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"See?" Waverly whispers with a smile, holding up the edge of her shirt. "I told you it wasn't so bad."

But Nicole isn't looking at her smile. Instead, she's focused on the way Waverly’s thin fingers tremble over the taped white gauze. On the subtle wrinkles of pain and exhaustion at the corners of her soft brown eyes eyes. On the pale color of Waverly's skin... way too pale, in her opinion. The happy pink flush that usually takes up residence on Waverly's round cheeks is completely absent for once.

Pink. That’s Waverly's favorite color. Not the tiny, dried-up red of the bloodstain that has seeped through the middle of her dressing.

"You sure it's not still bleeding?" Nicole asks, scooting her chair closer to Waverly's for a better look. They're sitting in alone in her kitchen, far away from the scene of the crime—a crime that would hardly have seemed believable, if the proof hadn't been sitting right in front of her, streaked across her lover’s side. Sure, Purgatory has always been weird. Things around here definitely aren't safe or normal, but a squad of military-trained assassins? That's even crazier than usual.

And, of course, Waverly had to get caught in the crossfire. Nicole’s angry, and scared, and surprised by how nauseous she feels at the thought of what might have happened. She's supposed to be a cop. Her job means she's supposed to get used to this stuff. But when Waverly is involved, all bets are apparently off.

"Sure," Waverly says, obviously trying to offer some reassurance with her expression, but only succeeding in looking even more drained and tired than before. "Dolls wrapped it up for me. It's just a graze, you know."

"I know," Nicole replies, but she can't put much weight behind the statement. It's only been a short time since their first kiss. A shorter time since their first sexual encounter. And while Nicole usually likes to keep her romantic side a secret, according to her very vivid memories, it felt an awful lot more like making love than just plain sex. Something out of the trashy romance novels she reads in secret.

Which is why this part wasn't supposed to happen. Waverly getting shot. Waverly sitting in her kitchen with bloody bandages and sad, tired eyes, and a fearful quiver about her whole body, like a horse about to start. And even though Nicole’s hurting too, hurting more than she expected from this shock, she knows her own needs aren't so important right now. Waverly doesn't have many people to look out for her. Parents gone, sister busy raising all kinds of hell (the good kind, in Nicole's opinion), short on friends and the ones she had before things got strange were the worst sort of fake.

That's why Waverly came here. Came to see me. This is where she feels safest.

Any other day, the thought would have made her happy. Now, it just fuels her determination. They haven’t been dating long, but she wants to come through for Waverly.

"I want to take a look anyway," she says, her words half a respectful request, half a gentle order. "Please? For my own peace of mind."

"Haven't you taken enough looks at me already?" Waverly says with a weak smile.

Even though the joke falls flat in the heavy atmosphere, almost splattering against the tile beneath their feet, Nicole forces out a laugh. She can't help but admire how plucky Waverly is trying to be, even after taking a bullet to the side. "Never enough looks," Nicole murmurs, gently pulling Waverly's shirt back down over her bare side. "But right now, I'm talking about that bullet hole, not how beautiful you are."

"It isn't a hole," Waverly insists, pouting a little. "It's—"

"Just a graze, I know," Nicole whispers. She strokes Waverly's cheek, surprised by how warm it is despite not being flushed. Then, she tucks a stray piece of light brown hair behind Waverly's ear. "Still. Please?"

Waverly’s smile broadens, an unforced warmth behind it. “You know I can’t say ‘no,’ to you, Nicole. Go ahead.”

“Thank you, baby.” She reaches underneath the hem of Waverly’s shirt and tugs it back up again. Waverly’s arms lift to help, and soon, Nicole is staring once more at the pale skin of her girlfriend’s torso. They agreed on the word only recently, and she likes saying it, or even just thinking it, but it’s not what she’s focused on now. Nicole lets her fingers dance around the edge of the dressing, checking for any puffiness or unnatural heat, but finds nothing unusual. The wound doesn’t seem to be infected. Carefully, she peels away the edge of the dressing, touching as little of Waverly’s skin as possible.

It’s true that it’s not a hole, and it isn’t openly bleeding, but the sight is still enough to make Nicole’s heart catch. She hates seeing that skin marked by the ugly red line that the bullet left behind, hates the thought that this wonderful woman came so close to being taken away from the world. Away from me. I know it’s early with us, but the idea of losing her makes me sick.

She must be zoning out and staring, because the next thing she knows, Waverly’s taking one of her hands and rubbing it reassuringly. “See, not so bad. I’m still in one piece, more or less.”

“You are.” She runs her hands across the sides of Waverly’s stomach, reminding herself that’s true. In spite of everything, the skin beneath her fingertips feels so good. It’s smooth and warm, even more than before. The heat is enough to make Nicole’s own cheeks flush, all the redder when an unexpected whimper comes from Waverly’s throat.

Waverly looks up, a gleam in her eyes, and Nicole has to catch herself before her mind goes straight into the gutter. The feeling of touching Waverly is intoxicating, but this is hardly the right time for those feelings. “Why don’t I change that dressing for you?” she offers, trying to cover for the heat pumping through her veins.

“Thanks,” Waverly says, her own breathing noticeably short. “That’d be nice.”

It’s somewhere between a relief and a torture to get up from Waverly’s side, but Nicole makes herself do it. First, though, she gives her girlfriend an affectionate kiss, enjoying the brief taste of sweetness that her lips afford. As she heads over to the medicine cabinet to get some fresh gauze, she takes a deep breath, trying to settle herself down. Come on, Nicole. Get a grip here. After all, you really don’t want to be the creep putting the moves on a girl who just got shot . You can do this.

Of course, once she gets back to the couch, she realizes that’s not an easy resolution to see through. While she was gone, Waverly had slipped out of her bra, and now Nicole’s confronted with the sight of those perfect, perky breasts sticking out at her.

“Um, hey baby,” she stammers, aware she probably sounds like an idiot, but unable to do anything about it.

“Oh, yeah, that. I thought it would make it easy for you to re-bandage me. I can put it back on if you want...”

“No, that’s okay,” she replies, hoping she doesn’t sound too eager. She covers up some of the awkwardness by heading over to the kitchen sink and scrubbing her hands as thoroughly as she can, making sure to get plenty of soap between her fingers. Once they’re clean and dry, she grabs two fresh paper towels, wetting one of them with soap and warm water. "This might hurt a bit. You ready?"

Waverly nods, and Nicole is pleased to see that some of the color has returned to her face. "Can't hurt more than getting shot, can it?"

"Good point." She returns to her chair, pressing the wet paper towel gently to the edge of Waverly's wound. "Tell me if it’s too hard," she whispers, staring at Waverly's eyes a moment longer than she means to before she remembers that she has a job to do. When Waverly nods, Nicole returns her attention to the graze. It really isn't that bad. No sign of infection, and the little bit of fluid that it's leaking is clear. That last makes Nicole frown, though, especially since the old gauze had shown signs of blood. "When was the last time you changed this?"

"I dunno..." Waverly mumbles, but by the way she averts her eyes, Nicole suspects that she does know, and that the answer isn't a satisfactory one. "Couple hours?"

"You should change it more often." Satisfied that the wound is clean, she sets the first paper towel aside and uses the other one to pat it dry, using light little dabs and watching Waverly's face for any signs of pain. There’s a few winces, but nothing too upsetting.

"You don't have to mother me," Waverly says, a little put out. "I'm used to taking care of myself..."

There's something behind those words, a pain much older than the one in Waverly's side, but Nicole knows this isn't the time to pry. Besides, she already has a pretty good idea of what's going on. She and Waverly haven't exactly had a deep, dark-night-of-the-soul conversation about it, but she's gleaned enough to know that Waverly's family hasn't always been there for her. Waverly’s dropped hints about feeling like the invisible girl, constantly overlooked and ignored. Of course someone with that kind of past would be used to taking care of themselves. She didn't have a choice.

"Don't I know it." With a goodbye kiss to Waverly's wrinkled forehead, Nicole stands and heads over to one of the kitchen cabinets, opening it to grab the first aid kit from the top shelf. It's got some antibiotic ointment, some gloves, some fresh gauze, and some medical tape; everything she needs.. Satisfied, she heads back over to the table and sets the box down, going for the gloves and the tube of ointment first.

"You're weirdly prepared for something like this, aren't you?" Waverly asks, eyebrows arching.

Nicole shrugs. "Not because I'm a cop, believe it or not. This is because I'm a klutz."

"I wouldn't know it from my experience," Waverly teases, her lips curling in a smirk.

"You're lying, Waves. But thanks." She smears some of the ointment over the wound without touching her finger to it, then puts the gauze in place, making sure to press down firmly. "I've patched up a few scrapes before. Nothing serious, but..."

"Well, I'm glad to have you patching up mine."

The look of gratitude in Waverly's soft eyes melts Nicole's heart, and she's struck dumb for a moment, staring at her girlfriend's beautiful smile before she remembers she needs to tape the gauze. She shakes herself, clearing her throat and using the medical tape to secure it in place. "There," she says, examining her work. "Better, huh?"

“Much.” Waverly leans up, giving her a swift peck on the lips. “Thank you, Nicole. For being here, and for taking such good care of me.”

“You’re welcome. For all of it.” Nicole slides down so they can share a longer kiss. There’s definitely heat this time, and it only increases when Waverly’s hands wrap around her head, keeping her close. Her mouth is enough to make Nicole forget everything else, becoming drunk on that singular feeling. She runs her hands along Waverly’s torso, steering clear of the freshly bandaged area, but otherwise enjoying the expanse of smooth skin beneath her fingertips.

A soft whimper slips out of Waverly at the touch, only to be swallowed up by the kiss. It’s a delightful sound, but in spite of the flush of desire it inspires, Nicole hesitates. A part of her worries that it’s silly to be thinking about making love at a time like this, when her girlfriend has just recently been shot. And yet, her heart wants the connection and the reassurance, and it seems as if Waverly may want the same things. She pulls back a couple of inches, though she’s still close enough to feel the heat of Waverly’s body as she asks, “Are you feeling okay? ‘Cause I can stop.”

She can see a little shiver go through Waverly and she hopes that it’s one of anticipation, not pain. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to wait long for her answer, “No, don’t stop,” Waverly whispers. “Just be gentle.”

“Of course.” Nicole runs her fingers along Waverly’s torso until she reaches the swell of her lover’s breasts. She starts gradually, tracing lines along the undersides and then spiraling upward, rewarded by a pleased sigh as she goes. The lovely pink peaks of Waverly’s nipples are already hardening, and Nicole brushes her thumbs over them until the process is complete. Only once they’re rigid little pebbles does she bend lower, taking the right one in her mouth. She swirls her tongue across the bud, and it’s so sensitive that even that first, light touch makes Waverly’s hand clutch at her braid.

“Yes, Nicole,” she gasps. Waverly keeps threatening to come up with a nickname for her, but until that happens, Nicole will just have to settle for the sound of her own name on the her lover’s lips. Quite the hardship .

Encouraged by Waverly’s voice, she starts sucking gently on the nipple in her mouth, enjoying the way that the body underneath her begins to tense. Her fingers play with the other nipple, keeping it stiff until she’s ready to switch sides, lavishing the same care on it in turn. This is no time for haste; Nicole wants to make sure Waverly feels entirely comfortable before she even considers moving on.

Toward the end, she hooks an arm underneath Waverly’s legs, lifting them up onto the couch while she kneels in front of it, the position letting her roam wherever she wants to. Having relinquished the breast in her mouth, she’s free to move on to new spots. The crook of Waverly’s neck, the line of her collarbone, the curve of her jaw: each has its turn to receive a slew of kisses. It’s a slow process, but Nicole knows it’s working by the way that Waverly’s gradually melting into a puddle beneath her. In spite of that relaxation, her hands keep clutching at Nicole’s hair and back, but her grip isn’t firm, making Nicole suspect that she just needs some contact.

She can sympathize. It feels so good to touch Waverly this way, not just for the sensations, lovely though they are, but to remind herself that everything’s all right. Shot doesn’t mean killed, and whatever Nicole felt when she first heard the news, Waverly’s right here with her. Right here with her, and trying to get her to move further downward. Waverly's fingers are tangled in her hair, pulling just enough to get her attention, gently urging Nicole to kiss lower.

Nicole can't resist the wordless plea. Slowly, she begins making her way down Waverly's stomach, always careful to avoid the injury on her side. She kisses everywhere else instead: beneath the heavy curves of Waverly's breasts, down past her sternum, following the ever-so-faint line that bisects her stomach muscles before wandering to her navel. Once she reaches that shallow divot, she lingers there, taking the soft flesh gently between her teeth, not even biting hard enough to leave a mark. Still, it makes Waverly hiss.

"Nicole," she gasps, and the sound of her name sends a thrill racing down Nicole's spine, banishing some of her fear and sadness. "Nicole, please..."

"Of course, baby," she murmurs, flipping open the button of Waverly's jeans and pulling down the zipper. Waverly starts to shimmy out of them, but Nicole stills her with a hand, urging her to keep still. "Shh. I'll take care of it." True to her word, she peels the clinging denim down and off, until she's face to face with Waverly's panties. They're baby blue with a pink ribbon in the middle, and they're so adorable that she can't help but crack a smile. She's always liked Waverly's underwear, even if it does sometimes border on 'cute' instead of sexy. The dark patch in the middle, though, definitely qualifies as sexy.

"Well?" Nicole glances up to see Waverly staring at her expectantly, dark eyes alight with mischief, but also something a little more serious. "Are you gonna kiss it better?"

Nicole laughs. She's tried to put herself in the comforting role lately, since Waverly's obviously going through so much, but despite all that, her girlfriend always knows just how to cheer her up right back. "Oh, I'll kiss it better," she promises, peeling Waverly's underwear away to reveal the precious, wet folds underneath. "And lick, and suck..."

She starts just above Waverly's knee, working her way up slowly, until she has her lover trembling and whimpering above her. Only when Waverly's hips start to rock a little too insistently does Nicole reach the end of her winding trail, draping both of her lover's knees over her shoulders so she can't wriggle around too much. If Waverly starts bucking like a stubborn horse in an effort to get what she wants, she'll only end up aggravating her gunshot wound all over again.

"I know it's hard, but hold still," Nicole whispers, placing a kiss directly over Waverly's pubic bone. The wiry, trimmed hairs tickle her chin, but there's nothing but smoothness below at Waverly's bare, glistening lips. "I promise I'll take care of you. Okay?"

"Okay," Waverly breathes, and her entire body melts in the couch, a clear gesture of submission. Not that Waverly Earp could ever be truly submissive, so Nicole takes the rare moment for the gift it is. Waverly trusts her, and that fills Nicole’s heart with so much joy that she can scarcely hold it all. She lowers her head again and swirls her tongue around the stiff red bud of Waverly's clit, painting patterns over the sensitive tip to coax it out of its hood.

A sharp gasp tells her when she’s gotten it fully exposed, Waverly’s head tipping back as the sound slides out of her throat. It’s beautiful, but then, Nicole thinks most all the noises her girlfriend makes are beautiful. There’s a trickle of wetness running down her chin as well, and she’s eager for a taste, but she’s not willing to abandon Waverly’s clit to get it. Instead, she draws the hard point between her lips, giving it a suckle.

“N—Nicole,” comes the choked reply from above her, and the low ache that’s been pounding between her own legs instantly doubles. She may like all of the sounds Waverly makes, but there’s nothing sweeter than her own name spoken in those breathless tones. Her tongue flicks back and forth across the head of Waverly’s clit, even while she keeps sucking on the shaft. The combination of sensations works as well as she could’ve hoped for. Waverly’s back arches and her legs tighten, the sweet pressure against her head making Nicole purr with delight. She wants nothing more than to give Waverly pleasure, to replace the pain of her wound with as much sweetness as she can give.

Her hands caress the warm expanses of Waverly’s sides before they tighten their grip, holding her flush against Nicole’s mouth. It’s not the easiest task; Waverly’s hips are bucking hard, but she’s happy to make the effort. Nicole has no intention of losing her prize. Not when Waverly’s so close that the muscles of her legs are twitching with building ecstasy, her arousal coating the bottom of Nicole’s face.

Indeed, she decides to try and speed the process up. One of her hands slides down to Waverly’s entrance, pleased to find that the slick muscles there part easily for a pair of her fingers. “You’re so wet for me, Waves,” she murmurs around the clit in her mouth, and whether it’s the words or the vibrations, she’s rewarded with a fresh moan of delight.

Nicole slides in to the second knuckle before pressing upward, caressing the inner walls that are frantically clutching at her in a search for more. A hand shoots down into Nicole’s hair as well, but the tugs are desperate rather than demanding, a plea for her to go faster. She’s more than happy to oblige. Her fingers begin pumping in and out of Waverly, and once she’s got that rhythm going properly, she resumes sucking as well, combining the pleasures into one, overwhelming mixture.

The rest doesn’t take much time at all. Somewhere in that lovely series of moans and screams, Waverly tips the rest of the way over. Her body stills, and then spasms once more, clenching at Nicole’s fingers and squeezing down around her head with impressive force. Nicole can feel the intensity, can tell how badly her lover needs this, and so she brings Waverly through her climax gently. Her fingers slow down but they don’t stop, long strokes and light flicks of her tongue continuing until the cries coming from above her taper off, first to whimpers and then to spent sighs.

Only then does she look up from between Waverly’s legs, using a hand to wipe her chin. She sucks the fingers clean one after another, enjoying the way Waverly’s eyes go wide at the sight. “What can I say, babe? You taste sweet.”

Waverly bites her lip, and her hips give one last twitch, stomach muscles rippling with visible aftershocks. She whimpers, and Nicole can't help but feel proud of herself for coaxing such an intense reaction from Waverly's body with only her words. "Please," Waverly murmurs, casting a pleading gaze down at her and caressing one of her flushed, slightly damp cheeks. "That felt so good. I want to do something for you too."

"You have done something for me," Nicole protests. She wants to explain that being able to touch Waverly, to make her come, had been a gift. She wants to tell her that feeling Waverly's pulse pound under her lips had been a reassurance more powerful than anything a doctor could say. She wants to explain how taking care of Waverly had given her a sense of purpose, a sense of control over a terrible situation. Before, she had been floundering, stranded in the middle of a sea of fear—fear for Waverly's safety, and fear that their new, blossoming relationship would go horribly wrong, like so many other things have in this weird little town.

But as she looks up at Waverly's face and sees the hope shining there, she can’t say no. Waverly probably wants the reassurance just as much as I do. If this is what it takes to give it to her, to let her know everything will be okay as long as she's with me...

"But I'm sure we can work something else out if you want," Nicole adds. She places her hand over Waverly's, holding it tighter against her cheek for a moment before climbing up along her lover's body. "This is gonna sound crude no matter how I put it, but how would you feel about me sitting on your face? That way, I won't be anywhere near your chest, and you don't even have to move."

Waverly laughs, a light and lovely sound that—thankfully—isn't disrupted by any painful winces. "You don't have to explain, Nicole. You had me at 'sit on your face'." Her eyes flash dark, and her soft pink tongue peeks out to run over her lower lip. "C'mere, cowgirl. Why don't you mount up?"

"Sweet mercy, don't talk like that," Nicole mumbles, even though she doesn’t really mind. The silliness between them somehow adds to the moment's charm. "You know I'm from the city."

"Doesn't matter," Waverly says. "Even city girls should know how to ride."

"Oh, I know how to ride," Nicole insists. She rises to her knees, fumbling with the button and zipper to her pants before shucking them off, trying to disturb Waverly's position on the couch as little as possible. "The question is, do you think you can handle it?" she asks, trying to sound teasing as she peels off her underwear and tosses it aside as well.

"Officer Haught..." Waverly runs a palm across the newly-bared flesh of her thigh, urging her to scoot up. "I think I know exactly how to handle you."

Nicole can’t think of any more reasons to say no. Still doing her best to be careful, she shifts forward until her pelvis is aligned with Waverly's face. The couch is narrow, and she has to hold onto the back for support, but there’s just enough room left for her to settle in. The eager expression that crosses Waverly's face as those gorgeous brown eyes fix between her legs further convince her that she’s made the right choice. The look is positively ravenous, and Nicole can’t help but respond to her lover's obvious hunger by tilting her hips downward.

Waverly doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of their increased proximity. She licks her lips once and then her tongue darts out, passing over the inside of Nicole’s thigh. Even that little bit of contact is enough to make Nicole swallow hard. Her heart might have been okay going without any reciprocation, but it’s clear that her body has other thoughts. There’s been something special about Waverly since the very first day Nicole saw her behind the bar at Shorty’s, and no one’s ever heated her up quite so easily.

Waverly’s hand hooks around Nicole’s rear end, and a playful squeeze draws out an undignified squeak. Her laugh, though, swiftly turns to a groan when Waverly’s mouth resumes its journey upward. After what feels like a torturous eternity, but is surely only a few seconds, it reaches the top of her inner thigh. Every inch of skin that Waverly can reach is being lavished with attention, making Nicole forget all about her reservations. This is just so good, and more than that, so right. The way that it should be. No weirdness, no gunshots, just them.

“Now who’s making someone nice and wet?” Waverly teases, her breath hot on Nicole’s sex.

Her mouth is close, so close, and yet not quite giving Nicole what she needs. All thoughts of dignity forgotten, she can’t help but gasp, “You are, Waves. Now, please .”

“Mm, that’s what I thought.”

Waverly’s head tilts another precious half-inch, finally closing the last of the distance. Her tongue pushes up, exploring Nicole’s soaked folds before settling at her entrance. The wet tip slides past the ring of muscle there, and Nicole’s fingers dig deep into the couch cushion, her grip only tightening as Waverly’s tongue works its way further inside. She knows she’s supposed to be riding Waverly’s face, but right now the best her hips can manage are a series of uneven, jerky motions.

Waverly doesn’t seem to object. Whatever she lacks in experience, she more than makes up for with enthusiasm, eating her out with impressive gusto. “‘S good, babe,” Nicole whimpers as she plays with the silken strands between her fingers. “So good.”

Waverly doesn’t respond with words, but her appreciation is still clear. She only makes a few more strokes with her tongue before pulling out, but she doesn’t leave Nicole without stimulation for long. One of her hands spreads apart Nicole’s folds and then soft, wet pressure surrounds her clit. This time, Nicole can’t say anything. All she can manage is a long, low moan.

The first few strokes are slow, offering a chance for Nicole’s hips to settle into a steady, circular motion. Waverly’s a natural at this part, building up the pleasure she’s providing slowly but surely. With the hand she’s not using to hang on for dear life, Nicole strokes her lover’s hair, trying to offer reassurance for as long as she can keep a coherent thought in her head.

Not that that’s going to be the case much longer. Waverly’s tongue feels too damn good for her to last, touching all the right spots with steadily increasing pressure. Nicole’s worried her enthusiasm might be making her grind too hard, but Waverly’s hands are locked onto her ass, assuring her otherwise. She’s practically pulling Nicole onto her face, clearly hungry for her pleasure.

It's that hunger that pushes Nicole past the point of no return. Waverly's mouth is relentless, drawing her deep, sealing her in soft heat and swiping across her sensitive bud. The silky scrape of her tongue causes a shower of sparks to flash before Nicole's eyes, and the next thing she knows, she's free-falling. Every muscle in her body strains, quivering as all the coiled-up tension inside her snaps and the pressure pounding between her legs spills free.

She's a little embarrassed by the rhythmic pulses of wetness that gush over Waverly's chin to stain her cheeks, but not embarrassed enough to stop. She needs this, and judging by the proud light in her girlfriend’s eyes, Waverly needs it too. So Nicole keeps rocking her hips, letting the ripples course through her instead of trying to tame them, riding the swells as best she can, and crying out as they finally crest.

Of course, Waverly doesn't simply let her finish. She pulls harder and licks faster, sucking and swirling eagerly. The efforts to extend her orgasm leave Nicole breathless, and it's a long time before she finally slumps over, clutching at the armrest behind Waverly's head to keep her balance and trembling with a mixture of exhaustion and delight. "I...I thought I was supposed to be kissing you better," Nicole gasps, attempting to lift her hips so Waverly will have room to breathe.

Waverly, though, is having none of it. Greedy hands wrap around the tops of Nicole's thighs, dragging her back down, and the soft, smooth dart of Waverly's tongue swipes between her lips a few more times, cleaning up what remains of the mess. Only when she's satisfied does Waverly pull away, smirking up at her with that mixture of confidence and shy sweetness that Nicole has quickly learned to love.

"Oh, but I do feel much better," she drawls, licking her lips one last time. "Maybe we should market this treatment as a miracle cure?"

"Maybe," Nicole laughs, brushing aside a strand of Waverly's hair that has caught against her cheek. "But we might need to test it out a few more times. Y'know, just to make sure it heals you up right."

"More bedside attention?" Waverly sighs, flopping further back against the couch and gazing happily up at the ceiling. "I definitely think I could get on board with that treatment plan.”