Waverly walked in to the house, looking around at what had changed and what hadn’t. She smiled when she realized that nothing had changed. She finally released the breath she had been holding onto. Wynonna ran down the stairs and gently hugged her sister, Gus joining in on the hug.
“It’s good to have you home, darlin’.” Gus lifted Waverly’s chin with her finger, turning her head side to side to get a look at the damage. “What happened, angel?”
Waverly sighed, her gaze dropping to the floor. She pried herself from Wynonna’s grip and sat on the couch, sinking into the cushions. Her sister and her aunt sat on either side of her. “It happened a couple weeks ago.”
“And why didn’t we hear about this? You seem pretty injured, I imagine you were taken to the hospital, were you not?” Gus questioned.
“I was. I was knocked out for 3 days. You weren’t informed because I told them not to at some point when I came too on the way to the hospital. I told them that as long as I was going to live, I didn’t need you two to worry about me.”
“Bullshit, Waves! We have worried about you since the day you enlisted without telling either of us.” Wynonna leaned her head on her sister’s non-injured shoulder. “Sorry. Please tell us what happened.”
“It was 0200.” Waverly could see the confusion on Wynonna’s face. “2 AM. We were all asleep. We had gotten use to sleeping through mortar fire. We have them shot at us all the time but none ever hit the base. They have guys who stay up and shoot them out of the sky but this night was different. Something happened. I slept through the first series of alarms. Ya know me, hard sleeper.”
“You could sleep through a hurricane, darlin.”
“Anyway, I missed the first alarm but the others didn’t. As I got to the tent there was an explosion. They died and here I am. Useless.” Waverly pulled her cap off and dropped it in her lap. The tears finally began to fall.
“Don’t you dare say that, Waves! You are one of the bravest people I know.”
“Wasn’t brave enough to be in that tent with them. Instead I get a serious concussion, a partially torn rotator cuff, fucked ligaments in my shoulder, a broken arm and wrist and 3 months of civi life.”
“But you missed us, right?” Wynonna smirked and gave Waverly big puppy dog eyes. It was Wynonna’s way of defusing Waverly’s sadness, something she had done often since they were kids.
“Of course I missed you.” Waverly leaned her head against Wynonna’s. “How many Revheads have you killed since I last was home?”
“27 Revenants. Give or take one or three. 50 to go and this damn curse will be broken and Alice can come home to me...maybe you too?”
“As much as I would love to come home, I think I’m a lifer. I want to do right by the Navy.”
“I hope that one day you’ll find the happiness you are searching for, Waves. I really do.”
“Well, are ya hungry darlin? Of course you are! I’m going to go make us breakfast!” Gus kissed Waverly’s forehead and jumped off the couch, heading towards the kitchen.
Wynonna gave Waverly a sly smile. “So, did ya bone Haughtpants?”
“What?? God, no!.”
“How did you meet?”
“She literally ran into me at the airport when I landed. Offered me a ride home when my UBER didn’t show. I guess I’m still a hard sleeper because she couldn’t wake me up to ask where I lived so she took me to her house. Put me in her bed and she slept on the couch.”
“Ever the gentleHaught.” Wynonna rolled her eyes at the thought of her best friend.
“I do have a question though, why didn’t she realize I was your sister? She never reacted to the Earp last name.”
“Well...uh..She doesn’t exactly know I’m an Earp. Well, I guess she does now and that’s a talk her and I will have to have. She knew me as a Gibson.”
“Why? You have always been so proud to be an Earp.”
“Damn it, Waves, when I met Haught to Trott, I hit it off with her. I didn’t want our last name to scare her away. Just never really came up after the first introduction.”
“So, you’ve been lying to her?”
“Not lying!! Just hiding! You’re one to talk, Miss I’m not going to tell my family I almost died!”
“Fine, fine. I’m sorry, Nonna.”
Wynonna cuddled against her sister. “She totally has a thing for you, you know that right?”
“W...who?” Waverly looked at Wynonna with a guilty look.
“Haughtstuff. I saw how she looked at you when she was leaving. I’mma kill her.” Wynonna glanced at Waverly’s concerned face. And then grinned a cheeky grin. “Just what I thought. You have a thing for her too.”
“We only just met, Nonna.”
“And ya are already trying to get in her Haughtpants!” Wynonna playfully nudged Waverly’s shoulder with her own. Waverly giggled.
“There’s that laugh we’ve missed so much. How long do we have you for? Forever right?”
“Like I said, Nonna, 3 months.”
“And then where will you go?”
“Back to Iraq.”
Wynonna jumped to her feet, anger filling her face. “What the fuck? You’re going back? After what they did to you!?”
Waverly was taken back at first but then she became angry as well. She stood from the couch and got in Wynonna’s face. “This is my fucking job! I signed up for this!”
“You didn’t sign up to die, Waverly! You didn’t sign up for us to lose you again!”
“I can’t do this with you right now.” Waverly stormed out the door, grabbing keys off the wall as she headed out to the barn. She pulled the doors open to reveal her bright red jeep. She climbed into the driver seat and banged her hand into the steering wheel and then gripped her arm in pain. “Fuck!” She rubbed her hand against the her forehead in frustration and pulled out her phone, calling Nicole.
“This is Officer Haught, how can I help you?”
“Hey, it’s Waverly.”
“Waverly, what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I...need to cancel for tomorrow.”
“Is everything ok?”
“Uh, yeah, I just forgot I had plans already.” Waverly didn’t want to cancel on Nicole but she was in no shape to be around anyone.
“Ok, no problem. How about the next night?”
“Look, I enjoyed last night but I leave in 3 months back to Iraq. Honestly, I don’t think this whole thing is a good idea.” Waverly lied.
“I understand.” The disappointment was obvious in Nicole’s voice. “I’ll see ya around.” Before Waverly could respond Nicole hung up. She shook her head and put her phone back in her desk drawer before going back to work on the case she was working on.
Waverly drove for hours, just taking in Purgatory. All her old hangouts. The movie theater where she had her first date. The park where she drank for the first time and then there was Shorty’s. A place that held a special spot in her heart. Waverly pulled into the parking lot and walked into the bar. It was a Tuesday night and the bar was slow, just how Waverly liked it. She sat at the far end of the bar, the darkest seat, hoping no one would notice her.
“What can I get for ya?” The bartender asked while wiping down the spot in front of her.
“Whiskey. Neat. Keep em coming.” The bartender sat her first shot in front of her.
“No offense but a small girl like you probably will be drunk after 2.”
Waverly looked up from her drink. “Not that it is any of your business but I’m a damn Earp and I’m in the military. I can handle my liquor. Thanks.”
“An Earp, huh? You must be the baby sister.”
“I am. And who the hell are you?”
“Rosita. Or Rosie to my friends.” Rosita leaned on the bar, touching Waverly’s hand.
Little did Waverly know, Nicole had been sitting at one of the tables to the north of the building and had spotted Waverly the second she walked in. Upon seeing the flirting happening at the bar, she watched it go on for about 30 minutes Nicole couldn’t help but feel jealous and a bit angry. She took a deep breath and grabbed her Stetson before walking to the bar and slamming a $20 down the bar. “Keep the change, Rosita.”
“Officer Haught, you usually hang out longer than one drink.”
Nicole looked at Waverly, who was chasing her 3rd shot with a Blue Moon. “Not tonight.” She put on her Stetson, buttoned the top two buttons on her uniform and tipped her hat to the two ladies. “Have a good night, Rosita.” Nicole headed out the door.
“Wonder what that was about?” Rosita questioned.
“That would be my fault.”
“What did you do?”
“Had a date with her tomorrow and kind of blew it off.” Waverly was embarrassed to admit it.
Rosita’s eyes went big in disbelief. Waverly took another shot and started on a new beer.“You broke off a date with Nicole Haught? Are you insane?”
“Why is it such a big deal?”
“In the 3 years that Nicole Haught has been in this town, do you know how many times she has been asked out?”
“38, just in this bar. Men and women alike. Do you know how many she has gone on a date with or asked out?”
“Still a big fat no.”
“Zero, Earp. She has gone on zero dates since being in Purgatory. She has asked out zero people. So, the real question is, what made you so special?”
Waverly laid her head against the bar. “I can’t date her.”
“I leave for Iraq again in 3 months!”
“So? What are you so afraid of? Falling in love with her?”
“I’m afraid of this!” She runs her hand in the air above her body. “I’m afraid of dying in that shithole of Hell and not coming home to her. The pain that would cause her or anyone else I am with, I can’t put them through that.” Waverly threw back two more shots and placed some money on bar before stumbling towards the door. “Wow, wow. You shouldn’t be driving.” Rosita yelled towards the door. Waverly flipped her off and continued outside. Rosita pulled out her phone. “Hey, it’s me. Are you still in the area?”
“Yeah, why? Having some issues at the bar again?” Nicole answered her favorite bartender.
“No. Your girlfriend just headed out the door, drunk off her ass. She’s about to get into a car.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Nicole jerked the steering wheel and did a quick U-turn heading back towards the bar. As Nicole pulled up to the bar, she spotted Waverly digging through her numerous pockets, trying to find her keys. Nicole jumped out of her cruiser and approached Waverly. “Waverly...”
“Go away, Nicole.”
“We both know I can’t let you get in that car.”
“Just. Go. Away!” Waverly fumbled with the keys, trying to push the unlock button. Nicole reached out and grabbed the keys from her. “Hey!”
“What do you care?!” Waverly started to reach for the keys but Nicole jerked away.
Before Nicole could get any words out, Waverly was vomiting down the front of her own uniform. Nicole sighed and grabbed a bag from her cruiser and pulled off Waverly’s shirt and shoved it in the bag. She threw it in the trunk and helped Waverly into her cruiser.
“Don’t take me to the...” Waverly puked again but this time Nicole was ready with a vomit bag. “Homestead.”
“Great...” Nicole mumbled before putting the car in drive and heading to her own house. She pulled Waverly’s door open and helped her into the house and into Nicole’s bedroom. She grabbed some of her clothes out of the drawer and set them on the bed. Nicole stood over Waverly and helped her into a seated position. “I need to change your clothes, are you ok with that?”
“Yes...” Waverly leaned her head against Nicole’s chest, willing herself not to vomit again. Nicole took in a deep breath, running her hand down her own face.
“What have I gotten myself into?” She whispered to herself. She pulled off Waverly’s undershirt and slipped her Texas A&M shirt over the smaller woman and then pulled off her boots, pants and underwear. Nicole made sure she never looked or touched anywhere she shouldn’t. She slipped on a pair of new women’s boxer shorts she had bought a few days ago. They had little tacos all over them. It was that one or the one with rainbows. Nicole didn’t have time to be embarrassed by it, not yet anyways. She pulled a pair of her gym shorts over the boxers. She carefully maneuvered around Waverly’s injured arm, doing her best not to move it at all. Nicole pulled back the blankets and tucked Waverly under them. Nicole turned on the fan and placed a bucket, 2 bottles of water and a pain pill next to the bed. Nicole grunted, rolled her eyes and walked out of the room. She grabbed a hooded tank top that said “loyal” across the chest and gym shorts, changing in the bathroom before heading to her gym/office. Nicole dialed Wynonna’s number.
“Yo, Haughtshit, what’s up?”
“Your sister is here at my house, just so you know.”
“Are you banging my sister and then telling me about it? Cuz, I’ll kill ya!”
“No. Her and I had a date for tomorrow, she blew me off and got drunk. Rosita called me when she tried to drive drunk. She’s passed out in my bed.”
“Ah fuckholes. Not gonna work out with ya two then?”
“Obviously not. Just get your ass over to the bar and get her car and then come pick her up in the morning.” Nicole hung up, pulled her hair back into a pony tail and taped her wrists. She put in her ear buds, blasting her music while she whaled into a punching bag. “What the hell am I doing? Why didn’t I just take her to the damn homestead? Why?” Nicole argued with herself in between punches.
After a couple hours on the bag, Nicole looked at her phone. “2 AM, well, good time for a run.” She sighed. “After I make sure she didn’t choke on her own vomit.” Nicole threw a gym towel around her neck and ran to her bedroom, Waverly still in the same position as when she left her. On her stomach, mouth hanging slightly off the bed so that if she did puke, it would go in the bucket kind of. Nicole had added extra pillows under Waverly’s shoulder to support it without causing her any pain.
After drinking a bottle of water, the redhead walked outside. It was pretty cold for being summer but she knew she would be able to warm up on her run. And that’s what she did. Every hour, she would stop by the house and check on Waverly. No matter how much Nicole tried to turn her brain off to go to sleep she couldn’t so she kept running. Before she could realize it, the sun was coming up. She was extremely tired but kept pushing her body. “You have to do better. You have to be better!” Nicole yelled at herself, pushing herself to keep running. Her legs burned and felt like jello, her lungs hurt but she kept going. Finally, she approached her house. It was 7 AM. She had been running for 5 hours and 23 minutes. Not her personal best but close. She slow jogged in place as she unlocked the front door and jogged into the house.
“Hey...” Waverly tried to get Nicole’s attention but with her ear buds still in her ears, she headed to the bathroom, not realizing that Waverly was waiting for her on the couch. Waverly could tell that Nicole was tired, looking like she was going to pass out. She could also tell that something was on Nicole’s mind.
Waverly waited in the living room until she saw Nicole cross the hall into the bedroom. She slowly made her way to the bedroom door, knocking before entering. “Nicole?”
Nicole stood at the dresser, her hands placed on the edge, her chin tucked to her chest. “Sorry I woke you...” Nicole answered in a very groggy voice.
“Were you running all night?” Waverly placed her hand on Nicole’s shoulder as Nicole nodded. “Why?”
“Just needed to run.” Nicole’s voice was cold, not the usual soft tone she had
“You’ve taken care of me the last two days...” Waverly slowly approached her, reaching her hand out and placing it on Nicole’s bare shoulder, placing her mouth near Nicole’s ear. “Let me take care of you.”
“I’m ok.” Nicole pulled on a shirt. She turned to walk out of the room but Waverly stood in her way, placing a hand on her chest.
“Please?” Waverly’s eyes pleaded with Nicole. Waverly helped Nicole into bed, she could tell the tiredness was sweeping over the taller woman. Nicole laid down and gripped into her pillow with a sob. Waverly could see she was crying and it broke her heart. She didn’t know what to do, so she did the only thing she could think of. She laid in front Nicole, wrapping her arm tightly around her, pulling her as close as she could. Waverly pulled her arm from her sleeve, the pain almost unbearable but the pain of seeing Nicole upset hurt her more. Using her injured arm, Waverly brought her hand up and began to slowly run it through Nicole’s hair until the redhead had finally drifted off into a deep sleep.