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Eager Beaver

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On Monday morning, Waverly scurried through the mall, her steps echoing across the predominantly empty space. It was 8:10am, and as usual she was ten minutes late to work. 

She rounded the corner into the open square, fully intent on making a beeline through the centre, followed by a flustered entrance into the coffee shop with a whirlwind of flapping aprons and profuse apologies for being late. Again.

She halted.

The usually empty square was cordoned off; the space occupied by a firetruck, a scattering of tables, an inexplicable number of red plastic firefighter helmets, an Amazon jungle of colouring pages, and a handful of firefighters in slacks and navy t-shirts.

And, for some reason, a giant beaver.

Wearing a giant firefighter tunic, and a giant firefighter hat.

The group of firefighters laughed, seemingly at something the ridiculous beaver mascot had said, and Waverly furrowed her brow, her curiosity piquing.

She stared, unnecessarily intrigued as she rounded the cordoned square in the direction of her coffee shop.

And walked straight into a rope-bearing pole with an obnoxiously loud clatter.

She blushed, holding her hand up in apology as the startled faces of five firefighters and a giant beaver whipped in her direction.

“Sorry! Morning!” She called, waving cheerily as she backed away, her cheeks burning with embarrassment.

The firefighters chuckled, various greetings sounding across the square before they turned their focus back to their group.

Except the ridiculous beaver.

The large shiny eyes and the plush, oversized cheeks stayed turned in Waverly’s direction, and a padded, gloved hand gave a half-wave.

It would almost have been cute, if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

Waverly giggled, waving back as she crossed the last of the square. As she finally pushed her way through the doors of the coffee shop, Waverly was about ninety percent sure the beaver was still watching her.

"Morning Robin, sorry I'm late!" She called, honeying her voice the best she could as she quickly stashed her things, and dashed behind the counter beside her boss. She waved a thumb in the general direction of the square outside. "What's with the, uh…?”

"The squirrel thing?" Robin tossed Waverly her apron, folding his arms as he leaned back against the counter.

"Pretty sure it's a beaver," Waverly chuckled. 

"Fire department is running a safety course for kids,” Robin explained. “They’re there all week. The chipmunk is some kind of mascot.”

"Reckon the beaver is a firefighter?" Waverly grinned.

"I'd put money on it being the rookie,” Robin laughed. “Seems like it’d be the short straw."

Waverly quickly forgot about her beaver run-in as the day progressed, and the shop filled with the usual chaos of a weekday morning. Waverly never minded the rush. It made the day go quickly, and she was always happier when she was busy. By the time the lunchtime rush came around, Waverly was in high spirits, and whistling as she whipped around the workspace, preparing the orders as Robin took them from face after face after face.

Until one particular face stopped her in her tracks.

She slowed, her whistle dropping almost comically as their newest customer approached the counter.

Well shave a goose and call her Sally, this woman was gorgeous.

The red hair, the warm eyes, the dimples...

Waverly was suddenly very jealous of Robin as she watched her colleague take the woman’s order, and she kicked herself for letting her boss man the counter instead of her.

It didn’t particularly help that the woman was wearing surprisingly little clothing for the mild weather. Gym clothes, presumably. Light track shorts exposed unfairly long legs, and a tight t-shirt made it literally impossible for Waverly to keep her eyes from taking in the soft curves of the woman’s chest and her waist. 

Waverly was pretty certain she had never had such a viscerally physical reaction to someone she’d never spoken to, and she was well aware that she was staring.

But she couldn’t stop.

“Cappuccino, Wave!” 

Robin’s voice calling out the order snapped Waverly’s focus back to her surroundings, and she flicked her eyes sheepishly up to the customer’s face.

She blushed, her stomach flipping as she was met with amused, sparkling mocha eyes watching her own. The redhead chuckled softly, her dimples deepening, and Waverly practically felt her composure disintegrate to dust around her.

“Waverly?” Robin clicked his fingers.

Waverly jumped.

Christ.

Right.

Customers.

She busied herself with the machine, her eyes pulling like magnets to the gorgeous redhead at every given opportunity. She bit her lip, butterflies surging her stomach as her gaze met warm, intrigued mocha every time.

Waverly was still staring, practically mesmerised, as the redhead finally took her drink and made her way back across the shop floor. 

Those puppy eyes and irresistible dimples turned in Waverly’s direction one last time, and the redhead gave a grin and an adorable half-wave before she slipped out of the door.

Waverly sighed.

If she was lucky, this wouldn’t be the last time the unfamiliar face entered the coffee shop, and next time, Waverly could serve the woman.

And maybe ask her out. 

Or at least get a name.

 

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~🌻  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



On Tuesday morning, Waverly scurried through the mall, late as goddamn always. 

In her daily morning routine of flapping around her home in a state of mild panic, and tearing through the streets of Purgatory in a desperate rush to at least make it to work before the customers did, Waverly had completely forgotten about the square, the firefighters, and their beaver mascot.

Until she rounded the corner.

The stupid beaver was perched on the end of a table, webbed feet swinging aimlessly as it chatted to the group of firefighters around it.

Waverly suppressed a smirk.

She was usually a little creeped out by these. There was something about the expressionless exteriors, and the way the chunky costumes always masked any possible clues as to who was behind the glassy eyes, that always unsettled her a little.  

But there was something about this thing that just seemed… harmlessly cute.

And she had no idea why!

The moment Waverly stepped out across the square, the beaver jumped up. Its thick gloved hand waved animatedly in Waverly's direction, and the brunette laughed openly at the ridiculous display.

She shook her head, grinning as she waved back.

Just as Waverly reached the coffee shop, the padded glove moved up to the beaver’s mouth and away, presenting what the brunette could only assume was a kiss being blown in her direction.

She giggled.

This thing made absolutely no sense, but it was certainly making for an interesting start to her mornings.

But the morning was busier than ever, and by lunchtime, Waverly had once again forgotten all about the beaver.

What she hadn’t forgotten though, was the disgustingly sexy redhead who had melted Waverly’s entire body into a useless pile of rainbow mush the day before, and as the lunchtime rush geared up again, she was really hoping she might get another chance to talk to the woman.

And she was in luck.

The moment the door pushed open, Waverly’s heart was in her throat.

Jesus.

The woman somehow looked impossibly sexier today. Tousled strands of her red hair fell loose from her ruffled plait, just a little sweaty as they clung to her brow, and her cheeks were tinted with the lightest of pink. Her shorts were tighter today, and the t-shirt had been swapped for a tank that was just not helping Waverly’s state of useless bisexual.

“I got this!” Waverly yelped, practically shoving Robin out of the way as the redhead reached the counter.

She was not making that mistake again.

"Hi, welcome to Busy Beans!" She blurted, her voice ringing almost as flustered as she felt as deep mocha eyes met her own. "I'm Waverly."

"Waverly?” The redhead smiled widely, her dimples utterly flooring the brunette. “It's nice to meet you Waverly. I'm Nicole."

"Hi,” Waverly breathed. Nicole’s voice was somehow every bit as sexy as her face was, and Waverly was having a really hard time remembering who or what she was, and how humans were supposed to form words. She blushed. “W-what uh… what brings you here?"

Nicole smirked.

Waverly blushed harder.

"Well, I was thinking maybe I could get a coffee around here somewhere?" Nicole teased, her eyes sparkling playfully. "Maybe a cappuccino to go?"

Waverly swallowed.

She wanted to say something. 

Preferably something that would result in a date, but she was very certain her tongue would not be co-operating with her brain enough for that right now.

So anything that would keep Nicole here just a little longer would have to do.

"Can I get you anything else?"

Nicole grinned.

"Yeah, actually.” She leaned her hands on the counter, dropping her body a little until her eyes were level with Waverly’s. “I was thinking maybe I could get your..."

Nicole’s words cut off with a sheepish blush as Robin appeared behind Waverly’s shoulder, pushing the cappuccino across the counter.

Then the door swung open, and the obscene racket of a huge group of schoolchildren piling incredibly noisily into the coffee shop drowned out any hope Waverly had of spending any more time unprofessionally flirting with a customer on the clock. 

She sighed.

"I'm so sorry, Nicole, what was it you wanted?" 

"Nothing!" Nicole shook her head, her cheeks tinting a little redder than they had been already. "I-it was nothing. How much for the cappuccino?"

"It's on the house!” Waverly assured, her smile widening as Nicole’s dimples popped. “See you tomorrow?"

Nicole grinned, holding her hand out in a half-wave.

"Bright and early!"

Only later, when Waverly had finished serving the impossibly long line, did she realise how odd that statement was, when both times Nicole had come in, it had been after noon. 

 

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~🌻  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Waverly was ready for her beaver run-in on Wednesday morning.

And so was the beaver.

It waved, blew her a kiss, and then before Waverly could even think about returning the gesture, it was up and scurrying across the square in the direction of the coffee shop.

Waverly furrowed her brow.

What was this thing doing this time?

She giggled, her eyes creasing into half-moons as the ridiculous rodent slipped its padded glove through the door of the coffee shop and pulled it back, dipping its chunky legs in something Waverly could only assume was supposed to resemble a curtsey as she approached.

She shook her head. 

Rather unfortunately, it wasn’t passing her by that the most chivalrous behaviour she had ever experienced was coming from an oversized beaver in a plastic firefighter hat.

She grinned as she reached the door. 

“Are you a beaver?” She wriggled her eyebrows. “Cause dam, you got manners…”

She cringed immediately.

What was wrong with her?

The beaver’s head wobbled a little, its gloved hand landing on its stomach, and Waverly buried her face in her hands as she realised the person on the other side of the mask was clearly laughing at her.

Or with her, maybe.

Hopefully.

She blushed, shaking her head as she stepped past the beaver and into the coffee shop. The beaver blew another kiss, and closed the door behind her with its adorable little half-wave.

Waverly sighed.

Why were these interactions so strangely enjoyable?

Cute. If a little weird.

“Does that beaver flirt with you?” She asked Robin as she pulled her apron over her head.

“No…” Robin laughed, his nose wrinkling and his brow creasing. “The adorable firefighter does though. At least I think he does… sometimes his sentences are just jumbles of stuttered words.”

Waverly chuckled. She knew exactly which firefighter Robin was referring to. The man had been into the coffee shop three times a day at a minimum, and the fumbled attempts at conversation were a million percent his awkward attempts at seduction.

“Why?” Robin raised an eyebrow. “Does the beaver flirt with you?”

“I… think so?” 

Robin shook his head, biting back a smirk.

“Your life is ridiculous.” He grinned. “So many beaver-magnet jokes…”

Waverly thought about the beaver more than she probably should have done that morning. But still not nearly as much as she thought about Nicole.

Probably not as much as she talked about Nicole, either, if Robin’s literal squeak when the redhead appeared in the doorway at lunchtime was anything to go by.

"Waverly, your crush is here," Robin sang.

Loudly.

"Oh my god,” Waverly hissed, pushing him back from the counter with a deep blush and a desperate glare as Nicole approached. “What did I ever do to you?"

Robin grinned.

"Just helping a girl out."

"Hey, Nicole," Waverly breathed, her heart beating so hard in her chest she was a little worried she might pass out. "T-the usual?"

Nicole’s eyebrows arched, her eyes wide in visible surprise, and Wavery’s stomach swooped at the slow, lopsided grin that spread across those irresistible lips.

"You know my drink?" 

Waverly blushed.

"This is the third time you've been in this week.” She shrugged. “And I never forget an order."

"So…” Nicole leaned forward over the counter, her eyes practically burning into Waverly’s as she let a cheeky smirk toy with the corners of her lips. “It's not because I'm special?"

Waverly blushed harder.

It really felt like those shorts and that tank were getting tighter every day, and Waverly was pretty sure it was a test sent from her own personal heaven and hell combined.

"Waverly, what's my drink order?" Robin grinned way too smugly as he pushed Nicole’s drink across the counter.

"What?"

"I've been your boss for three years, what's my drink order?"

"Uh…” Waverly gritted her teeth, shooting Robin a death glare. “V-vanilla spiced latte?”

Robin scrunched his nose.

Nicole chuckled.

“C-caramel macchiato?” Waverly tried.

Robin shook his head disdainfully, his stupid smug face getting even more stupidly smug as he grinned, pushing his way through the back doors and into the storeroom.

Waverly sighed.

Why did the universe hate her?

"Busted." Nicole smirked.

Waverly grinned.

Fine.

If she was busted anyway, she might as well throw all caution to the wind, and go for it.

"Okay, so maybe…" she murmured, leaning her own elbows on the counter. "I never forget an order with a face like yours."

"Well maybe you should tell this face your drink order,” Nicole murmured. “So that I can buy you a coffee sometime?"

Waverly’s stomach clenched.

Maybe the universe loved her after all.

She dropped her voice a little, letting her eyes flick between Nicole’s gaze and her lips for the briefest of moments.

"Maybe you should take my drink order, and my num..."

Waverly’s words were cut off as the storeroom door swung open, and Robin dropped an entire box of glass coffee jars over the threshold.

Waverly groaned.

No.

The universe really did hate her.

"It’s on the house, Nicole,” Waverly sighed, shooting the redhead her best apologetic look. “But can we pick this up again tomorrow?" 

Nicole grinned, tilting her drink in Waverly’s direction.

"Bright and early!"



  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~🌻  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



On Thursday morning, Waverly was weirdly excited for her beaver run-in. It was a cute little way to start her day, and she quite looked forward to seeing what it would do next.

And it did not disappoint.

The chunky mascot was waiting for her this time, outside the coffee shop door.

With a goddamn sunflower in its sausage fingers.

Waverly couldn't fight her laughter as the ridiculous mascot blew her its kiss, then brought the flower to its nose before holding it out for the brunette to take.

She rolled her eyes at the sheer insanity.

"You're a charmer," she grinned, patting the beaver’s chubby, whiskered cheek as she took the flower. "Don't you have a… a lady beaver you can focus all this attention on?"

The beaver laughed.

Outright.

And Waverly was sure, for the very first time, that this was a woman.

Which was… unexpected.

And something about it made it even more adorable.

She shook her head as she slipped behind the counter, the ridiculousness of the situation amusing her endlessly. She grabbed an empty juice bottle, filling it with water and placing her sunflower in it in pride of place on the countertop.

"What's with the flower?" Robin nudged her hip.

"It was a gift."

"The ferret?" Robin raised an eyebrow.

"The beaver, yeah. How did you know?"

"Because I'm not blind," Robin chuckled, shaking his head.

Waverly frowned.

"What does that mean?"

Robin blinked.

"Wait, really?" He laughed, his eyes widening in disbelief. "You haven't sussed?"

“Sussed what?”  

Robin’s jaw dropped, his eyes baffled as he searched Waverly’s face.

"Wave, it’s clearly…" He trailed off, his shock bleeding into a painfully mischievous smirk. "Actually, you know what, it’s way more fun to let you figure this out yourself."

Waverly thought a lot about the beaver that morning. Did she know this person?

Robin certainly seemed to think she should. 

She was very sure she didn’t know anyone in the fire service, but if they were the rookie then maybe she just didn’t know that someone had joined?

As much as the beaver's identity played on her mind however, she still had one thing she thought about infinitely more.

And by the time Nicole came in at lunchtime, Waverly was practically begging the universe to keep its nose out of her efforts to ask the woman out.

She really needed a little romance in her life that wasn’t with a mysterious beaver.

And today she was damn well getting that date.

"Hey, Nicole."

"Hey, Wave! Pretty flower." Nicole smirked, nodding her head in the direction of Waverly’s makeshift vase. "You got an admirer I should know about?"

“And uh…” Waverly leaned across the counter, past the point of even bothering to hide her interest as she let her gaze drop to Nicole’s lips. "Why would you need to know about that?"

Nicole grinned. She reached out, picking up the vase and bringing the sunflower to her nose, and something in Waverly’s brain faltered.

That was...

"So I know if I'm treading on anyone's toes when I ask you out." Nicole winked.

Waverly’s thought train derailed immediately, her stomach and her brain both far too busy having a full-scale meltdown over the redhead’s words.

Finally!

"Oh, and are you going to?" She teased. “Ask me out?”

"I've been trying to for four days," Nicole chuckled. "But the universe seems to be quite against the idea."

"Well the universe can take a leap," Waverly laughed. “Because I am quite into the idea.”

Nicole bit her lip, her eyes sparkling as they flicked between Waverly’s gaze and her lips.

Then they widened, her hand flying to her shorts as some unseen device screamed blue murder from her pocket.

"Oh, shit…" she groaned, her eyes slamming shut as her head tipped back in frustration. "That's my pager, Waverly I gotta run. Can we… hold that thought? Please?"

Nicole was already backing through the coffee shop, but her eyes were earnest as she fixed them on Waverly’s.

"What about your coffee?" Waverly frowned.

"It's fine,” Nicole waved her hand dismissively. “It's not what I come in here for anyway!" 

"See you bright and early?" Waverly called.

"Bright eyed and paddle-tailed!" Nicole shouted, her feet already halfway out the door.

Waverly wrinkled her nose.

She was pretty sure that saying was bushy tailed, right?

 

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~🌻  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

On Friday morning, Waverly's beaver ignored her.

She slowed as she passed the group of firefighters, and hated every single part of her brain for the disappointment she felt when the mascot’s stupid glassy eyes didn’t even look at her.

Until the cute firefighter Robin had served all week and referred to as Jeremy, made eye contact. She stopped walking as he grinned, jogging over to her.

"Missing your eager beaver?" Jeremy winked. 

"No," Waverly scoffed.

Jeremy raised an eyebrow.

Waverly rolled her eyes.

"Maybe,” she murmured sheepishly. “It's a cute start to the day!"

"Well, Haught is eager only with you." Jeremy laughed, hooking his thumb over his shoulder at the loveless beaver behind him. "And Nedley generally carries less… affectionate tendencies."

“Oh!” Waverly exclaimed, her eyes widening with preposterous relief. "It's a different person?"

"Yep." Jeremy beamed. "Your beaver crush…"

"I do not have a beaver crush!” Waverly interrupted.

"Your beaver crush…" Jeremy smirked. "Is already in the shop waiting for you."

Waverly’s stomach plummeted.

Waiting for her?

Not in the beaver costume?

This had suddenly gone from a cute way to bring in the morning, to a potential admirer that she already knew she wasn’t interested in, given the number of hours her brain had spent letting a certain sexy redhead run through it, and she was entirely not prepared.

"Wait.” Waverly wrinkled her nose. “Haught?" 

So it wasn’t someone she knew.

She was pretty sure she didn’t know anyone with that name.

She would definitely remember if she did.

Jeremy winked, holding his hands up as he backed away.

Waverly rolled her eyes.

It was high time this mystery was solved!

Waverly practically marched into the coffee shop, her eyes on alert for any familiar face that might be looking her way.

She practically melted as the one face she did see was the one face she'd thought about constantly for the past four days.

The beaver was forgotten immediately.

Nicole’s plait was less ruffled than usual, and the slightly sweaty shorts and tank had been swapped for the neatly pressed slacks and the navy polo of the Purgatory Fire Department.

Waverly’s stomach swooped.

God, Nicole looked good in a uniform.

Then her heart stopped.

Wait…

The fire department?

"Hey, Waverly!" Nicole’s eyes lit up as they met Waverly’s own, and a beaming grin spread wide across her face as she stood to greet the brunette.

"Hey…" Waverly whispered.

Her mind was in overdrive.

How had she missed this?

Jesus Christ, it was painfully obvious!

The flirting, the laughter, the sunflower smelling, bright and goddamn pissing early every morning.

And just in case the uniform hadn't quite kicked her brain into action, there was another bloody sunflower in her juice vase.

Mother of patchwork elephants.

"N-no gym today?" Waverly stuttered, her mouth not quite ready to connect the dots her brain had finally laid out for her.

Nicole furrowed her brows.

"Gym?"

"The sportswear… the shorts?"

Nicole laughed.

"Those are just for the days when I draw the rookie short straw." She grinned, winking cheekily.

Waverly giggled.

Well.

Maybe she did have a beaver crush.

Who knew?

"Because that beaver is damn hot behind that mask?" She teased. "Or Haught, I should say?"

"Something like that." Nicole grinned.

"You're earlier today," Waverly stated, leaning back against the counter as if somehow the stability would stop her knees from shaking.

"I wanted to catch you before you started work." Nicole took a step closer, her eyes darkening a little as they searched Waverly’s face. "So that I could finally get in interruption-free."

Waverly bit her lip.

"Well, I am all yours for…" She glanced at the clock. She winced. "Minus twelve minutes."

Nicole laughed.

"Dinner?" She raised a hopeful eyebrow. "Tonight?"

"Like a date?" 

"A lot like a date," Nicole chuckled.

Waverly beamed.

"I'd love to."

Nicole’s dimples popped so hard Waverly practically felt it in her stomach, and she giggled as the redhead handed her her phone.

She typed her number into the keypad, saving it with almost trembling fingers.

"I'll see you tonight, Nicole Haught."

Nicole hummed as she took her phone back, her eyes brighter than Waverly had seen them yet.

"I look forward to it."

Waverly couldn't tear her eyes from Nicole as she watched the redhead leave the coffee shop, those dimples continuing to wreak havoc on her bloodstream. 

A date.

Finally!

Waverly had been behind the counter for three minutes when her phone buzzed in her pocket.

Nicole: 7pm? I’ll pick you up? N x

Waverly smirked.

Waverly: HAUGHT DAM, I’m in. 

Nicole: Oh my god.