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You're So Vain (I Bet You Think This Abduction's About You)

Chapter Text

“Fuck,” Wynonna groans against a wave of nausea, noise setting off a stabbing headache.  “Fuckshit.”

“Yep,” comes, scratchy and distant, from somewhere in the pitch blackness.  “Wynonna?”  the voice—Nicole—asks.

Heaving herself onto her hands and knees, she grunts back, “Yep.”  Concrete under her skinned hands, cold and damp.  Even straining, she can’t make anything out in—well, wherever they are.  “What happened?”

“Ambush,” Nicole answers quietly.

Fuck. 

There’s a sound of movement and steady hands land on her shoulder and back and she lets herself be shifted and guided to sit with her back against a frigid wall.  Nicole settles next to her, shoulder to shoulder.  Wynonna has to take several steadying breaths against the lurching feeling in her gut, the dizziness somehow more disorienting when she can’t see.

“Shit,” she hisses, flash of a memory on her tongue, “You got shot.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Nicole says.

“I’m sorry you got roped into this,” she mumbles, leaning into the other woman slightly.

To her surprise, Nicole laughs and says, “Listen, not everything is about you, Earp.”

“I’ve literally never found that to be the case,” she responds, on the very edge of being offended.  Her easy but quiet voice is doing very little to dispel the growing bubble of panic right under her throat.

“It’s gonna be okay.”

Now, this would have been one hell of a lot more comforting if a door hadn’t screeched open at that very minute.  Nicole flinches, Wynonna curses and covers her eyes when harsh lights flicker on.  The woman who enters looks a little bit like an assassin in a made-for-TV movie, all dark clothes and sharp features, a sharklike grin ripped across her face.  She’s holding, very loosely, what looks like a baton, but on second look is actually a cattle prod.

“Jesus, you get a cattle prod?  That’s badass, my boss will only let give me a gun with a flashlight on it,” Wynonna cries.

But the woman’s focused on Nicole.  “She’s cute, Nikki,” she says mockingly.  “New girlfriend?”

“Criminal,” Nicole responds easily.  “Or didn’t you notice the badge—or the cruiser?”

“You always were a terrible liar,” Lifetime Femme Fatale muses, smile growing.  “Just tell us where it is—it’s ours.  You’re a cop now but you stole it from us.  That’s not very lawful.”  When Nicole just stares at her, something hard and cold in her eyes, she sighs.  “I brought Cassie along.  She’s gonna love seeing you again.”

“I’m sorry,” Wynonna interrupts, “Are we on Candid Camera?  This show got dark.

She sees stars a moment later and the force of the blow knocks her on her side.  Probably not a great decision, she’s willing to admit that.  When she’s able to sit up, the bad TV hitman—lady—is at the door again, tossing a careless, “Good seeing you again, Nikki,” over her shoulder.

The door slams behind her and Wynonna spits blood.  “What the fuck?” she demands.

“I told you, this isn’t about you,” Nicole says gently, giving her the slightest hint of a smile.

There’s something inside her that she can’t quite define.  Revenants, she can deal with—she’s known them.  This is new, different, and she feels sick.  “What did you take from them?”

Now, she looks away.  “I didn’t grow up in Purgatory but I did live in a small town really similar,” she explains, not at all frustratingly.  “Small town, weird stuff.  The sheriff died and I stole something from her before leaving.”  After a brief pause, she says, “They won’t be able to find it; we might be here a while.”

“Well, here’s hoping my boss isn’t dead and comes looking,” Wynonna replies doubtfully.

“I…” she trails off.  “I dunno if we should be wishing for that.”

They let it rest for a moment.

“What was it?”

“You won’t believe me,” Nicole scoffs humorlessly.

“Try me.”

She takes a bracing breath and says, “It’s… a necklace.  And it’s magic.”

She can’t help it, Wynonna howls with laughter because of course it’s a magic necklace.  Tears stream down her face and her ribs ache before she can bring herself to stop.  Nicole’s staring at her, open-mouthed, when she sobers.  “Sorry—sorry, I’m—I believe you,” she gasps.

“You do?”

“I mean, yeah, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” she responds.

Something about Nicole’s face says it gets worse.

--

At nine in the morning, Dolls walks into the station, already calling Wynonna before he even reaches the relative privacy of the conference room.  It goes to voicemail, but that’s expected.  “Hey,” he calls into the phone.  “I was only gone for a day—get your ass to the station when you get this, we got work.”

About an hour later, his phone chimes.  He doesn’t even look before answering, “Hey.”

“Dolls?” Waverly’s voice comes over the line.  “I need—I can’t get a hold of Wynonna and there’s something you should see—can you get to the homestead?”

There’s a quiet panic in her voice that propels him out of his chair.  “I’ll be there in ten,” he tells her.

He’s there in seven.  She’s standing next to a parked cruiser wrapped in a heavy-looking shawl, which only initially strikes him as odd—no one let him know there was activity this way.  The doors are both open and when he strides up to her side she doesn’t look at him, eyes fixed straight ahead on the cruiser’s window, where, on the driver’s side, there’s a small bullet hole.  He walks around to the open door and peers in, takes note:  bloody handprint, no pooled blood, no souvenirs left.

At length, she says in a rush, “They were going to get breakfast, Wynonna and N—Officer Haught, around… s-six or seven.  I went to bed; the Stone Witch came last night.  But I came out and this was here.”

I wasn’t gone even 24 hours, he thinks sullenly.  “Okay,” he replies gently.  “Go inside,” he orders—this close he can see she’s still wearing pajamas, and the shawl may just be a blanket.  “I’ll be right in, but I gotta call this in, okay?”

Chapter Text

When they come for Nicole, it feels like hours later.  It’s hard to tell how much time passes.  One moment, they’re alone, and the next two women—neither of them the B-movie spy from before—are dragging her away.  She goes with a frozen determination on her face.

For a long time, there’s only silence, but then the screaming starts.  It’s on a very specific cycle—deadly quiet, and Wynonna tries to count the seconds, then a blood-chilling scream.  She feels sick for the other woman as it continues and she loses track of how often it happens, drawing her knees up close as the sounds all bleed together, start sounding less and less human the way it rebounds off the walls around her—cellar walls, she can recognize now in a dim way.  Guttural, wrenched in a way she’s never heard.

And then it stops.

And stays quiet.

Then, stomps.

The door swings open and Nicole is tossed in and, like a doll, collapses.  The door slams shut.  Wynonna rushes to her, and Nicole lifts her head up a little, eyes glassy and blood dripping from her nose.

“Jesus,” Wynonna whispers, “Can you stand?”

She nods slowly, and Wynonna helps her do an awkward, pained three-legged shuffle back to the wall.  They settle so that Nicole’s head ends up in her lap.  Wynonna absently (and probably not all that comfortingly) stroking over her hair.  “Those bitches,” she curses, hushed.

Nicole gives a wheezy chuckle.  “Yeah—high school with them?  Torture.

Against her will, she snorts.  “Tell me about the magic necklace.”

“Tell me about the bodies,” Nicole counters, but her voice is warmer now.  She shifts with a pained grunt, until she’s on her back.  “It makes you powerful.  Doesn’t give you any magic it just.  It’s the most amazing thing—you can do anything.  I was seventeen, I’d never felt anything like it,” she tells her, voice very low and eyes glazed over.  “But then it’s out of control, like a dream.  Everything is working, you’re not dying even though you’re in impossible places—but you’re not controlling anything.  Like I was watching myself do everything from inside my own head.  So I ran, and got as far away from them as I could.  Got a new name, went to school, and hid that thing.”

“What are they gonna do if they can’t get it from you?” she asks, knowing the answer already.

“Probably kill some people,” Nicole answers, trying to sound unaffected.  She goes quiet, eyes sliding closed for a moment.  “I really hope someone goes by my apartment before they find it.  My dog needs to be fed.”

“You know your neighbors?  They’ll probably check in on it,” Wynonna tries to comfort her.

Smiling ever so slightly, she says, “His name is Waffle.”

“That’s adorable,” she answers, deadpan.  “Why?”

“I found him outside of Waffle House one day when I was still at the police academy,” Nicole murmurs, looking up a little self-consciously.  “I’ve never had to name a pet before!” she says defensively.

“Did Wave tell you she had a hamster named Pikachu?  It looked like a little panda I had no idea why,” Wynonna answers, watching the other’s smile grow.  “One of my foster parents got me one, once.  Her name was Clarence.  I didn’t know she was a girl.”

They let the quiet between them grow.  It’s almost comfortable, circumstances considered.

“Wynonna?” Nicole eventually whispers.  “I’m sorry you got involved.  They’re gonna try to hurt you to get to me.”

Deep down, she thinks she knew that.  “Wouldn’t be the first time I was in the wrong place,” she responds.

--

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Waverly moans, dropping her head onto the table.  Dolls doesn’t respond, doesn’t say that it doesn’t have to or that sometimes things just don’t.  She stays hunched like that for almost a full minute before launching to her feet, pacing between door and chair, body tight as she chews her nails.  “Why would they take both of them?  Why wouldn’t they leave Nicole there if she was dead?  They take parts of people—not the whole body.”

“What are you thinking?” he asks.

“What if it’s not Revenants?” she mumbles.  “Or the Witch or anything to do with Wynonna?”

“Are you suggesting that it’s just a coincidence that she disappears the day after a witch tries to murder you?” he sighs dubiously.  She gives him an exasperated look.  “I’m not saying it isn’t possible, Waverly, I just need you to remain…”

“Objective?” she prompts. “I can’t be.  But this doesn’t match their M.O.”

Closing the file in front of him, he relents, “Okay.  Let’s profile Officer Haught.  What do we know about her?  She isn’t a local, is she?  Where did she come from?”

For a moment, Waverly looks almost through him.  Then, she asks, “How do you feel about breaking and entering?”

Chapter Text

The next time their captors open the door, one of the women who’d taken Nicole comes in alone carrying two brown bags.  She looks really young for someone successfully pulling off a kidnapping, and her smile is deceptively sweet.  “I brought food, and water,” she says, voice lower and more rich than Wynonna would have expected.  She rolls her eyes as she kneels before them. “Nothing is poisoned—talk about counter-productive.  We need you alive.”  Slowly, like she’s at a picnic, she unloads the bags, setting out two bottles of water, two wrapped sandwiches, two snack-sized bags of chips.

Nicole catches Wynonna’s eye and shrugs.  “So, are you the good cop, Sabrina?” Nicole asks conversationally.  “You’re not getting the necklace.”

“That’s really unfortunate,” the girl says, looking very sad.  “Because, you know, we need you, but we don’t need the human.”  Her smile grows sharp at the edges as she turns to Wynonna.  “No offense—you understand, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I mean.  I’m a little creeped out, but I get it,” she responds.

“Just think about it, okay, Nikki?  No one here has to die,” Sabrina urges her, for a moment looking genuinely earnest.  She stands slowly and leaves them to eat in silence.

Wynonna feels, not for the first time, afraid.  “Why did she call me ‘the human?’” she asks slowly.

“Well, they—we… We aren’t exactly human, in the classical sense,” Nicole answers, taking a long pull of water. 

Wynonna huffs a small laugh.  Nicole mumbles something into her sandwich, and Wynonna grunts, “One more time?”

“We’re werewolves,” she says, looking pained and afraid and defiant all at once.

“Of course you are,” Wynonna groans.  “You seemed too normal.”  Half her sandwich gone, she leans back.  “You know that if we make it out of this, I’ll never stop making dog jokes.”

“Fate worse than death,” Nicole mocks.  “Don’t—you won’t tell anyone?”

Feeling suddenly very sad, Wynonna holds up her little finger.  “Pinkie swear.”  They lock pinkies and Nicole gives her a nervous little chuckle.  She rewraps her own sandwich (Nicole finished hers, but there’s a queasy flop in her gut she can’t eat past) and moves closer.  “We’ll get out.”

“Awful confident for the only human in a wolves’ den.”

“Shhh, let me have my hope.”

Quietly, Nicole wraps an arm around her shoulder.  “You’re right,” she mumbles, sounding only a little forced.  “You’re right, we’ll be fine.” 

Wynonna pulls her knees up to fit herself against her, murmuring, “So, does the werewolf thing give you any super powers?  Because I’m not gonna lie that would be fantastic.”

“Not really?  I can probably smell and hear better than your average person but… I dunno, it’s been a long time since I’ve… I’m not what they would call the most in touch with that part of myself,” she answers.  “I was turned when I was little, I don’t remember not being like this.”

“I’m calling it, this is your super power,” she counters, resting her head on Nicole’s shoulder.  “Really, I can’t believe how good you are at this.  Who even knew?”  The woman’s body is warm and she feels a strange contentedness just sitting like this.  “Seriously,” she hums.  “When we get out, I’m gonna need you to spend lots of time at the homestead because you’re better than any antidepressant.”

“Hmm?  Yeah, that’s… sort of like a compliment,” Nicole laughs.

“I’m not kneeing you in the spleen, am I?”

They sit like that for a long time, Wynonna becoming tired with the comforting warmth of her and feeling her eyelids droop.  She wants to ask if the other woman knows how long they’ve been here, but suddenly feels too sleepy to broach the subject.  If this is an interrogation technique, she wonders idly how effective it is.  The fear, the worry, doesn’t take hold, and she can feel it when Nicole relaxes.

Just in that moment when the tension bleeds out of her, Sabrina returns, takes her away with a steely grip around her arm.  When she retells this moment, she’ll probably say she went calmly, that because she knew what was coming it made her resolve to not panic.

In reality, she stumbles, she hisses at the pain of being wrenched out the door.

And she’s scared, above all else.

--

“Where did you learn to pick a lock?” Dolls asks, watching the hallway with his back to Waverly.

“D-don’t worry about it, okay?” she replies, gasping when the lock clicks open.  “Yes, who’s your mama,” she whispers, pushing open the door.  Dolls turns quickly and sees a smallish dog with fur the color of maple syrup and a serious underbite.  “Oh, baby,” she croons, reaching out a gentle hand.  “Come here.”  Her soft voice is sweet, and the dog goes, tail wagging cautiously at first but as soon as she starts petting it more excitedly.

“Okay, breaking down, and now the entering?” he urges, looking carefully over his shoulder.

She looks up at him guiltily, mumbling, “Right, my bad.”

Helping to her feet, he follows her into the small apartment and closes the door quietly behind himself.  He hands her a pair of gloves.  At her look, he says, “Humor me?”

Lips twisting to conceal a smile, Waverly nods quickly and takes them.  “So, what are we looking for?” she asks.

“Something that tells us who Nicole Haught is,” he responds.

After he passes her, he hears her whisper, “I’ll be back for you,” to the dog.

At the desk, he finds nothing exciting.  Password-protected laptop, couple files from work, office supplies.  He moves on.  In the kitchen, above the sink, there’s a clay flower box overflowing with brilliantly blue flowers.  Frowning, he snaps a picture.

“Pretty flowers,” Waverly says right next to him.

“Monkshood,” he tells her, off-hand.

“Aconite,” she quips.  “Wolfsbane.”  She grins up at him.  “Harry Potter.”

“Right,” he hums.  “Why would a dog owner keep this around?”

“Please let the reason be werewolves,” she gasps excitedly.

Chapter Text

They tie her up.  Standing, arms behind her back and at an angle she knows is supposed to dislocate them.  It’s just uncalled for.  “I usually insist people buy me dinner before tying me up—but I guess you ladies covered that, huh?” Wynonna snipes, trying to sound casual.

The three werewolves share a look, and she really thinks she could be cut some slack on the comedy front given she’s about to be tortured.  There’s a well of absolute, freezing cold terror inside her.  Sabrina comes forward, holding the hand of the one who isn’t straight out of a telenovela.  Cassie, her brain supplies uselessly.

“Wynonna,” Sabrina starts kindly.  “This is Cassie—she’s gonna hurt you.  I just want you to know it didn’t have to be this way.  This is because your friend won’t see reason and give what’s ours.  I know it’s not fair, and I’m very sorry.  It’s just—just so you know who’s really at fault here.”

“Your good cop needs work,” she grumbles.

They lead with the cattle prod, and if she even thinks it’ll be like electroshock she is so, so wrong.  She doesn’t hear the scream but her throat is raw when they let up, and her whole body slumps as much as it can—there’s a tearing feeling in her shoulders and she groans.  Every part of her buzzes, her head feels fuzzy and she bit her tongue, there’s the tang of blood in her mouth.  Cassie slaps her face twice, hard, a look in her eye bordering on animal.  It’s not long enough before it hits her again, whole body seizing, trying to keep any sound from being ripped from her.

It stops.

She can hear herself sobbing.  It feels like choking.

“Don’t tap out on us yet,” Cassie says, voice hard with a rough edge.

“’M here,” Wynonna grunts, throat sore.  “Right here.  Feels like good ol’ school days.”

There’s a sharp blow, just under her ribs, knocks the breath out of her.  She tries to breathe, can’t feel anything but the burning in her lungs.

“Fuck,” she coughs.

It goes on, blurs together, she can’t imagine anything but the pain until they cut her loose and it must have been days since they started.  She falls in a heap, wrists still bound behind her and her fingers prickle, shoulders scream.  She thinks she’s crying.

They have to drag her down to the cellar, she can’t control her feet.

She’s thrown inside, where Nicole saves her from a pretty epic faceplant.

Her legs get knocked out from under her, and she thinks she mumbles about super strength while Nicole takes her as far from the door as she can get.  She can only manage a whimper when her hands are untied.  Nicole scoops her up into her chest, rubbing at her shoulders.  She can hear her own breathing—too loud and shuddering.

“Wynonna,” Nicole whispers.

“I’m okay,” she mumbles weakly.  She knows it isn’t convincing.

Given the situation, she thinks she may be entitled.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole eventually murmurs, voice watery.

Everything goes dark and quiet after that.

--

“You can’t have that dog in here,” Sheriff Nedley says, looking perplexed.

“Material witness,” Dolls drawls, shooting Waverly a look.  “We need to get some samples.  It won’t leave that room.”  Ducking her head to hide a triumphant smile, Waverly walks the dog—whose caller says Waffle, which he isn’t even gonna touch—past the sheriff.  “I can’t believe you brought him with us,” he tells her quietly.

“He couldn’t be left alone,” she answers, eyes wide and innocent.  When she sits, the dog sets his big, ugly head on her knee, tail swinging expectantly.  She scratches behind his ears.  “So, are we leaning to a werewolf theory?”

Keeping his face blank, he concedes, “It’s a possibility.  But she’s alone here.  There would be… signs of a pack in Purgatory.”

“How do you know that?”

“I’ve seen a lot,” he tells her simply.  Her eyebrows shoot up and she nods, urging him to continue.  “So, packs are usually peaceful.  If this is werewolves, these aren’t.”

“I caught that—you know, because they shot and abducted someone,” Waverly responds.

“So, what would bring a lone wolf to Purgatory?” he mumbles, breezing through her interruption.  “Why would she leave her pack?  They’re supposed to be like family.”  It’s his turn to pace, arms crossed. 

“Sometimes families aren’t great.”

He pauses.  Sometimes they aren’t.  “Aconite isn’t always a poison.  It would be painful, but they can use it to keep the wolf at bay,” he says, half to himself.  This is pointing to a very clear point but he can’t quite pinpoint it. 

“So, she’s running,” Waverly points out.  “Why would you run and hide unless…”

“Unless you’re hiding something,” he finishes.  “I need to make a call.  You… look for places you could people without arousing suspicion.  Quiet, not a ton of traffic.”

She stares at him, open-mouthed.  “We live in the middle of nowhere,” she groans.

Chapter Text

“It’s been four days,” Nicole rasps, pushing her water bottle to Wynonna.  She hadn’t asked.  She’s wondering if maybe telepathy comes with being a werewolf, too.  “Drink that.”

“I’m fine,” Wynonna answers, whole body throbbing.  “You need it too.”

“Not as much as you,” she returns, eyes hard.

Scowling, Wynonna takes the bottle and doesn’t watch Nicole’s eyes flicker to her purple wrists and bloody fingernails.  Her own gaze fixes on the bruises that look weeks old across the other’s face, the dried blood.  Lifting the bottle to her cracked lips is a herculean effort as she takes a sip.

“Happy?”

“Ecstatic,” Nicole frowns.  “They think if—if they make me watch you like this… that I’ll talk.”

“That’s not comforting,” she grunts, closing her gritty eyes and cracking a lame smile.  She doesn’t say that Purgatory isn’t huge, that they’ll have to be found eventually.  She feels that belief sliding away.  Sabrina has come with meals, three times, since the first time, each time with less food and an assurance that it’s not lethal, yet.  She knows—they’re trying to starve them out.  She can appreciate the mental torture of that, can see the guilt in Nicole’s eyes.  She reaches out as far as she can, snags Nicole’s fingers.  “Tell me something.”

“I l—I really like your sister,” Nicole says, voice pitched in a way that may be trying for funny.

“Yeah, I have eyes,” she counters.  “Tell me something else.”

“I wanted to be a vet when I was little,” she says.  “When I was in kindergarten.  Before.  I thought all they did was kiss animals all day to make it better.”

“You wanna hear a joke?” Wynonna asks suddenly.  “I—before Daddy, I wanted to be a cop.”

Nicole laughs hard enough it’s almost hurtful.

“It’s not that funny,” she grumbles.

“It kinda is.”

For a long time, they don’t talk.  Wynonna is tired; she can’t tell how long they let them sleep but it isn’t long enough.  “If I die,” she murmurs.  “Could you just tell everyone I was incredibly brave and badass?”

“You were selfless and never wavered,” Nicole agrees, squeezing her fingers.

Nodding, she drifts, not quite asleep but riding the very edge of unconsciousness.  She thinks about Wave having to go through the hell of the Seven again—having to face Bobo alone.  There’s a dull, throbbing anger in her gut.  This is, decidedly, not how she wanted to go.  The sessions upstairs have gotten longer, more creative.  She’d watched as Nicole’s flesh knit back together, faster than anything she ever could have imagined.

She may dream.  Sees glowing eyes and sharp teeth, hears snarls and rips.

When she jolts awake, Nicole has her forehead slumped against her shoulder, breath steady.

--

After an… inventive background check and a lot of digging, here’s what they know:

Nicole Haught was born Nicole Meyer to Melinda and Jack Meyer in a little town in Kansas that has an absurd volume of records for “animal attacks.”  At seven, she lost both of them to a car accident and was dumped into foster care, where reports say she was, to paraphrase, moody and difficult.  Nothing serious until she was thirteen and took a joyride with a group of girls her age.  The Sheriff vouched for her and her records were scrubbed, but with a little effort the list grew, always with two accomplices—Sabrina Jackson and Cassie Wright.  At seventeen, shortly after graduation, Nicole Meyer disappeared on the same night the Sheriff was found torn apart by… something. Three years later, Nicole Haught joins the police academy with (well-forged) proof of identity.  She passes with flying colors and glowing references from her instructors—not long after, just six months ago, she ends up in Purgatory.

Dolls pulls the carefully-compiled file away from Waverly.

“So, what do we have?” he asks.

Dragging a town map in front of her, she stabs a finger into a spot on the highway.  “There’s a convenience store here.  Clerk says two girls he doesn’t recognize come in twice a day, practically wiping out their stock in those gross sandwiches,” she pauses, scrubbing at her eyes.  At her feet, Waffle gives a very gentle whimper.  “There’s an abandoned farm out there—family left town a while back.  I’m willing to put my money on there.”

“How much money?” he prompts.  “Location’s promising, anything else out there?”

“Mountain lions, mostly.”

Dolls nods.  “Alright, I guess we’re doing this,” he says.  “Good thing I stocked up on silver bullets.”

“Wait, really?” she asks, eyes lighting up.

Wiping his mouth to hide a smirk, he responds, “No.”

Eyes narrowing, Waverly muses, “It’s somehow scarier when you try to make jokes.”

“There are still special bullets,” he comforts her.  “We’ve dealt with this sort of thing before—deadly if not treated, but enough to incapacitate temporarily.  I’m gonna bring them in alive.”

“That’s so cool,” she says.  “A little scary with the…” She pauses to gesture at her face.  “But very cool.”

When she starts to stand, he puts a hand on her shoulder, easing her slowly back into her seat.  “You’re not coming.” She opens her mouth to object but he interrupts, “Do you know what Wynonna would do to me if I let you come in to that with me?”

Waverly bites her lip and grabs his hand quickly.  “You bring them back, or I’ll do way worse,” she warns.

He finds the place without the need for GPS, parks far enough out to avoid being seen.  Does he think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of sneaking up on them?  Not so much, but he’s not really about giving them any more of an advantage. God drawn at his side, he stalks up to the house.  There’s fresh tracks in the snow, no car in site.  When he’s close enough to be within arm’s reach of the door, the eerie quiet is shattered by a rough, pained shriek.

He wrenches the door open.

Out of the gloom, there’s a snarl and he’s knocked on his back.  There are claws at his throat, a face distorted by elongated teeth and a lengthening snout looming over his.  In a quick move, he breaks her grip, then he breaks her arm for good measure.  The werewolf yelps.  Back on his feet, gun up—he squeezes the trigger when she lurches forward.  She howls but it’s not a lethal hit.

Inside, his eyes adjust to the dark quickly, but all he can hear is the stuttering breathing somewhere deeper inside.  Another makes the mistake of coming at him head-on, he pegs her twice, one in either shoulder.  She drops with a howl.

Too easy.

In what might at one time have been a dining room, Officer Haught is suspended on tip-toe, breath quick and eyes glazed.  He holsters his gun to cut her down, and she sags against him, whispering something, barely audible.

“One more,” she hisses.  “There’s one more… Downstairs… cellar… Wynonna.”

“Okay,” he says, setting her on the floor.

The “one more” catches him with deadly claws across his arm—he’d been healing so well—digs in and tosses him.

No matter how well-trained a person is, going through a wall is going to daze them.  Groaning, he twists, goes for his gun, but she’s on top of him, dragging him up until he’s barely touching floorboard.  Shit.  He grasps at her wrists, brings his fists down on her elbows and he drops.  Quickly, he swipes her legs out from under her, buys himself enough time to get his gun back out.

The werewolf rocks to her feet and roars.  Inhumanly fast, she’s out of his sight, creaky floor taunting him.

Straining to hear, he catches the soft whine of a door—the cellar.

He takes the stairs down quickly, bursts in to see the wolf with her claws at Wynonna’s throat, a human shield.  Blood cold, he aims.

“You better be a damn good shot,” Wynonna grunts.

“Better than you,” he teases, voice carefully calm.

“Good, ‘cause—‘cause if I lived through all this to have you shoot me…”

Wynonna,” he growls.  His eyes are locked steadily on the werewolf’s.

Agonizing seconds pass and all that can be heard is Wynonna’s jagged breathing.

He takes the shot.

Chapter Text

When the werewolf—who is way more freaky-looking than she’d anticipated—goes down, she takes Wynonna with her.  She struggles to free herself from dead mythological creature, twists herself into exhaustion as Dolls crouches down next to her.  It takes a moment to realize he’s talking to her.

“Thanks for not missing,” she huffs, vision going fuzzy at the edges.  “Dolls?”

“Take it easy,” he coaxes, and she only feels the pain distantly when he lifts her.  “And you’re welcome.”

“I think I’m gonna pass out,” she mumbles, dizzy.

She thinks he hums, feels it all through her, but she feels herself fade out.  Nothing after that is really real.  From a distance, in and out of it, she sees flashes—leaving, fresh snow falling, the queasy feeling of watching a needle push into her arm, inside the ambulance, Nicole looking pale and sick but sitting up and wrapped in a blanket. 

Next thing she knows, she’s in the hospital, feeling roughly like it would have been kinder to just kill her.  There’s a doctor saying something to her but she can hardly focus, something about dislocation—broken rib—stitches, how many?  Blinking, Wynonna tries to concentrate but her brain feels like wet cotton.

Just as she works up to asking where’s Nicole? the door swings open and a man in scrubs calls for the doctor, and she can just see Dolls flashing his badge and talking seriously to the doctor, gesturing gently but with authority (she’s gotta learn that move) towards her.  After a few minutes, the doctor, grim look cemented on her face, nods and waves him in.  Wynonna watches him turn and gesture and let Nicole limp in first, half-dragging and half-leaning on an IV stand and wearing the ugliest set of Wyatt Earp County Community College—yeah, mouthful in the worst way—sweats she’s ever seen.

“You lived,” Nicole starts warmly, “Does that mean I don’t have to pretend you went out like a badass?”

“Dog jokes,” Wynonna chokes, mouth painfully dry.  “Dog jokes until the end of time.”  They share a quick smile, a little tight around the edges, before she shifts, trying to sit up.  “Where’s my sister?”

“On her way,” Dolls answers, on her other side.  He holds a paper cup with a bendy straw in front of her face.  “Drink this, you’re dehydrated.”

And, okay, his tone aside, that water is the best thing she’s ever tasted and it feels awesome.

Just as she’s settling back into the bed, Waverly bursts into the room with what is the ugliest dog she’s ever seen rushing in ahead of her.  Even as her sister runs forward to wrap her in a tight, painful, amazing hug, she hears herself asking, “What the hell is that thing?”

The dog leaps practically into Nicole’s lap and she laughs, delighted but rough, “Waffle!”

Waverly pulls back, swiping at her eyes and chuckling wetly.  “I’m so glad you’re both okay,” she says, eyes darting back and forth between Nicole and Wynonna and Nicole is giving her such a look that Wynonna has to turn her head to keep from laughing.  Still, on catching Dolls’ eye she can’t help but snort.

“That dog has not left her side in four days,” he says.

Wave hides her face behind a curtain of hair for a moment before tilting her chin up, almost defiant, giving Nicole a shy half smile.  “I couldn’t leave him, he’s—“

“A literal hellhound?” Wynonna finishes, eyeing the dog.

“No,” her sister croons, reaching over to scratch the thing under his chin.  “He’s a big sweetie.”

--

It’s not too long before a nurse, backed by a security guard, come to kick Dolls, Waverly, and (especially) the dog out.  She hugs both her sister and Nicole for a long time before picking up the leash and promising to take good care of the dog.  Dolls doesn’t realize Wynonna’s staring at him expectantly at first but when he does, she smirks up at him.

“Are you gonna hug me goodbye, too?” she teases.

At least it didn’t take long for her to start sounding like herself again.

He reaches down to cup her cheek, thumb brushing the patch of skin that isn’t black and blue, lets the silence rest for half a beat, before scoffing and shoving his fists in his pockets.  “Nah, I’m good,” he replies.

Her lips twist wryly, and as they leave she calls after him, “Don’t forget—you owe me dinner!  Extra dumplings!”

On the way out, Waverly sighs, “I’m so glad this is over.  I almost miss dealing with Revenants!”

“We’re not done yet,” he laughs.  “We’ve still got two werewolves to deal with—job doesn’t stop once your sister’s safe.”

He feels her eyes on him before she says, “Listen, you could just say we make a great team and you don’t want to see this through without me.”

“All I’m saying,” he answers, yanking open the door for her, “Is that the job you started isn’t over yet.”  Outside, on their way to his SUV, he looks over at her.  “You did good work, though,” he tells her.