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Travelin' Soldier

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A month had passed since Nicole had been shot. Nicole came home from the hospital after a week and Waverly never left her side. Between Nicole’s physical therapy and Waverly’s own, they had stayed busy but were content in the friendship that had blossomed between them but enjoyed the small kisses that would be snuck every now and then.

Nicole slipped out of bed and positioned herself in her wheelchair. She still hadn’t gotten use to the chair but it was slowly becoming the norm for her. She watched as Waverly brushed her hair, letting her long locks flow down for the day and she couldn’t help but smile.

“What is the plan for today?” Nicole wheeled up to Waverly’s side, placing a hand on the small of her back.

“Hm...You have physical therapy, like you do every day but after that, we can do whatever you want. You have something in mind?”

“I do.” Nicole let out a nervous sigh. “It’s been a month since we had went on a date, so I was wondering, would you like to go out with me tonight?”

Waverly smiled sweetly and leaned down to Nicole so that she was at eye level with her. She cupped both of her cheeks and gave her a soft kiss. “Why Sheriff, what did you have in mind?”

“Well, I thought maybe since you’re officially out of your sling, we could maybe go see a movie and dinner somewhere to celebrate?”

“An actual date, Sheriff?” Waverly’s smile widened even more and it made Nicole smile in excitement.

“Yes, Petty Officer. An actual date. Me and you.”

“Yes. 100% yes, I would love to go out with you tonight.” Waverly rubbed her thumb across Nicole’s cheek. “I know this hasn’t been the best month with everything that happened but I have really enjoyed the time we’ve gotten to spend together, Cole. I really appreciate you turning your gym into a spare bedroom for me. You’ve changed your home around just to have me here. You just...you don’t know how much that means to me.”

“I would do anything to keep you here, Waves.” Nicole stuttered, realizing how that sounded. “I...I mean, not in a serial killer kind of way.” She chuckled at herself. “I enjoy spending as much time with you as I can. Since my injury, you’ve been the best thing to happen to me. Our friendship means more to me then you will ever know. Though, the kisses are what keeps me around.” Nicole winked at Waverly and gave her a dimpled smirk.

“And there it is.” Waverly kissed her nose. “That Haught charm I’ve been waiting to see again. I absolutely love that smile, please never lose it again.”

“I will do my best.” Nicole shot her another heartwarming smile. Nicole knew she couldn’t make the promise never to lose her smile again because she knew the day that Waverly deployed back to Iraq would be the day she lost her smile again. Over the last month, Waverly had been her rock. Helping her get use to being in a wheelchair but never once making her feel like she was a burden. And boy, did she have days where she just couldn’t get her head space right, but Waverly never let that scare her away. She stood by Nicole’s side. From the mental pick me ups to the nightly massages on Nicole’s legs and back. About a week after Nicole had been home, she was tired of seeing Waverly sleep on the couch, even though she fit it perfectly. Nicole asked Waverly if she would like to move in with her, on a temporary basis anyways. At least that’s what Nicole had told Waverly. Honestly, Nicole asked her because she was being selfish. She wanted to go to bed every night with Waverly, at least under the same roof. Yet, as Nicole’s anxiety got worse, Waverly found that she would only go to sleep if Waverly was in bed with Nicole. It soon became routine that Waverly would fall asleep with Nicole in her bed before waking up at some point in the night and moving to her own room.

Waverly watched as the gears turned in Nicole’s head. She was deep in thought with a tear on the verge of falling. “Hey.” Waverly ran her hands gently up and down Nicole’s shoulders. “You ok?”

“Huh?” Nicole shook the thoughts from her head. “Uh, yeah. Just thinking about all the hell they are going to put me through today. Honestly, I’ve thought about stopping physical therapy. I don’t think it’s working.”

“You can’t give up, Cole. You have to keep working and keep pushing to get better. Plus, look at these guns!” Waverly squeezed Nicole’s biceps. “They are my favorite thing about you.”

“My arms? Really?”

“Well...” Waverly walked into the bathroom, smirking over her shoulder at Nicole. “2nd favorite thing.”

“Oooof. That woman!” Nicole mumbled as she headed to the living room and leaned down to pull on her shoes. She pulled her Stetson onto her head, adjusting it just a bit. Even with her injury, the police department wouldn’t let Nicole step down as Sheriff. They allowed her to stay on, even going as far as to moving Nicole’s office down stairs, adding a bathroom for her and having a ramp that came in the backdoor so that she wouldn’t have to worry about all the crazies in the main room. She had never felt more loved by the town she worked for or the people.

Waverly dropped Nicole off at physical therapy and headed to Shorty’s for a drink. No matter how comfortable Nicole was with Waverly, she just couldn’t bring herself to have Waverly in the sessions with her. She couldn’t stand for Waverly to fully see her at her weakest moments, but maybe it was time she asked.

Nicole laid on the mat, the therapist leaning over her, stretching out Nicole’s legs one at a time. This had been their routine for the last month and Nicole was ready to move on. She wanted to try and start walking. She wanted to try even if she failed but she knew she couldn’t do it alone, not this time.

“Hey Eric.”

“Yeah, Haught?”

“Can you call Waverly and ask her to come sit in on the session?” Nicole continued to work out her sore muscles. Her body still wasn’t use to being in the wheelchair, something that Nicole was fine with. She didn’t want to get use to being in a wheelchair.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I want to try the braces today.”

“Really? You’ve been fighting me all week about using them, what’s changed?”

“I want my life back.”

“Let’s do it.” Eric stepped off to the side, dialing Waverly’s number.

“Hey! Is she done already?” Waverly had a peppy but worried tone.

“No. Not at all. She’s actually requesting you to join us for this session.”

“R...really?” Waverly’s eyes started to tear up. “Y..yeah. I’ll be right there.”

“Good. I think this will be good for her. She’s pushing herself really hard. Do you think you might be able to get her to take a day off?”

“Have you met Nicole? She’s as stubborn as they come.”

“She is, but her body needs a rest. The swelling in her spine is still at 50% and that could very well be what is causing her paralysis. She needs to take a day or two off. She needs to take a day or two off and I think you are the only one who can do it.”

“I will try my best to convince her. I will see you soon.” Within 5 minutes, Waverly walked through the door. She spotted Nicole the second she walked through the door. She was in her work out clothes aka a dark sports bra and the compression leggings that Waverly had helped her get into. She was doing pull ups on a bar in the corner, her lower body dead weight below her. Nicole’s muscles tightens with each pull up, the dimples in the small of her back more defined then the first time Waverly had ever seen them. Her body glistened with sweat and Waverly couldn’t help but bit her bottom lip. The last month with Nicole had been everything that Waverly could have hoped for. Well, almost everything. They had discussed being intimate. Nicole’s doctor even cleared her for it but Nicole was mentally ready and Waverly was willing to wait. She didn’t care about sex. She only cared about the connection her and Nicole had.

Nicole felt eyes on her. She didn’t need to turn around or stop working out, she knew it was Waverly. Every time Waverly walked into a room, she could feel it and it was one of her favorite things to happen during the day. “Hey babe.” Nicole yelled between pull ups.

Waverly smiled at the pet name. She loved hearing it. Waverly walked over and placed her hands on Nicole’s hips, stepping in front of her. “Hi. I heard you requested me? What can I do for you?” Waverly’s eyes ran down Nicole’s body, stopping on her deeply toned abs. She ran her hand down her abs, same as she had done every day as a way of showing Nicole that no matter what, Waverly found her attractive.

“Eyes are up here, babe.” Nicole smirked down at Waverly.

“Huh?” Waverly shook her head and looked up at Nicole with a wide smile. “But what if I like my view down here.” Her eyes diverted back to Nicole’s abs.

Nicole’s therapist helped her off the bar and back into her chair. She grabbed Waverly’s hand. “I did request for you to be here today. It’s an important day and I wanted you to be here.” Nicole took a deep breath. “I needed you to be here. I...I don’t think I’m strong enough without you here.”

Waverly cupped Nicole’s face in her hands. Her thumbs gently caressing Nicole’s cheeks. “You listen to me, you are the strongest woman that I know. You are extraordinary, Nicole Haught, do you hear me? You are beautiful. And smart. And sexy. And if I had to dream up the perfect woman, she still couldn’t reach you.” Waverly’s eyes went wide as the words slipped from her lips. “I...I’m sorry. I got carried away.” Waverly went to pull away but Nicole grabbed her hands.

“S...say it again?”

“What?”

“Say it again? Please?”

“You’re extraordinary.”

“Not that.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“Not that.”

“You’re smart?” Nicole shook her head. “You’re sexy?” She shook her head again. Her eyes pleaded with Waverly. “Oh. I know.” Waverly placed a small kiss on Nicole’s lips. “You.” she kissed her again. “Are.” Her words were met with another kiss. “Perfect.” Waverly kissed her again. “Just the way you are.”

“Yeah. That.” A small tear slipped down Nicole’s cheek. She closed her eyes, melting into Waverly’s touch.

“You will always be perfect to me, Cole. Always.” Waverly placed another kiss on Nicole’s forehead. This was the most hands on she had been with Nicole and she knew she might be overstepping but she felt it was what Nicole needed right now.

“Sheriff, are you ready?” Her therapist asked from behind them, holding the big waist high braces in his hands. “Now, Nicole, please remember that our goal today is just to get you to stand. No pressure for anything ok?”

“I understand.” Nicole took in a deep breath and finally backed away from Waverly. She wheeled herself towards her therapist, Waverly keeping a hand on her shoulder for as long as she could. Her trainer placed the braces around her hips and legs. Taking one last glance at Waverly, Nicole looked back at her trainer. “Let’s do this.”

Waverly stood off to the side, just behind the trainer but enough to be out of the way. She gave Nicole a big smile.

“Ok, Nicole, I am going to spot you. I want you to put your arms on the walker and push yourself up but don’t get frustrated if you can’t get it the first try. It may take a few tries.”

“Got it.” Nicole did as her therapist said and pushed herself half way up before her left arm gave out and she was flopped back into her wheel chair already angry. They tried 5 more times before Nicole slammed her fists down on the arms of her wheelchair. “Fuck!”

“Hey, it’s ok. What are you feeling right now?”

“Angry. Fucking angry that my god damn legs don’t fucking work!”

“Hey. It’s ok to feel that way. Is there a place or time you didn’t feel angry since you became paralyzed?” Nicole looked over her shoulder at Waverly, who was still standing off to the side, smiling sweetly at her even with her outburst. The therapist looked to Waverly and then back to Nicole. “I want you to try one more time but this time...” He reached out to Waverly who took his hand. He pulled Waverly in front of Nicole. “This time, you are to focus on her. No other emotion. Just her.”

Nicole nodded as the therapist walked behind Nicole’s chair. “I’m right here, Cole. I’m waiting to feel your arms around me.” Waverly whispered into Nicole’s ear. “You can do it.” Nicole closed her eyes and inhaled deeply before opening her eyes and exhaling. She gripped the handles of the walker and looked up at Waverly. Nicole’s eyes trailed down Waverly’s body and back up, focusing on her lips. Waverly smirked when she realized where Nicole was looking. “If you want to kiss them, get up here and do it.”

Nicole grinned. She pushed herself up, leaning more on her right side. It was slow and not steady at all but Nicole finally pushed passed the pain she was feeling in her lower back and her legs, pushing herself into a standing position.

Waverly’s eyes went wide and her smile went wider than that. “Oh my god. Baby, you did it!”

Nicole couldn’t wait as she pulled Waverly forward into a celebratory kiss. Waverly’s arms wrapped around Nicole’s waist as her therapist pulled the walker out of the way after noticing that Waverly had her. Nicole’s arms were shaky as she held on to Waverly, who had tears running down her face. “Waves? What’s wrong?”

“I..I’m just so proud of you, Cole.” Waverly buried her face in Nicole’s shoulder. “It feels good to be in your arms again.”

“I like having you in my arms again but...”

“You’re in pain, aren’t you?” Waverly spoke with concern in her voice.

“Very much.”

“You did well, Nicole. Let’s sit you back down.” Her therapist placed a hand on Nicole’s back, slowly helping her back down into her chair. Nicole couldn’t help but notice the biggest smile on Waverly’s face and the tears of happiness still flowing down her face. Nicole loved that no matter how long Waverly had been in the military, she hadn’t become hardened. She hadn’t lost her compassion for others.

Waverly gripped a gym towel in her hands and wrapped it around Nicole’s neck. “You did so great, love.”

“Thank you for being here.”

“I don’t want to be anywhere else, Cole.” Waverly looked away shyly while trying to get her emotions in check. She cleared her throat. “Let’s get you home, tiger.” She turned to Nicole’s therapist. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for her so far. You have no idea how much we appreciate it.”

“It’s my pleasure, Waverly. Honestly. I have some experimental braces coming in that could be a game changer for all my patients.” He turned his attention to Nicole. “I’m hoping you’ll be my first patient to use them.”

“Could they help me walk sooner?”

“That’s the hope.”

“Then count me in. When do they come in?”

“Within the next few weeks, I’d say, but I will only you be the first to try them if you take tomorrow off and spend it with your beautiful girlfriend.”

Nicole choked out a cough. “No..no we’re not....”

“You bet she will. Right, sweetie?” Waverly leaned down and whispered the last part into Nicole’s ear, which caused a shiver to escape Nicole’s body.

“Yes. Yes. I will take tomorrow off.”

“Perfect. You two have a great day tomorrow. And great work today, Nicole. I mean it.”

 

Waverly stood in front of her full length mirror. She had gone back to the homestead to get ready for their date, knowing that her and Nicole’s nerves were probably a little too high to be around each other for the rest of the day. She held up a blue sundress and then switched it out for a white one with sunflowers on it. She went back and forth between them, not realizing Wynonna was standing in the doorway watching the younger Earp.

“You know Haughtstuff won’t care what you are wearing, right?”

“H...how did you know I was getting dressed up for Nicole?”

“You only have that stupid smile on your face when it has something to do with her. Y’all going on a date tonight?”

“Yes. She asked me.” Waverly kept switching them in and out, still trying to get the look just right.

“Still doing that casual, no strings attached thing?” Wynonna said as she leaned into the doorjam, arms crossed in front of her.

“You know we can’t be more than that, Nonna. It wouldn’t be fair to either of us for me to leave soon.”

“How soon?”

“1 month, 3 weeks, 4 days and 2 hours. That’s what I have left with her.”

“Then why don’t you stay? For her? She needs you, Waves. Fuck, I need you.”

“You know I can’t just leave, Nonna. I’m enlisted for another 3 years. After that, then maybe I’ll get out. I don’t know.”

“Are you telling me that with all the time you’ve spent with her over the last month that you haven’t fallen in love with her, Waves? Can you honestly tell me that cuz shit, after a month with her, I had the hots for Haught sauce.”

“Ew. Nonna! Stop!”

“I’m serious, Babygirl. How do you feel about her?”

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about her. In 2 months I’ll be gone.” Waverly made eye contact with Wynonna in the mirror reflection, her eyes telling Wynonna all she needed to know.

“You and I both know this isn’t just a casual thing for you anymore, is it, Babygirl?”

“You are not wrong in your assumptions.” Waverly looked to her dressed, not wanting Wynonna to see her blush. Waverly huffed and sat on the edge of the bed with a pout. “No one has ever made me feel as wanted as she does. I mean that wasn’t you, ya know?”

Wynonna took a seat next to her baby sister. “She brings out the best in you, you know?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I feel like I have my sister back again. Usually when you come home, you are hardened. Like the military had changed you but since you’ve been around her, you...”

“Seem to have found myself again?”

“Yes...”

“I feel it too, Nonna. I feel like more and more of me is coming back and I’m terrified to go back. I’m afraid to lose myself again.”

“Then don’t. I don’t mean that as not go back. I mean when you go back, you think about who’s waiting for you back home. Me, Gus, Chrissy, Nedley, Dolls, Doc, and most importantly Nicole because while you are gone fighting in a war, she’s going to be fighting her own war here.”

“Promise me that you’ll take care of her, Nonna. Promise me?”

“Of course. I’ll take her out to Shorty’s to find a shorty and th...”

“Nonna! I’m serious! I need to know that she’s going to be ok without me here. I can’t be ok with going back unless I know she is going to be ok. I need to know you guys are going to watch out for the woman I love while away. I can’....” Waverly’s hand clamped over her own mouth, her eyes wide. She made eye contact with Wynonna, who’s eyes were just as wide. She pointed at Waverly.

“I knew it! Oh my god! I knew it! Hahahaha.”

“Nonna, shut up! Shut up! Don’t you say another word! Get out!” Waverly started to shove her sister off the bed.

“Wait. Wait. When did you know?”

Waverly stopped shoving Wynonna and truly thought about her question. “I honestly don’t know. One night I was laying in bed with her, my head on her chest just listening to her heartbeat knowing that she almost lost her life to save you. The most important person in my life.” Waverly looked at Wynonna with a tear in her eye. “You are my world, Nonna and she knew that. She saved you so that I wouldn’t have to lose anyone else not realizing that I don’t know what I would have done had I lost her.” Waverly looked down at her hands, nervously fumbling with them. “So, I laid there, listening to that wonderful, strong, beautiful heart of hers and I knew I wanted to hear it every night for the rest of my life but I can’t get involved with her, not until I’m out of the military. You understand why, don’t you?”

“Oh, babygirl, I understand. I understand and you are my world too, Babygirl. You always have been.” Wynonna pulled Waverly into a tight hug. “I’m sorry I never told you enough. Maybe then you wouldn’t have left.”

“You showed me more than anyone what love was! You were the reason I joined the military, Nonna. I wanted to be something better than what the Earp name put on us. I wanted to make you proud.”

“You’ve always made me proud, Waverly! Always! Don’t you ever forget that, Babygirl but let me tell ya something, you may take the girl out of the shitshow but you can’t take the shitshow out of the girl.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been drinking. Leave me alone.” Wynonna stood up and straightened out her leather jacket. “I’m going out for #34 with Dolls and Doc. Have fun tonight and do stuff that I would do, would ya?”

“As long as you promise to be safe, please?” Wynonna gave a simple nod before heading out the door. She stopped at the doorway, her hand resting against the door as she turned around.

“You know, you’re the best of us, Babygirl. You always have been.” Wynonna gave her a smile and a wink. “Our family never deserved you, Babygirl.”