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Fortitudine

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Waverly has been with Nicole now for almost 2 years. They are still fighting the remaining Revenants and the demons that snuck in when the gate was briefly opened by Willa. And things seem to finally be working in their favor. Dolls returned to his rightful place as the head of the Black Badge Division. Doc is running Shorty’s since it was deserted. Also, lending his hand when a certain demon problem requires his expertise. Gus is finally enjoying her retirement. And Wynonna… well she is still being Wynonna. After Waverly dropped the ball when telling her sister about her growing relationship with Nicole, Waverly decided to try and let Wynonna in more. This was even more evident when she was dealing with her feelings for a certain red head officer. Said officer is enjoying her new position with the BBD. Fighting alongside a team that she trusts and truly loves. They are her family now and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that she knows about the Earp curse and the strange happenings in town, life with Waverly is much smoother. It was tough in the beginning. What with Waverly wanting to protect Nicole by leaving her out and Nicole’s feeling about that. But they got past it and Nicole is now a functional and vital member of the team. Wynonna loves to joke that if he could, Dolls would replace Wynonna with Nicole in a heartbeat. Dolls and Nicole have become quite the duo. Always learning from each other and spending hours training together. Waverly loved how Nicole seemed to flow well with everyone (even Dolls, who no one really flowed with). It was almost like they had an unspoken understanding, a wordless language that was only spoken through body language and eye contact. It fascinated Waverly. Doc and Nicole seemed to mesh immediately. They never had a problem keeping easy conversation and hashing out advice. Plus, their common interests and Earp girls gave them plenty to talk about. Their immediate friendship and simple understanding of each other made working together a breeze. Nicole has even grown on Wynonna. Nicole, being Nicole, tried to gain Wynonna’s trust almost immediately. Although it took a while, they couldn’t be closer now. “Best Friends” Waverly thought. It warmed her heart and caused a small giggle to erupt from her. She couldn’t even count the amount of times she was woken up to Nicole carrying Wynonna’s drunk ass back to the Homestead after a night of drinking and pool at Shorty’s’. She was reminded every time she saw the compassion her girlfriend showed her sister just how lucky she was. Nicole, even on the nights when she was exhausted from work, always showed so much care when it came to Wynonna. Always carrying her inside and delicately laying her down on the couch (trying not to wake her). Never leaving until Wynonna was removed of her boots and leather jacket, covered with a blanket, and accompanied by a bottle of water with aspirin sitting on top. Nicole’s compassion for Wynonna was not something she did for Waverly’s affection. Most nights she didn’t even wake Waverly, trying to slip out unseen. The fact that Nicole took care of her sister simply because she was Nicole made Waverley love her impossibly more.

About two months ago, Nicole moved in at the Homestead. Partially for practical purposes (seeing as she was sleeping there most nights anyway) and partially because the homestead was the only place she was safe from the Revenants. It became very evident that Waverly’s relationship with Nicole made her a target. After the second attempt on her life at her apartment, Wynonna and Waverly finally insisted that Nicole move in with them. It was almost comical how very little changed once Nicole moved. Everything just seemed so normal and so right. Everyone seem to fit in to their new roles and it felt like the puzzle had all the pieces in place. Or so Waverly thought.

It all started three nights ago. There was a big hockey game on and Waverly could hear Nicole and Wynonna screaming from the second floor of the Homestead. She game down just after the second. She descended the stairs just as the second period had started to find that Dolls and Doc had join them. She was even more surprised to see Gus in the kitchen making herself a plate of chips and other snacks. This all brought a smile to Waverly’s face. Her family, her real family. Altogether by choice. She sat down next to cook Nicole and started to pay attention to the game. She soon realized that Nicole and Wynonna were betting against each other. This struck Waverley as strange because this hardly happened. When it came to sports, Wynonna and Nicole seem to always be on the same page. Waverly notice the two teams playing. It was the Calgary Flames versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Wynonna was cheering for the Flames and Nicole for the Blackhawks. Nicole’s choice of team intrigued Waverly.

“Why root for Chicago and face Wynonna’s wrath?” Waverly asked with a wide grin and a playful elbow to Nicole’s side.

“Because I’m from Chicago” Nicole responded nonchalantly with a chuckle.

Waverly’s eyes widened. Holy crap. How didn’t she know that? What kind of girlfriend was she?

“What?” Was all Waverly could respond with as she stared at her girlfriend. Her full attention now on Nicole.

Nicole looked away from the game and was slightly startled at the horrified look on her girlfriend’s face.

“Wave? What’s wrong?”

“You are from Chicago?” Waverly said, brain frozen on the previously stated information.

“Yea, well kinda. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. But I went to college in Chicago and went to the police academy there too. So that’s where most of my favorite sports teams come from.” Nicole said, still confused by Waverly’s facial expression.

“You’re American?” Waverly asked as her brain started to catch up with the conversation.

“Um yeah… is that a problem?” Nicole waited but Waverly didn’t respond. After a few awkward moments, Nicole shifted in her seat on the couch. “Wave?”

“How did I not know that? Why didn’t you tell me that?” Waverly said with a hint of panic in her voice

Wynonna absentmindedly thought this would be a good time to interject. Not looking away from the game she punched Nicole playfully on the shoulder.

“Yeah, Haughtstuff didn’t tell you? She is a dual citizen or something like that. Apparently, that’s like kinda rare and she was even in the army or some badass crap like that.”

“I was a Marine, Wynonna” Nicole corrected.

Waverly just stared at Nicole and then at everyone else in the room. Everyone in the room looked shocked (except Dolls). Waverly saw his reaction. She decided to question him. It was easier to question him rather than her girlfriend at the moment.

“You knew? Why didn’t you say anything?” Waverly directed at Dolls.

“It wasn’t my story to tell” He simply stated, facial features unchanged.

“Wave, it wasn’t some big secret. You just never asked and I never found an opportunity to tell you. It’s not really a big deal.” Nicole said apprehensively. Not wanting to anger her girlfriend.

Waverly leaned back into the couch with an “Okay” and seemed to look back to the screen. Although Nicole knew she wasn’t really watching the game, but rather analyzing the new information she has been given. Nicole takes this as an opportunity to get up and get a refill of her drink. After grabbing a new bottle of beer out of the fridge and popping the cap off, Nicole turn to see Gus leaning in the doorway of the kitchen.

“Something I can help you with Mrs. McCrea- Gus?” Nicole corrected herself remembering how Waverly’s aunt wanted her to call her by her first name now that Waverly and her were together.

“Yeah. If you wouldn’t mind Darlin’, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute?”

Nicole’s face must have showed her immediate concern because Gus quickly added, “Don’t worry Hun, you are not in trouble. I just want to talk to you.”

Hearing this, Nicole risibly relaxed and followed Gus out the side door and onto the deck where there was a small chair and table set up. They both took a seat and fell into a comfortable silence as they looked out at the surrounding fields.
Night had long since come but the lights from the house illuminated the surrounding area nicely.

“So, Nicole, you were in the military?” Gus questioned. The apprehension in her voice obvious. She didn’t want to upset Nicole or make her uncomfortable. But Gus felt she needed to have this conversation.

“Yes Ma’am.” Nicole said, maybe trying to hide the pride she felt.

“How did a young buck like you end up in the Marine Corps?”

“Well it is kind of a boring story. Once I finished high school, I knew I wanted to be a police officer and protect people. But I was too young to go to the academy so I decided to join the military. I chose the Marines because of the challenge and within a few days of enlisting, I was off to boot camp. After that, I did two tours overseas before was discharged and started school.”

Gus pondered the information carefully before asking, “If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get deployed to?”

“First tour I was in Pakistan and I spent three months there before my unit was transferred to a remote region of Iraq. I returned home to the States six months later.” Nicole stated.

“And your second deployment…? Gus saw Nicole’s hesitation but decided to let the girl decide if she would answer.

“Afghanistan Ma’am.”

Gus’ face dropped and concern washed over her features. “None of those places are easy, but Afghanistan… I’ve seen pictures and heard some stories. That’s a rough place to be, especially as a U.S. Soldier.” Nicole simply nodded as she looked down at the ground. Not really sure what to say.
“You coping with it well?” Gus asked. “Most people can’t be functional after suffering that kind of trauma.”

But then it dawned on her. Nicole knew why Gus had asked to talk to her privately. “Look Gus, I understand what you’re getting at. You are concerned for your girls. Your concerned that I might hurt Waverly or Wynonna for that matter. But I can assure you that I have my PTSD under control. If I didn’t, don’t you think Waverly would have knew before now that I was in the service? And don’t you think Wynonna would have beat my ass by now?” Nicole said on the defensive. Trying not to let the self-conscious feelings show.

“Nicole, I am not trying to insinuate you are not strong enough to fight your PTSD. I’m sure you are a very strong woman and have worked very hard to get to this place. But can you blame me for my concern? It has nothing to do with you Nicole. It could be anyone dating my girls. You have been in combat and have seen things. Done things. Things that no one should have to. And that’s not your fault. I like you Nicole, I like you a lot. And I know you would never intentionally hurt Waverly. But I need you to promise me something. Please.”

Nicole looked at her unsure but still responded, “Okay?”

“Promise me that if you for some reason can’t handle it. If it becomes too hard. Promise me you will remove yourself from Waverly. Walk away, even if just for a moment. And stay away until you can handle it. Until you are confident that you won’t hurt her. I couldn’t bear it if something happened to her and I know you couldn’t live with yourself if you hurt her. So please just promise me that if it ever becomes too much, walk away. Come talk to me or talk to someone, but please don’t put anyone in the position where they are forced to deal with the consequences of your pain. I really like you Nicole. You are practically family and I know you love Waverly. I just need you to promise me that you love her enough to protect her. Even if you have to protect her from yourself. “

Nicole sat and thought about what Gus was asking of her. And the more she thought about it, the less attacked she felt. She knew where Gus was coming from and she knew that Gus cared for her. Gus tried to be delicate with her, but there really is only so much she could do. Nicole appreciated the effort. She nodded and turned her head to face Gus once again. “I promise Gus. I love her enough to do that. I will protect her. You’re right. I promise.”

Gus smiled at Nicole and they both rose from their seats. Gus wasn’t a big hugger, but she still embraced a surprised Nicole. “Thank you, Nicole. And if you ever need to talk to someone, about anything, I’m here for you. If you ever need anything, I hope you know you can come to me”.

Nicole teared up a little as she hugged Gus back. “Thank you, Gus, for being upfront with me. I appreciate it. Just… thank you.”

Right then, Waverly and Wynonna walked out the side door in search of the pair and caught them as they were separating from their embrace. Both Earp sisters shared a confused look on their face but didn’t say anything. Finally, Wynonna broke the silence by saying the third period was about to start. Gus and Nicole both smiled and walked back to the house. Gus and Wynonna went inside as Waverly held Nicole back. Waverly looked at Nicole with concerned eyes. “What’s wrong Nic?”

“Nothing. Gus and I were just talking. That’s all.”

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah baby, everything is great. Let’s get inside and watch the rest of the game. I want to see Wyn’s face when her Flames get blown out.” Nicole chuckled.

They headed inside the evening resumed with a promise to talk about the new information in the morning.

Chapter Text

Waverly woke up to an empty bed. Although waking up might be an inaccurate description because she never really went to sleep. She tossed and turned most of the night, trying and failing to turn her brain off. She flopped onto her back, hand and arm extended to reach the other side of the bed. The empty side of the bed. This wasn’t unusual for a Monday morning. Weekday mornings are normally training mornings. Nicole is probably training with Dolls right now. Based on the time that’s blinking on her alarm clock, 7:30 am, they are probably finishing their early morning run. Waverly slowly got out of bed and walked over to the bathroom. She turned on the water knowing it would take at least two minutes to warm up and grabbed her toothbrush. As she waited for the shower to warm up, she brushed her teeth and stared in the mirror. She couldn’t stop thinking about all the new information she learned about her girlfriend last night. She couldn’t stop worrying that there was so much more about Nicole that she didn’t know. Important stuff that she just didn’t have a clue about. Nicole didn’t talk about her past much. And if Waverly is being perfectly honest with herself, she didn’t really ask a lot of questions about it. Maybe it’s because she’s always been so wrapped up on her family’s curse or always trying to keep an eye on Wynonna. But it dawned on Waverly that she never even thought to ask Nicole about her past. Waverly had always assumed that Nicole had had a normal childhood. She assumed that Nicole was from Canada and had grown up in the city and decided to move out to Purgatory for some independence. What else did Waverly not know about her girlfriend?

Waverley was pulled from her thoughts by the overwhelming steam now coming from the shower. She quickly jumped in and adjusted the temperature. When she finished showering, she quickly got dressed and gathered her things that she would need for the day. Within 20 minutes, she was out the door and climbing into her jeep. She turned the key in the ignition and drove towards town. Her first instinct was to head straight to the police station as she normally did in the morning. But she decided to stop by Shorty’s first, hoping Gus was there. After quickly exiting her jeep, Waverly headed inside to find Gus wiping down the counters. She looked slightly tired, meaning she’s probably been here since early this morning.

“Hey, girly!” Gus greets her with a smile.

“Mornin’ Gus. Why are you here so early?” Waverly asked. Although she was there with hopes to speak to her, Waverley was surprised that Gus was actually there.

“Ahh, some idiots made a mess last night so I decided to come in early and make sure it was cleaned up properly. Plus, I got some guys coming in a little later to fix up some of the electrical in here.” Gus must have noticed Waverly’s slight distraction, because she followed up with, “You okay Darlin’?”

“What did you and Nicole talk about last night? And why was it necessary for you to speak outside?” Waverly looked at her aunt and the kicked puppy look on Waverly’s face was not lost on Gus.

“Well I just wanted to ask about her time in the service. We went outside because I know it can be really hard for people in her position to talk about it. Especially in a group environment.” Gus paused to gage her niece’s response before continuing “Plus I had a feeling she and I could both use some air. That house of yours doesn’t circulate air flow well.”

Waverly seemed to contemplate this information before she asked, “So what did she tell you? About her time in the military?”

“Oh honey, I can’t talk about this with you. That’s something you’d have to ask her. Only she can tell that story to you.”

Waverley gave her aunt a slightly disappointed pout. But it only lasted a moment before she spun on her heel and headed towards the cappuccino machine. After making herself and Nicole their cups of coffee, she kissed her aunt on the cheek and headed out the door. “Thanks Gus, see you tonight!”

Once Waverley finally arrived at the police station, it was almost 8:45. She looked around for the redheaded officer, but she was not in the bullpen. She set the coffees down in the Black Badge office before heading to the department gym down the hall. Even before she got to the door she could hear the grunts and sounds of skin on skin impact. She opened the door to the gym and watched the three familiar figures train against one another. The first thing she noticed was that Wynonna was up before 10 AM. This was rare and Waverly seriously consider taking a picture as evidence for the history books. The next thing she noticed was how everyone was dressed. Dolls was in a black tank top and a pair of black basketball shorts. Wynonna was wearing an extremely tight tank top and a pair of Reebok workout pants. But it was Nicole’s outfit that made Waverly’s jaw drop. Nicole was in a navy blue sports bra and a pair of dark workout pants. Waverley couldn’t help but ogle her girlfriend as the light layer of sweat created a sexy sheen on her pale skin. Waverly watched them quietly from the doorway, as to not disturb them.

“C’mon Earp! She’s practically telegraphing her punches. Don’t just punch, think.” Dolls said as he coached an obviously annoyed Wynonna.

“Shut up Dolls! I’m sparring against GI Jane here, not some marshmallow cop. It’s not as easy as it looks” Wynonna responded. Agitation clear and her voice.

As the two bickered back and forth, Nicole continued her offense on the Earp heir. It was obvious based on her relaxed movements that she was not working at full speed and was in fact going easy on Wynonna. After another minute of this, Nicole seeming bored with the situation, gave Dolls a questioning look. He simply nodded his head in confirmation. Within half a second Wynonna was flat on her back. “Owww. Damn Haughtstuff. Take it easy. It’s early.”

Nicole chuckled as she reached her hand down to the elder Earp and helped her up “I was going easy Wyn.”

“A ha sure. Dolls your up!” Wynonna exclaimed. Obviously excited to see the match up.

Waverly took this moment to sit on the nearby bench with her sister to watch. Wynonna turned to her sister with a giddy smile on her face. Waverley returned a smile but quickly had her attention diverted back to the action. Nicole and Dolls moved around the mat, sizing each other up. After a couple, silent moments, Dolls threw the first punch, narrowly missing Nicole’s face. Nicole quickly ducked under the punch and jabbed Dolls in the ribs twice before moving out to safety. After 3 or 4 minutes of intense and fast movement, Dolls and Nicole were both on the ground. From what Waverly can tell, Nicole had Dolls in a fairly painful and uncomfortable arm bar. After he tapped the mat twice with his hand Nicole released Dolls and they both stood and shook hands. They began to talk about certain moves they had done and things that they should work on before they noticed their audience. Wynonna and Waverly stare at them with wide-eyes and mouths gaping open. The pure shock was evident on their faces. As Nicole and Dolls started to walk towards them, Waverly felt her sister elbow her lightly. “Haughtstuff indeed. That was… impressive.” Wynonna paused, looking Nicole and Dolls up and down, before continuing “It should be illegal for someone to look that good while sweating. I understand what you see in her. I bet she looks even haughter sweating with no clothes on.” Wynonna said this with a wink and another elbow to her sister’s side. Normally Waverly would chastise Wynonna and slap her on the arm, but all she could do was respond with a “Mhmm”. Never taking her eyes off her girlfriend.

Once Nicole and Dolls finally joined them at the bench, Waverly had at least regained some of her composure. Dolls gave a curt nod of his head before he picked up his things and headed towards the showers. As this happened, Nicole lean down and lightly kissed Waverly on the cheek. “Good morning baby. How’d you sleep?” Nicole asked as she straightened up from the kiss.

“Good” Waverly lied in response with a small smile.

Nicole could sense something was off but didn’t want to bring it up in front of Wynonna. “Hey, I’m going to hit the showers but I’ll see you in the BBD office in a couple minutes. Okay?” Nicole smiled at her girlfriend before grabbing her gym bag and heading off to the showers where Dolls had just gone.

“Okay” Waverly quietly responded, trying to hide the blush that threatened to appear at the mention of Nicole and showers.

As her girlfriend walked away, Wynonna stood from the bench. “Okay Baby girl, I better shower up too. I can pull many looks, but gross and sweaty is not one of them.” Wynonna started to walk towards the door that Nicole and Dolls had just disappeared behind. The Earp heir turned around slightly with a wicked grin on her face. “Oh, I forgot, there are only two showers in the locker room. I guess I have to share with someone.” Waverley didn’t react until she realized what her sister was insinuating. There was no way Dolls would share a shower with Wynonna in the workplace. This jogged Waverly out of her silent trance.

“Nonna, no! That’s my girlfriend!”

Her sister’s reaction caused Wynonna to laugh and continue walking to the door. Just as she had the door open and was halfway through it, she appeared around the edges of the frame. “Wave, she’s haught. Even if I don’t play for that team, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the view.” Waverly’s red face and scornful look made Wynonna laugh even harder as she let the door close behind her as she headed towards the showers.

 


 

15 minutes later in the BBD office, everyone was doing their assigned duties. Dolls was doing God knows what on his computer, Nicole was reading a report as she simultaneously put her gun back together after cleaning it. Waverly couldn’t focus on the research she was supposed to be doing as she watched her girlfriend effortlessly put her sidearm back together without even looking down at her hands. Wynonna was being Wynonna. Playing what looked like Tetris on her phone with her feet up on the desk. After what feels like hours, but in reality, it was probably only a couple minutes, Waverly stands from her seat. “Hey Nic, I’m going to go get a bite to eat, wanna come with me?”

“I actually was just about to get ready to go on patrol. Nedley is bound to tell me to do so soon” Nicole said.

As if on cue, Nedley’s voice rang out above the silence, “Haught! Go on patrol before the assholes in town start causing trouble. They seem to make less stupid decisions when they see the cruisers driving around.”

Nicole laughed as she rose from her seat, “Want to tag along? Or maybe I could just drop you off wherever you want to go get food?”

Waverly nodded and went out the door that her girlfriend was holding open for her. They left the station and headed out towards the parking lot where Nicole’s cruiser was parked. After opening the passenger door for Waverly to get in, Nicole slipped around the front and got in the driver’s seat. They sat in a comfortable silence as Nicole pulled out of the parking lot and got onto Main Street.

“So where should I drop you off?” Nicole asked with a small smile as they drove.

“Um do you mind if I stay with you for a little while? I can wait to get food.” Waverly asked hopefully.

“Sure. Something on your mind? It’s not that I don’t love when you come out on patrol with me. It’s just that when it does happen, it normally means you want to talk about something important.” Nicole said, clearly trying to tread lightly on the topic.

“Relax Nicole, you’re not in trouble. I just want to talk to you about what was said last night. I’m not mad. I’m just a little concerned that I don’t know you as well as I should. And that’s my fault. I guess with the curse and all the BBD stuff, I never really thought to ask you about who you were before we met. I’m sorry.”

“Waves, why are you apologizing. Yeah, we’ve been busy. Plus, I probably should have just come out and told you. It’s not like it’s a big secret or anything. I just didn’t think to bring it up.” Nicole admitted.

“Would you mind talking about it now?” Waverly asked.

“Well what would you like to know?” Nicole asked nervously.

“Last night you said you were a marine. How long was that for? Where did you go? And how did I not know you were American? I seriously don’t understand how that never came up in conversation. And how come my sister knew before me? And why did you go to school in Chicago if you’re from Texas? And how the hell did you go from Chicago and the big city to a town like Purgatory?... oh god! I’m sorry! I don’t want to interrogate you. I’m just really curious and this is a lot of new information to take in. And…” Waverly’s ramble was silenced by Nicole’s hand being placed on Waverly’s knee.

“Wave, breathe. It’s alright, I know you are just curious and I will tell you everything I can. But it won’t do either of us any good if you hyperventilate before I can finish.” Nicole chuckled

Waverly took a couple deep breaths and looked gently at Nicole. “Okay.”

“It’s kind of a long story so I guess the best place to start is the beginning” Nicole stated as she took a deep breath.

Chapter Text

“I was born in Dallas, Texas. And really never left until I enlisted. My mom was a nurse at a local hospital and my dad was a construction worker. I was very close with both of them growing up. I have a brother, Mitchel. He is a couple years older than me and always looked out for me growing up. We were a normal family in all accounts. We were all so busy but we always made a point to eat dinner together every night. We were a happy family. That’s not to say we didn’t have our struggles. Neither of my parents made much money and they both worked a lot. My brother was always so focused on school and his friends. So, although I grew up a happy kid, I was painfully aware of what loneliness felt like. A couple months after my 16th birthday, my brother got into a car accident. He was okay, but he was still sent to the hospital. My mother rushed to the ER (on her day off) to make sure he was fine. Upon arriving, she seemed to faint. This confused the doctors and nurses (my mom’s coworkers). After some blood tests and several physical exams, the doctors had a diagnosis. My mom had cancer.”

Waverly stayed silent as Nicole continued to drive, eyes never leaving the road. Not wanting to interrupt, Waverly just stared at Nicole’s unchanged features.

“Basically, that’s when everything went to hell. My dad started to struggle. My mom was the love of his life and he didn’t really know how to live in a world where she didn’t. I understood that. I couldn’t really blame him for falling apart. My brother on the other hand, did blame him. Mitch let his anger get the best of him and the sicker Mom got, the angrier he got. He never took it out on me, but just being around him hurt. It was almost as if the anger radiated off of him. My mom died about a year later. And in all honesty, I think it was a blessing and a mercy. She was in so much pain. It killed all of us to watch her go through treatments, only to get sicker. Two weeks after she died, I enlisted and left Dallas. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be there alone. My dad was gone, he just stayed in his room all day. Never leaving except to retrieve food. My brother let his anger get him into trouble. He was arrested the day she died after he threw an empty liquor bottle into a store front. So, I truly felt alone. I probably should have stayed. Looking back now, I probably could have prevented some of their self-destruction. But I didn’t. I wasn’t strong enough. So, I left and spent the next couple years living a life of pure discipline. I needed it. I needed there to always be something telling me what to do. The military kept me in line and that meant I didn’t fall apart like my family had.”

Nicole stopped talking, parked the car and finally turned to look at Waverly. “We should probably get you some food before we head back to the station.”

Waverly finally broke out of her haze and looked out the window to notice that they were in front of the Diner. Nicole exited the cruiser and walked around the front to the other side of the car. As Nicole opened the car door for her girlfriend to get out, Waverly finally regained some composure.

“You told me one time that your mom died when you were young, but you didn’t tell me how. And you never mentioned having a brother.”

“There is a reason I don’t really talk about my brother.” Nicole stated simply.

Before Waverly could ask why, they were interrupted by a waitress asking what she could get them. After Waverly placed her to-go order, the two silently waited for the food to come. Nicole stood up straight next to a wall as Waverly leaned her back into Nicole’s front. She could feel the officer’s heart beat on her back. It was thundering hard and conflicted with the calm and casual look on her girlfriend’s face. This puzzled Waverly, but before she could voice it, her food was being brought out in a plastic bag filled with 3 Styrofoam containers. Nicole playfully bumped Waverly off her and grabbed the food from the young man carrying it. As she grabbed the bag, Waverly didn’t miss how Nicole slipped the boy a tip before thanking him and motioning towards the door.

Back in the car, Waverly quickly broke the silence. “So, you joined the Marines? That must have been… different?”

This earned a chuckle from Nicole, “Yeah, you could say that. The military was tough on me. It broke me down and built me back up stronger. I was young, stubborn and I was a woman. I was a good marksman growing up, and the military knew that. It was something that seemed to come naturally to me. But my gender and the rules and regulations at the time prevented the military from using my skills to my full potential. So, they trained me for reconnaissance work. It kept me on the ground and in the thick of things, but far enough away to stay within regulations. My job mostly consisted of talking to locals, staking out possible hotspots and doing humanitarian work in places that needed help. That part was the most rewarding. I mostly worked with women and children (being that the male soldiers were often either seen as threatening or the locals speaking with them violated their customs). I got a lot of hands on experience there and learned a lot. My unit was incredibly tightknit. We were practically family. The four of us knew each other so well, we could tell what each other wanted to do before we even did it. We worked like a well-oiled machine. This meant we were in high demand and never really stayed in one place long. But I think that also made it easier too. It made it hard to get attached. The few times we did get attached, we would return weeks later and normally wouldn’t like what we saw. People murdered, villages and entire tribes burned to the ground. Shelters for women and orphanages attacked, ransacked and ultimately destroyed. We soon started to realize the pattern and found it easier to keep moving on. After two tours, myself and the rest of my unit decided to let our contracts expire and we all received honorable discharges. We all went our separate ways and started our new lives. I went to Chicago, I couldn’t go back to Texas. To many bad memories and I honestly just felt like a different person. I was no longer the person that I was when I left. I started college that fall and after that, I went to the academy. Once I finished the academy, I spend a couple months with Chicago PD before I transferred. I ended up in Purgatory and the rest is history.”

At some point during the conversation, Waverly had grabbed Nicole’s hand. But she didn’t notice until she stopped talking. She smiled at her girlfriend and returned her gaze back to the road. Less than 30 seconds later, Nicole is pulling her cruiser into its parking spot at the station. She and Waverly both get out of the car and meet at the front of the cruiser. Waverly retook possession of Nicole’s hand with her free hand (holding her food in the other). She looked up at her girlfriend with concern filling her eyes and asked, “Are you okay Nic?”

Nicole smiled at her and responded with a reassuring squeeze of her hand, “Yes Wave, I’m fine. Everyone has their own demons they fight. Yours just so happen to be actual demons from hell. But I have so much here. I don’t have to worry about mine anymore.”

Waverly seemed to relax a bit at this and leaned up to kiss the redhead on the cheek. “Okay” She said and they started to walk into the station.

Nicole separated from Waverly when she went to her desk and the younger Earp went to the BBD office down the hall, promising to meet her in there in a minute. Nicole sat down at her desk and turned on her computer. As she waited for the outdated, piece of crap, computer to warm up, her mind drifted into thought. She thought about after she came back to the States. About the struggles she faced. The guilt. She also thought about how hard she worked to get passed it. Although she knew no one really “gets past it”. You can’t un-see combat. You can’t un-ring the bell. But she coped. Hours of therapy and a lots of stress relieving workouts made sure of it. She didn’t think of it often now. But then she thought of the nights. They didn’t happen often. Sometimes years would pass in between them. She hadn’t had one in 4 years. Those nights where she wakes up in the middle of the night and has to go outside and take a walk. Clear her head. She wouldn’t come back home until she was 100% again. She thought of the nights, and then she thought of her earlier conversation with Gus yesterday. She had it under control, but she was glad Gus had talked to her. It had her feel better knowing Gus was looking out for her as well as Wave and Wyn.

She is brought out of her thoughts when a particularly grumpy Wynonna plops herself into the chair next to her desk. “How do you do it Haught? I literally don’t get it. I watched you spar with Dolls with my own eyes. But first you are both standing, and next thing I know, you’ve got him tapping out on the ground. I don’t get it.” She says with a huff. Then she adds, “And he’s like twice your size.”

Nicole looked at the Earp heir and smiled “You want to know my secret? Want to know how to win?”

Wynonna nodded her head.

Nicole rose from her seat, giving up on the piece of shit technology in front of her and beckoned Wynonna to follow her. Once they were in the workout room and the door was closed, Nicole stood up straighter and placed her hands behind her back. “Wyn, I was taught how to fight by the Marine Corps, there was no room for weakness. I had to learn how to win against opponents that almost always outmatched me physically. So, I couldn’t rely of brute force. I had to be agile and fast. Make the hits I got in count and do my best to never show weakness. I learned how to grapple and studied a bit of Jujitsu to learn how to use my opponent’s own strength against them.”

Wynonna took this information in and waited a moment before responding, “Can you teach me?” Another pause. “Because Dolls is all on my ass about learning to fight and being a more well-rounded agent and all that crap. What does that even mean? I think my ass alone makes me well-rounded enough, if you know what I mean.” She adds in a wink that earns her an exaggerated eye roll from Nicole.

“Did you ever think that the reason you didn’t learn anything from watching our sparring matches has something to do with you… admiring… Dolls’… assets?” Nicole asked sarcastically.

“Oh, I wasn’t only watching him Haughtstuff. You aren’t so bad yourself.”

This earned the Earp heir another eye roll from Nicole as she turned to walk away, “We can start training tomorrow.”

“So, should I call you grand master Haughtstuff or Sensei or something? Wynonna asked with a sarcastic smirk.

“I think Nicole will suffice for now.” Nicole responded with a laugh as she departed the room with Wynonna in tow.

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“You knew.” Waverly said incredulously as she stared a Dolls from across the table in the BBD office.

“I knew what Earp?”

“You knew about Nicole”

“I know a lot about Officer Haught. You will have to be more specific.”

Waverly’s agitation with him grew, “You knew she was in the military and about her past and you didn’t say anything to me.”

“It wasn’t my story to tell. Plus, I didn’t think your girlfriend being a soldier would bother you. She’s a good officer, a great soldier and an even better person. Does it matter what she did before she got here?” Doll said matter-of-factly, his composure slipping the slightest bit at the last question.

Waverly immediately knew what he was insinuating and was almost offended by it. “Dolls, she is my girlfriend. I should have known. I’m not afraid of her, of course not. I know Nicole would never hurt me. I am just upset that it seems like I was the last to know. That’s all.”

Dolls stood up, softening a little. “I am sorry you didn’t know sooner. But it wasn’t my life story to tell. A soldier’s history, especially ones’ like Lance Corporal Haught’s, tend to be extremely private. Most don’t want it advertised to the whole world. It had to come from her Earp.” He pats her slightly on the shoulder as he made his way out of the BBD office.

Waverly sat there repeating the same thing over and over in her head, “Lance Corporal Haught”.

After toying with it for a while. Waverly spun into action, grabbing Dolls’ laptop and logging in. She opened up the United States Armed Services Database. She typed in Nicole’s information and found her file. Well, she thought, file was not accurate. It was more like a profile because the file in its entirety was almost 300 pages long. Unfortunately all but the first page was redacted or blocked. But what she did find was interesting. The profile included a picture of a very young Nicole with short hair. Also in the profile was her basic stats (height, weight, eye color, etc.) and a small note regarding her enlistment and honorable discharge. The last two lines stood out to Waverly and she read them out loud, “Recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.”

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Later that day:

“Nicole its totally a big deal! Waverly exclaimed as she gushed over her girlfriend.

They were all in Shorty’s taking the edge off from the day. Doc was serving (and drinking), Wynonna was drinking and dancing to no music. And Dolls and Nicole were playing a game of pool. Waverly followed Nicole around the table as she played. Although it seemed like Nicole was happy to answer her girlfriend’s questions, Nicole still felt the alarm bells going off in the back of her head. “Wave, it’s an award. It really isn’t THAT big of a deal. I was just doing my job. Nothing more. They recognized me and that was great, but it’s not a big deal. Plus, it was a long time ago.”

Waverly must have sensed her girlfriend’s distress because she let the topic die and kissed her on the cheek. “Hey do you want something to drink?”

“No thank you, baby. I’m good here. Go make sure your sister doesn’t hurt someone or herself with those… “dance moves”.” Nicole replied to Waverly with a smirk.

As Waverly walked over to her sister, Dolls shot Nicole a serious look. “You okay?”

Nicole took a deep breath before responding, “Yeah I’m fine, I understand that she’s curious. Especially since she’s just learning this information now. It just feels weird to talk about it. Especially with someone who has no idea what it’s like. Plus, I don’t want to scare her away. Of course, I would never do anything to hurt her, but I don’t think I could blame her if she decided that I wasn’t what she wanted because of this. I love her and I know she loves me. I just don’t want any of that to change because of all of this.”

“You know it won’t. Waverly loves you. She won’t let this change that.” Said Dolls.

“Thanks Dolls.” Before Nicole could say more, she was interrupted by her phone ringing in her pocket. One look at the caller ID and her face sobered a little bit. “Excuse me.” Was all she said and she was on her way out the door with that. Dolls notices this but decides to leave it be for the time being.

Dolls shot the remaining pool balls into the pockets and placed the pool cue on the rack. He then walked over to the bar, to join the rest. Upon sitting down on a stool, Wynonna asked him, “Where is Haughtstuff? Waverly is right here, so she can’t be sneaking off for a booty call.”

Waverly slapped her on the arm a little harder than necessary before turning to Dolls with the questioning look. He simply stated that she had a phone call and needed to take it outside because of the noise. As if on cue, Nicole came back through the doors with a smile on her face. “What did I miss?” she said upon sitting down next to Xavier.

Conversation seemed to flow normal after that. But Dolls didn’t miss the slightly nervous look in the red head’s eyes. She covered it well, but he knew her. He decided to let it die for now, knowing that if it was important, that she would bring it up to him later in private. The night went on and everything seemed to calm down. They all enjoyed their evening and Nicole drove them all back to the Homestead around midnight. After making sure everyone was safely tucked away in their sleeping quarters (Wynonna on the couch, Doc in the barn, Dolls in Wynonna’s bed and Waverly in hers) Nicole checked all the locks and closed up the remaining windows. She was just about to go upstairs to bed when her phone vibrated in her back pocket. It was an email. It was basically just a written-out form of the information she had received during her earlier phone call. She quickly read through it and closed her phone. She took a deep breath before finally ascending the stairs to go to bed. Tomorrow she would have to talk to Dolls, and probably the rest of the team too.

Chapter Text

Nicole woke up that morning just like every other morning. Her alarm went off at 4:30am and she was out the door and meeting Dolls at the Black Badge office by 5am. She walked through the door of the gym, only to be surprised by the presence of Wynonna. “Good morning Haughtstuff! Ready to get to training?”

Wynonna being awake at this hour was a miracle, so her being so animated was almost scary. “Hey Earp, never thought I would see you up this early. You feeling okay?”

“Of course! I just wanted to see what you and Dolls get up so early for every day. I’ve got to admit, this is commitment.”

Just then, Dolls walking to the gym. He looked even more surprised than Nicole as he noticed Wynonna’s presence. But he quickly recovered. “Earp, this is not a play date. We get up this early so that we can focus and work out hard. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

“No, Deputy Marshall Killjoy… I mean Dolls. It won’t be a problem. Haught here offered to train me and I’m taking it seriously. I think she can succeed in training me where you have failed. She knows how to fight and I want to learn from her.” Wynonna turned to Nicole, “And if you ever tell anyone I said that, I will deny it.”

Nicole laughed and swung one arm around Wynonna, “Your secret is safe with me.”

With that, the three of them quickly changed and headed off for their morning run. To Nicole’s pleasant surprise, Wynonna was in decent cardio shape. She kept pace with them up until the last quarter mile. As they arrive back in the station, Nicole clapped Wynonna on the back and said, “Ready for some sparring? Or did you want to do some weights first?”

The Earp heir looked at her friend like she was freaking crazy. “There’s more?!”

This brought a smile to the young officer’s face. “Yeah Earp, but if you can’t handle it, we can try again tomorrow.

Hearing the challenge in her voice, Wynonna glared at Nicole before stomping over to the sparring mat. They sparred for over an hour. Nicole periodically pausing to show Wynonna a certain move or talk strategy. Time flew by and even Wynonna had to admit that she was a little disappointed when Dolls said it was time to get to work.

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15 minutes later, Nicole is alone in the BBD office with Dolls. Wynonna is still showering, and Waverly and Doc have not arrived yet. Feeling that this might be the only chance she gets, Nicole started to speak. “Hey, do you still get USAS security updates?”

Dolls nodded his head. He obviously knew what was coming next.

“So, you know what’s going on as far as the new military advancements? There’s a lot of talk. Some of my buddies in The States are worried. If things don’t get better soon…”

“I know.” Is all Dolls says. But the look on his face and the way his posture changes speaks volumes.

“We need to tell the team. Rather, I need to tell the team. If things don’t get better, I don’t want them to be blindsided.”

Dolls nodded but before anything more can be said, Wynonna, Waverly and Doc all walked into the office. They all sat down and prepared for the morning briefing like normal. After a long pause, Dolls cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Before we go about today’s normal business, there is something that needs to be addressed.” He looked over at Nicole for confirmation.

Nicole stood up and grabbed a tablet off the desk. She pointed it in the direction of the flat screen and pulled up some files. She took a deep breath before beginning:

“As members of the United States military, Dolls and I are still given updates regarding national security. In recent months, certain issues have become more… strenuous. I’m assuming that none of you follow global news so I’m going to try and just lay everything out. Bear with me.” Another long and deep breath. “Since the terrorist attack in New York, on September 11, 2001, The United States has been the leading force on the war on terror. Because of this, our military has pushed past previous boundaries and reached some of the most remote places of the world. With this being said, there are many groups that disapprove of this action and have pledged to stop the efforts of the United States. For years, they have done this through foreign and domestic terror attacks, as well as simply targeting our soldiers overseas. Fairly recently, a radical group Has been making waves and causing more trouble than ever before. They have claimed responsibility for multiple deadly attacks and have killed more than 20 US soldiers in the past 30 days. The United States fears that this group is escalating far too quickly. They started very small only couple years ago, but now, they are growing quickly and on are on their way to becoming something far more dangerous than we could’ve ever imagined.”

Nicole and Dolls just stood there. The three others simply sat and stared at them. No one wanted to break the silence. It seemed like everyone was just trying to wrap their heads around what was said. After what seems like hours, Doc speaks, “I am to presume there must be a reason you are telling us this here information?”

Nicole visibly swallowed the lump in her throat. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. Noticing right away, Dolls spoke up for the first time since he called the meeting. “The reason we’re telling you this information is because we fear the problem will get too big for the current military command. If such a thing were to happen, the US and their allies could possibly declare war against this group individually. Meaning, Canada would also be affected. But that is not really our biggest concern.” At this Dolls stopped talking. He knew what he was going to say next would get a strong reaction. But he didn’t have long to ponder it because Nicole was once again speaking.

“Our main concern is that the US military will request our skills in the pursuit of this group. Our main concern is that if we are called to duty, you three will be here and responsible for controlling the Revenant activity.” Nicole said without hesitation. She had some bravado and she planned on using it. We are not telling you this information to scare you. We just wanted to make sure that there are no surprises. We want you all to be prepared, God forbid, the worst-case scenario happens.”

There is another long silence that no one is all that eager to break. This time it’s Waverly who does, “Can you refuse?”

“What?” Nicole asks, not really understanding what her girlfriend is asking.

“Can you refuse the request to go back. Can you refuse to fight someone else’s war and stay here with us?” Waverly said with more conviction.

“It’s a request so if we were indeed called upon, then yes, we could.” Dolls said only to be interrupted by Nicole.

“I can’t speak for you Dolls, but I will go if they request me to. I can’t turn my back on my country.” Nicole says flatly. “But that’s beside the point. We just wanted to make you all aware of the situation. Nothing is going to happen right now. We just wanted to put the information out there.”

Everyone nods their heads and Dolls takes that as a cute to start the regular morning briefing. “Well that went better than I thought” Nicole thought to herself as she took a seat next to her girlfriend. A moment later, Waverly entwined their fingers together on Nicole’s lap. Nicole smiled but didn’t miss the slight shakiness of her girlfriend’s hand. Nicole took this opportunity to raise their joined hands and place what she hoped was a reassuring kiss on Waverly’s hand. With that, the meeting begun and the day progressed like any other.

By the end of the day, everyone is exhausted. After the morning workout and a regular work day, Wynonna and Nicole fit in one more workout before calling it a day. Nicole and Wynonna drove home listening to the soft noise of the radio. Looking out the window from the passenger seat, Wynonna seemed to be deep in thought. “Wynonna? You okay? Seems like you got something on your mind?”

“Um… yeah I wanna talk to you about something. But I’m not sure if now is the right time.”

Nicole could hear the rare seriousness in her friend’s voice, “What’s eating at you Earp? No better time than the present.”

Wynonna looked away from the window for the first time to look at the red head. “What are your intentions with Waverly?”

The question took Nicole aback but she recovered quickly, “Um… you want to be a little more specific?”

“Are you planning to have a life with my sister? Get married? Maybe have a family? Have a future with her? Or is this just something to pass the time?”

Nicole quickly pulled over the cruiser and put it into park. She then turned her torso so she was facing the heir. “Wynonna, what’s going on? What’s wrong?”

“Nicole…”

Nicole interrupted her before she could finish, “Woah, you called me Nicole…”

“Look, I love my sister and I’m not blind. I know you love her too. Hell, I’m pretty sure the international space station can see it. And Waverly loves you. So, I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what’s next? Is there anything next? Because she’s my sister Nicole, she is my world.”

“Earp, you are kinda stealing my thunder right now.” Nicole said, trying to lighten the mood a little. She smiled and reached into her backpack. After opening a small compartment. Her hand emerged with a small black box. She opened it and handed it to Wynonna. As the heir stared at the box, Nicole continued, “I was going to set a meeting with both you and Gus in a couple weeks, to um… ask for permission.”

Wynonna stared wide-eyed at the little black box sitting in her hands. Sitting inside was a ring. But after thinking about it a moment, Wynonna realized that “ring” was an understatement. It was beautiful. A platinum band with a rather large, square cut diamond in the center. On either side of the centerpiece diamond, there were two colorful stones built into the band. On one side, there was a blue sapphire stone (one she recognized immediately as Waverly’s birth stone). And on the other side was a red ruby (which Wynonna assumed to be Nicole’s birthstone). The Earp heir just sat there staring at it. It was simple, yet so amazingly Nicole. It was a beautiful representation of Nicole’s love for her sister. After a couple more minutes of silence, Wynonna spoke, ”Holy shit! You want to marry my little sister!”

“I do.” Is all Nicole said in response.

“You’re going to marry my baby girl!”

“Well, she still has to say yes first.”

“Oh my God Haughtstuff! It’s beautiful and Waverly is going to love it! Of course I want you to marry her! Then I can use my superior nickname skills on her too!”

And just like that, the heaviness of the moment was gone. Laughter filled the car and Nicole pulled back on the road.

“So when are you planning on asking her? And how?” Wynonna asked as she finally looked away from the stunning ring and closed the box.

“Well, our two-year anniversary is in just a couple of months. So, I was planning on doing it then. I want it to be special, but also not super cliché. So, I was thinking about asking you and Gus to clear Shorty’s that day. Maybe get the team and some close friends together for dinner or something. I’m still working on it. But I know that Shorty’s is where this all started for her and I. It only seems appropriate to ask for her to spend forever with me in that very same place.”

“Dude, I’m really happy for you two. But I’m obliged to give you another overprotective sister speech.”

Nicole laughed, “I can take it.”

“If you break her heart, there isn’t a place on this earth you can hide from me. I hunt demons for a living. Finding a redhead in a world of blondes and brunets will be a cakewalk.”

“Thanks for that. I have no intentions of hurting Waverley. But it’s nice to know that I have a little bit of extra incentive.”

“Good talk Haughtsecret. Now let’s get home. I have a previously scheduled date with a couch and a bottle and I don’t want to miss it.”

With the one last chuckle, Nicole and Wynonna focus on the drive home, talking idly about their training tomorrow morning. Upon arriving at the Homestead, Wynonna hands Nicole the small box. “Don’t misplace that, or else your new nickname will be Haughtmess.” With one final smirk, Wynonna entered the house leaving Nicole standing in the open door of her cruiser. Nicole smiled as she placed the box back in her backpack. She then closed and locked the doors of the cruiser and proceeded to walk inside.

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Looking around the living room as she entered, Waverly was nowhere in sight. Nicole removed her boots and started to take off her utility belt as she ascended the stairs. Once she was that the top landing of the stairs, utility belt in hand, she walked down the hall to Waverly’s bedroom. She entered to find her girlfriend curled up on the windowsill reading a book. Nicole stopped for a moment to admire the scene in front of her. After a few seconds, she committed the scene to memory and walked towards her girlfriend. It took her a moment to realize that Waverly had headphones in and was not aware of her presence. Just as she’s about to lean down to kiss her on the crown of her head. She notices that Waverley closes her eyes and seems to relax a bit. Knowing that she was caught, she approached Waverly and lifted her bridal style from her perch by the window. Waverly wrapped her arms around Nicole’s neck as she was carried to the bed and unceremoniously dropped down. She was about to object until she realized her girlfriend was coming down to join their lips. There was fire behind that kiss. Something more than arousal. It was extremely loving, yet… there was an almost primal and natural feeling to it. It felt right. It made them feel as though they were the only ones there and the world outside did not exist.

Chapter Text

Waverly awoke to a very sore body. Normally this would be a welcomed feeling. It would normally be an indicator of a very exciting evening prior. But that’s not why she is sore. Last night was amazing, she had to admit. They hadn’t had a night like that in a while. There was so much passion and need involved. It’s what happened after, that brings Waverly to this point. She looked up at the ceiling and thought about what happened last night, wondering how everything changed so quickly.

Last night…
Waverly was sitting by the window in her bedroom, reading a book. Who was she kidding, she wasn’t actually reading. She was deep in thought. The book could have been upside down and she probably wouldn’t have noticed. She was listening to music on an iPod. The iPod wasn’t her’s though. It was Nicole’s. She had seen Nicole listen to it maybe once since they had been together. Nicole normally listened to music on her phone (at the gym, in the car, while walking and running, etc.) What struck Waverly about the iPod itself was how beat up it looked. Its back shell marred with small scratches and dents. But it worked and there were over 500 songs loaded. Waverly found it in Nicole’s nightstand drawer earlier that evening (as she searched for a lighter). She picked it up and unraveled the earbuds wrapped around it. She grabbed a book and sat down. She went into the most played playlist and pushed shuffle. Headphones in, Waverly relaxed into her spot and listened.

I'm just trying to be a father,
Raise a daughter and a son,
Be a lover to their mother,
Everything to everyone.
Up and at 'em bright and early,
I'm all business in my suit,
Yeah, I'm dressed up for success,
From my head down to my boots.
I don't do it for money
There's bills that I can't pay.
I don't do it for the glory,
I just do it anyway.
Providing for our future's my responsibility,
Yeah I'm real good under pressure,
Being all that I can be.

Nicole had always said money was never a motivator for her. She did her job because she loved helping and protecting people. She talked about how she always knew that was her role in the world. She had the skills and to do anything else was a disservice.

And I can't call in sick on Mondays
When the weekends been too strong,
I just work straight through the holidays,
And sometimes all night long.
You can bet that I stand ready
When the wolf growls at the door,
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady,
Hey I'm true down to the core.

Nicole never seemed to let her personal life interfere with her duty. She always “went were the danger was” and took it head on. She said it was something she always did. She said it was something you can’t be taught. It was just something you were.

And I will always do my duty,
No matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost,
I know the sacrifice.
Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dyin's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free.

Waverly shuddered.

I'm an American soldier, an American,
Beside my brothers and my sisters
I will proudly take a stand,
When liberty's in jeopardy
I will always do what's right,
I'm out here on the front lines,
So you can sleep in peace tonight.
American soldier, I'm an American,
American soldier,
An American

Waverly knew Nicole would never turn her back on her country and it's people if they needed her. It scared her to death, but it also made her love Nicole even more. The thought of it all stuck in Waverly’s head, even as other songs continued to play. She didn’t know how long she sat there listening before she was torn from her thoughts. A certain warmth entered the room as well as the scent of cinnamon. It was almost like the gravity in the room changed. Waverly exhaled deeply and relaxed a bit, closing her eyes. Nicole was here. Waverly knew without even seeing her. That’s what happened when Nicole was close to her. The world literally changed around her. A kiss was placed on the top of her head and she was picked up by her girlfriend, leaving the iPod and book behind. She was deposited onto the bed and followed down until Nicole was half on top of her. The kiss was slow and deep. It said more than any words could. It wasn’t about sex or arousal. It was about love and all that comes with it. Waverly unbuttoned Nicole’s shirt, needing to feel the skin underneath. Without breaking their kiss, Nicole’s uniform shirt was discarded and Waverly’s hands were moving up the expanse of Nicole’s abdomen. As if knowing Nicole’s needs before herself, Waverly rolled them over so their positions were now switched and she was straddling Nicole’s thighs and hips. Nicole broke the kiss for the first time to lift Waverly’s shirt over her head. Waverly leaned forward, her bare chest making contact with Nicole’s abs. Nicole’s hands worked their way up to Waverly’s ass and seemed content to stay there at the moment and Waverly expertly pulled Nicole’s sports bra off. Staying in this position a little longer, hands wandering up and down each other’s bodies, Nicole flipped them once again. After letting their positions settle, Nicole slid down and began kissing down Waverly’s body, stopping periodically. Down her neck, biting down lightly at her pulse point, continuing down to her breasts. Taking one nipple in her mouth, Nicole used her hand that wasn’t supporting her to caress the other breast, switching positions once before continuing down Waverly’s body. As she moved down, Nicole slowly inched Waverly’s sweats and panties down with her. A soft and intimate kiss was placed on Waverly’s center before Nicole slid her face back up to capture Waverly’s mouth with a kiss. As her face rose to meet Waverly’s, her fingers moved through her wet folds and waited at her entrance. At the exact same moment as their lips met, Nicole’s fingers slid into Waverly. The immediate response from Waverly’s body was a lift of her hip and a strong return, thrusting Nicole’s fingers further inside. It was slow, but powerful. Each thrust and kiss deeper than the last. Both women relishing in each other’s touch. Passion. That’s the best word to describe it. But even that wasn’t completely accurate. Nicole was the first to speak knowing Waverly was reaching her peak. “You are my everything.” Is all she said in a husky whisper. Then Waverly is clenching around her, every muscle in her body tightening as her orgasm ripped through her. Nicole eased her down and kissed her so delicately and with so much care. Waverly doesn’t remember what happened next. Next thing she remembers is waking up as Nicole’s little spoon. She pulled her girlfriend’s protective arm impossibly tighter around her and felt so secure and she felt Nicole’s embrace tighten around her. She laid there a moment before falling back asleep, thinking of the woman holding her. Thinking about how lucky she was that Nicole loved her. How lucky she was that Nicole let her love her. This amazing woman that would give up all of herself to save another was her's. And nothing in the world could be more perfect than this moment. Nicole wasn’t leaving. God/the universe has been so cruel to them already. It wouldn’t take Nicole away from her too. Everything was going to be okay. At the conclusion of that thought, Waverly drifted back to sleep.

She couldn’t help the fear and loneliness she felt in the morning when Nicole got out of bed to start her day. A sad whimper left her as Nicole’s body separated from her's. Nicole’s heart broke at the sound and she quickly grabbed her hoodie from yesterday from the desk chair. She carefully placed it in front of Waverly where it was quickly grabbed. Waverly clenched it, shoving her face into it, breathing in Nicole’s cinnamon scent. Her body never unclenched from that position. Her muscles stayed strained in that position until she woke up a few hours later. She was sore. Nicole’s absence made her sore. But she knew it was only temporary.

Waverly was popped out of her memory by the sound of water running through the old pipes of the house. Doc was probably taking a shower in the downstairs bathroom. She reluctantly sat up and gingerly stretched her extremities. After a few minutes of stretching and moving, Waverly finally got out of bed and headed to the shower, hoping the hot stream would alleviate some of her soreness.

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As Waverly arrived at the station, she couldn’t help but look around the empty bullpen. She absorbed it and all its simplicity. After taking those few moments for herself, she headed down the hall towards the BBD office. Half way down the hall, her sister steps out of the locker room door with wet hair and a towel in hand. Wynonna immediately noticed her sister walking down the hall, “Hey Babygirl!”

“Hey Nonna, surprised your still getting up early to train with Dolls and Nic.”

“Wave it’s only been 3 days…?”

“Exactly” Waverly replies with a laugh.

Wynonna takes it like a champ and throws an arm over her sister’s shoulders. They walk down the remainder of the hall to the Black Badge office and are greeted by fresh coffee and 2 pink boxes (presumably containing donuts). “What’s the occasion? Cause’ I’m pretty sure my birthday isn’t until January. Not that I won’t accept this early gift.” Wynonna said.

“No special occasion Earp, just thought it would be nice for everyone to actually get to eat a donut. Thus, requiring me to buy extra because you eat almost a whole box by yourself.” Dolls states without looking up from his laptop.

“And the coffee is nice because it means we don’t have to drink whatever the hell comes out of the machine here at the station.” Nicole quickly followed, also without looking up from the laptop.

“Well don’t you two make a cute couple.” Waverly said with a mocking smirk.

Nicole jumped up from her seat and strode over a few steps to Waverly. Taking her in her arms, Nicole leaned down slightly and kissed Waverly quickly before raising her head to look over at a scowling Wynonna.

“That’s my baby sister, Haught. Don’t make me shoot you for pissing me off before I have my coffee.” Wynonna said a little too calmly.

With that, Waverly kissed Nicole on the cheek and walked towards the table containing the coffee and donuts. Nicole looked back over at Wynonna to see the Earp heir giving her a knowing look. With an elbow to Nicole’s side, Wynonna followed her sister to the table. Nicole chuckled to herself and watched as a chipper Doc waltzed in, whistling a tune. The scene was perfect. Wave and Wynonna bickering over donuts, Dolls pretending to ignore them when he is actually listening quite closely. If you payed attention long enough, you could see the slight grin that would surface and then disappear over and over again on his face. Doc whistling as he grabbed a cup of coffee and added some liquid from his flask. To anyone else, it would look like chaos. But to Nicole, it was family and it was perfect.

Nicole’s phone vibrating indicating an incoming text brought her out of her thoughts. She pulled it out of her pocket and looked at the screen.

“Purgatory City Library. Geography Section. 15 min.”

The number was blocked and Nicole had to read it over a couple time to really understand it. The message was clear and she wanted to know who it was from. Who would go to the trouble of blocking their phone number to text a small-town sheriff’s deputy. She looked up to see if anyone had noticed but it seemed that no one had. She quietly made her way out of the room and out of the station. She needed to know what this was all about. But you know what they say…

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

Chapter Text

Nicole was at the library within 10 minutes of getting the text message. She took a moment before walking in to get her mind in order. After one final deep breath, she opened the doors to the library. As soon as she stepped through the doors, alarm bells went off in her head. She could feel eyes on her. She looked around for the source of her discomfort, but came up empty. For a library, the Purgatory City Library is relatively busy. It’s not as quiet or as empty as one would think. It took Nicole a moment to remember that the library had central heating, so people probably congregate here in search warmth. She scans the room again and several groups of people spread out around different tables. Some were construction workers, eating their lunches and talking amongst one another. There were some teenagers at another table texting on their phones and listening to music with headphones. Nicole assessed one more time before heading up the staircase towards the second-floor geography section. Once she arrived, she noticed the whole top floor was empty. She stood in the far corner of the large room, leaning against the wall. Although she looked outwardly relaxed, Nicole’s senses were on high alert. She waited a little longer before looking at her watch. It read 9:20am. It had been 15 minutes and whoever sent the message was a no show. She waited another 5 minutes before she took off to leave. She didn’t have time for dumbass pranks right now. As she departed out the library front doors, a strong hand grabbed her shoulder. Acting reflexively, she grabbed the hand and spun under it, pinning said hand (and the arm it was connected to) behind it’s owner’s back. Just as she is about to have the hold locked, her assailant kicked back his leg and Nicole was forced to break the hold in order to not get kicked. The man turned around, but before he could make another move, Dolls had him by the throat in a choke hold from behind. Nicole wasn’t sure which was more surprising, the appearance of the assailant or the appearance of Dolls.

“All right, all right. Relax! I won’t resist!” The man said as Dolls’ grip tightened and Doc pointed his gun at the man.

“Wait! When did Doc show up?” Nicole thought to herself. Before she could think further, the man’s voice kick started her long-term memory. She recognized the voice.

“Eli?”

“Haught.” The man said, almost as a question. “Wanna get your body guards here to release me?”

Nicole nodded at her friends and they released him, “What the hell are you doing here Eli?” Nicole said, no kindness in her tone.

“Why do you think I’m here?” Eli responded.

Nicole stepped forward into his personal space, “You should leave. You shouldn’t be here.” She said through gritted teeth and a look that could kill.

“C’mon Dallas, give me a chance.”

“Don’t call me that! You lost the right to call me that. I don’t want to see you again. Get a move on before I arrest you for assaulting a police officer.” Nicole stated with her fists balled up.

“I guess you can take the girl out of the military, but you can’t take the military out of the girl.” Eli said. He took a step back. “Lance Corporal.” He addressed her with a salute.

Nicole stood motionless, refusing to salute him back (an insult). After realizing there was no point. He simply nodded his head, placed a business card on the ground in front of him and walked away. Nicole didn’t take her eyes off of him until her was in his SUV and driving out of town. Once the car was out of sight, Doc spoke up, “Well that was a rather interesting meeting among old friends?”

“He is not a friend Doc.” Is all Nicole says before shaking her head and turning towards the two men. “Where did you guys come from?”

“Did you really think I didn’t notice your absence?” Dolls questioned.

Nicole’s eyes widened, “Shit, Waverly.”

“Don’t worry, we got them on their way with some paperwork before we came after you. They don’t know anything.” Doc reassures her.

Nicole lets out a deep breath, “I want a drink.”

“It’s not even 10 am Haught.” Dolls said.

“Fine, then I want to go shoot something.”

“I guess a little extra target practice today won’t do us any harm. Doc, mind getting the Earp girls and meeting us there?” Although it was phrased as a question, Nicole and Doc both knew Dolls’ line was anything but.

“I will be on my way then.” Doc said with a tip of his hat. He walked down Main Street until he turned and was out of sight.

Nicole and Dolls walked across the street to his black SUV. “You mind if we make a pit stop on our way there?” Nicole asked as they entered the car. The engine turned over and off they went.

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Wynonna, Doc and Waverly stood talking near Waverly’s jeep as Dolls’ SUV pulled up. Nicole exited the passenger door and walked around to the back to retrieve her gear. Once the back was closed and Nicole pat the metal twice, Dolls took off driving. After about two minutes, he stopped and got out of the vehicle. He then pulled out a couple of stakes and shoved them into the ground. Then he went back to the SUV and retrieved a couple of melons, shoving them atop the stakes. He then jumped back into his SUV and drove back towards the group. Once he got out of the SUV, he pulled out a scope and walked towards them. The three looked at him in confusion only to have their attention pulled away by the sound of a zipper. They turned to see Nicole pulling out a long barreled rifle. She wasted no time inserting a loaded magazine in and taking position on the ground.

“Distance?” Nicole asked, looking down the scope of her rifle.

“17 hundred meters, give or take” Dolls replied. “How long has it been since you’ve done this?”

“At this distance, 8 or 9 years probably. But I haven’t shot anything like this since coming to Purgatory. Professionally or otherwise.”

“Wait you’re gonna try and shoot those… from here? 1700 meters is far, right?” Wynonna asked, astonished.

“Just over a mile.” Waverly said without looking at her sister. Her complete focus on Nicole. Nicole mentioned that she was a marksman, but this was not what she was expecting.

“Wind is a nonfactor. Temperature is optimal. Green light.” Dolls said.

Before anyone could contemplate the meaning of what he said, Nicole pulled the trigger. The shot hit the melon and it exploded. The noise made the group jump. Luckily, they had the forethought to put on ear protection earlier. They all stood there a moment in silence.

“Holy shit!” Wynonna yelled.

“Hit!” Dolls called out.

Nicole reloaded in .5 seconds, the sound of metal on metal filling the air. Another shot. Another exploding melon.

“Hit! Change in wind speed, adjust Haught!”

Another shot. Another piece of combusting fruit.

“Hit!”

Nicole finally peaked her head up and flicked the safety on the rifle. She stood up and patted the front of her pants as she looked down range.

“You were a little high on that second shot.” Dolls directed at Nicole.

“It’s been a while. Cut me some slack.”

Nicole turned to find Waverly, Wynonna and Doc staring wide eyed at her. “Marksman my ass Nic, that was crazy!” Waverly said.

“I’m sorry.” Nicole said simply. Worry coloring her eyes.

“Sorry? For what? That was really cool. Kinda intense, but still cool.” Waverly reassured her.

“I have to admit, that was mighty impressive Officer.” Doc said.

Wynonna seemed a little speechless for once. She kept opening and closing her mouth, as if to speak, but couldn’t. After it was clear that Wynonna was not going to say anything, Dolls motioned towards Nicole’s rifle with his head. Nicole simply nodded and he took position behind it. As he set himself up, Waverly took the opportunity to walk over to Nicole and wrap an arm around her waist. Nicole instinctually wrapped an arm over Waverly’s shoulders and turned to watch Dolls take two shots. Both hit targets in rapid succession. After once again clicking the safety, Dolls rose from his position. Finally, Wynonna broke her silence, turning to Nicole, “Where have you been all my life?! What the hell Haughtshot! You never told me you were a sniper!”

“I’m not” Nicole replied.

“Um… did you not see yourself just now? You’ve got some major skills.” Wynonna countered.

“Wyn, shooting was a hobby growing up in my house. I learned the trade from my father. It’s not a job. I never wanted to shoot anything besides targets or the occasional deer or bear.”

“Okay, but still. That was awesome. You have got to teach me someday.” Wynonna said excitedly.

Waverly didn’t miss the subtle implication of Nicole’s final sentence, “I never WANTED to shoot anything besides targets or the occasional deer or bear.” She squeezed her girlfriend at the hips and gave her a smile. At that, the day continued. They spent an hour or so more, shooting cans, before they packed everything up. Dolls and Nicole went back to Purgatory Self Storage (so Nicole could lock her rifle back in the safe in her unit). Doc, Waverly and Wynonna headed back to the BBD office.

“Did you know Haughtshot could shoot like that?” Wynona asked as she walked into the station.

“I knew she could shoot, but all that we just saw was more than just shooting.” Waverly replied.

“Does that scare you?” Wynonna asked, slightly concerned.

“Of course not. Actually, it makes me feel a little safer. We could use these skills when hunting the Revenants. Her skills could keep us all safer. I just wonder why she hasn’t shown them off until now. She seemed a little on edge out there. She was fine this morning. Great even. But she seemed a little… I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.”

“Your girlfriend probably just wanted to turn you on with all her badass skills.” Wynonna said with a smirk.

“Nonna!”

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“I’m sure you want to know what that was all about earlier.” Nicole said as they drove towards the station.

“Normally Haught, I don’t want to get in your personal business.” Dolls said.

“But…” Nicole interrupted.

“But, I looked him up. That business card he left was from Whitereef. It’s one of the biggest military contractors in the world.” Dolls looked over at Nicole. “But I’m sure you already know that.”

“I do. Eli Abrams was a member of my unit during my first tour. He um… he was dishonorably discharged once we got home. I haven’t seen him since, until today.” Nicole paused, “White reef has approached me a few times since coming back home. But I never could figure out how they knew so much about me. I guess I know now. Eli knows about my skill set and a lot about me from when I first started out. He knows my strengths, as well as my failures and weaknesses. I’m sure he was here to talk to me about Whitereef, but I want nothing to do with him or that company. He is not a friend Dolls, he is an enemy. Just as bad as the ones who shoot at us overseas.”

Dolls pulls into a parking spot by the back door of the station. “Nicole, you shouldn’t worry about him. He won’t get near them. You and I, and hell even Doc, won’t let that happen. Waverly and Wynonna will be safe.”

“I honestly don’t believe he would try and hurt them, but I still don’t want him here. He only brings trouble. Then again, I haven’t known him in a long time. People change.” Nicole stated as the got out of the SUV.

“They certainly do, but Nicole.” Dolls stopped, “You changed for the better, don’t let anyone tell you differently. You live your life. Forget about the rest. Got it?”

“Yeah.”

They walked into the station and began discussing the next Revenant on their list as if the previous conversation never happened.

Chapter Text

Everyone seemed to have their routine. And things were going smoothly… for the most part. Every morning (except Sundays), Wynonna got up early and worked out with Nicole and Dolls. After that, Nicole and Wynonna would do their own, separate training, consisting of sparring, core workouts and general conditioning. After showers, the whole team would gather in the BBD office and get a morning briefing. After that, they went about their day of hunting down the demons terrorizing the Ghost River Triangle. At the end of the work day, they all regrouped at Shorty’s and relaxed. They went about this routine for weeks.

It was a Friday night, and the team found themselves in their usual spot at Shorty’s. Dolls was drinking a coffee, Wynonna and Doc were arguing over a bottle of whiskey and Waverly was drinking some red wine. Nicole stood leaning against the bar at the other end. Gus walked over to her, concern evident in her eyes. “Shouldn’t you be over there with your people?” Gus asked her. It took Nicole a moment to notice that Gus was talking to her. She shook her head and nodded at Gus.

“I will go over in a minute. I’m just… enjoying the view right now.”

Gus looked down at Nicole’s glass, noticing it was water. “Although I have never colored you as a big drinker, I admit I have noticed your lack of alcohol consumption recently.” Gus looked back up at Nicole’s face. “Any reason that may be?”

“Life is better sober. Drinking numbs out the pain and guilt, but it also numbs out the good feelings too. I want to remember this time without anything else influencing me. I want to remember the car ride karaoke battles with the girls, I want to remember the games of cards I play with Doc, even the ones where I know he is cheating. I want to remember nights like this. The normal stuff. The things that make my life worth living.” Nicole said, never taking her eyes off the group, a soft smile on her face.

Gus looked at her and her heart melted just a little bit more for Nicole Haught. She knew from day 1 that she would like the young officer and when she figured out Waverly and Nicole liked each other, she was the first one to push them in the right direction. She looked at Nicole and thought about how much Curtis would have loved her. How proud he would have been of Waverly, for choosing someone that deserved her. At that, Gus pat Nicole on the hand before yelling up at the bartender working the counter, “Billy, I’m leaving for the night. Someone makes a mess, clean it up. My bar better damn well be here when I come back tomorrow.” Although Doc technically owned the bar, everyone knew Shorty’s was Gus’ pony and no one dared to mess with it.

“Yes ma’am” Billy responded. “Have a good night Mrs. McCready.”

At that Gus tapped Nicole on the shoulder, “We are getting out of here and eating a real meal. Get those idiots into your car and meet me at the homestead.”

“All of them?” Nicole asked surprised.

“You're right, I’ll take Waverly and the Deputy Marshal. You get those drunks [pointing at Wynonna and Doc] back to the homestead. I would recommend locking them in the back seat.”

“Alright” Nicole responded. She was a little confused, but she wasn’t stupid enough to argue with Gus.

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After getting everyone back to the homestead, Gus started making dinner. It was obvious that she had stopped at the store on the way there as she moved around the kitchen with ease. An hour passed and by that point, the group was gathered outside on the porch. Nicole sat in a rocking chair with Waverly on her lap, Gus and Doc next to them in separate chairs. Wynonna and Dolls across the railing. Everyone had plates of food and were eating and talking. It was perfect. All of them, eating on the porch, talking and laughing about god knows what. Nicole was happy. She looked over at Gus and could see her happiness mirrored on the older woman’s face. They looked at one another and winked before returning their attention back to their food. After almost an hour and several servings of food, Nicole got up from her seat (with some slight protest from Waverly who was still sitting on her lap). She gathered some plates and took them to the kitchen, followed by Gus with more.

“Thank you Gus.”

“Darlin’ I have wanted to do this for years now. You just gave me an incentive to actually do it. We should do this more. It’s really important. You reminded me of that. I should be the one thanking you.”

Before Nicole could respond, Waverly called out for her, “Nicole!” The terror clear in her voice. Nicole dropped the dishes in the sink and ran out with Gus to see what was wrong. As she emerged from the house, she saw what had Waverly concerned. A grey SUV was coming up the long driveway of the homestead. Nicole instinctually grabbed for her sidearm, unbuttoning the holster strap.

“Gus, get everyone inside. Please.” Nicole said in an all too familiar tone. She was in cop protection mode.

“Like hell…!” Wynonna tried to argue, but she was silenced by the look on Dolls’ face. As soon as the SUV came to a stop, the front door closed and locked. Only Nicole and Dolls remained on the porch. Two men and a woman in uniform emerged from the vehicle. Nicole recognized the woman and one of the men. She looked at Dolls and then back at the trio coming towards them.

“Lance Corporal Haught?” The unknown man asked.

“What can I do for you?” Nicole responded. Eyeing the trio with a stern look.

“The town sheriff told us we could find you here. We are here on official business.” The familiar male soldier stated.

Nicole nodded her head and relaxed a bit, as did Dolls. The trio approached and gave the customary greeting. “Lance Corporal Haught, you have been requested by General Edwards. The General requests your service for an immediate matter.” At this, Nicole noticed the folder in the female soldier’s hands. The unknown soldier, who Nicole now knows as Lieutenant James gives a curt nod before thanking her for her time. He walks away leaving Nicole and Dolls with the two familiar soldiers.

“At ease.” Nicole commanded and the two soldiers relaxed in front of her.

“Liz… Mike, what are you doing here?” Nicole said, a little less sternly.

Mike walked forward and brought Nicole into a half hug. “We wanted you to have some friendly faces when requested. We thought it might help. Plus, we miss you. We haven’t seen you in years.” He said.

Nicole turned to Dolls, “Dolls, these are members of my old unit. PFC Elisabeth Farrell and Private Mike Green.” Nicole motioned to the pair.

Dolls shook their hands, “Captain Xavier Dolls, US Navy retired.”

“It’s a pleasure Sir.” Mike said.

“And please call me Liz. The only person that doesn’t is my mother” Liz commented with a smile.

After a moment of silence, Dolls excused himself to go inside the house. Once they were alone, Liz stepped forward and grabbed Nicole into a hug. “I’ve missed you. There has been way too much testosterone in the barracks and I can only stand it for so long.” Liz said with a smile.

Nicole chuckled and embraced her back, “I’m sure you are doing just fine.” Nicole pulled back and looked down at the file in Liz’s hand. “So, are you going to brief me on the situation or am I going to have to read that whole thing by myself?”

At this, Liz handed Nicole the folder and they began to walk away from the house. Once they were sure they were out of earshot, Nicole opened the folder and Mike began to speak. As he did, Nicole looked through the file that was filled with photos and reports. It made her sick to her stomach. What she was seeing and reading was worse than she had ever experienced. She felt that tug that she had felt all those years ago. She knew she couldn’t ignore it. Mike eventually stopped talking and Nicole spoke up, “How old are these photos?”

“2 weeks.” Liz responded as she handed Nicole a contract and a pen. They knew her well. They knew she couldn’t say know after looking at the file. She signed it, without another word and handed it back to Liz with the file.

“There is a flight out of Calgary, leaves at 6am Monday. It’s a direct flight to MCB Camp Lejeune.” Mike handed her a cellphone, a laptop and another file folder. “In the folder is a ticket for that flight as well as an itinerary. Once you touchdown, someone will be there with further instructions. You know the drill. The laptop has copies of everything you just read and a secure email account for you to use. Cellphone as well. Number is programmed into the contacts. Both of our numbers are in there too.”

Nicole nodded, “Just like old times, right? Same old, same old.”

Mike turned to walk away but turned around quickly one last time, “And Dallas?”

Nicole looked at him. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t what you wanted.” He said. With that he walked back to the SUV.

Liz embraced Nicole again and whispered into her ear, “I am so sorry Nicole. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. But I will see you next week. We can talk.” Liz broke the hug and began to walk away.

“You gonna tell me how long you’ve been back?” Nicole shouted.

“I will next week when we meet back in the States!” Liz shouted back with a smile, “I will see you soon Dallas!”

And with that, they drove off the homestead and down the road. Nicole watched the SUV until it was out of sight. After that, she just stood there. Not wanting to move. After a couple of minutes, she put the laptop, file and phone down on the ground and she sat down where she stood. She sat there and looked at the very end of the sun setting. She thought about her life here in Purgatory, her job, her family. She thought about how two days ago, Canada had officially entered into an alliance with the US against this group. Once she got that news, it changed everything. This was no longer about protecting just the citizens of America. This was now about protecting her family too. The likelihood that they would be affected is slim, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters at this very moment, nothing except protecting them. Another moment passes before Nicole lets those thoughts go and focuses on the sounds of the night critters coming to life.

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Waverly, Wynonna and Gus watched from the front window of the house in silence. Well, silence except for Wynonna’s occasional threat to send them to hell if they some much as look at the redhead the wrong way. Once the first soldier left, Waverly noticed Nicole relax a bit. Waverly hoped this was a good thing. Her aunt had been holding her hand since they went inside, occasionally giving reassuring squeezes. But if Waverly was being honest, she could feel anything. Her only focus was her girlfriend standing outside. The male soldier hugged Nicole lightly and she seemed okay with it. It looks as though Nicole introduces Dolls to these not so strangers. Dolls leaves them after a handshake and a few words and enters the house. Closing the door behind him, he isn’t prepared for what happens next. Wynonna flings herself at him, pinning against the door with both hands on his chest. “What do they want?! They can’t take her! Who are they?!”

“Earp,” Dolls lightly pushes her back a step, “The two remaining are members of her old unit. From what I could gather, they are friendlys. What they are talking to Haught about is only for her to share. You will have to wait for her.” Dolls nodded at the three woman and Doc before heading into another room to make a phone call.

Waverly heard what was said but her eyes never left Nicole. Waverly is surprised when the female soldier breaks her composure and hugs Nicole tightly. Waverly is even more surprised when Nicole doesn’t pull away and even hugs her back. After that, the three seem to move away from the house more and they seem to hand Nicole some things after she signed a packet of paper. Waverly hears the woman call Nicole “Dallas” as she walks to the grey SUV. They leave, but Nicole just stands there. She doesn’t move for almost 15 minutes. Once she finally does move, she’s placing the items on the ground and she is sitting down on the gravel. Waverly wants to go outside to Nicole, but she thinks the better of it when Gus squeezed her had once again. Waverly sighs and sits down on the couch next to her sister. Gus follows and hugs both of her girls tight. They stay that way until they hear Nicole’s cruiser door open and shut. A few minutes later, Nicole enters the house with an unreadable expression on her face.

“You alright there, Officer Haught?” Doc asked, knowing the answer already.

“I am fine, I just got to talk to you all about something. If that’s okay?” Nicole says.

Dolls reenters the room at that moment, “Go ahead.” He sat down in the love seat and looked at her.

At this, Nicole told them what was said and what was going on. She explained who those people were and why they came. It wasn’t easy, but she got through it and took a deep breath once she finished.

“I am so sorry Nicole.” Gus said.

“Gus, it’s not like that. This isn’t what I wanted to happen, but it has. So, I will deal with it accordingly. As of right now, there is no reason to get upset. There is a possibility that this could all be over before my team is even cleared for duty. Until that happens, I want to enjoy life and not worry about it, at least until I have to.”

At that, Wynonna turned on the TV and everyone settled in to watch. Well, everyone except Waverly, who was staring at Nicole. Nicole flicked her head and Waverly stood to follow her up the stairs. Once inside their bedroom with the door closed, Nicole’s body seemed to fail her. She fell onto the bed facedown, body limp. Waverly slowly got on the bed and laid next to Nicole. After several silent minutes, Waverly felt Nicole’s hand grab hers and interlock their fingers. Waverly looked over to see her girlfriend staring at her with concerned filled eyes. Nicole rolled onto her side and Waverly flipped to she was now curling into her girlfriend’s chest. Nicole’s heart is beating hard but steady. Nicole places a finger under Waverly’s chin to get her to look at her.

“It’s okay Waves. You are allowed to feel something. Please don’t hide your feelings like you always have. At least, not from me.” At that, a single tear fell from Waverly’s eye. Nicole knew the flood gates were opening and she wrapped her girlfriend up into her tightly. Waverly started to sob and she shook hard in Nicole’s arms. They stayed in this position until Waverly fell asleep. Nicole picked her up and tucked her into the covers. She kissed her on the head and walked out the bedroom and down the stairs.

The sight she encountered when she stepped into the living room was amazing. Gus was asleep in the love seat, Doc was asleep on the ground in front of her. Dolls and Wynonna were asleep together on the couch, Wynonna using Dolls’ arm as a pillow. Nicole smiled and waited a moment longer before making her way out the front door. Once outside, she plopped herself down on the porch step, looking at the stars above. It was truly beautiful. She was interrupted from her thoughts minutes later when Wynonna exited the front door and sat down beside her. They sat in silence for a while until Nicole finally spoke. She had so much in her head and in her heart that she had to say, but it just wouldn’t come out.

“I can’t.” Is all that she could let out.

Chapter Text

“I can’t” Nicole choked out again.

“Nicole, you can’t what?” Wynonna asked as she inched a bit closer to her friend.

“I can’t ask her, not now. I love her Wyn. How am I supposed to ask her to spend forever with me when I know that we may never get the chance? Waverly would never forgive me. I would never forgive myself.” At the mention of Waverly’s name, tears began to stream down Nicole’s face. She couldn’t stand the feeling growing inside her right now. It begged for release. She was a tight coil of heartache and she was about to snap.

Wynonna knew this. She had been here before. Her’s was because of the loss of her sister and the accidental death of her father. After years of pain and suffering, she found solace in the bottom of the whiskey bottle. Knowing that feeling, Wynonna’s heart broke for Nicole (and her sister). Wynonna wasn’t a hugger (except with her little sister), but she quickly grabbed Nicole and pulled her into her side. Nicole began to sob and Wynonna herself started to shed some tears. She wanted to do something to change the situation, but there was truly nothing she could do. She held her friend, praying that if there was a god, that he would help. But she knew it was futile. Nothing would change this. They sat there and wallowed for a while. Finally, Nicole leaned up and wiped her wet face.

“I’m sorry Wyn. I know you have got your own stuff going on.” Nicole said sheepishly. Shame started to form on her features.

“You have nothing to apologize for.”

“I need you to do something for me.” Nicole quickly said.

“Name it.”

“Look out for Waverly.” Nicole said. She looked up and saw the look on Wynonna’s face. The look that says I already do that. Nicole clarified, “I mean, protect her… even from me.”

Wynonna looked at her, a mixture of surprise and sadness washed over her face. “You really think you would hurt Waverly?”

“Never intentionally. And of course, never physically. But I’ve come to learn that words, even the ones unspoken, can do more damage than any hit.” Nicole took a deep breath, “Wynonna, please, promise me.”

Wynonna had a look on her face that Nicole couldn’t place. But after a moment, Nicole knew what it was. Pain. It didn’t leave the Earp heirs features until after she responded with an, “Okay. I will. I promise.”

At that, Wynonna clapped her hands on her knees and stood up from the steps. “I need a drink. Goodnight Haughtstuff. See you tomorrow.”

“Hey, if you want, we can still train together before I leave. I want to help you more… if that’s still what you want.”

“I’d like that. Bright and early tomorrow morning?” Wynonna asked with a small smile.

“Yup, but… instead of going to the station. Let’s train in the barn tomorrow.” Nicole said.

“Okay? G’night Haughtstuff.” Wynonna said as she closed the front door behind her.

“Night Wyn.” Nicole whispered as she looked out, once again, at the stars.


An hour later, Nicole returned to bed to find a sleeping Waverly. Nicole’s heart squeezed as she looked at her girlfriend, curled up with Nicole’s pillow, snoring lightly. Nicole quickly and quietly removed her shirt and switched out her panties for a pair of boxers. Clad in just a pair of boxers and a sports bra, Nicole climbed into bed with Waverly. The moment Nicole laid down, Waverly sleepily, scurried towards her, curling herself up into Nicole’s chest. Nicole felt Waverly’s warmth spread around her body. She smiled for the first time since hearing the news. As she drifted off to sleep, she thought about the woman sleeping with her. The woman that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She didn’t think about the outside world or all the shit going on. No. She just thought about them.


Waverly woke up the next morning like all the others, empty bed. She got up and went about her routine. Once she made it downstairs, she could hear the commotion coming from the barn. Doc was in the downstairs bathroom, shower running, so it wasn’t him. Senses becoming very alert (impressive given her lack of morning coffee), Waverly grabbed her sawed off shotgun and exited the house, heading towards the barn doors. As she neared, she recognized Nicole’s and Wynonna’s voices. She peaked her head in to see the two going at each other, fist to fist. Although their hands were wrapped, neither was wearing much protection. Nicole wasn’t wearing any while Wynonna was at least wearing a foam head protector. Waverly stayed silent as she observed them, Nicole coaching Wynonna as they went. Finally, Nicole close lined Wynonna, but used her other hand to catch the elder Earp before she could collide hard with the ground. Nicole pulled Wynonna up and released her to grab a water bottle from the work bench. Both seemed exhausted and simultaneously plopped down on the ground in unison. After several moments of silence filled with the sound of panting and the gulping of water, Wynonna spoke, “How do you keep it up? How do you keep fighting like that and never give up the advantage?”

“Now that I can’t actually teach you Earp.” Nicole said.

“What? Why not?”

“Because its different for everyone. For me, when I fight, I find my motivation in my loved ones. When I fight, I treat every fight like I’m fighting for my family. For Waverly. For you. For Doc and Dolls and Gus. That’s what I am fighting for and that’s what I have to lose if I quit. I will never stop fighting for that and it keeps me going. I would do anything to protect those I love. I use that instinct and apply it to my fighting techniques. But that is something I can’t teach you. That’s got to come from within you. I see how much you love Waves, I see how you are always looking out for her, always ready to jump up and protect her. Use that. Treat every fight like you are fighting for her. You can have all the training in the world, but at the end of the day, the better fighter is the one who has the most to lose.” Nicole said sincerely.

Wynonna nodded her head before shaking it and commenting, “There’s my bumper sticker!”

They both chuckled and Waverly took this as her opportunity to make her presence known. She walked towards them (leaving the shotgun by the door) and sat down on Nicole’s lab. “Glad to know I got people fighting for me.” Waverly said with a smirk, but her voice conveyed her gratitude.

“Yup, you’ve practically got your own army.” Nicole said with a smile, ignoring the small pull in her stomach. “Hey, I gotta run into town to get some stuff. Want me to pick up breakfast at the diner on my way back?”

“Or we could get ready quick and go with you. I wouldn’t mind stopping by Shorty’s. I forgot to grab my jacket from Gus’ office last night.” Waverly said.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind either. Diner food is always better when you eat it there. Plus, free refills.” Wynonna added.

“Alright then. Let’s go get ready.” Nicole said enthusiastically as she got up off the ground.


The three drove to the diner in Waverly’s jeep. They exited the SUV and made it inside, talking about what they wanted to order. Apparently, Wynonna thought talking about how hungry she was would make the food come faster. They all made light conversation as they slid into a booth and looked over the menus. Waverly already knew what she wanted, so she took the opportunity too discretely observe her girlfriend sitting next to her. Little did she know, Wynonna also knew what she wanted and was discretely studying her sister from across the table. This lasted for a few minutes before Nicole finally spoke up, “So are you two gonna stop creeping and flag down a waitress, or… do you want to continue this whole pretend to look at the menu but actually stare at other people thing?”

“So much for being discreet.” Both Earp sisters thought to themselves as they both looked at their menus to cover their embarrassment.

Wynonna was the first to respond, “Okay, that was like super ninja Haughtskills. How did we not see this before? I should have known you were some like badass super soldier spy.”

Nicole laughs, “I’m not a badass super soldier spy or whatever you just called me. I was a soldier… am a soldier. But my skills regarding you Earps… that has nothing to do with my training. Most of my skills didn’t start with the military. But the military just allowed me to utilize them before becoming a cop.”

“So, I am not one to beat around the bush…” Wynonna started.

“You definitely are NOT.” Waverly interrupted.

“SO, I am just going to come out and ask. What is going on with you? Why not tell us about your past until now?” Wynonna finished while shooting her sister a glare.

Nicole opens her mouth to speak, but is interrupted by the waitress arriving at their table with their food. As they ate, Nicole explained that it just didn’t seem relevant for her to mention it. Neither sister is really buying this excuse, but they allow Nicole the chance to change their mind. Nicole was still talking when she stopped mid-sentence and paused. Both sisters paused their eating and looked up at Nicole. Nicole looks like she has a lightbulb moment before she speaks again. “Hey, I um… think this would be easier to explain if I just… show you.” The rare nervousness of Nicole’s speech is alarming. She then stands from the booth, “Finish eating and when you are done, mind meeting me at Purgatory Self Storage?”

Both sisters nod but have matching warry looks on their faces. Nicole leans down into the booth and kisses Waverly on the forehead before smiling and walking out of the diner. The sisters exchange a look before going back to their breakfast. Once they finished, both stood up and walked to the front register to pay. Patty, their waitress, spoke up as Waverly pulled out her wallet, “Not necessary Doll. You’re covered.”

“What? No Patty, you can’t let us eat on the house.” Waverly said, only to receive an elbow to her ribs from her sister and a look that said Waves? Why are you tuning down free food?

Patty gave them a confused look before realizing what was going on, “No Doll, your breakfast wasn’t on me. That cop girl of yours paid your bill on her way out earlier.”

“But we ordered coffee after she left. At least let me pay for that.” Waverly negotiated.

“Nope, Officer Haught DEFINITELY covered the extra expense when she paid.” Patty said with enthusiasm.

Waverly smiled, knowing Nicole must have paid for their meal and some and still left enough to give Patty her biggest tip of the day. Waverly thanked Patty and wished her good day. The sisters left the diner, hopped into the red jeep and drove to the self-storage facility (although it wasn’t really necessary. The facility is only 3 blocks from the diner). They jump out and enter the facility, walking up the hall of units until they happen upon a unit with the door cracked open. Waverly knocked on the ajar door, “Nic?”

“Y- yeah, come on in.” Nicole tries to say casually, but she fails to hide the slight, nervous shake in her voice.

When Waverly and Wynonna enter the unit, they aren’t prepared for what they encounter. There are cardboard boxed stacked up against the back wall labeled “Texas”. This is normal for a storage unit. But everything else is not. The left wall is lined with a rather large safe and a long table. On the table, two large, brown duffle bags. Both have Haught N stitched on the sides and a fair amount of wear-and-tear. Also on the table, a few file boxes that look like they haven’t been touched in years and a light brown/tan camo backpack. Based on the lack of dust on the backpack’s fabric, it was recently moved there. On the other side of the unit, Nicole sits in a chair next to a desk. What surprised Waverly the most is the desk itself. It is a simple black desk with a rather large filing cabinet underneath. On top sits two large computer monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, and a stack of pictures splayed out. Waverly immediately looked at the pictures laid out on the desk and the few that are framed on the wall as wall. She was not completely sure what she is looking at and the confusion must have showed on her face because Nicole was quickly up on her feet and at her side.

“So, you want to know what I did for the military and you want to know more about my past. Well I think I have proven that I’m not very good at talking about it. So, this is my solution…” Nicole cleared her throat and began, pointing up at a framed picture on the wall above her desk, “This is a picture of my unit. On the left, that’s Liz. She was the woman that came to the Homestead yesterday. There’s me in the middle and on the right, that’s Mike. He was also here yesterday.”

“Who’s the one taking the photo. Not to harsh his vibe, but he kinda got his finger in the picture.” Wynonna said, pointing at the small mark of pink that colored the very corner of the photo.

Nicole stiffened a bit but answered honestly, “That’s Eli, he was a member of our unit, our team leader and commanding officer during our first tour. He was kicked out once we got home and he was lucky he didn’t get anything worse than a dishonorable discharge. He was replaced by Captain Andy Walker for our second tour. Andy is a great person and soldier. He fit right in with his new unit and we worked even better than before.” Nicole said pointing at a couple different group pictures of her unit.

Waverly studied the photos like evidence. She focused first on Nicole. God, she is young in these photos. She looks like a kid almost. And the more Waverly thought about it, the more she realized that Nicole was. Nicole was 17 years old when she enlisted. She was a teenager. A little part of Waverly’s heart broke at the thought. Although Nicole is smiling in the photos, Waverly can’t help the sadness it showed. She was in combat to get away from her life at home, instead of going to parties, hanging out with friends and doing normal high school stuff. Waverly looked at Nicole’s face in one photo and compared it to another. Nicole mentioned that the first was right after they got deployed and the one next to it was taken sometime during the tail end of that same tour. It is almost alarming how aged Nicole looks in the second photo. Waverly admits, Nicole looks amazing and beautiful in all the photos, but there was a heaviness to her features in the second photo. How could so much change after only months? What had she seen to cause such a change? Waverly pushed the thought from her brain, knowing that if she continued that thought, she might either puke or start crying. Nicole was pointing out another photo now and Waverly’s attention is brought back to her girlfriend.

Chapter Text

“This is Laura” Nicole said with a smile as she pulled a picture from the desk. “She was 6 when this picture was taken. Her father was a Pakistani soldier that was helping our boys in another territory. Because he was gone, there was no one to protect Laura and her mother. Her village was practically burned to the ground after a particularly ugly raid took place. My team as well as a few others were dispatched to do what we could. It was my first assignment in the region. We arrived early one morning and started searching the houses (or what was left of them) for survivors and to assess the damage. I was searching a small home when I heard a little cry come from a back room of the house. I drew my weapon and went to investigate. What I found was a woman and her young child, shaking and crying. They were pinned in between what looked like a dresser and the steel frame of a bed. I pulled the bed out of the way to get to them. But as soon as I started to get close, they began to shake and cry even harder. I stopped with my hands up and pleaded with them to come with me, telling them I was not a threat.” Nicole pauses. “Her mother wasn’t sure of me, but Laura…” Nicole laughed “she shot up and hugged me at my legs so tight. I picked her up, noticing the bruises and burns on her arms and legs. I asked her mother to come with me. To my surprise, she responded to me in English. Apparently, her and her daughter both spoke it. I carried Laura outside to the Humvee, her mother right behind us. I let them both lay in the back as I treated their burns and cuts. After finally getting them to a place where they seemed more comfortable, they began to open up to me. I spent the next 4 weeks in their village. We rebuilt homes, dug new wells and provided medical treatment to the best our our abilities. The locals embraced us as much as they could, still warry of outsiders (especially Americans). We worked with them to rebuild the village and after the first three weeks, we were almost done rebuilding. While we worked, Laura’s mother would talk to me, tell me about their history and about her husband. She talked about how she had a daughter, Laura’s older sister. She had died in a car accident one year prior. Laura didn’t remember her, I guess it was better that way. When I wasn’t working, Laura would ask me to hang out with her. We would play cards, sing, dance and we even got some other kids to join in for a game of soccer once a day. Laura and her mother would make me all my meals (although it was completely unnecessary) and let Liz and I stay with them at nights. They started to teach us Urdu. We weren’t there long, but they taught us some key phrases and words. They treated us like friends and even family. Laura was particularly attached to me though and the feeling was very mutual. She was an amazing young girl. She just had this light that she always brought with her. That smile… it just… it made me believe that everything was going to be okay and there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. Laura clutched on to me so hard the day we had to leave the village. She cried and cried and it took all I had not to grab her back and cry too. It felt like leaving a piece of my heart behind. It took Liz grabbing my shoulder for me to walk away.” Nicole shook her head and looked away at a couple other photos of her and Laura. Some of them with Liz or with a beautiful woman that Waverly presumed to be Laura’s mother. But the majority of the photos were just Nicole and Laura, laughing or singing or looking for flowers. There is even a photo of Laura on top of Nicole’s shoulders, both of them with the biggest grins on their faces.

 

“Look Wave isn’t going to ask so I will. What’s up with this Liz girl? You seem very close in these photos and she was awful touchy at the Homestead yesterday.” Wynonna says as she squints at a photo of Nicole and Liz in a humvee.

 

“We were really close, yeah?” Nicole responded.

 

“She play for your team? Is she an ex of yours? Cause that might be a problem for Waves here.” Wynonna asked, pointing at Waverly who looks like she doesn’t want to be in the middle of this.

 

“Um… yeah, she is a lesbian the last time I checked. If that’s what your asking? Does it matter? Just because two lesbians are in the same room doesn’t mean we are automatically attracted to each other. Are you hooking up with every man you see?” Nicole said with a confused look. But then, Nicole realizes what she asked and thought of Dolls and Doc. “So, no, she is not my ex. We have never been more than friends.”

 

Wynonna seems to accept this and move on to other photos. Nicole looked at Waverly and saw she was still staring at the picture of Laura on her shoulders. “Something wrong Waves?” Nicole asked, concerned by her girlfriend’s silence. Waverly looked around the photos and then at Nicole.

 

“What happened to them? After you left, I mean? Did you get to go back and see them again?” Waverly asked. She knew Nicole wouldn’t just leave and never return.

 

“We returned a month and a half later to drop off some supplies and hopefully gather some intel from some of the locals. We saw the smoke from a couple miles away. By the time we got there…” Nicole took a deep breath as she stared at the photo in her hands “the was nothing left besides the bodies. I searched for Laura and her mother for almost seven hours before I found her mom. She died in the house we had built all those months back. Her body was the only one I found in the rubble. I kept searching for Laura for another thirteen hours before Liz and Mike had to physically pull me away from the remains of the house. We searched again the following day, but found nothing. We were eventually forced to leave, there wasn’t anything more we could do. In all honesty, I think we did enough damage. As far as I know, Laura’s and several other bodies were never found. We left and moved on to our next assignment. We still interacted with the locals and helped in all the ways we could, but never the same way we did the first time. Nicole clutched the photo of her and Laura tightly in her hands. She seemed like she couldn’t look away, like she was leaving Laura all over again. Finally, she looked away from the photo and walked over to the backpack on the table. She placed the photo in the front pocket and zipped it shut. After a deep breath, Nicole returned to the other side of the room and started to identify people in the photos. She told some funny stories that made her smile a little and busted out laughing at a picture of Mike hanging out of a Super Huey helicopter.

 

Nicole finally looked at her watch and noticed the time, “Shit! I’m sorry. I didn’t realize the time, I didn’t want to take up your whole day. Let’s get out of here.”

 

“Don’t worry about it Red, I was actually enjoying myself over here. Next time, you’re going to let me see what you got locked up in that big safe of yours.” Wynonna said as she smiled and pointed at the safe across the room.

 

Nicole laughed a bit, “Sure Earp, maybe next time.” Nicole grabbed the backpack from the table across the room and headed for the door, holding it open for both Earp sisters to walk through before she closed the door and locked it.

 

They all walked to the car, Wynonna asking simple questions about certain stories or people. Once they were in the car, on their way back to the homestead, Waverly looked at Nicole in the backseat through the rear-view mirror. “So, why do they call you Dallas? Besides the fact that you are from there.”

 

“Well, um its mostly cause I’m from there. But also, because I kinda had a little bit of a southern drawl when I was young.” Nicole said with a blush.

 

“Had?” Waverly questioned with a smirk. She placed her eyes back on the road. Looking back at Nicole through the mirror, “It’s funny that you think I haven’t noticed that sexy southern accent of yours. Although you hide it well, it tends to come out when you’re drunk or tired. Lucky for me, I have seen you during both.” Waverly stated proudly with a seductive look on her face. “Oh, and there is one other time it seems to come out…”

 

“Um, Waves! No! Not while I’m in the car! I don’t want to hear about you and Red knocking boots, okay? No! Just no Baby girl!” Wynonna pleaded.

 

Waverly decided to take pity on her sister and changes the topic. By the time they got back the homestead, the sunset is about to start and the sky is a pale green and orange. The three depart from the red jeep and walk inside, Nicole still carrying her backpack. Nicole goes straight for the stair before turning around to look at the two sisters. “Hey Waves, Wyn,… thanks for coming with me today. It um…” Nicole nervously rubbed the back of her neck with her hand “…it meant a lot to me. Having you both there.”

 

“Of course.” They both said in unison before they stared at each other.

 

Waverly turned back to Nicole, “I’ll be up in a bit, okay? I’m just gonna get dinner started.”

 

Nicole nodded and walked up the stairs towards Waverly’s bedroom. Waverly went into the kitchen and got dinner into the oven before she headed upstairs. She opened her bedroom door to find Nicole fast asleep in bed. But the way Nicole was sleeping troubled Waverly a bit. Her hands were clenched into fists so tight that her fingers were white as snow. Waverly gently rubbed Nicole’s knuckles, whispering soothing words until the hands relaxed. Once satisfied that circulation had returned to Nicole’s fingers, Waverly exited the bedroom, carefully and quietly shutting the door behind her.

 

Waverly walked down stairs to see Wynonna in the kitchen. As if this wasn’t strange enough, Wynonna had even taken the pasta bake out of the oven. Waverly was astonished. The only times she’d seen her sister in here was to get more booze or coffee. Wynonna looked up from the pan to see her sister’s shocked face. “Oh, sorry. I just thought you might be busy with Haughtcommodity upstairs and I am starving.” Wynonna admitted sheepishly.

 

Waverly simply smiled at her sister, walked over to the pan and portioned out food on their plates. Both women walked with plates in hand to the porch. They sat in chairs next to each other. They ate in a comfortable silence. Once they finished, both set their empty plates and folks on the railing and looked at the night sky.

 

“You okay Waves? Wynonna asked her sister.

 

“I’m trying to be.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“My girlfriend is leaving me. I know she is going to a war zone and not actually leaving me. But part of all this feels that way.” Waverly admitted, lowering her head to stare at her lap. “I’m learning about her secret life she had and all this new stuff about her that she hid from me. Like do I even really know her. And now she is going back to that life and leaving me.” Waverly’s voice gets harsher at the end of the final sentence. But when Wynonna looks at her sister, she sees the hurt in her eyes.

 

“Waves, you know she didn’t keep it a secret to hurt you. I know Red and she was probably trying to protect herself. You and I both saw the way she was when she showed us those photos and even when we went shooting the other day. It hurts her to think about all of that. The same way it hurts us to think about Daddy and Willa. She probably doesn’t know how to talk about it. She admitted that she has basically been on her own since age seventeen. Until you. Until you gave her a family. She doesn’t seem to know how to handle it quite yet. Hell, I had a rough time when I came back from Greece. But you helped me through it. Just give her time.” Wynonna hugged her sister and Waverly fought back tears.

 

“I can’t lose her Nonna. I want her for the rest of my life. I want a future with her. I want to live together and grow our family. I want to live life to the fullest and do all that stupid, cheesy, gross, couple stuff. I want to be with her for the rest of my life.” Waverly said into her sister’s jacket.

 

“And I know she wants that too Waves. She wants that, I promise you.” Wynonna whispered into Waverly’s hair, letting a single tear fall from her eye.

 


 

 

Waverly woke up the next morning, wrapped in someone’s warm embrace. She knows by the scent and the softness of the embrace that it is Nicole who has her. She is in her bed, which confused her, considering she didn't remember coming upstairs. But that wasn’t really important at the moment. Waverly loves Sundays, it is her favorite day of the week. This was simply because Sunday was the only day Nicole didn’t get up early, thus making it Waverly’s favorite day. Waverly wanted to relish in this moment forever. Nicole and her, in a warm bed, away from the world and all its problems. Based on Nicole’s steady deep breathing, Waverly thinks Nicole is still sound asleep. She doesn’t want to wake her, but she also needs to look at her. Waverly turns over in Nicole’s embrace, trying extremely hard to not wake her girlfriend. She failed. And Nicole’s grip on her tightened, pulling her closer to Nicole’s body.

 

“Don't go.” Nicole whined with closed eyes and a pout on her lips as she cuddled her girlfriend closer. Nuzzling her head into the crook of Waverly’s neck.

 

Waverly couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped her mouth, “I think I should be saying that to you.” Waverly was feeling slightly better about the whole Nicole leaving situation. She was still a mess, but talking to her sister helped and so did waking up in Nicole’s arms this morning.

 

“Shhhh. I won’t be gone for too long. And as soon as I am done, I will be on the first plane back to you.”  Nicole said, still with her eyes closed and sleep evident in her voice.

 

“Ohh. Sleepy, cuddly, puppy Nic is my favorite. How can I resist?” Waverly said as she kissed Nicole on the forehead.

 

Nicole lifted her head a bit and connected her lips to Waverly’s nose for a quick peck. Finally, Nicole opened her eyes and smiled. She then released Waverly and started to pull the covers off of her.

 

“Nic?” Waverly whined, reaching for her girlfriend in protest. Pouting when she doesn’t get ahold of Nicole.

 

“I’m gonna brush my teeth and shower. As soon as I’m done, we can do whatever you want. Today, I am all yours until 5:30.” Nicole said with a smile and a tender kiss on Waverly’s forehead.

 

“What’s at 5:30? I can already tell I’m not going to like it if its pulling you away from me on your last night at home.” Waverly said, only a little bit kidding.

 

“I was thinking tonight we could all have dinner together. You know, like you, me, Gus, Wyn, Doc and Dolls. I thought it would be nice considering our last one was interrupted. I called Gus last night and she seemed excited.” Nicole looked down at her feet.

 

“Of course baby. That’s amazing. I’d love that.” Waverly responded with a smile.

 

Nicole exited towards the bathroom and the sound of water turning on filled the air. Waverly stayed in bed for a moment, thinking about dinner tonight. Nicole wanted to be surrounded by her family, something she has never really had before. It warmed the young brunet’s heart. She got up from the bed and headed for the bathroom. When she looked through the door, she saw Nicole in the shower, humming along to a tune as she rinsed out shampoo suds from her red hair. Waverly couldn’t contain a little giggle as she brushed her teeth at the sink. The steam on the glass must obscure Nicole’s vision because Nicole doesn’t seem to realize Waverly’s presence. After brushing her teeth and listening to Nicole’s rendition of “Bulletproof”, Waverly got undressed and got into the shower with Nicole. The redhead turned around in surprise when Waverly wrapped her arms around her girlfriend. Nicole opened her mouth to say something but Waverly beat her to it.

 

“I got impatient.” Waverly stated with a confident smirk. Waverly ran her hands up Nicole’s body until they were behind her neck. She used the new position of her hands to pull Nicole down, joining their lips in a kiss that spoke a thousand words.

Chapter Text

Nicole finally stepped out of the shower almost an hour after turning it on. Waverly quickly followed behind her. Nicole wrapped a towel around herself and turned to look at Waverly. Although Waverly never looked away from Nicole, it took her a moment to register the look on her face (probably because Waverly wasn’t primarily looking at Nicole’s face). But once she did see the look in Nicole’s eyes, she shivered a bit and it had nothing to do with her recent departure from the shower. Waverly always marveled at how Nicole looked at her like she was a delicious piece of meat and a work of art at the same time. It was the perfect combination of primal instinct and love. Nicole slowly got close to Waverly and inched her backwards until her back was against the wall. Nicole kissed her neck and jaw slowly at first, increasing in pressure and speed as she continued. “You know, it wasn’t very eco-friendly for us to have sex for an hour in the shower? I personally wouldn’t call it a waste of water, but I think the planet would disagree.“ Nicole stated in a seductive tone in between kisses.

 

Waverly couldn’t stop the moan that escaped her throat as Nicole attacked her neck and collarbone. It took her a few moments to kick her brain into formulating a response. “I’m all about saving the Earth and all, but right now…” Waverly rips the towel from Nicole’s body and tosses it to the floor “I think I have some more important things to occupy my time with.”

 

Hands drift over sensitive places and the two ended up losing track of time once again. Another thirty minutes passed before they finally exited the bathroom. Both fell into bed and made no move to get dressed. They simply laid together and fell back asleep.

 


 

The couple was roused from their slumber by the sounds of pots and pans clicking together downstairs. Nicole turned over and looked at the clock on her nightstand. It was almost noon and if she had to guess, Gus was downstairs getting stuff ready for tonight’s dinner. Rising up slowly from the bed, Nicole and Waverly both got dressed and headed downstairs. Nicole greeted Gus with a smile and a “Good afternoon” as Waverly moved across the small kitchen to hug her aunt. Nicole asked Gus if she needed any help and Gus said no and to “Shoo”.

 

Waverly giggled and grabbed Nicole by the hand and led her away from the kitchen. They entered the living room to find Wynonna sitting on the couch, playing a game on her phone. She looked up and greeted them, “Afternoon kids.”

 

“Wynonna, you are only like eighteen months older than me. Don’t you think kid is the wrong term?” Nicole said indignantly but also slightly amusedly.

 

“Oh God, I’m in love with a grandma.” Waverly teased.

 

“You calling us old Baby girl?” Wynonna countered.

 

“Of course not! You look so young, I’m surprised they don’t card you when you go buy your liquor.” Waverly said with mock astonishment.

 

Nicole’s phone buzzed. Nicole checked the caller ID and looked at Waverly, “It’s Nedley. Mind if I take this?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Nicole stepped outside and answered the call while Waverly sat down next to her sister. A few minutes later, Nicole returned from her phone call. She held out her hand for Waverly and helped her up from the couch. They walked outside and out towards nowhere. They walked for over an hour before they decided to turn back. The whole time they talked. They talked about normal day to day stuff mostly, occasionally taking about their childhoods or retelling funny stories. Once the homestead was in view, Nicole stopped Waverly with her hand gently.

 

“Wave, I don’t want you to hide how you're feeling. I know you aren’t all unicorns and rainbows right now. I know you.”

 

Waverly chuckled, “True, you know me better than almost anyone. And you’re not totally wrong, I am not just happy. I’m honestly feeling a lot of different emotions right now. I feel stressed, upset, worried, anxious, frustrated and maybe even a little angry. But I also have an overwhelming sense of pride and gratefulness. I’m proud that I have the most amazing woman in the world to call mine. And I am grateful that I have today with you and the rest of our weird family. Today is perfect and I am happy. I love you and that’s all that matters today.”

 

“I am in love with you, you know that” Nicole laughed and pulled her girlfriend into a kiss. They broke apart and began to walk again towards the homestead.

 

“You know, once you get back, you’re going to have to make this up to me.” Waverly added smugly.

 

“What did you have in mind Ms. Earp?” Nicole drawled. Eliciting a purr from Waverly.

 

“I can think of a few things.” Waverly said in a seductive tone.

 

“Oh, so can I baby, so can I.”

 


 

Dinner goes off without a hitch. Its loud and fun and completely unorganized (just how they all like it). Everyone ate together outside on the porch and talked for a while before congregating inside to escape the cold. At some point during the night, Waverly pulled each one of them aside and told them the plan for tomorrow morning. She made sure to wait for Nicole to be distracted before bringing it up with someone. Who’s got the ninja skills now? She thought to herself. By 11:00, everyone was exhausted and falling into “food comas”. Nicole and Waverly made sure everyone was safely tucked away before they headed to their room. Nicole stripped and got beneath the covers, placing her watch on the nightstand once she was comfortable. Waverly did the same and spooned into Nicole’s embrace. They didn’t speak, they just listened to each other breathe and felt each other’s steady heartbeats. Eventually they both drifted off to sleep, neither wanting to move away.

 


 

Waverly wakes up to the sound of rough fabric moving across skin. She turns over to see no Nicole in bed. She turns back over to see the clock. It is 3:35 am. Waverly sits up and looks to her left to find Nicole fidgeting with her uniform in front of the mirror. Waverly looks at the light browns and greens of the attire and then at Nicole’s face through the mirror. Her girlfriend looks confused. A battle going on inside her head. Nicole finally takes a deep breath and Waverly recognizes the new emotion on Nicole’s face, relief. Nicole turns around and notices that Waverly is not only awake, but watching her as well. Nicole fidgets a bit before speaking. “Hey, I’m sorry. Did I wake you?” Nicole asked concerned, as if that’s the most important thing right now.

 

“No baby, I wanted to be up early. I was hoping you would allow me to take you to the airport?” Waverly says with such kindness it could cure cancer.

 

“Baby, I didn’t want you to have to do that…”

 

“I want to.” Waverly says, but then falters a little bit, “As long as that’s okay?”

 

“Of course it is! I just didn’t want to be a burden.” Nicole covers.

 

“Never.”

 

They walk down stairs to find everyone there, Doc, Dolls, Gus, and even Wynonna. All have coffee’s in hand and small smiles. Nicole almost breaks down right then and there. Her family. Her family is there to see her off. She has never had this before. Never had someone or anyone to say goodbye to. The uniform keeps her emotions in check, but she does offer a big smile at the sight of everyone. After short greetings, everyone piles into Dolls’ SUV that seats everyone comfortably. Doll’s and Doc sat upfront, Wynonna and Gus in the middle row and Waverly and Nicole in the back. Nicole only has that brown backpack with her and it sat at her feet. Doll’s drove off the homestead and towards the town. They made their way through town and onto the highway. Just as they were about to cross city limits, Dolls pulls over. Nicole looks out the window and immediately gets out. Sherriff Nedley is leaning up on his cruiser. Nicole walks towards him and without a second thought, they hug. They hug with so much ease that you wouldn’t think it was the first time. No words were ever said, only a strong hug and a wave as Nicole reentered the SUV and sat down. Dolls nodded his head through the rearview mirror at Nicole before putting the vehicle back into drive and heading towards Calgary International Airport. It’s a fifty-minute drive and the car is silent for the first twenty minutes of it (probably a combination of the early hour and the situation). Doc eventually turns the radio on and singing starts to fill the car. Really bad singing, but it still brings everyone’s spirits up.

Everyone is singing, even Dolls is humming to the beat. It’s perfect. Waverly is curled into Nicole, feeling her warmth, her heartbeat, her breath. It’s intoxicating and Waverly can’t get enough. At some point, Nicole stops singing and reaches down into her backpack. She pulls out a piece of paper with some information on it.

 

“This sheet has an email address written on it. That’s the best way to contact me because phones are not allowed during training. There is a phone number below the email. If ANYTHING happens and you need me, you call that number and tell them who you are. Emergency’s only though, Wave.” Nicole hands Waverly the paper and the reaches in her bag once again before closing it. She hands Waverly her keys, “The black key is for my storage unit, that red one is for the station and the green is the homestead. Nedley decided to leave my cruiser there at the homestead so the keys for that are in my nightstand.” Nicole continues to list off things for Waverly and the brunette listens intently. Absorbing every detail. After Nicole finishes talking, Waverly curls back up into Nicole, hands clutching at the uniform top. Nicole’s arm goes protectively over Waverly and pulls her impossibly closer. They begin to sing with everyone once again. Neither Waverly nor Nicole notices Wynonna and Gus watching them through the rearview mirror. The two older women look at each other with sad eyes before turning their attention elsewhere.

 


 

They arrive at the airport and Nicole leads the group to a side entrance of the airport. Once inside, Wynonna asks, “Where are we?”

 

“This tunnel is for military personnel only. They create these in airports to allow service members and their families a little more privacy.” Dolls responded. “I have never had the need for one until now.”

 

“Same here.” Nicole states. The comment made Gus cringe a little.

 

Gus, not wanting to lose her nerve and composure, walks up to Nicole and hugs her.

 

“Take care of her Gus, take care of them. Please.” Nicole whispered just loud enough for Gus to hear. The fear was evident in her voice as it trembled the slightest bit.

 

“I will, you just worry about taking care of yourself. We will keep the fort up until you get back. You call me if you need anything, you ‘hear.” Gus said just as quietly. Breaking the hug as she finished the last sentence.

 

“Thank you” Nicole said and Gus walked towards a departure board.

 

Doc comes over next, pulling his hat off as he embraces her. They part and Nicole says, “When I get back, I think I want to redo the barn, you know, like fix it up a bit?”

 

“I would enjoy that. I’ll be sure to clean it out before your return.” Doc said in his typical stoic fashion.

 

Then its Dolls’ turn. They don’t hug, but rather grab each other’s forearms and say something that doesn’t make sense to the two remaining women. Both nod after a few moments and release each other. Dolls goes to stand with Gus and Doc. Wynonna moves next, grabbing Nicole into a rough bear hug. “Nicole, you better come back okay or I swear to god I will hunt you down. I can’t do no more funerals.” Wynonna shook a bit. “And tell Waverly how you feel. She needs to know. Don’t leave without telling her.”

 

“Okay.” Nicole whispers back. “Wynonna, your promise to me?”

 

“I know, protect her.” Wynonna reiterates.

 

“Thank you. Take care of yourself too, okay?” Nicole says as she breaks the hug.

 

“Sure thing.”

 

Before Wynonna can completely detached from Nicole, Waverly is rushing into the hug. The two sisters embrace Nicole tightly. One head tucked on each side of Nicole’s neck. She can feel the tears on her skin coming from both Earp sisters. Wynonna spends a few long minutes in this position before she quickly turns and walks towards the group (obviously not ready to address these emotions and feelings). Waverly doesn’t move until Nicole speaks, “Waves?”

 

Waverly scurries in impossibly tighter and clutches on to Nicole more.

 

“Waverly? I want to say something to you. But I need you to look at me baby, please?”

 

Waverly looks up and meets Nicole’s eyes. Nicole caresses Waverly’s cheek with one hand and the other holds Waverly close.

 

“I love you and this is not the end of the world. Just think of this as a business trip. I will be back before you even miss me. But I want you to know something. I want forever. With you. I want a life and this family and I want it with you. I’m going to come home and have that life I dream about. That’s my motivation. I want that life with you. Please just… don’t give up on me. I know this is hard for you and you didn’t ask for any of this. But please. I want forever and I want it with you.”

 

Waverly cries and nods her head, a slight bit of relief washing over her face. They kiss and the whole world stands still. This moment is theirs and its perfect. They eventually break and Waverly is joined by the rest of the group. Nicole walks down the tunnel and turns around to see Gus and Wynonna holding Waverly’s hands on either side. She gives one last smile before turning a corner and moving out of sight.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up at 3:30 am and everything is kinda a blur after that. She remembers everything, but doesn’t, at the same time. Some distinct memories include putting her uniform on. She hasn’t worn her Combat Utility Uniform since she was twenty-one years old. She remembers the last time she wore it and shudders at the memory. She looks in the mirror and isn’t surprised that it’s a little tight around the shoulders and arms. She fidgets with it until she’s satisfied that it meets regulations. She reaches down into the box at her feet and grabs the dog tags from inside. She looks at them for another moment, before placing them around her neck. Although many Marines didn’t wear theirs, she found some comfort wearing hers. They are a symbol of who she was for a long time. She used to never take them off. But decided it was finally time once she moved to Purgatory. Then there is another blur. Next thing she remembers clearly is hugging Nedley. She is surprised to see him and even more surprised by the amount of comfort she feels during their embrace. Then another blur, her head is pounding. She’s saying goodbye to everyone, hugging Gus, Doc too. He slips a flask into her pants pocket at some point. Dolls and her exchange words and Nicole knows Waverly doesn’t understand by the look on her face. Soldier to soldier, he and her were on the same page. No one could truly understand what was said besides them. Then came Wynonna and Waverly. Nicole only felt pain through those ones. It felt like someone was electrocuting her and ripping her heart out, all at the same time. The pain blurs everything again.

 

A bump of the plane woke Nicole up from her restless slumber. She shakes her head and rubs her eyes. That dream… well it wasn’t really a dream… but whatever it was, makes Nicole a little nauseous. After taking a minute to center herself, she checks the onboard map of the flight. She should be landing in less than twenty minutes. “Fuck.” She whispers under her breath to herself. She closes the laptop in her lap and puts it back in her bag. She went over the files three of four time once she got on the plane. She could probably recite every report word-for-word. Unfortunately, that information is hard to forget. She looks down at her uniform. It is outdated and she was absolutely positive she would be issued a new one upon arrival. Nicole hears the pilot tell the passengers to prepare for descent as the seatbelt signs around the cabin turned back on. “Fuck” Nicole whispered once again, resting her head back on the headrest.

 


 

Nicole lands and departs the aircraft to see Liz waiting for her.

 

“Ma'am.” Liz addressed her.

 

Nicole saluted in response. “At ease.”

 

“If you will follow me?” Liz said as she started to walk. Nicole followed her for a while before speeding up until they were side by side. They were stateside and now it was time to work. Formal protocols were to be upheld and Nicole almost felt comfort in it. It felt… like coming home. For years, the military was her life. It is almost scary how easy it is for her to slide back in to things.

 

“You say goodbye to your family?” Liz asked as they neared the building’s end.

 

“Yes.” Nicole responded, not looking anywhere but forward.

 

“Good.”

 

They enter a SUV and leave the airport without another word. They spend the duration of the car ride looking out the windows. By the time they go through security and are on base, Nicole can see how much things have changed. The original buildings are still there for the most part, but the barracks are new and there are additional buildings all over. Nicole departs the vehicle once is stops and Liz leads her to a nearby building. She is walked down a hall and into a supply room. She is handed a brand new duffle bag. She also is issued a new uniform, sweats, workout shorts, t-shirt, running shoes, backpack and a new pair of uniform work boots. Liz leads her to a locker room of sorts so she can change quickly. Nicole changes out of her old uniform and folds it up neatly. She changes into the new uniform and organizes the additional new equipment into the duffle with practiced ease. Nicole pulls out a small pile of papers from the old uniform and places them into her new uniform pocket. She slips the flask Doc gave her into the duffel with a SAT phone Dolls had set her up with. She also puts the contents of her backpack into the new duffel. Liz comes into the room with a box in hand. Nicole puts the old equipment (her old backpack with her old uniform and boots) into the box. “Tags too Ma’am. You will be issued a new pair shortly.” Liz states. Nicole takes her dog tags from under her shirt and pulls them over her head, placing them into the box. She quickly redoes the bun her hair is in before she and Liz depart the room. Liz hands the box with Nicole’s personal effects to another Marine before continuing down the hall. They enter another room and Nicole is issued a new set of fresh pressed tags. She puts them on and heads down the hall behind Liz. They end up in the armory where Nicole gets a new holster and sidearm. She places it in the holster after fiddling with the mechanism and checking it over. They enter an elevator and go up a couple floors in silence. It’s a welcome silence for Nicole.

 

They finally arrive at an office. Liz knocks twice and waits for someone to respond. “Enter.” A man responded.

 

Liz opens the door and holds it open for Nicole to enter before her. Liz stands in attention until the man releases her. She grabs the door and closes it, leaving Nicole with the man.

 

“Sir.” Nicole says with a salute.

 

“Relax Dallas. It’s just us.” General Edwards says with a relaxed chuckle.

 

He rose from his seat and gestured for her to sit down. She did and gave him a small smile.

 

“How have you been? I heard we had to track you down all the way up in Canada.”

 

“Yes Sir. I am fine Sir. Ready to hear the real reason I am here. Any number of teams could have done the job on paper. So why me?” Nicole says.

 

“Look Dallas, you know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t have to. But I need you for this. I need a team I can trust to… stabilize the situation.”

 

“Okay, then brief me. Why me?” Nicole says with a nod.

 

“I requested you to return to lead a team into a particular territory of the region. We have sent two teams already and have lost contact with both. I need a team devised of individuals with special skills like yours. I need more than soldiers or even Marines. I need Hard Chargers that will get the job done. Your GT scores were almost perfect and that was when you were a seventeen year old kid from Texas. Your training, your time during your deployments and your recent experience with law enforcement shows you to be an incredible asset. We need a team led by you with others like you to get the assignment completed.”

 

Nicole sits in the chair for a moment, thinking about what was just said. “Sir. I am a Lance Corporal. I don’t have a rank worthy of leading a team.” Nicole says after a moment.

 

“Well, you earned a college degree after you were discharged and went on to the police academy. So later today, you will take the final exam for OCS. Your time with the law enforcement offices in Canada, in addition to the recommendation from a one Deputy Marshall Xavier Dolls of the Black Badge Division. Dallas, Black Badge is a serious unit and technically a part of the United States Military. I looked up your superior to find out he is actually Captain Xavier Dolls, U.S. Navy retired. He was a special opps boy and he told us of your duties while working under him. All this considered and checked, you will take the exam this afternoon. As long as you pass, your rank will change. But that’s purely a formality considering you surpassed your rank before your second tour was even over.” General Edwards said. “Dallas, you are overqualified for this position and rank. I need you to say yes.”

 

“Yes Sir. It is an honor. When will I meet my team?” Nicole asks as she stands.

 

“Well you know PFC Elisabeth Farrell and Private Mike Green from your old unit. They both returned last month and will be members of your team. Staff Sergeant Alexander Riley and PFC Jake Gibbs will be joining you at the end of the week.” Nicole and the General walk out the door and into the hallway where Liz is standing. They have a few parting words before they salut and the general returns to his office.

 

Liz moves towards Nicole, “With me, Ma’am.” Nicole follows Liz to the barracks and directs Nicole to a small room with two sets of bunks. “It is temporary. You will be moved to Officer’s Quarters after your exam this afternoon. Nicole nods her head and places her duffle bag on the bed and sits. The door shuts and Liz sits on the bed across from Nicole.

 

“You okay?” Liz asks.

 

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a lot to take in. But it strangely feels good too. Kinda like… I don’t know.” Nicole struggles to find the right words to describe it.

 

“Coming home.” Liz says with confidence. “I felt the same thing last month when I arrived. Its good and comforting and yet scary at the same time.”

 

“I guess, yeah. That’s the best way to describe it. But now it’s different for me. I have a family back home, people that I need to come home for. I have never had that. It’s a lot of pressure.” Nicole admits.

 

“Dallas got herself a family. Wow.” Liz teases.

 

“Shut up.” Nicole laughs.

 

“So, this jigsaw puzzle family of yours? Is there a girl?” Liz asks with a smirk.

 

“Yeah, Waverly, she um… she’s the best thing to ever happen to me.” Nicole admits with a blush.

 

“Oh my god, you are in love with this girl. Damn! Dallas is off the market!” Liz laughs.

 

“Oh god, I’ve said too much.” Nicole face palms.

 

“No, you have said too little. Tell me about her!” Liz said excitedly.

 

Nicole laughs, “Where do I begin?”

 


 

The group drives back to the homestead in silence. The radio is playing, but no one sings along. Once everyone is out of the SUV and in the house, Gus begins making breakfast in the kitchen. Dolls goes off to make a phone call and Doc walks out to the barn. Waverly just sits on the couch with a concerned Wynonna staring at her. After what feels like hours, Wynonna has had enough. “Get up.” She pulls Waverly’s arm as she stands.

 

“What?” Waverly says with disbelief.

 

“Get! Up!” Wynonna says again with more force.

 

Waverly stands and is being dragged out the front door. “Nonna, what the hell…”

 

“Shut up and listen to me.” Wynonna cut her off. “You are not going to wallow in self-pity right now. Nicole is not dead. She is just on a business trip. She’s doing her job. She made me promise to take care of you and protect you. So stop moping around. She will be back. Your girlfriend will be back. What the hell is going on with you, huh? Why are you being like this just ‘cause she’s gone. You never were like this when Champ would leave on trips.” Wynonna says harshly, trying to get a reaction out of her sister. She knows her, she knows she is holding everything inside. She tried being the supportive sister but that was getting them nowhere.

 

“Are you kidding me?! My fucking girlfriend is going to war! She just left me to go back to her country! She just fucking left…” Waverly’s anger starting to bubble over. It was too late now to stop it, “She just left me! She chose to leave me! Haven’t we gone through enough without adding in a fucking war?! HOW COULD SHE LEAVE US?! She left us when we needed her the most! She was training you and helping me with research! And she was helping Doc with Shorty’s security system and her and Dolls… well they were just having a grand old time being fucking secret ninja agents together! She left right when…” Waverly was forced to finally breathe. The anger leaving her as the words tumble out. “She left just when I thought we were moving forward.” Waverly says softly, hurt clouding her eyes.

 

“She thought so too.” Wynonna says.

 

“Part of me knows that, but part of me is still angry with her.”

 

“I know” Wynonna says as she hands her sister a pistol. She points her finger to a post on the fence. It has bottles and cans stacked on it.

 

Waverly looks at the pistol. She recognizes it instantly. It’s Nicole’s. It’s not her service weapon though. It’s a beautiful gun that Waverly saw on a few occasions. Nicole had mentioned once that it was the first gun she ever bought. It’s a Beretta 92FS, completely polished steel except for the wood grips. Waverly has never touched it before and it feels amazing in her hands. It's smooth and cool to the touch. Waverly grips the handle and feels something against the pads of her fingers. She examines the wood grips closely and notices the engraving. Some things are worth fighting for. is engraved on one side. And on the other side: “I love her” –W.E.

 

A tear falls from her eye as she gently brushes a thumb over her initials. “She heard me.” Waverly says softly.

 

“What?” Wynonna asks.

 

“In the station, when Willa shot her. I told you I loved her.” Waverly pauses and thinks back. “She never told me she heard me say it.” Waverly pauses again, “Oh shit. I fucking told her I liked her a few days later! God I’m such an idiot. And she smiled and said it back! That is so sweet and so annoying at the same time!” As Waverly makes this last statement, she clicks off the safety and aims towards the bottles and cans. She takes three shots in rapid succession and hits all three bottle she was aiming for. She takes a deep, cleansing breath.

 

“Feel better?” Wynonna askes, not looking away from the fence where three bottles used to stand.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good, now let’s go inside and eat. We have got Rev Heads to kill!”

Chapter Text

Nicole takes the Officer’s Exam later in the afternoon. She blows through the physical with ease and finishes the written portion with fifteen minutes to spare. She walks out of the testing area to find General Edwards talking to the Marine that just administered her exam. She walks towards them and follows proper greeting protocol. The general dismisses the other Marine and holds a packet in his hands. He looks it over once more and then hands it to Nicole. “Welcome back, Captain Haught.”

 

“Sir.”

 

“Dallas, if you try and respectfully disagree with my decision to promote you I swear I will have you court martialed.” He laughs, “Look at your scores. You didn’t even go to Officers Candidate School and you still passed in the top 3% in the physical and in the top 5% in the written and oral. You are overqualified Dallas. This isn’t some ploy to entice you to stay. You deserve this.”

 

“Thank you, Sir.” Nicole says without argument. She can’t argue with the results. She knows the General personally and professionally, so she knew he wouldn’t do this unless he truly believed she deserved and earned it. She lets it rest. Nicole notices Liz approaching (trying to hide a smile).

 

“PFC Farrell here will take you to the bellows to get yet another uniform change.” He looks at Liz and nods. “Then you will be directed to your berthing. If I recall correctly, you are in Bravo-3.” He looks at Liz and she gives him a nod of her head in confirmation. “Congratulations, Captain. I will see you at 0600 hours tomorrow.” They salute and the General leaves Nicole to follow Liz once again.

 

After another round of uniform and equipment distribution, Liz leads Nicole out to Building 3. The go up an elevator four floors before exiting. They walk down a hall and arrive at a door. “The new ID you were issued should already be programmed into the system.” Liz says as she motions towards Nicole’s new military ID card. Nicole waves the card over a grey block on the wall and the door opens with a click. Liz opens the door for Nicole to enter. Nicole looks around the open floor plan. It’s simple and functional, like most things on base, but also much nicer. There is a small kitchen and pantry. Next to that there is a common room with a couch, a couple flat screen monitors, a large desk with a very expensive looking computer on top and a very large whiteboard on the wall. There is a hallway that has five doors (two on each side and one at the end). “So, this is our berthing. Normally you would be in regular Officer’s quarters and we would be in the barracks, but this team being specialized comes with some perks.” Liz says with a laugh, “I guess the point is to facilitate bonds and trust by keeping us all together.” She pauses and thinks about it a little before continuing. “My room is the last one on the left and Green is across from me. The two new guys will be in the other two rooms. And yours is the one at the end of the hall. So basically, Green and I are in the rooms closest to you which will be nice.”

 

“A ha, sure.” Nicole says with a knowing look. She knew Liz was happy with this new arrangement. She had always hated their sleeping arrangements during their previous time in the service.

 

“So, your room.” Liz starts as she walks down towards the door to Nicole’s room. “It requires your ID to enter, unlike all the other doors so you will have some semblance of privacy similar to Officer’s quarters.”

 

Nicole unlocks the door and opens it to step through. She walks into the room and Liz follows (but only asking permission to enter officer’s quarters, protocol). The room is much bigger than the others. It has a bed and a shelve and locker setup on one side of the room. On the other, a desk with another expensive looking computer, a large safe, a filing cabinet, and a whiteboard on the wall. There is a door on the wall opposite the door that led to a small bathroom with a shower. Nicole is surprised. This is way nicer than any military housing she had ever seen. But I guess that’s the point. Special team = special accommodations. Liz leaves her to settle in and unpack. Nicole swiftly unpacks both of her duffle bags. She places her clothes on hangers in the lockers and organizes her personal care products on the shelves. Removing the laptop, cellphone and file from the bags, Nicole places them on the desk. She removes her sidearm and opens the ajar door of the safe. She sets her gun inside and notices the other weapons already inside. There is a rifle, two handguns, 2 boxes of varying ammunition and a few empty magazines. Oh, and a Kevlar vest and helmet. Nicole sets the new combination and adds her hand to complete the biometric combo as well. She stands up once more, retrieves a few personal items from her bags and places the empty bags under the bed. She puts the SAT phone from Dolls in the bottom desk drawer, along with the flask Doc gave her. She pulls out the stack of papers from her uniform pocket and places it on the desk. She looks at it a second more before opening them up. They are pictures, three in fact. They are laminated and sized down to wallet size, so they don’t get damaged. The first photo is the one of her with Laura on her shoulders. She got it resized and laminated before she left Purgatory. The second picture was a group photo. It was taken at Shorty’s a couple months back. Wynonna sits on the bar behind Nicole who is sitting on a bar stool. Waverly is on Nicole’s lap with Nicole’s arms protectively wrapped around her. Gus is on one side and Doc and Dolls are on the other. A bar regular offered to take the photo and actually got them all to smile for the photo (even Dolls, which he should probably win a Pulitzer prize for). The last photo is of her and Waverly. Wynonna took the candid photo after Nicole had returned home from work one afternoon. Waverly had run outside to meet her. Waverly hugged Nicole who was still wearing her uniform and uniform jacket. Waverly was wearing Nicole’s Chicago PD t-shirt. Waverly had her arms wrapped around Nicole so tight and had her head pressed against Nicole’s chest, eyes closed, smile wide. Wynonna had sent Nicole the photo later that week. Nicole has always kept a copy of it in her wallet ever since. Nicole smiles at the photos before placing them with the other items in the desk drawer. Just then, there is a knock on the door.

 

“Enter”

 


 

Nicole left just over two weeks ago and Waverly is handling it surprisingly well, if she does say so herself. She wakes up the same way every morning, to an empty bed. She is fine until she gets to the Black Badge office and see’s everyone there but Nicole. Her heart squeezes a little every time. But she does her best to just shrug it off and go about her day. She misses Nicole like crazy, but she also has other things that require her attention. So, she pushes that aside to focus on herself and work.

 

“This mission hasn’t even started yet and I’m already over it.” Wynonna says with a pointed look at Dolls (who is making a conscious effort to ignore her).

 

“Nonna, please. I’m trying to concentrate on this map. It’s an old war map and its very old and confusing and you are not helping.” Waverly says from behind her sister. Waverly stands up and starts talking to herself about how during times of war, mapmakers often added terrain or changed the declination of north and south in order to confuse the enemy if it got into enemy hands. Waverly’s eyes shot wide open and she turns around to look at the map again. She points her finger down on a place on the map. “Here! That’s where his place should be!”

 

“Go Baby girl! Now let’s go shoot something back to hell! My trigger finger is itching.” Wynonna says and looks around to collect disapproving looks from both her sister and Dolls.

 

“Wynonna this demon has some strange abilities. We need a plan.” Dolls says flatly.

 

“What does this one do, huh? Shoot fire out of his eyes or shapeshift?” Wynonna asks mockingly.

 

“Dale Tullbean, has been rumored to have the ability to read minds. But not just that. My research indicates he can also reach into your memories. He used to use people’s memories to manipulate them into doing his bidding. He is very dangerous Nonna.” Waverly says with a mixture of fascination and fear.

 

“So what? He can seem my memories? It doesn’t bother me.” Wynonna says “I got nothing to hide.”

 

“Everyone has something to hide Earp. We all have something we hold safely inside.” Dolls states.

 

“Oh, do tell Deputy Marshall Sir.” Wynonna said mockingly.

 

“Alright, let’s move out. This Revenant isn’t going to hunt itself. Gear up.” Dolls says, ignoring Wynonna’s question.

 

The all get ready and file into Dolls’ SUV. As they drive, Waverly relays important information to the team from the back seat. Doc sits next to her, chewing on a toothpick. They drive for almost twenty minutes, talking strategy. By the time they arrive, everyone is pumped up and ready to go. They split into two teams: Waverly and Doc go around the back, while Dolls and Wynonna head for the front. There is a cabin and it’s in the middle of a clearing of a field. Everyone scurries into their positions. Doc and Waverly are just about to reach the back door of the cabin when everything goes black.

 

Waverly wakes up tied to a chair. She looks at Doc who is in a similar position next to her. She struggles against the restraints but they don’t budge. 

 

“Oh, good. You’re awake.” A voice says. Dale Tullbean emerges from a shadow in the corner of the room. “I was afraid you were going to take too long.”

 

“Where are we?” Waverly asks, refusing to show her fear.

 

“We are… somewhere in the middle.” The Revenant says with a smile.

 

“What do you mean?” Waverly says quickly, slightly curious

 

“We are in between your consciousness and unconsciousness. Think of it as my playground.” Tullbean says with a deadly smirk.

 

“The heir will find us and you will surely be dead soon after.” Doc chimes in.

 

“True, all the more reason to get this party started. Let’s start with you, shall we Mr. Holliday?” All of a sudden, Doc is gasping for air, Waverly calls Doc’s name but he is just shaking his head. After a few moments, Doc relaxes and the Revenant begins to laugh. “Wow, I have to admit. You have seen a lot of things in your time. So many innocents, so many deaths. You say they aren’t your fault, but you know better. They were all your fault. I can see what happened so, trust me. It’s clear. You could have saved them, but instead you let them be slaughtered. And then there are the Earp girls. They mean so much to you now, but when you first met…” The Revenant clicks his tongue “They were simply an obstacle in your way of revenge. And you know, deep down, that you would have killed them if they got in your way anymore than they already had.”

 

“No Doc, don’t listen to him. He is just twisting your sense of reality. You didn’t hurt us, we know you love us and we love you. You’re a good man Doc, you protect us from demons like him.” Waverly struggles, trying to reach Doc, who was sitting silently with his head bowed.

 

“And you Miss Earp. You have your own demons inside as well.” Tullbean says with an evil smirk. Waverly feels like all the oxygen is sucked from her lungs and she can feel the Revenant sorting through her memories. He skips through some, stopping if one peaks his interest. After what feels like hours, they return back to the room with Doc who hasn’t moved. Waverly has tears welling in her eyes, but does not let them fall. She will not let him break her. “Where to begin with you…” the Revenant teases as he looks Waverly over and mules over his options. “Well, I could go back to your childhood filled with abandonment and pain, but I feel like that’s beating a dead horse. Or I could play with the idea that you thought you were an Earp for your whole life, only to second guess it. That’s classic Bobo. I love it. I loved the memory where you found out the truth that you are, in fact, an Earp. Your reaction was priceless. But I think I’ll choose something that will really have an impact. Something that will hit a nerve with both of you.” Tullbean says and looks at both Doc and Waverly. “This redhead seems to have both of you a little tied up inside. She left all of you, yet you still miss her. Doc, my friend, why do you bother with this woman? She is simply a butch cop in a hillbilly town. Why do you hurt for her? She is not being used by you as a woman should be, so what is her use to you?” Doc does not look up as he just shakes his head.

 

Tullbean turns his attention to Waverly. “And you. You are in love with the freak of nature. Bitches lovin’ other bitches. It defies logic. But so do you, I guess. So, let’s start with how you were so afraid when your sister shot her. That was your fault. If Officer Haught… Nicole… hadn’t been your kinda girlfriend, your sister wouldn’t have targeted her. She wouldn’t be involved in this mess.” He says with a sneer.

 

“Don’t say her name you fucking prick!” Waverly yells at him, her anger overriding her fear.

 

“You know, Nicole left back to the war to get away from you and all this curse has brought her. I know you have thought that too so don’t try and deny it. And if I’m being honest with you, she is probably never coming back to you. Even if she survives the battle, what makes you think she will leave her home to come back to you? What if she finds a new love there, maybe even that Liz girl? I know she doesn’t feel that way now, but you saw how Liz was with Nicole. She loves Nicole and wants her. Wants what you have. I can only imagine that it will happen eventually, if it hasn’t already. Don’t worry though. Once I’m done with you two and I’m eventually free from the triangle, I’ll make sure to find her and show her how you are feeling right now.”

 

“Shut up! You know nothing about her! Shut up!” Waverly screams.

 

Just then, a light enters the room and the sound of Peacemaker firing fills the air. Waverly blinks and she’s outside again. She is laying on the ground next to Doc, who seems just as dazed as her. Wynonna is crouching next to her, holding her head up. Dolls is checking on Doc.

 

“Wave, you okay?” Wynonna asks, concern and panic clearly etched on her face.

 

“Yeah, I am. How-how long were we out?”

 

“From what we can tell, maybe 30 seconds before I shot him back down to hell. Are you sure you are okay? What happened? You and Doc were both screaming.” Wynonna says, still concerned.

 

“We can talk about it later.” Waverly says as she grips her sister’s hand. They all get up and go to the SUV. Doc seems to be barely functioning, Dolls has to practically carry him to the vehicle. He’s shaking a bit and hasn’t looked up from his feet. They drive back to the office to drop off some gear before heading to the homestead. Wynonna promised Doc a drink from her private stash when it’s clear all he wants to do is get drunk. They arrive at the homestead twenty minutes later and get out. Waverly hugs Doc before going inside for a much needed shower.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Nicole has been spending the last two weeks on base training. The new members of her unit arrived later her first week and everyone seems to like one another. The new structure is a little foreign to Nicole at first, but she quickly settles in to her command. Liz is her right hand and is to be promoted at the conclusion of the month. Green is the medical tech for the unit. He became a paramedic after he was discharged and was working for a fire department in California (before the General requested his return). Staff Sergeant Alexander Riley is a good marine. He is an all-around good soldier, but he thrives in the electronics and communications world. The kid is a wiz with computer systems and admits to have spent most of high school learning how to code and hack complicated systems. Then there is PFC Jake Gibbs. Nicole and him hit it off from the moment they met. Since the first day, they have been inseparable. They wake up and train together every day. Like her, he is a skilled marksman. He is a good soldier, but is adamant that the military is only one chapter of his life. He has a girl back home in Montana and actually asked her to marry him. She said she would only say yes if he came home in one piece. The kid was 23 years old and yet he was so mature. Nicole likes him and really tries to look out for him.

 

To prepare for their assignment, the unit is drilled and conditioned every day. They are up and on the track by 6 am every morning and spend three hours doing physical training. Then hit the range and practice shooting varying weapons and practicing certain skills. Then it’s off to the Block. The Block is a scenario building designed to test combat skills. The goal of the exercise is to clear the building and obtain the “intel” (it’s just an old laptop). The building is filled with a team of TRPs (Tactical Role Players). They are normally civilian contractors who specialize in this type of training. From Nicole’s experience, TRPs are normally former navy seals, cops, federal agents, etc. (so basically, people like her and Dolls). After the Block, Nicole’s unit breaks for lunch and is released for the rest of the day to do individual training.

 

Nicole has found comfort in the routine. It’s intense and taxing, but it is uniquely fulfilling as well. Its hell and heaven at the same time. After two weeks, she finally decides it is time to call home. She didn’t and couldn’t originally. Access to the outside world is limited on base but she secured herself a small amount of time today to call home from the base phone in her room. She knew better than to call before this. She would have heard Waverly’s voice and been on the first plane home, or at least she would have tried and violated her contract (meaning she would end up in the brig). But now, she feels strong enough to do so. She knows what she is doing here is important.

 

Nicole dials the number for the house phone at the homestead. It starts to ring and her anxiety skyrockets through the roof. Why is she so nervous? It’s just her family? The call continues to ring a couple more times but no one answers. The machine message comes on and says to hang up or leave a message. Nicole hangs up and redials. They are probably just on the other side of the house or something. Again, no answer. Nicole decides to leave a message this time. There is a beep that indicates the message has started. “Hey Guys, it’s Nicole. I hope everyone is doing okay and is safe. I miss all of you. Um… yeah. [awkward pause] Oh, um Waves? That email address I wrote down for you, it works and I’ll have access to it every once in a while, so we can communicate, hopefully, on there. I miss you guys, all of you. I’m definitely missing Gus’ cooking right now. Um… I hope the demons are staying in their lanes. I actually have to go back to work, but I wanted to try and check in before. Um… stay safe, good luck. Um… yeah. Bye.”

 


 

Waverly has been in the shower for over an hour now and Wynonna is getting worried. After another ten minutes, she walks upstairs to Waverly’s bathroom. She knocks on the door and it slides open. She peaks her head inside to see Waverly sitting on the shower floor. Waverly is fully clothed and is holding her knees to her chest as she sobs. Wynonna springs into action, turning off the shower and grabbing a towel. “Waves? Baby girl? C’mon. Let’s get you up. C’mon.” Wynonna says soothingly as she lifts her sister from the shower floor. Waverly is shaking and can’t seem to stop the tears. Wynonna is most definitely confused. She thought Waves was okay. She seemed okay earlier. Maybe a little shaken up, but Wynonna didn’t expect this. Doc is passed out drunk downstairs and she had thought that would have been the worst of it. Waverly is shaking and it has little to do with the temperature. Wynonna helps Waverly out of her wet clothes and into a pair of pajamas. Then she leads her little sister to the bed and makes her laydown. Waverly automatically moves to Nicole’s side of the bed and grabs the Purgatory Sheriffs hoodie stuffed under Nicole’s pillow. She pulls it to her chest and the sobs rake over her again. Wynonna lays down on the bed and pulls her sister in close. After another hour of crying, Waverly is regaining some composure.

 

“Baby girl, are you okay?”

 

“I would say yes, but I think the last two hours would indicate otherwise.” Waverly says sadly.

 

“Is this about the Revenant? Doc told me what happened after a few generous servings of whiskey.”

 

“Wynonna, I know it’s irrational to get so worked up over her. But I just can’t stop it. Every time I feel like I get a handle on it, something brings it all back. Something reminds me of her.” Waverly says, frustration and sadness battling for dominance.

 

Wynonna hears the phone ring downstairs, but decides to let it ring. Nothing is more important than Waverly right now. “It is okay to miss her Waverly. I know she misses you. Hell, even I miss Haughtstuff. And that’s okay. As long as we don’t let it guide how we live our lives.”

 

Waverly nods into her sister’s shirt. And they stay there for another twenty minutes. Wynonna thinks about what Doc had told her. About the things the Revenant had said. She felt guilt sweep over her. Waverly and Doc wouldn’t have even been there if it wasn’t for them splitting up. Wynonna should have been their sooner, she should have protected them. They were a woman short without Nicole and that caused the mission protocol to be adjusted. Wynonna felt a flash of anger sweep over her. Why did Nicole go? We need her here! Wynonna thinks about it more, but now the anger is gone and sadness takes its place. She doesn’t cry, she just holds her sister tight until the feelings loosen their grips on her.

 

Eventually, she makes it down stairs with Waverly in tow. They need to eat or they might pass out. There are three notifications on the answering machine. Waverly hits play and walks towards the kitchen.

 

“Message one: Hey y’all, this is Pete from the Purgatory Postal Service. I got a package addressed to your homestead here. But the box is certified so it can’t be delivered. It’s here at the office for pickup so come get it when you have a chance. Oh, and don’t forget your ID. You have a great rest of your day. Message ended. To delete, press one.”

 

“Message two: Earp, it’s Dolls. I need you to finish that paperwork before the end of the week. Have Waverly help you with it if necessary. Message ended. To delete, press one.”

 

“Message three: Hey Guys, it’s Nicole.” Waverly drops a cup from her hands and it hits the floor with a loud clank. “I hope everyone is doing okay and is safe. I miss all of you. Um… yeah. [awkward pause] Oh, um Waves?” Waverly runs to the machine at the sound of her name. She hasn’t heard Nicole’s voice since she left. She sounds good and healthy. “That email address I wrote down for you, it works and I’ll have access to it every once in a while, so we can communicate, hopefully, on there. I miss you guys, all of you. I’m definitely missing Gus’ cooking right now. Um… I hope the demons are staying in their lanes. I actually have to go back to work, but I wanted to try and check in before. Um… stay safe, good luck. Um… yeah. Bye. Message ended. To delete, press one.”

 

Waverly stands by the machine, just staring at it. Wynonna turns her away from the machine to look at her little sister’s face. Wynonna is surprised to see the small smile gracing the younger girl’s face. ”Waves?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You okay?”

 

“No, not really. But I feel better.” Waverly says a little more cheerily.

 

“Because we missed Nicole’s call? Cause I would think that would have upset you?”

 

“No Nonna, because you’re here for me and I’m here for you. Look I know I’m kinda all over the place right now, but I know I can do this. I’m scared she won’t come home, and I know you are trying to hide it, but I know you are scared too. But I can’t control the outcome. I can only control me. And I’m going to choose to be happy. I got to hear Nicole’s voice for the first time in almost 3 weeks. I’m happy at the moment.”

 

The sisters hug once more before leaving to go cook themselves dinner. Waverly needs some food before she emails Nicole.

 


 

 

“Dallas, can I come in?” Liz askes from the door that is slightly ajar.

 

“Yeah, come on in.” Nicole says casually. She told the team that in living quarters, they didn’t have to always uphold protocol. They needed to be able to relax around her.

 

Liz steppes inside the room and closes the door behind her. She walks over and sits on the floor, leaning her back against the bed. “How are you doing? Haven’t talked to you much since training started.”

 

“Liz, you see me every day. And for most of the day.” Nicole says sarcastically and laughs.

 

“Shut up! You know what I mean. Seriously though, how are you doing?”

 

“I am fine. I just called home and left a message. Just wanted to check in.”

 

“It’s harder for you now, isn’t it?” Liz asked “It’s harder for you to be here knowing they are there without you?”

 

“Yeah, it is. I miss them.” Nicole admits. “But enough about me, what about you? What’s going on with you?”

 

Liz laughs, “We will come back to you. Um, I am doing good. I have a good job in Ohio, let’s me travel a lot. I make pretty good money doing it too.”

 

“And your personal life?”

 

“Ha, well I’ve dated a few people over the years. No one super serious. I think I’m just enjoying my life. Trying to recover and move on. I know it was more difficult for you when you got back. But it was hard for me too you know. I um… I will never un-see what happened and what he did. Same way you won’t ever forget how it felt. Sorry, I don’t mean to open up old wounds…”

 

“Hey, it’s okay. You can talk to me about anything. And what Eli did was horrible. And your right, I’ll never forget it. But it got easier for me once I started talking about it in therapy. Once I told the truth about what happened out there.”

 

“Dallas, you never actually told me everything that happened. I only know what I saw at the end, when we found you.”

 

Well, no better time than the present I guess…” Nicole takes a deep breath.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole’s first deployment was rough. She had already seen more than anyone ever should in their life time. She had seen death and evil in all its human forms and it had starting to get to her. She confided in her commanding officer Captain Eli Abrams. That was his job, lead the unit and maintain efficiency. And as far as the unit was concerned, he did his job and did it well. He took time to get to know each member of the unit, but always took a special interest in Nicole. Nicole hadn’t noticed at the time and looking back, she had to admit she was a little oblivious. But it wasn’t a problem until about 3 weeks before they were set to go home. The deployment had taken it’s toll on the unit as a whole and everyone was exhausted (mentally and physically). Nicole made a habit of walking around at night when she had trouble sleeping. God, did she wish she had just stayed in her tent that night. She was walking around their site when a small light caught her eye. She immediately pulled her gun and aimed it at the mysterious light.

 

“Wow, Dallas, relax! It’s just me.” Eli said with his hands up in the air in surrender.

 

Nicole lowered her weapon, “Sorry Sir. Didn’t know it was you.”

 

“Don’t worry about it. What are you doing up? Can’t sleep?” Eli said a little nervous.

 

Nicole picked up on it immediately and notice the small light was coming from a satellite phone in Eli’s hand. Nicole had a bad feeling but didn’t want to alarm him. He was her commanding officer. She should trust him, she has no reason not to. “Yes Sir. Just walking the grounds a little. Thought I would be alone.”

 

“Well it is just the two of us.” Eli says slyly as he moves closer to Nicole.

 

Nicole immediately took a step back. She didn’t like where this was headed. She looked at him and straightened her posture. “Well, if that’s all Sir, I best be getting back to bed. It’s going to be an early morning.”

 

“Dallas, look, I don’t want to be to forward but I think there is something more here.” He reached to grab her but she moved just out of his reach.

 

“With all due respect Sir, this is inappropriate. I am a Marine in your unit.”

 

Eli, obviously noticing how Nicole rejected his advances, tries another angle. “Dallas, I have a proposition for you. I have seen your skills. You would be very sought after in the private sector. You could make some great money working outside the chain of command.  Certain companies would pay you buckets to utilize your skills. I think it’s time you start using your potential that will go untapped in the military. “

 

“I’m sorry Sir, I’m not sure what you mean?” Nicole knew exactly what he meant. But she needed him to say it. Because if she was right, he was asking her to betray the Marines and her country, and work for anyone who had cash. That could be anyone from military contractors and private security corporations to the enemy. Nicole couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her face must have shown her disapproval because before she could respond, Eli has her on the ground and has his hands around her neck. He choked her with his hands and his body kept her pinned down. She struggled for as long as she could before she passed out.

 

When Nicole regained consciousness, she was tied up in a chair. Her mouth was gagged so she couldn't yell and her hands and feet were bound to the chair. She looked around her, a small tire illuminating the space around her. She was in a cave or something, definitely not a room made of cement. The ground was dirt and the air was hot. Nicole went to turn her head but couldn’t because of the pain coming from her neck. She hissed in pain.

 

“Look who is up. So glad you could join us.” A man said in a threatening manner. He walked closer to her and she noticed his uniform. Another Marine. Eli was leaning against the wall ten feet from her.

 

“Where are we? Who the fuck are you?” Nicole spit out.

 

“Who I am doesn’t matter. What does matter is what we are going to do with you. My associate here made the mistake of trying to recruit you and exposed some information we would rather not have out in the open.” The soldier said, pointing to Eli. Nicole didn’t like where this was heading. Before she could contemplate it any further, Nicole felt the impact as a fist connected with her jaw. Another punch came after it and then another. Nicole stopped counting sometime after twenty. Eventually the punches stopped and Nicole spit blood down onto the dirt. The unknown soldier crouched down so he was face to face with Nicole’s hanging head. “I want to hear you beg for a quick death. Because maybe then I’ll be generous and just shoot you in the head.” Nicole lifted her face and spit blood in his face. He backed away quickly, wiping his face before he charged forwards and kicked his boot straight at her chest. The force knocked her chair back, taking Nicole down with it. She hissed and yelped (the pain starting to crack her silence that she had maintained since the beatings started). Nicole’s eyes were closed when a boot stomped down on her chest. It knocked the wind out of her again and she passed out. She awakened to the sound of the soldier talking, “I gotta admit, I’m not enjoying this as much as I should Abrams. She’s a tough bitch to crack. It kinda ruins the fun if they don’t at least beg.” Nicole faded out again.

 

Nicole awoke to the feeling of the chair being stood back on its legs. She opens her eyes and sees the two men are towering above her. The soldier has a sick smirk on his face and Eli is a stonewall of emotionlessness. Eli returns to the wall while the soldier pulls out a gun. He uses it to pistol whip her across the face. He kicks the chair legs and they break, sending Nicole face first into the dirt. The soldier lands on the ground. He had overestimated his own strength. Nicole, acted, wrestling the gun from his loosened grip. She tries to run but falls as her body fails her. She turns on her back and points up just as the soldier is about to stab her with a ka-bar knife. She pulls the trigger twice. Hitting him in the chest. He landed lifeless on top of her. Eli gets the gun from her and restrains her with his weight and the dead marine’s. After some more struggling, Eli hits Nicole in the head until she is unconscious. She awakes again but can’t see well. Nothing is really registering. She hears silence and then she hears yelling. She passes out and the last image she remembers is Liz’s and Green’s faces looking at her Green picked her up out of the dirt.

 


 

 

“And the next thing you remember is waking up at the mobile medical unit?” Liz asks from her place on the floor of Nicole’s room.

 

“Yes.” Nicole responds.

 

“But I still don’t get it. That’s not what the official report said and why isn’t Eli in jail then?” Liz asks, confused and upset.

 

“The report is a lie. Eli was a captain and I found out later that the other soldier was a major. The Corps decided it was better to cover up the incident because they couldn’t prove Eli was a traitor. It was my word against his. Everyone knew the truth, but no one could prove it. They gave him the Big Chicken Dinner (Bad Conduct Discharge or BCD) and buried it. They wanted to diffuse the situation. NCIS investigated it and the Marines took care of my medical needs. I tried to move on and we deployed again late the following year.” Nicole says flatly.

 

“Nicole, you didn’t say anything. You just came back like nothing had happened.” Liz says.

 

“Yeah I did. And our second tour was about as good as a deployment in the region could have been. But when I got home and started school, I started to breakdown. I eventually got help and started going to therapy. They wanted to medicate me but I refused. Eventually I got to a point where I felt okay again. I was high functioning and my PTSD was under control. I haven’t had a problem with it since. Plus, what happened with Eli was only part of my problems when I finally cracked. What we saw out there, it was worse. It was worse because we couldn’t fight back.” Nicole says with a bit of emotion. She shakes her head and clears those thoughts, “But I did get help and moved on with my life. I’m happy with my family and friends in Purgatory. Its dysfunctional and weird, but I think it’s exactly what I needed.” Nicole smiles a little and looks at Liz. “Liz if you need help, I’m here for you. Not only as your commanding officer but also as your friend. I was a shitty friend for never reaching out to you after we came back. I am sorry.”

 

“Dallas, don’t apologize. I could have just as easily reached out to you. I guess we are both shitty friends.” Liz pauses, “I wish I had known back then. I wish I could have helped you get through it. No one should have to go through that alone.”

 

“That’s just it. I’ve always been on my own Liz. Up until recently, I didn’t know how to live any other way.” Nicole admits.

 

“They are really that special, huh? She is that special?” Liz asks with a smile.

 

“Yeah, she and they are.” Nicole smiles big. She turns and opens her drawer to grab the pictures.

 

“They seem great. You look really happy here.” Liz says as she looks at the group photo from Shorty’s. Nicole hands her another photo. “Oh my God is this Laura?! Wow look at you two. I took this photo.” Liz smiles. She looks at Nicole who is looking at the final photo in her hand. She turns it to show Liz but doesn’t hand it to her like she had with the other two. “Wow Dallas. You look really in love.”

 

“I am. I wanna ask her to marry me. I was going to, but then you and Green showed up and I couldn’t.”

 

“I’m sorry Dallas.” Liz apologizes with a frown.

 

“Don’t apologize. This isn’t your fault. And I’m trying to make the best of it.” Nicole says as Liz hands the photos back to her. Nicole takes one last look before putting them back in the drawer.

 

 

Waverly drives into town. She needs to go to the post office and grab the package Pete had called about. Wynonna tagged along too, hoping to get some relief from Doc’s blabbering. The sisters talk about work stuff on the drive to town, only stopping as they pulled into the parking lot of the post office. Both Earps walked in to the office find Pete manning the front desk. He smiles at Waverly and fakes a smile at Wynonna. “G’morning Ladies! How y’all doing?”

 

“We are doing alright, how are you Pete? The kids still keeping you and Carrol up at night?” Waverly asks with a cheery smile.

 

“Oh, you know, kids. God makes them cute for a reason.” Pete responds with a smile.

 

Wynonna makes a comment under her breath but Waverly ignores it (knowing it was probably sarcastic and/or rude. AKA the Wynonna special). “So, you called and said we had a package?” Waverly asks.

 

“Sure do.” Pete pulls a box from the back room and brings it out to the front desk. “Ok so its restricted pickup. There are three authorized people to pick it up.” Pete says, not looking up from the computer screen.

 

“Who are the three people?” Waverly asks, very confused at the moment.

 

“Primary, Waverly Earp. Secondary, Wynonna Earp. Extension: Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls” Pete recites.

 

Waverly hands him her driver’s license and he swipes it on a card reader. This is really strange. Waverly thinks to herself.

 

Pete hands her back her ID and pats the box. “It’s all yours. Have a good day ladies.”

 

Wynonna grabs the box off the counter and the sisters walk to Waverly’s jeep. They open the back and put the box down. Waverly looks at the box and studies the warnings printed on the box. Basically, the theme of them all is the contents of the box are property of the United States Marine Corps until claimed by authorized recipient. Wynonna used her keys to open the box and brake the seal. Waverly pulls the top off and looks inside. There is some clothing and gear stuffed inside under an envelope with Waverly and Wynonna’s names on it. Waverly immediately recognizes the handwriting on the orange envelope. It’s Nicole’s handwriting. Waverly grabs the envelope out of the box and closes the back of the jeep. She walks to the driver’s side and Wynonna to the passenger. They get in and sit in the respective seats. Waverly takes a deep breath before opening the big orange envelope. She tips it, open side down and two smaller envelopes fall out along with a single piece of paper. Waverly puts the empty envelope in the back while retrieving the smaller envelopes and piece of paper. Waverly reads the paper out loud:

 

“Waverly and Wynonna,

I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to give these to you in person. Everything happened super quickly and the paperwork arrived in the mail the day after I left. It was redirected here. My lawyers in Chicago say everything is in order so they just need your signatures. Their contact information is attached if you have any questions.

Love,

Nicole” 

 

Waverly looks at the envelopes in her other hand. One has Wynonna’s name on it and one has Waverly’s. Waverly hands her sister her’s and they both quickly open their respective envelopes and unfold a thick pile of stapled documents. Both women stare at their papers in shock.

 

Wynonna: “Is this what I think it is…”

 

Waverly: “Yeah.”

 

Wynonna: “Does that say…?”

 

Waverly: “Yeah.

 

[long pause]

 

“Holy. Shit.”

Chapter Text

Waverly and Wynonna drove to the Black Badge Division office straight from the post office. The jeep isn’t even at a complete stop as they both jump out and walk in to the police station.

 

“DOLLS!” Wynonna yells!

 

Both Earp girls stomp their way to the BBD office, passing Nedley on their way there. He gives them a questioning look but then returns to his paperwork. The sisters enter the office to find Dolls and Doc looking over a pile of files on the center table. Wynonna advances on Dolls immediately, pushing him from his seat and on to the ground. He definitely wasn’t expecting that.

 

“Earp!” Dolls says as he lands on the ground and Wynonna pins him to the ground, peacekeeper pointed at him.

 

“What the fuck happened to her?! Why the fuck did you not tell us?! AND WHY DID NICOLE SEND US THESE AND ADD YOU TO THE AUTHORIZATION LIST?!” Wynonna yells at him, leaving peacemaker pointed at him.

 

“Nonna please!” Waverly pleads as she pulls Wynonna off of Dolls. He stands up and brushes the none existent dirt off his clothes.

 

“Would someone kindly explain what is going on?” Doc asks.

 

Wynonna pulls out her packet of papers and throws them down on the table. Dolls reads the title on the documents and exhales a deep breath. He shakes his head a little, looking down before raising his eyes to meet the two sisters.

 

“Sit. I will do my best to explain. That’s actually what Doc and I were doing when you came barging in and assaulted me.” Dolls says reluctantly.

 

 Everyone sits down and Dolls dives into the story of what happened to Nicole during her first deployment. He tells them about Nicole’s commanding officer turning on her and betraying his country. He tells them of Nicole’s experience in that cave. He pulls out files from the desk and shows pictures. Hospital pictures. Ones that were taken as a means of evidence collection.  They’re pictures of Nicole when she was admitted. Dolls lets them look at the photos as he continues to tell more about the situation. He lists Nicole’s injuries. Six broken ribs (Some in multiple places), skull fractures, orbital fracture, a couple broken fingers, lacerations everywhere, some damage to her trachea and neck, and some internal bleeding. Dolls admits she was lucky to be alive. He talks about how the official report is not complete and doesn’t tell the story.

 

“So, they covered it up?!” Waverly asks incredulously.

 

“Yes, and Nicole agreed to it.” Dolls confirms.

 

“Why the hell would she do that?” Wynonna jumps in.

 

“If she were to have pursued it, win or lose, her career would’ve been over. Eli was her commanding officer. He was a captain and she was a private. No military court would ever be able to prove and convict him. She wanted to move on, so she let them burry it. He was dishonorably discharged and blacklisted.” Dolls says what a bit of frustration. Pointing at the Wynonna and Waverly’s papers, “In return for the gag order, the military pays for Nicole’s medical expenses. They sent her money every year to cover possible expenses due to the incident.”

 

“What expenses does she have? Why would she need it after she healed?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Wynonna, not all injuries are physical. Many soldiers come back needing more help than anyone knows.  Nicole went through combat, was kidnapped, beaten and abused and then went back to combat a year later. No one is completely sane after doing that. When she came back, she went to school, got the help she needed and then moved on with her life. But the money kept coming.” Dolls says.

 

“She never spent a dime of it, did she?” Waverly asks, knowing Nicole probably didn’t.

 

“No, she did not. She has the money funneled into a trust. As far as I know. She hadn’t even thought about it until she was requested.” Dolls picks up the paperwork Wynonna threw down. “You need to sign this. Both of you.”

 

“I’m not sure I am understanding this…” Waverly says.

 

“Okay” Dolls skims Wynonna’s packet before grabbing Waverly’s from the table. “Basically, these are living trust forms and underneath is her updated Living Will. These documents state who gets what in the event of Nicole’s death.” Dolls looks the documents over again before continuing, “As of the first of the year, the trusts balance was 2.5 plus compact interest. In the event of her death. Ten percent would go to varying charities like the WWP (Wounded Warrior Project). The remaining Ninety percent would be split between the two of you. Forty five percent would go to Waverly and forty five percent would go to Wynonna. Waverly would also get possession of Nicole’s remaining property in the United States and her other assets. That would include her truck, bank accounts, storage unit, etc.”

 

Both sisters look at him as if he was speaking a foreign language. Trying to digest the information they just received, they stay silent.

 

“So… if she dies, she is giving us ninety percent of all of this?” Wynonna asks, not really knowing how to process the information.

 

“No, she is giving Waverly power of attorney in the event of her death. This document is just stating what she wishes to do with the money and how she would like it to be divided. Ultimately, it would be Waverly’s decision...” Dolls clarifies.

 

“Nonna… She is giving us everything. All of it.” Waverly says, obviously breaking out of her initial shock. Waverly doesn’t know what to think. The thought that Nicole would want them to have everything that is her’s is amazing and it makes her heart swell. But the very existence of these documents worries her. Nicole was getting prepared for the worst and that was terrifying.

 

“Waverly, Nicole sent these because this is what she wants.” Dolls says, sensing her hesitation.

 

Waverly looks at her sister and then at the papers. She skims them once again before grabbing a pen off the table. She signs her name on the highlighted areas before pushing the papers towards the center of the table. Wynonna does the same and everyone is silent for a moment before Dolls picks up both packets “This is merely a formality” He says. “You would get almost all of this anyway before these were signed.”

 

“What do you mean?” Waverly asks.

 

“Spouses normally take possession in cases like these, where there are no other relatives.” He says, not realizing what he had insinuated.

 

“We aren’t married.” Waverly says, confused by the comment.

 

“I mean, as her domestic partner of more than two years. You would be entitled to some of it.” Dolls corrects. He mentally kicks himself. Nice one, Stupid! “I’ll have these sent in for you. Her lawyers in Chicago should send you complete copies soon.” Dolls walks out of the room before he says too much and leaves the sisters with a stunned Doc.

 

“Did you know she was tortured? Did she ever… tell you?” Waverly asks her sister.

 

“No, never.” Wynonna says guiltily. “You, Doc?

 

“Officer Haught never said she had been tortured. But Gus and I had our suspicions that she had seen the ugliest sides that humanity has to offer.” Doc responds solemnly. “But, out of respecting her privacy, I did not feel it was my place to bring it up.”

 

“It isn’t any of our places to bring it up.” Waverly says firmly. She didn’t like to hear that Nicole didn’t tell her so much about herself. But Waverly couldn’t honestly say she would have done different if the roles were reversed. Her train of thought is cut off when Doc speaks.

 

“Her former Captain showed up in Purgatory a couple weeks before Nicole left.” Doc says, obviously looking for the connection.

 

“WHAT?!” Both Earp girls exclaim.

 

“Yes. He lured her to a meet and tried to get to her when she departed. Dolls and I stepped in right after the two started to have a physical scuffle.” Dolls clarifies.

 

“That physical altercation was diffused and he left after a few words with Nicole. We made sure she was safe.” Dolls says as he reenters the office.

 

“Where the hell were we?” Wynonna asks.

 

Dolls looks at her with a raised eyebrow and Wynonna falls silent.

 

“The shooting, the day we saw her really shoot for the first time. It was that morning, wasn’t it?” Waverly says with a defeated tone. She knew something was wrong, yet she brushed it off. What the hell kind of girlfriend is she?

 

Dolls nods.

 

Waverly grabs her things and stands to leave but is stopped by Dolls’ voice. “Waverly, this was attached to the back of your packet.  It is addressed to you. Wynonna, here is yours.” Dolls places two pieces of folded paper on the desk. Waverly grabs hers and leaves without another word. No one dares to follow her.

 

 

Email:

To: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

From: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

Subject: Hi Love

2:47pm

 

Baby,

I am so sorry I missed your calls. Things are a little crazy without you here… Actually, things are always crazy here but without you, it’s different and even harder. But everything is okay here. Wynonna hasn’t passed out drunk since you left (yet) so that’s a plus. Doc got the bar top re-finished last week. It looks great. I asked him why he didn’t just replace it and he said it “gave the place character and serves its purpose”. I think he is just being a cheap bastard. Gus made us dinner last night after a long hunt. It was nice to have everyone around, but it doesn’t feel the same without you. Everyone misses you. I think Gus misses her cooking companion. Haha! J I finished my thesis for my degree and I will get my results in a couple weeks. So, I am excited about that. I miss you. I got a box of your stuff sent here this morning. I signed the paperwork. There are definitely some things we need to talk about when you get home. I’ll put the box in your storage unit when I get the chance. How are things going there? Are you doing ok? Being back there and all? I love you. Hope to hear from you soon! BE SAFE!

 

Love,

Waves

 

XOXOXOXOXOXO

Chapter Text

Nicole and her unit are assembled in General Edwards’ office. They all stand in attention as Nicole does verbal training progress reports and goes over unit policies. After she’s finished speaking, she steps back and falls in line. They wait in silence as the General reads through some files. Without a word, he closes a file and hands it towards Nicole. She steps forward and opens it. After a minute or reading, Nicole nods her head and the General begins. “You are all aware of a group known as the Afghan Retaliation Council or ARC. They were a group that was mostly active in the late 1990s. But fairly recently, they have started to pop back on lady liberty’s radar. The group sees themselves as some kind of divine council tasked with punishing those deserving. For example, five years ago an IED went off in a village in Pakistan. A U.S. soldier stepped on it and its exploded. It killed him and four civilians that were nearby. The ARC claims that if the soldiers hadn’t been in the village, then no one innocent would have died. They blame the U.S. for the civilian deaths. So, in turn, they sent three of their members into a train terminal in Florida with suicide vests on. They killed sixteen people. They fail to mention that they were the ones who planted the IED in the village in the first place. But that’s beside the point. This group has been relatively dormant for the last thirteen years, until about eight months ago. The ARC has a new fire and are charging ahead once again. They have killed over thirty soldiers abroad and we have lost contact with all the teams we have sent in thus far. Well, until today…” The General points to the TV on the wall and clicks a button on his computer. The video begins to play. The video is horrible. There are several ARC soldiers standing in line behind two Marines who have their hands bound and are on their knees. Two ARC members remove hoods from the soldiers’ faces. One ARC member begins to talk in Pashto. Then, members of the ARC reveal machetes. Someone pulls out a blow torch and runs it along two blades. The blades are still glowing orange from the heat as they are wielded down on the two Marines. Everyone in the unit bows their heads to look away from the screen. Not wanting or needing to see more. Everyone except Nicole, that is. She stares at the screen, studying it. It is horrible and it makes her want to throw up. But she still watches. Out of respect for those Marines, she watches until the screen goes black. They sacrificed their lives, the least she could do was acknowledge it and stand strong. “The two soldiers in the video were members of the second unit we sent in to track down the leader of the ARC. We don’t know his real name but he goes by Qazi.” The General pauses. “Captain Haught?”

“Quazi loosely translates to Judge in Pashto. His true identity is still secret because no one has ever gotten close enough and lived to tell the tale. The group is incredibly tight knit and loyal. They don’t welcome outsiders easily and are willing to kill out of mere suspicion. During the video, they said that we would be meeting our other two friends soon?” Nicole says, not missing a beat.

“Their bodies showed up at one of our bases near the Afghanistan border this morning. Bodies had to be identified by their tags.” The General admits. “That’s why we are briefing you now. This unit need to do better, be better. The clock is ticking. We will keep you here for training for as long as possible. But we fear time is running out.”

“How long, Sir.” Nicole asks.

“By our numbers… three weeks, maybe less. We want to give you enough time to prepare, but time is not a luxury we have right now. You will be briefed if new information surfaces. Dismissed.” General Edwards concludes.

The unit exits behind Nicole and heads back to their berthing. Everyone grabs copies on necessary files and Nicole cancels remaining training for the day. A night to study the files and intel will do them all some good. The unit disperses and Nicole heads to her room, closing the door behind her. She leans against the door and slides down to the ground. She doesn’t cry or eve feel sad. She just needs a moment to center herself. Then, she stands and walks into the bathroom for a much needed shower.

Nicole exits the shower and changes into her sweats and t-shirt. Once her hair us up, she sits down at her desks and turns on the computer, logging in. She opens up her email after a couple minutes to find a couple unread messages. Most are reports from the day and other usual business stuff, but one is not. Nicole sees the name and immediately opens it, Waverly’s name drawing her in. Nicole reads the email twice before typing her response.

Waves,
God, I miss you too. I am glad to hear not much has changed around there. Tell Doc that I can’t wait to see the new bar top, he had asked my opinion before I left and I told him it might be nice to fix the place up a bit. But I think I agree, the imperfections give it character. Kinda like people. Um... yea, about the paperwork. I’m sorry that’s how this had to happen. I wanted to do it in person and explain everything to you and Wyn. But time wasn’t really on my side. I hope you don’t think any less of me because of all of this. I know I should have told you, but I feared you would treat me differently. Hopefully I was wrong. I am sure Dolls made sure everything was handled properly. Anyways, I am glad Wyn is taking it a little easier. I think her liver probably appreciates it. YOUR THESIS IS ALREADY DONE?! Congratulation babe! That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you! When I get home, we definitely need to celebrate. Oh, and tell Gus I miss her and her cooking too!

Things here are um… rigid. But that’s by design. I can’t really say much of the specifics, but everything is fine here. I think I am in the best shape of my life. My skills are getting more refined every day and I’m enjoying learning new things as I simultaneously learn how to lead a unit/team. Liz is dying to officially met you and everyone. She has it in her head that you have domesticated me or something like that. I’m not saying it’s not true, but I won’t admit that to her. Green broke a finger during sparing yesterday so that sucked but he is all good. Not a big deal (always wrap your hands) haha. It feels weird to be back but not foreign. Kinda like sliding back into old habits I guess. It is good, I guess. I wish I was there with you. I miss working with you and just being with you. You be safe too! I love and miss you. Tell everyone I say hello.

Love,
Nic

XOXOXOXOXO
P.S. Fire and Ice

This message was sent from the desk of Capt. N. Haught. All record is confidential and the unauthorized distribution of any material will be in violation on military code.

 

Nicole wakes up this morning with a new training regimen. She spent close to four hours planning last night. This new program would push their limits and could possibly end in disaster. It is go time. Sink or swim. She looks down at the paper schedule she printed up last night.

0600-0700 – PT: Cardio (10 miles)
0700-0800 – PT: Core (Pushups, Curl Ups, Planks, Burpees)
0800-0900 – PT Strength (Free Weights)
0900-0930 – Break
0930-1000 – Stretching
1000-1100 – Range Shooting
1100-1200 – Break (Lunch)
1200-1315 – Strategy Meeting
1315-1400 – The BLOCK
1400-1600 – Individual Training
1600-1730 – Equipment Training
1730-1830 – Mission Planning/Strategy Meeting

It is a lot and Nicole is more than a little curious to see if it can be done. Their days will start on the track at six am and conclude at six-thirty pm. It’s definitely going to be interesting. Nicole pockets the paper and heads out to the track, closely followed by the rest of her unit.

Two and a half weeks later…
“You okay? You look like you might pass out.” Nicole says with concern as Liz sits in her spot on the floor of Nicole’s room, leaning her back against the bed.

“Yeah, I’m good. Just exhausted. Every time I think my body is about to adjust to this training, it kicks my ass once again. I got to say Cap, I have never been pushed so hard in training. You’re the real deal.” Liz responds.

“Ha, yeah, well we need to be ready. I am pleasantly surprised by our progress and we even beat the course record of the BLOCK this afternoon. We finished just under eight minutes.” Nicole responds with a pleased look on her face.

“You know you belong here, right? Being an officer, a Captain, a leader of a unit. You were born for this. You belong her and deserve to be here. This position brings out the best in you. You have settled into this with little error and have been exceeding everyone’s expectations. And that’s hard to do around her.” Liz says, motioning to the base.

“I guess. I don’t know, part of me feels so right being here. You know? Like back in the U.S., back in the Marines. Part of me feels at home here.” Nicole pauses and looks down at her hands. “That part of me also makes me feel guilty. I have responsibilities back in Canada. Waverly and the rest of my family are there. I shouldn’t be enjoying any part of being away from them.”

“Dallas, it’s okay to be happy you’re back. This was your home up until the last few years. That doesn’t change because you found people elsewhere. I know you love them, but selfishly, I’m happy you’re here.”

“I don’t know, something just feels off.” Nicole says.

“Yeah, I know. I feel it to. The General has been hovering over up more. You think our timeline will be cut short?” Liz asks.

“I have a feeling. But that is for another day.” Nicole stands and pulls her shirt off over her head and heads into the bathroom for a shower. Liz opens the bathroom door a couple minutes later and says goodnight. Nicole washes her hair and body before climbing out and into bed. Her muscles spasm a bit, but the soreness doesn’t stop her from falling asleep quickly.

Chapter Text

Email:

To: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

From: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

Subject: Captain?

8:15 am

 

Nic,

Am I reading your last email right? Captain Nicole Haught? Oh my god! That’s amazing and super sexy! How is training going? Any idea when you’re coming home? I miss you. It is business as usual around here. Killing demons, taking names and looking good while doing it. I had a slight meltdown the other day: I washed all the clothes in the dirty clothes hamper and realized I washed one of your jackets too. So now it no longer smells like you J. I am not even ashamed to admit that it brought me to tears. Anyways. I miss you and I hope you are safe and taking care of yourself. I know you can but I still worry. I love you Captain Haught.

 

Love,

Waves

 

XOXOXOXO

P.S. Fire and Ice?

 


 

Email:

To: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

From: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

 

Subject: Captain?

9:21 pm

 

Baby,

Yeah, I took the exam and got promoted. I can’t really say much more about it but… yeah. The new title and rank is definitely an upgrade ;). Training is tough. We had a briefing today. Didn’t really go well. Our mission is becoming clearer. We aren’t ready yet. I am going to implement a new program tomorrow morning. Coming home? Wave, I’ve only been gone three months. Although I miss you so much, it’s not nearly long enough for them to send me home. I wish though. I miss everyone. And you. And our bed… and Gus’ cooking. Hahaha I’m kidding… Kinda.

 

Glad things are still business as usual there (and I think you look good doing anything) ;).

 

Sorry about the laundry thing. When I get home, I promise I will make it up to you. I am doing fine here. Training is tough but it also feels good to push myself. I miss you more than you could ever know. Tell everyone hello for me. I love you!

 

Love,

Nic

 

XOXOXOXOXO

P.S. Fire and Ice (It’s us)

 


 

 

Email:

To: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

From: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

Subject: You still there?

11:13 am

 

Nic,

I love you. Wynonna got another speeding ticket from Nedley yesterday. He says, without you here, no one seems to be keeping her in line. Anyways, how is the new training going? I miss you.

 

Love,

Waves

 

XOXOXOXOXOXO

P.S. Fire and Ice (Want to explain that to me?)

 


 

Two weeks later…

 

Email:

To: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

From: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

Subject: You still there?

1:45 am

 

Hey,

Are you okay? I haven’t heard from you in a while. You didn’t respond to my last email. I hope everything is okay? I miss you and I love you!

 

Love,

Waves

 

XOXOXO 

 


 

One more week later…

 

Email:

To: Haught, Nicole <haught.n@usmc.com>

From: Earp, Waverly <waverly23@gmail.com>

Subject: You still there?

11:56 pm

 

Nicole please email me back or let me know you are okay? Please, I’m worried and I am starting to freak out a little. Please be okay. I love you!

 

Love,

Waves

 

Chapter Text

“Dolls, don’t give me that crap! I know you know where she is!” Wynonna yells as she stomps her foot like a child.

 

“Earp. I don’t know where she is.” Dolls replies flatly.

 

“I don’t believe you. I know you care about her too. There is no way you are completely clueless.” Wynonna snaps.

 

“I didn’t say I am clueless, I said I don’t know where she is.” Dolls retorts.

 

“Dolls, please. For me. And for Waves. Just please tell us something?” Wynonna almost begs as Waverly enters the Black Badge Division office.

 

Dolls looks almost in pain as the sisters both take seats on the couch. After muttering at his feet for a moment, Dolls strides across the office and closed the door. He turns around and pulls up a chair so he is sitting in front of the sisters. He opens his mouth to speak, but doesn’t get a word out before Doc throws the door of the office open. With a nod, he sits down on the couch so Waverly is in between her sister and Doc. Dolls lets out a frustrated breath…

 

“I lost contact with Agent Haught twenty-three days ago. She stopped responding to secure emails and her location ping on her SAT phone is turned off or disabled. After two weeks or radio silence, I called a few of my contacts back in the States. They couldn’t tell me much and even with my clearance, I can’t get access to her records. Haught, her unit, and their mission are all white walled and out of the system.” Dolls says.

 

“What did your contacts say?” Waverly asks.

 

“Out of full disclosure… Forget it. See for yourself.” Dolls says as he hands Waverly his tablet. Doc and Wynonna look at it from the sides,

 

 

Message:

 

D: Need information.

 

C: Proceed.

 

  1. Need all recent information on a Captain N. Haught USMC. Anything that pertains or connects.

 

C: Need to conform with T.

 

D: If you must.

 

C: Confirmed.

Captain Nicole Haught.

Orders to reinstate.

Officers clearance.

3/4 Nutrition and fitness testing.

Timetable moved.

Nonstandard prot.

Connected to SAT COM until 0400 local time.

Team deployed to field.

Lost contact with team via departure.

Orders, unknown.

Location, unknown.

Point of entry, unknown

Point of exit, unknown

 

D: I need more.

 

C: There is nothing else. White wall.

 

D: Keep me updated. Stop.

 

C: Confirm. Stop.

 

“What the hell does this mean?” Waverly asks. “No one knows where she is? No one knows if she is even alive?!”

 

“Not exactly” Dolls states, trying to calm her. “Nicole is most likely working under General Edwards himself. If this operation is as classified as I think, it is not on the official logs. There is likely no paper trail for this opp.“

 

“Dolls, I don’t even know what this means!” Wynonna says in a frustrated tone as she points to the screen.

 

Dolls sighs, realizing he is going to have to spell it out for her. “Orders to reinstate: basically, means she was requested. Officers clearance: she was promoted. 3/4 Nutrition and fitness testing: Nicole was in sick bay four times. Three were resolved without her needing to do an overnight stay for observation. If I have to guess, this normally has to do with exhaustion and overexertion. Timetable moved: Meaning they left early or had to train faster than expected. They were rushed. Nonstandard prot: They are not using standard protocols. But this whole situation is kinda obvious on that front. Connected to SAT COM until 0400 local time: She was in communications with the satellite communication network until

4 am the day after her last email to Waverly. Then she went offline and has not returned. Team deployed to field: Her team in no longer in the States and is officially deployed.

Lost contact with team via departure: All contact was lost once they left the United States.

Orders, unknown Location, unknown Point of entry, unknown Point of exit, unknown: Are all pretty self-explanatory.” Dolls looks at them. “Basically, we know she was alive and left exactly twenty-three days ago. We know her timeline was moved up, so that’s a possible reason for her not telling us she was leaving. Because of the exclusivity of this operation, I don’t think she got the chance to say goodbye. We don’t know where she is going or when she is coming back.”

 

“And this is good news?!” Wynonna starts to get frustrated again. “Because this sounds like a whole lot of nothing.”

 

“Nonna, please.” Waverly clutches her sister’s hand. “Dolls what was it you said about her being in sick bay?”

 

“If I had to guess, she probably overexerted herself or had minor training injuries when they started the new training program. It’s not uncommon with Speck. Opps. training. I know Haught. She is fine on that front.” Dolls tries to reassure her. “I will let you know if I hear anything else.”

 

“Deputy Marshal? May I ask you a question?” Doc finally speaks.

 

Dolls nods, “Yes.”

 

“Why did you not go with Officer Haught? Why did they not ask you?”

 

All eyes are on Dolls and he fidgets in his seat a little. He looks at his hands and makes them into fists before flattening them out. “Haught called in a favor of sorts. They may or may not have requested me eventually, but Haught made sure they wouldn’t. She only agreed to go as long as I stay here with all of you. She um… she took both of our places, in a way. It is difficult to explain. But, all you need to know is that Nicole made sure I was always going to be here for you.” Dolls says to the group, but looks intently at Wynonna. It took Wynonna a moment to register what he was saying, but once she did, she was squeezing Waverly’s hand tight. Now she understood. Why Nicole made everyone make individual promises to her. She promised Nicole she would protect Waverly. And Nicole made sure Dolls was here for her. To protect them all, but also to be there for Wynonna. Nicole kept her guys home with her. Nicole made sure Wynonna didn’t stand a chance in losing Dolls. Wynonna gets up and excuses herself to go get more coffee. As soon as she is out of the office, she looks up at the ceiling and thanks Nicole for what she did. For always looking out for her, in more ways than one.

  


 

 

Waverly goes home sometime after her sister leaves the office. She is slightly relieved by the recent news but also more terrified. Nicole is truly in the war zone now. She’s not on a base or even in her own country. But there is nothing that Waverly can do about it. Waverly remembers the envelope that was attached to Nicole’s will. She runs up the stairs of the Homestead and enters her room. She shuffles around her closet for the box that had Nicole’s personal affects in it. Waverly couldn’t bring herself to read the letter at the time, so she threw it in the box that it came in. She was supposed to take said box to Nicole’s storage unit, but that was just one more thing she couldn’t bring herself to do. She retrieves the box from her closet and grabs the letter from inside. She unfolds the paper and starts to read:

 

Waves,

There is so much I need to tell you. There is so much about my past that I have tried to forget. I pretended it never happened. And until recently, it has worked out for me. But, me doing that was selfish. I was selfish not to tell you. It kills me, looking back at all the opportunities I had. I hate myself because I made my past effect my future with you. When I was trying for the opposite. But you deserve to know the truth about who I am and why I am who I am. The papers that this letter is attached to are important to me. I want you to understand that. It’s important to me that you get it and use it for something good. I could never bring myself to spend it. I always thought I should invest it or blow it all in Vegas. But I never got to actually doing it. I never found a reason worth it. But then I met you and realized something. I now have a life with you. For the first time, I feel like I have something worth saving and fighting for. This money is exactly that, it’s just money. Money might make life easier, but you can’t buy happiness. I can’t buy the happiness I feel when I’m with you. It is priceless. So, if you want to spend the money on taking more online classes or traveling, do it. You are my everything and I want you to be happy. The fund will stop paying in this year because of my reenlistment, so I think it’s finally time for me to, face the music, as they say. You are welcome to the storage unit. Everything I possess from my past is in there. I’m not sure how long I will be gone and patience is not your biggest virtue. Plus, I think you have waited long enough. I know you, and I know your inner researcher is going crazy right now. I know you have so many questions, and I have so much I want to tell you. So, I figured you might enjoy researching me… in a way. Or you think I am a major asshole and are planning on breaking up with me once I arrive back home. But I really hope that’s not the case. I am hoping you will give me this chance (a second chance) to show you who I was. I know it’s important that you know, but just for the record. The only thing that matters to me is who I am now because of having you in my life. I love you Waverly Earp. I hope you don’t hate me. But I would understand if you did. It’s okay to be angry with me Waves. I deserve it. Don’t hold your emotions inside anymore. Especially from me. I love you with all my heart.

 

Love,

Nicole

 

P.S. Fire and Ice

 

Waverly looks at the letter and rereads it. She doesn’t really know what to say. After a couple minutes of just staring at it, Waverly hears her sister slam the front door as she enters the house.

 

“Nonna!” Waverly yells, hoping her sister will come upstairs.

 

Wynonna comes up the stairs and into Waverly’s room. “What’s wrong Waves?”

 

“Wanna go on a field trip?” Waverly asks with a small smile.

 


 

Wynonna left the station to go get coffee. But instead she decided to go sit in the Purgatory Sheriff’s Station gym. She looks around the lifeless room as she enters. She spent so many early mornings in this room. Sparing, lifting weights, core and training with Nicole and Dolls. And although that was why she was there, she also got to get to know her best friend even more. It wasn’t huge revelations really. More like, the simple stuff. Like how Nicole loves to wear hats (especially snapbacks). Or how she always wrapped her left hand before her right. Or how she always took Wynonna’s failures and turned them into learning moments. Or how Nicole would always keep an eye on her, just to make sure she was okay. Or how she likes to listen to loud music when she showers. Or how she NEVER made Wynonna feel stupid for doing the wrong move or forgetting a step. They were small things, maybe even inconsequential things. But not to Wynonna. Nicole cares about her. They hadn’t known each other well when her and Waves started dating and had a really rough start, but Nicole seemed to care from day one. No one besides Gus and Waves had ever been that way towards her, especially not a stranger. Wynonna pulled her letter out of her jacket pocket. She hasn’t read it yet. She wanted to wait. She wanted to wait until she needed to. And right now, she needed to.

 

Wyn,

I know we all put a lot of pressure on you. And I’m sorry I continue to do it to you. I’m sorry I am leaving and I’m sorry that I am making you promise me things. I know you can handle it. But sometimes I fear you carry too much on your back. You task yourself with protecting all of us from demons and basically every other shithead in this town. But I want you to know that you don’t have to carry that load on your own. You may not understand why, but I did something. I did it to keep my family safe. I did it because I knew you needed someone who loves you to protect you. I needed someone who cares for you just as much as I do, but is also willing to call you on your bullshit. I did it so you don’t have to feel so alone. He cares about you and I know you care about him. You both are just too stubborn to admit it to yourselves. It’s been a long road and we aren’t even close to the end. But the way I see it, a road trip is so much better when you’re not alone. I love ya Wyn. You are loved by me and sooooo many others. Don’t forget that. Please take care of yourself. I am gonna need my best friend back once I get home.

 

Love,

Nicole Haughtstuff

P.S. I owe you tons of doughnuts once I get home.

 

Wynonna carefully folds the letter up into a square and puts it back into her jacket. She stands up and wipes the single tear that is threatening to spill from her eye. You got this. With one more deep breath, Wynonna leaves the gym and heads for the BBD office.

Chapter Text

“Dolls.” Wynonna says as she walks into the BBD office. He is sitting at his desk, but his chair is turned around and he is looking out the window. “Dolls?” She repeats and he does look away from the window this time, to acknowledge her. But after another moment, he is looking out the window again.

 

“Yes, Earp.”

 

Wynonna walks over and sits down on his desk so she is sitting next to him. She looks down at his hands and notices the way he is clutching them into fists and then relaxing them. “You okay?” She finally asks.

 

“Nicole made sure I was here. She sacrificed her queen in a way. She did it for you. And I know that’s the point of me being here. But there is another reason she did it.”

 

“Okay, what’s the reason?” Wynonna asks, genuinely curious.

 

“Nicole knew what her answer was going to be if they came for her. Although I know it was hard to go, she knew she had to go. She had to go back. But for me, I don’t know. I don’t know what I would have done. And that’s dangerous. Nicole made a decision to protect you and me.”

 

“And what’s wrong with that?” Wynonna asks, her confusion evident on her face. Why is he so upset over this?

 

“The part that is bothering me is that if I had gone, maybe she would be better protected. She has a team, I know. But her and I are… friends. And we work together. WE are a team. I just feel…” Dolls stops short.

 

“You are worried about her” Wynonna finishes his thought.

 

“I know she can take care of herself. Trust me, she is a good officer and agent, but she is an incredible soldier. That’s where she thinks she belongs. Part of me wishes I was there with her.” Dolls says, finally unclenching his fists and turning to face Wynonna.

 

“I think it’s a little comical that Nicole left you here to protect me.”

 

“She knows I care about you Wynonna. She had to leave the woman she loves. She wasn’t going to make me do the same.” Dolls says.

 

Wynonna slides off the desk and crouches in front of him. “Dolls. What is happening right now?”

 

“I am being upfront and honest. I care about you and I know you care about me. I don’t know what that means for us. But I know you and I know you are holding too much on your own. I’m here to protect you and care for you Wynonna.”

 

“Okay? So…?”

 

“So, let’s start with you going home and spending the night with your sister. She needs you now. But tomorrow, we start new. I am still your boss, but I’m also your friend and maybe something more… eventually. You can lean on me for support Earp. That’s what people do for those they care about.”

 

“Okay.” Wynonna says as she stands. He stands and they hug for a long time. She looks up from the hug and sends Nicole another silent thank you.

 


 

Wynonna returns home to her sister yelling for her to come upstairs. Wynonna goes upstairs to find Waverly sitting on the floor of her bedroom, looking through Nicole’s box. “Wanna go on a field trip?” Waverly asks her, a small smile gracing her face.

 


 

The two sisters drive to Nicole storage unit. As they do, Waverly explains that Nicole is giving her free range of the unit. Basically, Waverly is bouncing in her seat, excited and a little nervous, to see Nicole’s past. They arrive at the storage unit and Waverly makes quick work of opening up the door. Once inside, they lock the door and stand there.

 

“Where should we start?” Wynonna asks her sister.

 

Waverly thinks for a moment before responding. She points to the boxes piled up in the back. They are labeled Texas. “From the beginning.”

 

The sisters move towards the back and begin opening boxes. After four hours and many boxes, Waverly and Wynonna have blasted through the first fifteen years on Nicole’s life. They look through the boxes and catalog everything like an actual research project. They found a baby album in the first box, its Nicole’s. In the photos, she has curly red hair and has an obvious obsession with eating apples. The album has photos from before birth until Nicole is at age two. If the photos are any indication, she looked to have a normal childhood. She looks happy, smiling in every photo. There is even a photo of her at two years old. She has a handful of cake shoved into her mouth and frosting all over her. The photo makes the sister laugh so hard. Waverly can’t contain how cute she thinks Nicole was as a baby.

 

They move on, box after box. In one box that seems to be filled with everything Nicole from age ten to fourteen, they find photos of her and her dad shooting in what Waverly assumes to be their back yard. Nicole is on her father’s shoulders in one photo, holding a paper target. Nicole’s smile is wide as the target shows a nice grouping in the center. Then things get a little… off. Around age fourteen, the photos seem to change a bit. The activities are the same, but the look on Nicole’s face changes. She still smiles in a lot of photos, but not really. They show closed mouth smiles and something clouding her eyes. Something has obviously shifted with the young woman. Waverly opens another box that seems to encompasses Nicole’s high school years. There is a photo with a boy around her age (they both look to be about fourteen or fifteen). He has an arm slung around her. Waverly flashes a bit in jealousy until she realizes there is something written on the back of the photo. It reads: Nicole and Andrew. Age 15. Then there is a different set of handwritings below it. Waverly recognizes it as Nicole’s: Best friends since birth and we never once got sick of one another. I miss you Andy. Rest in peace brother. Wynonna finds a newspaper clipping in that same box. The article is talking about a young man who was fatally killed by a drunk driver. The young man was Nicole’s friend Andrew. The article says he died at the scene along with his father. They find Nicole’s uniform from her high school basketball days as well as a hockey uniform. Wynonna notices the letter C stitched into both jerseys (indicating Nicole was a varsity team captain). Waverly finds a photo and roster book. Nicole played three years of varsity basketball and three years of varsity hockey. She didn’t play either as a senior. Waverly wonders why until she remembers that her mom got sick right around that time. Than the boxes seem to end. Nothing after her mom gets sick besides a notebook. Its Nicole’s. Its filled with sketches and notes. Sometimes it’s just her rambling. Based on what Nicole writes about and what she draws, she worked on this notebook while she was in the hospital with her mom. On the final page, there is a photo taped to it. It’s a photo of her family. Nicole looks to be about fifteen years old. She is on her brother’s back with her parents on either side. Everyone is smiling and Nicole seems really happy. Another photo is taped to the back cover of the notebook. Its Nicole again, but she isn’t smiling. She is asleep next to her mother in a hospital bed. Her mom is kissing the top of her head and has a teenage Nicole wrapped close to her. The photo brings Waverly to tears. It is incredible touching that Nicole was so close with her mom, but also incredibly sad that her mom was ripped away from her as she just started to grow into the woman she is. Waverly closes the notebook and puts it back into the box. Wynonna and Waverly neatly pack up the boxes and place them where they found them. They lock up the storage unit and go to the Diner for an early dinner. The whole time talking and making an effort to enjoy their time together. The biggest takeaway from this day: “Life is short and your family can be taken away quicker than you expect. Nicole lost her mom and her family as a whole at a very young age. The two sisters felt the impact of that and wanted to be together and savor ever moment of it.

 


 

Twenty-three days earlier…

 

“Dallas, you should sleep. You kinda look like death warmed over.” Liz says from across the cabin. Nicole hasn’t moved or spoken since they got on the cargo plane. The rest of their team is sleeping in their seats upfront. The flight is loud and the supply crates around them creak constantly. Their conversation can’t be heard by anyone, even if they tried to listed. Nicole is sitting on ground, staring ahead at nothing.

 

“I am not tired.” Is all Nicole responds with.

 

“Dal, it’s going to be a long flight. Please get some rest. We are going to need you at one hundred percent once we touchdown.” Liz insists. She can’t hide her concern.

 

“I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t tell them I was leaving the base. I didn’t get the chance. I…” Nicole’s voice fails.

 

“Dallas, this is your job. They have to understand that. If they can’t, then they aren’t the right people for you. Our job means not hearing from us for extended periods of time.” Liz says a little harshly.

 

“It’s not that. I miss them. I haven’t ever had someone to go home too. It changes everything. I have a good reason, hell many good reasons, to get back home. It makes me train harder, run faster, jump higher, study more. It makes me a better soldier. But it also makes me painfully aware of what I have to lose.” Nicole says without hesitation. She stands and takes a step towards Liz. “I am a better person because of them being in my life. I am allowed to feel worried that they can’t get ahold of me. Those thoughts leave me, the outside world, leaves me the second I step off this plan. But until then, I am allowed to sit in the back of a plan and think.”

 

Liz notices the change in Nicole’s posture and takes a step back.

 

“Dismissed. Lance Corporal Farrell” Nicole says.

 

Liz knows that Nicole is in full business mode now. The title made it clear. Liz leaves to go to the front of the plane. Nicole sits back down and pulls out her pictures. She looks at the three of them for a couple more minutes before putting them back in the breast pocket of her uniform. She stands, claps her hands together and walks up to meet the others. They have another six hours of the flight left. Time to get her head in the game.

Chapter Text

As the weeks go by, the Earp sisters fall into a routine. Wynonna wakes up early to train with Dolls. Waverly and the team meet up later in the morning. Then they hunt all day for varying Revenants and demons. Then they head home and try and relax. But Saturday nights are special. Instead of heading home, the Earp girls get takeout food for dinner and head to Nicole’s storage unit. They eat in there while they look through anything that isn’t locked up. They stay late, knowing they don’t have to get up early the next day (Sunday). They do this every week and after nine weeks, they have gone through most of Nicole’s unit. Really, the most interesting parts were the boxes from Texas. Or maybe the single box from Nicole’s college days. Waverly laughed last week when she found the box. It was half full. Inside was a Chicago State University hoodie, a couple pictures, and Nicole’s diploma that impressed Waverly (Nicole had double majored in Criminal Justice and International Studies and minored in Psychology). The pictures from the beginning of school looked different. Nicole looks aged and her eyes have an almost vacant look in them. But by the last photo, Nicole looks more like her happy self.

 

Waverly looks around the unit from Nicole’s desk chair, eating her salad. Her eyes finally focus on the one thing they haven’t checked, the two brown duffel bags sitting on the long table. Waverly had noticed their well-used state the first time she came here with Wynonna and Nicole. She puts her salad on the desk and walks over to the table. She reads the side of the bag where Haught N. is displayed. Waverly opens the first bag and pulls out its contents. There is some beat up body armor, a helmet, and a set of bent sunglasses. Waverly looks it all over before placing it all back in the bag. She moves on to the second duffle. The contents are similar to the first, but also includes a vacuum sealed bag with a formal looking uniform inside, a small box with a medal inside and a set of empty silicone silencers for a pair of dog tags. Waverly lifts her hand to the pair hanging from her neck. She found them in the box the military sent home containing Nicole’s personal affects. She felt like they grounded her, made it I little easier to have Nicole gone. Waverly starts to put everything back in the bag until she notices something on the body armor vest. She takes another look and confirms what she thought at first glance. It’s compromised. Two holes: one near the right shoulder and the other right on the side of where the vest starts. They are clearly from large pieces of shrapnel. They are jagged and surrounded by smaller versions all over the vest. A bomb? Waverly wonders to herself. She is brought from her thoughts by the sound of Wynonna hand smacking the large safe.

 

“God! What is it!” Wynonna pleads in frustration. “I have literally tried every combination I can think of!”

 

Waverly laughs at her sister, “Hey, it’s getting late. We should really get going. Gus wants us to meet her for breakfast tomorrow.”

 

Wynonna nods and stands. They lock up and head for home. They don’t talk for most of the ride home, content to listen to the soft sound of the radio.

 

“She has been gone for over five months and I miss her. But I have to admit, it almost feels easier now than before.” Waverly breaks the silence. “How horrible does that sound? What is wrong with me?”

 

“Nothing is wrong with you Waves. I know you miss her and I know we go to that storage unit once a week because it makes you feel closer to her. I get it, because I feel it too… in a different way of course. But you are more than Haughtstuff’s girlfriend. You are Waverly Earp. You are an annoyingly intelligent person who works with a bad ass secret team that hunts demons. You were awesome before she came into your life, that hasn’t changed. You are not defined by her, but she is important to you and she adds a lot to your life. Nothing wrong with any of that.” Wynonna states in a tone that says it isn’t up for discussion.

 

Waverly smiles a little and refocuses on driving home, listening to the soft crackle of the radio as they go.

 


 

Nicole steps off the plane with her team in tow. She feels gross. The last twelve weeks have been spent in country. Nicole definitely didn’t miss Afghanistan. They had been off the grid for the duration of their time there and Green almost cried (tears of joy) when Nicole used a SAT phone to call in and request transport back home. Nicole desperately needs a shower and a clean change of clothes. The team goes back to their on-base quarters and goes about their business. After an hour, their presence is requested in General Edwards’ office. They assemble there and brief him on their findings.

 

“Sir, we do have a previous location for him. But by the time we entered the region, he was gone. We believe he is traveling North and hiding in the Hindu Kush mountain range. Best guess is near Noshaq. We tracked communications in the area that confirmed these suspicions. Unfortunately, this means we will have to wait for him to leave that region. We took out several members of his organization, all green lit and confirmed. We have detailed field notes in the files.” Nicole reports.

 

“That will be all.” General Edwards says to the unit. “Captain? A moment?” The rest of the unit leaves and it’s just Nicole and Edwards.

 

“Sir.”

 

“Dallas have a seat.” Nicole sits in a chair and he pulls out a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. Nicole waves him off, so he only pours for himself. “How are you doing?”

 

“I am fine Sir. It was a successful mission. Not much to complain about. We will get him once he crawls out from his hole.”

 

“Dallas. Go home. The rest of the unit too. We will monitor the situation and keep you updated.” The General orders with a smile. “You did a good job Captain. Now go tell your team they can go home.”

 

“Thank you, Sir.”

 


 

Nicole sits at her desk, looking at her ticket that was just printed out. She has the desk phone to her ear and is dialing. A few rings go by before someone answers.

 

“Dolls” He sounds like he hasn’t had his morning coffee yet (or Wynonna is being particularly annoying).

 

Nicole smiles, “Put me on speaker phone, will you?”

 

“With pleasure.” He responds, obviously pleased to hear Nicole’s voice.

 

She hears the crackle sound that indicated she is now on speaker phone in the BBD office.

 

She takes a breath before she speaks, “So, I was thinking we could have Chinese food for dinner tonight. That is, with the condition that I get a ride home from the airport when I land in ten hours.”

 

Silence cuts through the call and Nicole holds her breath. After a few moments of dead silence, the other end of the call erupts.

 

“What the hell?! Is that you Haughtstuff? Wynonna yells.

 

“Hi baby!” Waverly squeals. “Are you okay?”

 

“Hi Waves” Nicole responds, tears already threatening to spill.

 

“What the fuck? This better not be some cruel prank for accidentally shooting Dolls’ mirror off his car.” Wynonna adds.

 

“You did what?!” Nicole chokes.

 

“Not important” Wynonna quickly adds.

 

“Hey, look I have got to go or else I’m gonna miss my flight, but I’ll see you soon. Love you guys!”

 

Nicole quickly emails Dolls her arrival time and packs up the laptop and the remainder of her belongings. Once she’s done, she puts the backpack on her back and slings the duffle bag over her shoulder. She walks out her door and tugs it closed to make sure it locks. Liz and the rest of the team are in the common area, all packed and ready to go (except for Green). “Green, move it or lose it.” Nicole shouts down the hall as the all head for the door. Green joins them and they all head down to the SUV’s parked out front. All loaded up and ready to go, the SUVs depart the base and head towards the airport.

 


 

Liz hugs Nicole when they get to her gate. Her flight is about to start loading. “Take care of yourself Dallas. See you soon. Unfortunately, we will have to go back to get the prick eventually.”

 

“Yeah, same for you too. But I’m gonna focus on the good stuff right now. Don’t be a stranger, okay?” Nicole responds as she gets in line to board. The pilot salutes her as she passes and boards the plane.

 


 

It is seven forty-five pm by the time Nicole’s plane lands. She is starving and exhausted, but also nervous and excited. She gets into the departure area and goes down a long hallway with another soldier she sat next to who is visiting his wife and her family in Canada as a surprise. Nicole can just make out her entourage as she shakes his hand and they part ways. She walks down the hall, bags in hand, looking at the small group at the end. Waves is there, as is Dolls and Wynonna. The sisters are turned away from her, talking to Dolls. But he sees her and points above Waverly’s shoulder until she notices Nicole walking towards them. Waverly instantly runs towards her and launches herself into Nicole’s body, clinging to her like a tree. Nicole had dropped her bags to her side right before Waverly collided with her. Nicole grips Waverly in a strong bear hug and feels Waverly’s shaking body clutch on to her for dear life. Waverly is crying and Nicole is all smiles as she kisses the side of Waverly’s head. Nicole eventually sits down (Waverly still in her arms). After probably ten full minutes, Waverly pulls her face from Nicole’s body and finally kisses her properly, tears still streaming down her face. She smiles as she breaks the kiss, “Welcome home baby.”

 

“I love you.” Nicole responds.

 

They kiss again before Nicole speaks to the other two who are still standing fifteen feet away, “So are you two happy to see me or purely the chauffeurs?” Nicole asks with a smirk. Wynonna and Dolls walk over and help the two women up from the ground. Nicole grabs her bags and they walk to the car. Waverly holds Nicole’s unoccupied hand as they walk. Once Nicole’s bags are in the back, the Earp sisters and Nicole climb into the back seat. Dolls pulls away and looks into his rear-view mirror after he gets onto the highway. Nicole is in the middle seat with both Earp girls leaning into her. Waverly on one side, holding Nicole’s hand to her mouth and her head and body are curled up into Nicole’s side. On the other, Wynonna has an arm looped with Nicole’s and her head leaning on Nicole’s shoulder. All three are so focused on each other that none of them realize when Dolls pulls out his phone and takes a photo of them.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Haught, a word?” Dolls asks as they all exit the SUV. The Earp girls both give him and Nicole questioning looks, before heading inside the house. Nicole can feel Waverly’s reluctance as she releases her hand for the first time since they reunited. Once Dolls hears the front door click shut, he turns to Nicole. Nicole pauses, knowing what this is about, but not sure how to proceed. She waits a beat before she starts to slowly walk to the Homestead fence line. Dolls follows at her side silently. Once they reach the boundary line, Nicole stops and leans against the wood fence. Dolls mirrors her position soon after.

 

“We think we know where he is and we found his true identity. It was successful on all accounts, but I left feeling unfinished. The mission is unfinished. We were only supposed to go for reconnaissance. It was supposed to be a non-contact mission. But it wasn’t. “Nicole says softly.

 

“And?” Dolls prods. He can tell Nicole is battling something inside. “Haught, you feeling alright?”

 

“Dolls, I am fine. I am under control. But everything feels unfinished. That’s all.” Nicole says, a small smile spreading across her features.

 

They stand up and start back towards the house, “How long?”

 

“Best guess, a year.” Nicole replies. “He isn’t planning on coming out anytime soon.”

 

They enter the house to find Gus and Waverly in the kitchen, Doc on the couch, Wynonna next to him. Nicole looks between Dolls and the Earp heir and Dolls gives her a small nod and smile. Nicole mirrors his actions (happy he and Wynonna finally got their heads out of their asses). Nicole walks into the kitchen and leans in the doorway, careful not to disturb the two women engrossed in conversation. Waverly stops midsentence (sensing Nicole’s presence) and turns to see her. Her smile widens as Nicole pushes off the wall and strides over to them. Gus continues stirring and she uses her unoccupied hand to pat Nicole’s cheek in a comforting greeting.

 

“Glad to have you back Darlin’.” Gus says with a small smile (never one to show too much emotion).

 

“Glad to be back.” Nicole responds as Waverly leans her back into Nicole’s chest.

 

They all eat a HUGE meal together on the porch, just like they had before Nicole had left. It was way better than Chinese food. Nicole eats a ton and surprises everyone when she goes in for thirds. Waverly takes this time to notice the difference in Nicole’s physique. She is still Nicole, but she has obviously lost some weight and also put on some more muscle. Her shoulders and back are obviously built stronger and Waverly can tell by the way Nicole is walking that she has probably added more muscles to her core. Waverly wouldn’t be surprised if Nicole’s six pack is even more defined than it was before she left. The thought makes Waverly’s body flash with heat. She recovers quickly though when Wynonna elbows her in the side.

 

“Ow. What?” Waverly inquires.

 

“You think she looks really hot in uniform, don’t you? I saw the look you were just wearing. Don’t try and deny it.” Wynonna teases.

 

“Nonna.. I… um…” Waverly stutters before she gives in. “Yup.” 

 

Wynonna laughs, “Well I guess you are not going to be leaving your room for the next couple days.”

 

“From your lips to God’s ears” Waverly mocks.

 

“Ew! Okay we are done talking about this.” Wynonna concedes.

 

Nicole walks back outside but doesn’t sit back down. “Hey, I’m gonna go upstairs and change and then I think Doc wants me to explain why WNBA basketball is way better than NBA basketball.” Nicole says with a giggle.

 

Both sisters just shake their heads and laugh as Nicole heads inside. “Aren’t you gonna go with her?” Wynonna asks her sister with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Nope. Because if I do, Doc will never get his basketball lesson.” Waverly says with a naughty smile and a laugh.

 

Wynonna lets out a mock disgusted groan before they head inside to watch the game.

 


 

“Doc it’s not that complicated. NBA is a testosterone driven league. It’s all about dunking and trick shots in the men’s games. WNBA is about finesse. Women’s basketball is about mastering the fundamentals. Its raw and unfiltered.” Nicole summarizes her rant as the game clock hits the last final minutes. The game is a blowout. The Toronto Raptors killed the Miami Heat by over forty points. Slowly, everyone gets up and ready for bed. Wynonna and Dolls head to her room, Doc walks out to the barn and Nicole helps Gus make herself a makeshift bed on the couch. Once that’s done and Gus thanks her, Nicole heads upstairs to Waverly’s room. She opens the door to find Waverly sitting on the bed, obviously waiting for her. Waverly stands and takes a single step so she is inches from Nicole’s tall form. Waverly slips her hands up and wraps them around her neck, pulling Nicole down for a kiss. It is strong and Nicole doesn’t object when Waverly deepens the kiss a few moments later. Waverly is starving for Nicole. It had been a long five and a half months. Everything was escalating and Waverly’s hands start to move down to Nicole’s breasts. As soon as Waverly’s hands make contact, Nicole pulls away as if she has been burned. Waverly freezes, a mixture of fear and hurt washing over her features.

 

“Oh god, Nicole are you okay? Did I do something wrong?”

 

Nicole notices Waverly’s concern and immediately tries to console her. “Baby, no you didn’t do anything wrong, I’m sorry. It’s just, I’m exhausted. And um, this is going somewhere and I… I am just a little low on energy right now Waves. I’m sorry.” Nicole says.

 

Waverly lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, in relief. Nicole comes over to her and hugs her lightly. They both get into bed and turn out the lights. Waverly spoons into Nicole’s body and Nicole drapes an arm over Waverly’s body protectively. Waverly falls asleep a short time later, breathing slow and calm. Nicole on the other hand is very much awake. Her stomach is in knots because of guilt. For the first time in their relationship, Nicole just lied to Waverly. She feels disgusted with herself and has a strong urge to puke. She eventually finds restless sleep until she wakes up at 4:30am. She arrives at the station gym at 4:50 and is already lifting weights by the time Dolls and Wynonna show up. Dolls doesn’t seem surprised to see her but Wynonna sure is. “Shouldn’t you be locked up in a bedroom right about now, making up for lost time?” Wynonna asks Nicole sarcastically.

 

Nicole doesn’t respond and that’s when Wynonna notices the earbuds in her ears. Wynonna walks into Nicole’s line of sight and gives a halfhearted wave to get her attention.

 

“Shit, sorry. Did you say something?” Nicole apologizes as she pulls the loud music from her ears.

 

Wynonna repeats her line with pride and Nicole simply responds with a shrug and “ain’t no rest for the wicked”. Wynonna regards this as strange and is even more weirded out when Nicole doesn’t work out with them. Rather she leaves for a run a few minutes after they arrive and doesn’t come back until they are out of the gym, showered, and back in the office.

 

The next day, same thing. Wynonna wants to call Nicole out, but Dolls urges her not to. “Let her get back into the swing of things. Give her time to adjust.”

 


 

 

After a full week of this, Wynonna has had enough. She is bitter and is taking it out on a stack of pancakes that are on her plate. “Wow, okay? What’s going on? What did those pancakes ever do to you?” Waverly says from across the table. They are alone at the homestead and having breakfast together. They had asked Nicole and Dolls to eat with them, but apparently Dolls and Nicole had some Black Badge briefing to do.

 

“I am frustrated. It’s been a week and she has barely said two words to me. She won’t work out with me, she barely works with me and she seems to almost be avoiding being around me. We are supposed to be friends! And Dolls keeps telling me to give her time and I know he knows something, but he won’t say!” Wynonna rants with a huff at the end. Exhaling a long breath.

 

“I get it.” Waverly says.

 

“What do you mean you get it?” Wynonna seems genuinely surprised.

 

“I get it” Waverly reiterates. “She kinda doing the same with me. Like we have these moments where she seems to want to be near me but then she always pulls away at the last second. And um… we haven’t… you know… um…” Waverly folds her hands in her lap, “…since she left.”

 

Wynonna looks genuinely shocked. “Waves are you telling me you haven’t had sex since before she left for almost six months?”

 

“Um… yeah.”

 

“What? How?” Wynonna seems to not know which question to ask first. “How is that even possible?”

 

“Every night she is either already asleep by the time I get upstairs or says she is too tired to. Or, like last night, she didn’t come home until after I was asleep. I don’t know what to do. Like, what if, she doesn’t want me anymore? Or if she found someone else?“ Waverly says, fear and hurt color her voice.

 

“You think she got with that Liz girl?” Wynonna asks, surprised by her sister’s fear. Wynonna knew Nicole was a lot of things, but she never pegged her for a cheater. It just didn’t make sense.

 

“It’s not just that. She’s been distant in general. I’m worried. And Doc is too. He saw Nicole walking around in the middle of the night two days ago, in nothing but a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I don’t think Nicole would ever cheat on me. But at this point, I don’t know what to think.”

 

Wynonna sits and contemplates this information. Something was missing. The sisters let the topic die and continued their day. Its Sunday and they are determined to enjoy it as much as possible before work tomorrow.

 


 

Wynonna wakes up at two am. Dolls is sleeping calmly beside her and she carful gets out of bed as to not disturb him. She heads to the kitchen for a glass of water. She walks out into the living room on her way back and looks out the front window at the drive way. Something is off and it takes her a moment to realize why. Nicole’s cruiser isn’t there. Wynonna panics a bit and quietly heads upstairs. She checks Waverly’s room and confirms Nicole is not there. Where the hell is she? I know she was here when I went to bed earlier! Wynonna paces in the living room for a few minutes before grabbing the keys to the truck and going outside. She climbs in, releases the parking break and puts the car into neutral. It rolls down the driveway until its off the property. Wynonna finally starts the vehicle (hoping she got far enough away from the house as to not disturb anyone’s slumber) and heads to look for Nicole.

Chapter Text

Wynonna drives towards town, looking through the darkness for any sign of Nicole. Wynonna finally kits the police station and sees Nicole’s cruiser is parked in its usual spot. Wynonna can feel the anxiety starting to boil inside her. What is she doing here? Wynonna quietly exits the truck and enters the police station. She walks in and sees that the on-duty officer (who is manning the desk) is asleep with his head on the counter. Wynonna looks over his slumped form and confirms Nicole is not at her desk. Next, she checks the Black Badge office but comes up empty. After checking the filing room, the armory and the breakroom, Wynonna finally has an idea of where Nicole is. She hears sounds of contact in the gym. Who is in the gym at three in the morning? Wynonna gets a quick answer as she looks through the window of the door to see Nicole beating the crap out of a punching bag. Wynonna watches from her spot for a moment, trying to understand what is going on in front of her. It was definitely Nicole in there, the fiery red hair makes it obvious. But the moves are so uncharacteristic of Nicole. She is throwing heavy hits but they are unorganized and so unlike anything Wynonna had ever seen from Nicole. Nicole had always been a clean and calculated fighter, but that’s not what this is. It takes Wynonna another moment to realize what she’s looking at in front of her. Aggression and pain. Anger. The realization makes Wynonna shutter. Wynonna is still thinking about the implications of this information when Nicole gives an exceptionally hard hit the bag. The bag goes flying forward and Nicole makes no move to try steady it. Instead, she walks towards the locker room and showers. Wynonna takes this opportunity to follow Nicole. Wynonna has just entered the locker room where Nicole is taking off her shirt and is clad in a sports bra and a pair of basketball shorts. Wynonna can’t stop the gasp that she releases when she sees Nicole’s body. Nicole looks up and sees the horrified look on the elder Earp’s face. She tries to cover herself with the shirt, but it’s too late. Wynonna is staring at her abdomen and pulling the shirt away so she can see.

 

“Oh my god Nicole!” Wynonna says as she surveys the bruising and cuts that are littered across Nicole’s abdominal region and chest, “What? Who did this?”

 

“Wynonna please! Don’t tell Waverly!” Nicole quickly moves from Wynonna’s prodding hands, trying to put some space in between them.

 

“Nicole! What the hell! Who did this to you?!” Wynonna is angry and in protective mode now.

 

“Wynonna please-“ Nicole is cut off by Dolls and Waverly walking in to the locker room, both with guns drawn. “Shit”

 

“What the hell is going on? I woke up and both of you were gone. No note, no explanation.” Waverly starts.

 

Dolls seems to understand from the moment he looks at Nicole’s face and is already putting his gun down and walking out the door. It’s then that Waverly notices the look on Wynonna’s face and the way Nicole has a workout shirt held to her abdomen. “What the shit is going on?!”

 

Nicole looks down at her feet and Wynonna still hasn’t taken her eyes off Nicole. Waverly recognizes the look in Wynonna’s eyes, protective. Why would Nicole need Wynonna’s protection right now? Its only then that a draft of air moves the shirt a bit and Waverly sees a flash of blackish purple. Waverly immediately moves towards Nicole but is stopped by Wynonna’s arm. Wynonna wraps her sister in a hug from behind and holds her a few feet from Nicole. Nicole has a weird look on her face that suggests she hasn’t taken a breath since Wynonna entered the room a minute ago. There is a long exhale before Nicole slowly drops the shirt from covering her. Her injuries are now on full display and Wynonna is struggling to keep Waverly in place.

 

“What happened to you Nicole? Who did that to you?” Waverly asks, anger and kindness battling for dominance.

 

Nicole doesn’t answer and still hasn’t looked up from the floor. Wynonna sees the scared caged animal posture Nicole is exhibiting. “Hey, why don’t you take a shower and clean up? We will wait out here for you.” Wynonna offers. Hoping it will alleviate some of the tension. Nicole nods slightly, still not looking up, before heading down the hall to the showers. After Nicole is out of sight and the water is turned on, Wynonna releases her sister. Waverly isn’t moving though. Just staring at the hallway where Nicole just disappeared to. Waverly eventually shakes her head and sits down on the locker room bench with her sister and they wait. “Waves? Babygirl?”

 

“Why didn’t she just tell me? Why did she stay silent? She was pulling away from me because it was hurting her. And I actually jumped to the conclusion that she didn’t want me anymore or worse, that she was cheating on me. What kind of person, what kind of girlfriend does that? How did I not know? How did I not notice or consider this?” Waverly thinks back through the last week. She hasn’t seen Nicole get undressed or redressed since she came home. She has been showering at the gym and they haven’t had sex. Nicole was hiding her injuries.

 

“Waves, it’s not your fault. None of it is.” Nicole says, appearing out of thin air. “I should have just come out and told you. But I was ashamed. And I didn’t want to create any more stress in your life.”

 

“Nicole, I thought something was wrong with us. That you didn’t want me or had found someone else.” Waverly says, obviously frustrated.

 

“Waves, I think it’s clear me hiding things from you always ends badly. Apparently, it’s also clear that I haven’t learned the lesson yet because here we are again. Your hurt, because of me and my stupid choices. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to cause you anymore pain or worry, but instead I did the opposite. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for hiding it, I’m sorry for leaving and I am sorry for not being good enough. You deserve better.” Nicole gets up to leave, frustration with herself clear on her face, but is stopped by Waverly’s hand grabbing her wrist.

 

“Please don’t walk away, please don’t pull away from me again.” Waverly says, trying to hide the pleading tone. “Please just tell us what is happening.”

 

Nicole paces the room, hand running through her wet hair. “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how Waverly.”

 

And at that moment, Wynonna knows exactly what is causing Nicole’s hesitation. Nicole has been alone for so long. She hasn’t had a family or anyone who cares about her, since she was 17 years old. She doesn’t know how to let people in. Wynonna knows how this feels. When she came back to Purgatory, after years of being away, she felt something similar. It’s hard to open up to people if you don’t remember how. Wynonna feels herself shutter at the memories of her first few weeks back in Purgatory. If not for Waverly, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

 

Waverly must reach the same conclusion because she asks Nicole to sit down on the bench. Nicole sits on the bench across from them and stares at her hands.

 

“Nicole, we are here for you. But it’s hard to be when we don’t know what is going on with you. I know your mission is classified, but why don’t you tell us something, anything. Because right now, we are at a complete loss.”

 

It’s a full two minutes before Nicole speaks. “Our objective is to take out the leader of a terrorist organization. We were sent for… several months… to try and track him down. As we got closer, the risk increased. Two weeks before we flew home, we were in a village. We were trying to get information about his whereabouts. Our intel suggested one of his lieutenants lived in that village. We were clearing houses in teams. Green stayed in the Humvee, Liz and Riley searched houses from the south. Gibbs and I went for the ones to the north. We had cleared all the houses except two. There was movement in both houses. I made a decision that Gibbs should go with Liz to one and Riley should come with me and hit the other. I felt we needed a shooter for either house. Don’t get me wrong, Liz can take care of herself, but she needed better than Riley to watch her back when going in. Riley is a good soldier, but not the best in close quarters combat. Both teams breached the houses. I approached the final room, Riley guarding my six. I saw a flash of movement as a man went for Riley. I pushed him out of the way, hoping he could keep his footing. He didn’t. He landed on the ground and looked up just in time to see the man pound the butt of his rifle into my ribs. It happened again and again and again. Eventually Gibbs and Liz showed up, Gibbs took him out without hesitation.” Nicole looks up and then back down at her hands, deciding she didn’t want to see the sisters’ reactions. “Green showed up and checked me over. Luckily, I didn’t have anything broken, just some pretty bad bruising. Gibbs helped me up and we finished clearing the scene. We grabbed all intel we thought we could use and left.” Nicole pauses. “I got lucky. The damage could have been worse. I failed that night and I never made that mistake again. I never will. I understand that if it wasn’t me, it would have been Riley. So, I am grateful that he was relatively unharmed. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was not prepared. We weren’t given enough time to prepare. We left weeks before we were supposed to with about forty minutes notice. I didn’t even get to tell you I was leaving.” Nicole shakes the thoughts from her head. “We didn’t have any other failures on that mission and it was successful overall. But… that night… I failed. Our mission was a success overall, but I failed that night.” Nicole stands up and paces a bit. “It is mostly healed now, looks much worse than it us because of my complexion and the fact that I lost so much weight so quickly. I’m pretty healed now, just some bad coloring and some wounded pride.” Nicole finally looks at the sisters. They are staring at her. Nicole sits down and decides to let the information sink in. Next thing she knows, Waverly is tugging her up by the hand and leading her out the police station. Wynonna follows them to the door but doesn’t leave with them when they get into the truck. Waverly drives out of the parking lot and heads in the direction of the Homestead. Wynonna walks inside and goes into the BBD office where Dolls is sitting on the couch (reading a file). She sits down next to him and looks at her hands, similarly to the way Nicole had. Dolls doesn’t look away from the file, but he is very closely observing her. Wynonna sits there for several minute in silence before she asks the question that only Dolls may know the answer to. “Is she going to be okay?”

 

“Yeah, I think she will be.” She just needs time to stop beating herself up for things she can’t control. It’s hard to transition back to civilian life. Normally soldiers have a waiting period before returning home to their families. Nicole’s unit didn’t. They got back to the base and she came home later that day. She took the mandatory psych evaluation and was on the next plane here.” Dolls responds, not looking away from his file, but regarding her kindly.

 

“Okay.” Wynonna says as she leans into Dolls and falls asleep there.

 


 

The car ride back to the homestead is silent. Waverly is driving with one hand, the other holding onto Nicole’s. They arrive at the Homestead and get out. Waverly leads Nicole inside and upstairs. Once the door is closed, Waverly strips and crawls into bed. Nicole does the same, but not without some hesitation. Once they are laying on their sides, face to face, they just stare at one another. Waverly lifts a hand and places it un Nicole’s cheek. She scoots herself over and closes the gap between them, putting her lips to Nicole’s. Nicole reciprocates the kiss and even whimpers a bit when she feels Waverly’s body make contact with hers. She is starving to be with Waverly, to have her close in any and all ways possible. She has been fighting it since she got home and she can feel her barriers coming down. Waverly pushes her by the shoulder so she is on her back and gets on top of Nicole so she is straddling her thighs (being mindful of Nicole’s bruised abdomen). She leans down and kisses Nicole. Bracing herself with hands on the sides of Nicole’s head, gripping the sheets below for support.

 

“I am so sorry baby.” Nicole whispers in between kisses.

 

“I know.” Waverly responds, deepening the kiss before pulling her head up slightly. “I want to talk about this more later, but for now, I’m just happy to have you here. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed having you with me. I’ve missed having you here, holding me during nightmares or cuddling me when I’m cold. I’ve missed the feel of your skin on mine and the way your body moves when touched. We don’t have to do anything tonight, Nicole. I am content to just sleep together tonight if this is too much for you. But I do need you here with me tonight.”

 

“I love you Waverly Earp.” Nicole says, flashing a small smile as a tear rolls off her face.

 

Waverly quickly wipes the tears with one hand, “You know I love you too. Just please, never pull away from me like that, okay? You can always be honest with me, even with the hard stuff.”

 

Nicole smiles again, a little wider this time, before pulling Waverly back down to her lips. “Always.” She whispers as she rolls them over and the kissing gets more heated as hands start to roam. Nicole’s last coherent thought leaves her as she feels herself relax more and more into Waverly’s love. She isn’t sure what time it is when they finally get to sleep, but the sun is just showing its first rays of light from the east as her eyes drift closed. She holds Waverly tight to her chest and falls into deep sleep.

Chapter Text

“Okay, so how did it never come up that you played varsity hockey in high school?” Waverly asks as she pours herself another glass of wine.

 

“I told you I played sports in high school babe. It’s not a big deal.” Nicole replies with a laugh. She is sitting out on the porch with Gus and the Earp sisters after a very satisfying meal.

 

“That’s crap Nicole, and you know it.” Waverly laughs, “I looked your team up. You were an all American your last two years and you won your state championship all three years you played.”

 

“Waves, it was women’s ice hockey in Texas. The competition wasn’t too steep.“ Nicole says with mock seriousness.

 

“Oh really? Because if this MaxPreps website is correct, you also went on to Nationals and traveled to Canada several times for tournaments.” Waverly counters with a wicked smirk.

 

Nicole can’t help but laugh and take a sip from her water bottle. She looks at Waverly who has been a bit antsy all night. Waverly was having difficulty hiding how much she wanted to take Nicole upstairs and repeat what they did earlier this morning. The thought made Nicole blush a bit before Wynonna speaks.

 

“Okay Haughttopic, I got a question.” Wynonna states. “What was up with your dating life? Did you ever have girlfriends or were you a virgin until you met Waves? Cause’ I didn’t see any girlfriends in those photos.”

 

“Wynonna!” Gus scolds.

 

“I would be okay with that.” Waverly adds.

 

Nicole laughs, “Sorry to spoil your fun, but yes, I did have girlfriends before Waves.”

 

“Oh really? Do tell.” Wynonna says with a wicked grin.

 

“Hahaha Wyn, I’m not a prude. I did have a life before Purgatory. But your right to an extent. I didn’t date a lot. Only had two serious relationships. Both just ended up not working out.”

 

“Why didn’t they work?” Waverly asks, now intrigued. “If you don’t mind me asking?”

 

“No, I do not mind. Um well the first one was great. We were together for a year and a half before I joined the Marines. She got me through a lot of stuff. Time just wasn’t on our side on that one. And the other woman I was with was just not the right person for me. We were together almost four years (while I was in college and the police academy). We wanted different things out of life.” Nicole says nonchalantly.

 

“Like?” Wynonna pries.

 

“Wynonna!” Gus scolds yet again. Sending Nicole an apologetic look.

 

Nicole raises her hand at Gus, “It’s okay Gus. And to answer your question. I don’t know, like I always wanted a family someday. And well, she didn’t. I wanted to eventually get married and kinda settle down. She definitely wasn’t into that. Plus, we were both cops so that caused its own problems when we were in Chicago. But it ended on good terms.”

 

“Woah, wait. You said you want a family? Like you want kids?” Waverly asks. She doesn’t know why this is so surprising to her but she has been caught totally off guard.

 

Nicole smiles at her, “I had always wanted that. But I realized that life has a way of working itself out for the better. So, I decided to just take the future one step at a time.” Nicole pauses and laughs, “Plus I was in my early twenties and thought I had to have my whole life planned out before hand.”

 

Wynonna takes a swig from her whiskey, not knowing how to comprehend the situation. Nicole had been planning to ask Waverly to marry her for a long time now. And they hadn’t been together as long as her other relationships when she started planning this. Nicole seems truly head-over-heels for her sister. Wynonna feels a mixture of pure happiness and jealousy for her sister. She loves That her sister has Nicole and it then dawns on her that Nicole had been the one to nudge her and Dolls together. Her love for the redhead seems to keep growing.

 


 

2 weeks later…

 

They are on the hunt. Wynonna and Dolls are chasing after a Revenant who barely escaped their grasps one week prior. Now, they find themselves running through the forest area bordering the Ghost River Triangle. Doc had taken a hard blow to the head about one mile back and Waverly had stayed with him to make sure he was okay. This just left Wynonna and Dolls. Nicole was a half a mile to the east in a tree in overwatch position. She tracks the Revenant with ease and keep relaying the information to Dolls through coms. Wynonna is about to tell Dolls she can’t run any further when she hears Dolls mutter into the com. Next thing Wynonna hears is a loud gun shot. Wynonna freezes and Dolls stops with a puzzled look on his face. “You coming, Earp? Haught may have shot him, but we all know that’s only going to keep him down for so long.”

 

“That was Haughtstuff?” Wynonna asks. She didn’t even know Nicole was there and hadn’t expected her to be considering she hadn’t officially come back to work yet.

 

“Yup. She cleared the psych evaluation and the physical a little while ago. Decided to make herself useful. Told her to take a shot at him, keep him down long enough for us to catch-up to him.”

 

They eventually find the Revenant, still on the ground. “Fucking bitch!” The Revenant sounds off.

 

“Who me? Or the woman who laid you out without moving more than one finger?” Wynonna mocks.

 

“Fuck-“

 

“Make your peace.” And the light on Peacemaker cut the demon short. Wynonna fires and he is sucked back into the Earth.

 

They head back to the police station and Wynonna is surprised to see Nicole has beaten them back to the Black Badge office. When they all walk in, they all focus on Nicole. She is cleaning her rifle and it’s in pieces all over her desk in an organized chaos. Nicole looks up and nods before returning her attention to the rifle. Dolls and Doc go about their business while both Earp sisters walk towards the redhead’s desk. Wynonna had told her sister what had happened out in the woods and Waverly didn’t seem surprised in the slightest.

 

“So, I take it the evals. went well this morning?” Waverly asks.

 

“Ha, yea, as well as those brain cell killing evaluations can go.” Nicole’s responds with ease.

 

“Good. I’ve missed having you here. Plus, I think Wynonna is tired of having to do extra work with you gone.” Waverly states with a giggle.

 

Nicole laughs and starts to put the rifle back together. Waverly sits at her own desk, but is still watching Nicole as she goes about the reassembly. It has Waverly incredibly turned on and Nicole must notice because she is staring at Waverly with a knowing smirk on her face. She zips the bag with the rifle up and places it into the safe. After locking it up, Nicole walks out of the Black Badge office and is closely followed by Dolls and Doc. The Earp sisters don’t think anything of it until the trio have been gone for almost an hour. She is starting to get worried, but feels a little better when Dolls returns.

 

“Where is Nic and Doc?” Waverly asks him.

 

“She is at Shorty’s. She is helping Doc and Gus install that security system they had ordered. Apparently neither of them knows how so Nicole offered to help. It was going to take a while, so I told them we would all meet there after we were done with work.” Dolls says.

 

Waverly nods and refocuses on her research. After a few more hours, the three are closing their respective laptops and tablets and walking out the door. The pile into Dolls’ SUV and drive over to Shorty’s. When they arrive, Waverly zeros in on Nicole immediately. She is out of uniform, in a pair of skinny jeans and a navy-blue tank top. She is standing on a ladder, screwing in a security camera that will point at the back door. Waverly walks over just as Nicole has it tightened up. “Hey stranger. You are looking quite sexy in that outfit. I might even be inclined to say that watching you work is a total turn on.”

 

Nicole steps down the ladder carefully and turns around to face Waverly, “Hey beautiful.” She says, leaning down for a quick kiss on the lips. “Yeah, I’m helping Gus and Doc with this. You would think they would have considered the difficulty of instillation when they got it. But… apparently not.” Nicole comments with a chuckle.

 

“I don’t think planning is really Doc’s thing.” Waverly digs.

 

“Agreed.” Nicole says. “Hey, I want to show you something.” Nicole grabs Waverly by the hand and tugs her along with her behind the bar. Nicole stops and points at a button that is discretely placed on the underside of the bar top. “It’s kinda like a panic button. If anyone pushes it and holds it for five seconds, it immediately sends a mayday call to the station, my phone and Gus’.” Nicole says with pride.

 

“That’s genius baby.” Waverly praises her.

 

“Yeah, well I just thought it might make it a little safer. There are a couple spread out around the bar. There is this one, one under the bar near the cash register, one in Gus’ office and one on the shelf over there.” Nicole points them out to Waverly as she says this.

 

“Wait, I get why it would be set to send a message to Gus and the station, but why you?”

 

“Well, Nedley has made it clear I am on Earp patrol for the foreseeable future. And you, Wynonna and Gus are here a lot and I want to know if you are in trouble.” Nicole rubs the back of her neck nervously, hoping this isn’t too much. “Plus, this place is important to you and has actually become really important to me too. It was kinda the beginning of everything for us.”

 

Waverly kisses her girlfriend and pulls her into her body. Nicole wraps her arms around Waverly’s waist and Waverly’s hands clasp together behind Nicole’s neck. Waverly continues to kiss Nicole until she hears a cough come from Wynonna from across the bar. “That is really sweet. Thank you.”

 

“Why are you thanking me? I love you. I will do what it takes to make you feel safe. This place is kinda like a sanctuary. Best to keep it that way.” Nicole responds with a smile. She releases Waverly and watches as she joins the others. Once Waverly sits down, Nicole heads into Gus’ office and takes a seat on the floor near Gus’ desk.

 

“It all set up?” Gus asks.

 

“Yes ma’am. Everything is wired in and operational.” Nicole confirms.

 

“Good, now back to our earlier discussion. When is this happening?”

 

“I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if it’s too soon to do it right now. What if she thinks it’s too soon after me coming back or she says no because I’m leaving again. I just don’t know what to do.” Nicole rambles a little. “If it was up to me, I would have asked her the second I got off that plane. Or even better, I would have never left.”

 

“Darlin’ does she love you?” Gus asks, already knowing the answer.

 

“As far as I’m aware, yes ma’am.: Nicole replies, playing into Gus’ game.

 

“And do you love her?”

 

“More than anything.” Nicole answers without hesitation.

 

“And do you want to spend the rest of your life with her?”

 

“It’s all I can think about right now.”

 

“Then don’t you think you have waited long enough? Look Nicole, I have known that girl all her life and I have never seen her as happy as she is right now. She loves you and she ain't trying to hide it. She deserves to be happy and I know you make her happy. So, why wait any longer?” Gus says.

 

“Ha, well, when you put it like that…” Nicole exhales loudly. Her nerves getting the better of her.

 

“So, you got something in mind?” Gus asks.

 

“Well I want to keep it simple, but… yeah, I got an idea.” Nicole says with a smile. Gus smiles at her and sits down next to Nicole on the floor, both of the leaning their backs against the wall.

 

“My little Waverly is getting married.” Gus says lightly, her emotions showing a bit.

 

“Well, she’s got to say yes first.” Nicole adds with a nervous smile.

 

“Oh hell Nicole. If she doesn’t, Wynonna and I might fight for who will.” Gus says with a laugh. Both of them laugh and sit together until they hear their names being called by the group at the bar.

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up early this morning. Its Saturday and normally she would be training with Dolls and Wynonna. But they had the whole weekend off. Nicole has been back in Purgatory for about two months now. She is back at work and enjoying being back with her family. Nicole gets up, pressing a kiss to Waverly’s forehead as she untangles herself from the smaller girl and gets out of bed. Today was a big day for many reasons. Today is their three year anniversary. Three years ago today, Nicole had her first conversation with Waverly in Shorty’s. It involved a beer soaked t-shirt, a cheesy pick up line, and a whole lot of awkward sexual tension. Nicole knew from that moment on that her life was never going to be the same.

 

Nicole is pulled from her thoughts when she hears Wynonna fighting with the coffeemaker downstairs. She gets dressed and heads down the stairs.

 

“Dude, you ever hear of quiet?” Nicole asks as she eyes Wynonna.

 

“Sorry, but the stupid thing won’t work.” Wynonna says as she repeatedly flicks the coffeemaker open and closed.

 

 Nicole huffs out a breath before she comes over and removes the water basin from the coffeemaker, “It’s probably out of water.”

 

“Right…” Wynonna says. “So, you’re in a great mood…?”

 

“Sorry, just nervous.” Nicole apologizes as she starts the coffeemaker.

 

“Hey, everything is going to be okay.”

 

“What if she says no? What if I’ve done too much damage and she doesn’t want to move forward with me?” Nicole asks as she stares out the kitchen window.

 

“She isn’t going to say no Darlin’ and if she does, you will work past it.” Gus chimes in as she enters the kitchen. “Nicole, you wanted to do this over a year ago. But life got in the way. But now, the only thing stopping you is yourself.”

 

“I just don’t know if I could live without her and I don’t know if I could handle it if she says no.” Nicole says.

 

“Nicole go upstairs and enjoy the day you have planned. Everything will fall into place and if the time is right, you will know.” Gus says with a smile.

 

Nicole looks at Wynonna and the Earp sister gives her a smile and a nod. Nicole smiles and walks back up the stairs and back to their room.

 

Wynonna stays in the kitchen with Gus, waiting for the coffee. After a couple minutes of silence, Wynonna breaks the silence. “Part of me doesn’t want Waverly to marry Nicole. A very small part of me fears that they will get married and disappear.”

 

“Yeah, I know.” Gus responds.

 

“But I know that’s just my mind trying to mess with me. I am really happy they are moving forward. I am really happy Waverly is truly living her life for the first time. She is happy.”

 

“Wyn, I know you are happy for her and I know she is happy for you too. And don’t think we haven’t noticed the changes in you recently.” Gus says proudly.

 

“Wait, what changes?”

 

“I don’t know if it was purposeful or not. But you didn’t get drunk when Nicole was gone. That day she left, you got sauced and you were a mess. But you waited for Waverly to go to sleep and then you woke up the next morning and took care of your sister. I haven’t seen you drink more than a beer or two since that first day and you only resumed once she returned. And I know for a fact you didn’t get bumped from Shorty’s during that time. You stayed relatively sober to take care of your sister (not that she needed it) while Nicole was gone. You kept your promise.” Gus says.

 

“It wasn’t intentional, at least not in the beginning. That first night I just couldn't handle all the pain inside Waverly and… even inside myself. I drank so much that night and I woke up on the couch. When Nicole is here, she always looks out for me and makes sure I am okay. That’s just who she is. But I realized that morning that there was no Nicole there to do all that stuff for me. And I hate to admit it, but I kinda like that she does it. I haven’t ever had someone who cares about me like that (who isn’t related to me or otherwise obligated to). So, I guess I stayed sober enough to take care of Waves and myself in her absence. We don’t need her to do all that she does for us, but… I think we let her take care of us and love us in a way that we have never had before. You raised us Gus and cared for us as best you and Curtis could. But Nicole had no obligation to and did it without hesitation. So, I think it had to do with me caring for Waves, but I also think it has to do with me too.” Wynonna says. “Shit that sounds stupid and mushy. Dammit.”

 

“It sounds like you are a good sister, who loves her family and who loves Nicole. It’s nice to see the real you come out. I think Nicole brings that out of you. And she clearly thinks Doll’s does too.” Gus says.

 

“Ha. Tell her I said any of this and I will deny it.” Wynonna threatens lightheartedly. She laughs.

 

“Your very obvious secret is safe with me.” Gus mocks.

 

They both laugh and drink their coffees.

 


 

“Good morning beautiful.” Nicole says as she notices Waverly is awake in bed beside her. “Happy anniversary.” Nicole kisses Waverly on the lips and puts the notebook she is writing in down.

 

“Good morning.” Waverly says with a slightly sleepy smile. “Why are you up already? Did you forget we got the day off?” Waverly asks, still not fully awake.

 

“No, I remembered. But my internal alarm clock didn’t. But I am enjoying laying in bed all morning with you.” Nicole says as she shifts herself over so she is now laying on top of Waverly, smothering her with lazy kisses that tickle the brunette’s skin and make her laugh. They start to wrestle with each other like little kids, laughing the whole time. After some time, they both get up and shower. What should have taken fifteen minutes took almost an hour and Nicole had to practically run out of the bathroom to escape Waverly’s grabby hands. They laugh as they crash into the bed, clad in only towels. Waverly lands on top and stares down at her girlfriend with a huge smile on her face. She leans down and kisses Nicole lightly, increasing pressure and intensity as time goes on. Nicole is so engrossed, she doesn’t even notice when Waverly pulls both of their towels loose. Now they are laying completely naked on the bed, wet hair everywhere. Waverly can’t help the giggle that leaves her mouth. Nicole glances over at the clock and looks back at Waverly. “Hey, we should get dressed. I wanna take you somewhere.”

 

“Where?” Waverly asks, her curiosity peaked.

 

“C’mon, just get dressed. You will like it, I promise.” Nicole whines.

 

“Okay, okay.”

 


 

Waverly is dressed and in the car when Nicole jumps into the driver’s seat. Nicole drives into town and stops in front of Shorty’s.

 

“Nicole, why are we at Shorty’s. I’m not working today.”

 

Nicole shushes her. She pulls out a small brown leather notebook and open to a marked page near the front. She starts to read:

 

January 8th, 2016

Today started out a sucky day. I woke up forty five minutes before my alarm and couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to get up and head out early. I thought maybe I could get myself a cup of coffee before work. I was going to go to Purgatory’s only coffee shop, but I drove past Shorty’s and decided to stop by their first. I knew from other officers that they made coffee and I had never been inside before. I thought it might be a good opportunity to go see it. I parked in front of the saloon and walked inside. There was a short brunette cleaning around the bar. She was swaying her hips to the music that was slowly playing in the background from the jukebox. I stood there watching for far too long with a smile on my face. I didn’t want her to think I was a creep so I opened my mouth to make my presence known. But before I could say anything, a Big Rock Brewery tap exploded open and soaked the woman before me. She struggled for a second in shock before getting it to stop. I had to stifle a laugh but apparently, I didn’t have complete control over my mouth because I made some stupid comment about not knowing Shorty’s had wet t-shirt contests. Stupid! Now she was really going to think I was a creep. But then she had eye contact with me, just for a moment, and I finally came to my sense. I asked if she was okay and walked down the steps, to the bar. We exchanged a few words before I introduced myself. We hadn’t officially met, although, I was very aware of who she was. I had seen her around town and in the station a couple times. Her sister is Wynonna Earp so the young woman in front of me had to be Waverly. She was beautiful and her voice… god I could feel something in my bones. I just knew she was special. We had a little bit of an awkward encounter that involved her getting stuck taking her shirt off and me having to help her get it off. Don’t ask. I eventually left after hearing her say she had a boyfriend. I didn’t want to get in between anything. I realized I was in uniform and how inappropriate this would look if someone were to walk in. I left my card and hoped she would take me up on my offer for a coffee sometime. I literally walked to my cruiser, got in, and sat there for twenty minutes trying to process what had just happened. Waverly Earp. Just, wow. My day was pretty good after that. Actually, it sucked, but I didn’t notice too much. Waverly is different. She makes me smile just thinking about her. She was clear on her relationship status, so I got to respect that. But even if we are just friends, I may be okay with that. I don’t know what it is about her, but all I know is Waverly Earp is definitely going to be an important person in my life.

 

Nicole closes the notebook and looks at Waverly. “I got into the habit, after the service, of writing in a notebook. When I came to Purgatory, I made a deal with myself to write in this journal every day until it was filled. So, this is basically like a timeline of my life since moving here. I added something every day. Sometimes I wrote about my day, sometimes I copied quotes or song lyrics I liked, some days I was so burnt out I just scribbled doodles. But I did an entry everyday. This is the beginning for us.” Nicole says. “Three years ago in that bar. [pointing at Shorty’s] I met you and my world changed forever.” Nicole pauses and looks back at Waverly who is in the passenger seat. “And if it’s okay with you, I would like to show you a couple more things I have in here about our journey?”

 

Waverly smiles and wordlessly nods to Nicole. Nicole smiles and turns the car back on. She pulls away from Shorty’s and drives down the street. She stops the car in her parking spot at the station, but leaves the car on. She pulls the leather notebook out again and begings to read again:

 

 January 14th, 2016

I think his name should be Deputy Marshal Stick Up His Ass. He really can’t be pleased. Marshal Dolls is a weird one. Something about him tells me he was in the military. But it is obvious he doesn’t want that to be broadcast. I do, however, think I earned some brownie points with him today. I saw Waverly Earp in the Black Badge office when I went to fetch the Deputy Marshal. She smiled at me and I had a bit of a hard time pulling myself away from the office. I don’t know what it is about her. But she just makes me want to smile. I want to talk to her again, maybe get her to go for that coffee with me. I just want to know her. She’s different and I am curious to know why.

 

January 16th, 2016

Waverly brought coffee into the station for the BBD team. I was out on patrol, but when I got back, there was a cappuccino on my desk. On the side of the cup, someone had written “Tag, your it. Now you own me one.” I smiled as I realized it was from Waverly.

 

January 19th, 2016

I got coffee with Waverly and Wynonna this morning. Actually, I was getting myself coffee and bumped into the sisters. Wynonna left quickly after but Waverly and I sat and chatted for almost an hour. She is amazing and wicked smart. Actually, smart is an insult, she is brilliant. I can tell she holds back her intelligence around people. But I liked that she was comfortable enough to not do that with me. We talked about the history of coffee history and the reason she drinks hers with just a dash of cream and a couple sugars. We talked until I had to go to work. I hope this friendship with her works out. I really like being around her.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole drives out to an open stretch of road, just outside of town. It was somewhere in between the Earp homestead and town. Nicole pulls over about a hundred yards from the mile marker. She retrieves the notebook and read again:

 

February 8th, 2016

Well the last twenty-four hours have been hell. In all literal forms of the word… I think. I failed today. I failed Wynonna. We got jumped by a man on the side of the road. But I don’t think he was just a man. I have so many question that no one will answer. I’m in the hospital now. Nedley brought some of my things. He keeps looking at me weird. I don’t know what to think. Then there are the doctors. They said the paramedics had to resuscitate me on site. Which means I died. And then they had to do it again in-route to the hospital. So, I died twice? Well, I am just glad that the scans show no damage to my brain. But the whole experience was weird. I only remember small flashes of things. I don’t really understand most of it. But I do remember coughing up blood when I woke up on the side of the road. I remember calling for her. Telling her I am sorry. I don’t really know her all that well, but she is already so important to me. I failed to protect her sister and the guilt and the throbbing in my head were all too much. I blacked out again. And then I woke up in a hospital bed. I have a missing chunk of time after that. Then I remember talking to Doc and Dolls. Waverly was there too. I didn’t really want to look at her. I felt so ashamed. I let this Jack guy get her sister. I only looked up at her once to say I was sorry. She bolted out of the room in tears as I said it. I know she said something through her tears, but I didn’t hear it over the pounding of blood in my head and the tears falling from my eyes. I hate myself for failing her. I hate that I can’t help Wynonna. I hate that these stupid doctors keep telling me I am lucky to be alive. I don’t feel lucky. Doc came by later that day to tell me that they had found Wynonna. That she was okay. I felt relief, but then Dolls walked into my hospital room and asked Doc for a minute with me alone. I knew by the look on his face that he looked into my file. He stood next to me and told me he looked at my file and that he knew about my service back home. He stayed silent for a while but then he grabbed my forearm and held it. I reciprocated it on instinct. I hadn’t done it since I was still in the Marines. He stood there with me like that and gave me a nod. I guess that was his version of a thank you. The gesture is intimate for soldiers and I almost forgot the feeling. It was comforting.

 

Nicole doesn’t look up but grabs Waverly’s hand. She flips to another marked page.

 

February 9th, 2016

I woke up this morning in my hospital room. I refuse pain meds last night so I could feel everything. I felt like I go hit by a bus… and then a train… and then another bus. Needless to say, I felt like shit. I opened my eyes and turned my head to see Waverly. She was sitting in a chair next to my bed. She was asleep. She had my right hand in both of hers and held it underneath her head (on the bed). Basically, it was a hand pillow. I didn’t want to wake her, but I also didn’t want her to sleep that way. She was twitching slightly and I could tell she was straining her neck in that position. I shook her awake lightly, trying to be gentle. She woke up startled and gripped my hand so tight it hurt. Once she got her bearings, she started rambling and apologizing. I honestly didn’t know what she had to be sorry for. I got her to quiet down after a couple minutes. She stayed and talked before she had to go to Wynonna. It sounds stupid. But I didn’t notice the pain in my body when she was there with me.

 

February 10th, 2016

Waverly came by early this morning and has been here all day. We played cards for a couple hours and watched the crappy hospital TV. We talked a lot too. There are so many thing I have questions about, things I know she has the answers about. But I don’t ask and I think I didn’t really care about all the weird stuff happening in Purgatory. It was kinda like we were in a bubble. We talked about her breaking up with Champ. That was a little awkward. I think he is an asshat, but I know he probably meant something to her. Eventually we ended up watching a movie. She had been sitting at the foot of the bed all day. I eventually moved over to the left side of the bed. I pulled her up with me and she reluctantly crawled into the bed next to me. She kept saying she didn’t want to hurt me. I had to fight the urge to tell her I would hurt me more if she didn’t come closer. But I didn’t. That was stupid and way over the line. She fell asleep about an hour ago and I am writing this with my left hand because she is wrapped up and clutching my whole right side. Today was a good day.

 

Nicole finally looks up at Waverly. Waverly has tears in her eyes. She looks at Nicole and Nicole feels her heart do a flip.

 

“You made my recovery bearable. You made me feel normal. You saved my life, because I wouldn’t have gotten passed that without you. You showed up, at least once a day, every day, until I was released. You took care of me in more ways than you could ever imagine. And it was that day, that I realized I could spend the rest of my life looking at you. I could spend the rest of my life letting you take care of me. And I would always do my best to take care of you (not that you need it often). I realized that day that I couldn’t be just friends with you. It wasn’t enough. I wanted you around, every day and every night.” Nicole says as she squeezes Waverly’s hand. “That was the day I realized that everything had shifted and I was already falling in love with you.”

 

Waverly stares at her with tear filled eyes. “I am so sorry.”

 

“Why? I would do it a thousand times more if it meant having a day like that one with you. I didn’t feel pain that day. All I felt was you and the love you carry.” Nicole kisses Waverly. Waverly pulls Nicole closer and only stops when the center console of the car won’t allow Nicole any further. They kiss and they are both crying. Nicole breaks away first with a smile on her face. “This may seem like a sad story, but to me, it is one of the happiest days of my life and I wouldn’t trade it or you for the world.” The both laugh and smile through tears and Nicole pulls back on the road. She secretly sends a text:

NICOLE: This is Batman. Inbound (ETA 10 min)

NEDLEY: 10-4, Robin out.

 

She drives towards town and end up at the station again. Nicole gets out and opens the passenger door for Waverly. They walk hand in hand to the very empty police station. Nicole pulls Waverly over to the doorway of Nedley’s office. The door is open and the couch is in its usual spot. Waverly looks at it and then back at Nicole, a blush coloring her cheeks. Nicole opens her journal and reads again:

 

February 23th, 2016

She kissed me. Holy shit she kissed me. And not like she pecked me on the cheek or even a quick one on the lips. She told me she just wanted to be friends and then showed up at the station two hours later and jumped me. Holy shit she is adorable. I was so not expecting that. We kissed and she rambled and we kissed again and again. I keep replaying it in my head to make sure it wasn’t a dream or a really cruel hallucination. But it is real. She is real. She is… like coming out for fresh air. I feel like my whole life has been underwater. I feel like, for the first time, I truly feel alive and it has everything to do with Waverly Earp. She is… everything. For some crazy reason, we work. Like fire and ice.

 

Nicole closes the journal and looks down at Waverly who is still blushing and isn’t even trying to hide it anymore. She pulls Waverly towards her and they kiss. That same spark bolts through them. Nicole pulls away slightly and smiles widely. “Every time. Every time I have you close. Every time I feel your touch. It feels like waking up.”

 

“I get the same feeling too. But it’s a little different.” Waverly says with a wide smile.

 

“Do tell?”

 

“I’ve said many times that I would die if something happened to you. And it is true. Because before you, I was the Waverly Earp that everyone wanted me to be. I was the pretty girl that laughed when appropriate and waved at the right times. But then you came swaggering into Shorty’s that day and for the first time in years… I didn’t have to tell myself to smile. Actually, I was trying to get my dopey grin to stop. You made the real me come out and accept me for all my flaws. And if something ever happened to you… I know I could never go back to the way it was before. Before you. Before us.” Waverly says as she pulls Nicole down for another kiss. After, god knows how long, they break and walk back towards the front doors. Nicole has a roguish smile on her face as they pass the breakroom. Nicole lips out the journal:

 

July 15th, 2016

Today Waverly spilled a whole cup of coffee on me. She is lucky I love her. All I can say is God had her cute for a reason. HAHAHA.

 

Nicole laughs and Waverly looks equally apologetic and amused. The leave the station and continue going to places of significance. Places where they shared special moments or passed certain mile stones. It was amazing. They had so many tears, much more laughs and so much kissing. They eventually ended up back at Shorty’s. Nicole gets out and lets Waverly out of the car. They walk inside and the place is completely empty.

 

“Nic? What is going on?” Waverly asks.

 

“Shhhh. Come here.” Nicole responds as she pulls Waverly over to her so they are now standing in the open floor of Shorty’s. Nicole opens the leather journal and hands it to Waverly. “Mind reading today’s entry?” Nicole asks her with a smile.

 

“Of course.” Waverly responds with a huge smile as she takes the journal from Nicole.

 

January 8th, 2019

I think about my future and all I see is her. She drives me crazy and sometimes I think she will be the death of me. But she is the woman who makes my world go around. She makes every day worth living. It is moments like this, her asleep next to me on a Saturday morning. They are the best and most beautiful. There is nothing that comes close. Her laugh, her smile, the way she eats string cheese. Like come on, string cheese is supposed to be strung out little by little. Not just bitten into. They all make life feel… worth it. She makes me feel worth it.” Waverly laughs and smiles. She looks away from the journal and notices Nicole is down on one knee. She gasps and puts a hand to her mouth.

 

“Waves, I love you. I just want to start by saying that. I love you Waverly Earp. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Before you, I was broken. It sounds so cliché, but it is true. I came from a life and a childhood that broke me. Then I joined the military and they built me back up. But eventually, that broke me yet again. Then I came back, broken and lost and angry. I got my act together and worked my ass off to put myself back together. But even then… I just wasn’t whole. I forgot what it felt like to be whole. It had been so long, practically my whole life. But then you and your soggy shirt popped into my life and everything started to shift. I felt myself changing and I couldn’t stop it. I knew from the moment I met you, that you are were going to be an important person in my life. Little did I know, you would become the MOST important person in my life. We are like fire and ice. We are so different. And we are strong forces of nature. But one needs the other to keep them under control. We work. So please.  Let’s spend our Night eating cereal on the floor, even though the table is perfectly fine. Let’s go sit in the back row of movies and make out like teenagers falling in love for the first time. Let’s slow dance to no music and to karaoke in the car. I can’t guarantee that we will not have tough times. And I can almost guarantee that we will, with our track record. But, none of that scares me as long as you are by my side. I realized a long time ago that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I feel like everything in my life has led me to you. And when we’re together, my past seems worth it. Because if I had done one thing differently, I might not have ever met you. You are my everything Waverly Earp. And if you will let me, I want to spend the rest of my life, loving you. I have been waiting so long to ask you this. I have been waiting so long to ask you for forever.“ Nicole pauses, pulls out the ring box and opens it, earning another gasp from Waverly. “Waverly Earp. I promise to love and protect you forever. Now, will you please do me the honor of marrying me?”

Chapter Text

“Yes. Nicole. Yes.” Waverly says through the tears. Waverly reaches down and pulls Nicole to her feet and into a kiss. They only break apart when everyone comes out from the back room. Wynonna, Gus, Doc, Dolls, Sheriff Nedley, Chrissy, some officers Nicole is close with, some town folk that love Waverly, all piling into Shorty’s. They are all yelling congratulations and smiling at the two as someone turns the jukebox on and a catchy song comes on. Nicole puts the ring on Waverly’s finger and Waverly pulls herself into Nicole, her head pressed sideways against Nicole’s chest. Her smile could be seen from across the bar. Gus is the first to approach them. She hugs her niece and then Nicole.

 

“I’m so happy for both of you. You both deserve this happiness.” Gus says.

 

“I love you Gus.” Waverly says and then looks a little puzzled. “How did you know when to come in or even if I said yes?”

 

Nicole smiles and wipes some tears as she points at the security camera in the corner that is pointed right at them. Waverly laughs and kisses Nicole again. She breaks the kiss and looks down at the ring on her finger. It is beautiful. Fire and ice repeats back in her head. The red and blue birthstones that symbolized both of them. That were on either sides of the ring. She finally understood and it was so Nicole. She squeals and looks up at Nicole. “It’s beautiful”

 

“Nothing compared to you.” Nicole responds. Looking at her girlfr- fiancé with a look of pure love and adoration.  

 

“I get it now.” Waverly says.

 

“Get what?” Nicole asks, kissing the top of Waverly’s head.

 

“Fire and ice. You and I. The ring.” Waverly says as she looks down at the ring. The diamond in the center, blue sapphire stone (her birth stone) on one side and a red ruby (Nicole’s birthstone) on the other side. Fire and ice.

 

Nicole smiles down at her and moves her chin up with her index finger. They kiss and Waverly can feel that familiar spark again. She is never going to get sick of this. They are interrupted only when Wynonna clears her throat loudly, signaling her presence. “Congrats kids.”

 

“Thanks, Nonna.”

 

“Haughtstuff, I’m going to have to give you the speech, but I am not nearly drunk enough. So, we will do that later.” Wynonna says and Nicole chuckles.

 

“Sure Wyn.” Nicole lets go of Waverly so she can hug her sister. Nicole can tell they need a minute, so she goes off to a waiting Dolls and Doc.

 

“I am truly happy for you Waves. I really am. I am happy for both of you.” Wynonna says, still in her sister’s embrace.

 

“I am happy. And I love you. And I hope you know I could never have done this without you. You are the best sister a girl could ask for and I am so happy you are mine. We have been through a lot, but you pushed us all through. You are amazing. I hope you know that.” Waverly says in her sister’s ear. “But in all seriousness, how long?”

 

“Excuse me?” Wynonna asks, a little confused.

 

“How long have you known she was going to do this? She is your best friend Wynonna and you are also my sister. I know you knew at least a little beforehand.”

 

“Ha, well that’s a funny story actually. We talked about it almost a year and a half ago. She showed me the ring on the way home from work one night after I asked her about her plans for the future. But I think she got the ring a little while before that. So, probably a year and a half, if I had to guess. She took Gus and I to lunch a week after that night and asked Gus and I for permission.” Wynonna says sheepishly

 

“A year and a half?!” Waverly says loudly at her sister. “YOU WAITED A YEAR AND A HALF?!” She says louder so Nicole can hear her from across the loud saloon. She is not sure which emotion she is feeling more: outrage or amusement.

 

“Sorry baby!” She hears from across the saloon. Nicole says she is sorry, but she can’t keep the laughter out of her voice. Waverly can’t see the redhead, but she knows she is probably cracking up with laughter right about now.

 

Waverly chuckles and focuses back on her sister. “Alright, so you kept this a secret for a year and a half? I am surprised you lasted that long.” She teases.

 

“Hey!” Wynonna says in mock outrage. “I won’t say it wasn’t difficult, but I did awesome. Especially when you were all mopey about her being gone. God, I wanted to scream it at you. But seriously Babygirl. You deserve this happiness. Plus, this whole thing kills two birds with one stone. My best friend and my baby sister are both getting hitched. Both of you are happy, so I am happy.”

 

“I love you Nonna.” Waverly says, still not letting go of her sister.

 

“I love you too Babygirl.” Wynonna says. Silent tears falling down her face. Her little sister is growing up. She is getting married. And to her best friend. Love is stupid, but sometimes, it made life feel so much better.

 

They release each other and both look over at Nicole in time to see her walk over and hug Nedley and Chrissy. Chrissy whispers something in Nicole’s ear as they hug and Nicole gives a mock salute before Chrissy heads towards the Earp sisters.

 

“Your fiancé ruins my fun. I can’t even threaten her properly when she pops those dimples out. Like, that’s totally not fair.” Chrissy says as she approaches. She takes Waverly’s left hand in hers and they both squeal in excitement, looking at the ring. Wynonna huffs in annoyance. Hell, they are such girls sometimes. She takes this as an opportunity to go over to Dolls and Doc.

 

“Seriously Waves! I am so happy for you and Nicole is great. She seems to make you really happy. Plus, I have gotten to know her, because my dad has taken a special interest in her, and she seems to be a really good person.” Chrissy says.

 

Waverly looks across the room, where Nedley letting Nicole out of a hug. Nicole gives him that megawatt smile of hers and they are chatting animatedly about something. Nicole laughs at something Nedley says and she hutches over, holding her stomach with laughter. “Yeah. She really does make me happy. And by the way, those dimples have gotten her out of so many arguments over the years.” Waverly says with a smile and a laugh of her own. “And she really cares for you and your dad. I know she really enjoys being around you both.”

 

“We care about her too. Can I tell you a secret?” Chrissy asks. Although Waverly’s answer could be no and she would still tell her. Waverly nods. “My dad teared up when she left last year.”

 

“No way?! That’s so sweet!” Waverly responds.

 

“Yeah, I thought so too.” Chrissy agrees. “C’mon, we better go see everyone. If you don’t go to them soon, they will come and hunt you down.” Chrissy jokes as she and Waverly walk to the mass of people.

 

 

“Congratulations Nicole.” Dolls says with a smile. He raises his beer glass and clinks it with Nicole’s lemonade.

 

“Thanks. I am happy, like really happy.” She responds. “Been a long time since I felt this happy.”

 

“When was the last time?” Dolls asks, confusion written all over his face.

 

“I was eight and I found the toy in the bottom of a cereal box.” Nicole says with a laugh.

 

They both burst into laughter and are only stopping because Wynonna steps into the conversation.

 

Wynonna wraps an arm over Nicole’s shoulder and takes a swig from an unlabeled bottle. “So, Gus says the food is out on the tables over there.” Wynonna says as she points to a long table by the bar. “Should we head on over there before everyone else demolishes it all?”

 

“You two go ahead. I will meet you over there in a minute.” Nicole offers.

 

They both give her a questioning look but drop it when a draft of air causes the smell of the food to hit them. They both head off to the tables, leaving Nicole. Nicole isn’t sure how long she stands there before Nedley resurfaces next to her. “You doing all right?”

 

“Yeah, I think so.” She says without taking her eyes off the people around the food and Waverly. “I am really happy right now… but I have this feeling that I don’t deserve all of this. I don’t deserve all of the happiness I feel right now. I don’t deserve her or this family I have here in Purgatory.” Nicole finally looks at Nedley. “When is the other shoe going to drop and ruin everything?”

 

“Look Nicole. You have had a tough life. And when you came to Purgatory, you were a completely different person. You were truly alone, in all senses of the word. But that doesn’t mean you were always destine to stay that way. You are a good person, a good cop and a good friend to the people around you. So, it’s not about deserving all of this. You earned it. You fought through your own personal demons to get here. To get all of this. That woman over there loves you, and even a blind person can see you love her. Don’t worry about tomorrow, because the universe is probably going to try and drag you down. But that means nothing as long as you have your family. Life has a way of working itself out. So just enjoy the happy times, worry about the bad stuff later.” Nedley throws an arm around Nicole’s shoulders. “Now come on. That food looks good and Armstrong over there will literally eat all of it if I don’t go police my deputy.”

 

“Yes Sir.” Nicole says. “And Nedley, thank you.”

 

“No problem kiddo.” They walk over to the rest of the group and pile their plates high with everything barbeque. Thank god Gus bought Hefty plates.

 


 

After getting some food, Nicole sits at the bar with Gus and eats. Waverly is still being swarmed with congratulations from people and Nicole is completely content to hang out with Gus. They eat and talk, eventually being joined by Doc. He and Nicole start discussing how marriage was different back in his day and Nicole can barely keep herself from choking up food with laughter.

 

“Haughtstuff! Why are you not drinking?! This is a party!” Wynonna says as she approaches.

 

Nicole holds up her drink, “It’s hard lemonade Wyn. Don’t worry. Plus, I gotta make sure all your drunk asses get home in one piece tonight.”

 

Gus looks at her niece and kicks out the stool next to her. A signal telling Wynonna to sit her ass down. “So, when are you two planning on doing this?” Gus asks Nicole as Wynonna settles in.

 

“That is completely up to Waverly. You would have to ask her.” Nicole responds with a wide smile and a laugh.

 

As if on cue, Waverly jumps up and plops herself on Nicole’s lap so her legs are perpendicular to Nicole’s and her arms are wrapped loosely around the redhead’s neck. Waverly kisses Nicole lightly before pulling always just a little. “I miss you. Apparently, me agreeing to spend the rest of my life with you means everyone else wants to keep me away from you to congratulate me.” Waverly says with a sarcastic smirk. “I haven’t seen you this whole time. They just wouldn’t let me go.”

 

“Well, I can’t complain right now because you are in my lap, kissing my face, and agreeing to put up with me for the rest of our lives. Life is good.” Nicole says with a laugh and small kiss to Waverly. “So, Gus, your sister, and I were just discussing when we were planning on actually getting married. I am sure you have some thoughts.”

 

“I love you. And I want to get married soon. But not rush it. But also, not be engaged for like five years. And…” Waverly rambles.

 

“Okay, Darling. We understand ya.” Gus says. Calming her niece.

 

“Okay, I am happy with whatever you want to do. Just as long as at the end of all of this, we are together.

Chapter Text

“So… how are you handling the wedding planning?” Wynonna asks as she and Nicole finish their morning run. “I know my sister must be driving you crazy by now.”

 

Nicole laughs and takes a drink from the water bottle in her hand. “Not really. She is actually being really reasonable. She knows where I stand on the whole wedding thing, so I am letting her have at it.”

 

“Where you stand?” Wynonna asks, giving her a confused look.

 

“Yeah. Like, I am so excited to marry Waves. I really am. But I am excited for the marriage itself. The wedding is nice, but the commitment is what lasts forever.” Nicole says, opening and holding the front door of the station open for Wynonna to enter.

 

“I get that.” Wynonna admits. “So you really don’t care about the wedding?”

 

“No! I care. But I am just not super picky. I had three requests. The rest is up to Waves.”

 

“What were your three requests?” Wynonna asks, genuinely curious.

 

Nicole holds up three fingers, “Keep it fun.” Nicole puts down one finger. “Keep it simple.” Then another. “And make sure everyone we want to be there is.”

 

“Okay, that sounds nice. Are you planning on wearing a tux? Or a wedding dress?” Wynonna asks.

 

“I am not sure. I am kinda conflicted about it.” Nicole admits. “And I also have the option of wearing my military dress uniform too.” Nicole exhales loudly. “I don’t know.”

 

“Well, at least you have some time to think about it.” Wynonna offers. They enter the station gym and sit down on the bench. Nicole takes off her shoes and starts to wrap her hands. Wynonna just watches her, obviously contemplating something. Nicole looks up moments later and sees Wynonna’s distracted and confused look.

 

“What?”

 

“I was just thinking… I don’t think I have seen you in a formal military uniform before? I having seen a single photo of you in it and you come home in the combat/work uniform.” Wynonna comments.

 

“Well, if you want, there is an event that I am forced to attend this weekend. You are more than welcome to accompany me. Waves is coming too, I think, and you can use it as an excuse to get dressed up.” Nicole says, “Plus I think I also got Dolls to come too. He will need a date.”

 

“Wynonna gives her a smirk and feigns contemplation. “I will think about it.”

 

“Yeah, okay, sure.” Nicole laughs with a knowing look. “Like you can pass up getting to see yours truly and Dolls, both in uniform. Plus, they will have an open bar.”

 

“You got me at attractive people and bar.” Wynonna rushes.

 

Nicole laughs, “Yup. Thought so.”

 

“Alright, well I have to get a dress.” Wynonna says a little dejectedly.

 

“Waves is going out shopping for hers this week. Go with her. I’m sure she would love for you to join her.”

 

“Maybe I will. But I am gonna need some serious whiskey to get through a shopping trip with Waves.”

 

“Alright. Well let’s get back to it.” Nicole says, indicating her desire to get back to their workout.

 

“Okay Haughtstuff!” Wynonna hops up from the bench. “We finally going to spar? I understand that you got to do more training while you were gone, but seriously. You haven’t sparred with me since coming home.” Wynonna whines. “And Dolls doesn’t challenge me like you do.”

 

“Nicole looks at the elder Earp cautiously before she gets herself up and heads to the mat. “Alright Earp. Let’s see what you got. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

 


 

BAM! THUD! “Fuck! Dammit. Again.” THUD! CRACK! SMACK! BAM! “Dammit!”

 

Wynonna is on the ground for the twelfth time in the last thirty minutes. Nicole did warn her. “Earp. C’mon. Throw in the towel for the day. We can do this again tomorrow. You are gonna be sore as it is.” Nicole asks. Concern evident in her voice.

 

“No. I need to at least pin you once.” Wynonna argues.

 

Nicole sits down next to her friend who is still laying on the mat. “Wyn. There is no shame in pausing until tomorrow. Give yourself and your body some time to recover.” Nicole says. “If you don’t stop, you will hurt yourself and that helps no one.”

 

“I need to be better Haught.” Wynonna says flatly.

 

“You and me both.” Nicole says distantly. She refocuses with a shake of her head and continues, “C’mon. Let’s hit the showers and get some ice for the soreness. You will thank yourself later.” Nicole stands and holds a hand down to help Wynonna up. After they are both on their feet, they walk to the showers and go about getting ready for the day.

  


 

 

“So, have you had anymore thought on the wedding?” Wynonna asks her sister as she changes in the dressing rooms next to her.

 

“I was thinking small and simple. You know? Like close friends and family. Like, I just want you, Gus, the boys, and Chrissy there. I am not sure who Nicole wants there, maybe Nedley?” Waverly says.

 

“What about that Liz girl?” Wynonna asks. Trying to be delicate.

 

“I don’t know. Maybe. She is coming to this dinner on Saturday. I kinda want to get to know her first. All I really know about her is that she and Nicole have been and are in the same unit. Nicole says they used to be super close, but she doesn’t really talk about it too much.” Waverly says. Unable to hide her curiosity. This woman is one of the few people from Nicole’s past.

 

“You think she could be a threat? I know you didn’t miss the way she interacted with Haughtstuff when she showed up at the Homestead.” Wynonna questions.

 

“I know Nicole would never cheat on me. But I can’t lie, not knowing her and her intentions does make me a little nervous.” Waverly admits, “But hopefully I can get to know her a little better this weekend.”

 

“Yeah. You just let me know if I need to kick someone’s ass.” Wynonna offers.

 

“Thanks, Nonna.” Waverly exits her dressing room wearing a beautiful dress. “What do you think?” She asks.

 

Wynonna exits her respective dressing room in a dress of her own and looks at her sister. “You look hot Babygirl.” Wynonna praises.

 

Waverly laughs and blushes a bit. “You do too. I have never been to one of these things. I am not really sure what to expect.”

 

“You and me both.” Wynonna says with a chuckle.

 


 

“Hey” Nicole comes up behind Waverly and wraps her arms around the smaller girl. “Are you sure you are okay with all of this? I can ask her to stay at the hotel today. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”

 

“Nicole, of course I am okay with her coming. I am happy she is coming a day early. I want to know your friend. Today will be great.” Waverly says with a genuine smile. “Plus, didn’t you say she is bringing a ton of your old stuff too.”

 

“Yeah, but I am going to go pick that up right now. It arrived this morning.” Nicole confirms. “I am not completely sure what exactly she decided to send back. All I know is it is all stuffed in my old trailer.”

 

“Hey.” Waverly says, turning in her arms and drawing Nicole’s attention to her eyes. “This is going to be great. I know it is hard for you to think about your past. But, like you said, it led you here. Although it kills me that you went through so much, I can’t help but be selfishly grateful to have you in my life. And whatever is coming, we can face it together. You said you would stand by my side as long as I wanted you. Well the same goes for you. I’m here. Whenever you need me. And I am not going anywhere.”

 

“What did I do to deserve you?” Nicole says as she leans down and captures Waverly’s lips in a kiss.

 

They are startled when Nicole’s phone goes off, signaling an incoming text message. They break apart just enough for Nicole to retrieve her phone from her pocket and open up the message.

 

LIZ: Landed

 

Nicole pulls up the keyboard and types her response.

 

NICOLE: Roger

NICOLE: eta 40 min

 

Nicole puts her phone back in her pocket and kisses Waverly goodbye once more before she walks off the porch. She hops into her truck and heads towards the airport. It’s going to take Liz at least an hour to get off the plane and grab her bags, so Nicole can relax and enjoy the drive. It’s beautiful in the mornings. The sun lights up the open plains and makes the distant mountains look like a completely different world. It’s peaceful and it is exactly what Nicole needs. The simplicity is nice and is such a sharp contrast to her day to day life that is anything but simple. Sometimes she misses that. The simplicity. But then she looks at the woman she loves and can’t think of her life any other way. She wouldn’t life a simple life. But it’s nice to have it in occasional moments.

Chapter Text

Nicole arrives at the airport and parks her truck. She hops out and walks towards the receiving area. Nicole buys a cup of coffee as she waits and then she sees Liz. She is in civilian clothes, a pair of jeans and a flannel. She is wearing a backpack and is carrying a garment bag that is slung behind her left shoulder. Nicole approaches her and smiles, “Hey stranger. I think you might be on the wrong side of the border.” She says as she gets close. They hug and Liz laughs at her friend.

 

“Nope. I am in the right place. I am meeting an old friend that decided to move to some backwoods hick town in the middle of Alberta.” Liz says with a smirk. They release each other and Nicole grabs the large suitcase that is on rollers at Liz’s side. Nicole picks it up by the handle so Liz only has to carrying the garment bag in her hands and the backpack.

 

“I am glad you made it.” Nicole says.

 

“Well, I do have official business here. But yeah, I’m happy I am here too. It will be nice to meet your new family… Or at least, meet them under better circumstances. Plus, I want to meet this girl you are so head over heels for. You told me so much about her, but I gotta see for myself. Your girlf- fiancé…” Liz corrects. “seems great. I gotta meet the girl that got my Dallas to settle down.”

 

Nicole can’t help but laugh. “Yeah, well you well probably see a lot of my family the next couple days.” Nicole turns and starts to walk out to the truck. “So, why exactly do we all have to attend this dinner at the U.S. Consulate? I could understand it just being me and General Edwards. But I think flying out my whole team and so many others is a little overkill.”

 

“You’ve never been one for politics. We were all invited here on invitation from the government of Canada. The people that will be there tomorrow night are all people who have some type of standing in this war. They want to meet us. Plus, it gives me an excuse to come up and see you and drink a lot of overpriced booze that I don’t have to pay for.” Liz explains. “It’s kinda like our two countries are going out on a date. Their military professionals and ours.”

 

“I understand politics. And as you know I am quite good at working a room. My question is, why here in Canada? Why not in the States?” Nicole clarifies.

 

“Because this way, Uncle Sam is it flipping the bill for everyone.” Liz comments with a hearty laugh.

 

They both break into laughter as Nicole puts Liz’s bag inside the truck. “Hey. I have to go pick up the trailer from the cargo receiving area. Do you want to come with me? Or you can stay in the truck and wait?”

 

“No, I should go with you. You aren’t going to want to try and load that on your own.” Liz says with a smile.

 

 They both hop into the truck and drive towards the side entrance of the airport. Nicole and Liz both jumped out and walk up to the front desk. Nicole shows her ID and signs on a clipboard.  A few minutes later, a young man directs them to where Nicole’s trailer is. The two women make quick work of hitching the trailer on the back of Nicole’s truck and depart out of the loading area. Once there back on the road, Nicole turns the radio on and drives back towards Purgatory. After ten minutes of silence, Nicole lowers the radio a bit and asks, “So, what exactly did you put in my trailer?”

 

“Liz pulls out her phone and opens up a detailed list to be sure. “Both of your Suzuki RM250 bikes. Your Yamaha YZ250F dirt bike. A Honda FourTrax Rancher quad. A bunch of your old pads and assorted gear. Four helmets. Some pictures and stuff like that. And some stuff you left in my apartment back in the States before you left for Chicago. I got rid of a lot of stuff. Stuff that didn’t seem worth the money to ship here or stuff you probably wouldn’t want.”

 

“Wow. Thanks Liz. I really appreciate it. I am honestly surprised you kept all that stuff in storage for me all those years.” Nicole says with a grateful grin to her friend.

 

“Of course. This stuff meant a lot to you at one point. I knew you would eventually want it back.” Liz comments.

 

Nicole doesn’t respond. She just turns her attention back to the road and turns up the radio. They stay that way, humming along to the music, until they arrive at the Homestead. Nicole gets out and walks over to the passenger side of the truck. Liz opens the door and pops out with her backpack in hand. Nicole smiles at her friend and punches her lightly in the shoulder. “You ready?” She asks, wanting to make sure this was okay.

 

“Of course. It’s just your family. We have survived a war zone, several times. They can’t be that bad.” Liz says.

 

Nicole just laughs, “We shall see. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. They can be a bit much and hard to get to know. But they are worth the effort.”

 

“So they are just like you?” Liz asks, a smirk on her face.

 

“Okay let’s go before we start aging.” Nicole says, trying to hide a slight blush as she turns and heads towards the house.

 

Dolls and Doc are sitting on the porch when the two women get to the house. Both men stand and Dolls addresses Liz first. “Lance Corporal Farrell. It is nice to see you again. Congratulations on your new rank.”

 

“Thank you, Sir. But please, call me Liz when out of uniform. The title is far too formal.” Liz says good-naturedly.

 

“Well, then I hope you will do me the same courtesy and call me Dolls.” He responds.

 

“Of course.” Liz affirms.

 

Liz directs her attention to Doc and Nicole introduces them. “Liz, this is Henry. Doc, this is my friend Liz Farrell.”

 

Doc tips his hat, “It is indeed a pleasure to meet you Ms. Liz.”

 

“The pleasure is mine.” Liz responds.

 

“Alright, let’s introduce you to the sisters.” Nicole says, earning a chuckle from both men.

 

“Good luck.” Both men say at the same time.

 

Liz gives Nicole a look before she follows her into the house. Upon entering through the front door, Nicole notices Gus in the kitchen and starts to walk towards her with Liz in tow. She figures it may be best to work up to the Earp girls. Gus is the logical next step.

 

“Hey Gus. I want to introduce you to Liz.”

 

“It is a pleasure to meet you Ma’am.” Liz says as she extends her hand to Gus.

 

Gus shakes her hand and offers a comforting smile. “It is nice to finally meet you Liz. I have heard more than a few of Nicole’s stories about you. Nice to finally put a face to the name.”

 

“Oh god. What did you tell her?” Liz asks Nicole.

 

“How should I know? I was probably drinking.” Nicole says, feigning ignorance.

 

Liz just shakes her head and lets it fall into her hands as she blushes. “I am so sorry Ma’am.”

 

“Don’t be, all good stories. I promise.” Gus assures. She turns her attention to Nicole. “Have you introduced her to the girls yet?”

 

Nicole actually snorts. “Well she isn’t running away screaming yet, so no. Where are they? I didn’t see them as we came in.” Nicole asks.

 

Gus gives a lighthearted chuckle of her own before pointing out the side door. “Waverly was just in here helping me until Wynonna asked for her help outside. I reckon they are still out there.”

 

“Thanks Gus. You need any help in here?” Nicole asks and Liz nods in agreement.

 

“No Darlin’. I got this handled. All the hard stuff is done. Food should be ready within the hour.”

 

“Perfect.” Nicole says, “Let me know if you change your mind.”

 

With that, Nicole and Liz head through the side door and out to the yard. They walk out and immediately spot the Earp sisters. They are bickering (just like the sisters they are). Wynonna is sitting on the fence, a glass of whiskey in hand. Waverly is a few feet away from her, axe in hand. Nicole and Liz emerge just in time to see Waverly bring the axe down on a log of wood. Splitting it in half like it is made of nothing.

 

“Holy shit.” Liz say softly.

 

“I know.” Nicole agrees at the same volume.

 

“They are…”

 

“Yup. I know.” Nicole confirms.

 

“I get why you came here Dallas. Are all the chicks in this town hot?”

 

Nicole laughs. “Not even close to them. To her.”

 

“Which one is Waverly? Can’t tell from the distance. Damn, they really are sisters.”

 

“I bet you that you can tell which is which within the next five seconds.” Nicole says playfully.

 

Liz gives her a questioning look but doesn’t voice it.

 

Nicole starts to count down. “Five…”

 

They continue walking. “Four…”

 

Wynonna notices them first, “Haughtstuff!”

 

“Three…”

 

Waverly turns and gives Nicole a wide smile.

 

“Two…”

 

“Dammit.” Liz says.

 

Nicole laughs. “Told you.”

 

“Damn you’re a lucky woman Dallas. That girl is so in love with you, it is all over her face.” Liz says.

 

“The feeling is mutual.” Nicole says as they reach the sisters. Wynonna is now by her sister’s side, eyeing Liz up and down with skeptical eyes.

 

Nicole leans down and kisses Waverly when she gets close enough. “Hey baby.”

 

“Hi.” Waverly responds.

 

“Waves, Wynonna, this is Liz Farrell. Liz, this is my fiancé Waverly and her sister Wynonna.”

 

Waverly and Liz shake hands and Wynonna does the same, although she doesn’t drop the look of skepticism from her face.

 

“It is nice to meet you Liz.” Waverly says kindly.

 

“Trust me. The pleasure is all mine. I couldn’t wait to meet the woman that got this one…” indicating to Nicole with an elbow jab, “to settle down. I never thought I would see the day Dallas here got domestic.” Liz says with a laugh. “By the way, congratulations on the engagement.”

 

“Thank you. And I am excited to meet you too. I haven’t met too many people from Nicole’s past.” Waverly says with a smile.

 

Wynonna jumps in, “Yeah, it’s nice to meet you. We didn’t get a chance to meet you the last time you were here.” It comes out in a protective way. Wynonna still isn’t sure about her.

 

“Yeah, sorry about that. In all honestly, Green and I probably wouldn’t have minded if that day never happened.” Liz says apologetically, but doesn’t submit to Wynonna’s dominating presence.

 

“Yeah, well I guess today will be like a redo.” Waverly says, saving Liz from Wynonna’s wrath.

 

Nicole gives Wynonna a look and then turns her attention to Liz. “Hey. I am gonna go check out the trailer. Mind helping me out?”

 

“Of course.” Liz responds.

 

“Waves, you need anything before we head back to the front?”

 

“Nah. We are all good here. I’ll see you out there.” She responds.

 

Nicole kisses the top of her head and then heads to the front of the property with Liz. Liz punches her a little harder than necessary when they are almost completely out of earshot from the sisters. “Dallas! You didn’t tell me your fiancé and your future sister-in-law are fucking crazy hot! Like shit Dallas! I would live here in the middle of nowhere if I could wake up with that every morning!”

 

Nicole busts up laughing, “Don’t get any ideas. Wynonna is very strait and very much taken.”

 

“I will fight him for her.” Liz jokes.

 

Him is Dolls.” Nicole says with a chuckle.

 

“Never mind. She’s hot but I would like to live.” Liz adds smugly.

 

“Good girl.” Nicole says with a condescending pat on her friend’s shoulder.

 

Liz slaps her hand away and they chuckle.

 

Chapter Text

They end up at the cargo trailer and Liz hands Nicole the key to the padlock that is securing the door. Nicole unlocks the padlock and hands it to Liz. She will put her own on later. She disengages the latches on either sides of the door and pulls the door/ramp down. The trailer is full, but clean and organized. Just how she left it, for the most part. Nicole looks at everything, not yet getting closer. Her bikes are there and all her gear is too. There is a single cardboard box on top of the quad. It is labeled Dallas’ Stuff. Liz senses Nicole’s hesitation and doesn’t waste time, “Look, Dallas. We don’t have to do this now.”

 

“No. I’m okay. I just haven’t seen all this stuff in years. Mind helping me pull the bikes out? I want to see what kind of condition they are in. If they are still in good shape, maybe we can take them out later.” Nicole says, taking a deep, cleansing breath.

 

Liz nods and they both walk up the ramp to the bikes. Nicole runs her hand along the Yamaha. It was her bike. The favorite of her small collection. She cracks a little smile as she reaches the end of the seat. “Thank you.” She says to Liz as she looks up from the bike. Liz smiles at her and Nicole pulls the bike from the stand. She rolls it down the ramp and puts it up on the stand that Liz carries out. They repeat this process with the Suzuki bikes and once again with the quad. Nicole looks over the bikes and fiddles with a few things. “They are still in great shape from what I can tell. I have some gas in the shed. I’ll go get it and fill one of them up. See how things go.”

 

“Why in the hell would you need to have a bunch of gasoline in the shed at you home?” Liz asks in surprise.

 

“You would be surprised.” Nicole says as she walks away.

 

“What?” Liz asks, not completely sure what Nicole said.

 

“Nothing!” Nicole says as she reaches the shed. She pulls out the container and walks back to the bikes. She fills up the Yamaha and closes it up. She walks back into the trailer and pulls off one of her helmets from the wall. She pulls off the one she used to use them most. It was dark blue (almost black), with a small, red and blue Fox logo on the back. It had light grey marks running along it as well. It was simple, yet artistic. Nicole grabs a pair of goggles reflexively and turns to exit the trailer. She then realizes she is just seeing if it will start, so she doesn’t need a helmet. It’s not like I am going to be doing jumps or anything crazy. She puts the gear down on the quad but does opt to but on a riding jersey to spare her shirt from any possible mess. She slips it on and heads back to her bike. She gets it off the stand and takes a seat on top. She grips the bars (closing and opening her hands on the brake and throttle. Nicole takes a breath and hopes it will start. She fiddles with the choke and a few more things. She kicks the starter down once. Nothing. She does it again and this time the bike comes to life. Nicole lets it idle and hears it pure like it did the last time she road it. She is pleased it turned over so easy. She smiles and shifts it into gear. She drives around the driveway, doing a couple turns and maneuvers to let the bike warm up a bit. She turns to look at Liz and gets a nod of the head in return. She steers towards the end of the driveway and once she is sure, she opens up the bike. Pulling the throttle hard, she shoots out of the homestead at what she guesses is around fifty miles per hour. Not top speed, but still fast. It is amazing. Nicole goes a quarter mile before turning around and heading back to the homestead. She hit somewhere above sixty-five miles per hour on the way back. She slows down as she enters the Homestead. She is grinning ear to ear. She is awash in memories, then she hears two voices above the sound of the bike. First, she hears Wynonna’s happy shriek.

 

“Holy shitballs! YOU HAVE BIKES!”

 

Then Waverly chimes in a few seconds later. “Nicole Haught! I can’t marry you if you break every bone in your body on that bike! Put a damn helmet on!” She yells. But the smile on her face shows she is at least a little excited and amused. Nicole gives her a wicked smile before slowing the bike down even more. She down shifts into neutral and give the throttle some gas, making the bike purr as it revs. Nicole rides up to the trailer and cuts the engine. She hops off and puts the bike on the stand.

 

“How was it?” Liz asks, knowing the answer.

 

“Amazing. I haven’t ridden in years. I forgot how awesome it feels to ride. Thank you for bring me them.” Nicole says with a grin.

 

“Not a problem. I still ride your Honda back home. Hope you don’t mind?” Liz says.

 

“Of course, I don’t mind. You stored all of this for me for a long time. It is the least I can do. The Honda is yours. You always liked it better than I did anyways.” Nicole says, appreciation clear in her tone.

 

Before more can be said, Wynonna runs over to Nicole and stares at her with puppy dog eyes.

 

Nicole laughs and then speaks, “Yes, Wyn. I do have bikes AND yes, we can take them out riding. BUT, after we eat. I am starving and Gus said food will be ready soon.”

 

Wynonna laughs a giddy laugh as she looks over the bikes. Nicole had told her and Waverly about her love for dirt biking. She used to go out with her brother and dad when she was younger. They had even gotten her mom on a quad a few times. She left them with Liz when she left the States and if she is completely honest, she had kinda forgotten about her trailer. Nicole did it recreationally, never competed. She just enjoyed the simple joys of riding. Wynonna looks on the verge of happy tears when Gus calls that lunch is ready. Waverly is leaning on the porch railing when Nicole gets to the house. She is fixing Nicole with a look and Nicole is smart enough to look at least a little bit guilty for not wearing a helmet. She fails after a few seconds though, when her grin can’t stay hidden. Children. Waverly thinks. I am living with children. But she herself can’t even try and be mad long. Nicole Haught is lucky she is cute. That is all Waverly can say.

 


 

“So, Liz, what was Haughtstuff here like before she got here?” Wynonna asks from her seat on the porch railing. They are all eating and talking on the porch in their normal positions. Waverly and Nicole both have their attentions drawn by the question.

 

“Well…” Liz starts.

 

“Shut it Farrell.” Nicole cuts her off. Earning a laugh from the group.

 

“C’mon Haughtopic, I want to know.” Wynonna whines.

 

Nicole levels Liz with a look saying: Tread lightly or I will fuck you up. And Liz seems to understand as she turns back to address Wynonna’s original question.

 

“Well, in a lot of ways, she is the same. But at the same time, she is completely different. When I first met Dallas, she was a seventeen-year-old. She was tall and thin and trying to prove herself. And she kicked ass. She got high scores and even bested most of the men in boot camp. But she was young and stubborn…” Liz gives Nicole a look. “and she was… troubled. She worked her ass off and ended up in an elite unit within her first year of enlisting.” Liz takes a drink from her beer and continues. “After… everything that happened… she was different. We had a lot of fun times though. We used to bar hop in Massachusetts while on liberty. This one [pointing a thumb at Nicole] used to try and outdrink the best of them.” Liz says with a laugh.

 

“And could she?” Waverly asks, curious.

 

Liz and Nicole both bust up laughing. “Hell no! But that didn’t stop her from trying. It was comical. A nineteen-year-old Dallas walking into the bars and trying to beat the regulars. It was a sight.” Liz says. Fighting to keep the laughter contained, but failed every time she looks at Nicole’s blushing face.

 

“Wait, I thought the drinking age in the United States is twenty-one? Waverly asks.

 

“Of course you would ask that.” Wynonna says under her breath.

 

“It is.” Liz confirms. “But the bars around there were cool. Most felt like if we were old enough to carry weapons and go off to war, we were old enough to drink. They were always good to us. It’s a cool community over there.”

 

“To be fair, I was much more mature than many of the legal aged drinkers in there.” Nicole protests.

 

“A ha, sure. You keep telling yourself that.” Liz says in a mocking tone. “I don’t think you doing body shots off strangers and drinking Flaming Lamborghinis really exemplifies maturity.”

 

“Shut up!” Nicole says. Unable to stop the blush on her face, she hides her head behind Waverly's body, who is sitting in her place on Nicole’s lap.

 

“What is a Flaming Lamborghini?” Doc asks, not completely sure he wants to know the answer.

 

“It’s a drink. It has Kahlua, Sambuca, Blue Curacao, and Bailey’s Irish Cream in it. Oh, and they set it on fire.” Liz says with an amused grin directed at Nicole’s hiding form.

 

Waverly can’t help but look down at her fiancé with a shocked look.

 

“I am surprised you didn’t ask what body shots were, Doc?” Waverly says with a chuckle.

 

Wynonna and Doc both stiffen before Doc says, “Well, that would be unnecessary for me to ask about.” The implication clear.

 

“Okay then! Who wants more food?” Nicole asks as she gets up and Waverly sits in Nicole’s now vacant seat. “Another drink? Gus?”

 

“I am all good over here. But thank you.” Gus responds, recognizing Nicole’s excuse for getting up for what it is. That’s Nicole. Always trying to diffuse Wynonna’s awkward situations.

 


 

“You sure?” Nicole asks Waverly. She has just put Waverly in full protective gear and a helmet of hers.

 

“Yes baby. It all feels good and on correctly. I feel like I could survive a plane crash in this.” Waverly says sarcastically.

 

“Trust me, this stuff doesn’t feel like enough when you are hitting the ground at fifty miles per hour.” Nicole says, only slightly joking.

 

“I’m good. I promise.” Waverly states.

 

Nicole smiles and pulls a pair of goggles over the helmet and onto Waverly’s face. She has got both Earp girls suited up and ready to ride. Waverly is on the quad and has a slim black case strapped to the back. Wynonna is on the red Suzuki and Liz is on the green. Nicole makes sure they all have their bikes started before she hops on hers and turns it over. She smiles and lets the bike idle as she double checks her gloves. She shifts into gear and the three others follow her out of the Homestead.

Chapter Text

Waverly can hear their cheers, even over the sounds of the bikes. They drove for a few miles before they stopped. Apparently, this area was once dug for construction, but was abandoned. Thus, it was the perfect place for Nicole and Wynonna to act like idiots on the motorcycles. The ditches make for great little jumps and the general uneven ground is an obstacle of its own. Wynonna is good. She does the little jumps with ease and even takes on some of the bigger ditches a couple times. Nicole is a whole other story. She started on the smaller jumps, but she did them at higher speeds. She takes tighter turns and shows off her ability to keep control of the bike at high speeds. Now Waverly and Liz are standing on the sidelines. They take their helmets and goggles off, relaxing against the quad.

 

“I am really glad I am getting to meet you. I know you are important to her.” Waverly says as they watch the duo make laps on different obstacles.

 

“Me too. She is so different now. I am excited to meet the woman who finally got through her walls.” Liz responds kindly.

 

“You didn’t get through her walls?” Waverly asks, her insecurities getting the better of her.

 

“Waverly, can I be honest with you?” Waverly nods and Liz continues, “I never even got close. Nicole is an amazing woman, she really is. And I have known her for a long time. But she was very broken. She didn’t get help for a long time and it just made things worse. We were and are close, but she never truly opened up completely with me. She doesn’t with anyone. Except you and your family. She is still the Nicole I know, but she is different. She is happy, but more importantly, she is healthy mentally and physically. She used to hold it all inside and it broke her.”

 

“She still does that sometimes. Holds it all inside.” Waverly admits.

 

“Yeah, well I wouldn’t take it personally. That was how we were trained. She just takes it to a whole new level because she used to live her whole life that way. But she seems better now. She seems… lighter. And she seems to find comfort in all of you. It makes me happy to see her this way. I spent far too long watching her self-destruct.”

 

“What do you mean self-destruct?” Waverly asks.

 

“Waverly, you have got to understand, Nicole used to be… different. Looking at that woman out there, it’s hard to imagine that not too long ago, she was considered clinically depressed. She used to drink a lot, trying to forget. As if her mother dying and her family falling apart wasn’t enough, then she ended up in a war zone. And her time in the service only damaged her even more than she was before. Nicole was truly broken once she got out. And because of that, she just gave up for a while. She couldn’t sleep, she wouldn’t eat, and she drank too much. She did eventually get some help and she got her life back on track. But that was only after being deemed suicidal and at risk for several other related issues.” Liz says solemnly. “I should have been there for her more and pushed her to get help. But I didn’t know and she didn’t tell me until years later. I will never forgive myself for that.”

 

“It is not your fault. Nicole was a victim to life’s cruel game. You couldn’t and can’t control that.” Waverly says, hoping to reassure the woman. There is a long pause before Waverly asks the question that is on her mind. “Did she ever… you know… try?”

 

“To kill herself? I honestly don’t know. If I had to guess, I would say yes. I had always assumed so. But part of me also believes she didn’t have the chance.”

 

“I don’t understand?”

 

“Nicole doesn’t live for herself. She lives for others. She wouldn’t die if it meant it would hurt others. Like now, she will fight like hell to always come back to you. Because she loves you of course. But also, because she doesn’t want you to feel the feeling of loss. She could never deliberately do that to someone she cares about. If she was ever alone… I’m not sure she would stay alive for herself. At least, that’s always been the way she had explained it. But now… I think she is truly happy and healthy. I think she might just be living for herself a little bit too.”

 

“You really love her, don’t you?” Waverly says, not really a question and more like a confirmation of fact.

 

Liz laughs lightly, “I do, but not in a romantic way of course.”

 

“Well it’s nice to know there is someone looking out for her when she is away. It makes me feel better knowing you have her back. Especially getting to know you now.” Waverly says, a small smile gracing her features.

 

Liz mirrors her smile. “I’m really happy I got to meet you Waverly. It means a lot to me that you gave her this family and this life. You gave her the only thing she ever really wanted in life.”

 

They both turn their attention back to the dirt bike riding in front of them. Nicole and Wynonna are stopped and talking to each other about something. Nicole is pointing at a large mound of dirt and Wynonna is nodding. Then, Wynonna is riding over to where Waverly and Liz are resting. She pulls off her helmet and looks at Nicole as she positions herself.

 

“What is she doing?” Liz asks Wynonna as she observes Nicole back up from her position and hunch in anticipation.

 

Before Wynonna can answer, Waverly asks a more direct question. “She is going to try and do that jump, isn’t she?”

 

“Will you be any less upset if I say no?” Wynonna asks sheepishly

 

“If she gets hurt, I might kill her.” Waverly says, trying to control the anxiety building in the pit of her stomach. The jump Nicole is positioned to try is the biggest by far. She will get some serious air and only has about eight feet of landing space.

 

Nicole takes off, getting the bike going fast quickly. Nicole dips down and then up. She is in the air, getting major air and then she is on the ground. She sticks the landing, but it is rough. She pumps her fist in the air but still relents and slows down as she approaches them. They all mount up and start to trek back to the Homestead.

 


 

Once the bikes and gear are all cleaned up and put away, the girls head back into the house. Wynonna goes to sit with Dolls and Doc, probably ready for the drink she has been missing for the last couple hours. Liz goes into the kitchen and talks with Gus, helping her clean up. Nicole offers to join them, but Gus waves her off. She decides to go out to the trailer and put a new lock on it. She grabs one from the hall closet and heads outside. She steps inside the trailer and is about to close the door, but then the cardboard box catches her eye. She freezes and just stares at it for a little while. You can do this Haught. She takes a breath and blows it out slowly as she takes a step and grabs the box. She pulls it with her to the floor and she leans against the wall of the trailer. The box is light and only has a few things in it. It has a few photos from Nicole’s trip to Mexico. She went with some people to ride bikes, drink, and have a good time. It was a good memory, and Nicole smiles at the photos. Then she pulls out her old Marine Corps hoodie. Nicole hugs it to her chest. She got it the day she enlisted. She looks inside the box and pulls out the final object. It is a picture of her and her mom. Nicole remembers the day they took it. Her mom had taken her out for a girl’s day. They did your typical stuff: got pedicures, watched trashy movies with junk food, etc. Nicole’s father came home and took the candid photo. Nicole is sitting next to her mom, playing cards in hand. The two ladies are looking at each other with wide smiles on their faces. Nicole’s mom had said something really funny right before the photo was taken, so they both burst into laughter the moment after. Nicole stares at the photo for a long time. She has her hoodie clutched to her chest tight. She whispers out to the universe, hoping there is some way her mom can hear her. “I miss you. And I wish, more than almost anything, that you could be here to see me now. I…” Her voice falters, “I made it. I am so messed up, but I am here. I am going to marry the girl of my dreams. I have a family and friends. I have so much and I so wish you were here to see it. To share it with me.” Nicole takes a calming breath. “I love you Mom and I miss you. And I hope that you know that.”

 


 

Waverly starts to get concerned when Nicole doesn’t come back inside after five minutes. She walks out to the trailer, careful to be quiet. She leans on the opening of the back door to find Nicole sitting on the floor. Waverly hears her whisper a message up to her mom, talking to her in a way. She stays silent as to not disturb Nicole. Nicole is silence for another minute before Waverly walks over and sits down next to her fiancé. She looks at the hoodie that is being clutched and pulls it from Nicole’s grasp. She places it to the side and cuddles up to Nicole and replaces the empty space. Nicole hums and tightens her grip around Waverly. Waverly looks at the photo. “You look like her.” Waverly states. “Besides the hair, you are her mini me.”

 

“Yeah.” Nicole says with a laugh. “I dyed my hair dark my freshman year of high school, just to see what it would look like. I literally looked like a younger version of her. It was cool and a little weird at the same time.”

 

Waverly laughs and looks up at her girlfriend, “You miss her a lot, don’t you?”

 

“I do, now more than other times.” Nicole says honestly. “She would have been so happy to see the life I have now. She would have liked it here. AND she would have loved you.”

 

“I am sure I would have loved her too.” Waverly says, pulling Nicole down for a kiss. “You okay?”

 

“I am.” Nicole says triumphantly. “I do miss her, but I also know she would want me to live my life and be happy. I would be disrespecting her and to myself, if I let that stop me from living my life to the fullest.”

 

“I agree.” Waverly concedes, “But know, I am here if you are hurting. If you need anything.”

 

“All I need is you.” Nicole states. She gestures towards the photo. “This is a happy memory. And I refuse to let it be anything else.”

 

“Good.”

 

“Good.”  Nicole parrots as she kisses Waverly. 

 


 

 

Dinner went well. And everyone enjoyed themselves. Nicole drove Liz to the only hotel in Purgatory after everyone said their goodbyes. Now, Wynonna sits with Waverly and Gus on the porch. “Well, it was nice to officially meet Liz.” Gus says, trying to gauge the situation.

 

“I still don’t completely trust her. But she seems cool enough so far.” Wynonna says, also looking for Waverly’s reaction.

 

Waverly just hums in agreement, but doesn’t say anything else.

 

“Waves? You okay?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Yeah, I just can’t figure something out and its bugging me.” Waverly states.

 

“What is it Darling?” Gus asks.

 

“Liz. She said something earlier and it kinda got me thinking.”

 

“Do I got to kick some ass?” Wynonna asks, a little too eager at the thought of beating up Nicole’s friend.

 

“No, it’s not like that. She didn’t say anything wrong. It’s just…” Waverly pauses to collect her thoughts. “…she has changed so much. And I am really happy that she is in my life. But Nicole has been through so much already. So why am I marrying her and binding her to our crazy, demon-filled, life?”

 

“Woah, wow. Where did that come from?” Wynonna asks before Gus can.

 

“Nonna, we are in constant danger. Hell, living in Purgatory alone is dangerous by itself. But being with an Earp…” Waverly explains, trying to prove her point.

 

Wynonna wants to argue and console her sister, but she can’t. She can’t because she has these exact same thoughts. Gus however, doesn’t have the same reservations. “Waverly, Honey. Your logic is flawed.” Gus says kindly, but firmly. “Nicole is a Sheriff’s Deputy in Purgatory. She was that, even before you met. But more importantly, you being an Earp does not make you any less deserving of love and a happy life. Nicole has had a hard life and she has seen the worst of what humanity has to offer. But don’t you think that is why she was well equipped to handle the curse. Doc said she didn’t even blink when he and Dolls told her the truth. She took it in stride and didn’t let it take her down. She loves you just the same and your last name didn’t change that.” Gus says this to Waverly, but the last comment is directed to both of her girls. “You Earp girls are more than deserving of some happiness. God knows your lives have been hell. But you both have people who, quite frankly, don’t give a rat’s ass about your past and your last name.”

 

Both girls nod and look back out at the setting sun. Nicole drives up the Homestead driveway some time later. She gets out and walks over to the fence line where Doc and Dolls are standing. All of their backs are turned to the women on the porch, but they can tell that no one is talking. Nicole joins them, standing in between them. None of them say anything, but Doc does eventually wrap an arm around Nicole's waist so they are in a side hug. A moment later, Dolls has an arm slung over Nicole’s shoulder and Nicole is leaning her head-on Doc’s right shoulder. The sight of the three embracing each other brings a tear to Waverly’s eye. She and Wynonna wordlessly got up and walk to the trio. Upon arrival, Waverly slips in between Doc and Nicole and Wynonna slips in between Dolls and Nicole. They all tighten the embrace, but say nothing. In this moment, the silence is perfect. They all stand there until the sun is completely gone and the moon is the only light.

 

Gus smiles down at her phone. She scrolls through the photos she has just taken and finds her favorite. She took it right before the sun completely set. The watching group, all huddled together, unaware of the photo being taken.

Chapter Text

“Almost ready to go Captain?” Liz asks Nicole as she enters the house. They are required to attend this dinner tonight, so they decided to carpool.

 

“Yeah, just waiting on our dates.” Nicole says.

 

Liz, Dolls, and Nicole are all in full dress uniforms. The midnight blues look amazing on all of them. Liz is looking Nicole up and down, smiling at Nicole. “The new uniform suits you Captain.”

 

“It is a little stiff.” Nicole comments sarcastically. She can't help but feel strange in the new uniform. “But thank you Lance Corporal Farrell. You the same.”

 

There are small differences between their uniforms. Little things that distinguish Nicole as an officer and Liz as an enlisted marine. Nicole fidgets a bit with the medals on her left. They feel a bit heavy, but she will adjust. Nicole’s uniform as a whole is much more decorative than Dolls’ and Liz’s. Liz’s uniform is dawned with a few ribbons and a badge just below them. It is a stark contrast to Dolls and Nicole. Both are highly decorated. Dolls and Nicole both have a mass of uniform ribbons and both have two badges. Because of the closeness of their branches. They both have a few of the same. The Dolls looks Nicole up and down once before chuckling a bit.

 

“She is right Haught. You look good. You wear the uniform with honor.” Dolls praises, clapping her in the shoulder.

 

“Thank you.” Nicole says, looking down at the gold buttons of her jacket. The white belt at her waist matches the white cap in her white gloved hands. It is bittersweet, wearing the uniform. She feels so much pride wearing it. It is a literal symbol of honor, courage and integrity. But the medals that adorn her chest. They are symbols of things she did. And some make her proud. Like the Outstanding Volunteer Service Ribbon. She received it after working on several community service projects when she was on liberty. Or the Marine Corps Good Conduct Ribbon. She got that on simply because she did her job and her service for over three years. But then there were others like her National Defense Service Ribbon or Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon. They were a little harder to swallow. Those are earned in combat, and most are from her last deployment. They make her a little sick to her stomach. Thinking about the specific acts that she did to earn them. She can’t dwell on it too long though because they hear the sounds of people coming down the stairs. Nicole looks up to see Wynonna first. She is in a long black gown that falls gracefully at her feet. It is tight up top but loose below her hips. It is stunning, yet elegant, but also extremely bold. Totally Wynonna.

 

“Wow Earp, you clean up nice. I almost didn’t-“ Nicole cuts herself off as she lays eyes on Waverly, who is walking don’t the stairs behind her sister. She is in a beautiful blue and white dress. It falls just short of her ankles that are elevated a few inches in heals. “-rec-recognize you.” Nicole barely finishes as she walks towards Waverly. Waverly is blushing under Nicole’s gaze and doesn’t even try and hide it.

 

Nicole still hasn’t spoken and Waverly nervously straitens a badge on her uniform. “You like the dress? Is it okay?” Waverly asks.

 

“It is great, the dress is great. But you, you are perfect.” Nicole responds. Still marveling in all that is Waverly.

 

“So, you like the dress.” Waverly confirms.

 

“I do, but it has little to do with how beautiful I think you look. Right now, or any other night. That’s all you baby.” Nicole says, almost as if she is confessing a secret. Waverly’s blush only deepens at the comment.

 

Wynonna and Liz both couch and snicker as they break the moment. “Shall we go?” Liz asks.

 

“Yes.” Dolls affirms

 

Nicole sticks out her arm and Waverly loops her arm in Nicole’s. They all exit to the SUV and drive to the consulate. They arrive, only to be shuffled on to a bus that takes them to a local hotel. They enter the main dining hall and it is packed with people. Besides the waitstaff, everyone is in formal wear. Uniforms, tuxedos and gowns are all anyone can see.

 

“Alright. Let’s get this party started. You ready to kiss some ass and have your ass kissed, Ma’am.” Liz asks Nicole.

 

Nicole rolls her eyes but straitens up her posture just the same. This is a social function, but there is still a level of formality that comes with it. “Yes, Lance Corporal Farrell. I am ready. Make sure Green checks in with me when he arrives.”

 

“Yes Ma’am.”

 


 

After the first hour, Nicole is pulled into a conversation with some officials and is pulled from Waverly’s side. So, Waverly is now hanging around with Dolls and Wynonna at the bar, waiting for their drink orders. The open bar really helps the atmosphere of the event. Waverly watches as Nicole is pulled from one conversation, to the next. Liz rarely leaves her side and never for more than a few minutes. But now Liz is walking towards Waverly and is barely holding on to her fake smile.

 

“I need a drink. When did Nicole get so good at this. I used to have to drag her around these things. Nicole is acting like she can do this for hours.” Liz says once she reaches the bar, exhaustion and annoyance clear in her tone.

 

Waverly laughs, “She is definitely not a natural people person, but she has her moments. She is an incredibly patient woman.” Liz doesn’t understand the irony of Waverly’s comment so Waverly explains. “When Nicole and I met, I was dating a man and was on the course to eventually marry him. That’s what I thought I deserved.” Wow this open bar thing is really great. ”She waited weeks for me to even consider going out with her. She never pushed me, never tried to make me be something I am not. Hell, I told her I just wanted to be friends and she didn’t even argue with me about it. I hurt her and she just accepted it. Then I realized she was all I wanted and she took me with open arms. She is one of the most patient people I know.” Waverly finishes affectionately. “Plus, she works with my sister. You have to be in order to survive that.” Waverly says with a giggle that erns her an elbow from Wynonna.

 

Liz smiles and looks at the ring on Waverly’s left hand. “You both seem to be pretty patient people.”

 

Waverly laughs at this. She wants to respond and tell her how wrong she is, but she doesn’t get the chance. Nicole is now walking over to them and is accompanied by three men.

 

“Waverly, this is my entire unit. This is Private Mike Green (our field medic), Staff Sergeant Alexander Riley (our tech and communications man), and PFC Jake Gibbs.” Nicole introduces them. “Guys, this is my fiancé Waverly Earp. And her sister Wynonna. And Green has already met Captain Xavier Dolls.”

 

“It is a pleasure to meet you Ma’ams, Sir.” Gibbs says. The other two follow suit.

 

“It is nice to finally meet all of you. I have heard many things.” Waverly responds kindly.

 

Liz chokes on her drink, trying to stifle a laugh. Nicole gives her a look. “Knock it off Farrell.”

 

“Yes Ma’am.” Liz almost has her composure back, but not quiet.

 

Before Nicole can say more, she is being pulled into another conversation. Waverly watches her for a moment before returning her attention to the group in front of her. They all make small talk until Liz grunts into her drink.

 

“What?” Waverly questions.

 

Liz just points to where Nicole is. She is standing near a freestanding table, talking with some other soldiers and General Edwards.

 

“So? She is just talking?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Not the Captain, her.” Liz says as she points to a blonde woman who is watching Nicole with intensity. The blonde walks over and slides her arm so she is clutching Nicole’s. She smiles up at Nicole and says something Waverly can’t make out. Nicole looks confused for a moment but then recognizes the woman. She flashes anger but recovers quickly, excusing them from the other soldiers. She leads the other woman to a table and wrenches her arm from the blonde‘s grasp.

 

“This could get ugly.” Liz says into her drink, downing the rest of it in one gulp.

 

“Is that…” Green starts.

 

“Yes.” Liz confirms. Looking a bit angry.

 

“Who the hell is that? And why is she so handsy with Haughtstuff?” Wynonna barks, her own anger rising. Waverly is still silent. She just watches Nicole.

 

“April Wedge. Private. USMC. Total bitch. She used… or I guess still does have… a weird obsession with Captain Haught. Dallas never had any interest though. Girl is insistent, I’ll give her that.” Liz says through gritted teeth.

 

The blonde puts a hand on Nicole’s shoulder, but Nicole immediately recoils from the touch and backs away. Nicole’s face is a mixture of anger and worry, although she is trying to hide it because of where they are. The girl takes another step towards Nicole and places both hands up to caress Nicole’s cheeks. Nicole tries to back away again, but can’t get far because of the wall that she is now backed into. Nicole looks up and tries to get as far away as she can from the blonde.

 

“Okay, now I am going to go over there and beat the shit out of her.” Wynonna says as she starts to move, but is stopped by Dolls.

 

Nicole is talking sternly to the woman and it is obvious she wants nothing to do with the woman. Waverly just watches. She trusts Nicole and is only concerned for her wellbeing. Nicole grasps the blonde’s wrist as to stop her hands from touching her. Nicole looks almost panicked but it doesn’t last. She says something and gives the girl a look. The blonde pulls her hand away slowly and backs away without a word. Nicole takes a visible deep breath and straitens her uniform. She takes a couple moments more to compose herself before Liz walks over and says something to her. Wait? When did she move? Nicole nods her head twice and gives Liz a forced smile. Liz hands Nicole a glass of water that was offered by a waiter walking around. Nicole downs it. They both nod their heads at each other and relax.

 

“I swear, the girl doesn’t know when to give up.” Green says. “She was a total barracks bunny when Nicole was in boot camp with her. Apparently, not a lot has changed.”

 

“Barracks bunny?” Wynonna and Waverly both ask.

 

“It’s a nicer way of saying she gets around with everyone she can.” Dolls says levelly.

 

“So, it’s the military equivalent to…” Waverly starts.

 

“Whore.” Wynonna interrupts.

 

“Nonna, no. I was going to say a woman of promiscuity.” Waverly says.

 

“Waves, I have been called every name in the book. There is no room for political correctness in me.” Wynonna counters. Waverly just shakes her head and by that point, Nicole and Liz are arriving back with them.

 

“You okay?” Waverly asks.

 

“Now that I am back here with you, yes.” Nicole answers, now with a genuine smile. “Wanna go have a dance with me?”

 

“Of course.” Waverly responds, taking Nicole’s offered arm. They begin to walk away but Nicole stops and looks over her shoulder.

 

“Dolls, Wyn. You too. Let’s go.” Nicole says, not leaving room for argument.

Chapter Text

“I owe you an explanation.” Nicole says as she dances with Waverly.

 

Waverly smiles and pulls Nicole just a little closer, “You don’t owe me anything Nicole.”

 

“I do though.” Nicole insists. “I just… uhh.”

 

“Nicole. Relax. I saw the whole thing. I saw how uncomfortable you were. You don’t have to explain anything to me.”

 

Nicole looks at her in disbelief.

 

“Seriously. I love you and I trust you. I don’t need anything else besides that.” Waverly says with unwavering affection.

 

“I love you Waverly Earp.” Nicole says with a smile. She chooses this moment to spin Waverly and giggles when Waverly comes back to her.

 

“I love you too Nicole Haught.” Waverly says. “Just one question.”

 

“Anything.”

 

“Is it normal for women and men to ogle you like they are tonight? Or is it just the uniform?”

 

“I think you are seeing things. But I have been told the uniform does have its benefits.” Nicole says with a small laugh.

 

“I can confirm that, for a fact, that you look incredibly sexy in this uniform (and all your uniforms for that matter).” Waverly says in a seductive purr.

 

Nicole shivers a bit but regains some composure. She leans down and places a kiss on Waverly forehead. She looks up and sees Doll and Wynonna dancing across the way from them. “Hey Waves. Look.” Nicole nods towards the two. Wynonna has her head on Dolls’ shoulder as they dance. It is beautiful and sweet. Nicole slip out her phone and snaps a photo of them before putting it away and returning her hands to Waverly’s waist. They dance in silence for a while. “Thank you for coming with me tonight.”

 

“Of course. This was actually a really interesting thing to be a part of.” Waverly responds.

 

“It is okay to say you are bored to death Waves. I won’t be offended.” Nicole says with a laugh.

 

“I am not. Maybe you are, but I am actually enjoying tonight a little. I got to meet a lot of people from your past. It is nice to know just a little more about you.”

 

“You can ask me anything you want Waverly. Always.”

 

“Well you see, that’s the problem. I am not sure which questions to ask.” Waverly says. She sees a flash of guilt cover Nicole’s face. Waverly is quick to recover. “But I fully intend to spend the rest of my life figuring it out. And that is a promise.”

 

“I wish I didn’t make it so hard for you. I am sorry. I just… I don’t know how to… let people in. I don’t know how to talk about some stuff or…”

 

“Baby. I love you. And yeah, we have a long road ahead of us. But I am excited. I want to take this journey with you.” Waverly says, taking one hand from Nicole’s shoulder and placing it on her cheek. Nicole nuzzles her hand into Waverly’s hand and just enjoys the feeling.

 

“Hey, I am exhausted. You ready to head home?” Nicole asks.

 

“Whenever you are.” Waverly responds.

 

Nicole takes her hand in hers and they tell Dolls and Wynonna to meet them out front in ten minutes. They make their way back through the ballroom of people. They exchange goodbyes with people and other customary pleasantries. They find Liz and the rest of Nicole’s unit on their way out and confirm that they are all coming over tomorrow for a midday barbeque (before their flights leave in the evening). They meet Dolls and Wynonna out front and get into the shuttle that will take them back to their car. Once they are back at the consulate, they are forced to wait for someone to give them their keys. Both Earp sister remove their heels. Waverly shivers from the cool temperatures. Nicole removes the coat of her uniform and insists Waverly put it on. As they wait, they make small talk and make jokes about the events of the night. Waverly is pressed into Nicole and starts to drift off to sleep by the time they are in the SUV. Nicole runs her fingers through Waverly’s hair as Dolls drives them back to the Homestead. The soft hum of Nicole’s voice and her gentle touches lull Waverly to sleep.

 


 

Waverly wakes up the next morning in bed. She is curled into Nicole’s side and has her head laying on Nicole’s shoulder. She doesn’t remember getting home last night. She vaguely remembers Nicole carrying her up the stairs and putting her to bed. Waverly is in one of Nicole’s old basketball t-shirts and a pair of panties. Obviously, Nicole had changed her out of her dress last night. Waverly can see the dress is hung up on the door of the closet, along with Nicole’s uniform. Waverly peers down at her fiancé. She is covered mostly by the sheets and blankets, but Waverly can tell Nicole is completely naked besides a large sleep shirt. The realization makes Waverly feel a jolt of arousal hit her core. Waverly is careful as she tries to move without waking her girlfriend just yet. She gets herself situated completely on top of Nicole, straddling her so they are pressed together as much as physically possible. Waverly burrows her face into Nicole’s neck and breaths in Nicole’s intoxicating aroma.

 

“Good morning.” Waverly says softly.

 

No response beyond a little stir of Nicole’s body. Waverly places an open mouthed kiss on Nicole’s neck.

 

“It is time for us to wake up.”

 

Nicole murmurs, still half asleep. “Nooo. Baby. Shhhhhhh. Stay here with me all day.” Nicole wraps her arms tightly around Waverly, holding her to Nicole’s body. “I don’t even want to get out of this bed.”

 

“Aw sleepy Nicole. That’s my favorite Nicole. Or at least one of them.” Waverly coos. “You are such a cuddle puppy when you are sleepy Nicole.”

 

“Stay. We can’t get up. It should be illegal to force me to get out of bed when I am in bed with you.” Nicole, who still hasn’t opened her eyes, says.

 

“Baby, I said we need to wake up. I didn’t say anything about getting out of bed yet.” Waverly says with a seductive tone

 

Nicole eyes shoot open and she quickly flips Waverly so Nicole is now on top. “What did you have in mind Ms. Earp?”

 

Waverly can feel her arousal pooling inside her. She leans up and pulls Nicole down to kiss her. The keep kissing and Nicole wastes little time removing both of their shirts and Waverly’s panties. Suddenly, Nicole stops and pulls up from Waverly’s body. Waverly can’t stop the whine and whimper that unconsciously leaves her mouth at the loss of contact.

 

“What’s wrong baby.”

 

“Nothing, I was just thinking about something. I am sorry. Let’s just-“

 

“No, what’s wrong?” Waverly says, not allowing Nicole to kiss her until she explains. Waverly is really turned on right now. But Nicole takes precedent at the moment.

 

“Nothing is wrong baby. I was just thinking of the dream I was having last night and… how nice it would be to have that life with you.” Nicole admits, a little embarrassed. “It’s stupid, sorry.”

 

“Tell me about this dream of yours.” Waverly presses.

 

“Well, we are married. And we have kids or a kid. And the curse is broken so you and your sister can truly enjoy your lives. Everyone is happy and we are surrounded by family. We have family dinners and outings. Picnics in the park, bonfires at night. And we get to wake up like this every morning.” Nicole stops once she notices Waverly has tears in her eyes. “Shit. I’m an idiot. I am sorry.” Nicole goes to get off Waverly but is held there by Waverly’s firm grasp.

 

“No, Nicole. It’s beautiful. It is amazing. I want all of that too. I want all of that and more. I am just so happy and relieved that you want that too.” Waverly says, smiling and letting the happy tears fall.

 

“Nicole kisses those tear stained cheeks until all evidence of crying is gone. She kisses Waverly on the lips, deepening it immediately. Hands go lower, fingertips touch sensitive skin, breathy moans and sighs escape. It is like the outside world is gone and the only thing that exists is the two of them.

Chapter Text

“I love you.” Waverly whispers into Nicole’s ear. They are still naked in bed. Niether one wanting to separate from the other. Waverly lets her head fall onto Nicole’s chest and they lay there in that position. Sometime later, Nicole hears movement downstairs and gets up to shower. Waverly relaxes a little longer before getting up and heading to the bathroom. Nicole is no longer in there and Waverly assumes she is downstairs. She takes her own shower and gets dressed. She walks down the steps and is surprised by what she finds. 1. Nicole is not in the house. 2. Wynonna is awake and it is before two in the afternoon. 3. Gus’ truck is in the driveway. And 4. Nicole has Wynonna in some type of lock. They are wrestling for something on the porch and acting like children.

 

“What the hell?” Waverly asks from the door.

 

“Haughtstuff won’t let me drive her truck into town to go buy more booze!” Wynonna says indignantly.

 

“Yeah, because you have already had a few drinks. You are not driving!” Nicole says. She wrenches her arm away from Wynonna and Waverly sees what they are fighting for. Nicole’s keys. “I will go into town and get more booze for you. But you aren’t driving.”

 

Wynonna huffs but agrees. Nicole releases Wynonna with a smirk on her face. Unfortunately, that smirk falls from her face when she meets Waverly’s annoyed glare. Children. She is with children.

 

“Although I appreciate you not letting her drive, can you try to not physically assult each other next time?” Waverly says, not amused in the slightest.

 

Nicole gets up and steps to Waverly, planting a light kiss on her nose. “No promises, your sister can kinda be a dick head sometimes.”

 

“At least I didn’t shoot you.” Wynonna says in her defense. She must not realize how bad that is.

 

“True.” Waverly sarcastically agrees. “Us Earp girls are after you Haught. One tried to kill you, one threatens your job security every time she enters Shorty’s and me… well I’m the only normal one.” Waverly says with a smirk of her own.

 

Nicole and Earp heir both burst into laughter at the suggestion that Waverly is the normal one. None of them are even close to normal. Nicole gains some composure and heads to her truck. She starts the engine and is about to release the parking break when Waverly jumps into the passenger seat. Waverly smiles at her fiancé and Nicole takes her hand and rests both of them on the center console. They drive off towards town.

 


 

They are walking through the liquor store, buying far too much alcohol. Nicole has the basket in one hand and Waverly is holding her other one. They walk that way the whole time they are in the store. They are about to check out when Waverly remembers they should probably buy at least one bottle of red wine. Nicole nods and they head down the appropriate aisle. They stop and Waverly cant seem to choose between two different wines.

 

“Pinot Noir or Cabernet?” She asks Nicole. Holding a bottle in each hand like Nicole’s decision would be made up if she saw the actual bottles.

 

“Waves, you’re the bartender. I don’t even drink red wine. I don’t know.” Nicole says sweetly.

 

“I cant choose. That is like picking which one of your children is your favorite.” Waverly says dramatically.

 

“Okay, well then we will get both.”

 

Waverly’s face lights up and she leans up on her tip toes to kiss Nicole. Their lips are just about to part when a familiar voice causes them to part a little quicker than necessary. “You know. It’s bad enough that your fiancé is super hot and smart. But now you gotta make me envious of how in love you are with her Dallas? That’s just cruel.” Liz sounds off sarcastically. She laughs and has a wide smile on her face.

 

“Hey! I thought you guys wenert going to be in town for another hour?” Nicole asks her as Liz, Green, Gibbs and Riley approach them.

 

“Well we were planning on picking up some time travel juice before meeting you. Seeing as you are hosting all of us for a barbeque.” Gibbs says with a smile.

 

They all laugh as everyone purchases their bottle and head to the parking lot. “Is there anything else you need before we head out to the Homestead?” Nicole asks everyone. Everyone shakes their heads no. “Alright. You guys can follow us up there.”

  


 

 

“Dallas. You got to tell them the story.” Green pleads.

 

“No.” Nicole says with a childish pout.

 

“Please. It is literally the best. Please tell it.”

 

“Fine.” Nicole concedes, but she quickly points a finger at everyone around her. “But no judging.”

 

Everyone laughs and Nicole launches into a story about how she fell off of an obstacle during boot camp and ended up plowing face first into the ground, taking four others down with her. Everyone is crying with laughter as Nicole explains exactly what happened and Liz adds important details that she purposely admits. By the end, everyone is clutching their stomachs.

 

“Alright, well we need to head out. Our flight home takes off in a couple hours. But thank you for having us. The food was amazing Mrs. McCready.” Gibbs says with a boyish smile.

 

You are quite welcome. Come back anytime!” Gus responds kindly.

 

Nicole walks the soldiers (Green, Liz, Riley, and Gibbs) to their rental vehicle after they all say their goodbyes. Once they reach their rental, they all turn and stand in attention. This was now their commanding officer, not their friend.

 

“Ma’am.” They all say. They all salute and it is returned before they pile in and drive away.

 

Nicole stands there for another second before turning back to her family. She goes inside to help Gus with some dishes. Dolls and Doc come in too to help out where they can. Waverly and Wynonna sit on the porch and enjoy the early afternoon air. Nicole thinks she hears something outside, but cant tell because of the sounds of clean plates being stacked.

 

Wynonna walks in a minute or so later, “Hey, Haughtstuff… there is a guy outside talking to Waverly. Says he knows you.”

 

Nicole drops the plate she is holding and bolts towards the front door. She drws her concealed pistol and has it trained up before she is even out the door. Her fear is confirmed when she recognizes the man talking to Waverly a few yards from her truck.

Chapter Text

“Hey! Waverly get inside will ya? Gus needs your help washing up.” Nicole tries to keep her tone even, but it just comes out harsh and panicked. Waverly immediately recognizes this but is confused for the reason of it. She turns and sees Nicole’s gun is drawn and Waverly immediately jumps away from the man. She gets to Nicole who hasn’t taken her eyes off the man. Waverly looks back at him and he has a small grin on his face. “Go inside Waverly. Please.”

 

“Wow Dallas. Your wife is a very special woman. You are lucky. I would have-” Eli says.

 

At the mention of Waverly, Nicole screams at him. “Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You don’t get to talk about her! You don’t get to be near her! You need to get the fuck out of here!”

 

Wynonna rushes to her sister’s side. Nicole feels her presence. “Take Waves and everyone else inside Wynonna. Now.” She said it softly, but with a deadly amount of calmness. “Make sure Dolls goes too.”

 

“I am not leaving you here. What the fuck is going on Nicole?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Wynonna, go. All of you. I will be fine.”

 

Waverly struggles with her sister’s pull, but Wynonna eventually gets her to the house. She doesn’t want this, but her best friend asked this of her and she has to respect it. Wynonna has to physically push Doc and Doll into the house. Now alone, Nicole starts stepping towards him as she speaks. “Get the fuck out of here!”

 

“I really thought you would be happier to see me Dallas.” He responds, that stupid grin still plastered to his face.

 

“What the hell would give you that impression? Was I not clear the last time we saw each other?” Nicole responds. “You need to leave.”

 

“Don’t you want to know why I am here?” He inquires.

 

“No. I actually don’t give a fuck why. I don’t give a single fuck about you.” Nicole hisses.

 

“Dallas, I have put a lot of work into getting both of us here. This is no coincidence. I waited for your unit to leave and made sure to be here at this exact moment. It is perfect. You could at least do me the courtesy of letting me explain why I am here.”

 

“The courtesy?” Nicole asks, astonished as her anger starts to bubble over. “What makes you think you deserve any courtesy from me?!”

 

“I would be in your best interest to listen to what I have to say. I wouldn’t want this whole situation to get uncomfortable.” Eli lightly threatens, teasing at the irony of the statement considering Nicole still had her gun pointed at his head. “It would be a shame if someone got hurt.”

 

“Like anything you could do to me could ever hurt me again. What the fuck do you want? Say what you have to say and get the fuck out of here.” Nicole barks out.

 

“You are a skilled soldier and you are wasting your talent in the Marine Corps. But I figure trying to convert you to work with Whitereef is going to have to wait. This is not personal. This is a professional warning. You and your team need to back off the ARC and Qazi. If you don’t, you and your unit will surely regret it.” He says coldly. Nicole’s mission is white walled. The fact that he is talking about it means the information was either leaked or he is making an educated guess.

 

“Excuse me. But even if I was tasked with handling the ARC problem in the sandbox, why the hell would I back down?” Nicole asks.

 

“Because Whitereef has an interest in Qazi. You, your unit, and your mission conflict with our agenda. So, I will say it again: It would be in your best interest to back the fuck off.”

 

“Nicole barks out in hateful laughter, “You don’t get to order me around. You hold no power over me. You can’t hurt me anymore than you already have.”

 

“Your wife is sweet. It would be a shame if she got caught in the crossfires of this little… disagreement.”

 

Nicole advances on him before he even finishes his threat. Her gun is pressed into his forehead and her eyes look like they may catch on fire because of all the anger in there. “You so much as breath in her direction again, I will end your pitiful life.” Nicole says with a deadly calm tone.

 


 

Waverly hates being inside the house. She hates that she can only watch as Nicole faces off with the man that literally tortured her. It makes Waverly’s blood boil and she has to keep reminding herself to keep her cool. Nicole still hasn’t lowered her gun. The two are talking, but it is tense. He seems relaxed and even a slight bit amused, while Nicole is rigid and speaking through clenched teeth. The man, that she now assumes to be Eli, was nice when he approached her. He simply said that he was looking for Nicole and that he was an old friend. She was immediately suspicious, but thought better than to act on her suspicions just yet. When Nicole emerged from the house, Waverly couldn’t miss the look on Nicole’s face. Her features were hard, a stark contrast to her normally soft and delicate features. Her eyes were pits of anger and her body had a protective and primal quality to it. Nicole was almost unrecognizable and it almost scared Waverly. Waverly is still thinking about it when Nicole advances towards Eli and presses her gun to his head. A moment passes before Waverly hears Dolls and Wynonna cocking their guns and bracing to open the front door.

 

“What are you doing?” Waverly asks.

 

“Waves…” Wynonna tries. “I can’t let her shoot him. She will not recover from that. No matter how horrible he is. She will never forgive herself for executing him.”

 

“You think she is going to actually shoot him in the head?” Waverly asks in disbelief.

 

“I think it is a possibility and, personally, I wouldn’t blame her. But I won’t let her do that to herself.”

 

Waverly looks at Nicole who hasn’t taken her gun off of Eli’s head. Waverly truly doesn’t think Nicole will shoot him unprovoked. She really doesn’t. But the thoughts of it still makes her shudder. She grabs her shotgun and readies herself.

 

 

Chapter Text

Nicole still has her gun pressed against his forehead. Her threat still hanging in the air.

 

“I don’t doubt that you will try. But, unfortunately for you, you will be too late. Maybe you could eventually get me, but not before something unpleasant happens to your family.” Eli says with a chuckle. “Plus, in the off chance that you did get me… well, there is always someone to pick up where I left off.” As soon as he finished talking, the back doors of his unmarked SUV opened and four armed men exited the vehicle. They all had their guns pointed at Nicole. Eli laughs. “See thats the thing about this whole thing Dallas. You don’t really have a choice. I have way too many resources for you to fight all by yourself.”

 

Nicole keeps her gun on Eli’s head, her firm grip unmoving. She hears movement behind her and isn’t surprised when she hears Wynonna’s voice pipe up. “Good thing she isn’t alone!” Wynonna has peacemaker drawn with a straight arm. Waverly has her shotgun trained in their direction. Doc has a pistol in each hand and both are trained on different men. Dolls is there too, his gun up high and at the ready. Even Gus is in the doorway, a spare pistol in her hand, although she leaves it at her side.

 

“It would be in your best interest to leave now, Mr. Abrams. Before things become more uncomfortable for you.” Dolls said in an authoritative tone.

 

“Oh bummer, we were just starting to have some fun!” Eli exclaims. His eyes are still on Nicole and he addresses her now. “Want to test your team verses mine? You have the numbers advantage after all.” He smirks.

 

“Although I have no doubt that we would kill all your asses. I have to decline. I don’t play games with liars.” Nicole bites out.

 

“When have I ever lied to you Dallas?” He questions with mock outrage.

 

“Many times, but as for this situation. You said I have you outnumbered. That is a lie though.” Nicole says evenly.

 

“Oh?” Eli responds, curiosity peaked.

 

“Yes. You see. My team is of six. And that is including the one who isn’t even a threat to you.”

 

“I’m not sure if you are counting correctly Dallas, but there are five of my team, including myself.”

 

“There you go, lying to me again. Do you think I am stupid? Or do you think of yourself as just too smart? I know you have got a driver in your vehicle. Plus, there is a sniper nested a quarter mile east of here.” Nicole feels a small and sinister smile tug on her lips. “So even if I did take you out! We would all still be dead!” Nicole’s anger boils over. She can’t see through the tinted windows of the SUV, but she knows an agent is sitting in the driver’s seat, ready to strike if necessary. And she saw the sniper as soon as she saw Eli. She knew he would never come here without back up again.

 

One of Eli’s men flinches at Nicole’s anger and moves to advance on her. Dolls is there before he gets to Nicole and stands at her side. His movement causes another one of the Whitereef agents to advance a step forward. Wynonna and Waverly are now on Nicole’s other side. “Stop.” Nicole says (to her team and to everyone else). Everyone freezes. It is silent for a moment before Eli speaks.

 

“I am impressed Dallas. You have really grown up since our time together.” He looks her up and down and bites his smiling lips. “You certainly have.” He muses.

 

“Shut up!” Both sisters yell in unison. Waverly’s gut wrenches as she watches him ogle Nicole. She wants to shoot him in his stupid face. Her finger lightly taps a couple times on the trigger.

 

Eli tries to turn his head to look at the Earp sisters, but Nicole’s pistol at his forehead blocks is motion. He still smiles though. “Stand down boys. We are done here.” All the Whitereef agents lower their guns slightly. Eli chuckles one more time before removing his face from the mussel of Nicole’s gun and walks towards the SUV “I’ll be seeing you around Dallas.” He says.

 

He is about to reach for the door handle on the passenger door when a gunshot sounds off. He pulls his hand away and looks at Nicole (who is now a few steps closer than she was before). He chuckles and then looks at the mirror of the SUV. “You know. I don’t think my companion will take kindly to you shooting the mirror off his SUV.” He looks back at Nicole, smile still on his face as he reaches for the door again and gets in. He raises a hand out of the open window (signaling the sniper to stand down).

 

“Just to be clear. That was a warning.” Nicole says. “The next time I shoot at you. I won’t be so courteous.” Nicole lowers her gun.

 

Eli just continues to smile as the driver of his SUV peals out of the Homestead and down the road. Nicole just stands there and watches them drive away. She fights the urge to shoot the rest of her clip at the SUV. She walks to the front gate of the Homestead, still silent. She still hasn’t turned to look back at her team. She pulls out her cellphone and dials a number. It rings once before a man answers.

 

“Edwards.”

 

“Sir. Captain Haught.” Nicole identifies.

 

“What can I do for you Dallas?”

 

“This isn’t a personal call Sir. I just had Eli Abrams show up at my home in Purgatory and threaten myself and my family. He had Whitereef muscle with him.

 

“Dammit. Well I guess I should have assumed he would show up sooner or later.” The General says regretfully.

 

“Sir. My unit is still in-country. I would appreciate it if you could grant them some extra security for their travels home.”

 

“I will have eyes in the sky, Captain. Thank you for the information. You will be contacted and debriefed tomorrow at 0800 hours.”

 

“Yes Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

 

There is a long pause before the General speaks (obviously preoccupied). “I just got confirmation that we have eyes on Abrams and his team. We got this from here. Have a good day Captain.”

 

“As for you Sir.

 

The call ends and Nicole puts her phone back in her pocket after sending a quick text to her unit.

 

Haught: Abrams showed up here. General has him pinned. Nothing to worry about. Travel safe.

 

Farrell: Fuck. Are you okay?

 

Haught: Liz, I’m fine. Travel safe. Talk during the briefing tomorrow.

 

Green: I hope you kicked his ass.

 

Gibbs: She totally wanted to shoot him.

 

Haught: Neither of you are helping. Talk tomorrow. Travel safe. All of you.

 

Nicole finally turns to look at her family for the first time since she saw Eli on the Homestead. No one has moved. They are all silent and staring at Nicole. Waverly and Wynonna both look shocked. She looks down at her feet. And then begins to walk back towards them. She reaches Dolls first. They exchange a look and he relaxes. He claps her on the shoulder and walks back towards the house (taking Waverly's shotgun from her as he passes). She and Doc nod their heads at each other before he follows Dolls. The sisters are still standing there. Nicole approaches slowly. She is a foot away from them when she realizes she still has her gun in hand. Fuck this is going to be a lot of paperwork! She re-conceals the now cool weapon and takes a final step towards the girls. Waverly grabs her hand and pulls her into a bone crushing hug. Nicole kisses the top of Waverly’s hair before looking at Wynonna.

 

The Earp heir holds up a fist to Nicole. “Nice shooting Haughtshot. I am a little jealous.”

 

Nicole chuckles and smiles as she bumps fists with the older Earp sister. “Thanks, Wyn.” The way she says it implies the gratitude is for more than the complement.

 

“We good here?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Yeah. Not our problem anymore.” Nicole responds. Wynonna nods and walks back to the house. She says something to Gus as she passes through the doorway and Gus visibly relaxes.

 

“I’m sorry.” Waverly’s voice brings Nicole’s attention back to the woman still hugging her chest.

 

“What could you be apologizing for? I should be the one saying that to you.” Nicole states.

 

“Nicole, I…” Waverly sounds on the verge of tears.

 

Nicole pulls Waverly’s face up so it is no longer buried in Nicole’s chest. She looks into Waverly’s soft eyes. “Waves. I am sorry. I know this wasn’t a good situation. And I know I scared you, I saw the look on your face.”

 

“Nicole. It scared me. I won’t deny that. But you were only reacting to what was in front of you. It’s okay. I am not fragile. I can take care of myself.” Waverly says honestly. “But are you okay? I know what he did to you and how it affected you.”

 

“Yes Waves, I’m fine. I am just glad I didn’t kill him. If this had happened five years ago, I would have shot him when I had the chance.” Nicole says.

 

“Well technically you did shoot in his direction. That mirror was only a couple inches from his hand.” Waverly comments.

 

“Guess he got lucky.” Nicole comments nonchalantly. A small smile gracing her face.

 

“I would probably agree with you, except I know how good of a shot you are. You missed him on purpose.” Waverly says with a knowing grin.

 

“A ha. Sure.”

 

Nicole leans down and they kiss. It is slow and Waverly deepens it, her tongue seeking entrance. Nicole opens up to her and reciprocates the action as Waverly pulls her hands up. One wraps around Nicole’s neck and the other lands on Nicole’s cheek. Nicole breaks the kiss as hands start to wander. Waverly whimpers at the loss of contact and Nicole quickly reassures her. “We are standing in the middle of the driveway. Let’s take this somewhere a little more private.” Nicole purrs.  

 

“Please.” Waverly agrees. Nicole takes Waverly’s hand in hers and leads the shorter brunette to the barn.

Chapter Text

“You know. I really like you Nicole Haught.” Waverly teases.

 

“Really?” Nicole laughs. “I never would have guessed.”

 

“I think this is the part where you say you like me too.” Waverly says. Lifting her chin and exposing her neck more.

 

“Well, I have to admit. You are my everything, so I guess that must mean I like you too.” Nicole says as she slides up to kiss and tease all over Waverly’s chest and neck. “I love you Waverly Earp.”

 

“I love you too Nicole Haught.” Waverly’s back arches as Nicole’s hand begins to caress her breast, a thigh being wedged into her thighs. Nicole rocks forward and Waverly moans loudly. She quickly unbuttons Nicole’s flannel and it lands on the floor. Waverly’s hands flow along Nicole’s chest and abdomen as Nicole continues to rock into Waverly’s center. One thing Waverly loves to do it run her fingers along Nicole’s front. It had always been firm, but slightly soft. It was still that way, but Nicole’s excessive training since re-upping has caused her muscles to strengthen even more. Waverly still marvels at how much stronger and more agile Nicole is. It is not different in bed. Nicole scoops Waverly up from the makeshift bed and turns her to her chest. Waverly wraps her arms around Nicole’s neck and feels Nicole bury her face in Waverly’s cleavage, kissing everywhere. Nicole pushes Waverly up against the barn wall and rocks her hips into Waverly hard. Waverly moans and brings Nicole’s face up to join their lips. Nicole is just about to remove Waverly’s shirt when Wynonna sounds off from outside the barn door.

 

“Haught! You better not be defiling my baby sister in there! You might be a Haughtshot but if I see that, you will be Haughtmurdered!” Wynonna shouts.

 

Nicole groans in frustration, slowly lowering Waverly down to the grown. “Wynonna! Seriously?! I am about to marry her!” Waverly shout, equally frustrated (and let’s be honest, she is a little wound up).

 

“Sorry Babygirl, no can do! I can only take so much! Didn’t you get enough this morning! God I am pretty sure the whole town heard you two!” Wynonna counters sarcastically.

 

Waverly looks at Nicole and kisses her hard. She pulls away slightly and whispers, “Never. Never enough. Never too much.”

 

“Agreed.” Nicole says with a smile before kissing Waverly again. She pulls away and grabs Waverly’s hand. “If we don’t go out there, she is going to come in after us.”

 

“I am not mentally prepared to handle my sister walking in on us again.”

 

Nicole retrieves her shirt and slips it on over her sports bra. She buttons it up as Waverly (unhelpfully) kisses her exposed skin. “Let’s go. We have some wedding stuff to talk about with Gus anyways.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly’s hand.

 

“Okay” Waverly concedes. “But we are going to finish this later Officer Haught. Or Agent Haught. Or should I call you Captain Haught? So many options.” Waverly teases.

 

“You can call me whatever you want. My only request is that you promise to never stop.”

 

“That, I can promise.” They kiss once more before exiting the barn and meeting Wynonna. Waverly punches her sister in the arm and Wynonna just laughs and rubs her arm with an unapologetic smirk on her face.

 


 

“You want to change your name?” Nicole asks, obviously surprised.

 

“I think so, I haven’t really thought too much about it. Do you not want me to?” Waverly asks.

 

“No, that’s not it. I would love it if you took my name. I just assumed you wouldn’t want to give up Earp.” Nicole says honestly.

 

“Like I said, I haven’t put much thought into it yet. I don’t really know how this works.” Waverly says, kissing Nicole’s hand as she laid across the couch, her head in Nicole’s lap.

 

“You could always hyphenate your name. Or take two last names sans hyphen.” Gus offers.

 

“Or Nicole could change her name to Nicole Earp.” Wynonna chimes in from the kitchen. “As long as you don’t do that stupid last name blending thing, I’m cool with it!”

 

Nicole chuckles. “I don’t think there is a way to blend Earp and Haught.” She pauses and thinks. “Haup?”

 

Wynonna pops her head around the corner. “My point exactly.”

 

Gus shifts in her chair and turns her attention back to Waverly, who is in deep thought. Nicole does the same. “Waves. There is no pressure to decide this now. You can’t even legally change it until after we are married.” Nicole says, running her free hand through Waverly’s hair.

 

“I don’t feel pressured Nic. Just thinking. I have never had to think about it before.” Waverly states, smiling up at her fiancé.

 

“Well, I am okay with whatever you decide. I know your last name is important to you.” Nicole says, popping her dimples for the brunette below.

 

“It is. But it is not more important than the future I plan to have with you. Earp has a lot of good and bad memories. I just got to think about it for a little while.”

 

“I love you, but that was incredibly cheesy and mushy and sweet. I don’t know if I can accept that response.” Nicole says with mock indignation.

 

“Shut up!” Waverly laughs. Biting Nicole’s hand playfully.

 

“Okay okay!” Nicole says, knowing from experience that Waverly could leave a mark. And this is not a mark she would want to have to explain later.

 

They both laugh and Gus just shakes her head and smiles. Wynonna enters the room with Dolls. Doc had retreated to the barn a little while ago. Wynonna sits on the arm of the love seat Dolls is sitting in, eventually sliding down to rest on his lap.

 

“Okay. So, what else have you decided?” Gus asks.

 

“Well, I thinking that maybe you would walk be down the aisle, Gus. And…” Waverly turns her head to meet Wynonna. “You could be my maid of honor. Although you would technically be a maiden of honor.”

 

“Of course, Darling. I would be honored.” Gus says, her smile wide.

 

“Of course, you got to bring some history lesson into this. But I would love to be your maid of honor, Wave.” Wynonna smiles wide as well.

 

“And what about you Nicole? Have you given it any thought?” Gus asks, compassion evident in her tone.

 

“Well, I want Nedley to walk me down the aisle. He is the reason I ended up here in the first place and has been a father to me since day one. As far as a best man/bridesmaids, I was hoping Dolls, you, would be my best man or whatever. Doc offered to get ordained so he could marry us. Besides that, I don’t really have anyone else. Everyone important to me is here. I was thinking of maybe inviting Liz. But that is still up for debate.” Nicole says.

 

“I would be honored.” Dolls says, sending Nicole a smile.

 

“Okay, well that’s a start.” Gus says happily.

 

“We both agreed for it to stay small. We agreed on a few people we want there. Just you (Gus), Doc, Dolls, Wynonna, Nedley, Chrissy, and maybe Liz or Gibbs.” Waverly says. “And we decided on a location.”

 

“Please tell me it isn’t Shorty’s. It was cute for the proposal, but…” Wynonna starts.

 

“No.” Nicole says, stopping Wynonna from continuing.

 

“We decided to get married in the same place as our first official date. Well, that is, if it is still okay with you Gus?” Waverly continues.

 

“Of course.” Gus says.

 

“Where was your first date?” Wynonna asks.

 

“We had a picnic in Gus’s backyard. Under the tree that Uncle Curtis planted when he bought the land.” Waverly says, obviously relishing in the memory of their date.

 

Chapter Text

“I am not sure I understand Sir.” Nicole says. Her irritation evident.

 

She is in the Black Badge Division office by herself. She has all the windows covered, a sound-blocking device near the door and has all entrances and exits locked. Adhering to protocol, she took precautions to make sure no one would be able to overhear the information during her (very classified) briefing.

 

“Dallas. Your mission is not Eli Abrams or Whitereef.” General Edwards says from the other end of the conference call.

 

“Sir. With all due respect. He threatened myself and my family. He sicked his agents on me. I can’t just let that go.” Nicole states.

 

“I agree Sir. He is targeting the unit. He waited for the rest of us to leave before ambushing Captain Haught’s residence.” Liz chimes in, also connected to the call (along with the rest of Nicole’s unit). “He is in violation of so many laws and regulation. And that is without even bringing up his history with our CO.”

 

“Eli Abrams is a well-connected man. Not only is he a lead Whitereef operative, but he has other… connections.” The General says.

 

“Sir, I believe that he poses a serious threat to our mission.” Gibbs says. “He is not only threatening a group of civilians and an elite spec ops unit, but he also seems to have intel on us that shouldn’t exist on paper.”

 

“I cannot confirm anything regarding leaked intel. But what I can tell you is that if there was a leak and I perhaps found said leak. It hypothetically, would be handled and we would have said leak on a plane to Gitmo.” The General says.

 

“Just because the (hypothetical) leak is removed. That does not guarantee the safety of the unit or our loved ones.” Liz argues. “What hypothetical intel was leaked?”

 

“As far as we can tell…” The General starts. “The information was mostly regarding Captain Haught’s life before her discharge and the basic information on the rest of the current unit. There is technically no hard intel on anything since the year 2010. That is when the mission and all its details were re-classified and white walled. We have no reason to believe that they have current mission intel.”

 

“Whitereef is working with the Afghan Retaliation Council. They have a large interest in protecting Quazi and they are not afraid to take us out in order to keep us from interfering.” Nicole states formally. “Sir, I concur with PFC Gibbs. Abrams and Whitereef pose a threat to our mission. The mission and its completion may be compromised.”

 

“There is no hard evidence of that.” General Edwards says.

 

“The security tapes of him on the Earp Homestead isn’t enough?!” Nicole asks, her composure slipping the slightest bit, anger in her heart.

 

“I wish it was. But it is not. The U.S. government and military is not going to go to war with one of the most powerful private military firms in the world over this. There just isn’t enough evidence.” The General states, failing to hide his personal annoyance at the situation.

 

“What will be enough Sir?” Liz asks.

 

“More than what you have now.” The General says flatly.

 

“You mean when he actually does come after us and someone gets hurt. When he shows up and kills someone or makes them wish he had. Will it be enough then Sir?!” Nicole bites out. Her tone curt and angry.

 

“Captain Haught, you are very aware of Whitereef’s pull. I know no one likes it, but it is the facts of the situation.” The General cuts in.

 

“Sir. Eli Abrams, my CO at the time, and another Whitereef operative almost killed me all those years ago. And they got away with it. So, yes, I am very aware of their pull. But that does not take away from the fact that, now, they are threatening national security. I need to know what our options are in this situation. Sir. I will not let anyone hurt my family or my unit.” Nicole says, regaining her professional composure and retaining her stoic posture.

 

“I am sorry, but you don’t have any.”

 

“What?!” Liz and Gibbs both interject.

 

“Your orders are to stand down and wait for further instructions.” The General says, all professional again. He looks at Nicole through the screen and sees her mind working fast. He directs her attention to her and addresses her. “Captain Haught. You and your unit are not to pursue Whitereef or Eli Abrams. That’s an order.”

 

Nicole remains stoic, but her head and heart are full of anger. “Yes. Sir.”

 

“That will be all.” He responds and the transmission ends.

 

Nicole’s phone buzzes with texts from Liz and Gibbs but she doesn’t read them. It keeps buzzing and she eventually throws her phone onto the table and storms out of the Black Badge office. Waverly, Wynonna and Dolls are standing outside the BBD office (in the hallway), when she exits. They all look up at her expectantly when she emerges. She keeps walking as if they aren’t there. She needs to get out of her. She needs to get out of here before she explodes.

 

“Nic?” Waverly questions.

 

“Haught?” Dolls and Wynonna both pipe up. She still ignores them. They walk behind her, trying to catch up. They are about ten feet behind her when she gets out the front door of the station. She is almost to her truck when Doc appears.

 

“Officer Haught. Is there a problem?” He says, noticing her immediately.

 

She blows past him and now all four of her team members are outside.

 

“Captain Haught!” Dolls calls, obviously over her poor behavior.

 

At the sound of her military title, Nicole loses it. She slams her fist into the driver’s side door of her truck. She yelps in pain but it doesn’t stop her from angrily pulling away he fist, as if she may punch it again. She sees the dent and feels her anger trip up a notch. Fuck! She is out of control. She needs to get her shit together, but her adrenaline and rage isn’t helping. Her heart is beating hard and her chest is heaving. She bends over and places her hand to they are griping the side of her truck. Her head hangs and she spreads her legs, trying to calm down. It’s not working. She doesn’t have control. Waverly moves to try and get to Nicole, but Wynonna grabs her and holds her back with the help of Doc. No one says anything. Wynonna looks over at Dolls who has his classic stoic expression on his face. But even he can’t hide his concern for Nicole. He also can’t hide his slight annoyance at her behavior. But overall, it is concern. Nicole isn’t like this. This isn’t her. Something is seriously wrong.

 

He waits another moment before slowly approaching Nicole’s hunched over figure. She is struggling to breath and Dolls can tell she is in emotional and physical distress. Nicole’s eyes are clamped shut and her whole body is shaking (along with the violent heaving of her chest as she struggles to breath normally). “Haught? You with me?” Dolls asks. Still a few feet away from her.

 

She doesn’t respond, so her tries again. “Nicole.”

 

She still doesn’t respond, but a small whimper comes from her. Her eyes are still clenched shut. Realization dons on him and her now understands a little more. He proceeds with extreme caution. “Nicole.” He talks another step forward. “Haught. I need you to breathe through this. C’mon. We need you to breath.” He talks another step forward and notices how tightly Nicole is gripping the truck. Her skin from her wrist to her fingers is completely white and the rest of her body is starting to turn a little blue. “Haught. You need to breathe and fight through it. You are going to hyperventilate. Nicole stops breathing for a moment, holding her breath as she tries to regain control. She releases the breath and mumbles something. Dolls doesn’t understand it. “What was that Haught? C’mon, speak up.” He prods. Only a step away now.

 

“Help.” Nicole breaths out again. This time, a little clearer.

 

“Okay, Nicole. It’s going to be fine okay.” He says. “I’m gonna come up from behind you. Try not to fight it okay. I know it’s hard, but I need you to do this for me.”

 

“I can’t.”

 

“You have to Nicole. Do it for Waves and Wynonna. Do it for me and Doc and Gus.”

 

Nicole turns her head just the slightest bit and cracks open her eyes as much as she dares. She sees a blurry Wynonna and Doc, holding an equally blurry and terrified Waverly. Waverly isn’t struggling to hard, but still strains to get to Nicole a bit. Nicole chokes and a sob breaks free. Her anger morphing into despair. She drops her head again, shame and sorrow pulling her down. She nods her head where it hags and Dolls takes this as an indicator to proceed. He stands behind her and leans forewords, grasping her wrists and pulling them behind her head. She struggles a little as he raises her up, but seems to have lost all the fight left in her. She looks like she is still in danger of hyperventilation so he pulls her close to his body and lets one hand guide her down to the ground so they are sitting close together with her anchored to him. He nods his head at Wynonna and Doc. The sister slowly approach the still shaking Nicole. They both crouch down near her. They still don’t touch her though, not until she gives a slight bob of her head. Wynonna switches places with Dolls, anchoring Nicole to the ground as Waverly pulls Nicole’s head into the crook of her neck. Nicole is sandwiched between the sisters. She shakes and they both hold her tight. Silent tears fall from her face as she starts to regain control. Nedley is outside now and seems to have witnessed the tail end of the incident. Once Nicole seems a little more put together, Dolls and Doc help Nicole stand up and half carry her into the station. Nedley leads all of them into the west wing of the station that doubles as the sick bay for the Purgatory fire department. There is a pad on the ground that Dolls and Doc lay Nicole down on. Nedley asks for a second with Nicole and the four other people take a few steps back. Nedley lens down and whispers into Nicole’s ear. She nods her head once and then shakes it twice. She says something to him and he nods. He takes her hand in his and gives it a good squeeze before standing up and heading for the door. He stops at Waverly. “Take care of our girl. She will beat herself up over this. She already is. Don’t let her give in to the darkness.”

 

She nods her head and Wynonna does the same when he looks at her as well. He departs the room and Waverly moves to Nicole, carefully pulling her head up so it is in her lap. Wynonna sits at her side, a hand laying on her shoulder. No one speaks though. Aside from Waverly’s soft humming as she runs her fingers through Nicole’s red hair, the room is silent.

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry.” Nicole whispers to no one in particular, but it is loud enough for everyone to hear. “I am sorry I lost it. None of you deserved to see that. I just…” Nicole’s shame covers her face as her voice shakes. “It was unacceptable. And I am so sorry.”

 

Waverly is ready to console Nicole, but Dolls cuts in before she can. He pulls a chair up so he is sitting near Nicole’s feet (so she can see him without straining her neck). “I don’t think I need to lecture you about how inappropriate and irresponsible that is. I think that goes without saying. What I want to know is what caused it.”

 

“I lost it. I can’t tell you details. But what I can tell you is that there was a breach in security and my information may have been leaked (along with my unit files). And the U.S. military will not do anything about Eli or Whitereef. They don’t want to push it. Whitereef is too powerful and has too much muscle in geopolitics. I have direct orders not to engage with any Whitereef operatives or personnel.” Nicole says, small amounts of residual anger showing. Waverly places a soft kiss on Nicole’s forehead and Nicole relaxes the tension in her body.

 

“They aren’t going to do anything!” Wynonna is outraged. “What the fuck?! The guy threatened you and all of us!”

 

Nicole flinches a bit and Dolls sends Wynonna a disapproving look. She looks back done at her hand that is still resting on Nicole’s shoulder.

 

“The military is monitoring the situation, but at this point, they will not take any action. But it doesn’t really matter anyways.” Nicole says coldly.

 

“Why is that Officer Haught?” Doc asks. He is obviously just as confused by Nicole’s indifference as everyone else.

 

“Because. Next time I see Eli Abrams…” Nicole doesn’t even blink. “I’m gonna kill him.” She pauses a moment. “Same goes for any of his goons.”

 

“Captain Haught. You would be disobeying a direct order. You could be court marshalled or worse.”

 

“So what?” Nicole counters.

 

“You will ruin your career.” Dolls says.

 

“Yeah, well it’s a job.” Nicole says noncommittally.

 

“Nicole.”

 

“Dolls this is my family! This is my life!” Nicole sits up quickly (surprising everyone). “The Marines is a job. It is no longer my life. I will not let him hurt my family! I don’t care if I am striped of my rank, I don’t care if I get a big chicken dinner, I don’t care if I get thrown in jail. I. Will. Not. Let. Them. Hurt. My. Family.”

 

Nicole and Dolls stare each other down (now toe to toe with one another). It is not anger between them. It is determination. Like they are having one of their silent conversations. Everyone else in the room are holding their breaths. Waiting for one to budge. After a long moment of silence, Dolls and Nicole both nod their heads in unison. Nedley comes in and gives Nicole a pointed look. He looks at the mat on the floor. “Down. Now.”

 

Nicole looks at his sheepishly. “Yes Sir.”

 

“You should let me bring someone in to check you over Nicole.” Nedley says.

 

“Not my first rodeo Sherriff. I wish I could say this isn’t the first time I have done something stupid like this. My hand isn’t broken.” Nicole flexes and releases her hand. “I’m fine.”

 

Nedley grumbles, but he sends her a reassuring look on his way out.

 

Dolls takes his seat again and asks, “When was the last time?”

 

“Dolls.”

 

“Nicole.”

 

“Eight years ago, give or take.” She responds.

 

“You medicated?” He asks.

 

“No. Never have been. Never will be. I don’t even take Advil when I get headaches.”

 

“Do you need it?” He asks, compassion clear.

 

“No. I am fine. I just…” Nicole thinks for a moment. “Dammit. I need to get the dent popped out of my truck.”

 

Waverly and Wynonna both laugh lightly. “I like your priorities Haughthead.” Wynonna says.

 

“Thanks. I aim to please.” Nicole says self-deprecatingly.

 

As soon as Nicole finishes that statement, Gus walks into the room. Everyone seems surprised to see her, except Nicole. Gus looks down at Nicole and nods her head towards the Nicole. Nicole nods. Nicole stands slowly. Gus turns to Doc and hands him her keys. “Mind walking her out to my truck? I will be there in a second.”

 

“Of course, Ma’am” Doc says with a tip of his hat. He takes Gus’ keys and wraps a protective arm around Nicole. They exit the room and head for the station.

 

Gus turns to Dolls. “How bad?”

 

“Punched a car door. Followed with a panic attack and she is definitely letting some of her PTSD symptoms show. But she seems stable now. Almost back to her old self. But she is hurting. And she is gearing up for a fight.” Dolls says.

 

“Alright. Is she medicated?” Gus asks, not missing a beat.

 

“No. She never has been.” He responds.

 

Gus nods her head, still not looking at her nieces.

 

She turns to leave. “And Mrs. McCready…” dolls says, getting her attention. “Eight years.”

 

Gus’ face falls a little but she still gives a determined nod.

 

“What are you doing here?” Waverly asks.

 

Gus waits a moment before turning to face the girls. “Nicole had Nedley call me. He filled me in on what he saw.” She says before she leaves the room.

 


 

“I would never hurt them Doc. Never.” Nicole says as Doc walks her out to Gus’ truck.

 

“I know. And I know you didn’t punch the truck because you wanted to punch something. I know why you did it.” He responds.

 

“You do?” Nicole asks in disbelief.

 

“I am much more observant than most and I have lived through a lot of angry years. I know you punched the truck so you would feel the pain. So, you could stop the numb feeling from spreading. You were trying to get control back. I used to do something similar back in my day. Although mine also included a lot more whiskey.” Doc says, pulling her a little closer. “The pain brings you back to reality.”

 

“I don’t want Waverly and Wynonna to be afraid of me. I am ashamed they saw that. And I don’t think they will understand.” Nicole says. Lowering her head.

 

“They will. They will if you don’t shut them out. Don’t shut any of us out.” Doc says. “But I do feel mighty proud of you for taking extra precautions. Calling Gus to protect them.”

 

“They are going to hate me. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame them.”

 

“They don’t hate you. They are concerned and they want to help you. They just don’t know how. No one knows how because we can’t. You know that healing comes from within. You are a strong woman and I know you. Take a night. See how you feel.”

 

“Thank you, Doc.”

 

“Not a problem my dear. Plus, this gives us an excuse to start working on fixing up the barn. It will be a good way to release that extra tension.” Doc comments, lightening the mood.

 

“Of course.”

 

Doc opens the passenger side door for Nicole and she hops in. She hands him her cell phone and her COM. He closes the door and send her a smile before walking back towards the station. Gus is walking out, followed by Waverly and Wynonna.

 


 

Dolls hands comes out just as Doc and Gus reach each other. They say a few works to each other and have a couple head nods before Doc hands her the keys back and Gus heads to the truck. Waverly and Wynonna go to follow her, but they are stopped by a look from Doc. Dolls steps forewords and Doc hands him Nicole’s belongings. Dolls nods his head and looks down at Nicole’s phone.

 

Unread messages from Liz Farrell (26)

Missed calls: Liz Farrell (19)

Missed calls: Jake Gibbs (5)

Unread messages from Jake Gibbs (13)

Missed calls: Unknown number (3)

 

“Dammit.” Dolls curses under his breath.

  


 

 

They are all sitting in the Black Badge office. No one is speaking. The silence is tense and Wynonna is the first one to break it. She slams her fists down on the metal table, the sound bounces off the walls. “What the hell is going on?! Why is no one telling us anything?!”

 

Waverly jumps in, “Where is Gus taking Nicole?!”

 

“Both of you, sit. Calm down.” Dolls commands.

 

Doc speaks before Dolls can. “She is going to be fine. She just needs a little break from everything.”

 

“But why is Gus taking her away?!” Waverly asks, her own anger stirring.

 

“Because they both have a vested interest in keeping both of you safe. Nicole and Gus have an agreement and Gus has experience with dealing with this stuff. Nicole is in good hands.” Dolls states.

 

“Ladies, there are some details of this situation that you may not understand.” Doc says. “Please grant us the opportunity to explain them to you.”

 

Both Earp girls reluctantly nod their heads and sit back in their seats.

  


 

 

“I never would hurt them Gus. You know that. But I can’t just stand by and wait for Eli to come after them.” Nicole says. They are almost to Gus’s house.

 

“I know Darlin’. But I am still glad you called me. It means a lot knowing you are willing to take precautions, even if they may not be necessary.” Gus responds. “You are gonna stay at my place tonight and tomorrow night. After that, you can decide if you are ready to go home. It will give you some time to clear your head. It will be good for you. Plus, I’ll even make cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow and you could help me with some of the stuff around the place.”

 

“Thank you, Gus.” Nicole says. “I don’t know how…”

 

“Darlin’ you are planning on marrying my Waverly. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to make sure all of you get there. You deserve to be happy and so does she. I am happy to help in any way I can. Plus, doing this just means I get some help around the property. I miss having people around here. I am happy to have you for as long as you want and need to be here.” Gus pulls the truck up to the house and stops. They both get out. “This house used to be a sanctuary for Waverly and Wynonna. I want you to know it is one for you too.”

 

“Thank you, Gus. And please, put me to work. It helps me work through stuff.” Nicole says gratefully.

Chapter Text

“I need you both to understand something.” Dolls says. “Nicole never wanted this information to come to light. It is incredibly personal. So, what is said in here, stays in here.”

 

“Okay.” Both sisters agree.

 

“Nicole was diagnosed with Delayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) six months after being discharged from the Marines. She started Cognitive-behavioral therapy soon after. She refused medication, but was diligent with her treatment plan. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and was deemed a threat to herself and others. After a year of treatment, Nicole was re-diagnosed with Chronic PTSD, but was no longer deemed suicidal. Through all of this, she continued to go to school and got good grades. She got through it and she did it with no support system behind her. She was basically alone.” Dolls says. He is obviously not envious of Nicole’s previous situation. “I am telling you all of this because I want and need you to understand why what happened today is so important.”

 

“Dolls, we already know all of this. Or at least I do.” Waverly says.

 

“I knew most of it. More or less. She talked to me about it.” Wynonna states, grabbing her sister’s hand and holding it tight.

 

“Good. So that means I shouldn’t have to explain why Nicole losing control (or at least coming close to it) after so long is a big deal? She hasn’t had an incident for over eight years. That is incredible, all considered. But what happened today…” Dolls pauses. “she was close to losing control, just at the thought of someone hurting her family. Of hurting you two.”

 

“Dolls! You aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know.” Wynonna bites out, obviously reaching the end of her rope. “I just watched Nicole Haught (the queen of keeping her cool), break down in front of me. I just watched my best friend and future sister-in-law fall apart. I know what PTSD is! Hell! Waverly and I lived it! So stop telling me stuff I already know and start telling me what we can do to help her!”

 

“Give her space. She needs space to clear her head. She wouldn’t forgive herself if she hurt you.” Dolls says.

 

“She won’t hurt me!” Both sisters shout in unison. They don’t even blink.

 

“I don’t believe Nicole would. But PTSD can change a person. Even for just a moment. Nicole is lethal and she has the capability to do severe damage. Hell! Look at what happened to her truck.” Dolls counters.

 

Both sisters go to argue, but are cut off by Doc.

 

“Deputy Marshall. I do agree that Ms. Haught is a woman of lethal skill. But the strike to her truck is not what you think.” Doc says calmly. “She felt herself losing control and in a last-ditch effort to regain it, she inflicted sharp pain. The pain shocks her body into focusing on the injury. It is a method of bringing oneself back to reality. It is a method that is frowned upon, but it helps many people with extreme… issues.” He removes his hat and directs his attention to the women. “It was not an act of anger. It was an act of desperation. And it is a method that I myself have taken part in during certain points in my long life. She should not be labeled or deemed unstable, simply based on a single moment of weakness. She is not a threat to any of us or anyone else for that matter.”

 

“Except Eli Abrams…” Wynonna comments.

 

Waverly sends her a look, but does not comment. She looks at Doc and gives him a grateful look.

 

“Either way, she needs space to work things out. None of you are to go near Haught.” Dolls says.

 

“Why are you being like this?!” Wynonna snaps at him.

 

“Wynonna! I promised her I would protect you! I need to protect you and protect her! None of us know what is going on in her head. None of us have seen what she has. She feels responsible for all of this! I can’t imagine the pain she is in or what she is feeling! If the way I handle this doesn’t please you, tough shit! I will do what has to be done! She is my friend too! I care about her too!” Dolls shouts.

 

Everyone is silent. No one knows what to say. Dolls releases a long breath.

 

“I care about her too. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I do. She had Nedley call Gus because she felt she needs to protect all of us from herself. I am just doing my best to honor her wishes.” Dolls says softly.

 

“I know you care about her Dolls.” Waverly says. “And she knows it to. The feeling is very mutual.”

 

“I’m sorry, I know you do.” Wynonna adds.

 

They all stay silent for several minutes before all their phones chime. They all have a text message from Gus saying they are safe and Nicole is asleep. Waverly feels her phone vibrate again with another text from Gus. But this one was only sent to her.

 

She says she loves you.

 


 

“I need a drink.” Waverly says. Walking into the living room of the Homestead.

 

“Same.” Wynonna agrees.

 

Waverly sits down on the couch with her sister. “Did you see the way she looked at us. Her eyes. They were…”

 

“She felt shame Waves. Although none of us blame her, she still blames herself.”

 

“She looked broken Nonna. I have never seen her look like that.” Waverly leans into her sister.

 

“I know. I saw it too. I remember when I felt that way.” Wynonna admits.

 

“How did you get passed it?” Waverly asks.

 

“It’s different Wave. I had you, but I was far away and I didn’t have to worry about hurting you further.” Wynonna sad sorrowfully.

 

“And Nicole?” Waverly wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer.

 

“She has something to lose if she fails. She has everything to lose if she can’t move on.”

 

“You think she can?”

 

“Yes. I think the better question is if she thinks she can. She looked defeated today. We need to give her some time to lick her wounds, but come tomorrow, the fight begins.” Wynonna states.

 

“I really want a drink.” Waverly says as she eyes a bottle of whiskey that sits on the table.

 

“Yeah, me too.” Wynonna agrees again.

 

Without another word, both girls rise and go to bed. Whiskey bottle still on the table. 

 


 

 

“Morning Gus.” Nicole says as she descends the stairs of Gus’s house.

 

“Morning Darlin’.” Gus responds, handing a cup of coffee to Nicole. “How ya feeling?”

 

“I feel like am asshole and I feel ashamed. But better than I did yesterday… I think.” Nicole takes a sip of her coffee.

 

“Yeah, well that is probably to be expected.” Gus remarks.

 

“So, what do you have for me to do? I want to earn my keep around here.” Nicole says, steering away from the bad stuff for now.

 

“Well, I was thinking you could help me with a couple chores to start off. I gotta walk the dog and give him a bath. And then I gotta go over to Shorty’s for a bit. Figure I can find something for you to do while I am gone.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

Gus finishes her coffee and grabs a leash from the basket by the door. Gus whistles and Buddy comes running over to her. Buddy is a black lab that Waverly got Gus last year. Now two years old, Buddy has become a big dog. Gus has had a rough time trying to train him unfortunately. She isn’t home much in the day time and he isn’t trained well enough to take with her places. He tries to jump up on her, but is stopped my Nicole’s hands pulling him into a hug, holding him to the ground. Gus gets the leash on his collar and holds it out to Nicole. “I’m too old and tired to fight him pulling me. Make yourself useful.”

 

Nicole laughs and takes the leash. Gus opens the back door and Buddy dashes out the door, pulling Nicole along with him. She pulls him back after a few stumbling steps and gets him under control. She didn’t have dogs growing up, but she still feels a small comfort in the rambunctious animal. She and Gus walk through the backyard and head towards the trails that run through the woods. They walk for five minutes in silence before Gus breaks the silence.

 

“I’m not one to beat around the bush, Nicole. You want to talk about what is troubling you?” Gus says.

 

“Gus, have you ever killed someone?” Nicole asks. If the question startles Gus, she doesn’t let it show as she shakes her head no. “I have. I have as a cop and I have as a soldier. Nedley like to say it is important that it still affects me. Because the day it stops turning your stomach, that’s the day you need to turn in your badge and gun.” Nicole pauses and takes a few deep breaths. “Scary part is… I think I could kill Eli Abrams and sleep like a baby that night knowing he is gone.”

 

“It is not the same Nicole.” Gus says. “He is threatening your family. He is threatening the woman you love.”

 

“Gus, I will kill him if he comes after any of you. I know you all can take care of yourselves…”

 

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me Nicole. I would be the same way if I was in your shoes.” Gus says. Hoping to calm some of the redhead’s anxiety.

 

“I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore. I feel like every time he shows up, a part of me is being chipped away. Every time I hear his name, another piece is chipped. It just keeps chipping and chipping and chipping away until I’m raw. Until there is nothing left. And now he knows how to hurt me. He knows all he has to do is hurt any of you. Hurt Waves. He knows that is the only thing that could truly destroy me.”

 

“You have something to lose.” Gus summarizes. “And it scares you.”

 

“It does.” Nicole admits. “It also scares me that I could destroy everything all on my own.”

 

“You are being too hard on yourself.” Gus says sternly. “There are a lot of things you can beat yourself up about, but you don’t have to worry about destroying this family. We are strong and resilient. Just like you.”

 

“I don’t feel strong Gus. I feel weak and I hate feeling this way. I feel weak, but I feel like I could demolish a tank.”

 

“Nicole, can I be honest with you?”

 

“Of course. Please.”

 

“When Nedley called me yesterday and told me what happened, I was scared out of my mind. I was scared for my girls, but also for you. I was there those nights in Shorty’s. The nights where you would drink at the bar alone. You would sit in the corner, in plain clothes and drink by yourself. The look in your eyes. I saw the pain. I don’t understand it, because I haven’t experienced it, but I see it. You stopped once you met Waverly. I noticed I didn’t see you like that again. Then you showed up again last year, a few weeks after we all learned of your time in the service. My heart broke when you walked in the door. I saw that empty look in your eyes once again.”

 

Nicole thinks about that day. The day Eli lured her out and the day Nicole shot her sniper rifle at melons she imagined they were Eli’s head. She waited for Waverly to go to sleep before she left and ended up at Shorty’s.

 

“Gus…” Nicole feels tears in her eyes. She stops walking and looks out at the nature that surrounds them. “He really fucked me up. My life before I got here and all my shitty choices really fucked me up.” She takes a deep breath, trying to control her emotions. “I don’t know who I am. Am I a soldier? Or a cop? Or an agent? A friend? A daughter? A sister? A girlfriend? A fiancé...”

 

“You are a human being Nicole. You are not a label or a category. You are not perfect, none of us are. You fuck up and make mistakes, but you learn from it and move on. You love with all your heart and protect what you care about. You spread your compassion to strangers and make this town proud to call you once of our own. You are good to Waverly and you may be the best thing to happen to Wynonna in years. You love them and all of us. That’s all you can hope for.”

 

They start to walk again as if nothing was ever said. They do the rest of the walk in a comfortable silence. Gus complains about Buddy and his pulling. Nicole offers to take a crack at training him. Gus accepts her offer and heads to the bar, leaving Nicole with Buddy.

Chapter Text

Nicole spends the better part of the rest of the day, learning how to train Buddy. She utilizes over twenty YouTube video and several informative websites along the way. It is slow at first, but Buddy is not stupid. He is a furry ball of energy, but he is also intelligent. After four hours of practice, Nicole has got Buddy sitting on command, using treats as rewards. Gus returns home and is impressed with her progress.

 

“Wow Nicole.” Gus says, looking down at Buddy who remains in a sitting position at Nicole’s side. “And that is only after a couple hours.”

 

“Yeah, he is a good boy.” Nicole says, reaching down to scratch the top of buddy’s head. “I had to look up a lot of stuff. But he has sit down pretty good and we are still working on lying down.”

 

“Good. You hungry? I got you a burger from Shorty’s.” Gus says, walking back towards the house.

 

“Starving. Thanks.” Nicole responds with a smile. They walk towards the house and heads to the kitchen.

 


 

Waverly comes down the stairs and starts the coffee machine. She opens up a cabinet to grab a mug and slams it shut hard. She moves around the kitchen, not even trying to be quiet. The sound is so loud, it wakes Wynonna up. The elder Earp stumbles into the kitchen and leans on the wall. "Wave. Are you trying to wake up the whole town?"

 

“It is eleven am Wynonna. You need to get up.” Waverly bites out.

 

“Wave? You okay?” Wynonna asks cautiously.

 

“No, no I am not okay. I am pissed. I am angry. I woke up alone in my bed this morning. I am engaged to be married to the most amazing woman in the world, yet I am still waking up alone!”

 

Wynonna takes a slow step back and raises both her hands in surrender. “Oh-kay…”

 

“Sorry.” Waverly says, looking at the coffee machine. “Yesterday was just a lot and I miss her.”

 

“I know. It’s okay.” Wynonna says reassuringly, finally stepping forward enough to bring her sister into a short hug. “So, have you heard from her?”

 

“Dolls has her phone. And Gus wouldn’t answer when I called a few minutes ago. She is scheduled to be at Shorty’s today for a couple hours. I think I might head in to town and try and talk to her.” Waverly says, annoyance creeping into her tone.

 

“Good luck with that.” Wynonna says.

 


 

“Gus.” Waverly says, walking into Shorty’s later.

 

“Good day Darling. What can I get you?” Gus responds, her eyes squinting in suspicion.

 

“A side of french-fries and an update on how Nicole is doing.” Waverly says without missing a beat.

 

“The fries, I can do.” Gus says, calling the order back.

 

“Gus.”

 

“Waverly.”

 

“Please.” Waverly begs.

 

“Nicole is fine. She is working through some stuff. But she is fighting. That’s all I can say.”

 

“Gus. She is my fiancé. I have a right to see her. Nicole won’t hurt me.”

 

“I don’t believe she would purposefully hurt you. I really don’t. Nicole is not a violent person.” Gus states.

 

“They why the hell is everyone blocking me from seeing her?!”

 

“Because we all made promises to each other. Darling, we all want to protect you.”

 

“I don’t need protection from my fiancé.”

 

“Will you stop throwing that word around like it means something!” A voice shouts from across the mostly empty bar. Waverly’s head snaps in the direction of the voice and her eyes land on Champ. He is glaring at her from his position at the pool table a few feet away.

 

“What did you just say?”

 

“Marriage is between a man and a woman Waverly.” Champ spits out as he takes another drink from his beer. “You and that dyke… it’s disgusting.”

 

“Hardy, you better get out of my bar before I have Doc toss you out on your ass.” Gus says through gritted teeth. Her anger on full display.

 

“It’s fucking science! Gays can’t have kids! And the whole point of getting married is to have kids and shit. You know, keep making more people and shit.” Champ slurs. “You and her together is unnatural.”

 

“Champ, you are such a fucking imbecile! It’s called procreation you moron. And, if marriage is all about procreation, then we shouldn’t let sterile people get married. Or people who are above 50 years of age. They can’t have kids either, right?” Waverly snaps back angrily. “So fuck off Champ. No one wants to hear you homophobic, ignorant, drunk slurring.”  

 

Champ is about to fire something back, but thinks better of it when Waverly starts to advance on him (pool cue in hand). He stubbles a bit but leaves Shorty’s. Waverly turn back to Gus, face still red with anger. “I want to see her Gus.”

 

“Nicole is not accepting visitors at this time.” Gus says, failing to hide her sympathy.

 

“Just let me talk to her, please.”

 

“Waverly, no.” Gus says. She walks around the bar with a to-go box in her hand. She kisses Waverly on the cheek and heads out to her truck.

 


 

Gus’s phone vibrates for the third time in the last twenty minutes. Nicole looks at the phone as Gus hits the ignore button and silences the vibration.

 

“It’s Waverly, isn’t it?” Nicole asks, staring at the phone.

 

“The other times, yes. But that last one was Wynonna.” Gus says.

 

“She angry with me? I don’t blame her for being angry with me.”

 

“She is not angry with you. They just want you back home with them. Waverly had a little run in with Champ earlier today. Probably a little upset about it still.” Gus comments.

 

Nicole’s face hardens as Gus tells her what had happened at Shorty’s a couple hours ago.

 

“Sometimes, I just want to punch him.” Nicole comments.

 

“Didn’t you already do that? The night of Bobo’s party?” Gus asks.

 

“It was more of a clothesline. But yeah, I guess.” Nicole admits, looking down at her knuckles, trying to stop the urge to start throwing haymakers at Champs face. “I hate myself for not being there for her. I want to be. And I feel like I can be. But I promised you I would stay here tonight and I think it is a good idea.”

 

“It definitely gives me some piece of mind knowing you feel better and are still deciding to stay the night. It shows how much you care.” Gus says, looking out the window and then at Nicole. Nicole is about to give a response, but is stopped when another call comes in on Gus’s phone. Gus silences the call and looks at Nicole. “Waverly… again.” 

 

Chapter Text

What Champ said shouldn’t be bothering her, but it is. It is bothering her so much that when she got home that night, she told Wynonna. She only put in some effort holding Wynonna back for leaving the Homestead and seeking out Champ.

 

“I’m going to shoot his balls off! Then I would like to hear him talk about procreation!” She shouts.

 

“No, you will not. It won’t help anything.” Waverly replies. A tear falls from her eye and Wynonna’s face turns from fury to concern.

 

“Babygirl?”

 

“I know it is stupid.” More tears start to fall. “I know it is. But Champ put thoughts in my head and they hurt. I can’t stop thinking about it.” Waverly is full on crying now.

 

Wynonna pulls her into a hug. “Are you saying you are having second thoughts about marrying Nicole?”

 

Waverly audibly gasps, “No! No. I want her in my life. More than anything. I love her. But he made me doubt what I envision as our future. Lik-Like, what if she doesn’t want kids now, or wants to move away from Purgatory, or-or…”

 

“Shhhh, shhhh. It’s okay Waves, just breathe. It is okay.” Wynonna sooths, holding her sister tight to her chest.

 

“I need her Wynonna. I can’t do this without her. I need her to get better. I need her in my life. I don’t know how to be happy without her now. I don’t know how to have a future without her now. I need her to get past this. I can’t let her give up on herself-f, or us.” Waverly is sobbing and can’t seem to control her breathing.

 

Wynonna realizes this has little to do with what champ said. Waverly is afraid that Nicole is pulling away and isn’t coming back. Wynonna can’t say she doesn’t have the same fear. But it is different for Waves. Nicole is her person, the only person that truly sees Waverly for who she really is. Wynonna doesn’t know what to do. She can’t imagine being in Waverly’s shoes. “Waves, you got to breathe for me Babygirl.” Wynonna pleads.

 

“I-I don’t…” Waverly tries to take a deep breath but comes up short, coughing.

 

Wynonna can’t just stand here and watch this. She grabs her coat and leads Waverly out to Waverly’s jeep, helping her in to the passenger seat. She starts the ignition and closes the door, running back into the house. She grabs her phone and sends a text to Gus.

 

BigEarp: I am bringing Waves over to see Nicole. She is having a full-blown panic attack and You know Nicole is the only one who will get her to calm down. I can’t just watch her fall apart Gus. We will be there in fifteen minutes.

 

Watchdog: I am not sure Nicole is ready. If she isn’t, I can’t let you in.

 

BigEarp: Then tell her we are coming Gus! She better be ready by the time we get there!

 

Watchdog: See you in fifteen minutes.

 

Wynonna pockets her phone and runs out to the warmed-up Jeep. She peels out of the driveway and races towards Gus’s house. Ten minutes into the drive, Waverly seems to stop the loud sobbing, but her body shakes violently and her pupils are blown. Her whimpers fill the silent car and Wynonna can feel her heart breaking at the sound. She tries to reach for her sister, but Waverly shudders away from her, never looking away from her feet that are tucked up into her. She is sitting on the seat in the fetal position, unable or unwilling to remove her eyes from her feet. Wynonna presses down on the pedal a little harder and the Jeep picks up speed. They arrive at Gus’s house just as the sun is about to set. Gus opens the front door as they pull up. She steps out the front door, closing it behind her, and walks to the Jeep.

 

Wynonna shuts the Jeep off and runs around to the other side, opening Waverly’s door. She goes to pull Waverly out but Waverly shudders away from her touch, whimpers intensifying. Wynonna tries to not feel hurt by the action, shaking it off and closing the door lightly. She walks a few steps and meets with Gus. “Where is Haught?”

 

“She is inside. She doesn't know you are here yet. What is going on?” Gus asks, her concern for the redhead and her niece waring just behind her eyes.

 

Wynonna quickly tells Gus the events of the last couple days and explains how Waverly came home, only to fall apart. Gus’s face darkens as she listens to Wynonna explain. Once Wynonna finishes, Gus takes a deep breath and peers over at the Jeep (where she can just make out the balled-up form in the passenger seat. She looks at Wynonna who is in utter panic. “Come with me.” Gus says, leading Wynonna to the house. They enter and Gus tells Wynonna to sit on the couch. She does and Gus goes upstairs. After a minute of soft mumbling from upstairs, Wynonna hears someone run down the stairs and yank the front door open. Nicole Wynonna thinks. Gus rejoins her in the living room and they both sit on the couch. After a moment, Buddy jumps on to the couch and lays his head in Gus’s lap. Wynonna looks down at him in surprise. Gus just shrugs, holding up the remote and turning on the TV.

 


 

Nicole runs down the stairs and out the front door. She only slows down as she reaches the red Jeep. She slowly opens the door and looks at Waverly. She is still curled up in the fetal position, eyes closed, shaking, and whimpering. Nicole’s heart breaks in half at the sight. She slowly moves into the car, concerned Waverly still hasn’t opened her eyes. Nicole moves so her knees are up against the car and she is as close to Waverly as the vehicle will allow. She stands there a moment longer before she speaks. Waves? Baby?” Nicole says, tone soft and soothing. Waverly’s body still trembles, but her body seems to relax the slightest bit. She whimpers again and Nicole can’t take it anymore. She reaches into the SUV and pulls Waverly to her. Waverly clutches to Nicole’s chest as she begins to cry again. “Shhhh. It’s okay. It’s okay. I got you. It’s okay. I am not going anywhere. We are okay.” Nicole sooths. Waverly has Nicole’s shirt clutched in her shaking hands as she buries her face in Nicole’s warmth. After a few minutes, Nicole pulls Waverly over her arms and picks her up and out of the Jeep (hip checking it closed.) Her hand and wrist complain at the weight they are holding, but Nicole doesn’t care. She carries Waverly inside and up the stairs. She carries her to Waverly’s old room and lays Waverly down on the bed. She had been laying in it a few minutes ago (before Gus had told her Waverly was having a panic attack in the driveway), so it is still a little warm. As gently as possible, Nicole puts Waverly on the bed and pulls the covers up to her chin. She then rounds the bed and climbs in herself. Waverly immediately pulls herself into Nicole and curls up into the redhead’s body. Knowing Waverly is trying to get as much physical contact as possible, Nicole slings a leg over Waverly’s body and wraps her arms around the smaller brunette. Waverly begins to sob hard again. Her cries and shaking rattle Nicole to her core. This is my fault. She thinks. This pain that Waverly is feeling is all my fault. She pulls Waverly impossibly closer and whispers into her hair. “I am so sorry baby. I am so sorry.” Her own tears silently fall.

 

It takes Waverly an hour to stop the tears and the shaking. Nicole isn’t sure if she actually falls asleep, or if she just passes out. But it doesn’t really matter anymore. At least Waverly’s breathing is back to normal, she isn’t shaking, and her tears have stopped. After that, Nicole’s guilt hits her at full force. She feels sick and wants nothing more than to jump out of the second story window of the room, just to escape the feeling. She moves the slightest bit, just to reposition, but is stopped by the sound of Waverly whimpering in her sleep and her tightening her grip into Nicole. Nicole battles in her head for hours. Eventually she falls asleep, the guilt too much to process at the moment.

 


 

 

She wakes up in a slightly different position than she remembers falling asleep in. Waverly is still pressed up against her, but now… Nicole is on her back and Waverly is completely on top of her… completely naked. Nicole peers under the covers and confirms her suspicion that Waverly is, in fact, naked. The movement makes Waverly stir a bit and she sleepily mumbles, “Cold. Needed you. Personal space heater.” Nicole chuckles a little, still unsure of the mood of the room. She turns her head and looks at the clock on the bedside table. 11:35pm. Dammit. They had slept through the evening. Nicole moves to grab something from the table, but is stopped by Waverly’s voice. “Only movement you should be doing should involve you taking your clothes off. I am still cold. I will be mildly offended if you completely ignore your naked fiancé laying on top of you.” She says, eyes still closed and voice still half asleep.

 

Nicole doesn’t know what to say. She just lays there, wide-eyed, looking down at the brunette laying on top of her. It takes her a minute to get her brain working again and she snaps back to coherent thought. She slowly leans up and lets Waverly slide off of her and onto the side. She removes her shirt with ease and takes her sweatpants off soon after. Now completely bare, she lays back down on the bed. It is not even a half a second before Waverly is back on top of her and asleep once again. She mumbles happily at the warmth of their bodies as she falls deeper into sleep. Nicole holds her close and falls asleep herself.

 


 

Nicole is woken up again at six am by the sound of the alarm clock. She pushes the stop button and relaxes back into the bed. Waverly is still laying mostly on top of her and has her face pressed firmly into Nicole’s chest. She kisses the top of Waverly’s head and carefully flips the smaller brunette so she is on her back. Nicole gets out of bed and gets dressed. She struggles because of her very sore and very bruised hand and wrist. She pulls her hair into a braid and kisses Waverly on the head once more before heading downstairs. She grabs Buddy’s leash and connects it, leading the dog out the back door. Gus meets her outside a minute or so later, an icepack and a cup of coffee in her hands. She trades the items for the leash and they head for their walk.

 

“How are you doing?” Gus asks.

 

“I’m fine. But, shouldn’t you be asking about Waverly?” Nicole says, holding the icepack to her knuckles, wincing.

 

“Both my girls are strong women Nicole. They always bounce back. We are here to talk about you. That is the whole point of you being here.” Gus responds. She tugs Buddy’s leash when he begins to try and pull her. “And don’t think we all haven’t noticed your careful word choice. When we ask if you are okay, you respond that you are fine. Just because you aren’t lying doesn’t mean you are being completely honest. Fine is not being okay.”

 

“Well, I am not okay Gus, or at least, not completely. I caused what happened last night. That was my fault. I am hurting her Gus. I am and it is killing me.” Nicole says honestly.

 

“That guilt will eat you alive if you let it.” Gus comments.

 

“I don’t know how to stop it. I feel guilty, I am guilty. I feel guilty about so much and it is drowning me.”

 

“Do you feel guilty that you want her here with you? Do you feel guilty that you feel better with her by your side?” Gus asks, surprising Nicole.

 

“Yes.” Nicole responds after a moment of reflection. “I feel better waking up with her next to me and I know that makes me selfish. But it is the truth.”

 

“Well she told Wynonna the same thing the other night when she had to go to sleep alone. So, don’t beat yourself up. Obviously, you two are better together. You seem to have become codependent with each other.”

 

“Gus, what do I do?” Nicole asks, sounding defeated.

 

“You love her in the best way you can. You don’t give up on yourself. You recover and move on. And I think we have learned something from this experience… don’t try and shut her out. It seems to do more damage than good.” Gus says.

 

“It is hard for me to let people in. Especially people I care about. Still trying to learn how.” Nicole says sheepishly.

 

“Then that is something we can work on.” Gus says. “I know you used to write in journals a lot, right?” Nicole nods. “Well, if you are okay with it, maybe you could start sharing some of the stuff you wrote about. Start out slow. Like one entry every day.” Nicole nods her head slowly, mulling it over. “It may help you more than you think.”

 

Nicole stops walking and looks at the house that is now in view. Wynonna and Waverly are drinking coffee on the deck. They are talking animatedly about something that makes them both smile. The scene makes Nicole smile as well. Gus notices. Nicole clears her throat but doesn’t take her eyes away from the house. “I think I could try that. It's not like I can fuck all this up any more than I already have.” Nicole says, self-deprecation clear in her voice.  

 

Gus places a hand on her shoulder, giving it a tight squeeze. “You can do this. If not for yourself, for Waverly. For both of them. For all of us.”

 

“No pressure.” Nicole says with a small chuckle.

 

“None at all.” Gus says sarcastically, chuckling a little herself.

Chapter Text

“You doing okay?” Wynonna asks her sister as she walks out onto the deck.

 

“Good morning.” Waverly responds from her spot on the deck railing. “And yeah. I am. I am a lot better than yesterday.”

 

“Good.” Wynonna responds, taking a sip of her coffee. “So, are they still on their walk with Buddy?”

 

“I assume so, that is what Gus’s note said they were doing.” Waverly responds. She takes a sip of her own coffee.

 

“Yeah, Gus told me Nicole has started helping her train Buddy. We talked about it last night while you slept. We talked about a lot of things actually.” Wynonna says.

 

“That’s good. Anything I need to know?” Waverly asks.

 

“No, it was mostly stuff about me. She didn’t feel comfortable talking about Nicole much without her being there.” Wynonna comments. She looks out at the tree line a quarter mile away. “I think she wants us all to talk together later.”

 

“Okay. Do you think we should call Doc and Dolls for this little chat?”

 

“No, Gus said they were both over here yesterday and Nicole already spoke with them.”

 

“Wait, Gus let them come over? But didn’t let us?” Waverly asks, trying to hide her offence at the thought.

 

“I guess. I guess it is different. Because they both have different relationships with her. Like I don’t get it, but her and Dolls have this unspoken understanding. I am pretty sure they have their own silent language that only they know. I swear, it is kinda weird. And Doc has had hard times too, so I think they can relate to each other with that. They seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s silent company.” Wynonna says, deep in thought.

 

“And her relationship with us?” Waverly asks, surprised by her sister’s observance.

 

“Well she is in love with you. It is gross how in love with you she is. Like I swear I can see the heart eyes popping out of her head when she looks at you.” This earns a giggle from Waverly. “And for me… She is the only real friend I have ever had in my life. She is the only friend who wasn’t forced into my life because of the curse. She means a lot to me. And I think I am finally starting to get over the fact that my best friend (who thinks my ass is top shelf, by the way) is banging my baby sister.”

 

Waverly can’t contain the small giggles and the wide smile that spreads on her face. Both Earp sisters look out at the tree line, just in time to see Nicole, Gus and Buddy emerge. Nicole is smiling and the sight makes Waverly’s heart soar. “She is going to be okay, right?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. As long as she keeps fighting, she can do this. Her toughest enemy will always be herself.” Wynonna says, knowing from personal experience. She drowns her sorrows in the whiskey bottle. She hopes the same does not come of her friend.

  


 

 

They are all sitting on the deck, silent. Wynonna is sitting on the railing, one leg hanging over the side. Gus is in a chair facing the house. Nicole is sitting in a chair opposite of her, Waverly slouched in her lap. For what feels like hours, they all remain silent. Finally, Gus breaks the silence.

 

“So, we should discuss some things.”

 

Everyone looks at Nicole, who seems to be deep in thought. Wynonna clears her throat and Nicole focuses back on them. “Um, yeah. There are definitely things that we need to talk about.” She looks at Gus, not really sure where to start.

 

The older woman takes pity on the redhead. “Well, maybe we should start with some ground rules. Nicole and I have discussed some and we would like to share some with you and add any you think are prudent. For example: This house is a safe space. If someone needs to get away from everything, they can come here and have said space without being ambushed.” Gus sends a pointed look at both of her girls.

 

Nicole speaks up next. “Gus and I have a deal: Once a day, every day, I am going to share a journal entry from my past or present. It will be a means of reflection and a way of helping me learn to open up. You two are more than welcome to join us, but you can’t go back and forth. You either have to be all in or not at all. I think that is the only way I can do this. It is a commitment and I completely understand if you don’t want to get involved.” Nicole says honestly.

 

“Another rule…” Gus adds. “Nicole is not allowed to shut us out anymore, even if she thinks the information may hurt us. Obviously, keeping things from each other only causes more hurt.”

 

“Also…” Nicole hesitates, but then straitens and firmly continues, ”If I lose control, or fall off the wagon, or anything like that, I have already signed the papers authorizing Gus to institutionalize me. If something happens, Gus and Dolls both have the power to commit me if necessary.”

 

Both women pause and let the information sink in. It takes a moment, but then Wynonna is on her feet. She is angry. She is angry at Gus.

 

“You can’t lock her up Gus! You know what happened to me! You can’t do this! Not again!” Wynonna sounds off.

 

Before Gus can respond, Nicole comes to her defense. “Wyn, this isn’t Gus’s call. It wasn’t even her idea. It is mine.”

 

Wynonna turns to her friend and looks shocked and looks to be in utter disbelief. “What?!”

 

“Wynonna, I am lethal. I could hurt someone if I truly lost control. I cant have that happening.”

 

“Nicole, you don’t get it. Those places… they…” Wynonna starts, the panic evident.

 

“They are horrible, I know. But they are also necessary in certain situations. If all goes to hell, Gus or Dolls will have me committed to a mental health facility in Calgary. I will be there until I can be transported to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.” Nicole says.

 

“Why get transferred to a hospital in the US and why are we excluded from this? Why Gus and Dolls?” Waverly says, beginning to panic.

 

Nicole puts a hand on Waverly’s, giving it a strong squeeze. “I am a former patient of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital. They are… well acquainted with me and my… issues. It is where I got treatment after being discharged from the Marines. They know me there and they are well equipped to handle me. And you and Wynonna are not added to the list simply because I didn’t want to burden you with that responsibility. I know neither of you ever would do it.” She turns to look at Wynonna. “Based on your reaction just now and your personal experience.” She turns back to Waverly. “Based off the fact that you would never stop trying to help me, even if it cost you everything.” Nicole takes a deep breath. “Gus and Dolls both have vested interest in this. They won’t hesitate if it is necessary. Gus’s first priority is protecting both of you. Even if she has to protect you from me. And Dolls, well that is a whole other story. But he won’t hesitate either.”

 

The air is silent, everyone trying to wrap their heads around the new information. Waverly grips onto Nicole’s hand tightly and pulls herself into her fiancé closer. “I love you. And I am not going to let that happen.” She whispers.

 

“I love you too.” Nicole responds, kissing Waverly on the cheek.

 

“Okay, so is there anything you girls want to add?” Gus asks the Earp sisters.

 

“I can’t think of anything at the moment. I am far too sober and it is eleven am.” Wynonna says.

 

“I am in. All in. I will be here for you, now and forever.” Waverly says with an unwavering firmness.

 

“Same here.” Her sisters add.

 

“Great, then it’s settled. We can discuss it more later, but for now, I am going to start making breakfast.” Gus says, standing from her seat.

 

“I will come in and help in a second Gus.” Nicole says.

 

“Okay Darlin’, take your time.” Gus says and she and Wynonna walk inside, giving the couple a moment of privacy.

 

“I love you.” Nicole says.

 

“I know. I love you too.” Waverly responds. “But, if this is too much for you… I don’t have to be apart of this. I would like to, but I want to do what will make you most comfortable.”

 

“Waves, I want you here, of course I want you here. Part of me, a small part, just fears you won't want to be with me after you hear all of it.” Nicole says honestly. “But I want you here. I want you here as long as you want to be here.”

 

“Now and forever Nicole. I am all in.”

 

“So am I.” Nicole responds with a small smile.

 

Waverly looks down at the redhead’s beautiful smile and stares at her lips. It had been so long. “When was the last time we really kissed? It feels like forever.”

 

“The barn, the day Eli showed up. We got interrupted by Wynonna.” Nicole says with a chuckle. “Do you want me to kiss you now?”

 

“Yes, yes I do. But the real question is: do you want to kiss me.” Waverly responds.

 

“I always do.” Nicole responds. “I love you Waverly Earp.”

 

“I love you too Nicole Haught.”

 

They kiss. It is slow and starts out innocent enough. Both of them slightly tentative as to not scare the other off. As moments pass, the kiss grows deeper as their mouths begin to meld. They are lost in each other and don’t give a fuck about anything else at the moment. Just them. They are forced to break their kiss when Buddy nudges Nicole with his snout. They both laugh, blushing and wiping away the light tears falling on both of their faces.

 

“Dude. It is bad enough Wynonna is the ultimate cockblock, not you too. I thought we were friends?” Nicole pleads sarcastically. Buddy barks in response, causing both girls to laugh even harder.

 

“Hey, just curious. Is there a lesbian equivalent for cockblock?” Waverly asks.

 

“Um…” Nicole thinks for a moment. “I have heard a few, but none were very good. Clam jam? Bush whack? Clitorference? Taco blocko?”

 

“Oh god, please never say any of those… ever.”

 

Nicole laughs so hard her stomach hurts. “Alright, let’s get inside and help with breakfast. I’m starving.” Nicole leans down and kisses Waverly once more before entering the house.

 

 

Chapter Text

2 weeks later…

 

“Stupid Revenant!” Wynonna shouts.

 

“Shut up and run Earp! I don’t plan on dying today!” Nicole shouts from a few feet ahead. She turns her head around to see Wynonna struggling to keep running. She isn’t all that surprised. They have been sprinting for over eight miles now. Nicole has to admit, even she is starting to feel the fatigue in her lungs and in her muscles.

 

“Nicole, I don’t know how much farther I can go?” Wynonna says, struggling to breathe.

 

“It’s okay Wyn. It’s okay.” Nicole says, stopping to pick Wynonna up. Wynonna has her legs locked around Nicole’s waist, arms around her neck and her chest pressed to Nicole’s back. They make it another quarter mile before Nicole’s body gives out. They fall to the ground face first. Wynonna is on top of Nicole, pushing her deeper in the dirt. She gets off and flips Nicole so she is on her back. Nicole takes a few deep breaths before crawling to her feet. She gets Wynonna up and they hobble as far as they can. They make it to a cliff, but the Revenant and his human companion are there too. The human and the Revenant kick both women until they are slumped on the ground. Both are still breathing, but knocked out cold.

 

 

“Why the hell would she leave peacemaker with us?!” Waverly yells in frustration, holding the revolver in her free hand and the shotgun in the other. “And why did we allow them to go in alone?!”

 

“It was the best plan we had Earp. We needed to save the hostage. We didn’t know the hostage was actually there willingly and is actually partnering up with the Revenant.” Dolls says.

 

“Where are they?” Doc asks Dolls, signaling to the phone in his hands.

 

Dolls looks down at the device and turns on to another dirt road through the trees. “Haught’s tracker is still active and so is Wynonna’s. They are together. We are almost there. They should be just over this ridge.” He floors the SUV and turns into a clearing near a cliff. They see Wynonna instantly. She is standing, the human man has a gun pointed at her head. She looks a bit dazed, but besides that, she seems okay. The three jump out of the vehicle, guns drawn.

 

“Release my deputy right now. We might not be able to kill the Revenant, but we sure as hell can kill you!” Dolls commands.

 

“True, you can kill me. But then you would be killing her too.” The human man (TG) says. He points to the edge of the cliff. With lightning quick speed, the revenant appears. He is standing up straight, an arm outstretched over the cliff… holding Nicole over the cliff by her neck. Waverly gasps, moving her gun slightly.

 

Nicole is struggling against his grip; her airway is being blocked. “Here is the deal. You are going to give me Peacemaker and I will give you either the redhead or the Heir. Your choice.” TG says.

 

“Don’t!” Nicole yells, but the Revenant squeezes tighter on her neck, causing her to be cut off and create a horrible gargling noise.

 

“Shut up Haught!” Wynonna yells. “Shut up!”

 

“We take both.” Dolls says.

 

“That’s not how this deal works. I am giving you the curtesy of choosing which one you want to save. But you only get one.” TG says evenly.

 

Nicole pipes up again. “Save Wynonna-!” She gets cut off again but keeps trying. “-ah- they can’t get out of the triangle if- ah- if you save her! Ah-“ He squeezes tighter “SAVE HER!”

 

“I would make a choice quickly. The redhead dyke doesn’t have much time left.” The revenant says. As he says it, Nicole’s muscles start to relax and her struggling starts to subside. She is not getting enough oxygen.

 

“No! We aren’t doing that!” Waverly says, fighting back tears.

 

“Save Nicole, Waverly!” Wynonna yells.

 

“We are going to save both of you ladies!” Doc says.

 

“Dolls-!” Nicole’s eyes make contact with his. After a silent moment, he shakes his head.

 

“No! Haught! No!” He yells, knowing what she is planning to do.

 

She moves her eyes to meet Waverly’s. “I love you.” Is all she gets out. What happens next feels like it is happening in slow motion. Nicole places both of her hands on the one that is holding her neck. She lifts her legs up and throws them up so one lands on top of the Revenant’s arm. His arm bends and he loses his balance. He tips and they both go over the side of the cliff. Waverly can’t even process what is happening enough to scream. It is only when Wynonna screams that Waverly reacts. She and Doc run towards the cliff. As they do, Dolls and Wynonna take out the now distracted TG. Dolls shoots him in the head after Wynonna gets free and gets a few good hits in. He hands her Peacemaker and they join the other two at the cliff. They are surprised to see both Doc and Waverly are still panicking, but neither are breaking down. What the hell? Wynonna looks over the cliff to see Nicole and the Revenant on a landing fifteen feet down. The Revenant and Nicole are struggling, Nicole is on top of him, trying to keep him down. Nicole sneaks a glance up and sees that Wynonna has Peacemaker.

 

“Shoot Wynonna! Shoot him!” She yells.

 

Wynonna aims but can’t get a clean shot. She is going to hit Nicole. “No shot!” Wynonna yells.

 

“Just do it! You can do this!” Nicole replies.

 

“Wynonna please, he is going to kill her!” Waverly pleads.

 

“If I hit her and she dies, she will be a Revenant Waverly!” Wynonna yells, trying to fight her own tears. “She doesn’t deserve that!”

 

“Shoot Earp! I can’t-“ Nicole loses the battle of strength. The Revenant throws her away from him, over to the very edge of the cliff. Her arm hangs over the edge. Wynonna takes the shot and kills the Revenant, the fiery pit to hell open up and takes him down. Nicole watches him get pulled down, her face laying on the stone and dirt. She flips her head and pukes over the side of the cliff. The stress and lack of oxygen getting to her.

 


 

“You are such an idiot!” Waverly yells from the top of the cliff a few minutes later.

 

Nicole is still laying down on the ground. She turns her head and gives Waverly a halfhearted thumbs-up. Her hand drops back to the ground as she tries to get up. It makes her dizzy, so she decides to just roll herself away from the edge. Best not to fall to her death.

 

“How are we to get to her?” Dolls asks the group. They all look down at the landing where Nicole is.

 

“We can’t jump. It is too high. Plus, none of us have the strength to climb back up while also carrying Haught.” Dolls says.

 

“What if one of us goes down on a rope. Then the rest of us can pull them up.” Wynonna suggests.

 

“That could work. But all of you are going to be too heavy.” Waverly says. “The tensile strength of the rope we have will only hold so much weight. Plus, there will only be three people to pull two people up. It has to be me. I am the lightest and the only one here who actually rock climbs.”

 

“You rock climb?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Yeah, a little. We have done it on a couple of our dates.” Waverly says, blushing a little.

 

They hear Nicole shout from below. “Do. Not. Send. Anyone. Down. The. Face. Of. This. Cliff!”

 

“Nicole…” Waverly goes to argue.

 

“No! Look at the cliff. It is unstable. There is no way one of you can get down it without the earth collapsing.” Nicole states.

 

“She is right.” Dolls says, surveying the face. “It will collapse under that kind of pressure, possibly causing an avalanche that will send Nicole over the cliff. OR the line will snap and both people will die.”

 

“So, what do you propose we do?” Doc asks.

 

Nicole interrupts, “Send the line down. I have to come up on my own.”

 

“What?!” Both Earp sister say in unison.

 

“Okay. Hold on. Let me tie off the line Haught. Stand by.” Dolls says. He retrieves the rope from the SUV and ties it to the tow hitch. He walks back to the edge and throws the rope down. The extra line hits the ground near Nicole’s body. “We are tied off Haught. You’re up!” Dolls calls down.

 

Nicole mutters obscenities under her breath as she crawls to her hands and knees. Stupid idiot! Fuck. Why did you have to choose today not to use enough common sense. Fucking imbecile. Nicole Haught, you are a fucking idiot! Dumbass! “Okay!” she shouts up to her team. She stands and gives the rope a good tug. She then wraps it around her waist and then up so it is across her chest and over her shoulder. “Okay! Let’s do this.” She feels the slack tighten and she starts to climb. With her team pulling her and her combined climbing. It only takes a minute or two for her to get up to the top. Waverly pulls her over the edge and on to stable ground.

 

“Are you okay?” Waverly asks, pulling Nicole into her arms as they stay on the ground.

 

“I am okay now.” Nicole responds, giving Waverly a smile.

 

“Good, because I need to yell at you about being such an idiot and doing idiotic things with my sister. I can’t do that if you are hurt.” Waverly says, leaning down to kiss Nicole on the lips.

 

“Feel free, I deserve it this time. But can we wait until we get home. That fall sucked. I think I am going to need an ice pack for my…” Nicole looks at her body. “…everything.”

 

Waverly laughs, “Yes, it can wait. But I think you are going to have to make it up to me. This little accident caused me to miss my appointment.”

 

Nicole’s eyes darken and she looks at Waverly. “What did you have in mind?”

 

Waverly lets a wicked grin spread across her face as she leans down to whisper into Nicole’s ear. “Lots of sex.” Waverly raises her head back up and smiles again. “And dinner… and dessert.”

 

“I am resisting the urge to make a joke about what dessert will be.” Nicole says with a smirk.

 

“Don’t you fucking dare Haught! I will send you to hell if you defile my ears with that kind of talk!” Wynonna says from the car. “Get in lovebirds, we should get back!”

 

Chapter Text

“So? You like it?” Waverly asks, sending a hopeful look to her sister.

 

Wynonna is speechless. She still hasn’t picked up her jaw from the floor (where it has been since her baby sister walked out of the fitting room). Gus responds, knowing Wynonna can't. “You look beautiful Darling. How does it feel?”

 

“I love it.” Waverly replies, blushing. She looks at Wynonna again, this time with concern. “Nonna?”

 

“I- um… sorry Babygirl. You look just… um…” Wynonna takes a breath “…wow.”

 

“Is that a good thing?” Waverly questions, starting to look scared.

 

Wynonna shakes her head once and seems to regain her bearings. “Of course Babygirl! You look gorgeous!” Wynonna says, trying to reassure her sister. She looks at Waverly, who is standing in a beautiful white wedding dress. It is a strapless A-line silhouette gown. It is absolutely gorgeous with beaded lace detail from waist to hem. It is simple, yet elegant. It is perfect and Waverly looks like she is literally glowing in it. Wynonna jumps up abruptly and runs out of the room.

 

“Wynonna?” Gus and Waverly both shout. They hear doors being slammed open and people arguing. Then there is the sound of shuffling and Wynonna is back in the room, dragging Nicole in behind her. The seamstress follows behind them, looking perturbed.

 

Nicole lays eyes on Waverly and stops dead in her tracks. Her jaw hits the floor as well. Wynonna looks at her smugly, acting as if she hadn’t reacted the same way a few moments earlier. Nicole only takes a moment before she regains her composure. Her eyes never leave Waverly as she takes a few more steps forwards so she is now right in front of Waverly, looking down at her fiancé. “You are beautiful.” Nicole whispers, her hands still at her sides. Waverly quirks her eyebrow at Nicole’s weird phrasing. Nicole chuckles lightly and gives Waverly the look. It’s the same look she gave Waverly during their first meeting at Shorty’s and then again at the poker spectacular. She knew what that look means. It says everything, without saying a word. It says that Nicole finds Waverly beautiful every single day. It says that Waverly looks stunning and is the light that brightens Nicole’s world. Beautiful, inside and out. Waverly just smiles and blushes dark pink. Nicole leans down to place a kiss on Waverly’s lips, but is stopped by the annoyed clearing of someone’s throat. Nicole and Waverly both turn to see the store seamstress looking at them with her arms crossed over her chest.

 

“You aren’t supposed to see her in the dress until the special day. Let’s not break anymore traditions by kissing her in it too.” She says, sending Wynonna a look that could kill. Waverly and Nicole both blush before Nicole places a quick kiss on Waverly’s forehead. Then she is out the door, following an annoyed seamstress back to the other side of the shop.

 

Waverly turns to look at her sister who has a shit-eating grin on her face. Waverly just shakes her head and looks back to the mirror. She looks at her reflection, wondering why this dress feels so perfect. The others she has tried on are beautiful, but this one… it makes her feel like her heart is being squeezed. She feels like she is flying. She smiles so wide as she turns, looking at it from all angles. 

 


 

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to do a veil?” Gus says, confirming as she writes stuff on a list.

 

“Yeah. It just feels like a little much.” Waverly replies as Gus finishes writing and the three women begin to exit the bridal dress fitting area. As they exit, Dolls enters the room across the store. He is in a tux and looks amazing in it. Wynonna can’t turn her eyes away. Gus starts to talk with an employee of the shop so the sisters head for the room Dolls recently entered. They are just about to enter when the door flies open again and Doc exits with Dolls. Both are all smiles. They are so focused, they almost run into the Earp girls.

 

“Whoa! Where’s the fire boys?” Wynonna asks.

 

The men exchange a look before Doc answers. “I reckon we are just very excited. I do have to admit…” He looks down at himself “I look mighty fine.”

 

The Earp girls laugh, but don’t disagree. Wynonna’s eyes are glued to Dolls and his are glued to her’s as well. Waverly stands on her tiptoes and leans to try and see past the two men.

 

“She is still in there, we just finished. We will give you a minute.” Dolls says. As he does, he and Doc move to the side and allow Waverly to enter the room. They close the door once she is inside, giving the couple some privacy.

 

Waverly looks around the room, but doesn’t see Nicole. She goes to an entryway on the other side of the room and stands there. She lays eyes on Nicole. She is standing in a black tuxedo. It is simple, black jacket and pants with a white shirt underneath. The tuxedo is definitely fit for women, it hugs Nicole’s body in all the right places. Nicole is tying a thin black tie around her neck, fidgeting with it. Waverly smiles and takes pity on the redhead. She comes up from behind and wraps her arms around the taller woman, stilling her fidgeting hands as she does. Nicole smiles, closing her eyes and breathing in deeply. “Waves.”

 

“Let me help you with that.” Waverly says, moving so she is now in front of Nicole. She takes the tie in her hands and makes quick work of tying it properly. She tightens it up so it is comfortable around Nicole’s neck. She pulls the tie down, bringing Nicole’s face to meet her’s. Waverly pulls Nicole into a kiss, the same kiss she wanted to have earlier when Nicole saw her in the gown. It is delicate and light, but oh so powerful. Nicole smiles into the kiss and pulls Waverly closer, making sure there is no space between them.

 

“So…” Nicole says as they break the kiss. “You like it?”

 

“Yes.” Waverly looks Nicole up and down.” Yes I do.”

 

Nicole chuckles. “Good. I thought about a dress, but this felt… more traditional. I like it.”

 

“Good. You almost ready to go?” Waverly asks, skimming a finger along Nicole’s cheek.

 

“Yeah, just let me change out of this.” Nicole takes a beat and then adds. “It might be a little hard to get the boys to change though. They love their tuxes.” They both laugh in agreement. 

 


 

 

“Want another beer?” Gus asks, stepping over to the redhead from the other side of the bar.

 

“No thank you Gus. I am good with the two I have had. I’ll stick with water.” Nicole responds. She looks at the brunette in her arms. Waverly fell asleep twenty minutes ago, it had been a long day. The whole morning was devoted to getting everyone fitted for the wedding. After lunch, they went wedding band shopping and ended up at Shorty’s several hours later. “I should probably get this one home soon. She is exhausted.”

 

“Well, we still have to do a journal entry for today. You mind doing one now?” Gus says.

 

“Um yeah, but I don’t have my journals. So I guess I will just tell you about a memory.” Nicole says, stiffening a little. She looks down at Waverly’s sleeping form and relaxes a bit of the tension. Wynonna plops down on the stool next to Nicole, offering her silent support. Nicole takes a deep breath as she starts to retell the story.

 

8 years ago…

 

“Dallas? Do you copy?” Liz calls through the coms.

 

“Copy. I am two klicks out from the village. No contact.” Nicole responds.

 

“Roger. Any sign of CO?”

 

“Negative.” An explosion in the area near Nicole goes off, causing her to hit the ground.

 

“Haught, do you read me! Haught! Come in!” Liz shouts.

 

Only silence greets her.

Chapter Text

The silence was deafening. Nicole hated it. Well, she hated it until the ringing started. The ringing in her hears was at a frequency that made her vision blur. She feels like she is underwater. She can hear someone calling her, Liz maybe? But her voice is muffled and far away because of the water that surrounds Nicole. Wait. Scratch that. It’s not water. It is blood. Nicole wanted to jump up and run, but her body was struggling to stay conscious, let alone move. After another minute, she rolled so she was on her back. She slowly looked down at her body, looking for injuries. She seemed to be okay and that led her to believe all the blood is not hers. She had a rather large gash near the crown of her head, but besides that and a couple angry scratches, she was uninjured. She turned her head and startles a bit when her eyes met the lifeless ones of a village man. He was dead. The blood seemed to be his. His body was a mess and Nicole could tell from her angle that he no longer had all of his limbs. She felt, rather than heard, another explosion. After the vibrations of the earth stopped, the ringing got louder and it made Nicole clutch her hands to her ears. She pulled back her hands and noticed they have more blood on them than before. Her heart sinks. Liz’s voice got louder and more clear. Nicole’s voice was hoarse, but she did her best.

 

“Contact. Man down. Host- hostiles inbound.” She takes a breath. “Green. I know your listening but I can’t hear you. There was an explosion. My hearing is shot and I have blood coming from my ears. Only two things I can think of that cause that: ruptured eardrum or a head injury causing bleeding around the brain. I…” Nicole started to lose consciousness. “I think the hostiles are moving out.” Nicole was about to pass out when she saw a very blurry Mike Green crouching in front of her. He was talking, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying. He pulled her to her feet and almost carried her to the waiting humvee. The entire unit was there… except for their CO, Eli Abrams.

 

“He was the one who set the bomb off. We found out later after the investigation started. He had gone off in the middle of the night and we were searching for him. I guess I got too close. He and the dead man were working together, helping a terrorist organization steal weapons from U.S. military transports.” Nicole says, looking at the now empty water glass in front of her. She doesn’t want to look at the women around her. “Eli showed up at camp a few days later. He claimed that he got caught in a crossfire while on a nighttime walk. Said it wasn’t safe enough to come back until then. I had a ruptured eardrum, a concussion, some bruising and lacerations. The body armor Waverly found in my storage unit. The one that had holes in it. The holes are from shrapnel. That vest saved my life. That’s why I am diligent with my kevlar vest. I guess it is a good thing I am. Willa would have killed me that night if I hadn't been wearing it.”

 

The room is silent besides the soft music coming from the jukebox. It is only Gus, Wynonna, Nicole and a sleeping Waverly there. Although, based on the way Waverly flinched during certain parts of the story, she is no longer asleep and hasn’t been since Nicole started the story.

 

“I should have seen the signs. Eli was shady. His explanation for that night made no sense. But he was my CO and I trusted him. I got too close and he tried to blow me up to hide his secret. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he took me prisoner and tried to kill me again. I was naïve and stupid. I didn’t want to see the truth. I thought I was getting paranoid and maybe even starting to lose my mind. They always warned us about battle scars and how they affect the mind. I thought I was going bat shit crazy, so I kept my mouth shut.” Nicole loosens her grip on the bar top. She didn’t realized she was squeezing it so tight until now. Until Wynonna places a  hand on Nicole’s white ones. Nicole loosens her grip and feels the rush as blood starts to circulate to her fingers once again. Nicole doesn’t look up, but if she did, she would see the look on Wynonna’s face. It is a look of understanding; it is a look that says you are not alone. If she were to look at Gus, she would see anger. Anger because this girl was/is so broken with guilt. This Eli character broke her and then had the nerve to try again by using her loved ones as leverage. The worst part is that Gus and Wynonna both feel sympathy for young Nicole. She suffered with all of this in silence and alone. She didn’t know who to trust, so she carried it all on her own.

 

“Nicole, look at me.” Gus says. Nicole doesn’t look away from the empty glass. “Nicole.” Nicole looks up at Gus finally, her face emotionless. “Why did you decide to tell that story?”

 

“Today was a good day for me. Getting ready for the wedding and all. But it was also hard. It was hard for me. Dolls was there when I started to panic in the tux room. Trying to decide on what to wear. I could wear a tux or my military uniform. But every time I looked at that uniform… I looked at the ribbons and the medals and the pins. One of the medals that adorns that uniform is from what happened with Eli. That explosion… it was the first incident that put me on the path to receiving that medal. I have so much pride for the good I did in the line of duty. But it also holds a lot of memories that I would give almost anything to forget. They gave me a medal for surviving. For not getting myself killed by my commanding officer. They gave me a medal for surviving torture and kidnapping. It makes me sick to my stomach.” Nicole passes and looks at Wynonna’s hand that is still laying lightly on one of hers. “He killed so many people. He was responsible for so many innocents being injured or killed. I knew something wasn’t right that day he returned. But I said nothing and it was months before everything came full circle. He spent those months helping the enemy and harming innocents. That’s my fault. I don’t deserve a medal for any of that.”

 

“What did Dolls say about this?” Wynonna asks softly.

 

Nicole laughs a bit, but it isn’t her normally warm laugh. “Dolls has clearance to see most of my mission files. He knew about it years ago, when he checked my record. Apparently it didn’t matter to him considering he still let me into Black Badge. But today, as my friend, he was nothing but supportive of the idea of me not wearing the uniform.”

 

“Nicole, what he did is not your fault. You can’t hold on to that guilt. I know me saying this doesn’t change how you feel, but I have to say it anyway. You weren’t crazy. You were an eighteen year old kid in a war zone. You were taught to trust your commanding officers and that is exactly what you did. You followed orders and the chain of command. You can wish that you had said something all you want, but it is the past. You cannot change it. The only thing you can do is accept mistakes, learn from them and move on.” Gus says, compassion clear, but still leaving no room for argument.

 

“I know.” Nicole says. “I am just so tired.” Nicole takes a deep inhale, trying to keep her emotions in check. “I am so tired of him having so much control of my life.”

 

Waverly speaks softly from her spot in Nicole’s lap. “You are tired because you have been doing this on your own for so long. Now you don’t have to. I am here. Gus and Nonna are here. Doc and Dolls and Nedley too.” Nicole laughs, letting out a choked breath. Waverly kisses Nicole lovingly on the cheek before returning to bury her face in Nicole’s neck.

 

“Yeah. I know.” Nicole responds. Smiling a little at the three women around her.

 

 


 

 

One month later…

 

“You are getting married at the end of the month Waves. How does it feel?” Chrissy asks as she takes a sip from her wine.

 

“It feels amazing. I haven’t been this happy in… oh god forever.” Waverly replies, blushing hard.

 

“I am really happy for you. By the way, where is the other bride to be?” Chrissy asks.

 

“She is out with Wynonna. They went into town to buy and order some materials at the hardware store. She texted me a few hours ago that they were going to Shorty’s for a drink… or for Wynonna… five drinks.” Waverly says. She turns to look at the clock on the wall. 12:56pm. “They should be home any minute.”

 

As if on cue, the front door opens. Nicole steps in, carrying a passed out Wynonna in her arms. Wynonna is clutching to her as they enter the house. Almost as if she is afraid Nicole is going to leave. Even in her sleep, Wynonna can’t hide her abandonment issues (much like Waverly herself). “Sorry we are so late.” Nicole whispers as she nudges the front door closed. “I’ll put her in her room and come back in a second.” Nicole says, walking up the stairs and to Wynonna’s room. A few minutes later, Nicole returns downstairs and greets both women (a hug for Chrissy and a kiss for Waverly). “So? Was it nice to have the house to yourself for a while?”

 

“Yes, the quiet was nice. But I missed you.” Waverly says, smiling at Nicole.

 

“Well, I am just glad you two finally got to hang out in peace.” Nicole says, motioning to Waverly and Chrissy.

 

“Yeah, it was nice. We just got takeout and watched movies.” Waverly says.

 

“So Nicole, aren’t you going to breakfast with my dad tomorrow?” Chrissy asks.

 

“Yeah. He is determined to keep up the tradition.” Nicole responds with a laugh. Nedley has been meeting up with her every Monday morning since she came home. They get breakfast at the diner and then head to the station together. She has to admit, she loves Monday mornings with Nedley. It is normal and almost domestic. He is like a father to her and they have even looped Chrissy and Waverly into coming some mornings too. “Are you coming too?” Nicole asks, hopeful. She likes Chrissy and enjoys when she joins them.

 

Chrissy laughs. “Of course. I still owe you a breakfast platter, remember?”

 

Waverly quirks an eyebrow in question and Nicole giggles. “Chrissy made a bet with me and lost.”

 

“What was the bet?” Waverly asks as she looks at her friend. Waverly is highly amused by the look on Chrissy’s face.

 

“She said her dad would cry the moment I told him I was going to ask you to marry me. I had told her a week before I told him. She lost.” Nicole says proudly.

 

“Two things: One, [looking at Chrissy] you knew she was going to ask me? Did everyone know?” Chrissy smiles and nods her head. “And two, what was his reaction?”

 

Nicole and Chrissy both burst into laughter and Nicole rubs her hand on the back of her neck. “He congratulated me, gave me a hug, and then slapped me upside the head and said It’s about damn time. And then gave me another hug.” Nicole says.

 

Waverly digests this information and imagines the scene that Nicole just described. There is a long pause and then Waverly is bursting into laughter. “I could totally see him doing that!”

 

“I definitely felt him do it.” Nicole mumbles. Rubbing the back of her neck to try and hide her blush and giddy smile.

 

“It was hilarious. I got a front row seat too!” Chrissy exclaims. “I even took a picture! It was fantastic!” Chrissy pulls her phone out and shows Waverly a photo of Nedley hugging Nicole. Both are in uniform and are embracing each other tightly.

 

“That's really sweet… and super Nedley.” Waverly says.

 

“Yes it was.” Nicole and Chrissy both agree.

Chapter Text

Breakfast with Nedley, Chrissy and Waverly is great. Nicole loves to do the simple things with the people she considers family. They eat breakfast and talk until Nedley and Nicole have to go to the station.

 

“Be safe. Both of you.” Waverly says as they stand from the table.

 

“We will. Today should be nice and easy considering we don’t have any Black Badge duties.” Nicole says.

 

“I think that is reason enough for you to come back to me full time.” Nedley grumbles under his breath.

 

They all laugh and Nedley gets a small shove from his daughter. “Don’t worry Sherriff. I will always be here when you need me. I’m not going anywhere.” Nicole says.

 

“Better not.” He says, leading the three women out of the diner. Nicole and Nedley get into his cruiser and pull out of the parking lot after goodbyes are exchanged. Chrissy and Waverly watch them leave.

 

“Does it ever get easier?” Waverly asks.

 

“Watching them leave? Hoping and praying they come home every night?” Chrissy asks, already knowing that is what Waverly is asking about. “No. No it doesn’t.”

 

“I feel like part of me leaves with her. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.” Waverly responds.

 

“It is an intense thing. But I understand it. To be honest I feel it with both of them. Nicole has become a surrogate sister to me over the last couple years. She is important to me and my dad. She is family. I am not ashamed to admit I cried when she told me she was going back with the Marines.”

 

“You are important to her and us. She regards you as a sister too. You were one of the few people that were kind to her when she first got here. She still talks about how you and your dad used to invite her to dinner at your house once a week. You both made her feel welcome.” Waverly says.

 

“There is something about her. She is a special girl Waves. I don’t have to tell you that, I know. But she is just…” Chrissy says.

 

“… Nicole.” Waverly supplies, knowing nothing could really describe her fiancé accurately.

 

“Exactly.”

 


 

“Dinner is ready!” Gus shouts from the kitchen. Everyone files in, making theirs plates of food. “Is Nicole coming home for dinner? If not, I can make her a plate and drop it off at the station on my way home.” She asks Waverly, noticing Nicole is the only one not present.

 

Waverly looks at the clock and then back at Gus. “She should have been off and a half an hour ago.” Waverly says, looking at her phone to see if Nicole texted her. “Normally she texts me if she is going to be late.”

 

“Well text her and ask. Or call the station.” Wynonna says.

 

“Okay.”

 

Waves (5:35pm): Hey, are you on your way home?

Waves (5:40pm): Everything okay?

Nic (5:58pm): Just left the station. Sorry, paperwork. Lost track of time

Nic (6:00pm): Everything is great. Don’t wait to eat. See you in 15

 


 

Nicole steps out of her cruiser and heads for the house. Everyone is on the porch, eating. She smiles as she takes the two steps up, giving Waverly a kiss on the cheek. “Hey.”

 

“Hey.” Waverly responds. She smiles up at her girlfriend.

 

“How was your day Nicole?” Gus asks.

 

“Good. Same old stuff, lots of paperwork. I had to arrest the York boys again for…” Nicole is interrupted by her phone going off. “Sorry.” She says as she goes to silence it but stops short. “I got to take this, excuse me.” She says, answering the phone as she walks off the porch and away from the house. “Haught.”

 

“Captain. General Edwards.”

 

“Sir.” Nicole responds.

 

“Got some news you should probably hear.” He says.

 

Nicole feels her stomach drop. This is something serious. “Yes Sir.”

 

“Whitereef officially disavowed Eli Abrams last week. They cited it as a workplace dispute. His body was found at 0300 hours today.” Nicole doesn’t say anything. To be honest, she is lucky she doesn’t drop her phone. She just stands there, frozen. “Capt.? Dallas?“

 

Nicole snaps out of it after that and shakes her head a bit. “Anything we know?”

 

“Another Whitereef operative offed him. That is what the investigators think. Abrams wasn’t only after you and your team.”

 

“And the intel leak?”

 

“Secured.” The general answers. “I have it handled. Dallas. You and your family are safe. So is your team. I will be contacting them shortly. I was never going to let them hurt one of my own.”

 

“Thank you for the update Sir.” Nicole says, tension unrelieved.

 

“Have a good evening Dallas. Talk to you at the briefing next week.”

 

“Yes Sir.”

 

“And Dallas?” The general pauses. “Congratulations on your impending nuptials.”

 

“Thank you Sir.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

The call ends and Nicole just stands there. Her body is tight and the stress on her muscles starts to burn. She just stands there.

 


 

“Your lady looks like she might burst into flames where she stands.” Doc says, glancing at Nicole, who is on the phone.

 

“I am well aware.” Waverly says, her eyes never leaving Nicole’s form. She saw the look Nicole tried to hide when she saw who was calling. Something is going on. She sees Nicole hang up the phone after a minute and just stand there. Her free hand is in a fist and the other one clutches her phone so tight, Waverly fears the screen might crack… again. Waverly’s phone rings. The caller ID tells her it’s Liz. Waverly answers and puts the phone on speaker so everyone can hear. Waverly looks up and sees Nicole is still a statue. “Hey Liz.” Waverly looks down at her phone.

 

“Eli is dead. Nicole knows. General Edwards called her right before he called the rest of us.” Liz says, sounding panicked.

 

“And this is a problem, why?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Nicole isn’t gonna take this well. Where is she? Is she alright?” Liz says. Now they understand. Waverly looks down at her phone and then up at Nicole.

 

“Yeah, she is here with us and she seems…” Then Nicole is running. Running away from the house. She drops her phone and sprints towards the fence. Waverly and Wynonna both jump up and start to run after her, leaving Waverly’s phone on the porch. They both run after Nicole, but Nicole is faster. “Nicole!”

 


 

She makes it a half a mile before emotions and stress overcome her. She doubles over and is dry heaving. Then the tears come and she can’t stop them. She walks for another ten feet before losing her balance and toppling over. She is on her hands and knees, trying to breathe past her sobs. It isn’t working. She can hear heavy breathing and footsteps coming closer. She panics, she tries to reach for her gun but it is in the cruiser, along with her utility belt. She has a gun at her ankle, but she can’t seem to raise her arm without falling forwards and onto her face. She just gives up and starts to shake, letting the sobs take over. Then the noises are on her and she can’t help but feel like all the tension in her body is still building. There are voices, calling her name. They have been since she started running. But she can’t seem to focus past her sobs. Then there are arms around her, shoving her to the ground. Someone, the one on top of her, straddling her hips and pressing themselves to her chest, is talking to her, but she doesn’t understand. The other one is holding her clenched fists in their hands, not allowing her to clench them completely. Not allowing her nails to dig in to her own skin. She doesn’t understand.

 


 

“Nicole!” Waverly yells, her breathing heavy. Her and Wynonna are still chasing Nicole. She seems to have stopped a ways ahead of them, but she doesn’t seem to hear them. It is only when they get closer that they see her double over and then eventually hit the ground. “Wynonna! She just hit the ground!”

 

Wynonna is a few steps behind her. “I see that Waverly!”

 

They get closer and Nicole’s appearance becomes more clear. The panic only rises in Waverly. “I’m going to tackle her!”

 

“WHAT?!” Wynonna exclaims. But before she gets an answer, her sister is lunging for the redhead and tackling her so she is now on her back. Nicole isn’t responding to their voices, but she seem scared. Wynonna grabs her friend’s hands and places her fingers in Nicole’s hands, not allowing her to clench them completely. She hopes to be an anchor.

 

“Nicole! Baby! Breathe! Please baby, breathe! Nic, you gotta breathe for me!” Waverly pleads. She straddles Nicole’s hips, not allowing her to get away. She leans down until her entire chest is on Nicole’s. She had read an article about how intense and deep pressure can be used to calm and relax the sympathetic nervous system. It can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and well… calm someone having an anxiety attack down. She presses as much of her weight on Nicole, hoping it will work. It would make sense. Nicole loves to cuddle, loves the closeness. She has since her and Waverly have been serious. Waverly prays that if there is a god, that it will let this work. “Nicole.” Waverly whispers, fighting and failing to hide her own tears. She has to admit, the idea of Eli being gone is a relief, but what is happening to Nicole is terrifying.

 

“Waves?” Nicole whispers, unsure.  

 

“Yeah baby, it’s me. I’m here. Wynonna is here too. What do you need?” Waverly says, trying to wipe away the tears from Nicole’s clouded eyes. It is almost like Nicole doesn’t see her.

 

“Please-“ Nicole chokes. “Please don’t let go. Please don’t leave.” Nicole pleads, her voice barely above a whisper.

 

“Never.” Waverly responds and Wynonna does the same.

Chapter Text

They stay that way- Waverly on top of Nicole, Wynonna holding her hands at her head- for twenty minutes. Nicole slowly begins to relax, but the crying never stops. Neither Waverly, nor Wynonna know what Nicole is feeling. Is it intense relief, pain, grief? It isn’t until Nicole speaks again that they get a clue.

 

“I can’t believe he is dead.” She whispers, the tears finally starting to slow.

 

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Wynonna asks.

 

“I don’t know. I don’t know if it is relief that I feel right now. I don’t know if it is sadness for the loss of a human life. I don’t know if it is jealousy for the person that actually killed him. All I know is I hated him so much. I planned the many scenarios in which I would murder him if he hurt you guys. But I also used to consider him a friend all those years ago (or at the very least a teammate). And no matter what he did to me, he was still a human being. And now he is just dead.” Nicole says. She looks up at Waverly and sees compassion in her features. She gets off Nicole and stands. With the help of her sister, they get Nicole to her feet and begin to walk back to the Homestead.

 

“So, what does this mean?” Waverly asks broadly, not knowing what question to really ask.

 

“It means you and Wynonna and Gus are safe… or at least, safe from my psychopath ex-CO.” Nicole says, a small grin on her face as they hit the driveway.

 

“I swear you are a little insane Haughtstuff.” Wynonna says with a surprised smirk. “And I think I am qualified to say that. I am a crazy chick with a big ass gun.”

 

“Maybe I am. And it is probably the only reason I have lasted this long around you Earp.” Nicole quips.

 

“Touché.” Wynonna says as they reach the house.

 


 

“So, have you written your vows yet? Or are you just going to stick to the traditional ones?” Chrissy asks. She is eating dinner with Wynonna and Nicole. Gus stole Waverly for the evening to work on some stuff.

 

“I am not sure. I like the idea of writing my own. But it is also really scary. Not only writing the right things, but then sharing said intimate feelings in front of other people. It makes me a little nervous.” Nicole responds.

 

“Haught. There are gonna be like ten people at this wedding. All of which are considered family. How nervous can you be? It’s not like we can’t tell what you are thinking when you go all Officer Hearteyes upon seeing my sister.” Wynonna quips.

 

“I second that.” Chrissy adds.

 

“I don’t know. I have to ask Waves if she even wants to do it.” Nicole says, unsure.

 

“I believe she plans on writing her own vows.” Wynonna says.

 

“Did she tell you that?” Nicole asks.

 

“No, I am just assuming so, considering she sent me a first, second and third draft.” Wynonna says smugly.

 

“Dude, same!” Chrissy says, smiling at Wynonna.

 

Nicole lets her face fall in her hands and groans. “What if I screw them up.”

 

“You won’t. Just tell her the truth. If you do that, nothing you say will be wrong.” Chrissy says. “Oh, and don’t let this one make this into a competition over who will right the better vows.” She adds, jabbing a thumb at Wynonna.

 

Wynonna just laughs and takes a large sip of her coffee.

 


 

“We are getting married in just over a week and I feel like I haven’t seen you in days.” Waverly pouts as she gets home. Nicole is laying face down on their bed. She grumbles into the sheets in response, still mostly asleep. She didn’t even bother changing out of her uniform once she got home a couple hours ago. She just walked upstairs, took her boots and belts off, and face-planted into the bed. Waverly walked upstairs after returning home to see the redhead in this position. The muffled breathing said she was half asleep. Waverly, needing to have some type of contact with her fiancé, decides to get on top of Nicole. She straddles Nicole’s hip as she sits on the small of her back. She leans forwards, pulling down the collar of Nicole’s uniform shirt, and kisses the back of her neck. She then leans a little further and whispers into Nicole’s ear. “I missed you.” There is another muffled response from the woman below her. Waverly chuckles a bit, but she can’t quench her need for physical contact. “I missed you.” She whispers again. She places another kiss on Nicole’s neck and then another kiss, this time just below her ear. Nicole stirs a bit and then is rolling over so she is on her back, looking up at Waverly with sleepy eyes.

 

“I missed you too.” Nicole says, stifling a yawn. “And it feels like we haven’t seen each other in days because we haven’t. Outside of the station, at least. I have been working the graveyards shift and doing overtime with Dolls all week. And you and your sister have been locked away in the BBD office from morning to night every day, doing what I have to assume is research. My shifts started when yours ended and we were lucky if we got a kiss hello or goodbye.”

 

“Unacceptable.” Waverly says, leaning down and kissing Nicole’s lips. She lets her legs slide down so she is laying on Nicole. “Wait, so why are you home? Shouldn’t you be at work?” Waverly asks, but then gives a mischievous smirk. “Not that I am complaining.”

 

“I needed a night at home. Nedley took pity on me and gave me tonight off… and then he also gave me morning shifts for the rest of the week.” Nicole says, wrapping her arms around Waverly and holding her close.

 

“That was very nice of him.” Waverly says from where her face lies on Nicole’s chest.

 

“I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I look like shit. Chrissy and Wynonna chewed him out about it when they arrived at the station (to bring me coffee and lunch), only to find me half asleep on the gym floor.” Nicole says, slightly amused by the fact that Chrissy and Wynonna influenced Nedley.

 

“I’ll be sure to thank my sister and my best friend for that.” Waverly chuckles, imagining the scene of Wynonna and Chrissy complaining and lecturing Nedley in the station.

 

“Yeah, me too.” Nicole agrees, her voice still lightly coated with sleep.

 

“I love you Nicole Haught.”

 

“You know I love you Waverly Earp.”

 

“I do.” Waverly agrees. She lifts her head and connects her lips with Nicole’s. It starts innocent enough, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.

 


 

“I understand that you have gotten in even better shape since re-upping. But that… that was still impressive. I didn’t even know you could physically do that?” Waverly gasps out, laying on her back. Her chest still rises and falls quickly as she comes down from her orgasm.

 

“I could do that before, Waves. I just never thought you would want me to do it. But yes, the new fitness regimen is helpful.” Nicole smirks.

 

Waverly turns on her side and looks at Nicole. She sends her a smirk of her own. “Are there any other things you have been holding back on, Officer Haught?”

 

“I am a woman of many talents and mysteries. I shall never tell. You will just have to wait and see.” Nicole says smugly, reveling in the way her fiancé’s body quakes under the slightest touch.

 

A groan escapes Waverly, but she can’t hide her amusement. Nicole Haught makes her happy. She has this ability to be sexy and funny at the same time. She never makes Waverly feel awkward or feel like she can’t be herself. Nicole accepts her as a whole. “You are going to have to teach me some of these… things.”

 

“Gladly. I sure will enjoy that.” Nicole adjusts herself so she is now on top of Waverly. “But in the meantime…”

Chapter Text

Waverly is losing her mind. I am losing my mind! She paces around the room. Chrissy and Wynonna just watch as Waverly paces in front of them. They aren’t really sure what to do. “What if I majorly fuck this up?”

 

Wynonna is the first to speak. “You aren’t going to do that. Haughtstuff will love whatever you write.”

 

“But she is always so romantic and good at this kind of stuff!” Waverly complains, shaking a piece of scratch paper in her hands.

 

Both Chrissy and Wynonna laugh, thinking about Nicole panicking similarly not too long ago. “You are gonna do great Waves. I promise. Just tell her how you feel. Keep it short, simple and honest.” Chrissy says, regaining her composure.

 

“I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” Waverly says, bowing her head in defeat.

 

“You won’t Babygirl. I promise you, Haughtstuff loves you. All she cares about is that you show up at the alter.” Wynonna says, standing and hugging her sister before she leaves the room.

 

“Chrissy. Give me guidelines. I need something to start from.” Waverly pleads, looking at her best friend.

 

“Okay, well… Nicole is keeping it short. Maybe thirty seconds to a minute long.”

 

“Wait! You are helping her?!” Waverly asks incredulously. “Why are you not helping me then? You have to tell me what she wrote!”

 

“No, no and no. She wrote it all by herself. She was just talking about it with my dad last night. Apparently, he and Nicole went for dinner without us.” Chrissy says, feigning offense.

 

“Oh yeah, I noticed. I think it had something to do with the whole You are gonna be Sheriff when I retire thing.”

 

“He wants to retire in the next ten years, but he wants to make sure that is what Nicole wants.” Chrissy says.

 

“And?” Waverly prods. “As far as I know, she still wants that.”

 

“That’s what she says, but he just wants to be sure… plus I think he just likes to use it as an excuse to have alone time with her. He worries about her. He also knows its harder to open up when other people are around.” Chrissy says, no jealousy in her features. She and Nedley regard Nicole as family and that will never change. “He loves her as one of his own and it kills him to see her struggle. He knew about her time in the service and about her family when he hired her. But now…”

 

“Now he has gotten to know her and doesn’t like to see her struggle with those demons. We don’t really feel the impact of that kind of shit unless it happens to people we care about.” Waverly supplies.

 

“Did you know, when she first got here and was filling out her paperwork, she didn’t have anyone to put down as an emergency contact? Not a single person.” Chrissy says, feeling for the redheaded officer.

 

“But you have to put someone down. Isn’t that department policy?” Waverly asks.

 

“It is. So when my dad told Gus and Shorty, they signed their names on the paper. They volunteered to be her emergency contacts. They came into the station the next day and signed without hesitation.”

 

Waverly’s heart hurts for Nicole, but it also warms at the thought of Shorty and Gus standing for a woman they barely knew. “Yeah, that sounds like them.” Waverly says, smiling softly.

 

“Yup. Then when Shorty died, Gus changed the paperwork yet again. She had to replace Shorty.” Chrissy says, smiling at Waverly.

 

“Who did she write down?” Waverly asks, genuinely curious.

 

“You, Waves. She put your name down, your phone number and forged your signature on the sheet.” Chrissy says. “She knew you cared about Nicole before you did. Although… I think most of town knew before you were ready to admit it to yourself.“

 

“Of course she did.” Waverly says with a laugh. Looking back, she can’t believe how long it took her to realize Nicole Haught was the love of her life.

 

Shorty’s Saloon: The Day After Shorty’s Wake

 

Nicole walked into the bar with a pink box in one of her hands. She walked straight up to the bar and put the box down on the bar top, pushing it towards Gus. “Good morning Gus. How are you holding up?”

 

“As best as I can Officer. Thank you again for letting us know about the situation. I know you and Nedley did your best.” Gus responds.

 

“I am just sorry we couldn’t do more. (There is a double meaning to that statement, but she doesn’t dwell on the fact that Dolls barred them from doing more.) And Wynonna is the real one people should be thanking. She did all the work. I don’t know her well, but it was obvious that she cared for Shorty. She was a hero yesterday. How are she and Waverly doing? If you don’t mind me asking…”

 

“They are tough girls. It hurts now, but they will get through it.” Gus eyes the box in front of her. “So what brings you in?”

 

“I just thought some comfort food for you and the Earp girls might be nice. I know it always helped me during times of lose. I swung by the bakery and picked up some stuff when I went to get my coffee. There are some powdered sugar donuts in there for Wynonna, a cupcake and a cinnamon roll in there for Waverly, and Mary at the bakery told be you are partial to the bear claws, so there are a few of those in there too.” Nicole says with a smile. She hopes she isn’t overstepping. “Booze normally helps too, but I figured you didn’t need any more of that.”

 

“That is mighty nice of you Officer, thank you. Let me call Waverly out here so she can thank you. I think she is upstairs getting ready. She will really appreciate this.” Gus says, moving to leave the bar top.

 

“No, please Gus. There is no need for that. She doesn’t have to know they are from me. It isn’t a big deal.” Gus nods and Nicole places her Stetson on her head with a grateful and relieved smile. She turns and heads towards the door. She stops a few feet short of the door and turns to Gus. “And Gus. My first name, Nicole. You can call me Nicole. At least when I am off duty or we are alone.”

 

“Sure, Nicole. And thank you for this.” Gus says, gesturing to the donuts. “And your secret is safe with me.”

 

What Nicole didn’t know was that Waverly was standing at the top of the stairs, listening to the entire conversation. She could just make out Gus and Nicole’s figures from that vantage point without being seen. She blushed at the thought of Nicole not wanting her to know it was from her. She was just doing it to make them feel better. She didn’t want anything in return or any recognition.

 

Waverly came downstairs a few minutes after Nicole left Shorty’s. “Hey Gus. Good morning!”

 

“Good morning Darling. There is a cinnamon roll with your name on it in the pink box on the counter.” Gus says nonchalantly

 

“Oh, really? Where did those come from?” Waverly asked, trying to hide her knowing smirk.

 

“The bakery.” Gus responds. Trying to avoid having to lie.

 

“I got that much.” Waverly laughed, enjoying her aunt’s struggling a little too much. “I meant, who got them?”

 

Gus thinks for a moment. “Someone who cares and wants to help, but without recognition.”

 

“Sounds like a pretty great person. Selfless.” Waverly says, picking up the cinnamon roll.

 

Waverly just makes out Gus’ whispered response. “Yes she is.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Good morning baby.” Nicole says as she enters their bedroom. Waverly is awake, but still tucked into bed (the sheets pulled up to her chin).

 

“Hey. My best baby is home.” Waverly responds sleepily. It is six in the morning and Nicole is returning home after a night shift.

 

“I’m sorry. Did I wake you?” Nicole asks as she takes off her uniform and replaces it with a pair of boxers and a sports bra.

 

“No. Not really. I am a light sleeper when you’re not in bed with me.” Waverly says, unashamed.

 

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” Nicole agrees, getting under the covers with Waverly. It isn’t until Waverly rolls into Nicole, that Nicole realizes Waverly isn’t wearing anything under the covers. This isn’t really uncommon anymore. She had taken to sleeping naked for the last few months. Nicole, on the other hand, isn’t as comfortable sleeping in such a state every night (considering it isn’t uncommon for Wynonna to come bursting through the door with an emergency).

 

“I missed you.” Waverly whispers as she places her head on Nicole’s chest.

 

“I missed you too. But at least this is it. That was my last shift before the wedding. I don’t go back to work until the end of the month. That means, I am free to be all yours. Our wedding is in five days and then I have the following two weeks off.”

 

“Ahhhh that sounds good to me.” Waverly comments, lifting the slightest bit to place a kiss on Nicole’s jaw. “By the way, I think you are wearing far too many items of clothing at the moment.”

 

“Want to help me remedy that situation. Like they say: two sets of hands are better than one.”

  


 

 

“You are having a bachelorette party. Both of you are.” Wynonna insists.

 

“I don’t need one.” Nicole argues.

 

“I don’t care.” Wynonna throws back. “Waves is going out tonight. And you are tomorrow night.”

 

“Fine. What do you have in mind?” Nicole asks hesitantly, not sure if she wants to know.

 

“You will just have to wait and see…” Wynonna quips with a mischievous smirk.

 


 

“Your sister is going to kick my ass!” Nicole shouts over the heavy beat of the music. She hasn’t been to Pussy Willows in years. Actually, she has only been here once, and it didn’t end well the first time. “She is going to dump me before she marries me!”

 

“Oh, relax Haughtbride! Enjoy the view!” Wynonna shouts back from her seat across the table. She has a smirk on her face as Nicole struggles to avert her eyes, looking towards the ceiling at times. Wynonna got Nicole a lap dance an hour for the next three hours. Dolls, who is to Nicole’s left, looks almost equally uncomfortable with the woman grinding into him (also Wynonna’s doing). He sends her periodical looks that range from annoyance to embarrassment. She knows Dolls doesn’t have eyes for anyone but her, but that doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy the sight of an uncomfortable Dolls. On Nicole’s left, Liz is enjoying her dance. She shows no signs of embarrassment.

 

“Yeah, listen to her Dallas! Tonight is your last night as a single woman! Enjoy it!” Liz pauses a moment, taking a sip of her beer. Liz flew in this morning so she could partake in the wedding festivities. Nicole is happy she is here for the wedding, but right now, she feels the strong urge to punch her.

 

Once the lap dance is over, Nicole jumps up and heads to the bar. She isn’t going to get through this night sober. “Two shots of tequila and a Jägermeister.” Nicole orders from the bartender. The drinks are put in front of her and she downs them in quick succession. “And a water.” Nicole adds once she finishes.

 

She turns around with her water to see Wynonna giving Dolls a lap dance of her own. He seems much more comfortable with this one. Liz is out of her seat and leaning on the railing near the stage. Nicole approaches her and leans next to her. “Having fun?” She asks.

 

“I am. This kinda reminds me of old times.” Liz responds. “I think the better question is: are you having a good time? This is your party.”

 

“I am just along for the ride…” Nicole cringes. “No pun intended. I think Wynonna just wanted an excuse to drink and party.”

 

“Oh c’mon, you and I used to drag ourselves through the best and worst bars and clubs in the States.” Liz counters, her eyes trained on the dancer performing in front of them.

 

“It’s different now. I haven’t wanted or desired anyone besides Waverly since the moment I met her. I haven’t checked another girl out or anything.” Nicole says, blushing. “She is enough for me.”

 

“Oh god. You are all domesticated and shit. What has she done to my Dallas!” Liz feigns outrage. “But in all seriousness. I am happy for you. I am a little jealous. But I am happy too.”

 

“Why would you be jealous?” Nicole asks, curious.

 

“Because. I see the way you look at Waverly and the way she looks at you. It is something I don’t understand, no one does. It is something only you two seem to get and only with each other. Everyone wishes they had that connection with someone.” Liz says, finally looking away from the woman on the pole. “You have something special Dallas. Don’t fuck it up.”

 

“I will do my best.” Nicole responds, taking a sip of her water.

 

“Haught! Get your sweet ass over here! Ginger here is going to take you to the VIP room for a few minutes!” Wynonna yells from across the room, pointing at a redheaded stripper. Nicole briefly thinks about bolting, but she doesn’t get long enough to decide because Liz is dragging her over there. This is going to be a long ass night.

 


 

After a visit to the VIP room and another lap dance, Nicole is a mess of bottled up tension. She is having fun with Wynonna, Liz and Dolls, but she misses Waverly and it feels wrong to be here like this. She doesn’t want Waverly getting jealous or thinking Nicole needs this before they get married. She has no desire for anyone else and she fears Waverly will think otherwise. She is still thinking about this when Wynonna claps her on the shoulder. She is really drunk and Nicole is surprised she is still vertical. “Haughtstuff, I got one last surprise for you!” Wynonna pulls Nicole up from her seat and leads her to the side room of the strip club. There are three rooms back there. One is the VIP room (a room Nicole would prefer to never be in again). The one next to it is a breakroom for the staff. And the final room is labeled XXX-Private.

 

“Wyn. No. Please no. I don’t want another stripper grinding up against me. You know the only person I want on me is Waverly. I don’t think I can handle another lap dance.” Nicole pleads as Wynonna pulls Nicole into the room labeled XXX-Private.

 

“Trust me Haughtpants. You are gonna like this one. But before you get to know what it is, I have a confession.” Wynonna says, a mischievous smirk on her lips.

 

“What?” Nicole questions dryly, afraid of the answer.

 

“So, Waves refused to do a traditional bachelorette party and we ended up doing a movie marathon with Chrissy last night. That’s all she would let us do...” Wynonna says, a bored expression on her face.

 

“What?!” Nicole exclaims. “Dude, she is going to kill me! And if she didn’t have to, then why are you forcing me too?!”

 

“Let me finish!” Wynonna chides. “So, she and I decided she would rather celebrate with you.” With that, Wynonna shoved Nicole into the room and locked her inside. It takes a moment for her eyes to adjust, but when they do, Nicole sees a very smug Waverly sitting on a couch in the room.

 

“Hi baby.” Waverly says, not moving from her position

 

“Should I start with an apology for the strippers or should I just show my gratitude that you are here?” Nicole asks, trying to gauge the temperature of the room.

 

“Hmmm.” Waverly gets up and walks slowly over to Nicole. “You can start with telling me how much you love me.”

 

Nicole slides her arms around Waverly, pulling her close. “I love you. I love you so much that I would walk on hot coals to get to you. I love you so much that I would fight a thousand demons to protect you. I love you so much that I let your sister drag me to a strip club.” Nicole laughs nervously. “But seriously. I am sorry about the strippers.”

 

“I think their body glitter is going to take a week to come off.” Waverly comments, laughing at the shudder that goes through Nicole. “Baby, don’t worry. I saw how uncomfortable you were out there. It was actually a little entertaining.”

 

“I’m glad you were enjoying my discomfort.” Nicole laughs.

 

“Yeah, but…” Waverly trails off as she pulls Nicole over to the couch. “I figure you should enjoy at least one lap dance tonight. All things considered.” Nicole drops into the couch, a look of shock on her face. She opens her mouth to say something, but it dies in her throat and she remains silent. “Relax, Nic.” Waverly purrs, pushing Nicole to lean back and relax her shoulders. “I promise, you will enjoy this.”

Chapter Text

Waverly presses a button on the stereo system on the wall. Music begins to play and Nicole, for the first time, realizes Waverly is dressed in the exact same outfit as the first time they met. Those blue shorts and that tight, white shirt still look amazing on her. Although, Nicole thinks, that shirt used to cover her midsection before and it used to not show nearly this much cleavage (not that she is complaining). A remix of Talking Body by Tove Lo comes on. Waverly slowly stalks over to Nicole, eyeing her with heavy, lusting eyes. It takes all of Nicole’s willpower and self-control to resist the urge to pull Waverly on to her. Once she is right in front of Nicole, she takes both of Nicole’s hands in hers and raises them up. She slides on to Nicole’s lap at an agonizing pace. She never breaks the intense eye contact with Nicole. Nicole’s face is pleased, but also holds an intensity that she rarely exhibits. Waverly thrusts into Nicole’s pelvis, still holding Nicole’s hands up. She feels Nicole’s hands tense at the contact. She grinds into Nicole again and again, keeping with the base of the song. Soon, Waverly releases her grip on Nicole’s hands in favor of the back of her neck. Nicole’s hands immediately go down to Waverly’s ass, cupping her and pulling her deeper into each thrust. Waverly’s breasts move to press into Nicole’s face with each one of those deep thrusts. Nicole breathes in everything that is Waverly. Her touch, her smell, the way her breath hitches when Nicole arches up to meet her thrusts. Her hands slide from the bottom of Waverly’s ass to her lower back, wanting to touch her everywhere, but not wanting her to stop her performance. Waverly bends forwards and leans in so her lips brush across Nicole’s neck. The feeling of Waverly’s breath makes Nicole shudder in anticipation. But before things can progress further, Waverly is lifting off Nicole and standing in front of her again.

 

“Waves…” Nicole breathes in a quiet protest. She needs Waverly to be touching her, she needs to be touching Waverly.

 

Before Nicole can say more, Waverly is pulling her from the couch and sitting her in a chair that is near one of the walls. Nicole sits down, fighting the urge to pull Waverly down to kiss her. Waverly turns away from Nicole and lowers herself down. She is grinding into her fiancé’s lap, still not missing a beat. Nicole hands drift to Waverly’s bare thighs, up to her jeans shorts clad hips. She pulls Waverly deeper into her as the grinding quickens with the beat of the track playing. Waverly’s ass moves up and down into Nicole’s pelvis, legs spread wide. Purposefully leaning down more than is necessary, Waverly gives Nicole a view that drives her to the point of fidgeting. Waverly turns around once again, running a hand through Nicole’s hair as she straddles her on the chair. She has yet to kiss Nicole and the teasing is driving Nicole crazy. She shamelessly chases Waverly’s lips, almost ready to beg if necessary. Finally, Waverly allows their lips to connect. It isn’t your typical kiss. It is full of tongue and teeth. It is hungry and insistent. It exemplifies the desire that is burning inside both of them. Waverly leans her whole body into Nicole’s, wrapping an arm around Nicole’s neck, allowing her to indulge in some of the burning temptation. What Waverly isn’t expecting is Nicole’s almost immediate reaction. Nicole’s hands reach down, firmly grasping her ass. From her sitting position, Nicole stands, pulling Waverly up with her and holding her up. Waverly instinctually wraps her legs around Nicole’s hips, neither breaking their kiss. Nicole smiles into the kiss as a surprised gasp escapes Waverly’s lips. Nicole turns and sits back down on the chair, but now, Waverly is pinned on her lap between Nicole’s chest and the chair. They continue to kiss, Nicole slowly slipping Waverly so she is now sitting on the chair. Nicole turns her head, breaks the contact of their lips and immediately starts in on Waverly’s neck. She lifts Waverly’s leg to hook over her hip as she grinds herself into Waverly’s center. Waverly moans. Oh, how the tables have turned. This last for a little while, Nicole enjoying the sounds Waverly is making almost as much as the feeling of grinding into her fiancé. She pulls up so she is standing straight legged. She has a smirk on her face, but even that can’t hide the desire in her eyes. She pulls Waverly to her feet and pulls her over to a wall. Pinning Waverly between her and the wall, Nicole grinds into her as Waverly’s hands run up to cup Nicole’s breasts. It doesn’t take long for their desire to take over and Nicole is picking Waverly up once again. Waverly back against the wall, Nicole pressing into her tightly, they both just look at each other. They don’t beak eye contact as they try and catch their breaths.

 

“Wow.” Nicole breaths out once she seems to have regained at least some of her bearings.

 

“Good?” Waverly asks, just as breathless.

 

“Are you kidding me? I have never…” Nicole kisses Waverly. “Ever…” Another kiss. “Enjoyed a lap dance so much in my life.”

 

“I have to agree. I didn’t know you could move like that. You kind of turned the tables on me a little bit.” Waverly says. She is struggling to catch her breath and stop the pulsing in her core.

 

“Glad it wasn’t all one-sided then.” Nicole says with a smirk.

 

She slowly lowers Waverly down so her feet are back on the ground. They kiss and embrace one another, never wanting to let go. The sound of a shout coming from the main room of the club brings them back to reality. Waverly looks down, blushing, as an embarrassed giggle escapes her. Nicole uses one finger and tilts her chin back up to meet their lips again. They both love when the other does that move with the chin. It is always a mixture of reassuring and sexy.

 

“Although I would love to stay in here with you, we should probably get back out there.” Waverly says, returning the kiss before pulling away.

 

“Probably, we should also make sure Liz and Wynonna aren’t harassing any strippers. Wouldn’t want them getting ruffed up by some bouncer.” Nicole adds with a laugh and a smile that makes Waverly melt.

 

Waverly takes Nicole’s hand in hers and they exit the room.

 


 

“No, no, no. That is not happening. Sorry, not sorry.” Wynonna says.

 

They have just gotten out of Pussy Willows and are now heading for the cars.

 

“What?” Waverly asks, confused. She looks up at Nicole (who is still holding her hand) hoping for an explanation. Nicole just grimaces and shakes her head.

 

“You two are not sleeping together tonight. We have to keep some traditions going.” Wynonna orders. “Let’s go Haught! You, Liz and Dolls are all staying at Gus’ tonight. Wave and I will be at the Homestead.”

 

“Nonna!” Waverly starts to protest.

 

“Hey.” Nicole says before Waverly can really start. “It’s okay. I do like the idea of keeping some traditions alive. Although I can’t really imagine leaving you right now, I know your sister is right about this.” Nicole kisses Waverly on the lips passionately. “I love you Waverly Earp.”

 

“Not going to be able to call me that for much longer, Officer Haught.” Waverly says, smiling at Nicole.

 

“No matter what, you will always be my Waverly. You will always be my Waverly Earp.” Nicole says, looking down at her fiancé. Wynonna clears her throat. “I love you, but I got to go before your sister does something.”

 

“Go, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Waverly says with a playful shove. “And Nic,” Nicole turns to look at Waverly. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

“Dude, you look haught.” Wynonna says as she enters. “No pun intended this time.”

 

“Thanks, Wyn.” Nicole responds, rolling her eyes. She is in the guest bedroom in Gus’ house with Liz. They are both dressed and ready for the wedding. Wynonna just walked in to see if everything was still on schedule. “You don’t look too bad yourself.”

 

“Ha, your jealous. I look fantastic.” Wynonna states, unable to hide her laugh and smile.

 

“Sure, sure.” Nicole says, looking back at the mirror. She is in her Marine Corps uniform. She made a compromise and decided to take photos with her unit a couple hours before the wedding. They are all having lunch before the ceremony. So, she is going to wear the uniform before the ceremony (during lunch) and then the tux for the actual ceremony. She fidgets with the buttons in the mirror. Today is a happy day. Even this uniform can’t change that. She takes a deep breath and turns to Liz (who is also in uniform). “You ready?”

 

“Yes Captain. By your lead.” Liz responds with a smile. They all exit the room and head for the backyard.

 


 

“Wow Nicole, you look amazing in uniform. I get the appeal.” Chrissy comments as she looks at Nicole. They are all standing around in Gus’ backyard. Food is being served and everyone is talking to one another. Gus is with Waverly and Wynonna, talking with Green, Gibbs and Jenny (Gibbs’ girl). Liz is talking with Doc and Dolls. Nedley and Chrissy are standing on the porch with Nicole.

 

Nicole laughs and blushes a little. “I’ll take that as a good thing.”

 

“It is.” Chrissy confirms, smiling at Nicole.

 

Nicole glances at Nedley. As much as she hates to admit it, his approval means a lot to her.

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Nedley huffs, understanding Nicole’s look. “You know how proud I am. I am not gonna say it out loud kid.” He says, giving her a small smile.

 

“Yeah.” Nicole says, smile growing the slightest bit.

 

“So, you nervous?” Chrissy asks genuinely.

 

“You know…” Nicole contemplates it. “No. I have been waiting years to marry Waves. She is my everything. The wedding is just a piece of paper. The marriage and the life we continue after today, that’s what matters.”

 

“God! Wynonna is right. You are such a bumper sticker. ESPECIALLY when you talk about Waverly.” Chrissy exclaims.

 

“Guilty.” Nicole doesn’t argue, blushing yet again. She looks down at her feet and then back up at Chrissy and Nedley. “Alright, well I need to go make sure Gibbs and Green are not spoiling my good name.”

 

“Go. Those boys need supervision.” Nedley jokes.

 


 

“She ate it.” Gibbs declares to the three Earp women. “Hard.”

 

“She jumped ten feet down to save this knucklehead’s ass, is what she did.” Green corrects, bumping Gibbs in the shoulder. “If she hadn’t, you would still be there crying your eyes out.”

 

“I would not cry!” Gibbs exclaims, puffing out is chest mockingly. All three Earp women laugh at the two men. They understand why Nicole gets along so well with them. Gibbs is kind of a younger (and male) version of Nicole. And Green is like an older brother to all. They all start laughing just as Nicole starts to walk over to them. Waverly smiles a little wider, knowing Nicole is coming over, but her smile falters just a bit when Nicole stops walking and looks down at her ringing phone. Nicole looks at it intensely before pulling it up to her ear and walking towards the side of the house. She grabs Liz by the arm without a word and they both disappear for about thirty seconds. Then they emerge, smiles on their faces as they talk animatedly about something. Nicole continues where she left off and starts over to Waverly and their group.

 

“Hey.” Nicole greets as she comes up behind Green and Gibbs. She elbow nudges them both before saying. “Don’t believe a thing these two say.”

 

“What if it’s all good things?” Gus asks.

 

“Like I said.” Nicole insists with a sarcastic smirk. She moves around the group and wraps her arms around Waverly from behind. “I was thinking, [directing her attention to her unit members] if we want this wedding to start on time, we need to take pictures before I change out of uniform.”

 

“Yes Ma’am.” Gibbs replies.

 

“Let’s do it Cap.” Green follows up.

 


 

Nicole stands with her unit for the first photo. Gibbs is to Nicole’s left. Liz is on Nicole’s right. And Green is on the other end (to Liz’s right). The first photo is all smiles. Then Gibbs says something and they all burst into laughter. Nicole goes to grab him but Liz stops her from behind, almost losing her grip because of her own laughing. Green just laughs and leans over with one hand planted on his knee. Gibbs is taunting Nicole, while also trying to control his laughter. Another picture is taken. Nicole escapes from Liz and launches into Gibbs, both laughing uncontrollably as Nicole pulls him into a bear hug that makes him squeal. Another photo taken.

 

“Okay you two! Don’t kill each other! Nicole has to be in one piece to get married!” Gibbs’ girlfriend/ fiancé shouts with a laugh.

 

“No promises!” Nicole and Gibbs respond in unison, making everyone laugh.

 


 

“Okay, my turn Haught.” Wynonna says, walking up to Nicole to take a picture. Nicole holds out a customary hand and Wynonna takes it without hesitation. They turn to face the camera and smile. The pictures are taken and Nicole lets Wynonna’s hand drop but neither move to walk away.

 

“Want to do a fun one?” Nicole asks her.

 

“Of course.” Wynonna responds with a knowing smirk.

 

Next thing anyone knows, Wynonna is grabbing two bottles of beers and handing one to Nicole. Right as the photo is taken, the two women go back to back and tip their bottles back. One disapproving look from Gus and then they are both bursting into laughter, leaning on one another, bottles now on the ground. Another picture.

 

“Okay, you are a bad influence. Get outta here girl. My turn to take a photo with Nicole.” Gus scolds, hip checking Wynonna out of the way. Nicole takes a couple photos with Gus and a few others until the only one left is Waverly. Nicole holds out a hand to Waverly as she steps forward. Waverly ducks her head, trying to hide her blush.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole is in a trance as Gus walks Waverly down the aisle. She can’t take her eyes off the stunning woman in front of her. It all becomes real in this moment. They are getting married. And Nicole couldn’t be happier.

 

Their vows bring everyone to tears. Waverly goes first.

 

“Nicole. There are not enough words in any language to express how grateful I am to have you in my life. It isn’t an exaggeration when I say you flipped my world upside down when you sauntered into Shorty’s that morning. You made me question everything. I started to see changes in myself, just by being around you. I was more self-confident, I stopped trying to be the person others expected me to be. I just started being myself for the first time in my life. And these changes didn’t come about because you wanted me to change. They happened because I felt comfortable enough with you to show you the real me. I wanted you to know the real me.  In the beginning, I told you that you scared me. I told you about all the things that scare me. And I explained that I wanted to do all those things because they scared me. Getting married to you scares me the most. More than anything else in my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Nicole looks down at their joined hands for a long moment before raising to look into Waverly’s eyes.

 

“Waverly. From the moment our paths crossed, you have surprise me, distracted me, captivated me, and challenged me in ways that no human being ever has. I’ve fallen in love with you again and again, countless times, without reservation, and I still can’t believe that today I get to marry you. I promise to be true to you, to uplift and support you, to frustrate and challenge you, and to share the beautiful moments of life with you. No matter what problems we encounter, I know that we will always find strength in one another, and that we will continue to grow together. I believe in the truth of what we are and the truth is that I will love you always, with every beat of my heart. It is now a part of who I am. You are a part of me that I could never live without and wouldn’t ever want to. I love you Waverly Earp and I promise that will never change.”

 

Doc begins speaking again (only after whipping a stray tear from his eye). “Wedding rings are a symbol of commitment and love. The rings are circular, like their love, with no beginning and no end. They represent what has been and what will always be. They are made of solid, sturdy material which is meant to survive years and years of hand-holding, washing dishes, tennis and tender caresses. Or in this lovely couple’s case, gun firing, cuff closing and other general heroically natured activities.” Doc says (going off script at the end there). “Couples wear their wedding rings every day as a symbol of their love.” Nicole and Waverly place their wedding bands on either one’s finger, smiling through happy tears. “It has been my honor to officiate your ceremony on this fine day. And now I get to say something you’ve all been looking forward to hearing for a long time. By the powers vested in me by the province of Alberta, I now pronounce you married. You may kiss your bride.” Doc officiated the ceremony flawlessly and when they kiss to seal their matrimony, the rest of the world fades away.

Chapter Text

“Marriage looks good on you Ma’am.” Gibbs says with a jab of his elbow. This earns him a jab from Jenny.

 

Nicole laughs and looks over to the other side of the yard. Waverly is sitting with Gus and Chrissy. “Yeah, well I got to marry the most amazing woman in the world. Not much I can complain about.”

 

“Want another beer?” Gibbs asks Nicole as he moves to walk inside.

 

“Nah, I am good.” She responds, letting the couple depart. She decides she could use a bathroom break to wash her hands and heads inside the house. She is about to enter the downstairs bathroom when a voice stops her.

 

“You okay?” Liz asks.

 

Nicole startles a little but recovers quickly. “Yes, I am. I’m really happy. Why? Are you okay?”

 

“Mind getting a drink with me?” Liz asks, hopeful.

 

“Of course. Just give me a second.”

 


 

They stand on the deck, looking out at the guests mingling around. They each have a beer in hand, but neither are drinking. “So…” Nicole breaks the silence. “What’s up?”

 

“I just want to make sure you really are okay. I want to make sure you aren’t lying to spare the rest of us. You can be honest with me Dallas. I can take it.” Liz looks at her drink. “You have been through a lot, especially over the last couple months. I will understand if life is difficult to deal with.”

 

“Liz, today, I am happy. I feel free and safe. And most days, I am happy with my life. There are days where life gets particularly… difficult. But that is only temporary. I remind myself of who I am. I remind myself of my life. For the first time in my life, I have someone (many someone’s actually) worth fighting for. I have a family. I have a family and friends that I care about. I have you back in my life and Gibbs and Green. My life isn’t perfect. I know that. But neither am I. All I need in life are the people here in this yard. This is all I need to be happy.”

 

Liz seems to chew on Nicole’s answer. “Good.” She responds. Then she gets a smirk on her face. “So, I know it is a little early, but I have to ask: Are you planning on having any kids with Waverly?”

 

“Part of me feels like you have been waiting forever to ask me that?” Nicole states with a smile. Her suspicions are confirmed when Liz gives an excited squeal. “But to answer your question. I hope so. Part of me is scared. I have seen the worst of what humanity is capable of. As a deputy, I see horrible things happening every day. I can’t imagine bringing a life into the world and then having to watch them go through pain. It scares me a little bit.”

 

“Those feelings will pass. Eventually. You will never stop worrying, but the fear will become less pressing.” Liz says confidently. She takes a swig from her beer and then looks at Nicole cautiously. “Do you still think about Laura? Like, when you think about starting a family?”

 

Nicole pauses. Then she quietly, yet firmly responds. “Every day.” She takes a swig. “I think about her every day. But she is also one of the reasons I keep fighting. I won’t let what happened to her and her mother be meaningless. I am here today in part because of knowing that little girl.” Nicole looks at her friend. “Why are you asking me all of this right now?”

 

“Because of the phone call. Because I don’t want your fear of the future to stop you from living the life you deserve. I don’t want what’s going on to stop you from the happiness you so deserve.” Liz says.

 

“Thank you.” Nicole says. She wraps her arm around Liz. “I appreciate it.”

 


 

“Wyn, that is not going to happen.” Nicole argues playfully.

 

“Why not?” Wynonna whines.

 

“Because I have better things to do with my free time.” Nicole counters, pulling Waverly impossibly closer in her arms. “So, if you don’t mind? I need to steal my beautiful wife for just a few minutes.”

 

“No funny business Haught-and-bothered!” Wynonna shouts.

 

All that earns her is a discrete middle finger from Waverly and a funny face from Nicole. Nicole leads Waverly into the house.

 

“What are we doing?” Waverly ask with a giggle, never letting go on Nicole’s hand.

 

“I thought I would get my journal entry out of the way for the day, but I think this one is reserved just for your ears.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly on the cheek. Nicole leads her upstairs and into Waverly’s old bedroom. They sit on the bed and Nicole pulls out a journal from the box in the closet. She opens to a page and begins to read.

 

April 21th, 2019

So today I am getting married. I think that is crazy all by itself. Then add in that I am marrying Waverly Earp. Holy shit. I am so in love with the woman. She makes me feel things that I have never felt before. She makes me feel things I don’t completely understand, and probably never will. I wrote my vows, but they don’t say everything I want her to know. Some things I think should stay just between us. So here they are:

 

Waverly Earp, you make me absolutely crazy. I love you, but you do and it makes me feel all the joy the world can offer. You chose me. To stand by my side and sleep in my arms. To bring joy to my heart and be food for my soul. To learn with me and grow with me, even as time and life changes us both. I promise to laugh with you in good times and struggle alongside you in bad times. I promise to respect you and cherish you as an individual, a partner, and an equal, knowing that we do not complete, but complement each other. I promise to always respect your choice of music in the car when you are driving. If you are not driving however... I promise not to make fun of the way you pack... or second-guess your packing skills. Even if you shove things in the back of the car willy-nilly without considering how everything might fit. I promise to love you, respect you, support you, and above all else, make sure I'm not just yelling at you because I'm hungry. I promise to give you sleepy kisses in the morning and cuddle you when you get cold at night. I promise that we will have many adventures and many amazing memories. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences. From the moment we met, I was yours and I am devoted to you in every way. I marry you with no hesitation or doubt, and my commitment to you is absolute. On January 8th, 2019, you agreed to marry me. That was the happiest day of my life... well, maybe except today.

 

Waverly looks at Nicole once she closes the journal and puts it down. Nicole speaks first. “I love you Waverly. You are my everything. There are so many feeling I have that I can’t explain. The words haven’t even been invented yet. But I want you to know, I know I am not an easy person to be with. I know I can be difficult and frustrating. But I love you and I will do everything in my power to prove that I am worth it. I am worth your love. I am worth your compassion. I don’t deserve you, I don’t. But I am committed to becoming someone deserving. I want to be better. I want to be better for you. I will fight to be better and be deserving of you and your love.”

 

Waverly leans in and kisses Nicole. She pulls away just long enough to whisper, “You are worth everything.” The kiss gets more heated. “You are my everything Nicole Haught. Your everything.” They continue to kiss until a knock on the door breaks them apart.

Chapter Text

“Let’s go lovebirds!” Wynonna shouts from the other side of the door.

 

“Nonna!” Waverly exclaims. She takes off her shoe and throws it at the door.

 

“Haught, you better not be defiling my baby sister in there!” Wynonna shouts again, ignoring Waverly’s protest. Wynonna opens the door just as the second shoe comes flying in the direction of the door. She narrowly misses, and gives her sister a smirk when she rights herself. “Good. Both of you are fully clothed. C’mon. You have guests to entertain. They all want to spend time with you before you leave.”

 


 

They spend the next couple hours with their family and friends. They talk, eat and drink more. Everyone is having a good time. It is about four in the afternoon when Gus taps Nicole on the shoulder. “Hey, it’s time to go. Wouldn’t want you two missing your flight.” She says.

 

“Thanks Gus.” Nicole says. She walks over and lets Waverly know they should get going.

 

“Waverly gives her a peck on the lips, a smile forming on her face. “So, now are you going to tell me where we are going?” Waverly asks Nicole. Chrissy gives Nicole a knowing smile. She chuckles and paces a reassuring hand on Waverly’s arm.

 

“Your wife knows you well. I promise, you will love it.” Chrissy says. She and Waverly hug tightly before Chrissy moves on to Nicole. “You take care of her Nicole.” They hug as well and Nicole doesn’t miss how her body feels relaxed in the embrace.

 

“I will.”

 

They make their rounds, saying goodbye’s and accepting congratulations. By the time they make it to the driveway of Gus’s house, they have said goodbye to everyone except Gus and Wynonna (who are both standing next to Nicole’s truck).

 

Gus steps towards them and gathers Waverly into a hug. She kisses the top of her head and looks at her with the softest of looks. “I love you Darling. Have fun. Be safe.” She says. She turns her attention to Nicole. They hug and Gus whispers into Nicole’s ear. “I am so proud of you.”

 

Nicole knows this is about more than just marrying Waverly. It’s about fighting to come back to her. It’s about bringing her a type of happiness that Gus has never seen. It is about all of this and so much more. “Thank you, Gus. For helping me get here. For everything.” Nicole whispers back. They break their embrace and their voices return to a normal volume so Waverly and Wynonna can both hear.

 

“I would say welcome to the family, but it is quite obvious you have been a part of it for a long time now.” Gus jokes. “Take care of my girl.”

 

“You know I will. But I don’t think she is the one you should be worrying about.” Nicole laughs. This earns her a playful elbow from Waverly.

 

Gus heads to the porch and joins the other guests, leaving Nicole and Waverly with Wynonna. “Okay Haughtwife. I am obligated to give you the protective big sister speech.” Wynonna starts. “I know you love my sister and I know she loves you. So, don’t ever treat her with any less respect and love than she deserves. Yes, my baby sister is a grown woman and can make her own decisions, but if you hurt her Haught so help me, there won’t be a place on Earth you can hide from me. I love you both but, Nicole if you hurt my baby girl, best friend or not, I will kill you.” She pulls Nicole into a bone crushing hug and then releases her to hug Waverly and kiss her forehead. “I love you both. Have fun, be safe, and don’t do anything I would do.” All three women start to laugh. Waverly pulls her sister into another hug, wiping her tears as she does. Nicole smiles at the moment before her. Nicole opens the door to the truck and helps Waverly inside. Nicole closes the door and moves to get in on the driver’s side. Wynonna’s hand on her arm stops her from getting in. “Please take care of her Nicole. “

 

“I promise I will. I will text you updates and we will facetime you once we get settled.” Nicole responds. She pulls Wynonna in for a quick hug before getting into the packed truck. She turns the key in the ignition and drives away. Wynonna walks back to the porch to join the others as they wave goodbye. She feels small tears well up in her eyes. Dolls wraps an arm around her as Gus takes one of her hands. She never thought it would be this hard to say goodbye.

 


 

“So, are you at least going to tell me what city we are going to?” Waverly pleads.

 

Nicole gives her a roguish grin but caves. “San Diego.”

 

“California?!” Waverly exclaims in excitement. Nicole nods her head. “I have never been out of the country. I have barely been out of the triangle.”

 

“I know, that’s why I thought it would be great to travel a little.” Nicole says, laughing at Waverly’s excitement.

 

“I love you Nicole Haught. You know that? You are amazing.” Waverly praises, leaning over to place a long kiss on Nicole’s cheek. Nicole just laughs. And shakes her head. “Wait? I don’t even have a passport.”

 

“Wynonna, Gus and I got you one.” Nicole takes out three passports. And hands one to Waverly. She opens it and sees her photo inside and all her information. She smiles and notices the other two that Nicole had pulled out. She had placed them on the center console once she had given Waverly hers. She grabbed both of them and looked at the covers. They both have similar coloring but the designs on the front are different. One is for the United States and one is for Canada. She opens them both and sees both are Nicole’s.

 

“Why do you have two and how did you even get a Canadian passport.” Waverly asks. The Canadian passport looks brand new.

 

“Well…” Nicole reaches into her backpack and pulls out an envelope. Without taking her eyes off the road, she hands Waverly the envelope. It is addressed to Nicole and is already opened. Waverly takes out the papers inside and reads them.

 

“Oh, my God. Nicole! You became a Canadian citizen?”

 

“Technically, I am a dual citizen. But yes, I am now a Canadian citizen.” Nicole says with a smile. “I figured my home is with you in Purgatory. I never want that to be threatened.” Nicole pauses. “And soon, if you want, you will be a dual citizen too.”

 

“What?” Waverly asks.

 

“Waves, you married an American. That entitles you to American citizenship. But only if you want it.” Nicole says.

 

“Nic, this is amazing!” Waverly exclaims. They pull into the airport parking lot and get out. Nicole pulls out two large suitcases, two duffel bags and two backpacks. Nicole takes her back pack and puts it on, throwing one of the duffel bags over her shoulder. She then takes Waverly’s duffel bag and puts it on top of her own suitcase. Waverly puts her backpack on and grabs her own suitcase. Nicole is carrying her duffel bag so she has one free hand and utilizes the advantage. She takes a picture of them in front of the airport sign.

 

They check their suitcases and duffels with their airline and move to go through security with their backpacks. By the time they are at their boarding terminal, they have a little under an hour before they are supposed to start boarding. Nicole and Waverly take seats near their gate. “Waves, want something to eat or drink? Coffee?”

 

“Um… coffee would be nice. Thanks baby.” Waverly responds.

 

“Okay. I’ll be back in a little bit.” Nicole says, leaning down and kissing Waverly before walking towards the little café in the terminal.

 


 

“This is the first boarding call for American Airlines flight 8155. Non-stop to San Diego.” A voice says over the speaker.

 

“That’s us.” Nicole says, getting up and grabbing her and Waverly’s bags. Nicole handed Waverly her boarding pass and they boarded without issue. They take their seats, Nicole giving Waverly the window seat, and prepare for takeoff. As they listen and watch the in case of emergency video, Nicole takes out a pack of gum and hands it to Waverly. Waverly gives her a questioning look. “It will help with your ears. I doubt you will have any issues, but it doesn’t hurt. Want a piece?” Nicole explains.

 

“Sure.” Waverly says, taking a piece of gum and popping it into her mouth.

 

“Are you nervous?” Nicole asks, taking Waverly’s hand in hers.

 

“Waverly looks down at their joined hands and replies “Nope. As long as you are here, I only feel excitement.” She squeezes Nicole’s hand. “Plus, I like doing things that scare me.” She adds with a wink. Nicole chuckles and returns her attention to the video.

 

They take off and Waverly grips Nicole’s hand tight. She never takes her eyes off the window though. She looks out at all the lights and how the setting sun paints the land below with beautiful colors. Nicole laughs at the look of pure awe on Waverly’s face. Once they are up in the air and allowed to do so, Nicole pulls out her iPad and a pair of headphones. They each take one and Nicole puts on a movie. Flight attendants come around and pass out little bags of food and complementary drinks. They sit, hand in hand and watch the movie. By the time the movie ends, the pilot is announcing for everyone to take their seats and prepare for landing. They land and deplane with ease and head to baggage claim to retrieve their bags. A car is waiting for them on the curb and the driver loads their bags in the trunk. He hands Nicole the keys and she hands him a tip in return. Nicole gets into the driver’s seat after opening Waverly’s door to help her into the passenger seat. They drive out of the airport and Waverly looks out the window with curiosity. It is dark outside, but the lights of the city bring it to life and there are people walking around them. She turns to look at Nicole, who is smiling as she drives through, what Waverly assumes to be, downtown San Diego. Waverly notices Nicole isn’t using a GPS or directions.

 

“Do you know where you are going?” She asks.

 

Nicole’s smile grows. “Yeah.” She laughs. “Remember I told you that I used to spend my summers with my aunt because it was too hot in Dallas?”

 

Waverly nods her head but then realizes Nicole is driving and can’t see her. “Yeah?”

 

“Well, my aunt lived here in San Diego. I spent every summer and winter break here from third grade until end of high school.” Nicole smiles wide at the memory.

 

“You love it here, don’t you?” Waverly asks, although she already knows the answer because of the look on Nicole’s face.

 

“I do. But it is even more special because I get to share it with you. This city has so much to offer. Beautiful beaches, amazing hiking trails, tons of museums and more culture than most states.” Nicole says.

 

“So, are you going to give me a tour of this city?” Waverly asks with a smirk.

 

“Its better in daylight.” Nicole responds with a laugh. “I was thinking I could show you where we are staying.”

 

“Sounds great.”

 


 

They drive for about thirty minutes before they stop in front of a house. Waverly gets out of the car and she can hear the sounds of the ocean. Nicole rounds on her and picks her up. Laughing at the excited and surprised squeal that escapes from Waverly. She holds onto Nicole as they enter the two-story house. Nicole puts her down and Waverly’s eyes go wide as she takes it all in. The house is beautiful. Actually, that’s an understatement. But that about as much as she can comprehend at the moment. It is only feet from the sand of the beach and has an unobstructed view. The furniture and décor of the house is modern, yet comfortable. The wall facing the ocean is made of glass.

 

“I’ll let you look around the place while I get the bags.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly on the cheek before going back outside. Waverly walks around the bottom floor. There is a spacious kitchen, a living room with a large flat screen TV and couch (along with a pool table and several giant bean bag chairs), a master bedroom (equipped with a king-sized bed, another TV, and a large bathroom). She ascends the stairs from the living room and heads to the top floor. She is met with the pleasant breeze. The top floor is open air and gives you the best view of the ocean and surrounding areas. Up here, there is a hot tub, a grill, a mini-fridge and several outdoor chairs and couches. By the time Waverly comes back down stairs, Nicole has all their bags inside and the car locked. “What do you think?” She asks as Waverly descends the stairs.

 

“Oh my god Nicole. This place is amazing!” Waverly replies.

 

“I am glad you like it because it is going to be our home for the next twelve days.” Nicole says, pulling Waverly into her embrace. “Fun fact: No one has the house next to us reserved so we are actually the only ones on the street for the majority of our stay.”

 

Waverly giggles and she pulls down Nicole for a sultry kiss.

Chapter Text

Waverly jumps and Nicole easily catches her, holding her tightly to her as she walks them towards the bedroom. They make it there with little issue and minimal bumping. They both gasp and giggle when Nicole unceremoniously drops Waverly onto the bed. Waverly leans back up and pulls Nicole down with her, connecting their lips once again. Nicole crawls up Waverly, not wanting to break their kiss as Waverly lies back down. They don’t stay in this position long though. Soon, Waverly is using her strong core to flip them over so she is now on top. Nicole sits up on the bed and Waverly moves to straddle her waist. Waverly breaks the kiss, pressing her forehead to Nicole’s. They stay in that position for a long moment, just breathing in each other. Waverly leans back into her lips and kisses Nicole gently. Nicole follows her lips, deepening the kiss, her tongue teasing Waverly’s lower lip. Waverly moans softly, opening to grant Nicole’s tongue entrance. Her own tongue does the same. Luckily for them, they had changed into more comfortable clothing before leaving Purgatory. It made getting undressed so much easier. Waverly has Nicole’s shirt off as well as her own before either of them say a word.

 

“I love you.” Nicole moans as Waverly’s hands unclasp her bra and it falls below. Waverly makes quick work of tossing it off the bed to join their discarded shirts.

 

“I love you.” Waverly says in response before latching her mouth on to Nicole’s neck. A small gasp leaves Waverly when Nicole swiftly takes the brunette’s bra off and it hits the floor. “I want you.” Waverly almost begs as she pushes Nicole back to lay down.

 

“All that I am is yours.” Nicole responds. “Tell me what else you want.”

 

“I want you to take my shorts off.” Waverly says with a husky tone. Nicole doesn’t need to be told twice and she easily unbuttons and pulls off Waverly’s shorts with practiced ease (taking Waverly’s panties with them). “And yours too.” Waverly adds. Again, Nicole has her bottoms off and is kissing Waverly with a passion that Waverly has never felt before.

 

“What else?” Nicole asks, running her hands up Waverly’s, now, completely naked form. Only breaking their kisses to take quick breaths for air.

 

“God, Nicole I want you inside me.” Waverly rasps, her eyes closed tight as she tries to control the heat growing in her center.

 

Nicole slowly runs her fingers down Waverly’s body, causing the smaller woman to shudder when the fingers touch sensitive areas. Nicole can feel the heat radiating off Waverly and it makes her hungry to feel her wife cum around her. She slowly lets her fingers glide through Waverly’s wet folds, pausing as Waverly’s entrance before sliding back through the wetness. Nicole can feel what her teasing is doing to Waverly and if her wife’s increasingly tightening grip on the bed sheets is anything to go by, Waverly is already so close.

 

“Baby. Please don’t tease.” Waverly all but whimpers. She thrust her hips towards Nicole’s hand, trying to find purchase. The action only adds to her growing desire and leaves her in even more of a state of frustration. “Fuck me. Please baby. Make love to me.”

 

Nicole doesn’t even hesitate. Who is she to deny Waverly.

 


 

Waverly wakes up first the next morning. She can still feel the slick sweat on their bodies from the multiple impromptu orgasms that happened throughout the night. They could seem to keep their hands off one another, not that either of them wanted to anyways. Waverly shifts so she can look at Nicole’s face. Through the mess of red locks, Waverly can see her wife’s small smile on her sleeping face. It brings a wide smile to Waverly’s own face. Nicole is even smiling in her sleep.

 

As if feeling eyes watching her, Nicole wakes and (after a moment of letting her eyes adjust) she looks down and meets Waverly’s eyes. “Good morning.” She says.

 

“It certainly is.” Waverly responds, leaning up on her elbow to kiss Nicole properly. “So, what are we up to today?” Waverly asks as she breaks the kiss.

 

“Well personally, I would love to stay in bed all day and continue what we did last night… and this morning…” Nicole mutters, only half joking. Waverly laughs and pecks Nicole on the lips. “Actually, I was thinking we could get ready and hit up North County San Diego for a few hours, then head back here and spend some time on the beach.”

 

“That sounds amazing.” Waverly says. She gets up and walks her naked self over to the bathroom. “I am gonna shower and get ready.” She turns to look at Nicole. “Maybe you should join me, I hear there is a drought here in California. It’s better to take one shower, rather than two.”

 

“Well.” Nicole smirks. “In the name of water preservation and saving the Earth…”

 


 

“I am so glad you got Chrissy to pack my bags as opposed to Wynonna.” Waverly comments, going through the clothes in her bag.

 

“Yeah, I knew better than to trust Wynonna with that. I got Chrissy to pack your clothes and I packed the bathing suits, undergarments and toiletries.” Nicole says. “Although, there are some really cool shops and malls here so you might be inclined to buy stuff here as well.”

 

“I look forward to it.” Waverly says, walking up to Nicole and pressing her towel clad body into Nicole.

 

“If you don’t stop, we are never going to get out of here.” Nicole says with a small laugh. “And although I would love nothing else, I think you will really like what we see today.”

 

“Fine.” Waverly huffs with mock aggravation. She walks back to her clothes and pulls out what she needs. She turns to look at Nicole. “But for the record…” Waverly looks Nicole up and down. “I already like what I see.”

 

Nicole blushes hard and has to walk out of the room before she jumps Waverly and then they would never leave. She chuckles and wipes her hand over her red face as she walks into the living room.

 


 

Driving down Highway 101, Nicole pulls over and gets a parking spot in front of a small breakfast joint. They get out and eat their shares of pancakes and eggs. They each get a cup of coffee at a local shop before Nicole walks them down the main street. They stop at a self-realization fellowship garden. It is beautiful. There is lush plant life, koi ponds everywhere and at the top, there are several lookout spots. From the lookout (which sits near the edge of the cliff), all you can see is ocean. It is simply stunning. Waverly walks around, hand in hand with Nicole, as they explore the meditation gardens. They find a nook near one of the beautiful ponds and sit down on a bench. It is peacefully quiet here. The only sounds are of the water from the ponds flowing, the crashing waves below the cliff side and the sounds of the wildlife around them. They don’t speak for a long time, they just close their eyes and enjoy the peace that they rarely get back home.

 

 “These are internationally renowned gardens.” Nicole is the first to break the silence. “It is known for its diversity of colorful plants, meditation nooks, koi ponds, and ocean vistas. I used to come here with my aunt a lot. I truly felt at peace here in a way I never had before. I used to study here, read books, pray and meditate. Sometimes I would just sit quietly and enjoy the sights and sounds of God’s beauty in nature.”

 

“I forgot, you told me you used to be religious.” Waverly said, matching Nicole’s soft and hushed tone.

 

“I wouldn’t say I used to be religious. I mean, yeah, I grew up going to Catholic church. But that doesn’t mean much anymore. You can go to church every Sunday, but if you don’t accept God into your heart… it means nothing.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep cleansing breath. “I have to believe, that if demons are real, that there are also angels. I hope there is a higher power, maybe its God, maybe it’s just the universe.” Nicole laughs. “Or maybe I am just delusional. I don’t know. But nevertheless, I hope there is something out there. Believing in God and reading the bible… it made me a better person. It pulled me out of some dark places. So even if there is no God or higher power, no harm done.”

 

“So, you believe?” Waverly asks in clarification.

 

“I believe the world would be a better place if we, as human beings, treated each other with respect and kindness. I believe the bible when it says the hope anchors our soul. I believe, sometimes, you just need to trust and lean not on your own understanding. I believe the bible (and many other forms of religious scripture and traditions) can teach us so much about life and make us into better people. I also think it can cause ignorance to flourish. So, no, I guess I don’t believe in God. But I do pray in times of need, I do try and live by some of the things I learned about in Sunday school. Religion helped me build my moral code and it did teach me a lot about human nature. I am the person I am today because of that influence.” Nicole says, allowing the words to sink in.

 

“So, if your parents were Catholic, did they disapprove of you being gay? I don’t think I have ever heard you talk about it.”

 

“They didn’t care.” Nicole said with a smile. “I believe the words that came out of my father’s mouth were something along the lines of ‘Okay? So? That really doesn’t change anything.’ Nicole laughs softly and takes Waverly’s hand in hers. “And my mom was just happy I was honest with them. They never had the expectation that I would be strait. They just wanted me to love whoever made me happy.”

 

“They sound amazing.” Waverly says, squeezing her wife’s hand.

 

“They were.” Nicole says, smiling with a distant look that told Waverly she was reminiscing. Then Nicole snaps out of it with a shake of her head. “So, want to go take a walk on the beach?”

 

“That sounds amazing and really cliché.” Waverly jokes, but her smile is wide.

 


 

“So, this beach is called moonlight beach. It is a common tourist beach because the waves and rip currents are pretty small.” Nicole says as they walk. “The spot over there is D-Street and beyond that is Swamis.”

 

“Wow, those people are surfing.” Waverly says with shock. She had never seen the ocean before (outside of books and videos), let alone seen surfing.

 

Nicole laughs, “Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.”

 

“I wish I could do that.”

 

“I could teach you.” Nicole offered. “I haven’t been in years, but I could teach you the basics.”

 

“I am not a super strong swimmer. We don’t get many opportunities for swimming in Purgatory.” Waverly says, a little embarrassed.

 

“That’s okay, I got you. I promise.” Nicole says, leaning over to place a kiss on Waverly’s cheek. They continue to walk down the shoreline, enjoying the views.

 

 

Once they finally get back to the house, their stomachs are grumbling. They had picked up in-n-out on the way back and the smell of it in the car almost killed them. They sat in the kitchen, eating their burgers and fries, Nicole occasionally dipping her fries in her milkshake.

 

“Why do you do that?” Waverly asks, trying to hide her squeamishness at Nicole’s fry + shake combination.

 

“Don’t nark it until you try it Earp.” Nicole says with a dismissive wave of her fry holding hand.

 

Waverly looks at her skeptically but tries it anyways. There is a long pause. “Dammit!” Waverly relents and accepts defeat.

 

“Told you!” Nicole exclaims, her dimples making an appearance as she smiles.

 

Waverly shakes her head and looks at Nicole with something that can only be described as pure adoration. She hops off her bar stool and jumps up on the counter where Nicole is sitting, straddling Nicole as she gets comfortable. “You know, Wynonna said the paperwork came in the mail today.” She wraps her arms around Nicole’s neck, letting Nicole ground her.

 

“Oh really? Is this your way of telling me that my calling you Earp is no longer completely accurate?” Nicole asks with feigned ignorance.

 

“Indeed.” Waverly responds with a smug grin.

 

“So, what is your legal name now? You never did get around to telling me what you decided.” Nicole queries.

 

“Well, after a lot of thought, consideration and research, I decided to take two last names sans hyphen. I wanted to take your last name, but I also didn’t want to give up the Earp name completely.” Waverly kisses Nicole. “Plus, I don’t have a middle name so it worked out perfectly. I can go by either last name.”

 

“Well then. I guess I should probably start calling you by the new name then. Mrs. Waverly Earp Haught.” Nicole twists and lets Waverly down so she is laying down on the granite countertop. Nicole kisses her deeply and doesn’t stop. They didn’t make it to the bedroom.

 

Chapter Text

Wynonna sits at the counter in Gus’ kitchen, staring at her phone. The screen is black, and has been for the last twenty minutes.

 

Gus’ voice breaks her concentration on the blank screen. “They aren’t going to call any faster if you keep staring at your phone.”

 

“What? I’m not… uh… what are you talking about?” Wynonna stammers.

 

“Nicole said they would call once they got back from their museum tours in Balboa Park. She said around six. It isn’t even six yet.” Gus says, looking at her niece with a knowing look.

 

“I know, I am just waiting.” Wynonna says, trying to say it nonchalantly and failing to do so.

 

“That normally doesn’t require you staring at the phone.” Gus says.

 

“Well… uh… my ringer has been acting up.” Wynonna lies. “I just don’t want to miss the call is all.”

 

“It’s okay to admit you miss them.”

 

“What? No!” Wynonna scoffs, but her red blush gives her away. “I am enjoying having the Homestead to myself.”

 

“Clearly. That’s why you have been sleeping and spending your days here for the last eight days.” Gus says sarcastically. “You have only slept there two nights since they have left.”

 

“Maybe I like my old room here better. Plus, you feed me and that-“

 

Wynonna is cut off by the sound of her phone ringing. Wynonna almost drops the phone as she rushes to answer it. The FaceTime video connects and Waverly’s face illuminates the screen.

 

“Hey Nonna.” Waverly says.

 

“Hey Babygirl.” Wynonna says, trying to tamper down her excitement.

 

“Sorry we didn’t get a chance to call yesterday. We ended up staying out until the early hours of the morning and didn’t want to wake you up.” Waverly says apologetically, but the smile on her face tells Wynonna it was worth it.

 

“It’s okay. Where are you? It looks kinda dark.” Wynonna asks.

 

“Out on the top floor deck. The sun has started to set here and the views up here are amazing.” Waverly replies, flipping the camera so Wynonna can see the sun as it begins to dive towards the ocean.

 

“It’s beautiful Wave. I am glad you are having a good time. Where is your Haughtwife? I am surprised she isn’t naked on top of you.” Wynonna jokes. This comment earns her matching disapproving looks from both Waverly and Gus.

 

“If I was there, I would punch you in the arm.” Waverly says, laughing at her sister. “Nicole is out here too…” She laughs again. “And she is only half naked.”

 

“What?!”

 

“Relax Nonna.” Waverly says with a chuckle, turning the camera to show Nicole.

 

She is clad in a sports bra and a pair of compression shorts, doing pushups on the deck.

 

“Hey Haughtstuff!” Wynonna cheers.

 

Nicole doesn’t respond. “Hold on. She has earbuds in.” Waverly says. The camera moves and Wynonna can see her sister kiss Nicole on the head before pulling her earbud out of one ear. Nicole stops in the pushup position and smiles at her. She notices the camera and smiles at Wynonna.

 

“Hey Wyn!” Nicole greets, getting into a sitting position and pulling the other earbud out. “How’s it going?”

 

“Dude. You are on your honeymoon. Aren’t you getting enough physical activity without the need to work out?” Wynonna jokes. “On second thought, don’t answer that. I don’t want another death glare from Gus and Wave and I especially don’t want to know how much you are defiling my baby sister.”

 

Nicole laughs and starts doing sit ups. “Well Earp. Your sister tends to like my body. So, I feel the need to maintain it. Plus,” Nicole smirks. “You don’t get the ass you want by sitting on it.”

 

“Oh god, please. Please don’t give me the ‘my body is a temple’ speech. I am begging you.” Wynonna whines.

 

“I am not going to complain about her body.” Waverly comments with a shrug of her shoulders.

 

“Waverly Earp Haught, are you objectifying my body?!” Nicole questions with mock offense.

 

“I have to admit, abs, legs for days and a great ass. Not much to complain about.” Waverly says with a smirk. She doesn’t even try to hide how her eyes rake over Nicole’s exposed skin as she does her sit-ups.

 

“Babygirl, no. Don’t encourage this.” Wynonna scolds.

 

Gus comes up behind Wynonna and waves into the camera. “Hey girls. How were the museums?”

 

“Oh my god, Gus! They were amazing! There were so many of them and Balboa Park had a rose garden that we got to eat lunch in and a botanical building that was absolutely stunning. There were lily ponds and street performers everywhere. And the museums… they had so many different kinds and the exhibits were so much better than anything you can get from a book or movie.” Waverly gushes.

 

“Only your wife would let you spend part of your honeymoon visiting museum after museum.” Wynonna comments.

 

Waverly laughs. “She is my best baby.” She completely ignores Wynonna’s jab, much to the older Earp’s dismay. “So, are you enjoying having the Homestead to yourself?”

 

“Of course! It’s the best!” Wynonna lies.

 

Gus looks down at her own phone and then back to the FaceTime screen. “Darling. What exactly is happening in the photo Nicole sent us earlier?”

 

Waverly looks at the group message and laughs. “That’s me, sitting on this rock. They call it potato chip rock. It is pretty cool, huh.”

 

“Yes, I thought it was a great photo.” Gus says, loving how happy her niece looks. “So, what are your plans for tomorrow?”

 

“We were thinking that we would just hang around the house tomorrow. Probably go swim in the ocean and lay out on the beach for a while, then go out to dinner in the evening. We have to be up and at the airport no later than noon the following day if we want to make our flight home. I suggested we take our last day to just relax.” Waverly says.

 

“Good. That sounds nice.” Gus says. “Have fun you two. I am off to watch my show. Goodnight.”

 

“Goodnight Gus!” Waverly and Nicole say in unison.

 

“Night Gus.” Wynonna says. Once Gus is upstairs, Wynonna turns her attention back to the couple.

 

Nicole stands up and kisses Waverly lightly on the top of her head. “I am gonna go shower.” She turns her attention to the screen. “I’ll text you later Wynonna! Goodnight!”

 

“Night Haughtbody!” Wynonna calls back, not missing the way her sister watches Nicole go.

 

“So.” Wynonna starts. “Aren’t you going to go join her?” Wynonna asks, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

 

Waverly laughs and blushes a little. “I think I’ll give her a break this time.”

 

“Things cooling down over there?” Wynonna asks.

 

“No. Not at all.” She laughs. “I am just enjoying the simplicity of it here. That’s all. Plus, I want to talk with you. I miss you.”

 

“Good.” Wynonna replies in relief. “I miss you too.”

Chapter Text

Waverly lays across Nicole’s bikini clad form as they watch the waves crash on the shore. The deck is beautiful and the ocean breeze is so freeing. They have been laying in silence for over an hour now, just doing their own things, yet, never separating. Nicole is laying on her back, napping deeply on the couch. Waverly lays on top of her, reading a book Nicole bought her when they went to the Cabrillo National Monument. But if she is being completely honest, she stopped reading twenty minutes ago. Other thoughts have flooded her mind and she can’t seem to refocus. She places the book to the side, being mindful not to wake the sleeping Nicole below her. She lays there, listening to Nicole’s sleeping sounds as she continues to let her mind drift.

 

“What’s wrong? Why are you so tense baby?” Nicole asks.

 

Waverly startles a bit. She was so engrossed in her own thoughts, she didn’t even notice Nicole had woken up. “What? No. Nothing is wrong. Just thinking.”

 

Nicole lifts her head and connects her lips to Waverly’s briefly. She pulls away and looks back up at Waverly. “Tell me what you are thinking about. Please.”

 

“The future.” Waverly says.

 

She expects Nicole to laugh or have some type of extreme reaction, but she doesn’t. “Okay. Want to elaborate?” Nicole simply responds.

 

“Kids… growing old together…” Waverly isn’t sure how Nicole is going to react. They literally just got married. But she can’t help but think about it. Nicole doesn’t say anything. She just nods her head slightly and seems to be deep in thought. After a few moments of silence, Waverly breaks. “Please say something. I just… I know we have talked briefly about it, but we have never had the conversation about it. You know? And I get it if you aren’t ready but please just say something Nicole.” Waverly rambles.

 

“Baby.” Nicole rests a hand on Waverly's back, hoping the extra contact will help. “Breathe. Relax. I just needed a minute to articulate my thoughts and feelings into words.” Nicole takes a deep breath. “I want kids, or a kid or multiple. I don’t know how many. But I do want that, with you. But, the idea of bringing a life into the world… and having to worry that it can so easily be taken away… I don’t know. I just…” Nicole can feel herself rambling and stoops to compose herself. She looks at the ocean and then back at Waverly. “Having kids and a family terrifies me. I have fought demons, lived in warzones and been tortured. I have had so many horrible things happen to me, yet none of them even compare to the anxiety and fear that come with starting a family. I don’t know if I would be a good parent. I am honestly such a fucked up person and my childhood wasn’t… ideal. I just… sorry. This probably sounds stupid.” She says, looking back at the ocean, trying to hide the heartache that is written all over her face.

 

Waverly reaches out, turning Nicole to look at her with a delicate finger to the chin. “It’s not stupid.” She kisses Nicole lightly on the lips. “I understand that it scares you. It scares me too. But I have seen you with kids and I know you would be a great mom. So don’t worry about that. And it would be just us. Any kid we have would have the whole family to count on too. They would practically have their own army.”

 

Nicole laughs and, not for the first time, falls even more in love with the woman on top of her. “Okay.”

 

“Nicole, I love you. I want to have a life with you. Even if that meant never having kids. But I don’t want to let either of our fears or insecurities stop us from living life to the fullest. “Waverly says, running her fingers through Nicole’s hair.

 

“I agree.” Nicole responds, smiling widely at her wife. “But you never said whether or not you wanted kids.”

 

“Yes, Nicole. I want kids. I want to see a herd of redhead curls running around the house. I want the sound of laughing and happy squeals to fill the air.” Waverly says with a sarcastic smirk.

 

“Redheads? You want redheads? Really?”

 

“A mini you? Yes. Yes, I want redheads.” Waverly laughs.

 

“Damn. And I thought one of me would be enough.” Nicole says, laughing.

 

“Oh, trust me. You are more than enough for me.” Waverly says, placing a sultry kiss to her wife’s mouth. “I am just saying I wouldn’t mind a little more color running around. But I would be happy either way.”

 

“Glad you feel that way. I wouldn’t mind having a mini you walking around either.” Nicole says with a giggle.

 

“I think I am mini enough as it is.” Waverly jokes.

 

“You know… our kids might be taller than you…” Nicole teases.

 

“It is also quite possible that I cut you off from sex for teasing me.” Waverly teases back.

 

“I take it all back.” Nicole says with a fake pout. “Our kids will always be shorter than you. Even if it means teaching them some really bad posture habits.”

 

Waverly just laughs and kisses her wife.

 


 

“Wynonna, what time did Nicole say they were supposed to land?” Gus asks from the kitchen.

 

“They landed about an hour and a half ago. They should be driving up any minute.” Dolls responds. “Wynonna is outside with Doc.”

 

“Thank you.” Gus says. She turns and sees Wynonna out the window. “How is she doing?”

 

“Better. She won’t admit it, but she misses them. I think it freaks her out that they are so far away. That she can’t protect them.” Dolls responds. “Plus, I think the possibility of Nicole returning to the Marines is bugging her.”

 

“Why is she thinking about that?” Gus asks.

 

“I guess she saw Nicole answer a work call and pull Lance Corporal Farrell aside the day of the wedding. Nicole didn’t look happy.” Dolls says.

 

“Liz is Nicole’s right hand. It would make sense. Did you notice the same thing?” Gus asks.

 

“I have a different perspective Gus. It isn’t coming from the same place.” Dolls responds.

 

“That doesn’t mean it is any less valid Dolls. I value your opinion as well, especially when it comes to Nicole. You two know each other in ways that none of us will ever be able to understand.”

 

Dolls thinks for a moment before speaking. “I did notice her answer the call and her reaction to it. She looked stressed to me. But she seemed to let it drop in favor of enjoying the wedding and her honeymoon.” Dolls stops and takes a breath before continuing. “Nicole is a good soldier and if they need her, she won’t say no. She worked to make sure I was here to protect everyone. But because of that, because of the favors she called and the deals she made for that, she gave her word to do the job. Nicole is nothing without her honor. It is how she lives her life. But I feel she may compromise her honor, in the effort to maintain it. In other words, she may do something that she can’t recover from, in order to try and finish the mission. In order to keep her word and honor intact.”

 

“Are you concerned about this enough to talk to her about it.” Gus asks. “Should I be talking to her about it?”

 

“No and no. I don’t think there is anything we could say to change things. And Wynonna knows that. But that doesn’t stop her from worrying, especially when Nicole is away.”

 

“Keep an eye on her for me, will ya? Nonna likes to pretend she is all gruff and tough, but she is still human.” Gus says.

 

“Always Ma’am. She is important to me. I will do anything I can to make sure she is as happy as she can be. That’s all I want for her.” Dolls says.

 

“Good.”

 


 

Nicole and Waverly drive to Gus’ house after departing from the airport. Gus said they were all eating at her house tonight, so they decided to bypass the Homestead and go straight there.

 

“Are you excited to see your sister?” Nicole asks.

 

“Of course. I know we were only gone for twelve days and I know there were years that I didn’t even hear from her, but I still miss her.”

 

Waves, I get it. You don’t have to explain anything to me.” Nicole reassures with a smile. She pulls the truck to a stop in front of Gus’ house and cuts the engine. They don’t even make it to the front of the vehicle before Wynonna is bounding towards them at full speed. She gets to Waverly first and pulls her in for a bone crushing hug.

 

“Hey Babygirl!”

 

“Hi Nonna. Miss me?” Waverly replies with a laugh.

 

“Nah. Only a little.” Wynonna smirks and then turns her attention to Nicole (who is leaning up against the truck). “Are you going to just stand there or are you going to come over and greet me properly?” Wynonna asks with a shit-eating grin on her face.

 

Gus walks outside and Nicole moves towards her, giving her a hug before turning to stick her tongue out at Wynonna.

 

“Children.” Waverly grumbles as they all walk back into the house.

 


 

“The meal was amazing Ma’am. Thank you kindly.” Doc says from his seat at the table. They all ate on the back porch, where Gus has a long table and chairs.

 

“Not a problem Henry. Glad you enjoyed it.” Gus says.

 

Everyone starts making conversation as they begin to stand and take their dirty dishes inside. They are all talking inside when Nicole’s phone rings.

 

“Excuse me.” Nicole says. She walks outside to the back yard, closing the sliding glass doors behind her. She answers the call and walks so she is standing in the clearing of Gus’ backyard (far enough away for no one to hear).

 

“Did that happen a lot while you were in San Diego?” Wynonna asks Waverly as she watches Nicole outside.

 

“Not once. She didn’t do any work stuff while we were gone.” Waverly says.

 

“Good.” Wynonna says.

 

“She told them not to bug her unless it was urgent.” Dolls supplies. He cracks a smile. “I believe her exact words were ‘someone better be dying’. And then something along the lines of killing said person if they bug her and they are not dying.”

 

“Haught damn.” Wynonna says, impressed by her friend.

 

“I was surprised too. But then again… I wasn’t.” Dolls says.

 

“If there is a problem, I’m sure she will let us know eventually.” Waverly says. She turns to Gus. “Do you mind if we crash here tonight?”

 

“I had the expectation that everyone would be staying the night (considering the only person sober enough to drive is Nicole).” Gus says.

 

“Perfect. Thank you.” Waverly says and the other three nod in agreement. None wanted to argue with Gus.

 

Chapter Text

Around 2 weeks later…

 

Waverly walks into the Black Badge office to an unfamiliar sight. It is completely empty. She assumes they are all in the gym. She walks down the hall and enters the gym door. Dolls is sparring with Wynonna and Waverly walks in just in time to see Dolls knock Wynonna on her ass. Waverly has to suppress the giggle that wants to escape.

 

“Fuck Dolls.” Wynonna complains.

 

“C’mon Earp.” Dolls says, helping her up.

 

Wynonna turns and notices her sister’s presence. “Hey Wave.”

 

“Good morning.” Waverly responds cheerily. She looks around the room. “Where’s Nic?”

 

“Nedley pulled her a few minutes ago.” Dolls says, looking annoyed.

 

“Why?”

 

“He didn’t say exactly.” Wynonna adds. She also seems annoyed by the situation.

 

“Okay? That seems a little weird.” Waverly says

 

“It is. But Nedley wouldn’t give.”

 

As Wynonna finishes the thought, Nicole walks into the gym. She looks nervous and stressed, although she hides it well.

 

“Morning Babe.” Waverly greets as Nicole approaches her.

 

Nicole gives her a pained smile and then places a light kiss to the top of her head. She takes a seat on the mat and crosses her legs. The others match her position on the ground and wait for her to continue. It takes a moment for Nicole to speak, but she knows she just has to say it.

 

“I just filled out my leave of absence papers with Nedley. New intel came in. General Edwards needs me and my unit in-country by the end of the week. I uh… I leave in three days. Liz is going to be here tomorrow and we will fly out the following evening.” Nicole says, struggling to meet anyone’s gaze.

 

Everyone is silent for a while. Dolls is the first to move. He stands and Nicole does the same. They look at each other and have a silent conversation before he exits the room. Nicole sits back down, but doesn’t say a word. Waverly crawls a few feet over to Nicole, sitting in her lap and curling into her chest. She doesn’t cry or make any sounds at all. They just sit there. Wynonna moves to sit back to back with Nicole. She leans back, letting the solidness of her friends back support her. They all just stay there for a while and enjoy the silence. Eventually, they all get up and go about their day as they normally would.

 


 

“Do you know how long you will be gone for” Gus asks.

 

“No.” Nicole replies. “It could be days, it could be weeks, it could be months. It all depends on what we find.”

 

“Okay. And how are you feeling about all of this?”

 

“I feel fine. I am more worried about Waves. I feel horrible.” Nicole says, letting her face fall into her hands.

 

“Waverly will be fine. You just concentrate on coming home safe.” Gus says with a reassuring pat to Nicole’s shoulder.

 


 

Waverly hears her phone chime from the living room. She walks over and sees the text is from the group message. She unlocks her phone and opens up the group chat between herself, Nicole, Wynonna, Liz and Gibbs.

 

Liz (2:43pm): I just landed in Calgary.

 

Liz (2:44pm): Gibbs? Are you already at Dallas’ place?

 

Gibbs (2:52pm): No, my flight was delayed. I landed an hour ago. I am waiting for you at the baggage claim.

 

Liz (2:55pm): 10-4. I’ll be there soon.

 

Wyn (3:09 pm): When are you guys getting here?

 

Gibbs (3:11pm): We just pulled out of the airport. Should be there in forty minutes or so.

 

Wave: (3:13pm): Drive safe. We have food here if you are hungry after all the traveling.

 

Liz (3:14pm): Thanks Waverly!

 


 

Liz and Gibbs showed up an hour ago. They ate lunch with the Earp women before Nicole showed up. Waverly noticed it the moment Nicole came outside in her workout gear. The straightened posture, the authoritative tone, the calculated adjustments to her body language. This is Captain Nicole Haught.

 

“Rock paper scissors for who goes first?” Gibbs asks Liz as they walk outside to meet Nicole (only partly joking). The Earp sisters sit on the deck and watch.

 

“Farrell, you’re up.” Nicole says

 

Gibbs laughs, but tries to cover it up with a cough. “Good luck.” He walks back over to sit with the Earp girls so he can watch.

 

“Ready?” Nicole asks, stepping forwards and handing Liz a shock knife.

 

“Yes Ma’am.” Liz responds, taking her stance.

 

Nicole flips her knife in her hand, getting into her own stance. She engages the knife, the spark of electricity and the sound of the knife draws Liz’s attention. They start to circle one another, sizing each other up and studying each other’s movements.

 

Gibbs leans over to speak to the Earp sisters as they watch. “This should be fun.”

 

“Are those like Taser knives or something?” Wynonna asks.

 

Gibbs laughs a pained laugh. “It is more similar to a stun gun. They are composite blades that can’t cut you. But it delivers a localized shock that causes pain. It won’t cause serious injury or incapacitation. But even at that, 7,500 volts hurts like a bitch. She got me a couple good times during our initial training. I swear, it took me a week to fully recover.”

 

“And why is it necessary that you use these blades to train? What’s wrong with the rubberized or foam training blades?” Waverly asks. The idea of these blades kinda makes her stomach turn.

 

“These teach you to train like it is a real fight. The rubber and foam blades can allow for sloppy technique and strategy. The shock encourages you to give a fuck and try.” Gibbs explains.

 

Before anyone can say anything else, a yelp comes from the two women training. Nicole shocked Liz twice with two quick slashes to the leg. Liz gets a light touch on Nicole’s upper arm, causing Nicole to get a shock of her own. But unlike Liz, Nicole doesn't make a sound. Nicole gives Liz a forearm to the chest and the blow knocks her off balance. Liz stumbles back and doesn’t even have time to process everything before Nicole jabs the knife into her torso. Liz hits the ground immediately after the shock.

 

“C’mon Lance Corporal. You can do better than that!” Gibbs shouts from his sitting position. Liz looks at him and levels him with a deadly look before turning her head to look at Nicole. Nicole reaches an arm down and helps Liz to her feet. Nicole then spends the next hour slowing down moves and teaching Liz counter moves.

 

“Tag. Your it.” Liz says as she smacks Gibbs on the arm. He gets up and Liz replaces him in the seat. He walks out towards Nicole.

 

“Are you okay?” Waverly asks.

 

“Oh, trust me, I have had much worse. Dallas is going pretty easy on us today (considering we are shipping out tomorrow).” Liz says with a smile. Dolls walks outside with an icepack and hands it to Liz. “Thank you.” She says. He nods in response and focuses on Nicole and Gibbs.

 

“I feel lucky she doesn’t train with those when she works out with us.” Wynonna says, indicating to the knives.

 

“Maybe not with you Earp. But I have been on the receiving end of those blades before.” Dolls says.

 

“Did you crush her?” Wynonna asks.

 

“I am a good agent and soldier. Hell, I was with the teams for years. But Haught is something else. She is trained to a caliber that matches mine well. So, to answer your question, no. I actually think we ended in a draw more times than not.” Dolls says.

 

“If you want to see something entertaining, watch how she trains with Gibbs. He might be a man, but Dallas is faster. It is always a good show. Plus, they just know each other so well. They are the best competition for one another.” Liz says as Nicole and Gibbs start to square up.

 


 

“Ouch.” Gibbs whines as Nicole throws another ice pack at him.

 

“Don’t be a big baby. I have hit you harder.” Nicole quips. The smile that breaks out on her face makes him smile too.

 

“True.” He puts the icepack on his chest. “But I still complained then too.”

 

“This is also true.” Nicole says with a shrug. She takes a seat next to Waverly and they all settle in to watch the game on TV. Their training sessions were good today. Gibbs got a few good hits and shocks in, but Nicole ultimately beat him in the stamina and skill departments. She burrows her face into Waverly’s shoulder and feels her heart flutter when Waverly wraps her arm around her, pulling her closer.

Chapter Text

“I love you.” Nicole whispers into Waverly’s ear, pulling the woman on top of her closer.

 

“I love you too.” Waverly says, doing her best to memorize the feeling of Nicole’s bare skin on hers.

 

“I don’t want you to stress while I am gone.” She knows it is stupid to say. She knows Waverly is going to worry. But she has to at least say it. “Please.”

 

“I always worry when you aren’t here with me. That includes when you are just doing your normal job as a sheriff’s deputy. Of course I am going to worry.” Waverly says, breathing in all that is Nicole. She never wants this moment of peace to end.

 

“Nothing is going to keep me from coming home to you Waverly. Trust me. Please try. That’s all I ask.”

 

“I am well aware you will always come home. I just don’t want you to come home in a body bag or worse. Please be careful. I- I can’t do this without you. I meant what I said to Wynonna all those years ago. I would die if anything happened to you.” Waverly says. Her head firmly pressed to Nicole’s chest, listening to the steady beat of her heart.

 

“I know. And the feeling is mutual. We both do dangerous jobs Waves. You fight demons for Christ’s sake and so do I. A pesky human terror group should be a walk in the park.” Nicole says, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“But at least here, even when fighting demons, I can help keep you safe.” Waverly says, pulling impossibly closer to Nicole.

 

“I know.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly on the crown of her head.

 


 

“Ready to go Ma’am?” Gibbs asks as he and Liz stand in attention.

 

“At ease.” Nicole says with a wave of her hand. “We are off duty until we board that plane. I intend on enjoying what time I have left.”

 

Liz laughs lightly and Gibbs does the same. They are all in their Combat Utility uniforms, each packing heat. If Waverly were in a lighter mood, she would probably admit that they all look really good.

 

“But we should get going.” Nicole continues regretfully. Nicole picks up her bags and heads towards the door, following her team. She said her goodbyes to Gus, Doc, and Dolls last night. She even drove over to Nedley’s house to say goodbye to him and Chrissy. Chrissy cried when Nedley told her why Nicole was there and held Nicole in a tight hug for a long time. The only ones left to say goodbye to were the Earp sisters. Nicole had insisted that they not drive them to the airport this time. It was too hard to walk away the last time. Wynonna is sitting on the porch steps when they all walk out. Gibbs and Liz say their goodbyes before walking to Nicole’s truck and hopping in.

 

Nicole pulls Wynonna into a hug, hoping and praying the elder Earp doesn’t make this harder than it has to be. “Please be safe.” Nicole says.

 

“You too.” Wynonna says, holding Nicole tight.

 

“I have promises to keep. And so do you.” Nicole says loud enough so only they can hear it. Wynonna pulls away and nods her head wordlessly. Wynonna steps back and walks a few feet to the porch steps, giving the couple a little privacy.

 

“I am not going to say goodbye.” Waverly says. “It makes me feel like you aren’t going to come home. Think of something else to say.” Tears begin to form in Waverly’s eyes.

 

“I love you Waverly Earp Haught.” Nicole says, pulling Waverly close.

 

“That still sounds like goodbye. Please. Please say something else.” Waverly pleads. “I love you so much Nicole.”

 

Nicole smiles sadly at her wife. “I will see you later baby.” Nicole kisses her quickly before walking to her truck quickly. She knows she can’t watch Waverly cry or let Waverly see the tears in her own eyes. If either happens, she will never leave. She jumps into the truck and drives away, unable to look in the rear-view mirror as they leave.

 


 

“You okay Dallas?” Liz asks from the passenger seat.

 

“I just left my wife after less than two months of marriage. It is likely we will be gone for some time and what we have to do when we get there…” Nicole trails off.

 

“Waverly understands Cap. She knows you love her. Even though you are leaving. She knows you love her.” Gibbs says from the back seat.

 

“That just makes it worse.” Nicole says, tightening her grip on the steering wheel.

 


 

Wyn (4:23pm): Any news on Nicole?

Dolls (4:24pm): I got confirmation that Haught, Farrell and Gibbs all boarded their flight. They are scrambling their flight plans so I don’t know where their destination is. I am sorry I don’t know more.

 

Wyn (4:26pm): Thank you Dolls. I’ll let Waves know. Are you still coming over for dinner tonight? I think Waves is eating dinner at Gus’ place tonight.

 

Dolls (4:30pm): I’ll be there at 1900.

 

Wyn (4:33): See you then.

 


 

Waverly walks up to her bedroom that night. She changes into one of Nicole’s oversized sleepshirts and sits down on the bed. She misses her already, but she knows the first few days are the hardest, especially when waking and going to sleep. She looks over to Nicole’s side of the bed and then over to her nightstand. There is something sitting on top of the dresser. Waverly scoots across the bed to get a better look. Once she does, the tears from the day finally start to fall.

Chapter Text

Waverly picks up the platinum band and the piece of paper under it. She closes her eyes and clutches the items to her chest as her tears steadily fall. They are quite tears, the only sounds escaping are the ones of her hard breathing. She holds Nicole’s wedding ring in one hand and the note in the other. Waverly looks down at the note and unfolds the paper. Nicole’s delicate handwriting covers the small piece of paper.

 

 

Waves,

I wish I could take this with me, but I can’t. Not where I am going. It would be stolen or worse. I would die if anything happened to it and I would fight anyone who would try and take it away. Better that I leave it safe with you. I love you Waverly. This is not goodbye. This is just the beginning for us.

Love,

Nic

 

 

Waverly sniffles and tries to fight back the tears. She knew Nicole wasn’t going to wear her metal wedding band during her deployment. She knew it was for safety reasons. Nicole had ordered a silicone wedding band that has their initials engraved on the inside a few weeks ago, knowing this would be the case. But knowing and accepting are two completely different things. Seeing Nicole’s wedding ring there is like a punch to the chest. Nicole never takes her wedding band off when she is home. Like, ever. Waverly has even caught Nicole falling asleep with it still on, on several occasions. She always giggles when Nicole’s sleeping form protests as she removes the ring and places it on the bedside table. Waverly clutches the ring in her hand and lifts the note to her mouth, kissing it lightly as the final tears fall. She pulls out Nicole’s old dog tags (the ones she has grown accustomed to wearing when Nicole is away). She snaps the metal clasp open and strings Nicole’s ring onto the chain before closing it. After hanging the tags on her own neck, she folds the paper back up and places it in a safe place.

 


 

“Dallas? You okay?” Green asks, sitting down next to Nicole on the floor of the house. He looks down at Nicole’s hands. She wiggles and fidgets with the silicone band on her left hand. “Doesn’t feel right, does it?”

 

“No. No it doesn’t. I haven’t even been wearing the real one that long, but I already miss it. The weight of it, the way it felt so natural. My hand felt naked without it on. Like it does right now.” Nicole says in a monotone voice. There is so much emotion behind the statement, but she doesn’t even show a drop of it.

 

“The marriage is the important part. Yes, the ring is a literal representation of it, but it is just a piece of metal.” Mike pauses before continuing. “It is kinda like the wedding, it is ceremonial. But you already know that. So what is really bothering you so much that you are giving up the few hours of sleep you have had in days?”

 

“I sometimes forget how well you know me.” Nicole comments with a small smile.

 

“I have known you since you were seventeen years old Dallas. Never forget that. I have seen you through some of the best and some of the worst points of your life. Because of that, I hope you know you can tell me anything. My job as a medic charges me with keeping everyone physically healthy. Your mental health and wellbeing is important to me as well.”

 

“I miss my wife. I do. Hell, I miss my whole damn family.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep breath. “But I don’t…” Nicole trails off.

 

“You don’t want to go home if you aren’t still the real you.” Gibbs supplies.

 

Nicole nods her head. “Everything back home is good. I am in love with my life back there.” She looks down at the wedding ring on her finger. “I don’t want to screw it up.”

 

“You picked an interesting group of people to call family Dallas. They are strong and you can tell they have been through a lot. Just like you. They can handle it. They just want you there. That’s all.” Green says.

 

“Thanks Mike. I appreciate it. I know I am being stupid…”

 

“It isn’t stupid. You spend twenty-four hours a day being the leader of this unit. Being strong, calculated, and stoic. You are allowed to take a moment to be genuinely human every once in a while. Now, you really should sleep. You said you wanted us on the move before sunrise.” Green says with a soft smile.

 

Nicole stands and walks back over to her sleeping pack, lying down and finally going to sleep.

 


 

Nicole pulls her unit to huddle together. She pulls out a tablet and shows a blueprint of a building in the area. “We need to breach from the west. If we go in through the front door, it will be a blood bath.” Nicole commands.

 

“Going in from the west requires us to clear the courtyard near the door. That will leave us exposed to enemy fire.” Gibbs comments, tapping the area on the tablet.

 

“That is why we aren’t leaving anyone outside. We all go in and we take the structure together.” Nicole says. “We go in with a one, two, two formation. Gibbs and Farrell will take the first floor. Green and Riley will take the second floor. And I will take the basement.”

 

“You are going alone?” Liz asks.

 

“The less people we have in the tight quarters, the better. The basement entry won’t allow for more than one.” Nicole says, pointing to the entry on the blueprint. “Once you have cleared the ground level and the top floor, you can join me below. But priority number one is to clear those two floors. Many inside are civilians that are enslaved. We have to be in sync on this one. Even a second delay can cause casualties and a failure.”

 

“Yes Ma’am.” They all say in unison.

 


 

“Thirty seconds to contact.” Nicole says softly through her com.

 

“Roger. In position.” Gibbs replies in a hushed tone.

 

“In position.” Green says from his crouched position near the second-floor entrance.

 

There is a silence as the time counts down. Then Nicole’s voice comes through the communications. “Execute, execute.”

 


 

They all breach their respective floors in sync, not giving the enemy combatants time to warn their other counterparts.

 

“Clear.” Liz says.

 

“All clear.” Green follows. “Moving down.”

 

“Civilian casualties?” Nicole calls over the coms, still in a hushed tone. She hasn’t finished clearing her floor.

 

They all respond with ‘no civilian casualties’. Nicole head the shots over the coms, even with the added silencers. She knows her team cleared the floors and had to shoot at enemy fighters. Thank god this mission is off the books. Otherwise, she would have a shit ton of paperwork. Nicole internally laughs at her own fucked up joke. She turns another corner and shoots two men standing at the end of the hall. She is in too deep to risk one of them alerting others of her position. The sound of the silencer is the only sounds she hears. The men slump to the ground. Nicole doesn’t even look at them as she steps over their bodies and continues around the next corner.

Chapter Text

“Captain. Entering basement floor.” Liz alerts over coms.

 

There is a loud gunshot (one that couldn’t be made by any of their guns (the all had silencers). Then there is another shot. Gibbs pushes past Liz and trots down another hallway.

 

“Captain. Do you copy?” Gibbs asks, turning a corner with his gun raised. He sees two men dead at the end of the hall. There is still no response from Nicole. Then they hear another loud gunshot and then the sound of Nicole’s gun over the coms.

 

After a moment of complete silence, Nicole’s voice comes in. “Clear. Proceed.”

 

They walk down three more corridors before they find Nicole. She is looking at a table in the corner of the room. It is covered in paper. There is a man, dead, on the floor. Nicole doesn’t pay him any attention, far too focused on the papers in front of her. She notices her team and beckons them to join her. They all look over the papers and their eyes widen.

 

“He isn’t here, but he was. And unfortunately for him…” Nicole picks up a few pieces of paper. “He wasn’t smart enough to take these with him.”

 

Liz picks up the papers and reads them. “This is… These are his plans. This is everything. It seems a little too perfect that he would leave these behind.”

 

“We have to treat them as accurate for now. They are all we have. Let’s pack this up and get the hell out of here. The General needs to get his team to analyze these documents asap.” She turns to look at her team. They have been in country for over three weeks, far shorter of a period then they had expected, but it had been a rough three weeks. “Let’s go home.”

 

They all smile and start to pack the files into bags.

 


 

Waverly and Dolls are sitting on the porch, watching Wynonna try and teach Doc how to ride a motorcycle. They have been at it for hours and the others soon realized it is quite entertaining to watch.

 

“Waverly, get your sister and the cowboy off that damn machine and tell them dinner is ready.” Gus calls from inside.

 

“Sure Gus!” Waverly calls back, getting up to fetch her sister and Doc.

 


 

They are all sitting in the living room, watching the game on the TV. They are in the middle of the second period when Dolls’ phone rings. He looks down at his phone, checking who it is. His face grows somber once he realizes who is calling. He stands and walks to the other room to answer the call. He reenters the room a minute later. His expression, back to its normal stoic nature.

 

“Everything okay?” Waverly asks, obviously the only one who noticed his change.

 

“Everything seems to be.” Dolls answers. He seems unsure of his answer, but Waverly doesn’t push it. She refocuses her attention on the game and tries to ignore the feeling that Dolls is still looking at her.

 


 

Waverly wakes up the next morning, going about her normal routine.

 

Step one: Wake up and reach for Nicole

Step two: Have a moment of sadness that Nicole isn’t there

Step three: Get out of bed and shower

And so on…

 

Waverly makes her way down stairs and starts making breakfast. She plates everything buffet style on the counter and is about to call Wynonna down when her sister walks into the kitchen.

 

“Wow.” Waverly jokes.

 

“The smell of bacon and coffee woke me.” Wynonna says in explanation as she heads for the coffee.

 

She is about to make another joke when the sound of keys in the lock of the front door stop her in her tracks. She knows it could be Gus or Dolls, but the energy in the room, the gravity has changed. Nicole.

 

Nicole step into the house with her bags in hand. She looks exhausted (twenty-three hours of travel can do that to you) and she doesn’t seem to notice the Earp sisters in the kitchen. It isn’t until she has dropped her bags by the door that she noticed Waverly standing in the living room, tears in her eyes. Wynonna is standing behind her, cup of coffee raised half way to her mouth. Nicole should have expected their shock. She has been gone just over three weeks, which is a lot shorter than anyone expected.

 

“Hey.” Nicole says tentatively.

 

Waverly hiccups and gasps as her tears start to fall even more heavily. She doesn’t move though, she just wraps her arms around her torso.

 

“Baby.” Nicole says in a hushed tone. She takes a step towards Waverly. That is all Waverly needs. Now she is taking the last few steps and colliding with Nicole. Their lips joining before any other part of them. Nicole pulls Waverly close with one arm, interlocking their fingers with the other. Nicole smiles into the kiss, knowing Waverly is here and kissing her still feels the same way it did before she left.

 


 

Nicole has been home for over a month now and things seem to be business as usual. Everyone is back to work, trying to break the curse and take down as many Revenants as possible. Nicole made it clear that she wouldn’t be home long this time. She was going back as soon as the General’s analysts went through the documents they recovered. So it wasn’t all that surprising when Nicole got the phone call.

 

They are all at Shorty’s after a long day of hunting when Nicole’s phone starts to ring. She moves to the other side of the bar and answers the phone call. Once she returns, Waverly is glaring at her over her drink.

 

“How long until you have to leave this time?” Waverly asks a little harsher than she intended. The alcohol was not allowing her to keep her composure as well as normal.

 

“I fly out tomorrow. This whole thing is very time sensitive.” Nicole replies.

 

“You just got home Nicole.” Waverly argues. The bar is empty (besides the team and Gus), so the sounds echo and amplify.

 

“I told you this would be brief Waves, I am sorry. But I have to go.” Nicole says genuinely.

 

“No you don’t Nicole! There are other soldiers! There are other people that can do it! You don’t have to go!” Waverly yells, startling everyone, including herself. Maybe she has had one too many drinks? Or maybe her frustration has hit the boiling point? Who knows.

 

“Waves. There are other soldiers. But this is my responsibility.” Nicole says, still composed.

 

“NO! Nicole! Your responsibility is to be here! That’s your real responsibility!”

 

“Waverly. The work I do there matters. I can’t turn my back on them.” Nicole doesn’t know why Waverly is choosing this moment to bring this up, but she can tell it isn’t going to end well.

 

“Nicole! WE MATTER! The people in this damn bar and Nedley matter! We are the only ones that should matter! There are other soldiers that can do it!”

 

“AND WHAT ABOUT THEIR FAMILIES WAVERLY?! HUGH? WHAT ABOUT THEIR LOVED ONES?! Why is my family more important than theirs?! And just an FYI, there is a reason they brought me back! I am good at my job! The other people they have tried to have do this job failed before me! And you know what?! Their failure got them killed! So you want me to turn my back on my country, all the citizens in it, the families of the soldiers lost?! No! So many have sacrificed and lost their lives in this fight! I will not let their deaths be meaningless! I will not let them take another person’s life! AND! I. WILL. NOT. STOP FIGHTING FOR WHAT IS RIGHT!” Nicole completely loses it (surprising everyone). She lowers her voice and looks down at her feet and then back up at Waverly. The anger that was in her eyes a moment ago is replaced with hurt. “I don’t want to go. Why would I ever choose to leave you? But I can’t turn my back on them. Too many people have died already. I can’t turn my back and let more people die and do nothing. I have the power to make a difference. I can’t ignore it in good conscience. I thought you, of all people, would understand that.” Nicole walks out of the bar and down the street.

 


 

“She left earlier this morning. I think. She stayed at Gus’ house last night.” Waverly said sadly.

 

“I am so sorry Wave.” Wynonna says genuinely.

 

“I can’t believe I blew up on her.” Waverly shakes her head, not allowing tears to fall.

 

“You are allowed to be frustrated and angry Waverly. Even Nicole has told you that. The same way she has the right to feel the exact same way.” Gus says, walking through the door of the Homestead.

 

“Gus.” Waverly breathes out. “Is she…?”

 

“I dropped her off at the airport this morning myself.” Gus said, knowing what Waverly wanted to know.

 

“Oh.” Waverly lets her head drop. “Was she angry with me?” She asks, not sure if she wants to know the answer.

 

“No honey. She was more upset with herself for yelling at you.” Gus reply.

 

Waverly’s phone chimed and she grabbed for it. It was an audio file from Nicole. Waverly hesitates before clicking play. What if she doesn’t want this anymore? What if I pushed her away like I did in the beginning? What if?

 

“Waverly Earp Haught, if you don’t stop What if-ing and listen to that message, I swear…” Gus starts.

 

“Okay. Okay.” Waverly says, gathering her courage. She pushes the play button and Nicole’s voice fills the speaker.

Chapter Text

“Okay. Okay.” Waverly says, gathering her courage. She pushes the play button and Nicole’s voice fills the speaker.

 

Hey Waves. Um… it’s me. I’m… I’m sorry. I’m sorry for yelling at you. I am sorry for leaving again and I am sorry that I didn’t have the guts to face you this morning. I love you and I wish it didn’t happen like that. I um… [sniffles] I know you’re mad and frustrated and you have every right to be. I am sorry for blowing up. I guess it was my own frustration (with myself) coming out as well. But I took it out on you and that wasn’t okay. But I can’t apologize for doing my job Waves. You said you love me because of who I am. Because you see me as selfless and kind and loyal. And that is what I want to be. I am doing my best to be a selfless, kind, loyal and honorable person. I am sorry it is hurting you, but… [sharp intake of breath] if the roles were reversed and someone else was fighting for you and our family… I would want them to go and fight. I know you might not understand that, and it’s okay. That isn’t the point. The point is, I love you Waverly Earp Haught. I love you and I love our misfit family with all of my heart. [It is now very evident she is crying]. You are my everything. Please don’t ever think anything is more important to me than you. [Nicole’s voice starts to waver] I- I have to go. My flight to the middle east is about to start boarding. I um…I love you baby. Please… Please just have faith in me. Have faith that I am trying to do the right thing. This isn’t goodbye Waves. I meant what I said. This is only the beginning for us. I love you and I will miss you. Please be safe. I will see you later baby.

 

Waverly just stares at her phone for a minute before she curls into her sister and Gus. She cries until no more tears come. Gus hands her a tissue and they all move to the couch together. She will allow herself today to be sad and mope. Tomorrow is a new day and with it will come new challenges. So today, they will eat their feelings and watch trashy reality TV shows.

 


 

Eight months later…

Dolls and the rest of the team are sitting in the Black Badge office. They don’t have any leads and honestly, they don’t want to find any. The last couple months have been exhausting. Wynonna had described the feeling like: a hamster running on a wheel, but never actually going anywhere. Waverly is just plain exhausted. She is emotionally exhausted (having not heard anything from her wife in eight months). She is physically exhausted from all the hunting and the lack of sleep. Waverly kinda just wants to knock herself out so she can finally get some decent rest. Doc and Dolls seem just as exhausted too. Waverly can’t quite put her finger on it, but something is off with Dolls. She started noticing it about a week ago and hasn’t been able to shake the feeling. And every day, he seems to get even worse. He almost acts anxious about something. But Waverly is simply too exhausted to question him about it. There is a knock on the door that startles everyone. All of them pull their respective firearms as Dolls nears the door with caution.

 

“Are we expecting anyone?” Doc asks Dolls, eyeing the door.

 

“No.” Dolls says, grasping the door handle. He quickly cracks the door open and points his gun at the person on the other side. He lets out a breath, lowering his weapon. This is no stranger, he recognizes her. “Your back?” He opens the door wide enough so she can walk in and everyone can see who she is. He looks out the door to see if anyone else is with her. “And you’re alone.”

 

Liz walks in with a weird look on her face. Dolls closes the door, never taking his eyes off of her. She leans a bit on the table as she settles. “Look, I know you have a lot of questions. And I will answer as many as I can. But please let me get through the first part of this before you start firing off questions.

 

Waverly’s stomach hits the floor. Something is wrong. Liz doesn’t look good, and Nicole isn’t with her.

 

“Okay…” Wynonna says when it was clear Waverly and the others wouldn’t.

 

“So, first of all. Anything I say right now cannot leave this room. Anything I show you is for your eyes only. And also, I was never here.” Liz starts. She gets nods from everyone except Waverly, so she continues. “We were tasked with taking out a leader of a terrorist organization. But you already know that. What you don’t know is that during our second deployment, we found documents that led us to his location. We came home so the analysts could look through the files we recovered and validate them. After that, they quickly sent us back in the field. Dallas left directly from Calgary. She landed in Dubai and waited three days for the rest of us to show up. This was done as a scrambling method (a way to disguise our movements if we were being tracked. It is a whole lot easier to track an entire unit rather than a single person). We entered the sandbox together and hit the Hindu Kush mountain range. We were told the intel we gathered was authentic, so we trusted it. We followed him for three and a half months before we caught a fresh trace. It took us another three months to catch up. But when we did, we were ambushed.” Liz takes a second to compose herself, drinking from a glass of water Dolls offers her. “We took fire and uh…” Liz fiddles with something in her pocket before pulling it out and handing it to Dolls. “It might be better to show you.”

 

Dolls nods slowly before moving to the computer. He plugs in the flash drive Liz handed him and pulls up the only file on it. It is a video. He clicks it and pulls it up on the plasma. It is actually four different videos, one in each corner of the screen. They are each labeled with an ID number and a name (Farrell, Gibbs, Riley, and Green). Waverly feels like she is going to throw up. Nicole’s name isn’t connected to any of the camera angles.

 

“These are our body camera footage from the ambush. Uh, just a warning. It is pretty graphic.” Liz says, nodding to Dolls. Dolls clicks play and the videos come to life.

 

Nicole’s own camera footage may not be visible, but the audio from the coms allows them to hear her and the others’ footage allow them to see her in snippets.

 

It is relatively quiet at the beginning of the video. Then all hell breaks loose. Gunshots fire of and Riley is on the ground within seconds. He screams and Nicole immediately runs to him, pulling him out of the line of fire. She looks down at him and we can see from Green’s camera angle that he is bleeding. Green yells at Nicole there is nothing they can do for him. The look in her eyes tell him she already knows that. She still holds pressure to his wound and talks to him as he dies. Nicole yells and turns, returning fire once again. The firing continues as they try and move out of their location. They seem pinned. Nicole yells at Green to take cover! But Green isn’t fast enough. Several bullets hit him in the chest and he falls to the ground. Gibbs pulls him over to where Nicole and Liz are hidden. Nicole commands and later pleads with him to stay with her. But he only lasts a few minutes before he is gone too.

 

Liz pauses the video and takes another sip of water that doesn’t go down smoothly. She fights back tears. “Sir. Would you please fast forward two hours and thirty minutes. I would rather not relive my commanding officer and friend meltdown over losing her friend of almost fifteen years.”

 

Dolls nods and Waverly can’t stop the tears that fall silently down her face.

 

The video begins to play again.

 

“Gibbs. Status?” Nicole says over coms.

 

Gibbs turns to look at her. “No contact.”

 

Nicole nods and pulls out the sniper rifle that has been on her back. She sets up as quietly as possible and aims down the sight. Liz used a special set of recording binoculars to spot Nicole. After reporting wind speed and ambient temperature, Nicole takes a shot. From the binocular cam, we can see Nicole’s shot hit her target and the man she hit fall to the ground. Nicole takes another shot at his body for good measure. “Confirmed kill.” Nicole says softly.

 

The tone Nicole speaks in makes Waverly’s blood run cold. It is Nicole, but it doesn’t sound like her. She sounds, empty.

 

The video stops and Liz begins to speak again. “We got him. Quazi. We completed our mission. We sent in the signal and a military transport helicopter came to get us. The chopper landed and Gibbs and I got in. Nicole was getting on the ladder when…” Liz clicks play.

 

We see Nicole climbing the small ladder to the helicopter when gunshots ring out. Liz’s camera show Gibbs reach out for Nicole, but he isn’t fast enough. She was hit and she fell a few feet to the ground. Gibbs and Liz yell at the pilot to go back down to get her, but he refuses and they fly off.

 

Over the coms:

 

Liz: Dallas?! Nicole!

 

Gibbs: Come in Cap! Do you copy?!

 

Nicole: [sputtering sound, choking] I… [gasp] go!

 

Liz: Are you hit?!

 

Nicole: Two center mass hits. I think my armor {choking sound] took the brunt.

 

We can hear Liz yelling at the pilot to turn around but he continues to refuse.

 

Liz: Nicole! Dallas! Are you still there?!

 

The connection starts to break as they fly further away. But the unmistakable sounds of men yelling and Nicole’s yelling is unmistakable. Then the connection cuts into complete static.

 

The room is dead silent. Liz decides to speak after five minutes goes by. “Our contacts within the organization believe Dallas is likely still alive.”

 

“This footage is from a month and a half ago?” Dolls asks, his face emotionless.

 

“Yes. Gibbs and I have been in isolation since we got back in the States two weeks ago. We were just released last night. I flew straight here.” She pauses. “There- There is something else. But um… Waverly, Wynonna… you might want to leave for this part.”

 

“Not a snowballs chance in hell.” Wynonna spits out, trying her best to control the anger raging.

 

“I am staying. Please just show us everything you have.” Waverly says, just as emotionless as Dolls.

 

Liz visibly gulps. But hands Dolls another flash drive. He plugs it in and opens the only file on it. Another video, but this one is different. “The group sent this to the capital last week. It was transferred to General Edwards immediately after.”

 

The video begins to play. There are five people in the dimly lit room. There is a man speaking Pashto near the front. Next to him, a figure is slumped on its knees, a bag covering its head and its wrists are bound together. The three other men in the video brandish weapons. Waverly looks at the clothes of the person on their knees. Her heart sinks as she reads Haught on one of the breast patches. The man pulls the bag off the figure's head and reveals a very unhealthy looking Nicole. She is dangerously pale and her face is black and blue with bruises. The man leans down and pulls her head up by her hair to show the camera. She looks at him for a long moment before spitting blood in his face. He yells and another man hits her in the chest with the butt of his rifle. She hunches over, but does not fall. She says something to him, her voice coming louder and louder as each word comes out. Her Pashto is broken, but you can tell the man understands what she is saying. He orders the men to hit her again and again. She finally falls to the floor in a heap, but the men pull her to her knees again. She looks up at the camera and then down at the floor. The man begins to talk again, but Nicole raises her head once more and yells “Waverly! thirty milia passuum ab occidente montibus! five millia saxa!” Then the men are hitting her again and Nicole screams when one of the men hit her with a stun gun to the chest. The video cuts out, shortly after that, but not before we see Nicole’s body slump to the ground, almost lifeless, as more hits come. She doesn’t even flinch.

 

Liz looks at Waverly. “Waverly. I am sorry. But the message was clearly meant for you. Do you have any idea what she is saying? We ran it through a translation program. But that came up empty.”

 

“I need a pen and some paper and for you to play back what she says.” Waverly says, grabbing a pen and a piece of scrap paper. Liz replays the audio and Waverly writes. “Play it again.” Waverly says, still writing. Liz does twice more before Waverly stops writing. “I started teaching Nicole Latin a few months before her first deployment. Just for fun, you know. The reason your basic translator didn’t pick it up is because Nicole’s Latin is remedial at best. What she says translates to 30 miles from the west, the mountains of the. 5 miles rocks.” Waverly write something out. “If I have to guess, she meant to say thirty miles west of the mountains and five miles north of the rocks.” She looks up at Liz. “I don’t know if that means anything to you. Definitely a location.”

 

Liz pulls out her phone and relays the information to the team tasked with bringing Nicole home. "She was trying to disguise the location so her captures wouldn't understand what she was saying and cut it from the feed." Liz explains she types. “Thank you. All of you. I promise, I will do everything in my power to bring her home. I will send any updates I get as soon as I can.”

 

Liz moves to leave and is half out of the door when Doc’s voice stops her. “Ms. Farrell.” She turns and looks at him. “I am sorry for the loss of your two male friends. And thank you for the information regarding our girl.” He continues.

 

Liz looks like she might cry, but she instead nods her head and leaves the room. As soon as she is gone, Waverly bolts out of her seat and to the trashcan. Her lunch makes an unpleasant reappearance.

Chapter Text

Two weeks have gone by with no word from Liz. That is, until Dolls gets a phone call. The team hasn’t gotten much work done since hearing of Nicole’s capture. They spend their days pretending to do paperwork when, in reality, they are all lost in thoughts. So when Dolls’ phone rings and he answers with “Lance Corporal Farrell”, everyone’s attention is drawn.

 

“Deputy Marshall Dolls. I am going to send you a link to a secured video chat stream.” Liz says.

 

“Send it.” Dolls responds.

 

He receives the link and clicks it. Liz appears on the screen on the plasma. He hangs up the phone and turns to face the webcam for the plasma.

 

“Any update Lance Corporal?” Dolls asks.

 

“Yes. But I am afraid it is not the good news you are probably hoping for.” Liz says formally, but the regret is clear in her voice.

 

“Any news is better than none.” Dolls says.

 

Liz nods and looks down at a tablet in her hands. “We got another video yesterday.” A box pops up at the corner of the plasma screen. The video begins to play.

 

Nicole looks worse. She is tied to a chair. And there is wire wrapped around her torso and chest. On the floor next to her, there is a car battery. A man starts yelling in English to the camera. “You may have killed our Quazi, but for that, we will kill yours. She will die slowly and painfully. It will be serving justice!"

 

“Oh, for the love of God. Shut the fuck up! You are like a fucking broken record you piece of shit!” Nicole yells to the best of her ability.

 

The man ignores her and continues. “We want the locations of all your filthy compounds that litter our lands. Your soldier here knows where they are, but she is being… particularly difficult.” He looks over at Nicole in disgust and spits in her direction. “She struggles to get to him but she can’t break free. “So,” He continues. “We have two options. You can send us the information we want now, and we will kill your piece of trash quickly. Or…” He nods to the man near the battery. He connects the wires to the battery and Nicole screams. They keep the current on for ten long seconds before turning it off. “Or we can do our best to make her tell us.”

 

“I am not going to tell you shit!” Nicole gasps, as if the air has been stolen from her lungs.

 

“We will see Captain.” The man says. He turns his attention back to the camera. “I would consider your options wisely.”

 

The video cuts out and Liz looks up from the tablet.

 

“What is the plan Lance Corporal?” Dolls asks, the command in his voice unmistakable.

 

Before Liz can answer, a man steps into frame. “Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls.”

 

“General Edwards. Sir.” Dolls responds respectfully.

 

“The plan, is to try and find Captain Haught as soon as possible. She is an incredible and highly classified intelligence asset.“

 

“She is more than that! She is more than an asset you fucking-!“ Wynonna is cut off when Waverly places an arm on her sister’s shoulder.

 

Dolls sends her a warning look before looking back to the General. “Look, Dallas is a personal friend of mine. I have known her almost as long as Farrell and Green. I care about her too. But my position requires me to treat her as an asset.” Edwards says.

 

“We understand Sir.” Dolls says.

 

“One of our teams retrieved Green and Riley’s bodies so they can have a proper burial. That team searched the area for Haught but came up empty. We have assembled a recovery team in the event that we get a location.”

 

“Don’t you have a location? Based on what Nicole said in the first video?” Waverly asks.

 

Liz jumps in. “The area she directed us to encompasses almost fifty square miles. And that is assuming she is accurate. But we think we have a lead.”

 

“We are all ears.” Doc says.

 

“We figured out that they are using Dallas’ body camera to take the videos and using the enabled Bluetooth to send it through their own network.” Liz says, looking down at her tablet. She mirrors her screen so the Black Badge team can see it. “We tracked the signal through several different scrambling programs. So we think we may know where they are. Our problem is that we can’t go in blind. We can remotely access Haughts camera and get a live stream if we can get into her account. That is where we hit a wall.”

 

“Why?” Waverly and Wynonna ask in unison.

 

“Nicole’s body cam is her private property. That means, we don’t have a password to enter her account and there isn't an administrative way of hacking in. We need her password. We thought you all may be able to help us.” She pauses and looks at them. “This is our best shot of recovering her.”

 

There is a pause before Dolls asks, “What are the parameters for the password?”

 

“It is a three-password system.” Liz says, looking back down at her tablet. “First one is an eight-digit numerical password. We already tried her date of birth.”

 

“Maybe try 01082016.” Waverly says. Wynonna looks at her in question. “The date we first met.” Waverly explains.

 

“Nope.” Liz says. “Maybe the date you got married?”

 

“04212019” Waverly says.

 

“Not that one either.” Liz replies.

 

Waverly’s heart sinks, but then she has an idea. “Try 10112005.”

 

Liz types it in. “That’s it! How did you know that? What is that number?”

 

“That is the day Nicole’s mom died.” Waverly says.

 

“Oh okay. Well let’s move on to the next one…” Liz says.

 

“Parameters?” Dolls asks

 

“Open prompt, but it has a security question.” Liz says, looking down at the screen.

 

“What’s the question?” Doc asks.

 

“The prompt reads: ‘You are so much more than your last name. I know that. And I am going to stick around until you know it too.’ “

 

Wynonna gasps and shudders. “What is it?” Waverly asks.

 

“Nicole. She uh, she said that to me a few months after we met. Actually it was the first of many nights to come where she carried me home because I was to fucked up to care about myself and my safety.” Wynonna says. She looks up at the screen to look at Liz. “Try typing my name in.”

 

Liz types. “I tried Wynonna Earp, Wynonna, and just Earp. None of those worked.” Liz says.

 

Wynonna thinks for a moment before responding, “Try Wyn. W-Y-N.”

 

Liz does it and it works. “Okay.” Liz breathes out. “Last one. This one seems to be another eight digit numerical code. But this one has a prompt.”

 

“What is it?” Wynonna asks, eager to distract her brain from the last password.

 

“All it says is ‘F&I’“ Liz sighs. “I have no idea what that means. And we can’t guess wrong. This program erases everything after twenty missed attempts.”

 

“F&I is how Nicole refers to her relationship with Waverly.” Dolls supplies.

 

“Fire and Ice.” Doc adds. “I myself found it fitting as well.”

 

“Okay so it is the day they got married?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Or the day Ms. Haught first met Waverly.” Doc counters.

 

“Or it could be the day Nicole proposed.” Dolls says.

 

Waverly just stays silent. She is trying to think. All three of those options make sense. But something Nicole said a couple times is coming to mind. She always maintained the idea that the wedding and even the proposal weren’t the important parts for her. She enjoyed the ceremonial and traditional aspect of them, but the part she cared about was the life they would live together. The commitment to each other and the future.

 

“Do 01082016.” Waverly finally says.

 

“Why that one?” Wynonna questions.

 

“Because that was the beginning for us. That was the beginning of our life together, whether we knew it or not. Nicole values that day over all the others.” Waverly says firmly.

 

She looks at Liz and Liz nods back. She types into the tablet and a green screen covers the page. “It worked.” Liz says, but she doesn’t seem excited.

 

“Is there a problem Lance Corporal Farrell?” General Edwards asks, noticing her change.

 

“No problem Sir. Just realizing that in about seven minutes the live feed will start. Not something I look forward to Sir.”

 

“Neither do I.” He responds grimly.

 

Liz turns her attention to the Black Badge team. “Look guys, they are going to hack the feed and get Nicole’s exact location. But this will also trigger the live feed from her camera to turn on. We don’t know what we will see. You may want to sign off now.”

 

“I am staying.” Waverly says firmly. “You all can go if you need to.”

 

None of them move to leave, although Wynonna does grab one of her hidden bottles of jack and screws off the cap (taking a healthy swig). Doc does the same shortly after.

 

As they wait, Waverly thinks back to the last video. “Dolls?” Waverly asks softly. He looks at her. “Why did they wrap the wire around Nicole’s chest before connecting it to the car battery? The chair she is sitting in looks and sounds metal. Wouldn’t it be easier just to connect it to the chair?” She asks.

 

Dolls (for the first time Waverly can ever remember) visibly gulped and shuddered. “It uh…” He clears his throat. “The application of a sustained current across the chest causes tetanic contraction of the respiratory muscles. Basically, it causes your diaphragm to seize up. It suffocates you. It is a method of torture common in that region. It is a favored way of extracting information because it keeps the prisoner fully conscious. If the current is left on, it will lead to death by suffocation.”

 

“Dolls!” Wynonna scolds.

 

“Wynonna. I asked. If I didn’t want to know the truth, I wouldn’t have asked him.” She turns to Dolls, tears in her eyes. “Thank you.”

 

He doesn’t have time to respond before Liz is speaking. “Feed is coming in, they are tracking Nicole’s camera’s location as we speak.”

 

The video is fuzzy at first but it buffers and focuses after a few moments. The scene on the screen is horrifying. Nicole is no longer strapped to the chair. She is on the ground, not moving, in a pool of blood. The man from the earlier video walks into frame after a few minutes of silence.

 

“You ready to talk now?” He asks.

 

“Fuck off. I am not going to tell you shit.” Nicole rasps, clearly fighting her body to stay conscious.

 

“You could make this a lot easier on yourself and just tell me what I want to know. That would stop all the pain you are in.” He bites out with a menacing smile. As if he were doing her a favor.

 

“And what makes you think I want to stop this? We were just starting to have some fun! Nicole coughs, revealing her face. There is blood all over her face, especially in the area around her mouth and nose. She coughs out some blood but continues. “Plus, I don’t want to miss the look on your face when you realize your mistake.”

 

“And what mistake did I make?” He asks, curiosity peaked.

 

“Nicole tries to laugh but it falls short and she chokes on the air. “You are an idiot. Or maybe all your men are the idiots. But that’s fine. I would love to enlighten you.” She flinches a bit as something audibly cracks in her body. “You kidnapped a Captain of the United States Marine Corps. Not only that, but you captured me.” She looks at him. “Did you know, there is this paper that some high-level officials sign? It is similar to a DNR. You see, when people get major surgery in the U.S., they have an option to sign a Do Not Resuscitate form. Well, when I decided to take this mission on, I signed something similar. So if they don’t find me after a set amount of time or they do, but can’t rescue me safely…” Nicole laughs and coughs more. “…THEY BLOW THIS SHIT UP! So you better hope to whatever god you worship that they don’t find us. Because no one would be idiotic enough to come in here after me. So if they find us, there is a high chance you will be blown to pieces. And the best part…” Nicole pauses to look him dead in the eye. “You are exactly the type of person that deserves to die by the hands of a MOAB. There will be nothing left of your miserable existence on this planet.”

 

“It will kill you too.” The man says, startled by the new information and by the way Nicole says it.

 

Nicole does her best to shrug. “I guess so, but hey. At least I can die knowing you and your group will never hurt another person again. By the way, that was a really stupid move to bring me to your base of operations. It is bad enough I killed your leader, but now you have basically doomed your groups defeat impossibly more. In conclusion,” Nicole does her best to sit up. “THAT is why you are all idiots.” She says smugly.

 

She comes off cocky, but Waverly can see the emptiness in her eyes. Nicole has accepted her death is coming.

 

There are some men murmuring in Pashto in the background.

 

“General, Sir. Is that true. What Captain Haught said about her forms?” Liz asks before anyone can.

 

“Yes, that is true. She signed it the day she landed in Dubai. It was faxed here later that day. But don’t worry Farrell. I am not planning to blow up my friend.” The General says seriously. “I just got confirmation that our team is on the ground, three klicks out from Haught’s location.”

 

“he man yells at the other men, bringing everyone else’s focus back to the feed. The men grab Nicole’s body and lift her to her knees when it is clear she can’t stand. I won’t give you the satisfaction of a quick death. We might not have much time left, but you are going to suffer for every last moment of it!” At that statement, the man pulls a pistol and shoots Nicole once in the gut. She falls to the floor in a lifeless heap.

 

Waverly screams and the feed cuts out as panic takes over the other side of the feed. There are more gunshots and the men previously holding Nicole fall to the ground. The feed goes black and static.

 

Waverly just stares at the static, tears streaming down her face. Liz speaks first. “We will call once we know anything. Our communications team won’t know anything for a couple hours at least. Get some rest. I promise to call as soon as we know anything.”

 

Liz cuts the transmission and the call ends. It is silent for a moment before a loud crash startles everyone out of their shock. When they turn towards the noise, they see Dolls, his hand pressed into the drywall of the office wall. He removes his hand after a moment and punches another hole in the wall. Wynonna jumps up and gets between him and the wall, grabbing his hands. She pulls him into her and the both sink back to the wall. Doc moves Waverly over to the couch and she hugs him tight, crying into his shoulder. He pulls her close and hums softly in her ear. Waverly and Wynonna are both sobbing, and the boys each have silent tears of their own in their eyes. They don’t know if Nicole is alive, or even if she was rescued. All they know is that they all just witnessed their friend, sister in law, family member and wife get shot and fall lifelessly to the ground.

Chapter Text

They all head to the homestead together, too exhausted to go anywhere else. Dolls and Wynonna head to her room, Doc claims the couch and Waverly walks up to her room after she called Gus to tell her what they know. Gus tried to be strong, but even over the phone, Waverly could hear her aunt’s voice wavering the slightest bit. She gets to her room and undresses for bed. She pulls on one of Nicole’s hoodies and a pair of her Purg High P.E. shorts before falling into bed. She knows sleep is what she needs, but she doesn’t want to sleep. She wants to fall into oblivion and never have to get up. For the first time, Waverly is seriously considering how (or if) she can live her life without Nicole. If Nicole dies or is never rescued, what then? Waverly can’t cry anymore, all she has done today is cry since Liz’s call. She can’t do it anymore. She eventually falls asleep, face first in the bed, not even under the covers.

 


 

“Wynonna.” Dolls whisper shouts, shaking his girlfriend awake.

 

“What. What!” Wynonna says, not appreciating being awake after the day (hell the month) she has had.

 

“I got a call from Farrell.” Dolls says, standing and getting dressed.

 

“Liz? What? What did she say?” Wynonna asks, sobering out of her sleepiness in an instant.

 

“She said there are three tickets and a plane at Calgary International that are taking off in three hours. She said we need to be on that flight.” Dolls says quickly, while quickly packing one of his duffle bags with clothes and some of his necessities. “Pack a bag, now. And get Waverly up. Have her do the same.”

 

“What did Liz say about Nicole, Dolls?” Wynonna asks, getting up quickly.

 

“She didn’t. She just said we needed to be there. She said she will brief us once we arrive in South Carolina.” He says, moving to leave the room with his packed bag.

 

“Wait…” Wynonna starts.

 

“Earp.” Dolls says, stopping her. “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have time to explain right now. We need to get on the road or we will miss that flight. I will explain what I know on the way. Get Waverly and meet me at the car in ten minutes.”

 

Wynonna nods, shaking her startled expression before leaving the room to wake her sister.

 


 

“Doc is going to stay in Purgatory and make sure everything is okay. I told Nedley the situation so he will back him up.” Dolls says as they drive to the airport.

 

“It would be nice if, now, you told us the situation.” Wynonna deadpans from the backseat.

 

Dolls takes a deep breath. “Lance Corporal Farrell called and said Nicole was recovered by the recovery team. She didn’t give any indication of her condition (probably because she doesn’t know herself). After the recovery team cleared the area, the U.S. military attacked the compound from the air. There is nothing left besides a crater and some smoke. The recovery team was picked up and flown to the U.S.S. Mercy. From there, they flew the team to the nearest Navy hospital (which happens to be the U.S. Navy hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina). Farrell called me shortly after they took off from the Mercy. They are probably still in the air.”

 

“So what about Nicole?” Waverly asks. “Should we assume she is alive? They wouldn’t have us going all the way there if she was already gone, right?”

 

“Assume nothing Waverly. Nothing about Nicole’s mission or any of this is typical. There is no telling what we will see when we get there. All I know is that we need to be there. No matter what.” He looks into the rearview mirror and they make eye contact. Waverly nods her head in determination and the fall back into silence. Waverly leans into her sister and they both do their best to rest for the rest of the car ride.

 


 

They land at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (in Georgia) after a very long and grueling flight. They all managed to get some sleep, but it didn’t help their nerves much. There is a military transport vehicle waiting for them and they pile in without hesitation.

 

After an hour-long drive (crossing a state line at one point), they finally arrive at the Naval hospital in Beaufort. The all get out of the car to see Liz waiting for them at the door.

 

Waverly opens her mouth to ask a million questions but Liz stops her. “Take a breath. All of you. I will brief you as we walk.” Liz says, trying her best to keep her voice official. As they make their way through the maze of halls, Liz tries her best to tell them everything they want to know. “First of all, she is alive and she is here. A military helo brought her here. Upon arrival, she went into surgery. When they got to the Mercy, the doctors on board did two separate surgeries. Once she was stable enough to transport, they flew her here so she could get the care she couldn’t get on the Mercy. She got out of surgery about an hour ago and is still unconscious. From what the reports say, she hasn’t been consciously responsive since shortly after being extracted. Her injuries are extensive. Most of her ribs broken, punctured lung, damage to her diaphragm and spleen (basically a lot of internal bleeding), two gunshot wounds (both to the gut), lots of lacerations (a large one on the head that the doctors think may have caused a pretty severe concussion), and some electrical burns. The doctors on the Mercy treated the gunshot wounds and repaired the punctured lung. Her diaphragm should heal on its own in a week or so with medication and rest. Her spleen was severely damaged so they were forced to do a partial splenectomy. If it doesn’t heal, they will have to do a total splenectomy later. Once she got here, they took her into surgery so a cardio surgeon could evaluate the condition of her heart after she (the surgeon) was made aware of the method of electrocution used on Captain Haught. During that surgery, doctors worked on her ribs and basically cleaned up what was left.” Liz stops outside a door and faces the three. “She was still out when I left to get you. Doctors aren’t sure when she will wake up. Said it is probably a blessing, considering the pain she will be in once she wakes up.” Liz nods to the soldier guarding the door and he opens the door to let them in. After the three enter, Liz speaks once again (although only Wynonna and Dolls are looking at her). “I will give you guys some privacy. I will have a doctor come by later and update you.” Dolls nods and thanks Liz before she closes the door behind her. None of them miss how she couldn’t look at Nicole.

 

The two turn to face Nicole and really look at her for the first time. She is in a hospital bed, surrounded by machines and pumps and wires. Waverly can’t seem to take her eyes off of her (ever since the door opened). She slowly moves and sits in the chair that is pulled up to Nicole’s bedside. She cautiously takes Nicole’s limp hand in her own. It is scratched and bruised. There are some ligature marks on her wrists, but they seem well cared for and clean. Waverly strokes Nicole’s hand with the one not holding it. Wynonna pulls up a chair next to her sister and places one hand on her sister’s leg and one on Nicole’s. Dolls gives Wynonna’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze before he moves to sit near the door. None of them say anything, they all just sit and wait.

 


 

At some point, Wynonna moved to sleep next to Dolls on a small couch near the door. Waverly fell asleep, her face pressed into the bed, her hand still holding Nicole’s. Doctors had come in periodically to check her chart and give progress reports. Liz had also brought by a bag of stuff for Nicole. Her dog tags, a pair of sweats, some shorts, undergarments and some t-shirts. Waverly grabbed the dog tags, only to find Nicole’s silicone wedding ring stringed on to them, along with an additional tag. She smiles sadly at the ring, unstringing it from the chain. She looks at it for a moment before rounding the bed and putting it on Nicole’s ring finger. She then looks at the additional tag. It looks just like the other two, but instead of identification information, it is a list of names and a quote at the bottom.

 

Waverly, Wynonna, Gus,

Dolls, Doc, Chrissy, Nedley

“Family isn’t who’s blood you carry.

It’s who you love and who loves you back”

 

Waverly, for the first time since arriving at the hospital, cries. She does it softly (as to not wake the other occupants of the room). But she cries and cries until she falls back asleep.

 


 

Waverly is awoken when her own hand is squeezed, ever so slightly. She looks up to see a very groggy, but awake Nicole.

 

“Sorry.” She says as best she can. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I just wanted to make sure you were real this time.” Nicole says sheepishly. There is so much pain in her features and it breaks Waverly’s heart. Another part of her heart breaks when Nicole utters the words ‘this time’. But she decides to let it go for the time being.

 

“I love you Nicole Haught.” Waverly says softly, kissing Nicole’s hand.

 

“I love you too baby.” Nicole begins to tear up. “I am so sorry Waverly.”

 

“Hey, shhhhhhh. Relax Nic. I know. We can talk about it later. Right now, I need you to focus on getting better.” Waverly says in a soothing voice.

 

Nicole sniffles, waking up Dolls and Wynonna. They both come over and see her.

 

“How’s your pain Nicole?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Depends on what kind your talking about.” Nicole quips, but regrets it when something in her begins to crack. She turns to Dolls. “Give it to me straight Dolls. Please.”

 

“Nicole, I don’t think now is the right…” Dolls starts.

 

“Dolls please. I would rather get all the breaking done in one go.” Nicole says, glumly.

 

“Riley and Green are gone. MOAB destroyed the compound once they got you out. Lance Corporal Farrell and PFC Gibbs are both okay. They came back a little banged up, but both are already back to work in some capacity. Your injuries were extensive, but I will let the docs tell you about that.”

 

Nicole squeezes Waverly’s hand as tightly as she can muster, the emotional pain manifesting into physical pain. After a moment, her muscles relax and she seems to let the pain pass. “Thank you.” Is all Nicole says. The drugs she is on pull her back into sleep after a few more moments.

 


 

The hospital staff has accommodations for them on the floor above Nicole’s room. Wynonna and Dolls eventually cave and go to sleep upstairs. Waverly however, can’t seem to pull herself from Nicole’s side. She was spent the last nine months away from her and she doesn’t want to let her go again. Nicole hasn’t woken up again since the first time, and part of Waverly knows that is a blessing. Because the amount of pain Nicole is in might be too much when conscious. But part of Waverly, a selfish part, wants Nicole to wake up. To reassure her that everything is going to be okay. To tell her she isn’t going anywhere and that this pain will pass. Waverly knows these are the things that she should be saying to Nicole, but knowing that doesn’t reduce her own need to hear them too. She sleeps in Nicole’s room every night. Sometimes on the couch, sometimes in the chair pulled to the side of her bed. Doctors and nurses come through from time to time, commenting on Nicole’s improving test results. Waverly nods her head at the right times and thanks them when they leave, but she can’t really seem to focus on anything. She is exhausted. She has slept more in the last few days than she has in her whole life, yet, she is still exhausted. She does her best to keep it together, but one thought keeps popping up in her head. Please. Please wake up.

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up five days later… screaming. Liz is there, helping the doctors and nurses as they try to hold her down. They are yelling for someone to get a sedative but all are too focused on trying to keep Nicole from moving. Dolls holds Waverly and Wynonna at the door, knowing their instinct would be to try and help. Nicole’s screaming continues. Obviously, the morphine stopped working and the pain brought her back to consciousness. She yells in agony and both Earp sisters know there is nothing they can do. Dolls, on the other hand, has an idea.

 

“Stay.” He says to the girls, lightly pushing them to sit on the couch. They nod, but the confusion on their faces is obvious. “Trust me.” He says.

 

He moves across the room and stands at the foot of the bed. The doctors look at him skeptically, but don’t have enough time to question him before he speaks. “Captain Haught!” Dolls orders in a commanding voice. Nicole’s scream seems to fall short, but she still physically struggles in pain. “Captain Nicole Haught!” He tries again, a little louder. Nicole cracks her eyes open and recognizes Dolls. The doctors are confused but get out of the way when Dolls moves to stand next to Nicole’s bed. He holds out his arm and she grabs it instantly, clutching it tightly in the way she and Dolls always do when she leaves for deployments. “Haught, I need you to fight this, fight the pain.” Dolls commands, although his volume is lower now. She does her best to stop, but her body still writhes in pain involuntarily. She looks confused and scared. He fears the answer, but he knows someone needs to ask. “Nicole, do you know where you are?”

 

“No.” Nicole says through gritted teeth.

 

“Do you know who I am.” Dolls asks.

 

“Yes.”

 

“What is the last thing you remember?”

 

Nicole groans and fights another scream. She clenches her eyes shut and her grip on Dolls’ arm tightens. “He shot me... again. I don’t know what was real after that.” Nicole says.

 

Everyone’s hearts sink. Shit.

 

“Okay. Haught, I need you to answer some questions for me, okay?” Dolls says as a doctor hands him a clipboard with questions on it.

 

Nicole nods as best she can. “Date and place of birth?”

 

“Dallas, Texas. July 16th, 1989.” She responds.

 

“Do you know how old you are now?” He asks.

 

“30ish?” Nicole says, guessing. “When I left, I was thirty.”

 

“Okay. Good. You are doing good Haught.” Dolls says, knowing she is giving this all she has. “Do you remember where you live?”

 

“I live in Canada. Where am I Dolls?” She asks him, suspicious.

 

“You are in a hospital in South Carolina.” Dolls answers, gauging her suspicion. “You were recovered about a week ago. You mind answering a couple more questions?”

 

“Does Waverly know?” Nicole asks him, fear and shame waring inside her. “Did… did you tell her?”

 

“She is here. But I need you to answer some more questions Nicole.” Dolls says patiently.

 

“Only if you answer one of mine.” She counters. Flinching as another wave of pain hits her. He nods. “Does she hate me?”

 

Obviously, all the doctors and nurses had blocked her view because Nicole doesn’t seem to know that Waverly is in the room. She doesn’t seem to remember waking up earlier this week and she seems to be having a difficult time distinguishing when reality stopped and her imagination started.

 

Before Dolls could answer, Waverly slips in beside him and places a hand on Nicole’s shoulder, bending down and placing a light kiss on her forehead. “No, I do not hate you.” Waverly whispers. “But Nic, you need to answer the questions. Please.” Nicole nods, tears in her eyes, and Dolls hands the clipboard back to the doctor so she can continue the evaluation.

 

“Okay Captain, just a few more. Just so we can test your memory? Let’s start with the name of your spouse, a name of a friend, and your occupation.” The doctor says.

 

“Waverly is my wife. Friends? I don’t really have those. I just have family and enemies. But, I guess my friends are my sister in law, my boss, and a cowboy.” Nicole chuckles, stopping immediately when the pain hits her. “And I am a cop.”

 

“Good, well the medication should start to kick in any moment now. Your pain should subside in a while. The confusion and the mild memory loss should just be from the concussion and the anesthesia. You should be back to normal in a few hours.” The doctor concludes. “We will be back in a little while to check on you.”

 

Almost immediately, the pain starts to drip away and Nicole’s body starts to relax. She nods her head and all the doctors leave. She looks to Dolls and then to Wynonna (who moved to the bed after the doctors vacated the area) and then to Waverly. Nicole finally let’s go of Dolls’ arm and looks at the ceiling. “Fuck.”

 


 

Liz sits in the chair at the foot of Nicole’s hospital bed. She has been sitting there for twenty minutes now, but hasn’t said a word. Nicole just watches her, concern in her eyes. She won’t push Liz to talk, but she knows there is a reason Liz can’t seem to look her in the eye. After a deep breath, Liz looks up and meets Nicole’s gaze.

 

“Can we talk? Off the record?” Liz asks.

 

Nicole nods and smirks a bit. “Everything from this moment on is off the record Liz. I promise. What is on your mind?”

 

“What the fuck were you thinking Dallas?” Liz says coldly.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“You let them hurt you. You taunted them. I know you. You let them continue torturing you.” Liz says, staring Nicole down.

 

Nicole isn’t fazed by the line of questioning. “You are right Liz, you know me. It is for that reason that I also know that you know it wasn’t much of a choice.”

 

“I don’t understand.” Liz says, angry.

 

“Do you understand that I was forced to leave everything I care about to go and essentially assassinate someone. A bad man that was responsible for the deaths of hundreds, but that doesn’t make it okay. Do you understand that I left my wife and my family, only to watch two of my men die. They were my men Liz. It is my job to protect them and lead them. I watched both of them die. Green…!” Nicole shudders, tears welling in her eyes but not falling. “Mike died in my arms. I watched the only man I every truly trusted, the man I considered my brother, die. He died and I couldn’t do anything about it. I failed to protect and lead him properly.” Nicole visibly swallows, regaining some composure. “I don’t think it is too hard to understand why I felt like I deserved everything I got in that hell hole.” Nicole says, looking at her sheets.

 

“You have a family to think about. What you did was reckless and stupid.” Liz counters, softer now.

 

“My family is all I think about Liz! They are my number one priority! But I am fucked up! I am and I don’t know if I can be fixed! I don’t want them to be burdened by me, or worse, I could hurt them! I don’t want that for them! They don’t deserve it! They don’t deserve to be forever anchored to me and all my problems!” Nicole is angry and she can’t real it in now.

 

“And how would you dying make things better?! Hugh?! How would making your wife a widow make any of this better?! How would making Wynonna, Gus, Dolls and Henry lose their family member and friend make it better?! How would losing my friend of fifteen years make my life easier?! I already lost Mike, Nicole! He is gone and there was nothing anyone could have done to save him! And I almost lost you too! Tell me! How do any of these things improve the situation?!” Liz is on her feet, gripping the bed tightly.

 

“You don’t understand what it was like in there for me! You can’t!” Nicole fires back, but the holes in her armor are starting to show as her voice wavers.

 

 Liz takes a deep breath, calming down. She looks up at Nicole with a softened look on her face. “Then help me understand. Please.”

 

 Nicole turns away, not wanting to look at Liz as a tear finally falls from her eye. When she turns, she notices that Dolls, Wynonna and Waverly are all awake and sitting on the couch at the edge of the room. Guess the yelling woke them and probably half the hospital up. She looks at Waverly, whose eyes are brimmed with unshed tears. Nicole nods, more to herself than to anyone in particular. She looks back at Liz and nods (more confident this time). “General Edwards is coming here any minute. Once he is gone, then I will.” Nicole says.

 

“Okay.” Liz says, willing to wait a little longer if it means getting answers.

 


 

The General left a minute before Waverly walks into Nicole’s hospital room. “Liz is using the restroom and making a call before coming in.” She says, moving to her wife’s side.

 

“Will you uh… lay down with me?” Nicole asks, not knowing if this is crossing some invisible line. They haven’t had much physical contact beyond hand holding and forehead kisses and Nicole doesn’t want to push Waverly.

 

“Nic, your ribs…” Waverly starts.

 

“Are healed enough.” Nicole finishes for her. “Waves, my ribs are almost completely healed, hell, most of my physical injuries are healed. They want to discharge me in the next two weeks. I have been unable to be with you for…” Nicole thinks. “Over ten months now.” Nicole pauses and takes a breath. “If you don’t want to because you are not comfortable, that’s okay. But be honest with me about it. I will understand. Please don’t use my injuries as an excuse. That is far more painful than the truth.”

 

“I just don’t want to hurt you.” Waverly says in a small voice, brushing a lock of Nicole’s hair out of her face. “Trust me, I miss you, feeling you, more than you can imagine.” Waverly admits.

 

“Then come here and stay with me. Because I don’t think I can do this without you Waverly.” Nicole says the last part in a soft tone.

 

Waverly moves to get on the bed and Nicole scoots over to make room (not that it is really necessary, the bed is huge). Waverly lays on her side, next to Nicole. She shifts so her head is laying on Nicole’s shoulder and Nicole’s arm wraps around her, pulling her closer. Waverly can’t help the involuntary shudder that runs through her at the contact. It has been so long. She almost forgot how it felt to be held by Nicole. What it felt like to touch her and to be touched. It is like a shock to your system. Like coming into a warm room after walking through a snow storm. Waverly whimpers softly, holding back the emotions that want to spill out. Nicole kisses the top of her head, wanting more than anything to kiss Waverly on the lips. But she knows it isn’t the right time. Her wife drapes and arm over Nicole’s body and Nicole can’t help but relax more into the touch. She knew she missed Waverly’s touch, but she didn’t know it could feel like this. They stay in silence, both doing their best to soak in the moment before Liz, Dolls and Wynonna join them and start talking.

 

Chapter Text

“I knew one of the shots went through the vest.” Nicole says, looking anywhere but at the other occupants of the room. “I hit the ground and I could feel the blood spilling under the vest. My whole back hurt. The vest stopped three out of four of the hits, so I owe the damn thing my life… again. They seized me and dragged me across the ground. I passed out from the pain for a little while. When I woke up, they had pulled off the external body armor and taken almost all of my weapons (I had a knife in my sock that they missed because of the boots) and they had me tied to a post in the center of the room. The position required me to hold me bound hands above my head at all times. One of the men did a hack job trying to get the bullet out of me. All that did was cause more pain and bleeding. They needed me alive, so they packed the wound and left it alone. I spend the first few days alone in that room (those were the good days).” Nicole shudders and chokes on the air.

 

Waverly, who is still laying in the bed next to her, grips her hand tightly. “You need some water?” She asks.

 

“Please.” Nicole says with nod. Waverly hands her a cup and Nicole drains it before continuing.

 

“They took my watch, so I didn’t really know exactly how much time had passed. But I could tell, based on the men changing their clothes and the periodical guard shift changes that days were passing. After a couple days of leaving me alone, the man who made the videos, Atal, he uh… he came in and started asking me questions. He wanted to know the locations of our mobile base camps in the region. I refused to tell him.” Nicole looks up at the ceiling and breaths out the rest. “That’s when he and his men started to punch and kick the crap out of me. In the process, I lost more blood and by the time they stopped, I was already passed out.”

 

Nicole looks down at Waverly, who is holding herself tightly to Nicole. She feels so much strength in the touch and it pushes her to continue.

 

“They used the body camera to shoot videos of them torturing me. Probably just for kicks and giggles. Then they got the bright idea to use the camera to try and get what they wanted.” Nicole barks out harshly. “The first video they sent, did you have someone translate the Pashto?” Nicole asks Liz.

 

“Yes, but so much of it is muffled and the quality is shit. We still don’t have it all translated.” Liz says regretfully.

 

“Would you mind handing me the tablet?” Nicole says, holding out her free arm. Liz hesitates, but does as she is asked. After handing the tablet to Nicole, she returns to her seat near the foot of the bed. Nicole types quickly through different windows until she opens up the video in question. She swallows hard before clicking it to play. As the video progresses, Nicole uses her memory and her knowledge to fill in the muffled parts. “The America will fall at our feet. Then the rest of the world will follow.” Nicole translates a muffled portion. In the video, he pulls her up by her hair and she spits blood into his face. “He is yelling about how I will regret the day I was born and something along the lines of calling me a dirty whore.” Nicole says something in response, but doesn’t feel the need to translate it. It is pretty obvious she is telling him go suck an egg and fuck off. Then they’re beating her again, Waverly flinching at the sounds of impact as she refuses to watch, favoring burying her face into Nicole’s shoulder. They hit her with the stun gun and Nicole’s scream fills the room.

 

The video ends and Nicole closes the program and shuts the tablet off. She looks down at Waverly’s hidden face and then over to Wynonna, who is sitting in the chair next to her bed (a hand on her sister and the other clenched into a fist). Wynonna is looking down at the clenched fist, trying to fight the anger that wants to explode from her veins. She looks up at Nicole and sees the tears in Nicole’s eyes. Nicole feels responsible. The two people she loves most in this world are hurting so much and it’s her fault. Wynonna recognizes this look and moves into action. She stands, walking to the other side of the bed. She climbs in (on the other side of Nicole from Waverly) and lays back. She grabs Nicole's free hand and lets their joined grip lay on the space in between them.

 

“What do you remember next?” Liz asks gently.

 

“I woke up strapped to a chair. The metal handcuffs were so tight, they cut my wrists. And… I was… wired to a car battery….” Nicole takes a deep cleansing breath, feeling strength in the two women on her sides. They dumped water all over me and then turned it on. They did that, along with cutting my skin, tasing me and general beatings for several days. Kinda like clockwork. After about two weeks, he filmed another video of him demanding shit. They kept that going, electrocuting me with that damn battery.” Nicole coughs. “It felt like someone was sucking the air out of my lungs and burning me, at the same time. After that, the struggling and the beatings caused the wound to bleed through the packing and I started to bleed out. I passed out some time later. Then he returned and kept asking me for the intel he wanted.” Nicole huffs. “Fucking dimwit. He didn’t even know what the fuck he was doing. He didn’t even think there was a possibility that no one would come for me or that I wouldn’t talk. He got so frustrated and his anger pushed him over the edge. He shot me again… The rest of what I remember is not reality. At least, now I can tell what was and wasn’t real. The stupidest part was that I had accepted that I was going to die there. That I left home without saying goodbye to my family. That I was responsible for the deaths of my men. For the deaths of my brother and friend. That I made a mistake and I deserved to die there because of it. I prayed and begged for death during my time there. I begged for it to end. I have hurt so many people already. I deserved to die in that hell hole. I deserve to go to hell and pay for all the mistakes.” Nicole is sobbing as she looks up at Liz. “We killed- I killed so many people. I have hurt so many people. I have hurt the people I love most in this world.” Nicole chokes and barely gets out the last thought. “I deserve to be dead and I’m not. I have hurt so many people I care about and I don’t know if I can live with that.”

Chapter Text

“I deserve to be dead and I’m not. I have hurt so many people I care about and I don’t know if I can live with that.” Nicole chokes out.

 

Wynonna hears it, replaying it over and over in her head. She hears the implication of what Nicole is saying and her heart feels like it stops for a moment. Her gut wrenches and she feels sick. Instead of getting up, she scoots down, burrowing into Nicole’s other side (mirroring her sister). She takes Waverly’s hand and they hold them tight, locking them over Nicole’s body. Wynonna cries, for the first time since watching the live feed. She really cries and thoughts of her life, her sister’s life, all of their lives without Nicole in it surface in her mind. She clutches herself to Nicole with the hand not joined with Waverly’s. They cry together, Nicole’s heart monitor beeping in the background.

 


 

A doctor comes in a few hours later with some progress reports but stops short as she sees the scene in front of her. Waverly and Wynonna are still laying with Nicole in the hospital bed, a protective arm lock between the sisters grounding Nicole in place, keeping her there, although it is unlikely she would ever try and leave. They are all asleep, holding each other in a way that begs for peace. The doctor knows it is against regulations to allow other people in the bed with the patient, but she doesn’t have the heart to wake them, let alone separate them. She turns around and shuts the door softly behind her.

 


 

Liz’s phone rings and she picks it up quickly, rubbing the emotions from her face.

 

“Farrell.”

 

“Lance Corporal Farrell. I have a visitor requesting access to Captain Haught.” The front gate guard says.

 

“Captain Haught is not taking visitors at the present moment.” Liz responds, tired.

 

“She is insisting ma’am. She requested for me to contact you directly.” The soldier responds.

 

Liz is about to shut the idea down but stops short. The person knew who she was and knew Nicole. And not only that, but their location. She shudders a bit, thinking of all the enemies that could be just outside the walls of this hospital. “What is the name of the visitor?” She asks.

 

The soldier on the other end clears his throat before answering.

 


 

“Waves, baby.” Nicole says, sadness in her features. “Please. You know I don’t want you to go. But you need to get some decent rest. You can’t keep sleeping on that couch or upright in these chairs. Go upstairs with Wynonna and Dolls and sleep on an actual bed. Please.”

 

“I told you I wasn’t going to leave you.” Waverly says, trying her best to hide how appealing an actual bed sounds at the moment.

 

“You need to take care of yourself. I don’t want you to go anywhere, but you need to go somewhere besides this hospital room. You need to breathe fresh air and sleep in a bed and eat some normal food and get some actual rest.” Nicole says, knowing she is doing the right thing, even if it is killing her to do so.

 

“Nic, I just…” Waverly starts.

 

“Waverly if you try and argue with me one more time, so help me, I will get out of this bed and carry you upstairs myself.” Nicole says with a small, wicked smile.

 

“Promise?” Waverly asks with a wicked smirk of her own. She leans down and kisses Nicole on the cheek.

 

“Go.” Nicole says, nudging Waverly playfully. She does her best to ignore the ache she feels from the kiss. She smiles at her once more before Waverly is reluctantly leaving the room, but only after Waverly promises to only be gone a few hours.

 

Nicole leans her head back into the pillow and exhales deeply. The silence that fills the room is deafening. But that isn’t a bad thing for Nicole. It makes her feel a little bit of numbness in a way the all the pain killers in the world can’t. Because, emotionally, she feels like an exposed nerve. Her mental and emotional injuries are far more painful that the physical ones. The guilt, that’s almost the worst. Actually, it is the worst. Because she truly believes all of this is her fault. And the heartbreak. The heart break she feels when her wife can’t bare to kiss her properly, settling for kisses on the forehead and cheeks. The heartbreak she feels knowing her best friend, Wynonna, who never lets her raw emotions show, fell asleep crying into her chest last week. The heartbreak gets overshadowed by the guilt though. Because she reminds herself all this heartbreak (hers and her loved ones’) is her fault. She thinks about Green. The man was… just a man. He was flawed and he made mistakes. But to a seventeen-year-old Nicole, he frickin’ hung the moon and all the stars. He was so kind and smart, and made sure you always felt comfortable. He was a brother to her, a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold. He was also the person to kick your ass if you were being an idiot or dump cold water on your sleeping form when you overslept. He was an ass sometimes, but he was also the best damn person. He was so unapologetically genuine and that was exactly what Nicole needed after watching her mother die and subsequently watch her family fall apart. He was a rock, firm and stable. He was there when she needed him and left her alone when she didn’t. And now he is gone. He is gone when she needs her brother the most. And the worst part is it is all her fault. She deserves to be dead. She deserves to go to Hell and pay for all the wrong she has done. She deserved every shock, every punch, every fist, all of it. He is gone and she doesn’t want to live with the guilt. She thinks about how life will continue for her. How living with all this guilt is far worse than the physical torture she has endured. She looks up at the ceiling, not able to cry anymore. The sadness is fading and the anger is starting to seep in. She slowly gets out of bed, flinching and wincing as her body cracks and pops. She moves to the bathroom, grabbing the bag of clothes on her way.

 

 

She is under strict orders to not leave her bed, let alone the room. But she can’t lay in that bed and think all day. She changes into a pair of green nylon shorts and a polyester t-shirt with her unit logo on it, the Marine Corps emblem displayed on both articles of clothing. The physical training uniform is probably Nicole’s favorite of the uniforms. It doesn’t display medals or ribbons or even show your rank. Everyone wearing that uniform is the same while wearing those threads.

 

She casually walks down the halls, following the signs as she goes. No one seems to notice her and she makes an effort to keep a low profile. She ties her hair into a ponytail and ducks her head slightly as she walks. Her movements are strained, but she doesn’t let it show. All her muscles feel tender and she feels the anger rise a bit more when she feels the muscle tone that she has lost. She feels weak and that is not a way she likes to feel.

 

After four flights of stairs and one wrong turn, Nicole finally finds the gym two floors below her room. She enters the spacious gym to find it empty. She is relieved. She doesn’t really want anyone else to be in here with her. She moves over to the punching bags and grabs a roll of tape. She wraps her hands tight, wincing when the tape bites at her sensitive wrists. She ignores it with a grunt and starts to hit the heavy bag. She starts out slow at first, her body objecting to the motions. But as the minutes and then hours pass, her punches hit harder and her groupings of strikes are faster and longer. She is sweating through her clothes, but she doesn’t want to stop. Working out is how she usually deals with her stress. She needs to be alone and punch the crap out of the bag. She needs to let this anger out on the bag. If she doesn’t, she will either let it out on someone or it will consume her.

 


 

Meanwhile, upstairs at Nicole’s room…

 

“How can she be missing?!” Waverly exclaims.

 

“We are searching the hospital for her Ma’am. She will show up eventually.” The nurse says.

 

“She probably just went for a walk. You know she can’t stand laying in that hospital bed all day.” Wynonna says, trying to calm her sister. Waverly visibly relaxes as she takes in what Wynonna is saying. She is probably right.

 

Dolls grabs Nicole’s bag from the bathroom. “Her PT uniform is the only thing I notice is missing from her belongings.” Dolls looks to the nurse. “Do you have a gym on this floor?”

 

“No. There is a gym two floors down and then one on the top floor.” The nurse says, looking down at his clipboard. “She is supposed to be on bedrest. She might be healing, but I doubt she could make it to the top floor.”

 

“What makes you think Nicole ‘Pain in the ass stubborn’ Haught wouldn’t try to climb those stairs?” Wynonna counters.

 

“Okay, so we will check the top floor gym first and then move down.” Dolls says as if handing out orders. The three of them nod and move to leave the room. They are about to leave the hall when they practically run into Liz, who looks a bit shaken.

 

“Whoa there, where’s the fire Soldier?” Wynonna jokes, only half kidding. After all the shit that has gone down, she wouldn’t be surprised if there was a fire.

 

“Sorry.” Liz says, stepping back and to the side revealing a young woman that Waverly vaguely recognizes. But she can’t seem to place her. Her attention returns to Liz. “We just needed to see Captain Haught.”

 

The young woman’s eyebrows raise slightly at Nicole’s title, but they return to normal as quickly as they came. “She isn’t in her room.” Dolls says. “We don’t know where she is.” He eyes the young mystery woman suspiciously. “Her PT uniform is gone. We were thinking she is in the gym. There are two, we were going to check the one on the top floor first.”

 

“We will check the other. Two floors down, right?” Liz says. Obviously, she was really intent on seeing Nicole asap.

 

“Affirmative.” Dolls says.

 

“Let me know if you find her up there. If not, rendezvous at the bottom gym.” Liz says, walking away with the young woman in tow. Waverly looks at the woman as she leaves. She looks to be in her late teens or maybe her early twenties. She has straight, dark hair that falls to her mid-back. Waverly is racking her brain, trying to remember where she knows this girl from. She shakes her head and follows Dolls and her sister to the other gym.

 

Chapter Text

Liz walks down the stairs in a daze, still trying to comprehend what she is experiencing. She looks back at the young woman several times, just to make sure she is real. And she is. By the time they reach the gym, Liz wants to know everything.

 

“I don’t understand.” Liz says honestly.

 

The woman smiles sadly. “I know. It is a lot to take in and it is a long story. But I need to talk to Nicole first. You understand, don’t you?” The woman asks, hopeful.

 

“I do.” Liz responds, because she really does. Nicole deserves to know the truth first. She looks up and sees Nicole is, in fact, in the gym. She is punching the crap out of the heavy bag hanging on the stand and from the looks of it… she has been at it for a while. She pulls out her phone and sends out a text.

 

Farrell: We found her. She is in the bottom gym.

 

Dolls: 10-4

 

Waverly: On our way down now.

 

Liz pockets her phone and watches as the dark-haired woman enters the gym, closing the door behind her.

 

 

The sound of Nicole’s fists impacting the bag and her occasional grunts of exertion and pain fill the air. The woman walks over to her cautiously, trying her best not to startle the woman. Liz filled her in on what happened to Nicole. She is aware of her condition and how it is probably affecting her. Nicole stops once she notices the other woman’s presence. She turns to fully face her, a look of conflict on her face. Nicole shakes her head once, then twice before she just stares for a long moment.

 

“I’m sorry… um… Do I know you?” Nicole asks. There is a sense of familiarity that the woman puts out, but Nicole still can’t place her.

 

The woman laughs lightly, looking down at her feet before looking back at Nicole. “You did. But that was a long time ago.” She pauses and looks at the still confused and on guard Nicole. She chuckles lightly. “You have gotten old Nini.” She says with a sarcastic smirk.

 

The nickname kicks Nicole’s brain into gear. Memories buried years ago, happy, yet bittersweet, surface.

 

“Nini! Nini! Come play!” A young girl shouts from across the plaza. Nicole recognizes the small girl instantly. The six your old girl runs over to Nicole and tugs on her uniform. “Please come play Nini. All of the other kids are busy.” The young brunette whines. She pouts, knowing Nicole will cave almost instantly. And Nicole does. She smiles down at the young girl and nods. She swiftly lifts the girl off the ground, relishing in the adorable squeal of happiness Laura lets out when Nicole puts her on her shoulders.”

 

Laura. Laura! “Laura?” Nicole asks in disbelief, looking at the woman in front of her. She looks at the woman, studying her. Her hair, her facial features, her height and build. Then Nicole looks into her eyes, really looks. They are green, with an unmistakable tint of gold near the edge. I guess some things never change. “How…? Are you…? What is…?” Nicole fails to find the words, she has too many questions to ask.

 

“Mind sitting down? It is kinda a long story.” Laura says, sitting down on the mat floor.

 

Nicole sits and looks at her expectantly. She is in total shock and she needs some answers before she loses her ever-living mind.

 

“After you left, fighters came in and took our village. They killed almost everyone. They lined up the survivors at the edge of the village and made us watch as they burned our village to the ground.” She looks at Nicole, who is listening intently. There is pain in her features, but it is under control. “They took five of us. We were all children. There were three boys, another girl, and myself. They kept us locked in one of their prisons for almost six months before we were rescued. The Israeli government sent in the team that rescued us. But it wasn’t soon enough. They did some really messed up things to us while we were there. One of the boys and the other girl died after the first week of being there. After being rescued, we were granted asylum in Israel. I was there for two years before I was granted permission to move to the United States. I was granted political asylum and started a life here. I was only ten at that point. I lived with a family for four years before my father got to the U.S. and found me. He had fled to the States after hearing that I had escaped there. He worked hard, got a job working for the government, acting as a translator and intel analyst. I went to school, found out I was pretty good at it (probably thanks to a redheaded soldier that taught me how to do math and encouraged my creativity).” Laura smiles at Nicole, tears in her eyes. “I started to look for you as soon as I got to the States. I called the Marines and my dad even hired a private investigator to try and find you. After years of searching, I got word you were in Chicago. I graduated high school at eighteen and took the offer I got from Chicago State University. I got a B.S. in psychology in three years and now I am working on my masters there too. I looked all over for you, but by the time I got there, you were gone. And no one seemed to know where you went. That’s where the trail went cold. Then, a few months ago, I got word from my handler that someone killed the Quazi.” Laura pauses and looks Nicole in the eyes. “He said that the man responsible for the death of my mother, my kidnapping, and the destruction of my home was dead. That a team of Marines killed him and destroyed their base of operations. I wanted more information and after a lot of asking the right people, I got in touch with General Edwards. He knew who I was and informed me it was you who killed him. I already had a feeling it was you, but the confirmation was needed. He told me you were captured though.” She looks at Nicole cautiously before continuing. “He updated me two days ago. All he said was that they rescued you and he gave me the name of the hospital. Liz told me what happened to you. She told me about Mikey and your other man. She also told me about Eli Abrams. She told me the story of how your CO was working on the side for Quazi the whole time. How he kidnapped you and how he got away with it. She told me everything Nicole. And I am so sorry. I know you left the Marines. And I know a major factor that got you to agree to go back was avenging me and my mom. I know you wanted to stop the man that killed us. I know you wanted to kill the snake by cutting its head off. Quazi corrupted your CO and used what he got from him to slaughter my village and many others. You were trying to finish the mission that you started all those years ago.”

 

Nicole is silent for a moment, taking it all in. After a long pause, “I thought you were dead. I searched for you.”

 

“I know.”

 

“When I found out Eli was working for Quazi and Quazi attacked your village… I couldn’t say no. I needed to stop him. He hurt too many people. I couldn't bear the thought of him hurting more.” Nicole says, looking at her crossed feet.

 

“I understand.” Laura says honestly. “But I think all of that should stay in the past. He is gone. A lot of people are.” Laura visibly swallows and the tears begin to fall. “But I have moved on and I know you did too. Please don’t let this ruin your life all over again.”

 

“Nicole feels tears fall down her own face. She chuckles sadly, looking at Laura. “You moved on?”

 

Laura smiles. “I did. I got married to an amazing man last year. I am going to school and studying something I love. My dad relocated to Chicago to be near me. And… I’m happy. She looks at Nicole. “And from what I hear, you had moved on too. Well, until recently.”

 

Nicole smiles, thinking of Waverly and her misfit family. Her smile falters a bit when she remembers where she is and why.

 

“You want to tell me about them? I saw them briefly when we were looking for you. They seem great.” Laura says kindly, hoping Nicole won’t shut down and shut her out.

 

“I got married last year to the love of my life. I live in Canada now, so that's probably why you couldn’t find me once I left Chicago. I am a sheriff’s deputy and I work alongside my wife, my best friend/sister-in-law and my two other friends that I consider family.” Nicole says as if reading off of a list. Almost like she is trying to convince herself it is factual too.

 

“Are you happy? With your life?” Laura asks.

 

“Honestly, I was. I was really happy. But now… after everything that has happened… the guilt is drowning me.” Nicole admits, pain clear in her voice and in her features.

 

“That is understandable.” Laura says simply.

 

Nicole looks shocked. “You aren’t going to tell me that I shouldn’t feel guilty?”

 

“I think you probably have enough people telling you that. Plus, I have felt survivors guilt. I have also felt guilt for making decisions to survive. We all make mistakes, whether we decide to see them that way or not. Every action has a consequence, no matter what. But we do what we think is right and that is all anyone can ask of us. We are human beings. We are not perfect, far from it actually. But that shouldn’t stop us from living our lives.” Laura says, hoping Nicole will take what she is saying to heart.

 

“Damn Laura, you really got that psychology degree down, don’t you?” Nicole jokes weakly.

 

“Well, seeing as you minored in psychology and were trained as a spec ops soldier, you have it down too.” Laura fires back. “You knew the answer already, now you just need to accept it.”

 

Nicole chuckles lightly and smiles, looking down at her hands. “That’s the hard part.”

 

“Because you hold yourself to a higher standard than you do others. You are always trying to be better and that’s admirable. But in this case, it will be the thing that destroys you. In this specific situation, you need to let it go. You need to move on.”

 

“And if I can’t?” Nicole asks.

 

“That’s bullshit. You and I both know you can. It's just hard to do. But I know for a fact you never used to back down from a fight. You weren’t a quitter. Has that changed?” Laura asks in challenge.

 

Nicole looks at her for a moment and then back down to the floor. She does it two more time before answering. “How is it that a twenty-one-year-old kid is giving me advice on this?” Nicole mocks, smiling once again.

 

“Shut up! You know I’m right!”

 

“That doesn’t make it any easier to admit it.” Nicole counters.

 

“I missed you Nini.” Laura says, tears falling once again.

 

“I missed you too Laura. I am just so happy you are alive.” Nicole says as they both move across the space and embrace each other. They hold each other tight as Nicole whispers, “And I am not going down without a fight. Now that you have found me, you aren’t getting rid of me that easily. I have this family that I love and that loves me. I want to keep that and maybe keep you around too, if you want to let me be a part of your life again?”

 

Laura smiles even wider. “You aren’t getting rid of me either Nini. Not a chance I am letting you disappear again.”

Chapter Text

Waverly and Wynonna all but sprint down to the bottom gym with Dolls in tow at a more casual pace. They arrive at the door to find Liz standing outside, looking through the large window into the gym.

 

“Is she okay?” Waverly asks when she stops next to Liz and looks inside.

 

“Yeah, I think she is. Well as good as she can be.” Liz says, not taking her eyes off of the pair inside the gym.

 

“Why is that girl hugging Haughtstuff like she is her Care Bear?” Wynonna asks suspiciously.

 

“She is a particularly important person in Nicole’s past (and mine for that matter). But, up until about three hours ago, we all thought she was dead.” Liz says, still looking a bit shocked.

 

“Laura? The little girl that she met on your first deployment together?” Waverly guesses, although she now realizes this is the grown up version of the six year old in the photo.

 

“Yeah.” Liz says exhaling loudly. “Nicole seems happy to see her, I know she is. But I talked to the therapist that has been meeting with Nicole.”

 

“And?” Wynonna asks.

 

“They want to release her at the end of next week. Let her fly home to Canada. They don’t believe she is a danger to herself or to others and her physical injuries are healing well.”

 

“That sounds like good news?” Wynonna says, confused.

 

But Waverly isn’t confused. “Liz…” She places a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “You aren’t going to lose her again and she isn’t going to disappear again. She has us and you can come visit her whenever you want. We will even come visit you.” Waverly says knowingly.

 

Liz nods and smiles a little, looking at Waverly. “I totally get it now.”

 

“Get what?” Waverly asks, now she is the confused Earp.

 

“What Dallas says about you…” Liz says. The still confused look on Waverly’s face forces her to elaborate. “Dallas likes to say that you make her a better person. That she wants to be better for you. And I get why. You just have this effect on people. You make people want to be better. I can’t really explain the feeling better than that.”

 

“I can second that.” Wynonna pipes up with a raised hand.

 

Waverly blushes and ducks her head. She looks up to see Nicole and Laura breaking their hug. Both have glassy eyes, but have smiles on their faces. Nicole looks up and sees them through the window. She motions them to come in and they all enter.

 

Nicole moves away from Laura and takes one of Waverly’s offered hands into hers. She raises it up and kisses her knuckles. “Laura, this is my wife Waverly Earp, my sister-in-law Wynonna and my friend and boss Xavier Dolls.” Nicole looks at her family. “Guys, this is Laura Buzdar.”

 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all.” Laura says kindly.

 

“The pleasure is ours Ma’am.” Dolls says, with accompanying nods and smiles from the Earp girls.

 

“I would love to continue this and we can, but later. I need to shower and I am probably owed a verbal lashing from the nurses on duty for disappearing.” Nicole says with a pained laugh.

 


 

Three days later…

 

“You know, it defeats the purpose of bed rest if you keep moving around and getting out of the bed.” Waverly says with feigned annoyance. She smiles as her wife gives her an adorable pout from the bed, sitting still for the first time.

 

“I hate bed rest. I hate this hospital room. I hate being indoors. I never want to be stuck in a bed again… or a hospital room.” Nicole says with a childish pout on her face. She looks at the crappy TV in the corner, noticing not for the first time, that it is a piece of crap and doesn’t offer any entertainment.

 

“Oh my poor baby.” Waverly coos, moving to stand next to Nicole’s bed.

 

“Seriously Waves. I hate it here. I want to be discharged, I want to go home.” Nicole says sadly, eyes slightly glassy.

 

Waverly looks at Nicole sympathetically and then down to her fidgeting hands. Waverly watches in silence for a moment as Nicole continues to fidget. “Love…”  Waverly places her hand on Nicole’s, stopping her fidgeting. “I know you want to go home, trust me, I want to go home too. But this feels like more than that. What’s going on?”

 

Nicole looks up at Waverly and then down at their hands. “I f- feel like I can’t start fixing some of my mistakes while I am still in this bed. While I am here. All this room symbolizes is hurt, pain and my self-destruction of my own life. It is a constant reminder that I fucked up.”

 

“Nicole…” Waverly starts, getting up and sitting on the bed.

 

“No Waves, please. Please don’t try and sugar coat the situation. I- I fucked all this up. And I know I did. And the most fucked up part is that if I could do it over, I still would have gone on that mission. I got tortured and tortured my own family in the process, yet, I would still go.” Nicole lets her head fall back into the pillow. “How fucked up of a person does that make me.”

 

“Nic, you aren’t a fucked up person. You’re not. And I know why the mission was important to you. It had to do with your past, a past you were trying to move on from. And I know you were doing what you thought was right. I can’t fault you for that and anyone who does is a shit ticket.” Waverly says. “And I know it feels like you can’t fix things from in here, but maybe you and I can work on us for a little while. We need to talk, about a lot of things. I can’t think of a better time than now.”

 

Nicole raises her head and makes eye contact with her wife. “Okay.”

 

“Okay.” Waverly says, scooting closer to Nicole. “Let’s start with the fact that if you ever leave (I don’t care where) without saying a proper goodbye again, I will not hesitate to hunt you down.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Nicole says dejectedly.

 

“There was blame on both sides Nicole, not just yours. I knew you were at Gus’ house. I could have come over and done it too. But neither of us did.” Waverly admits. “And you at least left me that message. I felt like shit once you left. It was so hard to think about the idea that you left angry. You left thinking I hated you. It kills me that you thought I could ever hate you.” Waverly says as tears begin to fall down her face.

 

“I love you Waverly. You know that, right?” Nicole asks through her own tears.

 

“I do. And you know I love you too, right?”

 

Nicole nods and the action seems to let the floodgates of emotion open. Both women cry, Waverly moving into Nicole’s arms and sobbing into her chest. They both stay that way until they cannot cry anymore and they have said all they need to say.

 

“Nic?” Waverly asks after a half hour of comfortable silence.

 

“Yeah Baby?” Nicole responds, looking down at her wife.

 

“What are we going to do now?” Waverly asks.

 

“Try and move on.” Nicole states simply. “I don’t think any of us will forget all of this (I surely won't). But I genuinely that I can get past this. As long as I have you by my side.” Nicole kisses Waverly on the crown of her head.

 

“Nicole, will you kiss me? I mean, really kiss me?” Waverly asks, turning to roll onto her side to face Nicole.

 

“You don’t have to ask Waves. You know I will always kiss you if it is what you want.” Nicole says with a small smile.

 

“I know. I was just thinking. We haven’t kissed since…” Waverly thinks. “… oh god, almost a year!”

 

“Eleven months, thirteen days.” Nicole says absentmindedly shrugging.

 

“Oh my god you counted?!” Waverly asks, not sure how to feel.

 

“I always count how long it’s been since we kissed (down to the minute).” Nicole smiles and leans in. “But is that really important at the moment?” Her voice seductive and low.

 

“No, but we will return to the topic later.” Waverly says with a slight blush. She looks at Nicole’s lips and then back up to her eyes. As if remembering something, she jumps out of the bed and heads for the door.

 

“Waves? Di-did I do something wrong…?” Nicole asks in concern.

 

Waverly closes the hospital room door and locks it, moving to the blinds and pulling them closed. She makes her way quickly back to the bed, practically jumping into it and kissing Nicole square on the mouth.

Chapter Text

They continue to kiss until they have to break for air.

 

“You know, I am having flashbacks to our first kiss in Nedley’s office.” Nicole says with a smirk. “You did the exact same thing before you jumped me then too.” Nicole laughs and Waverly punches her playfully.

 

“I don’t hear you ever complaining about me jumping you Mrs. Haught.” Waverly counters with fake seriousness.

 

Nicole shakes her head as she pulls Waverly back in to her. “Never.” She pulls away after a few more heated kisses. “But I think I am going to have to request that we not continue this heated exchange. I don’t want to start something we can’t finish.”

 

“Who said anything about not finishing?” Waverly asks, letting her tongue run along Nicole’s lower lip.

 

“There are so many puns I can make right now….” Nicole says, fighting the heat growing between her legs.

 

“I wouldn’t recommend it.” Waverly says, moving down to kiss Nicole’s neck.

 

Wave… Baby… You are getting me really turned on right now and we are in a hospital and this is not a good idea. Someone could come by and catch us.” Nicole does her best to protest, but the gasps and low moans betray her.

 

“Liz and Laura went out for dinner and won’t be back until morning. Dolls and Wynonna are upstairs (probably drinking or having sex… or both). And the nurses and doctors won’t be in for hours. The door is locked and all the blinds are drawn down.” Waverly argues as she peppers kisses down Nicole’s neck and chest. Nicole gasps as Waverly tugs Nicole’s scrub top open, cupping her breast. “I am ready for this. And I want to do this if you are ready too.”

 

“Trust me Baby. I will always want you.” Nicole says, leaning back into the bed more as Waverly lowers herself down.

 

“I’ve missed this.” Waverly says lowly as she takes Nicole’s breast into her mouth.

 

Nicole arches up, fisting her hands into the bedsheets at her sides. “My boobs?” Nicole barely gasps out.

 

“No.” Waverly says, moving to the other breast. “I mean yes, but no. I just missed this type of connection with you. I feel like my body is starving with the need to be with you.”

 

Nicole gets it. She feels the same way. But her overwhelming pleasure makes her brain short circuit. She manages a mumble that makes Waverly giggle and then purr, knowing Nicole feels the same.

 

Nicole flips them over, Waverly now below her. She removes her own shirt as Waverly does the same. Before she even realizes it, they are both completely naked and she is entering Waverly with a single digit. Waverly gasps, not because she isn’t ready, but because it has been so long since she has felt this feeling. Nicole pushes in slowly, letting Waverly adjust as she kisses her with so much passion it makes her a little light headed. Waverly nods after a moment and Nicole pulls her hand back before thrusting it back in. As she continues to thrust, picking up her pace as she goes, she adds an additional finger and revels in the way Waverly’s whole body arches at the feeling.

 

“Nicole… I god… Don’t stop…” Waverly gasps out between heavy breaths. “I gonna… please don’t stop Nicole.”

 

“It’s okay Baby. I got you. I’m right here.” Nicole whispers into Waverly’s ear as she kisses the spot just under her ear.

 

“Nicole!” And with that, Waverly comes undone around Nicole’s fingers, tightening as she does. Nicole slows her movements, bringing Waverly down from her high. She kisses Waverly softly, whispering ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m yours’ over and over again. Waverly relaxes kissing her wife back with more love than she ever thought possible. She knows there is a lot they will still need to talk about, but in this moment… all is right in the world. Waverly moves, flipping her wife over and straddling her. “My turn.” She whispers with a seductive and wicked smirk.

 


 

General Edwards enters Nicole’s room with another soldier in tow. Nicole is in her uniform, about to be discharged from the hospital. He enters the room and nods at Waverly, Wynonna, Dolls, Laura and Liz, who all look up at him expectantly. “Pardon for the interruption. But I need a moment alone with Captain Haught. I need the room please.” They all nod and get up to leave the room, but not without exchanging warning looks. “And I am sorry Lance Corporal Farrell. That includes you.”

 

Liz looks concerned but leaves with the others. The soldier with the General shuts the door behind them, leaving Nicole alone with the two of them.

 

“Sir.” Nicole addresses.

 

“How are you feeling?” The General asks.

 

“Taking it one day at a time, but right now, I am doing okay.” Nicole says honestly. “What can I do for you Sir?”

 

“I have two orders of business for you Captain. First,…” The General motions the soldier behind him. The soldier opens up a case he was holding and hands Nicole her sidearm and a packet of paperwork. “Here is your duty issued sidearm and your discontinuation of contract form. Sign it if you want to. Your mission is done.”

 

Nicole pauses as she looks at the papers. Being a soldier has been such a big part of her for so long now. She has signed these forms once before, but if feels different this time. Part of her doesn’t want to let it go, even after all the pain and suffering it has caused her. But then she thinks of her family and the life she has in Purgatory. She thinks of the future she wants and no part of it involves being in the Marine Corps anymore. She signs without another moment’s hesitation and hands the forms back to the soldier. “And the second order of business Sir?” Nicole asks.

 

“Captain Nicole Haught, you are being considered for being awarded the silver star for extraordinary acts of valor and gallantry while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.” The General says in an official tone. He then breaks and smiles. “Congratulations Dallas. I know this has been rough on you and your family to say the least. But you deserve to be recognized for what you did. For the sacrifices you made.” He looks down at Nicole’s Combat Utility Uniform. “Also, Private Mike Green and Staff Sergeant Alexander Riley will also be recognized for their sacrifice and honorable service.”

 

Nicole looks shocked but recovers quickly. She salutes and he does the same. He hugs her lightly and leaves after telling her he will be in touch.

Chapter Text

“Hey Nini, can I have a second?” Laura asks.

 

Nicole nods and steps to the side as Dolls unloads their bags from the transport vehicle. They decided to get to the airport a few hours before their flight, just in case.

 

“So, have you talked to her about it yet?” Wynonna asks softly, elbowing her sister to get her attention.

 

“Not in detail. Haven’t really had the chance.” Waverly says. “How do you think she is going to react?”

 

“She may be a little conflicted at first, because of everything that has and is happening in our lives. But she will get over it quick and she will be ecstatic Waves. You know that.” Wynonna reassures.

 

Waverly takes a deep breath and looks over to her wife and Laura. Nicole, who has been happy since they left the hospital, has a slight frown on her face as she listens to Laura speak. Waverly is concerned, but she knows Nicole can handle it and if it is a problem, she will talk to her about it.

 

Dolls is just finishing the unloading as Nicole and Laura make their way back over. Nicole is smiling again, but Waverly can tell this is going to be another discussion to be had later. Laura says her goodbyes and allows Liz to take her turn. A hand shake for Dolls, a group hug for the Earp girls and then she just stands in front of Nicole (who does the same). The moment isn’t tense, even though their body posture is rigid and they salute one another. After a moment, they both relax and embrace one another. It is a different hug than the rest. They have been in a literal hell hole together. And they both survived. But not without watching their brother die in the process. The hug expresses what words can't.

 

“I will be back in Purgatory in a few months for a visit.” Liz promises, a tear rolling down her cheek. Neither of them move to break the embrace.

 

“I know. Keep in touch.” Nicole says, voice watery. “Take care of yourself, okay?”

 

“I will. You too.” Liz responds, burying her face into Nicole to hide her tears. “I’m gonna miss you Dallas.”

 

“I’m gonna miss you too.” Nicole says, finally breaking the hug. Liz goes to stand next to Laura and Nicole joins her team. She turns to Liz and Laura and says, “زه ستا سره مينه کوم” (pronounced: za la ta sara meena kawom).

 

Laura responds back with the same phrase and Liz just nods.

 

Nicole turns away and walks into the airport before she gets any more emotional. As they wait to go through security, Wynonna ask Dolls in a hushed tone, “Do you know what Nicole said to them?”

 

“No, but whatever she said, it obviously had a lot of feelings involved. It was significant for all three of them.” He responds, putting his bag on the table to be scanned.

 

After going through security (where Nicole and Dolls both got pat downs), they entered the terminal and started towards their gate. Wynonna speeds up and catches up to her sister (who has Nicole’s free hand in hers). “I need to use the restroom, want to join me?” She asks.

 

“Sure, let’s just get our stuff settled at the gate and then we can.” Waverly replies, smiling at her sister.

 

They arrive at their gate and find seats there. The Earp girls sit, but Dolls and Nicole stay standing. Dolls speaks up. “Hey, we are going to get some coffee from the little café. Do either of you want anything?”

 

“No, I’m good. Thanks.” Wynonna replies, seeming relieved to have a moment with her sister.

 

“No thank you.” Waverly responds, smiling at them before they head off in the direction of the café.

 

“So you needed to pee?” Waverly asks, moving to get up.

 

“No, not really. I just needed a moment to talk to you.” Wynonna says, lightly pushing her sister back into her seat.

 

“Okay…? Is that why they just volunteered to leave?” Waverly asks.

 

Wynonna looks a little embarrassed. “I think Nicole caught on to what I wanted so she asked Dolls to go get coffee.”

 

“Okay.” Waverly says, not all that surprised. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Can I vent to my sister? Not my best friend’s wife?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Of course.” Waverly responds, understanding what Wynonna needs.

 

“I’m worried.”

 

“About?” Waverly asks.

 

“Nicole… I am worried because she is acting so… normal. Like obviously there are some differences about her. But… she is almost acting like her normal self.” Wynonna takes a deep breath. “And not that that isn’t okay. It is. If she really feels that way. But I don’t want her putting up a brave face and shutting us, shutting me out again. I read the detailed report on everything they did to her. I barely got through it without puking. What she told us out loud did not prepare me for reading that.” Wynonna pauses. “I have been through a lot of shit in my life. And I probably don’t handle it in the best way. I don’t know. I just don’t think I could get past what she’s been through and just act like everything is fine.” Wynonna admits.

 

Waverly looks at her sister with a full heart. Her sister is worried about Nicole and (although it makes Waverly’s sad) it also makes her extremely happy. Wynonna doesn’t show concern openly for anyone besides Waverly and maybe Dolls , Gus and Doc. But she is showing it for Nicole and it warms Waverly’s heart. She moves as close to her sister as the seat will allow. “I think she is doing her best to move on.” Waverly says honestly. “I think it will take a lot of time, maybe even some therapy if she needs it. But I think everything will be okay. I think she is really trying. I think she really wants to get better. For us and maybe even for herself. Liz talked about how Nicole always lives for others. She doesn't value her own life in the way the rest of us do. The ways she sees it, her life isn’t worth living if she isn’t helping people.” Waverly pauses and looks away from her sister for a moment before returning to her. “I saw it the moment we left the hospital. Something in Nicole changed. I think…” Waverly pauses to gather her thoughts. “I think she is starting to live part of her life for herself. Or at least she want to. I guess only time will tell. But I genuinely believe everything will be okay. Maybe not right away. But eventually. And I think Nicole believes that too.”

 

Wynonna nods her head and digests what Waverly says. After a long pause Wynonna repeats her earlier question to Dolls. "Hey, Wave? Do you know what Nicole said to Laura and Liz when we walked away?"

 

Waverly's face takes on an emotion Wynonna can't really place, but it is something close to happiness. "I don't really speak Pashto, but Nicole had taught me that phrase." Waverly pauses and looks up at her sister. She repeats the phrase Nicole had said earlier (but slower because she doesn't have a firm grasp on the language) and then tells Wynonna the phrase in English. "I love you."

Chapter Text

“You doing okay?” Nicole asks Dolls as they sit at a table in the airport café.

 

Dolls smiles a little and fights a chuckle. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that? All things considered.”

 

All things considered. What happened doesn’t only affect me. I’m serious Dolls. How are you doing?” Nicole says firmly, concerned for her friend.

 

Dolls pauses for a moment and looks down at his coffee before returning his gaze to Nicole. “I watched those videos of you. But only once. I could only do it once. During my time with the teams and even with Black Badge, I used to watch videos like that. I watched them over and over again, studying them for anything that could help. Anything that could be used. But watching what they did to you… it made me want to kill something. I threw my fist through a wall I was so angry. And… I don’t do that. I am not someone fueled by anger. But I had to fight the feeling to find you and kill all of those bastards. Hurt them in ways that will make them wish they were never born.” Dolls stops, unclenching his fists and relaxing into his seat once again.

 

“It’s different when the person being hurt is someone you care about.” Nicole says simply, placing a light hand on Dolls’. “And I owe you an apology for all of this.”

 

“I don’t see why you owe me anything, let alone an apology.” Dolls responds, confused.

 

“I owe you an apology for taking your choices away from you. When I made my deal to go back, I made sure you stayed in Purgatory with everyone. And I don’t regret that decision. If I had to do it over again, I still would have done it. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t regret taking the choice away from you. I know what it feels like to be controlled by someone else (to have your actions dictated and limited by someone else). So I’m sorry. For not giving you a choice.”

 

“Even if you hadn’t taken the choice away from me… I am not sure if I would have gone.” Dolls admits.

 

“Is that a bad thing?”

 

“I don’t know.” Dolls responds. “Does that make me a bad person?”

 

“For wanting to be home to protect your family? No Dolls. That doesn’t make you a bad person. That doesn’t make you selfish or cold. It makes you human.” Nicole says with an unwavering confidence.

 

“You made the opposite choice. You went.” Dolls counters.

 

“Only because I knew they would be safe with you there. I don’t think I could have gone if there was even a chance of you following me.” Nicole admits. “I needed to know, that no matter what happened to me, that there would be someone there for them. Those Earp girls are the toughest women (hell, human beings) I know. But even the best of us need to be protected from time to time.”

 

“And what about you? You didn’t have anyone protecting you.” Dolls asks.

 

Nicole looks down at the table for a long moment. “Mike. He took four rounds to the chest. One hit his lung and it killed him…” Nicole takes a deep breath and pauses. “My job was to protect him, but in the end, he was always the one protecting me. He was always the one who I called late at night when I woke up with nightmares. He was the one checking up on me after rough days.” Nicole laughs sadly. “Liz and Mike were all I had before I got to Purgatory. Until I was twenty seven years old, they were my family. And I never lost touch with Mike, like I did with Liz. He was the type of person you could not speak to for months but pick up a conversation like no time had passed.” Nicole looks up at Dolls. “Although it felt like it sometimes, I was never truly alone. From the moment I decided to go on that mission, Mike was there, watching my back. He was my brother, and he did everything in his power to protect me… including taking several high velocity rounds that were meant for me, Liz and Gibbs.”

 

“I’m sorry Nicole. I truly am.” Dolls says, flipping his hand so it squeezes Nicole’s back.

 

“Mike gave his life so that others could live. For the sake of my family and his sacrifice, I am committed to fighting. I will fight to get my life back. And part of that is making sure the rest of my family is okay. Hence, why I asked you. But nice try redirecting the conversation.” Nicole says, smirking at the end of the statement.

 

Dolls smiles at her. “As long as all of us are together, I am okay. It never felt right when you were gone. I’m just happy to be going home.” Dolls answers honestly.

 

“Okay, good. And if there is something…?”

 

“I’ll come to you. I promise.” Dolls says. “And the same goes for you.”

 

“Of course.” Nicole smiles. “It really is good to be going home.” Nicole says, taking a satisfying sip from her coffee.

 

Dolls smiles, releasing her hand and taking a sip of his own drink.

 

Nicole’s phone rings and she pulls it out. “It’s Gus.”

 

Dolls gives her a look and he smiles. “I’ll go check on the girls.” Dolls says, getting up from the table and leaving to give her some privacy.

 

Nicole smiles and answers the call. “Hey Gus. Good morning.”

 

“Nicole, you better be at the airport. Don’t make me fly there to get you.” Gus says, only partially kidding.

 

“We are. Our flight doesn’t take off for at least another two hours.” Nicole says with a small laugh.

 

“Okay, good. So how are you doing?”

 

“I think this is the best I have been in a long time actually. It’s hard. I am not going to lie. But the journaling helps. Plus, I am just really motivated to get better. I have a lot to lose if I don’t.” Nicole says. “I want to have my life back. I want to be happy again… and I think part of me, even though I am still in pain, is happy.”

 

I’m glad to hear it. You on any medications?”

 

“No. I got off the pain killers completely last week and I am powering through it now. But I have a prescription if I need them. They offered me some antidepressants, but I decided to hold off on those. If I need them, I will get them. But I want to try and do this without them. I have never been one for drugs anyways.”

 

“Whatever you feel you need, just name it.” Gus says.

 

“Thanks Gus.”

 

“So where is my niece?”

 

“Dolls just went to check on her and Wynonna. They should be waiting at our gate.” Nicole says, taking a long sip of her coffee.

 

“And how are you and her doing?” Gus asks.

 

“Better than before. It honestly help so much having her with me. She is my rock. But I think she deserves some her time once we get home.”

 

“Probably. But I am sure she would want you involved nonetheless.”

 

Nicole laughs. “Maybe. I don’t know why she sticks around. Anyone else would have leave my ass and wiped their hands of me and all my issues.” There is a deeper meaning behind what Nicole is saying and Gus knows it. This is a genuine fear of Nicole’s, even if she can’t admit it.

 

“Waverly is a special woman, Nicole. I don’t need to tell you that. But so are you. You both have damaged parts. But the one thing that never seems to falter are your feelings for each other. And I don’t see that ever changing.” Gus says confidently.

 

“I can promise that I will never stop loving Waverly. She is my world. I just hope that she never stops loving me either. I don’t really know how my life works without her in it. Without all of you in it. But I also couldn’t live with myself if she stayed with me out of a feeling of obligation.”

 

“How about we don’t worry about that unless it actually happens.” Gus says. “Don’t worry about it until it actually becomes a problem. I doubt it ever will.”

 

“Yeah, I hope so. I am doing my best to focus on what I can control at the moment. Just taking it twenty four hours at a time.”

 

“That’s good.” Gus says.

 

Nicole looks out the window and smiles. “I better let you go so you can start your day. Plus, I think Dolls might need my help keeping Wynonna out of trouble.” Nicole laughs. “I’ll call you once we land.”

 

“Alright. Have a safe flight.” Gus pauses. “I’m proud of you Nicole.”

 

Nicole feels her eyes well up with tears. “Thanks Gus.” She takes a deep breath. “We love you, talk to ya when we land.”

 

The call ends and Nicole takes a moment to compose herself.

 

 

Chapter Text

Nicole sits at the café for a long while, thinking about how the last three years have changed her forever. She thinks about how her life would be different if she had made different choices. She pulls out her phone and opens up the messages app. She clicks a conversation and scrolls back. She begins to read:

 

Nic (02:33am): Hey

 

Green Jellybean (02:35am): Hey, something wrong?

 

Nic (02:35am): I asked Waverly to marry me…

 

Green Jellybean (02:36am): Did she say yes?  [smug emoji]

 

Nic (02:38am): Of course she said yes you ass! I wouldn’t be telling you if she had said no.

 

Green Jellybean (02:39am): Haha. Congrats Dallas. I’m really happy for you. How do you feel?

 

Nic (02:40am): Honestly?... Like I’m gonna puke. I am freaking out a little.

 

Green Jellybean (02:42am): Why?

 

Nic (02:43am): I’m not good enough for her Mike. She is amazing and perfect and… god I love her. But I’m just me. And there are things about me that she will find out. What if she doesn’t want me anymore. What if she decides she is done and leaves me? I don’t think I could recover from that.

 

Green Jellybean (02:45am): You think she is going to leave you?

 

Green Jellybean (02:45am): From what you have told me about her… that doesn’t sound right

 

Nic (02:46am): I don’t know. I hope not. But I am not an easy person to be with… [sad emoji]

 

Green Jellybean (02:48am): Get your head out of your ass Dallas. You are a catch. You are smart and funny and beautiful. I’m not going to blow up your ego any more than that but you get the point. If this girls is what you want for your life… YOU FIGHT LIKE HELL TO KEEP HER. You make yourself a worthy partner. Stop throwing yourself a pity party and start addressing the actual problem.

 

Nic (02:50am): …

 

Nic (02:50am): I feel like I just got scolded like a child and also got an inspirational speech… at the same time…

 

Green Jellybean (02:51am): Mike Green, at your service. [winking emoji]

 

Nic (02:53am): Thanks Mikey. Sorry for disturbing your sleep [cold sweat emoji]

 

Green Jellybean (02:55am): Don’t worry about it. I was already up. I have been looking over some of the mission material. Give me a call tomorrow. We need to brief Gibbs on the new developments and make sure he is ready. Go to sleep Dallas. Goodnight Nicole.

 

Nic (02:56am): 10-4 [green heart emoji]

 

Green Jellybean (02:am): [red heart emoji]

 

Nicole sits there, tears running down her face as she continues to read conversations just like this. She keeps reading until she gets to their last one.

 

Nic (08:16am): I made a mistake

 

Green Jellybean (08:24am): What did you do?

 

Nic (08:25am): I got into a fight with Waverly last night and I left this morning without saying goodbye. I didn’t even go home last night. [sad emoji]

 

Nic (08:25am): I’m such a fucking idiot Mike.

 

Nic (08:26am): I really fucked up.

 

Green Jellybean (08:28am): Then go home and apologize your ass off. Even if you are right. Nothing is worth going on a mission like this without saying goodbye.

 

Nic (08:30am): I cant. My flight is going to start boarding in like 10 minutes. I’m so fucking pissed with myself right now. I don’t know what is wrong with me!

 

Green Jellybean (08:32am): Nothing is wrong with you and you are going to explain this all to me in detail when we get to Dubai. But for now, call your wife or send her an audio message. Let her hear your voice and tell her everything you need to say. That woman loves you Nicole. Don’t let all this break you apart.

 

Nic (08:34am): I’ll send her a message. Thanks Mikey. See you in a few days. [green heart emoji]

 

Green Jellybean (08:35am): [red heart emoji]

 

Nicole smiles down at her phone, wiping the tears from her eyes.

 

“I’m gonna miss you Mikey.” She whispers.

 

Someone sits down in her lap, wrapping an arm around her neck as she does. Nicole looks up and meets her wife’s beautiful irises. “Hi.” Nicole smiles even wider.

 

“Hey.” Waverly says, using a soft thumb to brush away the remaining tears. “You okay?”

 

“Just reminiscing.” Nicole says honestly. “Want some coffee?”

 

Waverly takes a sip from Nicole’s cup, her face scrunching up adorably once the taste hits her. “Ehhk. Gross. I liked it better when you used to drink cappuccinos. Now, Dolls has corrupted you into drinking it black.”

 

Nicole laughs. “I always drank it black. But I still do enjoy my cappuccinos. You just didn’t notice before because I use to get my coffee the same way you do. Considering you inevitably end up drinking most of mine anyways.”

 

“Wait. You changed your coffee order, just so I would enjoy it when I skimmed off your coffee?” Waverly asks in disbelief. Although, she actually wouldn’t be all that surprised.

 

Nicole kisses her lightly on the cheek before responding, “I plead the fifth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

They walk out of the café hand in hand and start towards their departure gate. They are talking idly about Wynonna’s antics when a young boy stops in front of Nicole. Nicole and Waverly stop walking and look down at the boy. He couldn’t be older than six or seven, with sandy hair and piercing green eyes. He looks at Nicole and her uniform. After a moment of observing, the little boy raises his right hand to his forehead and gives Nicole a little salute.

 

“Th-thank you for your service.” The boy says a little shyly.

 

Nicole smiles down at him, taking a knee so she is now at eye level with the boy. “It is an honor to serve.” Nicole says. And she truly believes that. So much hurt has come from all of this, but it doesn’t mean the honor is taken away. When in uniform, it isn’t uncommon to be thanked for her service by strangers as they walk, or even get discounts at restaurants. But something about this little boy stopping her, all alone… It just seems all the more meaningful. She looks around. “Are you here with someone? Are your parents close by?”

 

“They are waiting at the gate. We are going to visit my Grandma!” The boy says excitedly.

 

“Well that sounds like a lot of fun.” Nicole responds, smiling wider at him. “Hey, do you mind if I walk you back to your parents? We wouldn’t want them worrying about you getting lost.”

 

The boy matches Nicole’s smile, nods his head and takes her hand. She stands, looking at Waverly for a moment before the boy starts leading them.

 

“What’s your name?” The boy asks as they walk.

 

“My name is Nicole. What’s your name?” Nicole asks.

 

“Brandon. But everyone calls me Brado ‘cause my daddy is named Brandon too.” The boy says with a small laugh. He turn to look at Waverly. “What’s your name?”

 

She smiles at him. “I’m Waverly. It’s nice to meet you Brado.”

 

The boy nods happily and they continue to walk. Once they reach a particular gate, Nicole can recognize Brandon’s parents. They are the ones that have mild panic written all over their faces. Waverly stays a couple steps behind as she observes the scene in front of her.

 

“Brado! Honey! We were worried.” Brandon’s mother says, relief washing over her face.

 

Brandon literally jumps and giddy happiness. “Look Momma, this is my friend Nicole! She is a soldier! Just like daddy was!” Brandon says excitedly.

 

Brandon’s father simply nods. His mother looks up at Nicole and smiles. “Thank you for bring him back.” There is a look in her eyes that tell Nicole she is not as naïve as her young son. Especially if her husband was in the military.

 

“It was my pleasure Ma’am.” Nicole says, letting go of Brandon’s hand. He moves over to his mother. “It was nice to meet you Brandon.” Nicole says, smiling down at the young boy.

 

He quickly moves and hugs her before letting her walk away. Nicole smiles, hugs him back lightly, before turning heal and retaking Waverly’s hand.

 

 

They walk to their gate and find Dolls and Wynonna. They are both asleep. Nicole chuckles at their positions. Dolls is in the uncomfortable airport seat with Wynonna in the one next to him. Except Wynonna is laying down and resting almost her whole body on Dolls’ lap.

 

“Should we wake them up?” Waverly asks softly.

 

“Nah, I don’t have the heart to do it yet. We won’t start boarding for another ten minutes anyways. Let’s let them have a little more peace for the moment.” Nicole says, smiling down at them.

 

Waverly smiles at her wife leading her to the seats across from their family. They sit down and Waverly leans into Nicole and kisses her on the cheek.

 

“Hey, while we have a minute, I just kinda wanted to make you aware of something.” Nicole says, trying to keep the conversation light.

 

“What’s up?” Waverly asks.

 

“While Laura was searching for me, she found out a lot about my family…” Nicole pauses. “She realized I didn’t know what had happened to them when I left.”

 

“Did she tell you?”

 

“Yes.” Nicole looks at Waverly. “Um, my dad died. He ended up moving out of Texas shortly after I left. He moved to Florida and eventually lived out his life there.”

 

“I’m so sorry Nicole. How long ago did he die?”

 

“He died the few years back. I guess he had an unknown heart condition. Died in his sleep one night.” Nicole says. “I feel like I should be sad. But unfortunately I don’t feel that way. I mourned the loss of my dad the day my mom died. It really felt like he died that same day too. It feels horrible to say this, but her telling me doesn’t really change anything for me.”

 

“I can understand that.” Waverly says, squeezing the redhead’s hand. “And your brother…?”

 

Nicole’s face hardens a bit. “Prison. Spent a few years on and off in jail for DUI and possession. He ended up dying too. Was on pain killers (too many) and he was also taking LSD. He was so tweaked out his body stopped breathing.” Nicole pauses. “It doesn’t really surprise me though. I already knew he was abusing drugs. That’s kinda why I don’t talk about him much. He showed up in Chicago while I was training at the academy. Me and my partner arrested him but he jumped bail when he got the chance.”

 

“Nic…” Waverly isn’t sure what to say.

 

“It’s okay Waves. Really it is. None of this information is a surprise to me. I mourned the loss of my family the day my mom died. That was the day my dad lost the love of his life and stopped living. That was the day my brother started the path that led him to his end. I made peace with that years ago. I just thought you should know.”

 

Waverly looks up at Nicole, searching for any signs of distress but finding none. “So you’re not angry or disappointed in them?”

 

Nicole takes a moment to reflect on this before speaking. “I was disappointed in my brother when I found him in Chicago. But my dad… he lost the love of his life when my mom died. And although he didn’t take it in a healthy way and move on…  I can’t fault him for it. I know I wouldn’t be able to do any better than him if something happened to you. That’s the thing, I get it. I get why he was destroyed. I get why some people are only with one person, even after their spouse dies. For me, just like my dad, we only keep space for one in our hearts. So I can’t fault him. I can’t judge him and I never have. Because I understand, now more than ever.”

Chapter Text

They are three hours into the flight when they hit some turbulence. Nicole is asleep between the girls, Dolls in the row next to them. Waverly (who is in the window seat), tightens her grip on Nicole’s hand. She looks over at Wynonna, who looks equally frightened. Another strong shake and the plane seems to dip a bit. The action causes both Earp girls (who aren’t wearing their seatbelts tightly… or at all in Wynonna’s case) to become slightly airborne. The other passengers shriek and panic and the ‘fasten seat belts’ light turns on.

 

Before Dolls has a chance to react, Nicole is spreading her arm out, pushing the sisters back down into their seats. “Waves, tighten your seatbelt, now. Wynonna, put the damn thing on.” Nicole says, voice thick with sleep, yet oddly aware and coherent. Waverly tightens the seatbelt quickly, letting Nicole check it. Then Nicole turns and checks Wynonna’s. She looks over at Dolls, who is helping the woman and her child that are sitting in his row. They exchange a look and then go back to what they are doing.

 

“What is going on?” Wynonna asks in a hushed tone, trying to block out the shrieks coming from frightened passengers.

 

“Just a bit of turbulence.” Nicole says as another violent hit shakes the plane. “Nothing to be afraid of.”

 

“This happens a lot?” Waverly asks.

 

“Occasionally.” Nicole admits. “We are going over the mountains and the hot and cold air combination can sometimes do this.”

 

“Why are you so calm?” Wynonna asks, a little frustrated.

 

“This is nothing compared to what you feel when riding in cargo planes to the middle east. And their aren’t seatbelts on those planes either. You are only as secure as your hold on the cargo netting.” Nicole laughs. “Liz puked last time we flew that way. I swear, it wasn’t that bad. But she begs to differ.” Nicole chuckles again. “It should pass quickly, I promise.”

 

As if on cue, all the shaking stops and the plane begins flying smoothly again. The pilot’s voice comes on, apologizing for the turbulence and requests that anyone in need of assistance raise their hands for the flight attendants. After some more talking, the cabin returns to normal and everyone relaxes back into what they were doing.

 

It is only after everyone returns to normal that Wynonna realizes she is clutching Nicole’s arm like it’s a life line. She looks down at it and then over to her sister, who is doing the same to Nicole’s left hand. She slowly releases her death grip on Nicole’s arm, wincing as the circulation begins to return color to her fingers.

 

“You okay?” Nicole asks, looking concerned.

 

“Yeah. I’m fine. Just not used to planes.” Wynonna responds.

 

“Didn’t you like… go to Greece?” Nicole asks, now confused.

 

“Yeah, but I always traveled by buses, boats and trains. This is only my second time on a plane.” Wynonna admits.

 

Nicole smiles at her and nods, knowing Wynonna probably doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

 

Nicole turns her attention to Waverly, who is looking down at their joined hands. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Why does something have to be wrong?” Waverly asks, a small smile on her face.

 

“Conditioned habit I guess, sorry.” Nicole says sheepishly.

 

Waverly squeezes her hand reassuringly. “Don’t apologize. I get it. We have had a lot of shit happen to us.” Waverly looks back down at their hands. “Can I see your ring?”

 

Nicole looks at her quizzically but removes her wedding band and hands it to Waverly. Waverly takes the silicone ring in her hands and rolls it in her fingers for a moment. Then she reaches up and takes Nicole’s metal wedding ring off the set of Nicole’s old dog tags she wears and slips the platinum ring on Nicole’s ring finger. She smiles and then looks up at Nicole. “That’s better.”

 

Nicole’s eyes are glassy and she fights the emotions that threaten to make an appearance. She hasn’t worn this ring in a long time. It feels so right and it makes her feel… normal again. At least in some ways. “Thank you.”

 

“I love you.” Waverly says quickly, as if she thinks she might not get the chance to say it again.

 

“I love you too.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly’s hand before lifting her arm so Waverly can lean into her. She does and Nicole wraps the arm around her. They all go back to sleep for a little while.

 


 

There is only an hour and a half left in the flight, but Nicole has to pee. She hates to wake up her sleeping wife, but Waverly is wrapped into her side and her angry bladder is starting to cause cramps. Nicole unbuckles her seatbelt and lightly moves Waverly so she can stand up. Waverly complains lightly in her sleep but doesn’t wake. Wynonna lets Nicole out of the row and watches her as she walks to the onboard lavatories.

 

“How are you doing?” Dolls asks softly, leaning into the aisle to hear better.

 

“As good as I can be.” Wynonna says. “I’m a little worried about her. But besides that, I’m great.”

 

“Good. We should be home soon.” Dolls says.

 

“Yeah, we need to get back there.” Wynonna comments.

 

“Doc says all the Revenants have been keeping a low profile. They haven’t seem to have noticed you are gone”

 

“That’s a good thing, I know. But I can’t help feeling a little offended.” Wynonna jokes.

 

They both laugh softly before returning to their normal sitting positions.

 


 

“Gus!” Waverly squeals, releasing Nicole’s hand and running to her aunt. They embrace in a tight hug and Gus smiles at her.

 

“Hey Honey. How you doing?” Gus asks with a smile. She missed them.

 

“Good. Really happy to be home.” Waverly responds. She walks a few steps back, taking her bag from Nicole and throwing it into the back of the pickup. Wynonna hugs Gus briefly, followed by Dolls and they follow Waverly into the back seat of the truck.

 

Gus looks at Nicole with a scrutinizing stare. She moves closer to Nicole, who seems frozen in fear. Gus stops right in front of Nicole and raises her hand. She ‘Gibbs slaps’ Nicole upside the head. “That was really stupid.” She says sternly.

 

“I know.” Nicole says, bowing her head slightly. Gus takes a moment of silence before roughly pulling Nicole into a hug.

 

“Do it again, and I’ll kill you myself.” Gus says, only partly joking. “I’m so glad you are okay.”

 

“Me too.” Nicole says, embracing Gus tightly. The tears hit the brim of her eyelids, small ones falling down her cheeks. “I’m really happy to be home.”

 

Gus pulls her in tighter and Nicole’s tears fall and she loses the ability to speak. If Nicole could see Gus’ face, she would see the silent tears that are falling down her face like a stream.

Chapter Text

They drop by the station on their way home so Dolls can drop some stuff off there. Nicole, after a moment of hesitation, follows him into the station. The Earp women say behind a minute, but even they exit the car eventually.

 

Nicole walks in a few steps behind Dolls and walks over to her desk. She looks at it and studies the details. She has files on the left side and her desk phone and lamp on the right. Her computer and keyboard sit in the center of the desk, powered down and a little dusty. To the left of her monitor, her pencil cup seems slightly emptier than she remembers leaving it (no doubt, Wynonna has been stealing her pencils). In front of her pencil cup, the small picture frame still sits (although it seems considerably less dusty than everything else on her desk. Nicole is about to pick up the frame but the sounds of someone running down the hall stops her. She turns just in time to catch Chrissy as she jumps into Nicole, hugging her so tight. Nicole wraps her arms around Chrissy and spins them in a circle, placing Chrissy back on the ground. Chrissy is smiling so wide as tears stream down her face. She continues to cry as she takes in Nicole (who is still in uniform).

 

“Hi.” Chrissy says, sniffling.

 

“Hey.” Nicole responds, pulling Chrissy into another hug.

 

“Are you okay? Like I know you're not... but are you…?”

 

Nicole chuckles lightly and squeezes Chrissy gently. “I'm okay. Really. Just really happy to be home.”

 

Chrissy holds her tight for a long moment before a gruff sound of someone clearing their throats breaks the relative silence. They both turn and look to see Nedley leaning on one of the desks. “What am I? Chopped liver?” He jokes.

 

Nicole laughs, wiping away small tears and moves to hug Nedley. He stops her as she is about to embrace him. She gives him a questioning look as if to say what?

 

“Did Gus already slap you for being an idiot?” He asks.

 

“Yes Sir.” Nicole says, smiling down at her feet before looking up.

 

“Good woman that one.” Nedley jokes and pulls Nicole in for a hug. “Glad you're okay kid.” They continue to hug (Chrissy joining in for a group hug after Nicole holds out a hand to her).

 

Little did any of them know, they were not alone in the station. From the door, Waverly, Wynonna and Gus watch with smiles on their faces. Waverly even pulled out her phone and recorded the whole thing.

 


 

They all get back to the Homestead, where Doc is waiting for them on the front porch. They all greet him before noticing Nicole hasn't gotten out of the truck. She is just sitting there, staring at the dashboard. Waverly moves to go get her but Doc stops her with a delicate hand.

 

“We got this.” He says, motioning to Dolls and himself. The Earps nodded and made their way to the porch steps while Doc and Dolls walked over to the truck. They open the back door, where Nicole is sitting in the middle seat still.

 

After a moment of silence, Doc speaks. “Well, it is mighty nice to see you again.”

 

Nicole turns her head towards him and smiles sadly. “I missed you too Doc.” She looks up and then back towards him again. “I- um, I need to take this part slow.”

 

Doc and Dolls both nod. Doc holds out a hand and helps Nicole out of the truck.

 

Dolls takes a protective stance on her other side. “You good?”

 

“Yeah.” She responds, letting out a deep breath. “It's just a lot.”

 

“Take your time.” Doc says. Both men take small steps away from her and give her some space. She takes another deep breath as she finally looks up from the ground. She takes it all in. It feels overwhelming at first, the familiarity of it all. Not much has changed here… yet, at the same time… everything feels like it's changed. Nicole starts to walk away from them and towards the boundary line. She doesn't say anything and the boys don't follow her (they know better). She makes to the boundary line and stands there. She looks out at the land around her and her mind starts to slow down. The racing beat of her heart follows behind. She stands there for several minutes, just breathing and calming down. She slowly turns towards the house, seeing everyone sitting on the porch. Nicole smiles slightly. She pulls out her phone and hits a certain contact. She brings the phone up to her ear and the phone starts to ring.  After two rings, the call connects and Liz’s voice fills the speaker.

 

“Farrell.”

 

“Liz.” Nicole responds.

 

“Hey Dallas. How are you?”

 

“I'm doing better. But I called because you told me to let you know when I got home.”

 

Liz laughs. “Thank you. It makes me feel better.”

 

Nicole laughs lightly. “I'm glad. How are you?”

 

“I'm good. Better than before.” Liz responds.

 

“Good.”

 

“Get back to your family Dallas. I can hear your anxiety in your voice. Don't push them away. Embrace it. Call me tomorrow sometime, okay?”

 

“Okay. Thanks Liz.”

 

“Night.”

 

The call ends and Nicole pockets her phone. She looks back at the house and meets Waverly’s gaze. She smiles and feels almost all of the stress and anxiety melt away. She begins to walk back to the house, still smiling.

 

Chapter Text

“First official day back at work and you still decided to get up early and go to the gym?” Dolls asks with a chuckle as he enters the station gym.

 

Nicole, who had pulled her earbuds out when she noticed Dolls, laughed. “It’s my first day back. I want to do it right.” She says, going back to her jump roping.

 

Dolls stands next to her and starts to do some stretching while they talk. “How are you feeling about all of this? You know, being back? We haven’t had much time to talk since you have been back.”

 

“I feel good. You know? I have been working really hard to get better, mentally and physically.” Nicole pauses, deciding on whether to share the next bit of information. She decides she can and it would make her feel better. “I- um… I got a call last night.”

 

“A call? From?”

 

“General Edwards.”

 

Dolls’ face hardens a bit. “What does he want?”

 

“Not sure. Just asked for me to meet him for dinner at the consulate dining hall tomorrow night.” Nicole says.

 

“Need backup?”

 

Nicole laughs, finally stopping her exercise. “No, it’s okay. It is probably just about Green and Riley being honored in a month or the award. Shouldn’t be a problem. Just wanted to let you know.”

 

Dolls nods and goes back to his stretching.

 


 

“Nicole Haught! Get your hot ass over here!” Waverly shouts in mock outrage and Nicole runs from their bedroom. She makes it to the bathroom and turns on the shower as she jumps in. The water is freezing and it will take a while to warm up. A moment later, Waverly is running in too (also very naked) and practically jumps into the shower. She squeals in surprise as the cold water hits her skin. She scrambles to escape and get out but Nicole wraps her by the waist and pulls Waverly towards her. Waverly objects and struggles to break free. “Nic! It’s so cold! No!”

 

Nicole laughs loudly and Waverly doesn’t even try to fight her own laughter. Nicole pulls her to press their body’s together. She leans down and whispers into Waverly’s ear from behind. “I can warm you up.” She purrs.

 

Waverly shudders, but it has little to do with the cold water. Nicole positions them so her body blocks the cold water from hitting Waverly and turns her around. They kiss and its deep and messy. They continue to kiss as Nicole’s hands wander down to Waverly’s ass. Although the water makes it a little more challenging, Nicole gets a good grip and lifts Waverly. Waverly wraps her legs around Nicole’s waist and tightens her locked hands behind Nicole’s neck. Nicole takes a step and presses Waverly into the shower wall. They continue to kiss, Nicole slowly grinding herself into Waverly as moans of pleasure spill from their mouths. They aren’t even concerned about being quiet. No one will be home all weekend and they have the homestead to themselves. Good thing the nearest neighbor is miles away.

 


 

They sit on the couch and watch the game, while stuffing their faces with junk food.

 

“God, I haven’t done this since I was a teenager.” Waverly says. She takes another handful of popcorn from the bowl.

 

Nicole laughs and kisses her wife lightly before looking back at the TV. The L.A. Clippers are creaming the Boston Celtics and Nicole couldn’t be happier about it. Waverly watches as Nicole’s eyes follow the ball on the screen. She lets her fingers trace Nicole’s finger, lingering a moment to straighten the snapback on Nicole’s head (it wasn’t crooked, Waverly just wanted an excuse to be touching Nicole some more). Nicole smiles at the gesture, knowing it for what it is.

 

“Babe, can I talk to you about something?”

 

Nicole mutes the TV and turns her attention to her wife. “Of course. What’s up?”

 

“Um… so… Okay, I am just going to come out and say this because if I try to do this slow, it will never come out.” Waverly rushes.

 

“Okay.” Nicole says, smiling a little and hoping this isn’t some bad news.

 

“Okay, well… I want kids. And this isn’t me saying I want kids in the far-off future. This is me saying I am ready to do it now. I mean not now… but like soon. I want that.” Waverly takes a deep breath and looks down at her hands. “When you were away, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I went to the doctor and got some bloodwork done. I got my results a few weeks before we found out you were captured…” Waverly's voice starts to waver, so Nicole takes both of Waverly’s hands in hers and traces slow circles on them with her thumbs. She stays silent, letting Waverly get her bearings. After a few deep breaths, Waverly looks up and meets Nicole’s brown eyes. “The doctor says that I have a hormonal imbalance that causes low egg count and further tests confirm that the likelihood of me getting pregnant on my own, without donor eggs, is slim to none.” Waverly feels tears fall down her face as Nicole (who still hasn’t said a word) pulls her into a hug. Waverly cries, moving to curl into Nicole lap as she does. Nicole holds her tight and rubs her back soothingly. She hums lightly, allowing Waverly to calm down at her own pace. After a while, Waverly sniffles loudly and removes her face from the crook of Nicole’s neck (where it had been hiding). “Please say something.” Nicole’s silence is starting to concern her. She looks up into Nicole’s eyes with remorse and she is met with Nicole’s warm and loving gaze.

 

Nicole smiles down at her for a moment before kissing Waverly softly. She breaks the kiss after a long moment and lifts her head to reestablish eye contact with her wife. “Okay. So, the first thing I am going to say is that I love you and this doesn’t change anything for me.” Waverly releases a breath she didn’t know she was holding. Nicole chuckles lightly at the action and pulls Waverly impossibly further into her lap. “The second thing is that I am happy you are talking about this with me.” Nicole takes a deep breath and seems to take that moment to collect her thoughts. “Okay, so I am not really sure what the ‘right’ thing to say is, so I am just going to try and be as honest and up front as possible (so bear with me).” Waverly nods, so Nicole continues. “Life is really short. And I had a lot of time to think about that while I was away. I realized I might die without doing so many things that I want to do in my life. Things I want to do with you. So, although the idea of kids is a little intimidating still, I think I am ready. I want that family we talked about. And with regards to you having fertility issues… what we do on that end is up to you. We can adopt or try IVF or do whatever you want.”

 

Waverly looks at her with a mixture of love and disbelief. “You aren’t mad? Or upset? I kinda just dropped a bomb on you.”

 

Nicole smiles again and kisses Waverly lightly. “No. I am not mad or upset in the slightest. Why should I be? I haven’t heard anything worth me getting upset over (especially towards you). All that matters to me is that you are healthy and happy.” She squeezes Waverly’s hand. “Is there something else you want to tell me? I can tell by the look on your face that there is something else.”

 

Waverly blushes before getting serious again. “Well, I was doing research with the doctor and discussing our options… and he proposed an idea. But I am not sure how you are going to feel about it.”

 

“You won’t know until you ask Waves.” Nicole teases lightly, kissing her wife on the lips once again. “Shoot. But don’t actually.”

 

Waverly laughs and feels some of the tension melt from her muscles. “Okay, so he proposed we use donor eggs. More specifically… yours.”

 

Nicole seems to consider it for a moment before opening her mouth. No sound comes out and she closes it. After another moment of thought, she finds her voice. “Okay.”

 

“Okay? That’s it?” Waverly asks in disbelief.

 

“Well, I mean, I would like to get a little more educated on it before doing anything drastic. I would kinda like to know a little more about the process first. But if that’s what you want, I don’t see why not.” Nicole says, smiling at her wife. “What is the first step?”

 

Waverly just stares at her. She is in complete disbelief. Nicole is taking this in stride and way better than Waverly thought. “Waves?” Nicole’s voice breaks her trance.

 

Waverly shakes her head. “Sorry, just… you are taking this surprisingly well and I am not sure how to process it (ironically). And the first step is a series of blood tests and ultrasounds to see if it is even possible.”

 

Nicole pulls her laptop from the coffee table and opens it up. She smiles at Waverly and kisses her forehead before turning her attention to the laptop screen. They spend the next few hours researching the requirement and all that it entails.

Chapter Text

Three months later…

 

“Waves? Are you serious?” Nicole asks.

 

“Yes, I am completely serious.” Waverly responds, reading through the profile on the computer.

 

Wynonna pipes up from the kitchen. “Wave, don’t you think it is a little weird to be talking about this so casually?”

 

“I don’t understand why you are so focused on this?” Waverly turns to Nicole, ignoring her sister.

 

Nicole takes the laptop from Waverly’s lap and scrolls through the various profiles Waverly has chosen. “They are all redheads.”

 

“So?”

 

“I just don’t get why you are so insistent on wanting a redhead?” Nicole says, amused by it all.

 

“Is it so strange that I would want our child to look like you?” Waverly says with a teasing tone. She kisses Nicole lightly on the mouth and turns her attention back to the screen. “But seriously, what do you think of these?” She asks, pointing to the fifteen remaining profiles.

 

Wynonna enters the room and sits on the ground across from them.

 

“Okay, well I have some conditions of my own.” Nicole says with a glint in her eye. She goes into the search parameters and chooses some additional options. “You already have college educated, red hair, and a height between five foot nine and six foot two. I am going to add: non-smoker and age eighteen to twenty-two.”

 

Nicole clicks the search button and the result dwindle down to three.

 

“Okay. So, we have three left.” Waverly pulls them up so they display side by side. “They all have cute baby photos and the men themselves don’t look too bad either.” She comments.

 

Nicole delete’s one of them right away. Waverly gives her a questioning look. “That one looks too much like me. I swear he could be my sibling.” Nicole shakes her head to rid the thought. “No.”

 

Waverly laughs and looks at the two remaining donors. She studies both of their details and decides she likes donor #3345 over the other. Nicole agrees and they let the doctor know of their decision through email (attaching the sperm bank coordinator). Nicole closes the laptop and takes a deep breath.

 

“You okay?” Waverly asks.

 

“I’m great.” Nicole replies, just exhausted from the day at work and a little nervous. If I’m being completely honest.”

 

Waverly kisses her cheek and settles in Nicole’s lap. “For what reason are you nervous? There are a couple I can think of.”

 

“The surgery, or procedure, tomorrow. Just a little anxious.” Nicole fidgets slightly. “But I am excited, I really am. And I am glad I am done getting those shots.”

 

Waverly smiles and is about to say something, but Wynonna cuts in. “So, are they going to knock you out for the procedure?”

 

Nicole looks over to her sister-in-law. “Um, it is an option yes. I will be put under with general anesthesia.” Nicole looks a little more nervous. “But the idea is that after a few hours, I will be able to go home with little side effects.” Nicole takes a large gulp from her water. “I’m starving, want me to go pick something up?”

 

“Not for me. Dolls will be here any minute to pick me up.” Wynonna says, getting up from the floor. Headlights stream through the windows, announcing Dolls’ arrival.

 

“Where are you off to?” Waverly asks.

 

“Dolls is taking me to dinner in the city and then we are going to a club he knows.” Wynonna explains. She opens the door and walks out. “Have a good night!” She calls as she closes the door behind her.

 

“Well then, I guess we have the house to ourselves tonight. They won’t be back until late.” Waverly says.

 

“They won’t be back until morning Waves. I helped Dolls book them a hotel room across the street from the club. Figured it would be better than trying to drive home.” Nicole says with a chuckle.

 

“Well in that case.” Waverly moves and straddles Nicole’s lap. Waverly leans her head down and kisses lightly on Nicole’s neck. Nicole, knowing where this is going, grabs Waverly and lifts herself from the couch. Waverly wraps her legs around Nicole and moves up to kiss her lips. They continue to kiss as Nicole slowly puts Waverly down. She breaks away from the kiss and looks down at her wife.

 

“Okay, I really want to continue this, but I am literally starving and I still need to shower and change out of my uniform.”

 

Waverly seems to debate this in her head for a moment before suggesting, “How about this?” She kisses Nicole. “You go up and get the shower running and I will order a pizza. Then I will meet you up there in a minute. By the time we are done, pizza will be here.”

 

Nicole kisses her deep, allowing her tongue to wrap around Waverly’s (making Waverly shudder in surprise and pure arousal). Nicole pulls away and looks at the horney and dazed look in Waverly’s eyes. “Okay. Don’t be too long.” With that, Nicole releases Waverly with a cocky smirk on her face and walks to the stairs. Her hips sway a little too much to claim it is unintentional but she doesn’t really care. She turns as she takes the first step to confirm her suspicions… Waverly’s eyes are trained on her ass and she looks like she might not be breathing. Nicole laughs. “Don’t keep me waiting Baby!” She calls as she continues to climb the steps.

 

Nicole’s laugh and comment breaks Waverly from her trance and she (literally) runs over to the phone to call in the pizza order. She hasn’t even hung up the phone as she starts to climb the stairs. As soon as she ends the call, she is ripping clothes off and (again literally) running down the hall towards the bathroom.

Chapter Text

They arrive at the hospital early the next morning. Nicole taps her foot nervously the entire drive there and Waverly does her best not to worry about her. They arrive at the hospital and park the car. Nicole, slowly, unbuckles her seatbelt and gets out of the car. Waverly looks at Wynonna for a moment before getting out herself.

 

“Okay, so I have something to do with Dolls, but I should be back before you go into the procedure and if i'm not, I will for sure be here when you wake up.” Wynonna says, taking the keys from Nicole.

 

Nicole nods her head, but doesn’t say anything. Wynonna squeezes her arm reassuringly before getting in the truck and driving away.

 

Waverly turns and takes Nicole’s hand. “You ready?” She asks

 

“For what we are about to do? Yes. Going back into a hospital and being put under? No. But I will be. I just need a moment.” Nicole says, taking a deep breath. She closes her eyes and allows Waverly's grip on her hand to ground her. Flashbacks and glimpses of the last time she was in a hospital hit her, but she simply lets them fall away. After another deep breath, Nicole opens her eyes and looks at Waverly. She leans down and kisses Waverly lightly.

 

“Ready?”

 

“For anything.” Nicole responds. They walk in, hand-in-hand, and check in.

 


 

There is a moment, after they give you the drugs, where the combination of everything hits you. You are truly in between consciousness and unconsciousness and the drugs can act like a truth serum of sorts. Waverly wasn’t aware of this fact, but Nicole was. As she starts to feel the effects of the drugs, Wynonna walks into her room.

 

“Hey, Haughtstuff. How you feeling?” Nicole smiles up at her.

 

“They administered the drugs. I think she is starting to feel it.” Waverly says with a giggle.

 

“Nonna, I need to tell you something.” Nicole stage whispers. She rubs her nose adorably and motions for Wynonna to lean down. Waverly’s giggles continue.

 

“What’s up Haughtstoned?” Wynonna whispers with equal volume.

 

“I love your sister.” Nicole says proudly.

 

Wynonna laughs. “I know.”

 

“Good. Can I tell you a secret?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“I was afraid you were going to say no… when I asked for your blessing to marry Waves.” Nicole admits.

 

Wynonna looks at her quizzically and then over at Waverly (who is watching this all play out). “Why would I have said no?”

 

Nicole seems to sober, just for a moment, before returning to her intoxicated state. “Because, I know you didn’t like the idea of me dating your sister in the beginning. I know it wasn’t because I am a woman. Trust me, I know. You just didn’t really like me all that much. Plus, I get it. It doesn’t really matter who Waves dates because no one will ever be good enough for Waverly. And I agree.” Nicole smiles and closes her eyes for a moment as the drugs continue to do their magic. “I’m not good enough for her, yet she still loves me.” Nicole giggles. “I don’t know why, but she does.”

 

“Yes, she does.” Wynonna confirms, winking at her blushing sister. “And Nicole…” Nicole opens her eyes and looks at Wynonna. “I liked you back then. I just don’t think I could admit it to myself.”

 

Nicole nods and pauses before saying, “Fair enough, but just for the record… you were the biggest pain in the ass back then.”

 

“Were?” Waverly asks with a teasing smile.

 

Before Wynonna can retaliate, a nurse comes in. “We will be wheeling her back in about ten minutes.”

 

“Okay, well I am going to go get some coffee and food. I will see you after surgery.” Wynonna says, wanting the couple to have a moment alone. Wynonna kisses her fist and holds it out to Nicole. Nicole kisses her own hand before giving Wynonna the fist bump. Wynonna leaves and leaves the girls alone.

 

“I don’t want you to worry.” Nicole says, taking Waverly’s hand in hers. “Everything is going to be okay.”

 

“Seeing you in this hospital bed… it brings back a lot of bad memories.” Waverly replies.

 

“Well it’s a good thing we are making new, happy ones now, isn’t it?” Nicole smiles at her wife.

 

Waverly chuckles. Even drugged up Nicole is always focused on making sure she is okay. “Yeah, it is. It’s a really good thing.” Waverly leans and kisses Nicole’s lips lightly. “I love you Nicole Haught. You know that?”

 

“For some strange reason, you do.” Nicole laughs but it is sadder this time. “I’m not sure why you stayed.”

 

“Because I love you. That’s why I stayed. And I have never regretted that decision. Not once. I love you Nic. That is never going to change.” The certainty that Waverly expresses when she says it takes Nicole completely for surprise. After a moment of shock, Nicole smiles once again at her wife.

 

“How is it possible that I continue to fall more and more in love with you every single day?”

 

“There isn’t a response for that that won’t sound cheesy.” Waverly responds.

 

“Then don’t respond, just kiss me.”

 

Waverly shakes her head, smile wide, as she sits up and then leans down to kiss her wife. “You’re really high baby.”

 

“I know.” Nicole says with a content sigh. They separate and Nicole lays back and smiles, silently admiring her wife until a doctor comes in.

 

“Time to go.” He says, a group of hospital staff coming in and unlocking the wheels on Nicole’s bed. As they start to push her out of the room, Waverly can see Nicole is no longer with them, drugs taking over.

 

They stop down the hall and allow Waverly to kiss Nicole lightly on the forehead. Nicole grips her hand and squeezes (all other parts of her body motionless. “I love you baby.” Waverly whispers, seeing the doctors starting to move back into position. She releases Nicole’s hand and is pulling away when she hears Nicole mumble softly. “Fire and ice.” Waverly lets the doctors take Nicole and walks back to her room to wait.

Chapter Text

Wynonna arrives a few minutes after Nicole is taken in for the procedure. “You okay babygirl?”

 

“Yeah, I am. I am really excited for all of this. Just working through some stuff right now.” Waverly answers honestly.

 

“Being in the hospital, with her, it reminds you of stuff, right?” Wynonna asks, although it is more of a statement.

 

Waverly nods her head. “It isn’t just her deployments. I mean. It was only a few years ago that we were in this hospital. After Jack got you two.” Waverly shudders. “That was probably the worst day of my life. After everything we had been through and all the shit that happened in our childhood… none of that compares to how I felt that day.” Waverly pauses and looks at her hands. “I was worried about you, of course. But you are the Earp heir. You knew what was going on and you were somewhat capable of defending against Jack. But Nicole was in the dark. She is human in every sense of the word and she shouldn’t have ever been involved.” Waverly looks at her sister. “Nicole died that morning. She died, alone, in the snow, in a ditch on the side of the road. They had to resuscitate her on site and she crashed again before they got to the hospital.” Waverly feels the tears in her eyes as she continues. “And the worst part was that I already knew I was in love with her. She had died and I hadn’t told her how I felt.” Waverly wipes the silent tears from her cheek. “And even after that, it still took me weeks to actually tell and show her how I really felt.” Waverly laughs and the smile returns to her face. “She always says that she doesn’t deserve me. That she is lucky I stuck around for her. But it is the opposite. She was kidnapped, and hurt by a revenant. But she still stuck around, even when we not only refused to tell her the truth, but flat out lied to her. She stuck around, even after our sister shot her or when the widow bit her and she almost died again because of the stupid curse. And she waited for me. She waited for me to be ready, in every way. She never pushed me or asked me to be something I am not.” Waverly pauses and looks down at her wedding rings. “I am the lucky one Wynonna. I don’t deserve her but she still stayed. Hell, she is getting a procedure so I can be a mom in the way I always dreamed of.” Waverly laughs and wipes the tears. “I love her so much Nonna and I really don’t know how I lived my life before her.”

 

“Maybe that is because you weren’t truly living your life before her?” Gus says from the doorway, startling them. “Sorry ladies, didn’t mean to scare you. I just didn’t want to interrupt.” Gus walks in and takes a seat next to Waverly. “I told Nicole this once, when she was having a rough time and I am going to say it to you now. There is a difference between surviving and living. Before you took control of your life, you were simply surviving. You acted the way people wanted you to in order to survive in this shit-hole town. The same was for Nicole. She acted the way society wanted her to. You both hid who you truly were until you found someone who saw past the mask.”

 

Waverly thinks back and smiles. She was so different back then. Strangers probably wouldn’t see too much of a difference. But she knows Gus saw the changes in her instantly. Even Wynonna saw, although she couldn’t seem to figure out why these changes were happening to her sister. It took Waverly confessing her love and then kissing Nicole on the ground for Wynonna to figure it out. Waverly laughs at the irony.

 

“I guess you are right Gus.” Waverly says with a watery smile.

 

Gus wraps an arm around Waverly and gives her a comforting squeeze. Waverly looks over towards her sister and sees the same feelings reflected in her eyes. Wynonna nods and crosses her arm over her chest, but doesn’t say anything.

 


 

Nicole Is rolled out of the procedure room about two hours later. She is awake, but doesn’t seem to be comprehending anything. That is, until she is rolled into the room and sees her wife waiting for her.

 

“Hey baby. How you feeling?” Waverly asks as the nurses lock Nicole’s bed into place.

 

“Okay. A little numb, you know, just from the waist down. No biggy.” Nicole jokes with a lopsided and sleepy smirk.

 

“Well, that’s good.” Waverly says, taking Nicole’s hand in hers.

 

She looks up to the doctor and he begins to talk. “Everything went well. It took a little longer than expected but that was due to us being extremely careful. We are aware of her prior injuries (and although it shouldn’t have effected that region) we just wanted to be extra cautious. Overall, the procedure was a success and she should be ready to go home in a little while. We are going to run a few more tests and let her rest a bit before releasing her.” He leans down and places a light hand on Nicole’s shoulder. “You did great Nicole.”

 

“Thanks Jim.” Nicole responds.

 

“You two know each other?” Wynonna asks, noticing the familiarity between the two.

 

Jim laughs lightly and Nicole smiles. “We had a professional relationship before because of work (she was always in here bringing people, or herself, in to the ER). But what was it, a year or two ago?” He asks Nicole. She nods. “Yeah, she spoke at the Career Day at Purg. Elementary. My wife and I moved here three years ago. She is the 3rd grade teacher at the elementary school. We were there for the event and all bonded about being the outsiders in town.” He says, smiling down at her.

 

“They get lunch once a month together.” Waverly comments. “His wife Amy is a sweetheart and she has now started insisting I join them.” She smiles at Jim.

 

Jim laughs and looks at Waverly. “She loves our lunches. Plus, you hold a conversation better than anyone else in town. Not a lot of people in town are educated past high school.”

 

“I can name like eight.” Gus says with a smile. “And then all the people working here of course.”

 

“My point exactly. Amy loves to learn and loves the challenge of having intellectual conversations.” He laughs. “I however, barely keep up when they have their conversations.”

 

He and Nicole both laugh.

 

“You’re a doctor? You can’t keep up?” Wynonna asks.

 

Nicole bursts into another fit of laughter. She breathes and tries to calm down as she says, “Amy and Waverly both have history degrees. Although Wave’s has her Masters in it, Amy still has a pretty firm grasp on the subject and leave Jim and I in the dust.”

 

Jim laughs and pats Nicole’s shoulder lightly. “Alright, well I have a few patients to check on, but I will be back to check on you later.”

 

“Thanks Jim.” Waverly and Gus say in unison.

 

They turn their attentions back to Nicole once he leaves the room.

Chapter Text

A few hours later, Wynonna is helping Waverly get Nicole home. They get her discharged and in the car without difficulty. Nicole is awake and aware, but they still keep a close eye on her. They are passing through the center of town when Nicole speaks up.

 

“Are either of you hungry?” She asks.

 

“I’m not.” Wynonna replies. “I ate your Jell-O when you were in the hospital.”

 

“Dude. That’s for patients. Wait, I was wondering why I didn’t get my Jell-O. Dammit Earp, that’s the only good tasting thing in that hospital.” Nicole complains.

 

“Hence, why I ate it.” Wynonna says with a wink through the rearview mirror.

 

“I hate you.” Nicole grumbles.

 

“No you don’t.” Wynonna says with a light laugh.

 

“Your right, I don’t. But I will get my revenge. My Jell-O’s demise will not go unpunished.” Nicole jokes.

 

“Sure, sure.” Wynonna huffs.

 

Waverly is asleep next to Nicole, practically on top of her as she leans heavily into her side. Nicole holds her close, enjoying every moment of it.

 


 

Beyond some cramping and slight discomfort, Nicole feels fine (much to her wife’s relief) and they spend the rest of their day relaxing around the homestead.

 

“Okay, I have popcorn, Red Vines and M&Ms. Do we need anything else?” Waverly asks as she walks into the living room with said snacks.

 

“Nope, sit down. We are trying to decide which movie we are watching.” Wynonna says. “We have narrowed it down to: Airplane!, Caddyshack, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

 

Nicole sits up and takes the bowl of popcorn from Waverly so she can sit down and get comfortable. After situating herself between Nicole and her sister on the couch, she opens the Red Vines and sticks one in her mouth as she thinks. “Why did you pick these three?”

 

“They are all 1980’s comedy classics.” Nicole says, as if that is all the explanation necessary. Waverly shakes her head in amusement.

 

“Well, I haven’t seen Airplane! before. So, would you both mind if we watched that one?” Waverly asks.

 

“Sure Waves.” Nicole says, moving her arm so Waverly can tuck herself into her side.

 


 

By the time the movie is over and another one turns on, Waverly is laying across the couch. Her head and torso in Nicole’s lap and everything else on Wynonna (who had scooted so she is now next to Nicole). Nicole looks down and confirms her theory that Waverly wouldn’t make it through the movie without falling asleep. She looks over and sees that, Wynonna too, has fallen asleep. Wynonna’s head leans on Nicole’s shoulder so any movement will probably wake the Earp heir. Nicole, knowing Wynonna doesn’t get many restful nights (especially when Dolls isn’t here), can’t bear to wake the peacefully sleeping woman. She decides watching another movie wouldn’t hurt.

 


 

When Waverly wakes up the next morning, she is in her bed and she isn’t alone. But, it isn’t her wife in bed with her. She peaks her head up and sees the long brunette waves that tell her the other woman is her sister. Wynonna snores softly and looks to be in utter peace as she occasionally murmurs something about how there is no such thing as too much whiskey. Waverly makes an effort to get out of bed without waking her sister and closes the door slowly before walking down stairs.

 

When she gets to the bottom of the stairs, she looks out the window and sees two police cars outside. One is Nicole’s and the other is one Waverly recognizes as Nedley’s. She continues to look around the driveway until she spots Nicole and Nedley. They are both leaning up against the barn, coffee cups in hand. They seem to be having an intense conversation, but neither display any animosity towards each other. Waverly decides to make breakfast, knowing Wynonna will be up soon and probably hungry.

 

Nicole’s phone is plugged into the speaker and Waverly listens to the song that is playing. It’s an old Maroon 5 song, that Waverly knows is on Nicole’s Mellow playlist.

 

Waverly turns up the music a bit and continues to go about cooking as she sings along.

 

Beauty queen of only eighteen

She had some trouble with herself

He was always there to help her

She always belonged to someone else

I drove for miles and miles

And wound up at your door

I've had you so many times

But somehow, I want more

 

I don't mind spending every day

Out on your corner in the pouring rain

Look for the girl with the broken smile

Ask her if she wants to stay a while

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

 

Waverly laughs. The last time she heard this song, she was in the car with Nicole as her wife proceeded to belt out every line of the song. Animatedly tapping her fingers on the wheel as she drove.

 

Tap on my window, knock on my door

I want to make you feel beautiful

I know I tend to get so insecure

Doesn't matter anymore

It's not always rainbows and butterflies

It's compromise that moves us along

My heart is full and my door's always open

You come any time you want

 

She smiles so wide, thinking about that car ride and how Nicole never fails to entertain her, just by being her own goofy self.

 

I don't mind spending every day

Out on your corner in the pouring rain

Look for the girl with the broken smile

Ask her if she wants to stay a while

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

 

I know where you hide

Alone in your car

Know all of the things that make you who you are

I know that goodbye means nothing at all

Comes back and makes me catch her every time she falls, yeah

Tap on my window, knock on my door

I want to make you feel beautiful

 

Waverly lets herself be immersed in the memory and absentmindedly sways her hips to the song while she finishes the eggs.

 

I don't mind spending every day

Out on your corner in the pouring rain

Look for the girl with the broken smile

Ask her if she wants to stay a while

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

And she will be loved

 

Waverly knows. She is and always will.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up almost thirty minutes before her alarm is supposed to go off. She smiles though. Today is going to be a good day. She gets up and gets dressed, kissing Waverly’s forehead as she exits the room and walks down the stairs.

 

She is nearly done making breakfast when she feels strong arms wrap around her waist from behind and a face presses between her shoulder blades. A muffled ‘good morning’ is mumbled into her shirt.

 

“Good morning beautiful. I’m sorry, did I wake you?” Nicole asks, turning off the burner on the stove and placing the spoon and bowl to the side. She turns in Waverly’s arms so they are face to face (or face to chest).

 

Waverly presses her face into Nicole’s chest as soon as her wife stops moving and wraps her arms around Waverly. Another muffled response comes from Nicole’s shirt. “No. I could just feel that you weren’t there. Waverly tightens her grip on Nicole. “Missed my bonus blanket.”

 

Nicole chuckles lightly and kisses the crown of Waverly’s head. “Why am I the bonus blanket? Normally you’re the one on top of me when we wake up.”

 

Waverly mumbles something Nicole can’t understand but she can guess what Waverly said. Nicole kisses Waverly’s hair again before coaxing Waverly’s hiding face out of her shirt. “Breakfast is almost ready. You want it in bed or at the table?”

 

Waverly smiles. “How did I get so lucky? And in bed please.”

 

Nicole stifles a laugh.

 

“What?” Waverly asks. Not missing how her wife’s eyes soften when they refocus on her.

 

“I don’t know about how lucky you had to be to get stuck with me…” Nicole says. She notices how Waverly looks like she is about to counter that comment so she continues. “I believe in faith, karma, fate, and luck. I have faith, that all the shit I have gone through is for a reason. I think it was karma, good and bad, that brought me to Purgatory where I ended up fighting crime alongside an incredible team. I think it was fate that I found you. And I feel incredibly lucky that you are my wife, that you want to have a future with me, that I have this amazing family that seems to be always growing. You and I could argue all day and night about who is luckier, but I don’t care enough to try.” Nicole leans down and kisses Waverly on the lips. “I’m just happy I’m as lucky as I am.”

 

Waverly smiles, feeling the tears that want to form. She fights them, knowing today is going to be an emotional day anyways. She leans up on her tippy toes and kisses Nicole, moving her hands so they wrap around the back of Nicole’s neck.

 

After a long moment, Nicole pulls away (a little breathless). “Trust me, I don’t want to stop.” Nicole says as she registers Waverly’s pouty face. “But I need to serve up this breakfast before it gets cold.”

 

Waverly nods and kisses Nicole once more before releasing her.

 

“Now you have two minutes and thirty seconds to get that cute ass of yours up to bed before I make you eat this down here.” Nicole says with a suggestive wink.

 

Waverly runs up the stairs and dive bombs the bed, laughing as she untangles herself from the nest of blankets and sheets. By the time she is comfortable, Nicole is walking in with a tray of food. She is all smiles until she realizes Nicole’s food isn’t on the tray and she is moving to leave the room after placing the food down for her. “You’re not eating with me?”

 

Nicole shakes her head. “I can’t, I have to work this morning. I am going to work out with Dolls and Wynonna and then get some paperwork done before I come back here to pick you up.”

 

“But I saw the food you were making, that is way more than what is here.” Waverly says, confused.

 

“Yeah, the rest is for Wynonna. I have it packed up in to-go containers and a cup of coffee too. She will eat while we drive to the station.” Nicole leans down and kisses Waverly. “Oh and by the way, the cruiser is getting turned in today so if you have anything hidden in there, now is the time to tell me.”

 

“Your turning in your cruiser?”

 

“Not just me, the whole motor pool is getting upgraded today.”

Nicole says, grabbing her phone from the nightstand. “Nedley and I have been working on it for a while now and found a way to do it with our budget. I’m pretty psyched. But I have to admit. I am a little sad to see the old girl go.”

 

“Lots of memories in that car.” Waverly muses, deep in recollection.

 

“Good and bad.” Nicole comments, as deep in her thoughts as Waverly. She shakes her head and continues. “But the engine is starting to hiccup and the transmissions on the other Crown Vics are starting to blow. It’s time.”

 

Waverly nods her head and smiles. “So, what car are you getting to replace all the Crown Victorias?”

 

“I guess you will have to wait and see. Are you planning on coming to the station before the appointment?” Nicole asks with a smile.

 

“Why don’t we meet at the station? I have to go down there anyway. No point in driving back up here if we will both be there.” Waverly suggests.

 

“Sure. Sounds great. I will see you later.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly once more before leaving the room with a wide grin on her face.

 


 

“Thanks for the breakfast Haughtstuff.” Wynonna says through a mouthful of pancake.

 

Nicole chuckles and chances a glance to the passenger seat before returning her focus to the road. “No problem Wyn. Have a rough night? You seemed particularly out of it last night when I came to get you.”

 

“Just doing a lot of thinking. And with thinking, comes whiskey.” Wynonna says, stuffing another pancake in her mouth.

 

“What were you thinking about so hard?” Nicole asks, masking her concern with curiosity.

 

“Well, a lot of things. I mean, like how this curse is still happening and I still have twenty-nine revenants to kill. And until I do, Alice can’t come home and you and Waves will never be truly safe. No one is.”

 

“Want to know what I think?” Wynonna nods her head. “I think life has a funny way of changing plans. And I think it is interesting how much life changes if you look at it from a different perspective. For example, you say that you still have twenty-nine revenants to kill. From my point of view: In the last four years, you have killed forty-eight of the rev heads and over a dozen other demons that have been living in the Ghost River Triangle. And the first two years of that time, you were still trying to figure it all out. I think you should be proud and continue to fight. No one will ever be truly safe. Demons aren’t the only danger in the world. There are car crashes and wars and accidents that happen every day.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep breath. “I won’t let the fear of the future stop me from living my life. I won’t let it stop me from being the best I can be for Waves and for all of you. It took me being tortured in a fucking cave shelter and almost dying again to realize that. You are strong Wynonna. I know this whole mess really weighs on you and I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. But I want you to see that, sometimes, life isn’t and ugly of frightening as it seems.“

 

Wynonna is silent for a long moment. “I think you understand exactly how it feels. The guilt of taking another person’s life (even if they are monsters).” She looks at Nicole, who has her eyes trained on the road. “I know it weighs on you. I see it in your eyes sometimes. I know that look, I have seen it in my own since the day I killed my daddy. But I think that is why you treat me the way you do. You don’t pity me or make me feel weak. You just pick me up when I am and remind me why I am doing this.”

 

“Maybe. But it is a little different for me.”

 

“Okay, how do you figure?”

 

“Your first kill was an accident. Although you were young and were treated like a crazy person after, it is different.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep breath. “I was seventeen the first time I killed someone. And it wasn’t an accident.”

Chapter Text

“What happened?” Wynonna asks tentatively.

 

“A guy walked into one of our mobile medical units during my first deployment. We had just flown into Pakistan that week and we were there getting supplies when I noticed him. He was clutching his arm to his gut, so I thought he was hurt. I approached him and that’s when he brandished the grenade. It looked homemade, which means it was highly unstable. I drew my weapon and ordered him to freeze. He started to run towards a group of young girls who were receiving medical treatment after their school was ambushed by radicals. He was screaming and cursing the girls. I-I… I couldn’t let him blow them up… I shot him twice and he hit the ground before reaching the girls and the medics treating them. The grenade went off though (the unstable elements reacting when he hit the ground). Minor injuries overall and the kill was deemed ‘justified’ by my superiors.” Nicole takes a sip of her coffee. “I had two other kills during that deployment. One was the guy who Eli helped torture me… and the other was a woman…” Nicole takes a deep breath, trying to regulate herself.

 

“That must have been hard.” Wynonna says compassionately.

 

“The soldier, the traitor… no. But the woman in Iraq… I will never forget that day. God I wish I could.” Wynonna looks at Nicole, knowing this subject is tough for the redhead. But Nicole is opening up to her, and she wants it to continue.

 

“The woman…”

 

“Iraq… we were due to go home in a week. We were just doing patrols in the humvee. A woman walked out into the road. Protocol dictated that we stop and clear any and all threats. Green and I got out with guns drawn. I commanded her to stop, but she just kept walking towards us. I fired a warning shot in the air and Mike did the same… but she didn’t stop. She was carrying something that we couldn’t identify. My CO gave us the order and we shot her. We moved to where she was on the ground and found the only thing she was carrying was a white piece of cloth… A white flag… A flag of surrender…” Nicole’s voice cracks a bit. “A part of me died in that moment, thinking I killed an unarmed woman who was surrendering. But then the woman’s husband detonated an IED near us and screamed as he shot at us. He grazed Liz and it took almost fifteen minutes for us to get him. When we searched his home. We found his plans and how the death of his wife was just a distraction… He knew we would kill her because of the protocol. He knew… and he sent her out to die for his cause.”

 

“Nicole that woman… that wasn’t your fault. You and Mike were only doing what you had to do to protect your unit. It’s not like you just shot her. You told her to stop and gave her a chance.” Wynonna tries.

 

“But how do we know the terms of her involvement. Maybe she did it willingly, maybe he forced her… We will never know because they are both dead.” Nicole counters. She takes a deep breath. “I have killed a lot of people Wynonna. Too many. And that will never leave me. But I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if it meant keeping my family safe. I would carry that burden if it meant bringing Alice home. I would hold on to it if it meant we could all sleep soundly. I would carry that weight if it meant you didn’t have to.” Nicole pauses. “Because it never gets easier… not if you are in the right of mind. Part of me died overseas. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true. So I have an idea of what you are going through, yes. But no matter how similar it is, it will never be the same. Your burdens will be completely different than mine… both ugly and awful in their own right.”

 

Wynonna nods and stays silent for several minutes, taking in the conversation. After some reflection she turns to look at Nicole. “You are a good person Nicole.” Wynonna knows it is a little random, but she feels like Nicole needs to hear it.

 

Nicole laughs, but there is no joy or humor in it. “It’s hard to believe that. But I am trying to be the best I can be.” She turns and looks at Wynonna. “But thank you. Not because it’s necessarily true, but because I can tell you believe it.” Nicole returns her focus to the road and chuckles. “I’m not going to tell you that you are a good person. I think your actions speak for themselves.”

 

Wynonna laughs and they return to their normal selves, the weight of the conversation lifted as the radio station changes to a catchy rock song.

 


 

Waverly walks into the station a few hours later to drop off some research and to meet Nicole. She checks Nicole’s desk and then the Black Badge office but Nicole is nowhere to be found. She walks back up to the front desk and asks the officer at the front desk where she could find Nicole.

 

“Officer Haught and Sherriff Nedley are out at the west end of town, Ma’am. They were driving back from a call and decided to test out the new vehicles.” He says with a respectful smile. “Would you like me to radio them in for you?”

 

“No, no. That’s okay. Did they say when they would be back?” Waverly asks.

 

“Officer Haught’s shift ends in less than an hour, so I would assume they should be back any minute.”

 

“Thanks Finn.” Waverly says to the officer. She walks into the Black Badge Division office and shuts the door.

 


 

Waverly’s phone chimes with a new text message. She picks up her phone and smiles.

 

Nic (3:11pm): Hey baby. Are you at the station yet?

 

Waves (3:12pm): Yes

 

Nic (3:12pm): Come out to the parking lot in 2 minutes.

 

Waves (3:13pm): Okay?

 

Waverly opens the door and walks into the parking lot just as Nedley and Nicole are driving in. Nedley is in a Ford Expedition Police SSV and seems to be enjoying his new ride. Following close behind him, Nicole rolls up to Waverly and rolls down the window.

 

“Hey baby.”

 

“Hey, nice car.” Waverly says with a smile.

 

“Oh this isn’t mine.” Nicole says, gesturing to the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan she is driving.

 

Waverly quirks an eyebrow in confusion. Nicole looks like a kid in a candy shop.

 

“C’mon, hop in. Mine is parked in the back. I have to park this bad boy back there anyways.” Nicole says, unlocking the passenger door.

 

Waverly gets in and marvels in the brand new and very updated cruiser. Damn this is a nice car.

 

“So if this isn’t yours, why are you driving it?” Waverly asks as Nicole drives further into the lot.

 

“Well, I won’t be driving these often, so Nedley and I wanted to have some fun with it.” Nicole says giddily. She parks the sedan in a spot and gets out.

 

“Okay, so where is yours?” Waverly asks, laughing at her wife’s pure joy.

 

Nicole stops in front of a VERY nice SUV and turns to Waverly with a wide smile, teeth on full display. “This is the Ford Police Interceptor Utility.” Nicole unlocks the car and lets Waverly in.

 

Damn! This car is even nicer than the last one! Waverly thinks. “Wow babe. This is really nice.” Waverly admits, understanding her wife’s excitement a little better now.

 

“This car is specifically designed for police work. Tested and designed by cops. All the technology ties into my department PC and allows for easier use. You saw the bull bar on the grill and it is equipped with ballistic panels (which is pretty good considering this is Purgatory). It’s a 3.7 L V6 with 365 ponies under the hood. Plus, it’s an EcoBoost system. It’s so awesome! There are so many other features too, but I could literally spend hours talking about it so I am going to stop because I am rambling.” Nicole is totally fangirling over this car and it is making Waverly smile so wide it hurts.

Chapter Text

Waverly sits shotgun as they drive to the hospital in Nicole’s new SUV. Waverly doesn’t know a lot about cars, but she does know this is probably the nicest and most expensive car she has ever been in. They listen to the radio (that is playing lightly in the background) as they drive. Nicole has her left hand on the wheel and her right holding Waverly’s. After a few minutes of comfortable silence, “You ready for this?” Nicole asks.

 

“Yes. But you know the chances of this working are less than fifty percent, right?” Waverly asks nervously.

 

“Yes? Should that bother me?” Nicole asks with a mixture of humor and confusion.

 

“I just don’t want to get our hopes up only to be disappointed.” Waverly says with a sigh.

 

Nicole squeezes Waverly’s hand and brings it up to her lips so she can place a kiss on her knuckles. “Waves. My hopes are up. But not because of the IVF. Because, at least in my mind, everything will work out. If IVF doesn’t work, we can adopt or use a surrogate. And I know neither of those choices are ideal, but they are the backup plan. I am just happy we are starting our future. Don’t stress out about something you can’t control. Just relax as best you can and try and enjoy it.” Nicole kisses Waverly’s hand again before returning their hands to the center console.

 

“I know your right, it’s just hard. I feel all this pressure because if this doesn’t work, it’s my fault.”

 

“Baby, you can’t control this. It’s not your fault if it doesn’t work. There isn’t even fault to be blamed. I have faith that whatever happens, it’s for the best. We will get through this together. Not only do we have each other, but we have an amazing support system around us too.” Nicole says with conviction.

 

Waverly gives a small smile and nods. She pulls Nicole’s hand into her lap and holds on to it until they get to the hospital. 

 


 

 

They make it back home in time for dinner. Although Waverly feels fine, Nicole still insists on helping her inside.

 

“Hey Honey. How did it go?” Gus asks as Nicole and Waverly enter the kitchen.

 

“It was pretty quick and painless, so good.” Waverly says cheerfully.

 

“You should go sit down and put your feet up. The doctor says it helps.” Nicole says, kissing Waverly lightly on the forehead.

 

“Yeah, okay.” Waverly agrees and she walks over to the couch.

 

Nicole, after making sure Waverly is comfortable, walks over and starts helping Gus with the dinner preparations.

 

“So how is she really doing?” Gus asks after a few minutes.

 

Nicole sighs a little. “Overall, she is really excited. But she is also stressing herself out too. She sees the success rates and everything and feels like she is a failure if this doesn’t work. I mean, I will be maybe a little disappointed, but not with her. She almost acts like if she can’t bring a child into the world (my child), she is a failure to me and a failure as a woman.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep breath. “Gus, I told her that wasn’t true, but she still seems unconvinced. Like, she wants to believe me, but she can’t. It breaks my heart.”

 

“That probably has a lot to do with her daddy.” Gus says, her hatred for the man evident in the way she talks about him. “That man taught those girls that women were only good for birthing sons and cooking. Drunken bastard.”

 

“I wish I had met Ward Earp.” Nicole says simply, not stopping her movements as she mixes the salad dressing.

 

“Now why on earth would you want to do that?” Gus says, so surprised by Nicole’s admission that it stops her in her tracks.

 

Nicole stops, noticing Gus’ shock (a rarity seeing as not much shocks Gus). “Honestly, there are a couple reasons.”

 

“And those reasons…?”

 

“On one hand, I would love to punch him in the face, one punch for every horrible or mean thing he did to his girls. He wasn’t worthy of any of them. I know I didn’t know Willa very long, and my memories with her are not fond ones. But I have seen pictures and read the diaries. She could have been a good person. She was a child. Ward… he took her innocence away at such a young age. Unlike Wynonna, he didn’t seem too concerned about breaking the curse so his children wouldn’t have to… He ruined Willa and did his best to fuck up Wynonna and Waverly too. But those girls are strong (the strongest women I have ever met) and they had each other and you and Curtis and Shorty. Waverly even had Champ. I might not like the boy-man pig, but at the time, he was what Waverly needed.” Nicole pauses and turns off the stove. “On the other hand, I would want to show him how, despite his best efforts to the contrary, his girls became amazing women. They have a purpose and are genuinely good people. They are loved by many and (even though they hide it well) they love others with all their hearts. I would want him to see them, not only survive, but thrive. They are amazing, both of them. Even after everything they have been through, they are amazing. And that is a testament to you, Curtis and Shorty. You raised them right in the best way you could. Despite the horrible situation and complications. I would want him to see them now. I would want him to face the fact that they are amazing and he had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

 

Gus is silent for a long moment, digesting all that Nicole has said. “Nicole?”

 

“Yeah Gus?” Nicole asks, looking up from what she is doing.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“For what?”

 

“I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say something like that about how we raised the girls.” Gus says.

 

Nicole nods her head slowly, debating her next words. “You did the best you could with the situation you were given. And what you did was a hell of a lot better than most ‘regular’ parents do.” Nicole pauses. “I had two amazing parents Gus, and I never doubted their love for me. But the connection and the love you have for Waves and Wyn… that is something that goes beyond parenting and raising children. You, Curtis and Shorty are the reason those little girls grew up to be strong, independent and moral women.”

 

Gus seems a little shocked by what Nicole is saying and takes a long moment to respond. “I believe you have also had a lot to do with them being good people.” Gus says, studying Nicole.

 

Nicole breaks her gaze and goes back to work, but not before stating, “I found them that way. They were amazing long before I got here and will continue to be long after I am gone. It’s just who they are.” with conviction.

 

The oven timer goes off and they table the conversation for a later time.

Chapter Text

Nicole drives to the consulate in silence. She is in her uniform, the light camo fabric contrasting with the dark color of the seat. As she gets closer, she starts to let her mind drift. What does he want? What could General Edwards want from me now? She had met with him all those weeks ago, and it was relatively pleasant. They spoke about her recovery and the award. They also discussed Mike and Riley, which was slightly less pleasant. But when he called her an hour ago and asked for her to meet him… something just feels off.

 

She continues to think like this until she is pulling into the parking lot and getting out of the car. Nicole walks in and checks in before being directed to a room on the fourth floor. She enters the room after a knock.

 


 

Waverly checks the clock from her place on the couch. It is ten in the evening and she hasn’t heard from Nicole. She is probably just out with Wynonna. She tells herself. She had texted Nicole earlier in the day, but her phone must be dead or turned off because it hasn’t delivered. She takes a deep breath and returns her attention to the movie. She distracts herself with that, trying not to worry. It’s probably nothing. She tells herself. But a part of her knows she is lying to herself. Something is wrong.

 


 

Wynonna returns home around midnight and is greeted by a pacing Waverly in the living room.

 

“Woah, whats wrong?” Wynonna asks. “You look like you are wearing holes into the floorboards.”

 

Waverly looks around her sister, moving to the front door and seeing no one else is with her besides Dolls (who is looking down at his phone with interest).

 

“Nicole isn’t with you?” Waverly asks, turning to her sister.

 

“No? She isn’t home? Wynonna asks with confusion. Panic grips her features soon after. “Waves, when was the last time you saw or heard from her?”

 

“This morning, when you both left for work. Wynonna, what’s going on?”

 

“Waves, didn’t you call her earlier? Isn’t that why she left?” Wynonna asks, stepping towards her sister.

 

“Call her? No, I didn’t? What are you talking about Nonna?” Waverly asks, concern rising.

 

Wynonna pauses a moment before speaking. “Nicole got a phone call around ten this morning. After the call ended, she went into Nedley’s office. She was in there a few minutes before she just clocked out and left the station… I asked Nedley where she went and he said she took a personal day… She had something to do… I thought she was coming to meet you.”

 

Waverly feels the panic rise to an unsafe level and she can’t stop her hands from shaking. Wynonna, noticing, takes her hands in her own (partially to comfort her sister, partially to ground herself and her own fear). Dolls walks in, looking down at his phone with a mixture of confusion and annoyance.

 

“Dolls.” Waverly says keeping her voice as level as possible. “Where is Nicole?”

 

Dolls looks up and looks at the sisters. “I’m not sure. The tracker I have on her phone isn’t working.” He takes a breath. “Last thing I heard, she was at the consulate.”

 

“Why?”

 

“General Edwards requested her to meet him. She didn’t say anything else about it. I was in Nedley’s office when she requested the rest of the day off. Based on her demeanor, I gather she didn’t know the purpose of the meeting either.” Dolls says. He looks back down at his phone, pressing through different screens. “Her last known location was about five miles from the consulate.”

 

They all stay silent for a moment, digesting the information. A moment passes before (without a word) they all take seats around the room and sit to wait.

 


 

Dolls phone dings, startling everyone. Waverly checks the clock on her phone for the hundredth time and sees its almost one in the morning.

 

Dolls’ eyes widen.

 

“Dolls, what is it?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Haught’s tracker just popped back up.” He says, still staring at his screen.

 

“Where is she?” Waverly asks, somewhat relieved.

 

“Here.” Dolls answers, his voice dripping with surprise as a flash of headlights stream in through the windows.

 

Waverly turns and sees Nicole’s SUV as it passes the boundary line. Nicole turns off her headlights (obviously trying not to wake anyone that may be sleeping). Nicole pulls up to her normal spot and kills the engine, but doesn’t get out. Waverly waits… and waits. But Nicole still doesn’t get out. After over thirty minutes of waiting, Waverly is at the end of her rope. She gets up and opens the front door. She walks outside and towards Nicole’s new cruiser. She goes to the driver’s side door and opens it. Nicole sits there, eyes closed, hands balled into fists so tight her skin from the wrist down is white. Her seat is reclined back slightly, her body looking so stiff it looks painful.

 

After a moment of silently observing her wife, Waverly speaks. “Nicole, baby?”

 

Nicole flinches at the sound and her eyes fly open, but she doesn’t say anything. Waverly takes a step closer and places her hand so it hovers over Nicole’s arm. After a moment of Nicole staring at her wife’s questioning hand, she nods. Waverly releases a breath and places her hand lightly on Nicole’s arm. Nicole shivers at the contact and Waverly notices how cold Nicole’s body feels (so unlike her normal warm and comfy self). Waverly moves closer and meets Nicole’s gaze, now seeing the pain that lays behind them.

 

“Come inside, please.” Waverly says in her soothing tone that always helps Nicole relax.

 

Nicole nods again, but stays just as tense as she gets out of the car.

 

They walk into the house, where Dolls and Wynonna are waiting.

 

“You okay there Nicole?” Wynonna asks.

 

“No.” Nicole says softly.

 

Her answer (or rather the honesty of it) surprises everyone and the shock shows on all of their faces.

 

“He debriefed you, didn’t he? He did your AAR?” Dolls asks.

 

Nicole nods, but her eyes never leave the ground.

 

“We are going to go to bed.” Waverly says softly to the two, tugging Nicole along. “Goodnight guys.”

 

“Goodnight.” They both say.

 

After they hear Waverly’s bedroom door shut, Wynonna asks the question that is bouncing around in her head. “What’s an ARR?”

 

Dolls sighs and looks at her. “ARR. After Action Report… They inform her of the stats from the mission and went over details… like… how many people she killed.”

Chapter Text

Nicole wakes up to the sound of someone screaming. Its loud and vibrates through her skull painfully. It is only when Waverly shakes her into awareness that she realizes… she is the one screaming.

 

Tears streaming down her face, body drenched in sweat, heart beating erratically, Nicole isn’t all there. She can feel Waverly shaking her and talking to her, but its disconnected and muffled. Like she is underwater. This feeling, it isn’t foreign to her, but it hasn’t happened in years. She can see Waverly looking at her with concerned eyes, tears of her own making her eyes glassy. But then the dream comes back to her, or rather… the memory.

 

“Dallas? [pauses] Dallas, do you copy?” Liz calls over coms.

 

“Copy Farrell. Breaching final structure.” Nicole says in a whisper.

 

After a nod from Gibbs, they breach the front door. Gibbs’ kick basically broke the wood door into pieces that littered the floor.

 

They enter the dwelling and come face to face with a woman. She does not move from her place at the dinner table. She just stares at them.

 

موږ د معلوماتو په لټه کې یو (We are looking for information.)” Nicole says in a soft, yet authoritative tone.

 

The woman did not react. She simply kept staring at them.

 

مهرباني وکړه. موږ نه غواړو چې له چا سره زیان وکړو (Please. We do not want to harm anyone.)” She says, hoping the woman will respond and cooperate.

 

The woman places her hands in her lap (concealing them under the table). Nicole and Gibbs both tighten their grips on their weapons that are still trained on the silent woman.

 

The woman raises her hands back up onto the table, noticing how the soldiers reacted to her earlier move. She looks at Nicole, her emotionless eyes turning to angry ones as she stares at her.

 

“تاسو دلته لا پخوا زیان رسولی دی. تاسو خوند یاست، هغه اور چې زموږ کلي د ځمکې په لور سوځوي. تاسو ټول پوهیږئ چې څنګه کولی شي له منځه یوسي. (You have already done harm here. You are pigs, the fire that burns our villages to the ground. All you know how to do is destroy.)” The woman says to Nicole. She stands, her hands gripping the table tightly. “You are the reason for all this death.” She says in English.

 

“We are only here for information.” Gibbs says.

 

“You are here to control all of us and kill those brave enough to defy you. You want slaves. You want to destroy us.” She says, her English very advanced.

 

“We want to save lives. We want to stop the man who bombed and torched all those villages to the west.” Nicole says coolly. Her gun suddenly feels heavy in her hands.

 

“They only set fire to those villages because your men where there a week earlier, asking for information and seeking aid. Those villagers were traitors by helping the pigs.” The woman bites back.

 

“Those villagers were a group of women and children who were evacuated from their homes because of all the fighting. They were just trying to stay alive.” Gibbs says.

 

“They were filthy whores!” The woman responds with anger, taking a step towards Nicole.

 

“So that’s what you do to women? You cut their throats or cut off their ears or noses, shoot them, burn them alive and murder them in front of their families?” Nicole questions with leveled anger. She drops her gun, knowing Gibbs has her covered. She takes a step towards the woman. “Oh, that’s right, ‘cause your group is the one that shot and beheaded that little girl—what was her name Ariana—because she wanted to go to school and learn! Is that Islamic law?!”

 

The woman chants something in Arabic, something Nicole and Gibbs have heard too many times. She pulls a knife as she does and swings it at Nicole.

 

“To kill a little girl?!” Nicole blocks the knife. ”That’s Islamic law?!” Nicole strikes the woman after deflecting the knife and the woman falls back into a wall.

 

She continues to chant, gripping the knife tightly in her hand. There is blood on it and the sight makes the woman’s mouth shift into a deadly and scary smirk.

 

Nicole, noticing the blood on the knife, sees that her uniform is torn and blood is leaking from a wound on her forearm. Obviously the block wasn’t good enough. But still, Nicole doesn’t pull her gun again.

 

Gibbs shouts, commanding the woman to drop the knife. She refuses, instead charging towards Nicole again. Nicole dodges her and shoves her slightly.

 

The woman stops and turns to her again. “You, pig. You will never be safe! We will kill you and then my brothers and sisters will kill your family!” She threatens. She peers at Nicole’s uniform. “N. Haught! You and your family will burn in hell with all the other pigs! You and all the other pigs!” She goes for Gibbs this time, knife raised.

 

Gibbs moves to pull the trigger, but his gun jams and he has nowhere to go. He is cornered.

 

The woman is about a foot away from him when two gunshots fire. The woman crumples to the ground and blood starts to escape her lifeless body. Gibbs stands there, staring in shock at the woman and then up at Nicole.

 

Nicole stands there, gun still drawn in the direction she fired. She, after a moment of hesitation, moves to the woman’s body and crouches. She checks for a pulse, but finds it is nonexistent. She stands and looks to Gibbs, who still hasn’t moved.

 

“Are you okay?” She asks, not knowing if the woman actually got to him before she shot her.

 

Gibbs pauses, but eventually nods his head.

 

They exit the building and walk to the humvee.

 

“You guys okay?” Riley asks when they reach them.

 

Gibbs nods and looks at Nicole.

 

“Search the house. We cleared it but didn’t check for any intel.” Nicole says, emotionless. She is working and is numb. She just wants to feel more numb.

 

Riley and Liz nod and head to the house, entering and searching it.

 

“Captain. Your injured.” Green says.

 

Nicole doesn’t respond.

 

After checking over Gibbs, Mike sits Nicole down on the back of the humvee and begins to treat her wound.

 

“Dallas? Are you okay?” He asks, making sure no one else is around to hear the conversation.

 

“I’m fine.” She says, no emotion showing through.

 

“Okay, well you know the drill. This is going to hurt. We don’t have any more topical anesthetic, so I have to do this without you numbed.” Mike says regretfully.

 

Nicole nods and Mike begins cleaning and then stitching the wound as best he can in the field conditions.

 

“Does that hurt?” He asks after he starts stitching up her arm and notices how she isn't reacting to the pain.

 

“No.”

 

He looks at her quizzically. “What?”

 

“I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel the pain.” Nicole says, finally meets Mike’s concerned gaze.

 

“Dallas…”

 

“It’s easier for me this way. I need to be strong out here. I can’t fall apart, not now, not ever.” Nicole pauses as Mike finishes his last stitch. He looks at her and she continues. “The numbness is the only thing that saves me. I lost it a moment ago in that house. I let my anger and emotions compromise my position and it almost got me and Gibbs killed. The numbness blocks everything, the good and the bad. I can’t think about the emotions. I can’t think about my family back home or the future I may never have with them. I can’t think about all the heartbreaks that these people feel as they watch their mothers, their father, their children get murdered in front to them. I can’t have those emotions right now Mike. I can’t feel anything. I can’t. So please don’t try and make me.”

 

Mike nods sadly and helps Nicole off the humvee.

 

“Baby! Nic! Nicole!” Waverly shouts, shaking Nicole. “Wake up Nicole! It’s just a nightmare! It’s just a dream!”

 

The water fades and reality starts to come in clearer. But with it, the emotions come like a tsunami. Nicole breaks, violent sobs and choking sounds leaving her as she struggles to breathe. Waverly gathers her close and hugs her tightly.

 

She cries too as she says, “Baby! Nicole I- I don’t know what to do…?”

 

Nicole clutches to Waverly tightly and Waverly does the same. She is panicking and doesn’t know what Nicole needs. She doesn’t know how to help and she doesn’t want to make it worse.

 

They stay that way for almost an hour before the lack of proper oxygen causes Nicole to pass out. Waverly stills hold her close, sniffling with dried tears marks streaming down her face.

Chapter Text

"Hero of War" By: Rise Against

 

He said "Son
Have you seen the world?
Well what would you say
If I said that you could?
Just carry this gun
You'll even get paid"
I said, "That sounds pretty good"
Black leather boots
Spit-shined so bright
They cut off my hair
But it looks alright
We marched and we sang
We all became friends
As we learned how to fight

 

A hero of war
Yeah, that's what I'll be
And when I come home
They'll be damn proud of me
I'll carry this flag
To the grave if I must
Cause it's a flag that I love
And a flag that I trust

 

I kicked in the door
I yelled my commands
The children, they cried
But I got my man
We took him away
A bag over his face
From his family and his friends
They took off his clothes
They pissed in his hands
I told them to stop
But then I joined in
We beat him with guns
And batons not just once
But again and again

 

A hero of war
Yeah, that's what I'll be
And when I come home
They'll be damn proud of me
I'll carry this flag
To the grave if I must
Cause it's a flag that I love
And a flag that I trust

 

She walked
Through bullets and haze
I asked her to stop
I begged her to stay
But she pressed on
So I lifted my gun
And I fired away
And the shells jumped trough the smoke
And into the sand
That the blood now had soaked
She collapsed with a flag in her hand
A flag white as snow

 

A hero of war
Is that what they see?
Just medals and scars
So damn proud of me
And I brought home that flag
Now it gathers dust
But it's a flag that I love
It's the only flag I trust

 

He said "Son
Have you seen the world?
Well what would you say
If I said that you could?"

 

Chapter Text

Waverly wakes up the next morning and walks downstairs after finding the other half of the bed empty. She is quiet in her descent and stays that way as she approaches soft voices coming from the porch. She gets to the door but doesn’t walk outside, instead standing to listen for a moment.

 

“Why wouldn’t he have told you that was the purpose for him asking you to meet him?” Wynonna asks, annoyed and a little angry (although her voice is soft).

 

“That’s the protocol. They don’t want to give you the chance to over think things (or change your story, if you are being reviewed for dishonorable conduct).” Nicole says, voice a little cracked from the screaming last night.

 

“And…” Wynonna asks.

 

“The process is… simple in a lot of ways. They start by asking you basic information about y