It happens for the first time nearing the end of February. She wakes up and find a singular, tiny purple lilac lying on the pillow beside her.
A frown forms between her brows at the sight, so she exits to the kitchen with the slightly crumpled flower’s stem between her fingers. As she clicks on the coffee machine, Calamity Jane winds her way between her legs in greeting.
“Any idea how this got here, CJ?” She asks the cat.
The cat meows.
She laughs and tosses the flower onto the counter top, giving up the pursuit of knowledge in favour of getting ready for work.
She’s filing a report on a missing dog at work, when she feels a tickle in the back of her throat.
One cough, two coughs, three coughs, and suddenly there’s two purple lilacs sitting on the unfinished paper work on her desk
It takes a full five minutes for her to recover from the shock, but the first thing she does is open up google and begins typing away.
Her computer screen has found it’s way to a disease. Flowers regurgitate from the victims mouth as a result of unrequited love. Her mind instantly goes to Waverly.
She end up hacking up 8 more lilacs before the day ends.
The next day they’re practically spilling from her mouth, coming in short but frequent bursts and pooling around her feet. Mixed with the lilacs are jasmines, an imperfect pattern of white and purple and it would have been pretty if they weren’t coming from her mouth.
She goes in anyway and brings a paper bag, which she manages to fill by lunch.
It’s dies down a bit but suddenly Wynonna Earp and her sister are walking by and there’s a pure pile of snowy white jasmines spitting from her mouth, and she keeps hacking them up until her eyes are keeping up a steady stream of their own.
“Jesus, Haught, what’s wrong with you?”
But she ignores Wynonna’s question, and when she looks up into concerned hazel eyes, another load comes.
Black badge had ushered her into the offices after that and began performing tests, but none of them could figure out what was doing this to the officer. Why, now, along with those blasted jasmines, are bright red cloves.
She doesn’t tell them what she already knows.
She wrestles her way out of those offices, but Waverly insists on driving her home.
Somehow, in the passenger seat of the brunette’s jeep, the pain in her lungs feels a little less sore, and the fluttering in her throat dies down to a manageable hum. It almost goes all together when a small hand lands on top of hers and squeezes reassuringly.
They think it’s getting better the next day, when there are only 5 cloves perched in a pile on the edge of their desk. Nedley’s been concerned, but knows there’s no way of her not coming in. So she goes out on patrol with Lonnie.
She doubts fresh air will help but it’s nice to get out of the bull pen anyway.
Things are going okay, she hasn’t coughed up a single flower since she went out. That changes, suddenly, however, when she glances out of the window and sees Waverly Earp share a brief kiss with Champ Hardy before heading into Shorty’s.
Before the front door of the bar even closes, there are yellow carnations all over the floor of the squad car.
She’s been on bed rest for a week now, by order of Nedley, and the state of her room is horrifying. The carnations seem to be sticking close, interrupted only by a moonflower every so often. The entire room is yellow, piles of the stuff kicked up and trampled into every corner of the room. There are garbage bags of petals, but at this point she’s not even trying to contain it any more.
In her mouth, she can only taste earth and soil, and in her lungs she can feel roots latching onto her body, in her organs, never relenting. Its a constant pain in the pit of her stomach and the only thing that seems to calm her hacking is a check in from Waverly.
She doesn’t know what looks worse: her or her room.
Everyone who knows about the predicament is beyond concerned, but she refuses to go the hospital, as she knows there is nothing she can do. She feels like crying all the time.
Waverly’s taken to coming every day, and every time the weight in her chest seems a little lighter. Of course, the flowers still come, and sometimes Waverly can only stay for a minute, but that minute is always somehow less painful then the other 24 hours of her day.
Its one of Waverly’s long visits, when Nicole is sitting on the floor of her kitchen surrounded by flowers, and she smiles sadly up at the brunette.
She roughly grabs at a pile of petals and slowly lets the crumbled lumps fall through her fingertips.
“It’d be beautiful, you know,” And theres a tear in her eye, “if it didn’t hurt so damn much.”
Waverly holds her as she hiccups up more yellow carnations.
She’s so tired of the colour yellow.
She’s so tired in general.
All of the wheezing, the edible fluttering of petals in her throat every time she takes in a breath, is enough to drive her mad. She hasn’t slept for long then an hour in days, and it’s clear from the dark circles under her eyes.
Yellow stains her shirt and her jeans and her chin and her lips. Between her teeth there is yellow and on her hands there is yellow. It seems that she herself is turning into a fucking yellow flower and she hates it. Hates every damn spec of it. Her eyes hurt from crying and her throat is sore from coughing. Everything is painful.
“Wynonna,” She mumbles one evening from her bed. Wynonna’s come over with Waverly tonight, and, to be honest, Nicole is kind of glad she did. She needs to tell someone that the flowers only stop when the though of Waverly is in her mind. They get worse when she thinks of Champ.
Waverly’s in the other room, feeding Calamity, when she mentions this, and Wynonna’s eyes go wide.
“Nicole… do you think you’re in love with Waverly.”
A second passes but soon she is choking on something, large and burning her throat, it takes her whole momentum forward with every cough, but soon shes spitting whatever was in her mouth onto the bedsheets, right into her lap, where it stains purple.
She almost laughs as she picks up the globe Amaranth, holding it up into the light and squinting at its crumpled beauty.
“Wynonna, I know I am.”
She misses everything thats ever been in her mouth before this time. She misses the alcohol that burned its way down her throat before inevitably coming back up a few hours later. She misses the vanilla donuts she used to make every Sunday, now too tired to even leave her bed, the icing sweet and sticky on top. She misses being able to taste Calamity Jane’s kisses at 6:00 in the morning, no matter how disgusting that is.
She shovels food in as much as she can, but all she tastes is soil on her tongue, thick and heavy and unsettling.
At some point she figures theres no point to eating.
Waverly seems annoyed by that and promptly whips up a batch of banana muffins and a home made lasagna. She eats every morsel of it whilst Waverly tells her about the goings-on of Purgatory. Even though the flowers aren’t there, she can still taste them. Despite not being able to even tell if the lasagne was hot or cold, it’s still the most beautiful thing she’s ever tasted.
One day she leaves. She drives into town with the backseat of her car looking like a florists and yellow stuck between her teeth.
She parks the cruiser in the parking lot of the small grocery store and watches people walk in and out as if it’s nothing.
A mother and her young son come to buy groceries.
A teenager hunting for a pack of gum.
She almost startles at the sight as she watches the nimble figure stride across the parking lot, two cups of coffee in hand and a grocery bag of goody’s hooked onto her elbow. She’s almost in the jeep when she sees her, and frowns instead of waving.
It’s only then that Nicole realises she’s crying. Hot, heavy tears spilling down her cheeks and dripping down her chin. They fall onto the pile of petals that has assembled on her lap.
She watches as Waverly tosses her stuff into her car and jogs over to her, clambering in to the passenger seat. There’s a warmth on her hand before she even registers the door opening.
“Nicole, what’s wrong? What are you doing here? I was just on my way to see you.” She’s rubbing as comfortingly as possible up and down her arm. She looks down and in that moment she doesn’t think she’s ever hated the colour yellow, the way it sticks under her nails and hides in the pores of her skin, this much before.
“I know what’s wrong with me. And its all my fault.” She manages to get out without hiccuping out any more carnations.
“…Who is it, Nicole?” Waverly says and Nicole’s head whips round faster then she ever thought it could.
“Wh-who…” She knows what Waverly’s asking, if the way that she wont meet her eyes is anything to go by, but she needs her to say it.
Of course Waverly knew. And that means she knew there’s no way of saving Nicole.
“Its hanahaki disease, isn’t it? So… Who is it?”
She lets that hang in the air for a second. Then she inhales deeply, feeling the petals in her lungs shivering at the wind that passes through, before answering.
“You. It’s always been you. You’re my catalyst and my cure.”
She didn’t mean for it to sound so painstakingly cheesy, but she knows she’s going to die soon.
She doesn’t expect the brunette beside her to drop her head, shake it, and look back up with a watery smile on her face. She doesn’t expect it when suddenly she’s reaching in to her back pocket and pulling out a handful of blue little bellflowers, crushed and wrinkled but still so beautiful that suddenly both of them are crying.
“And you’re mine.”
Nicole doesn’t really know what to do in this moment, but she can’t stop smiling or crying of hiccuping. She feels it coming a while away, and she cups her mouth with both hands before hacking aggressively into it. The way it comes is so stupidly juxtaposing to it’s meaning but Nicole can’t bring herself to care.
A single rose, a dark crimson, with it’s petals perfect and it’s stem clipped, sits in her hand.
Red is so much more beautiful then yellow.
She laughs and gives it to Waverly, and she laughs too, and then there’s kissing, and Nicole decides that Waverly is her new favourite taste in the world. She can actually taste it. The coffee and the strawberry chapstick mixing in a way so sweet it hurts.
She can no longer taste soil, and there are no flowers coming from her mouth.
It’s just her and Waverly.