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Fire and Glass Tile

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Waverly Earp was not having the best day.

As evidenced by the fire trucks parked in front of the homestead that she had moved back into all of 14 hours ago.

Her sister, Wynnona, had blazed back into town a week ago after being gone for more than 6 years. She had returned to attend their Uncle's funeral and much to Waverly's surprise she announced she was sticking around. Sticking around meant finding a place to live and the two woman decided it was time to go back to the homestead where they grew up and try and salvage a piece of their history.

Waverly had been living in a small apartment above Shorty's where she bartended for the last three years and was actually excited to try and make the old house liveable again. Excited enough to plug in the coffee maker this morning to brew a pot before the two women started the clean up without thinking twice about it.

When she smelled smoke moments later she realized that perhaps they should have had someone check on the electrical wiring before they started using it. The homestead had sat empty for over ten years and as she watched the firemen work she realized she really, really should have known better.

At least the scenery was good. She sighed and pulled the jacket one of the firemen had thrown over her shoulders when they escorted her outside a little tighter around her. She wasn't usually one to objectify people, but when it was 16 Degrees out and there were more than a dozen firemen stalking around the homestead she couldn't help but take in the view.

One view in particular--tall, slim, and ginger kept catching her eye. The same fireman who had slipped their jacket off for her seemed to be the one in charge and was directing the others. In all the excitement when they first arrived she hadn't paid much attention to the person, only that she felt safe with the strong arms guiding her, a peak at short, flaming red hair poking out of the bottom of the fireman's helmet, and a sudden realization that slim hips apparently did it for her.

She knew she should be more worried about the damage the kitchen had suffered with the fire, but the place needed such an overhaul anyway she couldn't muster up any emotion over it. Wynnona seemed to be of the same mind because she had already cornered a fireman and was definitely in flirt mode.

"Miss?"

Waverly shook herself out of her musings and focused on the red head walking towards her. Jacketless and walking straight towards her Waverly noticed a single detail about the person that she was definitely, definitely filing away under "things to think about way, way later."

Boobs.

Tall, slim, and ginger was a woman. Apparently not only did slim hips catch her attention, but also a very nice set of C-cups did it for her too.

"Y-Yes?" Waverly replied as the woman came to a stop in front of her. Waverly took in the tight, black quarter zip thermal, pulled taunt across the woman's chest. Suspender's hanging from her waist, no longer holding up the weight of the fire pants sitting low on the woman's hips.

"My guys were able to get the fire under control fairly quickly so the only room that had any damage was the kitchen. It's lucky we were all heading out this way for a drill when the call came through. Could have been worse." The woman smiled, her eyes crinkling ever so slightly. "I'm Captain Haught by the way."

Waverly took the hand offered and shook it firmly, admiring how soft the hand in hers was.

"Captain Haught? Is that like some kind of fireman humor?" Waverly laughed, the whole situation just a little too surreal for her. And she needed to say something to keep her eyes from wandering anymore.

"No ma'am. It's against policy to make jokes on scene. You can just call me Nicole if you don't want to call me hot." The woman smiled again and Waverly thought that maybe it was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen. She quickly filed that away as well and tried to get her focus back on the conversation.

"What's the verdict?" Wynnona asked, interrupting the moment. "Livable?"

"That kitchen is going to take some major re-work before it's usable." She turned her focus to Wynnona who had finally pried herself away from flirting with the crew. "And yeah, livable, but I wouldn't suggest using electricity until you have it overhauled. I do construction on the side if you're interested in getting some bids."

The Captain pulled a business card out for each of them and handed them over. Waverly could have sworn she saw her throw a wink her way, but surely that wasn't the case.

"I have a boyfriend!" Waverly blurted out.

She received two amused looks from both women.

"Okay...and he does construction work?" Captain Haught asked lightly, not totally understanding the outburst.

"Hell no he doesn't, he can barely read at a forth grade level. I like you Haught, you're hired. Clearly Waves and I can't be trusted with this project on our own." Wynnona ignored the glare she was receiving from her sister and slung her arm around her shoulders pulling her close.

"Are you sure? Just like that?"

"Yeah, it's either you or that shit ticket BoBo Del Rey and I'm not about to let him anywhere near the homestead." Wynnona chanced a glance at her sister and she received a quick nod of agreement. "How about you just meet up with us tonight at Shorty's and we can get a game plan? I'll be drinking and my little sister here will be serving."

"Sounds good. My shift ends around 7:00. I guess I'll be seeing you later." She meant both of them, but her eyes never left Waverly's.

After an awkward pause Nicole leaned in close to Waverly, "I kinda need my jacket back. Chief frowns on handing out souvenirs."

Waverly blushed, either from the breath tickling her ear or the embarrassment of not thinking to give the jacket back. "Thank you..." She glanced down for a moment fingering the name patch on the jacket before throwing caution to the wind, "Haught."

The quick, bright smile she received was worth all the embarrassment and she found herself excited at the turn her life had made in one single morning. She didn't know what it meant, but she knew it felt good.

++++++++

Nicole wiped her hands on her jeans one last time before opening the door to Shorty's. There was a small part of her that wished she didn't understand why she was so nervous, but she wouldn't trade that knowledge for the excitement coursing through her. She was finally (hopefully) going to be able to have a conversation with Waverly Earp.

She had first noticed her about a month ago when she relented and came by after her shift to have a few drinks with the crew. After 6 months in Purgatory she felt like she had solidified her position enough to loosen the reins just a little. She had watched as the woman lifted a keg into place behind the bar by herself and she couldn't take her eyes off of her--or her arms.

Always the useless lesbian though, Nicole had never approached her that night and had tucked away the memory. She spent the past month gleaning any bits of information she could about the bartender from the firehouse without raising too much suspicion. Most of the talk was positive, unless the boyfriend--one Champ Hardy was mentioned. Nicole knew that a crush on a straight girl was a curse in its self, but after catching more than one appreciative glance this morning at the homestead she thought that maybe there was more to Miss Earp than met the eye.

She was determined to get to know the woman better, regardless. She felt a pull towards her, like they were meant to mean something to each other. She liked to think that if she saw something she liked she went after it, but more importantly she knew how fragile life could be and she wasn't one to let opportunities pass her by.

And if there was a little flirting involved? Well, that was just an added bonus.

"Hey Haught stuff!" Wynnona yelled from the bar as soon as Nicole pushed herself through the door.

Nicole rolled her eyes, she had heard every hot joke in the book, but she knew without a doubt Wynnona was going to make that one stick.

"Hey, Wynnona." Nicole looked past Wynnona and saw Waverly watching her. "Hey Waverly." She smiled, hoping that it came across friendly and didn't show her nervousness. She was just here to talk about a side job, nothing life changing happening here.

"So, are we drinking to drown our sorrows or more of a celebration? I gotta think that anything I do to that kitchen is going to be an improvement so..." She slid onto the stool beside Wynnona and took a drink of the beer Waverly slid in front of her. Surprised that it was her favorite she couldn't help the shocked look she shot Waverly.

Waverly shrugged, "I'm good with remembering what people order." Embarrassed she turned and resumed her duties, leaving Nicole with a perplexed look. She had more than one follow up question but quickly decided to drop it.

"Whenever I drink it's a celebration, Haught." She clinked their bottles together and it was apparent that Nicole was several behind Wynnona.

"I'm down for that. Do we need to talk business before you celebrate any more though?" Nicole smirked, she knew that there was no way there was going to be much planning done tonight but she was content to just sit back and enjoy a couple of drinks with good company.

"How about you just start on your next few days off and we can get down to the details later? Money isn't really an issue and I'm sure Waverly is going to have some very strong design opinions."

"So it might be better I just talk to her about all of this?" Nicole's eyes slid across the bar finding Waverly on instinct.

When she looked back at Wynnona she was giving Nicole a look that she couldn't quite decipher. Or one she didn't want to. There was more going on behind the bluster the woman fronted with and she was sure that maybe her secret wasn't quite as hidden as she thought. "That", Wynnona tipped her beer towards the woman, "Nicole Haught is an excellent idea. You and my sister really should start spending some quality time together."

Wynnona quickly returned to her drink and Nicole groaned internally. She knew this spelled trouble, but there was no way she was correcting course now. If Waverly's sister was going to be captain of the ship who was she to argue?

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Waves? Where are you?" Wynnona yelled as she came in the front of the homestead.

"I'm right here." Waverly whispered from behind Wynnona, laughing when the brunette jumped.

"Jesus! Don't don't do that to me. You almost made me drop these delicious donuts..." Wynnona waved the box in front of her sister's face.

Waverly held up her own box of donuts and sighed. "I brought donuts for us. This is way too many."

"Well let's just hope that Haughtstuff is a donut lover and that she's cool with eating them for lunch too." Wynnona bumped her sister's hip as she walked in. She looked around before setting the box down on the old coffee table that she was definitely throwing out the first chance she got.

"You guys were so chummy last night I'm surprised you don't already know if she's a donut lover." Waverly regretted how much bite her words had the second it left her mouth, but seeing Wynnona and Nicole hit it off so easily the previous night left her feeling...unsettled.

Wynnona narrowed her eyes before turning her attention to the box of donuts. She looked over the choices and pulled out one with rainbow sprinkles. "Don't worry sis, I'm not going to steal your new potential bestie. You and Captain Haught are going to have plenty of time to get to know each other next week when you're working out here without me. Donut?" She held the sprinkled donut out to her sister with the biggest shit-eating grin she could muster.

Waverly was confused. Her sister was definitely teasing her but she didn't know why. She tried to end the conversation by taking a huge bite, but Wynnona didn't seem willing to move onto another subject. "Why do you have to leave the first week we'll really be working again?"

"I have that mark I'm tracking and he should be in the Boulder area. It's only 4 hours away but until I catch him I'll need to stay down there. Life of a bounty hunter." She shrugged before taking a huge bite of her own donut.

She polished off the chocolate frosted piece of heaven and wiped her hands on her pants. When Waverly wrinkled her nose she laughed. "Waves, by the end of the day my frosting pants are gonna be the least of our concerns. This whole place is filthy. Did Nicole say what time that dumpster's going to be here?"

"No, just that it would be here sometime this morning. I wanted to get out here and get a few things cleaned up before she got here."

"She saw the place on fire. I think we're good on first impressions." Wynnona paused, knowing that her sister was much more sensitive than herself and she didn't do sensitive chats very well. "Baby girl? You know I'm just teasing you about Nicole because that's what I do? I know we just met her but I really do think it would be good for you to make a friend like her. Accomplished, career driven, not from around here..."

Waverly stared at her sister. She was trying. They had kept in touch as best they could over the years while Wynnona was gone and they were still as close as ever, but it seemed that her sister was genuinely trying to be a positive part of her life again. She sighed and then decided that if she was going to talk to anyone about what she was feeling it was going to be her sister.

"Have you ever met someone and was instantly drawn to them? Maybe it's that everyone else in this town I've known all my life and she just seems new and shiny." She flopped down on the covered couch and threw her arm over her face.

Wynnona chose her words wisely. She knew that even if Waverly hadn't figured out what was going on yet she had and whatever she said next was going to be key for Waverly sometime in the future. "I haven't Waves, but I am so happy you have. It's rare and I think you should explore it. In whatever way you want to." She hope her words were cryptic enough to make more sense later when Waverly was more open to being attracted to--not just drawn to--one Nicole Haught.

++++++++


Less than an hour later someone was knocking on the front door. Waverly had disappeared upstairs awhile ago so Wynnona answered.

"Hey Haught sauce!" She wrinkled her nose and continued before Nicole could say anything. "Nope, I heard it. I don't like that one." She shook her head and turned back into the house. Nicole stood in the doorway a few beats before realizing that there wasn't going to be anymore of an invitation in.

"Sorry about my sister. She has no manners." Waverly spoke, stopping about halfway down the staircase. For once she was looking directly into the taller woman's eyes and she couldn't seem to tear her gaze away.

"It's fine. I work around guys all the time so..." Nicole trailed off, the moment between them palpable. There was something about being eye to eye with someone that made you feel like you could touch their soul.

Wynnona startled them both out of it moments later when she lumbered back into the living room. "Since Haught is out here with you now Waves I'm going to go into town and get some wood for the fireplace. It's freezing balls in here. Try not to burn the place down today!" She called as she left.

Waverly continued to stand on the stairs, unsure of what to do with herself alone with Nicole. "Is a fire safe? I mean I know we can't turn the heat on until the electrical is fixed but..."

Nicole smiled, "Uh, fire is kind of my thing. I think I can ensure your safety." She rested her hands on her tool belt she'd thrown on this morning. She wasn't sure she'd actually be needing it yet, but she thought it really completed the handyman look. And maybe give something to catch Waverly's eye.

Waverly blushed, realizing she was worried about starting a fire with an actual firefighter present. "You'll check it all out?"

"Of course. I can do that while my electrician buddy is working over the wiring. I would love to say I can do it all but I wanted to make sure this place was liveable as soon as possible for you guys. You're not staying out here right now are you? I know I said you could but..."

"No, I'm back at my apartment above Shorty's and Wynnona...well I don't ask a lot of questions about where she spends her nights." Her eyes twinkled, part of Wynnona's charm was her mystery.

Nicole laughed and Waverly's stomach flipped. She wanted to hear that sound again and again. "I could see why you don't ask too many questions, your sister seems like a wild one. It's probably better that you don't know everything."

Waverly finally tore herself away and walked down the last few steps and headed over to the fireplace. "Definitely better."

Nicole followed her over and gave the fireplace a once over. "Do you know when the last time this was used?"

"More than ten years, once the central heat was installed we hardly ever bothered." She looked over at Nicole and was amazed at how quickly she went into work mode. She could see her looking and analyzing and Waverly had to stop herself from asking a million questions. She loved knowing things. It was the reason she never gave up on getting her degree, even when she had to do it remotely.

Nicole saw Waverly watching her out of the corner of her eye. "You can ask questions, it won't bother me." She smirked, knowing what she was probably opening herself up to.

Waverly squealed. An actual, honest to god squeal. Nicole turned her head and blinked a few times. She'd never had that kind of reaction from offering to talk about what she loved. Waverly smiled at her and reached out grasping her arm and suddenly Nicole forgot all about the noise and the fireplace and all she could think about was the small, soft hand wrapped around her bicep.

"Are you sure? Because I can ask a lot of questions and I don't want to annoy you or slow you down or anything..."

Waverly was looking at Nicole with such awe she knew in that moment she was never going to be able to deny the woman anything. "Of course. I love being able to share what I know with people. It's even more fun when I get reactions like that." She smiled and patted the hand still grasping her arm. Then she mentally patted herself on the back for such a smooth answer and decided that she could do this. She was disappointed moments later when the hand dropped away, but when Waverly shivered she remembered she had a job to do.

"So what I'm doing is a level one inspection. There's three levels--level two is if you were selling the house, level three is if we were doing any kind of construction work on the chimney. The main thing is looking at the structure, making sure there aren't any obstructions inside the chimney, and making sure the flue damper is in working order. That's the part that let's you control how much air flows up the chimney, it should be adjustable so that you can make sure your fire is burning efficiently. It also prevents heat from escaping up the chimney when the fireplace isn't being used."

When Waverly just stared at her she shuffled her feet a little nervous, she could go on for hours about fire science and she knew that most people found it boring. "Too much?"

"No, no not at all." Waverly was waving her hands around for emphasis. "I just have so many questions and most people think that all the history stuff I talk about is boring so I understand but..." Waverly paused, hoping her next question wouldn't offend Nicole. "Are you a nerd too?" She whispered it, but her eyes were twinkling.

"Am I still considered a nerd when I get to wear all the firefighter's gear?"

"Well...I definitely wasn't thinking nerd the other day..." After she realized what she said she panicked. Can you accidentally flirt with someone? Maybe it wasn't so accidental though. Shit.

Nicole could see Waverly's panic. She chose not to comment but it was nice to know that Waverly had noticed her. God, she was in trouble.

"Well, so it looks like everything is still in good shape. I'm just going to go out and climb on the roof to check the top, make sure no birds decided it was a great place to make a nest." She decided it was best to focus back on what she was there to do and stop them from backsliding any further. Mostly for her own sanity. She could flirt with the best of them, but she knew this situation was different.

Waverly was grateful for the change of subject. "Please be careful."

"Don't worry, I'll tie myself off. And it will be a good opportunity to see what kind of shape the roof is in too. You sticking around? I won't go up there unless I have a watch out." She smiled, what she hoped was a friendly look. It was hard not to melt into heart eyes front of the girl.

"Yeah, Champ's coming out to pick me up for lunch before my shift but I still have a few hours."

Right. The boyfriend. Good reality check. "That sounds nice."

Waverly made a face that looked like the opposite of nice.

"Maybe not so much?" Nicole said gently.

"I know he's trying, but I am pretty sure he's just going to take me to Shorty's and then just use it as an excuse to start drinking early." Waverly wasn't sure why she was sharing all this with Nicole but her frustrations with Champ had been bubbling over for weeks. Probably longer if she was honest with herself.

"Have you talked to him?" Nicole felt like she was navigating a mine field. On the one hand her brain was screaming that this woman deserved better, but the other part reminded her that she had only known her for less than 24 hours. She didn't have all the facts, she didn't know this Champ guy, and she didn't want to overstep because she wanted Waverly to feel comfortable talking to her.

When Waverly laughed, without a single bit of humor, Nicole felt like maybe she'd said the wrong thing. Her face must have showed that because Waverly reached out and grasped her arm again. "I...it's a good question, but trying to talk to Champ about anything is like trying to talk to a brick wall."

Nicole frowned. And before she could think about what she was really saying her mouth was moving, "You deserve someone that listens to you and cares about what you're feeling."

Waverly felt herself falling into Nicole's gaze again. No one had ever been so brutally honest when she had talked about her relationship. Sometimes it felt like the whole town was on Team Champ and she was the crazy one for wishing for more. "Thank you. You're right. Maybe I'll try to talk to him." She gave Nicole's arm a squeeze, mentally admiring how strong the woman was, and dropped her hand. "I guess we better get you up on the roof."

Nicole felt the shift in the air and knew their heart to heart was over. "Yes ma'am." Nicole smiled, and mock saluted the smaller woman before heading outside

Chapter Text


Nicole stared up at the ceiling. Fourteen more hours to go and she wouldn't have to look at the white walls of her bunk room for five entire days. Not that she was counting down or that it had been absolutely without a doubt the most boring, frustrating shift she'd ever been on. If she was trying to be positive--fourten hours left out of a 48 hour shift didn't feel nearly as bad as when she'd counted down from 42, 33, and for some reason a particularly rough hour 19.

She typically worked 24 on/48 off, but with the work ramping up at the Earp homestead she switched so that she could get a solid week off to get things really moving. She was slightly concerned that Wynnona was going to be gone this week and she was going to have to be less of a train wreck in front of Waverly since someone wouldn't be popping in interrupting literally everything and anything. She was excited though and it wasn't often she got a chance to meet new people she actually wanted to be around for an extended amount of time.

At least she was excited, until Hour 17 of her shift and the gossip hounds she worked with informed her the latest town gossip was Champ and Waverly had broken up, Champ went on a bender, and was now sitting in lock up for drunk and disorderly.

She then spent Hours 18-26 debating over texting Waverly something supportive or if that was crossing some sort of we-literally-just-met-so-we-aren't-that-close-yet line. She had the woman's number because Waverly insisted they exchange them "in case I have to send you pretty pictures from Pinterest." Hour 27 rehashed that conversation and all the eye contact and eye-lash batting that occurred. Hour 28 was then filled with prayers that some sort of call would come through to get her out of the firehouse before she completely lost her mind. (Even though she maybe already had.)

Finally deciding she couldn't say anything without sounding like an asshole or a gossip she gave that idea up and opted for another round of yoga and thinking up a way to redesign the kitchen to fit a washer/dyer for Waverly.

She wasn't certain it was on purpose or subconsciously but every single picture Waverly had sent her included something of the sort. She knew it would make Waverly happy and that's really all that mattered.

Simple as that.

She was already, definitely, with out a doubt a goner over Waverly Earp.

+++++++++

"I didn't shoot at him." Waverly said after an awkward, silence-filled 20 minutes.

Nicole had tried. She really had, since she had set foot on the homestead that morning her brain kept screaming about the breakup but her mouth wasn't about to let her say anything stupid. So nothing came out. Apparently, though, there had been staring.

"You've been staring at me and side-eyeing me since you got here so I can only assume you heard the rumors and now you're terrified of me." Waverly had her arms crossed and was leaning back against the wall, eyes daring Nicole to tell her she was wrong.

Terrified? Yes. For that particular reason? Nope. "I...uh...I heard that maybe you broke up? I didn't want to say anything because I didn't think it was my place so...awkward silence seemed to be the way to go?"

Waverly took pity on her and suddenly she wasn't quite so aggressively leaning. And yes, Nicole thought, that was exactly what the tiny 5"2 woman had been doing.

"We did break up. And I did threaten to shoot him if he didn't leave the bar, but I didn't really. I assume the gossip squad at the station told you?"

"Not that part. If it helps everything I heard was positive." Nicole realized how that sounded and tried to take it back. "I mean...people just...that sounded bad. Can we go back to awkward silence?"

Waverly laughed, a true laugh that sounded happy and unforced. "No Nicole we can't. I'm very stubborn and I will continue to make you talk to me. And tell me all the positive things you heard about my breakup."

"Um..."

Waverly didn't jump in to save her. She just stood against the wall, watching and waiting patiently for Nicole to say something intelligible.

"Ok, I actually do want to talk to you...and you know you can talk to me too...I want to be..." Nicole trailed off, she was about to use the word friend but that didn't seem like the right thing to say. Or the thing that Nicole really wanted. "I want to be somebody for you."

Waverly's eyebrows jumped up and she stared at this woman standing in her kitchen looking at her so intently, so aware of Waverly and so confident. She couldn't believe Nicole was able to be so honest. How had a teasing conversation taken such a turn? Her heart was fluttering and her stomach was jumping and she was fighting the urge to run out of the house and away from all the feelings. She also wanted to throw herself at the red head and see how it felt to have those arms wrapped around her. That thought stopped her mind racing. She was going to have to sort through some of whatever was happening and whatever she was feeling sooner than later.

She must have been silent for a few beats too long, because Nicole looked like she was getting ready to backpedal the conversation, or bolt. Waverly shook her head, reading her mind and stopping her before she spoke again.

"You're so brave." Waverly whispered. Unlike their last conversation, Waverly wanted to acknowledge how much Nicole's words meant to her and meet whatever was happening head on instead of sidestepping the conversation.

"I don't feel particularly brave right now..." Nicole trailed off. She hadn't meant the comment to sound so much like a pledge, but it was. And she knew that deep down, even though Waverly was just getting to know her she would know that too.

"But you are. I think that maybe you always are."

"Not always, but I think that being honest is important."

"I think you’re going to be good for me Haught. I need a little more of that in my life. I just...I'm getting somewhere I think? If that makes sense? I need time though..." Waverly trailed off and prayed that Nicole understood what she was saying. Hell, she wasn't totally sure what she just said but this woman seemed to have her figured out so maybe she could help them both along.

Nicole just nodded, she didn't totally understand what Waverly was asking or saying but she understood enough. "I hear you." Nicole smirked a little and rested her hands on her tool belt, it was time for a change of subject. "I know this whole share our feelings on the homestead is kinda our thing now, but do you want to see how I figured out how to work a washer and dryer in here for you?"

Nicole suddenly found herself wrapped up in Waverly's arms. The tiny woman had launched herself at Nicole and had practically climbed her like a tree. She quickly shut down that train of thought and just enjoyed the happiness radiating off the woman.

"I think maybe your excited?" Nicole asked, laughing at Waverly's enthusiasm and adding a few pats of her back before she let go.

"Excited doesn't even begin to explain my feelings on having my own washer and dryer. I was hoping my Pinterest hints weren't too subtle."

"Subtle like a freight train Waverly. I may be dense sometimes, but you are a force to be reckoned with."

"Well let's see these plans miracle worker of mine." Waverly smiled at Nicole and she felt the whole world fall away for a few moments. The word mine rattled around Nicole's head and she let it settle down in her heart, warming her from the inside.

Chapter Text


Nicole jumped when her phone quacking broke the silence in her bunk room. Waverly had changed all of her alert tones one day last week when she'd had her head under the sink working on the plumbing. She didn't want to change a single one of them.

Silly? Yes.

Overly sentimental? Definitely.

But if Waverly wanted her phone to quack like a duck when it rang she wasn't about change it. She'd just find a way someday to retaliate.

Her shift was nearing the end and she'd broke away from the guys to get her things together and take a few minutes by herself. She loved being a part of the team, but being a captain and having her own private area to retreat to was pretty great too. She picked up the phone and glanced at the caller ID--scrambling to answer before it went to voicemail.

"Hello?"

"Hi. It's...um...it's Waverly. Hi."

Nicole was incredibly glad it wasn't a FaceTime call, her own face beat red, her stomach twisted in knots and she was barely containing a squeal. Waverly Earp called her. Not a text, not a Snapchat--she was actually calling to talk to her.

"Yeah, um...I saw it was you. Hi." Nicole rolled her eyes. She needed to control the awkward for both of them. "What's up?" She rolled her eyes again because seriously she knew she could do better. What was it about this woman?

"I was wondering what you were doing tonight?" Waverly finally asked after a pregnant pause. She had been working herself up to calling all day and she knew that Nicole's shift was ending soon so she'd finally pushed herself into dialing.

"Oh, nothing planned. I was just going to head home. Did you need something fixed?" Nicole was a little disappointed at that thought, but she was still glad Waverly had called.

Waverly paused again, unprepared for that offer and it threw her off the script she'd practiced all afternoon in her head. "No, I actually was...um...doyouwanttograbdinner?

"Huh?"

"Do you want to grab dinner? With me."

"Yes!" Nicole cringed a little at her own over-enthusiasm. They had a shared a few meals over the past couple of weeks when she was out working at the homestead but this felt decidedly different. Planned, not just convenient. "I mean yeah sure that sounds good. What did you have in mind?"

Waverly wanted to avoid Shorty's. She already spent enough time there working and she wasn't sure she was ready to share her Nicole-time with the public. "I thought I would cook. Like, maybe at your place? Since I don't have a kitchen yet...I'm not like inviting myself over but I thought that--"

"Waverly?" Nicole stopped Waverly's rambling before this conversation dissolved any further. She was a grown-ass lesbian. She could talk to a beautiful woman on the phone without dissolving into a pile of incoherent mush.

"Yeah?"

"That sounds great. And I am well aware of your kitchen situation so don't--" Nicole was cut off by the sirens blaring, signaling a call out. "Damn it! I..um..I gotta go, but I'll call you later? When I'm done?"

"Totally, yeah...go. I get it. Be safe." Waverly ended the call and laid her head on the bar. She did it, but she was drained from the build up and anticipation and adrenaline rush of actually talking to Nicole. And she still didn't know if they were going to be having dinner.

Groaning, she thunked her forehead on the bar a few times for good measure. She was going to have to get better at this if she was going to try and pursue Nicole. Hopefully once the red head was aware of the direction she wanted to go she would help her along.

Waverly picked her head up when she heard someone plop down on the barstool beside her.

"Whatcha doing?" Wynnona asked, clearly amused by her sisters theatrics.

Waverly laughed. "I wish I knew. You just get back?"

"Yep." She slung her arm around Waverly and pulled her close. "I've spent the last eight days sitting in a car staring at houses and bars so tell your dear old sister everything I missed while I was gone. I need entertained." She kissed the top of Waverly's head before letting go of her.

Wynnona had heard enough of the conversation to know she had been talking to Nicole so she hoped there had been some kind of developement while she had been gone.

Waverly laughed. Where did she even start? "Broke up with Champ--"

"Thank fucking god." Wynnona mumbled under her breath, but the look Waverly shot her told her she didn't mumble quietly enough. She just shrugged the look off. Waverly knew her thoughts on that particular subject.

"Anyway," Waverly continued to glare at her sister. "Broke up with Champ, helped Nicole out at the homestead and I might be gay?"

Wynnona side-eyed her and reached over to grab a sip of Waverly's ice cold beer. "I have a couple of questions before we get to that last part..." Smiling, she watched the surprise flash in Waverly's eyes. She flagged down Gus and pointed at her sister's drink, knowing that they might be there awhile. "Can you tell me why you finally broke up with Champ?"

Waverly sighed. She knew how it looked. Someone new turned her head and she dumps her on again-off-again boyfriend of 4 years. The truth was though, she had been thinking about it for months, maybe longer about whether or not staying with him was the right thing to do, knowing she didn't truly love him. "It didn't feel right anymore. It never really, did though--you know? But I let myself settle for far too long."

"It wasn't just because maybe you were feeling something for someone else?" Wynnona didn't want her to get back with Champ by any means but she wanted to make sure Waverly wasn't making a leap for the wrong reasons.

Waverly looked off across the bar--not looking or seeing anything in particular--thinking over her answer. She knew it was a valid question. And she knew it would be good to get some of the noise out of her head before she talked to Nicole. "Do you remember when I asked you about being drawn to someone, like...instantly?"

Wynnona saw the struggle Waverly was going through and she reached out squeezing her shoulder a few times before nodding her head, letting Waverly keep the conversation going.

"In a way I think it was because I was feeling something for someone else. And if Champ was it for me I shouldn't. But I think that actually realizing that only solidified a decision I'd already come to before I'd ever even met her."

"Captain Haughty-McHotpants?" Wynnona flashed a wide, crazy smile at her sister. The slap to her shoulder was well deserved.

"You can't call her that." Waverly felt relieved, it wasn't that she didn't want to talk about this new thing with her sister--she just didn't know how it was going to feel saying it out loud.

Turns out it felt pretty awesome.

"But yeah--she's...she's pretty great? That doesn't quite seem like the right word, but when I'm around her she makes me feel centered, more like me then I ever have."

"So...."

"What?"

"What's it like?"

"What's what like?" Waverly knew what her sister wanted to know, but it was fun to string her along. She let her hang a few extra moments before answering. "There's no what yet. I...we really just worked at the homestead this week, ate a couple of times together, but I feel something, you know? That was actually her on the phone--I finally got the courage up to ask her to dinner. I was hoping to talk to her about things."

"I'm proud of you baby girl. You've always been so sure of yourself, confident. I mean I'm still teasing the shit out of both of you but..."

"There might not be any us to tease. She might not be interested or with somebody or...well a lot of things. But I'm going to try at least." Waverly started to feel the anxiety seep back in that she'd been battling all week when she thought about feeling so much, so quickly--only to get turned down.

"Trust me--she'd be crazy not to want you back. When are you going to meet up?" Wynnona couldn't wait to see how this progressed with her sister.

"I don't know, the fire alarms started going off before we got that far. She was still on shift." Waverly frowned, worry overcoming all her other senses.

Wynnona felt the change in her sister and she reached out, squeezing her arm to try and comfort her. "It's her job--she'll be fine. I'm sure of it. But if it makes you feel better I'll listen in to the scanner and let you know when they call off?"

"Thanks, Wy. I'm going to go ahead and head up to my room and get ready just in case she gets done in time. Should I dress for a date-date or just hot/comfortable?"

"Date-date. Dress for the job you want right?"

"Damn right." Waverly laughed, a weight lifted off her she'd been carrying for far too long. She was going to get the girl.

Somehow.

+++++++

Nicole could see the dark smoke billowing up in the air before they pulled on scene. Engine No. 8 was the first to arrive and she jumped out of the truck, seeking out the Chief.

"What's the size-up sir?" Nicole asked, pulling her mask over her face and checking her tanks.

"Wood construction, 1930's maybe? So the roof won't hold much longer. Three inside, mom and two kids stuck upstairs--all live when the call came in. Fire has them trapped in their room. We need to get the handlines in to protect the stairs so we can get them out." Chief Nedley didn't take his eyes off the fire while he spoke, years of experience telling him there wasn't going to be anything to salvage once they got the civilians out.

"If I can get up there can we swing the bucket up to that window? I can get them out through there and it's opposite the main fire right now." She said, pointing to the window on the far east side of the house, closest to the ladder truck.

"Yep, get in there and see if you can get up to them. Said they were trapped in the room just to the left of the stairs.

Nicole signaled the truck to bring the 13/4 inch hose and she started stretching it towards the house. Doc was in front of her venting the door before they opened it to prevent backdraft. Once he was finished he kicked it open and stepped aside so she could get by with the hose.

Nicole stood inside for a few moments, her eyes adjusting to the darkness before she had Doc signal the truck to start the water pressure. She blasted the stairs and surrounding walls with water before clicking on her radio. "Chief, I'm going up with the hose. Clearing a path as I go. Have Hicks bring another line into Doc so he can keep the stairs clean."

She slowly made her way up the stairs, putting pressure on each step before she placed her full weight on it. She finally made it to the hall and turned left, searching for a door through all the smoke. "Roof vented, sir?"

The radio crackled, "Yes. Clear to open."

She opened the door and clipped the hose off, throwing it back down towards Doc at the foot of the stairs. Turning back to the room she flipped on her headlamp and she could just barely make out three hundled figures in the back corner.

She motioned for the mom to follow and she scooped the smaller child up in her arms, the other locked around his mom's neck. She ushered them out the door, pointing down to keep their heads low and made their way towards the end of the hall.

They reached the room she was looking for and Nicole made her way to the window. She set the small girl down by her mom and checked it over.

Painted shut.

She tugged on it a few times before it finally budged and a rush of clean air blew in. The bucket was already positioned so she helped the mom over the window sill and in first, handing each child over to her carefully. It was smaller, usually only used for a one man spray operation so she made sure they were secure before signaling it was safe to take them down. Checking over her shoulders she could see the flames licking the walls in the hallway directly blocking her path out. Above her she heard the roof groan and creak and she knew she only had moments left before it came crashing down.

She positioned herself on the edge of the window and looked down. 12 foot drop at least. "God, this is going to hurt. Tuck and roll Haught," she thought as she pushed herself off the ledge.

+++++++

Waverly couldn't think. She was drying her hair when Wynnona started pounding on the apartment door and after she heard the words Nicole and hospital everything around her clouded. She could see Wynnona's frowning face, and her lips were moving but she didn't hear anything else. Then she was been bundled into Dolls car--which she tried to make a mental note to ask her sister about later and they were speeding off to Purgatory Medical.

"It's going to be okay baby girl. You'll go in there, you'll see her with your own eyes and then it's going to be fine." Wynnona wasn't sure if her sister was listening to her yet, but she felt like she should keep talking. She'd never seen her sister fold into herself like this, a pure panic engulfing her. The call over the scanner hadn't given much information, but Wynnona had bolted up the back stairs to Waverly's apartment without much thought.

She regretted that now. She could have had Dolls or even Doc call over and get some info before she had terrified Waverly.

"Almost there ladies." Dolls said from the driver's seat. "I'll just drop you up front Waverly. I'm sure they can tell you where to go at the front desk."

"We'll wait for you out here, I doubt Haught would want us all busting into her room at once. Just text if you're gonna stay too long?" Wynnona tugged a little on Waverly's coat sleeve to make sure she was being heard. The grateful smile she received let her know her sister was getting herself back together.

Once Waverly got out of the SUV she told herself to stay positive. The initial shock was wearing off and she didn't want to run in there and start acting like a lunatic. Nicole might have just needed a few stitches, going to the hospital didn't mean life or death.

Usually.

She walked in and approached the front desk, determined to find out what she could.

"Hi, I'm...looking for somebody? Nicole. Nicole Haught." Waverly smiled, hoping that she'd be granted the information without too much hassle.

"Me too."

Waverly jerked her head to the side. She hadn't noticed the taller woman approaching. Damn, she was beautiful. How did one person get to have such a lucky genetic draw? Shaking her head a little she focused back on the nurse.

"And you are?" The nurse asked--Waverly wasn't sure who she was talking to but the dark haired woman spoke before she could think to answer.

"I'm her wife." She handed over what looked like some very official looking papers and the woman behind the desk glanced over them. The mystery woman looked over at Waverly's surprised gasp and winked.

Fucking winked.

"She's in Room 3, just down the hall." The nurse said, turning back to her computer without a second glance to the two women.

"You coming?" The woman asked, one perfectly sculpted eyebrow raised.

Waverly looked her over. She looked like money. And power. And everything Waverly wasn't. The way her blazer hung perfectly across her shoulders and the pants that clung to every curve screamed tailored and if Waverly was a betting women the 4-inch stilettos probably cost more then she'd ever spent on a months rent.

She shook her head no. This was too much emotional whiplash for one day. She took a few steps backwards, somehow unable to take her eyes off the woman.

"You're Waverly right? Nicole told me about you. I'm sure she'd want to see you, tell you she's okay herself?"

Why was Nicole's wife being so nice? But then, of course Nicole would have a nice wife. A nice, beautiful wife.

"I...I shouldn't be here." Waverly finally turned away and managed to keep herself from sprinting back out the front doors to Dolls' waiting SUV. She wiped at the tears she hadn’t been aware of, trailing down her cheeks.

Cursing herself at being so stupid.

Chapter Text

"So. A thing just happened in the hallway." Shae said, as she strolled into Nicole's room.

"What are you doing here? How? I...I...not today. Just go away please." Nicole laid her head on the pillow and closed her eyes.

"A thing with Waverly?" Shae added, knowing it would get a rise out of Nicole.

Nicole's eyes popped back open immediately. "No...Shae...seriously?"

Shae nodded her head.

"Damn it, Shae." Nicole glared at the woman next her.

"I'm sorry! I was trying to be helpful--"

Nicole narrowed her eyes.

"--no I swear. She was at the nurses station asking for you and I took a guess that it was your girl. So I pulled the wife card to get your room number....and it turns out she didn't know about me...like I assumed maybe she would have." Shae at least looked a little contrite at her confession.

"It's pretty egotistical of you to assume that." Nicole smirked.

"I'm pretty sure that's one of the reasons we didn't work out." Shae smiled wide, teeth glaring white under the fluorescent lights.

"Yeah, one of them. And she's not my girl yet." Nicole grumbled as she laid back down and closed her eyes again. "It's been a long day, I''m tired, I'm hurting, and you waltzed in here and scared off...ugh. Could this day get any worse? Don't answer that." She turned her head to look at Shae again. "At least tell me she didn't start crying."

Shae shrugged.

"I swear to god if I wasn't already divorcing you..."

"Ah babe, you love me. It will be totally fine. I'm like the dramatic push in those sappy movies you watch and now you'll get the girl." Shae pulled a chair up next to the hospital bed and pulled a manila folder out of her bag. "Speaking of divorces..." She waved the folder around triumphantly. "I just need two signatures from you and a witness and it will be official."

"We're doing this now?"

"Yes. It's actually why I suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was driving back to Boulder from a conference when Nedley called. I'm still listed as next of kin. Figured this would be easier than mailing everything back and forth."

"Easier until you made Waverly cry you mean?" Nicole grimaced slightly, moving in just the wrong way--pulling at the new stitches.

"Hey--I'm seriously sorry about that. All of our conversations lately have been everything and anything Waverly so I figured with you guys spending that much time together I'd have come up at some point." Shae flicked at the edges of the folder, not looking up at Nicole.

They'd had a fun fling, but ultimately found they made much better friends than lovers. Unfortunately that realization was made after a life-changing Britney Spears concert and a quickie wedding. She was glad to have someone like Nicole in her life--strong, steady--honorable. And she liked to believe her more impulsive nature was good for Nicole too.

But as a couple?

Not so much.

"I think I would have said something about you tonight. She was going to cook for me. I think it was...like maybe going to be a date? Not just hanging out." Nicole picked at her IV tape and squeezed her eyes shut. "Instead I'm in this stupid hospital bed with 7 stitches in my ass. Getting a divorce."

"About that. How exactly--"

"Nail. When I was sliding out a second story window--but I didn't get crushed by the roof collapsing so...." Nicole shrugged. It really could have been worse, but she felt lucky she'd managed to tuck and roll and not break anything when she landed.

Nicole's look told Shae everything. She was done with that topic.

"Okay. Well, let's get a witness and get this done then. I'm glad I have you in my life, but I'm done with this stupid mistake getting in the way of both our lives." She reached out and stopped Nicole from picking, threading their fingers together. "If she's half as amazing as you say she is--she's going to forgive you. I'll help you get the girl, Haught."

Nicole laughed. Marrying a girl she barely knew wasn't her best moment, but she got a great friend out of it. "All I want you to do is be Dr. Shae Pressman, Surgeon Extraordinaire and get me signed out of here tonight. I don't want her hurting any longer then she has to."

"Done."

"Did you at least tell her I was okay?"

"Sort of?"

"Damn it, Shae."

++++++++++++

Silence.

Wynnona checked her phone again. 47 minutes and counting. After Waverly ran out of the hospital, tears streaming down her face and a curt, "Shorty's. Now." There had been only silence.

Except Waverly's phone. The damn thing had been buzzing non-stop for at least the last 23 minutes. Not that Wynnona had been counting or anything but her sister was well on her way to shit-faced and she had no idea why.

"Uh, sis? You want to tell me what happened?" Wynnona finally asked. If she had to go kick Nicole's ass for some reason tonight, she was going to have to cut herself off.

Waverly scowled into her whiskey, before shooting the rest of the glass. "Wife. She has a WIFE!" Waverly slammed the glass back down on the bar.

"Wait, what?" She couldn't have heard that right.

"Yeah, I met her. At the nurse's station. She was all 'I'm the wife' and waving some papers around and then 'Come on Waverly, let's go see Nicole."

"What in the actual--" Wynnona was livid, but her expletive was cut short by Gus.

"Weren't you going over to the girl's place tonight?" Gus asked, knowing she was going to have to be the voice of reason tonight.

"Yeah." Waverly said, still scowling.

"So some lady shows up at the hospital, flashes some papers, knows who you are AND offers to take you back to Nicole? And you run off crying?"

"Yeah." Waverly said, a little more sheepish than the first time.

"Any of that make sense to you girl?" Gus said, weaving some of the tone she used to use with the girls as teenagers into her voice. Worked every time.

"Well no. Of course not. That's why I...oh. Well, shit."

"Did I raise you to run away from problems?"

"No, ma'am."

"And I'm guessing the good Captain's the one who's been making your phone rattle the windows for the last half an hour?" Gus swiped the glass sitting in front of Waverly, ignoring the silent plea for a refill.

"Yes ma'am."

Gus flipped Waverly's phone over, scanning the last few messages.

"Wynnona, get that man of yours hovering over in the corner to drop your stubborn sister off at Nicole's. She's home and begging to talk to this little one." Gus pointed a Waverly, who had the sense to stare down at the bar instead of arguing.

Wynnona leaned over towards Waverly, whispering, "Is this giving you flashbacks to high school?"

"Yes." Waverly hissed. "And we're gonna do the same thing we did then. Do exactly what she says. At least she can't ground us now."

"Wanna bet?" Gus laughed at the matching horrified looks she got from the two woman. Sighing, she leaned closer to Waverly, patting her hand. "That girl is crazy about you. Go talk to her, at least let her explain. Then if we don't like what she says we'll sic your sister on her."

"Thanks Gus. I love you." Waverly felt better already. She was going to get answers, then throw a pity party if she didn't like them.

"Love you girls too. Now get out of here." She snapped her bar towel at them and they both scrambled off their stools.

+++++++

"Waves? You want to come in?"

"I haven't knocked yet." Waverly swayed a little on the porch. She had been standing there for a few minutes trying to decide exactly what to say to Nicole if she answered the door.

"Fancy camera doorbell. Let's me know if somebody is out here." Nicole pointed at it and shrugged. "I was going to give you a little more time, but it's cold out so...would you please come in?"

With Waverly's nod of agreement, Nicole stepped to the side to let her by and then pulled the door shut behind them. She leaned back against it, not wanting to crowd her; she had only taken two steps inside and was clearly entranced with taking in every detail of the space she could.

Nicole was about to ask Waverly if she was okay when the smaller woman spun around. "I had a plan tonight. I'm a planner. This," Waverly waved her arm between the two of them. "This was not how it was supposed to go."

Nicole reached out and steadied Waverly when she started to sway again. "I'm sorry. About...well...about everything tonight. Are you all right?" Waverly was clearly about to fall over, her eyes glassy and slow to focus.

"No. I'm drunk." She gave up trying to be angry or even trying to talk about anything she wanted answers about. Now that she was here standing in front of the woman all she wanted was a hug. Which made her angry all over again, but all she could think about was how good Nicole smelled. "Did you just shower? You smell good."

"Um..." Nicole was having trouble keeping up with exactly what was going on, but when Waverly stepped forward and rested her head on her chest she automatically wrapped her arms around the woman.

"Did you call me Waves? I like it." Waverly's voice was muffled by Nicole's shirt, but Nicole didn't loosen her hold. She felt Waverly's sigh, and the tension seep out of her shoulders so she just held on.

"Good, I'll keep using it then as long as you're still talking to me." Nicole pulled her back a little so she could look down at her face. Waverly nodded her head and Nicole smiled. "Is your ride waiting for you? We can talk tomorrow if you have to go."

"Wynnona and Dolls dropped me off. I told them I would call an Uber after I was done talking to you." The alcohol was making it easier to stay snuggled close to Nicole, even if she knew she should be pulling away.

"Purgatory doesn't have Uber."

"I'm drunk. Like I said--this is not how I planned today." Waverly glared at Nicole and the red head made a note to try her best to never, ever upset the girl again because the look she was on the receiving end of could melt steel. And Waverly still looked beautiful doing it.

She was so very, very screwed.

"Got it. Not planned. So I can take you home I guess?"

"Didn't you just get out of the hospital?" Waverly asked, the fogginess slowly starting to clear.

"Well, yeah." Nicole frowned, she knew what she wanted to ask but she wasn't sure how it was going to sound. "You...you could just stay? Here I mean. I don't want to make you uncomfortable or anything if you don't like that idea...I have a guest room. Where you could sleep."

"Your wife won't mind?" Waverly said, a little more bite to her tone than she had meant to inflect. Maybe she was still a little angry.

"No wife. I'm newly divorced as of..." Nicole glanced at the clock on the mantle, "Two hours ago."

"Well that's one less thing to...sleep would be good." Waverly waited for Nicole to say something, but nothing came. "Do you sleep in pajamas?"

Nicole's eyes widened. "You're really hard to keep up with right now."

"Sorry." Waverly crinkled up her nose. She knew she was all over the place, but she couldn't seem to settle herself. Hopefully things would be clearer in the morning.

Nicole stepped forward and rubbed her hands up and down Waverly's biceps, trying to rub the tension away again. "I don't think it's you. I think the day is catching up with me. I do have pajamas but is there a reason you asked that?" She tipped Waverly's chin up so she could see her eyes.

They were twinkling with amusement, and a half grin plastered on her face. "Yes, Captain Haught. I was going to ask to borrow some--there's no way I'm sleeping in this outfit. Why did you think I was asking?" Waverly batted her eyes and cocked her head to the side, thoroughly enjoying winding the other woman up. She slowly started to unbutton her leopard print coat, showing off the black skintight crop top and red high-waisted skirt.

"Oh god." Nicole groaned. "It was a date."

"Yeah, totes." Waverly smirked.

"Shit. Now I'm super sorry times like...infinity."

"We'll make up for it tomorrow. PJ's?" Waverly shrugged off the apology. She just wanted to get to sleep so they get wake up tomorrow for their re-do.

"On it. Follow me." Nicole said as she started off towards the stairway. "Guest room is upstairs right next to mine...in case you need anything tonight. I'll grab you something to sleep in and show where the bathroom is. Good?"

"All good." Waverly whispered, checking out every inch of Nicole's shapely form as she followed her up the stairs

Chapter Text


Nicole hummed in pleasure and rolled on her side giving the hand snaking up shirt better access.

Fingers splayed across her stomach.

Hips rolled into her ass.

She felt someone nuzzling her hair and then--

Nothing.

"Wha--" Nicole sat up, trying to make sense of the sudden loss of contact. "Um..."

Waverly was standing next to the bed, clutching a blanket to her chest, eyes wide with panic. "Morning?"

"Good morning." Nicole smiled, eyes dancing with amusement. Worse things could happen than finding Waverly Earp in her bed on a Saturday morning. "Get back in here, it's freezing. Just like it was last night when you snuggled up to me." Nicole wiggled her eyebrows and laughed when Waverly rolled her eyes.

"I don't think that's such a great idea. You said you slept in pajamas."

"No, I said I had pajamas. You don't like my boy shorts?"

"You're teasing me." Waverly frowned. She remembered being cold last night--the t-shirt and flannel bottoms not quite keeping her warm. So she went in search of extra blankets.

She found something hotter.

"Only a little. Seriously--get back in here. You can be the little spoon this time, can keep my hands from wandering."

Waverly narrowed her eyes at the red head, but slid back under the covers. "I'm only doing this because it is really cold." She hummed when Nicole slid her arm around her front, pulling her closer--their bodies melding together perfectly. "You're very confident this morning. Yesterday you could barely string a sentence together."

"Well, I woke up with you wrapped around me. I'm flying pretty high right now...but if it's making you uncomfortable I'll stop." Nicole tried to pull her arm away, but Waverly only pulled it tighter to her chest. So Nicole squeezed her other arm underneath, folding around her completely.

"It was just an observation. I like it. Don't be scared around me, okay? I think I need you to be confident..." Waverly's voice trailed off in a whisper. It was easy to confess things wrapped in Nicole's arms like this. Maybe too easy. "Can I tell you something?"

"Always." Nicole kissed the back of Waverly's head, face buried in silky hair.

"You scare me." Waverly pushed further back into Nicole, tightening her hold on the arms wrapped around her even more, as though they might disappear at her confession.

"Me?" Nicole asked, softly. She knew handling this conversation right was imperative. She wasn't completely certain, but she had assumed this was the first time Waverly found herself attracted to a woman and she remembered how overwhelming, scary, and exhilarating it could be.

"Yes. Not like you, you. But everything you make me feel..." Waverly paused, trying to choose her words perfectly. "I've never felt this before."

"For a woman?" Nicole asked, thinking she understood what Waverly was struggling with.

"No--I mean never, ever. It's not that you're a woman--that hasn't...it doesn't bother me. Bother isn't the right word...but--"

"I get what you mean." Nicole nuzzled the hair in front of her again, braving another kiss to the back of the other woman's head.

"Okay...it's more like everything I'm feeling so suddenly scares me. It feels like parts of me have known you forever, and then I realize I barely know you." Waverly finally gathered the courage to roll over, breaking Nicole's hold on her--but she was rewarded with a view of the most beautiful, brown eyes. Gold flecks shining in the morning sun, the edges crinkling with a hint of a smile. Waverly threaded their hands together, legs still in a jumbled tangle.

She'd never felt so safe in her entire life.

"If it helps...helps you be less scared I feel the same way." Nicole wanted so badly to tip her head forward and close the gap between them, brushing their lips together, getting a taste of her. She held back, wanting Waverly to feel more sure of herself, her feelings, before she took that step. "I think...I told you I wanted to be somebody for you, Waves. I really just want to be your somebody."

Nicole's eyes flicked down to the brunette's lips again. 

Delicious torture.

Waverly watched Nicole's eyes. She knew exactly what the other woman was thinking, wanting, but she wasn't sure she was ready for that yet.

And she was very sure once they started there wouldn't be any slowing down.

"You take my breath away. So very, very brave." She scooted up a few inches and peppered several kisses on Nicole's forehead, cheeks, and one that just brushed the corner of her mouth. "I want that too."

"Mmmm." Nicole smiled. "You know what else I want?"

"What?" Waverly laughed when strong hands tickled her sides.

"Pancakes."

"Oh god."

"What? We just established that I'm yours...I think?"

Waverly nodded her head, loving a glimpse to the playful side of the woman.

"Good. So--only the best for you then. And my pancakes are seriously the best. Plus I," Nicole pointed to her chest. "I have my very own working stove." She whispered the last part into Waverly's ear, enjoying the squeak it produced from the other woman.

"You're a total goober. A nerd and a goober." Waverly took another moment, enjoying the closeness of being cocooned in bed with this woman. "Well? Get off me and get to it."

"Yes ma'am." Nicole sat and up pulled on a pair of ratty, hole-filled fire department issued sweats. "You good?" Her eyes asking everything she didn't say.

"Totally. We're spending the day together so you're not off the hook just yet for emotional chats. Someone still has to explain their wife."

"Ex wife." Nicole scowled a little. "We seriously get the whole day?"

"Yep." Waverly popped the 'P' for more emphasis. "I told you I was a planner. I texted Nedley last night to make sure you were off duty. It may not have been my original plan, but I didn't want to come over here and drop an emotion bomb and then not really be able to talk through it."

"You talk about me being brave, but you? Last night was so incredibly brave. It's...it's refreshing--you're so open and honest and upfront. It's amazing really. You're amazing." Nicole reached out and grabbed one of Waverly's hands. Now that she'd felt how incredible it was to touch the woman, she couldn't seem to stop herself.

"Thank you. I don't know if it was all bravery. The whiskey helped a little too, but..." Waverly ducked her head a little before meeting Nicole's gaze head on. "I don't...I don't feel like I could be any other way with you? Does that...is it too much?" Waverly looked at her with wide eyes, scared that all of these emotional confessions would send the other woman running.

"No. If anything it helps me be a little braver with my feelings--now that I know it's not one sided. Things are easier with someone there with you. And it was brave, you could have just disappeared on me. Ghosting? Is that what it's called?"

Waverly laughed, "Complete goober." Waverly rolled off the bed and made her way around, in front of Nicole--pushing herself between long legs and looping her arms around the woman's neck. "I like this. Being taller than you."

"Yeah? I'll remember that." Nicole kept her hands on the bed, gripping the bedspread, itching to pull Waverly even closer.

"Mmm. Anyway, I couldn't have ghosted you. You're working on my kitchen remember? And also...you know...I like you."

"Wait until you have my pancakes. You'll never leave."

Waverly smiled. It was full of brightness and warmth.

She was radiant.

Stunning.

It was something Nicole doubted she would ever get tired of seeing.

She smiled back, happiness bubbling up in her chest. She loosened the grip on the bedspread and lifted her arm, threading one hand in Waverly's hair. "Can I ask you something?"

"Yes." Waverly answered, breathy and pleading.

"How is it you show up here last night drunk as a skunk and your hair looks perfect this morning? And no sign of a hangover?"

Waverly deflated a little. "Good genes." Waverly narrowed her eyes at the red head. "Way to ruin a moment."

Nicole smirked. "A moment huh? What did you think I was going to ask?" Teasing was a two way street and Nicole could play with the best of them.

Especially when she knew she was finally in the game.

"Nicole." Waverly whispered, as she leaned down a breath away from Nicole's lips.

The doorbell sounded, springing them apart instantly.

The moment broken.

Nicole stared wide-eyed at Waverly. She was going to kiss her. She had felt lips starting to ghost over her own. She felt drunk on endorphins, her heart pounding, her breath shallow.

Murder.

She was going to murder whoever was on her front porch. Then she was going to come right back to this very spot and finish this perfect moment. God, this woman.

Strong.

Waverly chest was heaving, a blush crawling up her neck, a smile dancing in her eyes.

Beautiful.

"Do you need to get that?" Waverly finally asked. Nicole was staring at her, the emotions swirling in her eyes almost too much to handle.

"No."

Waverly just raised her eyebrow.

"Fine. We're coming back to this though." Nicole waved her arms between the two of them. Nicole's lips turned down in a grimace, her brow furrowed as she made her way to the bedroom door.

"Are you...are you pouting?" Waverly laughed at the flustered look on her face.

"Kind of. You...you were going to kiss me." Nicole stomped her foot.

Waverly laughed again. "Poor baby. I'll see how your pancakes are and then maybe we can work something out later." Waverly winked and slid past Nicole, leaving her shaking her head in the doorway. "I'm going to freshen up while you go see who keeps punching your doorbell incessantly. If it's the ex yell and I'll come down naked."

Nicole rolled her eyes heavenward, "Please give me the strength...oof." The slap to her stomach was just past gentle, but she couldn't help the smile creeping across her face.

"Hurry up and get the damn door, Haught."

"On it." Nicole grabbed her phone off the dresser and checked her ring app as she headed down the stairs. "Shit," she thought, as she looked at who was standing in front of her door.

A few quick strides down the last stairs and she flung open the door. "Hi Wynnona."

"You have clothes on. That's one question answered." Wynnona barreled her way past Nicole and into the living room. "Waverly still here? She wasn't at her apartment."

"Yes."

"And did you fix it? Whatever you broke?" Wynnona cut an intimidating figure for such a small little thing. Arms crossed, hip jutted put, defiance written across her face.

"Yes."

"Good." Wynnona visibly relaxed her pose and leaned against the back of the couch.

"Yep." Nicole stood tall, refusing to fidget under Wynnona's gaze. She was pretty sure she fixed it, right?

"Good talk."

"Uh huh." Nicole said, not exactly sure what to do with the woman standing in her living room. "How about I go get your sister?"

"No need. Here I am." Waverly bounced down the stairs. Her hair was pulled up, face scrubbed clean, a too-big hoodie from Nicole's fire department-issued stash hanging mid-thigh and no pants.

No pants.

The look she shot Nicole told her everything. Payback was a bitch.

"Jesus girl, please tell me you have on underwear." Wynnona screeched.

"Maybe." Waverly slid up next to Nicole, wrapping her arms around her waist and leaned against her. "Did you need something specific Wy?"

"Just making sure you were okay. And seeing if I needed to kick Haughtstuff's ass."

"Hey--"

Waverly patted Nicole's stomach, cutting her off. "No need, we're good. And her ass has been through enough anyway."

Nicole whipped her head down and shot Waverly a horrified look. Wynnona started making gagging and wrenching noises. "Too much!"

Waverly just laughed. "You guys are too easy. She got stitches on her butt Wy. That's why she was at the hospital last night. And it's sweet of you to come check on me but I'm good and Nicole is about to make me very special morning after pancakes so you need to leave."

"Um..." Nicole started, before Waverly shushed her again.

Wynnona made another retching noise. "I'm gonna just go then." She looked like she was going to say more but just nodded her head once and headed back to the door.

Nicole opened it for her and stayed silent as the other woman strutted out. Halfway to her truck she turned back around. "You hurt her Haught and I'll kill you!"

"Okay!" Nicole added a thumb's up, making the moment even more awkward. Wynnona just finished her trek to the truck and hopped in.

Nicole shut the door once she heard the engine roar to life, leaning back against it. She couldn't stop the laughter from escaping and once she started she couldn't seem to stop. She dragged Waverly by the arm over to the couch where they collapsed in a pile of limbs and Waverly couldn't help but join in the laughter.

Feeling herself settling down she rubbed her hands over her face. "Jesus."

"Yeah. We're kind of a lot..."

"Kind of?" Nicole shook her head. "Good thing you're worth it."

Waverly beamed at her.

"Your sister thinks we did it."

"Yeah," Waverly shrugged. "But it got her out of here didn't it? Otherwise you were going to be all polite and offer her pancakes and she can't turn down carbs and then she'd have hunkered down all day with us and then we'd never get to that kiss."

"Good point. So you ready to see me make some magic in the kitchen?"

"Yep!" Waverly jumped up off the couch.

"Are you going to put pants on?"

"Nope!" Waverly jutted her hip out and popped herself on the ass. "I think your hoodie covers juuust enough."

Nicole groaned.

"Just kidding. I went 50/50 on who was at the door. Figure if it was the wife I could whip the hoodie off and scare her away. I'll go put pants on so I don't distract you too much.

"Ex-wife!" Nicole called as Waverly disappeared up the stairs.

"Still need an explanation!" Waverly called back.

Chapter Text

"You good with vegan pancakes?" Nicole asked once Waverly reappeared in the kitchen--thankfully wearing the flannel bottoms she'd commandeered the night before.

"Sure, I'm game. You said they were amazing so I'll trust you." Waverly started opening cabinet doors--letting out a victory yelp when she located the coffee grinds and started a pot brewing.

"Awesome." Nicole smiled at Waverly. She couldn't believe how right it felt to have this woman in her kitchen, making herself at home, letting Nicole cook her breakfast. "You wanna know a secret?"

"Always."

"Cocoa powder. That's what makes them extra amazing." Nicole smiled again and turned back to her task.

"That sounds delicious!" Waverly said while she hunted for two coffee cups, picking out two matching ones. It seemed a little silly, but she liked the idea of sharing something domestic with the redhead. While she waited for the coffee to finish brewing she watched Nicole move around the kitchen effortlessly.

"Does your butt hurt?"

"From when I fell from heaven?" Nicole turned from the mixer and batted her eyes.

"Total goober." Waverly walked over to Nicole and wrapped an arm around her waist and leaned her head against her shoulder. "It's a good thing that I find goober very attractive. But, seriously, does it hurt?" She let her arm drop when Nicole turned back to the fridge for more ingredients.

"Not really. I took some ibuprofen and as long as I don't bump it it's okay. Do you want to see it?"

"Um..." Waverly's eyebrows lifted in surprise.

"If you tug my sweats down about an inch you can see it. It's going to scar but I guess at least it's somewhere that's not visible." Nicole continued adding ingredients to the mixer, slowly folding it all together. The task was two handed so if Waverly wanted a peek she was going to have to work for it.

And maybe it was a little payback for the no-pants thing earlier.

Waverly stared at Nicole's back for a few moments. She wasn't one to back down and she knew she was being baited. But a chance to get a glimpse at a little more of Nicole? She definitely wasn't missing out. She closed the gap between them and slid her hands down Nicole's sides, settling on her hips. Slipping her thumbs inside the waistband she tugged the sides down until the blue stitching running vertical across creamy, white skin was visible.

She traced the gash lightly with one finger. When Nicole let out a muffled groan Waverly took pity on her and quit her teasing. She pulled the sweats back up around the slim hips that had caught her attention that very first day and gave them both a pat, before turning back to the coffee maker.

"I hear chicks dig scars so..." Wavily said, breaking the silence. 

With her batter finished Nicole turned and leaned against the counter. Crossing her arms and praying that her face wasn't still burning red from Waverly's caress she pressed on. "I don't know about chicks, but there is one very beautiful woman I'm hoping can handle a few imperfections."

"Well if you're referring to me I'm a research kind of gal--so I'm going to need to see them all up close before I can really decide." Waverly hid her smile and turned to pour them both a cup of coffee. Hearing Nicole's laugh she turned back around.

"You're really good at that."

"Research?"

"Probably that too, but I was going to say flirting."

Waverly sensed a small shift in the woman's tone. Not enough to dim the smile on her face, but enough for her to sense some insecurity behind the statement. Waverly slowly walked over to Nicole and settled her hands back on the woman's hips. "Just with you." She whispered, not breaking eye contact with her.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

Nicole rested her head on Waverly's for a moment, eyes closed, taking in the intimate moment between the two of them. She cradled Waverly's head in her hands and kissed her forehead. Sighing peacefully she moved over to the stove and started heating the griddle pan. "Shae was a flirt."

"Ah." Waverly paused as she thought through the implications of that statement. "Did she...did she cheat on you?"

The word cheat was said with such disdain it caused Nicole to flinch just slightly. She was going to have to dig deeper on that subject later.

And maybe add 'punch Champ Hardy' to her to-do list.

"No, nothing like that. I...I thought what we had was special...that we had a real, genuine, unique spark. And when I realized it wasn't exactly real or unique, and it wasn't just me she had that spark with...well...that was it. We cooled off pretty quickly." Nicole kept her focus on the stove, her back to Waverly as she spoke. A quickie Vegas wedding wasn't her finest moment and she was embarrassed it was something she had to explain. She felt a hand drift across her shoulders as Waverly moved behind her and hopped up on the counter right next to her, settling herself as close to Nicole as she could.

Nicole glanced over, grateful for the comforting presence.

"So how did you meet in the first place?" Waverly prompted, wanting the full unabridged edition of this woman's story. "And for the record--too bad for her, because I have a very unique feeling about you Haught." Waverly waggled her eyebrows, wanting to lighten the mood. She wanted to hear Nicole's story, but she didn't want to make Nicole feel like she was being judged, or that it was going to change the trajectory of their relationship.

Nicole snorted, suddenly feeling better about this conversation. It was going to be okay, she could feel it. Waverly was genuinely curious about her past. No judgement, no ulterior motive. "Rock climbing in Nevada. We were pretty close to Vegas. And after a Britney Live concert and a big win at the slot machine she said 'Let's get hitched!' and I'd had enough liquor to last me a year so I said why not?"


"Oooohhhh." Waverly couldn't school the surprised look on her face. She knew Nicole was waiting for a response and really what could she say? It wasn't like her past was full of perfect decisions. "I'll have to remember that you're very agreeable when you're drunk."

She watched Nicole flip a few of the pancakes and waited to see if she was going to continue. Once the woman finished her task, she reached out and pushed a lock of the red hair off Nicole's face and tucked it behind her ear. Dark eyes turned towards her and Waverly was lost for a moment, the look so clear and open and she hoped Nicole saw the same thing reflected in hers. "I want to know everything about you Nicole. Good, bad, ugly. All of it. So thank you for sharing with me."

Nicole was grateful for the half-done pancakes because without them she would scooped this woman up and never let go. "I'm sorry you had to find out like you did last night. I was going to say something about her at dinner. It isn't some dirty secret I was trying to hide, just something I was moving past."

"I should be the one apologizing...last night I kind of went a little full-on crazy chick. But for the sake of honesty--a Vegas wedding is way better than you two having some tragic love story that I was going to be stuck in the middle of."

"Something tells me Waverly Earp is never stuck anywhere for long." Nicole rested her hand on Waverly's thigh. She thought for a moment about how it should feel weird being this affectionate with someone so quickly, but it didn't. It felt completely natural.

"You'd think that huh? I'll save my past relationship drama for date number two. Today is all about the mystery that is Nicole Haught--plus I think you already know enough for the gist of the story." Waverly sipped her coffee, content to watch Nicole while she finished up the remaining pancakes.

"The mystery huh? Well, how about this fun fact--I don't use syrup on pancakes. I use Nutella." Nicole pulled a jar out from the pantry along with a never-opened bottle of syrup.

Waverly cocked an eyebrow and jumped down from the cabinet. "If you don't use syrup why do you have it?"

"Um..." Nicole stuttered, realizing she was caught. "Well, when I was shopping the other day I thought that maybe sometime in the future you might stay over and I didn't know if you liked Nutella and I thought I should have options for you...you know--later on...when you might have hypothetically stayed the night..." Her face was burning red, embarrassed at her planning and assumptions.

"So you're a planner too. I like it. And I definitely do love syrup. How'd you guess my favorite kind?" Waverly couldn't wipe the 1,000 watt smile off her face. Could this woman get any better? She'd felt more cared for in the last 12 hours then she had in her entire previous relationship.

Nicole picked up two plates loaded with pancakes and headed towards the table. She mumbled, "might have texted your sister..."

"God, if this is how I get treated on a first date I can't wait for an--" Waverly stopped. She was about to blurt out the word anniversary. She was certain they were headed for a long-term relationship, but she didn't want to scare her off. She could control herself a little longer and save that kind of talk for at least the third date.

Nicole seemed to realize where she was going and didn't push her to finish. She just pulled a chair out for Waverly and turned back for their coffee when she sat.

When she came back to the table with two topped-off mugs she suddenly had a wave of anxiety hit her. Waverly had said they had all day. But what in the world were they going to do after breakfast? And was she really going to stay until dinner? Was she going to cook for her like they planned last night?

"You okay?" Waverly asked, the panic visible on Nicole's face.

"Uh, yeah. I just freaked out for a second about how to entertain you all day. We had a plan last night." She frowned, trying to figure out a suitable first date day activity.

Waverly misread Nicole's worry though, and her stomach dropped. "I can just go after we eat? I don't want to impose."

Nicole snapped out of her internal panic and reached out to grab Waverly's hand. Squeezing it, she started vehemently shook her head no. "No, no, no--that's not what I meant. Like at all. I don't want you to go--I just don't want to be too boring for you or whatever. This isn't exactly a textbook first date..."

Nicole's show of emotion instantly made Waverly feel better. "I think we could just hang out and watch some movies? And maybe we could still cook dinner later? I don't think I could ever be bored around you...just being near you is nice. We don't have to word vomit our entire life's stories in one day you know. It is only our first date."

"It's kind of the best first date. At least for me anyway." Nicole chewed her lip, nervous at the admission. She focused on slathering just the right amount of Nutella on each pancake, to scared to look up and see Waverly's reaction.

"Me too. And I have to say--pajamas is definitely the way to go." Waverly took her first bite of pancake, moaning a reaction. "Oh. My. God....Nicole."

"You like?"

"Like? I think I'm in lo--aaaahhhhh!!!"

Nicole jumped up at when Waverly screamed, not sure exactly what was happening.

"Mrrooew!!!"

A deep rumbling, laughter exploded from Nicole's chest and she couldn't stop it. Tears leaked from the corner of her eyes, she doubled over the chair in front of her and Waverly joined in with a few chuckles when the cause of the commotion took up residence on her lap.

Finally, Nicole gathered herself back together. "So I have a cat. Meet Ms. Calamity Jane."

"I see. Where was she hiding last night?" Waverly didn't look to Nicole for a real answer. She'd already buried her face in the side of the purring cat. "Who's a good girl?"

Nicole watched--admittedly a little jealously--as Waverly showered CJ with kisses and loving. Once the cat got her fill of the attention she jumped off of Waverly's lap and made her way over to her empty food bowl. Nicole just rolled her eyes at the show of superiority and went to fill it. "She has a few hiding spots, likes to make herself known when she's hungry or needs attention. On her own terms, of course."

With the food bowl full Nicole returned to her own breakfast. "Where were we? Something about love?"

With a teasing scowl Waverly was quick to answer. "Yes. I'm going to run away with these pancakes. I'm sorry, it's not you--it's me."

"I understand. At least give me today? I'll cook you dinner, maybe convince you to stick around a little longer?"

Waverly hummed, thinking the offer over. She tapped her fork on her lips a few times before answering. "I think that's fair. I'll make my decision about Pancakes and me after that."

"Now who's a goober?"

"Yeah, yeah. Eat up. We have movies to pick out."

"Yes ma'am."

+++++++

Once breakfast was finished and the clean up was out of the way, Nicole started to get nervous again. "So movies still sound good? One tiny detail--I only have my streaming stuff in my room. You cool with watching movies in bed with me? I can bring everything down here to the living room if you're not?"

"I'm good with your room. It's not like we haven't already snuggled up there...What kind of movies do you like?"

"Anything."

Her curt, one word answer peaked Waverly's curiosity. "Oh really? So if I wanted to watch Saw 7?"

"Sure."

"And then maybe Speed 2?"

"Yeah, why not?"

"And you'd still be cool to watch Final Destination 4 after that?"

"Yep."

"Nicole." When Nicole didn't answer, Waverly pushed on. "What kind of movies do you like?"

"I mostly just watch Hallmark movies." Nicole licked her lips, her confession usually one that prompted teasing.

"That is the most precious thing I've ever heard. You're just one big marshmallow aren't you, Captain?" Waverly grabbed Nicole's hand and tugged her out of the kitchen.

Nicole pouted a little, but let herself be lead away. "Sometimes I hate-watch them with a glass of wine. And sometimes they have murder in them."

"Okay, yeah...Still a marshmallow. How about we find a nice rom-com to start with and maybe I can convince you to watch one of my favorites after that?"

"Saw 7?"

"I'm not even sure that's a real movie. I was trying to wind you up. You'll just have to wait and see what my pick is."

They made their way up the stairs, managing to keep their hands linked until they reached the bedroom. Nicole perched herself on the side of the bed and busied herself with the remote, pulling up Netflix, while Waverly stood awkwardly in the doorway. For all her bluster downstairs she didn't actually know what to do with herself.

Once the tv was ready to go, Nicole looked up and noticed Waverly's hesitation. "We can go downstairs if you're uncomfortable."

Waverly walked over the Nicole, shaking her head no. "I'm not, up here is good. This should be weirder right? Why aren't we more uncomfortable?"

"I think because we're going to be good together. Simple as that."

Waverly melted at that answer, tilting her head a little and she stepped forward and settled herself between Nicole's legs looping her arms around the woman's neck and threading her hands in the waves of red hair at the base of her long, slender neck. "I like that answer."

"So...about my pancakes? Did I do okay?" Nicole asked hopefully, their positions mirroring the ones from earlier that morning when they had been interrupted.

"Better than okay." Waverly looked down at the woman. Eyes full of hope and confidence and yearning stared back at her. 

"So..."

"Nicole." Waverly answered, defiant, hopeful and demanding all at once. She surged forward and their lips met, Waverly's momentum knocking them back horizontal on the bed. Her hands gripped red hair, Nicole's found purchase along her back, grasping at the thin t-shirt that separated them. It was fevered and messy and so amazingly wanton.

When Waverly pulled back, her smile was blinding. It's a look that's all at once satisfied and smug. Nicole took advantage of the break and flipped them over, hooking one arm under Waverly's knee, pulling it up to her hip and settling herself between her legs. "Damn."

"Right? We're good at that. We should do it again."

"Yeah?" Nicole asked, surprise coloring her voice. "Are you sure? I mean we are good at it...I just want to make sure you're comfortable with this." Nicole trailed her eyes down the length of Waverly, taking in their position. "This step."

"Babe? Thank you for asking, but I actually kiss-tackled you, it was amaze-balls, and you are here by given permission to kiss me as much as you want. If you want. Are you okay with this step?" Waverly pulled Nicole's head down and kissed her forehead, lingering longer than a moment--her lips melded to soft skin. "Because let me reiterate: I am totally, absolutely, comfortable with this."

"Me too. 100%. We really should do it again. Maybe like right now?"

"Yes please. Movie can wait."

Nicole's deep, guttural moan was all the conformation Waverly needed to dive back in.

Chapter Text

“Dude. When is your girlfriend going to be done with our kitchen?” Wynnona whined and flopped down on the couch next to her sister. “I need to get laid.”

“Huh?” Waverly shifted herself on the couch a little, letting Wynnona lay down completely, settling her head on her lap. She set the book aside she'd been reading and focused on her sister.

“I want to cook for Doc. It made you all kinds of over-the-top moony-eyes for like a week after Nicole made you dinner. I want to do that.”

“Wait, Doc? What about Dolls?” Waverly was beyond confused about her sister’s love life and normally she was able to ignore it. Now she felt like she was behind the curve in a major way.

“Eh…it's complicated? But seriously—maybe if she didn’t Snapchat you so much she’d get more work done. And why does glass tile cost so much? It’s glass.”

“Are you okay? You’re saying like..a lot of words right now.”

“No. I’m not okay. I just told you I need to get L-A-I-D. With a capitol D.” Wynnona snorted at her own joke and poked Waverly in the side a few times until she joined in, shaking her head at the antics of her sister. “We aren’t all banging hot redheads. Some of us still have to work for it.”

Waverly stared down at her sister. They had finally moved back in together at the homestead late last week, once most of the major repairs had been finished. The kitchen was usable, but some of the tile work and flooring needed to be finished. And yes…she guessed that she could be the tiniest bit to blame that it wasn’t done yet. She had been taking up a good portion of Nicole’s free time in the last few weeks and when Nicole was at the house working…she seemed to have a distracting affect on the woman. Nicole had taken to working out here alone when she knew Waverly was on shift at Shorty’s because of it.

It wasn't her fault Nicole's took belt did things to her.

“There’s been no banging.” Waverly said quietly.

“Well whatever you lesbians call it, I haven’t been so lucky lately.” Wynnona was absentmindedly playing with her key necklace, not really placing any thought to Waverly’s confession.

“Me either.”

Wynnona sat up, her sister's words finally sinking in. “So you haven’t done it? But you spend like every moment together and there’s been like a billion dates and…”

“Ten dates. Ten perfect dates and she’s been amazing and we talk. Like actually talk—not just texting and shit. She calls me. And she cares about my feelings and she likes my nerd side and she’s super supportive of me. And she’s honestly so amazing and perfect and considerate and holy shirtballs can she kiss.”

"Shirtballs?"

"Uh huh."

“That all sounds a little lame.”

Waverly rolled her eyes at her sister, but she knew that was her way of keeping the conversation going. “I think it’s sweet. You should be glad she’s being so careful with me.”

Should I be?” Wynnona pushed, trying hard to keep the laughter from escaping.

“Ugh! No! Yes? I don’t know. All I know is that I want to have sex. What is she waiting on? What should I do?” Waverly’s voice reached peak panic and Wynnona could only laugh at her.

“No, no, no. I’m not going to be your lady-loving coach. Not happening.” She shook her head vehemently.

“You started this conversation.”

“Fine. You know after you first met her and you were all ‘OMG Nicole says I deserve someone who listens to me’ for like a week straight? Maybe just tell her you’re ready for her to jump your bones. Or just jump hers. Jesus, I don’t know how this works. Do you know how this works?"

“Um....No. Shit. You think I can research it?” Waverly mentally started to map out a plan of action.

“Yeah, definitely. Just go ahead and google ‘lesbian sex’ and let me know how that goes.” Wynnona's added eye roll was of epic proportions.

“It’s these sensitive chats I love most about being your sister.” Waverly picked at a spot on the coach cushion, weighing her next words. “Do you know any lesbians?”

“Baby girl, listen. Don’t do your nerd thing on this. Talk. To. Your. Girlfriend.” Wynnona emphasized each word with a poke to Waverly’s side. “I’m pretty sure she’s done it before. And I’m pretty sure she wants to do it with you. She’s like a walking poster for all things noble so you're probably going to just have tell her.”

“I can do that. I’m going to do that.”

“Great. Good for you. Now can we watch some Live PD? I haven’t had a mark to track in like a week so I need my fix of crazy.”

“Sure. Right after you make me some popcorn and I finish this chapter.” Waverly picked her book up and dove back in, feeling excited about what her weekend would hopefully bring.

“Yeah, you really do need to get laid.” Wynnona shot back over her shoulder as she made her way to the kitchen.

++++++++++


Waverly stared down at her phone. She knew Nicole was going to be done with her shift in less than an hour and that they had made tentative plans for the next day, but she wanted to see the woman tonight. Ever since her conversation with her sister the previous evening she couldn’t stop obsessing over how to bring the sex topic up with her girlfriend. She ultimately decided on a complete full-on attack. Subtle hints wouldn’t work. The woman had been frustratingly delicate about the entire subject, but she always managed to make Waverly feel treasured; Nicole always purveying a sense of chivalry and gentleness towards her when they even came close to circling the topic.

She was over it.

Mostly.

Maybe not the treasured part.

Even in some of their most heated make out sessions over the past few weeks Nicole had drawn some sort of proverbial line in the sand and there was no crossing it. It was frustrating and maddening and sexy and torturing. She loved it actually. The build-up, the caring, the genuineness of it all. But she was absolutely over the waiting. She was ready.

We need to talk.

Waverly hit send before she could second guess herself. Re-reading it though, she realized that those four words typically spelled doom and gloom more often than not.

Moment later Nicole sent a reply.

Ok, is something wrong?

God. This woman. Could Waverly be any luckier? She decided to keep things short and to the point, deleting the asking part of her next text.

No, nothing’s wrong. I’m coming over tonight though. 

()

Waverly waited, staring at those three little dots for what seemed like an eternity. What kind of response could be taking so long? Maybe she should have waited and said something in person? Maybe Nicole had plans tonight and she was trying to let her down easy?

Sounds good. I have something to talk to you about too.

Great. Waverly had a feeling that whatever Nicole wanted to talk to her about was going to completely de-rail her topic. She was going to have to go in guns blazing on this one and not back down.

++++++++++++

Nicole fretted for the last 33 minutes of her shift and her entire drive home about whatever Waverly wanted to talk about. She was nervous, since 'we need to talk' never really meant anything good. She had thought that things were going smoothly, so hopefully it wasn't anything they couldn't work through.

And she hoped that her news wasn't going to disrupt that.

Pulling up her driveway she was relieved to see Waverly's jeep already parked by the house. She wouldn't have enjoyed waiting for her girlfriend to arrive.

Girlfriend.

She smiled to herself. That word tumbling around her head always made her feel giddy. She shook it off, remembering that she was about ready to walk into a "talk."

She could do this. Waverly was new to this and she was going to be uber-supportive in letting her process everything and anything.

She met Waverly on the front porch and wondered for a half-moment if 5 weeks of dating was too soon to give someone a key to her house.

Probably.

If she had a key though, she wouldn't have to wait out in the cold. Slow your roll, Haught.

Focus.

"Hey, baby. Everything okay?" Nicole asked as she dug for her keys.

"Yeah. Good. Don't 'baby' me right now you'll get me off track."

"Um. Alright." Nicole unlocked her front door and let Waverly go in ahead of her. Once she was inside she peeled her coat and scarf off and hung them on the coat rack. She turned to take Waverly's coat from her but the woman was pacing back and forth in the living room. Waverly looked up after a moment, knowing she was being watched by a curious gaze.

"Oh Jesus. You're wearing your uniform." Waverly stared at Nicole, heart thumping in her chest, desire and want overwhelming her senses.

"Yeah, we had that thing at the elementary school today so we had to look official..." Nicole trailed off when she noticed Waverly's glazed look. "You sure you're okay?"

"I want to have sex. Now. Right now." Waverly groaned.

"Oh, uh...shit." Nicole scratched at the back of her neck nervously. "We can't."

"Can't? I don't understand?" Tears glistened in her eyes, threatening to spill. The emotions too much, too many things had been pent up inside that were threatening to spill all at once. Anger or sadness, she couldn't seem to pinpoint it.

"Waves, baby...listen..." Nicole crossed the living room and reached out, hands hovering over Waverly's shoulders. "Can I..."

Waverly's small nod was all it took to have Nicole gather her in her arms, nuzzling her neck and tightening her hold when Waverly finally began to relax. "Better?"

Waverly nodded again, still not understanding exactly what was happening but Nicole's tenderness melted away her hurt.

"Okay, first...I just...um..."

"Nicole! Spit it out. You haven't been this nervous around me in weeks." Waverly crossed her arms again when Nicole took a few paces backwards.

"Do I need to go move my car first? I mean I parked right behind you and you still have your coat on and if you wanted to storm out of here after I tell you I will totally support that--but it would be awkward because I would have to move my car first before you could leave and probably ruin the dramatic effect."

Instead of answering Waverly stared Nicole down as she peeled her coat off, throwing it on the couch without blinking. "I won't storm out. If I want to leave I will politely ask you to move your car you sweet, sweet idiot."

"Good. Good. Can I kiss you then? I missed you today...I promise I'll explain right after?"

Waverly melted again, clearly whatever was going on wasn't as dramatic or terrible as she felt like just moments ago. She nodded. She bit her lip and she at least had the decency to look a little sheepish.

Nicole moved back across the open space in seconds and was wrapped up with Waverly instantly. No holding back, no tentativeness. Their lips crashed together, moving over each other in a way that screamed need.

A moan escaped into the silence and Nicole's arms wrapped around her even tighter, strong hands tangled in her hair, pulling her closer.

Waverly had never felt so wanted.

Worshipped.

The kiss continued another long moment, her hands wandering freely, touching and feeling every inch of the taller woman she could.

"Christ, Nicole." Waverly huffed out when they pulled apart. "You can't kiss me like that right after you tell me we can't have sex."

Nicole laughed, head thrown back and not an ounce of repenting in her eyes. "Trust me, I'm right there with you but I can't seem to help losing myself in you." She sobered, tucking a stray piece of hair behind Waverly's ear; her fingers softly stroking the curve of it hypnotically. "You have to understand that I really, really, really want to."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Absolutely. It's just that..." Nicole paused, wanting to choose her words perfectly. "I have to leave tomorrow morning and I'll be gone two weeks and I can't be all 'wham, bam, see ya later ma'am' with you."

Waverly's eyes narrowed and Nicole thought briefly that maybe she hadn't quite nailed her word choice.

"I'm going to let you re-phrase that. I'll wait."

"Fair enough..."

Chapter Text

Nicole was lost in her own thoughts until a pinch to her cheek brought her back. “I don’t have the right words yet.” Nicole cringed, her trail of thought totally thrown off, caught up in thinking about what just fell out of her mouth.

“Baby...” Waverly trailed off, her own thoughts still jumbled from their kiss. “You don’t really have to find the exact right words. I get what you’re saying so let’s go get you out of your uniform and then we’ll talk?”

“Okay.” Nicole let herself be pulled up to her bedroom and she grabbed lounge clothes for herself and Waverly. Sometime in the last few weeks a couple of Waverly’s things had migrated to her house. She disappeared into the bathroom to change, not trusting her willpower if Waverly decided to undress in front of her.

“You can’t hide forever!” Waverly sing-songed towards the closed bathroom door. They had changed in front of each other a few times over the last week or so, so really the closed bathroom door was a statement.

“Not hiding!” Nicole yelled back through the door. And she wasn’t. Not really. She gave Waverly a few extra moments to finish changing before she stepped back out of the bathroom, not trusting her girlfriend to prolong the process in order to tease her with an extra flash of skin.

Thankfully Waverly was done and waiting patiently for her on the edge of her bed. Nicole joined her and sat down heavily, flopping down on her back. “So.”

“Two weeks?” Waverly hedged, prompting what she hoped was the easier of the two elephants in the room.

Nicole sat back up and turned slightly, fully facing the brunette. “Yeah, so Purgatory is a combination fire department. Which is the whole reason I came out here, so that means that we all do rotations in the rural wildland support stations.” Nicole was trying to contain her excitement, but it was hard. Just talking about it got her going. She’d been looking forward to spring for this very reason, accepted this job for this very reason. And now the timing couldn’t be more terrible.

“So it’s a job thing?” Waverly asked, trying to understand what Nicole’s hesitation was. When the red headed nodded Waverly continued, “So it’s a part of the job that you’ve been excited about?”

“Yeah.”

“So be excited dummy.” She reached out a laced their fingers together. “I’m not going anywhere and I expect a very, very detailed explanation of everything you just said because I want to know what you know. And I want to know what gets you excited.” She smiled a 1,000 watt smile and a little eyebrow wiggle and Nicole immediately relaxed. “Were you worried?”

“Well, yeah...I was worried enough about telling you and then you said that...you know that thing when I got here and the last thing in this world I ever want to do is disappoint you.”

“I’m not disappointed.” At Nicole’s pointed look Waverly shrugged. “I mean I am a little but I don’t actually want to have you leave tomorrow morning and not get to savor things a little more. I get it. I’m a mature adult who can keep it in her pants for two weeks.”

“That’s not exactly...” Nicole laughed. God it felt good to be around this woman.

“I’ve been doing a shitload of research lately so I think right now is one of those times you just go with it.” Waverly was smiling at her again and the look in her brown eyes hit Nicole square in the chest. She took a moment to savor the warmth spreading through her, the feelings building on each other. Lust, want, need, happiness.

Love.

She was falling in love.

Waverly’s brows furrowed. “You okay?”

Nicole shook her head a little to clear it. Of course she was falling, this woman was everything and more. “Perfect.” Nicole leaned forward and captured soft lips with her own, wanting to show some of what she was feeling without saying the words yet.

When she pulled back Waverly pushed her down and snuggled into her side. “I’m perfect too. Now tell me more about this wildland whatever you’re headed off to. Is it dangerous?”

“Then we’ll talk about this shitload of research?”

Waverly laughed and nodded in agreement so she moved their positions a little, tucking Waverly into her side more and curling around her. “Okay so then—no, it’s not dangerous this time of year. This early in spring it’s going to be more maintenance and prevention work then anything. I wasn’t scheduled until later in the summer but Peters wife went into labor early so we got switched.”

“That makes more sense then you forgetting to tell your very fabulous girlfriend you were going AWOL for 2 weeks.”

“You’re ridiculous.” Nicole paused, wanting Waverly to understand that they were very much on the same page about moving their relationship to the next level. “I just want you to know I had a plan to romance you....you know when we take that next step. I’m still gonna stick to it because you deserve everything and more. I maybe will just speed up my timeline a little...”

“What was your timeline?”

“Twenty or so dates...”

“That sounds more like torture than anything. I like the speedier version.”

“You made that pretty clear earlier. You keep me on my toes Earp. I like it.” Nicole rested her chin on the top of Waverly’s head, entranced by the pattern being traced across her stomach by delicate fingers. “So...research?”

“Shitloads.”

“I—“

Waverly sat up abruptly and covered Nicole’s mouth with her hand. “No talking. I know what you’re going to say.”

“But—“

“No.” Waverly silenced her again with a pointed look. “This isn’t about me being worried about anything. Or nervous or scared or that I have to prove something to you. I don’t need you to reassure me...I know what I want. And it’s you. And our first time is going to be perfect and amazing because it’s us. It’s just that when I don’t know about something I go all in and find it all out. I told you research is my jam.”

“You kinda did know what I was going to say.” Nicole stared up at the ceiling looking for her next words. Waverly really had her number. She’d been holding back in that area specifically for Waverly’s benefit, so that she could get comfortable dating a woman. The last thing she’d wanted was to rush into something and have her regret it. “This is going to be big deal though...your first time with a woman.”

“My first time with you.”

Nicole blushed and ducked her head a little, heat spreading across her cheeks. “I hear you.”

“I don’t want you to get so caught up in it being my first time. It’s our first time. Got it?” Waverly slipped her fingers under Nicole’s chin, lifting her head up to meet her eyes. She softened at the look, tilting her head slightly and not bothering to hide the smirk her lips formed. Brown eyes danced with excitement and warmth and affection.

“Got it.”

“So I made a list. Things I want to try, things I think are gonna really do it for me, things I think would be fun. Toys...”

Nicole’s eyebrows lifted, shock and surprise emanating from her at Waverly’s frankness.

“What? It’s just I’ve never been so excited about sex before. Too much?” Waverly realized that maybe she’d taken things a step too far and started to deflate.

“Nope. This is just kind of a whole other level of awesome. Remember when I said it was brave and amazing you were so honest and open? Turns out it’s a big turn on too.”

“Really?”

“Definitely. And let me repeat—I hear you. It’s us, together in this. And that’s...it’s everything I’ve ever wished for...” Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes and she wiped at them furiously. Who cries during a sex talk?

“Are you crying?” Waverly said. Her smile evident in her voice.

“No. You’re just perfect and this is stupid. I have to leave for two weeks and I’ve got all these stupid feelings. And we have a sexy list...”

“My perfect stupid-self will be here waiting for you when you get back. We’ll have perfect sex and you can have all the stupid feelings that you want and I’ll be right there with you.” Waverly pulled Nicole’s head down to her chest, running her fingers through her hair while she got herself together. Leaning down towards Nicole’s ear she whispered, “I’m having stupid feelings too.”

“They’re actually kind of the best feelings.” Nicole mumbled into Waverly’s chest, where she kept her head buried.

“They really are.” Waverly kissed the top of Nicole’s head. They made quite the pair and she was absolutely crazy about this woman. “Do we need to get you packed?”

Nicole mumbled something unintelligible but Waverly was sure she heard something that sounded suspiciously like ballbuster.

Yep, stupid, wonderful, amazing feelings indeed.

+++++++++++++

“Hiya Chief Nedley, what can I get you today. Your usual?” Waverly had just started her shift and the bar had yet to see its lunch rush. She was still getting the bar area prepped, but Nedley usually only had ice tea with his lunch.

“Just a minute of your time if it’s a possibility.” Nedley nervously spun his hat in his hands a few times. “There are a couple of things I wanted to speak to you about.”

“Is Nicole okay?” Waverly asked, suddenly panicked by his demeanor.

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to alarm you, I guess I didn’t think how that would sound.”

“Well, I have a few minutes if you want to go sit at the booth by the window. I’ll get us a couple of ice teas, unless this is a whiskey kind of conversation?” Waverly was racking her brain trying to figure out what he could want and was starting to get nervous. She quickly poured two iced teas and put in his usual lunch order for him even though he hadn’t asked for it.

She made her way over to the table and took a seat, setting the tea on a napkin in front of him. She folded her hands on the table trying not to fidget and told herself that this was his show and she’d wait for whatever it was he needed to say before she freaked out.

He took a minute to add a diabetes-inducing amount of sugar to his tea before he finally started talking. “I want to say a few things of a personal matter to you, but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” When Waverly didn’t say anything he cleared his throat and continued. “Why don’t I just jump in? Things will make more sense then. I’d like to know what your intentions are with Captain Haught. The situation being what it is with her family I feel like I have a duty to stand in and look after her just a little, you see.” He didn’t lift his eyes from the ice tea glass as he spoke, probably as uncomfortable with this situation as she was, but damn if it didn’t pull at her heartstrings that he was willing to push past and look after one of his officers like this.

“I can assure you that my intentions are honorable Nedley. I think, if we’re doing this then I’ll just be honest and say that I’m falling in love with her.” Waverly did her best not to fidget, she meant what she said and it felt good that the words came so easy to her.

“That’ll do. I just don’t want to see her hurt if you had any intentions of going back to Champ or that you weren't serious about things. She's a good one. And if I do say so myself I think it was high time you sent that man on his way.”

“Thank you for saying that. And thank you for looking out for Nicole. Was there anything else? Or was this sweet old man routine it for the day?” Waverly teased him, knowing that he would appreciate the levity. She understood the enormity of what he’d just done, but she wasn’t going to dwell on it.

“There is one other matter I’d like to discuss.” He paused again, clearing his throat and looking around the bar nervously. He cleared his throat again before continuing. “I would like to ask your Aunt Gus to dinner, but I wanted to check with both you girls. Seeing as how she’s like a mother to you and all.”

No one was going to believe this story when she told it.

“Uh...I think that me and Wynnona would be okay with that. I mean I think it’d be good for Aunt Gus to get out really...I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say.”

“Uh. I’m not sure what I was expected either. I think maybe we decide this conversation never happened. Better for everyone.”

“Are you still going to ask out Aunt Gus?”

“Yes and we’re still going to pretend this never happened.”

“Deal. Your burger and fries will be right up. I went ahead and put in your order.” Waverly knocked her knuckles on the table and she climbed out of the booth. “Good talk.”

Shaking her head she made a beeline for the backroom. Maybe if she hid long enough Nedley would finish his lunch and they wouldn’t have to make any uncomfortable smalltalk. She also needed a few minutes with her phone because there were a few choice gif’s she needed to send her sister ASAP.

Before she could get there and hide away though, she heard someone call her name from the entrance. Damn it.

“Yeah! Coming!” Waverly turned and made her way back to the bar. “Tommy? You lost?”

“No, Miss Earp. These are for you.” Tommy set an enormous bouquet of roses on the bar.

“Wow.” Waverly stared at the flowers. Beautiful, orange roses. She had never seen anything like them. “And I told you to call me Waverly. You’re like a year younger than me.”

“Wow is right Miss...I mean Waverly. We actually had to special order these, not something mom’s ever had requested.” Tommy shuffled his feet nervously. “There’s a card too. I’ll see you later, gotta finish my other deliveries.”

“Bye Tommy.” Waverly answered automatically, already searching for the card. Wrestling it out of the plastic holder she ripped open the tiny envelope.

Research this. 
                -N

Research? Research what? Before she could figure it out someone grabbed the card out of her hand. She looked up to find her sister glaring at it.

“What the hell does that mean? I thought it was gonna be something sappy I could make fun of you about.” Wynnona said.

“Damn it Wy. Go away.” Waverly wanted to enjoy her flowers and the two sweet words on the card that no one other then her and Nicole would understand the true meaning of.

“No, no. Not until I solve this mystery.” Pulling her phone out she started typing. “Google knows everything. Here we go. Huh, that's kinda...Orange roses mean desire, passion, and enthusiasm.”

“What? Let me see that.” Waverly grabbed the phone away from her sister and read the description.

“Did your girlfriend send you flowers that mean she’s excited to do the dirty with you?”

“Yeah. I think that’s exactly what she did.” Waverly beamed, cheeks dimpled, and eyes crinkled.

“Unexpectedly awesome. I think I love your girlfriend.”

“Yeah, me too."

Chapter Text

“You have a perfect face.” Nicole sighed happily. Resting her chin in her hand she leaned closer to the phone. “It’s also great to see your face. I’m sorry the reception up here has been so crappy.” She was cross-legged on her bunk in the dorm, having taken advantage of most everyone out finishing up dinner to call Waverly.

“It’s not like you can control it baby. And thank you. For the face compliment.” Waverly pulled the phone back a little, trying to make her blush a little less noticeable. Face compliment? Get it together, Waverly.

She and Nicole had spoken almost every evening, but this was the first time since she’d left that they had had a good enough signal to try and FaceTime. It made her feel awkward and nervous and excited.

“Hey Waves?”

“Yeah?”

“I miss you.”

It was Waverly’s turn to sigh. “I miss you too.” She studied her girlfriend, as much as she could through the screen. She looked tired. “Only another week right? They won’t try to keep you longer?” She smiled, her tone teasing, but there was a small part of her that was afraid of the answer.

“I wouldn’t let them. I’ve enjoyed it up here and I’m learning so much, but I can’t wait to be back at home. With you.” Nicole had always prided herself on her independence, on not truly needing anyone. Friends, co-workers, girlfriends—she had always kept them compartmentalized, close but not too close. Waverly changed that somehow, without her really even noticing and surprisingly it was a welcome one. She had known when she left that she was falling for the woman and the time apart had only solidified those feelings. She couldn’t wait to get back and really start living her life.

Their life.

“Good. You look tired. Are you okay?” Waverly asked, a little more than worried.

“I’m fine. Just not sleeping great. Remind me on my next rotation to pack earplugs. Some of these guys’ snoring could scare bears away.” Nicole grinned.

“Earplugs and breath-right strips. Anything else we forgot? We were a little rushed.”

“And who’s fault was that?” Nicole smiled, it only growing brighter at Waverly’s scowl.

“Yours. You are illegally good at kissing. I couldn’t help it.” Waverly shook her head, shaking away the images of them the night before Nicole left. She had been resolute in not daydreaming about those last moments together because...well...she was thristy. And thinking about it while Nicole was gone absolutely did not help her situation.

“You look kinda tired too. Are you okay?” Nicole’s smirk said everything. She knew exactly what Waverly was trying desperately not to think about. Too bad her face was an open book to her now.

“I hate you.”

“I told you you could stay at my house. I have things,” Nicole looked over her shoulder to make sure she was still alone. “That could help...”

“And I told you I’m not starting my list without you. And my...” Waverly lowered her voice to a whisper, “thristiness...it’s only part of the problem. I’ve been thinking a lot about my job situation since you’ve been gone and I haven’t been sleeping great.”

Nicole’s demeanor instantly switched from teasing to concerned. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No. Not yet. I want to try and figure this out on my own. It’s been pretty inspiring to see you so in love with your job. I want that too.”

Nicole didn’t push anymore. She could see Waverly wanted more time to think through whatever it was she wanted. “I’ll be here to listen when you’re ready.”

“I know.”

Nicole was at a loss. Every instinct told her to rush back to Purgatory and scoop Waverly up and never let go, to find a job and fix this for her, but she knew how important it was for Waverly to do this for herself. “You’re going to figure it out. You’re the smartest person I know.”

Waverly laughed bitterly. “Says the person who married a doctor.”

“Waves. Look at me.” Nicole waited until her girlfriend was looking directly at the camera. “You are the smartest, most capable person I know. You don’t have to believe me right now, but I’m going to keep reminding you. And I’m in this for as long as you’ll have me by your side.”

As much as she tried to hold it in, tears escaped and she wiped at them embarrassingly. She wasn’t even sure where the well of emotions was coming from. It didn’t feel like a sadness. Frustration? No. Someone truly believing in her? Maybe. Relief that she didn’t feel alone anymore? Missing her girlfriend? Probably a little. Everything?

Yes.

She watched Nicole struggle, knowing not being able to wrap her arms around her right now was tearing the woman apart, but she didn’t offer platitudes or empty promises. She just waited, with understanding shining in her eyes.

Waverly smiled, sadness still emanating from it. “Thank you. I don’t know if you understand how much that means to me.” Only Waverly did think she knew. Nicole understood her in a way no one ever had, seemingly without any effort. Constant and steady, loyal and supportive. Everything she had ever wanted in a partner.

“I think I do. At least a little I hope. I told you I wanted to be your somebody. Also, full disclosure, it’s kind of killing me I can’t hug you right now.”

“I’ll make a hug chart for IOU’s. I could really use one of your hugs, but I’m going to change the subject now, because I’ve had enough of my sorry party.” She wanted to end this call with something way less heavy. “I got some flowers today.”

Nicole lit up. “Yeah? Emma wasn’t sure when they would come in...did you like them?”

“Loved them. I didn’t think it was possible for flowers to be romantic and funny. They were perfect.” Waverly’s smile was so genuinely sweet, just a touch of shyness, and it warmed Nicole’s heart, the feeling spreading over her like a warm blanket.

“Good. I wanted to be able to make you smile even when I wasn’t there.”

“Nicole, just thinking about you makes me smile, but thank you for doing that. You make a girl feel very lucky.”

“No luck, just treating you like you deserve.” Nicole sucked in her lip, biting down the grin. Could she get any sappier? “I hate to cut this short but it’s my turn for food prep and I want to get it knocked out and hopefully get some sleep tonight. We’ll talk again tomorrow yeah?”

“Yeah. Thank you for listening to me, I know you probably need me to be a little more rah-rah for you right now...”

“I just need you to be you. I’d never ask you to be anything different.” Nicole brought the screen up close to her face and kissed it. “Make a chart for IOU kisses too will ya?”

Waverly kissed her back, “Will do. Now go get your prep done Captain Haughtstuff and I’ll call you tomorrow. Bye baby.”

“Bye.” Nicole mock-saluted and ended the call laughing.

+++++++++++

“All right. Let’s go. You’re going to follow me to the grocery store, we’re buying a bunch of junk food, and we are going home and watching some crap tv and talk and then you are going to stop moping.” Wynnona was over it. She had watched Waverly get progressively more forlorn as the days ticked by. “You’re girlfriend has only been gone 10 days. You should be able to handle this better. You’re a professional handler! Usually!”

Wynnona had stormed into the bar, knowing that Waverly had gone into work despite not being scheduled. She knew she was going to have to drag her out of there and get her somewhere where she could talk some sense into her.

“Go away Wynnona. It’s busy tonight and Gus said they could use me.” Waverly knew that she’d been withdrawing over the last few days, but it wasn’t because Nicole was gone. That wasn’t helping of course, but it wasn’t what was really bothering her.

And she didn’t want to talk to her sister about it—at least not without some sort of plan—so she’d gone in to avoidance mode.

“Nope. I know what you’re doing. It’s that avoid thing you do when you don’t want to talk about something.” Wynnona pulled the only card she had left. “Plus I miss my sister. This pod-person isn’t any fun.” Wynnona picked at a spot on the bar and let that hang in the air a few beats before looking up, using her best puppy dog eyes.

“You can’t fix this with junk food.” Waverly was tired. She didn’t want to talk—she wanted to sleep, wanted Nicole to come back—but most of all she wanted to fix her own problems. When Wynnona didn’t let up she finally agreed. “Fine.”

A few hours and a couple different stops for just the right flavor of ice cream later, the two sisters were curled up on the couch with a dvr’d Dancing with the Stars playing.

“I hate this show.” Wynnona whined.

“Yep. Consider it payback for forcing this bonding time.” Waverly shot back.

Wynnona deflated. She’d pushed this on her sister, but she thought that it was going to help. “If you don’t want to be around me...”

Sighing, Waverly got up and started pacing the room. “This isn’t about you. Or Nicole. It’s about me and what I’m not doing with my life.”

“Uh...”

“Right? You wanted to talk. Here it is. I’m a loser townie that works at the same job she’s had since high school.” Waverly had said it out loud. The thing that had been bouncing around her head, getting progressively more suffocating with every phone call or text she received from Nicole about her stint in the wildland post. Not because of anything Nicole was saying, Waverly just desperately wanted to be that passionate about something herself.

Wynnona had severely underestimated the situation. She’d figured a good night of junk food and tv and hanging out and Waverly would get out of her funk. This was way more than she’d prepared for. “That’s not true.”

“It is Wy. It really is. And I’m not saying that I...” Deflated, the anger dissipating as soon as she said the words out loud, she flopped back down on the couch. “I don’t really know what I’m saying. I think I’ve gotten so caught up in my own head this week that I couldn’t see the forest through the trees.”

“I don’t know exactly what that means, but you know that what you said really isn’t true? You’re not a loser.” Waverly had always been smarter than her, always using big words and analogies but Wynnona had figured out the trick to helping her sister was always talking. She didn’t have to have the answers, she just had to help Waverly realize she already had them.

“I know. I’m just feeling sorry for myself and I’m not saying that I can’t do anything about it or that I don’t understand how it ended up happening. What I’m saying is I’m realizing it. I’m a townie. And I have a degree that I haven’t used. If bar tending was my passion it’d be a different story, but seeing Nicole have a career that she loves is a wake up call. I worked so hard for my degree, but I still never left Purgatory, even to graduate. I was so caught up in getting it, I didn’t think beyond having it. But I want something that I’m I’m excited about, not just a job I show up to and clock in and out of.”

“So what do you want to do?” Wynnona’s curiosity was genuine.

“I don’t know! That’s why I got so mopey. And so caught up in my head and I totally was avoiding you because I knew you’d drag it out of me. I wanted to have a plan myself and fix it myself.”

“Baby girl, the beauty of me moving back here to be closer to you is that you don’t have to fix it all yourself anymore. I know I haven’t always been the best sister, but I’m here now.” Wynnona knew she had some things to make up for, but most of all she wanted to make sure Waverly knew she had her back.

“This turned way sappier than our usual sister nights.” Waverly felt a little ridiculous about how far in her own head she got. She was so used to doing things on her own, old habits died hard.

“Yep. So what do you do with a degree in Ancient shit?” Wynnona could see the wheels turning, could see some of the heaviness lifting from Waverly and she was glad she’d gone with her gut and dragged her out of the bar. Even if she’d been totally wrong about the why’s.

Waverly snorted and slapped her sister. “Teach. Open an antique store. Translate stuff.”

“That....all sounds incredibly boring.”

“It does. That’s why I can’t figure out what the hell to do with my life. The only thing I know for sure is that for some reason I haven’t wanted to leave this god-forsaken town. And I especially don’t want to now. You’re here. Nicole’s here...it doesn’t leave me with a whole lot of options.”

“Well, let’s do some research. I bet we can find something.”

“I do love research.”

“Too bad research isn’t like a full time job.”

“Wynnona!! What if it could be? I think I can work with this. This is a thing I can work with.” Waverly squealed. Excitement coursed through her and she finally felt like she had a direction. Her degree had given her tunnel vision and she hadn’t been able to shake it. “I guess there is something to this talking about things out loud.” She bumped shoulders with Wynnona and she felt better than she had in days. Longer maybe, if you factored out the Nicole-effect on her life. God that woman made her happy.

“Glad I could help. Not to burst your bubble but can I ask one more thing?”

“Sure...”

“This job thing isn’t about Nicole is it? I’m pretty sure you could bum around selling apples or some shit and she’d love you just as much.” Wynnona kept her eyes on the tv, feigning casualness.

“She’s not in love—“

“I’m going to butt in and just say—Nah, girl you blind. Answer my question.”

“You really think she—”

“I have eyes. Of course I think that. You think she’s just gonna blurt it out the first time it pops in her head? You love her too so...” Wynnona shrugged, as if this shouldn’t be some earth shattering revelation. “Now answer my damn question before this guy gets terrible scores and we have to roast him.”

“No, it doesn’t. I was frustrated with myself and about my life before I even met her. Champ was...not good for me and I let myself forget about me and what I want out of life while I was with him. Nicole’s just helped me find my confidence again and I know she’d support me in whatever. She makes me feel brave and happy and like I could save the world.”

“Lovesick.” Wynnona coughed out, laughing when Waverly shoved her. “Just checking. I don’t want you to change for somebody or do something because you think she’d like it. Are you fixed now? Time to bust open the whiskey?”

“Sure, you dork. I’ll just be over here stuffing my face and half watching. I’ve got some thinking to do on this research idea. Whiskey will probably help that.”

“I can put some feelers out if you want. I’ve met a few people along the way...”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I kinda want to see if I can make this work on my own first though. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

“Is that everything you needed sir?” Nicole asked, impatience coloring her tone. Chief Nedley had wanted her to come by and do her debrief and reports immediately upon returning from the support station. Which epically screwed up her plan to go straight out to Waverly’s. And now that it was reaching almost 10:00PM she knew that wasn't in the cards. She was back a little early and Waverly wasn’t expecting her until the morning so at least she wasn’t going to be disappointing her.

“One more thing.” Nedley looked at the woman across from him and he knew she was ready to get home, but he had to confess his total lack of boundaries earlier in the week. “I wanted to let you know I talked to Waverly. I’m sure she’s going to tell you...I think I overstepped, but I wanted to make sure she was serious. I was planning on only talking to her about her Aunt Gus and before I knew it I was asking her intentions with you.”

Nicole’s eyebrows rose. “Um....I...okay.” Nicole didn’t know what to say. It was a little odd that he was meddling with her personal life, but it was so nice that someone was looking after her after so many years of being on her own that she couldn’t really fault him for it. If he didn’t act so uncomfortable she actually might have had a bigger issue with it, but he seemed genuine, if not a little remorseful. She decided that she didn’t really need to add anything more to his admission and changed the subject away from herself. “Is her Aunt all right?”

Nedley was visibly embarrassed. His cheeks stained red and he was staring down at the desk, unwillingly to look at her. “Yes. I was wanting to ask her to dinner so I was asking Waverly if that was acceptable. I keep finding myself in conversations that I don’t want to continue, so let’s just leave it alone and I’m going to stop playing the meddling old man.”

Again, Nicole was visibly surprised. Who was this man and where did their hard-ass chief go? “I’ll agree to that sir if I can leave now.”

“Done. Before you go though, I’ll give you a little warning too—Waverly is a special one and she’s had a hard life. So you can’t go screwing it up either. Now get out of here.” Nedley waved her out and went back to his paperwork, not looking back up from it as Nicole left his office.

Relieved that both her two-week rotation and what might be the weirdest conversation she’d ever had with her boss were finally over she trudged out to her car, looking forward to crashing out in her own bed.

She sent a quick text to Waverly letting her know she was back early and that she would see her first thing in the morning. Every bone in her body was screaming to go see her, but she knew she needed sleep and showing up on Waverly’s doorstep unannounced this late in the evening wasn’t really fair to her girlfriend.

Fifteen minutes later as she pulled up to her house she was surprised to find Waverly’s red jeep parked in her driveway. Buzzing with excitement she threw the car in park and rushed into the house.

“Waves?” She yelled, as she burst through the front door.

“Up here!”

Nicole took the stairs two at a time and followed the sound of someone's angry muttering, the source coming from down the hall in her bedroom. Peeking around the doorway she saw Waverly unpacking an overnight bag. When Nicole’s weight shifted to a particularly noisy floorboard the creaking caused Waverly to spin around.

“You would be in so much trouble right now if I wasn’t so happy to see you!” The tiny woman launched herself at Nicole and she barely had time to react before she caught her, Waverly’s legs wrapping around her waist. Spinning them around, Nicole dumped them both on the bed laughing.

“God I missed you.” Nicole buried her face in the crook of Waverly’s neck, breathing in deeply. She felt absolutely at peace, at home in Waverly’s arms.

“So much that you were going to wait to see me in the morning?” Waverly slapped at Nicole’s back.

Nicole’s head shot up. “Baby, the only thing I could think about today was showing up on your front porch, but it was so late and I wasn’t sure if you had plans because we didn’t know if I would make it back tonight and—“

“Nicole, just shut up and kiss me. You can be adorable and apologetic later.”

She didn’t waste another second and closed the gap between them, and pressed her lips against Waverly’s.

Waverly kissed back without hesitation. And as Nicole pushed into her, one of her hands cupped Waverly’s cheek, the other pushed into the mattress holding her up. She shifted her hips as Nicole turned her body so that her torso was practically on top of hers. The kiss became passionate very quickly. Waverly’s teeth grazed Nicole’s bottom lip before she slipped her tongue in. Moaning, Waverly opened her mouth wider giving Nicole’s tongue entrance.

When they finally pulled apart Nicole opened her mouth to apologize again but was cut off by Waverly. “Don’t apologize. I get it, it was sweet of you to respect my boundaries or whatever but there was no way I was going to get any sleep knowing you were here.”

“Think you’ll be able to go and get some sleep now?” Nicole rolled off of Waverly and tried to cover her own yawn.

“Yeah, because that’s what I’m going to do.” Waverly’s eyes rolled and Nicole couldn’t help but grin. “Just head back to my place. You are so dense sometimes. I’m about to get you stuffed into some PJ’s and get under the covers with you. I’m staying here, nerd.”

“Yeah?” Nicole’s eyes lit up and she couldn’t help her eyes darting to Waverly’s lips, then sliding further down to her chest.

“Yep, but don’t get too excited there lady killer. One—you look like you’re about ready to drop dead and two—someone made me wait this long so I am holding out until I get my special, perfect date night.”

Nicole narrowed her eyes at the implication. “I can control myself. You’re the one with the wandering hands when you sleep.” Laughing as Waverly tried to push her off the bed, she rolled back over and settled on top of her. “I can behave if you can.” Nicole smiled, rolling her hips just slightly and she bent down to kiss Waverly, swallowing the brunette’s gasp.

Waverly pushed her off again and sat up, Nicole still laying next to her in bed. “Nobody likes a tease. Now go get ready for bed. I want to make sure you’re well rested for tomorrow night. I’m off work and I fully expect you to deliver on your promise.” When Nicole didn’t get up immediately Waverly slapped her ass a few times. “Come on Haught. No falling asleep yet.”

Nicole groaned, but followed instructions. “You being this bossy is making me kinda hot for you.” Waverly’s only response was a snort and a shake of her head. “And being this tired is making me a little punch drunk. I think I need to stop talking.”

“Yeah, it’s a good thing you’re cute. I'll be nice and ignore the "kinda" part of that statement.” Waverly said, pushing Nicole off towards the bathroom. “Go!”

“I—“ Nicole stopped herself, the words thankfully catching in her throat. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Nicole hurried out of the room, not looking back at Waverly’s confused face. She’d just about blurted out I love you after being back with her for all of ten minutes. So not the time, Haught.

She was an absolute gay disaster.

++++++++++++

So it turned out she couldn’t control her hands.

Oh well.

Her arm was wrapped around Waverly’s waist, holding her close, her hand finding its way to bare skin, the tips of her fingers dipping under Waverly’s waistband.

“Am I dreaming?” A muffled, sleep-ridden voice broke the silence.

“Yes,” Nicole replied quietly. “I have this one all the time, it’s the best. Ends pretty good too...we should take off all our clothes now and get started...”

“Smooth, Haught.”

Smiling into Waverly’s shoulder, she kissed the bear skin where her shirt had shifted down. “I’m not always a gay mess around you.”

“Yes, you are.” Waverly rolled over, her smile teasing.

“Yeah. I am.” Nicole snuggled them back together and drifted in a half-sleep haze, content with just holding her.

A few minutes later Waverly spoke up again. “So Haughtstuff what’s the plan for today?”

“Well...I guess I’m kicking you out. If you want your super special date I have a few things to get ready...” Nicole felt like an Grade A Asshole as soon as the words left her mouth, but that’s what Waverly had wanted. The look she was getting from Waverly wasn’t helping her feel any better.

Pouting. The girl had some major puppy dog eyes.

“Seriously?”

“I don’t know what the right answer is.” She sighed, knowing what she really wanted, but she also really, really wanted this evening to be romantic and she had what she thought was the perfect plan.

Waverly sighed too and snuggled in closer to her girlfriend. Why had she made such a big deal out of this? Was it too late to go back and say fuck it? Let’s do this? Who needs romance? “I guess I’ll leave. A little unwillingly, mind you but it’ll all be worth it when I’ll see you later?”

“Definitely.” Nicole had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, but if it was what Waverly wanted she could deal. “Nobody says I’m kicking you out just yet...we probably have a little while to stay here together...”

“Good, because I wasn’t nearly ready to pry myself away from you.”

“There’s no where else I’d rather be in this entire world either, baby.”

++++++++++++

An hour later as she watched Waverly pull out of the driveway Nicole realized she was a complete and total idiot.

She couldn’t do this.

What had she been thinking?

++++++++++++

Waverly pulled up to the homestead, still a little upset about being booted out of Nicole’s house so early. Who needed that long to get ready for a date? And why did she agree to leave in the first place? A simple concession and confession about their “perfect date” and she could have stayed. She could see it in Nicole’s eyes, she didn’t want her to leave either.

They were both idiots.

They weren’t meeting until much later and now she didn’t know what to do with herself all day. She parked beside a red camaro and she racked her brain trying to figure out who’s it could be. Wynnona was already home last night when she left, but maybe she’d gone back out?

She really, really hoped that whoever said company was, they were just passed out in her sister's room. She wasn’t in the mood for playing hostess.

The second she opened the front door her brain started screaming for her to run away, but her feet didn’t get the memo fast enough.

“Jesus Christ! No, no, no, no! This is not happening!” Waverly covered her eyes with her hand but made no move to walk back out. The damage had already been done.

“My apologies ma’am. If you could just keep your eyes closed another moment I’ll be out of your view.” Doc Holliday used his cowboy hat to cover his...gun and practically ran out of the kitchen.

Wynnona wasn’t helping the situation.

At all.

“Are you done laughing? That’s our brand new counter top and I’m never going to be able to touch it. EVER.”

“I thought you’d be at Nicole’s all day. We were just christening a few things...”

“What else have you...nope...never mind don’t answer that. Why did he still have his hat on?”

Wynnona shrugged and hopped off the counter, tugging her pants back up in one single lotion. “He never takes it off.”

“Um...is everything okay?” Nicole asked from the doorway. She’d heard enough from outside to get the gist of what happened and a part of her was thankful she was a few minutes behind Waverly and she wouldn't have that image of her co-worker burned into her brain.

“Oh thank god. Please tell me you came to your senses and you’re here to rescue me?”

“Well...I pulled my head out of my ass and realized I can be romantic and sexy without being away from you all day. Rescuing you is just a bonus.” Nicole took a few more steps into the house and Waverly wrapped an arm around her waist. “I’m only a little sorry I didn’t come to my senses before you left the house. I’m kinda glad we got to interrupt Wynnona for once...”

Waverly opened her mouth to pile on the embarrassment but Wynnona beat her to it.

“Har-har. You’re both assholes. Now get out of here so I can finish and you two can start.” She pushed them both back out the front door, despite Waverly’s protests that she needed to grab a few things from her room.

“You can swing by later. Just text first. We might christen the couch next.”

The door slammed in their face and they burst out laughing.

Gathering herself first Nicole spoke up. “Come on, baby. Come home with me?” She held her hand out for Waverly and smiled when their fingers linked together naturally.

“With pleasure.”

Chapter Text

Nicole’s hands were wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, her left leg bouncing incessantly and she was keeping her eyes glued to the road in front of her, refusing to let herself look to her right.

“Nicole?”

“Yeah?” She replied, eyes still staring straight ahead.

“Everything all right over there?” Waverly asked, not able to hide the smug tone from her voice.

“Yep. Perfectly fine. Why?”

“You have a death grip on the steering wheel, your leg is doing it’s best to bounce itself out of the car and you haven’t looked at me since we left the homestead.” Waverly reached across the console and pried one of her girlfriend’s hands off the wheel. She threaded their fingers together and rested them on her thigh.

Nicole’s eyes finally slid to the side, glancing at her. “I’m...something.” She sped the car up slightly, trying to cut off a few agonizing moments of the drive to her house.

“Something?” Waverly asked. “Something good or something bad?”

“Definitely good.” Nicole stole another look and smiled, squeezing their joined hands. She turned the blinker on and slowed, turning into her driveway and sighed, relieved that they were finally back. She didn’t bother to explain anymore and as soon as the car was in park she hopped out and jogged around the back, opening Waverly’s door for her. She held her hand out and tugged the other woman out of the car, pulling her up the front steps and into the house.

It wasn’t clear who moved first, but in a flash they were kissing. Nicole pushed the front door shut with her foot and spun them around, pinning Waverly up against it, lips never leaving each other.

Waverly’s hands slipped up Nicole’s back and into thick, red hair, capturing Nicole’s head and holding it still. Nicole pulled back and stared directly into her eyes.

“I...I love you.” Nicole whispered. “And I don’t want you to say anything back right now, but I wanted you to know...so you can feel everything and know that it’s real and know that you’re being loved.” Nicole hadn’t planned to tell her, but on the drive over she decided it only seemed to fit. She wanted Waverly to feel loved and wanted and needed and if she wasn’t going to do it with a grand, romanticized date first she was at the very least going to honest about her feelings.

Wide-eyed and a little stunned, Waverly nodded a few times and pulled Nicole back in, this time softer and slower but every bit as erotic. Waverly suddenly pushed Nicole back and unzipped her jacket, wrestling out of it and dropping it to the floor. Nicole watched as she grasped the bottom of her t-shirt and pulled it over her head, dropping it on the floor too.

She sucked in a breath at the sight of Waverly standing in front of her, in a barely there bra, chest heaving. “Are you sure?” Nicole murmured, her voice hardly working.

“So sure.”

Nicole stepped forward again raising both her hands to Waverly’s face, tucking her hair behind her ears. She slipped one hand down, tracing a finger across her jaw and down her neck and around her breast, her finger trailing across the bottom. Never breaking eye contact, she kept up a steady rhythm, one finger back and forth teasing underneath and she used her other hand to pull Waverly’s mouth back to hers. She came willingly, her lips already parted and the heat spread through her, sharply.

Waverly stepped forward, moving them towards the stairs, but unwillingly to pry herself away from Nicole. They stumbled and bumped into furniture and tripped up the stairs, shedding clothes as they went. Finally landing in a heap on Nicole’s bed, bodies melded together.

Waverly had landed on top and she kissed her with every ounce of feeling poured into it. Their legs were intertwined and Waverly’s thigh was nestled between two longer ones. Nicole pushed against it, finding a rhythm as the tension pooled in her belly. Waverly pushed up again, pulling her thigh away and smirking.

“Don’t think you’re getting off that easy baby....god you’re beautiful.” She slid down, attacking Nicole’s neck with an open mouth and kissed her way towards her breasts, not slowing as she captured a nipple in her mouth, swirling her tongue around it, teasing and sucking.

Nicole moaned and shifted, seeking a release from the torturous mouth. She ran her hands into Waverly’s hair, desperate to stay tethered, but she was slowly coming undone underneath her. Waverly continued her path downward and kissed the taunt stomach, gliding her tongue across it, lower and lower.

She shifted again, pulling Nicole’s thighs apart and she settled herself on her knees in between them.

Looking up at Nicole’s face, she watched as her eyes slid open at the pause and her breathing was reduced to ragged gasps, anticipation for what was coming. “I want this.”

“Take it. Take me, baby.” Nicole murmured, hips twitching as thumbs grazed across sensitive skin. She tried to slow her breathing, but when another swipe crossed her center she whimpered.

“I’ve got you.” Waverly said, encouraged by the sound, she spread apart glistening folds and slid her tongue in, exploring, tasting and pushing Nicole closer and closer to the edge. She shifted one hand palm-side up and began to flick one finger up and down, closer and closer to her opening.

“Oh...Waves...please...oh god...” Nicole voice pitching higher, words coming out in a shortened staccato. Knowing she was moments from tumbling over the edge, Nicole grabbed Waverly’s wrist and stilled it.

Worried, Waverly looked up immediately, concern painting her features. Nicole shook her head, knowing the question before Waverly found her voice. “One more second of that and this would be over, I want to be there with you this first time. Come here.” Nicole tugged her up so they were face to face and then used her size to roll them over, straddling the smaller woman.

Leaning down, she kissed soft, swollen lips, tasting herself and moaning into it. One hand trailed down Waverly’s front, cupping one of her breasts and she flicked her thumb across a very erect nipple. She continued the path until her hand reached warmth and wetness and she wasted no time sliding two fingers in. Waverly moaned at the sensation, of that first exquisite contact with long, slender fingers. “Fuck...”

She pushed into Nicole’s hand, desperate for more, her own hand fumbling to get positioned. Nicole shuffled her knees up, spreading her legs wider and Waverly slid her hand into curls, pushing into wetness. Rocking her own hips harder and faster she sank two fingers in and withdrew them, adding a third and pushing in again. She curled her fingers forward, her palm flat against Nicole’s swollen clit, moving at the pace set by Nicole’s hips.

Nicole felt herself reaching the edge, fingers pushing deeper and deeper, and she pressed her face into Waverly’s neck. Suddenly Waverly cried out, her hips jerking erratically, the contractions squeezing at Nicole’s fingers.

She needed to see Waverly’s face, but her own orgasm had kicked off at the sound of Waverly crashing over the edge and the pleasure was so intense she couldn’t focus, couldn’t stop her own thrusting and the spasms were radiating deep from within.

Waverly used her free arm to pull her down, keeping them connected and didn’t pull her hand out as Nicole followed suit. Feeling the spasms slowly dissipate, she smiled into Nicole’s shoulder, kissing her lightly.

With some effort, Nicole opened her eyes and lifted her head, looking down into eyes full of tenderness and wonder.

“You’re amazing Waverly Earp.” Nicole couldn’t help but kiss her again, softly.

“Me? I’ve never...I’ve never felt like this in my life. Floaty and wild and sated and perfect. This is what perfect feels like.”

“I’m going to move my hand now.” Nicole pulled out slowly, smiling a little when Waverly’s hips twitched again. “This is what perfect feels like. And it’s just the beginning.”

“Yeah?” Waverly started to rock her hand again, doubling her efforts at Nicole’s moan. She pushed up and managed to flip them, Nicole rolling all to willingly onto her back. Waverly grinned triumphantly, shifting herself back in between Nicole’s open legs.

“I don’t think I can...”

“You can, I know it. Do it for me, I need to make you come undone again.” Waverly kept pushing deeper, her fingertips hitting a spot that made Nicole’s toes curl and her fists clench. Before long, she had the woman beneath her moaning and bucking. Thrusting harder and faster she coaxed her closer and closer to coming undone again.

“You’re so wet, you feel amazing. So good...” Waverly kept murmuring nothings and encouragement, in awe of the way Nicole responded to her.

“Oh god, I’m coming, I’m coming again.” Nicole screamed out, unable to control herself. Her body taunt, pleasure rolled through her, blocking everything else out around her.

She came explosively, soaking Waverly’s hand. Waverly slowed her movements, not sliding her fingers out until Nicole stopped trembling. She wiped her hand on the sheet before crawling up and settling herself beside the red head, curling into her side and throwing an arm over her waist.

“I think I’m blind. You blinded me.”

Waverly laughed. “Your eyes are closed.”

“Paralyzed then. I can’t feel my legs.”

“Guess we’ll just never leave this bed.”

“Deal.” Nicole pried open her eyes and turned her head, taking in the very smug-looking face next to her. “You wrecked me babe, I wanna love you again but what if we just closed our eyes for a few minutes first?”

Waverly’s only answer was to grab the comforter from where it landed on the floor and throw it over the both of them. Snuggling back into Nicole’s side, she kissed her collarbone and closed her own eyes.

+++++

The rest of the day was spent in bed, learning every inch of each other. Waverly didn’t know she could be that aggressive, that needy and loud. She didn’t know someone could be that vulnerable while completely in control. Nicole just...knew her.

They had just finished a dinner of ice cream and pizza and Waverly was curled up in bed, the covers haphazardly thrown over her legs, still reveling in the day's activities. Nicole had just made her way back from taking their dishes downstairs and was flopped down beside her.

“So tonight part of my original plan...before we got distracted...was to take you outside, set up a nice picnic blanket and some wine, and watch a meteor shower.” Nicole cradled her head in her hands and watched Waverly’s reaction. “It’s called the Lyrid Meteor Shower and with the new moon it should be perfect visibility tonight. It can have surges of up to 100 meteors in an hour.”

“So we’ll lay out in the dark together?”

“And drink wine.”

“And stare at the sky?” Waverly was really trying to get excited. Her brain knew this was an uber-romantic thing people did, but staring at a blank sky...just didn’t seem like something she’d enjoy. Too much down time, not enough to occupy her mind. Seeing a shooting start or two or a hundred would be pretty amazing though. “Are those the ones your’re supposed to wish on?”

“Yeah, do you think that sounds like a nice evening? Get out of the house a little?” Nicole was grinning, knowing Waverly’s thoughts even if she didn’t voice them.

“I’ve never seen one before so yes it does sound nice.”

Nicole poked at Waverly’s leg, laughing a little. “Waves, do you really think I don’t know you well enough to realize sitting for hours staring at the sky would be torture for you?” She rolled off the bed and walked over to her dresser. She pulled something out of the top drawer and hid it behind her back.

“I think torture is a strong word.” Waverly pouted a little. “It’ll be romantic, sitting under the stars with you.”

“It will, but I got you something to read while we watch for the shower to start.” Nicole pulled a book out from behind her back, a simple bow adorning one corner. “Punga Porcorum. Did I say it right?”

Waverly stepped forward and took the book out of Nicole’s hands, in awe of such a thoughtful gift. “No, you butchered it.” Waverly held the book to her chest, clutching it tightly. “How did you get this? I’ve only ever seen digital images of it...I can’t even believe you remembered me talking about it.”

“I remember everything you tell me and I had a little help from a guy I know. Jeremy. Super genius, works with computers. We met in college, he said it was just a little creative copying and pasting and then I had it printed into book form online.” Nicole shrugged, as if creating an obscure Latin poem book from digital images was nothing.

Waverly closed the gap between them and kissed Nicole softly, lingering on soft lips. “This is the sweetest, single most thoughtful gift I’ve ever been given.”

“You deserve it.” Nicole blushed under such intense scrutiny. “I flipped through it, couldn't read it obviously...but does every word really start with P?”

“Yes! It’s what makes it so fascinating. Even the guy’s footnotes start with P!” Waverly was already flipping through the pages eagerly.

“Wow. That sounds like...something. I got you a book light too. One with low light so your eyes won’t have to adjust if I find you a falling star to wish on.” Nicole watched as Waverly flipped page after page, her smile growing bigger with every turn.

Waverly looked up from the book and was overwhelmed by the look of tenderness and love Nicole was giving her. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

“I think that’s a question I should be asking. I wonder every day how I got so lucky.” Nicole kissed her lightly and tugged on her arm. “Come on. You’re going to need clothes on even though we’ll just be in the backyard. I’ll go get the blanket and wine ready.”

“Clothes are stupid.”

“They are but they’ll be fun to take off you later.”

“Fair point.” Waverly pushed Nicole towards the door. “Go. I have a weird Latin poem book to read and some wishes to make. I’ll meet you out back.”

Waverly dug through the few clothes she had stashed in Nicole’s drawer but opted for her girlfriend’s fire-station issue hoodie and sweats. She was swimming in them, but she felt cozy and comfortable and they smelled like Nicole.

Tucking the book under her arm, she snagged the open bottle of wine and glasses sitting on the kitchen counter and made her way outside. Nicole had made quick work of getting them set up. Pillows, blankets, and even some chocolate. She crossed the back lawn and handed the wine and glasses to Nicole.

“Thanks. You want a full glass or half?”

“Full. You really didn’t even have to ask.”

Nicole laughter sounded more beautiful in the quiet, night air. She poured Waverly a glass and finished the bottle off in her own. “Here you go. Happy reading.”

“Are you sure it’s okay that I read?” Waverly suddenly felt a little guilty, knowing how absorbed she could get with a book.

“Of course. My favorite thing is being near you, doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as your happy, I’m happy.” Nicole patted the spot next to her on the ground. “I put some padding under that blanket so we weren’t sitting on anything hard.”

“You spoil me.”

Her only response was a shrug of her shoulder. She sipped her wine and half-watched the sky and half-watched Waverly dive into her book. It had been the perfect day and now her dream evening to top it off.

After a quiet hour, the only sounds coming from the crickets and the odd sip of wine Waverly set her book down and turned towards Nicole.

“Hey Nicole?”

“Yes?” Nicole leaned forward and gave Waverly a quick peck on the lips.

“Do you remember when we first met and you told me that I deserved someone who listened to me and cared about my feelings?”

“Yeah...”

“I feel like you hear me even without me saying a word. Like this morning. I love you too.”

Nicole’s eyes burned with emotion brought on by all the feelings caused from hearing those four words from Waverly. Hot tears ran down her cheeks and she clung to Waverly’s shoulders. Waverly continued to cradle her until the tears slowed, then finally stopped all together. “Sorry. I don’t know why I’m crying.”

“Happy tears?”

“So happy...I love you more than I could have ever dreamed of loving anyone.”

“Me too.” Waverly snuggled under Nicole’s arms and curled around her side. She weaved their fingers together and kissed the top of Nicole’s hands and then her cheeks and finally her lips, lingering there until her own eyes started to burn, holding tears at bay.

Nicole held her, the two content to just be, until Nicole’s head turned suddenly. “Look! It’s starting!” She pointed up as several meteors streamed across the sky. “You going to make your wish?”

“I think I already have mine.” Waverly kissed Nicole again and the two quickly lost themselves in each other, the show in sky all but forgotten.

Chapter Text

“Thanks for cooking us dinner.” Nicole leaned down and gave Waverly’s shoulder a kiss, not wanting to disturb her stirring the spaghetti sauce.

“Nothing special, but I know how you eat when you’re on duty.” Waverly added pasta to a boiling pot and set the oven to pre-heat. “I’m just pretty glad I have this fancy stove and fancy kitchen to cook in for you.” She stalked over towards Nicole and started to back her up against the cabinets.

Grinning, Nicole let herself be trapped. “What is it about this kitchen?”

Waverly nipped at Nicole’s neck, hands trailing up and down her back. “Must be the shiny granite countertop, it’s some kind of aphrodisiac for...”

Nicole slid her hands inside Waverly’s shirt, running her hands across taunt abs. “For...”

A loud bang made them jump apart and Wynnona smirked at them both. “For hungry people. Do you two ever lay off it?”

Waverly glared at her sister, but didn’t bother answering. She went back to the stove and stirred the sauce, blatantly ignoring her.

“Hi Wynnona.” Nicole couldn’t help but laugh. The woman was half-cocked and a little bit crazy, but she loved her sister so she had to love her too.

“Captain Haughtstuff.” Wynnona grabbed a glass from the cupboard and poured herself a generous amount of whiskey and took a seat at the table. “When do you think this horn-dog inducing kitchen is gonna be done?” Wynnona pointed at Waverly’s back. “That one over there isn’t going to suddenly dump you when it’s finished if that’s what we’re waiting on.”

“Wynnona!” Waverly yelled, waving her spoon at her sister. “She’s been busy. Leave her alone. And speaking of dumping...I heard something today.” Waverly expertly changed the subject. She didn’t want to talk about how every time Nicole came over to finish the last of the tile, they ended up finishing each other.

“What?” Wynnona said gruffly. She glared at a chuckling Nicole and took a drink. “That I cut Doc off?”

“That’s what you’re calling it?” Nicole chimed in. She’d heard the guys talking at the station a few days ago and there had been a weird stand-off/stare-off between Doc and Dolls that she decidedly ignored.

Wynnona sighed. How she became that girl that spilled her guts in the kitchen to her sister she’d never know. “Doc is a good time, but that’s all. He made it pretty clear in the beginning that’s all he wanted and maybe...maybe I’m at a point where that’s not as appealing as it used to be.”

“Wow.” Waverly had turned from her cooking and was staring at her sister. “That might be the most mature thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“Yeah, well it’s you two dicks’ fault. Seeing you be all stupid and happy must be getting to me.” Wynnona covered her smile with another drink. “Besides, there’s just something about Dolls I can’t quite shake.”

“I bet.” Waverly mumbled under her breath. She let Nicole and Wynnona’s conversation fade into the background when they started discussing some ghost show of all things, a clear change in subject from Wynnona who’d reached her limit on sharing.

After they’d eaten and settled in to watch a little tv together, Waverly noticed Nicole’s mood start to shift. “You all right baby?” She whispered in her ear, quiet enough not to be overheard by Wynnona.

Nicole turned and kissed her softly. “Yeah, yeah I’m good.” She didn’t expand her answer anymore and for the rest of the evening stayed fairly quiet, only chiming in a few times here and there with some inane commentary about whatever they were watching.

She could feel Waverly’s eyes on her every so often, but she wasn’t about to let on that anything was wrong. It would pass, like it always did, after tomorrow.

++++++++++

“What?” Nicole answered her phone, irritation seething through her tone.

“Well hello to you to Nic.” Shay shot back.

“Hello Dr. Pressman. What can I do for you?” Nicole returned, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “I just got home and I’m tired and I don’t really want to chit-chat.” She sat down hard on the couch and waited.

“I only called because I know what tomorrow is. How are you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Are we still doing that? Where you don’t want me to notice that you hole yourself up once a year, cut off communication with everyone and brood all day? Fine.” Shay huffed into the phone.

“Good.”

“Jesus. I don’t even know why I called. I think I half-hoped you wouldn’t answer because you were with Waverly.”

“She doesn’t need to be around me right now. I’ll be fine after tomorrow.” Nicole ran a hand through her hair, frustration seeping through her.

“I won’t gloat you’re acknowledging you have a day.” Shay paused and when Nicole didn’t offer anything she continued. “I won’t keep you. I just think that if you were ever going to talk to someone about whatever tomorrow is for you...talk to her. Let her in, I think she’s the one that can finally help you carry whatever this burden is.”

For a long few moments the only sound over the phone was breathing. Shay didn’t add anything else and Nicole didn’t answer.

Finally Nicole’s voice cut through the silence with whisper, “Goodbye Shay.” She hit end call and threw the phone on the coffee table.

She rubbed her hands over her face stared at the phone. A part of her knew Shay was right, but another, bigger part of her was too scared to even think about it.

++++++++++

Waverly frowned at her phone. It had been strangely silent all morning. She was used to the playful banter her and Nicole kept up throughout the day and the odd Snapchat when Nicole had time at work. Today there hadn’t even been a single emoji sent since that morning’s exchange of I love you texts. She tried not to worry but it wasn’t typical behavior for them after being together for the last few months.

Deciding to be positive about the situation and not start herself on a downward spiral she put in Nicole’s usual lunch order. She would sinply deliver it to the station, check in and if Nicole was busy—then she was just busy.

The only problem was Waverly couldn’t seem to ignore the anxiety clawing at her belly. Something didn’t feel right and she hoped it was nothing more than her over-active imagination.

Within minutes she had Nicole’s lunch in hand—sans pickles, as she had learned the hard way were not her girlfriend’s favorites—and headed out towards the fire station. As she approached she could see the trucks in their bays so at least there wasn’t a call everyone was out on.

She stepped into the main bay and was immediately spotted by Doc, who started away down the hall, still unable to make eye contact with her after all these weeks. Dolls was the next to notice her and he waved her in.

“That for me?” Dolls smiled, a rarity, but he seemed like he was in a better-than-normal mood for him.

“I only make deliveries for redheads.” Waverly shrugged, “Sorry.”

“Redheads?” Dolls looked confused for a moment. “Nicole called off sick today. She didn’t tell you?”

“No. No, she didn’t.” Waverly’s thoughts immediately jumped back to the prior evening at the homestead when Nicole had definitely not shown any signs of coming down with anything. Distracted maybe, a little quiet too, but Waverly figured that was because she was headed back on a full shift—not just the couple of halves she’d covered that week—for the first time after her rotation at the rural station. “I guess I’ll just have to take this out to her place and check on her.” Waverly turned on her heel and marched out of the station, ignoring her name being called from behind her.

She sent a text to Rosita telling her she didn’t know if she’d be back, but to call if things got too crazy at the bar and she’d figure something out. She sent another text to Nicole to see if it was going to go unanswered too, before jumping in her jeep and heading out.

++++++++++

Nicole cranked the music up a little louder in her makeshift workout room in her garage and went back to the heavybag.

Punch, punch, kick.

Punch, punch, kick.

Punch, punch, kick.

She lost track of time and was absorbed in the repetition of the workout until the music suddenly clicked off and she lost her rhythm. Whirling around, she maintained her fight stance not sure what was happening.

“Well you don’t look sick.” Waverly stood just inside the open garage door, sun hitting her back making it hard to see her face. She had flicked off the radio when her first few attempts at getting Nicole’s attention went unanswered. Seeing her girlfriend’s aggressive reaction to the intrusion definitely had her on high alert. There was something wrong here, but it obviously wasn’t the flu.

Nicole relaxed her stance immediately once she realized who it was and took her gloves off, throwing them on the workbench. Taking a few long strides across the concrete floor she closed the gap between them. “Hey babe.”

“Don’t ‘hey babe’ me. What’s going on?” Arms crossed defensively, Waverly waited to see what Nicole’s excuse was going to be.

“Nothing you need to be worried about.” Nicole answered plainly.

“Nothing I need to be worried about! Are you kidding me right now? I haven’t heard from you all day—which yeah, we’re adults but we have this thing we do all day for months and then you suddenly go radio silent on me so I go to check on you at the station and you’re not there because apparently you’re sick. And clearly that’s a lie. So no need to be worried? Yeah, sure Nicole. Try again.” Waverly was livid. And scared. And everything in between.

Nicole started pacing the length of the garage, her own anger and frustration building. She was raw enough already and now confronted with a pissed off girlfriend it was too much. She couldn’t keep it together and she was kicking herself for not having a better plan, for not doing things different, for not having the guts to talk to Waverly earlier. Now she was on the verge of losing everything anyway, when all she’d wanted to do was shield Waverly from this part of her. “It’s complicated and I didn’t want you to worry.” She stopped her pacing and looked at Waverly, hoping that it would be enough. Deep down, knowing it wouldn’t.

“Well that’s the opposite of what happened. Talk to me.” Waverly softened her tone and started to walk towards Nicole slowly. She could see the woman spiraling out of control and it was scaring the absolute shit out of her. Her Nicole, who was always in control, was slowly slipping off a cliff.

Nicole didn’t move as Waverly closed the gap between them. Her breath was ragged, her mind racing with every possibility, every outcome worse than the next.

That she’d push Waverly away and she’d just walk away.

That she’d spill her secrets and Waverly would still walk away.

That she’d stay silent and let Waverly walk away.

And it was all too much, the pressure too much, and she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to push it all away.

And then Waverly was standing in front of her, so close she could feel her breath on her face, coaxing her to open her eyes.

“Open your eyes baby, look at me...” Waverly asked again, gently.

Nicole opened her eyes and they locked with Waverly’s. The moment stretched and Nicole focused completely on Waverly’s, looking at them as though they held all the answers.

Maybe they did.

“Is it okay if I touch you?” Waverly asked when she started to see Nicole come back to herself. When she saw the smallest hint of a nod, she reached her hands out and pulled Nicole forward and wrapped her arms around her. They stayed like that for several minutes and Nicole clung to her with a desperation Waverly couldn’t describe.

“Can you talk to me now?” Waverly asked.

Nicole stiffened in her arms and Waverly immediately regretted her words.

Nicole wrapped herself around her tighter, scared Waverly was going to disappear. She started sobbing, her face buried in the crook of Waverly’s neck. “I..I can’t. I can’t. Stay...please stay...but I can’t...I want to...not yet. I can’t...” Her words a broken, jumbled mess, but Waverly understood and continued to hold her.

When Waverly felt Nicole start to relax again, her breathing returning to normal she loosened her hold. Nicole pulled back first, wiping at her eyes. She still couldn’t find her words, but Waverly seemed to sense that and just tugged her towards the house.

“Come on. Let’s go inside and I’ll hold you for as long as you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

Nicole’s only answer was a nod of her head and she followed her inside, knowing that she was walking towards a life-changing conversation. “I want to tell you.” She whispered, her voice cracking.

Waverly turned back and looked at Nicole over her shoulder, as she tugged her into the house and up the stairs. “When you’re ready. Until then let me be your anchor.” She took one of Nicole’s hands and placed it over her heart when they reached the bedroom. “Feel that? I’m right here for as long as you need.”

Nicole kept her hand placed there as they laid down together, Waverly snuggled behind her cocooning her in and she let herself cry for the first time in a very, very long time.

Chapter Text

“Waves?” Nicole’s whisper broke the silence that had engulfed the room.

“I’m right here, baby.” Waverly squeezed the hand she still had tangled with her own and kissed the back of Nicole’s head softly.

“I feel stupid.”

“For crying?” Waverly lifted her head off the pillow, trying to angle herself to get a look at Nicole’s face.

“No, for not having you with me today in the first place.” Nicole rolled over, her eyes tracing over Waverly’s face, looking for any sign of distress, despite her being the one who’d just broken down.

“I haven’t really done anything.” She pushed a stray strand of hair off her girlfriend’s face, her thumb trailing across her cheek. Nicole’s eyes slipped closed at the caress and she leaned herself into it.

After a few moments of the intimate contact she opened them again. “You being here is everything. Just being around you...you have a way of making everything better.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah...It’s just...I don’t know how to start talking about this. I’ve never told anyone.”

“No one?”

Nicole shook her head. “I....I need a shower.”

“Nicole.”

“I do!” She pouted a little, a hint of a smile fighting to break through. She was caught and she knew it. “I do...and it will give me a minute to get myself together and it’ll be easier to talk when I don’t feel so gross, because I will definitely need more of this cuddling.”

“That I will accept. But if you don’t march out of that bathroom when you’re done and start talking...” Waverly’s pointed look said everything.

“Understood.” Nicole kissed Waverly lightly on the lips and pulled herself away from from the warm embrace.

“Really though baby, if you’re still not ready we can just watch one of your sappy movies. I’m not going to push you.”

“I’ll be ready. I want to tell you...need to tell you.” With a resolute nod of her head she made her way to the bathroom and shut the door, shutting everything out for a few more precious moments. She leaned back against it, head tilted back trying to keep more tears from spilling. She took a few deep breaths and steadied herself. She hadn’t shed a single tear about this for years and now it seemed that being on the cusp of unbottling it was making her a complete mess.

She was done. She truly wanted to tell Waverly and she felt ridiculous for not telling her about her day before now. She’d prided herself on honesty—and while she hadn’t outright lied...she had not been completely forthright. Shaking her head, she started to peel her clothes off so she could shower off quickly. There was no more over thinking it, she was going to follow Waverly’s directions to the letter and just start talking.

Once the door had clicked shut, Waverly headed back downstairs to the kitchen. She pulled a few things out of the fridge and made them both a salad and sandwhich and put together a cheese plate, throwing some grapes on the side for good measure. She had a hunch Nicole had not eaten all day and that wouldn’t do either of them any good.

She set the table and started to pick and snack, listening intently for the water upstairs to shut off. She told herself that no matter what Nicole had to say, she was going to be supportive. She wasn’t going to jump to any conclusions, although nothing was telling her it had anything to do with them as a couple anyway.

She could fix this.

And if there wasn’t anything to fix, she could be Nicole’s rock.

“God, you might be an angel. I was kinda hoping you were down here getting us some food.”

Waverly jumped at the voice, startling her out of her pensive state. Turning, she watched Nicole make her way down the stairs. Her hair was still wet from the shower and she’d traded her workout gear for sweats and hoodie and Waverly was positive she’d never seen a more beautiful sight.

Home.

Nicole looked like everything she’d ever wanted.

“You okay?” Nicole asked, not quite understanding the look Waverly was giving her.

“Yes. You look beautiful.”

Nicole snorted a little and then realized Waverly was being completely serious. “Thanks? You sure you’re okay?”

Rolling her eyes, Waverly waved Nicole over to the table. “Yes. Now sit, take a few bites of sandwhich and tell me what’s going on. Or don’t. If you’re not ready.”

“My parents are in a cult.” Nicole’s movements halted, her hand frozen on the back of the dining room chair. “That sounds pretty crazy out loud. I’ve never said it before.” She shook her head, releasing herself from the stalled position and sat down hard.

Waverly’s eyes widened, unable to school the look of shock showing on her face. “Uh...”

“Yeah.” Nicole shrugged and dug into her plate of food. Saying it loud had lifted some kind of fog from her brain and now that it was out in the open, she didn’t feel as heavy. She let Waverly digest the words for a little bit while she tamed the grumbling in her stomach.

“That was not even close to being in the top ten things I thought you were going to tell me.” Waverly finally recovered after a few minutes of silence as Nicole sat across from her and munched away on her food.

“No?” Nicole’s teasing grin made Waverly feel infinitely better. Seeing her strong, steady girlfriend break down like that had been jarring, to say the least. This was her Nicole.

Waverly waited until Nicole finished the last bite and then reached her hand out, Nicole immediately taking it. “Come on, let’s move this to the couch. I know there’s more to this story then that.”

Nicole sighed. “There is.”

Waverly got them settled on the love seat, feet to feet, backs against the arm rests so they could see each other. She pulled the blanket off the back and tossed it over their legs and tangled her with Nicole’s.

“I was 16 when they joined. Or rather moved to the compound. I don’t really know when it all started, I’m sure way before that. You don’t give up all your earthly possessions and move into the mountains on a whim.” Nicole scooted lower into the couch, settling herself in for the story. “I was an only child and incredibly independent by then so I can’t say I paid much attention to them. I had a job and a car and school and sports so...” She shrugged. Not knowing how to really explain it.

“I get it. My mom left when I was too young to remember and my dad...he was gone by the time I was 12. But that’s a story for another day. I get growing up fast.”

“My parents always seemed...adjacent to me? I don’t know if that explains it, but they were there and I had the things I needed...but they weren’t ever in front of me helping pull me through life and they were never behind me cheering me on. They were just there.” Nicole saw the understanding in Waverly’s eyes and she would never forget this moment.

Acceptance.

She had always avoided telling people for fear of rejection, and then later in life the fear of being pitied. She didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her. She’d done what she had to and rose above. Waverly was showing her everything she’d hoped for with one look.

“So when they told me we were moving to this ‘special place’ at the end of my sophomore year I didn’t accept it. I was plotting escaping from the moment they told me. I put the pieces together later when we got to the compound—they called it a ranch—that they were selling organic produce they grew there to my dad’s grocery store. He was a manager and I assume that’s how he and my mother were recruited. I never got the whole story.” Nicole paused for a moment and took ahold of one of Waverly’s feet, rubbing it absently, while she collected her thoughts. Waverly didn’t push, just understood she needed a moment and waited.

“When they told me they were selling everything—house, cars, everything but the clothes on their backs because they had been given the secret to life...I knew they were wrong. Back then I would have told you they were crazy, but that doesn’t really explain it...they really believed in what they were doing and they were going to drag me with them. I knew I couldn’t fight them right then, but I could be ready. I did my research—how to get emancipated, I checked into the trust that my grandma had left me when she’d passed away years before and I continued to save my money is places they couldn’t touch.”

“Jesus, Nicole.”

Nicole’s only response to the outburst was an extra squeeze to the foot she was still rubbing. “My timing was off. I don’t know if they lied intentionally or if this leader—he called himself The One—pushed them to move quicker. They’d sold everything off and put me in a car with them and off we went. They had a check—a sizable amount really—that they had to hand over to the group when we got there. ‘Let go of your earthly possessions as we all share in everything.’ Total scam and they went for it. The place itself—on the surface seemed idyllic. Natural living, yoga, chakra healing, empowerment—but the sharing thing? They meant sharing everything.” Nicole stared at Waverly, waiting for her to key in.

“Oh...oh! Like spouse swapping?” Waverly could hardly comprehend what she was hearing.

“Yeah, at the very least. From the moment we got there it was this eery, terrifying feeling of dread spread throughout the place. There were only two teenagers around my age and they mostly kept to themselves. They’d joined on their own and didn’t have parents there. I was an oddity...all the other couples had left their kids behind. I always wonder if I was part of the bargain or if they brought me because of the money I could access when I turned 18. It wasn’t a lot by any means, but enough to be worth keeping me around I guess.”

“Maybe...no. Nevermind.” Waverly shook her head, stopping her commentary.

“No, what?”

“Maybe they just couldn’t leave you behind?” She asked gently.

“Maybe...but this place was so...dark. It tried to be light and bright but it was anything but and I couldn’t figure out how my parents weren’t seeing it, feeling it. Later—years later—I finally got the courage to type the group’s name into google—I found out that there was a lot of drugs being pushed through the place and the ranch was shut down and everyone relocated somewhere unknown.”

“Cult leaders are exceedingly talented at persuasiveness. And quite a few have been known to use psychedelics to help the process.” At Nicole’s surprised look Waverly continued. “Cult Studies was my minor...”

“Huh. What are the odds?” Nicole smiled, the first real one Waverly had seen in a few days. “You’re not gonna question me to death are you?”

“Maybe? But I’ll wait an appropriate amount of time before I start with the inquisition.”

“Deal. This isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it wold be now that I started...so anyway...I was there maybe two weeks and it was a remote place up in the Rockies...I wasn’t sure how I was going to get away since we had to turn over the car as soon as we got there but I kept looking anyway. We had assigned daily tasks—for the greater good—and I know mine were geared to try and indoctrinate me...keeping me away from my parents, usually stuff that was “community” centered. I didn’t say much and smiled and nodded a lot, watching and observing from the peripheral. One night I was laying in my bunk, listening for anything and everything and I smelled smoke. Not the regular kind—like a bonfire or something—but the kind from a massive forest fire. I’d been interested in fire and fire science and my plan had always been to become a firefighter so I took it as a sign. The very next day I layered on all the clothes I could without looking suspicious and took off walking towards the smell. I knew that the wildland teams would be out and I was betting everything on running into one.”

“Nicole...” Waverly’s whisper full of anguish for the teenage Nicole.

“I survived. I didn’t have a choice Waves...and it’s made me stronger.” Nicole’s eyebrows knitted together, her lips turned down in a frown.

“I get that. I...it’s...I’m not pitying you if you’re worried about that...but to think how brave you had to be...”

“Brave or stupid...not sure which sometimes.” Nicole picked at something invisible on her nails, her eyes flitting around and finally meeting Waverly’s.

“Brave. Definitely Brave.” Waverly beamed at her. There wasn't any hiding the kind of joy and pride she felt when she thought about Nicole. 

“I love you. You’re kind of solidifying the angel thing right now.” Nicole smiled again, the weight she hadn’t realized was quite so heavy, was gone.

“Quit flirting and get on with the story.” Waverly slapped at Nicole’s leg, the mood shifting dramatically from this morning when she’d burst in here all fire and fight.

“So I started walking and following the smoke and not too far from the ranch I ran into a team digging fire trenches. They must have known at least a little more than the norm about the compound—I found out later you’d get briefed about the surrounding areas of the fire you were working—because they took one look at me and got me out of there with them at the end of their day. I had told them my parents had joined the Light and the One and that I had to get out. No one asked anything else. Maybe they thought I was older than I really was or maybe they just kept it under wraps. I don’t know.”

“So then what?” Waverly prodded.

“Then I was hitching a ride from the wildland station to Boulder with one of the crew named Julie. She handed me a card and told me to look her up if I ever needed anything and she dropped me off at my friend Sarah’s apartment. She’d been on my softball team in high school and was going to college there. I told Sarah that I had come out to my parents and they’d kicked me out. I’ve stuck to that story to this day. It’s easier for people to believe then the cult thing.” At that confession, Nicole started to tear up again and Waverly shifted them, pulling Nicole into her lap, hugging her from behind, holding her until the sobbing subsided.

“You are one amazing woman Nicole Haught.” Waverly said, reverently, stroking Nicole’s head lovingly.

“Hardstark.”

“Huh?”

“My name. I legally changed it when I got emancipated, because there was a part of me that thought they’d try and track me down.” Nicole laughed, shaking her head at the memory. “I panicked when the firefighters asked my name and the only thing that popped into my head was...hot. The fire. Not any of them...I at least spelled it different...when I changed it legally...so that it wasn’t quite so on-the-nose.”

Waverly snickered and then started to outright belly laugh...the tension from the day draining out of her. She wiped at the tears running down her face and pulled Nicole’s face to her own, capturing soft lips in a kiss. “You named yourself Haught.”

“And you love me anyway.”

“I do. I should have known a name like that was too good to be true. So this Sarah person...”

“Just a friend. I crashed with her for a little while, until I was emancipated and then I kind of drifted away. Mostly because she’d known me before, new my real name, had known my parents in a round about way...so I felt like I couldn’t risk sticking close. I stayed in the area and eventually reached out to Julie when I needed a new job. Her and some of the other firefighter guys did construction as a side job. That’s where I learned all of that business.”

“Did they ever ask you anything?” Waverly brow was furrowed, not quite believing that the people around Nicole wouldn’t try to get her to open up.

“They did. But I stuck to my parents disowning me story, despite what I’d told them in the mountains. I was pretty good at keeping people at a distant—close but not overly so—and they never pushed too hard. I wasn’t homeless, was taking care of myself, going to school...there wasn’t much to worry about.”

“I bet they worried more than you knew...at least in my experience the most surprising people rally around even when you don’t notice. The town kind of did that for me and Wynnona.”

“Maybe. They did always seem to make sure I was good to go on the basics..” Nicole’s eyes drifted, staring out the window, lost in the memory. “I’m sure I wasn’t as stealthy as I thought I was. Especially in the beginning, but it all worked out and I’m stronger for it.”

“So today...” Waverly prompted. She had a very good guess as to what this day meant but she wanted Nicole to get it all out.

“It’s the anniversary I guess you could say? Of the day I walked out of there. In the beginning I was angry and I made the decision I didn’t want it to consume me. So I decided once a year, for a day I would let myself be angry or sad or whatever and then move on. It’s worked pretty good for the past ten years.”

“Wow.”

“Yep.” Nicole picked at the blanket, weighing her next words. “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

“What! After everything we—” Waverly started to push herself away and tried to untangled her legs from the blanket before two strong hands grabbed her, shaking her out of her panic.

“Shit...babe—look at me. That came out wrong. I meant this wallow day...not us. That’s never...” Nicole stared deep into Waverly’s eyes, not quite ready to finish that proclamation. “Not us.”

“Came out wrong? Christ on a cracker Nicole...” Waverly huffed and flopped back against the arm rest.

“Sorry? I don’t...I don’t think about that as ever being a thing so I didn’t think about what it would sound like. You’re my person.” Nicole’s eyes pleaded with Waverly silently.

Waverly deflated almost instantly. She knew she needed to get rid of the nagging feeling in the back of brain that kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, the one that made her feelings swing like a pendulum, but that was going to be a discussion for another day. The two of them were dealing with enough right now. “You’re forgiven.”

“I don’t want a wallow day anymore.”

“Better.” Waverly smoothed out a few strands of hair on Nicole’s head and thought about what to say next. “Maybe we could find someone to help next year..like the firefighters helped you. Anonymous or whatever.”

“I like that idea. Almost as much as I like the fact that you’re planning on sticking with me for another one of my days...” Nicole grinned and shifted their positions a little so that she was the one holding Waverly close.

“I said that didn’t I?” She swallowed, hard, realizing the repercussions of her words.

Thinking something was one thing.

Saying it loud? Totally different ball game.

“You’re freaking out a little now huh?” Nicole’s voice a teasing lilt.

“Yes.”

“That’s okay. Want to change the subject?” Nicole squeezed her a little tighter, reassuring her with a simple touch.

“Yes.” Waverly thought back to the news she’d wanted to share with Nicole that morning when she went to the fire station. “I have news and a favor to ask...is now a good time?”

“Always is a good time when it’s you. Plus I think I’m done talking about myself, it’s exhausting. Feel free to start your inquisition anytime though...I’m sure there’s holes in my story your perfect little brain will want filled in.”

“Noted. So Wynnona has a day too—like yours. She...when we were little she got my dad arrested for dealing drugs.” Waverly shook her head at the questioning look Nicole was giving her. “It’s her story to tell, and I’ll tell you about my side another day, but the thing is is her day’s next week and I’m usually the one to stick with her...and I’ll be gone because I have an interview!!”

“Really! That’s great baby!” Nicole hugged Waverly to her chest and peppered her with kisses. “Where? When? What kind of job?”

“I’m meeting them in Boulder actually. It’s a company that produces podcasts and they need a researcher. The best part is I can work from anywhere. I’ll just get assignments based on my expertise.” Waverly excitement was palpable. It was her dream job in every way.

“Are you nervous? Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”

“Yes and yes. But I think I need to do this on my own. I want to prove myself to myself.”

“I understand. I’m so proud of you Waves.” Nicole’s eye beamed with pride and adoration. “So what day is it I get to hang with your sister?”

“Wednesday...”

“Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Just keep her from like getting knocked up or whatever.”

“Oh boy.” Nicole’s head was shaking, but she knew she was going to cave.

“I love you?” Waverly laughed at Nicole’s unimpressed look. “I’m not going back to work...we can check a few things off the sex list today?”

“You had me at I love you, but I’m not turning down that offer. You’ve got a deal.”

“You’re so easy.”

“Only with you babe.”

Chapter Text


“Gus wants to talk to you.” Waverly said, preempting any greeting Nicole was about to utter when she picked up the phone.

“Oh.” Nicole paused, hearing the poorly concealed panic in Waverly’s voice. “No thank you.”

“Nicole.”

“Waverly.”

The ensuing silence ticked away for several moments before Waverly spoke up again. “This isn’t an invitation. More a ‘you have to’ kind of thing.” Waverly paused. “Plus I already told her you would and I volunteered you to fix the sink in the bar apartment tonight and...please, please, please?”

Nicole sank down further into her couch. She thought it was going to be a quiet night in, she could catch up on some reading—maybe watch a little tv until Waverly showed up after her shift. “I feel like this is a trap.”

“It’s not a trap.” Waverly glanced over her shoulder at Gus, who was studying her from across the bar with an indiscernible look on her face. Shit. “Okay...maybe it’s a trap. But you still have to come up here tonight.”

“I’m regretting ever mentioning how hot it is when you’re bossy.”

“Assertive.” Waverly smirked, knowing she’d won the battle and that Nicole wouldn’t ever really deny her anything anyway.

Nicole sighed. “What time should I be there? Weren’t you supposed to be done at 8:00 anyway?” Nicole glanced at the mantel clock, the small hand just landing on the seven.

“Yes. I think that’s why she ambushed me. Just...maybe...get here as soon as possible? I’ll tell her you want to fix the sink first before you get too tired...so that should buy us some time to re-group and I can prep you on what not to say.”

“What not to say?” Her voice sounded shrill even to her own ears. She was feeling more and more like she was walking blindly into what was most definitely an ambush.

“What? Okay, great. Bye...Iloveyou.” Waverly disconnected the call before Nicole could respond. She felt slightly bad about luring Nicole into what was probably going to be a shovel talk from her aunt, but her family was part of the package so she was going to have to deal with it.

“She comin’?” Gus asked.

Waverly yelped. How was one old woman so stealthy? “Yes. I’m going to go see if I can get the water shut off upstairs. She wanted to get the sink thing out of the way first.”

Gus narrowed her eyes a little and Waverly was reminded of all the times her and Wynnona had ever tried to pull something over on the woman.

“I just bet she does.” Gus let the girl squirm a little before turning back to the storage room. “Well? Don’t you have some water to shut off?”

“Yes ma’am.” Waverly turned and ran up the stairs, Gus’s chuckles following behind her.

+++++++++++++++++

The door swung open moments after she knocked. Waverly was waiting for her. The knowledge—and Waverly’s smile—hit her low in her belly and she felt her insides coil. The need hit her like a shot—overwhelming and consuming—her eyes raked over her girlfriend, taking in every inch of her outfit.

Definitely not the Shorty’s uniform.

The mini skirt was clinging to slender hips, the crop top showing a peek of taunt abs. She noticed Waverly shift under the scrutiny and she decided to throw caution to the wind. Smiling, almost predatorily, she stepped into the apartment and shut the door slowly. Her eyes pleaded for permission and Waverly nodded in agreement—her own eyes reading Nicole’s perfectly.

Nicole chuckled at the surprised squeak Waverly let out when she descended on her, scooping her up and settling her around her waist. She attacked her neck recklessly, licking and sucking, as she walked them the three steps to the bed, letting them fall onto it.

“Did you wear this to tease me?” Nicole asks, her hands pushing the shirt up, exposing hard, pink nipples. “No bra either...were you planning this? Is this the ambush?” Nicole’s mouth greedily attacked them, lavishing them with her tongue, reveling in the moans her actions were eliciting.

“Not exactly this...Christ Nicole!” She moaned again, a bite to her sensitive nipple sent shockwaves straight to her clit. “Fuck...”

Nicole continued her assault on Waverly’s breasts, as the smaller woman rolled her hips into her, rocking together. Suddenly the pressure was gone and Nicole was lifting off of her. “Okay. So is it the sink I need to look at?” She asked innocently, her smile teasing and light.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.” Waverly’s glare was lethal.

“Oh, did you need something else?” Nicole’s hands found their way back to Waverly’s legs, sliding up and down, closer and closer to the edge of her skirt.

“You want me to beg?” Waverly asked, her voice breathy and soft.

“Yes.” Nicole’s eyes bore into Waverly’s, as her thumbs inched closer and closer to wetness. Kneeling, she used her own position to push Waverly’s legs farther apart. The miniskirt rode up farther with the motion and Nicole stopped her teasing massage momentarily to push it up all the way past her hips.

“Do it baby, fuck me...please...” Waverly arched her back up, the desperation visible in her movements.

Nicole’s hands resumed their caress, soon enough finding their target and she began sweeping over and over wet and warmth, sliding and pushing and teasing.

“Fuck me so hard I see stars.”

A moan tore from Nicole’s throat and her hands were suddenly unable to continue their teasing. In a single motion she yanked away the lacy, white underwear blocking her entrance and plunged three fingers in, pushing in fast and deep.

“You’re so wet.” Nicole’s voice sounded gravely, her own arousal catching in her throat. “You want it like this?” Nicole‘s fingers pushed in deeper, slowly moving in and out, and with each stroke of her wrist, her fingers curled up and pressed into Waverly’s walls.

“Yes...”

Nicole took in the vision in front of her—Waverly’s eyes closed, head thrown back and her clothes in complete disarray.

Perfection.

She continued her slow maneuvers until she started to feel Waverly’s walls tighten and contract. Using her free hand she pressed her palm into the woman’s clit and flattened her fingers down onto Waverly’s stomach, creating another pressure point.

Waverly’s eyes flew open at the sensation and a few more expletives rolled off her tongue. “What are you doing to me?”

“I’m fucking you baby, just like you told me to. You like that?” Nicole’s smile was like a lion about to pounce its prey. She continued her slow and steady rhythm, her hand on top pushing down into Waverly’s taunt stomach, matching every stroke of her fingers, hitting that perfect spot from the inside and out.

Waverly’s only answer was a strangled moan. She laid her hands down on top of Nicole’s helping her press down more, while the hand inside her continued its relentless strokes.

“I can feel it, let it go Waves...come for me...” Nicole pressed deeper, slowing her movements.

When Waverly did, it was like free falling off a cliff. The sensation rolled up from the tips of her toes and spread across her body like fire. All the air in her lungs was driven out, her cries muffled by Nicole’s mouth.

Both woman stilled as they rode the moment out a few beats longer. Delicately, Nicole shifted her body weight and pulled her hand out gently, Waverly whimpering at the lost contact.

Nicole frowned at the noise. “Sorry baby.” She looked around desperately for something to wipe her hand on and finally settled on the pillow case above Waverly’s head.

“‘s okay.” Waverly slurred. Her eyes were still closed and she was fairly certain she had never come as hard and as fast as she just had. She felt Nicole settle down next to her and one arm pulled her in tight, snuggling up to the length of the other woman. “You wrecked me.”

“Yeah?”

“Seriously.” Waverly finally opened her eyes and rolled over just enough to make eye contact with Nicole.

The woman looked downright smug.

“Well don’t you look proud of yourself?” Waverly grinned. Who knew being in love could be so much...fun.

“I am. I really am. I’m trying not to gloat over here but...”

“Gloat away. I may have to add a few things to our sex list now.”

Nicole smiled and then sobered a little. Leaning forward she captured soft lips with hers, the kiss lingering for several moments. She pulled back and studied the face she held in her hands. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They laid there until a loud ruckus from downstairs pulled them both back to reality.

“Shit. I’d return the favor but...” Waverly looked a bit sheepish.

“Yeah, we’d probably alert some suspicions if we were up here too long.” Nicole paused, noting the look in Waverly’s eyes. “And its not always about quid pro quo or whatever. You know that right?”

Waverly nodded, but Nicole wasn’t completely convinced. She simply arched an eyebrow and waited for the other woman to continue.

“I do...it’s just still a little hard to realize that you completely, totally have my feelings as your first priority.” Waverly smiled and every wonderful thing Nicole had ever wished for was reflected in it. “I’m working on it.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

Nicole didn’t budge until Waverly finally rolled off the edge of the bed, adjusting her clothes as she went. “Thank baby Jesus we didn’t rip anything....I’d have never heard the end of it from Wynonna if I would have had to change my clothes while we were up here.”

“Um...your sister is here too?” Nicole got up and headed over to the sink, only slightly alarmed at having to deal with another troublesome Earp. She turned on the water and washed her hands off before realizing that the sink seemed to be in complete working order.

“Yeah. Gus made her come by too.” Waverly shrugged and grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge for each of them.

“Hey Wave?”

“Yeah?” Waverly twisted the top off of the bottle she was holding and handed it to Nicole.

“The sink is fine.”

“Oh. My mistake.” Waverly feigned innocence and then chuckled when Nicole narrowed her eyes at her. “What? I said this wasn’t exactly what I’d been planning. So I may have been dropping hints to Gus about a leak up here for awhile so I could cash it in at some point...are you complaining?”

“Not even a little bit.” Nicole rested her hands on her tool belt and rocked back on her heels. “How much longer can we hide up here?”

“Not that long Casanova.” Waverly tipped her water bottle at Nicole. “Just drink your water and get ready for the firing squad. You’re probably going to want to be hydrated because I can only imagine you’re going to want a drink after this.”

“Great.” Nicole’s lips pursed together. “Let’s just go get this over with. I want to spend some time with you tonight since you’re leaving tomorrow.”

Waverly softened immediately. “I know baby, let’s go down and get it over with yeah? It’ll be fine and then we’ll go home together.”

Waverly had already turned to the doorway so she missed the look of shock on Nicole’s face.

Home.

Home together.

Nicole was sure that Waverly wasn’t aware of what she’d just said and for some reason that warmed her heart even more. Shaking herself a little she followed after Waverly, unable to wipe the grin off her face.

++++++++++++

“Oh good. You’re all finally here.” Gus was eyeing the two girls—her focus flitting between Waverly’s clothes and Nicole’s face. When Nicole couldn’t avoid making eye contact any longer she couldn’t help the bark of laughter that escaped at the guilty look in the girl’s eye. “Get that sink fixed right up, Captain?”

“Yes ma’am.” Nicole was trying her damndest to keep a straight face and maintain eye contact, but she was failing miserably.

“Busted.” Wynnona spoke over her shoulder, making the red head jump at the intrusion. “Don’t try to lie—she’s like a human lie detector.” She dropped her voice to a whisper, “she totally knows what you two twat waffles were doing up there.”

“Wynnona! Leave her alone.” Waverly pushed her sister away from Nicole and into a seat at the bar. She slid in beside her and patted the open seat on the other side of her.

Nicole didn’t say anything, deciding her best way to come out of the evening unscathed was to say as little as possible. She dutifully slid into the offered seat and watched as Gus came around from behind the bar and stalked towards the three of them.

“This...” Gus started in and slapped the back of Wynnona’s head.

“Is....” Waverly received her own thump and she saw Nicole brace herself out of the corner of her eye.

“All your fault.” Gus flicked Nicole’s ear, not feeling quite as comfortable with administering a solid whack to the poor girl.

“Ow! Damn it Gus!” Wynnona rubbed the back of her head. “What’s our fault?”

“That.” Gus pointed towards the front of the bar where a sheepish looking Chief Nedley sat in one of the booths.

“Oh boy.” Waverly grumbled under her breath.

“This isn’t going to end well...” Wynnona said at the same time.

Nicole spun around in her chair and saw Nedley holding over a dozen roses and dressed in a tuxedo watching the scene unfolding. She elbowed Waverly and pointed at him. “The sooner you fix this the sooner we go home.” She forced the words out between clinched teeth, smiling wildly and trying her best to impersonate a ventriloquist.

“Yeah Waverly.” Wynnona added unhelpfully.

She glared at them both before addressing Gus. “He wants to ask you out.”

“Little girl, this isn’t my first rodeo. Of course he does but the poor man hasn’t moved in an hour. The sooner you fix him the less time I spend scaring your girlfriend, which was the real reason I called you here tonight.” She pointed directly at Nicole again and chuckled again at the scared look the move elicited.

“Well, you gonna say yes to him?” Waverly asked.

“Sure. Long as he tones it down.” Gus grudgingly admitted.

“Nedley! Lose the flowers and ask her. She’s gonna say yes.” Wynnona yelled across the bar. “Run Waves, save your girl!”

Laughing, Waverly grabbed Nicole’s arm and pulled her towards the door, dodging Gus’s snapping towel.

“I owe you one Wy!” Nicole yelled over her shoulder as a Waverly tugged them outside.

“Was that a good idea? Maybe I should have let her have her talk with me and get it over with.”

“I think she made her point. Do you really want to go back in?”

“No...not really. I just feel bad.”

“Bad about not getting a shovel talk?” Waverly threaded her fingers together with Nicole’s and swung their arms as they walked towards her jeep.

“Bad about running away? Being disrespectful?” Nicole frowned, hoping she didn’t ruin earning Gus’s respect.

Waverly stopped and tugged on Nicole’s arm swinging her around to face her. She lifted up on her tiptoes and gave the woman a quick peck. “Trust me on this one. She loves you. Otherwise she would have had this little would-be chat with you ages ago.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Waverly tugged on her arm again. “Take me home now?”

“Your home or my home?” Nicole grinned, hoping Waverly would catch on to what she was saying.

“Your house silly.” Waverly stopped abruptly. “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Can we...well...you know what? Never mind. I was going to say can we pause this little discussion for a few days I’ll just say it...I think I just feel at home where ever you are. There I said it. Is it too much? Does that scare you?” Waverly’s smile was blinding, the only visible sign she was on edge was the ring she was spinning around and around on her right hand.

“Not at all, Waves.” Nicole reached out and stilled her fidgeting. “I feel the same way...so maybe what we could pause the part of the discussion where we maybe discuss starting to think about talking about what exactly that means?”

“Huh?” Waverly’s forehead crinkled up, her confused look completely adorable.

“Our living arrangements?”

“Ooohhh.” Waverly stared at Nicole, at a loss for words. “Yeah...let’s pause that.” She started off towards her jeep, her pace just short of a run.

Nicole watched Waverly’s back and instantly regretted saying anything. She should have kept her mouth shut.

Smothering.

It was something she’d been accused of before and she was making the same mistake again.

“Waves!” Nicole took a few long strides and caught up to her and grabbed her arm, spinning her around to face her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. I know it’s like a huge step and we aren’t—“

“Don’t say anything else.” Waverly cut Nicole off before she could finish her sentence. “I think I know what you were going to say and I know that you’re trying to help but this isn’t a thing so don’t make it one. We’re only pausing a conversation that I want to have until after I have a job. Like a career job.”

“Are you sure it’s not a thing?” Nicole heard what Waverly was saying but it still felt like she was missing something.

“It’s not a thing. You’re just ruining some of my meticulous relationship time-line planning so I need you to zip it and go get in your car and follow me to your house so we can hang out tonight.” Waverly pointed at Nicole’s car and her narrowed eyes got Nicole moving.

“Okay, I love you. I’ll see you there.” Nicole leaned in and kissed Waverly softly, before turning and walking towards her car.

“You better.” Waverly unlocked her door and yelled over her shoulder at Nicole’s back. “I love you too you big softie.”

Chapter Text

“So you’re absolutely sure you have to leave right now?” Nicole pouted from the bed, where she had been lounging and distracting herself on Instagram while Waverly finished getting ready.

“Yes. I have some serious adulting to go do.” Waverly glared at Nicole and earned a cheesy grin in return from the red head.

Nicole got up and moved across the room to wrap her arms around Waverly, pulling her into her chest. “I know. And I’m so proud of you baby. And excited for you. But I’m going to miss you and I’m going to be all mopey until you get home.”

“No you won’t. You’re going to have your hands full with Wynnona Watch.” She tipped her head back and laughed when Nicole’s face scrunched up.

“Oh yeah.”

“Thank you—again—for doing this. It’s gonna be fine. Just don’t let her get you into trouble...she has a knack for that kind of thing...remind me to tell you about the time we were almost arrested for bootlegging.”

“Got it. Ask about past criminal behavior...”

Waverly took a moment and memorized the look of total adoration Nicole had in her eyes and reveled in the fact that she had someone in her corner that completely and totally loved her. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Nicole kissed her gently, sensing the turn the conversation had taken from teasing to serious and tried to convey every feeling she had into it. “I’m going to go load up your bags and then we can kiss some more and say goodbye again.”

Waverly laughed as Nicole picked up the duffle and grabbed the suitcase handle, pulling it out of the room. “Such a gentlewoman...” She whispered at Nicole’s retreating figure.

She waited a few beats and when she heard the front door open and shut she picked up Nicole’s abandoned phone and took a breath—mentally debating one last time on what she was doing before plowing ahead with her plan. Scrolling through the contacts she found the number she needed and scribbled it down on a post-it. She tossed the phone back on the bed after opening Instagram back up and rushed out the door to help Nicole load up her jeep.

The sinking feeling in her stomach must have shown on her face because when she got outside Nicole looked at her quizzically. She waved off the concern and mumbled something about nerves before double checking she had everything she needed.

“I would make fun of you overpacking for the whole two nights you’re going to be gone...but since you look like you’re about ready to hurl...” Nicole slammed the back door shut and made her away around to the driver’s side door.

“You know I’m a planner. I might spill something on me or they might reschedule and I would need an extra day’s clothes or my outfit might not fit—“

“Tomorow morning...”

“Nicole.” Waverly narrowed her eyes at her girlfriend. “More hugs, less talk.”

Nicole instantly complied and wrapped the woman up in her arms, burying her face in long brunette locks. After a few moments of holding each other they pulled apart. “Better?”

“Yeah. Much. I reserve the right to freak-out FaceTime you...Anytime in the next the next 24 hours.” Waverly ran her hands up and down Nicole’s arms, almost completely unaware she was doing it, but her mind wanting to memorize how those strong arms gave her a such a sense of comfort.

“I’ll always be here for you. You know that.”

“Quit it.” Waverly frowned.

“Quit what?” Nicole’s face a mix of humor and confusion.

“Being so you right now. I’m being a complete basket case and you’re being all you with the earnest and heartfelt pledges and it makes me not want to leave.” Waverly scowled harder and buried her face in Nicole’s chest. “See? You’re being too you right this second with that face and I can’t peel myself away.” Waverly felt, rather then heard the chuckles rumbling in the redheads chest.

“You want me to be an asshole?” Nicole’s eyebrows and nose crinkled up. “I guess I could say something mean...”

“No you couldn’t. I love you. I’m a big girl and I can do this.” Waverly kissed Nicole one last time and purposefully held her out at arm’s length. “See? That’s a start. You’re like 2 feet away.”

“We are ridiculous.” Nicole’s head shook with disbelief, chuckling at their antics.

“This is why I wanted to leave a day early. I knew it was going to take forever to get out of here.” Waverly rolled her eyes and laughed.

Nicole pulled Waverly back in and kissed her again before practically shoving her into the jeep. “There. Done. You’re in the car. Go.”

“So bossy. I like it.” Waverly’s tone told her exactly how much she liked it.

“No, no. That’s not fair. Don’t use that voice.”

Waverly laughed and waggled her eyebrows, before sobering. “Seriously—thank you for hanging with Wynnona and seriously—I love you.”

“No problem...it’s what you do for family...I love you too.” Nicole shut the driver’s door after another quick peck and missed the stunned look on Waverly’s face at the mention of family.

As Waverly pulled out the driveway she rolled down the window and waved one last time at Nicole standing on the porch and she already couldn’t wait to get back home.

She had plans.

+++++++++++++++

Nicole watched the red jeep from her porch until it disappeared from view. She turned and made her way back into the house, mentally reading herself to go meet up with Wynnona. They had decided against telling Wynnona that Nicole was going to hang with her that day, because one—they knew it would be met with protest and two—there was a very good chance Wynnona would figure out a way for to disappear before Nicole got there since she had known the plan was for Waverly to leave from Nicole’s house that morning.

She ran back upstairs and grabbed her phone, some cash and headed out to her own vehicle. Waverly had insisted she head directly over to the homestead as soon as she left because she didn’t want Wynnona to be alone at all that day. Nicole suspected though, it also had a little to do with that fact that Wynnona usually didn’t roll out of bed until noon and she was going to be way less likely to have already taken off somewhere.

She pulled up to the homestead and was relived to see Wynnona’s truck in the driveway.

At least she wasn’t going to have to track the woman down.

Heading up to the front door she felt a little bad about using her key the two sisters had given her for the kitchen remodel to let herself in, knowing Wynnona was in there probably still asleep, but that’s what Waverly had told her to do.

Trying to stay as quiet as possible she turned the lock and stepped in, yelping when a gun was shoved in her face.

“What the fuck Nicole!?”

“What the fuck Wynnona!?” They yelled simultameously.

“Jesus. I about shot you.” Wynnona lowered the gun and turned back towards the living room.

It was the first time she’d had a gun in her face and if Waverly’s numerous warning’s for the day did anything other then prepare her for the worst...well...for self-preservation she decided to pretend it never happened.

“Yeah...” Nicole took in Wynnona’s slow movements and her outfit. “Are you wearing sweatpants?”

Wynnona flopped down on the couch and scowled.

Nicole couldn’t school her face quick enough, Wynnona looked like shit and the shock was blatantly showing on her features.

“Yes. Sweats. Shut the fuck up or get out.” Wynnona croaked.

Nicole took in the scene around her and realized that without a doubt Wynnona was sick as a dog. “Sorry. Can’t. Girlfriends’ orders.”

“Great.” Wynnona turned her attention back to the tv and ignored Nicole still standing awkwardly in the doorway.

Nicole decided the best course of action was the straightforward kind. She was taking over. “What have you taken?”

“Nothing.”

“Okay...where’s your medicine cabinet?”

Wynnona pointed to liqour bottles lined up on the kitchen counter.

“Right. Of course you don’t have medicine...humidifier?”

“Nope.”

“Vick’s Vapor?”

“Nope.”

“Tylenol?”

“Nope.”

“Kleenex?”

“Nope.”

“You’re hopeless.”

“Yep.”

Nicole stared at Wynnona and thought through all the possibilities she’d game planned for that day.

This wasn’t one of them.

“All right. Go grab some things. We’re headed to my house.” Nicole used her Captain’s voice and she knew it garnered attention. Rarely did anyone argue with her when she was in boss-mode.

Surprisingly enough it seemed to work on Wynnona too. Without saying anything, she made her way up the stairs and was back down moments later with a black duffel and a bottle of whiskey.

At Nicole’s surprised look Wynnona hefted the bag up. “I always have a go-bag ready in case I get a tip on a mark.”

“You can’t drink if you’re taking cold medicine.” Nicole looked pointedly at the bottle as she packed the woman into her car.

“I’m not stupid. I know that. That’s for you.”

“I’m not drinking that.”

“Waverly wanted you to babysit me today right?”

Nicole looked caught, but nodded her head anyway.

“Well then...you’re drinking. It’s part of my thing and if I can’t...you’re my proxy. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the girlfriend would you?” Wynnona’s cutting glare would have been more effective if she hadn’t dissolved into a coughing fit moments later.

“I’m not really a whiskey kind of girl...”

“Too bad.”

Nicole turned to shoot a glare at her passenger and realized that Wynnona had fallen asleep.

No wonder she’d gotten in the car without a fight.

She didn’t have any fight in her.

Nicole thought through the logistics as she drove them over to her place. At least she had medicine and a humidifier.

It was a start.

+++++++++++++++++

“So then I said...” Nicole waved the bottle of whiskey she held in her hand for emphasis, trailing off without finishing her sentence.

Wynnona just stared at the red head. For all the shit she gave her, she really was a pretty great person to have in your life. With all the medicine and stuff Nicole had doused her with she felt a million times better already.

It was just too bad Nicole made a very talkative drunk. It had taken a little more pouting and threatening to get the woman to start in on the bottle, but tradition was tradition. Usually her and Waverly were three sheets to the wind and planning some big something by this time in the day, but it turned out watching Nicole made for a pretty good show too.

“You said?” Wynnona prompted her, waiting for the end of the story.

“I said....I love your sister.” Nicole smiled, proud of herself for finishing her train of thought.

“That is not even close to anything you were talking about. And it’s like the 100th time you’ve mentioned it.”

“Sorry.” Nicole took another swig from the bottle. “I just wanted to keep talking so that you didn’t have to...because I don’t know if you want to...but you can if you want.” Nicole hiccuped and scowled st the bottle she still clutched in her hand. “I mean Waverly told me a little and really...your story can’t be much worse than cult-parents.” Nicole’s eyes slid back to the tv, unaware of the magnitude of her words.

“I’m sorry...what now?” Wynnona stared at the side of Nicole’s head, unable to reign in her surprise.

“Oh.” Nicole turned her attention back to the couch where she’d set up Wynnona’s “sick bed.”

The woman had not appreciated the firman’s carry like she thought she might when they’d arrived back at her house. Nicole thought she’d done her a favor—she didn’t have to wake up or walk.

Oh well. Something to hold over her head for later. Nicole had heard the soft sigh when she laid her down and covered her up. She wasn’t a complete hard-ass all the time. And now she knew. Shaking herself out of her thoughts she answered Wynnona’s question.

“Cult-parents. That’s what me and Waverly started calling them. I hadn’t talked about it to anyone for like...well...never. But it has a nice ring to it now that it’s all out there. Have I mentioned how much I love your sister?” Nicole looked at Wynnona with her big brown eyes blinking owlishly.

“Yes. And also I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Cult parents?” Wynnona wished Nicole would go back to only talking about how pretty and amazing Waverly was. That seemed way easier to deal with right now.

Nicole continued to stare at Wynnona, the gears turning slower than normal. She finally shrugged. “My parents joined a cult and I ran away. Cult-parents.”

“Wow. That puts my had-dad-arrested story to shame.” She shook her head and continued to stare back at the woman on the love seat. How did someone with such a tragic backstory end up so...so not like Wynnona.

Happy.

Trusting.

Nicole stood up and plopped down right beside Wynnona, slinging one arm around her shoulders.

“Dude...” Wynnona grumbled.

“It doesn’t...put it to shame. You can tell me about it if you want.”

Wynnona started laughing because she knew that Nicole was trying to look serious and heartfelt but she basically looked like she was about to pass out.

“I just did. I got my dad arrested so I get shit-faced once a year....well...once a year for that particular reason. The other times are just for fun.”

Nicole looked at Wynnona and turned down her lower lip, frowning. She patted Wynnona’s leg awkwardly. “Good talk.”

“You’re really better at holding your liquor then I thought you would be.” Wynnona dutifully sidestepped any more questions on the topic of her dad. Not because she didn’t want to talk about it, she suddenly didn’t feel the need to anymore. Realizing that there were other people out their carrying burdens just like she was? And having them in her life? That was enough to shake her loose from the invisible strings that had always seemed to tie her down in one way or another.

“Is that a compliment? I’m full of surprises.”

“Sort of. Don’t let it go to your head.” Wynnona shook her head and smirked.

For awhile the two of them sat in silence and watched the marathon of Chopped they’d tuned into earlier. After a little while Nicole piped up again.

“I know you said one of the ground rules for today was no Waverly questions but...I got like super drunk for you so maybe just one?” Nicole looked at Wynnona hopefully.

“One. And also maybe stop drinking. It’s kinda sad at this point and making me re-think my life choices.”

Nicole nodded her head and set the bottle of whiskey on the coffee table, shooting Wynnona a grateful look. “Last night I mentioned living together and she kinda freaked out in that Waverly way where she doesn’t say anything and it’s worse then her yelling?”

“Oh.” Wynnona turned her attention back to the show, hoping Nicole was drunk enough to forget she asked a question. When she got poked in the side a few times she figured she was going to have to answer. Looking at Nicole again she knew she was meddling in something she shouldn’t be. “She has this rule about living with people. You have to be engaged first.”

“Oh.”

Wynnona thought she’d scared the woman into silence until Nicole piped up again.

“That sucks because I’m not proposing for three years.”

Oh boy.

So many questions that she was absolutely not going to ask. “Nicole. Quit talking and sleep it off.”

“Okay.”

She ambled back over to the love seat, but just as she was hunkering down to sleep off some of her buzz her phone rang. When she looked at the name she panicked.

“It’s your sister! What do I do?” Nicole looked at Wynnona, completely panicked.

“Answer it! It’s your damn girlfriend! If you don’t she’s gonna send the calvary and you don’t want Gus after us.”

Nicole stared at the phone and let it ring a few more times, praying she would sober up in those few extra seconds. “Hi babe.” Nicole winked and threw a thumbs up in Wynnona’s direction.

“You’re drunk.”

“Nnn...ye...ssss.” Nicole glared at Wynnona’s eye roll and mouthed “I can’t lie to her” which only made Wynnona roll her eyes again.

“Where are you? Did she drag you to a strip club?” Waverly didn’t sound mad, more amused then anything. Drunk Nicole wasn’t someone she’d experienced yet.

“My house. Your sister is sick so I’m taking care of her...I’m her drunk proxy?” Nicole nodded to herself encouragingly, proud of herself for not slurring.

Too much.

“That...is not a thing I thought would happen today...” Waverly was mentally trying to picture how their morning had gone, but she couldn’t conjure a single image. “Let me talk to Wy.”

“Psst. Wynonna...she wants to talk to you.” Nicole stage whisper only made Waverly laugh.

“I’m asleep.” Wynnona resolutely shut her eyes.

“She’s asleep.” Nicole happily supplied back to Waverly.

“Nicole.” Waverly rolled her eyes. She was going to have to see Drunk!Nicole in person because this was too good.

“Oh. Here you go.” Nicole chucked her phone at Wynnona hitting her in the face with it.

“Ow! Shit, that hurt.” Wynnona picked up the phone bracing herself for the ass-chewing she was about to get. “Your girlfriend is a drunk menace. And that’s coming from me.”

“Wynnona.”

“I know.”

“You good?” Waverly didn’t elaborate. Their sister language had been perfected over the years and they could say a thousand things with a few simple words.

“Yeah. I’m fine...and as for your girlfriend...she’s drunk but she’s not so bad to have around.” Wynnona stared at a single spot on the wall, refusing to look Nicole’s way because she was sure the red head would have a shit-eating grin and she didn’t need to be any more embarrassed. It was bad enough she’d said something so...nice...out loud.

“Wow...that’s...you actually like her.”

“Shut up.”

Waverly didn’t push anymore. Satisfied that they had both survived the day was enough for her. “Pass the phone back to Drunky.”

“Here you go Haughtstuff.” Wynnona threw the phone back at her for payback, but she somehow managed to catch it—even in her diminished capacity.

“You’re so pretty. Have I told you that lately?”

Waverly laughed, the tension she’d felt since she first suggested Nicole spend the day with Wynnona gone. “Not in the last 10 hours. I just wanted to let you know I’m here and checked into the hotel, safe and sound.”

“Good.” Nicole voice softened and she tried to angle herself away from Wynnona. “I love you. Get plenty of rest tonight.”

“I will. You too—try and sleep this off and drink plenty of water?”

“Yes ma’am.” Nicole picked at the arm of the couch a little, feeling slightly guilty that she was beyond useless to Waverly right now.

“Okay, I love you. Talk to you in the morning? I’ll need to cash in my freak out FaceTime chip.”

“Definitely. Bye.” Nicole sighed, a happy smile plastered on her face.

“Bye babe.” Waverly sighed too, just hearing her girlfriend’s voice seemed to make everything a little better.

Wynnona was making retching noises from her spot on the couch when Nicole finally hung up the phone. “Gross.”

“I see right through you Wynnona. You like me aaannnddd you think I’m good for your sister.” Nicole’s grin was teasing.

“Maybe.” Wynnona’s arm’s we’re crossed resolutely.

“I’m headed to bed. You good? You can have NyQuil in about 30 minutes. Should put you out for the night.”

“Got it, Doctor.” When Nicole didn’t leave Wynnona shooed her away. “I’m fine. I’m gonna stumble up to the guest room in a few. No worries.”

“Just remember you’re on your own in the morning. I have to leave for work before you’re going to even be thinking about waking up.

“I’ll try not to burn the place down.”

“Thanks, asshole. Your girlfriend is the pyro of the family remember anyway...night.”

+++++++++++++++

Waverly’s fingers hovered over the new number in her phone, her mental debate still waging within.

She’d composed no less than one hundred different texts that afternoon, but none of them had made the cut.

Fuck it.

It didn’t have to be perfect. She could do this.

Hi. It’s Waverly. I’m in town. Dinner tomorrow night?

Waverly watched the three little dots appear and disappear several times. The knots in her stomach growing.

Sure. Let me know when and where.

Perfect. No questions.

I’m staying at the Boulderado on Pearl. Mountain Sun Pub at 7:00?

Waverly watched again as the three little dots appeared and her stomach twisted again. This was really happening.

Fancy. Sounds good, see ya there.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole groaned at the incessant quacking coming from her night stand. She really should have changed that ring tone. Feeling around blindly, her hand finally landed on its target.

The view she was rewarded with when she answered though?

Heaven.

“Hello boobies.” Nicole’s voice sounded like she’d swallowed sandpaper.

“Focus, Nicole! This is my freak out call!” Waverly’s entire face abruptly filled the screen.

“Babe, you can’t show me your boobs and expect me to focus on anything else but their absolute perfection...” Nicole grinned, so thankful she’d chugged all that water before she’d passed out the night before. Her hangover was hanging around an acceptable level and she wanted to be at least somewhat with it for her girlfriend’s panic attack.

“You do have a point.” Waverly pointed the camera back down. “There. Have a good look. I’m putting a bra on in 5...4...3...2...1...”

Nicole couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up from her chest. She was completely and totally a sucker for Waverly Earp. “You’re kinda the best. Thank you...I think you cured my hangover.”

“Me or them?” Waverly asked, her voice muffled by the cami she was pulling on.

“The whole package?” Nicole grabbed the bottle of water she’d left out the night before and took a couple of sips.

“Good answer.” Waverly smiling face filled the screen again.

“What are you freaking out about?”

“Clothes.”

Nicole frowned, she wasn’t exactly an unbiased opinion when it came to Waverly’s outfit choices. “I think it’s important you’re comfortable. Don’t try to wear what you think you’re supposed to. Half professional, half Waverly. I mean it’s a podcast right? They should be hip people?”

“Hip? You sound like an 80 year old woman.”

Nicole pouted.

“It’s cute. I think you’re right though...I’m doing my over-thinking thing.” Waverly stared at Nicole through the phone. Leaning forward she rested her chin in her hand and sighed. “I really love you, you know that? Just seeing you makes me happy.”

“Me too, Waves.” Nicole pushed herself up in the bed and the covers fell around her waist.

“Are you wearing pajamas?”

Nicole looked down at her top. “Oh. Yeah.” Her face scrunched up in a grimace. “You weren’t suppose to see these.”

“Really? “Miss-I-only-sleep-in-underwear.” Waverly laughed and shook her head at Nicole’s attempt to pout again.

“So maybe that was a thing for your benefit those first couple of nights...and now like all the time with you...”

“Well, I guess I’m glad you won’t be giving my sister an eye-full.”

“She couldn’t handle it.” Nicole’s eyes twinkled and she tried to suppress her smile.

Waverly laugh made Nicole’s heart stutter.

This was what she wanted forever.

She shook her head and focused back on Waverly. “Feeling better?”

“Yeah. I knew you’d calm me down. It’s kind of your special power.”

“Good. So...I left you something in your purse. Inside pocket.”

Waverly’s eyes widened with excitement and she disappeared from view for a few moments. When she came back her brow was furrowed, her lip caught between her teeth. “Money?”

“I want to buy you a drink after your interview.” Nicole stared at the hundred dollar bill she’d tucked into Waverly’s purse two nights ago and was second guessing herself. “It’s weird isn’t it?”

“It’s just that this will buy like ten drinks...”

“I thought maybe that you could go somewhere and get something really top shelf—some whiskey you can’t get here in Purgatory...something to celebrate with...it’s weird...sorry.”

Waverly looked at her girlfriend and watched her fold into herself a little. “No, it’s sweet...like incredibly sweet and thoughtful. Thank you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. And I know exactly what whiskey I’ve always, always wanted to try. You know me pretty well, I wouldn’t ever do something like that for myself.” Waverly rested her hand in her chin again and watched Nicole’s gaze flit around.

“Okay, good. I mean we’ll still celebrate when you get home, but I want you to have something special to look forward to tonight.” Nicole was chewing on her lip, still visibly apprehensive about her gift.

“Nicole?” Waverly’s voice bringing Nicole’s eyes up to meet hers instantly.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you. I mean it. Now, do you need to get ready for work?”

“I guess I better. I’m sorry I probably won’t be able to talk until I’m off shift later tonight. You’ll text me though, tell me how it goes?” Nicole watched Waverly’s face for any hint of disappointment.

“Of course, I wish I was coming home tonight.” It was Waverly’s turn to pout a little. She had been so adamant she make this trip on her own and she’d spent half the time thinking of all the fun things they could be doing there together.

“No, I think it’s good you’re driving tomorrow. No sense in over doing it, plus you deserve a little Waverly time.”

Waverly smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling up. “Still...maybe we could come here together for a long weekend sometime?”

“That’d be great baby. You go land your big job and then we’ll look at our free weekends?”

“It’s a date. I love you.” Waverly blew Nicole a kiss.

“I love you too. Good luck, you’re gonna rock. I know it.” Nicole blew a kiss back and finally hung up when Waverly waved goodbye one last time.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Waverly sipped at the glass of Macallan Rare Cask she’d just ordered, thanks to her completely perfect girlfriend, and tried to calm herself down.

It was harder than it should be considering it was without a doubt the best glass of whiskey she’d ever sipped on, but she reminded herself that it was a treat that Nicole had lovingly pushed her towards and she concentrated on every note of her next taste.

The interview had gone so much more smoothly then she could have ever imagined. She basically geeked out with two of the show’s producers about history and cult followings for an hour before they’d offered her a contract then and there.

Picking up the glass and swirling it for effect she breathed in the oaky scent and when the dark amber liquid hit her tongue, a hint of sherry and wood spice, honeyed and indulgent, filled her mouth with such a rush of flavor she moaned.

“Sorry. Am I interrupting something?” One of Shae’s perfectly arched eyebrow’s taunted Waverly.

“Can I just say I absolutely hate your eyebrows?” Waverly’s own eyes bugged out and she slapped her hand over her mouth. “Shit. Sorry. This might be stronger than I thought.”

“Well, I thought you were going to say you hate me...so you’re forgiven. I can give you the name of the person I use if it’s a hate/envy kind of thing.” Shae offered, pulling herself up onto the bar stool next to Waverly. “Or would that be weird? First my ex-wife then my esthetician?”

“It would be a step too close to Single White Female for me. I’m good.” Waverly stared down at her glass, not sure where to start now that she had the one person that probably knew Nicole best sitting right next to her.

“So.” Shae said, finally breaking the silence. She flagged over the bartender and tactfully pointed to Waverly’s glass, winking at the cute blonde when she was acknowledged.

“So.” Waverly echoed.

“If this is about Nicole’s ‘day’ last week I can’t help you.” Shae’s face was stone cold, a sudden turn from the flirty look she’d just thrown the bartender. Not a single hint of emotion evident.

“It’s not...” Waverly looked at her quizzically, remembering that it had only been one week ago they’d bared their souls to each other. “I...that’s not what it’s about. She talked to me...that day. It’s not about....that.”

“Oh.” The bartender set her glass of whiskey down in front of her and Shae took two enormous gulps. “Good for you then.”

“Yeah.” Waverly was regretting this. Why did she ever think it was a good idea to have dinner with Nicole’s ex? She didn’t need answers this badly. Waverly watched as Shae threw back the remaining whiskey like it was a shot.

“This is more of a sipping—“ Waverly stopped when Shae narrowed her eyes.

“Look—I like you. Mostly. Nicole loves you, but I’m sorry if you think it’s easy for me to hear that a secret she’s been keeping from me since we met just came tumbling out of her mouth after six months of knowing you.” Shae signaled the bartender again and pushed her empty glass away.

“I don’t think it’s easy. It just didn’t occur to me that’s what you thought this was about. And for the record it didn’t come tumbling out and you need to cut her a break if you think it was about hiding something from you.” Waverly’s own temper was flaring. Christ..she was a complete idiot for thinking this was a good idea.

She pulled the very special hundred dollar bill out of her wallet and set it under her glass, pushing it towards the opposite edge of the bar. 

She got up to leave when a hand shot out and grabbed her elbow. “Sit down. I’m handling this badly. I...I have a big ego—at least that’s what Nicole’s always telling me—and apparently it’s fragile too. But you’re right. It isn’t about me.” She sneered down at the bar, her face morphing back to flirty the second the bartender appear in her line of vision.

“How do you do that? Zero to flirty in nothing flat? “

“Skill and will.” Shae tipped her glass towards the bartender. “And the right motivation.”

“You’re incorrigible. How did Nicole fall for this crap?” Waverly winced. “Sorry. That sounded shitty.”

Shae looked contrite for a second, before her face was a mask again. “I have no idea, but even though it didn’t take her long to see right through me...I’m glad she’s in my life. And sometimes I think she’s too soft. And needs protecting.” She narrowed her eyes at Waverly again. “So what are you playing at?”

“Playing at?” Waverly asked, lost for a moment in decoding Shae’s words. “Oh. What’s this about?” She waved her arms between the two of them.

Waverly steadied herself, still a little unsure about what she was going to ask. “I was going to ask you if you thought Nicole would ever want to get married again. I want to ask her. To marry me.” Waverly watched Shae’s face for any little clue. “But something tells me you don’t really have those answers.”

“I thought you would be asking permission.” Shae scoffed, “With your down home country thing you have going on.”

“Nicole nor I need any one’s permission for anything.” Waverly’s temper flared up again. “But the woman I love would do anything for me and I know it. I’m not blind. And anything probably includes another marriage even if it wasn’t something she wanted. I guess I was trying to see...God, I don’t know....if she was ruined on marriage forever or something.”

Shae paused for a few moments before answering. “She’s not. She told me when we finally signed the divorce papers that she hoped we both found happiness in real marriages someday.” Shae sighed, staring into her drink, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation. “At the time, it hurt. I never truly thought of our situation as not real. But she was right, as always. What she has with you is real and I can see the difference now.”

“Wow. Okay.”

“Yep.”

Waverly didn’t know what else to say. It had to have been difficult for Shae to hear those words in the first place, let alone repeat them to her ex’s new girlfriend. The silence became stifling though and she knew that she probably needed to come up with something.

“We don’t have to eat dinner together.” Waverly finally blurted out.

Shae laughed, a harsh chuckle that caught the attention of the bartender and several patrons scattered around the bar area. “You sure are something, Earp.”

“Thanks? I think?” Waverly scrunched her nose up, not really understanding what was so funny.

“I assume we need to stay hush-hush about this conversation?” Shae said bitterly, her laughing stopping abruptly.

“No. I’m going to tell her, maybe not specifics because I still have plans to propose, but I’m not going to keep secrets from her.” Waverly looked at the other woman pointedly.

“Noted. Well, I guess send me an invite to the wedding?” Shae’s eyes were glued to the bartender’s ass as she bent over for something in a lower fridge. “And maybe add me on for a plus one?”

“Unbelievable.”

“I really am.”

“I’m leaving. Don’t get accidentally married tonight or I’m pretty sure I would never hear the end of it from Nicole.” Waverly slid off of the bar stool and grabbed her coat off the back. “I guess I’ll see you around. Come visit again sometime. You and my sister would be fun to watch together.”

“Nic’s told me stories. I’m not sure Purgatory would be left standing.” Shae finally smiled; a real one, lacking any of the edge it had earlier.

“Probably not, but like I said. It’d be fun to watch.” Waverly smiled back, the knot in her stomach finally loosening up. She’d had her own answers about proposing the whole time.

Nicole loved her and she loved Nicole.

It was as simple as that.

++++++++++++++++++++++

Wynnona stared at the picture on her phone again.

For once in her life she’d been trying to do the polite thing and leave a little note telling Nicole thanks for taking care of her—and maybe slip in a few digs at her drunken behavior—and instead she’d stumbled across something on the Captain’s desk that she was sure she wasn’t supposed to see.

The only problem was now she couldn’t unsee it.

And her bounty hunter instincts kicked in and she’d snapped a photo of the letter.

Now she had to figure out what to do with the info.

Shit

Shit. Shit. Shit

Waverly was the happiest she’d ever seen, but she knew she couldn’t keep this information to herself.

She was going to have to be the bad guy, a role she’d gladly accept if it protected Waverly in the long run.

Chapter Text


Waverly was blatantly ignoring her sister. She had received no less than fifteen ridiculous texts that morning demanding that she come by the homestead before heading to see Nicole when she got back to town.

Not happening.

Nicole had planned the day off and she was headed straight over to her girlfriend’s house and whatever her sister needed could wait a couple of hours.

During the drive she’d been going over and over how to broach the subject of having dinner with Shae. She’d meant to mention it the night before, but she and Nicole hadn’t been able to connect. Nicole had been out on a call late into the evening so they settled for a few texts just so she knew her firefighter girlfriend had made it back safe and sound.

Now the guilt was gnawing at her and she wanted to get it off her chest right away—then they could get down to celebrating her new job. She didn’t think Nicole would be upset about them meeting, but potentially a little hurt that she hadn’t mentioned it.

Pulling into Nicole’s driveway, she wondered if there would ever be a time that she wasn’t constantly bombarding Nicole with emotional outbursts or if this was always how they were going to work.

Laughing a little to herself, she realized that regardless of how stable their relationship was she would always be the one with the hair trigger emotions and reactions. Nicole would have to accept that it was her lot in life to deal with it.

The front door opened as she made her way up the front steps and Nicole darted out of the house and scooped her up in a hug and swung them around.

“You did it baby!!! I’m so proud of you!” Nicole spun her around one more time for good measure and then gently set the smaller woman back down.

“Wow...I’d leave for a couple of days more often if it gets that kind of reaction.” Waverly face lit up with a smile and she pulled Nicole forward by her shirt, smashing their lips together in a messy kiss.

Once they pulled apart, Nicole practically dragged Waverly inside. “I want to hear all about the interview, everything. Did you get your glass of whiskey last night?”

Nicole’s happiness was infectious. Waverly still found herself in awe of so much genuine, positive emotion directed at her all of the time. Waverly nodded her head and finished pulling them into the living room. “I did. I have to tell you something.”

Nicole’s expression morphed into concern instantly. “Is everything okay? Did something happen? Are you okay?”

Waverly sat down on the couch and pulled Nicole down beside her. She laced their fingers together, her back ramrod straight and she turned herself to face the redhead. “Yes, yes and yes.” Waverly paused—not sure how to start, but the worried look on Nicole’s face made her plow ahead.

“I took Shae’s number out of your phone and I met her for dinner last night and I feel terrible about it and I mostly just wanted to see if we could get along and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” Waverly’s posture deflated and she hunched into herself.

Nicole face scrunched up in confusion. “What are you sorry about exactly?”

“That I took her number and that I didn’t tell you.” Waverly’s eyes filled with remorse, her only saving grace was their linked hands.

“Were you planning on keeping it from me? I would have gladly given her your number if I would have known you wanted it.” Nicole was frowning, but it was more out of concern for Waverly than being upset.

“I...I didn’t want to ask because I wasn’t sure I would have the guts to actually meet her and I didn’t want you to get disappointed if that’s something you wanted...us to be friends or whatever. So I thought it would be better to not say anything and then see if I did it and then say something?” Waverly squeezed their hands tighter. “It wasn’t. Better, I mean. I felt bad. Feel bad.”

Nicole waited for a few beats to make sure Waverly was done. “Not to be a broken record, but feel bad about what exactly?”

“Taking her number out of your phone, which is like a huge invasion of privacy…meeting her without telling you, because I felt like I was doing something behind your back...maybe a little bad about telling her off?” Waverly’s lips turned down. “I don’t think we’re going to exactly be friends if you were hoping for that.”

Nicole laughed and Waverly felt a weight lift off her shoulders. “I can’t say that was something I ever thought about, but now that we’re talking about it...I don’t think you two would mesh very well? Maybe we could aim for friendly? Instead of friends?”

Waverly nodded her head in agreement, but stayed silent so Nicole continued. “As for the other stuff...don’t feel bad. I mean going through my phone isn’t ideal, but I also don’t have anything to hide from you. And just for the record--I don’t actually have to know where you’re at and what you’re doing 24/7. How about we agree this is one of those relationship learning curves and call it good? After I get all the details on how you told her off…” Nicole poked Waverly a few times, grinning when she finally got a smile out of her.

“Deal. I love you. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before? But also while I was driving here I realized that you’re always going to have to the calming force in this relationship...”

Nicole laughed again and pulled Waverly into her chest. “I think I figured that one out on my own babe, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. How boring would it be if the entire landscape of our relationship was flat? I like a few curves.”

“Was that supposed to sound dirty or am I just a little deprived after three days?”

Nicole smirked. “Both? How long can you stay?”

Waverly’s shoulders fell. “Well...how about I run over to the homestead and grab a bag and see Wynonna...she’s been texting all morning about going straight over there...and then I’ll come back over and stay the night?”

“That sounds perfect. I can’t wait to hear all about the interview and everything. You want me to make us dinner?”

“Yes please. Or pick up dinner. I could really care less. Let me just go take care of the big baby and I’ll be back over.”

“I’ll keep my pout to a minimum when you drive off again...”

Waverly playfully shoved Nicole and laughed when she tried to keep her face from cracking a smile. “Goober.”

“A whipped goober. Get out of here so you can get back.”

Waverly gave the red head one more peck on the lips and headed for the door. “You know what bossy does to me...”

“Yeah, so hurry up.”

“All right, all right. I’m going. I’ll be back later.” Waverly threw one more wave over her shoulder as she walked out the door.

++++++++++++++

Waverly felt a thousand times lighter as she pulled away from Nicole’s house. Now all she had to do was placate her sister and she could head back over to where she belonged.

As she drove back to the homestead she let her mind wander to her next big project.

A proposal.

Being the planner that she was, she started to plot and scheme and lay out a timeline in the short ten-minute drive. By the time she’d pulled into her own driveway she was well on her way to something that would absolutely blow Nicole away.

The woman deserved everything and Waverly wanted to be the one that gave it to her.

Her daydreaming was cut short as Wynonna stepped out on the porch before she’d even gotten out of her jeep.

That wasn’t a good sign.

“About damn time.” Wynonna grumbled.

“I went to Nicole’s. You’re not actually the boss of me anymore. I think you forget that.” Waverly shot back. So much for her good mood.

“Damn it, Waves. I wouldn’t have told you to come here first if it wasn’t important.” Wynonna grabbed one of Waverly’s bags for her and followed her inside. She dropped it at the base of the stairs and pushed Waverly towards the living room. “You need to be sitting for this.”

“What in the actual fuck, Wynonna?” Waverly resolutely refused to sit and crossed her arms in a huff.

“Look. I don’t want to do this and you can be plenty pissed at me later. I’m just trying to look out for you.” She huffed and plopped down on the couch, sliding a piece of paper towards her sister. “Look.”

Waverly glared at her sister for a few beats before curiosity won out and she sat down next to her, sliding the paper closer towards herself. The room was silent for a few minutes while she read over the document and the more she read the more she struggled with her composure. Finally she broke the silence with a whisper. “How’d you get this?”

“When I stayed over at her place. And before you go thinking I was digging around, I wasn’t. She just left it out on her desk like it was no big deal. She’s leaving you, Waves.” Wynonna reached a hand out to comfort her sister, only to have it batted away.

Waverly shot up from the couch and started to pace the room. “That’s a lot of assumptions, sis.” Waverly was livid.

At Wynonna.

At Nicole.

At herself.

“It’s a job offer. Dated last week. What am I supposed to assume from that? I’m not even going to get started on the Nicole Pressman part. Do you even know what her real name is? What do we actually know about her?” Wynonna’s voice raised with each accusation.

“You’re assuming I didn’t know. You’re assuming I’d just stay behind here in this shit hole town. You’re assuming I don’t know my own girlfriend!” Waverly’s eyes filled with tears, the emotions from the past 48 hours catching up with her. “You don’t have a monopoly on leaving Wy. Maybe I’m going with her.”

“Are you?”

“No.” Waverly was openly sobbing and Wynonna risked getting pushed away again and closed the gap between them, pulling her sister into her arms. Waverly let herself be held, but she didn’t return the embrace.

“I’m sorry.” Wynonna said, when Waverly’s sobs slowed.

Waverly shoved Wynonna away. “You’re sorry? You can’t show that to me without any sort of explanation and then apologize. It doesn’t work like that! Now what am I supposed to do? Confront her? Tell her my sister was going through her shit? Tell me how you saw this going.” Waverly was turned, squared off against the perceived attack, arms crossed and her face the picture of devastation.

Wynonna’s face fell. She hadn’t thought beyond telling Waverly. Protecting Waverly. Or assuming she was protecting Waverly.

“Exactly.” Waverly looked at Wynonna, her eyes never leaving her sister’s. “Get out. I don’t want you here.”

“But—“

“No. Nicole isn’t one of your marks and now I have to figure out how fix this mess. And the kicker is I could still come out the one who gets hurt. Get. Out.” Waverly’s voice was a deadly whisper.

Wynonna wanted to argue, but she’d known what she was risking when she decided to show Waverly what she’d found. The only problem was now she wasn’t so sure about that decision. “Fine.” She wanted to add so much more to that sentence, but she knew with time Waverly would see she really had just been looking out for her.

++++++++++++++++++

Nicole frowned down at her phone.

Feel sick, don’t want you to catch it. I’ll call tomorrow.

Nothing about the text sounded right. She messaged back immediately, but her response, so far, had gone unanswered. Willing herself not to panic she finished up her grocery shopping and headed back out to her car. After piling the groceries in the back she allowed herself to pull the phone back out.

Ten minutes since her last message.

She didn’t want to be clingy or ridiculous, but they’d only made plans together two hours ago. Something had gone terribly wrong, but what? And how hard should she push?

She messaged again, offering soup and company—keeping it light and hopefully something that sounded panic-free.

Nothing. Again.

She tried to call, but the call went to voicemail.

She sat in the grocery store parking lot for another ten minutes, before deciding to drive home on the off-chance Waverly changed her mind and show up there.

Nicole went over and over their interaction that afternoon and she couldn’t pinpoint anything that had been amiss. She was still racking her brain when she got home and she hurried to put away the groceries, her stomach sick with worry.

She messaged again, this time a simple I love you, hoping it would elicit some sort of reaction from her girlfriend.

Radio silence.

Think, Nicole. Think about it like a fire. What’s the root cause? She came straight here. You talked about Shae, she left happy and excited to spend the night, excited to tell you about her job. Ran home to see Wynonna…Wynonna who had insisted she come see her immediately...so was it Wynnona related or job related?

Nicole quickly dismissed the idea of something stemming from the job offer. Waverly would share that with her. What Waverly wouldn't do is deal with something head on if it scared her emotionally.

And Nicole knew that even though Waverly loved her and she knew how much Nicole loved her, she was perpetually scared she was going to lose her.

That what they had was too good to be true.

This had to be about them.

Nicole sat down on the couch and went over everything and anything she’d talked to Wynonna about in those last few days. There hadn’t been any revelations or anything she’d told her that Waverly didn’t already know. Nicole leaned back into the couch and fought the urge to cry. Willing her eyes to focus on something and not let the tears fall, she looked at the picture of her and Waverly that sat proudly on her desk.

Realization hit her and her body went cold. “No…no, no, no…” Nicole jumped up and ran over across the room.

The job offer.

Sitting right out in the open where anyone--certainly a specific bounty hunter that she had nursed back to health two days ago--would be able to see it.

This was not happening.

She pulled out her phone and dialed Wynonna’s number.

“What?” Wynonna’s voice was clipped.

Nicole didn’t bother with niceties. If Waverly was hurting she didn’t have time to waste. “Did you tell her about the job offer?”

After a pregnant pause, Nicole got her answer. “Yep.”

Nicole didn’t respond, knowing she would say something she couldn’t ever take back and that she was wasting precious minutes when she knew Waverly was in melt-down mode. She grabbed the letter and her keys and bolted to her car.

 

Chapter Text

Waverly tossed her phone down on the coffee table, her stomach sick with guilt. She knew ignoring all of Nicole’s messages was going to send the woman into a panic—but she was already mid-panic meltdown herself and she couldn’t figure out what to say.

 

Or do.

 

That was a lie.

 

She knew what she wanted to do, but the idea kept circling her brain and she was trying to convince herself it was crazy.

 

Because it was.

 

She stared at the fireplace that Nicole had painstakingly examined all those months ago before she would let her or her sister light a fire in it.

 

She thought about the kindness in her eyes when she looked at Waverly and patiently answered all her questions.

 

She thought about the kitchen tile Nicole had placed one by one after the many, many, many times she had changed her mind on a color scheme.

 

Nicole loved her.

 

That was an absolute.

 

She didn’t know what the job offer was about or what Nicole was thinking, but there wasn’t a doubt about how the woman felt about her.

 

At least not now that the cloud of anger from her fight with her sister had cleared away and she was able to think about it from a different perspective. She knew that some of her own emotions stemmed from a lack of confidence in her own ability to have a successful long-term relationship or even—in her darkness moments—that she even deserved someone like Nicole.

 

Nicole loved her.

 

She loved Nicole.

 

That made all the difference and helped her feel less reckless about the decision she’d made.

 

She grabbed her phone and keys and blindly bolted out the front door.

 

And smacked into something very solid.

 

“Ow.”

 

“Shit.”

 

Strong hands reached out to steady her and Waverly looked up into big, brown eyes and she couldn’t help but sigh in relief at seeing them.

 

“You okay baby? I kinda…” Nicole studied Waverly intently, looking for any signs of injury or distress.

 

“Ran into me like a linebacker?” Waverly smiled and then quickly frowned, remembering why she was in such a hurry to leave.

 

“Yeah.” Nicole continued to frown too, studying Waverly.

 

“I’m fine.” Waverly stared back at Nicole, looking for any hint of…well—anything. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Oh…um…I got worried? You weren’t answering anything.” Nicole tried her best to look only half as flustered and out of control as she felt. “That’s a lie. Look,” She reached in her back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. “I know Wynonna found this and she showed it to you and—“

 

“I’ll go with you!”

 

Nicole’s eyebrows lifted in surprise, almost too stunned to say anything. “What?”

 

“What?” Waverly was just as caught off guard with her outburst as Nicole seemed to be. Yes, she had decided that’s what she wanted, but she definitely had not planned on it coming out like that.

 

“You…holy shit…” Nicole’s mouth continued to move but no words escaped.

 

“Oh god…oh god…I should not have blurted that out like that…that was not the plan.” Waverly broke away from Nicole and started to pace the front porch. “Why do I always screw up my plans around you?”

 

“No…no, no.” Nicole limply waved her hands around. “You’re good. It’s…” She stared off across the field, her face a mixture of wonder and dopey happiness. She shook her head a little and turned her focus back to Waverly. “You love me, love me…”

 

Waverly stared at her girlfriend in disbelief.

 

Then her expression morphed into a scowl.

 

“Of course I do you giant, beautiful idiot.” Waverly softened her gaze. She realized in that very moment that perhaps it wasn’t just her with insecurities—that maybe both of them were a little worried that this thing between them might be too good to be true sometimes.

 

Waverly made the first move and stepped back into Nicole’s space, curling her arms around her slim waist.

 

Nicole hummed at the contact and kissed Waverly on top of the head. “I’m not leaving though.”

 

“Oh.” Waverly kept her head buried in Nicole’s chest, embarrassment heating her cheeks. “Can we forget what I just said then?” She mumbled into Nicole’s shirt.

 

Waverly felt the chuckle rumble in the red head’s chest and she bumped at her with her forehead.

 

“No…that’s not a thing that will be happening.” Nicole chuckled again at Waverly’s groan. “So…just to clarify—how much trouble am I in? Like on a scale of breakfast in bed to say…diamonds to fix it?”

 

Waverly pulled back from their embrace to look at Nicole’s face. “Honestly? I feel like this one is on me. And my idiot sister. How much trouble am I in? Breakfast or diamonds?”

 

“I’d never turn down breakfast. Think you could make me a dutch baby?” Nicole’s tone was teasing, until she caught Waverly’s glare and she corrected her path. “But you aren’t in any trouble at all…we just had a misunderstanding? Miscommunication? I’m actually not sure what happened.”

 

“Really? You’re not mad I blew you off all afternoon? It’s that easy?” Waverly asked, not believing Nicole wasn’t upset.

 

“Yes. Because I love you, we’re talking about it, and I’m guessing that you were headed out the door to come see me? So that helps…things are going to happen. And we’ll fix them. I’ll tell you that until you believe me.” Nicole shrugged awkwardly.

 

Waverly stared at Nicole for a few beats—taking in the look of pure adoration and confidence in her words. Abruptly, Waverly launched herself at Nicole and smashed into her—kissing her with every ounce of feeling and determination she could. Groaning, Nicole spun them around and pinned Waverly against the side of the house, their bodies melding together.

 

Waverly lost herself in the contact and the neediness they were both reveling in. She nipped at Nicole’s bottom lip and pushed her girlfriend lightly in the chest, breaking their contact. “Upstairs.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Waverly dragged her by the arm into the house and up the stairs, not once looking back.

 

+++++++++++++++++

 

“Shit.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Make up sex really is the best kind of sex.” Nicole said dreamily.

 

“It really is.”

 

After a few more minutes of post-bliss cuddling Nicole spoke up again. “So we’re really all right?” She traced patterns across Waverly’s back as she waited for the woman’s answer.

 

“Yes. I had a moment where…” Waverly pushed herself up a little and shifted so she could see Nicole’s face when she said what she needed to. “I had a moment…or really a few…where I was doubting us. I didn’t understand and I thought well this is it—she’s leaving me. But…” Waverly turned away and settled her head back on Nicole’s chest. “But then I sat down and calmed down and I thought about you…and us. Like really thought. And it was pretty clear that I’m crazy for you and you’re crazy for me so I owed it to us to figure this out…that it was probably something stupid.”

 

Nicole kept her soothing strokes going as she thought about her response and how much she should reveal. “I’ve said this before—that I want to be your somebody—but you’re…you’re it for me Waves.” Nicole looked down into Waverly’s eyes and smiled. “You’re my person. I don’t…you never have to doubt me. I’m not saying you can’t—I’m just saying talk to me and we’ll get through anything. I know it. I feel it. This is real and beautiful and…” Nicole’s voice trailed off into a whisper. “You’re the one I want forever.”

 

Waverly felt the tears welling up in her eyes and didn’t bother to stop them from spilling over. “You’re my person too. I…you being so patient and loving and understanding…sometimes it overwhelms me in the best and worst ways. I love you.”

 

They spent a few more moments in silence, both taking in their confessions and enjoying the new-found level of connection. Nicole was the first to break the silence again. “So the letter, I was going to show you before we got sidetracked,” Nicole laughed at the light slap to her stomach and continued. “Anyway, it was a letter from Julie. The lady who was got me away from the cult? She’s a chief now. I get letters pretty regular because when I graduated—and my legal name was still Pressman then by the way, but not anymore—I applied in a ton of places because wait lists for fire departments can be long.”

 

“Do you want to reach out to her?” Waverly asked, curious about Nicole’s thoughts on seeking out someone from her past.

 

“Maybe. I really was just meaning to copy down her contact info and then throw away the letter, but then your sister was sick and things went kinda went from there.” Nicole answered uncomfortably. She wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted, but she had figured having the information logged somewhere would help her make a decision someday.

 

“I’m going to kill my sister for this.” Waverly mumbled grumpily.

 

“Huh. I kinda feel like I owe her one. I got super awesome make-up sex and neither one of us was really in trouble…” Nicole smiled blissfully.

 

“Who knew you were such a horn dog? And you don’t owe her a damn thing. I will make up fights for us if that’s what you want. No need for her to stir the pot.”

 

“No thank you. I’m good. We can have regular awesome-not-make-up sex instead.” Nicole kissed the top of Waverly’s head and pulled the woman a little closer.

 

“That’s what I thought.” Waverly turned her head towards the window. “Did you hear that?”

 

“Yeah. Sounds like a certain someone’s truck.”

 

“At least she’s not interrupting for once.”

 

“True.”

 

Nicole shifted so she could see Waverly’s face. “Listen. Can you go easy on her?” At Waverly’s glare Nicole stumbled on her train of thought. “I…uh…I have a hard time being mad at her when I know she was just trying to protect you. I have to respect that…it makes me feel good that if I’m not here you have someone in your corner like that.”

 

Waverly narrowed her eyes at the woman. “Aargh…I can’t argue with that. But she still could have done things a million different ways.” Waverly huffed and flopped back against the pillows.

 

Nicole slid out of bed and started searching for her clothes, tossing things of Waverly’s at the bed as she found them. “She could have…but this is Wynonna we’re talking about…”

 

“I know. But she was an asshole about it all and I hate that she didn’t trust you.” Waverly rolled out of bed and started to get dressed, her scowl never leaving her face.

 

“Fair point, but maybe just talk to her about that? Maybe she has a hard time believing this isn’t too good to be true like you.” Nicole trailed off quietly. She knew that Waverly struggled with that, but they’d never out and out discussed it head on.

 

Waverly stared at her with disbelief. “I never…how do you get me so well?”

 

“I love you.” Nicole said with a shrug. She sat down to pull on her shoes and smiled softly to herself.

 

“I still can’t believe you’re defending her, but I will keep that in mind.”

 

The front door slammed open and they heard Wynonna yelling from the living room. “Hey! I saw Nicole’s car so don’t be naked please?! I’m down in the living room! Just in case anyone here needs to know!”

 

Waverly stalked out of the room, a scary amount of determination in her steps. She stomped down the stairs and marched up to her sister with her arm cocked back. When Wynonna covered her face Waverly used her surprise advantage and punched her sister's left boob.

 

Hard.

 

“Son of a bitch! Ow!” Wynonna rubbed at her injured girl-part and backed up a few steps from her fuming sister. “What the hell?”

 

“You deserve a lot worse you jerk. I should punch the other one.”

 

“No. You really shouldn’t.”

 

The sisters stared at each other in a stale mate.

 

“Fine.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Did Haught-mess fess up?” Wynonna asked.

 

“Yes. And you can’t call her that since there wasn’t anything to confess. You’re an idiot and I would appreciate you not butting in my relationship anymore.”

 

Wynonna continued to rub her chest and she looked at Waverly. “I can’t promise that sis. How about maybe promise not to jump to conclusions anymore.”

 

“Gus talked some sense into you didn’t she?” Waverly relaxed her posture slightly, now that she’d gotten the fight out of her system.

 

“Maybe. Or maybe I’m getting like enlightened and shit on my own.”

 

“No you aren’t. And just so you know so you don’t snoop—she only wanted some contact info off the letter.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Hey guys?” Nicole yelled from the top of the stairs. “Is it safe for me to come down?”

 

“Yeah babe. Wynonna was just apologizing.” Waverly smiled gleefully at her sister.

 

“She’s not going to punch me too is she?” Wynonna whispered.

 

“Probably not.” Nicole answered for herself, as she came up behind Waverly. “I think I will just bide my time and get back at you when you least expect it. That sounds more fun.” She rested her hands on Waverly’s shoulders, hoping that a little contact from her would calm the woman down.

 

“Fun. Yep. That sounds like soooo much fun.” Wynonna rolled her eyes and pushed past the two women. “I need a drink. You two staying here tonight or what?” She grabbed a beer out of the fridge and cracked it open.

 

The two women in question glanced at each other having a silent conversation. After a little nod from Waverly, Nicole answered for them. “I think we’ll be heading back over to my place. I bought stuff for dinner. You can come hang out if you want?”

 

Wynonna and Waverly gave Nicole the same surprised look.

 

“What? You haven’t seen each other for three days either?” Nicole shrugged. “I know how you guys are and as much as I would love to have a monopoly on all Waverly’s time…”

 

“You might be the nicest person I’ve ever met. It makes me want to throw up a little.” Wynonna said, with only a hint of sarcasm.

 

“Is that a yes? Sister night at my place?” Nicole glanced at both women.

 

“Yes.” Waverly rocked up on her tip-toes and gave Nicole a quick peck. I’m going to pack a bag though because I’m for sure staying the night.”

 

When she disappeared up the stairs Nicole walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table facing Wynonna. “You can trust me.” She said quietly.

 

Wynonna looked conflicted for a few moments before she replied. “I think I know that.” Her honest answer surprised them both and they sat there in silence for a few minutes.

 

“You’ll keep watching out for her though? If I’m not around?” Nicole finally asked.

 

“Yeah, I will.” Wynonna took a drink of her beer. “You’ll do the same?”

 

“Yeah, I will.” Nicole replied, the simple answer sounding more like a vow.

Chapter Text


“I’m stuck.”

“What are you talking about?” Wynonna leaned over and batted the notebook away from Waverly’s face. “There. Unstuck.”

“Wynonna.” Waverly rolled her eyes, her irritation palpable.

“What? I’m trying to watch this movie you insisted on even though you’re scribbling super-secret notes and not paying any attention to it or me.”

“Are you pouting?” Waverly asked.

“Yes.” Wynonna proved her point by crossing her arms and jutting out her bottom lip. “You can’t tell?”

Waverly rolled her eyes again, but took pity on her sister and handed her the notebook. “Here.” Waverly turned her attention to the movie, sliding her eyes towards her sister every few seconds. They were curled up on the couch together, unsuccessfully watching an obscure thriller Waverly had randomly picked from the Netflix queue after she’d insisted on a movie night.

“I can see you.” Wynonna kicked her legs out a little and nudged Waverly’s side. “Super bounty-hunter powers.”

“Or I’m crap at being sneaky.” Waverly mumbled.

“Also that.” Wynonna flipped through a few more pages, one page in particular making her laugh out loud. “Is this a sketch of Nicole’s living room?”

Instead of answering Waverly yanked her plans out of her sister’s hands and turned her body away, shielding the sketches and notes. “You’re such an asshole.”

Wynonna nudged her sister’s side again, sensing the shift in her mood. “Hey, I’m sorry. Walk me through it.”

Waverly didn’t answer immediately. She scrutinized every inch of Wynonna’s face, trying to discern her sincerity.

“I’m serious. Walk me through it, I’ll be helpful and I promise I won’t laugh.” She paused, rethinking that promise. “I promise I’ll try not to laugh?” When Waverly continued to stare Wynonna lifted her hand slowly, making an X over her heart.

Waverly sighed. “Fine. Yes, it’s her living room and yes—I know I’ve gone overboard and yes—it’s an entire notebook of notes dedicated to my proposal and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.”

It was Waverly’s turn to pause. Wynonna wisely chose to stay quiet until she continued. “Okay, that’s not exactly true. I know what I’m doing. I just don’t know how to get Nicole away from her house for a day so I can set up.”

“I’ll start a fire.” Wynonna supplied all too quickly.

Waverly scoffed. “That would only work if she was working. And if she was working she’d be on shift 24 hours and I don’t want to propose after she’s been at work that long.”

“I’ll take her out drinking.” Wynonna tried again.

“Wy.” Waverly whined.

“Right. You probably don’t want to propose if she’s drunk either.” Wynonna rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “I’m not doing any of that hiking or rock climbing shit she does.”

“You’d end up getting yourself hurt and I probably shouldn’t propose if my sister was in the hospital.” Waverly smiled, her anxiety already lifting because of their exchange.

“Thanks.” Wynonna thought for a few minutes, genuinely invested because she wanted her sister to stop stressing over this whole ordeal. “I got it!”

“What?”

“Find some old lady in town that needs a little help at her house and your sucker of a girlfriend wouldn’t be able to refuse!”

“That’s...actually not a bad idea.” Waverly said, contemplating it.

Wynonna nudged her side again. “Right? I knew I could fix this.”

“I wouldn’t go that far. But it is a pretty good idea.”

“Nailed it.” Wynonna pumped her fist in the air.

She nudged Waverly again.

“See what I did there? Nails? Nicole uses nails to fix things...” She waggled her eyebrows, trying to bait Waverly into laughing.

Waverly groaned.

“I got it. Not your best work.” She picked the notebook back up, this time a smile in place as she started to make more notes.

Wynonna let her attention shift back to the movie, happy that she seemed to have actually helped her sister for once.

++++++++++++++++

“I’m stuck.”

“Oh no.” Wynonna stared at the side of Nicole’s head.

She didn’t like where this was going.

The two had met up for drinks at Shorty’s while Waverly was busy working on a project for her new job. They still weren’t completely on even ground since the letter incident—mostly because Wynonna was completely paranoid that Nicole was planning to get her back all the time and Nicole was happy to let Wynonna stay in such a paranoid state.

It worked for them.

It didn’t mean that they talked about stuff though. The ground rules regarding all-things-Waverly that Wynonna had laid out when she was sick were still in play so Wynonna really, really didn’t like where this was going.

“What?” Nicole looked at Wynonna, confused.

“Nothing.” Wynonna mumbled.

“I want to do something for your sister and I know we aren’t supposed to talk about her but I really kind of need your opinion.” Nicole earnest look made Wynonna crumble.

“When did I become this person? Go ahead.” She turned back to the bar and took a swig of her whiskey.

“I’m...” Nicole paused, not sure how much she should say. It wasn’t exactly that she didn’t trust Wynonna, it was more she knew the woman had a tendency to say things she shouldn’t and she wasn’t sure she could trust her to keep this a secret. “I’m planning a thing for your sister only I’m not sure how I can pull it off...”

Wynonna stared at Nicole.

And then stared a little more.

Finally, she shook her head and threw back the rest of her drink. “What happened to not proposing for three years?”

“That’s not...no...I mean...that’s...I’m just...” Nicole stuttered. She had drastically changed her timeline, but when Waverly had offered to move away with her she realized that there was no reason to wait. Waverly didn’t need more time or whatever noble excuse she’d come up with when she decided three years was a good amount of time to wait.

But Wynonna didn’t need to know any of that.

Wynonna saw the dopey look on Nicole’s face and decided she didn’t actually want an answer to her question. “Whatever. I’m sure you’re gonna say lovey-dovey shit about her and other BS that I don’t want to hear so let’s skip it. Seriously, when did I become this person?” The last bit was mumbled mostly to herself, but Nicole heard enough to narrow her eyes at the implication. “What’s the problem?” Wynonna asked, her voice a little firmer.

“I have a ring. I just don’t know what to do. Like...I want to give her the world and this amazing, unforgettable proposal—but also I have the ring and it’s at my house and sometimes I want to run and grab it and shove it in her face and ask her to marry me and move in because it’s killing me to wait until I figure out some grand plan.” Nicole waved her hands around as she spoke, an outward sign of her agitation.

“Uh...I’m sure you’ll figure out something.” Wynonna wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say. If Nicole waited a little longer Waverly had plans of her own.

And holy shenanigans was she regretting being friends with her sister’s significant other right now.

She kept her eyes on the bottles behind the bar, not daring to look at Nicole.

Nicole chewed on her lower lip, waiting a few seconds to see if Wynonna was going to add anything. When she didn’t she sighed. “I guess that asking you was a little silly. I don’t think I would want to plan anything for you and Dolls...it was bad enough when Chief Nedley asked if I might happen to know Gus’s favorite food the other day...”

Wynonna snorted. The Gus/Nedley not-so-romantic romance was a gift that kept giving. “Right...so nope. Let’s not talk about it. I’ll forget you said anything at all about anything. So how about those hockey players, huh?”

Nicole’s face was scrunched up in confusion. “What hockey players?”

“Jesus, Nicole. Just roll with this one.”

“Oh right. Yep, those hockey players, man.” She added a thoughtful nod and sipped her beer, reveling at the odd dynamic the two of them had when Waverly wasn’t around.

It felt good.

If not a little terrifying at times—to be surrounded by a found-family that she felt like she’d belonged with forever. She picked up her beer and clinked glasses with Wynonna, deciding she wasn’t going to worry about it anymore that night. The perfect plan would come to her eventually.

“And what about those...uh...”

“Just drink Nicole.” Wynonna cut off her rambling.

“Yep. Okay.”

+++++++++++++++++++

Waverly was plagued by a single thought for three solid weeks-when, when, when? She had the perfect plan, the perfect diversion and the perfect ring.

Now she needed the perfect time.

Their one year anniversary was two weeks away and while part of her wanted to wait until that night—another, bigger part of her was telling her to hurry up and do it.

She was sure Nicole was planning something too.

And she was sure her girlfriend was planning whatever it was for their anniversary date.

The closer it got to the 18th the twitchier Nicole was getting. Pacing, mumbling, overly jumpy—sometimes disappearing upstairs when they were at her house only to come back down forgetting why she went...in a word—shifty.

Behavior like this in any previous relationship would have sent her into a self-doubting panic.

With Nicole?

Amused.

It was the only word that fit. There were a few times she’d wanted to call her girlfriend out about the behavior—if only to end Nicole’s torture, but she knew how much her own little project meant to herself and she didn’t want to rob her of that experience.

So she waited.

It didn’t mean though, that her plan was going to the back burner. She’d decided that morning she was going to set things in motion the weekend before their anniversary.

Not that it was a race, but whatever Nicole was planning Waverly was going to go first.

She’d put too much work into this plan to risk waiting until their anniversary and potentially stealing Nicole’s moment.

It was the chivalrous thing to do, really.

She’d get her turn and Nicole could plan anything she wanted for them the next weekend.

One week from now she was going to propose. All she had to do was initiate Phase One that evening while they were at dinner.

+++++++++++++++++

“This feels weird.” Nicole said, fiddling with the radio in Waverly’s jeep.

“What does?” Waverly frowned, her own unsettled feelings creeping into her tone. “Sorry, that sounded way harsher than I wanted it to...what’s weird babe?” She reached over and patted Nicole’s thigh.

“You driving me.” Nicole looked over at Waverly with a sheepish smile.

Waverly laughed. “Well I’m taking you out to dinner so I wanted to give you the full experience—otherwise it wouldn’t be much different than our normal outings would it?”

“True, I’ll just sit over here and enjoy it...and now that we’re talking about it...you do look super-sexy driving this. Why don’t we do it more?”

“I’m really not sure, but I’ll drive you where ever you want if you sweet talk me like that.” Waverly grinned happily.

“I can’t believe you’re driving me an hour just so I can get my noodle fix.” Nicole slid her left hand across the seat divide and rested it on Waverly’s thigh, squeezing a little for emphasis.

“I’d say something about you being worth it—which you totally are—but also I’m craving some Kung Pao chicken hardcore so it’s not really a hardship.” Waverly patted the hand resting on her thigh and threaded their fingers together.

Nicole couldn’t believe how easy this all felt. She’d tried a dozen times over the last few weeks to propose to Waverly, because of a million little times like this.

Easy banter about noodles and King Pao chicken.

Gentle teasing about who should be driving.

Somehow though—every single time she’d ran up her stairs to grab the ring and get down on one knee she’d talked herself out of it, wanting to give Waverly something that was better planned.

And each time the moment drifted away and she kicked herself later. Every moment they had together was perfect. There was never going to be one single more perfect moment, but maybe her plans for their upcoming anniversary would suffice her inner-voice telling her to go big or go home.

She turned her attention towards Waverly when she felt a tug on her hand.

“You okay over there? You drifted off for a minute.” Waverly asked, the concern clearly written on her face.

Nicole smiled. “Perfect. Just thinking about how every little moment with you is the best.”

“Yeah?”

Nicole nodded her head.

“What if it’s a moment where I need a favor?” Waverly glanced over at her passenger.

“You know I can’t say no to you.” Nicole gave her a dopey half-smile. 

“Well that’s good because I maybe volunteered you to build a chicken coop for Mrs. Montgomery? This weekend...” Waverly cringed a little as she waited for Nicole’s reaction.

“Waves. No.”

“Honey...please?” She shot her best pouty eyes towards her girlfriend.

“That woman...she...Waves.” Nicole whined, knowing full well she wasn’t going to be able to say no to Waverly in the end.

“She’s only hit on you a few times. I highly doubt she’s going to do anything while you’re doing her a favor. Really, you should be flattered you can turn an 82 year old’s head.” Waverly couldn’t help but laugh at Nicole’s pouting. “It’s not her fault that you remind her of her best friend.” Waverly waggled her eyebrows at the term.

“You’re gonna owe me so big for this. What prompted this?”

“She was in Shorty’s last week and I overheard her talking about how the wind storm a few weeks back had blown hers down and that she was going to have to get rid of the chickens that her best friend had bought her right before she passed away and...well...I couldn’t help it...” That wasn’t exactly how it had gone down, but Mrs. Montgomery was fully on board with Operation Lock Down Fire Pants so she wasn’t worried about a detail-check. 

And so maybe the two of them had to knock her old chicken coop over with Waverly’s jeep.

And then maybe the two of them had to go buy some new chickens, because she couldn’t really justify a whole new coop for one old rooster...because for an old, dusty town there wasn’t very many little old ladies that needed home improvement projects done.

And so maybe Waverly had gotten a little desperate and used the older woman’s odd fixation with her girlfriend to help with her plans.

Turns out that Mrs. Montgomery wasn’t nearly as senile as everyone thought. She only liked to play it up when it suited her.

“Pity chickens? That’s the card you’re playing?” Nicole huffed. “Fine. One chicken chalet for Mrs. Montgomery’s in-memoriam-chickens.”

“You’re the best babe. I’ll tell her not to goose you while you’re working.”

“Maybe tell her never to goose me again?”

“Let the old lady live a little Haughtstuff...”

Nicole groaned. “Your sister is going to kill me. I was finally going to finish that last little bit of tile in your kitchen and officially be done with it.”

Waverly winced. “She’ll live. I’ll tell her about the sad chickens and she’ll be so busy making fun of you that she’ll forget about it.”

“It’s a good thing I love you.”

“I know. Now let’s go get you your noodle fix! We’re here.”

“Nice timing...” Nicole glared at her girlfriend, trying desperately not to smile.

Waverly didn’t bother answering, the cackling laugh as they pulled in the parking lot said enough.

  

 

Chapter Text

Nicole searched around the living room for her keys. She wanted to get over to Mrs. Montgomery’s house as soon as she could to knock out her project. It was the first weekend she’d had off in over three weeks and she had plans for her and Waverly that evening. 

 

“Waves? Have you seen my keys?” Nicole yelled up the stairs, hoping that by some miracle Waverly knew where they were. 

 

“Yeah, they’re probably still in my purse...” Waverly hollered back, not trusting herself to head down the stairs just yet. Phase One of her plan for the day had actually started last night—when she purposefully left her girlfriend’s lights on in her car in order to run the battery down. 

 

Waverly listened—and held in a giggle—as Nicole rummaged through her purse and mumbled about the contents. When she heard a triumphant yelp she gathered her courage and made her way down the staircase. 

 

“Got ‘em babe.” Nicole leaned over the stair railing and gave Waverly a quick peck on the lips. “Love you and I’ll be back as soon as I can.” 

 

Waverly smiled down at her and hoped that it didn’t look too guilty. “Don’t rush too much...I don’t need you injuring any vital appendages.” 

 

Nicole snorted. “Noted. Come home with all of these attached.” She wiggled her fingers around and laughed as she headed out the front door. 

 

Waverly finished descending the stairs and headed to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee while she waited for Nicole’s imminent return. 

 

It didn’t take long before the other woman was walking back through the front door. 

 

“My car won’t start. I think the lights were left on or something?” Nicole’s face was scrunched up in genuine confusion and Waverly couldn’t help but love her even more for always being so unassuming. 

 

“Shit, sorry. I’m not used to driving your car and I probably did it. I’ll just throw some shoes on and run you over to Mrs. Montgomery’s?” Waverly didn’t wait for Nicole’s response and headed out of the kitchen to get her shoes. 

 

“Are you sure? I could just jump it from your jeep?” Nicole asked as she followed Waverly into the next room. 

 

Waverly panicked and she faltered for a half-beat. 

 

Having a car-capable girlfriend wasn’t something she’d thought all the way through. She quickly waved off the offer. “No, no. That’s ok. This will be fun because I’ll get to see the Chalet de la Chicken when I come pick you up later.” 

 

Nicole’s face continued to show her confusion, but she shrugged it off. “Sure, I guess…I mean it’s not going to be that big of a deal...” She stopped talking at Waverly’s pointed look. “Right. Toolbelt is hot. I forgot. Most people objectify me for my fireman’s gear.” 

 

“Let’s go Haughtstuff. And for the record I equally objectify both uniforms. And I have to say the Stetson is a nice touch today. Great for aesthetics.” Waverly marched out ahead of Nicole—outwardly on a mission to deliver Nicole to Mrs. Montgomery’s—inwardly congratulating herself on a successful rouse. 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++

 

 As they pulled up Mrs. Montgomery’s driveway, Nicole couldn’t help but admire the house. It was a cute 1930’s craftsmen style with a full wrap-around porch.

 

Any handy-person’s dream house.

 

“You’re drooling.” Waverly stated, her smirk only half hidden.

 

“Am not.” Nicole shot back, not bothering to try and hide her smile.

 

“Should I be worried about you trading me and the homestead in for older models?” Waverly teased as she climbed out of the jeep.

 

“Nah, the homestead has at least 20 years on this place. Easy.” Nicole rocked back on her heels a little, her attention still on the house.

 

Waverly slapped her in the stomach and planted herself in front of her girlfriend—hands on her hips and a scowl firmly in place.

 

“You started it.” Nicole whined. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around her waist, nullifying the impact of such an intimidating stance. “Let’s get back to where you were complimenting my cowboy hat and flannel look…I liked that better.”

 

Waverly softened, Nicole’s arms around her always softened her edges instantly. “It is a very good look. Mrs. Montgomery’s going to love it.”

 

Nicole pouted, “You’re gonna tell her not to goose me right?”

 

Waverly rolled her eyes. “Yes, you big baby. But I can’t tell her not to stare.”

 

“Deal.” Nicole pulled Waverly in a little tighter, never quite getting enough of her and seeking just one more touch whenever they were around each other. She kissed her softly and felt herself melting into it.

 

“You two lovebirds finished? I have chickens that need a home and you never know when someone my age is going to expire…so Captain Coppertop best get to it and stop making kissy faces at you Waverly.”

 

Waverly pulled back and turned towards the porch, laughing. “Now we both know you just want my girlfriend to get to work so you have something to look at all day.” She pointed towards the woman in a mock scold. “And I promised her there would be no goosing from you today. Understood?”

 

The older woman laughed. “I’ll try, but I’m a bit senile you see and I might not even remember why she’s here later, let alone that we had this conversation.”

 

Nicole groaned and Waverly patted her side. “We both know you’re as senile as you want to be.” Waverly stretched up on her tiptoes and gave Nicole another kiss. “I’ll be back around three. That give you enough time?”

 

“Yeah, that should be good.” Nicole looked around the yard, already mentally planning her project out.

 

“I love you and I’ll see you later.” Waverly turned back towards the porch to address Mrs. Montgomery one more time. “And you’ll make sure and get her to eat lunch?”

 

“Yes, yes. Now get. I’ll be on my best behavior seeings’ how she’s doing me such a big favor.” She shooed Waverly and played it up a little more when Nicole laughed. “See? She’ll be just fine. You go on and get whatever it is you need to get to today.”

 

From a few steps behind Nicole, Waverly winked and gave Mrs. Montgomery a thumb’s up. Their plan couldn’t have gone much smoother and now Nicole wasn’t going to have any way to run back to her house while Waverly was in the middle of preparations. She hopped in her jeep and waved at them both as she drove off.

 

“I guess that’s my cue to get started. Any specific requests for the coop?” Nicole asked, approaching the porch. As much as she put on, she genuinely liked the spunky old woman. 

 

“No, Waverly said you’d make something…magical? I think that’s the word she used, but she’s so love-sick maybe she just meant you’re magical.”

 

Nicole felt her face burning from embarrassment.

 

“Now there’s no need for any of that business. I may talk a big game but I really am a harmless old woman. Sometimes I’d even say a crazy old bat, but what I will say is if you hurt that girl nobody will ever find your body.” Mrs. Montgomery smiled placidly at Nicole.

 

Nicole swallowed hard. She’d been threatened by multiple people over hurting Waverly, but there wasn’t anyone’s threat she believed more than this woman’s. “Noted.”

 

“Perfect. I’ll be inside if you need anything. Despite what Waverly thinks I don’t have all the time in the world to sit around and enjoy the scenery.”

 

Nicole stood in the middle of the yard a few moments after the screen door slammed, wondering if she’d just imagined the wink Mrs. Montgomery finished that sentence with or not. Shrugging it off, she headed over to the old coop to see what kind of set up would work best in the area and her mind quickly shifted into work mode.

 

Before she knew it Mrs. Montgomery was calling her name from the porch and telling her lunch was ready. She’d made good progress and she thought she’d be well on her way to finished by the time Waverly came to pick her up.

 

Dutifully she finished up part she was in the middle of and put her tools away for the time being. One thing on the job site that had always been preached on repeat was clutter caused accidents and picking up after herself was a habit she never wanted to break. 

 

She slipped her boots off on the porch so she didn’t track anything inside and followed the smell of food towards the kitchen. 

 

“No hats inside.” Mrs. Montgomery said without even turning around. 

 

“Yes ma’am.” Nicole immediately took her Stetson off and placed it on the counter by the door. 

 

“You can wash up in that sink there before we eat.” She motioned to the kitchen sink and Nicole followed her direction. 

 

Once she finished her task she wiped her hands on the dish towel beside the sink and then stood motionless, not quite sure what to do with herself. She wanted to offer to help, but she didn’t want to get in the woman’s way either.  

  

Mrs. Montgomery ended her indecision by shoving a plate in her hands and pointed to the table. “Have a seat there. I’ve got the rest. Hope you like chicken.” 

  

At Nicole’s alarmed look Mrs. Montgomery started to cackle. “Oh dear, you’re really too easy. Every emotion shows there on your face.” 

  

“So I’ve heard.” Nicole grumbled. 

  

“It’s pot roast. Chicken would have been a little off-color for today don’t you think?” 

  

“Probably. But thank you for cooking, I can’t remember the last time I had a meal like this. You didn’t have to go to all this work.” 

 

Mrs. Montgomery shrugged off the compliment, but the twinkle in her eye made it all click with Nicole—this woman reminded her of Wynonna—circa 1936 with a dash of housewife. 

 

No wonder her and Waverly got along so well. She briefly wondered if Waverly noticed the resemblance and then she started to wonder what Waverly was going to be like when they got to be the woman‘s age.

 

“Do you want to marry the girl?” 

 

At Nicole’s startled look Mrs Montgomery pointed at her. “Your face dear. Shows everything, it’s pretty clear where your mind wandered off to just now.” 

 

Embarrassed that she was so easy to read, but also oddly at peace with the pointed question Nicole figured she might as well be honest. 

 

“Yeah.” Nicole looked at Mrs Montgomery and decided maybe she could give her a little perspective. “I’ve been trying to propose for weeks. I keep thinking I need a grand plan and then I keep having these moments that are perfect to me and...”

 

“Then you chicken out?” She crinkled up her face. “Sorry dear, that one was a little on the nose too.” She reached over and patted Nicole’s hand. “It’ll happen. There will be a moment that you look at her and there isn’t a thing in the world that could stop you from asking her to be with you forever.”

 

“I don’t need to have some big grand plan?” 

 

“Dearie, who says you can only propose once? You could propose for the rest of your lives together.” 

 

“That’s pretty good advice from a self-proclaimed crazy old bat.” 

 

“Well,” She waved her hand, brushing off the moniker. “It’s like a pig in a poke.” 

 

“What’s that mean?” Nicole’s curiosity was genuine. 

 

“I have no idea. Seemed like the thing for a crazy old lady to say.” Mrs. Montgomery’s eyes sparkled again and Nicole couldn’t help but laugh. 

 

Mrs. Montgomery glanced up at the clock and figured she’d stalled the young lady enough to drag out the afternoon for Waverly and she went to gather their plates. 

 

Nicole beat her to it and gently pushed her back down into the chair. “The least I can do for the best pot roast I’ve ever had in my life is to clean up.” 

 

“There’s really no need dear. I think the chicken coop is quite enough payment for a home cooked meal.” She went to stand again and take back control of her kitchen. She followed Nicole to the sink and deftly took over the chore, shooing the red head back outside. “Well, go on. You’d think you had nothin’ better to do then hang around and pester me.” 

 

Nicole smiled, smart enough to know when she was beat. “Yes ma’am.” She scooped up her hat from the counter and tipped it in Mrs. Montgomery’s direction. “I’ll be outside finishing up then.” 

 

+++++++++++++

 

Nicole touched up one last area of paint on the chicken coop’s side and stepped back to triple check it. She really was pretty of proud of this little project. She’d had a bit of inspiration this morning when Mrs. Montgomery commented on her making something magical and she ran with it. She had made the coop a miniature version of the main house—complete with the wrap around porch, windows and front door. The backside had hinges that allowed it to fold down for easy cleaning inside and a small enough doorway for the chickens to be safe from predators when they went in to roost at night. The little windows were covered in chicken wire and she couldn’t help but chuckle at the finished product.

 

“What’s so funny girl?” Mrs. Montgomery said from behind Nicole, causing the woman to flinch.

 

Nicole turned, hands on her hips and much more comfortable around the woman then this morning and scowled. “I thought I told you to stay inside so it didn’t ruin the surprise?”

 

“You did, but you didn’t really think I would listen did you?” Mrs. Montgomery’s eyes sparkled and she began to circle the finished project. “Waverly was right about you. This really is something magical. The chickens are going to be so happy.”

 

Nicole waited for the joke, but instead was even more satisfied when one didn’t follow. It seemed that she’d rendered the other woman speechless. “I hope so. I’m glad you like it.”

 

“And finished just in time too. I’m going to head up to the house and take a rest now that your girl’s here. Tell her she was right.” Mrs. Montgomery waved at Waverly’s jeep as she made her way back to the house.

 

If Nicole thought the woman’s fast exit was odd, she didn’t show it—too distracted by Waverly’s look of pure joy and awe at her little miniature chicken house.

 

“Babe!” Waverly jumped out of her jeep and jogged over to Nicole. “This is amazing! Do the chickens love it?” Waverly leaned in a squeezed Nicole’s waist, kissing her cheek—her eyes taking in all the small details of the chicken coop.

 

“Just finished it actually so I’m not sure.” Nicole’s heart seemed to be pounding out of her chest. It never ceased to amaze her at the feelings that flooded her system whenever Waverly was around. She watched as Waverly marched off towards one of the chickens strutting near the main house’s porch and scooped her up like a kitten.

 

She could hear Waverly mumbling to the chicken about what a good girl she was and how lucky she was to have her very own chicken house and how all the other silly chickens were going to be so jealous at the next chicken meeting and Nicole started to feel light headed.

 

Her heart pounded out in double time, her knees were weak, she couldn’t get enough air into her lungs and she felt like electricity was sparking from her chest all the way out to her fingertips pushing her into action.

 

This was it. There wasn’t anything that was going to stop her—Waverly was too precious for this world and Nicole never wanted to be without her.  

 

The woman was walking perfection and she wanted to spend the rest of her life in her orbit.

  

She closed the gap between them and while Waverly continued to nuzzle the chicken and whisper more nonsense to it, she knelt down on one knee in front of her and waited. 

 

After a brief moment Waverly’s attention drifted away from the chicken and her eyes met Nicole’s. 

 

“Uh, baby...you’re down on one knee.” Waverly stuttered. 

 

“Yeah. I’ve been trying to do this for weeks...but the chicken...and Mrs. Montgomery...and I can’t live with out you.” Nicole stopped talking, trying to get her words right. She was finally down on one knee, but she was ringless and wordless and she froze. 

 

“Don’t say anything else!” Waverly screeched.

 

“What? Why?” Nicole asked, startled out of her internal freak out. 

 

“Just get in the car.” Waverly set the chicken down outside the new coop and grabbed Nicole’s arm, hauling her up and towards the vehicle in one motion. “And don’t say a word until we get to your place.” 

 

Confused, Nicole blindly followed direction and slid into the passenger’s seat. 

 

“Waves...I was trying to—“ Nicole tried again after a few very awkward minutes of silent driving. 

 

“Nope!” Waverly cut her off. She had not planned this day for weeks and spent the whole day setting up the house for her moment to be stolen because of an old lady and a chicken. “I know. Just please, please, please don’t say anything else. We’ll be there in no time.” Waverly looked at Nicole pleading and stricken.

 

Nicole simply nodded her head in agreement. 

Chapter Text

When they pulled into Nicole’s driveway, Nicole watched as Waverly’s fidgeting hands barely stayed in contact with the steering wheel. She wanted to ask if the other woman was okay but she’d been told to not say a word and she really didn’t think there was any way she was going to win. If she asked, she might get shushed again—if she didn’t—Waverly’s obvious distress might cause her to chew right through her bottom lip.

 

When Waverly put the car in park Nicole turned to say something, but was stopped by a gentle hand on her mouth.

 

“I know this is weird. And I know you have questions, but what I really, really need for you to do right now is pretend that I didn’t make you get up off the ground at Mrs. Montgomery’s and that I picked you up and we chit-chatted all the way here and that we’re just headed inside like any normal, regular day.” Waverly’s eyes were suddenly bright—the anxiety from moments ago instantly replaced with a wide-eyed anticipation and a little wickedness and Nicole wasn’t sure if she should be scared or turned on in that exact moment.

 

Waverly extracted her hand and Nicole dutifully nodded. With a little squeal, Waverly popped a kiss on Nicole’s lips before she jumped out of the truck. Nicole didn’t have a clue about what was going on, but if Waverly was happy? She was happy to be along for the ride. Her stomach had bottomed out when Waverly stopped her proposal, but she didn’t feel like whatever was going on right in that moment was a bad thing so she followed her tiny girlfriend up to the house.

 

Waverly’s hands shook as she tried to unlock the front door and she smiled nervously over her shoulder a few times before the key finally cooperated. She cracked the door open and then turned back towards Nicole and whispered a quick I love you before pushing the door open all the way. She stayed in the entrance, but stood sideways and tugged on Nicole’s arm to pull her into the house.

 

Waverly kept her eyes glued to Nicole’s face, taking in every tiny detail of her expression.

 

It was the perfect picture of surprise and wonderment.

 

“What’s…what is all this?” Nicole whispered, her voice raw with emotion. She had a very good guess at what was going on, but she didn’t want to be wrong. The anticipation was crushing her, her lungs hardly able to get enough air. She stepped forward a little bit and reverently touched a single picture, dangling from a balloon.

 

“This is our first year together. Every balloon has a little special memory attached.” Waverly squeezed Nicole’s arm and slid her hand down to lace their fingers together. “Come on…take a look.”

 

With permission granted Nicole’s feet were suddenly moving. The entire house was filled with balloons—each with a picture tied to it. She wanted to take them all in at once, but after moving from the front door she realized they were in a sort of haphazard chronological order. The first—a snapshot of her standing in front of the burned up homestead from the day they met, the second a screenshot of their first text exchange where Waverly started sending her tile sample ideas, the next 26 or so—every single tile sample Waverly had said she’d wanted in the kitchen at some point or another. Nicole was laughing so hard she was having to wipe tears from her eyes as she made her way through the maze of pictures.

 

“Waves…all the tiles?” Nicole asked, smiling as she caught a glimpse of a selfie they’d taken together the night they had watched the meteor shower together. The picture was different than the others—it was cut out in the shape of a puzzle piece. Using her free hand, she grabbed it and pulled it closer.

 

“Those tiles were a very big part of the start of our relationship. I only changed my mind so much in the beginning so I had an excuse to talk to you more…” Waverly blushed, a little embarrassed at her antics.

 

“I knew it! I knew you really weren’t that indecisive! Why’s this one a different shape?” Nicole asked, sensing the need for a topic change.

 

Waverly looked at her with a perfect mix of love and annoyance and sighed. “Just go with it, it will all come together at the end. Okay?”

 

Sheepishly, Nicole nodded and continued to wander through the living room. Suddenly she tugged out of Waverly’s grasp and took a few long strides towards the staircase. “No, no, no, no….you said you deleted the video! Waves!” Nicole grabbed a picture of herself, sans clothes except for a fireman’s jacket clutched to her chest.

 

“About that…that video of you stripping for me is a thing I can never, ever truly delete…” Waverly said cackling as Nicole started to chase her around the living room. Strong arms grabbed her waist and swung her around, landing her butt first on the couch. Nicole trapped her there with her arms on either side of her head.

 

“You promised!” Nicole whined unconvincingly, never truly able to wipe the smile off her face.

 

Waverly grabbed her face in her hands and squished her cheeks. “I promised to delete it off my phone and I did…I just put it on a jump drive just in case…It’s locked up in your super secret safe so don’t worry so much.” She kissed Nicole’s squished lips and slid out from under her arms. “Come on. You have to follow the balloons up the stairs…”

 

Smiling, Nicole followed still looking around amazed at the sheer amount of work Waverly had put into not only collecting, but printing all the pictures—let alone the hundreds of balloons around the house.

 

“Hey! Is this a picture of the excited-to-do-it-flowers?”

 

“Yep!”

 

“They’re pretty. I never actually got to see them. I just told Emma what I wanted and she’s like a magician.” Nicole was still admiring the flowers when she felt a tug on her arm, gently reminding her to keep moving. “This is all so amazing Waverly. Is it for our anniversiary?”

 

At Waverly’s pointed look she quickly amended her question. “Yeah, yeah. Just wait…got it.” She continued up the stairs until she reached the top—a little puzzled at the picture that was hanging there. “Is that a chicken in a top hat?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Nicole looked at Waverly for few beats. “It will make sense later?”

 

“Yes, although I might wait a few weeks before I tell you about how the chickens played a part…” Waverly smiled, getting less and less nervous the closer they got to Nicole’s bedroom. She pulled Nicole’s arm and sped up their progress towards her final part of the plan, suddenly unable to contain herself. She pulled them through the doorway and watched as Nicole’s eyes caught site of a picture of a ring hanging from the only balloon in the room. Slowly, she crept towards it, her eyes never leaving it, never noticing Waverly drop her hands away. The picture was cut out in the shape of a puzzle piece like many of the others had been downstairs and she clutched at it with two hands. “Waves…”

 

“Yeah?” Waverly asked from her kneeling position to the right of Nicole.

 

“Uh, baby…you’re down on one knee.” She said, her voice quivering with unshed tears and the words echoing Waverly’s from earlier that afternoon. 

 

“Nicole Haught—you are the most amazing, kindest, beautiful, bravest person I have ever known. We fit together in ways I never thought was even possible for two people. You love me at my best, at my worst, and I think sometimes you love me the most at my craziest…We’re a perfect match, fitting together seamlessly. We’re like a puzzle that I hope we never, ever finish finding pieces for.” Waverly wiped at her eyes, furiously rubbing away the tears so she could see clearly. “Will you marry me?”

 

Nicole nodded, her voice not cooperating. “-es, yes, yes!”

 

Waverly motioned for Nicole’s left hand and when she held it out she slid the ring on. Nicole looked at it curiously and she held out her hand studying it. She looked at Waverly questioningly.

 

“It’s silicone. It’s flexible so it’s safe to wear while you’re on duty and it won’t conduct heat if you’re fighting a fire so you won’t get burned from it…There’s an infinity symbol on the inside too.” Waverly’s grin grew into a dazzling smile, her eyes sparkling with love and emotion.

 

Pure and magnetic.

 

Nicole’s eyes welled with tears, the raw love and emotion she saw reflected back at her was more than she had ever wished or hoped for in her life. She wiped at the corners of her eyes, never taking them off the ring. It was a simple, silver-colored band and it was the most amazing thing she’d ever been given. “I never have to take it off…” She said, her voice questioning and raw.

 

“Never.” Waverly answered. She stood and pulled Nicole over towards the bed and gently pushed the woman down on the edge.

 

Nicole was openly weeping—big, fat, happy tears rolled down her cheeks. “You did your nerd thing on the ring.” Waverly nodded and Nicole laughed again.  “I love you.” Nicole paused and then made a split second decision. She got up from the bed and darted over to her dresser, digging to the bottom of the top drawer. Turning back Waverly’s eyes were wide and she squealed when she saw the ring box.

 

“So?” Nicole asked simply, laughing when Waverly’s only answer was an excited burst of clapping.

 

“Lemme see, lemme see!!” Waverly demanded, trying but failing to grab it out of Nicole’s hands.

 

“I’m going to give this to you, but this isn’t my proposal. Think of it as one more little piece of our puzzle. That’s why some of the pictures were those shapes? It’s when something clicked for you?”

 

Waverly nodded, happy that Nicole was able to understand the meaning behind all of the pictures and pieces. She felt understood and it was like one more piece clicked into place for then. 

 

“Good, maybe I can make us something out of all of them? Like a wall or something we can add to?” Waverly nodded again, waving impatiently at the ring box. “Anyway, I guess I better put a ring on it after all this today.” Nicole teased, moving the box out of Waverly’s reach a few times. “I’ll propose again in awhile…don’t want to get shot down twice in one day.”

 

Waverly scowled. “I didn’t say no—I just told you to stop talking…I had a big, giant plan already.”

 

“Noted. Let the record show that Waverly Earp won.” Nicole expression was equal parts tenderness and amusement and her smile widened when Waverly looked caught. “I’m spending the rest of my life with you babe. Of course I know you totally wanted to win.”

 

Win is a strong word, but it was for very good reasons…” Waverly scrunched her nose up and grinned sheepishly. “Can I see the ring now?”

 

Nicole oblidged and opened the box. Inside was a thin gold band with a solitary diamond—elegant and traditional. “I know it’s a little traditional, but I saw it and I knew it would look perfect on your hand. I couldn’t see you wearing anything after that…” She trailed off when she realized Waverly wasn’t truly listening to her. The woman’s eyes were glued to the ring and tears were rolling down her face. With a shaky hand Nicole took the ring out and gently slid it on Waverly’s finger. “Perfect,” she whispered.

 

“It is. You’re perfect. Today is perfect. We’re perfect…” Waverly rambled, her eyes still not leaving her hand. 

 

“Perfect for each other.” Nicole whispered. 

 

Waverly looked up at Nicole, feeling completely and totally loved and safe and secure in that moment. “You have this look…you look at me like I’m everything and it…I love you so much Nicole. I never want to be without you.”

 

“You are everything. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life showing you that.”

 

“I can’t wait to show you that too.” Waverly answered, pulling Nicole back between her legs.

 

“Babe?” Nicole asked, leaning in for a kiss.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Just kiss me.”

 

“Always.” Waverly whispered.

 

 

--fin