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Travelin' Soldier

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“W...what...”

Wynonna followed the Paramedics as they loaded Nicole in the ambulance. They tried to stop her from getting in but Wynonna shoved them. “Fuck you! I’m going with her!”

“Let...let her.” The Sheriff told them, the paramedics nodded. Wynonna climbed in and sat next to Nicole.

“I...is she alive, Nonna?”

“Yes, Waves. She’s alive. We’re heading to the hospital.”

“What happened?” Nicole reached out and took the phone from Wynonna.

“I...I’m gonna be late, Waves...” Nicole said through pained breaths.

“I swear to god, if you die, I’m never going out with you again.” Waverly said between sobs. “Worst date ever, by the way.”

“I...I’m sorry.” Nicole handed the phone back to Wynonna. “T..take care of her, please?”

“Don’t you talk like that, asshole. Don’t you dare talk like that. You take care of her yourself!”

“I’ll meet you at the hospital, Nonna.” Waverly hung up and Wynonna turned her attention back to Nicole.

“You made her cry, Haughtpants. I should kill you for that.” Wynonna wiped stray tears from her face.

“Quit being a bitch...” Nicole playful smiled at her best friend.

“You gotta be ok, you know that right? Like, I need you. Stupidly, you are my best friend and I need you.”

“Not going anywhere, Wyn. I promise.”

The Paramedics gave each other a look as they continued to stabilize Nicole. “She’s losing a lot of blood.” One of them held a towel over Nicole’s eye but it was just filling full of blood.

“Tis but a flesh wound.” Nicole groaned. Wynonna laughed. “That bit, Wyn, bout the satchel. That was good.” Nicole weakly smiled at her best friend. She balled up her fist and Wynonna softly gave her a fist bump. “Take my ring, please? Have Waverly keep it.”

Wynonna slipped off Nicole jade ring that she wore on her left hand’s middle finger. “Some protection ring that was, Haught.”

“Definite want...”She breathed in deep, a sharp pain running through her back as they hit a pothole.

“Easy, you fucking cocktapus!” Wynonna yelled to the front of the cab.

“Definitely want my money back.” Nicole tried to steady her breath, holding out her hand for Wynonna. “Hey...”

“What do you want now?” Wynonna took Nicole’s hand in hers.

“Wh...what do you call a lesbian dinosaur?”

“What?”

Before Nicole could answer, the ambulance doors were swinging open and they were pulling her stretcher out of the ambulance. Wynonna stood by Nicole’s side as long as she could. “Wait...” Nicole pulled the file from in between her chest and vest. It was covered in blood “Be free, Earp.” She shoved it into Wynonna’s chest as they wheeled her off to surgery. They quickly took xrays, seeing that bullet was indeed against her spine.

A surgeon stood over Nicole. “Sheriff Haught, we’re gonna get you well soon, I promise.” They put a new IV line in her arm and injected her with anaesthesia. “Can you tell me where your happy place is?”

“Uh, watching porn.” Nicole said with a smile as all the operating room nurses and doctors started to laugh. “Oh god, don’t tell Waverly I just said that...”

“We won’t.” The surgeon laughed.

“Actually, she’ll be there with me, so what do I care.” Nicole said as she went under.

Wynonna, Gus, Waverly, Dolls and Doc all sat in the waiting room. It had been 6 hours since they had taken Nicole in. Waverly was a nervous wreck but Wynonna was worse. She was pacing back and forth, her boots clicking against the ground echoed throughout the waiting room.

“Damn it, Wynonna, sit the hell down, will ya?” Waverly finally spoke up.

“Language Waverly. I know you’ve been in the military but you don’t need to curse like them.” Gus said with disappointment to her niece.

“Sorry, ma’am.” Waverly looked up at Wynonna. “I’m scared too, Nonna.”

Wynonna stopped in front of Waverly and pulled the ring out of the pocket. She had been playing with it for hours, trying to calm her nerves but it was time she gave it to the person it was meant to be with. She held it out to Waverly. “Nicole asked me to give this to you.”

“Her ring?” Waverly took it, slipping it on her middle finger. It was a little big but not by much, enough that it would stay. “Do you think she will be ok?” Waverly asked, staring at the ring on her finger.

“I don’t know, Babygirl. I hope for both our sakes that she is.” Wynonna slumped down against the wall next to Waverly’s chair. She pulled her knees to her chest, the tears starting to form again in her eyes. Waverly made her way next to Wynonna and wrapped her good arm around her, pulling her tightly into her. “She’s my best friend, Waves. What will I do without her?”

“She’s going to be fine, Nonna, I promise.”

Dolls slumped down on the other side of Wynonna after moving the chair. He wrapped his arms around both Earp women. “Sheriff Haught is one of the strongest women I have ever met. A bullet can’t keep her down.”

Waverly moved in between Wynonna’s legs, laying back against her chest as her sister wrapped her arms around her shoulders, hugging her tightly. Doc took Waverly’s spot at Wynonna’s side. Waverly finally let her tears escape, crying softly into Wynonna’s shoulder. Gus looked down at the group of friends on the ground and pulled out her phone, capturing the heartbreaking memory.

After another 2 hours, the dr finally came out, heading directly for the group of friends. “Waverly? Wynonna?” He spoke softly. He gripped his surgical mask in his hands tightly.

Both girls jumped to their feet, eager to know what had happened to Nicole. “Doc, what ya got for us?”

“She made it through surgery. The bullet made it through her vest but thank God she had it on. It slowed it enough that it only pressed against her spine, didn’t do too much damage in there. Had she not had her vest on, the bullet would have shattered her spine.”

“Will she still be paralyzed?” A concerned Dolls asked from over the shoulder of the Earp sisters.

“There is no way to tell. She should get some feeling back in her legs but we won’t know for sure how much until she is awake and healed. She could recover just fine or it may have been pressed against her spine long enough that she may have lost complete use of one or both legs. We really won’t know until the bruising goes down around the spine.”

“How long could her recovery be?”

“A couple months and that’s if we are talking best case scenario.”

“Thank you for all you’ve done, doc. We really appreciate it.” Wynonna shook his hand after thanking him. Waverly couldn’t believe how professional Wynonna was being. As the doctor walked away, Wynonna let out a huge sigh of relief and pulled her flask from her pocket, taking a long drink. She offered it to the group as a way of celebrating. Each one of them took a swig.

“I want to help her as much as I can, Nonna. Do you think she’ll let me?”

“I don’t know, Babygirl but if I was a bettin woman, which I happen to be, I would say she is going to milk this injury to get you to stay with her.” Wynonna smirked at her baby sister as she wrapped her arm around her shoulder. “Though, you gotta get that wing right so you can go back to work.”

“Uh...yeah. Definitely got to get that better, don’t I?”

“Why, Miss Waverly, are you havin’ your doubts about returning to your current place of employment?” Doc spoke softly for the first time.

“I...I just feel bad because Nicole is hurt. Who’s going to take care of her when I leave?”

“We all will, Babygirl. Plus, ya’ll agreed to keep this whole thing casual right?”

“We did but I was so scared when I heard she had been shot, Nonna. I’ve only known her for 2 days but God, I don’t want her not in my life. I told her that if I wasn’t in the military I could totally see myself falling in love with her, Nonna.”

“Wow.”

“I know. I know! But we just have this connection that I can’t explain away but I also still don’t want a relationship.”

“And she’s ok with that, Waves?”

“She said she was. Said she was fine with us seeing other people and each other but...what if I only want to see her?”

“Well, you can’t ask that girl to be with you and not to give you her heart because she damn sure will. And you can’t expect her not to get attached and want more, Waverly. And that sure the hell wouldn’t be fair to her or to you.” Wynonna took another drink from her flask.

Before Waverly could answer, a nurse was heading towards them. “Miss Earp?” Waverly and Wynonna both looked towards her. “Nicole is in her room. You both are more than welcome to come see her.”

The girls looked towards Dolls, Gus and Doc. “Go. It’s time I headed home anyways. I’m glad that girl is ok. She’s one tough cookie.”

“We will escort you home, Ma’am.”

“Doc, if I have to tell you one more time to call me Gus, I will whip you with your own belt. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Gus.”

The 5 of them hugged it out. Waverly and Wynonna made their way to Nicole’s bedside, each pulling a chair to each side of the bed. Waverly leaned forward, taking Nicole’s hand in hers, kissing it. Wynonna, on the other hand, just laid her head on the bed next to Nicole, not comfortable with touching her just yet. Waverly looked over Nicole’s body to her sister, a sadness filling her even more.

“You really love her, don’t you Nonna?”

“After you left, I had a really hard time dealing with the Earp Curse and everything that brought with it.” Waverly went to say something but Wynonna stopped her. “Waves, I don’t blame you for leaving. You deserve to live your life away from Purgatory and I love you no matter what. Haughtstuff came into my life when I needed her the most and she is my best friend. She will never replace you, but I love her as if she were my sister. She has done nothing but put her life on the line so that we might be able to end this curse so that Alice can come home.” Wynonna looked down at her best friend and then at the file in her hand. “She risked everything today so that we could be free, Waves.”

Waverly stood up and leaned over Nicole, cupping her cheek and running her thumb gently across her lips. “You better wake up, Sheriff. You and I still have a date to go on. You promised me that Haught Charm and you damn well better deliver.” Waverly leaned down and kissed Nicole’s lips ever so gently.

“She’s not a frog, Waves. You’re kiss won’t magically bring her back.”

“Ribbit ribbit.” Nicole groaned towards Wynonna.

“Cole?” Tears welled in Waverly’s eyes as Nicole slowly opened her eyes, looking deep into Waverly’s.

“Haughtdamn!”

She looked Waverly over, who was in a sleek black dress that ran down to her ankles but had a slit up the right side, showing off just enough to get the imagination going. Her hair was swept up with just a few random curls hanging down to frame her face. “Oh god. I must be dead.”

“Why’s that?” Waverly softly caressed Nicole’s cheek.

“Because you look like an angel. You’re so beautiful.” Nicole’s words made a blush form on Waverly’s cheeks and her smile went ear to ear.

“Is that, that Haught charm you were telling me about?” Waverly pressed her forehead against Nicole’s.

“Mmm hmmm.”

“You’re high as shit, aren’t ya Haughtpants?”

“Mmm hmmm.”

“And you still manage to flirt with my sister? This is ridiculous.”

Waverly stepped back to give Wynonna some time with Nicole, but the sadness of the lost contact between them made Waverly frown a little. “Lickalotapus.” Nicole groaned again.

“What?”

“It’s what you call a lesbian dinosaur.”

“Oh, you’re fucking gross, Haught!” Wynonna laughed so did Waverly. The mood in the room lightening up.

The doctor walked in and looked at the 3 women in front of him. “Sheriff, it’s great to see you are awake. I would like to run some tests, if that’s ok. Though we may need you two to step out.”

“Any tests you need to do can be done in front of them.” Nicole pointed at both Wynonna and Waverly.

“Ok, let’s begin then.” He pulled back the blankets that covered Nicole’s lower body, exposing her almost to her crotch. Waverly blushed as she could see all the way up causing Nicole to smile. “I’ll need one of you to draw her attention away from me please.”

“I pick her.” Nicole instantly pointed at Waverly who stepped back to Nicole’s side.

“Now, Sheriff, I am going to be asking you if you have feeling where I touch. I may be touching, I may not. Please let me know when you feel it. Waverly, I will need you to distract her from watching me, please. Wynonna, I would like you to have your back to Nicole just so she can’t see facial expressions.”

“You mean like my utter disgust at seeing her pubes?” Wynonna joked, turning her back to Nicole but still being able to see the doctor’s movements.

Waverly leaned over Nicole, her face only a mere inch from Nicole’s. “You just keep those beautiful eyes on me, ok?” Waverly softly caressed Nicole’s cheek.

“Wouldn’t want them anywhere else.” Nicole smiled lovingly into Waverly’s eyes. There was so much love behind Nicole’s eyes, it made Waverly’s heart skip a beat and her breath to hitch. Nicole could feel it when it happened. “Are you ok?”

“Y...yeah.” Her smile getting wider. “Just lose my breath when you look at me like that.”

“I’ll never stop looking at you like this, Waverly Earp.”

“Ooof, there’s that Haught charm again, huh?”

“You caught me.” Nicole winked.

“Ok, Nicole, can you feel this?” The doctor began to run his pen around Nicole’s left foot. When he got no answer, he ran it up her calf, inside and out then to mid thigh with still no response.

“Hey doc, ya start that shit yet?” Nicole joked, still smiling at Waverly.

“No, no. Not yet. Still trying to find a pen.” The doctor ran the pen almost to Nicole’s crotch when she raised her hand.

“Ah, yeah, I feel that doc.”

“Good, good. Let’s try the other side. Just keep your hand up as long as you feel it, ok?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You scared me, you know.” Waverly softly confessed to Nicole.

“I’m sorry.” Nicole’s hand crept the back of Waverly’s neck. “How can I get you to forgive me?” Waverly smiled as she leaned down and gave Nicole a small kiss on the lips.

“Don’t die on me, ok?”

The doctor got just above Nicole’s right knee and she put her hand down. “Good, good. Well, let me go discuss my findings with the neurologist.” The doctor stepped out of the room and Nicole frowned.

“I can’t feel my legs still, Waves.” A few tears fell from Nicole’s eyes. “I can’t walk.”

“Babe, it’s ok. You’ll be ok.”

“Yeah, Haughtpants, you’ll be up and back to work in no time.” Wynonna stepped next to Waverly.

“Look, can you two please leave?” Nicole’s voice became very cold. She was angry. More angry than she had ever been.

“Haught, you don’t mean that. Come on dude.”

“Leave! Now!” Nicole’s fingers dug into the sheets and mattress under her.

Waverly leaned down to kiss Nicole good-bye but she turned her face away from Waverly. Waverly nodded and grabbed Wynonna’s hand. “Let’s go, Nonna.” She looked at Nicole one more time. “I’ll come see you tomorrow.”

Her and Wynonna stepped out of the room, running into the doctor outside. “She asked us to leave. She’s very upset.”

“That’s normal for situations like this, especially with military or police who are injured in the line of duty. It can be difficult to come to terms with.”

“What’s her diagnosis, sir?”

“The bullet was pressed into her spine, while there was minimal damage that we could physically see there’s no telling what we can’t. She could get feeling back tomorrow or she could never. It’s really up to her body and how it heals.” the doctor looked over his notes. “We will start her in physically therapy as soon as we can. Hopefully get that feeling back sooner rather than later. She’s going to need someone to take care of her at home, though. Does she have any famliy? We will see where she progresses but she will be fitted for a wheelchair and crutches soon.”

“We’re her family.” Wynonna spoke up.

“I’ll stay with her until I ship out.” Waverly answered softly. “What do I need to do to get her house ready for her to come home?”

“Just make sure it’s wheelchair accessible. Make sure she can get to everything as easily as possible. The less frustrated she is coming back home, the better it will be for her accept that this is her life for right now.” He handed Waverly Nicole’s personal belongings. Her keys sat at the bottom of the bag, along with her gun and badge.

“I’ll go to her house and get her a charger for her phone so she has that at all times. I’ll be back shortly.” Waverly was still in shock at everything the doctor was telling her. Was Nicole really going to be paralyzed? And who would take care of her after Waverly left? Waverly pulled her keys out of her pocket and climbed into her jeep, heading towards Nicole’s house. As she stepped inside, something made her jump. A little tiny meow came from behind her as a tiny orange kitten came trotting out of the bedroom and looked at Waverly before running back to it’s hiding spot. Waverly got on her knees, looking under the bed at the cute little ball of fluff. “Hi, sweetie. It’s ok. I’m not going to hurt you. I promise.” The kitten couldn’t have been more than a 12 weeks old, max. She had bright orange fur that reminded Waverly of Nicole’s hair ever so slightly. It strangely had one bright blue eye and one beautifully golden eye. “I bet you’re hungry, huh?” Waverly asked as she saw the kitten’s food bowl under the bed. She grabbed it out and headed to the kitchen where she found the kitten food under the sink. She put a little scoop of wet food into the bowl and brought the remaining in the can with her. She was determined to get this little fluff ball out of it’s hiding spot. Waverly placed the bowl under the bed and watched as the little thing ate it up as fast as it could. She pulled the bowl closer to her and put another scoop of food in it, getting the same results.

Waverly pulled the bowl even closer, this time, it was just outside of the bed. She scooped another spoonful of food into the bowl. The kitten was a little hesitant but after a few minutes, climbed out from the under the bed and began to eat out of the bowl. Waverly, ever so gently, reached her hand forward, rubbing it down the back of the kitten. At first the kitten jumped and then went back under the bed but soon, she caught on to what Waverly was doing and just stayed out to eat while Waverly petted her. Soon the kitten was finished and climbed into Waverly’s lap, curling up. “Well aren’t you the best baby. And so darn cute!” Waverly snuggled the kitten, giving it kisses. She saw a name tag on the collar that read “CJ”. “Well, CJ, your mommy is in the hospital and I am going to take care of you, ok?” The tiny kitten meowed as if she understood what Waverly was telling her. Waverly giggled and cocked her head to the side. “Does this make me a Disney Princess now?” The little kitten meowed again which caused Waverly to laugh once more.

She spent an hour loving on CJ before heading into the kitchen. She saw a picnic basket in the corner of the kitchen and smiled at the idea that popped into her head. Waverly begun to search the kitchen for what Nicole had and what she could pull together for a picnic in the hospital. Waverly made some baked chicken with her own special seasoning, roasted some potatoes in rosemary and butter making them fall apart at the touch and toasted some garlic bread. She pulled a white wine out of the wine cabinet with two wine glasses and the bottle of whiskey for Wynonna. She separated all of the food into 3 containers. “I will see you in a little while, CJ. Stay out of trouble.” Waverly said as she gathered some items for Nicole into a backpack and she headed out the door.

Waverly walked into the hospital a few minutes later, backpack on her back, carrying the picnic basket. She spotted Wynonna sitting outside of Nicole’s room and let out a sigh as she knew that meant Nicole still didn’t want to talk to them. “Any news?”

“Other than her being a dick? No, not much.” Wynonna looked defeated.

“Well, here. Eat up and refill that flask of yours.” Waverly pulled out a sealed container and the bottle of whiskey, handing it over to Wynonna. “I’ll be inside if you need me.”

“Careful, Waves. She said some pretty horrible things to me.”

“You know she didn’t mean them, Nonna. She’s just hurting both physically and mentally and she’s taking it out on the people who love her most.” Waverly said before she pushed the door open to Nicole’s room. As she stepped inside Nicole just stared at her.

“I told you to leave.” Nicole scowled.

“Well, Sheriff Haught, I believe you told me we were going on a date tonight and that you wouldn’t miss it for anything. And for some of that Nicole Haught charm that I am just dying to see. So, I’ll be damned if this is going to stop us from having our first date.” Waverly approached the bed, waiting for a nasty response back that never came.

“You deserve better than this.” Nicole motioned to her legs with her hands.

Waverly set the backpack down and placed the picnic basket in the chair behind her. “Nicole, you do NOT get to tell me what I do and do not deserve. That is not for you to decide, do you understand?” Waverly had a stern voice. It reminded Nicole of her military days but she softened quickly as she leaned down and kissed Nicole’s cheek. “And if you think anything is going to scare me away from you, you have another thing coming.”

“You don’t have to do this because you feel sorry for me, ya know. I’m a big girl. I’ll be just fine.”

“You think I’m doing this because I pity you?! That is the furthest thing from the truth, Nicole Haught and don’t you ever say that again!”

“We’re not dating. You don’t need to take care of me, Waves. You deserve someone who can....”

“What did I say, Cole? I get to decide what I deserve in this life and god damn it, maybe that’s you, ok? Maybe I want to get to know you, no matter what is happening. Maybe...” Waverly’s voice shook and her words trailed off. She turned away, visibly shaken.

Nicole could see she was starting to break through Waverly’s military exterior but not in a good way and it crushed her that she was treating her this poorly just because she couldn’t handle her own emotions. “Waverly, I’m sor...”

“I made dinner.” Waverly softly cut her off. She pulled her arm out of her sling, the pain was enough to remind her that she was still hurt but she didn’t care. She pulled the container out of the basket and pulled the lid off. It was still nice and hot. She started to cut up the chicken for Nicole and placed the platter in front of her on her meal tray. “Eat.”

“Waves, your ar...”

“It’s fine. Please eat before it gets cold.” Waverly’s voice wasn’t bubbly anymore. It wasn’t cheerful. She took out of her plate and pulled the chair a little away from Nicole’s bedside. They started to eat in complete, awkward silence.

Nicole finally had enough. “This gonna be one of those awkward first dates that we talk about down the line when we are referring to how bad things went with other people?” Nicole joked, pushing food around on her plate.

“Only if you keep being an asshole.” Waverly glanced up from her plate with a smirk.

“I’m sorry, Waves. I truly am. I shouldn’t be taking my anger out on you and Wynonna.”

“It just hurt when you thought I only wanted to be with you out of pity. I would never, Nicole. Ever do something like that to you.”

“I know. I...I’m just so mad, Waves. What if I never walk again?”

Waverly set her plate down and walked to Nicole’s side. “Listen here, even if you never walk again, it doesn’t make you any less of who you are, do you understand? You are the most caring, loving, tender, strong, beautiful woman I have ever met and you will still be that person even if you can’t walk but we won’t think like that right now, will we? We are going to think about our next date and the one after that and the one after that. We will talk about how much we will miss each other when I leave because, Cole, I will miss you and our found family like crazy. We will talk about our next kiss, which, if you’re lucky, will happen at the end of this date.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes. And we will talk about that adorable kitten of yours that I am going to steal in the middle of the night.”

“Oh, you met CJ? She actually came out?”

“Well, I think she was hungry but then...” Waverly pulled out her phone and started to show Nicole all of the photos she took with CJ curled up against her, nuzzling her face, giving kisses.

“Awe, she’s the best, isn’t she?”

“When did you get her?” Waverly pulled her chair closer to Nicole’s bedside, so close that her knees were touching the side of the bed.

“A couple weeks ago, I was out on patrol and I noticed something sitting in the middle of the road and there she was. I don’t know how she managed to not get hit but I couldn’t leave her. And then two more came running up to me.”

“Oh my god! Are there two more in your apartment that I didn’t know about? I need to go fe...”

“Calm down, Waves. The other two were adopted out. One by Wynonna, actually and the other by Dolls.”

“All of you have kittens that I don’t know about?”

“Well, we were all a little preoccupied with other things. But yes, we all have a kitten.”

“I am so jealous right now.”

“Well, do you think you could take care of her while I’m in here? You can stay at my place if you’d like.”

“Really? But you just met me. How can you be so sure that I won’t run off with all your belongings and your cat.”

“You can have all my belongings, just leave the cat please.” Nicole smiled sweetly. “This is really good, by the way. You are an amazing cook.”

“Well, how bout this. Since I’ll be staying at your place, why don’t I cook you dinner every night and bring it over? That way you get to eat food that doesn’t taste like...well military food and we get to spend some more time together.”

“I really like that idea, Waves. And again, I’m really sorry for how I treated you two.”

“Hey, we understand.”

“Can you do something for me, please?” Nicole gave Waverly her best puppy dog eyes and Waverly’s heart melted.

“Sure.”

“Can you please put your sling back on?”

“Yes.” Waverly grabbed it and tried to but was having a little bit of an issue.

“Come here. I’ll help you, babe.” The pet name slipped from Nicole’s lips before she could stop herself and a blush crept across her cheeks and ears. Waverly smiled and walked up to her, allowing her to strap the sling to Waverly’s arm. “I never got to ask, how did your appointment go?”

“It went well. There wasn’t as much issues in there as they thought. I might get to head back sooner...” Waverly’s eyes searched Nicole’s as she pressed her forehead to Nicole’s. It was their thing. Just as intimate as the small kisses that they would sneak. “If I wanted too.”

“How is it that in 2 days of meeting you, I already don’t want you to leave?”

Waverly caressed Nicole’s cheek. “I know the feeling.” Waverly pressed a kiss on Nicole’s nose. “I think I’ll stay the full 3 months.”

“I would really like that, Waves.” Nicole melted into Waverly’s touch, her eyes closing as her own hands touched Waverly’s legs as she sat on the edge of the bed with Nicole.

“Are you in much pain? Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Not much pain but I think that has something to do with it.” She pointed to the IV bag of pain meds. “And can you bring Wynonna in? I really want to apologize to her.”

“Does that mean our date is over?”

“For now, babe. For now.”

“Well, in that case..” Waverly kissed Nicole softly. “Thank you for letting me stay.”

“Thank you for staying.”

“For as long as I can, I will be by your side, Cole.”