She can’t breathe. She’s drowning and she can’t breathe. Her lungs constrict as everything she’s ever wanted drifts away like smoke in the wind. She can see the water splashing over the side of the tub as Jeremy hold her love, her heart, underneath the surface. She can vaguely make out Nedley in the background, blurry, as the salty tears fill her eyes. The struggle inside the liquid coffin grows still and Jeremy stands.
Waverly urges her body to move forward, Jeremy’s name falling from her lips, though her voice isn’t recognizable to her own ears. It feels like she is walking through syrup, each step more agonizing than the last. This can’t be it. She can’t be gone. It’s like her body forgot how to function. Panic overpowering the blood in her system. She can see Jeremy in front of her, speaking, something about trusting him. Her eyes drift back toward the tub and she pushes past Jeremy, willing herself to move forward. Falling, her knees collide sharply with the cold ground, but she barely feels a thing. Her heart thunders in her chest as she grips Nicole’s cold hand.
“Baby?” she whispers, “Baby, please.”
Nicole’s head floats just below the surface of the water, her lifeless eyes still staring up, an image that will certainly haunt Waverly for the rest of her life. She grips Nicole’s hand tighter and buries her face in the redhead’s wrist. “I need you to be okay, Nicole. Baby, please.”
Jeremy stands behind her and gently touches her shoulder, “You have to trust us,” he starts, “This was the only way. Let me explain…”
“I don’t need you to explain,” Waverly cries, “I need her to be alive, Jeremy!”
He sighs, “She still is, in a way.”
Waverly’s head shoots up, confusion written along her forehead. “I…I don’t understand.”
“We frogged her,” a gruff voice explains. Waverly turned to look at Nedley. In any other instance, seeing Nedley’s gruff exterior juxtaposed with an animal-skin hat would make her giggle, but not now. Now, it only added to the confusion.
“You…you what her?” Waverly squeaks out.
“We frogged her,” he pauses, thinking a moment before grumbling, “And no, that’s not a euphemism.”
There’s a moment of silence where Waverly tries to make sense of what Nedley just said. Frogged? Waverly is a smart girl, a codebreaker, a researcher. She should understand what is going on, but without Nicole it’s as though there isn’t enough oxygen reaching her brain, helping her to process this situation. Waverly turned her gaze back toward Jeremy. “Okay,” she starts, “Now you can explain.”
Jeremy looks at the hourglass and holds up a finger, “One sec.” He moves around the tub and grabs Nicole by the arms, struggling to lift her. Nedley, seeing the scientist struggle, rolls his eyes and grabs Nicole’s feet, effectively pulling the ex-sheriff from the ice. Waverly gasps at the bluish tint to her skin, instantly missing the blush that usually covers Nicole’s porcelain complexion. Nedley begins CPR on Nicole as Jeremy reaches down and grabs the hem of her tank top, pulling the wet material away from her skin. As Nicole’s abdomen is revealed and Nedley averts his eyes, mumbling under his breath, Waverly moves into action.
“Jeremy!” she yelps, smacking his hand and causing him to halt his task, “Do not strip my girlfriend!”
“Okaaaayyy,” he draws out, “Still gay, remember?” When Waverly doesn’t allow him to get closer, he concedes. “We need her to be in dry clothes,” he begins, “We have to have her dry to revive her.”
Waverly shakes her head slowly, but moves to pull Nicole’s tank top off anyway. Nedley continues his compressions, but Waverly can see the strain on his face. If she wasn’t barely holding herself together, she would have comforted the ex-Sheriff, but even the usual task of undressing her love was taking everything out of her. When the sticky, wet material is removed and the redhead is dry, she stands and looks at Jeremy, arms crossed. “My girlfriend is cold, and not breathing Jeremy, but you said she was still here. Explain.”
A sheepish grin crosses Jeremy’s face, “Welllll, you see, it was all Nicole’s idea. It was the only way to protect us. It was our second, and only non-canine option. Drowning her in salted holy water. The cold water will lower her body temp enough to help protect her brain after we revive her. Nedley is reading an incantation that should link Nicole’s life force with Mr. Froggert over there. So, in theory, we can sever the link between Nicole and the Clantons and trick the Hex into believing that the frog is Nicole. Then we revive her and hopefully she is done with the barf-a-palooza!” Jeremy grins at a stunned Waverly, who grows increasingly more worried as the BBD agent speaks.
“Jeremy,” she begins slowly, “Are you testing a theory on my girlfriend?” She runs her fingers through her hair and begins to pace. “All this depends on hypotheticals, so we don’t know what will happen, do we?”
“Waverly, I promise you that this was the only option,” Jeremy starts, grabbing the thermometer and measuring Nicole’s temperature. “Okay, we should be able to start bringing her back.”
Waverly moves toward the redhead and grabs her hand, kissing it gently. “Baby, it’s time to come back now, okay?” She breathes in the scent that lingers on Nicole’s wrist, worried that she’ll somehow forget it; that this will somehow be the last time that her girlfriend’s particular vanilla dip donut aroma will envelop her.
Jeremy places the pads from the AED on Nicole’s now-dry chest, and turns to Nedley, who has returned to his chanting. Waverly knows that it’s Latin, but the translation is too difficult for her to translate in her anxious state. Jeremy notices and places a hand on Waverly’s shoulder. “He’s reading the spell which should unlink the bond between Kermit and Nicole. Because the frog is the only beating heart, the link to Margo should reside in that tiny green body and allow for your gorgeous ginger goddess to be free.”
Waverly nods numbly, “Okay, I got it.” She kisses Nicole’s hand then gently lays it back down, careful not to drop it too heavily. She stands and rubs the tears clear from her eyes, sniffling softly into her sleeve. Even though the bluish tint to Nicole’s skin has lessened, she still looked foreign to Waverly’s eyes. How can such a bright light dim so quickly? How can she go from kissing her girlfriend to laying lifeless on the floor of Shorty’s? Waverly shakes those thoughts from her brain and refocuses her attention to the task at hand. “Okay Jeremy, time to bring my girlfriend back.”
Jeremy nods and presses the button on the AED. Nicole’s body jerks unnaturally and Waverly closes her eyes. A whimper escapes her lips as a second shock is administered. She opens her eyes, hoping to look into familiar brown pools, but the redhead’s condition remains unchanged. Her heart stutters to a stop at the sight. She’s not waking up. Jeremy begins CPR and compressions again, hoping to restart the blood flow. “Is she still too cold?” Waverly asks softly, hope filling her voice.
Jeremy checks her temperature again and shakes his head. He opens his mouth to speak, but Waverly’s expression stops him. “Let me try again,” he says, pressing the button again. Nicole’s body jolts angrily again, and once again she stays motionless. Jeremy makes eye contact with Nedley, who has finished his chanting. He can see the pain in the older man’s eyes; the pain of losing a child. He turns his gaze toward Waverly and resolves himself to breaking her heart. “Waves…”
She pushes past him, interrupting him, and drops to her knees. “She’s not gone. Please baby, you can’t be gone.” She buries her face in Nicole’s chest, tears falling freely onto pale skin. “P-Please,” she whispers, “Please don’t leave me.” Waverly feels the pain surging underneath her skin, invading her every being. This isn’t how their lives were supposed to go. She holds Nicole’s face in her hands, memorizing every inch of her. The pain swells and Waverly can feel her hands shaking. Her body feels unnatural, as though she is looking at the world through someone else’s eyes. As though someone else were controlling them, her hands move toward Nicole’s chest without and press down firmly. A feeling of sharp pain and then immediate exhaustion overtake her, and Waverly gasps loudly at the sensation. Her body stutters, and she falls to the side, barely catching herself from crashing to the floor.
Nicole jerks up, narrowly avoiding headbutting Waverly. She gasps for air as she pulls much-needed air into her lungs. She turns, her eyes finding Waverly, and she feels like she can truly breathe again. “Waverly,” she exhales softly, her tense muscles immediately relaxing. “Baby…”.
Waverly opens her eyes at the sound and pulls herself up, staring into the brown eyes that she loves. “Nicole?” she hopes, “Baby, you’re okay!” She throws herself into Nicole’s arms and the redhead squeezes her tightly. “You’re alive,” she sighs into Nicole’s neck, “You’re really alive.” She feels the redhead nod and try to pull away, but Waverly doesn’t want to let go. She can’t. She grips the only lifeline to happiness that she’s ever known tighter and inhales her favorite scent. “You’re really alive,” she repeats, as though if she stops saying it then it would cease to be.
Nicole makes eye contact with Jeremy over Waverly’s shoulder and smiles gratefully. “Thank you,” she whispers to her friend. Glancing over to Nedley, her struggle against tears fails at the pure joy on his face. “Thank you both,” she says, pulling Waverly tighter against her body.
“Ehhh,” Jeremy starts, “I don’t want to poop on the party here, but we need to make sure it worked. Care to see if you can talk without blasting off a puke nuke?”
Waverly pulls away from Nicole and turns toward him. “I think we can give her a little time to settle in Jere.”
Nicole grabs her hand and kisses it gently, “It’s okay, baby. He’s right. We need to make sure.” She slowly stands with Waverly’s help and takes a step away from her girlfriend. “Better clear the splash zone, baby,” she jokes, humor nearly hiding the fear in her voice. She takes a deep breath and begins, “It was the Clantons. I made a deal with the Clantons.” Her eyes widen when she realizes that she could speak. She rushes forward and throws herself into Waverly’s arms, a sob heaving from her chest. “I-I’m so sorry Waverly. I’m so sorry for everything. I…I was so afraid that I would never see you again and she said she could help and…”
“Shh, it’s okay Nicole.” She pulls Nicole’s face up and makes eye contact with her, sternly continuing. “I can’t begin to know what you went through, but I know that you would never do anything to hurt us.” When Nicole opens her mouth to object, Waverly shakes her head, “No, Nicole. You were all alone and you did what you had to do to survive. I don’t know what that woman promised you, but if someone had sworn to bring you back to me, I would have made any deal, pledged anything.” She took a deep breath, “I almost lost you today, Nicole, and it nearly broke me. I never want to be without you again, no matter what. I love you, Nicole Haught.”
Nicole breathes a sigh of relief and gives her a watery smile, “Oh, I love you too, Waverly Earp.” She moves forward and captures Waverly’s lips, putting everything she’s feeling into their kiss. Waverly smiles into the kiss, memorizing the way the redhead’s lips fit with hers.
“Uhhh, I hate the breakup the WayHaught lovefest again, but we should probably deal with the frog in the room here,” Jeremy starts, ignoring the groans from the couple. “Well, two frogs really.” Waverly helps Nicole stand and the two hold each other close as they face Jeremy. “One, the Hex is clearly in this frog here. It shouldn’t revert back to Nicole, but to be safe we should probably…um…eliminate it.”
Waverly gasps, horrified, “You want to murder the froggy?” She turns sad eyes toward Nicole and the redhead sighs.
“Calamity Jane could use a friend. We can keep an eye on Kermit there and make sure nothing bad happens.” She smiles as her girlfriend relaxes and claps her hands softly, a small ‘yay’ falling from her lips.
Jeremy rolls his eyes, “Okay. Just pay attention if you start vomiting the frog parade again. Got it?” Waverly and Nicole nod their heads, smirking softly at each other. “The second is, well, I’m not exactly sure I’m the one you should be thanking, Nicole.” At their confused expression, he continues, “Yes, I am the Spellmaster General with the linking spell.”
“I believe that would be me,” Nedley chimes in, taking a sip from what is most definitely a strong whiskey. He nods his head toward the wolf hat, “Cujo was on my head.”
“Yes, yes, you were awesomesauce, Nedley,” Jeremy says, “Go team. But what I mean is, we totally rocked the linking spell, but we bombed the revival.” When neither woman seems to pick up on what he is saying, he sighs and bluntly states, “You were still dead, Nicole. We couldn’t bring you back. I think,” he pauses, “I-I think Waverly brought you back.”
Nicole turns and looks at her girlfriend, eyebrow raised. At Waverly’s somewhat confused expression, she smiles softly, “Of course she did. She’s an angel, afterall.” She leans forward and kisses away the crinkle on Waverly’s forehead, “My angel,” she whispers.
Waverly opens her mouth to respond when the door to Shorty’s bursts open. The couple jumps apart and Waverly moves to stand in front of Nicole.
“Hey party people!” Wynonna shouts, swinging Peacemaker around her finger. “Guess who’s back from the Sound of Frickin Music? You won’t believe the day I had. Did you know Ro-freakin-sita is still alive and kicking and…” she stops at the sight before her. “Okay, I’m not quite sure what sort of kink I just walked into, but I am going to need a lot of whiskey to deal with whatever this is.” She walks over to Nicole and bumps her shoulder, “You okay there Haughtshot?”
Nicole smiles at Waverly, then turns her grin toward Wynonna, “Yeah. Yeah I am.”
Wynonna nods sharply, “Good. You gonna ask my baby sis to marry you now?”
Waverly’s eyes widen and she moves to smack Wynonna’s shoulder.
Waverly’s starts at Nicole’s response. “Yes?”
“Yes. Waverly Earp, I have loved you from the moment I walked into Shorty’s and took off your shirt.”
“Wynonna,” Nicole mutters under her breath. She shakes her head and takes Waverly’s hands in her own. “I’ve loved you since then and my love has only grown stronger. I have waited 18 months for you to return to me, and I would wait a thousand more if it meant I could be with you.” She drops to her knees and pulls Waverly’s hands to her mouth, kissing them, “Y-You make me feel understood, and whole, and strong. Our love is strong, and I don’t want to spend another day without making this official. Waverly Earp, will you…”
Waverly drops to her knees and grabs Nicole’s face, “Marry me, Nicole. Please marry me.”
“That’s my line,” Nicole chuckles softly. “But yes, yes I will marry you.” She pulls the angel into a kiss and the world ceases to exist. She can vaguely hear Jeremy and Wynonna cheering in background and Nedley saying his congratulations, but nothing else matters. Waverly is home and they are together. And she’s not barfing up frogs. And her angel is kissing her. Her heart is full of love and it makes every bit of pain that she’s gone through the last 18 months worth it. She’s back with her family. She pulls away and looks into Waverly’s eyes. “I love you, Waverly Earp.”
“I love you too.”