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Waverly wasn’t nervous, not exactly. This was low-stakes, no strings attached, exactly what she’d wanted.

She checked her phone again, Nicole’s message hadn’t changed.

 

[SENT3:42P.M.] 8pm at the insomnia on lincoln sounds good ;) i’ll see you then!!

 

Nicole typed as sweet as she looked, a bit like an over eloquent five-year-old.

Waverly sighed, pressing the phone down on her chest. It was 8:15. She didn’t expect to get stood up but it wasn’t impossible. Nicole was really pretty and Waverly couldn’t get the stink of straight girl experimentation off her. She’d had a few conversations on tinder but none of them had led anywhere, especially not anywhere in the real world.

Waverly looked out the window again and then down at her cookie, growing cool on the counter. She’d ordered a snickerdoodle, if only for the name. Waverly wasn’t big on cookies anyways but hadn’t protested when Nicole suggested Insomnia. It was kind of a sweet place to meet, and she didn’t want to seem like the type of girl who was always contradicting for no good reason. No need to mention she was thinking about going vegan. They didn’t need to know much of anything about each other.

Waverly ordered herself a coffee as well and enjoyed the bitter contrast. Sweet to sharp.

Another minute ticked by.

Please don’t stand me up, Nicole. She bit her lip. I can’t take that right now.

Between a few disastrous attempts at flirting with a girl in her feminist literature class (note: just because a girl loves Audre Lorde and shaves her head does NOT mean she’s gay) and Champ texting her every other week, Waverly was starting to feel cursed. She really needed this girl to show up.

Then the door opened.  

Like a great beam of sunlight at 8:17 in the evening, Nicole Haught walked into the Insomnia Cookies on Lincoln Avenue with a terrible look on her face. Some of the hot September air flooded into the shop and tinted Waverly’s cheeks pink.

“Hey. Geez, I’m sorry.”

Waverly stood up on instinct. Nicole was actually prettier in person somehow, her chin-length hair pushed back behind a funky bandana. It was patterned like the old rug Gus kept under the boiler at home. Nicole was a little sweaty, like she’d been running. Waverly took note of the CPD tank top and the funny looking workout headphones wrapped around her neck. Nicole hadn’t dressed up, but then neither had she.

Waverly shook her head, trying to hide the existential peril. “It’s fine. Don’t even worry about it.”

“I sure didn’t give myself enough time to get here from class.” Nicole put up a sideways grin and motioned towards the counter. “But I guess you got started without me.”

Waverly froze for a minute before getting the joke. She decided to be a big kid and flirt back. “Well, I had to find something to occupy myself with. You being so horribly rude and all.”

Nicole’s smile got wider.

“Guess I’ll make it up to you.”

Waverly swallowed something inappropriate back down her throat. “Uh, yeah.”

Smooth, Earp.

Nicole only laughed and looked her up and down. Waverly could feel herself turning redder. Things had been so much easier over text, where it was fine to pause for a minute or so and think of a clever response to whatever flirtatious comment Nicole had thrown out. In a few desperate moments, she’d texted Wynonna for a smart and sexy thing to say. And that had worked.

In person though, Waverly had to think on her feet. Easier said than done when a tall, gorgeous redhead was staring at her like that .

Nicole’s eyes wandered to the bra strap falling off her shoulder and the tattoo she’d only recently had the courage to get. It sat just on the inside of her wrist, a latin phrase with a little sun copied from one of her favorite illuminated manuscripts. Waverly wasn’t religious anymore but found most of her courage in words. Sola gratia, or ‘by grace alone’.

Waverly wondered if Nicole had any tattoos.

“You got the snickerdoodle, huh?” Nicole took a step towards her. “Good choice.”

“Yeah.” She answered, smiling a little at the way Nicole said ‘snickerdoodle’. “Do you want something?” She offered, looking towards the menu.

They were not the only ones in the restaurant (if you could call it that). It was actually pretty busy for a Wednesday night. Waverly had assumed cookies were more of a weekend activity. However, there was an influx from the movie theater next door. They must have just let out a showing of that National Theater livestream, big business in an artsy college district.

“Yeah, I’m kind of starving actually.”

Waverly raised her brows. “Is a cookie gonna cut it then?”

Nicole looked down, like she was happy to be teased. “I may have to sneak into the Upper Crust down the way for a slice.” She pushed a loose thread back into the bandana. “If you’re cool with that”

Waverly nodded, moving to wrap her cookie up in a napkin. “Why wouldn’t I be cool?” She picked off another chunk and popped it in her mouth. The cookie had gone cold in her anxiousness. “I’m not a meal-dictator.”

“You said you liked having a plan.” Nicole shrugged. “Who am I to fuck with that?”

Waverly had to admit she found it really cute that Nicole had remembered that tidbit. After all, the girl was a hot, young police trainee, brimming with confidence and that damn alluring smile. She could have a hundred tinder dates this week with a hundred impressionable young sophomores. But Nicole knew she liked having a plan, she remembered that much.

Waverly made a show of rolling her eyes and picked up her coffee. “I guess I’ll make an exception this once.”

Nicole overexaggerated her grimace in return. “Between showing up late and dragging you all around Chicago in the middle of the night; I’m really making an ass of myself, aren’t I?”

“You certainly have a nice ass.” Waverly said, winking back.

None of the patrons looked up, this was the college district after all.

Nicole’s grimace turned into a perfect smirk and Waverly was tempted to run away and delete her tinder.

“I um- I only meant-… You’re really pretty.” She attempted, shrinking back down into her seat.

“So, wait.” Nicole creased her forehead. “You’re saying I don’t have a nice ass?”

Waverly’s eyes were made like dinner plates. “No!” She put her hand out. “You have a great ass, but there are lots of great things about you, personality-wise, I’m sure. We’re only just meeting, but, you do have a nice ass.” Waverly flushed her sweaty palm against her jeans and swallowed. “God, why am I still talking?”

Nicole laughed, offering her own hand to Waverly.

She accepted, meekly rising back to meet the stranger’s eyes.

“You’re adorable.” Nicole said. “Pizza?”

“Yes, please.”

She left her cookie on the counter.

 

 

 

“Do you have your major yet?” Nicole liked mushrooms on her pizza. Waverly had ordered the small gluten-free option which was taking a lot longer to come out. It always took longer to come out.

“Er…” That was an interesting question because while Waverly had about a million things she could major in, limiting that to two or, god forbid, one was a little more challenging. “There’s a lot of things, but mainly German, history, literature, anthropology and possibly a French minor.” She drained the last of her coffee. “Oh, and I’m kind of designing this ancient languages thing that could be considered a major if I get all my credits in order. I don’t know though, it’s still a work in progress.”

Nicole’s mouth had released slightly at some point during her speech.

Waverly scrunched up her face. “God, I must sound like a mess.”

“You sound fascinating.” Nicole pulled a mushroom off of the sinking cheese foundation and popped it in her mouth. Waverly had no idea why she found the action so damn sexy but there she was, staring again. Nicole’s fingers were long and always doing something, picking at a napkin or slicking a spot of hair down. Those long, lovely fingers became the only thing Waverly could keep her eyes on. “It was always the girls like you who made college interesting in the first place. I showed up day one knowing exactly what I wanted to major in,” she looked back at Waverly, “And then I just kept to it, boring as shit.”

“No way. I envy that.” Waverly leaned forward. “I’ve never been good at knowing what I want.”

That same cocky smile started to slide up Nicole’s mouth. She scratched at her neck with her insane pointer finger.

“Yeah, I don’t have that problem.”

Waverly’s heart stuttered. “I bet.” She managed.

Nicole couldn’t help but laugh at her affect. Her laugh wasn’t as pretty as the rest of her, boisterous and high, but Waverly liked it just as much.

“Hey!” She fumed. “Don’t laugh; I’m trying.”

“You really are a country girl, aren’t you?” Nicole wiped a fleck of sauce off her lips. “You said Canada, right?”

Waverly felt a little embarrassed about being such a bumpkin and nodded. “Alberta.”

“Why’d you come stateside?”

“Please.” Waverly shook her head. “I love home, I do, but I’d rather die than stay in Purgatory all my life.”

Nicole raised her eyebrows. “Purgatory?”

“I know, I know.” She grimaced. “It sounds fake.”

Truth be told, Purgatory didn’t always feel real.

Nicole cocked her head. “So… no pretty girls in Purgatory?”

“Huh?” Waverly was startled again and Nicole repeated her laugh.

“I mean, you just seem kind of unaccustomed. Flirting and everything.”

Waverly got pale. “Am I that bad?”

“You’re wonderful.” Nicole’s eyes got serious for a minute. “Really. I’m just being a curious asshole. You’re very cute.”

Waverly exhaled, hard. “I’m not used to it.” She shook her head. “Like at all.”

“So, I’ll repeat my question.” Nicole leaned back, picking up her second slice. Waverly’s pizza still hadn’t arrived but Waverly felt less and less like eating. “Were there any pretty girls in Purgatory, Alberta?”

“Plenty.” Waverly cringed to think about all the crushes she’d had on her friends. “I just didn’t exactly know I was into all the pretty girls in Purgatory. I kind of only figured it out after I started having sex… my ex-boyfriend is terrible, but I don’t know, I didn’t feel anything.”

Nicole nodded, tease abandoned. She’s a good listener, Waverly noticed.

“I’ve been there.” Nicole’s eyes looked hard into Waverly’s. “You don’t always know right away, right?”

“Right.”

Nicole’s pizza dripped grease onto the table. She took a bite and started talking with her mouth full.

“I’m kind of only looking for casual stuff right now.” She said, taking her eyes off Waverly. “I just don’t really have time between classes and work.” She swallowed. “I know we didn’t talk about it, but there are my cards.”

“No!” Waverly exclaimed, “I’m the same. I don’t want anything serious, at least, not right now.” She paused, taking a breath. “I just want to not feel clueless, you know? I feel clueless. About all of this.” She gesticulated something between the two of them.

Nicole smiled again, that torturous smile.

“I can help with that.”

Waverly stared at her.

Nicole gestured to the door. “Do you wanna…?”

The implication settled between them. Waverly started nodding. “Yeah. Yeah.”

They were just outside when her tiny, gluten-free pizza came out, steaming.

 

 

 

They were in Nicole’s car (Nicole had a car) and she popped a piece of gum in her mouth.

“I have pizza breath.” Nicole said, suddenly shy.

Waverly held out her hand. “I have coffee breath. Can you spare a piece?”

Nicole nodded and pretty soon both of them were chewing, listening to Nicole’s phone play some kind of soft folky music over the aux cord. They were stopped at a light, a few blocks from Waverly’s apartment. She had decided to start living off campus this year, which was cheaper than a dorm and meal plan combo.

Of course, Chrissy was there right now.

“So, my roommate is kind of throwing this thing tonight. Lots of people.” Nicole said, keeping her eyes on the traffic in front of them. “I assume you’re in a dorm.”

“Apartment actually, but I have a roommate too.”

Nicole looked over at her, perking her lips up. “Not a fan of dorm life, huh?”

“Not a fan of being unable to cook my own meals.” Waverly answered coolly. The gum was good. It gave her something to do, grounding her ever so slightly.

“Well, shoot.” Nicole said, quite falsely. Waverly waited for what was coming. “That was bad planning on my part.”

Waverly squirmed in her seat, she really liked Nicole, she liked this strange feeling, but there was a simple reason why she had downloaded tinder in the first place. And it wasn’t for cookies.

“Is there anywhere else?” Waverly asked, her throat a little dry. She chomped down harder on the gum. “Someplace nearby?”

Nicole’s smile kicked in. “I mean, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“I’m not uncomfortable.”

They got caught at the tail-end of another red light. Nicole turned to Waverly.

“We could just make out in my car, if you’re cool with that.”

Waverly didn’t freeze up this time.

 

 

 

She found a pretty empty parking lot and turned the headlights off. Nicole kept the car running though, if only to savor that delicious air conditioning. It was an extra hot September, global warming and all.

Nicole wrapped her gum up in a paper napkin and Waverly followed suit. She stuffed it in the center-aisle cupholder and when she turned back up, Nicole was already staring at her.

“I always liked small towns, always wanted to trying living in one,” she said, “but if I’m being honest, I mainly liked small town girls.”

Waverly wrinkled her nose. “Why?”

Nicole didn’t answer because she’d bridged the gap and brought their lips together. Waverly responded immediately, her body jumping into action.

She was a very good kisser, Waverly could tell right away, Nicole had all the hallmarks down. She kept the pace moving without bruising Waverly’s lips. She was tender and firm, and could sneak the tongue in so carefully Waverly hardly knew what was happening until she felt the full weight of Nicole inside her mouth.

That made her moan and she pressed forward, trying to find a better angle but there is no better angle in the front seat of a car.

“Backseat. Backseat.” She said, tearing her lips away. Nicole nodded.

They got out quickly and Waverly fruitlessly readjusted her top and shorts. She’d overthought her outfit, eventually going with a more basic striped tank and embroidered jeans. She knew, however, that the boots really brought the whole situation together, black and full of spunk. If she needed a lesbian statement item, those boots could do nicely

When they arrived in the backseat, Nicole was immediately on top, bringing Waverly’s legs up around her hips.

“Is this good?” She asked, snaking more kisses down Waverly’s throat on a hum. She must do this all the time, to all kinds of women, Waverly thought. That didn’t begin to deter her and she nodded into Nicole.

“Very good.”

Waverly started to gain some confidence and took Nicole’s bottom lip between her teeth with a nice roll. She bit down, soft, just a nip to keep Nicole interested.

The girl on top of her let out a growl, definitely still interested.

“Did your ex-boyfriend teach you that?” Nicole’s voice was low, lower than it had been. She was kissing her way down Waverly’s shirt, slipping off straps and pulling so both of her breasts were revealed to the moonlit parking lot.

Waverly couldn’t breathe if she wanted to. “Bitch.”

“Mm-hmm.” Nicole wrapped her lips around a nipple, jerking Waverly forward. Nicole’s tongue was rough and it picked on her sensitivity with a thousand small needles. Waverly’s head tipped back, already feeling a pull between her thighs but then Nicole’s mouth disappeared. Waverly found herself missing it more than she’d like to admit.

“Nicole?” She looked up at the woman, breath languid.

Nicole wiped her lips, sitting back against the window. “I just want to make sure I know,” she looked around the lot, they were still alone. “How far are you comfortable going? I don’t mind fucking on the first date, but some girls do.” Her fingers started brushing up and down Waverly’s ankle. “I want us to be on the same page here.”

Waverly smiled. So polite. “We can have sex, Nicole.” She said, quickly.

The trainee didn’t need to be told twice.

She found her way back between Waverly’s legs and pressed her thigh against the slight dark spot bleeding through her shorts. Waverly shuddered against the contact, Jesus, she was wet. They found each other’s mouths again and Waverly brought her hands up, lacing them into Nicole’s hair. The bandana came off.

Nicole chucked it into the front seat.

“You look cute in that.” Waverly rasped. “You’re very cute.”

Nicole laughed, “God damn it.” She squeezed Waverly’s ass through the jean shorts, leaving another kiss on her collarbones. “You are so fucking adorable.”

Waverly twitched into the touch and felt her hips lift up off of the sticky leather. Her body was telling her something very obvious, that she couldn’t really take more of this. She was grinding hard against Nicole’s thigh, the dark spot growing darker.

Nicole took the bait and got down on the floor of the car, leaving Waverly propped up in the backseat, her legs open.

“I want-” Waverly hiccuped. “I want to-”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry.” Nicole smiled. “Let me get you off, okay?”

Waverly whined a little, not liking the idea of being so ungrateful, but she had to admit that she was new at sex with women and was probably not about to master the subtleties of oral sex in Nicole’s 2012 Ford focus. “Okay.” She slid her shorts off carefully and landed them in an easy place to retrieve, always thinking ahead. “Okay.”

Nicole took the permission and ran with it. She ran her fingers down Waverly’s hips and let out a small moan.

“Fuck.”

Her pretty fingers were like matches to Waverly’s skin and pretty soon she was ablaze. Even with the air conditioning it was too hot but if they rolled the windows down, Waverly was sure she’d attract company.

“Shit.” Waverly mustered, feeling Nicole yank down her underwear with a little too much expertise. “Shit, shit.”

“You’re fine.” Nicole smiled up at her, not an ounce of meanness in her gaze. “I got you.”

Waverly was sure of that. She was only wondering if she could keep herself together. “It’s too much.” She exhaled, breathy as hell. “I can’t believe I ever thought I was straight.”

Nicole laughed, that ugly laugh was so addicting and Waverly couldn’t get enough. She’s getting off on this, Waverly realised, she likes being in control. “You like this.” She said, tilting her head forward to catch Nicole’s reaction. “You like giving.”

Nicole seemed a little impressed at Waverly’s perception but didn’t answer. Instead, she spread Waverly’s legs delicately and started kissing up her inner thigh. “Such a smart girl.” She muttered in between marks.

The comment went straight to her core and Waverly’s voice reappeared, high and desperate. She could feel Nicole smile against her skin. “I get kind of loud sometimes.” She apologised.

Nicole didn’t say anything, because by then she’d reached Waverly’s heat. It still felt about one thousand degrees in that fucking car. “Good.” She said, her breath bearing down on Waverly’s clit.

The lack of friction was just about driving her insane.

“Oh.” She whispered. It sounded like begging.

Nicole’s fingers found her first. They were just as long and lovely running through her folds and teasing around her clit. She wasn’t working hard, just easing some of that immediate tension off to keep Waverly from melting. She was burning up and soaked through, absolutely lovely.

Nicole kept the circles up, treading a little harder on her center each time.

“Tell me if you don’t like anything I’m doing, okay?” She gripped harder on Waverly’s thigh with the available hand.

Waverly, foreign to the concept, tried to say something back but was interrupted by Nicole sliding that pointer finger deep inside her. She choked on nothing, letting out a choppy moan.

Nicole leaned forward, sucking on any expanse of sensitive skin as her finger started moving back and forth. Waverly tried to clock everything as it was happening but with Nicole working like that, all she could focus on was the simplicity of inhale/exhale. Before long, Waverly could feel a second digit enter her.

The combined range of sensations was almost overwhelming but Nicole actually worked in her own grounding material. She wouldn’t let Waverly feel lost or uncomfortable and as the crest built, Nicole let her reach farther and farther, seeing white. Her tongue worked magic and her fingers curled and sped up as necessary. It didn’t take long for Waverly’s eyes to roll back.

Her hips rose up and she let out one more high sound, this one landing between the both of them like a bucket of water.

“Good girl.” Nicole said and Waverly felt another buck run through her.

She lowered her hips, breathing out the sparks as they settled within her. Waverly was sure she looked like a complete mess.

“Holy shit.”

Waverly hadn’t been waiting for a confirmation. She had known herself well enough, known her own feelings for women and her subtle distaste for men. That being said, it was nice to have empirical proof in the form of a sweaty body laid flat against her own, lust radiating between the two of them.

She giggled, pure happiness.

Nicole somehow had kept herself looking put together. She drew back, pulling out a few tissues from the side pocket and helping Waverly clean up a little bit. “You can just stuff ‘em back there.” She gestured to the same middle aisle Waverly had placed their gum ten minutes earlier.

“Do you want me to…?” Waverly asked, the guilt re-emerging.

Nicole shook her head. “I, uh, I already did.” She had a tiny little smile on, almost like she was embarrassed.  

Waverly suddenly noticed Nicole’s shorts had fallen to the wayside next to her own.

“Oh!” Waverly said, her eyes big. “Just from watching?”

Nicole held up her hand, still a little wet. “Well, I helped myself out too.”

Waverly frowned. “I feel bad.”

“Don’t.” Nicole shrugged. “Maybe next time?”

That was a golden phrase, Waverly felt something sweet bubble up inside of her.

“Next time?” She asked, trying not to sound desperate.

Nicole couldn’t hide her smile.

 

 

 

Waverly called Wynonna as soon as she got home.

I did it!” She cried into the speaker. “I fucking did it!”

Her sister, having been fully updated on every step of this multi-week process, cheered.

“That’s my sister!” Her voice was crackly over the phone. “Living up to the good Earp name.”

Even under the given circumstances, Waverly blushed. She wouldn’t lie and say that she wasn’t always seeking some of that older-sister approval.

Wynonna was currently working as a bounty hunter with some ex-military kids up north. She’d bring in cons who missed their court date and collect on overdue warrants. It wasn’t exactly glamorous but she enjoyed the work, Waverly could tell. She’d heard all the juicy stories of screwing around (literally) with her partner, who’d become completely enamoured. It was hard not to be, when you were around Wynonna.

“Did you guys fuck?”

Waverly laughed, you couldn’t say Wynonna didn’t get right to the point.

“In her car, prom-night style.” Waverly slumped onto the couch, trying to keep her voice down as to not wake Chrissy up. The poor girl had three essays due the same Thursday, she needed all the strength she could get. “Jesus, Wynonna, she’s so hot.”

“Eh, I think the uniform kink is your thing.”

Waverly’s mind wandered to Nicole in an actual police ensemble; handcuffs, baton, etc. She felt a shiver run down her back.

“Oh shit, you’re right.”

“I bet she’s a total goody-two-shoes.” Waverly heard Wynonna’s laugh come in. Even her teasing was kind, it was that obvious Wynonna was proud of her. “Of course, you go and hookup with some rule abiding officer of the law. My mortal enemy.”

Waverly smiled.

Coming out to Wynonna had been a multifaceted process. Waverly had only figured it out for herself towards the start of her senior year. After breaking up with Champ Hardy and making the firm decision to kick small-town-homophobia’s ass, she tried to call Wynonna but was unable to divulge the pertinent information. It wasn’t like she was ashamed or even nervous about Wynonna’s reaction, but the discovery was so recent, it felt almost vulgar to tell over the phone.

She decided to wait until Wynonna visited, to tell her in person, but word spread quick in Purgatory and after disclosing to a few close friends, the rest of the student body was soon made aware.

Now, it’s not that her older sister was unobservant, it would be demonstrably hard to maintain her current gig if that were true. Sometimes, she could just be a little bit obtuse.

So, around Christmas, when Wynonna did come home, two of Champ’s buddies let a rude remark fly on main street. Wynonna had spun around and kicked the shit out of both of them until Waverly was pulling her off and a concerned citizen had called the sheriff. It wasn’t until later in the day as Waverly bailed her out that Wynonna bothered to ask, ‘Wait, you’re gay?’

But that was years ago, and now that the scores were made clear, Wynonna was happy to support any endeavour that got her sister laid.

“So, are you gonna see her again?”

Waverly blushed, hiding her face for no reason. “I think so.”

“Oh boy.” Wynonna sighed. “I hear church bells.”

Waverly gasped, “Stop it, this is very casual.” She exhaled. “You should be be happy. I’m finally following your model of dating.”

Wynonna sucked her teeth. “Thing is, babygirl, you fall too fast and too hard.” She laughed and Waverly felt something hit her stomach. “You’re really into this woman, I can hear it in your voice.”

Waverly scoffed. “It’s only sex, I promise.”

“Uh-huh.”

 

--

 

The next time was at Nicole’s place.

They didn’t go out beforehand, there wasn’t really a need for that pretext any longer. Waverly met the roommate, a tall man with a handsome face and deep eyes. He didn’t talk much but was nice enough as he passed them by.

Nicole regarded Xavier Dolls with a humor that didn’t seem to fit. It was obvious she was the only one allowed to poke fun of him.

Waverly suggested they watch a movie, which made Nicole laugh. They sat themselves down on her floor-mattress and set up Nicole’s laptop to play a dopey comedy with an unattractive lead actor. Nicole spread out, leaving Waverly no choice but to snuggle up.

“I have such a terrible crush on her.” Waverly whispered, motioning to the lead actress.

Nicole smiled. “You have a type, huh?”

Waverly turned, squinting.

“The hair?” Nicole shook a strand of her own. “Redheads?”

Waverly rolled her eyes. “You wish.”

The movie didn’t last.

Waverly started kissing Nicole’s neck, stiffening her form. The taller girl wrapped her arms around Waverly’s hips and tugged forwards. That landed Waverly square on Nicole’s lap. They eased into each other slow this time. Waverly was the first to slip her tongue into Nicole’s mouth, eliciting a stronger grip on her ass. Waverly loved the feeling of Nicole needing her, grasping at anything to bring their bodies closer together.

It was still hot. Nicole’s shitty fan circled around and barely did anything to cool them down.

Waverly got Nicole on her back and slipped down the girl’s frame, planting kisses much in the same way they’d been planted on her a week or so prior. Nicole was squirming under her touch.

“You’ve been lying to me.” Nicole teased, breathy. “No way this is your first time.”

Waverly left a nippy bite just above her hip-bone. “Has anyone ever told you you talk too much.”

Nicole didn’t answer because Waverly was dipping into her shorts and pulling down her boxers. Waverly went in tongue first, eager to taste and explore. Nicole, who prided herself on stamina, was undone by the tiny girl’s enthusiasm and sheer love of the game. She fell apart slowly and then with a bang.

“Waverly!” Nicole had her fingers threaded through Waverly’s long hair, ruining the ponytail she’d redone several times on the way over. She loved this feeling too, pressed against Nicole’s heat, the taste of sex on her tongue, tangy and metallic and slightly sweet, like blood.

Waverly crawled back up as she felt Nicole’s breathing slow. Her fingers lingered below, locked in the perfectly natural red curls, forever exploring.

“I made you come.” She said, so much pride locked in that little heart.

Nicole smiled with her, eyes drooping from the aftershocks. “You sure as hell did.”

Waverly wasn’t let go after that though, Nicole flipped their positions and pretty soon it was Waverly with her breath in her throat and her hands in Nicole’s hair, begging for release. The mattress shifted and budged around on the fake hardwood as they found each other over and over again.

 

 

 

Waverly woke up around two and ordered an Uber. She didn’t want to wake Nicole, who looked so hilarious with her mouth open, drool sticking her to the sheets.

She caught Dolls in the doorway, coming back from his night shift.

“Oh- hey.” The strangeness of the situation was obvious in her voice.

Dolls nodded at her, only giving up a small smile.

Her driver didn’t speak. Waverly was probably just as exhausted but the sickly sweet feeling in her chest wouldn’t go away as she thought about Nicole’s face on that tiny mattress, beautiful and covered in sweat.

 

--

 

Waverly discovered pretty fast that Nicole really liked eating her out, and she couldn’t complain. There was a strange kind of wonder as they slowly figured out Waverly’s tastes. Nicole’s dominant streak became more apparent in unison with Waverly’s submissive undertow.

She’d also figured out that the first night’s car fluke had been more planned than Nicole let on, and that she was a bit of an exhabitionist. Good to know.

Waverly let a ‘daddy’ slip during a session which would have led to horrified embarrassment if Nicole’s hips hadn’t responded so immediately.

So they were both learning.

 

--

 

She and Nicole had already fucked a couple more times when they ran into each other at Burnham park. Waverly and Chrissy were enjoying their last Sunday off before the midterm panic started to kick in and an inordinate amount of time became work-focused. Chrissy had brought a James Patterson paperback, if only to embarrass her friend.

“You know he doesn’t even write his own shitty prose.” Waverly chewed on her straw.

It was finally starting to cool down, a breezy sixty-four.

Waverly wouldn’t have noticed Nicole at all if Chrissy hadn’t pointed her out. They were sitting on a park bench, drinking the last seasonally appropriate frappucinos.

“Isn’t that your gay fuck-buddy?”

Waverly elbowed Chrissy before realizing she was right. Nicole was coming right towards her. Her stomach turned.

“Oh God. That’s weird.” She twisted the edge of her shirt, unsure if she should wave or speak or just stay perfectly still. “Maybe she won’t see us.”

Chrissy rolled her eyes. “What? You can screw this woman twice a week but struggle to say hello to her in public?”

Waverly blushed at Chrissy’s language. “It’s not like we’re dating, Chrissy.”

“HEY NICOLE!” Chrissy put her arms out, waving them wildly.

Waverly made a small noise of shock and tried to hold her best friend still. “Chrissy!”

Nicole turned towards them, first confused and then the same shade of nervous Waverly was turning.

“Oh.” She pulled on earbud out. “Hey. Waverly.”

“Hey.” Waverly stood up, offering a small wave.

There was a debate as both of them struggled to interpret if the situation required a hug or not. Waverly eventually went for it and, all strangeness aside, it was nice to have Nicole in her arms, outside of the bedroom. Her arms were so strong and kept Waverly in place without brutality.

The hug broke after a couple of seconds and from the look on Nicole’s face, the odd kindness had affected her as well.

Chrissy cleared her throat.

“Oh!” Waverly turned, blush maintained. “This is my roommate, Chrissy Nedley.”

Chrissy stuck out her hand, brash. Nicole accepted with an impressed side-eye to Waverly.

“Nicole Haught.”

“Haught?” Chrissy turned to Waverly, laughter trapped behind her lips. “Her name is Haught?”

Waverly’s mouth dropped. “Chrissy!” She exclaimed. “Be nice!”

Nicole put a hand up. “Don’t worry.” She shot another meaningful glance at Waverly. “I’ve heard it all before.”

Chrissy watched the electricity pass between the two of them, pressing forward.

“Waverly was telling me you’re police.”

Nicole smiled. “Waverly was telling you about me?”

Waverly didn’t think she could feel any more mortified but there it was. She jumped into action. “I only mentioned it in passing because her dad’s the sheriff of the town we both grew up in.” She shook her head, failing to even convince herself.

Nicole nodded, getting a golden look in her eyes. “Right. Purgatory?”

Chrissy clocked the exchange and saved everything in her back pocket. “That’s the one.”

Suddenly, Nicole’s phone buzzed and she pulled a sorry look at both of them. “My trainer app is mad at me.” She waved her phone around, her current mile time having slunk to a depressing thirteen minutes. “I gotta jet, it was nice meeting you.” She smiled at Waverly. “Uh, text me.”

They didn’t hug again, though they might have wanted to.

Chrissy hit Waverly with the paperback as soon as Nicole was out of hearing range.

“Ow!”

“You are both idiots.”

 

 

[SENT8:17P.M.] SO sorry about chrissy. she doesn’t understand social conventions.

 

[SENT8:20P.M.] no worries! she’s hilarious, i can see why you’re roommates :P

 

[SENT8:25P.M.] friday still work?

  

[SENT8:26P.M.] friday is perfect! :) your place?

  

[SENT8:26P.M] considering i’m still not ALLOWED in your apartment i guess so

  

[SENT8:28P.M.] you big baby OUR WALLS ARE EXTREMELY THIN

 

 

--

 

“So is there anybody else you’re seeing?” Wynonna asked. Waverly had her phone on speaker, settling into a bath with an extremely cheap glass of wine in their fancy floating cup holder. “Or messaging? Or anything?”

Waverly laughed. “Why would I be messaging anyone else?”

Waverly could almost hear the eyeroll.

“It’s not like you and the officer are exclusive, right?”

Waverly thought about, the warm water flooding her. “No.” She said, and the word sounded wrong in her throat, like anything between her and Nicole could be a ‘no’. “I’ve just been busy. I don’t have time to hookup with every girl in Chicago.” She finished, liking the sound of her snarky comeback.

But in truth, she hadn’t opened her tinder since meeting with Nicole that first night. Sure, she’d thought about Nicole hooking up with other women and they had never talked about any kind of commitment to each other. This was fun, it was sexy and fast and had nothing to do with romance.

She swallowed, so what was up with the strange feeling in her chest?

“Fair.” Wynonna continued, “You know I’m only looking out for you, kid.” There was another pause and then a grunt, Waverly could imagine Wynonna beating up some villain as they talked, a genuine superhero. “I don’t want you to get super attached if this girl is only gonna break your heart when she fucks off.”

“Break my heart?” Waverly laughed. “Wynonna, come on.”

Another grunt from the other end of the line.

“What are you even doing?” Waverly asked.

“Work stuff.” She huffed. “You sure you’re fine?”

“Fine? Wynonna. I’m great!” She took a sip of her terrible wine. “I love this city; I love my classes; I love my apartment; I love…”

She paused, stuck on what she was about to say.

“Oh, fuck.”

Wynonna sighed. “There it is.”

 

--

 

Friday came and they found themselves eating Chinese in Nicole’s tiny kitchen. Nicole had picked up on Waverly’s dietary restrictions by now and very carefully ordered for the both of them. It was sweet, Waverly showed up and the plastic containers already held everything she would have wanted.

Then Waverly remembered Wynonna’s advice and the sweet feeling turned sour.

Nicole was digging into her beef and broccoli, looking so precious in another one of those dumb bandanas. They were standing across from each other, Nicole up against the counter and Waverly leaning on the fridge. It was a comfortable distance and they mainly ate in silence. Occasionally, flirtatious comments emerged but Waverly knew by now that Nicole worked long days between the academy and her internship and she liked to eat. So meals were quiet times.

However, tonight, Waverly opened her mouth and before she knew it, she was speaking.

“Have you been seeing other women?”

It took Nicole by surprise and a particularly droopy piece of broccoli hit the floor like a bird shot from the sky.

“Huh?”

Waverly blushed, already feeling like she’d overstepped a boundary.

“I was just wondering,” Waverly put down her veggie fried rice, “you don’t have to answer I guess, I was just curious.” She cringed, cursing herself internally.

Nicole’s eyes cycled back to their normal size and she tried to cover her ass. “We didn’t lay down a ton of rules about this, I guess.” She answered, holding onto the counter.

“Right.” Waverly said, her pulse was speeding up like it did when she was on top of Nicole, grinding into her.

Nicole’s face twitched. “You didn’t think we were exclusive, did you?”  

Waverly shook her head, her heart sinking. “No.” That was a good enough answer. Not that Nicole owed her an answer, because she didn’t. It’s just sex, she repeated to herself. Why wouldn’t she be off having the time of her life? Having sex with lots of smart, young brunettes who were more experienced and more fun and less damaged? Don’t forget you’re an Earp, not exactly built for substantial, monogamous relationships. “Of course not.”

Nicole looked down at her meal again.

“Well, I haven’t.”

Waverly’s heart ticked forward.

“Really?”

Nicole stabbed a piece of beef with one chopstick. “I guess I’ve just been crazy busy, you know?” She put it between her teeth. “I haven’t even really been messaging anybody else.” She looked back up at Waverly. “Just you.”

“Just me?” Waverly repeated.

Nicole couldn’t seem to believe it either.

 

 

 

Waverly was bobbing, pressing her hips so recklessly against Nicole’s. She still had her underwear on, like it would be too much trouble to remove them and that time spent away from Nicole would doom her.

Nicole’s hands were gripping hard like they usually did. Her mouth was open and little words ran out of her lips at light speed. The TV show they’d fruitlessly started watching was still playing in the background, but neither girl got distracted.

“Waverly.” Nicole’s hands started to tug down whatever lacey thing she’d picked out a few hours ago. Dolls was home tonight so they were trying to be quiet. Easier said than done.

Nicole was close, Waverly could tell. She could tell that kind of thing by now. Her hips fell harder and her hands gripped tighter as Nicole’s breathing became more labored. She got a very sweet expression on her face when she was trying to come, like someone trying to remember the fingering of a guitar chord. Eyes squinted and forehead creased.

The noise that did pierce their bubble was Waverly’s cell phone.

The ringtone was something poppy and loud, akin to what would be playing 24/7 at a frozen yogurt store. Waverly looked over at her purse, Nicole’s fingers leaving marks in her skin.

“Shit, sorry.” She looked back at Nicole and gave an apologetic smile.

Nicole fell back against her pillow, amused expression coming over her face. “I’ve decided I hate your phone.” She muttered.

Waverly laughed and leaned down to kiss that ruddy cheek before picking herself up off the mattress and finding her phone in the mess of abandoned items of clothing. She had the decency to grab a huge t-shirt of the ground and tug it over her head. It wasn’t like she could be seen through the phone, but Canadian values stay put.

It was Gus on the line, about Curtis.

Waverly’s hand went to her mouth.

“Oh God.” She whispered, voice thick. “No.”

Nicole poked her head up.

“No no no no no no.” Waverly had her palm on her forehead, her eyes squeezed shut. She started pacing back and forth. “Oh Gus.” Tears started to form, the first drops rolling down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry.”

“Waverly?” Nicole was standing now, pulling a shirt and shorts back on.

“Of course.” Tears were falling fast and free. “I’ll book a flight right away.” She scoffed. “I can miss a few days of class.”

That stilled Nicole, unsure of what role she was supposed to play in the situation that was unfolding. She watched Waverly’s form, usually so proud and tall, even for her height, crumple. Her shoulders turned inwards, her neck shrank, her hands twisted up around the edges of that ridiculous shirt.

“I’ll text you more details.” Waverly continued, running her hands through her tangled hair. “Please, talk to Wynonna. I know she’ll want to be there.” She nodded. “Yeah, of course.”

Nicole remembered Waverly mentioning a Wynonna, her sister.

“Gus, I’m so sorry.” Waverly wiped another tear away. “I love you. I’ll talk to you soon.”

The phone was put away and Waverly turned back around to Nicole, her eyes dark.

“Waverly.” Nicole took a step towards her.

“My uncle died. Curtis.” She said, plainly. “Heart attack, they think.” Waverly sniffed, rubbing her face. Things were getting quite cool now, and Nicole had brought out her down comforter earlier in the week. “He sort of raised me and my sister, after my dad died.”

“Oh God.” Nicole said, heartbroken. “Waverly, I’m sorry.”

Waverly wrapped her arms around herself, freezing cold. She looked impossibly small like that. Nicole knew that they weren’t anything serious, that this wasn’t a relationship or even close to one but she couldn’t stand by and watch Waverly weep without doing something.

She took three steps and sunk her arms around the shivering girl, holding as tight as she could. Like a burst dam, the real tears started to pour down Waverly’s face, landing without noise against the carpet. The sobs wracked her body back and forth but Nicole held tight, steadying her against the world.

Eventually, Waverly’s legs started to wobble and Nicole set her down gentle on the side of the bed, refusing to separate herself.

Waverly’s grief was everywhere but she felt the warmth of Nicole’s body, thoroughly different from the heat of their sex, and sighed.

“He took such good care of us.”

Nicole nodded, brushing some hair out of Waverly’s face. The tears began to fall on Nicole, much to Waverly’s embarrassment.

“Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m such a mess.” She tried to pull herself away but Nicole held tight and wouldn’t let Waverly go anywhere. “Nicole.”

“It’s okay, Waverly.” She smiled a hard smile. “I got you.”

So Waverly submitted and continued to cry, locking her head into Nicole’s shoulder. The weeping grew louder but Nicole didn’t fight it. Her grip was gentle enough to keep Waverly from spiraling, but she didn’t stifle any movement.

“My dad died last year.” Nicole whispered after a few minutes.

Waverly lifted her head, staring into Nicole’s eyes. They were just as big and brown as always, but now Waverly could see red staining the edges. Nicole was crying too.

“I don’t mean to hijack, just letting you know, I get that feeling.” She continued, rubbing a little circle into Waverly’s shoulder. “It’s awful.”

Waverly took a deep breath, trying to slow her shuddering.

“I don’t even know what to feel.” She whispered. “He’s the reason I’m here in the first place. He encouraged me to apply to schools, he edited all my personal essays.” Waverly swallowed, clinging to Nicole. “He paid my tuition.”

“Wow.”

“I remember so clearly when I came out to him.” Waverly felt a laugh growing within her. “All he wanted to know was if it was still okay to threaten any girl who went out with me.”

“He sounds incredible.” Nicole was still looking at her. “I can see why you turned out so good.”

Waverly laughed, because she could only hope to be as good and kind and wise as Curtis when she grew up. There was a part of her that hoped she somehow inherited his book-smarts and genius intuition, maybe through osmosis.

“It hurts so bad.” Waverly’s teeth were clenched.

Nicole nodded. “It only sort of goes away.”

“I’m gonna have to go home.” Waverly froze to imagine the funeral, all her friends and enemies gathered at Gus’ farm. She’d probably have to speak, have to qualify everything Curtis gave her into a couple sentences. It was unthinkable.

“Good.” Nicole had her chin on Waverly’s shoulder. She could feel the vibrations of her lover’s voicebox. “That’ll be good for you.”

Gravity was having a greater effect than usual and exhaustion started to kick in.

“Sleep.” Waverly muttered. “I need to sleep.”

Nicole hands found her her waist and pulled, dragging them back up to the ‘headboard’. Waverly felt Nicole’s humming body expanding into her back as she fell asleep. It was a sad kind of sleep, but a lovely one as well.

 

 

 

The next morning, Waverly had to take a minute to orient herself. She hadn’t yet stayed the night, it didn’t seem like that kind of thing.

Nicole was making breakfast, up long before her. Dolls was seated at their tiny kitchen table, eggs and sriracha on his plate.

“Hey.” Nicole’s smile was measured, testing the waters after last night’s episode.

Waverly smiled back, tentative. “Hey.”

Dolls stared at them both, mouth full of eggs.

“Do you want something to eat?” Nicole turned back to the stovetop. “I started buying the free-range cruelty-free kind.”

That made Waverly’s smile grow but she shook her head. “I should probably get back, I have to buy airplane tickets.” She gestured to the door, turning around. “I’m just gonna call an Uber.”

“Let me drive you.”

Dolls’ eyes got wide.

Waverly turned back. “You sure? It’s like, twenty minutes out of your way.”

“It’s no problem.” Nicole tugged off the oven mitts and walked back towards her bedroom. “Let me just grab my shoes.”

Waverly was left alone with Dolls again. He looked at the shadow of his roommate and then back to Waverly.

“You’re good for her.”

Waverly nearly jumped on hearing the seated man’s voice.

“You can talk?” She said, only half joking.

Dolls let a trademark little smile cross his lips. “You are.”

Then Nicole came back and Waverly barely had time to notice Dolls’ nod of approval as they exited the apartment.

Nicole played country music in the car and Waverly thought of Curtis. Curtis would have liked Nicole, she decided.

On second thought, she reconfigured; who could dislike Nicole?

 

 

 

Waverly got back to her room and started crying again.

And it took a while before she realised that she was crying over Curtis and Nicole.

Nicole, who let her weep in the middle of the night like a fourth grader; who didn’t tease or demand anything or make her ride home with some stranger; whose smile shone out brighter than any star Waverly had stared up at it in Alberta. Nicole who picked mushrooms off her pizza to eat them by hand. Nicole who suggested cookies for a first date. Nicole who knew how to make her shiver and scream and curse. Nicole who knew how to make Waverly’s day better with a single touch.

Nicole, who Waverly was so obviously in love with.

The realization hit her with such a force that she had to sit down.

Nicole, who doesn’t want to be in a relationship.

You did this to yourself, she admitted. You let yourself get in so deep with this fake hookup-y thing and now, look. Nicole doesn’t want you like that. Sure, she thinks your pretty enough to keep around but she doesn’t love you.

She wiped her eyes.

Who could love an Earp?

She looked down at the carpeting of her own apartment, vacuumed within an inch of its life.

Maybe it was time to shut this down.

 

 

--

 

 

[SENT10:30A.M.] hope you have a safe flight, Waverly. text me when you touch down.

 

[READ10:37A.M.]

 

 

 

She didn’t mean to ignore the text, but then again, of course she did.

Wynonna actually showed up for the funeral, black leather is still black. She brought her crew and then some; a woman named Valdez; some mustachioed cowboy; other guys straight out of a Harley-Davidson commercial.

They hugged and realized how long it had been since the Earp sisters were in the same room together. Gus made them all dinner and they told stories about Curtis and his tomatoes. Almost everyone in town showed up, including Champ.

At one point, Wynonna asked about her ginger cop but Waverly only shook her head and changed the subject.

 

 

[SENT2:34P.M.] thinking about you today. hope all goes well.

  

[SENT2:50P.M.] i’m sure you’re busy, but i’d love to talk soon.

  

[SENT9:30P.M.] hey it’s been a couple days. how are you holding up?

  

[SENT1:30A.M.] Waverly

 

--

 

She didn’t see Nicole again when she got back to the city, not until she retreated to Insomnia Cookies with a sour taste in her stomach. She’d flirted with a few more girls on tinder but everything felt wrong and ugly.

Waverly figured if she couldn’t taste Nicole, she could taste a snickerdoodle and get the next best thing.

But of course, Nicole was there too. And it was immediately strange.

“Oh.” Waverly managed, staring at Nicole. She was wrapped up in a big jacket, the weather had started to really turn in the direction of autumn since Waverly had returned from Purgatory. Nicole’s eyes drifted, just like they always did.

For the first time in a while, Waverly felt so extremely self-conscious around the other woman.

“Waverly.” Nicole exhaled, holding a snickerdoodle with both hands. “It’s been… a couple weeks.”

Waverly swallowed, trying to fight the itch in her eyes. “I’ve been busy.”

“I bet.” Nicole kept the snark down, ever the gentlewoman.

Silence descended. Horrible, gaping silence that swallowed Waverly whole.

“How was the funeral?” Nicole asked, stepping forwards.

Waverly’s breath hitched. Of course she would ask such a thoughtful and considerate question after Waverly had ignored her for weeks. Of course Nicole was still being so mature.

“Lovely.” Waverly tried to keep the fence up but it was begging to be torn down. “Really nice.”

Nicole smiled, still pained. “I’m glad. I’m glad you’re alright”

Waverly’s eyes looked down at the floor and then traveled up to the door. If only she knew. “I should probably get going.” She said, starting towards the entryway. There were people all around them and Waverly was struggling to keep herself contained.

“Wait.” Nicole grabbed her arm. “Hey, I miss you.”

Waverly’s felt her breath release on Nicole’s touch and could barely stop the instinct to glide into her arms. She looked away, trying not to catch the desperation in Nicole’s eyes.

“Uh.”

“Did I say something wrong?” Nicole pleaded. “I swear, I didn’t mean to fuck this up.”

Waverly shook her head. “It wasn’t you.” She muttered. “It’s me.”

Nicole’s eyes got wider and she let go of the arm.

“I’m sorry, Nicole. You deserve better.” Waverly shook a tear loose and raced out the door. The late October wind blew hard against her eyes and brought a few more droplets to the limelight. “Much better.”

 

 

 

“It was horrible.” Waverly had her head flat down on the desk. Wynonna was on speaker. “I feel horrible. She was staring at me with just, the saddest look in her eyes. And I had to walk away. It was so awkward.”

“Kiddo.” Wynonna’s voice was wracked, full of unusual sympathy. “You never even told me what happened between you two.”

Waverly walked her fingers up the spine of one of her pre-modern English texts and sighed. “It was just like you said.” She said, feeling quite sorry for herself. “I fell too hard.”

It may have been the wrinkle of the receiver but Wynonna’s voice got harder. “That piece of shit.” She said. It hurt Waverly’s heart to hear her sister talk like that about Nicole. “Any girl who sleeps around with Waverly fucking Earp on the menu is an idiot, seriously.”

“It wasn’t like that.” Waverly laughed, her chest hurting. She’d been crying too much these past weeks. “I ended it.

Wynonna paused. “Why?”

Waverly swallowed, emotions threatening to resurface. “I love her.” She said, not bothering to switch anything into past tense. “But, she doesn’t love me.” Waverly shook her head. “I can’t do that. I can’t keep fucking her if all we’re ever gonna do is fuck.”

“She said that?” Wynonna’s voice sounded again.

Waverly stilled. “What?”

“She said, ‘No, I don’t love you’?” Wynonna asked again.

Waverly didn’t need to think on it. “No, it’s just obvious.” She wiped her eyes preemptively. “There’s a difference between hooking up with someone for sex and really caring about someone. You can feel it.”

“Right.” Wynonna didn’t sound convinced. “And you think Nicole doesn’t care about you at all?”

That made Waverly pause.

Because, of course, Nicole did care about her, at least a little. She knew her coffee order and what she liked from Chinese takeout places. Nicole had held her when Curtis had died and made her breakfast the next morning. Nicole had texted her every day, without looking for anything sexual at all. Just to check in, to make sure Waverly was okay.

So Nicole must, even just a bit…  

“No.” Waverly said, slow. “It’s just different, I’m not what she’s looking for.”

“When you guys met at the cookie place,” Wynonna started, “did she ask you anything? Did she want something from you?”

Waverly pushed the horrible memory to the forefront of her mind.

“She wanted to know how the funeral was,” Waverly bit her lip, “and that I was okay.”

Everything crystallized.

“Baby.” Wynonna said, slowly. “That doesn’t sound, to me anyways, like a girl who only wants you for your body.”

Nicole’s hand on her own appeared, the desperate grip, the sad longing in her eyes. Waverly sat up straight, thoughts spinning.

Wynonna was right.

Of course, she was.

“Sorry, Wynonna.” She said too quickly. “I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.” Waverly smiled, a nervous something growing in her chest. “Thanks a bunch.”

The line went dead and somewhere deep in the upper midwest, Wynonna Earp sighed.

“Idiots.”

 

 

 

Waverly knocked on her door but it was Dolls who answered. He sighed and let her in without a fight.

“She’s in her room.”

Waverly brushed past the kitchen where they ate chinese food and the table where Nicole offered her eggs and into her bedroom. Nicole was lying down with her eyes closed, headphones plugged in.

“Nicole.” Waverly said, not wanting to scare her.

No response.

Waverly reached over and yanked the headphones from her ears. Nicole’s eyes shot open.

“Waverly?” She asked, pulling herself into a sitting position. Nicole, sweet Nicole, looked awful. Messy hair and dark circles and suspicious eyes. It was enough to break Waverly’s heart.

“Hey.” She said, taking a step forward.

Nicole scooched back. “What are you doing here?” Her voice was cautious and low.

Waverly hated how Nicole was looking at her, with that same fear she’d held in her heart the past few weeks.

“We need to talk.” She said.

Nicole looked down, pulling a feather from her comforter. “I don’t really want to talk right now, Waverly.”

Waverly almost felt herself surrender and leave the room, but for once, all that bravery Curtis had always demonstrated filled her up and those Earp feet stayed locked on the ground.

“We need to talk, Nicole.”

“Why, Waverly?” Nicole stood suddenly, stepping towards her. “I’m sorry if this wasn’t right for you or if I overstepped or whatever, but you know, I’d at least have the decency to break it off in person instead of just ghosting them.” She grit her teeth. “That feels like shit.”

“I know.” Waverly said. Nicole’s eyes were so tired. “I know.”

“So, what are you doing here?”

“I’m sorry.” Waverly said, very still. “I was trying to fix things but now it’s pretty obvious I only fucked it up.” She twisted on her heel. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I didn’t think you’d care. I just,” she took a deep breath, tears were threatening to fall, “I got scared, Nicole, I got really scared.”

Nicole’s eyebrows creased. “Scared?”

Waverly nodded. “You said it wasn’t anything serious. I thought so too.” She looked down at the floor. “But then it got so serious, Nicole, my feelings got so serious.”

Nicole stared at her.

“It was too much.”

“Too much?”

“I kinda fell in love with you.” Waverly said, her eyes back with Nicole. “And I didn’t think you would ever love me back, so I protected myself. I made it easy.”

Nicole leaned forward, her body language opening up. The sweatpants she had on bobbed along her hipbone, still incredible distracting. Waverly realized she was wearing the same CPD tank-top they’d met in.

“But it didn’t get easy at all.” Waverly swallowed. “It was so hard, I hated not talking to you. It was awful.”

“I know.” Nicole said, she was walking towards Waverly now. There was some color back in her cheeks, a flash of something in those dark eyes. “It was awful. I was so worried about you.”

“Worried?” Waverly choked out a nervous laugh. “I was terrible to you.”

Nicole shook her head, stopping right in front of Waverly.

“I was scared too.”

Then she was leaning in and Waverly felt those lips she had been worried about missing for the rest of her life. Nicole’s hands locked back into their normal place and Waverly found familiar ground wrapped around the taller girl’s neck.

“I love you.” Nicole said, voice pressed against Waverly’s cheeks. “Of course, I do. How could I not?”

Waverly smiled, tears spilling. “I love you too.”

The kiss came again and Waverly was astonished by her ability to reach through the open air blind and know that her fingers would land on Nicole, that she would be there like a buoy in the middle of the sea.

 

--

 

Their flight was delayed twice, but they did make it in time for Christmas Eve. Chrissy was coming home as well so they all traveled together, a little caravan on the 747. Snow was falling as they landed in Calgary and Nicole marvelled at all the open space.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” She said, a city girl through and through.

Waverly stared at her glowing expression and silently agreed.

That all was nothing compared to Nicole’s reaction at the homestead. She was like a kid at Disney World, wanting to explore everything and uncover every rock and false grave, even in a blizzard. Waverly suited her up in a snowsuit and thick hat. They went wandering until Gus called everybody for dinner.

Wynonna played her part of the older sister well, teasing the fuck out of Nicole and constantly griping about how tall the trainee was. She more than once mentioned the heirloom gun their father had left to the eldest Earp sister.

She was only messing around, probably.

“Just remember this, Haught.” Wynonna flashed her cruelest grin. “I bring in punks like you for a living.”

“You’re on the same team, Wynonna.” Waverly scoffed.

Wynonna winked at her. “I don’t think so, babygirl.”

They all sat around the table, loaded high with beautiful things and Gus said a quick grace. Waverly ran her fingers over the inside of her wrist. Sola gratia. Nicole’s hand found her knee and they interlaced, a secret under the table.

“So,” Gus asked, reaching for the mashed potatoes. “How exactly did you two meet again?”

Waverly smiled.

 

--