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I'm Not Your Baby

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Frozen earth crunched under the worn tires of Wynonna Earp’s ‘92 Ford F-150 as she pulled the vehicle off the stretch of road leading to the homestead and onto their property. The brakes complained loudly as she came to an abrupt stop outside a weathered wooden house, shifting the truck roughly into park. Already idling beside her was a familiar Crown Victoria, containing a visibly frazzled red-headed cop. Wynonna turned to her sister in the passenger seat. 

“Wonder how long Red’s been waiting here,” she pondered aloud.

The corner of Waverly Earp’s mouth twitched upwards at the sight of her girlfriend hurrying out of the police cruiser and over to her door. “Thanks for coming to get me, back there,” she said to her older sister, while her eyes continued to track the woman’s long strides in her direction. “I was in such a hurry to prove myself to…everyone. But, I should never have gone undercover alone. I should never have trusted Lucado.”

“You know I’ve always got your back babygirl,” Wynonna acknowledged, reaching out to grip Waverly’s knee reassuringly. “You're safe now. And we will figure out what’s going on with the…other stuff.” Wynonna’s eyes landed on her sister’s hand and lingered there until the passenger side door was abruptly yanked open and Waverly was carefully helped from the vehicle. 

“Oh, god, Waverly! I was so worried!” Nicole Haught yelled, wrapping her arms tightly around the brunette. 

“She’s okay, Haught,” Wynonna assured her. “She’s okay…” she repeated quieter, to herself. 

“What happened?” Nicole asked, pulling back from the hug. She looked her girlfriend up and down, assessing the smaller woman’s appearance. “What kind of undercover work did Lucado have you doing?!”

Waverly glanced down at her own body, having forgotten about the dress she’d slipped on only hours ago. Her fingers drifted absently over the rough texture of the gold, sparkly, floor length gown. The dress fit like a glove with a plunging neckline, open back, and a slit up to the thigh. 

She flashed back to the feeling she’d had onstage, performing for the small crowd in the dimly lit club. It had been terrifying, for sure, given that Waverly had had no idea that her mission to gather intel on a stolen briefcase would lead to her having to pretend she was the club’s entertainment for the afternoon. But, standing under the hot lights, microphone in hand, watching the lusty eyed patrons staring up at her from below, she’d also felt sexy. Powerful. 

Now, she just felt cold. Goosebumps spread over her exposed skin and she shivered involuntarily.  “I’m fine, Nicole.”

Nicole peeled off her own jacket and draped it over Waverly’s bare shoulders. She pulled her eyes from Waverly and shifted them to meet Wynonna’s. “Seriously, what happened?”

With a shrug, Wynonna adjusted in her seat, turning back towards the steering wheel. “Shit went sideways as usual, but like she said, everything’s fine. We thought…but it’s all good. Everyone is safe and sound…except Lucado who has a shiny new black eye. Now, I gotta meet Doc at Shorty’s. Get her inside. It’s fucking cold out here.”

Pursing her lips together, Nicole reluctantly let it go. She wrapped an arm around Waverly and led her towards the front porch. 

Waverly leaned into her girlfriend’s warmth, resting her head on the taller woman’s shoulder.

You’re going to kill her, you know. An all too familiar voice reminded her for what felt like the thousandth time. A voice only she could hear. Your girlfriend. Your sister. Everyone you love. I’m going to make them bleed with your hands. 

Waverly squeezed her eyes closed, willing the voice in her head to stop. Not if I can help it, she thought back.

It had been nearly seven weeks since she first heard the deep, cruel, hateful voice inside the recesses of her mind. Seven weeks of losing chunks of time. Of leaving her friends and family confused or frustrated by her behavior, by things Waverly couldn’t even remember doing. Trying to remember those moments when she wasn’t in control of her own body just led to searing headaches and a deep, throaty laugh reverberating in her head. It took every ounce of strength she had to remain in control of her own body. She fought every waking moment. 

For seven weeks she fought.

But Waverly was getting tired. 

“Can I get you some tea?” Nicole asked, drawing Waverly’s attention as they crossed through the threshold into the house. 

Waverly shook her head. “I just want to rest. Maybe take a shower?”

Nicole nodded and the two began walking upstairs to Waverly’s bedroom. Once inside, they kicked off their shoes and Waverly draped her girlfriend’s jacket over the side of the bed. 

She looked into the mirror, frowning at her disheveled appearance. Her hair was a mess and her eye makeup was smudged from crying. Crying because her hand had been chopped off by a demon during her undercover mission. She could only just barely remember the pain…like a horrible dream. But her hand was back, somehow. Trying to understand made Waverly’s head throb and she closed her eyes again.

“Baby…please talk to me,” Nicole pleaded, turning Waverly to face her. The officer carefully plucked a clip-on flower from her girlfriend's mess of hair and then smoothed the tangled locks down. Her long, slender fingers raked lovingly through the strands, scraping gently along Waverly’s scalp and down past her shoulder blades.

Waverly sighed, leaning into the comforting touch. 

She looks strong. The voice commented. 

As if of their own volition, Waverly’s eyes trailed the officer’s body. Having come straight from work, Nicole was still dressed in her police uniform, giving the woman a commanding presence despite the soft expression that graced her warm, brown eyes. 

She looks like she could handle me. Yes…I’d like to take a ride in that body. Yours is growing tiresome. 

Waverly shook her head, abruptly stepping back from her girlfriend’s touch. “You have to go. I…I want to be alone.”

“But…”

“Please, leave Nicole.”

Pain and confusion flashed behind the officer’s eyes and she turned towards the door, gathering her boots and jacket. 

Waverly’s heart ached, but she breathed a sigh of relief. She was growing so tired and she wasn’t sure she could control whatever was inside her much longer. Keeping her loved ones safe…that was the only thing that mattered. Even if it meant they didn’t understand. Even if it meant they hated her.

One hand clutching the doorknob, Nicole stopped. Hesitantly, she turned back to Waverly, eyes damp and brows creased with uncertainty. Her voice was unusually small as she finally spoke the words which had lingered in the air between them for months. 

“I want to respect your wishes, and…and I’ll go. But, Waverly, I just have to say that…I’m worried about you. Something’s…off…different. One minute you’re my Waverly and the next…it’s like you’re a totally different person. It’s been like this since WIlla…and I know it’s a lot. You’re going through so much. But I want to be here for you if you’ll let me.” She paused for a moment, gathering one more steadying breath. “Unless…unless it’s me. If you’re upset with me or something…I just want to understand.”

Waverly’s legs carried her closer to Nicole, though she fought every step. 

No, no, no… Waverly chanted inside her head. She wanted to insist that Nicole leave. Right now. But, she couldn’t. Her body would no longer obey her commands.

When she reached Nicole’s side, she lifted her hand, the muscles in her arm clenching against the movement. Waverly’s hand slid into the gap at the top of her girlfriend’s uniform shirt and then dragged along the soft skin to the back of the woman’s neck. Twisting a finger in Nicole’s short, copper hair, Waverly lifted onto her tiptoes and kissed the worried frown on the officer’s lips until she felt them slowly part. 

Stomach squeezing into a knot, Waverly fought for control of her body. Please! She begged the monster who guided her hands more tightly around Nicole’s neck, kissing her deeply, hungrily. Please let her go!

When her lips broke away from Nicole’s and they both stood panting, foreheads pressed together, Waverly thought, for just a moment, that she’d won. That she was in control again.

But then she heard it.

The laugh.

The sickening, guttural, evil laugh. 

And a tear slipped from the corner of her eye.

Nicole saw the tiny droplet and wiped it away. “Baby?”

An inky blackness bled into Waverly’s eyes, filling them, pouring from them. At the same time, Waverly felt the monster inside fully take hold, spreading through every muscle and vein like a million slippery tentacles, coiling themselves around her organs and squeezing tight inside her mind. Its vile thoughts blotted out her own. It’s hateful voice seeped through her lips as she responded, with a throaty cackle, “I’m not your baby.”

The last thing Waverly saw was the shock and fear on Nicole’s face as she registered the change.

And then everything went dark.

-

The first thing Waverly noticed as her consciousness returned was the quiet that had settled warm inside her mind. She felt alone inside herself for the first time since the day she’d dipped her finger into that puddle of black goo. There was a void…but not the kind that felt empty, hollow. No, rather it felt like being on a tiny boat in the middle of a lake on a perfect summer day. Peaceful solitude. She knew, without a doubt, that the presence that had been there, tormenting her, prodding at her day and night for seven weeks, was gone. 

Waverly took a deep breath, filling her lungs with oxygen as she slowly brought the rest of her senses into focus. The air smelled like fresh laundry and a little bit like dust. She could also smell an unfamiliar perfume. Waverly’s eyebrows creased as she tried to place it. Right. It was in the dressing room at the club. I dabbed some on my wrists after I got dressed.  

The dress. Waverly could still feel it wrapped around her body. Beneath the parts of her skin that were bare, her back, one exposed leg, there was a softness. Pillows. A blanket. Bed. Her bed. Waverly was laying in her bed. She smiled ever so slightly at the comforting feeling, shifting her limbs to rub along the soft material. As she went to move her arms, which rested on the pillows on either side of her head, she felt resistance. Waverly tugged her arms downward and felt a pinch around both wrists. 

Suddenly starting to panic, Waverly’s breaths came in short bursts as she finally, slowly, opened her eyes. The room was dim but not dark. The evening light streamed through the thin curtains along her windows. For a moment, everything was blurry. Waverly blinked to try and focus. She tilted her head upward towards whatever was hindering her movements. She pulled once more and heard the clink of metal against wood. 

And then she heard a laugh.

At first, she thought it was inside her own head. It had the same taunting, malevolent quality as the one she had grown unfortunately familiar with. But no, though the undertone was wicked, the voice which carried it was very much outside herself. It was a voice that usually brought a sense of comfort, safety, and love.

Waverly’s head whipped downward toward the sound. Sitting in a chair near the foot of the bed was Nicole. Waverly almost smiled before the memory of her last moments of consciousness flooded her mind. 

“No…” Waverly cried, voice cracking. 

The monster wasn’t gone, it had just found a new home.

Nicole smiled a huge, toothy grin, dripping with malice. “Hey, baby. You’re finally awake. Good. I was getting bored.”

Waverly tried to sit up but the metal around her wrists held her in place.

“You know what’s great about this body?” Nicole asked, her voice still very much her own, despite Waverly’s certainty that the one controlling it was not her girlfriend. “It comes with accessories.” 

Glancing above her head again, Waverly saw the shiny silver loops around her wrists and her stomach filled with a sick dread. Handcuffs.

“So fun, right?! And then, there’s this!” Nicole pulled her gun out of its holster and aimed it at Waverly.

Mouth going dry at the sight, Waverly swallowed hard. “B…baby. I know you’re in there. Please. Fight it!”

Rolling her eyes, Nicole huffed a laugh. “Oh, she is. She’s fighting almost as hard as you did, not that she stands a chance of overpowering me. It’s cute, actually. It kind of tickles. She’s only human, after all.”

“Well, so am I and I managed to keep you at bay most of the time,” Waverly seethed. “I know she can too.”

Nicole cocked an eyebrow before casually returning the weapon to its place at her hip.

Waverly let out a breath.

“You see, that’s where you’re wrong,” Nicole taunted. Standing up from the chair, she sauntered closer to the bed and sat down beside Waverly, the mattress shifting with her weight. Her eyes licked over Waverly’s body, pupils dilating. When she spoke again, it was with a husk that would normally have Waverly’s toes curling. “You are so much more than you know. I’ve seen every dark corner inside you.” A hand reached out and stroked the bare skin on Waverly’s chest. “Now…I’d like to see every dark corner outside of you.”

A wave of nausea rumbled through Waverly’s stomach at the dark lust behind Nicole’s eyes. “You…you aren’t her. You don’t get to touch me, you…monster.”

“Demon,” Nicole corrected with a roll of her eyes. “Monster seems like such a childish word. You know, it just struck me that we’ve never been formally introduced. You were so busy screaming at me all the time, you never even bothered to ask my name. Rude!”

Waverly scowled, but decided to humor the demon. I just have to keep it talking until Wynonna gets home. “Fine. What’s your name?”

“I’ve gone by many names, but you can call me Mictian. I’d shake your hand, but…well, you know.”

“Okay, Mictian. You can uncuff me. I won’t fight you. I would never risk hurting Nicole.”

“I don’t think so. I like you this way,” the demon leered. Nicole’s hand wandered down Waverly’s stomach to her exposed thigh, stroking the sensitive skin, causing Waverly to jerk away.

“Stop that!” Waverly shouted. 

“I don’t think I will. You’ve been a bad girl, Waverly Earp. You resisted me so hard. You tried to take my power away. It’s time you were punished. And what better way than by giving you a taste of your own medicine.” Mictian curved Nicole’s hand to the inside of Waverly’s thigh and grinned.

Waverly saw her girlfriend’s perfect dimples pop as the demon forced a smile and tears sprung behind her own eyes. “Nicole, please. You have to fight!” 

Nicole’s head dropped back with an irritated sigh. “We’ve been through this. There’s nothing either of you can do. Moan, scream…you’re fucked either way.” Mictian forced the officer’s body to move, straddling Waverly and sitting down on her pelvis.

Immediately, Waverly began to fight, thrashing and bucking against the weight of the woman on top of her. “Get off me!”

“Woohoo, this is going to be fun!” Mictian cheered. Stretching out over Waverly’s body, she braced herself on her forearms, positioning their faces just inches apart. 

Waverly launched her head forward and headbutted Nicole, wincing at the pain that radiated through her own skull.

“That was stupid,” Mictian sneered, completely unphased. “Your girl’s gonna feel that in the morning. If I let her live, that is. I was thinking…maybe I’ll make her kill you after I’m done playing with you. Or I could jump back into your weakened body and kill her instead. Decisions, decisions.”

“Fuck you!” Waverly screamed. “When my sister gets home she’s going to-”

“She’s going to what?!” Nicole’s voice boomed, far louder than Waverly had ever heard. Blackness flooded her eyes as she stared down at her prey. “Wynonna didn’t even know something was different about you until today . Seven long weeks. She didn’t know her sister was possessed by a demon. You think she’ll notice anything’s up when Officer Haughty here comes strutting into the kitchen for a late-night, post-fuck snack and just happens to, oh, I don’t know, shoot her in the face?! The heir will be exterminated like the pest that she is and that will be one less person in the way of my plan.”

Tears began streaming down Waverly’s cheeks as she realized the truth behind Mictian’s words. If Wynonna came home, she would be an easy victim for the demon wearing Nicole’s face. The last shred of hope broke loose in her chest and came out as a shallow sob. Wynonna can’t save me. Nicole can’t save me. I can’t save myself.

“Now,” Mictian continued, drawing the black back out of Nicole’s eyes. “Where was I?” She leaned forward and placed a bruising kiss to Waverly’s lips.

The scent of vanilla flooded Waverly’s lungs and fresh tears poured from her eyes. She jerked her head away, breaking the kiss.

Mictian grabbed a fistful of Waverly’s hair and yanked her back into place.

Waverly yelped, jerking her chin upwards to try and relieve the pressure, before the lips she loved so much were back on hers, kissing her roughly. She stifled a cry when teeth bit into the skin of her lower lip.

When Mictian finally pulled back, Waverly could taste a hint of copper in her mouth.

“You know,” the demon began with a grin, “Nicole has always wanted to have you like this. All that lovey, soft shit you’ve been doing…she was bored. She hated it. I know. I’m inside her head. She can’t hide a single thought from me. She’s wanted to hold you down and fuck you hard since the day she saw you topless behind the bar.”

“Nicole would NEVER hurt me!” Waverly fired back.

A hand slid underneath the opening in the front of Waverly’s dress and squeezed tight around her breast. “Maybe not…but I will.” With that, she pinched hard on Waverly’s nipple. 

Waverly pulled both of her lips between her teeth to stifle the cry that threatened to pour from her. She wouldn’t give Mictian the satisfaction of hearing her scream.

The demon shoved the dress down Waverly’s shoulders, exposing both of her breasts and then leaned down, dragging her tongue over each of the erect points. 

A fresh wave of nausea rose in Waverly’s throat. But, when Nicole’s lips wrapped around the sensitive skin and sucked gently, flicking her tongue, an involuntary bolt of energy shot down her stomach, gathering moisture between her legs. Waverly cried at her body’s betrayal. This was not Nicole. This was not her love. 

This was a violation of both of them simultaneously by a sadistic demon wearing a beautiful mask.  

Nicole’s mouth widened and her lips stretched over white teeth as the demon bit a wide portion of flesh between them, earning a stifled shriek from the bound woman. When Nicole pulled away, a perfect circle of red indents surrounded Waverly’s nipple. 

“Please, stop,” Waverly couldn’t help but beg, hating how pathetic her voice sounded. “Just…just come back inside me. Leave Nicole and I promise I’ll stop fighting you.”

“Oh, don’t you worry. I’ll be inside you soon enough,” Mictian chuckled. “I should have done this much sooner. Nicole is in here losing her shit. I’ve made sure she can still see and feel herself hurting you. It’s beautiful the way she’s screaming. I honestly don’t think there’s anything I could do to you that wouldn’t hurt her more. Not that I won’t try.”

Scooting down towards Waverly’s knees, Mictian gathered the length of gold fabric that semi-encircled the brunette’s legs and began pushing it up and twisting the slit towards the center. Then, she spread the dress apart, leaving the lower half of Waverly completely exposed. The demon grinned at the newly bared skin and began shifting Nicole’s body to settle between Waverly’s legs.

Waverly clamped her thighs together and Mictian wedged Nicole’s hands between the woman’s taught muscles and pried them apart. The second the demon knelt between Waverly’s knees, Waverly reared back her legs and kicked. The idea of injuring Nicole’s body squeezed at her heart, but she knew her girlfriend would want her to fight. 

After absorbing a sound kick to the gut, Mictian grabbed both of Waverly’s flailing legs and pinned them hard to the bed, eyes going black with a ferocious growl. The demon spread Nicole’s knees and pressed them onto Waverly’s inner thighs, pinning them in place. “Oh, I’m sooo gonna enjoy breaking you,” the demon bellowed.

Careless fingers teased the lacy edge of Waverly’s panties and she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming. Her brain rapidly fired possible ways of escape before denouncing each of them with soul crushing ease. The muscles in her thighs burned from being stretched apart and pinned down. Her wrists chafed against the cuffs. But Waverly no longer felt any of it when Nicole’s fingers moved the fabric aside and rubbed firmly down the middle, stroking the entire length of the shaking brunette’s slit.

A dam broke inside Waverly and she sobbed, turning her head away from the eyes which had faded back to Nicole’s chestnut brown. Eyes that watched Waverly cry and tremble with a spark of delight. 

Suddenly the movement against her center ceased and she heard a shaky voice choke out her name. “W…Waverly…”

Waverly’s eyes shot open and she looked up into what she knew was the real Nicole’s loving gaze. 

“Ba…by, I’m so…so sorry. I can’t. It’s…too strong,” Nicole cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I’m…trying…baby.”

Waverly’s heart swelled with pride and gratitude. Nicole did it. Even if it wouldn’t last, she did it. She fought Mictian for control and won. Waverly knew she may only have a moment with Nicole before the demon overpowered her again.

“It’s okay, baby. It’s not your fault. I know this isn’t you. I love you. I know it’s not you.” Longing to reach up and stroke her girlfriend’s damp face, Waverly did her best to reassure Nicole with the conviction in her voice and the intensity in her eyes.

A strangled sob burst from the redhead’s lungs and Waverly could see the strain in the muscles of Nicole’s neck as she fought to maintain control of her own body. 

“Keep fighting, baby! Please, stay with me,” Waverly pleaded.

Then, with a shudder, Nicole’s expression changed, eyes going hard. 

Waverly’s heart sank.

“Well, she’s stronger than I gave her credit for. She’ll never forgive herself for this you know,” Mictian jeered. “She’ll never be able to look at you again. Never touch you without remembering this moment. You know…if she were to live to see tomorrow. Which is unlikely.”

“You asshole,” Waverly insulted through thin slitted eyes. “You will pay for this.”

“No,” Mictian responded matter of factly. “I won’t.”

Tugging Waverly’s panties down just far enough, Mictian grinned. “Have you ever noticed how long Nicole’s fingers are?” the demon asked, holding up a hand in demonstration. “I know they say size doesn’t matter, but these. They’re really impressive. And I’m going to bury them so deep inside you, I’ll touch that inhuman part that lies dormant beneath your skin. Maybe I can fuck it right out of you.”

Waverly wanted to throw up. She wanted to scream. She wanted to run. 

Nicole is watching me, she thought. She’s dying inside right now, watching my face as her hands violate me. Mictian won’t turn away. Won’t allow her a second of reprieve. I have to be brave…for her. I won’t cry. I won’t beg. I won’t torture her like that. Turning her head to the side, Waverly closed her eyes tight, hoping her mind would carry her away somewhere else.

“Oh no you don’t,” Mictian scolded, grabbing Waverly by her hair and wrenching her head back into position. “Open your goddamn eyes. I want this seared into your memory.”

When Waverly refused, Mictian brought Nicole’s hand down hard across her cheek. 

Waverly’s eyes snapped open with a gasp. 

“There. Now where was I? Oh, right.” And with that, Mictian plunged two fingers roughly into Waverly.

Despite her best efforts to stop it, a tiny whimper made its way between her lips, before Waverly clamped her jaw shut and refused to let another sound pass. 

“You know, if I wanted to, I could make you come. I know all your favorite spots,” Mictian threatened, curling Nicole’s fingers as she continued to thrust, demonstrating the truth of her statement. 

Waverly tried to keep still as a jolt of pleasure rippled through her traitorous body.

“I think that sounds like fun. I’ll force you to come, then I’ll fuck you hard with this big rubber cock you’re both so fond of,” Mictian taunted, driving harder into Waverly at the rousing thought.

Eyes widening, Waverly lifted her head to look down between Nicole’s legs. There was an unmistakable bulge in the officer’s pants. 

“I’ll fuck you so hard you’ll wish for death. Then I’ll put you out of your misery and wait for that sister of yours to come home.”

“No…” Waverly whispered, struggling not to react to the pain and unwelcome shocks of pleasure produced by Mictian’s vigorous use of Nicole’s fingers.

“The real question is, do I kill the heir right away or fuck her first, too? Nicole has been staring at her ass a lot. Wonder if Wynonna likes anal? That could be fun.”

As if summoned by her own name, the bedroom door burst open and in rushed Wynonna. “Wait till you hear what Dolls just did, babyg-” 

The heir quickly turned away, face red. “Oh, shit, sorry!”

As Wynonna’s brain wrapped itself around the scene she’d stumbled upon, she turned back, eyes full of concern. “I’m down with the kinky shit, but it looks like someone forgot their safeword. Waves are you okay?”

“Wynonna!” Waverly half-screamed, half-sobbed.

“Haught, what the fuck?!”

Mictian launched itself off the bed, fingers yanking roughly out of Waverly, and barreled toward the eldest Earp. 

Chapter Text

Wynonna reacted immediately, pulling Peacemaker from its holster. 

“Wynonna, no! Don’t shoot her!” Waverly screamed frantically. “She’s possessed by a demon!”

Mictian tackled the uncertain heir, knocking her to the floor. 

Wynonna landed hard on her back, Peacemaker falling from her grip, just out of reach. 

Mictian scurried to sit atop Wynonna’s hips, pinning her down, and wrapped two strong hands around the woman’s neck. Teeth bared in a snarl, Nicole’s eyes were like midnight as she unwillingly choked the life out of her friend. 

Waverly screamed her sister’s name until her throat was raw, tugging against her restraints, barely feeling anything as the skin broke and blood trickled from her wrists; the adrenaline an anesthetic, numbing her injuries.

Seconds ticked by like hours as Wynonna struggled to get her bearings and fight back. Knees bent, she thrust her pelvis upwards, fruitlessly trying to buck Nicole off of her. Then, she crossed both arms in the shape of an “X” on top of Nicole’s, gripping the woman’s forearms and locking them in place. She moved her left foot to the other side of Nicole’s calf and planted the right firmly in the center. 

This time, when Wynonna thrust her hips up and to the left, Nicole lost her leverage and toppled to the side.

Wynonna gasped, sucking air into her lungs. “Thanks, Dolls,” she choked out. Quickly collecting Peacemaker, she gripped it by the barrel and lunged toward Nicole.

Mictian was half way back to standing when Wynonna landed a solid blow with the butt of the gun to Nicole’s temple, sending her sprawling backwards, unconscious. 

Panting from the brief but intense scuffle, Wynonna stumbled to the bed. “What the hell happened, babygirl?”

Waverly burst into tears, the bottled emotion surging to where she couldn’t answer her sister’s questions even if she wanted to. Instead, she just cried while Wynonna adjusted her clothing and stroked her head, shushing her softly like a baby. 

After a few moments, Wynonna took Waverly’s face in her hands, rubbing away her sister’s tears with her thumbs, only to have them instantly replaced by fresh ones. “Wave…I want to get you out of these cuffs. Do you know where the keys are?”

Waverly shook her head. 

Glancing first at every open surface in the room, Wynonna’s eyes eventually fell to the unconscious officer. She grimaced. Wynonna took a deep breath before finding Waverly’s eyes again. “I’ll be right back, babygirl.”

Waverly whimpered when her sister rose from the bed, immediately missing the warmth and safety of her presence. She watched through waterlogged eyes as Wynonna cautiously approached Nicole.

As vigilant as if she were defusing a live bomb, Wynonna scanned for any flicker of movement before crouching down to slide her hand into Nicole’s pocket. Cursing, she pulled it back out empty. She moved to the other side of the body and repeated the procedure, this time smiling as her hand wrapped around a tiny silver key. She hurried back to Waverly, moving backwards so as not to take her eyes off the source of danger.

With her wrists free, Waverly curled into a tight ball, allowing herself to be held by Wynonna, who resumed stroking her hair and whispered, “It’s okay, it’s going to be okay,” over and over into her ear. Waverly poured herself out onto her sister’s shirt, heaving and shaking. Not a single conscious thought passed through her mind. Her system was in too much shock to process anything. Shock and Pain. The kind of pain that crushed her chest and squeezed at her stomach. Pain that left her throat hoarse and cheeks swollen. She couldn’t move. She could barely breathe.

After nearly ten minutes had passed, Wynonna’s soothing touch and calming voice quieted Waverly’s sobs until they were little more than the occasional shudder and gasp. Feeling crept into her limbs again and she shifted, slightly, testing them out. The fog in her mind began to dissipate. She was still too traumatized to process the magnitude of what had just happened, but clearheaded enough to realize it wasn’t over yet. 

With a sniffle, she stared down at Nicole’s body laid out on the floor. “We…we can’t let her wake up. We have to contain her…somehow,” Waverly rasped.

Wynonna leaned back, regarding her sister. She took the younger woman’s red, puffy face in her hands and gently guided hazel eyes back towards her own worried blue ones. “Babygirl…Waverly. Please. Tell me what happened.”

Waverly took a deep breath and cleared her throat, determined to get the words out without crying again. She sat up in bed, reaching to the side table for a tissue to wipe her nose. “You know how I told you today that something was…wrong…with me?” 

Wynonna nodded.

“I had a demon inside me. Mictian, it called itself. I could hear it inside my head…I could feel it. But it wouldn’t let me tell anyone. I fought and fought to stay in control of my body, but…it was exhausting,” Waverly swallowed hard. “Then, today, it finally got fed up with me as well. It…jumped…into Nicole.”

Wynonna looked over at the redhead with a furrowed brow. “She just looks like Haught…same old, uptight, pain-in-the-ass we all know and love.”

“I knew the second Mictian was gone from inside me,” Waverly continued. “And then I looked into her eyes and…I could see it. The evil. The hatred. The demon wanted to punish me. It knew the worst thing it could possibly do to me is take Nicole away. To…to hurt me with her hands.” She felt the sting of tears threaten again and Waverly blinked hard against them. Her voice cracked as she pushed herself to say the words that stuck like putty in her throat. “Wynonna…I had to look into her eyes…hear her voice…feel her lips while that demon…while it…it…raped me.”

The flood gates opened again and Wynonna pulled Waverly back to her chest, the heir now swiping at her own tears as well as her sisters. “God, I’m…I’m so sorry. Jesus. It’s all over now. You’re safe. And we are going to get Nicole back.”

“What do we do, Wyn? I can’t lose her.”

“You won’t. I’ll take care of it. I promise,” Wynonna assured her. “I should probably get her secured before she regains consciousness.”

Waverly nodded, grabbing for another tissue. “Yeah. Okay. How can I help?”

“Well, we know the demon can regenerate. So, cuffing it to something probably won't work. We don’t need to see Haught chewing her own hand off to get free,” Wynonna shuddered at the mental image. “And ropes…might not be enough.”

“We need a place it can’t escape,” Waverly thought aloud. “A jail cell?”

Wynonna’s eyes lit up. “Yes. At the station. We get Haught behind bars and safe. Then we figure out how to get the demon out of her body.”  She pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket and lifted it to her ear.

“What are you doing?”

“Calling Doc. We are going to need more muscle if she wakes up.”

“Good idea,” Waverly agreed. As she listened to her sister give Doc the abridged version, boots stomping as she paced around the room, eyes never leaving Nicole for more than a second or two, Waverly shifted uncomfortably on the bed. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, she was sore in more places than one and felt desperate to take a long shower and wash the feeling of hands, and tongues, and teeth, from her body. If only she were able to scrub the memory from her mind as easily.

“Okay, he’s on his way. Let’s get Haught in the back of her cruiser,” Wynonna suggested, standing up and reaching a hand out to Waverly.

Waverly took the proffered hand and rose from the bed. “Okay…then I really need a shower. I want out of this stupid dress.”

Wynonna stroked her arm. “Do you think…I mean, should we take you to the hospital?”

Looking down at the floor, Waverly shook her head. “And say what? My girlfriend raped me, but don’t call the cops because she was actually possessed by a demon. Also, she is the cops.” 

“Right. Okay, well let’s move her then. You sure you’re up for this? I can do it myself or wait for Doc.”

“No, I can do it,” Waverly insisted. “You grab the top half.”

The two sisters approached Nicole guardedly. Wynonna reached under the unconscious woman’s shoulders and wrapped her hands around the front of her chest. Waverly knelt between Nicole’s legs and looped an arm around each of her girlfriend’s knees. On three, they stood. 

Quickly, but carefully, they walked out of the room and down the stairs, Wynonna backing down them one at a time, with Waverly timing her steps in response. The limp woman in their arms didn’t make a sound, even as her injured head was thumped against the railing, twice.

When they finally made it out to the vehicle, Waverly set down Nicole’s legs and opened the back door. Wynonna shoved her inside with a grunt, tucking in all her long limbs before slamming the door shut. 

At the same time, Doc came peeling onto the property in a cloud of dust. He slammed the car into park and got out, running straight to Waverly. Sliding his hat off of his head, Doc stopped just short of crashing into her. “Waverly, darlin’. Are you alright?” He tentatively reached out to touch her before thinking better of it and retracting his hand.

“I honestly don’t know,” Waverly answered. “Thanks…for helping with this. Please be careful with her. She’s been through a lot.”

“As have you,” Doc reminded her softly. 

Waverly nodded, wrapping her arms around herself protectively and casting her eyes to the ground. “I’m gonna go inside. I’ll meet you at the station in a bit.”

“I’ll call Jeremy on the way,” Wynonna told her. “All hands on deck. We will figure this out, Waves.”

Too exhausted to give a response, or even a polite smile, Waverly just turned and walked back inside, closing the door behind her. 

After grabbing a fresh towel from the linen closet, Waverly slunk to the bathroom. She turned on the hot water, listening as the old pipes complained for a few seconds before going quiet. 

The void in Waverly’s mind, which, a mere hour ago, had felt like wide-open freedom, was now more like an echo chamber, replaying her memories at a deafening volume over and over. She heard Mictian’s sick, twisted laugh falling from Nicole’s lips. She heard her own voice whimpering, crying, begging. Even the smallest, barely perceptible noises…the clink of the cuffs, Nicole’s heavy breathing, the creek of the mattress, the rustling of clothing…they thundered inside her head. 

Waverly pressed her hands to her temples and squeezed her eyes closed. But the second her lids shut, she saw her beautiful, sweet, selfless girlfriend, hovering above her with an evil glistening behind her eyes while she fucked her. 

“God dammit!” Waverly shouted, slamming her hands down on the edge of the sink. She looked at her reflection. She had a split lip. Running her fingers over it, she remembered the kiss. Familiar lips with a very unfamiliar flavor. And teeth. 

When Nicole smiled, it was all teeth. Perfectly white and straight. Her smile beamed. But now… Waverly sucked a deep breath into her lungs and unzipped the dress, pulling it down her shoulders, and letting it slide off her body. There they were…red teeth marks like a brand on her breast. She lifted her hand and touched the tiny indents. As she did, Waverly noticed for the first time the raw skin and dried blood like macabre bracelets around her wrists. 

Removing the final article of clothing, Waverly pulled herself away from the mirror and stepped into the shower. She let the scalding water rush from the top of her head, down over her shoulders and back, hoping that, with enough heat and soap, she could be free of the sick feeling on her skin.

She scrubbed, then rinsed, then scrubbed again, tears, all the while, falling silently from her eyes. They blended into the water from the shower until it was indiscernible which was cleansing her body and which was cleansing her soul.

When Waverly’s hair and body were as clean as she could get them, she turned off the shower and stepped out onto the mat. Wrapping a towel securely around her chest, she walked the short distance from the bathroom to her bedroom. 

The second she saw her bed, Waverly’s stomach dropped. The cuffs were still looped beneath the headboard. The pillows and blankets were disheveled. She began to hyperventilate as her eyes fell to the fist sized pool of blood on the floor from Nicole’s injury. 

I can’t be in here. I can never be in here again.

Waverly grabbed a random pair of jeans, a bra, and underwear from her drawers, and an oversized fuzzy sweater from her closet before hurrying out of the room. She raced down the stairs into Wynonna’s bedroom and slid the privacy curtain closed. 

Waverly sat hard on the edge of the bed, feeling her center ache with the ghost of Nicole’s fingers. She winced and shifted her weight to the side. The enormity of the event settled in her chest and she couldn’t breathe. Clutching her clothes to her stomach, Waverly focused on expanding and contracting her lungs, slowly, in and out. In and out. In and out. 

For the longest time, Waverly stared at the back of the curtain, vision unfocused. It wasn’t until she noticed the chill on the back of her neck from her damp hair, that she remembered she was supposed to be doing something. Slowly, with arms like lead, Waverly dressed and towel dried her hair. She pulled the wet mop into something resembling a bun and then headed out of the house, purse and phone in hand, to her jeep. 

It was nearly dark and bitterly cold in the lifeless vehicle, a feeling worsened by her still damp hair, the ends of which were quickly beginning to freeze. Waverly hurriedly stuck the keys into the ignition and turned, adjusting the various knobs on the dashboard to blast air, which had not yet warmed, at her own body. The radio picked up where it had left off, streaming soft music from speakers throughout the interior. A love song Waverly didn’t recognize replaced the sounds of crickets and frogs which had begun their evening harmony. She pulled off the property and headed into town.

The normalcy of the task stirred an anger in Waverly that had not been there a moment ago.  She made this drive nearly every day. But today wasn’t like any other day. In fact, she worried she’d never have another normal day again. 

-

 

By the time she reached the station, having passed a handful of fellow Purgatorians strolling casually along the sidewalks, walking their dogs or popping in and out of shops, Waverly was shaking. She jerked the vehicle into park and slammed the palm of her hand against a button on her dash, effectively silencing the radio personalities who laughed carelessly at one another’s banter between songs. How can anybody laugh right now? How can anyone smile, or eat, or sleep, or go about their day as if life…my life as I knew it, isn’t over? How can the sun dip behind the horizon and make the sky look so beautiful when there is absolutely no room for beauty in my soul? How dare the world keep on turning like this? As if nothing has changed…when everything has changed.

Forcing herself out of the vehicle, Waverly walked into the station. Another place that should bring her a sense of comfort…but today, it loomed around her, ominous as she made her way to the holding cells. 

And then she saw her. Nicole. In a cage with iron bars. Still wearing her uniform, though missing her duty belt.

Waverly came to a stop just past the threshold.

Wynonna spotted her sister and hurried to her side. 

“Did you check her socks? Sometimes she keeps a gun in there.” Waverly asked quietly.

Wynonna nodded, both of them staring at the smug, hateful expression on the woman they’d both come to care so deeply for. 

“You can’t keep me in here forever,” Mictian taunted. “Your little gingersnap is getting weaker by the minute. Her body won’t last…especially not now that her spirit has been broken.”

“We are going to get you out of her,” Waverly fumed, voice deep and throaty with rage. “You sick fuck. You are going to pay for what you did to us.”

Mictian remained unphased. “The only way I leave this body is if Nicole is dead. Until then, can someone bring me something to do? I’m bored.”

Fists clenched at her side, Waverly marched out of the room with Wynonna hot on her heels. “Where is Jeremy on finding a solution?”

“He and Dolls have been working on it. They think they have something…a…an unbinding spell or something.”

“Good.”

“Waves, stop,” Wynonna called, reaching out to take Waverly’s arm. 

Waverly came to a stop and turned toward her sister. 

“Are you okay?”

“What kind of a question is that, Wynonna?” Waverly snapped. “No. I’m not okay. And I won’t be okay until Nicole is free of this demon.”

“I know. And we’re going to fix her. But, I’m worried about you. Maybe you should go back home and rest. We will take care of Nicole, you know we will.”

“I can’t be there,” Waverly admitted quietly. “I can’t…I keep seeing it…hearing it. I can even smell…vanilla…mixed with sweat and perfume and…and me. God, I feel sick.” Waverly clutched her stomach and bent at the waist. 

“Let’s get you sitting down,” Wynonna soothed, leading her to an empty chair. She dragged another chair beside her and sat, taking her sister’s hand. “Look…what you went through…it must have been…beyond horrible. You’re allowed to feel pissed and sick and hopeless and…whatever else you might be feeling, but I want you to know. It does get better.”

Waverly looked over at her doubtfully.

“I know it does, because…and I know it’s not the same thing, but…well, something similar happened to me…in juvie.”

Waverly tightened her grip on Wynonna’s hand. “What?! Why didn’t you tell me?”

Wynonna looked away. “You know how much I love talking about my feelings. And, honestly…I didn’t want you looking at me differently. Like I’m a victim. Weak.”

Giving her sister a softly scolding look, Waverly leaned forward in her chair, chasing Wynonna’s line of vision. “Am I weak?”

“Of course not!” Wynonna responded vehemently. 

Waverly raised her eyebrows as if to say, “See?”

Nodding, Wynonna sighed. “I’m picking up what you’re putting down. My point is, babygirl…not today, and not tomorrow, but eventually…things will feel okay again.”

“Do you want to talk about what happened to you?” Waverly asked, running her thumb over the back of her sister’s hand.

“Another time. For now, we need to focus on saving your girl.”

Not two seconds later, Jeremy and a very fatigued looking Dolls came out of the BBD office and crossed the hall to where Waverly and Wynonna sat, still clutching one another’s hands in unwavering support. “Guys! We’ve got it!”

Both women shot to standing and their clutch on one another loosened, but they did not drop hands. 

“You can fix Nicole?” Waverly asked.

“Yes, Jeremy responded. “With this.” He held up a glass beaker with about three inches of liquid inside. 

Dolls chimed in, voice gravelly, “This formula will make the demon think it’s inside a dying body and leave its host. Then, Wynonna can shoot it with Peacemaker.” 

Waverly looked at him quizzically. Her boss, and friend, was sweating profusely and hunched over, steadying himself with a hand on the back of a nearby chair. “Are you okay?”

“Oh! That’s what I came barging into your room to tell you,” Wynonna exclaimed. “Dolls is basically a walking flamethrower. He totally barbequed that asshole who chopped off your hand.”

Eyebrows raising comically high, Waverly simply shook her head. “Okay. That’s new. And…useful?”

The group, sans Dolls, collectively nodded their heads. 

“Okay, so how do we get Nicole to drink the solution?” Waverly asked, steering them back towards the most imminent problem.

“She’s stronger than you’d think,” Wynonna added.

“Four of us, one of her,” Dolls said with a shrug.

“Five,” Doc announced, strolling into the room. “My apologies. I was tending to the bar. Making sure there were no wanderin’ sparks left over that might burn the whole establishment to the ground. But, I know it is of little concern when one of our own is in peril.”

“It’s okay, Doc,” Waverly reassured him. “Thanks for coming back.”

Drawing everyone’s attention, Wynonna released Waverly’s hand after giving it a firm squeeze and stepped into the center of the room. 

Waverly watched as her sister’s body language changed. As she stepped into her power and took charge. Waverly never tired of seeing Wynonna like this. As a leader. As the heir. As a hero.

“Doc, you and I will hold Nicole down. Waverly, you dump the anti-demon juice down her throat. Jeremy, you take Dolls back across the hall and make sure he’s okay. He looks like he’s going to pass out.”

“I’m fine,” Dolls insisted, standing up straighter.

“Thank you for helping us with the formula, but you really need to rest,” Wynonna told him in a tone that left no room for argument. “You nearly died, then overdosed on your demon drugs, and nearly died again.”

“Plus you went full Charizard on briefcase guy. There are scorch marks on the floor of Shorty’s to prove it,” Jeremey added.  

Waverly’s lips curled into a wisp of a smile while everyone else rolled their eyes.

“That’s settled, then,” Wynonna announced, leading the way back to the holding cell. “Let’s do this before Red gets dead.”

Doc and Waverly followed after her, while Jeremy escorted a disgruntled looking Dolls in the opposite direction.

When they walked inside, Nicole was laying on the bench at the back of the cell, half hanging upside down off the side of it, red hair brushing across the dirty cement floor. “I was wondering when you would come back. Nicole was getting worried that you guys had given up on her…what with what she did to poor, sweet Waverly.” 

“She didn’t do anything,” Waverly spat. “You did.”

Mictian rolled Nicole off of the bench and stood, cocking her head to the side. “Maybe…or maybe it was more her than you think.”

“Shut your mouth!” Waverly shouted through clenched teeth. 

Wynonna began unlocking the cell. “Actually, I’m gonna need you to open it.”

Mictian stepped back, eyeing them skeptically, but not saying a word.

Waverly waited outside the cell, beaker in hand, while Doc and Wynonna wrestled with a formidable Nicole. After a flurry of fists, legs, and, unfortunately for Wynonna, teeth, the two had finally subdued her, Doc sitting on the ground with Nicole half on top of him, her arms pinned behind her back with his own. 

Wynonna clung to Nicole’s flailing legs. “Now, babygirl!” 

Rushing inside, Waverly knelt next to Nicole, who promptly clamped her mouth shut. Waverly grabbed her chin with one hand, but Nicole ripped it away. “Ugh! I can’t get her to open up!” She looked helplessly back toward a sweating Wynonna and suddenly a memory from their childhood sprang to mind. “Wait! I know!”

Throwing a leg over Nicole, careful not to kick Wynonna in the process, Waverly straddled her girlfriend, wrapping her own thighs tightly around Nicole’s hips so as to not get thrown off by her violent thrashing. “It’s like that time you made me drink grape soda until it came out of my nose!” 

Wynonna chuckled at the memory. “Good times.”

Waverly pinched Nicole’s nose until she opened her mouth, gasping for breath, then dumped the liquid in. She promptly moved her hand to cover both Nicole’s mouth and nose, forcing her to swallow. Once she saw movement in Nicole’s throat, Waverly released her, climbing off her body and scurrying backwards across the floor. 

After a few panicked gagging sounds, Nicole turned her head and vomited a powerful surge of black goo onto the back wall of the cell, and the bench, and floor beneath it. In a puddle at the foot of the mess slithered a shrieking tentacle about the length of Waverly’s arm. 

Waverly thought, with disgust, that its face, if you could even call it a face, kind of resembled a vagina. A very angry vagina…with teeth. 

Wynonna didn’t hesitate, she ripped Peacemaker from its holster and pointed it right at the tentacle demon. “Mictian…I’d say make your peace, but I hope you never find any.” The gun glowed a vibrant yellow before she pulled the trigger, splattering Mictian into more of the same black goo that painted the walls.

Nicole groaned and Waverly raced to her side. “Baby?! Are you okay?”

“Mmmm…what happened? Wh…where am I?” Nicole asked, looking around the cell and its inhabitants. Doc had been the last to release her and had only done so once the tentacle was thoroughly obliterated. 

“You…you don’t remember?” Waverly asked. 

Nicole pressed a palm to her forehead, blinking hard. “I remember being in your room. You kicked me out and I was leaving…that’s it. I don’t know what happened after that. Did I? Was I…arrested?”

Waverly was stunned. Nicole didn’t remember. Of course she didn’t. Waverly herself barely remembered anything that had happened when the demon was in control. 

How do I tell her what happened? Should I tell her at all?

Chapter Text

Nicole’s soft, confused eyes locked onto Waverly’s, waiting for answers.

Waverly opened and closed her mouth, face contorted with conflicting emotion. “I…you…”

Wynonna huffed a fake sounding laugh, loud in the hollow room. “Please…like Deputy Do Good would ever get herself arrested. Come on, Haught. Let’s get out of here and we’ll fill you in later.” She held out a hand to Nicole, but couldn’t quite bring herself to meet her friend’s eyes.

Brows sewn together, Nicole took the heir’s hand and allowed herself to be helped up. Once on her feet, she shifted awkwardly back and forth, eyes growing wide. As Wynonna and Doc wandered out of the holding cell, Nicole stayed behind, taking Waverly’s hand to stop her as well.

“Uh…Waves…why am I wearing a strap-on?!” she whisper-yelled into her girlfriend’s ear.

Part of Waverly wanted to laugh at the comical level of panic on the officer’s face, but then she remembered the real reason for the toy’s presence and felt a chill run through her. “It’s…a long story,” she dismissed, turning to walk away. 

“Waverly, please. What is going on? Why don’t I remember?”

Turning back, Waverly couldn’t keep the sad expression from her eyes, even as she forced a small smile. “We’ll talk about it later, okay? I promise.”

Nicole relented with a heavy sigh and followed Waverly from the holding area, detouring quickly to head for the privacy of the bathroom.

-

Hours later, Jeremy, fully dressed in a BBD issued hazmat suit, had scrubbed every drop of demon goo from the walls of the holding cell. Dolls had passed out, hunched over his desk. Doc and Wynonna had gone to Shorty’s to finish cleaning up the bar. And Nicole and Waverly were seated in the officer’s cruiser, uncomfortably quiet in the darkness outside of the station. 

"Ready to go home?” Nicole asked, voice soft and hesitant, as if she knew something was very wrong.

Waverly shook her head. “Actually, can I stay at your place tonight?”

“Of course. Calamity Jane misses you.”

Waverly dragged her lips into a ghost of a smile that didn’t remotely reach her eyes. 

Nicole’s face crumpled at the sight, but she didn’t push. Turning the key, she started the vehicle and drove the short distance to her house.

How am I going to tell her what happened? Waverly wondered for the dozenth time as she watched the empty streets of Purgatory blur by outside her window. Maybe leaving her blissfully ignorant is the kindest thing I can do. But…she will be able to tell something’s wrong. I have to give her some kind of answer. Not telling her the whole truth…is that really a lie? If it’s to protect her from an immense amount of suffering? I can do it. I can act normal. Fake it till I make it. I can do it for her. Nicole never did anything wrong. She doesn’t deserve the pain of the truth.

They pulled up in front of the blue house in far shorter a time than Waverly remembered it being. She unclicked her seatbelt and slowly climbed out of the cruiser, feeling as if she were about to meet her executioner. 

At the front of the car, Nicole reached out a hand and Waverly took it. Together, they walked up the short sidewalk to the house. Only once they were inside, kicking off their boots, Calamity Jane rubbing herself against their legs, did they let go of one another’s hands.

“Tea?” Nicole asked. She set the bag which had discreetly carried the strap-on out of the police station onto the stairs, then wandered into the kitchen.

“Sure.”

While Nicole set the kettle on the stove, Waverly got out two mugs and tea bags. The hum of the gas stove and soft whine of the kettle sounded ten times louder in the thick air between them.

Once they were settled on the couch, Waverly at one end and Nicole at the other, both turned towards one another with their legs tucked beneath them, mugs of tea steaming in their hands, Nicole gave Waverly a look that said, talk.

Waverly’s palms grew sweaty against the mug and she stared down into the murky brown liquid to avoid looking at her girlfriend. “Do you remember…anything? Anything after I asked you to leave?”

Nicole shook her head. 

Blowing out a breath, Waverly continued. “Okay. Um, well…you didn’t leave. You turned back to me and said that you could tell something was wrong with me. And you were right. For weeks, I’ve been living with a demon inside me. Ever since Willa died at the archway. I touched some demon goo and…became possessed. With  Mictian.”

Nicole’s eyes were huge and she set down her mug. “Oh, Waverly, I…”

“Please, just let me get this out,” Waverly asked, finally meeting Nicole’s worried gaze. At the redhead’s nod, she continued. “Most of the time I could repress the demon, but sometimes it…took control. When it did, I could barely remember anything that happened afterward. As the weeks went on, I felt more and more tired from fighting it. The demon started taking control more often and for longer periods of time. Then, today, when you confronted me, the demon forced me to move closer to you. To kiss you. When I did, it jumped from my body to yours.”

Nicole looked even paler than usual. “What…what did I do?”

Waverly swallowed hard, tugging the sleeves of her sweater down further, discreetly covering her wrists. This was it. To tell her the truth or not to? “You…well, you…you threatened me,” she stumbled, still not sure how much she was going to say, even as the words tumbled from her lips. “You…it…Mictian said it was going to kill all of us with your gun. Then, Wynonna showed up and knocked you out. We carried you to the cruiser and she drove you to the station. Jeremy and Dolls created a formula to extract the demon and Wynonna killed it.”

Waverly’s stomach sank at the omission, but she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t look into those eyes and break Nicole’s heart. I can carry this secret. For her.

“Oh, god. I’m so sorry, Waverly!” Nicole cried, shifting closer to her on the couch. She took Waverly’s cup and set it on the coffee table before pulling the brunette into a hug. “I can’t believe I threatened you with a gun! You must have been so scared. I’m so sorry!”

Waverly burrowed into Nicole’s neck and tried to relax into the hug. “It’s okay, Nicole. It’s not your fault. You weren’t in control and there’s nothing you could have done to stop it. I…I’m okay. We’re okay.”

When Nicole pulled back, her eyes were wet. “Did I do this?” she trailed a finger softly over the split in Waverly’s lip. 

Waverly flinched. 

“And you have a bruise on your forehead.”

Waverly touched the tender spot where she’d head-butted Nicole. Oddly enough, Nicole didn’t have a matching one.  Mictian must have healed her. “It…it happened in the scuffle. You’re strong even without a demon inside you.”

Nicole shook her head, worrying her lip between her teeth. “You know I would never intentionally hurt you, right? I’m so, so sorry.”

“Of course,” Waverly answered softly. “I know, baby.”

“And…why was I wearing the…um…?”

Waverly shrugged. “Who knows why demons do what they do.” 

Nicole stared back with obvious doubt but before she could question it further, Waverly stood and excused herself to the bathroom. She’d never been a great liar and very much wanted to end the conversation before she was forced to do any more of it.

That night, as they ate dinner, Waverly pushed her food around, just the smell of it making her feel sick. Afterward, Nicole suggested watching tv, but Waverly was too tired.

Dishes cleared, pjs on, and teeth brushed, Nicole climbed between the cool sheets of her bed and pulled the covers back, an invitation for Waverly to join her. 

Waverly got into bed, heart pounding nearly out of her chest. She pulled the blankets up to her chin and felt Nicole’s arm snake around her waist, pulling their bodies together. Nicole hummed contentedly into her ear.

As Nicole slept, Waverly laid awake, eyes wide in the darkness, heart thudding and breath shallow, feeling as trapped as she had earlier, handcuffed to her own bed, Nicole’s weight pinning her down. She tried desperately to take slow breaths, to push down her panic, but it wouldn’t work. Every muscle in her body was tense in her girlfriend’s arms.

Mictian is gone, she reminded herself. This is just Nicole. I am safe now. Nothing is going to hurt me. I can go to sleep. 

But her logical mind and her nervous system strongly disagreed on the situation. Eventually, Waverly extricated herself from Nicole’s arms and got out of bed. She grabbed a throw blanket from the foot of the bed and walked downstairs to the couch. Setting an alarm on her phone for 5:00 am, far earlier than Nicole would wake up, Waverly finally closed her eyes and slept.

-

Around 7:45 am, a sharp but shallow prick on the side of Nicole’s head prodded her from her slumber and she grumbled in response. Seconds later, another one, followed by a deep rumbling sound. Nicole sighed and rolled over, eyes blinking open to face an impatient looking Calamity Jane, paw raised, ready to strike again. “It’s not breakfast time yet,” she scolded the cat. “My alarm hasn’t even gone off.”

Undeterred, the cat climbed onto Nicole’s stomach and sat, boring her yellow eyes like laser beams into the groggy redhead. 

“You are worse than a child,” she said with a glare.

Calamity meowed in response. 

Nicole moved the cat off her stomach with the promise that she’d be up in five minutes and Calamity Jane waddled out of the room as if she understood.

Rolling onto her side, Nicole faced Waverly. “You’re awake.”

Waverly looked back at her with a lopsided smile. “Yeah.”

Nicole reached out to pull Waverly into a hug and Waverly allowed it, only slightly stiffening.

“Sleep well?” Nicole murmured, her warm breath tickling Waverly’s ear.

“Mostly,” Waverly admitted. “Breakfast?” she suggested before Nicole could ask any follow up questions.

“Sure. Breakfast tacos?”

Waverly chuckled. “I’ll never say no to that.”

“Jane woke me up early so I have extra time before my shift starts this afternoon.”

Waverly frowned. “Um…what do you think about playing hookie for a day?” As much as being in Nicole’s presence felt awkward and heavy, being alone scared Waverly even more. Being left to her thoughts…her memories. 

Nicole leaned back, a question in her eyes.

Waverly took the opportunity to wiggle out of her girlfriend’s arms. “I just…it's been a rough few days…rough few weeks, actually. Maybe we could just…rest?”

Nicole stared off over Waverly’s shoulder as if she were mentally checking her schedule before smiling. “I think I can make that work. I’ll call Nedley and make sure he has enough coverage. Want to start on the coffee?”

“Sure.”

Nicole leaned forward to give Waverly a kiss, but Waverly rolled away, quickly rising from the bed as if she hadn’t noticed her girlfriend’s descending lips. “Two cups of steaming hot bean water, coming up.”

-

Thirty minutes later, Nedley had been called, Calamity Jane had been fed, the coffee had been brewed, and Nicole was just pouring the last scoop of pancake batter onto a skillet. Waverly stood beside her, dicing strawberries and bananas into tiny squares and slicing blueberries in half. She pulled a packet of shredded coconut from the pantry and poured it into a bowl.

When the food was finally ready, the two women sat across from one another at the kitchen table, folding pancakes in half and stuffing them with fruit, coconut, and dairy free whipped cream as if they were tacos. They lifted their sweet breakfast with their hands before simultaneously taking big bites. Whipped cream smeared on Nicole’s cheek and bits of strawberry fell out of the back of Waverly’s “shell”. It was a messy meal, but totally worth it.

Waverly was thankful her stomach finally allowed her to fill it. 

“So, what should we do with our day off?” Nicole asked, taking a sip of her coffee.

“Maybe just watch some TV? Take it easy?”

Nicole’s eyes lit up. “Golden Girls marathon?”

“Haha, sure, babe,” Waverly agreed with an indulgent smile.

 -

Waverly hadn’t thought this through.

TV meant the couch and the couch meant cuddling. She wanted desperately to be comforted by Nicole, but her body reacted as if it were in danger every time her girlfriend came near her. 

You’re being ridiculous, Waverly Earp, she scolded herself. She looked up at Nicole who grinned like a puppy while Rose told some totally nuts story about life in St. Olaf. Look at her. She’s harmless. The threat is gone. Nicole is your safe place. You can’t let Mictian win by taking that from you. 

With a sigh, she snuggled deeper into Nicole’s shoulder, relaxing each of her muscles, one by one, until her body finally calmed down. Nicole’s hand traced nonsense patterns on her arm and she let her eyes shut at the feeling.

-

Some time later, Waverly woke up, head now resting in Nicole’s lap. She blinked in her surroundings and hummed contentedly as she felt Nicole’s hand stroking up and down the outside of her thigh. Waverly was almost about to drift back off to sleep when she felt Nicole’s hand stop, just above her knee, and move to the inside of her leg, settling itself between Waverly’s thighs and ceasing to move. 

Waverly’s mind immediately flashed to Nicole’s hands sliding between her thighs, prying them apart, her body reacting as if it were happening all over again. She shoved Nicole’s hand away and launched herself to the other side of the couch.

Nicole visibly jumped in shock. “Waverly, what’s wrong?! Are you okay?”

Hand on her chest, Waverly tried to calm her breathing. Laughter from the live studio audience screeched from the tv like dozens of styrofoam containers rubbing together, grating Waverly’s already frazzled nerves. “You…your hand. I was asleep. What were you trying to do?”

Nicole stared down at the offending limb and then back up at her girlfriend, trying to make sense of Waverly’s accusation. “Baby, I…my hand was down by your knees. I thought…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I would never touch you…like that…without your consent.”

Shaking her head, Waverly backpedaled. “Of course. No, you’re right. I know. I’m…I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m so jumpy.”

“Hey,” Nicole soothed. “It’s okay. It’s understandable. You’ve been through a lot lately.”

You don’t know the half of it.

“How about some lunch?”

Waverly nodded and forced a smile. She pulled the long sleeves of her shirt down, collecting the material in her fists. What had begun as a maneuver to hide her injured wrists, was quickly becoming comforting habit.

-

Over the next week, Waverly found it increasingly difficult to pretend that everything was okay. She avoided being kissed by Nicole. Avoided any touch beyond snuggling. And every night, Waverly slept on the couch, waking early enough to sneak back into bed. 

Nicole had left a few times to go to work, only for short periods and checking on Waverly frequently by phone. In those brief windows, the darkness pressed in on her and Waverly felt as if it might swallow her whole. She laid in bed, too numb to even cry anymore, grieving the loss of the easy, comfortable nature of their relationship. 

As hard as it was for Waverly to admit, this empty, hopeless feeling pressing on her was not a new experience. This was far from the first time she’d suffered in silence under the weight of it. In the past, when the feeling would start to creep in, Waverly would rationalize with herself that everyone felt sad sometimes. That she’d had a hard life and it was fair to let that overtake her now and again. But it was more than that. It was more than a few bad days here and there. Sometimes, when she was young, she felt so despondent that she’d shut herself in her room and pretend to be sick. 

The first time she’d heard the term depression, Waverly had been a teenager. The topic was covered in health class, lumped together with a half-dozen other mental illnesses, and sandwiched between lessons on drug addiction and suicide. Waverly had stared, wide-eyed at the PowerPoint presentation cast onto the whiteboard at the front of the room. The list of symptoms typed in apathetic, bold font were accompanied by a clip art caricature of a crying woman. Waverly saw herself on the screen and recoiled from it. She would not be that woman. She would not reduce herself to a collection of symptoms. So she never said the word. Never even thought it. 

Over time, Waverly had learned ways to avoid the feeling. An ever present smile on her face, she tried to keep busy. Working extra shifts at Shorty’s, delving into BBD cases, learning a new language, exercising a lot, and avoiding, at all costs, being left alone with her thoughts.

So, the first time Nicole had gone into work, only for an hour, Waverly had quickly found herself tucked in bed with the curtains pulled tightly closed and blankets covering everything but her eyes and the top of her head. The blanket smelled like Nicole which was both comforting and nauseating. She fought against the triggered memory. She fought against the darkness that wanted to swallow her. But Waverly was exhausted. 

This facade she was working so hard to present was draining the life from her and Waverly had no idea how to stop. She knew that being honest with Nicole could help her feel better, but was it worth it? The small weight it might ease from her wary shoulders would land like a thousand pounds on Nicole. It would crush her. 

She’d reached a heavy arm out of the covers and grabbed aimlessly for her phone. Squinting at the bright screen, she’d texted her sister.

Waverly- Don’t mention anything to Nicole about what happened. I haven’t told her yet.

Wynonna- Waves you have to tell her.

Waverly- I will. Make sure nobody else mentions it either. 

Wynonna- Okay. How are you holding up? Can I bring you anything?

Waverly- I’m fine. Thanks sis.

The following day, as she’d slipped on one of Nicole’s shirts, having run out of clothes, she wished she had asked her sister to bring some from the homestead. Nicole suggested they go themselves, but Waverly had refused. The idea of walking back into her bedroom was terrifying. She couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t. And Nicole, patient as always, hadn’t pushed, though it was plain upon her face that she was confused.

By the end of the week, as they watched some mindless romcom, curled up on the couch with Nicole’s giant fluff ball of a cat draped across both their laps, Waverly could scarcely follow the plot. She stared right through the tv. When Nicole would laugh at a particularly funny part, it would shock Waverly from her stupor and she’d quickly laugh along as well. 

“Waves…please talk to me. I can tell something’s wrong,” Nicole pleaded, muting the tv in the middle of the cliche chase scene. 

Waverly avoided turning to face her, instead, staring at the soundless pictures moving across the screen. Looks like they’re stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. Of course.

“Waverly.”

Finally, Waverly pried her eyes away and looked at her girlfriend, the glow of the tv reflecting on the side of the woman’s face, changing in intensity from scene to scene as the story marched forward without them.

“I’m fine, Nicole,” she lied unconvincingly.

“You’re not.”

Waverly sighed heavily. “Maybe not, but I’m handling it.”

“You don’t have to handle it alone…whatever it is that’s bothering you. I know being possessed must have been really scary. You said the demon spoke to you…controlled you. I’m just guessing here, but…going back to business as usual must be hard after that. I was only under its influence for a little while, but even I feel…unsettled. Knowing there were things I did that I can’t remember. Like being black out drunk but way worse.”

“It was scary,” Waverly admitted, thankful for the opportunity to be completely honest for a change. Though it wasn’t the root of her problem, it was still very much the truth. “Sometimes I would “wake up” and you’d be angry with me or I’d be in a completely different place and I had no idea why.”

Nicole looked down at the oblivious cat purring in her lap and stroked her absentmindedly, eyes seeming suddenly heavy. “Um…I’ve wanted to ask you, but…I’m not sure I want to know the answer and…” She closed her mouth, lips pressed tightly together as if she were holding back something that would physically hurt her to release.

Waverly tensed. Does she remember something?

With a deep breath, Nicole summoned her courage and looked Waverly in the eye. “How many of the times that we…well, when we were…intimate…were you…you? Because, I just keep thinking about our first time together and how wonderful that was, but…what if you never gave me your consent? What if it was Mictian? You’ve been so distant lately, physically, and I just worry…god, the very idea of it makes me sick… Do you even remember it? Or when I told you I loved you after you were shot by those mercenaries? What about w-”

Shaking her head, Waverly placed a finger on Nicole’s lips, gently silencing her. “Baby…it was all me. I promise. I remember all of that.”

“Are you sure?” 

Waverly’s heart ached at the vulnerability in her girlfriend’s eyes. “I promise. Our first time was beautiful…perfect. Mictian didn’t take that from us. And I still remember the tears in your eyes when you told me you loved me and how hard my heart was beating when I said it back. I could barely hear my own words over the sound of it.”

Nicole chuckled softly and picked at the end of Waverly’s long, loose hair, twirling the end around her fingers. “Okay. Good. Because the idea that I may have done things against your will or without your permission…I just…I couldn’t live with myself.”

Waverly looked away, struggling to keep her expression neutral. “Uh…we should finish this movie. Gotta know if he gets the girl in the end, right?”

Placing a kiss to Waverly’s forehead, Nicole smiled. “Sure, babe. Love you.”

“I love you,” Waverly breathed, full of sincerity and renewed certainty. If she’d been wavering before, that stopped now. Nicole could never know what Mictian made her do.   

-

That night, as Waverly tossed restlessly on the couch, she heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming down the stairs, pulling her from her fitful sleep.

“Waves?” Nicole whispered through the darkness from the base of the stairwell, before walking towards the couch. “Baby, why are you sleeping down here?”

Waverly pushed herself up to sitting, the throw blanket slipping from her shoulders. “Uh, I was just…I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Do you want to come back to bed?”

Only hesitating for a moment, Waverly smiled. “Of course. Yes.”

Discreetly turning off her alarm, Waverly followed Nicole back upstairs and climbed into bed. 

She spent the rest of the night chewing her bottom lip raw. 

-

The following morning, Waverly closed her eyes as she heard Nicole rousing from sleep, pretending to be just waking up, herself. She hoped the deep bags under her eyes didn’t give her away. “Morning, baby.”

Nicole looked at her, really looked at her, and frowned. “Hey. You didn’t sleep, did you?

“I did for a bit,” Waverly lied.

Nicole shook her head and picked up her phone. After thumbing at it for a few seconds, she dropped it back onto the nightstand. “Why don’t you shower and I’ll make breakfast?”

“Okay.”

Half an hour later, Waverly wandered into the kitchen to the smell of homemade pancakes. A stack at least eight inches high sat on a plate in the middle of the table and more were cooking on the griddle. “Are we feeding an army?”

“Close enough,” Nicole answered.

Right on que, the front door swung open and in walked Wynonna. “I was going to knock, but I figured, why break my streak of just barging in unannounced.”

Waverly looked back and forth from her girlfriend to her sister, computing. “Did you text her?”

Nicole stacked the last of the pancakes on the pile and walked over to Waverly. “I thought you could use some sister time. That okay?”

Waverly wanted to be mad that Nicole had made that decision for her, but she was so relieved to see Wynonna, she couldn’t even fake a frown. “Yes. Thank you.” She squeezed Nicole’s hand before turning to her sister. “Hey sis. I missed you.”

Wynonna wrapped Waverly in a hug. “Missed you too, kid. Oooh, pancakes!” 

Waverly laughed and released her sister who promptly made a beeline for the table. Sticking a fork into the top of the stack, Wynonna piled no less than five pancakes, each the size of her hand, onto the plate in front of her.

Nicole and Waverly joined her at the table and smiled at the elder Earp’s enthusiasm. 

“How’s it going with the briefcase?” Waverly asked.

“No go. That thing is clamped tighter than Nedley’s pucker butt after the 2005 chili cookoff.” She glanced unapologetically at Nicole before shoveling a huge bite of pancake into her mouth, syrup dripping down her chin.

Nicole rolled her eyes. 

“Have you tried June 18th 1940? Edwin Earp’s birthday,” Waverly suggested. “I googled it.”

Wynonna stopped chewing and stared, before whipping out her phone to send off a text. She stuffed the device back into her pocket. “Course I thought of that.”

It was Waverly’s turn for an eye roll. 

Wynonna shoved her hand into her shirt and tugged at her bra. “So, how are things at Chez Haught?”

“Good,” Waverly answered, pouring syrup onto her own pancakes. “We’re just relaxing.”

Nodding, Wynonna took a sip of coffee before setting the cup down to reach inside her shirt again with a grumble of frustration.

Nicole raised an eyebrow. “You okay there?”

“I swear, all my bras have shrunk! I blame you for this.” She pointed her fork accusingly at Waverly.

“How is this my fault?”

Wynonna glowered. “You haven’t been home to do my laundry. I had to do it myself. Clearly I messed something up.”

“You sure you aren’t pregnant?” Nicole teased.

“Of course not!” Wynonna returned. “I’m on alllll the birth controls.” 

As the three continued their meal, Wynonna seemed increasingly distracted, making far less jokes than usual. When they cleared the table, Wynonna’s plate was still half full.

“You sure you’re finished?” Waverly asked, her sister’s dish in hand.

“Yeah, I’m good. Guess I wasn’t as hungry as I thought.” 

Nicole pressed a kiss to the side of Waverly’s head. “Hey, I’m gonna go get some work done upstairs on my laptop. You two okay down here?”

Waverly gave her a knowing look. “We’re fine. Thank you.”

Nicole disappeared up the stairs, leaving Waverly and Wynonna alone. They wandered to the couch and sat, still nursing half empty cups of coffee.

“I take it you still haven’t told her,” Wynonna said without a trace of judgment in her voice.

“I can’t. It will destroy her,” Waverly answered, keeping her voice low. 

“So, instead it should destroy you?” 

Waverly dropped her eyes to her coffee.

“You look exhausted, babygirl. You can’t carry this alone.”

“She’ll never look at me the same. She’ll never look at herself the same. Mictian will have won.”

Wynonna hesitated, chewing at the inside of her cheek for a moment before she sat her coffee down and asked the question that seemed to be troubling her. 

“I was just wondering…and please don’t bite my head off, but…well…”

“Spit it out Wynonna. It’s not like you to censor yourself.”

“It’s just. You said you were fighting this thing for weeks. That it only took over some of the time. Why couldn’t Nicole do the same? I know you’re strong, Waves, but Nicole’s no slouch either. Why couldn’t she stop it?”

Waverly swallowed the bubble of defensiveness that resulted from her sister’s carefully worded accusation. Instead, she set her own cup aside and took a breath. “She tried. She even succeeded for a minute or two, but…Mictian said…”

Wynonna watched her patiently but expectantly.

“It said I was…not entirely human.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

Wringing the fabric of her sleeves between her hands, Waverly pushed herself to confide in her sister. “There’s something I haven’t told you. I wasn’t trying to hide it, I just…I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it myself. The night Willa died, I went to the treehouse and ran into Bobo. He…well, he told me I’m not an Earp.”

Wynonna’s eyes blazed. “The hell you’re not.”

Waverly continued, heart hammering in her chest as she finally allowed her fears to surface. “When I started hearing voices in my head, part of me thought…maybe it was just my own bad thoughts I was hearing. An evil inside me, not a possession…just me. Just my own darkness. And then Mictian told me I was inhuman. That I was stronger than human. Wynonna…what if Bobo and Mictian are right? What am I?”

Wynonna reached across the short distance and took one of Waverly’s hands. “I don’t know what those asshole demons were talking about, but you are 100% an Earp, babygirl. I watched Mama bring you home from the hospital. I helped change your diapers. I kept you occupied in the barn when Daddy was in one of his moods. I taught you to tie your shoes. You’re my sister.”

Waverly felt her eyes well up for the first time in days. “But-”

“No buts. Maybe there’s more to your story than you or I know, but you are the farthest thing from evil I have ever known. Mama called you her angel for a reason. You’re a good sister and a good girlfriend. You’re the best of us.”

Tears burned hot pathways down Waverly’s cheeks and she squeezed her eyes closed, shaking her head. “I’ve been lying to Nicole. I’m just trying to protect her, but it’s making me feel like crap.”

“You gotta tell her. She knows something’s really wrong, Waves. She knows you.” Shame etching her features, Wynonna’s gaze shifted down to her lap. “In fact…she knew something was off with you long before I did. She tried to tell me but I wouldn’t listen. I…I’m so sorry. This is all my fault. I should have seen it sooner. I could have stopped Mictian before-”

“No,” Waverly interrupted. “You can’t blame yourself. You have a lot on your shoulders. Too much. This wasn’t your fault.”

Blue eyes locked on to Waverly’s. “It wasn’t yours either.”

Waverly shifted uncomfortably at the uncharacteristic tenderness of her sister’s gaze, doubt hunching her shoulders. “I know…”

“Then why are you punishing yourself?”

Unable to tolerate the intensity in those blue pools, Waverly looked away. “I’m not…I’m…I just…If I’d just fought a little harder. Just made it another hour, hell, another few minutes, then  Mictian never would have been able to do that to her. To us.”

Wynonna scooted closer and gently encouraged her sister into a hug.

Waverly breathed in leather and lily scented shampoo. 

“It wasn’t your fault. You are so strong and I’m so proud of you for putting up such a badass fight.”

“What if she blames me?” Waverly asked, voice so small and soft it shattered the heir’s heart.

“She won’t.”

“But what if she does?”

“I love you, babygirl. Nicole does too. Give her a chance to help you. It will be hard at first, but she can handle it. She’s tough. Not as tough as an Earp, but close.”

Waverly gave a watery laugh and pulled back, swiping at the moisture in her eyes. 

Giving her baby sister a squeeze, Wynonna slowly extricated herself from Waverly’s arms and stood. “I gotta get to work. These BBD dingbats are lost without me. But call or text me any time. You know I’m always here.”

Waverly smiled. “I will. Say ‘hi’ to everyone for me.” 

“Come back whenever you’re ready.”

The sisters hugged tightly at the door before Waverly let her go, feeling warm and settled for the first time in ages. Having purged the guilt and fear that had clung to her heart left Waverly feeling just the tiniest bit hopeful. She sat with the feeling, breathing deeply and enjoying it, while still not quite trusting it to last. 

Waverly knew she would have to tell Nicole the whole truth, sooner rather than later. And things would get heavy again. But, for now, Waverly just wanted to hold on to that shred of optimism.

She climbed the steps with a smile on her face and turned into Nicole’s small office space/library. Her girlfriend was focusing hard at the screen in front of her, shoulders hunched with a crease between her eyebrows. 

Waverly snuck up quietly behind her and slid her hands around the woman’s tense shoulders, across her chest, until they folded on top of one another, having wrapped Nicole in a hug. She rested her head on a pillow of red hair and Nicole sighed, leaning back into the affection. “You seem a little better.”

“How did you know I needed my sister?”

“I didn’t,” Nicole admitted. “But I could tell you were so sad and stressed…I hoped it would help, since…since I didn’t seem to be.”

“Hey,” Waverly gently scolded. She rotated Nicole’s rolling chair so that her girlfriend’s back was to the desk and then sat down on the woman’s lap. She stroked Nicole’s cheek. “You have helped so much. You’ve taken such good care of me. I’m sorry I’ve been so distant.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Waverly hesitated. “I…I do, but not right now. Right now, I just want to enjoy this time together.” She looked up into Nicole’s kind eyes before letting her gaze drift down to soft lips. Waverly swallowed hard, leaned forward, and pressed a chaste kiss against them. When she pulled back, Waverly smiled broadly at her own victory and Nicole smiled in return. 

“Okay, so what should we do then?”

“How about I kick your ass at some Wii?”

Nicole’s jaw dropped in mock offense. “Oh, it’s on!”

-

That evening, as Waverly and Nicole enjoyed italian takeout on the couch while watching Coyote Ugly, Waverly basked in the simple joy of a day with her two absolute favorite people. For someone who presented herself as surly and jaded, Wynonna was a surprisingly good shoulder to cry on. Between her talk with her sister and Nicole’s infectious happiness, Waverly found herself nearly forgetting about Mictian all together as she soaked it in. While they hadn’t touched very much, Waverly had even dropped a few flirtatious comments here and there. 

Things are getting better. Maybe…maybe I don’t have to tell Nicole at all. Maybe I just needed to let go of the fear a little. This is Nicole! Safe, kind, wonderful Nicole. The woman who was there for me when Shorty died, even before we were dating. The woman who helped me through all my complicated feelings about Willa. The woman who asked for my consent at multiple points the first time we slept together. She is everything I’ve ever wanted in a partner and I love her. Why mess with a good thing?  

The credits rolled around 11:30 pm and Nicole began to yawn.

“Ready for bed?” Waverly checked in.

“Sure, if you are.”

As they got up from the couch, Calamity Jane appeared out of nowhere, jumping up into the warm spot where Nicole’s butt had just been.

They put away their leftovers and got ready for bed, turning out the light. 

This time, when Nicole pulled Waverly into a cuddle, Waverly breathed more easily. Safe, kind, wonderful Nicole. Safe, kind, wonderful Nicole. Safe, kind, wonderful Nicole. Waverly repeated the words in her head, allowing her muscles to relax.

And then Nicole kissed her cheek.

Waverly felt the softness of her lips and closed her eyes. She wet her own lips, repeating the mantra in her head, safe, kind, wonderful Nicole, and turned to face her. Heart pounding against her ribs, she leaned forward and placed a kiss on her girlfriend’s lips. 

Nicole hummed in surprise before deepening the kiss. 

Waverly stiffened.

Nicole frowned and pulled back. “You okay?”

“Yes,” Waverly answered, despite her clenching stomach muscles.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Nicole leaned in to kiss her again and Waverly did her best to loosen up. She placed a hand on Nicole’s cheek and laced it behind her head, into loose red tresses. When Nicole’s tongue slipped past her lips, Waverly didn’t resist it. See, this feels good. You like this. You love her. Safe, kind, wonderful Nicole.

Moving the blankets which had tangled around their legs out of the way, Nicole carefully climbed on top of Waverly, supporting herself with her forearms. 

Waverly felt trapped. 

Her body tensed and her hands became fists. Nicole’s bedroom morphed into her own and suddenly she was right back there, pinned down, vulnerable, and scared. She smelled dust and sweat, tasted her own blood and the salt of her tears.

Feeling the shift, Nicole pulled back again and looked down at Waverly. At Waverly whose color was slowly draining from her face. At Waverly’s tight jaw and tense shoulders. But mostly, at the wild terror in Waverly’s eyes. 

Nicole’s confusion melted into horrified recognition. She shook her head, just once, as if actively rejecting whatever thought had just entered her mind. Then she did so fiercely, thrashing her head back and forth, trying to shake from her brain some unwelcome knowledge. “No…” 

Backing up towards the foot of the bed, Nicole clamored over the layers of blankets, fleeing from Waverly. She fell off the end of the bed and scurried across the room until her back hit the wall. “No, no, no…”

Waverly sat up in bed, jolted from her vivid flashback. She took in the clear state of panic written across the redhead’s face. “Baby, what happened? Are…are you okay?”

“Oh, god. Oh, god what did I do?” Nicole’s breathing came in erratic bursts and tears poured freely from her eyes. “What did I do?!”

She remembers. 

“It’s okay, Nicole,” Waverly reassured, climbing off the bed to go to her.

But Nicole just shook her head even more violently. She clutched her stomach and gagged. Stumbling onto shaky legs, Nicole ran from the room.

Waverly heard the bathroom door shut, then heaving, followed by a flush. She covered her mouth with worry.

It was twenty minutes before Nicole emerged from the bathroom. Twenty agonizing, anxiety inducing minutes. Minutes Waverly had spent pacing, wringing her hands, and going through every possible way that this was her own fault.

Nicole stepped back into the room, eyes rimmed red and cheeks puffy. She sank down to her knees the second she made it through the threshold.

Waverly ran to her, dropping to her knees as well, a mirror image of grief and guilt. She tried to pull Nicole into a hug, but she was met with resistance.

“Don’t comfort me. I don’t deserve it. God, Waverly. How could I? How did I let that happen? Why…why didn’t you tell me?”

Tears sprang from Waverly’s eyes as she watched shame carve itself deep into her girlfriend’s features. “I tried, I just…I couldn’t. I knew…I knew it would hurt you so much to remember.”

“I…I held you down. I hit you. I bit you. I…I…I can’t even say-”

“You don’t have to,” Waverly told her vehemently, lifting the woman’s chin so that their eyes met. 

“I raped you, Waverly.”

Nicole looked like she was going to be sick again.

“No, you didn’t, Nicole. Mictian did,” Waverly reminded her firmly, holding her chin in place when Nicole tried to look away. “You fought. You fought so hard. You did everything you could to stop it. It’s not your fault.”

“But…you’re afraid of me. The look in your eyes…it was the same as when…You thought I was going to hurt you again.”

Waverly shook her head adamantly. “No, not for a second. I know you wouldn’t hurt me, Nicole. My head knows it. My heart knows it. I…I don’t know why my body hasn’t gotten the message. I trust you, Nicole. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”

“I remember it all,” Nicole choked out through her sobs. “I remember the feel of you trembling under my hands. I remember the taste of your blood in my mouth when I bit your lip.”

“Not you, it,” Waverly corrected.

“I remember the sounds you made. I remember you begging me to stop. I remember how tight you felt around my fingers…like you were trying with every muscle to keep me out.”

“NOT YOU, IT,” Waverly reiterated sternly, her eyes so full of tears that Nicole’s face swam and blurred in front of her. 

“I remember Mictian’s laugh in my head. I remember how much pleasure it took in your suffering and in mine. I remember begging it to kill me and leave you alone. It only laughed harder.”

“Nicole…baby…a demon did this. To both of us. Your body was taken against your will too. You were forced into sex, just as much as I was. It wasn’t your fault. I will tell you that every day until you believe it. I let that demon get out of me and into you. I could have stopped it, but I was too weak. If anyone is to blame, it’s me.”

Nicole took Waverly by the shoulders. “You didn’t do this. It’s not your fault. Not one bit of this is on you.”

Waverly collapsed into Nicole’s arms and felt them wrap tightly around her body. The tears continued and she made no attempts to stop them. Now that the truth, in all its ugliness, was revealed, Waverly felt desperate to unburden herself to the person whose comfort she craved most of all. 

“I was so scared, Nicole. It was horrible…every touch. It made my skin crawl and my stomach hurt. And knowing that you were in there suffering too…and…and I keep reliving it. When I close my eyes. Any time I’m alone. I don’t think I can ever go back to the homestead again.”

Nicole cradled her like a child and rocked her, pressing her cheek to the top of Waverly’s head, muttering, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” wetly into soft brown hair.

And Waverly didn’t correct her. There seemed to be no convincing Nicole that she was a victim too. Instead, she shushed, and stroked Nicole’s arm, and damp cheeks, and mussed hair, while she listened to the chanted apology long into the night.

Chapter Text

Neither Waverly nor Nicole slept. They didn’t even bother to attempt it. Instead, they went back downstairs, sitting on either end of the couch, barely meeting one another’s eyes as Waverly reluctantly filled in any gaps in Nicole’s memory. 

“Last night, when I found you downstairs…had you been sleeping there? Every night?” Nicole asked.

Waverly gave a barely perceptible nod. 

“I feel horrible,” Nicole admitted, voice raw from hours of on-and-off crying. “I feel like I made everything worse for you because I didn’t know. I made you relive it over and over while I just carried on like everything was normal. What an idiot.”

“You’re not an idiot. I should have told you sooner. I was going to. Wynonna encouraged me.”

“Oh, god, Wynonna.” Nicole covered her face in both hands. “How has she not shot me yet after what I did?!”

“She knows it wasn’t you.”

The redhead huffed a bitter laugh. “For once, I’m grateful for her interruption. As bad as it was, it could have been much worse. I know Mictian’s plans and they were…god, I feel sick again.”

“Don’t think about it, Nicole. It’s over. I keep reminding myself of that fact. My body wants to act like it’s still happening but it’s not.  Mictian is dead and we are both still here. Together. We survived.”

Waverly’s reassurance was met with a heavy, sorrowful sigh.

“I know you haven’t had as much time to wrap your head around what happened as I have,” Waverly continued, “so take as much time as you need. But if we are going to get through this, we can’t get stuck here. It’s easy…to let the sadness take over, but if we do, that’s all we will ever be. Two people who can barely look at each other.”

At that, Nicole finally met Waverly’s eyes, though it clearly pained her to do so. “You’re right. So…what now?”

“Breakfast?” Waverly shrugged.

Nicole looked around the room, surprised by the amount of natural light that had flooded in unnoticed over the past hour or so. “When did morning happen?”

Waverly chuckled and shook her head. “I’ll make coffee. What do you want to eat?”

Placing a hand to her stomach, Nicole paled. “I don’t know if I could eat anything.”

“Maybe some toast?”

“Yeah, maybe. I can make it.”

Waverly stood quickly and headed toward the kitchen before Nicole. “No, I’ll do it. You just sit for a bit longer.”

Nicole, who had half risen, one hand steadying herself against the arm rest, lowered herself back onto the soft cushions. 

While prepping the coffee pot, Waverly grappled with the warring emotions inside herself. On one hand, she felt lighter than she had in days. Months even. Having purged all the secrets that festered inside her like black mold, Waverly finally felt like her lungs had room to expand inside her chest. Like there was space in her mind for things like hope. 

On the other, that relief only added to her guilt. The woman she loved was suffering. Sharing her burden with Nicole had hurt her. And Waverly felt responsible for that pain on multiple levels. 

So she tempered her own contentment as she popped two slices of bread into the toaster and set an assortment of spreads on the kitchen table. Waverly placed small plates and mugs in front of each chair and breathed in the intoxicating aroma of brewing coffee. Aside from the steady bubbling and hissing from the pot, the house was silent and for once, that sound felt more peaceful than oppressive. She felt another pang of guilt at the thought.

Shortly after the coffee had sputtered to completion, the toast presented itself with a soft pop, perfectly golden and hot. Waverly pinched each slice carefully and dropped them onto the plates, waving her hand in the air to cool the scalded skin on her thumb and forefinger. “Breakfast is ready.”

Nicole slunk from the couch to the kitchen, bringing with her a cloud of melancholy. It sucked the very air from the room. She thanked Waverly and politely picked at her meal.

Waverly’s heart ached. Nicole was broken. The kind of broken that no amount of reassurance on Waverly’s part was going to fix. “I was thinking…maybe we should get a therapist.”

Nicole tried to raise her eyes to meet Waverly’s, but they stopped half-mast and then sank back down to her barely touched toast. “How would that work? We couldn’t tell them the truth. Either I’d be arrested…which maybe I should be, or you’d be carted off to St. Jude’s. Or both.”

“I know we can’t give all the details…but maybe the gist?”

“The gist of me raping you?” Nicole’s tone wasn’t sharp, but the cynicism cut through anyway.

Waverly sighed heavily. “You’re right. I don’t know what version of events we could propose that would even come close to what actually happened. I just don’t know what else to do.”

Nicole pushed her plate away wordlessly and sank back in her chair.

Seeing the despair on her girlfriend’s features made acid burn in Waverly’s chest and she set down her half-empty coffee. “How about we just chill for the day instead of trying to solve it. We can take a nap? Pick up where we left off with the Golden Girls? Try again to teach Jane to sit on command?” She presented the options in a tone that was soft, without being overly chipper. 

It had taken her years, but Waverly had finally begun to get comfortable sitting in uncomfortable feelings rather than trying to force them away with superficial smiles and feigned cheer. The suggestion that they move on with their day was not meant to stop Nicole from feeling sad, rather keep them moving forward, one moment at a time, allowing the feelings to tag along.

Shaking her head, Nicole abruptly rose from the table and walked out into the living room. “No, I want to go to work.”

Waverly followed after her. “Um…I’m not so sure…do you think that’s a good idea?”

“I’ve got to get out of my head. I can’t just sit here with you acting like…like I didn’t do what I did.”

“Nicole.”

“You’re being so sweet to me and…and it feels awful. You should be screaming at me. Crying. Breaking up with me. Anything but trying to make me feel better about what happened. About my failure.”

“Nic-”

Nicole’s head rose, eyes red and face sallow. Now that she’d started venting, the words poured out of her like tears and she let herself run dry. “I did, Waverly. I failed. I’m supposed to keep you safe. That’s my job! My most important job. As a girlfriend. As a cop. Not only did I not keep you from getting hurt, I am the one who did it! And I know you think I’m not to blame, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t stop Mictian.”

Waverly just listened, not wanting to interrupt, though she heartily disagreed with every one of her girlfriend’s statements. 

“I want to believe that we will get through this, that one day things will be like they were before, but how? How can I ever look into your eyes without imagining them full of fear and pain? How can I ever touch you again without remembering the way your body reacted that night when I-”

“Enough, Nicole,” Waverly finally silenced her, firmly, but with the utmost compassion, taking Nicole’s hand. “I can’t listen to you talk like this anymore. I don’t know how to convince you you aren’t at fault for this, but I know that time will help if we let it. It’s only been a week and having talked about it with you and Wynonna has helped me tremendously. It’s still hard, but it’s…less. And I know that for you it’s all brand new, but you will get there too. As long as we keep talking and listening and being gentle with ourselves. And the intimate stuff…that might take longer. But we will get there. Touch…has always been our love language. We won’t let  Mictian take that from us. It will be slow, but we will be comfortable with each other again. Because I trust you, Nicole. And l love you.”

Nicole looked down at their joined hands somberly and Waverly wasn’t sure whether her girlfriend had even heard her. 

With her free hand, Nicole inched Waverly’s long sleeve from around her wrist, moving it up her forearm. 

Waverly swore she could hear her girlfriend's heart shatter as she traced the pink, nearly healed ring etched into delicate, pale skin. She fought the urge to pull the sleeve back down, hating the choked sound that the fading injury had pulled from Nicole’s chest.

Then, as Nicole lifted Waverly’s wrist to her lips and kissed it, so tenderly she almost couldn’t feel it, Waverly closed her eyes, soaking in the small, intimate gesture. 

“Did the, um…the bite marks heal?” Nicole struggled to ask as she ran her thumb over the spot where her lips had just been.

Waverly answered softly, eyes fluttering open. “Yes, love. They’re gone.”

With a nod, Nicole slowly retreated back into herself. She released Waverly’s hand and stepped away, arms crossing over her chest. “I still want to go to work.”

“Then I’m coming too.”

-

Once again, Waverly found herself beside Nicole in an idling police cruiser parked outside the station.

Nicole stared at the glass door marked ‘Purgatory Sheriff’s Department’ just in front of the vehicle, not making a single move towards it. “It’s not just Wynonna who knows. Jeremy. Doc. Dolls. Everyone. They all know what I did.”

“They do know what happened…to us ,” Waverly emphasized. “Nobody blames you, Nicole. They saw the demon come out of your body. We watched Wynonna shoot it. You weren’t conscious for that part. Maybe if you had seen the thing with your own eyes you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”

“I’ve just been showing up here all week, acting like everything’s normal. I feel…I feel really embarrassed,” Nicole admitted, again ignoring Waverly’s attempts to comfort her.

“I understand,” Waverly said, staring at Nicole’s profile, willing her to look in her direction. “It was wrong of me not to tell you. I made everything worse…for both of us. Made our friends all lie by omission. I’m really sorry.” 

Nicole finally pried her eyes, full of apprehension, away from the door and turned to Waverly. “I can do this, right? I can walk in there.”

We can. We will walk in there, together.”

With a deep breath, Nicole finally turned off the car and stepped out, Waverly at her side in seconds.

As the pair entered the police station, hand in hand, the room that was uncharacteristically bustling, fell silent. Nedley, Agent Dolls, and Wynonna had clearly been in a heated argument just outside the doorway of the sheriff’s office. Despite the pause in conversation, their body language remained tense. Nedley’s face was redder than usual, Wynonna’s hands rested indignantly on her hips, and Dolls stood tall with his arms crossed against his chest. 

Doc and Jeremy had been halfway across the hall, headed toward the BBD office, but at the appearance of the two newcomers, they simply stopped in their tracks.

Even the phones had ceased to ring and the crackle of the dispatch radio had gone mute. 

Waverly could hear her own heartbeat in her chest and scowled at the lot of them. “Well that’s not awkward at all.”

Wynonna started walking in their direction, smacking Dolls on the shoulder along the way. The sober looking man followed behind her.

“Hey, Waves. Haught. How are…I mean. What’s up?” Wynonna cringed at herself.

The phone rang again and Nedley scurried off to answer it. The sound seemed to break Jeremy and Doc from their stupor as well and they disappeared behind the door to BBD.

“Hey. Just wanted to get out of the house for a bit. Maybe pitch in with a case?” Waverly offered. 

Wynonna took a good hard look at Nicole and her expression shifted from awkwardly friendly to tender. She glanced back at Waverly whose own eyes screamed, Yes. She knows. Please give us something to do.

“Uh, yeah. Totes. We could use your help researching the new bad bitch in black. You know the one. Smells like Shaladelle. Wears head to toe lace with a dump truck the size of-”

“Got it,” Waverly cut her off. “Lead the way.” She turned to Nicole. “Do you want to come with?”

“Actually, I’m going to see if Nedley needs me.”

Giving her girlfriend’s hand one last squeeze, Waverly followed Wynonna to their office. Inside, Doc, Dolls, and Jeremy were all either hard at work or doing a great job faking it.

“So, you told her?” Wynonna asked in a low voice. 

Jeremy’s eyes shifted in their direction briefly before falling back to the glow of his laptop.

“No, actually. She just remembered on her own,” Waverly answered at a normal volume, assuming everyone was listening anyway. “It’s been a rough night, but she wanted to come to work anyway. Take her mind off of it.”

“Keeping busy. Always a solid plan,” Wynonna commented. “You hanging in there?”

“Yeah, I’m okay. I’m just glad I finally had the energy to do some laundry. It feels good to be in my own clothes again.” 

Wynonna smiled affectionately. “You did look hella cute in Red’s clothes. Like when you were a little kid and used to raid my closet. I’d come home from school to find you drowning in one of my Pixie’s band t-shirts. You’d have to tie it at the side with a scrunchie to keep it from looking like a dress.”

Waverly placed her hands on her hips in mock offense. “Ugh…pretty sure it was a Hanson t-shirt.”

Dolls snort-laughed from across the room.

“I think your brain is so full of latin, and science, and other smarty-pants stuff that your memories got scrambled,” Wynonna dismissed with an eye roll.

“That’s not how the brain works, Wynonna.”

“Whatever, let’s just focus on the case.”

With a satisfied grin, Waverly let it drop. “Okay. Tell me more about this dump truck.”

-

Two hours later, Waverly yawned while taking a closer examination of the plate which had been discovered inside the briefcase Wynonna and herself had procured. Jeremy stood over her shoulder, looking at her looking at the plate.

“I can feel you thinking, Jeremy,” Waverly scolded.

“Sorry, sorry,” he apologized, backing up. “It’s just…I haven’t seen you since. You know. And I worry. Any, uh…residual effects? From the possession?”

Waverly put down her magnifying glass and turned to him. “Nope. Just me in here.”

“Good. That’s good. And Nicole?”

“She’s doing the best she can under the circumstances.”

“Of course.”

Waverly eyed her co-worker suspiciously. Jeremy was always a bit awkward, but he seemed extra squirmy at present.

Jeremy cleared his throat and looked over at the table where Wynonna sat napping, feet propped up on a nearby chair, cuddling Peacemaker like it was a teddy bear. “And, uh…Wynonna?”

“What do you mean? Wynonna wasn’t possessed.”

“Right, no, I know…I just mean. How is she? Have you noticed anything…weird?” His voice was low despite the heir’s obvious unconsciousness.

Waverly squinted at her sister, as if it would help her see more clearly whatever Jeremy was implying. “No, I haven’t noticed anything. But, I’ve been a little preoccupied. Why? What’s up?”

“It’s just…she’s been extra snippy lately. And tired. Dolls has asked her to lunch twice and she keeps saying she’s not hungry. That her stomach’s been bothering her. I know stuff with this new demon and the seal is unnerving…I just…I was hoping if you tried, maybe she’d talk to you. I don’t know if it’s just stress or…well I have another theory, but…”

“But what? What’s your theory?”

“I just think you should talk to her.”

Waverly nodded. “Okay. I was about to take a break to check on Nicole anyway. Thanks for looking out for her, Jeremy. I know she was hard on you in the beginning.”

“I’m just happy to be part of the team.”

“We are glad you’re here,” Waverly responded sincerely. She watched the man blush and smile. 

Waverly walked over to her sister and gave one of her boots a gentle shake. 

Wynonna startled awake. “What? I wasn’t sleeping. What?”

With a chuckle, Waverly helped her sister stand. “I was about to head to the break room. Come with me?”

“Sure.”

In the break room, Waverly closed the door and began brewing a pot of coffee for herself and her sister while Wynonna flopped down on the couch. She regarded the older woman curiously. Now that she was thinking about it, Wynonna’s eyes did seem to have a distracted look about them. Like she was both deep in thought and trying not to think all at the same time. 

“So, what’s new?” Waverly prodded. She grabbed two mugs from the cabinet and set them on the counter. “We haven’t talked much this past week. About you, at least.”

“Well, you’ve got a lot going on,” Wynonna explained, “How are you guys, by the way? Now that she knows the whole deal?”

“Not great. I wish we could talk to someone…a therapist. But how could we when the details are so-”

“Earped?”

Waverly glared. “Supernatural.” Pouring the freshly brewed coffee into each cup, she added a packet of raw sugar and a splash of almond milk to her own and a heaping spoonful of white sugar to her sister’s and gave them each a stir, the metal spoon tapping against the ceramic. 

“There’s gotta be at least one doctor in this hellmouth of a town that can handle the whole truth,” Wynonna scorned. “I mean, it can’t be the first time demonic forces have messed with someone’s head, you know?”

Waverly stared knowingly at her sister. “Speaking of heads, you were about to tell me what’s going on in yours. Nice deflection though.”

Rolling her eyes, Wynonna dodged the question. “Waves, you’ve got enough to worry about.”

“Yeah…but I can be here for you, too. Please?” Waverly leveled her with the same look she’d given Wynonna their entire lives, wide eyed and sincere, one she knew her sister couldn’t refuse.

Wynonna squirmed, picking at the fringe of her leather jacket. 

“I can tell something’s wrong,” Waverly gently pushed. 

Wynonna’s eyes had gone from distant to panicked, and she stood, pacing the small room. She rubbed her palms on the front of her jeans as if they were sweaty and blew out a loud breath before answering. “Okay, okay, so…something…something’s happened. I don’t know how…well, I mean, I do know how, but I don’t know how you know?” 

“I’m really trying to follow here, but I’m confused,” Waverly confessed, handing a mug to Wynonna and then placing that same hand, still warm, on her sister’s bicep to ground her. “Wynonna what happened? Just tell me.”

Wynonna looked as if it were physically painful for her to be still. Her muscles twitched under the gentle pressure of Waverly’s hand. She took a gulp of her coffee, wincing as it burned her mouth, and then set the cup aside. It sploshed over the edge as it landed hard on the countertop. “Fuck. I’m…I’m…I can’t say it, Waves. I did a thing and now…” 

“It’s okay. Take your time.” Waverly was trying not to look as concerned as she felt. Wynonna had never been quite this cagey before. Whatever it was, it had the Earp Heir beyond terrified and that was not an easy thing to do.

Wynonna stared down at her feet, taking a steadying breath, and placed a hand on her stomach. “I just can’t believe this happened. I’ve been so careful.”

Waverly stared at her sister’s hand, brows furrowed in confusion, reviewing Wynonna’s fractured sentences in her mind, piecing them together with what Jeremy had said. Tired, moody, upset stomach. She recalled the other day when Wynonna had come over for breakfast. She said her bras didn’t fit and Nicole had teased her, saying… 

Suddenly, with a gasp, Waverly understood. “You’re pregnant.”

Legs wobbling beneath her, Wynonna sank down to the floor. She crossed them under her like a pretzel.

Waverly set down her cup and then lowered herself to sit beside Wynonna. 

For a few minutes, no one said a word. A tear slid silently down Wynonna’s cheek and Waverly wiped it away.

“Stupid Haught being right is the worst part. If she gloats, I swear, I’ll-”

“You’re pregnant,” Waverly said again. “That’s…wow. Are you…how are you feeling?”

Damp, blue eyes met Waverly’s hazel ones with a mix of dread and annoyance.

“Okay…not great. Is it Docs, I assume? Or did you and Dolls-”

“No, Dolls and I…we haven’t…it’s not his.”

Waverly nodded. Quietly, she wrapped an arm around her sister and tugged until Wynonna’s head dropped onto her shoulder. “Do you know if you want to keep it? You have options, Wynonna.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m not sure. I’ve been trying not to think about it at all.” Wynonna leaned into Waverly’s comforting embrace while staring back down at the hand that remained above her belly button. “This poor asshole.”

“Hey…I’m here for you. Whatever you decide. You’re not alone.”

“Please don’t tell anyone.”

“Of course not,” Waverly promised. “But…maybe you should tell Doc.”

“I will. Eventually.” Wynonna sat up and wiped a few more stray tears from her eyes aggressively, as if she were punishing them for falling. “Hey…I’m sorry for putting this on you. On top of everything else.”

“I’m glad you told me.”

“I went and got a test last night after I took one look at my glass of whiskey and hurled. Then, I laid on the bathroom floor for hours…I just…couldn’t believe it. I took two more tests this morning and I still can’t.”

“We should get you to a doctor. Make sure everything’s okay in there. Then, you can make a decision with all the facts.”

Wynonna huffed a laugh. “There’s my babygirl.”

“Hey, more information is never a bad thing,” Waverly teased, nudging her sister’s arm. She unfolded her legs and stood, reaching out once again to help Wynonna to her feet. “Maybe we should switch this coffee for decaf.”

“Over my dead body,” Wynonna challenged, all traces of sentimentality replaced with her usual sass.

Waverly rolled her eyes. “Mkay, well take it easy at least.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Wynonna conceded with a groan. “You look like you could use an extra cup or two yourself. Your bags have bags.”

Rubbing at her sore eyes, Waverly shot her sister a look. “Thanks a lot. Didn’t really sleep last night. I should go check on Nicole. She’s probably dead on her feet, too.”

“Zombie cops…in Purgatory, I believe it,” Wynonna joked.

It was nice to see a smile back on Wynonna’s face, even if it looked a bit superficial. Waverly found herself smiling in return. “I love you, sis.”

“Yeah, yeah. I love you, too.” Wynonna wrapped her little sister in a tight hug. “You, coming by the homestead at some point?”

Waverly tensed and pulled back. “Yeah. Maybe tonight. I need to at least swing by for some clothes. Baby steps.”

“Please don’t say the “b” word.”

“Sorry,” Waverly winced.

“Let me know when you’re coming by. Maybe we can order dinner?”

“Sounds good.” With a final squeeze of her sister’s shoulder, Waverly opened the door and headed back out to find Nicole.

That task was far easier than Waverly expected it to be. 

As soon as she stepped outside the break room, she heard her girlfriend’s voice carrying across the entire station. 

Wynonna raised her eyebrows but said nothing as she walked back across the hall to BBD. 

Waverly followed the sound of Nicole’s irate shouting until it led her to Nedley’s office. She and the sheriff were on the other side of a closed door, but even with the thick barricade between them, Waverly could still make out every word of their heated conversation.

“This has to stop, sheriff! He can’t keep getting away with this kind of behavior!” Nicole lectured.

Nedley’s tone was firm but not hostile. “You saw the file, Nicole. I’ve had my eye on him for years. Nothin’ he does goes unnoticed.”

“I get the whole long game thing, but how many lives is he ruining while we build our case? Upskirts, voyeurism, breaking and entering! With all due respect, he’s escalating, sir! What’s it going to take for him to face consequences for his actions? Does he need to rape someone?! Is that it? Kill them?”

“Now, Officer Haught, that’s enough.” 

“He has to be punished, sheriff! What he’s done is unforgivable and he needs to be punished!”

Waverly wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but it was impossible not to hear. She debated whether or not to intervene. It was clear that the events of the past 24 hours were affecting Nicole’s judgment. Her girlfriend would never go off on Nedley like that, even if she strongly disagreed with him. That just wasn’t her way. Waverly reached out to knock, but paused when she heard her own name.

“Look, I know you and Waverly are going through some…wacky stuff…right now. So, I’m gonna let this little outburst go.”

“Wacky stuff?! You have no idea what we’ve-”

“You’re right. I don’t. Either way, you need to go home and cool your heels.”

Waverly backed up, anticipating an end to the confrontation. She sat on a chair and picked up a random file, pretending to leaf through it.

“I don’t need to go home. I need to be here, sir! I need to be doing…something!”

“It’s not a request, deputy. Go home. In fact, take tomorrow too. I’ll see you in a couple days.”

“Sheriff?!”

“Don’t make me say it again.”

The door slammed open and Nicole stomped out, red faced and wild eyed.

Waverly bit her bottom lip between her teeth and pretended not to notice.

“Waverly, what are you doing over here?” Nicole asked, her tone instantly softening.

“Oh, uh…I’m just…exhausted. I was kind of hoping you would take me home so I can get some rest,” she explained, knowing that presenting it as a way for Nicole to take care of her would go over better than the other way around.

Nicole looked back at her with understanding and released a breath. “Okay, baby. Let’s go.”

-

Back at Nicole’s house, Waverly greeted an affectionate Calamity Jane with a pat on the head before stripping off her coat and sinking down onto the couch with a sigh. The drive home had been tense and quiet, but now that they were back inside what had become a sort of fortress from the outside world, they both seemed to relax.  

“Are you hungry?” Nicole asked, kicking off her shoes.

“Not really.”

“Me neither.”

“Just tired.”

Nicole walked over and kissed Waverly’s forehead, a gesture that Waverly found she’d been craving desperately. She hummed under Nicole’s soft lips. 

When Nicole pulled back, she stroked a hand down Waverly’s hair. “Want to go lay down?”

“Will you come with me?”

“Only if you want me to. If you need space, I can stay on the couch.”

Waverly shook her head. “I want you near me.”

The two walked upstairs. Waverly stopped by the bathroom to pee while Nicole headed for the bedroom. 

When she joined her, Waverly found Nicole laying rod-straight on her back, covers up to her chin, worry wrinkle between her eyes. 

Waverly pulled off her jeans, trading them for a pair of Nicole’s mesh shorts, and climbed under the blankets. She turned to face the anxious redhead. “Hey. You okay?”

Nicole continued to stare up at the ceiling. “Yeah.”

“You thinking about your fight with Nedley?”

“No.”

“Do you want to talk?”

“No.”

“Okay…do you want to snuggle?”

Nicole finally turned to face Waverly. “I don’t know if I can.”

“We don’t have to, but…I’d like to try, if you’re up for it.” Waverly gave a small smile, trying to soothe Nicole’s fears.

“Okay.” Nicole scooted closer a few inches and Waverly met her in the middle.

Waverly reached out a hand and set it on Nicole’s waist, then lifted a bit to allow Nicole to slide an arm beneath her neck. She settled her head on Nicole’s shoulder and felt her girlfriend’s arm drape gently along her back. Taking a deep breath, Waverly felt pleased by the comfort the light embrace brought her. “You okay?”

“Yeah. Are you?”

“Yes. This feels good.” Waverly’s fingers trailed lightly over Nicole’s shirt and she heard her girlfriend’s breathing hitch. “This okay?”

“Yes, just…uh, stay on top of the shirt, okay?”

Waverly tilted her head upwards, trying to catch Nicole’s eyes. “Okay, baby.” She gently bumped her nose under Nicole’s chin.

It had the desired effect. Nicole looked down, locking eyes with Waverly. 

Nicole’s eyes were were a story of sadness and uncertainty, of hurt and longing. Waverly’s heart ached as she read them, desperate to change the narrative. “Is it okay if I kiss you?” she asked quietly.

Nicole visibly swallowed. “I don’t know, Wave…I want to. It just…it makes me think of before, and I don’t want either of us to have to relive that right now.”

“I understand,” Waverly reassured her. “It’s just…your touch has meant something good far more times than it’s meant something bad. I want our bodies to remember that. But I get it if it’s too soon.”

Licking her lips, Nicole breathed deeply. “Okay. If you want to stop, just stop. Don’t push through it if you’re uncomfortable.”

“Same to you,” Waverly reminded her. 

In unison, Nicole lowered her lips and Waverly raised hers until they met, lightly, just grazing across one another, sending a shiver through Waverly’s body. It felt so good, she breathed out the quietest of moans and continued to brush their lips, feather soft, back and forth, never increasing the pressure.

Nicole’s hot breath tickled along tan skin as she dragged her lips down over Waverly’s chin and along her jaw. Waverly returned the motion, stroking along Nicole’s cheek, dipping into her dimple, until her lips found their way to Nicole’s ear, with such a delicate touch, it was like nuzzling a satin scarf.

Waverly bathed in the comfort of this gentle affection. It washed over her every limb, warm and soothing. Her brain felt drunk on it and Waverly had to pull her mind out of the daze to take inventory of her feelings. 

There was no discomfort, no fear, no tension. She didn’t feel restrained or powerless. Just loved.

Waverly stroked her lips along the shell of Nicole’s ear and then down the length of her neck. When she reached the edge of Nicole’s shirt, she placed a small kiss to the skin she found there. Nicole took in a sharp breath.

“You alright?” Waverly checked in.

“Yes,” Nicole breathed. 

So, Waverly continued placing tiny kisses, one after the other, in a line up Nicole’s neck, until she found lips again. There, finally, she pressed firmly, letting the kiss linger, steady, sure, and grounding. Connecting.

Without realizing it, Waverly’s hand had made its way off of Nicole’s waist and was now tangled in the back of her hair. She scraped her blunt nails gently on her girlfriend’s skull and felt the vibration of Nicole’s hum against her lips. 

Nicole’s free hand wrapped around Waverly’s back, pulling her closer, but careful not to hold too tight. Tentatively, she flicked her tongue along Waverly’s top lip, asking without asking, how much was too much.

But Waverly was lost in the feeling of safety and warmth that had seeped through her skin and into her every nerve. This was good. This was right. Waverly wanted more. She opened her mouth and let Nicole in without hesitation. 

Their kiss was tender, lips sliding languidly, lovingly. Tongues teasing against one another, never pushing too deep. This kiss said, “I would never hurt you.” It said, “I’ll take care of you.”

When their lips parted, Waverly and Nicole pressed their foreheads together and breathed each other in. 

Vanilla.

This time, the scent only reminded Waverly of home.

Chapter Text

Hours later, when Waverly awoke, the room had darkened substantially and she found herself disoriented, barely remembering what day it was, let alone what time. Waverly’s head was still nestled into the crook of Nicole’s arm, limbs wrapped around the taller woman’s body like ribbons on a maypole. 

It felt natural, instinctive, laying together this way. It was a taste of their old life and a glimpse of what could be again. Waverly was afraid to rouse her girlfriend. Afraid the peaceful expression on Nicole’s face would be replaced by the deep lines of self-loathing and hopelessness which carved themselves into her features during her waking hours.

Remembering her tentative dinner plans with Wynonna, Waverly finally, carefully, untangled herself from Nicole and rolled to retrieve her phone from the bedside table. 

5:30pm. 

She sighed and texted her sister. 

Waverly- Hey. Fell asleep. Just getting up. Is 7 good for dinner?

Wynonna- Yep. Tacos?

Waverly- *drooling emoji* Want us to pick it up on the way?

Wynonna- No I got it. What do you guys want?

Waverly- I’ll get the black bean and corn tacos with avocado and vegan sour cream. Nicole likes the shrimp tacos with extra mango salsa on the side. Thanks, sis!

Wynonna- *thumbs up emoji* Leaving BBD in a few. See you soon.

Waverly cocked her head at the screen. It wasn’t like her sister to work such a long day when there wasn’t an impending apocalypse. Wynonna was more of the ‘work smarter, not harder’ type. She must be burying herself in her work to avoid thinking about the pregnancy. 

Wynonna. Pregnant. What a crazy thought. Waverly wished she could tell Nicole about it. After everything they’d gone through, it felt wrong keeping something from her. But, the promise she’d made to her sister was equally important. 

Setting the phone aside again, Waverly turned back toward her girlfriend who was still soft and sleep-warmed under the covers. She tucked a clump of red hair that had fallen across Nicole’s face back behind her ear. “Baby?”

Nicole sighed, but didn’t open her eyes.

“Time to get up.”

Slowly, Nicole blinked her eyes open and smiled. “Good mornin’.”

Waverly laughed. “It’s 5:30 pm.”

“Oh,” Nicole chuckled. “Then can I kiss you good evening, instead?”

Nodding, Waverly leaned in. But as she did, she watched the light leave Nicole’s eyes. As if she had suddenly remembered their new reality and every flicker of joy was snuffed out by the vacuum it created. 

“Hey, baby, it’s okay,” Waverly soothed.

Nicole squeezed her eyes closed and took a deep breath. She reached blindly for Waverly’s hand and Waverly quickly took it. “I’m sorry. I forgot and then…and then I didn’t.”

“I know. I still have that blissful thirty seconds most mornings after I wake up, too.”

When Nicole’s eyes opened, they were misty again. “I don’t know how you did it. You dealt with these feelings all alone for a week. I can barely keep my emotions in check for twenty-four hours.”

“I wasn’t alone,” Waverly insisted. “I had you. You stayed by my side when I was too afraid to be left with my thoughts. You respected my boundaries without even knowing why I had set them. When you saw me struggling, you reached out to my sister. You took the best care of me.”

Sniffling, Nicole closed the gap between them and placed a kiss on Waverly's forehead. When she pulled back, the smallest of smiles graced her lips. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

Propping up on her elbow, Nicole softly stroked Waverly’s arm. “I guess we should get up, huh? What do you want to do for dinner?”

“Um…is it okay if we swing by the homestead tonight?” Waverly asked.

Nicole looked at her curiously and Waverly quickly elaborated. “I was thinking we could have dinner with Wynonna. She’s ordering tacos. Maybe pick up some clothes while we’re there?”

“Okay. You sure you’re ready?”

Waverly shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. Are you?”

“I don’t know either.”

Waverly had felt bolder when she’d made plans with Wynonna earlier in the day, but now that the time had come, it seemed like an intimidating prospect. What if going home meant the memories flooded her even more vividly than they had given some distance from the source? What if stepping inside her room just served as a reminder that things would never be okay again? That the damage was too devastating to repair?

Chewing nervously on her lip, Waverly tried to steady her rapidly beating heart. She laid silent under Nicole’s gentle gaze for a full two minutes before quietly voicing her fears. “What if I get there and can’t go in?”

“Then I’ll go for you.”

“I’m…I’m afraid, Nicole,” Waverly admitted, lowering the wall she had unknowingly built since Nicole had learned the truth. It had been so easy to slip back into the role of the caretaker. To set aside her own feelings on behalf of someone else’s. Even if that someone never asked her to. But Waverly was terrified and wanted desperately to confide in her person. 

So, she silenced the part of herself that told her to feel guilty for seeking reassurance from someone who was struggling, herself, and looked to her girlfriend with wide, vulnerable eyes.

“I’m afraid too,” Nicole confided. “And there’s no rush. If we get there and you don’t want to go upstairs, then we don’t. Either way, you’re still the bravest person I know.”

Waverly smiled, all the way to the crinkles in the corners of her eyes. “I feel bravest when I’m with you.”

“Then you have nothing to fear. Because I’ll be by your side the whole time,” Nicole said, with unwavering certainty.

Nicole’s confidence wrapped like kevlar over Waverly’s skin and she felt her nerves settle. Together, the pair got out of bed and readied themselves for whatever the night would bring.

-

Waverly stood at the bottom of the whitewashed wooden staircase that led to her bedroom. Her heart pounded and mouth grew drier with each breath as she stared up to the top. The stairwell felt longer, somehow. Like there were twice as many steps as there had been before. 

Before Mictian robbed her of her sanctuary. 

She felt a hand slide into her own, weaving their fingers together, and Waverly turned to find Nicole beside her, shoulders set and chin high, grounding Waverly like an anchor while the rest of the world grew dark with the pending storm. Waverly’s chest swelled at the realization that Mictian may have stolen her physical refuge, but Nicole was truly her sanctuary, and she had not lost that. 

Nicole nodded once, encouraging Waverly onward.

Waverly took the first step. Then the second, Nicole as close to her side as she could be on the narrow stairwell. With each step upwards, the sounds of Wynonna in the kitchen banging cabinets and setting plates on the table faded. The smell of take-out food wafted away. She felt as if she were walking toward Mictian itself as her body rose higher. 

Waverly squeezed Nicole’s hand tighter, terrified that at any moment she’d be wrenched away and replaced with the imposter. The wolf in sheep's clothing. 

At the top, Waverly stopped and Nicole rubbed her back, rewarding her for having gotten this far. 

The bedroom door was closed, which somehow made it even more threatening. If she opened the door, would the evil spill out? Would darkness pool around their feet and creep up their legs and swallow them, inch by inch, until they were nothing but husks of themselves? Gone forever this time?

Waverly reached for the doorknob, drawing strength from Nicole’s solid presence beside her and firm grip on her hand. 

She turned the knob, gave a small push, and stepped inside.

It was dark, starkly so given the bright light of the hallway. Every corner was completely obscured by shadow. Every black silhouette inside seemed to move. Waverly’s first thought was that she’d been right. The demon was still hiding inside. Evil had consumed the whole room.  

Waverly shook her head and took a step back. I can’t do this. I can’t go in there.

But, Nicole moved forward, stretching their arms as far as they would go without releasing one another’s hands, and patted at the wall for the light switch. After a couple of tries, she found it, flipping the little lever upwards. 

Now illuminated, Waverly could see that it was not a vault locking away every sinister thing that kept her up at night. It was simply a space. Her space. The bed had been made. The rug was cleaned. And five bouquets of wildflowers sat in antique vases around the room.

Wynonna did this, Waverly realized, her frantic heart calming at the realization. 

Every inch of the bedroom whispered Waverly. Sheer curtains and soft throw pillows, butterflies on the walls and angel wings atop her bookshelf. 

Waverly and Nicole. 

A picture of the two of them sat on the nightstand. The condolences card that Nicole had given Waverly after Shorty died was wedged in between decades-old scrapbooks. Nicole’s purple sweater was draped over the ottoman. The dirt from Nicole’s boots left a faint print beside the bed.

It was warm and it smelled like clean laundry and a little bit like dust. Smells that triggered more than the one bad thing that had happened here. It triggered memories of snuggling under cool sheets with the rain falling against the windows. Of reading side by side until the sun had set and their eyes strained to see the pages. Of casually getting to know one another, telling stories from their past and sharing hopes for their future while folding piles of freshly washed clothes. The first time Nicole had touched her, all of her, was here, in this room.

It was not a harbor of evil, but a port in a storm. It was beautiful. 

Waverly turned to Nicole, anxious to see her reaction to being in the room where her body had been taken from her and used against her.

Nicole looked around at every inch of space. The walls, the floors, the closet, the surfaces, and then, finally, the bed. Her eyes lingered there and she moved towards it as if pulled. 

Given that they were still linked, Waverly moved with her. When their knees touched the side of the bed, Waverly reached out and stroked the soft comforter. Her fingertips brushed lightly along the material, back and forth, until they passed over something wet. A tiny damp spot. What was it?

Waverly reached up and touched her own cheek. When had she started crying? 

She looked over at Nicole and found tear streaks pouring from the corners of her eyes as well. 

Waverly fell into her girlfriend’s arms and sobbed. In sadness. In relief. Bad things had happened here, but they weren’t here anymore. Bad things had happened here, but beautiful things had too. Things borne of love. 

They cried until their legs gave out and they sat on the side of the bed, wrapped so tightly together that Waverly’s fingers pressed white into the center of Nicole’s back. She curled the stiff digits, gripping fistfull’s of the woman’s shirt. 

They cried tears of grief, and heartache, and absolution, and devotion. They cried for everything they had lost. They cried for everything they still had. 

Waverly and Nicole did not release one another until they heard a soft tap on the bedroom door. 

Wynonna leaned against it, eyes cast down, seeming unsure of whether it was appropriate to intrude. An quandary the heir didn’t usually trouble herself with.

But, Nicole stood, looking once to Waverly before moving out of her embrace, and then crossed the room in a few long strides. She took a surprised Wynonna’s hands in her own, emotion still pouring freely as she spoke. “I am so, so sorry. For everything. You trusted me to protect your sister and I couldn’t. I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her. I promise.”

Wynonna pulled Nicole into a tight hug. “It’s not your fault, Nicole. You know damn well if I held you responsible, you’d be in the ground by now. There was nothing you could have done. Nothing any of us could have done.” She leaned back, blue eyes swimming with her own tears, hands holding tightly to Nicole’s biceps. “What matters is you’re still here. You didn’t run. You keep showing up and you keep loving her even when shit gets hard. Harder than hard.”

“I don’t deserve forgiveness,” Nicole pleaded, voice like broken glass.

Wynonna shook her head. “Haught…there’s nothing to forgive.”

The two friends hugged again while Waverly watched, hands over her mouth, shedding tears of astonishment and joy. She walked briskly over to them and stretched her arms to wrap around them both.

After a moment, Wynonna wiggled out of their grasp. “Okay, okay…this hug is even soggier than our tacos will be if we don’t get downstairs and eat them.”

Waverly giggled. “That’s what she said.”

Wynonna and Nicole both groaned and rolled their eyes, but couldn’t help the smiles that crept onto their faces. 

With that, the trio followed their noses back to the kitchen.

-

Late that night, with a duffle bag of clothes slung over Nicole’s shoulder, she and Waverly said goodbye to Wynonna. Waverly held a vase of flowers in her arms and thanked her sister, for the third time in as many hours, for staging the bedroom so beautifully. 

Nicole walked to the car, leaving them alone on the porch. 

“How are you doing with the whole…situation?” Waverly asked, avoiding the word ‘baby.’ “Have you talked to Doc?”

Wynonna shook her head. “But I did call the other Doc. Got an appointment on Tuesday.”

“Good. Let me know what time and I’ll be there. I’m still going to sleep at Nicole’s for a bit, but I want to be here for you, too. You’re not alone.”

“Thanks, kid.” Wynonna smacked her lightly on the shoulder.  

Waverly smiled. “You’re the best of us, Wynonna.”

“Get out of here. Your girl is waiting,” Wynonna dismissed, squirming at the compliment but unable to hold back a grin. 

Waverly turned and followed the sound of the idling engine, but stopped short when she heard Wynonna call her name.

The heir stepped quickly down the porch and jogged over to her. “Oh, I forgot. Nedley wanted me to give you this. It’s the number for a shrink who is apparently on the short list of Purgatorians who aren’t clueless assholes.” She handed a scrap of paper with a name and phone number on it, written in what Waverly recognized as Nedley’s handwriting.

Waverly was stunned. “Like…we could tell the whole story? Even the demony bits?”

Wynonna shrugged. “So he says. I’d test the waters first if I were you. Maybe quiz her on the history of Purgatory or something? The real history. Trust me, being institutionalized is not the vacation people think it is.”

“Thanks, Wynonna.” 

“It’s the least I can do.”

The sisters regarded one another with warm eyes and full hearts, before turning and going their separate ways. 

Waverly climbed inside Nicole’s cruiser, precariously balancing the full vase on her lap while she buckled her seatbelt. 

“Everything okay?” Nicole checked in.

“Yeah,” Waverly answered. “Everything’s good.”

-

Waverly glared at the time on her phone before climbing into bed. It was after midnight. She was thankful Sheriff Nedley had instructed Nicole to stay home tomorrow. To say it had been an emotionally draining day would be putting it lightly. 

Pulling back the covers, Waverly slipped into the bed, clad in a tank top and linen shorts, savoring the feel of cool sheets on her exposed skin. Her body was exhausted. Her eyes ached to close and stay closed for no less than eight hours, but her brain still played one question on a loop, keeping her from resting. It was a question that had lingered in the back of her mind all week, but she had pushed it aside in favor of more pressing concerns. But now, with clear heads and open hearts, the question would not be ignored.

She fidgeted with the edge of the sheet while she watched Nicole join her in bed. They didn’t cuddle, but still turned to face one another. Their hands instinctively reached out, drawn together like magnets. Despite them both needing a bit more breathing room lately, they couldn’t not touch one another in some small way.

Waverly summoned her courage. “So, uh, Nicole. There’s something I’ve been thinking about. Something Mictian said…a couple of times. I’ve been trying to just put it out of my mind, but…it’s been bothering me. I know it’s been a long day and we can talk about it another time, I just..I wanted you to know there’s still something I’d like to talk about…when you’re ready.”

Nicole stifled a yawn and sat up a little straighter, propped up on her elbow. She released Waverly’s hand only to tuck a long strand of brown hair behind her ear. “We can talk now, baby. What’s bugging you?”

“It’s just…Mictian was a lot of things, evil, manipulative…but not much of a liar. Most of what it said had at least a grain of truth to it. And Mictian said…well…”

Nicole’s thumb stroked Waverly’s cheek. “Go on. It’s okay.”

Waverly drew strength from Nicole’s loving touch. “It said you were bored. With…with the way we have sex. That you wanted it rougher. Wanted to hurt me.”

Whatever Nicole expected Waverly to say, that wasn’t it. Her eyebrows shot up and her hand fell to the mattress between them. “Oh.”

“Is it true?” Waverly encouraged. “I won’t judge you if it is. I just need you to be honest with me.”

Nicole stared intently into Waverly’s anxious eyes. “I never, ever, ever, want to hurt you. I didn’t before and I certainly don’t now. And I was never, for one second, bored with you.”

Waverly exhaled a breath she’d been holding. “Why would Mictian say that? Just to mess with me, I guess?”

Glancing away briefly, Nicole seemed at war with herself. “Like you said…sometimes there’s a grain of truth.”

Waverly waited for her to continue.

“I love the way we make love. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted and more,” Nicole assured her. 

“But…”

“No buts,” Nicole insisted. “And I also like the idea of trying new things, occasionally. Maybe a bit rough, but only if you were comfortable with it. I would have brought it up at some point, but then Mictian...We had only been sleeping together for a little over a month and I thought it was too soon to open that door. I didn’t want to scare you away. And now…now I couldn’t imagine trying anything like that. I just want us to feel comfortable touching, at all.”

Waverly nodded in understanding. “I get it. Before…it happened…I actually liked the idea of being…” she blew out an uncomfortable breath, a deep blush crawling up her neck, hidden by the dark of the room. “Of being dominated, I guess? Ironically, I thought I wanted to be held down.”

“Experimentation between two consenting people who trust and love each other is completely different than what happened to you…to us,” Nicole quickly clarified. “You may have liked being restrained if you had known that you were safe. That you were still in control of what was happening to your body. What Mictian did was not rough sex. It was rape.”

The silence of the night settled between them, that word hanging in the air, and it was a few minutes before Waverly responded. “I truly believe we will feel okay being intimate again one day. Everything we did in bed together felt perfect and right. I miss being that close to you. We just need time. I think we were both pretty sexually adventurous people before and I know we will find that part of ourselves again if we can just take things slowly. Some things that feel scary right now, might not in a few weeks or months.”

“Can I hold you?” Nicole asked, and Waverly slid over to her side of the bed, nestling contentedly into the crook of her shoulder. “Honestly, the idea of touching you…of accidentally triggering those memories for either of us…it terrifies me. I’m in no hurry to try. But…I agree. One day, we will be ready.”

Now that the nagging worry in Waverly’s brain had been satisfied, exhaustion took hold. She yawned. “Good night, Nicole. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Goodnight, sweetie.”

Chapter Text

Three weeks passed by in a blur and Waverly and Nicole had settled into a new normal, which now included therapy every Thursday. The eccentric looking doctor they spent fifty minutes a week with was nearly as informed about the goings on in Purgatory as Waverly herself. While she wouldn’t disclose how or why she had such information, neither Nicole nor Waverly really cared as long as she could help them. 

Their second day, after Waverly had told her sister about the intelligent, open minded, but oddly well-informed doctor, Wynonna had accompanied them to the office despite Waverly’s insistence that it was unnecessary. The heir marched into the room and before the doctor had even had a chance to say ‘hello,’ Wynonna aimed Peacemaker point blank between her eyes. The woman didn’t even flinch. In fact, she looked rather amused. 

“Ms. Wynonna Earp, I presume,” the doctor acknowledged, tilting her head to look around the barrel of the gun at Wynonna. “Your reputation precedes you.”

When the magic gun didn’t glow, Wynonna lowered it to her side.

The doctor smiled, her blue eyes so clear they were almost translucent, yet they still seemed incredibly warm behind her comically large glasses. She had stark white hair that she wore pulled into a slightly frizzy bun, a handful of wild curls framing her face. The woman somehow looked both elderly and impossibly young. Her eyes held the kind of wisdom only time could grant you and her fashion choices read ‘grandma who likes to knit and play bridge on the weekends,’ yet she didn’t have a single age line on her face. 

Around her neck dangled a thin leather strap with a well worn silver pendant attached to it that nearly disappeared below the neckline of her floral dress. At first glance, the pendant almost looked like a cross, but with an upside down teardrop shaped loop replacing the vertical upper bar. Waverly recognized it as the ankh, the ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life. 

“If you are satisfied that I am not a demon, please excuse us to get on with our appointment.” The tiny woman gestured to the door with one hand and passed Wynonna a business card with the other. “In case you’d like to schedule something for yourself. You wouldn’t be the first Earp Heir I’ve counseled. Not even the second. I have openings Monday evenings and Friday mornings if you’re interested.” She winked at the dumbfounded heir.

Wynonna cleared her throat and pocketed the card. “Right. Uh…sorry. Can’t be too careful, ya know. Carry on.” 

Waverly watched her sister walk out the door and knew instantly that she liked this woman. It was clear that nothing they said would rattle her. They were free to speak unambiguously and without fear that one or both of them would end up in a padded cell. 

So, they sat, and they talked, and they cried. They repeated feelings of guilt and shame over and over until the words began to sound false in their own ears. They forgave themselves. And they began, painfully slowly, to heal.

Each night, the couple retreated to Nicole’s house, still preferring to sleep in the comfortable bubble they’d created there. Though Waverly visited her sister at the homestead frequently, often making dinner together, watching movies, or having fires on the front lawn that kept them talking long after midnight. 

After one such evening, Wynonna had finally given her blessing for Waverly to share the big news with Nicole. Whether the news was good or bad, still remained undetermined.

At work, Waverly spent most of her time with Jeremy, putting their heads together to determine the significance of the broken seal and how it pertained to the woman in black. They’d also spent countless hours trying to understand why an old plate in a briefcase was worth killing or dying for. 

Nicole had kept more than a little busy herself. She’d discreetly begun tracking the phone of a disturbed young man named Tucker Gardner, keeping an ever vigilant watch over his activities while also staying on top of her other responsibilities as one of the few sheriff’s deputies in town. Knowing that Nedley wanted her to be his successor as sheriff had lit a fire under Nicole, motivating her to work twice as hard to keep the streets of Purgatory clean and its people harmonious, or at least as much as was possible in a town with nearly as many demons as humans.

Life continued to push forward whether Waverly or Nicole were ready, so they did the only thing they could. They held on tight to the people who grounded them, their friends, family, and above all else, each other. 

So, when Waverly found herself with nothing to do at 2 o’clock pm on a Friday, she basked in the reprieve. She strolled into the sheriff’s station, hoping for a moment alone with her girlfriend, only to find Wynonna already there. The elder Earp prodded at Nicole for a case, any case, drawing a look of mild aggravation from the officer.

Waverly sighed at her sister, knowing that her desperation for work was only to take her mind off the pregnancy. “You can’t keep using work as an excuse to avoid Doc,” she gently scolded.

Wynonna rolled her eyes. “It’s not an excuse. We’ve genuinely been busy.”

“We aren’t right now,” Waverly reminded her. “I bet Doc is at the bar. You need to talk to him.”

“And you need to stop pushing. I’ll tell him when I’m ready,” Wynonna snapped.

Waverly hung her head. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s your decision…I just worry. I hate seeing you so stressed out.”

“I’m not stressed. I’m just bored because Red here won’t give me a goddamn case,” Wynonna said loudly, still looking at Waverly but clearly directing her comment toward Nicole.

Nicole glanced up from her computer screen. “I told you I don’t have anything, Earp. It’s quiet over here, too.”

Waverly smiled at Nicole, crossing her fingers that they’d all be in for an early weekend. 

Nicole looked back at her with tender, loving eyes and Waverly nearly melted into the floor.

“You two make the notebook look bleak,” Wynonna said with a gag. “You practice those googly eyes in the mirror, or just natural talent?”

“I’m off in ten minutes,” Nicole told Waverly, completely ignoring Wynonna. “Want to have a late lunch together?”

Just as Waverly was about to accept, a nun walked into the station. The front of her habit was soaked through with blood, as were both her hands. Waverly pushed down her irritation, while Wynonna practically vibrated with excitement. 

“My boss is dead,” the nun said to the room, eyes blank and voice emotionless. She looked to be in shock.

“God really is dead,” Wynonna snarked.

Waverly shot her a look before escorting the nun across the hall to BBD.

-

Ten minutes had become two hours before Waverly and Nicole managed to leave work. On the drive home, Waverly had filled Nicole in on everything she’d learned about the demon in black, the existence of a second seal, and the evacuation of the Black Badge Division from the Ghost River Triangle. 

As they walked through the front door of Nicole’s house, hanging their coats on the rack and kicking off their shoes, Nicole let out an exasperated sigh. “And to think we were bored this morning.” 

Waverly crouched down to greet Calamity Jane. “I can’t believe BBD is just…gone,” she said, jutting her chin upward to look at Nicole. Calamity Jane rubbed against the side of her leg. 

“Me neither,” Nicole agreed. “What is Jeremy going to do? I hope he doesn’t leave town.”

“We still need him here. BBD or not, there are still demons that need vanquishing and apocalypses that need averting.”

“What a wild life we lead,” Nicole commented, shaking her head.

Waverly stood and pulled her into a hug. “There’s no one I’d rather live it with.”

“Same,” Nicole agreed emphatically, kissing the top of Waverly’s head. “I’m gonna go change out of my uniform. Then, I guess we should start an early dinner? Since we both skipped lunch.”

“Sure. I might take a quick shower.”

“Okay. Kiss first?”

Waverly smiled and placed a soft kiss on her girlfriend’s lips. She grabbed a handful of red hair and tousled it playfully. “Go on, you.”

Nicole chuckled and headed up the stairs, Waverly right on her heels. 

-

Hair in a messy bun, Waverly emerged from the shower in a cloud of steam and stepped out onto the mat. She felt like an entirely new person, warm and relaxed. She grabbed a towel off the rack and wrapped it tightly around her chest before wandering out of the bathroom and down the hall. 

As she did, she heard music drifting up the stairwell and smiled. Nicole liked music when she cooked. Guess she started making dinner without me.  

Waverly glanced at the clock on the dresser as she entered Nicole’s bedroom. It was still pretty early for pajamas but Waverly couldn’t bring herself to put on uncomfortable clothes, or, god forbid, a bra. We aren’t going anywhere tonight. No reason why I can’t be comfy. She grabbed a baby blue satin sleep set from the drawer, consisting of a short-sleeved button down top and scandalously small shorts. Once she was towel dried and dressed, Waverly pulled the hair-tie out of her hair and let the brown locks cascade down her back. She ran a hand threw it, getting out the biggest tangles with her fingers, before calling it good enough and heading downstairs.

As Waverly made her way through the livingroom and toward the doorway that led to the kitchen, she paused, feet freezing in place as she took in the sight before her. Nicole was clad in black basketball shorts and a lavender racerback tank top. Her head bobbed, hips swayed, and shoulders bounced to the beat of "Avalanche" by Fletcher. In one hand, Nicole grasped a wooden spoon and she belted out the lyrics into it like a microphone, painfully offkey. 

“So you’re scared, you don’t think you’re ready yet

We’ll take it slow, I’ll walk with you on the edge

Paint the colors on top of the sunset

I can do this all for you

So give me one night, one minute

And i'll watch you fall like an avalanche 

Let your walls down, I swear you won’t regret it

Hold on tight, baby, if you can

We’ll be rolling fast, and crashing hard

Hear the mountains roar to the beat of our hearts

And we’ll be falling like an avalanche

And we’ll be falling like an avalanche”

Nicole sang and danced like no one was watching and the smile it drew from Waverly could have lit up the whole town. Waverly was certain that she’d never loved Nicole Haught more than she did in that very moment. 

But when Nicole started doing the running man, Waverly couldn’t stop the laughter that erupted from deep inside her chest. An unrestrained, joyful noise that Waverly hadn’t heard herself produce in what felt like a lifetime. 

Nicole whipped around quickly at the sound, slipping in her socked feet against the wood floor and nearly falling on her butt. She caught herself against the edge of the counter at the last minute, hand to her chest, jaw slack and cheeks red at having been caught.

Waverly hurried the remaining steps into the kitchen. “You are just the cutest thing.”

Nicole steadied herself on her feet and returned the makeshift microphone to the spoon rest on the stove. “I’m a terrible dancer! It’s not remotely cute.”

Waverly shook her head, taking Nicole’s flushed face in her hands. “Sweetheart, I could watch you dance every day, forever.”

She’d said the words without thinking and now that they were out, she looked down, cheeks burning darker than Nicole’s. 

A blinding, dimpled smile spread across Nicole’s face and she lifted Waverly’s chin. “I like the sound of that.”

Waverly blinked bashfully but couldn’t hold back a grin.

“Can I kiss you?” Nicole asked, voice low.

Waverly answered with an emphatic yes and pushed up on her tiptoes, steadying herself with her hands on Nicole’s waist.

Nicole pulled Waverly closer by the chin and when their lips met, damp and already parted, Waverly felt the sensation race downward, tingling every inch of her body. The kiss started out tender, but soon became brazen and deep, a fact Waverly registered as her legs turned to jello and she felt a throb between her legs that she thought was no longer possible. 

The hand under Waverly’s chin worked its way around the back of her head and threaded into her hair. Nicole’s free hand pressed gently against the small of Waverly’s back. 

Toes beginning to give out, Waverly sank down a few inches, nearly causing them to separate, but Nicole spread her feet apart, lowering herself to Waverly’s height and they continued smoothly as if nothing had changed. 

Except that something had changed. The silky fabric of Waverly’s sleep shirt had bunched and gathered under Nicole’s hand and the redhead’s cool fingertips were now grazing Waverly’s bare skin, still pink and warm from the shower. Waverly shivered at the contrast in temperature and the intimacy of the touch. It was such a small thing, Nicole’s hand resting just above the line of her shorts, but it’d been so long since they’d kissed like that, touched like that. 

Those lips sliding against her own, and that hand on her back, and their bodies pressed together, stoked a fire in the pit of Waverly’s stomach as if it were all brand new, and, at the same time, radiated the warmth of familiarity through her every nerve. She unconsciously squeezed her thighs together.

When they finally pulled apart, flushed and out of breath, they rested their foreheads against one another, savoring their connection just a moment longer. Nicole’s thumb rubbed gently against the dip in Waverly’s lower back as they steadied themselves.

It wasn’t until Calamity Jane hopped up on the counter and batted a baby carrot off the edge of the cutting board and onto the floor that they were finally forced to part. 

Nicole playfully lectured the cat, who left the room all puffed up, chattering in annoyance.

The couple laughed affectionately at the miffed animal before turning back to one another. 

“What are you making?” Waverly asked, regaining her composure.

“Stir fry. The rice is already done. Just working on the veggies.”

“Yummm,” Waverly practically purred. She watched as Nicole resumed chopping vegetables on the crowded counter space. 

Grabbing an onion and placing it on the cutting board beside the already prepared pile of mushrooms, ginger, and garlic, Nicole got to work slicing it into even chunks, blinking back the tears that the innocuous looking bulb had produced. “So, how’s Wynonna today, really?” 

“She’s okay. Less nauseous. She swears she’s going to talk to Doc tomorrow.”

Nicole set down her knife and turned around. She eyed the cabinet Waverly was standing in front of. “Excuse me.”

Waverly shifted to the right, in front of the refrigerator. The kitchen wasn’t very big and the rectangular ikea table in the center took up most of it. 

Pulling a wok from the cabinet, Nicole set it on the stove, added a splash of vegetable broth, and turned on the gas. She scraped the ingredients from her cutting board into the wok, then began on the broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. “Well, she has some time at least. She can’t be more than what? Six or seven weeks along?”

Waverly shrugged. “I’m not exactly sure. She doesn’t like to talk about it.” The smell of the garlic and onions cooking made Waverly’s mouth water. She took a deep breath through her nose and felt her stomach rumble. “I didn’t realize how hungry I was until just now.”

“These cook up quickly. It won’t be long,” Nicole assured her, adding the next batch of chopped veggies to the wok. She gave them all a stir, causing them to sizzle and spit. Nicole wiped her damp hands on a dish cloth that hung from the oven door and then headed for the refrigerator. “Excuse me, again,” she chuckled.

Waverly moved out of the way and Nicole gathered zucchini, a red bell pepper, and bok choy from the fridge. 

A sense of calm settled between them and Waverly stood comfortably in it, listening to the steady sound of the knife against the cutting board and the hiss of the softening veggies on the stove. Music still streamed softly from a speaker in the corner of the room. It was a song Waverly didn’t recognize.

“I love watching you cook almost as much as I love watching you work,” Waverly commented with a smirk.

“I enjoy cooking. It relaxes me.”

“Well good, because I enjoy eating your cooking,” Waverly teased.

Nicole laughed, mixing the final vegetables in with the others. “Now for the sauce.” She turned to the spice cabinet only to find the path blocked once more by her tiny, yet impressively obstructive girlfriend. 

Shaking her head, Nicole walked over to Waverly and wrapped her arms around her girlfriend’s waist. Placing a soft kiss against her cheek, she breathed in the brunette’s honey scented body wash. “You’re in the way again, my love,” Nicole teased against the shell of Waverly’s ear. “I’m going to move you, okay?”

Waverly nodded, eyes closing at the tickle of Nicole’s breath. When she felt her feet lift off the ground, Nicole’s arms tightening around her middle, she wrapped her own arms around Nicole’s shoulders and legs around her hips. A giggle escaped Waverly’s chest as Nicole carried her the few steps to the kitchen table and set her on the edge of it. She loved it when Nicole carried her. It made her feel small and safe.

“You stay right here,” Nicole instructed in a husky, flirtatious voice that made Waverly bite her bottom lip.

“Yes, ma’am,” Waverly responded, voice sticky sweet. She winked at the blushing woman still standing between her legs.

Nicole shook her head, hands sliding from behind Waverly’s back and over smooth thighs, before she made her way to the spice cabinet. “You’re gonna be the death of me, Waverly Earp.” 

Kicking her feet back and forth, Waverly did as she was told and stayed seated on the table. She fidgeted with the silky hem of her shorts and grinned, deliriously happy, at her girlfriend, who busied herself collecting arrowroot powder, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and pineapple juice. She mixed the ingredients in a bowl along with a bit more ginger and garlic. Then, tossed the sauce in with the cooked vegetables.

The scent was overwhelmingly amazing. 

“Am I allowed to help you set the table?” Waverly asked from her perch.

“I suppose so,” Nicole teased with a heavy sigh.

Waverly hopped down and gathered forks and napkins while Nicole layered the rice and vegetables into two bowls. 

“Wine? Waverly asked, pulling a bottle of chardonnay from the fridge.

“Mmm…yes, please.” Nicole grabbed two glasses and Waverly filled them both half way, setting the bottle in the center of the table.

They sat down at the table and dug into their dinner. Taking the first bite, Waverly groaned, eyes rolling back. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and full of flavor. The rice was light and fluffy. “God, how did I get so lucky?”

Nicole beamed. “I’m glad you like it. I’ve been researching more vegan recipes so we don’t get bored.”

“Ooooh, research? Talk dirty to me,” Waverly joked, waggling her eyebrows.

Nicole laughed so hard she nearly spit out her food. When she’d gathered herself again, she let out a contented sigh. “I love you, Waverly.”

“I love you, too. I missed this,” Waverly confessed. “Happiness.”

Nicole reached across the table to take her hand. “Me too.”

-

When the pair were comfortably full, they cleared the table, returning the remaining wine to the refrigerator, and then packaged up the leftovers.

The last notes of “1950” by King Princess faded out and “First Move” by Stacey began to play.

“Do you have one last dance in you?” Waverly asked Nicole, who had just finished washing her hands in the sink.

Nicole grimaced while reaching for the paper towels. “You want to keep both of your feet?”

Waverly held out a hand and smiled encouragingly. 

“I can’t say no to that face,” Nicole sighed, taking Waverly’s hand and using it to pull their bodies closer together. She wrapped both arms around her girlfriend’s middle and Waverly’s hands slid up her bare biceps and onto her shoulders.

“This song reminds me of when we first met,” Waverly told her, voice soft and full of reverence as they swayed to the soothing rhythm. She laid her head on Nicole’s chest, just under her chin.

“Choosin’ all my words carefully

Tryin’ to get a read when you stare at me

How did I get here? What did you say, dear?

Talk to me

‘Cause all I wanted to do was sit beside you

And now all I want you to do is make the first move

Oh, I got you where I want you 

And, god, I want you to make the first move”

“You know it took me weeks to work up the nerve to walk into that bar?” Nicole asked with a chuckle. 

“Really?”

“I was terrified. I’d never seen anyone like you, Waverly Earp. Breathtakingly beautiful, sexy in an easy, unintentional sort of way, and just a little bit sad. I could see it in your shoulders, even from afar. The second I laid eyes on you, I knew all I wanted to do was lift that sadness off of you and carry it myself. To see you smile all the way to your eyes. To maybe, just maybe, have the privilege of holding your hand.”

Waverly felt her eyes water and she held on tighter to Nicole’s shoulders. “I never would have known. You seemed so confident.”

“I practiced on Calamity Jane. Even handed her a business card. She was not amused.” 

Waverly laughed and kissed the underside of Nicole’s jaw.

“Although the broken tap threw me for a loop. I just had to roll with that one.”

Pulling back just a little, Waverly looked impishly into Nicole’s eyes. “Oh, please, like you didn’t love having a reason to take my shirt off.”

“Now it’s gettin’ late and I should go

I was too afraid to let you know

That when you said, “come with me”

I stopped breathin’

‘Cause all I wanted to do was lay beside you

And now all I want you to do is make the first move

Oh, I got you where I want you 

And, god, I want you to make the first move”

Nicole’s eyes dilated and her tongue darted out to wet her lips. “I wanted to kiss you. That day. You spoke to me and your voice was like an angel, and you blushed so adorably when I flirted with you, and I felt myself falling so fast. Like I’d never felt before. I wanted to hold you, and kiss you, and never let go.”

Waverly stared back, unblinking, the rise and fall of her chest slowing to where she began to feel lightheaded. “I felt it too. Right away. I looked at you and I saw this person who was somehow both handsome and beautiful, who took my breath away. Someone I knew would keep me safe and treat me as an equal. Someone I could love without losing myself.”

As the song ended and a new one began, Nicole instructed Alexa to stop the music. 

In the sudden silence, all Waverly could hear was Nicole’s breathing and the pounding of her own heart in her ears. 

Nicole leaned in, lips pausing just short of touching Waverly’s, wordlessly asking permission.

Waverly closed the gap, kissing Nicole with an almost desperate fervor. She sought Nicole’s tongue as her fingertips disappeared under a mop of red hair. Waverly leaned into the kiss with her whole body, hips arching forward to press into Nicole’s, electricity shooting down her core and liquifying between her thighs.

Nicole moaned in response to the passionate kiss, gripping with both hands the bare skin along Waverly’s waist where her shirt had ridden up. She gently, painstakingly, pushed back. “Waverly, wait.”

Waverly looked at Nicole with questioning eyes. 

“We…we should stop,” Nicole whispered, as if it were physically painful to say the words.

“Why?” Waverly begged, eyes dropping back to Nicole’s lips, already red and swollen. She didn’t want to talk. She just wanted to feel those lips on hers again. She wanted them all over her body. Waverly hadn’t been sure she’d ever feel this desire again, and now that she did, she wanted nothing more than to succumb to it. To let Nicole kiss her, and touch her, and remind her of how good it all can be.

Nicole squeezed her eyes closed. “Kissing you like this…it makes me want more. You just feel so good, and you smell so good. I don’t want to put any pressure on you to do something you aren’t ready for…that…that you might never be ready for. And that’s okay! That’s completely alright, I just-”

“I want more too,” Waverly quietly admitted, interrupting Nicole’s rambling.

Nicole stopped breathing. Her eyes snapped back open, searching Waverly’s for any hint of uncertainty. “You…you do?”

“Inhale, my love,” Waverly reminded her girlfriend with a smirk.

And Nicole did, filling her lungs. “Um…are you saying…”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

Waverly swallowed hard. She looked up at Nicole. At the soft red hair tickling the edge of her jaw. At her pouty bottom lip. At the perfect little beauty mark on the crest of her cheekbone. At the earnest look in those perfect brown eyes. Yes. She was sure. 

Waverly nodded, suddenly breathless herself.

“I think I need words, love,” Nicole requested.

“Yes. Yes, I’m sure. Are you?” This was a big step for both of them and Waverly wanted to make absolutely certain Nicole was ready for it, as well.

“Uh huh,” Nicole practically squeaked. “But…I’m a little nervous.”

“I trust you, and you can trust me. If we need to stop, we stop.”

Nicole nodded in agreement. “Okay.” 

“Okay?” Waverly asked again with an excited smile.

“Okay.” 

With that, Nicole’s eyes grew hungry and she captured Waverly’s lips again. Her hands roamed downward, settling on her girlfriend’s satin clad ass and giving it a gentle squeeze. “I. Want you. To feel. In. Control,” Nicole said each time their lips parted. “Tell me. What. You want.”

Waverly broke the kiss long enough to ask for what she needed. “I want to feel you on my skin.”

Nicole obliged, dipping her hands under the waistband of Waverly’s shorts and finding nothing underneath. She groaned at the discovery.

Waverly whimpered in response as she felt two strong hands kneading her ass. They were warm now, matching the heat that radiated off of her own body. Warm and soft. 

She wanted more. “Off.” Gripping the bottom of Nicole’s tank top, she pulled it upwards, forcing the redhead to lift her arms. Waverly pulled the shirt over her head. Two seconds later, Nicole’s sports bra followed suit, both items landing unceremoniously on the kitchen floor.

Nicole gave her head a shake to settle her short hair back into place. Her lips found Waverly’s again and soon they were both shuffling backwards, towards the table. When they could go no further, Nicole lifted Waverly effortlessly and set her back in the same spot she’d been placed in an hour ago. 

Waverly’s legs parted, allowing Nicole to fit between them. 

“Is this okay,” Nicole paused to ask.

Waverly nodded absently, searching for more kisses.

“Words.”

“Yes,” Waverly said, giving up on the elusive lips and settling for Nicole’s neck. She kissed and sucked at the sensitive skin, listening to the gasps they pulled from her girlfriend. Running her hands along Nicole’s firm, but soft stomach, she toyed with the edge of her mesh shorts. “Can I take these off?”

“Yes.”

Waverly yanked the material down, taking Nicole’s underwear along with it. 

When they pooled around Nicole’s feet, she kicked them to the side, then reached down with one hand and pulled off her socks, wobbling a bit as she did so. 

Waverly looked Nicole over, top to bottom and back up again. In her biased opinion, there was not another living soul more stunning than Nicole Haught. “Damn.”

A flush rose in Nicole’s cheeks and her lips curled into a crooked smile. The redhead was rarely bashful, but as Waverly’s eyes raked over every exposed inch of her, illuminated by the bright kitchen lights, the vulnerability of it all got the better of her.

“Take my shirt off,” Waverly instructed. “I need to feel you pressed against me.”

Nicole did as she was asked, opening Waverly’s shirt slowly, button by button, before spreading it apart and letting it fall down delicate shoulders. Her eyes licked along Waverly’s skin and Waverly leaned back, giving her girl a better view. 

But, when Nicole’s line of sight landed on Waverly’s breasts, a sadness shadowed her features. She reached out and tenderly touched the invisible marks from where she’d bitten her. 

Waverly’s brows creased. “Don’t.”

Nicole’s hands left Waverly’s body so quickly she nearly fell backwards with the momentum of it. “I’m sorry.”

“No,” Waverly quickly corrected. She took one of Nicole’s hands and guided it back to her chest, placing the palm on her nipple and encouraging Nicole to cup the entirety of her breast. “I just mean…don’t look at my body like it’s damaged or fragile…don’t look at me with pity.”

“I’m sorry,” Nicole apologized, shaking her head. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have-”

"It’s okay,” Waverly stopped her. “We went through something horrible, but we are still here. Whole and together. And naked. Well…almost.” 

Nicole laughed. “I can fix that.” She slid off Waverly’s shorts, Waverly lifting up a bit to assist, then she stood between her girlfriend’s legs and hugged her tight, their bodies flush against one another. 

It was as if Waverly and Nicole had been deprived of oxygen all these weeks and had finally taken a breath. Every nerve ending in both their bodies sighed in relief. 

“You feel so good,” Nicole said in one long exhale, wrapping Waverly’s legs around her hips to bring them even closer.

“So do you. I love how perfectly we fit together.”

Nicole kissed Waverly’s hairline, then down the bridge of her nose, before landing on her lips. The kiss was soft and loving. “God, I missed you so much.”

“I know it’s only been a month, but it felt like an eternity,” Waverly agreed. She burrowed into Nicole’s chest.

They stayed that way as time ticked slowly by, rubbing hands up and down one another’s backs. Occasionally kissing soft patches of skin. The sound of cars driving by outside went unnoticed. Calamity Jane scratched at the corners of the couch and neither moved an inch to stop her. 

“Can we stay like this forever?” Waverly asked quietly.

“We could…or…”

Waverly reluctantly pulled back to look up at Nicole. 

“I know I said I wanted you to be in control. And I do, but…”

“But, what?”

“I have just one request.”

“Okay.”

Nicole glanced down at Waverly’s spread open legs, and then looked meaningfully back into the brunette’s eyes with a renewed blush in her cheeks. “Can I…” 

Waverly knew what Nicole was asking and her breath hitched in anticipation. “Uh huh. Yes. Please.”

Trying to move, Nicole realized she was still locked in Waverly’s grasp. “You may have to let me go,” she laughed. “I can’t really do it from up here.”

With a dramatic pout, Waverly released her.

Nicole smiled and placed a kiss on her girlfriend’s jutted bottom lip. She licked at it indulgently until Waverly giggled and pulled it back in. Taking the brunette’s face in both hands, she locked eyes, rubbing her thumbs along her girlfriend’s soft cheeks. “I love you, Waverly.”

Waverly felt her eyes well up and her chest expand. The look in Nicole’s eyes…it was if she’d never said anything more true in her life. 

But before Waverly could even respond, Nicole sank to her knees. She encouraged Waverly to scoot closer to the edge of the table. 

Leaning back on both hands, she watched as Nicole placed a dangling leg over each of her shoulders. And as wet kisses began their ascent up each of Waverly’s thighs, she felt beautiful. Powerful. Worshiped. She felt like a goddess. 

When Nicole’s mouth made contact, Waverly gasped. It was the faintest of kisses, but to a place that hadn’t been touched by anyone, not even Waverly herself, in weeks, it was as if her lips had left a shock of static charge in their wake. And when Nicole’s tongue began stroking her, Waverly had to fight to keep her arms from giving out beneath her.

Nicole took her time, hands wrapped around the outside of Waverly’s thighs, as she teased and tasted her girlfriend. Eventually, listening to the encouraging sighs and moans from the woman atop the table, Nicole pressed her tongue firmly against Waverly’s clit, making circles around the firm bud and occasionally dipping into her entrance. 

It didn’t take long for Waverly’s orgasm to build to a breaking point. Watching Nicole’s head bobbing between her thighs, she could barely formulate words through the fog in her brain, but eventually, she croaked out, “Nic…Nicole…please. I want to feel you. Inside me.”

Nicole looked up at her, eyes reluctant. “Are you su-”

“Yes.” Waverly insisted.

Nicole took a deep breath, the exhale of which breezed against Waverly’s clit and covered her skin in goosebumps.

Waverly understood her girlfriend’s hesitation. This was the part they’d worried about the most. Would it trigger memories of the assault? Would Waverly be able to enjoy something that she could still, with perfect clarity, remember being used as a way to hurt and humiliate her? But, despite the very real fear, she wanted to try. “It’s okay, baby. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but please don’t stop because you’re afraid. I trust you.” 

Nicole licked her glistening lips and nodded.

Waverly couldn’t see Nicole’s hand after it disappeared from her thigh. But, soon, she felt her girlfriend’s tentative touch. One finger sank into her, inch by inch, while Nicole’s eyes stayed glued to Waverly’s face, searching for any sign that she should stop. 

Waverly welcomed the digit with a whimper of appreciation. But it wasn’t enough. “More?”

Nicole added a second finger and Waverly relished the feeling of fullness. It didn’t hurt. She didn’t feel scared or powerless. Waverly felt Nicole’s loving attention and her heart swelled with relief. “You feel amazing, baby. God, I love you.” She smiled down at Nicole and watched the anxiety melt from her girlfriend’s gaze.

Empowered by Waverly’s words, Nicole placed her mouth back on her girlfriend and resumed her task of massaging Waverly’s clit with her tongue, while simultaneously thrusting and curling her fingers. 

The combination was overpowering and Waverly’s orgasm began immediately. Her mind went blank and she struggled not to buck her hips in pleasure. Toes curling and muscles going taught, Waverly rode it out as long as she could, feeling for a moment as if her soul had left her body. 

When the climax released her, Waverly finally let her arms go limp and she laid flat on her back across the kitchen table, breathing deeply. Tears streamed from the corners of her eyes, back towards her hair, wetting the tips of her ears. Tears of ecstasy and relief. She was okay. They were okay. Mictian hadn’t won. 

Nicole walked over to the side of the table and draped herself over it to reach Waverly. “You okay, sweetheart?” She wiped away a stray tear.

Waverly turned her head to face her. “I’m perfect. You’re perfect. I’m just…so happy.”

Nicole kissed her damp cheek. “Come on, baby. Let’s get you somewhere more comfortable.” She reached for Waverly’s hands and pulled the nearly liquified woman from the table. Together, they wandered into the living room. 

Spooning together on the soft, gray-blue couch, Waverly released more silent tears. She couldn’t seem to stop them. All the fear, and shame, and secrecy, and loss seemed to finally leave her body in the steady flow. 

Nicole squeezed her tightly from behind, whispering affirmations and promises of love, filling in the empty spaces left by Waverly’s emotional purge. She kissed the back of her head and wrapped her long legs around Waverly’s, keeping her warm.

When Waverly’s eyes had cleared and the streaks on her face had dried, she wiggled in Nicole’s embrace until she’d turned completely, now facing her. Forehead to forehead, nose to nose, Waverly hummed in contentment. “I really thought we were broken,” she admitted. “Not our love…I know nothing could take that away from us, but…this part. This closeness. I thought it might be gone forever.”

“Guess it will take more than a bitter tentacle demon to take it from us,” Nicole said with a smile.

Waverly chuckled but shook her head. “Don’t tempt whatever gods might be listening.”

“Thank you. For trusting me.”

Kissing her girlfriend’s lips softly, tasting herself on them, Waverly responded in a breathy whisper, “I trust you with my life. And my heart. And my body.”

Nicole pulled her impossibly closer.

Waverly was pinned. Nicole’s leg was still wrapped around her lower half and she was held tight in the woman’s arms. She could barely move an inch. Waverly smiled at the realization that the feeling caused no panic to rise in her chest. In fact, she felt good. Safe. Waverly slid her leg between Nicole’s and nuzzled into her neck.

As she did, Waverly noticed a warmth coating the top of her thigh and smiled. She kissed Nicole’s pulse point and raised her thigh higher, eliciting a soft gasp from the redhead. The sound echoed between Waverly’s own legs and she was suddenly far less interested in cuddling. 

“I want to touch you, Nicole,” Waverly said, voice low and husky, nipping at Nicole’s earlobe. 

“Okay,” Nicole breathed. 

Still very much entombed by her girlfriend’s limbs, Waverly chuckled. “You may have to let me go. I can’t really do it from here,” she teased, parroting Nicole’s earlier line. 

Nicole rolled her eyes and smacked Waverly playfully on the ass, before releasing her.

As soon as she was free, Waverly climbed on top of Nicole, who shifted onto her back. She moved her curtain of hair to one side and stretched out over Nicole, kissing her firmly. Never breaking the kiss, Waverly situated herself between Nicole’s legs, one of which fell over the edge of the narrow couch.  

Maneuvering one arm between their bodies, Waverly reached down to stroke Nicole’s wetness, finding far more of it than anticipated. “We’re going to make a mess on the couch. Should we go upstairs?”

“No,” Nicole panted, grinding her hips upwards against Waverly’s fingers, desperate for any amount of friction. “I can’t wait. I need you now.”

Waverly obliged, sinking two fingers into Nicole’s warm and welcoming center. She felt Nicole wrap tightly around her and nearly cried again. Sliding slowly all the way in and then almost entirely back out, over and over, Waverly savored the incredible sensation. There was truly nothing like it. 

But, Waverly knew Nicole needed more. She thrust faster and more firmly, immersed in the delicious sounds pouring from the writhing woman beneath her. Listening for the familiar, high pitched, hitching breaths, Waverly knew just when Nicole was close. “I love you, baby. Come for me.”

Nicole tightened around Waverly’s fingers and she practically sang the brunette’s name as her climax overwhelmed her.

Waverly kept going until the final tremors subsided. Then, she slowly removed her fingers and laid down on top of Nicole, whose arms immediately enveloped her. 

“Let’s never leave this couch,” Nicole sighed, reaching for a throw blanket and wrapping it around their bodies like a cacoon.  

“We should probably go pee at some point. Or drink some water?” Waverly said with a laugh.

Nicole shook her head.

“We could snuggle up in bed?”

Another firm head shake.

Waverly smiled and kissed the underside of her jaw. “Okay, I guess we live here, then.”

After a moment, Nicole stroked Waverly’s back, getting her attention. “Speaking of living here…should we, at some point…try to sleep at the homestead again?”

Waverly thought about it. After the events of the past few hours, the prospect seemed a lot less intimidating. “I think that’s a good idea. Maybe tomorrow night?”

“Okay.”

Her mouth feeling increasingly dry, Waverly needed to go get a glass of water, even if it meant having to pry herself from her girlfriend’s soft body. But, as she began to sit up, a crushing wave of exhaustion washed over her. Every limb seemed to weigh a hundred pounds and her eyelids felt rough, like they were lined with sand. 

She flopped back down onto Nicole’s chest in a deep, dreamless sleep.

-

“Waves!”

Waverly awoke with a start to the feeling of having been smacked by something both firm and soft. She pried her heavy eyes open and saw her sister looming above her, a throw pillow in hand, ready to strike again. 

When she saw Waverly was conscious, Wynonna dropped the throw pillow and turned to the side, her profile on full display. “Does this look normal to you?! Just checking.”

Vision blurry, Waverly strained to make her eyes cooperate. When they finally focused, she saw that her sister’s formerly flat stomach was now as round as if she’d stuck a basketball under her shirt. Her eyes widened at the sight. “Whoa! That was so not on Web MD.”

A groan reverberated against her chest and Waverly suddenly remembered where she was. She was at Nicole’s house, on the couch, naked, with her girlfriend still very much beneath her. She pulled the throw blanket up higher. 

“Jesus, Wynonna!” Nicole shouted in horror after only a few seconds of confusion. “How did you even get in here? I locked the door!”

Wynonna shrugged. “I swiped Waverly’s key and made a copy. Look, we have more pressing matters. The whole town is asleep.”

“What?” Waverly questioned.

“Yeah. And we have been. For a while. So, get some clothes on and let’s go. Dolls is waiting in the truck. I left him there muttering some nonsense about not wanting to break and enter a fellow officer of the law’s house.” She rolled her eyes. “Oh, and remind me never to sit on your couch again.”

“In that case, you may want to avoid the table, too,” Waverly said with a snicker. 

Wynonna looked into the kitchen at the clothes scattered around the floor. She feigned a gag. “Ew. Also, good for you. I’m happy for you both. Now let’s go.”

Waverly watched her sister pick up a large coat that definitely wasn’t hers and tug it over her arms. “Meet you outside.”

Nodding, Wynonna closed the coat over her very full belly and strode out of the house.

When they were alone, Waverly sat up, allowing Nicole to scoot out from under her. Her eyes were still desperate to close and her braid felt muggy. “You okay, babe?”

Nicole yawned. “Yeah. I’m actually really good…despite the apparent circumstances.”

Smiling, Waverly kissed her drowsy girlfriend. “I think we needed a really long sleep after what we did.”

“Mmm…” Nicole hummed against Waverly’s lips. “I say we take care of whatever demon, or witch, or magical nap fairy has decided to make Purgatory its evil playground and then we come back here and pick up where we left off.  

"Yes, please,” Waverly agreed enthusiastically, lips finding Nicole’s again. She briefly wondered how long Wynonna would wait before barging back in. Maybe they had time for one more quickie. 

At the sound of a fist hammering against the door and an angry pregnant lady shouting from the other side, Waverly groaned and pried herself away from Nicole’s warmth. 

The couple took turns using the bathroom and scrounging through drawers for clean clothes. When they were both dressed, Nicole back in uniform, they grabbed cans of soda from the fridge and walked up to the front door, hand in hand.

“You ready?” Nicole asked.

Waverly grinned. “Oh yeah. That demon-witch-fairy-shitticket interrupted the wrong Earp.”

“Let’s kick it’s ass, baby. You and me,” Nicole added as she opened the door.

“And what am I?” Wynonna scoffed, leaning against the porch railing. “Oh, just the Earp Heir. NBD.”

Waverly sighed and walked past her, dragging Nicole along by the hand. “Let’s go, you two. We’ve got a world to save.”