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here in my deep purple dream

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Nicole forgot all about it for a while, but the night before the party, they went to bed blissfully unaware of what was coming. Whispering on the phone like teenagers, both under their own respective blankets, sloppy with tiredness, and a little giddy.

Wanna play a game?”, Waverly asked under her breath, a sleepy smile in her voice.  

“Is it a sexy game?”, Nicole asked back (also much like a teenager). Her eyes were tracking her own bedroom, but in her mind, she was picturing Waverly on the other end of the line. Maybe her hair was spread out loosely on the pillow. Maybe there was this glint in her eye.  

When she laughed, it came through the speaker like a small hurricane of static. “It can be. Maybe.

“What’s the game?”

It’s like twenty questions, only there’s no limit, no yes/no rule, and the subject is you.

Nicole laughed, rolling onto her side. “Wave,” she chided mildly, eyes sliding shut.

What?

“That’s not a game. That’s just you asking me things about myself and I have to answer.”

Even she could hear how stupidly affectionate she sounded, but at that point, it was all she could do not to get into her car and drive over to the homestead right this second (to where Waverly was maybe curling her hair around one finger), so stupidly affectionate had to do.

Waverly sounded softer, then. “Well, yeah. I like knowing things.”

This much Nicole had always known about her, and so she agreed to play the game.

They’d fallen asleep without hanging up, and Nicole forgot about the game, what with the unfortunate series of events that unspooled the days after.

But the bruises on Nicole’s chest have yellowed and faded out almost completely by now, and as it turns out, Waverly did not forget. Despite the marks on her wrists, she can think of all kinds of questions in all kinds of situations: while making out, in the middle of a movie, sometimes Nicole wakes up to a four am text.

“Twenty questions! What’s your favorite song?”, is the first thing she says today as she plops into the passenger seat, pulls off her blue scarf and throws it onto the dashboard of the cruiser. The snow is slowly melting away, and the sun is low and blinding in Nicole’s dirty windshield.

“Don’t have one.”

Waverly makes a disapproving noise. “Ugh. You’re such a liar.”

“Am not”, Nicole protests, starting the car. “I really don’t have favorite songs anymore.”

Waverly throws her that side-eye glance, the one that makes Nicole’s insides tingle. “Anymore?”

“I think the last time I had a favorite song was when I was – sixteen? Seventeen?”

She checks the mirrors, indicates left.

“So what was seventeen year old Nicole’s belt-out-in-the-car, hum-along-in-the-supermarket, absolute favorite song?”

Yeah, Nicole navigated herself into this beautifully. Her scalp burns and itches, which is how she knows she’s blushing hard; she leans forward and checks the (completely empty) other lane thoroughly before turning.

She mumbles the answer.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

Nicole clears her throat. “Hey There Delilah.”

Waverly gasps like this is the best thing she has ever heard in her life – like it’s the most delightful piece of information she has ever uncovered, extracted from the depths of Nicole’s memory rather than the stuffy backrooms of a dust-layered bookstore.

A feeling sits in Nicole’s lungs, and she inhales deeply.

 

*

Nicole leaves the station early on a Thursday morning, pulling on her jacket against the chill. The sky is just starting to brighten; it’s still very cold. She’ll turn up the heat in the car, and in twenty minutes she’ll be—

 “Not so fast there, Haught stuff,” Wynonna says from where she’s leaning against the wall right beside her. She’s texting someone, her face illuminated by the glow of her phone.

Nicole almost jumps out of her skin. Exasperated, she catches her breath. “Fucking Christ, Earp, has no one ever told you not to startle people who carry a gun?”

A shrug. “What can I say, I’m crazy. Ask anyone.” With one last look at the screen, Wynonna puts her phone away, and announces: “We’re having breakfast.”

“I don’t know who ‘we’ is, but have fun, because I am going to bed.”

Wynonna approaches her, lightly punches her shoulder, takes her by the elbow. “Come on, I’m paying. I need your help with this case.”

Nicole lets her head drop backwards as she’s being dragged off by her elbow. “Unless there’s coffee I’m not helping with shit.”

“If I throw in pancakes will you also not be a dick about it?”

“No promises.”

 

Later, when she has answered Wynonna’s basic questions about her report, Nicole watches Wynonna drown her bacon in maple syrup – gross – and knows what’s coming next.

“Let’s hear it, then,” she says, leaning back in the booth as she turns her mug of coffee (half-decaf, with a finger of milk; she doesn’t like to feel jittery) in her fingers to warm them. They’re always cold when she’s tired and nervous. On her first day at the station, Nedley had given her a strange look and turned up the thermostat after shaking her hand.

Wynonna has known for quite a while now, but between haggling with Black Badge, conducting an exorcism, and dealing with the aftermath of everything that happened, there hasn’t exactly been time for a serious conversation about relationships.

Wynonna doesn’t look up, mouth full. “Hear what?”

“Isn’t this where you tell me that if I hurt Waverly, no one will ever find my bullet-riddled body?”

At that, Wynonna’s chewing slows, and she shrugs, reaching for her own coffee (black).

“I don’t know, Haught. By now it seems to me like you should have a firm handle on how I feel about people who hurt my sister. Plus,” she adds as an afterthought, “if you hurt Waverly, I wouldn’t wanna be in your shoes, anyway.”

Nicole purses her lips, nodding slightly because – fair point.

“I also wouldn’t wanna be in my shoes if Waverly found out I threatened her girlfriend,” Wynonna mutters into her mug with an eye roll, and Nicole can’t help but laugh.

After a long moment, in which she still finds herself waiting for the other shoe to drop, Wynonna gives her a confused look and points to Nicole’s plate with her knife.

“Aren’t you gonna finish your fruity disappointment of a breakfast?”

Nicole lowers her gaze quickly, and then looks up again to protest: “It’s whole-wheat apple pancakes, Wynonna. They’re delicious and high in fiber.”

“Look, all I’m saying is, the uber healthy breakfast option looks pretty sad and boring from over here.”

This is uber healthy to you? You can’t be serious.”

“What, are you gonna call the nutrition police on me?”

“Well, I am the police—“

Maybe she says it a little too smugly, because Wynonna kicks her under the table – Nicole kicks back and steals a piece of bacon uncontaminated by syrup off her plate.

The warmth slowly returns to her fingers, and the shovel talk never comes.

“We should make this a thing,” Wynonna suggests casually as they make their way back through the puddles of melting snow in the parking lot.

Nicole lets her body bump into Wynonna’s shoulder in response.

 

*

 

“Twenty questions: least favorite dish.”

“Chicory.”

“’kay, gonna have to change your mind about that one.”

“If you’re making me eat chicory, I get to ask questions, too.”

 “Be my guest, officer.”, Waverly teases, without looking up from the bright-blue beanie she is crocheting.

“Hmm. Dream vacation?”

“Depends. Are you coming with?”

“If I say yes, you’re gonna say something that involves me wearing a bikini, aren’t you.”

A laugh. “You wound me, Nicole, and frankly, I’m offended. Don’t you know me at all? If you say yes, I’m gonna say something that involves you wearing nothing but that hat of yours.” 

“I hate you.”

“No you don’t.”

“No,” Nicole agrees, her heart in her throat. “I don’t.”

She doesn’t ask her next question.

 

(All jokes about bikinis and hats aside: the first time they sleep together, it’s just their naked bodies flush together. Skin on skin, gripping each other so tight they have to gasp for air; Nicole shivers when Waverly bites down on her collar bone.
The valleys of their chests pressed together create a vacuum, making a smacking noise, and the space between their panting mouths fills with quiet laughter for a moment; it’s that easy.
They kiss, deep.
Waverly comes with her forehead mashed against Nicole’s neck and her fingers digging into her shoulders, and Nicole feels like she is holding on to the sun. Holding on to the sun, with none of the pain.)

*

 

Dolls insists that every member of the Black Badge Division now has to partake in the BBD self-defense training as supervised by Dolls himself. Nicole goes for a run five days out of seven, so she figures she’ll do fine. Instead, Dolls has her patting the mat in defeat after twelve seconds, which is not a surprise; Wynonna takes thirty seconds, which is. The woman lives off whiskey and donuts, for God’s sake.  

When Nicole mentions this, disbelieving, Wynonna fingerguns at her: “Earp curse perks! Gotta love ‘em. The demons are a bit of a drawback, but eh.” She shrugs. “Kicking all of your asses is totally worth it.” Behind her, Waverly rubs at the back of her neck.

Nicole’s next match takes a little longer. “One twenty-seven,” Dolls declares, looking up from his stopwatch. “Not bad, Haught.”

Sweaty and exasperated, Nicole gets to her feet. Doc takes another moment to grumble something unintelligible into his mustache before he rolls over as well.

“That was only easy because he’s squeamish about accidentally groping me,” Nicole mutters and takes the bottle of water that Waverly is offering her. Doc is rubbing his solar plexus where Nicole punched him. “A mistake I will not be making again.”

“Well then!” Waverly claps her hands together excitedly. “You ready, babe?”

Now. It’s not like Nicole doesn’t think Waverly is capable, but she’s also very bookish, and kind of pint-sized. “Sure,” she says, a little hesitant. “Let’s do this.”

They face each other; Waverly’s wearing an olive green tank top and a look of determination on her face that is unreasonably attractive. With her hair hanging in a messy braid over her shoulder, she bends forward into a fighting stance.

Waverly smiles, Nicole smiles back automatically. And then she is lying on her back with her own knee practically at her throat.

“Unfair,” she croaks, slapping the ground. Behind her, Wynonna is gaping. “You distracted me. I want to go again!”

Waverly and Dolls exchange a look. “All right, fine.” She lets Nicole get up, and sinks back into her stance. Nicole shakes herself, clearing her head.

“Go,” Dolls says, and this time, Nicole attacks first, but Waverly is fast, and before she knows what’s happening, there’s something happening at her ankle, she trips, and then Waverly is sitting on her back.

Nicole raps her knuckles against the floor. As soon as she’s being released, she flops onto her back and gulps for air. “How,” she pants out.

Waverly’s face comes into view, eyes pitiful. “Baby, I’ve been waitressing in a biker bar for five years; where do you think I got these?” She flexes the muscles in her arms. “Carrying beer mugs and breaking up bar fights is where the real training happens, I’m telling you.” She winks in a way that suggests that this is only half of the truth. When she holds her gaze, Nicole remembers what Waverly told her about the plans she had for breaking the curse without Wynonna. Something shifts in the back of her mind, but Nicole loses track of it when Wynonna teases her: “You gotta work out more, dude.”

She holds out a hand. Nicole takes it and yanks.

 

*

 

The door is shoved open so forcefully that it bangs against the wall, and Nicole knows immediately who just entered the station.

“…serious about this. And I can’t believe that I am saying this to you, but goddamn it, Waverly, just be reasonable!”

Wynonna slaps her palm on the front desk, making Nicole jump. She looks away from her paperwork and up at the wind-swept Earp sisters. “Hey to you, too. What are we talking about?”

The two of them have their arms on the desk now, but neither stop their staring match long enough to spare Nicole a glance. Waverly’s voice is tight and clipped. “Rapunzel’s keeper over here wants me confined to the homestead.”

What?

“Okay, that is not what I—” Wynonna breaks off and half-turns away, exasperated.

“She said I can’t sleep over at your place anymore, because apparently, I now have a curfew.” Waverly informs Nicole, finally tearing her gaze away from her sister. As much she appreciates that someone is finally filling her in on what they’re arguing about, Nicole tenses.

“Well excuse the shit out of me if I don’t want to have to perform another exorcism on my baby sister!” Uselessly, Wynonna whispers the word exorcism in some semblance of discretion, and Waverly flinches, just a beat later. Wynonna breathes hard into her fist in an attempt to regain her composure. “Look, it’s not like I’m saying this to be a bitch, but the revenants can’t get to the homestead and it’s safe there! Nicole, back me up on this.” She says this without turning to look at Nicole, so certain that agreement is coming.

And there it is. Nicole licks her lips nervously, and her hesitation turns the Earp sister’s attention on her like a giant intense flood light.

Wynonna is raising her eyebrows.

Waverly just looks at her flatly – Nicole has no idea how someone wearing cupcake earrings can put the fear of God in her without so much as narrowing her eyes. She should probably be more worried about the overprotective sister with the demon-killing gun, and yet…

“I think that, uh. I think the homestead is the safest place we know, and I definitely want you to be safe, Wave…” She turns to Wynonna with what she hopes is an apologetic expression on her face, “but Waverly is in charge of her own life and can make her own decisions, so I’m staying out of this.”

Throwing up her hands, Wynonna ignores Nicole’s pleading looks and leaves in a huff.

Thank you,” Waverly says loudly at her retreating back, before turning back to Nicole. “Don’t mind her, she’s just cranky.”

“Yeah, I’m sure seeing you posessed by a demon has nothing to do with it,” Nicole murmurs, but Waverly ignores this.

“Brought you a coffee,” she changes the topic, her tone softer now and a little shy, sliding a paper cup over the table. “I’ll see you later, babe.”

With that and a kiss that lands somewhere on Nicole’s cheek, she follows her sister to the office. Nicole looks after her, thoughtful.

 

*

 

I like knowing things, Waverly told her, and Nicole can relate. For Waverly, the fun lies in asking the right questions, looking in the right place, digging in the right spot. It’s the thrill of the chase, even if pouring over musty old books for hours doesn’t look like much of a chase to Nicole.

For her, it’s different. Nicole likes to take things apart with a screwdriver, to listen to everything a person doesn’t say, to look and really see. Waverly likes the feeling of her finger trailing over a map; Nicole likes to follow the path and see where it leads.

But sometimes, what she sees doesn’t add up to a conclusive picture, and then she really just wants a straight answer.

Tonight, the pauses Waverly leaves on the phone grow longer, and even when she laughs, her voice is deeper, weighed down.

I’m sorry for this morning”, she’s saying now, and Nicole would pay good money if she could just see her face, because it’s difficult to tell how she’s doing when the set of her jaw isn’t giving her away. “Are you and your sister okay?” she asks.

Waverly sighs on the other end. “Wynonna and I are fine.

Nicole bites down on her lip and closes her eyes. “Twenty questions. Something is going on with you two. Something you don’t want to talk about.”

From the other end comes a sound that Nicole hopes to god is a laugh and not a sob, and Waverly says: “That’s not a question.”

It means yes.

 

*

 

While she was lying on the dirty linoleum of the police station, struggling out of her vest and into a sitting position, it occurred to Nicole that maybe her priorities aren’t necessarily in the conventional order.

Because between finding herself always one step short of knowing the truth and getting shot by her girlfriend’s evil sister during a poison catastrophe while the town is threatening to be overrun by demon revenants, she would still choose the truth.  

“Aren’t you scared?,” Waverly asked her later, face wet with tears and almost angry. Nicole – who at this point had assisted the exchange of an actual witch for the reinstating of Agent Dolls and helped conduct a freaking exorcism on her girlfriend – didn’t know anything beyond Waverly being Waverly again.

She pulled her in close, breathing in her hair. “I’m a cop, remember?” she told her, because she is, and because all the things swirling around in her mind just then refused to settle into tangible, formulated thoughts.

The truth is, in the deep of the night, Nicole is terrified. How couldn’t she be? All the ways she’s been preparing for danger are too small now, and all the people she cares about in this town live in a place that is less of a line and more of a plain of fire.

The first night after they got Waverly back, she didn’t sleep a wink, just sat on the Earp couch with her girlfriend’s head in her lap. Unable to stop touching her, braiding her long hair into a plait then undoing it and starting over, again and again, while Waverly twitched and winced in her sleep. From the porch, Wynonna’s and Doc’s hushed and agitated voices had come in, the clanking of rings on a bottle.

Of course Nicole is scared. She just doesn’t think that not knowing what she’s scared of would help in any way; a false sense of security as useful as a chocolate badge.

She can accept that sleeping with her gun on the nightstand and a deadbolt on the door doesn’t offer as much in the way of security as she thought, but that doesn’t mean she can’t deal with the problem some other way. She is a cop, after all.

And so she buys a pickaxe and drives out to where the bedrock peeks out from under the Earp land.  

 

*

 

Bonk.

Bonk.

Bonk.

Nicole has been working for more than half an hour by the time the familiar sound of a car door and Wynonna’s voice waft over to her.

“You know you’re trespassing, right?”, she yells over the wind and the slow but steady rhythm of Nicole’s pickaxe.

“I’m—“ Bonk. “—just—“ Bonk. “—visiting.” Bonk. “Stand—“ Bonk. “—back.”

Wynonna sounds closer now. “Dude, are you trying to… destroy the bedrock? Have you gone over to the dark side or something?”

Bonk. Dropping the pickaxe, Nicole steps back and pulls the protective mask from her face. The cold air is refreshing on her sweaty skin; she wipes her forehead on the shoulder of her jacket.

Wynonna is standing at a safe distance, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. She’s wearing her misanthropist face: pale, tired, looking forward to a drink.

Nicole decides not to comment on it. Instead, she gestures towards the uneven chunks of ammolite that she managed to pry from the frozen ground, still a little out of breath. “I figured you probably don’t need all of it. I decided to borrow some. For my apartment.”

For a long moment, Wynonna doesn’t react at all. Then she looks away into the distance, snuffling and with her face scrunched up.

“Well,” she says gruffly when she looks back, clearing her throat, “when you’re done, I brought enough take-out for a whole football team.”

Nicole smiles. Wynonna rolls her eyes and smiles back; genuine, but with a twist.

 

*

 

If asked, people in town would describe Waverly as sweet, and kind, and cheerful – and she is. Nicole loves that about her, obviously. But there’s something to be said for this Waverly, the one who snarls: “You are doing this on purpose, Haught,” and backs her into a supply closet.

The one who shoves her against the wall, presses up against her a second later; the one who yanks her belt from her hips with such fervor that Nicole can feel the friction heat through the fabric of her pants, buckle clanking against the floor.

“Doing what on purpose, babe?” she asks, breathlessly belated, between kisses.

“Your whole hot cop routine with the— new uniform and the shop talk and—“, she’s struggling for words, surging up to kiss Nicole again. “—the haircut, you’re doing this on purpose—“

She’s not – but Nicole is not about to protest when Waverly’s leg is sliding up her own; automatic, she catches it. She flips them around while Waverly pulls herself up until she’s got her ankles hooked behind Nicole’s back, tight and strong. As Waverly runs one hand through Nicole’s freshly cut hair and the other over her exposed bicep, she makes a tiny noise so undeniably turned on that Nicole has to lean them both against the wall for a second, her knees are weak.

There is a corner of her mind that is still aware enough of their surroundings to reach back and flip the lock, but then Waverly’s cool fingers slip under the collar of her new shirt, and she forgets to care about anything else.

 

*

 

“Hey, Earp.”

Wynonna doesn’t look up. “Haught.”

“It’s pretty late,” Nicole says carefully.

“Yep.”

“You gonna tell me what you’re still doing here? And on the floor?”

“Nope.”

Nicole nods slowly. “Right. Mind if I sit?”

Wynonna shakes her head the way people do when they don’t trust themselves to speak. Nicole slides down the wall to the floor next to her, and together they look out on the hallway. A neon tube flickers audibly every few seconds. Wynonna leans her head against Nicole almost imperceptibly.

Careful not to move, she lets her.

They sit like this forever, until the stale, artificial light makes everything feel insubstantial. Nicole thinks that if they weren’t in this strange little pocket of reality together, Wynonna wouldn’t be crying into her shoulder, and she wouldn’t be whispering “It’s all wrong, Nicole. I’m all wrong” like she isn’t really talking to her at all.

 

*

 

“Your task was to get information and not to engage the suspects under any circumstances—”

“With all due respect, I saw a chance of getting Malcolm’s ledger and I figured—“

“—that you should disobey a direct order?”

“Now, now, Dolls. Officer Haught did get us invaluable information, namely the famed ledger itself.” Doc mumbles from Nicole’s side, where he is rumbling around in the station’s first aid kit.

“That is not—“

A door bangs against the wall further down the floor, and Nicole knows what’s coming even before she can make out distinct voices.

“You’re right,” she gives in hastily, “what I did was practically insubordination, and completely out of line, I apologize—”

Very slowly, Dolls turns his head from the direction of the noise and back to her. “You know what, Officer Haught? Doc here is right. You did get us that ledger. I think we can let it slide this one time. We should give you some time to rest.”

Nicole is about to open her mouth in protest when Waverly barges into the room (Nicole jumps up from where she’s perched on a desk), and Wynonna is making apologetic faces from behind her.

“Boys”, the 21 year old in a butterfly print dress addresses a 6’2” Deputy Marshal made of muscle and a 166 year old gunslinger, “would you excuse us for a moment.”

They go without objection, and with no regard for Nicole’s imploring glances whatsoever. Wynonna, at least, mouths sorry before she closes the door behind all of them.

Her eyes fixed on Nicole, Waverly crosses her arms in front of her chest and lifts her chin.

Nicole sinks back down onto the desk. “Hey, Wave.”

“Just going to get some information, Waverly! No need to worry, Waverly! I’ll be careful, Waverly!”

Nicole winces. “And I was, but we really need that ledger, and I almost managed to get it without any further problems—“

“Shot!” Waverly dramatically points her finger to where Nicole is pressing gauze to her upper arm. “You were shot, Nicole! Again!”

“I was grazed,” Nicole amends. “And whatever Doc did kind of hurts, plus Dolls already yelled at me for forty minutes, so can we maybe just say I got what I had coming and leave it at that?”

With a sigh, Waverly crosses the room and drops her bag next to her. Her perfume smells like strawberries. “I know for a fact that you’d do it again, so no. Let me see this.”

She shoves Nicole’s hand away and begins dressing the wound gruffly.

“You know, I remember a time when you found my heroism sexy,” Nicole reminds her softly.

“Yeah, well, that was before Wynonna greeted me with the words ‘so your girlfriend is almost completely fine’.”

For a little while, they remain silent as Waverly meticulously applies the bandage and Nicole watches her. Then, so quietly that she almost doesn’t hear it properly: “You’re sexiest when you’re whole.”

It lands in a very soft spot of Nicole’s heart, and without thinking about it, she answers: “You know, I wish you’d let me help you, too.”

Waverly’s fingers still, warm against her skin. “You do help me, Nicole. Don’t you know that?”

Behind the glass of the door, someone walks past the office. It would be easy to let it go, but Nicole is in for a penny. She swallows.

“I know there’s something you’re not telling me. I wouldn’t ask if it was just my curiosity, but I can tell that it’s weighing on you, Wave. I just want to be here for you, because I…”

She loses her voice on the last bit, or maybe it’s her courage. The air is crackling enough as it is, thick and heavy with tension and whatever it is that Waverly is about to say. For at least half a minute, it’s so quiet that Nicole can hear the ticking of Waverly’s wristwatch.  

“I’m not really an Earp.”

With a feeling like her heart is dropping, Nicole turns to her.

“Bobo suggested that Ward wasn’t really my father, and I took a test.”

Waverly is looking away so hard that the tendons in her neck stand out, and she’s very determined not to blink, but her eyes spill over anyway. When she throws her an embarrassed half-smile, Nicole catches the hand furiously wiping at her tears between her own, and presses a kiss to Waverly’s palm.

 

*

 

“Miss Haught.” Doc pulls his hat down at her in greeting.

From her spot on the balustrade of the Earp porch, Nicole rolls her eyes. “Mr. Holliday.”

He stares at her with a pained expression, and she raises her eyebrows until the corners of his eyes crinkle. “Well, all right then. Care for a drink?”

He gestures with the two empty glasses he’s holding in one hand. With the sun getting ready to set, Nicole feels a little chilly. A little warmth wouldn’t hurt. She zips her hoodie all the way up. “Sure.”

It’s not summer yet, but the evenings are slower to turn to nights, and the sky comes in soft pastel shades of blue and orange.  

Doc fills up their glasses. Together, they look out over the hills, to the two figures sitting in the grass that must be getting damp. Even from a distance, Nicole can tell that Waverly’s posture is tense.

“Those two talk it out yet?”

Nicole pulls up her shoulders. “It’s been two hours.”

 “Well, they do have a lot to talk about. Wynonna is always scared of being made to leave, and Waverly always fears that she will be left behind. It’s about time that Wyatt’s great-great-granddaughters had a little chat.”

The words Wyatt’s great-great-granddaughters hang in the air uncomfortably, and Nicole isn’t sure if he’s right about his assessment of the two. But Doc’s usual drawl is quiet and warm, and she is suddenly glad that he’s there to wait with her.

 

*

 

“Do not fire this weapon without my specific order under any circumstances—“

“Yes, definitely don’t go off half-cocked with this baby.”

“Earp, take this seriously.”

“Yes sir. I am shooting for absolute professionalism here.”

“Earp.”

“Sorry, you’re right. I should absolutely just bite the bullet and let you blather on about this.”

“Are you done?”

She considers this for a moment, face scrunched up.

“Well, shoot, Wynonna, looks like you can’t think of anything else!”, Waverly supplies, and they high-five.

Dolls pinches the bridge of his nose, and Nicole feels something slide off her chest, dissipate, and leave her breathing a little easier.

 

 

*

 

It’s fine. Everything is fine. Especially Nicole. She is absolutely all right, she is extra fine.

So Waverly showed up to work wearing a pantsuit. (Calling it a pantsuit seems like the understatement of the year, but whatever.)

That’s… fine. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s just clothes. She’s seen Waverly wearing clothes before. She knows Waverly is attractive, that is not news. She can handle attractive. It’s fine. And it’s not like she did it specifically to torture Nicole.

Besides, she tells herself with her eyes glued to the form that she’s absolutely not filling out, maybe it’s not as bad as it seemed a minute ago.

She risks a glance.

Yeah, okay, so she was wrong; Waverly is definitely doing this specifically to torture her and nothing is fine.

She is already looking at her from where she’s sitting with her feet propped up on a desk, stirring in her paper cup. Without breaking eye contact, she takes out the little white plastic thing – she wouldn’t – and sticks it into her mouth, one eyebrow arched. Nicole feverishly thinks that this should not even be working on her, and yet here she is, helplessly watching that damned stirrer sliding over Waverly’s lips—

“Haught! The phone!”

Nicole winces so hard she almost falls off her office chair, frantically grasping for the phone.

“Hello?,” she squeaks into the speaker, and then, in what she hopes is a more professional tone: “I mean, Purgatory Sheriff Station, you’re speaking to Officer Haught?”

When she finally makes it through the conversation, her smartphone buzzes on the desk.

Waverly Earp <3 9:36 am. you alright there, officer haught?

She shoots a hot glance over the counter to where Waverly is smirking smugly.

 

*

 

“You should just move in with us,” Wynonna says, completely out of the blue. Before Nicole has a chance to process this, she continues: “I mean, we were thinking about getting a dog, but this is kind of the same thing, right?”

Nicole shoves her into a dumpster, ears pink.

 

*

 

Cursing about her stubbed toe and dismayed at being awake at this hour, Nicole staggers to the door. It’s the middle of the night, and Nicole swears, if whoever is banging on her door isn’t at least on fucking fire, she’s shutting the door in their sorry face—

She fumbles with the keys, and the deadbolt finally slides back. When she swings the door open, her heart starts racing with worry.

“Wave? What happened, is everything—“

“Everything is fine. Can I come in?” Her face is hard and smooth like marble in the yellow light of the floor lamp, the way it gets when she’s being stern and serious. When Nicole steps back, she breezes into the apartment buzzing with nervous energy, her hand clutching the strap of her purse. Something in Nicole’s chest expands.

“Waverly, what—“, Nicole tries again, but Waverly holds up her hand. For a moment, Nicole wonders if she’s dreaming this; two in the morning and Waverly is standing on the laminate of her living room, in flip flops and with pajama pants peeking out from under the rim of her coat. The only light is coming from the street lamps outside.

“I know you heard me.”

Nicole blinks. “Heard you?”

“At the station, with Willa. I know you heard what I said.”

Staring at Waverly’s face, still stone-like and unreadable, Nicole is abruptly and completely awake. They’re having this conversation.

“And I know you’re trying to be… courteous about it, giving me space, in case I just said it to save your life, or maybe you just don’t feel the same way, I don’t know. But I’m tired of tiptoeing around this, because I did mean it, even if it was early, and I still do.”

Nicole’s heart stops. She has no idea for how long the silence stretches out around them, it could be a second or five full minutes, before Waverly, running out of steam, adds: “What I’m trying to say here is I love you, Nicole.” Her eyes are shining, wide open.

The distance between them is suddenly gone, and there’s a heavy clank when Waverly’s purse falls to the floor. She smells like the fancy moisturizer she uses, like spearmint toothpaste and a little bit like alcohol, and she fits into Nicole’s arms perfectly. She hugs her tighter.

“A-and I just wanted to say this, it’s all right if you’re not—If you don’t—”, Waverly says right by Nicole’s ear, and then stops when she feels Nicole’s quiet laughter vibrate against her.

“But I do”, Nicole whispers, breathless and lightheaded, “Waverly, of course I love you.”

Waverly clings to her in response, to her shoulders and the back of her neck. She struggles to kick off her shoes without letting go for a second, and then Nicole lifts her off the ground, Waverly’s legs go around her waist.

With Waverly still in her coat, Nicole walks them back to bed, staggering only a little bit.

 

*

 

“Hey, are you asleep?”

“Mhno.”

“Would you mind… saying it again?”

Nicole rolls onto her back and pulls the blanket over her chest. Her girlfriend doesn’t look half as sleepy as she feels; she’s propped up on her elbows and plays with the end of a strand of hair. When she looks up, her eyes are glittering. Nicole reaches out to touch her cheek, just because she can.

“Waverly, I love you.”

She marvels at the way Waverly grins brightly and throws her head back, making a happy little noise that pulls at Nicole’s heartstrings.

They kiss, slowly. “Hey,” Waverly wants to know, “how sleepy are you, exactly?”

Nicole smirks. “Is that part of 20 questions or would you like to find out for yourself?”