish it’s contents onto the plates next to her she looked back at Wynonna with a nod “This doesn’t have to be weird. We were drunk, Wynonna.”

“We have been drunk together plenty of times before” Wynonna huffed before taking a sip of her coffee.

“But I was like…” Nicole shrugged and set the pan down. She then scooped up the plates she had been working at and turned toward the table. She set one down in front of Wynonna and lifted a single shoulder in another shrug “...I don’t think I’ve been that drunk since college.”

The sight of food made Wynonna’s stomach growl again. She immediately scooted the plate as close to herself as possible and reached for the fork that had been set on the table. She gave a nod at Nicole’s words but didn’t look up “I bet you made a lot of terrible life decisions in college, then.”

“No shit” Nicole breathed out a laugh as she sat at the table. She thought about it for a moment as she remembered some of the stupid stuff she had done in her earlier years. She shook her head at that then glanced back up to Wynonna next to her. “Still, Wynonna. Let’s not make this weird, okay? Like you said, friends get drunk and make out.”

“And have totally inappropriate sex, apparently” Wynonna snorted as her fork poked at the eggs on her plate.

“Look” Nicole let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes at her friend. “I was drunk, lonely, and, yeah, horny and you were there” She motioned to Wynonna then shrugged her shoulders “I had missed hanging out with you and I think there was a part of me that just felt like it would be safe, you know?”

“Safe?” Wynonna coughed the word out in disbelief as she finally looked up at Nicole. “There is literally nothing safe about what we did.”

“I just meant…” Nicole let out a defeated sounding sigh and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know, Wynonna. You’re comfortable, you know? I don’t have to try with you. I know you and you know me and there is none of that bullshit that comes along with pretending to get to know someone just so you stand a chance of getting a little action.”

“You saying I’m easy?” Wynonna perked an eyebrow and looked offended. She held that look for just a moment before she let out a laugh and shrugged “Because you’d be right. Just call me Sunday morning.”

“Wynonna” Nicole’s tone sounded irritated as she slumped in her chair with her eyes set on her friend. “I’m just saying I feel like I used you last night and it was totally wrong. I’m sorry.”

“Stop” Wynonna held her hand up to halt whatever heartfelt apology might come from Nicole. She set her friend with a serious look and shook her head “I have been used more times in my life than I’d like to admit, alright? I can assure you that last night’s poor life decision was totally mutual.” She let out a soft laugh, holding Nicole’s gaze for a moment more before she felt butterflies in her stomach and had to look away. She tried to shrug away the feeling as she poked at her food again “Let’s just agree that we leaned on one another for a mutually beneficial night of jollies and move on.”

Nicole stared at Wynonna curiously for a few moments. She had expected this conversation to be far more awkward. She was glad it had gone fairly smoothly. After a moment she perked an eyebrow and pointed at her friend with her fork “Wait, are you saying we just crossed into friends with benefits territory?”

“Once!” Wynonna looked up sharply and held her finger up as if to drive home her insistence. She could not entertain the idea that this would become a regular thing with Nicole. They needed to go back to being just friends and stay there. Forever.

“Agreed” Nicole let out a laugh as she lifted her hands in surrender in response to her friend’s demanding tone. “It was a one time mistake that we are both equally to blame for.”

“Oh, no, I am not taking any blame for this. It was all the whiskey” Wynonna smirked teasingly at Nicole to show that she was joking.

Nicole rolled her eyes at that but let out a soft laugh because it had been pretty funny. She gave her head a shake and looked back at her food “As long as we are on the same page about it. It was a mistake-”

“Huge mistake” Wynonna agreed enthusiastically.

“One we will never make again” Nicole continued with another roll of her eyes. “And no one ever finds out about it.”

“Never” Wynonna’s amusement dropped a bit as her eyes lifted to her friend. Suddenly her heart was racing in her chest. She could care less who knew about her drunken shenanigans. She didn’t bother pretending to be something she was not. But this wasn’t about just anyone. This was about Waverly. Suddenly she felt sick. She pushed her plate away and gave her head a little shake “No one will ever find out.”

Nicole nodded in agreement. The two of them stared at one another firmly for a few moments more before she blinked and finally looked away. It would tear Waverly apart to know the two of them had hooked up, even if they had been drunk. It hadn’t meant anything. Nicole wasn’t even sure Waverly was ever coming back. But in the off chance she did it was good to know that Wynonna and herself agreed to take this to the grave.

A heavy sigh left Wynonna’s lips as she looked back to her plate of food. She poked at her eggs again and shook her head as if trying to shake free the terrible thoughts that had just started to creep in. This was all too complicated. She knew her little sister would hate her if she ever found out about Nicole. That made her heart twist in her chest. The worst part of it all, though, was that Wynonna didn’t regret it. She had gotten one drunken night with her best friend who she, apparently, had feelings for and she hated that she was happy about that.

But she knew it could never happen again. For the sake of her own feelings and the sake of her friendship with Nicole. Most importantly, for the sake of her little sister, if she ever came back to town and wanted Nicole back. Yeah, it was much easier to put it to rest now. She was glad they both agreed that it would never happen again. Ever. It just couldn’t.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Despite their best intentions, it did happen again. The first few times were met with the same sort or denial and guilt as the first. They agreed it couldn’t happen again. They agreed it was a mistake. They agreed that it had just been because they were drunk and lonely. They promised to try harder to prevent it. They laughed that they had accidentally slept together again. It was all so silly and after the fourth time they made a promise to make sure it absolutely never happened again.

Unfortunately, it seemed, the more time they spent around each other the more it was an inevitability. It was a given that if they went out to the bar together they would end up in bed together. They discussed not going. Not drinking together. Just doing something else but it seemed that neither one of them were really too serious about it because it became a regular thing.

The more it happened the less guilty they felt. It turned less into a mistake and more into a habit. They were bored on a Thursday night? They’d go to their sleazy bar on the outskirts of town where no one knew them. They would drink, laugh, make fun of the other lonely patrons, and catch a cab ride home only to end up in bed together. Soon it just felt normal. Routine. Comfortable.

It was so comfortable, in fact, that neither of them made any real effort to fill that need elsewhere. Sure, every now and then, they’d be at the bar and see someone attractive. They’d flirt and giggle and put on the whole charade that a single person did in an attempt to snag a hook up. Maybe they did it to make themselves feel better. As if trying, or at least pretending, to find someone else would make them feel less guilty about eventually going home with the one person they most definitely shouldn’t be going home with.

Some nights it seemed as if they were flirting and hitting on other people just to tease each other. Those nights ended with an argument as a precursor to slightly rougher and unintentionally possessive sex.

It had been nearly four months since the first time they had hooked up and now with their guilt about it pushed as far back in their minds as possible, things just seemed normal. Better than normal, actually. They had cracked the code, it seemed. They managed to be completely normal best friends who annoyed each other and took care of each other on a daily basis. When they weren’t out drinking they were hanging out watching movies or doing something else completely and utterly lame. But, if Wynonna was being honest, she had come to like being lame with Nicole.

They talked about everything. Sometimes they talked about work, sometimes they had arguments about meaningless things like whether apples or bananas were the superior fruit, and sometimes they had heartfelt discussions that lasted all night. You know, just regular gals being pals.

Wynonna hated that this was the most healthy relationship, friendship or otherwise, she had ever had. Not even her sisterly relationship with Waverly had gotten to this level. It was so calm. It was comfortable. It was easy. It was absolutely, totally, healthy. Right? As healthy as it could be considering how messy it actually was.

Neither of them would admit that anything weird was going on, though. Nope. That was a subject they both avoided like the plague and they were good at it. It was a silent agreement that they had come to very early on. They didn’t talk about the consequences of their actions. They didn’t discuss it in any depth. They were just two best friends going through life together making some questionable but, honestly, awesome mistakes along the way. Yep. They were happy with the way things were.

Then one night their little bubble of denial was popped. They were at their usual spot engaging in their usual song and dance. Wynonna sat on her usual stool, beer in hand, watching Nicole flirt with a girl they had never seen before. It didn’t bother her like it used to because she knew that no matter what Nicole was coming home with her. Instead, she watched in amusement. Maybe it was cruel to toy with other people like this but at this point she didn’t really care as long as she was happy, which was she.

The bartender moved behind the bar, filling a few glasses with beer as his eyes flipped between Wynonna and Nicole. After topping off the mugs and setting them on a tray he turned his attention to Wynonna. He gave a flick of his head toward where Nicole was leaning into the other woman and let out a gruff, low chuckle “Don’t bug you that your girlfriend is paying so much attention to someone else?”

Wynonna had been mid-sip and choked on the beer that had been in her throat when the man spoke. She coughed out sharply a few times, her throat stinging from the beer, as she turned around on her stool to face the bar. She shook her head as she tried to cough away the remaining liquid that had slid down uninvited into her lungs. “What?”

The man threw his thumb over his shoulder to motion at Nicole who was leaning in whispering to the woman now “Your girlfriend.”

“She is not my-” Wynonna coughed out hoarsely and rubbed at her throat. Her head shook and she reached for the beer again because, somehow, taking a drink after choking on your drink actually helps. She managed to clear her throat a little better and motioned to Nicole blindly as she focused on the man “She’s not my girlfriend.”

The man looked at her as if he couldn’t believe what he had just heard. He stared in anticipation of her letting out a laugh at her own joke. When all he was met with was a poorly veiled look of denial, he laughed very softly and shook his head “You two come together and leave together more than any couple I ever seen in these parts. You might wanna think twice about that.” His laughter was soft as he turned and grabbed the tray of drinks he had poured before walking out from behind the bar and taking them over to where Nicole was now laughing at something the other woman had said.

Wynonna sat there completely stunned. It wasn’t that she was surprised by the words. She was stunned because the truth had, once more, punched her in the gut out of nowhere and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. Deep in her mind, in her heart of hearts, she absolutely knew what the man said was true. But they didn’t talk about it. They avoided that subject, that truth, as if their lives depended on it. Denial was a fun place to live but truth had just showed up uninvited. How was she supposed to deal with that?

She was going to deal with it in the most Wynonna Earp way imaginable. She was going to push it down and react irrationally. Without thinking, because that’s how she operated in all times of crisis, she pushed off her stool and made her way to the door of the bar.

She had only had one drink because, well, she didn’t like being trashed when she was with Nicole anymore. She no longer needed to numb her pain or guilt. She actually enjoyed her life so she didn’t drown herself anymore. So as she made her way outside it was with purpose and without stumbling. She looked around to find a cab which was a little harder at the moment since it was not nearly as late as it usually was when they left the bar.

“Damn it” She mumbled as she pulled out her cell phone and started to dial the cab company. There was one cab company in Purgatory and they had used it on a weekly basis for months now so she knew the number by heart. As she put the phone to her ear she started to walk down the road. She needed to get away. She had to leave the truth in the dust.

“Wynonna, wait!” Nicole had seen her friend rush out of the bar and immediately followed her. It was unlike her friend to just get up and leave, especially when she still had a full beer and they had been there for only an hour.

Wynonna froze in her tracks. She honestly hadn’t expected Nicole to even notice her leaving. She had been pretty focused on the other woman.

“What the Hell?” Nicole’s breathing was heavy as she caught up to her friend and reached out for her shoulder. She grabbed hold of it gently and pulled in an attempt to turn Wynonna around to face her. “What’s wrong? You bolted outta there like a bat outta Hell.”

“Nothing” Wynonna blurted out weakly. She shook her head at her lame attempt at denial. She let out a heavy sigh and pulled her shoulder out from under Nicole’s hand. She turned to half face her and shrugged “I’m just not feeling it tonight. Oh hey-”

She stepped away from Nicole and focused on her phone “-It’s Wynonna” She paused, listening. Then ”Yep, same place.” She rolled her eyes at the response on the other end before letting out a totally fake laugh at whatever joke was made “You caught me.”

Nicole stood there watching in complete confusion.

“Just get your ass here as fast as you can” Wynonna rolled her eyes again and let out a frustrated huff. “Dude, I will start using uber if you don’t-” She smirked when she was cut off on the other end. She gave a satisfied nod as she spoke “That’s what I thought.”

Nicole watched Wynonna hang up the phone then immediately stepped toward her. She threw her hands out to the side and held them there as she shrugged “What is going on?”

“I told you” Wynonna’s attempted to sound bored but her tone hung in the air with a bit of sadness. She avoided looking at Nicole now and, instead, looked at her feet “I am just not feeling it tonight. But you should totally go back in there. It seemed like you and Perky Tits were hitting it off.”

“You can not be serious right now” Nicole’s arms moved to fold across her chest. She perked an eyebrow at Wynonna and let out a heavy sigh “I was just talking to her. Besides, you know that I’m-”

“That you’re what?” Wynonna threw her hand out to the side in a flick of frustration as she set her eyes expectantly on Nicole.

“That I’m not going to…” Nicole looked a little taken aback by the way Wynonna was looking at her. She almost looked hurt. She blinked just once and motioned behind her to the bar “...I wasn’t going to sleep with her. I never do.”

“Why?” Wynonna threw both her hands up in a full arm shrug before they dropped with a slap to her side. She bore a challenging glare into Nicole’s eyes and shook her head “Why do you never go home with someone else?”

“Because, I-” Nicole stopped. She perked an eyebrow at the way Wynonna was acting and she shook her head again. “Why are you throwing a fit over this?”

“I’m not” Wynonna’s head shook and she rolled her eyes in an attempt to look annoyed. Her defenses were rising rapidly. She had to push away. She couldn’t go down this road with Nicole. She had to keep the truth as far away from herself as possible. “I am just going home. That is all I am doing.”

“Okay, fine” Nicole threw her hands up in frustration. She took a few heavy steps toward Wynonna and shrugged “Fine, we can go home.”

“No” Wynonna put a hand out to stop Nicole from coming closer as she took a step backwards. “No, I am going home.” She put a hand on her chest to indicate herself. She then threw her hand back and forth between herself and Nicole a few times “We are not going home. I am. You stay here and have fun with Mommy Long Legs.”

“I don’t want to” Nicole huffed in annoyance and gave her head a few shakes.

“Why not?” Wynonna shouted the word a little more loudly than she had meant to. She was trying to get away from this situation but the more Nicole pushed the more frustrated she became. She felt she was about to snap and say something she would regret.

“Because it’s just what we do!” Nicole snapped. Her own frustration was rising and mixing with confusion about what had happened.

“Why?” Wynonna deflated suddenly. She had to calm herself down so she didn’t blow this whole thing into the stratosphere. Maybe she could get herself out of this unscathed if she stayed calm.

“Because” Nicole let out a defeated sounding sigh with the word and just shook her head. “It’s what we always do, Wynonna. So why is tonight so different?”

“I just-” Wynonna stopped herself. She motioned to the bar behind Nicole then gave her head a shake. She turned on her heel and started down the road. She would meet the damn cab halfway if she had to.

“What the Hell happened?” Nicole would not give up. She gave chase and soon she was close enough to reach out and take hold of Wynonna’s arm. She pulled until the other woman finally stopped in her attempt to walk away. She gave a soft squeeze, to show she was concerned, and she spoke gently “Wynonna, what happened in the bar to make you suddenly need to go home?”

“Nothing” Wynonna insisted and pulled her arm away from Nicole. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath to focus herself. She had to put up her walls. She had to pretend nothing was wrong. She knew Nicole would see right through her lies if she didn’t put her mask on. After a few seconds of preparing herself, she turned and finally looked at Nicole. “I’m just not-”

“Feeling it. Right. You said that” Nicole folded her arms and scowled at Wynonna. “You should know better than to lie to me. Are you going to tell me what the Hell happened or are we going to scream at each other all night first? Because you know either way I’m going to get it out of you.”

“Stop” Wynonna shook her head and looked away. She knew Nicole was right. Damn it, she was always right. She knew Wynonna way too well for her to ever get away with pretending nothing was wrong. It was annoying. It was also one of the many, many reasons they had fallen into this inappropriate relationship. That’s what it was. A god damn relationship and now that it had been pushed front and center into Wynonna’s reality she couldn’t deny it anymore.

She tried to wave it all away with a quick flick of her hand, though. She drew in a deep breath and brought her eyes back to Nicole. Her head gave a shake and she motioned once more to the bar that was slowly starting to fade in the distance behind Nicole as total darkness set it around them. “The damn bartender pissed me off.”

“That’s it?” Nicole couldn’t help the surprised huff of a laugh that came from her lips. She motioned over her shoulder and laughed again “How many times have you punched a guy in the nose just for looking at you wrong? Now you’re trying to tell me he said something so foul it crossed the line and caused you to flee?” She gave a single shake of her head and folded her arms across herself “Bullshit, Wynonna. What’s really going on?”

“That’s the truth!” Wynonna yelled, sounding hurt that Nicole didn’t believe her. Sure, in any other case she would have punched him in the nose. But that didn’t mean she was lying. He had pissed her off!

“What did he say?” Nicole rolled her eyes and dropped her hands from across her chest. A slight smirk of anticipation rose on the corner of her lips as she focused on Wynonna. “I have to know the one thing someone could say to you that would make you flee instead of fight.”

Fear washed over Wynonna’s entire body. She went warm, then cold, then numb. Her head shook. She knew she couldn’t say it to Nicole. That was too heavy. That was too real. She also knew she couldn’t lie. Instead, she just shook her head and turned away again “Forget it.”

“Wynonna, I swear to-” Nicole grunted and used her long reach to snatch hold of Wynonna’s arm before she could escape. She gave a tug and let out a frustrated huff “Will you fucking talk to me?”

“He called you my girlfriend!” Wynonna shouted as she threw her hands up in defeat and whirled around to face Nicole. Her eyes were wide with immediate panic as she realized she had just blurted it out. She stared in horror for a few seconds as she waited for the truth bomb to destroy her world.

Nicole blinked in surprise. Her hand dropped away from Wynonna. Her face when blank. All she could do was stare in shock. She looked pale and expressionless as the words whirled around her head in an attempt to process them.

Wynonna’s heart leapt into her throat. She felt like she might faint, or die, if Nicole didn’t say something soon. She didn’t care what she said she just needed the girl to talk. She needed her to acknowledge what had been said. The truth was out now and she did not want to handle it alone.

“What?” Nicole finally came back to herself. Her brows creased in confusion as her eyes shifted to find a very panicked looking Wynonna in front of her. She let out a breath of a laugh and a smile slowly moved over her features “Okay, he was just being an asshole. He knows that’s not true.”

“Isn’t it?” Wynonna, again, seemed to have lost control of her mouth and blurted out the question without thinking.

“What?” Nicole looked a little dumbfounded by the words.

“We spend everyday together. We do stupid shit like making sure the other person has eaten. You leave me those dumbass little notes that remind me not to shoot innocent people in a moment of anger!” Wynonna was yelling now as all her frustration and denial and guilt seemed to be pouring out of her. “You fall asleep on me when we watch those lame movies you like so much. You make me breakfast, and coffee, and you always remind me not to leave the house without my keys so I don’t get locked out.” Her chest was heaving as she spoke. Her body felt like it was on fire. There was no going back now. It was all erupting from her like a volcano finally coming to life after years of lying dormant.

“Wynonna, I-”

“I don’t remember the last time I stayed at my place. My essentials for everyday life are at your house.” Wynonna cut Nicole off. It wasn’t on purpose. She was on a roll and if she didn’t get out now she might explode. “We laugh all the time and we talk about serious shit. We’ve made fucking plans to go on vacation together!” She threw her hands out again and shook her head almost like she couldn’t believe they had been denying the truth for this long. “We don’t go home with anyone else because we have each other.”

“We get drunk and-”

“No, Nicole. No.” Wynonna’s tone softened just slightly and her hands dropped. Her eyes focused on the woman in front of her and the urgency to push all of her words out before she exploded faded now. A fondness for who she was looking at crept over her features and she let out the tiniest laugh as she spoke “I haven’t been drunk with you in weeks. Neither have you.”

Nicole opened her mouth to deny it but stopped. She had never been a great liar and now was certainly not the time to start, especially when she had been encouraging Wynonna to be so honest with herself. She let out a defeated sounding sigh and dropped her eyes to look at her feet “Yeah, I haven’t been drunk in a while.”

“Then what are we doing?” Wynonna stepped closer and tucked her hand under Nicole’s chin. She eased her hand up until Nicole’s face moved along with it. When she was finally met with the other woman’s eyes, she gave her head a shake and spoke in a shaky whisper “Because I think we’re dating whether we want to admit it or not.”

“No” Nicole pushed Wynonna away and shook her head quickly. She turned her back on her friend and put a hand to her face. She pushed the pads of her fingers into her closed eyes and drew in a slow breath through her nose. This wasn’t real. This was not happening. It couldn’t be happening.

“No?” Wynonna coughed out the word in disbelief and took a timid step toward Nicole. “What do you mean, no?”

“No” Nicole whirled around and set Wynonna with a glare. It was meant to look mean, fierce, angry. Instead it fell flat and she looked terrified. Her head shook once and when she spoke her words trembled “This is…” She drew in a sharp breath and shrugged, “We can’t do this.”

“Dude, I know” Wynonna lifted her hands between them as if to say she felt just as powerless as Nicole did. “I fucking know, alright? But..” Her hands fell now and she shrugged her left shoulder as her right hand pushed back through her hair “Fuck it, Nicole. We are actually doing this.”

“What about-”

“Can you tell me honestly-” Wynonna cut off the predictable excuse Nicole was about to throw out there. She took another step toward the woman and spoke gently “-that you haven’t been happy the past few months? That none of this has actually been real? That you have still been using me to squash down your heartbreak?”

“Fuck you, Wynonna” Nicole growled weakly. She was now outwardly fighting accepting the unavoidable truth of the situation.

“Fuck you, Haught” Wynonna threw her left hand out to the side as if batting away Nicole’s misplaced anger. “You preach about honesty, self-awareness, and self-acceptance but here you are being a god damn coward when the focus is turned on you.”

“Wynonna, I-”

“You’re a fucking hypocrit is what you are” Wynonna growled the words and took another step toward Nicole. They were nearly chest to chest now and Wynonna lowered her tone since there was no need to speak loudly with them being so close “Do it. Look me in the eyes and lie to me. Tell me this isn’t what we are doing and I will walk away forever.”

Nicole’s eyes lifted slowly, taking in every inch of Wynonna she could see in the path of her gaze before it fell on her face. She locked eyes with the woman and felt her entire body shutter. There was an unexpected fire, intensity, in Wynonna’s eyes. She wasn’t sure she had ever seen her friend with that look. She wasn’t sure she had ever been looked at that way. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and let out a shaky breath as her hand lifted to the back of Wynonna’s head and she quickly closed the short gap between their lips to push a desperate kiss against her mouth.

Wynonna’s hands moved to grip at the front of Nicole’s coat as she returned the kiss. Relief flooded her body. She was terrified. She had been scared for so long about what they were doing and how it would end. She still was. They had every reason not to do this. They had everything in the world telling them why they shouldn’t. Yet here they were and Wynonna knew now that, at the very least, she wasn’t alone.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~

Chapter Text

A funny thing happens when you step out of denial and into the truth: things get easier. Things get lighter. Life, in general, just seems to be a little less taxing and more enjoyable. Human beings tend to look back at their fight against the truth and realize they were being silly and yet it never stops us from the fight. For the most part it’s human nature to deny what’s right in front of you.

Wynonna was starting to realize that maybe accepting the truth really was better than fighting it. The days and weeks following the revelation at the bar had been surprisingly good. It wasn't surprising that being with Nicole was good. Everything else that came along with a relationship was what had caught her off-guard. That was probably a sign that she had never had any sort of real romantic relationship in her life but that was a totally different issue.

The transition from being in denial about being in a relationship to admitting it was weird. It wasn’t like much really changed, exactly, but it was more about being aware of everything now. Simple things like sharing breakfast or making grocery lists now seemed far more romantic. Wynonna was now acutely aware of every little thing they had done before and how undeniably domestic it had actually been.

She didn’t hate it, though. What surprised her the most about all of it was how much she actually enjoyed it. She had embraced it. There were some things she definitely still refused to do, like hold Nicole’s hand, but that was because she wasn’t comfortable doing that with anyone. It was who she was and, luckily, Nicole seemed to understand that. In fact, Nicole had been pleasantly patient about all of Wynonna’s grumblings.

They were not as affectionate toward one another as you’d expect a couple to be. Not physically, at least, and most definitely not in public. Wynonna was good at expressing her affections in other ways, though. She had always been like that. A soft glance or a nice gesture instead of a kiss or a hug. She wouldn’t change who she was just because she was feeling all ooey, gooey happy.

It worked for them. They didn’t have to change or act a different way to be together. They worked well in their own way and Wynonna was relieved to see that hadn’t changed now that they had decided to embrace the reality of what was happening. They still teased one another, Wynonna more than Nicole. They pulled pranks on and annoyed one another but it was never seen as cruel. It was how they functioned together as friends and, well, as girlfriends. Nothing was really that different between them.

A few small changes became more obvious but nothing that Wynonna couldn’t handle. They kissed more often, which was weird but also not so bad. They had more sex, sober sex, whenever and wherever the mood stuck. Wynonna didn’t have to wear clothes to bed any longer which was definitely a positive change.

They were also more gentle with one another. Wynonna, especially, found herself softening to an unrecognizable level. When Nicole said something sweet she melted inside before teasing her about being lame. It was all brand new to her but it wasn’t as scary as she always thought it would be. She found she actually liked the comfort and familiarity of a relationship. What surprised her was how good she was at being an actual girlfriend. It was a role she never thought she was suited for but she managed to prove herself wrong everyday.

It had been more than a month since they had finally admitted the truth. Most days were good. Some days they argued because, well, they both communicated in different ways. For the most part, though, it was better than good. Stable. A word Wynonna never thought she’d be able to use to describe her life.

Nicole’s eyes were focused on the file she was reading as she turned into the open door of her office. That is when she saw someone in the room and nearly jumped out of her skin. Her eyes went wide with surprise for a split second before she let out a relieved sigh and shook her head in amusement “You know I hate when you sit in my chair.”

“That is why I sit in it” Wynonna smirked and rocked her feet back and forth where they were propped up on Nicole’s desk. She eyed the girl over just once and perked an eyebrow. She kind of hated how insanely attracted she was to the woman now. It made her wonder if she had been repressing it the entire time.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Nicole bit her lip as she pushed the door of her office closed behind her before moving to the front of her desk. She eyed Wynonna over just once before shifting to sit on the edge of her desk across from her girlfriend.

“Do I need an excuse to come see you?” Wynonna scoffed playfully as she moved to sit upright, dropping her feet to the floor. She leaned forward, putting her weight on her arms, drawing herself closer to where Nicole was sitting. “Maybe I wanted to see if you were free for lunch, Sheriff.”

Nicole felt herself shiver a bit when Wynonna called her Sheriff. It was her title, her job, and who she was but somewhere down the line it had also become Wynonna’s nickname of choice during their more intimate moments. Now whenever the woman used it Nicole knew what was on her mind. She leaned closer to her girlfriend, bringing her right elbow to rest on the desk in order to hold up her weight, while her left hand reached out to gently brush some hair behind Wynonna’s ear “What do you have in mind?”

Wynonna shook her head slightly and pulled her head away from Nicole’s fingers that had subtly brushed against her cheek. She perked an eyebrow and focused on her with a smirk set on her lips “Not at work, remember?”

“You called me Sheriff” Nicole pouted cutely as she pulled her hand slowly away from the other woman.

“You are on the job. I was being respectful” Wynonna licked her lips then sat back in the chair to put distance between herself and Nicole. She was absolutely being a tease now and she was doing so on purpose. She had always liked to make Nicole squirm and that had not changed one bit. She just had a whole new bag of weapons now which made it all the more amusing.

Nicole let out a soft, frustrated sigh and straightened up where she sat. She gave her head a shake, laughing very lightly at the fact that Wynonna was such a tease, before she pushed herself to standing. “Well then, Earp. I guess I can spare a few minutes to meet with you for lunch.” She spoke in her serious tone, her Sheriff tone, as she scooped up the file she had been reading earlier and flipped it open again.

Wynonna absolutely loved how easily they could slip back and forth between the many roles they played in each other’s lives. Nicole was not only her girlfriend but her best friend and, yeah, her boss. Kind of. Technically. They made a serious effort to not cross those lines. Work was work and home was home. Sometimes the lines blurred, sure, but most of the time they stuck to it. That was one of the many things that actually helped make this entire thing work so well.

She pushed herself out of the chair and rounded the desk, dragging her hand around the edge of it as she moved. She perked an eyebrow at Nicole as she approached where she stood looking at the file. She lifted onto her toes to look over the top of the file, peeking at what was inside, before she dropped back to her feet. “So, Chinese?”

“Sounds good” Nicole gave a nod and glanced up from the file. When she saw Wynonna smirking in amusement at her she couldn’t help but smirk right back. It was stupid, really, how giddy the two of them were around one another. It was also nice. There was such an ease between them that it seemed almost crazy to think they had once butted heads so frequently “You know what I like.”

“Yeah I do” Wynonna chirped proudly, throwing a wink at Nicole as she stepped around her. She couldn’t resist letting her hand swing back to slap against her girlfriend’s ass as she went. When she heard Nicole yelp, she smirked triumphantly and reached for the handle of the office door. “Be back in twenty, toots.”

Nicole shook her head in amusement and watched the woman strut away. If anyone else acted this way around her it would irritate her to no end but Wynonna somehow made it charming and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Wynonna was laughing to herself, swinging her keys around her finger, as she made her way out of the police station. She had just rounded the corner toward the outside doors when she slammed into someone. She stumbled back a few feet as her smile faded into an annoyed scowl “You should really watch where-”

“Wynonna, hi” Waverly looked surprised that she had literally just run into her sister.

Wynonna stared in disbelief. She had to blink a few times to make sure her eyes were not playing a trick on her. She hadn’t even been day drinking so there was no reason she should be hallucinating. She shook her shock away and finally smiled widely “Holy shit, Waverly!” She lunged at her sister and wrapped her up in a tight hug. “When did you get back?”

“This morning” Waverly was relieved to see her sister wasn’t mad at her. She returned the hug warmly, patting Wynonna’s back a few times “I wanted to surprise you.”

“Well you did” Wynonna let out a laugh and pulled back from the hug. She held her sister at arm’s length and let her eyes move up and down, inspecting the girl, before bringing her excited gaze back up “Look at you! You look tan and…” She reached for a lock of Waverly’s long hair and ran it through her fingers “...are these blonde highlights? Did you go back to the early 2000’s on your trip?”

“Shut up” Waverly let out a soft laugh and swatted her sister’s hand away from her hair. “I was trying something new. Do you hate it?”

“It looks great” Wynonna’s tone was a little more sincere. Her eyes once more took a pass over her sister before she let out another soft laugh “I can’t believe you’re back! Are you here to stay?”

“I don’t…” Waverly shook her head as her smile faded slightly. She tucked the strand of hair Wynonna had played with back behind her ear and shrugged “I don’t know yet. I was honestly just passing nearby and figured since I was so close to home I’d stop in and say hello.”

“Always an honor to be a second thought” Wynonna rolled her eyes. She frowned a bit as her delight at seeing her sister started to fade and was being replaced by a bit of anger. “Hey, thanks for not staying in touch, by the way. That was a real dream come true.”

“It was just easier” Waverly frowned and stepped closer to her sister. She set a sad look on her face and nodded “I knew if I didn’t completely cut all ties I would have never been able to fully experience the world outside of Purgatory.” She reached out and put a hand on Wynonna’s arm, letting out a soft sigh “That doesn’t mean I wasn’t missing you every day I was gone.”

“You could have called” Wynonna pulled her arm out of Waverly’s touch and folded it across herself. “I was worried, you know?”

“I’m sorry” Waverly whispered as she took a step back from Wynonna now that she could tell her sister was upset. She drew in a deep breath and lifted her shoulders in a weak shrug before speaking again softly “How is she?”

It was in that very moment that Wynonna remembered that Waverly had broken Nicole’s heart when she up and left. She was reminded that her little sister and current girlfriend had once been engaged. All of the consequences she had been aware of and chosen to ignore were now staring her in the face. Her heart jumped into her throat and she suddenly felt like she might pass out.

In true Wynonna Earp fashion, though, she managed to play it cool. She put on a tight lipped smile and tilted her head to the side in a slight nod “She’s happy.”

“Is she here?” Waverly perked an eyebrow and motioned to where Wynonna had just come from, assuming she had just seen Nicole inside since it was the police station after all.

“Oh” Wynonna glanced back behind her then quickly shook her head. She turned back to her sister, smiled a little wider than necessary, and slung her arm over the shorter girl’s shoulders. “She's busy with official, nerdy, Sheriff duties at the moment. How about you and I go grab some lunch, catch up, and maybe see about tracking down Rooty Tooty Sheriff Snooty later?”

“I, uh-” Waverly tried to turn away from her sister and head inside but failed. Wynonna had enveloped her pretty thoroughly with her arm and was now leading her very enthusiastically in the opposite direction. She was helpless to fight it off so she just went with it. She did like the idea of catching up with her sister. She had missed her. She had missed everyone. She wasn’t sure she was ready to see Nicole anyway. Maybe once she smoothed things over with Wynonna she would feel a little more confident about looking into the face of the woman whose heart she selfishly broke.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

“Did you actually go to China for lunch?”

Wynonna glanced at the message on her phone as subtly as she could. She had been sitting in the diner with Waverly for half an hour now. Most of the conversation had been one sided, consisting of her sister excitedly recounting all the adventures she had been on. Wynonna had been trying to listen, trying to be happy for her little sister finally living out her dreams, but it was hard with all the dread and guilt distracting her.

“Do you need to get that?” Waverly pause her story and glanced at the phone sitting next to her sister’s plate.

“What? No” Wynonna rolled her eyes and flipped it over so it was face down before shaking her head. “Not important.”

“Really? Because you’ve been side-eyeing it the entire time. If it’s important, you can take it” Waverly offered her sister a warm smile and motioned to the phone. “I won’t be upset.”

“It’s fine” Wynonna folded her arms on top of the table and fixed her sister with a genuine smile. “I’m listening.”

“It’s Nicole, isn’t it?” Waverly could tell something was bothering Wynonna. It was nice to know that she could still read her sister even after being away for nearly a year.

Wynonna’s eyes fluttered and she tried to deny it with a shake of her head.

“Your lying has gotten rusty” Waverly breathed out a laugh and motioned again to the phone that Wynonna had already glanced at again. “Seriously, go ahead and answer it.”

Wynonna hesitated, eyeing her sister curiously for a moment as if trying to decide if she was testing her. When Waverly’s gentle gaze didn’t flinch, she let out a sigh and quickly grabbed her phone. “I swear I really do want to hear about all the shit you saw all over the world. This will only take a second.”

“I get it. I dropped into your life unannounced” Waverly smiled and sat back against the booth as she watched her sister type out a message on her phone.

Wynonna nodded at Waverly but hadn’t really heard her. Her fingers were flying across her screen. She would type then delete then type again. She actually had no idea what to say. Her heart was racing in her chest. This was probably her worst nightmare and she was freaking out a little bit.

“Something came up. I’ll probably go to the Homestead tonight. Please don’t come over.”

Waverly perked an eyebrow at her sister. She could see the look of concern all over her face. She could see how heavily she was breathing and the way her hands trembled as she typed on her phone. Suddenly, worry filled her and she leaned forward toward the table again “Is everything alright?”

“Totes” Wynonna tried to shrug it off as casually as she could as she set the phone back down on the table. Her hand pressed against it, as if guarding it from prying eyes, as she pushed another tight smile across her mouth.

“You’re hand is shaking, Wynonna” Waverly pointed out the trembles she could see from across the table and gave her head a little shake. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing” Wynonna barked sharply. She was starting to panic and when she panicked she got mean. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath to try and calm herself. When she opened her eyes and saw Waverly still eyeing her with concern she let out the breath she had pulled in “You’re right, you did kind of drop back into my life unannounced. I have a lot going on right now. But-” She lifted her hand to stop Waverly’s concerned questioning from coming out of her lips and shook her head “-It is nothing you need to worry about, alright? I got it under control.”

Just then her phone started to ring which made her jump. Her eyes went wide and she stared at the device as if it had just betrayed her. She turned it over to look at the screen and, sure enough, it was Nicole calling. She swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat and lifted a hand to her sister “Give me a minute.”

Waverly nodded in acknowledgement as her brows knitted more tightly together. She could see something serious was going on and now she was worried that people might be in danger. She started to wonder if maybe things had started getting a little too demony again.

“Nicole, I-”

“What in the world is going on?” Panic rose from the speaker of Wynonna’s phone as she pushed her way out of the diner and around the side of the building.

“Look, something came up and-”

“What came up? Don’t shut me out, Wynonna. We’ve talked about this. It’s not you against the world anymore. I am capable of and more than willing to help.”

“I know” Wynonna let out a heavy sigh. She pressed her back against the building and closed her eyes. “I am not pushing you away, okay? I just-” She shook her head against the phone and opened her eyes. She felt her entire world disintegrating under her and she wasn’t sure she was actually capable of dealing with it. “I know I can’t tell you not to worry because that will only make you worry more.”

“You’re damn right it will.”

“You have to trust me, Nicole. Something came up that I need to handle by myself. I will come to you when I need to, and I will need to, but you just have to wait until that moment. Can you do that?”

There was a pause at the other end of the phone but Wynonna knew what face Nicole was making. It was the one where she set her eyes on her and, even though she didn’t like what she was hearing, she believed her and it showed in the way her eyes settled softly on her.

“Will you at least call me later?”

Relief flooded Wynonna for a split second and a smile slid over her lips. She nodded against her phone as she pushed off the side of the building “Only if you send me a nude.”

“I’m not-” Nicole gasped and let out a soft laugh into the phone. “You’re never going to convince me to do that.”

“Worth a shot” Wynonna felt her heart flutter when she heard Nicole’s laughter. It made her feel light, if only for a moment, amidst the heaviness that had settled around her. “I’ll call you later, Haught.”

“Be careful, Earp.”

Wynonna nodded at the sentiment that was Nicole’s usual sign off before she hung up the phone. She let the lightness that Nicole had filled her with linger inside her for a moment longer before she refocused on the task at hand. Her sister was back and she had to figure out exactly how to navigate the situation.

“Everything alright?” Waverly asked softly when Wynonna slid back into the booth across from her.

“No” Wynonna admitted with a shrug as she tucked her phone into the pocket of her jacket. She set her eyes on her sister and when she saw the concern on her face, she let out a laugh. “But, as you said yourself, you are just passing through so it’s none of your concern.”

Waverly looked truly hurt by the honesty from her sister. She fell back against the booth and gave her head a slight shake as she fixed Wynonna with a stare that said she couldn’t believe her sister would say such a thing “Whether you believe me or not I still care about what happens here.”

“That isn’t what I meant” Wynonna grumbled as she dug out some cash. She tossed it into the middle of the table then slid out of the booth. She motioned for Waverly to follow suit but did not wait for her to catch up. She hurried out to her truck and already had the engine started by the time her sister slipped in beside her. She glanced to her right and shrugged “You have to remember that time didn’t stop when you left.”

“I know” Waverly folded her arms across herself and turned to look out the windshield as Wynonna started the truck down the road. “I didn’t expect time to stop but I didn’t expect such a cold welcome, either.”

“What exactly did you expect, Waverly?” Wynonna felt her defenses rising now. She had never expected she would have to defend herself from her sister but the truth was Waverly had left a lot of destruction in her wake and now everything they had rebuilt was at risk of being decimated by her return.

“A little warmer welcome, for one” Waverly shrugged and let out a deflated sigh. “Maybe throw in a ‘I’m so happy to see you, babygirl! I missed you!’” She mimicked Wynonna’s voice the best she could before shaking her head and returning her tone to normal. “But you’ve been distracted and a little rude, if I am being honest.”

“And you’re selfish” Wynonna snapped. She could see Waverly opening her mouth for a rebuttal and she held her hand up to stop it “Which I totally get. I am not judging you for it. I did it myself” She put a hand on her heart and gave her head a shake. “But I also knew your life had gone on without me so when I came back I didn’t expect you to put your world on hold for me.”

“I am not asking you to put your life on hold” Waverly huffed and sunk down into the seat slightly. “I just thought you’d be a little more excited to see me.”

“I am” Wynonna sighed heavily as her hand reached out to gently rest on her sister’s knee. She gave it a soft pat and nodded just once “I have missed you. I am so fucking happy that you are out there seeing the world, babygirl. I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures and the crazy shit you’ve seen.”

Waverly smiled very softly as her hand moved to lay over her sister’s. She gave a nod and just took a moment to soak in the feeling of being touched by someone she loved. She had definitely enjoyed her time away from home. She had experienced unbelievable things. She had met incredible people and learned more than she ever thought imaginable. She had also missed companionship. She had missed hugs and inside jokes and knowing someone had her back. It was nice to be back in the company of someone she knew she could rely on.

Suddenly her heart ached. She had given up a lot when she left. She had caused a lot of hurt, too. She hated that she had done so but she knew that if she had lingered around to make sure everyone was alright before she left that she never would have made it out of Purgatory. She wished she could explain why she had done it but she also knew it didn’t matter. She went on a mission for herself, to learn about who she was on her own, and if someone couldn’t accept that then they didn’t really care for her. At least that’s how she felt about.

It didn’t stop her from feeling sorry for the hurt she caused. She could tell Wynonna was upset at her, which she understood. She also knew her sister would forgive her for it. She was, however, left with a lingering question and she couldn’t sit on it any longer. She cleared her throat to break up the silence that had settled in the cab of the truck and glanced at her sister “How is she?”

Wynonna’s heart tightened in her chest. She knew they wouldn’t get through a conversation without Nicole being brought up. She had hoped they’d go a little while longer so she could think of a way to completely avoid the subject but, alas, life was never in her favor. As she pulled into the driveway of the Homestead she simply shook her head “You don’t get to ask about her.”

“That’s not fair” Waverly frowned at the response and pulled her hand off of Wynonna’s as the truck was brought to a stop.

“You know what wasn’t fair, Waverly?” Wynonna’s head whipped toward her sister and she set her eyes on her with a scowl. “You destroyed her. You left her with nothing more than an apology and it tore her to pieces. She wanted to marry you, spend her life with you, and you tossed her aside without any regard for her feelings.”

“Wynonna, I-”

“What’s worse? You left me, too” Wynonna shook her head and slipped out of the truck now. Her skin felt like it was on fire. She was pissed at her sister. She was hurt by the way she had left and she was annoyed with her sudden reappearance. Most of all she was terrified by what Waverly’s return meant for her life.

“Hey” Waverly caught up to her sister and pulled at her arm to stop her in her tracks. She waited until Wynonna turned back to look at her before she threw her hand out to the side. “I thought you understood why I left! You were all about it! What happened to ‘I get it, babygirl. You deserve to see the world’?” She mimicked her sister again then let out a heavy sigh.

“It's not what you did but how you did it!” Wynonna yelled and threw her hands up in frustration. “Do you understand what you left behind? You broke her heart, Waverly. You shattered it into a million pieces and left me behind to clean it up!”

“I never asked you to!” Waverly yelled back. Her head shook quickly and she motioned behind herself to somewhere else “I never asked you to be the god damn savior, Wynonna. You took that role on yourself. You don’t get to stand here and make me feel guilty about it. You could have walked away and let her fend for herself.”

“Like you did?” Wynonna’s anger was boiling so feverishly now she was on the brink of exploding. “You think you’re so fucking brave for walking away and leaving a path of destruction in your wake? You abandoned her. She loved you, Waverly. She lived and breathed for you and you threw her away!”

“She’s doing just fine, you said so yourself” Waverly huffed and once more motioned elsewhere to indicate wherever Nicole might be.

“Because of me!” Wynonna used her hands to point furiously at her own chest. “I cared enough to stay and take care of her. I made sure she could get back on her feet. That’s what you do for the people you love, Waverly. You don’t just toss them aside and hope they make it out unscathed.”

“This is so unfair!” Waverly threw her hands up into the air and let out a frustrated sob. She hadn’t expected her return to be so emotional. She hadn’t expected Wynonna to be so upset at her.

“What’s unfair is you coming back here and immediately going to see her” Wynonna hissed the words through gritted teeth. “Do you know what would have happened if I hadn’t run into you and stopped you from dropping in on her unannounced? You’d have destroyed everything she has worked so hard to build without you.” Her head shook. Her jaw was clenched so hard she was surprised her teeth weren’t breaking “You don’t get to do that to her. You don’t get to waltz back in here and consume the life she made without you.”

Waverly’s brows creased together in a mix of frustration and confusion. She didn’t understand why her sister was being so protective of Nicole. She knew the two of them were friends and she assumed they had grown a bit closer in her absence but she had never anticipated this sort of response. It was as if Wynonna was siding with Nicole over herself. “I don’t want to consume her life. I just wanted to see her.”

“Why?” Wynonna’s shoulders twitched into a quick shrug. “You’re a fucking hurricane, Waverly. Even if you’re just passing by you’re going to do some damage.”

“You’re being cruel” Waverly shrunk a little where she stood and folded her arms protectively across herself.

“I’m being honest. Seeing you again is going to rip her up” Wynonna’s tone softened just a bit. It wasn’t because her anger was fading. It was because she was filling with sadness at the mere thought of what seeing Waverly would do to Nicole. She was terrified her girlfriend would take one look at her sister and run back to her with open arms.

“I just wanted to see her” Waverly repeated her insistence from earlier. “Say hi.”

“Do you still love her?” Wynonna nearly choked on the question as it tumbled from her lips. Her legs trembled slightly and she had to reach out to steady herself by grabbing hold of the railing that lined the steps of the Homestead.

“I-” Waverly’s eyes fluttered in surprise and her arms dropped from across her chest. It was easy to see that she had not expected the question. Honestly, she didn’t fully understand why her sister was so interested in her intentions with Nicole. She managed to shrug weakly and give her head a shake “I’m not sure. I thought about her a lot. I missed her. I love the person she was and I will be forever grateful for what she taught me about myself. But I’m a different person now and I can’t say for certain if the person I’ve become loves the person she has become.”

“Then leave her alone” Wynonna sighed the words sadly and stepped up the last step onto the porch. She set her sister with a serious look and spoke in a tone that reflected the importance of her words “If you still care about her, even the tiniest bit, you’ll leave her alone. She’s happy now and you’re leaving again.” She shook her head at that then turned to open the front door.

“Did she find someone else?” Waverly’s voice trembled slightly as she stepped toward her sister.

Wynonna froze. Her heart stopped. She felt her entire body warm before going ice cold. She dropped her chin and without speaking or turning around she gave a nod. She would not lie. She hadn’t thus far and she wouldn’t start now. It was one of the annoying things Nicole and herself had worked on. She knew lying in this situation would do no good, anyway. If she lied then it would cause more damage if the truth ever came out. Had she been selective about the truth she shared with her sister? Absolutely. But she had not lied.

Waverly was a little surprised by her sister’s honesty but she appreciated it nonetheless. She gave a nod of acknowledgment even though her sister hadn’t turned around to face her. She drew in a sharp breath and folded her arms across herself again. She stood there deep in thought for a few moments before letting out a heavy sigh and focusing back on her sister “She’s happy?”

“I think so” Wynonna gave a nod and glanced back at her sister. She didn’t dare hold eye contact for too long out of fear that Waverly would be able to tell that it was her making Nicole happy.

“Do I know her?” Waverly frowned as disappointment started to set in.

“This really isn’t any of your business” Wynonna sighed and turned around to look at her sister. She gave a little shrug of her shoulders and shook her head “You gave up the right to know what was going on in her life when you left. Can you just respect that and move on?”

“You’re right” Waverly swallowed the lump in her throat and looked at her feet. She gave a nod and started up the steps of the porch. “You’re absolutely right, Wynonna.”

Wynonna nodded and tried to give her sister a cocky smile but it fell flat. She waited for her to move past her into the Homestead before she followed suit. Once inside, she let out a sigh and looked around. It felt kind of weird to be back. She rarely stayed in the house anymore. Nicole’s place was closer to work, closer to town, and, well, had Nicole. She only stayed here when Nicole worked overnight.

“So how have you been?” Waverly had taken off her coat and made herself at home while Wynonna reminisced about being back in the Homestead.

“Huh?” Wynonna blinked away her thoughts and tried to focus on her sister.

Waverly let out a soft laugh and fixed her sister with a smile “I realized I hadn’t asked about you. How are things? Still demony? How’s Doc?”

“Doc?” Wynonna perked an eyebrow in confusion. She hadn’t heard from the man since shortly after Waverly had left. She hadn’t thought about him in almost as long. She shook her head at that and shrugged it off “Oh, he left about the same time you did. Hasn’t been back.”

“What?” Waverly bounced where she sat on the couch and turned to face her sister a bit better. “Why did he leave?”

“To suck blood? Why does anyone leave this place?” Wynonna gave a dismissive flick of her wrist and moved to the kitchen. She shook her head as she moved to the cabinet to get the whiskey. She then remembered she had no whiskey here because she stayed at Nicole’s place more often than not. She put both hands flat on the top of the counter and leaned into them. She closed her eyes and drew in a steadying breath. She wasn’t sure she could do this. The more Waverly asked about her life the more she would have to skate around the subject of Nicole. This was an absolute nightmare.

“Are you alright?” Waverly had followed her sister into the kitchen and now stood with concern on her face as she watched Wynonna bracing herself against the counter. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It’s fine” Wynonna waved it off with another flick of her wrist before turning away from the counter. “I just realized we don’t have any booze. I think I am going to go get some.”

“I’ll come with” Waverly perked up and smiled at the idea. “Maybe stop by Shorty’s for a drink while we’re out?”

“No” Wynonna put a hand up to quell her sister’s enthusiasm. She managed to put on a fake smile and laugh very lightly “You’ve been traveling. You should stay here, relax, take a load off, insert another cliche here. I will be back before you know it. I’d kind of like it to be just you and I tonight and if we go out I know everyone will want you to hang out.”

Waverly was surprised by Wynonna’s insistence that she stay behind but she had to admit she liked the reasoning behind it. Instead of arguing about it she gave a single nod and a soft smile “I do kind of feel like I have a layer of travel filth all over me.”

“There you go” Wynonna felt relief rush through her as she motioned toward the ceiling to indicate the bathroom on the second floor. “You go shower and I’ll get the booze.”

“Deal. But be quick” Waverly gave a little bounce on her toes “I have so many stories to tell you!”

“And I can’t wait to hear them” Wynonna let out a weak attempt at an enthusiastic laugh and gave her sister a thumbs up. She watched Waverly bounce off excitedly toward the stairs before she quickly rushed back out to her truck. Her heart was racing. Her entire body was trembling. She felt like she was barely holding herself together. She had to go see Nicole. She had to see her face when she told her that Waverly was back. She knew Nicole’s reaction would tell her all she needed to know about how she felt about the news.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Nicole was waiting for Wynonna on her porch when she pulled up. She was riddled with worry and had been pacing since receiving the text that told her Wynonna was heading her way. Her mind had been racing about what could have possibly come up. She hadn’t heard Wynonna rattled like that in a long time and it had totally unnerved her.

Wynonna hopped out of her truck once she came to a stop in front of Nicole’s. She hurried up to the porch, her hands already extended in an attempt to stop whatever worried rambles might come pouring out of her girlfriend. “I’m fine. Still got all my limbs and my head” She pointed at her head to emphasize her point before fixing Nicole with a crooked smile.

“I’ve been worried sick about you” Nicole huffed out a sigh of relief and quickly moved to pull Wynonna into a hug. She knew hugging wasn’t Wynonna’s favorite thing but at the moment she didn’t care. It was kind of funny that after all they’d been through Wynonna still hated casual hugs.

“I know” Wynonna nodded and didn’t fight the hug. Honestly, it felt better than she could say. She needed it. She needed to feel the comfort and safety that only Nicole could give to her. She sighed and let herself relax in the hug as her arms wrapped around her girlfriend to return the embrace.

Nicole frowned when she felt Wynonna return the hug. Something must be terribly wrong if Wynonna was not only accepting comfort but seemingly seeking it out. She pulled out of the hug just enough to catch her girlfriend’s eyes. She could see the worry they held and that immediately spiked her own anxiety “What’s wrong, Wynonna?”

“I’m not going to lie to you. But before I tell you, I want to say something” Wynonna set her eyes firmly on Nicole’s, letting the woman see just how serious she was being. She needed Nicole to know that there was absolutely nothing to joke about here. Everything that was about to come out of her mouth was genuine. This might be the only time in her life she had ever or would ever be this critically honest.

“O-okay” Nicole stuttered out of pure surprise. She had never witnessed Wynonna in this state of complete and total determination. Her heart suddenly started to beat a little more quickly. She had no idea what was going on but she somehow knew whatever was about to be said would change the course of their lives forever.

“I want you to know I wouldn’t change a single thing about this past year with you” Wynonna put a hand against Nicole’s cheek, holding it there, as if she were afraid the woman would turn away from her. “It hasn’t been easy. You went through Hell. I know you probably think you owe me for helping to get you back on your feet and making you move on. The truth is, though, as annoying as it was at times I would do it all over again.”

“Wynonna, what are you talking about?”

“Because it taught me, you taught me, that feeling something other than pain is alright” Wynonna continued despite Nicole’s questioning. “It’s terrifying as Hell but after you get over that fear it’s not so bad to feel. I’ve felt things with you, about you, that I never thought possible and I will always cherish that.”

“Are you-” Nicole blinked and stepped back from Wynonna with shock on her face. “Are you breaking up with me?”

“No, damn it, Nicole listen to me” Wynonna stepped closer to the woman and reached out to grab ahold of her coat. She tugged sharply to get Nicole’s attention even though she hadn’t taken her eyes off her. “I want you to know that you don’t owe me anything, alright? There is no debt here, no obligation. So, please, listen to that big beautiful fucking heart of yours and do what it tells you to do.”

“I am so confused” Nicole’s voice cracked when she spoke. It was easy to see she was fighting off tears. She had no idea what was going on but she could feel the dread seeping out of Wynonna’s entire being and it was scaring the living shit out of her.

Wynonna moved into Nicole and captured her lips in a kiss that was mind-numbingly passionate. It was also desperate and sad and completely genuine. There was urgency behind it. She was trying to tell Nicole everything she felt so there was no doubt in her mind about it once they parted. She needed Nicole to feel it, that she loved her, because obviously her words weren’t getting the point across.

The fire, the passion, the mind-numbing certainty that flowed through the kiss took Nicole’s breath away. They had shared many kisses, many long nights tangled together expressing how they felt with their bodies, but none of that compared to this kiss. A tear rolled down her cheek as she let herself become completely consumed by the different emotional layers the kiss held.

When she finally pulled back, Wynonna could feel that her lips were swollen. She drew in a shaky breath and put a hand to her mouth. The pain was welcome. It was a reminder that everything she was feeling was real. Good or bad, god damn it, it was all real and that was because of Nicole Haught. She licked slowly over her lips, drew in a deep breath, reached her hand out to wipe the tear off of Nicole’s cheek, and gave a single nod “Waverly’s back.”

Everything that was rushing through Nicole from the kiss suddenly dropped out of her body through her toes. She went cold. Her heart jumped into her throat and seemed to get stuck. She stared blankly at Wynonna as the words bounced around in her mind. They echoed, almost like she hadn’t heard them directly but, rather, from a distance. She wasn’t actually sure she had heard them at all.

Then she drew in a breath, felt the blood rush through her veins, and she blinked. Her brows curled together as she focused on Wynonna in a way that looked as if she had spoken a different language to her. “Wh-what?”

Wynonna nodded because that was kind of the exact reaction she had anticipated. She licked over her bruised lips and took a step backwards now. She drew in a deep breath to steady her trembling body and motioned to her truck as casually as she could “That’s what came up. That’s what I’ve been dealing with today. Waverly is back in town and she’s been asking about you.”

“She is? She has? What did she say?” Nicole spouted off the questions so quickly she couldn’t stop them. She then gained control of herself and shook her head quickly. “Wait, what did you say to her?”

“Nothing” Wynonna flicked her hand to the side like she was batting away Nicole’s worry. “I didn’t lie to her, Nicole, but I did not volunteer any information either.”

“What did…” Nicole swallowed roughly because her throat was suddenly dry. Her face was still twisted with confusion. She hadn’t quite fully grasped what was happening yet “What did you tell her?”

“I told her to leave you alone” Wynonna threw her hands up with a bit of defeat in her tone. “I told her when she left it destroyed you and that seeing you now would just be cruel because you were happy.”

Nicole nodded in agreement but didn’t speak. It was easy to see that her mind was racing, trying to process all the information being thrown at her.

“You are, right?” Wynonna perked a curious eyebrow at the girl. When Nicole looked at her for clarification, she let out a sigh “Happy, I mean. You are happy. With me?”

“Yes” Nicole answered quickly as the shocked look dropped from her face. She moved over to Wynonna now and put her hand on her cheek “Yes, Wynonna, I am very happy with you. I hope you know that.”

“I do” Wynonna whispered honestly. She turned her face into Nicole’s touch, enjoying it for just a moment, before she let out a sad sigh and moved away. “I also know that this-” She pointed to Nicole and then herself “-can’t continue the way it’s going so long as Waverly is here.” She stepped back from Nicole again, lifting her hand to stop the woman from moving after her, before setting her eyes in another serious gaze “There are unanswered questions between you two and the only thing that is going to kill me more than losing you to her is spending the rest of our time together with you thinking about what could have been.”

“What are you saying?” Nicole’s breath was shaky as it slipped from her lips.

“I’m telling you to go see her” Wynonna barked as she fought off the anger that always rose with her defenses. She felt vulnerable and scared and she really wanted to yell right now. But she wouldn’t. She fought back the urge to snap at Nicole, drew in a steadying breath, and spoke more calmly this time. “Go see her. If you want to. I told her to stay away from you because I was trying to protect you from being blindsided. But the choice is yours now” She motioned to Nicole’s cruiser and looked away. She was trying so hard not to be selfish despite wanting to do so in the name of self-preservation “I have a feeling you need to know if it’s really over between you two.”

“Wynonna, I am happy with you. I want to be with you” Nicole took a step toward her. She frowned when Wynonna stepped back to keep the same distance between them. She let out a sad sigh and folded her arms in front of her “Will you look at me?”

“No” Wynonna kept her eyes on her truck.

“Look at me” Nicole asked a little more politely now.

“I can’t” Wynonna mumbled, swallowing the lump growing in her throat. She knew if she looked at Nicole she would tell her to stay and that wasn’t fair. She wanted the woman to stay by choice and not out of obligation.

“Just fucking look at me!” Nicole’s tried to yell but it ended up sounding like a desperate cry.

Wynonna drew in a sharp breath through her nose, set her jaw, and whipped her head toward the woman. She focused on her and gave a weak shake of her head “What?”

Nicole stared at the woman for a few heartbeats. She didn’t blink. She let her gaze bore into Wynonna’s eyes so she could see how she was feeling and know what she was thinking. She was not happy about this but she was also grateful because Wynonna was right. She swallowed hard and when she finally spoke all tenderness had left her “You’re a fucking asshole.”

Wynonna just nodded then quickly looked away. She wouldn't bite back. She wouldn’t say something she might regret just because her fight or flight response had been initiated and she only knew how to respond with fight. She simply looked away because she couldn’t stand to watch Nicole get in her cruiser. The thought of watching her girlfriend drive away to see her ex-fiance, her little sister, was too much. She was sure she would break down if she had to see it happen so, in an act of self-preservation, she stared at the ground until the rumbling of the cruiser’s engine faded into the distance.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Chapter Text

Two days. It had been two days since Wynonna had listened to the sound of Nicole driving away from her. She hadn’t been strong enough to look up until she was sure the woman was out of sight. Even then she stared at the dirty snow that was packed down from the footsteps leading up to Nicole’s front porch for longer than necessary. If she looked up it would be too real and she was so over dealing with the truth. She wanted to go back to the faux bliss of denial.

It didn’t feel right to be at Nicole’s house any longer. For months it was the place she had felt the safest, the warmest, and the most comfortable. She was sure that was due to the fact that Nicole was there. She would feel all of those things anywhere in the world so long as Nicole was with her. Now, being inside the empty house all alone made her feel more alone than she ever had before. She knew she couldn’t wait there.

She was trying to fight the urge to do what she always did in times of uncertainty. She wanted to either drink herself into oblivion or run. It was her back-up plan, her safety net, for when things went sideways. She knew that wouldn’t do any good, though. Stupid Nicole had taught her so many annoying things over the past year and one of those things was not to run from your problems. Because of that she was stuck with no idea how to deal with the waiting.

She ended up doing the one thing she knew could occupy at least a little bit of time: Driving. She wouldn’t drive out of town because that would be too tempting for her to just keep going. She did, however, drive from one end of Purgatory to the other as many times as she could on a single tank of gas. Then, when she ran out of gas, she filled up her tank and did it again. She was essentially pacing back and forth over the entire length of Purgatory. Stupid Nicole Haught had somehow passed her nervous pacing trait on to Wynonna.

She spent the first night sleeping in her truck on the side of the road as far away from town as she could get. She didn’t want anyone to find her. She certainly did not want Nicole to accidentally pass her by on the way back to town and stop to check on her. Honestly, she was hoping that Nicole never spoke to her again because she felt like it would be too hard. She had pushed the woman away because she knew it was the right thing to do. Now, she hoped Nicole stayed away. That was the kindest thing Nicole could do to return the favor. Damn it, when did Wynonna become so noble and shit? That was completely Nicole Haught’s fault. Curse her.

Early the second day Wynonna had tried to call Nicole. She knew she shouldn’t but her resolve had been weakened by lack of sleep and being dangerously under caffeinated. Luckily she was sitting in a patch of no cell service and the call had dropped. A small blessing. She forced herself to turn off her phone after that. She would check it in a few hours. She knew that Nicole had to be the one to reach out to her. She had to be patient.

When she heard Nicole had called off of work that morning there was a part of her that believed she knew why. She couldn’t stop the intrusive flashes of Nicole’s naked body writhing on top of her sister. It was as if her mind was torturing her with these unwanted images. Nicole’s lips consuming Waverly’s. Her fingers gripping tightly against her sister’s bare thighs. The little breathy groan Nicole made when she was touched in that one certain spot.

The images nearly drove her mad and by lunch time she found herself steering her truck down the familiar road toward the Homestead. She was blinded by rage, or jealousy, or perhaps insecurity. Whatever it was had managed to push down all reasoning and take control. Despite her best efforts to talk herself down, that ugly part of her had taken over and was leading her into the belly of the beast, so to speak. She was about to go in there guns blazing, metaphorically of course, and put on her best impression of a stalker ex-girlfriend.

Were they ex-girlfriends? She wasn’t really sure. The fact of the matter was the logistics of it all didn’t really matter at all. She had set Nicole free. She had cut the ties and told her to go to Waverly. She had absolutely no business butting in. This was her fault. She had pushed Nicole away because she was terrified that was the choice the woman would have made anyway. She beat her to the punch. She let Nicole go so she did not have to feel guilty when she inevitably went back to Waverly in the end.

It was that thought that stopped her from finishing her journey to the Homestead. Waverly and Nicole were endgame. They were the great love story, weren’t they? They were brought together by chance, put through Hell and back, and had managed to persevere through it all. She was stupid to think she had a fighting chance with Nicole now that Waverly was back. She had only been gone a year. What was a year in the grand scheme of things anyway? Couples went through ups and downs and Wynonna was most definitely a loop de loop on that roller coaster ride toward forever.

That was the latest truth in the string of them that she had to come to terms with. She was getting really tired of all this bullshit truth the Universe was tossing her way. You know what happens when you start accepting truths? Life starts to kick you around. You start getting hurt. Fuck the truth. God, why had she listened to stupid, annoying, obnoxiously-noble Nicole Haught? This was all her fault!

Her anger steered her away from the Homestead and toward the junkyard. She needed to break something. She needed to shoot something. She needed to divert all of the hurt threatening to boil to the surface. She had to do something, anything, to get everything she was feeling on the inside out of her before she exploded. God, when did she learn coping mechanisms that were slightly healthier than drinking until she couldn’t remember her name? Oh, that’s right. Nicole, the big jerky jerk, Haught.

As she shot out tires and broke out windows she felt her anger fading. She wasn’t actually mad at Nicole. It was easy to blame Nicole because she was the one that had all the power to dismantle her. In reality, though, Wynonna didn’t feel an ounce of malice toward Nicole. Maybe that was the real issue. She was more pissed at herself for letting her guard down and allowing the woman to infiltrate her defenses. It was all her own fault for opening up. She was to blame for all the pain coursing through her body at the moment and she didn’t know how to handle it. She had forgotten how badly she could kick the shit out of herself sometimes. This was most definitely a harsh reminder. She wished she could go back in time. Actually, no. Despite all the pain, she wouldn’t change anything about the last year. She had been telling the truth when she said that to Nicole just 24 hours prior.

When she turned her phone on that night she was disappointed to see that Nicole had not at least texted. Waverly had, though. But, Wynonna was totally not ready to face her little sister so she ignored the messages with a quick swipe to clear out the notification. She left her phone on while she stuffed a greasy cheeseburger down her throat but when there was still no word by the time she finished she gave up. She turned the phone off, stretched out across the seat of her truck, and closed her eyes. She couldn’t go home because, well, she didn’t have a place to call home so she would once more sleep in her truck.

She didn’t sleep. She spent the night thinking. Why was she so upset? She was the master of being detached, right? If you didn’t get too close you couldn’t get hurt. If you felt yourself starting to attach you just left or pushed away. She had done it her entire life. She had bounced from city to city, hook up to hook up, for years. She had managed to detach herself from Waverly enough to justify leaving her for three years. It was her brand, afterall. With that being the case why in the world was it so different now?

What did she expect with Nicole? What was her endgame? Did she really want to, like, spend the rest of her life with Nicole? That sounded fucking weird. Maybe it could be alright, though. Things were kind of settled down now, with the curse being broken and all. They spent most of their days taking down normal ass criminals or very low level demons. Could she really, like, make a happily ever after for herself with Nicole? It would be easier than trying to find someone to date and then having to explain the shit show that was her life. Plus, the two of them made a great team. But was that enough?

Was she settling for comfortable? That wasn’t her style at all. Maybe it should be, though. She had made a few changes to her way of thinking so maybe a few more wouldn’t hurt. She could go find Alice and bring her back to Purgatory. Nicole and herself could spend the day sending demons back to Hell then go home together and cook dinner while the miniature version of herself swore at her legos. That sounded nice. Well, it sounded weird, but mostly it sounded nice.

What about Doc? What if he came back and wanted to give it a try again? What if he wanted to see Alice? She hoped he would want to be a part of his daughter’s life but would that be awkward? Did she love Doc? Ew, that sounded so crazy. Love. What does that even mean, really? The only person she had ever really loved was Waverly, and Alice, and that was a certainty she would never deny.

But was it completely true? If she had to be honest with herself which, she did, because she was lying wide awake in the middle of nowhere, she knew she loved Nicole. But what did that mean? Did it mean forever? Was it the kind of love that inevitably faded, as she believed all love did. Could she see herself with the woman forever? Forever was a concept she couldn’t really grasp but if she thought about it hard enough she could definitely see herself with Nicole by her side for as long as she could see into the future.

If that was the case, what would happen with Waverly? Would this destroy the way they related to one another as sisters? There was a universally unspoken code that said you weren’t supposed to date your sister’s ex. She was pretty sure there was, at least. If there was a code, then she had broken it, and Waverly had every right to be pissed at her forever. She would probably do the same if the situation were reversed. Although the idea of Waverly and Doc dating was pretty fucking hilarious.

It was actually really stupid of Wynonna to be thinking about the future and the what-if, anyway. She knew what would happen, what had already happened, so she was just wasting energy and emotion on nothing. She should be drunk. She should be so intoxicated that she had literally numbed all of her nerve endings. That was a much better idea than lying in the front seat of her truck thinking about happy endings. Who the fuck actually got happy endings anyway?

Somewhere in the middle of allowing herself to think about a happy ending and then scolding herself for it because it was ridiculous, Wynonna managed to drift off to sleep for a few hours. They were restless hours. She fought visions of herself falling into a fiery void. She was perpetually running from something she couldn’t see. There were the raindrops that landed on her and itched her skin. The most unnerving dreams of all, though? The ones of Nicole above her, a sheen of sweat glistening her skin, her pink lips swollen from the hours of kissing. She would lock her eyes lovingly on Wynonna below her then whisper huskily “You were a substitute for Waverly.”

That was the one that jolted Wynonna awake. She kicked her foot against the passenger side window out of frustration as she slowly moved to sit up. She groaned as she moved, realizing immediately that sleeping in her truck like that had been a terrible idea. Just as well. Seems she was fucking fantastic at making terrible decisions.

She yawned and rubbed at her eyes as she reached into the pocket of her jacket. Two days. Well, technically, more like a day and a half but at this point it felt like an eternity. She hadn’t heard from Nicole since she had sent her away just after lunch time two days ago. At this point she really didn’t need to hear from her. The silence was all the answer Wynonna really needed. The message had been received loud and clear.

She turned on her phone once more, just for shits and giggles. She had more notifications from Waverly that she cleared out without reading. It was a little curious that her sister seemed to be consistently trying to reach her but Nicole wasn’t. Blood was thicker than water and maybe that was still true even though Wynonna had totally betrayed her sister by dating Nicole. She wondered if Nicole had confessed that to Waverly before or after they had been tangled in a passionate rekindling of the love they’d thought they’d lost.

Welp if Nicole was going to give her the silent treatment that left her no choice. She was going to leave town. She had nothing to stay for any longer. Nicole had made her choice and was too chicken shit to tell her in person and Waverly would probably be unbearable to be around considering what she’d done. There was no reason to stay. She could take what she had, which wasn’t much, and hit the road. She was good at leaving. She would reach out and apologize to her sister in a few days, once she was too far away to be chased down.

Yep this was the only way. Leave it all behind, pretend like it never happened, and go back to a simpler life. A life without feelings or consequences. She had made up her mind. Wynonna Earp was leaving Purgatory once and for all.

~.~.~.~.~.

“Did you go to a distillery to get the whiskey?” Waverly asked with a laugh as she rounded the corner out of the kitchen towards the front door when she heard it open. Her laughter was cut off when she was met by an unexpected visitor. She blinked once and let out a shaky breath “Nicole.”

“Hi” Nicole gave a timid nod and drew in a deep breath. She looked Waverly over from top to bottom just once before her eyes returned to her face. She stared blankly for a few moments. She knew Waverly was back, Wynonna had told her so, but she still had not been prepared to actually see her. Standing within just a few feet of her now seemed unreal. It was almost like she was looking at a ghost.

“What are you doing here?” Waverly perked an eyebrow as she took a single, short step toward the other woman.

“Wynonna sent me” Nicole gave a nod. Then her brows creased together as she thought about it and she gave her head a shake “She told me you were back, I mean. Practically pushed me to come see you, actually.”

“She did?” Waverly smiled softly and straightened up slightly where she stood. “That’s a little surprising considering she was pretty adamant that I stay away from you.”

“Yeah, well, she was trying to protect me” Nicole lifted a hand to the back of her head, rubbing aimlessly for a few seconds, before lifting her shoulder into a shrug. “She said she stopped you from blindsiding me.”

Waverly nodded just once as her arms folded across herself “She was right to do that. I wasn’t thinking about how you’d react to seeing me without warning.”

“You do that now don’t you?” Nicole’s hand dropped and she let out a sad sounding sigh. “Not think about how I’d react, I mean. That’s your new favorite thing to do.”

“That’s not fair” Waverly frowned and dropped her arms from around herself. “I haven’t stopped thinking about how you were doing since I left.”

“Now you’re concerned about what’s fair?” Nicole laughed the words as if she could not believe she had just heard them. Her brows curled together in a frown and she quickly shook her head “It would have been fair for you to at least warn me that you were leaving.”

“I know” Waverly sighed heavily and took a careful step toward Nicole. She bit her lip nervously as she looked the woman over. She could see that special light that Nicole always seemed to have about her was gone. It nearly broke her heart to know that was because of her own selfishness. “I see now that I went about it all in the worst way possible.”

“Well you can’t take it back now” Nicole huffed and flicked her hand to the side as if brushing away the sentiment. “All you can do is face the consequences.”

“I know” Waverly gave a quick nod of agreement and took another step toward Nicole. They were now just an arm’s length away from one another. “I’ll do anything to make it up to you, Nicole. I hate what I did to you. I hate that I hurt you.”

“You can’t just come back, say a few sorrowful sentiments, and expect me to just fall back into you” Nicole took a step back and threw her hands up in frustration. “You haven’t even apologized!”

“I’m sorry” Waverly said quickly before pulling her bottom lip nervously between her teeth. “I was selfish and I hurt you. I am so, so sorry.”

“You didn’t call” Nicole’s voice rose an octave as she felt herself starting to choke on her tears. She cleared her throat and tried again “You didn’t even check on me. That doesn’t sound like someone who is genuinely sorry for the hurt they caused.” She was starting to tremble where she stood as she realized just how painful this was. She always believed she would enjoy the moment she saw Waverly again but that wasn’t the case at all. This was still an open wound.

“I was hurting, too” Waverly shrugged and gave her head a quick shake. “This wasn’t just a walk in the park for me, either.”

“No offense, Waverly, but I don’t really care about how you felt. You had the choice. You brought the pain on yourself. I didn’t” Nicole put a hand to her chest and frowned sharply “I was left to just deal with the cards you gave me. Excuse me for not caring about your pain when I had mine thrust unwittingly upon me.”

“Nicole, I’m sorry. I will do any-”

“I need time” Nicole lifted her hand to stop Waverly from continuing. She set the girl with a firm glare, her eyes moving over her once more, as if she didn’t recognize her, before her head finally shook. “Just leave me alone.”

Before Waverly could call out to try and convince Nicole to stay, she was gone. Waverly bit her bottom lip roughly, worrying it back and forth over her bottom teeth, fighting off a wave of tears as she watched Nicole get into her police cruiser and speed off the Homestead and down the darkening road.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Wynonna kicked in the door of the bar and stomped her foot down proudly as she stepped inside. This, of course, drew the attention of everyone inside. She had all eyes on her and she took a moment to just soak it in. Ah yes, she had forgotten what it was like to be recklessly selfish and desperate for the attention of strangers.

“Heyo….man” She tried to remember the bartender’s name then gave up and just threw a point and a wink his direction as she slid up to the bar. She leaned into her elbows and gave him a wide grin “I would like two of your best whiskey shots, please.”

The man stood there, eyebrow perked curiously, towel in hand, wiping the glass he was holding. He looked Wynonna over just once then flicked his head in a slight shake as a soft laugh escaped his lips “The last time you were here you stormed out without paying your tab. You really think you can just burst in here like you own the place, bat your eyelashes at me, and start making demands?”

“I said please” Wynonna scoffed and motioned with her hand in a sort of shrug type gesture.

The man gave another shake of his head as he set down the glass he had been shining and reached for another “Not until you pay your tab.”

Wynonna rolled her eyes and reached into the pocket of her leather jacket. She grabbed a fistful of all the cash she could feel and pulled it out to reveal what she had found. She dropped the few crumpled bills and loose coins onto the bartop and started to unfold and flatten them so she could count up what she had. It became very obvious very quickly that she didn’t have enough cash to cover the cost of much more than a few items on a fast food dollar menu.

“Not even close” The bartender mumbled from the same spot he had been standing in since Wynonna had kicked in the door.

“I can do math” Wynonna snarked as she slumped onto one of the barstools. She tapped her finger against one of the quarters a few times and let out a defeated sounding sigh. She glanced up at the bartender and when she saw the smug look on his face she just rolled her eyes “You know what? I didn’t want your piss whiskey anyway.” She pushed off the barstool, causing it to tip as she turned in a huff and headed for the exit.

“You could always have your girlfriend pay your tab for you” The man called out in amusement.

Wynonna’s feet screeched to a halt against the cheap linoleum of the bar floor. Her entire body was overtaken by a wave of white hot rage. She spun around to face the man and stormed back toward the bar with a look of unwavering fury in her eyes.

“Oh, did I touch a nerve?” The bartender snorted in amusement when he saw Wynonna spin around and come back toward him. He had opened his mouth for another quip but was cut off by a fierce right fist connecting solidly with his nose.

After Wynonna landed the punch to the bartender’s face an all out rumble ensued. Most of the patrons had jumped in to try and defend their favorite bartender. Wynonna had managed to duck out of the way of a few sloppy, drunken punches which allowed for the flying fists to find a different target. Soon people were punching other people for no reason other than the fact that they had been hit by someone else.

Unfortunately, Wynonna did not get out unscathed. She had ducked under some fists and started to crawl away to freedom once she realized what she had done. It was a stupid thing to do but she had been attempting to go back to her carefree life without consequences. That ended immediately after her fist connected with the bartender’s face. She had to get to safety so she did her best to avoid scuffling feet and toppling chairs as she crawled toward the door.

Someone saw her fleeing and grabbed ahold of her leg. They pulled her sharply, which caused her to flatten to the floor and slide easily toward them. She flipped onto her back and attempted to use her other leg to kick herself free. The big barbarian of a man who had ahold of her caught her other leg mid-kick and tossed it aside with a laugh.

Luckily, before he could do much damage, he was hit over the head with a chair. As soon as her leg was freed she scrambled to her feet. She brushed herself off, took a deep breath, looked around at the chaos she had caused, and turned toward the door again.

She ducked an incoming beer bottle and stumbled to the side. This caused her to run into someone else who immediately reacted by throwing a backhand in her direction. That backhand landed squarely under Wynonna’s right eye and knocked her completely off her feet. The next thing she knew she was lying flat on her back against the floor. She hissed out in pain, reached up to grab at the ache in the back of her head, but didn’t have much more time to dwell. She dodged a few feet and another bottle of booze being thrown at her as she turned over and once more pushed herself to standing.

She spotted the back exit and knew that was her way out. With her head ducked she ran as quickly as she could for the door. She managed to push it open and stumble out into the fading light of the early evening before falling forward onto the ground.

As she laid there, face down in the snow, her cheek began to throb and she was reminded what pain felt like. Her hand lifted to touch at the spot that was probably already starting to bruise and she let out a sigh. It was in that moment that she finally allowed the flood gates to open. She had been fighting so hard not to feel anything but anger and hurt. Now, though, as she laid defeated in the snow she succumbed to the pain that resided in her heart. She closed her eyes, exhaled, and allowed herself to be consumed by the tears that she had been denying existed. Like the cliche girl with a broken heart she cried over someone who didn’t want her. How lame.

~.~.~.~.~.

Waverly paced around the Homestead, her cell phone in her hand, tapping it on her palm as she moved back and forth. Nicole had stormed out of the living room the night prior and Waverly had not heard from her since. She had yet to hear from her sister, either. She was starting to worry. Could it be possible that she had done irreparable damage to the two most important people in her life? With each passing moment she was becoming aware of just how selfish she had really been.

Suddenly there was a knock on the front door and it caused Waverly’s heart to jump up into her throat. She whirled around on the spot where she had frozen at the sound of the knock and quickly made her way to the front door. She pulled it open as soon as she reached it and couldn’t help the visible sigh of relief that she released when she saw who was on the other side. “Nicole” She smiled, looking the woman over just once before motioning for her to come inside.

“I want to have a completely honest conversation with you, Waverly.” Nicole started into the speech she had practiced on her way over as she walked into the Homestead with determination. She got to the middle of the living room before she focused on Waverly and nodded “I am going to ask some tough questions so if there is anything you don’t want to answer you might want to consider telling me to leave now.”

“No” Waverly’s voice was weak, her face curled into a frown, as her head shook. “It’s totally fair for you to have all the answers you want. Nothing is off limits.”

Nicole drew in a deep breath and nodded once. She motioned to the couch to indicate she wanted Waverly to sit down before she moved to do the same. She made sure to move away slightly once Waverly sat down a little too closely. She wanted to be sure she did not slip into her bad habit of bending to Waverly’s wishes simply because of her inability to resist her.

Waverly frowned a little more when Nicole moved away from her but she understood. She could respect that the woman needed her time and space. It was probably for the best. They needed to work this out without anyone’s judgement being clouded by distractions. She nodded at Nicole to indicate she was listening but she did not speak. She simply set her eyes on the woman softly to show her that she had her undivided attention.

“Was it worth it?” Nicole blurted out bluntly. She didn’t want to beat around the bush. If she did she knew she would never get any sort of real answer. She needed answers. This conversation could shape the rest of her life.

“What exactly are you asking about?” Waverly spoke in a way to show she was simply searching for clarification and was not stalling in giving an answer.

“Leaving to travel the world. Leaving your home and your family behind to do…” Nicole gestured randomly at all of Waverly’s being and shrugged “To do whatever it is you needed to do out there.”

Waverly nodded to show she understood before her eyes dropped. She chewed mindlessly on the corner of her bottom lip and watched herself pick at a bit of peeled skin on one of her thumbs. She took a few moments to really consider the question. She wanted to be as honest with Nicole as possible as well as ensuring she wasn’t simply saying what she thought Nicole wanted to hear. After a few long moments of thought she looked back to the woman who was watching her intently “I learned things about myself that I am certain I would have never learned had I stayed in Purgatory my entire life. So, yes, in that aspect it was absolutely worth it.”

Nicole took a moment to process the answer before nodding to show she understood. She took in another deep breath before speaking another question “If you had to do it all over again, knowing exactly how it would play out, would you?”

“Yes” Waverly didn’t hesitate in answering this time. She had numerous questions lingering inside herself about the decision she had made and the fallout it caused but second guessing that it was the right thing to do was not one of them.

“Do you regret walking away without warning?” Nicole’s tone was a bit softer now as she once again felt the sadness of being abandoned settling in.

“I do” Waverly again answered without pause. Of course she regretted the pain she caused. It was the last thing she had ever wanted to do. Not only had she broken the only person she had ever loved but she had hurt her sister badly enough that she was not speaking to her.

“Was there ever a moment you wanted to turn back and come home to fix it?” Nicole’s shoulder flinched up in hopeless shrug.

“There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about home, Nicole.” Waverly’s frown deepened again as a hand lifted to brush some loose hair back off her eyes. “I think about the fact that, if I hadn’t up and left, you and I would probably be married by now. I think about the life I decided to leave behind. How could I not think about that?”

“How does it make you feel?” Nicole sighed the words out with a shake of her head. She was trying not to let every emotion Waverly had ever made her feel get in the way right now. She couldn’t just bend and forgive her. She needed the woman to face everything she left behind.

“Sad” Waverly admitted with a shrug. “But it also makes me grateful for the experiences I had while I was gone. I saw so much of the world. I saw people of all different types from all different walks of life. I learned different definitions of words I thought I understood. That is knowledge that I will never take for granted, Nicole, and it opened my eyes to an entirely new world. A world where I can belong as just myself.”

“What do you mean?” Nicole perked an eyebrow curiously because she hadn’t quite gotten the point Waverly was trying to make.

“I’ve always been someone attached to someone else” Waverly’s tone sounded defeated and sad. “I was always the youngest Earp. I was crazy Wynonna’s sister. I was the poor girl whose daddy and sister died. After that I was little sister to the Earp Heir. Then I was Bobo’s angel. I was your girlfriend. I was an actual, real-life, literal angel.” She let out a heavy sigh, sounding exhausted by it all before she shrugged “I’ve never just been Waverly and that’s because I’d never gotten a chance to discover who that is.”

“Do you know who Waverly is now?” Nicole licked over her lips and let out another sigh. She was finding it hard to stay upset at Waverly because she understood in the very depths of her soul what the woman meant by finding out who you were on your own.

“Yeah, I do” The corners of Waverly’s lips flicked up into a quick smile, indicating she happened to like the person she was.

“Does this new Waverly plan on sticking around?” Nicole gestured vaguely around the room where they were currently sitting.

“I honestly can’t answer that” Waverly admitted with a shake of her head.

“Why not?” Nicole spoke softly to show that she was genuinely interested in the answer and was not judging her by it.

“A few things” Waverly softly laughed the words and lifted her arm in a full shrug. “I want to stay because this has always been my home but I’m not sure it’s the right place for me anymore. Especially if-” She paused and let her eyes take in the entirety of Nicole before she spoke softly “-if I’m not welcome here.”

“You can’t let me dictate whether or not you’re welcome here” Nicole shook her head in discontent at the idea. “I am going to be here, in Purgatory, whether or not you stay. I have a life here, Waverly. I have the job I have always wanted. Every day excites me. People search their entire lives to find that. I would be crazy to give that up.”

“You really are happy, aren’t you?” Waverly’s tone sounded a bit sad but her lips managed to curl into a smile. When all was said and done she truly wanted Nicole to be happy. There had once been a moment that she would have died to be the reason for that happiness and a part of her still clung to that thought even if she was sure she had lost that chance.

“It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but, yes, I am finally happy” Nicole spoke firmly, sincerely, but with a softness about her. She had been going on about life so casually with Wynonna by her side that she hadn’t actually realized how perfectly her life fit into her lifelong dreams until she had been faced with seeing Waverly again and all the emotions that came along with it.

“Your new girlfriend makes you happy?” Waverly’s question was sincere. She was not trying to pry or act jealous. She genuinely wanted to be sure Nicole was being taken care of by whoever had come after herself.

“How did you know about that?” Nicole’s eyes went wide at the unexpected question. Her body went warm and she felt her neck and ears flush with a bit of a panicked heat.

“Wynonna told me” Waverly nodded just once. She could see the tips of Nicole’s ears turning bright red and she had to fight off a smile. She had forgotten that Nicole flushed when she got nervous. It made her heart flutter just the tiniest bit to be reminded of simpler times between them. “She was very adamant that you were happy and that my return would be a disaster for you.”

“Well, she’s not wrong” Nicole mumbled and dipped her chin to hide her eyes. She could not let Waverly look at her because she was certain the woman would see the unexpected fondness that had grown for her sister. She was barely ready to face Waverly like this. She was not prepared to have the conversation about herself and Wynonna just yet.

“I hope you know I’m not upset” Waverly whispered, reaching her hand out to touch at Nicole’s knee to comfort her. She paused, though, when she realized she was not sure how the gesture would be met. She held her hand out, tapping her forefinger against her thumb a few times nervously, before deciding to risk it and gently bringing her hand down to Nicole’s knee.

“Whether you’re upset or not has no bearing on me right now” Nicole lifted her eyes and fixed them firmly on Waverly to show her that she was not concerned about how the woman was feeling. “She’s right, you know? You’ve only been back a single day and I feel completely dismantled.”

“I’m sorry. That was never my intention. The last thing I want to do is come in here and make things hard on you. I, truly, just want to see you.”

“I know” Nicole gave a nod and looked back to her lap. She saw Waverly’s hand on her knee and for a moment her heart fluttered. It would be so easy to fall back into old habits. It had been nearly effortless with Waverly. From the moment they met they had fallen into one another completely. It had been amazing, there was no doubt about that. But did that mean it was still right? Her head shook because she knew the answer to that question was not a simple one.

Waverly’s head tilted to the side and she watched Nicole mulling over her thoughts. She once more worried her bottom lip between her teeth anxiously. She wasn’t sure what to say next. Should she speak or wait for Nicole to say something more? Did she even have the right to ask about Nicole’s life? According to Wynonna she had lost that right when she had boarded the bus out of town.

“What else did Wynonna tell you?” Nicole decided to change the subject for two reasons. The first reason was that she wanted to know exactly what had been shared so she would not accidentally say something she shouldn’t. The second was to gauge where Waverly’s head was at. She needed to see how the woman was feeling about all the information, or lack thereof, she had received.

“That she’s pissed at me” Waverly mumbled in defeat and pulled her hand away from Nicole’s knee now. “She ripped me a new one. I had no way of guessing how hard she would take me leaving.”

“I think it has more to do with you coming back” Nicole whispered to herself through a deep sigh.

“Why?” Waverly perked an eyebrow out of curiosity at the words from Nicole.

Realizing that she had spoken out loud, Nicole looked up at Waverly with another wave of panic visibly washing over. She swallowed, her throat suddenly feeling dry, as she stared across the couch looking like a deer caught in the headlights. She wasn’t sure how to recover from the slip up. She was a terrible liar and this was supposed to be an honest conversation. How was she supposed to get out of this without spilling the beans about herself and Wynonna?

“Oh” Waverly nodded suddenly as if she had gotten the answer to her question from Nicole’s frozen, panicked facial expression. She gave a little half shrug and dropped her eyes back to her lap to once more watch her fingers pick anxiously at themselves. “I get it. She would be just as protective of me if the roles were reversed.”

“Wh-what?” Nicole coughed out in surprise. She had thought for a moment that Waverly had caught on but with the words she realized Waverly still assumed it was because of the hurt she caused with her departure. She wasn’t completely wrong in that thinking. It was one of the reasons Wynonna was pissed at her sister’s return. Shaking off the thought she tried to compose herself with a heavy sigh “I just mean, you know, Wynonna has a bad case of Momma Bear syndrome. We’ve gotten close since you left, Waverly. Now her hackles are raised, you know?”

“I get it” Waverly half smiled at that. Her sister had always been a great protector. Well, before shooting their father and going into the loony bin. She had also dropped the ball when she left town for a few years. But, since her return to break the curse, Wynonna had been the fearless protector of all those around her and that was something Waverly would always admire about her sister.

Nicole nodded as she watched Waverly process her own thoughts. The woman seemed to be accepting the consequences of her actions pretty well. Yet, she didn’t really seem too apologetic about them. It made Nicole wary to trust her again. She clung to that thought as she licked her lips and cleared her throat to get Waverly’s attention gently. When the woman looked at her attentively she felt a dreadful wave of something she couldn’t pindown move into her chest as she spoke “Do you still love me?”

“I don’t know you” Waverly’s words trembled as she spoke them. “I came back to see if there was still something left between us but I had no expectations because I know I’m a different person” She put a hand to her heart then used the same hand to gesture toward Nicole “You are a different person than the woman I left behind, too. I can’t assume that what once was can be again.”

“You’re right” Nicole let out a heavy breath as her head nodded once firmly. “You’re not the person I thought I knew. I don’t know where she went but she disappeared before you ever left. I know that because the person I loved, the person I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, would have never left the way you did, Waverly. That should have been your first clue that things had changed and, honestly-” She stood suddenly from the couch and threw her hands out in frustration “-you probably shouldn’t have come back.”

“This is my home” Waverly pointed to a nearby wall to emphasize her point. “I have every right to be here regardless of how badly I hurt you.”

“You’re right, Waverly, this-” Nicole pointed harshly to the floor where she stood -”is your home. But this-” She now pointed firmly to where her heart sat racing in her chest “-is no longer yours so don’t expect to be able to move back in if you plan on sticking around.”

“Nicole, I-” Waverly stood up and reached out for Nicole who had started toward the door quickly. “Please don’t walk out on me. I want to try and figure this out. I want to start over and get to know the new you and show you the new version of me.”

“I’m not sure I can trust you!” Nicole pulled her arm out of Waverly’s grip fiercely and stepped away from her. “I gave you my entire world, do you get that? Or is that a concept you don’t understand? Because you broke a piece of everything I had the day you decided to be selfish.”

“But I needed to-”

“You know the worst part of it all?” Nicole threw her hands up once more in frustration and took another step away. Her eyes were stinging with unshed tears but, damn it, she would not let Waverly see her cry. She had stopped giving the woman her tears long ago. “I get it, Waverly. I understand exactly why you did what you did and if you had just come to me-” Her frustration faded into sorrow as her hand covered her heart “-if you’d communicated your needs to me I would have let you go without a second thought. But you didn’t love me enough to consider that option and that, right there, is something I will never be able to forgive.”

“Nicole” Waverly could barely breathe the name out with how overwhelmed by emotion she felt.

“Just-” Nicole put her hand up to stop whatever else might come from Waverly. She was pissed again. She was once more hurting all over. She hated that she understood exactly why this had happened. Being a human being and seeking out answers about who you were was something Nicole had a grasp on. She wasn’t mad at that. She was mad at the choices Waverly made to accomplish that.

She was also mad at herself for not being upset with Waverly for leaving. In another time or place this reunion would probably be a happy one but, because Waverly was too much of a coward to do the right thing, it would never be the same with her. The thing she hated most was that she still loved the version of Waverly she had initially fallen for and knew, without a doubt, a part of her always would.

“I have to go” She finally breathed out as she turned away from Waverly completely. She started shaking her head as a way of fighting off the all consuming urge to collapse back into her pain and cry until she couldn’t feel anything but exhaustion.

“Nicole, wait-”

“Don’t” Nicole threw her hand behind her, toward Waverly, in a weak attempt to stop her from following as she left the house. She had to leave. She had to get away and think again. She needed more time to figure out what the Hell she was feeling and thinking. Most importantly of all she needed time to have a long, honest talk with herself about what it was she wanted.
~.~.~.~.~.

“Nicooooole!” Wynonna yelled loudly from the front yard of the familiar blue house with white trim. She could only see out of one eye, since her other was swollen shut, but she was pretty sure the bedroom light was on. Maybe she was imagining it. She had taken a pretty bad blow to the head. How had she even gotten to Nicole’s place? Had she driven? Now that she thought about it she was probably concussed.

She shook the thought away and cupped her hands around her mouth to yell again “NICOLE!” She stepped backwards a bit and craned her neck up in an attempt to get a better look at the house. She lifted her hand and counted the windows like she had so many months earlier. She gave a nod as her left eye focused on each white trimmed black square. They were all dark.

She let out a sigh and dropped her hands. She looked around herself and gave a little shake of her head. If Nicole still wasn’t home then she had no idea what to do next. After the bar fight she had spent longer than she can recount laying in the snow sobbing her face off. When she managed to get ahold of herself she made her way back to her truck and decided she had to talk to Nicole. She had to hear it from her mouth, look in her eyes, and face the truth that it was really over. It was the only way she could move on.

Then she had apparently driven to Nicole’s, which she did not remember, and was now realizing was scary. She reached up and rubbed at the ache in the back of her head. She shouldn’t be standing outside her house yelling at dark windows. She should be at the hospital getting a CT scan or something. Did they have a machine to fix a broken heart, too? No that was stupid. She didn’t have a broken heart she was just being weak. She still couldn’t believe she had cried over some dumb girl.

She shook the thought away again. She had to focus. If Nicole wasn’t home she would just go inside and wait for her. The woman had to come home eventually, right? Unless she and Waverly decided to elope and run away from Purgatory forever. Then, well, Wynonna would at least have squatters rights over Nicole’s abandoned house.

With that thought in mind she marched toward the front door. She was going to go inside and sit stubbornly in the dark with an ice pack on her face while she waited for the stupid redhead to come face her. She honestly could not believe that noble Nicole had ghosted her. Like who even was she? Wynonna had thought she knew the woman pretty well but apparently not.

When she reached for the door and was greeted with the unyielding doorknob she blinked in surprise. She focused her one good eye on the doorknob and tried again. It was definitely locked. She let out a huff and stepped back with a shrug. Now she was confused. Nicole had left in a hurry and Wynonna had totally not locked the door behind her when she left. Why was the door locked now?

She didn’t really have time to think about it. Her head was starting to hurt. She moved off the porch with a scowl on her face and glanced back to the house. She set her hands on her hips and stared at the building as if it were one huge puzzle. Suddenly, the echoing of Nicole lecture about losing her house key came back to her. Damn it, she really should have gotten another copy made.

She let out a heavy sigh and scanned the building once more. She was about to give in and just sleep in her truck, again, when her good eye spotted the ladder propped up against the right side of the house. Her heart gave a little bit of a flutter. She wasn’t sure if that was because of the fond memories of climbing into Nicole’s window during the good old days or because there was a smidgen of hope that she could get inside. Either way she took the brief moment of pleasure and allowed herself to smile.

She brushed it off quickly and rushed around the house to the ladder. It was really kind of stupid for Nicole to keep it there all the time. She was practically inviting just about anyone who happened by her house to climb right up inside. She would totally have to lecture Nicole about it later. But for now she would take total advantage of the stupidity.

Wait, did Nicole leave the ladder there all the time? Because Wynonna hadn’t climbed into her window for months now.

She shook the thought off as she reached the roof that hung over the porch. She slowly crawled her way over to the window that she knew was Nicole’s. She got up on her knees and pressed her face to the glass. She stared for a few moments, trying to see if she could spot any movement inside. She was kind of hoping that Nicole would be inside, laying in bed, waiting for her.

That was a stupid thought. She shook it away and let out a sigh when she didn’t see anything. She pressed her hands against the glass now and gently attempted to scooch it to the side. Honestly, she had expected to be met with the same resistance as the locked door but much to her surprise the window moved. She almost cried out in relief. The window was unlocked! Maybe Nicole had come back and unlocked it with the hope that Wynonna would do exactly what she was doing. It was a pipe dream but, hey, it’s all she had to hope for at the moment.

As the window slid open, Wynonna shifted to slide her leg through the opening. She reached through blindly, extending her toe as much as she could, hoping to find her footing in the dark. She couldn’t really see too well, on account of her one swollen eye and the darkness of the bedroom, so she was clinging to the windowsill above her for dear life as she slowly lowered herself to the floor.

She, of course, lost her balance before she could find her footing and toppled off the windowsill and onto the floor with a loud thud. For the second time that night she found her face pressed into the ground, feeling utterly defeated. But, hey, at least she wasn’t lying on the snow this time, right? She took that as a win as she rolled to her back with a groan. Ah the dark silence of defeat and despair. This was an acceptable fate.

“Wynonna?”

She shot up from where she had been lying and looked around the dark room in search of the sudden voice. She blinked once then squinted her good eye until it adjusted to the darkness. That is when she saw her. The familiar, slender, slightly disheveled form sitting up on the right side of the bed. Her side of the bed. A smile slowly creased Wynonna’s lips as she breathed out a weak whisper “Nicole?”

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing here?” Wynonna blinked once at the shape of Nicole climbing off the bed in the middle of the darkness that now somehow seemed suddenly lighter.

“I live here” Nicole laughed very softly and moved around the foot of the bed to where Wynonna was sitting on the floor. She knelt down, inspecting the woman as she did so. “Are you drunk?”

“No” Wynonna huffed out a tiny laugh as if she was upset at the accusation but also understood why Nicole would think that. It was her brand. “I may, however, be concussed.”

“What?” Nicole’s voice rose in panic. Her eyes went wide and she stood up fully. She rushed over toward the lamp in the corner of her room because she felt like the overhead light might be a little too harsh. “I’m going to turn on the light so close your eyes.”

“Easy peasy, one of them is already there!” Wynonna chirped with a laugh as she made a show of closing her other eye, extending her chin toward Nicole, as if displaying that she had followed directions. Yep, she was most definitely concussed.

Nicole clicked the light on and immediately gasped when she saw Wynonna’s face “Oh my god, Wynonna. Did you get in a fight?”

“No” Wynonna shook her head slightly and carefully opened her good eye. She winced at the light. It wasn’t harsh and yet it still hurt. She shook it off, though, and tried to adjust her focus. When she saw Nicole, moving toward her with concern on her face, she felt her heart flutter. She wasn’t imagining this. She couldn’t help the goofy smile that came to her lips as Nicole knelt in front of her “Hi, pretty.”

Nicole let out a breath of a laugh and gave Wynonna a crooked little smile at the greeting. She could tell that there was something going on because the woman was acting loopy. The thought immediately filled her with worry and the smile dropped from her face as she reached out to gently touch at the bruised right side of Wynonna’s face “What happened?”

“Well” Wynonna winced slightly at Nicole’s touch but when the woman pulled her hand back Wynonna quickly reached up to stop her. She fixed her good eye in a soft gaze on Nicole and spoke with a bit of a tremble in her words “I might have accidentally incited a riot at the bar but, I promise, I only threw one punch and got out of there as fast as possible.”

“Wynonna” Nicole’s tone was half scolding and half amused. Her head shook as a very soft smirk perked at the corners of her mouth. “Why did you incite a riot?”

“Didn’t mean to” Wynonna admitted with a shrug as her hand moved off of Nicole’s and slowly down her arm. She bit her lip as she focused on the face of the woman she had been crying over not too long ago and let out a heavy sigh. “I was upset and someone said the wrong thing so I punched him.”

“Who?” Nicole could see the way Wynonna was looking at her. Even with the swollen eye and bruised face she could see how much the woman cared for her. She could also see the sadness in her eyes and that made her own stomach clench into a knot.

“The bartender” Wynonna shrugged as if that should have been obvious. It was not the first time he had said something that did not sit well with her.

“I’m guessing we can never go back there?” Nicole rolled her eyes but let out a soft laugh. She wasn’t upset at atll.

“Well, apparently, we still have a tab there so we might want to pay that off if we don’t want his angry mob knocking down the door with pitchforks” Wynonna’s lips curled into a crooked smile again as her hand reached up to gently brush some of Nicole’s messy bedhead back behind her ear. She took a moment to soak in the woman’s simple beauty before another sigh escaped her lips and her tone got more serious “I thought you’d ghosted me.”

“I’m sorry” Nicole frowned and shifted now so she was at Wynonna’s side. “Let’s get you up on the bed.”

Wynonna didn’t argue. She took the help from Nicole and within just a few seconds she was on her feet and shifting to sit on the edge of the bed. She watched as the woman knelt in front of her again and her lips curled into a frown “I thought you ran off with…”

Nicole just shook her head as she reached out to work the leather jacket off of Wynonna’s shoulders. “I just needed some time alone to think, that’s all.” As she removed the jacket she noticed that the entire front of Wynonna’s tshirt was soaked through and covered in dirt. She perked an eyebrow in questioning.

“Oh, that” Wynonna reached down and pulled the bottom of her shirt out so she could look at the wet spot. She bit her lip and just gave her head a shake, wincing slightly at the movement, before looking back up at Nicole “I might have ended up in the snow outside the bar.”

“You must be freezing. Let’s get you out of this and into something warm” Nicole sighed and reached for the hem of Wynonna’s shirt. She was happy when the woman showed no resistance and lifted her arms so she could remove the garment. Silence fell between the two of them now as Nicole worked carefully and methodically to undress Wynonna. Once she had her down to her bra and panties she stood upright and smiled almost shyly down to her before turning toward her closet to get some clothes.

Wynonna shivered and it wasn’t because she was sitting nearly naked on the bed. The tenderness that Nicole had used to carefully undress her had warmed her entire body. But the shy way she then looked at her chilled her to the bone. Wynonna wasn’t really sure what was going on or where they stood. She couldn’t get a read on Nicole which was weird because they had grown so close over the past year that it was effortless to tell what the other was thinking. It was unnerving that they could lose that closeness in just two days.

“Here” Nicole handed over something for Wynonna to change into before motioning behind her. “I am going to go get an ice pack for your eye while you get dressed.”

Wynonna didn’t argue. She was too shocked to really say anything so she just nodded. She blinked a few times in an attempt to adjust to the light once Nicole moved out of the room. The soft glow from the lamp was giving her a headache. Plus, Nicole was acting weird. What did it mean? Was it really over? Part of Wynonna had been clinging to the hope that it wasn’t but now it seemed like that might just be the case.

She shook the thought off and looked at the clothes that Nicole had given her. She shrugged and reached behind herself to pop off her bra, tossing it aside, before she worked the shirt over her head. She then stood, which caused her to feel immediately dizzy. She stumbled a step until she could catch herself against the wall. She closed her eyes and drew in a sharp breath. She was starting to think she had landed pretty hard on her head. She shook the feeling away before focusing on slipping on the sweatpants she had been given.

Once she was dressed, she moved to look at herself in the full length mirror that Nicole used to make sure her police uniform looked pressed and professional. Wynonna used to make fun of her for preening herself for so long before going to work. She smiled at the memory as her hand slid over the front of the shirt. It was an old college tshirt. This made her heart flutter. She knew how proud Nicole was of her college education.

“It looks good on you” Nicole had come into the room as Wynonna was checking herself out in the mirror and couldn’t help but to watch her for a few moments with a smile on her face.

“Shit” Wynonna whirled around and put a hand to her heart. She scowled the best she could with one eye and shook her head “You shouldn’t sneak up on someone who has a head injury.”

“I’m sorry” Nicole’s smile faded and was replaced with worry as she came completely into the room now. “Do you think you should go to the hospital?”

“I am sure it’s fine” Wynonna dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand before she moved toward the bed. She felt her heart jump around her chest as Nicole approached her with the ice pack in hand. She tried to push the feeling away as she sat and reached for the ice that was being offered to her.

“If you have a concussion you really should be checked out” Nicole frowned and sat next to the woman on the bed. She eyed her very carefully, almost like she was trying to see if Wynonna really did have a concussion, before she let out a sigh. “You know I’m going to be worried all night now.”

“Welcome to my world” Wynonna mumbled under her breath as she lifted the ice pack to her eye. She immediately hissed out in pain and closed her eyes completely. Her cheek gave a throb but she did not pull the ice away. She knew it would help. If only she could use an ice pack for the raging headache she had. Or her aching heart.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Nicole’s brows curled together in a deep frown.

“You disappeared, Nicole” Wynonna huffed but didn’t open her eyes. The part of her face not covered with ice definitely showed her displeasure at the woman, though. “I was so fucking worried for two whole days.”

“I’m fine” Nicole motioned to herself even though Wynonna still had her eyes closed. “What did you think I was going to do? Punch someone who pissed me off and start a bar fight?”

Wynonna’s good eye came open and she set Nicole with a scowl to show she didn’t like being mocked very much. She then shook it off and her face softened. She dropped her eye to her knee and her head shook slightly “Are you really going to sit beside me and act completely clueless as to what in the world I could have been worried about, Nicole? You are far too smart to pull that off.”

Nicole let out a defeated sounding sigh as her hand reached out to settle it against Wynonna’s leg. She stared at where her hand sat for a few moments before she drew in a deep breath and shook her head “It wasn’t fair of me to just disappear like that. I know.”

“None of this is fair, Nicole” Wynonna shifted to face the woman a little better because it was hard looking around the ice pack she had held to the right side of her face. “But leaving me completely in the dark was such a dick move. You could have at least texted me the poop emoji so I knew you weren’t shutting me out completely.”

Nicole rolled her eyes at the attempted joke from Wynonna. She knew she deflected with humor whenever the feelings got too heavy and this was a literal ton of emotions weighing on them. “I was selfish. But, also…” She sighed and threw her hand out to the side in a slight shrugging motion “....Everyone else in my life has been incredibly selfish at one point or another so I thought, Hell, why not?”

“I get that” Wynonna nodded and released a bit of her anger through a sigh. She totally got the need to disappear, regardless of anyone’s needs, just to figure your own shit out. Hell, it was why they were in this damn situation in the first place. Waverly had been completely selfish. She shook the thought of her sister off and focused her good eye more firmly on Nicole “Did it help?”

Nicole just shrugged slightly and dropped her eyes to where her hand was still resting against Wynonna’s leg. She watched her fingertips tap a few times against the fabric of her favorite sweats as she tried to put into words exactly what it was she wanted to say. She had been through so much so quickly over the past few days and she felt like there was now a decision looming over her head. The last thing she wanted to do was rush through making that decision because she knew that no matter what conclusion she came to her entire life would change. She was getting really sick of life altering events. She wished things could just settle down for a bit.

Wynonna’s heart was racing so hard against her chest she felt her ribs starting to ache while she waited for Nicole’s answer. She could see she was obviously mulling over the answer and, for some reason, this made Wynonna regret asking. Maybe she should have just let them stay in slightly awkward tension-filled limbo for a few moments. But she had been through Hell and back the last two days and she was ready to get it over with. She needed to know how to proceed. The not knowing was more torture than she felt she could endure.

Her head was pounding as hard as her heart. This caused her to close her good eye. Then she felt dizzy. She drew in a deep breath, trying to push it all away, trying to focus on what was happening in the moment. Maybe she was overwhelmed by everything and it was finally catching up to her. She wasn’t sure. All she knew was she felt sick. Then she swayed where she sat and felt like she might pass out.

“Shit, Wynonna” Nicole moved her hand up to quickly grab onto Wynonna’s arm to keep her from falling backwards. Her brows curled together in deep concern and her head gave a shake “That’s it. I am taking you to the hospital.”

“I’m fine” Wynonna shook her head in denial but that made her feel dizzy again. She felt nauseous. She opened her eye and winced at the brightness in the room. She could see the look of concern on Nicole’s face and, damn it, her resolve faded. “You’re being overdramatic but if it will make you happy I will go.”

“Nothing would make me happier right now” Nicole breathed out in relief that Wynonna wasn’t going to fight her any longer. She quickly got to her feet and started to gather shoes and coats for the both of them. Nothing else really mattered at the moment. She was focused on Wynonna’s well-being and making sure she hadn’t severely injured herself. Everything else could be worked out later.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Wynonna sat up in her hospital bed feeling rather annoyed. She hated being doted on. She hated nosy nurses asking questions about her past even though they all knew who she was. She really hated that Nicole had taken her to the hospital as if she actually cared about her. That wasn’t exactly fair. She knew deep down Nicole did care but she was also still so hurt about everything so she wanted to hold onto her anger. It was the only thing keeping her from slipping completely into inescapable depression.

It turned out that she did, indeed, have a concussion. Now she was stuck in the hospital overnight for observation. She snorted out in displeasure at the thought. What in the world did they need to observe? She had a headache and she was exhausted. Did they really want to waste their time watching her angrily sulk in her bed?

At least they had helped with her bruised eye and cheek. They had given her something to ease the pain and stitched the cut under her eye. It was nice not to have her face throbbing in time with her head. Everything had seemed to settle down a bit in the pain department and yet she still felt her heart aching. Why wasn’t there a cure for this already?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at her door. Her heart jumped into her throat as her eyes shifted to the door. For some reason she was suddenly nervous to see Nicole. She hoped it was Nicole, at least. If it was another nurse she might not be able to be polite.

She shook the thought from her head and cleared her throat before calling out “Come in!”

Waverly peeked her head into the room before she pushed the door open wide enough to slip inside. She closed the door behind her then leaned back against it. She pulled her lip between her teeth, chewing it nervously, before she finally pushed off the door and moved toward her sister’s bed.

Wynonna blinked in surprise when Waverly came into view. She eyed her up and down curiously then spoke softly “What are you doing here?”

“Nicole called me” Waverly frowned at the questioning as if her being there for her sister in the hospital was an odd thing to imagine. “Are you alright?”

“I am so sick of people treating me like glass. Everything we’ve been through and suddenly a little bump on the head is too much for me?” Wynonna rolled her eyes with a huff.

“You’re upset, I get it, but you really need to stop lashing out at people” Waverly held her hand up in an effort to try and calm her sister’s anger. “We all care about you.”

“Well you have a funny way of showing it” Wynonna grumbled and folded her arms across her chest.

Waverly just shook her head in disappointment before moving to sit on the side of her sister’s bed. She let out a heavy sigh and fixed a caring gaze on her “Wynonna, I know you’re upset that I left and you’re dealing with it the only way you know how but I really-”

“What do you know about what I’m dealing with?” Wynonna growled and shifted her leg away from where her sister sat.

Waverly let out a sad sounding sigh and shook her head as she looked away from Wynonna. She would not sit here and be her punching bag. She stood up, folded her arms over her chest, and looked at her sister with a frown “I guess it’s kind of comforting that some things never change.”

“Everything has changed!” Wynonna blurted out angrily before she could stop herself. The loudness of her own words caused her head to throb. She winced and laid her hand over the spot on her head as she hissed “Fuck.”

Waverly’s heart leapt into her throat and she moved quickly to comfort her sister “Wynonna, please try and stay calm.”

“Everything has changed” Wynonna repeated much softer the second time as her hand dropped and her good eye focused on her sister firmly. She stared at her with a mix of anger, disappointment, and total sympathy for what her sister had unknowingly walked into. She let out a heavy sigh and closed her eyes “That’s the problem, Waverly. Everything has changed since you left and now that you’re back I’m afraid things will go back to the way they were.”

“Is that such a bad thing?” Waverly breathed the question out as she gently sat back onto the bed. Her hand reached out and came to rest against her sister’s leg.

“Yes” Wynonna answered firmly. She held her gaze sternly on her sister for a few moments before she let out a defeated sounding sigh and dropped her eyes “And no. I don’t fucking know, Waverly. Everything is so fucked up now and I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Waverly’s brows knitted together in a confused frown. She stared at her sister trying to figure out what she meant for a few moments before she finally gave in with a sigh “What’s so messed up? I thought you’d be happy I was back.”

“I am happy you’re back” Wynonna grumbled as she placed her hand gently atop her sister’s.

“Then what’s so messed up?” Waverly shrugged because she just didn’t understand what her sister was so upset about.

“Nicole” Wynonna huffed then motioned with her free hand to her sister. “And you.”

“Why are you so concerned about us?” Waverly’s confusion was only growing. “I know you were there for her when I left but what happens now that I’m back is really none of your business.”

Wynonna felt her heart constrict so tightly in her chest she felt like she might pass out. She closed her good eye and let out a long breath. Her hand trembled under her sister’s touch so she pulled it away and used it to press lightly into the side of her head “I’m starting to get a headache. The doctor says I should sleep as much as I can while I’m in here so maybe I should actually listen to him.”

Waverly couldn’t shake the feeling that her sister was avoiding talking to her about something but she wouldn’t push any more at the moment. She knew that Wynonna would definitely needed her rest to recover from the concussion so she didn’t argue. She just stood from the bed with a little nod “I’ll be here if you need me.”

Wynonna nodded but didn’t open her eyes. She pressed her fingertips into her left temple and drew in a deep breath to try and calm the pounding in her skull. Maybe she would ask the nurse for more pain medicine or something.

Waverly sighed as she leaned over her sister in the bed to press a kiss to her forehead. She brushed some hair back off her face before straightening up. “I love you, Wynonna.” She sounded sad as she spoke the words but it did not make them any less true. As she turned to leave she wondered if she had made a mistake by coming home. She could have never anticipated her return would have caused so much turmoil. She was starting to feel like maybe she didn’t belong in Purgatory any longer.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Wynonna was awakened a few times throughout the night by nurses coming to check on her. They’d ask her a few questions to test her memory, take her vitals, ease her pain, and then they’d be gone again. Each time they left Wynonna would fall quickly back to sleep. Her mind was foggy but she was at least remembering her name and such so they were confident she would be alright to leave in the morning.

As morning broke and Wynonna came to she felt a little better. Less nauseated, at least. Her headache had subsided but she was sure that was because of the pain medication they had given her. Either way she was grateful. As she blinked her eyes a few times and felt her body start to wake she noticed her left hand was being gripped lightly by someone. She turned her head slightly to see who was beside her. She felt her heart flutter into her throat as she focused on her guest.

“Hey” Nicole gave her a crooked smile and squeezed her hand gently. She looked exhausted. It was easy to see that she had not slept the night before.

“Hey yourself” Wynonna’s voice was groggy with sleep when she spoke. She let out a soft sigh as she rested her head to the side so she could see Nicole effortlessly with her good eye. “You look like shit.”

“You’re such a charmer” Nicole chuckled lowly and rolled her eyes at the comment. She wasn’t upset. She knew that was Wynonna’s way of saying she was glad to see her. “You don’t look all that glowing yourself.”

“I got in a bar fight. What’s your excuse?” Wynonna smirked in amusement at the banter. It was comforting. It was one of her favorite things about her relationship, friendship, whatever, with Nicole.

“Been here all night worried out of my mind about an idiot who got in a bar fight” Nicole’s tone was less playful now. She shook her head as a sigh left her lips “You scared the shit out of me.”

“I told you I was fine” Wynonna lifted her right shoulder in a shrug. “The only difference between here and your place is that they are legally obligated to watch over me now.”

“You could have had a serious head injury” Nicole was frowning now. “Why aren’t you taking this more seriously?”

“Why do you care so much?” Wynonna hissed the words out before she could stop herself.

“Are you kidding me with this right now?” Nicole’s tone held just as much bite as Wynonna’s had. “You’re a fucking idiot if you don’t know why I care so much.”

Wynonna rolled her good eye and shook her head. She drew in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh as her gaze settled sternly on Nicole “You left me. You just up and left me and didn’t even call me. Are you really that confused as to why I’m so pissed at you? That’s not something you do to someone you still care about!”

“I told you I needed time to think” Nicole growled and slid her hand out from under Wynonna’s. “I know you took a blow to the head and all but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand what I’m saying. I’m sorry you were worried, I get it, but if you think that meant I didn’t care about you then you really don’t know me at all.”

“Maybe I don’t?” Wynonna threw her hands up in frustration. “Because I just spent the last two days wondering what you were doing, what you were thinking, and how you were feeling. I agonzied trying to guess what was going on in your mind.” She let out a heavy sigh as her face took on a clueless sort of look “I couldn’t figure it out which leads me to believe that I couldn’t possibly know you as well as I think.”

“You’re an idiot” Nicole let out a heavy sigh and moved to sit on the side of the bed. She lifted her hand to Wynonna’s cheek, touching gingerly under her bruised eye, before giving her head a shake. “Just because you can’t possibly guess every last feeling or thought inside my head doesn’t mean you don’t know me, Wynonna. I’ve been having a hard enough time figuring my own thoughts and feelings out. I would never expect you to guess what was going on inside my head.”

“I should be able to have a clue” Wynonna whispered softly.

“The only thing I would expect from you is to understand that this isn’t a situation with an easy answer” Nicole nodded as her hand slid from Wynonna’s cheek to her shoulder. She gave a gentle squeeze as her lips lifted into a slight smile “I think you have a great handle on the concept that this situation sucks a big old bag of dongs and as long as you’re patient while I figure it out that is all I can ask.”

Wynonna couldn’t handle the way Nicole was looking at her. She looked at her with pleading in her eyes. She looked at her as if her very survival hinged on Wynonna’s ability to wait for her. This caused a heavy knot to settle in the pit of Wynonna’s stomach. She blinked the best she could with one good eye and gave a soft nod “I really fucking hate waiting.”

“But I know you will” Nicole whispered lightly as she stood up from the bed now. She leaned over and pressed a firm kiss to the woman’s forehead, letting her lips linger there for a few moments, before she straightened up. She nodded once and let out a sigh “You already did the hardest thing you could do by pushing me to go see her. The waiting will seem like cake in comparison.”

Wynonna’s throat felt suddenly dry. The way that Nicole was speaking offered both a glimpse of hope and a lingering feeling of doom. She spoke as if she were still considering Wynonna as an option which, honestly, surprised Wynonna more than she could say. But, in the same breath, it seemed Nicole was still holding Waverly on the other end of the scale. It was as if she were going back and forth between the two sisters and had no idea which one to choose. That made Wynonna feel immediately sick. This was an even worse nightmare than before.

“I think I’m going to nap again before they discharge me” Wynonna whispered as she settled her head on the pillow and turned away from Nicole. She closed her eyes tightly and drew in a deep breath. She had some serious thinking to do about the situation she found herself in. She needed to clear her head and have an honest conversation with herself. Damn Nicole and her damn insistence that Wynonna start being more honest about things. This was all her fault.

~.~.~.~.~.~.

With a whole list of stuff she was no longer allowed to do until she was cleared by a doctor, Wynonna let out a sigh as she stepped outside. Ah, nice frigid Purgatory air. She pulled in as much of the cold air through her nose that her lungs could hold. She let the cold burn in her lungs for a few seconds before she let it out slowly and watched her warm breath lift into the air like a ghost. That was fitting, she thought, because she felt dead inside.

She didn’t know what she was going to do. The last thing she had ever wanted was to be pulled into a love triangle, again. This time she wasn’t the one in control of the decision, which sucked balls. The worst of it all, though, was that she was competing with her little sister. She hated that. Earps didn’t compete with one another. They had each other’s back, regardless. Okay, so only herself and Waverly had ever had each other’s back but that was the point here. It was Waverly. She would die for her. She wanted her sister to be as unimaginably happy as humanly possible, even if that meant she suffered in silence for the rest of her life.

Could she possibly be selfish enough to forego her sister’s wishes and hold onto Nicole? Her stomach trembled in disgust and horror at the thought. She wasn’t sure what she was more disgusted by, though. The idea that she had entertained the idea of taking away her sister’s happiness or the idea that she would have to give up her own. That conundrum was the most horrifying thing about it all. There was no clear answer here. How was she supposed to choose right or wrong when it didn’t seem as though either of the choices were that clear cut?

She winced and pressed her forefinger into the left side of her head. She had been told not to think too much as a way to help rest her brain. If only the doctor knew that was impossible. Maybe she should have stayed in the hospital longer. She had no idea how she was supposed to avoid thinking, get enough rest to help heal her brain, and figure all this out. Maybe she should just give up. She knew what was going to happen anyway. Why not just stop fighting and move on? Maybe she should just leave. That would be the easy way out, wouldn’t it.

She let out a sigh and moved to sit on a bench to wait for her ride. She had called Waverly because that was easier than seeing Nicole. Plus, she kind of wanted to leave Nicole alone so she could think. Seeing her right now was just too hard. At least, even when things were messed up, seeing Waverly wasn’t as hard. She couldn’t really blame her sister for this. It was her own damn fault for being so careless. She should have stopped all of this after the first time she and Nicole hooked up. That would have been smart. But, as reckless as always, Wynonna didn’t think ahead. She focused on the moment and didn’t really care about the consequences. She definitely needed to start thinking ahead because this situation was a butthole sandwich that she was having a hard time swallowing.

She drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes. She dropped her head and put her face in her hands. This was stupid. This was so fucking miniscule in the grand scheme of things. She needed to just get over it. She should have never put herself in the position to be hurt. She prided herself on avoiding that for most of her life and yet she still managed to eventually fuck it up. She had to step away now before it got worse. She would take the power back. She would make a decision before anyone else could. She was Wynonna Earp, damn it, she was the only one allowed to make painful decisions in her life.

A soft honk interrupted her thoughts. She looked up at the sound and gave a crooked attempt at a smile when she saw Waverly waving at her from her truck. She let out a sigh, pushed off the bench, and moved toward the passenger side door. As she slid into the seat next to her sister she glanced at her then settled back “Thanks for coming.”

“Don’t be silly” Waverly shook her head, reaching over to pat her sister’s leg gently, before letting out a sigh. “You know you don’t even have to ask. We’re family.”

Wynonna gave a slight nod but didn’t look at her sister. She leaned into the door and propped her chin up on her hand. “Can we just go? I already need a nap.”

“How are you feeling?” Waverly pouted at the state of her sister before she turned her eyes toward the road. She put the truck into drive then gently eased it forward.

“I don’t think I’ve felt this shitty in my entire life” Wynonna stated through a grumble. She closed her eyes and settled her head against the window. Watching the town go by as the truck moved just hurt. Everything hurt. At least now she had an excuse to complain about her pain.

Waverly let out a heavy sigh and reached over to lay her hand on Wynonna’s leg again. She gave a soft, comforting rub and nodded “Well I am going to get you home and make sure to take extra good care of you.”

“Please don’t” Wynonna mumbled as she lifted her head off the window. The vibrations were hurting her. She looked over at Waverly and shook her head “I know you’re worried about me but you don’t have to dote on me. I have survived worse than this.”

“You suffered a head injury, Wynonna. This isn’t something you can just take a few aspirin for and move on!” Waverly huffed angrily and shook her head “I am not going to let you bully me out of taking care of you.”

“I think I’m going to leave” Wynonna blurted out in protest.

“Wh-what?” Waverly stammered in surprise. Her eyes fluttered a few times before she glanced at her sister with a scowl on her face “You have got to be shitting me.”

“I shit you not” Wynonna sighed and laid her head back against the seat. She closed her eyes again and shrugged “I just need to get away from all of this, Waves. Besides, you’re back now and you have your own shit to work through. I’ll just be in the way.”

“In the way of what?” Waverly coughed the words out as if they were unbelievable.

Wynonna weakly flicked her hand to the side in a few little aimless circles before she shrugged and dropped her hand “Everything.”

“You mean things with Nicole?” Waverly perked an eyebrow and glanced over again.

Wynonna hummed in confirmation to her sister’s inquiry but didn’t do much more.

“Why are you so concerned about that?” Waverly shook her head and focused on the road again.

Wynonna drew in a deep breath as if she were going to say something but never actually spoke. She just shrugged and turned her head away from her sister even though she wasn’t looking at her. She couldn’t say what she needed to say. If she did it would make it all too real. It would mean she had really gone behind her sister’s back to start dating her ex. It would confirm that she had feelings for said ex. It would shatter her sister’s heart in a million pieces and that was something she simply would not allow. She was determined to protect Waverly, still, and if that meant never confessing the truth to save her from pain than so be it.

Waverly had not missed the way Wynonna seemed to have been on the verge of saying something. This made her raise an eyebrow curiously as she steered the truck onto the land of the Homestead. She didn’t ask right away. She would wait until Wynonna was lying in bed, tucked in nice and snug, unable to flee. For now, she made a mental note to ask her sister what she was hiding later.

No more was said as the sisters climbed from the truck and headed for the door of the Homestead. Wynonna immediately shrugged out of her coat and dropped it near the hook where it usually hung. She looked down at herself and felt her stomach pull into a knot. She was still wearing Nicole’s borrowed clothes. Her heart started to race and she quickly started toward the stairs “I am going to go shower.”

“Make sure the water isn’t too hot!” Waverly called after her sister but was afraid that her warning had fallen on deaf ears. She let out a sigh and turned to hang her coat up. That is when she noticed Wynonna had dropped hers on the floor and she rolled her eyes before bending over to scoop it up.

After hanging the coats she went to work making something for Wynonna to eat once she was done showering. She decided on some soup and bread. It would be nice and easy on her stomach just in case she was still feeling a little queasy. Plus, it was quick and would be done before Wynonna could get out of the shower. Waverly did not want her sister slipping into a nap before she could ask her what was going on. She was worried that whatever it was would slow the healing process. She had read that stress and deep thinking could hinder someone who was recovering from a concussion.

Just as the soup started to simmer she heard a knock at the front door. She perked an eyebrow at that because, well, she was definitely not expecting a visitor. She wasn’t sure if anyone knew that they were home yet so it was curious that someone would be knocking. Turning off the stove, since the soup was hot enough, she moved through the kitchen to answer the front door. As she pulled it open she felt her heart jump into her throat. She drew in a deep breath before a smile came over her lips “Nicole.”

“Hey” Nicole mustered up a crooked smile as a greeting. “I stopped by the hospital to check on Wynonna on my way to work and they said she had been discharged.” She drew a hand out of her heavy winter coat and motioned inside “I was wondering if I could see her for a few minutes.”

“Of course. Come in” Waverly motioned for Nicole to enter as she moved out of the way of the door. She waited for her to walk past before she pushed the door closed tightly then motioned to the kitchen “I was just making her some soup. She’s in the shower right now. Would you like some coffee while you wait?”

“Uh….” Nicole thought about it for a moment before finally nodding and offering Waverly a soft smile. “Yeah, that would be great. Thank you.” She followed the other woman into the kitchen before pulling off her gloves and Purgatory P.D. beanie and setting them gently on the table in front of where she stood.

“Of course” Waverly smiled in return as she moved toward the pot she had prepared earlier that morning. She reached into the cupboard to grab the cup that Nicole always drank out of before she even realized what she was doing. Her eyes fell to the mug and she felt her heart jump into her throat again. Old habits really do die hard. She let out a heavy sigh and focused on pouring some coffee “I’m guessing the coffee at the station still hasn’t gotten any better?”

“Well the machine broke months ago and we don’t have the money in the budget to replace it” Nicole let out an annoyed huff of a laugh as she leaned against the wall near the entryway of the kitchen. She tried not to stare at the back of Waverly. Instead her eyes dropped and she picked at her fingernails nervously.

“You don’t have enough money for a twenty dollar coffee maker?” Waverly couldn’t help the amusement in her voice as she turned to face Nicole. When she saw the woman looking nervously at her own hands, her brows curled into a frown. “You still like two sugars and a little cream?”

“Uh, yeah” Nicole nodded and lifted her eyes. When she saw Waverly staring at her suspiciously she felt her throat tighten. She should know better than to think the woman would be clueless to the fact that something was on her mind. There had once been a time where Waverly had known her better than anyone in the world. She offered a crooked smile, trying to push away any tell on her face that something was wrong, before nodding again “How is Wynonna doing?”

“Stubborn” Waverly shrugged as she turned back to the counter to add to Nicole’s coffee. “I’m worried about her. I think something is going on, more than the concussion I mean, but she’s refusing to tell me what it is.”

Nicole’s stomach knotted up with guilt at Waverly’s suspicions. She was right. She hated that the one person they were trying to hide it from was the one person that knew them both far too well. She hated all of this. She shook the thought off when Waverly moved toward her and offered out the mug of coffee. She took it with a forced smile and immediately pulled it to her lips. Maybe if she just stood there and drank her coffee she wouldn’t have to address the elephant in the room. She was a terrible liar and if Waverly asked the right question there was no doubt that Nicole would be unable to talk herself around the subject.

Luckily, Waverly didn’t have time to ask anything. She heard the shower turn off above her and that snapped her into action. She moved quickly to pour the soup she had made into a bowl. She set it on a tray with a few pieces of bread before turning and heading for the hallway “You can come if you’d like? Check on her while she eats and before she takes a nap.”

“Oh, I-” Nicole straightened where she stood and looked like a deer in the headlights. She didn’t know what she should do. She wanted to talk to Wynonna but she did not want to do it with Waverly present. She also didn’t want to deny the invite to follow because that would look weird, right? She quickly decided to follow and gave a nod as she moved silently behind Waverly.

Waverly moved over to the bedside table next to Wynonna’s bed and gently set the tray down. She then worked to turn the sheets and blankets down so that her sister could climb in without much effort. She then fluffed a few of the many pillows on the bed and propped them up against the headboard in case Wynonna wanted to sit up. Once she was done she stepped back and looked at her work proudly. She wanted to be sure Wynonna had the best care available while recovering from her concussion.

Nicole stood awkwardly near the doorway. She stepped to the side so that Wynonna could enter without being blocked whenever she decided to come down from the shower. She did her best to keep her eyes on her coffee, both hands holding the mug as she stood there nervously awaiting the arrival of the older Earp sister.

A few moments later a groan was heard as Wynonna entered her bedroom and saw her sister had prepared it for her. “Waverly, seriously, I told you I didn’t want you doting on me. I can take care of-” She stopped as she sat on her bed and noticed Nicole was standing near the door. She stared at her as if she had seen a ghost and gave a slight shake of her head “What are you doing here?”

“I came to check on you” Nicole immediately frowned at the not-to-friendly greeting.

“She’s concerned” Waverly let out a frustrated sigh as she moved around the bed to stand in front of her sister. “We both are” She motioned for Wynonna to lay back as she lifted the sheet and blanket as if to silently urge her to do so. “I know you might not believe it, but we do love you.”

Wynonna almost threw up at the word love. She had to draw in a deep breath to stop the vomit from rising out of her stomach. Nicole didn’t love her, not in the way she wanted her to at least. The thought that she did was so ridiculous it made her want to laugh out loud and then break down into tears. She shook the thought away and shifted on the bed, doing her best to avoid all eye contact with either of the woman in the room.

“You know what? I’m just gonna go” Nicole motioned behind her with a shake of her head.

“Nicole don’t go” Waverly turned away from the bed and reached out to grab ahold of Nicole’s arm gently. “Don’t let her grumpiness scare you off.”

“It’s fine” Nicole once more donned her crooked smile the best she could as her eyes settled past Waverly and onto Wynonna sitting on the bed behind her. “She isn’t in the mood. I can give her all the time she needs.” She emphasized the word time as if reminding Wynonna that had been all she had asked for, too.

“Time, time, time” Wynonna mocked Nicole under her breath as she pulled the blanket over her legs. “Time? What has time ever brought us but old age and death.”

“You’re acting like a child” Nicole hissed over Waverly.

“You’re acting like a child” Wynonna mocked Nicole with a high-pitched voice.

“Stop!” Waverly put a hand on Nicole’s shoulder then half-turned to hold her hand up toward her sister in a gesture to get them both to knock it off. Her head swiveled back and forth a few times between the women before she let out a disappointed sounding sigh. “I have no idea what’s going on between you but it needs to be put on hold until Wynonna is better. The stress and the yelling is only going to delay her healing!”

“Fine” Nicole threw her hand not holding the coffee up in defeat and backed away from Waverly. She shifted her eyes from Wynonna to the younger Earp and just shook her head. “Maybe I’ll see you later.”

“You don’t have to go” Waverly whispered softly and stepped out of the room to follow Nicole. She pulled her to the side just outside the doorway of Wynonna’s room and focused on her with concern painted all over her face. “What in the world is going on? I’ve never seen you back down from her like this before.”

“It’s complicated” Nicole waved the concern off with a flick of her wrist to the side. Her face held a frown and it was easy to see in that moment just how exhausted she was by everything that had taken place over the last couple of days.

“You know you can talk to me, right?” Waverly perked an eyebrow at the suggestion in the hope that Nicole would take the offer.

“This isn’t something you can fix, Waverly” Nicole sighed as she handed the mug she was still gripping to the younger woman. “No offense, Waves, but it would be a lot easier if you stayed out of it.”

Waverly looked hurt as she took the mug from Nicole. Her eyes dropped to the liquid that had barely been touched in the mug and gave a slight nod. “I am just trying to help.”

“You can’t” Nicole took a step back from her and shook her head. “So just leave it alone, please. In fact-” She drew in a breath to stop herself from saying something she would probably regret. Instead she shook the thought off again and waved her hand dismissively through the air before turning to walk away “Forget it. I have to go.”

“Nicole, wait-”

“Just-” Nicole spun around and lifted her hands up in a gesture to stop Waverly as she fixed her with a pleading look “-take care of her, alright?”

Waverly once more tried to stop Nicole from leaving but the other woman was too quick. She watched her slip around the corner and out of view. She didn’t move again until she heard the front door of the Homestead close. Then she let out a sigh. She had no idea what was going on but she knew it was bad.

She tried to shake the thought away as she moved back into Wynonna’s bedroom. She was greeted with the sight of her sister sitting up, pouting with her arms folded, looking rather perturbed. This made Waverly roll her eyes. She put a hand on her hip and set her sister with a firm glare “Are either of you going to tell me what the heck is going on between you?”

Wynonna just gave a shake of her head. She stared straight ahead stubbornly for a few moments. She could feel Waverly’s eyes boring into her like fire daggers and that drove her crazy. She eventually sighed and dropped her arms from across her chest before glancing at her sister with a sad look on her face “Honestly, I don’t really know what is happening between us anymore.” That was as honest as she could be without being direct.

“Well can you at least pinpoint what started all this tension?” Waverly perked an eyebrow, glad her sister seemed to be opening up at least a little bit. She moved to sit on the edge of the bed gently and fixed her focus carefully on her sister. “Because, as far as I can tell, you two were thick as thieves when I arrived. In fact, you were so concerned about her that you told me to stay away, remember? So what changed?”

Wynonna gave a nod, tapping her own nose to indicate that Waverly had said something important. She dropped her hand, drew in a deep breath, then gave a quick motion to her sister sitting beside her on the bed “You came back. That is what started it all.”

“Are you-” Waverly was stunned and she stuttered as she tried to speak. She quickly shook her head and cleared her throat to try again “Are you two fighting over me?”

“Not exactly” Wynonna mumbled as her head dropped and her eyes landed in her lap. She drew in a heavy breath because she did not want to tell her sister the truth. She wanted to keep this to herself until the day she died. The more Waverly asked questions, though, the harder it became to avoid the topic altogether. She wasn’t sure she could skirt around the issue much longer. Maybe it was the concussion causing her to want to do something she wouldn’t normally do. Maybe she was just through with suffering because never in her life had she wanted to tell the truth so badly.

She shrugged her shoulders and when her eyes lifted she found a very patient gaze settled on her and that nearly broke her heart. She knew she was about to tear her sister’s world to shreds. But she just couldn’t do this any longer. She had to tell the truth and deal with whatever consequences came from it. She licked her lips and shrugged a single shoulder in defeat “It seems, however, that you and I have been pitted against one another.”

“What do you mean?” Waverly laughed the words out because that sounded absolutely ridiculous to her. Even if they were both super mad at one another they wouldn’t ever truly fight.

“Nicole, babygirl” Wynonna stated plainly. “We are both vying for her affection.”

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Chapter Text

Nicole had hurried out of the Homestead and gotten all the way out to her police cruiser before she realized she had left her gloves and beanie behind. She let out a heavy sigh and turned back toward the house. She was sure she could sneak in and out of the kitchen without being noticed, especially if the sisters were still in Wynonna’s room. With that in mind she rushed around to the kitchen door and slipped inside as quietly as possible.

She had just reached the kitchen table and had her hands on her beanie when she heard a loud outburst from the bedroom. She perked an eyebrow and moved toward the entryway of the kitchen in an attempt to better hear what was happening. If Wynonna was throwing a fit or something she wanted to be nearby in case Waverly needed some help.

“I can’t believe you’d do something like this to me!” Waverly cried out loudly.

Nicole was surprised to hear it was Waverly yelling. Her concern about what was happening immediately grew and she slowly moved out of the kitchen towards the bedroom. Try as she might, she could not stop herself from stepping in to help when the Earp Sisters were in need.

Just as she reached the end of the hallway she was run into firmly by Waverly. The momentum from the smaller girl caught her off guard and she stumbled backwards to catch her balance as a soft ‘oof’ sound left her lips. She blinked once to focus herself and immediately saw that Waverly was crying. “Oh my god, what happened?”

“You!” Waverly wiped at her nose quickly as her teary eyes narrowed into a scowl at the taller woman she had just run into. “I can not believe you! I thought you really loved me!”

“What?” Nicole deflated and looked like a shell of herself standing there about to blow away in the wind. Her heart stopped. All color drained from her. She wasn’t sure what had happened but she had an idea and, yeah, it was totally bad news.

Waverly just shook her head in disgust and moved to hurry past Nicole.

“Waverly, wait-”

“Don’t you dare touch me” Waverly ripped her arm away from Nicole’s attempt to grab ahold of her. She didn’t pause her retreat. She rushed toward the door, grabbed her coat, and hurried outside as tears started to overtake her again.

Nicole was confused. She stared at where Waverly had disappeared for a few seconds before shaking it off and looking back toward the bedroom. She let out a heavy sigh and moved toward Wynonna’s room. She had a feeling she knew what had just happened but she wanted to make sure before she did something stupid herself.

When Wynonna heard footsteps she perked up a bit in bed thinking it was her sister returning to talk about what she had just told her. When she saw Nicole appear in the doorway instead, she deflated a little bit but did not look displeased. She offered an apologetic smile and let out a heavy sigh “How much of that did you hear, you sneaky snoop.”

“Not much” Nicole shook her head and moved over to the bed. She took a seat on the edge and fixed Wynonna with a serious gaze. “But enough to make a pretty good guess at what happened.”

“Here’s the thing” Wynonna’s shoulders slumped like a child who was trying to talk her way out of being in trouble. “I am pretty sure my concussion has upped my inability to stop my mouth from saying whatever the Hell it feels like because I just told her about us.”

“Why?” Nicole let out a defeated sounding sigh and buried her face in her hands.

“Dude, I was dying” Wynonna groaned and slowly leaned back against the pillows that were propped up against her headboard. “I was being eaten alive from the inside out, Nicole. You should know as well as anyone how hard it is to lie to Waverly. Besides…” She shrugged and gestured at Nicole with a little flick of her hand “...she was starting to catch on that something was up between us and the more she asked about it the more my head hurt.”

Nicole dropped her hands from her face and gave a slight nod of her head. She turned so one leg was pulled up onto the mattress and she could face Wynonna a bit better. Her lips pushed out into a frown and she shrugged her shoulders slightly “It was only a matter of time. Besides, you’re totally right, it’s impossible to lie to her. I just wish-” she sighed heavily and rubbed at the back of her head slightly “-I wish I could have had just a little more time to work out what I wanted to say to her.”

Wynonna’s heart clenched in her chest. Her stomach turned. She dropped her eyes to her lap and drew in a breath to try and push away the feeling of disappointment that had just washed over her. Nicole had been working out what to say to Waverly? That must mean she was going to explain that she was sorry she slept with her sister and she hoped Waverly could forgive her and take her back, right?

“How about-” Wynonna started as her eyes lifted to look sadly at Nicole. She was going to push away her own feelings and do what was best for the two people in her life she loved the most. Besides, she was leaving soon anyway so what did it matter? The least she could do was fix things before she left town for good. “-You tell her that you never stopped loving her but sometimes people do stupid things when their heart is broken. That I never meant anything to you and I was a good enough distraction until the real thing came back.” She huffed at the last of her words but tried to smile and shrug casually “Or something like that.”

“Wynonna…” Nicole’s voice was thick with annoyance as her brows curled into a frown. “I am so sick of you acting like you are meaningless to me. I know it’s how you deal with emotions-”

“Nicole, I-”

“Shut up” Nicole bit sharply when Wynonna tried to interrupt her. She focused a firm glare at the woman and shook her head. “I know you push people away when things get scary and having your sister back now is probably terrifying you but you need to stop.” Her head gave a weak shake and her glare faded into sadness on her face. She reached out and took ahold of Wynonna’s hand “If you were meaningless to me do you really think I would have asked for time to sort everything out?”

“Maybe” Wynonna mumbled and tried to roll her eyes but it fell flat. She was having a hard time looking at Nicole because of the intense honesty coming from the woman. She wanted to stay in her defensive shell. She wanted to believe she was on the cusp of being hurt and the only way to prevent that was to push her away. She had resigned herself to the belief that this was about to go sour so she had started working on building up her thick skin so when the inevitable moment came where Nicole told her she wanted Waverly, she would feel as little pain as possible. It was a survival tactic and it had worked for her up to this point in life.

“I swear to god” Nicole grumbled and put a hand to her face. She pressed her thumb and forefingers into her eyelids, drew in a deep breath, and pressed tightly against her eyes. She held her breath for a moment before slowly letting it out and dropping her hand. She focused on Wynonna next to her and shook her head “Can we just be honest for a second, please? Pull your walls back down and just talk to me.”

“What do you want me to say?” Wynonna blinked a few times expectantly as she lifted her eyes to finally look at Nicole. “I think I made myself pretty clear already, Nicole. You know where I stand.”

“Tell me why you’re pushing me away like this” Nicole huffed out in frustration. “I know you’re mad I disappeared for a couple days and I admit that was shitty. I already apologized. So what else is it? What did I do that flipped the switch in you? Because you went from selflessly pushing me towards Waverly to acting like I never cared about you at all. I don’t understand what changed.”

Wynonna pulled her hand out from under Nicole’s and lifted it to press against the side of her head. She was getting a headache again. This damn concussion was making it impossible to get through any sort of real conversation. She had to push through. It seemed like this was a now or never type of moment and since the beans were already spilled and they were now forced to deal with it, she might as well just get it all over with at once.

With a defeated sounding sigh she dropped her hand from her head and once more focused on Nicole. She looked a little hopeless as she gave a weak gesture to nowhere in particular “I guess I figured that since you didn’t come right back to me that night that you had decided you were going to go back to Waverly and I just…” Her throat went dry and she couldn’t continue so she just shook her head in shame at her own thoughts and dropped her eyes to her lap.

“Just what?” Nicole’s voice sounded weak. She knew this wasn’t easy, for anyone, but to hear that Wynonna was really struggling with it hurt her heart.

“It fucking destroyed me, alright?” Wynonna threw up her hands out of frustration. When her eyes once more lifted to look at Nicole they were glossy, as if she were fighting back tears. “I didn’t want to tell you that, though, because the last thing I want is for you to feel like you have any sort of obligation toward me. I would fucking hate it if you stayed because you thought you had to.”

Nicole had to draw in a deep breath to steady the emotions that had washed over her at Wynonna’s honesty. She wasn’t naive to the fact that this entire situation had no clear winners. She wanted to take it all on her shoulders and do whatever she could to avoid hurting someone she loved but it seemed that she had already failed in that. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and looked down at where her hand was resting on the bed. She lifted it and gently placed it on Wynonna’s leg. She blinked away the sting of tears before she slowly looked back up to the woman beside her. “The last thing I wanted was to be put between you and your sister. There is no easy answer here, Wynonna, but there is a solution. I am going to-”

“It’s fine” Wynonna gave a dismissive wave of her hand and looked away from Nicole. She closed her eyes as a tear slipped out and moved down her cheek. She drew in a deep breath to try and steady her voice before she spoke weakly “I’m not going to be in your way much longer.”

“What do you mean?” Nicole coughed out in confusion. “You’re not in my way, Wynonna. You have never been in my way.”

Wynonna cleared her throat and quickly wiped the tear off her cheek before turning to look at Nicole again. She shrugged and tried to smile as if she did not care about what was happening “I’m leaving town for good. It’s just easier that way.”

“How?” Nicole cried out, unable to hold back her emotions any longer. Tears streamed slowly from her eyes as her head shook “How is that easy for anyone? Wynonna, I don’t want you to leave.”

“Fine, it's easier for me” Wynonna huffed as casually as she could. If she hinted that she cared at all she knew Nicole would see that she was lying. None of this was easy but she was going to take the coward’s way out under the guise that it was what she wanted.

“You’re being selfish and stupid” Nicole wiped at her eyes but that did not stop the flow of tears. “This isn’t something that can be fixed by running away, damn it!”

“I have no reason to stay!” Wynonna shouted. She groaned and grabbed her head immediately. This was all too much and if things kept up like this she knew she would never recover from her concussion, or her broken heart.

“Me” Nicole patted fiercely at her chest. “I am a reason to stay, Wynonna. You don’t just get to make this decision for the both of us!”

“I get to make the decision for me” Wynonna growled in defense. No one got to mess up her life but her, damn it. “I decide not to hurt any more than I have to. Seeing you and Waverly together will be too hard so I am going to remove myself from that situation until the day I can handle being around you without it breaking me into a million pieces.”

“I’m not-” Nicole choked on her tears and had to draw in a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself down. She swallowed the thickness in her throat and gave a quick shake of her head. She was so upset at what was unfolding and was very rapidly losing the fight to keep a hold of herself. She cleared her throat as she scooted closer to Wynonna. She looked at her as firmly as possible through her watery eyes “Wynonna, I’m not choosing Waverly.”

“What?” Every ounce of anger, denial, and stubbornness drained from Wynonna. She blinked once in shock. She felt her entire body go hot. She stared, looking dumbfounded and dazed for a few seconds, before she managed to blink a few more times in an attempt to focus. Had she really just heard what she thought she heard or was her concussion playing games with her?

“This isn’t a fucking contest, Wynonna” Nicole sniffled and wiped her hand across her cheeks a few times. She blinked away the last few fresh tears and shook her head “There isn’t a choice here.”

“Why not?” Wynonna coughed out the question as if she couldn’t believe she had just heard it.

“Because, you dummy…” Nicole sighed out heavily as her hand reached to take hold of Wynonna’s face. She held her chin between her thumb and fingers, squeezing her cheeks until her lips puckered together, before she wiggled her chin back and forth a few times gently “...I love you.”

Wynonna’s eyelids fluttered to fight off the immediate surge of tears that had filled eyes. Her heart stopped and her lungs ceased. She was almost certain she was dead because she couldn’t feel anything. Everything else fell away around her. It was as though she were looking at Nicole in a tunnel. She had to be imagining things. Maybe she was slipping into a coma or something because it seemed unreal.

Then, like someone opened a window in an air-tight room, everything rushed around her in a whirlwind and she came back to herself. She drew in a sharp breath and with one last blink the tears she was holding back spilled down her cheeks “What?”

“I want to be with you” Nicole said firmly so there was no room for Wynonna to mistake exactly what she meant. She dropped her hand away from how she had been holding onto the other woman’s chin and let out a strangled sound that was a mix of a laugh and a cry “There is no choice to be made. There never was.”

“But you-” Wynonna choked the words out through her sobs. She shook her head slightly and cleared her throat before she tried again “-You said you were trying to figure out what to say to Waverly?”

“Yeah” Nicole nodded, wiping the back of her hand across her cheek before a smile lifted very slightly at the corner of her lips. “I knew she had all these expectations thinking that she could just come back here and sweep me off my feet. I was trying to figure out how to tell her that it wouldn’t work.”

“I am so fucking confused” Wynonna mumbled through a laugh as her head shook slightly. “But I think you just told me you loved me and weren’t leaving me for my little sister?”

Nicole rolled her eyes and let out a soft laugh. She leaned in and kissed very lightly at Wynonna’s forehead before she lifted her hand to cup at her cheek. She locked her eyes in a sincere gaze as she spoke more gently now “You’re a little slow on the uptake, Earp.”

“Yeah, well, I have a traumatic brain injury” Wynonna wiped away the last of her drying tears and let out a very soft laugh. She turned her face against Nicole’s hand and placed a light kiss to her palm before her eyes lifted and she caught Nicole’s gaze watching her every move. She let out a happy sigh, feeling as though the weight of the world had just melted off her shoulders. She had been so torn up for nothing.

Then something else hit her. Waverly, her sister, whom she loved more than anyone in the entire world, was about to have her heart stomped on. Her relief disappeared and was replaced with a rapidly boiling worry. She frowned and pulled her face away from Nicole’s touch “Waverly…”

“I know” Nicole gave a nod and dropped her hand. She knew exactly what Wynonna meant without her having to elaborate. She was the elephant in the room, so to speak, and they both knew they couldn’t avoid dealing with her. “I am going to go find her and explain everything.”

“Let me go with-”

“Not a chance” Nicole huffed out and stopped Wynonna’s attempt at pulling her blanket off her legs. She tucked the blanket around the woman tightly before she stood from the mattress and shook her head “You have to stay here for so many reasons. Most importantly, you need your rest.” She pointed at Wynonna’s head before putting her hands firmly on her hips. “Plus, she has to hear this from me” She let out a sigh as her hand moved to lay over her heart. “I’d rather she blame me for this than hate you.”

“This isn’t your fault” Wynonna frowned and gave her head a shake. “You shouldn’t take all the blame.”

“She will need to forgive you” Nicole whispered softly and took a step away from the bed now. “She will be mad for awhile but she will eventually want to forgive you and if she believes this was all my fault she will allow herself to do so. I just…” She shook her head as she reached the doorway of the bedroom. She stared at Wynonna for a moment before giving her a sad smile “...I need you two to still be sisters, okay? This is how it has to be.”

“Nicole, wait” Wynonna tried to get up to stop the woman but it was useless. Before she could even sit up straight, Nicole was gone. She let out a heavy sigh and stared in disbelief for a few moments. When she realized that Nicole was indeed gone, she gave her head a shake and fell back against the pillows she had been leaning against. She threw her hands up in defeated confusion and shook her head “What the Hell just happened?”

She closed her eyes and let her head fall back completely against the pillows. She drew in a deep breath, held it for a few heartbeats, then slowly let it out. She hated that she was stuck in bed but as her head throbbed she knew it was the right thing at the moment. She just hoped Nicole was right. Hopefully, Waverly could forgive her one day. With any luck that day would come sooner rather than later.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

Nicole slowly opened the door to the old greenhouse and peeked inside. She listened for a moment and when she didn’t hear anything she pushed the door open completely. She stepped inside carefully and looked around. That is when she spotted Waverly in the corner and she felt a little relief rush through her. She pushed the door closed behind her and slowly started toward where Waverly sat on the picnic table in the corner.

“Go away” Waverly grumbled through a sniffle as she wiped at her eyes.

“I know you’re pissed but you also need to hear me out” Nicole stood a few feet away now with her hands on her hips staring at the back of the other woman.

Waverly perked an eyebrow and turned to look over her shoulder. She had honestly expected her sister to come after her. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or more pissed that it was Nicole. She shook the thought off and turned back around “How did you find me?”

“I’m a cop” Nicole mumbled with a soft laugh. When she did not get an amused response from Waverly, she let out a sigh and took a few more steps toward the table. She was close enough now to place a hand on her shoulder and she spoke softly “There was a time when I thought I knew you better than anyone else in the world and it seems that some of that knowledge is still hanging around.”

“Don’t touch me” Waverly pulled her shoulder out from under Nicole’s touch.

Nicole let out a frustrated sigh and dropped her hand. She folded her arms across her chest and spoke firmly, “I get that you’re pissed. Honestly, I don’t blame you. But you’re also going to sit there and listen to what I have to say whether you want to or not.”

“Why?” Waverly turned again and scowled at Nicole. “What in the world could you possibly have to say that is going to make me feel better?”

“Nothing” Nicole shook her head and unfolded her arms. She looked at Waverly tenderly, letting her see that she did still care about her. “I am not trying to make you feel better because, honestly, there isn’t really anything about this situation that is good for you. That doesn’t mean what I have to say isn’t valid.”

“Your pep talks have lost their convincing umph” Waverly rolled her eyes in annoyance.

“You broke my heart” Nicole stated firmly as her hand moved to cover her heart in her chest. “You shattered my entire world, Waverly. Do you understand what you did to me?”

“I know” Waverly frowned and dropped her eyes away. She hated seeing Nicole hurt. That hadn’t changed. She still very much cared for her and never wanted to see her hurting.

“Do you? Do you actually know?” Nicole shook her head and moved to sit down now. She sat on the bench of the picnic table which brought her below Waverly, who was sitting on top of the table. She waited for her to look back up and when she did, Nicole nodded “I was done, Waverly. I was so done with dating and searching for someone to share my life with. You were that person. I had completely moved on from thinking about who was next and started to plan what was coming next” She sighed and motioned to Waverly “With you. I was onto the next phase of my life. I thought having to wonder about the future was a part of my life that was completely over with. But then-” She swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat and looked away.

Waverly frowned and looked away again. She knew she had hurt Nicole and, honestly, she couldn’t sit there and justify it. Facing it now, though, was harder than she thought it would be.

“When you left you not only took away your love but you destroyed my everything. You broke my heart, you betrayed my trust, and you obliterated my future.” Nicole lifted her eyes back to Waverly and even if the woman wouldn’t look at her she held a firm stare at her to help herself stay strong. “I had to start all over again. I had to climb out of the rubble of my past life, brush myself off, and start from scratch. I had to decide where I wanted my life to go. I had to make a new plan. I had to repaint the future I had in my mind because what I had pictured was no longer an option.”

“Then why didn’t you just leave? Give yourself a clean slate?” Waverly sniffled through a fresh batch of tears now.

“Because I had the job I’ve always wanted” Nicole shook her head at the idea that she should just leave Purgatory. “I like it here. It feels like I’ve always been meant to be here. Besides, do you think it’s really fair having to pack up and leave just because you blew up my entire world?” She huffed in annoyance at that “You were gone. Why should I have to leave, too?”

“So you decided to fuck my sister as revenge?” Waverly tried to sound angry but it held more pain than anything.

“No” Nicole shook her head firmly. She would not let Waverly guilt trip her into apologizing for something she was not sorry for. “Wynonna was the only thing you left behind that wasn't shattered and, honestly, being around her was the last thing I wanted. She reminded me of you and I hated that. There were a few weeks right after you left where I hated her, too.”

Waverly just shrugged at that because it did nothing to explain how they ended up together.

“But, because she loves you more than anything in the world, she stuck around. Because she loves you, she took care of me. Because she loves you..” Nicole smiled very slightly at just how deeply Wynonna loved her little sister “...she made sure I got back up and did everything I could to mend my heart so it would be as close to whole as possible for when you returned.”

Waverly swallowed the lump of emotion that had swelled into her throat at Nicole’s words. She had never doubted that her sister loved her. Through her own anger at the fact that she had slept with Nicole she had forgotten just how hard this must be for her sister.

“She didn’t have to take care of me but she did. It was that selfless love that reminded me that I, too, could move on and love again.” Nicole let out a soft sigh because she knew without a doubt that Wynonna had saved her. If she had been left by herself she would have pined for Waverly, ached for Waverly, and taken her back without an apology. Nothing would have been fixed and their relationship would eventually fail because she wouldn’t be able to trust her.

“You love her?” Waverly’s voice trembled and cracked through the tears she was choking on when she spoke.

Nicole nodded just once as a smile crept over her lips “I do.”

“So that’s it?” Waverly huffed out and lifted her shoulders in a defeated shrug. “You’re just going to replace me with my sister?”

“No” Nicole’s smile faded into a frown. “This has nothing to do with you, Waverly, don’t you get that? This has everything to do with the fact that there was one person who was with me through the darkest part of my life and that is the person who taught me it was alright to love again.”

“But she’s my sister!” Waverly threw her hands up in frustration.

“So? It could just as easily have been anyone else you know in this town. If it was, honestly, I think you’d be glad I found someone. You’re obsessed with the fact that it’s her.”

“Of course I am” Waverly sighed out as her hand wiped across her nose. “If it was anyone else I wouldn’t have to see you all the time. I could move on with my life, let you be happy, and only be polite to you when we run into each other at the store. But Wynonna?” She threw her hand out to gesture to wherever her sister currently was “She is my only family, Nicole. I am going to have to see you all the time. Do you know how hard that will be?”

“No harder than having to deal with the fact that you just up and left me” Nicole stated coldly.

“That’s not fair. You said you understood!”

“I do” Nicole nodded just once. “But you didn't think I would. You didn't even try to talk to me about it.” She huffed out in frustration as her head shook “I would have been sad, sure, but I would have let you go because I loved you. If you would have just communicated your needs to me I would have done anything in the world to fulfill those, even if that meant letting you go.”

“Nicole, I-”

“But you didn’t think about that, did you?” Anger and hurt were starting to bubble forward in Nicole “You didn’t consider my needs. You didn’t even take a second to think about how I would react, right? No you just assumed I would make it difficult for you. You probably thought I’d beg you to stay and that’s why you decided it was easier on all of us for you to just disappear without warning.”

“Please” Waverly’s voice was weak. A new set of tears were rolling down her cheeks “Nicole, I never wanted to hurt you like that.”

“But you did, Waverly. You broke my trust, you selfishly took my feelings for granted, and you thought only of yourself. You took the coward’s way out and now you have to deal with the consequences” Nicole stood up from the table now. She felt herself starting to seethe with anger. She had imagined the day Waverly came back more times than she could count but she had never anticipated this reaction. She thought she’d be happy to see her but now she knew just how far in the past she had left Waverly.

“Don’t you even want to hear my side of the story?” Waverly huffed out, sounding a little offended that Nicole didn’t seem to care about her feelings.

“No. Why would I? You didn’t care about my side of things when you left.” Nicole waved her hand dismissively to the side “I've built a new life that doesn’t involve you. You have no right to know how I feel anymore and I am not obligated to consider you, either.”

“Nicole, please, just calm down” Waverly got up from the table as well.

“No” Nicole lifted her hand to stop any approach Waverly might try to make. “I’m not ready for you to be in my life again, okay? Maybe one day we can be friends but that isn’t the case right now.”

“You can’t avoid me. You’re dating my sister!”

“That is my choice” Nicole pounded her fingers against her own chest feverishly. “My decision, Waverly. You have no say. I don’t care about your opinion. Don’t you get it?” She spat the words through an annoyed huff “This has nothing to do with you.”

Waverly threw her hands up in frustration and stared at Nicole in complete disbelief “You’re just going to steal my sister and leave me with nothing?”

“No” Nicole snorted and took a step away from Waverly. “Any relationship you and Wynonna have is completely up to you two. In fact, I hope the two of you remain close. But that will have no bearing on my relationship with her.”

“That’s it then?” Waverly shook her head and folded her arms across her chest. “You’re not going to consider forgiving me?”

“Maybe one day” Nicole nodded and took another step back. “But not right now. I’m finally happy again and I feel like you being back in my life will destroy that. So I am going to go on living my new life and if the day comes that you fit into it again then great. But I am not going to bend the mold to make room for you.” She gave a shake of her head in finality “Until then, I guess we just deal with one another.”

“Nicole, wait-” Waverly tried to stop her but it didn’t work. Nicole turned and rushed from the greenhouse without another word. She stared at the door for a few long moments once Nicole disappeared through it. When she realized she wasn’t coming back, she let out a heavy sigh and collapsed back onto the bench of the picnic table. She buried her face in her hands and let herself be consumed by tears. She knew this was all her fault but she could have never guessed it would be this painful to come home. Maybe this wasn’t her home any longer.

~.~.~.~.~.

Three years later…

“Will you stop pacing, please?” Nicole rolled her eyes and motioned to the chair next to her at the kitchen table. “Sit down. You’re making me nervous.”

“I never used to pace” Wynonna stopped on the spot and turned to look at Nicole. She let out a heavy sigh as her eyes scanned the woman sitting at the table. There were a lot of things she never used to do before she met Nicole. Now, well, she was an entirely different person. “This is all your fault, you know?”

“The pacing?” Nicole perked an eyebrow and laughed slightly because it sounded ridiculous. “I guess if that is your only complaint, I’ll take it.”

“This isn’t funny” Wynonna huffed as she moved over to the chair now. She sat next to Nicole, facing her with a frown on her lips, and gave her head a shake. “Why are you being so casual about this? I’m usually the one who pretends it’s no big deal, remember?”

“Hey” Nicole reached out and gently placed her hand against Wynonna’s cheek. She locked eyes with her gently, nodding just once, as her thumb ran lightly along the woman’s jawline. “I do care about this. You know how much I care about this but…” She shrugged and gently pulled back from Wynonna, letting her hand fall from her face “...I think we both know it’s time to talk about it.”

“Nicole, I-” Wynonna shook her head and looked away because she just couldn’t handle it. The past year with Nicole had been tough. Things had gotten a little better once Waverly decided to leave again but that didn’t last long. Over the past few months things had started to shift and Wynonna had been in complete denial that anything was wrong because she did not want to fail. She did not want to give up. She had fought so hard just to accept that it was alright to be with Nicole and the last thing she wanted to do was give in and admit that maybe she had been wrong about that.

Nicole could see Wynonna was struggling to let go. It was one thing that was both admirable and annoying about the woman. She was stubborn and held onto her beliefs far longer than she should. She would hold a dead plant rotting out of it's pot and tell you that there’s still a chance it could survive. It was a good quality to have, the optimism that it wasn’t over yet, but there was a time when you simply had to accept that things had run its course. This was one of those times.

“Listen, Wynonna. This doesn’t mean we’ve failed, okay? This doesn’t mean we were wrong. What this means is that we gave it our all, we fought like Hell for this and when we won it we did everything we could to make sure we enjoyed the spoils of war.” She offered a very gentle, loving smile to the woman she sat next to as her hand gently came to rest on her knee. “There is nothing wrong with calling it a day after giving it our all.”

Wynonna closed her eyes and pressed the tips of her fingers into her eyelids. She drew in a deep breath to calm herself down. She was hurting again. She hadn’t hurt for a long time but it had slowly started to creep in over the past few months and now, here she was, facing it head on instead of running away. Stupid Nicole had taught her how to cope in so many healthy ways.

She shook the thought off and dropped her hand from her eyes. She blinked a few times to bring focus back to her as she fixed her gaze on Nicole. Her lips curled into a crooked frown and she shrugged in defeat “I love you, Nicole. Like, it’s fucking weird for me to be able to say that still but I know that will never change. It just feels so unfair that it’s not enough.”

“It’s more than enough” Nicole’s smile grew ever so slightly as her hand once more lifted to touch at Wynonna’s cheek. Her fingers brushed some hair behind the woman’s ear before she let out a happy sounding sigh “The progress you’ve made in our time together makes all of it worth it. Besides…” She shrugged and dropped her hand away before nodding again “...you and I both know we were never meant to last forever. I’m surprised we made it for as long as we did!”

“Yeah no shit” Wynonna grumbled. She pouted slightly as her eyes focused on Nicole. She was searching for any sign that the girl might be saying what she thought Wynonna wanted to hear just so she didn’t feel bad about this. Finally, she sighed and reached out for Nicole’s hand “I just don’t want you to go through what you did when Waverly left, you know? God, that is like my worst nightmare.”

“This is totally different” Nicole shook the notion off quickly and gave Wynonna’s hand a tight squeeze. “We’ve talked about your needs, my needs, and what we both wanted. We’ve been working toward this moment for a couple weeks now. None of this is out of the blue, Wynonna. None of this is going to leave me feeling destroyed because we came to this decision together.”

“Are you sure?” Wynonna perked an eyebrow, again looking Nicole over as if she were looking for anything that would indicate the woman was placating her.

“That right there” Nicole pointed at Wynonna with a bright smile moving over her lips again “That is the difference. You are genuinely concerned about my feelings. That is how I know I will be alright.”

Wynonna gave a nod as a heavy sigh left her lips. She stared at the beautiful, amazing, patient woman who she had shared so many ups and downs with over the past few years and a soft smile came over her lips. She would never be able to thank Nicole for everything she had done for her. “Are you sure this isn’t just a hiccup?”

Nicole let out a soft laugh and shook her head as she let go of Wynonna’s hand “You remember what you said when Waverly came back to town the first time?” She got up from her chair and moved around the table to the cupboards in the kitchen. “You told me you didn’t want me to stay out of obligation.” She reached up into the cupboard and pulled out the bottle of whiskey they kept there. She smiled as she turned around and offered the bottle to Wynonna “This is the same thing. I don’t want you staying here just because you feel you owe it to me.”

Wynonna took the whiskey and immediately uncapped it. She was about to take a drink but paused and fixed Nicole with a smile, “I just don’t want you thinking you scared off another Earp sister.”

“Shut up” Nicole let out a laugh as she moved to sit on the chair closest to her. “Honestly, you stuck around longer than I could have ever guessed you would so this definitely goes in the win column for me.”

Wynonna snorted a laugh out through the mouthful of whiskey she had dumped into her mouth. She shook her head in amusement as she passed the bottle to Nicole and worked to swallow the alcohol. Once her mouth was cleared, she smirked at the other woman “Remember the night you told me you didn’t want the prize that everyone in town had already won?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” Nicole rolled her eyes and took a drink from the bottle. She winced as she swallowed and shook her head, “I was wrong. You are definitely worth winning.”

“Ditto, Haught” Wynonna fixed Nicole with a sincere smile as their eyes met. They shared a look, a brief moment, that said more than their words ever could. This was the right thing to do. When the dust settled on this they would still be best friends and that was the most important takeaway for the both of them.

“HAUGHT! HURRY YOUR ASS UP!” Wynonna yelled up the stairs of the Homestead before turning toward the kitchen.

Nicole shook herself out of the memory she had been lost in. She smiled into the mirror she stood in front of before giving herself one more look over. She nodded in approval before reaching for the small bottle of perfume sitting near her hairbrush. She dabbed a few dots onto her wrist then rubbed them into her neck before turning and heading for the stairs.

Wynonna walked over to the fridge, glancing over her shoulder to the girl sitting there eating “Are you almost done? We gotta jet.”

“Done!” Came the chipper response before the chair slid away from the table and the girl jumped down and ran off.

“Hey, wait, you need your-” Wynonna laughed and gave her head an amused shake as she finished stuffing snacks from the fridge into a bag before kicking the door closed behind her.

“Woah, where’s the fire?” Nicole let out a laugh when she was nearly bulldozed by the fleeing girl. She grabbed onto her shoulders to catch her from stumbling back from the collision and smiled down at her “Got your shoes?”

The little girl grinned up at Nicole before shifting to one foot in order to lift her other to show that she was already wearing her shoes.

“Now, does mommy have her shoes?” Nicole asked and gave the girl a wink before letting her go and motioning to the front door “Go grab her boots for her.”

The little girl ran off toward the door with a gleeful laugh leaving her lips.

Nicole smiled softly before moving into the kitchen. She caught sight of Wynonna standing there looking stressed, recounting in her head the list of things she needed. She let out a sigh as she moved to the fridge “You’re overthinking, Wynonna. It’s gonna be fine.”

“What?” Wynonna looked up and let out an unconvincing laugh as if she wasn't worried at all. “I am just making sure we have enough snacks for the road.”

“Here, mommy” Alice came into the kitchen now and threw Wynonna’s boots at her feet.

Wynonna looked down and noticed that she really had been so distracted that she almost left the house without her boots. She let out a laugh and reached down to ruffle Alice’s hair “What would I do without you?”

“Be a hot mess” Alice gave a mischievous grin that was all too similar to Wynonna’s.

“Who taught you that?” Wynonna gasped out in offense as she sat down to pull on her boots.

“Aunt Nicole says it all the time” Alice shrugged matter-of-factly and pointed at Nicole.

“Rude” Wynonna laughed softly as she glanced at Nicole. She then shook her head and looked back to her daughter “What did I tell you about listening to Haught? She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Ever.”

“Rude” Nicole snorted with a laugh. She shook her head then motioned to Alice “Hey squirt, you got your coloring books?”

Alice nodded proudly.

“Wanna go double check?” Nicole perked an eyebrow and pointed toward where the girl’s backpack was near the front door.

“Fiiiine” Alice sighed out in exaggeration, again sounding a lot like her mother, before she turned and begrudgingly stomped over to her backpack.

“Oh god, I already have a teenager” Wynonna mumbled as she watched her daughter storm off. She shook her head and got back to her feet. She once more looked at the things she had gathered to make sure they had everything they needed before she looked up at Nicole. She gave the woman a soft, crooked smile and perked an eyebrow at her “You gonna be alright?”

“Totally. We had a good talk the other night, actually” Nicole nodded as she moved over to scoop up the bag of snacks Wynonna had packed. “It’s finally to the point where we’re actually friends again and it doesn’t totally suck to be around her.”

“I’m glad to hear it” Wynonna fixed Nicole with another soft smile for just a moment longer before she was interrupted by Alice calling for her. She let out a laugh and motioned to the other room with a shrug “Can you believe she is rushing us now? The nerve.”

“She is 100% your kid” Nicole laughed before motioning for Wynonna to go ahead.

The three girls gathered the last of the things they would need for their road trip before slipping on their coats and finally moving outside. The snacks were packed, Alice was securely fastened in the back seat, and soon they were on their way.

It was funny to think about how far they had all come. After Waverly had returned from her year abroad it had seemed almost impossible for them all to reach this point. Nicole and Waverly avoided each other which made it really hard for Wynonna to maintain a relationship with either of them. Eventually Waverly decided it was too hard to be around the two of them and left Purgatory again. She still had a lot of the world to see and, more importantly, a lot of soul searching to do.

Nicole and Wynonna stayed together for nearly a year more before they figured out that they were better off as friends. They loved one another, and that would never change, but the parts of them that needed healing had been mended and they realized they no longer needed each other as a crutch. In hindsight, they knew they had been using each other to fill in certain holes and once they admitted that to themselves, and each other, they decided to an amicable split.

To make it a bit easier to transition from lovers to friends, Wynonna explained she wanted to go find herself again. They had a long discussion about it and Nicole agreed that Wynonna leaving Purgatory to mend herself on her own was for the best. Neither of them had hurt feelings about it. In fact, that time apart was probably the best thing they could have done for their friendship.

Wynonna was only gone a few months but when she returned she knew for sure what she wanted out of life. She had tracked down Alice and decided it was finally time to bring her home and be a mother to her. When she told Nicole about her plan, she had been completely supportive and even offered to help out in any way possible.

Over the past year and a half, the two of them had been roommates at the Homestead. It was a good system. Wynonna had the support she needed in raising a five year old and Nicole had somewhere that she could truly call home. They functioned well together, surprisingly. It was kind of weird to think that there was a point in time where they regularly saw each other naked. It was as if that had been an entire lifetime ago.

Waverly had gotten a job as a Historical Photographer. It was perfect, actually. She got to travel the world, discover a wide variety of historical places, and capture their beauty for magazines and museums. She was often gone months at a time which was hard because she missed her sister and her niece, but it was best for her. She still was not ready to settle down.

Nicole and Waverly had stayed in touch, mostly at Wynonna’s urging. At first they hardly talked but soon after Wynonna had brought Alice home, Waverly had visited and seeing Nicole at that point had been unavoidable. They had been forced, by Wynonna, to sit down in the same room and talk it out. From that moment on, they decided to work on becoming friends again. They knew that they would be in each other’s lives so long as they both wanted relationships with Wynonna so they had agreed to be peaceful.

They had finally reached the point where it wasn’t painful between them any longer. They could have friendly chats without their past being bought up. They even made plans for Nicole to come out and visit her one day. Nothing was set in stone but the idea was out there and that was a big step. Nicole was relieved that they had finally reached the point where the thought of seeing one another brought excitement and not dread.

That was the thought that currently rebounded around Nicole’s mind as she guided the car down the road. Wynonna, Alice, and herself were currently en route to meet up with Waverly. She had gotten a job a few hours away and invited them all out for a visit. It would be nice to see her again. It would also be nice to have a buffer just in case there was any awkwardness still lingering about. This was the first time they would be seeing each other in person in nearly six months. Even if their phone conversations were finally peaceful there was no guarantee that the same would hold true for their visit.

Wynonna glanced over at Nicole and saw her smiling. She let out a soft laugh and shook her head in amusement.

“What?” Nicole heard Wynonna’s laugh and looked at her curiously for a moment before turning her eyes back to the road.

“You got that look on your face” Wynonna said through a smirk.

“What look?” Nicole rolled her eyes and gave her head a shake. “I don’t have a look.”

“That hopeful little glint of a smile” Wynonna nodded then turned to look into the backseat. She smiled when Alice looked up at her from her coloring book. She gave a little motion with her head toward Nicole “What do you think, kid? You think aunt Nicole has a crush on aunt Waverly?”

Alice grinned widely, looking exactly like Wynonna did whenever she knew she was right and was about to gloat, and gave an excited nod “She put on her special perfume before we left today.”

Wynonna’s jaw dropped and she looked back at Nicole with pure amusement on her face “You little minx!”

Nicole’s cheeks burned brightly. She glanced in the rearview mirror at the little girl behind her and let out a soft laugh “You snitch!”

Wynonna laughed out softly and nudged her friend with her elbow gently “Busted.”

Nicole just rolled her eyes and tried to push down the blush that was still lighting her cheeks. She let out a defeated sigh and glanced at her friend “It’s your fault. You pushed us to talk to each other.”

Wynonna gave a casual shrug because, honestly, she had no shame about that. She settled back in her seat and let out a soft laugh “I just want my two favorite people to be happy, that’s all.”

“How far you’ve come” Nicole laughed gently and reached over to lightly pat her friend on the leg. “I’m proud of you, Wynonna.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” Wynonna swatted Nicole’s hand away playfully. She glanced at Nicole and when their eyes met in that split second they shared a tender smile. Even if the road had been rough, filled with bumps and bruises and totally bad decisions, it eventually led all of them to where they were meant to be and Wynonna would never, ever regret that. She could have never guessed at the time but she now knew without a doubt that the love she shared with Nicole taught her the most important thing in the world: how to love herself.