2 weeks later:
Nicole and Wynonna had made their way to their usual camping spot, overlooking a lake. They knew they were in no condition to do this trip themselves, so they invited their friends along but only if they agreed to leave Nicole and Wynonna to themselves for their bonding trip. Everyone agreed, purchasing the campsites that surrounded Nicole and Wynonna’s. Dolls and Doc arrived early, setting up the tent which was one of those tent-cots. It was the perfect height for Nicole to transfer from her wheelchair into the bed.
Everyone knew they would see the two and that they would spend time with the group but everyone also understood that these yearly camping trips were a tradition for Nicole and Wynonna and it was their way of bonding with each other, away from prying eyes and the talk of the town.
It was the first night of camping and Wynonna and Nicole decided to join their friends for roasting marshmellows and getting drunk. “Thanks for inviting all of us, you guys. We know how much this trip means to you.” Chrissy said as she sipped her Blue Moon.
“Here, here!” Dolls raised his glass to the two women and everyone followed suite, honored to be with them.
“How are you feeling, Nic?” Erin asked her sister and then looked to Wynonna. “And how bout you, Wynonna?”
“I’m doing ok, Rin. My back hurts still and has one hellva bruise but overall, I’m doing ok.”
“I still can’t believe the hit dislodged a fragment of the bullet. How lucky was that?” Jethro asked, looking at his baby sister.
“It was about the only good thing to come from that attack.” Nicole spoke softly.
“Waverly still pissed off at us?” Wynonna looked to her best friend for an answer both of them already knew.
“Oh, she’s pretty damn heated.” Nicole laughed. “But she’s so damn cute when she’s mad.”
“You say that now, but you know she’ll kick your ass when she gets home.” Chrissy added. “She’s small but damn she can be mean.”
Chrissy comment made the group laugh. “She can’t honestly blame us for that fight though, right?” Erin asked.
“Well, she understands what happened but she’s mainly mad at me for not getting myself out of the middle of the fight.”
“Nicole, that asshole would have come for you no matter where you were in that bar.”
“I know that but Waves...she’s just upset. I think she’s more upset that I got hurt and she isn’t here. Which I understand but as Sheriff, in this wheelchair or not, it is my responsibility to stop a situation from getting worse. I run into danger while others run away from it.”
“That just sounds stupid, Haughtpants.”
“Well, now there are two of us on the force!” Jethro raised his bottle towards his sister in a show of appreciation.
“This town is in for it now.” Chrissy chuckled. “You Haughts don’t know how to stay out of trouble.” Jethro smiled that damn dimpled smile towards Chrissy and she couldn’t help but shy away with a smile of her own.
It had come out over the last couple days that Jethro was bisexual. He had confessed a crush on Jeremy and one of Chrissy as well. Nicole just leaned back and watched as the trio flirted with each other. Maggie sat on the ground next to Nicole and smiled. “Oh, that Haught charm.” She stated with a sigh. “Sucks us all in.”
“I still can’t believe you are dating my sister. That is so crazy to me.” Nicole smiled at her friend.
Maggie watched as Erin and Wynonna headed off into the woods, probably to pee, and she pulled a ring box from her pocket and held it up to Nicole. “Will you please give me your blessing?” She softly asked Nicole so the other’s didn’t hear.
“Why are you asking me? Why not ask Jethro?”
“Because no one’s blessing means more to her...to me...than yours.”
“Do you truly, 100% love her?”
“With everything that I am, Cole. Every ounce of my soul and my heart belongs to that woman.”
“Then you have my blessing, not that you ever needed it.” Nicole handed the ring box back to Maggie, who slid it into her pocket. “Welcome to the family, Mags.”
“Thanks, Cole.” Maggie leaned her head against the outside of Nicole’s leg. “You think you’ll marry Waverly one day?” Maggie asked honestly.
“I mean, we’re not even dating.”
“That’s not a no.” Maggie wiggled her eyebrows and smiled.
“You’re right. It’s not a no. and to answer your question, yes. If she’ll have me, I would love to marry her one day.”
“And you’re really going to wait 3 years for her to get out of the military?”
“I’ve waited 27 years to find a woman like her, I’m sure I can wait a little longer.” After a bit of silence, Nicole looked towards the stars and then at the group of friends, who were all off in their own little conversations with each other. Laughing and smiling, drinking and just enjoy each other’s company. “I can’t believe we survived, Mags.”
“I can’t believe we did, either.”
“I can’t believe you are sitting here with me. Getting to know my new family. These people, they’re good, Maggie. Real good. They sacrifice everything for a town that looks down their nose at them. It amazes me how selfless they are. They really are the best of this town, ya know?” Nicole smiled out at her friends, beaming with pride as she talked about them.
“And what about you, Nicole? You sacrificed yourself for myself and for Wynonna. I would say that makes you the best of us.”
“No because honestly, I do it because I’m selfish. I protect those I love to the highest of my ability because I cannot imagine living a life without them there.”
“That’s a lie, Nicole and you I know both know it.”
“Because, you didn’t know me. You sacrificed yourself to save a stranger.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Maggie. I did love you, like you were part of my family because at that time, in that place, you were all I had to hold on to. I had lost everything and everyone when I went there. I had nothing to survive for, other than out of complete spite. You don’t realize how much you saved my life as much as I saved yours.”
“But look at us now! Completely head over heals in love with two amazing women. And still gay.” Maggie smiled as Nicole laughed.
“Definitely still gay.”
“You got a picture of that woman of yours? I wanna see if she’s as hot as all you guys keep saying!” Nicole rummaged through her jacket pocket and found the one of Waverly that was “for her eyes only”. “Eh if she can show off mine, I’ll show off hers.” Nicole laughed to herself and handed the photo to Maggie.
Maggie’s jaw dropped. “Holy fuck, Haught! She’s absolutely beautiful.” She didn’t stare long at the photo, out of respect for Nicole and handed it back to her.
“Yes, she is.”
Wynonna walked up behind Nicole and slapped her on the shoulder. “Havin them impure thoughts about my baby sister again?”
Nicole let out a hefty laugh. “Always.”
Dolls turned on the radio he had brought and held out a hand to Wynonna. “I don’t usually dance, but I do owe you one.” Wynonna smirked and handed her bottle of whiskey to Nicole before taking Dolls hand. Jethro asked Chrissy to dance, while Erin took Maggie away from her conversation with Nicole. Jeremy slid over to Nicole.
“How ya doing, Nicole?”
“I’m doing really good, actually.” She smiled out at her friends as she took pictures on her phone. Dolls sat on the other side of Nicole.
“These are the true memories you often speak of, are they not?”
“They are, Doc. These times are what makes everything I’ve been through worth it.”
“Yet, I see a hint of sadness in those eyes.” Doc placed his hand on Nicole’s. “You are missin’ Miss Waverly?”
“Very much, Doc. We’re almost to 5 months since she’s been gone and I find it harder and harder to read her letters.”
“Why’s that?” Jeremy shifted closer to his friend.
“I guess I’m just waiting for my father to ruin it. He always does.”
“Are you still frettin’ about his visit?”
“I am. Unsettling, honestly.”
“Is he a vengeful man?”
“There’s no telling what he will do, Jeremy.”
“Maybe I should ask Dolls to dig into him a little bit. See what he’s up too.”
“I would appreciate it, Jer. I don’t trust that man as far as I can throw him.” Nicole looked at Doc. “Thank you for coming to my sister’s aid during that fight.”
“I do not appreciate a beautiful lady gettin’ hurt at the hands of a male. She did not deserve what he was shouting at her. None of you did, Sheriff.”
“Unfortunately, I am use to it but I appreciate it none the less.” Nicole lounged back and looked at the stars. “You never truly take in their beauty until you’ve been put in a situation where you won’t see them again.” Both of her friends knew what she meant. Doc having spent his time in that abandoned well and Jeremy, when he almost died in the car accident as a child. Nicole headed for her tent, deciding to call it a night. Wynonna decided to go with her so that they could have some quality time together. Their friends, on the other hand, decided to hang out, have fun and keep dancing.
As the two got comfortable in their tent, Wynonna offered Nicole some whiskey, which she gladly took. “You know, I don’t know what would have happened if you would had died saving me, Haught.” This was part of their bonding time and why they did their camping trips. For the most part, the trips were spent drinking and hanging out around the fire where the two would air out anything that had been bothering them since the last time they had gone on the camping trip. It was their way of keeping the lines of communications open but not overstepping.
“You would have kept kicking ass, Wyn. You’re the strongest woman I know. Other than your sister.” Nicole handed the bottle back to Wynonna.
“You give me far too much credit.” Wynonna took a long drink from the bottle, wiping tears from her eyes. “You took a fucking bullet for me dude. Like...who does that shit?”
“I wasn’t going to let you die, Wynonna. Why do you have such a hard time believing that someone actually fucking loves you?”
“Because no one has ever loved me other than Waverly.” She spoke softly, her lips still pressed to the whiskey bottle.
“Well, get over it. I love you and I’m willing to die for you, you fucker.”
“Getting paralyzed has made you mean, Haughty.”
“I am a bit cranky because of it, yes.” She stole the bottle from Wynonna, taking a longer drink then Wynonna did.
“So...what are your intentions with my baby sister, Haughtstuff.” Wynonna nudged her with a smile.
“To have as much sex with her as possible.” Nicole smirked.
“Ew! No! Stop!”
“It’s really good, by the way. You should have seen what she did in the shower before she le...”
Wynonna clamped her hand over Nicole’s mouth. “No! No! Shut your mouth!” Nicole smiled under Wynonna’s hand. “Seriously Haught, like...”
“I love her, Wyn and I’m telling you right here, right now, I will be marrying your sister one day.”
“Hmm...I guess you wouldn’t be so bad to have around the house.”
“You’re that typical lesbian. You can fix just about anything that breaks.”
“Because I’m a lesbian, that’s why you want me around?”
“No. I want you around because you fix things. The lesbian part just makes you stereotypical.”
“Shut up and go to sleep.” Nicole laughed at her friend, laying back to get comfy and closing her eyes. She drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
3 hours later:
Nicole awoke with a topless Wynonna laying on top of her. It wasn’t unusual for Wynonna to strip in her sleep as she always got to hot but being on top of Nicole was a new one.
“What the fuck, Wynonna!”
“I...uh...had to pee and you’re next to the door.” Wynonna was still shifting around on top of Nicole, trying to wiggle the door open.
Nicole shoved Wynonna off, back to her side of the tent. “You have a door on your side too, ya dipshit!”
Wynonna glanced over, finally remember the door she had came in when she had gotten in the tent. “Oh damn...you won’t tell Waverly about this, will ya?” Wynonna asked as she unzipped the tent.
“Ohhhh, you bet your ass I am.” Nicole grumbled as she adjusted to her side a little to go back to sleep.
The group decided it was time to head out for the lake. Dolls and Doc had scouted ahead 3 days before they had come up to clear a path so that Nicole could get her wheelchair down to the lake with no issues.
After packing a lunch and of course the alcohol, the group made the 1 hour hike down the lake. It was a beautiful morning. The sun sparkled across the water as if it were on fire. It was still a little cold to go swimming so Jethro and Jeremy started a fire on the beach and the friends all sat around, staying warm and enjoying each other’s company.
Maggie glanced over to Nicole and gave her a game winning smile. It was time. Maggie and Erin walked a few steps onto the beach, out in front of the group. Nicole a little ways back with her camera in hand. “Smile you two!” Nicole demanded. They did and Nicole snapped the photo. “No, no...lighting is all wrong. Mags, why don’t you stand behind Rin and wrap your arms around her.”
Maggie nodded. “Great idea!” She stood behind Erin and wrapped her arms around her waist, the small box in her hand. Erin still hadn’t noticed. As Nicole started snapping pictures, she pressed record. “Hey E?”
“Yeah baby?” Erin just kept smiling at the Nicole and the camera.
“Will you marry me?” Maggie softly whispered in Erin’s ear. Erin’s smile faded into one of shock. Maggie kept her arms around Erin, resting her chin on Erin’s shoulder as she opened the box in her hand, revealing the black band with blue sapphires.
“Will you do me the honor of spending the rest of our lives together?”
“This is where you say yes, stupid!” Jethro yelled at his older sister.
That was just enough to snap Erin out of her daze and she shook her head yes more times than Nicole thought was humanly possible. “Yes. Yes! Oh my god! Yes, baby!” Erin turned in Maggie’s arm, giving her a massive kiss before Maggie slipped the ring onto her finger.
“I thought you were going to say no for a second.”
“No. Never because....” Erin had motioned for Jethro. He ran up and handed Erin a ring he had been holding for her. Erin knelt down on one knee, holding the ring up to Maggie. “I had planned on proposing tonight.” Erin laughed. “Since I’m down here and all. Dr. Maggie Hendrickson, will you do me the honor of being my wife?”
“Nothing would make me happier.” Maggie answered with the biggest smile. Erin slipped the diamond ring on Maggie’s finger and stood up to pull her into another hug. Maggie looked at Nicole. “You knew about both, didn’t you?”
“Guilty as charged.” Nicole said with a laugh. She looked to the group of friends. “Who had this morning in the pool?”
“Y’all bet on which one of us was going to propose first?”
“Looks like you win it, Wynonna!”
“Haha! Fork over the cash, suckers!” Dolls handed Wynonna the winnings and she folded them into her pocket.
The rest of the day at the lake went well. Music blasting, the water was the perfect temp and the company was great. The sun was starting to set when...
“Breaking news out of the USA.” The radio blared an emergency warning. “American base has been attacked in Iraq. Multiple casualties. Isis has taken full credit for the attack that happened at 0200.” A male voice came over the radio. “We are assessing the situation. Troops have been deployed to assist in extraction of the wounded.” Everyone froze. Nicole felt her heart stop as she waited to hear more. “We do know there are casualties from all branches, including some Canadian troops, Iraqi troops and from the USA. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were lost in this horrible attack.”