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I Waverly, You Nicole

Chapter Text

“This is ridiculous!”  Nicole Haught slams her laptop shut as if it has deeply offended her.  

She picks up her glass of whiskey and takes a long draught, continuing to glare at her computer.  I can just get a dog!  Well, no, dogs take a lot of work.  But maybe....?  I like pussy...cats. She rolls her eyes at her own stupid joke.  Knock it off!   Cats need attention too.  Any animal, any living thing, will need more than you can give right now.   Hell, you can’t even keep a plant alive!   She glances at the browning houseplant in her office and makes a mental note to water it, even though she knows she’ll forget before the end of the night.

After a few minutes, she slowly reopens the computer and waits for the webpage to load.  It’s the homepage for Chearp Robotics.  Nicole hasn’t been able to get it out of her head since she saw the owner, Jason?  Jake?  Jeremy, that was it! , on one of those corny morning talk shows, describing how his company makes robots that look, talk, and feel like actual humans.  He even had some sitting next to him, although Nicole thinks they could’ve just been paid actors pretending to be robots.  They were VERY convincing.   But she had done her due diligence, read through various news articles and testimonials, all swearing that Chearp Robotics was the real deal, as were their products.  

And so, here she is, clicking on the link to bring her to the page where she could design a robot friend of her very own.  It’s not like she didn’t have friends in real life!  They were just hundreds of miles away, living their own lives.  And here she was, basically in the middle of nowhere, merely existing.  

The first page allows Nicole to pick the physical characteristics she is looking for.  Her mind immediately brings up a vision of the most beautiful woman she has ever seen.  It was only a quick glance, as she stepped out of a bar in town in the early afternoon.  Far too early for the place to be open.  Nicole had gone back a few times, thinking she must work there but had no luck tracking her down.  But the picture of her has been burned into her memory, at the forefront of her mind every time she closes her eyes.  So she starts - female.  Long, wavy brown hair.  Tan skin.  A little on the shorter side compared to Nicole, maybe about 5’3”?  Thin, athletic, and about 27 years old. Nicole didn’t get a close look at her eye color, so she chooses hazel, since it seems to fit the rest of her face.  The avatar on the side of the screen updates with every choice and she tweaks it until it perfectly matches her memory.

At the bottom of the screen is a checkbox with one simple question - anatomically correct?  Nicole isn’t an idiot.  She knew what probably 90% of these things were being sold for.  And while that most definitely was NOT the reason she was buying one, well, in for a penny and all that.  She checks the ‘yes’ box.

The next page asks about personality.  They had provided check boxes with some of the more common traits that were requested to help the process along.  Dominant or submissive?  Sexual or demure?  Intelligent or flighty?  Outgoing or shy?  And under each option, more boxes would appear to narrow down her choices.  

Nicole starts thinking about what her ideal friend would be like.  Outgoing, friendly, quick-witted, strong.  Definitely smart.  She reads over each option carefully to make sure she doesn’t contradict herself.  Multilingual?  Sure, maybe that would come in handy in Nicole’s line of work.  Able to cook?  Absolutely!  One less chore that she would have to do for herself.  Gay - how is that even a personality trait?!?  And this is a machine!  Wouldn’t it just act the way Nicole tells it to?!?  But she clicks the box anyway.

Once she’s done entering everything, she clicks on the next page that will take her to the price.  It’s a very good thing Nicole hadn’t taken a drink or she would’ve choked or maybe even done a spit-take.  Holy crap!  I could buy a car for that!!   She sits back, picking her whiskey up and tapping her finger against the glass, staring at the screen.  Finally, she puts the glass back down, maybe a little harder than is strictly necessary, and drags the mouse over the ‘buy’ icon - click.

 

Chapter Text

Jeremy is sitting at his desk the next morning when the newest order comes up.  He does a double take.  “Ummm, Waves.  Can you come here?”  

Waverly walks out of her office and over to his computer to take a look.  As she sees her face staring back at her, her face turns into a scowl.  “Dammit, Wynonna!”  This seems like just the type of prank her older sister would play on them!

Jeremy shakes his head.  “That was my first thought too.  But I checked the name and ISP.  No go.  Also, the payment went through.  Top-of-the-line model.  No way would she have a friend who could drop that kind of money on a joke.”  He looks up at Waverly, whose mouth has now dropped open while she reads the stats on the bot.  “Maybe your ex?”

“No way.  Champ doesn’t know anyone with that kind of money either.  Plus, he would choose something dumb, submissive, and with measurements so outrageous that it wouldn’t be able to stand properly.”

“Any chance you have a stalker?”

Waverly shrugs.  “Not that I know of.  What’s the name on the order?”

Jeremy pulls up the payment and delivery information.  “Nicole Haught.”

Waverly shakes her head.  “Never heard of her.”

“Well, maybe it’s some kind of crazy coincidence.  She just happened to select attributes that kind of look like you.”  Waverly looks at him with a disbelieving look.  “Yeah, okay, it looks EXACTLY like you.  But your picture isn’t anywhere on the website.  You’ve never been in any promotional material.  Hell, your name isn’t even listed anywhere except on the legal documents for the company.  So no way would she know you are connected to this place.  Not unless you know her personally.”  He looks up to see Waverly shaking her head.  “You want me to cancel the order?”

Waverly stands up straight.  “No.  Send the info to me.  I’ll see what I can find out before we do anything drastic.  I would hate to lose the customer over a misunderstanding.”  

She walks back into her office and closes the door, something neither of them ever do.  But she needs some privacy while she gets to the bottom of this.  “Okay, Nicole Haught.  Who are you?”  She opens a new tab in her browser and Googles the name.  Several hundred results pop up.  Okay, that’s not going to work.  She adds her middle initial “R” and it narrows down to about 50.  So she adds her location and ends up with only a few results, including Instagram.  She clicks on the link and gasps as the pictures load.  Damn, she’s GORGEOUS!   Shoulder length red hair.  Pale skin.  And....Oh my god, is that a dimple?  Waverly almost swoons right at her desk.  What does the “R” stand for?  Really Haught?  She laughs to herself at her own joke.  I’ve DEFINITELY never seen this woman before.  How does she know me?  And what the hell does she need a robot for?!?  

Waverly isn’t an idiot.  She knows what the majority of their products were sold for even if that wasn’t the reason she and Jeremy created them in the first place.  It didn’t take a genius to figure it out with the schematics that would come through - dumb, submissive, huge ass and gigantic breasts.  But she can’t imagine that’s the reason Nicole would be ordering one.  And certainly not for the price she was paying for it.  A vibrator is a hell of a lot cheaper.   Waverly thought with a sigh.

But Waverly also knew that looks weren’t everything.  Maybe her personality is crap.  Maybe she’s a bitch.  Maybe she doesn’t tip her servers or is racist or dumb as a brick or something.   She keeps scrolling through pictures until she gets to some from a few years ago, the redhead with her arm around a beautiful black woman, smiling lovingly at each other.  Okay, so probably not racist.   Another picture even further back of her graduating college.  Probably not dumb either.  Maybe she’s just really shy.  Or nervous to come out in a small town.

You could just ASK her what she wants it for.   Waverly could almost SEE the little devil appear on her shoulder.  She barely stops herself from looking at her other shoulder, waiting for the angel to make an appearance.  

I really shouldn’t!   There it is.  

Just send her an email and ask her!  

It’s against company policy!  

But you WROTE the policy.  It’s YOUR company.  You can break it!  

That’s true.  Maybe just one quick email?

Damn you, angel!  You’re not supposed to AGREE with the devil!  Waverly sighs and drops her head onto her desk.  Maybe just one little email.  What could it hurt?

She starts to type a new email before she loses her nerve.

FROM:  StartTheWave@ChearpRobotics.com  

TO:  NRHaught@rainbow.net  

SUBJECT:  Order #0102-0402-0412

Good morning Ms. Haught,

As one of our A-list clients, we would like to thank you for your purchase!  In order to better assist us in programming, please advise on the reason for your order.  Are there any special tasks it will be required to perform for you?  Any information you can share with us would be very helpful!

Sincerely,

Chearp Robotics

Waverly hits send and waits.  And waits.  And waits.  She does some work, chats with Jeremy, and goes to lunch with Wynonna.  When she gets back, she notices the new email, slams her office door, and scrambles to read it.

FROM:  NRHaught@rainbow.net  

TO: StartTheWave@ChearpRobotics.com  

SUBJECT:  RE: Order #0102-0402-0412

Hello,

It’s rather embarrassing, but I’m sure as this is your job, you’ve probably heard it all.  So here goes.

I’m new in town.  I work from home in a very high-stress job, at all hours of the day and night.  When I have any free time, I spend it sleeping or doing household errands.  So I don’t have time to go out and meet people.  And being gay in a small town makes it even harder.

I’ve thought about hiring a housekeeper, but they would only work on a set schedule.  And hiring someone to be a friend, to have a meal with, or to talk to sounds too much like an escort or a therapist, and would still require an appointment.  

I figured a machine wouldn’t be offended if I’m too busy to talk or sit down to dinner.  It would be available when *I* am.  On my schedule.  

So I guess I’m looking for a robot who can do basic household work - cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, but that I can also have a friendly conversation with.

From what I saw on TV and read on the website, it appears that your product can do all those things.  If this is not correct, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Nicole Haught

Waverly rereads Nicole’s email so many times that she could recite it in her sleep.  Nicole is a complete stranger but she still couldn’t help but feel bad for her.  She sounds so lonely.  And really in need of a friend!  

When the idea first came to her, she dismissed it immediately.  It’s a bad idea.  A REALLY bad idea.  So many things could go wrong.  But she couldn’t keep it out of her head.  

It really is a bad idea!  When the devil on your shoulder tells you not to do something, you should listen.  But…

Chapter Text

Nicole is deep in her work when she hears the doorbell ring.  She glances up at the clock, wondering (not for the first time) if she had ordered something to eat and forgotten.  The doorbell rings again and she sighs as she pushes away from her desk.

When she opens the door, her breath gets caught in her throat.

“Hi, I’m Waverly!” comes a chipper voice from the woman, NO! the ROBOT , standing in front of her, holding out her hand for a handshake.  

Nicole looks her up and down, eyes wide, before gasping out, “Wow, you are extraordinary!”

Waverly struggles to maintain eye contact and not blush but does drop her hand back to her side.  “Thank you.”

They stand there for a few minutes, Waverly waiting patiently (and trying desperately not to fidget) and Nicole continuing to stare at her.  Finally, Nicole shakes her head quickly as if coming out of a trance.  “Uh, c’mon in.”

Waverly picks up her suitcase as Nicole steps back and holds the door open for her.  “Thank you.”  She steps inside as the redhead closes the door behind them.  The brunette stands in the entryway, unsure of what to do next.

Nicole walks around.  “Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting you.  I mean, I figured you’d be delivered in a box or something.  Or that I’d receive a notification of delivery.”

Waverly nods.  “This is a more natural way of meeting for the first time, don’t you think?”

Nicole tilts her head slightly to the side.  “Yeah, I..I guess.”  She looks at her office door.  “I’m really not sure what to do here.  I was just working…”

“Well, you can go back to work and I can just wait until you’re ready.  Or you can give me a tour of your house and you can let me know what you would like me to do.  Or we can sit and just talk, if you have time.  Whatever you would like.”

Nicole glances around and checks her watch.  It’s not a very large house so she knows it won’t take long to walk through it.  “Why don’t I give you a tour?  I can spare a few minutes.”  She motions to each room as they walk.  “Living room…Kitchen.”  She glances at Waverly.  “Umm, do you eat?”

Uh oh, didn’t think this through!  Didn’t think this through at all!  What the hell am I doing here?!?  Oh well, too late now.  Let’s see how my acting is .  Waverly gives her a small smile.  “I can, yes.  But I cannot process animal products.”

Nicole looks at her and laughs.  “A VEGAN robot?!”  She shrugs as she continues to chuckle.  “Sure, why not?!”

Waverly tries not to look relieved and points at Nicole as if acting like she couldn’t remember the word.  “Yes, vegan.  But I am able to process other things.  It makes it less awkward if you want to share meals together.”

Nicole nods, “Yeah, that makes sense.  It would look strange if we went out somewhere you just sat there.”  She looks around, pointing at a small door.  “Pantry.  All the cleaning supplies are in there.  Do you need me to make a list of things for you to do or…?”

Waverly shakes her head.  “No, I have a general idea of what is needed.  If you need me to do anything specific though, just let me know.”

“Great!  Uhhh, I asked that you be able to cook?  Is that only certain items or can you read recipes?”

“I already know some recipes, but I can follow new ones as well.  If you have any requests, please let me know.  Or I can make the menu on her own.”

“I’ll give you a list of things I don’t or can’t eat and let you decide from there.  If I need to go shopping…”

“I can do that as well.  I would just need a way to pay.”

“Right, sure.  Okay, we’ll figure that out later.  I’ve just been having stuff delivered when necessary but either way works for me.”  

Nicole leads them out of the kitchen to continue the tour.  “My bedroom.  Bathroom.  Don’t tell me, you do that too?”

Shit, shit, shit!!  Definitely didn’t think this through!!!  “Yes, I will need to empty my system of anything I eat.  I will also need to bathe in order to stay clean.”  She says, blushing.

Nicole’s eyes widen.  “You blush, too?”  

The blush deepens.  “When the situation calls for it."

Nicole shakes her head in disbelief.  “Amazing.  Yeah, okay.”  She chuckles lightly.  “My office.  Uhh,”  Nicole glances at the closed door.  “Don’t ever go in there.  If I’m in there working, just knock and wait for me to come out.  But that room is off limits”

Waverly nods solemnly.  “Of course.”

They continue down the hall, “Guest room.  Let me guess, you sleep, too?”

“I do need to spend 6-8 hours recharging, yes.  I can do that anytime you would like but night would seem to be the most convenient.”

“And you have luggage?”  Nicole points at the suitcase in her hand.

“Yes, spare clothes.  But if there is anything you don’t like or something different you would like me to wear, let me know.”

Nicole smirks.  “You don’t have, like, a french maid outfit in there, do you?”

DO NOT PANIC!!  “No, but if that’s what you would like me to wear…”

“NO!!”  Nicole practically shouts back.  “I was just kidding.  Whatever you have is fine, I’m sure.”

Thank goodness!   If she had wanted me to wear one of THOSE while I was cleaning, I’d have been so out of here!  But Waverly seems to have kept her cool through the whole tour.  Answering every question truthfully and accurately.  At least, Nicole wasn’t acting suspicious, so that’s good.

Nicole points at the spare room again.  “Okay, so I guess this is your room then.  And we’re back to the living room.”  She glances at her watch again.  “I have to get back to work.  Just do...whatever it is you do.  And we’ll talk later?”

Waverly gives her a smile.  “Sounds good, Ma’am.”

Nicole whips around, grimacing.  “Uhhh, no.  No, that, ummm, Nicole i..is fine.”

“Okay, Nicole.”

Nicole heads back into her office while Waverly walks into her bedroom.  She closes the doors and sighs heavily as she falls back against it.  “What the fuck have I done?!?”  She drops her head into her hands, feeling the panic start to rise up.  After a few minutes, she stands up straight once again.  Get it together, Earp.  A beautiful, sweet, kind woman, who is in desperate need of a friend, just gave you a job and a place to stay.  So, what if she thinks you’re a machine?   She drops her head against the door once again.  “Oh god, what have I done?”  She swears she can hear the devil snicker.

Chapter Text

With Nicole holed up at work, Waverly unpacks her clothes and does something she’s been dreading all day.  She calls her business partner, knowing he’s going to flip the flip out.

“Hey, Waves.  Are you coming in today?”

Waverly takes a deep breath.  “Hi Jeremy.  Uh, no, I’m, uh, going to take a bit of a sabbatical.”

Jeremy sounds confused.  “A sabbatical?  For what?  Why?  Everything okay?  Do you need me to do something?”

“No, Jer.  Everything’s fine.  It’s just...I. Did. Something…”

“What?”

“Okay, I need you to not freak out, okay?  But I’m at Nicole Haught’s house.”

“Who?”

“The woman who ordered the robot that looks like me?”

“Oh.  Okay?  What are you doing there?”

Waverly grimaces.  “I came here to meet her.  And she...shethinksI’mtherobotsheordered.”  She blurts out in a rush.

“Wait, WHAT!?!  Waverly, are you crazy?!?”

“I know, I know!  It’s just...I wanted to find out how she knew me.  So I emailed her to find out more and she sounded so lonely!  I just wanted to meet her and see if I could do something to help.  But when she saw me, she thought I was the robot and I couldn’t tell her the truth.  Or, I guess, I didn’t want to.”

“Waverly!  Are you nuts?  You KNOW what 99% of our sales are for!  As much as we don’t make them for that reason, that’s still why most people buy…”

Waverly interrupts.  “But Nicole is different!  She’s one of the 1%, Jer, trust me!  In her email, she said she was looking for someone to take care of her house and someone she could talk to.  She’s not looking for a sex toy!”

Jeremy groans.  “You don’t know that!  And if this gets out?  If she finds out the truth and exposes it?  Makes people believe that they’re not actually robots but real people?  We could be accused of human trafficking!!”

Waverly’s eyes go wide.  “I didn’t think of that.  But I’ll make sure, if...no, WHEN she finds out, she knows that this was a one-time thing.  And totally on me.  Completely my decision and you didn’t know anything about it.”

Jeremy sighs.  “Waves, I just...just be careful, okay?  If you need me, for anything, I’m there!  And I’m sure Wynonna will back me up.  Just promise me that if this goes sideways, you’ll leave.  Immediately.”

Waverly nods.  “I will.  I promise.  And I’ll figure out how to do my work from here.  She works a lot of long hours, so I’m sure I can find the time.”

“Yeah, we’ll figure it out.  Just take care of yourself.  I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

Waverly chuckles lightly.  “Yeah, same.  I’ll talk to you soon.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After her phone call with Jeremy, Waverly decides to get to work on cleaning the house.  The place isn’t bad, not messy or anything.  Just not clean or even very lived in.  It appears that Nicole spent most of her time in her office and didn’t spend her downtime cleaning.  And from the sound of her email, she didn’t have a lot of downtime so Waverly couldn’t blame her for not wanting to spend what little she has dusting and vacuuming.  

The house had that closed-up, out-of-use feel and smell to it.  So she starts by opening the windows to get some fresh air in.  She starts thinking about meals and looks through the cabinets (pretty much bare except for basic staples) and the fridge (filled with take-out containers).  The garbage cans are also mostly filled with take-out containers, as if Nicole doesn’t do ANY cooking and just orders in for all her meals.  I can see why she needs some help here.  She looks around to see if there is anything she can put together for tonight’s dinner.  There’s some pasta and canned tomatoes in the cabinet, so she decides she can work with that for now.  She takes inventory and starts making a grocery list and meal planning.  I’ll talk to Nicole tonight about anything she may not like and change it if necessary.  

She heads to the pantry to see what she has to work with as far as cleaning supplies were concerned.  Not too bad.  Pretty much everything I should need.  She decides to do a quick once-over on the house for now and then will focus on deep cleaning each room individually in the days to come.  She takes out the garbage, washes the counters, sweeps and mops the floors, and dusts the shelves.  It gives her plenty of alone time to think about what Jeremy had said.

Maybe I should just come clean to Nicole right now.  It was a simple mistake on both our parts.  She may not even be angry.  And we could have a good laugh and still end up as friends.

Right!  That’s the whole reason you’re here!  You want to be friends with the hot redhead in the other room.   She can feel the devil rolling its eyes at her.

I DO!  I just want to make her happy and less alone!

Then stay!  Clean her house, cook her meals, listen to her stories.  Her bot isn’t going to be ready for a while anyway.  May as well stick around and become...friends.  This time, it’s Waverly that rolls her eyes at the damn little devil.

She is in the middle of cleaning the bathroom when Nicole walks out of her office.  She looks startled when she sees Waverly.  “Oh, right, forgot you were here.”

Waverly looks chagrined.  “Sorry!”

Nicole shakes her head.  “No!  You’re fine.  I’m just used to being alone in the house.  Can I…?”  She waves her hand at the room.

“Of course!”  Waverly passes Nicole in the doorway so she can use the room.  When Nicole walks out a few minutes later, Waverly is standing idly in the hallway.

Nicole tilts her head at her.  “Did I hear you talking to someone earlier?”

“Yes, I called Chearp Robotics to let them know I had arrived.”

Nicole raises an eyebrow and gives her a small smirk.  “You have a phone?”

Waverly nods.  “It makes it easier to keep in touch with, well, you.  I will give you the number and if you need anything while you’re working or if I’m out, you can call or text me and let me know.”

Nicole nods her head.  “That makes sense.  And it will make things easier when I’m busy.  Will I get the bill or…?”

“No.  Chearp Robotics pays for it.  It’s included in the fee.”

“Okay.  Well, I’m going to…”  She motions at her office behind Waverly.

“Right!”  Waverly moves out of her way and heads back into the bathroom while Nicole goes into her office and closes the door.

Chapter Text

Nicole walks out of her room later in the day to the smell of spaghetti sauce.  She walks into the kitchen just in time to see Waverly making up two plates of pasta, adding garlic bread to the side, and pouring two glasses of wine.  She glances up to see Nicole staring at her.  “I hope I’m not overstepping.  I figured you would be hungry after a long day and, since you had these items, you must be okay with them.”

Nicole holds her hand up to stop her.  “No, this is great!  Thank you.  Do you need any help?”

Waverly shakes her head.  “Nope.  Have a seat and I’ll bring these right over.”  She picks up the plates.

Nicole reaches around her and picks up the two glasses of wine and carries them to the table as Waverly sets the plates down.  The table is already set and even has lit candles in the center.  They both sit down opposite one another.  “Thank you again for this.  I haven’t had a home-cooked meal in...I honestly can’t remember the last time.”

Waverly smiles.  “That’s what I’m here for.”  She picks up her glass and holds it out.  “Cheers.”

Nicole picks up her own glasses and clinks it against Waverly’s.  “Cheers.”  She takes a sip before digging into the pasta.  “Oh my...this is SO good!”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“But this does feel weird.  Like we’re on a first date or something?”

Waverly drops her head slightly, as if embarrassed.  “I’m sorry.”

Nicole waves her off.  “No, no, it’s fine.  It’s good!  Like you said, that’s why you’re here.  But normally, on a first date, I would ask you all the typical questions.  About your family, your past, your job, all that kind of stuff.  But...you don’t really have all of those things, so I’m not sure what we should talk about.”

Well, I DO have all those things, but I can’t exactly tell YOU about them.  Not now, at least.  “Well, we do need to discuss what you would like me to do every day.  Schedules and the like.  But we can talk about that later.  So for now, why don’t you tell me about yourself?”

“Uh, okay.  What would you like to know?”

“Whatever you would like to share.  Tell me about your childhood, if you would like.”

“Sure.  Well, uhhh, I had negligent, hippie parents who weren’t really interested in taking care of a kid.  They liked to be able to follow the drugs and whatever band they were loving at the moment.  I spent the first several years of my life in the back of a van, being ignored.  They shuffled me off to my aunt and uncle’s house sometimes, and that was okay, but when they finally realized I needed to be enrolled in school and not just learning the ins-and-outs of life from their friends, they sent me to live with my conservative, religious grandparents.  I finally had a place to call home, a room of my own, structure in my life, and got to go to an actual school with kids my own age.  I loved it!  That is, until I hit puberty and realized that I had feelings for girls.  The kind of feelings that the other girls seemed to have for boys.”

Nicole took a sip of her wine.  “I tried.  I really did.  I knew my grandparents wouldn’t accept me so I tried being with boys.  And there were a few that I went out on dates with.  Which was fine until they tried to stick their tongues down my throat or their hands down my pants.  I would shove them away and storm off.  So I got a reputation at school for being an ice queen and the other boys seemed to get the message that I wasn’t going to put out and stayed away from me.”

“But there was one boy who wasn’t like that at all.  Sam.  He was shy, and strange, and seemed different.  Like me.  So we started hanging out.  He was one of my only friends.  Sure, I was friendly with a lot of people at school, since I was one of the stars on the basketball team.  And my teammates would’ve said we were friends.  But my spare time was spent with Sam. Everyone thought we were secretly dating but couldn’t come out and admit it because he was black and I was white and, living in a small, conservative town, we didn’t want to cause any trouble.  But we weren’t dating.  I was gay and he knew it.  We were just best friends.  We talked about everything, or so I thought.”

They had both finished eating by this point and Waverly refills their wine glasses.  They continue to sit at the table while Nicole recounts her story.  

“One weekend, after graduation and having both turned 18, we went to Nevada to go rock climbing.  After an extremely long and tiring day, we were sitting around the campfire, winding down before heading to our tents to sleep.  And Sam turns to me and starts crying.  He told me that he was in love with me and that he knew I was gay.  But the thing I didn’t know about him was that he was trans and, now that he was 18, he was going to start transitioning.  He had decided to keep it a secret all those years until he was old enough to move out, go to college, and live a new life somewhere where people didn’t know him and wouldn’t judge him for being ‘different’.  He, or rather, she now wanted me to call her Shae and wondered if I would be interested in us dating, since she was now going to be living her truth as a woman.”

Waverly stands up from the table, picks up her wine glass, and walks around to where Nicole is sitting.  She holds out her hand and Nicole takes it, picking up her own glass.  She leads them to the couch, so they can be more comfortable.  Nicole sits facing Waverly, tucking one leg under the other and stretching her arm across the back of the couch.  Waverly sits facing her. “Please, go on.”

“To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  I was surprised, hurt, angry.  Here was this person I had told everything to.  All of my deepest, darkest secrets.  And I thought she had done the same.  But it turned out that she was hiding some of the biggest parts of herself from me. I told her I needed some time and space to think things through but that, no matter what, we would always be friends.  But I needed to decide if I was interested in us dating or if I just wanted things to stay the way they were.  I was utterly exhausted when I went to bed that night but didn’t sleep a wink.  We both decided to cancel the rest of the trip and we drove back home.”

“I was working that summer, but I couldn’t really think of anything but Shae.  I missed her, missed spending time with her.  We were going to the same college and were going to be suitemates, so we would be around each other all the time.  So after a few weeks, I called her and asked if we could get together to talk.  We ended up sitting in her car, talking all night about her transitioning and what that would mean for the both of us.  How she foresaw college going, since it would be the first time we would be in a more liberal area and could truly be ourselves.  What we both thought dating each other would be like.  We came to the conclusion that we would go away to school and just see what happens.  We would be meeting a lot of new people and neither of us wanted to hold each other back to our high school days when our adult lives were just beginning.”

“So away we went, two women starting a new life, in a new city, with our whole lives ahead of us.  We both dated other people but always ended up coming back to each other.  After the first year, we decided to give dating each other a shot.  Shae was thrilled, of course, since I’m such a catch.”  Nicole winked at Waverly and she chuckled.

“Everything went great!  We were young and in love and loving life.  We moved into an apartment together after our sophomore year and started talking about the future.  I was studying psychology and criminal justice and she was pre-med.  But we had big plans and they all involved each other.”

“After graduation, we decided to go back to Nevada to celebrate her four-year coming out anniversary.  While we were there, we decided to head to Las Vegas, because, why not?  We lucked out getting tickets to Britney Live! and won big playing the slots and were having the time of our lives.  So, what the hell?  We went and got married.”

“And things were great at first.  We went back to our apartment, she enrolled in med school, I got a job working for the government.  But then things started to go south.  I was being sent all over the continent for my job and working all hours when I was home.  She was working long hours at the hospital and studying all the time.  We weren’t even two ships passing in the night.  We were two ships who could barely make each other out across the sea.”

“It finally came to a head when I got offered a job I couldn’t refuse but it required me to move.  Shae still had several years of school and internship and residency ahead of her.  So we decided to get a divorce and move on with our separate lives.  But we are still best friends.  Granted, best friends who barely talk and even more rarely see each other, but we both know that we are there for each other no matter what.”

“And so, here I am, with no friends nearby and pouring out my life story to a machine.”  Nicole gives Waverly a kind-of half smile and glances at her watch.  “And with that, I should say ‘good night’ and go get some sleep.”

Waverly nods.  “Okay, I’ll just clean up and head to bed too.  Do you want to discuss schedules or anything specific you want me to do before that or just wait until tomorrow?”

“Oh, right.  Yeah. Well, I will usually get up about 5 am and go for a run.  Come back and shower and grab something to eat and be at my desk by 6:30 or 7.  If I remember to eat lunch, it would be somewhere between 12 noon and 1 and back to work until I stop about 6.  Assuming I don’t get caught up in work and forget to eat entirely.  That’s where you come in, I guess.  Keeping me on track and fed.”

“Anything specific you want for meals this week?”

Nicole shakes her head.  “I can’t think of anything but dinner was delicious so I’ll leave it to you to decide.”  She pulls a credit card out of her pocket.  “You can use this to buy groceries or anything else you might need.  Cleaning supplies or clothing or whatever.”

“Great!  Thank you.”

“Good night, Waverly.”

“Good night, Nicole.”

Chapter Text

And so it went.  Nicole would work in her office all day, leaving Waverly to do her own thing.  Waverly would make meals and make sure Nicole would eat, and deep clean one room a day until every room sparkled.  She is cleaning Nicole’s bedroom when she accidentally opens her end table drawer and finds her…personal items.  Definitely didn’t need a robot!   She thinks with a blush but closes the drawer and carries on with her duties.

Once the inside is done, she starts on the yardwork.  She mows the lawn and cleans out the gardens, planting seasonal flowers so that different colors would pop throughout the spring, summer, and fall.  She stops herself, but just barely, from painting rooms or the outside of the house but she does clean out the gutters and powerwash the walkways and house (Nicole opened the window of her office to see what the sound was and only her quick reflexes stopped her from getting a faceful of water).  She also makes note of anything she thought might need fixing or replacing.  And she still has plenty of time to go to her own home several times a week to go through her mail, do some spot cleaning, and help Jeremy with business issues at Chearp Robotics.

She and Nicole would usually have dinner together and sit and talk or watch TV.  Waverly had to stop herself from bringing up her past or talking about anything that was going on outside the home.  She would tell stories about what she had seen going on in town if she had gone out to the store or talked to a neighbor, but she mostly just listened to Nicole.  

One night shortly after getting there, she and Nicole are sitting on the couch and Nicole hands her the TV remote.  “You probably know more about what is on these days than I do.”  Nicole says with a shrug.

Waverly pulls up the streaming menu, browsing through before stopping.  “How about this?”

Nicole looks at the title and shrugs.  “Never seen it.  What’s it about?”

“Female protagonist who fights demons and monsters with the help of her younger sister, lesbian best friend, straight-laced trainer, goofy male sidekick, and vampire lover.”

Nicole laughs, waving her off.  “Stop!  Sadly, you had me at lesbian best friend.  Let’s give it a try.”

***

“The one liners are the best!”

***

“When is she going to dump her boy-man boyfriend and get someone better?!?”

***

“Gotta admit, the red-headed lesbian is hot!”

***

“Of course, the lesbian girlfriend gets shot!  The shitticket shooter better get taken out next!”  … “YES!  Good riddance!”

***

“Wow!  Did not see her going dark!  Damn!”

***

Waverly would love to binge the entire series, but Nicole has to work and she refuses to watch without her.  She enjoys every evening with Nicole, no matter what they do.  

But even after several weeks, Waverly had no idea what Nicole did in her office all day.  That first night, she had said that she had a government job, but beyond that, Waverly was at a loss.  

Nicole would sometimes ask Waverly to go to the store to pick up specific items that she didn’t want to wait to have delivered.  Poster boards or a certain color twine.  She had boxes delivered regularly and the delivery person would insist that he could only deliver them to Nicole herself.  That and lunch time were the only times Waverly would interrupt her during the work day.

But more recently, Nicole would finish dinner and head back into her office to keep working.  Waverly would sometimes hear her drag herself to bed after midnight.  Sometimes she wouldn’t hear her go to bed at all or would even hear her get up in the middle of the night and go back to work.  In her first email, Nicole said that she was extremely busy with work and didn’t have time to go out and Waverly now saw how serious she was.  But true to her word, Waverly never stepped foot into her office or even looked inside.  It was none of her business what was going on in there, and if Nicole ever decided to share, that would be up to her.

So Waverly is surprised one morning to hear Nicole talking loudly on the phone from her office.  “I know it’s a lot of files, Xavier, but I need them!....Yes, I know I can view them digitally but I need the actual paper copies...Look, I know you’re busy but find someone who can get them to me, like, yesterday!  Okay?”  Waverly hears her slam her phone down and let out a growl in frustration.  She wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, she really wasn’t.  But she is glad she did because it gives her some insight into Nicole’s mood and helps her plan the rest of her day.

At noon, Waverly makes lunch for herself and Nicole.  She knocks on the office door and waits for Nicole to answer.  When she does, she looks down at the plate and glass in Waverly’s hands.  “Uhhh, what is it?”

Waverly smiles widely.  “Peanut butter and banana sandwich, potato chips, and apple juice.”  Nicole looks very confused at that.  Which is understandable because this isn’t Waverly’s usual fare.  “I’m sorry but it sounded like you are having a bad day and…”  This is what my mom would make for me when I was a kid and having a bad day.   “I thought you could use something whimsical for lunch.”

Nicole cocks an eyebrow at that and smiles, shaking her head.  “Thank you, Waverly.  And you’re right, this does bring me back to my childhood and simpler times.  I appreciate it.”

Waverly nods and hands her the plate and glass.  Nicole takes them and closes the door.

Phase one, done.  On to phase two.

~~~~~

At 6 o’clock on the dot, Nicole steps out of her office where Waverly is waiting for her.  She must’ve set an alarm to remind her when dinner is.  Well, not tonight!  “I have a casserole in the oven.  It will be ready in about an hour.”

Nicole sighs and looks at her watch.  “Okay.”  She sounds exhausted!   She turns to step back into her office and Waverly grabs her wrist.

“I ran you a bath.”

“A bath?”  Nicole looks at the hand on her wrist and Waverly resists the urge to pull away.  She instead slips her hand further down, intertwining her fingers with Nicole’s, and leads her to the bathroom.  She opens the door and motions for Nicole to enter.

Nicole gasps as she looks around the room.  The tub is full of bubbles and has steam rising from it.  There are lit candles and soft twinkly music playing from...somewhere.  And there’s a glass of white wine sitting close enough to the tub for it to be in easy reach but far enough away so that water doesn’t splash into it.

Nicole turns to Waverly with tears shimmering in her eyes and falls into her arms, resting her head in the crook of her neck.  “Thank you, Waves.  No one has ever done something this thoughtful for me before.”

Waverly wraps her arms around her and gently stroking her back until Nicole stands back up.  Before she has a chance to step away, Waverly runs her hands down her cheeks, wiping away the couple of tears that escaped.  She pulls her down and presses a kiss to her forehead before leaning their foreheads against each other.  “Go.  Relax.  I will call you when dinner is ready.”  

Nicole nods before pulling away, going into the bathroom and closing the door.

Phase two down.

~~~~~~~~

Waverly pulls the casserole out of the oven and dishes out two plates.  She had already set the coffee table with their utensils and drinks, so she sets the plates down to allow them to cool while she goes to get Nicole.

She knocks softly at the bathroom door.  “Nicole?”, she whispers.  She waits a few moments but doesn’t get a response.  She listens but doesn’t hear anything so she quietly opens the door.  “Nicole?”, she whispers again.  

Nicole is still in the tub, seemingly asleep.  Waverly wracks her brain trying to figure out how to wake her without startling her in the process.  I can knock harder at the door, talk louder.  I can turn off the music and turn on the lights.  Or I can… she steps closer to the tub and gently slides her fingers down Nicole’s arm, which is on the side of the tub while calling out for her once again.  

Nicole starts a little, her eyes shooting open, before she sees Waverly standing above her.  Her face softens into a small smile.  “Hi.”

Waverly smiles back.  “Hi.  Dinner is ready.”

“Alright.  I’ll be right out.”

Waverly nods and closes the door behind her.  She sits on the couch, waiting for Nicole to make an appearance.  When she does, she’s dressed in flannel pajama pants, a tank top, and barefoot.  Perfect!  She’s even dressed to relax!  And she looks so cute!  Wait, where did THAT come from?  She looks at Waverly in confusion.  “I thought we could eat in here today.  Maybe watch a movie?”

Nicole points her thumb behind her towards her office.  “I can’t…”

Waverly stands up and takes Nicole’s hands in hers, leading her to the couch.  She sits down, leaving Nicole standing beside her.  “Nicole, you’ve been working yourself too hard.  You are exhausted and need to take a break.  Just for one night, let yourself relax.  We’re going to sit here, eat dinner, and watch a movie.  And not our TV show, either!  Some nice comedy or even a Disney musical.  Something light and carefree.”

Nicole chuckles before sitting down on the couch, nodding.  “Okay.  One night.”

“Good.”  She picks up the remote and turns on the TV.  “What will it be?”

“I don’t care.  You can choose.  Just not some hetero rom com, please?”

Waverly nods and pulls up Disney+.  Thank you, Jeremy!   She turns on The Little Mermaid , one of her favorites from when she was a kid.  And I’m sure the red-headed lead character doesn’t remind you of anyone.  Damn, the devil is back!  But Waverly couldn’t deny the truth in it!

She pulls the table a little closer to the couch so they can eat fairly comfortably.  Maybe I should’ve set us up on the floor?  Oh well, too late for that.  

Nicole digs into her food and moans in appreciation, as she does pretty much every night.  Waverly peeks at her.  Wonder if she realizes that she’s basically gone vegan too?   She thinks with a half-smile.  She turns her attention back to the screen, fighting every instinct not to sing along.  How would I explain that I knew every word to every song?!?  Not like they would’ve programmed something like that!

Nicole finishes her dinner and drink and stands up from the couch.  Waverly clears her throat loudly and glares at her, before looking back at the couch, and back up at her.  Nicole smirks, “I was just going to get a refill.”  She says, holding up her glass.

Waverly nods, not entirely convinced.  “Okay.  Want me to pause it?”

“No, keep going.  I know it well enough not to miss anything.”

Nicole takes their dishes and walks into the kitchen.  She comes back with two glasses of whiskey, handing one to Waverly.  When she sits back on the couch, she’s just a little closer to Waverly than normal.  She takes a few sips of her drink and then stretches out to set the glass on the table.  When she sits back, she stretches her arms up and out, laying one across the back of the couch.  

Waverly looks at her with a side eye.  Did she seriously just do a teenage boy fake out?!?  Her face lit up as she scootches herself a little closer to Nicole, who moves to meet her halfway until they are hip to hip and she moves her arm from the couch to drape across Waverly’s shoulder.  Waverly lays her head on Nicole’s shoulder and places a hand on her knee.  Nicole turns her head to glance down at her, places a kiss on the top of her head, and lays her head against Waverly’s as they continue to watch the movie.

Waverly notices that Nicole is mouthing along with the words of the songs but doesn’t say anything.  They laugh together as the chef chases Sebastian around with the cleaver and seem to sink into each other a little more when he sings about wanting to kiss the girl.  

When the song is over, Nicole pulls away slightly, reaching for her glass once again.  Waverly shifts over slightly, back to her own side of the couch so as not to make the redhead feel uncomfortable.

After she takes a long drink of her whiskey, she sets the glass back down and looks over to where Waverly is sitting.  She lays down on the couch and places her head in the brunette’s lap.  “This okay?”

Waverly nods while staring straight ahead at the TV.  Nicole snuggles down to get comfortable.  Waverly gulps silently as all thought flies from her brain and all blood rushes south.  Oh god!  What do I do?!   She glances down at Nicole, who seems to finally be relaxing.  Waverly slowly reaches a hand out and starts running her fingers through Nicole’s hair.  Nicole shifts, pushing up slightly into her stroking fingers and Waverly swears she hears her purr.  

Waverly closes her eyes and tries with all her might to control her breathing.  As much as she loves feeling this close to Nicole, this intimate, she’s thankful when the movie draws to an end.  She looks down and sees that Nicole’s eyes are closed and she is breathing deeply.  God, she’s even beautiful when she’s asleep!

Waverly carefully lifts her head, easing a pillow beneath it.  She grabs the quilt off the back of the couch and drapes it over her before leaning down and giving her a light kiss on the forehead.  Nicole snuggles deeper into the pillow with a light murmur of contentment.

Waverly walks into her bedroom and falls face-first onto her bed.  Fudgenuggets!  I’ve gone and fallen for her!!  NOW what am I going to do?!?   She gets up onto her elbows and says to the empty room, “I have to tell her the truth.”

Chapter Text

Waverly wakes the next morning to find Nicole still asleep on the couch.  She decides to make them a fancy breakfast before waking her up for work.  She already took off last night.  She’ll be PISSED if I let her sleep in too much this morning no matter how much she needs the rest.

She goes into the kitchen and pulls out the fixings for pancakes, homemade strawberry compote, and freshly-squeezed orange juice.  She debates making some vegan bacon as well and decides to just go for it.  It’s a special treat, after all.

She’s just plating the first set of pancakes when she hears Nicole get up and stumble to the bathroom.  

Nicole makes her way into the kitchen and looks surprised at all the food.  “What’s all this?”

Waverly shrugs.  “I figured we deserve a special treat today before you go back to being stressed out with work.”

Nicole walks up behind Waverly and squeezes her shoulder.  “I don’t think I’ve thanked you enough for all you’ve done around her.  I really appreciate it, Waves.”

Waverly puts her hand on top of Nicole’s and squeezes back.  “You don’t have to thank me. That’s what I’m here for.”  She smiles over her shoulder.  “Now, go sit down.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”  Nicole sits at the table and Waverly sets a plate of pancakes and bacon down in front of her before sitting down with her own plate.  “I know what you just said, but thank you for last night.  I really needed a break and I’ve never had someone force me to take one before.  It was a perfect evening and I’m feeling much better today.”

“Good.  I’m glad.  I’m also glad you were willing to listen to me even if it went against your own instincts.”

“It’s like you said.  That’s what you’re here for.  I haven’t been taking care of myself the way I need to and I needed someone to watch out for me.”  She takes a bite of her breakfast.  “And you’ve done that and more.  This is delicious!”

“Glad you like it.  Now eat up.  I don’t want to make you even more late for work than you already are.”

Nicole smiles widely at her and tucks into her plate with gusto.  When she’s finished, she takes her plate to the sink and pours herself some coffee that Waverly started, knowing she would need the caffeine to make it through the day.  She walks back over to where Waverly is sitting and stands behind her for a moment, as if debating something.  “I’ll see you later.”  She quickly pecks her on the head before rushing out of the room.   

Waverly lets out a long sigh as she stands to clean up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mid-morning, the doorbell rings and Waverly goes to open the door.  A man that she has seen several times is standing outside with several large boxes on a handcart.  “Delivery for Ms. Haught.  She personally needs to sign for them.”

Waverly nods.  “One moment.”  She walks over and knocks on the office door.  “Nicole, there’s a delivery for you that you need to sign for.”

The door opens and Nicole steps into the hallway, looking stressed out once again.  “Got it.”  She walks over to the door and signs the paperwork that is held out for her.  “Thanks Charlie.”, she says, taking the handcart from him and wheeling the boxes into her office.  She returns a few minutes later, with a couple of new boxes on the cart.  Charlie flips to a new page on his clipboard and they both sign it before he takes the cart from her.  “See you later.”

He gives her a quick wave and walks away.  She closes the door and turns to Waverly, still standing off to the side.  “Ummm, Waves.  You speak other languages, right?  I asked that you be multilingual?”

Waverly nods.  “Yes, I speak English, Spanish, French, German, Latin, Arabic, Chinese, ASL, and…”  She drops her voice a bit, “Klingon.”

Nicole raises an eyebrow and lets out a laugh.  “Klingon?”

Waverly shrugs.  “Jeremy Chetri, the Che in Chearp Robotics, thought it was funny.  And it turned out to be very popular, so…”

Nicole nods, looking both confused and understanding at the same time.  “And if you needed to learn a new language?  Could they just upload that information?”

Waverly shakes her head.  “No, I would need to learn it the normal way.  Reading and studying.  Makes it more natural.”

“Okay, got it.”  Nicole starts to walk back to her office but stops short.  “And how does your memory work?  Do you remember everything you see and hear?  Does it upload into your memory banks or onto a server somewhere for anyone to have access to?”

“No, no one has access to anything I see, hear, touch, except me.  If I were to witness something illegal, I would have to report it to the proper authorities, but otherwise, everything is completely confidential.  There is no way for someone to get it out of me.”

“Okay.  Would you mind taking a look at something for me?”  She motions towards her office.

Waverly hides her surprise extremely well but is still shocked that Nicole would ask her into her inner sanctum.  I still have no idea what she does for a job and she wants my help?   “Of course.”

Waverly follows her into her office and looks around.  The room is covered with paper, but it is obviously a controlled chaos.  There are poster boards with maps of the US and Canada hanging on the walls, with push pins and red and yellow twine stretched across them.  More poster boards are up with names, dates, pictures, and newspaper articles.  There are files all over the desk, floor, and a spare table.  And there are post-it notes all over the place, even lining the monitor of her laptop.

Nicole lets her look around while she moves the boxes she just received to a corner of the room before picking up the top one and placing it in an empty space on the table.  She flips the top off and pulls out the first file, dropping it onto her desk.  She turns to look at Waverly.  “I guess it’s time to tell you what I do for a living.”

Waverly looks at her and waits for her to continue.

Nicole nods and takes a deep breath.  “I’m a criminal profiler and researcher for an offshoot of the US Marshals called the Black Badge Division.  I’m part of a team of five - Lucado, who is the leader, Eliza and Dolls are the muscle, and Doc is the...interrogator.  They are more the field agents while I do the more behind-the-scenes work.  In the past six years, I’ve closed 26 cold cases and have kind of gotten a reputation with the agency for my work.  But they’re not thrilled with my methods.”

“See, I’ll only work on one case at a time and I won’t work in the office, which doesn’t go over well.  As you’ve seen,” she motions around the room, “I sleep, breathe, LIVE these cases when I’m working them, and I can’t do my job properly if I’m constantly commuting to the office and back or having people interrupting me or messing with my stuff.  This way, working from home, I can work whenever the mood strikes or anytime I get an idea.  And, until recently,” she glances at Waverly and gives her a half smile, “without distractions.  But I also realized it wasn’t healthy and something had to change.  And, well, that something was you.”

She shakes her head and looks back around the room, clearing her throat.  “Anyway, I’m lucky that my team has my back completely.  They do get other current cases that they work on by themselves, sometimes just asking for a quick consult, but otherwise leaving me to do my thing.  Lucado fought hard for me and showed that my methods work so they just let me do it my way.”

Nicole stands up and walks over to her murder boards.  “But this guy.  This fucking guy.  Or, if my suspicions are correct, guys.  It’s the hardest one I’ve ever worked on, and that’s saying something. It’s a serial killer who, when I started over ten months ago, had 11 known victims spread out across the US and Canada in the 70’s.  But after reviewing hundreds of other case files, I’ve broken it out into two separate cases and now there are at least 23 victims between the two.  I’m not sure if there are just a lot of coincidences or if they were working together.  Mainly because of their MOs.  Each victim had a tattoo on their body.  Sometimes a letter, sometimes a word, and sometimes a symbol or symbols.  You see?”  She points to the pictures that show the tattoos on the bodies.  Waverly walks closer and nods.  “But no one can determine what is being said, if anything.  The letters and words aren’t English and even the best codebreakers in the world can’t make heads or tails of the symbols.  I don’t know if it’s because they don’t mean anything, I don’t have all the victims, or they’re being put in the wrong order, but it’s frustrating the hell out of me.”

Waverly looks closer at the pictures, trying to see what was being missed.  Nicole was right that the letters and words meant nothing the way they were scattered about but something about the symbols caught her eye.  They looked so familiar but she couldn’t put her finger on why.  Maybe it’ll come to me.  “Do you mind if I look through some of these files?  Maybe I’ll see something familiar.”

“The files can’t leave this room.  Chain of custody and all that.  That’s why they need my signature when they deliver them.  But you can bring a chair in here if you’d like.  I can walk you through my thought process and see what you think.”

Waverly leaves the room and returns a minute later with a chair.  She sets it down at the table and returns to Nicole’s side at the boards.  She studies the map and Nicole starts explaining.  “Each thumbtack is where the body was found and each is labeled with a date of when it was found with an additional date and place in parenthesis of when the woman was reported missing if she ever was.  The red twine is for the symbols and yellow is the identifiable letters or words. See how they intersect?”

Waverly nods, following Nicole’s line of thinking.  “Like they’re taking turns.”

“Yes, exactly!”  Nicole says excitedly.  “Now these files that were just delivered today are from that same timeframe.  All the files have been digitized but the quality of the pictures are such that I can’t see the details of the tattoos very well if at all.  And some of them may not even apply.  Just because a woman has a tattoo doesn’t mean it was done by our killers.  So I have to go through all these files and determine where they fit.”

Waverly looks at the top box and the number of files inside.  And it’s sitting on top of three other boxes.  Probably just as full.  “Big job.”

Nicole sighs deeply.  “Yeah.  Now you know why I spend so much time in here.  I know, it’s not urgent.  These cases are forty-plus years old.  But these women deserve justice.  And their families, if they have any, deserve closure.”

Waverly squeezes Nicole’s hand.  “So let’s see if we can give them some.”  

Nicole smiles and squeezes back.  She takes a file out of the box and hands it to Waverly, who sits down at the table while Nicole returns to her desk.

Chapter Text

Waverly is standing, looking at the murder boards, writing the letters and symbols in missing date order.  She’s sure Nicole has already done the same but she doesn’t want to interrupt her to ask.  She’s startled when Nicole’s phone alarm goes off.  She looks at the time.  “Oh, shoot!”

Nicole looks up and smiles at her.  “Now you know why I needed you around.  You get caught up and forget to eat.  Or sleep.”  She stretches her arms over her head and bends backwards.  “Or move.”

Waverly grimaces at her.  “I haven’t made dinner yet.”  She rushes to the door.  “I’ll go whip something up really quick.

Nicole holds her hand out to stop her.  “Waves, it’s fine.  I understand.  And besides, I asked you to help.”  She stands up from her desk and offers her hand to Waverly.  “C’mon, we’ll go find something to eat.”

Waverly takes her hand and they walk to the kitchen together.  Waverly opens the fridge and starts pulling things out and tossing them to Nicole, who catches them and sets them on the counter.  She walks over to the counter, giving Nicole instructions on what to clean, chop, and mix while she pulls out a pan and gets to work sauteing the veggies that Nicole is done with.  Waverly turns on some music and they dance around each other like a well-oiled machine, nudging the other out of the way with a gentle hand on a hip if necessary.  Waverly notices how well they work together.  This is what I want!  The domesticity of this moment with the woman I love!  I have to tell her the truth!!

Nicole pours them both a glass of wine as Waverly plates up the food.  They set both on the table but before Waverly has a chance to sit down, Nicole takes her hand and twirls her in a spin.  The brunette throws her head back with a loud laugh as Nicole continues to spin them around the room.  When the song ends, the redhead tugs her back to front and quickly kisses her temple before spinning her back out of her arms and towards the table.  They both sit down, a little breathless but with huge grins.  And that damn dimple!

Nicole picks up her fork and the smile drops.  “Ummm, so, did you notice anything I might’ve missed.”  And with that, the moment is over as they go over their findings from the day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Waverly is laying in bed late that night, trying to fall asleep with thoughts and images from Nicole’s office running through her head.  She suddenly bolts upright.  Oh my god!   She grabs her phone and calls Jeremy.  “Jer, I need a favor!”

“Hi to you too, Waves.”   

“Sorry!  Hi Jeremy!  It’s Waverly!  Can you do me a favor?  Pretty please?”

“With sprinkles and a cherry on top?”  He says sarcastically.  “What do you need?”

“I need you to find someone for me.  A guy I went to college with.  His name’s Perry Croft.”

“Wait, THE Perry Croft?!?  The guy who owns the biggest tech firm in the Pacific Northwest?  I knew he was from around here but I didn’t know you knew him?!?”

“Huh, I guess that’s the same guy.  Didn’t know he was a big deal in the tech world but good for him.”

“What do you need from him?”

“It’s…complicated.  And I can’t tell you.  I just need a way to get in touch with him.  A phone number but an address would be better, if possible.”

“I dunno, Waves.  He’s a pretty big deal.  I’m sure he doesn’t release that kind of information to the public.  And he’s as much of a tech wiz as I am, so if he wants to keep it secret, I don’t know if anyone would be able to find it.”

“Please, Jer!  I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t EXTREMELY important.  Just see what you can find.”

“Sure, I’ll do what I can.  Tomorrow, okay?”

Waverly looks at the time and grimaces.  “Yeah, of course.  But there is just one more thing?”

“What?”   Jeremy asks with a sigh, sounding a bit impatient.

“I need to be able to send an email without it being traced back to me in any way.  Is that possible?”

Jeremy chuckles.  “Yeah, that’s an easy one.  I’ll set something up tomorrow and let you know.”

“Love you, Jeremy!  I really owe you one!  I’ll let you get back to sleep.”

“You owe me a hell of a lot more than one.  And don’t think I’m not keeping track!  I’ll talk to you later.”

Waverly laughs as she hangs up.  She sets her phone down and finally falls into a deep sleep.  

Chapter Text

While Waverly waits to hear back from Jeremy, she and Nicole continue to spend their time in Nicole’s office, going through files and sorting them into three piles - letters, symbols, and not applicable.  The ‘not applicable’ is the largest, but they do find a few files that might fit their killers’ MO.  So they add the push pins and tags to the board and adjust the string.  

Nicole adds an alarm to her phone for lunch as well so they both take time to make and eat their meals together.  Waverly knows she’s slacking in all her other duties, both here and her real job, but no one is complaining, so she keeps at it.  She likes spending time with Nicole, even if it’s working in silence.  Just being in the same room with her gives her butterflies.  And the thought that they were doing something important makes it even better.  

Just let us close this case.  THEN I’ll tell her the truth!!

After four days, she gets a text from Jeremy.  

JEREMY:  You owe me a whole lot more than one for this!!  I can’t be sure I’m not on some government watchlist for the stuff I had to pull to find this information.  But here you go…  

Included in the text is Perry’s address, cell phone number, and private email.  Also included is a link to an email server with a username and password for her to use that would be untraceable back to her.

Waverly texts back quickly.

Waverly:  I really, really do!!!  You have no idea how much this means to me!!  YOU’RE THE BEST!

She continues to work on files while wracking her brain on what she’s going to say in her email to Nicole.  How do I give her this information without her knowing it’s from me?  Should I send it to a member of her team?  Find their contact info somehow?  No, I couldn’t do that to Nicole.  She’s worked too hard on this to let someone else get the glory.  But if she and I are the only one’s working on this case, she’s going to KNOW it was me.  She can’t just suddenly get a case-breaking tip without figuring it out.  

Maybe I should just TELL her.  How could I explain it?  With the truth.  Explain it all to her and let the chips fall where they may.  UGH!!!

Waverly pushes away from the table, barely keeping her exasperation in.  Nicole looks up at the sudden movement.  “Everything okay?”  She asks, concerned.

“Yeah, just....stretching.”

Nicole smiles and stands up, stretching her arms high above her head.  Waverly sees her shirt ride up, exposing her toned stomach.  “Come on, let’s take a break.  I’m getting pretty sore from sitting for so long too.”  Waverly is pulled from her reverie, nods and turns towards the door.  Nicole puts a hand on her lower back and leads her out of the room.

When they start to walk through the living room towards the kitchen, Waverly grabs Nicole’s hand and pushes her onto the couch.  She walks behind her and starts massaging her shoulders, noticing immediately how tight the muscles are.  Nicole drops her head onto her chest and moans loudly.  Waverly smirks and digs her fingers in a little deeper, trying to work the knots out.  She leans over and whispers in Nicole’s ear, “If you would like to lay down, I can do your back too.”

Nicole looks over her shoulder and they lock eyes.  She nods before replying, “Should I take my shirt off?”

Waverly almost chokes but is able to breathe out, “If you’d like.”  

Nicole turns back around and Waverly shuts her eyes tight as she hears the redhead rustling her shirt before the couch creaks slightly.  Waverly walks back around the couch and stands above her.  Crap!  How am I going to do this?  She notices there is room between the back of the couch and Nicole for her knee, so she straddles her and rests gently on Nicole’s legs.  “Is this okay?”

Nicole nods and adjusts the pillow under her head so her face is pressed into it.  Waverly bends over and slowly runs her hands up over the silky smooth skin of Nicole’s back, up to her shoulders, and back down to her lower back.  Her fingers tug lightly at Nicole’s bra strap and Nicole nods with a muffled “uh huh.”.  Waverly unhooks it and spreads the straps off to her sides so she has a clear canvas to work on.

How can someone’s back look so incredible?!?  This was a bad idea!  A VERY bad idea!!

Maybe you should tell her the truth now. - Oh great, the angel’s back. - She’s relaxed, you’ve been working and living well together.  Maybe she’ll be happy?

No! - Hi, devil. - Stick to the plan.  Tell her after you catch this guy.  She’s been working really hard and deserves to relax and be pampered, not have her day ruined by the truth!

I just have to figure out a way of getting her the tip.  She’ll catch the guy and close the case.  Then, and only then, will I tell her the truth.

With the issue settled in her mind, she focuses on giving Nicole the best massage of her life.  And tries not to focus on the fact that all the blood in her body seems to have pooled south.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to...nope, not even going to think about what I want to do to the woman currently stretched out beneath me.  Half naked.  Between my legs.  Damn it!  I said NOT think about it!!

She slowly works the kinks out of Nicole’s shoulders, sides, and lower back, only dipping her thumbs beneath the waistband of her pants once or twice.  Hearing Nicole sigh and moan in pleasure is not helping her situation but she refuses to stop until the job is done.

Once Nicole seems to have melted into the couch, she runs her hands twice more up and down her back before standing up.  Nicole moves to sit up and Waverly makes a show of heading to the kitchen, so the redhead can put her bra and shirt back on and the brunette doesn’t have to be tempted more than she already is.  

Waverly bends over to grab something out of the fridge and feels arms wrap around her from behind and pull her into a hug.  “Thank you, Waves.  That felt incredible.”  She mumbles before placing a lingering kiss into the crook of Waverly’s neck.

Waverly rests her hands on the arms around her stomach, unconsciously tilting her head to the side to allow Nicole more access.  “Of course.  Glad I could help.”  

They both seem hesitant to pull away from each other, but eventually Nicole squeezes one last time and steps away so Waverly can grab a couple bottles of water and close the fridge.  She hands one to Nicole before opening her own and taking a large drink.  She motions to Nicole.  “Drink up.  You’re supposed to drink water after a massage.”

Nicole opens her bottle and tips it at Waverly before chugging the whole thing down.  “Guess we should be getting back to work.”

Waverly looks at the clock.  “Yeah, it’s a couple more hours before quitting time.  But promise me we’ll relax after dinner?”

Nicole gives her a dimple-filled smile.  “Yeah, we can do that.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That night, after dinner and a few episodes of their show with Nicole snuggles on the couch, Waverly is lying in bed.  Just do it.  Stop stalling.  Stop overthinking.  If she questions you, you will come up with something.  But you can’t keep dragging this out.

She pulls out her phone and writes down all of the information from Jeremy in Klingon and deletes his texts.  Leave nothing behind.  Nothing obvious at least.  Then she logs into the email account he had sent her.

FROM:  CophineSanvers@OwlyMail.com  

TO:  JLucado@BBD.gov  

SUBJECT:  Perry Croft

Get this to Agent Haught immediately.

Ask Perry Croft about his grandfather and the codes they used to make up.  He can be found at:

3077 Ryder Avenue, Tukwila, WA 98168, 425-555-0202.

Waverly takes a long breath and, with a shaking hand, hits ‘send’.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Waverly makes them a quick, simple breakfast of fruit and yogurt.  Her stomach is quivering so much she can’t handle much else, but Nicole still acts like it’s the best thing she’s ever tasted.

They head into the office and Waverly takes her usual seat at the table, opening a file but isn’t able to concentrate.  She keeps glancing at Nicole, waiting for her to see the email.  She has to physically hold her leg down to keep it from bouncing.

After a few hours, she’s been able to focus on the files in front of her and continue their sorting.  

“Ummm, Waverly?”

Waverly jolts and looks at Nicole, trying as hard as she can to keep a straight face but she’s convinced the guilt is written all over it.  “Yes?”

Nicole spins her chair around to look at her.  “Have you told anyone about these cases?”

God, she sounds pissed!   “No, of course not.  Who would I tell?”

“So how did someone send my boss a tip about the symbols?”

“A tip?  Really?  Maybe your system got hacked?”

Nicole looks at her suspiciously, “Hacked?  A government facility’s system got hacked?”

Waverly shrugs.  “It’s happened before.”

“Or maybe it’s YOU who got hacked.”

“That’s not possible.  I’m not online in any way.  It’s not like I connect to the wifi.  I told you, anything you tell me, anything I see or hear, is confidential.”

Nicole doesn’t look convinced.  “I’d like to see your phone.”

Waverly nods.  “It’s in my room.  I haven’t been bringing it in here with me. You are the only one with the number and you’re right here, so there wasn’t any need.  And I didn’t want there to be any concern about security.”

Nicole stands up and gestures for Waverly to go ahead of her.  Waverly walks out of the office and into her bedroom.  She pulls out her phone and hands it to Nicole.  Thank goodness I deleted everything from anyone except Nicole before I sent that email!!!

Nicole opens it and looks through everything, seeing only their communications.  “Can I search your room?”

Waverly motions around the room.  “It’s your house.  Feel free.  There’s nothing to find.”

Nicole looks around and then looks back at Waverly.  “And you?”

Waverly looks confused.  “And me, what?”

“Can I search you?”

Waverly maintains eye contact, knowing that Nicole didn’t mean that the way her body obviously wants to take it.  She holds her arms straight out to her sides and spreads her legs slightly, in a classic frisk position.  “Of course.”

Nicole’s shoulders sag as she slumps onto the bed.  “I’m sorry, Waves.  I know you didn’t tell anyone.  After all, who would you tell?”  Waverly nods and sits next to her.  “But this could be really bad!  How did someone find out about those symbols?!?”

“What did the tip say?”  You KNOW what the tip said!  You wrote it!

Nicole reiterates the email and Waverly looks at her questioningly.  “Perry Croft?  Isn’t he some tech genius?”

Nicole whips her head around.  “How do you know that?”

Waverly shrugs.  “I’ve heard him mentioned on the news.  Maybe someone who knows him hacked into the system, saw the symbols, and recognized their connection to him?”

Nicole rubs her face harshly.  “Maybe.”  She hears her phone ring from the other room.  “SHIT!”  She rushes back into her office and answers quickly, “Agent Haught.”

“It’s Agent Lucado.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“What do you make of that email from this morning?  Who have you been talking to?”

“No one.  Not another human being has been in my office and I haven’t spoken to another living soul about this case other than the team.”

Waverly overhears this.  Well, as far as she’s aware, she’s telling the truth.

“Look, I know you probably want to go talk to Mr. Croft.  But he is a very rich, very powerful individual.  I’m sure he has security, lawyers, and maybe even a few senators in his pocket.  You won’t get within a hundred yards of him.”

“No one is above the law.”

“Please, Haught.  You and I both know that’s not true.”

“I’m not looking to take down Croft.  I just need to get some information.  Or maybe I should skip him and research his grandfather.”

“See what you can find and keep me posted.  If, and only if, you can keep Mr. Croft out of it, will I approve a field mission.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”  Lucado had hung up before Nicole had finished her sentence.  Waverly knocks on the door.  “You can come in, Waves.  I have some new work to do but if you want to keep going through files, go ahead.  Or it seems like this thing might blow open soon, so if you want to catch up on housework, that’s fine too.”

Waverly nods and sits down at the table.  “I’d like to see this through, if it’s all the same to you.”

“Sure.”  Nicole turns to her laptop and gets to work on her research while Waverly flips open a new file to review.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I think I’ve found him!”

Waverly looks up from the file she is studying when she hears Nicole’s exclamation.  “Who?”

“The grandfather.”  Waverly walks over to stand behind Nicole, looking at her computer screen.   “Perry’s paternal grandfather died before he was born so they probably didn’t have a secret language between them.  So I focused on his maternal grandfather.  Digging into genealogy, county records, and census data, I found a Mr. Juan Carlo Ortega living in a small town in Washington.  I found his name all over the local paper too.  Seems like he’s an upstanding citizen who does charity work and helps around the community.  Not the kind of guy who commits serial murder.”

Waverly shrugs.  “You said it yourself, it’s been over 40 years.  A lot could change over that time.”

“Yeah, you’re right.  I’ve got to see if he’ll talk to us.  That way, we can try to keep Richy Rich out of it and save me a lot of headaches.”  With that, she picks up her phone and Waverly walks out of the room.  

“Lucado.”

“Boss, I think I’ve found the grandfather.  I need permission to go talk to him.”

“Granted.  Take Doc with you.  You need any muscle?”

“No, I think the two of us can handle one old man.”

“Send me the details and we’ll get the flights set up.  Good work, Haught.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

Nicole hangs up the phone and sends Lucado and Doc an email with the details.  She then jumps up to rush out of the room.  “I have to go pack.  Looks like I’m going to Washington.”

Waverly holds up the bag she had just thrown together for Nicole while she was on the phone.  “Done.”  Nicole looks at her startled.  “Figured you would be in a hurry.”

Nicole takes the bag and checks quickly to be sure she’s got everything she might need - suit, gun, badge.  “Damn, you thought of everything.  And so quick!”

Waverly shrugs.  “Do you need me to do anything while you’re gone?  Keep looking through files?  Or anything around the house?”

“No.  I’m going to have to lock the office door when I leave.  No offense to you, but it’s procedure.”

“I understand.”

“So, just do whatever you would normally do around here.”  The phone rings and Nicole answers it.  “Haught.”

She hears a smooth, southern drawl on the other end.  “You have got 45 minutes to get to the airport for your flight, Agent Haught.  I suggest you make a run for it.  I will see you when you arrive.”

Nicole smiles widely.  “Thanks, Doc.  See you soon.”  She hangs up and locks the office door.  “I’ve got to go!  I’m barely going to make it as it is!  See you when I get back!”  She kisses Waverly’s cheek quickly and runs out of the house.

Waverly follows her to the door.  “Good luck!”, she shouts as Nicole backs out of the driveway.  Nicole throws her a thumbs-up and wave and disappears.

Chapter Text

Once Nicole is gone, Waverly runs through the house to give it a once-over, cleaning-wise.  She had been neglecting it while helping Nicole with the case and trying to get her to relax whenever possible.  Luckily, it isn’t too bad so it doesn’t take any time to dust, vacuum and clean up the kitchen.  

When she is satisfied, she runs over to her own apartment to do the same.  This takes her a little longer since she hasn’t been here in several weeks.  She’s glad her bills are all set to pay automatically and someone, thanks Wynonna , has been bringing her mail in, tossing any junk, and letting her know about anything that might be urgent.  As she’s finishing up, her phone buzzes.

Nicole:  Made it just in time for my flight.  About to take off but wanted to let you know and that I don’t know when I’ll be home.

Waverly warms immediately at the thoughtfulness of the text.

Waverly:  Have a safe flight!  Good luck on your ‘interview’!  Let me know what happens (if you can).  I’ll see you when you get home.

She drops the phone back in her pocket and heads out.  Work or Shorty’s.  Work or Shorty’s.  Jeremy or Wynonna.  Ugg, neither is going to be pretty.  Maybe I should see if they want to go to lunch together and get it over with all at once.  

She jumps in her jeep, which luckily starts right up even after being parked for so long.  She drives to Chearp Robotics, parks, and strolls into her office as if she’s been doing it every day.

As soon as she walks into the room, she hears a shriek and is grabbed into a tight hug.  “Oh, thank God, you’re back!!  Are you back?  What happened?  I haven’t heard from you!  Did you join a cult?  Blink twice if you joined a cult and need help escaping!!”

Waverly squeezes Jeremy hard.  “Jeremy, breathe!  And then let go so I can breathe!”  He releases her immediately and takes a half-step back.  “Hi Jer-Bear!  What’s new?”

“What’s new?  WHAT’S NEW?!?  Where have you been?  Wait, was that a blink?”

Waverly takes his hand and leads him to his chair, pushing him back and sitting on his desk.  “No, it was not a blink.  I didn’t join a cult.  But I am in trouble.”

“What, the hot client get you pregnant?”, he chuckles at his own joke.

Waverly rolls her eyes.  “That’s not the way lesbianing works, Jer!  And we haven’t...I mean, we never...We haven’t even kissed!”

“Whoa, okay.  That’s good, right?  She didn’t want you for THAT.  Or rather, didn’t want a robot for that.  That’s what you’ve said from the beginning, isn’t it?  Housekeeper, cook, friend, not sex.  So what’s the problem?  How are you in trouble?  Does it have to do with Perry Croft?”

“No!  And please don’t ever mention him again.  You know nothing about that or him.  Which is true.  I didn’t tell you why I needed you to track him down and I’m not going to.”  Jeremy holds up his hands in surrender before miming zipping his lips.  “Okay, good.  No, I’m in trouble because…”

He motions her to keep going.  “Because…?”

“I’ve kinda, sorta, falleninlovewithher!”  She blurts out.

“Wait, you’ve fallen for the hot redhead?”

“Yeah...wait, how did you know she is a hot redhead?”

“When you took off and put your crazy scheme into motion, I looked her up to see what made you do something so not-Waverly.  When I saw her picture, I completely understood, even if she’s not at all my type.  And I didn’t know she would be yours either, but good for you!”

Waverly stands up and starts pacing.  “But don’t you see?!  Not ‘good for me’!  She thinks I’m a damn robot!  I’ve been lying to her for months.  Well, not lying but definitely omitting.  And now, she’s gone away for her job, and I’ve told myself that I’m going to tell her the truth as soon as she gets back.  And I’m terrified!  She’s going to hate me!”

Jeremy stands up and blocks her pacing, putting his hands on her shoulders.  “Your turn to breathe.  Tell me, how does she feel about YOU?”

Waverly takes a deep breath.  “I don’t know.  We’ve been getting close, you know.  Or closer.  Eating dinner together, working together, watching TV and cuddling together.  She’s given me a kiss or two on the head or cheek, but never on the mouth.”

Jeremy nods.  “And she may not.  You said it yourself.  She thinks you’re a machine and she didn’t buy you, or it, whatever, as a...personal aid.”

Waverly rolls her eyes.  “You can say sex toy.”  

“All I’m saying is, no matter what she may WANT to do, she might be adverse to it.  For, you know, moral reasons.”

“Yeah, that’s true.  But doesn’t that mean she’ll hate me even more once she knows the truth?”  Waverly says, her voice trembling and eyes filling with unshed tears.

Jeremy shrugs.  “That, I can’t tell you.  I don’t know her so I don’t know how she’ll react.  But you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing.  All you can do is hope she cares enough about you to forgive you.”  

Waverly steps closer to him and he pulls her into another hug.  “Thanks, Jer.  You’re the best.”

He steps back again.  “Of course I am.  So what’s your plan now?  You said she was out of town.  You gonna get some work done around here for a change?”  He smirks so she knows he isn’t serious.

She sticks out her tongue at him.  “I’ve BEEN working all this time.  Just not here.  Why?  Is there something that needs my attention?  Because I was thinking I need to go see Wynonna.”

“Oh boy.  Yeah, would NOT want to be in your shoes right now!  Go!  Go see your sister.  Make it clear that none of this was my idea and that I tried to talk you out of it!”

She looks at him disapprovingly.  “Oh please.  I’m sure you’ve been over there every night, making plans to kidnap me or have me committed.”

“Not...not EVERY night.”

Waverly kisses his cheek.  “Bye Jer.  I’ll see you soon.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as Nicole’s plane touches down at Sea-Tac, she turns on her phone.  She notes that Doc’s plane is due to arrive within an hour but they have a rental car waiting so she pulls up a map of the airport to figure out where she needs to go.  Then she shoots off a quick text.

Nicole:  Just landed.  Going to get the rental car and wait for my partner.  Will let you know how it goes.

Waverly:  Best of luck!

Nicole smiles and pockets her phone, grabbing her bag and making her way out of the terminal and to the rental agent so she can get a jump on things.  She texts Doc to let him know where she will be waiting.

After about an hour, she sees Doc round the corner, looking like his typical cowboy self.  “Hey stranger!”

He tips his hat at her before pulling her into a hug and lifting her slightly off the ground.  She laughs, slapping his back, and he puts her back down.  “Missed ya, Agent Haught!  It’s been too long!”

They pick their bags back up and head for the car.  “It really has been!  What’s been going on with you and the team?”

Doc shrugs.  “Oh, you know.  Solving cases, being heroes, shooting bad guys, typical stuff.  All while you stay wrapped up nice and comfy in that mansion of yours.”

Nicole rolls her eyes.  “Oh please!  It’s a small house and I’ve been working my ass off!”

He takes a glance down.  “And what a fine ass it is.”

She whips around, pointing a finger at him.  “Hey, eyes up, Buddy!  Now behave yourself!”

“Beg pardon, Ma’am.”

She shakes her head with a smirk.  “God, I’ve missed you, Doc Holliday.”

“The same can be said for me.”  They arrive at the car, program the GPS, and head away from the airport.  “Now, tell me what I need to know.”

Nicole spends the next two hours of their trip telling Doc all the ins and outs of the case, what they may be able to expect, what questions to focus on.  They arrive in the largest town near their final destination and check into a hotel.  “It’s too late to go question him now.  We’ll go get some dinner and rest tonight, and head over there first thing tomorrow.”

“Sounds good, Haught.  Let me just wash up right quick and we can find someplace to go.  I want to hear all about the new lady who’s got you all smiles and happy.”

Nicole looks at him, startled.  “What?  What new lady?”

“Please, only one thing makes someone’s face light up like yours has been.  Don’t try to deny it.  I study faces professionally.”

“Okay, okay.  Let’s get cleaned up and get some food and I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

“Just tell me one thing - are you happy?”

Nicole smiles broadly.  “I really am.”

“Then that is all I care about, Nicole.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Waverly walks into Shorty’s and sets a large coffee cup down on the bar.  “Extra large, double mocha, shot of espresso, extra whip.”

Wynonna stares her down.  “Don’t think this gets you off the hook, Baby Girl.”  She picks up the drink and takes a large gulp.

Waverly looks at her, exasperated.  “Wynonna…”

“Uh uh, nope!  You do not get to walk in here like nothing has been happening the past two months.  You know, Jeremy had to physically stop me from going over there to get you!”

“I know…”

“And that’s not an easy thing to do!  That guy is like a twig.”  Waverly snorts.  “But when someone kidnaps my little sister and holds her hostage, I gotta do something.”

Waverly’s eyes widen.  “Wynonna, it’s not like that!  Nicole hasn’t done anything to me.”  Her face softens.  “She’s...incredible.”

“Nicole, huh.  Then why won’t she let you call me?”

“She doesn’t have anything to do with that.  I’ve been busy!  With work.  And other work.  And other...stuff.”

Wynonna rolls her eyes.  “Yeah, that clears everything right up!”

“I promise you, she’s been nothing but nice to me.  I’ve just been working really hard.  But I text you every day!”

Wynonna drops her chin.  “Not the same.”

Waverly puts her hands on Wynonna.  “No, I know.  But I’m here now.”  Her phone buzzes and she holds up one finger.  She reads the text Nicole sent and grins widely, sending a quick text back.

Wynonna’s jaw drops.  “Well, fuck!  You’re in love with her!”

Waverly looks at her in surprise.  “What?”

“You’re in love with her!  That was her who just texted, wasn’t it?  So where is she?  Why isn’t she here with you so I can give her the shovel talk?”

Waverly points a finger at her and says loudly, “Wyno-NO!  You are not going to have ANY kind of talk with her if it involves threats!  And she’s away on business.”

Wynonna grabs a rag and starts wiping down the bar.  “That’s the way it is.  Big Sis gotta have words with Little Sis’s...beaus.  You let me do it with Champ.”

Waverly looks at her incredulously.  “Let you?  You locked me in my bedroom and threatened him with Daddy’s gun until I jumped out my bedroom window before he could drive away!”

Wynonna shrugs.  “Worked.  And I was right on that one!”

“Maybe.  But Nicole’s different.  And IF you meet her, you’re going to be on your best behavior!”

Wynonna holds up her hands.  “Alright, alright.  I’ll behave.  For now.  But if she hurts you, even a little…”

“She won’t.  She’s just...everything.”

Wynonna puts two glasses on the bar and pours them each a shot of whiskey, passing one over and picking one up for herself.  “Well, here’s to you being in love.  Better you than me.  But keep those googly eyes out of my bar!!”  She throws back her shot.

Waverly lifts her own.  “Love you too, Sis.”  And throws back hers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole wakes bright and early the next morning, ready to get on with the day.  She and Doc grab some coffee before heading off.  They arrive at a small house, with a nice trimmed yard and fresh paint job.  It is obviously well-cared for.  They put on their best poker faces and knock on the door.

A man in his late-60s answers.  “Yes?”

Both Nicole and Doc hold up their badges.  “Mr. Ortega.  I’m Agent Holliday.  This here’s Agent Haught.  We were wondering if we could ask you some questions.”

Juan Carlo drops his hand from the door.  “Was wondering when someone would show up like this.  Call me JC.  C’mon in.”  Nicole and Doc look at each other in suspicion and surprise but follow JC into the house, closing the door behind them.  He leads them into the kitchen and points to a table.  “Would you like something to drink?”

“No, thank you.  You mind if we record our conversation?”

JC waves his hand at them.  “Do whatever it is you do.”  

Nicole pulls out a small recorder and turns it on.  “Mr.  Orte…”  He glares at her.  “JC.  I’m going to read you your rights, just so everything is clear.  Sir, you have the right to remain silent.  If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning.  If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you.  Do you understand these rights as I have explained them?  And knowing these rights, do you wish to speak with us now?”

JC nods and sits down at the table with a mug of coffee.  “Yeah, I understand and agree to being questioned.  Have a seat.”  Nicole and Doc sit down. “Go ahead and ask your questions.”

Nicole begins.  “Sir, where were you between the years of 1969 and 1974?”

JC drops his chin to his chest.  “Yeah, that’s what I figured this was about.  I’ll tell you everything you want to know.”  He looks them both square in the eye.  “But you call me ‘Sir’ again and we’re done, you hear?”

Doc nods.  “Of course.”  Nicole pulls out a notepad to take notes 

“Alright.  Back when I was a teen, I fell in with a bad crowd.  There was one guy in particular that took me under his wing.  Name of Robert Svane but he insisted I call him Bobo.  He called me Stupid Carl, which I should’ve taken offense to but I worshipped him so I let him.  He tells me we’re gonna take a cross-country trip on our bikes.  So I drop out of school and follow him out of town.  We drank, did drugs, slept outside, and stole whatever we could to get food, gas, or more party supplies.  I saw it as a grand adventure.”

“One day, we ride past a girl hitchhiking on the side of the road.  He circles around and picks her up.  I don’t think nothin’ of it.  Think maybe he’s gonna have a little fun then drop her off wherever she was headin’.  We ride until it gets dark out and he suddenly pulls off into some woods.  He tells me to stay with the bikes and drags her into the trees.  I sit out there for a while, probably drinking, probably smoking, until he comes back.  Alone and zipping up his pants.  He tells me ‘let’s go’.  So we get back on our bikes and take off.  Couple hours later, we stop for the night and he tells me what he’d done.  She hadn’t wanted any of it but he had, so he did what he wanted and wrung her neck.  His words, not mine.”

“It’s no excuse, but I was stoned and not really comprehending what he was saying.  Thought maybe it was an accident.  Until it happened a couple more times.  Same way - pick up a girl, take her off somewhere private, leave without her.  I knew it wasn’t right, but, like I said, I worshipped him so I just stayed quiet.”

“We stop in some hole-in-the-wall town, I guess not unlike this one, and he breaks into a tattoo parlor and steals a gun and ink.  I couldn’t figure out what he wanted it for except maybe so we could do some on ourselves.  But that night, he picks up another girl, does his thing, and I hear buzzing.  First time I’d ever actually heard anything.  I go to check it out and he’s tattooing a letter on her stomach.  I ask him what he’s doing and he shoots me this evil smile.  Says he’s ‘marking his territory’.  Then he tells me that I’m doing the next one.”

“And so it went.  We zipped around the entire continent - US, Canada, even went down to Mexico.  Took turns with the tattoos, although I never did the actual deeds.  I never forced myself on a woman or had any interest in killin’.  But I will admit to being present, not trying to stop him in any way, and helping do the marks.”

Nicole looks pale, like she’s going to be sick.  “What were you writing?”

“Never got it figured out, did you?  Not surprised.  Even if you found them all, put them in the right order, and cracked my code, he was doing it all in Russian.  He wanted it to be:  We see you but you don't see us.  We know you but you don't know us.  We will stop you but you won't stop us!   But he never finished.”

Doc speaks up.  “Why?”

“I’m getting to it.  We’d been doing it for years at this point.  I had no idea where we were or even what year it was.  We see a girl hitchhiking and stop to pick her up.  She looked at me and smiled.  She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  When we stop by the woods, I pull him aside and beg him to leave this one be.  To just let her go.  He pushes me away, grabs her hair, and starts dragging her.  She yells out my name.  Not the only name I’d heard all these years, Stupid Carl, but my real name, Juan Carlo.  I realize that we knew each other from back home.  I run after Bobo and force him away from her.  He pulls out a knife and we start fighting over it.  I somehow got the upper hand and the knife ended up in his throat.  He falls off me, dead.”  

“The girl is crying, saying we have to call the police.  But she didn’t know everything we had done.  I told her that it was self-defense and convinced her that we needed to leave.  We jumped on my bike and took off.  The girl, Maeve, and I found this town.  We settled down, had some kids, made a life.  I never looked back.”

“I did my best to be a good person after that. Ministered at the local church.  Helped lead troubled teens on the straight and narrow.  Did everything I could to make up for what I’d done.”

Doc glares at him.  “And you think that absolves you of your guilt?”

JC shakes his head.  “No.  Nothing could do that.  I did what I did and I’m willing to take the punishment for it.”

Nicole swallows hard.  “How many?”

“Including Bobo, 77.”

Nicole’s head shoots up.  “What?!?”

“I can try to help you with them all.  Places, dates, names if I know them.  If they had IDs, we would take them as trophies.  I got rid of them all a long time ago.  It’s been almost 50 years and my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.  And it was never that great to begin with.”

Nicole drops her pen and rubs her face hard.  77?!?  No way will we be able to track them all down.  All those women never getting to rest in peace.  All those families never getting closure.

She’s pulled from her reverie by JC’s voice.  “Can I ask you a question?”  She sits up and gives him a sharp nod.  “How did you find me?  After all these years?”

“The symbols.  Your secret language with your grandson.”

JC takes a deep breath.  “Perry was a good boy.  Loved hanging out with me in my office.  He found the paper I had written the code on and asked me about it.  I told him it was a secret language and that I would teach it to him if he promised to keep it a secret.  I didn’t know he ever told anyone about it.”

Nicole shrugs.  “Guess you never really know someone.”  

“Look, after I got here, I had a good life.  I raised a good family.  My wife passed a couple years ago and I don’t have too much longer on this Earth myself.  I’m willing to plead guilty to whatever the charges are.  But please leave Perry and the rest of my family out of this.  They don’t know anything.”

Nicole stands.  “Juan Carlo, you are under arrest.”

Chapter Text

Nicole texts Waverly sporadically over the next several days.

Nicole:  Can’t talk right now.  Went well.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole:  Heading to DC.  Talk soon .

~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole:  Meeting with team at office.  Be home soon, I hope.

Each of these texts makes Waverly both excited and anxious.  Excited because she knows she’ll see Nicole soon.  Anxious, well, because the day of reckoning, of finally telling Nicole the truth, is coming closer and closer. 

She spends time with Jeremy and Wynonna but continues to sleep at Nicole’s.  Never know when she’ll get home.  Don’t want her to get suspicious!  She knows it’s an excuse but she wants to spend as much time around Nicole’s things as possible.

So she spends her days doing work remotely for Chearp and her evenings cleaning everything that was neglected while she was working the case with Nicole.  Six days after Nicole left, she is putting a load of laundry into the dryer when she hears a car pull into the driveway.  She runs over to peek out the window and sees Nicole’s car.  She steps back and waits in the hallway, wringing her hands nervously.

The door opens and a tired Nicole walks in, immediately dropping her bag on the floor.  “Honey, I’m home!”

Waverly laughs and Nicole looks up and notices her, a smile lighting up her face.  “Hi there.”

“Hi.  How did it go?” Waverly asks.

“We got him.”  Nicole says excitedly.  “He confessed to 77 murders, including his own partner.  He’s been booked and has agreed to plead guilty.”

Waverly shrieks and runs over to Nicole, who catches her in a hug, lifting her off the ground.  “Nicole, that’s incredible!!  I’m so happy for you!”

Nicole sets her back down.  “Thanks!  I’m going to go take a shower.  Wash the trip off me.  Go get dressed.  We’re going out to celebrate.”

Waverly looks at her, eyes widening in surprise.  They had never left the house together.  “We are?”

“Yeah.  There’s a vegan restaurant in the city that looks interesting.  I got us reservations for 6.”

Waverly claps her hands excitedly.  “Okay!”  She picks up Nicole’s bag.  “You go shower.  I’ll take care of this.”

Nicole nods and heads into the bathroom as Waverly takes the bag into Nicole’s room to unpack.  Nicole turns the water on a little hotter than she usually likes, as if trying to rinse away the evil she had been surrounded by since she was last home.  JC seems like a harmless, old man now but she can’t help but remember the pictures of the women he had a hand in killing.  She scrubs herself pink and then lets the water rush over her while she tries to release the tension in her body.  She finally turns off the shower, pulls open the curtain, and reaches out for her towel...which isn’t hanging on the wall like it usually was.  “Aww, crap.  Waves!”

Waverly rushes into the bathroom but stops dead at the sight before her.  Nicole moves as if to cover herself before muttering, “What am I doing?  You’re a robot.  You don’t care if I’m naked.”  She raises her voice to a normal level.  “Can you get me a towel?”

Oh. My. GoD!  Waverly can’t help but to stare at Nicole in all her naked glory.  Don’t stutter.  Don’t stutter.  DO NOT STUTTER!   “Of course.”  Good job!  She turns on her heels and quick steps out of the room.  Once the door is closed, she barely stops herself from falling back against it.

Her mind keeps replaying the past minute in her head, over and over again.  Watching the water drip down Nicole’s glorious body, wishing she could follow them with her tongue and kiss Nicole all over.  She throws her head back, closing her eyes with a deep sigh, feeling all the blood in her body pool between her legs.  She stands up quickly, “Fudgenuggets!”, and runs to get a towel out of the dryer.

When she gets back, seconds later, she debates whether she should torture herself by walking back into the bathroom, but ultimately decides just to crack the door open a little and hand the towel through.  She feels it leave her hand and hears a quiet “thanks.”  She closes the door again and heads to her room to change for the evening.

Waverly pulls out the only dress she brought from the closet, a light blue, form-fitting, sleeveless number that she knows looks great on her.  She puts it on and brushes out her hair, deciding to keep it simple and pull it back in a loose ponytail.  Then she sits on her bed, trying to calm her breathing.  It’s NOT a date.  We’re just going out to celebrate.  I’m sure Nicole isn’t thinking of it as a date.  She doesn’t see me that way.  Which is why I need to tell her the truth.  Maybe, after she knows, it COULD be a date.  But I’ll wait until after.  I don’t want to ruin her night.  And I have been wanting to try that restaurant…   With her little pep talk over, she stands and walks out of her room, feeling a bit more confident.

Until she sees Nicole standing in the hall.  She’s wearing black slacks, a sharp white blouse, and a black blazer, all looking tailor made for the tall redhead.  “Wow!  You look great!”

Nicole’s jaw had dropped when she saw Waverly, but pulled herself together enough to respond.  “You are a vision.”  Waverly looks down at herself, brushing an invisible piece of lint off the dress, before meeting her eyes.  “Ready?”

Waverly nods and takes Nicole’s proffered hand, who leads them out into the night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole tells Waverly all about what happened on her trip in the car on the way to the restaurant.  Everything that JC told them, accompanying him to DC for booking and arraignment, and briefing her team on the next steps.  They would all work together with JC to try to identify the remaining victims while balancing their other cases and allowing Nicole to go home and do the interviews over Zoom.

Once her story is done, Nicole changes the subject to lighter fare so they can enjoy the night without the dark cloud hanging over them.  The wine is good, the food delicious, and the company exquisite.  They spend the evening talking and laughing, occasionally holding hands over the table, looking to all the world like a happy couple out for the evening.

As they leave the restaurant, Nicole wraps her arm around Waverly’s shoulder.  Waverly shivers and Nicole pulls them to a stop, taking off her blazer, and helping her put it on.  Waverly smiles shyly in thanks and Nicole replaces her arm on her shoulder, leading them back to the car.

The drive home is full of more talking, laughing, and even singing along with the radio.  But the butterflies in Waverly’s stomach get increasingly jittery the closer they get to home.  Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow to tell her.  Why ruin a perfect evening with THAT?!  Just let us both have this one night.  Sometimes Waverly really wished the devil would just go away!

When they walk into the house, Waverly turns to face Nicole and is surprised to find Nicole’s lips pressed against her own.  She groans and gives in, kissing her back and running her hands through soft red hair.

Nicole spins them around and presses Waverly against the door.  She slides the blazer from her shoulders and lets it drop to the floor.  She runs her tongue against Waverly’s lips, who grants access immediately, their tongues dueling for dominance.  Nicole runs her hands up Waverly’s sides, her thumbs brushing the undersides of her breasts before running them back down to her hips.

Their lips break apart, both gasping for air, before Nicole moves her lips to Waverly’s cheek, chin, and down her neck, shifting so her knee is pressed between Waverly’s legs.  “God, Waves.  I know I shouldn’t.  I know this is wrong.  But I want you so bad.”

Waverly feels as if a bucket of ice water has been dumped on her.  I - WE - can’t do this without her knowing the truth!  She pushes against Nicole’s shoulders.  “Wait, wait, wait, Nicole, wait.”  Nicole takes a step back, looking confused, as if trying to determine if she needed to get consent from a machine.  “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Nicole is still trying to catch her breath.  “Okay.”

Waverly takes a deep breath.  “I’m...I’m not what you think I am.  I’m not a robot.”

Now it’s Nicole’s turn to look shocked.  She stumbles back another step.  “What?!”

“My name is Waverly Earp.  I’m the co-owner of Chearp Robotics.  And I’m human.”

Nicole turns and slowly walks into the living room, slumping onto the couch.  Waverly follows behind her and sits on the coffee table in front of her.  “How?  Why?”

“When your order came through, Jeremy, my partner, uh, business partner, saw the avatar that you had made up and noticed that it looked just like me.  We thought my older sister was playing a prank on us.  Or maybe my ex was trying to make a clone of me for…personal uses.  When we looked up the name and address of the purchaser, I didn’t recognize your name.  I didn’t know how we knew each other or even IF we knew each other.  But the similarities between me and the robot you designed were too obvious to ignore.”

“I Googled you, saw your picture, and KNEW that I didn’t know you.  So I broke company policy and emailed you.  When you responded, you sounded so lonely.  Lost.  And I just wanted to meet you.  I thought maybe I could be the friend you were so desperately looking for.”

“But when I got here, you made the assumption, and understandably so, that I was the robot that you had purchased.  I should’ve corrected you immediately, I know, but I was afraid if I did, that I would never see you again.”

Nicole glares at her.  “So instead, you lied to me.”

Waverly winces and gives a half-shrug.  “I never EXPLICITLY lied to you.  I was very careful about that.  I just didn’t correct your mistake.”

“You told me you were a vegan robot!”  Nicole says, with a louder voice than Waverly is used to hearing from her.

“No, YOU said I was a vegan robot.  I just said I was a vegan.  I never said I was a robot.”

Nicole looks at her angrily.  “Lies by omission are still lies, Waverly.”

“I know.  And I’m sorry for that.  I’m so, SO sorry, Nicole.”

“This whole time, I’ve been treating you like a machine.  Like a thing.  Like a slave!”

Waverly puts her hands on top of Nicole’s and slides to her knees in front of her.  “NO!  No, you never treated me with anything but respect.  If you hadn’t, I would’ve left.”

Nicole looks at her in disbelief.  “I called you into the bathroom to fetch me a towel while I was naked!”

Waverly tilts her head to the side, her face softening as if remembering.  “Okay, yeah, that one was a little embarrassing.”  She gives a small smirk.  “But I’m certainly not complaining.”

Nicole pulls her hands out from under Waverly’s and rubs her face.  “I don’t...I don’t even know what to say right now.  Or how I’m supposed to react to all this.”

Waverly nods and sits on the couch next to her, facing her.  “I know.  But please, don’t shut me out.  I lo...like you.  A lot.  And I really hope you can forgive me and we can still be friends.  Or maybe even something more.”

Nicole shakes her head.  “I don’t know, Waverly.  I’m going to need some time to think about this.”

“I get it.”

Nicole looks away from her, as if trying to keep her emotions in check.  “I think you should leave.  You do have somewhere else to go, right?”

Waverly nods solemnly, eyes shining with unshed tears.  “Yeah, I have my own place.”

Nicole nods, still avoiding eye contact.  “Okay, good.  Do you need a ride?”

“No, it’s close enough for me to walk.”

Nicole nods and they both stand and walk to the door.  Nicole opens it and Waverly steps out before turning back to face her.  “Bye, Nicole.”

“Good bye, Waverly.”  And with that, Nicole closes the door.  Waverly puts her hand on the closed door, covers her mouth, and chokes back a loud sob before turning and rushing away.  On the other side, Nicole falls back against the door, slides to the ground, drops her head to her knees, and cries.

Chapter Text

Waverly buries herself in her work.  She refuses to talk to anyone about what happened, even her two best friends that she usually tells everything to.  Wynonna and Jeremy can see how upset she is but they decide to leave her be, for now.

Nicole, meanwhile, walks around her house like a zombie.  Not sleeping, not eating, not even working.  Everywhere she looks, she’s reminded of Waverly.  She tries to clean up her office, take apart the murder board and get the files in order, but even that brings her no joy.  She would catch a glimpse of the houseplant that Waverly brought back to life and is now flourishing.  Unlike her own life.  Or she ends up staring at the chair Waverly would sit in while helping her with the case.  The case she worked and fought so hard to close was now just one more reminder of the woman she lost. 

A week passes and Nicole feels like she is getting back on track.  After all, she has to put together the files for the prosecutor in charge of JC’s case.  She works with her team on how they are going to conduct future interviews, but they all seem to see that her heart isn’t in it and Lucado suggests, or rather demands, that Nicole take some time off.  They all think she is burnt out from the case and she refuses to tell them differently.

Nicole is packing up the physical files to send back to the office when she is startled out of the silence by the doorbell.  When she opens the door, she is surprised to find the brunette she’s trying to forget standing outside.

“Hi, I’m Waverly!”  Waverly says, with a high-pitched, chipper voice.

Nicole scowls.  “I don’t have time for this right now, Waverly.”

“Okay, I’ll wait!”

Nicole is taken aback but closes the door.  She stands there for a minute before peeking outside to find Waverly still standing and staring at the door.  She opens it back up.

“Waverly, what do you want?”

“To come in, please.”  Waverly says with a smile.  Nicole steps back from the door and sweeps her arm, motioning her inside.  “Thank you!”  Nicole closes the door and turns to find Waverly staring at her.  “What would you like me to do?”

Nicole shrugs.  “Ummm, go away?”

“Okay then.  Where would you like me to go?”

Nicole throws up her arms angrily.  “I don’t care!  Anywhere but here!”

“Okay then.  When would you like me to come back?”

Nicole stares at her, furious.  “I don’t know.  Never?!?”

Waverly stares at Nicole.  “That does not compute.  Would you like me to return to Chearp Robotics?”

Nicole’s jaw drops.  “Oh my God, you’re a robot.”, she says, shock all over her face.

Waverly smiles and nods.  “Yes!  I’m Waverly!  From Chearp Robotics!”

Nicole shakes her head, muttering, “I can’t believe this!”  She points at the Waverly-bot.  “You wait right there!”

“Okay then.”

Nicole retrieves her phone, pulling up her contacts, and calling on Facetime.  Waverly’s face appears on screen.  “Oh, Nicole.  I’m so glad you cal…”

Nicole yells out.  “What the fuck, Waverly!!”

Waverly stops and looks perplexed.  “What did I do now?”

Nicole turns the screen to face the Waverly-bot.  “What is this...thing doing in my house?!”

Waverly sees what Nicole is so angry about and drops her phone.  “Goddamn it!  Jeremy!”

A young man wheels his chair into view.  “What’s up?”

“I told you not to send out Nicole’s order!  To put it on hold until I talked to her!!”

Jeremy looks confused.  “I did!  Didn’t I?”  He wheels back out of sight of the phone.  Nicole rolls her eyes at his antics and hears him typing on his keyboard.  “Aww, crap.  Sorry Waves!  I really did mean to.  I guess I just forgot.”

Waverly turns the screen back on herself.  “I’m so sorry, Nicole.  This is just a big misunderstanding.  You can send her back.  We’ll send you a refund.”

Nicole looks slightly pacified after hearing that Waverly didn’t mean for this to happen.  “No, it’s fine.  I can have it clean up after me, I guess.”

Waverly nods, enthusiastically.  “Whatever you’d like to do.”

“I do need the address to your office though.  I need to send you a check.”

Waverly looks confused again.  “For what?  You already paid for her?”

Nicole’s face is a hard line as she answers.  “Yes, but I didn’t pay for you.  You spent months as my cook and housekeeper, and I need to pay you for your time.”

Waverly looks distraught.  “Nicole, you don’t have to pay me for anything.  I don’t want your money.”

“So don’t cash the check!  Nevermind, I’ll find the address online.  Good bye, Waverly.”  She disconnects the call and drops onto her couch, tossing the phone on the table.  The Waverly-bot is still standing where she had left her.  “Would you go...hide in a closet somewhere?”

“Okay then!”  The Waverly-bot walks into the kitchen and Nicole hears a door open and then close.  She drops her head onto the back of the couch in frustration and groans.  

After a few minutes, she walks into the kitchen and looks around.  Not seeing the Waverly-bot, she pulls out some whiskey and a glass, adds ice, and walks back into the living room.  She turns the TV on, quickly skipping past the show she is still in the middle of with Waverly.  She pours herself a drink, and settles back for some mindless entertainment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later that evening, after several glasses of whiskey, she picks her phone back up and starts to send a text.

Nicole:  Need some advice...

Scowling, she erases it and starts again.

Nicole:  Need help!  

She shakes her head.  Way too dramatic.  She erases it and types again.

Nicole:  Time to talk?

She hits send and the phone rings less than a minute later.  “Hey Hun!”

Nicole smiles.  “It’s so good to hear your voice.”

Shae chuckles.  “ It’s good to hear your voice too, Nic.  How’s work?”

Nicole settles back into the couch, phone in one hand and drink in the other.  “Good.  I just closed a huge case from 50 years ago.  77 victims.”

“Oh, Nicole!  That’s fantastic!  I’m so proud of you!!”  Shae exclaims.

“Thanks, Shae.  How about you?”

“I’m exhausted.  Barely have time to eat or sleep.”

“You love it.”

“I really do.  I’m in my element here.  And it sounds like you’re doing great there.”

Nicole’s smile slips a little.  “Yeah.  Or, well, with work at least.”

“Uh oh.  That sounds serious.  Girl trouble?”

Nicole drops her chin to her chest.  “Kind of.  I have to tell you something.  Please don’t judge me!”

“Nic, I would never judge you!  You know that!  And knowing you, how bad can it be?”

So Nicole starts her story.  “Have you seen any of the stories about the life-like robots that have been going around?”

“Little pieces here and there.  I don’t have a lot of time to watch or read the news.”

“Right.  Well, I bought one.  Just to help around the house and for companionship.  Not THAT kind of companionship!  Just to have someone around to talk to.”

“Okay.  That doesn’t sound that bad.”

“Well, I kinda based her physically on a woman I have seen in town.”  Nicole sighs deeply.  “Turns out, that woman owns the robotic company.”

“Uh oh.”

“Yeah.  But instead of cancelling my order or calling me out on it, she decided to impersonate the robot.”

“What?!”

“She showed up at my house and I assumed that she was the robot I had ordered.  Why would I not, you know?”

“Sure.”

“I let her in, show her around the house, explain what I want her to do.  She nods along, never saying outright that she’s a robot but not correcting me either.”

“Ooo-kay?”

“So, she moves in with me!  She cleans my house, cooks my meals, even did all my landscaping!  Never once letting on that she’s anything other than a robot!”

“And you never noticed anything was off?”

Nicole throws her arms up in the air.  “NO!  I just thought she was really technologically advanced!  I mean, sure, looking back at it now, I should’ve seen it.  She ate, she slept, she blushed.  She made decisions that a machine wouldn’t have been programmed to make.  But I enjoyed having her around so much that I just...overlooked the obvious, I guess.”

“Uh oh.”

“What?”

“You fell for her.”

“What?  How?”

“Come on, Nic.  I’ve known you almost our entire lives.  I know what you sound like when you’re in love.”

“Shae, I’m sorry…”

“No, Nic.  Don’t apologize.  Water under a very tall bridge.  I just want you to be happy.  And if this woman makes you happy, then I’m happy for you.”

“That’s just it, Shae.  I’m...I’m not happy.”

“Oh, right.  Sorry.  Please continue with your story.”

“You’re right.  I fell for her.  All the while, still thinking she was a machine and feeling disgusted with myself.  But I couldn’t help it!  She was perfect!  She actually forced me to relax.  I was spending time with her in the evenings, helping her make dinner, cuddling on the couch.  She even helped me with the case I was working on…”

“Wait!  You let her into your work life?!”

Nicole shrugs.  “Yeah.  It involved a foreign language and she’s multilingual, so I thought maybe she could help.  Plus, with what I thought was a computer brain, I thought she might be able to see something that humans would miss.”

“Yeah, that makes sense.  But, wow, Nic!  You never let anyone help with your work.”

“I know, I know.  It didn’t matter anyway.  I got a tip from someone that led me to the killer.  I went to interview him and he confessed to everything.  Even victims we didn’t have linked to him.  And when I got home, Waverly and I went out to celebrate.”

“Pretty name.”

Nicole softens.  “Beautiful name for a beautiful person.”  She shakes herself out of her reverie.  “Anyway, we went out on what could’ve been described as an incredible first date.  We had dinner, held hands, and had great conversations.  When we got back to the house, I couldn’t help myself.  I kissed her.  And...she kissed me back.  But when I tried to break my own rule of not using her THAT way, she stopped us.  And then she told me the truth.  That she was actually a red-blooded, human being.”

“That should’ve thrilled the hell out of you though.  You fell for a real person!”

“But she lied to me, Shae!  She kept this huge secret from me about who she really was!  How can I ever forgive her for that?!”

“You forgave me.”   Shae says quietly.

“What?”  Nicole asks, confused.

“I did the same thing.  You made an assumption, understandably, about my gender.  And I didn’t tell you the truth for years!  Then I dropped the bombshell on you and you took some time and eventually forgave me.  For which I will be forever grateful.”

“Shae, that was completely different.”

“How so?  Sounds pretty similar to me.”  Nicole sits in silence for a minute.  “Look, all I’m saying is, it sounds like you really like this woman.  Maybe even love her.  And it sounds like she may feel the same about you.  If you want my advice…”

“That’s why we’re talking.”

“Then I say, go for it.  Try again.  Get to know the real her.  Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t.  But at least you’ll know it wasn’t for lack of trying.  And maybe you’ll at least be able to walk away as friends.”

“Yeah, maybe.  Thanks, Shae.”

“Anytime Hun.  I’m always here for you, you know that.  And let me know how it goes?”

“Of course I will.”  She glances at her watch.  “It’s really late there.  I should let you go get some sleep.”

“Yeah, early day tomorrow.  And while I’m used to going on basically zero sleep, I really shouldn’t push it.  Good night, Nic.”

“Night, Shae.  And thanks.”  She hangs up and sets her phone back down on the table.  She looks at her half-full glass and walks over to dump it down the drain before heading to bed, knowing the chances of her actually falling asleep are slim.

Chapter Text

For the first time since moving to this god-forsaken, backwater town, Nicole is bored.  Without a new case to work on and being ordered to take a break, she has nothing to do.  She hasn’t been able to sleep much since her phone call with Shae and is somehow out of booze so she wanders into the local bar just to get away from her house.  And maybe to get away from the Waverly-bot, if she’s being honest with herself.  The place appears to be pretty dead, which makes sense for a Tuesday night.  There is a tall, tough-looking brunette manning the bar so she makes her way over and takes a seat.  “Whiskey, double, on the rocks.”

The bartender reaches down and puts a glass on the bar.  “Uh oh.  Sounds serious.  Relationship trouble?”  She’s heavy-handed as she pours the amber liquid and pushes it in front of Nicole.

Nicole picks up her drink and takes a sip.  “Guess you could say that, yeah.”

The bartender leans closer.  “First drink is on me.  Second costs double.”

Nicole raises an eyebrow.  “So what happens if I drink this one and leave?”

The bartender shrugs.  “Then I guess I’ll be out the cost of a drink.  But you won’t hear about the dozen places I know where you can hide the body.”

Nicole scoffs.  “I don’t think murder is the answer but thanks for the offer.”

“Fine, I’ll save them for next time.”  The bartender grabs a bottle from under the bar and walks over to an older gentleman at the end of the bar to drop it off.  “Here you go, Pops.”

Nicole can hear the man mumble something under his breath but can’t understand what is said.

A door to the left of the bar opens and a shorter brunette backs out, her arms laden with crates.  “Wynonna, where do you want these?”  Waverly turns around.

Wynonna glances at her.  “Just put ‘em down back here, Baby Girl.  I’ll take care of them.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Nicole groans as she drops her head onto the bar.

“Nicole?!”  Waverly exclaims in surprise as she sets the crates down a little harder than necessary.

Wynonna looks between the two of them and points at the redhead.  “Wait!  Nicole?  THE Nicole?!”  She leans over and mutters out of the corner of her mouth, “Offer’s off the table.”  

Nicole throws her hands up in the air.  “Jesus Christ, Waverly!  Did you tell everyone in town?”

Waverly looks startled.  “What?  No!”

Wynonna steps in.  “What?  That you and my sister have been shacked up in your love nest for the past two months until you broke her heart and left her high and dry?  No, I’m sure she only told me.  And probably Jeremy.”

Nicole sits up and drains her glass.  “Guess that’s my cue.  Just gimme my check.”

Waverly shakes her head.  “No!  No, ummm, I’m just helping my sister organize the back room.  I’ll head back in there.  And I’ll stay back there.  I’ll leave you alone, I swear.  Just stay and have your drink.  Wynonna will leave you alone, won’t you?”

Wynonna shrugs.  “Yeah, sure.”

Waverly mutters to her under her breath.  “I mean it!  This is all on me.  Nicole didn’t do anything wrong.  So you just behave.”  Wynonna waves her off and the short brunette walks into the back room and the door closes behind her. 

Wynonna pours another double for Nicole and pours herself one as well.  “Look, I know it’s none of my business.  Except that she’s my sister so everything that affects her is my business.  But she’s really sorry for how everything went down.  She misses you.  And she’s miserable.  No way would she be helping me if she wasn’t.  The only thing that cheers her up when she gets like this is straightening up someone else’s mess.  In this case, literally.  I don’t know all what happened between the two of you but it seems like you’re not doing much better than she is.   So maybe you could give her another chance?”  Nicole opens her mouth, but Wynonna interrupts, “Just think about it.  Okay?”  She chugs her drink and walks to the other end of the bar to take another order.  

Nicole watches her walk away, then glances at the door that Waverly went through.  She groans and rubs her face before picking her drink back up.  She swallows it down in one go and motions to Wynonna for a refill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You know what’s not fair?”  Nicole slurs as she stumbles through the door into the bar’s storage area and startles Waverly.  “YOU had all the facts.  You knew everything that was going on.  I was kept in the dark about one VERY important fact!  Kinda the most important fact.  That you are a living, breathing, human being.  NOT a robot.  NOT a machine.”

Waverly takes a step toward her.  “Nicole, I…”  

Nicole holds out a hand.  “Nope!  My turn to talk.  You just listen.”

Waverly nods, makes a zipping motion across her lips, and half sits, half leans on a stack of crates.

Nicole starts pacing around the room, waving her hands around.  “Now, where was I?  Oh, right!  A machine!  That’s what I ordered.  That’s what I paid for.  And that’s what I have now.  But now, that’s not what I want!  That thing I have now.  That thing with your face, and your voice, but not your personality.  It’s all chipper and does everything I ask it to.  But it doesn’t do what I DON’T ask it to.  It doesn’t have feelings, or intuition.  It doesn’t laugh at my jokes.  It doesn’t draw me a bubble bath because I’ve had a bad day at work.  It doesn’t know to make me a silly sandwich at lunch when I’m stressed out.  It definitely doesn’t run it’s hand through my hair while we watch TV.  It just sits there all stiff and quiet.  Maybe it would do all those things if I ask it to, but I don’t wanna hafta ask.  And that’s YOUR fault.  You spoiled me into thinking that’s what it would do.  Because YOU did all those things.  And now the thing I bought and paid for isn’t enough!  Because it isn’t you!  YOU’RE enough!  No, you’re MORE than enough.”  

She swings her arm and hits some bottles on one of the shelves.  Waverly jumps up to try to steady them but Nicole grabs them before they fall.  “Whoops!  Got ‘em!”  She grabs one of the bottles, pulls off the top, and takes a large swig.  “Ahhh!”, she sighs.  She points at Waverly with the bottle.  “And I come in here and come face-to-face with your sister and dad just to prove how human you really are.”

Waverly holds up a finger, questioningly.  “Wait, dad?”

Nicole motions with the bottle towards the bar proper.  “Yeah, old guy at the end of the bar.  Your sis called him ‘Pops’.”

Waverly laughs.  “That’s Sheriff Nedley.  He’s kind of a father figure to all the young people in town so Wynonna calls him ‘Pops’ to annoy him.  But I’ve seen him smirk behind her back so I know it doesn’t really bother him.  Sorry!  Go ahead with your rant.”

“Right, anyway, do you know how crazy I felt?!  Do you?  I thought I was losing my goddamn mind!  I thought I was falling in love with a robot!  When all the while, I was falling in love with a real person!  And then you tell me the truth, just as I was starting to accept my insanity.  How was I supposed to react to that?  Huh?!  That the machine I was in love with is actually a person I was in love with!  Someone I could actually have a real future with!  Not some dirty little secret that I would have to hide but someone I could actually tell the world about.  That I could go out with and be proud to have on my arm.  To call mine.  And then, poof, you’re gone, and I’ve got some cheap replacement.  Well, not cheap, ‘cause, hello!  Expensive!  But cheap ‘cause it’s not you.  And I don’t want it.  I want you!  I only want you!  And you’re so pretty and I like you so much.  No, I love you so much!  And…”  

Waverly walks over and takes the bottle out of her hand.  She sets it on the floor and places her hands on Nicole’s cheeks.  “Hey, okay.  I didn’t go poof.  I’m right here.  And for as long as you want me, I’ll be by your side, okay?”

Nicole grabs her into a tight hug, dropping her head on her shoulder and letting out a sob.  Waverly stumbles back slightly before catching herself and wraps her arms around her back and rubs.  Man, can this woman hug!   “It’s okay.  I’m right here.  I’ve got you.”  They hold on tight that way for a while with Waverly whispering platitudes and dropping small kisses on Nicole’s head.  When Nicole had cried herself out, she pulls back slightly.

Waverly gives her a small smile.  “I think we should get you home, okay?”

Nicole nods childishly and Waverly wraps an arm around her lower back to lead her out of the back room.  “I need to pay my tab.”

Waverly chuckles.  “I’ll take care of it.  I know the owner.”

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up the next morning with the sun streaming over her face and her head pounding.  She notices a glass of water and a bottle of painkillers sitting on her nightstand.  She groans as she sits up and reaches over to take some pills before getting up to get dressed.

She walks into the living room and sees Waverly sleeping on the couch.  “Ugh, Waverly.  Go to your closet or somethin’”.

Waverly sits up.  “Nope, wrong Waverly.”  She stretches.  “I’m not sure where the bot is.  I sent her away when we got home last night.  Honestly, she was creeping me out a little.”

Nicole looks at her with confusion.  “Waverly?  What are you doing here?”

Waverly stands up.  “I drove you home in your car last night.  And when I got here, I realized I didn’t have a way to go get my car.  That, and I wanted to make sure you were okay this morning.  And I was really tired.  So I just fell asleep on the couch.  Hope that was okay?”

Nicole shrugs.  “Yeah, I...I guess.  Thanks for getting me home.”

Waverly smiles.  “Of course.  Now, why don’t you go take a shower and I’ll make you some breakfast?”

Nicole glances around.  “I can’t.  I need to get to work.”  Even if she’s on leave, she doesn’t want Waverly to know that.

“Well, you’re already super late.  Why don’t you, now hear me out, why don’t you call in sick?”

Nicole pretends to be shocked at the suggestion.  “What?!?”

“Nicole, you work all the time.  At all hours of the day and night.  I’m sure you have enough vacation and sick time to take one day off.”

“Yeah, but what else am I going to do?  What would I do with a day off?”

Waverly shrugs.  “Well, we could talk.  Or we could hang out like we used to, maybe watch a movie or our show.  Or if you’d rather be alone, you could drive me to my car at Shorty’s.  Or I could call Wynonna to come pick me up.  You could just have a day to relax.”

Nicole thinks for a second.  An entire day with Waverly with nothing to do.  No cases to work on.  Is that what I want?  Absolutely!  She motions behind her.  “I think I’m going to go take a shower.  I don’t think I have anything to make breakfast.  Uh, maybe, if you want, we can go get something?”

Waverly beams brightly.  “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Nicole nods.  “Okay.”

“Ummm, are my clothes still in the spare room?  I’d like to change before we go out.”

“Yeah, I don’t think the bot’s changed clothes since it got here so everything should be where you left it.  I’ll be out soon.”

Waverly nods as Nicole heads into the bathroom.  She quickly changes into some fresh clothes before walking into the kitchen and opening the fridge.  It’s practically empty.  She closes the door and checks the cabinets.  Also almost bare.  She opens the pantry door and gasps, her eyes wide, stepping backwards quickly.  “Hi!  I’m Waverly!”  Comes a chirpy voice ( her voice! ) from the bot standing inside.

Waverly shakes her head.  “Yeah, okay, wow!  Ummm, why don’t you come out of there.”  The bot steps out and stands in front of Waverly. “Nicole and I are going to go out for a while.  While we’re gone, I want you to clean the house.  Everywhere except her office.  Vacuum, dust, sweep and mop in here, do the dirty laundry, wash all the sheets on the beds, do the dishes...Do I have to list off everything or can I just say clean the whole house?”

“I can clean the house!  I’d be happy to!!” 

Waverly nods.  “Great.  You get started on that and I’m going to make up a grocery list.”  

“Okay then!”  The bot starts moving around the kitchen, pulling dishes out of the sink and putting them into the dishwasher.  Waverly pulls a notepad out of a drawer and starts writing down groceries that are needed.  She goes back into the fridge and removes the milk, opening it and closing it quickly after smelling that it had gone bad.  She puts it back inside.  “Be sure to clean the fridge and dump out the milk after we leave.  And then take the garbage out.”

“Okay then!”

She goes into the cabinet and pulls down the coffee jar.  Nothing left.  How did Nicole not break that thing into little pieces!  Endlessly happy and NO coffee or food.  What the hell did it do all day?!?   She adds coffee to the list as well as the essentials to make meals that Nicole enjoyed while she was there and makes a mental note to give the recipes to the bot.

Nicole walks into the kitchen and has to close her eyes and shake her head.  But when she opens her eyes again, she’s still seeing double.  There’s a Waverly wiping down the counters and another one hunched over another counter, making notes on a notepad.  “Uhh, hi.”

The one wiping the counter looks at her with a huge smile and a “Hi there!” while the one making notes looks back and rolls her eyes before smirking at her.  “Hope you don’t mind that I told the bot to start cleaning.  Hate to see all my hard work go to waste.”

Nicole shakes her head, confusion cleared up at which was which.  “No, it’s, uhh, it’s fine.  Whatcha doing?”

“Just making a grocery list.  I don’t know what you’ve been eating but your fridge and cupboards are bare.”

Nicole shrugs and mutters.  “Haven’t really been hungry.”

Waverly’s face softens and she lifts up the list.  “Well, I’ve got this made out with some of the meals that you seemed to like.  I’ll make sure the bot has the recipes so she can make them for you.  Do you want her to go shopping or would you like to take care of it?”

“No, we...I...you know, we or I can go get the stuff.  It’s no problem.  After breakfast.  Should we go?”

Waverly smiles and nods quickly.  “Yeah.”  She picks up her purse.  “Waverly…”  That is just TOO weird!   “We’ll be back.  Just keep cleaning.”  They head for the door and hear an “Okay then!” behind them as they leave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After a silent car ride, Nicole and Waverly are sitting in awkward silence at the diner, glancing around and playing with their coffee mugs.  Nicole finally clears her throat.  “I need to, uh, thank you.  For getting me home last night and for the water and painkillers.  You didn’t have to do that.”

Waverly reaches her hand out and places it gently on top of Nicole’s.  “I know I didn’t have to.  But I wanted to.”

Nicole stares at their hands.  “Last few times we talked, I screamed at you.  You shouldn’t be nice to me.”

Waverly shrugs with a shy smile.  “I guess I’ve just been dating too many shitheads.”

“We’re not dating.”

Waverly’s smile drops and she pulls her hand away.  “I know.”

Nicole mutters.  “But I want to.”

“What was that?”  Waverly heard her clearly and the butterflies in her stomach are fluttering around like crazy but she plays it off well.  

Nicole waves her off and looks at her with determination. “I spoke with Shae.”

Waverly looks surprised at the change of subject.  “Oh?”

Nicole nods.  “She told me that if I like you as much as she could tell I did, that I better pull my head out of my ass and make things right or she was going to come and kick my ass for my own good.  So, Waverly Earp, you know all about me.  Tell me about you.”

Waverly takes a sip of her drink and smiles.  “Well, you do know some things about me.  You’ve met my sister.  And you know I co-own Chearp Robotics.  And that I can make a mean vegan meal that will have you moaning in ecstasy.”  Nicole rolls her eyes.  “But I guess you want more of the childhood stuff?”

Nicole nods.  “Whatever you feel comfortable telling me.”  

“Well, my mama left when I was four, so I don’t really remember much about her.  Except that she would make me peanut butter and banana sandwiches when I was feeling sad.”  She half-smiles at the memory.  Nicole looks at her, slightly surprised, remembering the lunch Waverly made for her what felt like ages ago.  “My oldest sister and Daddy died in an accident when I was six and Wynonna and I were sent to live with my aunt and uncle.  When I was 12, Wynonna took off on some grand adventure and I felt alone for the first time in my life.”  Nicole reaches out and puts her hand over Waverly’s.  Waverly turns her hand over and they link fingers.  “Oh, it wasn’t all bad.  I still had Gus and Curtis and Shorty and Nedley.  And I had friends at school.  But it was still hard.”  Nicole nods.  “She came back a few years ago and bought the bar and is now one of my very best friends.”

“I met Jeremy in college and we hit it off right away.  We started talking about how we wanted to change the world and make it better for future generations.  We came up with robotics.  They were supposed to be home health aids.  You know, helping people remain in their homes, assist in daily living, help their families.  And we do sell some for that reason and other helpful tasks.  It hasn’t gone exactly as we had hoped but we are still growing and word of mouth is increasing.  So we still have hope.”

Nicole smiles.  “That’s great, Waves.”

Waverly beams when she hears Nicole use her nickname once again.  “And I need you to know, I’ve NEVER done anything like what happened before!  And it won’t ever happen again.  We are a serious company who make a legitimate product.  Please don’t think any less of us.”

Nicole nods.  “I know.  I didn’t think it was a regular thing.  And I don’t hold any ill-will towards Chearp.”  Waverly exhales and sags in relief and Nicole looks at her intently.  “So, how do you know Perry Croft?”

Waverly straightens with wide eyes.  “What?”

“Perry Croft?  I’m guessing you’re the one who sent that tip to my boss.  It’s the only thing that makes any sense.”  Nicole says it matter-of-factly, without any emotion in her voice.

Waverly looks chagrined.  “Uhh, yeah.  That was me.  We met in college.  In a linguistics class.  He mentioned that he and his grandfather had a secret language and I begged and pleaded and,” muttering and avoiding Nicole’s gaze, “maybe flirted a bit.”  She raises her voice again.  “Until I wore him down and he showed it to me.  I didn’t memorize it or anything but I remembered enough that when I saw the symbols, it jogged my memory.  I wasn’t even sure if I was correct, but I had to let you investigate it to be sure.”

Nicole nods.  “Well, thank you again.  JC wasn’t anywhere on our radar or even in any of our files.  I don’t think we would’ve ever found him if it wasn’t for you.  76 victims that we found justice for.  It means a lot.”

“And it’s what you do every day.  You’re the hero here, Nicole, not me.  I’m just glad I was able to help.” 

“Me too.”

The waitress delivers their food and they put a hold on their conversation to eat.  When they finish and the waitress brings their check, they play the game of “I’ve got it.”  “Please let me.”  “Nope, my treat.”  “No, I insist!” until Waverly finally relents and Nicole hands over her credit card.

They get into the car and Nicole turns to Waverly.  “So, I apparently need to go grocery shopping.”  Waverly smirks.  “Would you like me to drop you off so you can get your car?  Or do you want to join me?”

“I can come with you, if you’d like.  I have the list, after all.”

Nicole nods and pulls out of the parking lot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the initial discomfort of the morning, Nicole and Waverly fall back into their usual bantering.  With bags full of groceries, they leave the store and head back to Nicole’s.  Waverly uses the excuse that “I need to tell the bot what to do with all this stuff.”  And Nicole is happy to go along with it since she doesn’t want their time together to end.  And she can tell that Waverly feels the same.

Once they carry everything into the kitchen, Waverly calls the bot in and pushes Nicole out.  “Go watch TV or read a book or something.  We’ve got this handled.”  Nicole shrugs and walks over to relax on the couch, but keeps her eyes on the kitchen to watch what they’re up to.

She was surprised when they walked inside to see the bot rushing around at double speed (“whoa!”), cleaning the house with the washer running in the background.  Guess I never thought about them being faster than a human!   But if she and Waverly don’t have to do it, she will gladly accept the help.

Waverly walks out of the kitchen a few minutes later and sits next to Nicole, whose arm immediately goes around her shoulders.  She snuggles into the redhead, resting her head in the crook of her neck.

“What were you two doing in there?”  

Waverly looks up at her.  “Just giving her instructions on dinner.”  She sits up.  “I hope that’s okay?”

Nicole leans their foreheads together lightly.  “It’s fine.  It’s great!  Now I get dinner and we get time to ourselves.”

Waverly relaxes back into her.  “Should we watch something?  Or do you want to talk some more?”

Nicole picks up the remote.  “We can watch something.”  She hands her the remote.  “Dealers choice.”

Waverly scrolls through the menu, skipping over their show so as not to bring up bad memories and ruin the day.  When she lands on Bend It Like Beckham , she looks at Nicole who nods with a shrug.

Waverly pushes play and they settle in, trying to ignore the bot clanging pots in the kitchen and rushing back and forth with laundry.  

Two movies (and a short nap against each other) later, the bot announces dinner and they walk to the table together.  Nicole looks at the meal laid out and starts to laugh.  It’s a repeat of their first dinner together, pasta with red sauce, garlic bread, wine, and even the lit candles.  

Waverly looks at her nervously.  “Is this okay?”

Nicole beams at her and places a kiss on her cheek.  “It’s perfect.”

She pulls Waverly’s chair out for her and walks around to her side.  Waverly looks surprised when she picks up her plate and glass but smiles when she moves it so they are sitting side-by-side rather than across from each other like they usually did.

The wine flows, as does the conversation.  Nicole asks Waverly more about her past, about what she was like in high school.  When Waverly mentions being a cheerleader, Nicole’s eyes glaze over at the thought and Waverly stares at her with a smirk and raised eyebrow, waiting patiently until she comes back to herself.  When Nicole notices, she blushes and ducks her head, focusing on her meal.

Waverly asks about Nicole’s prior cases and her schooling.  When she finds out about her time as a basketball player, it’s Waverly’s turn to fantasize about the gorgeous woman sitting next to her running up and down the court in short shorts and all sweaty, and Nicole’s turn to laugh at her.

Neither of them comment on the fact that they hold hands through the entire meal.

After dinner, they take their wine and walk to the couch, leaving the bot to clean up and ordering her to go into the closet when she is done.  They split off to change into more comfortable clothing and return with Nicole in a flannel and jeans and Waverly in shorts and a t-shirt.  Nicole is surprised when Waverly sits in the middle of the couch.  All their other evenings together, they would sit at opposite ends so she could lay her head on her lap.  But she sits down next to her while Waverly turns on Coyote Ugly .  She glances at Nicole who nods.  “I love this movie!”

Waverly starts the movie and then lays down across the couch, putting her head on Nicole’s lap.  Nicole looks down, slightly startled.  Waverly looks up at her.  “You have no idea how many times I wanted to do this.  But it just wouldn’t have made sense.  So now, we’ll have to take turns.”

Nicole nods and grins, stroking her hair.  “Gladly.”  They spend the movie like this, Nicole running her hands through hair, down her shoulders, and along her arm while Waverly occasionally drags her nails up and down Nicole’s leg.  Both just enjoying being able to touch each other and spend time together.

Nicole barely pays attention to the movie, too busy looking at Waverly and trying not to get caught staring.  Waverly occasionally glances up at her and she quickly tries to avert her gaze to the TV, but she knows she’s caught by the goofy grins on both their faces when they do make eye contact.  So she reaches out and tickles Waverly’s side to make her squirm and giggle.  She rolls her face into Nicole’s leg and kisses her top inner thigh, making Nicole gasp.

Waverly hears and takes pity on her, turning back to look up at her.  “So, what does the ‘R’ stand for?”

Nicole looks confused.  “R?”

“In your name.”

“Oh!”  Nicole looks down before muttering.  “Rayleigh.”

Waverly’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise and she laughs.  “Really?!?  Your name is Nicole Really Haught!”

“No!  It’s Rayleigh!”

Waverly shrugs, still laughing.  “Sounds the same.  Your parents really were hippies!”  Nicole reddens and Waverly’s expression softens.  “You know, the first time I saw your name and face, I said to myself that you were really hot.  I was right on all counts!”

Nicole shakes her head and laughs with her as they settle back into watching the movie.  When it’s over, Waverly sits up and stretches.  “It’s late.  Guess I should probably go.”

“Oh, yeah.”  Nicole says, disappointingly.  “Do you need a ride home?”  She asks, not wanting the evening to end.

Waverly stands.  “No, my apartment is close.  I can walk.”  She heads towards the door.

Nicole moves to follow.  “Okay.”  

Waverly cracks the door open before Nicole reaches around her from behind and pushes it shut again, whispering in her ear, “I don’t want you to leave.”  Waverly leans back into her, closing her eyes in relief.  “I’ve never wanted you to leave.”  She places a kiss behind her ear.

Waverly turns in her arms and wraps her hands around the back of her neck, pulling her down into a kiss.  In a repeat of their first kiss, it starts off slow.  Nicole puts her hands on Waverly’s waist, drawing her in close.  

This time, it’s Waverly who runs her tongue across Nicole’s lip, begging entrance.  Nicole meets her half way, tongues dueling, the heat between them increasing exponentially.  Nicole backs them into the door, pressing her entire body against Waverly’s.

Waverly gasps when Nicole’s hands slide down to cup her ass.  Her hips thrust forward into Nicole’s of their own accord and Nicole moans.  She slides her leg between Waverly’s thighs, pressing into her.

Waverly tightens her hands in Nicole’s hair and presses down on her leg, her core pulsating from the pressure.  Oh God!  She’s going to make me come without even touching me!!

Waverly tugs on her hair when it becomes difficult to breathe and drops her head against the door.  Nicole straightens her leg and leans forward, touching their foreheads together.  “Stay?”

“Yeah.”

Chapter Text

Waverly leads the way into the bedroom with Nicole following close behind.  She stops short and stares at the bed.

Nicole walks up behind her and kisses her temple.  “You okay?”

Waverly leans back against her again.  “Yeah.  I’ve just...never…”  She waves her hand at the bed.  “With a woman.”

Nicole spins her around.  “We don’t have to do anything.  We can just sleep if you want.”

“NO!”  Waverly says loudly, startling Nicole slightly.  “No.”  She says, a little quieter.  “I want to.”  She drops her head a little.  “I just don’t know what…”

Nicole places her finger under her chin and lifts her head until they make eye contact.  She gives a shy smile.  “Don’t worry.  I’ve got you, Waves.”

Waverly nods gratefully.  The kiss starts soft, just a meeting of lips, but soon progresses to something more.  Nicole teases Waverly’s lips open with the tip of her tongue, sliding in when she grants her entrance. Waverly’s tongue caresses Nicole’s, each exploring the other as Nicole grips the back of her shirt with tight hands. She begins to pull the shirt up, untucking it from the back of her shorts, and moving her hands to caress the warm skin of her lower back.

Waverly moves her hands down to mirror Nicole’s, lifting the hem of her shirt slightly and touching the sides of her waist. Nicole takes a step back and their eyes lock as she reaches for the hem on the front of Waverly’s shirt. Waverly nods imperceptibly and she begins to lift it up. Waverly raises her arms and she pulls the shirt over her head and drops it to the floor. Nicole leans forward and presses a kiss to the corner of Waverly’s mouth, her hands sliding up along her arms, over her shoulders and down the center of her back. Her lips travel down her jaw, nibbling down her neck to the top of her chest. The brunette closes her eyes and her head drops back as she licks across the top of her bra. 

Waverly puts her hand on the back of Nicole’s head, lifting it up into another passionate kiss. Her hands move to the top of Nicole’s shirt and, trembling, begins to unbutton it.  When Waverly finishes, she runs the back of her hands up her stomach, brushing over her breasts. She pushes the shirt off her shoulders, down her arms and lets it drop on top of her own.

Nicole’s hands haven't been idle. Her hands brush up Waverly’s stomach and cup her breasts briefly before traveling to her back. She unhooks her bra, pushing it off her shoulders, letting it join the pile. She runs her fingers down her chest, following them with her tongue, and sucks her nipple into her mouth. Waverly’s hands move over her back, fingers threading through her hair, to hold Nicole against her.  Nicole cups the neglected breast, pinching her nipple with her fingers. Waverly’s head falls forward and she kisses the top of her head. Nicole nibbles across her chest to her other breast, licking the underside briefly before sucking the other nipple into her mouth.

Waverly’s hands finally release Nicole’s hair, moving down her back, releasing the catch of her bra and pulling it off. She tightens a hand in the red hair, pulling their mouths back together in a heated kiss. Waverly groans as their bare breasts brush against each other for the first time and their hips thrust against each other.

Waverly moves her lips, kissing the corner of her mouth before moving down to suck at the crook of her neck. Don't give her a hickey. Whatever you do, don't... she mentally shrugs.  At least, not where anyone would be able to see it.   Waverly releases the pressure and works her tongue over the spot, hoping it's not too late. Although, Nicole doesn't seem to mind, not in this moment. Waverly takes a small step back and cups Nicole’s breasts in her hands, her tight nipples hard against her palms. She glances at her and their eyes lock. Nicole gives her a small smile before Waverly lowers her head to take her nipple into her mouth. 

Nicole’s hand drifts to the back of her thigh, running her fingers along the edge of Waverly’s shorts before heading north.  Waverly feels fingers at the waistband of her shorts as she continues to tease Nicole’s nipple with her lips and teeth. She feels the button release and hears the telltale sound of a zipper being opened. Nicole’s hands move to her hips and push her shorts down to pool on the floor. 

Waverly abandons Nicole’s breast, their mouths meeting once again, as she fumbles with the button and zipper on Nicole’s jeans. Her hands are trembling slightly, whether from excitement or nerves she’s not sure, so it takes her a moment before she’s successful. The pants drop down her legs and Nicole kicks them aside.

Nicole pulls back and her eyes run down the length of Waverly’s body. "You are so beautiful."  She says breathlessly.  

Waverly smiles shyly. "So are you.”  Her smile turns into a smirk and she throws Nicole a wink.  “Of course, I got a sneak preview after your shower.”

Nicole groans in embarrassment at the memory and pinches Waverly’s waist.  Waverly giggles and tries to pull away but Nicole pulls her back into a lustful kiss.  Their hands continue to roam, exploring each other slowly.  Waverly’s hands return to her breasts as Nicole’s move to cup her ass, pulling their hips together. Nicole takes a step forward, maneuvering them so the backs of Waverly’s legs brush against the foot of the bed. Waverly pulls away from the kiss and glances back. She climbs onto the bed, shuffling backwards on her elbows. Nicole follows, crawling on her hands and knees above her.  Waverly’s head drops down onto the pillow and Nicole lays down, her entire body covering her.

Nicole places her elbows on the bed to either side of Waverly’s head and props herself up. Her hand brushes the hair at her temple and then moves to cup her cheek as she bends down and takes her lower lip between hers. She teases it with the tip of her tongue before biting down lightly and then releasing it. Waverly giggles and Nicole smiles, lifting her head and brushing their lips together once again. She leans down and repeats the move with her top lip before running her tongue along them both. Waverly opens her mouth immediately, while her hands slide up and down her back.

Nicole adjusts their lower bodies, straddling her right thigh, and moans into her mouth when Waverly bends her knee, pushing it hard against her. She thrust her hips, her cloth-covered center rubbing against her thigh. Nicole’s lips move back down to her breast and Waverly arches her back, forcing it deeper into her mouth. Nicole’s hand runs down her side, fingers brushing lightly along her stomach and dipping just below the waistband of her panties. She continues the feather-light caresses down the outside of her thigh, tickling the back of her knee and up her inner thigh.

Nicole lifts her head and their eyes meet as she moves her fingers against Waverly’s center. She caresses her through her panties for a moment, gauging her reaction, before pushing them aside and touching the tip of her finger to her naked flesh.  Waverly’s head pushes back hard into the pillow, teeth biting her lower lip in an effort not to scream.

Nicole sits up, still straddling her thigh, and Waverly straightens her leg, laying it back down on the bed. The redhead takes the elastic band of her panties into her hands and she lifts her hips off the bed so she can drag them down her legs and toss them away.  Waverly watches as she moves her hands to her own hips and drags her underwear down, shifting from one knee to the other to get them off completely.

That done, Nicole lays back down on top of Waverly, nuzzling her neck, her hand drifting back down between her legs. She circles the tip of her finger around her entrance, collecting the moisture she finds there, and spreads it through her folds. Waverly is already so close to coming, but she keeps her body still, eyes shut and jaw clenched.

Noticing this, Nicole lifts her head up and leans down to whisper in her ear, her voice low and gravelly.  "It's okay to make noise.  I want to know that you like what I'm doing to you.  Please.  Look at me.  Let me hear you."

After that, the floodgates open. Waverly relaxes her body and a low moan escapes her lips. Nicole eases a finger inside and Waverly’s hips thrust up, feeling Nicole’s wetness against her thigh as she brushes against her.  Nicole kisses her cheek as she moves inside of her, alternating between thrusting deep and rubbing her thumb against her clit.

Waverly’s head pushes back hard against the pillow. "Oh, yes!  Oh, Nicole, yes!  Right there!"

Waverly feels Nicole’s lips curl into a smile.  She adds a second finger, curling them upwards on each thrust, and Waverly inhales sharply when she hits the spot , hips thrusting as she falls over the edge. Nicole continues to move her fingers slowly, drawing out her orgasm until Waverly reaches down and holds her hand still.  She removes her hand, brushing it gently against Waverly’s clit, causing her to shiver.

Nicole moves off of Waverly, curling against her side, her left arm wrapped around her shoulders. The brunette rolls to face her, her lips seeking hers as her left hand drifts down her side, over her hip and down to her knee before making the return trip.  Nicole rolls onto her back and Waverly’s fingers move around her chest and stomach, drawing patterns on her skin. She feels Nicole’s muscles quiver beneath her fingers and smiles, leaning down and pressing her lips against her shoulder and upper chest. She moves her hand down, ever closer to the top of her mound but always retreating before reaching her final destination.

Nicole notices her hesitation, reaching over and brushing the hair from her face, and puts a finger under her chin to meet her eyes.  "You don't have to do anything you're not ready for.  It's okay."

Waverly shakes her head quickly. "No! I want to. It's just that…I'm right-handed." She mutters this last part under her breath.

Nicole chuckles softly and Waverly feels her face grow hot. The redhead rolls back onto her side, wrapping her arms around Waverly and mumbles a not-so-sincere apology against her lips. Before she knows it, Nicole rolls them both onto opposite sides. Waverly smiles at her as Nicole settles onto her back. Thank god she has a big bed!

Waverly leans down and attacks her mouth, thrusting her tongue deep, as her right hand rushes over Nicole’s body. She squeezes her breast, pinching her nipple, before moving down and taking it between her teeth. Her hand brushes through the neatly trimmed hair between her thighs.  Her fingers slip into her folds and begin stroking gently.  Waverly tries to copy what Nicole did to her, and it must work, judging by her reaction.

Nicole pushes her hands into Waverly’s hair, pulling her head back up to hers. Waverly breaks away when they run out of air and runs her tongue along her jawline. Nicole tilts her head back to give her more room and squirms slightly.  She nips at her pulse point as she slides a finger inside of her.

Nicole arches her back and groans. "Oh, god, yes!  More, please!"

Waverly twists two fingers together and eases them back in. She thrusts them a few times before pulling out, rubbing them against her clit and pushing them back in. She repeats this pattern, Nicole’s words and moans urging her on, until she feels the muscles clench around her. Waverly strokes her gently as the tremors continue. When Nicole finally relaxes, Waverly glances up to see her eyes are closed. Hoping not to get caught, Waverly pops her fingers into her mouth, quickly sucking them clean.  She closes her eyes, barely holding back a moan, as she gets her first taste of Nicole, fulfilling the fantasy she has had since stumbling upon her fresh from the shower.

Waverly stretches back up, laying against her side and placing her arm across her stomach. She nuzzles her cheek until Nicole turns her head and presses their lips together.  They kiss slowly, exploring each other's mouths. Nicole pulls back, looking at her with a wicked grin on her face as her tongue touches her top lip, recognizing the flavor on Waverly’s lips. Waverly realizes what happened and blushes deeply, but Nicole just leans back in for another taste.

Waverly pulls her close, wrapping her arms around her. She rolls onto her back, pulling Nicole on top of her, cradling her between her thighs. Nicole shifts down, folding her hands together on her chest and resting her chin on top of them.

Waverly looks at Nicole, brushing her hair away from her face and tucking it behind her ears. "God, you're so beautiful. I can't imagine what you're doing here with me."

"I've wanted to be here since the first moment I laid eyes on you.  Even before I knew it was ‘you’"  She says with air quotes.

Waverly laughs and shakes her head.  "All you had to do was ask."

Nicole slaps her lightly on the chest. "I did ask!  I'm just thankful you didn’t stop us this time with some other huge reveal."

Waverly smiles and lifts her head towards her. Nicole lifts her chin and accepts her kiss. Her head falls back to the pillow. "This feels nice."

Nicole strokes Waverly’s chest under her chin. "I bet I can make it feel even better."

"Any better and I'd probably pass out."

Nicole smirks up at her. "I'll take my chances."  She moves her hands and kisses where they were just resting. She turns her head and her tongue flickers against the side of her breast. Her hand closes over it and lifts her nipple to her mouth. Waverly strokes her back and runs her foot up and down her calf. Nicole slides further down the bed, leaving a trail of kisses down her stomach.

It takes Waverly a minute before she finally realizes Nicole’s intentions. She's going to go down on me!   This isn't something she has a lot of experience in.  She tries to decide whether or not to say something and decides she has to.   "Umm..."

Nicole glances up. "You okay?"

"Yeah. It's just...I haven't done this a lot. Like, almost never.  And, when I have, I never really... It just didn't do anything for me."

"Do you want me to stop?"

"No!  I just don't want you to think...if I don't come...it's not your fault.  It's not something you've done wrong.  It's just me."

Nicole smiles up at Waverly. "It's okay. Just relax."

She puts her lips back on her stomach continuing down her former path.  When she finally puts her lips between her thighs, Waverly’s body goes taut as a wire. Holy shit!   She doesn't know what her ex was doing, but it sure as hell wasn't this!  She’s never felt anything this incredible before. Nicole’s eating her like a pro, the perfect mixture of lips, tongue and teeth.

Waverly starts to thrust against her and Nicole puts her hands on her hips, holding her down. The brunette clenches her hands, gripping the sheets tightly. Nicole notices and takes Waverly’s hands in hers, moving them to the top of her head. Waverly runs her hands through the red hair gently, trying to keep it out of her way.

When Nicole slides her finger into her, Waverly shatters. Nicole runs her tongue over Waverly for another moment, cleaning up her mess, before sitting up on her knees and, while gazing into Waverly’s eyes, sucks her wet fingers into her mouth. "Mmm, yum."

Upon hearing this, Waverly’s face grows incredibly hot.  Nicole smirks.  “I should’ve known you were human just from that alone!  I mean, seriously, a robot that blushes?!?”  

Waverly laughs loudly, shaking her head.  “I’m just lucky you never saw me trip!  I can be a bit clumsy.”  

Nicole lays back down on top of her, thrusting her tongue deep inside her mouth.  Waverly has never liked the taste of herself but combined with Nicole, it's nirvana. Their kissing slows and Nicole rolls off and onto her back.  

Waverly leans up on her elbow and gestures down Nicole’s body.  “Do you want me to…?”

Nicole shakes her head.  “You don’t have to.  I’m good.”

Waverly lifts her eyebrow.  “Just ‘good’?”

Nicole’s eyes grow wide.  “Not good!  Great!  Incredible!  Perfect in every way!”

Waverly waves at her to stop.  “Okay, okay.”

“Seriously, I’m terrific.  This whole day has been a dream come true.”

Waverly leans down and whispers in her ear.  “But what if I want to?”

Nicole turns her head and they kiss gently.  “Then tomorrow, I’m all yours.  But for tonight, I just want to hold you.”

Waverly lays her head on Nicole’s shoulder and Nicole wraps her arms tight around her as they drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Waverly is standing at the stove cooking breakfast when Nicole sneaks up behind her, wraps her arms around her waist, and kisses her neck.  “Why are you dressed?”

Waverly keeps cooking.  “I’m always dressed!”  She says happily.

Nicole jumps backwards.  “Jesus!  You’re the bot!”  

She hears a chuckle coming from behind her and turns to see Waverly dressed in nothing but her discarded flannel, leaning in the doorway.  “See?  Creepy.”

Nicole throws her hands up in surrender.  “Okay, okay.  I’m sorry I ordered a robot that looks like you!”

Waverly walks over to her and wraps her arms around her waist.  “I’m not.  Otherwise, we may never have met.”

Nicole touches their foreheads together.  “I don’t know.  It’s a small town.  I’m sure we would’ve gotten here eventually.”

Waverly leans up and kisses her.  “Mmm, maybe.”

Nicole gestures behind her.  “But we do need a way to tell you two apart.”

Waverly smirks at her and murmurs.  “I’ll be the one naked in your bed.”

Nicole raises her eyebrow at her.  “Apparently not, since that didn’t work this morning.”

“Maybe I could get my hair cut.”

Nicole runs her fingers through Waverly’s hair.  “You would be beautiful no matter what you do.”  She brushes the hair from Waverly’s neck and tucks it behind her ear.  “I could always return the bot.”

Waverly shakes her head.  “Uh uh.  Chearp Robotics has a strict ‘no-returns’ policy.”

Nicole leans down and kisses Waverly’s neck.  “Well, maybe I can get the owner to make an exception.”

Waverly tilts her head to the side to give Nicole more room.  “Nope!  Besides, we have to go back to work and having someone to cook and clean for us would be divine.”

Nicole moves to the other side of her neck.  “Hmmm, true.  But maybe not today.”

Waverly pulls away slightly and raises her eyebrows.  “Oh?  Do you have something else in mind?”  She asks with a smirk.

Nicole stands up and looks behind her.  “Waverly, we’ll have breakfast in my bedroom.”

The bot nods.  “Okay then!”

“I believe there was something you said you wanted to do to me this morning?”  The redhead says with a smirk as she holds her hand out to Waverly, who smiles widely as she takes it.

Waverly pulls Nicole to her close and whispers, “And maybe you can show me that toy collection you have stashed next to your bed.”  She gives her a wink as she saunters to the room.

Nicole’s jaw drops and she trips over her own feet before rushing after Waverly and slamming the door.

Epilogue

6 Months Later

“And we’re on the floor.”  Nicole is flat on her back with Waverly’s head resting on her outstretched arm and a tablecloth covering them, both breathing heavily.

Waverly glances at her.  “How’d that happen?”

Nicole smirks back, showing off her dimple.  “Determination?”  She rolls over and settles herself on top of Waverly.  “And I blame you.”  She leans down with a quick kiss.

Waverly pushes lightly at her shoulder until they lock eyes.  “Me?  What did I do?”

Nicole tilts her head at a pile of black and white fabric on the floor.  “You were prancing around here wearing a french maid outfit!  Like you didn’t know what was going to happen!”

Waverly pokes her in the side.  “Hey!  Just trying to fulfill your fantasy!”

Nicole’s eyes go wide.  “My WHAT?!?”

Waverly gives her a big knowing smile.  “You mentioned it the first day we met.”  She shrugs.  “I figured it was something you had thought about since it was foremost on your mind that day.”  Nicole groans in embarrassment and drops her head to the crook of her neck and Waverly wraps her arms around her shoulders, giggling.  

Nicole leans up again with a smile.  “So...where should we christen next?”  She teases, wiggling her eyebrows.  

Waverly nudges her again and they both sit up.  “Somewhere that’s not quite so hard on our backs?  And I don’t think there is a single place in this house that hasn’t been ‘christened’.”  

She leans in for a kiss and Nicole obliges.  She moves her lips to her neck and Nicole tilts her head to give her better access.  “Mmmm, we have been doing our best to hit everywhere.  But I’m sure we’ll come up with something.  The stairs?”

Waverly pulls back with a questioning glare.  “What stairs?  This is a single story house!”

Nicole shrugs.  “There are a couple out front.”

Waverly shakes her head with a laugh.  “Yeah, I don’t think we need to give the neighbors a show.  Next house, we’ll make sure there are stairs, as uncomfortable as that sounds, you weirdo.”  The doorbell rings and Waverly kicks Nicole’s legs lightly.  “Can you get that?”  

Nicole grabs the tablecloth and wraps it around herself as Waverly scrambles to grab a throw from the back of the couch to cover herself.  Nicole opens the front door to a brunette woman standing outside.  

“Hey.  I’m Rosita from Chearp Robotics.”  Rosita holds out her hand.

The smile on Nicole’s face drops.  “Waverly!”

Waverly giggles and skips over to the door.  “Come on in, Rosita.”  Nicole steps back and Rosita walks inside.  Nicole looks between Waverly and Rosita with shocked confusion on her face.  Waverly explains.  “The Waverlybot was creepy and confusing.  So Jeremy and I decided to...redesign?  Repurpose?”  She shrugs.  “Reprogram her.”  She holds out her arms with a flourish.  “And, tada!  Rosita was born.  Now we have a housekeeper who doesn’t have my face.  And we adjusted her personality programming a bit too.  The other one was just too chipper!”  She stands on her tiptoes and presses a kiss to Nicole’s cheek.  “Happy anniversary, Baby.”

Nicole laughs and pulls Waverly into a tight hug.  “Happy anniversary.”  She pulls back and kisses Waverly, starting off softly but quickly growing in intensity.  They break apart when they find it hard to breathe.  “Hey, Rosita.”

Rosita looks at her.  “Yeah?”

Nicole cocks her head towards the kitchen.  “Go hide in a closet somewhere, will you?”

Rosita nods.  “Sure, whatever.”  She walks into the kitchen and they hear a door open and close.

Waverly leans her head into Nicole’s chest with a chuckle.  Nicole kisses the top of her head.  “And you…”  Waverly looks up at her and lifts an eyebrow.  “Bed.”

Waverly smiles.  “Yes, Ma’am.”  And rushes off to the bedroom.

“What’ve I said about that ‘Ma’am’ stuff?!”  She laughs and chases after her, slamming the door closed behind her.

~The End~