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From Afar

Chapter Text

The small town of Purgatory reminded Officer Nicole Haught a lot of the little town she had grown up in. Purgatory had that same small town charm as her hometown. It had the same tight knit townspeople, who did not care much for outsiders (even if those outsiders now worked for the Sheriff's office). The people here hadn’t exactly been cold or mean, but they hadn’t been friendly either. One week here and the only people Nicole had gotten to know was Sheriff Nedley, a few of the other deputies she worked with and the cute barista that worked at the coffee shop down the road.

Purgatory had not been as welcoming as she thought it would but Nicole honestly could not care less (or so she told herself). This was a fresh start, a chance to make a new life for herself. She had left everything and everyone she had known behind and she was determined to make this move work. She had no choice really, she refused to go running back home to her parents. She refused to fail.

“Officer Haught,” Sheriff Nedley’s gruff voice pulled Nicole’s attention away from the paperwork she had been trying to get through. Trying was the key word there, she was bored out of her mind and just couldn’t focus.

She looked up at the man, glad for the distraction. Paperwork was her least favorite part of the job. She wanted to be out there patrolling the town, helping people, doing anything other than stupid, tedious paperwork. “Yes Sir?”

“Come with me, I have a job for you.”

“Yes Sir.” Standing up quickly, Nicole secures her standard issue Glock 9mm pistol in it’s holster. She places her steton on top of her head and grabs her jacket from the back of her chair, slipping it on as she follows Nedley out of the station, with a bounce in her step.

Finally, she was getting out of the station and going to handle her first call. Something she had been dreaming about since she was little. She had always wanted to be a cop. She had always wanted to protect and serve.

Every man in her family had joined the academy, they all had protected and served their community and Nicole wanted to follow in her father’s, uncle’s, and grandfather’s footsteps. Even if that had meant she had to leave her home, to make her name somewhere else because no one back home would take her seriously.

Instead of heading for his squad car like Nicole expected, Nedley starts walking down the sidewalk towards the main part of town.

After a few minutes of walking in silence, Nicole’s curiosity finally gets the better of her. “Sir, where are we going?”

“Shorty’s.”

“Something happened at Shorty’s?” She asked, hand automatically coming to rest on her Glock, trying to contain her excitement. It was wrong to hope that someone had broken the law, that someone might have gotten in a fight or gotten hurt but she couldn’t help it. She was so ready to do actual police work. She’s been waiting her whole life for this.

She had yet to stop in Shorty’s Saloon, though she knew from her fellow officers that it was where most of the town hung out on a regular bases and where most of their calls came from. Which meant it was probably a bar fight, that she would get the chance to break up.

“No.”

Okay, now she was confused and slightly disappointed. Why would they be going to Shorty’s if nothing happened? She welcomed the break from her paperwork but she really needed to get it all done if she wanted to go home at a decent time tonight. Not that she had anything but her cat and boxes that needed to be unpacked waiting for her.

“Then why are we going to Shorty’s Sir?” She questioned, watching him from the corner of her eye.

Nedley sighed, coming to a stop and placing a hand on Nicole’s shoulder, stopping her as well. He liked Nicole, he really did and he saw the untapped potential just sitting underneath the surface. And maybe it was just the father in him but he wanted to see her succeed in whatever it was she came to Purgatory for. Also the girl needed some damn friends, the whole week she has been here she has been at the station.

“You have good instincts Haught but, a good cop needs more than their instincts, they need to know the town they are protecting inside and out, they need to know and understand the people they are protecting.”

“And I don’t know the people in this town?”

“No, you don’t.” He nodded, dropping his hand from her shoulder. “And I know it’s not from a lack of trying, it’s hard to get to know the people in Purgatory when you are an outsider, even if you are here to make this place your home.”

“So what exactly do you want me to do Sherif?” Nicole asked when they started walking again.

It was nice to know that someone here cared about her, that she wasn’t on her own here, that she had someone she could possible count on. Maybe he had only taken an interest because she was a rookie and he needed her up to par with everyone else, so he didn’t have to take the heat if she screwed up. Either way it was still nice.

“I want you to mingle with the people of this town, I want you to observe them and get to know them and I want you to relax and make friends,” he said as they stopped in front of the saloon.

He held his hand out and smiled encouragingly at her. Something she hadn’t seen him do very often. He was a man of few words and even fewer smiles.
“Now give me your gun, as of right now you are no longer Officer Haught, you are just Nicole.”

Nicole unstrapped her Glock from it’s holster and handed it to him. She wanted to point out that even if she took off her uniform and her stetson, which held her badge, she would still be Officer Haught. The outfit, the gun, the stetson was only part of being an officer.

With a nod to Nedley, she turned to the door of the saloon, taking a deep breath and unbuttoning the first two buttons on her uniform shirt. Trying to look as casual as possible in her uniform. Though she was pretty sure it hadn’t helped much. There was the air of a police officer surrounding her at all times, it was unmistakable and people usually noticed it right away.

She wasn’t sure why she suddenly felt so nervous. She was usually such a confident person. She knew who she was and she owned it. She never apologized for who she was or how she felt. She stood up for the things she believed in and the people she loved. She did not let the hateful, homophobic things people in her hometown said to her get under her skin because she knew there was nothing wrong with her.

Bottom line was that Nicole Haught was sure of herself and usually didn’t care what people thought of her.

Yet here she was, scared to go into the only saloon in town because the people in this town might not like her, might not come to accept her as one of their own.

Sighing, Nicole shook her head, trying to clear her mind and calm her nerves. Honestly this was ridiculous. She was a cop for crying out loud, people were going to dislike her on that fact alone, so why did it matter if not everyone here accepted her? And how in the hell was she supposed to protect them if she was busy worrying what they thought of her.

She knew why it mattered, deep down she knew. She knew deep down that if these people, this town did not accept her then she would have thrown away everything she had ever known for nothing. She would not just fail, she would be destroyed.

“I expect a full report on what you learned tomorrow morning,” Nedley called over his shoulder as he headed back to the station.

“Wait, what?” Nicole whipped around to look at him but he had already disappeared out of sight. She wasn’t sure if he had been serious but she should have expected some kind of paperwork to come out of this. She just couldn’t escape it.

Readjusting the stetson on top of her head and squaring her shoulders, she pushed the door open and stepped foot in the saloon.

The first thing she noticed was the smell of stale beer, body odor and overpowering cologne. She wrinkled her nose in disgust as she made her way to an empty stool at the bar. She resisted the urge to gag as she took a seat in between two extremely sweaty and smelly guys. Why couldn’t men shower before going out? Was it too much to ask?

The second thing she noticed was the loud chatter over the country music pouring from the updated jukebox in the far left hand corner of the room. The sound of billiard balls smacking against one another and loud drunken cheers as a ball sank into a pocket.

The third and possibly the most important thing Nicole noticed was the brunette beauty serving a pitcher of beer to a group of men just a few seats down. She watched the brunette laugh and smile at something one of the men said and she found herself smiling as well.

Nicole had never seen a more beautiful smile in all her life. She had never seen a smile light up a room quite like this woman’s smile did. She never wanted to be the cause of a smile as much as she did right now. The woman's smile made her heart pound in her chest, left her breathless, and she wasn’t even smiling at her.

It had been a long time since someone had left Nicole breathless with just a smile and last time it hadn’t ended well for her. She hadn’t come to Purgatory looking to fall in love again. Hell she was barely over the last woman that broke her heart.

She did not need to get hung up on someone else right now, or ever but, Nicole had one weakness in life and that was beautiful women with smiles that stole the breath from her lungs, made her heart beat rapidly in her chest, made her palms sweaty with nerves, smiles that excited her and scared her at the same time.

She usually didn’t just openly stare at women like this. She usually was a little more subtle, more discreet when checking a women out but there was just something about this brunette that threw all her tact out the window.

There was just something about the way she smiled so brightly and the way she bounced with every step that had Nicole finding it hard to look away. She was a goner and she didn’t even know a single thing about the brunette.

Someone clearing their throat in front of her brought Nicole’s attention from the brunette. Her cheeks coloring a light shade of red as her eyes meet the man's standing in front of her.

“What can I get you officer?” A slightly round man with short dirty blonde hair and a salt and pepper goatee asked.

“Uh, just a coke please,” she answered, taking her stetson off and placing it in front of her, fingers idly playing with the brim.

The man nodded and walked away to make the drink without another word.

Nicole’s eyes traveled back to the brunette, watching with rapid interest as she turned in Nicole's direction smiling widely and giving a small wave to a man two seats down from Nicole.

“Waverly Earp,” the bartender from before said as he placed her drink in front of her, following her gaze. “Purgatory’s favorite bartender and actual ray of sunshine.”

Nicole looked back over the brunette she now knew as Waverly. Ray of sunshine.
It seemed to be a fitting description judging by the her smile alone.

Nicole found herself wondering if her personality matched the brightness of her smile and the bounce in her step. Was her smile and her laugh just who she was when she was working? Nicole knew a lot of bartenders and waitress that acted like Waverly on the job but when they weren’t working, they were mean and sometimes down right hateful.

Reaching for the glass of coke sitting in front of her, Nicole picked it up bringing it to her lips, her eyes never leaving the brunette. She knew she should probably look away. She would likely freak Waverly out if she caught her staring but she couldn’t find the will to look away.

Waverly’s beauty, her smile, the soft sway of her hips as she moved from customer to customer, it was all so mesmerizing and Nicole did not want to miss one second of it.

After realizing that she had been holding her drink to her mouth without taking a sip of it, she gulps down half the glass. Instantly regretting the action as it burned its way down her throat.

The man in front of her laughed as she yanked the glass away from her mouth, staring at it as if it had offended her somehow.

“Nedley says to relax and have some fun.”

“How about a little warning next time?” Nicole choked looking up at the grinning man.

“I did say something,” he pointed out, leaning over the bar so only she could hear him, “But you were too busy leering at Waverly.”

“I was not leering,” Nicole nearly shouted in defence, a blush spreading across her cheeks and the tips of her ears when a few patrons looked her way. “I was simple admiring the view.”

“Admiring right,” he teased. “Whatever you say Officer.”

“So Nedley told you to supply me with liquor?” Nicole changed the subject, raising her spiked drink and taking a much smaller sip this time, grimacing as it burned her throat. Jack and coke was not her preferred drink of choice. She rather have a dry martini, definitely shaken not stirred.

“He told me to make sure you did what you were told.” He turned away from her and towards Waverly, who was serving beers to a few customers. “Hey kiddo, I gotta run out for a couple of minutes, get the Officer here another drink when you are done.”

“Sure thing Shorty,” Waverly gestured for him to go as she picked up a clean beer pitcher and moved to the beer taps.

“She’s real friendly, just talk to her,” Shorty said with a wink to Nicole then walked away, leaving her to watch Waverly and leaving Waverly to deal with the half drunk patrons.

Nicole’s heart starting beating faster in her chest when Waverly looked over at her and smiled, holding up a finger to let her know what she would be with her in a minute.

If Nicole thought her smile was beautiful before then when it was directed at her and only her, it was truly breathtaking.

Pulling down on the beer tap handle, beer shot out, soaking the front of Waverly’s white shirt.
“Ah, Jesus,” she yelped, slamming the handle back into place and reaching for a rag to cover her now see through shirt.

A man in a red flannel shirt reached across the bar, snatching the rag up before Waverly could grab ahold of it.

“Champ!” She yelled, face turning as bright as a tomato when the patrons crowded around the bar openly gawked at her chest, Nicole included. Some of the men whistled, while others shouted very lewd comments at her.

Nicole wasn’t proud of herself for just sitting there and staring as Waverly tried covering her chest with one arm but dammit, she couldn’t tear her eyes away and she hated herself for it.

The boy-man, Champ laughed along with his buddies, holding the rag just out of Waverly’s reach. “Come on baby, reach for it.”

“Champ give me the rag.” Waverly glared at him holding one hand out, tapping her foot impatiently. Trying not to look as embarrassed and desperate as she sounded. She wasn’t ashamed of her body, far from it. She knew she was beautiful, sexy even but that didn’t mean she wanted half of Shorty’s to see her breasts.

She may wear extremely short shorts at times and shirts were her breast are practically spilling out of the top but that was on her terms, that was her choice. This wasn’t. Champ had taken the choice away from her and a part of her hated him for it.

Waverly’s pleading tone pulled Nicole eye’s from her chest up to her face. Finally coming to her senses, Nicole downed the rest of her drink and stood, walking around the bar, shrugging her jacket off as she went.

“Waverly,” she called as she walked up behind the woman. Hoping the other woman wouldn’t find it weird that a stranger knew her name and came to her rescue.

Waverly turned at the sound of her name, eyes landing on the tall redheaded officer walking towards her, holding a jacket open to her. Relief washed over her. At least someone in here had a heart and some decency to help her.

Waverly practically jumped into in officer’s arms, allowing her to wrap the jacket around her and lead her out from behind the bar and to a room marked ‘Employees only’.

“Thank you Officer...” Waverly whispered once the door was shut behind them, giving a wave of her hand, indicating for the officer’s name.

“Haught, Nicole Haught,” she introduced herself, watching as Waverly clenched the jacket tightly to her chest, face still a bright red. She touched the other woman's forearm gently, allowing her thumb to rub soft circles on Waverly’s soft skin. “You okay?”

“Yeah, uh just a little embarrassed,” Waverly nodded, looking from the hand on her arm up to concerned eyes. Warmth radiated from where Nicole’s thumb made soft, slow circles on her skin like a slow spreading fire that made her feel alive. A warmth she hadn’t felt from another person’s touch in a long time. A warmth she used to feel every time Champ touched her or smiled at her.

Waverly was even more beautiful up close and Nicole was finding it hard to breath properly. Her chocolate brown eyes sparkled with hints of gold that Nicole could easily get lost in. Her voice, God her voice, as cliched as it was, her voice was like music to Nicole’s ears. A sound she could listen to for hours on end and never get tired of.

“Are you sure?” Nicole asked softly, eyes never leaving Waverly’s as she dropped her hand as to not make her uncomfortable.

Waverly instantly missed the warmth from her touch and tried to think of ways to get the woman’s hand on her again, to feel that warmth again, to feel alive again. She tried to shake the thoughts from her head. She had a boyfriend, she shouldn’t want anyone else’s hands on her but his. She shouldn’t want anyone but him to make her feel alive.

With a nod Waverly headed up the stairs to their right, leaving Nicole trying to decide if she should follow or not.

She wanted to. There was just something about this woman’s presence that Nicole found herself drawn to. She wanted to be around her, make her smile and laugh. She wanted to protect her from D-bags like that guy Champ.

“Uh, Officer,” Waverly called. “I’m um stuck.”

Nicole rushed up the stairs to help. She wasn’t exactly sure what position she was going to find Waverly in but it definitely wasn’t her with her shirt halfway over her head and chest exposed.

“Let me help you,” Nicole walked closer, unable to keep from grinning and trying to keep from looking at Waverly’s bra clad breast. “I got you.”

Nicole grasped the part of the shirt hooked over Waverly’s elbow, fingers brushing smooth skin causing both women to inhale sharply. Working on calming her rapidly beating heart, Nicole untangled Waverly from her shirt and pulled it over her head the rest of the way, dropping it on the floor next to her jacket.

Her eyes instinctively darted down to the smooth skin now exposed to her and she resist the urge to reach out and run her fingers along Waverly’s collarbone.

“Oh, God good thing you’re not some guy right, or this would be really, really awkward..” Waverly’s voice trailed off as Nicole tilted her chin down, looking at her through her eyelashes, smiling so wide that Waverly noticed the dimples on her cheeks.

She was breathtaking. That smile and those dimples were gorgeous and Waverly found herself smiling back. “I owe you one.”

“Alright, well how ‘bout you buy me a cup of coffee? How ‘bout tomorrow afternoon?” She asked, tilting her head to the side and giving Waverly her best flirtatious smile. One she knew for a fact made men and women alike fall all over themselves for her.

She wasn’t entirely sure if she was asking Waverly out on a date or out as friends. She just knew that she wanted to spend more time with this woman and she would do whatever she had to to be able to.

“Oh I can’t.” Waverly rushed out.

“No?” Nicole’s smile fell slightly and she looked down at her feet suddenly nervous. Rejection wasn’t new to her but it still stung especially coming from Waverly.

“I mean I love to but...like, like to uh, but I have plans yeah I’m a planner,” Waverly rambled on as the redhead licked her lips and nodded. “I like to know what I’m doing two or three days in advance.”

“I’m in a relationship, with a boy, man,” she rushed out, not entirely sure why. Maybe it was the way Nicole was looking at her, brown eyes shining and wide smile.

“A boy-man?” Nicole gave a breathy laugh, nodding her head and stepping back. “Yup, I’ve been there, it’s the worst, maybe some other time then.”

Leaning down to pick up her jacket, she gave a slight shrug, confident grin back in place as she pulled her card out of one of the pocket. She hands the card to the shorter woman, letting their fingertips brush.

“I mean it.” With that Nicole walked down the stairs and back into the crowded saloon.

“Officer Haught,” Waverly whispered to herself, staring down at the card in her hand. It was a fitting name. She had never seen anyone make Purgatory’s police uniforms look so good before. Hell she never found another woman attractive before and that thought alone scared her.

What scared her even more was that she wanted to loosen Officer Haught’s red hair from its braid, run her fingers through it and pull her down until their lips met in a kiss. A kiss that she knew that she would feel throughout her entire body.

She knew she should feel guilty about thinking of wanting to kiss someone other than Champ but she didn't. She wasn't stupid she knew the things Champ did with other women behind her back and it may not hurt as much as it did the first time she found out but it still hurt none the less and she refused to hurt Champ in that same way.

Besides they were only thoughts, it's not like she was going to go out and actually kiss the redhead. So it was okay right? As long as she didn't act on them?

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

Two nights later Nicole was woken up by her cell phone ringing on her nightstand. She had just come off a double shift and had barely been asleep for more than two hours, so someone better be dead or dying or else she was going to be really pissed.  With a groan Nicole sat up slowly trying not to disturb the tabby asleep on her legs, stretching her muscles then reaching for her phone.

“Officer Haught.” Voice thick with sleep and trying to suppress a yawn, she spoke into the phone.

“Officer Haught, it’s uh Waverly, Waverly Earp,” the voice on the other end of the line trembling slightly.

All thoughts of being pissed off about being woken up went out the window when she heard the tremble in Waverly’s voice.

“Are you okay?” Nicole asked, using her shoulder to hold the phone to her ear as she moved the  cat off her legs.

“I have a flat tire.”

Nicole looked over to the alarm clock on her nightstand. “Waverly, it is five in the morning, why are you driving around so early?”

“I couldn’t sleep and I usually drive around when I can’t,” Waverly’s voice was apologetic as she rambled on. “I’m sorry for waking you up but, no one else would answer their phones, I didn’t know who else to call other than the station and I would just change it myself but Champ never put the spare tire back.”

Nicole put her phone on speaker as she turned the bedside lamp on, illuminating her bedroom in a soft glow. The tabby beside her glaring at her. She stood looking for her uniform pants  as she listened to Waverly continue to ramble.

She found it endearing when Waverly seemed to be unable to stop herself from rambling when she’s nervous. She could listen to Waverly ramble for the rest of her life and never get tired of it.

“It’s okay Waverly, where are you?” Nicole asked, finally finding the pants she had kicked off a couple of hours ago. After shimmying into her pants, she grabbed her uniform shirt and slipped it on over her tank top, not bothering with buttoning it. She gave her cat affectionate pat on her head, picked up her phone then left the room in search of her boots.

“Town limits,” Waverly answered as Nicole slipped her socked feet into her boots. “Just pass the Purgatory sign.”

Nicole wanted to question why she was so far out. She wanted to ask why Waverly hadn’t been able to sleep. She wanted to ask why her voice had trembled when she first spoke, but didn’t feel it was her place. At least not yet.

“Okay, I’ll be there soon,” Nicole said, tying her hair up in a messy bun.

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered, that same tremble in her voice and before Nicole could say anything else she hung up.

With a sigh, Nicole slipped her phone in her pocket and walked to her kitchen sink, turning on the cold water. Leaning down she cupped her hands and moved them under the stream of water, allowing them to filled before splashing the cool water on her face, trying to wake herself up.

She didn’t like driving with little to no sleep but Waverly needed her, how could she say no?

Nicole had a weakness for beautiful women and Waverly, Waverly was by far the most beautiful woman Nicole ever laid eyes on, so of course when Waverly called Nicole would go running. It went beyond her being a police officer, it went beyond protecting and serving Purgatory.

Ever since she saved Waverly from the leering patrons of Shorty’s the other night, she wanted to keep her safe. She wanted to get to know her and protect her. Not that she thought Waverly couldn’t protect herself. No, Nicole got the feeling that Waverly could take care of herself, protect herself if needed. Nicole just wanted to be the one to do it.

Nicole turned the water off and grabbed the hand towel sitting on the counter by the sink, patting her face dry she moved to the fridge, opening the door and pulled out a can of red bull.

She chugged half the can as she grabbed her keys and walked out of her apartment and towards her beat up 72’ Chevy Cheyenne.

The thing was older than her (obviously), had more bents in it than she could count and had more rust on it’s frame than there was paint left but, she loved this truck. It took two summers of non stop working before she had saved up enough to buy it. Her brothers and her sister had all gotten cars from their parents but, Nicole wanted to work for hers. She wanted to prove that she could do anything she set her mind to.

Opening the driver door, Nicole climbed into the cab, slamming the door closed and putting the key in the ignition.

“Come on baby, come on,” Nicole whispered as she turned the key. The engine sputtered for a few seconds before starting up normally.

She patted the dashboard and smile widely. Her baby had never let her down before, though she really needed to get it to a mechanic before it died on her completely.

Pulling out of her parking space, Nicole headed towards the town limits, towards Waverly humming along to whatever song was playing softly from the radio.


Twenty minutes later Nicole was pulling her truck up next to Waverly’s red jeep. Not seeing Waverly anywhere around the jeep, Nicole shut off her truck and stepped out of the cab.

“Waverly?” She called out, worry lacing her tone, as she stride towards the jeep. Two girls had already gone missing and if something had happened to Waverly before she got here, she would never forgive herself.

On instinct she reached for the gun on her belt, coming up empty, forgetting that she hadn’t actually put her belt on before leaving the house.

She could practically hear her father’s voice in her head.

Never, ever leave home without your service weapon. A police officer always prepares for the worst.

Of course he had been talking to her brothers and not her but Nicole had took the advice, like all his advice, to heart. There had been a few times during her childhood where her father had to use his service weapon while off duty, which had driven the point home to all his kids.

For a brief second she wandered if he would be disappointed in her. Then she remember that he had been disappointed in her for a long time now so she guessed it didn’t really matter. Except it did matter, Nicole had spent her whole life trying to make her parents proud, while still being the person she wanted to be. Yet it had never been enough for them.

Shaking the thoughts of her father from her mind, Nicole’s eyes scanned the front seat of the jeep. There was no sign of Waverly but her phone sat in the passenger seat, so Nicole hoped that she wasn’t far.

“Waverly,” she called again, moving to check the backseat.

Curled up in a ball in the backseat, Waverly who was already so small, looked even smaller. Her eyes were closed but in the faint morning light, Nicole could see the dried tears on her cheek.

What could have this woman, who seemed so full of life and happiness the other night, crying herself to sleep in the backseat of a jeep on the side of the road?

Nicole leaned over the side of the jeep, for once thankful for her height, grasped Waverly’s shoulder gently and shook her hard enough to wake her but not hurt her.

“Come on Waverly, wake up.”

Waverly grunts in her sleep and rolls over, pushing her face into the leather backing of the seat. Loose strands of hair stuck to her damp cheek and another tear slid down from behind closed eyes.

And Nicole’s heart broke for a woman she knew nothing about. Other than her name, that she worked at Shorty’s, that she was a planner and that she had a boy-man.

A boy-man that hadn’t answered the phone when Waverly had needed him. A boy-man that probably didn’t even realize that Waverly was gone. A boy-man who probably didn’t care that his girlfriend had cried herself to sleep at the edge of town. A boy-man who Nicole did not know but knew that he did not deserve Waverly Earp.

“Waverly,” Nicole whispered more to herself than the sleeping woman, using the pad of her thumb to wipe away the tear slowly sliding down the sleeping woman’s cheek.

Waverly whimpered at the contact and leaned into the touch, causing Nicole’s heart to clench painfully in her chest.

“What happened to you? Who hurt you?”

It was weird and fucking creepy to stand there watching a stranger sleep while you caress their cheek, Nicole knew that but dammit she didn’t care. That need to protect this woman spiked in her chest again.

Waverly was sad and hurting in a way that Nicole did not understand yet and she was going to befriend Waverly. She was going to get to the root of Waverly’s pain and she was going to do everything in her power to make it better, to heal whatever wounds Waverly bared.

Nicole knew this feeling in her chest. She had felt it before, a long time ago and she did not want to feel it. She did not want to open herself up again, she did not want to lay everything out for someone else to see then have it all thrown back in her face again.

She did not want to love another person again but she knew from the second she had laid eyes on Waverly Earp that she was a goner.

Waverly’s eyes slowly started to open and Nicole snatched her hand away, giving Waverly a small smile.

“I thought I was going to have throw you over my shoulder and carry you to the truck.”

Waverly rubbed her eyes as Nicole stood up straight so she was no longer leaning over the side of the jeep.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” Waverly said voice rough from sleep and crying earlier. Her cheeks turning a light shade of red as Nicole continued to smile at her with her big brown eyes full of the same concern from the other night.

“It’s okay, let’s get you home so you can sleep,” Nicole offered her hand to Waverly.

The shorter woman placed her hand in Nicole’s soft warm hand and allowed the officer to help her out of the jeep. Once she was standing next to Nicole, the redhead leaned over the front seat of the jeep and grabbed Waverly’s phone and keys.

Nicole lead Waverly to the passenger side of her truck, opening the door for her and helping her up into the cab then handed her the keys and phone with that same smile on her face.

The same smile that had stole the breath from her lungs two nights ago. The same smile that made Waverly feel alive. The same smile that made Waverly feel seen and cared for by a woman that she did not know.

Was it the loneliness that she had been feeling lately that made her feel like she could trust this stranger? Was it the desperate need to really be seen by someone that made her want to trust this stranger? Was it the sadness she felt like she was drowning in that made her want to tell this stranger everything that was wrong, everything about her?

Waverly looked over to the redhead, studying her as she drove. She wasn’t as well put together as she had been two nights ago but that didn’t take away from her beauty.

If anything she was more beautiful with her hair twisted into a messy bun, a few strands falling into her face. The creases in her pants were long gone and slightly baggy from being worn one too many times between washes. Her shirt was untucked, unbuttoned, wrinkled and the sleeves were pushed up her arms, showing off toned biceps that Waverly found slightly arousing.

Never had Waverly wanted to run her fingers along someone’s biceps and feel them flex under her touch as much as she did Nicole’s.  Champ had nice biceps, ones that were definitely more defined than Nicole’s from spending his days working as a ranch hand but, there was something distinctively different about Nicole’s biceps. Something Waverly couldn’t put her finger on.

Champ.

She did not want to think about him right now. Or their fight, or his half assed attempt to make up for the other night. Eventually she would have to deal with him but right now, she rather enjoy the company of Officer Haught.

“Thank you for coming to get me, I owe you again,” Waverly whispered smiling softly at Nicole.

“You’re welcome, I’m happy to help,” Nicole smiled back at her.  

“How about we go for that coffee?”

Nicole kept her tone and face serious as she stared out at the road. “I would love to but,”

Waverly’s heart sank and her smile faltered at the ‘but’. She guessed she was going back to Shorty’s, back to her tiny apartment, back to Champ.

“I got plans, yeah I’m a planner, I like to know what I’m doing at least two or three days in advance.”

Nicole turns to her and grins, her dimples on full display and big brown eyes shining bright with amusement and it had Waverly’s heart fluttering in her chest.

“You’re kinda an ass Officer Haught,” Waverly said, punching the redhead’s shoulder lightly.  She felt comfortable with Nicole. She felt like she has known her much longer than two days. She felt safe with Nicole. She felt like she could be herself, something she hadn’t felt with another person before. It was nice and terrifying at the same time.

“I know,” Nicole’s grin widens and suddenly her hand is on Waverly’s thigh and her eyes are darting between Waverly and the road. “I would love to have coffee with you Waverly.”


Nicole parked her truck in front of the only coffee shop in town. The only other place besides the station that she spent most of her time. The coffee was decent and the barista Amy was friendly and cute, which was a plus.

With a smile to Waverly, Nicole stepped out of the truck, walking around the other side quickly and opening the passenger door for the shorter woman.

“Such a gentlewoman,” Waverly teased walking towards the coffee shop with Nicole right behind her.

“My Mama practically beat manners into me and my siblings,” Nicole mumbled, eyes glued to Waverly’s jean clad ass. “No child of hers was going to run around acting like a heathen.”

“I’m sure she’ll be proud to know it stuck,” Waverly said as she held the coffee shop door open for Nicole.

“That’s debatable,” Nicole nodded her thanks and walked past Waverly into the shop.

Waverly wanted to question what Nicole had meant by that but before she got the chance the barista behind the counter was talking to Nicole.

“The usual Officer Haught?” Amy asked, flirty smile firmly in place.

“Of course, you know you make the best cappuccino in town,” Nicole replied, pressing her hip against the counter and leaning on her elbow.

“I make the only cappuccinos in town.”

Nicole gave a shrug, lopsided grin on her face and turned towards Waverly. “What are you having?”

“Just a black coffee.”

“Alright, well we will have a cappuccino, a coffee and throw in a couple of doughnuts,” Nicole said pulling her wallet from her back pocket and taking a twenty dollar bill out and placing it on the counter. “Keep the change.”

“You’re sweet,” Amy smiled, placing her left hand on Nicole’s bicep, her eyes raking up and down Nicole’s body before stopping at her chest.  “Does Nedley know your uniform isn’t up to regulations Officer?”

Waverly felt something close to jealousy in the pit of her stomach as she watched the scene unfold in front of her. It couldn’t be jealousy though, she was with Champ and she definitely did not want to feel Nicole’s bicep for herself. At least that’s what she tried to convince herself.

“What Nedley doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” Nicole winked when Amy’s blue eyes finally left her chest and meet hers and flexed her arm. “Besides I’m off duty.”

She might not be looking for a relationship right now but that didn’t mean she couldn’t flirt a little. After all it was harmless right?

Definitely jealousy, Waverly was definitely jealous of Amy.

“You two go sit down, I’ll bring your order over once they’re done.”

“Thank Amy,” Nicole said with another smile to the woman then turned to Waverly, holding her hand out indicating for her to pick a table.

“She likes you,” Waverly commented as she walked towards a table far from the counter and Amy.

“Nah, just harmless flirting.” The redhead pulled a chair out for Waverly before sitting down herself.

“You don’t know do you?” Waverly asked, elbow propped up on the table, head resting in her palm as she gazed at the officer.

How could this woman who had such an air of confidence about her from the moment Waverly laid eyes on her not know how beautiful she was?

“Hmmm?” Nicole raised an eyebrow at her.

“You are gorgeous Officer Haught.” Waverly found herself saying before she could stop herself.

It wasn’t a lie. The officer sitting across from her was gorgeous, probably the most gorgeous woman Waverly had ever seen. Waverly thought all women were gorgeous in their own way but Officer Haught? Officer Haught was the first woman she felt herself attracted to.

Nicole turned a shade of red that almost matched her hair and looked away. “Nicole, you can call me Nicole.”

Blushing Nicole was by far Waverly’s favorite Nicole.

“Here you go Officer Haught,” Amy sat Nicole’s cappuccino on the table in front of her, followed by a plate with two glazed donuts then Waverly’s coffee. “Earp.”

Amy said her last name the same way almost everyone in town did, like it was a curse, like it left a bitter taste in their mouth.

Waverly was used to it of course, it never really bothered her before but now, in front of Nicole, Waverly felt ashamed. For the first time in her life, Waverly was ashamed of who she was, of her last name.

“Thanks Amy,” Nicole smiled up at her but it wasn’t as bright as before, it was strained. She did not like the way that Amy glared at Waverly, or the way she practically hissed ‘Earp’.

Nicole brought her cappuccino to her lips, taking a small sip and humming her approval, before setting it back down. She waited until Amy was back behind the counter before she said anything else.

“Why do they say your last name like that?” She asked pushing the plate of donuts across the table to Waverly.

“It’s a long story,” Waverly mumbled, bringing her own coffee to her lips, hoping that Nicole would drop the subject, at least for now.

She wasn’t ready to dive into her family’s history. She wasn’t ready to tell Nicole about her Daddy and sister Willa dying when she was six. She wasn’t ready to tell Nicole about her sister Wynonna being labeled crazy not long after. She wasn’t ready for Nicole to think the Earps were crazy and cursed like everyone else.

No, Waverly wanted Nicole to know her as her, the real Waverly. Not the Waverly whose mother left when she was four. Not the Waverly whose father and older sister was murdered when she was six. Not the Waverly whose only remaining family was put in a psychiatric hospital after she started talking about demons killing their family then was put in foster care. Not the Waverly who's tried so hard to be everything everyone has wanted her to be. Not the Waverly whose sister left when she was eighteen. Not the Waverly who's constantly shutting her brain down for Champ.

She just wants someone to know her as just Waverly, not one of the crazy Earps, or Champs girlfriend, or Shorty’s bartender, just Waverly.

“Okay another time then.” She’s smiling at her again and Waverly feels warmth spread throughout her entire body. “So what would you like to talk about Miss Earp?”

The way that Nicole said ‘Earp’ with that slight accent of hers, with a smile instead of a sneer, with a soft breathy tone instead of hissed in hatred or disgust had Waverly feeling seen for who she was and not just her last name.

“How did you end up in Purgatory?” Waverly asked, picking up one of the donuts and taking a bit as she studied Nicole.

The easygoing smile that had graced her lips seconds ago was gone, replaced with a tight lipped smile that didn’t quite reach her usual expressive eyes and Waverly missed it.

“Oh you know, rookies get placed wherever they are needed, didn’t really have a choice.” Nicole said with a wave of her hand.

“So you had absolutely no say in the matter?” Waverly asked. “They can just uproot your life and you don’t even get a say?”

There was hesitates in Nicole’s brown eyes and her fingers idly played with her coffee cup. Waverly reached across the table, placing her hand on top of Nicole’s, stilling her fingers.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Waverly whispered, both of them staring at their hands. Waverly could feel that warmth under her palm again and suddenly it's like a fire spreading through her veins when Nicole places her other hand over Waverly’s, her calloused yet still soft thumb rubbing soft circles.

“I didn’t mean to pry,” Waverly squeaks out, eyes still on their joined hands, watching the slow movement of the other woman’s thumb.

The touch was tender and light as if she was scared that anything more would send Waverly pulling away and she was. She didn’t want this moment, whatever it was to end.

She was well aware of Waverly’s boy-man, she knew she should pull away, respect the fact that Waverly was taken but, Waverly’s skin was the softest, smoothest Nicole had ever felt and she found it hard to pull away. There was a spark where their hands touched, a heat that Nicole hadn’t felt before and Nicole wasn’t ready to let it slip away. She felt alive for the first time in over a year and a part of her hated it.

She did not want this. She did not want these feelings. Nicole had come here wanting to be a police officer, a damn good one at that and nothing more. She wanted to build her career up, she wanted to prove to her father that she could be a good cop, that she was cut out for this, that she could do this even though he told her time and time again that she couldn’t.

Nicole Haught had not come to Purgatory looking for love, hell she wasn’t even looking for friendship until she laid eyes on Waverly. But now, she wanted to be Waverly’s friend. She wanted to know everything about the woman sitting across from her. She wanted whatever Waverly would give her.

And she was going tell Waverly that until a gruff voice she knew instantly spoke up from behind her, causing Waverly to jerk away from her touch.

“Officer Haught, didn’t you just come off a double shift?” Sheriff Nedley asked, coming around so he could actually see his Officer’s face, tipping his hat in greeting to Waverly.

“Yes Sir,” Nicole answered, sitting up a bit straighter and trying to fix her uniform. Though she may be off duty, she did not want her boss to see her wearing her uniform this way.

“Don’t you think you should be getting some sleep before your shift at two?” He asked, nodding towards the clock hanging on the wall behind Waverly’s head, which read 6:15.

Waverly felt bad and a little bit guilty for having waken Nicole up after a double shift and keeping her up for coffee, especially seeing as she had to be back at work in eight hours.

For a fleeting moment, Nicole resented the man hovering over them for interrupting her and Waverly then instantly felt guilty for it. Nedley had been nothing but nice to her since she arrived in town. He had taken her under his wing, pushed her to get to know the people here and to make friends. Hell he even fixed the pipe that burst under her kitchen sink two days after she moved in (even though she was capable of fixing it herself. Her grandpa made sure she never needed to rely on a man).

Nicole knew she should probably be in bed or at least heading home to get a couple of hours of sleep before her shift but she didn’t want to leave Waverly. She liked spending time with her, being around her, talking to her and she didn’t want it to end just yet, but she was a cop first and right now duty came before her personal life, before potential friendships.

“Yes Sir,” Nicole looked over at Waverly with an apologetic smile. “We were just getting ready to leave.”

Waverly tried to keep the disappointment off her face as she watched Nicole shove half of her doughnut in her mouth and down the rest of her cappuccino to wash it down. She wasn’t ready to leave just yet. She wasn’t ready to go back to Champ yet.

“Ready?” Nicole asked, standing up, trying not to let her disappointment seep into her tone.

With a reluctant nod, Waverly stood as well, giving Sheriff Nedley a polite smile. “Sheriff.”

“Have a good day Waverly.” Nedley smiled at her and turned towards the counter. “I’ll see you later this afternoon Officer Haught.”

He was glad that Nicole seemed to making friends and with Waverly Earp of all people, who has been beaten down by life at every turned and deserved more friends, better friends than Champ Hardy and Stephanie.

“Yes Sir, have a good morning Sir.” With a nod to Nedley, the redhead led Waverly towards to door with a hand on her lower back. “Thanks for the coffee Amy.”

“It was my pleasure Officer Haught,” Amy called after their retreating forms, causing Waverly to roll her eyes.

Honestly how did Nicole not see that Amy liked her? That her flirting was more than harmless?

They walked silently back to Nicole’s truck, Nicole following Waverly around to the passenger side to open the door for her and to help her in again, before jogging around the front and getting in as well.

Once they were out of the parking space and on their way to Shorty’s, Nicole glanced over towards Waverly, who had the side of her head pressed against the cool window, eyes closed and fingers playing with the hem of her shirt.

Something was wrong. Nicole didn’t want to pry, didn’t want cross some line, didn’t want to overstep some boundary but, she also couldn’t just sit there and do nothing when she might be able to help.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry.”

Nicole was not sure what she expect Waverly to say but ‘I’m sorry’ definitely wasn’t it. What could she possibly have to be sorry for?

“You’re sorry? For what?” Nicole asked, slowing the truck down as she looked over at the other woman.

“For waking you up after working a double, for dragging you out of bed to come help me, for making you go for coffee with me,” Waverly stated as if it was obvious and maybe to her it was but it wasn’t to Nicole.

“You did not make me do anything Waverly, I could have called the station and had whoever was on duty go get you but, I did it because I wanted to help.” She pulled the truck to a stop in front of Shorty’s, put it in park and turned to face the other woman. “I wasn’t lying when I said I was happy to help.”

How was it that this woman that Waverly has barely known two days makes her feel so cared for? And where was the catch? Because there was always a catch, nothing ever came free to Waverly.

“Why?” Waverly couldn’t help but ask. She needed to know what the catch was, what the price for Nicole’s generosity was.

“Because of my one rule in life, always help a pretty woman in need,” Nicole smirked and winked at her but her smirked dropped and her tone grew serious when Waverly’s eyes clouded with a emotion Nicole couldn’t decipher. “In all seriousness, my grandpa taught me that if someone needed help then you had a duty to help them, I just try to live by that.”

“He sounds like a great man, thank you again,” Waverly’s lips lifted in a small smile that didn’t reach her eyes as she reached for the door handle and popped the door open, getting ready to slide out of the cab when Nicole grabbed her wrist stopping her.

“I can pick you up an hour before my shift if you want, we can get you a new tire and I can change it for you,” Nicole offered, her fingers stroking the smooth skin on the inside of Waverly’s wrist.

“I’d like that,” Waverly said softly, her eyes fixated on the way Nicole’s fingers moved across her skin.

That warmth was settling in her stomach once more and Waverly wanted nothing more than to stay in this truck with Nicole, with Nicole’s fingers chasing away the loneliness and sadness that had crept inside of her but she couldn’t. She had already taken up too much of Nicole’s time and she really needed to let Nicole go home and get some sleep for work.

“Thank you again Nicole,” With one last smile, this one lighting up her brown eyes just a bit, Waverly got out of the truck and walked towards Shorty’s.

“Anytime Waverly Earp,” Nicole called out the window, waiting for Waverly to get inside before putting her truck in gear and heading home.

Chapter Text

Nicole rolled out of bed for the second time that day around noon. Her head was pounding from lack of sleep, her muscles were stiff but she didn’t care. She had gotten to spend some of the morning with Waverly Earp and she was going to see her again in a little less than an hour, and that made her weariness worth it.

Time spent with Waverly had put a skip in Nicole’s step and a permanent smile on her face. Today was going to be a good day and nothing was going to ruin it. Nothing at all.

Turning on the radio that sat atop her dresser and turning the volume up enough to be heard over the shower, Nicole danced towards her bathroom. Hips swaying and singing along to whatever song was playing, she stripped leaving a trail of clothes from her dresser to the bathroom.

After a quick shower, Nicole sat down in front of her small vanity and began brushing her hair out. Once her red hair is brushed out, she begins to braid it the way her mother had taught her when she was 9, watching her movements in the mirror, that smile still there.

She was happy, really truly happy here in this small town, in her small apartment with her grumpy cat, working the shifts no one else wanted at a job she loved, at a job she knew she was meant for. She had not expected to love it here so much, so fast.

She hadn’t expected to feel so at home here in such little time.

No, she thought it would take months for her to feel like Purgatory was home but maybe that was because of her father. Maybe it was because he kept telling her that this town would never be her home, that these people would never accept her and she was so fucking determined to prove him wrong. Maybe it was because he told her not to come home when she failed and she was so determined not to fail.

Maybe the reason she felt like she belong here in Purgatory was because no one told her she couldn’t do something. Maybe it was because her grandpa told her that home was where the heart was and her heart was in this job. Maybe it was because her grandpa was the only one that believed she could make it here, make it as a cop.

Maybe she felt like she belonged here because of a beautiful woman with a breathtaking smile and a touch that sent her whole body on fire. Maybe she felt like she belonged here because every moment in her life, every choice she made had been leading her here.

She wasn’t sure of the reason and honestly right now, she did not care what the reason was. All that matter was that she was happy and for the first time in a long time she felt like she belonged.

Shaking the thoughts of her disapproving father from her head, Nicole finished her braid and moved to get dressed in her uniform.

Once dressed, Nicole checked her appearance in her full length mirror. Satisfied that there was no hairs sticking out of her braid and that her uniform was in order, she grabbed her phone, wallet and keys from her dresser, shoving them into her pockets.

Nicole walked down the hallway leading to the front door, with a ball of fur chasing after her and meowing at her. “McGonagall, I fed you this morning, I’m not feeding  you again.”

McGonagall huffed at her owner and left the hall with a flick of her tail.

The damn cat was always trying to get Nicole to feed her twice a day and sometimes it worked. When it had been a long day at work and Nicole could barely remember getting out of bed that morning, let alone whether or not she fed McGonagall. The cat would run in the kitchen, sit by her food bowl and meow at her owner until she was fed.

Nicole loved her grumpy, stubborn, constantly wanting attention at the worst times cat. She’s had her for four years. Nicole found her as a kitten in parking lot with her girlfriend at the time. They had actually fought over who got to take the kitten home for a good two hours before Nicole convinced her girlfriend that a farm was a better place for the kitten than a extremely small two bedroom apartment with no yard.

McGonagall had been the one constant thing in Nicole's life and maybe that was sad and pathetic but, Nicole took comfort in it.

At the end of the day Nicole could count on McGonagall to be there waiting for her, begging to be fed and wanting attention as Nicole stripped off her uniform and tried to put the stress of the day behind her.

Nicole rolled her eyes at the cat’s retreating form as she walked to the gun safe by the front door. Punching in the code and opening the small safe door, She pulled her utility belt and service weapon out. She placed her gun on top of the safe before putting her belt on.

Once the belt was secured around her waist, she placed her Glock into the holster on her right hip. She ran her fingers over the thick smooth leather, going through a checklist in her head as her fingers moved over each piece of equipment. A routine she did before every shift. One she had seen her father and grandpa do a thousand times.

Extra clips for her Glock- Check.

Radio- Check. She pinned the microphone attached to it to her left breast pocket.

Handcuffs- Check.

Pepperspray- Check.

Taser- Check.

She slipped her knife into the right pocket of her pants and closed the safe. The knife wasn’t standard issued but Nicole carried it anyways, just in case she needed it.

She had read plenty of police reports, heard plenty of stories from other officers, her father and grandpa included to know that a knife was an invaluable tool for an officer of the law. Not just for self defence if something were to happen to her pistol but, also to help save lives.

She had heard a lot of horror stories of people being trapped in burning cars by a stuck seatbelt and the officer on scene not being able to get them out in time because they did not have the proper tool to cut the seatbelt with. And Nicole was not going to let that happen to her. She was going to be prepared for any and all emergencies. She was going to save lives not stand by helplessly and watch them die.

Her grandpa always told her she couldn’t prepare for everything, that sometimes the job throws things at you that you never expected. Maybe he was right and that was true but that would not stop Nicole from trying.

Nicole placed her stetson on top of her head, grabbed her coat and was out the door.


Nicole pulled up to Shorty’s in her police cruiser fifteen minutes til 1:00. She had drove just under the speed limit and still managed to get here early. She did not want to seem to eager to see Waverly again and end up scaring her off but she was eager. She was so fucking eager to see Waverly again, see her smile again, to spend time with her again.

She wanted nothing more than to make Waverly smile again, make her laugh. She wanted nothing more than to feel Waverly’s hand in her own again. She wanted nothing more than to caress her cheek again.

She wanted, no needed to get to know every little thing about Waverly. She needed to protect her. She needed to find out whatever had her crying alone in the back of her jeep so early in the morning. She needed to find out why there was pain and some emotion she couldn’t describe behind those brown eyes. She wanted to be there for Waverly, plain and simple.

She looked at herself in the rearview mirror, straightening her stetson then locking eyes with her reflection. “Get it together Nicole, she’s just a girl.”

It was a lie. Nicole was not sure what Waverly was yet, who Waverly was yet, but she knew for sure that she wasn’t ‘just’ anything. No, there was something special about Waverly, something that drew Nicole to her like a moth to a flame.

For a brief moment she wandered if she would suffer the same fate as a moth. Would getting close to Waverly end up destroying her? Breaking her heart? Would she survive it? Would she care either way?

With a deep steadying breath, Nicole got out of her cruiser and walked towards Shorty’s, hands automatically grabbing her belt.

It was something she had picked up from her grandpa. He always had a firm grip on his belt, his back straight and shoulders squared, Colt 44 proudly displayed at his hip, badged pinned to his chest. He had always reminded Nicole of a sheriff from some old western and she had wanted to be just like him when she was younger. She still wanted to be like him, she wanted to be the same type of cop that he had been.

Nicole entered the saloon, nodding her head and smiling at the few day drinkers scattered around the place. One’s she would not doubt have to give a ride home at some point today.

“Well if it isn’t Officer Haught,” Shorty called from behind the bar, waving her over. “Waverly’s knight in shining stetson.”

Nicole smiled as she made her way over to him. “Knight in shining stetson?”

She had only met the man once and they had only talked briefly but, Nicole really liked Shorty. He was nice to her and welcoming, something she really appreciated.

“Yup, first you saved Waverly from leering patrons and Champ,” Shorty glared at the boy-man playing pool with some of his friends. “Then you went and picked her up this morning and now here you are taking her to get a new tire, definitely a knight if I’ve ever seen one.”

“I’m just doing my job,” Nicole leaned against the bar, drumming her fingers against the smooth wood.

“Oh I’m sure,” Shorty gave her a knowing smile as she ducked her head to try and hide the blush creeping up her cheeks.

“Thank you for being here for her the other night when I couldn’t be, you shouldn’t have had to step in.” He looked back over at Champ with a shake of his head. He honestly did not see what Waverly saw in him.

Champ was a piss poor excuse for a man. He was a sexist pig who thought Waverly’s only redeeming qualities were her looks. Champ did not deserve Waverly in the slightest and Shorty wished that she would see that. He wished she would find someone who looked at her like her Uncle Curtis looked at Gus, or his tomatoes.

“But I am thankful you did.”

Waverly was like the daughter that Shorty never had. He cared for her deeply, loved her like a daughter. He did all he could to protect her the best to her ability but he couldn’t be there all the time and it was nice to have someone else, albeit a complete stranger, looking out for her as well.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Nicole said earnestly and Shorty did not doubt that statement.

“Damn baby, you look terrible,” Champ’s voice brought Nicole’s and Shorty’s gaze to him, where they followed his line of sight to Waverly.

Waverly had long since changed out of the jeans she had been wearing this morning, now wearing slightly baggy grey sweatpants that hang loosely off her hips. The tank top she had been wearing had been replaced with one of her Shorty’s shirts, that was tied in the back, showing off abs that Nicole desperately wanted to run her fingers along.

Hair that is usually done up in some sort of braid was now in a messy bun. There were bags and dark circles under her eyes. She looked absolutely exhausted but Nicole still found her to be as beautiful as ever.

“Thanks Champs,” Waverly rolled her eyes at him and walked passed him to the bar, to Nicole and Shorty. “That’s exactly what every girl wants to hear.”

“Come on baby, I didn’t mean it like that,” Champ said, moving from the pool table to grab Waverly’s hand and stop her.

He spins Waverly around to face him and pulls her into him, connecting their lips in a sloppy kiss.

Nicole shifts her gaze away from the couple, a look of disgust crossing her features as she coughed to cover her gag.

“Me too, kid me too,” Shorty mumbled looking every bit of disgusted as Nicole felt.

Usually Nicole could care less about PDA. Usually she found it cute and nice to see a couple so comfortable in their relationship, so comfortable with each other that they would show some sort of affection in public, but seeing Waverly and Champ make out?

It made Nicole feel psychically ill. It made her stomach churn with jealousy. It made her want to walk over there and rip them apart and drag Waverly away from him.

Champ pressed himself harder into Waverly, his hands wandering down to grip her ass as he shoved his tongue into her mouth and Waverly let him. That’s what good girlfriends did after all right? They let their boyfriends kiss them whenever they wanted even if they weren’t necessarily in the mood?

PDA was nothing new to Waverly. Champ was often overly affectionate in public, especially around new people (although new people were few and far between in Purgatory). It was like he thought that he had to show, to prove to everyone that Waverly was his and his alone.

Normally Waverly did not mind how handsy Champ got in public and sometimes it would even excite her, knowing that people were watching but now? With Nicole watching as Champ shoved his tongue in her mouth, pressing his hardening member into her? She was embarrassed, uncomfortable, not excited in the least bit.

She did not want Nicole to see her like this, like she was Champ’s property to claim anytime he pleased, regardless of her feelings.

After what felt like a lifetime but in reality was only a minute or two, Nicole cleared her throat loudly. “Um, hate to interrupt but if we don’t leave soon Waverly, I’m going to be late for my shift.”

Suppressing a grateful sigh, Waverly pushed away from Champ and turned towards Nicole and Shorty. Her cheeks flushed a bright red but from embarrassment instead of arousal.

“I’ll see you later,” Champ purred, slapping Waverly’s ass as she walked away causing her to squeak and her face to turn a brighter red.

“Ready?” She asked Nicole, not quite looking the officer in the eyes. She was too embarrassed.

Nicole gave her a small smile that eased some of Waverly’s embarrassment and nodded her head. “After you.”

“Officer Haught!” Shorty called towards the officer’s retreating form.

Nicole turned around, walking backwards. “Yes?”

“Come by on your next night off, drinks will be on the house for helping Waverly out.”

“Sure thing,” Nicole beamed, tipping her hat at the older man then turned back around, following Waverly out of the saloon.

They walked side by side quietly to Nicole’s squad car, stealing brief glances at one another.

Nicole could not get over how even though Waverly was a complete mess, she still managed to look so breathtaking. She could not believe that Champ had told Waverly she looked terrible. Waverly was beautiful no matter what and she deserved to be told so everyday.

Waverly was hoping that Nicole did not think less of her because of what she witnessed with Champ. She did not want Nicole to think who she was with Champ was who she really was deep down, underneath all the pretending and being who everyone else wanted her to be.

The redhead walked to the passenger side of the squad car with Waverly, opening the door for her, like she had done early this morning, making Waverly’s heart flutter in her chest.

Nicole was so chivalrous unlike Champ and it was so refreshing and nice and definitely something Waverly could get used to.

Once Waverly was settled in the car, Nicole leaned down smiling at her.

“Despite what Champ says, you look beautiful Waverly.”


Nicole pulled the squad car in front of Waverly’s jeep and parked, shutting the car off and leaving the keys in the ignition. She turned and smiled at Waverly. 

The drive to the mechanic’s and out to Waverly’s jeep had been filled with nothing but the hum of the engine and the crackle of the police radio but, it hadn’t been an awkward, uncomfortable silence.

For once in her life Waverly hadn’t felt the need to fill the silence that had surrounded them. She was comfortable enough with Nicole just to sit and enjoy the ride, enjoy each others company.

She was still reeling from the fact that Nicole had told her that she was beautiful, even when she knew for a fact that she did look terrible. Champ had not been lying but that did not mean he had to say it to her face.

Waverly had been called beautiful her whole life, by Gus, by Shorty, by her Uncle Curtis, by Champ and half of Purgatory (most who were drunk off their asses) but it had always been when she was dressed up, or wearing makeup, when she had actually put an effort into her appearance.

Nicole had been the first to tell her she was beautiful when she knew that she was mess, when she knew that she looked like death warmed over (lack of sleep did that to a person). Nicole had actually made her feel beautiful, just by saying those simple words.

“Waverly?” Nicole’s voice was full of concern, her upper body turned towards the shorter woman, hand coming to rest on top of Waverly’s. “Are you okay?”

Waverly blinked slowly at Nicole then nodded her head yes. “I’m sorry I’m okay, just spaced out, what were you saying?”

Nicole studied her for a moment, not quite believing her but letting it slide for now. “I said you can wait here if you want, it won’t take long to change the tire.”

“No no no,” Waverly unbuckles her seat belt and starts getting out of the car with Nicole doing the same. “I want to help.”

Nicole gave her a dimpled grin as she unbuttoned the cuffs of her sleeves and rolled them up past her elbows.

Waverly’s eyes follow the movement, watching the way the pale skin of Nicole’s arm is exposed slowly. Her eyes move higher up Nicole’s arm, where her uniform is pulled taut over defined biceps. She bites down on her lower lip as Nicole’s arms flex when she pulls the new tire from the trunk of the squad car.

“You coming Earp?” Nicole asked, shaking Waverly from her staring as she rolled the tire towards the jeep.

And once again Nicole said her last name with that same breathy tone from this morning. With a dimpled grin gracing her face and a wink directed towards Waverly. And once again Waverly’s heart was pounding in her chest and warmth was spreading throughout her whole body.

“Can I ask you something?” Nicole asked as she placed the jack under the jeep, sliding it into place before beginning to jack it up so she could remove the flat tire.

“Sure,” Waverly shrugged, kneeling down next to her.

“You don’t have to answer, I don’t want to pry or make you uncomfortable or anything.”

“Just ask the question Nicole,” Waverly smiled at her, bumping her shoulder into Nicole’s.

There wasn’t much that Waverly wouldn’t tell Nicole. Which scared her to death. She had never wanted to tell someone everything, every tiny detail, every dark family secret, all the things about herself that she kept hidden.

How could she be so comfortable with this stranger? And how could this stranger make her feel like she could be herself? Make her feel so alive?

“You were crying before I picked you up this morning,” Nicole started, grabbing the lug wrench from in between them and began loosening the lug nuts one by one. “Why?”

There was concern lining her tone again and she looked at Waverly with big brown eyes full of that same concern and Waverly melted because nobody cared before (besides Gus), nobody could ever tell when she had been crying or if they did noticed they didn’t care enough to find out why.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Nicole whispered after a few minutes of silence. “I just…I want, I need to know you’re okay.”

“You care?” Waverly ask, just as quietly, eyes looking anywhere but at Nicole, though she isn’t entirely sure why.

Maybe she’s afraid that Nicole could read every emotion swirling in her eyes. Maybe she’s afraid that if she looked Nicole in the eyes, she’ll see how much Waverly trust her already, how much she wants to tell her everything. Maybe she’s just afraid of the way Nicole makes her feel.

“I do,” Nicole confirms as she pulls the flat tire off the jeep, rolling it to the side and out of the way.

“But why? You hardly know me.” She had to ask, had to know why Nicole cared that she had been crying, why she cared at all. Why Nicole got up at 5 in the morning to pick her up. Why Nicole went out of her way to change her tire for her. Why Nicole looked at her with brown eyes shining with concern. Why Nicole made her feel seen, heard, understood.

“I don’t know,” Nicole replied honestly. “I just do.”

It was the truth. Nicole did not have the slightest idea of why she cared about Waverly so much. Why she wanted to protect her. She just did and that, well that  was enough for her. From the looks of it, Waverly needed someone to be there for her and Nicole was willing to be that someone. She was willing to be whatever Waverly needed.

“I know that I don’t know you Waverly but I’d like to,” Nicole gave her a small smile as she put the new tire in place on the jeep, holding her hand out towards Waverly for the lug nuts.

“I think I’d like that.”

Nicole was giving her another dimpled grin and Waverly was sure that her heart was going to beat right out of her chest at the sight.

Waverly handed her another lug nut, allowing their fingertips to brush as she did. Nicole smiled again this time softer, those dimples that Waverly wanted to run her fingers along ever present.

If Waverly was being completely honest with herself, she'd admit that those dimples were the most beautiful, most adorable thing she had ever seen, but she wasn't being honest. She couldn't be.

She couldn't think that Nicole was the most beautiful person she had ever seen. She couldn't give in to that warmth she felt when Nicole touched her.

She wanted to, God did she want to but, she couldn't do that to Champ. She owed him too much to hurt him, to leave him.

“Well looks like you are all set,” Nicole said as she tightened the last lug nut then let the pressure off the jack.

“Thank you,” Waverly stood, holding her hand out to help Nicole off the ground.

“My pleasure Waverly.” Nicole picked up the flat tire and threw it in the back of the jeep as Waverly put the jack back there as well.

“Do uh, do you want to maybe have dinner tonight?” Waverly asked as she got into her jeep. She wasn’t quite ready to leave Nicole yet but she knew that Nicole did have to get back to town before she was late for work.

Dinner seemed like a good idea right? That’s what people do when they get to know each other right?

Nicole leaned against the driver door, smiling full force at her. “I’d love to have dinner with you.”

“Great!” Waverly smiled back, putting her key in the ignition and starting the jeep up. “I have to work tonight but we could have dinner at Shorty’s? They have pretty decent food, the nachos are out of this world.”

“Sounds like a plan, I’ll take my dinner break around 7,” Nicole stepped away from the jeep as Waverly put it into reverse. “Maybe try getting some sleep before your shift.”

With a tip of her stetson and another grin at Waverly, Nicole walked towards her squad car and got in.

“Oh Officer Haught!” Waverly called pulling her jeep right up beside Nicole’s car. “Self pity.”

Nicole rolled the passenger window down and leaned towards it, brows furrowed in confusion. “What?”

“The reason I was crying, I was having a pity party,”

“Oh.” The confusion dropped from Nicole’s face and was replaced with worry. “Do you want to talk about it sometime?”

Waverly shrugged. “Maybe later, have a good day Officer.”

And just like that she was speeding off towards town, leaving Nicole to stare after her.

Nicole had half a mind to pull her over for speeding just to be able to spend a few more minutes with her.

“Yup Haught, you’re fucked.”

Chapter Text

High school like most of Waverly’s life had been hard and for the most part lonely. Her sister Wynonna had been in and out of Purgatory, only stopping in to see Waverly in between her many adventures. Her classmates had heard their parents call the Earps crazy most of their lives so of course they believed that she was in fact crazy and tended to steer clear of her.

For two years she sat and ate lunch alone. For two years she did every class project alone. For two years she spent every friday night alone in the library studying. Until the beginning of junior year.

She remembered that day like it was yesterday. How could she forget it? It was the day her life changed. It was the day she slowly started to changed herself to cater to the people she was around. It was a day she both hated and loved.

Wynonna had been in town to see her off on the first day of the school year, like she did every year. It was the only tradition the Earp sisters ever had. It was a tradition that Waverly cherished.

“Alright baby girl,” Wynonna placed her hand on Waverly’s shoulder, giving it a soft, reassuring squeeze. “I know the last two years have been hard and I know I told you never to hide who you are but now I think you should, try to fit in, try to be normal.”

“You don’t think I’ve tried? No one wants to be friends with an Earp,” Waverly hissed fully aware of all the students walking past them, staring at Wynonna, at her, whispering about them.

She hated it. Hated that people only saw her as a crazy Earp, as Wynonna’s little sister. She was so much more than that and if they would just give her a chance they would see that, see her for who she really was.

“I know you’re trying Waves but, I need you to try harder, you need to fit in, you need to make friends or you’ll end up just like me.”

Something Wynonna feared since their father and sister Willa had died. Wynonna wanted better for Waverly. She wanted Waverly to have everything that she did not have. She wanted Waverly to have the world.

“Fine.”

“Good girl, now I have a bus to catch but I’ll see you soon okay?”

“Why can’t you just stay for once, why can’t you just be here for me Wynonna, I need you.”

“I’m not good enough, strong enough to take care of you baby girl.” Wynonna squeezed her shoulder again, her eyes softening and becoming misty. She wanted nothing more than to be good enough, to be the person Waverly needed her to be but she was too broken to look after herself, let alone her baby sister.

Waverly was better in the hands of Curtis and Gus, even if she refused to believe it.

Waverly took that to mean that she wasn’t good enough for Wynonna. That she wasn’t enough to make Wynonna stay. That she wasn’t important enough to Wynonna and it broke her fucking heart. She had lost everything, her mother, her father, her oldest sister and now Wynonna.

“I’ll only let you down and cause you more pain, if I’m not here then you’ll have a chance for a better, normal life.” Wynonna leaned in and kissed Waverly’s forehead then pulled her into a tight hug. “Be good baby girl, I love you.”

And just like that, she stepped away from Waverly and disappeared into the crowd of students. Leaving Waverly standing there, trying to hold back tears and failing.

She had watched Wynonna walk away every year since she was six but it never got any easier. She loved her Uncle Curtis and she loved Gus and they were enough for her but she still wanted her sister, still needed her sister to be there for her.

“Hey now, pretty girls aren’t allowed to cry,” a deep voice said from her left.

Waverly looked towards the voice to see Champ Hardy, most popular boy in their grade standing there smiling down at her and her heart fluttered in her chest. No one ever smiled at her like that. No one had ever said more than two words to her. No one had ever given her the time of day because she was Wynonna’s little sister, because she was an Earp.

“How ‘bout you have lunch with me and my friends? I’m sure between the lot of us we can cheer you up.” He was smiling at her again but this time he was closer. So close that she could feel his breath on her face.

“I’d like that.”

From that day forward Waverly ate lunch with Champ and his friends everyday. She never did another school project alone (though she did end up doing most of the work herself). She spent friday nights at the bowling alley or the skating rink with them, instead of at the library.  She made friends with Chrissy and Steph.

Before long she was no longer known as Wynonna’s little sister, or a crazy Earp. She was Champ’s girlfriend, Chrissy and Steph’s friend. And while she had wanted to be seen as Waverly, at least now she was being seen at all.

Champ had been there for her from that day forward. Sure he wasn’t the best boyfriend a girl could ask for and yeah, sometimes he’d ignore her when she talked about something she was passionate about but he was there, always there.

Something most people in her life weren’t. Almost everyone she loved abandoned her, or was taken away from her. Champ was all she had. He was the only constant thing in her life. He may wander briefly but he always came back to her.

Waverly owed Champ a lot. He changed her life, helped her come out of her shell, helped her fit in and it is something she’ll forever be thankful for, something she will always try to repay him for.

And maybe it is fucked up to stay in a relationship because you think you owe that person something but surely that wasn't the only reason Waverly was with Champ right?

She did love Champ maybe not in the same way he loved her but, she did love him. Whether she was in love with him or not, she wasn't sure.

Sighing, Waverly filled a pitcher of beer and handed it off to the customer waiting for it.

She wasn't sure when or why she had started to question her relationship with Champ. Her feelings for Champ. It definitely did not have anything to do with an incredibly beautiful redhead that she met days ago, who makes her feel things she's never felt before. That would be insane, completely insane.

“Hey babe,” Champ called loud enough to be heard over all the noise in the saloon from his spot at the pool table with his friends. “Can I get another beer?”

“And some shots!” Pete added.

Waverly was sure that those two could drink Shorty’s dry given half the chance. Some days she swore that they could out drink Wynonna.

She looked to the clock hanging on the far wall as she poured a round of shots. It was 6:30 and she was anxious to see Nicole again, to spend some more time with her.

She longed to see that dimpled smiled again. To hear Nicole’s accent when she spoke. To see those big, hazelnut puppy dog eyes that shined with concern whenever she looked at her. To see that adorable mole just under her left eye.

Get ahold of yourself Waverly. You have a boyfriend, you should not be thinking about some girl you barely know this way.

But she couldn’t help it, not really. There was just something so mesmerizing about the redhead. Something so captivating. Something inviting that draws her in and threatens to hold her hostage (not that Waverly seemed to mind). Something that was so incredibly hard to resist (Waverly wasn’t sure if she even wanted to resist).

With another sigh and shake of her head, Waverly filled Champ’s and Pete’s order.


 

Nicole looked up from her paperwork to the clock hanging on the far wall for what had to be the hundredth time in the last hour. Today felt like it had been dragging on forever. She was impatient to see Waverly again.

“Got a hot date there Haught?” Officer Eric Mills asked from his place two desks over, where his tall broad frame was hunched over his desk, head turned towards Nicole, eyes sparkling with amusement.

Nicole rolled her eyes at the older officer and went back to writing up a report. “Not a date, I’m having dinner with a friend.”

“A friend?” He asked, abandoning his own paperwork and wheeling his chair over to her desk. “You mean that you actual spent enough time away from this place to make a friend other than me?”

Eric had been one of the more welcoming people in town, even going as far as inviting her over for dinner with his family one night (which Nicole had declined at least until she was settled and he hadn’t held it against her). She wasn’t entirely sure if they were friends because he genuinely liked her or just because they were colleagues.

She guessed it didn’t really matter why they were friends. It was just nice to have a friend, to have someone to joke around with and tease every once and awhile.

“Believe it or not Eric, I am capable of making friends and my world does not revolve around this station and you.” Nicole bit back a smile. Their back and forth reminded her a lot of her relationship with her younger brother Trenten. Who she should probably call at some point and let him know she’s okay, alive. 

“So who is this new friend of yours?” He asked, running his fingers through his sandy blonde hair. “I’ll let you know if they are worth being friends with.”

In the week she had been here, Eric (much like Nedley), had taken it upon himself to make sure Nicole found her place in this town, made it her home, found friends, became part of the community. He treated her like a sibling and she was grateful for that.

“Waverly Earp,” she answered finally looking up at him.

“Earp,” he repeated.  

She half expected him to say ‘Earp’ the same way that Amy had earlier that morning and she been ready to demand to know what people’s problem with Waverly was, but he hadn’t. He said ‘Earp’ with a softness, with an affection that one would use when speaking of their little sister.

Suddenly his blue eyes hardened as he stared at her, pointing his index finger at her sternly. “You be nice to that girl, she’s been through hell her whole life and she doesn’t need any grief from anyone else.”

The fondness that Nicole felt for the man sitting next to her surged and she wasn’t sure why. It was just heartwarming that he was so quick to protect, to defend Waverly, whose eyes showed so much pain and hurt and loneliness (despite always being surrounded by people), beneath the surface when Nicole had looked into them.

Nicole got the notion that Waverly needed more people on her side, needed people to protect and defend her when she couldn’t do it herself and she was glad Eric was one of those people.

“I have no intention of being anything other than nice to her Eric, I like her.” Her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink when he gave her a knowing smile and wink.

“Better watch it, that boyfriend of her’s can wrestle a calf to it’s knees in 8 seconds flat.” Eric’s face and tone were serious for all of two seconds before he was laughing so hard he was clenching his sides, an image of Nicole and Champ fighting crossing his mind. “You could totally take that asshat, I would pay good money to see it too.”

“While I have no doubt that I could take that douche,” and she did not have a single doubt in her mind that she could take him, she had taken on bigger guys than Champ in the academy. “I’m just looking to be her friend, she looks like she could use a real friend.”

“Well you’re not wrong ‘bout that, that girl is the heart and soul of this town yet so many people here still give her shit ‘bout her last name, bout’ who her sister is.”

Nicole had the urge to ask what the deal with Waverly’s last name and this sister was but she pushed it down. Anything she learned about Waverly, she wanted to learn from the woman herself. She did not want second hand information, gossip.

She grew up in a small town, she knew how easily truth and facts get distorted. And she did not want that to happen with her and Waverly. She wanted the truth, Waverly’s truth. She wanted to know only what Waverly wanted her to know and if, only if Waverly wanted to tell her.

The redhead looked to the clock once more. 6:30. “Don’t you need to be going soon before you’re late?”

Eric swivels around to look at the clock. “Shit! My wife is coming to kill me.”

Nicole watched as he wheeled his chair back to his desk in a blur then tried to organize the papers on his desk in a haste, only making the problem worst.

With a roll of her eyes, Nicole walked over to him, placing her hand on top of his, stilling them. “Go, I got this.”

He looked up at her and smiled wide. “Thanks Haught and thanks for covering my shift tonight, if I missed another anniversary dinner Linda would never forgive me.”

“Anytime Eric.” She pushed him around the desk and towards the door. “Tell Linda I say hey.”

He walked backwards towards the front door of the station, still smiling at her. “I owe you one Haught.”

After straightening up Eric’s paperwork and finishing her own report, Nicole grabbed her stetson and headed towards the small office where Jamie from dispatch spent her nights.

“Hey Jamie, I’m going to grab something to eat, you want me to bring you anything back?” Nicole asked as she pulled the office door open wide enough to stick her head in.

Jamie held a finger up to Nicole as she spoke into the phone held between her ear and shoulder. “Ma’am I need to put you on hold for just a second, while I speak to an officer.”

“I’m not getting dinner am I?” Nicole asked, opening the door wider, her shoulders slumping.

“ ‘Fraid not Haught, got a domestic dispute out on the McDaniels’ ranch with shots fired about five minutes ago.”

All thoughts of dinner with Waverly left Nicole’s mind as she hurried out the station and to her squad car.


When seven finally rolled around, Waverly is wiping the bar down for the fourth time in the last ten minutes, trying her hardest not to stare at the door, waiting for Nicole to come through. Trying to ignore the disappoint she feels every time the door open and a regular walked in instead of Nicole.

When ten, then fifteen minutes passed by and Nicole hadn’t walked through the door, Waverly was sure she had been stood up. Maybe Nicole hadn’t actually wanted to have dinner with her but had accepted to be nice, to be polite then changed her mind at the last second.

It wouldn’t be the first time someone had agreed to hang out with her then changed their mind at the very last second and Waverly was sure it wouldn’t be the last. Thought that did not make it hurt any less.

She may have won over most of the town the past few years but there were still some who still held onto the image of her being a crazy Earp. Who still could not separate her from Wynonna’s actions as a teenager. In some ways she was still living in Wynonna’s shadow.

“I’m pretty sure that bar is clean Waves,” Shorty said, coming to stand next to her, a light smile directed at her even though she wasn’t paying him any attention, too busy staring at the door. “Waitin’ on somebody to walk through that door?”  

He had been watching her clean the same spot from across the bar for the last ten minutes and honestly he was starting to get a little worried. Waverly never acted like this. Never just spaced out like this, not hearing customers when they tried to order drinks, not hearing him when he called out to her.

“Hmmm?” Waverly hummed, not looking away from the door.

“Are you expecting someone?”

“A friend,” she mumbled, finally dragging her eyes away from the door and over to him. “We were supposed to have dinner but I don’t think they’re coming.” 

The disappointment in her tone was clear as day and the hurt underneath that disappointment was as well. The last time had Shorty had heard her sound so disappointed, so hurt was when Wynonna had forgotten her birthday last year.

“Would this friend be that gorgeous officer from this morning?”

“Yeah,” Waverly turned away from him, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink as she started pouring a couple of shots for the group of regulars that sat down in front of them.

“I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason she is late, she doesn’t strike me as the type of person to bail on plans at the last moment,” he said, giving her an affectionate pat on the back, whispering his next words more to himself than her. “Especially not plans with you.”

He wasn’t blind. It was very clear from the moment Officer Haught laid eyes on Waverly that she smitten. Unfortunately for Officer Haught, Shorty knew that things probably wouldn’t work out in her favor. Champ was too comfortable, too much of a constant in Waverly’s life for her to give up.

He was the stability that Waverly has never had and had always wanted in her life. And for that fact alone, she would never leave him for fear that she will never find that stability again.


Nicole pulled into the station’s parking lot and shut off her car, ignoring the drunk ramblings of David McDaniels in the backseat.

Shots fired ending up being Mrs. McDaniels firing a rifle at her husband’s head after he had gotten drunk and tried to beat on her. Apparently it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened (if what the neighbor who called it in said is true).

Drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, Nicole debated whether to call Waverly or not. She was now an hour and a half late to dinner and she felt absolutely terrible about it. Working a call had been great, it’s what she had been dying to do since she starting working here but in all honesty, she rather be having dinner with Waverly.

David kicked the metal bars separating the front and back seats, making Nicole’s decision for her. She needed to get him into a cell and start on the paperwork.

Nicole grabbed her stetson off the passenger seat and stepped out of the car, placing it on top of her head and opened the car door to drag a drunk David out of the car.

“Ya should be arresting that bitch wife of mine, she’s the one who tried to kill me,” he slurred as Nicole gripped his arm tightly and half dragged, half carried him into the station.

Nicole rolled her eyes and led him towards the jail cells, gripping his arm a little tighter than strictly necessary. She had absolutely no tolerance for men who beat on their wives or their kids.

“Well maybe next time you try to lay a hand on her, she’ll actually kill you,” Nicole mumbled as she shoved him roughly into the cell. It was wrong to say she knew that but, men like David were the scum of the earth and did not deserve to breath in Nicole’s eyes.

Domestic cases like this one rarely ended in favor of the wife. They usually ended with the wife’s death. She had seen first hand what monsters like David could do and she would be damned if she allowed that to happen on her watch (again).

David chuckled darkly and then his voice was suddenly deeper than it had been before, sounding almost demonic and had Nicole fighting of the shiver creeping up her spine. “She could try.”

“Officer Haught, we got a call from the groundskeeper over at the cemetery,” Jamie’s voice came through the radio on Nicole’s hip, even though she was just a few doors down from the woman. “A couple of teenagers were vandalizing some of the headstones and the groundskeeper wants you to pick them up and hold them until their parents arrive.”

Sighing, Nicole rubbed the back of her neck with one hand as she shut the jail cell with the other. She had wanted to run off to Shorty’s and explain to Waverly why she had bailed on dinner and hadn’t called but it looked like that wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon.

The whole week and a half she had been working, she never once got to do any real police work but now? When she had actually been praying for a slow night because she wanted nothing more than to spend time getting to know Waverly, she had more calls than she would have liked.

“I’m on it,” Nicole spoke into the microphone attached to her shirt and headed back out the station. Paperwork on David and apologizing to Waverly would have to wait. She was starting to regret taking Eric’s shift.


By the time Nicole had picked the teenagers up, taken them back to the station, waited for their parents to pick them up, finished the booking paperwork on David and responded to a car accident, it was well past midnight and she was utterly exhausted and starving.

As much as Nicole loved being able to work calls on her own, just being able to do actual police work, she could not wait for her shift to end. She just wanted to eat an unhealthy amount of food, then fall into her bed. After finding Waverly and apologizing of course.

Nicole picked her head up off her desk and rubbed her tired eyes with the back of her hand. She supposed now was as good of time as any to go apologize to Waverly. Plus, she could use a cup of coffee that wasn’t the black sludge that they tried passed as coffee around the station.

Grabbing her jacket off the back of her chair, Nicole made her way towards Jamie’s office, whispering a quick prayer that Jamie would not have another call for her.

“Hey Jamie, I’m going to grab something to eat, you can reach me on my radio,” Nicole said as she opened the door to the office,

When Jamie waved her off, Nicole spun on her heels and quickly exited the station before someone else in Purgatory needed her assistants.

Halfway to Shorty’s and her radio crackles to life. “Haught.”

Nicole stopped mid step, sighing loudly in frustration. Shorty’s was right there, she could see the door and the people still going in and out from here. She could practically smell the stale beer from here.

“Yes Jamie?”

“Bring me back some decent coffee, will ya?”

Nicole let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding and started walking again. “Course.”

Stopping just outside of the door, Nicole smoothed her hands down the front of her uniform, getting out any wrinkles that may had set in during her shift. She tucked the loose hair that had escaped her braid throughout the day behind her ears.

She squared her shoulders, stood up to her full height and entered the saloon with an air of confidence that borderlined egoistic.

Her eyes scanned the nearly empty saloon, looking for the bubbly brunette she couldn’t get off her mind and coming up empty.

“Officer,” Shorty called, waving her over to the bar.

Nicole’s shoulders sagged and she tried to keep the disappointment off her features as she walked up to the bar.

“Tell me you had a perfectly good reason for bailing on dinner tonight,” Shorty said, his normal smile nowhere in sight, his eyes narrowed into a hard stare.

While he was sure that Haught did in fact have a good reason for not showing up for dinner and not letting Waverly know she wasn’t coming, he still wasn’t going to let her off easy (or at least that was the plan until he looked into those brown eyes) for upsetting the youngest Earp.

“Third shift,” Nicole allowed the exhaustion she felt to seep into her tone as she dropped heavily onto a stool.

“Right, well next time just call her.” His eyes softened at the guilt swimming in those big brown eyes. Honestly how was he supposed to be mad at her when she looked so goddamn sorry?

Had she been anyone else, had she been a man, Shorty wouldn’t have gone so easy on her. There was just something about the dimpled officer that tugged at his heart strings (in the same way Waverly did) and he couldn’t threatened her like he had done Champ time and time again after he upset Waverly (not that that stopped Champ from continuously hurting Waverly).

“You eaten?”

“I don’t plan on standing her up again,” Nicole said sincerely. “And no I haven’t eaten.”

“I’ll put an order in for you and I’ll get Waverly.” He turned away from her and headed towards the door marked ‘Kitchen’. “Coffee?”

“Yes please,” Nicole called after his retreating form then laid her head against the cool surface of the bar and closing her eyes, her stetson nearing falling off her head.  

Given enough time Nicole was sure she could fall asleep slumped over this uncomfortable bar. The high that she had from working calls on her own was long gone and Nicole was fighting to stay awake. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to work the third shift on such little sleep then maybe she wouldn’t have had to miss dinner with Waverly and then she wouldn’t feel so damn horrible for standing her up.

A plate hit the counter beside Nicole’s head, startling her and causing her to jerk up upright. Eyes immediately landing on hurt filled eyes.

“Officer,” Waverly said in a tight voice, eyes full of disappointment.  

Nicole had disappointed a lot of people in her life (mostly her family, especially her father, who disagreed with every single choice she made in her life). So it was safe to say that she was used to people looking at her with disappointment and was pretty used to it but, the shame and pain she felt from disappointing Waverly was unlike anything she ever felt before.

Setting a cup of black coffee next to the plate, Waverly promptly turned on her heels and started to walk away.

Nicole darted forward, leaning as far over the bar as she could and grabbed the shorter woman’s wrist lightly, stopping her. “Waverly.”

Her name was spoken softly, so softly that had it been any louder in the saloon Waverly wouldn’t had heard it at all.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered, dropping Waverly’s wrist and slumped back down onto the stool. She wanted to say more, apologize until she was blue in the face, tell her what happened, why she couldn’t make it and didn’t call but she did not want it to sound like she was making up excuses.

She needed Waverly to know that she really was genuinely sorry for missing dinner and not calling her. She needed Waverly to know that she hadn’t wanted to miss dinner. She needed Waverly to know that she had truly hated having to bail on her.

“I’m just sorry Waverly, I should have called to let you know I couldn’t make our da-,” Nicole stopped short and looked down at her hands placed on top of the bar. “ Dinner, when I could make it to dinner and I’m an ass for not doing so.”

“I’m used to it,” Waverly mumbled as she turned around to face the officer. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud, hadn’t meant to let on that people were always ditching her without a word. She really hadn’t meant too, it just slipped out.

Nicole was sure she could hear her heart shatter in her chest at the look on Waverly’s face.

How many people had let Waverly down in her life? How many people had said they would be there for her and weren’t? How many times has someone disappointed her?

Nicole silently vowed to be always there for Waverly no matter what, to never disappoint her again. To be the best friend she could be to Waverly, to come each and every time she called. To be the one person that Waverly could count on in her life.

Nicole reached across the bar once more, taking both of Waverly’s hands in hers, absentmindedly stroking the smooth skin on the inside of Waverly’s wrist. “I really am sorry, let me make it up to you?”

“Alright,” Waverly nodded, trying not to lose herself in the feel of Nicole’s fingers on her skin, or the apologetic look in Nicole’s brown eyes.

Nicole beamed at her. “Dinner at my place tomorrow night? I guess it would be later tonight.”

“Sounds great.”

Chapter Text

“Tell me about the first call tonight? The first case you got to work on your own?” Waverly asked as they walked down Main Street towards the station with their arms linked. Waverly carrying two cups of coffee while Nicole carried one coffee and food for Jamie.

There had been the tiniest bit of doubt at the back of Waverly’s mind when she had looped her arm through Nicole’s as they exited Shorty’s and Nicole had kinda just stared at their arms, with a look that Waverly couldn’t decipher. But after a few seconds Nicole looked up at her, gave her a bright dimpled smile and that tiniest bit of doubt washed away.

Nicole’s arm looped through her’s, walking so close that their shoulders brushed felt so natural that Waverly did not stop to over analyze it like she normally would, she just went with the flow (which was so unlike her). She wondered briefly if it felt just as natural, just as good, just as nice to Nicole.

Shorty had let her off early and because she wasn’t ready to leave Nicole and crawl in bed with Champ just yet, she offered to sit with her at the station for a while to help keep her up (or at least that was the excuse she used, in truth she could not get enough of the officer’s presence and found it hard to say goodnight).

“It was nothing special, just a domestic dispute at the McDaniels' ranch,” Nicole shrugged.

“He beatin’ on her again?” Waverly asked, turning her gaze up towards the clear night sky.

It was no secret that David McDaniels beat his wife Nancy every time he got drunk and while Shorty banned him from the saloon and everyone refused to sell him alcohol, he still managed to get ahold of some and still took his drunken anger out on that poor wife of his.

Everyone in town had tried time and time again to get her to leave David but she would never listen, would never press charges against him after the cops had been called because their neighbors couldn’t take the screaming anymore.

As sad and terrible as it is, Nancy McDaniels was a lost cause and was probably going to end up dead after David ends up taking things too far one night.

“Yeah,” Nicole mumbled, the hand holding onto the brown paper bag with Jamie’s sandwich, clenched tightly.  “Someone’s gotta help her, gotta get her out of there before she winds up dead.”

“People have tried, she loves that sick bastard, she won’t leave him.”

“Well, I can’t just sit around and wait for him to put her in the hospital or kill her, it’s my job to protect her, to help her,” Nicole paused briefly as she tucked the brown paper bag under her arm, pulled her other arm out from Waverly’s and opened the station’s door, holding it for the shorter woman to walk through.

Both of them instantly missing the feel of the other.

“I’d never forgive myself if something happened to her and I just sat back and did nothing.” Again.

She didn’t say it out loud but she could feel it hanging in the air around them, she just hoped that Waverly couldn’t as well or at least wouldn’t question it. It wasn’t something she was ready to talk about with anyone other than her Grandpa.

Waverly got the distinct feeling that there was something just underneath the surface, something that Nicole wasn’t saying, something that made this case personal for her. She wanted to question her about it, but decided against it. If Nicole wanted to talk about it, she would have said something (at least Waverly hoped she would).

Waverly followed Nicole through the station to the dispatch room, her eyes firmly glued to Nicole’s ass the whole way. She was only human after all and quite frankly Nicole had an amazing ass (definitely better than Champ’s in his tight blue jeans).

“Waverly?” Nicole asked, turning around to look at the shorter woman when she hadn’t answer her the first two times Nicole called her name.  

Waverly’s eyes darted up to meet Nicole’s a half a second late, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink. “Um, what?”

Nicole had definitely caught her staring.

Nicole quirked one perfectly shaped eyebrow at her, smirking as she stepped to the side and motioned towards the open office door, where Jamie gave her a small wave. “Jamie said thank you for the sandwich and coffee.”

“Oh right,” Waverly’s cheeks burned a brighter shade of pink as she waved back. “Hey Jamie, how’s the husband?”

“You know Paul, complains I work too much but doesn’t complain when he takes my paycheck down to Shorty’s to drink with the boys,” Jamie said with an annoyed look on her face. “How’s Champ?”

“Champ is..,” Waverly’s words trailed off as her and Nicole’s eyes met and Nicole smiled softly at her, just the tiniest hint of dimples showing.

Champ isn’t Nicole.

Waverly wasn’t sure where that thought had come from. Okay, that was a lie. It was something she had been thinking since Nicole had helped her at Shorty’s.

It had become glaring obvious to Waverly in the handful of interactions they had together, that Officer Nicole Haught was nothing like Hardy “Rodeo Champ” James. She was better than he was, possibly in every way. It was horrible and wrong and Waverly felt extremely guilty for even thinking it but it was true.

In the short time that Waverly had known Nicole, she made Waverly feel alive, where Champ made her feel trapped but, in the end Champ had saved her from a years of loneliness and ridicule in high school and that trumped feeling alive.

Sure, Champ wasn’t the same knight in shining armour that had saved her in high school but, he was the only constant thing in her life, he was her security blanket and she wasn’t willing to give that up for anything. Not even for a beautiful redhead with dimples to die for that made Waverly feel things she never felt before, that made her feel like Waverly instead of just another troubled, crazy Earp.

“Champ is Champ,” Waverly finally said with a shrug.

Jamie chuckled. “Men right?”

She was looking at Nicole now as if awaiting some answer.

Nicole brushed a loose strand of hair back behind her left ear and leaned against the doorframe, crossing her arms over her chest and chuckling. “Don’t ask me, I don’t do men,” she turned towards Waverly and winked. “Or boy-men.”

Waverly rolled her eyes at the officer but smiled at her nonetheless. “Ass.”

“A group of us girls are going to a club in the city next weekend, you two should join us,” Jamie suggested around a mouthful of sandwich.

“I’m in,” Waverly nodded. It had been awhile since she had been out dancing without Champ. Without him grinding against her and trying to pull her to the closest bathroom for a quickie. It would be nice to have a girls night.  

“Me too,” Nicole said, pushing off the doorway. Only agreeing to go because Waverly was going. “Alright, well I got some paperwork to do, so we’ll see you later.”

Giving Jamie a wave and a small smile, Nicole waited until Waverly said goodnight then closed the door to Jamie’s office. She headed down the hall towards her desk, with Waverly following behind her.

“Quit staring at my ass Earp,” Nicole looked over her shoulder and winked at the blushing woman, who was in fact staring at her ass.


30 minutes of small talk and boring paperwork later, silence fell over the pair. It was that same comfortable silence that had fallen over them during the ride back to town this morning and Waverly was content with it, with watching Nicole chew on her bottom lip in concentration as she worked.

“Why did you want to be a police officer?”

“Hmmmmm?” Nicole glanced up at her then looked back down at her paperwork.

“Why did Nicole Haught want to become a police officer?” Waverly asked again, eyes transfixed on Nicole’s tongue as it darted out of her mouth and moved across her bottom lip slowly.

“I wanted to help people, helping someone in need comes second nature to me.”

Waverly did not doubt that in the slightest. She had seen first hand how willing Nicole was to help someone in their time of need, no matter the situation, no matter the time of day. If someone needed help, Nicole would be there in an instant, no questions asked. It was something Waverly admired about her.

“That’s it? You just wanted to help people?”

Nicole put her pen down and looked up at Waverly through her eyelashes, brows knitted together as she studied her.

She wasn’t sure if she was ready to tell someone who, for all intent and purpose was still a stranger in so many ways, something so personal, something that made Nicole who she was.

Waverly wanted to reach forward and smooth her thumb along Nicole’s eyebrows until her face relaxed. Instead she gave Nicole what she hoped was a reassuring smile and placed her left hand on top of Nicole’s.

And dammit if that wasn’t all it took for Nicole to spill her guts to this woman, to open up and tell her what she had told so few people in her life.

“When I was a kid my Grandpa was sheriff and he used to let me ride along with him during the summers, let me radio calls into dispatch, let me wear his stetson,” Nicole flicked the brim of her stetson sitting on her desk then ran her fingers along it, smiling at the happiest memories of her childhood.

Waverly was transfix in the way that Nicole talked with excitement and love about her Grandpa, her childhood spent with him. Her brown eyes were wide with excitement and shined with passion and her usually bright smile seemed to grow even brighter as she continued to talk and Waverly couldn’t look away (not that she wanted to).

“From the time I was 6 till I was 16, I watched him through the windshield of his cruiser help countless number of people, I watched him place himself in harm’s way, stare down the barrels of guns, I watched him give a single mother of four money to make it through the week more times than I could count, I watched him comfort people on the worst day of their lives, I watched him go out of his way to help other people and I knew I wanted to be just like him.”

Nicole looked shyly over at Waverly, who was smiling at her fondly. Nicole smiled back.  

Her childhood spent with her Grandpa was something she kept close to her heart, something she shared with few people. Those ten summers spent in that cruiser watching him do the job that he loved molded Nicole into the person, the cop that she was today.

“I wanted to help people in the same way that he did, I wanted to be as great as an officer, as a person that he was, I wanted to be the officer that everyone in town could count on because everyone in my hometown knew they could count on him,” Nicole absentmindedly stroked Waverly’s hand as she spoke, much like she had done earlier at Shorty’s.

“Why come to Purgatory?” Waverly tore her eyes from Nicole’s, down to watch the movement of the other woman’s fingers. Fire burned in the wake of Nicole’s fingertips. “Your Grandpa was sheriff, you could have gotten a job in your hometown no problem.”

“I did not want to get a job just because of what my last name is, because of who I am related to, I wanted to work as hard as everyone else to become a police officer, I wanted to get the job on my own merit and I couldn’t do that in my hometown.”

She had left some parts out but, that was an entirely different part of her childhood, of her teenage years that she did not want to get into right now.

“I needed to prove to myself that I am more than my last name, that I am more than the Haughts that came before me, that I am my own person,” Nicole rubbed the back of her neck with her free hand and looked away from Waverly. “I don’t know, it’s stupid I guess.”

No one other than her grandpa understood Nicole’s need to be more than just another Haught. No one other than him understood Nicole’s need to leave everything she knew behind and carve her own path in life. And she really did not expect Waverly to understand either.

“It’s not,” Waverly was quick to reassure her. “I completely understand.”

If anyone could understand wanting to be more than their last name, it was Waverly. If anyone could understand wanting to get out from the shadow that your family casted, it was Waverly. If anyone could understand needing to feel like you were your own person, well then it was Waverly.

“Yeah?” Nicole meet Waverly’s eyes, searching their depths to see if Waverly truly understood, or was just trying to make her feel better.   

Many people had told Nicole that they understood her need to be more, her need to be her own person, that they understood who she was but they never did, not really. Not even her ex and maybe that was why things had fallen apart between them.

“Yeah, I spent my whole life living in the shad-,” A yawn cut Waverly off mid sentence and she silently cursed herself.

For the first time in her life Waverly actually wanted to tell another soul about what it was like to be an Earp, what it was like to live in the shadow of Wynonna, of Willa, of her father (maybe even about the curse). This was the first time she felt like someone would actually listen to her, actually understand what it was like, what it is like. This was the first time she felt like somebody might actually care.

“I should get you home, it’s late,” Nicole said, nodding towards to clock on the back wall that read 3:30, though she made no move to get up, made no attempt to remove her hand from Waverly’s.

“I’m not ready to go yet.” Another yawn escaped from around the hand covering Waverly’s mouth and this time Nicole did stand up, plucking her stetson up from her desk and placing it on her head.

Nicole held her hand out for Waverly.

“I like talking to you,” Waverly whispered as she allowed Nicole to help her up, neither making a move to let go of the others hand. I like listening to you talk.

Nicole smiled softly at the shorter woman. “I like talking to you too Waverly but, it is late and you’re tired, we can finish the conversation at dinner if you want.”

“Okay,” Waverly nodded reluctantly and allowed the redhead to lead her out of the police station. She wasn’t entirely sure if she would want to pick up this conversation at dinner. Now that the moment had passed, she wasn’t sure she wanted to tell Nicole how she’s been living in the shadow of her family all her life. It didn’t seem like a good idea anymore.

Nicole pointed them towards Shorty’s never letting go of Waverly’s hand.

She knew, she knew that she should let go of Waverly’s hand . She knew that she should not get used to the feel of Waverly’s soft, smooth skin. Shouldn’t get her hopes up that maybe, just maybe Waverly felt whatever it was that she herself was feeling (she had a boy-man for crying out loud).

When they finally reached Shorty’s, Nicole let go of Waverly's hand.

Waverly let out what sounded like a disappointed sigh and Nicole's heart beat wildly in her chest. Maybe Waverly had wanted to hold her hand as much as Nicole wanted to hold hers. Maybe Waverly did feel what she was feeling.

Nicole closed her eyes and took a deep breath as Waverly pulled her keys out of her pocket and turned towards the doors to Shorty’s to unlock them.

She needed to get these feelings, this crush under control before it got in the way of them being friends. Waverly had a boyfriend for God’s sake, a shitty one but a boyfriend nonetheless and Nicole would respect that (she wasn’t even sure that Waverly felt the same).

She wasn’t a cheater and that wasn’t going to change just because Waverly made her heart soar, just because Waverly made her want to spill every secret she’s ever had, just because Waverly made her want to bare her heart and soul.

Once Waverly unlocked the door, she turned back to Nicole. “Thanks for walking me home.”

“It was my pleasure Miss Earp,” Nicole grinned, her accent noticeable thicker, tipping her hat to the shorter woman.

“Good night Nicole,” swallowing the sudden lump in her throat, Waverly leaned up onto her tippy toes and pressed a soft kiss to the officer’s cheek then darted inside the saloon.

Nicole’s hand came up to touch the spot Waverly had kiss, a dreamy expression on her face as she stared at the saloon door. “Good night Waverly.”


“No,” Champ stomped his foot much like a child who did not get their way. “You are not going, I won’t let you.”

“Excuse me?” Waverly asked, meeting Champ’s eyes in the mirror as she weaved her hair into a fishtail braid.

Out of all the reactions she expected him to have over her going to have dinner at Officer Haught’s, him telling her that she wasn’t allowed to go was definitely not one of them.

“I don’t trust her Waverly and you hardly know anything about her,” he said when he realized that telling Waverly she couldn’t go, wasn’t going to work as he paced back and forth in their little apartment, if you could call a room above the saloon an apartment.

Champ had never been the type of guy to tell Waverly what she could and couldn’t do. For all his flaws (and there were many of them, some she was just starting to see), Champ had never tried to control Waverly.  

So to say Waverly was surprised (and peeved), by his behavior was an understatement.

“I’m going to say this once Champ Hardy, so you better listen,” Waverly turned away from the mirror and met his gaze, pointing a finger at him and glaring. “I am my own person, I can take care of myself, I get to decide who I become friends with and I will NOT stand for you or anyone else telling me what I can and can’t do, do you understand me?”

Champ nods his head yes and has the decency to look at least a little bit guilty. “Can I come with you then? Just to be safe.” He gives her a hopeful charming smile that Waverly had always had trouble saying no to.

“Please?” He added as an afterthought, walking over to where Waverly sat and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, dropping a kiss on top of her head. “It’ll make me feel better knowing that you are not alone with some stranger, I just need to know that you’re safe.”

Waverly wanted to protest, to inform him that Nicole was not a stranger. She wanted to tell him that Nicole understood her without Waverly having to say a word (there was a connection between them, a silent understanding that Waverly couldn’t explain), unlike him, unlike everyone else in this town.

Champ pulled back to look her in the eyes. Looking every bit like the teenage boy who invited her to lunch junior year, who changed her life, helped her be normal and be accepted. How could she possibly say no to him when she owed him so much?

“Alright, just let me call Nicole.”


 

Ring…..Ring…..Ring…..

 

Nicole stepped away from the stove with a sigh, grabbing a hand towel from her shoulder and drying her hands.

If this was her mother calling her again to complain about one of her siblings or her father, Nicole might just scream. She loved her family, she really did but a girl gets tired of hearing how her siblings are doing and never once being asked how she is doing.

She should be used to it by now. Not much had changed since she was a kid. Being one of six kids meant that attention was scarce. Add the fact that Nicole had been the most independent one of the bunch, her parents tended to forget to ask her how was was, or what was going on in her life.

She pulled the still ringing phone from her back pocket, a smile tugging at her lips as Waverly’s name flashed on the screen. The smile slowly faded when she realized that Waverly calling 30 minutes before she was supposed to arrive probably wasn’t a good thing.

Nicole answered the call and put the phone on speaker.

“You aren’t bailing on me, are you Miss Earp?”

“Hello to you too Officer Haught,” Waverly’s breathy laugh floated through the kitchen and Nicole’s smile was back in full force. “And I’m not bailing on dinner, I always keep my dinner plans, unlike a certain officer.”

“Now who's the ass?”

“Still you.”

Nicole could hear the smile in Waverly’s voice and longed to see it. The most beautiful thing she had seen in Purgatory, maybe in all her life was Waverly Earp’s smile.

“That hurts Waverly Earp, that really hurts,” Nicole moved to the counter beside the stove, placing her phone next to the cutting board then grabbed a knife and the garlic she had peeled earlier.

She began dicing the garlic being careful not to slice any of her fingers. Nicole’s knife skills in the kitchen left something to be desired. She trained how to fight with a knife and defend knife attacks in the academy and never once got cut or stab but, put Nicole in front of a cutting board and she was guaranteed to somehow hurt herself. She was a great cook but was extremely clumsy with a knife.

“You’ll live, what are you making?”

“Shrimp Alfredo,” Nicole said, grabbing the saucepan from the stove and moving it just under the cutting board and scrapping the now diced garlic into it.

Panic started to rise in her chest as she placed the saucepan back on the stove. What if Waverly didn’t like shrimp? Or was allergic to shrimp?

She hadn’t even stop to think about whether Waverly liked, or was allergic to shrimp when she decided to make shrimp alfredo for dinner. It just happened to be her best dish and she had wanted to impress Waverly with her cooking abilities.

“Wait, you eat shrimp right?”

“Mmmhmm.”

Nicole sighed in relief, reaching for the peeled and cleaned shrimp then dropping it into the saucepan, along with some butter. “Good.”

“But Champ doesn’t.”

“The boy-man? Why does it matter if he likes shrimp or not?” Nicole tossed a few more ingredients into the pan and rolled her eyes when she realised why Waverly had mentioned it.

“Is he joining us?”

Of course Champ would be joining them because why wouldn’t he? Anytime she and Waverly  had the chance to spend time together and get to know one another, they got interrupter somehow. Getting time alone with Waverly was a lot harder than Nicole expected.

“If that’s okay?”

Nicole swallowed down her disappointment and went to grab another saucepan from the cabinet to start a separate sauce with no shrimp. “Of course, that’s perfectly fine.”

She was actually glad that Waverly did not know her well enough to be able to tell that she was lying.

“Are you sure? Because we can always do this another night.”

“No!” Nicole cringed at how quickly she had blurted that out, at how desperate she had sounded with that one simple word.

Nicole cleared her throat and resisted the urge to groan loudly. “I just mean, I’ve already started dinner and it’s too much for me to eat by myself, it would just go to waste if we canceled.”

“As long as you’re sure.” Waverly sounded uncertain and Nicole wished they were together so she could erase that uncertainty, erase Waverly’s doubt with a smile or just a simple touch of their hands.

A touch that reminded Nicole of the first sip of coffee in the morning, of warmth spreading through your body as it chased away the last remnants of sleep. A touch that reminded Nicole of the first drop of a roller coaster, sending your heart beating erratically in your chest, sending adrenaline coursing through your veins, terrifying one second then nothing but unadulterated joy the next.

“I want to have dinner with you Waverly, even if that means Champ will be joining us,” She tried to keep the disdain from her voice when she said ‘Champ’ but, she’s pretty sure she failed.

“Okay,” Waverly’s voice was low, barely above a whisper but Nicole could still hear the tiniest hint of a smile. “Do we need to bring anything?”

Nicole glanced around her kitchen. She had the wine, had beer, had hard liquor. She had fresh bread that she picked up from the bakery, had a store bought cheesecake for dessert, she had just about everything they might need or might want.

She had everything planned to a T. She wanted everything to be perfect tonight and that meant getting everything that they could possibly need. And yeah, maybe she went a little overboard, like with the fresh flowers sitting in the middle of her kitchen table but, she did not care. She wanted things to be perfect, to be nice for Waverly.

It was a dangerous game she was playing. Treating dinner with Waverly much like she would a date. Feeding into her crush on Waverly, that connection that she felt between them. Allowing herself to have hope for something more than friendship when she knew that Waverly had a boyfriend (unfortunately), one that would be joining them tonight, intruding on their chance to get to know one another better.  

“Nope, I think I got everything.”

“Alright, well I guess we’ll see you soon.”

“Can’t wait Waverly.”

When the line went dead, Nicole sighed and glanced down at McGonagall who was sitting patiently at her feet, hoping Nicole will drop something. “Well this is going to suck.”

McGonagall flicked her tail against Nicole’s leg and meowed up at her as if in agreement.


 

A knock on the front door pulled Nicole away from fretting over the still unpacked boxes pushed into one corner of her living room.

When she had invited Waverly over for dinner, she had momentarily forgotten about the state of her apartment. Her living room was practically empty, save for a couch, an old beat up coffee table that belonged to her Grandpa, a flat screen mounted to the wall in front of the couch and, of course the several stacks of unpacked boxes (that she really needed to take care of at some point).

Taking a shaky, almost nervous breath and running her fingers through her short red locks, Nicole walked towards the door with that same confident swagger she had when in uniform.

She may be nervous to have dinner with Waverly (and Champ), to have Waverly see her home, see her as just Nicole and not Officer Haught but she damn well wasn’t going to let it show.

Nicole opened the door with a dimpled smile already gracing her lips in anticipation of laying eyes on the beauty that is Waverly Earp once more.

Her smile dropped just a notch at Champ’s clearly possessive arm draped over Waverly’s shoulders, pulling Waverly tightly against his frame. It took all her willpower not to roll her eyes at his behavior.

Her eyes trailed from the boy-man clad in dirty blue jeans and a wrinkled black-shirt to Waverly, taking in the dark blue crop top that clinched deliciously to her chest, showing off a hint of Waverly’s abs. A warmth starting in her lower belly as she couldn’t help but to imagine running her fingers, her lips over Waverly’s abs. Nicole bit her lip and dragged her eyes up to meet Waverly’s but, Waverly’s eyes aren’t on her face.

No they are climbing slowly up and down Nicole’s body, taking in the way she looks out of uniform. Taking in the way the her soft red locks fell and frame her face perfectly, begging to be pushed back behind her ears. Waverly was lost for words. If Nicole looked good in her uniform (which she did), then she was absolutely breathtaking in a tight pair of jeans and a loose t-shirt.

“Please come in,” Nicole cleared her throat, bringing Waverly’s eyes up to hers. A light blush spreading across Waverly’s cheeks and the tips of her ears as Nicole moved aside and opened the door wider for the two.

Champ led them inside then dropped his arm from Waverly’s shoulders and held his hand out to Nicole with a glare. He did not miss the way Nicole at looked at his girlfriend. He saw the way Nicole’s eyes roamed his girlfriend’s body, lingering in places they shouldn’t.

Many of men had ogled, had checked Waverly out in Shorty’s while she was working or when they went to the city (which didn’t happen often), and it had always filled Champ with a sort of pride because Waverly was his, because he had gotten to her first and snatched her up before anyone else had the chance.

But the way Nicole looked at Waverly, like she was some goddamn piece of art that had been crafted by God himself, made Champ’s blood boil. Nicole did not look at Waverly with lust like most did. No, there was a fondness, a tenderness in her gaze when she looked at Waverly and Champ did not like it, did not like her.  

“Champ Hardy.”

Nicole’s Grandpa always told her you could tell a lot about a person, about a man from his handshake. A firm, strong handshake meant (according to her Grandpa), that the person was honest, hard working, trustworthy. A weak, limp handshake meant that the person was well weak, a slacker, untrustworthy, unreliable.

Nicole had never put much stock in the whole handshakes telling you everything you needed to know about a person but, if she did. If she did believe that a person’s handshake was a window into who that person was, she would say that Champ was as weak, as unimpressive as his handshake.

“Nicole, Nicole Haught.” She may have gripped his hand a little tighter than strictly necessary and she may have taken pleasure from the grimace he gave. She couldn’t put her finger on why but she just disliked the guy and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was dating Waverly (at least that’s what she told herself).

Nicole dropped Champ’s hand and motioned towards the living room. “Make yourselves at home, dinner will be ready in a few.”

“Do you need any help?” Waverly asked, speaking up for the first time since they had arrived and even though they had talked on the phone no more than thirty minutes ago, Nicole had somehow forgotten how lovely Waverly’s voice is and, how easily she could get lost in it.

“Sure, if you want I just need to set the table,” Nicole said motioning to the bare hardwood table save for a vase sitting in the middle holding a small bouquet of violets (there had been a couple candles on the table as well but Nicole thought they had been too much, too intimate).

“Want a beer Champ?” Nicole asked over her shoulders as she made her way into the kitchen with Waverly following close behind her, eager to spend a few minutes talking to the redhead without Champ hovering over them.

“Sure,” Champ called looking around the tiny living room before sitting down on the old leather sofa and propping his dirty work boots up on the coffee table. Not caring when flexs of dirt fell from the bottom of his boots onto the surface of the table.

Nicole grabbed a few of beers from the fridge then turned to Waverly. “Beer or wine?”

“Beer is fine,” Waverly took two of the beers from the redhead, allowing their fingers to brush for the briefest of seconds.  

“You look lovely,” Nicole smiled, blindly reaching behind her for the bottle opener hanging on the fridge door. Not wanting to look away from the small smile gracing the brunette’s face, or the light shade of pink tinting her cheeks.

“Thanks,” Waverly looked down at her shoes, trying and failing to hide the blush she knew was creeping up her cheeks. “You look really different out of uniform.”

“Is that good or bad?” The officer asked with a raised eyebrow as she popped the caps off the three beers, tossing them onto the counter for now.

“Good, definitely good,” Waverly squeaked out, then proceeded to chug half her beer, looking anywhere but at the slow smirk forming on the other woman’s lips.

Nicole opened her mouth to speak but Champ calling out to Waverly cut her off.

“Babe, where’s my beer?”

Waverly sighed and Nicole rolled her eyes. It was going to be a painfully long evening if he was going interrupt them every time they tried to have a conversation.

“I’ll be back,” Waverly turned on her heels and stalked towards the living room.

Nicole set her beer down on the counter and began pulling mismatching plates from the cabinet above the sink, listening to Waverly hiss at Champ to get his feet off the coffee table and act like he had some manners.

Yup, tonight was definitely going be a long night.

Chapter Text

“This guy is drunk off his ass, buck naked except for his cowboy boots and cowboy hat running down the sidewalk of main street with my father and uncle chasing after him,” Nicole waves her fork full of cheesecake in the air as she talks, her grin as big as Waverly had seen it and she can’t help but to smile and laugh along.

Champ’s hand crept up Waverly’s inner thigh for the third time since they had started eating dessert. Waverly pushed his hand away with a shake of her head, eyes never leaving Nicole as she spoke animatedly.

It was captivating watching Nicole tell stories about her family. She was captivating in the way she spoke with her hands and the way her eyes light up and danced with laughter as the story progressed. Waverly was completely captivated by everything that is Nicole Haught.

“My older brother Mike, who was a rookie at the time comes spiriting around the corner of some shop and runs straight into the man.” Nicole sets her fork down long enough to smack her palms together mimicking the sound of two bodies hitting on another, trying to keep her bubble of laughter in as she remember the look on Mike’s face when he realized the man on top of him was in fact naked.

Dinner had been nothing like Waverly had been expecting. Where she had thought that she would get to learn more about Nicole and maybe just maybe end up telling Nicole some things she kept buried, had turned into Nicole and Champ sharing light hearted stories from their childhood.

Stories that Waverly didn’t really have, leaving her feeling slightly left out at some points. But Nicole (ever the savoir), pulled her back into the conversation every time she started to feel left out. Whether it be with her directing her words at Waverly, making eye contact and holding it as she spoke. Or just simply brushing her foot against Waverly’s, letting her know that she hadn’t forgotten that she was there.

They were incredibly small gestures but they meant a lot to Waverly. She was so used to disappearing into the background, so used to being forgotten by the people around her that Nicole making sure that she was apart of the conversation and not forgotten meant everything.

Nicole was still talking with child like amusement, stilling waving her fork with the last bit of her cheesecake around in the air when Champ’s fingers climbed up her leg once again, this time with more insists, scooting his chair as close to her’s as he could.

To hide her discomfort and annoyances, Waverly reached for her beer, downing the lukewarm liquid with a grimace, looking anywhere but at Nicole. Champ pawing at her like she was some toy he could play with whenever he wanted was not something she wanted Nicole to see.

Waverly looked back at Nicole trying to concentrate on what Nicole was saying instead of the discomfort settling in the pit of her stomach. She tried to push his hand away once more but he dug his short, sharp nails into her thigh, refusing to budge.

“Till this day, the first thing you see when you walk into my parent’s house is a picture of Mikey with that drunk cowboy,” Nicole rolled her eyes, looking away from the couple as Champ leaned in to kiss Waverly’s neck, his eyes flickering up to meet hers.

She was too sober to sit and watch him try and devour Waverly in front of her. To watch him make a show of marking his claim on Waverly.

Honestly did the boy-man have no respect for Waverly? It was obvious in the way her body was stiff, cheeks flushed with what Nicole was sure to be embarrassment and not arousal, that she was clearly not into his advances.

She wanted to say something, to stop him, to save Waverly from what she thought was discomfort but it wasn’t her place. She hardly knew Waverly and did not want to risk upsetting her by instituting that she couldn’t take care of her.

So instead Nicole pushed away from the table, away from the couple, chair scraping against the hardwood floor and began gathering the empty beer bottles from the table.

Seeing a way out of Champ’s grasp without flat out rejecting him and embarrassing him in front of Nicole, Waverly shot up and began stacking the dishes on their side of the table. “Here, let me help.”

“You don’t ha-,” Nicole stopped short as her eyes met Waverly’s pleading ones. “Thanks.”

Waverly gave her a grateful smile and proceeded to take the dirty dishes to the sink.

Nicole set the empty bottles next to the sink to recycle later and turned towards a very annoyed Champ. “Can I get you another beer?”

She may not like the guy, okay she did not like the guy at all (it wasn’t her fault that he was a grade a douche), but her mother always told her to be polite to guest even if you didn’t care for them and well that was what she was going to do (or at least try to).

“No, it’s getting kinda late, we should be heading home in a few.”

Waverly turned away from the sink and shook her head at Champ. She knew that his momma had raised him better than that, raised him to have manners.

“Nicole was nice enough to make us dinner, the least with can do is help her clean up.”

Champ rolled eyes. “Guess I’ll take that beer.”

Nicole grabbed a couple of beers out of the fridge, passing one to Champ and the other to Waverly. “You can make yourself comfortable in the living room while we clean up if you want.”

“Whatever,” Champ mumbled, standing up and making his way into the living room and throwing himself down on Nicole’s couch and turned the T.V. on.

“Ass,” Nicole mumbled to his back.  

When Waverly was sure Champ wouldn’t hear her, she turned to Nicole. “I’m sorry about him, he’s usually not like this.”

Nicole shook her head slightly and placed her hand on Waverly’s upper arm, thumb brushing back and forth across the silky skin there. “You don’t have to apologize for him, he’s a grown man. At least I think he is.”

Waverly looked down at the hand on her arm, getting lost in the feel of the callused thumb moving across her arm then back up at Nicole, into warm brown eyes that shined with a hint of amusement and a impossible softness no one has ever looked at her with. “Someone has to.”

Maybe Nicole was right. Maybe she shouldn’t have to apologize on Champ’s behalf. Maybe he should act like the grown man that he supposedly is. Maybe he should try to show some manners. But could Waverly not apologize for the way he acted towards Nicole?

Nicole who had been nothing but kind, caring and overall amazing to her since the moment they met. Nicole who somehow seemed to get and understand her without even trying. Nicole who did not just see an Earp but saw her as her, as Waverly.

How could Waverly not apologize to Nicole for Champ being an ass when she had been so amazing to her?

“You never have to apologize to me Wave, not for him, not for anyone.” Nicole squeezed her arm lightly before dropping her hand and turning towards the sink, turning the hot water on to run some dish water, pouring a generous amount of dish soap into the water.

Waverly study Nicole from her peripheral vision. How could someone be so incredible? So nice? So understanding? And to her, an Earp of all people?

She wasn’t used to it. Sure people in town loved her and cared about her but she was still an Earp, still Wynonna, the town’s pariah’s little sister. The people of Purgatory were friendly sure but, they did not go out of their way to get to know her, to understand her, to be friends with her outside of Shorty’s.

What did she do to deserve someone like Nicole Haught in her life? What good did she do in this life or the last to get someone so amazing, so good as her friend? Was this, was Nicole the universe's way of making up for the shitty hand she had been dealt all her life?

Whatever it was, whatever the reason, be it fate, or destiny or, the universe or, just plain dumb luck Waverly was thankful to finally have someone like Nicole.  

“Thank you.” Waverly wasn’t sure if she was actually thanking Nicole or whatever, whoever brought Nicole into her life.

Nicole cocked her head to the side to look at Waverly. A soft expression mixed with something else Waverly couldn’t placed graced Nicole’s features. “For what?”

Waverly shrugged. “For tonight, for putting up with him,” She nodded towards the living room. “For just…. For being you.”

The redhead swallowed the words fighting their way up her throat and out her mouth. It was too soon, too much for words like ‘I’d do anything for you, put up with anything and anyone for you, I’d be anything, anyone for you.’

No matter if the words were true (and they were, God were they true), no matter if Nicole would mean every bit of it. No matter if Nicole would do anything for Waverly, be anything for Waverly, saying so could and would ruin their friendship before it really had a chance to fully form. And well, Nicole wasn’t willing to take that risk.

So instead Nicole hipped checked Waverly, smirked down at the shorter woman and letting a playful cockiness seep into her tone. “I am pretty amazing, aren’t I?”

“And full of yourself apparently,” Waverly rolled her eyes then proceeded to dip her hand into the warm soapy water, coming away with an overflowing handful of bubbles.

“Don’t do it Earp,” Nicole warned pointing a stern finger at the grinning woman, clearly seeing the other woman’s intent as she backed away. “I’m serious.”

“Or what Haught?” Waverly’s grin turned into a playful smirk as she struts forward, flicking her fingers at the redhead, sending the bubbles splattering across Nicole’s face.

Her and Wynonna used to have bubble fights all the time when they were little (before Willa and their Daddy had been killed, before Wynonna had been sent away, before her life changed forever). Their bubble fights had been one of the few happier moments of her otherwise bleak childhood.

She had tried multiple times over the course of them dating to get Champ to have a least one bubble fight with her, to help her relive one of the happier times of her childhood but he never would. He had always said it was childish and stupid but really he just didn’t want to get bubbles in his hair.

Waverly was sure Nicole had never looked cuter, more adorable than she did in that moment. Suds clinging to her eyelashes, splattered across her cheeks and chin, trying to fight off a grin and look angry but failing.

Bubbles dripped from Nicole’s nose onto her shirt as she stalked forward, causing Waverly to walk backwards until she hit the sink.

She could have stopped Waverly, could have grabbed her hand before she even had a chance to hit her with the suds but, Waverly had this look of absolute pure joy in her eyes that Nicole couldn’t bare to snuff out, didn’t have the heart to.

Nicole looked down at the shorter woman, grin long gone, face showing no emotion but her eyes held a lightheartedness,a softness to them as she trapped Waverly against the sink, allowing their bodies to press together.

Nicole’s breath caught in her throat all she could feel was Waverly against her. All she could smell was the hint of vanilla, the hint of coconut and something that was entirely Waverly Earp.

She hadn’t been expecting Waverly’s body to feel so good pressed against her own, to feel so right. To almost mold into her body as if they were meant to fit together.

“You shouldn’t have done that.” Nicole cursed at how low, how rough her voice sounded in that moment. She hoped the shorter woman couldn’t tell how much their bodies touching affected her.

She was playing that dangerous game again. Testing herself, her restraint, how close she could get to Waverly without making a move, without kissing her. She needed to know what her limitations were.

Waverly watched helpless as Nicole’s eyes drifted down to her lips then darted back up to her eyes before slowly drifting back down to her lips. Nicole’s eyes finally met hers again and she smiled softly at Waverly.  

Waverly bit down on her bottom lip, suppressing a moan at the intensity of desire (and fondness), burning in Nicole’s eyes.

No one had never looked at her with that level of want, that level of desire and so much affection that it made her heart swell and a warmth spread and settle in her lower belly.

Waverly was vaguely aware that Champ was in the other room. Hell she was vaguely aware that he existed at all. Nicole assaulted every one of her senses. All she could see, all she could feel, all she could breathe in was Nicole.

“Why’s that?” Waverly asked, trying to ignore the fire burning through her veins, trying to ignore how utterly amazing Nicole felt against her. She should push Nicole away, put some distance between them before either of them did something they would regret but she just didn’t have the will to.

Nicole got impossibly closer, dipping her head down until Waverly could feel her breath on her lips. The tips of their noses brushing together, smearing the bubbles on Nicole’s nose onto Waverly’s.

She was so sure that Nicole was going to kiss her and she was too lost in the amount of want in Nicole’s eyes to stop her.

What scared Waverly was the fact that she didn't want to stop Nicole. She wanted Nicole to kiss her. She wanted to feel Nicole's lips on her own.

And God she shouldn’t want that but she did. God help her, she wanted nothing more than for Nicole to kiss her.

“Because now I have to do this,” Nicole husked and before Waverly knew what was happening, Nicole stepped back and lightly hit her in the cheek with a handful of bubbles. Then proceeded to smear the bubbles all across her face.

Waverly drew in a deep breath, trying to steady her beating her, trying to rid the smell of Nicole from her lungs and forget the feel of Nicole’s body against hers (though she knew she never would).

The want that had consumed every part of her being a few seconds ago was replaced with guilt. An almost overpowering wave of guilt filled Waverly and she could hardly look the other woman in the eyes.

She was going to let Nicole kiss her and Champ, her boyfriend for God’s sake, was sitting in the other room. A boyfriend (who admittedly could be better), who had always treated her well enough, who had always been there for her, who had been the only person that hadn’t left her (besides Gus, Curtis, and Shorty but they were family, so it really didn’t count).

“That’s a great look on you.” A smile tugged it’s way onto Nicole’s lips then fell just as quickly at the distraught look on Waverly’s face. “Hey, are you okay?”

She took a step forward, reaching out to place her hand on Waverly’s arms but Waverly recoiled from her touch. Her heart sank as she dropped her hand to her side and took a couple of steps back, giving Waverly plenty of space.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered looking down at her socked feet, ashamed. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

She really hadn’t meant to upset Waverly, make her uncomfortable. God, the last thing she wanted to do was make Waverly uncomfortable, upset her in anyway. If she for one second thought that what she did was going to make Waverly uncomfortable, she wouldn’t have done it at all.

Suddenly Nicole felt sick to her stomach. She had acted no better than Champ had been earlier. She had pushed her way into Waverly’s space. Touched Waverly without her consent (maybe not in the same way Champ had but that was just splitting hairs). She was no better than Champ freakin’ Hardy.

“God, Waverly, I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, you have a cat,” Champ’s voice floated to their ears, stopping Waverly from telling Nicole that it was okay, that it was her fault, that she hadn’t meant to flinch away from her.

She was the one who wanted to kiss someone other than her boyfriend. She was the one who should be sorry, who should feel guilty (and she was and she did).

Nicole had actually forgotten that he was even there. She was too lost in shame, too lost in the guilt at making Waverly uncomfortable. Too lost in the distraught look on Waverly’s face. Too lost in the way Waverly recoiled from her.

“I wouldn’t go near her,” Nicole called out, wiping what little bubbles remained on her face with the back of her arm, looking anywhere but at Waverly. “She doesn-.”

Before she got to finish her sentence there was a yelp of pain coming from the living room. Followed by McGonagall hissing, something like glass breaking and Champ cursing loudly.

Nicole pinched the bridge of her nose and heaved a sigh, following a now worried Waverly into the living room. “Men, she doesn’t really like men.”

McGonagall bolted by them as they came to stand next to the coffee table (with Nicole giving Waverly plenty of space). Where Champ’s beer bottle laid broken on the ground with him kneeling next to it, holding a hand to his cheek.

“She attacked me,” he mumbled, looking every bit like a bratty kid that just got told no.

Honestly Nicole could not see what Waverly saw in the man child. He was not even remotely attractive. He could barely hold a conservation that did not center around him. He wasn’t very bright. He seemed to only care about himself. He was extremely disrespectful to Waverly.

He just wasn’t worth Waverly’s time, did not deserve her in any way. At least in Nicole’s opinion. And then she remembered that after the way she had just made Waverly feel uncomfortable, after she acted like she did, that she wasn’t worth Waverly’s time either, that she did not deserve Waverly either (and knowing that? hurt a lot more than she was willing to admit).

Champ removed his hand from his nose, revealing three deep scratches along his left cheek. A steady flow of blood dripped down his cheek and onto his shirt.

McGonagall is definitely getting extra treats tonight.

Okay, so maybe it was wrong to find the tiniest bit (it was definitely more than a tiny bit) of amusement from McGonagall attacking Champ but Nicole was sure the douche had done something to deserve it.

“Don’t get blood on the carpet, come on,” Nicole gripped Champ’s arm and hauled him to his feet, admittedly with a little more force than necessary (which was wrong, she was mad at herself and she shouldn’t take her mistakes out on him). “We’ll clean this up in the kitchen.”

When Waverly bent down to start cleaning up the broken bottle, Nicole reached out to stop her then pulled her hand away before she could actually touch Waverly.

She would not touch Waverly in any way without her consent again. She would not make Waverly uncomfortable again.

“I’ll get that later.”

Waverly met Nicole’s eyes. Eyes that were clouded with what she would describe as shame mixed guilt and a hint of anger. “Are you sure? I don’t mind cleaning it up.”

“It’s fine Waves, this isn't Shorty’s you don't have to clean up after,” Nicole stopped short. She's pretty sure calling Champ an idiot wouldn’t help the situation.

“You don’t have to clean up after anyone, just grab the first-aid kit from the bathroom yeah?” Nicole nodded towards the hallway off to their right then pulled Champ along to the kitchen.

With a nod, Waverly headed towards the hallway, flipping what she hoped to be the light for said hallway on.

Bright white light illuminated the surprisingly long hallway with three doors (at first glance, Waverly hadn’t thought the apartment to be very big), two on the left and one on the right.

A picture frame hanging on the wall at the far end of the hallway caught Waverly’s attention (the only personal object she had seen in what little of the apartment Nicole had shown them).  

What was so special about this one picture that Nicole had hung it up? When the rest of her apartment was bare, lacking a personal touch, lacking an insight into who the woman really was?

Curiosity getting the better of her, Waverly made her way down the hallway and to the picture frame. She usually wasn’t nosy, usually didn’t snoop (unless it had something to do with her family history). She usually respected other people’s privacy but the need, the curiosity to learn more about Nicole momentarily overruled

Imperfect brush strokes of pink and orange hues swirled together with hints of midnight blue across the sky. Pinkish, purple clouds streaked across the orange orb peeking over a grassy field.

In the bottom left corner of the painting, in shaky yet still beautiful handwriting read, ‘The sun always rises Nicky, always.’

“Waverly, what are you doing?” Nicole’s voice carried down the hallway, followed by her soft footsteps.

“It’s beautiful,” Waverly said softly when Nicole came to stand next to her. Close enough that their shoulders could brush if one of them were to move just the slightest bit towards the other but, far enough to give Waverly plenty of space.

“Mhm.” Nicole agreed.

It was her favorite painting, by her favorite artist. The last painting ever done by that artist. A painting that reminded her of the good and the bad of her childhood. A painting that meant a lot to her.

“My grandma painted that a week before she passed, two weeks before I left for the academy,” Nicole’s voice was thick, with a sorrow that only came with loss, a sorrow Waverly knew all too well.

Nicole ran her fingers over the words on the painting slowly. “Despite those stories I told, I didn’t have a very good childhood, things were rough for me growing up, my father, he uh, he didn’t accept who I was, even before I really knew who I was...”

Nicole’s voice trailed off and she dropped her hand from the painting, letting it fall in between them. Waverly reached out and took Nicole’s hand in hers, offering her silent support (if anyone understood shitty and rough childhoods, it was Waverly).

Nicole’s body tensed before relaxing and allowing their shoulders to brush lightly and intertwining their fingers. Relief flooded through Nicole, Waverly initiated the contact, maybe she hadn’t ruined this fragile friendship after all.

Very few people outside of her family, outside of friends from her hometown knew what her childhood was really like. She did not speak about it often, or at all really. Talking about it just brought up painful memories and anger she couldn’t let go of, no matter how hard she tried.

She wanted Waverly to know about her childhood though, her real childhood. Not just the hallmark stories she had told earlier. The painful ones that she could never truly let go of. The ones filled with so much anger, so much hate, so much hostility.

There were happy ones of course. Time spent with her grandparents. Time spent with Trenten on their family’s 15 acres of land. Time spent playing basketball in high school.  Time spent with her high school girlfriend and friends.

“It put a strain on my relationship with my parents, with my siblings, except for my little brother Trenten, it made me an outsider in my own home, made me the enemy in my own home,” Nicole finally spoke, squeezing Waverly’s hand, trying to anchor herself in this moment before all that hurt and anger took over.

“When things got really bad and I felt so alone, she used to always tell me that the sun would always rise, that no matter the pain and hurt the day had brought, that no matter the terrible things that happened that day, that no matter how terrible my father had been that day, that no matter how alone I felt.” Nicole’s voice was low, barely above a whisper and if Waverly hadn’t been standing so close, listening so intently, hanging on every word, she wouldn’t have heard any of it.

“A new day would always break and bring with it hope and change and a new beginnings,” Nicole looked away from the painting to Waverly, eyes filled with tears. She could practically hear her Grandma’s voice in her head. “And suddenly things didn’t seem so terrible you know? Because she was right, the sun would always rise and things would be beautiful and peaceful even if for just a moment.”

When things got hard, or things didn’t go quite as she planned, or her life just felt out of control (which happened a lot more than she’d like to admit), Nicole would repeat that simple phrase ‘The sun always rises’  over and over again.

Until her mind calmed, until she could come up with a new plan, until she felt in control of things, of her life again.

Waverly squeezed Nicole’s hand and leaned her head on her shoulder. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Nicole asked, resisting the urge to press a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head. She had already made things awkward and uncomfortable once, she didn’t need to do it again. But God, did she want to.

“For sharing something so personal with me, something that’s obviously close to your heart.”

“I’d tell you anything Waverly Earp, all you have to do is ask.” And she meant it. If anyone were to know her, every last bit of her, she wanted that person to be Waverly.

Waverly believed she would, the level of earnest in her voice told Waverly that Nicole was willing to open up to her and she just hoped that she could open up to Nicole as well. She hoped that she could tell Nicole about her not so great (borderline horrific at times) childhood as well.

She wanted someone she could be totally honest with. Someone she could tell every memory she had to. Someone who could to some degree understand. Someone who wouldn’t judge her and wouldn’t think less of her. And she was pretty sure Nicole could be, would be that person if she would just let her.

“What’s taking so long?” Once again Champ interrupted them but this time the two were reluctant to pull apart.

“Come on,” Nicole gave Waverly’s hand one last squeeze before dropping it and turning towards the bathroom for the first-aid kit.


 

“So how did your date go?” Eric asked the younger officer as they made their way down main street towards the coffee shop for their early morning caffeine fix and maybe a doughnut (or two, or three).

“It wasn’t a date, just dinner,” Nicole corrected him, slapping his stomach lightly. “Champ ended up joining us.”

“Tough break,” Eric held the door to the coffee shop open for the redhead then followed her through the threshold, allowing the door to shut behind him with a dull thud. “But how was it? Besides Champ crashing it?”

“It wasn’t too bad.” She shrugged walking up to the counter, where Amy stood behind it, looking as stunning as ever.

If there was one person in all of Purgatory that could rival Waverly’s beauty, it would definitely be Amy Hale. What with her pale blue eyes that twinkled in the fluorescent lights of the cafe, her long curly dirty blonde hair that framed her face perfectly and, a smile that kept customers coming back almost as much as the coffee did.

“Officer Mills, Officer Haught!” Amy smiled brightly at the pair as they stopped at the counter. “Have to say I’m a bit disappointed that your uniform is up to regulations this morning.”

Nicole shrugged with a smirk gracing her lips. “Can I get a lar-”

“Large cappuccino to go and a sprinkled doughnut?” Amy finished for her, giving Nicole her best flirty smile, causing Eric to roll his eyes from beside Haught.

“You know me so well,” Nicole grinned and winked, leaning her hip against the counter and crossing her arms over her chest.

Amy looked over at Eric expectedly, waiting for his order, before turning her eyes back to Nicole. She couldn’t help it, not really. Nicole Haught was striking in her uniform, sexy and unbelievably hard to take her eyes off of.

“Oh what you don’t know my order too? I’ve been coming here longer than Haughtstuff here.” Eric teased though Amy wasn’t really paying him any attention, her eyes were too busy roaming the redhead officer’s body.

“Don’t be an ass Eric, he’ll have a coffee with two sugars and a plain doughnut.”

Amy nodded, a blush crawling up her neck to her cheeks and turned away from them.

“You know, Amy isn’t bad to look at and she’s single,” Eric leaned over and whispered to Nicole.

“Shut up.”

They chatted quietly for a few moments about Eric’s family while they waited for their orders.

“Here you go Officers,” Amy said, setting their orders down in front of them.

“Thanks,” Eric picking up his coffee and the baggy containing their doughnuts and headed for the door, calling over his shoulder. “Breakfast is on you this morning Haughtstuff.”

Nicole rolled her eyes at his retreating form and pulled her wallet out of her back pocket, pulling out a couple of bills but Amy’s hand on hers stop her.

“How about a date instead?” Amy caressed Nicole’s hand and gave her a hopeful smile.

“A date?” Nicole asked with an raised eyebrow.

“Mhm, tomorrow night?”

It’s not like she didn’t want to go on a date with Amy. She was funny and beautiful and fun to be around. It’s just that she wasn’t the person that had captured her completely attention, that set her skin of fire with just a simple touch, that voice was like music to her ears and that she could listen to for days, that had a smile that melted Nicole’s heart, that sent a spark throughout her entire body with just a simple look.  

In short Amy wasn’t Waverly Earp but Waverly had Champ and was straight as far as Nicole knew and Nicole wasn’t in the business of cheating, of falling for straight girls. And Amy was here and pretty and wanted to go out with her and who was she to say no to such a pretty girl?

“Sure.”

Chapter Text

“I’m taking the law enforcement exam at lunch,” Champ announced coming the lean against the bar as Waverly and Shorty restocked it for the day.

Waverly and Shorty shared a look before looking back at Champ.

Waverly couldn’t remember how many times Champ had taken the exam in the past. Each time he failed, he became unbearable for at least a week. He would be pissy and needy and, sometimes downright suffocating. But she put up with it, coddled him and she supported because she loves him and because that’s what good girlfriends did right?

“Don’t you have to work today?” Waverly asked. She knew he did. He was supposed to be helping her Uncle Curtis on the ranch today.

“I called Curtis he said I could come in after the exam.”

Of course he did. He often took advantage of her Uncle’s generous nature. And of course Curtis allowed him to, time and time again.

“Did you at least study for the exam?” Shorty asked even though he already knew the answer to the question.

Champ never studied for the exam, which was probably why he failed each and every time he took it. If he just took the time he spent drinking and chasing other women around and study instead then Shorty was pretty damn sure that he could pass the exam no problem.

Champ may not be the brightest crayon in the box but when he applied himself, really applied himself there wasn’t much stood in his way.

“Yeah totally.” It was clearly a lie but neither Waverly or Shorty said anything.

The last thing Purgatory needed was Champ on the streets toting a gun and thinking he was somehow better than everyone else because he was an officer of the law.

A few of  Purgatory’s finest did actually think they were better than everyone else because they carried a badge and a gun but not Nicole. Never Nicole.

Nicole.

Sweet and kind Nicole. Nicole who had been so amazing last night, cooking them dinner and putting up with Champ all night.

Waverly wanted to return the favor. Maybe make Nicole dinner for just the two of them. So they could actually talk to each other and get to know each other like they had planned last night.

Maybe she could make Nicole a lunch. Champ was going to the station anyways, she could tag along and at least see the beautiful redhead for a few moments.

“Do you mind if I go with him?” Waverly asked Shorty.

“I don’t know Waves we’re pretty packed here,” Shorty motioned around the saloon to the few patrons scattered about.

“Totally packed,” Waverly rolled her eyes at the older man.

“You can go, just be back by two.”

“Thanks Shorty, you’re the best,” Waverly stood up on her tippie toes and kissed his cheek, before pulling her wallet out and slapping a twenty down on the counter. “I’m gonna make Nicole lunch.”

Shorty raised an eyebrow at her, a small smile forming on his lips. Of course Nicole was the reason she wanted to leave.

All morning, all Waverly could talk about was how great dinner with Nicole had been, how great of a cook the officer was and how funny some of her childhood stories had been. Nicole had been what they talked about (Waverly talked and he just listened), since they opened up at ten.

“And the uh, the other officers as well,” Waverly corrected hurriedly, a light blush tinting her cheeks.

“Right,” Shorty nodded, grinning at her. “Kitchen is all yours.”


By the time lunch had finally rolled around, Nicole was exhausted and ready to go home. Between her and Eric, they had answered six different calls from six farms about cattle mutilation, strange markings in the dirt, lights in the hills (that Eric brushed off as teenagers sneaking out), and a bunch of other things that Eric had told her not to put much stock in. It all read like an episode of X-files.

“It’s weird right?” Nicole asked, leaning back in her chair and looking over at Eric, who was as usual hunched over his own desk, working on a report for one of the farms.

She had been quiet on the whole ride back to the station, trying to gather her thoughts before asking him any questions. Trying to sort all the evidence they collected and cataloged at each farm, which in all honesty hadn’t been a lot. Definitely not enough to built a solid case.

She could see the strange markings in the dirt and the lights in the hills being teenagers. It was a logical conclusion that those were the handy work of some local teens but the cattle mutilation?

If the mutilation was done by a teenager then they had some serious problems. Psychopath, potential serial killer problems.

“It was probably just some animal Haught, just let it go,” he replied, not bothering to look up at her.

“Animal? What kind of animal attacks one cow from six different farms in one night? All miles away from each other?” She asked in disbelief, pushing away from her desk and grabbing the photo she had been studying.

“What kind of animal does this?” She slammed the photo down on Eric’s desk, pointing to the disemboweled cow with it’s legs torn off and set up as if it was some kind of weird display.

“Some kids probably happened upon it and are trying to scare people,” Eric dismissed her claims, moving the photo out of his way.

It’s not that he didn’t believe it was weird himself, concerning even but he had been working here long enough to know that Nedley would just dismiss anything weird or ‘supernatural’.

He had seen countless number of reports (mainly his), thrown away by Nedley for containing words like unexplainable, other worldly or, anything pointing to something weird going on in Purgatory.

Nicole sighed and slumped back to her desk, shoving the photo into a file before beginning on her next report, looking every bit dejected as she felt.

“Look,” Eric wheeled his chair over to her. “If you want to look into this, we do it on our own time, Nedley will not support an investigation into something we have absolutely no evidence on.”

He knew Nicole enough to know the type of cop she is. She’s the type of cop that wasn’t going to give up on this.

He knew that she was going to look into this on, with or without his help and he much rather lend his help to try and keep her out of trouble.

He had been where she was when he was just starting out. He knew what she was feeling and knew the things she wanted because he had wanted the same things when he was a rookie.

He had been just as eager to jump into investigations, eager to find the truth, eager to prove his worth but Nedley had been quick to shut down any and all of his concerns about the strange things happening in this town. So he had stop taking them to Nedley, stop looking into them all together but he wasn’t going to do that to Nicole. He was going to guide her and help her to the best of his abilities.

“We?” Nicole stared at him in disbelief. She hadn’t been expecting his help not after he had been so dismissive before.

“Yes we, you’re a rookie Haught, I can’t let you do this on your own but you can run point.”

“You’re really gonna let me run point?” Hope shined in those big brown eyes of hers and there was no way he couldn’t let her run point now.

“You’re a good cop Nicole, you showed that today, but we need to be careful on how we go about this, if Nedley finds out we are running an investigation without his permission then we are both losing our jobs and I don’t know about you but I need this job to feed my family.”

“Thank you Eric,” Nicole hugged the man quickly before leaning back in her seat. “So, where do we start?”

Nicole bounced up and down in her seat, looking every bit like an overeager German Shepherd  puppy, waiting for his answer.

Eric shook his head, chuckling slowly as he placed his hands on her shoulders, stilling her movements. “We have to be discreet Haught and this is not discreet.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled, looking down but unable to hide her smile and her excitement.

She was finally going to be able to do something other than writing tickets and writing godawful boring reports (her least favorite part of the job). While she did in fact enjoy and love every aspect of the job she had experienced so far, she wanted to do more and this investigation was just the more she’s been looking for.

“Go make copies of all the statements from today and make copies of the files on those two missing girls,” Eric instructed her as he wheeled back to his desk.

“You think what happened at the farms might be connected to the missing girls?” Nicole asked as she gather the files from her desk that she would need to copy.  

“I’m not sure but better to look into it.”

“Right,” Nicole nodded. “I’ll copy these then we can head out for lunch.”

Eric watched Nicole practically bounced out of the room with a shake of his head. Okay, maybe he hadn’t been as eager as her to run an investigation under their boss’s nose when he was just starting out here.

The bell above the front door of the station rang as the door was pushed open, pulling Eric’s attention from the younger officer to Champ walking in, with Waverly trailing behind him holding several brown paper bags.

“How can I help you two?” Eric asked as he moved around his desk towards the front desk, noting the bandage on Champ’s cheek.

“I’m here to see Nedley,” Champ puffed his chest out and tried to make himself look taller.

Eric had never seen him look more ridiculous than he did in that moment and, Eric had seen him crawl across the dirt after he had fallen off a bull at the rodeo a couple years back.

“What for?” Eric raised an eyebrow towards Waverly but she just shook her head, so he turned his attention back on Champ.

“Preliminary law enforcement exam,” Champ stated proudly as if one should be proud of the fact that they had taken and failed the test several times.

Eric resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the younger man. This would be the fourth or fifth time that Champ had come in to take the exam and each time he did worse than the last.

The exam wasn’t even that hard, hell Eric was sure that his eight year old could pass the exam with flying colors. Hell Champ could probably pass if he matured a little and removed his head from his ass.

“Is he expecting you?” At this point Eric really did not care if Nedley was expecting him or not, he just wanted to get Champ out of his sight. Just looking at the kid annoyed him. He didn’t know how Waverly could stand to be with him.

“Yes.”

“Then go right in.”

“Again?” Eric asked Waverly when Champ disappeared into Nedley’s office.

“Yeah, I don’t know, we had dinner with Officer Haught last night and on the way home he announced that he wanted to take the exam again and ‘really try this time’.”  Waverly did a poor attempt at air quotes with the brown bags in her hands.

“Whatcha got there?” Eric asked, eyeing the bags when she finally placed them on the desktop between them, hoping one of the bags contained Waverly’s famous banana muffins.

“Lunch and a snack for you, Officer Haught, Sheriff Nedley and whoever is working dispatch right now.”

“Banana muffins?” He asked, voice hopeful as he leaned forward and grabbed one of the bags to search through it.

“Mhm,” Waverly leaned against the counter, smiling at the older man’s excitement.  

“Aren’t you just the sweetest thing to ever walk through those doors.” He grinned at her as he pulled the saran wrapped muffin from the bag.

“Hey old man, your wife is gonna have your ass if she finds out you’re breaking your diet again, ” Nicole called out sticking her head out of the copy room door, her face instantly lighting up when she caught sight of Waverly, her voice taking on a softer tone. “Hey Waves.”

“Hi,” Waverly gave the redhead a small wave and an almost shy smile.

The young officer was so clearly smitten with the youngest Earp and Eric wondered how Waverly didn’t see it. It was so clearly written on Nicole’s face every time she saw Waverly or talked about her and she definitely didn’t try to hide it.

Maybe Waverly did in fact see it, maybe she did see that Nicole was crushing on her hard but choose to ignore it in favor of having a friend. Which Eric wouldn’t blame her for, she needed friends, good friends that didn’t judge her on who her sister was or what her last name was.

Eric hoped that whether or not Waverly knew about Nicole’s crush that Nicole doesn’t end up getting hurt. As much as he liked the youngest Earp (and her banana muffins), he liked Nicole more. And if Nicole got hurt by Waverly then she would have one less person on her side.

“What the wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” Eric called back to Nicole as he worked on unwrapping the muffin.

“Make sure Nedley and whoever is working dispatch get those?” Waverly asked Eric as she took one of the bags off the desk.

“Sure thing, thank you for this,” Eric nodded, talking around a bit of muffin.

“You’re welcome Officer Mills.”

“Eric, you can call me Eric,” he told her, not that she was listening. She was already making her way across the room to Nicole.

“What are you doing here? Is everything okay?” Nicole asked when Waverly stopped in front of her, just outside the copy room door. Even from across the room, Eric could hear the concern lining Nicole’s voice.

“You got it bad Haught,” Eric mumbled, moving back to his desk to give the two women some privacy.

“Champ came in to take the preliminary law enforcement exam and I thought I’d tag along and bring you guys some lunch,” Waverly blushed, remembering the knowing smile Shorty had given her and held the bag in her hand out to Nicole.

Nicole hoped against hope that Champ failed the exam. The last thing she wanted in this world was to have to spend most of her time on the job with him.

She didn’t want to think about the boy man right now (or ever really). The cute girl she had a huge crush on had just brought her lunch and that deserved her full attention.

“Thank you for the lunch, it was really sweet of you,” Nicole smiled causing Waverly’s blush to deepen and Nicole swore she had never seen anything cuter in her life. “Did you bring you something?”

“No?” Waverly tilted her head to the side, eyebrows drawn together in confusion.

Okay, now Nicole had never seen anything cuter in her life. If blushing Waverly was cute then confused and blushing Waverly was down right adorable.

“Well then come on, we can share mine,” Nicole went to place her hand on Waverly’s lower back but stopped short. “We can eat in the break room.”

“Eric finish copying those files please,” Nicole called to the man at his desk, where he was already digging through one of the other bags for another muffin.

“Sure thing Haughtstuff.”

“This way,” Nicole nodded in the direction of the break room and made her way towards it, with Waverly following close behind.

“There’s not enough for two Nicole,” Waverly protested half heartedly as they sat down at the small round table in the middle of the tiny break room.

“Sure there is,” Nicole said as she began removing the items from the bag.

One turkey bacon club (Nicole’s favorite), one banana muffin, one small bowl of mac and cheese and one small order of fries.

Nicole left the items on the table and got up, moving to the fridge in the corner. Waverly watched her open the fridge door and bend down to grab two bottles of water from the bottle shelf.

Waverly definitely was not staring at Nicole’s ass and she definitely did not turn three shades darker when Nicole looked over her shoulder at her and winked.  

Once Nicole had the waters, she grabbed two plates, two forks and a knife then set them all down on the table before taking a seat across from the still red Waverly.

They sat in silence as Nicole cut the sandwich in half then divided up the fries and mac and cheese evenly.

“Do you usually bring lunch for everyone here?” Nicole asked before taking a bit of her sandwich then proceeded to talk with her mouth full of food, hand covering her mouth so Waverly couldn’t see the food in her mouth. “Cause I could get used to this.”  

Waverly wasn’t sure how she did it but Nicole somehow made eating a sandwich look good. Like, how is that even possible? How can eating a sandwich or any kind of food look good?

“No, just thought I’d do something nice for Purgatory’s finest,” Waverly shrugged. “And I figured I’d repay you for last night.”

“I was happy to have you over for dinner last night Waves, I just wish you didn’t have to leave right after I cleaned Champ’s cuts.”

Champ had been whiny and clingy after Nicole had clean the scratches on his cheek from McGonagall. He would not let Waverly leave his side for more than a few seconds. And continued to complain over Waverly and Nicole talking until Waverly had had enough and decided that they better go (even though she hadn’t wanted to leave).

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that, sorry about him,” Waverly said idly pushing her fries around on the plate.

She felt bad for leaving Nicole to clean up after dinner last night, seeing as they never actually got around to doing this dishes.

Nicole reached across the table, placing her hand next to Waverly’s. Close enough to touch if Waverly wanted the contact. “I’ve already told you Waverly, you don’t have to apologize for him, you don’t have to apologize to me.”

Waverly stared at Nicole’s hand for a few moments before meeting Nicole’s warm eyes. Nicole just smile then goes back to eating her lunch, leaving her hand in the middle of the table.

After a few more moments, Waverly extends her fingers until her pinky is pressed against Nicole’s. The tiniest bit of warmth spreads from where their skin is touching, up her palm then her arm before settling in her chest.

Waverly doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of that warmth that Nicole’s touch causes. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of the way Nicole smiles at her. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of the way Nicole gives her, her full attention. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of the way Nicole actually listens to the things she has to say.

They sat like that, pinkies touching and smiling shyly at one another every few minutes as they ate in silence. Both content to just enjoy each others company.

“Do you have plans tonight?” Waverly asked, as they cleaned up their mess from lunch. She was hoping that Nicole would come to Shorty’s after her shift, so they could spend a little more time together (even if she would be working), and get to talk, really talk.

“Uh, yeah,” Nicole rubbed the back of her neck, eyes darting all around the room. “I have a date with Amy tonight.”

For some reason it felt weird telling Waverly she had a date with Amy. Maybe it was because Amy had been less than nice to Waverly the other morning. Or, maybe it was because Waverly looked so crestfallen as soon the words left her mouth.

A date with Amy. Waverly should feel happy that her new found friend was getting out and dating but, she felt a sudden dislike for Amy. Something gripped at Waverly’s heart like a vice, squeezing tighter and tighter as she repeated Nicole’s words over and over again in her head.

Nicole was going to be spending time alone with Amy, smiling at her with those dimples that made Waverly’s heart beat wildly in her chest. Nicole was going to be spending time with Amy, hanging on her every word, making she feel like the only person in the world when she spoke, like Nicole did when Waverly spoke.

Amy was going to get to know Nicole better than Waverly and that made an uneasy feeling twist in Waverly’s stomach.

She wanted to be the one to know every little thing about Nicole. Her hopes, her dreams, the things that made her tick, little things that made her happy and smile. She wanted to be the one to know Nicole all of Nicole, not Amy .

“That’s great,” Waverly smiled, hoping her smile didn’t look as fake as it felt. “Amy is great, she’s great.”

“Riiight, you okay?” Nicole wasn’t sure what type of smile Waverly was going for but it looked painfully forced and did not light up the room like her usual smiles.

“What? Yeah I’m good, peachy.”

“Are you sure? You don’t seem okay.” There was concern lining that beautiful voice once again and Waverly wished Nicole wasn’t able to pick up the slightest of changes in her moods.

Once again it amazes her that Nicole, whom she hadn’t know for very long, is able to pick on her mood changing in the blink of an eye when people she’s known her whole can’t do the same.

“I’m okay Nicole, really,” Waverly said in earnest, looking away from those brown eyes that seem to see right through her.

She was okay. Other than the white hot envy clawing at her chest at the thought of Nicole going on a date Amy. Just the two of them, probably to some nice, quiet, too dark restaurant out of town, away from the prying eyes of a small town.

Nicole studied Waverly. Noting the way her back is rigid. Noting the way she’s gripping the sink a little too tight, her knuckles turning white. Noting her heavy breathing, her closed eyes and bowed head.

She sighed and backed away from the small sink, away from the warmth radiating off Waverly, away from the heavenly scent of her perfume. If she didn’t put some distance between them, she would reach out and lay a reassuring hand on Waverly’s arm. She was finding it a lot more difficult not to touch Waverly than she thought it would be.

She didn’t believe Waverly was okay (Waverly’s body language screamed she wasn’t), not one bit but, she wouldn’t push her. It wasn’t her place, no matter how much she wished it was. “Okay.”

Waverly’s head snapped up to look at the redhead. She was surprised that Nicole had given up so easily but otherwise thankful she didn’t push. How could Waverly explain that she was upset that Amy would get to spend time with Nicole and she didn’t, without sounding jealous (she definitely wasn’t jealous)?

“Babe, where are you? I’m ready to go.” Champ’s voice pierced the silence that had fallen over the pair.

Nicole pulled her right sleeve back, revealing a bulky silver watch, that had seen better days but Nicole wouldn’t get rid of it for the world. “That was quick.”

“This isn’t his first rodeo,” Waverly mumbled, leaving the break room with Nicole right behind her.

“Ahhhh,” Nicole said as they made their way back to the main part of the station, walking close enough that their shoulders brushed every other step.

She didn’t ask how many times he had taken the exam, even though she wanted to know. It wasn’t a particularly hard exam, most of it was to test the ethics of each potential officer.

Sure Champ was a douche and kinda selfish but Nicole didn’t really see him as a bad enough guy to fail a morality test. She guess there was more to him underneath the surface and it probably wasn’t anything good.

When Champ caught sight of the two of them together, the smile he had instantly turn into a glare, directed straight at Nicole.

When the pair got closer to the three men gathered around the front desk, Champ walked over and slung a possessive arm around Waverly’s neck, pulling her into him and placing a kiss to the top of her head. All the while still glaring at Nicole.

“Ready to go babe?”

“Mhm, I need to get back to work,” she nodded. “Have a good day Officers, Sheriff.”

“Thank you for the lunch Miss Earp and I’ll have your test results in a few days son,” Nedley smiled then headed back to his office.

“Muffins were great Waverly, thank you,” Eric gave her a wave of his hand and a tip of his hat before heading to his desk.

Waverly did not miss the fact that ‘muffins’ had been plural.

“Thanks again Waves, I’ll see you around,” Nicole’s lips curved upwards as Waverly smiled at her, this one reaching her beautiful eyes and lighting the whole room up.

Nicole watched the door after the two left far longer than she should have. That smile from Waverly stunning Nicole to her spot. Every time Nicole thought Waverly Earp couldn’t get any more beautiful, she went and proved Nicole wrong with just a simple smile.

“Okay, what the hell happened to his face?” Eric asked as Nicole sat back down at her desk.

“My cat attacked him last night.” She grinned as she started sorting through the freshly copied files that Eric dumped on her desk.


 

Nicole parked her truck in front of the coffee shop, checking her appearance one last time in the rearview mirror, tucking a stray hair behind her ear as she shut the engine off and stepped out of the car.

She smoothed her hands down the front of her flannel shirt, trying to get rid of any wrinkles that may have set in during the drive over.

She was anxious about what Amy had planned for their date and if her jeans and flannel appropriate for whatever was planned. She did not like being unprepared, even for something as casual as a date.

Nicole bent down and check the holster strapped to her ankle on last time, to make sure it was secured. Could never be too careful in a town like Purgatory. Especially after reading some of the strange and sketchy case files and newspaper clippings that Eric had hidden in his desk.

Cattle mutilations, marking in the dirt and strange lights in the hills surrounding Purgatory was the least of their worries. Turns out young women have been disappearing for years without a trace and not much police work had been done about it.

Some of the women had turned up after a few weeks. Dead unfortunately and with no evidence pointing towards who had taken them, or where they might have been held during those few weeks they had been missing.

Nicole sighed and stood up. Now was not the time to be obsessing over these cases. She had a date with Amy (a date that she was completely in the dark about), and Amy deserved her full attention.

Taking a deep breathe, trying to clear all thoughts of missing girls and unsolved cases out of her mind.

Nicole made her way into the coffee shop, smiling brightly when she see Amy leaning against the counter, wearing a blue sundress that brings out her eyes. She really was breathtaking.

“Officer Haught, don’t you look dashing out of uniform,” Amy’s eyes wandered up and down Nicole’s form, taking in the way her jeans fit her perfectly, tight in all the right places. Her eyes stopped at the rolled up sleeves of Nicole’s flannel shirt, showing off those toned arms, that Amy has had the pleasure of feeling for herself.

She pushed off the counter and made her way over to the officer swinging her hips in the process.

“Nicole, call me Nicole.” The redhead leaned in and kissed her cheek when she stopped in front of her. “And you look absolutely beautiful tonight.”

Amy blushed and ducked her head. “Are you ready to go?”

When Nicole nodded, Amy looped her arm through Nicole’s and led her out the coffee shop and down the sidewalk.

“We don’t need my truck? Where are we going?” Nicole questioned, glancing down at the slightly shorter woman as she allowed herself to be pulled down main street.

She didn’t mind not being the one planning the date (she really didn’t), she liked being wooed as much as the next woman but, she was so used to being the one to plan the dates, so used to doing the wooing in a relationship that sometimes it was hard for her to let someone else take control.

Not that she was controlling in any way, no Nicole was a perfect gentle woman (she was raised to be and she knew if she wasn’t, her grandmother would turn over in her grave). She just like being prepared and that meant knowing every single thing that they were doing that night.

“Shorty’s,” Amy brushed a stray curl behind her ear and looked shyly at Nicole. “If that’s okay?”

Maybe Shorty’s wasn’t the perfect place for a first date but it is somewhere that Amy feels one hundred percent comfortable. For all her flirting and swagger, Amy was extremely nervous. And while she had no problem wooing men and women alike in the past, Nicole Haught was out of her league and that fact alone presented a challenge.  

She wasn’t exactly looking for a relationship with Nicole right now, she just wanted to have a bit of fun but that fear of rejection was still lingering in the back of her mind.

Nicole gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s perfect Amy.”

Chapter Text

Shorty’s was unusually packed for a Wednesday night but Waverly still saw Nicole and Amy the moment they walked into the saloon, eyes narrowing at their linked arms and the easy going smile on Nicole’s face.

That same white hot feeling crept up into her chest as she watched them find a table in the darkest corner of saloon.

She bit the inside of her cheek hard enough that she tasted blood, ignoring the sudden feeling of envy, of wanting to be the one Nicole is smiling at, of wanting to be the one Nicole is sitting a little too close to. With a shake of her head to clear thoughts of Nicole from her mind, Waverly put a too bright smile on her face and turned to the next customer waiting for a drink.

“What can I get you?”

“Whatever you have on tap sweetheart.” He gave her what she assumed is supposed to be a charming smile but ends up looking more like a leer, as he leaned his upper body across the bar towards her.

His putrid breath hitting her in the face as he spoke, his eyes roaming her body, stopping at her bare midriff. “Whatcha doin’ when ya get out of here sweetheart?”  

Waverly nodded towards where Champ was playing darts with Pete and a couple other guys. “Going home with my boyfriend.”

Waverly has been working at Shorty’s since she was 18. First as a waitress then as a bartender later on. So she was used to the leers, to the lewd comments, to the men getting handsy and she knew how to handle them but, every once in awhile she got a man who just wouldn’t let up, wouldn’t leave her alone, like this man leaning into her space.

During those times, she sometimes regretted working here.

He tucked his oily blonde locks behind his ear as he followed her gaze, before turning his attention back on her as she filled a glass with beer from the tap.

“Why dontcha come home with a real man tonight?”

“I will be,” Waverly sat the beer down on the bar and turned to walk away, not even brothering to make the man pay for the beer. She just wanted to get away from him.

“That’s debatable,” Shorty said, coming up to stand next to Waverly, glaring at the man across the bar. “I got this Waverly, go take Nicole’s order and remember whatever drinks she orders is on the house.”

Waverly sighed and grabbed her notepad from under the bar. She really did not want to go over to that table. She did not want to look at Amy and Nicole together, laughing and smiling at each other. Amy hanging all over Nicole like she had been when they first walked in.

She shouldn’t care what Nicole and Amy did. They were both adults and Waverly had no claim on Nicole. They were just friends for fuck’s sake, she had no right to be jealous of Nicole spending time with someone else.

She shouldn’t care but God, she did. She shouldn’t be jealous but God, she was.

Waverly made her way around the bar and towards the couple in the back. As she tried to make her way past Champ and his friends, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into him.

“Take a break,” he husked as he kissed along her exposed collarbone.

“I’m working Champ,” Waverly said, turning to keep her annoyance out of her voice.

This would not be the first time he tried talking her into taking a break so they could fool around upstairs, or in the bathroom, or in the back. Usually she was into it, hell usually she’s the one pulling him somewhere dark where they can be alone.

They were both insatiable at times, never quite able to get enough of each other but, now was not one of those times.

She wasn’t in the mood for him to be pawing all over her but, she allowed him to (if only for a few moments). It wouldn’t be the first time that she allowed him to do as he pleased. Sometimes it was easier just to go along with it than to have to listen to him whine and beg until she eventually gave in.

Champ wasn’t bad in bed by any means, quite the opposite actually. For all he lacked in other aspects of their relationship (and there was a lot he lacked, his ability to actually listen to her being the first thing to come to mind), he definitely made up for in the bedroom.

“Come on baby, just for a few minutes,”  He mumbled against her neck.

Feeling eyes on her, Waverly looked over Champ’s shoulder, catching sight of Nicole staring at them with an unreadable expression on her face.

She felt heat rise to her cheeks that had nothing to do with Champ’s attention to her pulse point that usually made her knees weak.

Nicole quirked a single perfectly shaped eyebrow at her before returning her attention back to Amy.

“We’re packed Champ,” She pushed him away gently, pressing her lips to his quickly to stop the protest she knew was coming. “When things slow down, I’ll take a break.”

“I’ll hold you to that Wave,” he called after her, adjusting himself before turning back to his friends with a smirk. “I’ve got her wrapped around my finger.”

“Sure man, whatever you say,” Pete clapped him on the back.

Waverly just ignored them and continued on her way to the table Nicole and Amy were sat at.

She was definitely not wrapped around his finger, she just allowed him to think she was.

“I call bullshit Haught, with those big brown eyes, those dimples and that charm of yours there’s no way you weren’t breaking hearts in high school.”

“Hate to break it to you Amy but I wasn’t breaking any hearts, I had my eyes set on one girl.” Her eyes flicked up from the menu in front of her to Waverly. “And well, when I see something I like, I don’t want to wait.”

“And did you get the girl?” Amy asked running her fingers up and down Nicole’s arm, slowly, ignoring the fact that Waverly had come up to the table.

Something dark mixed with hurt and anger flashed around Nicole’s eyes but was gone just as quickly as it appeared.

“Of course, like you said I have the eyes, the dimples and charm for days,” Nicole joked but her tone was strained, body suddenly tense and her smile it didn’t quite reach her eyes like it usually did.

Amy didn’t seem to notice the change in Nicole’s mood (or if she did, she didn’t let on), but Waverly did.

Of course she noticed. It was hard not to when she noticed almost everything about the redhead.

Waverly cleared her throat, gaining the attention of both women.

Nicole gave her a grateful smile, this one reaching her eyes, which Waverly quickly returned.

“What can I get you?” Her eyes solely on the redhead.

“Can I get a beer and a cheese burger with fries,” Nicole passed her menu to Waverly, their fingertips brushing and her smile widening just a bit as Waverly’s breath caught in her throat.

She’ll never get used to the warmth of Nicole’s skin. And honestly, she didn’t want to.

“I’ll take a margarita and the chicken caesar salad,” Amy ordered, not even bothering to look Waverly’s way. Her complete attention was back on Nicole, her fingers idly playing with a strand of red hair.

“Alright, I’ll be back with your drinks,” Waverly clicked her pen closed, scooped up Amy’s menu and turned on her heels, walking away, leaving the couple alone once more.

“Thanks Wave!” Nicole called after her, eyes following the youngest Earp as she weaved her way through the patrons in the saloon.

“Why get involved with an Earp ?” Amy asked, spitting out ‘Earp’ like it left a bad taste in her mouth, bringing Nicole’s confused brown eyes back to her.

“What?”

“Why become friends with an Earp ?”

“Why not?” There was an edge to Nicole’s voice now. It made her blood boil when someone said ‘Earp’ like it was some sort of curse.

Waverly was kind, sweet, generous, honest, respectful and selfless. She was practically an angel if Nicole had ever seen one and she did not deserve the way people in this talked about her, about her family.

“The Earps are trouble, they attract trouble, especially Wynonna,” Amy let go of the strand of hair she was absentmindedly twirling around her finger and placed her hand on top of Nicole’s. “I’d hate to see you get into trouble or hurt because of her.”

Nicole’s eyes softened, along with her voice. “I’m a cop, I go where the danger is, where the trouble is, I can take care of myself but thank you for looking out for me.”

“Here you go,” Waverly set their drinks down in front of them, her eyes drawn to Amy’s hand on top of Nicole’s.

Her eyes narrow and a scowl makes it’s way onto her face for just a second before she swallows down the jealousy fighting its way up her throat and forces a smile.

She knew that warmth that Amy must be experiencing at that touch and she didn’t want anyone else to feel it but her.

“Your food should be out in a bit.” With one last glance at the couple’s joined hands, Waverly turned on her heels and made her way back to the bar.  

Nicole watched the bartender walk away, eyebrows furrowed in worry. Waverly had been acting weird since she had told her about her date with Amy and Nicole was worried she had done something to upset her.

“Who’s Wynonna?” Nicole questioned after a few moments.

People around Purgatory had been talking about the Earps in hushed tones and while Nicole was only able to catch a few words here and there, her curiosity was peaked and, Amy’s comment about Wynonna Earp (whom Nicole believed to be Waverly’s older sister, if what she heard from the townspeople were true), had been the last straw.

She may have wanted to find out about Waverly’s family from Waverly herself but her curiosity had gotten the better of her.

“Wynonna is Waverly’s older sister,” Amy answered, taking a sip of her drink. “Wynonna shot and killed their daddy when she was twelve, been in and out of trouble since.”

Nicole choked on her beer and stared wide eyed at Amy, who spoke as if she was bored, as if Waverly’s sister killing their father wasn’t a big deal. “What?”

Okay, she was not expecting that. She wasn’t entirely sure what she thought the Earps had done to be the talk of the town, to be hated by more than half the town but, it definitely wasn’t that.

What causes a twelve year old to shoot and kill their father? The cop in her knew that whatever had caused Wynonna Earp to shoot her father probably had to deal with some kind of abuse. And her heart clenched painfully in her chest at the thought of Waverly, sweet Waverly possibly growing up with an abusive father.

Nicole’s eyes found Waverly across the saloon once more. She was smiling as she served a customer, nodding her head along to whatever they were saying, looking genuinely interested in whatever the person was saying.

She knew bartenders relied on tips to survive, so they faked an interest in their customers’ lives but, Waverly seemed to actually care about the people she served, about the people in this town.

Waverly Earp had lost her father when she was young, by her sister’s hand no less. She had every reason to be hateful, mean, crazy and yet, she wasn’t.

No Waverly Earp was kind, always found a reason to smile, never said a bad thing about anyone in the time Nicole had known her. Waverly Earp was an actual ray of sunshine, an angel even, despite everything she had been through.

“No one knows why she shot him, hell I don’t even think Waverly knows, maybe she’s just crazy,” Amy ran her fingers up and down Nicole’s arm once more, smiling softly at her. “Enough about the Earps and more about you.”


“I’m gonna get us another drink then maybe we can play a game of pool?” Nicole asked as she stood up from the table.

Their date had been going pretty well so far. Amy was incredible. She was funny, flirty and liked to tease Nicole way too much, not that Nicole minded. She could dish it out just as easily as she could take it.

They had swapped stories from high school back and forth as they ate and, Nicole had told a few from the academy, that had Amy choking on her salad.

They had learned the usual about each other, favorite color, favorite food, movie, music, book and the like. Nicole had also learned that Amy’s breath hitched whenever she touched her (though she couldn’t help but notice that their touch lacked that same warmth, that same intensity that Waverly’s touch held). And Amy had learned that Nicole never looked more beautiful than when she was blushing (though it didn’t happen often).

“Be prepared to lose Haught,” Amy grinned up at the redhead.

“That’s big talk considering that,” Nicole plants her hands on the table and leaned down towards Amy until they were just a breath apart. Watching as Amy’s eyes dart down to her lips and she would be lying if she said she didn’t want to close the distance between them and press their lips together. “I never lose.” 

She liked Amy a lot more than she originally expected. And she knew that she needed to tell her that she wasn’t exactly looking for a relationship right now before things got too far and Amy got hurt. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt this beautiful woman in front of her.

Amy watched the playfulness that had been swirling in big brown eyes slowly change to something more serious. She knew where this was going.

She wasn’t blind, she saw the way Nicole looked at Waverly Earp . She saw the way Nicole searched for her through the crowd of people in Shorty’s. She saw that smile that Nicole only seemed to save for the Earp . And maybe she was just looking to have some fun with Nicole and not an actual relationship but she was still slightly jealous of Waverly.

Nicole was amazing to say the least. She was sweet. She made Amy laugh almost effortlessly. She was so damn smart, sarcastic and incredible sassy. Did she mention sweet? Nicole was everything, the full package  and if she hadn’t just gotten out of a two year relationship and was looking for something more than a fling, a casual hook-up, she was sure she could end up falling for the redhead.  

“Amy I ne-”

Amy pressed a finger to Nicole’s lips, silencing her. “Shhh, I’m not looking for anything serious Nicole, let’s just see where the night takes us.”

“Are you sure?” Nicole mumbled around the finger still pressed against her lips. She’d be lying if she said relief didn’t wash over her at Amy’s words.

“Yes, now go get more drinks, I’ll get us a pool table,” Amy dropped her finger from Nicole’s lips and stood from the table, making her way to one of the few pool tables in right back corner of the saloon.

Nicole let out a relieved sigh as she watched Amy walk off with a sway of her hips. That went better than she thought. She hadn’t exactly been expecting Amy to make a scene but she had expected her to get mad, be upset.

Nicole pushed herself off the table and made her way to the bar, eyes searching for her favorite bartender.

Waverly is at the far end of the bar, where she was alone with only one customer. Who was leaning on the bar with a tight grip on her arm.

Even from halfway across the saloon, Nicole can see the fear on Waverly’s face. She picked up her pace, pushing people out of her way as her anger flared up. No man had any right to lay a hand on a woman, especially Waverly Earp.

“Sir, let me go please,” Waverly tried her best to keep her voice calm, even as fear spiked in her chest as the man’s blunt fingernails dug into the underside of her arm.

“Just dance with me, one dance,” he slurred as Waverly’s eyes darted around the bar, looking for Shorty or her Uncle Curtis, even Champ.

It wasn’t often that she was in a situation with a customer where she couldn’t get herself out of. This guy had been harassing her all night and at first Waverly had thought he was harmless, like most of the men that came into Shorty’s but, his tight grip on her arm and his unwilling to let her go, quickly proved that he was not in fact harmless.

“Let her go,” Nicole’s voice was hard as she stepped up beside the man, standing to her full height almost towering over the man and staring at him with a glare that Waverly swore could kill a man.

“We’re talkin’ here,” the man spat, ignoring the woman sending him the death glare. If he hadn’t been so drunk, he probably would have backed down, would have walked away but he was in fact three sheets to the wind and well he was going to get what he wanted. And what he wanted was a dance with the pretty bartender.

“You’re done talking,” Nicole’s drawl that was usually hardly noticeable (unless you were Waverly Earp), was suddenly thicker. Her voice that had almost always had a softness to it, was laced with anger.

Waverly bit down on her bottom lip, trying to ignore the shiver that went down her spine, that had nothing to do with the death grip the man had on her arm but had everything to do with how powerful, how strong, how fierce Nicole looked in that moment.

Her eye’s unconsciously raked down Nicole’s body, imagining her in her uniform in that moment, with that thick drawl, there to protect her. Stetson preached perfectly on her head, the buttons on her shirt undone, revealing a bit of skin that definitely wasn’t regulation. Those khaki pants that hugged the redhead’s form in all the right places, that made her ass look incredible, boots that made the already tall women even taller.

Stop, she’s your friend. You shouldn’t be thinking about her like that.

The man dropped Waverly’s arm and turned fully to face Nicole, glaring up at her while trying to keep his balance. “Back off dyke.”

Whatever anger that had started to dissipate when the asshole had let go of Waverly’s arm, came back tenfold when that word left his mouth.

“Excuse me?” Nicole spit out through gritted teeth.

This wasn’t the first time she had been on the receiving end of some homophobic comment and it wouldn’t be the last but, that didn’t make it hurt any less, it didn’t make her blood boil any less.

Her hometown may have been bigger than Purgatory but it was still a small town, with small minded people. She grew up dealing with hateful slurs from adults and teenagers alike (from her own father as well).

Usually she’d ignore the comments, allow them to hit the armor that she spent years building up and just walk away but not tonight. Not when this asshole had the audacity to lay his hands on Waverly.

“I. Said. Back. Off. Dyke.” He punctuated each word with a shove to Nicole’s shoulders.

Waverly watched with wide eyes as Nicole darted forward with an almost inhuman speed, grabbing the man’s left arm and twisting it behind his back, shoving him down on the bar.

“That’s quite enough, unless you want to be charged with assaulting a police officer,” Nicole growled, actually growled at the man. She couldn’t actually arrest him on the spot. She had been drinking and well there were protocols to follow but he didn’t have to know that.

Waverly shifted in her spot as a heat built up between her thighs. She had seen tons of fights in Shorty’s since she started working here, she had seen Champ get into fights and never once had seeing men fighting turn her on the way watching Nicole handle this drunk did.

“Alright alright,” the man grunted, face twisted in pain as Nicole pushed him harder against the bar.

“Apologize.”

“I’m sorry!”

Nicole meet Waverly’s eyes and when Waverly nodded her head, eyes still wide but slightly darker than they were minutes ago, Nicole let the man go, shoving him towards the door.

“I see you near her again and I’ll arrest you,” Nicole warned him as he sulked off towards a group of guys across the saloon.

As Nicole turned back to Waverly to make sure she was okay, Amy stepped in front of her, placing her hands on the taller woman’s cheeks.

“Are you okay?” Amy asked with concerned eyes. She had been watching from the pool table she had claimed. She had been torn between getting Shorty or anyone to help Nicole, or letting Nicole handle to situation herself.

“I’m fine,” Nicole reassured the worried woman in front of her, allowing her hands to come and rest on Amy’s waist.

“Good because that was so hot,” Amy leaned up on her toes and pressed her lips to Nicole’s.

Waverly’s eyes dart away from the couple as her chest tightens with that same white hot envy from earlier then quickly turns to shame and settles deep in her chest.  

She shouldn’t want to be the one who’s lips are pressed to Nicole’s. She shouldn’t want to feel Nicole’s hands on her waist when she had Champ. Champ who is right across the saloon with his friends. Champ who didn’t see that she was in trouble. Champ who didn’t come to her rescue like Nicole did.

Her shame burned brighter, hotter knowing that if Champ had seen that she was in trouble, he’d been right there to help her, protect her. He always was. He was her protector even if she didn’t need it.

Nicole pulled away from Amy, grinning down at her. “Go, I’ll get our drinks and be right there.”

Amy nodded but didn’t move right away. Instead she gripped the collar of Nicole’s flannel and pulled her down for another kiss. One that Nicole was all too happy to return.

When they broke apart this time, Amy headed back to the pool tables and Nicole turned back towards Waverly, who was glaring after Amy.

“Are you okay?” Nicole asked, eyes landing on the red hand print on the other woman’s upper arm. Her anger boiling just underneath the surface with the knowledge that Waverly’s arm was going to bruise.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Waverly said, moving down the bar towards Shorty and her Uncle Curtis, who had just emerged from the storeroom.

“I know you can take care of yourself but, I didn’t want him to hurt you,” Nicole followed her down the bar, weaving in and out of the way of the people sitting at the bar.

“You’re right, I can take care of myself.” There was a bite to her words that she didn’t mean but she couldn’t stop.

She was upset with herself for being jealous of Amy, for wanting to kiss Nicole when she was with Champ. She was upset with Nicole for being so perfect, looking out for her, for making her want to kiss her.

The confusion on Nicole’s face was clear as day as Waverly stopped next to Shorty. Nicole leaned over the bar towards Waverly, voice low. “If I upset you I’m sorry, I was just trying to help.”

“Well don’t,” Waverly snapped before she could stop her word vomit, her gut twisting with guilt at the hurt expression on the redhead’s face but still she couldn’t stop the next words out of her mouth. “I don’t need your help.”

Shorty shot her a disappointed look before walking away from the two so they could hash out whatever they were arguing about.

“My bad,” Nicole put her hands up in surrender, sounding defeated. “Can I just get another beer and a margarita please?”

“Right away Officer,” Waverly moved down the bar to make the drinks, without sparing another glance at Nicole.

She hadn’t meant to upset Waverly. She had just wanted to help her, protect her but, she guessed it wasn’t her place. She wasn’t Waverly’s boyfriend, they hardly knew each other (despite the fact that Nicole saw through the acts Waverly put on around other people), they were hardly friends.

She didn’t fully understand how she upset Waverly. She just wanted to make it right. The thought of Waverly being angry with her was like a punch to the gut.

“That Earp is being a real bitch ya?” The older man sitting to Nicole’s right, nursing a whiskey asked.

Nicole looked over at him for a moment, taking in his graying slicked back hair and mustache. His big green eyes held none of the distant, none of the hatred his words held. She looked away from him and back at Waverly, sighing deeply. “No, she’s not, I’ve just upset her somehow.”

The man studied Nicole from his peripheral vision. She was watching Waverly with a look akin to a kicked puppy and he felt bad for her. He had seen what the redhead had done for Waverly and the way that Waverly was treating her now was inexcusable.

He did not raise her to treat people in that manner, especially not when they had just helped her.

“Here you go,” Waverly set the drinks down hard, spilling them just a bit then turned and walked away again.

Nicole watched her go, fighting the need to chase after her and make things right. She took her wallet out and slapped a few bills down on the counter before picking the drinks up and making her way back to Amy.

“Hey, you okay?” Amy asked when the redhead handed her her drink. Nicole had been grinning when she had left her just a minute ago and now, well now she looked like a kicked puppy.

Nicole looked over her shoulder at the bar, catching Waverly’s eyes as she poured a drink for the man Nicole had just been talking to. Waverly quickly looked away from and Nicole turned back to Amy, nodding her head yes and downing her beer in one go. “You wanna get out of here?”

 

Waverly watched the couple walk out of Shorty’s hand in hand. And that damn jealously settled in her chest once more.

“Waverly Earp, I know Gus and I raised you better than that.” Her Uncle Curtis gave her a disappointing look as he folded his arms across his chest.

It wasn’t often that he was disappointed in her. Actually she was pretty sure she had never disappointed him before now. She had always done everything in her power to be the good Earp. To be the perfect child. To cause him and Gus the least amount of trouble. To keep them having to worry about her 24/7.

Wynonna had been a handful growing up and the last thing she had wanted was to add to their burden.

“I know, I know, I just,” Waverly sighed and laid her head on top of the bar, instantly regretting the action when her forehead came into contact with the beer she had split earlier.

She couldn’t justify the way she treated Nicole to her Uncle when she could hardly justify it to herself. She was upset (mostly with herself than with Nicole) and she had taken it out on Nicole. And dammit it was wrong and she felt guilty as hell about it and she knew that at some point she was going to have to apologize to Nicole.

And hopefully Nicole would forgive her and if she didn’t well, Waverly would do whatever she had to get Nicole to forgive her. She would beg if needed.

“I screwed up,” she admitted, picking her head up off the bar and wiping her forehead with the hem of her shirt. Great she was going to smell like beer the rest of the night.  She deserved it for the way she had snapped at Nicole when all Nicole was trying to do was help her. “But I’ll make it right.”

She had no idea how she was going to make things right between her and Nicole but, she was going to do it. One way or another.

“You better.”

Chapter Text

Sunlight filtering in through her bedroom window, roused Nicole from her peaceful slumber. She groaned and rolled over, throwing her arm across the bed, hitting a warm and very naked body.

For a fleeting moment panic set in as she peaked at the sleeping form under her arm. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding when she saw Amy fast asleep next to her, usually tamed curls fanned out wildly on the pillows around her.

She remembered falling into bed with Amy sometime after they had left Shorty’s. It hadn’t been her intention to sleep with her when she asked Amy if she wanted to leave the saloon. Really it wasn’t.

She had just wanted to get away from Waverly and the anger she (unintently), caused the other woman. She doubted she’d ever forget the way Waverly had looked at her, eyes burning with fury when all she wanted to do was help.

Nicole sighed and turned her eyes towards the ceiling.

Did she screw up by stepping in and helping Waverly? Waverly nearly bit her head off for it. Maybe she should have just stayed out of it and let Waverly take care of herself. No. She wouldn’t have been able to stay out of it. She wouldn’t have been able to stand around and watch as that man harassed Waverly (or anyone for that matter).

Nothing made Nicole’s blood boil more than a man who thought it was okay to put his hands on a woman with the intent to harm them, or a woman who thought it was okay to put her hands on a man with the intent to harm them.

Nicole sighed and tried to push thoughts of Waverly from her mind. She’ll deal with fixing things between them later. Right now there was a very beautiful, very naked woman in her bed and she deserved Nicole’s full attention.

She reached over and brushed a stray curl from Amy’s face, tucking it gently behind her ear before pressing a light kiss to her forehead.

She hadn’t planned to sleep with Amy when she asked if she wanted to leave Shorty’s last night. And when they ended up at her place, she still wasn’t planning to sleep with her but, then they shared a few beers while watching reruns of CSI and talking about everything and nothing at the same time, it just sort of happened.

It had started off as a slow kiss testing the waters, that quickly turned into two, hands slowly wandered over clothes then under. Shirts quickly came off, followed by bras and jeans as they stumbled their way into Nicole’s bedroom.

The sex had been good, great, amazing even. The best Nicole had had in awhile but, maybe that’s because she hadn’t had sex in almost a year. In between the academy, cheating  ex-girlfriend, trying to find a job far from her hometown, moving and settling into her new apartment (which she hadn’t exactly done, there was still so much unpacking to do), it hadn’t left Nicole much time for random hook-ups and one night stands.

“Mmm, morning,” Amy mumbled as she rolled over and wrapped an arm around Nicole’s naked torso, peppering Nicole’s chest with light kisses, pulling Nicole from her thoughts.

“Good morning,” Nicole smiled at the other woman, placing a kiss to the top of her head, like they’ve done this a thousand times, like this isn’t the first time they’ve woken up in bed together.  

Nicole expected it to be awkward because isn’t always awkward? Waking up next to someone who is more or less a stranger?

Amy kissed a trail up the redhead’s chest, up her neck and along her jawline stopping to suck on Nicole’s rapidly beating pulse point as Nicole lets out breathy moans and tangled her fingers in Amy’s hair.

When she’s sure she has left a mark, not caring that it will be hard to conceal for work, Amy released the skin between her lips with a soft pop and pressed her lips to Nicole’s, hard.

Then she’s pulling away a few seconds later, lips turned up in disgust but her blue eyes shine with playfulness. “Your breath is terrible.”

Nicole rolls her eyes and shoved Amy off of her. “Your breath is no better.”

Amy laughed and propped herself up with her elbow, smiling as her eyes rake down Nicole’s chest, taking in the marks littering her pale skin. She may have gotten a little carried away last night.

Nicole returned her smile and brushes more wild curls behind Amy’s ear, allowing her hand to linger at the back of her neck.

If Nicole was looking for something serious, something permanent, if she wasn’t hung up on a certain bartender (no matter how hard she tried to push those feelings down), she could see herself falling into a relationship with Amy and probably being happier than she had been in a really long time.

But she couldn’t, she wouldn’t fall into a relationship with Amy when she was in fact hung up on Waverly Earp, on someone she can never have. She wouldn’t enter a relationship she couldn’t give her all and she couldn’t give her all to Amy.

“Breakfast?” Nicole asked, slipping from the bed and walking towards her dresser, pulling a clean pair of Calvin Klein boyshorts out and slipping them up her legs and letting them settle over her hips. “We can stay in or go to the diner?”

Nicole looks over her shoulder when she doesn’t get an answer and instantly shakes her head with a roll of her eyes. Amy isn’t listening to a word she’s saying. She’s too busy staring at Nicole’s ass.

“Amy.”

“Hmmm?” Amy tore her eyes from Nicole’s backside, smirking as Nicole puts on a pair of basketball shorts. Who could blame her for staring? Nicole was gorgeous. Nicole had the body of a goddess.

“Diner or no?” Nicole asked pulling a light grey t-shirt, with ‘Purgatory Sheriff Department’ written across the chest, over her now bra clad chest.

“Mmmm, diner,” Amy answered as she stretched out across the bed. “The pancakes there are to die for.”

“Okay, I’ll grab your clothes real quick,” Nicole left the bedroom in search of Amy’s clothes that were scattered all along her apartment and to feed McGonagall, who started meowing the second she seen her owner.

Amy sat up in the bed, looking around Nicole’s room, taking in the few picture frames lining the wall along both sides of her dresser. She didn’t really have a chance to get a good look of it last night. Not that she minded, what Nicole’s room looked like was the last thing on her mind at the time.

She got up from the bed and wandered over to the closest frame. She grinned at the picture of a tiny Nicole, no older than 6 or 7, wearing a black stetson way too big for her, long wild red hair sticking from underneath it. She was sitting on the hood of a police cruiser with an older man with the same red hair in uniform, that Amy assumed was Nicole’s father. Both were grinning proudly at whoever had taken the picture and Amy couldn’t help but grin.

Of course Nicole had come from a family of law enforcement. Of course she had wanted to be a police officer from a young age. She wore her uniform with a certain pride that only came being apart of a family of law enforcement agents.

Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away started playing from Nicole’s phone on her nightstand. Amy just stared at it for a few seconds, wondering if she should answer it or not.

“Could you get that?” Nicole’s voice floated through the apartment.

“Sure,” Amy walked over to the nightstand and picked up the phone, not bothering to check who was calling as she answered it. “Hello.”


 

”Nicole?” Waverly pulled her phone away from her ear to check the caller id. She was sure she had called the right number but the voice that picked up definitely wasn't Nicole's.


“She’s a bit busy at the moment.”   There was some movement on the other line, followed by a breathless moan and Nicole’s voice, asking who was on the phone.

Waverly quickly ended the call and tossed her phone on the bar with a sigh. Of course they would have spent the night together.

“Did you invite that redhead to breakfast with us?” Curtis asked as he walked into Shorty’s.

Waverly stuffed her phone into the back pocket of her shorts and made her way over to her Uncle. “She’s busy.”

Breakfast with Uncle Curtis was a weekly thing and truthfully it was the highlight of her week. They had been going to breakfast once a week ever since she went to live with Curtis and Gus. It had been her Uncle’s attempt to put some kind of normalcy in her life, some kind of routine after her father and sister had been killed, after Wynonna had been sent away for blaming their deaths on demons.

Sometimes Gus or Champ tagged along, sometimes both of them but, for the most part it was just her and Curtis, sitting in the same booth at the same diner, enjoying the same chocolate pancakes and coffee.

“Well maybe try to invite her to lunch,” he said giving her shoulder a squeeze. “I expect you to have apologized to her by tomorrow morning.”

She nodded her head as Champ bounced down the stairs finally dressed and ready to go.

“Is Gus coming?” Waverly asked as they made their way out of Shorty’s and to Curtis’s truck.

She felt like she hadn’t seen her Aunt in weeks. When in reality it had only been a few days but Champ had been with them, trying to suck her face the entire time, with absolutely zero regard to the fact that her Aunt had been right there.

His disrespect for her and her family was probably the thing she disliked about him the most. Yet, she still put up with it, with him, day in and day out because she loved him. Or at least that’s what she told herself and she figured if she repeated the words enough times, she’d believe them.

“Not today, she had some errands to run before opening Shorty’s up,” Curtis opened the passenger door to his truck for Waverly when it was clear that Champ wasn’t going to do it.

He cared very little for the younger man. Only putting up with him for Waverly’s sake. Only giving him a job on his ranch in hopes that the responsibility would make him grow up, finally be a man, treat Waverly better.

Waverly Earp was his pride and joy (besides his tomatoes). Him and his wife having no kids of their own and Wynonna being in and out of an institution, in and out of juvie, in and out of town (he’d never forgive himself for not being able to help Wynonna, heal her and for failing her), meant Waverly had their undivided attention growing up and even now.

He only wanted the best for Waverly and Champ wasn’t the best, he was nowhere near the best, no matter how hard Curtis tried to shape him into something deserving of Waverly.

The short car ride to the diner was spent in silence except for Waverly humming away to whatever was playing on the radio.

When they walked into the diner Hetty, their usual waitress nodded to their booth with a smile. “I’ll be right with you.”

“Take your time,” Curtis told her, like her told her every week as they made their way to the booth. They were never in any rush when they had breakfast. Curtis treated their breakfast dates as if it was the most important thing he had planned for the day and it was something Waverly was grateful for.

“So what are you getting?” He asked as they sat down, looking over a menu. Her and Champ on one side, him on the other.

Waverly rolled her eyes and picked up her menu as well, knowing full well that they would be ordering the same thing they always ordered but, this was a tradition in itself. One she happily played along with.

Breakfast with her Uncle was one of the more carefree times of her childhood. Weekly breakfast was probably the only time Waverly ever truly relaxed and got to be herself. There was no pressure to be the good Earp, the perfect Earp and well, she lived for those moments and cherished them.

“I don’t see why y’all go through this charade every week when you both know damn well that you’re going to order the exact same thing that you’ve been ordering for years,” Champ huffed an annoyed sigh, tired of the two commenting back and forth about what looks good on the menu.

“Champ,” Waverly warned. This wasn’t the first time he been, well for lack of a better word, a dick about their little tradition.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as Hetty came to take their order, already setting two coffee cups down in front of Waverly and Curtis, and setting a coke down in front of him.

“What can I getcha?” Hetty asked, already writing Curtis’ and Waverly’s order down. She played along with their game every week, mainly because Curtis tipped well when she did.

The bell above the front door to the diner chimed as a couple walked in.

“Have a seat anywhere, I’ll be right there,” Hetty called over her shoulder.

“Take your time,” a very familiar voice said, causing Waverly’s head to jerk up in the direction of the door.

Nicole stood by the door, looking every bit of perfect that she always did, with her beautiful red hair down under a Toronto Raptors snapback. When Nicole caught her staring, Waverly gave her a shy smile and a small wave.

Nicole did not return her smile or wave, just nodded her head in greeting as she and Amy made their way to a booth, two tables down from Waverly.

Waverly hated that she watched them like a hawk. Her eyes following their every movement. Taking in Nicole’s hand at the small of Amy’s back, leading her to the booth. Taking in how happy and relaxed Nicole seemed with Amy.

She hated that Nicole hadn’t given her the usual dimpled smile. She hated the way her gut twisted with want at the thought of Nicole’s hand at the small of her back. She hated how she couldn’t help but to glare at Amy when she looked this way. She hated that she wasn’t the cause of Nicole’s happiness. And she hated that she had no right think or feel any of those things after the way she treated the redhead last night.

Waverly shook the thoughts from her head and turned her attention back to Hetty, rattling off her order after Curtis asked what todays special was.


 

Nicole studied Waverly and the man from the bar last night, for a few silent minutes. Her brows knitted together in confusion.

Why was Waverly having breakfast with the man that called her a bitch last night? And if she knew the man, then why the hell had he called her a bitch?

“That’s her Uncle,”  Amy said nudging Nicole’s foot with her own, gaining her attention once more.

“Her Uncle?”

What kind of Uncle called their niece a bitch? What kind of Uncle bad mouthed their niece in front of a complete stranger?”

“Mhm, he took her in after her father was killed,” Amy told her, pouring sugar into the coffee Hetty had sat down. “He’s been pretty protective of her ever since, always trying to keep Champ from running around on her.”

Nicole’s nails dug into the palm of her hand at that last bit of information. How could someone who had Waverly Earp as their girlfriend even think about cheating on her? Waverly was sweet and kind and everything good in the world and she deserved so much better than some boy-man that cheats on her.

Her heart broke for Waverly Earp once more and she wondered if it would ever stop breaking for her. She wondered if Waverly’s life would be anything other than one heartbreak after another. She wondered if she could do anything to stop the world from breaking Waverly, to protect her from another heartbreak.

She would do anything, give anything to keep the world from breaking Waverly down. She would do anything, give anything to keep the world from stomping out the ray of sunshine that is Waverly Earp.

“Does she know?”

Would she tell Waverly if she didn’t know? If she had proof that Champ was actually cheating on her and not just gossip, would she tell Waverly? Could she bring herself to be the one to break Waverly’s heart?

The answer was no. She knew what it felt like to be cheated on. She knew how earth shattering, soul crushing it was to find out that the person you loved most in the world, the person you trusted most in the world, the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with cheats on you.

It’s devastating. It’s life altering. It fucking destroys you, makes you question everything and everyone. And Nicole wouldn’t do that to Waverly, couldn’t hurt her like that. She didn’t have the guts to.

“Probably,” Amy shrugged as if she didn’t care one way or the other. “Waverly Earp may be a lot of things but she’s not stupid.”

She knew Waverly was smart, super smart. So that begs the question, why would she stay with someone she knows is cheating on her?

Was the comfort and companionship Champ offered her worth enough that she just overlooked the cheating?  

Nicole turned her attention back to Amy. “So are the pancakes really to die for?”


 

Nicole pulled her squad car to a stop in front of Shorty’s and cut the engine off but, made no move to get out of the car.

She tried speaking with Waverly at the diner but every time Champ would swoop in and steal Waverly’s attention away and Waverly? Well, she allowed him to.

Not that Nicole blamed her for that. He was her boyfriend after all and Waverly’s loyalty lies with him not her.

She respected that, or at least she was trying to. Ever since Amy had told her that Champ was fooling around on Waverly, Nicole just wanted to bash the fucker in the face.

She still could not wrap her head around Champ having someone as pure, as sweet, as amazing as Waverly Earp and cheating on her. Honestly, she couldn’t wrap her head around Waverly being with someone like Champ.

Nicole scrubbed her hands over her face and looked at the clock on the dashboard. She had less that 15 minutes before her and Eric’s shift started. She drew the short straw and got to run the speed trap just outside of town, while Eric got to man the station.

Not that manning the station at night was any better than running the speed trap but at least Eric wouldn’t have to sit in a car for hours on end.

Nicole grabbed her stetson from the passenger seat and pocketed her car keys as she stepped out of the car. She placed her stetson on her head and made her way into the saloon.

The smell of stale beer hit her nostrils the second she walked into Shorty’s. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, she scanned the nearly empty saloon for Waverly.

Not seeing Waverly, Nicole walked up to the bar, flagging the woman behind the bar down. “Excuse me Ma’am, is Waverly Earp around?”

The older woman with short salt and pepper hair looked up at Nicole with wide eyes panic filled eyes. “ ‘Fraid not Officer, is everything okay?”

“It’s not Wynonna is it?” The woman gripped the counter top tightly, waiting for the Officer’s reply with baited breath.

“Oh no Ma’am it’s nothing like that,” Nicole sent her an apologetic smile and took the stetson off her head, silently cursing herself for worrying the woman.

From what she heard from Amy last night, Wynonna Earp caused a lot of people to worry, caused a lot of people trouble.

She wondered if Waverly was constantly worried that something had happened to her older sister every time a cop walked into Shorty’s.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to worry you Ma’am, this is a personal visit, not official,” Nicole placed her hand on top of the older woman’s, a show of comfort she seen her grandfather do a thousand times. “I forget that this uniform often carries bad news, I really am sorry for worrying you.”  

“Jesus Officer,” the woman squinted at Nicole’s name tag, heaving a sigh of relief. “Haught, maybe next time led with that fact that you are not here on official business.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Nicole nodded, looking every bit as guilty as she felt. Nicole’s gaze fell to the bar and began running her fingers along the smooth wooden surface.

“Gus,” the woman told Nicole, taking pity on the young officer and offering her hand. “Gus McCreedy, Waverly’s aunt.”  

“Nice to meet you, Officer Nicole Haught, Purgatory’s newest rookie,” Nicole shook Gus’s hand with a grin. “Though I’m sure you could tell.”

“Waverly’s not here right now but, Champ should be leaving any minute to pick her up from the library if you want to wait for her.”

“I have to start my shift, could just let her know that I stopped by?” Nicole asked, picking her stetson up off the bar and placing it back on her head.

“Of course Officer Haught, have a good evening.”

Nicole tipped her hat at Gus and made her way out the saloon.  

“Champ,” Gus called out to the man as he made his way through Shorty’s to the entrance. “Let Waverly know that Officer Haught stopped by please.”

“Sure thing Gus!” With a wave he was out the door, with absolutely no intention of telling Waverly that Haught was looking for her.


 

When Waverly finally takes a break that night and heads into the kitchen for something to eat and to get away from drunken leering men and Champ’s grabby hands, she’s annoyed and exhausted. And she might just be wondering what Nicole is up to, if she’ll come in and if she’ll actually get a chance to apologize without Champ getting in the way.

She wanted to apologize in the diner this morning. Hell Uncle Curtis kept telling her to and she was going to, she swears she was. When she finally worked up the nerve to, Champ pulled her into a conversation about some topic she didn’t give two shits about but, she stayed and she listened because that’s what good girlfriends do.

When Nicole stopped by their table on her way out, giving her the perfect chance to apologize, Champ pulled her into his side and began talking before Waverly could utter a word to Nicole. When Champ finally stopped talking, Nicole had already left looking dejected and more than a little hurt, leaving Waverly feeling empty and terrible.

Waverly pulled her phone out of the back pocket of her jean shorts and scrolled through her contacts for Nicole’s number, thumb hovering over it with uncertainty.

She called earlier but Nicole didn’t answered and it felt like Nicole was ignoring her, avoiding her (and she deserved it) and it hurt a lot more than she’d like to admit. Logically she knows that Nicole was probably just busy and couldn’t answer the phone at the time and hasn’t had time to call her back but, there was a voice in the back of her mind, telling her that Nicole was ignoring her and didn’t want to speak to her anymore. And she was finding it hard not to believe it.

Waverly slid her phone back into her pocket and turned towards the grill, where their head cook Danny was flipping a few burgers.

“Hey Danny, can you make me one of those please?”

”Of course anything for my favorite Earp.”

“We both know Wynonna is your favorite Earp, you did date her in high school,” she said leaning against the prep counter.

“Exactly why you’re my favorite Earp.” He winked at her over his shoulder. “We both know Wynonna was never a one man woman, never one to settle down with anyone or in any place.”

Danny was one of the few people in town that didn’t hate Wynonna, that didn’t judge her for her actions. He tried to understand and tried to help her but, no one could help Wynonna (she didn’t want help), not even Waverly.

When Wynonna left, Danny had been there for Waverly. Always willing to listen to her talk about how much she missed her sister and how much she wished Wynonna would come back and stay, or just take Waverly with her.

Danny was a friend, a friend she only had because of Wynonna (all her friends were someone else's friends and they merely put up with her), but he was a friend none the less and those were few and far between for an Earp, so she’d take it.

Before Waverly could come up with a reply, Gus came into the kitchen carrying empty plates.

“Hey, you talk to Officer Haught?” She asked as she passed by Waverly to throw the dishes into the sink to be washed later.

“Nicole? No, Why?”

“She came by earlier looking for you, I told Champ to tell you,”

“He didn’t tell me,” Waverly gritted her teeth.

Of course he wouldn’t have told her. Why would he? He didn’t like Nicole and didn’t want Waverly around her. He told her ‘something about her rubs me the wrong way’. As if him telling her that would keep her from spending time with Nicole.

It hadn’t and it wouldn’t. Nicole actually listened to her, actually cared about what she had to say, wasn’t constantly telling her to shut her brain off or trying to shove her tongue down Waverly’s throat.

Nicole cared about her, the real her. The one she kept buried deep down inside and hardly ever let show. And Waverly had ruined it last night. She had been a bitch to the one person who saw her, really saw her and who had only been trying to help.

Waverly had shoved Nicole’s kindness back in her face without even meaning to. She needed to make it right and she needed to do it tonight.

“I swear that boy would forget his head if it wasn’t attached to his shoulders.”

Both Gus and Danny laughed because it was true. Champ wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box and usually if it did not have anything to do with him then he couldn’t be bothered.

“Can you cover my shift? Please Gus?” Waverly asked, already forming a plan to make things up to Nicole.

“Why?” Gus asked, arms crossed over her chest as she stared at her niece. It wasn’t often that Waverly asked for someone to cover her shift. She was always a hard worker, willing to cover for anyone who asked but hardly asked anyone to cover for her.

“There’s something I have to fix, to make right.” She didn’t want to tell her Aunt exactly what she needed to make right. She could hardly stand seeing Curtis disappointed in her. She didn’t want to see Gus be disappointed as well.

“This have anything to do with how you treated Officer Haught last night?”

“How do you know about that? You weren’t even here.” Of course Gus would have heard. Everyone knew everything about everyone in Purgatory, nothing was ever a secret for very long.

“Curtis told me, he was very disappointed with how you acted.”

Waverly waited for the ‘So am I’ that was surely to follow, along with the look she had seen Gus give Wynonna a thousand times during her childhood (when Wynonna was actually around).

“I’m sure you had your reasons, I’ll cover for you but you’re cleaning up after close.”  

“Thanks Gus,” Waverly kissed Gus on the cheek as she walked by. “Danny could you throw another burger on there?”


 

Two hours. Nicole had been out here for two long hours and had already pulled four people over for speeding, written four tickets for speeding and one for a broken taillight. She was already tired and bored and just wanted to be anywhere but sitting on the side of the road waiting for another idiot to speed past the only speed trap Purgatory had (that was also very well known to everyone in town).

As if on cue a vehicle sped down the road out of Purgatory. Nicole sighed as the radar gun clocked the vehicle going 80 MPH in a 45 zone. Honestly was no one smart enough to slow down just a bit before they hit the speed trap?

Nicole started the cruiser, flipped on the lights and sirens and sped after the car. “Here we go again.”

For a brief second, Nicole thought the driver was going to try to outrun her as they showed no sign of slowing down. She wasn’t going to lie, she kinda wished they hadn’t started to slow down. A car chase would definitely make this shift much more fun. Plus she loved driving at high speeds (she had a few tickets from high school to attest to that fact), it was exhilarating.

With a sigh of relief and a tad bit of disappointment, she pulled the cruiser to a stop behind the vehicle, turning the sirens off but leaving the lights on.  

Nicole grabbed her stetson off the passenger seat, along with her ticket book and stepped out of the cruiser.

Nicole groaned as she walked towards the red jeep. Waverly’s red jeep. Of course the one person she found it really hard to remain professional around would be who she pulled over. She could at least have a little fun messing with Waverly.

She took a deep breath, straighten her spine and dropped into what her grandfather called ‘cop mode’.

“Licence and registration,” Nicole said as she stepped up to the driver door.

“Nicole it’s me,” Waverly smiled but it fell just as quickly as it appeared at the hard look Nicole was giving her.

Waverly was suddenly nervous. So maybe speeding wasn’t the best way to get Nicole’s attention but, she hadn’t answered any of Waverly’s calls and Waverly didn’t know what else to do.  

“Licence and registration Miss Earp,” Nicole tapped her foot impatiently on the shoulder of the road, fighting to keep a smile off her face.

Waverly handed over her licence and registration.  

“Are you aware how fast you were going?” Nicole’s voice held that same authority that it had held the night before and it had Waverly clenching her thighs together.

She shouldn’t find her attractive. She shouldn’t find the hard lines on Nicole’s face attractive or the authority lacing her every word. She shouldn’t find Nicole in her uniform attractive, but dammit, it was hard not to.

“Uh probably close to 80,” Waverly shrugged then motioned to the takeout box in the passenger seat. “I brought you a burger.”

“Are you trying to bribe an officer Miss Earp?” Nicole hid her smirk by looking down at her ticket book. She was having a little too much fun messing with Waverly. She should feel bad about it but there was something satisfying about watching Waverly sweat after the way she acted last night.

Because how Waverly acted last night made her angry and it had hurt her way more than she was willing to admit and Waverly deserved to sweat a little when she clearly came to apologize.

Because if Nicole allowed her to apologize right away, she would accept the words ‘I’m sorry’ the very second they left Waverly’s mouth and then, Waverly might see how much she liked her. And she might run away, far away and Nicole couldn’t handle that.

As much as she wanted Waverly. Wanted to hold her and kiss her. Wanted to keep her safe and make her happy. She wanted to be her friend more, wanted her in her life in any form more. So she couldn’t risk it, wouldn’t risk it.

“What? No!” Waverly’s eyes widened as she shook her no repeatedly.

“Get out of the vehicle Miss Earp.” Her voice held that same authority as before and Waverly hated that it still made her clenched her thighs together.

Waverly just stared at Nicole. She didn’t move, didn’t quite believe that Nicole was being serious.

Nicole raised an eyebrow at her and tapped her foot on the ground once more.

Waverly reluctantly unbuckled and stepped out of the jeep.

“Up against the vehicle.”

Waverly did as Nicole said, heart pounding hard in her chest. She couldn’t believe that in her attempt to apologize to Nicole, she was going to be arrested and by Nicole for God’s sake.

“I’m kidding Earp,” Nicole cracked a dimpled smile.

“You’re an ass!” Waverly shoved Nicole’s shoulder hard, sending her stumbling back a few steps.

“Yeah, yeah I am,” Nicole’s smiled didn’t falter as she stepped closer to Waverly, so she wasn’t standing in the middle of the road. 

“You scared the hell out of me, I thought you were actually going to arrest me,” Waverly went to shove Nicole again but Nicole grasped her wrist lightly.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole told her, carelessly Waverly’s wrist with her thumb.

“Don’t be, I deserved it, I was an ass last night.”

“You were,” Nicole agreed with a small smile, dropping Waverly’s wrist even though she didn’t want to. “You brought me a burger?”

“And a coffee,” Waverly turned back towards the jeep, leaning in to grab the takeout box and the coffee from the cup holder. “As an apology for how I acted last night.”

When Waverly turned back around Nicole took the takeout box and the coffee then, started walking back to her cruiser, motioning for Waverly to follow.

She placed the box and the coffee on the hood of the car, before moving to turn the cruiser's flashing lights off.

“How did you know I was out here?” Nicole asked as she leaned against the cruise’s hood, picking up the takeout box and opening it up.

She hadn’t realized up Waverly mentioned food that she was starving. She had not eaten since she had breakfast with Amy and it was now quickly approaching ten o’clock.

“I went by the station and traded Eric a burger for the information,” Waverly grabbed a fry out of the box.

Nicole shook her head in amusement. Of course Eric could be bribed with food. His wife would kill him if she found out that he was breaking his diet...again.

“Did you eat?” Nicole asked, already pulling her pocket knife out and cutting the burger in half, offering Waverly one half.

“It’s supposed to be for you,” Waverly protested lightly even as she took the half Nicole offered. ”It’s not much of an apology if I eat half of it.”

“Just eat the damn burger Earp.”

They ate in silence for a few moments, both staring up at the stars trying to figure out where to begin to apologize.

Nicole might not have really needed to apologize but she still felt the need to. She still felt she had overstepped some line last night and she needed Waverly to know that she didn’t mean to.

“I’m sorry,” Waverly broke the silence, dragging the toe of her right cowboy boot across the dirt covered ground. She was never any good at apologizing, something she had gotten from Wynonna. “I’m sorry for what that man said to you and I’m sorry for how I treated you.”

Nicole didn’t say anything at first, just continued looking up at the night sky, at the thousands of stars shining in the sky. Stars that reminded her of nights spent with her grandfather, staring up at the constellations on the rare nights they camped out.

She would forgive Waverly, of course she would. The question was, did she tell Waverly how much she had actually hurt her? Did she tell Waverly that her words, her actions had hurt way more than so rednecks slurs?

“You hurt me,” Nicole whispered looking over at Waverly with sad brown eyes. “I was just trying to help, I just wanted to help.”

“I was jealous.”

“Jealous?” Nicole’s heart skipped a beat and she was pretty sure she’d stop breathing all together. Because if Waverly was jealous of Amy that meant she had to have some kind of feelings for her right?

No, stop. If she went down that path, if she got her hopes up that maybe, just maybe Waverly wanted more, wanted her then she’d just get her heartbroken all over again and this she might not survive.

Women like Waverly didn’t leave men (she used the term loosely, because he wasn’t a man),  like Champ for someone like her.

What was it about Waverly that made her lose all the confidence she spent years building up? Waverly made her feel like she was back in high school, crushing on the popular girl that had no idea she existences.  

“Of what?”

“Every friend I have is an extension of someone else and you, you were mine, a friend I made on my own, not through Champ or anyone else and I was afraid that Amy was going to take that away for me,” Wavelry’s voice was no more than a whisper as the last words left her lips. “I thought she was going to take you away from me and I lashed out in fear.”  

Nicole set the takeout box somewhere behind her and turned to face Waverly fully. She placed two fingers under her chin and turn Waverly face until their eyes met.

There was a certain sadness in Waverly’s eyes. The same sadness Nicole had seen when they first had coffee together. The same sadness that made Nicole want to do whatever she had to get rid of it.

“I’m not going anywhere Waverly.” She moved the fingers under Waverly’s chin along her jawline and up to cup her cheek, caressing the skin underneath her thumb. “I’m your friend first and nothing and nobody is going to change that.”

Waverly’s eyes fluttered closed and she leaned into Nicole’s touch. She didn’t realize how starved she was for such a gentle touch, a comforting touch, until Nicole’s hand was on her cheek. Champ rarely touched her if it wasn’t going to lead to sex.

“Everyone leaves, everyone, even when they promise they’ll stay.”

She didn’t mean to say it, didn’t mean to let it slip out, didn’t mean to be so open, so vulnerable. She really didn’t but, there was something about Nicole that made the walls she built up come crashing down, that made her want to finally be open with someone, that made her want someone to see through the act she put on for everyone else.

“Then I won’t promise that I won’t leave, I’ll just prove it everyday.”  

Waverly wanted to cry in that moment. What did she do to deserve someone like Nicole in her life? Someone so sweet, so willing to calm all her fears. Someone so willing to be there for her no matter how terrible she had been.

“I don’t deserve a friend like you,” Waverly opened her eyes, looking into Nicole’s soft brown ones.

“You deserve the world Waverly Earp,” Nicole dropped her hand from Waverly’s cheek, turning back to look up at the stars. If she looked into Waverly’s eyes for too long, she might do something stupid like kiss her.

“You’re still getting a ticket for speeding.”

Chapter Text

Waverly walked into the police station, carrying a tray full of coffees in one hand, her coffee in the other and had a bag slung over her shoulder filled with books from the library.

Her and Nicole have taken to spending time together every day around lunch. Expect today Nicole canceled, saying something about having to review a case for Nedley.

Waverly would be lying if she said she wasn’t disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to see Nicole, even if just for an hour.

So Waverly decided to surprise Nicole with coffee anyways and of course the other officers on duty. She brought some books along with her that way even if Nicole was still busy reviewing some case, they could at least sit in the breakroom, enjoy their coffee and do their own thing.

There was no one else that Waverly could just sit in silence with while they both did their own thing. Being alone with Champ meant that they had to be doing something together (usually something Champ chose). When they were alone together, it was like they were one person instead of two completely different people, with completely different interests.

It was nice and new to be able to just sit and be with someone just for the comfort or just because you wanted to be around them and they wanted to be around you too.

“Miss Earp, so good to see you,” Eric called from the front desk, quickly scrambling to hide the file he had been reading over. A file on missing girls from a couple years ago that Nicole had given him a few minutes prior, that she had dug up in the archives in the basement. A file that Nedley nor anyone else but Nicole knew he had.  

He nodded towards the coffees she was carrying. “One of those for me?”

“Of course, gotta keep Purgatory’s finest caffeinated,” Waverly smiled setting her coffee on the desk and handing him the coffee cup marked two sugars.

She’s brought coffee to the station enough times in the past few days that she has everyone’s order down. Not that it was hard to really remember, there was only five officer, counting Nicole, plus Sheriff Nedley.

“Right, right, as long as your favorite officer is on duty right?” He winked at Waverly then took a sip of the coffee, wincing as the coffee burnt his tongue.

Waverly blushed a deep shade of red and ducked her head, tripping over her words. “I...I….We’re friends, she’s my friend.”

Her best friend. A friend she made all on her own. A friend she felt she could truly be herself around. A friend she truly felt comfortable with. A friend she knew wouldn’t judge her for her quirks.

Don’t get her wrong, Chrissy Nedley was a great friend but, she was no Nicole Haught. Chrissy didn’t make her feel as safe as Nicole did. Chrissy didn’t make her feel as warm and as accepted as Nicole did.

Maybe it was wrong to compare the two but Waverly couldn’t help but to compare Nicole to everyone around her. Nicole was new and shiny and she made Waverly feel things no one had ever made her feel before. And if she was being completely honest with herself, it scared her.

It terrified her that this one person had turned her life upside down, made her question and reevaluate all the relationships she had with people.

“Eric, who are you harassing?” Nicole asked as she walked up to the front desk, slapping another file down for Eric to look over, lowering her voice as she spoke. “I made some notes on things we should probably follow up on.”

Nicole looked up from the file to where Waverly was standing, still holding the tray of coffees. She couldn’t help the grin that made it’s way onto her face as she stepped around the desk, quickly forgetting about the file she just handed off to Eric.

“Waverly, hey, what are you doing here? Did I not tell you I couldn’t do lunch today?”

“Coffee,” Waverly held the tray of coffees up.

Nicole came to stop in front of Waverly, picking up the cup labeled Nicole in Amy’s delicate handwriting. “You didn’t have to do this Waves, we can survive on the sludge Nedley tries to pass off as coffee but, thank you.”

Waverly tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear almost shyly, Nicole followed the motion with her eyes, fingers twitching against her coffee cup. It was weird, she had never wanted to brush hair behind a girl’s ear as much as she wanted to brush a stray strand of hair behind Waverly’s ear.

Maybe allow her fingers linger than for a moment, before letting her hand drift down to cup Waverly’s cheek and maybe just maybe, pull her in for a kiss.

No, no, no. Don’t go there Nicole. Waverly is your friend, your best friend. Even if she wasn’t, she’d never feel the same way. She’s too good for you.

Nicole had never thought about kissing someone as much as she thought about kissing Waverly. Almost every moment they were together, Nicole was thinking about kissing her, holding her, touching her smooth skin in some way. And it was slowly driving her crazy.

“Do you want to come sit in the break room with me?” Nicole asked motioning down the hall where said break room was located. “I have to do some paperwork but I wouldn’t mind the company.”

Waverly nodded and smiled. “I brought books.”

“Always prepared,” Nicole winked and made her way to her desk to grab the files she is supposed to be filling out for Nedley and not the ones she’s supposed to keep hidden for everyone but Eric.

They have barely made heads or tails of all the strange things that have been happening around Purgatory for decades. For decades weird and unexplainable shit has been happening here and has just been swept under a rug by anyone in a position of power.

Nicole and Eric were determined to get to the bottom of it but it was proving harder than they first thought it would be. Add on the fact that they had to hide what they were doing from everyone made it that much harder. Not that talking quietly about some of the stuff in the middle of the station could be considered discreet.

“I’m a planner.” Waverly set the tray of coffees down for Eric to hand out and followed Nicole to the break room.

“Oh trust me, I remember.” How could she forget anything from her first interaction with Waverly? Especially when Waverly had been standing in front of her shirtless and rambling adorably.  

“So, what are you reading?” Nicole asked, pushing her paperwork away and looking up at Waverly, who was staring down at the book in front of her,twirling a strand of hair around her finger, tongue poking out in concentration as she read.

Every time Nicole thought she had never seen Waverly look more beautiful, Waverly goes and proves her wrong.

They have been sitting in silence for twenty minutes or so and Nicole was bored out of her mind. Don’t get her wrong, she loved being in the company of Waverly Earp, being with Waverly was comfortable and relaxing but, paperwork was a bore and sucked the life out of her (or that least it felt that way).

“I’m researching Wyatt Earp and the outlaws he killed,” Waverly answered, not looking up from the book.  

“Wyatt Earp? Any relation?” Nicole knew very little about Wyatt Earp other than the fact that he had apparently drank at Shorty’s.

“Mhm, great-grandfather,” Waverly looked up at Nicole. “Didn’t you know that? Didn’t you know that this is Earp country?”

“Honestly, I seen the signs in Shorty’s but I never put two and two together,” Nicole shrugged then took a sip of her now cold cappuccino.

“You’d be a terrible detective.”

“You wound me Waverly Earp,” Nicole placed her hand on her heart and tapped it gently. “Right here.”

Waverly rolled her eyes and went back to reading her book. Nicole was a bit dramatic sometimes but, honestly Waverly loved it.

“Tell me about Wyatt and the outlaws he killed?”

“You really want to know?” Waverly asked. No one but her Uncle Curtis wanted to know about the things she was researching or the things she had found out about her heritage. She had tried to talk about them with Champ a few times but after a few minutes he’d tell her to shut her brain off and then try to make out with her.

“Of course.” Nicole propped her elbow on the table and rested her head in her hand.

With a nod, Waverly quickly launched into telling Nicole everything she had learned about Wyatt Earp over the past few years (leaving out anything on the Earp curse). She went into detail about all the outlaws she had dug up information on. She wished she had her notes so she could show pictures of the people she was talking about.

Nicole actually looked interested in what she was saying. Nicole listened intently to every word leaving her mouth at a rapid fire rate (she was impressed that Nicole was able to follow along). Waverly never knew it could feel so good to have someone actually listen to you talk about the things you were passionate about.  

Nicole could listen to Waverly talk for hours. She could recite the alphabet and Nicole would happily listen, smile and nod along as if it was the most interesting thing in the world and it would be to her because it was Waverly Earp.

“Hate to interrupt,” Eric poked his head into the room. “But, we got a case Nicole.”

“I’ll be right there,” Nicole began gathering up her papers quickly. “I’m sorry to cut this short, tell me more about it later?”

Waverly nodded. “Of course.”

Nicole smiled and stood, walking around to where Waverly was still sitting. “I’ll see you tonight, we’re all meeting at Shorty’s right?”

She was referring to the girls night that Jamie had invited them to last week. She had actually forgotten about it until Amy had brought it up yesterday morning when Nicole had her pinned against her front door with three fingers working inside of her (who talked about plans of going to the club when they were having sex?). Turns out that Amy is quite insatiable, not that Nicole minded one bit.

“As far as I know.” Waverly put a bookmark in her book and stuffed it in her bag, bringing Nicole from her thoughts.

“Alright, I’ll call you later,” Nicole smiled down at Waverly and without thinking, kissed the top of her head, breathing in the smell of her shampoo (almond and shea butter), then made her way towards the door.

She stopped in the doorway, staring straight ahead, with wide panic filled eyes. She just kissed Waverly Earp on the top of the head. She just kissed Waverly Earp on the top of the head.

Without saying anything, without looking back at Waverly to see if she was freaked out, grossed out, Nicole continued walking, cursing under her breath as she went.

Well if she hadn’t weirded Waverly out before with all her flirting and light touches then she definitely has now. Who just goes and randomly kisses people on the head?

“What’s wrong with your face?” Eric asked when she got in the car. Nicole had an absolutely horrified look on her face.  

“I kissed Waverly on the head as I was walking out,” Nicole mumbled looking down at her hands.

“How did she react?”

“I don’t know, I left as soon as it happened.”

“So glad you’re able to think on your feet there Haught,” Eric laughed as he put the car in drive and pulled out of the station parking lot.

Hopefully Waverly forgets the whole thing by tonight and things wouldn’t be awkward between them. The last thing she needed was her best friend feeling weird around her.

“I fucked up,” Nicole groaned, throwing her head back against the headrest.

Eric laughed again and patted her arm awkwardly (he wasn't good at comforting people). “It'll be okay.”


 

Nicole paced back and forth in front of Shorty’s, her insides a bundle of nerves and anxiety. She has not spoken to Waverly since she practically ran out of the station earlier.

She tried calling, several times but she kept chickening out. Eric told her to woman up, apologize and move on but, that was easier said than done.

Fear had a tight grip on her heart and wouldn’t let go. She felt like she might vomit at any given second.

She messed up. She messed up so fucking bad. What the hell was she thinking kissing Waverly? Oh, that’s right, she wasn’t thinking.  She let herself get too comfortable, too relaxed. She let herself forget that Waverly has a boyfriend. She let herself forget that they were nothing more than friends. She let herself get caught up in Waverly’s presences and the feeling of being around her, being alone with her.

She let herself slip up and ruined the best thing that happened to her since coming to Purgatory.

“Nicole?” Someone calling her name from her left pulled Nicole from her thoughts and she looked up at them with stormy brown eyes that seemed to be flashing with different emotions.

“Jamie, hey.” Nicole smiled, or at least she thinks she smiled but judging by the look on Jamie’s face, it didn’t quite come out as a smile, maybe more of a grimace.

“Are you okay?” Jamie asked, stepping closer to the redhead and placing a comforting hand on her arm.

They haven’t spent much time together outside of the station but, Nicole stilled considered Jamie to be a friend, sure a work friend but, a friend nonetheless. Right now, she could probably use a friend but, the thought of speaking her feelings for Waverly out loud scared her, would make them real.

As long as she didn’t utter the words out loud. As long as she didn’t tell another soul, Nicole could bury her feelings for Waverly deep down, she could pretend that they didn’t exist at all.

She could pretend she wanted nothing more from Waverly than friendship.

“I’m great,” Nicole lied with a tight lipped smile.

“Really?” Jamie asked, eyebrow raised in disbelief. “Because that face you’re making says otherwise.”

Nicole opened and closed her mouth a few times, debating if she should just confess her feelings to someone and be over with it or, if she should just put thoughts of the kiss and feelings for Waverly to the back of her mind and have fun tonight.

Her mind was made up for her as Amy made her way down the hallway straight for her, hips swaying in that provocative way of hers that had Nicole’s eyes glued to her every move.

“Hey Officer Haught,” Amy husked, wrapping her arms around Nicole’s neck then pulling her down for a heated kiss.

“Hey yourself,” Nicole grinned when Amy pulled back just a bit.

“I didn’t know you two were dating,” Jamie said, giving Nicole a thumbs up behind Amy’s back.

It was nice to see that Nicole had someone. Nicole had seemed rather lonely and more than a little heartbroken when she arrived in Purgatory. Jamie was happy that Nicole seemed to be finding her way here and taking steps to making this town her home.

“We’re not,” Amy told her, dropping her arms from Nicole’s neck and stepping back, smoothing her black dress out.

She wasn’t planning on kissing Nicole but, when she was her, with her beautiful red hair done up in loose curls, in blue jeans that hugged her curves perfectly and hung low on her hips, wearing a short sleeve dark blue button down shirt, showing off those toned arms that had her pinned to a wall yesterday well, Amy couldn’t really resist.

“Oh,” is all Jamie said as Chrissy and Stephanie, joined the trio. “Nicole this is Chrissy Nedley and Stephanie Jones, girls this is Nicole Haught.”

“Nice to meet you ladies,” Nicole gave them a wide smile as she shook their hands. Well shook Chrissy’s hand, Steph had just stared at her hand until she dropped it back to her side.

“Nice to meet you Nicole,” Chrissy returned her smile. “My dad speaks very highly of you.”

Nicole was going to say something back to Chrissy, tell her that her father was a great man who had been nothing but kind to her but, Stephanie spoke over her.

Nicole already knew that she wasn’t going to like Stephanie. She reminded Nicole too much of the girls from her high school, who thought they were better than everyone else just because they were beautiful. Girls who hadn’t been nice to the only openly gay teen in their town.

“Are we ready to go?” Stephanie asked impatiently.

“We’re waiting on Waverly,” Jamie told her.

“Right,” Stephanie rolled her eyes. “I forgot the Earp is coming with us.”

Nicole’s blunt nails dug into the palms of her hands, narrowing her eyes at Stephanie as the need to protect and defend Waverly rises.

“Steph.” It was a warning, a plead from Chrissy when she noticed the way Nicole tense up at how Stephanie said ‘Earp’. She had only seen one other person react that way and, Wynonna usually followed the tensing and the narrowing of the eyes with a punch.

As if on cue, the door to Shorty’s opened and Waverly walked out. Hair done up in one of it’s usual braids (that Nicole wanted to run her fingers through and mess up). She traded the high waisted jean shorts and crop top she had been wearing earlier for a sinful short red dress and heels.

“Sorry to keep you guys waiting, Champ was being,” Waverly trailed off for a second as she approached the group. “Well, he was being Champ.”

“You’re staring,” Jamie whispered to Nicole as the others launched into a discussion on where they were going first.

Nicole blushed and quickly averted her gaze from Waverly. She couldn’t help but to stare, Waverly looked stunning, beautiful, gorgeous. Waverly was breathtaking. She stole the air right from Nicole’s lungs and Nicole found it hard to care.

“I was not staring,” Nicole mumbled and Jamie snorted with a shake of her head, drawing the attention of the rest of the group to them.

When Waverly tried to meet Nicole’s eyes, the redhead quickly looked away, unable to look Waverly in the eyes, afraid of what she might find there.

If she had looked even for the briefest of moments, she would have seen Waverly give her that smile she always had when she seen Nicole, a smile reserved solely for the redhead.

Waverly couldn’t forget the way Nicole’s lips pressed against the top of her head felt, how right and natural it felt to have Nicole so close. She couldn’t forget the smell of her perfume and something that was undeniably Nicole. She couldn’t forget how she wanted more, how disappointed she felt when Nicole pulled away.

When it had happened Waverly’s heart had been ready to beat right out of her chest. She had half the mind to grab Nicole and actually kiss her. The only thing that stopped her was Champ, guilt for wanting to kiss someone other than him and fear.

Fear that Nicole hadn’t meant anything by the action. Fear that Nicole would freak out and wouldn’t want anything to do with Waverly.

Nicole may be gay but that didn’t mean she liked Waverly that way. She had Amy for God’s sake. And who in their right mind give up someone like Amy for an Earp?

And what the hell did wanting to kiss her best friend make her? Was she gay? Bi? Straight? These thoughts had been swirling in her head all day. Waverly was a thinker, a planner. She never went into anything halfcocked. She had an answer for almost everything and if she didn’t, she wouldn’t stop until she found it. But these feelings? These questions?

She had no answers for them and she didn’t even know where to begin to look for them. Searching Google for ‘how to tell if your gay?’ or, ‘how to tell if you have feelings for your best friend?’ , had as much appeal as the drunks at Shorty’s who hit on her.

She pushed her conflicted feelings down, the guilt and all those unanswered questions plaguing  her mind along with them. She just wanted to let loose and have a little fun. She wanted to be able to hang out with Nicole without any of those complications.

“Who’s going to be the designated driver?” Stephanie asked, in a tone that implied that she was not going to be the D&D.

“I’ll do it,” Nicole offered. “I have work in the morning, so I shouldn’t be drinking.”

“Great,” Stephanie said turning on her heels and walking towards Jamie’s mini van that they would be taking.  

Jamie tossed Nicole the keys along with a thank you as the small group turned to follow Stephanie.

Waverly hung back, waiting for Nicole. “You look really nice.”

It was always so weird seeing Nicole out of uniform. She was so used to seeing her as Officer Haught , that sometimes she forgot how absolutely beautiful she was in plain clothes with her hair let down from its usual braided prison. Nicole’s red hair falling just past her shoulders and framing her beautiful face, was a sight to behold.

Nicole’s hands reached for a belt that wasn’t there, something Waverly noticed she did when she was nervous.

“Thanks,” Nicole chanced a look at Waverly, still fearful of what she might find in those eyes.

Waverly just smiled at her, eyes shining with affection. She was stupid, so incredibly stupid and foolish for thinking Waverly, sweet Waverly wouldn’t want to be friends anymore because of a stupid kiss to the head, an accident.

“If I look really nice then you,” Nicole gave Waverly a once over. “Waverly Earp are a vision.”

Waverly ducked her head to hide her coloring cheeks. “T-Thanks.”

Nicole just grinned at her as they slowly, oh so slowly made their way to the minivan (neither of them in a hurry to join the others). Making Waverly blush had quickly become one of Nicole’s favorite things to do. It was almost too easy to do. All it took was a single compliment, no matter how small it was, it would have Waverly turning a bright shade of pink and mumbling out a flustered ‘thanks’.

Champ had told Waverly she looked sexy, beautiful even but, he had said it with lust clouding his eyes and as an attempt to get her to blow off girls night and go upstairs with him to fool around. When Nicole complimented her, her smile was genuine, her tone was open and honest, her eyes didn’t hold lust, they held a fondness that no one had ever looked at Waverly with.

“Haught, move that Haughtass.”

“Please don’t,” Nicole groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose at Amy’s words. She had probably heard every ‘clever’ pun, every variation of her last name in high school and it got tiring very quickly.  

“What’s wrong Haughtass?” Waverly asked with a smirk and a wink, eyes dropping down to said ass (which Nicole did not miss).

There was a comeback on the tip of her tongue. One that would no doubt make Waverly a flustering, blushing mess but, Amy walked over and grabbed Nicole’s hand, dragging her towards the minivan, effortlessly stopping Nicole from saying anything.

Before she could get pulled too far away, Nicole grasped Waverly’s hand lightly, dragging her along as well. She refused to let Waverly feel left out. She refused to leave her behind in any form.  

They all piled into the van, with Nicole in the driver seat (though she had no idea where they were planning on going), and Waverly riding shotgun next to her, playing with the radio dial, trying to find a station everyone was happy with.  Once everyone was seated and buckled in and, a station had been agreed upon, Nicole started the van and headed out of Purgatory with Waverly’s directions.  


 

A one hour and forty-five minute car ride filled with everyone expect Waverly trying to come up with new puns for Nicole’s last name (they couldn’t), off tune singing to some crappy pop song on the radio and Stephanie going on and on about her fiance.  

Nicole was seriously regretting her decisions to stay sober for the entire night. She was pretty sure these women were going to drive her crazy by the end of the night.

She spent countless hours in a car with five siblings throughout her childhood (on vacations and the like) but, even all that time spent with annoying older brothers in a cramped space was better than the almost two hours she spent in this minivan with four grown women who didn’t know when to be quiet.

Waverly was her saving grace. Speaking with her the entire ride to distract her from the craziness going on in the back, just loud enough to be heard over the radio but not loud enough for the others to hear. She told Nicole more about Wyatt Earp, more about the outlaws he killed and, about his best friend Doc Holliday.  

Waverly spoke with her hands moving wildly around in front of her (Nicole couldn’t help but to find it adorable), her tone filled with an excitement, a passion Nicole had never heard from her before.

Nicole hated that she couldn’t give Waverly her full attention. She hated that she wasn’t able to see the way Waverly’s eyes lite up as she spoke. She had never see Waverly happier than when she talking about her research. If there’s one thing Nicole wants in life, it’s for Waverly to be as happy as she can be, she deserved it.

The first bar they hit was some seedy biker bar that instantly made Nicole uneasy the second they walked in. Waverly reassured her that the bar was safe, that Amy knew the owners. Though her words did little to ease the feeling in the pit of Nicole’s stomach.

They stay in the biker bar for a couple of beers and a few dances and that uneasy feeling left Nicole and she was finally starting to relax and enjoy herself.

Nicole was at a booth that was close to the bar, had a view of the front entrance and a full view of the small dance floor (her inner cop told her that this was the best seat to keep an eye on the other women and keep an eye out for potential danger).

She was sipping on a glass of coke when Chrissy slide in next to her, holding a beer and breathing heavy. Nicole glanced over at the blonde and smiled before turning her attention back to the dance floor.

Nicole really liked Chrissy. She was sweet, funny, had a hell of a foul mouth at times (which Nicole found amusing), kept Stephanie in line (for the most part), and most all she was a good friend to Waverly.

“You’re such a cop.” Chrissy had been watching the way Nicole kept scanning the room for trouble and keeping an eye on the other women (reminding her of her father when they went out for lunch or dinner, or out together for anything). She also noticed how Nicole’s eyes seemed to linger on Waverly but, not with lust, no her gaze held a certain fondness.  

“Um, thanks?” Nicole raised an eyebrow at the other woman. Was that a good thing? Or a bad thing?

“I don’t mean it in a bad way, it’s nice to know there’s someone looking out for you, especially in this place,” Chrissy motioned to the bar where a couple of angry looking bikers were sitting.

“Why come here if you don’t feel safe?” Wasn’t it an unspoken rule for women to stick to places they were comfortable with? At least had been for Nicole and her friends from the academy. They were all skilled fighters, knew had to defend themselves but, they still stuck to places they were all comfortable with, all felt safe at (as safe as a group of women could feel surround with drunk men).

“Life is easier when you go along with Stephanie and Amy.”

“I see,” Nicole turned back towards the dance floor, catching sight of Waverly dancing to some old rock song, hip swinging with the rhythm of the song. She couldn’t tear her eyes away, mesmerized by the way Waverly seemed to effortlessly move along with the beat of the song.

She looked happy, at ease, finally relaxed and so damn carefree that it made Nicole smile. Waverly always seemed a little sad to Nicole, always seemed so tense as if she was waiting for something bad to happen, she was always hiding behind a fake smile and a wave but here? On that small, crowded dance floor? It was like Waverly was finally free.

“You like her,” Chrissy stated, nodding towards the woman in question.

“Well we’re friends so yeah,” Nicole tried to keep her tone neutral, even. Admitting to a crush on Waverly to someone, one of Waverly’s friends at that would do Nicole no good.

Chrissy laughed and shook her head at Nicole. “That’s not what I mean but if that’s the story you want to stick with okay, I get it, she has Champ and you and Amy are doing whatever it you two are doing.”

Nicole didn’t say anything, didn’t look Chrissy in the eyes. If it was so easy for this woman she barely knew to see that she had feelings for Waverly, did Waverly see it? Did Waverly know that she has a crush on her?

If Waverly did, would that change things between them? Would Waverly be uncomfortable around her? The last thing she wanted to do was make Waverly uncomfortable.

“Look,” Chrissy started, sensing the shift in Nicole’s mood. She hadn’t meant to upset the other woman. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think she knows, Waverly is kinda blind to those things, she thinks everyone sees her as just an Earp.”

“She’s so much more than her last name, she’s so much more than she realizes,” Nicole stated fiercely, brown eyes burning with pain, as if physically hurt her that Waverly didn’t see herself the way Nicole did.

“She’s lucky to have someone like you,” Chrissy turned her attention back to the dance floor, back to Waverly. “So many people in Purgatory can’t separate her from her sister’s actions and she tries so hard to be what everyone wants her to be that she ends up losing herself in the process but you, you somehow see who she really is and I think she really needs that.”

Before Nicole could think of anything to say, before she could really process what Chrissy had said, Amy walked up to the table, grabbed Nicole’s hand and pulled her towards the dance floor.

“Have fun!” Chrissy called after the pair, watching them weave through the crowd to the middle of the dance floor.

A few minutes later, Waverly joined her at the table, panting and with a thin layer of sweat glistening on her skin. She slid into the booth next to Chrissy and grabbed Nicole’s abandon soda, taking a long drink from it.

“Having fun?” Chrissy asked when Waverly leaned back against the booth to catch her breath.

“Probably the most fun I’ve had in awhile,” Waverly smiled at her friend. “I really needed this.”

And Waverly did need this. She needed that carefree feeling that came with dancing until your legs were ready to give out. She needed the break, the distraction it provided.

Distractions from whatever she was feeling for Nicole. Distractions from the questions that have been plaguing her mind since she first laid eyes on Nicole. Distractions from the conflicted feelings she’s having about Champ and their relationship. Distractions from her research on Wyatt and the Earp curse. Distractions from Wynonna’s quickly approaching birthday and the fact that she hadn’t talked in months and hadn’t seen her in three years. Distractions from just everything going on in her life right now.

“She’s really great,” Chrissy nodded towards where Nicole and Amy were dancing.

Waverly couldn’t help the smile at made it’s way onto her face. Nicole was really great. She was probably the nicest person Waverly had ever met.

“Yeah, she really is,” Waverly sighed happily. Sometimes she couldn’t believe that Nicole was her friend, that she had someone as amazing as Nicole in her life. People weren’t exactly lining up to be her friend. Most people in Purgatory were friendly sure but, they couldn’t be considered her friends.

“I can’t believe you’re replacing me though,” Chrissy joked, bumping Waverly’s shoulder with her own.

“Well,” Waverly reached forward and snatched up the other woman’s beer. “Maybe if you were around more, I wouldn’t have to replace you.”

She had winked when she said it but Chrissy could still hear the hurt lining Waverly’s tone and she instantly felt guilty. She could be, should be a better friend to Waverly. She should be there for her more.

“Hey,” Chrissy placed her hand on Waverly’s, turning to look the other woman in the eyes. “I’m sorry I haven’t been such a good friend lately, I’ve gotten so caught up in Stephanie and her crap that I’ve neglected you, ignored you and I’m just sorry, I’ll be better, do better I promise.”

Waverly was a better friend than Stephanie could ever be, yet Chrissy let herself get caught up in wanting to be like, wanting to fit in that she ignored Waverly in order to do so. And it was wrong and she felt so damn guilty because Waverly deserved a better friend than her.

“It’s okay Chrissy, life gets in the way sometimes, I understand.” Waverly’s words were sincere and that Waverly feel even more guilty than before.

“Let’s have lunch this week?” Chrissy asked, giving Waverly a hopeful smile.

“Of course.”


 

 

Four hours, two clubs and way too many drinks later, they were finally on their way back to Purgatory.

Nicole was exhausted and was not looking forward to having to be up in a few hours for work. She envied everyone sleeping soundly in the back seats.

Waverly sat in the seat next to her, head leaning heavily on the window but not quite asleep yet. She was well passed buzzed (not quite as drunk as Amy and Stephanie), and dreading going home to crawl into bed with Champ.

She was in a good mood. She had a lot of fun out dancing with everyone tonight (though she never got a dance with Nicole). She might not have enjoyed watching Amy almost constantly grinding on Nicole but, she still had fun. And the last thing she wanted to do was have to sleep next to Champ, that would completely ruin this lightness she felt (he sometimes drained the life out of her).

Not only did Waverly get to dance away all the stress she had been carrying around with her for months, she got to spend some time with Chrissy.

It had been so long since the two of them hung out that Waverly had forgotten how much fun they used to have together (usually without Stephanie). She had forgotten that with Chrissy she didn’t have to hide the fact that she was a nerd (Chrissy was a nerd as well, she hid it just as well as Waverly).  She had forgotten how easy things between the two of them were (not as easy as things between her and Nicole were).

She just hoped life or Stephanie didn’t get in the way of them having lunch together sometime next week. Stephanie tended to talk Chrissy out of hanging out with Waverly and, Chrissy usually went along with it.

Not that Waverly blamed her. Chrissy had been an outcast in grade school right along with Waverly. She was picked on and made fun of almost as much as Waverly. Until the first day of freshman year when she came to school dressed like a totally different person, thanks to Stephanie. So now, Chrissy felt like she owed Stephanie something, even after all these years.  

“What’s on your mind?” Nicole broke the silence, looking over at her for a few seconds before turning her attention back to the road ahead of them.

Waverly lifted her head from the window to look over at the redhead. Nicole was beautiful with the lights from passing cars illuminating her face, red curls from earlier in the evening long gone and mussed hair left in it’s place.

Waverly wanted to tuck the stray strands of hair behind Nicole’s ear, caress her soft cheek and maybe, just maybe press a kiss to the corner of her mouth.

“Just thinking about my research,” she lied, eyes locked on full, red lips.

“You ever take a break from it?” Nicole looked over again, smiling this time.

Waverly’s eyes snapped up from Nicole’s lips, cheeks turning a light shade of pink. Thankful that it was too dark for Nicole to notice.

“Of course not, she’s a nerd,” Stephanie said, voice slurred from both the amount of booze she consumed and sleep.

Another car passed them, allowing Waverly to see Nicole’s hands tighten around the steering wheel until her knuckles were white. Allowing Waverly see the soft lines of Nicole’s face harden with anger.

“Go back to sleep, Steph,” Nicole spoke through gritted teeth. Every second she spent with Stephanie, her dislike for the woman grew.

She had played nice all night but, with every backhanded compliment Steph had given Waverly, Nicole wanted to say something, to call her out for being a bitch to someone as sweet as Waverly.

There was an incoherent mumble from the backseat before things fell silent once more.

Nicole loosened her grip on the steering wheel and reached over to the the radio on, volume just loud enough to keep anyone in the backseat from hearing them.

“Are you okay?” Nicole asked, looking back over at Waverly, letting her gaze linger for a few seconds.

“I’m okay,” Waverly lied again.

Nicole reached over and took Waverly’s hand in hers, squeezing it softly. “You deserve better friends.”

Waverly just shrugged but squeezed Nicole’s hand back, relishing in the feeling of Nicole’s hand in hers. Honestly, she didn’t care what Stephanie had said because, she got to hold Nicole’s hand, she got to feel the warmth of her skin once more. It was worth her hurt feelings.


 

It was well past three in the morning by the time everyone had been dropped off at their homes and Nicole was dreading saying goodnight to Waverly, dreading having to let go of her hand.

They were parked in front of Shorty’s, just sitting in the van, reluctant to get out, to part ways.

“So I just leave the keys in here?”

“Yup, Jamie and her husband will be here in the morning to pick it up,” Waverly said, playing with Nicole’s fingers absentmindedly. “No one's gonna steal it, we’ve done it before.”

“Alright,” Nicole placed the keys in the visor with her free hand. It didn’t seem like the safest thing to do in the world but, honestly she could care less at the moment. All she could focus on was Waverly’s fingers on her skin.

She could stay in this moment forever. Just the two of them, her hand in Waverly’s and Waverly’s fingers dragging up and down her arm slowly but, it was late and she had work in a few hours.

“I should probably get home and try to catch a few hours of sleep before work.”

“Oh right, sorry,” Waverly quickly let go of her hand and started to get out of the van, Nicole following after her.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Nicole walked around the front of the van where Waverly was standing. She placed her hand at the small of Waverly’s back and led her towards the door.

When they reached the door, Waverly turned towards Nicole and stood on her tippy toes, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Good night Nicole.”

Nicole smiled down at Waverly, cheeks turning a light pink. “Good night Wave.”

Waverly turned back around to the door, grasping the handle and pulling it open, only it wouldn’t budge. It was locked and Waverly didn’t have her keys on her. Champ was supposed to leave it unlocked or be up to let her in.

“I take it you don’t have your keys?” Nicole asked, still standing behind Waverly.

“No,” Waverly sighed, leaning her head against the door and pulling her phone out of her purse. “Champ was supposed to be up to let me in.”

“Say no more, he’s rather forgetful lately.”

“Mhm,” Waverly hummed her agreement, waiting for Champ to answer his phone.

She called three times and each time Champ didn’t answer his phone, her anger grew. Why was it so hard for him to remember to do simple things? If it did not benefit him in anyway, he was most likely not going to do it.

She called again and, again and, again and still he didn’t answer. Her anger had reached the point where she was on the verge of tears. She felt bad that Nicole was still standing here with her, waiting when she needed to get home and get some sleep for work.

“Looks like he’s not answering,” Nicole said gently, sensing the anger radiating off Waverly.

“He’s such an ass,” Waverly kicked the door in front of her then hissed in pain, forgetting she was wearing heels.

“Seems that you attract assholes,” Nicole grinned widely at Waverly but, it fell the second Waverly turned her blazing gaze on her.

“My bad,” Nicole held her hands up in surrender the same way she had done at the bar the other night and Waverly couldn’t help but to find it oddly charming.

“Come on Earp,” Nicole threw her arm around Waverly’s shoulder. “You can crash with me.”

Chapter Text

Nicole unlocked her front door and pushed it open, allowing Waverly to enter the dark apartment first.

She was suddenly nervous to have Waverly in her apartment and she wasn’t sure why. Waverly had been here a couple times before, with Champ and without him but, this time somehow felt different. Maybe it was just because Waverly would be staying over.

Whatever the reason, Nicole was nervous and her hands were starting to become clammy, something she noticed happened a lot around Waverly.

“The light switch is to your left, make yourself at home,” Nicole said as she shut the door and locked the deadbolt. She gave the door a good tug to make sure both locks were engaged. A habit that had formed since she and Eric started investigating the down right weird things that had been happening in Purgatory.

Once she was satisfied that the door was secured, Nicole moved through the now illuminated apartment towards the kitchen for something to drink. “Want a drink?”

“Whatever you’re drinking is fine,” Waverly called out from somewhere in the vicinity of the living room.

Nicole opened her fridge and peered inside, trying to decide on whether or not to have a beer or just some water. It was late and she really needed to be heading to bed soon but, Waverly was here and, thoughts of sleep were the last thing on her mind.

Nicole grabbed two of beer bottles of from the fridge and made her way into the living room, finding Waverly standing in front of the shelf that held her stereo, her ipod dock, and all her cds. Her eyes drifted along Waverly’s form, stopping to admire at the swell of her ass in that extremely tight dress.

Nicole bit down on her bottom lip as her eyes trailed down Waverly’s seemingly endless legs. Waverly was shorter than her by a few inches but, those long smooth, toned legs seemed to go on for days and more often than not, Nicole found herself imagining what it would be like to run her hands along them.

Trying to shake the thoughts from her mind, she set one of the bottles down on the coffee table and chugged half of the other. Having Waverly staying the night was hard enough without having inappropriate thoughts about her.

Waverly ran her fingers over the cd cases that were in alphabetical order on the shelf. They had still been in boxes the last time Waverly had been over. She briefly wondered when Nicole found the time (Nedley had been working Nicole to death the past week), to unpack the boxes that had been stacked in the corner the first time she and Champ had come over for dinner.

“Your taste in music is all over the place,” Waverly commented as Nicole came to stand right behind her.

“Um, thanks?” Nicole was standing so close that Waverly could feel her breath hitting her exposed neck as she spoke.

Waverly had to fight off the urge to shiver as Nicole’s front pressed into her back when she reached around Waverly to turn her ipod on and put it on shuffle. Some old country song filled the small living room, not too loud as to not wake her neighbors.

Nicole stepped back and Waverly instantly missed the warmth of her body. She found herself trying to come up with some kind of excuse to be that close to Nicole again. To be able to feel that warmth again, that spark she felt whenever they touched.

Nicole took a seat on the leather couch, placing her half empty beer bottle on the coffee table in front of her then leaned down to untie her boots. It wasn’t until that moment that she realized how much her feet were hurting.

Once her boots had been taken off and placed neatly under the coffee table, Nicole leaned back into the couch, spinning the jade ring on her right ring finger as she watched Waverly scroll through her ipod, hips swaying to the song already playing.

Once again Nicole found herself mesmerized by Waverly Earp. By the way she moved, oh so slowly yet still in time with the music. By the way she seemed so carefree in that moment and so damn beautiful that she stole the very breath from Nicole’s lungs.

No, beautiful wasn’t the right word to describe Waverly. Beautiful didn’t even begin to describe her.

Gorgeous?

Stunning?

Radiant?

Breathtaking?

All those words did not do Waverly Earp justice. Nicole struggled to find a word, to find something to describe Waverly, one that completely captures all that she is.

Perfectly imperfect? Close but still not right. Still not good enough.

“Elvis?” Waverly asked, looking over her shoulder at the redhead, effectively pulling her from her thoughts.

“Don’t like The King, Earp?” Nicole asked, eyes shining with amusement. “Cause that’s a deal breaker there. We can’t be friends if you don’t like The King.”

‘Can’t help falling in love’ played softly throughout the living room as Waverly took a seat on the couch, as close to Nicole as she could get without sitting on top of her.

Nicole couldn’t help but to think that this song fit what she’s been feeling for Waverly perfectly. She couldn’t help what she’s been feeling for Waverly since she first laid eyes on her. She was drawn to Waverly in a way that she’s never been drawn to another person before. And sometimes it was down right scary. 

“No, I like Elvis,” Waverly reached for her beer on the coffee table. “I just took you for more of a Johnny Cash kind of person.”

“Oh, I love Cash but, Elvis holds a bittersweet place in my heart.”

“Your grandfather?”

Nicole was wearing that smile that was somewhere in between being  happy and sad that she almost always had when speaking about her childhood.  

A few times over the past week, Waverly felt jealous of Nicole and all the happy childhood memories she had but, unlike Champ, Nicole didn’t rub her childhood in Waverly’s face.

For every happy moment Nicole shared, she usually followed it up with a less than happy one. And she never once pressured Waverly into talking about her childhood, about her family. She was more than happy to do all the talking, more than happy to wait for Waverly to feel comfortable enough to talk about her family.

“My brother Blake and my father actually,” Nicole shrugged before her smile fell. “Before things between us went to shit.”

She was spinning her ring again, staring down at it (another nervous habit Waverly had picked up on).

Nicole’s father (and most of her siblings), was a subject they didn’t talk about, a no go. Hell, Nicole hardly mentioned him since the night Waverly and Champ came over to dinner.

“When I was five, my brother Blake and I were obsessed with Elvis, knew almost every one of his songs, even knew how to do his little dance,” Nicole shook her head with a smile, remembering how they spent weeks practicing together.

“For an early birthday present, my father took Blake and I to an amusement park where this Elvis impersonator was going to be doing like a mini concert.” Nicole’s voice was suddenly thick with emotion and she was spinning her ring faster now, eyes looking everywhere but at the other woman.

Talking about her father, even the few good memories she had of him, was hard and sometimes downright painful. It was like pulling teeth.

Waverly placed the hand not holding her beer over Nicole’s, stilling her fingers. “We can talk about something else.”

Nicole shook her head, eyes unblinking as she watched Waverly’s thumb rub soothing patterns on her hand. Sparks spreading through her with every swipe of Waverly’s thumb.

She wondered for just a second what Waverly’s thumb would feel like elsewhere. Her cheek, along her jawline, brushing across her bottom lip before Waverly leaned in and kissed her.

She shook her head again, as if it would actually clear the thoughts of kissing Waverly from her mind but it was useless.

Waverly was so close and so damn warm pressed against her side. That spark was utterly delicious as it spread throughout her body and she craved more of it with a hunger she had never known before.

It took every ounce of willpower that Nicole possessed not to pin Waverly against the cold leather of the couch and kiss her until they were both senseless. Until they both forgot the outside world. Until they both forgot everything but each other.

“Nicole.” Waverly’s voice stopped her from doing something incredibly stupid, something completely unforgivable, something she knew she would regret.

Waverly sat her beer down and turned to the redhead fully. She grasped Nicole’s chin lightly and turned her head until Nicole’s clouded brown eyes met hers. 

“You don’t have to tell me.”

The officer found herself getting lost in the flecks of gold in Waverly’s eyes, in the feel of Waverly’s fingers caressing her jaw.

She brought her hand up to grip Waverly’s wrist, grounding herself here, in this moment with Waverly.

“I want to tell you,” Everything .

She’s never wanted to talk about her father with anyone other than her grandparents before but, she wanted Waverly to know. She wanted to tell Waverly everything about her, about her family, her father.

She wanted Waverly to know her better than she knew herself.

“There were so many people crammed in front of this small stage and I was short.”

“You short? I don’t believe it,” Waverly interrupted with a small smile, trying to lighten the mood.

Though, she really could not see Nicole as being short, ever. Nicole had a good couple of inches on her and even more when she was wearing her uniform boots. The way Nicole seemed to tower over her at times was oddly attractive.

“I was, it wasn’t till freshman year that I started getting taller,” Nicole chuckled. “Anyways, I was so short and I couldn’t see the stage, so my father put me up on his shoulders just so I could see and let me sit up there the whole two hours as Blake and I practically screamed along to every song.”

Nicole looked down and away from Waverly’s gaze when her eyes started to water. It was something so incredibly small, a day, one day at an amusement park with her father and older brother, where she was too short to ride most of the rides and getting to listen her favorite songs played live but, at the time it had meant the world to her.

Now, it was just a painful reminder of how things used to be with her father before she strayed from the life he had all laid out for her.

Waverly wasn’t sure what to say, how to lighten the mood once more, how to cheer Nicole up. The last thing she meant to do was upset Nicole when she had asked about her liking Elvis.

“Hey,” Waverly whispered, tilting Nicole’s head up until she could look the redhead in the eyes again. “I’m sorry for upsetting you.”

A single tear ran down Nicole’s cheek and it hurt Waverly to see her so upset over what should be a happy memory of her father.

She knew what it was like to have a shitty father, probably better than most. She should know what words to say to make things better, to ease the pain and anger swirling in Nicole’s beautiful brown eyes, but she didn’t.

So she did what Wynonna did the night their mother had left. She did what Wynonna did the night the homestead was attacked, their father was killed and Willa was taken. She did what Wynonna did every time she said goodbye.

Waverly leaned forward and Nicole’s breath caught in the back of her throat, so sure that Waverly was going to kiss her. Her eyes slide closed as she felt Waverly’s breath on her face.

Lips pressed against Nicole’s cheek in a featherlight touch, so softly that Nicole was sure she had imagined it but then, it happened again. This time to the other cheek, then her forehead.  

It calmed her and made her heart beat wildly in her chest at the same time.

Waverly repeated the process again, kissing one cheek then the other, allowing their noses to graze.

Every brush of Waverly’s lips on her skin, set Nicole’s skin ablaze with want and need for the woman in front of her, who was being so gentle with her, who was doing her best to comfort her when she was uncharacteristically loss for words.  

“W-Waverly,” Her voice was gravelly even to her own ears and she knew her eyes had to have darkened when she met Waverly’s gaze and Waverly cocked a single perfectly shaped eyebrow at her.  “I, uh I should head to, uh bed.”

Gone was all that confidence she usually walked around with. Gone was that air of confidence that she usually spoke with.

Waverly Earp made Nicole nervous in a way she’s never been before. Waverly Earp made Nicole was to do something stupid. Waverly Earp made her want to risk everything for a chance at love, a chance at happiness.

“Oh, right sorry.” Waverly dropped her hands from Nicole’s face and scooted back until they were no longer touching.

Nicole instantly missed the feel of having Waverly so close, of Waverly’s hands caressing her face.

She swallowed down her feelings and words fighting their way up her throat and out her mouth and, she stood, moving off towards her bedroom.

“I’m just gonna change and find something for you to sleep in then you can have the bed.”

Waverly watched her go, not really catching what Nicole had said. She was too busy trying to forget the Nicole had been looking at her. Trying to forget how deep Nicole’s voice had been when she spoke her name, the way it sent a pleasant shiver down her spine. Trying to forget how warm, how right it felt to be so close to Nicole. Trying to forget the sound of Nicole’s breath hitching when she leaned in. Trying to forget the feel of Nicole’s skin under her lips and under her fingers.

She knew she would never be able to forget, no matter how hard she tried. The feel of Nicole, the sounds she made, the look in her eyes would forever be etched into Waverly’s mind.

“Do you want shorts or pants to sleep in?” Nicole asked coming back into the living room wearing sleep shorts that barely fell to mid thigh and a white muscle shirt that showed off toned biceps and defined shoulders.

Waverly couldn’t help but to stare at the redhead. At legs that seemed even longer now that they were bare and looked so smooth.

“Waves,” Nicole called her name softly, suddenly closer standing right in front of her and looking down at her.

When did she move closer? And why hadn’t I noticed?

Waverly dragged her eyes up Nicole’s legs, noticing how low the shorts sat on her hips, showing off a hint of well defined abs where her shirt had ridden up. She bit down on her bottom lip as she imagined scratching her nails along those abs.

“Waves,” Nicole called again and this time her gaze actually met Nicole’s.

“Hmm?” Waverly hummed, the tips of her ears turning red along with her cheeks.

Nicole didn’t comment on the fact that she had been staring and she was extremely grateful for it.

Nicole just smiled (though, she had wanted to tease the other woman), and sat down on the edge of the coffee table, so she was no longer towering over Waverly. “What do you normally sleep in? Shorts? Or pants?”

“I usually just sleep in a t-shirt but shorts will be fine.”

Nicole swallowed thickly at the mental image of Waverly in a shirt that barely covered her thighs and nothing else.

She grabbed her nearly forgotten beer, downing it quickly to try and battle the sudden dryness in her throat, grimacing at the taste. There was nothing worse than a lukewarm beer.

“Right, well there’s clothes laid out on the bed, just toss whatever you’re not going to use on the dresser,” Nicole stood and grabbed Waverly’s beer bottle and made her way to the kitchen to rinse them out and place them in the recycle bin.

Once that was done, she moved back into the living room and turned the music off. As she moved to the hall closet to grab the extra blanket and pillow she kept in there, she heard Waverly call for her.

“Um, Nicole, could you unzip me?”

Nicole sighed and leaned her head on the white door to the closet.

Could she?

Of course she could, she had unzipped many of dresses for many of women but, none of them had captured her attention, her affection the way Waverly had.

The real question was could she unzip Waverly’s dress, be that close to her bare skin without doing something stupid?

“Nicole?” Waverly called out again, her head peeking out the bedroom door this time, catching sight of Nicole leaning against the closet door. “Are you okay?”

“Fine, I’m fine,” the redhead squeaked, trying to clear the mental image of running her fingers along Waverly’s bare back down to the swell of her ass.

Stop! You’re not some fuckin’ horny teenage boy! Get yourself together Nicole.

She had more self control than that. She knew she did but, Waverly more often than not threw Nicole off her game. Waverly made her feel like an inexperienced teenager who was about to have their first time all over again and Jesus Christ , they weren’t anything more than friends.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart, Nicole pushed away from the door and made her way into the bedroom, wiping her suddenly sweaty hands on her shorts.

Waverly stood in front of the full length mirror hanging on the wall. Beautiful brunette hair no longer held in place by a braid, now her wavy locks flowed down her back and Nicole longed to run her fingers through it.

Their eyes met in the mirror as Nicole stepped up behind Waverly, hands trembling just a bit at her side.

She both loved and hated that Waverly had this affect on her. One minute her confidence was overflowing and she was flirty, she could easily turn Waverly into stuttering, blushing mess and the next, she was the stuttering, blushing mess.

Nicole steadies herself and brushed Waverly’s hair over her shoulder as gently as possible, careful not to accidently pull any of it. She grasped the zipper of Waverly’s dress between her thumb and forefinger. She took another deep breath and met Waverly’s eyes again.

“Ready?” Nicole was sure Waverly could be hear her heart pounding away in her chest and she hoped to God that she didn’t comment on it.

Waverly nodded her head yes and gave Nicole an almost shy smile.

Just unzip the dress and get the hell out of here Haught.

Nicole dragged the zipper down slowly. So slow that Waverly wasn’t even sure if she had actually moved it at all.

She could feel Nicole’s warm breath hit her skin as more and more of it was exposed. She fought off a shiver as Nicole’s calloused but still soft fingertips brushed down her back.  

Nicole’s eyes never left hers as more of her smooth tan skin was revealed and Waverly couldn’t help but to swoon at the intensity of emotions swirling in Nicole’s eyes, the fondness, the softness staring back at her. Something so simple as having a friend unzip your dress shouldn’t be so sensual, so intimate but, it was.

If it had been Champ unzipping her dress, he would have rushed. He would have been leering at her body, pawing at her with his rough hands and his chapped lips would be pressing wet open mouth kisses to the back of her neck but, this wasn’t Champ, it was Nicole.

Nicole, who was taking her time, who was gentle and respectful. Nicole, whose eyes never wavered from hers, whose hands never wandered. Nicole, who had Waverly’s skin burning where her fingertips brushed, who had Waverly’s heart ready to beat right out of her chest at the look in Nicole’s eyes alone.  

“All done,” Nicole whispered, finally breaking eye contact with Waverly and turned away, moving towards the closet for a hanger.

“Thank you,” Waverly said just as quietly but she knew that Nicole had heard her when she saw her nodded her head in the mirror.

Once Waverly had changed and was tucked into Nicole’s bed (much to her protest, she believed she should be the one taking the couch since Nicole had to work in a few hours). Nicole hung Waverly’s dress up right next to her uniform and moved to the door, hand lingering over the light switch, eyes taking in how absolutely beautiful Waverly looked in her clothes (clothes that were slightly too big on her small frame), how beautiful she looked in her bed.

“If you need anything just holler,” Nicole turned the light off and closed the door halfway, releasing a sigh as she made her way down the hallway.

“Nicole.” Waverly’s voice was so low, so quiet that Nicole had thought she imagined it. Then she heard it again, just a bit louder this time.

She turned back around and stuck her head into the room. “Yes?”

“Could you maybe,” Waverly trailed off, looking away from her. “Could you stay? Just for a bit?”

It was selfish, she knew it was. Nicole had to work in just a few hours and she really needed to get as much sleep as she possibly could but, Waverly just wasn’t ready to be alone, to be without Nicole.

She never had a problem being alone before. Hell, most of her life was spent alone.

Her father… Well, he wasn’t the best father in the world, at least not to her. He loved Wynonna and Willa more (or at least it felt that way at time), especially Willa (she was his favorite after all). He more often than not neglected Waverly. Sometimes he downright forgot that she was there.

Wynonna and Willa were always together and almost always shutting her out of games or whatever it was they were doing. Willa, for whatever reason did not like Waverly very much, was cruel to her. Maybe it was the age difference, who knows. Willa always tried to keep Wynonna to herself, away from Waverly.

Sometimes Wynonna went along with Willa, would often ignore her as well for approval from her older sister. Sometimes being the key word there because Wynonna, she tried to give Waverly all the love and attention she could. She tried to be the mother that Waverly needed but, she was just a kid herself.

So it was safe to say that Waverly, from a young age got used to be alone, being by herself. And she never minded it before, not really. Sometimes she even craved time alone. It was more appealing than pretending, more appealing than hiding but then Officer Nicole Haught entered her life and suddenly being alone didn’t seem that appealing anymore. Suddenly she didn’t want to be alone.

Nicole still stood in the doorway, gripping the doorknob tightly, debating on whether or not joining Waverly in bed was a good idea.

She was pretty sure all her self control had been used up for the night. She wasn’t sure she would be able to handle laying so close to Waverly, not matter how much she wanted to.

Even from her spot by the door with help of the light from the hall, she could see the vulnerability shining in Waverly’s eyes. It had taken a lot for Waverly to ask her to stay and Nicole’s decision was out of her hands.

“Let me turn all the lights off.”

When all the lights had been turned off and the locks on the door had been check again, Nicole climbed into bed next to Waverly, staring up at the ceiling and leaving plenty of space between them.

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered, turning to face the tense woman next to her.

“Anything for you.” Nicole said the words with conviction and Waverly didn’t for one second doubt that Nicole would do anything for her.

She’s never had that outside of family and it was nice. It had a warmth blossoming in her chest and tears quickly filling her eyes.

Nicole tended to have that effect on her. She made Waverly feel cared for, appreciated. She made Waverly feel like she mattered, like her thoughts and opinions mattered. She made Waverly feel like she was worth something, like she could be anything.

Nicole made Waverly feel like she didn’t have to hide who she really was. Nicole made her feel like she didn’t have to shut her brain off to be accepted and that? Was all Waverly ever wanted in life.

“Can I ask you something?” Nicole asked after a few minutes of silence.

“You can ask me anything Nicole.”

Nicole rolled over to her side to face Waverly, using her hand to prop her head up just a bit. “How come you hang out with Stephanie? I mean, I get being friends with Chrissy, she’s sweet and funny and isn’t a bitch to you but, Stephanie? I don’t get that.”

It had been bugging Nicole since she first met Stephanie. It had been weighing on her mind all night. She couldn’t wrap her mind around Waverly being friends with someone like her, just like she couldn’t wrap her mind around Waverly being with Champ.  

Maybe it was because she knew that Waverly deserved better than the both of them. Hell, Waverly deserved better than anything Purgatory had to offer. Purgatory was a nice town, don’t get her wrong but, Waverly was meant for better things. She was meant for the stars, at least in Nicole’s opinion.

“Small town, limited options for friends,” Waverly shrugged one shoulder.

How did she even begin to explain why she was friends with Stephanie in the first place? It would be like trying to explain why she was with Champ. She’s sure on some level that Nicole would understand but, there’s always that part of her that is scared of being judged (she’s always being judged), especially by Nicole.

“There’s limited options then there’s just plain assholes, Waves.”

Waverly just shrugged again, watching Nicole’s expression soften, her eyes having adjusted to the dark enough to make out the redhead.  

“You deserve better friends.”

Waverly’s hand found Nicole’s free one, resting on top of the blanket and she intertwined their fingers. “I have you, how much better could I get?”

Nicole blushed and looked down. “Go to sleep Earp.”

“How come you call me by my last name so much?”

“Earp just rolls off the tongue,” Nicole smiled, giving Waverly’s hand a squeeze. “Truthfully, I just want you to be able to hear it coming out of someone’s mouth without it sounding like a curse.”

“You’re really sweet, you know that?” Waverly darted forward and pressed a kiss to her cheek. She couldn’t help but to smile and bring her hand up to touch the spot where Waverly’s lips had been.

“Mhm, good night Waves.”

“Good night Nicole, sweet dreams.”

Nicole finally found the word to describe the woman lying next to her. A Goddess. Waverly Earp was a Goddess among men if there ever was one. And Nicole would spend every moment of the rest of her life worshiping her if Waverly would only let her.

Chapter Text

When the alarm on Nicole’s phone went off a few hours later (which felt like mere minutes), the first thing she noticed was the sweet smell of almonds and shea butter mixed with a hint of sweat.

The second thing she noticed was a warm body lying slightly on top of her, an arm thrown across her stomach, fist gripping her t-shirt tightly and warm smooth legs intertwined with hers.

The third and probably most important thing she noticed was how right it felt to have Waverly clinging onto her she slept. How at peace she felt with the younger woman pressed against her. How much she didn’t want this moment to end, how much she didn’t want to wake Waverly.

She wished it didn’t feel so right. She wished she didn’t feel so at peace laying here with Waverly. She wished it didn’t feel like coming home after being lost, being gone for so long.

If things didn’t feel so fucking right with Waverly then it would be so much easier to push down her feelings for the sake of their friendship. A friendship that she desperately needed and so did Waverly.

She laid there, absentmindedly running her fingers up and down Waverly’s spine as she stared up at the ceiling. She had a few minutes to spare before she needed to get up and get ready for work and she wanted to soak up as much of this moment as she could.

She wanted to memorize the way Waverly felt against her. She wanted to memorize the slow rise and fall of Waverly’s breathing. She wanted to memorize the feeling of Waverly’s heart beating steadily. She wanted to memorize the sound of Waverly snoring softly. She wanted to memorize every single detail, no matter how small.

When she left this bed, she knew she had to push her feelings deep down, lock them away before they got in the way of her friendship with Waverly and ruined it.

She had came so close to losing all her self control last night and just kissing Waverly. And if that happened again? If she actually lost control and just acted on her feelings, she would never forgive herself.

She didn’t want to turn Waverly into a cheater, into someone like Champ. Waverly was pure, good, innocent and Nicole wanted it to stay that way.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Nicole figured she should probably get out of bed now but, God she didn’t want to. This moment was perfect, was everything and she didn’t want it to end.

“I think I may be falling in love with you Waverly Earp,” She whispered into Waverly’s hair, lips brushing ever so lightly. “I- I think I might already be in love with you, I think I fell in love with you the moment I first saw you.”

Falling in love was already scary enough as it is. Falling in love with your best friend, your only friend, well that was downright terrifying.

She wasn’t sure which she was more afraid of getting her heart broken again, or losing her best friend but, she guess they kinda went hand in hand didn’t they?

Nicole sighed. “You’re so screwed Haught.”

Placing a final kiss to the top of Waverly’s head, Nicole attempted to untangle herself from the sleeping woman without waking her. Which turned out to be a lot harder than Nicole originally  thought.

Every time she moved, even just an a centimeter, Waverly’s arm would tighten around her waist and the death grip on her shirt somehow got impossibly tighter.

She was finally able to untangle her legs from Waverly’s but that just resulted in Waverly throwing one leg over her thighs and snuggling in closer.

Nicole normally wouldn’t have minded, normally she would have happily stayed wrapped up with Waverly all day but, she had work and she loathed being late. Something drilled into her by her parents.

For once in her life, she wanted to be late. She wanted to stay in this moment for a little while longer. She wanted to enjoy having Waverly sleeping practically on top of her, a little while longer.  

“Waves,” Nicole ran her fingers through messy brunette locks, hoping to rouse Waverly from her sleep. “Waves, I need to get up.”

“Mmmmm, five more minutes,” Waverly mumbled before burying her face in Nicole’s neck, lips brushing against the skin there. Her hot breath sending a pleasant shiver down Nicole’s spine and had a warmth settling in her lower belly.

“Waverly, I have to get ready for work.”

“Kay, I’m goin’,” Waverly’s voice thick with sleep as she rolled off Nicole, taking all of the blanket with her, cocooning herself in it.

Nicole shook her head with a smile.

Sleepy Waverly was completely adorable. Okay, Waverly was always adorable, always. She even managed to be adorable and sexy at the same time, Nicole wasn’t even sure how that way possible. But when it came to Waverly, the impossible suddenly became possible.

“Sorry.” Nicole sat up, feet hanging over the edge of the bed, rubbing the remaining sleep from her eyes then stood up, stretching to alleviate the stiffness in her bones.  

“S’okay,” Waverly said, words partially muffled by the pillow, already on her way back to sleep. “Have a good day.”

“You too Waves,” Nicole gathered her uniform, the usually black undershirt she wore under her uniform, clean underwear, bra and socks as quietly as possible.

Once she had everything she needed for the day, she moved towards the bedroom door. Stopping in the archway and turning back towards the bed, towards Waverly.

Brunette locks fanned out across the pillow, already snoring away softly. Blanket pulled up and tucked underneath her chin. One leg sticking out from under the blanket and hanging off the edge of the bed.

It was beyond creepy to watch someone sleep, she knew that but she couldn’t help it, she couldn’t tear her eyes from Waverly’s sleeping form. The only time Waverly was completely at peace, completely relaxed was when she was asleep.

And it was a sight to behold, Waverly was completely breathtaking like this.

Nicole breathed out softly and ran a hand through her messy, tangled hair. Pushing her feelings for the younger woman was going to be a lot hard than she thought.

Waverly Earp was a glimpse of bliss, a little taste of heaven and Nicole was slowly becoming addicted.


 

 

When Waverly woke up at couple hours later, it was to warm sunlight streaming through the window and across her face, and to something heavy, furry and purring on her stomach.

She opened her eyes slowly, squinting at the too bright sun shining directly in her eyes. She lifted her head up just a bit and looked around the unfamiliar room.

Panic settled into her chest as she tried to remember where she was, whose bed she was in. Until she caught the faint scent of cinnamon, leather and gun oil all wrapped up in one. A combination she had come to associate with Nicole and only Nicole.

It had taken her awhile to identify each individual scent underneath Nicole’s perfume. The cinnamon had been easy to pick out (Nicole practically lived off cinnamon cappuccinos).

The leather had been a bit harder but only because the smell of leather reminded her of her father and of Wynonna and she tried hard to push thoughts of them, reminders of them deep down. They were too painful. Now the smell of leather just reminded her of Nicole -strong, steady, confident, caring- Nicole.

She didn’t recognize the smell of gun oil until her Uncle Curtis had taken her trusty sawed off shotgun to be cleaned and oiled. It had stunk to high heaven when she finally got it back but oddly enough the smell of gun oil didn’t bother Waverly when mixed with cinnamon and leather and Nicole .

She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding and looked at the cat sleeping away on her stomach, feeling incredibly ridiculous. Had she just looked down at the cat in the first place, she would have instantly known where she was.

“Good morning McGonagall,” she cooed, scratching under the orange tabby’s chin. McGonagall just purred louder causing Waverly to smile.

She knew she should probably get up and leave the apartment, seeing as Nicole wasn’t here but she didn’t want to, not yet at least.

Nicole’s bed was too comfortable and smelled just like her and Waverly, for the first time in a long time was completely relaxed and she just didn’t want to move.  

For now she wanted to stay here in Nicole’s apartment, in Nicole’s bed cuddling with McGonagall.  

Of course the universe must have other plans for her because that’s when her phone rings, that loud obnoxious ring tone that Champ had set for himself.

Waverly reached over to the nightstand and grabbed her phone, which hadn’t been there when she went to bed last night. There’s a note, next to an unopened toothbrush and a bottle of water sitting on the nightstand.

Answering the phone call, Waverly leaned over and picked the note up. “Hello.”

“Where the hell are you?”

“Champ?” Waverly put the call on speaker and unfolded the note, tracing her finger over Nicole’s slightly messy but somehow still elegant handwriting. How was everything about this woman beautiful in some shape or form?

 

Waves,  there’s coffee in the kitchen, help yourself to whatever food is in the fridge. Feel free to shower and borrow any clothes you like. Please don’t feel the need to rush out, you are more than welcome to stay as long as you like. Thank you for last night, it’s been a really long time since I’ve talked about my father with anyone-

 

There were a few dried droplets, of what Waverly believed to be tears, on the page causing some of the ink to run, smudging a few of the words.

Champ was still talking and she knew she should be paying attention but her only focus was on Nicole’s note, on the dried tears on the paper.

 

-So, just thank you for being there and listening and comforting me. I really appreciate it. When the time comes and you’re comfortable talking about your family, I’ll be waiting with crappy beer and a shoulder to cry on if you need it, I’ll always be here. Anyways, I’m free for lunch if you want to get together, just call me.

P.S. Don’t let McGonagall fool you, I’ve already feed her.

P.P.S. You snore.

 

Waverly scoffed. She did not snore.

“Are you even listening to me Waverly?”

“Mhm,” Waverly folded Nicole’s note back up and held it to her chest.

To anyone else it may have just been a simple note but to Waverly it was more than that. It was a promise that Nicole would be there when she was ready, when she needed her. That Nicole would be there always.

A lot of people promised her a lot of things and more often than not, they broke the promises they made. After a while Waverly stopped believing people when they promised her something, no matter how small the promise was but, Waverly found herself in believing in Nicole’s promise.

“You didn’t come home last night.” His tone was accusing, like it was her fault that she didn’t come home. “You’re with Her aren’t you? ”  

Her being Nicole. For whatever stupid reason, Champ didn’t like Nicole at all (and Waverly was sure that it was indeed a stupid reason because who wouldn’t like Nicole?). He had taken to telling her that every time she so much as breathed Nicole’s name around him.

“Are we doing this again?” This game of his was getting tiring. Waverly was tired of having to defend her friendship with Nicole.

Shouldn’t he just be happy that she had a friend like Nicole? That she had someone so willing to be there for her? Someone that made Waverly feel like herself for the first time in a very, very long time.

“I don’t trust her Waverly.”

“Why not?” Waverly removed McGonagall from her stomach and threw the blanket off her legs.

She trusted Nicole, shouldn’t that be good enough for him? She was a good judge of character after all. Okay, maybe she wasn’t the best judge of character around but she knew she was right in trusting Nicole.

Nicole has been nothing but nice to her. She has done nothing but made Waverly feel truly cared for, made her feel seen.

How could he not trust someone like that? Someone who made her feel that way?

“Have you seen the way she looks at you? Are you that fucking stupid Waverly?” He snarled. “She only wants one thing from you and once she gets it she’ll leave you like everyone else.”

“S-she wouldn’t, she’s my friend,” Waverly’s voice quavered, clenching the note in her hands tightly.

He was lying right? Nicole wouldn’t actually leave her, not after the night Nicole had given her the speeding ticket. Not after last night, not after Nicole had opened up to her.

“Yeah and Wynonna is your sister and yet she leaves time and time again.”

With that he hung up and Waverly bit down on her bottom lip as tears stung her eyes and a sob fought it’s way up her throat.

He knew exactly how to hurt her, how to reduce her to full body sobs with just a few well placed words. He knew the thing she feared the most. People leaving her, especially the people she cares about.

The fear of losing Nicole had been at the back of her mind since that night she had a flat and Nicole had come to picked her up. That feared had eased up some when Nicole had told her that she would prove to her every day that she wouldn’t leave her, now it was back in full force, thanks to Champ.

Everyone left her, everyone . So of course Nicole would leave her too, it was just a matter of time. And Waverly was a fool for thinking that this time, that Nicole would be any different.


 

Nicole’s lunch passed without a single phone call from Waverly, without a single text from her. Every text she sent Waverly, every call she made went unanswered. And Nicole couldn’t help but to worry.

“Haught, if you don’t stop bouncing your leg and clicking that damn pen, I’ma break both of them,” Eric said through gritted teeth. He cared for Nicole, he’d even goes as far to say that he loved her (as a friend of course, he was happily married after all), but he could not take another second of her bouncing her leg or clicking her damn pen.

“Sorry, I just,” Nicole paused and set her pen down on top of the file she had been trying and failing to read over for the last twenty minutes. “Sorry.”

She wasn’t sure how to explain the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something was wrong, she could feel it but she didn’t know what was wrong. She just knew it had something to do with the fact that Waverly wasn’t answering her calls or text.

It was unusual. They talked every day even if they didn’t end up getting lunch together.What if something had happened to Waverly? What if whoever had been kidnapping and killing girls around Purgatory had gotten Waverly (okay, maybe she had been reading too many files on missing girls).  

Or worst what if she had heard her this morning? What if Waverly heard her say that she thinks she might be in love with her? What if she scared her off, freaked her out? What if she lost her because she couldn’t keep her damn mouth shut?

Eric rolled his chair over to her desk, something that had become somewhat of a habit since they started their little secret investigation.

The woman next to him was always so calm, so in control, confident, never once let her nervousness show. Eric had never once seen her look so nervous, so worried. It made him start to worry for her.

Nicole was like another sister to him, she was only a couple years younger than him, about the same age as his own sister. He had felt this overwhelming need to protect her since the moment Nedley had introduced them. And he hated seeing her so full of this nervous energy, so worried.

“Okay, what’s wrong Haughtstuff?”

“I don’t know,” Nicole resisted the urge to bounce her leg again. “I feel like something is wrong with Waverly.”

“And why do you feel like that?” Eric prodded.

He was going to help her get down to the bottom of whatever it was that was causing her this uneasiness about the youngest Earp and help her deal with it.

“I haven’t talked to her today.”

That was unusual. Normally those two were attached at the hip during Nicole’s lunch break. Hell, anyone in the station that was going to pick up lunch for everyone knew to get something for Waverly as well but surely Waverly missing one lunch didn’t mean something was wrong right?

Eric was sure that there was some reasonable explanation for why Waverly hadn’t joined Nicole for lunch, for why the two friends hadn’t talked today.  

He understood Nicole’s worry though. In their line of work when there was a break in someone’s routine, it often meant that something unspeakable happened to them.  

“Okay, that is a little weird but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with her.”

She looked up at him, those big brown eyes wide and filled with concern. “I can’t explain it Eric and I know it sounds crazy and I know I’m a cop and I shouldn’t rely on feelings but I feel like something is wrong, deep down I know something has happened to her in some way or another.”

She probably heard me say I think I’m in love with her this morning and never wants to speak to me again.

They say people know when something bad has happened to the person they love. That somehow they feel it deep in their in hearts, in their souls. It wasn’t something that Eric personally believed in but he supposed it could be true.

He wondered how deep Nicole’s love for Waverly ran. They had not known each other that long but Eric knew that love did not know the concept of time.

He himself knew that he was going to marry Linda when they were in grade school. His friends had made fun of him, his siblings told him he was crazy, his parents just rolled their eyes. Linda herself told him that she wasn't going to marry him when he first told her at 10 years old but he knew.

They got married right after high school and now they have two beautiful children. So yeah, he knew time and age were meaningless when it came to love.

“You care about her deeply.” It wasn't a question, it was a statement, fact.

Anyone who so much as saw the way Nicole's eyes lit up when she saw Waverly, saw the way she smiled dimples and all when she talked about Waverly knew that Nicole loved Waverly Earp in some shape or form.

“She's my best friend, of course I care about her.” Nicole’s eyes darted all around the room, refusing to meet his eyes.

“It's more than that, you love her.”

“As a friend ,” Nicole stressed the word, as if saying it would make it true. Her eyes finally meeting his, wide and pleading. “Just as a friend.”

“You’re afraid to say it out loud.”

“I said it out loud this morning while we were in bed together, what if she heard me?”

She was scared. Eric hadn’t released it at first. He thought she was just worried about Waverly but it was clear in the panic in her eyes, in the tremble in her voice that she was terrified of losing Waverly.

“Wait, you two were in bed together?” He couldn’t help but to ask. He was curious how they ended up in bed together.

“Not the issue here Eric.” Nicole rolled her eyes at him. He could be such a guy sometimes.

“My bad, look all I can tell you is to talk to her, find out if she heard you then see where you stay with her if she did and if she didn’t hear you.” He placed her hand on hers, hoping to provide her with even a little bit of comfort. “I suggest you decide whether or not to tell her, whether or not you’re going to put your name in the running for her heart.”

Eric was sure that Waverly felt something for Nicole, he wasn’t sure what exactly she felt but he knew she felt something. He just hoped that if it came down to Nicole verse Champ that Waverly made the right choice, that Waverly chose someone who truly loved her over someone who was merely a constant presence in her life.

“I can’t tell her, I can’t risk losing her,” Nicole whispered, trying so hard to keep her tears in check. The thought of losing Waverly, losing her best friend was devastating. “I’d rather have her as a friend than nothing at all.”

“You should still talk to her, when do you get off?”

Nicole looked up at the clock on the wall. “An hour.”

“Then get out of here, go make sure she’s okay, go talk to her,” he told her, pushing away from her desk and back towards his. “I’ll cover for you.”

“Are you sure?” Nicole asked even though she was already standing and gathering her things.

“Of course.”

“And Haughtstuff,” he waited until she turned back to look at him before continuing. “Training and skill only get you so far in this job, you have to rely on your gut feeling, on your instincts, don’t forget that.”

“I won’t, thank you Eric.”


 

 

Nicole was standing outside of Shorty’s a few minutes later, not bothering to go home and change out of her uniform. She was both anxious and scared to see Waverly, to talk to her, to find out if she had heard her this morning.

Why? Why did she have utter those words out loud? Especially with Waverly laying there in her arms.

Saying the words out loud had made them real. Before she could push her feelings for Waverly down, pretend that they didn’t exist but now? Now that the words were out there, now that she had whispered them to a sleeping Waverly (she hoped that Waverly was sleeping at the time and hadn’t heard), she wouldn’t be able to pretend they didn’t exist.

She may be able to hide her feelings from Waverly but she wouldn’t be able to deny them to herself any longer.

Mustering all the courage she could, Nicole strode into Shorty’s with an air of confidence she didn’t feel.  

Shorty’s was unusually crowded for a Sunday night and loud, a lot louder than normal. Sundays at Shorty’s were usually quiet, slow. Not many people in Purgatory wanted to get drunk on a Sunday night.

She scanned the packed saloon, looking for the ray of sunshine that had stolen the breath from her lungs the moment she had first laid eyes on her, that had stolen her heart the moment she directed a smile at her.

Not seeing Waverly, Nicole weaved her way in and out the drunk patrons towards the bar.

“Hey Officer Haught, beer or martini?” Shorty asked, sending her a quick smile before going back to pouring shots.

“Neither, I’m looking for Waverly,” Nicole took her stetson off her head and began playing with the brim, her nerves creeping back in. “Is she around?”

“Nope, if she was I wouldn’t be stuck with him,” Shorty pointed to a young man Nicole had never seen before (maybe because she only ever came in when Waverly was working), serving up beers to a couple of guys that Nicole recognized as local ranch hands.

“Do you know where she is?”

“She’s at Curtis’,” he answered handing the shots he had been pouring off to patron in front of him. “Came in pretty upset this afternoon to get her keys then took off to see Gus.”

“Do you know why she was upset?” Nicole asked, leaning over the bar towards Shorty to hear him over the noise in the saloon.

“I’m not too sure, I think maybe her and Champ are fighting but I’ve never seen her get so upset over a fight with him.” He shrugged.

Nicole eyes scanned the saloon for Champ, fixing him with a glare when she found him chatting up some girl who was definitely not Waverly.

She’d deal with him later, right now she needs to find Waverly and make sure she was okay.

“Thanks Shorty,” Nicole gave him a small smile and turned to make her way out of the saloon when Shorty grabbed her arm, stopping her. She turned back around to face him.

“You let me know if I need to beat some sense into that boy okay?” Shorty’s tone left no room for argument.

“Yes Sir.” With that Nicole turned on her heels and made her way out the saloon and to her squad car.


 

Nicole pulled up at the McCready ranch twenty-five minutes later, parking her car next to Waverly’s red jeep. At least Waverly was still here.

She stared up at the one story log cabin style home with what looked like a wrap around porch with awe. It was a beautiful home, one that reminded her of her grandparents’. Off to the left side of the home sat a large barn, housing what Nicole hoped were horses (it had been a couple years since she last got to ride a horse).

With a sigh she stepped out of the car, leaving her stetson and uniform shirt behind, thankful that she wears a shirt under her starched uniform shirt. Long sleeves and August heat did not mix.

She made her way up the stone walkway towards the porch steps, taking them two at a time and trying to push down her nerves.

“Officer Haught?” Curtis McCready stepped out onto the porch, meeting Nicole at the top of the steps, brows furrowed with worry. “Everything okay?”

“Hey Mr. McCready.” She nodded to him with a smile. “Everything is fine I’m just looking for Waverly, Shorty said she was here.”

“She’s ‘round back by the fire pit, though I’m not sure she’s in the mood for company but you are welcome to try.” With that he turned around and headed back inside.

“Thank you Sir!” She called after him, hurrying around to the back of the house, swallowing down the urge to hightail it outta there.

Learning that Champ and Waverly had been fighting had eased some of Nicole’s nerves but that feeling of something being wrong hadn’t gone away. Waverly may have just been upset because of a fight with Champ but that didn’t mean that she still didn’t hear Nicole this morning.

True to his word, Nicole did in fact find Waverly sitting in front of the fire pit in the back where a huge bonfire was burning.

She stayed standing on the porch for a few seconds, just watching Waverly. Taking in how stiff she looked, how she just stared, unmoving, at the orange flames as they licked up at the sky. It was as if the flames had lulled her into some sort of trance.

Nicole made sure to make as much noise as possible as she approached the younger woman. “Wave.”

Waverly whipped her head around, puffy and red eyes meeting warm brown ones.

Nicole was at her side in an instant, heart clenching painfully in her chest at the sight of Waverly’s tear stained face, grimacing at the heat from the fire but otherwise ignoring it and that fear she was feeling in favor of comforting Waverly. “What happened Wave?”

“I’m fine.” Waverly’s voice was hoarse from crying. She looked away from Nicole and back at the fire.

“Really?” Nicole grasped Waverly's chin lightly and making her look at her. “Your tears say otherwise Earp.”

Nicole’s tone was as gentle as her touch. Her eyes shined with that concern that took Waverly's breath away and Waverly couldn't help but to start crying all over again.  

How was she supposed to survive without Nicole Haught in her life? How was she supposed to survive losing Nicole?

Nicole's arms were around her as soon as she started crying, pulling her into a tight embrace, hands smoothing up and down her back, whispering comforting words to her as she cried into Nicole’s neck.  

Waverly clung to her like this was the last time they would ever be this close and in Waverly’s mind it was. Champ’s words, that fear of Nicole just up and leaving her still gripped her heart and mind tightly.

Nicole may be here now but that didn’t mean she would stay. She could just up and leave her at anytime like Wynonna.

“It’s gonna be okay Waves, whatever it is, it’s gonna be okay,” Nicole whispered, running her fingers through Waverly’s hair, trying to calm her sobs. “It’s gonna be okay.”

She hated to see Waverly cry like this, hated to feel Waverly’s body tremble against her own as she cried. She hated that she didn’t know how to help her, didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what to do other than to hold her and let her cry it out.

After a while Waverly’s hot tears stopped hitting Nicole’s neck, her body stopped trembling, her breathing evened out and the grip she had on Nicole’s shirt loosened but Nicole didn’t stop running her fingers through Waverly’s hair, didn’t stop whispering soothing words to her.

Waverly pulled back, wiping her tear stained cheeks with the back of her hand, mumbling. “I’m sorry.”

“We’ve been over this a hundred times Earp,” Nicole brushed the hair out of Waverly’s face and tucked it behind her ear, smiling softly at her. “You never have to apologize to me.”

“But I got tears and snot all over you,” Waverly used the sleeve of the flannel (Nicole’s flannel), she was wearing to dry Nicole’s neck.

Nicole caught her hand and laced their fingers together. “I think I’ll live, wanna tell me why you were crying?”

It was kinda gross sure (okay, a lot more than kinda), but she would endure way worse for Waverly.

Waverly turned her gaze from Nicole and back to the roaring fire, listening to the crackle of the wood as it burned, taking almost as much comfort from the sound as she did from Nicole’s presence.

Fire brought Waverly a level of calm, of clarity, of comfort she only found in old history books and most recently Nicole.

There was just something about the way that the red-orange flames danced, something about the crackling of the wood and leaves burning, there was something about the smell of the rich oak wood burning that just centered Waverly, that calmed her.

“Champ and I had a fight.”

“About?” Nicole questioned, turning her attention to the fire as well. In her personal opinion, it was way too hot to be sitting this close to the blazing fire. She could already feel sweat pool at her lower back, soaking into her shirt causing it to stick to her skin.

“You.”

Me? ” Nicole turned her head sharply to stare at Waverly in surprise.

Well, she hadn’t been expecting that.

“He didn’t like that I stayed with you last night and he said some pretty horrible things.” Waverly’s voice was low and she wouldn’t meet Nicole’s gaze.  

“It’s not like he gave you a lot of choice!” Nicole raised her voice, cursing herself when Waverly flinched. She lowered her voice and continued. “He was supposed to let you in and why does it matter that you stayed with me? At least you were safe.”

The more she heard about Champ, the more time she spent around him, the more she began to dislike him and wanted to punch him in his stupid face.

How could he get mad at Waverly and pick a fight over something so small? And why in the hell did Waverly put up with it, with him? Nicole just didn’t understand it.

“He said you were going to leave like everyone else, that once you got what you wanted from me you’d leave.” The tears started to fall again but Waverly made no move to wipe them.

Suddenly why Waverly was so upset over a stupid fight clicked. Waverly had severe abandonment issues. Nicole had realized it the night she had pulled Waverly over for speeding, the night she swore to Waverly that she would prove that she wasn’t going anywhere, that Waverly wasn’t going to lose her.

From what little Nicole knew of Waverly’s family, she understood Waverly’s fear of people leaving her and she couldn’t believe that Champ had used that against her in a fight.

Actually, she could. He was that petty, that cruel.

“Waverly.” She squeezed the hand in hers, prompting Waverly to look at her but she didn’t. She just kept staring at the fire. “Waverly, look at me please.”

Waverly still didn’t look at her, so she got up from the bench and kneeled in front of her line of sight.

“Wave,” she pleaded and Waverly finally looked at her, with fresh tears shining in her eyes.

“I lo-,” Nicole stopped short, sighing and running her fingers through her hair. Now was not the time for confessions of love.

“I’m not going anywhere Waverly, I promise, I know that people promise you that all the time and they leave anyways but I won’t.” She brushed Waverly’s falling tears away with her thumb. “You’re my best friend Wave, and the only thing I want from you is your friendship, I have that and I would be incredibly stupid to throw it away.”

“I know,” Waverly’s voice cracked, tears falling faster at the sincerity in her voice and those beautiful brown eyes. “I’m being stupid.”

“No baby,” Nicole swallowed hard, looking away from Waverly, cheeks turning as red as her hair. She hadn’t meant to let the term of endearment slip but she pushed through her embarrassment. “Being scared of people leaving doesn’t make you stupid, it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to cry it all out.”

She knew her words couldn’t undo years of abandonment, years of fear of the people you love leaving you but she hoped they eased Waverly’s pain, her fear even if just a little bit.

“What did I do to deserve a friend like you?” Waverly asked, finally giving Nicole the tiniest of smiles.

“Guess you just got lucky,” Nicole winked, standing up and pulling Waverly into a hug. “I’m not going anywhere Waves, you’re stuck with me.”

“I think I can live with that,” Waverly chuckled, wrapped her arms around Nicole’s waist, pulling her as close as possible.

It amazed her how easily Nicole was able to ease her fear, how easily she was able to undo the hurt that Champ’s harsh words had done. She was once again in awe of Nicole Haught.

“Can I ask you something?” Nicole asked, sitting back down next to her, joining their hands once more.

“You just did.”

Nicole rolled her eyes and bumped their shoulders together. “Why do you stay with him?”

It was a good question but it was also one Waverly wasn’t sure she had an answer for.

Champ had been great the first year or so that they dated. He had been sweet and attentive, and he always defended her, he was respectful, he hadn’t cheated, he had been the kind of boyfriend every father dreamed their daughter would date.

Somewhere along the way he had completely changed but he never left. He always came back to her, he was always there and that was all Waverly ever wanted. Someone to be there, someone who wouldn’t leave her.

“He’s the one constant thing in my life Nicole, he was there when Wynonna left time and time again, he’s safe and normal and he’s there , even when he strays he always comes back to me,” she answered after a few moments.  

Nicole balled her free hand into a fist, her blunt nails digging into her palm. Waverly knew that Champ was cheating or, had cheated on her and it made her blood boil.

Waverly deserved so much better than Champ freakin’ Hardy. She deserved more than someone who's only redeeming quality was that fact that he was there.

“Yeah, he’s an ass sometimes and he can be downright cruel when he gets mad but he’s always been there and I know he loves me, in his own way he loves me.”

“Do you love him?” Nicole found herself asking, even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer.

But Waverly had to love him right? That’s the only way she could see her putting up with his shit.

Regardless of the answer, Nicole was going to have a talk with that boy-man. Set him straight. Waverly may be fine with letting him treat her that way, talk to her the way he does, cheat on her but Nicole wasn’t just going to sit by and watch him do it.

“I do.” And she did in some way. Maybe she wasn’t in love with him but she did love him to some degree.

“You deserve better Waverly Earp.”

Waverly just shrugged in response.

Nicole wrapped her arm around her shoulders and pulled the younger woman into her side. She silently vowed to repeat those words over and over again until Waverly finally believed them.

“By the way,” Waverly pulled away enough to look up at the young officer and poked her in the chest. “I do not snore.”

“Hate to break it to you but you do,” Nicole’s smile was teasing and her eyes flashed with a playfulness that Waverly loved...liked, that Waverly liked.

“I do not!” Waverly grumbled, folding her arms over her chest.

“Don’t worry Waves, your secret is safe with me,” Nicole winked, pulling Waverly back into her side. “Plus it’s incredibly adorable.”

Gus and Curtis watched the way Waverly leaned heavily into Nicole’s embrace. They watched Nicole press a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head before turning her attention back out to the fire still burning strong.

“That woman is in love with our Waverly.”

“I reckon you’re right,” Gus said, leaning into her husband’s side. “But she’ll never leave Champ.”

“I don’t know, Waverly is a smart girl, she’ll eventually see who really cares for her, who’s good for her.” Curtis wrapped his arm around Gus’s shoulders, placing a kiss to the top of her head, much like Nicole had done to Waverly. “But we can always nudge her in the right direction.”

Chapter Text

The sun was just starting to rise over Purgatory, painting the sky vibrant pinks and oranges  when Nicole pulled her squad car to a stop in front of Shorty’s.

Waverly wasn’t there but Champ was and that was why Nicole had gotten up an hour before she needed to, to try to catch Champ before he went to work.

Curtis had been nice enough to let her know what time Champ showed up for work on Monday mornings. And well, Nicole wasn’t about to let that information go to waste.

Someone had to confront Champ about the way he treated Waverly and every time Curtis talked to him, everything he said just went in one ear and out the other. Nicole was going to make sure the man-child listened and she would be willing to beat what she had to say into him if needed.

It would be wrong and would probably cost her her job if she laid her hands on him but dammit if she wouldn’t do it for Waverly Earp. She would do anything for Waverly (okay, maybe not murder someone, maybe, she might given the right circumstances), risk everything for Waverly.

She was so far gone for Waverly, in such a short amount of time that it was completely insane but, Nicole wouldn’t have it any other way. Their relationship may never make it past being friends, best friends but that was okay with Nicole.

She had no problem loving Waverly from afar as long as Waverly was happy. Sure it would hurt and sometimes it would kill her but Waverly being happy was all that mattered to her.

Unfortunately that meant Waverly being with Champ when she deserved so much better than that douche.

Waiting wasn’t something Nicole was good at. Even when she was little she didn’t like to wait for things but her grandparents taught her patience, taught her that sometimes the best things in life were worth waiting for.

Hardy “Rodeo Champ” James was not worth waiting for in Nicole's opinion but she would wait on him for Waverly.

Nicole drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, staring at the doors to Shorty’s, willing Champ to hurry up and walk through them.

If he didn’t leave in the next five minutes then he was going to be late. Which wasn’t all that surprising, he hardly seemed like the punctual type. Which had to be very frustrating for Waverly, seeing as she was a planner.

She let out a puff of air, blowing the baby hairs off her forehead and picked up her cellphone from it’s place in one of the cup holders. She could at least do something useful while she was waiting.

Her younger brother Trenten called last night while she was with Waverly. She meant to call him back last night but after she gotten home, made a quick dinner, ate and showered, she was too tired to listen to him complain about their father.

Like Nicole, Trenten didn’t want to follow the plan their father had laid out for him. Something her father blamed her for.

For generations the Haughts have been two things; Cops and Nurses. All men in the Haught line were cops and all the women were nurses. It was tradition, it was expected for each Haught child to fall in line, to go into the career chosen for them based on their gender.

For generations every Haught did what was expected of them, never strayed from the path laid out before them until Nicole. Even from a young age Nicole knew that she didn’t want to be a nurse. It’s not that she didn’t think that nurses were important because they were and she knew that nurses had a hard and important job and most doctors would be lost without them but nurses helped people after they got hurt and Nicole, she wanted to protect people from getting hurt.

Not long after that Elvis concert Nicole had told her father that she wanted to be like her hero, like her grandfather. She told her father that she wanted to be a cop instead of a nurse, that she wanted to be the kind of officer that her grandpa was.

It was safe to say that he hadn’t taken it well. She wasn’t sure if he was more upset about the fact that one of his children would be breaking their stupid family tradition or, the fact that she wanted to be like her grandpa and not him.

Either way she guess it really didn’t matter because from that point on everything she did disappointed him and he never forgave her for breaking away from the path. He grew to resent her as she got older and that put a strain on their family for while. It was either take his side or end up in the same boat as Nicole and as much as her siblings loved her, they feared their father’s wrath more. Except for Trenten, he stood by her his whole life.

She never truly understood why he was so upset, so against her being a cop when his father, her grandpa encouraged her every step of the way.

Nicole scrolled through her contacts until she found her brother’s name then hit call. He was probably still sleeping this early in the morning but she could leave him a quick voicemail to call her back.

The line rang a few times before her brother picked up, sounding relieved. “Nicky! You’re alive.”

“Of course I’m alive,” She chuckled with a shake of her head. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I haven’t heard from you in a while and neither has Grandpa, we worry.”

She should probably call them more, especially her grandpa. He worries about her so much and the least she can do is call him once a week to try and ease those worries.

“Yeah, I know, I’m sorry I’ll call more I promise.”

“You better or I’ll have to come kick your ass Nicky.”

“You wish baby boy,” Nicole laughed, looking up at the light that just turned on above Shorty’s.

The boy-man was finally awake. Hopefully it didn’t take him forever to get dressed and come down. She was getting tired of waiting on him.

“Don’t call me that, I’m a grown man,” Trenten whined and Nicole could practically see him pouting with his arms crossed over his chest in her mind.

“Maybe so but you’ll always be my wittle baby brother to me,” she cooed, resuming drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. She hadn’t realized how much she missed teasing him until now.

Trenten was two years younger than her and growing up they spent a lot of time together, had a lot of the same friends. And while most older siblings didn’t like their younger sibling hanging around them all the time, Nicole never minded.

In fact she was downright happy that at least one person in their home was on her side. That one of her siblings didn’t care about what their father had to say about her (he didn’t hide his dislike for her choice in career or her sexuality).

“You sound like ma.”

“How is she?” Nicole asked. It has been awhile since she spoke with her mother, which was fine with her.

Nicole and her mother got along better than her and her father but her mother either pretended that they were the perfect family or, blamed Nicole because they weren’t. It should be something she is used to you know? She’s dealt with it her whole life but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Sometimes she just wanted her mother to be on her side every once and awhile. Sometimes she just needed her mother to be a mother.

“She’s ma, you know? She pretends everything’s perfect and that the sun shines out dad’s ass.” There was anger lining his words. Anger that Nicole wholeheartedly understood but wished he didn’t feel.

She didn’t want him to resent their parents and she didn’t want them to resent him just because he sided with her when they were kids. As grateful and happy she was, she is to have him on her side, to have him there for her, she wished it hadn’t cost him a relationship with their father

“SSDD?”

He chuckled and she could just picture his crooked smile and his dimpled left cheek. “Yeah, same shit, different day.”

It was a phrase their grandpa used almost daily and they adopted when they were teenagers. It was a phrase they used often but only with one another. It was the best way to describe the things going on with their parents.

“I miss you Nicky, can I come visit?”

“Of course you can come visit, this weekend?”

The light above Shorty’s finally turned off. Hopefully the boy-man wouldn’t take much longer.

“Actually, I’ll be there tonight.” He said sheepishly.

“Tonight?” Nicole couldn’t help the way her voice raised in surprise. “It’s a three day drive Trent.”

“Well if you ever returned my calls or I don’t know check in every once and awhile then you would have known that I’m about five hours away.”

“I’m sorry,” Nicole’s head snapped up when she heard the door to Shorty’s open and shut. “Look we’ll talk when you get here okay? Be careful Trent, I love you.”

Without waiting for him to say anything else, Nicole hung up the call and scrambled out of the car.

“Hardy!”

Champ looked over his shoulder at her, lips turned up in disgust. “Fuck off.”

“No, you and I are going to have a talk.” Nicole took a couple of long strides until she caught up the him.

“I don’t have time, I’m running late.”

“Yeah, I don’t think Curtis will care if you’re late,” Nicole grabbed his arm, stopping him from walking away from her. “We’re going to talk about the way you treat Waverly.”

Champ ripped his arm from her grip and continued walking down the sidewalk to his truck. He wasn’t going to stand around and let some dyke tell him about his relationship with his Waverly.

“What goes on between me and my girlfriend is none of your business Haught, so kindly fuck off.” He opened the door to his truck but Nicole slammed it closed before he could get in.

She didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this asshole. She just wanted to give him a piece of her mind and leave.

“What the hell is wrong with you? What gives you the right to talk to her like that? Treat her like that?” Nicole stepped closer to him, causing him to step back until his back hit the truck, effortlessly pinning him against it.

“She’s mine not yours.” He smirked, doing his best to make himself seem bigger than her. “And I can do with her what I please.”

“She’s not your property! She’s a person, her own person.” Nicole fought the urge to beat his head into the frame of the truck.

How could someone as sweet as Waverly Earp end up with an asshole who thinks he owns her? Who thinks he can do with her as he pleases? How could the world be so cruel to her and make her believe that this boy loved her, was worth her time?

“And she doesn’t deserve to be treated the way you treat her, she doesn’t deserve to have her fears played with, she deserves better than that, better than you.”

“Oh and I guess better is you right?” He asked, that smirk still there. “I hate to break it to you but she’ll never feel the way you do, she’ll never love you, she’s not gay and you,” He looked her up and down, his smirk turning into a sneer. “You couldn’t satisfy her.”

Nicole clenched her fist at her sides. He was just trying to get under her skin, she knew that but that didn’t stop it from working. Thing was, two could play at that game and she knew exactly how to get under his skin, how to push his buttons.

He tipped his hand yesterday when he told Waverly that she was just going to up and leave her at any moment, like everyone else. He was insecure about his relationship with Waverly. He was scared that she was going to swoop in and steal Waverly away. And for once, Nicole was going to be petty, was going to stoop to his level and piss him off, hurt him in the same way he hurt Waverly.

She stepped even closer, until their faces were inches apart. Their breath coming out in short puffs and mingling together. She tried not to cringe at his morning breath.

“She seemed perfectly content sleeping in the same bed as me the other night, in my clothes, curled up next to me.” It was her turn to smirk when his eyes narrowed. “We both know the only reason you said the things you did to her yesterday is because you’re scared, you know that there is a very real possibility that I could steal her away from you, that you could lose her.”

Champ shoved her away with a snarl, sending her stumbling a few steps. “I’m the only person that’s always been there for her, she’ll never leave me for some butch cop that she hardly knows.”

“I’ve been respectful of your relationship with Waverly because for some unknown reason she actually loves you but,” Nicole stalked forward again, pinning him to the truck with her forearm across his chest, pressing him harder against the metal each time he struggled to free himself.  

She didn’t want this to come to them laying hands on each other but she wasn’t going to just let him push her around. She allowed people, mainly her father push her around her whole life and she was done with that.

“If you ever make her cry like that again, if you ever talk to her like that again, if you treat her less than she deserves then I won’t hesitate to swoop in and show her that she deserves better, I won’t hesitate to show her that someone can love her for who she really is.”

With that Nicole dropped her arm from his chest and turned around, walking back to her car with her head held high.

There was no doubt in her mind that she could treat Waverly better given the chance, hell she already did just by actually listening to the things Waverly said but this was about more than just who could treat Waverly better. This was about Waverly’s happiness and right now Waverly’s happiness was with that douchebag.

But that didn’t mean Nicole was going to give up. No, Nicole would be patient and would wait because Waverly Earp was one of those things in life worth waiting for.


 

Nicole and Eric strolled down main street, sipping on milkshakes as they walk without a care in the world. They were “patrolling” the streets or, at least that what they told dispatch they were doing. Really they just wanted an excuse to get out of the station, grab a milkshake and waste the last hour of their shift.

They spent most of their day cooped up in the station doing tedious paperwork and they needed a few minutes to stretch their legs and enjoy the best milkshakes in Purgatory.

“So, was Waverly okay when you found her yesterday?” Eric asked, slowing his pace, in no hurry to return to the station.

“Define okay,” Nicole tore her eyes away from a group of young men loitering outside the diner and looked at the older officer. “Physically she was fine but, mentally? Champ said some things to her that really hurt her.”

She didn’t want to go into anymore detail than that. It wasn’t really her place to talk about Waverly’s business with anyone other than Waverly herself. She wasn’t one to spread rumors about other people. Not that she thought Eric would go and tell anyone anything she told him in confidence.  

“That’s not that surprising, Champ tends to speak without thinking,” Eric took a sip of his milkshake and bumped his shoulder against Nicole’s. “Though I’m not entirely sure he’s capable of thinking at all.”

He was hoping to lighten the mood that had settled over Nicole with his joke but it didn’t seem to work.

Nicole’s face was pinched in confusion as she stared straight ahead of them.

“I don’t get how someone could be so cruel to the person they supposedly love,” She played with the straw in her milkshake. “I wish she could see that she deserves better.”

She knew that Champ was scared of losing Waverly to her but one would think he would be better, treat Waverly better instead of being cruel and hateful. It was like he was trying to push her away.

“Some people are just plain mean Haught and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to understand it.” He reached over and grasped her shoulder, pulling her to a stop.

It hurt him to see her so gone for someone she may never get the chance to be with. It hurt him to know that this probably wouldn’t end in her favor. It hurt him to know that she was most likely to get her heart broken and there wasn’t anything he or anyone else could do to stop it.

Not for the first time he found himself wishing that Waverly would return Nicole’s feelings and if she couldn’t, he wished she let her down as easy as possible before it completely broke her.

“I know you care about her and I know you just want her to be happy but the only thing you can do in this situation is be there for her and be ready to pick up the pieces if she needs you to but you also need to protect yourself Nicole.”

“I will,” She gave him a small smile then pulled him into a one arm hug. “Thank you.”

She would be eternally grateful for the man standing in front of her. For his constant support and advice and for him just being there when at times she felt like she has no one else to turn to about these feelings for Waverly.

Eric cleared his throat and pushed her away lightly before starting to walk down the sidewalk again. “Alright enough of that.”

“I was pulling some case files from the basement this morning and came across something you may be interested in,” he said, looking over at her as they walked.

“What is it?” Nicole asked.

He pulled a folded up newspaper clipping out of his breast pocket and handed it over to her. “Something on the Earps.”

Nicole stared down at the folded paper in her hand for a few seconds before handing it back to him. “I don’t want it, she’ll tell me when she’s ready.”

He admired her respect for Waverly’s privacy, her respect for Waverly period. He wished that more people in this town had that same respect for Waverly. He wished more people in this town saw Waverly in the same light Nicole did (maybe without being helplessly in love with her like Nicole).

He wished that the sometimes downright hateful people in this town saw Waverly as just Waverly instead of an Earp. He wished more people in this town were like Nicole Haught. Purgatory would sure be a better place if they were.

“Alright.” He tucked the newspaper clipping back into his pocket. “So your little bro is coming to town?”

“Mhm,” Nicole hummed, finishing off her chocolate milkshake then tossing the cup in a trashcan as they passed it.

“You don’t talk about your family much or anything about your life before you moved to Purgatory.”

Eric wasn’t a nosey man. He believed that everyone had a right to privacy but, they were friends and friends shared things about their lives right? He was merely curious about where Nicole came from, what made her the person she is, the cop she is.

Nicole shrugged. “Not much to really talk about.”

Her tone was guarded, expression neutral and Eric knew not to push her. She’d tell him in her own time.

“Alright, well let's get back to the station and clock out so you can meet him at Shorty’s.”


 

 

Waverly was busy wiping down the bar after Champ had spilled a pitcher of beer in his attempt to apologize for yesterday, when a tall redheaded man she had never seen before approached the bar.

Champ’s apology had probably been one of the most sincere apology she had gotten from him and there have been plenty of apologies from him over the years.

She intended to make him sweat because he hurt her, his words had hurt her more than his cheating ever did but, then he came in stumbling over his feet to her, dark eyes filled with regret, holding a bouquet of her favorite flowers and Waverly found herself back in her junior year.

She forgave him but only because in that moment she could see his love for her, because she saw how truly sorry he was and because in that moment she remembered that she did love him and that she owed him a lot.

“Excuse me Miss?” The man across from the bar her got her attention, giving her a crooked dimpled smile.  

“What can I get ya?” Waverly gave him the same bright, fake smile she gave every other patron that walked into Shorty’s.

“I’m supposed to be meeting my sister here but I can’t seem to find her.” He ran his fingers through his short red hair, reminding her of a certain redheaded officer, as he looked around the saloon. “You may know her, Nicole, Nicole Haught?”

A real smile worked it’s way onto her lips at the mention of Nicole’s name.

She study the man in front of her. He could almost be the spitting image of Nicole. He had the same red hair, that same dimpled smile that sent Waverly’s heart into overdrive. His wide brown eyes with gold flecks swirling in them, sparkled with that same playfulness that Nicole’s did.

The only difference Waverly noticed was that his accent was more noticeable than Nicole’s and his mole was just under his right eye, where Nicole’s was under her left eye.

“Nicole’s probably hung up at work.” Waverly looked at her watch. Nicole should have gotten off work fifteen minutes ago. “It happens a lot.”

Waverly set about pouring Nicole’s brother a beer as he took a seat at the bar.

“You two are friends?” He asked, nodding in thanks for the beer. “Are you Waverly Earp?”

He knew who she was, does that mean Nicole talked about her a lot? And why did the thought of Nicole telling her brother about her make her heart swell?

No one ever talked about her to someone else unless it was to spread some sort of gossip, some sort of lies about her family but that wasn’t who Nicole was. No, if Nicole talked about her to her brother then it had to be good things right?

“That’s me, and you are?”

Waverly knew little of Nicole’s siblings. Of course she talked about them but never anything really important you know? Just small things, superficial things.

“Trenten, Trenten Haught.” He held his hand out to her, grinning at her .

When she placed her hand in his, he brought it up to his lips and placed a soft kiss to it with a wink. “It’s very nice to meet you Miss Earp, Nicky speaks very highly of you.”

“Such a charmer,” Waverly blushed. “It’s very nice to meet you Trenten.”

He gave her a roguish grin and let go of her hand, picking his beer up and bringing it to his lips. “Well, Nicky did teach me everything I know and please, call me Trent.”

“Only if you call me Waverly.”

A guy down the bar waved his empty beer glass in the air at Waverly, trying to grab her attention.

Waverly rolled her eyes and sighed. She just wanted a few minutes to get to know Nicole’s brother better and possible to get to know Nicole better through him.

“I’ll be right back.”

“Take your time sweetheart,” He smiled at her and pulled his phone out of his pocket, dialing Nicole’s number.

Trenten’s eyes followed Waverly’s every movement as he waited for his sister to answer the phone.

“I know, I know I’m late but it’s not my fault,” Nicole said in lieu of hello. “S ome idiots decided to try and beat the only red light in town, so I’m stuck writing up a report but I’ll be there in 20, 30 minutes tops.”

“Yeah, that’s not why I called,” he lowered his voice a bit and tore his eyes away from Waverly. “When you told me about Waverly Earp, you failed to mention that she was a fucking goddess.”

“No.” Her tone was firm and Trenten couldn’t help but to grin. “She has a boyfriend a-and she’s my friend, so no Trent, just no.”

Nicole trailed off and his grin widened. He had a sneaking suspicion that Nicole had feelings for Waverly Earp based on how she talked about Waverly as if the sun set and rose with her but now? With the way she quickly shut him down? He knew for sure.

“You have a crush on her,” he whispered into the phone, keeping an eye on Waverly to make sure she was still out of earshot.

“Shut up!” Nicole hissed.

He just chuckled at her as Waverly made her way back over to him.

“That Nicole?” She asked and he didn’t miss the way her eyes lit up when she said Nicole’s name.

“Mhm, stuck at work.”

“Well I guess that means you get to tell me her most embarrassing stories while you wait on her,” Waverly leaned over towards the cellphone so Nicole could hear her.

She didn’t actually want him to tell her anything Nicole wouldn’t want her to know but, it was always fun to tease the officer, seeing as Nicole was always teasing her.

“No!” Nicole practically screamed into the phone. “Don’t you dare Trent, I’ll make your life a livi-.”

Trenten hung up the phone and shoved it into his pocket, grinning at Waverly with mischief shining in his eyes. “Where to start?”

He wouldn’t actually tell Waverly anything too embarrassing. Now that he knew that his sister had a crush on this girl, he was going to talk her up. He was going to make Waverly think that the sun shined out of Nicole’s ass. He was going to help his sister get the girl.


 

 

“I’m gonna kill him,” Nicole dropped her head on her desk with a groan, fighting the urge to throw her phone across the room.

She should have known that having him meet her at Shorty’s was a bad idea. Of course he wouldn’t pass up a chance to embarrass her, especially in front of the woman she loved.

“What are you whining about?” Eric asked rolling over to her desk, taking his pen and poking her in the side of the head with it when she didn’t move or say anything. “Are you dead? Because if you’re dead I’m just gonna roll you out back, I don’t need that paperwork.”

She lifted her head up and glared at the man. Why was she friends with him? He was kind of an ass at times. But so was she, so she guessed they balanced each other out.

“My brother is sitting at Shorty’s with Waverly right now, sharing my most embarrassing with her and I’m stuck here.” She turned her glare on the drunk slumped in the chair he was handcuffed to. “Because this idiot deciding to drive drunk, run a red light and cause an accident.”

“I’m pretty sure you can’t call me an idiot.” The man glared right back at her but she ignored him.

“Well, it was a pretty bonehead move to drink and drive and in front of two cops no less,” Eric shrugged. “So you kind of are an idiot Scott.”

They probably shouldn’t call him an idiot but really who’d blame them? They both wanted to clock out and get on with their evening but couldn’t because Scott had them filling out reports.

Scott scoffed and sunk farther in his chair.

“I’m sure your brother won’t embarrass you too much.”

“Are you kidding?” Nicole laid her head back down on her desk, causing the rest of her words to come out muffled. “I embarrassed the shit out of him growing up and he’s going to get payback, trust me.”

“Come on Haught, you’re both adults I’m sure everyth-,” Eric started laughing uncontrollable. “You’re so screwed Haught.

He was trying to be reassuring but dammit, he had a younger sister that he embarrassed all the time growing up and now she got pay back by hoping his daughter up on candy and ice cream then dropping her back off at the house (which his wife blames him for every time).

It was safe to say that siblings never let go of things and years down the road still felt the need for petty revenge.

“You’re an ass,” Nicole pushed him away from her desk and set about finishing her paperwork.

The faster she got this done, the faster she would be able to get to Shorty’s and stop her brother from embarrassing her in front of the woman she loved.  

Chapter Text

Waverly took her break a few minutes after Trenten had hung up his call with Nicole and found them a quiet table towards the back of the saloon to talk.

She wanted to know more about Nicole, from someone who grew up with her. From someone who got to see all sides of Nicole, the good and the bad (though she highly doubted Nicole had a bad side).

“So, what was Nicole like growing up?” Waverly asked, picking a fry up from the plate in the middle of the table and dipping it in some ketchup. “Tell me a story from when you two were growing up.”

She pushed the plate of fries towards him, offering him some while he waited on Nicole. He may be meeting Nicole for dinner but knowing how unkind Purgatory was to Nicole when she was in a hurry to get somewhere, Waverly knew he would be waiting awhile.

“Nicky was just like she is now,” Trenten said with a mouth full of fries, covering his mouth with his hand like his sister does. “She was, is smart as a whip, loyal to a fault, strong and hardworking, stubborn as hell, so fucking kind that sometimes it gets her hurt.”

Trenten dragging his finger through the condensation pooling on the table top from his glass of beer.

Neither him nor Nicole was very good at talking about their childhood (his sister, his hero he could talk about with no problem). He didn’t have it nearly as bad as she did. Hell, his childhood was perfect compared to hers but she never once told him that he had it better, never once told him to suck it up because she had it worse.

No, Nicole was there for him, pushing down her pain, her feelings to take care of him. Nicole was the best big sister anyone could ask for but he didn’t know how to put that into words, didn’t know how to tell her that.

He never knew how to thank her for everything she did for him growing up, everything she still does for him.

“She had a hard time growing up, had a hard time trying to prove herself to our father,” he stared down at the table top as he talked. “Nicky was, is the kind of person you wished you could be, she is good and kind and caring just because, she never let how fucking shit her life was, is get to her, she never used her childhood as an excuse to be cruel like so many others.”

Trenten looked up at her with a shake of his head and Waverly gave him an almost sad smile. Like she somehow knew what it was like to have a terrible childhood and for all he knew she could have.  

“But that’s not what you wanted right?” It was a rhetorical question, so Waverly didn’t answer. She just waited for him to continue. “You wanted something happy, something funny, maybe even a little embarrassing.”

“Thing is Nicole was never a crazy kid, she didn’t get into trouble very much, she was far too serious sometimes and most people, most kids didn’t understand that.” Trenten grabbed a couple of fries and shoved them into his mouth.  

He really hoped that Nicole would be okay with him sharing these things with Waverly. He knew from conversations with his sister that she adored the woman sitting across from him. So he was pretty confident that she would be.  

But if she wasn’t, he would deal with the backlash because, she needed someone here in this place she was now calling her home to know her, to understand her, someone she could talk to about these things.

He hoped that Waverly could be that person for his sister. He hoped that she could help Nicole let go of all that anger and hurt she still held onto from their childhood.

Nicole never like to talk about it but he knew that she still carried around the things their father did to her, the hurt he caused her.

The things their father did emotionally scarred her in some ways and she needed someone to, not fix her because she wasn’t broken but to help heal those scars.  

“She had to grow up at a young age, she had to see how harsh, how terrible people in this world could be at six years old by our father no less and that made her far too solemn for a kid but she did know how to have fun.” Trent shook his head with a small smile, remembering the countless of times they snuck off to do something fun and incredibly stupid.

“There was this one time when I was about 16 and Nicky was 18 and we decided to steal a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label from our father’s stash and take it to the river not far from our Grandpa’s and get drunk.” Trent took a sip of his beer.

“You guys didn’t, did you?” Waverly asked, leaning towards him to hear him over the sudden roar of noise in the saloon.

Working at Shorty’s since she was 18 gave her extensive knowledge on how expensive a bottle of top shelf scotch could be and Johnnie Walker BL was a couple of hundred dollars easy.

She was sure that they had hell to pay for stealing it. From what she knew of their father, she knew that Nicole got the worst of whatever punishment he gave them and she knew that Nicole would take it without a single complaint just so Trent wouldn’t have to.

There was something about the way Trenten talked about his sister that warmed Waverly’s heart, had her smiling along with him.

It was clear in the way he spoke about her that he adored, admired, appreciated his sister very much and that made Waverly happy.

Nicole deserved to be appreciated, to be admired, adored because Nicole Haught, in Waverly’s opinion, was everything good in this sometimes terrible world. 

She had never met anyone like Nicole Haught. She was everything Trenten describe her to be and so much more.

She was confident but not arrogant, compassionate, patient, selfless and honest. She was the most caring person Waverly had ever met and she made Waverly’s heart soar in her chest with just a simple but beautiful dimpled grin. She made Waverly feel seen and that fondness that Nicole looked at her with made her feel like the most important thing in this world.

Nicole Haught made her feel things that she never felt before and that honestly scares the living hell out of her.

She didn’t plan on having feelings for Nicole and she, Waverly Earp, was a planner. She didn’t want to have feelings for Nicole, for her best friend. She didn’t want her stupid feelings to complicate things, to ruin the best friendship she’s ever had, to ruin the best thing that has ever happened to her.

“We did,” he confirmed with a grin, pulling Waverly from her thoughts. “We sat on the riverbank and between the two of us we drank the whole bottle.”

He was chuckling to himself again and his eyes crinkled in the same way Nicole’s did and Waverly found herself missing the redheaded officer, wishing that she was here with them.

“I don’t know if you know this but when Nicole gets drunk, totally wasted, she sings loudly and so off tune that it’s likely to blow eardrums, and that’s what we did on that riverbank, we sang off tune to no music and we skipped rocks across the water without a care in the world.”

Waverly could almost see it, a younger Nicole, just as breathtaking as she is now, drunk off her ass, singing loudly, happy and carefree even if just for a moment.

She wished she had known Nicole back then, got to grow up with her, gotten to see Nicole grow up into the amazing woman she is now.

Maybe her life would have been different. Maybe then she wouldn’t have to work so hard to be what people wanted her to be, who they wanted her to be. Maybe then she could actually be herself without fear of judgement.

But really, it didn’t matter whether she grew up with Nicole or not because she had Nicole in her life now and she wouldn’t trade that for anything.

“Did you two get caught?” She was almost afraid to ask. She didn’t want to upset him, didn’t want to wipe the happy grin off his face but she knew there was more to the story.

His grin morphed into a grimace and then he downed the rest of his beer.

“Our brother, Mike found us and dragged our asses back home and to our father.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “He was so pissed and he had been drinking as well, I remember him yelling at Nicky like it was all her fault then he turned to me and raised his fist as if he was going to hit me and Nicky, she just snapped.”

Trent wasn’t entirely sure why this was the story of Nicky that he decided tell. There were so many other ones, happier ones he could have told Waverly but none of them captured who Nicole was as a person quite like this one.

Their father wasn’t an abusive man, at least not physically. Emotionally abusive, yes, he knew how to tear his children (mainly just Nicole), down with a few choice words but he never raised a hand to even of them not even Nicole.

Times when their father was tearing into him, cutting him down and just making him feel small and worthless, Nicole would step in, turn their father’s anger on her somehow to save him, to protect him.

So, it shouldn’t have been surprising that when their father raised his hand to strike Trenten that Nicole reacted instantly, that she put herself in harm's way for him.

“She tackled him to the ground, took his 6’2 frame down in a matter of seconds,” he gave a breathy laugh before his face turned grim once more. “It all happened so fast after that you know? One second she was on top of him, hitting him and screaming at him to never try to lay a hand on me again and the next, he was shoving her off of him, sending her stumbling backwards and into the coffee table.”

He brushed two of his fingers along his cheek then tapped the spot just under his eye twice. “Her cheek caught the edge of the table, gave her a nice gash that was bleeding somethin’ awful but she came up fighting.”

“That’s how she got the scar?” Waverly asked.

“You noticed her scar?” He questioned with a raised eyebrow. “It’s so faint now that most people don’t notice it.”

“I guess I pay more attention to detail than most,” Waverly shrugged, looking down at the table and fighting off a blush at his knowing smirk.

Truth be told, she noticed everything about Nicole Haught. Everything .

She noticed every single little detail, no matter how insignificant, about Nicole and it had nothing to do with her attention to detail and everything to do with the woman herself.

Nicole captured her attention in a way that no one else has. In a way that only old books and Purgatory’s history has. In a way that consumed her and her every thought.

When she lifted her head back up, she caught sight of Nicole making her way over, stetson perched perfectly on her head, her uniform unbuttoned and hanging open revealing her black muscle shirt underneath, the widest smile Waverly had ever seen gracing her features. 


“You better not be telling her any embarrassing stories,” Nicole wrapped her arms around Trenten from behind, resting her chin on his shoulder, that smile still just as big and Waverly couldn’t help but to smile at the look of pure joy on Nicole’s face.

“Oh you know, just the one about you skinnydipping in the middle of winter on a dare.” He grinned then swatted at her hands when she ruffled his hair.

“Which time?” She winked at Waverly as Trenten stood to give his sister a hug.

Nicole wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into a bear hug. “I missed you.”

Waverly watched the siblings with a fond smile on her face. She was happy that Nicole got to see her brother, it was clear in the way she clinged to him that she missed him dearly but, she was also jealous.

Jealous that she didn’t have that type of relationship with Wynonna. Jealous that Nicole got to see her brother when she hasn’t seen Wynonna in three years. Jealous that Wynonna didn’t visit just because. Jealous that Wynonna didn’t even call to check up on her from time to time.

She pushed her jealousy down as she stood up from the table. She needed to get back to work, her break at ended a while ago. Thankfully Shorty had let her wait with Trent until Nicole showed up.

“I’ll get you two some beers and come back to take your orders.”

“Just make it two of the usual.” Nicole grabbed her hand as she walked past, stopping her and giving her a dimpled smile. “Thank you for sitting with him.”

“Course.”

Nicole watched her go with a sigh, her smiling never faltering.

“You got it bad Nicky,” Trent commented as he sat back down, his tone almost pitying.

Nicole took Waverly’s abandoned seat, giving her full view of the table.

To keep an eye on Waverly, make sure nobody tried anything with her. Least that’s what she told herself. Definitely wasn’t because she loved looking at the beauty that was Waverly Earp.

“I know,” she groaned, dropping her head onto the table.

She was well aware of how bad she had it for Waverly and how truly fucked she was. Waverly had Champ and she loved him.

Knowing that Waverly loved Champ was like a dull rusted knife to the heart, that was twisted every time she saw the two together.

“Isn’t it like some kind of lesbian rule not to fall in love with straight girls?” He asked, tone teasing and she didn’t even have to look up at him to know that he was wearing that stupid crooked grin of his.

“Yeah, ‘cept none of us actually follow that rule.”

There were times when she wasn’t sure that Waverly was totally straight. Like when she’d catch her staring at her lips and biting her own. Or when Waverly allowed their touches or hugs to linger longer than what was considered friendly.

They were little things, really they were but they had sparked hope in Nicole but now? Now that she knew that Waverly really did love Champ, well those little things just caused her pain.

“Rules are meant to be broken right?” Trent reached over and gave her shoulder a playful shove. “You’re not going to go down without a fight are you?”

“What’s there to fight? She has a boyfriend, whom she loves.”

Trent stared at his sister in disbelief. The Nicole he knew, the one he grew up with, the one who protected him from their father, that Nicole would never give up so easily. That Nicole would fight for the things she wanted, that Nicole didn’t wait when she saw something she liked or, in this case loved.

“Papa didn’t raise you to give up,” his tone was lined with disappointment, causing Nicole to look up at him.

“Papa raise me to respect other people’s relationships, not to be a homewrecker.”

Waverly walked over, keeping Trent from arguing with his sister any farther and carrying two beers. “Shorty said this round is on the house, something about giving someone a long overdue talk?”

Her face was pinched in confusion as she set the beers down on the table and Nicole couldn’t help but to stare. It was adorable, Waverly was adorable.

“Do you know what he’s talking about?” Waverly asked as Nicole picked up her beer and Trent studied the two’s interaction.

They gravitated toward one another and Trent was sure that neither of them realized it. Both of them leaned towards one another and the hand not on Waverly’s hip, was plated on the table close enough to Nicole’s to touch. And their hands did touch, just their pinkies at first, grinning at each other in a way that didn’t fool anyone.

Waverly Earp liked his sister. It was clear in the way she smiled at Nicole, looked at Nicole. The only thing standing in their way was a boyfriend and well, that really didn’t see like much of a problem in Trent’s mind.

He would never condone cheating and he knew his sister would never cheat on or cheat with someone, not when she knows what it feels like when to have the person you love betray your trust like that. But all’s fair in love and war right?

“No idea,” Nicole grinned, allowing Waverly to intertwine their pinkies.  

Waverly narrowed her eyes at the officer but still smiled and leaned in closer. “I’m watching you Haught.”

“Which one?” Trent asked, drawing their attention to him. He was worried they’d start making out at some point if they kept staring at each other with what he would describe as heart eyes.

“Obviously the better looking one,” Nicole winked at him.

“So me?” He smirked.

“Waverly! Get back to work!” Shorty hollered from behind the bar.

Waverly sighed and gave the siblings one last smile before getting back to work.

“I think she likes you,” Trent turned to Nicole, who was once again staring after Waverly. “Who gives a shit if she has a boyfriend?”

“I do, she loves him.”

“Does she smile at him the way she smiles at you? Does she forget that she’s working when she’s talking to him?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she insisted, grabbing her glass of beer and downing it quickly.

Waverly loved Champ. Waverly was semi happy with Champ and she wasn’t ready to let him go, to leave him, be without him. And yes it killed Nicole that she couldn’t be with Waverly and she couldn’t be the one that made her happy but Waverly was content with where she was now, who she was with and Nicole would accept that. 

“You’re scared,” Trent shook his head. He couldn’t believe that it took him this long to figure it out. “You’re scared of putting yourself out there, you’re scared of letting someone else in and getting hurt again, I never took you for a coward Nicky.”

Nicole had been called many, many things in her twenty-four years of life but never a coward. Maybe she was a coward. Maybe she was afraid of completely opening herself up to Waverly and having her heart broken again.

She barely survived the last time, she wouldn’t survive this time. She wouldn’t live through having her heart broken by sweet innocent Waverly Earp.

“We’re done talking about this.” Nicole pushed her chair away from the table and grabbed her empty beer glass. “Want another?”

“You can’t just run away from this Nicky!” Trent called after her but she ignored him and headed to the bar, watching as Waverly walked by with their food.

“Can I get two more beers and two shots whiskey?” She asked taking a seat at the bar. “Actually make it four.”

If Trent was going to continue with the whole Waverly thing then she was definitely going to need to be well on her way to drunk. She knew he was just trying to help and she loved him for it but, she also knew that Waverly wasn’t going to leave Champ, so really what was the point?

Shorty raised a bushy blonde eyebrow at her but set about filling her order nonetheless.

“She’s happier than she’s been in a long time,” Shorty nodded towards Waverly, who was laughing at something Trent had said.

Nicole looked over at them then back to the bar. “He tends to have that effect on people.”

“It has nothing to do with him and everything to do with what you did, what you said to Champ.”

She grunted and grabbed for one of the shots, downing it quickly, wincing as it burned it’s way down her throat.

“He was a completely different person today, brought her flowers and actually apologized,” Shorty poured her another shot. “I know it was hard for you to tell a guy you despise to treat the woman you love better before he loses her.”

“Doesn’t matter how I feel, as long as Waverly’s happy.” Nicole brought the shot glass to her lips but didn’t drink it just yet.

“Some day you’re gonna have to put yourself and your happiness first Haught.”

“Some day,” Nicole agreed, downing the shot, barely wincing as it slid down her throat.


 

 

Three hours, 5 shots and an unknown amount of beer later, the Haught siblings were at the bar, singing off key to the song playing from the jukebox as Shorty and Waverly looked on in amusement.

“ 'Cause I've got friends in low places, where the whiskey drowns,” The siblings down their shots quickly, hitting their beer glasses together and sloshing beer all over the bar top but kept on singing. “And the beer chases my blues away, and I'll be okay.”

“Should we cut them off?” Waverly asked looking over at Shorty, who was shaking his head at the Haughts with a small smile.

“Nah, we’re still open for awhile.” He handed Nicole a rag to clean up the spilled beer. She may be a paying customer but she was damn well gonna clean up after herself. “Best to let them have their fun.”

“Sorry,” Nicole gave him a sheepish grin as she started wiping the spilled beer up.

“We should play darts!” Trent announced, sliding off the bar stool and onto shaky legs. He hadn’t been this drunk in a long time, probably not since that bottle of Johnnie Walker.

“No, no, no,” Waverly leaned over the bar and grabbed Trent’s arm, stopping him. “You two are way too drunk to play darts safely.”

“Fine, we’ll play pool instead,” He nodded his head to the pool tables, where Champ and Pete were playing a round. “Wanna hustle some idiots?”

The older Haught’s face lit up like a kid on christmas morning, staring at all the presents under the tree, her brown eyes sparkled with mischief and Waverly marveled at how breathtaking Nicole looked in that moment.

“Definitely.” Her accent had grown thicker with every drink she downed and every word she spoke in that thick drawl did things to Waverly.

Waverly watched the two redheads stumble their way across the saloon and towards the pool table with a shake of her head. Those two were sure to cause trouble with Champ but she didn’t have to heart to stop them, to rid Nicole of that excitement, that joy in her eyes.

She’s never seen Nicole like this, so happy, so carefree, so drunk and relaxed and just having a good time without having to worry about taking care of anyone else. It was nice to see and Nicole definitely deserved it.

Waverly set about cleaning up after the siblings and serving the few patrons still here while keeping an eye on the pool table.

It wasn’t long before Nicole came back over, slapping a twenty on the bar with a smirk. “A round on the boy-man.”

“You that good at pool?” Waverly asked, grabbing two clean glasses and filling them one at a time with Nicole’s favorite beer. “Or do Champ and Pete just suck?”

Waverly knew that Champ and Pete weren’t the best pool players around even though they spent most of their nights playing the game.

Nicole leaned across the bar, so close to her that Waverly could feel the heat from her body.

“Oh baby, I’m just that good,” Nicole husked with a wink and stood back up.

Waverly just stared at her, biting her bottom lip and trying so hard not to look at Nicole’s lips, not to follow Nicole’s tongue as it ran across her bottom lip. Of course she failed and Nicole smirked at her causing her cheeks to turn a bright red and look away quickly.

“You can stare, I don’t mind.” Nicole winked again, picking up the beers and heading back to the pool table, hips swaying in those tight uniform pants seductively. “Thanks Earp.”

Waverly groaned and scrubbed the already clean bar, trying to ignore the heat in her cheeks and the fluttering in her heart. Trying to ignore the need, the want to walk over there and grab Nicole and kiss the hell out of her, Champ be damned.

She wanted to kiss Nicole more than she had ever wanted to kiss anyone and dammit, it was fucking terrify and made her feel so damn guilty. She had Champ and she was content being with him but she was starting to think just being content with someone wasn’t enough.

And what the hell did wanting to kiss Nicole make her? Bi? Gay? Curious? Had she ever found other women attractive before? Or was it just Nicole?

She couldn’t remember ever looking at another woman and thinking of kissing one, touching one, being with one.

So maybe it was just Nicole but why did it have to be her? Why did it have to be the best friend she has ever had?  Why couldn’t she have these feelings for someone else? Why did she have to have these feelings at all?

Why couldn’t being with Champ be enough? Why did she have to want someone other than him? And why the hell didn’t she have any answers for all these questions?

“You okay there kiddo?” Shorty asked laying a hand on her shoulder, startling her from her thoughts and all those unanswered questions.

She looked up at him with a small smile, hoping he didn’t see the truth burning in her eyes. There was no way she could talk to someone else about these thoughts, these feelings for Nicole. “I’m good.”

“I’ve known you you’re whole life Waverly,” he reminded her. “I know when something’s troubling you.”  

She didn’t say anything, she didn’t even know what to say. She just turned her attention to the pool table, to Nicole.

“This have anything to do with your fight with Champ yesterday?” He asked, though he was sure that whatever was troubling his bartender had nothing to do with that boy and everything to do with the redheaded officer bending over the pool table and lining up a shot.

“No, things are fine between us now.”

“I reckon that has everything to do with that talk Haught gave him this morning,” he mused, gauging her reaction. “Put the fear of God in him.”

She snapped her head around to look at him, surprising shining in her eyes. “She did?”

Really she shouldn’t be surprised that Champ had only apologized because Nicole had talked to him on her behalf. His apology was too perfect and nothing like the ones that had come before it. She wondered what Nicole had said to him.

“Seems she’s pretty protective of the people she cares about.”

“She didn’t say anything,” she whispered, not really talking to him. She had already turned back around to watch Nicole.

How was someone like Nicole Haught real? How did Waverly deserve a friend like her? And why were these stupid feelings threatening to ruin things?

“Guess she just wanted you to believe the best in Champ.” He patted her shoulder affectionately. “Guess she just wanted you to be happy.”

“Shorty? What do you do when your feelings threaten to ruin a something good?” She gazed up at him with eyes filled with terror and it hurt him to see her like this.

She was like the daughter he never had. He had helped Gus and Curtis raise her the best he could and he tried to give her as much love and support as he could. Seeing her so uncertain, so scared made his heart ache for her, made him feel like he had failed her somehow.

He was a bar owner, he spent most of his life listening to people’s problems and giving them his two cents, his advice. He was good at it and liked to think that’s what a lot of people came back to his bar for (though he knew it was because his was the only bar in Purgatory), but right now? He had no earthly idea on what he should say to the youngest Earp.

“Well sweetheart,” he began but then stopped, licking his lips and looking away from Waverly and towards the pool table.

Nicole was watching them, leaning on her pool stick, face twisted with worry, raising an eyebrow, silently asking if she was needed. Even when she was drunk and supposed to be spending time with her brother, she still watched out for Waverly. Still made her sure she was okay, still ready to care for her at a moment's notice, still protective over Waverly.

And Champ? Well Champ was playing pool oblivious to the fact that there was something wrong with, something troubling his girlfriend.

It was clear who really cared for Waverly, really loved her. And this was Shorty’s chance to push Waverly in the right direction, towards the person who was better for her, who deserved her, who really truly loved her for who she was and not who she pretended to be.

“You follow your heart and you hope for the best.” He turned his attention back to Waverly, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders. “You have a good heart Waverly, it won’t steer you wrong.”

“I’m scared.” She spoke the words so softly that he barely heard them but the fear in her eyes told him all he needed to know.

“That’s how you know it’s real.”

She latched onto the man that had been like a second father to her, coming right after her Uncle Curtis. Those two have been more of a father to her than Ward Earp ever was. And without them and Gus, she probably would have ended up just like Wynonna, lost and drifting from place to place, running from her past.

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered as they pulled apart.

“Anytime kiddo.” He kissed her on the forehead and went back to cleaning up after the last few patrons that had just left.

Nicole made her way back over to the bar on unsteady legs, with a drunken grin gracing her features. She leaned against the bar and locked eyes with Waverly. “Come here often?”

“That your best line?” Waverly asked rolling her eyes and fidgeting with the clean glasses under the bar. “Because if it is, I’m disappointed Haught.”

She tried to keep her eyes off Nicole’s biceps. Nicole had lost her uniform shirt sometime during the game of pool.

“Oh trust me Earp,” the redhead’s grin was cocky but not arrogant. “When I’m really hitting on you, you’ll know it.”

Waverly ducked her head, trying to hide her smile and the slight blush on her cheeks. She couldn’t wait to see what Nicole actually hitting on her way like. She would probably end up a blushing, stuttering mess, more so than usual when she was around young officer.

“Anyways,” Nicole cleared her throat, bringing Waverly’s eyes back to her. “Can I get another round?”

“Nope,” Waverly said in a tone that left no room for argument. “You two have had enough.”

“Come on baby, just one more drink.”

Waverly’s heart beat faster in her chest, the way it did every time Nicole used some kind of term of endearment on her. She had been called baby many times by Champ but it never sent her heart racing, never made her feel as cared for as when Nicole call her baby.

“You think you’re the first person to try and sweet talk me for another drink?” Waverly asked, folding her arms across her chest. It was almost a nightly occurrence, one that never worked for anyone.

“Of course not, but I know I am the most charming person to sweet talk you.”

And she was. Nicole was the most charming person that Waverly had ever met but she wasn’t about to tell Nicole that. Or anyone for that matter.

“Think so?”

They leaned towards one another, almost as if they were unaware they were doing it at all, as if there was some invisible force pushing them together slowly, oh so slowly.

“I know so baby.” She was grinning again dimples and all and Waverly just wanted to run her finger across Nicole’s bottom lip before kissing those plump sinful lips.

“Ahem,” Trent cleared his throat, causing the two to jump apart both blushing a bright shade of red. “Sorry to interrupted but I’ve been on the road for three day and I really need some sleep.”

“Drive em’ home Earp,” Shorty called from the other end of the bar.

“You don’t have to,” Nicole protested. She usually wouldn’t pass up a chance to spend more time with Waverly but she didn’t want to put her out. “We can manage.”

“I don’t care if you can manage Haught, Waverly is taking you two home.”

“Yes Sir,” Nicole gave him a mock salute and toothy grin.


 

Once they made it to Nicole’s apartment, Waverly help the siblings up the steps one at a time and into the house.

Trenten fell face first on the couch, mumbling a thank you as Waverly pulled his boots off then found a blanket in the hall closet to throw over him.

Nicole was in the kitchen sitting down at the table, downing a glass of water and trying to untie her work boots with one hand but managed to just tighten the knot.

“Here, let me help,” Waverly said after watching Nicole struggle for a few moments.

Nicole had been taking care of her since the moment they met and it was about time that Waverly returned the favor.

“Thanks,” Nicole mumbled, giving her a lazy smile that fell as soon as Waverly kneeled down in front of her, looking up at her with wide eyes. She gulped and averted her gaze. She shouldn’t be turned on by Waverly helping her drunk ass take off her boots but she was.

There was just something in Waverly’s eyes that made her center throb dully. That had her wanting to say screw Champ and pull Waverly up and kiss her until neither of them could breath.

“You okay there Haught?” Waverly asked as she pulled off one of Nicole’s boots then moved to untie the other.

“I’m great,” she squeaked out, looking anywhere but at the girl at her feet.

“If you say so.” Waverly pulled the other boot off then stood, holding her hand out for the redhead. “Let’s get you in bed.”  

Waverly led the slightly stumbling Nicole down the dark hallway to her bedroom. Feelings for the light switch on the wall, flipping it on as Nicole moved past her towards her bed, falling face first much like Trent had.

“Come on Nicole, you can’t sleep in your uniform pants,” Waverly insisted as she went to Nicole’s dresser and pulled out a pair of basketball shorts.

She threw them on the bed next to Nicole and turned around. “Get changed.”

After a few grunts and shuffling around, Nicole managed to get her pants off and slip the basketball shorts up her legs and over her hips. “Okay.”

Waverly turned the bedside lamp on then turned the overhead light off after she hung Nicole’s pants up.

Nicole laid on top of the made bed, propped up on her elbow and just watching Waverly move around her room.

Waverly was beautiful. Her make-up from the day a long since faded, her usually perfect fishtail braid was coming undone and tiny hairs were sticking to her forehead, the bags under her eyes were bigger than usual but she was still breathtaking to Nicole, just like this.

The youngest Earp came over to the side of the bed, helping Nicole under the blanket and brushing red hair behind her ear. She allowed her fingers to linger, moving them along Nicole’s jaw in what she hoped was a soothing manner.

“Good night Nicole,” she whispered and then pressed a kiss to her forehead, unable to stop herself.

Waverly tucked the blanket around Nicole then reached over to turn the lamp sitting on the nightstand off when Nicole grabbed her arm and propped herself up just a bit.

“You’re beautiful,” Nicole blinked in surprise at her as if that wasn’t what she meant to say.

“And you are drunk, now get some sleep.” Waverly pushed Nicole back down onto the mattress, ignoring the heat she felt creeping up her cheeks.

“I mean it,” Nicole protested, pushing herself up once more and pressing their forehead together which resulted in her hitting Waverly’s forehead with more force than she meant to. “Sorry.”

Waverly could feel Nicole’s breath on her lips, smell the alcohol she had consumed earlier in the night. Her brown eyes were glossed over yet, Waverly still thought they looked just as beautiful as always.

She felt Nicole’s fingers on the nape of her neck, watched as Nicole’s eyes drifted down to her lips then back up. She wanted Nicole to kiss her, to close the small gap between them and press their lips together.

“Waverly Earp, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on and you deserve so much better than that asshole,” Nicole’s eyes were wide and sincere. “You deserve to be happy and you deserve not to have to push the real you deep inside.”

Nicole brushed her nose against Waverly’s, humming in contentment. Being this close to Waverly felt right. Having her fingers tangled in Waverly’s hair and the feel of Waverly’s breath on her lips made her fill whole, like she was home, like she was where she belonged.

The only time in her life that she felt like she belonged somewhere was when she was with Waverly Earp.

“You deserve everything good in this world Wave, and I am in,” Nicole let out a sigh and closed her eyes.

“You’re what?” Waverly asked, voice trembling, causing Nicole to pull back just a bit and open her eyes.

Waverly stared at her with confused, scared eyes and Nicole knew she couldn’t say those words. She knew she couldn’t put that pressure on Waverly, not when she was with Champ, not when her hands were trembling almost as bad as her voice had, not when it was so clear that she was terrified of the words about to leave Nicole’s mouth.

So instead of telling Waverly that she was in love with her, that if she was given the chance she would treat her so much better than Champ ever could and that she would spend the rest of her life making her happy and supporting everything she did and loving her like she deserved.

Instead of all that, Nicole just whispered, “And I am incredibly drunk and you should probably forget everything I just said.”

Chapter Text

When Nicole woke the next morning it was to the sounds of someone vomiting in the bathroom across the hall with the door wide open and a headache threatening to split her head in two.

With a groan she rolled over, reaching for the bottle of aspirin she kept on the nightstand for moments such as this. It wasn’t often that she got totally wasted like she did last night but she was always prepared.

She sat up with another groan, dropping the bottle beside her and grabbing her head, squeezing her eyes closed tightly. Okay, sitting up for fast wasn’t the best idea in the world, everything was spinning and she felt like she may puke at any second.

“I’m never drinking again,” she mumbled, even though she was well aware that it was a lie. She would probably be drunk at least one more time before Trent left, whenever that was.

Nicole usually wasn’t much of a drinker. Okay, she drank but hardly ever to the point where she was wasted. She liked to keep a clear head. She liked to be in control of her actions, of the words leaving her mouth. She liked to be able to remember the night before.

Taking a couple of deep breaths to ease the need to vomit, she opened her eyes and picked up the bottle, untwisted the top and shook out two pills into her hand.

She grabbed the glass of water on the nightstand and down the aspirin quickly.

“Nicky,” Trent groaned from the bedroom door, leaning heavily on the frame, red hair disheveled and sticking up in every direction. “I need food, greasy, bad for you but incredibly delicious food.”

Greasy fries and even greasier hamburgers with chocolate milkshakes were a tradition after a night of drinking for them.

“Oooooh God, that’s sounds so good right now.”

Trent grunted in agreement and fell onto the bed with a sigh, jolting Nicole a bit.

“We should shower first,” Nicole commented, wrinkling her nose in disgust at the smell of booze coming off her brother.

Trent lifted his arm and sniffed his armpit. “Yup, showering is a good idea.”

Nicole curled her lip up in disgust. “You’re gross.”

“Know what’s really gross?” Trent asked, sitting up and grinning evilly at his sister.

Nicole pointed a finger at him. “Don’t do it.”

Trent’s grin widened as he advanced on his sister, arm raised with the intent to shove his armpit in her face.

Nicole scrambled backwards on the bed, trying to get away from Trent and his rancid underarm.

This game was nothing new to the siblings, it was almost a tradition in itself. Something they had done since they were little kids. Trenten always tried his best to gross his older sister out, not that it ever really worked. Nicole had a pretty strong stomach (you had to have one if you were going to be a cop) but the one thing she couldn’t handle was BO.

Nicole continued to scrambled backwards as Trent moved in closer, that stupid crooked, dimpled grin of his firmly in place.

“I swear to God Trent, if you get any closer I’m going to kick you off this bed,” Nicole warned.

She could easily take him down. She was stronger, faster, more skilled in fighting and in take downs but she didn’t want to hurt him.

Trent didn’t have all the training that she had but he knew how to fight dirty and he knew all of Nicole’s weaknesses.

Trent continued to move forward, ignoring his sister’s warning, causing Nicole to scrambled farther backwards in an attempt to get away from him but, she was closer to the edge than she realized and when she went to plant her hand on the bed, she met only air and ungracefully fell off the bed and onto her ass with a grunt of pain.

“Asshole,” she mumbled, sprawled out on her bedroom floor with Trenten laughing at her from his perch on the bed.

“That wasn’t my fault.”

“Are you kidding me?” Nicole exclaimed, making no move to get up from the floor as her brother spread out on the bed. “If you hadn’t been trying to shove your nasty ass armpit in my face this,” she motioned around her with her right hand. “Wouldn’t have happened.”

“If you weren’t such a clutz, that,” he motioned in the same way that Nicole had. “Wouldn’t have happened.”

“Fuck off asshat.” Nicole flicked him off then stood up, making her way across the room to her dresser.

“Are you gonna go shower or just lay around all day?” Nicole asked over her shoulder.

“I have a question first.”

Nicole sighed. Whatever her brother wanted to ask her was probably something she didn't want to answer.

He always had a habit of asking the hard questions. Asking about things Nicole rather not talk about, let alone think about.

She knew he only asked about those types of things because he cared, because he wanted to be there for her when so many others in their family was not.

He did it out of love and while Nicole appreciated it and his efforts to no end, she wished he wouldn't bring up somethings.

“You ever think about moving back home?” He asked quietly as if he wasn't sure he wanted her to answer.

Trent missed his sister. He missed having her around, being able to see and speak with her everyday. He missed getting together at least once a week for lunch or dinner. He missed his best friend, the person that practically raised him.

And he knew it was selfish to want her to come back to a town that was never kind to her, to a family that was downright hateful to her at times but, dammit he fucking missed her and hated being so far from her.

Nicole sighed again and took a seat on the bed next to her brother, who was now sitting on the edge of the bed.

She laid her head on his shoulder and grabbed his hand, intertwining their fingers together in a way they've done a thousand times.

They were best friends growing up, they still are but the distance between them these last four years has put a strain on their relationship.

“This is my home now Trent,” she spoke just as softly as he had. “You and Grandpa are my only ties in that town, I'll come visit but I'll never move back there.”

And it was true. If Trent and her Grandpa weren't in that town, she'd never go back, she'd never even think about stepping foot in that hellhole again.

Sure she had friends there, one of her best friends still lived and owned a bar there (though they haven't talked much in the four years she's been gone), but it wasn't enough to draw her back to a place that held more bad memories than good.

“I know, I just,” he trailed off, looking forward. It wasn't fair for him to ask her about coming home to a place that never really felt like home to her, not when she stayed as long as she did for him.

She would have left the second she graduated but she stay for him, until he graduated, until he got a job and a place to live. She stayed when she didn't have to and he would be forever grateful for it.

“I miss you Nicky, Grandpa misses you.”

“I miss y'all too but I can't move back there, I can't live in the same small town as that man .” She sighed heavily, her shoulders hunched as if this conversation weighed heavily on her. “Besides I've made a life here, I have a job I love and I hav-”

“Waverly?” He interrupted, side eyeing her.

“Trent,” she warned. She really didn't want to talk about Waverly or her feelings for Waverly.

“Fine, fine, you don't want to talk about it then we won't but,” He got up and kneeled in front of Nicole, making her meet his eyes. “If you ever want to talk about it or need to talk about it, I'm here, I'm always here for you Nicky.”

He stared up at her with honest brown eyes that were so like her own, swirling with specks of gold and, she felt beyond lucky to have him.

She grasped the hand on her knee and held onto it tightly. “I know.”


 

 

Waverly and Chrissy were sat at a booth in the back of the diner, sipping on their coffees while they waited for their breakfast and caught each other up on what had been going on in their lives lately.

Waverly had invited Chrissy for breakfast in hopes of having enough courage to talk to someone would these sudden question she had about her relationship with Champ and maybe even the feelings she has for Nicole, if she's brazen enough.

“Alright, I know you didn't invite me here for small talk,” Chrissy set her coffee down, giving Waverly her full attention. “So what's been bugging you?”

Chrissy wasn't oblivious. She may not hangout with Waverly all that much anymore (something she felt horrible about), but she knew when something was wrong with her friend. She knew how to read the emotions shining in those eyes.

Waverly was silent for a few seconds, she just stared into her coffee cup as she ran her finger around the rim of the cup.

“Is this about Champ or Nicole?” Chrissy asked, gazing at Waverly with a knowing look.

It was pretty obvious from girl's night that Waverly had some kind of feelings for the young officer. And officer Haught had made no attempt to hide her feelings for Waverly that night.

“Nicole?” Waverly startled brown eyes bored into Chrissy’s. “Why would this have anything to do with Nicole?”

The blonde rolled her eyes and picked up her coffee, taking a small sip of it before setting it back down.

Waverly could play dumb with everyone else, even herself but Chrissy saw through the act. She had always been able to see through Waverly’s act, she put on the same one herself. It was easy to spot in another person.

“Come on Waves, I'm not an idiot, I saw the way you looked at her, you like her.”

“I do not!” Waverly nearly shouted then clamped her hand over her mouth, eyes bugged out.

Chrissy raised an eyebrow at her in question. “Yeah, that totally convinced me that you don't like her but, I’ll drop it for now.”

She wasn’t going to push Waverly into talking about her feelings for Nicole, whatever they may be, until she was ready. Obviously Waverly wasn’t ready to talk about them and maybe she didn’t know exactly what it was she felt for Nicole but, Chrissy hoped that she’d be able to help her figure it out.

Waverly deserved so much better, so much more than Champ freakin’ Hardy and Chrissy hoped that she was finally starting to see that. And Nicole was better. Even from only being around her for a few hours, Chrissy could tell that she was a hundred times better than Champ.

Her father spoke very highly of Nicole Haught and that was all she needed to hear to know that Nicole was worth Waverly’s time, worth her affection. Her father didn’t speak highly of many people and the few he did, well you couldn’t meet better people than them.

Waverly looked relieved. The worry that had been clouding those deep brown eyes were gone and replaced with gratitude.

“You ever just feel like the thing that drew you to someone is gone and you may never get it back?” Waverly asked, voice low as a waitress walked passed the booth they were sat at, her eyes firming on the table.

“I’m assuming this is about Champ?”

Waverly nodded but didn’t look up. She wasn’t sure how to put what she was thinking into words. She wasn’t sure how to explain to Chrissy that the contentment she felt with Champ wasn’t there anymore, that the comfort she once found in his embrace was gone, that the pride she used to feel being his girl had worn off around the time she had met one Nicole Haught.

How did she explain that she felt suffocated around him now. That when she lied in bed with him at night with his hard, sweaty body pressed into hers she wished that it was someone else, someone softer, who smelled of cinnamon, leather and gunpowder instead of stale beer and BO.

How did she explain that the night she spent in Nicole’s bed, sleeping next to Nicole and waking up cuddled into her was the best nights sleep she’s had in a long time.

How did she explain that when Nicole told her she deserved better than Champ, she was actually starting to believe it but never once believed it when Gus or, Curtis, or Shorty told her.

How did she explain that she used to feel like she owed Champ something for always being there for her when everyone else left her, that she owed him for helping change people’s opinions of her.

How did she, Waverly Earp who knew several languages, who knew every piece of history associated with Wyatt Earp, the people he killed and Purgatory, who usually had such a way with words explain any of that?

“Things are different,” Waverly started then stopped. She wasn’t at all sure where she was going with this.

“With Champ?” Chrissy prodded. She couldn’t help Waverly if Waverly didn’t give her a little more to go on.

Waverly nodded her head yes.

“Different how?”

“I don’t know,” Waverly sighed, placing her head in her hands. She had so many thoughts, so many questions running through her mind that she didn’t know where to start. She wasn’t even sure if any of them would make any sense.

“I used to feel content being with him, I used to feel like that level of comfort that I felt with him was enough you know? I used to tell myself that I could be happy spending the rest of my life with him but now? I just don’t know.”

“This have anything to do with a certain redhead in uniform?”

Chrissy knew that before Nicole Haught had come to town, had entered Waverly’s life that Waverly hadn’t been questioning her relationship with Champ, that Waverly was perfectly okay with how things were with him.

She also knew that Waverly probably would have never question that contentment she felt with Champ if someone wouldn’t have come along and made her feel something real, made her feel seen.

“No, maybe, I don’t know,” Waverly mumbled in a way that was so unlike her and had Chrissy slightly worried for the woman sitting across from her.

“What do you know?”

“I know that Nicole makes me feel like I can be myself, she makes me feel like I don’t have to hide who I am, who I really am and, she makes me feel like being an Earp isn’t a bad thing.”

Chrissy was well aware of the fact that she, nor anyone else knew who Waverly really was deep down, sure they got glimpses of the real Waverly from time to time but that was it. No one knew who the real Waverly was and most didn’t even try to look past the front she put up.

If someone, if Nicole could make Waverly feel like she didn’t need to hide who she was then Chrissy wholeheartedly believe that Waverly should be with that person, be with Nicole but she wasn’t sure if it was the right time to tell Waverly that.

Waverly’s eyes held so much fear and Chrissy knew that fear stemmed from being abandoned time and time again. She knew that Waverly feared that if she told Nicole these things that Nicole might react badly and leave her like everyone else, even though Chrissy knew that Nicole felt the same.

She wasn’t sure how to reassure Waverly without giving away Nicole’s feelings for her. She was at an impasse and she didn’t know what to do.


 

 

“Hurry the hell up Trent!” Nicole called from her spot by the front door, where she was shoving her wallet into her back pocket. “I’m starving.”

She had never met anyone that took longer than her brother to get ready. Hell, he took longer than she did to get ready.

“Hey, you can’t rush perfection,” Trent smirked as he made his way to where his sister was standing, running his fingers through his still slightly damp hair.

Nicole rolled her eyes and leaned against the wall by the door. “Hurry up and put your shoes on or I’m leaving without you.”

Trent shook his head with a smile as he slipped on his right boot and quickly tied it. “You’re angry when you’re hungry, you know that?”

“I’m well aware.” She looked down at the thick leather watch on her left wrist, tapping her booted foot on the dark hardwood floor. “I’m leaving in two minutes.”

She usually wasn’t this impatient, especially not with Trenten but her head was still pounding, her stomach twisted with nausea and her back and shoulders ached something fierce from being hunched over a desk most of the day yesterday.

She just wanted to get something to eat then possibly come home, flop on her couch and watch horrible daytime television with Trent on her rare day off but he was being slower than molasses and it was eating away at what little patience she had this morning.

“All done,” Trent grinned, smoothing his hands down his t-shirt to rid it of any wrinkles that had settled in while he was bent over.

“Finally,” Nicole sighed, unlocking the front door and motioning for Trent to go through first.

Once they were both outside, Nicole locked the door, slipping her keys into her pocket and leading the way down the steps.

“So where are we going?” Trent asked as they made their way down the sidewalk towards main street.

Nicole’s apartment was just off of the main street that ran through Purgatory, far enough from Shorty’s not to hear the rowdy crowds leave at night but close enough to walk wherever she needed.

It was one of the things Nicole enjoyed about small towns, being able to walk almost everywhere she needed to go. She preferred walking to driving and maybe that was just the athlete in her or, maybe it was it reminded her of walking places with her grandparents when she was younger.

“To the best burger joint in town.”

“Shorty’s is open at 10:30?” Trent questioned. Nicole had gushed about Shorty's burgers during the times they spoke on the phone (though they didn’t compare to Shorty’s turkey bacon sandwiches).

“Okay, second best burger joint in town.” Nicole smiled, throwing her arm around her brother’s shoulder and leaning into him. “How long are you staying in town for?”

Trent gave an awkward shrug under the weight of the arm around his shoulders. He hadn’t given much thought to how long he would be staying in Purgatory, crashing on his sister’s couch.

Course he had work to get back to and someone had to be there to help their Grandpa take care of the ranch but he didn’t want to leave Nicole, he didn’t want to be without his best friend again.

“I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet.”

“Well, you know you’re welcome to stay with me as long as you like.” She ruffled his still damp hair like she used to do when he was little, knowing full well that he hated it.

“Stop,” he groaned, pushing her away from his and slapping at her hand then quickly raking his fingers through his hair to fix it. “You can’t just mess up a man’s hair like that.”

Nicole was reaching for him again, ready to pull him into a headlock and mess up his hair once more when someone up the street called out to her.

“Haught!”

Nicole recognize the voice instant and couldn't help the smile that took over her face as her and Trent neared the blonde standing outside the cafe grinning at the pair.

“Hey Amy,” Nicole greeted the other woman when they stopped in front of her. She leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to Amy’s cheek causing the blonde’s smile to widen.

“I felt like I haven’t seen you in forever,” Amy wrapped her arms around Nicole’s neck and pulled her closer until their bodies were pressed together and their lips met in a heated kiss.

Trent rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly as he tried to look anywhere else but at his sister making out with some random girl in the middle of the sidewalk.

He had no problem with PDA. To each his own right? But he did have a problem with watching his older sister, the person he idolized since childhood, his hero making out with someone, who had practically thrown herself at Nicole.  

He was momentarily confused at the scene playing out before him. As far as he knew Nicole was single and had very strong feelings for one Waverly Earp and the woman she was now kissing was definitely not Waverly and that fact alone made him seethe with anger.

He really liked Waverly Earp. He enjoyed the time they spent together last night with and without Nicole. They had quickly formed a friendship and he felt this overwhelming need to protect sweet, innocent Waverly from getting hurt, even by his own sister.

Trent cleared his throat loudly causing the two women to jump apart. “Sorry to interrupted but I’m starving.”

Nicole pulled away from Amy, wiping her mouth and turning towards her brother, who’s tone didn’t sound sorry at all, more like angry? “Sorry.”

“Can we just go?” Trent asked, not even giving Amy a second look.

He should feel bad for being so rude to her, he knew that his grandpa would be disappointed in the way he was treated her but he really didn’t care, he was just so angry on Waverly’s behalf.

How could Nicole not see that Waverly Earp cared for her as more than a friend?  Sure Waverly had a boyfriend but that didn’t mean that Nicole didn’t have a chance with her. And if Nicole cared about Waverly as much as he thought she did then why was she fooling around with some other woman?

“You should stop by the cafe later,” Amy ran a single finger up and down the middle of Nicole’s chest, ignoring Trent’s rudeness. “If not you can send Haughtstuff here in your place, he’ll do.”

Trent’s face twisted with disgust. Really? She was just making out with his sister and now she was hitting on him?

“I’ll call you,” Nicole promised as Amy made her way back into the cafe.

“You two have a thing going?” Trent asked, tone harsh and dripping with anger as he stalked down the sidewalk.

“It’s casual,” Nicole shrugged, using her long legs to easily keep up with his pace.  

“How does Waverly feel about that?” He glanced over at her.  

“How should I know?” She asked as she yanked the door to the diner open, fed up with his attitude.

“Nicky!” A female voice called out as she and Trent entered the diner, causing her head to snap up, her body suddenly tense as she searched for the owner of the voice.

Few, very few people called her Nicky and only the people she truly cared about got to call her that. The last woman to call her that had been her ex when Nicole had caught her cheating with another woman.

Somewhere deep down she knew that there was no way that Jennifer was here in Purgatory, in this diner but that didn’t stop the fear from creeping into her mind.

“It’s just Waverly,” Trent mumbled, nodding towards the booth where Waverly and a blonde sat, waving them over.

Nicole’s body relaxed as a grin took over her face and she weaved her way to Waverly with Trent followed closely behind her.  

“Want to join us?” Chrissy asked when the two approached the booth, her eyes lingering on Waverly, noticing how bright her smile was, how happy she looked just being in Nicole’s presence.  

“If that’s okay with you?” Nicole directed her question to Waverly, who nodded her head yes and mentioned to the seat in front of her.

Chrissy stood allowing Nicole to slide into her side of the booth while Trent slide in next to Waverly.

Trent gave Chrissy a dimpled grin when she sat back down. He didn’t know who she was but he did know that she was quite possibly the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on and he wanted to get to know her. “Who’s this cutie?”

“Trent this is Chrissy Nedley, my boss’s daughter,” Nicole narrowed her eyes at her brother. She knew that look on his face. “Chrissy this is my younger brother Trenten.”

“Nice to meet you, Trent,” Chrissy smiled holding her hand out.

“The pleasure is all mine Chrissy,” Trent took the blonde's hand and placed a light kiss to it.

Chrissy turned to Nicole with a smile. “You definitely have more charm than him.”

Trent huffed, crossing his arms over his chest in a pout.

Chrissy and Nicole watched him with amusement while Waverly turned her attention to the redhead sitting across from her.

She wore her hair down today, allowing it to frame her face and Waverly wanted to reach across the table and tuck it behind her ear like she had done last night. She wanted to be as close as she was to Nicole last night, their foreheads pressed together and just a breath away from kissing.

She wondered if Nicole remembered anything from last night, remembered Waverly tucking her in bed, remembered how close they were, remembered how she had called Waverly beautiful and actually made her feel like she was.

She wondered if being so close had felt as right to Nicole as it did to her.

A foot brushed against her leg under the table as Nicole smiled at her, dimples showing just the tiniest bit as she reached across the table and swiped up Waverly’s coffee. “Thank you for making sure Trent and I got home last night.”

She brought the coffee cup up to her lips, taking a sip and Waverly followed the movement with her eyes, watching Nicole’s tongue dart out and lick the remnants of coffee from her lips, unaware of Trent and Chrissy watching the two of them interact and sharing knowing looks.

“It was the least I could do, you’ve been taking care of me since the moment we met.”

“Oh, it’s been my pleasure Waves,” Nicole smiled, her words causing Waverly to blush a shade of red that almost matched Nicole’s hair.

Just as Waverly was about to reply, Hetty walked up to their booth, notepad in hand. “What can I get y’all?”

“I’ll have a chocolate milkshake, a cheeseburger with extra pickles and fries,” Trent said, handing Hetty his menu.

“I’ll have the same,” Nicole handed her menu over as well.

“That actually sounds really good,” Waverly commented. “I’ll have the same as well.”  

“I’ll have a salad,” Chrissy said and Trent groaned.

“It’s way too early for a salad.”

“Some would say it’s too early for a greasy burger,” Chrissy countered, lips twitching in an attempt to hide a smile.

“Come on Nedley,” Trent teased with a wink. “Live a little.”

“Screw it, I’ll have the same just no pickles,” Chrissy finally allowed herself to smile when Trent gave her a dimpled smirk.  

He was cute and sweet just like his sister and Chrissy found herself very attracted to him and wondering how long he would be in town for.

Hetty walked away without another word and Nicole calling a ‘thank you’ to her retreating back before Nicole turned her attention back to Waverly while Trent and Chrissy talked quietly to one another.

“So,” Nicole started. “How much did I embarrass myself last night? I uh, don’t remember much other than you dragging my drunk ass home.”

Waverly propped her elbow on the table and placed her chin in her hand, smiling across the table at Nicole. “Oh you know, you didn’t embarrass yourself too much, you just sang at the top of your lungs for a while and, called me baby so many times I lost count.”

Nicole ducked her head, hiding behind a curtain of her red hair, trying to hide her bright cheeks. She started spinning the jade ring on her finger as she stumbled over her words. “I’m re-really sorry if I made you uncomfortable, I have absolutely no filter when I drink.”

Waverly reached across the table, stilling Nicole’s fingers by taking ahold of her hand and squeezing gently. “Don’t be.”

I liked it. Waverly finished the sentence in her head, wishing she was brazen enough to say it out loud.

Nicole looked up at her, cheeks still tinted a light shade of pink.

Waverly tucked the hair hanging in front of Nicole’s face behind her right ear. “You also said I deserve better than Champ.”

Nicole’s eyes widened in a way that was almost comical if it wasn't for the guilt, shame and fear swirling in them. “I’m so sorry Waverly.”

She couldn’t believe she actually said that to Waverly. Of course she’s been thinking it since the moment she watched Champ rip the towel away from Waverly when she was trying to cover her soaking wet white t-shirt after the beer tap exploded all over her in front of all of Shorty’s but she never meant to say it out loud to Waverly. At least not until she worked up the courage to tell Waverly how she felt, that is if she ever did in fact worked up the courage.

She’s told Waverly time and time again that she deserves better but never once specified that it was Champ she was talking about, though she was sure it was implied.

“Don’t be,” Waverly repeated, giving Nicole a soft, almost shy smile. “I think you may be right.”

Chapter Text

“I think you may be right.”

The words left Waverly’s mouth without her permission but that didn’t make the any less true. Waverly was starting to think that maybe she did deserve better than Champ. That maybe she did deserve better than a relationship that she was merely content with, that only offered a poor excuse for companionship and a false sense of comfort. That she deserved better than a relationship where she had to hide who she really was and had to constantly turn her brain off to please Champ.

She always knew that her relationship with Champ was never the be all and end all of relationships but, she always believed that it was the best that she, an Earp, was ever going to get.

And so she stayed with Champ, content with the little comfort he did provided her, content with the loneliness that he helped staved off, content with the fact that he stayed while everyone else left.

It was a huge step for Waverly to admit that to herself, let alone say it out loud for someone else to hear and Nicole knew that.

Nicole knew that it wasn’t easy for Waverly to say those words, out loud or even just to herself and she felt proud, ecstatic that Waverly could finally see that she did in fact deserve better than Champ freakin’ Hardy.

Waverly’s eyes were filled with that same fear they held last night. It was one of the only things Nicole remembered from last night, it was hard to forget. They had been wide with fear and just the tiniest bit of hope.

Nicole wanted to ease that fear in any way she could. She knew that Champ was like a security blanket for Waverly, he was safe and he was home and he was there . And Nicole knew that coming to this realization would have been hard and scary for Waverly.

“I’m always right,” Nicole winked at Waverly, giving her that dimpled grin that sent Waverly’s heart threatening to beat out of her chest.

As if sensing the heaviness that had fallen over the pair, Trent leaned over, throwing his arm around Waverly’s shoulder. “Don’t listen to her, she’s never right.”

Nicole would have been upset with her brother for ruining their moment, ruining her chance to comfort the younger woman but a brilliant smile took over Waverly’s face and reached those alluring eyes that Nicole constantly found herself getting lost in and Nicole found herself overcome with a need to hug Trent, to thank him.

“She’s quite full of herself,” Waverly nodded, snickering when Nicole stuck her tongue out at the two.

“I am not full of myself,” Nicole protested lightheartedly.

They could call her whatever they wanted as long as Waverly kept smiling like that, as long as she kept laughing and as long as those eyes continued to shine with nothing but happiness. She could take all the teasing in the world as long as it made Waverly happy.

God, she was such a sap but she didn’t even care, she was too far gone for the woman sitting across from her, laughing with her brother. She’d be anything or anyone for Waverly Earp.

Chrissy bumped her with her shoulder and leaned in to whisper in her ear. “You might want to tone down the heart eyes and wishful sighs.”

Nicole rubbed the back of her neck with the hand that wasn’t still being held by Waverly and gave Chrissy a sheepish grin. “Yeah, it’s not something I can control.”

And she couldn’t control it, not really. Sometimes when she looked at Waverly, she was overcome with images of what could be, of what they could be together if given the chance. How happy they could be together, how much better she could be for Waverly than Champ.

And other times when she looked at Waverly, she saw how truly unhappy Waverly is, how lonely, how afraid she is of being judge for the actions of the Earps that came before her. She saw how tired Waverly was of hiding pieces of herself from everyone.

When she looked at Waverly, she saw past the walls Waverly had spent her whole life building up, she saw past the fake smiles and the little waves. She saw past what Waverly wanted people to see through to the real Waverly. When she looked at Waverly Earp, she saw just Waverly.

“What can’t you control?” Trent asked, bringing himself and Waverly into their conversation.

“That overflowing confidence that borderlines on arrogant sometimes,” Chrissy answered with a wink to Nicole.

“Hey now, be nice my confidence is the most attractive thing about me,”

“It’s not!” Waverly insisted, looking every bit like a deer caught in headlights when everyone at the table turned to look at her. Her cheeks colored a bright shade of red as they continued to stare, waiting for her to say something else. “It’s uh, totally the dimples.”

Trent nodded his head in  agreement, taking a sip of the milkshake Hetty sat in front of him, mumbling out a ‘thanks’ with a mouth full of said shake. “She’s right, those dimples did get you many of girls in high school.”

“First of all, you two make it sound like my looks are the only thing I have going for me when we all know it’s my charm,” Nicole nodded her thanks to Hetty. “And second, you,” she pointed to Trent. “Make it sound like I was a player in high school when you know I only dated two girls in high school.”

“Yeah, you’re right you only dated two girls but, how many girls did you sleep with again?” Trent grinned at her around his straw.

Nicole was never a player in high school or any time after that, Trent knew that but he still loved to mess with her about it. Nicole was way too sweet, too caring to ever just screw around someone, which was why he found it weird that the thing that Nicole and Amy had was ‘casual’, it was unlike his sister.

“Screw you asshat.”

“I think it’s your eyes,” Chrissy said, trying to keep the siblings from getting into an argument in the middle of the diner.

Chrissy didn’t have any siblings herself, it was just her and her father (her mother left them when she was young), but she knew how quickly teasing turned into fights. She’s seen friends’ and their siblings go from light hearted teasing to full blown fighting in a matter of seconds.

“Hmmmm?” Nicole turned to her, straw firmly between her lips, which Waverly’s eyes were glued to.

“You’re eyes,” Chrissy said as if it were obvious. “They’re what draws people in, they’re bright, soft, and friendly. They’re what pull people in then your charm and dimples make em’ stay.”

Waverly thought that Chrissy was right. It was definitely the eyes that drew people to Nicole. Her wide brown eyes that were like windows to her soul are what drew Waverly to Nicole the night they met, not just the fact that she was holding up a jacket for Waverly to cover herself.

No, it was those eyes that Waverly found herself getting lost in time and time again. That Waverly found herself wanting to get lost in. That Waverly found herself wanting to wake up to every morning and fall asleep to every night. Eyes that Waverly found herself wanting to gaze into for the rest of her life.

“She’s right,” Waverly whispered.

She watched Nicole duck her head with a blush, looking up at her through her eyelashes in that adorable way of hers with a thousand watt smile and those damn dimples that made Waverly’s knees weak and she just stared at her in awe.

She was awestruck by Nicole, by her beauty, by the adorable way her nose crinkled when she smiled, by the way her dimples showed with just the tiniest hint of a smile, by the way ‘Waverly’ sounded coming from her mouth, by the way her eyes shined with concern and care when she looked at her.

“You’re blushing,” Trent teased his sister.

“Shut up,” Nicole grunted, averting her eyes from Waverly and looking down at the table, dragging her fingers through the condensation on her glass.

Nicole was suddenly nervous, suddenly shy. Waverly had looked at her like she was the answer to every question that Waverly had ever had, like she was everything Waverly needed and wanted and, it sparked hope deep in her chest and no matter how hard she tried to squash it, bury it she couldn’t.

She hated that a simple look, a look from Waverly was able to spark so much hope within her. Hope bred misery, or at least it did in Nicole’s option. Being hopeful had never really turned out well in her favor, she was always let down, always crushed, destroyed.  

Like most things in her life, her outlook on hope stemmed from her father. When she was little she used to hope and pray every night that when she woke up in the morning things would be different with her father, that he would realize how awful he was to her and change, be a father again and every morning that hope turned into disappointment, misery.

She did not want to hope that the way Waverly had been looking at her meant something more than friendship, meant that maybe, just maybe she felt the same. She didn’t want to wake up in the morning and find that hope turned into disappointment once again.

Chrissy nudged Nicole lightly with an elbow to her side, smiling softly at her with eyes full of concern. “You okay?”

She kept her voice low as not to draw the attention of Waverly and Trent, who had fallen into a conversation about Purgatory’s history. A favorite topic of Waverly’s.

It amazed Nicole how quickly Chrissy was able to pick up on changes in moods and feelings people were harboring. She was definitely her father's daughter.

Nicole was incredibly grateful that Waverly had a friend in Chrissy. If she was even half the person her father was then well, Waverly would always have someone on her side, someone rooting for her, someone willing to protect her (not that Waverly needed protecting), someone willing to tell her like it is with no bullshitting.

“I’m great.”

It was a flat out lie, one she knew that Chrissy would easily see through but honestly, she didn’t care. She didn’t want to talk about what she was feeling, she didn’t want to talk about the hope she had that Waverly just might love her back. She didn’t want to talk about how she knew that she was setting herself for disappointment, setting herself up to get hurt.

She didn’t want to talk about how she knew that Waverly Earp was going to break her heart and how she was going to let her, just to be in her life, just to be her friend because being Waverly’s friend would hurt yes but, it would be enough.

“You’re a terrible liar,” Chrissy smiled at her again with that same softness as before, with that same concern in those eyes and Nicole found herself biting down on her tongue to keep from spilling her guts.

Nicole was never good at talking about the things that weighed heavily on her mind or, the things that ate away at her or, her feelings, or anything even somewhat personal. The only person she wanted to tell anything and everything to in a long time was Waverly Earp. So the need, the want to spill her feelings and thoughts to Chrissy Nedley was odd.

“I know.”


 

“I don’t see why you need to be present for me to apologize to her,” Trent whined as he and Nicole made their way down to the cafe.

After finishing their lunch with Waverly and Chrissy and, making promises to meet up at Nicole’s later that night for drinks, Trent realized what a dick he had been to Amy earlier in the morning and wanted to apologize and make it up to her.

He wasn’t a complete ass. He could see that he had been quite terrible and rude to Amy and that wasn’t who he was. He had acted like his father this morning and he refused to be anything like that man. He was better than that man and he was going to prove that to himself and to Nicole.

The last thing he wanted was for Nicole to be disappointed in him, to think he was capable of being their father.

“Because I need coffee,” Nicole shrugged.

She did need her caffeine fix for the day but she also wanted to see Amy. They hadn’t seen each other since they all went out to the city and Nicole missed her. No matter what they did behind closed doors (or in the cafe’s storeroom, or in Amy’s kitchen or against Nicole’s front door), they were friends first and Nicole just missed talking to her friend.

“You need coffee or you need to see your girlfriend?” Trent asked.

He just didn’t understand the relationship between his sister and Amy. Nicole didn’t do casual, she didn’t sleep around with people just for the hell of it. She cared too much to just string someone along like that.

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Nicole sighed, sounding every bit as tired as she suddenly looked.

“Then what is she?” He wasn’t judging her, he just wanted to understand. “Is she your way of repressing your feelings for Waverly or did Jenny just fuck you up that much?”

It had been almost two years since Nicole had come home one weekend from the academy to find her highschool sweetheart, the girl she loved and had planned to marry in her bed with some other woman.

She had moved out of town after that, threw herself into the academy, into her training, her future and she never looked back. Never came back home for more than a few days

His sister had been devastated, broken for the longest time and Trent wasn’t sure she had ever really gotten over that betrayal.  

He understood why she refused to admit that she had feelings for Waverly. She was terrified to give herself over to someone like she had given herself to Jennifer. She was terrified of trusting someone else with her heart and having it crushed again.

“Don’t say her name,” Nicole hissed, eyes flashing with hurt and anger as she ripped the door to the cafe open, causing the bell above the door to chime loudly and stormed in, throwing a tight lipped smile to Amy on her way to a table.

Trent sighed and hung his head as he made his way to the counter. He hadn’t meant to upset his sister, really he hadn’t. He just wanted to understand what was going on with his sister, what was going through her mind, what she was feeling.

“What’s wrong with her?” Amy asked as Trent stopped at the counter.

There was worry in her blue eyes that had him feeling even more like a dick. This woman cared about his sister and he had been rude and standoffish to her. 

“How do you know something's wrong?” He couldn’t help but to ask. He wanted to know how well Amy knew his sister.

Amy rolled her eyes and gave him a look that said: Really, Haught?

“You know we’re not just sleeping together right? We’re friends and her jaw is clenched tight, her back is rigid and her eyes don’t hold their usually softness, they’re hard,” Amy nodded towards where Nicole sat at a table, just staring at the wall she’s facing. “She’s either mad or really really upset, so again what’s wrong with her?”

“I said something that upset her,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck in the same way that Nicole does.

It struck Amy how similar the siblings were, not just in looks but in their nervous ticks, the way they held themselves, the way their emotions were plain as day in those wide brown eyes.

“Look, I’m sorry for being such an ass earlier,” Trent said, tone as apologetic as his eyes. “I was hoping we could start over and maybe we could get drinks tomorrow night at Shorty’s? On me?”

“Sounds good.”

She wanted to get to know Nicole’s brother. She knew that even though Nicole’s family hadn’t been the best to her growing up or even now, that they still meant a lot to her. Family was everything to Nicole, or at least her younger brother and grandpa were everything to her.

“Trenten Haught.” He held his hand out for her to shake. “It’s very nice to meet you Amy.”

“It’s nice to meet you Trenten.” Amy took his hand and gave it a firm shake, smiling when Trenten kissed the top of her hand with a dimpled grin in the same way Nicole had done when they first met.

Nicole definitely taught him everything she knows.

“Please call me Trent.” He let go of her hand and reached into his back pocket for his wallet, pulling out a twenty and handing it to her. “Get her whatever she wants and I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“You’re just gonna leave?” Amy asked, her confusion written clearly on her face.

How could he just leave Nicole after upsetting her? He wasn’t even going to try and apologize? Try to make things better? Make sure Nicole was okay?

Trent looked over his shoulder at Nicole, frowning. “It’s best if I let her cool off before trying to apologize.” He looked back at her with a small, almost sad smile. “8-ish good for you?”  

“That works for me.”

With that Trent turned around, making his way out of the cafe with one last look at his sister.

Nicole didn’t look up from the table when the bell above the door chimed or, when Amy placed a cappuccino in front of her and took a seat next to her.

“Wanna talk about it?” Amy finally asked after a few minutes of silence.

The cafe was nearly empty as per usual for a Tuesday afternoon after lunch rush. It was just Nicole, herself and a regular who spent every Tuesday afternoon here working on their laptop for a couple of hours. It was the perfect place to talk, if Nicole wanted to.

Nicole finally looked up at Amy, eyes clouded with a memory and hurt, so much damn hurt that it made Amy’s chest ache for her friend.

She had never seen so much hurt in those beautiful brown eyes, not even on the rare occasions that Nicole spoke of her father.

Nicole shook her head no, wrapping her long fingers around the mug before her. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Wanna make out in the back?” Amy gave her an impish grin when Nicole just rolled her eyes but downed her cappuccino quickly and stood, offering an hand to Amy.

“Keep an eye on the place will ya Alex?” Amy asked as Nicole led them to the front door to lock the door and put the ‘Be back in five’ sign on the door. They had done this enough times that Nicole knew the drill.

“Sure thing.” Alex said, never once looking up from his laptop.

If she wasn’t the best damn barista that her boss had or, if her customers didn’t love her so damn much she probably would have been fired a long time ago for sneaking off during work hours to make out with long legged redheads.

Once they were in the storeroom with the door closed behind them, Amy pushed Nicole against the wall and pressed their lips together as Nicole’s hand settled on her hips, drawing her in closer.

Nicole tasted like cinnamon and the tiniest hint of chocolate and Amy found herself getting lost in the way Nicole’s lips moved against hers, the way Nicole’s blunt nails dug into her hips.

It didn’t take long for Amy to realize that Nicole’s mind was elsewhere, that Nicole wasn’t here in this moment with her.

Amy pulled back and Nicole didn’t chase after her like she normally did. Her body was tense against the wall and her eyes were shut tightly.

“Where’d you go?” Amy whispered, standing up on her toes to press her forehead against Nicole’s.

Nicole’s eyes opened slowly and were clouded with emotions that Amy couldn’t decipher.

“Trent was right, I can’t do this.”

“Do what?” Amy questioned, though she was sure she already knew the answer.

Since the beginning she knew that this thing between her and Nicole wouldn’t last, not when Nicole was hung up on Waverly but that didn’t mean she was ready for it to end. She enjoyed the time they spent together, whether they were having sex or just hanging out watching terrible movies.

She wasn’t ready to let go of whatever this was.

“This casual thing we are doing, one of us is going to end up getting hurt and,” Nicole brushed unruly curls behind Amy’s ear and cupped her cheeks in that oh so gentle way of hers. “The last thing I want to do is hurt you Amy.”

“And you think I’ll be the one to get hurt?”

Nicole nodded.

“Because you love Waverly?”

Nicole swallowed hard and nodded her head yes again. “I do love her.”

It wouldn’t be the first time someone had chosen Waverly Earp over her. She had been with Champ in high school when he decided to leave her and ask Waverly out the same day as if their time together, as if their relationship, as if she had meant nothing. And she guessed to Champ, their time together really did mean nothing, she had just been another notch on his headboard.  

She had just hoped that this time would have been different, that someone would choose her over Waverly.

“I get it, she’s beautiful an-,”

“No,” Nicole interrupted her with a shake of her head. “Amy, you are beautiful okay? You’re breathtaking.” She pressed their foreheads together again, her pleading brown eyes staring into Amy’s blue ones.

She didn’t for one second want Amy to believe that she wasn’t enough, wasn’t good enough or beautiful enough. She didn’t want Amy to believe that Waverly was better than her just because Nicole had fallen in love with her.

“And I wish I could give you everything you want, I wish I could give you my everything but I can’t and it would be unfair and cruel to string you along.”

Nicole pulled Amy into a hug then, whispering how sorry she was over and over again as Amy clung to her.

“I’m going to miss this,” Amy mumbled into her neck, grasping Nicole shirt tightly. She was referring to Nicole’s hugs, to the feel of being in Nicole’s arms. Nicole Haught gave the best damn hugs.

“Me too.”


 

 

Nicole moved around her apartment in a whirlwind of motion, making sure that everything was perfect, that everything was in its place for when Waverly and Chrissy showed up.

Trent watched her fluff the pillows on the couch for the fourth time with an eyeroll. They had brief talk when she had gotten home from the cafe. He apologized and she hugged him and told him he had been right.

Soon after that she started cleaning the already clean apartment and only stopped long enough to get dinner started and to send him to the store for more beer and potato chips.

“She’s seen your apartment before,” Trent reminded her as he set the board games he gotten from the hallway closet onto the coffee table, along with a pack of cards and Nicole’s set of poker chips.

“I know,” she said over her shoulder as she made her way into the kitchen to check on the chicken wings cooking away in the oven. “I just want things to look nice.”

Trent followed her into the kitchen, leaning his hip against the counter next to the stove. He studied his sister.

There was something wrong with her, something bugging her and it had nothing to do with the fact that she broke things off with Amy earlier. Of course she had been upset, more over the fact that she may have hurt Amy than over things ending but this was something else, something different.

“The place was spotless before,” He noted, crossing his arms over his chest.

Nicole fidgeted around the kitchen as if she hadn’t heard him, wiping down counters that were already clean, rearranging the plates and silverware she placed on the table earlier.

When she started to mess with the wildflowers in the middle of the table, that he picked from the edge of town as another way to apologize, Trent pushed himself off the counter and walked over to her, stilling her hands with his own.

“Why are you so nervous, Nicky?”

Usually when Nicole was nervous, you’d never be able to tell without looking her in her eyes or, if you knew her well enough you’d be able to tell when she rubbed at the back of her neck but for her to be fidgeting so openly was abnormal.

“I don’t know.”

And she didn’t know, not really. She just knew that she had all this nervous energy inside her and she didn’t know what to do with herself.

Maybe it was because she finally told someone that she loved Waverly, not just implied it or whispering it when Waverly was asleep. She said it out loud to another person, another living breathing person and that made her uneasy.

What if Amy let it slip that she was in love with Waverly (deep down she knew Amy would never do that but, fear and nerves were powerful things)? What if Waverly found out? What if Champ found out and tried to use that as a way to keep Waverly away from her?

It was the ‘what ifs’ that were eating away at her and had her going stir crazy. That had her feeling like if she didn’t do something then things were going to fall apart around her. And how did she explain that to Trent?

“Amy knows.” She wouldn’t meet his eyes when she said. She was never good at being weak in front of others, not even her own brother. “She knows that I love Waves, what if-,”

Trent held his hand up to cut her off. “She’s your friend, she won’t tell Waverly no matter how upset she may be.”  

She felt like a broken record, always worrying, always freaking out about Waverly finding out, about losing Waverly.

She didn’t want to constantly be worried, constantly be afraid. She just wanted to be able to enjoy spending time with Waverly without that little voice in the back of her mind telling her that things would go wrong because they always did when she was happy.

Or so it seemed. It was like every time she’s been happy in her life, something has came around and fucked it up.

When she was six and so damn happy and excited to realize that she wanted to be a cop like her grandpa and her father and when she told her father, he burst her bubble by telling her no child of his was going to break tradition, that she would be a nurse because that’s what wants expected of her.

Or the time when she was sixteen and after struggling for so long, she finally accepted that she was gay and she was happy dammit, to finally know who she was. And like an idiot, she went to tell her mother who then told her father and of course he freaked the fuck out. That was the day he officially kicked her out of his house, though she had been staying with her grandparents for awhile.

Then there was the time she was accepted into the police academy, she was so happy she could barely contain the news. And ever the idiot, she told her parents because she wanted them to care, to be proud of her for once in her life. Her father just screamed at her, told her how worthless she was and how disappointed he was in her for not following the path laid out for her, for not falling in line. And suddenly she wasn’t so happy anymore.

The list went on and on, it was like the world didn’t want her to be happy but she never stopped trying, she never gave up.

“You worry too much Nicky, Waverly,” he paused, unsure how to continue without giving away the fact that he was sure Waverly had feelings for her as well. It wasn’t his place. “She cares about you, she wouldn’t let something like this ruin your friendship.”

“But,” Nicole started but he cut her off again.

“No buts, you need to relax, Waverly and Chrissy are going to be here any minute and we’re going to drink and have a good time and you,” He poked her in the chest lightly, smiling at her softly. “Aren’t going to worry.”

She was about to tell him that no matter how many times she pushed her feelings, her fear, her nerves down and relaxed, they always came back but as if on cue there was three soft knocks on the door and Trent pushed her towards it with a encouraging smile and a thumbs up.

Grasping the doorknob, Nicole takes a deep steadying breath, pushing down all the nerves and fear with ease. If there was one thing she was good at, it was burying her feelings, she’s been doing it her whole life. It almost felt natural at this point.

She could do this. She could enjoy an evening with Waverly, Chrissy, and her brother. She could have dinner, play board games and get drunk with them without her fear and nerves getting in the way.

She was Nicole Haught. She could spend time with the woman she loved without any problems, without wanting to kiss her senseless, without anything getting in the way of them having a good time as friends .

She opened the door with a smile and in a slightly better mood that quickly fell when she saw Champ with an arm around Waverly in that possessive way of his, standing next to Chrissy with a smug grin on his stupid fucking face.

Fan-fuckin-tastic.

Chapter Text

Nicole Haught was sure that she was the unluckiest person in Purgatory, in Canada, hell in all of the world. Okay, so she was being dramatic but dammit if it didn’t feel like she was the unluckiest person in the world right about now.

She just wanted a fun, relaxing night of drinking and board games and a tad bit of flirting (because honestly, she couldn’t help herself around Waverly) with Waverly and you know, of course Trent and Chrissy as well (just not the flirting that would be weird).

But what does she get instead? An evening with Champ fuckin’ Hardy thrown in the mix.

The world hates her, it really does. If she wasn’t sure of it before, she was damn sure of it now.

“Please come in,” Nicole opened the door wider and stepped out of the way, forcing a smile that she hoped looked somewhat friendly because it felt more like a grimace to her.

She could do this. She could spend the evening with Waverly and Champ . She was Nicole fucking Haught and she has faced worse situations than this growing up, so she could damn well handle this.

“Thank you for having us over,” Chrissy smiled as she walked into the apartment first, carrying a dish wrapped in tinfoil, with a brown paper bag holding two bottles of red wine hanging off one arm. “I can’t remember the last time I played a board game.”

“It’s my pleasure.” Nicole smiled at her, taking the glass dish from her and handing it off to Trent, who was standing right behind her glaring at Champ over her shoulder.

Trent and Champ got along about as well as her and Champ. Their pool game last night had almost ended in the two men (and she used the term man loosely when referring to Champ), having a full blown fist fight. Whether it had been because they were both drunk off their asses or just because Champ was being a dick, Nicole didn’t know.

She just hoped the two behaved tonight.

Chrissy tapped the top of the dish, smiling up at the younger Haught. “That needs to go in the oven for about 20 minutes before we can eat it.”

“Oh! Right, this way,” Trent motioned towards the kitchen. “Get you a beer Hardy?”

“It’s Champ.” He pushed his way inside and to the kitchen, leaving Waverly standing just outside the door and leaving her and Nicole alone as the other two followed after him.

“Hey,” Waverly said almost shyly, holding up a bottle of Johnnie Walker to the redhead.

“Hey yourself,” Nicole eyed the bottle then swept her eyes over Waverly’s form, taking in the low cut, dark blue tank top she was wearing that showed a sinful amount of cleavage and the loose fitting jeans that hung low on her hips.

Of course Waverly would look absolutely beautiful and sexy in just a plain tank top and jeans, with no makeup on and her long brunette hair flowing freely down her back. Tonight was going to be a lot harder than she thought.

Nicole bit down on her bottom lip, taking the bottle of Johnnie Walker from Waverly and motioning for her to come in. “He told you the story about the time we drank a whole bottle of this stuff, didn’t he?”

She didn’t sound upset but she didn’t look entirely happy and that had Waverly fidgeted nervously with the hem of her tank top as Nicole looked over the bottle and shut the door as soon as Waverly was inside.

“Yes.”

What if she was mad that Trent had told her the Johnnie Walker story? What if it was something Nicole didn’t want her to know?

“The whole story?” Nicole looked up at her then, brushing away the few strands of red hair that escaped her messy bun and fell into her eyes.

That story was a favorite of Trent’s to tell but never the whole thing. He only told up to the part where their older brother caught them and dragged their asses home. It’s not that he didn’t want people to know how terrible their father could be, most people knew they just chose to ignore it.

No, Trent never told people the rest of the story because that part of the story was his. Because her protecting him from a man whose love and acceptance she only ever wanted meant everything to him then and now and he didn’t want to share it with anyone else.

“Yes.”

Him sharing that story meant that he thought very highly of Waverly and the thought of her brother thinking highly of the woman she loved? Well that was everything to her.

Waverly moved closer to Nicole, reaching up and brushing her fingertips along the tiny, barely visible scar on her cheek. “You were very brave to stand up to your father, to protect Trent.”

Nicole closed her eyes and sighed softly at the warmth of Waverly’s fingers on her skin, leaning into the touch when Waverly turned her hand over and brushed the back of her fingers along her cheek.  

Waverly continued to gently, oh so gently run her fingers along Nicole’s cheek, letting her eyes roam over Nicole’s lean body.

She was wearing a well-worn, well-fitted, heather grey Toronto Raptors shirt that looked absolutely incredible on her. As did the faded, painted stained blue jeans she was wearing. Her feet were bare, showing off the chipped red nail polish on her toes.  

She was somehow able to make such a casual outfit look so beautiful, so breathtaking, so sexy .

Someone behind them cleared their throat loudly, causing the two women to jump apart as if they had been burned. In her scrambled backwards, Nicole’s elbow slammed into the wall.

“Fuckin’ hell,” she hissed in pain, cradling her elbow to her body, glaring at her brother over Waverly’s shoulder.  “Asshole.”

“Sorry but uh, the friendly neighborhood douchebag is wondering where Waverly is,” Trent shrugged, coming to stand next to the two women.  

“Trent,” Nicole warned, eyes darting between both Trent and Waverly.

She expected Waverly to be upset by Trent’s behaviour but instead found her watching the two of them with amusement.

“Sorry right.” He nodded, not looking sorry in the slightest. “The Chump.”

“Trenten!” Nicole hissed through clenched teeth.

She may not like the guy (okay, she hated him), and she may have found the names fitting but she didn’t want him talking about Champ that way in front of Waverly. It was disrespectful and while she didn’t care if he disrespected Champ (God know he doesn’t deserve anyone’s resect), it was disrespectful to Waverly and to their relationship and Nicole wouldn’t stand for Waverly being disrespected.

“Okay okay, I’m sorry.” He held his hands up in mock surrender, his face void of all emotions but his brown eyes sparkled with mischief. “Champ is looking for you, Waverly.”  

“Right, thanks.” Waverly smoothed her hands down the front of her tank top needlessly, giving Nicole a small smile before heading towards the kitchen, where both Chrissy and Champ where.

“Ooooooh,” Trent grabbed the bottle of liquor from Nicole, turning it over in his hands, watching the amber liquid slosh around as he leaned against the wall of the short hallway between the door and kitchen. “Johnnie Walker, when’s the last time you had this?”

“You know when,” She gave him a pointed look.

She hadn’t touched a bottle of Johnnie Walker in years, just the thought of it brought up both good and painful memories. Which was a damn shame because it was one of her favorite brands of whiskey.

“Right, well no time like the present,” Trent twisted the cap of the bottle and handed it over to Nicole. “Drink up, I have a feeling you're gonna need it to get through a night with good ol’ Champ.”

Nicole raised the bottle to her lips, taking a long swig of the amber liquid, grimacing as it slid and burned it’s way down her throat.  “S-smooth.”

“Come on, your guest are waiting,” He grabbed the bottle and recapped it, slinging his arm around her shoulder and leading them into the kitchen.


 

 

“Don’t be mad at her for bringing him along,” Chrissy said as she dropped a couple of ice cubes into two of the four tumblers sitting on the counter.

They had just finished dinner, which had been awkward to say the least. Instead of being filled with that same easy going conversation and lighthearted teasing their lunch had held, the dinner  had been filled with tense small talk and Champ taking any opportunity to give Nicole a backhanded compliment or just be a plain asshole to her but Nicole suffered through.

Waverly was sitting next to Nicole during dinner and every time Champ had said something rude (which was almost every time he opened his mouth), Waverly’s hand found it’s way to Nicole’s under the table, squeezing it gently as if to apologize for Champ.

Having Waverly’s hand in hers all throughout dinner had made suffering through it worth it. It was hard to concentrate on anything Champ said when she was too focused on the feel of Waverly’s hand in hers, of the warmth that spread throughout her entire body.

“My dad finally got back to him on whether or not he failed his exam, needless to say he did.”

“Ain’t that a damn shame,” Nicole smirked at her, pouring more wine into Chrissy’s glass.

Her southern drawl that Chrissy never really noticed before was suddenly thicker and it was very, very alluring.

Chrissy could definitely see what Waverly found so attractive about Nicole. But she knew that it wasn’t just her looks, her eyes, her dimples, her smile, her charm, and that damn confidence that drew Waverly in.

No, what drew Waverly in was the fact that since the moment they met, Nicole had been there for her. No matter the time of day, no matter the reason Nicole showed up with kind words and even kinder smile.

She understood why Waverly was so hesitant to do anything about her feelings for the redhead. If they got together and things went wrong between them and Waverly lost Nicole as a friend, it would devastate her.  And after losing so many people in her life, she probably wouldn’t survive it.

Chrissy shook her head with a small laugh. “Yeah, well he was pretty upset and Waves, she’s got a heart of gold and a soft spot for wounded animals, so she couldn’t just leave him alone and she didn’t want to stand you up either.”

“I would have understood.”

“I know but between us,” Chrissy looked around to make sure they were the only ones in the kitchen as leaned in towards Nicole, as if she was about to tell Nicole some big secret. “I think she just wanted to spend time with you in any way she could.”

A smile broke out on Nicole’s face, the dimple on her left cheek making an appearance. “Yeah?”

“You got it bad Haught,” Chrissy said with a shake of her head and a small smile of her own as she poured three fingers of Johnnie Walker into each round tumbler.

It was nice to see her so excited, so happy about the fact that Waverly wanted to spend time with them. It was nice to see someone so far gone for Waverly. It was nice to see someone other than herself truly care for Waverly and her wellbeing.

It made Chrissy happy that Waverly had someone like Nicole Haught in her life.

“So I’ve been told,” Nicole picked up three of the glasses and Chrissy grabbed the other two, following Nicole into the living room where the others were gathered around the coffee table, trying to decide on which game to play first.

“Scrabble?” Waverly suggested with a grin, taking one of the whiskeys without ice from Nicole.

It had been a long time since she’s played scrabble. Not many people want to play with her when she wins with ease. Her uncle used to play with her once a week when she was growing up. At first he would let her win but as she got older, she was able to beat him easily.

“You cheat at scrabble,” Champ claimed as Chrissy handed him a whiskey with ice.

“I do not!” Waverly exclaimed as Nicole took a seat next to her on the floor, across from Trent and Chrissy, who were able to lean against the couch.

Champ sat at the end of the rectangle coffee table closest to Waverly but far enough away from where McGonagall, who was fast asleep on the arm of the couch.

“But you always win,” Champ complained.

“Pretty sure being the smartest person in the room does not mean you cheat at scrabble,” Trent mumbled before taking a sip of his drink that Nicole had sat down in front of him.

“Thank you!” Waverly grinned at Trent, who smiled back at her.

“Strip poker?” Champ wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at Waverly, a creepy smirk making its way onto his face.

Waverly, Chrissy, and Trent looked at Champ with equal looks of shock and disgust, while Nicole gave him a ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ look.

“Dude,” Trent shook his head at him. “We’re siblings, I’m not playing strip poker with my sister.”

“ Anyways...Monopoly?” Chrissy offered.

“Monopoly destroys friendships,” Trent said. “Besides, Nicky and I can’t play monopoly together.”

“Why not?” Waverly asked, moving closer to Nicole till their thighs were pressed against each others.

It was wrong for her to be pressed so close to Nicole with Champ sitting a few feet away but she couldn’t help it. She felt this overwhelming need to be close to Nicole, to feel the warmth that always ran threw her whenever they touched.

Nicole’s eyes darted to Champ to see if he noticed. He didn’t, he was too busy keeping an eye McGonagall.  

The last thing she wanted was to cause problems between the two. Champ knew how she felt about Waverly and knowing him, he’d probably freak, cause a scene and embarrass Waverly if he realized how close she and Waverly were.

Just because Waverly finally realized that she deserves better than Champ, didn’t mean that she was going to be breaking up with him anytime soon. So Nicole didn’t want Champ getting pissy  about how close they were and forcing Waverly to break up with him until she was ready to let go.

She knew that Champ was a constant thing in Waverly’s life and she knew that letting him go would be incredibly difficult for her.

“We’re really competitive,” Trent said with a shrug.

“We’re not just competitive, it starts off as just teasing then we get into full blown fights over the railroads and utilities,” Nicole shook her head with a smile to her brother.

When they were little they would play for hours on end, neither of them willing to give up until the other lost all their money. It led to a lot of fights, a black eye or two, from the time when they decided to play drunk and, bruised shoulders and thighs from slapping each other. Yet, there was some many good memories woven into those fights.

“Okay, no monopoly,” Chrissy said, rolling her eyes at the siblings but the amused smile gracing her lips said she was anything but annoyed. “I would hate to have to call my dad and tell him he has to come break up a fight between his favorite deputy and her brother.”

“Favorite deputy huh?” Nicole asked, a happy grin taking over her face, her eyes lighting up with something akin to pride . “I’m the Sheriff's favorite deputy?”

It was no secret that her dad like Nicole, favored her over the other deputies that have worked under him longer. He swore up and down that he had no favorites at the station but Chrissy could tell how much her dad cared about Nicole. He always said the only reason that he took special interest in her was because she didn’t have any family here but truth was it was because Nicole reminded him of Chrissy just a bit and he felt this need to protect her.

“I did not say that,” She exclaimed. Her dad wasn’t going to be happy that she had told Nicole that she was his favorite but he’d get over it.

“Pretty sure you did,” Nicole smirked.

“Whatever,” Chrissy rolled her eyes with a smile. “But you can’t tell my dad I told you.”

Champ’s glass slammed down on the table causing Chrissy, Waverly, and McGonagall (who glared at him from her perch), to flinch as everyone turned towards him.

“Sorry Champ.” Chrissy said, sounding genuinely sorry.

Chrissy didn’t mean to rub salt in his wounds. She may not really care for him but she wasn’t heartless. She knew that being a cop was one of the top careers on his list (which was a long list, with bar owner in the top spot).

Champ wiped his mouth with the back of his hand then held his glass out to Waverly. “Get me another baby?”

Waverly waited for that warm, fuzzy feeling, that heart fluttering in her chest that she got all last night when Nicole called her baby to come when Champ had said it but it never did.

Instead she felt something close to dread and annoyance at the thought of having to serve drinks on her night off.

“Dude, she spends all day serving drinks to people, get your own.” Trent told him, exchanging a look with his sister.

Was this dude for real? Was he really going to make Waverly get him a drink when she worked for a living serving drinks to douchebags? What kind of piss poor boyfriend was he? And what in God’s name did Waverly see in him?

She was getting ready to push herself off the floor when Nicole’s hand on her knee stopped her. She looked over at Nicole in confusion and Nicole just gave her a small smile.

“I’ll get it.” Nicole got up off the floor, grabbing Champ’s empty tumbler and her own. She was going to need more than one drink to get through tonight. “Anyone else want anything?”

“Ooooooh, bring the chips back.” Trent said as he got up and headed towards Nicole’s ipod dock.

“You just ate,” Nicole stated, making her way towards the small kitchen.  

She was always amazed at the amount of food her brother could put away at any given time. Growing up him and their other three brothers almost ate their parents out of house and home. Feeding six kids was a challenge all on it’s own but feeding four growing boys? It had been a strain on their income and had been a constant stress for their parents.

They hadn’t been poor by any means but living off a sheriff’s salary and a nurse’s salary with six then five (when Nicole went to live with her grandparents) to clothe and feed hadn’t made them rich either. They lived comfortably for the most part though, they were better off than most.

“So? I want something to snack on.” Trent called after her as he looked through the playlists on Nicole’s ipod, trying to find something they’d all enjoy.  “Bring the dip you made too please.”

“There’s dip?” Chrissy asked, suddenly in the mood for chips and dip as well.

“Yup,” Trent smiled settling on just putting the ipod on shuffle. “Nicky makes the best dip in the world.”

Waverly pushed herself off the floor, padding barefoot towards the kitchen to help Nicole bring the drinks, chips and dip back into the living room.

She stopped just outside of the kitchen, leaning against the archway and admiring Nicole as she moved around the small kitchen, reaching up on her tippy toes to reach a platter sitting on top of the highest cabinet.

Nicole moved with a gracefulness that Waverly hadn’t known she possessed. Waverly was captivated with the way Nicole moved, with the way the muscles in her back and shoulder flexed underneath her tight shirt as she grabbed the platter down.

She wanted nothing more than to run her fingers over those defined muscles, to drag her fingers over Nicole smooth, soft skin. To brush her lips along every inch of skin she could reach. She wanted to see those muscles tense underneath her as she pulled moan after moan from Nicole.

Stop! Her mind screamed at her. She shouldn’t be thinking about her best friend like that. Not only did Nicole deserve more respect than that, it would only drive Waverly crazy with want and need for something, someone that she could never have.

Even if Champ was out of the picture and Nicole did feel the same way about her, Waverly wasn’t sure she could risk losing their friendship. What if they got together and things went bad? Waverly couldn’t lose her best friend, her Nicole, the one person who she felt saw her.  

She watched Nicole grab the bottle of Johnnie Walker and pour two fingers into her glass before downing it quickly and planting her hands on the countertop, hanging her head and breathing in deeply.

“Hey,” Waverly whispered, pushing off the archway and making her way to a tense Nicole. She placed her small hands on Nicole’s taut shoulders and began working her fingers into the muscles. “You okay?”

Nicole released a shaky breath and leaned into Waverly’s touch. “Mhm.”

“Sure about that?” Waverly asked, her breath hitting Nicole’s exposed neck, causing the taller woman to shiver. “Your tense muscles say otherwise Haught.”

Waverly nimble fingers continued to work out the knots in her shoulders as she held back a soft moan.

She hadn’t realized how stiff her shoulders and neck were until Waverly had began massaging them. Hell, she wasn’t even sure why she was so damn tense in the first place.

Maybe it was from having to be around Champ. Or having to listen to him call Waverly baby over and over. Or maybe it was having to pretend she was okay, that watching the two of them together didn’t kill her, didn’t make her jealous of Champ freakin’ Hardy.

“I’m okay, Waves.”

Waverly seemed to accept her answer this time because she didn’t press further but her fingers never stopped moving along her shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” Waverly spoke softly as if she was scared to break the moment they were in, as if speaking too loud would draw the attention of the others or cause Nicole to move away of her touch.

And Nicole did just that. She turned around to face the younger woman, confusion clear in those wide eyes.

They were so, so close, it would take nothing for Nicole to reach out and pull Waverly against her, to kiss her, hold her. And God, she wanted to. She wanted nothing more than to have Waverly in her arms in that moment.

“What are you sorry for?” Nicole asked as one of Waverly’s hands trailed down her arm, to her hand where she intertwined their fingers.

“For bringing Champ,” Waverly shrugged as if unsure of why she was really apologizing.

She knew that Nicole didn’t care much for Champ and that Nicole definitely didn’t like spending any amount of time with him. She knew that Nicole wouldn’t want to spend her night off with Champ but Waverly hadn’t had the heart to leave him alone at Shorty’s after finding out that he failed the preliminary law enforcement exam.

“Waves,” Nicole shook her head with a slight smile. “You don’t have to apologize to me.”

“I do, I didn’t ask if it was okay for him to come.”

“Waverly,” Nicole tucked a strand of hair, that had fallen in front of Waverly’s eyes behind her ear. “I don’t care about that, I don’t care that he’s here.”  

It was a lie and deep down she felt horrible for lying to Waverly but she couldn’t exactly tell Waverly that she was in love with her and having to see the two of them together made her physically ill.  

“Then what’s wrong?” Waverly asked, pushing Nicole this time. “And don’t say nothings bothering you Nicky, I know you and I know something’s wrong.”

Waverly’s warm hazelnut eyes bored into hers with nothing but worry but Nicole couldn’t focused on that. No, her mind only focused on Waverly calling her Nicky, on the way it had sounded in Waverly’s mesmerizing voice, so unlike that of her ex’s.

She wanted to hear Waverly say it again and again, with a laugh, with a breathy moan, with anger, with sadness, with happiness, with love . She wanted Waverly to say it again and again in every way possible. She wanted to hear Waverly call her Nicky for the rest of her life.

She must have made a face, or her eyes must have flashed some sort of emotion that worried Waverly even more because the next thing Nicole knows, Waverly’s hands are cupping her face, her thumbs rubbing soothing circles on her cheeks, effectively pulling her from her thoughts.

“Nicole?”

“What in the fuck is going on?” Champ exploded as he marched into the kitchen, nearing the pair with rage filled steps that seemed to echo around the room.

Waverly’s hands dropped from Nicole’s face in an instant and Nicole wanted to punch Champ in his fucking face for ruining their moment, ruining the precious few minutes Nicole finally allowed herself to bask in Waverly’s touch.

“Amy and I broke up and Waverly was making sure I was okay,” Nicole lied to him easily.

There wasn’t a reason to lie, not really. They hadn’t been doing anything wrong, Nicole hadn’t kissed Waverly (even though she really wanted to), she hadn’t let her heart overrule her mind, she hadn’t crossed any lines but, the look of guilt on Waverly’s face made her feel the need to lie and so she did.

“You two weren’t even dating!” Champ raised his voice, stepping toe to toe with Nicole, trying to make himself look taller, bigger, trying to scare her. “You were just screwing.”

Trent and Chrissy appeared in the archway to the kitchen, ready to step in if needed but Nicole waved them away. She could handle Champ no problem and she didn’t want Waverly to be embarrassed by them witnessing the scene that Champ was making.  

The music in the living room was suddenly a bit louder and honestly Nicole could kiss her brother for thinking of that and giving the three of them a bit more privacy.

“Lower your voice please,” Nicole told him calmly.

She was trained in the art of deescalating a situation, of talking someone down from doing something stupid, something violent, something they would regret.

A part of her was excited to put all her training to use but the other part of her wanted to forget all that training and just punch Champ out and be done with it, with him.

“Fuck you,” Champ sneered. “I’m getting sick and tired of yo-.”

“Champ!” Waverly yelled, pushing him away from Nicole. “You need to calm the hell down, we weren’t doing anything but talking.”

“Talking, yeah right,” Champ gave a humorless laugh then leaned down till they were eye level. His eyes were dark and full of so much rage that had Waverly taking a step back in fear, bumping into Nicole.

Waverly had never been afraid of Champ, had never feared that in his anger that he would ever hurt her, lay a hand on her until that moment. She had never seen him so mad and over what? Her and Nicole talking?

Sure it might have looked back from where he had been standing but he should trust her enough to know that she’d never cheat, unlike him. He should know that no matter what she was feeling for Nicole that she would never hurt him the way he had hurt her over and over again.

Nicole steadied her with strong hands on her waist, reluctantly letting her go when Champ’s eyes narrowed at the slight.

“Since when do you need to press up against someone like a bitch in heat to talk to them?”

“Champ.” There was clear warning in Nicole’s voice. She wasn’t going to stand around and allow him to be disrespectful to Waverly in her home or anywhere for that matter.

“Shut up!” Champ growled, stepping towards them again but this time, Nicole stepped in front of Waverly, shielding her from Champ.  “This is between me and MY girlfriend.”

“Waverly doesn’t belong to anyone, she’s her own person.” Honestly what would it take for him to get that through his thick skull? Didn’t they already have a conversation about the fact that no owned Waverly?

Waverly, finally having enough for the two of them going back and forth and getting nowhere and stepped around Nicole, facing Champ.

Champ no longer looked angry, his eyes no longer held that rage that had been there moments before. Waverly was no longer afraid that he was going to hurt her.

When she looked at him now, all she saw was the man she had loved at one point. She saw the man that used to make her happy. She saw the man that had been there for her, that had become the one constant thing in her life and suddenly she was afraid to lose that.

She was afraid to lose the one person who loved her and maybe he didn’t treat her the best and maybe he didn’t love her the way he should and maybe he strayed sometimes but he did love her in his own way.

And losing him meant she might lose her only chance at love, her only chance at a life with someone instead of being alone again, her only chance at a semi happy life. Who else would love an Earp?

“I don’t trust her baby.” He changed tactics. If yelling wasn’t going to get him what he wanted, wasn’t going to make Waverly see that Nicole wanted her for herself then he’d make her see by sweet talking her. “She’s trying to come between us baby.”

“You don’t have to trust her Champ, you just have to trust me.”

Nicole rolled her eyes. She had to hand it to Champ, he was a master at manipulation and she couldn’t believe that Waverly was going to fall for it.

She understood the fear driving Waverly to fix things between them, to keep them together but that didn't mean she had to like it. She just wished Waverly could see that she didn’t need Champ, that she had plenty of people on her side, that she had her .

She wished Waverly would see that she could, would be that constant presence in her life if she’d just let her.  

“How can I trust you when you are too naive, too stupid to see what she’s trying to do?”

That had been the final straw. Nicole watched the shift in Waverly, watched her jaw clench tightly along with her fist, watched the way her eyes narrowed at Champ and she watched as Champ took a step back from the livid Earp.

He had pushed her too far and knew he it.

“Get out,” Waverly spat, glaring at him so hard he shrank away from her.

“Baby,” he tried but she cut him off with a firm shake of her head.

“Don’t ‘baby’ me, get the hell out.”

She was not stupid and she was not naive and she refused to allow him to talk to her like that.

“Whatever.” He rolled his eyes and headed for the door. “When you’re done being a bitch and are ready to apologize, I’ll be at Shorty’s.”

Waverly stepped forward, ready to go after him and give him a well deserved slap to the face when Nicole’s arms wrapped around her waist from behind, stopping her.

“He’s not worth it,” Nicole said softly, breathing a sigh of relief when Waverly relaxed into her. “Besides McGonagall followed him to the door.”

As if on cue there was a loud mix of growling and hissing coming from by the door followed by Champ yelping.

“Get your fucking psycho cat Haught!”

“McGonagall,” Nicole called the man hating cat and a few seconds later, she came scampering into the kitchen and the front door slammed shut. “Good kitty.”

Nicole loosened her grip on Waverly and was surprised when Waverly didn’t move away but leaned farther into her. “You wanna talk about it?”

“Can we just get drunk and play some poker or something?”

“Whatever you want Waves.”

And so they gathered the bottle of Johnnie Walker and Chrissy’s bottle of wine, along with the chips and dip and a bag of stick pretzels from Nicole’s pantry.

They rejoined Chrissy and Trent in the living room and they drank and played poker for hours, using the pretzels in lieu of Nicole’s poker chips, per Waverly’s request. They joked and they laughed and they drank, helping Waverly forget what a dick Champ had been.

Trent was the first to run out of pretzels and be out of the poker game. And not because he was a terrible poker player. It was because he couldn’t quit eating his pretzels.

Waverly was out next, due to the fact that she was enjoying herself too much to really pay attention to how much she was betting and Trent was sneaking her pretzels.

Nicole and Chrissy were matched in skill for the most part. Nicole had spent years hiding her emotions and pretending to be something she wasn’t, so she knew how to bluff and bluff well. Chrissy had been watching her dad play the game once a week, every week since she was five, she learned from the best.

In the end, Chrissy won and by that point Trent had wandered into Nicole’s room and passed out at the foot of Nicole’s bed, leaving plenty of room for everyone else.

Once they had cleaned up their mess in the living room, Nicole got some clothes for Chrissy and Waverly to sleep in and they settled on the couch to watch a movie.

It wasn’t long into the movie before Chrissy got up and headed to Nicole’s room as well, bidding goodnight to Nicole, seeing as Waverly was already asleep with her head in Nicole’s lap.

Nicole tugged the blanket from the back of the couch and draped it over Waverly before resuming running her fingers through Waverly’s brunette locks and closing her eyes to get some sleep herself.


 

She woke a few hours later to find Waverly gone from the couch. Confusion and worry set in as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes with the heels of her palms and stood from the couch slowly, tip toeing her way to the bedroom to see if Waverly was there.

She turned the hallway light on and peaked in the bedroom, only seeing Trent’s body hanging halfway off the end of the bed and Chrissy rolled into a ball at the head of the end.

“Where the hell are you Waves?” Nicole whispered, turning the light off and heading towards the front door.

It was unlike Waverly to leave in the middle of the night without a note telling Nicole where she went. Nicole hoped that wherever she was, she was okay and hopefully not with Champ.

Waverly’s shoes were still sitting by the front door but the door was unlocked and the porchlight on, which it hadn’t been when Nicole went to bed.

Nicole returned to the living room and grabbed the blanket she had draped over Waverly earlier and headed the front door to find Waverly.

She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders but still shivered from the cool night air on her bare legs, having changed into sleep shorts sometime before the movie.

Hot days had starting giving way to cold nights and while usually Nicole enjoyed this type of weather, enjoyed the cold, she wished it was a bit warmer. If Waverly was out here then she was most likely cold.  

Looking out into the parking lot in front of her apartment building, she spotted a figure sitting on the hood of Waverly’s jeep and quickly made her way down the steps towards it, her bare feet rapidly becoming chilly from walking on the cold sidewalk.

“Waves?” She called out as she neared the jeep, picking up speed when Waverly looked up at her.

“N-nicky?” Waverly’s teeth chattered as she spoke.

“Geeze Waves,” Nicole whispered, taking the blanket off her shoulders and wrapping it tightly around Waverly’s tiny, shaking frame. “You’re freezing.”

“It’s c-colder than I thought.”

Nicole wrapped her arms around Waverly and pulled her into an embrace, rubbing her hands up and down her back to help warm her. “What are you doing out here?”

“Needed some air, couldn’t sleep.”

“Come on, let’s get you inside,” Nicole helped Waverly slide off the hood on the jeep then pulled her into her side as she lead them back towards the apartment.

“Wanna tell me why you couldn’t sleep?” Nicole asked once they were safely back inside the warm apartment and cuddled together on the couch, Waverly’s back pressed against Nicole’s front.

“I’m conflicted.”

“About Champ?” Nicole asked, letting her fingers trace random patterns along Waverly’s arm.

“How did you know?” Waverly asked with a small shake of her head. “Nevermind, you always seem to know.”

And she did. Nicole seemed to know what she was thinking, what she was feeling before Waverly knew herself. It was nice and terrifying that someone was able to read her so well, knew her so well but she guessed if anyone could, she was glad it was Nicole.

“You know you don’t have to break up with him until you’re ready right?” Nicole asked. “Just because you know you deserve better and you want more than someone who's just there doesn’t mean you have to rush into anything.”

When Waverly didn’t say anything, Nicole continued. “I can’t even imagine how terrifying it must be to even think about leaving the one constant thing in your life, to think about leaving the one person who's been there for you when everyone else has left.”

She remember how terrified she was leaving home, leaving her grandpa and Trent behind, leaving everything and everyone she knew to start somewhere new. And maybe it wasn’t the same thing that Waverly was going through but Nicole did know how scary leaving people could be.

“How do you do that?” Waverly asked, twisting her body to look at Nicole in the low light of the tv, that neither of them had been paying any attention to since they turned it on.

“Do what?”

“How do you always seem to know what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling when no one else can?” This time she did want to know how Nicole knew, how Nicole was able to read her so easily as if she was a book in some dead, forgotten language that only Nicole could translate.  

“Because I know you Waverly Earp.” She said it as if it was the simplest thing in the world and Waverly couldn’t help but to scoff at her.

“A lot of people know me.”

“Yeah they do but,” Nicole brushed a strand of hair out of Waverly’s eyes and tucked it behind her ear before placing her hand over Waverly’s heart. “I see you Waverly, I see the person you hide away in here, I see the real you, I know the real you.”

A lot of people have said that they know her and they see her but never once didn’t Waverly ever believe them because they didn’t know her, they didn’t see her, they only saw what they wanted to see but Nicole? Nicole really did see her, really did know her

Waverly had never wanted to kiss someone as much as she wanted to kiss Nicole in that moment.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Nicole asked, a soft smile gracing her beautiful face, the palm of her hand still pressed against Waverly’s heart. She could feel it beating away rapidly.

“Like what?”

“Like I hung the moon or something.”

Waverly blushed and turned back around, bringing Nicole’s arms back around her.

“All my life people have been telling me what to do, who to be, what parts of myself to bury deep down inside, even Champ, the only person I have, tells me who to be, what to do, what parts of myself to hide and then,” Waverly stopped there, taking a deep breath and intertwining her fingers with Nicole’s.

Nicole was glad that Waverly was no longer looking at her, that way she couldn’t see the hurt she felt over Waverly thinking that Champ was the only person she has.

She knows Waverly didn’t mean anything by it, that Waverly is so used to being alone, to only having Champ that she sometimes forgets that she had other people but it still hurt.

“You come along and you don’t tell me who to be, what to do, what parts of myself to hide, you just want me to be myself.”

“I’d never ask you to be something you’re not, Waverly,” she promised.

She didn’t want Waverly to be anyone, anything other than herself. She was perfect the way she was, at least in Nicole’s opinion.

“I know and that is something I’ll be forever grateful for,” Waverly settled against her, bringing a blanket over their legs.

“You are wrong about one thing though.” Nicole broke the silence that had settled over them. She knew that Waverly was just about to fall back asleep but she needed to get this out, needed Waverly to hear this, know this.

“And what’s that?” She asked shifting a yawn.

“Champ isn’t all you have, you have so many people on your side.” She began listing names off and with every name, she’d tap right above Waverly’s heart. “ You have Gus, Curtis, Shorty, Chrissy, Sheriff Nedley, and Eric, hell you even have my brother.”

“That all?”

“No, you have me and I’m not going anywhere.” She placed a feather light kiss to the side of Waverly’s head. “I’m here and I’ll be here until you no longer want me around.”

“I think I’ll always want you here, want you around.” She said voice thick with sleep as she snuggled further into Nicole.

“Good, cause I really like it here,” Nicole wrapped her arms tighter around Waverly, drawing her closer and finally allowing her eyes to slide close.

She could sleep now, knowing that Waverly knew that she had her and would always have her.

Chapter Text

Nicole loathed waking up after a night spent on the couch. She loathed sleeping on a couch period. She’d always woke up with a crick in her neck, with her back aching in the same way it did when she spent her day hunched over her desk, filling out paperwork. And her knees, God, her knees felt like the knees of an eighty year old man with arthritis after a night spent on the couch.

And yet, Nicole had spent many of nights on her leather couch. After long days at the station, she would come home, strip off her uniform, feed McGonagall, dig in the fridge for some leftovers for dinner and fall onto the couch to watch a bit of tv before bed, where she would fall asleep at some point.

But, waking up on the couch after a night spent with Waverly Earp curled up against her? Every inch of her still hurt, still ached and she knew that a hot shower and Advil would only ease a bit of the stiffness in her muscles but, it had been worth it.

Sleeping with Waverly Earp in her arms, with Waverly’s head tucked into her shoulder and her warm breath hitting her neck, well that was worth every bit of pain.

Nicole ran her fingers through the still sleeping woman's hair, careful not to tug on the little tangles in it. She pressed a kiss to the top of Waverly’s head, lingering there to breathe in the smell of Waverly’s shampoo.

She wanted to savor this moment because she knew that this might be the last time she gets to hold Waverly like this, to wake up with Waverly in her arms. She knew that when Waverly woke up, she would go back to Champ and Champ being who he is, would try to keep them apart.

Her eyes were still closed but she could feel the warmth of the sunlight filtering in through the large living room window. She must have forgotten to close the blinds before falling asleep last night.

She could hear Chrissy and Trent quietly chatting away in the kitchen while her somewhat outdated coffee pot, that was on it’s last leg, gurgled away on the counter.

She closed her eyes tightly, hoping for sleep to return. She wasn’t ready for this moment to be over, she wasn’t ready to get up, detach herself from Waverly and start her day.

Yet, no matter how hard she tried to fall back to sleep, she just couldn’t. Her neck hurt something awful from being in an odd position on the arm of the couch all night and her back was so stiff that she was sure if she stayed in this position any longer, she’d never be able to straighten her back out.

“Waves,” she spoke softly, wanting to wake Waverly as gently as possible.

The conservation in the kitchen stopped, followed by the sound of coffee being poured and foot steps coming towards the living room.

“Think she’ll ever get over whatever is holding her back and tell Waverly how she feels?” Chrissy asked quietly but Nicole still heard her.

She could feel their eyes on them and fought hard to appear to be asleep, to not move a muscle. She fought hard not to pull Waverly closer to her and shield her from their gaze, protect her from their inquisitive stare.

She knew that they meant Waverly no harm, that they cared for her but she still felt this need to protect the smaller woman. She figured that need would never go away.

“I don’t know.” The words were delivered on a sigh and Nicole knew her brother well enough to know that he was probably scrubbing his hand over his face. “She’s too respectful of Waverly, of Waverly’s relationship with the douchebag but that’s not the only thing holding her back.”

“What’s holding her back?”

“Self preservation, fear, damage done by her ex, take your pick.”

“She’s scared?” Chrissy sounded surprised, like it never even occurred to her that Nicole might be terrified of putting her heart on the line and being crushed.

Really it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone at all. Everyone was scared of putting themselves out there and getting rejected, getting hurt and Nicole was no exception to that. She feared that just as much as the next person but what she feared the most, was not getting hurt but losing Waverly.

She could live with just being a friend to Waverly and nothing more. She could not live with being nothing to Waverly, not talking to her everyday, seeing her almost everyday. She needed Waverly in her life in any way, shape or form.

“Her ex really messed her up and I don’t think she ever fully recovered.”

Nicole kinda hated that her brother knew her so well. That he knew her reasons behind almost everything she did or didn’t do. Yet, she loved it at the same time. She loved that he saw through her bullshit. That even when she thought she had no one that understood her, that knew her, she had him, her little brother.

They were both quiet for a few moments before Chrissy spoke up again. “They’d be good for each other, I’ve never seen someone care for Waverly as much as Nicole does.”

“Mhm,” Trent agreed. “I’ve never seen Nicky so smitten with someone before, so in love.”

“It’s funny, she can put on a mask and hide every single thing she feels, God knows she’s been doing it her whole life but when she looks at Waverly,” he paused there and Nicole could imagine him shaking his head with that crooked smile of his. “When she looks at Waverly, she can’t hide how in love she is, it’s written on her face clear as day and somehow Waverly is oblivious to it.”

Their voices faded as they walked back into the kitchen and Nicole’s eyes shot open, looking down at Waverly in a panic, praying to a God she wasn’t sure she still believed in that Waverly was still asleep.

The last thing Nicole needed was for Waverly to find out that she was in love with her from someone else other than her. If Waverly found out, no when Waverly found out, Nicole wanted it to be from her and her alone.

She was in fact still asleep, thank goodness, but not for long. The pain in Nicole’s back was bordering on unbearable at this point.

“Waves,” Nicole spoke louder this time and shook the sleeping woman’s shoulder. “Waves, I need you to get up.”

Waverly mumbled something incoherently and snuggled closer into Nicole, pulling the blanket around them tighter.

Usually Nicole would find this down right adorable and would not want to wake Waverly and ruin the moment but, at this point she just couldn’t stay in the position any longer.

With a groan, Nicole maneuvered Waverly off of her and against the back of the couch, sliding towards the edge of the couch in the process. And of course, Nicole being every bit as clumsy as her brother claims, slid too far off the couch and hit the floor with a dull thud and another groan.

Well, if her back hadn’t been hurting before, it was definitely hurting now.

Nicole looked over at the couch to make sure she hadn’t woke Waverly and sure enough, Waverly was still out like a light, clenching the blanket to her chest, with her long brunette hair covering her face.

Nicole resisted the urge to reach up and brush the hair for the youngest Earp’s face as Trent entered the room, looking at her with a shake of his head and a amused smile.

“And you say you’re not clumsy.” Trent moved closer and held his hand out to help her up.

“Shut up.” She gripped his hand tightly. “Easy now.”

He nodded and pulled her up as easy as he possibly could, wincing when she hissed in pain and her nails dug into his hand.

“You shouldn’t have slept on the couch,” Trent said as he and Nicole made their way to the kitchen, where Chrissy was waiting with a cup of coffee for Nicole.

“Good morning,” Chrissy chirped, passing the mug of coffee to the elder Haught with a smile.

“Good morning.” Nicole nodded her thanks as she shuffled towards the cabinet she kept the advil in.

“Breakfast?” Trent asked as Nicole down two pills with her too hot coffee and slumped in a chair at the table.

“As long as you’re cooking,” Nicole grinned at him.


 

 

The commotion in the kitchen and the smell of cooking bacon and coffee woke Waverly from her peaceful slumber.

The first thing she noticed before even opening her eyes was that Nicole was no longer laying next to her, that she was no longer wrapped in Nicole’s warm embrace and she missed it.

She always felt so safe with Nicole, even safer when she was wrapped in the redhead’s arms. And that was not something that Waverly had come by often in her life. It was rare for her to feel completely comfortable with someone, it was even rarer for her to feel safe with someone.

Maybe that was one of the many, many things that drew Waverly to her like a moth to a flame, the safety that Nicole and Nicole alone offered her.

And maybe there was something to be said about the fact that Champ didn't provide that same sense of safety, that same sense of comfort, that same sense of security.


Maybe there was a lot to be said about the differences between Champ and Nicole, and how they both treated her. The two were completely different from one another, polar opposites in so many ways.

Champ had his moments, he really did. There were moments where he was sweet and caring, committed and fun, and there were times when Waverly really believe that he loved her but more often than not, Champ was disrespectful and crude. He could be mean and downright cruel at times. He cheated and lied. He sometimes ignored her or talk over her, or just told her to shut her brain off. He sometimes only made her feel cared for when it was convenient for him.

Nicole was thoughtful and respectful. She was kind and she was caring. She was strong and steady. She was trustworthy and honest. She listened to Waverly, actually listened to the things she had to say. She was attentive and she just showed Waverly that she cared all the time and not just when it was convenient for her.

It was wrong and completely unfair to the both of them to just lay there, staring up at the ceiling and compare the two but, Waverly couldn’t help it.

“You just gonna lay there all morning?” Nicole asked, startling Waverly as she leaned up against the hallway wall, fresh from the shower and buttoning her uniform shirt. “Or would you like some coffee?”

“Geez, Nicky.” Waverly placed her hand over her rapidly beating heart.  

A heart she wasn’t sure if it was beating hard because Nicole had actually scared her or if it was because Nicole looked so breathtaking in that moment with damp strands of hair clinging to her forehead, dimples shining as her long fingers worked the buttons on her shirt, her smile so damn bright and content.

“Wear a bell or something.”

“My bad,” Nicole put her hands up in mock surrender and pushed herself off the wall, making her way towards Waverly.

Waverly sat up as Nicole took a seat on the edge of the coffee table in front of the couch. “You doing okay?”

She looked at her with concern filled brown eyes. Eyes that Waverly constantly found herself falling into whenever their eyes met (which was often). Eyes that sent a shiver down her spine and cause a warmth in speared in her chest whenever their gaze fell upon her.

“I’m okay.” And she was okay for the most part. Sure, she was still upset over how Champ had acted last night and she was still conflicted about what she should do about him and about her feelings for Nicole but she was okay. How could she not be when Nicole was looking at her like that?

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Nicole asked again, a playful smile tugging at her lips, those brown eyes that Waverly loved… liked that Waverly liked (who was she kidding? She loved Nicole’s eyes), shining with mischief. “Cause I can totally kick Champ’s ass if you want me to.”

It was a joke, Waverly knew that but it was nice to know that Nicole would defend her honor, stand up for her like that if she wanted her to.

“I’m sure Nedley wouldn’t want his deputy getting into fights with locals.” She leaned towards the redhead, grasping the two halves of her uniform shirt gently with the intent to button the top two buttons Nicole always left undone.

She knew it was useless. She knew that by lunch those two buttons would be undone again, showing off that little strip of pale skin that she longed to run her fingers along.

Nicole inhaled sharply when the tips of Waverly’s fingers brushed against her skin, spreading fire throughout her chest, causing her heart to beat so hard she was sure Waverly could feel it, hear it.   

“Besides, I’d hate for you to stoop to his level.” Waverly said, smoothing her hands down the front of Nicole’s shirt once she finished buttoning it, ridding it of non-existent wrinkles.

Nicole covered Waverly’s hands with her own. “I’d do it if you wanted me to, I’d do anything for you Waves, you’re my best friend.”

“I know and that’s one of the many reasons I love you.”  

Nicole swore she could feel her heart stop beating in her chest, she couldn’t pull enough air into her lungs. All she could think about, all she could focus on was the words ‘I love you’ leaving Waverly’s mouth and the sincerity in her eyes, eyes that Nicole loved.

Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that Waverly had meant it in a friendly way, that she loved her as a friend and nothing more but dammit, that stupid, hopeful part of her clung to those words, clung to the belief that she may have a chance.

“Nicky!” Trent called from the kitchen. “Your breakfast is ready if you don’t eat now, you’re gonna be late for work.”

“I’ll be right here,” she called back before turning back to Waverly, letting go of one of Waverly’s hands to rub the back of her neck. “If you want uh, you’re welcome to stay here again, if uh you know, you and Champ don’t work things out tonight.”  

Nicole mentally cursed herself for sounding so damn nervous and unsure. It wasn’t like Waverly hadn’t stayed over before you know? But hearing Waverly say ‘I love you’ has completely thrown her off her game, thrown off all of her confidence.

“Thank you Nicky.” Waverly leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Nicole’s cheek.

Nicole’s cheek burned a bright red and she looked down bashfully.

“We’re uh, we’re having dinner at Shorty’s around 6ish, if you wanna join us.”

She felt like she was in high school again, asking the girl she liked out on a date for the first time. Waverly did that to her, made her feel like everything was a first again and maybe it was. These feelings she has for Waverly are unlike anything she has felt for anyone else before. It feels like she’s in love for the first time all over again. And it was exciting and it was terrifying.  

“I’d love to.”


 

“Officer Haught, we got a call about a possible 273D at the McDaniels’ ranch, please respond.”

“Why is it calls always come in right before our breaks?” Eric asked from his spot in the passenger seat, buckling his seatbelt and flipping the squad car’s lights and sirens on.

“Guess we’re just unlucky,” Nicole said, reaching for the radio on the dashboard. “10-4 dispatch, Officer Haught and Mills responding.”

Nicole put her coffee in the cup holder, threw the car in reverse and pulled out of the parking spot in front of the cafe. She put the car into drive and hit the gas, sirens wailing down main street as they headed out of town.  

It had been a slow day for the most part. They found some kid’s stolen bike, they did a bit of paperwork (their favorite), and they pulled a few people over for speeding, listened to them bitch and/or pled to be let off with a warning instead of a ticket.

Apparently because Eric grew up with most of them, he was supposed to just let them go. It had irritated Nicole to no end. Their job was to uphold the law and the law did not recognize friendship.

If she had to give a ticket to the woman she loved the night she pulled her over for speeding then Eric, damn well had to give tickets to his friends.

All in all it had been a slow down and they had both been content with that. Nicole was hoping that the day would continue to be slow, so she could actually make it to dinner on time for once but of course, Purgatory had other plans for her, deadbeats who beat their wives had other plans for her.  

“Have you ever handled a domestic before?” Eric asked as the got closer and closer to the McDaniels’ ranch.

Domestics were not pretty. They were nasty and bloody. They were heartbreaking and soul crushing and they make you so angry you want to hurt the offender, make them pay for the things they’ve done.

Eric had handled a few domestics in his time as a cop. Most of them between the McDaniels and each time they got worse, each time they hit him a little harder.

He was worried how Nicole was going to handle seeing what people are capable of doing to the people they supposedly love. He was worried about how it would weight on her heart, her soul.

“McDaniels was my first arrest,” Nicole said tightly, knuckles turning white from gripping the steering wheel so hard.

“If you can’t handle this, I can take care of it on my own,” Eric offered. “No one will think less of you.”

He knew quite a few officers, who worked in the city, who have been on the job longer than him that could handle anything from petty thief to brutal murders but could not take domestic violence cases and he did not think they were any less of a cop.

So Nicole, possibly not being able to handle this kind of case would not make him think less of her in any way.

“I can do this.” She looked over at him briefly, determination burning in her eyes. “My grandpa never shied away from a case and neither will I.”

For someone so young, Nicole Haught had a strong sense of right and wrong. She had her conventions and she stuck to them. Her determination and her fire surprised Eric constantly. Her need and want to help and protect people was something he admired about the younger officer.

He wished there were more people, more cops like Nicole Haught. The world would definitely be a better place if there was.

When they arrived at the McDaniels’ ranch, Nicole shut the car off and just stared up at the two story ranch style home as Eric called into to dispatch to let them know they had arrived on scene.

“You ready for this?” He asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.

A gesture that had become his way of offering Nicole a show of support without being overbearing, without making her feel weak.

“When I was in my last year of high school, a friend of mine started dating this guy in college.” Her grip on the steering wheel, she had yet to let go off tightened, her already pale knuckles turning white. “He seemed nice enough you know? But then again I guess they always do, anyways, he was abusing her mentally and physically for months and I didn’t see it.”

Her voice became thick with anger, self hatred and sorrow and Eric was at a loss of what to do. He was well aware of the fact that they really needed to hurry up and get inside that house and assess the situation but he knew that this was something Nicole needed to get out, something she needed to talk about before they went inside that house.

“Years of watching my grandpa deal with domestic cases, years of him teaching me how to read between the lines and see the signs and I still missed it,” she trailed off and turned to look at him, her eyes glossy with unshed tears. “When I finally noticed it was too late, he had beat my best friend so bad that she ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw and collarbone.”

“You were just a kid Haught, it’s not your fault,” he told her softly, giving her shoulder a squeeze.

He wished that Nicole didn’t beat herself up over this. She was just a kid. There was no way for her to tell, her to catch that something like that was going on behind closed doors.

“I should have seen it, I should have done something,” she stressed. “But that’s not why I’m telling you this.”

“Then why are you telling me this?” He asked.

“When we go in there, when we see what he’s done to her, I’m going to get angry and I need you to make sure I don’t let that anger get the best of me, I need you to make sure I don’t lose my temper with that man, make sure I do my job.”

“I got your back Haught,” he reassured her. “You ready?”

Nicole nodded and opened her door, stepping out and taking a deep breath of the cool, fresh air. She took a few seconds to calm and collect herself before following Eric up the walkway towards the house.

When they got to the door, Eric looked to her with a raised eyebrow, silently asking if she was ready. When she nodded her head yes, he raised his fist and knocked on the front door.

“Purgatory Sheriff Department!” He called, hand coming to rest on the pistol at his hip when they got a ‘it’s open’ in return from somewhere deep in the house. “Stay on me, keep your eyes open.”

Nicole pushed the front door open, stepping inside the house after Eric. Guns sweeping left then right as they moved slowly through the hallway towards the sound of a tv coming from deeper in the house.

Nicole could feel her heart pounding away, threatening to beat right out of her chest as they sweep each room they pass, family room, dining room, a weird hunting trophy room with different animal heads mounted on the walls.

Stay calm, stay alert. Nicole repeated over and over again in her head, trying not to let her nerves get the better of her.

She hadn’t been in a situation like this since the academy and even then it had just been pretend, training, her life hadn’t really been in danger but, she knew that Eric had her back, that he would see them through whatever was thrown at them,

The noise from the tv got louder as they approached what Nicole believed to be the living room. She entered the room first, gun pointed out in front of her as she turned towards her left then right before training the sights on the man sitting in a lazy boy in front of the tv, beer in hand.

“Haught, there’s someone behind the couch, check it out.” Eric stepped farther into the room, closer to David McDaniels, who didn’t even bother looking up from the tv at them. “Anyone else here Dave?”

Once Nicole was sure that Eric had Dave, she crept towards the couch to their left, taking notice of the leg sticking out from behind it. Quickly holstering her weapon, she rounded the corner of the couch, kneeling next to the petite redheaded woman lying passed out on the floor in a small pool of blood.  

Reaching for the radio attached to her shirt, she spoke into it quickly, eyes roaming over the woman’s unconscious body. “Dispatch, this is Officer Haught requesting an ambulance to our position immediately.”


 

Trent’s eyes flicked up to the clock hanging above the bar for the fourth time since him and Amy had arrived at Shorty’s a little over forty-five minutes ago.

“Shouldn’t have told her not to be late,” Waverly chirped from the other side of the bar, setting another beer in front of him and Amy.

“You jinxed her,” Amy said, reaching over and stealing some of Trent’s nachos off the plate in front of him, where he playfully slapped her hand away.

They have gotten along pretty well since they had arrived at Shorty’s. Trent was funny, joking with and teasing both Amy and Waverly as if he had known them their whole lives. He had a way of putting them both at ease and making them forget that they didn’t particularly care for one another.

Amy noticed a lot of similarities between him and Nicole yet, they were still so different in so many ways.

Trent spoke his mind in a way that Nicole didn’t. Nicole was always respectful in the things she said and while Trent wasn’t disrespectful per say, he did tell it like he sees it and he did say what was on his mind where Nicole would bite her tongue and fake a smile.

He was just as flirty, if not more than Nicole but it was clear that he got all his lines, all his moves from her.

“I did not,” he said, wiping the white foam from his beer off his upper lip with the back of his hand. “I’m pretty sure she just likes to stand me up.”

“Pretty sure being late doesn’t count as standing someone up,” Shorty joined the conversation as he filled a pitcher full of beer from the tap.

Like with Nicole, Shorty had taken a shining to the younger Haught quite quickly. Maybe it was because they were both able to make Waverly smile and laugh so easily. Maybe it was because they were kind to Waverly and couldn’t care less about what her last name was. Maybe it was because they showed Waverly they cared.

Whatever the reason, Shorty was incredibly grateful for the Haught siblings coming into Waverly’s life.

“Can you take this to table three please?” Shorty asked Waverly, handing over the pitcher he just filled.

“Sure thing.”

When he was sure Waverly was out of earshot, Shorty leaned towards the pair in front of him. “So, she really said she loves Waverly?”

Amy nodded.

“Are you sure you're okay talking about this?” Trent asked, laying a hand on her arm.

Amy stared at his hand on her arm for a brief second before nodding. It was such a Nicole thing to do. Making sure she was comfortable with what they were discussing and willing to drop it if she wasn't.

It stung to talk about the fact that Nicole was in love with Waverly, had chosen Waverly over her but she knew that Shorty and Trent needed her help in pushing those two blind idiots together. So yeah, it hurt to do this, be apart of this but she’d do it because Nicole deserved to be happy and Waverly made her happy. And she guess Waverly deserved to be with someone who actually cared about her.

“Think she’d ever admit it the Waverly?” Shorty asked, keeping his eye on where Waverly was at.

“Definitely not with Champ in the picture and even then I’m not sure,” Amy spoke just loud enough to be heard over the roar of the saloon.

She had seen the fear in Nicole’s eyes yesterday when she admitted to loving Waverly. It was clear as day that Nicole was afraid of getting hurt.

“Why?” Shorty asked, leaning his elbows on the bar.

“She's scared of losing Waverly,” Trent answered this time. “She'd rather torture herself being Waverly's friend than not have Waverly at all.”

“So what you're saying is that in order for us to get these two together, we need a miracle?” Shorty sighed, scratching at his salt and pepper goatee.

“Yup,” Trent nodded and Amy hummed in agreement.

“Well then, let's get planning,” Shorty grinned at the pair.


 

When Nicole walked through her front door at past one in the morning. Her shoulders were hunched in defeat, eyes cloudy and distant, blood staining her uniform pants and shirt, Waverly gasped in shock, jumping up from the table where her and Trent had been playing scrabble while waiting for Nicole to get home.

Waverly rushed to Nicole’s side, eyes trailing over her long form, looking for any signs as to where the blood staining her clothing had come from. “Are you okay? What happened?”

Nicole could see the worry, bordering on panic in Waverly’s eyes but she was exhausted, emotionally and physically after having to resuscitate Nancy McDaniels and trying to stop the bleeding from the knife wound in her side while waiting for the ambulance. She just didn’t have it in her to reassure Waverly that she was fine at the moment.

“I’m gonna go shower,” Nicole said, voice emotionless as she stepped around Waverly and headed towards the bathroom, dragging her feet in a way that was completely unlike her.

“Nicky,” Waverly started to follow the redhead, her worrying getting the best of her but Trent stopped her by grabbing her arm as she tried to pass by him.

“Best to let her go at the moment, if she was hurt, she would have gone to the hospital,” Trent said with way more confidence than Waverly felt at the moment. “Why don’t we make her some tea, it’ll help her relax.”

“Okay,” Waverly sighed, tearing her eyes from the hall Nicole had disappeared down and set about making Nicole some tea.

Thirty minutes later, Nicole finally emerged from the bathroom looking just like she had when she had come home, minus the blood stained clothes.

With a brief glance towards the living room, Nicole went to her bedroom and slammed the door behind her, startling both Waverly and Trent.

“Best to leave her alone now?” Waverly questioned.

“Not if you plan on curling up on the couch with me this time,” he smirked at her but she could see the worry in his eyes.

No matter how nonchalant he acted, he was just as worried about Nicole as she was.

“Do you wanna?” She motioned towards Nicole’s room.

She didn’t want to overstep and be in his way even though she was dying to go and make sure Nicole was okay. Nicole was his sister after all and she was sure he would want to be the one to comfort her, help her through whatever it is that is going on with her.

“No, you go ahead, I’m sure she rather it be you than me.”

“If you’re sure?” Waverly asked even though she was already on her feet, with the cup of tea she made Nicole in hand, making her way down the short hallway.

Waverly knocked on the bedroom door tentatively, somewhat unsure if Nicole rather be alone or not.

When there was no answer after a few seconds, that felt like an eternity to Waverly, she knocked again, harder this time and called out to the woman on the other side. “Nicole?”

A muffled ‘what’ was all she got in reply and she took that as permission to enter the room. She opened the door slowly and walked into the room just the same, ready to leave if Nicole changed her mind and told her to.

She shut the door quietly behind her, blinking a few times so her eyes adjusted to the low light of the moon coming from the open window.

Nicole was curled into a ball in the middle of the bed, hugging a pillow to her chest tightly and Waverly’s heart nearly broke in two at the slight. She has never seen Nicole look so small, so vulnerable.

She had seen Nicole vulnerable before, the night Nicole told her about her father but this was entirely different, worse in a way Waverly didn’t quite understand.

“I brought you some tea,” Waverly whispered as she moved slowly to the side of the bed, not wanting to starled the redhead.

“Thanks,” Nicole said, voice hoarse as if she had been crying.

Waverly sat the tea down on the nightstand and moved onto the bed behind Nicole, reaching out and brushing her fingers along Nicole’s cheek. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

Nicole was quiet for a long few seconds before she turned onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. “It wasn’t my blood, Eric and I got a call to the McDaniels’ today.”

Waverly didn’t say anything, just gave Nicole the time she needed and continued to run her fingers along Nicole’s cheek over and over, softly, slowly, hoping it brought the older woman some sort of comfort.

“I thought I prepared myself enough for what we’d fine you know? I’ve seen what David can do before but nothing could prepare me for what we walked in on, for seeing Nancy lying there in a pool of her own blood and David just sitting with his feet propped up with a beer as if his wife wasn’t bleeding out on the floor,” Nicole’s voice broke and she gripped Waverly’s free hand tightly in her own.

She couldn’t get the image of Nancy, a woman barely older than herself, bleeding out slowly out of her head. She couldn’t get the feel of Nancy’s body going limp after she died before Nicole was able to bring her back, out of her head. She couldn’t get the sound of Nancy gasping for air after Nicole had resuscitated her out of her head.

She couldn’t forget them and all she wanted to do was be able to wipe them from her mind and carry on.

“She went limp in my arms, she stopped breathing and I froze, she died and I froze .” The tears that had been welling in her eyes finally fell, slowly at first then faster until they were pouring down her cheeks. “If Eric hadn’t of been there, if he hadn’t of yelled at me to get my ass in gear and give her CPR, she wouldn’t be alive right now, maybe I’m not cut for this, maybe I’m not cut out to be a cop.”

A sob broke through Nicole’s throat and she covered her mouth with the back of her hand, trying to muffle the sound of it.

Nicole wasn’t much of a crier. She knew how to keep her emotions in check, she knew how to keep the tears from falling but every once in awhile she feels something so strongly that she’s unable to stop the sobs from escaping her mouth.

Waverly brushed away Nicole’s tears with the pads of her thumbs then ever so gently grasped her chin, turning her head so their eyes met.

It was heartbreaking to see Nicole, who is so confident in herself, so confident in her career choice, in the path she chose to question all of that, to question who she is.

“Now you listen to me Nicole Haught, you saved Nancy’s life and I know you would have done it with or without Eric’s help.”

Nicole opened her mouth to protest, to argue but Waverly silenced her with a finger to her lips.

“I’m not done,” Waverly told her sternly. “Just because you froze up doesn’t mean that you are not cut out to be an officer, even the best, the experienced freeze from time to time.” She placed her hand on Nicole’s heart, much like Nicole did to her last night. “Nicole, you are a cop in here, you were meant to be a cop, it’s in your blood, it’s who you are.”

“What if I freeze again? What if someone dies next time and I can’t bring them back?” Nicole looked up at her with red puffy eyes, her tears have slowed but have yet to stop completely and Waverly was still brushing them away with her thumbs.

“You won’t.”

She sounded so sure that Nicole almost believed her, almost . There was a voice of doubt in her mind, that sounded exactly like her father that was telling her that she couldn’t do this, that she wasn’t cut out to be a cop.

“But what if I do?”

“You won’t Nicky.” She laid down next to Nicole, opening her arms for Nicole, which Nicole quickly rolled into, laying her head on Waverly’s chest and clutching at her shirt.

She wasn’t usually this clingy, this needy. Years of living with distant parents and distant siblings (expect for Trent), had taught her not to rely on anyone to take care of her, to be there for her in her time of need, to comfort her when she needed it the most.

And for the most part she was fine with that because taking care of herself mentally and emotionally was all she has ever known but she didn’t realize how much she need this, how much she needed someone to hold her while she cried, to comfort her in her time of need.

Waverly pressed a kiss to Nicole hair. “I have faith in you, I have enough faith in you for the both of us, you can do this Nicky, I know you can.”

They stayed like that for awhile, Waverly whispering reassurance to Nicole, while she ran her fingers up and down Nicole back in a soothing manner and Nicole, listening while silent tears fell and soaked into Waverly’s shirt, her father’s voice in her head getting smaller and smaller with each word Waverly said. 

“Distract me?” Nicole asked, voice huskier than normal, her accent more pronounced than usual from all the crying.

“You and Amy broke up.” It was more of a statement than a question. And Waverly had been dying to talk about it since Nicole uttered the words the night before.

She told herself it was because she wanted to make sure Nicole was okay, that she wasn’t upset or hurt over them breaking up but really, it was to put to ease the part of herself that was incredibly jealous of Amy.

“Yeah.” Nicole’s grip on Waverly’s shirt loosened and Waverly feared she’d pull away, that she’d shut down, close herself off.

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

No matter how much Waverly wanted to talk about, wanted to know why they broke up, she’d drop it and never bring it up again if that’s what Nicole wanted.

“There’s not much to talk about,” Nicole shrugged one shoulder. “I liked Amy, I like her but it was just sex.”

She couldn’t tell Waverly the whole truth about why her and Amy called things off and a part of her hated that. As much as she didn’t want Waverly to find out she was in love with her, she felt guilty for not being honest with her.

“So why give it up?” Waverly asked, fingers still moving up at down Nicole’s back, trying to soak up as much of this moment as she can, to soak up the feeling of Nicole in her arms.

It had always been Nicole holding her and don’t get her wrong she loved it, she loved being in Nicole’s arms but there was something special, something right about having Nicole in her arms.

“Because I want more than just sex with someone I like, I don’t just want to have a good time with someone, Waverly.” Nicole sat up some and looked down at Waverly. “I want to be with someone I love, I want a forever with someone I’m in love with and loves me just as much.”

I want forever with you Waverly Earp.

Chapter Text

The smell of bacon grease, coffee, and maple syrup assaulted Waverly’s nose as she took a seat across from her Uncle at their usual table.

The usual hustle and bustle of the diner was a sort of comfort for Waverly. The chatter from the townsfolk filling the booths, the sound of food being prepped and cooked just beyond the small window that separated the diner and the kitchen, the sound of silverware clinking against plates, glasses and coffee mugs hitting the tables with dull thuds, was all familiar and put Waverly at ease.

After the past two days, fighting with Champ (who was still waiting for her to apologize), and taking care of Nicole last night (which she would gladly do over and over again), she needed some time with her Uncle, her rock, the man who raised her as his own.

“So what is it that you and Champ are fighting about?” Curtis asked, handing their menus over to Hetty after they had given their orders.

It was just the two of them this morning, no Champ (thank God, she really didn’t want to see or deal with him at the moment), and no Gus (which she was a little upset about, she missed her Aunt and even though they seen each other at work, it wasn’t enough).

“What makes you think we’re fighting?” Waverly asked, wrapping her hands around her warm coffee mug and bringing it to her lips, taking a sip and humming as the coffee warmed her body.

Nicole . Nicole had been the reason they were fighting.

Just the thought of Nicole had Waverly fighting off a smile. Nicole who was probably still sleeping, still hugging the pillow Waverly had slipped in between them to detach herself from the older woman this morning, probably still snoring away softly in that adorable way of hers. Nicole, who even when her silky red locks were a tangled mess, splashed across her face and, her eyes were still a bit red and puffy from crying most of the night, she was still the most exquisite thing, person, that Waverly has ever laid eyes on.

“He was rather pissy at work yesterday, broke quite a few things in his rage.”

He had to send Champ home half way through the day because the boy was distracted, too caught up in his rage that he ended up breaking the fence they had been hired to repair. He tolerated a lot from that boy but he would not tolerate him messing with his livelihood, with how he took care of his family.  

Champ had a temper, it was nothing new. Waverly knew that he had one but usually he lashed out verbally, never physically and if Waverly was being completely honest with herself, it scared her a bit that he had lashed out physically because he was mad at her.

What if she had went after him when he stormed out after their fight? What if that anger, that rage had been directed at her?

Waverly sighed and ran her fingers through her hair.

“So again, what are you two fighting about?” Her Uncle probed. He wanted to get to the bottom of this, one to make sure his niece was okay and two, he really needed Champ actually doing his job.

“He seen me talking with Nicole and just freaked out,” Waverly mumbled.

She could understand why he had gotten so upset. Her and Nicole had been standing very close, so close that there was hardly any space between them. Her hands had been cupping Nicole’s face in a way that could have looked like they were about to kiss and maybe if Champ hadn’t interrupted, hadn’t been in the picture she might have actually kissed Nicole.

Maybe he was rightful in his anger because she would have kissed Nicole and she probably wouldn’t have been able to stop. And that was the thing, Waverly found herself wanting to kiss Nicole, wanting to be with Nicole, around Nicole more than she ever wanted to kiss Champ, be with him, around him.

That was unfair to Champ, to be with him when she wanted more than anything to be with Nicole. It was unfair to him to pretend to love him when she was so in love with Nicole Haught.  

And she was in love with Nicole, so damn in love with her. So much so that it hurt to not be with her, to be away from her, to pretend that she didn’t love her.

“Did he have something to freak out over?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

“What do you mean? We were just talking?” She played dumb. Just because she could admit to herself that she was in love with Nicole, doesn’t mean that she was ready to say it out loud, to admit it to someone else.

“Waverly, I’m not stupid and I’m not blind, you care for Nicole, a lot.” He reached across the table and grasped one of her hands in his.

He wanted her to be honest with him but more importantly, he wanted her to be honest with herself. He wanted his Waverly to be happy and he knew that since Nicole Haught walked into her life, she’s the happiest she’s ever been.

“Of course I do, she’s my best friend.”

“It’s more than that Waverly, I see the way you look at her, see the way you light up when she walks into a room, hear the way you talk about her.”

Waverly looked away from him, her fingers drumming against her coffee mug. She was scared to tell him the truth, tell him that she was in love with a woman.

Sure he seemed calm and accepting at the possibility of her having feelings for Nicole but how would he react at her having feelings for Nicole, a woman, becoming more than a possibility, becoming a reality. How would Gus react?

She’s never known either of them to be homophobic but that didn’t mean they couldn’t freak out right? She was teriffed that they would hate her, be disgusted with her and she’d lose them and she couldn’t handle losing the two people who raised her, who loved her, who were always there.

“Gus and I don’t care if you are in love with a woman, if you date a woman,” he told her, squeezing her hand gently. “We will love you no matter what Waverly, we want you to be with someone who makes you happy, someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated, someone who understands how lucky they are to have you and if that person is Nicole Haught, then kiddo, you gotta go for it, you gotta take the risk because Haught is a real catch and someone will see that and swoop her up if you don’t.”

Tears pricked at Waverly’s eyes at her Uncle’s words, his support, his love. This man, who was practically her father, who cared for her more than Ward Earp ever did, who was the only family (besides Gus), she hadn’t lost, who hadn’t left her, would accept her, love her no matter what, no matter who she loved and that?

It meant everything to her and it took a huge weight off her shoulders and eased the fear that had gripped her heart like a vice.

Waverly got up from her seat and moved to the side of the booth Curtis was sitting in. She slid in beside him as he turned sideways to face her, opening his arms up for her.

She launched herself into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his neck and buried her face in his chest, like she used to do when she was a little girl and had nightmares about the night her daddy was killed and Willa was taken.

“I love her,” Waverly whispered into his chest and his arms tightened around her. “I love her so much it scares me.”

And it did scare her, it scared her to death but at the same time, it filled her with this lightness, with this overwhelming amount of joy.

She never knew love could be so scary, yet so exhilarating all at once. She never knew love could feel like this. She never knew that she could love someone so much.

Sure she loved Champ in a way but she didn’t love him in the same way she loved Nicole. She wasn’t in love with him like she was in love with Nicole.

“I know kiddo, I know.” He kissed the top of her head

“I need to break up with Champ.”

The thought of not having Champ in her life, nothing having the one constant thing in her life used to terrify her but now? Now, she had Nicole and Nicole had quickly become a constant in her life, had quickly become a strong, steady presence in her life, had become someone Waverly knew she could count on.

“I think that’s for the best, Waverly.”


 

When Nicole finally rolled out of bed that morning at half past ten, her apartment was empty save for McGonagall, who had woken Nicole up by meowing in her face to be fed.

Nicole shuffled into the kitchen with McGonagall on her heels, still meowing away. “Alright, alright I’m going, no need to be so impatient.”

McGonagall’s answer to this was to meow louder and swat playfully at Nicole's ankles.

Nicole leaned down and scooped the orange tabby up in her arms. “What are you doing, huh?” She cooed at her as she scratched under her chin.

It was a ritual they did most morning, not the whole McGonagall meowing into her face until she woke up but McGonagall playing with her feet as she walked to the kitchen.

It was Nicole’s favorite part of her mornings. The familiar routine brought her a sense of comfort, made no matter where they were feel like home.

When Nicole had first left home after joining the police academy, she left McGonagall with her then girlfriend, Jennifer, to look after. Two weeks into her training and she missed home terribly, missed her grandpa, Trent, Jennifer, and most of all McGonagall. Two weeks and the crappy, rundown apartment she was staying in felt nothing like a home. She was homesick and lonely and while she enjoyed her training and everything she was learning, she wanted to go home, go back to working on her grandpa’s farm.

After talking with his sister nearly every night and noticing how depressed she was becoming and how utterly homesick she was, Trent put McGonagall in his truck and drove two days to give Nicole a slice of home.  

Coming home to McGonagall and not an empty apartment after a excruciatingly long day of training made all the difference to Nicole, made things bearable. Waking up every morning at four a.m. and having McGonagall chasing her feet started Nicole’s day off smiling.

Sure, she had still been a bit homesick but having McGonagall there with her made being away from home and the people she loved hurt just a little less. Having McGonagall there with her made her crappy apartment feel a little bit more like home.

Setting McGonagall down on the kitchen counter, Nicole opened the cabinet she kept McGonagall’s food in, grabbing a can out and shutting the cabinet. She opens the can, nose wrinkling in disgust at the smell.

“How do you eat this stuff?” She asked as she dumped the can’s contents into McGonagall’s food bowl that sat on the floor next to the fridge.

In reply McGonagall brushed her head against Nicole’s leg before wandering over to her food bowl.

Standing up, Nicole caught sight of a note with her name on it attached to the fridge. She rinsed the can out and tossed it into the recycle bin before drying her hands and grabbing the note.

She ran her fingers over neat handwriting that definitely did not belong to her brother. Taking a seat at the kitchen table, she unfolds the note, eyes skimming over the page before going back to the top.

Nicky, I fed McGonagall before I left, so don’t let her fool you into feeding her again-

Nicole looked up from the paper in her hands and towards her cat, who was happily munching away on her food. “You’re gonna get fat.”

McGonagall flicked her tail at her owner as if to say ‘I don’t care’ and continued to eat her food.

Nicole shook her head with a small laugh and turned her attention back to the note.

-I know that last night was hard for you and I’m sure today is going to be hard as well but, just remember that I believe in you Nicole, that I have faith in you, remember that you are a good cop, that you are good at your job. I know that you know deep down that you are an amazing cop, you just have to believe in yourself like I do. Trent and I are picking Chinese up for dinner, so just text me what you want. Have a good day at work Nicky.

P.S. On your way into work, stop by the diner there’s a plate of pancakes waiting there for you.

P.P.S. You snore too but it’s pretty adorable.

Nicole folded the note back up with a grin and pushed herself out of her chair to get ready for work.

Once Nicole was dressed, she stared at her reflection in the full length mirror hanging on the back of her bedroom door, hands running along her leather utility belt absentmindedly.

She tried not to let what happened yesterday get to her, she tried not to let it overtake her mind. If she thought about freezing up last night too much then she wouldn’t want to go into work, she wouldn’t want to face Eric or anyone else at the station.

Nicole brought her hand up to the left breast pocket on her shirt, feeling Waverly’s note tucked safely inside.

Waverly was right, Nicole knew deep down that she was a good cop. Her grandpa had trained her to be more than a decent cop, a better cop than her father. But there was always those doubts that lingered in the back of her mind, day in and day out and, last night had brought all those doubts to the surface and suddenly she couldn’t ignore them any longer.

Waverly’s words, written and spoken had eased a good bit of them, quited her father’s voice in her mind, made those doubts bearable again. And for that, Nicole would be forever grateful.

With one final look at herself in the mirror, Nicole placed her stetson on her head and left her bedroom, collecting her keys and phone before locking up and leaving her apartment.


 

 

After stopping by the diner to pick up the breakfast Waverly ordered for her and ordering a stack of pancakes for Eric, Nicole headed to the station.

“Morning Haught,” Eric greeted as she walked through the station towards her desk, dropping the takeout box of pancakes on his desk as she passed.

He studied her as she made her way to her desk. Her shoulders were slightly slumped, she wasn’t standing as tall as usual and she looked like she didn’t get more than a few hours of sleep.

He was worried about her. Last night was hard on her, hell it was hard on him and he’s been on the job going on ten years now.

He wasn’t sure how she was handling things but he hoped that she was alright. No matter if she did freeze up last night, she was a great cop. She had more training than most (perk of growing up in a family of law enforcement), she was smart, alert, she had a strong view of right and wrong but most importantly, she had instincts.

If she learned from last night and not let it eat away at her, Eric knew that she could go far in her career, probably even be sheriff one day. And he would root for her every step of the way, guild her if needed, give her every ounce of knowledge and advice he had to offer.

“You brought me breakfast?” He asked when he opened up the takeout box. “Have a told you that you’re my favorite lately?”

Nicole didn’t answer him, Eric wasn’t even sure that she had even heard him. She was just staring at her open takeout box, gripping tightly to the plastic fork in her hand.

Eric rolled his chair towards her desk. “Nicole.”

Nicole looked up at him, blinking her eyes a few times, clearing that far away look that clouded her eyes. “Yeah?”

“You okay?” He asked, blue eyes shining with concern.

“I’m good,” Nicole nodded, her grip loosening on her folk a bit, as she stabbed a pancake with it.

“You know, my second year on the job there was this out of towner driving drunk down main street and this family of five had just left the diner when the driver lost control of his car.” His voice had taken on a rough tone, as if his emotions were getting the better of him. “The family was walking down the sidewalk when the car ran up on the sidewalk and struck the youngest boy.”

He could still hear the sounds of that mother screaming as her baby boy laid pinned under that car. It was a sound he was likely never to forget.

“I arrived on scene before EMTs and I saw that little boy under the front tire and there was so much blood, I didn’t even know that a body so small could hold so much blood and I froze, I just stood still and stared while the mother screamed and his siblings cried and his father tried to figure out a way to pull him free.”

“Did the boy make it?” Nicole asked, looking at him with glassy eyes.

“Yeah, he made it,” Eric nodded. “But my point is, that we all freeze Nicole, we all see something on this job that we can’t handle, that our brains can’t process and we shut down, even the best of us and you, Nicole, are one of the best rookies I’ve seen in my ten years on this job.”

That pulled a small smile from the younger officer but it was short lived.

“We all freeze and you can either let it eat away at you or you can keep going and not give up, let it make you stronger, let it make you a better officer.”

“Thanks Eric.” Nicole gave him another small smile, twisting her fork into her pancakes, ripping them apart.

He was right. She could either let that one moment get the better of her, let it strip away her confidence and her ability to do her job. Or, she could learn from it and be better, become a better officer.

“Anytime Haught,” he smiled and pushed himself back to his desk. “Hurry up and eat, Nedley wants us to go see Nancy and try to talk her into getting a restraining order on her husband.”


 

 

When Nicole arrived home that night from another exhausting and frustrating day, filled with her and Eric trying and failing to convince Nancy to get a restraining order, paperwork, and watching David McDaniels walk out of the station after making bail with the help of his lawyer, Constance Clootie.

Music and laughter greeted her as she locked the front door then untied and kicked her work boots off. She couldn’t help but to smile at the sound of Waverly’s laughter. It was like music to her ears.

The sound of Waverly’s laughter was enough to wash away all the frustrations from her day, it was enough to make Nicole feel better and it was definitely something she could get used to coming home to.  

She shouldn’t get used to it though, she knew she shouldn’t. It was only a matter of time before Waverly and Champ made up. It was only a matter of time before Waverly went back to her apartment and Nicole wouldn’t come home to the younger woman anymore, wouldn’t get to crawl into bed with her at night anymore.

Nicole hung her hat on the hook by the door before making her way towards the living room where the music and laughter was coming from. She leaned against the archway separating the living room and kitchen and watched her brother and the woman she’s in love with slow dance around the room together to some old country song.

Trent caught sight of Nicole and smirked at her, pulling Waverly closer as they continued to dance.

Nicole glared at her brother as white hot envy shot through her and settling somewhere deep in her chest.

She should be the one dancing around her living room with Waverly. She should be the one dancing with Waverly to the ‘ Her ’ playlist she made. She should be the one that Waverly’s arms are wrapped around. She should be the one with Waverly’s head resting on her shoulder.

She should be the one with Waverly in every single way, not her brother and definitely not Champ Freakin’ Hardy. If only she was brave enough to tell Waverly how she feels.

Trent spun Waverly around and Waverly grinned when she saw Nicole, dropping Trent’s hand.

Nicole was struck by how breathtaking Waverly’s smile was, how beautiful her eyes were when she was truly smiling, how they seemed to shine. She’d never tire of the way Waverly was able to steal the breath right from her lungs. She’d never tire of the way her heart beat wildly in her chest every time Waverly’s smile was directed at her.

She’d never tire of the way her body, her heart, her soul reacted to Waverly Earp.

“Hey, I didn’t hear you come in,”

“Yeah, well you seemed pretty busy.” There was a bite to her tone, that jealousy creeping in, causing both Waverly and Trent to raise an eyebrow at her.

She shouldn’t be jealous, she had no reason to be jealous. Trent didn’t have a thing for Waverly and even if he did, he’d never make a move on Waverly knowing how Nicole feels about her. But that didn’t stop her from being jealous, that didn’t stop the bite in her tone, the glare she sent her brother.

“I’m just gonna get something to eat, it’s been a long day,” she mumbled, turning on her heels, moving towards the kitchen when Waverly called out, causing her to turn back around.

“Oh, we didn’t pick up dinner,” Waverly said, tone apologetic as well as her smile. “Trent suggested we wait until you got home.”

Waverly smiling at her, even an apologetic smile eased Nicole’s jealously. Waverly had that effect on her, was able to ease whatever she was feeling with just a simple smile.

“That’s okay, I’ll go pick something up,” Nicole gave Waverly a small smile. “What do you guys want?”

“I’ll go get dinner,” Trent offered, motioning Nicole over towards them as he turned to Waverly. “You know, Nicky is a way better dancer than I am, she taught me everything I know, so you two dance and I’ll get dinner.”  

Without waiting for any objections, Trent grabbed his phone as he quickly left the room, typing out a quick text to Shorty, Amy and Chrissy, letting them know that part one of their plan was in motion.

Once Trent was out of the room and they were left alone, Nicole moved to stand in front of Waverly and held her hand out to the younger woman. “Dance with me?”

There was no way in hell that she was going to pass up the chance to dance with Waverly Earp, not when it could be her only chance to dance with her.

The opening notes to ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ played throughout the living room and Nicole couldn’t help but to smile at how fitting the song was.

She couldn’t help falling in love with Waverly, she never even had a choice. One look at Waverly and she was a goner. Waverly had stolen her heart the second their eyes met.  

“I’d love to,” Waverly whispered, placing her hand in Nicole’s as she let her other hand come to rest on Nicole’s shoulder.

Nicole’s grasped Waverly’s hip lightly, pulling her just a bit closer until there was barely any space between them and led them into a simple sway.

Nicole marveled at the way her and Waverly seen to fit together perfect. The way they moved together, so in sync with one another, as if they were made to spend their whole lives dancing with just each other.

She basked in the way Waverly’s hand fit in hers. The way Waverly’s warm body felt pressed against her. The way Waverly stared up at her with those doe like eyes.

Nicole could have sworn she saw something akin to love, to want, to lust shining in those eyes. And that look had Nicole’s heart beating rapidly against her rib cage, that had the walls she tried so hard to keep around her heart crumbling down, that had her wanting to throw caution to the wind and just kiss the hell out of Waverly.  

“Waverly,” Nicole breathed out, removing her hand from Waverly’s hip and bringing it up to cup her cheek.

She was going to do it. She was going to put everything on the line, her heart, their friendship, everything. She was going to finally, finally give in to her feelings for Waverly. She was going to kiss Waverly, tell her that she loves her, that she’s so fuckin’ in love with her that it hurt, consequences be damned.  

“You know, I don’t get to dance like this very often,” Waverly said quietly, effectively stopping the words from leaving Nicole’s mouth, stopping her from leaning in and connecting their lips.

Nicole suppressed a sigh and dropped her hand from Waverly’s cheek back down to her hip picking up their dancing once more.

The time wasn’t right. She couldn’t just confess her love for this woman when Waverly was still with Champ. She couldn’t just kiss her when Champ is still in the picture. She couldn’t make them cheaters, she couldn’t make Waverly a cheater.

She just had to wait it out, wait until Waverly finally breaks up with Champ and then tell her how she feels.

She didn’t want to wait any longer, she didn’t want to hold it in any longer but she knew that it would be better if she did.

“No?” Nicole questioned as she led Waverly into a spin before pulling her back in.

“Champ’s idea of dancing is basically having sex on the dance floor,” Waverly said, leaning into Nicole more as they continued to sway side to side slowly.

She was trying very hard not to just stand up in her tippy toes, grasp the collar of Nicole’s uniform shirt and bring her down for a kiss. But God, she wanted nothing more than to just kiss her and let everything else fade away until it was just the two of them.

“That’s a damn shame,” Nicole drawled and that husky tone had Waverly squirming against her as heat shot through her and settled between her legs. “Because you are an amazing dancer.”

“Thanks,” Waverly laid her head against Nicole’s chest, letting the hand on Nicole’s shoulder to slide down and wrap around her waist. “I’m breaking up with Champ tomorrow.”

“Yeah?” Nicole kissed the top of Waverly’s head then laid her cheek against the top of Waverly’s head, eyes closing as she hummed along to the new song playing.

“Mhm,” Waverly nodded against Nicole's chest.

Nicole could feel hope surge within her. If all went as planned, if Waverly actually breaks up with Champ tomorrow then this time tomorrow Nicole could tell Waverly how she feels, this time tomorrow she may finally be able to kiss Waverly.


 

It was 5:30 A.M. when Nicole’s phone started ringing almost non stop. After the third call, Nicole separated herself from Waverly and rolled out of bed, grabbing her phone from the night stand.

She stumbled towards the bathroom to keep from waking both Waverly and Trent, though she supposed that if the ringing phone didn’t wake Waverly nothing would. Waverly slept like the dead, somehow took up most of the bed with her tiny body and snored in the cutest way and Nicole couldn’t help but to fall in love with her even more for it.

Nicole closed the bathroom door and answered the phone. “Haught.”

“Nicole, I need you out at the Earp homestead immediately,” Sheriff Nedley’s gruff voice floated through the line, instantly waking Nicole fully.

“The Earp homestead Sir?”

She didn’t even know there was an Earp homestead. She didn’t even know that Waverly owned a piece of land. Maybe she should start listening to what the people around town have to say about the Earps.

“Yes, it’s Curtis McCreedy.”

Chapter Text

It was nearing 6:15 when Nicole pulled her squad car to a stop in between Eric’s and Nedley’s. Blue and red lights flashing against the heavy rain that was beating down on all around Nicole’s car. Thunder roared in the distance as lightning cracked across the sky, lightening up the pre dawn sky.

Nicole always found thunderstorms to be beautiful, to be calming, relaxing but now? The thunderstorms she used to find comfort in as a kid, as a teenager just filled her with dread.

Somewhere beyond the flashing blue and red lights from their squad cars, Waverly’s Uncle was likely dying or already dead and the thought of Waverly losing someone else she loved, another family member, tore Nicole up inside.

She was hoping for the best though, hoping against all hope that Curtis was okay, that he was alive, breathing for Waverly’s sake. She’s lost so much, lost so many people, so many loved ones that she didn’t deserve to lose one more person. Waverly Earp deserved to be happy, she deserved more than losing every person she’d ever loved.

Heaving a sigh and resisting the urge to run her fingers through her hair and ruin her braid, Nicole grabbed her department issued rain jacket, quickly tugging it on before stepping out of the car. She regretted never putting her umbrella back in the car after using it last week.  

The pitter-patter of fat heavy raindrops hitting her stetson evened out her breathing and helped  eased the anxiety that had settled into the pit of her stomach on the ride over.

She headed towards the two figures huddled together next to what looked like an worn down cattle pin, one she instantly recognized as Eric’s tall lanky form and the other looked suspiciously a lot like Champ.

Standing tall, Nicole took quick and long strides, through the freezing cold rain towards the pair.

“Eric,” Nicole said loud enough to be heard over the rain.

Both Eric and Champ turned to look at her, matching haunted looks in their eyes. Eric’s hands shook slightly as he handed a metal clipboard with a cover over to Nicole. She wondered if it was because of the rain or because of whatever had happened to Curtis.

“Nedley wants you to take his statement then get both him and Gus to the station.” Eric nodded into the distance where Nicole assumed Nedley and Gus must be before heading off in that direction.

Both Nicole and Champ watched him go until the rain swallowed him up and they could no longer see him.

Nicole turned to a shaking Champ, taking in his soaking wet blue jeans and equally as soaked white T-shirt.

“Here.” She pulled her jacket off and held it out to him. “Put this on.”

She may not like the guy, she may think that he’s not worth the dirt under her boots but she wasn’t an asshole. She couldn’t just leave him standing out here in the freezing rain with nothing but a thin soaked T-shirt and soaked jeans on.

Champ narrowed his eyes at the offered jacket and she was sure he wasn’t going to take it just to spite her.

After a few seconds he pulled his shaky hands out of his pockets and grasped the jacket, mumbling. “Thanks.”

She gave his a quick nod of her head in response before slipping into work mood, lifting the cover of the clipboard up just enough to be able to write and keep the rain from getting on the papers. “Can you tell me what happened here?”

“We had an early start this morning, before dawn ‘cause we didn’t get much work done yesterday and uh we were loading up the gear into the back of Cu-” he stopped there, trying to swallow past the lump that had formed in his throat.  

Curtis was a good man. He had always been nice to Champ even though Champ knew that he didn’t care for him very much and only put with him because of Waverly. Curtis had given him a job straight out of high school working as a ranch hand/handyman. He had helped Champ buy his truck, taught him how to work said truck himself.

Curtis had taught him everything his dad didn’t. Curtis had given him money time and time again to take Waverly out on proper dates (not that he ever did). Curtis tried to turn him into a man deserving of Waverly (not that it ever really worked).

“Curtis’ truck when we saw lights off into the distance coming from the Earp homestead.” He shuffled his feet as Nicole continued to write down his every word, trying to keep the paper from getting wet.

She didn’t see why they couldn’t do this back at the station, where it was warm and she wasn’t getting soaked to the bone without her jacket on.

“So we got in the truck and came to check it out, he told me to stay in the truck as he took his gun and got out the truck, the next thing I know there was screaming and I-I drove off to get the Sheriff.”

“You heard Curtis screaming and you just left him?” Nicole asked, tone disbelieving.

Was Champ really that much of a coward that he wouldn’t go help Curtis? Even for just Waverly’s sake?

“I panicked,” he said, eyes flashing with anger. “I’d like to see you do any better.”

Reframing from rolling her eyes and sighing, Nicole pushed on. “What happened after you got Sheriff Nedley?”

“They found him dead,” he choked out around the lump in his throat, the unshed tears in his eyes finally falling and rolling down his cheeks, mixing with the rain. “His head torn clean off.”

Nicole’s eyebrows nearly rose to her hairline and she felt her stomach drop, her heart squeezing painfully in her chest.

“Waverly,” she breathed out so softly Champ couldn’t hear.

Waverly was going to be heartbroken, devastated and there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t take away the heartbreak Waverly would feel, the pain. She couldn’t lessen her loss. She could only be there for Waverly and hope that that would be enough.

She didn’t know Curtis very well. She had only spoken to him a few, very brief times. Of course, she knew about him. Waverly had told her countless stories from her childhood, most if not all featuring Curtis.

From Waverly’s stories, she knew that he was a great man, one of honor and integrity. He was a kindhearted man. The kind of man who took in Waverly and raised her as his own. The kind of man that would have taken Wynonna in if she had not been so broken, so traumatized (Waverly’s words not hers). The kind of man who believed wholeheartedly in Waverly and paid for every one of her college courses.

He was the kind of man who deserved to live a full life, to watch the child he raised grow up, fall in love and get married. He was the kind of man who deserved to die peacefully in his sleep, not brutally murdered.

“Come on.” Nicole motioned for Champ to follow her as she made her way back to her car. “Let’s get you out of this rain and warm while I find Gus.”

She tucked the cold metal clipboard under her arm, digging in her pockets for her keys, her mind on one thing and one thing alone; Waverly .

“Does Waverly know?” Champ asked effectively breaking Nicole from her thoughts as she unlocked her car and opening the driver back door for him.

Any other time Nicole would take great pleasure in putting Champ in the backseat of her cruiser but now, it just filled her with dread.

“No, Nedley told me not to tell her.”

“She’s going to be upset, pissed that you didn’t tell her, didn’t bring her,” he remarked, holding onto the car door, one foot inside the car and by the look on his face, he took great pleasure in the fact.

She wanted to punch the almost smug look off his stupid face. Was really now the time for their dislike for each other get in the way of them being there for Waverly?

As much as she hated it, Waverly was going to need the both of them to get through this. She was going to need all the love and support in the world right now and they couldn’t let their feelings get in the way of that. Hopefully Champ knew and understood that.

“I know,” she sighed. She had barely been up for an hour and already she was ready for the day to be over with. “But if it’s as bad as you say, it’s best she’s not here, she doesn’t need to see him like that.”

Once he was settled in the backseat, Nicole shut the door and opened the driver door, slipping inside to insert the key into the ignition. She turned the key, starting the car up and turned the heater on full blast.

“Stay put, I’ll be back in a few.” It was useless to tell him to stay put. The doors to the backseat could only be opened from the outside and with the metal caging separating the front and back seats, so he was stuck back there until someone let him out.

With one last look towards Champ, Nicole made her way to where Eric had disappeared into the rain some time ago. She seriously regretted giving Champ her jacket, she was cold and soaked to the bones and she was likely to get sick from this.

She felt horrible for thinking about herself. What was a potential cold compared to losing a husband, losing an Uncle?  

It took her a few minutes of trekking through the rain and mud to find Eric, Nedley, and Gus huddled together under an umbrella next to a bodybag and the medical examiner.  

“Mrs. McCreedy,” Nicole said softly when she stopped in front of the trio. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Waverly isn’t with you right?” Gus croaked, her eyes red and puffy, arms wrapped tightly around herself as she waited for Nicole to answer.

“No ma’am.” Nicole shook her head, gripping her belt tightly to keep from hugging the older woman. No matter how much Nicole wanted to provide some sort of comfort, she wasn’t sure how Gus would react to being hugged at the moment, let alone by someone she hardly knew. “She was still asleep when I left.”

“Good, that’s good,” Gus mumbled, eyes glossing over with a fresh wave of tears. “She doesn’t need to see him like this.

Nicole’s nails bit into the leather of her belt as she resisted the urge to go over and hug Gus. She couldn’t help it, not really. She was a hugger, add that on top of the fact that she always had this need to comfort people who needed it, meant that she was always restraining  herself when it came to people she hardly knew.

“Let’s get you out of this rain,” Nedley said, motioning for Nicole to grab the umbrella and escort Gus to the car. “Officer Haught will take you and Champ down to the station, I have a few more questions for the both of you then you two can go home and grieve in peace.”  

Nicole ducked under the umbrella, taking ahold of the handle then led Gus towards her car.  “Come with me please, Mrs. McCreedy.”


 

When Trent had woken her up this morning and said that Nicole needed her at the station immediately, Waverly had feared the worse, panicked that something may have happened to Wynonna.

She had gotten ready in record time, throwing on the first shirt she could find which happened to be one of Nicole’s academy shirts. The smell of leather, cinnamon, and gun oil, the smell of Nicole on the shirt calmed her just a bit.

That anxiety was still there, that uneasiness was still settled in the pit of her stomach but being wrapped up in Nicole’s scent helped ease it just the tiniest bit.

Trent drove them to the station in Waverly’s jeep. It was barely a five minute drive from Nicole’s apartment but to Waverly it felt like it took a life time. She had tried calling Wynonna several times and each time the call went to voicemail, a wave of nausea washed over her, threatening to bring up whatever remained in her stomach.

She tried calling Gus and Curtis as well and each call went unanswered all the same. Trent wouldn’t tell her what was going on, kept saying he didn’t know what was going on, or why Nicole had called them into the station at 7 in the morning but the troubled look in his eyes told her otherwise.

What had happened? How bad was it that Nicole couldn’t just tell her over the phone? How bad was it that no one was answering their phones (not that it was uncommon for Wynonna to ignore her calls)? How bad was it that Trent couldn’t even look her in the eyes?

When Trent pulled up to the station, Waverly was out of the jeep and running through the rain into the station before he had a chance to put the jeep in park.

Nicole stood from her desk the second she saw Waverly rush into the station and Waverly made a beeline for her.

“What happened?” She asked as Nicole looked down at her with sad, sorrow filled eyes. “What happened Nicole?”

Nicole opened and closed her mouth a few times, not entirely sure if she was going to say something or not, tell Waverly or not.

Nedley had given her a direct order not to. He had told her that it wasn’t her place, that Gus would tell Waverly or he would. Nicole had never wanted to disobey a direct order as much as she wanted to right now.

The way Waverly was looking at her, with those worry and fearful eyes. Nicole wanted to comfort her, do anything to rid that look of worry and fear from her eyes.

“Please,” Waverly pleaded.

She knew telling Waverly that her uncle was dead wouldn’t be a comfort, would devastate her but she hated not being able to tell her when she was begging for her to.

“Haught,” Eric warned from his desk.

“I-I, I can’t,” Nicole stuttered, not meeting her eyes.

Nicole had never not looked her in the eyes, never not met her gaze. Nicole was one of the few people that always looked her in the eyes when they talked. Nicole was her person, the one person besides Gus, Curtis, and Shorty that she knew she could always count on to tell her the truth.

Nicole was her person and the fact that she wouldn’t look her in the eyes and tell her what the hell was going on scared the hell out of her.

“Nicole! Please!” Waverly practically screamed at the women in uniform, her panic creeping into her voice. She gripped the sleeve of Nicole’s shirt, barely noticing that it’s soaked, that Nicole is shaking slightly. “Is it Wynonna?”

“Miss Earp.”

Waverly looked down the hall where the voice had come from, seeing Sheriff Nedley sticking his head out the doorway of one of the interrogation rooms. Nedley waved her over and without another look at Nicole, Waverly let go of her shirt and rushed towards Nedley.

Each step she took towards him made her stomach lurched violently, her heart beat erratically in her chest. She couldn’t swallow past the lump that had formed in her throat and each step she took filled her with dread.

Nedley’s lips were set in a grim line, his eyes were just as troubled as Trent’s had been, mixed with the same sorrow in Nicole’s eyes and just as haunted as she remembered them being the night her daddy died and Willa was taken.

Scared no longer defined what she was feeling. Absolute terror was a bit closer but still not the right word.

She knew that whatever she was going to find in the room beyond Nedley’s back was going to possibly destroy her, completely change her life and most like not for the better. She knew that nothing good could come from the way Trent, Nicole, and Nedley were acting, the looks in their eyes.

First thing Waverly saw when she entered the room was Champ sitting in one of the chairs, clothes soaking wet and wearing a Purgatory Sheriff’s Department rain jacket with a patch saying ‘Haught’ over the right breast pocket.

He was wringing his hands in front of him, staring down at the table, trying to make himself look small in a way that was so unlike him.

Champ was a loud guy, always drawing attention to himself, always wanting to be the center of attention. He had always been that way even as a kid and to see him trying not to draw attention to himself, trying to make himself look smaller, added to the worry she already felt.

The second the she noticed was Gus pacing back and forth behind Champ, red rimmed and puffy eyes. Waverly had only ever seen Gus cry twice in her whole life. Once after Willa had been taken and the second time was when Wynonna had been admitted into a mental institution.

So to see her crying now confirmed Waverly’s thought that whatever had happened was terrible, would probably be unbearable.

She scanned the small interrogation for her Uncle. He would tell her what was going on, he would look her in the eyes and tell her exactly what happened, no beating around the brush, no bullshit, just the truth no matter if it hurt.

Her Uncle Curtis was an honest man. He always told her how things were, never sugarcoated anything, never lied to her. He always told her the truth no matter how hard it would be for her to hear, for her to swallow.

He never treated her like some naive kid that couldn’t handle the truth, that needed to be protected. He treated her like an adult even when she was a kid. He gave her the same respect that Nicole did but unlike Nicole, he would actually tell her what the hell was going on.

When she didn’t seem him anywhere in the room, everything started to fall into place. The looks everyone had been giving her. The way Nicole couldn’t bring herself to meet her eyes, the way she had stumbled over her words when Waverly had been standing in front of her, the way Nicole’s eyes had been filled with so much pain and sorrow.

Something had happened to Curtis, something terrible and the fact that they were at the station instead of the hospital meant that he was probably already gone.

“Waverly, maybe you should sit down,” Nedley said softly, motioning to the chair across the table from Champ.

A strangled sob broke free from Waverly’s throat and tears welled up in her eyes. She covered her mouth with her hand, trying to stop the next sob from escaping. Her legs gave away and she crumbled to the floor.

“What happened to him?” She asked, barely above a whisper.

She was vaguely aware of Gus wrapping her arms around her, pulling her into a tight embrace. All she could feel was the hot tears rolling down her cheeks, her heart constricting with every painful beat, her lungs burning as she tried to pull enough oxygen into them.

“Where is he?” Waverly asked through broken sobs, nails digging into the arm wrapped around her. “Where’s Uncle Curtis, Gus?”

“Honey,” Gus started, rocking them back and forth, running her fingers through her niece's hair, trying to calm her in the same way she used to when Waverly was a little girl. “I’m so sorry, you’re uncle had a heart attack this morning.”

Everything Gus said sounded muffled to Waverly’s ear, as if she was under water. She struggled to pull air into her lungs, to breathe.

“H-h-he can’t be g-gone, I-I-I just saw him yes-yesterday,” Waverly gasped, barely pulling in enough air.

“Waverly, you gotta calm down and breathe okay?” Gus pleaded with her niece, who was taking in short gasps of air.

“I-I-I c-can’t.” Waverly was tapping her chest, looking up at Gus with wide panicked eyes.

She had gone through a similar thing the night Ward had been killed, panicked and hyperventilating. She couldn’t remember what had calmed her down enough to be able to breathe properly but she knew it was something that Wynonna had did.

Nedley looked to Champ, waiting to see if he was going to jump in and help his girlfriend but he just sat at that table, staring down at Waverly and Gus as if nothing was happening.

Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Nedley stuck his head out the door of the interaction room and yelled. “Haught!”

He knew that if anyone would be able to calm Waverly down it would be Nicole. The two had this deep connection that he had never seen between two people before. They were like the missing pieces in each others lives, they made each other whole.

Nicole jumped up from her desk, so fast that she banged her knee into the side causing her to curse under her breath and otherwise ignore it.

She practically ran to the room, in a rush to make sure Waverly was okay.  Of course, she knew that Waverly wouldn’t be okay in any way after finding out that her uncle had died but still, Nicole needed to see her.

When she got to the doorway, Nicole scanned the room quickly, looking for Waverly and finding her huddled on the floor with Gus, hyperventilating as her Aunt spoke softly to her, trying to calm her.

Nedley grasped Nicole’s arm, pulling her to the side before she could get any further into the room. “Calm her down, get her breathing normally or we’re gonna have to call rescue.”

“Yes, Sir.”

As soon as Nedley let go of her arm, Nicole was moving forward and dropping to her knees in front of Waverly and Gus, barely noticing the pain of her knees hitting the tile floor hard.

“May I?” Nicole asked Gus and she could hear Champ scoff from somewhere behind her but she just ignored him and focused on Waverly and Gus.

Gus nodded and let go of Waverly, giving Nicole the room she needed.

“Waverly,” Nicole called softly to the younger woman, watching her take in a short, ragged breath, watching her clench at her chest as tears rolled steadily down her cheeks.

Waverly didn’t look at her, just stared at the floor. Nicole wasn’t even sure that Waverly had heard her.

It killed her to see Waverly like this. She knew how much Curtis had meant to Waverly. She knew how hard this was for Waverly and she wished she could take that pain away, wished she could have somehow saved Curtis.

“Waverly, look at me,” Nicole whispered, cupping the younger girl’s cheeks with both hands, her thumbs rubbing soft circles. “Look at me please.”

When Waverly finally looked at her, eyes red and puffy, tears still falling, Nicole gave her a small encouraging smile. “Good girl, now I need you to breathe baby, okay? Breath with me, in and out.”

“Okay,” Waverly wheezed, trying to match her breathing to Nicole steady slow breaths.

Waverly placed her hand against Nicole’s slightly damped shirt, searching out her heart. She needed to feel it beating against her palm, needed to feel it’s strong and steady rhythm to help ground her.

“There you go, Waves, just like that.”

They stayed on the floor like that for a while, just looking into each other's eyes, breathing together. Nicole wiping away every tear that fell from Waverly’s eyes. Waverly’s hand never once leaving Nicole’s chest as her breath slowly evened out.

Gus and Nedley were thankful that Waverly had someone like Nicole. Someone able to calm her down, someone willing to calm her down unlike that pathetic excuse for a boyfriend, who just sat there and watched Waverly hyperventilating and did nothing.

“He’s gone,” Waverly whispered, jaw trembling as she tried to hold back another sob. “He’s gone, Nicky.”

“I’m so sorry Waverly.” Nicole dropped her hands from Waverly’s face and held them open for her.

Waverly launched herself into the other woman’s open arms, burying her face in Nicole’s neck, gripping tightly to her shirt trying to pull her closer.

“I can’t remember the last time I told him I loved him,” Waverly whimpered, hot tears falling onto Nicole’s neck.

Nicole could have sworn that her heart broke into a million tiny pieces in that moment. Waverly sounded so broken, so devastated. Of course, Nicole understood why she did, Waverly had every right to sound that way but dammit it was like a dull knife to the heart

“Oh sweetie,” Nicole pulled Waverly in closer, tighter, kissing the side of her head as she ran her hands up and down the other woman’s back slowly. “He knew how much you loved him, he knew.”

“He was like a father to me,” Waverly choked out. “He treated me better than my own father, h-he always believed in me, he was always there, what am I supposed to do without him?”

Nicole was at a loss for words. She didn’t know what to say, what to do. She knew nothing she did could makes things better, make Waverly be okay but oh how she wished there was something she could do.

She’d gladly take away Waverly’s pain if she could.

“I’m not gonna lie and tell you it’s going to be okay because it’s not,” Nicole spoke just loud enough for Waverly and Waverly alone to hear her. “You’re gonna miss him everyday and it’s going to hurt like hell for a really long time but one day, you’ll wake up and it’ll hurt just a little less, it’ll become bearable.”

She could feel Waverly’s cries die down to whimpers, so she continued, never stopping the movement of her hands on Waverly’s back.

“Curtis raised you to be strong Waverly and you are, you are the strongest person I know and you can get through this but you don’t have to do it alone, there are people who love you and won’t let you go through this alone, I won’t let you go through this alone, Waverly.”

Gus moved towards them then, placing a hand on Nicole’s shoulder and one on the back of Waverly’s head. “We’re here for you and we won’t let you go through this alone.”

Nicole looked up at Gus and the older woman nodded at her with a small, grateful smile, mouthing the words ‘thank you’ to her.

Waverly held on tighter to Nicole, whispering a ‘thank you’ against her neck as she found comfort in Nicole’s embrace.

Nicole wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that, the three of them on the floor together, her and Gus comforting Waverly the best they could and Waverly just silently crying into her neck.

When Waverly had completely calmed down and the tears had stopped falling, Nicole and Champ helped Waverly out to her jeep and Champ drove her home to Shorty’s, while Nicole took Gus home.


 

Nicole pulled her squad car to a stop next to Gus’ blue and white Ford f150. Cutting the engine, she turned in her seat towards Gus, pulling a business card from her shirt pocket.

“If you need anything at all, just give me a call,” Nicole said handing her card over. “Day or night.”

“Thanks,” Gus gave her a small, sad smile. “Thank you for being there for Waverly today, I don’t know what I would have done without you there.”

“I’m glad I could help, ma’am.”

“Thank you for just being Waverly’s friend.” Gus turned her attention back towards the house, just staring up at it as she spoke. “I know it’s hard for you but I am so damn grateful that she has you.”

“I’d do anything for her,” Nicole swore. “Anything, no matter if it’s hard for me or not.”

“I know and Curtis,” she stopped there, drawing in a deep breath and shutting her eyes tightly as a few tears rolled down her cheek.

Nicole reached over and placed her hand over one of Gus’ and giving it a brief squeeze. A show of support that she hoped wasn’t overstepping.  

“C-curtis, he uh, he knew that too and he really liked you, he knew how you feel about Waverly.” Gus opened her eyes back up, turning her head to meet Nicole’s eyes.

What she was going to say was important and she wanted to make sure Nicole knew that she meant every word of it. She wanted Nicole to know that she had someone on her side, someone that wants to see her and Waverly happy and together.

She wanted Nicole to know that Curtis really did like her and approved of her because both she and Nicole knew how much his approval meant to Waverly.

Gus wouldn’t lie, she was wary of Nicole at first and she hadn’t been entirely sure that Nicole was right for Waverly and part of that doubt stemmed from not knowing Nicole very well but after today, she couldn’t imagine anyone else being as perfect for Waverly as Nicole was.

“He approved of you, he wanted to see the two of you together and he believed that you were, you are, the best thing for Waverly and after seeing you with her today, seeing you calm her down while Champ sat and did nothing, I see that you care for her more than he ever could and I approve of you too.”

“Thanks Gus, that means a lot.”

“You be good to her, or I’ll kick your ass,” Gus warned her as she opened the car door and stepped out. “And thank you again, Nicole.”

“Anytime Gus.”

Gus started to walk away from the car and towards the house but turned around and knocked on the passenger side window.

“Yes Ma’am?” Nicole asked after she rolled the window down.

“Waverly thinks Curtis died of a heart attack and I would like to keep it that way, okay?”

“Of course.”

She didn’t like the idea of lying to Waverly, especially about something like this but it wasn't her place, so she would respect Gus’ wishes.

With that Gus turned on her heels and walked up the pathway towards the house.

Nicole waited and watched to make sure Gus made it inside the house before starting the engine, putting the car in reverse and backing the car down the driveway.

Once she was on the main road heading back towards town, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and scrolled through her contacts till she phone her Grandpa’s number. She needed to call him and make sure he was okay. Curtis dying reminded her that people can be gone in a blink of an eye and she just needed to hear his voice.

She hadn’t spoke to her Grandpa since she moved to Purgatory, which was really unusual for them. They used to talk on the phone every other day but she had been so busy with her new job and trying to fit in, falling in love with Waverly and trying to hide it that she just hasn’t had time.

She should have made the time though. She should be calling and checking in with him at least once a week. The man raised her and she shouldn’t just let him slip her mind just because she was miles away and starting a new life.

Pressing call and putting the phone on speaker, Nicole focused her attention back on the road as the phone rang.

“You’ve reached Joseph Haught, I can’t come to the phone right now, mainly because I’m still not sure how to work this damn thing.” Her Grandpa’s laugh filled the car and Nicole couldn’t help but to smile.

God, she missed him so much. She really needed to visit him soon or have him come for a visit.

“So leave your name and number and I may be able to get back to you, if I can figure this thing out, oh and if be any chance that this is Officer Nicole Haught, then kid I’m so damn proud of you and your Grandma would be too, I love you Nicky.”

“Hey Papa, it’s Nicky, just calling to see how you’re doing and tell you I love you, give me a call when you get the chance.”


 

When Champ parked the jeep in front of Shorty’s, Waverly just stared up at the wooden sign hanging above the double doors. Double doors that Curtis used to walk through every night after a long day of work. Double doors that he would never walk through again.

Shorty’s was like a second home to Curtis, not that he was an alcoholic or anything like that, it was just that Shorty was his best friend. They grew up together, they were practically brothers and Waverly had to go in there and tell Shorty that Curtis was gone, that his best friend was gone.

Gus told her that she would do it, Nicole even offered to do it herself but Waverly felt like she should be the one to tell him, felt like she owed it to him for everything he has done for her.

“You coming in?” Champ asked pulling the key from the ignition.

“I need a minute.” She drew in a deep shuddering breath and looked down at her hands. She wasn’t ready to go in there and face Shorty just yet.

“Suit yourself,” Champ grunted as he got out of the jeep, slamming the door behind him.

She watched him storm inside the saloon without a second glance at her.  She should have taken Gus up on the offer to stay at the house with her, or Nicole’s offer to stay at her apartment again.

She didn’t want to be alone right now and she should have known that Champ would just leave her the first chance he got.

He was never good at comforting her, never knew the right things to say, never knew when to be there for her or when to back off before he became suffocating. And it shouldn’t surprise her that this time wasn’t any different but she had hoped that he would have seen how much she was hurting and actually stay and just be there for her, with her.

She just wanted him to be there, to care or at the very least pretend he cares about what she’s going through, what she’s feeling.

Waverly reached for her phone inside the front pocket of the hoodie she's wearing, Nicole's hoodie, borrowed from her locker.

“To keep you warm and dry,” Nicole had told her when she helped Waverly pull it over her head and then pulled her arms through the sleeves, gently as if she was dressing a child, just before they had left the station.

Though Waverly knew Nicole let her wear it because the smell of leather, cinnamon, gun oil, the smell of Nicole calmed her, made her feel safe, cared for. Because Nicole calmed her and made her feel safe, cared for. Nicole was possibly the only person able to make her feel safe and cared for with just a simple look.

Waverly’s finger hovered over Nicole’s contact, debating on whether or not to call her, just to hear her voice and draw a bit of courage from that husky drawl. She knew that Nicole would be there for her the second she asked but, she didn’t want to be so dependent on Nicole though. She didn’t want to need Nicole so much so that she couldn’t get through the day without her.

Deciding against it, Waverly scrolled down to the first number she had listed for Wynonna and clicked on it.

Someone needed to tell Wynonna about Curtis and it should come from her. She just wished she didn’t have to do it over the phone but what was she to do? She had absolutely no idea where Wynonna was at the moment.

“Pick up, pick up, pick up,” Waverly chanted over and over as the line continued to ring and ring without an answer.

It wasn’t uncommon for Wynonna not to answer her calls, it’s been happening on and off for three years now but for once Waverly wished that her sister was more reliable, actually cared enough to pick up the phone when she called. She needed and wanted Wynonna to be here instead of galavanting all over the world.

She understood Wynonna’s need to get away from this place, away from Purgatory. It held so many bad memories for the two of them, way more bad memories than good but she wished she had been enough to keep her sister around or at the very least have her come and visit, or even just call once a month.

“Dammit Wynonna,” Waverly sighed, running her free hand through her hair when she got Wynonna’s voicemail. “Nonna, I need you to call me when you get this, if you get this please, it’s important.”

It went on like this for awhile, Waverly calling all six numbers she had for Wynonna. Two had been disconnected some time ago and the others all went to voicemail. Each time her calls went unanswered she felt like her heart was breaking a little more each time.

The unshed tears in her eyes finally fell and slide down her cheeks slowly as she pulled her legs up into the seat and wrapped her arms around them, laying her head against her knees as she cried.

She just wanted her sister to be there, to answer her phone calls when she really needed her, was that too much to ask?

A knock on the window startled Waverly. She hastily wiped the tears from her face and then turned to see who was outside the jeep door.

Shorty stood on the other side of the door, holding up the bottle whiskey he had been saving for a special occasion.

“Nicole called,” Shorty said, voice muffled. “She told me what happened, she didn’t want you to have to do it.”

Of course Nicole called him because, she was always taking care of her, always stepping in when she needed her.

“Can I join you?” He asked motioning to the empty driver seat.

When she nodded her head yes, Shorty walked around the front of the jeep to the driver side door. He slid into the jeep without another word, twisting the cap off the 25 year old bottle of whiskey.

“Curtis and I were going to drink this at your wedding,” Shorty said, bringing the bottle up to his lips, taking a long pull from it, grimacing as the whiskey burned it’s way down his throat before passing the bottle to Waverly. “Seems fitting to drink it with you instead.”

“You two really believed that Champ and I were gonna get married?” Waverly asked, looking at the bottle in her hand as she ran a finger over the label.

Waverly felt laughter bubbling in her chest at the idea that her and Champ tying the knot. Champ wasn’t one for commitment, his long list of one night stands were proof of that. Marriage was not something Champ would ever be interested in and frankly neither was she, at least not with Champ Hardly.

“We hoped.” He stared up at his saloon, remembering all the times spent there with his best friend, discussing Waverly’s future with or without Champ.

It was during one of those nights that he had promised Curtis that if something was to ever happen to him that he would look after Waverly, take care of her and promised to do the same for Wynonna if she ever came back to town.

“Yeah,” Waverly grabbed the bottle from his grasp and took another sip. She really did not want to dwell on her relationship with Champ. She’d rather sit here with Shorty and drink away every bit of pain she felt, drink until she was numb.

Waverly stared down at her phone, debating on trying to call Wynonna again. Her eyes filling with tears once more.

“She’ll come,” Shorty said softly, reaching over the center console and grabbing her hand. “She’ll come home, I know it.”

“I hope so.”


 

More than half a bottle of whiskey later and crying on Shorty’s shoulder until there was no more tears left in her, Waverly was stumbling her way up the stairs towards the makeshift apartment she shared with Champ.

It was only noon but she just wanted to fall into bed and sleep for the rest of the day and hopefully forget that her uncle was dead, that her sister wouldn’t answer her calls when she needed her the most, that in a few short hours her whole life had changed.

Pushing the door to her room open, Waverly kicked her boots off and shimmied out of her jeans on the way to her bed.

She pulled Nicole's hoodie over her head and crawled into bed, clenching the hoodie to her chest as she got under the blanket.

She buried her face in the hoodie, inhaling Nicole’s scent as she willed sleep to come, willed her brain to shut down, even if for just a moment.

She didn’t want to think about Curtis, who she’d never see again, never talk to again, never hug again, never be able to thank him for everything he has done for her, for taking care of her, raising her. She didn’t want to think about a sister that was never around, that she’d probably wouldn’t see or talk to for God knows how long.

She just wanted her brain to stop trying to process a million different thoughts a minute. She just wanted sleep to come and drag her into peaceful darkness where nothing could hurt her, where the wasn’t a giant gaping hole in her heart, where she was safe.

Sleep comes eventually, after more sobs have racked through her body, that has her shaking with the force of them and that leaves her gasping for breath as her tears soaked into Nicole’s hoodie but it wasn’t peaceful like she had hoped.

No, it was restless, with her tossing and turning and filled with dreams of Curtis, of Wynonna, of Willa and of their daddy, with brief glimpses of Nicole and Champ, each spewing words at her that felt like a knife stabbing into her gut over and over.

Then a dip in bed pulled her from her light, troubled slumber and by the smell of the overpowering cologne assaulting her senses, she knew it was Champ. There were fingers brushing the hair from the back of her neck, followed by lips ghosting over the skin there and she hoped that if she pretended to still be asleep, he’d just leave.

Of course, she wasn’t that lucky. Next thing she knows, Champ has gotten under the blanket with her and was pressed up against her, running his calloused fingertips along her bare leg.

“Champ,” she warned, moving away from him just enough so he wasn’t pressing against her so much. “Not right now.”

“Let me take your mind off of it,” he husked, nibbling on her ear and pressing himself against her once more. “Let me take care of you, baby.”

The way the term of endearment sounds coming from his mouth has Waverly gritting her teeth and shoving her face further into Nicole’s hoodie. It doesn’t give her that same warm fuzzy feeling, doesn’t filled her with happiness and doesn’t calm her down, it doesn’t send her heart racing in the same way it does when Nicole says it.

His hand is moving up her leg again, blunt nails digging in lightly in a way that would usually drive her insane but now just set her teeth on edge.

“Champ stop, please.” Waverly pushed his hand away, turning onto her back to glare at him.

Why was it so hard for him to understand that sex was not something she wanted or needed right now. Why couldn’t he understand that sex was not going to fix the agonizing pain she was feeling, wasn’t going to chase away the loss she was feelings, wasn’t going to make things okay again.

“Come on baby, just let me help.” He leaned down and pressed his chapped lips to hers, kissing her roughly even though she wasn’t kissing back, even though she hadn’t moved an inch.

“Dammit Champ, I said stop.” Waverly shoved him away this time, hard causing him to lose balance on the hand he had been leaning on.

“What's your problem?” Champ asked, getting up from the bed and towering over her, eyebrows drawn together in anger, arms folded across his chest.  

“My problem is my uncle just died and your idea of comforting me is trying to have sex with me.” Waverly sat up, pulling the blanket around her tighter, trying to cover herself up. She felt exposed with him staring at her the way he was, she felt uncomfortable.

“Is this because of Haught?” He asked, hatred and anger lining his every word as he began pacing the room. “We haven’t had sex since the two of you started hanging out, are you fucking her?”

“Are you serious right now?” Waverly screamed at him and she hadn’t meant to but he was pissing her off.

He was the one who has been cheating on her basically their whole relationship and he had the audacity to accuse her of cheating.

“Curtis just died, I just lost the man who raised me this morning.” She could feel tears brimming in her eyes but she wasn’t sure it if was because she was angry and she tended to cry when she was angry (which she loathed because it made her feel weak), or she was about to cry because of Curtis. It was probably a bit of both. “So I’m sorry if I don’t want to have sex with you right now!”

“We both know that this has nothing to do with Curtis and everything to do with Nicole,” he spat.

“This has nothing to do with Nicole!” She yelled, throwing a pillow at him. “This has everything to do with that fact that you only care about yourself, that you only think with your penis, that you don’t care how I feel, don’t care that I’m hurting.”

Waverly shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose as the tears rolled down her cheeks for what like the hundredth time that day. She wiped angrily at them with the back of her hand.

She was tired of crying, tired of Champ not caring about her, nothing thinking about how she may be feeling. She was tired and she was done with him, with everything.

“I’m done Champ,” she said, trying to keep her voice from wavering. “We’re done.”

A small smile made it’s way onto her lips. She didn’t expect it to feel so freeing, so relieved to finally be rid of him. She thought for sure that she would feel sad or lost, or just upset that she was leaving someone who had always been there for her, that up until recently had been the one constant thing in her life.

“We’re done, get out.”


 

Nicole pulled her truck to a stop in front of Shorty’s and cut the engine off, reaching for the phone sitting in one of the cup holders.

She stared at Waverly’s contact, at the picture of Waverly wearing Nicole’s stetson and sticking her tongue out that she had taken some time ago, trying to build up the courage to actually call Waverly.

It was early, almost five in the morning and Nicole wasn’t so sure that this was such a good idea anymore. It seemed like a good idea when she had been lying in bed a few hours before, struggling to sleep as her mind kept wandering to Waverly and wondering if she was okay.

Shoving down all her doubt, Nicole tapped Waverly’s contact and brought the phone up to her ear.

The line rang and rang and rang. She was both disappointed and relieved then suddenly nervous when Waverly’s groggy, rough voice came over the line.

“Nicole?” Waverly croaked. “What is it?”

Nicole could hear rustling on the other end of the line and looked up at Waverly’s room window, watching a light turn on inside.

“Come down stairs.”

“It’s five in the morning, Nicole.”

She could hear Waverly yawn and instantly felt bad for waking her but still, she pushed on. Waverly would thank her later....She hoped.

“I know but just trust me, Waves please?” She wasn’t above begging, at least not with Waverly.

“I do trust you, I’ll be right down.”

Nicole sighs in relief as she hangs up the phone and waits for her to come down, wiping her sweaty palms on the basketball shorts she's wearing.

She shouldn’t be this nervous, it’s not like she was going to be confessing her love for Waverly or anything like that. She was just going to do what her Grandpa had done for her when her Grandma had died. She was just going to help Waverly the best way she knew how and she shouldn’t be nervous about that.

A few minutes passed before Waverly opened the passenger door and slid onto the bench seat, slamming the door once she was seated.

“What’s up?” Waverly asked around a yawn as she looked over at Nicole.

Waverly’s eyes were swollen and red, her hair done up in a messy bun, there were tear streaks on her cheeks and Nicole wondered how much sleep she had actually gotten.

“It’s a surprise.” Nicole put the car in reverse and pulled out of the parking space.

“You woke up at five in the morning for a surprise?” Rolling her eyes at Nicole but putting her seatbelt on anyways.

“Trust me.” Nicole reached over and placed her hand on Waverly’s leg.

“I do.”


 

“Why are we here?” Waverly asked when Nicole parked the truck on a hilltop just outside of Purgatory.

“You’ll see.” Nicole got out of the truck and pulled blankets and pillows from the backseat. “Grab that thermus please.”

Waverly nodded, grabbing the thermus and stepping out of the truck. She walked around the bed of the truck where Nicole was, throwing the blankets and pillows in the back.

Once Nicole straighten out the blankets, she hopped into the back, reaching down for Waverly’s hand. “Come on.”

“Nicky, I don’t understand what we’re doing out here,” Waverly said when she and Nicole were comfortably seated in the bed of the truck with their legs covered with one of the blankets Nicole brought.

She was situated between Nicole’s legs, with Nicole’s arms wrapped loosely around her as she leaned back into the redhead, as Nicole stroked small circles into her abdomen with her thumbs.

She didn’t mind that they were out here, not really. How could she mind when she had Nicole’s arms around her (something she had needed since she left the station yesterday morning)? She just wanted to know why they were out here.

“Just wait,” Nicole whispered in her ear, nodding towards the wide open sky that was just starting to lighten up with hues of pink and orange streaking across it.

“The sun always rises,” Waverly whispered, gripping one of Nicole’s hands in her own.

“Mhm,” Nicole hummed, eyes focused on the side of Waverly’s face instead of the sky. “And just for a moment everything is beautiful, everything is peaceful and the world isn’t so terrible.”

“Thank you,” Waverly said softly, afraid to break the calm, the peacefulness that had settled over them, over her.

“Any time, Earp.” Nicole pressed a feather light kiss to Waverly’s temple before turning her attention to the sky.

Chapter Text

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Nicole said, pacing in front of her coffee table. “Why cover up the fact that Curtis was murdered?”

Eric and Trent watched her, exchanging looks and then sipped their beers almost in sync. They have been watching Nicole pace around her living room for the last fifteen minutes, stressing over the fact that Curtis’ cause of death had been ruled a heart attack earlier that morning, that everyone was ignoring the fact that he had been found with his head torn clean off.

“Waverly's uncle was murdered and Nedley isn't even worried about finding out who did it!” Nicole threw her hands in the air. Her frustration, her anger, her confusion getting the better of her.

Curtis was a decent man and he deserved to have his killer brought to justice. Waverly and Gus deserved that peace of mind, that closure of his killer being locked away.

“Haught, you're too close to this,” Eric said, setting his beer bottle on the coffee table and standing up, moving to stand in front of her, placing his hands on her shoulders.

“I’m not!”

“You’re in love with Waverly and it’s clouding your judgement, Nicky,” Trent spoke up from his spot on the couch.

“I am capable of separating my feelings for Waverly from my job.” Nicole shrugged Eric’s hands off her and stepped back, glaring at him then Trent. “So no, this isn’t about my feelings for Waverly, this is about the oath we took when we became Officers of the law, this is about right and wrong, this is about things being swept under the rug in Purgatory all the damn time, this is about getting justice and catching a killer!”

“Alright.” Eric held his hands up in surrender. “We’ll look into his death but you cannot say anything to Waverly or Gus.” He scrubbed his hand over his face, letting out a low sigh. “And if we find his killer we’ll bring it to Nedley and pray that we don’t lose our jobs.”

“Thank you,” Nicole sighed, the tension in her shoulders relaxing.

Relief flooded throughout her entire body, she was going to look into Curtis’ death with or without Eric but she was glad that he was on board, that he was going to help her. Of course, she could run a secret investigation on her own but she really didn’t want to. Eric was her partner and she didn’t want to do this without him.

Though she did hate that him doing this with her meant risking his job, risking his only means of income, his only way of taking care of his family. She'd never forgive herself if he lost his job because of her but someone needed to look into Curtis’ death.

“Hey, don’t you have to pick Waverly up?” Trent asked pointing to the clock hanging above the tv.

“Shit!” Nicole exclaimed, scrambling around the small living room, looking for her truck keys and her wallet. Which she had tossed somewhere in during her rant.

She was supposed to pick Waverly up and then the both of them were going to go over to Gus’ to help her set things up for the funeral tomorrow morning and she was going to be late if she didn’t leave right now. If only she could find her damn keys and wallet.

Trent watched his sister search frantically for her keys for a minute or so, worried about her and whatever was running through her mind at the moment. It wasn’t like her to be so frantic, so worried or, at least she never let it show. Standing up from the couch, Trent walked into the kitchen and picked up her keys and wallet from beside the coffee pot on the counter.

“Nicky,” he called out, jingling the keys to get her attention.

“What’s going on with you?” He asked when she grabbed the keys and her wallet from him with a thankful smile.

“Her whole world is falling apart around her. She just lost her Uncle, she just broke up with the one person who has always been there for her and I just don’t want her to think that she can’t count on me to be there for her when she needs me. I don’t want her to think I’m not going to be there when I said I’d be.” She looked down at her feet, rubbing the back of her neck before looking back up at her brother, her eyes tired and sad. “I don’t want to let her down, like so many others in her life have.”

“Nicky,” Trent sighed with a shake of his head.

She was in so damn deep with Waverly that he was afraid that she was going to get hurt. Yeah, he knew that Waverly had feelings for his sister but that didn’t mean she was going to act on them, didn’t mean they were going to end up together.

And Trent, he was so damn afraid that Nicole was going to completely give herself over to Waverly, do everything in her power to make Waverly happy, to protect Waverly and end up destroying herself in the process.

Waverly didn’t seem like the type to use people, to just hurt the people that cared about them but grief made people do stupid things, hurtful things.

“You gotta take a step back Nicky, and use that beautiful brain of yours.” He flicked her forehead lightly. “Think of yourself and not just Waverly.”

“She needs me.”

“Yeah but you also need to take care of yourself, I don’t want to see you get hurt again.”

“She won’t hurt me,” Nicole said, taking a step back from him and turning towards the door.

“You don’t know that for sure.” He didn’t want to think the worst would happen, he didn’t want to think that Waverly would hurt Nicole but he needed, he wanted Nicole to be prepared incase that were to happen.

“We’ll talk about this later, okay?” Nicole called over her shoulder already heading out the front door without an answer.

“Do you mind if I look over these?” Trent asked gesturing to the files on the coffee table as he walked back into the living room and sat back down on the couch.

He wasn’t a cop but he was raised by a family of cops, so he figured he may be of some help. Fresh eyes couldn’t hurt anything, that is if Eric is okay with it.

Eric ran his fingers through his blonde hair. “Why not? I’m already risking my job.”

“She’d do this with or without you,” Trent said, picking up the file on top of the large stack, flipping through it. “She gets it honest, our Grandpa, he never gave up on a case, never backed down, chased every lead, ran down every dead end and Nicky, she just wants to be as good as him, make him proud but, she also wants to help people and uphold the law.”

“I know she wants to help people, I know she wants to uphold the law and do her job but, she is letting her feelings for Waverly get in the way and she can’t see that. She can’t do her job if her feelings are getting in the way.” Eric paced the living room much like Nicole had been doing moments ago.

He wanted to find Curtis’ killer just as much as Nicole but unlike Nicole, he could see things clearly, he could see that going behind the Sheriff's back was going to be tricky, was going to cost them their jobs if they were caught, or they were wrong.

“For what it’s worth, it means a lot to her that you’re willing to do this with her.”


Nicole barely stopped the truck before she was slamming it into park and hoping out, rushing inside Shorty’s, looking around the saloon frantically for Waverly.

“Slow down there Haught,” Shorty said from behind the bar. “She’s still upstairs.”

Nicole nodded her thanks and walked slowly and calmly towards the stairs, very aware of the eyes on her.

Not that she blamed people for staring. Hell if someone had burst through the door like she had a second ago, she be staring as well.

By now word had spread all over town that Curtis had passed and that Waverly had broken up with Champ. Half the town speculated that Waverly broke up with Champ because she was caught up in her grief and the other half blamed it on a certain redheaded officer that Waverly spend most of her time with.

Part of Nicole worried that they were right, that Waverly only broke up with Champ so soon because she was grieving. Sure, Waverly had said that she was going to break up with him but if she had broken up with him before she was ready it would cause a lot of problems and confusion.

And the part of her that was in love with Waverly hoped that she had broken up with Champ because of her, because she had feelings for her, because she wanted to be with her and she had to continuously push that part of her down because Waverly needed a friend right now, not someone who was madly in love with her.

Nicole knocked on Waverly’s apartment door lightly. “Waves, it’s Nicky.”

There was music coming from the other side of the door, sad, depressing music.

“Waverly, open up.” Nicole knocked harder when there was no answer. “Please.”

When there was still no answer, Nicole grasped the doorknob, opening the door as her eyes darted around the room for Waverly and settling on the curled up ball in the middle of the full size bed.

Shutting the door quietly behind her, Nicole took her phone out and sent a quick text to Gus, letting her know that they’d be late.

She moved towards the bed, kicking her shoes off as she went then crawled into the bed behind Waverly, wrapping an arm around the sleeping woman and pulling her closer until they were spooning.

She leaned up on her elbow, looking down at Waverly and taking in the dried tear marks on her face, her red, puffy eyes, and cute little red nose, wisps of hair sticking to her forehead and cheek. Taking in how beautiful Waverly was even though she had cried herself to sleep.

“You’re gonna be okay,” Nicole whispered, brushing the hair from Waverly’s forehead. “I’ll be here every step of the way, however you need me.”

She ran her fingers gently through the tangled mess that was Waverly’s hair, lightly massaging her scalp as she went, just watching her sleep peacefully. At least she hoped Waverly was sleeping peacefully.

She remember after her grandma passed away, she couldn’t sleep for days. Every time she closed her eyes all she saw was her grandma gasping for breath. She hoped and pray that something like that wasn’t happening with Waverly.

Nicole leaned in and kissed Waverly’s temple lightly, whispering against her soft skin. “I’m here.”

Those weren’t the words she wanted to say, weren’t the words on the lip of her tongue but they would have to do for now.

It wasn’t the time to tell Waverly how she felt. Waverly had just lost her Uncle, just broke up with the person she had been with for years. Waverly needed to grieve, needed to learn how to be by herself before jumping into something, before being bombarded with Nicole’s confession.

Nicole would give her the time, would wait a lifetime and longer for Waverly if she had to, even though it killed her inside. Even though the words ‘I love you’ threatening to come spilling out at least once a day.

She wanted to be selfish, wanted to just tell Waverly how she felt, consequences be damned but that wasn’t who she was. It wasn’t who she was raised to be and as much as she wanted to tell Waverly, she couldn’t, wouldn’t put that pressure on her right now.

Sighing, Nicole rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling, eyes tracing the random patterns there.

“Nicole?” Waverly mumbled sleepily, turning to face the redhead with her eyes still closed.

“I’m here,” Nicole whispered, running her hand up and down Waverly’s arm. “You can go back to sleep.”

“Mmkay,” Waverly murmured into Nicole’s chest as she snuggled into the other woman’s side, slinging her leg over Nicole’s and grasping her t-shirt. “I sleep better with you here.”

Nicole ran her fingers up and down Waverly’s back, tracing random patterns along the soft skin exposed from where her shirt had ridden up. She closed her eyes, content to fall asleep here with Waverly.

Truth was one night without Waverly next to her in bed and she had slept like shit. In those few short days she had come accustomed to having Waverly cuddling into her at night, to the feel of her warm skin pressed against her own, to the sounds of her snoring away softly, to Waverly invading every one of her senses.

“Nicky?” Waverly whispered, voice thick with sleep as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

“Hmm?” Nicole peeked one eye open, looking down at Waverly even though she couldn’t see her face.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For being here for me and Gus, for taking care of me, for taking me to see the sunrise this morning, for being you,” Waverly said softly, fingers curling from Nicole's shirt and running along her side.

“You don’t have to thank me Waverly.”

Waverly sat up, crossing her legs and looking down at Nicole. She was beautiful like this, in a simple plain white t-shirt that was tight in all the right places, jeans that hugged her hips, the messy bun she wore that always had a few hairs escaping and getting in her eyes.

She always found Nicole to be breathtaking when she wasn’t trying to be, when she dressed simply, dressed for comfort and nothing else.

It was times like this when she wanted to risk everything, put everything on the line and just kiss Nicole.

“I do,” Waverly whispered, brushing the hair out of Nicole’s eyes. “Without you, I wouldn’t get through this.”

“You’re strong Waves, I have no doubt that you could get through this on your own.”

“I wouldn’t want to.” Her fingers ghosted along Nicole’s jaw. “I spent most of my life alone, getting through things on my own, I don’t want to do this alone.”

Even when she was with Champ, if she was going through something, dealing with something, she was doing it alone, going through it alone. See Champ’s idea of dealing with any problem was to have sex and that didn’t work for her, so it was just easier to go through things alone.

But now, she had Nicole in her life. Nicole, who was always there, always willing to help and Waverly couldn’t imagine going through things alone anymore.

“Then you won’t have to, I’ll be here,” Nicole promised. “Every step of the way, whatever you need, I’m here.”

“Whatever I need?” Waverly whispered, her fingers caressing Nicole’s jaw. Mesmerized by the way Nicole’s lips parted and a breathless sigh escaped. Captivated by the way one of Nicole’s hands found her hip, gripping it gently as her thumb moved back forth slowly, a warmth spreading throughout her body.

“Whatever you need.” Nicole repeated, eyes closed and leaning into her touch, her thumb pressing into Waverly’s side more firmly, her blunt nails digging into Waverly’s hip as Waverly’s fingers trailed down her neck and along her collarbone.

“Waverly,” Nicole moaned breathlessly as fingers dipped under the neckline of her shirt. She should stop this, it was just going to complicate things but if this was what Waverly needed, she’d give herself over, allow Waverly to take whatever she wanted, whatever she needed from her.

Waverly was intoxicated by the way Nicole moaned her name, intoxicated by the way Nicole seemed give herself over to her, allow her to do whatever she wanted, intoxicated by the way Nicole’s breathing picked up, intoxicated by how soft Nicole’s skin was, how smooth.

Waverly leaned over Nicole, pressing their foreheads together. One of Nicole’s hands tangled itself in Waverly’s hair, the other regripping Waverly’s hip and pulling her closer until she was practically laying on top of her.

All of Nicole’s rational thoughts, all the reason she had for waiting to kiss Waverly, for not telling her how she felt were gone. The only thing on her mind was connecting their lips, kissing Waverly for the first time, tasting her.

Their noses brushed together as they moved closer. Their lips just centimeters away, their breath mingling together.

And then, right as their lips grazed, a phone going off caused them to jump, hitting their foreheads together with a loud crack.

“Dammit,” Waverly rolled off of Nicole, cradling her head in her hands as Nicole scrambled off the bed to retrieve her ringing phone.

“Hello?” Nicole answered the phone, voice thick. Taking a deep breath, she pressed her head against the cool wall, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.

She fucked up. She shouldn’t have let things get that far. She shouldn’t have let what she was feeling over rule her head. She should have stopped Waverly the second her hands moved down her neck.

She didn’t want things between them to happen like that, not when Waverly is grieving and just broke up with Champ. Their first kiss should be special. It shouldn’t be in a bed that Waverly has shared with Champ for years.

Waverly deserved better than that. She deserved better than that.

“Is Waverly okay?” Gus asked on the other end of the line.

“Yeah, she was sleeping but now she’s awake so, we’re gonna pick up some food and then we’ll be on our way.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yup,” Nicole nodded her head even though Gus couldn’t see. “We’ll be there in like 45 minutes.”

“Okay, thank you.”

“You’re welcome, see you soon.” Nicole hung up the phone with a sigh.

She could feel Waverly’s eyes on her, watching her every move but she couldn’t turn around and face her at the moment. She needed to get out of there, she needed air.

“I’ll be in the truck, just come down when you’re ready.”

Nicole grabbed her shoes and hauled ass out of the room, ignoring Waverly calling after her. She just needed a moment to clear her head, just one moment. 

Maybe Trent was right. Maybe she needed to step back, clear her head and start taking care of herself and not just Waverly. Maybe she needed to prepare herself for getting her heart broken.


The ride to Gus’ was filled with awkward silence and an uneasiness she has never felt around Nicole before. For the first time since they met, Waverly felt uncomfortable around Nicole and it was entirely her fault. Nicole barely said two words that didn’t have to do with what they were picking up for dinner, hell she could barely look at her for more than a few seconds.

She had pushed things too far, pushed Nicole too far. She allowed her emotions, allowed her grief, allowed that freeing feeling she felt after breaking up with Champ to cloud her head. She took advantage of Nicole’s willingness to help her, be there for her. She took advantage of Nicole and her kind, caring nature.

She messed things up between them, ruined the relationship they had built, screwed up that almost instantaneous connection they had. She had ruined the best thing in her life with an almost kiss.

Nicole was one of the few good things in her life. She brought a light into Waverly's life that she hadn't known she was missing. Nicole had seen through all the fake smiles and waves. Nicole had broken through every one of Waverly's walls and settled somewhere deep in her chest. Nicole saw her for who she really was and not for who she pretended to be.

Nicole Haught was everything, everything to her and she may have just ruined everything.

“Nicole,” Waverly whispered into the cab of the truck, turning in her seat to face Nicole, whose grip tightened on the steering wheel. The leather underneath Nicole’s white knuckles making a cracking sound as her grip continued to tight.

“Look at me, please .” She was begging, she knew it but honestly, she could care less. She’d beg til she was blue in the face if it meant that Nicole would look at her, talk to her.

She had to make this right, fix what she broke between them. She just wished she knew how.

After a deep sigh, Nicole looked over at her with a battle raging behind those big brown eyes that Waverly loved so much, that Waverly found it hard to tear her eyes away from at times but now, she could hardly meet Nicole’s gaze.

“I’m sorry,” Waverly whispered, looking down at her hands. She couldn’t bare to watch the different emotions swirling in Nicole’s eyes. “I don’t know what I was thinking earlier, actually I wasn’t thinking at all and I didn’t mean to upset you, or make you uncomfortable, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Nicole looked back out the windshield, out to the house before them, taking a deep breath then looking over at Waverly again.

Her heart ached for Waverly and every single thing she was going through at the moment and she didn’t want to add anything else on top of that but she needed to know where she stood, she needed to what Waverly wanted from her.

She could be just a friend to Waverly and she would if that’s what Waverly wanted but she needed to know if she should get over her feelings, if she needed to give up all hope of ever being with Waverly.

“What do you want from me?” Nicole asked, voice so low Waverly barely heard her. “What is it that you want from me Waverly?”

Waverly opened her mouth, ready to tell Nicole that she just wanted her, that she loved her, that she wanted nothing more than what Nicole would give her but of course, that was when Gus came out the house calling out to them, the worry in her tone clear as day.

“We should get in there.” Nicole unbuckled her seat-belt, grabbed the two boxes of pizza from in between them and stepped out of the truck.

“Nicole,” Waverly followed Nicole out of the truck, trailing after the redhead as she moved up the walkway towards the house with long, quick strides. “Will you just wait a minute? Please?”

Nicole turned around so abruptly that Waverly nearly slammed into her. “I can’t do this right now, I can’t help your Aunt if we do this right now.” If you break my heart.

“Okay,” Waverly said softly, reaching for Nicole’s free hand, squeezing it gently. “Later, please?”

Nicole’s gaze drifted down to their joined hands before turning back towards the house, to Gus who was watching them from the porch. “Yeah, sure Waverly, whatever you want.”

“No, not what I want.” Waverly stopped Nicole from walking away by tugging on her hand, spinning her around to face her once more. “What do you want? It shouldn’t just be all about what I want, it’s selfish and unfair to you.”

Nicole closed her eyes and sighed. How was she supposed to keep Waverly at arm’s length when she looked up at her with those sad, puppy eyes? When Waverly didn’t use the fact that she’d do anything for her against her, didn’t use it to get her way? When Waverly was everything to her and it was so hard to say no to her, to not give in to her every demand?

As much as she wanted to give Waverly what she wanted, she knew she needed to take this chance and take care of herself, put herself before Waverly just this once. Protect her heart instead of Waverly. “Maybe.”

She had to look away from the disappointment in Waverly’s eyes, otherwise she’d just give in to her and then where would she be?

Waverly dropped Nicole’s hand with a small nodded and strode past her, up the porch steps to Gus.

“Hey Gus,” Waverly smiled at her Aunt, giving her a quick hug. “We brought pizza.”

“Pineapple pizza,” Nicole said, opening up the top pizza box as she stepped up next to the two women. “Waverly mention one night that Curtis used to bring you pineapple pizza even though he hated it.”

“That’s because pineapple does not belong on pizza,” Waverly chimed in, smiling over at Nicole, who gave her a tiny smile in return, one that didn’t meet her eyes.

“Pineapple and pizza belong together, much like Curtis and his tomatoes, they’re soulmates kiddo.” Gus patted Waverly’s cheek with affection and led them inside the house.

“You’re just jealous cause you haven’t found your soulmate yet,” Nicole teased with a smirk, bumping her hip into Waverly’s as they made their way through the house towards the kitchen.

It amazed Waverly how easily Nicole was able to pretend that nothing was wrong, that nothing was bothering her, that two minutes ago she wasn’t avoiding looking at her, talking to her. It reminded Waverly a lot of herself and her ability to hide everything she was feeling. It reminded Waverly of how similar they were.

“Get some plates down please?” Gus asked as she made her way to the fridge to pull out a bottle of wine. She wasn’t much of a wine drinker but Curtis had always enjoyed a glass of wine with his pizza and in his memory, she would too.

She set the bottle of wine on the island and took a seat on one of the stools, watching the two interact, watching them move around the kitchen getting wine glasses and plates out, setting the island in the middle of the kitchen up just for the three of them as if they had been doing it their whole life, Gus thought that maybe Waverly had found her soulmate and she just didn’t know it yet.

As far as Gus was concerned, Waverly couldn’t do any better than Nicole Haught for a soulmate.

They ate dinner pretty quickly, with Nicole cracking joke after joke to try and chase away the sadness shining in Gus’ eyes. Waverly admired how good with people Nicole was, how effortless it was for her to cheer someone up, to make them laugh, to make them forget just for a moment why they were sad in the first place.

Now, Waverly and Gus were sitting in the living room after Nicole had shooed them away so she could clean up with the kitchen.

“Is she okay?” Gus asked as both she and Waverly watched Nicole scrub roughly at the already clean counter.  

Nicole had been scrubbing at the same spot for the past few minutes, kinda just staring straight ahead, not paying any attention to what she’s actually doing.

Waverly was worried and upset with herself knowing that she was the reason Nicole was acting this way, the reason Nicole was upset.

“I did something stupid and it upset and hurt her.”

“The woman practically worships the ground you walk on Waverly,” Gus said, taking a sip of her iced tea. “What could you have done that was so bad?”

“I can’t tell you.” Waverly whispered, avoiding her Aunt’s eyes. How was she supposed to tell her that she screwed things up by trying to kiss Nicole?

“Well you need to fix it,” Gus told her sternly, her tone leaving no room for argument. “Now is not the time you want to lose the people that care about you.”

It was quiet for a few moments, with Gus still watching Nicole and Waverly trying to gather her thoughts and trying to decide if she was going to say anything else to her Aunt.

Sure her Uncle had told her that Gus would accept her no matter what but that fear of Gus being disgusted, of Gus not accepting her, of Gus being disappointed in her was still there.

Deciding to just bite the bullet and tell her Aunt, Waverly turn fully in the chair she was sitting in to face her Aunt, she kept her voice low though she’s sure Nicole wouldn’t hear anything they were saying even if they were standing right next to her. “She wants to know what I want from her.”

“And what do you want from her?”

“I just want her.”

“So tell her that,” Gus said simply as if it were that easy.

And maybe it was, maybe she was making it more complicated than it really was. Maybe it really was just as simple as saying the words ‘I love you’ to Nicole.

But could she actually do it? Could she actually look Nicole in the eyes and find the courage to say those three words? Could she actually be brazen enough to tell Nicole that she was so damn in love with her that it hurt sometimes?

And even if she could find the courage, was now the right time to tell her? What if Nicole didn’t believe her because she thought it was Waverly’s grief talking? What if Nicole didn’t feel the same? What if it ruined their relationship beyond repair?  

“I don’t think now is really the time for that, Curtis just died, I just broke up with Champ.”

“Your Uncle wouldn’t want this to stop you from being happy, he’d want you to go after the things you want in life, the person you want, you’ve always been an honest kid Waverly, don’t stop now.”

Waverly gave her a small nod, deciding to just throw caution to the wind and tell Nicole how she felt when they talked later.


Of course they never did talk later. Nicole avoided Waverly like the plague for the next day, save for a text or two asking if she was okay.  

She didn’t want to ignore Waverly, or avoid her at all and she felt horrible for doing it but, she just needed time to think, to sort through her thoughts and what she was feeling without Waverly clouding her judgement. She couldn’t think straight around Waverly.

Avoiding Waverly and Gus, Shorty and Trent, Eric and anyone else who knew enough about her feelings for Waverly to ask why she was staying clear, was how she ended up on a patrol through town with Nedley.

Nedley was too preoccupied with a recent death of some young girl that had gotten off a bus on the main stretch of road leading into town and some government agency that would be taking over half the station and more than half of their cases, to ask why Nicole wanted to go on patrol with him and for that, Nicole was thankful.  

The town was quiet for the most part. Most people had left Curtis’ funeral by now and headed straight to Shorty’s have a drink in Curtis’ memory, when in reality most of them just wanted an excuse to drink in the middle of the day.

She hated that she hadn’t gone to the funeral for Waverly, with Waverly. She hated that she wasn’t there for Waverly when she needed her. A part of her hated that she put herself before Waverly. She hated that she felt like she let Waverly down but she knew that if she had went she would have put her needs, her feelings on the back burner.

Nicole was pulled from her thoughts when Nedley pulled the car over next to the train tracks. He shut the engine off and got out, walking towards a woman with long brunette hair with the slightest hint of curls, wearing a leather jacket with ugly ass fringe on the arms and blue jeans encasing a top shelf ass.

Sighing, Nicole got out of the car as well, walking over to the pair, not that they paid her any mind they were too busy arguing with one another.

Nicole let her eyes wander over the brunette, taking in her striking blue eyes that had a haunted look to them, the dimple on her cheek when she smirked at Nedley, a jawline to die for and a snarky attitude to top it all off. She was beautiful, no doubt and Nicole could probably spend all day looking at her but the last thing she needed in her life was another beautiful woman to complicate things.

Suppressing another sigh, Nicole looked away from the woman and towards Shorty’s, catching sight of Waverly helping old Mrs. Johnson cross the street. Even from here, she could tell that the wide smile on Waverly’s face was fake and she ached to go over there and make some corny joke to get a real smile out of her.

“Why’d you even come back Wynonna?”

Wynonna? Wynonna Earp? Nicole turned to look back at the pair so fast, she swore she was going give herself whiplash.

Did Waverly know that her sister was back in town? Was Wynonna just here for the funeral? Or was she back for good? How did Waverly feel about her being back? Was she happy? Was she upset that it took their Uncle dying for Wynonna to finally show up?

Nicole had a million and one questions and when she opened her mouth to voice some of them, Nedley started talking again.

“Haven’t the people who love you suffered enough?” Nedley asked, sounding tired as if they have had this conversation a thousand times and for all Nicole knows they have.

She knew that Wynonna wasn’t well liked in Purgatory, or at all really. People around town called her crazy, cursed, a magnet for trouble and most associated Waverly with Wynonna’s actions. She only knew gossip of Wynonna, Waverly didn’t talk about her much and Nicole didn’t push. She figured Waverly would tell her in her own time, when she was ready.

“Probably,” Wynonna said, turning around and walking towards Shorty’s but not before flipping Nedley off.

Nicole watched Wynonna stalk off towards Shorty’s, her eyes drifting down to her ass once more. She was only human after all and Wynonna’s ass was a sight to behold.

“With all due respect Sir, I think that was completely uncalled for, Waverly just lost her Uncle, she really needs her sister right now.”

She didn’t know the history between Nedley and Wynonna but him trying to run her off just didn’t sit right with her.

“With all due respect Haught, you don’t know the pain and suffering Wynonna has put Waverly and Gus through, they’re better off without her.”

His tone was sharp and he almost sounded disappointed in her but she wasn’t going to back down. He should be a little more compassionate to someone who just lost their Uncle.

“Maybe I don’t know the pain she has caused them but I do know how much her being gone has hurt Waverly,” Nicole said as they walked back towards the car. “But, if you’re worried about her being in town, I’ll keep an eye on her, make sure she stays out of trouble.”

“You wanna be responsible for Wynonna Earp? Fine, good luck with that Haught.” With that Nedley got back into his car and drove off, leaving Nicole to walk back to the station.

Maybe she should have just kept her mouth shut.


It wasn’t till the next day that Nicole finally gave up on avoiding Waverly. It hadn’t actually helped any. Every waking moment her thoughts revolved around Waverly Earp and she was miserable not seeing her or talking to her.

After finding out about some bar fight that took place at Shorty’s the night before, Nicole all but ran to the saloon to check on Waverly, even though the report Eric had filled out clearly stated that nobody, not even Waverly had been harmed.

Nicole stood in the doorway of the saloon, just watching Waverly wipe down the beer taps and humming along to whatever sound was playing on the jukebox in the corner.

She could watch Waverly for hours, doing something as simple as cleaning the bar and never get bored, never get tired of looking at her. Hell, she could watch Waverly perform the most mundane task and be content.

“Hey,” Nicole called out softly after a few minutes of Waverly being completely unaware of her presence.

Waverly jumped just the tiniest bit at the sound of her voice, turning to glare at her. “You’ve got to stop doing that, Nicole.”

“Sorry.” Nicole gave her a sheepish grin and rubbed at the back of her neck.

“Nedley said there was a fight last night.” She stepped farther into the saloon, gripping the brim of her stetson tightly. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Oh now you care.” Waverly threw the rag she had been using down on the bartop then folded her arms across her chest, that glare still directed at Nicole. “You just disappeared on me, I’d expect something like that from Champ but not you.”

Waverly had every right to be mad at her but that comparison to Champ was like a punch to the gut.

“I’m sorry.” Nicole stepped up the bar, setting her stetson down and reaching her hand out for Waverly’s. “I should have been here for you.”

Nicole swept her gaze over Waverly, making sure she was okay and unharmed when she saw looked like a bruise on her neck. Without another word, Nicole moved around the other side of the bar, stopping in front of Waverly.

She grasped Waverly’s chin with her forefinger and thumb, tilting her head up to expose her neck fully to the dim light of the saloon. A blueish, purple bruise went across Waverly’s neck in an almost perfect line.

She traced her thumb across the bruise as gently as possible, causing Waverly to inhale sharply but not pull away.

“Who did this?” She asked through clenched teeth, her eyes boring into Waverly’s.

There was a fire burning in Nicole’s eyes and anger there that Waverly had never seen before. And if she was being perfectly honest, she was a bite scared. Nicole looked ready to murder someone.  

She had meant to put some kind of concealer on the bruises this morning but had decided to wait up she was done cleaning the bar up and had showered. Now she wished she had taken the time and actually done it.

How was she going to explain to Nicole how she had gotten the bruises in the first place? It wasn’t like she could just tell her about the revenants and the Earp curse. Or that she had been hung yesterday in attempt to trade her life for a gun that could kill demons.

Nicole would think she had lost her mind and she was sure that Deputy Marshal Dolls would have her tried for treason.

“Who did this to you?” Nicole asked again, this time her voice was softer but that fire in her eyes was still burning. Her thumb still stroking Waverly’s neck softly. “I swear to God, I’ll kill whoever laid a hand on you.”

Waverly panicked. She didn’t know how to explain the bruises without putting Nicole’s life in danger, so she did the only thing she could think of. She grabbed a hold of Nicole’s uniform shirt and tugged her down until their lips met in a soft kiss.

Chapter Text

Waverly likes to believe that she can think on her feet, that she can come up with solutions to even the toughest problems quickly and easily but she wasn’t sure that kissing Nicole was the answer to this problem.

Not that she didn’t want to kiss Nicole, that wasn’t it at all. Because truth was, she thought about kissing Nicole almost constantly since the moment Nicole saved her from the leering patrons in Shorty’s the night they met.

No, see the problem was that this is how their first kissed happened, as a result of her trying to stop Nicole from asking questions that she couldn’t answer at the moment.

Worry and embarrassment started to set in as Nicole just stood there stiffly, unmoving, staring wide eyed at Waverly. And just as Waverly was about to pull away, end the extremely awkward kiss, Nicole moved, tilting her head just the slightly as her hands come up to cup Waverly’s cheeks gently, as if she was going to break. Her lips moved slowly against Waverly’s, her eyes sliding closed.

Waverly sighed softly against Nicole’s lips, closing her eyes and losing herself in the feel of Nicole’s lips against hers, in the feel of Nicole pulling her closer, in the smell of leather and cinnamon.

The first thing Waverly noticed about kissing Nicole was that the warmth she always felt whenever Nicole so much as touched her was nothing compared to the fire that ignited as Nicole’s lips slid along hers.

The second thing Waverly noticed was just how soft, how smooth, and how plump Nicole’s lips were compared to the chapped, thin lips she has been kissing for years. How gentle Nicole was compared to Champ’s rough, sloppy kisses.

Nicole’s hands fell away from her face and the next thing Waverly knows, Nicole is gripping her ass, hoisting her up and she instinctively wrapped her legs around Nicole’s waist as Nicole walked them backwards until she was seated on top of the bar, never once breaking their kiss.

Nicole tangled her fingers in Waverly’s long brunette locks, pulling away just a fraction of an inch to allow some much needed air into her lungs.

Kissing Waverly Earp was unlike anything Nicole had ever experienced in her twenty-four years of life. It was everything Nicole imagined it to be and so much more. Her lips were firm but still so soft and they tasted of the strawberry chapstick she was wearing. And Nicole never wanted to kiss another set of lips in her life.

Sure, this wasn’t how she imagined their first kiss. It wasn’t after some romantic date ending with her walking Waverly to her door (Shorty’s or her apartment door), and them saying goodnight but not quite ready for the night to end, not quite ready to part ways. It wasn’t her looking down at Waverly and asking ‘Can I kiss you’. It wasn’t her heart beating wildly in her chest as she waited for an answer, a smile or even just a nod. It wasn’t her taking Waverly’s face in her hands when she got the okay and slowly and oh so gently bringing their lips together.

No, it wasn’t what Nicole imagined. It was Waverly in a rare impulsive moment, gripping her shirt and tugging their lips together almost roughly but that didn’t make it any less perfect to Nicole, any less meaningful. There was something oddly beautiful and charming about those rare moments when Waverly wasn’t so in her head, when she acted impulsively.

She pressed her forehead against Waverly’s and grinned, opening her eyes slowly to look at the woman before her, the woman she loved.

“You’re so beautiful,” Waverly whispered, looking into Nicole’s eyes as she brushed her knuckles across Nicole’s cheek, along the dimple there.

Nicole blushed a light shade of pink and drew Waverly in for another kiss that was more teeth than anything else as they grinned against each other's lips.

Nicole pulled away again, brushing her nose against Waverly's, enjoying the feeling of being this close to Waverly, the feeling of Waverly pressed up against her.

She couldn’t believe that this was actually happening, that she was standing in between Waverly’s legs with Waverly playing with the baby hairs on the back of her neck that she could never get into her usual french braid. She couldn’t believe that she had just been kissing Waverly Earp. She had imagined this moment a thousand times, dreamed about it a countless number of times but she never thought it would actually happen.

Sure, she had hoped but she was used to hoping for things that would never happen.  Yet, here she was and she wasn’t going to let one second go to waste. 

She smiled softly at Waverly as she ran her thumb along Waverly's bottom lip, tilting her head up.

“Waverly Earp,” she husked, fingertips dancing down Waverly’s sides to her hips, pulling her forward, closer. “You are the most exquisite thing I have ever laid eyes on.”

Nicole leaned in again, their breath mingling as Nicole’s lips grazed Waverly’s lightly, yet not quite kissing her. Her fingers kneading the soft skin at her hip, exposed from her tank top riding up at some point.  

She felt, more than heard Waverly’s breath hitch as she leaned in again, grazing her lips against Waverly’s again, teasing her.

Waverly grasped the back of her neck firmly but not hard enough to hurt, keeping Nicole from pulling away once more and connected their swollen lips again.

She couldn’t get enough of Nicole, of the feel of Nicole’s lips against hers, of the warmth of Nicole’s body against hers, of the feel of Nicole’s fingers on her bare hip, digging in slowly and she bit Nicole’s bottom lip lightly.

She started pulling at Nicole’s uniform shirt as Nicole deepened the kiss, trying to pull it free from her pants, needing to feel Nicole’s smooth bare skin against her fingertips, against her.

“Wait,” Nicole breathed out softly, resting her forehead on Waverly’s shoulder. “Wait.”

They needed to talk before things got any farther. She needed to know what Waverly wanted because if this was just a one time thing, just a way to distract her from what happened to Waverly’s neck then she would need time and space to figure things out, get over her feelings and get over the heartbreak.

The thing was if Waverly didn’t want a relationship with her, if this really was a one time thing, then Nicole needed Waverly to say it flat out, she needed Waverly to break her heart and make it clear that they would never be more than friends.

As much as it would hurt, would kill her inside that was what she needed Waverly to do so she could move on. If Waverly didn’t make it clear then she would continue to have hope of being with Waverly, she would follow Waverly around like some lovesick puppy, she would be at Waverly’s mercy.

The hope of being with Waverly when she never stood a chance would destroy her faster than a broken heart would.  

“Okay.” Waverly ran her fingers up and down Nicole’s back, shivering at the feeling of Nicole’s warm breath hitting her neck in short pants. “Whatever you need.”

“What do you want from me, Waverly?” Nicole asked, pulling away just enough to look Waverly in the eyes.  “Because as great as this is, I need more than just making out, I need more than some casual thing with you, more than friends with benefits, I need all of you or none of you.”

Waverly opened her mouth to say something, to tell Nicole what she wanted but Nicole just shook her head.

“Let me finish, please,” Nicole begged, stepping back from Waverly, needing to put some space between them, her warm brown eyes brimming with unshed tears. “I have feelings for you, Waverly strong feelings and I don’t want to push or pressure you into something that you’re not ready for or something that you don’t want.”

Nicole spun the ring on her finger, concentrating on keeping her breathing even and not letting her emotions get the better of her, otherwise she'd never get the words out.

It was a lot harder to say all this than she thought it would be. That fear of rejection burning just underneath the surface. As much as she wanted some kind of answer from Waverly, some sort of closure, a part of her wanted that ignorant bliss of not knowing whether or not Waverly felt the same.

“But, I need to know what you want from me, if you want to be with me because if you don’t, then I need you to tell me, I need you to come right out and say it, break my heart, so I can move on, so I’m not pining over you anymore, so please tell me what it is you want from me.”

Waverly just stared at Nicole, just looked at the woman before her, almost in disbelief, trying to fully process her words.

How could someone as amazing, as kind and caring, as beautiful inside and out as Nicole Haught want her? Want to be with her? How in the hell did she get so lucky?

Unadulterated happiness spread through Waverly like wildfire. Her heart fluttered in her chest, tears of joy welled in her eyes.

The woman she was in love with had feelings for her too and honestly, Waverly was sure she had never been so happy in her life. Happy didn’t even begin to describe what she was feeling at the moment.

“Just tell me, Waverly,” Nicole mumbled, looking down at her feet. “Please, I can handle it.”

Did Nicole really not see that what she wanted was her? Was Nicole really so blind, so convinced that she wouldn’t want her that way that she didn’t see how much she cared for her, how much she wanted to be with her?

Waverly guessed she was just as blind as Nicole because she didn’t see that Nicole had feelings for her as well. They were just two blind idiots pining over one another.

“Come here,” Waverly said softly, holding her hand out to the red head.

“Please, Waverly just say it.”

Waverly reached forward, gripping Nicole’s utility belt and pulled her closer. Back in between her legs, her hands coming up to cup Nicole’s cheeks, staring into those watery brown eyes that she loved.

“What I want from you, Nicole, is just you,” Waverly whispered, her thumb wiping away the few tears that slid down Nicole’s cheek. “I want you, I want to be with you, I want to love you, I want everything you’ll give me, I want you Nicole, more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life and that scares me, you and how much I want you, how much I care for you scares me.”

“I scare you?” Nicole asked softly, head tilted to the side just a bit, her eyes shining with wonder and affection, amazement and unshed tears.  

“Yes, you do.” Waverly shook her head with a soft smile because of course out of everything she said that was the one thing Nicole focused on.

Nicole grinned widely at her, dimples of full display, her eyes crinkling in that adorable that they did whenever she was smiling fully. Her eyes held a tenderness, affection and something that looked a lot like love. Nicole was happy and happiness, well it was a breathtaking look on her.

Nicole tucked a strand of hair behind Waverly’s ear then trailed her fingers along her jaw, down her neck and around to the back of her neck, smirking at the goosebumps left in the wake of her fingers.

She grasped the back of Waverly’s neck softly, playing with the hairs at the nape of her neck, mesmerized by the level of want in Waverly’s eyes, the way her breath hitched and the way Waverly moved her head in closer, searching out her lips.

“Can I kiss you?” Nicole asked barely above a whisper, their lips less than a breath away from each other, her eyes flickering down to look at Waverly’s lips, groaning softly when Waverly pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.

Of course there was no reason for her to ask, they had already kissed, more than once and she knew Waverly wanted it just as much as she did but she wanted Waverly’s consent, needed it. This would be their first kiss with all their feelings laid out in the open, their first kiss with their hearts laid bare for the other to see and it should mean something, it should be special, or as she could make it in the dimly lit saloon.

“Yes,” Waverly breathed, heart thudding away against her ribcage.

It always amazed her how thoughtful, how kind, how utterly remarkable Nicole was. Champ had never once asked if he could kiss her, he always just took what he wanted from her and she never really minded. But here Nicole was asking her if she could kiss her even though they had been practically making out minutes ago and it was heartwarming, it made Waverly love Nicole that much more.

Nicole brushed her lips against Waverly’s lightly, chaste, savoring the feel of Waverly’s lips against her own. Savoring the way Waverly gripping tightly to her shirt, pulling her in closer.

Savoring the way Waverly assaulted four of her five senses, the sound of Waverly’s soft moan as her tongue ran along Waverly’s bottom lip, the taste of Waverly’s strawberry chap-stick, the smell of Waverly’s lavender perfume and something so undeniably Waverly that made her lightheaded in the best way possible, the touch of Waverly’s fingers moving along her jawline gently, before grasping firmly, keeping her in place.

When Waverly finally pulled away, she pressed a light kiss to the tip of Nicole’s nose. She never wanted to stop kissing those plump, perfect lips but she knew that if she didn’t get what she wanted to say out now then she may never do it.

“I spent my whole life being who everyone else wanted me to be, doing whatever I had to do to be accepted by the people in this town, hiding who I really am deep down inside and I was content with that, content with the fact that I would probably marry Champ Hardy, raise his kids and be nothing more than a housewife.” Waverly couldn’t help but to smile at the grimace crossing Nicole’s features.

“You deserve more than that, you deserve to put all those degrees under your belt to good use,” Nicole insisted with a firm nod of her head.

When she had told Nicole of the different degrees she had gotten over the past three years, Nicole encouraged her to do something with them, teach a class at the high school or even the local library. Nicole had told her that she was worth more than being just a small town waitress (not that Nicole thought there was anything wrong with being a waitress), that she had a beautiful, brilliant brain and she should use it.

Waverly remembered the pride she had felt at Nicole’s words. No one outside of her family had ever complimented her brain, had actually cared that she lived up to her full potential. It was one of the many things that made her fall for Nicole.

“I’m not finished.” Waverly pushed lightly at Nicole’s shoulder, before continuing. “But then you showed up here and you were a knight in a polyester uniform, that’s never up to the department’s dress code.” She pulled at Nicole’s shirt with a smile then ran her fingers over the smooth pale skin exposed from the top two buttons on the shirt being undone, watching Nicole’s eyes close and her lips part in a sigh.

“And you turned my whole world upside down, you made me realize that I deserved better than settling for Champ, that I deserved better than merely being content with my life, that I deserve to be happy, that I deserve to be with someone who truly cares about me, who sees me.”

She took one of Nicole’s hands and placed it against her heart, almost mirroring that night spent on Nicole’s couch. “And Nicole, you see me, you see the person I hide away in here, you see the real me and you know the real me and that scares the living hell out of me.”

“Well, isn’t that just beautiful,” Champ Hardy’s voice rang throughout the mostly empty saloon, breaking the moment Waverly and Nicole were in, ruining what very well could have been a confession of love.

Nicole sighed heavily and turned towards the front doors, towards Champ, blocking Waverly from Champ’s sigh in the process.

She wasn't about to let him attack Waverly over this, over them, over her. She'd defend Waverly, protect Waverly for him and anyone else in this town, in the world till her very last breath.

“What do you want Hardy?” Nicole asked, keeping her voice even.

She felt Waverly’s hand on the small of her back as she hopped down from the bar and came to stand beside her. So much for keeping Waverly out of Champ’s view.

Course she knew that Waverly could take care of herself but that didn’t mean that she didn't want to try and protect her from any kind of harm, especially from Champ Hardy.

Champ ignored Nicole and focused solely on Waverly, folding his arms across his chest, his upper lip twitching in anger.

“Two days, we’ve been broken up two days and you’re here kissing her !” Champ yelled, taking a threatening step towards them.

“Calm down,” Nicole warned him, taking a step forward as well. She wasn’t going to make a move unless he did. She didn’t want this to end in violence but she wouldn’t hesitant to act if he decided to try and lay hands on Waverly or herself.

“Shut up dyke, I’m not talking to you,” he sneered at her.

Champ!” Waverly hissed. “That’s uncalled for, Nicole has done nothing to deserve that, no one deserves to be talked to like that, called that.”

Champ was never perfect, not in all the time Waverly had known him and he had a ton of flaws but she never thought he was homophobic, never thought he would talk to someone like that, call someone something so hateful, so harmful.  

“She stole you away from me, she ruined our relationship and you just let her.” He was stepping forward again, hands balled into first at his sides. “Then you turn around and start making out with her the first chance you get, it’s disgusting , it’s sick.

“Back up,” Nicole ordered, holding her palm out and stepping in front of Waverly just a bit. She didn’t see Champ as the type to hurt Waverly, hurt a woman but she wasn’t going to take any chances. Anger made people do things they normally wouldn’t. Add anger and homophobia together, things could turn physical in seconds.

At this point in her life, after years of listening to her father calling her every name in the book, lobbing hateful words and names at her like grenades time and time again, she should be used to being called disgusting, sick but she wasn’t.

Those words still cut her like a knife, they were still heart breaking and soul crushing, they still made her so damn angry. But as much as it pained her, hurt her, it destroyed her that Champ was calling Waverly those things.

Waverly, who spent her whole life hiding who she really was from people for fear of rejection, judgement, did not deserve to be called those things, did not deserve to be made to feel bad and put down just for being attracted to the same sex.

Something in Nicole snapped, all that anger and resentment from her childhood that had long since been buried, came rushing to the surface. This fierce need to protect Waverly took over.

And when Champ tired to step around her to get to Waverly, she saw nothing but red. Gripping Champ’s forearm tightly, she spun him around to face her, fingers balled up into a perfect fist and anger burning inside her. Her arm came back and before she could stop herself, before Waverly could stop her, her fist collided with Champ’s right eye.

Champ staggered backwards as Nicole stared at him then her hand with wide eyes. She hadn’t meant to punch him. She hadn’t meant to react like that, to lash out like that.

Sure, she protected the people she loved, she has been doing it her whole life with Trent but hardly ever with violence. She was a very level headed person, who rarely lost her cool, who rarely acted without thought.

It may have felt good to finally punch that asshole but it was wrong. She was an officer of the law for God’s sake! She was in uniform. If Nedley found out about this, she could very well lose her job over one second of letting her emotions get the best of her or be put on desk duty for months (she wasn’t sure which was worse).

“You’re gonna pay for this bitch,” Champ seethed, glaring at her with one eye as he held her to the other. He left the saloon without another words with Nicole and Waverly just staring after him.

“Are you okay?” Nicole asked, voice low and shaky. Her first priority was making sure that Waverly was okay, she’d deal with the aftermath of punching Champ later.

“Are you okay?” Waverly questioned, turning towards Nicole and reaching for the shaking hand that she punched Champ with and running her thumb lightly over the slightly red knuckles. “I’ve never seen you look so angry.”

She wasn’t scared of Champ when he tried to get around Nicole to her. She knew that he wouldn’t have tried to hurt her. He probably would have just taken her hands in his and beg for another chance, like he had done a thousand times before.

And his words did hurt but she was so used to him being so cruel at times that it had barely fazed her in the moment.

What got her was Nicole. How angry she looked, the fire that had burned in her eyes, along with a far away look as if she wasn’t completely in that moment. How fast she had grabbed Champ, spun him around and punched him.

It didn’t scare her, Nicole didn’t scare her. It was quite the opposite in fact, it was strangely alluring in a way.

The way Nicole was so quick to protect her, defend her even though she didn’t necessarily need it. No one had ever done that for her before. She was so used to fighting her own battles, so used to taking people’s hateful words in stride or, just plain ignoring them that having Nicole defend her, protect her meant a lot to Waverly.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole said, looking down at her feet, almost sounding ashamed of herself and it broke Waverly’s heart. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way, I shouldn’t have hit him.”

“He deserved it,” Waverly reassured her, running her fingers up and down Nicole’s back when she leaned her head against Waverly’s shoulder.

She usually would never condone violence but just this once she would because Champ really did deserve it. Talking to them the way he did, trying to hurt them with a few well placed words, it honestly deserved a good punch.

“Whether he deserved it or not, I shouldn’t have hit him.” The heavy sigh Nicole let out hit Waverly’s neck, causing her to shiver. “If he tells Nedley, I could lose my job.”

“He’s not going to tell anyone, Nicole.”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

She sounded worried, fearful and Waverly wished she knew how to ease that fear, that worry. She knew that Nicole’s job meant everything to her.

Nicole had spent her whole life training to become a cop, endured hate and being mistreated by her own family because she wanted to be a cop and, if Champ filed a formal complaint against Nicole and cost her her job then Waverly would be the next one to punch him.

Though she highly doubted that he would file a complaint or tell anyone that Nicole had punched him for fear of looking weak, for fear of being made fun of by his friends because he got hit by a girl.

“On top of being a raging homophobe , Champ is also sexist,” Waverly reminded her, kissing Nicole’s hair. “He won’t tell anyone that a girl gave him a black eye.”

Nicole lifted her head from Waverly’s shoulder and gave her a small smile “I have to get back to work but um,” Nicole rubbed the back of her neck, looking down at her feet shyly. “Do you, um, maybe wanna have dinner with me tonight?”

She had no idea why she was so nervous. It’s not like she was asking Waverly out on a date. She wanted to. She wanted nothing more than to go out on a date with Waverly but she needed time to plan a perfect date because, Waverly deserved perfect. And she needed more than a couple hours notice to plan a date worthy of Waverly Earp.

“Officer Haught, are you asking me out on a date?” Waverly smirked up at the suddenly shy and nervous redhead. It was always surprising to see that confidence Nicole walked around with weaver just a bit and Waverly found shy and nervous Nicole absolutely adorable.

“No, eating grilled cheeses on my living room floor isn’t good enough for our first date,” Nicole said, leaning down to press a kiss to Waverly’s forehead.  

“That sounds good enough to me, Nicky.” Waverly wrapped her arms around Nicole’s waist, leaning her against Nicole’s chest as Nicole’s arms wrapped around her, pulling her in closer until their bodies were completely flushed together.

Grilled cheeses and conversations on Nicole’s living room floor was better than any date Champ had ever taken her on.

“I want our first date to be perfect, you deserve perfect Waverly.”

“I don’t know what I did to deserve someone like you,” Waverly whispered against Nicole’s chest.

Upon hearing Waverly’s words, Nicole stepped out of the embrace and tilted Waverly’s head up slightly til their eyes met. “You deserve everything good in this world Waverly, you deserve to be treated like you are the most important thing in the world, you deserve to be happy, don’t ever forget that, okay?”

Waverly nodded then stood up on her tippy toes and pressed her lips to Nicole’s lightly.

She’ll never get over just how amazing Nicole is. She’ll never get over how Nicole actually makes her feel like she does deserve all those things. She’ll never get over how Nicole makes her feel loved and cared for so easily.

“Have dinner with me please?” Nicole asked again when she broke the kiss, scooping her stetson off the bar and placing it on her head. “We’ll finish talking and then we can talk about your sister being back in town if you want.“

“I’d love to have dinner with you, Nicky,” Waverly smiled at her as Nicole walked backwards towards the door grinning at her.

“I’ll see you tonight, about 7ish.”


 

When Nicole got home that night at a quarter to six, she was exhausted, starving and debating on whether or not to eat a small snack before dinner with Waverly but the shouting in the living room had her by passing the kitchen and heading straight towards the noise.

“You cheated, you asshat,” Trent said as Nicole stood in the entry way, taking in the scene before her.

Trent sat on the floor into front of the tv, headset on his head, Xbox controller in hand, a bowl filled with her favorite chips, that she had hidden at the very back of the pantry to keep him out of them.

She loved having her brother here, loved being able to spend time with him and being able to talk to him about certain things she felt she couldn’t share with anyone else but, honestly she was getting tired of him eating all of the snacks she bought for herself.

He wasn’t a moocher or anything, he left money to help cover the food he had eaten but he expected her to do all the shopping after a long day at work while he was off doing whatever it was he did when he was out with Amy and Chrissy.

Nicole was glad that he made some friends here, that he had something to do while she was gone all day at work or with Waverly, or holed up in the library or Eric’s house going over old case files but she was worried about him though.

He had a job, an apartment, a siberian husky named Joel, a life back home and here he was, crashing on her couch, playing her Xbox and ignoring life outside of Purgatory, ignoring his responsibilities.

“What are you doing?” Nicole asked, walking over to him, grabbing the bowl of chips then moving to sit next to McGonagall on the couch.

“Playing Halo.”

“I can see that asshat.” She rolled her eyes at the back of his head, tossing one of the red throw pillows at him. “I mean what are you doing here, Trenten?”

He sighed deeply, pausing his game and turning around to face his sister. “Do you not want me here anymore?”

He sounded almost resigned, like he had been waiting for this moment, waiting to be kicked out of her apartment. Not that she would ever actually do that to him.

“I love having you here Trent,” she said, motioning him to come sit next to her. “But what about your job at the hospital? What about your apartment? What about Joel? What about your life back home?”

He turned the Xbox off, took the headset off his head, placing it and the controller back inside the cabinet the Xbox sat on. Pushing himself up off the floor, he shuffled over to the couch, plopping down next to her and leaning his head on her shoulder.

He knew that eventually they would be having this talk but he was hoping to prolong it for as long as possible or at least until his plan had come together.

“I quit my job Nicky, gave up my apartment, Joel is staying with Grandpa until I find a permanent place to live and home has always been where you are, you are my home, you’re my family.”

“You quit your job? Why?”

“Do you know how hard it is to work in a hospital with your mother, your aunts, your sister and your cousins?” He asked, lifting his head to look at her. “Do you know how hard it is to work in a place where no one respects you because your family treats you like you can’t do your job?”

“About as hard as growing up with those people?”

The one thing their family hated more than her becoming a cop was Trent becoming a nurse and they tried time and time again to force him into becoming a cop but Nicole and their grandpa had always been there pushing and encouraging him to follow his dream, be who he wanted to be, not who their family wanted him to be.

“What are you going to do now?” Nicole asked, pulling Trent into a side hug.

Being a nurse meant as much to him as being a cop meant to Nicole. She knew that he wasn’t going to give up on his dream to help heal people, take care of them so easily and she would do whatever it took to help him succeed.  

She remembered the late nights they spent over skype helping him study for test and memorize the names of different medicines. He worked so damn hard to become a nurse

“Chrissy and Amy have been helping me look for places to live around town, helping me prepare for my interview at a hospital in the city tomorrow morning,” he said lowly, unsure of how she would take him wanting to move into her home, her town.

The people in this town were a family and they loved Nicole. Not one of them has a bad thing to say about her, except for maybe Champ but, who really cares what he has to say? Nicole hadn’t been in this town very long but she managed to make this place her home, she managed to make theses people her people, her family and he wanted that. He wanted to be apart of a community like that, he wanted to be apart of this community.

“If that’s okay with you?” He chanced a look at his sister, who looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face.

She broke into a wide smile, pulling him into a tight hug and whispered. “I would love nothing more than to have you here with me, baby boy.”

“I hate when you call me that,” he mumbled, pulling back to glare at Nicole halfheartedly.

“I know.” She smiled at him, giving his cheek an affectionate pat before getting up from the couch and heading to her bedroom to change out of her uniform and into something more comfortable.

“Do you wanna have dinner with Amy, Chrissy and I tonight?” He asked, following her down the hall and stopping just outside the door, leaning against the wall and staring up at the ceiling.

“I’m having dinner with Waverly.”

“You have dinner with Waverly almost every night,” he reminded her. “Come hang out with us, do something different for once, besides I thought you were keeping your distance from her for awhile.”

Don’t get him wrong, he loved Waverly and wanted nothing more than to see the two of them together but, he loved his sister more and cared more about her not getting hurt than anything else.

“Tonight is different,” Nicole said, opening her bedroom door, dressed in her favorite pair of basketball shorts and a black tank top with tiny claw marks near the hem from McGonagall. She walking past him and into the bathroom to take her hair out of its braid and brush it out.

“How so?” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe to the bathroom.

“It just is.” She smiled at her reflection in the mirror.

She wanted to tell him what happened with Waverly today. She wanted to tell him that Waverly felt the same, that Waverly wanted her just as much as she wanted Waverly. She wanted to tell him every single detail because she told him everything but, she didn’t want to out Waverly until she was ready.

So, she would happily keep things between them a secret for as long as Waverly wanted. As long as she had Waverly, she was happy.

“Alright, well I’ll see you later then,” he said, pushing himself off the door frame and walking down the hall towards the front door, grabbing his phone and keys as he went. “Just remember what we talked about the other day.”


Three light knocks sounded at Nicole’s door five minutes to seven and Nicole couldn’t help but to smile to herself as she practically skipped to the door. In the few hours that they had been apart, she had missed Waverly, missed gazing upon her gorgeous face, missed being around Waverly and making her laugh.

She just missed Waverly. And maybe missing her so much in such a short amount of time was a problem. Was it healthy to miss someone the second you weren’t with them? Nicole wasn’t sure if it was or not but, honestly she couldn’t bring herself to care because, Waverly was here and they were going to finish talking and that’s all that matter to Nicole in that moment.

As excited she was for Waverly to be here, for them to finish talking, she was also apprehensive about it all. Worried that maybe in the hours since this afternoon that Waverly may have changed her mind, had decided that being with her wasn’t worth the harsh words people may whisper about her, the dirty looks they may give, wasn’t worth the risk of people not accepting her and was just coming to tell her in person.

Taking a deep breath in through her nose, pushing away all her worries and fear, Nicole released the chain on the and unlocked the deadbolt (someone was ripping the heads off people in Purgatory, she couldn’t be too careful).  

As soon as Nicole opened the door, Waverly launched herself at Nicole, sending them staggering back a bit as Nicole scrambled to hold the smaller woman upright. Waverly kicked the door closed with her right foot as she pushed Nicole into the hall wall with a dull thud and a low, surprised moaned from Nicole, pressing their lips together in a searing kiss.

She couldn't wait another second, couldn't wait for them to even say hello to one another before she had another taste of Nicole. She had spent all day distracted, overfilling beers, spilling said beers all over the bar when she put them down with more focus than necessary, thinking of nothing but Nicole and her confession, of her plump lips that tasted like something close to heaven.

She needed to kiss Nicole and she needed to kiss her now before either one of them had the chance to change their minds (not that she was going to), before they finished their talk.

It only took Nicole a few seconds to get over her initial shock and kiss Waverly back with fervour.

Delicate fingers wove their way into silky red hair as Nicole switched their positions, pinning Waverly against the wall with ease.  

Nicole’s fingers stroked her bare sides as she nipped at Waverly’s bottom lip lightly before kissing along her jaw and down her neck. Tugging at red hair, Waverly gasped into the quiet hallway when Nicole’s teeth sunk into her pulse point lightly.

A dull throbbing started between Waverly’s thighs as Nicole sucked at her neck softly, her blunt nails digging into her hips.

Nicole pressed one last soft kiss to Waverly’s neck before pulling back and removing her hands from Waverly’s hips. She rested her forehead against Waverly’s, panting as she gave Waverly a lopsided grin.

“That was quite the greeting Miss Earp.”

Heat crept up Waverly’s neck and cheeks as Nicole continued to grin at her with those adorable dimples on display, those brown eyes burning with arousal and a playfulness that had Waverly’s heart threatening to beat right out her chest.

“Sorry, I just really needed to kiss you,”

“You won’t find me complaining,” Nicole smirked, kissing the tip of her nose.

Waverly blushed harder, looking away from Nicole’s smug face and down, eyes trailing over pale shoulders and collarbone, over pale breasts practically spilling out of the tank top, causing Waverly bit her bottom lip as her eyes continued down along pale long legs hidden beneath dark blue basketball shorts.

She always found Nicole to be most beautiful when she was dressed down, dressed simple, comfortable, with her red hair framing her face.

“I think I’m overdressed,” Waverly said voice thick with her arousal as she motioned to her own clothes, a white three quarter sleeve blouse that stopped just above her navel and her usual high waisted jeans.

“I think,” Nicole’s fingers trailed up Waverly’s arms, along her collarbone and dipped a finger just underneath the neckline of her shirt, her smirk growing when Waverly’s breath hitched and goosebumps appeared in the wake of her fingers. “You look absolutely beautiful.”

“But,” Nicole stepped back from Waverly, dropping her hand. “If you want, you are welcome to borrow something to wear.”

As much as she didn’t want back away, didn’t want to quit touching Waverly, she knew they’d spend all night pressed against this wall if she didn’t put some kind of space between them.

“I’m going to go get started on the grilled cheeses, make yourself at home, baby.”

Before Nicole could head towards the kitchen, Waverly grabbed the back of Nicole’s neck and pulled her into a rough kiss that left them both panting against one another.

“I like when you call me that,” Waverly whispered against her lips before releasing her neck and pushing her away lightly. “You cook, I’ll change.”

Nicole nodded dumbly at her, a goofy smile on her face as she headed towards the kitchen.


 

After dinner they ended up on the couch, Nicole resting against the arm of the couch with Waverly pressing against her front as they halfheartedly paid attention to the movie playing on the tv.

“What are you thinking about?” Nicole asked, fingers drawing random patterns on Waverly’s thigh, where the slightly too big basketball shorts had ridden up, exposing creamy skin that Nicole couldn’t keep her hands off of.

“You, me, whatever it is between us.”

Fear and insecurity spiked through Nicole’s chest, the movement of her fingers faltered and her body stiffened against Waverly’s.

This was it, wasn’t it? The other shoe had finally dropped. That thing where everything went to shit when she was actually happy had happened again. Waverly had decided that she really didn’t want this, didn’t want her.

Nicole swallowed past the lump that had formed in her throat. She needed to know, even if it killed her. “D-do you regret it?”

“What?” Waverly twisted around to look at Nicole, taking in the fear shining in those brown eyes.

How could she still not get that she wanted her? Wanted to be with her. How much damage did her ex do to her? How broken was she underneath those walls she had up? How did she make Nicole understand that she could never regret what happened between them?

She turned fully to face the redhead and cupped her cheeks, kissing her softly, trying to put everything she felt for Nicole into that one kiss. “I could never regret this, regret us, Nicky, I could never regret you or finally being honest with myself, or finally going after what will make me happy, I want to be with you, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

“Promise?” Nicole asked, voice barely above a whisper. All that confidence that she walked around with, was gone, replaced with that insecurity she kept buried.

“I promise Nicole.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks and Waverly was quick to wipe them away. She didn’t mean to be so needy, to need Waverly to reassure every little fear she had. She should be strong. Waverly was the one going through something completely new, was the one coming to term with the fact that she was bisexaul, she should be the one freaking out, not Nicole.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered, looking away from Waverly’s concern filled eyes. “I just, I hav-”

“Been hurt before,” Waverly interrupted gently, running her fingers through Nicole’s hair.

“I thought I was over it, you know? But I guess, there’s some things you don’t get over.”

“We can talk about it if you want?”

She wouldn’t push Nicole to talk about it because Nicole never pushed her. But she would make sure Nicole knew that if she didn’t want to talk about it that she was here for her.

“Can we just lay here for awhile?”

“Whatever you need.” Waverly stood, motioning for Nicole to scoot forward so she could slip in behind her.

Waverly wrapped her arms around Nicole, pulling their bodies together and kissed the top of Nicole’s head.

“Whatever you need, Nicky.”

Chapter Text

Moonlight filtered in through the open bedroom window, bringing with it a cool breeze that washed along Nicole’s bare shoulders, causing her to shiver as she and Waverly sat in the middle of her king size bed with a bowl of popcorn between them as they talked.

They moved from the couch sometime after Trent came home with his trademark crooked smile on face and a hickey on the side of his neck. Which he had refused to tell who gave it to him. They hung out with him for a bit. He and Nicole played Halo for a while and Nicole even tried teaching Waverly how to play.

Waverly had picked it up fairly quickly for someone who had never played video games in her life. Which Nicole had found surprising, she pegged Champ for a gamer (the type who harassed any girl brave enough to use a headset). Though she guess that even if Champ had been a gamer, he probably wouldn’t have taken the time to show Waverly how to play.

Trent had kicked them out of the living around 10, needing to get some sleep for his interview tomorrow morning. So, they raided the kitchen for beer and snacks to hold them over for the night, popcorn for the both of them, chocolate chip cookies for Nicole and cheese for Waverly.

They started out talking about little things, stuff that wouldn’t matter to anyone but the two of them but somewhere along the way the topic had turned to their childhoods. And while Nicole never really liked talking about her childhood with anyone, for Waverly she would.

It was only fair that if Waverly was going to be revealing things about her childhood, things she's never told anyone else then Nicole should do the same, would do the same.

To Nicole it was an even trade. She wanted to know more about Waverly, about the things she's been through, about what her life was like growing up. Reliving some painful memories was worth knowing Waverly more, better.

“When did you know you liked girls?” Waverly asked, her fingers stroking along the side of Nicole’s muscular calf that was stretched out beside her.

It was a question she had wanted to ask Nicole since the moment she started having feeling for Nicole but she had always been too afraid of Nicole questioning why she wanted to know to ask.

Nicole leaned her upper body over the side of the bed and picked up her beer from the floor, taking a long, slow swig from it.

Waverly watched with rapt interest as droplets of condensation dripped from the bottle onto the skin exposed by Nicole’s low cut tank top. She followed the droplets with her eyes as they slide slowly down Nicole’s chest and disappeared into her cleavage.

She never found women attractive before Nicole, never found herself staring at another woman the way she stared at Nicole.

Sure, she could appreciate when a woman was beautiful but she had never wanted to run her fingers through a woman’s hair before, she had never wanted to kiss every inch of exposed skin, she had never wanted to trail her fingers up long, tone pale legs before. She had never wanted  to do any of those things to another woman before Nicole.

Nicole tapped Waverly’s thigh with her foot, causing Waverly’s eyes to snap up to hers, the tips of her ears and her cheeks turning a deep shade of red at being caught staring. “My eyes are up here, Earp.”

If possible, Waverly blushed harder and ducked her head causing her hair to fall in front of her face acting as curtain, shielding Waverly from the smug grin on Nicole’s face.

Nicole leaned over the popcorn bowl, brushing the hair out of Waverly’s face and tucking it behind her ear. “Don’t hide, you’re beautiful when you blush.”

Nicole was possibly the only person in this whole damn town that actually made her feel beautiful, inside and out. Nicole was the only person that made her feel like all her quirks, all the things the people in town didn't like about her, all the things she kept buried deep inside were loveable.

Waverly pressed her lips to Nicole's in a slow, soft kiss that tasted of buttery popcorn.

When she pulled away, Nicole’s eyes were still closed and there was the most gorgeous, awestruck smile gracing her features.

“How do you do this to me, Waverly Earp?” Nicole whispered, her eyes opening slowly, looking at Waverly with wonder, amazement.

“Do what?”

“This.” Nicole reached forward, grasping one of Waverly’s hands in her own than pressed Waverly’s palm against her rapidly beating heart. “You manage to send my heart skyrocketing with a single, chaste kiss.”

This time it’s Nicole who blushes as she lets go of Waverly’s hand and caresses Waverly’s jaw and cheek. “No one has ever done that for me, I’ve never felt this way before, Waverly. You said I scare you but you scare me, what you make me feel scares me because if I- I.”

Nicole shook her head softly, taking a deep breath to try and rein in her emotions. She needed to get this out in the open. She needed Waverly to know how serious she was about this, about them.

She wouldn’t say ‘I love you’, not yet. It would be too much, too soon for Waverly. Waverly was just starting to figure who she really was and what she really wanted and saying ‘I love you’, ‘I’m in love with you’ would put unnecessary pressure on her and Nicole didn’t want to do that. Even though Nicole loved her with every ounce of her being and wanted to shout it to the world.

She wouldn’t say the words but she needed Waverly to know this, her were everything to her. She needed Waverly to know that she was all in. She needed Waverly to know that her heart was hers and she had all the power here.

Nicole was helplessly in love with Waverly and Waverly had the ability to break her, destroy her.

“It’s okay,” Waverly whispered, her thumb moving back and forth over Nicole’s heart, looking into Nicole’s eyes, that were shining with unshed tears. “I know.”

She did know. She knew because Nicole held that same power over her. Nicole was the only person in the world who had the ability to break her, destroy her.

“You know?” Nicole asked, voice wavering.

Waverly nodded, moving the popcorn bowl to the floor along with Nicole’s beer then opened her arms up for Nicole, in the same way Nicole had done for her a countless number of times over the course of their friendship.

Nicole was in Waverly’s arms in second, her ear pressed against Waverly’s chest, listening to the steady beating of her heart, using it to calm her as Waverly ran her fingers through her hair.

Nicole had never really needed someone to hold her, comfort her when she was upset or dealing with something. She figured it was because she was on her own as a child, as a teenager. Her parents didn’t comfort her, her older siblings didn’t comfort her, so she grew up dealing with things on her own, she grew up to be someone who didn’t need other people, she grew up to be independent.

So needing Waverly to comfort her, hold her like this when she’s on the verge of crying, it’s new, it’s different. And maybe that’s one of the reasons her feelings for Waverly scare her because she’s never needed anybody in her life, not to comfort her, to take care of her, to be there for her but, she needed Waverly in all the ways someone could need another person.

Waverly continued to run her fingers through auburn locks, humming some old lullaby that Curtis used to sing to her when she was little, when she couldn’t sleep at night, when she woke up from a nightmare, when she felt like the world was closing in on her.

She was doing her best to calm Nicole. She didn't have to do it very often, Nicole kept a lot of things hidden, preferred to deal with the things bothering her, hurting her, upsetting her on her own. So she wasn't entirely sure what the best way to do that was but, she hoped that just being here, just holding her was enough.

Eventually Nicole's breathing slowed and her death grip on the shirt Waverly was wearing loosened but she didn’t move out of Waverly’s arms and Waverly didn’t stop humming, didn’t stop running her fingers through her hair.

“We had been together since we were seventeen, knew each other since we were kids, we went through everything together, came out together, faced homophobic parents and kids in high school together, we faced everything together,” Nicole said into Waverly’s chest, her fingers tracing random patterns along Waverly’s back.

She didn’t talk about it often, didn’t talk about her and the devastation she caused often, or at all really. She kept it buried deep down inside for two years and she didn’t talk about it or think about it.

“I was a month into the academy and she didn’t want to leave her job, leave our apartment, her family, she didn’t want to leave our hometown at least not until I was done with the academy and had a job, so I came home when I could, usually the weekends.”

It worked for a whole month and she thought they were good, that things were okay between them. She thought that after five years together that a little distance would be no problem for them but, she was wrong, she was so damn wrong.

“I had just aced an exam at the top of the class and I had pinned my instructor on the mat for the first time and I was riding a high, I felt great, I was on top of the world and the only thing I wanted to do was go home and see J-jennifer,” Nicole’s voice broke on the last word, on her name.

She was over Jennifer. She felt no love for her anymore, felt nothing but resentment and betrayal. Sometimes that resentment, that betrayal was all consuming. Sometimes it made her so angry that Nicole didn’t even recognize herself.

She gave everything she had to Jennifer. She gave every ounce of herself to Jennifer, every piece of her heart and soul. She gave everything to Jennifer and, Jennifer took it all, broke every single piece and threw it back in Nicole’s face like it meant nothing, like Nicole had meant nothing to her.

After that, after Jennifer, Nicole made a promise to herself that she would never love someone so much that they had the power to destroy her like that. She promised herself that she’d never fall in love with someone else again.

Then she came to Purgatory and it was supposed to be a fresh start, away from the parents that scarred her deeply, away from the siblings that were never there for her, away from the person that completely destroyed her.

Purgatory was supposed to a place to make a name for herself, a home, a place where she was going to put herself first and not fall in love but then, Nedley sent her into Shorty’s, she sat down at the bar and she saw the most beautiful woman, most beautiful person she had ever laid eyes on and she was a goner.

She met Waverly Earp. She got to know her and she fell in love with her. And she loved Waverly more than she ever thought possible, more than she had ever loved Jennifer. Unknowingly, unwillingly Nicole had given herself over to Waverly completely, had given Waverly the power to destroy her and it terrified her.

Waverly’s arm tightened around Nicole and she pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. “We don’t have to talk about this now.”

Nicole pulled away almost immediately and she looked at Waverly with cloudy brown eyes with swirls of gold in them and she shook her head no.

“I want to tell you, I want you to know everything about me, I want you to know what made me who I am.” She grasped Waverly’s hand in hers and placed it on her heart, just like earlier. “I need you to know everything that’s in here, I need you to know me better than anyone else.”

“Okay baby.” Waverly kissed her forehead softly and gave her an encouraging smile. “Okay, whatever you need.”

Nicole’s eyes softened and she looked at her with that same amazement, same wonder that she had earlier.

Waverly was sure that Nicole could hear how hard and fast her heart was beating as she continued to just stare at her, lips parted in breathless sigh and eyes brimming with affection.

She’d never tire of the way Nicole looked at her as if the sun rose and set with her, as if she was the answer to Nicole’s prayers. She’d never tire of the way her breath hitched when Nicole leaned in close. She’d never tire of the spark that ignited whenever Nicole so much as touched her.

Nicole’s forehead is pressed against her own, one of her hands is gripping the back of her neck firmly but still so gently, her other hand is caressing Waverly’s jaw and those eyes that leave Waverly breathless are gazing lovingly into her own.

“Say it again,” Nicole whispered.

“Whatever you need,” Waverly repeated, her hands falling to grasp Nicole’s hips.

“Not that,” Nicole chuckled lightly.

“Baby?” Waverly said in confusion, her eyebrows drawn together and her nose scrunched up in the most adorable way.

Nicole had been called baby by Jennifer more times then she could count and never once did it send her heart into overdrive, never once did it leave her breathless, never once did it feel like coming home, never once did it feel like she found where she belong, who she meant to be with.

A brilliant smile took over Nicole’s face, all pearly white teeth and gorgeous dimples, her nose crinkling in that way that Waverly loved and Waverly was in awe of how absolutely beautiful Nicole was.   

Nicole’s smile fell slowly, along with her hands and her eyes that had been filled with happiness just moments ago clouded with anger and betrayal.

Nicole moved until her head was in Waverly’s lap, her legs stretched out on the bed, fingers idly playing with Waverly’s shirt as she looked up at her.

Waverly began to run her fingers through Nicole’s hair again, just waiting for her to continue, not wanting to push her until she was ready.

“I figured I’d surprise her, you know? So I drove non-stop to get home,” her voice was barely above a whisper and her eyes never left Waverly’s. “There was a trail of clothes leading from the living room to the bedroom, which wasn’t all that odd because Jennifer was never big on picking up after herself, so I didn’t really think anything of it but then I opened our bedroom door and saw her in bed with another woman, one of our best friends and something in me just broke, in that instant my whole world came crumbling down.”

“Oh Nicky.” She was at a loss for words. She didn’t know what to say, what to do, how to help.

Things suddenly clicked into place for her though. Nicole's fear of her changing her mind, of her regretting their kiss, regretting what had happened between them.

It all made sense. Nicole had been hurt in possibly one of the most painful ways to hurt another human being and that’s not something you get over completely, it’s something you carry around with you, it’s something that makes you doubt everything good in your life, makes it hard to trust every person in your life, makes it feel like you’re not good enough for anything or anybody.

Champ had cheated on her and of course it had hurt very much the first couple of times but, Waverly was never in love with Champ the way Nicole had been in love with Jennifer. Waverly had never been betrayed by the person she loved more than anything. She could understand Nicole’s pain, her anger, the betrayal she felt but not fully.

Waverly couldn’t fathom someone hurting Nicole like that, betraying Nicole like that. Sweet, beautiful Nicole, who had such a kind heart, who always put others before herself. Nicole, who had been through so much hurt and pain because of her family, because of her dad. Nicole, who deserved nothing but happiness and to be loved.

“I think the thing that hurt the most was that she just let me go, she let me walk out that apartment without even putting up a fight for me, five years together and she just let me walk away without a word.”

There were no tears in her eyes but her voice broke slightly and her chin trembled as she looked away from Waverly.  

She didn't like to be weak in front of people, didn't like to show the things that bothered her, hurt her. She always had to stay strong, couldn't show any weakness. It’s how she survived, how she got through her childhood, how she got through high school.

“You deserve better.”

Nicole turned back towards her, that stupid smug smile she always had when she flirted firmly in place but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“I have you, can't get much better than that.”

“Ever the charmer,” Waverly said, leaning down to press a kiss to Nicole’s forehead. “But I’m serious Nicole, you deserve better than some girl who couldn’t see that she had everything good in this world because she had you.”

“Now who’s the charmer?”

“I’m serious, Nicky, you’re good, you’re perfect and Jennifer might not have seen that but, I do.” Waverly intertwined their fingers, bringing their hands up to her mouth and placed a soft kiss on each of Nicole’s knuckles. “I see you just like you see me.”

“I’m not perfect Waves, I have issues, sometimes I let my anger get the best of me, like earlier with Champ and sometimes I’m petty, sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me.” Nicole averted her eyes from Waverly’s and began spinning the jade ring on her finger.  “I have trust issues that go far beyond what Jennifer did to me and sometimes the insecurities that I keep buried come to the surface and I need reassurance that I’m still wanted, that I’m still not good enough, I’m not perfect.”

She sounded so sure of herself, so sure that she was anything but perfect, thing was though that she was perfect in Waverly’s eyes, perfectly imperfect. She just wished that she knew how to make Nicole see it, believe it.

Yeah, Nicole was flawed but so was everyone else in the world and if anyone in this world came close to being perfect, it would be Nicole Haught.

“We all have issues Nicky, we all have flaws, it’s what makes us human but that doesn’t make you any less perfect to me.”

“How did I get so lucky?” Nicole asked, sitting up and just looking at Waverly, letting her eyes roam over that breathtaking face, slowly.

Nicole was looking at her in that way she always did, in a way that made Waverly feel like she was the most beautiful person Nicole had ever seen, in a way that made Waverly feel like she was the most important person in the world to Nicole and it never failed to make Waverly swoon.

She wondered how she never saw how Nicole felt about her before today, how she could have been so damn blind for so damn long when Nicole always looked at her like that, like she hung the moon, like she was everything.

And God, how she hoped she was everything to Nicole because Nicole was everything to her.

Nicole moved up the bed until she was laying against her pillow then patted the spot next to her. “Come lay with me?”

Waverly compiled quickly, laying her head on Nicole's chest, throwing one of her legs over Nicole's thighs as her hand slipped under Nicole's tank top and laying flat against warm, muscular abs.

This wasn't the first time they had laid together like this, exactly like this but this time it felt different.

This time they knew how each other felt, there was no pretending that they didn't have feelings for one another. This time there was no pretending that friends behaved the way they did with each other, there was no pretending that friends cuddled together like this, that friends touched as often as they did.

This time it was just them with nothing to hide and nothing to lose.

Nicole’s breathing evened out and the fingers gliding up and down Waverly’s back slowed and Waverly wanted to let her sleep but she knew that if she didn’t talk about this now, she may never talk about it and Nicole may never know.

“I was four when momma left without a word, without an explanation,” Waverly said quietly, part of her hoping Nicole was already sleeping and wouldn’t hear her and she wouldn’t have to continue, wouldn’t have to tell Nicole half truths but, she wanted Nicole to know her, every bit of her even if some of it were half truths.

She never talked about her momma with anyone, mainly because she didn’t remember much about her, other than she used to make her hot chocolate when she was sad or not feeling well, other than that she used to fight with daddy almost non-stop. But she also didn’t talk about her because it still hurt to know that she wasn’t enough to make her stay.

Nicole’s arm wrapped around her, pulling her closer to her side and she laid a kiss to her hair, silently letting her know that she was there, that she was listening.

Nicole only knew what Amy had told her about Waverly’s family. Which boiled down to, Wynonna had shot and killed their father when she was twelve and had been in and out of trouble since. That was all she knew and she didn’t ask Waverly about it, didn’t push her to talk about because she knew that Waverly would tell her when she was ready, if she was ever ready.

“She just up and left Willa, Wynonna, and me with daddy, a man who barely did sober most days and could barely raise three kids with her, let alone on his own.”

Waverly closed her eyes, focusing on the steady beating of Nicole’s heart to get through this, get the words out, to tell Nicole about her childhood, about her family.

“Some days it was like I was invisible to him, like I didn’t even exist and on the days he did see me, on the days that I did exist to him, he was mean and cruel as if he blamed me for momma leaving.” Waverly tried to keep her voice even, tried to keep her emotions in check but her voice cracked at the end and the tears she had been keeping at bay for God knows how long, spilled over, soaking into Nicole’s tank top.

Waverly never felt like an Earp when her daddy and Willa were still alive. They made her feel like an outsider in her own home, like she was a stranger living with them, like she was nothing more than a burden to them.

Wynonna had been her saving grace, the only one to make her feel like she belonged in her own home, the only one who had cared for her after momma left.

Suddenly both of Nicole’s arms were around her, holding her as tightly as she could in their position. “It’s okay, Waves, I got you baby, I got you, just let it out.”

“Then there was Willa, she was the oldest and her and Wynonna got along so well, they were the best of friends but I was an inconvenience to Willa, the mistake that tore our family apart, I was the bratty little sister who followed her and Nonna around, who just wanted to be included, to be loved, to be seen.”

Waverly could feel Nicole’s jaw clench against the top of her head, she practically feel the anger radiating off of her. And she knew that if anyone in the world could understand wanting to be included, loved and seen that it would be Nicole, who had been an outsider in her own home as well.

Their lives, their childhoods may have been completely different but they both suffered that same kind of exclusion, that same feeling of being unwanted by their family, that same loneliness that came with being treated like a stranger, like a burden by your family.

“I promise you’ll never feel excluded, never feel invisible, never feel unloved again, you’ll always be seen Waverly,” Nicole said with conviction.  

Waverly looked up at her, just barely able to see anything but her chin and jawline from this angle but she can see the determination to keep that promise in the hard set of her jaw, can almost picture the fire burning in her eyes and she felt this overwhelming need to tell Nicole that she loved her, that she always felt included, always felt seen and always, always felt loved when they are together but she doesn’t.

No matter how much she wanted to, she doesn’t say the words, it’s too soon. Instead, she kissed the edge of Nicole’s jaw and nuzzled her jawline and throat before continuing.

“Nonna, she tried to give me all the love and attention I needed, she tried to be the parent and sister I needed, she really did but she was just a kid herself, she didn’t know how to take care of herself, let alone me.”

Wynonna tried to be it all. The perfect daughter, the perfect sister who was on both Willa’s and Waverly’s side, the perfect motherly figure that Waverly needed. She tried to be everything Waverly needed and Waverly would be forever grateful that. It was one of the reason she couldn't  stay mad at Wynonna, couldn’t really blame her for leaving, for being gone for so long.

“She protected me though, from Willa and from daddy but she wasn’t always around. Sometime after momma left Willa caught me going through daddy’s dresser and promised not to tell if I walked across one of the beams in the barn.”

“What?” Nicole sat up quickly so she could get a good look at Waverly. “She made you do what?”

Nicole’s eyes looked over Waverly’s body, checking for any signs of her having fell from that beam. Sure, in her mind she knew that it had been years ago and that Waverly was okay but, that part of her that needed to protect Waverly, take care of her, keep her safe needed to see it for herself, see it with her own eyes.  

How could someone be so cruel, so hateful to make a four year old Waverly nearly kill herself over something so small, so stupid. How could anyone treat sweet, sweet Waverly like that?

Once she was done looking Waverly over, she pulled the smaller woman against her chest, holding her there tightly. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.”

“I only went through it for a few years Nicky, but you went through stuff like that your whole life,” Waverly mumbled against Nicole’s chest.

“That doesn’t make what you went through, your pain irrelevant, Waverly.”

“I know,” Waverly said, her arms snaking around Nicole’s waist as she nuzzled her warm, creamy skin.

There was something about being in Nicole’s arms that made talking about painful memories easier. There was something about being in Nicole’s arms that made her feel protected and safe. There was something about being in Nicole’s arms that made her feel like nothing in the world could hurt her.

There was something about being in Nicole’s arms that made Waverly feel like she belonged, like she was home .

“When I was six, these men came to the homestead, they took Willa and they dragged daddy out in the yard and Wynonna, she took daddy’s gun and tried to save them, save daddy.”

She never talked about the night Willa and her daddy was killed because no one would understand. It’s not like she could tell anyone the truth, that demons had come to the homestead and dragged her daddy and Willa out. Wynonna had tried that and all it got her was a one way ticket to a mental institution.

“But she shot your daddy on accident,” Nicole finished for her when hot tears hit her chest and Waverly’s breath hitched.

Wynonna accidentally killing their daddy when trying to save him explained that haunted look Nicole had seen in her eyes the other day. Explained why people called the Earps cursed. It explained so much and it broke her heart that both Waverly and Wynonna had to go through something like that, something so horrible at such a young age.

“How did you know?”

“People talk Wave, I try not to listen but some things get through.”

“Why don’t you listen?” Waverly pulled away to look at her.

Everyone listened to the things people said about her, about her family. It was one of the reasons Waverly had such a hard time making friends growing up, making friends now. It was why Waverly tried so hard to be what everyone wanted her to be, tried so hard to change their opinions of her.

“Everything I learn about you, everything I know about you I want to learn from you, not from the people in this town who only gossip because they don’t have anything better to do.” Nicole cupped Waverly’s face in her hands, their eyes meeting. “The things I learn from you I want to learn from moments like this, no one can tell me that your breath hitches whenever we’re this close, no one can tell me that you snore in your sleep, that you hog the bed and the blanket, no one can tell me that you find the most comfort from a hand at the small of your back.” One of Nicole’s hands left Waverly’s cheek and moved to the small of her back, bringing them closer. “No one can tell me that you sleep better when you can hear someone else’s heartbeat, no one can tell me all the things I want to know about you, so why listen?”  

There was so many things Waverly wanted to tell Nicole, wanted Nicole to know but in that moment, she couldn’t think of a single thing to say. She couldn’t think past the feel of Nicole’s hand gliding underneath her shirt, the feel of Nicole’s warm breath, that smelt of beer and popcorn, hitting her lips, the feel of Nicole’s body against hers.

She couldn’t think past the need, the want to kiss Nicole until the two of them are both gasping for air and Nicole gave her that breathtaking awestruck smile of hers, with those dimples on display.

And she was going to do just that. She was going to spend the rest of the night kissing Nicole, they could finish talking another time.

“Kiss me,” Waverly whispered, caressing the underside of Nicole’s jaw, drawing her closer.

Nicole smiled at her, tangling her fingers in the hair at the nape of Waverly’s neck and brought her closer until their lips almost touched “With pleasure.”

Chapter Text

When Nicole walked into the station the next morning, with a skip in her step and coffee for both her and Eric, her smile was immense.

She had woken up in bed with Waverly, woken up with Waverly in her arms on multiple occasions but this morning was different.

This morning she was able to enjoy the feel of Waverly fast asleep on top of her without fear that she was crossing some line. This morning she was able to run her fingers along the soft, warm skin of Waverly’s thigh without crossing that line between friends and something more. This morning she was able to wake Waverly with light kisses without any kind of worry of ruining their friendship. This morning she woke up with Waverly and there was no worry, there was no fear, only this feeling of being home, only happiness.

This morning they were more than best friends, they were…. Well Nicole wasn’t sure exactly what they were. They hadn’t actually talked about it. Sure, they’ve made out and admitted their feelings for one another but, did that mean they were dating? She hoped so but she wasn’t entirely sure where they stood at the moment.

“You were smiling so wide a second ago, I thought your face might split in two but now you look like a kicked puppy,” Eric said, nodding his thanks for the coffee that Nicole placed on his desk on the way to hers. “What the hell happened in the span of two seconds to ruin your good mood?”

“Nothing, I’m good.” She sipped her coffee as she set her steton on her desk, then sat in her chair, getting started on the paperwork she didn't finish yesterday.

“You are a terrible liar Haught.” He shook his head at her but didn't push. She'd tell him when she was ready, if she wanted to talk about it at all.

She shrugged. “I always thought that was a good thing.”

“Oh it is,” he said, rolling his chair over to her desk and propping his feet up, smirking when she scoffed at him. “It’s great for the people around you but, not so much for you, it could really, really hurt you.”

“How so?” She asked, pushing his feet off her desk and looking at this man, her partner who was like an older brother to her, who was the older brother she had always wanted.

She had three older brothers and not one of them looked out for her the way Eric has done since the moment they met. Her older brothers hadn’t took an interest in her life like the way Eric had. Eric has been more of a brother to her than any of her older brothers.

“People will always know when you’re lying, they will always know the truth because you can’t lie, because the truth shines so clearly in your eyes, because you are an honest person through and through and because you can’t lie, you can’t protect yourself, you can’t protect that heart of gold you have,” he explained, tapping her heart twice. “You are like a little sister to me, Haught, and I worry that that heart of gold you have, the heart that makes you who you are, makes you kind and honest, makes you want nothing more than to help other people, I worry it’s going to get broken and it’s going to change you.”

“I’ve had my heart broken before Eric, it didn’t change me.”

“Did you love the woman that broke your heart as much as you love Waverly?”

Nicole didn’t say anything, just looked away from his gaze and focused back on her paperwork but that was an answer in itself.

“Just take care of yourself Haught, put yourself first, protect your heart and God, please don’t let her or anyone else change you because you are a good person and the world would be worse off if you changed.” Eric sighed and squeezed her shoulder before moving back to his desk.

She wanted to tell him that Waverly felt the same way she did, that he had nothing to worry about, that Waverly wasn’t going to break her heart, that loving Waverly wasn’t going to change her in a negative way, loving Waverly was only going to make her better.

“I’ll take care of myself,” she promised, looking towards the station's doors as Deputy Marshal Dolls stormed through the lobby towards the offices he had commanded without a glance their way.

Wynonna came in after him, coffee in one hand and a powder doughnut in the other, following after the Deputy Marshal before stopping and turning towards her and Eric.

“Hey Red, come here a second.” Wynonna stopped at the front desk and waved her over.

Nicole looked over at Eric with an arched eyebrow and he rolled his eyes at her.

“Well, she certainly isn’t calling me red.” He made a show of running his fingers through his blonde hair.

Swallowing down the sudden nervousness she felt, Nicole stood and made her way over to the other woman.

There was no real reason for her to be nervous about talking with Waverly’s sister, other than the fact that she was Waverly’s sister and she meant everything to Waverly and Nicole, she just wanted Wynonna to like her.

“How can I help you Miss Earp?”

“You Haught, Nicole Haught?”

Nicole looked down at the name tag pinned to her shirt then back up at Wynonna. “Nah, I just found this nametag on the sidewalk and put it on, figured I’d try being a cop for a day.”

Wynonna narrowed her eyes at Nicole before smirking at her from behind her coffee, though it didn’t reach her eyes. They were still haunted, guarded, distrustful.

Not that Nicole blamed her, not in the slightest. If the town she grew up in did nothing but bad mouthed her, treated her like she was crazy, cursed then she would be distrustful of anyone and everyone she met too.

“Sassy, I like it, you’re friends with Waverly right?”

“I am.” Nicole nodded.

Wynonna leaned over the desk, closer to Nicole and Nicole could smell the hint of whiskey on her breath just underneath the coffee. “You the one that gave Champ the black eye?”  

Nicole whipped her head around sharply, making sure no one especially Nedley was in earshot. The last thing she needed was for Nedley or anyone at the station hearing about her punching Champ.

She wondered how Wynonna found out about it. Surely, if it was all over town already (which wouldn’t be surprising, Purgatory was small and gossip spread faster than wildfire around here, especially if an Earp was involved), Eric would have known and he would have said something, told her to stay out of trouble.

“I have no idea what you are talking about Earp.” Nicole folded her arms over her chest and gave the older woman a half hearted glare.

She didn’t have it in her to be mean to this woman, who underneath the laidback attitude, underneath the leather jacket and the big ass gun on her hip, was broken. She could see it in her blue eyes, the flash of pain and regret that went through them when she mentioned Waverly. She may have seemed closed off but her eyes, they gave everything away.

Nicole couldn’t be outright mean to her, she couldn’t even pretend to be mean, not after she found out some of the stuff she had been through from Waverly last night. Wynonna deserved a break, a friend.

Wynonna leaned further over the front desk, lowering her voice so no one could hear. “Come on, Waverly told me about it, I bet it felt great to punch that douchebag in the face.”

Her blue eyes sparkled with amusement and the tiniest bit of happiness and Nicole didn’t have the heart to snuff it out. Apparently she had a weakness for the Earps and their sad, sad eyes.

And maybe that weakness she has for the Earps will bite her in the ass one day but, she could live with that. The Earps, they needed as many people as they could get on their side, they needed friends, people to care about them and look out for them and Nicole, she’d be that person, not just for Waverly but for Wynonna too. You know, if Wynonna let her.

“It felt incredible to punch that dick in the face.” Nicole winked, grinning when Wynonna cracked a smile, a small one but a smile nonetheless.

She felt that same pride, same happiness she had whenever she was able to make Waverly smile when she was feeling down, when she was sad.

Wynonna placed her doughnut in her mouth and held up her hand for a high five.

Nicole stared at the offered hand, covered in white powdered sugar and grimaced.

She wasn’t a germaphobe, she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty when needed but she loathed the feeling of powdered sugar on her hands and she didn’t know why. She had just always hated ever since she was little, hated the feeling of it caked under her fingernails, hated how it got on everything but life had disappointed Wynonna enough, had beat her down enough, people have let Wynonna down enough that Nicole could live with it just this once.   

She reluctantly held her own up, her grimace turning into a smile as Wynonna smirked around the doughnut and hit their hands together with a loud smack sounding around the quiet station.  

Nicole jerked her hand away as it began to sting, cursing. “Dammit Earp.”

“How’s Waverly been since Curtis?” Wynonna asked with a nonchalant tone as if she didn't really care but her eyes, they told a completely different story. They were filled to the brim with worry and a fierce love and protectiveness that one only had for a sibling.

“She’s doing as okay as she can, she misses him a lot but she's getting by,” Nicole said before asking. “How are you doing?”

Wynonna stared at her for a long moment, her eyes guarded again, distrustful, as if she thought Nicole had some ulterior motive for asking.

And once again, Nicole understood that. She knew that when you’ve been hurt by so many people, when people have let you down time and time again you begin question people's motives, you question when they take a sudden interest you.

“Psssh me? I’m great.” She gave an unconvincing smile then nodded before gulping down half of her coffee, turning her head towards the Black Badge offices where Deputy Marshal Dolls was calling for her. “Later Red.”

“Have a good day, Wynonna,” Nicole called after the retreating woman, who gave a wave of her hand in return.

Nicole walked back to her desk, ignoring the questioning look Eric sent her way.

“You punched Champ Hardy?” Eric asked, his tone stern, the same one he used when giving someone a ticket but he was having trouble keeping his smirk in check.

“I am an officer of the law, I do not go around punching civilians.”

“Nicole Haught, you’re my hero.” Eric grinned at her, pride shining in his eyes. “You really shouldn’t go around punching people but I’m sure Hardy deserved it.”

Nedley stepped out of his office, glaring at the two officers. “I don’t pay you two to sit around and goof off, go to the hospital and try talking Nancy into a restraining order again.”

“Yes Sir.” Nicole stood from her desk quickly, gathering her things.

Nedley had been in a bad mood ever since Black Badge moved into the station and had taken to taking his frustrations out on Nicole and Eric, which usually ended with them all being in pretty bad moods by the end of the day but Nicole and Eric tried to take it all in stride.

They understood the pressure Nedley was under. They understood that Black Badge coming in made it look like he wasn’t able to do his job, wasn’t able to protect this town and it’s people.

“Let’s go Haughtstuff.” Eric picked up his coffee and headed towards the door, throwing the car keys over his shoulder at Nicole.

Nicole looked up from her phone, where she had been sending a quick text to Waverly, letting her know that she might not be able to do lunch, just in time to see the keys flying in the air towards her face.

Sidestepping and reaching out for the keys, Nicole caught them with ease, glaring at Eric’s back as they made their way out of the station. “I told you to warn me before you do that.”

“Expect the unexpected Haught.” Eric grinned over his shoulder at her. “I’m keeping your reflex sharp, you’ll thank me one day.”

“Just get in the car.” Nicole rolled her eyes and unlocked the doors.


The two officers stood outside of Nancy McDaniels’ hospital room, debating on what kind of approach to take here. This was their last chance to talk her into getting a restraining order on her husband. Nedley had done all he could to keep David out of the hospital and keep Nancy in for as long as possible, now it was their turn to do something, to keep this woman safe.

Of course, they knew that a restraining order wouldn’t necessarily stop David from getting to Nancy but if she wasn’t willing to press charges, then it was all they could do at the moment. And something was better than nothing right?

Nicole believed that she should go in and talk with Nancy alone. Eric could be kind of intimidating at times, especially to a victim of abuse and Nicole thought she could get through to Nancy if it was just the two of them.

Eric, he knew Nicole was right. She should be the one to talk with Nancy but he was going to make her fight for it, make her state her case on why they should go with her plan, her idea. There will be many times in the future where she’ll have to fight to be heard in the field and he was going to do his best to prepare her for those times.

Nicole was already a good cop but Eric, he wanted to shape her into a more well rounded, great cop. It wouldn’t be hard to do, it would take very little effort on his part. Nicole had all this untapped potential just underneath the surface, just waiting to be tapped into and honestly it was going to waste here in Purgatory.

Nicole could have been a cop in a big city and easily moved through the ranks but instead she chose to take a job in Purgatory, where up until recently nothing ever happened. Not for the first time, Eric wandered why out of all places she could have gone, Nicole chose Purgatory.

“It’s our best option Eric, our only option at this point,” Nicole stated, her voice confident, steady and Eric was proud. “We’ve tried talking to her together the other day and it didn’t work, this is our last chance before she gets out of here and that bastard gets his claws in her again, we can’t fail her, I can’t fail her again, let me do this.”

“Hey, you listen to me Haught, you saved that woman's life in there.” Eric pointed towards Nancy’s room, trying to keep his voice low.

He hated that Nicole thought that she failed Nancy when in reality, she saved her life and just might do it again if she can get Nancy to agree to a restraining order. He hated that for all her raw talent, all her instincts for the job, that for all her confidence, all her swagger, deep down she was so damn insecure about her ability to do her job. It was heartbreaking.

“You haven't failed her, you are the only person in this town who hasn’t given up on her, on helping her, if anyone has failed her it’s the people in this town who have given up on her, who have turned the other cheek while he abused her, you might just be her saving grace Haught.”

Nicole gave him a stiff nod and turned on her heels, walking to Nancy’s room and knocking on the opened door lightly, not waiting to startle the poor woman.

“Make me proud kid,” Eric whispered to himself, watching Nicole walk into the room and shut the door behind her. He found an empty seat in across the hall and waited.


Nicole’s heart was pounding heavily in her chest when she entered the dimly lit hospital room, palms sweaty as she clenched the brim of her steton tightly in her hands, stomach churning with uneasiness, with nerves.  

“Mrs. McDaniels, do you remember me?” Nicole asked softly, moving closer to the bed, closer to the petite redhead, who was no longer hooked up to multiple machines, who was no longer a deadly shade of white, who looked finally more awake and alert.

She wasn’t sure how much Nancy actually remembered from the last time she was here. Nancy had been so hopped up on pain meds the other day that she was pretty out of it when Eric and Nicole stopped by. It was a terrible time to try and talk to her then but Nedley had insisted.

“Yes, I remember you, Officer Haught.” She didn’t sound pleased that Nicole was there but Nicole wasn’t going to let that stop her from doing what she came here to do.

“May I sit?” Nicole asked, motioning to the chair next to the bed.

“Like I have much of a choice.” Nancy studied her with wary eyes and Nicole tried to make herself look as small, as nonthreatening as possible.

She knew from experience (from her best friend in high school, who had been a victim of domestic abuse), that her tall frame sometimes made abuse survivors uneasy, uncomfortable and that was the last thing she wanted to do here.

She wanted Nancy to feel safe, to feel like she was someone she could trust, someone on her side. She just wanted to help Nancy, keep her safe and she’d do whatever she had to help and keep Nancy safe because no one deserved to be hurt and abused by the person they love.

“That’s not true, you always have a choice,” Nicole said, taking a seat, keeping her voice soft and low. “If you want me to go, I’ll go but I really hope you take the time to hear me out.”

“Look, I know what you are going to say and I’m not getting a restraining order, I love him and he loves me.” Nancy folded her arms across her chest, grimacing when the skin around the wound on her side stretched with the movement.

“This is not love, you don’t hurt the person you love, you don’t put them in the hospital.”

“He promised it’d never happen again, that he’d never hurt me again,” Nancy said quietly, not quite meeting Nicole’s eyes.

When Nicole realized that wasn’t going to work, she switched tactics. “Nancy, I know you love him and maybe he does love you, I don’t know.” Nicole sighed, rubbing the back of her neck, searching for the right words to get through to her, to make her see that what David has been doing to her isn’t what love is, isn’t what she deserves.  

She knew that breaking through all the shit David put in Nancy’s head wouldn’t be easy but Nicole wasn’t going to give up so easily, she wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

“The person you love and that loves you isn’t supposed to hurt you but sometimes they end up hurting you, beating you down and destroying you and it’s not okay,” Nicole said, trying to get Nancy to look at her. “Something even though you love someone with everything in you, they’re not right for you, sometimes they’re not good for you, sometimes they’re not enough, sometimes love isn’t enough and sometimes you have to put yourself and your safety before love, before the person you love.”

“He loves me, he promised it wouldn’t happen again, he promised he’d be better.”

Nicole wasn’t sure which one of them she was trying to convince. Either way the only person she was hurting was herself.

She wondered how deep David’s claws were dug into his wife, how deep the mental abuse ran. Was it as bad and as far gone as the physical abuse? Did David have her thinking that he was all she had? That he was the only person who would ever love her, want her? Did he have Nancy’s world narrowed down to him and only him?

“All I’m asking Nancy, is that you put your safety first, that you put your life before him.” Nicole wasn’t above begging, especially if it saved someone’s life.

“I can help you, I can keep you safe,” Nicole promised and maybe it was stupid to make a promise she wasn’t sure she could even keep but at this point, Nicole would do absolutely anything to keep Nancy safe, to keep her away from David.

“I can get you away from him, I can get you out of Purgatory and far far away from here and that man, if you want to stay in Purgatory, I’ll find you a safe place, I can help you Nancy, just let me.”

“He’s all I have,” Nancy whispered  and Nicole knew then that no matter what she said, no matter what she promised, she wouldn’t get through to Nancy.

At least not right now, maybe some time later down the line. Maybe when Nicole has gained her trust. Just hopefully before David took things too far.

There was a knock at the door causing Nancy to stiffen, her eyes flashing briefly with fear, which caused Nicole to automatically reach for the pistol at her hip and place herself between the door and Nancy.

“Sorry to interrupt Officer.” A nurse stuck her head into the room, giving Nicole an apologetic smile. “But I have Mrs. McDaniels’ discharge papers.”

“Of course.” Nicole relaxed slightly, taking her hand off her pistol and turning towards Nancy as she pulled a business card from one of the pouches on her belt. “If you need anything, if you change your mind, call me day or night and I’ll be there.”

When Nancy didn’t take the card, Nicole sat it on the table next to the bed with a sigh, nodding to the nurse on the way out the room.

Upon seeing the defeated look in Nicole’s eyes and the slump of her shoulders, Eric threw his arm around her neck and lead her out  of the hospital and towards their car.

The drive back into town was silent, save for the radio where dispatch was relaying calls to other officers. Eric didn’t try to reassure Nicole that it wasn’t her fault. He didn’t try to reassure her that she tried her best.

He didn’t try to make sure she was okay because he had seen that defeated, haunted look in her eyes before. He had seen it the night they took Nancy to the hospital and he knew there was nothing he could do to make it better.

There was only one person who could make Nicole feel better and Eric was going to take Nicole to her.


Waverly was wiping down a table when Eric and Nicole walked in. She smiled warmly at them, fighting the urge to go over and kiss Nicole in lieu of a hello.

Eric gave her a small smile and wave as he headed towards the bar. Nicole didn’t look up from her shoes as she made her way to a table in the back of the saloon. Nicole always, always greeted Waverly with a dimpled smile and a hand squeeze when she came into Shorty’s.

And while it wasn’t unusual for Nicole to come in at lunch time a little down after a hard couple of hours at work, that never stopped her from coming straight up to Waverly the second she walked through the heavy wooden doors.

Waverly’s forehead wrinkled in concern as she watched Nicole spin the ring on her finger as she stared down at the tabletop in front of her. She was the complete opposite of the happy, smiling woman that had woken Waverly up to light kisses along every inch of bare skin she could find.

Tugging the rag she was using into the black apron around her waist, Waverly made her way over to the table Nicole was at.

“Hey,” Waverly whispered, placing her hands on tense shoulders and giving them a gentle squeeze. “Rough day?”

Nicole’s shoulders relaxed almost immediately at Waverly’s touch and as much as Waverly wanted to knead the tense muscle under her fingers, she could feel eyes on them and it made her nervous, almost uncomfortable.

Could people tell that things were different between them? Could people see that there was something more than friendship going on with them? Were people judging them? Judging her?

Most of Purgatory wasn’t homophobic but add liking both men and women to being an Earp and people could get cruel and hateful real quick.

She loved the woman in front of her but she wasn’t ready to be judged for who she loved. People in this town judge her enough on her last name alone, among other things and she didn’t want to give them any more ammunition.

Waverly pulled her hands away as if she had been burned, trying to ignore the disappointed sigh that escaped Nicole’s lips.

“It’s been pretty rough,” Nicole said, pulling the chair next to her out. “Sit with me?”

Waverly looked over her shoulder, suddenly self conscious of her every move around Nicole. And she hated that because everything had always come so easily with Nicole, so natural. And second guessing herself around Nicole, felt wrong.

“You know, no one is going to know that we’ve made out if you sit next to me,” Nicole whispered, looking up at her with sad brown eyes, fingers tracing along the table absentmindedly. “We always sit together but I understand if you don’t want to.”

Waverly wasn’t sure if the sadness in Nicole’s eyes were because of whatever happened at work or because she was hesitant to sit with her. Either way, it made Waverly want to hold Nicole until that sadness was gone.

“I’m sorry,” Waverly said, taking a seat next to Nicole and running her fingers down Nicole’s arm before placing her hands in her lap.  “I don’t want you to think that I don’t want this, want you, want us to be together because I do, more than anything, I’m just scared this is all so new to me.”

“It’s okay Waves, it’s okay to be scared.” Nicole placed her palms on the table to keep from reaching out and tucking Waverly’s hair behind her ear. She didn’t want to push her, didn’t want to do something that would make Waverly uncomfortable.

She knew what it felt like first coming to terms with her sexuality. She remembered how scared she was that everyone could tell that there was something different about her, could tell that she was gay.

She remember how scared she was to come out to her parents, to her grandparents, to Trent, to her friends.

She remembered how poorly her parents reacted to her coming out. Okay, not poorly, they reacted horribly and pretty hatefully.

But what she remembered the most was the way Trent had hugged her and told her that he’d love her no matter what. The way her grandparents had reassured her that they’d always be there for her and she’d always have a home with them.

She knew how scary it could be but she also knew how freeing coming out could be. She didn’t want Waverly to rush into coming out until she was completely ready. She didn’t want Waverly to feel pressured to come out. She wanted Waverly to do everything at her own pace.

She wanted Waverly to know that everything was at her pace and that no matter what she’d be by her side, supporting her every step of the way.

“Waverly, whatever this is, whatever we are.” She motioned between them with her hands. “You’re setting the pace, you’re calling the shots, I’m just following your lead baby.”


“Girlfriends,” Waverly breathed, moving her hand along the tabletop until it was pressed against Nicole’s and intertwined their pinkies. “You’re my girlfriend, or at least I hope you are.”

Nicole ducked her head, looking up at Waverly through her eyelashes, giving her a full dimpled grin. “Girlfriends sounds perfect to me.”

“Yeah?” Waverly asked, tone hopeful and eyes shining with happiness and Nicole thought she had never looked more beautiful than in that moment.

“Yeah.” Nicole grinned, leaning in closer to Waverly. “I really want to kiss you right now.”

Waverly bit her bottom lip lightly, eyes darting from Nicole’s eyes to her plump lips. “We could always sneak upstairs for a few minutes.”

“Is that so, Miss Earp?” Nicole grinned, looking over her shoulder towards the bar, where Eric and Shorty were in deep conversation.

Surely no one would notice if they disappeared for a few moments. Even if someone did noticed, Nicole was sure that she could come up with a convincing lie about where they had been.

“If you’re up for it, Officer Haught.”

“I’m always up for it baby,” Nicole said, standing up from the table and winking at Waverly before casually making her way towards the staircase with a shake of her hips that had Waverly unabashedly staring at her ass.

When she was out of sight, Waverly followed after her, trying to keep the grin off her face and trying not to all but run after her.

Chapter Text

The second Waverly’s feet were firmly planted on the second floor, strong arms wrapped around her waist and her favorite pair of lips descended upon hers as her fingers pulled Nicole’s uniform shirt out from her pants and slid her hands underneath the shirt, sighing against Nicole’s lips at the feel of her warm, soft skin.

Kissing Nicole, touching Nicole had easily become Waverly’s favorite thing to do. The taste of her lips were like a drug that Waverly couldn’t get enough of. The defined muscles in Nicole’s shoulders and back that were somehow firm, yet still so soft under her touch drove Waverly insane. The little gasps of air and breathless chuckles Nicole let out as they kissed sent shivers down Waverly’s spine every time. The feel of Nicole’s fingers in her hair or Nicole’s blunt nails digging into her hips made her body throb with need.

Of course not every kiss was perfect. They were still familiarizing themselves with each other, still learning how the other kissed and liked to be kissed. So, there was a lot of times when they bumped heads or kissed with too much teeth or missed each others mouths completely.

With anyone else, Waverly would have been embarrassed but with Nicole, she wasn’t because every time their kiss was anything less than perfect Nicole would laugh softly and kiss the tip of her nose or she would smile at Waverly widely causing Waverly’s heart to beat in overdrive.

Nicole nipped her bottom lip playfully before pulling back some and resting her forehead against Waverly’s. Her eyes are closed and she’s grinning and Waverly just wants to kiss her again and again and again.

She couldn’t get enough of Nicole and she wondered how they went so long, survived so long without kissing each other. She wondered why they wasted so much time being just friends.

“I met your sister today,” Nicole said after of few moments of them just standing at the top of the stairs, wrapped in each other’s arms.

It was risky for them to be out in the open like this, anyone could walk up the stairs and see them but at that moment with Nicole’s arms wrapped around her, holding her tightly to her chest, Waverly found it hard to care.

Nothing could hurt her while she was in Nicole’s arms. She was safe in Nicole embrace. She knew that Nicole would protect her from anything, no matter what.

“She seemed sad, broken and just a bit haunted.” Nicole paused there, searching for the right words.

Family was a sore subject for the both of them, more so for Waverly and Nicole didn’t want to say anything to upset her, cause her to pull away. But, she wanted Waverly to know that she’d be there for Wynonna in the same way she was there for her, that she’d look after and protect Wynonna, just as she’d protect her.

The Earps have both been through so much and they both deserved to have someone on their side no matter what, they both deserved to have someone looking after them and well, Nicole wanted to be that person to the both of them.

“In that same way you were the morning you had the flat tire.” Nicole stepped back so she could look Waverly in the eyes, reaching out to tuck some hair behind her ear. “Sad and hurting but trying so hard to hide it and in desperate need for someone to see the real you, to be a real friend.”  

“She’s had a hard life and has had a harder time making friends with anyone.” Waverly shrugged, giving off that same nonchalant vibe as Wynonna earlier that morning but Nicole could see how much she cared, how much she worried about her sister.

“You’ve both have had a hard life and you both deserve to be happy, you both deserve to have people on your side, a friend, someone willing to look out for you, defend you, protect you.” Nicole trailed her fingertips down Waverly’s arms to her hands, interlocking their fingers and then lifted one then the other up to her lips, kissing each knuckle. “I can be that person, for the both of you.”

“You’d do that?” Waverly looked up at her with that same awestruck expression she always had whenever Nicole went out of her way to do something for her, went out of her way be kind to her, to care for her.

Nicole was always going above and beyond for her and it constantly amazed Waverly. No one ever has before, not for her and certainly not for her family, not Wynonna.

“I’d do anything for you and for your family Waverly.”

Waverly didn’t doubt that for a second. Nicole had proved time and time again that she’d do anything for Waverly without hesitation, without question.

“You have an incredibly big and kind heart, you know that?” Waverly said, her right hand coming to rest over Nicole’s heart.

Nicole had the kindest and the biggest heart that Waverly had ever seen. Nicole cared so much for everyone she met. She helped people just for the sake of helping them. she didn’t expect anything in return, she didn’t want anything in return, she just wanted to help and protect people.

Nicole was a rare breed. Her heart, her soul was unlike anything Waverly had ever seen before. Nicole made Waverly believe that maybe, just maybe the world wasn’t such a terrible place, made Waverly believe that there was still good in the world. Good people in the world.

“Mhm.” Nicole laid her hand over Waverly’s and grinned at her. “And it beats just for you.”

“You’re so sappy.” Waverly rolled her eyes at the redhead but a smile made it’s way on her face nonetheless.

“You love it,” Nicole laughed lightly, moving in to kiss Waverly’s cheek but right before Nicole’s lips hit her cheek, Waverly turned her head, connecting their lips in a searing kiss.


Ding.

Shorty looked up from the beers he was pouring towards the kitchen window where two plates were sitting, waiting to be served to a couple of regulars. He looked around the saloon for Waverly, sighing deeply when he didn’t see her or Nicole.

He swore that Waverly disappeared from work more with Nicole around than she ever did with Champ. Not that he minded, not really. He was glad that she had someone like Nicole in her life, especially now that Curtis was gone and Wynonna was back but, he was paying her to do a job and not hangout with friends.

“Did you see where Waverly went?” He asked Eric, who was making random designs in the condensation on his glass of coke.

“I think her and Nicole went upstairs to talk,” Eric answered, rolling up the sleeves of his uniform as he got comfortable on the stool.

He knew that he’d probably be here awhile waiting on Nicole. Not that he minded waiting on her as long as Waverly was able to cheer her up. Both of them would have a very long, hard day if Nicole was upset over what happened with Nancy.

“She had a pretty rough morning.”

“Guess I’ll let it slide then,” Shorty said. And he would not just because he had a soft spot for the Earp but because he also had a soft spot for Haught as well. “I’ll be right back.”

“I think they’re good for each other,” Eric spoke softly when Shorty came back and began wiping down glasses. “Nicole’s a strong, steady presence and she cares deeply and with everything she has, that’s something Waverly needs.”

Shorty nodded his head in agreement. Waverly definitely did need someone who was strong and steady, someone who could be a constant thing in her life and Nicole was that someone. Nicole was easily everything Waverly could ever need.

“Nicole needs someone to love her, no matter what,” Shorty commented, giving up on cleaning the beer mugs and leaned against the bar.

No matter how happy Nicole seemed, no matter how carefree and joyous she was, no matter how quick she was to make a joke or make someone smile, Shorty could always see the pain and hurt in her big, brown eyes.

He didn’t know the story behind her pain but it didn’t take any insight into that pain to see that she needed someone who was going to love her unconditionally, care for her. And Waverly was that perfect someone, at least in his opinion.  

“Think now that Champ is out of the way, they’ll actually act on their feelings?” Eric asked, picking up his glass of coke and taking a small sip.

Eric knew that Champ was one of the reasons Nicole never acted on her feelings for Waverly but, he also knew it wasn’t the only reason. Nicole was afraid of losing the family she’s created for herself here, afraid of being rejected, afraid of getting that same reaction from Waverly that she had gotten from her parents, her siblings.

Eric didn’t blame her one bit for being scared. He’d be terrified if he was in her place but, he knew that if she just took a leap of faith and told Waverly how she felt that, Waverly would be waiting at the bottom of the cliff to catch her.

“Guess it all depends on if they’re brave enough to risk it all, if they’re willing to put their friendship on the line for the sake of happiness, for the sake of love,” Shorty replied, waving to some regulars that just walked in.


“We should probably get back,” Nicole panted, leaning her forehead against Waverly’s, running her fingers through Waverly’s disheveled hair.

She didn’t want to leave this little bubble they found themselves in. She’d much rather spend the rest of her day kissing Waverly or just being with Waverly, than doing paperwork or handing off some of their cases to Black Badge.

“Probably,” Waverly sighed, fingers dancing along Nicole’s back.

The last thing Waverly wanted to do was go back downstairs and work, not when she could stay here, with Nicole’s fingers in her hair and Nicole’s body pinning hers to the wall.

She knew they had to go back downstairs, back to real life, their jobs and out of this peaceful moment together but, she was finding it really hard to make any kind of move other than pulling Nicole in for another kiss.

And so she did pull Nicole into one last kiss. She wasn’t able to stop herself, there was just something so addictive about kissing Nicole.

Maybe it was the way every kiss started out slow and soft before their need, their passion took over. Maybe it was the way Nicole held onto her wrist as if to steady herself, ground herself into the moment.

Maybe it was the breathless little moans Nicole made whenever Waverly bit playfully at her bottom lip. Maybe it was Nicole brought their bodies flush together as if she couldn’t get close enough to Waverly.  

Maybe it was the way that Nicole allowed her to take the lead, set the pace. Maybe it was the way that Nicole wasn’t roughly pawing at her clothes and body. Maybe it was the way Nicole didn’t try to suffocate her with her tongue.

Maybe it was just because kissing a woman, kissing Nicole was so much better than kissing Champ.

“We’ll never make it downstairs if you keep kissing me like that,” Nicole whispered, her eyes closed with a blissful smile taking over her face, her fingers still wrapped loosely around Waverly’s wrist, her thumb stroking the skin there.

“I don’t see you trying to stop me.” Waverly smiled, pushing the hairs that had come loose from Nicole’s braid from her face and tucked them behind her ear.

“I’ve been wanting to kiss you since the moment I met you, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna stop you now that I finally have the chance to.”

Waverly pressed a soft peck on Nicole’s lips before pushing her away a bit with a reluctant sigh. She knew if she didn’t put any space between them then they would just end up locking lips again.

“Your braid is a mess, let me redo it?”

“You don’t have to, I can do it.” Nicole reached up to quickly undo then rebraid her hair but Waverly slapped her hand away lightly.

“I want to do it,” Waverly said, taking Nicole’s hand and dragging her down the hall to her apartment.

Truth was, Waverly had been dying to braid Nicole’s hair for awhile but had been afraid to ask because she never thought that she’d be able to keep her hands or lips from wandering.

Nicole smiled to herself, allowing Waverly to guide her down the hall and into the makeshift apartment. Her smile fell as she took in the now bare apartment, her eyebrows knitted together in confusion.  

Everything was neatly packed into labeled boxes. Every bit of decorations that had once been on the walls were gone. The once perfectly made bed was bare and just a mattress sitting on the floor. The brass bedframe and headboard was taken apart and stacked neatly against the wall. The curtain that once covered the weird family tree thing Waverly had on the wall was gone, along with all the pictures and newspaper clippings.

Every ounce of Waverly that had once been in this room was now packed away.

Nicole could feel her heart beat hard against her ribcage as panic started to settle deep in her chest.

Waverly was moving. Waverly was leaving.

“You’re moving?” Nicole asked, voice low and eyes filling with panic.

Of course something like this would happen because things were going good for her, because she was happy and had finally gotten the thing, the person she wanted most in life, wanted more than anything. Of course, something would go wrong because that was her life and in her life, things always went wrong.

Distance was something that she had done before and it hadn’t worked out. Not that she thought Waverly was anything like Jennifer and would do what Jennifer had done to her but, that fear was there, just underneath the surface waiting to burst free.

There was a part of her, a part of her not consumed by fear and insecurities that knew that Waverly wouldn’t just up and leave Purgatory, leave her without a word, without talking to her about it first. They told each other everything, Waverly wouldn’t hide something like this from her.

“Oh yeah, I was going to tell you earlier but it slipped my mind, Wynonna and I are moving back into the homestead tomorrow,” Waverly said, bringing Nicole over to the mattress, sitting down and pulling Nicole down with her.

Kicking off her cowboy boots and tucking her feet underneath her, Waverly got settled in behind Nicole before starting to undo the disheveled braid slowly as to not hurt Nicole.

“T-that’s good.” Nicole cleared her throat, her chest filling with relief, shoulders releasing the tension held in them as that fear, that insecurity crawled back deep down inside.

She hated that her automatic reaction to some things was fear of being hurt. She hated that she always thought worse case scenario when it came to people. And she hated that people in her life had made her that way.

At first Waverly didn’t understand the fear in Nicole’s voice then the relief that followed, she didn’t understand the way her whole body tensed then immediately relaxed at her words but then, she remember Jennifer and what Jennifer did to Nicole and everything clicked into place.

Nicole was afraid and insecure. Though she rarely ever showed it or voiced it, Waverly knew that it was always there, just beneath the surface. Nicole had every right to be afraid and insecure but Waverly wished she wasn’t, wished there was something she could do to completely ease those fears, those insecurities.

She felt helpless. She didn’t know how to ease those fears. She didn’t know what to do, how to help and then she remembered Nicole’s words from the night before.

‘I need reassurance that I’m still wanted, that I’m still good enough.’

Nicole had always been the one reassuring her throughout their whole relationship and it was about time that Waverly paid her back. It was about time that Waverly gave within their relationship instead of just take.

“Hey,” Waverly whispered, moving to kneel in front of Nicole and reaching up to caress her jaw, waiting for Nicole to finally meet her eyes before continuing. “I’m not going anywhere, you hear me? I’m not gonna leave you Nicole.”

Nicole let out a shaky breath, closing her eyes and shaking her head lightly. “I’m sorry.”

She didn’t want to be a burden, didn’t want to need constant reassurance from Waverly, didn’t want to be so damn needy.

Waverly leaned up enough to press a kiss to Nicole’s forehead, then both her cheeks and nose and finally placed a soft, barely there kiss on her lips. “You don’t ever apologize for how you feel.”

Nicole nodded her head, closing her eyes and leaning into Waverly’s touch. Taking a moment to collect herself and her feelings before they had to leave the safety of this room, the safety of each other’s presences.

Waverly kissed Nicole’s forehead once more before moving back behind Nicole on the bed and pulling the bobby pins from Nicole’s hair.  

“So, Wynonna is staying?” Nicole asked, trying to sit still for Waverly and not lean fully into the fingers combing through her hair.

Nicole could probably fall asleep here and now with Waverly's fingers combing through her hair, massaging her scalp.

“For awhile at least.”

Nicole could hear the mix emotions in Waverly’s tone. She sounded both happy and angry but, Nicole didn’t question her on it, Waverly would tell her if/when she was ready.

“That’s good, I know how much you missed her and how much having her here means to you.”

“I’m happy she’s back you know, but there’s a part of me that’s,” Waverly trailed off, unsure on how to continue, unsure how to explain her feelings on the matter.

How did she explain that she was somehow both angry and happy about Wynonna being back home? Angry because she wasn’t the heir, because she spent hours upon hours studying and researching and learning different languages to break the curse while Wynonna ran away from being the heir and drank.

How did she explain how angry and hurt she was that Wynonna had left her in the first place?

Of course, Waverly understood why she had left. This town held too many bad memories for her, this town served as a reminder that she had killed their father and failed to save Willa, this town and the people in it were never kind to her.

Waverly understood why she left, she had a million reasons to leave, to put this town behind her but she had one important reason to stay… Her baby sister, who had lost everything just like her, who was alone and afraid just like her.

How can she explain any of that to Nicole when she couldn't even tell her about the Earp curse?

“Pissed off? Hurt?” Nicole questioned as Waverly weaved strands of her hair together.

Waverly nodded her head yes before realizing that Nicole couldn't see her. “Yes.”

“You have every right to be angry, to be hurt by her leaving. Yes you had Gus and Curtis and even Shorty but you didn’t have the one person you needed, you didn’t have your sister and it’s okay to be angry about that Waverly.”

It amazed Waverly how Nicole always seemed to understand what she was thinking, what she was feeling without her ever having to utter more than a few words. Waverly loved the way Nicole just seemed to get her, understand her.  

Finished with Nicole’s hair, Waverly leaned forward and pressed a soft, lingering kiss to the back of Nicole’s neck.

“Thank you for being here for me.” Waverly kissed her neck again, her eyes fluttering closed at the soft moan escaping Nicole’s lips. “Thank you for understanding this, for understanding me.”

“Understanding you is like understanding myself, it’s easy, almost second nature to me.” Nicole twisted her torso to look back at Waverly. “And I’ll always be here for you Waves, always.”

Nicole kissed her gently, so gently it felt like their lips barely touched at all and before Waverly could pull her in closer or deepen the kiss, Nicole was pulling away giving her an apologetic smile.

“I have to go but I’ll see you tonight, we’ll either be celebrating Trent’s new job or helping him drown his sorrows.”

With one final kiss, Nicole stood from the bed and walked to the door. Stopping just before crossing the threshold, Nicole looked over her shoulder back at Waverly. “I’ll come by with my truck tomorrow and we’ll load all your stuff up and get you moved in with Wynonna, okay?”

“You’re too good to me,” Waverly said, getting up from the mattress, fully intending to kiss Nicole once more before she left but Nicole took two steps backwards out into the hall.

“You haven’t seen anything yet baby.” Nicole winked and then retreated down the hall before she could get distracted by Waverly’s kiss again.

They’d just have to wait till later that night to get lost in each other again.


Nicole was running late, again and that this point she should have expected it. She should have known that she wasn’t ever going to make it out of the station on time when she had plans.

Shooting off a quick text to both Waverly and Trent, letting them know that she’d be there after a quick shower, Nicole walked quickly up the steps leading up to her apartment building.

As much as she was dying to know whether or not Trent had gotten the job or not, she was dying to see her girlfriend even more.

Girlfriend.

Nicole grinned to herself as she unlocked her door and walked into the dimly lit apartment, McGonagall meowing at her as she set her keys and phone on the kitchen counter.

Waverly Earp was her girlfriend. All that time spent pining over her and loving her from afar had been worth it, had been worth the pain of seeing her with Champ, had been worth the pain of being just friends when she wanted so much more.

Nicole fed McGonagall quickly before heading towards the bathroom, stripping off her uniform as she went.

In the shower, Nicole pressed her forehead against the cool tile as the nearly scalding water beat down on her back and shoulders, melting away the tension held there.

Today had been a whirlwind of emotion and she just needed a moment to let everything sink in, needed a moment to process everything that had happened today.

From waking up with Waverly and having their feelings laid out in the open, their hearts and souls laid bare for one another. To that short conversation with Wynonna that left Nicole feeling this overwhelming need to look after her, to be her friend, to protect her in that same way she wanted to protect Waverly.

To that disheartening conversation with Nancy. To failing to convince Nancy to leave her husband, to get a restraining order against him, to put herself first and take care of herself.

Then to the moment at Shorty’s when Waverly whispered the word ‘girlfriends’ and Nicole had swore her heart stopped beating before threatening to beat right out of her chest.

There was so much to process but the only thing lingering on her mind was Waverly and the fact that they were girlfriends, actually girlfriends.

Finishing her shower in record time, Nicole was dressed and heading out the door twenty minutes later, with a skip in her step and a smile that nothing could rid her of.


Waverly caught sight of Nicole first, despite the large crowd in the saloon. She tracked the redhead with her eyes as she weaved in and out of drunks on her way over to the bar.

Waverly’s bottom lip found it’s way between her teeth as she took in the tight, white short sleeve t-shirt Nicole was wearing, that clung to her in all the right places and showed off pale, tone biceps. And then there was the black jeans that hugged her hips and ass perfectly and don’t even get her started on the Toronto Rapters’ snapback she was wearing.

Trent raised his empty beer glass in front of Waverly’s line of sight and cleared his throat, finally gaining her attention. “Can I get a refill, Waves?”

“Oh, yeah sorry.” She blushed a deep shade of red and ducked her head, taking his glass and quickly filling it to the brim from one of the taps.

“What were you staring at?” Amy asked, turning on her stool towards the doors, catching sight of Nicole talking and laughing with a couple of townsfolk as if she had known them her whole life, as if she had grown up with the people in this town.

Deciding to mess with Waverly a bit, make her a little jealous and hopefully make her realize her feelings for Nicole, Amy threw her arm around the redhead’s shoulders when she finally joined the group.

“Damn Haught, lookin’ good,” Amy smirked at Waverly, leaning in a pressing a kiss to Nicole’s cheek. “I forgot how amazing you look out of uniform.”

Waverly slammed a beer for Nicole down on the bar, a little harder than necessary, shooting daggers at Amy as anger and jealousy bubbled up in her chest.

She wanted to yell at Amy to get her hands off her girlfriend. She wanted to walk around the bar between them and grab Nicole by the neck and kiss the hell out of her, showing Amy, showing everyone that Nicole was hers.

But, there was also a part of her that was scared to do so. A part of her that was scared to come out like that, in front of half the town. There was a part of her that wasn’t ready for all the stares, the judgement, the possible rejection from her family.

She was scared, so instead of kissing Nicole, instead of telling Amy to back off, Waverly walked off towards the kitchen, needing a minute to calm down, clear her head, to ease the need to slap Amy’s hands off of Nicole.

Nicole pushed the blonde away from her. “I know what you’re doing and I appreciate it, I really do but you have to stop, you have to let her, let us figure things out on our own.”

With that, Nicole went after Waverly without a second glance at the group.

“They’re acting weird right?” Trent asked, turning to look at Chrissy and Amy.

“What do you mean?” Chrissy asked, taking a sip of her wine and watching Nicole weave in and out of the drunken patrons of Shorty’s to get to the kitchen, to get to Waverly.

“The way they just acted.” Trent waved his hand at the spot Waverly was just standing. “And last night they were touchy-feely, more so than normal.”

“Maybe something is going on between them,” Chrissy shrugged. She may not know what’s going on with them right now but she did know why Waverly was always reaching for Nicole, touching Nicole. “Waverly constantly touching Nicole is a reassurance thing.”

“What do you mean?” Amy questioned, taking her seat in between Trent and Chrissy again. Talking about Waverly and Nicole had gotten easier over time. Especially since she started seeing someone else.  

“Waverly has abandonment issues and, I think she’s always reaching out for Nicole to make sure she’s still there, to make sure that she hasn’t left,” Chrissy explained. “And Nicole consciously or subconsciously knows this and tries to be within reaching distance of her when they’re together, she tries to put Waverly’s fears at ease.”

It was almost sicken how perfect they were for one another, how well they knew each other and each other’s needs but, it was also beautiful. It gave Chrissy hope that there was true love out there, gave her hope that there was someone out there who would understand her in that same way Nicole understood Waverly.

“God, they’re so gross,” Amy groaned.

“You’re just jealous,” Trent teased, bumping her shoulder with his own.

“Of course I’m jealous, who wouldn’t be jealous of Nicole knowing what Waverly needs without asking?” Amy asked. “Don’t you want a love like that?”

“Yeah, yeah I do.” Trent rubbed the back of his neck and glanced shyly over at Chrissy before downing his beer.


 

“Waverly, wait!” Nicole called over the noise of the kitchen, reaching out and grabbing Waverly’s arm lightly. “Please.”

She understood why Waverly was upset. The only person she had ever dated cheated on her multiple times and she knew that it was hard to get over that level of betrayal, it was hard to let go of the idea that someone else would cheat on you as well.

She knew it also didn’t help that she and Amy had a relationship before, one that was built on purely sex at first.

Waverly stopped in her tracks, the almost desperate pleading in Nicole’s voice too much to ignore but, she didn’t turn around to face her. She just stared at her feet, ashamed with herself for how she acted just now.

She wasn’t mad at Nicole, more upset with herself for getting angry, getting jealous and overreacting when she knew for a fact that there was nothing to be jealous of. She was more upset with herself for being too scared of what others might think of her to kiss Nicole in public like Amy had.

Nicole looked around the small kitchen, at the staff watching them. They couldn’t have this conversation here. Waverly wasn’t ready for people to know and she would respect that.

Sliding her hand down Waverly’s arm and grasping her hand, Nicole lead her out the back door and into the alley, giving them some privacy.

“Baby,” Nicole whispered, tilting Waverly’s chin up with her pointer finger. “You know there’s nothing going on between Amy and me anymore, right?”

“I know,” Waverly nodded, refusing to meet Nicole’s eyes.

“Then what’s wrong?”

How did she explain that she was jealous of Amy for being able to kiss her on the cheek in public when she could barely touch her shoulder this afternoon? How did she explain that while she wanted people to know they were together, that Nicole was her girlfriend, at the same time she was afraid of people knowing?

Then she realized that this was Nicole she was talking to, that no matter if what she said didn’t make any sense, Nicole would somehow understand because Nicole always understood.

“I was jealous,” Waverly mumbled, almost embarrassed to admit it to Nicole.

“What?” Nicole questioned, eyebrows knitted together in the most adorable way that has Waverly reaching up and smoothing them with her thumb.

“I was jealous,” Waverly repeated, louder this time.

Nicole stared down at her for a moment before grinning then laughing, actually laughing at her!

Waverly wanted to be angry because she’s been laughed at her whole life but there’s something about the way Nicole smiled so wide while she laughed that had Waverly leaning up on her tippy toes and pressing a sloppy kiss to Nicole’s lips.

Nicole grinned against her lips, pulling her in closer by the hips and tried to kiss her properly but the brim of her hat hit Waverly’s forehead, keeping their lips from connecting fully.  And she laughing again before taking her snapback off and placing it backwards on Waverly's head.

Then she's pulling Waverly back in for a soft kiss that doesn't linger for long but still managed to leave Waverly breathless.

“You have nothing to be jealous about Waverly,” Nicole reassured her, cradling her face between her palms, gazing down at her with soft brown eyes with beautiful flecks of gold. “Amy may have had a piece of me at one point but you, Waverly you have all of me, every single piece of me.”

Waverly grasped the back of Nicole’s neck and yanked her down for a kiss. Leave it to Nicole to reassure a fear she didn’t have. Leave it to Nicole to be her amazing, caring, thoughtful self.

If Waverly wasn't already so damn in love with Nicole, she’s fallen for her then

“That’s not what I was jealous of,” Waverly said when she pulled away, fingers caressing Nicole’s strong jawline.

“What were you jealous of then?” Nicole's face pinched in confusion.

“I was jealous because she's able to be open about who she is, able to kiss your cheek in front of everyone without a care in the world and I.” Waverly sighed and looked away from Nicole's piercing gaze.

“You what?” Nicole probed, trying in vain to get Waverly to meet her eyes again.

She didn’t understand what Waverly was jealous of. She didn’t understand what was wrong and if she didn’t know, didn’t understand then there was no way for her to put Waverly’s fears or worries at ease. And all she wanted to do was ease whatever fear, whatever worry the Earp had.

“I can barely touch you now without freaking out about someone figuring out that we're together, that I'm,” Waverly trailed off unsure on how to continue, how to say the word out loud.

She wasn’t ashamed of who she was, of how she felt about Nicole. She just didn’t know how to let go of the fear of people knowing, people judging, of people, her family potentially hating her for who she loved.

“That you’re bi,” Nicole finished for her, remembering what it was like to be afraid to say the word gay out loud for the first time. Remembering how long it took for her to be confident in who she was and who she loved.

“That confidence doesn’t happen overnight, it takes months, years to build and even then one day we’ll be walking down the street and you’ll be scared to hold my hand because it may rub some homophobe the wrong way,” Nicole said, fixing the snapback on top of Waverly’s head, hoping she wasn’t freaking her out instead of comforting her.

Waverly just looked up at her with those sad eyes and Nicole pushed through.

“There are going to be times when you are afraid to be who you are because the world is cruel and people are hateful but, it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to not want to hold my hand, to not want to kiss my cheek, it’s okay because we’re going at your pace here Waves, we don’t have to do any of that in public as long as I can kiss you when we are alone then I’ll be happy.”

“How did I get so lucky?” Waverly asked, fingers soothing along Nicole’s furrowed brows.

She’d thank her lucky stars for the rest of her life for bringing Nicole into her life, for giving her someone as loving and as caring as Nicole, for giving her someone who understood everything about her.  

“It wasn’t luck, it was fate.” Nicole grinned at her, dimples and all and Waverly wanted nothing more than to stand here with Nicole smiling at her like that for the rest of their lives.

“Ready to go back in?” Nicole asked, looking around the dirty alley they’re standing in, nose scrunching up in disgust. “Because it smells like-”

“Shunk heinie,” Waverly interrupted with a small smile.

Nicole looked at her with nothing but adoration shining in her eyes as she leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead before slinging an arm around Waverly’s shoulders leading her to the door they came out of. “You are so incredible adorable.”  

Chapter Text

“Everything good?” Trent asked when Nicole finally joined them at the table they snagged in the back by the pool table.

Nicole nodded her head yes, grin firmly in place and snapback nowhere to be seen, at least until Waverly came over with a round of beers.

“Nice hat.” Trent winked at Waverly, causing her to blush a bright shade of red. “Looks a lot like Nicky’s.”

Waverly tried not to fidget under her friends’ gaze, trying not to worry what they’re thinking, if they’re judging her. Which is entirely stupid seeing as Amy is bi as well and both Chrissy and Trent have absolutely no problem with her and Nicole.

But that fear is still there and she hated that it is. She hated that in this moment she didn’t feel comfortable being herself around her closest friends, around the little family she had built for herself with the help of Nicole.

Thankfully, Chrissy, being observant person that she is, saw how uncomfortable Waverly was, saw the fear swimming around in her eyes and drew everyone’s attention away from her by leaning across the table and slapping Trent’s forearm lightly. “Leave her alone.”

“My bad.” Trent threw his hands up in defense and gave Waverly an apologetic smile, which Waverly was slow to return.

“You two,” Amy pointed between the Haught siblings. “Are scary alike.”

“Right?” Nicole asked, her sarcasm causing Waverly to grin at her and Amy to roll her eyes and flip her off. “It’s almost like we’re siblings or something.”  

“I hate you, why are we even friends?” Amy asked tone harsh but eyes playful with a hint of a smile on her lips.

Nicole crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back in her chair, the front two legs coming off ground just a bit as she rocks back and forth slightly, smug grin taking over her face.

“Because I am a great friend.”

“You’re also so full of yourself.” Amy turned her attention back to Waverly. “How do you put up with her smug ass everyday?”

Nicole was ready to jump in at a moment's notice, to draw attention away from Waverly, to save her if needed but Waverly just grinned playfully at her, mirth shining in those eyes and she knew that Waverly didn’t need saving.

“It’s a burden but after a while you learn to tune it out.” Waverly winked at Nicole, fist bumping Trent when he held his fist out to her with a smirk.

Trent was all for Nicole getting as good as she gives and he was definitely happy to see Waverly relax after his comment about Nicole’s hat. He had just wanted to tease her, not make Waverly uncomfortable.

Nicole gasped and placed her hand over her heart, pouting up at Waverly and trying her best not to smile. “You wound me, Waverly Earp.”

“Your ego maybe.” Waverly looked over her shoulder to the bar where Shorty was waving her back over as the crowd around the bar got bigger. “I gotta get back to work, I’ll see you guys later.”

Nicole grasped her wrist lightly, stopping her from leaving just yet. “Wait, you gotta stay for the announcement on how Trent’s interview went.”

She didn’t want Waverly to miss this moment, good or bad and she knew that Trent wouldn’t either. They’ve had long talks about Waverly and Trent, he cared deeply for the youngest Earp, he saw her as another sister. Nicole knew that having her here at this important moment in his life would mean a lot to him.

“Yeah,” Amy agreed, nodding her head and smiling at Waverly. “You’re apart of this misfit family of ours.”

Before Amy met Nicole, if someone would have suggested that she’d be friends with an Earp, actually liked hanging out with an Earp, she would have laughed in their face. Before Nicole, she would have never taken a chance to get to know Waverly Earp pass the gossip about her floating around town.

Amy ought to remember to thank Nicole for coming into her life, for bringing her together with these people, for including her in on this misfit family they’ve formed.

“Alright baby boy, let’s hear it.” Nicole turned to her brother, patting his cheek with affection which he scoffed at, slapping her hand away.

She was incredibly nervous about whether or not he gotten the job. Nicole knew how much getting this job, moving to this town meant to him and she’d be heartbroken if he was denied the thing he wanted most.

Trent looked down at the table, refusing to meet the many pairs of eyes on him as he rubbed at the back of his neck and Nicole feared the worst, getting ready to comfort him when, he lifted his head up with the biggest grin on his face.

“I got the job!”

Their table erupted in cheers as Nicole wrapped an arm around her brother’s shoulder, pulling him into a side hug and kissing the side of her head.

“I’m so proud of you,” she whispered, pride swelling in her and threatening to burst right out her chest.  

He did it. Her baby brother went after his dreams and didn’t let anything stop him, just like she always told him when they were kids.

Trent looked at her with tears welling in his eyes. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and leaned into his sister’s embrace. “You can’t say things like that, Nicky.”

He wasn’t an never an overly emotional guy, like his sister he hid his feelings well but, when it came to his big sister, his role model, his hero, he tended to let his emotions shine through.

The only person in the world he had ever wanted to make proud was Nicole and being able to that with something as simple as landing the job he wanted filled him with unadulterated happiness.

“Congratulations Trent, I’m glad you’re sticking around.” Waverly squeezed his shoulder. “Johnnie Walker to celebrate?”

Trent and Nicole looked at each other and nodded before turning towards her and giving her matching dimpled grins.

“Of course, it's the only way to celebrate,” Trent said before turning his attention back to Chrissy and Amy.

Waverly hated to walk away, hated that she had to work and couldn't celebrate with her friends, her family.

Amy had been right, they were a family, a misfit one but a family nonetheless. One not made from blood but was just as strong. One they created themselves. One that Waverly actually felt like she belonged in, felt wanted, needed.

All Waverly’s life she felt like she never belonged, not with Willa, Wynonna, and their daddy. Not with the kids in school. Sometimes not even with Gus and Curtis.

She felt like an outsider her whole life, mainly because she was always hiding a part of herself away, always trying to be who people wanted her to be but with Nicole, Trent, Chrissy, and Amy, she didn’t feel like an outsider, she didn’t have to be someone she wasn’t.

“He get the job?” Shorty asked her as she walked behind the bar and began pulling out four shot glasses.

“Yeah, he did.” Waverly smiled, grabbing a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue label and filled the glasses quickly.

“That’s good, Nicole seems happier with him here,” Shorty commented, passing a couple beers to the guys across from him.

“She is,” Waverly said, looking through the crowd at Nicole, who was grinning from ear to ear and laughing with their friends and Trent.

Waverly couldn’t help but to smile because Nicole was happy, happier than Waverly had ever seen her and just seeing Nicole happy made her happy.

“Their first round is on the house, get it to them and get back here, we’re packed tonight.”

Waverly nodded even though Shorty couldn’t see and gathered up the shots on a tray, already counting down the minutes of till her break.


“Full house,” Trent smirked, slamming his cards face down on the tabletop. “Beat that.”

Nicole threw her pair of twos down on the table with a sigh, reaching for her beer and flipping Trent off with her free hand when he started scooping up the poker chips in the middle of the table.

“Whoa, there baby Haught.” Chrissy put her hand up, stopping Trent in his tracks as he gives her a half hearted glare at the nickname he picked up sometime in the last few days.

He pretended to hate it but really he loved it. It filled him with that same light, happy feeling that he got when Nicole called him ‘baby boy’. It made him believe he could make this place his home like his sister has.

“Your hand is good but,” Chrissy drew the ‘but’ out, winking at Nicole who was shaking her head in amusement at the pair. “I think my hand wins.”

One by one Chrissy laid her cards face up on the table, revealing her straight flush. She chuckled to herself when Trent groaned and allowed his head to hit the tabletop with a dull thud.

“I don’t see why we keep playing with her,” Amy said as she sat a pitcher of beer down and reclaimed her seat.

“ ‘Cause we’re suckers for getting our asses kicked,” Nicole offered, reshuffling the cards as Chrissy stacked her chips up and Trent poured more beer into each of their glasses. “So I got a question.”

“Hmmm,” Trent dragged his eyes away from Chrissy and raised an eyebrow at his sister.

“Which one of you,” Nicole looked between Amy and Chrissy then leaned over the grip the collar of Trent’s t-shirt and pulled it down exposing the fading hickey on his neck. “Gave my baby brother this?”

She had wanted to wait for Waverly to ask but she was dying to know. They had a bet going on which of their friends was hooking up with her brother, loser had to cook the other dinner.

See, Waverly was convinced that it was Amy. She believed that if it had been Chrissy then she would have told her but Nicole had reminded her that that wasn't necessarily true. Especially considering that her and Waverly were together and Waverly wasn't telling Chrissy, or anyone.

Where as Nicole was sure that it was Chrissy. She had seen the looks her and Trent gave each other, the flirty banter, the light touches when they thought no one was looking. They were exactly like her and Waverly.

Plus Amy had told her while she thinks Trent is cute, he’s too much like a younger brother that it’d be weird to even think about him that way.

And maybe it was wrong of Nicole to bet with Waverly when she already knew who it was but after having Waverly’s delicious banana muffins, she was dying to try more of Waverly’s cooking.

“Don’t look at me, I’ve already dated one Haught, I’m not looking to date another, besides,” A brilliant smile took over Amy’s face. “I’m seeing someone.”

“Yeah?” Nicole asked, momentarily forgetting about Trent and his hickey. “That’s great.”

She was happy for Amy. Amy deserved to be happy, deserved to be with someone who could give her their all.

“I mean, we’ve only had one date but I really like her.” Amy shrugged, her smile never faltering.

“I’m happy for you.” Nicole reached across the table and squeezed Amy’s hand. “Now, back to you two.”

Chrissy turned a bright shade of red and Trent groaned, banging his head lightly against the table.

This wasn’t how he wanted Nicole to find out about them. Sure, he made no attempt to hide the hickey but, he wanted to tell her about him and Chrissy when it was just the two of them.

There wasn’t much to tell, really. They made out a few times, made it clear that they liked each other but both were unwilling to actually start a relationship without knowing whether or not Trent was actually staying in Purgatory.

“If you two hurt each other,” Nicole looked between the two with what Trent liked to call her ‘cop stare’. “I’ll kick both your asses.”

“Wouldn’t expect anything less Nicky,” Trent said, sliding his hand across the table to take Chrissy’s in his own, smiling sweetly at her, dimples on display.

“You guys are gross,” Amy rolled her eyes. “Now, we just need to get you and Waverly together and we’ll all be happy.”

“I am happy,” Nicole sighed, picking up her beer and downing it. “I have the job of my dreams, in a town that I love and I have the best misfit family in the world, I’m happy.”

She wished she could tell them exactly why she was happy. She wished she could tell them that she and Waverly were together and she was happier than she had ever been in her life. It was a lot harder to not to tell them than she originally thought. It was right on the tip of her tongue, just waiting to be blurted out.

“But you love her,” Trent said, confusion written all over his face.

“Exactly, I love her and that’s why I need you guys to stop pushing us together, stop trying to be my wingman, not that I don’t appreciate it because I do but, you guys have to let us figure this out on our own, you have to let her figure her feelings out on her own.”

“But you love her Nicky,” Trent repeated, every trace of the smile he had moments before now gone. “You deserve to be with who you love.”

“And Waverly deserves the right to figure things out in her own time.” Nicole looked across the saloon to the bar, watching Waverly serve up a couple of customers, with her usual bright, beautiful smile gracing her features and Nicole couldn’t help but to smile as well.

“It’s not easy coming to terms with liking the same sex,” Amy piped up when it was clear that Nicole wasn’t going to continue, too busy staring at Waverly.

She remembered what it was like when she was coming to terms with her sexualitly. She remembered how scared she had been and she couldn’t imagine how scary it was for an Earp, for someone already judge so much.

“It can be scary and Nicole is right, we should give Waverly the time to figure things out on her own, no matter how much we want to see them together.”

Nicole smiled at Amy, opening her mouth to say something, thank her for understanding and being on her side when her phone started to ring from it’s place in her pants pocket. Rolling her eyes, Nicole fished the phone out of her pocket and answered it without checking the caller id.

“This is Haught,” she said, getting up from her chair and making her way outside so she doesn’t have to yell into the phone to be heard over the dull roar in the bar.

Waverly raised her eyebrow at her, silently asking her if she was leaving already as Nicole passed by the bar and even from where she stood, she could see the disappointment in Waverly’s eyes.

Nicole held her phone up for Waverly to see, mouthing ‘I’ll be back’ before continuing her way out the saloon.

“Hey kiddo,” her grandpa’s voice came through the speaker and a huge grin overtook her face, threatening to split it in two.

“Grandpa! It’s poker night, why are you calling?”

It’s not that she wasn’t happy to hear from him because she was. They’ve been playing phone tag for over a week, always seeming to miss each other every time they call. She was happy to finally be able to talk to him and not his voicemail but, tonight was his weekly poker night and she knew how much he looked forward to them each week, she knew it’s what kept him from dying from boredom since his retirement.

“Am I not allowed to call my favorite granddaughter?” He asked and she could hear the mock hurt in his voice and it only made her grin more.

“You better not let Hayley hear you say that,” Nicole said leaning up against the hood of her truck that’s parked in front of the saloon. “You know how upset she gets when she thinks she’s not the favorite.”

Hayley wasn’t that bad, not really. She did like to be the center of attention but that wasn’t really her fault, it was their parents fault. They were the ones to treat Hayley like she was the only daughter they had, like she was the favorite child.

Nicole had long ago come to terms with the fact that her parents acted like they only had one daughter but, that didn’t mean that it still didn’t hurt sometimes. She never held it against Hayley though.

No, the only thing Nicole held against her older sister is the fact that she was never there for her, never on her side, never protected her like an older sister is supposed to.

“How are you settling in at the station, kiddo?”

“Good, good.” Nicole ran her fingers through her hair before pulling herself up to sit on the hood of her truck. “Everyone has been really welcoming and my partner, Eric has been amazing, he’s really taken me under his wing and is teaching me everything he knows.”

“What about this girl Trent has told me about? How are things going with her?”

Nicole rolled her eyes, of course, her brother and grandpa would talk about her love life behind her back as if it was any of their business.

She wasn’t mad, she just wished people would leave it alone, let her figure things out on her own, instead of butting in where they don’t belong.

“Did you just call to interrogate me about my love life?”

“Of course not,” he said as innocently as possible. “I called to interrogate you on your lack of a love life.”

Nicole groaned and shook her head with a small smile.

Trent and her grandpa had the best of intentions, they really did but they were too damn nosey for their own good. She loved them to death and she knew they just wanted her to be happy but she wished for once they’d but out.

“Pa please, not you too,” Nicole exhaled through her nostrils, drumming her fingers against her thigh.  

“Do you love this girl Nicky?”

“I do love her but that’s not the point Pa.”

“Nicky,” her grandpa sighed on the other end of the line and she just knew he was rubbing at the back of his neck. “I know your grandma and I raised you to respect others, to never push them or pressure them, I know we raised you to never be selfish but, for once maybe you should be selfish for the sake of your own happiness.”

“I can't go against the way you raised me and I can't be selfish when it comes to her because I’m in love with her grandpa and I can’t put myself before her.”

She felt like she was repeating herself over and over again to everyone in her life. She just wished that they would get it, they would understand that pushing Waverly wasn’t the answer to anything.

She wished she didn’t have to hide their relationship but she understood why they were. She didn’t mind, not really, she just wanted the people she loved to know. Then they’d finally get off her back about making a move on Waverly.

“I can’t wait to meet the girl who has you completely head over heels in love with her.”

Nicole couldn’t wait either. If there was one person in this whole world that she wanted to like Waverly, love Waverly than it was definitely the man who raised her, the man who helped shape who she was as a person.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my favorite officer.”

Nicole looked up towards where the voice had come from, watching a very drunk David McDaniels stumble towards her.

“Grandpa, I gotta go, I’ll call you tomorrow.” Without waiting for an answer, Nicole hung up and jumped down from her truck and squaring her shoulders.

She’s sure that whatever it is that he wanted, wasn’t good and she was trying to prepare herself for anything he could throw at her.

“Shouldn’t you be at home taking care of your wife?” She asked, sliding her phone back into the front pocket of her jeans.

“Oh, I was just on my way but then, I saw you and wanted to have a little chit-chat.” He stopped in front of her, close enough for her to smell the alcohol on his breath. “If you know what’s good for you Haught, you’ll stay away from Nancy.”

“Are you threatening me?” Nicole quirked a single eyebrow at him and refused to break eye contact.

“Of course not Officer Haught ,” he said her name with a sneer. “I’d never threaten an officer of the law but I would however threaten the nosey bitch meddling in my marriage, in what goes on between me and my wife.”

“You can threaten me all you want but I’m not going to back down, I’m not giving up on her, I’m going to make sure she is completely free of you one day.”

David growled, actually growled at her, stalking closer to her, any hints of his drunken stumbling moments before long gone.

His eyes flashed a deep red that had Nicole scrambling backwards and away from him, that had the hair on her arms and the back of her neck standing on end. She blinked rapidly unsure if whether or not what she saw was real or if she was just drunker than she thought.

He grasped the front of her shirt, yanking her closer and effectively keeping her from getting away from him.

Nicole swallowed thickly then clenched her jaw tightly, trying not to let any of the fear coursing through her show.

Nicole has felt fear more time than she can count, more time than she cared to admit but, in those countless number of times that fear has coursed through her veins, it was never fear for her life, for her safety.

The academy had put her through countless situations like this and she had passed each with relative ease but this wasn’t the academy, this wasn’t training, if she failed to get out of the hold she wouldn’t just be able to start over and try again. Her life was actually in danger this time.

Her heart beat wildly in her chest, her palms were sweaty and she fought to keep her breathing under control. She wasn’t about to let this asshole know how scared she was. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

“You,” he spat, his voice suddenly deeper, sending an involuntary shiver down Nicole’s spine as his breath hot breath washed over her face. “Have no idea what you’re getting yourself into Haught, don’t try and be a hero, don’t try and save my wife because you will fail and you wouldn’t want Waverly Earp to lose someone else she cares about, would you?”   

That was all it took to turn Nicole’s fear into anger. Just one mention of Waverly and using her to hurt the innocent Earp had Nicole’s blood boiling.

He could threaten her all he wanted but she wouldn’t let him get away from threatening the people, the person she loved.

She placed her right hand over the hand gripping her shirt and dug her blunt nails into the soft flesh there as hard as she could. Her nostrils flared as she brought her left foot up and slammed the heel of her boot down on top of David’s foot.

Using David’s slacken grip to her advantage, Nicole twisted his arm behind his back, gripping his elbow with her other hand and shoving his arm up towards his shoulder blades.

He grunted and struggled against her, trying in vain to get out of her grip. Each time he struggled, Nicole shoved his arm farther up his back.

“Let go of me,” David hissed through clenched teeth.

Nicole shoved David into the hood of her truck, leaning over him and speaking directly into his ear. “Next time you lay a hand on me, I’ll arrest you for assaulting a police officer and if you go near Waverly Earp, jail will be the least of your worries.”

The door to Shorty’s swung open and out spilled the dull sounds of some country song playing, as well as the sound of people chatting away and laughing, the sound of beer glasses clanging together and hitting hardwood tables.

The noise was abruptly cut off as the door slammed shut once more and Trent appeared in the dim light, looking around for Nicole.

Nicole released David and stepped back, keeping her eyes on him as Trent walked over to them.

“This isn’t over,” David snarled, storming off, knocking his shoulder into Trent’s as he passed.

Nicole released a breath she didn’t know she was holding and leaned heavily against Trent when he stopped in front of her.

“What was that about?” Trent asked, wrapping his arms around his sister, easily supporting her weight.

“Just some drunk complaining about a speeding ticket I gave him this morning,” Nicole mumbled into his shoulder.

She didn’t like lying to him, he was the person she told everything to but, she knew that if she told him the truth then he’d just go after David and that would open up a can of worms she wasn’t ready to deal with.

“We were just about to order another round, you in?”

“I think I’m going to sit this one out,” Nicole said, pulling away and heading towards the doors. “But I will grab the next round.”

“You just want to go flirt with Waverly from across the bar.” Trent hip checked her playfully and pulled the door open, waving her through.

Nicole shrugged. “It’s harmless.”

She didn’t want to flirt with Waverly at the moment, actually she did, she always wanted to flirt with Waverly but, right now? She just needed, just wanted to see Waverly.

“Is it?” He asked, leaning in and practically shouting in her ear over the noise as they made their way to the bar.

“It is,” Nicole confirmed as they elbowed and shoved their way to the front of the bar.

Waverly grinned at her as they stopped in front of her and Nicole’s heart sped up at the sight. Waverly’s smile was beautiful, breathtaking even and sometimes when Waverly smiled at her, Nicole swore it stole the breath from her lungs.

“Ready for another round?” She directed her question at Trent but her eyes never left Nicole’s.

Waverly watched the siblings push their way to the front of the bar and she couldn’t help but to smile at Nicole when they made it across from her. “What can I get ya?”

“Three beers, three shots of whiskey and a coke for Nicky.” Trent slung his arm around his sister’s shoulder as they watched Waverly turn to fill the order. “She smiles at you like you are the greatest thing to ever walk this Earth.”

“Trent,” Nicole began but he held his hands up.

“I’m just sayin’, I’m pretty sure she loves you back.”

Nicole felt her heart skip a couple of beats, felt the air leave her lungs in a soft barely audible gasp. She knew Waverly had feelings for her, liked her, but loved? She didn’t know that, not for sure at least and she hoped. God, did she hope that Waverly loved her back, that Waverly was every bit in love with her as she was with her.

“I’m just sayin’,” Nicole mocked her brother’s southern drawl, grinning when he shoved her lightly. “But out and stop talking to Grandpa about my love life or lack of a love life.”

“Who’s love life are we talking about?” Waverly asked, setting a tray with their order down in front of them.

“Nicky’s,” Trent rushed out, narrowly missing the back of Nicole’s hand. Moving quickly and out of Nicole’s reach, Trent took Nicole’s drink off the tray, placing it on the bar before scooping up the tray and walking it back to their table.

“So, your love life huh?” Waverly questioned with a smirk, placing her hand on the counter and sliding it towards Nicole's, letting their fingers brush.

Nicole gave her an awestruck grin that had Waverly's heart skipping a beat or two.

“It was actually my lack of a love life,” Nicole intertwined their pinkies, her eyes never leaving Waverly’s. “They're all on me about telling you how I feel, Trent even got our grandpa in on it as well.”

“They care, they just want you to be happy,” Waverly told her, looking around before placing her hand over Nicole’s.

That fear was still there, lingering in the back of her mind but it was easy to ignore when Nicole was smiling at her like that, looking at her like she was the most important thing in her life. Fear was nothing in that moment.

“They want you to be happy as well Waves,” Nicole said in earnest, hoping that Waverly believed her, that Waverly knew more than just her cared about her and wanted her to be happy.

“I know.” And she did know that their friends wanted her to be happy, wanted her to be with Nicole. She just wished that it was just their approval, their acceptance that she needed.

Sensing a change in Waverly’s mood, Nicole tired to think of something to change the subject.

Waverly watched Nicole lean her upper body over the bar towards her until her lip brushed the shell of Waverly’s ear, in the same way that most men did when they tried to flirt with her, which always resulted in Shorty yanking them down by the collar of their shirts.

But this time Shorty just watched with a shake of his head and a barely contained smile. This time Waverly didn’t feel disgusted as warm breath smelling distinctly of beer washed over her. This time Waverly wanted to turn her head and pressed a kiss to Nicole’s neck, taste the smooth pale skin there. This time Waverly let a small whimper each time Nicole’s lips brushed her ear.

“You owe me dinner,” Nicole whispered, just loud enough to be heard over the roar of the bar. Her breath ghosting over Waverly’s ear, causing Waverly to bit her lip and fight off a shiver.

“Oh I do?”

“Mhm.” Nicole smirked as she sat back down, enjoying the effect she had on the Earp. She pointed her thumb in the direction of Trent and this girls. “It was Chrissy who gave him the hickie.”

Waverly just nodded because of course Nicole had been right. Nicole was good at reading people, seeing things they didn’t want other people to see, to know.

“How about tomorrow night? At the homestead?” She asked, already running through the different recipes Gus had taught her over the years. She wanted to make something nice, something special for Nicole.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Chapter Text

Nicole tipped-toed through her living room, uniform in one hand and work boots in the other, avoiding beer bottles and bodies sprawled out on the floor, half covered with blankets.

After finally dragging a very intoxicated Trent, Amy, and Chrissy back to her apartment after Shorty’s had closed and Nicole had helped Waverly clean up. Nicole had offered her bed to the girls twice but each time they refused, stating that they weren’t tired and were going to stay up a bit longer.

A bit longer turned into three hours of laughing and beer bottles clanging together, of Trent yelling at whatever video game he was playing and the girls cracking jokes every time he died, which brought on another fit of laughter.

Nicole hadn’t minded, not really. She laid in bed wide awake most of the night anyways, hugging the pillow that smelled like Waverly and wishing that Waverly was actually there, curled into her side with her head on her chest, their legs a jumbled mess of limbs as she runs her fingers through Waverly’s hair.

Waverly hadn’t been staying with her for that long and yet, Nicole had found it very, very hard to fall asleep without the younger woman pressed against her, without the sound of her breathing softly, without that warmth that she provided.

She never had a problem sleeping alone before, sometimes she even preferred it but, she got the best sleep of her life with the woman she loved next to her and one night without her she found herself waking up every so often (once she was actually able to fall asleep), reaching across the bed in search of Waverly. One night without Waverly and Nicole had instantly missed her.

Nicole transferred her uniform to her other arm and set about unlocking her safe to grab her utility belt and pistol out. She didn’t have to work till noon, giving her plenty of time to load her truck up with some of Waverly’s stuff and take it out to the homestead.

She figured two trips ought to do it (Waverly didn’t have that much stuff), and she’d load up the second before heading to work and take it out there when she headed to the homestead for dinner after her shift.

Walking out the front door and pulling it shut behind her, Nicole made her way down the hall towards the stairs before she was stopped by one of her neighbors, her favorite neighbor, Mrs. Johnson.

“Good morning, Officer Haught,” Mrs. Johnson smiled at her. “Off to work?”

“Later,” Nicole said, giving the older woman a one arm hug. “I'm actually on my way to help Waverly move into the homestead.”

Mrs. Johnson had been her most welcoming neighbor, going as far as making her dinner the first couple of nights she was in town. The woman had been the first person outside of the station to welcome her with open arms, something that Nicole was eternally grateful for.

“She's very lucky to have someone like you,” Mrs. Johnson stated, giving Nicole a knowing look.

“I'm pretty sure I'm the lucky one,” Nicole admitted, looking down at her feet, suddenly nervous, shy even.

She knew that Mrs. Johnson knew of her feelings for Waverly. Hell, she was pretty sure the whole town knew that this point but there was something about the way Mrs. Johnson was looking at her that made her feel like she could somehow see that her and Waverly were together.

It made her nervous for Waverly’s sake. Not that she thought for one second that Mrs. Johnson would go around gossiping about her and Waverly to the entire town.

“You treat her better than that good for nothing boy did, you hear me?” Her easy smile and knowing look was gone, replaced by hard, serious stare and a firm tone.

It warmed Nicole to know that there was someone else out there looking out for Waverly, especially someone as sweet as Mrs. Johnson.

“Yes ma’am,” Nicole vowed. She had every intention to treat Waverly the way she deserved to be treated, like the goddess she was.

“God knows that girl deserves a little happiness in her life.” Mrs. Johnson walked down the hall towards her apartment, missing Nicole nodding in agreement. 

“Have a good day Officer Haught.”

“Thank you Ma’am, you too.”


Nicole arrived at Shorty’s five minutes before she was supposed to meet the Earp sisters, mentally patting herself on the back for not being late to meet Waverly for once.

After safely locking her pistol away in the glovebox, Nicole stepped out of her truck, twisting her hair up in a messy bun before grabbing the coffees and donuts she picked up on the way.

Balancing the coffees and donuts on one arm, Nicole pulled the door to Shorty’s open and strided in, instantly noticing the Earp sisters sitting at the bar.

Wynonna is slumped over the bar, groaning about something Nicole can’t quite make out and Waverly is looking at her sister, shaking her head in that way she does when she’s partially annoyed and partially amused with someone.

The door closed behind her, echoing around the nearly quiet saloon, causing both Earps to tense and look up sharply, Wynonna grabbing for the gun sitting on the bar next to her.

She wondered briefly what had the two so jumpy, so tense and she wanted to ask Waverly about it but she wouldn’t. She was pretty sure that whatever had them so freaked had to do with whatever Black Badge was doing and she knew Waverly couldn’t tell her anything about it.

“Sorry, didn’t me to scare you guys.” Nicole walked farther into the saloon, setting the coffees and donuts down. “I brought breakfast.”

Wynonna dropped the gun back onto the counter before pushing herself off the stool and making her way over to Nicole, reaching for the box of donuts. “You know Red, I didn’t know that the stereotype about cops and donuts were true.”

“Nonna!” Waverly exclaimed, staring wide-eyed at her sister, who was smirking as she flipped the box open, already reaching for the only powdered donut in the box.

Nicole rolled her eyes with a shake of her head, used to the jokes about cops and donuts from Trent and Amy.

“Coffee?” Nicole held two cups out to the Earps. Waverly took her’s with a smile, letting her fingers brush against Nicole’s. Wynonna took her’s with narrow, distrustful eyes.

She wasn’t entirely sure how to get Wynonna to begin to trust her but she figured coffee and donuts were a good start.

Trust didn’t come easily to either of the Earps, Nicole knew that and she knew that getting Wynonna to trust her when so many people had let her down, would be hard, maybe even impossible but, she knew that she had to try for Waverly’s sake, she knew that she had to try because from what she knew, Wynonna needed someone she could trust that wasn’t family.

Wynonna grunted her thanks around a mouthful of donut, tipping her cup at Nicole before taking a seat, happily munching on the sugary treat.

Waverly used her coffee cup to hide the fact that she was biting down on her bottom lip as she trailed her eyes up and down Nicole’s body.

She was wearing shorts and not the usual basketball shorts she always wears. No, Nicole was wearing tight, jean shorts that showed off perfect, muscular yet still soft and feminine, pale legs that Waverly was dying to drag her fingers along.

She paired the shorts with the dark blue tank top she always wore under her uniform, the one that displayed strong biceps and a creamy collarbone that made Waverly weak in the knees.

She was wearing plain clothes, simple articles of clothing but to Waverly, they were anything but simple. Nicole looked beautiful, so damn beautiful in just a pair of shorts and a tank top and the ugliest pair of orange running shoes Waverly had ever seen.

Waverly wished she was brazen enough to kiss Nicole in that moment with Wynonna just a few feet away but she couldn’t, fear stopped her. She had just gotten Wynonna back, after wishing for her to come home for so long. She couldn’t risk losing Wynonna over something so simple as who she loved. Not when they needed each other to break the curse.

“You good there, Waves?” Nicole smirked at her as she hopped up onto the bar, leaning over Wynonna to grab a sprinkle donut from the box, which Wynonna took from her with a smirk of her own.  

“Dude,” Nicole huffed, glaring at the eldest Earp without any real anger. “That was the only sprinkle one.”

“Which is why it’s mine,” Wynonna replied

“I bought them,” Nicole argued halfheartedly. She honestly didn’t give a shit about the donut, she just liked teasing. “Plus you had the only powdered one, therefore,” Nicole snatched the donut back. “The sprinkle one is mine.”

As Nicole brought the donut to her mouth, getting ready to take a bite out of it, Wynonna grabbed it, smirking with her dimples on display and for a second Nicole just stared. She had forgotten that Wynonna was every bit as beautiful as Waverly.  

“Yeah, you bought them for me.”

“Actually I bought them for Waverly,” Nicole said, looking up at Waverly and smiling.

Wynonna shrugged, taking a big bite out of the donut and talking around it. “Same diff.”

Waverly watched the pair with a fond smile. Nicole always had an ability to joke with anyone, put them at ease, cheer them up and make them trust her easily (something she never used to her advantage). It was something Waverly always admired about the Redhead, something that served her well in her job, something that Waverly was happy to see worked on Wynonna as well.  

Nicole shook her head with an amused smile and looked up at Waverly. “You may want to get a donut before your sister eats them all.”


They mostly worked in silence, save for whatever pop song was playing from Waverly’s Ipad, loading Nicole’s truck with box after heavy box.

Nicole placed another box full of old books with titles she can’t even attempt to pronounce when she caught sight of Gus walking down the sidewalk towards Shorty’s.

“Gus!” She called out, bouncing towards the older woman with a warm smile and arms outstretched for a brief hug. “It’s good to see you, I’ve missed my favorite bartender.”

She hadn’t seen Gus since the night she and Waverly had dinner with Gus, the night her and Waverly almost kissed for the first time. She really did miss the no nonsense woman.

“We both know that Waverly is your favorite bartender,” Gus said, returning Nicole’s hug. She wasn’t much of a hugger but she knows that Nicole is, so she let the redhead hug her tightly, surprisingly finding some comfort in the embrace.

“Maybe but I’ve missed seeing you around,” Nicole told her sincerity shining in her eyes as she smiled at Gus.  

Gus is about to reply when Wynonna and Waverly come out, each carrying a box.

“You just gonna stand around Haughtshot or are you gonna be useful and actually help?” Wynonna asked, tossing the box she’s holding into the back of the truck without regard for the contents of said box.

Nicole rolled her eyes for what felt like the hundredth time today. Wynonna wasn’t actually much help. Her and Waverly were doing most of the work while Wynonna stood around and ‘supervised’ them.

Not that Nicole minded. Things were going a lot smoother with Wynonna sitting in the corner of Waverly’s old room on a trunk full of more books, barking orders at them as she drank straight from a bottle of jack, instead of her moving slowly up and down the stairs and being in the way.

“Be nice, Wynonna.” Gus and Waverly said at the same time, Gus giving her a look and a shake of her head while Waverly slapped her shoulder.

“You’re lucky Nicole offered to help or you would be doing this on your own.”

“Yeah right, lucky,” Wynonna looked Nicole up and down with that same look of distrust from this morning that had Nicole shifting uncomfortable under her gaze.

She didn’t have anything to hide but the way Wynonna was looking at her made her feel like she did.

“You two go on, I wanna have a word with Haught here,” Gus said motioning for the Earp sisters to go inside.

“Secrets don’t make friends Gus.”

“Go, Wynonna,” Gus sighed, her patience with the eldest Earp wearing thin. She loved that girl but more often than not she was a pain in the ass.

“I’m going, I’m going, geez,” Wynonna huffed as Waverly pulled her by the arm back inside.

Nicole shook her head at the sisters with an amused smile. There was never a dull moment with the Earp sisters.   

“You’ll look out for Waverly now that Wynonna is back in town right?” Gus asked, once she was sure that Wynonna and Waverly were standing just inside the door, trying to eavesdrop. She didn’t expect Waverly to but, she wouldn’t put it past Wynonna.

“Of course,” Nicole promised when Gus finally met her eyes.

She’d always look out for Waverly, always protect her, defend her until her dying breath but, she didn’t think that Waverly needed to be protected from Wynonna.

Wynonna’s eyes were constantly guarded, never showing any emotion until she looked at Waverly. Then her eyes were filled with regret, pain, love. The type of love one had for their sibling.  

Nicole didn’t believe that Wynonna would do anything to hurt Waverly any more than she already has. She got the feeling that Wynonna was trying to make up for all the pain she had caused Waverly.

“I love that girl but she’s no good for Waverly, she’s as broken as they come.”

Nicole leaned against the saloon’s window, folding her arms across her chest.

She had spend little time with Wynonna but she still didn’t see what everyone else saw. Sure, Wynonna walked around like a bag of broken glass barely covered in skin but, she wasn’t crazy, wasn’t cursed, wasn’t as broken as Gus and everyone made her out to be.

Wynonna had her problems, had her flaws and maybe she was a little bit broken, scarred but she deserved a friend just like everyone else. She deserved to have someone look out for her as much as Waverly did and Nicole would do her best to look out for both Earps.

“I’ll keep an eye on both of them I’ll do my best to protect both of them,” Nicole promised, pushing herself off the building and walking inside.

Gus watched her go with a shake of her head. She wondered if either of the Earps realized how lucky they were to have someone like Nicole Haught in their lives.

“God help ya Haught.”


Nicole picked up a sawed off shotgun sticking out one of the boxes and help it up to Waverly. “You got a permit for this Miss Earp?”   

“That depends,” Waverly said, voice suddenly huskier as her eyes trailed up and down Nicole’s body, desire etched within her features. “Are you gonna arrest me, Officer Haught?

There was something about watching the way the muscles in Nicole’s shoulders and back flexed as she lifted a box, something about the thin layer of sweat glistening off Nicole’s skin that turned Waverly on.

Nicole’s eyes darken and heat stirred in her lower abdomen as Waverly’s eyes continued their trek up and down her body, while biting down on her bottom lip.  

Placing the shotgun back down, she took three long strides across the room towards Waverly, causing the younger woman to take a few steps back until she hit the wall behind her with a soft thud.

Nicole’s hands found Waverly’s hips, calloused thumbs rubbing the skin exposed from her crop top as she trapped Waverly between her and the wall.

She leaned in and pressed an open mouth kiss to Waverly’s neck, smirking against smooth skin when Waverly let out a low moan.

“That depends on if you’re into handcuffs,” Nicole husked, nipping playfully at Waverly’s earlobe, causing Waverly to whimper and pull her in closer by the belt loops on her shorts.

Nicole smirk widened as Waverly’s breathing became erratic, loving the effect she had one the younger woman from just a few well placed kisses.

Nicole placed another kiss right behind Waverly’s ear then began peppering Waverly's neck with kisses and gentle nips.

When she felt Waverly's pulse point hammering under her lips, she flicked her tongue against it, letting out a moan of her own at the taste of Waverly's skin, before biting down gently.

Waverly writhed against Nicole, mouth parted as she let out breathy moan, trying to pull Nicole impossibly closer. Her neck had always been particularly sensitive spot and if Nicole continued attacking her neck then Waverly would be putty in her hands in a matter of seconds.

Warmth spread throughout Waverly’s body as one of her hands gripped the nape of Nicole’s neck, holding her in place and the other, released Nicole’s red locks from her bun then tangled her fingers in it, massaging Nicole's scalp.

The moans and whimpers Waverly made as she nipped and kissed the underside of Waverly’s jaw were addicting and made it hard for Nicole to keep her hands from wandering along Waverly's body.

She knew she should stop, step away from Waverly. Wynonna could come back up stairs at any moment but Nicole found it hard to pull away, hard to detach her lips from Waverly’s soft, delicious skin.

It also didn't help that Waverly was holding her in place.

“Nicole,” Waverly moaned, pressing her hips into Nicole as pleasure coursed through her straight to core when Nicole bit down a little harder than before then soothed the spot with her tongue.

Nicole’s hands moved from her waist around to her ass, squeezing briefly before lifting Waverly up with ease.

Waverly's legs instantly wrapped around her waist and she tugged Nicole up by her hair, connecting their lips in a rough kiss.

Nicole groaned into the kiss, running her hands along Waverly’s bare, creamy thighs, up past her hips, along tight, hard abs. Her hands still moved upwards grazing the underside of Waverly’s breast, moaning into Waverly’s mouth when Waverly bit down lightly on her bottom lip before smoothing it with her tongue.

“This okay?” Nicole pulled back and asked, her eyes searching Waverly’s for any signs that this was too much, too fast, searching for any signs of doubt.

Her accent was deeper, rougher. Her eyes were almost completely black with hints of brown swirling around in them. Her breathing was coming out in soft pants and Waverly was sure that Nicole had never been more attractive than in that moment.

“Yes,” Waverly nodded, trying to pull Nicole back in for another kiss but Nicole stepped back, allowing her to slide down the wall until her feet hit the ground gently.

Waverly pouted, leaning all her weight against the wall, her legs weak and body humming as she took in Nicole’s kiss swollen lips turned up in a smirk. “We’re not finished.”

“Wynonna is back,” Nicole bent down, picking up her discarded hair tie from the floor and quickly redoing her hair.

“You okay there Waves?” Wynonna asked as she entered the room, looking between both Nicole and Waverly, not noticing the way they were both breathing heavier, the way both their lips were swollen, their clothes disheveled in just the slightest bit, their pupils dilated, Nicole smirking at Waverly, while Waverly blushed deeply.

“Waves, here tried to be supergirl and pick up a box twice her size,” Nicole lied easily, winking when Waverly glared at her through hooded eyes. Nicole found it more adorable than threatening.

“I thought Red was supposed to do all the heavy lifting?” Wynonna asked, oblivious to the hungry way Waverly’s eyes roamed over Nicole as she lifted some box of the ground.

Wynonna turned to Waverly when Nicole had left the room, blue eyes boring into Waverly’s. “Do you trust her?”

With my life .

“Yes,” Waverly answered without a second thought.

She trusted Nicole with everything in her, every part of her. Nicole was the only person in her life that she fully trusted, knew that she could count on no matter what.

Nicole had proven time and time again that she could be trusted, that she could be counted on and Waverly didn’t doubt her, not for one second.

“How do you know she isn’t a revenant?”

She had been waiting for this moment, waiting for Wynonna to question Nicole. It’s what she did. Wynonna didn’t trust anyone in her life, not even herself and it wasn’t her fault but if there’s one person in this world that she doesn’t need to question, it’s Nicole.

“She’s not a revenant,” Waverly responded almost immediately.

Sure, Waverly didn’t know for sure whether Nicole was a revenant or not but, there was no way that sweet, kind Nicole, who had a family and life outside of Purgatory could be a revenant, right?

“Guess we’ll find out for sure when we get to the homestead.”


The ride to the homestead was awkward, weird. Every attempt at conversation that Nicole made, Wynonna was quick to shut down.

Wynonna’s leg bounced the whole way, gripping Peacemaker tightly in one hand as her other reached cross Waverly constantly messing with the radio dial, changing the station every time Nicole got into a song and hummed along to a song softly.

Waverly wasn’t sure who she felt for the most, Nicole, who was just trying to be friendly, trying to her hardest to get on Wynonna’s good side for her sake. Or, Wynonna who was freaking out internally at the possibility of Nicole being a revenant.

Waverly sat between them on the bench seat, trying to decided on who to comfort, how to ease the tension in the cab of the truck. She placed her hand on Wynonna’s knee, stilling it’s movement briefly as she pressed her thigh against Nicole’s.

“How do you know where the homestead is?” Wynonna asked, gaze on the stretch of green passing by her window.

“I’ve been here before.”

Wynonna’s whole body tensed up, her impossibly tight grip on Peacemaker somehow got tighter and she whipped her head around so fast to look at Nicole that Waverly was sure she was going to give herself whiplash.

Nicole glanced over, sending Waverly a concerned look before turning her attention back to the road. They were almost to Earp land, almost to the ammolite barrier that kept the homestead safe, kept revenants from coming onto Earp land, that kept them safe from another attack on the homestead like the one that claimed the lives of their daddy and sister.

The attack that was ultimately her fault. If she hadn't have been so naive, so damn trusting then maybe, just maybe their daddy and Willa would still be alive, still be here and then the curse wouldn't weigh so heavily on Wynonna’s shoulders.

She spent years blaming Wynonna for what happened that night, for not saving Willa, for killing their daddy when all along it had been her fault. It had been her choices that lead to the slaughter of half of her family.

Wynonna turning her body to face Nicole fully brought Waverly from her thoughts, her regrets, her mistakes.

“When?” Wynonna asked through clenched teeth, pulling Peacemaker out of the holster on her hip as Nicole slowed the truck down before crossing over the line onto Earp land.

“I was called on scene after your uncle had been found,” Nicole said and both Wynonna and Waverly held their breath as Nicole swerved to avoid a pothole and drove onto Earp land. “You guys should really think about getting this driveway redone, one good storm and most of it’s probably gonna wash away.”

Nicole looked over at the sisters, taking in their tense posture, the way Waverly’s nails were practically digging into Wynonna’s leg, the way Wynonna clinged to her gun like it was her lifeline.

Maybe they weren’t as ready to move back into the homestead as they thought. Maybe they were never going to be ready to live in their childhood home again.

“I know it’s hard coming back to a place filled with nothing but bad memories, so if you guys need a minute, we can just wait here til you’re ready,” Nicole spoke softly, pulling the truck to a stop and putting it in park.

“We’re fine,” Waverly reassured her with a soft smile. “If we don’t hurry, you’ll be late for work.”

“Eric will cover for me,” Nicole put the truck back into drive and continued down the bumpy driveway.


“It’s not much to look at but it’s home,” Waverly brushed her shoulder against Nicole’s, leaning against the front of Nicole’s truck.

“Just needs a little work and then it’ll look great.”

A little work might have been an understatement. The shingles on the medium size two story house were dry rotted and falling off in some places. The gutters were rusted and barely hanging on. The porch looked like it might fall apart at any given second and the outside would really use a pressure wash and a fresh coat of paint.

Nicole could see the potential underneath all of it though, could see that with some tlc this place could really be a home, could be as beautiful as it was the day it was built.

“Trent and I could help with that if you want.” Nicole turned her attention from the house to Waverly, smiling down at her. “We helped our grandpa build a barn one summer, we’re pretty good with our hands.”

“Oh, I bet you are.” Waverly pushed off the truck with a wink, walking around to grab another box and take it inside with Nicole following after her with a shake of her head.

Nicole stopped on her way through the threshold between the living room and kitchen when her eyes caught sight of something etched into the archway’s frame. Setting the box of clothes she was holding down on the ground, she ran her fingers over the words.

Willa age 10.

Wynonna age 7.

But no Waverly.

Nicole knew what that was like, being forgotten, left out of something as simple as having your growth measured along with your siblings as the months, years passed. She knew what it was like being left out of something that typically involved all the children in the household.

Her parents hung pictures of first arrest, first patients in the entryway of their home and the only two of their children whose pictures weren’t up there was hers’ and Trent’s. She had long ago gotten over the hurt that had caused but she knew that it still hurt Trent.

So she knew that this, that the lack of Waverly’s measurements along with Wynonna’s and Willa must hurt Waverly, destroy her.

There was nothing Nicole could do to ease Trent’s hurt, his anger. She couldn’t walk into her parents’ home and hang a picture of Trent next to the one of Blake but, she could mark Waverly’s height on this archway, alongside her sisters.

“Hey Wave, do you have a pen?”

“Uh, hang on,” Waverly called from somewhere upstairs. “I have one in here somewhere.”

Close to a minute later, Waverly bounced down the stair, red marker in hand, holding it out to Nicole.

“Whatcha need it for?” Waverly asked as Nicole, after a quick glance around to make sure Wynonna wasn’t around, placed her hands on Waverly’s hips, pinning her against archway and ducking press her lips against Waverly’s briefly.

“Stand up straight,” Nicole instructed, uncapping the marker with her teeth.

“Why?” Waverly’s nose crinkled in confusion, her thumb dragging slowly against Nicole’s hipbone, causing the redhead to let out a shaky sigh.

She’d never get used to the feel of Waverly’s hands on her, the pounding of her heart, the fire that spread through her, the way the air rushed from her lungs, the way her body buzzed with excitement and love, and lust.

Nicole had never been with anyone who could make her feel so much with just a simple touch, a simple brush of the thumb across her skin. She had never been with anyone, met anyone who made her feel the way Waverly did.

“Just humor me, please,” Nicole begged, pouting down at the shorter woman, who just rolled her eyes with a sigh and did as Nicole asked.

Once Nicole was sure that Waverly was standing to her full height, she dragged the marker across the top of her head, marking the spot.

“What are you doing?” Waverly question staring wide eyed at the redhead.

Nicole didn’t answer right away, just finished what she was doing then returned the marker to Waverly. “There, now you’re no longer left out.”

“Why?” Waverly laid her head on Nicole’s shoulder, tilting just enough to press a kiss to the underside of her jaw.

“I know what it’s like being on the outside looking in, being left out of a tradition.” Nicole laid her head on top of Waverly’s, intertwining their fingers as they stared at the red writing. “I don’t ever want you to feel left out again, I can’t make up for all the things you went through but I can sure as hell try.”

“Thank you,” Waverly whispered.

Those two words weren’t enough, weren’t nearly enough to let Nicole know just how thankful and grateful she was to have her in her life. There wasn’t any words, in any language that could express how damn grateful, how damn thankful she was for Nicole but she hoped those two words would do.

Reaching out with her free hand, Waverly ran her pointer finger along the new mark on the archway.

Waverly age 21.

Chapter Text

Nicole swirled the coffee pot around, watching the black, sludge like liquid inside barely move. Her lips curled up in disgust as she debated whether or not her need for caffeine was worth stomaching the poor excuse for coffee.

Sighing, Nicole poured the ‘coffee’ into her mug, looking for the sugar and creamer to mask the overly bitter and burnt taste of the coffee.  

“You’re not really gonna drink that are you?”

Nicole turned around, finding Wynonna leaning against the breakroom door frame, coffee cup from the cafe in hand which Nicole stared at with envy.

“I have a report to finish and I don’t have time to run out and grab decent coffee if I want to get out of here on time,” Nicole answered, bringing her mug to her lips, taking a sip from it and instantly regretting it. “God, how old is this coffee pot?”

She really didn't have a report to finish. She was just killing time till she got off, going over some of the stranger cases in Purgatory, ones that Deputy Marshal Dolls had quickly taken from them.

“Pretty sure that coffee pot has been around since the first time I got arrested.” Wynonna walked further into the room, holding her coffee cup out to Nicole. “Here, for your help this morning and for being such a good friend to Waverly.”

Nicole poured her coffee in the sink and set the mug down, walking around the table and taking the cup from Wynonna. “Thanks.”

“I saw what you did for Waves this morning,” Wynonna said, rubbing the back of her neck and looking down at her boots. “I don’t think you know how much that meant to her.”

She was nervous and Nicole wasn’t entirely sure why.

Maybe it was because she was practically a stranger. Maybe it was because Wynonna just wasn’t good at talking to anyone about her family, or maybe she just wasn’t good at talking to people at all.

Nicole wanted to ease her nerves, comfort her somehow but she knew that anything she tired to do would be unwelcome.

“I know how much it meant,” Nicole said, sitting on top of the table, cradling the coffee cup in both hands. “Our situations may have been different but our pain, our heartbreak, our feelings of being left out by the people who should have been there for us, they’re the same, Waverly and I are different but we’re the same.”

“Earp,” Deputy Marshal Dolls stopped in the doorway, body stiff as he stood with hands behind his back and lips set in a firm line. “If you’re done socializing, we have work to do.”

“Right.” Wynonna rolled her eyes at the man but followed after him. “Later red.”

“Thanks again for the coffee Earp.”

“Yeah, well just don’t expect it to happen again,” Wynonna called over her shoulder as she into the Black Badge office.

Nicole shook her head with a smile and returned to her desk, fully prepared to finish up reading up on the rest of her files for the last hour of work and get the hell out of here to go get ready for dinner with Waverly.

Her truck was already loaded up with the rest of Waverly’s stuff, so all she needed to do after work was, go home and shower, stop off for some flowers, wine, and a bottle of whiskey for Wynonna then she was set.

“What was that about?” Eric asked when Nicole took a seat back at her desk, picking up the file she had been working on before, eyes scanning over the file but not really taking anything in.

“She brought me coffee as a thank you.” Nicole raised the coffee to her lips, taking a large sig, nearly moaning as the almost scalding, strong, slightly sweet, flavorful liquid hit her tongue. Now, that was decent coffee.

“Thank you for what?” Eric spun his chair around to face her, always a bit nosy with what’s going on in Nicole’s and the Earp’s lives.

He didn't mean to be so nosy, not really. He just cared about the three women. They had all been dealt shitty hands in life and they deserved to have someone looking out for them.

“Helping Waverly move this morning,” Nicole answered, eyes scanning over the witness list from a case where a young woman was killed and had her head tore clear off her body, much like Curtis.

One name jumped out at her, Levi.

She had seen the name before, in another file on another murder that happened in the last couple of months. He had been a witness in that case as well, claiming he had seen the victim get into a black suv with no license plate, the exact same claim he made in this case as well.

It was unusual for someone to have witness two different crimes, especially crimes with the same mo.

“I think I got something,” Nicole said, searching for that other case file somewhere in the stack sitting on her desk. “Some guy named Levi was a witness on two cases, claiming both victims got into a black suv shortly before they died.”

“What are you thinkin’?” Eric asked, pushing his chair over to his desk, picking up one of the files, flipping through it. “Guy injects himself into the investigation to see how close we are to catching him?”

Wouldn’t be the first time a killer or accomplice played witness. Eric hadn’t seen it before but, he knew that it happened every once in awhile.

“Possibly.” Nicole stood from her desk, grabbing her jacket off the back of her chair. “We should bring him in and question him.”

“Whoa, slow your roll there, Haughtstuff,” Eric grabbed her arm, stopping her. “You get off in an hour, you’re having dinner with Waverly, you don’t want to be late to that. I’ll gather info on him tonight and we’ll go pay him a visit tomorrow.”

“We can’t wait, he’s gotten away from this for too long,” Nicole huffed, fire burning in her eyes as she stared down at Eric.

This man, this Levi could have killed Curtis and those girls and if he did, Nicole was going to find out and she was going to bring him to justice, she was going to give those families closure, with the help of Eric, of course. She couldn’t do this without him.

“We can’t just rush in Haught, we have to have some evidence linking him to these crimes besides just being a witness,” he told her, motioning for her to sit back down, waiting for her to slump in her chair before continuing. “We have to do this by the books, if we bring him in for questioning without any kind of evidence, without charges, we can only hold him for 36 hours and once those 36 hours are up and we don’t have anything on him, he walks and possibly flees, we only have one shot at this Haught, we have to do it right.”

He was right. She knew he was right but that didn’t mean she had to like it.

“Dammit,” Nicole sighed, slumping further in her chair, frustration eating away at her. She didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. She wanted to find and stop this killer before they claimed another victim, before they destroyed another family.

“I need to know that you are going to leave this alone until tomorrow, until we know more, until we have the evidence we need.” Eric met her eyes, his tone firm and commanding in what Nicole referred to as his ‘dad’ voice.

“I won’t do anything til tomorrow, til we know more, til we have the evidence we need,” Nicole promised.


The sun had already set by the time Nicole drove her truck down the long, dirt driveway leading to the homestead, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. She was nervous, like she almost always was when it came to Waverly.

She wasn’t even sure why she was nervous. She and Waverly have had dinner together countless of times. Hell if it wasn’t for Waverly coming over to dinner after work all the time, Nicole would probably living on leftover pizza and chinese.

Maybe it was because now they were dating and she didn’t want to screw anything up. Maybe it was because there was a very high chance that Wynonna would be joining them. Or, maybe it was because Waverly might think her housewarming gift was silly or overstepping.

Pulling her truck to a stop next to Waverly’s jeep and killing the engine, Nicole looked over at the gift hastily wrapped in newspaper sitting in the seat next to her, running a single finger along it.

It was something that had been mentioned during the night they all got together for game night, something that had been mentioned in passing, something that may not have been deemed important by anyone else but her.

She knew Waverly though, so she knew that the small things, small gestures meant a lot to her. She knew that remembering something that Waverly had said would mean a lot to her but, Nicole wasn’t sure how Waverly would feel about her stepping in on something that Waverly used to do with Cutris.

Resisting the urge to run her fingers through her curled hair, she stepped out of the truck, grabbing the bag holding both the bottle of wine and the bottle of whiskey. Tucking Waverly’s gift under her arm, she picked up the beautiful, bright red tulips from the seat.

She kicked the truck door shut with the heel of her boot and made her way up the dirt footpath, heart beating rapidly with every step she took, hands becoming sweaty as she neared the door.

It’s just dinner. She reminded herself for what felt like the hundredth time as she knocked on the door twice then smoothed her hand down the front of her flannel shirt, taking a deep breath.

She felt like she was a teenager again, going on her first date with the girl she had a crush on forever and this wasn’t even a date, it was just dinner. She couldn’t imagine how big of a wreck she’ll be when she actually takes Waverly on their first real date.

Waverly opened the door with a wide smile. “Hey, you’re just in time.”

Waverly’s words tapered off as her eyes roamed up and down Nicole, unable to decide where to stay. Silky red hair were done up in loose curls that framed Nicole’s face. She had on just enough mascara and eyeliner to make those honey eyes really pop. Her blue flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up just past her elbows, fit her perfectly and was tucked into her black jeans.

It was a look she had seen on Nicole on more than one occasion and it was a look she wore very, very well, one that caused Waverly’s breath to catch in her throat as she looked over Nicole.

But it wasn’t just her outfit that caught Waverly’s attention. Her eyes lingered on the gorgeous red tulips Nicole held loosely out in front of her.

“You brought flowers,” Waverly whispered, running her fingertips over a petal gently.

Champ had never once bought her flowers without it meaning that he had screwed up or screwed some other woman. He never bought her flowers just because he felt like it, just to surprise her, just to make her smile and feel special.

And Nicole made her feel special, made her feel important, made her feel loved with simple, small gestures that wouldn’t mean much to anyone else but meant everything to her.

“I wasn’t sure what uh, kind of flowers you liked, so I um, just picked the ones that reminded me of uh, your smile.” Nicole shifted awkwardly on her feet, unable to rub the back of her neck nervously with her hands full.

Waverly was just staring at her, at the flowers with an unreadable expression on her face and it caused Nicole’s nerves to spike.

Women liked flowers, she knew this but, maybe Waverly didn’t. Oh God, maybe she was allergic.

“Flowers were a bad idea, I’ll uh, just go put them back in the truck and then we can just go inside and eat.” Nicole was shifting from foot to foot again, her cheeks turned a shade of red that almost matched her hair and Waverly found it to be the most adorable thing she had ever seen.

Taking mercy on Nicole, Waverly grabbed her by the back of the neck and pulled her into a heated kiss, keeping her from continuing to ramble nervously, almost crushing the flowers between them in the process.  

Nicole relaxed into the kiss almost immediately, moaning into the kiss and nearly dropping the things in her hands as Waverly’s tongue traced her bottom lip, seeking entrance which Nicole happily granted her.

They stood there, making out on the front porch like a couple of teenagers without a care in the world. It was risky to stand there making out when Wynonna could come home at any moment and see them, so Waverly slowed their kiss down to an almost lazy pace before she pulled back.

“You’re too good to me, Nicole Haught,” Waverly whispered, pressing her forehead to Nicole’s, which was a bit awkward because Nicole had to lean down at a weird angle, straining her neck a bit but it was worth it.

“Nothing is too good for you, Waverly Earp,” Nicole said softly, kissing the tip of Waverly’s nose before stepping back with a smile.

The need to tell Nicole that she loves her bubbled from somewhere deep in Waverly’s chest, the words were at the tip of her tongue, just begging to be said out loud.

And God, she wanted to tell Nicole. Nicole deserved to know that she was loved but Waverly just couldn’t bring herself to say the words. She wasn’t ready to give herself fully over to Nicole like that, wasn’t willing to risk her heart if thing went wrong.

Instead of saying anything, Waverly took the flowers from Nicole, bringing them up to her nose and inhaling deeply.

“They’re beautiful,” Waverly breathed, looking up at Nicole through her eyelashes.

“Yeah?” Nicole asked, biting down on her bottom lip, trying and failing to suppress a dimpled grin.

She had wooed many women. She had the charm and the smile, along with big brown eyes that most couldn't say no to, which made it relatively easy but none of those women were as important to her as Waverly.

She wasn't looking to woo Waverly just for the fun of it, just to see if she could, just to sleep with her. No, Nicole was trying to woo Waverly just for the fact that she deserved it, that she deserved to be made to feel special, that she deserved flowers all the time, that she deserved little surprises that made her smile.

“They remind you of my smile huh?” Waverly asked, walking inside with Nicole following behind her.

Nicole blushed and ducked her head even though Waverly couldn’t see, stopping to hang her keys on the hook by the door, next to Waverly’s. “They are beautiful, radiant and when I first saw them they took my breath away just like your smile.”

Waverly looked over her shoulder at Nicole as she grabbed the only vase they had down from the kitchen cabinet by the sink.  “Always such a smooth talker.”

“Maybe,” Nicole shrugged, setting the bottles of liquor down on the worn kitchen, along with the wrapped gift. Walking up behind Waverly and wrapping her arms around her waist, resting her chin on Waverly’s shoulder. “But I meant what I said.”

“I know,” Waverly sighed contently, relaxing into Nicole’s embrace, her hands covering Nicole’s as they slipped under her red flowy top, Nicole’s thumbs stroking her abdomen.

Being in Nicole’s arms always brought her a sense of comfort, of safety, a feeling of home that she’s only ever experienced in Nicole’s arms. It was a feeling that she wasn’t sure she would ever get used to.

“This okay?” Nicole asked, voice husky as her warm breath washed over Waverly’s ear, causing Waverly to shiver in pleasure as she nodded her head yes.

Waverly’s heart swelled with love and gratitude for the women holding her. Nicole was always asking for her consent even for the simplest, innocent touches. Nicole was always making sure she was okay with what they were doing, that she was comfortable. It meant absolutely everything to Waverly that Nicole was so considerate, so caring, so willing to take everything at her pace, so willing to stop the second she wanted.  

“I missed you last night,” Nicole whispered, lips brushing the back of Waverly’s neck. “It was lonely sleeping without you next to me, stealing all the covers.” 

Waverly scoffed and turned in Nicole’s arms, pushing her away playfully. “I do not steal the covers!”

“Yeah and you also don’t snore,” Nicole wrapped her arms around Waverly again, pressing a wet open mouth kissed to her cheek.

“You’re an asshole,” Waverly pushed Nicole away again, shaking her head with a smile as she went to check the pot roast in the oven.

“Maybe but, I’m a lovable asshole,” Nicole laughed lightly, moving to finish putting the tulips in the vase for Waverly and placing them in the middle of the table. “Whatever you’re cooking smells good.”

She had noticed the heavenly aroma when she walked into the house but had been too caught up in all things Waverly Earp to mention it. Whatever Waverly was cooking, reminded Nicole of home. Reminded her of nights growing up spent having dinner around a small dining room table with her grandparents and Trent.

“I’m making pot roast, roasted potatoes and carrots and homemade cornbread,” Waverly said, closing the oven and moving to get plates and cups down to set the table.

“That’s my favorite, how’d you know?” Nicole asked, bumping Waverly out of the way with her hip, to set the table herself. If Waverly went through all the trouble to cook for her then the least she could do was set the table and clean up afterwards.  

Her grandma always told that if a woman had taken the time to cook you dinner then you had better not let her do the dishes afterwards. And Nicole would happily do the dishes, do anything to make Waverly’s life just a little bit easier.

“I asked Trent,” Waverly replied, picking up the wrapped gift and moving it to the counter before moving back to the table and pulling the wine then the whiskey bottle out of the bag. “Whiskey? Trying to win Wynonna’s heart?”  

Nicole stopped what she was doing and turned around to look at Waverly, who was smirking playfully at her but her eyes held an insecurity that Nicole knew well, that came from being cheated on, from having your trust betrayed over and over again.

She wanted to rid Waverly of those insecurities, to ease Waverly's heart and mind. She wanted Waverly to know that she was all she could ever want and need, that she only had eyes for Waverly.

She stepped towards Waverly, reaching up and taking Waverly's face between her palms, their eyes meeting. “She’s not the Earp whose heart I’m tryin’ to win.”

Waverly’s eyes darted away from Nicole as she worried her bottom lip between her teeth. She hadn’t meant to make Nicole think she didn’t trust her, that she believed that Nicole would cheat.

She knew Nicole, knew that Nicole would never do anything to hurt her, never do anything to betray her trust but the part of her that was still hurt by Champ’s cheating was afraid of it happening again by someone she truly loved and couldn’t see herself living without.

“Look at me please,” Nicole begged quietly, waiting for Waverly to meet her eyes once more. “I understand your fear but you have nothing to worry about, you, Waverly Earp are the only one I want, the only person I have eyes for, I’ve been yours since the moment we met and I’ll be yours as long as you’ll have me.”  

Waverly’s arms wrapped around Nicole’s waist, pulling her into a tight hug as she buried her face into Nicole’s neck, breathing in her scent, cinnamon mixed with leather. Her fear being washed away slowly as Nicole stood there and just held her, placing light kisses to the top of her head and whispering ‘I’m yours’ over and over.

After standing in each other’s embrace for a bit longer before Waverly stepped back to pull the pot roast out of the oven, while Nicole poured two glasses of wine. They are exchanging small talk about their day in between bites of food and in between Nicole gushing over Waverly’s cooking every few bits.

Nicole made Waverly sit on the counter next to the sink, so they could keep talking while Nicole cleaned up after dinner. Once she was done, they moved to the old lumpy couch in the living room, each carrying a glass of wine and Nicole also carrying Waverly’s gift.

When they settled on the couch, Nicole leaning back into the arm so she was facing Waverly fully, while Waverly tilted her body towards the redhead, running her fingers absentmindedly along the rim of her glass, just staring at her girlfriend , her beautiful, amazing girlfriend.

Waverly felt happy, so incredibly happy in a place that had only brought pain her entire life. Happy in a place that has been so full of death, of heartache, of devastation. Happy in a place that never really felt like home once in her life.

But it felt like home now, sitting on an old couch the needed to be replaced with the one person in the world that saw her, that cared about her despite everything Nicole has heard about her and her family.

Waverly wondered if it wasn’t the homestead that suddenly felt like home or, if it was Nicole that felt like home.

The thought both excited and scared her. No one place had ever felt like home to her. No one person had ever felt like home. Waverly had never known the feeling of being home but here, with Nicole looking at her like she was the best damn thing on this earth, she was pretty sure it was home.

“Here,” Nicole said, passing Waverly a gift wrapped in this morning's comic section of the newspaper and taking the wine glass from her, placing it on the coffee table. “A housewarming gift.”

It wasn’t the prettiest wrapping job she had ever seen but, it was perfect in it’s imperfect state, it’s uneven cuts and folds, it’s tiny claw marks that could only belong to McGonagall.

“I’m not very good at wrapping presents.” Nicole rubbed the back of her neck in that shy, nervous way of hers that always made Waverly want to kiss the hell out of her. “And uh, obviously McGonagall tried to help.”

“It’s perfect but you didn’t have to get me anything,” Waverly said even though she was already tearing into the newspaper. The gift had been taunting her from it’s place on the kitchen counter all night and she was dying to know what it was.  

“Of course I did,” Nicole shook her head with that small smile that was reserved just for Waverly. “Besides, it’s nothing special.”

“Are you kidding me?” Waverly asked, looking up from the boardgame in her hands to Nicole.

The game may not have been special to anyone else but to her? To her Scrabble was everything, it was something she and Curtis used to play almost every week since she was little. To Waverly it was special.

Waverly leaned forward, capturing Nicole’s lips in a soft kiss. “It’s perfect, Nicky, thank you.”

“You’re welcome, love,” Nicole whispered, leaning in for another kiss. This one just as soft, just a gentle.

“Can we play?” Waverly asked, eyes shining with excitement and there was no way that Nicole would be able to tell her no, be able to deny her anything she wanted.

“Of course Wave, whatever you want.”


“I win,” Waverly smirked over at Nicole after tallying up their scores. “Again.”

They had five different games and Nicole had managed to win one. Usually she didn’t like losing, hated even but the pure joy and happiness in Waverly’s eyes while they played made losing just a bit better.

Nicole downed the rest of her wine and then rested her elbow on the coffee table, resting her chin in her palm and just staring at the women sitting across from her with a small smile on her lips, content to lose time and time again to Waverly.

“Play again?” Nicole asked, stretching and trying to suppress a yawn.

Waverly wanted to play again. She could honestly play all night but she knew that Nicole was tired and probably had work the next morning and she didn’t want to keep her from sleeping any longer.

It was already nearing one in the morning and she knew it was selfish to keep Nicole up any longer.

“It’s late,” Waverly said, beginning to put the game away as Nicole gathered their empty glasses and the empty wine bottle, taking them to the kitchen. “Are you staying?”

“I was going to have Trent pick me up,” Nicole answered, coming back into the living room and helping Waverly up off the floor.

“Don’t be silly, you can stay here.” She brushed red locked behind Nicole’s ear then trailed a finger along her jawline, watching intently as Nicole’s eyes slid closed and leaned into her touch.

When Nicole opened her mouth to protest, Waverly silenced her with a finger to her lips, which Nicole kissed lightly, a smile tugging at her lips.

“Please stay,” Waverly whispered, eyes silently begging her to say yes, to stay. “I sleep better with you next to me.”

It was true. One night without Nicole and she had slept horrible, kept tossing and turning, searching for Nicole and the warmth and comfort she provided, searching for that feeling of being completely safe that she always had around Nicole.

With Nicole she was always completely relaxed, always in a peaceful state and sleeping next to her or, wrapped up in her arms was always the most restful sleep she got. With Nicole, sleeping next to her always made Waverly feel completely safe, like nothing in this world could hurt her because Nicole would protect her.

“Whatever you want Waverly.”

Waverly grinned at her, grabbing her hand and pulling her out of the living room, towards the stairs.

“Shouldn’t we lock up?” Nicole asked, though she continued to let Waverly drag her up the stairs and towards her bedroom.

“Nah, there’s no safer place than the homestead,” Waverly answered, flipping on her bedroom light, dropping Nicole’s hand and moving to her dresser.

Nicole wanted to question what she meant by that, how the homestead was somehow safer than anywhere else in Purgatory but she didn’t. Instead, she looked around Waverly’s room. Most of the boxes they had brought up this morning had been unpacked, only a few were left overflowing with books that didn’t fit on the bookshelf that sat on the far right wall.

There was a desk next to the bookshelf which was covered in papers and photos in what looked like an unorganized mess but knowing Waverly, she knew that it was organized chaos. Waverly would know where everything was in that mess.

Nicole walked farther into the room, over to the nightstand by the left side of the bed, picking up the picture there.

“You framed this?” She asked, running her finger over Waverly’s face in the photo.

It was a picture of the two of them, taken the night Trent had come to town. She was clearly drunk in it, cheeks tinted a shade of pink, a goofy drunk grin on her face with her arm thrown around Waverly’s shoulder. Waverly hadn’t been looking at Trent when he took the picture, instead she had been looking at her, smiling at her widely, gaze on her lips.

“It’s one of my favorites of us,” Waverly shrugged, tossing a pair of boxer shorts at Nicole before turning back to the dresser.

Nicole placed the photo back on the nightstand and looked down at the boxers in her hand. “Are these mine? When did you take these?”

“Remember the first night I slept over?” Waverly asked, searching in her top drawer for Nicole’s shirt. She knew she put it in here earlier, she just couldn’t seem to find it now.

“I remember unzipping your dress,” Nicole walked up behind Waverly, brushing the hair off her neck then bending down to press a series of kisses along the soft skin there, listening to Waverly’s sharp intake of breath. Her hands roaming along Waverly’s abdomen, up her ribs to the underside of her breasts.

Waverly's head fell back onto Nicole's shoulder, arching her back, trying to push herself into Nicole's hands more, needing to feel Nicole cup her breasts fully.

“I remember how good you looked in my clothes, I remember how much I wanted to kiss you when we were sitting on my couch, when we were laying in my bed.”

Waverly moaned softly and reached behind her, tangling her fingers in Nicole’s hair as Nicole continued kissing along her neck, nipping at her skin every few seconds, her hands still skirting along Waverly's chest. “When I left that morning, I never actually changed just threw on one of your flannels and I guess I forgot to give them back.”

“You can keep them,” Nicole backed away from Waverly, knowing that if she didn’t put distance between them now, she might do something neither of them were ready for, might take this further than they were ready for. “They look better on you anyways.”

Waverly swallowed thickly, grabbing a random shirt from her dresser and handing it to Nicole, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.

Nicole nodded thanks and left the room to change in the bathroom but not before pressing a lingering kiss to Waverly's lips.

Waverly watched her go before throwing herself on the bed with a sigh, covering her eyes with her arm and breathing deeply through her nose, trying to ignore the want and the need coursing through her body and settling as an intense throb between her legs.

She wanted Nicole so damn badly, wanted to feel Nicole’s body move against hers, slick with a thin layer of sweat. She wanted to feel Nicole’s fingers trail up her thighs before sliding through wet folds. She wanted to feel Nicole’s lips on every inch of her skin. She wanted to touch Nicole until she was moaning her name.

She didn’t just want to have sex with Nicole, she wanted to make love to her, she wanted it to mean something. Sex with Champ was just that, sex. It meant nothing, it was something they did to pass the time, something Champ used to make up after a fight, after he upset her.

She didn’t want that with Nicole because Nicole meant something to her, meant everything to her and Nicole deserved more than just sex and so did she. But, she knew that right now, she wasn’t ready to take that step with Nicole, wasn’t ready to give herself over like that.

She was afraid, nervous to take that step. Afraid that afterwards Nicole might realize that this, she wasn’t want Nicole wanted. Nervous that even after all her research (and she had done a lot), that she wouldn’t be able to please Nicole, wouldn’t be able to make her come undone, wouldn’t be any good at it.

Light footsteps coming down the hall pulled Waverly from her thoughts but she didn’t move, didn’t remove her arm from her face to look at Nicole.

“Hey,” Nicole whispered and Waverly felt the bed dip beside her, felt Nicole take her hand in hers, gently as if she was afraid that she’d break or maybe bolt. “You okay?”

Nicole looked down at Waverly with concern, wanting to remove her arm from over her face so she could look into Waverly’s eyes, see what was going on it that brilliant brain of hers.

Waverly had been okay when she left to get changed and Nicole was worried that she had done something to upset her, stepped over some line that she hadn’t even known was there.

“I’m not ready for us to have sex,” Waverly squeaked out, sitting up and wrapping her arms around her knees.

Nicole was quick to wrap her arms around Waverly, kissing Waverly’s temple. “Oh baby, I’m not ready either and even if I was, I’d wait until you were absolutely ready, until you were absolutely sure.”

“You're not ready?”

“No, I'm not,” Nicole answered truthfully, sitting back some and stroking Waverly's hair. “What I feel for you Waverly, it's real and I don’t want to ruin it by rushing into something we’re not ready for, you’re not ready for.” She kissed the side of Waverly’s head again, waiting for Waverly to turn at look at her before continuing.

“I don’t want to pressure you into anything, so if I do something you are not ready for, something that makes you uncomfortable, tell me and I’ll stop, I have self control, I’m not a horny teenager. Ican go without sex and if I can’t then I can take care of myself.”

This wasn’t just about them being intimate, just about Waverly’s fear of them taking that next step, Nicole knew that. This was about Waverly’s crippling fear of the people she love disappearing on her, leaving her behind. This was about insecurities that plagued her and would probably always be there.

Nicole wasn’t the only one who would need constant reassurance that she was wanted, that she was good enough. Nicole would spend every day of her life, of her time with Waverly making sure Waverly knew how cared for she was, how much she was want and how good she was.  

“I’m not Champ, I don’t need sex to be in a relationship with you, I just need you Waverly. I just need us eating grilled cheese on my living room floor as we watch whatever documentary you’ve been dying to see, I just need you kicking my ass at Scrabble just for me to turn around and destroy you in poker, I just need to be able to hold you and shower you with all the love you deserve.”

Nicole brought them down until they’re lying down, Waverly practically on top of her, clinging to her as she rubbed her back.

“Stay.” Waverly whispered and Nicole could hear the vulnerability in her voice, could feel her tears hitting her chest and soaking into her shirt.

She wasn’t asking for Nicole to just stay the night, there was a deeper meaning behind that single word, a plea to prove that she’d stay when so many have left.

“Forever,” Nicole promised, holding Waverly tighter against her.

Chapter Text

A loud commotion somewhere downstairs startled Nicole awake and had her reaching blindly for the gun she kept in her nightstand. Jerking up right when her hand came in contact with a leather bond book instead of the cold metal of her Beretta Nano, she blinked rapidly, looking around the dark room, only illuminated by the bit of moonlight peaking through the window.

She looked to her left over at Waverly, who hadn’t been woken by the noise and was cocooned in the quilt that had at one point been covering both of them. She leaned over and kissed Waverly on the forehead before sliding out of bed and looking around the room for something to use as a weapon.

Cursing under her breath when she came up empty, Nicole made her way out of the room quietly, tiptoeing towards the stairs and peaking over the railing down to the pitch black first floor. She took a few deep, calming breaths to try and slow her pounding heart, straining her ears to pick up any sound from downstairs over the loud beating of her heart.

When a crash came from downstairs followed by an exclaimed ‘shit’ and groaning, Nicole took the stairs two at a time, recognizing the voice instantly.

Grouping the wall blindly for the light switch she had seen earlier in the night, she flipped it on, light illuminating the small hall between the living room and the staircase, enough light spilling into the living room for her to be able to see Wynonna on the floor next to a wooden chair that had been knocked over.

“Wynonna,” she called softly, moving to the woman’s side to help her up.

She gripped Wynonna under her right arm, ignoring the fact that she smelt like a damn distillery and hauled her to her feet before dumping her on the couch.  

She wanted to ask how much Wynonna had to drink, if she had actually drank that whole bottle of whiskey but, she knew it wasn’t her place to question Wynonna’s drinking habits. They were just starting to be friends and she didn’t want to mess that up.

“Officer Hottie!” Wynonna gave a drunken grin, lifting the almost empty bottle of whiskey to her lips and taking a long swig from it. “What are you still doing here?”

“We had too much wine during Scrabble, I couldn’t drive so I just stayed over,” Nicole answered, righting the chair Wynonna knocked over before taking a seat on the coffee table to help Wynonna with her boots.

“What are you doing?” Wynonna grunted, jerking her booted foot away from Nicole.

“Well, I was going to help you take your boots off but, if you don’t want my help than please do it yourself.” Nicole sat back and motioned for Wynonna to go ahead and do it herself.

She watched Wynonna sat the bottle of whiskey next to her on the couch, watched as she bent over to try and undo her boots, waited for the nausea she was sure Wynonna would experience to come.

Wynonna groaned and slumped back into the couch, face much paler than before, blue eyes watery. She grimaced and gripped her stomach tightly.

“I’ll get you some water.” Nicole stood, picking up the bottle of whiskey and making her way into the kitchen, flipping the light on as she went.

Setting the bottle down on the counter next to the one she brought, Nicole went through the cabinets, looking for where the glasses were kept. She probably should have been paying attention to where Waverly had gotten their glasses from earlier instead of staring at her ass.

“Second cabinet from the fridge,” Wynonna called from the living room, watching Nicole look around the kitchen like a lost puppy.

Nicole nodded her thanks and grabbed a glass out of the second cabinet from the fridge like Wynonna said and filled it with water. On her way back to the living room, she stopped by the front door, locking the old deadbolt then yanking on the door to make sure it was secure.

She had a hard time falling asleep earlier knowing that the door was unlocked, that anyone could just waltz right in at any given moment.

Waverly had reassured her multiple times that they were safe and eventually the steady beating of Waverly’s heart and her light snoring lulled Nicole into a restless sleep.

“Can I help now?” Nicole asked, handing Wynonna the glass of water and taking a seat back on the coffee table.

Wynonna nodded, already gulping down half of the water as Nicole pat her thigh, singling for Wynonna’s foot.

Wynonna studied Nicole with an unreadable expression, as Nicole unlaced her boot, as if she was trying to see inside her head, trying to figure her out.

“You played Scrabble with Waverly?” Wynonna finally asked after Nicole had finished with the first boot and was pulling Wynonna’s other foot into her lap.

Nicole looked up from the task at hand, eyebrow raised. “That really the question you wanted to ask?”

She wasn’t absolutely sure what she was expecting Wynonna to ask her but, it definitely wasn’t that. If she had to guess, she would have thought Wynonna would question her friendship with Waverly.

Wynonna may have left Waverly behind while she was trying to run away from her past, her problems but, Nicole could see how much she loved her sister and how much she wanted to protect her sister.

“No,” Wynonna shrugged, pulling her jacket off and dropping it to the floor. “But I figured I’d start with something easy.”

“Yes, we played Scrabble,” Nicole said, tossing Wynonna’s boot over by the other one then picked up her leather jacket up off the floor, getting up to hang the jacket up by the door. “You can’t treat leather this way.”

She’d humor Wynonna, answer whatever random, unimportant questions Wynonna asked until she got to whatever it was she really wanted to ask, really wanted to know.

It’s not like she had anything better to do at the moment. Sure, she’d much rather be in bed with Waverly but, she wasn’t going to pass up a chance to gain Wynonna’s trust, for them to talk, to bond.

“Why?” Wynonna asked, throwing her legs up on the couch, stretching out, fully intending to sleep right here. Her and Waverly had cleared out the master bedroom and put a bed in there for her but, she wasn’t ready to sleep in there. Hell, she wasn’t even sure she was ready to stay in this house at all. “Waverly is crazy smart, you had to know you’d lose.”

“It wasn’t about winning.” Nicole sat down in the beat up recliner to the right of the couch. She shook her head with a smile, laughing softly to herself. “Usually I’m extremely competitive, I’ve got to win at all cost but, with Waverly I’m okay with losing as long as I get to see that adorable smile of hers.”   

Wynonna stared at her, eyebrows knitted together in confusion and Nicole shifted nervously in her chair. She gave too much away, let her feelings for Waverly shine through so clearly.

She honestly didn’t care that Wynonna knew how she felt for Waverly but, she wasn’t sure how Waverly would feel about it. She knew that Waverly wasn’t ready to tell people yet, wasn’t ready to let the world in on this bubble they’ve created around themselves.

Once that bubble was popped and the world was let in, things became real, the risk of being hurt became real. It wasn’t that Waverly was just afraid of what people would think, she just wanted to live in their bubble a little longer and Nicole was okay with that. She’d give Waverly whatever she wanted, whatever she needed as long as at the end of the day Waverly was hers.

The confusion on Wynonna’s face shifted to understanding, like she finally figured out the answer to a problem she’s been trying to solve. “You like her.”

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement, a fact but Nicole answered anyways. “I do.”

“Hmm,” Wynonna hummed, propping her head up on her forearm and staring up at the ceiling. “Well, you’re definitely a step up from the douchebag she was dating.”

“Just a step?” Nicole asked, feigning hurt. “I’m offended Earp, I thought I was at least three or four steps up from Hardy.”

Wynonna laughed lightly as she lazily pulled Peacemaker from it’s holster, pointing the gun at Nicole without so as looking in her direction. “I don’t know where Waverly stands on her feelings towards you but I do know that she trusts you and if you betray that trust, if you hurt her in any way, if you pressure her into anything she doesn’t want, I will send your ass to hell.”

Maybe it wasn’t her place to threaten Haught on Waverly’s behalf. She had been in and out of Waverly’s life since the night half of them died, she had been completely MIA the past three years and she had no right to butt into the life Waverly had made for herself.

She has been a shitty sister to Waverly and there was nothing on this earth that she could do to make up for how terrible she had been, how absent she had been but, she could try to protect Waverly from getting hurt, she could try to be a better sister.

“I’d sooner die than hurt her, betray her trust or pressure her into something she didn’t want.”

“Good, we’re on the same page,” Wynonna yawned, placing Peacemaker back in it’s holster.

“When’s the last time you slept?” Nicole asked, taking in the bags under Wynonna’s eyes, the dark circles there. “Really slept?”

Wynonna looked over at Nicole with narrow eyes, trying to figure out why she was asking. She was met with big brown eyes filled with nothing but concern, she saw no ulterior motive behind the concern.

“It’s been awhile,” she reluctantly admitted to the redhead. “Probably haven’t gotten a good night's sleep since before I came back.”

She didn’t quite trust Nicole just yet, didn’t know what Nicole wanted from her, didn’t know why Nicole was so nice to her, so helpful. She was sure Nicole had some sort of ulterior motive for it all. No one was nice to her, helpful without wanting something from her.

As distrustful as she was of Nicole, she’d admitted that the redhead was growing on her. Mainly because of how easily Nicole was able to make Waverly smile brighter than Wynonna had ever seen, how she was able to make Waverly laugh harder than Wynonna ever thought possible.  

Nicole seemed to be able to bring out a different side of Waverly, a happier, almost carefree side that Wynonna had never seen and it made her want to trust her but, years of people turning their backs on her, using her for their own gain, treating her like she was insane made it hard.

“Too many bad memories?” Nicole question, getting comfortable in her chair, propping her feet up on the coffee table. “Or too much crazy shit happening here in Purgatory to let your guard down enough to sleep?”

She didn’t want to push Wynonna, didn’t want to make her talk about something she wasn’t ready to open up to her about but, she wanted to help Wynonna. Wanted to help her figure out why she wasn’t able to sleep and hopefully help her actually get some sleep.

Wynonna gave a nonchalant shrug. “Bit of both, I guess.”

Nicole waited for Wynonna to elaborate, to say something, anything more on the subject but, she didn’t, she just continued to stare up that the ceiling. Nicole nodded even though the other woman couldn’t see it and stood up, walking around the coffee table. She grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch and threw it over Wynonna.

Without a word, she walked out of the room and towards the closet in the hallway by the stairs to grab the sawed off shotgun she saw Waverly put in there this morning. Turning the hallway light off, she went back into the living room, sitting back in her chair.

“Sleep Earp,” she said softly, laying the shotgun over her thighs. She might not be able to rid Wynonna of the terrible memories that plague her but, she could make sure that Wynonna was safe, that nothing or no one could get to her, she could make sure that Wynonna got a bit of sleep. “I’ll watch over you and Waverly.”

Wynonna wasn’t sure how she felt about Nicole watching over her but honestly she was too tired to care. She wanted, she needed sleep so she wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity.

“Thanks, Red,” she mumbled, rolling over onto her side and pulling the blanket tighter around her.

“Anytime, Earp.”  


Waverly rolled over in bed, feeling the warm morning sun across her bare legs, refusing to open her eyes and wake up fully as she reached for Nicole, intending to cuddle with the redhead a bit longer before she had to start her day. Instead of finding Nicole’s warm, soft body, she was met with a cold, empty spot next to her.

Opening her eyes slowly, Waverly pulled herself up into a sitting position, fighting off a wave of panic as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes then looked around the room for the redhead.

Nicole’s clothes were still folded neatly on Waverly’s desk chair where she had left them the night before and her cellphone was still sitting on the nightstand, so obviously she was still here but where?

“Nicky,” she called softly, sliding out of bed, her bare feet hitting the hardwood floor with a soft thud.

This wouldn't be the first time Nicole had woken up before Waverly. Nicole was very much an early riser, never one to sleep the day away but, usually when she woke up before Waverly, she stayed in bed, allowing Waverly to cuddle into her side or practically lie on top of her and continue sleeping while she read a book or a case file in bed.  

When she received no answer, she checked the upstairs bathroom before heading down stairs. The stairs creaked under her feet, followed by a quiet ‘shhhh’ from the living room.

“Nicole,” Waverly whispered, walking into the living room, finding Nicole leaned back in the recliner, shotgun in her lap and reading a book she must have gotten from Waverly’s shelf.

“Sorry, she’s finally sleeping peacefully,” Nicole spoke quietly, pointing to Wynonna on the couch, who had a blanket tucked in tightly around her and looked completely relax for the first time since she’s been back in town.

Nicole got up from the recliner, laying the shotgun and book in her place and held her hand out to Waverly. The second Waverly’s hand is in hers, Nicole pulled her into a tight embrace, pressing a kiss to her temple before mumbling a soft ‘good morning’ into her hair.

“Come on, I made coffee.” Nicole pulled back from the hug, her fingers trailing down Waverly’s arm to intertwined their fingers then leaded Waverly to the kitchen.

“How long have you been up?” Waverly asked, watching Nicole move around the kitchen easily as if it was her own.

There was something comforting about watching Nicole move around the kitchen as if she’d done this a thousand times, as if she belonged here, lived here with Waverly. It made Waverly hope that this could one day be their future, living together in the safety of the homestead, having coffee together every morning to the sounds of Wynonna’s snoring, having dinner together after long days and falling asleep in each other’s arms.

Waverly never had much hope for the future. Sure, she was a planner but she never planned for a future full of love and happiness, never planned for a future with someone who really saw her and understood her, never planned for a future with someone like Nicole.

She wondered if Nicole had the same hope of a future with her. She wondered if Nicole even wanted a future with her, wanted to live together, wanted to spend their lives together.

“Uh, since four,” Nicole shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal, pouring coffee into the two mugs she gotten from the cabinet, adding two spoonfuls of sugar into one for her and three into the other for Waverly, adding a splash of milk to both. “I hope you don’t mind, I snooped around a bit to familiarize myself with where everything is at.”

“Couldn’t sleep?” Waverly asked as Nicole sat next to her at the table, passing her a coffee mug, which Waverly took with a kiss to Nicole’s cheek as a thank you.

Checking towards the living room to make sure Wynonna was still asleep, Waverly leaned forward and cupped Nicole’s jaw, thumb brushing slowly against her cheek as she took in the dark circles under Nicole’s eyes, took in the way Nicole’s eyes drooped just a bit, took in the beautiful, sleepy smile Nicole gave her.

“You look exhausted,” Waverly whispered, still caressing Nicole’s cheek. “What woke and kept you up?”

Nicole’s eyes slid closed as she nuzzled into Waverly’s touch, a soft sigh escaping her lips. She could probably fall asleep just like this with Waverly’s soft, gentle fingers on her skin.

“Wynonna coming in woke me up, I helped her with her boots, made her drink some water then we talked a bit,” Nicole said, her words a mumbled, sleepy mess. “She was so tired but wouldn’t or couldn’t fall asleep, too worried about being caught of guard I guess, so I offered to stay up and keep an eye on both you.”

Waverly’s heart swelled with affection for the woman before her. Nicole had willingly given up sleep, knowing that she had to work an overnight shift, just so Wynonna could get a few hours of sleep.

No one, absolutely no one put Wynonna’s wellbeing before themselves (Waverly had always been put first after the attack on the homestead). No one besides Gus and Curtis had never been willing to lose sleep to make sure Wynonna got a few hours herself. No one other than family had ever actually given a shit about Wynonna.

The fact that Nicole cared enough to put Wynonna before herself, cared enough to lose sleep for Wynonna’s sake, it meant a lot to Waverly. It made Waverly fall that much more in love with her.

“Thank you for,” Waverly waved her hand between the two of them, trying to find the right words. Trying to figure out what exactly she was thanking her for. “For being your perfect, amazing, caring self.”

Nicole shrugged again as if this too wasn’t a big deal, taking a sip of her coffee before speaking softly. “I don’t know how to be anyone or anything else.”

Waverly brought the hand not caressing Nicole’s jaw, up and ran it through messy red locks, drawing the redhead into a gentle kiss then pressed their foreheads together, looking deeply into sleepy brown eyes. “I know, it’s what I adore about you.”


Waverly looked to her right when Wynonna stopped next to her and leaned against the weather worn railing of the porch, taking a sip of her coffee that for once didn’t have whiskey in it (something Waverly was sure she should thank Nicole for).

She turned her attention back out into the yard, where Nicole was unloading the last of Waverly’s things from the bed of her truck, still wearing her boxers, Waverly’s slightly too tight t-shirt and the boots she had worn the night before. Which made her look absolutely ridiculous and adorable at the same time.

Both Earps had offered to help but Nicole had waved them both off, saying that they should spend time together and that she could handle the last bit of stuff herself.

“I get why you trust her so much,” Wynonna nodded towards the redhead, studying Waverly from the corner of her eye. “She kinda makes it hard not to.”

“She's a good person.” Waverly smiled softly at the redhead as she made her way up the porch steps with a box, smiling back at Waverly so wide her dimples showed.

“I threatened her,” Wynonna said when Nicole was out of earshot, stealing another glance at Waverly and shifting nervously, unsure of what her reaction might be.

She wasn’t sure if Waverly might think she was overstepping. She had been gone for so long, let Waverly down time and time again, hurt Waverly so much that Waverly might think she didn’t have a right to try and be a big sister now.

“Nonna!” Waverly exclaimed finally pulling her eyes from Nicole and giving Wynonna her full attention.

“I just warned her not to break the trust you placed in her and maybe it’s not my place, not now, not after everything.” Wynonna rubbed the back of her neck, looking anywhere but at her sister.

She wanted to apologize for not being there for Waverly, for running, for only thinking of herself all those years, for not being the big sister that Waverly deserved but, she knew that a simple ‘I’m sorry’ wouldn’t do, wouldn’t be enough.

It was all she had though. It was all she could give Waverly at the moment and she hoped that it would be enough for now. She hoped that one day Waverly forgive her for everything. She hoped that one day they could rebuild their relationship. She hoped that one day Waverly would trust her again.

“I’m sorry baby girl, for everything I’ve done,” Wynonna said quietly, looking down at her coffee cup, wishing it had a splash of whiskey in it. “For everything I didn’t do.”

Waverly bit down on her bottom lip, studying what bit of Wynonna’s face she could see, conflicted on whether or not she was ready to accept her apology.

She wanted to forgive her, wanted to trust her again. Wanted to believe that she wasn’t just going to up and leave at any given moment but she wasn’t ready yet.

As much as she wanted to ease the sorrow she had seen in Wynonna’s eyes before she looked down, she knew she couldn’t, not without lying, not without putting someone else’s feelings before her own once again.

One of the most important things Waverly had learned from Nicole was that she shouldn’t have to always put everyone else before herself, that she shouldn’t hide, shouldn’t pretend for the sake of other people.

“I’m not ready to forgive you just yet,” Waverly whispered, taking one of Wynonna’s hands in her own and squeezing lightly. “I need more time.”

She loved her sister, she really did but forgiving her before she was truly ready wouldn’t do either of them any good. She just hoped that Wynonna would understand, would give her the time she needed.

“ ‘Course.” Wynonna forced a smile, leaning forward to press a kiss into Waverly’s hair before stepping back and making her way inside. She understood, she really did but that didn’t make it any easier.

Waverly watched her go, frowning as Nicole walked back onto the porch, placing the box she was carrying down and moving to Waverly.

“Waves,” she spoke gently, reaching out to the younger woman, bringing her to her chest and resting her head on top of Waverly’s, listening for sounds of Wynonna returning. “You okay?”

“I think so,” Waverly mumbled into Nicole’s chest, snaking her arms around Nicole’s waist, pulling her closer and taking comfort in the strong, steady beat of her heart.

“Wanna talk about it?”

“Maybe later,” Waverly said, her fingers running up and down Nicole’s back, enjoying the way Nicole’s chest vibrated lightly when Nicole hummed in contentment.

“Okay baby.”


Nicole sat down at her desk after clocking in, sipping her coffee and trying to suppress yet another a yawn and seriously regretting not taking Waverly up on her offer of a nap earlier in the day.

She had wanted to nap with Waverly. God, how she wanted to do something as simple as taking a nap in the middle of the day with the woman she loved but, she knew that if she had crawled into bed with Waverly then she wouldn’t wanted to have to drag her ass back out and home to shower for work.

“Don’t get too comfortable,” Eric said, standing up from his desk, placing his stetson on his head then securing his pistol in it’s holster on his right hip. “We’re taking a ride to pay Levi a visit.”

Nicole groaned and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. As much as she wanted to go and talk to this Levi guy, as much as she wanted to find Curtis’ killer, she just wanted a moment to rest her eyes and relax more.

“Can we stop for coffee on the way?” Nicole asked, standing up from her desk and jogging in place for a few moments, trying to work her heavy limbs and wake herself up some.

Eric watched her in amusement as she switched from jogging to doing jumping jacks before gathering her things and downing the last of her coffee.

“Haught date keep you up all night, Haught?” He asked with a smirk, opening the bottom left drawer of his desk and grabbed a redbull, tossing it at the rookie.

Nicole rolled her eyes at her partner, catching the can with ease. “You know who I was with last night.”

“Fine, let me rephrase my question,” he said as they made their way out of the station and towards his parked cruiser. “Did Waverly Earp keep you up all night?”

“She wasn't the Earp that kept me up all night, Wynonna has had trouble sleeping since coming to town so I offered to keep an eye on her and Waverly while she slept.”

“Are you even real?” Eric looked over at her, reaching out and poking her cheek with his pointer finger as Nicole tried slapping his hand away. “You’re so damn good and caring Nicole Haught and sometimes I think you’re too good to be true, to be real.”

There was awe and wonder in his tone that had Nicole’s pale cheeks turning a light shade of pink as she ducked her head. “I was just doing what I could to help.”

She didn’t want praise for doing something as simple as staying up so Wynonna could sleep. She didn’t want praise for just doing what she was raised to do. She didn’t want praise for doing what any decent person would have done.

Wynonna may be the town pariah. People may think she is crazy and cursed but she still deserved to be treated with kindness, she still deserved to have someone looking after her, caring for her.  

“I can count on one hand the number of people who would have done that for her, who would have cared enough to make sure she got some sleep, who cared enough to protect her,” Eric said, unlocking the cruiser and opening the driver side door, sliding into his seat. “People still only see the little girl who shot her father, the little girl who wrecked havoc everywhere she went.”

“Yeah well,” Nicole sighed, scrubbing her hand across her face as she shut the car door with the other. “The people here turned their back on Wynonna instead of helping her and in doing so, they made her into who she is.”

Eric started the car and put the car in reverse, placing his arm on the back of Nicole’s seat, looking over his shoulder as he back out of the parking space. “It seems like she’s getting her life together, walking the straight and narrow, workin’ with the law instead of breaking it.”

“For her’s and Waverly’s sake, I hope so,” Nicole looked out her window, watching the town and people that had done nothing but hurt the Earps pass by. “They’re both damaged in their own ways, both fighting their own demons, both trying to heal themselves but not realizing that no amount of healing will ever rid them completely of their pain, of their past.”

Eric looked over at her, studying her side profile before turning his eyes back to the road. “I take it you’re speaking from experiences.”

She was damaged in her own way as well, maybe not as severe as the Earps but, she was damaged, was broken in a way, was fighting her own demons, living breathing ones that were waiting for her to fail, to come crawling back to them, to come back to a place that was never home.

“We all have our own demons.”

“I suppose that’s true, the only difference is how one deals with them, some try to drown them in the bottom of a bottle, some suffer in silence, others hurt themselves in countless different ways.” Eric glanced over at her again, brows furrowed in concern for the rookie, worried that she may be dealing with things in an unhealthy way, though he had seen no signs of it. “How do you deal with yours?”

“I fight my demons every time I put this uniform on.”

“Your father?”

He knew little of Nicole’s father but, he did know that her father did not approve of her becoming a cop, of Trenten becoming a nurse and that their father made their lives extremely difficult for going against his wishes.

He didn’t understand how their father wasn’t proud of them and the people they had become. The Haught siblings were good kids, good people that never put themselves before anyone else. They were compassionate and looked out for others and Eric hoped that his daughter grew up to be half as decent as the Haught siblings.

Eric reached over and squeezed her shoulder. “Those demons of yours ever get overwhelming, I’m here for ya.”

“Thanks Eric.”


When Eric pulled the police cruiser to a stop outside the trailer park's front gate, there was already a group of ten or so men standing there, each with a shotgun or rifle in hand, waiting, as if they knew they had been coming.

A man wearing a large, dark brown fur coat that was too hot for the weather, stood in the middle of the group, his black mohawk slicked back as he scratched at the part of his short beard that was dyed blonde, watching them like a hawk as Eric shut the car off.

The ringleader. Nicole guessed.

“Bobo,” Eric said before Nicole even had a chance to ask. “He owns the trailer park and he’s not the kind of guy you want to piss off.”

“Bobo,” Nicole laughed, dragging her eyes away from the man still staring at her and over to Eric, who looked more uneasy by the second. “How much did his parents hate him?”

“His real name is Robert but he doesn’t like to be called that, so stick to Bobo or Mr. Del Rey.” Eric unbuckled his seatbelt and stuff the car keys in the front pocket of his shirt. “No matter what, do not let any of these guys get behind you, do not draw your weapon unless you want five more pointing back at you, these guys are the scum of Purgatory Haught, do not underestimate them and stay with me at all times, understood?”

Nicole nodded as a bit of fear mixed with nervousness simmered just under the surface. She had never seen Eric look so uneasy, never seen him be anything other than calm and level headed while they were dealing the people of Purgatory.

“Alright Haught, let's do this.” Eric stepped out of the car, with Nicole following suit, slipping a pair of aviators on her face to battle the blinding sun that had yet to set.

“Well, well, well, if it isn't my favorite Deputy, how are ya doin’ Eric?” Bobo asked, stepping forward to meet them halfway as the men behind him spread out some.

“I’m doin’ pretty well Mr. Del Rey,” Eric answered, hands coming up to rest on his utility belt. “And yourself?”

Nicole’s eyes scanned the men behind Bobo, watching closely for any kind of movement, watching for even the slightest twitch of a finger towards the trigger on the guns they carried.  She wasn’t going to let her guard down around these guys while Eric made small talk with them.

“Oh you know, same, old same old.”

“We stopped by to have a chat with Levi, he around?” Eric questioned, shifting uncomfortable on his feet as Bobo stepped closer to them.

“Sorry, you just missed him.” Bobo smiled in a way that showed how not sorry he really was. “He just up and left town in the middle of the night last night.”

The guys behind Bobo chuckled as if they knew something Nicole and Eric didn’t.

“He happen to mention where he was going?”

Bobo tapped his chin as if he was thinking on it. “Can’t say that he did.”

“Could we take a look around Mr. Levi’s former residents then?” Nicole asked, stepping forward when she realized that Eric doing all the talking wasn’t going to get them anywhere. This Bobo wasn’t going to give them anything unless he absolutely had to.

“Unless you have a warrant.” Bobo flicked her nameplate, leering at her. “ Officer Haught , I’m gonna say no but, I will be happy to give you a private tour of my trailer, starting with the bedroom, if you’d like.”

Nicole’s skin crawled as Bobo’s redneck buddies eyes roamed over her body but she refused to let her disgust, her discomfort show. She wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction.

“Sorry Robert but, you’re not my type.”  

He snapped his teeth at her as he glared, the anger apparent in his eyes. “Right, I forgot that you have a thing for the youngest Earp bitch.”

Nicole’s fist clenched at her side as she gritted her teeth. Nothing angered her more than someone disrespecting Waverly and as much as she wanted to punch this guy out, maybe yell at him to show some respect, she knew she couldn't not without risking her job.

She got away with punching Champ in uniform but she knew she wouldn’t get away with it this time and honestly, she didn’t want some guy like Bobo as an enemy.

He looked back at his buddies with a smirk. “Sweet, little Waverly Earp.” He bit his bottom lip and made a humming sound, his piercing blue grey eyes staring her down when he turned back to her. “Now that’s who’d I love to get into my bedroom.”

Before Nicole could react, Eric gripped her shoulder, pulling her backwards. “Thanks for your time, Mr. Del Rey.”

“Any time Officers!” He called after them. “I do hope to see you around Officer Haught.”

Nicole fought of a shiver. His tone made it sound more like a threat than anything else and Nicole didn’t doubt that the man would follow through with any threat he made.

“What now?” Nicole asked once they were safely back in the car.

“Now we find out where Levi went and what Bobo is hiding.”


Nicole was leaned back in her chair, eyes closed and feet propped up on her desk. It was almost midnight and she still had six hours left till she could go home and crawl in her bed and finally get some sleep.

The bell above the door chimed, signaling that someone had entered, causing Nicole to jerk upright, trying and failing to look like she hadn’t just been about to fall asleep on the job.

“I’m gonna pretend that I didn’t see you fast asleep,” Trent laughed as he made his way around the front desk, thermos in one hand and a tupperware container in the other. “I brought something to help keep you awake.”

“Oh God,” Nicole took the thermos first, untwisting the top and taking a long swig of the almost too hot coffee. “Have I told you lately that you’re my favorite brother?”

Trent shook his head with a smile, rolling another chair over to Nicole’s desk and sitting down. “Seeing as your other brothers are assholes, I figured I was by default.”

“You’re my favorite because you bring me coffee.” She grinned at him before her face turned serious.“And because you've always been there for me, always been on my side.”

“Yeah, yeah, no need to get sappy on me,” Trent opened the tupperware container and handing it over. “Chrissy made tacos for dinner.”

“She’s making you dinner,” Nicole commented, picking up one of the tacos. “Things getting serious between you two?”  

“Waverly makes you dinner, things serious between you?” Trent countered with a smirk. “So was it a date last night? Is that why you’re so tired? She keep you up all night?”

“It wasn’t a date,” Nicole said around a mouth full of taco, hand covering her mouth as she looked anywhere but Trent.

“Oh come on!” He exclaimed, rolling his eyes. “She went through the trouble to make your favorite meal, it was a date Nicky, whether you admit it or not.”

Nicole took another bite of taco to keep from having to say anything, not that it mattered, Trent kept talking.

“She hunted me down just so she could find out what your favorite thing to eat was, she took the time to make it for you, she cares about you, alot.” He stood up, getting ready to leave. Chrissy was waiting in the car and he didn't want to make her wait too long. “Just woman up and ask her out, she’ll say yes.”

With that, he kissed the top of her head and made his way out the station, leaving Nicole to stare after him with a smile. She honestly couldn’t ask for a better brother than Trenten.