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The Look™

Chapter Text

Nicole watches from her cruiser as Dolls greets a laughing Waverly and Jeremy. He hands them their coffees, smiling at them. Nicole returns her focus back to the orange envelope and accompanying paperwork that is in her hands. She looks down at the yellow sticky note stuck to the front page. She recognizes Shae’s handwriting immediately. The tip of her thumb sits on the edge of the note as she reads it.

 

Here you go.

I’ll always love you.

xx Shae

 

She reads the note several times before looking at the paperwork. The top of the page is titled FROM THE LAW OFFICE OF ONOFRIECHUK est 1927. Below, her name and Shae’s are written down. Below that, the words DECREE OF DIVORCE OF MARRIAGE is in big letters. She looks down and skims the front page, seeing where Shae wrote down the day they got married. August 14th, 2014 was a weird day for her to say the least. She looks at it for a moment longer before placing it in the passenger seat. The file underneath, taking her full attention now. It is titled Cult of Bulshar. She opens the file and is greeted by horrible photos. Bodies lay on the ground, the way her own did (along with Jeremy’s and several other citizens of Purgatory) when Widow Mercedes used them as bait to get to Wynonna. She looks them over before sticking her hand into her inside jacket pocket. She pulls out Bulshar’s ring (the one she picked up after Widow Mercedes dissolved into spiders). She looks at it hard and then at the photos in the file. After a few moments, still holding the ring to the file, she looks up and back at her friends, her family. She sees Dolls, who has his eyes trained on her with an intensity that she rarely sees, even from him. He gives her a slow nod as they meet each other’s’ intense gaze. She gets out of her cruiser after securing the file and the ring in a hidden place in the car. She walks over to them, not breaking the intense stare with Dolls until she is upon them and Waverly is looking up at her from the bench. She breaks into a wide smile when her eyes look into her girlfriend’s. She doesn’t even hesitate to lean down and kiss her girlfriend (not caring that she is still in uniform and in public). After the day, hell the months they have had, she doesn’t care. It just feels right. Her girlfriend smiles into the kiss, placing a soft hand to Nicole’s cheek when their lips part, caressing her face as they both smile widely. Nicole looks into her girlfriend’s eyes, still smiling. But in her head, she knows that what she is about to do could possibly end her relationship. The woman she loves, the woman she loves with an intensity that is so foreign to her, so strong. This could damage it and possibly cause it all to fall apart. But then Nicole reminds herself. You are doing this for her. You are doing this for all of them.

 

Dolls meets her gaze once again as she leans up, this time, less intense. He gives a small smile and drinks from his coffee, looking at the three. Nicole knows he is thinking the same thing with regards to his relationship with Wynonna, but they agreed. They have to do this.

Chapter Text

"Are we making a mistake, Dolls. Should we really be keeping this a secret from them?" Nicole asks as she enters the Black Badge office.

 

"We can't and we won't tell them until it's done. This mission is important Nicole. Waverly and Wynonna can't know anything about it. It is for their own protection." Dolls responds, walking over to his desk. He turns on his computer. "Did you read the file?"

 

"I did, three times and I will continue to do so. But it is only part of the picture. It's not enough." Nicole says, switching into work mode. She has to let her reservations with all of this go if she wants to survive this.

 

"And what do you gather from it?" Dolls asks, obviously testing her.

 

"Bulshar was not actually stopped by Wyatt Earp. He was just slowed down. Wyatt shot him, but didn't kill him. The wound was devastating and weakened Bulshar to the brink of death. Because of the curse on Wyatt (the Earp curse) that Bulshar himself put on Wyatt, Bulshar was condemned to (what, in theory) should be an internal slumber." Nicole says, looking through the photos in the files.

 

"Bulshar Clootie cursed Wyatt Earp in retaliation for the gunslinger killing his sons." Dolls says. "But his own curse, along with his first wife Constance's spells condemned him until the three seals were broken."

 

"The first two were broken by the widows (Bulshar Clootie's second and third wives) and the third was broken by Bobo Del Ray at their request." Nicole states, pulling out the evidence photos of the broken seals.

 

"Both Widow Beth and Widow Mercedes are dead (thanks to Wynonna and Doc) but they also used their only ammolite bullet." Dolls says.

 

"True, but it isn't the only ammolite in existence. It isn't even the only ammolite in the Ghosts River Triangle." Nicole says.

 

Dolls is about to say something but comes up short. "Explain." This is news to him.

 

"That bullet was made from the plate. The plate that glowed with symbols when it was near peacemaker. It was made out of the same material as peacemaker, ammolite, the same substance that protects the Earp homestead." Nicole says, pulling out a notebook and jotting notes down as she goes.

 

"So, you are hypothesizing that if we removed the ammolite from the Earp homestead, we could use it to kill Bulshar?" Dolls asks for clarification.

 

"It's just a theory. But yes. I think it is our only option considering the only other source of known ammolite is peacemaker. I doubt there’s any way we can get that from Wynonna. Plus, if we remove the talisman, the Earp homestead will no longer be protected. Wynonna will need peacemaker.”

 

"So, in theory, we could kill Bulshar ourselves, because we wouldn’t have to use peacemaker.” Dolls says.

 

“I believe we can. But we won’t know anything until we try it. All this curse stuff is tricky and no one seemed to write any of it down. The best we got is this file.” Nicole complains.

 

“And your file…”

 

Nicole looks at him skeptically. “What do you know about my file?”

 

“I know you are not an idiot Haught. I know you have been tracking and collecting any and all evidence of this curse since the moment you suspected something.” Dolls says.

 

Nicole pauses for a moment. “Okay, well that file doesn’t have anything on Bulshar.”

 

“Yes but it does have information on the curse (which Bulshar Clootie created). Plus, you also have a file on your family and that will give us information we need.”

 

Nicole seems to debate this in her head for a long moment. “Fine. But that file never leaves my house so you will have to come to me to see it. I won’t threaten its security.”

 

“Fine.”

 


 

“Hey, where is hot redhead? I would have bet money you two would have been locked away at her house making up for lost time for the next week.” Wynonna says, walking into the homestead.

 

“She is working. Apparently, she was called in on her day off so I’m just hanging around here.” Waverly says, disappointment clear in her voice. “But anyways, how are you doing?”

 

“Wave, a few weeks ago, I had to send my daughter away. And it kills me. But this curse is my first priority.” Wynonna says dismissively. She grabs a bottle of jack and sits down on the couch next to her sister. “But physically, I’m fine.” She takes a healthy swig from the bottle. Her face scrunches up. “Eh, this stuff tasted so much better before pregnancy. It also worked better.”

 

“Or maybe you just realized you don’t need it.” Waverly supplies, huddling into her sister.

  


 

 

“Officer Haught, I need a moment of your time.” Dolls says, walking into the Purgatory Sheriff Department bullpen.

 

Wynonna and Waverly (who are both hanging around Nicole’s desk, eating their lunches) look at him curiously. They move to get up but Dolls stops them.

 

“Earps, sit. Finish your lunches. This is just normal police business.” He says, opening the Black Badge Office door for Nicole to walk in. After closing it behind him, the sound of the lock of the door engaging echoes through the station.

 

“Is it just me or was that weird?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Possibly both.” Waverly jokes, but she gives Wynonna a look saying she also thought that was weird.

 

“Want to go spy on them?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Why?” Waverly asks, not particularly interested enough to abandon her lunch.

 

“I’m bored Waves. Please.” Wynonna pleads, pulling out the puppy dog eyes.

 

“Fine." Waverly huffs. She stands up (leaving her lunch on Nicole’s desk) and follows her sister over to the door. As they expected, the door is still locked. Wynonna puts her ear to the door but can’t hear anything. Wynonna knocks and there is a long pause before Nicole opens the door. She moves to leave but Wynonna stops her.

 

“Woah there Haught. Where’s the fire?” Wynonna teases. “You two making out in there or something?”

 

Nicole gives her a weird look before simply moving around her and out the door.

 

“I got a call about shots fired at the Hardy residence! Who wants it?!” Jenny (the dispatcher) calls from her office.

 

Before anyone can respond, Nicole does. “I’ll take it Jenny!” Nicole clicks the radio at her shoulder. “Officer Haught responding.” (for the official record). Nicole breaks out of the station, only stopping briefly to grab her hat and keys.

 

The Earp sisters look at each other, confusion written all over their faces. They walk into the Black Badge office.

 

“What is wrong with Haught? Did you break her or something?” Wynonna asks Dolls, only partly joking.

 

“Earp, Officer Haught is fine. We were just talking.” Dolls responds sharply, not looking up at either Earp girls.

 

“Well, you seem to be in the same kind of weird mood as Nicole. Who shoved that stick up your ass?” Wynonna says dryly.

 

“I am going to get coffee. Be back later.” Dolls says. He picks up a bag and leaves the room.

 

“What was that all about?” Waverly asks.

 

“I have no idea.” Wynonna responds.

 

“They both seemed to be in good moods before. I wonder what got them all fired up? I have never seen Nicole jump at the chance to answer a call like that. Especially a call to Champ’s place. Plus, she practically slammed her desk drawer shut on the way out.” Waverly comments.

 

“Yeah, it was definitely weird. She gave me a weird look and Dolls never even looked up from what he was doing.” Wynonna adds.

 

Waverly’s mind is swimming. Nicole was not a hot head. And after everything they have been through, she has made a point to always say a proper goodbye. But she didn’t even acknowledge their existences as she stormed out of the office and then the station. “They will tell us if something is wrong. It is probably just some paperwork issue or something. You know how they both get if someone miss files something.” Waverly supplies, trying to convince herself just as much as her sister.

 

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Wynonna says. “Let’s get back to our lunches before one of the flatfoots eats them.”

 

Chapter Text

Nicole arrives at the Hardy residence just in time to hear a gunshot go off. She cuts the engine and radios in to follow procedure. She exits the vehicle with caution and with her gun drawn. She surveys the area and sees no immediate threat. Another shot sounds off behind the small barn, making Nicole jump slightly. She slowly approaches, hugging the barn walls to conceal her as much as possible. Once she turns the corner, she sees and identifies the source of the gunshots. Champ. From the looks of things, he’s doing some target practice on some cans and glass bottles.

 

She keeps her weapon drawn but decides to make her presence known. Hopefully Champ will make this easy for both of them. “Purgatory Sherriff Department! Drop your weapon and put your hands in the air!” She commands in her authoritative officer voice (as Waverly calls it).

 

Champ turns slowly towards her, but doesn’t drop the weapon. The weapon being a M1A Loaded, semi-automatic, .308 Winchester rifle. Nicole knows it well because she was the one who reluctantly accepted Champ’s father’s application to buy the damn thing.

 

Nicole looks at Champ head on and doesn’t allow any emotion to show on her face. “Put down the rifle Hardy!” Nicole commands again.

 

Champ chuckles humorlessly and that’s when Nicole notices it. Champ is swaying slightly. He is drunk and by the look on his face, he is angry. “What do you want pig?!” He shouts at her.

 

“We got a call about shots fired. You are firing a weapon without a license and without taking safety precautions. You are firing in the direction of the road. You could kill someone. Drop the gun Champ, now.”

 

“God, you really just hate me, don’t you?!” Champ asks rhetorically. “First you steal my girl, then my fucking town… what’s next?! You going to shoot me and take my life too?!”

 

“Champ, I don’t want to do that. Just put the gun down.” Nicole says, trying to deescalate the situation. She sees the overpowering anger there, but she also recognizes something she used to see in the mirror all those years ago. The feeling of being lost. “Champ. I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t think you want to hurt me. A few charges for what’s been done will be dropped and you will get off with a fine. But threatening the life of a police officer, you can’t come back from that. That will really ruin your life. I don’t want that and I know you don’t want that.”

 

“My life is already ruined! You ruined it!” Champ counters, anger rising.

 

“Because Waverly dumped you? Because she started dating me after? I don’t see how that means I ruined your life Champ?” Nicole questions, trying to get through the alcohol and anger fueling him.

 

“She dumped me for you! She dumped me for a cop and a woman!”

 

“Champ. She dumped you because you were cheating on her with everyone in town that would take you. You even tried with her own sister. She dumped you because you were a bad boyfriend. But that doesn’t make you a bad person. I am sorry Waverly and I being together hurts you. But if you really cared about her, you should want her to be happy. Even if it is with someone else.” Nicole pauses and gauges the situation before continuing. “Look Champ. I don’t really know you all that well and what I do know, I don’t like. But I would like to help you (not that you need it).” She adds to lessen the blow. “You are clearly dealing with things and I want to help you if you will let me.”

 

Champ contemplates it for a moment before spitting out, “Why would I want your help anyways?”

 

Nicole takes a deep breath. “Because it is so much easier when you are not alone. I am offering you an out Champ. I am offering you whatever help you need. But you have to drop the rifle and let me help you.”

 

Nicole can hear her radio in the car crackling but she can’t understand what is being said. The mobile radio is turned off (she didn’t want to spook him while she approached).

 

“And what is it that you think I need help with?” Champ asks, still on the defensive.

 

“Only you can tell me that. But I promise you, I will do my best to help you.” Nicole says, watching as Champ’s grip on the gun begins to loosen. “Drop the gun and we can talk and figure something out, okay?”

 

Champ is about to say something, loosening his grip even more but is interrupted by Lonnie yelling from 100 feet away. “Drop it Hardy or I will shoot!”

 

“Lonnie! Don’t…” Nicole doesn’t even get the chance to finish her warning.

 

Champ raises the rifle and is too drunk to realize anything until three shots are kicking him back with the recoil. Lonnie yells and Nicole gives a short yell as well. The gun falls several feet back (well out of Champs reach). He is dazed for a moment but does lean his head enough to see where Nicole is laying on the ground and Lonnie has disappeared.

 

Panic floods Champ and he scrambles to get to the fallen officer. She is moving but he soon realizes it is because of pain. She is clutching her thigh where a bullet hit her and blood stains the uniform.

 

“No, no! Holy shit! Haught! No! I didn’t! I didn’t mean!” Champ panics, moving closer to her, not knowing what to do.

 

“Champ! Stop. You need to stop moving. I know it was an accident. But if you get any closer the reinforcements will see you as a threat. Just lay down right there and breathe, okay.” Nicole says as calmly as she can.

 

She uses her free hand to turn on her radio and hears Lonnie calling in a 999 (officer down). She quickly shouts into the radio, calling him off. “Disregard. 10-22.” She releases the button on her radio and yells in Lonnie’s direction. “Lonnie! Get over here!”

 

Lonnie peaks around the corner of the barn and sees Champ laying down a few feet from Nicole. He walks over, gun still raised and kicks Champ’s rifle even farther away from him. “Nicole! You have been shot! He shot you! Why did you call in a 10-22?!”

 

“Lonnie, shut up and listen to me!” Nicole says, frustration and pain making her even more short tempered with the man. “It was an accident. You spooked him. It was a mistake. I am fine.” She looks at Champ and then at Lonnie. “You are going to take him in for disturbing the peace and fine him accordingly. He will be out by the end of the day tomorrow. Throw him in the drunk tank until then.” Nicole says in a way that tells Lonnie that if this doesn’t play out this way, she will hold him personally responsible.

 

“But he shot you.” He protests weakly. “There is a protocol and you need to go to a hospital.”

 

“Lonnie. It was an accident. He doesn’t deserve to have his life ruined over it. Add a couple alcohol charges to everything if it makes you feel better, but…”

 

“… make sure he doesn’t end up in prison. Got it.” Lonnie completes. He is obviously confused and frustrated by the situation, but his fear of Nicole wins out.

 

Nicole nods at him and then looks at Champ (who is looking at her wide eyed). “Champ. You are going to go with Lonnie and settle things. You are going to sober up and stay that way. You are also going to keep your mouth shut about this. I will spring you tomorrow and then we are going to talk. Got it?” Nicole states, leaving no room for argument.

 

Champ nods his head dumbly. He still hasn’t risen from the ground and is still just staring at Nicole. “Why are you helping me?”

 

Nicole winces as a wave of pain shoots through her from the wound site. She grits her teeth before looking at Champ again. “Sometimes people need help but don’t know how to ask for it. I have been there.” Another pain hits her and she wants to scream. “Now go with the officer before I change my mind.” She says, motioning for Lonnie to take Champ.

 

They get Champ up and begin to Walk to Lonnie’s car before Nicole’s voice stops them. “And Hardy.”

 

Champ turns to her.

 

“I won’t forget that you shot me. Make one wrong move, I WILL ruin your life.” She threatens.

 

He nods and follows Lonnie to the cruiser.

 

Nicole pulls out her phone and presses the fourth number on speed dial. He answers the call before it does two full rings.

  


 

 

Waverly and Wynonna are still sitting at Nicole’s desk when the dispatcher shouts for Nedley.

 

“Sherriff!” Jenny yells.

 

Nedley quickly enters her office and shuts the door. After a minute or so, he comes out with a look of concern on his face. As he enters his office, Dolls steps out of the Black Badge office and heads for the break room. He is almost to the door when his phone rings. He checks the caller ID before quickly answering the call.

 

“Dolls.” He says as he raises the phone to his ear. “Haught?” He says in a whisper. There is a pause before Dolls speaks again. “I’m on my way.” He says before hanging up the phone.

 

Neither sister was close enough to hear much of anything. He makes his way out of the station, completely abandoning whatever he was doing before. Wynonna calls out to him as he passes them. “Dolls? Was that Nicole?”

 

“Yes.” He answers simply, offering no further explanation.

 

“Why did she call you on your cell instead of the radio?” Waverly asks curiously.

 

“Why did she call you at all? Is something wrong?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Just police business Earps. Relax. Take the rest of the day off he says stoically before exiting the station and jogging to his car.

 

“That was weird.” Wynonna says to Waverly after they hear Dolls SUV leave the parking lot.

 

“Agreed.” Waverly says, trying to think of reasons why. “They were both in weird moods earlier. Maybe they are just blowing off some steam?”

 

“Yeah, probably. They are probably just bonding over mutual cop-ness and all that boring stuff.” Wynonna agrees (although still suspicious).

 

They decide to take Dolls’ offer and pack up for the day. They head to Waverly’s jeep and drive back to the Homestead.

  


 

 

Dolls arrives just in time to see Nicole press a piece of gauze to her bloodied leg.

 

“Haught?” He asks as he exits the SUV and nears her.

 

“I will explain on the way. But clearly, I can’t drive and I can’t call Waverly. Lonnie almost blew it all by calling it in at the station.” Nicole says directly, although she winces as she presses another piece of gauze over the already soaked one.

 

Dolls leans down next to her and pulls the first aid kit closer to him as he rummages through it. He puts on a pair of gloves and goes about wrapping her wound well enough to make it to the hospital without bleeding out in his car. She is leaning her back against the door of the cruiser, using it to help him when he does help her up and guides her to the passenger seat of his SUV.

 

Chapter Text

“We won’t be at the hospital for at least another twenty minutes. Now is a good time to explain, don’t you think?” Dolls prods as he drives.

 

Nicole sighs but tells him anyways. “Responded to the call. It was Champ. He was drunk and doing some target practice with his father’s gun. I had him talked down until Lonnie showed up shouting he would shoot Champ.”

 

Dolls mutters an, “Idiot.” Under his breath but allows Nicole to continue.

 

“I offered to help him out, but he has to get his shit together and keep his mouth shut.”

 

“Why would you do that?” Dolls asks.

 

“Two reasons. The first is that he is lost and angry and needs help. Like, some professional help. And two, because part of my deal for helping him will be him giving me all the names of his pals that run with the trash from the trailer park.”

 

“Does he know that is part of the deal?”

 

“Not yet. But it won’t matter to him much I’m guessing. Considering the alternative is him going to prison for a very long time.” Nicole answers as a shock of pain hits her full force.

 

Dolls hums in agreement and thinks for a moment. “So why do you want to know who is hanging out in the trailer park?”

 

Nicole grits her teeth before speaking. “I have sources that suggest that Bulshar will use humans to get around some of the curse’s boundaries. Who better to recruit than those who run with demons and don’t even care? They are dumb enough to buy in, but smart enough to do what he needs them to do. They are the obvious choice.”

 

Dolls is impressed, but just nods. After another moment of silence, Dolls asks the question that is rolling around in his mind. “So, are you not telling Waverly because of personal reasons, or because of the case?”

 

“Both.” Nicole says sharply.

 

“You want to talk about it? I think I am in a unique position to understand.” Dolls asks in a rare moment of affection.

 

Nicole looks at him for a moment before speaking, studying him. “Waverly cheated on me. And the thing you told me this morning… It is all just a mess. My personal life is a mess and it is leaking into my professional life. That needs to stop.”

 

“Haught, I told you about Wynonna’s mom because it was about the case. I didn’t intend for it to personally affect you. Although I should have expected it considering it is affecting me as well.” Dolls admits.

 

“Michelle Earp is alive and we know for a fact that Wynonna knows. We know she went to see her and probably not for the first time. I am assuming Waverly also knows but that is just speculation. Either way, Wynonna has been lying to us. Who knows what else she is keeping from us. Who knows what either one of them is keeping from us” Nicole balls her hands into fists as her leg throbs and pulses. There is something she knows that Waverly is hiding and it makes her angry and sick at the same time. “I can’t even look at them, either of them. I thought Wynonna was my friend and Waverly…” Nicole looks at Dolls with a disappointed look. “I let my personal and professional lives mix and now I am paying the price for it. It is at least partially, if not all, my fault. And I know you know about Waverly cheating on me so you don’t have to sit there and act like you don’t. Don’t think I didn’t see how you diverted the topic away from that.”

 

Dolls sighs. “She said it was only a kiss.”

 

“The Earp girls say a lot of things.” Nicole muses. “I just don’t know what to believe anymore. Plus, Waverly and I have been around each other for days and she hasn’t said anything about it. Lying by omission is still lying in my book. I think that part is almost worse than the cheating. And trust me, I lied to her by keeping those test results. I am not in the right here.”

 

“But…” Dolls supplies, knowing that is where this is going.

 

“But, I didn’t hide those results to hurt her. I was trying to do what my stupid heart thought was the right thing. Good intentions don’t make it right, but the motive for Waverly was different. There were no good intentions guiding her actions. She wanted to hurt me. She was angry and hurt and she wanted to make me feel the same.” Nicole takes a deep breath and sees the hospital is only a few miles away. “It would have been more kind if she had broken up with me the night she found the results in my purse. That would have hurt less than this. She would have been free to do what she wanted, be with who she wanted. It still would have hurt, but not like this. I don’t know who to trust.”

 

“You can trust me.” Dolls says offhandedly.

 

Nicole laughs and regrets it immediately as the pain in her leg picks up. She looks over at Dolls and smirks. “Who would have thought. The last person in this town I thought I would trust is now they only one I trust.”

 

“Trust me Haught. I am just as surprised as you are. You are all I got now too.” Dolls says.

 

Nicole lets her head hit the head rest as Dolls pulls up to the ER and parks.

 

A nurse comes out with a gurney and is followed by several other members of medical personnel. Nicole waves off their concern. “Please guys, just a flesh wound.”

 

The nurses help her on the gurney and take a look at the wound as they roll her inside.

 

“A flesh wound? Officer Haught, the bullet is still imbedded in your leg and you are showing early sighs of compartment syndrome.” The head nurse Lisa says sharply.

 

“Lisa, this is nothing considering the condition I was in the last time I showed up in your ER.” Nicole jokes.

 

Lisa smiles and pats Nicole’s cheek. “Nicole, stop getting hurt.”

 

“Comes with the territory.” Nicole says.

 

“And which territory are we talking about? Being a cop or being around Earps?” Lisa asks sardonically.

 

“Both. Plus, I think being a cop in Purgatory ups my chances of ending up here even more.”

 

Lisa chuckles but shakes her head disapprovingly. “Shut up and let us get you fixed up, okay? I will have someone call Waverly and give her an update.”

 

Nicole’s eyes widen and she grabs Lisa’s arm. “No. Not necessary. I have someone else that will help me once I am discharged.”

 

“Sounds like that is my cue.” Dolls says as he strides over to them.

 

“And you are?” Lisa asks, although she knows the answer. She isn’t a fan of Deputy Marshal Dolls. Seems like her citizens are showing up more often in her ER since his arrival in town.

 

“Her boss.” Dolls responds shortly. “And friend.”

 

“Name?” Lisa asks, looking at a clipboard. “For the paperwork.”

 

“Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls.” Dolls replies suspiciously.

 

Lisa looks at him for a long moment, but does write his name down. She finished up the paperwork as nurses and doctors work on Nicole. They take the bullet out (luckily it didn’t hit bone).

 


 

Two hours later, Nicole is laying in a hospital room with Dolls sitting in a chair across the room.

 

“How long did they say until they would be willing to release me?” She asks as she fidgets with the uncomfortable bed sheets.

 

“A few more hours.” Dolls says, not taking his eyes off his file. After finishing his page, he hands it to Nicole and she begins to read through it as well.

 

She is almost halfway done with her third case file when Sherriff Nedley comes storming into her room. “What in damn hell do you think you are doing?!”

 

Nicole startles and stares at the Sherriff like a deer in headlights. Dolls doesn’t even acknowledge his presence.

 

“Sir, um…” Nicole tries, but fails to think of the right words.

 

“Champ Hardy threatened and shot you! But you don’t even arrest him for it or do anything! You actually went as far as to try and hide it!” Nedley says with a raised voice. “Do you know how many protocols you broke, plus, you made Lonnie leave you there bleeding. You could have died Nicole!”

 

“Sherriff. Please. I have my reasons.” Nicole says, finally finding her voice. “It was an accident. Champ needs help, not prison. If it had been intentional, I would have been the first one in line throwing him behind bars. He needs help and he has information I, we need.”

 

Nedley regards her for a long moment before looking at Dolls (who is still reading his file). “You should have come to me. You hid this from me. You are one of my officers Nicole. Mine. And not only that, but you are practically family. Don’t do it again. You come to me, I don’t care about what. But you keep me in the loop. Understand?”

 

“Yes Sir.” Nicole says with a nod. Nedley moves and sits down in the chair opposite Dolls. “Sherriff? How did you find out?”

 

Nedley looks at her before responding. “All injured officers are reported to me. You are on department insurance. Apparently, your SIN was missing from your file and they called my office to get it. Imagine my surprise when they tell me one of my officers was shot on the job today but was not brought in by a member of the department.” He eyes Dolls with a death glare.

 

“Sorry Sherriff.” Nicole says.

 

“Like I said, don’t do it again.” He says. “But I am glad you are okay.”

 

“Thank you Sir.”

 

“Is there a reason the Earp girls aren’t harassing the hospital staff? It is kind of a tradition of theirs when their loved ones are here.” Nedley questions.

 

“They don’t know and it is going to stay that way.” Dolls says.

 

“Any particular reason for that? Not that I disagree. I just don’t want to be on the wrong end of a shotgun when Waverly Earp finds out about this and not have a good reason.” Sherriff Nedley says.

 

“Professionally, it does not concern her.” Dolls says.

 

“And personally, I don’t want her killing Champ.” Nicole jumps in.

 

“Fair enough. But even so, she would have to get in line.” Nedley says, his mustache twitching slightly with a smile.

 

Chapter Text

Nedley had an officer drive Nicole’s cruiser to her house earlier that day so she has nothing left to do but rest once she was dropped off at home. When she walks through the door, Calamity Jane is quick to greet her.

 

“Hey CJ.” She says sweetly as she closes the door and slowly removes her boots.

 

Her leg still hurts and walking without crutches is difficult, but they gave her pain medication so that helps. OxyContin really does pack a punch.

 

She goes about feeding CJ and locking all the doors before heading to her room. She lays down in bed and checks her phone. Shit. Five missed calls and eight texts.

 

She dials her voicemail and sees she has four new voicemails.

 

“Please enter your password” The automated machine voice requests. Nicole does and the recording continues. “You have four unheard messages. First unheard message.”

 

“Nicole. I just got a call from Lisa at the hospital. You better be fine when I get there or so help me… [mumbled grumbling]. I will see you within the hour.” Nedley says sharply.

 

“To delete, press seven. To save, press nine.” After a pause, the machine continues. “Skipped. Next new message.”

 

“Hey Baby it’s me. Dolls just gave us the rest of the day off so Nonna and I are going home. Just wanted to let you know. Love.” Waverly says in a chipper voice.

 

Nicole hits the skip button and the machine moves on to the next message.

 

“Hey Nicole, it’s me again. Left you a message earlier and texted you. I guess you are really busy at work. Call me when you get a chance.”

 

Nicole gets to the next message.

 

Nedley’s gruff voice fills her speaker once more. “Nicole. I don’t want to see you on patrol for at least a week. Tomorrow you have the day off. Take it. When you come back in, you’re on desk duty until you are better. No arguments. Take care of yourself Officer.” There is a pause and Nicole thinks Nedley forgot to hang up the phone, but then he speaks again. “Let me know if you need anything.”

 

Nicole closes the voicemail box and checks her texts.

 

(6) unread messages from Waverly Earp

(2) unread messages from Lonnie L

 

She decides to check the messages from Lonnie because they are hopefully work related.

 

Lonnie (2:15pm): Arrived at the station with Hardy.

 

Lonnie (4:23pm): Threw him in the tank and got his fines and paperwork in order.

 

Nicole nods to herself and replies to him with a thank you and a good work. She decides to just bite the bullet and check the texts from Waves now.

 

Waves (1:55pm): Hey you stormed out of here quick. Didn’t get to say goodbye. Text me when you get a chance x

 

Waves (2:17pm): Dolls is sending us home, see you later.

 

Waves (2:19pm): Saw Lonnie dragging in Champ as we were leaving the station. Obviously, you handled the situation. Stay safe on patrol! x

 

Waves (5:42pm): Hey, are you still on duty? Thought you were off at 4 today?

 

Waves (6:00pm): Hope you are getting major overtime for this.

 

Waves (6:45): Starting to get a little worried. Call me. X

 

Nicole looks over at the clock and cringes as it reads 7:55pm. Dammit!

 

Nic (7:55pm): Sorry, work was crazy today.

 

Waves (7:59pm): Oh, I’m sorry baby. Um, want to come over for movie night? Its Saturday .

 

Nic (8:07pm): Just got home, exhausted, long day. I think I just need to sleep. I will see you later though. Next time I’ll be there. Have fun with Wyn.

 

Waves (8:10pm): Oh okay… Well, goodnight I guess.

 

Nic (8:12pm): Goodnight.

 


 

 

“That was weird.” Waverly comments as she puts her phone down.

 

“What was weird? Is Haughtstuff on her way, because we should start the movie soon?” Wynonna asks as she turns on the TV in preparation.

 

“Nicole isn’t coming. She is exhausted and just got home from work.” Waverly says a little sadly. She looks at her sister. “Is Dolls or Doc coming over?”

 

“No, Doc has some emergency at Shorty’s and Dolls said he had to work.” Wynonna answers.

 

“So, it is just us then?” Waverly asks. “Not that I am disappointed, I love getting quality time with you. Just feels weird not to have them here.”

 

“No, I get it Waves. I feel the same.”

 

“Wonder what is going on with all of them. Dolls and Nicole have been weird all day and Doc has just been… absent.” Waverly queries.

 

“No idea… hey Waves… Since we have some time just the two of us, I have some stuff I want to tell you. But it might make you super mad and never speak to me again.” Wynonna says hesitantly.

 

Waverly turns to her sister and takes one of her hands. “We are sisters. We will get through and past anything together.”

 

Wynonna can feel herself tearing up but she wipes it away quickly and takes a few deep breaths. “Momma is alive… and I know where she is.”

 

“So do I.”

 

Wynonna is stunned by her baby sister’s answer and bluntness. “What?”

 

“Nonna, I’m a researcher. I research. That’s what I do. Of course, I looked into Momma. I may not know her exact location. But I know for a fact that she is alive and know she lives somewhere within thirty miles of the ghost river triangle border.” Waverly states.

 

“I talked to her.” Wynonna says after a moment of silence. “That’s actually where I went when I left. I have been talking to her for a while now.”

 

Waverly is angry with Wynonna for not telling her. She really is. But her anger towards their mother overpowers that and she decides to let it go. “Okay…”

 

“Okay? That’s it?” Wynonna asks in disbelief.

 

“Wynonna what do you want me to say? I am angry and hurt. But more by her than by you. I forgive you, but no more secrets.”

 

“No more secrets.” Wynonna confirms, relieved to be off the hook. There is a long pause where neither sister knows what to say next. Wynonna decides it is best to just rip all the band aids off at once. “Do you want to see her?”

 

Waverly chuckles humorlessly. “My wants and needs have never really been too much of her concern. I wanted to see her all those years when she abandoned us and left us with Daddy. So, to answer your question, at the moment, no. I don’t want to see her.”

 

“Fair enough.” Wynonna says, wrapping an arm around her sister’s shoulder and starting the movie.

 


 

Nicole wakes up the next morning to find it isn’t actually morning. It is now considered midafternoon and she realizes she slept for over fifteen hours. Oops, so much for having a productive day.

 

She goes to move out of bed but stops as searing pain reminds her of her leg. Sleeping for fifteen hours may have been good for her, but not taking her pain medication during that time wasn’t. She slips the pills into her mouth and knows she should eat something. She slowly makes her way down stairs and makes quick work of feeding the cat and starting on her own food. Within fifteen minutes, the redhead is eating her breakfast and watching the news on the TV.

 


 

Waverly walks into the station with her sister to find it almost completely empty. Nedley isn’t in yet and Lonnie seems to be the only one in the bullpen. He is humming while tapping his pen on the front desk when the Earp women walk up. He looks up and notices them. He meets Wynonna’s eyes first and lowers his gaze (clearly uncomfortable). Then he meets Waverly’s gaze and smiles at her.

 

“Good morning Ladies. Something I can help you with?” He asks.

 

“Good morning Lonnie. We were wondering if Deputy Marshal Dolls has been in yet today.” Waverly says kindly.

 

“Yes, he was here about an hour ago. I believe he went to take care of some other business. He was talking with Officer Haught when he left. She had some evidence he required from what I could understand.”

 

“Are they working on a case together?” Wynonna asks.

 

“I asked Sherriff Nedley the same thing yesterday. He said yes but that they had it handled. I assume they are probably looking into old cold cases.” Lonnie answers, oblivious as to why they are asking.

 

“What makes you say that?” Waverly asks.

 

“Because they are working without department resources and seem… defeated… when the day is over. Cold cases have that effect on people. I’m guessing they don’t want Nedley to know too much about it.” Lonnie states

 

“But why would they be looking into cold cases?” Wynonna asks, still skeptical.

 

“Well, I could only answer with complete speculation.” Lonnie says, not really sure he wants to answer.

 

“I’d like to hear it.” Waverly says.

 

Lonnie looks at her and knows he can’t deny the request. “Nicole wants to be Sherriff one day. Sherriff wants her to be once he retires. She is probably just trying to clean up the department she is going to run someday. You know, make it better. We have far too many cold cases than any normal town. My guess is Deputy Marshal Dolls is helping her because he seems a little light on his own work.”

 

“Well, we haven’t had much going on in BBD lately. Wouldn’t be that surprising.” Wynonna comments as she thinks about it.

 

Waverly still has questions. “So why is Dolls going to Nicole? Couldn’t she just drop it off when she comes in later for her shift?”

 

“She isn’t working today. Sherriff gave her the day because of yesterday. Wouldn’t be surprised if he gives her the day off tomorrow as well.” Lonnie says, not realizing what he is saying. He assumes Nicole told her girlfriend about the incident with Champ. Because… well, she is her girlfriend.

 

“Yeah, she told me about it. Didn’t get home until hours after her shift was supposed to end.” Waverly says, oblivious. “Thanks Lonnie. Have a good shift.”

 

Lonnie smiles and goes back to whatever he was doing and the Earp girls walk into the Black Badge office.

 

Chapter Text

Nicole hears a knock on her front door. She checks who it is (never can be too careful after the widow incident) and opens the door when she recognizes Dolls.

 

“Dolls?”

 

“Wanted to see about looking at that file of yours.” He answers as he enters. He scans his surroundings before looking at Nicole again. “Nice place. You are far enough from town to stay away from the crazy but close enough to drive to the station in less than fifteen minutes.”

 

“That was the idea.” Nicole says as she closes the door and motions for him to sit down. She goes to her bedroom and returns a minute later with a couple files in her hands. She places them on the kitchen table and motions for Dolls to look them over. “Want something to drink?”

 

“Water, please.”

 

Nicole returns with a glass of water in on hand and a cup of coffee in the other. She places on next to Dolls and the other near her as she takes a seat next to him.

 

“So these files, how did you gather all of this?” He asks.

 

Nicole pulls the largest of the files out and hands it to Dolls. “This one is everything I have on the Earp curse. Some of it I acquired from history books and library resources. Others stuff in there is anything from field notes about the supernatural stuff in town to stuff Waverly has shared with me.”

 

Dolls opens up the file and surprised by its thoroughness. Most of this information BBD doesn’t even have.

 

He closes the file and nods for her to continue.

 

She pulls the other file. “This one is about the Cult of Bulshar. Some of it is historical references, some of it is personal.” She says with a guarded expression.

 

Dolls notices and places a hand on her shoulder. “I’m not here to judge Haught. I know very little about it, but I know enough to know you weren’t willingly involved. If I had any doubt about that, you wouldn’t be working on this case with me.”

 

Nicole nods and opens the significantly smaller file. She is greeted by familiar faces, people she used to consider family and friends. She takes a moment to look at them before remembering Dolls is there. “These are some of the cult leaders.” She pulls out the five photos. “Bulshar was the real leader, but he had five lieutenants that carried out his wishes. Even though Bulshar was in the ground, the cult still moved along as if he was still there. They still followed his laws and practices and it was the lieutenants’ jobs to enforce this. Once one would die, another from their family would take their place.” She points to the first photo of a tall, bald man with hard facial features. “That is Mickey Lewis. He was in charge of the financial aspect of the cult, a treasurer of sorts. It was his job to make sure the cult remained financially stable and profitable. Then there is Judy Lewis (his wife and sister).” Nicole stops and gives Dolls a look that says ‘Don’t ask, you don’t want to know’.

 

He nods and she continues.

 

“Judy was in charge of food and water supplies so her relationship with Mickey made everything easier on them.”

 

Nicole pushes those photos over and pulls two more for Dolls to look at.

 

“Constance Clootie (also known as the stone witch). Before she was Bulshar’s wife, she was one of his lieutenants and continued to be even after they wed. She made sure the magic that kept everyone alive and powerful and stayed that way. She also acted as a prophecy. She did her best to tell what was coming next. Then there was Alexander Potter. He was basically the main advisor to Bulshar. Kept the other lieutenants updated on moral and rumors in the cult.”

 

The final photo comes into view and Nicole shudders at the sight of the man. The photo is in black and white, but she knows his red hair always shines brightly. Dolls takes the photo, recognizing the resemblance immediately.

 

“Nathanial Haught. My father. Personal security to Bulshar bloodline and ran the military and security for the cult.” Nicole says with a tone that is void of all emotion.

 

Dolls looks at the photo a moment longer before pulling more photos from the file. Pictures of the lieutenants with their families and friends, all members of the cult. He finds a photo of Nicole’s father, a woman he assumes to be her mother, a young Nicole and a baby in her arms.

 

“My family. The woman in the photo was my birth mother, she raised me until Bulshar’s other lieutenants took her away from us shortly after my eighth birthday. The baby in my arms was my little sister.”

 

“What happened to your mother?” Dolls asks.

 

“Potter, he took her with the intent of making her one of Bulshar’s wives. She refused and he killed her for it. As extra punishment, he made my mother watch as he killed my baby sister before he then killed her. At that point, she didn’t care what happened to her.” Nicole says with a hollow tone. “I lived my life with my father as a normal kid (for the most part). I went to normal school and participated in sports outside of the cult. This wasn’t the norm but the lieutenants made an exception. My father claimed it was so the cult would have someone who could blend in with the outside world and integrate others in if necessary. All the other children went to “school” in the cult. I think school is the wrong word though because it was more like an indoctrination camp. Growing up, especially when I was young and before I started school, I didn’t understand that the things I was seeing weren’t normal. Executions, floggings, stoning, etc. I saw a lot through my childhood, but by age seventeen I couldn’t take it anymore. The day after I graduated high school, I ran away from the cult and never looked back. I couldn’t join the police academy until I was twenty-one, so I went to college and earned my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I finished the academy and was recruited by Nedley. Now I am here.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Dolls says genuinely.

 

“Ancient history.” Nicole says dismissively, getting up to get a refill as Dolls continues through the file.

 

“There is an incident report in here. The cult tried to get to you?”

 

“A couple times over the years, two times actually. Once shortly after I left and then again, a week before I moved to Purgatory. They were pretty unsuccessful and just ended up making threats.” Nicole responds as she takes her seat next to Dolls

 

“Okay, well I think I know enough for one day. But I would like to come back and look this stuff over again.” Dolls says, closing the file. “These are good resources.” He pauses and looks at Nicole. “Look Haught, thank you. You didn’t have to share this information with me but you did. So, thank you.”

 

Nicole nods. “If it means killing Bulshar for good this time and keeping the Earps safe… that’s all that matters to me.”

 

Dolls hands her the files back and she locks them back up once again. She walks back out and gets Dolls another drink. They sit at the table and go between silence and talking about strategy for the case. It is comfortable and Nicole isn’t sure why.

 


 

Dolls returns to the station some time later to find the Earp sisters in the Black Badge office. “Earps. I didn’t call you in today.”

 

“We thought we should be here just in case something came in. Plus, I have some research that I am behind on anyways.” Waverly answers casually.

 

Wynonna just takes a bite of her donut and nods at Dolls.

 

“Okay…” Dolls says, taking a seat in his office and looking at his laptop.

 

Waverly checks her phone and sees there is still nothing from Nicole. Waverly hopes she is sleeping, but part of her is perturbed that Nicole didn’t tell her it was her day off. She decided to call her, hoping to not wake her if she is actually sleeping.

 

The call goes straight to voicemail so Waverly hangs up.

 

She sits for a moment before standing and gathering her things.

 

“Where are you going?” Wynonna asks.

 

“I can do this research from Nicole’s place, but… something just doesn’t seem right.” Waverly says.

 

Wynonna gets up as well. “I’ll go with. Something is up with our team and I am not really sure what. Haughtstuff will crack easier than Deputy Marshal Hard Ass over there.”

 

Waverly nods and they both walk out of the office to see Nicole at the front desk with her civvies on. She is talking to Lonnie and the conversation almost looks tense for a moment. But then Lonnie is nodding and turning away from the desk to work on something else.

 

Waverly’s phone vibrates and she and Wynonna both look down to read an emoji filled txt from Doc. He still hasn’t mastered texting yet. When both women look up, Nicole is gone and Lonnie is back at the front desk doing paperwork.

 

Waverly looks at Wynonna, who just shrugs her shoulders. They walk down the hall and glance through each door as they go.

 

Nicole’s red hair catches Wynonna’s eye and she pulls her sister to a stop. Both woman see Nicole talking to someone in a holding cell. They enter the room a little more and see that Nicole is sitting on a bench inside the holding cell with Champ Hardy sitting next to her. Both women expect to see anger, annoyance or hatred toward Champ in Nicole’s eyes but they don’t find it. They find sincerity.

 

“What the hell?” Wynonna whispers in complete shock.

 

They watch as Champ talks to Nicole in low tones (too softly for them to hear). Nicole is writing things down in her notebook and asks him questions as they go. Once he is done, Nicole surprises everyone once again and pats Champ on the back.

 

“What the fuck?” Waverly whispers

 

He sniffles and wiped his nose once as she stands. He does as well and shakes her hand when she offers it to him. She gives him a soft grin (one Waverly recognizes as Nicole caring) and opens the cell door.

 

It is when Nicole and Champ start walking that Waverly notices the slight limp in Nicole’s stride. Anger flares in Waverly almost immediately. Whatever happened to Nicole, she had a feeling that Champ had something to do with it. But then, why is she being nice to him? Nicole is one of the nicest people I know, but even she can’t normally stand Champ.

 

Waverly surges forward, faster than Wynonna can grab her and advances towards Champ. He startles and slams himself back into the wall in an attempt not to harm her or (more likely) be harmed by her.

 

“What the hell did you do?!” Waverly yells, getting into Champs face and grabbing him by his shirt collar.

 

“Waves!” Nicole scolds, a little surprised.

 

“I didn’t… it was an accident… I mean…” Champ stutters, holding his hands up in the air.

 

“Shut it Hardy.” Nicole says in an authoritative voice, but it doesn’t hold any malice. She quickly pulls Waverly off Champ (with Wynonna’s help, although the elder Earp seems reluctant).

 

Champ nods and stops talking, staring at Waverly with wide eyes. He had never seen is ex-girlfriend this angry and the last time she was even this close was when she fired her shotgun at him and Wynonna.

 

Nicole gives Waverly a disapproving look and gives Wynonna a warning look. Wynonna grabs Waverly a little tighter and allows them the space for Nicole to escort Champ out of the room. They follow them, watching as Lonnie scowls at Champ as they pass him and exit the station. Outside, Nicole stops Champ in front of a van where a man and a woman are waiting. Nicole turns to him and says something that has Champ bowing his head and nodding. She gives him another caring grin and they shake hands one more time. Champ holds on to her hand and says something. Waverly can only make out the end of it.

 

“I won’t forget what you did for me. Thank you, Nicole.”

 

“You get yourself better Champ. Take care.” Nicole responds, motioning to the people in the van. They get out and talk to Champ for a moment before getting him settled in the van and driving away.

 

The Earps stand there in shock. So much shock that they don’t even notice Dolls’ presence until he moves from their side to walk over to Nicole.

 

“All good?” He asks her.

 

She nods and then focuses her eyes on the Earps. She narrows her gaze and Waverly sees the unfriendly expression is directed at them (specifically, her).

 

Nicole walks over and doesn’t give Waverly a chance to speak before she starts talking. “What the hell were you thinking? You just assaulted a civilian. Not only that, but you did it to a citizen that was free to go and you did it in the middle of a police station… in front of an officer of the law. God Waverly! If it had been anyone else you would have been arrested. What the hell? I get that he was a horrible boyfriend and did horrible things, but I never expected you to stoop down to assaulting him. You are better than that.”

 

Before Waverly can respond, Nedley pokes his head out the door of the station and yells, “Haught, my office, now!”

 

Nicole doesn’t even look at either of the Earps as she passes them and walks back inside. Dolls goes in next, leaving a stunned pair of brunettes standing in the middle of the parking lot.

 

Chapter Text

Waverly watches as Nicole exits Nedley’s office and walks out to the front. Dolls is there and offers her a ride home. She accepts (since he brought her here in the first place) and walks out of the station with him. Nicole never even looked at Waverly. Wynonna walks into the bullpen and joins her sister near Nicole’s desk.

 

“You okay Babygirl?”

 

“Something is going on.” Waverly says, still looking at the doors her girlfriend and boss had left through a minute ago.

 

“No shit. Haught patted Chump on the back and shook his hand… twice!”

 

“It is more than that. He was acting like a kicked puppy and seemed genuinely remorseful. Whatever he did was bad. And then Nicole let some people take him and then yelled at me. And her and Dolls are now all buddy-buddy. Like, when did that happen?” Waverly rambles.

 

“I don’t know. But Nicole, Dolls and Nedley all seem to be hiding something and I highly doubt it is cold cases.” Wynonna states

 


 

Waverly drives to Nicole’s house later that day with takeout food and a bottle of wine in hand. She knocks on the door and waits patiently for Nicole to open the door. It takes her longer than usual, but she excuses it as her being busy or something. But part of her knows that isn’t the reason.

 

When the door does open, Nicole looks surprised to see her. The anger and disappointment she saw in her girlfriend’s eyes earlier is almost completely gone (which makes Waverly feel a little better). Waverly holds the items in her hands up as a peace offering and Nicole opens the door enough so Waverly can come in.

 

Waverly puts the food and wine on the counter and turns to face Nicole (who is leaning against the wall of the entryway).

 

She takes a deep breath and looks at her girlfriend. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t have touched Champ or even gotten involved. You are right, I am better than that, or at least I am trying to be. I just kind of lost it. You looked hurt and my first thought was that he hurt you and I know jumping to conclusions isn’t good but… I don’t know. And then you were being all nice to him so then I was confused and realized he probably wasn’t the one who hurt you. If someone hurt you. And hey! You didn’t tell me you were hurt! And everything is just kind of a mess. And…”

 

Waverly’s rambling is cut off when Nicole steps forward and places a hand on Waverly’s forearm. She looks down at Nicole’s delicate grip and feels herself begin to relax. After a moment, Nicole moves around Waverly and directs her to sit on the couch. Waverly does and Nicole sets about unpacking the Chinese food. After two minutes, Nicole has their food set out on the coffee table and a glass of wine poured for Waverly.

 

“You aren’t having any?” Waverly asks, a little surprised. Most probably wouldn’t guess, but her girlfriend loved a good glass of wine with dinner so her abstinence is surprising.

 

“Not tonight.” Nicole says, speaking for the first time. They sit on the couch and eat their food as the hockey game plays in the background. She had been watching it while finishing her paperwork when Waverly arrived.

 

After finishing their food, Waverly can’t take the silence. She and Nicole have always had the comfortable silence thing down, it was always so easy. But this silence felt suffocating. “Nicole, please say something. You have to have something to say.”

 

Nicole looks at her a moment before looking back down at a file she was reading. Waverly thinks she is going to ignore her plea but then Nicole speaks (still looking through the file). “Waverly. Do you remember when I arrested Tucker and you tried to convince me not to in the Purg High gym?”

 

Waverly nods and Nicole continues.

 

“Do you remember what I said to you?”

 

“You told me not to tell you how to do your job.” Waverly answers.

 

“Yes, I did, because for the second time in our relationship, you were doubting my abilities to do my job. The job I am trained to do. And you should know better than anyone else how it feels to be underestimated.” Without waiting for a response, Nicole continues. “So, you can imagine how it feels when the person doubting you is the person you care about most in this world.” Nicole pauses and takes a deep breath, not really sure if she wants to have this conversation but knows it has to be done. “And what makes it all even worse is knowing that very same person, the person you love more than anything, cheated on you and didn’t even have the decency to tell you herself.” Nicole says all of this in an eerily calm tone.

 

Oh no. Waverly feel the panic begin to grow in her stomach. She is stunned speechless.

 

When it is obvious that Waverly is not going to say anything, Nicole speaks once again. “So, yes, I was nice to Champ. Even thought, yes, he did hurt me. And yes, I didn’t tell you. After all the things I realized you and Wynonna are hiding from us, I didn’t want to call you up and tell you that your ex-boyfriend shot me on accident, while drunkenly upset over you dating me. That was not something I wanted to discuss with you. I didn’t want your sympathy or your anger. All I wanted was to move on and get Champ the help he needs.”

 

Waverly is still stunned, still unable to speak or get her thoughts in order. Nicole gives her all the time she needs to sort things out though, simply going back to her paperwork.

 

After several long minutes…

 

“What?” Waverly asks, even now she is still struggling to comprehend everything Nicole is saying. After another pause, she decides it would be best to unpack things one at a time. “How do you know about Rosita and I?”

 

“It doesn’t matter how I know. What matters is that it didn’t come from you. You should have been the first one to talk to me about it. Not try and hide it only for me to find out later.” Nicole takes a breath, calming herself down enough to finish her thought. “Once I found out, I even asked you about it and gave you multiple openings to tell me. But you didn’t. Actually, you lied straight to my face.”

 

“Nic…”

 

“And then Dolls tells me that Wynonna knows your mom is alive and has actually even been communicating with her for some time now.” Nicole watches Waverly’s features change and gathers another conclusion. “And by your reaction, you already knew that too. Another thing you kept from me. And just one more thing you and your sister are keeping from the rest of the team. What good is a team if we can’t trust each other to be honest. I get that Wynonna is your sister Waverly, I do. But you like to say the team is family too. And I am going to be honest, I was starting to believe you until all of this started. There are things about my past that you don’t know about. I am not innocent in all of this and I am not trying to paint myself as such. But my secrets are about my past, a past that I am trying to leave behind. But you lying to me and hiding things that we (as a team) could use, is a whole different ball game.

 

Waverly stares at her. She has so much to say but doesn’t know how to say it. “How did you find out about all of this?”

 

“Dolls told me the thing about your mother being alive and Wynonna hiding it. I found about you cheating on me with Rosita when someone (I assume Tucker) sent me a text message with a video attached.”

 

“Oh my god, Nicole, I’m so sorry. I just…” Waverly starts.

 

“You just wanted me to hurt the same way I hurt you by hiding your results. So, you sent me that text message and then got with Rosita to just twist the knife in the wound.” Nicole supplies, seeming almost exhausted by the conversation.

 

“I kissed Rosita, that’s it. And it was a mistake and we both knew it as soon as it happened. I was lonely and upset with you and wanted to feel something besides the anger. Nothing else happened. We both regretted it the moment it happened and I wish it had never happened” Waverly tries. She wants to tell her that she loves her. That the only person she wants to kiss is Nicole and that she loves her more than she can even fully comprehend.

 

“I don’t know if I believe you.” Nicole responds with a sadness that breaks Waverly’s heart. Nicole had been relatively stoic up to this point. “If I am being honest, it isn’t about the physical act. It is about the breach of trust and the lying and the fact that it was done to hurt me.”

 

“I am so sorry.” Waverly says softly.

 

“I don’t want an apology Waverly. I really don’t. I know you are sorry. But notice how you didn’t deny anything. The lies, the secrets. That’s the problem I am having with everything. I don’t know who to trust. The only people that are even being honest with me at this point is Dolls and Nedley. DOLLS and NEDLEY, Waverly. Do you realize how crazy that is? The two men I trusted least when I got here are my closest allies at this point.”

 

“I don’t know what the right thing to say is or what to do. What can I do to earn your trust back?”

 

“Honestly, I don’t know Waverly. I really don’t. I wish I did because I hate feeling like this. I hate that there is so much I want to tell you but don’t know if I can. I hate that I feel like you are always hiding something from me and I always end up hearing it from someone else. I hate this. I hate that I love you, but I can’t trust you. I hate that all I want to do is hug and kiss you and tell you it’s all okay… but I can’t. If I did, I would be lying. And that is something I will not do, not with you. I have my secrets about my past, as do you. I don’t hold those against you. But what has happened since we met, the things happening now… I feel I had a right to know.” Nicole stands up and walks slowly over to the window, looking out at her driveway. “I don’t know who to trust and the fact that I can’t trust you kills me more than anything else. And the kiss with Rosita… Look Waverly, if you don’t want to be with me, please just tell me. Don’t string me along in an attempt to spare my feelings. That just makes it worse. And if you can’t start being honest with me… we won’t make it. So, I think you should think about things and take some time. You and Wynonna have been through a lot, we all have. But your sister needs you right now and you should be with her. You are her world and she is yours. Take some time and think about it.”

 

“And if I don’t need time? If I know what I want and it’s you?” Waverly asks, tears streaming down her face as she looks at Nicole’s back.

 

She sees Nicole inhale deeply and release a long breath. “I think you do need time Waverly. You are not a child and I am not telling you what to do. But I don’t want to be held on to because you think it’s the right thing to do or because you don’t want to be alone. I want you to want this because you need me, not just somebody. And I think you should take some time to figure out which it is. Time to think can’t hurt.”

 

“And do you need time?” Waverly asks tentatively.

 

“No.” Nicole says softly. “After Champ shot me, I had a lot of time to think. The ball is in your court Waverly. But please, be sure about your feelings, because I don’t think I can have my heart broken by you again unless it is for good.”

 

Waverly walks up behind Nicole and hugs her, pressing her wet cheek in between Nicole’s shoulder blades. “Do you want me to go?”

 

“You can if you want, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Nicole says softly.

 

Waverly walks around Nicole and waits for the redhead to meet her gaze. “You didn’t answer my question. What do you want Nicole?”

 

“What I want may not be best for either of us. That is why it is up to you.”

 

Waverly wants to stay and she is about to say so but her phone rings before the words can leave her lips. She pulls it from her pocket and answers. “What’s up, Nonna?”

 

Nicole can hear Wynonna talking on the other end but steps away so she can’t hear what is being said. After a few more moments of conversation Waverly agrees. “Okay, I will be there soon, bye.” Waverly turns and looks at her girlfriend with a guilty expression on her face. Wait, are we still girlfriends? “Um, Nonna needs me at the homestead. I gotta go.”

 

“Yeah, go. Be safe.” Nicole says. She doesn’t sound angry or even displeased. She just seems, defeated.

 

“Nic…”

 

“Waves, it’s okay. Just go be with your sister. I will probably see you at work tomorrow.” Nicole urges, going back to her paperwork. “Thanks for dinner.”

 

“Yeah…” Waverly says, grabbing her purse. She looks at Nicole and decides she can’t leave like this. She drops her bag and walks over to Nicole, leaning down and kissing the redhead softly. She feels more tears fall as Nicole doesn’t pull away, rather she reciprocates the kiss in equal measure. And Waverly, in that moment, just wants to stay. But she can’t and she knows it. She pulls away and rubs the soft cheek with her thumb.

 

She walks out after that, knowing if she stays any longer, she will never leave.

 

Chapter Text

Waverly and Wynonna arrive on time to the station and find Dolls and Nicole already at work in the BBD office.

 

“Why are you guys up at the ass crack of dawn?” Wynonna asks.

 

“It’s eight in the morning Earp and we have already been here for two hours. Take a seat, you have paperwork to catch up on. Waverly, you got your research to handle.” Dolls says, handing Nicole a sheet and watching her read and highlight it as he speaks.

 

“What are you two working on?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Actual police work Earp. That’s what we actually do from time to time.” He responds in his normal stoic manner.

 

Nicole never looks up from her papers, clearly engrossed in what she is doing.

 

“Need any help?” Waverly asks.

 

“No.” She answers, but softens the blow with, “We will let you know if we do though.”

 

They nod and sit at their desks, both a little perturbed but knowing it would be a bad idea to argue about it right now.

 

About an hour passes before Nicole and Dolls both stand up and go take their breaks. But before they go, they pack up all their work and lock it in the safe inside Dolls’ private office.

 

“So, you said Haughtstuff was being weird, but that was a new level. I mean, she almost acted like we weren’t even here. Even when you guys would be upset with each other, she didn’t act like that.” Wynonna says. “Like, I think it would be easier if she acted angry. It is so much worse when her and Dolls go all ‘unaffected and indifferent’ on us.”

 

Having told Wynonna about her talk with Nicole, both Earp sisters are now aware that both of their partners know they were keeping secrets. Waverly knows her sister is right. This is so much worse than anger. Her talk with Nicole would have been so much easier if the deputy had shown some anger. But instead, she just looked hurt and tired.

 

“Yeah.” Waverly agrees absentmindedly.

  


 

 

“Dolls.” Nicole calls as she enters the room. “I got a tip from a CI. You want to tag along or should I just brief you when I get back?”

 

“I’m coming.” Dolls says, standing and walking towards the door.

 

Waverly and Wynonna both get up as well, planning on coming too. Dolls stops and looks at them.

 

“Dolls, we are coming. We are a part of this team.” Wynonna barks, not leaving any room for argument.

 

Dolls just shrugs, but both Earp sisters notice Nicole and Dolls tense at the mention of the team. He simply keeps walking and allows them to follow without mention.

 

Dolls pulls out of the parking lot with Nicole riding shotgun and with the Earps in the back.

 

“So, are either of you going to tell us what is going on?” Wynonna asks impatiently.

 

Dolls and Nicole exchange a look before Nicole speaks. “I have a confidential informant who is involved with some of the remaining residents of the trailer park. With Bobo trapped and presumed to be dead by the other Revenants, the majority of the rest have scattered. But about fifteen (from what my CI tells me) returned to the trailer park, having nowhere else to go.”

 

“And why is this important? And who is your informant?” Wynonna asks.

 

“They are called confidential informants for a reason Wynonna. And it is important because that is likely where Bulshar will look for support when he is back. Plus, he will have added help when the rest of his cult arrives. Thus, we are trying to get as much information as we can before things get crazy.” Nicole says agitatedly. She turns to Dolls and regains her stoicism. “I texted Doc, he will meet us there.”

 

“Good.” Dolls says simply, focusing back on the road.

 

“Cult?” Waverly asks.

 

They pull up to the trailer park and both Nicole and Dolls ignore the question.

 

“Stay in the car.” Dolls says, watching Nicole get out and walk towards Doc (who is parked a few yards away).

 

“What the hell Dolls!” Wynonna starts.

 

“You wanted to tag along. Fine. But you are going to obey orders and let us do our job.” Dolls cuts in, not having it. He gets out and stands by the door, but doesn’t move to follow Nicole and Doc as they near the trailer park gate.

 

The gate opens and a man comes out, nodding to Nicole and then to Doc before addressing Nicole directly. “Officer Haught.” Terrance greets a little nervously.

 

“Terrance. You know Doc, correct?” Nicole replies, not friendly, but not unfriendly either.

 

“I do, yes.” Terrance replies before looking over nervously at Dolls’ SUV. “Is the heir with you?”

 

“Yes, but she will remain in the car.” Nicole assures.

 

“Don’t pay her any mind. She is just here out of pure stubbornness. Shall we?” Doc continues.

 

“Yes, yes. Come in.” Terrance says, leading them through the gate and into the trailer park. They walk to his trailer and enter, closing the door behind them. “I have the information you asked for.”

 

Nicole throws an envelope of cash on the table and looks at him. “You know the drill Terrance. I held up my end of the deal, your turn. Tell us what we need to know.”

 

“Okay, so there are twenty-two revenants that are staying here. Most just doing so to try and hide from the Earp woman as long as possible. They aren’t saints, we… we are demons. But most of us just want to relax with what time we got left. There are also ten humans living amongst us as well. Mostly biker gang guys or town fuck ups. But I can confirm a member of the cult reached out to us and requested we join them. Many here said no right away, but some are definitely thinking about it. Hoping it will help them stay alive longer and possibly kill the heir.”

 

“And you?” Nicole asks, still stoic.

 

“I am a simple man Officer Haught. I am just trying to enjoy what little time I have left on earth. I have no intentions of joining some cult. I wasn’t all that pleased to have Bobo as a leader. I really don’t need some mega demon god coming in and doing the same.” Terrance responds. “I am trying. I really am. To be good. I donate most of the money you give me for my services and try to keep the others from getting into trouble. I have been to hell and back several times. I am tired. Fish and Levi were friends of mine and were the reason some of us tried to turn our lives around for as long as we are here. I am a monster, I always will be. But hopefully I can do some good for someone else in this life. It will never make up for what I have done in the past, but…”

 

“It’s okay Terrance. I know. That’s why what you are doing with us is so important. I will call with instructions in a few days.” Nicole says, walking out with Doc.

 

Terrance escorts them to the gate, other Revenants walking around near them (minding their own business).

 

From the car, Wynonna and Waverly watch Nicole and Doc reemerge and walk back to the gate. Nicole is talking with a man about her height with sandy brown hair. He looks at the SUV and his eyes glow revenant red. On instinct, Wynonna jumps out of the car and points peacemaker at the revenant.

 

“The heir!” Someone shouts and then two revenants grab Doc and Nicole by their necks, holding them as human shields.

 

Wynonna aims at one, trying to get a clean shot.

 

“Wynonna! Stop!” Nicole yells.

 

“Earp!” Dolls yells, turning at her with wide eyes. “Don’t!”

 

“Wynonna, put it down!” Doc shouts.

 

Waverly stands in shock, watching as her girlfriend and Doc are held at gunpoint by revenants.

 

Dolls steps in front of peacemaker and walks foreword until he can push the gun down and grab it. He empties the ammunition and places it in the car, shoving Wynonna and Waverly back in the backseat.

 

As soon as the SUV door closes, Terrance turns to the revenants holding his guests. “Guys, it’s okay. Officer Haught and Doc aren’t here to harm us.”

 

“He is telling the truth. We are just here for information. We were just leaving.” Nicole affirms, not letting her anxiety show.

 

The revenants let go of them and drop their guns to their sides. Terrance nods to them and leads them out of the gate. As the gate closes, Nicole glares at the SUV, knowing Wynonna is likely watching her.

 

Dolls walks over. “You okay?”

 

“Fine. Meet you back at the station.” Nicole says, walking away from him and the SUV.

 

“You’re not riding back with us?” Dolls asks.

 

“No. Because if I do, I might murder Wynonna myself and then this is all over. She almost got Doc and I killed right now. She has no concern for procedure or orders and someone is going to get hurt because of it. So, no, I can’t be in the same car as her right now. I need to cool off. I will ride back with Doc.” Nicole says, anger boiling over. She doesn’t yell, but she knows Wynonna and Waverly can probably hear her or at least tell she is angry. Dolls nods in understanding and walks back to the SUV as Nicole climbs into Doc’s car and they drive off. 

 


 

 

The drive back in the SUV was silent. The same can’t be said for Doc’s car.

 

“You okay Officer Haught? Doc asks.

 

“Please Doc, call me Nicole. And yes, I’m fine. Just pissed and angry. I will get over it.” Nicole says, not wanting to direct her anger at him. She takes a deep breath.

 

“I am glad you and the deputy marshal decided to include me in your mission. I know it might not mean much, but I appreciate you thinking of me.” He says, entering Purgatory proper.

 

“Doc, I like you. And knowing who you really are now, I can’t think of a reason to exclude you. I know you have had your moments, we all have. But you are a good man and will do anything for the Earps. That makes you uniquely qualified to be on this mission because Dolls and I are the same way. We need you because you care about them and will do what needs to be done to end this curse. Plus, some of the choices we will have to make are going to be hard. You are the only one they will forgive when this is all over. Dolls and I… our relationships with them are complicated, but you are a part of their past, their present and their future. And you are Alice’s dad. They are going to need you.”

 

“They are going to need all of us Nicole.” Doc stresses, not liking the way she is selling herself short.

 

Nicole nods but Doc knows she is just doing so to appease him and not start an argument. He knows she doesn’t believe him.

 

After a long moment of silence, Nicole speaks. “And Doc?” He glances at her to show he is listening. “Thank you. It was better having you there today. I am really happy to have you around.”

 

He smiles and nods, finishing the trip in a comfortable silence.

 

Chapter Text

Dolls and the Earps enter the BBD office, seeing Doc and Nicole writing up on the whiteboard.

 

Wynonna walks up to Nicole and speaks softly. “Hey, can I talk to you outside for a second?”

 

Nicole caps the pen and puts it on the table. “Wynonna and I are going to grab coffee. Anyone want anything?”

 

Dolls hands Nicole his X cup and begins reading the stuff Nicole and Doc had written as Nicole and Wynonna leave the room and head towards the break room. They enter and Nicole goes about making coffee while Wynonna stands and gathers her thoughts.

 

“I’m sorry.” Is what she comes up with.

 

“Okay.” Nicole says, not pausing her movements.

 

“Look, I am not good at this whole apologizing thing so just bear with me. I am sorry for almost getting you and Doc hurt today. But I saw the revenant’s eyes and just acted on instinct. I didn’t think they would grab you and Henry and hold guns to your head. So yeah, I am sorry.”

 

“Okay.” Nicole replies again, filling Dolls’ cup and then two others with the now hot coffee.

 

“Okay? That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” Wynonna asks in annoyed disbelief. “You sure as hell had a lot more to say at the trailer park earlier!”

 

“Wynonna, what do you want me to say?” Nicole asks, looking exhausted all of a sudden.

 

“I want you to yell or punch me or tell me how you really feel! Tell me the truth!” Wynonna exclaims. She knows it was the completely wrong way to word it immediately but the words are out there.

 

“The truth?” Nicole asks in disbelief. “That’s rich coming from you. You know what, here’s the truth Wynonna. You didn’t almost get Doc and I hurt today. You almost got us KILLED Wynonna. You want the truth? Fine. I think it’s hypocritical and fucked up that you expect me to be truthful with you right now considering you have been lying to me and keeping secrets from me since the moment I met you. And the real rub of it is that you are still doing it! You and Waverly both. That’s the truth Wynonna and that’s all I will say about it because we are at work and this isn’t professional.”

 

Waverly walks into the breakroom, obviously drawn by the noise. “Everything okay in here?”

 

Nicole shoves a coffee cup into Wynonna’s hand and grabs hers and Dolls’ from the counter. “Sure.” She answers as she walks out of the room and back into BBD.

 

Waverly looks at her sister in question.

 

Wynonna sits down at the table and sags. “Well, that sucked.”

 

“You okay, really okay?” Waverly asks.

 

“She hates me.”

 

“She doesn’t hate you. She won’t admit it, but you are kinda her best friend here in Purgatory Nonna. She cares about you. She just feels like she doesn’t know who to trust. Unfortunately, having her girlfriend and her best friend lying and keeping secrets didn’t help. Just… talk to her outside of work when you try again. This isn’t really the best place for it.”

 

“Yeah…” Wynonna says, taking a sip of her coffee, only to realize it is scalding hot and burns herself. “Son of a-!”

  


 

 

“So why are you all investigating the Cult of Bulshar and where are you getting your resources?” Waverly asks.

 

Dolls, Doc and Nicole all exchange looks and it is noticed by the Earps.

 

“What the hell aren’t you telling us?!” Wynonna exclaims, agitated at being out of the loop. Shit! I am such a hypocrite. Shut up brain!

 

“Confidential informant.” Dolls answers but Nicole cuts him off before he can say more.

 

“It’s okay Dolls.” Nicole says, looking at the Earp sisters. “My father is a lieutenant (one of five) of the Cult of Bulshar. I was born into the cult, but left at seventeen. That is where all this intel is from. I gave Dolls access to my personal files the day after we… uh.” Nicole pauses, swallowing down a lump in her throat. “The day after the helicopter came and took Alice.” She says, swallowing hard again and regaining her composure. “After I knew she was safely with Gus, I told Dolls about my files and we have been going through them ever since.”

 

“You are a part of the Cult of Bulshar?!” Wynonna shouts.

 

“No.” Nicole says with neutral features. “I left before I was inducted, which normally happens on a person’s eighteenth birthday. I was never an official member, no children are. The cult believes that children are not capable of truly surrendering themselves to the Almighty Father and therefore are to only become members when they turn eighteen.”

 

“The Almighty Father?” Wynonna asks for clarification, noticing Jeremy as he enters the room and sits silently.

 

“Bulshar. That’s how he is addressed by his followers.” Nicole explains.

 

“I never knew you grew up like that. You never mentioned it.” Waverly comments, not really sure how to react.

 

“You never asked.” Nicole replies, but there is no heat to it. She simply states it like any other fact.

 

“Nicole, if you were born into the cult, how are you not still there? I imagine they didn’t take you wanting to leave lightly.” Jeremy asks, writing down notes on his tablet.

 

“I left. I ran away and didn’t tell anyone. I wrote a letter explaining and that was it. But you are right Jeremy, they weren’t happy. Since leaving, they have tried to get me back but nothing came of it.”

 

“But if your father is a lieutenant of Bulshar and the cult itself and the job is passed down through families… doesn’t that mean you are technically next in line?” Jeremy questions, still writing.

 

“Yes. Bulshar killed my mom and my sister was still younger than me so even if she wasn’t killed too, I would still be next in line.” Nicole says bluntly. “You can imagine how they would prefer to have me with them, but at this point… I am pretty sure they would settle for dead. Assign another bloodline to the position after my father. Or maybe he had more kids after I left. Who knows?”

 

“He didn’t have more kids.” Dolls says, looking at his computer. “Birth record show nothing involving him after you and your sister. But there is record that he had a Vasectomy shortly after your sister was born. He couldn’t have had more children.”

 

“Thank god.” Nicole mutters to herself. “Anyways, our CI from the trailer park gave us numbers and another informant of mine told me that the cult is on its way to Purgatory to unite with Bulshar.”

 

“Nicole, may I ask, if you were so ready to leave the cult, why come to Purgatory? Why settle in the very place Bulshar is buried under?” Doc asks.

 

“I didn’t know that at the time. Hell, I didn’t know about the Earp curse or Bulshar’s connection to it until fairly recently. But even if it had been sooner, I had my reasons for staying. I think we all do at this point.” Nicole answers honestly.

 

Doc nods to her and they all look at the whiteboards, working together for the first time in what feels like months.

 


 

“Am I the worst girlfriend ever?” Waverly asks, taking a seat on the stool next to Nicole.

 

“What?” Nicole asks, a little startled and very confused by Waverly sudden appearance and question.

 

“For not asking about your past more. I realized yesterday that you know almost everything about my past and have always listened and asked questions when I talked about it. Am I horrible because I never asked you about your family more?” Waverly continues.

 

“No. You’re not. And to be fair, you did ask me about my parents. I told you that I don’t speak to them and that is the truth. But I didn’t tell you why. I wasn’t ready to explain it then and unfortunately, now I am kinda forced to be ready. I guess it had to come out eventually.” Nicole says, taking a large sip from her glass. She signals Doc and he pours her another drink as she downs her previous one.

 

“Nic? You okay? You are throwing those back a little fast.” Waverly asks tentatively, running a hand softly along Nicole’s shoulder.

 

“I’m fine Waverly.” Nicole says, but her tone and posture says otherwise.

 

Waverly turns to Doc as Nicole downs her new drink. “She is cut off Doc. We all have to work tomorrow. Wynonna too.” She adds, looking over to her sister (who is drinking at the other end of the bar). Waverly turns back to Nicole. “Hey, baby look at me.”

 

Nicole looks at her and the pain in Nicole’s eyes almost sends her staggering back. “Yeah Waves?”

 

“Let me take you home. Neither you or Wynonna can drive in this state.” Waverly suggests.

 

“I’m fine. I will just walk to the station and take a nap before I get back to work.” Nicole says, standing up and walking towards the door.

 

Wynonna stands and goes towards the door, following her sister, who is following Nicole.

 

“Nicole. You should sleep in a real bed and get some real rest.” Waverly says as they make it outside, watching Nicole as she continues to walk down the sidewalk.

 

“No thanks.” Nicole says without turning back.

 

“Nicole c’mon.” Wynonna protests.

 

Nicole doesn’t respond and just continues walking. They watch her until she reaches the station parking lot and disappears from sight.

 

“Well, she is in a mood. I miss happy drunk Nicole.” Wynonna says, walking towards Waverly’s jeep.

 

“Yeah. I miss Nicole too.” Waverly says softly, turning to walk away.

 


 

Sitting in Nedley’s office a few days later, Nicole stares at her hands. Neither has said anything since Nicole entered the room, Nicole needing to collect her thoughts and the sheriff knowing that too.

 

After a deep breath, Nicole speaks. “I am not sure how everything got so messed up. When did life go from the normal complicated to this crap? Like, I thought life in this town was crazy, but now… I didn’t know the definition of crazy until now. My personal life, my professional life, all of it. It is all a mess. I guess the reason I am here is… Sheriff… I need some perspective.”

 

Nedley looks at her for a moment before sighing and pulling out his bottle of hooch. “Nicole, this town is… crazy. No one will deny that. But I think the perspective you are seeking can’t be given to you. Your past has now merged with the normal craziness here in Purgatory. The norm here is enough for someone to lose it. Add in your past… I am surprised you aren’t more of a mess. Perspective won’t help you in this moment. Only working through stuff and time can do that. But don’t let it all crush you. Focus on one problem at a time, one day at a time.”

 

Nicole takes in that information, nodding her head before letting it fall into her hands. “I am losing my mind.”

 

“No.” Nedley says, standing and walking out from behind his desk. He takes a seat next to Nicole and sighs. “No, you are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn.”

 

Nicole nods and leans her head into his shoulder. “One problem at a time. One day at a time.” Nicole repeats softly.

 

Nedley wraps an arm around her shoulders and squeezes softly. “Exactly.”

Chapter Text

Waverly and Wynonna are surprised when Nicole is not in BBD that morning. Waverly checks her punch card and sees she is on duty, but isn’t in the bullpen or the office. She thinks of one more place and peers through the blinds of Nedley’s office. Inside, she sees Nicole in a side hug with Nedley, their backs to the window. Concern washes through Waverly immediately.

 

Wynonna comes out to find her and sees what her baby sister is staring at. “What do you think all that is about?”

 

“No idea but it worries me.”

 

They both watch as Nicole and Nedley eventually stand and Nicole leaves his office. Nicole sees them and nods towards them before moving down towards BBD. They follow and enter into the office just in time to here Jeremy begin talking.

 

“So Nicole, I think our best bet is getting you into contact with the Cult of Bulshar.” Jeremy starts.

 

“What?!” Wynonna, Doc, Dolls and Waverly all shout in unison. Nicole simply looks at him as if waiting for him to continue, her features schooled and unchanging.

 

“Well, the way I see it, we still aren’t sure what the cult’s plan is or how strong Bulshar is. Once he is back to full strength and has his disciples by his side, it is going to be very hard to take him down.” Jeremy explains. “If we could get you in, then you could be our informant inside the cult. Especially with your father being a leader and all.”

 

“Absolutely not!” Waverly protests.

 

“No Jeremy. Bad geek!” Wynonna scolds.

 

“They may just kill her as punishment for leaving.” Dolls adds.

 

“I reckon that even if they didn’t, she would be put in a position that would be mighty uncomfortable.” Doc says.

 

“The cult doesn’t even know she is here. It will be bad if they figure that out.” Dolls says with a protective edge to his voice. “They will come for her if they find out.”

 

“There are risks and it is up to Nicole. But I think it is worth thinking about.” Jeremy says, watching Nicole carefully.

 

“No. We are not discussing Nicole being sent back into a cult to probably be killed. No.” Waverly says clearly pissed at Jeremy for even suggesting it.

 

Doc and Dolls are both staring at Nicole, trying to get a read from her emotionless and unmoving features. After a long pause, Nicole stands and walks over to the map on the board. She grabs a pen and circles a spot about a hundred miles out from the Ghost River Triangle boundary. “That’s the cult’s last known location. We start there.”

 

“Nicole…”

 

“Waves, I need to think about it, okay? I have to at least consider all my options, even the least appealing ones.” Nicole says, but her voice is its normal tone. There isn’t anger or even sadness, just acceptance.

 

Waverly wants to argue but knows now is not the time. They all start going through different options to try and defeat Bulshar and end up doing that for the rest of the work day. By the end of the day, they are all tired and ready to go home. Waverly stops Nicole before she can leave and looks at her with a soft expression. “Can… can I come over tonight? If it is okay with you, I would like to talk.”

 

Nicole lets out a breath and sighs a little, running her hands along Waverly’s arm softly. “Yeah, I would like that but, do you mind if we go to the homestead. With everything going on, it is probably safer there. Plus, CJ is staying at Nedley’s place with Chrissy for the next few days.”

 

“Pizza?” Waverly enquires, trying to hold back her excitement.

 

“Yeah, I will pick it up on my way there. Meet you there in an hour or so?” Nicole offers.

 

“Perfect.” Waverly says, hesitating a moment before leaning up and kissing Nicole softly on the cheek. She nods at the redhead before taking off after Wynonna.

 

Nicole smiles a little sadly at the retreating brunette before turning and walking back inside the BBD office, shutting the door. She looks at Dolls, Doc, and Jeremy and sighs. “I just got a text from my CI at the trailer park. The first of the cultists have arrived and… they know I am here. If we are going to do this, we have to do this soon. My best guess, they will all be here by Sunday.”

 

“That’s less than two days. That is not enough time to test our ammolite theory.” Jeremy says in a panic.

 

“Then I think we better hope and pray it will work the way we think it will.” Nicole says, looking to Dolls and Doc. “Guys, I got to go tell Nedley. Say goodbye, just in case. Waves and I are eating pizza at the homestead. You guys should all come too.”

 

They all nod and silently watch her leave, none knowing what to say.

 


 

After an emotionally charged talk with Nedley, Nicole picks up pizzas and drives out to the homestead. Everyone is there and seem to be in good spirits. Watching a hockey game, eating pizza and drinking cold beer is definitely a good night for all of them. By midnight, Wynonna and Dolls are passed out in her bed, Doc in the barn and Jeremy on the couch. Waverly and Nicole clean up before climbing the stairs and entering the brunette’s bedroom. Closing the door behind her, Waverly leans up against it and looks at Nicole. Nicole sits on the bed, looking up at the brunette.

 

“There is something you and the guys aren’t telling us. I can feel it.” Waverly says softly, looking at Nicole’s body language.

 

“That is true. But can we talk about it later? I don’t want to be angry anymore, not tonight.” Nicole asks, looking almost pleadingly at Waverly before letting her eyes drop to the floor.

 

“Yeah, baby. It can wait.” Waverly says, pushing off the door and moving to stand in front of Nicole. “Nicole, please look at me.”

 

Nicole looks up at her with emotion filled eyes and nuzzles into Waverly’s hand as it raises and caresses her cheek. She threads her fingers together behind Waverly’s waist and pulls the shorter girl closer, leading her to sit on her thighs and straddle her. Waverly leans in and kisses Nicole on the lips for the first time in almost two weeks. That spark, the one she felt the first time they kissed and every time after, it hits her and makes her feel like she is coming home. Nicole deepens the kiss and leans back, letting her back hit the mattress. Waverly doesn’t break the kiss, simply molding into the woman below. The brunette begins unzipping Nicole’s uniform top, asking permission between kisses. “Okay?”

 

“Yeah baby.” Nicole responds, lifting Waverly’s shirt over her head before tossing it to the floor somewhere to her left.

 

Waverly leans off of Nicole enough to pull her uniform shirt off as well, throwing it over to join her own shirt somewhere. Waverly kisses down Nicole’s jaw, to her neck and then moves down to her chest, only stopping so Nicole can pull her sports bra off and unclip Waverly’s bra. Waverly’s mouth finds Nicole’s left breast and her tongue circles a taught nipple before sucking. Nicole moans loudly, tangling long fingers in brunette hair. “Waves, baby. Don’t stop.”

 

Waverly has no intention of stopping, but Nicole’s needy plea does something to her anyways. She feels Nicole’s fingers unbuttoning her shorts, sliding them down with practiced ease. Waverly almost falls apart in that moment. She starts to slide Nicole’s pants as well, taking her underwear with them.

 

Both completely naked and pressed together, Waverly isn’t sure how she ever went without this. Nicole flips them over and is kissing her neck with a hunger that makes the heat inside Waverly burn even hotter. As the redhead begins to descend down Waverly’s body, she trails kisses down her path, drawing needy whimpers from the woman below. Waverly’s fingers clench fists into the sheets at Nicole’s mouth reaches her center. After careful kisses and nips to Waverly’s thighs, Nicole begins taking care of Waverly’s center. It isn’t slow, but it is paced with a purpose and Waverly feels so loved by it. Inserting two fingers into Waverly, Nicole’s tongue begins to lavish Waverly’s clit. Before long, Waverly’s hand is going to the back of Nicole’s head and she is moaning so loud she shoves a pillow over her face to muffle the sound. When she cums, her whole body shakes and the aftershocks leave her sore and needy for the woman kissing back up her body. Nicole kisses her on the lips, not at all surprised when Waverly pulls her body down to lay on her fully.

 

“God, I missed you.” Waverly says breathlessly. “Missed moments with you, holding you, being held by you.”

 

“I missed you too.” Nicole breathes out, kissing Waverly’s neck softly.

 

Waverly flips them over and doesn’t waste time bringing Nicole to her own release, her fingers and tongue hitting just the right spots.

 

When she burrows into Nicole’s body and relaxes against soft skin, she sighs and nuzzles her cheek into her softly. “I love you. I want you. I want us and this for the rest of my life. I didn’t need time to know that. The time just solidified it for me.” She whispers.

 

She feels Nicole shift and she looks up, meeting Nicole’s tear stained face. “Hey, hey.” She says, sitting up and moving to wipe the tears with her thumb. “What’s wrong?”

 

Nicole breathes heavy, a chuckle choked out. “So many things are wrong, but not in this moment. I am afraid and exhausted and so fucking tired of life all the time recently, but not right now. It’s… peace. But I know it is temporary and that we will have to return to the real world come morning.”

 

“Hey, remember what you said? We can talk about it tomorrow. But tonight, tonight is for us.” Waverly says softly, kissing Nicole’s lips and then kissing the tears from her cheeks.

 

Nicole nods and pulls Waverly in tighter, holding her as close as possible as they drift off to sleep. Right before Waverly feels sleep take her she hears Nicole begin to whisper.

 

“I love you Waverly. I love you so much that it hurts. And I am hoping and praying that we will come out of this together. But if we don’t, I want you to know that I love you and I am so proud of you. You are so strong and smart and so good to others, even when they don’t deserve it. I know you think you should have been the heir and you should have been. But don’t let that position fool you. You are the leader Waverly. You are the one protecting and supporting all of us. You are the one who will bring everyone home. I love you baby.”

Chapter Text

Waking up the next morning, still naked, in Nicole’s arms is (in Waverly’s opinion) the best way to wake up. She missed this, this feeling. After everything that has happened, all she wants to do is stay in this moment forever. But movement downstairs makes Nicole stir and yawn as she slowly wakes.

 

“Hi.” Waverly whispers, kissing Nicole’s cheek.

 

“Hey.” Nicole whispers back.

 

“Do you have to get up?” Waverly asks, snuggling into the warmth of Nicole’s body.

 

“Yes, but not right now.” Nicole answers, readjusting so she is holding Waverly tighter.

 

“We need to talk.” Waverly says.

 

“Isn’t that what we are doing?” Nicole deflects, staring up at the ceiling.

 

“You know what I mean.” Waverly counters, shifting on to her side so she can look at Nicole’s face. “You are holding back information (you and the boys all are).”

 

“Well, no one could ever accuse you of not being smart.” Nicole draws invisible lines up and down Waverly’s arm, gathering her words. “Bulshar’s cult will be here tomorrow. He will rise and they will come for Wynonna and for you. That is why you both and Jeremy are going to drive out of the triangle tonight. Bulshar can’t leave the triangle and the cult won’t be able to follow you because you are going to go and tell no one where you are going.”

 

“Nicole…”

 

“Waves, please let me finish.” Nicole asks, almost pleadingly. Waverly stays silent and Nicole continues. “Jeremy has new identities for the three of you. I called Gus and after some time has passed, you three can meet her somewhere and see Alice.” A tear runs down Nicole’s cheek, but she ignores it. “You and Wynonna are going to get a little vacation and we will handle Bulshar and the cult. Dolls will get in touch with Jeremy and he will bring you back when it’s done and Wynonna can go back to trying to break the curse.”

 

“Nicole. No.” Waverly protests. “I am not leaving. Not unless everyone is leaving too. You can’t ask me to leave you behind.”

 

“I’m asking that you prioritize yourself and Wynonna for once in your lives. For once, put yourself first. Your parent’s, this town, no one besides Gus and Curtis have ever done that for you. So I am asking you to do it for yourselves.”

 

“You can’t defeat Bulshar without the heir, or peacemaker or the team.” Waverly argues. “Nicole, Wynonna and Doc used our one bullet against the widows.”

 

“Actually, we think that we can. And if we are wrong, you two being here doesn’t help us because Wynonna doesn’t have a plan and if something happens to her, the curse will be passed on to Alice. No one wants that. And if anything happened to you… Waverly I can’t risk that.” Nicole says.

 

“And what about if something happens to you? You don’t think that will destroy me? Really Nicole?” Waverly sits up a bit more, looking at Nicole incredulously.

 

Nicole sits up more. “Waverly. The cult wants me dead. I am a traitor and a deserter and the punishment for that (like most crimes) is death. You have to come to terms with the fact that that may be a possibility. I have been wrestling with it for a long time, but I am okay with it as long as I go out in the solution of the problem.”

 

“How can you say that?!”

 

Nicole takes Waverly’s hand and squeezes it. “I love you Waverly. I love you so much that I am willing to die for you if that is what it takes. I don’t want to cause you pain. That has never and will never be my intention. But I don’t want you to be here to see this all go down.”

 

Waverly lets tears run down her cheeks freely, pulling Nicole up and hugging her tightly. “I hate this.” She whimpers between sobs.

 

“I know. So do I.” Nicole whispers, trying to contain her own sobs as well.

 


 

Waverly and Wynonna are all packed and ready to go by nightfall. Jeremy has the car packed and waits for them to say their goodbyes.

 

Wynonna hugs Nicole, but only briefly. “I hate you for making me do this.”

 

Nicole can see the anger, the pain, but also the love and heartbrokenness in her eyes. Wynonna is angry with her, with them all. But she is angry because she loves them, even if she won’t admit it.

 

Nicole nods, not surprised by Wynonna’s anger. She knows it is covering up a lot of vulnerability too, but there is a lot of anger too. “I know.”

 

Wynonna looks at peacemaker in its holster and then back at Nicole. “Take care of yourself Nicole. For Waverly’s sake.”

 

“Give Alice a hug for me.” Nicole says, signaling the elder Earp to go say her other goodbyes.

 

Waverly walks up to her, but instead of a hug, she kisses Nicole with so much passion and heat that Nicole almost falls to the ground. “If you die on me Nicole, I will never forgive you. Understand me? You are it for me. So, think about that because if you die, you are killing me too.” Waverly threatens dangerously as she pulls back from the kiss.

 

Nicole leans in and lightly kisses Waverly once more before pulling her in for a tight hug. “I love you.” She whispers, tears streaming down her face. “With all my heart.”

 

Waverly fists her hands in the back of Nicole’s shirt, trying not to sob again. “You know I feel the exact same way. I love you Nicole.”

 

Nicole bites her lip hard, holding back the loud sob that is threatening to break her.

 

They separate and Nicole leads her over to the waiting car. Once both the Earps are in (Wynonna in the driver’s seat, Jeremy riding shotgun to navigate and Waverly in the back) Nicole leans in and whispers into Jeremy’s ear. “Take care of her, of them. Promise me Jeremy.”

 

“I promise.” He whispers back, nodding to her. He hands her a box and then rolls up the window before they drive off. She can’t bear to watch them leave, she just can’t; and keeps her head down as she listens to the sound of the engine get quieter and quieter.

 


 

Nicole looks out the window and sees them. There is a group of SUVs coming towards the homestead, three of them. The SUVs stop in front of the lynch gate and wait, knowing their presence is known. She looks down at her hand, the one that her ring normally sits on. Instead, it is in the palm of her hand and she softly places it on top of the letter she has written. She looks at the box Jeremy gave her and sighs.

 

Walking out of the homestead, she looks at the three SUVs and watches several people exit the vehicles. Some are familiar (although older than she remembers), but one in particular makes her heart hurt. Brown eyes so similar to her own stare at her. His hair was much redder the last time she saw him, but it is still an eye catcher. He steps forward, but doesn’t pass the boundary line. Two other men (ones Nicole recognizes from childhood) step forward as well to flank him.

 

Nicole stops a few feet away, not passing the boundary line. They both stare at each other for a long time before he speaks. “Hello daughter.”

 

“Father.” She greets, but it is strained.

 

“Thank you for contacting us.” He says, and it sounds genuine.

 

“It would happen eventually.” Nicole says, sounding empty. “I don’t want to run or hide anymore. I will take my punishment if that is what the Almighty Father demands. I will not resist. I am tired of fighting my family, my home.”

 

Her father looks at her, sadness in his features. “You did not have to leave. You shouldn’t have.”

 

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I saw how horrible life was at home… what happened to my mother… Lea.” Nicole gulps hard, trying to keep her composure. “I thought the outside world would be better. I thought I could run from the pain but I was wrong. This world, it is just painful.”

 

“Come with me. We will discuss your fate with the Almighty Father.” Her father says, holding out a hand to her.

 

Nicole turns and looks back at the homestead once more before crossing the boundary line and taking her father’s hand. He pulls her in for a hug and she allows it, even reciprocates it. After a long moment, he leads her to an SUV and they all get in before driving off.

 

From the homestead’s top floor, Dolls and Doc watch from the window with pained grimaces on their faces.

 


 

To say the trailer park looks different would be an understatement. Most of the trailers are gone, now replaced with building materials (obviously intended to be used to build structures). As the SUVs enter the compound, Nicole sees people working on a new gate, while others move crates from vans to already constructed structures. There is a building in the center of the compound and it is completely constructed and finished. She knows that is where she is going… and where Bulshar is.

 

The SUVs stop and everyone gets out. Nathanial joins his daughter on the passenger side and leads her towards the building’s entrance. Two guards posted at the doors stop her and search her before allowing her and her father to enter the building. When they do, he leads her down a large hall and into a room at the end of the hall.

 

Nicole looks around the room, but she sees him instantly and feels her blood run impossibly colder. They walk towards where he sits in his throne, Nicole not looking him in the eyes. When about ten feet away, Nicole stops and drops to a knee, keeping her head bowed.

 

“Nicole Haught. Eldest child of the Haught family. The destine successor.” Bulshar stops and looks at her closely. “And traitor.”

 

“Correct, Almighty Father.” Nicole says, keeping her eyes closed. “I am here to receive my punishment. I will not resist, I have no reason to. I am ready to die.”

 

 Bulshar observes Nathanial stiffen at his daughter’s words, clearly pained by them. “Come to me, my child.” Bulshar says, motioning for Nicole to come forward.

 

Nicole obeys and stands, walking forward but keeping her head down. Nathanial stays in his place, but watches his daughter intently.

 

“Why is it now that you decide to surrender? I am told you ran and hid for many years. Even went as far to align with the Earp heir.” Bulshar asks, curious. He wants to know why before he kills her.

 

“When my mother and sister were killed, I was angry and I blamed the family. I left thinking the world would be different. It took time, but I realized it was not and it was more painful than I ever could have imagined. I will not go against you Almighty Father. It is futile. There is no power that can contest yours. I would rather die now, after reuniting with my family, than fight and die with the Earps. Call it honor, pride, revenge. It doesn’t matter. I couldn’t let them take anything else from me.” Nicole pulls a ring (his ring) from her pocket and holds it up to him. “I can’t help them try and defeat you. The widow had this when the heir killed her and the other. It belongs to you.”

 

Bulshar regards her for a long moment and then looks to Nathanial. “Nathanial, come forward my son.” He obeys and comes to stand at Bulshar’s side. Bulshar stands and slowly comes to Nicole.

 

“Nicole Haught.” He says, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Prove yourself true and I will spare your life. Pledge your undying loyalty. Come home and live in everlasting heaven.”

 

Nicole hesitates and looks up at him. “Why? Why do you spare me?”

 

“Because I can see the potential you show. If you prove yourself, you live as one of the family once more. If you fail to convince me of your faithfulness, you die.” Bulshar explains.

 

“I do not deserve this gift.” Nicole says, cringing at her words.

 

“Speak the truth child. Why do you break ties with the Earps?” Bulshar asks.

 

Nicole feels his power take hold. It is like truth serum. She cannot lie, he will know. “Because of the Earp heir’s sister.”

 

“What transgression did she impose upon you?”

 

Nicole swallows hard and feels tears in her eyes. Then the power pushes and she feels herself break. “She broke my heart. She was unfaithful and she… they both broke me. They only trust each other, and they are each other’s priority. They chose themselves over me. I learned I could not trust them. The eldest Earp and rightful heir, she shot me in an attempt to kill me. And they left me here to chase their curse. But I stayed and let myself care for them… and then they stabbed me in the back over and over again.” The tears run down her cheeks and hit the floor. “I refuse to be a pawn to an unworthy leader.”

 

Bulshar nods, feeling the validity of her emotions. “They were not your family. We are your family. Only we, only I, can be trusted.” He looks at her, watching her body tremor as she breathes.

 

“I needed to be free of them.” She gasps out.

 

“My child, put my ring on.” He says to Nicole. Nicole looks at him questioningly. “Go on my child. You will wear my ring. Pledge yourself true to me, faithful to me and to us. You will be welcomed with open arms and be the successor you were destine to be. You will learn from your father and take his place when the time comes.”

 

Nicole looks at the ring in her hand, staring at the black stone. She slowly slips it on to her finger and immediately feels it’s power. The ring shifts shape before her eyes, the band becoming thinner and the stone reshapes to fit the new band. It is distinctly feminine and is a complete contrast to the bulky shape it was seconds previous. She raises her hand to her face, flipping it side to side slowly. The power, the energy, it’s like a drug Nicole has never felt before. Instantly, she can’t remember a time when she was able to live without this feeling. She then looks to Bulshar and smiles for the first time in what feels like forever. “My Lord.”

 

“Stand my child. We have work to do.” Bulshar says, smiling as well.

 

Chapter Text

“Something doesn’t feel right.” Waverly says for the hundredth time since they left last night.

 

“Nothing is right about this Babygirl! We know!” Wynonna bites out. She is tired and frustrated and angry and just wants some peace that she will never find. She softens and turns around to look at her sister. “Look, I know. But what are we supposed to do?”

 

After a moment, both girls turn to look at Jeremy (who has his eyes on the road and the steering wheel tight in his grasp).

 

“Algebra. What is their plan?” Wynonna asks

 

“What m-makes you think I know it?” Jeremy asks, stuttering nervously.

 

“Because you are a human computer and obviously had something to do with it.” Wynonna counters, not giving him room to wiggle out of it.

 

“Spill it Jeremy.” Waverly says, normally nicer but tired of this.

 

Jeremy pulls into a motel parking lot and shuts the engine off. “Fine but let’s get settled first. It’s a lot.”

 


 

“She is doing what?!” Waverly exclaims, pacing their motel room.

 

“She is going back into the cult. Integrating herself in an attempt to kill Bulshar.” Jeremy repeats.

 

“Wouldn’t Bulshar just kill her? That’s the punishment for crimes and being a deserter is definitely a crime in that cult. She said they tried to kill her before.” Wynonna asks, pacing parallel to Waverly. “You had to do the math on that.”

 

“Yes. I calculated the likelihood of that outcome, yes.” Jeremy says, watching carefully.

 

“And?!” Waverly asks.

 

“Waverly you don’t…”

 

“Jeremy! Spill it!” Wynonna shouts.

 

“83 percent!” He squeals, hating the pressure. He takes a deep breath. “I figured there was an 83 percent chance that Bulshar would just punish her and the plan would fail.”

 

“And she went along with it anyways?!” Waverly is livid and scared out of her mind.

 

“And how are they planning on killing Bulshar?” Wynonna adds.

 

“Nicole had a theory. She said the bullet you and Doc used to kill the widows with was laced with ammolite. Well, the thing is, that bullet wasn’t the only ammolite at our disposal. It’s in Peacemaker (in the metal it’s made of) and it’s in the talisman that protects the homestead.” He turns to Wynonna. When you fire peacemaker, the bullet goes through the barrel and rubs against the metal. That friction causes some of the ammolite in peacemaker to be transferred to the bullets and that is what makes peacemaker the only gun that can kill Revenants. Because only you can fire it, it limits the users. Nicole hypothesized that if we dug up the talisman on the homestead, and used it to create a weapon… she could kill Bulshar.”

 

“She is not the Earp heir.” Wynonna protests. “She can’t kill the Revenants or Bulshar. Only I can do that.”

 

“That’s not entirely true. She might not be the Earp heir, but she is the heir of the cult of Bulshar. You see, about two years after Nicole left the cult, disease spread within the cult and made all the men and women (who didn’t die) sterile. Most of the children died, including all the children of the lieutenants. She is the only living successor. Therefore, she is… the heir of the cult of Bulshar. We read through what we knew about the Earp curse and the cult. The widows and Constance were able to harm Bulshar. That is because they are a part of his bloodline. So, if the curse works similarly in the cult and our hypothesis is right... Nicole, in theory, could kill Bulshar with an ammolite weapon.” Jeremy explains. “We dug up the talisman and extracted the ammolite the day before we left. Nicole had me test its purity and make sure it was as close to perfect as possible. The plan was that once we left, she and Dolls would go to Gretta so she could craft the weapon.”

 

“What is this weapon Jeremy?” Waverly asks, stopping her pacing.

 

“Nicole said it was going to be a dagger. We only extracted some of the ammolite so we had a limited amount of material to work with. We didn’t want to use it all in case it fails and we are forced to use plan b. Plus, we hoped the remaining ammolite would be enough to keep the homestead protected. But… Nicole, Doc and Dolls agreed that they didn’t want to take the risk and that is why the three of us are here.”

 

Waverly looks at her phone wallpaper, a photo of her and Nicole at the poker spectacular. It is one of her favorites of them. She wishes she could call Nicole, or Dolls, or anyone for that matter. Before they left, Nicole pulled both her and Wynonna’s sim cards so they couldn’t be tracked. That also meant, no contact and they couldn’t risk being tracked by calling home anyways. Tears silently fall down her face as she clutches her phone to her chest.

 

Wynonna looks at Waverly and then to Jeremy. “Did Dolls let you keep your phone?”

 

“No, he took my sim card out, just like yours. But… he did give me a secure sat phone in case of emergencies and for him to send me updates or questions. But he made me promise to tell him nothing about where we are or anything else that will give away our position.”

 

“When was the last time you heard from him?” Wynonna asks.

 

“This morning.”

 

“And what did he say?” Wynonna pushes.

 

Jeremy gulps, but instead of saying anything, he pulls a phone from his bag and hands it to Wynonna. Waverly leans over her sister’s shoulder to read the last message.  

 

Unknown: Haught inserted. Was picked up an hour ago. Weapon not ready.

 


 

Nicole walks into the newly constructed house that she will now call home. It is more like a single room, but she doesn’t care anymore. All meals are eaten in the common building with the entire family. So, all her home includes is a bedroom, a bathroom, a small sitting area, and a small storage room. She sits on her new bed and looks down at her phone. Looking at a photo of her and Waverly, she cringes. The ring, the cult (her family), the power… it makes her feel so strong. But Waverly, she makes her feel so loved and cared for. But with those feeling comes the pain and hurt she felt after hearing that Waverly cheated. She locks her phone and puts it in the drawer of the nightstand, closing it as if removing it from sight would have the same effect on her mind.

 

She goes to bed that night with a sharp pulling in her heart and doesn’t sleep at all.

 


 

When Wynonna wakes the next morning, Waverly is still where she was when Wynonna had gone to sleep. She is looking out the window, staring at nothing.

 

“Did you even sleep?” Wynonna asks, but knows the answer.

 

“No, I uh… I can’t do this Nonna. I can’t walk away.” Waverly swallows hard. “I am going back. You and Jeremy keep going.”

 

“I am not going either. I love my daughter and I want more than anything to see her. But she is safe and the team is not.” Wynonna says, grabbing peacemaker and holstering it. “I know they want to protect us and although I know it comes from a good place, it really pisses me off. I am going back too. This is our home, our team, our family, our world. I won’t let Bulshar or anyone else take it from me without a fight.”

 

They both turn and look to see Jeremy pacing the room, seeming to be arguing with himself.

 

“Mad scientist, what’s your deal?” Wynonna snaps.

 

Jeremy stops and looks at them both. “I need to go back too. I am scared but… they need our help.”

 

Waverly nods at him, understanding the feeling and conflict.

 

Wynonna walks over to him and rests a hand on his shoulder. “We are a team Jer. We will do this together.”

 


 

Eating breakfast with everyone, Nicole finds herself almost constantly pulled into conversations with people. A few new, many old and familiar but all curious about her. It is nice in a way. It reminds her of the days before her mother and sister’s deaths. Although life within had been horrible, there had been good times. As much as she hates to admit it, part of her missed it.

 

After breakfast, Nicole meets with her father and they drive out of the compound to go for some target practice.

 

Taking a shot with his rifle, Nathanial assesses it before lowering his weapon and turning to look at his daughter as she takes her own shot at the target. “It is good to have you home Honey.” He says, smiling a little sadly. “I know things between us are… difficult. But, I did miss you. So much. Losing your mother and Lea, and then losing you too…”

 

“I am sorry I caused you pain. The feeling of losing someone you love is not a pain I would wish on anyone.” Nicole says, lowering her weapon after emptying her clip.

 

Her father looks at her, taking her in like he seems to keep doing since they reunited a week ago. She notices (not for the first time) but this time, she raises an eyebrow at him in question.

 

He blushes and clears his throat. “Sorry. It’s just, you are just so much like your mother now. When you were little, everyone always said you looked like me.” He pauses and gathers his thoughts. “We share the looks still. The hair, the height, the eyes. But the way you carry yourself, the personality you have and the way you look and talk to people… that’s all her.”

 

“Do you miss her?” Nicole asks, feeling her stomach turning and twisting.

 

“Every day. Lea too. If I am being honest with you, I don’t think I will ever stop missing them. It was bad, especially after you left too. It consumed me, the loss. It took some time before I could be of service again and even then, I knew I would never be the same.” He turns away from his daughter and sighs. “What happened to your mother was… the law and the way of our family, our people. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cry for her and your sister, for you. Your mother was the love of my life, despite everything. I have never been able to find a person able to love me despite everything, except her. She loved me and you girls. She was special. I do miss her Nicole. And I know you hated me for letting what happened to them happen, but…” He stops and looks at his daughter, unable to read the expression on her face. “As much as you probably hate me for it, that can never compare to how much I hate myself for it. I wish things were different, I wish there could have been another way. I wish a lot of things.”

 

There is a long pause as the words hang in the air, both taking in everything and the emotions crashing down. The air is heavy, almost to the point that it is hard to breath.

 

“I don’t hate you.” Nicole says softly, looking at her father. “I did, and when I think about that day, I feel anger towards you. But, I don’t hate you, not anymore.”

 

He smiles a little sadly, but nods. “I am happy you are here Nikki. I really am. I know things are… hard here. But, selfishly, it is nice to not be alone here. Not anymore.”

 

Nicole takes another shot and hits the target right on the bullseye. “This is where I need to be. It is where I belong I think.” She looks at her father. “I will live and die here among the family. That is what I see for my future.”

 

Chapter Text

Driving past the Welcome to Purgatory sign, Waverly feels herself and Wynonna both relax the slightest bit. They shouldn’t. They are going towards a demon god who wants to kill and destroy everything. But, this is their home. And this is where their family is.

 

“Jeremy, did you tell Dolls we are coming back?” Waverly asks.

 

“Yeah. He wasn’t happy about it, but he told me it is safe to go back to the homestead. He and Doc are there now and are waiting for us.” Jeremy replies.

 

As they drive, they can see the new faces and the activity in the direction of the trailer park.

 

Ignoring it all for now, they continue to the homestead and park out front. Dolls stays inside, but Doc comes out and greets them, helping them with their bags.

 

“What is going on?” Waverly asks as they all come and take seats in the kitchen.

 

“Well, Bulshar is here and so is the cult. His lieutenants are all here as well… including Nicole’s father. We tried to stake out the trailer park, but we couldn’t really get close enough without getting spotted. Although, I think we will probably have to rename it because the trailers are gone and they have erected an entire compound in a matter of days.” Dolls says, showing them photos they took that morning.

 

“And Nicole?” Waverly asks.

 

“She is there. We haven’t talked to her since she left but our surveillance team has gotten a few shots of her in the past few days.” He replies.

 

“Surveillance team?” Wynonna questions.

 

“Nedley, Doc, and a contact of Nicole’s. You will meet her later today.” Dolls puts a few photos down on the table, all with Nicole in them. “From what we can tell, she is not a prisoner and Bulshar decided to spare her. But, she is also not leaving the compound often and…”

 

Looking at the photos, Waverly sees it instantly. The ring. His ring.“She is wearing Bulshar’s ring.”

 

“She is.” Doc says with a sad nod. “We are assuming that is why she was spared and why she hasn’t come back. We were all witness to what that ring was capable of when the widow wore the piece. I can’t imagine what it does to the heir of the cult. I wouldn’t doubt it to have a large impact on Officer Haught.”

 

“And this weapon Jeremy told us about? You think it can kill King Bullshit?” Wynonna snarks.

 

“We believe so. But it is untested and Gretta just finished it today.” Dolls replies, pulling a dagger from a small box. He hands it to Jeremy and watches the smaller man examine it.

 

There is a knock on the door and Doc moves to open it. A woman walks in behind him, one Waverly, Wynonna and Jeremy do not recognize.

 

“Wilks.” Dolls greets. He turns to his team. “This is Emily Wilks. She is a contact of Nicole’s. Wilks this is my team. Jeremy Chetri is our resident forensic tech, Waverly Earp is our research analyst, and Wynonna Earp, the Earp heir.”

 

Wilks nods to them. “Good to meet you. Nicole told me a lot about you.” She says it to all of them, but her eyes linger a little too long on Waverly.

 

“Well that’s funny, because Haught never told us anything about you.” Wynonna growls, not liking this woman already.

 

Wilks smirks. “Yeah, well, Nikki has never been one to reminisce in the past and share. A lone wolf that one.” She looks at Waverly again before taking a seat across from them. “I am a member of the Cult of Bulshar. Have been since birth. Nicole and I grew up together and we were… close. But I didn’t leave like she did. I stayed. But I never accepted the Almighty Father’s way of life like the others. Nicole recently contacted me when she heard he would rise. The cult trusts me; thus, I am able to come and go as I please without much question. That is why I am here.”

 

“And what position do you hold in the cult?” Waverly asks, knowing this woman had to be important.

 

“I filled the position left open after the death of brother Potter. He died a few years ago.” Wilks replies.

 

“So, what is it that you do exactly and why should we trust you?” Wynonna asks.

 

“My job is to monitor moral and keep the peace amongst the family. Because we are new to this region, my job is to also understand the people and the area around our new home. And you should trust me because Nicole does. Or at least, as much as Nicole is capable of trusting anybody.” Her eyes shift to Waverly once more but she quickly looks back at Wynonna and continues. “Look, I am here to help. Nicole isn’t the only one who has lost people because of the cult.”

 

Jeremy raises his hand as if in a classroom and Wilks nods to him. “How did you take your position in the cult? I am only aware of one way a bloodline for a position can change.”

 

Wilks nods again and looks at everyone. “I killed Potter. That is how the bloodline changed. Like I said, Nicole isn’t the only one to lose people. Potter killed my sister a few years after he killed Nicole’s mother and sister. Alexander was a cruel man, but then again, everyone in the cult is cruel in their own way I guess. His wife was dead already so I took his place.”

 

“That brings me to my next question.” Jeremy says, as if Wilks admitting to murder is nothing. “Don’t you have to be married to take a position as a lieutenant?” He looks down to her empty ring finger.

 

“No, not exactly. You just have to be betrothed, not necessarily married.”

 

“So, you are betrothed and have been for years?” He asks for clarification.

 

“Yes.” She says, smirking slightly and glancing at Waverly once more before continuing. “To Nicole.” She lets that sink in for only a moment before continuing. “The day Nicole left, Potter and Haught (her father) met with the other lieutenants. They believed she would come back and thus allowed her to still be considered family as long as she came back within a year. A week later I was told I had to choose who I would be betrothed to. She wasn’t there and I had no idea where she was, but like I said, we were close before she left. So, I chose her. Or rather, Potter agreed with my decision and assigned her to me. Nathanial genuinely thought Nicole was coming back and so did many others, so none of them objected.”

 

“I am sorry, hold up. You are betrothed to Haught? Without her knowledge or consent?” Wynonna barks out, agitated and angry.

 

Waverly stays silent, trying to just take in the information without freaking out.

 

“Yes.”

 

“So what, you are helping us to? What do you gain from this?” Wynonna is standing, anger and suspicion rising.

 

“To help Nicole and end the cult. Like I said, I never accepted Bulshar’s rule. I am done. I want this over.” Wilks states, unaffected by Wynonna’s anger.

 

“And how much of this does Nicole know?” Waverly asks, voice calm and calculated.

 

“Everything now. But prior to rejoining the family, she didn’t know about the betrothal or Potter’s death.”

 

Waverly studies the woman, but doesn’t comment further, deciding to bide her time.

 

Wynonna gives Wilks a distrustful glare before meeting her sister’s gaze. They nod to each other, a silent conversation going on between them.

 


 

“We are going to go into town today.” Nathanial says as Nicole eats at his side. “Actually, not quite into town, but closer. We were thinking that a few of us would like to go get drinks at a bar we saw at the edge of town. It has been a while. Would you like to join us?”

 

Nicole seems to ponder this for a moment before nodding. “Sure. Which bar?

 

“Emily scouted out a place a few miles from here. It is called Pussy Willows. She says it is a strip club, but in her words ‘booze is booze’. Plus, it keeps us far enough away from town. I believe Emily will be joining us as well.”

 

“Yeah, sounds… great.” Nicole says, shaking her head and going back to eating her food.

 


 

“Hey.” Emily greets as she enters Nicole’s housing. “Met your team today.”

 

“My former team. Yeah. They are great.” Nicole snaps, running her hands nervously through her hair as she paces the room.

 

“You okay?” Wilks asks, walking up and blocking Nicole’s path, forcing the redhead to stop.

 

“Fine.”

 

“Liar.”

 

“Em. Please.” Nicole pleads.

 

“I know you Nikki. Better than most, even after all this time apart. I know you. Tell me what is bothering you and let me fix it.” Wilks says, resting both of her hands on Nicole’s shoulders.

 

“You cant fix this.” Nicole deflates.

 

Emily leads her over to the couch and they sit. “Tell me anyways.”

 

“I miss them. My team… Waverly. My life. But most of all, I miss not being afraid. Ever since I left that day, I have been looking over my shoulder. I wake up and go to sleep every night afraid. Whether it was fear of the Almighty Father, demons or any of the other crap. I am just so tired of being afraid. I’m… exhausted.”

 

Emily pulls Nicole into her, hugging and holding her tight. “You will get through your battle. You will come out stronger. You will come out on the right side. And I will get you there. We will get there, together.”

 

Nicole leans into the embrace, even as her heart objects. This isn’t the person she wants holding her in their arms, not even close. She wants Waverly, her heart and soul need Waverly. But Waverly is gone and Nicole is the one that sent her away. Waverly and the life she once lived alongside the small brunette are gone and she needs to let them go. Nicole made it clear to Waverly that she should move on, that they couldn’t be together and Nicole wouldn’t ask Waverly to wait for her to return or for her to die. But breaking up doesn’t erase the soulmate shape cut out of Nicole’s heart the moment Waverly and her separated.

 

Nicole feels tears in her eyes and sniffles as they begin to fall. That is why Bulshar welcomed her back. That is why she is still alive. Because her heart is broken, she didn’t lie about that to the Almighty Father. She is broken and unfortunately, it isn’t an act.

 

Emily rubs her back soothingly, turning her head slightly to kiss the side of Nicole’s head. “It’s going to be fine Nikki. I will make sure of it. This will pass and like all things in life, you will move on from this, from her.”

Chapter Text

Walking into Pussy Willows again is not something Waverly thought she would be doing. She has to admit, when Wilks said some cult members were going to the strip joint, Waverly thought she was joking. But either way, that is how Waverly, Wynonna, Doc and Dolls ended up sitting in the establishment while pretending to watch the dancers on stage.

 

It isn’t long after they are sitting when a group of ten or so men and women enter the building. The team clocks them immediately, casually watching them as they enter. The first person that really stands out is the redheaded man that comes in with the first few men. Even if Waverly hadn’t seen his pictures in the file, she would still have recognized him as Nicole’s father. He and the two men he entered with scan the room before moving further in and allowing the others to enter behind them. Next is Emily Wilks, hand-in-hand with Nicole. Another woman is with them, talking animatedly with Wilks as they walk in and take seats near the opposite side of the club. A few more men enter with them and the entire group sits together.

 

Waverly watches Nicole, watches as Wilks holds the redheads hand and cuddles into her side as they settle into the loveseat she chose. The sight makes Waverly sick to her stomach and she can see Wynonna feels the same when she turns to look at her sister. The feeling only gets worse when Wilks pulls Nicole’s face to her and kisses her deeply. Nicole is gripping the seat tightly, so tight that her fingers are completely white.

 

A waitress walks over to the group and they all order drinks, except Nicole. But Waverly can see Wilks order Nicole a drink anyways, whispering something into the redhead’s ear that Waverly can’t make out. Nicole shakes her head, looking a little miserable, but downs her drink when they come and proceeds to order another. Throughout that time, Wilks can’t seem to keep her hands or lips off the redhead. As the dancers on stage continue to entertain, Nicole’s father moves over to Nicole and says something, nodding slightly in the direction of the BBD team. Nicole shakes her head, but he says something and she looks as if she wants to argue back, but she doesn’t. Then he is standing and walking towards them.

 

“Greetings. I wanted to come introduce myself. Nathanial Haught. And you must be the Earps and company.” Nathanial greets, friendly but also slightly threatening. His eyes linger slightly longer on Waverly and Wynonna, obviously trying to figure out which one is the heir and which one broke his daughter’s heart.

 

“Deputy Marshal Dolls, U.S. Marshals.” Dolls greets but it isn’t friendly. “You are a long way from home Mr. Haught.”

 

Nathanial laughs, not at all intimidated by the other man. “Home is where the family is. It is relative. My family and the Almighty Father are here. Thus, this is home now.”

 

“Are you planning on making this a permanent thing or are you going to move on to some other shit hole town once you are done with ours?” Wynonna snarls with her patented sarcasm.

 

“Wynonna, I presume.” Nathanial says, directing his attention to her. “And to answer your question, we go by the will of the Almighty Father. We do not question. We just ‘go with the flow’ if you will.” He looks at them all and continues. “I am simply here to say that as long as you cause us no trouble, no harm will come to you. At least for today. I do this out of respect for my daughter. It seems as though she does not want any trouble today. But come tomorrow, if we see you… we will treat you as we would any enemy.” The threat is delivered with a harsh smile, almost wicked. “Although my daughter still struggles to let go of you all completely, she is aware that this little truce is only temporary. I would recommend you use it wisely.”

 

“We won’t go down without a fight.” Wynonna says, standing so she is toe to toe with Nathanial.

 

He chuckles, but then sighs. “I see why she was drawn to you. You clearly inspire confidence in those around you.” He looks at Waverly. “But my daughter is also no fool. She now sees you for what you all are. And so, do I. And, unfortunately for you and anyone who dares to fight with you, you are not enough. So, I suggest you sit down and enjoy the rest of your evening. You never know what will happen tomorrow.”

 

Waverly stares at him, wanting to slap him. “Nicole is too good of a person for all of you. You don’t deserve her. She deserves better than your cult.”

 

“The family is the best thing for Nicole. Clearly, she knows that because she returned to us. She returned, surrendered herself to the Almighty Father completely, and continues to live among us and take her rightful place. She is finally back where she belongs.” He insists.

 

“You call that a family?” Waverly asks in annoyed disbelief. “Since when has murdering someone’s mother and sister become a fond family tradition? That is not family. We are Nicole’s family, whether Nicole wants to acknowledge it or not.”

 

“You question my definition of family? Really Ms. Earp? That is rich coming from you. I mean, I watched Nicole surrender her thoughts to our Lord. She could not lie, so I saw the truth of you and your ‘family’. One sister shot her, the other was going to let her die in order to protect my Lord’s ring, and you. You, Waverly Earp, broke her heart. In the end, those action, all the betrayals and the lies, those are the reasons my daughter returned to the family. She went to those she could trust.”

 

Waverly glares at him, watching as he smiles at them all. “Anyways, I just wanted to make things clear. Enjoy your evening.” And with that, he walks back to his party.

 

When Waverly looks over to the others, she sees Nicole is absent. The sight of her love being kissed by another and the words Nathanial spit at them, it is enough to make Waverly sick to her stomach and she stands to go to the bathroom. When she walks in, she sees Nicole standing in the bathroom, leaning over the sink, looking like she is going to be sick. Her breathing is rapid and rough and she looks on the verge of dry heaving. There are tears in her eyes but she is clearly making an effort to not let them fall.

 

Waverly enters completely and shuts the door behind her, locking it and making sure they are alone in the bathroom.

 

Nicole turns at the sound, looking at her and new emotion flashes across her face.

 

Then, Waverly is pulling Nicole into her arms and holding her so tightly the redhead can barely breathe.

 

“Waverly.” Nicole wheezes out. The brunette doesn’t respond so Nicole tries again. “Waves.”

 

Then, lips are on hers and her hands instinctually move down to Waverly’s hips. It takes a moment, But Nicole eventually remembers their reality and pushes herself back enough to break their kiss. When she does, she sees the tears in Waverly’s eyes and knows there are some on her own face to match.

 

“Waves.” She whispers.

 

Waverly closes the distance again, but this time, it is a slow action and the hug is soft. She cries harder into Nicole’s chest and continues to do so for long minutes as they sink to the ground together.

 

Once her tears slow and come to a stop, she looks up into brown eyes that are trained on her but aren’t really seeing her. “Nicole?”

 

“I should get back out there. They will start wondering where I am.” The redhead says softly.

 

Waverly clutches her tighter, not willing to let her go. “Please come home. Please. We will find another way.”

 

“Waves, I can’t. I have to stay and try.” Nicole looks down at Bulshar’s ring on her finger and feels it’s power pulling at her. “It… it is where I belong.”

 

“You belong at home with me and Wynonna and the boys.”

 

“Waverly, do you know why Bulshar spared me? He did so because I told the truth when he asked me about the pain and heartbreak I feel. He believed it because it is the truth. I can’t go back with you. I can’t. I need to go with my father and Emily and… I am so tired of being afraid and in pain. I just want everything to be over.” Nicole’s tone is defeated and her words scare Waverly.

 

“Please don’t give up on us, on me.” Waverly pleads, taking Nicole’s face with both of her hands.

 

“I’m not. I know you and Wynonna will go on and break the curse and whatever else tries to get in your way.” Nicole smiles sadly. “But that is your story, your legacy and I am honored to have been a part in it thus far. But… this is the part in the story where I leave and you continue to go on and do great things and fight the bad guys.”

 

“And you? What is your story Nicole?” Waverly asks, feeling tears again.

 

Nicole releases a deep breath and lets her head actually rest in Waverly’s hands. “It’s still being written and my future is uncertain. But Waverly, for your sake… I can’t have you in it. I can’t watch you fight for me when even I am not fighting for me. I can’t watch you die.” Nicole pauses and tries to blink away the tears now falling down her cheeks. “This is why I got you to leave and told you to stay away. I didn’t want this to happen. I didn’t want you to see this.”

 

Waverly kisses Nicole softly and quickly on the lips. “I love you. And my story is so uncertain Nicole. I have no idea what will happen in the future. But what I do know is how it ends. You and me, together. Whether that is in life or in death. That’s my ending Nicole and no matter what scenario I try, it always ends with you by my side.”

 

Nicole releases a choking sob and buries her face into Waverly’s neck, clutching her tightly. “You need to let me go. It will only make it harder for everyone if you don’t.”

 

“Nicole, I can’t.”

 

“You have to.” Nicole pulls away and stands up, pulling Waverly to her feet as well. She wipes the tears from her face and sniffles. “Waverly, I have done things… will have to do things… the person you loved is gone.”

 

“You are right here. We are right here. You are here and you have got me.”

 

“And you have only a piece of me. Don’t you realize I can’t give you what you want? I can’t even give you myself because even that they have taken from me. They took it the day they murdered my mother and sister in front of me. I can’t give you anything Waverly.” Nicole pulls her into another hug and whispers into the shorter woman’s ear. “I can’t and you deserve better. You deserve a life, a happy life. You deserve to have someone by your side who can give you everything and love you the way you deserve.”

 

She turns and kisses Waverly’s forehead softly, holding back heavy tears and whispers. “Goodbye Waverly.”

 

And then Waverly is alone in the bathroom, her eyes closed, her breaths ragged. She doesn’t want to open her eyes, she doesn’t want to see reality. Because with her eyes closed, she can still pretend Nicole is with her, still standing there just an inch away. But then Waverly realizes that that dream is only painful, because her big brain won’t allow her to believe, even for a second, that it is real.

 

And then she opens her eyes.

 


 

“Is it easier now?” Her father asks as they enter the compound.

 

“I love her, even though I shouldn’t. I do. But… I hold faith in the Almighty Father. His orders are my command and that… that is more powerful than love. It is the ultimate power and I will not fight it.”

 

“And if the Almighty Father asks you to kill them, to kill her? Will you do it?” He asks, studying his daughter.

 

“It will pain me greatly, but yes. I will. I am a loyal servant to our Lord.” Nicole responds and her tone is confident and firm.

 

He smiles, although it is muted somewhat by the pain in his daughter’s eyes. “Good.”

 


 

“Wave! Get up!” Wynonna shouts, walking up the stairs and into Waverly’s bedroom.

 

“No!” Came the muffled reply from under the covers.

 

“Waverly Earp! Get your ass out of bed!” Wynonna shouts, pulling at the covers. “You have been sulking all week and I have had enough! Get up and pull yourself together!”

 

“Why?!” Waverly exclaims, angry and exhausted even though she hasn’t left her room for a week. “Why should I?! Nicole is gone and we have no plan to get her back! And even if we did, she will probably still end up dead!”

 

“You are more than your girlfriend Waverly!” Wynonna argues.

 

“She is the love of my life Wynonna!” Waverly yells. “I don’t have a life without her in it! At least, not one I want to live in!”

 

“Stop being dramatic! She’s just a girl!”

 

“She’s everything!” Waverly feels tears streaming down her face and she deflates, slumping back into her bed. “She’s my everything.” She whispers, looking down at her own hands.

 

Wynonna calms, sitting down next to her sister. She realizes she was harsh and Waverly didn’t deserve that. She is just so damn frustrated with everything. But she knows it isn’t fair to take it out on her sister. “Babygirl. I’m sorry. That was bitchy.”

 

Waverly hugged her arms tightly around her chest and sighs before leaning into Wynonna and allowing her sister to embrace her.

 

“I miss her.” Waverly cries into Wynonna’s shoulder, shaking hard.

 

“I know. Me too.”

Chapter Text

“Nicole, eat. You look like death warmed over.” Wilks says as she enters the room.

 

“Not hungry.” Nicole mumbles as she cleans her gun for the fourth time that morning.

 

“Are you really still hung up over your ex? Nicole. It has been weeks. You need to move on.” Wilks complains, walking over to Nicole and running her hands along the redhead’s arms and over her shoulders. “This isn’t healthy.”

 

Nicole ignores her and continues to clean and assemble the Beretta 92 in her hands. It isn’t her service weapon, the one she used to carry since joining PSD. No, this was a gun she never thought she would hold. It is the same model, but this one is all black and holds a story that Nicole shudders to think about. This gun, the one she can’t quite seem to get clean enough, has killed thirteen people… including her mother. It was Potter’s before he died. Emily took it after and gave it to Nicole.

 

“Nicole.” Emily says for the second time after Nicole doesn’t respond.

 

Nicole finished the assembly and lets the slide click back before turning her head towards the other woman. “What?”

 

Wilks pulls the chair away from the table and motions for Nicole to go to the bedroom. “If you won’t eat, then sleep.”

 

Nicole complies, grabbing the gun and bringing it with her to the bedroom. She lies in the bed, clutching a pillow to her chest and wills herself not to cry. She can’t cry, she has done it too much already. But the numb feeling that is taking over her is almost worse. Because now, she almost feels like she can’t feel anything.

 

Nicole feels the bed dip and then Wilks is lying next to her. “Baby, you need to move on.” Emily whispers.

 

“Em. I don’t think I can. They mean so much to me, not matter what they have done.”

 

Nicole hears movement and then there is a sharp pinch to the side of her neck. She flinches, but the sedative Wilks injected with the needle gun is already taking effect.

 

A hand runs through her hair and a soft voice comes closer to whisper in her ear. “I will help you Nikki. I will help you forget, I promise.”

 


 

Nicole wakes up in her bed, Emily by her side. She looks over at the clock on the bedside table and sees it is six in the morning. Time to wake up. Standing up and walking to the bathroom, Nicole brushes her teeth and changes her clothes before walking into the small living room of her home. At this point, Emily is awake and doing paperwork on the couch.

 

“Hey Lovey. How did you sleep?” Wilks asks, standing and walking over to Nicole. She wraps her arms around the redhead and brings her in for a kiss.

 

“Um…” Nicole scratches her head and hesitates to return the kiss. “Good. I guess. My head is just a little foggy.”

 

“Well, you did hit your head pretty hard yesterday. I am surprised you even got out of bed this morning.” Emily replies.

 

“I hit my head?” Nicole asks.

 

“Yes, silly. You don’t remember?” Wilks asks. “Honey, you were out fighting the enemy when one of them bashed your head against a wall. They got a few hard hits in you before your father and I got them off you.”

 

“The enemy? What enemy?”

 

“The Earps.”

 

“What? Wait? Those are my friends. My team. They wouldn’t hurt me.” Nicole is confused, shaking her head.

 

“Oh Honey.” Wilks takes Nicole’s hand and leads her to the couch. “Nikki, they haven’t been your team in a long time. You must have really hit your head. Seems like you have some memory problems due to the concussion.”

 

Nicole lets her head fall into her hands and continues to shake her head. “I am so confused. Why would the Earps hurt me and why would I fight back? I love them. They wouldn’t hurt me. Waverly wouldn’t let them. She wouldn’t.”

 

“Honey.” Emily gives Nicole a sympathetic look and rubs her back. “She was the one who bashed your head in.”

 

Nicole looks at her in disbelief. “What?”

 


 

“There has been no sign of Nicole since we spotted her at Pussy Willows. She hasn’t left the compound and we can’t seem to see her in the compound either. We assume she is just being kept indoors most of the time but we don’t have a lot of info. She seems to have just disappeared off our radar.” Dolls states, pulling out surveillance photos as Nedley hands them to him. He places them at the table so the team can see them.

 

“It is my experience that people do not just disappear Deputy Marshal. She has to be somewhere, but she may just be out of our vision.” Doc replies, looking at the photos.

 

“Haught has not been heard from or seen in exactly two weeks. That isn’t normal Deputy Marshal.” Nedley growls. “My deputy is smart. If she could, she would have contacted us by now. She would have found a way to get a message home.”

 

“What about Wilks?” Wynonna asks.

 

“She is radio silent too. Although, she has been around but has made no attempt to contact us.” Dolls states.

 

“I have a bad feeling about her. I have since I met her. She has something to do with this.” Wynonna bites out, looking at the photos herself.

 

“I may have a lead.” Waverly says from her place hunched over her laptop. “Since Nicole stopped showing up on surveillance and Wilks stopped checking in, I started to think something was wrong. I have been going through the shipments coming to the compound. They are humans, so certain necessities they have to order. Stuff like personal hygiene products, food deliveries, medical supplies, etc. But I have found an anomaly that is… troubling.”

 

“What is it Babygirl?” Wynonna asks, moving to her sister’s side to look at the screen.

 

“They order a lot of medical equipment and supplies, like a lot. But there are a few items on these lists that don’t make sense for medical purposes. For example, lysergic acid diethylamide…”

 

“LSD. It’s a drug. I can’t say it wasn’t fun while it lasted but it is a bitch once it’s over.” Wynonna states.

 

“Propofol…” Waverly continues.

 

“That’s a sedative used during surgeries.” Dolls adds.

 

“Sodium thiopental. And other related equipment like needles, IV setups, etc.” Waverly finishes, looking at them all. “Sodium thiopental is also known as sodium pentothal… truth serum. But more importantly, it leaves those exposed to it extremely open to suggestion. I have read studies from the BBD files showing how subjects often lose the ability to tell fact from fiction.” Waverly shudders and takes a deep breath. “My guess, with taking into consideration all the other drugs and equipment… they are trying to essentially brainwash Nicole. Alter her reality or something along those lines.”

 

“Why do you assume these drugs are being used on Officer Haught?” Doc asks.

 

“Because Nicole disappeared the day after the first shipment of Propofol arrived at the compound.” Wynonna says, reading the notes Waverly has on the screen. “So, what exactly can these drugs do?”

 

“When combined and used over time…” Dolls looks at them sadly. “I have seen foreign military forces use different combinations to get information. But the LSD makes me believe that Waverly’s assumption is correct. They are likely trying to alter her reality. Probably change her to believe their party line.”

 

“A more urgent matter is that Nicole might be dead.” Waverly says, startling everyone.

 

“What?” Nedley asks.

 

“Nicole is allergic to thiopental.” Waverly says, tears welling in her eyes but she refuses to let them fall. “From what Shae said and what Nicole told me after… it almost killed her when they gave her some during a surgery after a rock climbing accident.”

 

“But her father is there. He clearly cares for his daughter. I doubt he would allow them to do that to her.” Nedley states.

 

“He probably doesn’t know. Nicole didn’t even know until after she had left the cult. And I doubt she is willingly participating in this brainwashing attempt so she probably didn’t tell them.” Waverly fires back.

 

“I think I know what happened. Or at least, I have a good guess.” Jeremy pipes up from his spot next to Waverly. He points to his own computer screen. “They started with the Propofol. Probably in multiple doses over a few days to disorient Nicole, but only enough to confuse her. Then they added the LSD to try and induce hallucinations. But if that didn’t get the desired effect, they probably tried the sodium thiopental. But if Nicole had a negative reaction, she likely had an anaphylactic reaction. If so, they probably administered epinephrine and a lot of it. They restocked that drug a few days ago and purchased a bunch of different steroids and other drugs that would make sense when treating a major case of anaphylactic shock. But, I don’t think Nicole is dead.” He looks at Waverly. “I don’t know if this is a comfort, but they haven’t stopped ordering the Propofol. Which makes me believe they are still trying to brainwash her. I know that is bad, but at least that means she is likely still alive.”

 

Waverly nods and sniffles, drying the tears and refusing to let them fall. “Thanks Jer.”

 


 

“She is confused but seems to be receptive to the treatment.” Wilks states as she bows at Bulshar’s feet. “We almost lost her the other day, but the medical team handled it. She needs a few days to recover fully, but she is fine.”

 

“Keep working on her. She is special. With her with us, no one can stop us.” He looks at Wilks and smiles. “She may have come here with different intentions, but Nicole Haught's anger and pain is very real. Now, all we have to do is redirect that anger where is truly belongs.” He smiles even wider. “The Earps.”

 


 

“Cole. How are you feeling?” Nathanial asks as he enters her home in the compound, carrying coffees for them both.

 

“Better.” Nicole says softly, almost submissively.

 

“You don’t sound better.” He says, not hiding the concern in his features.

 

When he heard Nicole reacted badly to the procedure, that she almost died, he was a little more than angry with Wilks. He wasn’t particularly pleased with the idea of distorting Nicole’s reality, the drugs. The thought had him feel sick when he heard that is what they planned to do to his daughter. But he justified that if it worked, Nicole wouldn’t leave ever again and he wouldn’t lose the only family he has left. But the version of his daughter before him barely resembles the woman he reconnected withal those weeks ago.

 

“I am okay. Just confused.” Nicole responds, rubbing her head in search of a bump that Emily insists was there. An injury that would explain the foggy brain state she is in almost constantly now. “Emily said I was hit during an altercation with the Earps. She said Waverly bashed my head so many times and so hard that I am pretty cleverly concussed.

 

It is a lie. One that was fabricated to confuse Nicole and make her disconnect from her friends and her ex-girlfriend. But the sadness in Nicole’s voice and the way her face falls as she says it… it breaks Nathanial’s heart a little. Once again, much like after the death of his wife and youngest child, he finds himself questioning if this is all worth it.

 

“Nicole…” He starts, sympathetic and wanting to stop her pain.

 

“No, Dad. Please. Don’t. Don’t say anything… I can’t talk about this…” Nicole’s voice breaks and tears fall from her bowed head. “I can’t. If I do, I will never stop falling apart. I just…”

 

Nathanial looks at his daughter with pained eyes as she takes a few deep breaths. “I need to move on and stop thinking about them as my family. This, you. This is my family. The Earps… they gave up on me and turned. Clearly, they no longer believed I was worth protecting. So be it. But, I can’t hold on to them anymore. Please, just let me let it go.”

 

He nods and squeezes her hand softly, his other hand clenched behind his back so tight it hurts.

 

Chapter Text

“I don’t like seeing her this way.” Nathanial Haught says as he eats lunch next to Wilks.

 

“She will be fine.” Wilks says nonchalantly.

 

“That’s what you said before this all started and you almost killed her Emily. Forgive me if I don’t have much faith in you at the moment.”

 

“I am doing as the Almighty Father orders. If you have a problem with it, I suggest you take it up with him.” Emily snaps back.

 

“You almost killed her, she was out for days, and thinks the reason why is because the Earps, her love, attacked her and brutally so. I am allowed to be bothered by that. You are breaking her down.” He argues.

 

“I am, but then I will rebuild her into the faithful child our lord desires. This is for her own good Nathanial.” Wilks argues back.

 

“Is you sleeping with her for her own good too? Or is that just your compensation for your work?!” He raises his voice, anger rising with it.

 

“You know I haven’t, not yet.” Wilks growls. “Tradition says we are to wait until our wedding night.”

 

He laughs humorlessly and feels sick at the thought. “She deserves to have a choice.”

 

“No, she doesn’t. Because when she was given a choice all those years ago, she left. So, no, she doesn’t get a choice now. The Almighty Father commands it so. Get on board Nathanial. This is what is best for her and for all of us.”

 


 

“Where is she?” Waverly asks as she walks into Wynonna’s room.

 

“Who?” Wynonna asks.

 

“You know who.” Waverly says, glaring a little. “Momma.”

 

“She is a few miles out of the Ghost River Triangle.” Wynonna answers, looking at Waverly cautiously. “Why?”

 

“We need to go get her and bring her here. Now.”

 


 

Waverly stands at the front of the jeep as Wynonna walks into a small house facing the beautiful cliff to the east. Waverly surveys the scenery around her, noting that her mother’s choice of residence is very predictable. The cliff they are on towers over everything, making the lands around them look small. The world looks peaceful for as far as the eye can see. It’s nice. It also makes Waverly angry, knowing their mother retreated to a safe haven like this and left them in hell with Ward. But she shakes her head. Not now. They need to stay focused.

 

The front door of the house opens and Wynonna comes out, followed by a woman that hasn’t changed much since the last time Waverly saw her. She was only four the last time they were face to face, but Waverly would never forget the face of her mother.

 

“Waverly.” Michelle breathes out softly, stopping short and taking in her youngest daughter. No longer the preschooler she left behind, the young woman before her makes her pause. One thing that Michelle would never admit to anyone is that her youngest daughter was always easiest. The favorite. She loves Wynonna and loves Willa. Loved Willa. But Waverly was her angel. So kind, soft and caring, even as a young child. Wynonna and Willa were older and she loved them both, but they were both so much like their father. In some ways, it made them amazing. Despite his flaws, Michelle fell for Ward at one time. He could be witty and charming and he was a hard worker. And above all else, he loved his family. That is, until things started to change.

 

Waverly looks at her mother, but still notices Wynonna fidgeting nervously between the two.

 

“Nonna, relax. Let’s just go. We have a long drive back.” Waverly says, turning around and jumping into the driver’s seat.

 

Wynonna looks at their mother and sighs at the hurt she can see in Michelle’s eye. But, what is even more apparent in their depths is the regret. “Come on Momma.” And with that, Wynonna and Michelle walk to the already started SUV and hold on for dear life as Waverly drives them home well above the speed limit.

 


 

“Wynonna tells me you are the most knowledgeable researcher on the Earp curse.” Michelle says, breaking the awkward silence that had descended over the drive thus far. “She says you know more about the curse and the revenants than any other.”

 

Waverly nods, but keeps her hands tightly on the wheel and doesn’t take her eyes off the road.

 

Wynonna taps her fingers on her knee nervously in the passenger seat, not really knowing what to do. “Waves.”

 

Waverly nods in acknowledgment but doesn’t change her position.

 

“You okay?” Wynonna whispers, trying to decide if she should reach across and try and comfort her sister.

 

Before she can decide or Waverly can respond, the homestead comes into view and Wynonna sighs in relief. She glances into the rearview mirror and sees their mother lost in memories at the sight of their family home.

 

Pulling up in a cloud of gravel and dirt, Waverly shuts the jeep off and hops out, not waiting for the other two women before going inside.

 

“Well, I guess that could have gone worse. I mean, we are Earps. It’s a blessing one of us didn’t shoot someone.” Wynonna tries to joke.

 

Her mother gives her a sad smile. “She has every right to be angry with me. But you said it was her idea to ask for my help. I guess I just expected her to talk to me, or at the very least yell at me.”

 

“She has been through a lot. I am not really sure what is going through her head right now.” Wynonna says.

 

“Well, I guess we better get to it then.”

 


 

After meeting the team, Michelle is left to get settled in the guest bedroom that used to be the master bedroom she shared with Ward. The room is almost unrecognizable. Instead of the clean, white wallpapered walls that used to be there, the walls are now a soft cream color. The floors are still the original hardwood, but they are painted and are no longer the natural brown.

 

Placing her bag down, she exits the room and looks at the one across the hall. Pushing open the ajar door, Michelle looks at the room that used to be Willa’s. Clearly updated as well over the years, the room no longer looks like the childhood room her eldest daughter spent so much time in. She feels a presence behind her and turns to see Wynonna watching her.

 

“This is Waverly’s room now. We cleared it out this past year… we couldn’t keep it as a shrine for a sister who turned on us. It was just… too painful.” Wynonna explains.

 

“I am sorry… that you and Waverly had to go through losing her twice.” Michelle says, looking at her daughter before looking around the room again. “It is strange for me. To see Waverly all grown up. To no longer imagine the baby I left and see the woman that she grew into.”

 

“She is amazing.” Wynonna comments, smiling at just the thought of Waverly.

 

“You were always such a good big sister to her. Always so protective and gentle with her. I can see that that hasn’t changed since then.” Michelle says with a glimmer of pride and a smile.

 

“I wasn’t. I left. But I am back and that is all I can do to try and fix it.”

 

Michelle nods and takes one more look at the room before leaving and following Wynonna down the stairs. 

 


 

 

“My lord.” Nathanial bows at Bulshar’s feet.

 

“My son. What brings you to me?” Bulshar asks, but he seems like he already knows the answer.

 

“I worry about the health of my daughter my lord. Her physical state alone is not optimal, but I fear the mental toll is bordering on a dangerous level.”

 

“The treatment is set Nathanial. Do not question it or me.” Bulshar warns.

 

“Yes, my lord.” Nathanial says before leaving, his gut feeling getting worse and worse.

 

Chapter Text

Waverly sits on the porch, holding Nicole’s ring in one hand and the letter it was left with in the other. She has read the letter many times since she returned to Purgatory and found the items at the homestead. But even now, after countless reads, Waverly still feels the blow as she reads the words written in all too familiar handwriting. Much of it is repeating things they said before Waverly left. Lots of ‘I love you’ s and promises that the redhead would try her best to make their home safe once again. Again, in the letter, Nicole tells her not to wait for her. Tells her she doesn’t know what will happen and that they can’t hold on to each other. There are small stains on the page; Waverly can easily identify them as tear stains. Some were there before, they were Nicole’s. Then Waverly added some of her own while reading it. This page, these words, these stains… they are a physical representation of all the pain and heartbreak.

 

Waverly turns her attention to the ring, slipping it back on to her finger and closing her hand into a fist. Nicole might have ended things and told her to not hold on… to move on. But Waverly meant what she said to Wynonna all those months ago. She will die if anything happens to Nicole. Whether Nicole wants to admit it or not, they are soulmates. And Waverly… She just can’t let her go without a fight.

 

“I know that look.” Michelle says softly, making her presence known to her youngest daughter. She had been watching Waverly for long moments, her daughter in her own world. But she knew she had to say something.

 

Waverly looks up at her and gives her mother a questioning, but guarded, look. She says nothing though.

 

“That look of determination. It is the same one you used to wear on your little face when you were determined to get Wynonna to play with you. And, truth be told, you got her almost every time.” Michelle says with a fondness. She takes a few steps further into the room and leans up against the wall opposite Waverly. “I am sure you have questions. Or want to yell at me. Or something like that. Just do it Angel. I deserve it. I may have had my reasons. But I still deserve your anger. You haven’t said a single word to me since you picked me up. You don’t have to hold your tongue.”

 

“I won’t yell at you. I don’t need to, nor do I want to. I am too exhausted to yell at you.” Waverly says softly, but it is steely. “I am angry, and hurt and frustrated. But I have been that way since the day you left, so that is nothing new. I haven’t said anything to you because I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, yet I am so angry with you. I am almost overwhelmingly angry at a stranger.”

 

“I want to get to know you Waverly. You are my daughter and despite what you might believe, I do love you. I love all my girls.” Michelle holds back her tears, breathing through the pain that is leaving a sharp pain in her chest. “But I am sorry. I am sorry I left you with Ward.”

 

Waverly sighs and folds the note up and places it against her heart. “Why? Why would you leave us with him? Leave me with him? Wynonna and Willa… But me? I was not even his daughter and he hated me. Why would you leave me with him?”

 

“I thought you would be protected.” Her mother admits. “Ward was the Earp heir and Willa was next if he couldn’t do it. And the homestead… this place was supposed to be safe. I thought you and Wynonna would be safe. I never imagined that all of this would happen. Ward and… Willa. I never thought there was a chance that Wynonna would need to become the heir. I never thought you would be here alone.”

 

Waverly laughs humorlessly. “Yeah. First Dad- Ward got killed right in front of me, they took Willa and we all thought her dead, then Wynonna is institutionalized because everyone thinks she is crazy when she tells them demons attacked our home and she killed our father, then she leaves town all together. So, yeah, I was alone. The only people that were there for me were Uncle Curtis and Aunt Gus. They took me in when the rest of my family abandoned me.”

 

Michelle looks at her daughter sadly, knowing nothing she can say could fix this. “I wish there was a way I could change things. But there isn’t. What’s done is done. But I am truly sorry Waverly.”

 

“I am not sure I believe you yet. But I think that will just come with time. With getting to know each other again.” Waverly says.

 

“May I sit?” Michelle asks, motioning to the other side of the couch. Waverly nods and Michelle sits down, looking at her daughter. “So, tell me about yourself.” She says tentatively.

 

Waverly takes a deep breath and exhales slowly before speaking. “Well, I work with Wynonna and our team, trying to break the curse and kill all the demon entities that Willa let in when she crossed the boundary. Um… I am with a woman. Nicole. We aren’t really together right now but… it’s complicated.” Waverly pauses, swallowing down the lump in her throat. “I was valedictorian in high school, won prom queen and even was head cheerleader my senior year. After I graduated, I started working at Shorty’s. Uncle Curtis helped me pay so I could attend college online. Ended up getting my degree in ancient languages and history. Wynonna came back, I started working with her, Dolls and Doc as a BBD consultant. I met Nicole a few days later and things in my life started to drastically change once again.”

 

Waverly is surprised by how easily she says this. She is literally coming out to her estranged mother and she doesn’t feel any fear. It’s sad, but if her mom rejected her for being gay, she probably wouldn’t care all that much. It’s not like the woman was around. Waverly learned a long time ago that looking for the approval of her parents was a lost cause.

 

“I wish I could say I am surprised you are mixed up in all of this. But, your sister needs you to break this curse. She can’t do it without you. You were always the smart one. Always doing Wynonna’s math homework for her, even though she was six years ahead of you in school.” Michelle chuckles and looks at the ring on Waverly’s finger and the letter she is clutching to her chest. “The woman. Nicole. What is she like?”

 

Watching her daughter carefully, she sees the sad smile form at the corner of her mouth. But it is Waverly’s eyes that tell the real story. Because just at the mention of that name, her eyes light up and soften at the same time. “Nicole is a sheriff’s deputy at PSD. She was Nedley’s new rookie when we met. She’s… she is amazing. She changed everything for me. She makes me feel safe to just be me. She is patient and kind, but also doesn’t put up with people’s crap. Not even Wynonna’s.” Waverly chuckles. “She and Nonna have actually kinda grown close. Nicole was really there for Wynonna through the pregnancy, helped her out of a lot of bad situations. They are total opposites but they surprisingly do well together.”

 

“Do you love her?” Michelle asks carefully, not wanting to push Waverly into sharing more than she is comfortable with.

 

Waverly turns to her mother and nods. “I do. More than I thought possible to love another human being.”

 

Michelle nods and looks at her hands, sensing that Waverly is waiting for her to respond. “I am sorry. I am not sure what to say. I am a little out of my element.”

 

“Because I am gay?”

 

“No, no. Not that. I just haven’t had practice in having these types of talks. I don’t know the right things to say or where the invisible lines are drawn.” She takes a deep breath and looks at Waverly. “I wasn’t here for this stuff all these years. It is just new for me. Your sister has been talking with me for a while now, but Wynonna isn’t quite built for heart-to-heart talks.”

 

They both chuckle and Waverly nods her head in agreement. “True, very true.”

 

“So, Nicole… she is…?”

 

Waverly’s humor drops and she holds the letter a little tighter. “She inserted herself into the cult of Bulshar a few months ago.”

 

“Brave girl.” Michelle comments, her face showing how hard she is thinking about the information.

 

“What?” Waverly asks.

 

“Angel, I think it is time I tell the team what I know. Especially now that I understand how high the stakes are.” Michelle says, looking up at the entryway where Wynonna has silently been standing and observing.

 


 

 

“My child. I am told you were feeling ill the last few weeks. I trust you are feeling better?” Bulshar asks as Nicole enters his chambers and bows before him with Wilks trailing behind her.

 

“Yes, my lord.” Nicole says as she bows.

 

Bulshar looks to Wilks and she gives him a confirmatory nod.

 

“Good child, come forth.” He praises and motions for her to walk foreword and up to him. She does and doesn’t hesitate when he places his hand on her shoulder. “My child. Tell me. What is it that you desire most?”

 

“To serve you my lord.” Nicole says without hesitation. Her voice has lost the warmth it once held, and it is almost monotonous now.

 

“The Earps are threatening our way of life. They are here to destroy us. What do you intend to do about it? How will you serve me?”

 

A beat. And Nicole finally meets his eyes. Hers are no longer the soft brown they once were. Now, they are darkened and hard. “By destroying the Earps.”

Chapter Text

 “We need to train and put our plan into motion.” Nathanial says, walking up the line of his small military. At his side, his daughter. She stays silent but nods her head in agreement. “In two weeks’ time, we will attack the Earp homestead to the east. Until then, we will train and prepare.”

 

Wilks is in the line of twenty men and women, standing proudly. She nods to him and he looks to his daughter. “Are you sure you can handle this?”

 

Nicole looks at him. “Yes. I am a servant to the Almighty Father. It is his will and I shall complete it without hesitance. I will not fail him.”

 

After swallowing hard, he nods to Wilks and leaves, not wanting to see what happens next. He is almost to his quarters when the sound of the first punch landing hits his ears.

 


 

Later that night…

“Hey you hear that?” Wynonna asks from her spot at the kitchen table. The whole team is there, even her mother. It is late and they are all pouring over the research Waverly has on the cult.

 

“What?” Waverly asks.

 

Dolls immediately stands and draws his gun, moving towards the back door while Doc goes towards the front. Both open the door simultaneously and step out with guns raised. From the kitchen, Wynonna can just make out the sound of a car in the distance.

 

She stands to follow Dolls, but the tone of Doc’s shout stops her in her tracks.

 

“Waverly! Girl, get out here!” Doc yells from under the lynch gate where he is crouched.

 

Waverly and Wynonna both pause for just a moment before they are running out the door with their own weapons drawn. As they get closer, they notice Dolls has joined Doc up front. Doc is now on his knees in front of a figure laying on the ground, cradling its head… her head.

 

Waverly gasps as she recognizes the figure and immediately drops her gun to the floor as her body goes down with it. “Oh my god, Nicole.” She feels tears welling in her eyes at the sight of her love.

 

Dolls is checking for a pulse as Nicole is non-responsive to them. “She’s breathing. Just unconscious.” He takes in the battered state of her and winces. “That is probably for the best at the moment.”

 

Jeremy and Michelle come out carrying flashlights so they can see better. “Don’t move her!” Jeremy shouts as Doc moves to do so. “If she is injured, you can do more damage.”

 

“He’s right. Let Jeremy check her before we do anything.” Dolls commands but squeezes Doc shoulder to let him know he gets it.

 

Doc does as he is told and everyone except Waverly backs up a step to give Jeremy room. After thirty seconds of reflex tests and checking her pupils and neck, Jeremy turns to everyone. “I think you are okay to get her inside. Just… be careful. And someone needs to support her neck.” He cautions.

 

Doc carefully moves forward and pulls Nicole into his arms. Waverly and Wynonna both moving and holding Nicole’s head straight so her neck doesn’t hang. Michelle and Jeremy hurry back to the house in front of the others to prepare. They grab the med kit, push the papers off the kitchen table and out of the way so the others can put Nicole down on it.

 

With Nicole laying down on the table in decent light, her injuries are far more noticeable. Her right eye is bruised, the left side of her bottom lip is cut open, and there is a fair amount of swelling around her neck where there are distinct marks from hands. Moving down her body, there are needle marks near her collar bone, ligature marks on her wrists, and lacerations and cuts on her knuckles and hands. Waverly would be sobbing at the sight if she wasn’t solely focused on helping Jeremy and her mother with getting Nicole settled. Wynonna just has a haunted look in her eyes, standing out of the way with Dolls at her side. They share a look filled with dread but both understand what has to happen. Then, she and Dolls are both moving forward with handcuffs in hand. They each take one of Nicole’s hands and move to clasp the cuffs on.

 

“What the hell are you doing?!” Waverly asks, seeing the action.

 

“Babygirl…”

 

“Waverly she could be dangerous. We know only part of what they did to her. She might be a danger to herself or to us. This is just a precaution until we know what is going on.” Dolls interrupts. He doesn’t want Waverly to direct her anger at Wynonna. He can take the blame.

 

“At least let us treat and bandage her wrists before you put those on. If we don’t, them may get infected.” Jeremy bargains, already moving to clean the wounds.

 

“Fine but do it quickly.” Dolls says, not moving away until Nicole’s wrists are cleaned, bandaged and handcuffed to the leg of the table.

 

Wynonna does the same after but doesn’t move away. Instead, she pulls a seat foreword and sits with Nicole’s handcuffed hand in hers.

 

“Jeremy?” Waverly asks as he continues to clean small wounds and check for other injuries.

 

“Nothing major at this point. I don’t see any breaks and the bruises look bad but they seem to be healing nicely. Her neck is a little swollen and I wouldn’t be surprised if her voice is a little course when she tries to talk. Looks like someone squeezed pretty tight. There are also some needle marks on her arms. From what I can tell, it looks like she took a beating, but all things point to her being okay as long as she wakes up in the next…”

 

He doesn’t get to finish because Nicole’s parted mouth moans painfully and the redhead begins to move, fighting against the hands prodding at her.

 

Waverly places a hand on Nicole’s chest, trying to comfort her as well as stop her from moving and hurting herself more. “Nic. Baby. Calm down. It’s okay. You’re with us, your home baby.” She pleads, brushing Nicole’s hair back as the redhead’s eyes begin to flutter open. She looks at Waverly and for a second, Waverly thinks she sees something like anger flash through Nicole’s eyes, but before she can do anything more than notice it, it is gone and those brown eyes are filled with exhaustion.

 

“Nicole? Baby? Are you with me?” Waverly asks softly, still running her fingers through Nicole’s hair.

 

“Waverly?” Nicole says her name like a question, as if she needs confirmation.

 

“Yeah, honey. It’s me. Your safe with us.” But before Waverly can finish, Nicole is passing out again, this time, out of exhaustion.

 


 

 “Well, she was able to talk. That is a good sign. But I still wouldn’t rule out a concussion.” Jeremy says.

 

Dolls comes back in from outside and moves into the living room with them. “Tire tracks from an SUV. Looks like they didn’t even stop moving before they dumped her.” He reports.

 

“Why? Why are they giving her back after so long? Why now?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Does it matter? Nicole is here and safe with us. That is all that matters.” Waverly states.

 

“Wave, we won’t really know anything until she wakes up and we can talk to her.” Wynonna says as delicately as she can.

 

“You mean interrogate her.” Waverly growls.

 

“No.” Dolls answers, placing a hand on her shoulder. “We need to question her. Debrief. That’s it.”

 

Waverly nods but isn’t too enthused by the prospect. Then her mother is entering the room. “She is awake.”

 

Waverly goes in to follow her mother with Wynonna and Dolls on her heals. When they enter the kitchen, Doc is asleep in his chair, a soft and protective hand resting on Nicole’s ankle. Her mother as on the other side, but not touching Nicole.

 

Immediately moving up to the officer’s head, Waverly smiles softly at the woman below her. Nicole is awake, really awake. Her eyes are wide and she seems a little overwhelmed, but she looks better. “Hey.” The brunette whispers, caressing Nicole’s cheek.

 

“Hey.” Nicole croaks out. She clears her throat and tries again, this time clearer. “Hi.”

 

Dolls steps forward and addresses Nicole. “Officer Haught. Nice to see you again and in one piece.”

 

“You too Marshal Dolls.” She says, and something about it makes Dolls feel off. Nicole never called him Marshal. It was always his full title or just ‘Dolls’. For now, he brushes it off. She has been through a lot. “Can’t really say this was the welcome I anticipated.” Nicole continues, lifting her hands as much as the cuffs will allow and jingling the metal to emphasize her point.

 

“We weren’t sure were your mental capacity was at. It is just a precaution.” He states. She nods and he continues. “We have questions and we need to debrief. Are you up to it?”

 

“Do I have a choice?” Nicole asks rhetorically. Waverly opens her mouth to say yes but Nicole continues. “Sure, ask what you need to ask.”

 

Dolls observes her for a long moment. “Why did they let you go and dump you here?”

 

“Not completely sure. They were trying to turn me, make me fight for them. It didn’t work so they just started beating me. I passed out at some point and here I am.”

 

“The brainwashing?” Waverly asks, earning her a stern look from the others. “It didn’t work?”

 

Nicole looks perplexed for a moment but recovers. “No. Their methods did not work.”

 

She watches Waverly release a deep and relieved breath before moving to brush a hand through her hair. The brunette looks to Dolls with a hard look.

 

“We lost contact with you and Wilks several weeks back. What happened?” He asks, ignoring the look Waverly is throwing his way.

 

“I am not really sure… Maybe ask Emily. She would know better than I.” Nicole answers. She hesitates for a moment before looking up at Waverly. “I am just happy to be back.”

 

Waverly smiles at her, but Wynonna has a frown on her face and it keeps getting worse the longer Nicole is awake. Something is wrong, something is off. She understands Nicole has been through a lot, but the woman before her almost doesn’t even resemble the woman she knows, her friend. Nicole, always so sure of herself, is shying away from concise answers. And the way she is acting around Waverly… it just isn’t right. Much to her private happiness, Nicole is always so warm and kind when it comes to Waverly. The redhead's eyes actually soften just by looking at her sister. And although Wynonna might pretend it makes her sick, she secretly loves that her sister has someone who loves her like that. But that love, that softening of the eyes… it isn’t there. Nicole is looking at her sister almost like she is trying to figure her out without anyone noticing. Like the smaller brunette is a stranger. And their interactions seem forced. Deciding that she needs to talk with Dolls, she simply stays silent and observes.

Chapter Text

“They did something to her.” Wynonna says as she steps outside with Dolls and her mother. “I know Waverly can’t see it because she is so happy to have Nicole back but I see it. Something is different about her.”

 

“I didn’t know her before, but I trust your judgement. If you say something is wrong, I believe you.” Michelle says, nodding at her daughter.

 

Wynonna looks to Dolls and finds him deep in thought. “Dolls?”

 

“I agree with you. But I am just trying to find a way to go about this without tipping someone off. If we go to Waverly with our suspicions, she will definitely get angry with us and possibly confront Nicole about it. That could end very badly. If we are right about Nicole and she fears we aren’t buying her story, she may signal the cult. I am thinking the best option is to keep her in play. Play along until we know more.” He says.

 

“That’s my sister Dolls. What if Nicole is dangerous and hurts her? Nicole isn’t the person she was when she left. Waverly isn’t ‘her Waverly’ anymore and I can tell you that if the cult is using her, she is probably capable of something. I will not risk Waverly’s safety.” Wynonna argues.

 

“And what if we confront her and everyone still gets hurt?” He prods. “We need to know what they are planning. If their… her intent is simply to kill us, don’t you think she would have done it by now. Instead, she is inside staring at the ceiling and allowing Jeremy to debrief her.”

 

“Momma, you saw her. The way she seemed to be studying us and trying to figure us out. What do you think?” She asks.

 

“Honestly, I can think of two possibilities. One, she is telling the truth and the cult’s methods didn’t work. But even if that is the case, there is probably a great deal of confusion and that could be what you are seeing. Other option, it worked and she is on their side. But, brainwashing is not a real science. It is unlikely they could erase her real memories. So now, looking at all of you in a familiar place… her real memories and the ones they planted in her head are probably conflicting.” Michelle looks at her daughter sympathetically. “Either way, I agree we need to keep a close eye on her. But I did find one thing interesting.”

 

“What?” Wynonna asks.

 

“Nicole said they didn’t use drugs on her and she never actually admitted to any brainwashing. She kept talking about her treatment there as the cult’s ‘methods’. And there was genuine confusion in her features when Jeremy asked her about any drug use. I saw it multiple times. Honestly, I don’t think she even realizes that she was brainwashed in the first place or that they tried.”

 

“She has needle marks on her arms and neck. How would she not know?” Wynonna asks in disbelief.

 

“Earp. They may have convinced her that she is a loyal child and follower of Bulshar. Do you really think it was even hard for them to hide the fact that they did it with drugs?” Dolls asks, a sad look on his face.

 

“Although it may not seem so, this may be something we can use to our advantage.” Michelle says.

 

“How?”

 

“Prove to her what is real. Who her real family is and who she really is.” She explains, looking towards the house. “Prove that she belongs here with your sister and not with the people who murdered her family.”

  


 

 

Nicole sits on the couch watching a TV program that she isn’t actually watching. Instead, she is watching Waverly out of the corner of her eye as the brunette leans into her side and settles in to watch the TV. She stiffens on contact but remembers this is her girlfriend, her ex-girlfriend, her lover and does her best to relax and allow the smaller woman to get comfortable.

 

She glances at the clock on the wall and sees it is almost nine. She looks back to the TV and uses the time to stare at the screen and go over the plan in her head over and over again, as if she could forget it.

 

“I am so glad you are home again.” Waverly whispers. “I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

 

Nicole doesn’t look away from the screen. “I think it is destiny.”

 


 

 

Sleeping with Waverly is something that feels so familiar and yet, so foreign to her at the same time. She knows she has been doing it for months, but it is different now. Everything is different now. Nicole isn’t actually asleep, even though she was the one that suggested going to sleep after two episodes of some show she didn’t pay any attention to.

 

When Waverly lead her up to her bedroom, Nicole was surprised by the room. She knew she had seen it before, but the memories felt… tainted. It is for this reason that she is still awake at two am, hours after Waverly went to sleep. That, and… she has a meeting to have.

 

Taking a few more moments to make sure Waverly is really asleep, Nicole slips out of bed and over to the window. Checking over her shoulder once more to look at Waverly, she slips out the window and slides down to the ground. As her feet hit the ground, she feels a presence behind her. She turns in her spot and is immediately pushed up roughly against the side of the house. Then, her eyes meet those of Wilks and a wicked smirk appears on the other woman’s face. 

 

“Hey.” Wilks says through her smirk. She moves her hands from Nicole’s shoulders to the wall behind the redhead, boxing her in. “I missed your sexy ass.” She leans forward but stops just short of kissing the redhead. “How is it going?”

 

Nicole lets out a deep breath but doesn’t move otherwise. “So far, so good. Besides the soreness. Did you really have to let Langston hit me that hard? I think my rib is actually cracked. And my face hurts like a bitch, although that one came from your hand so I shouldn’t be surprised.”

 

“It had to be convincing.” Wilks says, no sympathy in her voice. She moves forward then, crashing her lips into Nicole’s roughly. The redhead allows it, but basically just stays where she is and lets Emily take what she wants. Pulling away, the dark eyed woman looks at her. “This is the will of the Almighty Father Cole. Remember that. This is all part of the plan.”

 

“I know.” Nicole admits, but rubs at her cheek and looks lost in thought… a memory. One that makes the tips of her fingers feel like they are on fire. A memory that involves a sore cheek, one inflicted by Waverly when she was under the influence of Miction. But the part of the memory she remembers most is how softly Waverly caressed her sore face after the incident. How tender and caring the touch felt and the kisses that followed. Wilks is staring at her and she shakes her head to rid herself of the memories. Stop Nicole! Stop! It isn’t real! Her feelings for you were never real! You are a Bulshar now! You always were! You are a part of the family once again! You are where you belong!“So, the plan…”

 

“Thirteen days. It is then that we will come. Your job is simple. Get back in with the Earps and make them trust you. Then, when the time comes… take them out.”

 


 

Waverly wakes the next morning to find the other side of the bed empty. She reaches a hand across the space but finds it only slightly warm. Nicole has been up for a while.

 

Standing up, the brunette makes her way to the bathroom to complete her morning ritual. By the time she is done, she can hear movement downstairs and goes down to find Nicole playing a game of cards with Doc, while her mother makes breakfast and Wynonna looks around annoyed at everyone for waking her up before noon.

 

“Good morning.” She greets them all.

 

“Morning.” Everyone returns. Waverly looks to Nicole but finds the redhead completely engrossed in the game she is playing. Something about it feels wrong. Nicole always gives her a kiss in the morning, always. And she at the very least would give Waverly her undivided attention for a few moments. But now. The redhead isn’t even looking at her.

 

Feeling a lump settling in her throat, Waverly walks away and into the kitchen to make some tea. When she enters, her mother smiles softly at her and hands her a cup.

 

“What?” Waverly asks with a small smile.

 

“Nothing. It, just feels… strange, being beck here. Cooking in the kitchen. Cooking for you and Wynonna. I remember Gus and I used to work in here all day on Sundays, making food for dinner for all of us.” Michelle says. “I guess nostalgia is understandable. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel weird or… I guess in a strange way, familiar.”

 

Waverly nods and moves to help, falling in seamlessly with her mother.

 


 

“Hey.” Waverly greets as she joins Nicole in Shorty’s.

 

Nicole turns her head and smiles, but it is muted and strained. “Hello.”

 

“You drinking?” Waverly asks, eyeing the glass in front of Nicole and the bottle of whiskey nearby.

 

“Yeah. You know, it helps me think.” Nicole says with a shrug.

 

Waverly nods slowly. “Well, as long as you don’t drink anymore peppermint shots, I think you are all good.” She jokes, remembering how sick and hungover Nicole was after her trip to Pussy Willows with Wynonna.

 

At the phrase ‘peppermint shots’, Nicole’s head immediately feels like her brain has a cramp. The pain is almost unbearable for a moment. She stands, doubling over and holding her head in her hands for a few moments as memories flash before her eyes. They are so bright, they are painful. Her and Wynonna. They are drinking in a bar. Her phone being thrown in a pitcher. A demon. Her firing her gun. Waverly showing up. All of it comes in flashes. After a few moments, the pain passes and is gone.

 

She slowly removes her hands from her head and looks up to see Waverly looking down at her in panic and concern. She can now feel the hand Waverly had placed on her waist, apparently afraid the redhead was going to pass out or fall over.

 

“Nic? Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Waverly asks, moving her hand to Nicole’s arm as the redhead straightens up.

 

“Yea-yeah. I am. Sorry.” Nicole shakes her head as if trying to clear it. “Just uh… headache. Maybe I should go back to the house and sleep it off.” Nicole says it slowly, as if unsure herself.

 

“Okay Honey, I can take you.” Waverly says, moving to help Nicole.

 

“No, Waverly. It is fine. I can do it myself. I will be alright.” Nicole protests weakly as she tries to get her bearings.

 

“Nicole. Please. Let me help.” Waverly asks, using a finger to raise Nicole’s face by the chin and connect their eyes. “Please.”

 

After a long moment, part of which Nicole’s features change and look like the taller woman is studying her, she relents and nods. “Yeah. Okay Waverly.”

Chapter Text

“Nicole?” Waverly asks as she sits down next to the redhead on the couch.

 

“Yeah, Waverly?”

 

“Are you okay? Like, really okay?” Waverly looks at her with worried eyes. Those eyes are begging for Nicole to tell her the truth.

 

“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?” Nicole asks, suspicious and nervous that the Earp woman is on to her.

 

“Because you seem okay. But I also realize that someone can seem okay, even when they are not. I just want to make sure. That is what you do for the people you love. So, this is me asking and hoping you will be honest with me. Are you okay? Because, it is okay if you are not. Whatever happens, we can get through it together. I promise I will be by your side through it all.” Waverly says, taking Nicole’s hand in hers and holding it with so much tenderness.

 

Nicole swallows hard, looking down at her hand in Waverly’s soft grasp. Memories, ones she doesn’t understand, flash before her eyes. Stolen kisses, brushes of fingers, shared glances and knowing smiles. The beginnings of their relationship. Because, even after their first kiss in Nedley’s office, that was the majority of their closeness. A secret love affair. It had never felt that dramatic at the time but looking back… it was much like a story. And then the memories jump to a moment in the barn. Although they had many in the old wooden structure, this one was different. It was different because it was probably the most raw and open time in their relationship. Willa had just chewed Nicole out and she had moved to leave. Waverly had come out as she was opening her cruiser’s door and placed a soft hand on hers. Her eyes were pleading. Pleading for Nicole to come with her without question. Nicole had nodded wordlessly and followed the smaller brunette into the barn. As Waverly sat down on Doc’s makeshift bed, she continued farther into the barn and leaned up against the wall, watching her girlfriend.

 

“I’m exhausted.” Waverly had breathed out.

 

“Hey.” Nicole had said, moving over to sit with Waverly. At the time, she hadn’t known what to do. What to do to stop the things that weighed heavily on Waverly’s shoulders. She had kissed Waverly’s neck, wanting to offer comfort. Waverly had moved away slightly, but almost as if in reflex. She ran her hand through long brunette hair and kissed her neck again, this time feeling Waverly lean into it. Then, their lips were connecting in a kiss that made Nicole feel whole and simultaneously only a piece. But the cliché part was that Waverly was the other piece. That them being together, comforting one another. It made them whole. In that moment, Nicole realized that they would be okay as long as they were together. No matter what.

 

Nicole grabs her head, hearing the high-pitched noise reverberating in her head and the pounding in her skull. Vaguely, she feels Waverly’s hand leave hers and come up to cover her own hand on her head.

 

“Ahhhh.” Nicole whines, her whole body bowing down a few inches in pain. She keeps pressing her hands to her ears, wishing it would make it stop.

 

And, much like the one earlier in the day, it is gone in a flash and Nicole is left with only a memory of it.

 

“Oh my god. Nicole? I am going to call a doctor.” Waverly says, moving to stand.

 

Nicole’s tight grip grabs her and holds her in place. “No!” She softens her voice, not intending to shout. “No. I am okay. Sorry. I think the headache is just having some residual effects. That’s all.”

 

Waverly is looking at her worriedly, looking like she still wants to reach for her phone.

 

“Seriously Waverly, I am fine.” Nicole reassures, seeing the look and the body language.

 

Waverly sighs and pulls Nicole into her arms, holding onto her tight in the hug. She pushes her face into Nicole’s neck before kissing near her pulse point. “Please. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I lost you. Please don’t shut me out or try and battle everything on your own. Please don’t shut me out. I am here for you Baby. I love you.”

 

Nicole wraps her arms around the other woman, hearing and feeling the confession and Waverly’s pleas for her. But her mind is waging war with in her. Memories conflicting, feelings telling her something but the Almighty Father’s words telling her the opposite. How could this woman, this caring and loving woman hugging her… how could this person be the same person that tried to kill her? They told her Waverly and Wynonna turned on her, that they attacked her without reason. But how is that possible?

 

“Because they are liars!” Bulshar had yelled. “They fooled you, they betrayed you, she… Waverly Earp broke your heart! She never loved you! All she did was manipulate you into thinking she did!”

 

Nicole can feel herself shaking, she can, but knows Waverly won’t understand the real reason why.

 

So instead of doing anything, she stays there in Waverly’s embrace. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. She doesn’t know. All she knows is that by the end of it, she still feels the war within her going at full speed.

 


 

Waverly wakes up when the breeze from her open bedroom window hits her. Her eyes shoot open and she shivers, her hand searching for the Warmth of Nicole’s body but finding none. Sitting up, she turns to see the window is indeed open, it is still dark outside, and Nicole is nowhere to be found.

 

She moves up and looks out the window, noticing the first lights of the sun rise on the horizon. That little amount of light allows her to make out a lean but tall form sitting on the fence near the homestead boundary. It’s Nicole, and Waverly is tempted to go out and see if she is okay. Her love is sitting stock still, facing away from the house as if she is a statue on guard. As the sun begins to rise and the light begins to hit the land in bright beams, Nicole finally moves and hops down to the ground. She begins her trek back to the house and Waverly quickly moves away from the window so Nicole doesn’t see her when the redhead looks up at the window a second later. Crawling back into bed, Waverly pretends to be asleep as she hears soft impact on the house. Clearly, Nicole is climbing up. Then, soft feet hit the bedroom floor almost without a sound and the window is quietly shut. A morning chilled body crawls back into bed, careful not to wake Waverly.

 

Waverly shifts and gives a soft and sleepy moan. Then, she moves over and drapes a leg and an arm over Nicole’s body. Before they broke up, Nicole would pull her closer, sigh happily or kiss her softly at this action. Instead, Nicole just stays still and drifts back to sleep, leaving Waverly awake and alone with her thoughts and worries.

 


 

Wynonna is just about finished with the paperwork Dolls is having her do when Waverly walks into the BBD office.

 

“No Haught?” Wynonna asks, noticing the absence of the redhead.

 

Waverly shakes her head no but doesn’t stop walking until she gets to Jeremy. Leaning down, Waverly whispers something in his ear that has him stopping his experiment and looking at her expectantly. She motions for them to move to a place with more privacy and he leads her to Dolls’ office, shutting the door behind them.

 

Wynonna watches curiously through the office window, but Waverly’s back is to her and half of Jeremy’s profile is blocked by the door.

 


 

“Jeremy, I need you to do a blood test for me.” Waverly says.

 

“Okay? What test do you need done and which arm do you want me to take it from?” He asks, grabbing some rubber gloves from is lab coat.

 

“No, not for me. I need you to run a different test on the blood you took from Nicole the day we found her. Do you still have the samples?”

 

“Um, yeah. But why? I mean, I did the standard panel that day. Drug screen came back clean too, except for the drugs we already expected to be there.” Jeremy says.

 

“I need you to test for belladonna.” Waverly states. “I assume your drug screen doesn’t test for it, right?”

 

“True, but that is because no one uses it to…. Oh.” He looks at her wide eyed, realization hitting him. “You think…?”

 

“Yes. Please, Jeremy. Run the test.”

 

Jeremy moves to the desk and picks up a BBD laptop. “I still have the samples in the mass spectrometer. Let me just cue up the… okay.” He moves the screen so Waverly can see. “Yup, it’s there. It looks like there is a large quantity there, but her cells don’t show signs of long-term use. If I had to guess, this was a one time, but large dose.”

 

“Dammit.” Waverly mutters, letting her face fall into her hands.

 

“Waverly?” Jeremy asks softly.

 

“Wilks. Emily Wilks. This is her doing.” Waverly says, looking at Jeremy. “Wilks said she took Alexander Potter’s place in the cult after he died. After she killed him, rather. But that didn’t make sense. When my mother came back, she said that Wilks only recently became a lieutenant in the cult and Potter’s position seemed unfilled. I hypothesized that she in fact, Constance Clootie’s, the Stone Witch’s, replacement. It would make more sense. I looked at her bloodline. She has witches in her bloodline for generations. Her mother was one. It wouldn’t be a stretch to believe she inherited some powers.”

 

“So, you think Wilks is a witch. Okay. But what does that have to do with the belladonna?” He asks.

 

“Although it was known to cause people to be nauseous, hallucinate, and sometimes die, it also became a symbol. During the time when medieval peasants were using it to change their pupil size, it also became a commonly known calling card for the work of mentis witches. These witches were endowed with the power to toy with the minds of others. The reasoning faculty of an individual,mentis, is known to encompass logic, reason, mind. And guess what type of witch Wilks’ mother was?”

 

“A mentis witch.” Jeremy says, finally understanding. His brow furrows and he opens his mouth in question. “But wait. If she really is a mentis witch, then why use all the drugs on Nicole. Couldn’t she just use magic?”

 

“My guess, she isn’t a pure breed witch. Our research shows that as generations develop, powers, magic and gifts often dwindle until they are nonexistent. I am guessing Wilks only has so much magic and relies on the drugs to compensate. Based on her bloodline and my mother’s records, Wilks’ mother was already low in the magic department. Wilks probably has even less.” Waverly explains.

 

After a long moment of silence, Jeremy meets her eyes. “What made you suspect?”

 

Waverly sighs. “I know my girlfriend Jeremy. Despite what you all and my sister might believe, I am not completely blinded by my excitement to have her back. I love her more than life itself. But I love Nicole Haught and the woman I left sleeping in my room this morning is not the woman I love. Or rather, it is not the version of her I love. I see her struggling and I can tell it is now even physically painful for her. But she is fighting. I think her real memories are conflicting with the fake and it is too much for her. She is getting sudden pain and headaches that she doesn’t want anyone to notice. And she is almost treating me like a feral animal. Like she is afraid I am going to turn around and attack her at any minute. But the real Nicole is in there. I can see it in her eyes. I can see it in the pain. She wants to believe in her real memories. She wants to trust us.”

 

“The human brain is much like a computer. It can overheat when given too much data or in this case, too much stimuli.” Jeremy agrees, clearly thinking about it. “The headaches and the flashes… it wouldn’t be surprising. Especially if the memories are conflicting with the implanted information from the cult.”

 

“Glad we are on the same page. So, how do we get her back?”

 

“Shouldn’t we involve the team?” He asks.

 

“Jeremy… I love them all. But they would kill Nicole if they thought she would hurt me. If it came down to a choice between me or her, I know them. Wynonna, my mother and Doc wouldn’t hesitate to pick me. I can’t risk them hurting her.”

 

“But what about Dolls?”

 

Waverly sighs. “I think we are going to need his help to pull this off so we will tell him. But Jeremy, you gotta promise me. No matter what, we gotta do everything we can to save her.”

 

He looks at her for a long moment before nodding. “I promise Waverly. I got your back and hers too.” He looks at the laptop and then back to her. “Let’s get started.”

Chapter Text

Waverly, Dolls and Jeremy sit together in Jeremy’s lab area, reading through BBD archives and some books from Waverly’s research. They have been at it for over five hours but are disappointed with their progress.

 

“How is it that there is so little on the cult? Even what BBD has is so little.” Jeremy complains.

 

“That is because the BBD was afraid of Bulshar. They could never get close enough to gather any intel.” Dolls supplies.

 

“We aren’t going to get anything more from these files.” Waverly growls in frustration, tossing the file she was reading down on the table. “It isn’t enough. We need a new angle.”

 

“What about Nicole’s personal files?” Jeremy asks, but then he sees the glare on Dolls face. “Ohhhh… the ones I am not supposed to know about… Yeah. Nice one Jeremy. Shut up brain.”

 

Waverly seems to debate it in her head for a long moment before standing. “Dolls, if you aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to a little B&E, stay here.”

 

He stands and begins to grab his things. “Let’s go.”

 

“Wait. You don’t have a key to her place?” Jeremy asks.

 

“I do. But I won’t waste time going to go get the key from the homestead.” She replies, dragging them both from the BBD and out to Dolls’ SUV.

 


 

“Why are you shutting your sister out?” Dolls directs the question to Waverly as they drive. “Your mother and Doc too.”

 

“Why did all of you shut me out on your theories when Nicole first arrived?” Waverly fires back, annoyance in her tone.

 

“Waverly…”

 

“Don’t Dolls. Just, don’t.” Waverly snaps, the hurt recognizable in her tone. “I love you all, but I am not sure how much I can trust any of you. You all continue to lie and hide things from me. So, until that stops, consider all of yourselves on a need to know basis.”

 

The rest of the car ride is silent, something Waverly is grateful for. It gives her time to be in her own head. As of late, it is the only place she seems to find solace. In this particular moment, it is a memory. One shortly after they had to let Alice go and Wynonna disappeared. One that she will cherish forever.

 


 

“Hey beautiful.” Nicole says as she walks into the homestead.

 

Waverly beams at her, moving forward on the couch so Nicole can slip in behind her. “Hi.”

 

Nicole settles in so she is sandwiched in between the couch and Waverly, her front to Waverly’s back, and wraps her arms around Waverly from behind.

 

“You alright?” Nicole asks, kissing the back of Waverly’s neck softly.

 

“Yeah. It’s just… this feels like the first time I have been able to just sit down and breathe in so long. It feels nice, but it wasn’t perfect until you showed up.” Waverly snuggles back into Nicole impossibly more.

 

“I felt exactly the same way. That’s why I came over. I needed you in my arms.” Nicole says softly, continuing to kiss Waverly’s neck and run her hands soothingly along Waverly’s frame.

 

“Do you think Alice will be okay?” Waverly asks softly after a moment of silence.

 

“Yes. Yes, I do. Gus won’t let anything happen to that little girl. That, I can promise you.” Nicole says with confidence.

 

“But she is growing up without her mom and her family.”

 

Nicole turns Waverly so the brunette is at least partially facing her. “So, did you. And look how amazing you are. Look, I am not going to say it will be easy or that this situation is ideal. But you and the team are going to get all of the Revenants and take down anything or anyone else trying to stop you from bringing Alice home. I know that. Someday, it will be safe for you to bring her home. She isn’t alone Waverly. You were, but Alice isn’t. She has a whole group of people that will do anything to keep her safe and bring her home so she can rejoin her family. And she is and will always be so damn loved. Just like you.”

 

Waverly leans over and kisses Nicole with tears in her eyes. Nicole immediately wraps her arms tightly around Waverly, knowing the smaller woman needs this moment to be vulnerable.

 

They break apart from the kiss and Waverly’s tears come harder. She immediately fists her hands in Nicole’s shirt, but otherwise goes limp in the redhead’s arms. Nicole pivots their position so she is laying down on the couch, bringing Waverly to lay on top of her as she does her best to just provide as much security and comfort as she can for her love. As Waverly cries in her arms, body shaking, Nicole mumbles incoherent words of love and acknowledgment into Waverly’s hair. It seems to help because Waverly continues to openly cry and express her feelings, the ones that she has been hiding from everyone else.

 

Waverly isn’t sure how long she cried before she fell asleep, but when she wakes, she is in her bedroom and sleeping with Nicole on the other side of her bed. The world outside her window is dark, so she guesses it is late at night or early morning. So, why is she awake? A soft sniffling sound from the other side of the bed is her answer.

 

Immediately rolling over, Waverly props herself up on one elbow and peers down at her girlfriend. Nicole is clearly asleep, but her eyes are wet with tears and she is sniffling. A soft whimper escapes her lips and Nicole curls in on herself.

 

Without hesitation, Waverly wraps an arm around her lover and pulls Nicole into her. The redhead wakes, but doesn’t say anything. She just allows Waverly to hold and comfort her in the moonlit room. She turns over so she is facing Waverly and buries her face in Waverly’s chest, trying to stop the tears that seemed to have carried over from dream to consciousness. Waverly just holds Nicole and peppers her with kisses anywhere she can reach. Eventually, both are asleep again, but they never let go of each other this time.

 


 

Waverly shakes herself out of the memories as they park in front of Nicole’s house. No other cars are visible, so they proceed to the front door and Waverly picks the lock as quickly as she can. Once the door is open, Waverly’s eyes go wide as she stares down the barrel of a pistol pointed at her face. It is so surprising, Dolls doesn’t even draw his gun.

 

Waverly looks up from the gun to the face of the person holding it and sighs in relief. “Sheriff.”

 

“Waverly.” He says, lowering his service weapon but not taking his eyes off of her and the boys. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I think I could ask you the same thing. I’m Nicole’s girlfriend.” Waverly says, taking a step inside when Nedley motions them to come in.

 

“Ah, yes. That is why you had to pick the lock to get in.” Nedley says sarcastically.

 

Waverly is red faced in embarrassment but tries to move it along. “Why are you here?”

 

“This is my deputy’s home. I have a key. Plus, I have been taking care of Calamity Jane.” He says, bending down and picking up the fluffy ginger feline as she trots over to them.

 

“CJ!” Waverly coos excitedly, smiling when Nicole’s cat hops into her arms and purrs happily as she snuggles up to Waverly.

 

“What are y’all doing here?” Nedley repeats after a moment.

 

“We are here to break into Nicole’s files.” Jeremy supplies, but shuts up after because he receives glares from them all; including the cat.

 

“We are here to try and help Nicole Sheriff. But we need her personal resources. Our official files and my research are not enough.” Waverly says honestly, looking at him with pleading eyes.

 

He huffs and motions for them to take a seat on the couch. “Her files are likely in a safe spot. Waverly, I assume you know where her safe is?”

 

“Yeah. It’s in our… her bedroom.”

 

They all walk upstairs and enter Nicole’s bedroom. It is as neat and tidy as the rest of the house, bed maid and floor clean. Waverly pauses as she looks at the bed, memories trying to gain her attention.

 

Dolls’ light hand on her shoulder brings her back and she smiles gratefully at him before moving over to Nicole’s side of the bed. Below the bed frame is a concealed drawer that houses the redhead’s safe. Waverly pulls the drawer out and reveals the safe it hides.

 

“Ohh that’s a doozy.” Jeremy says, rubbing his hands together. “Constructed of 14-gauge steel, electronic lock, 3/8 inch diameter security cable, pry resistant door and tamper deterrent protocols. I can crack it, but it will probably take me a few hours and a cheeseburger.”

 

“Or.” Waverly says, looking at his with narrowed eyes as she draws out her next words. “I could just type in the combination.”

 

“Or you could do that.” He says, a little blush rising up his features.

 

“You know the code?” Dolls asks.

 

“I stayed here some nights and Nicole locks her service weapon and her back up in here. She wanted me to be able to access it in case there was an emergency and I was in the house alone.” Waverly says in explanation as she types in the combination on the keypad. The red light flicks to green and the safe unlocks almost silently.

 

Sliding the drawer open, Waverly takes it in. It looks as it always does. Nicole’s PSD service weapon, a Beretta 92 is near the front, along with some extra clips. Behind it is Nicole’s backup weapon, the Glock 27. Laying the farthest back in the drawer is a Remington shotgun. Along with a few more clips, some boxes of ammunition, Waverly notices a small gun case. She wants to look in it, not recognizing it from before, but does her best to focus on the task at hand. “No files.”

 

“She has to have another safe.” Dolls says, moving to search the room.

 

“Why would you think that?” Jeremy asks.

 

“Simple. What do people often hold in safes? Birth certificates, medical information, important documents, pictures, momentums, etc. None of those things are in here. Thus, Haught probably has another safe and I am fairly certain it is in this room. She retrieved the files from here the few times I came over to look at them.” He explains.

 

Dolls walks over to the closet, Jeremy inspects the dresser, Nedley supervises and makes sure none of them overstep too much into Nicole’s space. Waverly just stands there in thought, trying to think of something. As she peers at the room, something that she remembers wondering about pops back in her head. It had been the morning after their first night together at Nicole’s house. Waverly had woken up before Nicole and had been looking around the room while the redhead slept soundly in her arms. At the time, she studied the pictures on the walls, the furniture, the paint colors. Something she had noticed at the time was that there are two air vents in the room.

 

“Why would a room this small need two air vents? And on the same wall no less?” Waverly mumbles to herself and she walks over to Nicole’s closet and pulls a step ladder out. She unfolds it and places it below one of the vents. “Dolls. Got a knife or a screwdriver?” She asks.

 

He hands her his pocket knife and she unfolds it. Using the military grade steel utensil, Waverly pops the cover and sees the vent is exactly that, a vent. She sighs and clips the cover back on before climbing down. She moves the step ladder below the other vent and hopes she isn’t wrong. Doing the same as she did with the first, she pops the lid and sighs in relief when the vent turns out to not be a vent at all.

 

“Found it!” She declares.

 

“In a vent?” Jeremy asks.

 

“It’s a false vent. My baby is a smart one.” Waverly says with a proud smile. She pulls the fake vent door open and shows the safe it was hiding.

 

“Shit. That’s a TL-15 burglary rated safe. My guess is it is fire proof, probably two hour class 350°F fire rating. That is a massive six inch door and a three and a half inch body. There has to be at least six solid steel locking bolts and that lock… that is a doomsday lock.” Jeremy says as he comes up behind her and studies the safe. “It’s a beast.”

 

“A doomsday lock?” Waverly asks.

 

“It is a lock that utilizes a mechanical lock and an electronic keypad. It is designed to allow the owner to open it in the case that the power to the safe is cut. For instance, it someone set off an EMP. The owner could still open it with the mechanical lock. But the loss of power doesn’t help the robber trying to get in it. It is a simple yet extremely effective system.” Jeremy explains, shaking his head. “This is going to be a tough customer.”

 

“How long Jeremy?” Dolls asks bluntly.

 

“At least a day, maybe more. Just trying to get past the exterior security measures will take ten hours minimum.” Jeremy answers.

 

“Well, there are tools in the back of the truck. Get started.” Dolls orders.

 

Chapter Text

“Hey. Have you seen Waverly today? She was gone before I woke up and hasn’t been home all day.” Nicole asks Wynonna as the elder Earp enters the homestead.

 

“Nope. She is probably just busy doing research with Jeremy or something.” Wynonna says nonchalantly, but she is actually watching Nicole very carefully.

 

“Oh, okay.” Nicole says softly, looking at her hands like she doesn’t know where to put them. After a moment, Nicole nods more to herself, than to Wynonna and leaves to go back upstairs.

 

Closing the door behind her, Nicole sits down on the bed and tries to figure out what is happening to her. If she didn’t know any better, she would believe herself to be feeling… lonely… without the youngest Earp around. It is strange, really strange. She knows these people are supposed to be the enemy and sometimes feels like they are. But Waverly Earp… She’s different. Nicole remembers all the memories and good times they shared, all the things that happened before returning to Bulshar and the family. But the Almighty Father told her those memories are a lie, that Waverly Earp’s feelings for her were all lies. He said the Earps had tried to kill her; Waverly had tried to kill her. So why is this so hard?

 

Nicole presses a hand to her forehead, trying to stop the pain that comes with thinking about the happy memories from before. Emily had told her that the pain was to make sure she didn’t think about the fake memories, to make life easier. She said the spell was just to make sure the Earps didn’t try and confuse her. But now… she is more confused than ever and the pain shooting through her brain when she thinks of Waverly Earp is not helping.

 

Deciding to look around a little, Nicole moves over to the nightstand on the side of the bed. Waverly’s side of the bed and Waverly’s nightstand. She looks at the three drawers and opens the bottom one first. She finds a few books and a couple sticky notes with notations she doesn’t understand. She closes it and moves up to the next drawer. There is a bottle of lotion, some tissues, a flashlight and a few miscellaneous hair ties. Nicole them moves from that to the top drawer and finds this is the fullest of the three. Inside, there is a leather bound notebook, a pen, a pair of ear buds, a few loose photos, another book and an envelope.

 

Nicole pulls the photos, the notebook, the book and the envelope out; laying all three on the bed. She looks at the leather bound notebook first, untying the little tie on the side and opening it. It looks to be a pad where Waverly wrote down ideas that popped into her head. Some of the ideas, like the one where Waverly debates the pros and cons of officially requesting a flamethrower, even make Nicole laugh out loud. She moves on to the book and opens it to where Waverly has a bookmark placed. The bookmark itself, draws Nicole’s attention. It looks like a photo strip one would get from a photo booth. The photos are of the two of them and Nicole draws in a deep breath. The first photo is of the two of them smiling at the camera. The next, Waverly is in the same position but Nicole has her head turned to Waverly and is smiling like a love sick fool. In the next, Nicole has her lips pressed to Waverly’s cheek and Waverly’s smile is impossibly wider and her eyes are shut. The final photo has neither of them looking at the camera. Instead, both of their eyes are closed and their lips are locked together. But even from the side, Nicole can see that they are both smiling into the kiss. Nicole remembers snippets of that day, but the pain in her head every time she tries to remember makes her unable to remember much. She remembers that they had gone into the city for the night to go see a show. They had ended up at a carnival and Waverly had ridden a ferris wheel for the first time. Her memories blur for a while and she only vaguely remembers getting into a photo booth.

 

Nicole quickly places the bookmark back in the book and shuts it, trying to stop the pounding in her temples. She finally picks up the photos she had pulled out. There are four of them. Two are much older and Nicole knows she has seen these photos many times. One is of the three Earp sisters, all much younger, running through a field. The other is of Wynonna cradling a baby Waverly in her arms. Nicole puts those two to the side and looks that the far newer photos. One is of the BBD team, all of them together and sitting in Shorty’s. The other is a photo of the man himself, a toddler age Waverly propped up on his knee. Nicole looks back at the photo of them all. They look… happy. Nicole herself is sitting on the pool table and Waverly is standing in front of her. One of her arms are wrapped around the brunette and Waverly is holding one to her front. The position, the posture, the whole thing. It just seems so natural. How could this be fake?The sharpest pain she has felt so far hits her brain and it takes everything in her not to scream. She quickly puts everything back into the drawer, not able to take the pain anymore.

 


 

“Jeremy?” Dolls asks. “Progress report.”

 

“I have gotten through the primary locking mechanism, so… thirty minutes tops.” Jeremy replies, allowing Nedley to help his with the safe cracking.

 

They have been at this for almost eighteen hours now and Waverly really should call home and check in. But they are so close to getting to what they need.

 

Knowing it will still be a few minutes until Jeremy gets the safe open, Waverly pulls out her phone and dials Nicole. It only rings once before Nicole answers. “Waverly?” She asks quickly, voice thick.

 

“Hey.” Waverly replies, voice wary. “You okay?” She asks, walking out into the living room.

 

“Uh, yeah. Fine. How are you?” Nicole deflects, clearing her throat. “Where are you? Haven’t seen you all day.”

 

“Working, just doing some research stuff. But I wanted to check in on you.” Waverly says, hating the lie. “Is Wynonna with you?”

 

“No. I’m right here.” Wynonna says from behind Waverly making her jump and actually drop her phone.

 

“Jesus Nonna!” Waverly exclaims, picking up her phone and lowering her voice. “Hey babe, I gotta get back to work. I will see you at home later… bye.”

 

Hanging up, Waverly looks wide eyed at her big sister standing in the doorway of Nicole’s living room. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I think a better question is, what are you doing here?” Wynonna argues. “I went to BBD but you all were gone. I searched everywhere until I got here. What the hell is going on?!”

 

Waverly sighs and Dolls comes out to see what all the noise is about. “Oh.” He says under his breath, reading the anger on Wynonna’s face.

 

“Yeah.” Wynonna growls at him, fire in her eyes. “Oh, is right. Which one of you is going to start telling me what is going on?”

 

Before either can even think to reply, Jeremy comes running out with a wrench in hand. “I got it! It’s open!” He sees Wynonna and pales. “Oh crap.”

 

“Do tell Jeremy. Whatdid you get open?” Wynonna says, eyeing them all dangerously. But instead of waiting for an answer, Wynonna walks past them all and towards the bedroom they had all come out of.

Chapter Text

“I am the god damn Earp heir! You didn’t think it was pertinent to keep me informed?!” Wynonna yells as she paces Nicole’s bedroom.

 

“Nonna…” Waverly starts but Wynonna cuts her off.

 

“No! Don’t ‘Nonna’ me. I am trying to protect you! I can’t do that if you are keeping secrets from me!”

 

“I can take care of myself Wynonna! I am not a child!”

 

“Woah, woah.” Dolls says, standing between the two sisters. “Okay. We all kept secrets. Let’s just move on and start working together.”

 

“Yeah guys. We are a team.” Jeremy chimes in, looking at them pleadingly.

 

Both Earp sisters stare each other down, but both eventually crack and sigh. “Fine.” Wynonna says, moving to hug Waverly. “No more secrets.”

 


 

“Oh my god.” Waverly says, reading through the personal files they retrieved from Nicole’s safe. “Dolls.”

 

“I know.” He agrees, taking a seat next to her in the BBD office.

 

“It must have been horrible for her.” Waverly says, rereading the file detailing what Nicole saw throughout her childhood years within the cult. “No child should have to go through what she did.”

 

“No child should have to go through what you did. Or Wynonna. Or Jeremy. Or even me. It sucks but we just need to move on.” He says, patting her shoulder. “By the way, shouldn’t you be getting home? You have been here all day and Wynonna has been here for hours. Doesn’t that mean that Nicole has been home alone for the majority of the day?”

 

“No. Wynonna called Doc over to hang out with her before she left the homestead.” Waverly sighs. “As much as I hate to admit it, I was wrong. Nonna might be more caring of Nicole than I thought.”

 

He smiles and pats her shoulder. “Go home Waverly. This can wait until tomorrow.”

 

She smiles and locks up the files, although a little reluctantly. With one last wave, she is out the station and on her way home.

 


 

The homestead looks completely dark from the outside, so Waverly assumes everyone is asleep. Because of that, she is surprised when she opens the front door and finds a very awake and very drunk Nicole Haught and an equally intoxicated John Henry Holiday. They are both playing cards and laughing hysterically as they do it from the kitchen table. Nicole is only half on her chair because she is laughing so hard and Waverly is afraid Doc’s mustache might fly off because of how hard and wide he is smiling.

 

“And he said! Why, John Henry, is that a horse chasing your willy white ass down the trail?!” Doc shouts through laughter.

 

Nicole has tears in her eyes as she holds her hand to her stomach as if the laughter is hurting her stomach. “Oh my god! And what did you say?!”

 

Doc points a finger at her face with mock seriousness. “I said to him… Damn right it is! Now get out here and rope this beast!”

 

They both burst into uncontrollable laughter.

 

“Um… hi?” Waverly says, feeling a little weird.

 

Both turn to her and regain some of their composure. Clearing her throat, Nicole stands. “Waverly! Hi!” She lowers her voice. “Sorry. We didn’t hear you come in.”

 

“It’s alright.” Waverly says, smiling a little. She checks her watch. “Uh, it’s late so I am going to go up and get ready for bed.”

 

Doc nods and tips his hat.

 

“I guess I should get to bed too.” Nicole says, stumbling a little as she puts her empty bottle in the trash and walks to follow Waverly. “Goodnight Henry. Thanks for the company today.”

 

“My pleasure Officer Haught.” He replies easily.

 

He sees her face twist just the slightest bit in pain at his words, something he had noticed throughout the day, but says nothing and allows her to leave with the help of Waverly.

 


 

Nicole falls into bed with a sense of finality, snuggling drunkenly into her pillow. Waverly smiles, albeit a bit sadly, and takes a moment to look at the woman lying in their bed. A woman that looks like her Nicole, sounds like her Nicole, and even acts like her Nicole sometimes. But her Nicole’s face used to not constantly be drawn in pain. Her Nicole used to call her nicknames and not strictly stick to Waverly. Her Nicole used to make her feel so loved and protected. And that part of Nicole is still in there somewhere. Waverly sees it sometimes when she glances at the redhead when the taller woman thinks no one is looking. The eyes that drew her in so invitingly the first time they met; they return to that soft brown, if only for a moment. Then, they solidify and harden once again as if waiting for an attack.

 

Sighing and moving away to change, Waverly pulls out the drawer to her dresser. Pulling her shirt over her head, she hears a soft gasp come from the bed. She turns her head, looking to Nicole. Nicole is staring at her and there is something like recognition in her eyes. But there is also pain there and Waverly realizes Nicole must be fighting off the pains of the spell.

 

Quickly changing and moving to the bathroom to go through her nightly ritual, Waverly has to take a minute to lean over the sink and take a few deep breaths. Seeing the pain and the toll the spell is putting on Nicole… it is getting hard to take. Watching someone you love be in pain is horrible enough. But having to water them be in pain when they are simply having a memory and not being able to do anything about it. It’s torture.

 

Deciding she needs some watch, Waverly exits the bathroom and heads downstairs. She checks their bedroom and sees Nicole is asleep and feels a little relief.

 

Doc is still in the kitchen when she arrives, so she takes a seat across from him once she has her drink. “How was she?”

 

Doc smiles sadly. “The lovely girl we all know and adore is still there, just trapped away. Unfortunately, that makes it all the more painful to see. But it was easier to move around the spell after some time and trials.”

 

“How so?” Waverly asks curiously.

 

“I believe the spell is tied to her happy memories of her real life. Thus, when she thinks about a previous time when she was happy, the spell sends her a pain that makes her brain retreat. It is most similar to a shock collar I hear people nowadays use on animals. So, I simply went around the vile spell by not bringing up things that would bring up her old memories. I told her tales I had never conversed with her about before. We did activities that we had not partaken in before today. Sometimes the pain seemed to come if something sidetracked her, but she seemed so much better. I made new memories for her, memories the dreaded witch can’t block because they are from after the spell was cast.”

 

Waverly smiles and places her hand over his on the table. “Thank you.”

 

“My pleasure. Like I said, she is a lovely girl.” He says as he stands and tips his hat goodbye.

 


 

Getting into bed, Waverly thinks about what Doc said downstairs. He went around the spell and did things differently than he would have as to not trigger a memory that would cause Nicole pain.

 

Thinking about it, Waverly turns her head to the sleeping redhead. With a nod to herself, she scoots more towards the middle of the bed and grabs Nicole’s arm. As she pulls her girlfriend so the taller woman is laying over her, Nicole stirs. “Waverly?”

 

“Shhh.” Waverly pauses, choosing her words carefully. “I just… need you here.”

 

Nicole doesn’t tense up and doesn’t show any signs of pain. Instead, she helps Waverly move her over so Nicole is laying completely over the brunette, her head resting over Waverly’s heart. Running her fingers through red locks, Waverly is relieved when Nicole slips back into a peaceful sleep. Do things differently.She thinks to herself. She always ended up being the one to fall asleep on top. Thus, Nicole being on top seemed to not trigger the spell’s retaliation. A genuine smile graces Waverly’s lips and she kisses the crown of Nicole’s head. “We are going to be okay.” She whispers. “I am going to fix this baby. I will make sure you come back to me.”