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Too young to be so scared

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Waverly had seen her around school, she’d started at the beginning of the new school year, Waverly knew that much but to say that Waverly had really noticed her would be a lie. She had always seen her in passing, a flash of red hair hurrying past her on the way to class but now, as she stood in the doorway to her English class, Waverly definitely noticed her. She was tall and a little lanky but she carried herself well as she walked towards Mr Jackson’s desk and handed him a small piece of paper. Her brown eyes and soft features scanning the room nervously as their teacher read the note, her eyes landed on Waverly and she offered a smile to the newest girl in school. The first transfer student that Purgatory High had got in two years. The girl smiled back and noticed the empty desk beside her, the only one in the class and when Mr Jackson asked her to take a seat she headed directly for it.

“Everyone, this is Nicole Haught. She’s moved up from Ms Lucado’s class, Waverly can you catch her up?” He asked hopefully, knowing full well that Waverly was his top student. Something she prided herself on. Mr Jackson was a good teacher but he only seemed to invest his time in students who proved they wanted to learn, this Nicole girl had obviously still to prove that and so passing off the task of catching her up to Waverly really had not surprised her. She nodded her head and leaned over to Nicole.

“Hi!” She smiled, brightly and held out her hand. Nicole looked at it for a second and then took it in her own to shake. “I have a study period next, if you’re free I could bring you up to speed then?”

“Uh yeah, sure.” Nicole nodded as she looked out her notebook from her backpack, placing it on the desk in front of her along with a couple pens. “Thanks.”

“Not a problem!” Waverly shrugged casually, she always tried to be friendly and helpful and she knew that if Nicole was just moving up to their class now she had already missed quite a bit so she would probably need the help to make sure she didn’t fall behind. Waverly noticed Nicole do her best to keep up with what was being discussed throughout the rest of the class and smiled when she saw her write a few questions down followed by ‘ask Waverly’ in big letters.

Waverly leaned over to Nicole just before the end of class and said to hang back afterwards so they could decide where to go. The bell went and Waverly noticed Nicole tense ever so slightly at the noise and then even more so when Pete slammed his hands down onto his desk as he got to his feet to leave. Mr Jackson shot him a warning look but Pete didn’t seem to even notice. Waverly eyes fell back to Nicole and she watched as Nicole took a few deeps breaths and the tension in her shoulders seemed to loosen. She wondered what it was about but she didn’t think she knew her well enough to just ask and so she settled on a general check.

“Everything alright?” Waverly placed her hand onto Nicole’s arm and she jumped in her seat before her eyes met Waverly’s and she shook whatever had spooked her from her mind.

“Yeah sorry…I’m just a little jumpy.” She looked down at Waverly’s hand still on her arm and the brunette pulled it back to rest on her own desk. “We could go to the library?” Nicole suggested and Waverly agreed that was a great idea.

Purgatory High didn’t have the best library but it did have a fairly good selection of non-fiction that Waverly had been making her way through since she had finished reading all of the worthwhile fiction it had to offer and it was quiet so they would be able to talk without interruption. Most kids spent their study periods on the field that time of year, enjoying the warm days while they still could so finding an empty spot would be easy enough. They walked down the hallway, Nicole falling into step with Waverly as Waverly listed off all the classes that she took after Nicole had asked. Two boys down the hall were play fighting on their way to class and one of them pushed the other into a locker causing Nicole to inhale sharply at the loud noise it created. Waverly was nothing if not observant and it was painfully obvious that Nicole really did not like loud noises.

Waverly led the way through the library, smiling and waving at Mrs. Gibson behind the desk reading yet another trashy romance novel. Waverly really wished the librarian would take as least one book suggestion from her seriously but it really didn’t look like that would be happening before she graduated. They found a desk near the back and Waverly started to unpack her things onto the table as Nicole sat down across from her. When Waverly looked up at her she could tell Nicole was visibly more relaxed than she had been since the beginning of English.

“Nice and quiet here, huh?” Waverly offered with a shy smile, hoping she wasn’t overstepping when she barely knew the girl. Nicole nodded with a sigh but didn’t return Waverly’s smile.

“I kinda had a rough time at my last school…” Nicole said fiddling with the edge of her notebook. “So I like quiet.” She finished, not adding ‘and don’t like loud noises’ although Waverly felt it.

“Sorry to hear that, Nicole. Kids can be cruel!” Waverly knew all too well just how cruel some kids could be, she had always been popular but her sister had dealt with a hell of a lot of bitching and judgment when she was at school. Wynonna was a tough one though and so she gave as good as she got but Nicole didn’t look like she’d be willing to punch someone at the slightest mention of her being a basketcase. Unlike Wynonna.

“Why I was in Lucado’s class before, my grades were pretty bad by the time I left so they stuck me in there before realising I was capable of more.” Nicole was sharing more than Waverly expected her too, it felt nice that she thought she could talk to Waverly. Even if she wasn’t able to make eye contact as she did so.

“Well Lucado’s a total bitch so be glad you’ve moved up! Mr Jackson is really nice if you pay attention in class, you’ll like him, I’m sure!” Waverly smiled and opened her notebook to the page from her first English class of the year, she had a whole page of notes outlining what they’d be doing that year and she pushed it over to Nicole so she could read it. Nicole copied down the relevant information and closed Waverly’s notebook before sliding it back over the table. Waverly noticed her eyes scan her name on the top of the book with a curious look.

“Earp? I’m sure I’ve heard that name somewhere…” Nicole looked off to her side as if trying to recall some memory.

“Probably just some assholes talking about my older sister, Wynonna. She’s got a bit of a reputation in town.” Waverly shrugged trying to not let Nicole see that that was the understatement of the century, even though Wynonna had been gone for over a year she still somehow managed to be a hot topic of gossip.

“No…I don’t think that’s it!” Nicole was drumming her hand lightly on the table as she continued to think. “Ah!” Her eyes shot wide and she reached down into her bag. She produced a book, obviously borrowed from the very library there were sitting in, it was one that Waverly had read a couple times before. She opened up the front page to where the names of students who had borrowed it were written and pointed to the last name on the list before Nicole’s. W. Earp. “You’re name is in pretty much every book I’ve borrowed since I got here.” Nicole laughed and Waverly couldn’t help but shine at the sound. It was light and musical and the smile on Nicole’s face it accompanied was striking. It was a genuine smile and once Waverly laid eyes on her dimples she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She surmised that all the other smiles she had seen from Nicole since they had properly met had been a little forced because none of them looked like this one.

“Yeah…” Waverly blushed and she wasn’t even entirely sure why, people knew she was a total nerd and didn’t seem to care but something about Nicole’s smile hit her right in the stomach and she suddenly felt nervous. “I read a lot.”

“Me too!” Nicole beamed and Waverly returned it. She liked Nicole, she couldn’t understand why she had had such a rough time at her last school and she wasn’t sure why it almost physically hurt her to think about.

They conversed about their favourite literature for a while, Waverly giving her some suggestions of what to read after she had finished her current book and suggesting she make friends with the librarian. That way she could borrow more than the allotted number students were usually allowed to take out. Waverly wasn’t sure if anyone other than her was actually given that luxury but she was sure she could put a good word in for Nicole with Mrs. Gibson. Nicole asked Waverly the questions she had jotted down in class, Waverly was able to answer most of them easily enough but when it came time for them to go their separate ways to their next class something pulled on Waverly, urging her to spend more time with Nicole.

“Do you want to sit with me at lunch? Well, me and my friends…” Waverly quickly added the last part so as to not come off too eager. Nicole was new, she needed friends, Waverly told herself.

“That would be nice yeah, thanks. Just in the cafeteria?” Nicole asked and Waverly nodded with a smile. They agreed to meet just outside so Nicole wouldn’t have to try and find them in the crowd.

Waverly couldn’t stop thinking about Nicole throughout her next class and how much she couldn’t wait to speak to her again. She couldn’t quite figure out what it is about Nicole that had drawn her in so much…maybe she could but she doesn’t even let the thought linger for more than second before she told herself that it is because Nicole was just easy to talk to. They shared similar interests, similar sense of humour and Nicole had such a beautiful smile when she laughed…a nice smile. She had a nice smile. She hoped that her friends didn’t mind her taking the new girl along with her to lunch but she wasn’t actually sure that she cared if they did.

Luckily enough they did not, Chrissy and Steph introduced themselves and when Xavier joined them with the usual unreadable look on his face he nodded at Nicole.

“Done that homework for Torres?” He asked Nicole and Waverly clicked that they must already know each other. Torres taught…Chemistry and Waverly suddenly realised that after she had listed off her own classes she had never bothered to actually ask Nicole what classes she was taking.

“Yeah, think I screwed most of it up though!” Nicole scrunched up her face and Xavier held out his hand making a grabbing motion, Nicole’s face softened and she reached into her bag and handed him the loose sheet of paper. Nicole moved from her seat next to Waverly and sat beside Xavier as they went over it together. Waverly watched them interact, it was probably not the first time he had helped her considering how at ease they both looked and it made Waverly smile. Xavier was one of the nicest guys she knew but he also had a tendency to come off as a bit of an asshole to people who didn’t really know him, something he didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. It always made her happy when he allowed new people into his little bubble.

Unlike most of Waverly’s friends, that she’d known her entire life, Xavier had moved to Purgatory when they were about half way through elementary school. Even back then he tended to keep to himself mostly but he and Waverly hit it off instantly after realizing they had the exact same Spider-man lunchbox. The pair had been friends ever since, bonding over their mutual love of superheroes as kids and then as they grew up the friendship carried on and he became friendly enough with most people that Waverly spent time with, even if it wouldn’t look like it to an outside observer. Waverly was actually the only one who knew that Xavier planned on signing up for the police academy after high school and it didn’t surprise her for a second, he had the strongest moral compass of anyone she had the pleasure of meeting. He stuck up for the little guy whenever he could, sadly that also meant he tended to get himself into trouble at school for fighting fairly often but he just couldn’t stand by when he saw older kids picking on people half their size.

Before they headed to their next class Waverly asked Nicole for her number, just so they could get in contact with each other if she needed anymore help in English. Not at all because she just really really wanted Nicole to have her number. Waverly held out her phone for Nicole to add it to her contacts and then she sent a quick hello text so Nicole could add her to her own. She was pleasantly surprised when a string of texts came through that evening as she sat on her bed doing homework.

Nicole

-Just wanted to say thanks for today. Not made many friends at school yet and you’re really nice xx

-That makes me sound super lame…

-I’m cool, I swear! xx

Waverly laughed to herself as she thought of how to reply, something teasing but not actively mean was probably her best bet.

Waverly

-And I’m just supposed to take your word on that?

Nicole

-Yes please! : )

Waverly

-Well until you prove me otherwise I guess your word will do…you should join us for lunch again tomorrow

Nicole

-Awesome!

-I’ll leave you to get on with…whatever it was you were doing before I bothered you! xx

Waverly

-Not bothering me at all : ) I like talking to you!

Nicole

-I like talking to you too : )

Waverly felt a wide smile stretch across her face as that feeling in her stomach bubbled up again and she threw herself back onto her pillow. What was happening to her?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

Nicole had quickly found herself knitted into Waverly’s group of friends at school, still a little on the outside since she didn’t get most of their inside jokes or know who they were talking about half the time but she felt as if she was getting somewhere. Waverly was popular, surprisingly so Nicole thought, for someone who spent most of their time studying. It wasn’t until one lunch time when Chrissy was complaining that cheer practice just wasn’t the same without Waverly anymore that it made a little more sense. Of course Waverly had been a cheerleader and of course she had decided that in her final year at school she should focus on her studies more because Nicole could tell that Waverly was going places. She was kind, incredibly intelligent, funny, compassionate and open minded.

It was all of these qualities that had made Nicole trust Waverly but putting her trust in someone had got her into trouble before. She wanted to be honest with Waverly, she wanted her to know the real Nicole but her mothers words kept swirling in her head. What if when Nicole decided to reveal that she was gay, Waverly didn’t want to be her friend anymore or worse tell everyone. She couldn’t go through all of that, not again. Her mother had moved them far away so that she wouldn’t have to deal with that again. She knew her mother just wanted what was best for her but asking her not to come out until she was done with high school and at university just felt wrong, like she was pretending to be someone she knew she wasn’t. Her mother assured her people would be more accepting at university but Nicole was sure that Waverly was accepting…she had to be.

The words had been on the tip of her tongue every time they had been alone together at school for the past week and she had finally plucked up the nerve to do it. Just get it out in the open and hope for the best because she wanted to know Waverly and Waverly know her, the real her in return. They were almost out the door, Chrissy and Steph at cheer practice and Xavier in detention because he pushed some kid, who was bullying a younger student, into a locker. Nicole had winced at the sound it made and Waverly gently held onto her arm until she had calmed down. Nicole had never told Waverly outright how badly she hated loud noises and yelling and the sounds of fists hitting flesh but she could obviously tell and she was always ready to help calm her when the flicker of a panic attack started. She had been thinking of someway to thank her and she hoped that letting her in, letting her know why exactly she was such a mess half the time would be a start.

“Waverly, can I tell you something?”

“Hmm?” Waverly had been reading a message on her phone but looked up at Nicole and smiled. “Oh, yeah. Of course!”

“Babygirl!!” A voice shrieked from the parking lot and Nicole closed her eyes for a brief second before Waverly’s hand found her forearm but it was gone almost as soon as it had come and Waverly was running towards the source of the noise.

“Wynonna!!” Waverly jumped into the girls arms and it took a second for Nicole’s momentarily jarred brain to process the information. Wynonna. Waverly’s sister. Been gone for a year. She must be back for a visit. “I just got your message!” Nicole had found herself walking towards the pair who were still hugging enthusiastically, not wanting to interrupt, she hung back a bit until they had released each other from the embrace.

“Sup, Red!” Wynonna nodded to Nicole but she looked behind her to double check that it was actually directed at her. It was. “You this new friend Waves here can’t shut up about?”

“Wynonna, shut up!” Waverly spoke through gritted teeth and then smiled at Nicole, she looked nervous and Nicole couldn’t understand why. “Nicole, this is my sister Wynonna. Wynonna this is Nicole.”

“Nice to meet you!” Nicole smiled, trying to politely ignore the blush that was still showing a little on Waverly’s cheeks. “You just back to visit?”

“Yeah, for a while. Ran out of cash!” Wynonna shrugged and Nicole smiled at the way Waverly rolled her eyes, clearly this was not a new thing for Wynonna to do. “Sorry I missed your birthday the other week, babygirl.”

“It’s alright, least you called this year!” Waverly playfully slapped her sisters arm.

“It was your birthday?” Nicole instantly felt bad, she hadn’t even known about it.

“Yeah, it’s no big deal. I don’t really celebrate it.” Waverly waved her hand at Nicole, obviously sensing how bad she felt about not knowing. It hadn’t seemed like anyone had known about it, no one had mentioned it during the lunches they all spent together. Nicole figured it could have been on a weekend but surely at least one person would have wished her a happy birthday if it was coming up and they wouldn’t see her on the day unless she really didn’t celebrate it.

“Well, normally I’m all for that but eighteen is a big one!” Wynonna hugged Waverly again and placed a sloppy kiss to her cheek as Waverly tried to wriggle free. “Want to meet us at Shorty’s later, Red? Post birthday celebrations!”

“Oh thanks but you guys should catch up!” Nicole didn’t want to impose when Waverly hadn’t seen her sister in so long but Waverly pouted and bounced over to her.

“Come on! We only ever hang out at school!” Waverly took her hand and started playing with her fingers as her eyes pleaded with Nicole to say yes. How could she not when a pretty girl was practically begging her to and she really did feel bad for not knowing about her birthday.

“Ok, ok! What time should I see you guys there?” Nicole acted like it was a hard decision to make but it really wasn’t. Waverly grinned and told her to meet them there around seven. Wynonna reached behind her and picked up a spare helmet before chucking it at Waverly as she turned away from Nicole, Nicole had only just noticed the bike that was propped up behind Wynonna. Waverly put the helmet on as Wynonna pulled on hers and they both hopped up onto the bike.

“See you later, Red!” Wynonna’s voice came out a little muffled through the helmet.

“Her name is Nicole!” Waverly scolded Wynonna as she started the engine and drove away. Nicole gulped. Waverly on the back of a motorcycle was not a sight she was prepared for. And she hadn’t managed to speak to Waverly. Again.

She groaned as she made her way through the car park and out onto the street. She knew she wouldn’t get a chance to speak to her tonight at Shorty’s, she had only walked past the diner once before but she knew that it was a popular hang out spot for the high schoolers. There were a couple pool tables, a few classic arcade games and apparently the food was pretty good too.

Nicole asked her mom as soon as she got home if she could go hang out at Shorty’s that evening, she gave Nicole some money to spend while she was out. Nicole could tell her mom was glad that she was making friends and asked her all about Waverly as they ate dinner together. It was nice to talk about Waverly to someone else, Nicole knew herself just how much the friendship was helping her feel better about being in a new town but speaking it aloud made it feel all the more real.

“You should invite her round for dinner sometime, I’m not working until Friday this week.” Nicole’s mom suggested and Nicole instantly knew it was something she wanted. Waverly in her house, in her space and getting to know her away from school.

“Yeah, I’ll ask her tonight if she’d like to come. Maybe tomorrow?” Nicole knew it was soon but now that the idea had settled into her head she couldn’t wait to have it become reality. Her mom said that would be fine and she had to control the smile that desperately tried to cover her entire face.

Nicole got ready to head to Shorty’s after dinner, not really sure what she wanted to wear she changed multiple times and stared at herself in the mirror when she finally settled on a blue flannel over an old spider-man t-shirt and the same jeans she had worn to school. It was casual but she hoped she looked at least a little cool. She wanted Wynonna to like her and Wynonna seemed unfairly cool.

Shorty’s was fairly busy when Nicole had arrived but Wynonna had already commandeered the pool table in the corner, her leg stretched out onto it from the bar stool she was sat on. Eyes warding off anyone who even attempted to think about playing a game. Nicole walked over to where the sisters were sharing a plate of fries. After offering to get them each something to drink and heading back over balancing the tray with three cokes on her hand, Wynonna jumped up from her stool and thrust a cue into her hand.

“Waverly is refusing to play with me!” Wynonna groaned picking up the coke and dumping a healthy amount of whiskey inside, really not trying to hide what she was doing at all. Apparently it wasn’t that hard to get Wynonna to like you, buy her a drink that she could pour her own whiskey into from the flask in her jacket and you were in. “You any good?”

“I’m alright…” Nicole shrugged, she could hold her own at pool she knew that much but she hadn’t exactly had much time to get good at it. Wynonna had already set up the table and they flipped a coin to see who would break, Nicole won the toss and their game began.

Wynonna was better than Nicole by a long shot but Nicole thought she was holding back a little even when she potted the eight-ball while Nicole still had four of her own still on the table. Nicole sighed in defeat and Wynonna slid along the floor to bounce her hip off of Nicole’s but with Nicole being that much taller than her it ended up hitting her thigh.

“Jeez, how old are you anyway Red?” Wynonna stood next to her using her hand to gauge the difference in height between them. “Like twenty-five?”

“I’m eighteen!” Nicole laughed and playfully pushed Wynonna away from her. “My mum is even taller than I am, she doesn’t think I’ve stopped growing yet but I really hope I have!” Nicole remembered about asking Waverly for dinner the next night, she turned around to ask her but she had disappeared over to the counter and was speaking to the older man behind it.

“Well you don’t want to get much taller, most girls don’t like dating someone who’s like four times their height!” Wynonna cackled and Nicole’s eyes went wide, how had she known? Wynonna watched her curiously and then turned her mouth into an ‘o’. “Shit, didn’t mean to assume I just, y’know?” Wynonna tracked her hand up and down Nicole, she looked down at herself and sighed. It was a pretty gay outfit.

“No…you’re right. I just…I haven’t had a chance to tell Waverly yet so maybe don’t say anything to her until I have?” Nicole looked back over to where Waverly had been standing but she was now on her way back over with a tray of milkshakes.

“My lips are sealed!” Wynonna grabbed her shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. “She’s not gonna care, if you’re worried about that!”

“No..I know, it’s just I don’t want things to change. She’s like my only real friend here.” Nicole lowered her voice, very aware that Waverly was getting closer. She was friendly with a few other people at school but she only wanted to spend real time with Waverly. Xavier was fine too but he seemed to have the whole lone wolf thing going on half the time and Nicole sometimes felt like she was bothering him with her friendship.

“Well you got me now too, Red! You’re pretty cool.” Wynonna winked at her and she felt any lingering stress over Wynonna not liking her dissipate. She knew from what little Waverly had said about her sister that Wynonna didn’t like a lot of people in Purgatory, they liked to talk about her but Nicole didn’t really know why. Waverly had yet to share that information and she wouldn’t push her to. Maybe having someone who didn’t really know much about her was exactly what Wynonna needed in a friend, Nicole was more than happy to be that friend. Waverly set the milkshakes down on the table and asked what they were talking about.

“My mom wanted me to invite you over for dinner some time, maybe tomorrow?” Nicole managed to say quick enough that she hoped it didn’t show the initial panic at coming up with something other than the truth. “Wynonna you’d be welcome too, if you want to come?”

“We’re in!” Waverly answered for the both of them and Nicole was thrilled. “Get to meet Mrs. Haught, how exciting!” As if on cue Wynonna started with the Haught puns, Nicole liked it better when she just called her Red.

Wynonna was on Haught pun number five, if Nicole was keeping count correctly when a guy she reognised from school sauntered over to their table and leaned in the space between Nicole and Waverly. He had his back to Nicole as if she didn’t exist and he hadn’t just been extremely rude by jumping in the middle of her conversation with Waverly.

“Doing anything Friday, Waverly?” Champ, Nicole remembered he was called, asked Waverly in a confident tone that Nicole assumed probably did get him a lot of positive results. She put her annoyance at the situation unfolding before her down to his rude gesture of ignoring her very existence at the table.

“No, Champ and for the last time I will not go out with you…can we be done with this now? It didn’t work every other time, why do you think it’d work now?” Nicole could hear the frustration pouring out of Waverly’s words and she was actually proud of her for being so direct. Far too many girls, in Nicole’s opinion, tried to let obviously persistent guys like Champ down easy. Champed scoffed and turned his head to Wynonna, Nicole now able to see the sleazy smile fixed on his face.

“Wynonna?” He winked and Wynonna instantly gagged, Nicole had to cover her mouth to stop the laugh from escaping.

“First of all. Gross. You’re in high school. Second, you hit on my sister in front of me and then me? I am a first choice or get lost kinda gal.” Wynonna flicked her fingers in his direction ushering him to do exactly that, get lost. Nicole smiled at her as she took the final sip of her milkshake and Champ stomped away. “That boy is a grade A douche.” Waverly hummed in agreement and Nicole just smiled.

“I’m gonna grab a water, Wynonna, Waves you want anything?” Nicole looked at them both and a strange smile appeared on Waverly’s face. “What?”

“You called me ‘Waves’!” She beamed and Nicole hadn’t even realised she had, she knew she liked the way it sounded when Wynonna used it but she hadn’t actually planned to use it herself. It seemed like their thing, she hadn’t heard people at school call her anything other than Waverly. Nicole’s eyes darted away from hers, a little embarrassed. “It’s ok, I like the way you say it but no I’m alright, thank you!” Nicole looked at Wynonna who was staring at the pair across from her and only shook her head when she realised Nicole was waiting for an answer.

Nicole groaned internally as she saw that Champ was currently sitting at the counter exactly beside where she needed to order. She didn’t like him one bit and she had only just had the briefest of encounters with him. Her opinion of him dropped even lower when she overheard the conversation he was having with the guy sitting next to him.

“That Waverly’s a real frigid bitch…and Wynonna god she’s hot, can you imagine how crazy she would be in bed.” This earned a laugh from the other guy, Nicole cleared her throat to alert them to her presence and to maybe stop them being total assholes. He turned his head, grunted and continued in the same vain. Going on about it being a shame that Wynonna is such a nutcase until his friend got up to use the bathroom.

“You should really watch your mouth.” Nicole said through gritted teeth and instantly didn’t know why she didn’t keep her thoughts to herself, she didn’t want Champ to argue back or hit her or worse and her heart rate started to rise. Champ turned in his stool and squared her with a look that told her he had no intention of letting what she said slide.

“What are you going to do about it, huh?” He got right up in her face but she had had enough of being intimidated for a lifetime and her fist connected with his face before she even realised what she’d done. He fell backwards off the stool and onto the floor clutching his nose. Blood was already pouring out of it into his hand as he began trying to get himself up off the floor. Everyone in the diner was watching her, or at least it felt like it. Nicole took a step back, fully realising what she had just done. She didn’t feel like any air she was breathing in was actually making it to her lungs. She took another step backwards and her back came up against Wynonna standing behind her followed quickly by Waverly asking what the hell had just happened.

The man from behind the counter made his way round, picking Champ up off the floor and walking him out the door. Nicole noted how he didn’t even ask if he was alright, maybe nobody liked Champ? Waverly was stood in front of her when her wide eyes left the doorway and the man walking back in their direction.

“Let me see your hand!” Waverly lifted Nicole’s hand that was still clenched into a fist and gently pried her fingers away from her palm, looking it over for any sign of damage. It stung but Nicole was sure she hadn’t broken anything, she was pretty good at making a fist. Nicole saw the man come and stand directly behind Waverly with a hand on her shoulder, Waverly turned and gave him a shy smile. “Sorry, Shorty…”

“Hey, if she didn’t punch him I was gonna! Don’t worry about it kid!” He nodded to Nicole who was a little shocked, she had just punched someone in his establishment without a second thought to how it would look to other customers and he didn’t even mind. He clearly really did not like Champ…or maybe he just really liked the Earp girls.

“I freakin’ love you Haughtshit!” Wynonna wrapped her arms around Nicole’s neck and kissed her cheek. “That is by far the best thing I’ve seen all year!” Nicole tried not to laugh at that but it came out anyway, Waverly did not look too happy though.

“You shouldn’t have done that Nicole, what if he makes things difficult for you…” Waverly tightened her grip on Nicole’s hand, the extra pressure hurt a little but she didn’t mind at that moment because Waverly was right. Champ could threaten her or get her back another time when she didn’t have a diner full of people watching what he might do. Her breathing spiked and Waverly ran a hand up her arm to Nicole’s shoulder, squeezing gently until Nicole’s lungs felt like they were getting the oxygen they needed.

“Come on, Waves. As if Chump is gonna let on he got his nose busted by a girl !” Wynonna laughed and Nicole really hoped she was right, she didn’t want to have that to worry about again. It felt so good to hit him though and shut him up. She had never hit someone when it wasn’t in self defense before, she had really hoped she would never have to hit anyone again.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly wasn’t sure what she was expecting Nicole’s mom to be like but she definitely did not expect her to be so young. She must have had Nicole before she turned eighteen…or the Haught’s just had exceptional genes. Both of which were probably true in Waverly’s opinion.

Wynonna was on her best behaviour thank god because Waverly had begged her and it was much like any other situation that she had met a friend’s parents for the first time, lots of questions about what you wanted to do when you left school. Susan Haught not being from Purgatory though, she also wanted to know more about the town and Waverly being a bit of a local history nerd managed to impress her with little facts all throughout dinner. At one point she did see Wynonna roll her eyes as she laid out another tidbit for Susan and was pleasantly surprised when Nicole gently kicked Wynonna’s leg under the table to get her to stop before Waverly had the chance to.

Susan went to sort dessert in the kitchen, leaving the three girls alone in the dining room of what was actually a really beautiful house. Waverly had passed it before, she couldn’t remember who had lived in it previously but she had always thought it looked nice.

“You’re mom is super cool, Nicole!” Waverly grinned over at her from across the table and Nicole nodded but didn’t seem particularly pleased with Waverly’s assessment.

“Yeah, she’s alright when she’s not getting me to pretend to be someone I’m not.” Nicole muttered, low but Waverly caught it. She didn’t know what to make of the comment and before she could ask Nicole to elaborate, Susan was carrying four bowls and a tub of ice cream into the room.

In true Wynonna fashion, she left almost as soon as the meal was over not wanting to hang around for post-dinner social niceties. At least she actually thanked Susan and Nicole for having her over before she almost ran out the door. Waverly really appreciated that Nicole was getting on so well with her sister, neither of them had many friends in town and both of them deserved more.

Nicole’s asked if Waverly wanted to watch a movie and she didn’t feel like leaving so she gladly followed Nicole up the stairs to her room. Her bedroom was immaculate and Waverly wondered if she had made sure it was before she came round or if it was actually always like that. She could picture Nicole being an incredibly organised person but she could also picture her rushing around making the place look presentable simply because she had guests coming round. Nicole let Waverly look around the room, read over the titles of the books on her bookcase and checked out her DVD collection before she suggested they watch Young Frankenstein.

“It’s in black and white but it’s one of my favourites. It’s really funny!” Nicole joined Waverly beside her DVDs which were organised alphabetically. Incredibly organised, Waverly decided. She pulled the case from the shelf and held it out for Waverly to look at. Waverly had never seen it but if it was one of Nicole’s favourites she was sure she’d enjoy it.

They settled onto Nicole’s bed, a single and Waverly remembered why she was so happy when Gus decided she could get a double bed after her old frame had finally provided its last night of comfort. There just simply wasn’t enough room to get really comfy unless they were to lie cuddled into each other and Waverly was definitely definitely not thinking about that. She was enjoying the movie but what Nicole had said when her mom was out the room earlier had been bugging her and she had to find out if everything was ok.

“Nicole…what did you mean earlier about your mom making you pretend to be someone you’re not?” Nicole stiffened beside her and she worried she had overstepped. She started scratching the back of her hand too forcefully, the same way she did when she needed to walk through the halls at school, with all the noises and people around her making her uneasy. Waverly reached over and pulled her nails away from her skin. “You don’t have to explain if you don’t want to, I just wanted to check that you’re alright.”

“I want to…I’ve been meaning to for a while actually but I just don’t want things to be different between us.” Nicole's hand tried to move back to scratch but Waverly kept a firm grip on it. Nicole sighed. “I like girls…I’m gay. That’s why I got bullied at my old school. Someone found out about me and my…this girl. My mom wants me to keep it quiet til I go to University, she’s worried it’ll just start all over again.” Nicole little speech came out so fast that Waverly wasn’t entirely sure she had caught it all.

“Oh.” Waverly’s hands loosened around Nicole’s as she felt a flutter in her stomach that she couldn’t quite identify. Had she eaten something weird that day?

“Yeah…I wanted to tell you before but then I kept thinking ‘what if she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore’ and I kept losing my nerve. It was silly ‘cause I know you’re really cool and you’d totally be ok with it…you are ok with it right?” Nicole asked and if it was possible, looked even more nervous than before she had started talking.

“Of course I am, Nicole!” Waverly said confidently. “It was bad? The bullying? Well obviously it was bad but…”

“I got beaten up a lot and I used to get threats online from kids at school, someone even managed to find my private tumblr and told everyone about it…just so much shit I can’t even talk about yet.” Nicole eyes were glassing over and Waverly grew concerned that she would burst into tears any second. “It was so horrible, Waverly.” Waverly wrapped her arm around Nicole’s slumped shoulders and pulled her into a hug. Nicole’s tears came hard and fast as soon as her head hit Waverly’s neck.

“Hey, it’s ok. I’m not going to tell anyone you don’t want to know. That’s never going to happen to you ever again, ok?” Waverly rubbed small circles onto Nicole’s back as she let her cry it out. She couldn’t imagine how bad it must have been for Nicole to have to move. She felt overwhelming hatred for the people who had made Nicole feel like that for something she couldn’t control. “What about your girlfriend? Was she at your school as well?”

“Yeah…but she he wasn’t my girlfriend.” Nicole laughed but Waverly thought it sounded fake and when she raised her head to look at Waverly their was no sign that it had been real. “I thought she was but after everyone found out she said she wasn’t like me…that she was just doing what I had asked her to. God, I probably would have done the same if I had any idea how bad it was going to get. It just made it worse, people didn’t just know I was gay, they thought I had forced her into it…made her do things she didn’t want to do!” Nicole closed her eyes, the memories obviously a painful thing to relive and Waverly took hold of one of her hands again and squeezed it softly.

“I’m really sorry that happened to you, Nicole. She didn’t deserve you…” Waverly hated that someone Nicole trusted had done something so horrible even if it was out of fear. There was no way that what she had done didn’t make things worse for Nicole. “You can trust me, always!”

“Thank you.” Nicole sniffed and wiped the final tears away from her face, Waverly thought she looked a little relieved to have told Waverly. “Every cloud has a silver lining though, right?”

“What do you mean?” Waverly questioned, gently rubbing her thumb over the hand that she was still holding.

“Well if none of that ever happened, I wouldn’t have met you!” Nicole said with a smile and Waverly could not explain the sheer warmth that it sent through her.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Waverly returned Nicole’s smile and her eyes returned to the movie that had been continuing on the screen as they talked. She’d lost track of what was actually going on but it was nice just sitting with Nicole. She was glad that Nicole felt she could trust her with something so personal and Waverly was not going to betray that trust. She hadn’t noticed that she was still holding onto Nicole’s hand until Nicole shifted to sit more comfortably. She let it go but instantly missed the comfort she hadn’t realised it had been providing. She thought about taking it back but Nicole had moved to clasp both of her hands on her lap.

When it really was time for Waverly to head home, even if she didn’t actually want to, Nicole walked her out. She said goodbye to Susan, she wasn’t sure how to feel about her now but Nicole hadn’t seemed angry at her mom’s insistence of keeping her sexuality quiet, more…frustrated. Waverly thought about how it would be impossible for Nicole to meet a nice girl if no one actually knew that she liked girls. She hadn’t put much thought into girls at her school being anything other than straight but now that she was, her stomach twisted at the idea of Nicole finding a girlfriend in Purgatory.

She was positive she had to have eaten something weird that day.

“Something wrong?” Nicole asked Waverly as she stood on the front step, Nicole leaning on the door frame looking at her curiously. Waverly realised her brow was furrowed thanks to the thoughts running through her mind and she loosened it as best she could.

“No…just tired, I guess. See you tomorrow, Nicole!” Waverly turned on her heel and sped down the driveway onto the path. She chanced a look over her shoulder but Nicole had already gone back inside. She couldn’t figure out why that bothered her.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole felt so much better after telling Waverly, lighter, just having her know who she really is was better than hiding from everyone at school. She wondered if she should have mentioned that Wynonna already figured it out but when there wasn’t a chance to bring it up naturally that night in her room, she reasoned that it would come around eventually. That brought the grand total of people who really knew who she was in Purgatory to three, Wynonna, Waverly and her mom. She really hoped that if that circle got any bigger it would be alright.

The Earp sisters had quickly become her favourite people in town and she was so glad when they felt that Nicole was worth hanging out with more and more. They had almost become inseparable, Nicole and Waverly meeting up with Wynonna after school and going to Shorty’s or watching movies and playing video games at Nicole’s place. Well, Wynonna and Nicole played while Waverly half-paid attention to whatever game they were playing that day and if Nicole’s mom was around would talk to her. Waverly liked hearing about her job as a nurse and apparently Waverly had a pretty substantial knowledge of medicine that Nicole imagined she had picked up from one of the thousands of books she seemed to have read. Waverly always suggested to hang out at Nicole’s place though, never her own house which Nicole found a little odd. She wanted to ask Waverly about that but figured it was best not to push her, if she wanted to tell Nicole why that was, she would have.

So it did surprise her when one day, as they were making their way out of school, Waverly asked if she’d like to come round to dinner. Nicole immediately said yes and then tried to play it cool but by the massive grin on Waverly’s face she was pleased with Nicole’s eagerness. That is how she found herself sitting on the couch in the Mcready’s house, trying to not so obviously look at all the pictures of young Waverly and Wynonna on the mantel. Waverly or Wynonna had never mentioned that they didn’t live with their parents and suddenly it made more sense that Nicole hadn’t been invited over before. If Nicole hadn’t been so polite she would have asked why as soon as she got there and was introduced to their aunt Gus. But again, she knew that if either of them wanted to explain they would.

Her and Wynonna were alone in the living room as Gus and Waverly prepared dinner together, Nicole was enjoying hearing the musical notes of Waverly’s laugh travelling through the house while Wynonna was incessantly flicking through the channels trying to find something she wanted to watch. This was the first time that her and Wynonna had been alone for any length of time since the day they first met and so she wanted to tell her that Waverly knew about her now too.

“I finally told Waverly by the way…I don’t know if she mentioned.” Although Nicole didn’t like having doubts about her ability to trust Waverly, she unfortunately just had doubts about trusting anyone.

“Huh?” Wynonna’s eyes left the television and focused in on Nicole, clearly not understanding what she had meant. Nicole didn’t elaborate though, she just waited for the pieces to fall into place in Wynonna’s head. “Oh right! No, she didn’t say anything.” Wynonna shrugged and went back to channel hopping. The tightness in Nicole’s chest loosened and she sighed with relief. Waverly seemed to tell Wynonna everything so knowing that she hadn’t said anything to her meant a lot.

“She was fine with it, just like you said. Think that helped me tell her…so thanks!” Nicole smiled to herself and Wynonna just nodded her head in acceptance of her gratitude. One thing she had learned about Wynonna the past few weeks was that she did not take compliments well but that wouldn’t stop Nicole from dishing them out to her when they were due.

The front door opened and she heard someone whistling as they came down the hallway towards the living room. Nicole followed Wynonna’s eyes as they moved to the doorway and saw who she presumed to be their uncle standing there.

“Hi.” Nicole smiled and stood up from the couch, the way her mother had raised her to whenever she was meeting someone new.

“Hello!” He smiled at Nicole and then to Wynonna who was apparently not going to introduce Nicole. He cleared his throat and Wynonna rolled her eyes.

“Curtis, Red. Red, Curtis.” She waved her hand between them and Nicole’s smile grew, she really liked it when Wynonna called her Red. She’d never had a nickname that wasn’t actively mean or had something to do with her last name.

“Nicole.” She leaned over the back of the couch and held her hand out to Curtis who shook it firmly with a smile. “Waverly invited me over for dinner, I hope that’s alright?”

“The more the merrier! Nice to meet you Nicole.” His smile was warm and his eyes caring, he seemed like he genuinely meant it. “How was your day Wynonna?”

“Same old, got turned down for three jobs today!” Wynonna pumped her fist in the air. “Apparently being able to finish a bottle of whiskey in one sitting isn’t classed as a special skill! Who knew?!”

“Everyone, Wynonna! Literally everyone.” Waverly appeared behind Curtis and hugged him as she looked up at him with pure affection. He returned the hug with a wide smile and kissed the top of her head.

“Well Shorty told me he’s hiring, I’m sure you’d be welcome back there!” Curtis suggested and Nicole finally made sense of Shorty’s affection for the Earp girls.

“Not a chance. I will not shit where I eat ever again!” Wynonna laughed and Nicole watched as Curtis narrowed his gaze on her before she apologised for her language, accenting it with a roll of her eyes.

“He is? Maybe I should apply…” Waverly spoke to Curtis who just smiled and nodded encouragingly. “Oh, dinner is ready!” Waverly clapped her hands together as if she had suddenly remembered why she had come through to the living room in the first place and everyone headed through to the kitchen to eat. Waverly hung back as Wynonna and Curtis passed her by, looking straight at Nicole with a look she couldn’t quite decipher.

“Hey.” Nicole bumped Waverly with her shoulder which earned her a giggle before Waverly returned the gesture. “I like them. Your aunt and uncle.”

“Yeah?” Waverly beamed and the look from before disappeared. “Good, I think they’ll like you too!” Waverly slung her arm through Nicole’s and walked them through the house.

Dinner at the Mcready’s was decidedly different from at her own, Wynonna had been pretty well behaved when she had met Nicole’s mom, something she had been very thankful for because if Wynonna had acted how she normally did maybe her mom wouldn’t have been so keen on Nicole spending time with her. Seeing her in her element here though, Nicole thoroughly enjoyed. She always had a snappy retort for whatever Gus said as they ate, Nicole could tell that while Gus acted like she didn’t appreciate them, the look in her eye said otherwise. It must have been very quiet in the house while she was gone and both her and Curtis seemed pleased that she had finally come home. Even if it wasn’t going to be permanent. Whatever circumstances had led Wynonna and Waverly to end up living here, Nicole was glad they were well looked after here by people who seemed to care about them both a lot.

In the back garden of the house there was a small fire pit and Waverly enthusiastically suggested they light it after dinner. Soon it would be too cold to spend the evening outside and Waverly wanted to have one last night out there. Even though she was the one who brought it up, Waverly sat down next to Nicole on the porch as they watched Wynonna and Curtis set up the kindling and start the fire down the bottom of the garden. Gus finished up the dishes in the kitchen, by hand because apparently having a dishwasher was cheating. Something Nicole’s mom definitely would not agree with her on. Waverly looked content just watching her sister and uncle bicker about the right way to build a fire and Nicole really didn’t want to bring her down but her curiosity was getting the better of her.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to but how come you live here and not with your parents?” Nicole didn’t hold Waverly’s gaze but checked quickly to see that she hadn’t totally ruined a really nice evening. Waverly didn’t look like the question had upset her so that was a start but she did let out long breath, buzzing her lips as she did so.

“It’s a long story but basically my mom left when I was really young. Like three or four, I don’t remember her really. My dad was a bit of a…well he was a raging alcoholic. A few years after she left Gus offered to take us in and he took her up on the offer pretty quick. Don’t think he ever really wanted to be a dad y’know?” Waverly’s shoulders slumped and Nicole put a comforting hand on her knee, she nodded her head and offered a small smile. “He passed away when I was thirteen. I guess I should miss him but I never really knew him so it’s hard. I think about my mom a lot though but no one knows where she is. She’s never told me but I think that’s why Wynonna travels about all the time, just hoping that one day she’ll bump into her…as weird as that sounds considering I don’t think either of us would even recognize her if she walked through the door tomorrow!”

“It’s not weird. My dad left before I was born and I think about what it would be like to just run into him all the time. My parents were really young when my mom got pregnant.” Nicole shrugs and Waverly’s expression softened, Nicole hadn’t told Waverly about her dad before. She had probably figured out by how young her mom was now just how young she was when she had Nicole and she probably just assumed that her parents were divorced or something. “Sometimes I think I should hate him for leaving, for never getting to know me but my mom always said he wasn’t ready to be a father. Better he leave and be happy than stay and be miserable!” Nicole knew it took her mom a long time to come to that conclusion but Nicole was sure it was the best way to live her life. If she longed for someone who never wanted her it would only hurt more. That didn’t mean she didn’t think about him though, what he was like, what job he had, if he had ever got married or had more kids. She could have half-siblings she didn’t even know about and that always made her feel a little weird.

“Ah hah!” Wynonna’s shout broke Nicole out of her thoughts, she hadn’t realised she’d been staring into Waverly’s eyes since she stopped talking and Waverly cleared her throat as she got to her feet. Nicole’s eyes found the cause of Wynonna’s celebration, she had managed to get the fire going. She had clearly ended up using some lighter fluid judging by the container she was trying hard to hide from Curtis.

Gus joined them once the fire was fully roaring and Curtis was adamant that they should tell ghost stories just like they’d done when Wynonna and Waverly were kids. Every time he started a story though, one of the sisters would interrupt him and reveal the end of the story. Reminding him that he had told that one a million times and that maybe it was scary when they were kids but it wouldn’t work on them now. Curtis just laughed every time and commented that maybe he was getting to old to scare them. Nicole felt so comfortable there, surrounded by Waverly’s family, laughing along with Curtis. She was so glad that she had got to know her and now the rest of them too.

Nicole was sure she could feel Waverly’s eyes on her as she listened to Gus telling a story about the first time they all went camping together. Waverly had been totally against the idea until night had fallen and they had looked up at the sky displaying clear constellations, free of any light pollution. Nicole turned her head to look at her but Waverly’s eyes quickly moved to the fire and Nicole was positive she saw traces of a blush on her cheeks. Maybe it was just the heat from the fire…

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly was feeling things for Nicole. If she was honest, she had been for weeks and probably before Nicole had even told her that she was interested in girls but that had definitely cemented what Waverly was feeling. It was confusing and a little scary because she was sure she had never felt that way about a girl before. Every moment she spent in Nicole’s company was making it clearer that this wasn’t just some crush but she had absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Purgatory was having it’s annual harvest festival at the weekend and normally it was something you’d go to together if you were a couple or in a big group of friends if you were single and Waverly wanted so badly to invite Nicole. Just the two of them, Nicole probably wouldn’t know that it was usually a thing couples did right? She decided to bite the bullet after school one afternoon when they were alone walking home, it didn’t have to mean anything. Even if Waverly really wanted it to. They could go as friends and meet up with Chrissy, Steph and whoever else was going once they’d spent some time there. Alone.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the posters but there’s this festival thing at the weekend!” Waverly said, trying to keep her tone lighthearted and breezy even though she felt like her heart was about to burst right out of her chest. “There’ll be rides, games and food and fireworks! Oh shit…” Waverly sighed, she knew this wasn’t going to work.

“What?” Nicole stared at her as they turned onto Nicole’s street.

“Fireworks…probably not a great idea for someone who doesn’t like loud noises.” Waverly sagged her shoulders, she had been so nervous just to ask Nicole that she hadn’t even thought about the fireworks being an issue. “Never mind…we could do something else?” Waverly noticed Nicole look away from her with a smile, Waverly really liked that smile.

“I can handle fireworks, as long as I know when they are coming I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Nicole looked back to Waverly who was grinning like an idiot, she couldn’t help it. They were just coming up on Nicole’s house and she bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from saying the words she desperately wanted to say.

“Awesome. Well we’ll work out the details, bye!” Waverly offered a quick wave as she walked quickly shaking her head, continuing the journey home instead of saying the words itching to get out. It’s a date. She dared not look back at Nicole who she was sure noticed how awkward she was being. Normally they would hang out for a bit at Nicole’s before Waverly headed home but she wasn’t risking it on a day when all she could think of was asking Nicole on a date.

Waverly hadn’t dated much, she went out with Perry Croft for about six months the previous year but he was older and moved away for school. He wanted to keep seeing her, he wanted a lot of things from her but she wasn’t ready for that yet. She also wasn’t ready to be in a long distance relationship with someone who was about to meet hundreds of girls who were likely willing to give him what he had wanted from Waverly. So she broke up with him, told him to go and have fun and meet new people, fall in love. She knew she didn’t love him and she had a sneaking suspicion that the day she had broken up with him was the day he was going to tell her he was in love with her. Dumping him before he could make his declaration of love had seemed like the kindest thing to do. Perry was a lovely guy, he really was but he just wasn’t right. Nicole felt right.

They solidified their plans during lunch on Friday, Nicole would come round to Waverly’s and they would head over to the festival together. Waverly caught Chrissy listening in to their conversation and shot Waverly a questioning look but Waverly ignored her. She wasn’t ready to talk to her about it yet even if she was her oldest friend. She knew it was unlikely that Chrissy was going to drop it but until Waverly was ready to talk to her about it, she would brush her off as best she could without being rude.

The moment Waverly got home she was picking out what she wanted to wear, it was going to get chilly as the evening went on and as much as she wanted to wear something that made her look great she knew practicality needed to win. She settled on something both practical and that, she hoped, flattered her figure. She told Gus and Curtis where she’d be and when Wynonna overheard she asked if she could tag along. Waverly managed to convince her that she should go with the new guy she’d be seeing, it took a little while and a forceful glare but she got what she wanted eventually.

A car horn went off right outside, confused, Waverly looked out the living room window to see Nicole leaning casually against a car that Waverly didn’t even know she had. She said her goodbyes and skipped down the front steps as she took in the shiny blue paint job.

“When did you get this?” Waverly smiled, running her fingers along the hood of the car. It didn’t look brand new by any means but for some reason Waverly felt it really suited Nicole.

“My mom surprised me when I got home from school today!” Nicole beamed and opened the driver side door to get in. Waverly followed her inside the car as she continued talking. “I didn’t really need one back home but she figured I could use one here seeing as there is zero public transport!” Nicole watched Waverly run both her hands over the dashboard admiring it as she put on her seatbelt. “You like it?”

“I love it! It’s perfect!” Waverly turned and gave her biggest smile, it faltered for a split second when Waverly’s brain was taken over by thoughts of having a private place to make out with Nicole. Nicole seemed to process her change in expression and raised an eyebrow in question. “Uh…are you a good driver?” Nice save, she thought to herself, question her driving skills. Idiot.

“Well I got here in one piece, didn’t I?” Nicole teased as she started the engine and pulled away. “I’m a good driver, Waves. No need to worry!” Waverly pulled on her seatbelt and hoped that it didn’t look like she was now worried about her crashing. Why did she have to think about kissing Nicole at that very moment?

Almost as soon as they got to the festival, Nicole found a game she wanted to play and Waverly learned something new about her. Nicole was fiercely competitive and when she set her mind to something she went all in to get it. It was a basketball game and all she had to do was put three out of five balls through one of the hoops, however the baskets moved around as soon as the game started. She saw a stuffed bear that she really wanted to win and she was going to get it. It only took three tries before she managed and the look of satisfaction on her face as she was handed the, admittedly really cute bear, made Waverly laugh. Nicole asked if Waverly wanted to play but she already had a game in mind that both of them could have fun playing together.

It was the classic filling up a balloon with a water pistol, they could play at the same time and Waverly knew she was good at it. She really liked competitive Nicole and she wanted to see what Nicole would be like competing against her. Nicole rubbed her hands together mischievously as they both sat down next to each other.

“I hope you know I’m really good at this one!” Nicole winked and Waverly narrowed her eyes as she picked up the water pistol that was attached to the table. As much as she really enjoyed smug Nicole, she was not willing to lose. She held her comeback in until just before the attendant was about to start the game and then she pounced.

“And I hope you know you’re really cute when you think you’re going to win!” Waverly watched as Nicole’s eyes went wide and she started coughing before turning and firing her gun. It took a couple seconds before Nicole’s surprise past and her gun started spraying water in the right direction but it was too late. Waverly’s balloon was already almost full and she threw her arms in the air in victory as the attendant asked her what prize she would like. She pretended to think about it but she had already decided which one she wanted to get as soon as she sat down. A ridiculously fluffy stuffed ginger cat, she hugged it to her chest as she turned around to show Nicole.

“You cheated!” Nicole pouted but she couldn’t stop it from morphing into a smile and Waverly giggled. She was having such a good time with Nicole and she was feeling braver every second they spent together.

“Well…I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true so is that really cheating?” Waverly narrowed her eyes on Nicole and watched as she took in what Waverly had just said, Waverly couldn’t decipher how she took it. God it was hard figuring out if girls liked you, boys were easy. If they liked you, they would usually just try and kiss you or ask you out or at least get one of their friends to ask you out for them. “I think I’m going to call it Nicole!” Waverly pushed the ginger cat straight into Nicole’s face and laughed as she batted it away from her.

“Well as long as she knows I was here first, I think I’m ok with that!” Nicole’s eyes burned into Waverly’s and all the confidence she had been feeling up until that moment seemed to disappear under Nicole’s gaze. She was sure there was something there, she couldn’t just be imagining all the long stares and the lingering touches that she had never experienced with any of her other friends. It brought the nervous thoughts back, how she didn’t know how to really do this even if Nicole did like her back. She darted her eyes away from Nicole and found Chrissy and Steph sitting at a table with a tray of fries between them.

“Let’s go get something to eat! I’m starving!” She looped her arm through Nicole’s and walked them over to where her friends were sitting. They dropped of their stuffed animals on the table next to the three that Steph had been won by a hopeless boy dying for her affections and joined the queue for the food truck.

“How long til the fireworks?” Nicole looked down at Waverly after she’d ordered their food. “Reckon we’ll have time to head back to my car for a sec?”

“Uh yeah, probably. They start in like half an hour.” Waverly smiled up at her, her nerves still getting the best of her as they stood so close in line. She wanted to rest her head on Nicole’s shoulder while they waited for their order to be called, she was sure it was just the perfect height to feel secure but she stopped herself. They stood in silence as they waited, not uncomfortable Waverly thought but nice, peaceful surrounded by all the noise of the food truck, people passing by having a good time and the bells ringing from the games. None of it seemed to be bothering Nicole, which was good. Waverly had been a little nervous that this wouldn’t be Nicole’s thing at all but she thought Nicole looked like she was having a good time.

They sat back down next to Chrissy and Steph who were having a good laugh at Champ. He was trying really really hard to win the strength tester. Every time he brought the hammer down he looked sure it was going to make the bell ring but every time he came just a little short and every time Chrissy and Steph doubled over with laughter.

“I told you those muscles were just for show!” Chrissy prodded Steph in the side as they continued to laugh. Waverly watched as Nicole did her best to look like she wasn’t watching Champ too closely. He hadn’t told anyone at school, as far as Waverly was aware, what Nicole had done at Shorty’s but she knew Nicole was avoiding being anywhere near him just in case. Waverly didn’t want a chance encounter to ruin their evening and Chrissy and Steph’s laughter was only drawing attention to their table.

“Want to run to your car just now?” Waverly put her hand on Nicole’s arm to let her know she understood what was going on in that head of hers and Nicole nodded, keeping an eye out for Champ in case he made his way over. “Ok, let’s go. You guys can finish these!” She pushed the remainder of their food over to the girls across from them and waved goodbye. Chrissy gave her that same look and she knew at some point she was going to have to talk to her about it.

Nicole visibly relaxed the further they got from Champ and after stowing their stuffed animals in the back seat of her car, Nicole opened the trunk. She pulled out a picnic blanket and tucked it under her arm.

“I thought this would be good for watching the fireworks.” Nicole said, a little nervously and Waverly smiled. Of course Nicole would bring something so thoughtful so they wouldn’t have to sit on the cold ground while they watched the display.

“Very good idea! Let’s go find a good spot!” They walked back and Waverly recounted all the times she’d come to the festival with Curtis and Gus but never got to stay for the fireworks because Gus didn’t like them. It wasn’t until she was old enough to go with her own friends that she actually managed to catch them and ever since it’d been her favourite part of the festival. She caught Nicole watching her with a warm smile when she checked to see if Nicole was actually listening to her rambling story, she was and Waverly’s heart pounded in her chest. She was so used to people just tuning her out when she went on and on like that but Nicole seemed hooked on every word.

Nicole let Waverly decide where they would sit, she caught a quick glimpse of Steph’s blonde hair in the distance but picked a spot far away from anyone she really knew. She wanted more time alone with Nicole, even with her confidence wavering she still knew what she wanted. She just wasn’t sure how to get it. Nicole laid out the blanket and settled down before patting the space next to her for Waverly to join. They chatted a little until the display started and then fell into silence as they both watched the colours splay out across the sky before them. When she knew one of the explosions was coming she prepared herself to take a deep breath and do something she’d been wanting to do. Just as the sky lit up once again she settled her head onto Nicole’s shoulder and sighed softly as Nicole bumped her head gently against Waverly’s. It was a tiny gesture but it showed she was more than ok with Waverly being so close. They stayed like that even after the display finished, Waverly asking if Nicole had enjoyed it.

“Hey lovebirds!” Wynonna’s voice sounded behind them and Waverly felt Nicole stiffen up and pull away from her instantly. Waverly’s stomach dropped and she turned to stare at Wynonna, trying really hard not to glare too hard lest she give herself away. Nicole budged up on the blanket and made room for Wynonna and the guy she was with to sit down. Nicole felt further away from Waverly then than she had been all evening and it hurt. “This is John. My sister and Nicole but you can call her Red, I do!” Wynonna winked at Nicole and John sat down stretching his hand out to Waverly first and then Nicole.

“Well you guys can call me Doc. Only my father and Wynonna here seem to call me John.” He rubbed his finger and thumb across his entirely too thick mustache and Waverly swore she heard Nicole stifle a laugh but she still seemed a little uncomfortable after Wynonna’s comment. “Did you two have fun this evening?”

Waverly spoke for a while about what the festival had to offer but Nicole stayed pretty quiet. Wynonna and Doc revealed they had only actually arrived when the fireworks started and so missed the rest of it but neither of them seemed all that bothered about it really. Nicole being the good person that she was offered the pair a lift home when they realised they were some of the last people still milling about. Wynonna took her up on the offer immediately. They wanted dropped at Doc’s place though and that was a little detour but Nicole said she didn’t mind at all. They crammed into the back seat beside the pairs game prizes and off they went. Waverly had to tell Wynonna off for making out with Doc in the back seat a grand total of six times before she shoved them out the car when they finally made it to Doc’s.

“Thanks, Red! Owe you one!” Wynonna threw a thumbs up behind her back as she slapped Doc’s ass on the way up the stairs to his apartment. Nicole rolled her eyes with a laugh as she drove away. Waverly wanted to speak to Nicole about her pulling away from Waverly but if Nicole didn’t want to talk about it she wasn’t sure she could handle the rest of the journey in an awkward silence. Instead she opted for the comfortable silence that felt so easy when she was with Nicole. She’d always felt the need to fill empty space with mindless chatter when she spent time with most people but strangely she simply didn’t when she was with Nicole.

“I hope Wynonna didn’t make you uncomfortable tonight…or bring up bad memories.” Waverly had managed to hold her tongue but as soon as Nicole stopped the car outside of Waverly’s house she couldn’t keep it in any longer.

“No it’s ok, just took me by surprise that’s all.” Nicole ran her hands along the steering wheel, looking out on the road and not at Waverly. “I just wouldn’t want people talking about you or getting the wrong idea because they heard what she said and then saw us sitting so close to each other.” She shrugged and it was killing Waverly that she wasn’t looking at her. Waverly reached over and placed her hand on the side of Nicole’s face, trying to ignore the softness of her cheek so she could say what she wanted to say.

“I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, ok?” Waverly’s thumb brushed against Nicole’s skin and she swore she heard Nicole’s breath catch in her throat. Finally she turned to look at Waverly and everything in her body was telling her to close the gap between them, just kiss her like she’d been thinking about doing for days but what if Nicole didn’t actually want that? What if she totally ruined the best friendship she currently had?

After what felt like an eternity staring at Nicole’s lips she pulled her hand away and joined it with the other resting in her lap. Nicole didn’t look like she was thinking about leaning in, if anything she looked a little shocked that Waverly had been so overly affectionate with her. Maybe Waverly had read whatever was going on between them completely wrong. She stared out the front window and the silence descended again but this time it felt heavier.

“Waverly?” Nicole voice cut through the silence and Waverly turned her head.

“Yeah?” She asked hopefully and watched closely as she saw Nicole’s mind working over what she wanted to say. She couldn’t help but hold her breath in anticipation.

“Thanks for inviting me tonight. I had a really great time.” Nicole swallowed hard and Waverly felt like she had swallowed down the words she really wanted to say but maybe that was just wishful thinking.

“Anytime.” Waverly forced a smile, she had been so sure Nicole was about to say something else. Take the pressure off of Waverly. She reached into the back of the car and grabbed her stuffed cat before opening the car door. “Goodnight, Nicole!” She smiled again and got out the car. As soon as she turned to walk up the stairs inside, her smile faded entirely. She shouldn’t have got her hopes up.

Chapter Text

Nicole didn’t want to read into how Waverly held her face in her car. How amazing it had felt when she brushed her thumb over Nicole’s skin. How much she had missed having someone touch her like that. How it looked like Waverly wanted to kiss her. How she hadn’t been able to think about anything else since.

She didn’t want to think that Waverly liked her because what if she was just being nice, being friendly and comforting Nicole when she thought she needed it? Nicole knew she could have been reading into it, she knew she liked Waverly as more than a friend and that could easily make someone see things that weren’t actually there. Ever since Nicole moved to Purgatory, she had thought Waverly was one of the prettiest girls she had ever seen. She never thought she’d ever get the chance to even speak to her, let alone become friends with her. What if Nicole risked everything by asking Waverly if she felt the same way and it made her feel weird? She was accepting of who Nicole was but maybe she wouldn’t be so tolerant if she found out Nicole was crushing on her, hard. She knew she couldn’t lose Waverly, if she lost Waverly she would lose the only real friend she had in Purgatory and it would be awful. Worse than awful. First and foremost, Waverly was her friend, the best friend Nicole felt she had ever had. She’d never managed to be so herself around anyone before. She couldn’t lose that, no matter how much she wished for more.

She couldn’t get the thoughts out of her head even when her mom dragged her to the store. She pushed the cart around aimlessly as she pretended to listen to whatever nurse was pissing her mom off that week. Moving from a big hospital where she barely worked with the same people more than once a week to the one in Purgatory where she was faced with the same people every single day she worked was apparently not as welcoming as she had imagined. She started her OR rotation the next week though so hopefully she would find some common ground with someone there. Nicole knew her mom needed friends, she needed to feel like she was starting to fit in in town just like Nicole had started to feel since she became friends with Waverly.

“Hellooo?” Nicole shook the thoughts of Waverly from her head as a hand waved in front of her face. “Anyone home, Red?” Wynonna chuckled as she pulled her hand back to rest on Doc’s chest. Nicole’s eyes shot to her mom who had obviously realised she was in a world of her own and hadn’t been paying attention to anything she was saying. She scrunched up her eyebrows and gave her best apologetic smile before looking back at Wynonna.

“Hey, Wynonna!” Nicole forced a smile through the blush she knew was on her cheeks, although it was crazy to think she would know that she had just been thinking about her little sister, embarrassment shot through her. Wynonna was still in the same clothes as she had been last night before only now she had Doc’s jacket over her shoulders instead of her usual leather one. “Sorry, I was just…” Nicole didn’t know how to finish that sentence without lying, so she just let the sentence trail off.

“Cool story…” Wynonna quirked an eyebrow. “You want to come to Shorty’s? Waves has her first shift and we’re gonna annoy the shit out of her the whole time!” Wynonna shimmied her shoulders with a cheeky grin, Doc looked like he thought she was joking but knowing Wynonna it was the absolute truth. Nicole had forgotten that Waverly started work today, she didn’t even mention it the night before or maybe she had and Nicole had been too busy staring and not actually listening.

“You mind?” Nicole turned to her mom as she placed a big bag of rice into the cart. She’d promised to help her carry the groceries inside but Nicole knew her mom was really happy that she was making friends. She shouldn’t have used that to her advantage but she wanted to see Waverly. She needed to figure out if Waverly actually liked her or not and she wasn’t going to manage that overthinking every interaction they had ever had since they became friends.

“No it’s fine, just be back for dinner ok?” She held up a finger in Nicole’s direction and gave her ‘no nonsense’ look that always made Nicole smirk. Her mom was on nightshifts for the next few days and so they had agreed to have dinner every night before she had to go into work. Wynonna and Doc were waiting expectantly for Nicole to join them, already half turned away to leave the store. Nicole nodded furiously, wrapped her hand around the finger her mom still had pointed at her and shook it. “Have fun!”

Nicole rounded the cart and fell into step with Wynonna and Doc as they headed for the exit. Doc pulling away from Wynonna to roll a cigarette which he offered first to Nicole, who shook her head and then to Wynonna who took it and gave Nicole a look that said ‘don’t tell Waverly’. She waited with them outside Shorty’s until they had finished smoking, standing upwind from them so she didn’t smell when she got home to her mom. She didn’t think her mom would ever let her leave the house again if she thought she had taken up that habit.

They filtered in and found a booth near the pool table which was currently occupied by the York brothers but they looked to be finishing up. Nicole’s eyes searched for Waverly and saw her push through the swinging door from the kitchen up the back. She carried a plate on each hand effortlessly as she made her way to a table near the front door before heading behind the counter. She hadn’t spotted Nicole or Wynonna yet, would she have come straight over if she had? Nicole continued to watch as she served a new customer, totally at ease, being so utterly smiley that had it been anyone else Nicole would be sure they were putting it on. Not Waverly, though, with her it seemed genuine. Nicole couldn’t help but smile as she watched her.

Wynonna offered to go to the counter to get everyone a coke but Nicole stood up first and said she didn’t mind. She hoped it came off as casual as she wanted it to but she didn’t wait to see. There was one person in front of her in the queue but she caught Waverly’s eye as she fell into place. Waverly smiled at Nicole, crinkling her eyes before turning her full attention to the man in front of her. His order was long and complicated and for the first time Nicole thought she saw Waverly’s pleasant demeanour falter. When he walked away Waverly rolled her eyes before smiling brightly at Nicole. She almost forgot why she was there.

“Thought he was never going to finish ordering!” Waverly said with a flick of her wrist towards the previous customer. “Hey!”

“Hey!” Nicole wracked her brain for what Wynonna had told her she and Doc wanted but all she could focus on was how Waverly had tied her Shorty’s t-shirt in a knot at the back, showing off a stretch of skin along her stomach. Had it been like that since she got here? “Uh, I’m here with Wynonna and Doc.”

“Oh.” There was a look of disappointment on Waverly’s face that Nicole instantly felt bad for creating. Did she think Nicole hadn’t just come in to see her? She probably wouldn’t have had the guts to without Wynonna suggesting she tag along with them but she was so glad Wynonna had thought to invite her. Nicole was definitely there just to see her.

“To see you…obviously.” Nicole added as quickly as she could and the crease that had started to form between Waverly’s eyebrows loosened.

“Oh!” Waverly said again but this time with a smile and if Nicole wasn’t seeing things a slight blush. “What can I get you guys?”

“Just three cokes for now.” Nicole remembered what Wynonna had said finally and Waverly turned around to start filling glasses.

“You still be here in half an hour?” Waverly asked as she set the drinks down on a tray. “I’ll be on my break then!”

“Yeah, definitely!” Nicole smiled and picked up the tray, a queue of three people had formed behind her while she had been talking to Waverly and when she glanced back over her shoulder, Waverly seemed happier than ever to be serving.

Wynonna was setting up the pool table by the time Nicole made it back to their table, Doc was doing something on his phone and did not look in any way interested in playing with Wynonna. Nicole knew it was going to have to be her that got beat. Again.

Wynonna let Nicole break without tossing a coin because apparently she needed the head start. At some point Doc slipped outside for another smoke but Nicole hadn’t noticed him actually leave, her eyes finding Waverly in between every shot she took. She was playing worse than usual and she knew Wynonna was probably getting bored winning every game without much of a fight from Nicole.

“Alright, Red. What’s the deal? You’re on a totally different planet today…” Wynonna asked while she potted her third ball in a row.

“What? No, I’m…I’m right here.” Nicole grabbed her glass of coke and forced her eyes to stay on Wynonna, who’s own eyes narrowed on Nicole making her swallow a little more of the fizzy drink in one go than she’d planned to.

“Of course you are…does she know?” Wynonna thrust the cue forward and missed, her attention focused too closely on Nicole.

“Does who know?” Nicole feigned ignorance as she reached for the cue in Wynonna’s hand but she held it back out of Nicole’s reach.

“Waverly…does she know you like her?” Wynonna widened her eyes and held the stick close to her chest, waiting for Nicole to answer her. She couldn’t stop the blush that felt like it covered her entire body. Was she that obvious? “I’ll take that as a no then…you should tell her.” Wynonna shrugged and finally let Nicole take the cue from her hands. Nicole began lining up her shot, trying to think of the right excuse for why she couldn’t say anything to Waverly.

“I can’t…it’s complicated.” Nicole settled on something that gave little to no information away. She liked Wynonna, felt she could trust her but she had never thought that she would be having this conversation with her.

“What, you already got a girlfriend or something? I mean it wouldn’t surprise me, if I was into that I’d totally be into you!” Wynonna winked and Nicole rolled her eyes with a groan. She really didn’t think she’d ever be having this conversation with Wynonna.

“No, I don’t have a girlfriend. I just cant…” Nicole took her shot and missed, she pushed the cue into Wynonna’s hand a little too forcefully and sat down in her seat, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Well she is going to work it out eventually I guess, if she hasn’t already! It may come as a shock to you but she’s the smart one!” Wynonna let out a deep belly laugh and potted two balls in one go. Nicole’s chest tightened at Wynonna’s words, what if even without Nicole saying anything Waverly worked it out and didn’t want to hang out with her anymore? Would it be better to just tell her about her crush, get it out in the open so Waverly could tell her she wasn’t interested and hopefully Nicole could get over it.

“She beating you again?” There was a hand on Nicole’s shoulder and her eyes found Waverly standing beside her. Nicole swallowed hard and nodded her head with a small smile. She prayed that Waverly hadn’t overheard any of that. “You want a milkshake? Shorty said he’d bring some over for us.”

“Y-yeah, can I get cream on top?” It wasn’t the standard way they served milkshakes at Shorty’s but it was the way Nicole preferred them.

“Already asked him to put cream on yours!” Waverly said with a smile that warmed Nicole and sent her stomach buzzing. She took the seat opposite Nicole and when Wynonna realised that Nicole obviously wouldn’t be playing anymore pool until Waverly disappeared she came to join them. Nicole sighed when it would mean that Waverly had to budge up on bench but instead of moving along she got out of the booth so Wynonna could take the inside seat. She sat back down across from Nicole and took a drink from one of the coke glasses, she probably didn’t realise it was Nicole’s.

“So how’s the job going? Enjoying it?” Nicole said trying to swallow down the joy bursting out of her at the small action of Waverly sharing her drink.

“Already made $20 in tips so, yes!” Waverly laughed and all Nicole could think of was how she didn’t tip Waverly when she paid for the drinks. Would it have been weird if she had? Doc appeared at the end of the table and mirroring Waverly’s earlier movements Nicole got out of her seat to let Doc slide in across from Wynonna. Waverly continued talking about how she’d hopefully have enough money by the end of the school year so that she wouldn’t need to get a job straight away when she started university. She wanted to be able to enjoy herself for a little while.

Shorty dropped off the milkshakes and reminded Waverly she only had five minutes left on her break but with a look that said if she didn’t come back right on time he wouldn’t be mad. Waverly pushed the only one with cream on top in front of Nicole and she took a long pull on the straw with her eyes closed, the strawberry goodness cooling the ever warming feeling all over as she sat across of Waverly. Her eyes crossed when she opened them again looking at the dollop of cream that had found its way onto the tip of her nose and before she knew what was happening Waverly had scooped it off with her thumb. Which she then stuck into her mouth. Waverly’s eyes shot wide open, probably realizing what she had just done but Nicole couldn’t stop the smile creeping onto her face.

“Sorry…” Waverly released the thumb from her mouth with a ‘pop’ and stared down into her own milkshake .

“Totally ok…” Nicole watched as Waverly looked at her through hooded eyes, licking the remaining cream off her lips. She was sure that words were sitting right behind them, Waverly took a deep breath and Nicole held hers.

“Are you doing anything later?” Waverly seemed shy, it wasn’t uncommon for Waverly to ask this unless…this time she was asking something else entirely. Nicole was so close to saying no, to calling up her mom and saying she couldn’t make it to dinner but she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t just drop everything for this girl no matter how much she wanted to. Not when Nicole wasn’t sure what Waverly was actually asking.

“I’m having dinner with my mom.” Nicole looked down at the table but not before catching the look of disappointment on Waverly’s face. Twice she had been the cause of that today and she never wanted to be again. “She’s working from nine though so maybe we could do something after that? You could come over and find out more about my weird taste in movies.” Nicole could feel the flirtatious tone slipping through and she thought about stopping it but part of her really wanted to see how Waverly would react.

“How about we watch one of my favourites this time?” Waverly flirted back and Nicole felt her cheeks get warmer as Waverly’s eyes burrowed into her. “I finish at seven so plenty time to go home and grab it!” She had that smile on her face again that made Nicole’s head spin.

Waverly had to go back to work and Wynonna sent Nicole a wink after she turned back from watching her leave. Nicole groaned and pushed her from across the table.

“Just remember to use protection!” Wynonna stage whispered and Nicole picked up her jacket and announced she was leaving. She couldn’t sit there and let Wynonna tease her any longer or else she might actually lose her nerve on spending another evening alone with Waverly. On the other hand she knew that no one knew Waverly better than her sister and if she was pushing Nicole to go for it, surely that meant something right? She did seem to be pushing Nicole to go for it. She waved goodbye to Waverly as she made her way out, the smile they shared promising that they would see each other soon.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

To say that Waverly enjoyed the rest of her shift at Shorty’s would have been an understatement. All day she had been pretty happy serving customers, she liked people and almost everyone was understanding about it being her first day and taking a little longer for her to do certain things. After Nicole had invited her round though, that pretty happy attitude had quickly turned to ecstatic. Even with the lingering embarrassment of wiping the cream off of Nicole’s nose and then proceeding to actually lick said cream off of her thumb, she couldn’t fight the million watt smile that stayed firmly on her face until she had finished as she thought about her evening ahead with Nicole. Waverly thought the only saving grace of that mortifying situation was that she hadn’t leaned over the table and licked the damn cream straight off Nicole’s nose with her tongue.

Shorty sent her on her way, telling her she’d done an excellent job and since it was technically a trial shift, that she had actually secured the job. Not that she was under any impression that she wouldn’t get the job, it was still nice to hear that Shorty thought she had done so well on her first day.

Doc had headed home an hour or so before she finished but Wynonna hung around until her shift was over, hustling some clueless teenagers out of their money at pool. At least when she would beat Nicole over and over they didn’t actually put any money on it. They walked back to the house together and Waverly could tell that Wynonna was dying to say something to her. She nudged her with an elbow and told her to spit it out.

“Nicole’s nice.” Was all Wynonna said and Waverly shot her a questioning look, she knew that Wynonna liked her, this wasn’t news so why did she feel the need to say that now. After all they’d been hanging out together for weeks, if Wynonna didn’t think she was worth her time she wouldn’t have put up with her just because Waverly was friends with her. She didn’t like Steph and made a point of literally never speaking to her. “She’d be good for you…”

“She already is?” Waverly wasn’t following Wynonna’s train of thought, Nicole was by far the best friend she had. Chrissy had Steph these days and Waverly couldn’t really blame her, after Waverly quit cheerleading she thought that would happen. Of course they hung out and were still close but that special thing they shared no longer applied to Waverly. She would have cared a little more if she didn’t have Nicole.

“You know what I mean, Waves…” Wynonna groaned, the same groan whenever anyone tried to get her to talk about something serious and Waverly finally realised what she had meant. Wynonna could tell that Waverly liked her, if Wynonna could tell then why the hell couldn’t Nicole? “I see the way you look at her, she must really be blind not to notice you like her just as much as she likes you!” As soon as the words left Wynonna’s mouth she snapped it shut. She opened it again with no sound coming out and then sighed, clearly deciding she had already said too much.

“You guys talked about me? About her liking me?! Wait…she actually said she likes me?” Waverly ran a couple strides in front on Wynonna and held a hand out for her to stop walking. Wynonna huffed but stopped walking. She didn’t look like she was going to answer a single one of Waverly’s questions and so Waverly pulled out the big guns. “’Nonna…please tell me.” Waverly pouted, just a little but that combined with the nickname she hadn’t used seriously since she was maybe six years old normally worked wonders on Wynonna’s conviction.

“I’ve already said way too much! Just…tell her how you feel.” Wynonna batted Waverly’s still outstretched hand out of her way and continued walking. Waverly just stood there for a moment, a grin stretching across her face before she turned and followed.

She didn’t know what to make of the information she had just been given, Nicole liked her. That made her feel a warmth she had never felt before. She knew she had to tell Nicole how she felt but how the hell she was going to do that, she didn’t know. She wished she could just do what Wynonna did, get drunk and confess she wants to sleep with whoever had caught her eye or strut up to them and make out with less than a seconds warning. It worked for her but those were not serious, it wasn’t about feelings it was about being attracted to them. Not that Waverly wasn’t attracted to Nicole, of course she was, how could she not be? But she didn’t want to do it like that. She didn’t want to be able to blame alcohol for her bravery.

She picked out a DVD as soon as she got home, took it upstairs with her and suddenly felt self-conscious about what she was wearing. She couldn’t wear her work uniform, even if she thought she had seen Nicole’s eyes lingering on her exposed stomach earlier. She changed three times in total before settling on a gold crop top, that left a slightly larger window to her skin and a simple black skirt. She managed to find some tights without any holes in them, which now that Wynonna was back was becoming harder each day. She didn’t understand how Wynonna could completely ruin a pair after a single day wearing them and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know either. She stood in front of her full length mirror accessing the outfit, not noticing Wynonna standing at her door until she spoke.

“You look great, babygirl!” Wynonna’s voice startled Waverly and she held up her palms in apology before taking a step into the room. “You better get moving or she’ll think you’ve stood her up!” Waverly checked the time on her phone and it was just before nine, it took her at least fifteen minutes to walk to Nicole’s so she fired a quick text over to let her know she’d be a little late.

Nicole

I can come get you if you want? x

Waverly smiled down at her phone at the instant reply but wrote back saying she was happy to walk. The walk would do her good, give her some more time to figure out how she was going to do this.

It didn’t do much to calm her nerves but by the time she reached Nicole’s front door she had solidified her plan on how to move forward. She was never good with her words, not when it came to things like this and so she decided she would let her actions do the talking. She took one last deep breath before ringing the bell. Nicole opened the door and Waverly knew in a heartbeat that she had done well, Nicole’s eyes tracked the length of her outfit before she met her eyes and leaned back from the door, clearing her throat. Waverly slipped past her with a smug look on her face.

“I didn’t know we were uh…dressing up.” Nicole tugged at her oversized sweater, looking just a little embarrassed. Waverly thought she looked amazing, her hair was just a little messy and her cheeks just a tad blushed.

“You mean this isn’t your Sunday best?” Waverly teased as she raised an eyebrow to accompany her smirk. Nicole let out a musical laugh as she shook her head. Waverly shrugged out of her coat and Nicole hung it up beside the door. Waverly handed the DVD in her hand over to Nicole, their hands brushing for just a moment and Waverly swore she felt a literal spark of electricity between them. Nicole looked over the case with a smile, Waverly had picked a personal favourite and it was probably a stupid film to bring considering what she was planning to do but she really did enjoy Wall-E. The fact that there was next to no speaking for like half the movie would mean that if all went to plan, she wouldn’t get distracted.

Waverly followed Nicole through to the living room where a bowl of popcorn sat on the coffee table and Nicole placed the disc into the player while Waverly took a handful. Only to have something to occupy her hands and mouth as she worked up the final bits of courage. The pair got comfy on the couch and as the movie began, Nicole’s hand brushed softly against Waverly’s, Waverly instantly felt that spark again.

“Sorry.” Nicole said quietly and pulled her hand away from Waverly a little and suddenly Waverly realised why Nicole had never done anything about her feelings. Nicole knew she liked girls, she knew that Waverly knew she liked girls and yet Waverly had only ever mentioned Perry when speaking about ex’s. Nicole was respectful and she would never have wanted Waverly to feel like she was doing something inappropriate because she really had no idea how Waverly might respond. Wynonna said it herself, she hadn’t noticed how much Waverly liked her so of course she wouldn’t have put Waverly in a position where she might feel uncomfortable.

“It’s ok.” Waverly moved herself back into Nicole’s space and mirrored their positions from when they watched the fireworks together. Waverly could feel Nicole’s shoulders relax under the weight of her head but her breathing was far from it. Her fingers were flexing against the material of the couch between their legs and Waverly told herself that it had to be now. She couldn’t let Nicole think for another second that anything she wanted to do would make Waverly uncomfortable. She stretched out her hand towards Nicole’s and intertwined their fingers. Nicole turned her head slightly, swallowing loudly and Waverly lifted her own from Nicole’s shoulder so she could see what Nicole’s face was telling her. Nicole’s eyes fell briefly to Waverly’s lips, then down their interlocked hands before moving back to look in her eyes.

“Hey.” Waverly breathed, not quite sure how she was still able to.

“Hey.” Nicole smiled back. Waverly moved her face closer to Nicole’s, not moving to kiss her. Not yet. She rest her forehead against Nicole’s and let her smile take over as her eyes closed. Breathing in everything Nicole. She’d never been so close to her mouth before. She smelled faintly of vanilla and a little bit of garlic that Waverly was sure must have come from her dinner with her mom but it was nice. It was Nicole.

Nicole’s hand that wasn’t laced with Waverly’s moved to her cheek and Waverly’s eyes shot open. She stared deep, searching Nicole’s for what she wanted, a confirmation that this was ok. That she wanted Waverly to do this just as much as Waverly wanted to do this. Nicole’s eyes shot down to Waverly’s lips and it was exactly what she was looking for. She surged forward, releasing Nicole’s hand and placing both to the sides of Nicole’s face as their lips moved together. Smooth and slow but it still somehow felt absolutely desperate. Waverly knew how long she’d been waiting to do that and she wondered how long Nicole had too.

Nicole’s hands found their way to Waverly’s waist and she was stunned to find how gentle her hold was. The last person she had made out with was Pete, drunkenly at a party and he had gripped her so tight that it was uncomfortable. This was not uncomfortable, this was the safest Waverly had ever felt. Waverly pulled back an inch and Nicole’s face turned worried, she started to pull her hands away from Waverly’s sides but she quickly placed her hands over Nicole’s to keep them firmly in place.

“Wow…” Waverly’s breath was coming out staggered and she went to rest her forehead against Nicole’s again while she tried to catch it.

“Good?” Nicole smiled, leaning forward to place a quick peck to Waverly’s lips before pulling back again.

“Good…amazing…totally amaze-balls!”

“Amaze-balls?” Nicole giggled as her thumbs brushed against Waverly’s waist.

“Shhh.” Waverly connected their lips again, not caring that she had barely caught her breath. She started testing the waters a little more, she ran her tongue along Nicole’s bottom lip which immediately granted her access deeper into Nicole’s mouth. She couldn’t stop the moan that escaped as she felt Nicole’s tongue moving against her own. In an instant she was glad that there was no way she could have fought it because Nicole’s hands were coaxing her closer at the sound. Closer and closer until Waverly was basically sitting on top of her.

“This ok?” Nicole gasped as she pulled back to look into Waverly’s eyes. Waverly’s words had failed her and all she could do was nod in approval as she positioned herself more comfortably in Nicole’s lap. When Nicole’s hands started moving below her waist to rest cupping her ass, Waverly’s body felt engulfed in flame. Her lips found Nicole’s again with much more fervour than before. She had made out with plenty people, gone a little further than where she was now with Nicole but she had never wanted to be with someone before. Not until that very moment with Nicole’s hands gently palming her rear and her centre pressing downward into Nicole’s. Waverly could feel her skirt inching it’s way higher and higher as their kisses became deeper and deeper. The material stretching against her spread thighs giving her a taste of the friction she yearned for elsewhere. She had thought about kissing Nicole so many times but none of those thoughts compared to the real thing. She couldn’t believe she had wasted to much time just thinking about and not actually going for what she wanted.

Despite how amazing it felt to have her hands resting on Nicole’s impossibly soft cheeks, Waverly wanted to feel more of her. She had already wasted enough time. Her hands rolled down Nicole’s body to the bottom of her sweater and snuck underneath. The instant connection she made with warm, silken skin as she realised there was no top underneath made them both moan into each others mouths. Waverly took that as a good sign and let her fingers grip the edges of the sweater to remove it but Nicole pulled back from her lips.

“Do you mind if we just…I don’t think I’m ready to y’know…get into that just yet!” Nicole blushed and ducked her head, her eyes avoiding Waverly’s and Waverly immediately removed her hands from the sweater to sit on top of it.

“Sorry…yeah. Got a little carried away, you’re just…” Waverly paused, looking for the right words that didn’t sound cheesy or make her sound like a horny teenage boy. She raised her hand and let her finger trail a feather light touch along Nicole’s cheeks until she looked into her eyes again. “You’re a really great kisser.”

“Yeah?” Nicole said, looking a little smug and if it had been anyone else Waverly might have wanted to take them down a peg or two but not Nicole. Never Nicole. Waverly pressed her forehead to Nicole’s once again and sighed into her.

“Yeah…the best.” Waverly spoke the words like they were the truest she had ever said and they just might have been. They descended into making out again, Waverly being careful to respect Nicole’s boundaries until they found themselves enjoying the last bit of the movie in a tight embrace on the couch. “I know we didn’t really watch most of it but what did you think?”

“It’s one of my favourites actually…it’s my go to movie to watch when I’m sick.” Nicole admitted and watched as Waverly narrowed her eyes with a smile. “I was going to say something but then you kissed me and I kind of forgot how to do words.” Nicole laughed and placed a soft kiss to the side of Waverly’s head.

“Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that…kiss you?” Waverly sighed and leaned closer into Nicole’s chest. “I wanted to kiss you last night…”

“I thought you did…but then I got scared that you’d totally hate me if I ruined our friendship.” Nicole let her hand reach up into Waverly’s hair and she closed her eyes as nimble fingers massaged into her scalp.

“I could never hate you.” Waverly sighed and she realised just how close she was to falling asleep right there in Nicole’s arms. She didn’t want to go home, she didn’t want the moment to be over and so she bit her lip and opened her eyes to ask. “Can I stay? Here, tonight, with you?” Nicole’s eyes went wide and Waverly cursed herself for not making it clear what she wanted.

“Uh…” Nicole blushed and let her hand fall out of Waverly’s hair.

“No…gosh, not for that! I just…I think it would be really nice to fall asleep in your arms.” Waverly nuzzled herself under Nicole’s chin and eventually Nicole’s hand made it back into her hair. Nicole clearly wasn’t ready for that and even though Waverly felt like she might be, she would never suggest something that Nicole wasn’t ready for.

“Yeah, that would be…nice. Of course you can stay, do you need to check with Gus and Curtis?” Nicole leaned forward, taking Waverly with her as she grabbed the house phone from the coffee table and handing it over to Waverly. Waverly smiled, her phone was in her jacket pocket and Nicole clearly didn’t want her moving away from her just yet. She took the phone and positioned herself more comfortably to dial, Nicole’s fingers still moving against her scalp making it difficult for her to remember the number to her own house. She was finally able to get the string of numbers out of the recesses of her brain long along to punch it in and held the phone up to her ear. Gus answered and was more than ok with Waverly spending the night. Just as she was about to hang up she heard Wynonna’s voice in the background begging for the phone.

“Staying the night huh?” Waverly could practically hear the wiggling eyebrows through the phone.

“Shut it, Wynonna!” Waverly said forcefully and hung up the phone as Nicole laughed beside her. She smoothed out the frown lines on Waverly’s forehead and kissed the space where they had been.

“I think your sister really wanted us to get together!”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waking up with Waverly in her bed, in her arms was something Nicole was not quite prepared for. Part of her expected to wake up and the previous night be some sort of incredibly realistic dream, she couldn’t believe that it had actually happened. Waverly had kissed her, had enjoyed kissing her, had wanted to do more than that, Nicole thought. Nicole wanted to do more too but she had never done that before. She knew the basics but beyond that it was a little daunting. To be that vulnerable with another person, that trusting. She trusted Waverly, she had never given her a reason not to but she had also trusted…she had trusted her before too. The one and only person other than her mom to know that she was interested in girls before it became common knowledge and that trust was betrayed, destroyed, smashed into a million tiny pieces. Giving herself to Waverly like that was going to take time, she had slowed down completely when Nicole had asked so she didn’t doubt that Waverly would be ok with waiting. For a while anyway because god did she want to do that. Maybe she needed to do some research first, make sure that what she thought she knew was actually correct.

Waverly stirred beside her, a gentle sigh escaping her mouth and Nicole wondered what she was dreaming about. She pulled Waverly closer into her chest and kissed her forehead softly. She still couldn’t believe it was real. Even in her sleep, Waverly smiled at the affection and settled into Nicole’s embrace a little more. Nicole was so focused on the girl in her arms that the footsteps making their way up the stairs and to her bedroom door were mere background noise. When her bedroom door opened and her mom stood in her doorway, she remembered the conversation they had had over dinner the night before. Her mom was going to make them breakfast that morning when she got home from work.

Nicole stared at her mom, Waverly pressed against her and thanked the lord that they hadn’t gone any further the night before because she knew what her mom was seeing was bad enough. Silence continued between them, her mom clearly wanting to say something but not able to be so rude as to actually wake a guest from their sleep, Nicole shifted uncomfortably and Waverly slowly woke up. Her eyes taking in Nicole’s expression as she looked down at Waverly before her eyes darted back to the doorway and Waverly turned to see what she was looking at.

“Oh, hi Susan…” Waverly’s sleepy voice barely carried to the door but her mom’s eyes moved to focus on Waverly after she spoke. Nicole would have laughed at how casual Waverly had sounded, greeting her mom while laying in her bed, wrapped up in her arms, if not for the look on her mom’s face.

“I think it’s best if you go home, Waverly.” She said flatly, Nicole could tell she was angry but she was far too polite to raise her voice in front of a guest.

“But mom,” Nicole knew this was coming, she should have been more careful, she shouldn’t have let herself get swept up in an amazing night.

“But nothing!” She interrupted, her voice stern but still no louder than before. “Get dressed, both of you.” With that she turned and left, half closing the door behind her and walking down the stairs. Nicole released her arms from around Waverly and let her head hit the pillow as she stared up at the ceiling. It had been the perfect morning, barely anything had happened and it had still been perfect to Nicole. Right until that moment. Waverly got out of bed and Nicole watched as she moved around the room in Nicole’s borrowed pyjamas, picking up her clothing from the night before. She wanted to appreciate Waverly wearing her clothes but it felt sour now, like the curtain had been lifted on whatever fantasy she had been living since Waverly had kissed her last night.

Nicole was sure that Waverly had said something as she turned around and replaced Nicole’s top with her own but she was too focused on the bare skin of her back to really listen. She turned around and said it again, or maybe it was something different but the tone was the same. Nicole turned away and faced the wall, her eyes closed and she slowly counted to twenty. Enough time for Waverly to change into her skirt. She felt a warm touch on her arm and she turned over to look at Waverly leaning against the edge of her bed.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Waverly leaned closer and kissed Nicole goodbye, her eyes fluttered close and when she opened them Waverly was gone. Footsteps on the stairs, then an awkward sounding goodbye to her mom and she was out of her house.

She should have driven her home, she should have talked to her, she shouldn’t have let her leave without saying goodbye.

Nicole stayed in her room until the smell of bacon begged her to go downstairs. She had to face her mom at some point, she might as well get to eat at the same time. There were two plates sitting on the table when she got into the kitchen, her mom motioned for her to sit down. She pulled the plate away from the seat beside her mom and picked the one furthest away from her instead.

“What is the one thing I asked you to do when we moved here?” She looked Nicole in the eyes, anger and fear and love swirling in her own.

“Mom, listen…” She wanted to tell her that nothing happened, that Waverly just stayed over but she knew it was pointless. Her mom knew what Waverly staying over meant. Nicole had been worried that she wasn’t being careful enough when speaking about Waverly to her mom, she knew her smiles were too bright, her body language to happy whenever Waverly was the topic of discussion and she was sure that her mom had already realised she had a bit of a crush on her new friend. Her mom didn’t say anything though so she had probably assumed, just like Nicole had, that Waverly wasn’t interested in Nicole like that.

“The one thing, Nicole?” The anger disappeared as she spoke, the gap filling with more fear and love.

“To fit in…” Nicole conceded and picked up a slice of bacon from her plate, ignoring the cutlery that she had left in the spot her mom had wanted her to sit in.

“To fit in.” Her mom repeated as she pushed the knife and fork towards Nicole. “Do you think this qualifies as fitting in?”

“No…but…” Nicole tried to speak but her mom held up a hand to silence her. Nicole thought it would have been better if she had just raised her voice, then Nicole could be angry at her but she wasn’t. She understood.

“I don’t want to hear it, Nicole. We moved here so you could focus, so you could get into university and get away from those horrible kids and…the bad memories.” Nicole flinched and her mom’s eyes softened into an apology for even nearly bringing up the worst night of both of their lives. “I’ve done everything so you can have a normal life again, a good life.” Nicole nodded but there was one singular thought in her head. She didn’t want to be normal if that meant pretending that she didn’t have feelings for Waverly but she understood. Her mom left everything behind for her, her job, her friends. She knew she owed it to her to try and stick to her word, no matter how much she knew it was going to hurt.

She didn’t sleep much that night, Waverly text her a few times but she hadn’t opened them. She feared that if she did and replied she would go back on the promise she had made to her mom.

Standing in front of her locker feeling like a zombie, she forced it closed, not caring that she had most likely damaged a textbook that didn’t even belong to her. She felt someone standing behind her and she didn’t even need to turn around to know who it was.

“Hey, Waves.” Nicole sighed as she turned to face her, eyes focused intently on the book in her hands.

“Hey.” Waverly sounded sad, broken. Nicole forced herself to keep staring at the book. “Can we talk?” Nicole noticed Waverly’s hand stretch out to touch her but she pulled it back, Nicole looked up because she felt it too. The need to reach out and just feel her.

“I’m running late for chemistry, Torres’ll give me detention if I’m late again.” Nicole grimaced at how easy it was for her to lie to Waverly but she knew it was going to make it easier. Now that she was actually looking at her, the ache in her chest that she had been ignoring since the day before was too much to overlook. She was trying desperately not to get sucked in to her eyes, her lips, her scent and she forced her eyes back down onto the book in her hand. “Meet you behind the field at lunch?”

“Yeah…ok. I’ll see you there.” Waverly voice was barely above a whisper. Nicole looked into her eyes for just a beat before she nodded and walked towards her class. Ignoring the sad look in Waverly’s eyes and how she knew it was only going to get worse.

Her stomach tightened every time she looked at the clock and it was one minute closer to having to speak to Waverly. When the time came she walked the long way round to where they had agreed to meet making sure that no one else had decided to hang out there that day for lunch. It was going to be hard enough without witnesses.

As soon as she saw Waverly sitting on the ground, reading a book she tried not to think about how beautiful she looked. Waverly looked up as if sensing Nicole’s approach and smiled. It knocked the wind right out of Nicole’s lungs.

They talked about nothing for a while, how their classes had gone that day and who had given out the most homework. Not that Nicole had really been paying attention in any of her classes. Until Waverly seemed to lose patience with the small talk.

“I wanted to talk about the other night…”

“I know.” Nicole sighed and steeled herself for what she needed to do. “I don’t think we should act on our feelings again…” Nicole tried not to look at her as she spoke but she couldn’t tear her eyes away. The slow passage of emotions that crossed Waverly’s face hitting Nicole in the chest. Hurt, sadness, anger and then a realisation.

“So there are feelings?” Waverly asked, already knowing the answer and fixing Nicole with a look that dared her to deny it.

“Of course I have feelings for you Waverly, I wouldn’t just…I wouldn’t have kissed you back if I didn’t.” Nicole could feel the tears burning behind her own eyes. There were too many feelings for Waverly.

“Then why did you ignore my messages? Why should this have to stop?”

“My mom is pissed…she thinks I’m not even trying to fit in and I can’t do this to her if things get bad again. She couldn’t handle it when I…she had to take care of me…it’s not fair.” Nicole was using every ounce of strength she had to stop the tears from flowing, she wouldn’t put her mom through hell again, she couldn’t.

“That’s not fair on you either, I like you Nicole. All I want to do right now is kiss you and…”

“Don’t…” Nicole couldn’t stop them anymore, the tears came freely and she looked around to make sure they were still alone before taking Waverly’s hand in her own. “I’m sorry, Waverly. I just can’t.” Her heart ached, she wanted nothing more than to kiss Waverly, be with Waverly.

“So that’s it?” Waverly’s voice cracked and through her own tears she could see Waverly’s eyes filling as well. She was shaking her head and Nicole reached forward and let her hand cup Waverly’s cheek gently.

“I don’t want to lose you Waverly, we can still be friends.” Nicole didn’t actually know if she could do that, not straight away. To be close to Waverly and not touch her, not kiss her, not tell her how much it was killing her to just be friends with her. Not after knowing what it felt like. She needed to know though, if Waverly would even want that or if the one thing that had scared Nicole so much about admitting her feelings to Waverly had happened. She could have ruined the best friendship she had because she couldn’t keep herself under control. Because she couldn’t keep the one promise she had made to her mom.

“Tell me you don’t want to kiss me right now and I’ll walk away.” Waverly pleaded, she placed her hand over Nicole’s that was cupping her cheek. Nicole was too aware that there was no one around to see if they kissed, she could kiss her…one last time and no one would ever know. She closed her eyes, hoping to banish the overwhelming urge to just give in to her desire. If she couldn’t see her then maybe it would easier. Waverly’s lips were on hers before she even had a chance to process what was happening. Her lips were too soft, too gentle and Nicole knew Waverly was holding herself back, wanting Nicole to show her how much she wanted it too.

“Waverly, we shouldn’t.” She managed to say right before she leaned into the kiss, her head was screaming at her to turn and leave. To stop herself because it was only going to make things worse but her body needed to be close to Waverly.

“Tell me you don’t want this then.” Waverly pulled back just an inch, her lips brushing against Nicole’s as she spoke and Nicole pulled herself all the way back. She had to stop it because she couldn’t tell Waverly she didn’t want that, she had never wanted anything so desperately in her life. Waverly tried to chase her with her lips but Nicole held out her hands and stopped her.

“It doesn’t matter what I want…I’m sorry.” She pushed herself off the ground as quickly as she could, grabbed her backpack and walked away. Trying frantically to block out the sounds of Waverly crying her name as tears streamed down her cheeks.

Chapter Text

Waverly stormed into the house and straight upstairs, slamming the front door and then the one to her bedroom before she threw herself down onto her bed. She had walked the long way home, hoping to calm herself down but it hadn’t helped at all, she was devastated. She had been terrified of screwing things up by admitting to Nicole that she liked her and when Wynonna had given her the push she had needed by confirming that Nicole liked her back she thought everything was going to be fine. More than fine, she thought it was going to be amazing and it had been. For one night. The fact that Nicole hadn’t replied to any of her texts should have told her that when her and Nicole finally actually did talk, it was going to be a shitty conversation but she still had hope.

She didn’t even care that she had skipped the rest of her day at school. She’d never done that before but there was no way she could have faced seeing Nicole again in the hallway or sit next to her in English at the end of the day without bursting into tears. She had managed to stop crying at some point on the way home but she wasn’t really sure when. She wasn’t even sure if she really remembered the walk home. How was she supposed to go back to being ‘just friends’ with Nicole?

Waverly heard her bedroom door open and she flipped herself over to see who it was. Wynonna, clearly not long up and still in the clothes she had been wearing the night before, leaning against her door. She made some comment about Gus kicking her ass if she heard she’d been slamming the doors but furrowed her brow when she noticed that Waverly had clearly been crying.

“What’s wrong?” Wynonna asked and Waverly burst into tears again, just thinking about answering. She’d never felt like this before, she’d never had her heart broken before. She couldn’t understand why people put themselves through this and then she remembered how she had felt when Nicole’s lips met hers. She would walk through a burning building just to feel like that again. Wynonna quickly came onto the bed with her and hugged her close, Waverly was near hysterical and although she wanted to explain she could barely speak. Her throat was so tight and each breath felt like she was gasping for air that just wouldn’t come.

“Nicole.” It was the only word that managed to escape her lips and Wynonna’s face hardened. She let go of Waverly and stormed out the room, Waverly heard Wynonna walk into her own room and then bolt down the stairs.

Waverly forced herself upright and ran after her but she was out the door and on her bike already. She tried to shout after her, stop her from doing something stupid but the roar of her engine blocked out all of Waverly’s attempts and before she could reach her Wynonna was gone, speeding down the street in the direction of the school. Waverly loved Wynonna, loved that she was so goddamn protective but there was no way that whatever she was about to do would be good. She cursed her inability to drive and ran back inside, grabbed her house keys and locked up before walking all the way back to school as fast as she could.

By the time she got there she wasn’t sure who she was more upset with, Wynonna for making her walk all the way back to school after she had literally been home all of a few minutes or Nicole for being the root cause of it. She spotted Nicole first, coming out the main door. School had just let out and the parking lot was filling up fast with kids. Even from the distance Waverly was at she could tell Nicole had been crying, probably just as much as Waverly and all the anger that Waverly was feeling towards her disappeared. She hated this too but then why did she do it? Why did she care what her mom thought was best for her? What had her mom said to her that made her think that her and Waverly being together was so bad?

She heard Wynonna before she saw her, blocked by a group of younger students who Waverly had to literally push through and Waverly’s anger locked firmly onto her sister.

“Haught! What the fuck is your deal?” Wynonna sounded angry and it scared Waverly but clearly not as much as it scared Nicole. Her eyes were wide, watching everyone who was looking at the impending confrontation. Wynonna had never noticed Nicole’s aversion to loud noises or how anxious she was in crowds, Waverly had thought about mentioning it but it wasn’t her place. She knew Nicole considered Wynonna a friend and if she felt comfortable telling her then she would have. At that moment she really wished she’d just told Wynonna.

Waverly made it to them just as Wynonna was taking the final steps to get right up in Nicole’s face and Waverly pushed herself between them. She could hear Nicole beginning to hyperventilate behind her as she warned Wynonna to take a step back through gritted teeth.

“I’m handling this, Waves.” Wynonna said, not breaking her glare that was directed at Nicole but Waverly pushed her back. She’d never pushed Wynonna like that, they’d only ever play fought when they were younger and Wynonna’s eyes went wide as Waverly’s palms made contact with her shoulders. Waverly would never forgive herself if Wynonna actually hurt Nicole, the only reason she was there was because of Waverly.

“Shut up, Wynonna! Leave, please!” Waverly shouted and Wynonna didn’t step forward into the space she had been occupying before Waverly pushed her but she didn’t turn to leave either. Waverly could hear Nicole’s erratic breathing spike as she dared Wynonna to take step forward with a glare. She forgot about her sister and turned quickly to face Nicole, her chest heaving and her fists clenched tight at her sides. She looked like she was having a full blown panic attack, eyes darting around the parking lot as if looking for safe passage to her car. Waverly placed one hand onto Nicole’s forearm and she jumped, eyes landing on Waverly’s and her breath coming in and out in fits from her nose. “I’m going to take you back inside, ok?” Waverly waited for her to nod before turning her around and walking her back into the building which was now much quieter than the busy parking lot. There was a bathroom just inside the front door she hoped would be empty and Nicole could have some privacy while she calmed down.

Waverly didn’t let go of her arm until the were inside the thankfully, empty bathroom and Nicole pulled away to start pacing back and forth in the small room. The stall doors were all open bar one and Nicole pushed it to double check no one was in there before resuming her pacing. Waverly could see her whole body shaking as she started doing what Waverly could only presume were breathing exercises. She kept her back against the door incase any lingering students decided to try and come in as she watched Nicole slowly bring herself down.

“I’m sorry.” Waverly spoke when Nicole looked as if she was composed enough to take in what she had said. “This is all my fault. I was upset when I got home and Wynonna only heard me say your name before she flew out the door to come here.” She couldn’t believe that she had put Nicole through this, she’d seen her anxious before but that was nothing compared to what she had just witnessed.

“This isn’t your fault.” Nicole shook her head firmly. There was a quiver in Nicole’s voice but her breathing did seem to be a lot more under control. She’d been worried about Wynonna physically hurting her but maybe this was just as bad.

“It is, I know this must be really hard for you…I was being selfish. I shouldn’t have kissed you when you didn’t want me to.” Waverly pushed her back off the door and took a few tentative steps towards Nicole. When it didn’t look like Nicole was going to back away she moved closer and held out her hands so Nicole could step into her hug if she was ok with it. She did and Waverly sighed as Nicole wrapped her arms tight around her. So tight, like she was afraid Waverly might disappear if she held her any looser. She wasn’t sure if Nicole would have even wanted the physical contact but she just wanted to comfort Nicole the only way she knew how after she had got so upset. Even if they weren’t going to be together, Nicole was still her friend. It was going to be hard for Waverly but Nicole still needed her…just not in the way that Waverly wanted to be needed.

“You weren’t being selfish…I wanted you to but I’m so scared, Waverly.” Nicole buried her head into Waverly’s neck and she could feel the tears wetting her skin. “Nothing even really happened out there with Wynonna and I totally freaked out! You shouldn’t even want to be with me, you deserve someone who can…”

“Hey! Don’t do that!” Waverly interrupted as she pulled Nicole’s head back and held her face in her hands. How could Nicole not see that she was everything Waverly wanted? If her being anxious most of the time was going to scare Waverly off, she wouldn’t have even fallen for her in the first place. Waverly knew exactly what she was getting…or what she thought she was going to get. “Don’t make out like your just some crazy person who hasn’t been through total shit just because of who you are. This doesn’t make me want you any less. You are amazing, that’s why I want to be with you. You’re smart and funny and kind.” Waverly trailed her hands down Nicole’s cheeks, she shouldn’t have been taking such pleasure in how she felt against her fingers. Not when she was sure that no matter what, Nicole was going to pull away from her again at any second. She didn’t pull away though, she inched herself closer as she bit into her lip and slowly captured Waverly’s in a gentle kiss.

Waverly wrapped her arms around Nicole’s neck and leaned in, deepening the kiss and hoping to all the gods that it meant something. That it meant Nicole knew Waverly wouldn’t be put off by Nicole being scared. Waverly was scared too, she’d never imagined that she would have feelings for another girl. She didn’t care what other people thought about her but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a bit daunting that people might have some not so pleasant opinions of her once they knew she liked Nicole.

Waverly’s head was swimming, she had been trying to stop herself remembering how amazing it felt to kiss Nicole because she was sure that she’d never get a chance to do it again. She couldn’t get close enough to Nicole now and Nicole seemed to be feeling the same, her hands making their way into Waverly’s hair but before Waverly could wind her own into Nicole’s, the door opened behind them and both of them pulled apart with a jump to turn and see who had just caught them. They both sighed heavily in relief when it was just Wynonna.

“Shit. Sorry. Guess you guys made up then…” Wynonna looked at them for a second and then down to the ground when Nicole pulled Waverly back into her.

“Yeah. I think so.” Nicole’s sighed turning Waverly’s face to look at her and Waverly’s heart soared. Waverly pushed herself forward and captured her lips again, ignoring Wynonna clearing her throat behind them.

By the time they walked out of the school, the parking lot was pretty much empty and while Wynonna got on her bike to leave they made their way to Nicole’s car. They still needed to talk and even though Waverly was terrified that Nicole might still tell her the same things again she knew she needed to get it over with. Nicole managed to speak before she was able to ask if Nicole kissing her meant that she’d taken back what she said earlier.

“Maybe it won’t be so bad here…there’s that kid Jeremy a few years below us who’s out and no one seems to bother him, right?” Nicole asked hopefully and Waverly smiled at her even though Nicole’s focus was firmly on the road in front of her. Nicole still looked worried, her grip on the steering wheel was too tight and Waverly knew she had to reassure her.

“Out and proud.” Waverly stated, she’d never heard anyone say anything bad about Jeremy’s sexuality. People did tend to point out he was a bit odd but he didn’t seem to mind at all, he seemed to own his weirdness with pride as well.

“Do you want to come over? I can fill you in on what you missed in English today.” Nicole turned her head and smiled, Waverly couldn’t agree fast enough. They pulled up outside and Nicole told her to make herself at home while she went and changed. Waverly set herself up in the living room. She had noticed that Susan’s car wasn’t out front when they arrived but she heard someone pull up and the front door open. Waverly tensed up, waiting for the inevitable glare she was going to get. She’d almost forgotten that she’d probably have to see Nicole’s mom if she came inside, she didn’t exactly get a warm farewell when she had left the other morning.

“Waverly.” Susan said flatly when they caught each others eyes, she walked into the living room and asked what she was doing there.

“We were going to study.” Waverly forced a smile that Susan could clearly tell was fake. Waverly had never disliked someone’s parent before, she definitely didn’t think she would end up disliking Susan after getting along with her so well to begin with but she was starting to think that maybe Susan didn’t like her all that much if she was willing to convince Nicole not to be with her.

“Right…” She shook her head and looked as if she was about to say something else but Waverly needed to say something before Nicole came back. She needed Susan to know that Waverly wanted to protect Nicole just as much as she did.

“You know I would never want anything bad to happen to Nicole, right?” Waverly crossed her arms in front of herself, she wasn’t one for being rude to grown ups, she was always respectful but she did not appreciate Susan trying to control Nicole’s life. Nicole should be able to make her own choices, she’d had a horrible time at her last school but that didn’t have to mean that it would be the same in Purgatory. Susan didn’t even really know Purgatory so how could she be a good judge of how people would treat her daughter here. Waverly had lived in Purgatory her entire life and she’d never really heard of anyone being openly homophobic but then again there weren’t very many gay people in town for them to be homophobic towards.

“Don’t think that’s really up to you, is it?” Susan raised her eyebrows in question but Waverly couldn’t really argue that fact so she remained silent as she let her arms fall to her side. “Bad things have already happened, Waverly. Did she tell you why we left our home? Why we really left?” Waverly shook her head slowly, thinking back to everything that Nicole had said and realising that she had never pinpointed an exact event that took place for her mom to decide they needed to leave. Susan gripped the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. “She tried to kill herself. If I hadn’t come home early from work that night, my little girl wouldn’t be here anymore!”

“Mom!” Nicole shouted from the doorway, Waverly had been so stunned she hadn’t even noticed her standing there. She looked mortified and embarrassed and although Waverly was trying to catch her eye Nicole avoided looking anywhere near her.

“She needs to know this is serious, Nicole!” Susan moved to place her hands on Nicole’s shoulders but she forced them away from her. Waverly was certain she could see tears forming in Susan’s eyes. “If it starts up again what am I supposed to do? I can’t lose you!”

“I should go.” Waverly didn’t know how to process the information she had just been given and she couldn’t believe that Susan would tell her something so personal about her daughter without Nicole’s permission. She knew Nicole had problems at her last school but she had never imagined they were so bad that Nicole would try and end her life. She grabbed her jacket and pushed passed them through to the hall and out the front door. She’d had tears in her eyes too many times that day already but that didn’t stop them from coming unbidden again. She could hear Nicole following behind her and she tried to get rid of the wetness on her cheeks but when Nicole turned her around she saw and ran a thumb gently underneath each of her eyes. Waverly felt stupid, she’d just heard something that should have made her comfort Nicole but instead Nicole was making her feel better.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you…I’ve never told anyone.” Nicole bit down into her lip and Waverly worried she might just bite all the way through so she lifted her hand and grazed it softly across her lower lip until she released it.

“I’m not upset you kept it from me, I’m upset it even happened in the first place.” Waverly stared at Nicole, wondering how on earth someone so amazing had managed to find herself in a position to think she didn’t deserve to be here anymore. It broke her heart, more than Nicole pulling away from her earlier. Waverly knew Susan had to be desperate to tell Waverly something like that. “Your mom is never going to be ok with you being with me, is she?”

“I don’t care. Not anymore. Those couple of hours where I thought I’d lost you completely because I was scared were awful! I don’t want to feel like that again. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me!” Nicole ran her fingers along Waverly’s jaw line, staring into her eyes like she was the most precious thing in the world. Waverly’s breath caught in her throat, no one had ever said something like that to her before.

“You really mean that?” Waverly asked and from the look in Nicole’s eye she didn’t think she needed to hear the answer but she wanted to. If only to calm her own fears of not being nearly good enough for Nicole. Nicole, who just apologised for not telling Waverly something incredibly personal, that she didn’t blame her for wanting to keep to herself at all.

“Yeah and I don’t just mean now…this.” She gestured between them, how so not like friends they were holding each other. “Having your friendship when I got here was everything. I didn’t think I’d meet someone who cared enough to get to know me after everything that happened but you did and I’m sorry I kept things from you. I want to tell you everything but I can’t right now…I need to get myself ready to talk about it…it’s not easy.”

“Of course it’s not.” Waverly pulled Nicole into her, not caring about the questioning look that she was currently on the receiving end of from Susan. “Come over tomorrow after school? We can talk all about it if you’re ready. I’ll call you later, ok?” Waverly felt awful that she was leaving but the way Susan was looking at her, she wasn’t sure she’d actually be welcome back in that house or not.

“Yeah…yeah ok.” Nicole pressed the side of her head against Waverly’s before releasing her and running her hand down the side of Waverly’s face. Waverly didn’t care if Susan hated her, she needed to kiss Nicole goodbye. It was quick but enough, she hoped, that Nicole knew she didn’t care about her past. She only cared that Nicole was still here and hopefully, happier now. She grabbed her hand, squeezing it tight before releasing it and leaving to walk home.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole couldn’t even look at her mom as she walked back into the house. She went straight to her room and slammed the door. She could not believe that her mom betrayed her trust like that. She felt ashamed that Waverly found out that way, she was going to tell her eventually but when she was ready not when her mom decided it had to be shared. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she took it out, surprised to see a message from Waverly so soon after she left.

Waverly

Just wanted to make sure you don’t feel weird about me knowing. I’m still gonna call you later, just needed you to know I don’t think any differently about you xxx

Nicole

Thank you. Talk to you later xx

It was exactly what Nicole needed to calm down and when her mom knocked on her door she answered telling her to come in. She was still angry with her but she at least needed to hear her out and hopefully hear her apologise again so she could start thinking about forgiving her.

“Nicole, I’m sorry. You have to understand you’re my baby and I have to protect you.” Her mom sat on the end of her bed, making sure to keep her distance and not crowd Nicole before she was ready. They’d had enough arguments over the years, her mom knew how to keep Nicole calm enough to actually talk with her and not just tell her mom to leave her alone.

“You shouldn’t have told her…it’s not yours to tell!” Nicole folded her arms across her chest and huffed out a breath. She could tell her mom regretted what she had done, she at least had to decency to look guilty.

“I know…and I can see she cares about you but I do too and I thought it was the right thing to keep you safe…if she knew how serious this was! I’m terrified of what might happen to you.”

“I know, mom.” Nicole sighed, she did know that. Nicole was scared too. “I’m just so sick of hiding who I am, it’s suffocating. Waverly makes me forget about all the bad stuff…when she kisses me it’s like none of it even happened.” Nicole pulled her arms tighter around herself, she hadn’t admitted that out loud even though she’d been thinking about it since their first kiss. Her mom smiled at that and moved closer to Nicole who relaxed her posture and leaned into her mom’s shoulder.

“I’m glad, sweetheart.” She wrapped an arm around Nicole’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head. Nicole knew she couldn’t stay mad at her mom for long, not when she really did know her mom didn’t tell Waverly just to hurt Nicole. She knew her mom would do anything to keep her safe after everything that had happened.

“You know maybe it wont be so bad here, Waverly isn’t like…” She still couldn’t bring herself to say her name, even after all these months. “She would never have let me go through that alone.”

“I hope you’re right. I can’t make your decisions for you forever but that doesn’t make this any easier.” Her eyes were full of pain when Nicole turned to look at her, it reminded her too much of the face she woke up to the day after she had taken far too much of her mom’s pain medication. Her stomach had been pumped, her head felt like she’d been hit by a train but the worse pain was seeing her mother’s eyes. Red from hours of crying, just waiting for Nicole to wake up.

It was the worst night of her life, she truly believed that she didn’t want to be alive anymore and she was so deep in her own thoughts that she hadn’t really grasped what it would do to her mom. Her mom didn’t leave her bedside in the nearly twelve hours while Nicole was unconscious, just praying that she was going to make it. She’d never felt more ashamed than when she woke up and saw how heartbroken her mom was. Her mom knew just what to say though, she told her that everything was going to be alright, that she was never going back to that school and all she cared about was the fact that her baby was still alive. Nicole had cried in her mom’s arms, telling her how sorry she was and how she didn’t know what she was thinking. Coming so close to not being there anymore had shown her that that wasn’t what she wanted, she didn’t want to die.

 

Nicole told her mom that Waverly and her would speak to some people at school, friends first and see what the general opinion was before actually telling anyone about them. She needed to speak to Waverly about that but she knew she had to tell her mom something so she would stop worrying so much and maybe come around to the idea that Nicole and Waverly were going to be together no matter what she thought was best. Nicole didn’t know if Waverly would be happy keeping whatever they were a secret from everyone but she had to hope that Waverly would be fine with it, she couldn’t even think about potentially losing Waverly again.

“Is Waverly not out at school?”

“I uh…I think I might be the first girl she’s liked that that.” Nicole was nervous to tell her mom that particular piece of information because she knew it wouldn’t instill confidence in Waverly’s actions going forward. Nicole wasn’t actually positive about that fact though, she had mentioned Perry before but not any crushes she may have had before or after him. Her mom scrunched up her face and Nicole sighed. “That doesn’t mean anything mom…doesn’t mean she’s suddenly going to decide she doesn’t like girls, doesn’t like me! You know there is such a thing as bisexual, right?”

“I know, sweetie…I know.” She pulled Nicole in for a hug, Nicole knew her mom’s concern was just coming from a place of love. When Nicole told her mom about her first crush on a girl, she had worried that Nicole telling anyone else could make life difficult for her daughter. Little did she know just how difficult. “All those videos you made me watch after you told me you were gay, gave me more information than I ever got in thirty-five years of life experience!” Her mom laughed and kissed Nicole’s forehead. Nicole had got a little carried away.

She wasn’t ready to tell Waverly everything that had happened to her, she wasn’t ready for Waverly to see her in a totally different light but now she didn’t have much of a choice. Part of her knew that if Waverly learned everything and still wanted to be with her then that meant something. She just had to believe Waverly when she said it hadn’t changed anything.

 

 

~~~~~~~

 

Waverly couldn’t stop crying the whole walk home from Nicole’s, she couldn’t stop thinking about how awful things really must have been for Nicole for her to want to end her life. She didn’t even know the people from Nicole’s old school but she hated them. Every single one of them that had hurt Nicole.

She felt so much worse about kissing Nicole behind the field, even though she knew now that Nicole had in fact wanted to kiss her. She couldn’t get Susan’s words out of her head, ‘She needs to know how serious this is’ and Waverly did, she understood just how desperate Susan would be to make sure Nicole didn’t go through the same thing again and she had kissed her somewhere where anyone could have seen them.

Waverly didn’t care if they had to keep whatever they were under wraps until they left school, or forever if it meant that she could be with Nicole. In an ideal world, she would tell everyone they were together because she knew that she could handle whatever anyone said about her as long as she was with Nicole. This wasn’t an ideal world though and Nicole had gone through something awful so Waverly decided right then and there that Nicole would set the pace. She didn’t ever want Nicole to feel like she was in danger again so she would decide who knew about them, if it was no one or if it was everyone. Waverly knew Nicole didn’t like pretending to be someone she’s not but that didn’t mean it didn’t still petrify her that people might not take it well. Waverly would have to speak to Wynonna and make sure she didn’t say anything to anyone, Purgatory was a small town and word definitely spread quickly.

By the time she got home she was sniffling the last few tears her body could physically manage, she couldn’t remember the last time she felt so emotionally spent. Wynonna was sitting in the living room with her leather boots up on the coffee table when she walked in. Waverly narrowed her eyes on them, Gus must not have been home or else Wynonna would have been getting a slap round the back of her head. Gus had some sort of superhuman ability of knowing when someone in her house had their feet up on something they shouldn’t. Wynonna groaned at Waverly’s dedication to Gus’ rules and plopped her feet down on the floor. Satisfied that Wynonna wouldn’t put them up again as soon as her attention was somewhere else, Waverly rubbed at her eyes and felt how dry her skin had become. It felt like she’d been crying for most of the day.

“You’re a bit of an emotional rollercoaster today.” Wynonna sighed and Waverly opened her eyes to see her sister gesturing towards her face, she hadn’t looked in a mirror all afternoon but she imagined her face was giving entirely too much away. “Something else happen with Nicole?” Wynonna got to her feet and made her way over to where Waverly was standing in the doorway. She looked like she was ready to jump on her bike again, at least this time she actually seemed to be waiting for confirmation that Nicole had done something that necessitated such action.

“No, Wynonna!” Waverly didn’t mean her voice to come out quite so angry but she was pissed at her sister. Not only had she totally flipped out on Nicole and caused her to have a panic attack, she hadn’t listened to Waverly and Waverly did not like being ignored. She softened her voice, she knew Wynonna’s actions were coming from a place of concern. “No…I just found out…her mom doesn’t like me.” Waverly couldn’t tell Wynonna what she had learned about Nicole but she was pretty sure her quick save was actually true. Her shoulders slumped, maybe Susan wouldn’t be ok with Waverly hanging out at their house ever again.

“Waves, literally everybody likes you! Didn’t they do a vote or some shit?” Wynonna placed her hands onto Waverly’s shoulders as she spoke and Waverly just rolled her eyes. The running joke was starting to get old, yes Waverly was popular around town but she didn’t want jokes from Wynonna, she needed her older sister to give her some support, especially now since she wasn’t sure she could go to her friends and ask for help on this.

“Wynonna…she doesn’t like that me and Nicole are…” Waverly trailed off trying to find the words that fit and she came up empty. She threw her hands up in the air and waved them around as Wynonna ducked out of the way so as to not get an accidental slap to the face. “Whatever we are…”

“Oh.” Wynonna’s face fell and once she was sure that Waverly’s flailing arms were securely by her side again she repositioned her hands on Waverly’s shoulders. “Not a fan of the gays, huh?” Was Waverly gay? She hadn’t really thought about it…all she knew was that she liked Nicole. She had like Perry too, she had been attracted to him and she had definitely been attracted to other guys in the past. Had she felt attraction to girls before Nicole? She definitely appreciated the way some girls looked and she had definitely stated at one time or another that she had a ‘total girl-crush’ on some female celebrities. Maybe she was bi? She figured it wasn’t desperately important to pin point exactly what her sexuality was right at that very moment, she had time to work all that out. All that mattered currently was that she knew she was interested in Nicole.

“That’s not it Wynonna, at least I really don’t think it is…Nicole moved here cause she got bullied a lot at her last school.” Waverly flinched at her own words, she hated the mental images that crept into her mind when she thought about it. “She was outed there and her mom is worried that the same thing is gonna happen here if people find out about us. She just wants to protect Nicole.”

“Red took down Champ with a single punch, I don’t think she needs protecting!” Wynonna laughed and Waverly shot a glare her way. She couldn’t understand how Wynonna could be so oblivious to Nicole’s reaction when Wynonna shouted at her.

“You saw her today when you started shouting at her, right? She’s been through a lot and she doesn’t handle be yelled at or feeling threatened very well!” Waverly watched as realisation dawned on her sisters face, Wynonna really must have been in full-on protective sister mode to have missed just how freaked out Nicole got.

“Shit…yeah, I shouldn’t have done that.” Wynonna dropped her hands from Waverly’s shoulders and stuffed them into her jeans. Waverly knew she cared about Nicole, she would always care about her little sister more but she would never have purposefully made Nicole feel so threatened. “I just…you’re my baby sister and thought she’d done something to hurt you…”

“I know, Wynonna…but you can’t just jump to conclusions before hearing the whole story! All I said was her name and you flew off the handle! If I need you to fight my battles for me, I’ll ask ok? Otherwise, let me handle my problems on my own!” Waverly sighed, she had survived for over a year without Wynonna being there to back her up and it was nice to have someone always on her side now that she was back home but it wasn’t necessary. She was hurt by Nicole but all she wanted when she came home was to cry about and have her sister help her through it, she didn’t want Wynonna to hurt Nicole in return.

“Yeah…you’re right. I’ll apologise.”

“Thank you, she’ll be over after school tomorrow.” Waverly pulled Wynonna into a hug. Even if Wynonna didn’t really have a choice about whether or not she would have to apologise to Nicole, Waverly appreciated Wynonna admitting that it was needed.

“So what actually happened? Why were you so upset earlier?” They sat down on the couch and Waverly explained what had happened. From her mum catching them cuddled up in bed, the fact that they really had only just slept in the same bed together and how Nicole’s mom clearly got in her head about how bad it could be if people found out about them. Nicole pulling away from Waverly had felt horrible but knowing that she was actually wanted had dulled the sting it initially caused. She kept the more personal details relating to why Nicole’s mom was so worried to herself, even if she knew Wynonna would understand, it was not her place to tell anyone what Nicole went through.

Wynonna felt even worse about storming up to Nicole after Waverly explained just how hard all of this must be for Nicole and promised she’d never interfere with their stuff again unless Nicole did something that Waverly felt deserved Wynonna’s wrath. Waverly was sure that was never going to be a possibility but she thanked her sister all the same.

When Wynonna had clearly had enough of the heart-to-heart, Waverly went off to focus on the homework she had ignored all weekend, it was a little hard to concentrate when the girl you’d kissed all night didn’t reply to your messages the next day. Waverly had been a nervous wreck, thinking that she’d totally messed up their friendship, that in the clear light of day Nicole had decided that she didn’t actually like Waverly that way. That she had just got caught up in the moment and that she wouldn’t want to do it again. Waverly stressed out about it until she eventually fell asleep, still dressed in the clothes she had worn to Nicole’s the previous night.

Waverly needed something to keep her mind from going over and over what she had learned about Nicole’s past and school work really was doing the trick. When she made it onto her English homework she realised that her and Nicole never did get a chance to go over what she’d missed in English and she had promised to call her later so she decided a break had been earned.

“Hey!” Nicole’s voice coming through the phone instantly made Waverly smile, she’d never been so happy to hear someone sound so genuinely pleased to hear from her.

“Hey…so I realised we never actually went over what I missed in class!”

“Oh…right.” Nicole paused and Waverly worried that bringing up the fact they’d not got round to it would make Nicole feel awkward about why they hadn’t actually got round to it. “You didn’t actually miss anything…I just wanted you to come over.” Nicole laughed and Waverly relaxed.

“Smooth, Haught!” Waverly giggled as she repositioned herself in bed, settling in for what she hoped would be a nice, long conversation. They’d not had a chance to just chat, except for the few minutes behind the field when both of them were obviously putting off the real conversation they needed to have. Waverly had missed just talking to her friend.

“Yeah well, I try!” Waverly loved it when Nicole sounded so confident, she knew there were a lot of things Nicole was dealing with but in the moments when her self-assured, strong personality came through Waverly hoped that one day Nicole would be able to get to a point where that was her default. Waverly wondered if that had been the person she was before everything had happened, before people had knocked her down and made her feel like her life wasn’t worth living.

Waverly made sure that Nicole knew Wynonna would be apologising for her behaviour outside the school that day and just how bad she did feel about it. Waverly knew from experience that Wynonna’s apologies could often leave a lot to be desired so she wanted Nicole to know that it was in fact going to be genuine. She double checked then that Nicole still wanted to actually come round, to talk about everything and Nicole confirmed. Waverly was nervous to learn it all because she genuinely thought she might not stop crying after hearing about it but if Nicole was ready to share that part of her life with Waverly then Waverly had to accept it so she could be there for Nicole. She would be as supportive as Nicole needed, as quiet or as vocal as Nicole wanted afterwards and if she didn’t want to talk about it again after saying what she had to say, Waverly would respect that.

They talked on the phone until Waverly couldn’t ignore her rumbling stomach anymore and reluctantly decided she should go get something to eat. Nicole made sure she was aware that she’d be picking her up for school the next day and every day from then on. Waverly couldn’t wipe the smile off her face the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Nicole was glad that everything still seemed to feel normal with Waverly. There was no awkwardness on the phone the night before and when she picked her up for school she didn’t avoid eye contact or act any differently. Nicole had been terrified that Waverly would see her in a totally different light but as far as she could tell, that hadn't happened.

Nicole hesitated once Waverly was settled in the car, she wondered if it would be alright to kiss her. She’d been thinking about the next time she would be able to since Waverly had left her the day before. When Waverly’s eyes found Nicole’s lips after they had said their good mornings all hesitation went out the window and Nicole leaned forward to capture Waverly’s lips in a proper greeting. Waverly’s hands wound their way into Nicole’s hair to pull Nicole closer and deepen the kiss.

 

“Sorry!” Waverly said as she pulled back from the kiss, a blush just slightly colouring her cheeks. Her eyes seemed to do a quick scan up to the house and Nicole realised she had been so focused on the kiss, she didn’t even think about who might have seen them. Waverly seemed satisfied that no one had witnessed it and focussed back on Nicole. “I’m just super aware that I’m not going to be able to do that all day.”

 

“Yeah but…we could find somewhere at school where we can.” Nicole ran her finger along Waverly’s jaw line before she placed a quick peck to her lips and pulled out of the driveway. Waverly had been at Purgatory High for long enough to figure out where kids would go to make out and not get caught, Nicole was sure she’d have some ideas of where they could sneak off to. She wasn't sure how long she could go without kissing her again.

 

Waverly informed Nicole that she had messaged Jeremy that morning asking to meet up in the library during lunch so they could have a talk about him being out at school, Waverly asked if she was ok with Jeremy knowing about them and Nicole smiled to herself. Nicole didn’t even need to tell Waverly that being open at school might not be something she was ready for straight away, she just knew and that made Nicole worry a little less. Waverly was clearly ready to tell people that they were…whatever they were but she was obviously letting Nicole call the shots and it felt good. Safe. Nicole was happy to let Jeremy know they are together but struggled to bring up the bigger issue about that conversation. What would they say they were? Girlfriends? Neither of them had used that word yet and Nicole was hesitant just in case it scared Waverly off, what if she wasn’t ready to put a label on them just yet?

 

In the end, even though Nicole was happy enough to tell Jeremy, they didn’t actually get a chance to really get into it. As soon as they met up with him and asked how being out had been for him he launched into his plans for starting a GSA and pulled out a binder from his backpack to show them everything he had gathered together in order to get the group going. Jeremy seemed like he could talk for forever and a day, Nicole hadn’t really spoken to him before but he seemed really nice. Maybe a little excitable but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He was a small kid and pretty scrawny so if someone wanted to pick on him for being gay, Nicole wasn’t sure he’d have much power to stop them but that didn’t seem to be the case. Her hopes that things really would be different this time were only increasing.

 

“I’ve got a list of teachers who want to help and the principal is really excited about it but we need student support as well!” Jeremy handed over the page with around twenty teachers names written down, Nicole couldn’t believe how different this school was to her last. “I’m not exactly that popular but Waverly, you know everyone! Maybe you could help get some other students involved?” Jeremy asked excitedly, not once questioning why they had even asked him about his experiences at school. Maybe Nicole really was that obvious, Wynonna had worked it out the first time they’d met but no one else had said anything. Maybe they just didn’t care.

 

They came up with a plan and Waverly gave him a few names of people she thought would like to get involved, she’d do the rounds and try and get some more but it was a good start and Jeremy seemed absolutely thrilled. Nicole squeezed Waverly’s knee and smiled as Jeremy talked animatedly about how starting the group would look great on his university applications in a couple years.

 

After they left Jeremy, Nicole wouldn’t see Waverly until the end of the day and while she wished they had more time together, part of her knew she needed some time to get her thoughts together so she could actually speak to Waverly after school. Splitting her attention between keeping herself calm and her classes had become a daily occurrence and she seemed to be getting better at it but that fear was ever present. She didn’t know how it was going to go, she’d never had to speak about it to someone who wasn’t a doctor or her mom.

 

Nicole stood leaning against her car at the end of the day, waiting for Waverly to make her way over and trying to appear a lot more collected than she actually felt. She could see Waverly walking along with Chrissy and Steph, laughing and talking as they drew closer. It made Nicole flashback to the girls who used to talk about her close enough that she could hear exactly what they were saying and so she would know they were laughing about her, at her. Waverly’s smile when she noticed Nicole made that all disappear though, Waverly would never be one of those girls and she knew that Chrissy and Steph weren’t like that either. Despite the fact they were two of the most popular girls in school, Chrissy being head cheerleader and Steph apparently having the eye of every boy their age, they were really nice people and Nicole was pretty sure it wasn’t just because she was friends with Waverly. They were the polar opposites of their counterparts from Nicole’s old school.

Even as Chrissy spoke to Waverly, her eyes never left Nicole’s, she could feel her cheeks heating up and the need to bring their lips together taking over. Waverly’s shy smile in her direction led Nicole to believe she might have been feeling the exact same.

“Are you gonna come to Shorty’s tonight?” Steph asked and Waverly shook her head, eyes still locked on Nicole’s.

“Sorry guys, I’ve got plans with Nicole.” They had all stopped just a few steps away from Nicole’s car and Nicole could feel herself being drawn forward but she forced herself to stay by her car, lest she give them both away. She gave a small wave and a smile as Waverly mentioned their plans and she watched as Steph and Chrissy looked at each other over Waverly’s head. Waverly could obviously feel it and she looked to each of them in turn. “What?”

“Nothing…have fun you guys!” Chrissy sang as she pulled Steph away and walked off towards her car. Nicole watched as they walked away and both of them turned around to look at her. Chrissy and Steph giving her what seemed like a nod of approval each which Nicole didn’t really know what to make of.

“Did you tell them?” Nicole asked, nervous to find out that Waverly hadn’t kept her word. She really didn’t like that her brain's automatic reflex was to mistrust someone who had never given her a reason to do so.

“No but I think they’ve known for a while that I like you…Chrissy always gets this look in her eye when I talk about you.” Waverly blushed and shuffled the few steps closer so she was standing just close enough that Nicole could smell her perfume. She wanted so badly to brush the little wisp of hair that had come loose from Waverly’s over the shoulder braid behind her ear and she had to bite her lip to control the urge. “Ready to go?”

“Y-yeah…” Nicole snapped out of her thoughts and opened the passenger door for Waverly before walking round to her own. She was looking forward to spending some alone time with Waverly but that did mean she had to talk. She was incredibly nervous, just thinking about the events that led up to that night was making her feel sick to her stomach but she knew having Waverly there to ground her would make it easier. Not ok but just easier.

 

As promised, Wynonna apologized to Nicole before making herself scarce and leaving them all alone in the house. It wasn't a half bad apology and Nicole could tell that Wynonna really did feel bad about jumping to conclusions. She had hurt Waverly by telling her they couldn't be together, Nicole couldn't deny that but she would never hurt Waverly in the way Wynonna had assumed. Wynonna was protective over Waverly, something that Nicole was definitely thankful for, just not when it was directed towards her.

 

They sat on the couch in the living room, Gus and Curtis apparently wouldn’t be home for a while and Nicole moved in to kiss Waverly, like she’d wanted to do all day since their brief moment of privacy in her car that morning. She needed a reminder of why she felt she could tell Waverly everything, open her barely healed wounds and be completely honest. Waverly, much like that morning, pulled Nicole closer instantly.

 

“God I’ve been waiting to do that all day!” Waverly blushed after they pulled apart, Nicole leaned her forehead against Waverly’s and sighed in agreement.

 

“Me too!” It was like a drug kissing Waverly, she didn’t think she would ever get bored of it. She took a steadying breath and looked in Waverly’s eyes. Willing herself to handle what she knew had to come next. “I think I’m ready to talk about it.”

 

“Are you sure?” Waverly asked, concern etched clearly on her face and Nicole nodded. They repositioned themselves more comfortably on the couch and Waverly took Nicole’s hand in her own as Nicole started talking.

 

She watched the sadness and anger on Waverly’s face as she spoke about just how bad things were at her old school and although she was the one reliving horrible memories she still felt the need to comfort her. She eventually got to the night when Nicole had decided that everything was too much. She braced herself, she hadn’t thought about that night in some time because it really was too painful but with Waverly’s fingers drawing small patterns on the back of her hand she felt she could make it through.

 

Waverly squeezed her hand every now and again as she spoke and it kept her in the present, not allowing herself to be sucked back down into those feelings of loneliness or despair. She explained all about the party she was at, how it was supposed to be just a few people but that didn't last long. She showed up, which was when Nicole decided just to leave. She didn't say goodbye to the one person she still considered a friend, she just grabbed a nearly full bottle of vodka from the kitchen and got out of there. Away from all the people that were making her life miserable and deciding to drown her sorrows. Nicole closed her eyes, she knew that the hardest part of the story to tell was coming up and her heart started to beat a little too fast. Her breath was coming out in sharp bursts through her nose.

 

“Hey…” Waverly pulled Nicole into her side and kissed the top of her head. “You don’t have to tell me.”

 

“I do…” Nicole shook her head and opened her eyes, she kept them focused on where her and Waverly’s hands were joined as she carried on. She needed Waverly to know now, to understand because she needed to know if Waverly really would still be there for her or not. “So… she turned up, her arm wrapped around some guys waist and his arm over her shoulder. I wanted to be sick. I don’t think I was jealous ‘cause I hated her by that point but I just knew she was doing it all for show. She didn’t like him, barely even spoke to him before we…broke up or whatever you’d call it!” The more she played up the fact that she wasn’t into girls, the more it just looked like Nicole had forced her into it.

 

Nicole made her way past them, hoping to get outside without any more hassle but the guy had other ideas. He shoved Nicole just as she was getting to the front door and told Nicole to stay away from his girl. That she wasn’t like Nicole and that she shouldn’t think she could just do whatever she wanted with someone who didn’t want to.

 

“I should have walked away but I was just so tired of it all. Every second of my day was spent wondering when the next person would do or shout something horrible at me and it was exhausting.” Nicole said as she gripped Waverly’s hand tighter. She continued explaining to Waverly, how she started to defend herself, told him how she had kissed Nicole first and that Nicole would never, ever make someone do something they didn’t want to do or ask them to be something they weren’t but he didn’t care. Everyone had made up their mind about Nicole already, nothing she could say would change that.

 

“He told me to leave a party that he wasn't even invited to, ‘Why don’t you do everyone a favour and just go away’ were his exact words. So I did and as I walked home, I drank like half of what was left in the bottle of vodka. My head was a mess and all I could think about was what he had said. I’d thought about it before…going away…for good…” Waverly sniffed beside her and Nicole looked to see tears in her eyes, she wiped them away with the pad of her thumb before kissing her cheek. Waverly held on tight to Nicole’s hand with both of hers now, well aware of what had to be coming next. The pills washed down with the rest of the vodka.

 

“I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the hospital and saw my mom. I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted as soon as I woke up.” Nicole wiped at the few tears that had fallen from her eyes and leaned back against the couch. She pulled her hand out from within Waverly’s and pushed both her palms into her eyes and tried to get herself to stop crying. It was a lot easier to tell Waverly than she thought it was going to be but she couldn’t stop seeing her mom’s face.

 

Her mom hadn’t realised how bad it had got for Nicole, she blamed herself for not paying enough attention or for working too much but Nicole had just been so good at hiding it. There was no way she could have known and it killed Nicole to think she had made her mom blame herself in anyway. That’s why she was so scared of Nicole being open about herself somewhere new, she hadn’t seen the signs before and she was terrified she wouldn’t see them if it happened again. Nicole knew her mom was not entirely convinced that Nicole would never try again and her words after she had told Waverly only confirmed that. Nicole knew that wasn’t what she wanted. It seemed so simple after she had woken up, if she had only talked to her mom about how she was feeling before maybe things would have been different.

Waverly moved closer to her, she could feel the couch dipping beside her and Waverly pulled Nicole’s hands away from her face. Waverly kissed her softly and wiped away the couple tears from Nicole’s cheeks. She collapsed into Waverly’s front and hugged her tightly.

“You probably think I’m some total freak now…” Nicole mumbled into her chest, partly just because she just needed to hear Waverly tell her otherwise. Waverly pulled Nicole’s head up so she could look her in the eye.

“ I am so sorry you had to go through that Nicole. You’re not a freak. You are so amazing, it’s unreal!” Waverly moved her hands to frame Nicole’s face and looked at her with such genuine care that Nicole didn’t really even know how to respond. Waverly wasn’t horrified or repulsed, she wasn’t scared away and Nicole had no idea how amazing that would feel. She had hoped, she had so much hope that it wouldn’t change things but she had still been petrified that it might.

“Yeah?” Nicole leaned into Waverly’s hand that was cupping her cheek, taking comfort in the touch.

“Yeah, baby.” Waverly let her fingers trail down Nicole’s face with a feather-light touch, it made all of Nicole’s hairs stand on end and she smiled.

“Baby?” Nicole asked as Waverly blushed and ducked her head but Nicole pulled her closer, ghosting her lips just over Waverly’s. “I like that…I like it a lot!” Nicole brought Waverly’s chin closer with the tip of her finger until they were connected and Waverly moved herself onto Nicole’s lap without breaking the kiss.

 

“Gus and Curtis could be home soon…we could move upstairs if you want to?” Waverly spoke with her lips brushing against Nicole’s, both of them clearly not wanting to move further apart from each other and Nicole nodded. Nicole was feeling flustered, she wasn’t sure if it was the hand running up the outside of her thigh as Waverly spoke or the fact that Waverly still wanted to kiss her and touch her like that after Nicole had told her everything but she was taking solace in it. She took Waverly’s offered hand willingly and followed her up the stairs.

 

Waverly led her to the bed, she knew that’s where they would end up if they went up there but something in Nicole stirred as she watched Waverly sit down and then edge herself back up the bed until she was laying, head on the pillow, waiting for Nicole to join her. Nicole crawled over the bed until she was leaning above Waverly, holding off from kissing her again just to take it all in. The way Waverly looked at her, the way she bit her lip when she stared at Nicole’s and the way her eyes looked even more beautiful with her pupils dilated, the sunlight that filtered in through the window accentuating it perfectly. Nicole felt so unlikeable for so long, she never thought anyone would look at her like that again but there Waverly was, she still wanted her and that did something to Nicole.

When Waverly had stayed over, Nicole had been sure that Waverly hadn’t kissed her as much after they left the couch downstairs because she didn’t want to push Nicole further than she was ready to go but now Waverly knew something about Nicole, something she wasn’t sure she’d ever be willing to share with anyone else. Her initial hesitation that first night they kissed had a little to do with her fear of the unknown but mostly she needed to trust Waverly before anything more serious happened and now she did. She felt closer to Waverly than ever and she thought she might be ready to feel physically closer to her as well.

Nicole let her hands trail down Waverly’s sides as they continued to kiss, slipping her hands just underneath the bottom of her top as Waverly started doing the same. Nicole pulled away from Waverly’s mouth and started placing kisses down her neck while Waverly moaned at the action. She could feel Waverly’s legs moving underneath her until they no longer were and suddenly they had been wrapped round her waist pulling her down further into Waverly. Nicole let out a sound of pleasure as she pushed herself further, feeling the friction through her jeans just a little as she moved her hips against the roll of Waverly’s own. She’d never gone further than where she was right there with anyone but she knew she wanted to with Waverly, her whole body was screaming to get closer to her.

It felt different with Waverly, it felt right. Her skin felt like it was on fire with every tentative brush of Waverly's fingers against her skin. She trusted Waverly, more than she had ever trusted anyone before and she knew that when they did give themselves to each other it was going to be incredible but a car pulling up outside caught Nicole's attention and she edged herself back. Waverly groaned but as she opened her eyes, Nicole could see only concern there.

"Was that too much?" Waverly asked, clearly a little embarrassed with how quickly she had got carried away but Nicole had been right there with her.

"No, definitely not..." Nicole leaned back in, placing a quick kiss to Waverly's lips. She didn’t want Waverly thinking that Nicole hadn't enjoyed every second of that. "I think Gus and Curtis are home."

"Oh." Waverly blushed. They couldn’t go further now, not without getting caught and while a small part of that excited Nicole in a way she never thought it would, she knew Waverly probably did not want to get into that conversation with Gus and Curtis just yet. They would have time, they had only just begun to discover each other.

Nicole moved in for one last kiss as the front door opened downstairs, savoring every lip movement and tongue brush until Gus called up the stairs after Waverly. After they finally broke apart, Waverly shouted to Gus that she’d be down in a minute.

Waverly pulled them to a stop at the top of the stairs and peered down them quickly before taking Nicole's face in her hands and bringing their lips together once more. It was a little toothy because Nicole couldn't stop her smile but someone clearling their throat at the bottom of the stairs broke them out of the moment instantly.

 

Nicole stared down at Curtis with wide eyes and Waverly's grip became a vice around her hand. Curtis gave them a nod and a wink right before Gus walked into the hallway and Nicole felt herself relax as Waverly's hand loosened around her own, slowly and then dropping it completely before Gus could see. Waverly walked down the stairs, Nicole following closely behind as Gus' eyes travelled upwards.

“Oh Nicole! Are you staying for dinner?” Gus smiled warmly, first at her and then at Waverly.

“Not tonight, mom wants me home. Maybe sometime soon though?” Nicole asked, hopefully not sounding as eager as she felt. She'd totally forgotten about her and her mom's plans that evening with Waverly's body so close to hers but she knew she couldn't pretend she hadn't remembered now. She really did like eating at Waverly’s, Gus was a phenomenal cook and, on the days, when her mom worked over dinner time it was nice to eat around a table with people rather than sitting in front of the TV with a pizza or something else easily shoved in the oven.

“Welcome any time!” Curtis beamed and Nicole saw how Waverly’s smile completely covered her face. Gus concurred and went back through the house to the kitchen followed by Curtis. He shot a quick smile over his shoulder and Waverly squeezed into Nicole’s side.

“So I take it that means he’s ok with it?” Nicole whispered softly into Waverly’s ear. Waverly nodded and hugged into her side tighter before Nicole wrapped her arms around Waverly properly and kissed the side of her head. Nicole was so happy for Waverly, Curtis didn't mind and that would mean a lot to her.

 

“Are you sure you can’t stay just a little longer?” Waverly pleaded as they made their way into the living room so Nicole could pick up her jacket from the couch.

 

“My mom really does want me home but I’ll see you tomorrow y’know? And the next day and the next day and the next!” Nicole laughed, shrugging into her jacket and moving to stand just a breath away from Waverly. Waverly swallowed hard and checked over her shoulder before pulling Nicole down for a quick kiss, quick but hard and Nicole could tell just how little Waverly actually wanted her to leave. It warmed her heart just knowing that she was wanted somewhere that she desperately wanted to be too.

“Yeah…I know. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Waverly smiled as she pulled herself away from Nicole, she pecked her lips one last time before she headed out the door, feeling like she was floating a few inches off the ground as she made her way to her car.

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Curtis found Waverly after dinner, laying on the couch reading her newest book and he patted her legs so he could fit in the space beside her. She pulled herself into a seated position and waited for the conversation that was about to take place, only a little nervous about what he might say.

 

“I’m happy for you, she seems like a good kid.” Curtis smiled and Waverly tried hard to fight the blush that she knew was colouring her cheeks.

 

“She is…” Waverly sighed as the relief washed over her at Curtis’ confirmation of his support. She put her bookmark in between the pages of her book and set it down on the coffee table. “I really like her.”

 

“Well I would hope so!” Curtis chuckled and Waverly playfully pushed him away, he bumped his shoulder into hers and then placed his arm around her. “Wynonna know?”

 

“Yeah, she kind of pushed me to go for it.” Waverly admitted with a shy smile, she hadn’t properly thanked Wynonna yet for giving her the courage to just do what she wanted to do.

 

“Well, don’t worry about Gus. You tell her when you’re good and ready!” He pulled Waverly in closer and kissed the top of her head. Waverly wasn’t sure when she would be ready to tell Gus, it was a big deal, a much bigger deal than telling Curtis. She knew Curtis would support her no matter what, he supported every single thing she did without question. Gus was the only mother that Waverly had ever really known and if she wasn’t ok with her and Nicole she didn’t have a clue how she would handle that.

 

“Love you, Curtis.”

 

“Love you too, kiddo.”

 

 

The next few weeks at school felt electric, stealing kisses from Nicole whenever she could, in the corridors when no one was around, behind the field or in the bathroom at the far end of the school that always seemed to be empty. Waverly couldn’t get enough of Nicole’s hands discovering her body over her clothes in the short moments they stole before Nicole's mom would come back from work and more recently certain items of clothing were starting to get removed. Waverly had not been prepared to see Nicole's chest, covered only in a bra but it was definitely a sight she wanted to see more of.

Things with Susan had definitely improved, she seemed to be doing more than just tolerating Waverly's presence but she was pretty adamant that Nicole's door remain open whenever they were in there alone. It actually made it easier to tell when she was coming up the stairs and they would quickly become very interested in whatever movie Nicole's TV was playing.

They talked about taking the next step, Nicole surprised Waverly by being the one to bring it up and both were eager to see what they felt comfortable with but without somewhere other than Nicole’s car to get privacy for more than a short time it was damn near impossible to plan some exploration. Nicole was insistent that their first time together not be in her car. Waverly could tell that her resolve would probably break soon if they didn’t come up with another idea though. Nicole’s mom had stopped nightshifts for the time being and Gus and Curtis always seemed to be home when Nicole was able to come over. It was only getting harder and harder for Waverly to keep her hands of Nicole any time they were alone.

They had decided together to keep what was going on between them to themselves for a little while longer. After the first week of sneaking around, Waverly actually found that it could be quite thrilling. She wasn’t in any hurry to have people find out about them, if it meant that their secret intimate moments wouldn’t be so secret anymore.

 

Finally they seemed to be gifted a golden opportunity. Gus and Curtis were heading to his brother’s for the night, it was his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and they had a big party planned. Waverly and Wynonna were both invited but Waverly made up some lie about having a big paper due and Wynonna was completely honest and said she’d rather ‘eat horse shit than mingle with a bunch of middle-aged farmers’. Thankfully Curtis wasn’t offended because he had already assumed that Wynonna would not have wanted to come, he did give Waverly a stern look after her excuse though. He could always tell when she was lying. She eventually told him that the reason for wanting to stay in Purgatory was that Chrissy was actually having a party that night. She didn’t add that Nicole had been invited too so it just made sense to ask her to stay over afterwards and whatever happened, happened. Waverly knew what she wanted to happen but only if Nicole was just as ready as she was.

 

They were sat behind the field at lunch when Waverly asked her to come to the party that night with her and then stay over, she kissed her hard when she agreed to both offers and they lost track of time which led to them rushing into English a little late. The whispering started almost immediately after they entered and Waverly decided it was best not to spend as much time sneaking glances at Nicole that day in class. The rumour mill had yet to pick up on them and Waverly wanted to keep it that way until Nicole was totally ready and besides they still hadn’t really talked about what they were yet. It seemed crazy to Waverly that they still weren’t calling each other girlfriend, that was definitely what they were but every time Waverly thought she had the courage to simply ask Nicole a wave of fear hit her.

What if Nicole didn't want to put a label on them? Rationally, she knew that it wasn't because Nicole didn't like her as much as Waverly though. Nicole seemed just as crazy as about her as Waverly was for Nicole but that just left Waverly wondering why they hadn't talked about it yet.

 

“I can’t wait to see you tonight!” Waverly leaned over and kissed Nicole softly before moving to get out of the car. Nicole pulled her back before she got too far and kissed her again. Waverly laughed and wrapped her arms around Nicole’s neck, Gus and Curtis had left that morning so she knew no one would catch them outside the house. Well, maybe Wynonna but she didn’t care about that.

“Are you sure it’s ok if I come?” Nicole asked when she finally let Waverly go, Nicole looked nervous and Waverly couldn’t blame her. They had hung out with her friends before at school and once at Shorty’s but Nicole had yet to go to a party since being in Purgatory.

“I know the last party you went to was hard…but Chrissy keeps asking if you’re going to come, Steph too!” Waverly ran her hand down Nicole’s cheek, if she really didn’t want to go Waverly wouldn’t force her but her friends had definitely figured out something was going on between the two of them and just wanted to get to know Nicole better.

“They really seem ok with it? Us I mean?” Nicole's brow furrowed and Waverly's hand lingered on Nicole's chin with a soft touch.

“More than ok! If you don’t want to go we can just curl up on the couch and watch crappy movies…” Waverly watched as Nicole’s internal debate played out. She really wanted to go to the party but staying in with Nicole would be just as good and if the night ended the way Waverly hoped it would, she would have absolutely no complaints.

“Ok…let’s go to the party!” Nicole smiled and Waverly thought she actually looked excited, she wouldn’t want her just to say yes because Waverly wanted to go. “I’ll come round like eight and we can walk over together?”

“Perfect!” Waverly pecked her cheek and got out the car, skipping up the stairs ready to pick out an outfit for later that night. She’d picked out her underwear the day she found out Gus and Curtis were going to be away for the night and made sure to stash it somewhere so that Wynonna wouldn’t be able to get her hands on it.

 

The party was in full swing by the time Waverly and Nicole got there, Chrissy somehow managed to have the most epic parties, after the Gardner sisters, even though her dad was the Sheriff. He would head to the city every couple of months to attend training seminars on new police procedures and clearly trusted his daughter far too much. Nicole stayed close to her the entire time but Waverly didn’t mind, she loved that she was a safe place for Nicole. They stayed in the quieter rooms, drinking a little but not too much and making conversation while a lot of people danced and drank far too much in the living room. Waverly didn't want to get wasted, she wanted to remember this night for the rest of her life.

As the night started to wind down and a lot of people had left because they were too drunk or had to be home before their curfew, Waverly and Nicole found themselves standing in the kitchen with Chrissy, Steph and Beth Gardner. The less people there were around, the more she found it hard not to touch or kiss Nicole and she wondered if it would be ok in the presence of their closer friends. She knew her breath probably tasted like the stale beer she had been nursing all night and she figured that Chrissy’s mouthwash would be a good idea before going anywhere near Nicole’s mouth. Nicole had steered clear of beer all night as well as the vodka that someone had snuck out of their parents liquor cabinet. She instead drank slowly from the bottle of wine she had managed to sneak out of her own house without her mom noticing and all Waverly could think of was tasting it on her lips.

When Waverly returned from the bathroom, Nicole had jumped up onto the countertop and was conversing easily with Waverly’s friends even without Waverly actually being there. Something she hadn’t had the pleasure to witness before and she watched happily for a moment before joining them again.

Nicole had sat the bottle of wine between her legs on the counter and Waverly picked it up and took a swig as she looked into Nicole’s eyes. The taste mixed with the mouthwash was really weird but she needed an excuse to stand close to Nicole and get her attention without actively interrupting the conversation going on around them. Nicole’s attention fell completely on Waverly and she saw Nicole swallow hard as Waverly ran her tongue across her bottom lip, catching the drips of wine that had just missed her mouth.

Waverly placed the bottle to the side of Nicole and slotted herself between Nicole’s legs to face the rest of her friends, leaning her elbows back onto Nicole’s thighs. Nicole scooted herself forward a couple inches so they were more closely pressed together. Waverly smiled to herself as Nicole’s fingers brushed softly against her arms. She knew it was likely the wine giving Nicole the tiny boost in confidence she needed to touch her in front of other people but she was enjoying it just the same. Nicole’s fingers continued towards her exposed stomach, thanks to the crop top that Nicole liked so much and Waverly’s smile grew even wider as Nicole wrapped her arms around Waverly’s front and connected her hands together.

Waverly could see her friends smiling at them and Nicole’s breath was closer to her ear than it had been all night. She turned her head just a little and felt Nicole’s lips press gently into the side of her head. She brought her hand up to stroke the side of Nicole’s face and closed her eyes. She was suddenly aware that if she did kiss Nicole properly right then she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop.

“Want me to ask Wynonna to pick us up? Doc said he’d come get us whenever we wanted…” Waverly leaned back so she was speaking only to Nicole, Nicole breath was hot against her face and the urge to kiss her was becoming unbearable.

“Y-yeah…as long as you’re ready…” There was a double meaning in Nicole’s words and Waverly picked up on it instantly, she turned around in her arms to look up at her.

“I’m ready…are you?” Waverly smiled and Nicole pulled her just a fraction closer, lip tucked between her teeth.

“Yeah, I’m ready.” Nicole smiled and leaned in to kiss her, Waverly breath hitched as she felt Nicole’s hands splay across her back, warm and soft. She had almost forgotten that there were other people in the room until Chrissy cleared her throat behind them and they pulled apart with a mixture of frustration and embarrassment.

“Sorry…” Waverly laughed as she settled back into her spot between Nicole’s legs facing the rest of the group, ignoring the wide eyes she was getting from Beth. She pulled out her phone and text Wynonna hoping that she and Doc would get there as fast as possible.

 

Wynonna and Doc arrived pretty quickly but it still felt like too long and Waverly rushed their goodbyes to the remaining party goers before they headed for Doc’s car. They got into the backseat and in an instant Nicole was all over her, she caught Waverly’s bottom lip between her teeth and pulled at it just a little which Waverly couldn’t help but moan at.

“Jesus, Red! Can’t you wait til we get home?” Wynonna swatted at them from the front seat as Doc just laughed and Nicole apologised, she pulled back from Waverly but Waverly caught her by the sides of her jacket and pulled her back in for another kiss. It made her heart race that Nicole was clearly just as desperate as she was to get back to the house. It was all she could think about for days and now it was really going to happen.

 

They lay in Waverly’s bed, Waverly as Nicole’s hands started to traverse places she had never dared go before. One hand was slowly making its way up Waverly’s skirt while the other reached for the clasp of Waverly’s bra. The sensation of Nicole’s fingers on her skin was even more electrifying than normal, maybe it was the fact that she knew nothing would interrupt them if they continued to push it further than they’d ever gone before.

Nicole looked at Waverly for confirmation before releasing her bra, she couldn’t get over the way Nicole looked at her like she was the most exquisite thing she’d ever seen in her life. She had always been confident in the way she looked but having Nicole’s eyes watching every single curve of her frame like that made Waverly melt.

Waverly slid her bra straps off her shoulders after giving Nicole a slight nod and then removed it all together. Nicole’s breath stuttered in her throat and her hands dropped down onto her own stomach, as if she was afraid to touch Waverly’s bare chest. Waverly picked up one of her hands and brought it up to touch and Nicole cupped her softly, running a finger over the nipple before moving to the other. She teased them like she had done it a million times before.

Waverly ran her hands up Nicole’s naked stomach, past her still covered breasts and onto her neck. Nicole slowly started to push herself up a little and Waverly’s moan when Nicole took one of her nipples directly into her mouth was foreign even to herself. With Nicole raised off the bed, Waverly took action removing Nicole’s bra. Waiting for a hum of approval as her fingers danced across Nicole’s back.

She pushed Nicole back once it was removed so she could look at her, take in just how astonishing she looked. Eyes blown to black and hair a total mess, she looked at Waverly with so much desire it made her entire body tingle in anticipation.

Waverly leaned forward, taking direction from Nicole and put her mouth around one of her nipples. It sent a jolt straight to her core and she ground down into Nicole, eliciting the most delightful moan from both of them. Waverly’s hands were moving south, ghosting over Nicole’s belt and silently pleading that it would be ok with Nicole if she were to open it. Nicole’s hands quickly moved to start undoing the belt herself but Waverly stopped then, taking over the motion. She had to release Nicole’s nipple and bite down onto her lip to stop herself from moaning in eagerness as she did so.

“Are you sure?” Waverly asked, moving her mouth to Nicole’s neck and lightly pulling the skin between her teeth.

“Never been so sure of anything in my entire life.” Nicole sighed as Waverly’s teeth left the skin on her neck, placing a soft kiss there instead. Waverly opened Nicole’s jeans and pulled them down just enough to gain access. After a few teasing strokes over her underwear, Nicole clearly decided it wasn’t enough and pulled her jeans clean off along with her underwear and threw them somewhere away from the bed. Waverly smiled down at her completely naked body and let her fingers brush softly against tight curls at Nicole’s centre. Nicole was ready, so god damn ready and it made Waverly ache. She let her fingers tease and taste until she could see that Nicole couldn’t take it anymore and she pushed further inside.

Gliding over her clit made Nicole’s hips jump and Waverly kept a mental note of that, skirting around her entrance made her moan and again Waverly kept a note, when she slowly pulled her finger from her entrance all the way back to her starting position Nicole begged for more. Pleading with Waverly to touch her deeper, harder, so she could really feel it. Waverly gave her exactly what she wanted and Nicole pulled her closer before burying her face in her neck when Waverly entered her. Waverly had never felt so connected to someone in her entire life, the feel of Nicole around her fingers, one at first and then slowly two gently pushing in and out, was indescribable.

“Good, baby?” Waverly was aware that Nicole was awfully silent and she hoped that it was a good sign but she needed to make sure. She would stop at the slightest hesitation from Nicole.

“So good…holy…” Nicole’s body tensed and she gripped onto Waverly’s fingers but Waverly knew it was not quite the big show. She’d experimented enough with her own hand to know that it was just a glimmer of what was to come so she kept pushing. Nicole was very clearly no longer able to form words let alone sentences, the only sounds the occasional moan as Waverly brought her to the brink. She could feel it coming so she pressed her lips firmly to Nicole’s, she wanted them to be connected in more ways than one when she made her come undone for the first time.

Waverly sighed into Nicole’s mouth as she felt her pleasure starting to dissipate and Nicole urged her to look her in the eye. Waverly could tell there were words just waiting to be said but Nicole looked hesitant.

“What is it?”

“I want to…taste you…” Nicole blushed but Waverly felt another jolt square between her legs and let Nicole flip their positions quickly without protest. As she looked down at Waverly, she looked nervous. “Is that ok?”

“Yes!” Waverly almost screamed because bringing Nicole to ecstasy was amazing but feeling Nicole touch her, she knew, would be something else entirely. She unzipped her skirt and pulled it off along with her underwear in one fluid motion as Nicole watched unblinking. She had thought she might feel exposed or vulnerable the first time they saw each other like this but all she felt was safe, cared for and above all else, wanted.

“I’m not totally sure what to do…” Nicole admitted as she positioned herself between Waverly’s legs and Waverly understood. She knew how to make herself feel good using her hands so touching Nicole like that had felt relatively simple, her mouth though, she wasn’t so sure she would have done as good a job. She'd tried to do some research but Wynonna always seemed to burst into her room just as she was really starting to learn anything.

“Just…do what feels right. I’ll tell you what feels good, ok?”

“Ok.” Nicole pressed a quick kiss to each of Waverly’s thighs before inching forward and placing one directly onto her clit. Waverly almost lost it instantly but she knew there was so much more to come and she attempted to contain herself. Waverly prided herself on self-control and no other situation demanded it quite as much as Nicole’s mouth moving delicately and deliberately over each inch of Waverly like that.

Nicole’s tongue was like magic and she found herself gripping tightly onto Nicole’s hair as she continued her explorations. Waverly guessed, that much like herself, Nicole was keeping a mental note of everywhere that created the best responses from Waverly. She would revisit them over and over until Waverly’s short fingernails were digging into Nicole’s scalp and Waverly was breathing her name like a prayer. Waverly’s pleasure was more drawn out than Nicole’s, less urgent and when Nicole found her lips again it took her by surprise.

“Holy crap, Nicole!” Waverly gasped, pulling their bodies flush against one another and breathing heavily into Nicole’s shoulder. “Is that really the first time you’ve done that because…my god!”

“I may have done some research.” Nicole was blushing when Waverly’s leaned her head back to look at her, she captured her lips to dispel any embarrassment she may actually have been feeling about needing to figure out what to do.

“Me too, I'd say it definitely paid off!” Waverly laughed and encouraged Nicole to cuddle into her side, she buried her face back in Nicole’s neck and kissed her collarbone.

“Was that really your first time? I know you said you’d never…” Nicole asked and Waverly pulled herself back to see Nicole’s face covered in concern.

“First time…I’m glad it was with you.” Waverly said truthfully and Nicole sighed before pulling her in for an impossibly deep kiss. When she pulled back, Waverly saw her try and wipe her lips and she realised, only then, what she had been tasting there. Nicole looked concerned that Waverly was still all over her.

“Hey, don’t!” Waverly reached forward and stilled Nicole’s frantic wiping. “I like it, tasting me on you is…well, I didn’t know I’d like it so much.”

“Really?” Nicole asked, clearly a little shocked and Waverly nodded, kissing her again with more ferocity. Tongue searching out Nicole’s and she thought about all the little things like that they could find out together, discovering what Nicole really liked, what she really liked herself.

 

With all the pounding tension that had been vibrating between them all night satisfied Waverly succumbed to just how tired she was and she yawned. It earned a laugh from Nicole before it infected her too. Waverly reached out to turn the bedside lamp off before draping a leg over Nicole’s body and settling into a comfortable position to sleep in.

“Did you enjoy the party?” It was an innocent enough question in and of itself but Waverly hoped she was conveying the deeper meaning behind it. After hearing about the night Nicole tried to end her life, she only wanted good things for her, especially in social situations.

“I really did, I was really nervous but it was good.” Nicole sighed and peppered kisses to the side of Waverly’s head as she ran her fingers up and down Waverly’s skin on her back.

“I’m glad…Beth asked me if we were best friends tonight!” Waverly laughed, not because it was a ridiculous statement but because she wished she had known the thoughts going through her head when Nicole had kissed her in the kitchen. The look on her face had been pretty good though.

“Am I not your best friend?” Nicole sounded offended but the little giggle that followed her question betrayed her instantly.

“You definitely are…just don’t tell Chrissy I said that! She’d have a total fit!” Waverly knew Nicole was her best friend, no one else had really got her the way Nicole did. She was popular, people liked her but no one really made the effort to get to know her. To get to know what she liked, why she liked it, Nicole wanted to know everything about her.

“You’re mine too…best friend I’ve ever had.” Nicole pulled her even closer as her breathing slowed and Waverly could tell she would be fast asleep soon. Waverly didn’t doubt that she was Nicole’s best friend, after hearing how her old friends had basically abandoned her when things got tough. Even before anything happened between them Waverly was one of the few people to show real interest in Nicole, to make sure she was fitting in at school and actually be her friend. Waverly also knew the effect she had on Nicole when she was feeling anxious or about to have a panic attack, she had hoped that after her and Nicole got together that Nicole would be feeling better but she still had her moments. Being with Waverly wasn’t going to get rid of the thoughts that spiraled out of control in her head sometimes but Waverly had made a promise to herself that she was going to be there for her whenever she needed it.

Chapter Text

Waking up with Waverly in her arms this time was different. Their naked bodies still close together half under the pile of blankets but they had shifted a little during the night, so Nicole pulled Waverly back into her. As close as humanly possible. Her hands stroked gently along the soft skin of her back and Nicole could think of no better way to greet the day. Waverly let out a little moan and Nicole stilled her movements, not meaning to wake her up just yet. It was too late though, and Waverly's eyes flickered open slowly, a sleepy smile appearing on her face as she looked at Nicole.

"Mornin' baby." Waverly cooed as she stretched her arms above her head and rolled her neck around a little. Her arms fell around Nicole's neck and she started playing with Nicole's hair.

"Morning." Nicole knew she was smiling like a total idiot, but she couldn't care less. She was in Waverly's bed, naked , after the most phenomenal night of her life so far. She leaned her face closer into Waverly's, so she could give her a proper good morning. She was very much aware of how horrible her breath probably was, but Waverly didn't seem to care, drawing Nicole impossibly closer and deepening the kiss. Nicole sighed, so unbelievably happy when they broke apart but kept her forehead locked on Waverly's as the idiotic smile took over her face again. "I think last night was the best night of my life."

"Yeah?" Waverly raised her eyebrows and Nicole worried that maybe she shouldn't have voiced the thought out loud, but a beautiful smile graced Waverly's lips and Nicole's worry faded away. She nodded to Waverly, confirming what she had said was in fact the truth. "Me too…" Waverly blushed, and Nicole ran a finger down her reddened cheek with an understanding smile. Just thinking about Waverly's hands on her, IN her was making her flustered all over again.

Waverly shifted a little, pressing herself more firmly into Nicole's front and pushed her thigh forward. Nicole opened herself up and Waverly effortlessly slipped her thigh far enough between them to make Nicole whimper. She knew that Waverly could feel her coating her thigh and it seemed to spur her on, she bit down on her lip as she rolled her hips into Nicole and caught her eye. She stared for a moment before looking down at the pillow behind Nicole and speaking quietly.

"I think I want to do what you did last night…" The red that had covered Waverly's cheeks spread down her neck and across her chest. Nicole could see just how different Waverly was this morning, she was still confident in her movements but voicing her own desire without the party and the alcohol, that had been an excellent relaxant the previous night, she was clearly worried about Nicole's response. As if Nicole could ever not want Waverly to touch her, feel her, taste her. The mental image that filled Nicole's head of Waverly between her legs was enough to make her moan.

"Y-yeah?" The question came out a little strangled and Waverly seemed to enjoy the effect she was having on Nicole.

"Yes." Waverly said firmly and before Nicole really knew what was happening, Waverly was fully on top of her, kissing her hard and grinding down into her even harder. Kisses started to trail down Nicole's neck, across her collarbone, down between her breasts. Lower and lower until Waverly's warm breath was hovering right over Nicole's core. The sensation already enough that she needed to bring her lip between her teeth to stop herself from begging Waverly to touch her already.

Waverly splayed her hand across Nicole's stomach as she moved closer and closer, eyes completely fixed on Nicole's and she nodded. Nicole was sure the mounting pressure between her legs was going to make her explode the second Waverly actually touched her. When she did, Waverly's name fell from Nicole's lips in a shaking breath.

"Wow." Waverly said, making eye contact with Nicole again, her lips brushed delicately against Nicole's centre as she spoke and suddenly Nicole felt extremely shy. Waverly was tasting her, and she liked it. Nicole broke away from Waverly's eyes and focused on the ceiling until she could feel Waverly moving up her body. "Don't be embarrassed, baby."

Waverly's lips found hers and pressed softly as Nicole dumbly nodded, her words failing her as Waverly's hand picked up her motions until her mouth returned. Nicole brought her eyes back to Waverly and nodded more confidently which seemed to satisfy her. She started moving south again and this time her strokes were much more confident, eager and Nicole had to bunch her hands into the bed muddled hair atop Waverly's head just to keep from losing her mind completely. She cried out Waverly's name as she fell slowly and then all at once, covering her mouth just a second too late after realizing they were not alone in the house and that she was just probably, definitely a lot louder than either of them had been the night before.

"The noises I have heard coming from Wynonna's room…it's only fair she gets a taste of her own medicine!" Waverly pulled Nicole's hand from her mouth and replaced it with her lips, after a moment Nicole could understand what Waverly was saying the night before. Knowing just how much Waverly wanted her by tasting herself on Waverly's lips was incredible.

"Is that so?" Nicole quirked an eyebrow after pulling away from Waverly's mouth, an idea forming in her head and confidence growing. "Well I'd hate to let her off that easily!" She rolled Waverly onto her back and straddled her. Waverly stared up at her, eyes blown with desire and a beautiful smile on her face.

 

Nicole knew she had the most ridiculous grin on her face the whole drive home, her arm hanging out the driver side window as she hummed along to whatever song was playing on her radio. She didn't even have words to describe just how amazing the night before and that morning had been, every time she tried to think of them, her mind just filled with images of Waverly coming apart under her hands and mouth.

She didn't want to leave Waverly's but regretfully they both had homework they needed to get started on and Wynonna would not stop going on and on about how loud they had been that morning. Even though the satisfied smirk on Waverly's face was truly something to see, she couldn't handle anymore of Wynonna's Wynonna-ness that day. Doc had tried to get her to stop but Wynonna was clearly having far too much fun teasing her little sister.

 

"How was the party?" Her mom was sat at the kitchen table, eating a late lunch, when Nicole got home. The wide grin that Nicole couldn't stop even if she wanted to, still covered her face as all the amazing moments from the night before played out in her mind for the millionth time. Some even actually came from the party, kissing Waverly in the kitchen without a hint of fear and even chatting with Chrissy and Steph had been pretty great. They really did seem to like her, which she knew wouldn't actually change how Waverly felt about her, but it couldn't hurt to get closer to the other people in Waverly's life. They'd known Waverly since forever and Nicole was still technically the new kid, even if she did feel a million times more comfortable in Purgatory than she ever felt back home.

"It was really good, mom!" Nicole beamed and suddenly the image of Waverly going down on her that morning popped into her head and she sighed wistfully. Her mom quirked an eyebrow at her and Nicole blushed appropriately for just being caught having a sexy daydream in the presence of her mom.

"I'm glad you had a good time…might I suggest some make-up for that hickey on your neck though?" Her mom winked, and Nicole's face went completely pale, her eyes wide and her hand shot up to the cover the spot she knew Waverly may have got a little carried away on the night before.

Nicole ran back into the hallway to look in the mirror there, totally and completely embarrassed. She turned her head one way and then the other inspecting her neck to see just bad it was but there was nothing there, no sign of Waverly's eagerness. She narrowed her eyes. Her mom had totally played her.

"I hate you!" Nicole yelled through to her mom and stalked back through, eyes still narrowed as her mom laughed at her.

"I'm not going to pretend I don't know that Waverly's aunt and uncle weren't at home last night like you said they would be." Her mom raised her eyebrows at Nicole and she gulped, sometimes Nicole forgot just how small Purgatory was. "Or what you staying over last night means…"

"Sorry…" Nicole apologized, more for lying to her mom than anything else. She probably would do it again though, she wasn't in the least bit sorry that she and Waverly had slept together.

"It's fine, Nicole. I remember what it was like to be a teenager. I had you when I was younger than you are now for goodness sake, so we don't have to talk about it right now, but we will, ok?" Her mom smiled, and Nicole breathed a little easier. She might not have actively wanted to have that little chat with her mom… ever but at least she knew it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Awkward? Most definitely, but at least her mom wouldn't be worrying about Nicole having a child before she left high school. She couldn't begin to imagine how awkward that conversation would have been for her mom.

"Ok…" Nicole nodded, she figured that conversation was bound to happen at some point, so it might as well have happened when she was still pretty blissed out.

"And the open bedroom door rule still applies in my house…for now." Her mom raised a finger in Nicole's direction and Nicole had to try really hard to suppress her smirk. She knew it was definitely going to be harder to keep that up. "Just 'cause I know what you and your girlfriend are getting up to, doesn't mean I want to be anywhere near when it goes down!"

"Uh right…right, sure." Nicole's heart rate picked up, her mom had just called Waverly her girlfriend. Nicole threw her thumb over her shoulder. "I'm gonna…" Her mom nodded, no doubt reading her panic as embarrassment. Not that she wasn't embarrassed hearing her mom talk about her newfound sex life, but she had just realized that her and Waverly hadn't actually talked about what their relationship was. They hadn't actually used the word girlfriend.

Nicole had been so caught up in the bliss of it all that taking the time to have that conversation just hadn't even crossed her mind in well over a week. What if Waverly thought that Nicole didn't want to be her girlfriend? What if Waverly didn't want to be her girlfriend? For all intents and purposes, they were girlfriends in Nicole's eyes, but they still hadn't used that word yet…and they had just slept together.

Nicole had forgotten to charge her phone while she slept at Waverly's and so she stuck it on as soon as she got to her room. She watched until the dead screen came to life again then quickly pulled up Waverly's contact page. She got herself into the most comfortable position she could while her phone was still plugged in and called her, hopefully, girlfriend.

"Hey! Miss me already?" Waverly laughed down the phone as soon as she answered.

"Yes." Nicole answered truthfully because she definitely did. She was done putting it off any longer, even though she hadn't actively been putting it off, she worried that maybe Waverly had been. Waverly was an over-thinker, there was no way she hadn't been going over in her head what exactly her and Nicole were to each other. "Waves, are you my girlfriend?"

"Uh…I hope so?" Waverly's words came out as a question and Nicole cursed herself for not doing this sooner, of course Waverly had been stressing out about it. "We did…y'know and I've never…"

"Yeah…" Nicole smiled, and she hoped that Waverly was doing the same, she closed her eyes and if she licked her lips just right it was as if she could feel Waverly there all over again. "Will you? Be my girlfriend?"

"Yes!" Waverly excited laugh was so loud Nicole had to actually lean away from her phone for a second until Waverly had calmed down. "Of course, I will…I thought that maybe…"

"I should have asked you before, I just…God, it's so distracting being around you and I was kind of already thinking of us as girlfriends!" Nicole hoped she wasn't coming off as presumptuous, she had basically considered them an item from the moment her and Waverly's lips touched…minus the short time when she had thought she was making the right decision by pushing Waverly away. Even without them putting a label on it, Nicole had been referring to Waverly as her girlfriend in her head without even thinking about it.

"I was worried that maybe you didn't want to put a label on it…that's why I never asked you." Waverly's honesty about her worries settled in Nicole's chest and she sighed, she shouldn't have let Waverly doubt for a second just how serious she was about her. Waverly let out a small giggle and just as Nicole was going to ask what was so funny Waverly spoke again. "I have a girlfriend! That feels so amazing to say!"

"Yeah." Nicole hummed in agreement. They stayed on the call a little while longer and remorsefully both agreed that while it would be great to see each other again over the weekend, they both had essays to work on for English and Waverly had a shift at Shorty's she had to work as well. They promised to keep in contact via text until Nicole picked her up for school on Monday and almost immediately after they hung up, Nicole's phone buzzed with a message from Waverly.

Waverly:

Girlfriend!!!

Nicole send back a string of heart emojis as a warmth settled in her stomach that she had never felt before. Waverly Earp was without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to her.

 

Nicole was idling in her usual spot outside the house on Monday morning, waiting for Waverly so they could head to school. Curtis was outside in the driveway working on Gus' truck and after an exchange of waves he beckoned her over with a tilt of his head. Nicole shut off her engine and made her way over to where he was standing, wiping his motor oil covered hands on a rag hanging from his jeans pocket.

"I already told Waverly that you seem like a good kid, but don't you hurt her, ok?" Curtis looked Nicole up and down, if she didn't know any better she would think he was checking to see just how tall she was. "My garden is plenty big…" Nicole swallowed hard and tried not to yelp.

"Never." Nicole recovered and firmly gave her response with a solid shake of her head. "Never, Mr. Mcready."

"Call me Curtis." He gave her a quick pat on the shoulder and went back to whatever it was he was doing to Gus' truck. Nicole wondered if she should ask Curtis for some tips on keeping her car running well but Waverly emerging from the house took her attention before she had the chance. The door slammed behind her as she took in Nicole and Curtis with a curious and slightly panicked look on her face, no doubt wondering what exactly they had been talking about.

"Don't you start slamming my doors again, missy!" Gus' voice came booming through the open window at the front of the house and Waverly winced while Nicole tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh. Curtis' head shot up and he winked at Nicole as she tried to regain some composure. "I thought we were passed that whole hormonal teenager phase!"

"Sorry, Gus! It was an accident!" Waverly called behind her as she scowled at Nicole and Curtis. She bounced down the stairs and after checking that Gus wasn't still standing by the window, she placed a quick kiss to Nicole's cheek, took her hand and led them to Nicole's car.

"Bye, Curtis!" Nicole waved behind her, Waverly echoing her before they both got into the car.

"What was that about?" Waverly nodded her head towards Curtis as she buckled herself in.

"Oh y'know, just the usual 'hurt my girl and I'll bury you in my garden' talk." Nicole winked as Waverly kept her face unusually neutral.

"He would never bury you in his garden." Waverly said matter of fact.

"No?"

"No, he'd be smart enough to bury you somewhere they couldn't trace back to him." Waverly smiled innocently at her and Nicole laughed, a full on, deep in her belly laugh as she pulled away from the house. Nicole took one more look at Waverly before her full attention needed to be on the road, she looked very smug that her joke had landed as well as it did. Nicole really hoped it was a joke.

Nicole found her usual spot in the parking lot and waited for Waverly to round the car after getting out herself. She desperately wanted to take Waverly's hand. Not seeing her for nearly a day and a half after what they had shared and finally making it official that they were girlfriends, she was hopelessly in need of some physical contact from said girlfriend. She brushed her fingers delicately against the side of Waverly's hand, the motion could be disguised as an accident if Waverly herself wasn't actually ready for that but thankfully Nicole didn't need to worry about it. Waverly held her hand open for Nicole and she gladly took it, threading their fingers together and Nicole couldn't fight the enormous grin on her face even if she tried.

As they left the relative cover of all the parked cars, Waverly turned to her with a bright smile and she focused on that instead of the eyes she could feel on them. There were a few hushed whispers that were a little harder to ignore but for the first time in a long time, Nicole didn't care. She thought she could survive anything with Waverly Earp at her side and a thumb gently caressing against her own.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"So, it's official now? Like official, official?!" Chrissy caught Waverly just before they headed into History, a giant grin on her face as she looped her arm through Waverly's. "I heard some rumours about you guys walking into school holding hands!"

"Yeah…" Waverly smiled, looking down at her hand. She could still feel the ghost of Nicole's fingers lingering there. "It's official!"

"Amazing!" Chrissy squeezed Waverly's arm tight and giggled with glee. "You have to tell me everything!" She wiggled her eyebrows as they walked through the door into class and found their seats next to each other. Waverly was glad that Chrissy had been patient with her, not forcing her to talk about the obvious situation with Nicole until she was ready but now she groaned. Chrissy would not be satisfied with anything less than the full story, but she would obviously be leaving out certain details.

When lunch came around and Waverly found Nicole, they linked their hands again instantly. It felt like second nature already. Jeremy found them at their usual table and let them know that the first GSA meeting would be in a couple weeks, Waverly had managed to recruit a few more students than she first expected, and Jeremy was so excited about it. Chrissy, Steph and Xavier would all be coming along and confirmed with Jeremy as he looked over at them. He clapped his hands and practically skipped away to his own table to eat. Waverly couldn't bear to tell him that it was likely that none of them would become very active members considering how hard they were all working on their final year of high school, she figured it was only fair to let him be excited about something he'd clearly thought a lot about. Waverly hoped that once more students got involved, she wouldn't feel so guilty.

As they sat and ate lunch Waverly let the relief settle deep in her stomach that so far, it had been easy being open about them being together. She hadn't heard anyone say anything or look at them with anything other than general curiosity. Nicole looked so happy and Waverly couldn't help but ask what was making her smile so much as they ate. Even if she already knew, she wanted to hear Nicole say the words.

"I'm just really happy, this is…just so different from last time." Nicole bumped her shoulder into Waverly's and smiled brightly. Waverly turned and let her finger trail down Nicole's cheek, stopping just at her dimple as her eyes got lost staring at Nicole's lips.

"Can I kiss you?" Waverly asked, really hoping it would be ok. They'd held hands in front of everyone but kissing her could have been a step too far for Nicole so soon.

"What?" Nicole looked shocked and Waverly instantly regretted putting her in a situation that made her feel uncomfortable. They were in a room full of people, people that may potentially think negatively about them being together. She was just so desperate to show Nicole how happy she was that things were going smoothly.

"Sorry. Maybe that's too much too soon. I know that…" Waverly's apology was cut off by Nicole pulling her into a kiss. She leaned into Nicole's lips with a smile she could feel being reciprocated against her own lips. Chrissy let out a tiny squeal across the table and as they broke apart Waverly rolled her eyes at her friend. Nicole quickly pulled her attention back with a finger under her chin.

"You never have to ask my permission to kiss me…ok?" Nicole smiled, and Waverly leaned in again, taking her statement to heart and kissing her all over again mumbling an 'ok' against Nicole's lips.

Someone whistled behind them and they both turned to see Champ, turned around in his seat, leering at them. Waverly couldn't even be bothered giving him a piece of her mind so instead she simply flipped him off before returning to her lunch. She gave a quick squeeze to Nicole's hand and checked that she was alright, she returned Waverly's smile and Waverly was pretty sure it was genuine. Waverly could see Xavier glaring at Champ and it made her even happier to know that if anyone ever tried to hurt Nicole again, with words or worse, then he would be there. Obviously, Waverly hoped that things would be a lot easier for Nicole this time around and she wouldn't need anyone to stand up for her but if they weren't at least this time she wouldn't be alone.

They walked into English later that day, hand in hand and slipped into their seats before letting go of each other. She had enjoyed keeping it their secret for a while, but Waverly couldn't believe how amazing it felt to be able to do that now, not hide just how much she cared about Nicole from the rest of the world. Without the worry of people noticing something was going on between them, Waverly let herself look at Nicole more in class. Smiling and blushing when Nicole would catch her and blow her a kiss, or a send a wink her way. She really wasn't sure how long she'd last before she could be with Nicole again, alone together. Every time she looked at her, touched her, kissed her, it ignited the need to be with her and now that she knew exactly how amazing it was, she couldn't wait to experience it all over again.

 

Pete handed her a note that someone had passed to him not long before class was due to end, she looked down at her name scribbled on the folded piece of paper, unfolded it and her face fell.

Didn't know you were into girls…wish I had.

She read it and then reread it, making sure she was understanding the implication and then double checking that her name was definitely on the front, even though she knew it was. She was sure the handwriting looked feminine. She looked to Pete for an indication as to who it had come from, but he just gestured vaguely behind him. They sat in the second row of seats and there was a further four rows behind them, with seven other girls in those rows. She scanned over the people sitting behind her quickly, trying to work out who might have written it, but everyone was focused on their work. She started to wonder if she was getting the meaning of the note wrong, someone was disappointed that they didn't know she wasn't straight…which meant that they liked her. She folded up the note and stuffed it into her pocket, not entirely sure what to do with it and tried to get on with her work.

After class, as they headed for Nicole's car, Nicole asked Waverly about the note she was passed. She looked worried, like maybe someone had written something horrible in it about Waverly or about them. Waverly shook her head and gently rubbed Nicole's forearm and told her it wasn't anything like that. She pulled the now crumpled note out of her pocket and smoothed it out, so Nicole could read it.

"Oh."

"Yeah…that means they are disappointed, right? I'm not getting that wrong?"

"No, I don't think you are." Nicole pulled her eyebrows together as she passed the note back to Waverly, this time instead of putting it back in her pocket she tossed it into the trash can as they walked by. Nicole's face was still scrunched up and she laced their hands together.

"You know it doesn't matter, right?" She tugged a little on Nicole's hand until she stopped walking. Nicole nodded but didn't meet Waverly's eye. Waverly let go of her hand and cupped her cheeks, until she looked directly at her. "I don't care about whoever wrote that. Obviously, I wasn't interested in them before so why would that change now?"

"You kept the note…" Nicole's eyes closed, and Waverly could see the self-doubt all over her face. It stabbed Waverly in the chest, thinking that Nicole could think she wanted someone other than her. Especially someone who was completely anonymous and had thought that that was a good way to get her attention.

"So, I could show you, silly!" Waverly teased and smiled when Nicole opened her eyes again. "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't reading it wrong."

"Oh." Nicole's face softened, and she laughed at herself.

"Oh." Waverly parroted and pulled Nicole down into a soft kiss. "You wanna hang out at Shorty's while I work later? He's got someone new starting, so he wants me to help out."

"You're already his best employee, huh?" Nicole linked their hands together and they started walking again, completely oblivious to the few looks that they were getting from fellow students who had just seen them share a kiss.

"Are you surprised?" Waverly winked and brought her other hand to rest on Nicole's bicep, gently rubbing her thumb against the soft material of Nicole's sleeve.

"Not at all!" Nicole said matter of fact. "Yeah, I'll come hang out, but I've got a bit of homework to get done first." Nicole told her she'd drop her off at home, so she could get ready for work and then catch up with her in a few hours at Shorty's. It wouldn't be the most fun thing for Nicole to do with her evening, especially if the new employee needed a lot of help getting the hang of things but Waverly loved that Nicole was happy to come and sit at the counter while she worked. It always made the shift go that little bit faster when Waverly could look up and see Nicole's smile, or watch her enjoy a milkshake that Waverly would overload with cream on top just so she could steal a little bit each time she passed by.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Noting that Gus' car was not in the driveway, they shared an intense kiss pressed up against Nicole's car before saying their goodbyes. As Nicole watched Waverly walk up the steps and into her house, she decided she would stay and take Waverly to work. She wouldn't have to wait too long since Waverly needed to be at Shorty's in about half an hours time and if she thought she was walking she would need to be quick getting ready.

Waverly immediately started shaking her head with a smile as she made her way back out of the house. Nicole pushed herself off her car and ducked her head, she felt a little embarrassed that her need to spend as much time as possible with Waverly was painfully obvious, but she didn't care enough to not wait for her. Waverly skipped down the stairs and pushed Nicole back up against her car with a deep kiss once again. Nicole moaned into her mouth as Waverly pushed her thigh just so against her.

"When's your mom working night shift again?" Waverly breathed out a little wistfully as their kiss eased off.

"I'll find out." Nicole's mom hadn't mentioned her work schedule for the week ahead, but she knew that her house being free for a night would probably come before Gus and Curtis were away again.

"God, it's killing me not being able to touch you…properly touch you." Waverly put a little more pressure on Nicole with her thigh and Nicole nipped at Waverly's bottom lip with a smile. Nicole knew exactly what Waverly meant, she wrapped both arms tight around Waverly's waist and pulled her closer. Knowing just how much Waverly wanted her was such a big turn on and Nicole had to usher Waverly into the car just to stop herself from suggesting that she bunk off work and they find somewhere nice and secluded to park the car and be alone.

Deciding that her Chemistry homework really couldn't be rushed, Nicole only ended up making it to Shorty's about an hour before Waverly finished up for the night. It had been a busy evening and Waverly looked about ready to collapse when Nicole took her seat at the counter. She reached over and held out both hands, palms up for Waverly to take a minute now that the crowd was starting to thin out.

"Feels like I've been doing two people's work all evening!" Waverly groaned, taking Nicole's hands and letting her forehead rest against the counter. When she looked up she chanced a quick look around and Nicole's eyes followed hers. She spotted who Waverly was clearly looking for, the new girl, chatting away with a table of guys as she twirled some of her hair between her fingers and very obviously pushed her chest out to accentuate her already pretty ample attributes.

"She seems…nice?" Nicole half smiled, half grimaced at Waverly as her girlfriend let out another groan. She gripped Nicole's hands a little more firmly and pulled Nicole further over the counter, so they could connect their lips.

"She's an airhead…I've been correcting her orders all shift!" Waverly mumbled against Nicole's lips before pulling away and scowling at the girl, still flirting with everyone at the table. "And yet she's still managed to make more tips than me!"

"Aw baby." Nicole teased, and Waverly narrowed her eyes. Nicole let go of Waverly's hands and held them up in front of herself in surrender. Waverly's lips curled up at the action and she leaned over the counter to place a quick kiss to Nicole's lips before she had to get back to work.

Nicole had become a very regular customer at Shorty's since Waverly started working there and her time spent there had only increased since her and Waverly had started their relationship. She was friendly with most of the staff and even though they had only just started being open about their relationship she was positive that most of them had already guessed something was going on between her and Waverly. Shorty definitely knew, the way he would look at Nicole after catching her staring at Waverly was a dead giveaway, but Nicole knew now that he and Curtis were close. Maybe the two of them had talked about the girls relationship and every now and again, Shorty would pass comment on how Waverly only deserved the best. Nicole hoped that it was not only a warning but also an acceptance of her. Waverly was lucky to have so many people looking out for her.

Nicole watched Waverly get more and more frustrated with the new girl as her shift drew to a close, she hadn't cleared half of her tables of the left behind dishes and Waverly was asking her in the nicest way possible if she could just hurry up because Waverly wanted to go home. Nicole couldn't help but chuckle to herself as Waverly's fake smile faltered when the girl turned around to start clearing a table and Nicole had to turn in her stool to make sure her girlfriend didn't catch her laughing.

A loud crash came from behind her and Nicole jumped out of her seat, turning around quickly with her hand over her heart to determine the source of the noise. Her heart was beating erratically and even when she found the source, a few smashed plates on the floor a few feet in front her, she still couldn't calm herself. She closed her eyes and gripped the edge of the counter until she felt a familiar hand rubbing up and down her arm and a gentle voice in her ear telling her that everything was alright. Nicole's eyes opened slowly, and Waverly offered her a smile laced with concern as Nicole nodded.

"I'm going to wait in the car…" Nicole's voice came out strained and she didn't wait for Waverly to respond. She grabbed her jacket off the back of her stool and made her way out onto the street. She was embarrassed that once again, something completely innocuous had made her panic. She got her breathing under control before getting into the car, but she still felt like her head was spinning. She sat with her head back against the headrest, eyes closed until a gentle knock on the window let her know that Waverly was about to open the door.

"Are you ok?" Waverly rested her hand on Nicole's thigh as she got herself comfortable in the passenger seat. Nicole replied with a small nod before starting the car and driving off. She wasn't really, and she didn't like driving when she felt the way she did but all she wanted to do was get Waverly home and pretend like nothing had even happened in Shorty's.

Waverly stayed quiet for the journey, but Nicole could feel her eyes on her the whole time. It had been a while since Waverly had been there to witness her panic quite like that and she knew that Waverly liked her to talk it out afterwards, so she could better understand but it was always difficult for Nicole. Telling Waverly that something she knew shouldn't scare her but did anyway always made Nicole feel so stupid, no matter how understanding Waverly would be.

When Nicole parked up outside Waverly's house she knew it was coming, she knew Waverly was going to say something about it, but she wasn't prepared for what Waverly actually had to say.

"Have you ever thought about speaking to a doctor about all this?" Waverly's hand had stayed on Nicole's thigh for the ride home, but she moved it to Nicole's shoulder after she spoke, something that Nicole knew she would normally consider comforting but, in that moment, it felt condescending, patronizing and she found her eyes drawn to it and then Waverly's face. She couldn't explain the anger that instantly took hold at Waverly's question and words started falling from her lips without a single second of forethought.

"I'm not crazy, Waverly!" Nicole raised her voice and Waverly instantly withdrew her hand from Nicole's shoulder, holding both of hers in her lap and staring at Nicole with wide eyes. "I don't need to speak to anymore doctors! I've had enough people checking to see if I'm out of my mind, I don't need that from my girlfriend!" Nicole hadn't properly realised the volume she had been speaking at until she noticed Waverly physically cower away from her and up against the passenger side door. Her mind was telling her that it was not ok, that she regretted what she had just said and how she had said it, but her anger was at the front of her mind, blocking out all reasonable thoughts.

"Nicole…I'm just concerned." Waverly's voice was small, and she tried to reach out, to touch Nicole and part of Nicole knew that she was offering her grounding contact, but she moved herself as far away from Waverly's gesture as she could within the confines of her car.

"You're judging me!" Nicole's voice came out just as loud, a harsher tone to her voice than she had ever used around Waverly before and she could see it unsettle her. Waverly shook her head and Nicole was just about to apologize but Waverly spoke before she had a chance.

"Maybe I should…"

"Yeah, maybe you should just go!" Nicole interrupted and regretted it immediately as Waverly's face fell. She looked so hurt and Nicole's chest ached at being the cause of it. Waverly opened the door and got out without sparing another look in Nicole's direction. She slammed the car door and Nicole jumped, tears filling her eyes when Waverly didn't even look back or apologise.

She gripped the steering wheel tight the whole way home, tears falling every now and again until she got home and into her room where the floodgates opened. Why did she get so mad at her for caring, for being concerned? It was like it came out of nowhere, she knew she had messed up. She was ashamed of how she had reacted. She had shouted right in Waverly's face, she had never done that before, never even thought that she could do that to Waverly.

Of course Waverly worried about her, if their situations were flipped Nicole knew that she would worry about Waverly so why couldn't she just accept it? The image of Waverly's hurt expression before she got out of the car wouldn't leave her. How upset and angry Waverly must have been to slam her car door like that kept swirling through her mind and she couldn't believe she had just walked away without apologizing for it, but Nicole couldn't really blame her. Not after how she had behaved.

Chapter Text

Waverly wasn't exactly surprised when Nicole didn't come pick her up for school the next day, she hadn't really expected her to after the night before but when she didn't see Nicole's car in the parking lot she really hoped that Nicole was just running late.

Waverly didn't get much sleep, crying silently into her pillow for most of the night. She wasn't judging Nicole, she was just worried. Nicole couldn't go through her life pretending that there weren't some pretty serious issues stemming from everything she went through. Waverly worried, ever since she met Nicole, what she was like when Waverly wasn't around to help calm her down. She knew that Nicole did her breathing exercises, but she also knew that sometimes those didn't help at all.

She slammed her car door. Why did she do that? She knew as soon as she did it that it would upset Nicole, but she was just so angry at her for telling her to go. She hadn't even let her finish her sentence, she just assumed that Waverly was going to leave her when she was clearly upset. Something she never wanted to do but clearly Nicole didn't want her there.

She had wanted to say that she shouldn't have brought it up, not so soon after Nicole had been trying to calm herself down. She didn't want to force Nicole to talk about something she didn't want to or have an argument, but she just couldn't keep her concerns to herself any longer. It had been the wrong time to bring it up, she should have waited until Nicole had more time to collect herself and they could talk through it properly.

She was absolutely terrified that Nicole would hate her, hate her for doing something so insensitive like slamming the door and then not even apologizing. Why didn't she apologize? Why did she just walk away?

 

Nicole wasn't in English and she didn't see her at lunch either. Waverly asked Xavier if he had seen her, she knew they had Chemistry that day, but she hadn't shown up for that either. At first Waverly thought that maybe Nicole was in school but was simply avoiding Waverly, now she was worried. She tried to carry on her day as normal and planned to head straight to Nicole's after school but after her fifth text that day to Nicole remained unanswered, Waverly stood up in the middle of class and walked out, ignoring her teacher questioning where exactly she thought she was going.

No one answered the door when Waverly arrived at Nicole's, a little out of breath since she had run most of the way there. She noticed that Susan's car wasn't in the drive, but Nicole's was. She took out her phone, she hadn't answered her texts but maybe she would answer a phone call.

Still no answer.

She took a few steps back from the house and decided that trying to climb up to Nicole's room really wasn't an option, but she could probably hop the fence into the garden. After a couple attempts she finally made it up and over into the back garden and hoped that the backdoor was unlocked like it usually was during the day.

She let herself into the house and upon realizing what she had just done hoped that none of Nicole's neighbours had decided to call the cops on a young girl seemingly trying to break into a home on their street.

She could hear music coming from the upstairs, presumably Nicole's room. It was loud and angry, and Waverly's heart ached.

She stood outside Nicole's room for a minute, telling herself that she had to be there, she had to know that Nicole was ok and that hopefully Nicole wouldn't just tell her to get lost when she saw her. She knocked on the door, softly at first and then a little harder until the music stopped.

"Mom, I really really don't want to talk about it!" Nicole's voice got louder as she spoke until the door opened and Nicole looked at Waverly, clearly confused by her presence.

"Hi." Waverly greeted her shyly and she really started to regret showing up unannounced.

"Hey…" Nicole stood leaning her head against the door, it was obvious to Waverly that Nicole had been crying. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and her voice was too small. Waverly no longer regretted coming round, all she wanted was to comfort Nicole, but she didn't know if it would be taken well or not.

"I wanted to apologise…but you weren't at school and then you didn't answer my texts or when I called, and I got worried." Waverly looked down the hallway, back towards the stairs and wondered if she should just leave. Nicole hadn't answered her so maybe Nicole really didn't want to speak to her or see her and she had just forced herself on Nicole without even checking what she wanted.

"So, you broke into my house?" Nicole asked and when Waverly looked back at her she thought she could see the hints of a teasing expression on Nicole's face. There was still an edge to Nicole's voice though, not as angry as the night before but something was definitely still there.

"I'm really sorry Nicole. I didn't mean to upset you last night…I just…I worry about you and I swear I wasn't judging you and I'm sorry that I slammed the door to your car! That was such a horrible thing to do…" Waverly let herself ramble until Nicole leaned back from the door and gestured for Waverly to follow her into her room. She closed the door behind her and joined Nicole on her bed. A few inches apart, further than they had ever sat on Nicole's bed together, even before they admitted how they felt they would gravitate towards each other.

"I'm sorry too…" Nicole turned to look at Waverly and Waverly inched herself just a bit closer. "I shouldn't have yelled at you. I don't know why I got so defensive, I knew I'd been a total jerk before you even got out the car." Nicole was wringing her hands in her lap and Waverly moved the rest of the way to close the gap between them. Not touching Nicole but there if Nicole decided she wanted to reach out.

"I've never seen you that angry before…" Waverly said softly and wished she hadn't when Nicole's face scrunched up as she started shaking her head.

"What you said made me feel like…like you were saying there's something wrong with me and I know there's probably something wrong with me, but I never wanted you to think that about me." Nicole's shoulders hunched, and Waverly reached out to pull Nicole into her chest. She instantly sagged against Waverly and Waverly's heart broke.

"Baby…I just think that maybe you need to talk to someone about all this stuff, someone who really knows how to help you deal with it." Waverly said as she ran her fingers gently through Nicole hair. Nicole nodded her head against Waverly and she could feel a small wet patch growing on her top. She pulled Nicole up to look at her, each tear falling from Nicole's eyes bringing Waverly closer to tears herself. "Nicole, you've been through a lot, you put yourself in the hospital and there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you still need a little help moving past that." She held Nicole face in her palms until Nicole met her eyes and nodded.

"You'd still want to be with me if they tell me there is something wrong with me?" Nicole looked terrified. She couldn't imagine what Nicole was going through, what she had already gone through and Waverly hated herself for adding to the fears that plagued Nicole.

"I don't think there's anything that would make me not want to be with you, Nicole." Waverly stated firmly and wiped the tears away from Nicole's cheeks. She placed her lips to each cheek, hoping to stop anymore from falling.

"I'm so sorry I shouted at you…I just got so angry out of nowhere, I used to get mad a lot before…when they used to…" Nicole trailed off before closing her eyes and leaning into Waverly's hand cupping her face, obviously taking comfort in the touch and Waverly gently brushed her thumbs across Nicole's skin. Of course Nicole was angry at the people who had hurt her, at what they had done to her. Waverly felt even worse, if Nicole had felt like she was judging her, then she would have felt just like she used to. "I don't want to be angry anymore."

"Hey…we're going to figure it all out." Waverly knew she had to be there for Nicole through this, she had to be.

"I just thought that now I had you, things would get easier…" Nicole opened her eyes and gave Waverly a tentative smile which she returned. "I'm happy, I really am but I've got all this shit in my head and I can't let it go!" Nicole pulled out of Waverly's touch and squeezed her eyes shut again but Waverly reassured her with a stroke down her cheek.

"Just because you have me, it doesn't get rid of everything that happened and if you need to go see a psychiatrist or you need to go on medication then we'll deal with that together, ok?"

"Medication?" Nicole looked panicked but not angry at the insinuation and Waverly thought about taking it back, saying that it wouldn't happen but if Nicole did end up needing to go on something it might make her feel even worse about it. She had to make her realise that it didn't have to be a bad thing.

"Wynonna was on medication for a while…" Waverly shrugged, and Nicole looked shocked. It probably would shock a lot of people who only met Wynonna at this point in her life. "After our dad died, she went through a pretty tough time. She kind of went off the rails, did some pretty out there stuff but Gus managed to get her to speak to someone…eventually." It had been an awful time for both sisters, Waverly spent most of her nights awake wondering when Wynonna would come home, IF she would come home, and the day Wynonna finally admitted she needed help, Waverly felt like she could breathe again. Waverly hated that people talked about Wynonna like she was crazy, even now, years afterwards. They had no idea what she was going through.

"Really?"

"She had to take it for a while but she's doing a lot better now! So, there's nothing wrong with having to get a little help and nothing wrong with needing medication either, ok?" Waverly really hoped that Nicole would understand that, understand that if she ended up being prescribed something that it didn't mean Waverly would treat her any differently. She just wanted Nicole to feel better, safer and obviously it helped when she could be there to help calm Nicole down but what she really wanted was for Nicole to not have to be calmed down.

"Ok…thank you, Waves." Nicole seemed to be coming back to herself, she smiled and pulled Waverly into a tight embrace that she melted into. Her chest felt looser knowing that she hadn't totally messed things up between them and when Nicole moved to kiss her she threw herself into it completely.

They lay back on Nicole's bed, lost in each other's eyes. Nicole wrapped herself around Waverly and held her tight as she kissed her every now and again. Waverly had been so scared that she'd never get to feel Nicole's lips on hers again.

"When will your mom be back?" Waverly sighed against Nicole's lips just before Nicole leaned down to kiss her again, deeper this time. Nicole's eyes went wide as she pulled herself back mid-kiss, as if she'd just remembered that there was a chance of getting caught in the position they were in. Waverly knew the open door policy was being broken and she wasn't sure how Susan would react if she came home to them locked away in Nicole's room. Nicole looked over at her alarm clock and seemed to be doing some math in her head.

"We might have like half an hour?" Nicole offered hesitantly, and Waverly smiled, half an hour was plenty time for a heavy make out session before getting downstairs. "Wait…did you skip class?"

"I might have walked out in the middle of math to come check on you…" Waverly admitted, and she thought Nicole looked equally like she wanted to tell Waverly off for ditching and like it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole and Waverly somehow managed to get downstairs and sit innocently on the couch before her mom came home from work. Obviously happy to see Nicole out of her room and that Waverly was there, she smiled brightly at the pair of them and carried the groceries she'd picked up on her way home into the kitchen. Her mom had guessed that something had happened between them, but Nicole had just avoided the subject, she didn't want to admit to how she had acted. Her mom would have been more than a little disappointed in her.

Waverly leaned into Nicole after her mom had gone and asked if she wanted to speak to her now, it scared Nicole to admit to her mom that she still wasn't doing so great because she knew it would make her mom worry. She might think that things at school weren't going well after they started being open about their relationship, but she knew if she put it off any longer she might never do it. If she had Waverly there beside her, she knew she could.

"Will you come with me?" Nicole asked, placing the faintest of kisses to Waverly's lips and taking her hand. They walked into the kitchen, Waverly trailing just a little behind but still firmly holding on to her hand. "Mom…I think I need to speak to someone, like a doctor someone…"

"What?!" Her mom turned around quickly and started looking Nicole over for signs of physical injury. Nicole sighed and shook her head, pulling Waverly closer so she had the nerve to get the next words out. Waverly's placed her hand round Nicole's hip and squeezed softly.

"I think I need help with what's going on in my head…me and Waverly were talking or rather Waverly was talking, and I was being a total ass until I came to my senses and we agreed that I've got some issues that need to be worked through. Properly worked through." Nicole watched as her mom's expression softened and she looked at Waverly with a grateful expression. Nicole knew she hadn't been the best at sharing things with her mom ever since the bullying, they used to tell each other everything and Nicole knew her mom missed that.

"Oh, honey. What do you need me to do?"

"Maybe you know a good psychiatrist through the hospital that Nicole could go and see?" Waverly jumped in and then looked between Nicole and her mom, clearly hoping she hadn't just ruined a moment between them but Nicole just pulled her in closer and kissed the side of her head to let her know it was more than ok. Nicole couldn't do this without her.

"Yeah, I want to start feeling normal again, whatever that is…or at least feel like I'm working on it!" Nicole smiled down at Waverly and then to her mom, who reached forward and ran a hand down the side of Nicole's face.

"Is that why you were so upset today? Waverly suggested you might need help?" Her mom cupped her cheek and sighed. Nicole nodded and felt horrible all over again, she had shouted at her mom in the morning telling her that she wasn't going to school and there was nothing she could do to make her. She had felt awful about that as well, she had probably made her mom worry more than was necessary but sadly she knew she would be forgiven by the time her mom got home from work. "I'll make some calls and see if there's anyone in town with a good reputation. I think it's important we know they are going to be ok with the whole gay thing, so I want to tell them, is that alright?"

"Yeah, don't want someone who's gonna try and pray away the gay!" Nicole laughed, and her mom joined in, but Waverly tensed beside her.

"Exactly! Ok, you guys go watch TV or something and I'll get started on dinner. You staying, Waverly?" Both her and her mom looked to Waverly expectantly and she nodded dumbly, Nicole knew there was definitely something wrong and she led them back into the living room, so they could talk. Waverly sat down and stared down at her hands until Nicole lifted her chin and asked what was bothering her.

"I haven't told Gus yet. Your mom is so ok with you being gay and I know Curtis was totally fine with us, but I want what you have. She's the only mom I've ever really known, I've never told her that, but she is!" Waverly leaned into Nicole's side and she wrapped an arm around Waverly's shoulders. Nicole didn't actually know why Waverly hadn't told Gus yet, but it started to make a bit more sense after hearing that. Nicole couldn't imagine what it would have been like if her mom wasn't accepting of who she was.

"Maybe you should tell her how much she means to you. You don't need to tell her about us until you're totally ready." Nicole kissed the side of Waverly's head and hoped she was giving the right advice and support that Waverly needed.

"I think I'm ready to tell her. Will you be there with me when I do?"

"Of course, whenever you want!" Nicole agreed firmly, and Waverly relaxed into her side, thanking her.

After a pleasant dinner with her mom and Waverly, Waverly headed home, and Nicole knew she needed to apologise for her outburst that morning, even if her mom seemed to be over it. They talked some more about what Nicole would want to discuss when her mom found someone for her to talk to and told Nicole that she was glad Waverly had encouraged her to open up about it. Nicole knew her mom liked Waverly now but there seemed to be a new level to her fondness when she spoke about her then, as if Waverly had managed to do something that her mom had wanted to do for a long time.

Nicole made a promise to herself to be even more open with her mom from then on out. She knew she worried, all parents worry about their kids, but Nicole had given her mom much more to worry about than most parents had to deal with. She didn't know why it was so hard for her to just admit that she needed help, she thought she had learned her lesson the last time she tried to get through her problems by herself. Nicole really was so sure that having Waverly would have changed things for the better and most of the time that was true, but Waverly had been right, just because she had her it didn't negate everything that had happened. It had all still happened and she still had the mental scars to prove it.

 

It took a few days, but her mom managed to set up an appointment for Nicole using her connections at the hospital, for after school that Friday. She suddenly felt extremely nervous about the whole situation and practically begged Waverly to come with her. She wouldn't be able to come into the room but just knowing she was right outside would make Nicole feel more comfortable. Waverly didn't hesitate when Nicole asked her and promised she'd be there.

"I was thinking of telling Gus tonight, but we could do it another night if you think it'll be too much after." Waverly told Nicole at lunch the day of her appointment. Nicole had been hopeful that Waverly would get the courage sooner rather than later and she didn't want Waverly putting it off any longer.

"No, we might as well both do something that scares us today!" Nicole laughed as if she was joking but she knew that Waverly could see the truth in her words by her eyes. She held on to her hand tight and told Nicole there was nothing to be scared of. Nicole took the words in, repeated them in her head and tried to believe them.

She couldn't believe it had taken her so long to finally admit to herself that she needed help. It wasn't normal to be so scared, to be constantly waiting for the next thing that was going to make her jump out of her skin. She knew it was going to be hard to open up to someone new but if it was going to help her in the long run she knew she had to be brave and just do it, even if it did scare her.

 

She sat awkwardly in the seat in the waiting room, tightly gripping Waverly's hand as she watched the clock on the wall get closer and closer to the minute she would be called into the psychiatrist's office. The last time she had spoken to a doctor about what was going on in her head she was still laying in the hospital bed. He had looked at her with such pity that it had made Nicole feel even more ashamed about what she had done. She didn't want to speak to him, but she wasn't allowed to leave the hospital until they had decided she was no longer a danger to herself. She knew she wasn't but convincing someone else of that fact when you had obviously been so close to the edge mere days before was harder than she thought it would be.

"Miss Haught?" The voice pulled Nicole straight out of her thoughts and Waverly squeezed her hand in encouragement. She stood up and tried her best to smile at the woman leaning out of the room. She looked kind and had a pair of glasses hung around her neck on a chain just like her grandmother wore. Waverly let go of her hand and Nicole looked down, instantly missing the comfort it was providing.

"I'll be right here." Waverly assured her and with a final deep breath she walked into the office.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly had been sitting in the waiting room alone for nearly forty-five minutes until a woman walked in and sat opposite her. Obviously, another patient and Waverly was sure she recognised her, maybe a Shorty's customer or maybe she worked at the grocery store but either way Waverly tried not to stare too much. She knew this wasn't the type of place that you tried to work out where you knew someone from. She reached forward and grabbed a magazine she had already read through once and pretended to read the articles again.

When she noticed it was almost time for Nicole's hour to be up, she threw the magazine back down on the table and smiled as she caught the other woman's eye. She smiled back and straightened up the magazine on the table, so it was perfectly in line with the rest of them before relaxing in her chair again.

The door opened, and Nicole emerged thankfully with a smile on her face as she said her goodbye to Dr. Kinnaird. Waverly stood up and took Nicole's hand as the door closed behind them, placing a quick kiss to Nicole's smile. She was so relieved that it didn't seem to have been a harrowing experience for Nicole to open up to someone new.

"How was it?" Waverly asked as they made their way to Nicole's car. She wasn't sure if she should ask for more details, she didn't want to pry into Nicole's private time with a medical professional even if she did wish that Nicole would share everything with her.

"I'm going to come back once a week. She doesn't want to rule out me needing medication just yet, but she wants to see how I get on with weekly sessions first." Nicole smiled down at Waverly, something definitely seemed to have taken a bit of weight off of Nicole's shoulders and if that was simply from one session then Waverly hoped that with weekly visits Nicole really could start to feel more at ease.

"Is she nice?"

"Yeah, she's really nice, it's actually really good being able to talk to someone." Nicole paused just before getting into the car and looked over at Waverly. She seemed to notice what she had just said, and the way Waverly's face involuntarily fell. Waverly wanted Nicole to know that she could tell her anything, she thought Nicole knew she could always speak to her about things. Waverly tried to brush it off and got into the car, but Nicole took her hand when she joined her inside and waited until Waverly was looking at her. "It's different with her…I don't want you treating me differently because of things I might tell you. You're my happy place and I don't want that to change!" Nicole leaned towards Waverly and stroked gently down her jaw.

"I'm your happy place?" Waverly asked, taken aback by how casually Nicole had just given her the nicest compliment she'd ever received. Nicole nodded and leaned in to capture Waverly's lips.

Waverly's smile didn't leave her face until they turned onto her street, she'd almost forgotten what their plan was after leaving Nicole's appointment and her leg started bouncing from her nerves. Nicole took her hand as they parked outside and kissed each of her knuckles softly. Waverly tried to smile but so many worries were flowing through her mind it was hard to even force it. What if Gus wasn't ok with her and Nicole? What if she asked questions that she didn't know the answers to like did this mean she was gay or bi or something else? Everything had been relatively easy for them so far and surely someone, at some point wasn't going to be accepting of them. She couldn't bear it if it was Gus.

They sat outside the house for what felt like hours, but every time Waverly checked the clock on the dashboard it had barely been a single minute since the last time she looked. She didn't want to get out of the car and Nicole sat silently just waiting for when she would be ready.

"Maybe she isn't home…" Waverly suggested, looking to Nicole for some kind of reassurance that maybe she didn't need to do this. Nicole smiled and shook her head.

"Waves, her truck is literally right there." Nicole motioned to the driveway and the truck that Waverly had already looked at five times since they parked outside. "You don't have to do this if you're not ready. It's ok if you're not!" Waverly closed her eyes, took a deep breath and got out of the car before she could change her mind again.

She rushed up the steps and into the house, hearing Nicole run in behind her. Gus was sitting reading the paper at the kitchen table, what she did every day about this time and looked up at Waverly as she stormed into the room.

"I need to talk to you!" Waverly's voice came out harsher than she had planned, and she cringed at how it must have sounded. By the look on Gus' face she clearly thought Waverly was angry. Nicole finally caught up with her, skidding to a stop just before she could barrel into Waverly. She wrapped her arms around Nicole's waist to steady her and looked over her shoulder to see Gus studying their positions. Waverly dropped her arms from around Nicole and took a steadying breath. "I need to tell you something…about me…and Nicole."

"Ok…" Gus folded up the paper in front of her and gave Waverly her full attention.

"We're dating…Nicole is my girlfriend." Waverly couldn't help but smile as she said the words, even with her worry about Gus' reaction, she just loved being able to say that.

"Oh." Gus furrowed her brow and Waverly's breathing started to quicken as her worst fears started to play out in her mind. Nicole took a hold of her hand from behind and rubbed her thumb gently over Waverly's skin. It calmed her enough so she could speak again.

"Are you…is it ok?" Waverly almost didn't want to hear the answer and she feared one of her trademark rambles was about to start just so she could put off the inevitable. "I wanted to tell you before, but I've been so worried about what you might think!" She let go of Nicole's hand and moved to sit down at the table across from Gus. She bit down on her lip to stop the word vomit that was sitting on the tip of her tongue from spilling out.

"Of course, it's ok…just a bit of a surprise? I don't know…" Gus let out a small laugh and all of the fear and tension left Waverly's body instantly. She let her head fall down onto the table in front of her and a giant sigh of relief left her lungs. Nicole placed her hand onto Waverly's shoulder and she reached up and intertwined their fingers. She looked up at Nicole with a smile, but Nicole nodded her head towards Gus, she knew there was more Waverly wanted to say to Gus and Waverly nodded, thankful for Nicole's reminder. She had waited far too long to tell Gus how much she meant to her.

"I've been meaning to tell you something else as well." Waverly looked back at Gus who was smiling at the pair across from her. She nodded and waited for Waverly to continue. "You probably already know but I wanted you to actually hear it. I love you Gus, you and Curtis are the best parents I could have asked for and I know I've never called you mom but that's what you are to me. I hope you know that and that's why I was so worried to tell you, if you didn't accept it I don't know what I would have done!"

"Waverly…" Gus stood from her seat and made her way round the table to pull Waverly into a tight hug, tears shining in her eyes. "You are the best daughter we could have asked for, I hope you know that too!" Waverly nodded into Gus' shoulder and let herself cry a few tears before wiping her face clean. It had gone better than she could have even imagined and now Gus knew just how important she was to her as well. They would have stayed in the embrace for longer, but the house phone ringing took Gus away into the hallway and Nicole moved in to fill her space.

"I knew it was going to be fine, baby!" Nicole cradled the back of Waverly's head as Waverly nuzzled into her neck. It wasn't just fine, it was perfect. All the important people in her life knew about Nicole, knew that she was her girlfriend and that Waverly was happy. Happiest she had ever been, but life had a cruel way of ruining an Earp's happiness, it was something Wynonna had always said, and Waverly had always told her she was being overdramatic but at the sound of Gus' anguished scream coming from the hallway, Waverly feared that Wynonna's prediction had been right.

She pulled herself out of Nicole's arms and ran into the hallway to find Gus in a ball on the floor, phone clutched to her chest and tears streaming down her face as she cried silently. Waverly didn't need to ask what had happened, in her heart she knew that there was only one thing that would cause Gus so much pain.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Her mom told her that Curtis wouldn't have felt much pain, that he would have been unconscious for a while before he actually died but Nicole wasn't sure if she believed her. She'd seen plenty movies where people had heart attacks and she was sure that it looked like an especially awful way to go.

School felt scary without Waverly, she hated being there without her but what she hated more was not being there for Waverly when she felt like Waverly needed her. She had driven Waverly and Gus to the hospital, she had wanted to stay and be there for them both but when her mom saw her in the hallway and asked what she was doing there she said it would be best to give them some time alone. Nicole didn't agree with her, but she did as she was told and told Waverly to call her when they were ready to go home. She never got the call but instead a message from Wynonna saying that she had called a cab for them all to get back.

Waverly hadn't called her or text her since that day and while Nicole understood that she needed time to grieve, she couldn't stay away. She showed up at the house and stood outside, not knowing whether or not it was a good idea that she had shown up unannounced. She knew that the funeral was coming up, but she didn't want to wait until then to see Waverly and she didn't even know if she should go if Waverly didn't ask her to come.

She'd been standing outside for nearly fifteen minutes when the front door opened, and she saw Waverly standing in the doorway. She'd never looked so small or so tired in the whole time that Nicole had known her, and it broke her heart. She rushed up the steps and pulled Waverly into her arms. She held her, just standing in the doorway as she cried and apologized for not speaking to her for those couple days, but Nicole told her it was fine, she was just worried about her. Waverly admitted that she just wanted to be alone, she didn't want to have to pretend like she was ok, and she didn't have to around Wynonna or Gus because they were all feeling the same.

"You don't have to pretend around me." Nicole said as she finally led Waverly into the house and upstairs to her room. Waverly lay down on her bed and asked Nicole to join her, she held her close as she stroked her fingers through Waverly's hair for nearly an hour before Waverly broke the silence.

"Will you come to the funeral? It's on Saturday." Waverly turned herself in Nicole's arms, so she was facing her, looking at her with pleading eyes that were begging Nicole to say yes.

"Of course, I will. I'm here for you Waverly, whatever you need." Nicole pulled her in close and let her embrace show just how much she meant that. She would do anything for Waverly, anything to help her deal with losing the closest thing she had to a real father. Be there for Waverly just like Waverly was always there for her when she needed it.

 

Waverly clung to her side throughout the entire funeral and at the wake later on in the house. Nicole hadn't realised just how popular a man Curtis was in town, but it seemed like the entire adult population of Purgatory came out to pay their respects and say goodbye. Nicole was glad to see a few of Waverly's friends had come to support her through the difficult time as well.

They walked through the living room, past the mantel piece and Waverly's eyes landed on a photo of them all. Waverly was sat on Curtis' knee with a giant grin on her face, Wynonna just a little too big for it to look comfortable sat on the other and Gus was stood behind them with her arms draped around Curtis' neck. It looked like it was taken in the back garden and Waverly's eyes filled with tears as she traced her finger across Curtis' face.

"Hey, it's ok." Nicole lightly kissed Waverly's shoulder and hugged her in closer. "It's going to be ok."

"Can you stop saying that!" Waverly turned around and glared at her. Nicole took a step back and held up her hands. "How are things going ever to be ok?!" Waverly turned and stormed up the stairs leaving a bewildered Nicole staring after her. She shook herself out of her daze and called after her as she started to follow.

"Best just to give her a minute, Nicole." Gus gently held onto her arm and kept her back from the stairs. Nicole sighed but nodded in agreement. It was a hard day for Waverly and maybe some time by herself would be exactly what she needed. "Come help me with something?" Nicole followed Gus through to the kitchen, she shut the door behind Nicole and handed her a dish towel. As she helped Gus with the dishes, Gus admitted that she couldn't listen to anymore condolences. She knew they all meant well but it was too much all at once. She told Nicole that Waverly wouldn't deal with this well, her and Curtis were always close, and Nicole knew that, but she thought she had been saying the right things. Gus sat her down at the table and told her not to worry about saying the right things, she just had to be there for Waverly and sometimes that meant giving her time to calm down.

"You think she'll have calmed down now?" Nicole glanced at the clock on the wall, it had been nearly twenty minutes since she and Gus had started doing the dishes and then ended up talking about Curtis as they sat around the kitchen table. Gus stood up from the table without a word and brought out a cup from the cupboard and placed a teabag in it before filling it with boiling water from the kettle.

"Take this with you, it's her favourite." Gus handed Nicole the cup and she went upstairs. There were still plenty people milling about, clearly, they didn't even notice Gus' absence. She knocked lightly on Waverly's bedroom door and when she opened it she found Chrissy and Waverly locked in a tight embrace. Nicole stood by the door awkwardly, not wanting to intrude but Waverly saw her and gave her a small smile. She released Chrissy from the hug, who upon noticing Nicole as well stood up to take her leave.

"Bye Waverly, bye Nicole." Chrissy smiled as she walked towards the door.

"You're leaving already?" Nicole asked, more curious than anything. No one downstairs looked like they would be leaving any time soon, which Nicole was sure was going to annoy Gus even though she probably wouldn't say anything.

"Yeah, Beth's having a party tonight and I promised I'd help her set up." Chrissy looked back at Waverly with a furrowed brow, but Waverly assured her she was fine and to go enjoy the party. Nicole joined Waverly on the bed and handed off the cup of tea.

"My favourite…" Waverly smiled as she accepted the cup, taking a deep inhale through her nose as she lay her head on Nicole's shoulder. "I'm sorry for snapping at you and storming off. I know you were just trying to help."

"It's ok, it's a tough day." Nicole wrapped her arm around Waverly's shoulder and pressed a kiss to the side of her head. She couldn't imagine what Waverly was going through. "Do you want me to stay tonight? I haven't asked my mom but I'm sure she'd be ok with it, considering…"

"I'm just going to spend some time with Gus tonight, if you don't mind?" Waverly raised her head and looked at Nicole, of course Nicole wouldn't mind. Waverly had to do what she thought was right and Nicole could handle not holding Waverly close if she knew Gus and her would support each other. She wasn't really sure what Wynonna would do, she seemed to have spent most of the day with a close eye on Waverly though, so she would surely make sure she was doing alright.

"No, of course not. Baby, you do what you need to do." Nicole smiled, and Waverly let her head fall back onto her shoulder, hugging the warm cup to her chest.

Nicole waited until everyone else had left to help tidy the house before she headed home, leaving Waverly with an assurance that if she changed her mind she could call her, and Nicole would come right back. She knew how much Curtis meant to Waverly, how much he clearly meant to a lot of people in town. Part of her hoped that Waverly really would be ok, and she wouldn't need to call but the rest of her just wanted to hold Waverly and make her forget about what had happened.

Chapter Text

"God Waves, for someone so smart you can be such a dumbass sometimes!" Wynonna had stormed into Waverly room and found her almost ready. Hair done, clothes changed and about to head to Beth's party. She knew she shouldn't have told Wynonna her plans, she should have just sneaked out like Wynonna had always done.

"If this is about me not telling Nicole, you have zero right to give me relationship advice! Not seen Doc around lately…" Waverly rolled her eyes, she knew what she was doing. Nicole wanted to comfort her, and she had been, it had been what Waverly had needed but all she needed to do now was forget that the past week had even happened, and she couldn't do that with Nicole constantly making sure she was alright. She thought Wynonna of all people would have understood that.

"Yeah well…we aren't actually a couple. You and Nicole are! You can't lie to her, Waves." Wynonna was obviously trying for a softer voice than normal, wanting Waverly to see sense or what Wynonna thought was sense.

"I'm not lying, I'm just not telling her I'm going…there's a difference." Waverly spoke as she applied the final touch of her make-up, she didn't want people to notice just how much she had been crying the past few days.

"You are lying, Waverly. You told me you were going to go to the party five minutes after she left…there's no way you weren't already thinking about it when she was here." Wynonna was right but that still didn't change Waverly's mind. She wasn't lying and even if she was, it was a lie by omission. Gus was fast asleep, she'd spent time with her before she went to bed and now that she was asleep, Waverly wanted to do something else. Something she knew Nicole would not exactly be on board with and so she felt it was best just not to tell her, she didn't see the harm. Nicole would only worry if she knew Waverly was going to the party and she didn't need to.

"And if I told Nicole that I wanted to go to the party, what do you think she would say?" Waverly raised her eyebrows at her sister, she knew exactly what Nicole would say. She would tell her it was a bad idea, that she shouldn't just get drunk to avoid her pain but that was what she wanted to do.

"She would tell you not to go and so am I!" Wynonna glared at her, arms folded across her chest and spoke to Waverly with an authority that Waverly felt she had no right to. She hated it when people spoke to her like a child and she really hated it when people told her what to do. "Don't go, Waverly. Please."

"Don't tell me what to do! I'm not a child!" She pushed passed Wynonna and walked down the stairs, grabbed her jacket by the front door and headed straight out the house. Gus was asleep, she wouldn't even notice that Waverly was gone, and she prayed that Wynonna would be sensible enough not to follow her or wake Gus to tell her Waverly had just disappeared. Curtis was gone and for one night she just wanted to pretend that that wasn't true.

 

The Gardner's place was almost on the edge of town and by the time Waverly arrived she was freezing, she knew she should have taken a warmer coat. She rushed inside and almost immediately found Chrissy. Even among all the people and there were a lot of people, Chrissy's laugh managed to get Waverly's attention. She followed the noise and saw Chrissy talking to an older guy, presumably one of Mercedes friends from university but she dropped the conversation as soon as she saw Waverly.

"Waverly, what are you doing here? You said you were keeping Gus company." Chrissy pulled her to the side of the hallway, so their conversation was at least partially private.

"She's asleep." Waverly shrugged, thankful that Chrissy hadn't asked her where Nicole was. She did feel bad about leaving the house without a word. She had never done that before and she knew how much it used to worry Gus when Wynonna had done it. She just hoped that Gus would sleep through the night and be none the wiser in the morning. "I needed a drink…" Chrissy looked at her for a long moment until she sighed and took her hand, leading her through to the kitchen and a counter top covered in various half empty bottles that Beth had obviously found about the house.

Waverly smiled and waved at everyone in the room and followed Chrissy to where Beth, Rosita and Steph were idly chatting and sipping on whatever had found its way into their cups. Mercedes was there too, being hit on by a very drunk Pete and it was very clearly not working. Waverly had never been a huge fan of Mercedes, she had encouraged a lot of Wynonna's more illegal behaviour when they were at school together, but she had seemed to have grown up a bit since then. A pesky younger brother that constantly needed bailing out from one situation or another and parents that couldn't seem to care less would probably do that to you. Thankfully the youngest Gardner didn't seem to be around.

Rosita grabbed an empty cup and poured Waverly a concoction she wasn't sure she could stomach but she took it gratefully and powered through until the taste didn't bother her anymore. Her and Rosita weren't awfully friendly, but she had taken over her spot on the cheerleading team when Waverly had quit, and they were in the same English and History class, so they'd been fairly sociable in the past.

"I heard about your uncle, I'm really sorry." Rosita nudged her shoulder after pouring yet another awful mix together in Waverly empty cup. Waverly nodded and took a long drink before meeting Rosita's eye. This was exactly the opposite of what she had wanted her night to be.

"Can we talk about something else?" Waverly didn't want to be rude, but she knew if she kept hearing condolences she would be. She hadn't wanted to come to the party to get any more sympathy.

Rosita was quiet for a while, clearly not knowing what else to talk about and Waverly couldn't blame her, it wasn't like they really knew much about the other. Chrissy and Steph had got themselves into a debate with Beth and Mercedes over which party of theirs someone had stolen a painting off the walls of the Gardner's home. Waverly was just about to interject and let them know it had been two years previous…and how it definitely had not been Wynonna when Rosita leaned in to say something to her.

"You kept my note…"

"What?" Waverly turned to look at her, the memory of the note she was passed in English taking a few seconds to materialize as the alcohol made its way through her system.

"You kept my note." Rosita repeated and leaned back, her eyes hopeful and Waverly was suddenly very uncomfortable. Nicole thought it had been odd when she kept the note too, but she couldn't very well tell Rosita that she had kept it to evaluate the meaning with her girlfriend without making Rosita feel like a fool. Her girlfriend… Waverly quickly felt a powerful wave of guilt, she had lied to Nicole. Wynonna was right…and now she felt awful.

"Uh yeah…sorry I…I just didn't know what to do with it." Waverly put her drink to her lips and drank until she saw Rosita's eyes fall to her own cup. Not wanting to continue that conversation in the slightest she slipped out of the kitchen, grabbing an open bottle of something on her way. Not actively taking part in any real conversation as she dotted about, room to room, taking swigs from the bottle that had turned out to be something peach flavoured and faking a smile to anyone that tried to get her attention as her guilt twisted horribly in her stomach.

More and more people kept telling her how sorry they were for her loss and every time she heard it she would take another drink. She couldn't blame them, they were trying to do the nice thing, but each condolence felt like a fresh wave of pain straight to her heart and it was just another reminder of the person who had wanted to be there for her, comfort her but she had sent her away. She had lied just so she could go to a party, where she wasn't even enjoying herself. It wasn't taking her mind off things and now she had just added something else on top of it all. She had lied to Nicole…

The more she drank the more she wished someone would just stop her, notice that she wasn't having a good time, but no one did. Everyone saw her as the happy one, they probably didn't even think losing Curtis would phase her but of course it had…she missed him so much. She knew that there was one person who would have actually noticed she wasn't having a good time, who would have taken her home and told her to get some sleep, but she wasn't there. She wasn't there because Waverly had lied. She had never lied to Nicole before. What was she even doing there? It wasn't helping, she thought it would help but she just felt worse and she missed Nicole.

Waverly stormed past the people sitting on the stairs and into the bathroom. She thought she might be sick, but she was positive it wasn't the alcohol, it was the guilt. She had never felt so guilty in her life. She couldn't be there anymore, she couldn't be around a bunch of people who didn't even really see her. She pulled out her phone. There were a bunch of texts from Wynonna, one of which told her she had forgotten to take her keys when she stormed out the house earlier. She wasn't going to reply, she fumbled with her phone until she got to Nicole's contact. It took her longer than she would admit to be able to hit the right button to call the only person she wanted to speak to, the only person who had ever really seen her.

"Waves?" Nicole's sleep ridden voice hit Waverly's ear and she started to cry straight away. "Baby? Do you need me to come over?"

"Can you come and get me please? I don't want to be here anymore!" Waverly cried down the phone as she wiped the back of her hand against her eyes, not caring if she smudged her make-up in the slightest.

"What? Waverly, where are you?" Nicole's voice turned stern, of course she didn't know where Waverly was. She thought about hanging up or telling Nicole she was fine, telling her she just needed to talk for a bit, but she couldn't. She needed to see her. She needed someone to get her out of there.

"Gardner's…party…please." Waverly voice wouldn't stop cracking as the tears came harder.

"I'll be there as soon as I can, are you gonna be ok until I get there?" The concern in Nicole's voice broke Waverly's heart, she must have sounded like such a mess and she knew she shouldn't have been begging someone who she had lied to mere hours before to come and get her from somewhere she wasn't even supposed to be but there was no one else she wanted to see.

"Y-yeah…th-hank you, Nicole." Waverly slid her way down the back of the door and onto the floor. She couldn't believe that even after finding out she had lied, Nicole would still come to get her.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole tore into the party, looking everywhere for Waverly but she couldn't see her anywhere. When they spoke on the phone it sounded quiet and there was far too much noise in the main part of the house. Nicole's heart was racing, she didn't want to be there, surrounded by so many people but Waverly needed her, and she wasn't going to let her down even if she felt a wave of hurt every time she thought about Waverly not telling her that she was going to the party. She worked her way through the house until she found the kitchen and a potential way to the back garden, it would have been quiet enough out there, away from the music that Waverly could have called her from there.

"Nicoooole!" Chrissy's voice broke her from her mission towards the back door and she turned to find her clinging onto Pete's arm, both clearly drunk off their asses. "Where's Waverly?"

"That's who I'm looking for." Nicole took a few steps towards them but by the time she got closer, Chrissy's attention had moved back onto Pete. She took Chrissy by the shoulders and tried getting her attention back. "Chrissy! Look at me! When did you last see her?"

"Um…" Chrissy scrunched up her face and Nicole knew it was pointless, even if Chrissy had seen her recently the chances of her remembering where that had been were slim to none. Nicole sighed and let go of her shoulders, eyes searching the kitchen for anyone slightly more sober.

"Nicole…she went upstairs." A girl Nicole sort of recognized tapped her on the shoulder and she spun around to look for the staircase. She had passed one on her way to the kitchen, so she started to walk back the way she came in, but a hand gripped her wrist. "She seemed pretty upset…did you do something to her?" Nicole turned around, absolutely stunned. Who did this girl think she was?

"Her uncle just died, why do you think she's upset?!" Nicole spat and ripped her arm out of the girl's grip.

"Yeah Rosita, jeez!" Chrissy sneered. Rosita, from English, Nicole remembered where she recognized her from. She brushed off her annoyance and ran for the stairs, nearly tripping over the carpet twice before she reached the top. She tried every door, calling Waverly's name. She could hear crying as she reached the end of the hallway and she knocked gently on the door to what she thought was a bathroom.

"Waves, it's me…can you open the door?" Nicole pressed her ear up against the door and she heard the lock click. The door opened, and Waverly launched herself at Nicole. She was upset with her but she couldn't hold onto that, not when Waverly clearly needed her. She wrapped her arms around Waverly and pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. She could feel Waverly shaking in her arms and it was taking everything for Nicole to not lift her up, carry her down the stairs and out to her car but considering she nearly fell walking up the stairs herself she figured it wouldn't be the best plan. She wasn't even sure she was strong enough to do so.

"I shouldn't have come here." Waverly lifted her head off of Nicole's chest just enough to speak but not enough to meet Nicole's eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you I was gonna come and you had to come get me, I didn't know who else to call…" Waverly practically whispered and Nicole's heart broke.

"I will always come and get you when you need me." Nicole closed her eyes and every bit of anger she was holding towards Waverly for not being honest with her fell away as she realised how true those words were. She just couldn't bring herself to be annoyed with the girl in her arms anymore. She would always be there for Waverly when she called.

"Even if you hate me right now?" Waverly's voice shook, and she buried her face back into Nicole's front with a small shake of her head. Nicole pulled Waverly's face up, forcing her to finally make eye contact. Nicole could smell the alcohol on her breath and see every tear she had cried from the redness in her eyes, but she still looked beautiful. She didn't know why Waverly hadn't told her she was coming to the party, part of her didn't even want to know. She was definitely confused by it, but she could never hate Waverly.

"I don't hate you…you could have told me you were coming here but you're drunk right now so how about I get you home and we talk about it tomorrow?" Nicole smiled down and Waverly's face fell back into Nicole's chest, sobbing and forcing words out that Nicole had to strain to hear.

"But I lied to you…how can you not hate me?"

"Because I…" The explanation was on the tip of Nicole's tongue but having only literally just realised what it was, she couldn't say it now. Not when Waverly was drunk and might not even remember her saying it. "I care about you and I know you're going through a rough time right now. Can I just take you home, please?" Waverly nodded and with her still tucked just as closely into Nicole's chest, they made their way out of the house and to Nicole's car. Nicole didn't miss the glare that Rosita watched them with as she walked Waverly out. What was her problem?

After Waverly had informed her she had forgotten her keys, the car ride was silent, apart from the occasional sniffle from Waverly as she kept herself pressed up against the glass of the window. Nicole moved to the passenger side door when Waverly made no moves to get out of the car after they had pulled up outside and opened it for her. She scooped her underneath the shoulders for support as they made their way to the door. Nicole made her lean against the side of the house while she called Wynonna to come and let them inside, she didn't want to knock and risk waking up Gus with a very drunk Waverly by her side.

Wynonna opened the door and let them in before Nicole got Waverly to her room, got her changed out of her clothes and into pyjamas before moving back towards the door.

"Wait…" Waverly begged as Nicole turned the handle, the first word she'd spoken since they had got into her car. Nicole turned and saw nothing but fear on Waverly's face. Fear that Nicole was just going to leave her. Nicole smiled and shook her head before taking the few steps back towards Waverly's bed.

"I'm just going to get you some water, I'll be right back." Nicole cupped Waverly's face and brushed her thumb gently across Waverly's cheekbone before slipping out the room. She filled two glasses in the kitchen and placed both beside Waverly's bed. She slid off her bra underneath her t-shirt, discarding it on the floor before taking off her jeans and letting them drop beside it. Waverly watched her, but it wasn't sensual or romantic, it was as if Waverly couldn't believe Nicole was actually still there, going to actually stay with her and if she tore her eyes away maybe Nicole would disappear. Nicole wanted to ask her why she hadn't told her she was going to the party, why she had said all she wanted to do that night was spend time with Gus, but Waverly was upset, definitely more upset than Nicole was about Waverly not telling her. It wasn't the right time to confront her if it was only going to make Waverly feel worse.

Waverly budged up in the bed, so Nicole could slip in beside her, wrapping her arms firmly around Waverly as soon as she was laying down and stroking comforting patterns down Waverly's back with one hand while the other worked out the tiny knots that had formed in Waverly's hair. After a moment Waverly pulled Nicole tight against her and lay her head in the crook of Nicole's neck, she could feel Waverly's tears before she heard the telltale sniffling that accompanied them.

"I can't believe he's gone."

"I know, baby." Nicole just let her cry, whispering reassurances in her ear whenever she felt Waverly needed them of I'm here, until she fell asleep. Nicole couldn't sleep with the lamp on in the room and she couldn't bear to move Waverly so she could turn it off, so she just lay there watching as Waverly small form curled into her more and more, as if gravitating towards Nicole with each breath she took.

Nicole's head turned towards the door as she heard the tiniest squeak from the hinges when someone opened it. Wynonna stood in the doorway watching them for a moment, eyes firmly on Waverly's sleeping figure with a face full of worry before she looked at Nicole.

"Thanks for getting her home." Wynonna whispered, and Nicole nodded. She wanted to ask if Wynonna had known Waverly was going to go to the party and if she had known Waverly had kept that information from Nicole. She wanted to know if that's why she looked so worried, but she couldn't with Waverly asleep in her arms. Maybe Wynonna wouldn't have even told her the truth, Waverly was her sister and if she thought she was protecting her, she might say anything to Nicole.

"Could you?" Nicole flicked her eyes to the lamp beside her and Wynonna tiptoed into the room, turned it off and slipped back towards the door just as quietly before shutting the door behind her as she left them alone again.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly stretched out in her bed, a few cracks and pops before her eyes shot open and she realised that she was alone. She remembered Nicole being there, picking her up from the party and lots of crying. After a lot of drinking. Her throat and mouth were dry, and she turned over and spotted the glasses that Nicole had placed there the night before. She emptied one in its entirety before placing it back down and moving to sit on the edge of her bed. Nicole was there but now she was gone. Waverly put her head in her hands and swallowed down the lump in her throat, she couldn't blame Nicole. She had come to get her but that didn't mean anything, Nicole was a good person and she would have done that for anyone if they had asked, even someone that had lied straight to her face.

Waverly could feel just how dried out the skin around her eyes had become, a week of crying had left her with more than just a broken heart. She lifted her head and grabbed some moisturizer off her bedside table and applied it lightly underneath the bags that had formed even with a good night's sleep. She lay back and gripped the pillow Nicole had used, she pressed her face into it and inhaled deeply everything that Nicole had left behind. She knew she had to explain herself, but she just didn't know how, and Nicole had just left without letting her apologise. She'd sort breakfast and then she would call her, she just had to hope that Nicole would actually pick up the phone.

She hoped it was still early enough that Waverly could get downstairs and make breakfast for Gus like she had been doing every morning since Curtis passed so she ignored the tightness in her chest as she thought of Nicole and made her way down to the kitchen. She could hear sounds coming from the kitchen and she immediately felt bad for sleeping in. Gus always made breakfast for herself and Curtis, every single day and Waverly knew how hard it would be for her to get back into a routine like that without him.

What Waverly did not expect to see when she entered the kitchen was Nicole, standing with her back to Waverly, preparing something on the stove while Gus sat at the kitchen table. Staring at her hand, at her wedding ring. Waverly had to swallow down another lump in her throat before moving towards her aunt and wrapping her arms around her from behind.

"Mornin' Gus." Waverly kissed the side of Gus' head and it seemed to bring her out of her daydream. She turned to smile softly at Waverly and nodded her head. Nicole turned at the sound of Waverly's voice to look at her, but Waverly didn't know what to do. Did she just smile at her? Did she go over and hug her good morning? Kiss her good morning? She didn't know if they were actually ok. She had stayed though, when Waverly had been sure that she had left, she had stayed and surely, she wouldn't have if they weren't ok, right? Waverly decided to offer a smile, she was sure that Nicole had witnessed the delayed reaction as she went through all the thoughts screaming in her head because when she returned the smile, it didn't quite reach her eyes.

Waverly was pulled forward, drawn towards Nicole because she needed to thank her for coming to get her. Properly and sober but Gus was right there, and she couldn't do that with words. Nicole's attention was back on the pan of eggs in front of her and so Waverly hesitated when she was close enough to make contact. She didn't want to do anything that Nicole wasn't ok with, so she settled on a light touch to her arm. Nicole didn't move away when she easily could have, and Waverly gripped it more firmly. Waverly moved her head closer to Nicole's shoulder, wanting desperately to just place a soft kiss there but Nicole brought her head down to rest against Waverly's forehead.

"We can talk after breakfast, ok?" Nicole lifted her head and stared straight down into the pan.

"Ok." Waverly answered meekly, her body filled with dread. If Nicole was just going to say they were fine, she could have easily said that in front of Gus, but she didn't, and Waverly's mind started to run away with itself. Nicole wouldn't forgive her for lying, she'd tell her they were over. If she couldn't trust Waverly, then why should she be with her?

"It's almost ready if you want to wake Wynonna?" Nicole turned to her and smiled, it felt normal and great and right having Nicole there, making breakfast for them all. She didn't want to think that it might be the first and last time she experienced it.

"Wynonna doesn't really do breakfast…" Waverly rolled her eyes and forced out a laugh despite the impending doom she felt coming.

"Well she does now!" Gus' voice was strong, stronger than Waverly had heard it in days and when she turned to look at her aunt there was no arguing with how stern she was being in that moment. "We are going to eat as a family from now on, while we are all still here!" Gus' serious expression faltered for a moment as a wave of sadness washed over her at her own words, but she composed herself and told Waverly to go and wake her sister.

Waverly made her way up to Wynonna's room at Gus' request, she was worried that the encounter they had the previous night, while not nearly as bad as it could have been, was going to impede her ability to actually get Wynonna to do what Gus wanted. Still fast asleep when Waverly entered her room, she sat on the end of the bed and tapped on her leg until she roused. Wynonna wiped the sleep from her eyes and squinted at Waverly through one open eye.

"Nicole made breakfast…" Waverly couldn't hold eye contact for more than a second, she felt guilty about everything that had occurred the day before, but she had always hated fighting with Wynonna more than anything. It hadn't happened properly in a long time and Waverly had some fantasy that now they were older it wouldn't happen again.

"And?" Wynonna groaned, pulling her blanket over her face and turning away from Waverly.

"And Gus wants you to come down for it…she wants to eat as a family." Waverly really liked the idea, she hoped it would do them all some good but convincing Wynonna of that was going to be difficult. Wynonna groaned again. "She needs us right now, Wynonna and anyway I'm the one who was out drinking all night…" Waverly cringed, she probably shouldn't have brought up the night before, but she didn't know how else to guilt trip Wynonna into actually getting her ass out of bed.

"Yeah…how are you feeling this morning?" Wynonna threw her covers back and stared at Waverly, she forced herself to look her sister in the eye and shrugged.

"I don't know. I don't know how me and Nicole are…she stayed the night though so that's a good sign, right?" Waverly wasn't sure who she was trying to convince.

"I would say so…but as you said I shouldn't be giving out relationship advice." Wynonna quirked an eyebrow and Waverly had to look down at her hands. She had almost forgotten she had said that.

"I'm sorry…everything was just too much yesterday and I thought I knew what I was doing. You were right, I shouldn't have gone." Once again Waverly could feel tears threatening to fall and the lump in her throat was getting harder to ignore. She fell back onto the bed and crawled up until she was enveloped in a hug by Wynonna. They used to sleep like that when they were younger, back when they lived with their father and it gave Waverly a comfort that while she didn't know where she stood with Nicole, she knew her sister would always be there for her, no matter how badly they fought.

"It's alright, babygirl. I know it's not like you to blow up like that…she was looking at you like you were the most precious thing in the world while you slept last night." Wynonna stroked her hair and Waverly turned to look at her, was she telling the truth? Wynonna obviously seeing the question in Waverly's eyes nodded with a genuine smile. "Just make sure she knows you're sorry, she'll forgive you."

"Is this why you normally sleep through the mornings? You actually give good advice before noon?" Waverly laughed, and it felt good, she hadn't laughed in days.

"Of course, can't have everyone coming to me for answers to their problems!" Wynonna held Waverly tighter in her arms and kissed the top of her head.

"But I can, right?" Waverly turned to look at her sister, worry about the conversation that had to come with Nicole plain on her face and Wynonna gave her a tender smile. If she really had messed things up with Nicole, then she was going to need Wynonna more than ever.

"Always." Wynonna pulled her closer into a hug before they made their way downstairs together. Gus and Nicole had just finished setting the table and before Waverly could flounder about where to sit, Nicole patted the seat next to hers and she took it cautiously.

They ate in relative silence and Waverly noticed how everyone's eyes at some point landed on the one empty chair at the table. Waverly's eyes and throat started to burn when she couldn't tear her eyes away from it, but Nicole's hand found hers under the table and she felt it ground her. She leaned her head into Nicole's shoulder, needing more than just her hand to be touched and Nicole's lips found the top of Waverly's head. She sighed heavily and a little staggered, maybe they would be ok.

After breakfast, even with the sliver of hope that Waverly had gained, she still couldn't bring herself to have that conversation with Nicole straight away. She busied herself, doing the dishes, drying the dishes and the whole time, Nicole waited patiently. Never pushing Waverly to hurry up so they could talk or trying to start the conversation while she was at the sink.

When there was nothing else she could use as an excuse to put it off any longer, she took Nicole's hand and led her upstairs to Waverly's room. She let go of Nicole's hand at the top of the stairs and marched into her room, sat on her bed and stared at her hands until Nicole joined her. She had closed the door behind her and Waverly couldn't decide if that was a good or bad thing. Did she want privacy for once they had aired everything out or did she think Waverly would want privacy while she told her she couldn't forgive her.

They sat in silence for a while and Waverly couldn't help but notice the gap that Nicole had put between them on the bed, it was mere inches, but it felt like a ravine. Waverly had sat down first, hoping that Nicole would sit just as close to her as she normally would, but she didn't and the tiny bit of hope that Waverly had gained fell apart.

"Ok, I'll start." Nicole broke the silence first and Waverly's head snapped up from looking at the space between them to see Nicole's eyes taking her in. "I don't know why you didn't tell me, if you wanted to go to the party you should have just said so. I wouldn't have thought it was the best idea but at least I could have been there when you got upset." Nicole reached out and took Waverly's hand, something Waverly had not been expecting and she almost jumped at the contact before settling into the warmth of Nicole's hand on hers. She started stroking up and down Waverly's fingers with her other hand and Waverly's heart started beating wildly in her chest.

"Nicole…I'm so sorry I didn't tell you. It was stupid, I just wanted to have a good time without anyone reminding me of what had happened, but people kept telling me how sorry they were and all I could think about was you." Waverly felt the tears stinging her eyes again, she'd been so stupid to think that time away from Nicole was what she needed. Would ever be what she needed. "Please tell me this isn't it…I know I should have told you, but I am so sorry. Please give me another chance."

"Hey…" Nicole tightened her grip on Waverly's hand and Waverly looked into her eyes, even if everything in her body was telling her not to. She didn't want to see Nicole feeling sorry for her as she broke her heart. "I'm not breaking up with you, if that's what you think!"

"You're not?" Waverly's breath stuttered in her throat, she had been so sure that this was it.

"Of course, I'm not. Do I wish you'd told me? Definitely, but it's ok." Nicole's lip twitched, and Waverly wasn't sure if it was because Nicole was fighting a smile or not. She definitely looked genuine, but Waverly couldn't understand how Nicole could be so ok with it.

"You shouldn't forgive me so easily…I feel like I need to grovel or something!" Waverly's guilt was still very much at the front of her mind but the more she thought about it, she wasn't sure if she would be able to stay mad at Nicole for very long if their situations had been switched.

"No, you don't." Nicole laughed and it warmed Waverly's entire body, but it sounded distorted. Waverly could see Nicole was biting the inside of her cheek, the same way she did when she was stopping herself from saying or doing something.

"You're not just saying that because…'cause Curtis died?" Waverly asked, terrified of the answer she might get. She couldn't bare it if Nicole was only trying to spare her feelings because she was going through a difficult time. Nicole shook her head firmly, her hair falling in front of her face, creating a barrier between them, as she turned her head away from Waverly. Waverly tried to turn Nicole's head, but she wouldn't budge so she got down on her knees in front of Nicole and looked up at her. Nicole was smiling. Waverly wasn't expecting her to be smiling, she was expecting tears or a frown because she didn't actually forgive her, but she didn't want to say because Waverly had just lost one person and Nicole didn't want her to lose another so soon. "Nicole…please?"

"I was really upset with you, Waverly…but then I realised something. I…" Nicole swallowed hard, eyes fixed firmly down at the floor. "I think I love you."

"You think you…oh." Waverly leaned back onto her ankles and her mind went totally blank. She had gone through multiple scenarios as to how this conversation would play out but that had not been one she had seen coming.

"I know I do…so I would never just break up with you over something like this." Nicole still hadn't looked at Waverly since she got down on the floor, but she was still smiling.

"Nicole…" Waverly squeezed their still joined hands and finally Nicole looked at her. As soon as their eyes met, Waverly felt the most spectacular bloom in her chest. She could see it. Love. Radiating off Nicole in such powerful waves she felt like she could almost taste it.

"You don't have to say it back, I just…I needed to tell you. I wanted to tell you last night, but I wanted to be sure you'd remember it." Nicole waved it off and Waverly's hands found their way to Nicole's cheeks, warm and flushed.

Waverly didn't know exactly what she was feeling for Nicole, not until Nicole used the words but now no other word made sense to describe it. Love.

"I love you too." Waverly beamed, and Nicole let out a little gasp before leaning forward and pulling Waverly up towards her for a kiss. It was soft and so gentle, but Waverly poured every single thing she was feeling for Nicole into it.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Nicole had to apologise to her mom for disappearing in the middle of the night but Waverly had needed her. She didn't elaborate, she didn't tell her mom that Waverly was drunk, only that she was upset. Her mom understood, they had all just lost Curtis and she knew what that felt like.

Nicole's mom lost her father when she was twenty, Nicole was too young to even remember meeting him and he never got to see her grow up. He never got to see his own daughter become a nurse like she had promised she would after having Nicole, he never got to retire next to a lake where he could fish every day just like he planned. Nicole wondered if Curtis had had any grand plans for his retirement, maybe he and Gus would have gone somewhere nice and warm once Waverly and Wynonna were firmly standing on their own two feet.

Her mom told Nicole all about her grandfather as she was growing up, how he was kind and fair, unflinching in his convictions and the best friend she ever had. There were pictures of them together everywhere around the house, family vacations, fishing trips and a lot of them reminded Nicole of photos she'd seen of Curtis and Waverly.

Nicole's grandmother was still around but the relationship between her and her mom was different than it had been with her grandfather. She had always wanted Nicole's parents to get married, even though that wasn't what either of them wanted. She never really got over it and while they tried to stay close after her dad's death, it didn't last. Once the initial grieving was over, the passing comments and questioning started again. When are you going to give that girl a proper father figure? Where even is her father now? Does he ever even send you money? Nicole's mom couldn't handle it, she was happy with how her life had turned out. It didn't matter to her that he had never offered financial help with Nicole, she probably would have turned it down anyway because as far as she saw things, keeping Nicole was her idea and the idea that she was a monetary obligation felt wrong. She loved Nicole more than any person she had ever loved in her entire life, if she ended up marrying someone down the line then great but her number one priority had been Nicole since the moment Nicole wrapped a tiny hand around her finger.

Nicole remembered her mom dating a bit when she was younger, she would get a babysitter for the night, then her mom would come home and crawl into bed with her and tell a sleepy Nicole just how much she loved her. As Nicole got older she started to realise that she was probably the reason why most of those nights her mom came home alone. She once overheard her mom talking with a friend on the phone, she'd been out with the same guy a few weeks in a row but suddenly it stopped and apparently it was because he couldn't deal with the fact she already had a child. She had made clear to whoever she was speaking to that she hadn't hidden that fact, he obviously just decided he couldn't move past it.

When Nicole finally brought it up with her mom, her mom was straight with her. Explaining that anyone who didn't want Nicole too, didn't deserve her attention but she still held out hope that one day her mom would find someone who didn't care about the extra baggage. Maybe now that she would be most likely date a man who was older, maybe even had their own kids it could be different but between getting settled in a new town and a new job there really hadn't been any opportunities for her to meet someone special let alone any real friends. Nicole wished there was something she could do about that, especially now that she was sure Waverly was the love of her life but playing matchmaker for her mom would no doubt not go down well.

Nicole managed to get some school work done after speaking with her mom, it had been hard to concentrate at school and at home when she knew Waverly was hurting. Waverly would no doubt still be off school on Monday and Nicole had to get her head screwed on tight before another day there without her. She had become so accustomed to Waverly being there, picking her up in the mornings, sharing a kiss before they had to get to their separate classes and then finding her again at lunch. Even before they had started dating, seeing Waverly was her favourite thing about going to school. When she was with her, the general unease she felt just by being there seemed to relax and it had not been easy dealing with that again.

She finished up an essay she'd been putting off and started her Chemistry homework. She couldn't remember why she had even decided to take the subject anymore, it seemed so much easier at her last school but maybe that was because the teacher didn't have hands down the most boring voice in the world. She had to have a quick text conversation with Xavier before she could finish the assigned work but she managed to get through it without too much help.

Just as she was tidying everything away, her phone started to buzz in her pocket, first assuming it was another message from Xavier she didn't pull it out straight away but when it continued to vibrate she was pleasantly surprised to see Waverly's name and picture lighting up her phone.

"Hey, Waves."

"I'm coming to school tomorrow." Waverly said without so much as a greeting. Clearly, she'd been thinking about it for a while and when Nicole answered she had to get the words out straight away.

"Oh. Ok…are you sure?" Nicole didn't like the idea of Waverly rushing back to school before she was ready, no matter how much she missed having her there. Waverly needed to be in the right headspace and she wasn't sure that Waverly would be. Things were fine when Nicole had left Waverly's place earlier that day, better than fine in fact and Nicole smiled despite her worry as the words 'I love you too' played through her mind in Waverly's voice.

"Yeah…I can't stay cooped up here another day. It'll help keep my mind off things." Waverly sounded determined and Nicole was glad it seemed she had thought this over properly. "And I want to see you. Will you pick me up?"

"Of course, baby." Nicole hated the lingering hint of doubt that laced Waverly's question, maybe admitting the true extent of their feelings for each other hadn't quite hit Waverly yet. Maybe Nicole needed to remind Waverly just how special she was to her. "I love you, Waverly and I'll always be there when you ask."

"You really mean that, don't you?" Nicole could hear the smile in Waverly's voice. "I love you too."

 

Nicole sat in her car, watching the front door and waiting for Waverly to come down the steps. She was taking a little longer than normal to get out the house and Nicole couldn't blame her. First day back at school after losing Curtis was always going to be hard, no matter how long she waited. When it got to the stage where they really were going to be late unless Waverly walked out right that second, Nicole made her way to the front door to see what was keeping her.

Wynonna answered, and Nicole immediately noted that she looked sad, Nicole knew she'd be missing Curtis too, but this was different. This was the type of sad look she had when she was worried about Waverly.

"Where is she?" Nicole ask, worry spiking in her chest. Wynonna nodded her head upstairs and Nicole took off straight away up to Waverly's room. The sight she was met with broke her heart. Waverly, curled up in a ball on her bed with a note clutched to her heaving chest. There was a box sitting beside her on the bed, the lid laying on the floor. "Baby, what happened?"

"He…" Waverly's voice cracked, and she couldn't continue with whatever it was she wanted to say. Nicole moved to the bed and pulled Waverly into her. It took a while for Waverly to calm down, but Nicole never stopped stroking her hair and holding her tight until she did. She started to explain that she'd been up in the attic, looking for her old cheerleading uniform so she could give it to Chrissy. She'd mentioned she needed a new skirt and since Waverly wasn't using hers anymore, she figured it was no problem to let her have it. "I found this…in there." Waverly motioned to the box beside her and put the note in Nicole's hand.

Waverly. Congratulations on graduating, my little genius! Love from Curtis x

Nicole read over the note while Waverly traced over the handwriting with her finger. Nicole looked in the box for the first time, it was a series of books that looked old and most likely some form of collector's item. She pulled Waverly tight against her chest and kissed her forehead gently. She couldn't imagine how upset Waverly must be after seeing that, the fact that Curtis had got her something he knew she would love, that he wouldn't ever get to see her graduate when he would have been so damn proud of her and seeing his handwriting right there in front of her. It must have crushed her.

"I think you should stay home today…" Nicole said, barely above a whisper and she was glad when Waverly didn't protest her suggestion. Waverly let out a shaking breath as she nodded, bunching her hands into the front of Nicole's top.

"Will you stay with me? Gus is out dealing with all this legal stuff again and Wynonna is…well Wynonna. I don't want to be alone." Waverly bit down on her quivering lip as Nicole watched her, she knew she couldn't say no. After a week of Waverly keeping her at a distance because she didn't want to have to act like she was ok in front of Nicole when she clearly wasn't, Nicole was not going to disappear after Waverly had been so honest with her.

"Let me call my mom so she can speak to the school. I'll be right back!" Nicole promised but Waverly didn't move an inch, didn't let go of the vice grip she had on Nicole's clothing, but Nicole had left her phone in the car. "Baby…I promise I will be right back, ok?" Nicole squeezed Waverly tighter until she nodded and released Nicole's top. She ran down the stairs, grabbed her phone and got right back into position holding Waverly close again. Her mom sounded a little pissed that she would be missing school, but she agreed to call in for her.

"You're a good kid, Nicole." Her mom sighed before hanging up and Nicole smiled. Curtis had told her that once and for the first time she realised that she missed him too. She wasn't just sad because Waverly was sad. She liked Curtis, he was a good man and he approved of her. She made a promise to herself then, that even though he was gone, she would never do anything that would have made him change his mind about her.

It was clear that Wynonna didn't really know what to do in terms of comforting her sister. She did all she could, brought them some food around lunch time and some coffee in the afternoon. It took some convincing, but Nicole managed to get Waverly to eat something. She didn't eat much but enough to satisfy Nicole. They barely moved from their spot on the bed, only a couple times to get more comfortable or when Nicole's arm fell asleep from Waverly being on top of it for too long.

When Waverly got up to use the bathroom, Nicole's eyes settled on a small collection of DVDs on her shelf next to the small TV. She pushed herself off the bed and found the one she was looking for. A small smile spread across her face as she remembered their first kiss, WALL-E playing in the background and how the movie always made Nicole feel better even before it had even nicer memories attached to it. She stuck it on and grabbed the remote before moving back to the bed, ready to press play when Waverly emerged from the bathroom. Waverly curled back into her and Nicole started the movie, noticing a smile flicker across Waverly's face as she realised what was playing.

Waverly fell asleep at some point during the movie and Nicole turned down the volume of the TV, so it wouldn't wake her before slipping downstairs to grab some water. Gus came through the front door looking positively drained, she sat down at the kitchen table and dropped a pile of documents on the table with a groan, muttering something about lawyers and how expensive it was to die. Nicole filled up the coffee maker with water and put it on, so she could make Gus a cup.

"How's Waverly?" Gus asked when she finally seemed to notice that she wasn't alone in the kitchen.

"She didn't make it to school today…she found her graduation present in the attic." Nicole said slowly, she hoped it wouldn't upset Gus, but Nicole felt she should know the truth. Gus nodded solemnly.

"He really wanted to see her face when he gave her those." She offered Nicole a smile as she sat down the coffee in front of her, black with one sugar just like she always had. Most people would think car or something for a graduation present, but Curtis knew Waverly. It was the perfect gift and probably why it completely broke Waverly to see it.

"Do you mind if I spend the night? I think Waverly might be more likely to go to school tomorrow if I do…" Nicole didn't want to make it seem like Gus couldn't take care of Waverly but Gus should be looking after herself and if Nicole could make her life a little easier during a really crappy time by taking the burden of making sure Waverly was coping off of Gus' shoulders, she wanted to do that.

"No, of course not. Thank you, Nicole." Gus blew on her cup of coffee before taking a sip. "For being here for her. I never got a chance to say that I'm glad she has you. She's a lucky girl."

"I feel like I'm the lucky one…" Nicole stated truthfully, and Gus nodded because she knew, she knew just how extraordinary Waverly was. Not everyone saw it, the way Waverly really was a shining light in a world that desperately needed a little brightness, but Curtis saw it and Nicole was sure that Gus did too.

"Did Curtis know…about you two?"

"He did yeah. He figured it out a while back." Nicole realizing what she had just said studied Gus' face for any sign she was upset that Waverly hadn't told her sooner. She didn't see any, but she felt the need to apologise anyway. "I'm sorry he never told you."

"No…he wouldn't have done that to Waverly." Gus shook her head and leveled Nicole with a look that was somehow both stern and understanding. "She needed to tell me when she was ready, and he would have known that." Nicole thought back to a conversation she had with Waverly not long after Curtis figured out they were together, he had spoken to Waverly about them and he had known that Waverly would need to tell Gus in her own time.

"Yeah…he threatened me after he figured out." Nicole laughed, remembering the last real conversation she had with him. "If I ever hurt her, he threatened to bury me in his garden."

"He'd never have done that! Would have ruined his tomatoes!" Gus winked at Nicole with a smile and it was the first real smile she had seen from Gus since before he died.

"Waverly said he would have buried me in someone else's, so it wouldn't trace back to him." Nicole chuckled, and Gus laughed, really laughed before a tear rolled down her face and Nicole stopped. She really hadn't wanted to upset her.

"They were two peas in a pod, her and Curtis. I never really wanted kids, but he wanted a whole mess of them." Gus gripped the cup in front of her with both hands as her eyes shifted to where Curtis usually sat around the table. "When I said I wanted to take them in I was worried I wouldn't do a very good job, but he did a good enough job for both of us and then some!"

"I think you're doing just fine, Gus." Nicole wanted desperately to hug her, but she wasn't sure how that would be received, the two of them had never been that physically affectionate with each other. A pat on the shoulder or gentle squeeze to the arm was the most Gus had ever given Nicole. "I better get back upstairs." Gus nodded and wiped the last tears from her cheek.

"Bring down your clothes later if you won't be going home tonight, I'll make sure you've got something clean for school tomorrow." Gus smiled again, and Nicole thanked her before finally giving in and hugging Gus tight. It took a moment for Gus to return the embrace, but she did and then Nicole released her. Nicole offered her one last smile before heading back upstairs, finding a pair of Waverly's biggest pyjamas, grabbing her phone and then placing her clothes in the laundry room by the back door for Gus. She thought about sticking on the machine, but Gus probably needed something to do, to keep her mind busy.

She called her mom while she was still downstairs, Waverly was still asleep, and she didn't want to wake her. She wasn't sure if the conversation with her mom was going to be an easy one or not. She told her that she had to stay, Waverly needed her but that she would be in school tomorrow for sure. In fact, she wasn't sure, but she did hope that her being close to Waverly would have the positive effect she wanted, and they would both make it in the next day.

She made her way back to Waverly and crawled in beside her, the movements of the bed this time being just enough to wake Waverly up. She noticed that Nicole had changed straight away and looked at her with questioning eyes.

"I'm staying." Nicole assured her, and Waverly laid her head onto Nicole's chest, wrapping her arms around Nicole's waist.

"Thank you." Waverly sighed, tightening her hold for just a moment before relaxing.

Chapter Text

Waverly made it to school the next day and the next and the next until things almost started to feel normal again. Nicole had stayed the night with her every night since she had broken down after finding Curtis' graduation present. Susan didn't seem overly enthused about it but as long as Nicole got to school she didn't protest too much, mostly Waverly thought she just missed spending time with her daughter.

Susan actually stopped by the house one day while the pair were at school, introduced herself to Gus and made sure that she didn't mind that Nicole had practically moved in for the past few days. Gus didn't mind at all, Waverly knew that Nicole being there didn't just help her, it helped Gus and Wynonna too. She just had a caring energy that made them all feel a little more whole when she was around.

Nicole was being careful with Waverly though, watching what she was saying, how she touched Waverly while they cuddled and slept next to each other. Waverly had needed comfort, but she was starting to realise that she needed something more. They had been practically inseparable the past few days, except when they were in class, but they hadn't been intimate since before Curtis' passing. Waverly's skin always felt like it was on fire whenever Nicole touched her and she had been using that to ground her, make her remember that Nicole was there, that she was staying and that she loved her. That was firmly in her mind now though, she didn't need a reminder anymore, but the fire was still there, igniting exactly what it used to within her.

"Can we go somewhere after school? Just us…alone?" Waverly was stood leaning against the locker next to Nicole's, playing with the edges of Nicole's jacket as she put some things away before class. Nicole turned to look at her, Waverly giving her best attempt at seductive eyes, so she would understand exactly what Waverly was suggesting.

"I can't, I've got my appointment after school." Nicole reminded her, and Waverly huffed out a breath. She knew it wasn't an excuse and she should have remembered about the appointment herself, but it was still frustrating.

She'd never experienced this kind of want before, sure she had wanted to kiss Nicole all the time before they had gone any further than that but ever since they had, the need to be with Nicole was overwhelming. She hadn't been in the right frame of mind the last short while but that had definitely changed, and the powerful urge felt like it was occupying every single moment of her day.

"What's up?" Nicole took Waverly's hand that had been playing with her jacket into her own and squeezed it. Even that touch was enough for Waverly's heart to start pounding and if she didn't get a release soon, she was sure she was going to explode.

"I miss you…we've slept in the same bed for four nights in a row and we haven't done anything! " Waverly hung her head forward, hair cascading in front of her face before she lifted it and tried to control her errand strands.

"I didn't know if you were ready for anything just yet…" Nicole tucked a few hairs that Waverly had missed behind her ear, leaning in as she did so to kiss just behind where her fingers landed. Feeling Nicole's breath on her neck sent Waverly's head spinning, all she wanted to do was grab hold off Nicole's face and kiss her passionately right in the middle of the hall. She didn't care if people looked, she just needed to feel Nicole against her. She needed more than that though, she wanted to feel all of the passion and desire that Nicole had shown her before, she wanted to be left breathless and satisfied.

"I wasn't…but I am now, and god is it really bad that I just want to take you into the bathroom over there and screw you senseless?!" Waverly watched as Nicole's eyes went wide and she visibly swallowed, hard. They'd been clear about how much they had wanted each other in the past but neither of them had been quite so brutally honest about it before. Nicole's eyes glanced around the hall, no doubt checking to see if anyone had heard Waverly's little confession and all Waverly could do was bite down on her lip, waiting for Nicole's response.

"Not bad at all…" Nicole leaned in close and Waverly tried to prepare herself to be let down, Nicole would never do what she had suggested. Waverly didn't think she would ever want to do something quite so brazen before, but she had never felt quite so starved for touch in her life. "If I didn't think I'd make you scream the whole school down I would absolutely take you up on that offer." Nicole's smirk sent a shiver through Waverly's entire body. She had not expected that.

"Nicole…" Waverly let her head fall against the locker beside her and closed her eyes. "That's not fair!" Waverly knew her words probably had a similar reaction in Nicole, but she hadn't actually been aiming for that. She was just being honest. Waverly opened her eyes and Nicole was still smirking at her.

"I know…I also know that my mom is working until ten o'clock tonight, so we have five whole hours after I finish my session where I promise we can be alone." Nicole closed the remaining gap between them and set her forehead against Waverly's with a smile. "Can you hold on until then?"

"No." Waverly pouted, and Nicole let out a short laugh before capturing Waverly's protruding bottom lip between her own. Waverly leaned into it quickly, taking anything she could get at that moment to satisfy her. Nicole pulled back as she cupped Waverly's cheek softly. "Fine. If I have to."

"I love you." Nicole smirked again, and Waverly narrowed her eyes.

"Yeah…yeah. Love you too…" Waverly rolled her eyes, earning a giggle from Nicole as she leaned in and kissed her again. Fierce and strong. Waverly couldn't wait to have Nicole all to herself later, they hadn't made love since they'd said those words and Waverly was sure it was going to be so much better now.

"Guys…C'mon!" Chrissy's voice came from behind her and Waverly released Nicole's lips before turning and giving Chrissy a shy smile. Nicole placed a quick peck to her cheek before she headed off in the opposite direction from Waverly and Chrissy's first class of the day. Waverly watched her leave, she was already struggling and with the promise of five whole hours of uninterrupted Nicole time later, she wasn't sure how she was supposed to get through the day.

When she turned back to Chrissy, she saw Rosita watching her from across the hall until she noticed Waverly was looking right at her. She turned into her locker and Waverly shrugged it off as best she could. They hadn't seen each other since the party where she had admitted that it was her who wrote that note. It still confused her why Rosita had even written it, let alone admitted to it being her that did. She knew Waverly was with Nicole so what exactly did she think she would gain from revealing to Waverly that she liked her?

"You guys are freakin' gross, you know that, right? I've never seen such over the top googley eyes in my life!" Chrissy bumped Waverly's shoulder as they made their way to History. Waverly took a deep breath and blew it out her nose, content in the knowledge that her oldest friend never teased her like that when she was with Perry. Part of her knew it was because they never looked at each other like that but she also knew that it meant Chrissy liked Nicole. Waverly looped her arm through Chrissy's and smiled to herself.

"She told me she loves me…" Waverly chanced a look at Chrissy as she spoke and was rewarded with Chrissy's mouth literally dropping open in shock.

"What? Seriously?!" Waverly just nodded while the biggest grin spread across her face. "Do you love her?"

"Yeah…I really do." Waverly brought her shoulders up as she took another deep breath and sagged them, so unbelievably happy, as she blew it out. It felt good telling someone else, it made it seem even more real. She hadn't even told Wynonna yet, she'd been meaning to, but she just hadn't had the chance.

"Does that mean you guys have…" Chrissy trailed off as she made some weird hand gestures that Waverly could only assume was supposed to indicate two girls having sex. Waverly laughed but didn't correct just how not accurate she had been.

"Yes, Chrissy. We've been sleeping together since your party…"

"What? And you never told me?" Chrissy looked hurt and Waverly couldn't exactly blame her, even if they weren't as close as they once were, they had made a promise to each other before they even started high school that they would tell the other when something like that happened.

"I'm sorry…I didn't know how Nicole would feel about me talking to you about it."

"You have to tell me these things, it's not like I'm getting any action!" Chrissy huffed and rolled her eyes. Chrissy was beautiful and funny, and any guy would be lucky to have her but there weren't exactly many guys lining up to date the Sheriff's daughter. "By this point I'm gonna have to wait until I'm at university! I'm gonna be such a loser…"

"It's not that big a deal, anyway you don't want to sleep with someone unless you really like them, right?" Waverly prompted, knowing full well that Chrissy would never be the type of girl to lose her virginity to just anyone, just to get it over with even if she had said as much a few times when alcohol had made her lips a little looser than normal.

"Yeah…I guess." Chrissy shrugged but the smile on her face told Waverly that she agreed wholeheartedly. Waverly squeezed her arm and released it as they walked into class.

As she sat down, Rosita came in behind them, throwing her bag down on the floor a little harder than necessary. Had she been walking behind them the entire time? Had she heard everything that Waverly had said? Was Rosita actually mad that Waverly didn't like her back? They barely knew each other. Sure, Rosita was pretty, but Waverly didn't think they had anything in common so how would they have even hit it off if Waverly had realised she liked girls before Nicole came into her life? Waverly shook the annoyance out of her head and focused on the class. It wasn't that hard, she loved History.

 

Nicole dropped Waverly off at Shorty's after school while she went to meet with her psychiatrist. Waverly wanted to speak to Shorty about when she would go back to work, he'd been more than understanding about her taking some time off. Shorty and Curtis had been friends since they were teenagers and Waverly noticed he also seemed a little sad around his eyes still. Just like she did when she looked at herself in the mirror. She sat at the counter and waited for him to have a free moment to talk. It didn't take long; most people didn't start coming around until later on in the evening.

 

Now that she was actually there, she thought it would be good for her to come back to work the following week. Get back to some normalcy. She told Shorty as much and even though she knew he was probably missing having her help, he urged her to take all the time she needed. He knew Shorty's was a special place for Waverly and Curtis.

The first time she had ever come into Shorty's had been with Curtis, it wasn't long after she had moved in with him and Gus and despite their best efforts, Waverly was still finding the transition hard. He'd brought her to Shorty's in an attempt to cheer her up and it had worked wonders. They would come back every week, just the two of them and they were some of Waverly's fondest memories. Ever since then, Shorty had looked out for her and when she started coming in with her friends when she was old enough, she could always count on him to keep pestering boys away from her if she so much as gave him a look.

"If you're ready to come back next weekend then I'll put you on the afternoon shift Saturday." Shorty nodded at her and she smiled.

"Thank you, I think I just need to keep my mind busy." Waverly shrugged and the look on Shorty's face told her he knew exactly what she meant. Shorty gave her a quick pat on the shoulder before moving off and serving a waiting customer. She still had plenty time to kill before Nicole would be back to pick her up and so relaxed into her stool, hoping she might see someone from school or at least a friendly face she could talk to until then.

What she got instead was the unmistakable tones of Rosita's voice coming from somewhere behind her and she did not sound happy. She turned around and caught sight of her high ponytail and someone she recognized but didn't really know, talking with her. She would have ignored her if her conversation had not been quite so blatantly about Waverly and Nicole.

"I just don't get it…Nicole's a loser, she jumped like ten feet in the air last week when someone closed their locker a little loud. What does she even see in her?" Rosita scoffed, and Waverly tried to tune it out, but her blood was slowly boiling. She knew school must have been tough for Nicole the week Waverly took off but hearing someone actively make fun of her for something they didn't even understand made her see red. "Like I know the Earps are all messed up cause their parents died or forgot about them or whatever but come on!"

That was the final straw. Waverly hopped off her stool and went over to stand behind Rosita. Her friend, a girl she seemed to remember being a few years above her at school, maybe even in Wynonna's year, locked eyes with Waverly and then looked back to Rosita who slowly turned her head and smiled as if Waverly hadn't just overheard every horrible word she had just said.

"Rosita, I think you should mind your own business." Waverly smiled sweetly at her, trying her best not to let her immense anger raise her voice louder than it needed to be. Even if Shorty was a family friend, he was her boss now and giving him any reason to be mad at her was not something Waverly was very keen on.

"I wasn't…"

"You weren't what?" Waverly held up her hand as she interrupted whatever excuse Rosita was about to come up with. "Talking about my girlfriend? Talking about me or my family? You don't know anything about her or me for that matter and yet you seem to think that you deserve my attention more that Nicole does?" Waverly laughed, and Rosita looked as if another excuse was about to come out of her mouth, but Waverly wasn't having any of it. "If you even bothered to get to know me before filling your head with some sort of fantasy that me and you belong together, you'd know that I don't put up with people talking about my family like that. Have a good day Rosita…don't be here next time I'm working." With that Waverly walked out, taking great pleasure in the look of absolute shock that covered Rosita's face.

Waverly had always been known as a nice person and she was but sometimes that meant people walked all over her, took her for granted or assumed things because she was far too polite to say anything to the contrary. Not this time, she had to stand her ground because now she had something worth standing her ground for and someone she really cared for who didn't deserve to be talked about like that in the slightest.

 

By the time she had walked all the way to Nicole's psychiatrist's office, she had managed to mostly calm herself down. She was still pissed at what Rosita had said but she knew she had an evening to look forward to and being in a bad mood would not be worth it if she missed out on a single second of happiness with Nicole.

She thought about heading up and sitting in the waiting room but after spotting Nicole's car parked outside, she decided to keep the fresh air in her lungs, hoping it would get rid of the last lingering hints of agitation from Rosita's words. She leaned against the hood of the car, knowing that as soon as Nicole left the building she would be the only thing Nicole could see.

After checking her phone and realising there was a little longer left to wait than she could comfortably stand seductively against the hood of Nicole's car, she decided to lounge back onto it a little more and then a little more until she was sitting cross legged on the hood. Thankful that Nicole wasn't too anal about polishing her car or else she would have slid off the darn thing pretty easily.

"Now, that is not your car is it, Miss Earp?" Sheriff Nedley eyed her curiously as Waverly's head snapped to the side to look at him. She hadn't even heard him approach as she played a game on her phone to pass the time. He must have had a day off since he was out of uniform. It always felt strange seeing him in his normal clothes, even when Waverly would have sleepovers at Chrissy's when they were younger, seeing him in anything other than his Sheriff uniform just felt off and seeing him in pyjamas was just downright weird.

"Uh, no…" Waverly smiled, jumping off the hood and leaning back against it. Giving it a gentle pat, she informed him who's car it was. "This is my girlfriend's car." Nedley's eyes widened and he cleared his throat into his hand. Clearly Chrissy had not shared that bit of information with her father. Waverly spotted Nicole coming out of the building and threw her a wave. Nedley's eyes followed Waverly's and he studied Nicole.

"Hi…" Nicole said slowly, eyes moving from Nedley to Waverly then back to Nedley.

"This is Nedley, Chrissy's dad!" Waverly raised her eyebrows in the hopes that Nicole would realise they were speaking with the Sheriff. "Nedley, this is Nicole. My girlfriend."

"Well, nice to meet you Nicole. Good seeing you Waverly, let Gus know I'm thinking about her…all of us down the station are." Nedley gave her a curt nod and just as sadness was about to take hold in Waverly, Nedley went to tip the hat that he had obviously forgotten he wasn't wearing and Waverly had to stifle a laugh.

"Bye Sheriff!" Waverly replied sweetly, watching until he had walked an acceptable distance before grabbing Nicole by the front of her jacket and pulling her into her. Nicole let herself be dragged forward and then continued the motion, pinning Waverly against her car as she looked at her through hooded eyes, a smirk on her face as she moved closer trying to catch Waverly's lips. Waverly held up a finger between their lips and Nicole kissed it softly causing Waverly to giggle before she could speak. "Now…what did you promise me earlier?" Waverly dropped her finger and ghosted her lips across Nicole's, letting their hot breath mingle for a moment before Nicole surged forward and fully captured her mouth.

Their kiss grew heated and Nicole pushed Waverly further against her car, Waverly couldn't wait to get to the privacy of Nicole's bedroom any longer. She slipped her hand into Nicole's pocket, fished out her car keys and clicked the unlock button all without breaking the kiss. Nicole pulled back at the sound of her doors unlocking with a laugh.

"Someone's eager…" Nicole winked as she pulled herself away from Waverly and made her way to the driver's side door.

"You have no idea!" Waverly groaned as she shook the arousal from her mind just long enough to make it inside the car.

 

Nicole's bed was smaller than Waverly's and that did have its downfalls, but all Waverly wanted was to be as close as possible to Nicole and that was what she was getting. Almost.

Nicole was laying just to the side of her, their legs twisted together as she placed hot kiss after kiss down Waverly's neck and letting her hands wander freely across Waverly's completely bare skin. Waverly could feel Nicole holding back though, keeping too much of her own weight off of Waverly's form and she couldn't bear it any longer.

"I won't break y'know…" Waverly wrapped her arms around Nicole's back and pulled her closer, begging to feel all of Nicole pressed against her. Their centres met and both of their eyes fluttered shut for a moment as they got used to the added pressure between them.

"I know…" Nicole's lips had found their way back to Waverly's neck and she spoke between each kiss. "I just…are you sure? You're not just wanting this…to take your mind off things?" Nicole stopped kissing her and looked Waverly in the eye.

"No, I've missed you, us…this!" Waverly's hands found Nicole's hips and she pulled them into her even more. Both of their breaths coming out staggered as she did so. Nicole brought her lips down soundly onto Waverly's, rolling her hips with each curl of her tongue into Waverly's mouth. Waverly's head fell back onto the pillow behind her as Nicole paused to get some air. "Also…we haven't been together together since we've said I love you…tell me again?"

"Waverly Earp…" Nicole looked at her, seriousness taking over her face and unblinkingly told her. "I love you." Nicole said as a massive grin appeared on Waverly's face, she closed her eyes repeating Nicole's words in her mind. She repositioned her thighs tightly around Nicole and gripped her shoulders firm enough to flip their positions. Waverly looked down at Nicole with warmth and love as Nicole's hands trailed up her stomach, tickling her bare skin until she rested on exposed breasts.

"I love you too, Nicole. More than I ever thought was possible." Waverly spoke truthfully but it made her feel incredibly vulnerable at the same time, to be so honest, even with Nicole. She leaned down and kissed Nicole's lips before she could give herself reason to regret being so open while simultaneously moving her hand slowly down, in between their bodies until she reached Nicole's incredibly wet folds. She knew Nicole was just as ready for this as Waverly was, she could feel it as they were pressed up against each other but feeling it between her own fingers was another thing entirely. "So, five hours, right?"

"Well…" Nicole looked at her clock, obviously struggling with the math as Waverly's fingers teased her. "Four…and a half."

"Good." Waverly surged forward connecting her mouth with Nicole's and pushing a finger inside of her at precisely the same time.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

School was a great distraction for Waverly but now that they were on winter break Nicole could see she was struggling. Waverly still had a couple shifts every week at Shorty's which seemed to be helping keep her mind off things and Nicole tried to be there for her as much as possible but when she thought Nicole wasn't paying attention, she looked miserable. Nicole thought it was going to be difficult for her coming up to Christmas without Curtis around but when she asked Waverly about it, she said she was totally fine. Nicole knew that wasn't true and she couldn't understand why Waverly couldn't just be honest with her. She knew that Waverly was trying to be strong for Gus, but she never wanted Waverly to hide from her.

Nicole had thought about it a lot and one evening before heading round to stay the night with Waverly she asked her mom about combining their Christmases. She thought it would be good for all of them, Waverly, Wynonna and Gus to get out of the house that held so many memories of Christmas with Curtis. Nicole and her mom usually went to her grandmother's house but with being so far away and Nicole's mom only actually managing to get one day off work, it just wasn't going to happen that year. Neither of them really minded, Nicole was looking forward to spending the holidays with her girlfriend and her mom was glad she would miss out on a day of incessant questioning about her love life from her mother.

Nicole's mom thought it was a great idea, her and Gus had become friendlier, to the point where they met each other for coffee and a gossip when their schedules allowed, and her mom had even joined Nicole when she had dinner at the house a few weeks earlier with plans to do it again soon. With the hope that Waverly would also think it was a good plan, Nicole walked over to Waverly's. The snow had already fallen heavily with the forecast predicting even more overnight and Nicole had absolutely zero experience driving in such conditions.

Waverly had dragged her inside as soon as she arrived, wrapped her up in a blanket she had warmed on the radiator since Nicole let her know she was on her way and thrust a cup of hot chocolate into her hands immediately. Waverly couldn't quite get her head around the fact that Nicole didn't hate the cold quite so much as she did. Waverly led Nicole over to the couch where her and Wynonna were watching Elf, which to Nicole's surprise Wynonna really seemed to be enjoying. Waverly snuggled into Nicole's side and when Wynonna went to go make some more popcorn, Nicole decided to ask what Waverly's thoughts were on all of them coming to her house for Christmas. Waverly loved the idea and Nicole could see in her eyes just how excited she was about it.

"I was actually worried that I wouldn't get to see you on Christmas…" Waverly admitted as a shy smile appeared on her face, Nicole brushed her fingers lightly across one of Waverly's cheek as she kissed the other. She would never have not seen her but if this plan went ahead then it would just mean they got to spend the whole day together rather than just a few hours.

"I would have come here, y'know? I just thought…with everything…maybe you guys might be happier somewhere else this year." Nicole watched her words carefully, no matter what Waverly said Nicole knew that she was having a tough time and Nicole really didn't want to add to that.

"Yeah…I think Wynonna would agree with that." Waverly deflected, and Nicole furrowed her brow. Why was she so against letting Nicole know how down she was? "Gus is the person you'd need to convince really." Waverly looked away from Nicole and across to the TV, Nicole wasn't going to push her to be honest with her, but she couldn't help but feel she was doing something wrong if Waverly didn't feel alright sharing with her how she really felt.

It didn't take much for Gus to agree, as soon as Nicole said she could help her mom cook she was sold. Nicole hadn't exactly been critical of her mom's cooking in the past, but she had told Gus she much preferred having dinner with them than at her own home. That had a little to do with Waverly's presence, a little to do with Gus' skills in the kitchen and then a little to do with her mom's rotating dinners of about three recipes that she had perfected and so therefore stuck to.

 

It ended up being a wonderful day, Gus and her mom prepared a perfect meal and Nicole hoped that maybe she had picked up a thing or two from Gus in the process. They exchanged gifts and played a few board games until Wynonna and Gus headed home. Nicole's mom wasn't quite as relaxed with Waverly spending the night under her roof as Gus was about Nicole spending the night under hers but after Nicole had a word with her, explaining how she didn't think Waverly was coping very well and staying somewhere other than at home might be good for her that night, she agreed that Nicole's idea was probably for the best. Her mom was definitely getting more used to the idea of Waverly staying over and she definitely didn't mind when she would come home from night shift and Waverly was there to cook her breakfast.

Waverly changed into the pyjamas that Nicole's mom had given her as a present and crawled into bed next to Nicole. She could feel the tension in Waverly's shoulders the moment she lay down, Nicole could feel it all throughout the day but not having much alone time meant she couldn't ask what was bothering her if she had any hope of Waverly being truthful. Although she already knew, she hoped that when she did ask, Waverly wouldn't hide from her again.

"You alright, baby?" Nicole wrapped her arm around Waverly as she pressed herself firmly against Waverly's back. Nicole knew things really must have been bad if Waverly had chosen to hide her face from Nicole rather than draping herself across Nicole's front like she normally did when they slept in the same bed.

"No…" Waverly's reply came out in a whisper and then her body started to shake uncontrollably as the tears came. Nicole just held on tight as Waverly hands wrapped around her arm to keep her firmly in place. "I didn't think it would still be this hard."

"Hey, there's no timeline for getting over this…you can still be sad. I know you've been sad…" Nicole really hoped she wasn't pushing Waverly too far, there had to be a reason why she wasn't opening up to Nicole about all this, but Nicole knew she would feel better if she did. Waverly turned in her arms and stared into Nicole's eyes.

"You knew?" Waverly cast her eyes down, she looked guilty and it tore Nicole open. She had nothing to feel guilty about, even if it did hurt Nicole to feel left out in the cold, this was about Waverly and Nicole's feelings didn't matter in all of this as much as hers did.

"Of course, I knew…I don't know why you didn't want to tell me but I'm here, always. Whenever you're ready to talk about it." Nicole lifted Waverly's chin with a finger underneath, so she would look at her again, know just how much Nicole meant those words.

"You've been doing so well lately…I didn't want to bring you down with my problems." Waverly chewed nervously on her lip and brought her face closer to Nicole's, resting their foreheads together. Nicole began to understand then, she really had been doing well. She hadn't had a panic attack in nearly a month, her temper seemed more controlled than ever and her mind was dwelling on her bad memories less and less. Therapy was working but she hated that Waverly felt that way, like she couldn't handle being strong for both of them for a little while because she could. Waverly made her feel like she could do anything.

"I have been, so lean on me, if you have to…I can take it. I want to take it." Nicole watched, and she saw the moment that Waverly's walls came crumbling down. Everything starting to spill out then, almost like Waverly had been dying to let it all out and now she couldn't stop it if she tried.

Nicole's chest ached at the extent to which Waverly had been struggling, feeling like she couldn't go to Gus in case it upset her or Wynonna because she would no doubt just suggest getting drunk and Waverly hadn't felt like drinking since the night Nicole had to come and get her from that party.

Waverly told Nicole how some days she would still wake up forgetting that Curtis was gone and when the truth hit her as her night's sleep fully left her, it was like finding out all over again. She would dream about him, dreams that were so realistic she would wake up to find herself crying into her pillow. Those dreams only came on the nights that Nicole wasn't next to her, Nicole's touch an anchor to the real world.

Nicole didn't know what to say or even if Waverly wanted her to say anything, maybe she just needed to get all of it out and for Nicole to listen and so she did. Well into the night until Waverly's voice got softer and softer and the hold she had on Nicole's shirt loosened until she fell asleep. Nicole let herself sleep too, secure in the knowledge that Waverly's dreams would be pleasant enough that night.

 

Nicole was sure that Waverly was feeling better after telling her everything that she'd clearly needed to tell someone for a long time. The sadness in her eyes disappeared and they managed to enjoy the rest of their winter break doing all sorts of things that Nicole never really had a chance to do before. She hadn't grown up somewhere where more than a few inches of snow would fall over night but Purgatory sure was a sight to see after a night of heavy snowfall. Since Waverly hated the cold so much, it meant she literally had every item of winter clothing one could possibly imagine someone needing. Including an incredibly cute set of thermal underwear covered in unicorns. So, fully equipped, she was happy to show Nicole everything she'd missed out on.

They built snowmen on both hers and Waverly's front lawns, made maple snow candy even when Nicole complained about the potential hygiene issues it could bring and they even managed to get Wynonna to join them on a tubing expedition which ended in a snowball fight and Waverly practically running all the way home after Wynonna dropped snow down the back of her jacket.

Nicole stayed over every night, not wanting to leave Waverly to the mercy of her dreams even if she seemed to be doing a lot better. When school started again, and it got harder to convince her mom to let her stay the night away from home, she not only felt bad but she realised just how much better she slept when she was with Waverly too.

She thought about sneaking out a couple times, but she couldn't start lying to her mom and she knew if she ever got caught that the few times she was actually alright with Nicole spending the night with Waverly would be cut down to zero. They settled on the next best thing on the nights they couldn't sleep in each other's arms, they would call each other and talk until one of them fell asleep. Usually it was Waverly and more times than she'd ever admit, Nicole would stay on the line, listening to Waverly's soft breaths until sleep took hold of her too.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly was lying flat on her back in her bed, watching as Nicole happily drew intricate patterns on the bare skin of her stomach. They'd planned to have a study session but when they arrived and found a note from Gus saying she'd probably be out until late and that dinner was in the fridge, neither one of them wasted any time getting the other out of their clothes and into Waverly's bed.

Every now and again Nicole would hit a spot on Waverly's skin that would make her giggle and Nicole would tear her eyes away to grin up at Waverly. It was blissful, just laying together like that. Forgetting about the outside world for an unknown amount of time, totally content just being in Nicole's company, not having to worry about some form of entertainment. Just being and appreciating the way Nicole constantly looked at her like no one else ever had, maybe like no one else ever would.

"Do you think we could live together at university? Like get an apartment off campus or something?" Waverly mused, she tucked a stray hair behind Nicole's ear as she continued with her light touches on Waverly's skin.

"I think they like you to live on campus for the first year…" Nicole leaned forward and pressed her lips so gently to Waverly's naval that had she not been watching Nicole's every movement, she may not have even noticed.

"Yeah…but would we have to? I don't want a roommate if it means you can't stay over all the time." Waverly had got so used to sharing a bed with Nicole, on the nights when they didn't her dreams were no longer as painful as they had been, but it just wasn't the same as having Nicole there. She slept more peacefully around her and when she woke, having someone to kiss her good morning was pretty damn good too.

"We might not even get into the same school…"

"Don't say that!" Waverly huffed and threw her head back onto her pillow. Waverly sometimes really disliked how Nicole's sensible nature could detract from Waverly's idealistic one.

"I'm just being realistic…" Nicole moved herself up the bed, so she was level with her, but Waverly couldn't meet her eyes even though she could feel them boring into her. Her resolve crumbled when Nicole's fingers trailed all the way from her stomach, past her breasts and up to her chin.

"Can't we just be optimistic?" Waverly groaned, she didn't want to even entertain the possibility that they wouldn't end up at the same school. Nicole laughed and leaned forward to kiss Waverly's cheek, at the last second Waverly turned her head so their lips connected instead. She brought her hands up and into Nicole's hair, pulling her down to deepen the kiss.

"Fine." Nicole smiled as their lips parted. "I would love to live with you!"

"Really?" Waverly sat herself up and looked down at Nicole, not quite believing her ears even though she had hoped that would have been the answer. Nicole just shook her head with a laugh and pulled Waverly back down for another short kiss.

"Of course, I would. We will need to set some sort of ground rules though!" Nicole said seriously although there was a teasing lilt in her voice that Waverly didn't quite understand.

"Why?" Waverly asked, not following Nicole's train of thought at all. What sort of rules would they need if they lived together? Surely that was the point of moving on from living at home, the lack of rules.

"Because we will literally get zero work done if we live together!" Nicole wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and Waverly finally understood. She giggled as Nicole continued to shift her brow up and down, staring devilishly at Waverly's naked form. That might be the case but for now she didn't care, she grabbed Nicole and kissed her hard. Hoping to god that they had enough time for another round before Gus or Wynonna came home. She hadn't been wrong in thinking that it would only get better after they had told each other 'I love you', in fact by this point she wasn't even sure that they could classify their first forays into discovering each other as anything more than pretty good compared to how amazing it had been since.

Sadly, Waverly's hopes were dashed when she heard the front door open and footsteps coming up the stairs. She could hear Gus calling her name and she leapt from the bed, scrambling for something, anything that both of them could put on before she got there. Waverly threw Nicole's t-shirt at her, it hit her in the face and she was pulled out of her own panic. She tried to put it on as quickly as possible as Waverly finally found her own top, but it was too late. Gus opened the door, took in the scene before her before promptly closing it again and if the sound of her boots on the stairs was anything to go by, practically ran down them at full pelt.

"Shit." Waverly whimpered as she ran her palms down her crimson face before throwing herself, face down, onto the bed next to Nicole. Nicole took her hand and squeezed it tight.

There wasn't any getting around what had just happened. Gus would not just pretend she hadn't seen what she had seen for long, she probably just didn't want to have that conversation with the two of them practically naked.

Gus hadn't actively asked if her and Nicole were sleeping together sleeping together but Waverly had basically inferred that they hadn't reached that point yet. It was a plain faced lie, but Waverly was really not ready to deal with whatever conversation that would start with Gus. "I have to go apologise…I can't believe she found out like this."

"What?" Nicole voice was panicked and when Waverly looked up at her, her eyes were wide, and she started pulling her top down from where it had bunched around her stomach as she tried to get it on in a hurry. "Did she not know that we were…"

"Not exactly…" Waverly admitted and hid her face in the covers of her bed. She knew this might come and bite her in the ass one day but when Nicole had asked if Gus really was ok with Nicole staying over all the time, considering what they were getting up to, Waverly didn't want to give her any reason to stay away or hold back. Or really, if Waverly was being totally honest with herself, give Nicole any reason to convince her to tell Gus the truth.

"You said she was fine with it!" Nicole gently pushed Waverly over on the bed, so she was looking up at her and Waverly's blush only grew. "Obviously walking in on us is another thing entirely but come on, Waverly…"

"I'm sorry." Waverly covered her face with her hands, she should have just been honest with Gus from the start or at least honest with Nicole.

"Well we should at least apologise together, ok? I don't want her hating me." Nicole pushed herself off the bed and gathered up her clothes, not really looking at Waverly. Waverly followed suite and after they got presentable, together they walked down to face Gus. Well rather, Nicole walked purposefully down the stairs and Waverly lingered at least one step behind her, dreading every second of what was about to happen. How was Nicole not freaking out about it?

Gus was sitting at the kitchen table when they found her, staring down into a cup and when she looked up at them Waverly could have sworn Gus looked just as nervous as she did. They'd never really ever had 'the talk', they didn't really have to since Waverly was literally a walking encyclopedia but in that moment Waverly suddenly realised that maybe Gus hadn't ever actually been ready to give that talk herself. Nicole ushered Waverly forward, encouraging her with a nod.

"Sorry, Gus…" Waverly cringed, picking at the wooden back of one of the chairs round the table.

"Yeah, sorry." Nicole said from behind her, voice even and strong. Waverly seriously couldn't wrap her head around how Nicole was so calm about it.

"No, it's fine...I guess." Gus dropped her eyes back to the mug and a small smile appeared on her face. "Not like either of you is going to wind up pregnant."

"Gus!!" Waverly gaped, she wasn't sure what surprised her more. That those words had just left Gus' mouth or that she seemed way more ok with the whole situation she had walked in on than Waverly had first thought.

"You're both technically adults…I should have probably seen this coming." Gus sighed and picked up her cup from the table. She walked towards Waverly, who was trying desperately not to wrinkle her nose at Gus' word choice and kissed the side of her head before patting Nicole on the shoulder lightly. "Just hang a sock or something on the door next time, ok?" With that Gus disappeared into the living room, leaving a mortified Waverly staring off into space. She would absolutely not be announcing to the household when her and Nicole were otherwise occupied.

"I should be heading home." Nicole glanced at her phone and pushed it back into her jeans pocket. Waverly pouted but when Nicole didn't have her usual reaction to that particular facial expression, Waverly got worried.

"Are you mad at me?" Waverly reached forward to grab onto Nicole's wrist, she was hesitant to actually get an answer, but she couldn't let Nicole leave without hearing it.

"I'm not mad…I'm just…" Nicole shifted her hand, so it was fully in Waverly's grasp and Waverly breathed a little easier, but Nicole was clearly searching for the right words to explain what exactly she was feeling. "I had to have the single most awkward conversation of my life with my mom and you…just didn't do it, when you said that you would."

"I know…" Waverly hung her head low as her cheeks heated up and she was sure she looked just as red in the face as when Gus had opened the door to her room. "I chickened out and I'm really sorry but…she knows now?" Waverly met Nicole's eyes and grimaced as the words left her mouth. Nicole let out a small laugh and pulled Waverly towards her, wrapping her arms around Waverly's waist before pressing a soft kiss to her forehead.

"Well I guess that's something. Let's just hope she doesn't object to my staying over so often now…" Nicole pushed Waverly back and gripped her shoulders as she looked into Waverly's eyes. "I do have to go though; my mom needs my help with something." Nicole dropped one hand from Waverly's shoulder and pulled her phone back out of her pocket. She unlocked the screen and showed a string of messages and a few pictures from Susan freaking out about what she should wear.

"She's got a date?!" Waverly asked excitedly, bouncing in place as a massive grin appeared on her face.

"She's got a date!" Nicole beamed, cupping Waverly's cheek. "So, I better get home before she decides she's not going to go because she thinks she has nothing to wear!" Nicole chuckled and leaned forward as Waverly did the same, securing their lips in a gentle goodbye kiss.

After Nicole left, Waverly felt like she should really talk to Gus, but she simply couldn't bring herself to do it. She'd basically got herself out of ever having to have that conversation, even if she did still have to live with the embarrassment of Gus seeing not only her with just a t-shirt gripped tightly against her to cover herself up but also Nicole with her top just barely covering her chest. Instead of being brave and just doing it, she decided to hole up in her room and get the work done that her and Nicole had originally planned on completing before other things took precedence.

One person she knew she could actually talk to about all of this was Wynonna so when she heard her come in and head to her room, Waverly followed soon after. Wynonna was nodding her head along to whatever was playing through her earphones, not noticing that Waverly had entered until she turned around and brought her hand up to her chest in fright.

"Jesus, Wave!" Wynonna growled, ripping out the earphones and throwing them and her phone onto her bed.

"Sorry…can I talk to you?" Waverly smiled, hoping that scaring her sister half to death wasn't going to lead to Wynonna wanting her out of her space. Wynonna rolled her eyes and plopped herself down on her bed, patting the space next to her for Waverly to sit.

She sat and explained everything that had happened, from Waverly basically lying to both Gus and Nicole to Gus walking in on them pretty much naked. Wynonna looked like she was trying her hardest not to laugh but Waverly did catch her snickering a couple times as she spoke. She didn't let Wynonna get a word in until she done, she didn't want anything getting in the way of her confessional, even if Wynonna was the furthest thing from a priest that Waverly personally knew.

"Was that all you wanted to say?" Wynonna gave Waverly a knowing look, her sister had guessed correctly that Waverly hadn't just wanted to spill her guts. What she really wanted was to find out if she was the only one. It might just make Waverly feel better if she found out she wasn't.

"Did Gus ever catch you with anyone?" Waverly knew her sister was a lot stealthier than one would imagine, she managed to sneak in and out of their house who knows how many times as a teenager. The only reason Waverly knew about most of them was because Wynonna had to crawl past her window to get down from the roof and off to whatever party she was going to or boy she was meeting.

"Nah…" Wynonna shrugged and then looked to Waverly, clearly debating whether or not she should continue with what she was about to say. She took a deep breath and looked down at the floor. "Curtis did once though…" Waverly's eyes went wide and for a moment she was actually thankful that it had been Gus that had found her out in her lie.

"Shit…really?" Waverly shook her head, Curtis may have been fond of Nicole but there would have been no way he'd have reacted well to seeing what Gus had seen. Waverly might have actually been able to tell him the truth though and he would have known better than to walk into her room without knocking first.

"Yeah…he chased the poor boy out the house with a shotgun." Wynonna laughed but Waverly couldn't help but look on in horror at Wynonna's fondness for the memory.

"I never thought he'd do something like that!" Waverly couldn't believe it, she knew that Curtis was insanely protective over her and she was sure he was the same with Wynonna, when she would let him be that is but thinking of Curtis angry enough to brandish a shotgun at someone…that shocked Waverly.

"Well to be fair, it wasn't loaded! Plus, he really didn't like the guy already, said he'd stolen money from Shorty's while he worked there…" Wynonna shrugged, and Waverly tried to remember if Shorty had ever said something about that to her.

"Hmm, sounds like your type." Waverly finally found the humour in Wynonna's story. Of course, Curtis would never actually have threatened someone with a loaded gun. Waverly didn't even realise he kept a gun in the house.

"He liked Nicole." Wynonna nudged Waverly's shoulder with her own and turned to look at Waverly with a smile. Waverly's heart sank a little.

"I know." She tried to smile back at Wynonna but the best she could manage was a slight upturn of one side of her mouth. She did know that, she also knew that she really would have got around to having the conversation she had avoided with Gus, with Curtis. She knew she could speak to him about anything and he would listen, Waverly knew that any conversation with Gus led to her input of opinion and sometimes that's just not what you need. What she missed most was his comforting touch when she was nervous, like when she said she wanted to try out for cheerleading the first year of high school and told Wynonna first, she had just laughed and it filled Waverly with doubt about whether she would be able to do it. Curtis though, he had told her she could do anything she set her mind to until Waverly believed what he had said.

"Like, really liked her! He told me I should find someone like her. Someone good." Wynonna lay back on her bed and kicked her legs out in front of her. Waverly followed soon after, laying her head on Wynonna's shoulder.

"You should." Waverly wrapped her arm around Wynonna and pulled herself tighter against her. Wynonna deserved a lot more than the little flings that she occupied her time with, she deserved someone who truly cared about her.

"No one good wants me though…" Wynonna placed her hand on top of the one Waverly had clinging to her side. Waverly was shocked at how honest Wynonna was being with her, she knew her sister tended not to think too much of herself, despite the constant bravado but she had never said as much to Waverly out loud. Waverly couldn't smell a drop of alcohol on Wynonna's breath, even as close as she was to her mouth, so it obviously wasn't whiskey letting her drop her guard. Whatever it was, Waverly was glad that she felt she could talk to her like this.

"That's not true, Wynonna. You just never actually go after the nice guys that do like you…they are out there!" Waverly pushed herself up a little to look at Wynonna's face and then slumped back down next to her, satisfied that she had taken the words to heart.

"Thanks, babygirl. Now…" Wynonna playfully slapped her arm, earning an exaggerated 'ow' from Waverly. "Spare no details! What exactly did Gus catch you guys doing?"

Chapter Text

Nicole had been meaning to take Waverly on a real date for a long time, there wasn't exactly a lot to do in Purgatory but when Waverly told her she was excited to see the final installment of a trilogy she loved and the small movie theatre that Purgatory had to offer was actually showing it, Nicole realised it was the perfect time.

Nicole hadn't seen the previous two, but she didn't care in the slightest. She loved hearing Waverly explain the premise to her on the way there, all exaggerated hand gestures and sound effects. It was potentially the cutest thing that Nicole had ever seen, and she didn't even mind when Waverly caught her staring, long after she had finished speaking.

Despite Waverly's protests, she eventually let Nicole pay for her ticket and her snacks. It had been Nicole's idea to take Waverly out after all, she couldn't very well let her pay. They made it just in time for the previews to start, something that Waverly was adamant about. Nicole was glad they had when Waverly's face was lit up by the screen and she could pay attention to her reactions to the movies that would be showing soon, that way she was able to decide which ones she wanted to take Waverly to see.

Nicole barely followed the movie, she was more focused on the hand that kept trailing up and down her thigh and the occasional sly look that Waverly would throw her way. Waverly had to know exactly what she was doing to Nicole. Maybe she should have asked for seats up the back of the movie theatre.

They made their way out of the theatre, hand in hand, Waverly talking about her theories on how they could carry on the story into multiple more installments if they really wanted to and Nicole just smiling and nodding, pretending like she understood what Waverly was talking about.

As they walked out the main entrance Nicole saw Rosita walking in with a few friends, she quickly ducked her head and avoided eye contact with Nicole as she rushed past. Waverly let out a short gruff breath from her nose as her eyes landed on Rosita and her group of friends.

"What?" Nicole asked Waverly, Nicole knew Rosita seemed to have a problem with her, but she couldn't work out why she'd been so off with her at that party a few months back. She didn't know if Waverly even knew about that so her reaction to seeing her was odd to say the least.

"Nothing…I just really don't like that girl." Waverly rolled her eyes and tucked herself further into Nicole's side as they continued walking towards where she'd parked her car.

"Why? What did she do?" Nicole really hoped that whatever problem Rosita had with Nicole, she hadn't decided to take it out on Waverly.

"She was just really rude, talking shit…" Waverly trailed off and Nicole stopped walking, pulling them both to a halt. She was worried, it wasn't like Waverly to talk about someone like that so whatever Rosita had said really must have rubbed Waverly the wrong way. It could have been about Wynonna or Nicole…or maybe it had been about Nicole and Waverly. Her heart started to hammer in her chest, of course Waverly wouldn't have said anything if Rosita was being homophobic. Waverly wouldn't want Nicole to get scared.

"About who? You?" Nicole instinctively reached up to cup Waverly's cheek, as much as it scared her that someone had said something awful about her and Waverly, she still needed to make sure that Waverly wasn't going to be badly affected by it either. She'd not experienced that before, as far as Nicole knew and she never wanted her to but if she did at least Nicole could be there for her.

"Yeah…and you." Waverly said cautiously, and Nicole braced herself for the inevitable horrible words or homophobic crap. "She has some sort of crush on me and she was just saying she didn't understand why I would be with you…and not her. Oh, and like it had something to do with my family being all messed up!" Waverly rolled her eyes as if acting like it didn't bother her would make it so, but Nicole could see how much Rosita's words had hurt her. Nicole processed everything that Waverly had just said, Rosita liked Waverly? That's why she didn't like Nicole. Well…that made a lot of sense. Nicole had been wracking her brain for what she could have possibly done to upset Rosita, always coming up with nothing.

"She likes you?" Nicole bit down on the inside of her cheek, hoping she wouldn't show just how much that piece of information bothered her. She dropped her hand from Waverly's cheek and slid it into her pocket.

"Yeah…I found out a while ago she was the one who wrote that note." Waverly shrugged, and Nicole's brow furrowed. Rosita had liked Waverly for a while. "Hey, it's fine. I told her to stay away from me, she's been doing a pretty good job of it!"

"Good." Nicole spat, surprising herself with how much she really meant it. Waverly's face turned up into a smile and Nicole could not for the life of her figure out why. "What?"

"I like it when you're jealous." Waverly leaned forward, taking a loose strand of Nicole's hair and twirling it between her fingers.

"I'm not jealous." Nicole defended herself, not believing the words for a second.

"Sure…well you have no need to be, ok?" Waverly smiled, urging Nicole closer with a gentle pull on the hair she still had wrapped around her finger. She knew she didn't need to be jealous of Rosita, Waverly was clearly not a fan of hers but it was more the idea of someone else believing they were better for Waverly than Nicole was that had irked her. Nicole sighed as she moved in, almost close enough to kiss Waverly but she paused.

"Why would you like it if I was jealous?" Nicole was puzzled, she'd never imagined being possessive as an attractive quality, but the way Waverly was looking at her definitely made it seem like it was to her.

"Shows you care." Waverly shrugged, closing the gap that Nicole had kept between them, but Nicole pulled back a little further.

"Do I not show you I care in other ways?" Nicole asked, worried that she wasn't doing enough, not making Waverly understand just how much she cared about her. She was sure she was doing her best but maybe her best wasn't enough.

"Of course you do, just one of many many ways." Waverly reassured her with a smile and pulled Nicole into her, not giving her another chance to pull away. Nicole smiled into the kiss, some days she still couldn't believe that someone like Waverly was with her. She could have anyone, clearly there were other people who were interested in Waverly and Nicole was sure that Rosita was not the only one but Waverly had chosen her.

She could feel Waverly's eagerness to deepen the kiss and while Nicole's confidence had definitely come a long way, she still felt a little uneasy full on making out in the middle of the street. So, Nicole took Waverly's hand and led them towards her car. At least there they could have the illusion of privacy.

They walked along the street, holding hands and Nicole couldn't stop herself from smiling. It was all so blissfully different to how she thought her life was going to be in Purgatory. She had an amazing girlfriend, her grades were good, she'd been looking into schools with Waverly and she was hopeful about her chances of actually getting into the same one.

Waverly had even planned a campus visit for them in a few weeks, for the school that Waverly had apparently wanted to go to since she twelve years old. Nicole was going to drive them out and she had even booked a hotel for them to stay in for the night in the city.

Nicole could hardly wait, it gave her something to look forward to in the coming weeks when she knew her thoughts were going to be heavily focused on a looming date. Thoughts that she was scared to share with Waverly, even her mom, anyone other than her psychiatrist. She had avoided bringing it up, worried that it might make it seem she wasn't progressing as well as they all thought she was, but she knew she had to talk about it. If anyone would understand it would be her psychiatrist.

Her appointment started out as normal, checking in with how her anxiety levels had been that week, if she'd had anything set her off that she wanted to talk about or if she'd lost control of her temper at any point. She was doing well, she hadn't had a panic attack in the longest time she could remember since they had first started, her concentration levels were constantly improving, and her temper was definitely more in check. She was just worried that all of that might change for a while when the anniversary swung around.

"I wanted to ask you something…" Nicole fidgeted with her hands and looked at the clock on the wall. She focused on the hand ticking by each second, keeping her breathing level, just like she had practiced over and over. "It's coming up on a year since I…since I tried to kill myself and I was wondering, in your experience, is that a hard day for most people?" Nicole, admittedly didn't know all that much about her psychiatrist but she did know that she used to work at a hospital in the city and she knew she had dealt with multiple patients who had been through what Nicole had.

"It really depends, person to person. Some people shut down a little, it can be a lot of emotions to process sometimes…especially the first time." She kept her voice calm and soothing, just like she always did when talking about something Nicole was visibly a bit uncomfortable with. Nicole moved her eyes from the clock and focused on the pen moving slowly between her doctor's fingers. "I know some people who use it as a celebration of survival and recovery, some people don't even pay attention to it as a significant date at all and just carry on as if it were any other day."

"Celebration of survival sounds nice." Nicole nodded, she was definitely happy about her survival and that she felt her recovery was truly happening. She thought she had been recovering before, but she knew now that all she had been doing was pushing it down, not thinking about it but not actually dealing with it either.

"Well that's something you could do, if you felt like it." Dr Kinnaird wrote something down on her notepad. Nicole tried to not think about what it was, she had been trying harder not to think about what she wrote down in their sessions, her doctor's suggestion, but it was a lot more difficult that she thought it would be.

"I am worried that I might be a bit fragile on that day though." When Nicole thought about it, she thought about locking herself in her room and wallowing all day, but she wasn't sure that would actually do her any good. She just didn't want to snap at anyone at school, they would have no way of knowing why she would be having a rough day.

"It's ok if you are." Her doctor comforted her, and Nicole nodded, trying to make herself believe that it really was ok not to be ok on that day.

"Should I tell Waverly? That the date is coming up? She should know in case I shut down or lose my cool, right?" Nicole had plenty more questions bursting to come out now that she had opened herself up to talking about it but those were the most pressing issues for Nicole. She didn't want Waverly to coddle her just because the date was coming up, that might make Nicole feel worse, but she really did not want to hurt Waverly by pushing her away or saying something hurtful either.

"That's entirely up to you, she has been very supportive of you." She smiled, they had talked a lot about Waverly in their sessions. About how much her presence in Nicole's life had changed so many things for her, how Waverly had been the one to encourage Nicole to seek help and how Nicole honestly didn't think she would be doing half as well as she was if she didn't have Waverly in her life, as a girlfriend or otherwise.

"I'm just worried that if I put a date on it, it makes it more real, I guess." Nicole shrugged, and her knee was begging to bounce up and down nervously, but she stilled it. She and Waverly had not talked much about it since, Nicole wasn't sure if it was because Waverly didn't want to upset Nicole or if Waverly didn't want to upset herself by talking about it. Nicole knew it had pained Waverly to hear about Nicole going through such a dark time, even though there was nothing that Waverly could have done to prevent it.

"Maybe you could see how she reacts when you tell her it's coming up and then if you want to, you can tell her the exact date, so she knows you might be a little more sensitive around that day." Dr Kinnaird offered and Nicole liked the sound of that.

"Yeah…ok." Nicole could do that, she was sure that Waverly would be able to handle the information and she didn't really want anyone else to comfort her if the day proved to be too much. She knew her mom was already starting to pay slightly closer attention than normal to Nicole's reactions to things. Nicole knew she was doing out of love but in reality, it was simply acting as a reminder, she would have to tell her that. In the kindest way possible.

Her doctor seemed satisfied that her advice had been taken in by Nicole, she uncrossed her legs and leaned forward in her chair ready to start a new topic of discussion.

"So how are you feeling about moving on from high school?"

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"You know you can go a little faster." Waverly sighed as she looked out the window of Nicole's car, yet another car passing them by. Nicole was under strict instructions from Gus to stay under the speed limit, which was how they found themselves getting honked at on the highway for the fifth time.

"I'm sticking to the promise I made to Gus!" Nicole took her eyes off the road for just a second, giving Waverly a quick smile before refocusing on her task of getting them to the campus visit.

"I'm not going to tell her!" Waverly groaned, it was a long enough drive without Nicole going slower than she actually needed to go. She just wanted to be there already, to show Nicole around all the places that made her want to study there.

"She'll know!" Nicole laughed, and Waverly shook her head as she joined in. Nicole was probably right, Gus had probably convinced Nicole's mom to install a blackbox or something in the car without Nicole's knowledge.

"I really hope you like it, I came to visit with Curtis last year." Waverly remembered the trip well, Curtis had drilled into her how important it was that she study hard in her last year of school and get into a good university. He knew she could do it, he told her all the time and she wished he could be around to actually see it happen. Nicole took one hand off the wheel and found Waverly's, squeezing it gently just like she always did when Waverly brought up Curtis. To let her know that she was there, she knew it was hard, but she had her and she wouldn't let go.

"They do the criminology course I'm interested in and you love it so I'm sure I will too!" Nicole looked at her again quickly, smiling softly and clearly checking that Waverly was alright after thinking about her uncle. Waverly squeezed her hand back to let her know she was fine. She knew that Nicole understood just how grateful she was for always being there for her when she talked about Curtis, but she wasn't sure that Nicole knew just how much easier it had been with Nicole by her side, Waverly wasn't sure she would ever be able to thank Nicole enough for everything she had done.

It took them another hour before they pulled up to the hotel and got themselves checked in. It was a short walk to the campus and they stopped to grab some lunch on the way. It was so different to Purgatory, with big coffee shop chains on almost every street they walked down, more cars passing them during the short walk than Waverly might see all day in the small town and so many interesting looking people that she would never see at home.

"You would be ok living somewhere this busy?" Waverly turned to face Nicole a little as they walked down the street. She hadn't really thought about how Nicole might not be able to handle such a noisy and over stimulating setting like the one they were in. Sometimes she needed to force herself to remember that not everything Waverly was comfortable with, Nicole was too.

"I think so, yeah. It's a lot, sure but it's also kind of comforting. Everyone's so busy with their own fast paced life that no one really pays attention to you." Nicole pulled on Waverly's hand until she came to a stop, Waverly looked at her confused until Nicole ran a finger down her cheek and pulled her in for a searing kiss. Waverly lost herself in it, not even noticing straight away when Nicole pulled back. "See? Not a single person just turned to look at us!" Nicole laughed, nudging her nose against Waverly's before she started walking again. Waverly had no idea if anyone had looked at them or not, she was far too busy focusing on the way Nicole's lips moved against hers and how she couldn't wait to get back to the hotel later that day.

As they got closer to the campus, Waverly started to recognize places that she and Curtis saw on their visit. The bookstore that she had begged Curtis to go into and promised him that she wouldn't spend too much money even though she ended up doing so anyway. It was there that she ended up seeing the collection of books he had bought her for graduation, he must have gone back at some point to pick them up because she was sure the owner of the store had said something about them being rare and she was sure she'd never seen anything like them in the singular, less than impressive bookstore in Purgatory.

She didn't like to think about how much money Curtis had spent on them, not when he hadn't even been able to know just how much she appreciated the gift. If only she had found them in the attic sooner, he would have been mad that she'd opened it before she was supposed to, but she was sure that he wouldn't be able to stay angry for long once he knew just how much Waverly adored them.

When they made it onto the campus, it was just how Waverly remembered it but this time it was in the middle of the semester and even though it was the weekend, there were still plenty of students about. When Waverly and Curtis had visited it was during the summer, the campus was just as charming but seeing it full of life only confirmed how much Waverly wanted to go there. Waverly took Nicole to a few spots that she had found when she was there before and got the reactions she was hoping for out of her. She was sure that Nicole was just as excited as Waverly was at the prospect of being able to attend school there.

They found their tour group after some exploring of their own and were taken through lots of buildings that Waverly didn't have access to the last time. When they passed by a notice board and were encouraged to look at all the student groups and the activities they could potentially get involved in, Waverly was so happy when Nicole asked whether there were any LGBT groups on campus. It turned out that the student giving the tour was actually a member and he spoke confidently for a while about what the group got up to. From organizing casual meet ups, talks and seminars from LGBT activists to providing a safe space for people who needed it. Nicole looked enthralled as she listened, and Waverly couldn't get over how easily she had asked about it in such a big group of people.

The tour finished with the library, another building that Waverly didn't manage to get into before. It was gorgeous, Waverly could already picture herself spending hours in there. They had to be quiet as they walked around so as to not disturb the people studying but Waverly gripped Nicole's arm excitedly and leaned in to tell her how she couldn't wait to be one of them. Nicole kissed her cheek quickly and wrapped her arm around Waverly's shoulder as they walked the rest of the way through the library.

Waverly was so happy that she had found someone who appreciated her interest in education, so many people in Purgatory couldn't care less if they knew less than what they had the day before as long as they were happy, but Waverly had always been happiest when she was learning. Usually it didn't even matter what it was, if it interested her in any way she wanted to know more about it. The day Curtis brought home a computer was one of the best days of her life, he had to physically remove her and put her to bed after she spent hours going through Wikipedia, reading page after page on everything she could think to look up.

With the tour finished and an information pack each, they started slowly walking back to hotel through the campus, taking it all in once more before hopefully they'd return as actual students. Waverly was sure she had heard someone say 'Nicole' from behind them as they walked, it was a common enough name but by the way Nicole stiffened beside her Waverly knew that whoever it was, was definitely speaking to her Nicole.

Nicole had stopped walking, but she hadn't turned around. Waverly looked to Nicole, her eyes were wide and the grip on her hand was tightening. Concerned, Waverly turned around and saw a girl about their age a few feet behind them, chewing her lip and nervously wringing her hands.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nearly a year without hearing her voice and yet the pain Nicole felt wasn't any less intense. Of course, she would be there, of course she was thinking of attending the same school that Nicole and Waverly were, of course she just had to ruin something that could have been perfect. Of course, she had to see her when for the first time in weeks she hadn't thought once about what day was coming up in less than a week.

She should have just kept walking, pretended like she hadn't even heard her name so she would think that Nicole wasn't who she thought she was but her whole body froze, and Waverly had already turned around. She knew it was Nicole.

Nicole turned around slowly, keeping a solid grip on Waverly's hand and saw the face of the girl she was sure she had been in love with. She knew better now though, she loved Waverly and whatever they'd had was nothing compared to her and Waverly, but still. Seeing her brought back every painful memory. She hadn't said her name since that night, had barely dared to think it and as Nicole spoke, it came out unfamiliar, as if she had never uttered it before in her life.

"Alex." Nicole squared her shoulders, in a feeble attempt to hide how badly she felt she was shaking.

"I thought it was you…" Alex took a step forward and then stopped. She looked down at her hands, she looked ashamed and she should have been. "I heard what happened…I'm so sorry." She took another step forward and Nicole held out her hand to stop her getting any closer. Waverly was silent beside her, part of Nicole wanted her to step in, to force her away but she had probably already guessed who this person was from Nicole's reaction. Waverly would have had no idea how to deal with it. Nicole didn't even really know how to deal with it.

"It's a bit late for an apology, Alex." Again, the name felt so foreign. As if Nicole didn't used to say it almost every single day for months.

Nicole couldn't help but feel any apology from her was self-serving, if she knew what Nicole had done to herself then she probably felt guilty. Nicole thought she should feel guilty, why should she have to accept an apology from someone who cared more about how they were seen by their friends than how badly Nicole was treated.

"You have no idea how much I hate myself for what I did to you. What I did to us…" Alex tried to take another step forward, but Nicole lifted her hand again and laughed. It wasn't funny, but her brain had no other way of processing that information. Us?

"There was never really an us was there? If you cared about me at all…" Nicole couldn't continue, she didn't want to continue. She turned around and kept her hand in Waverly's as they walked away. She was holding on so tight she was surprised Waverly didn't pry her hand out of Nicole's grip, instead she placed her other hand over them and rubbed soothing circles over into the back of Nicole's hand.

"Please Nicole, I want to talk to you…I never thought I'd see you again. Just let me explain, please!" Alex raised her voice as they got further away, Nicole wanted to keep walking, but Waverly stopped and looked up at her. Nicole was confused, did she think that Nicole should actually hear what she had to say? Surely, she had put together who Alex was and why Nicole would never want to speak to her ever again.

"Maybe you should just hear her apology…" Waverly said but Nicole could see that she was merely suggesting, if Nicole were to continue walking Waverly would take that for what it was.

Maybe Waverly could see how much Nicole needed that apology, how much Nicole wished that it might actually make a difference, hoped that it might help her move on from what had happened. Nicole sighed and turned herself around, Waverly gently let go of her hand and took a couple steps back to give them some space.

"I'll be right here if you need me." Nicole watched her for a moment and then turned back to Alex, just standing there silently.

"So, talk?" Nicole said and then bit her lip, part of her really did need to hear what she had to say but another part of her wasn't sure she was actually ready to hear it.

"I'm sorry…again. I don't think I'll ever be able to say it enough, but you have no idea how scared I was. My dad is…well he's gone now, he moved to the States with his new girlfriend but that's not the point…" Alex shook her head and Nicole realised she had forgotten just how similar her and Waverly actually were, the good parts anyway. Alex was smart, confident or at least Nicole had thought she was, she always seemed so sure of herself. She liked to ramble too, when she was nervous or angry or just really passionate about something, she could talk for hours and at one point, Nicole really liked that about her. She didn't like it so much when all that talking ended up putting Nicole through hell. "My dad would have killed me, I don't even think I'm exaggerating when I say that. You remember what he was like…he was so angry when he heard the rumours and I panicked. It's no excuse for what I said, I should have just denied it completely, not make you out to be some…"

"Some predator?" Nicole gave her the word, it might not have been the word she was looking for, but it was exactly how everyone had made Nicole feel.

"Yeah…" Alex looked away and closed her eyes, she took a deep breath and Nicole wondered if this was as hard for her as it was for Nicole. "I thought you were strong, I thought you could handle what people would say to you, I know I couldn't, but I swear I never thought people would hurt you like that!" Nicole winced as the memories came unbidden, every time she'd been hit or tripped up. Every time someone had called her a horrible name and every time Nicole had started to believe that they were right.

It felt like it was happening again but this time all at once. Maybe Alex was telling the truth, maybe she really thought that people wouldn't have stuck up for her the way that they did or at least thought that they were. Alex made it seem like she was the one that needed protection, not the other way around. Nicole wasn't sure that it mattered either way, she could have changed her story, she could have got them to stop tormenting her. There was so many things that she could have done.

"When did you find out?" Nicole wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer to that question, she didn't need to elaborate on what she meant by the look on Alex's face but if Alex knew, then so did everyone else back home. Not that it mattered now, Nicole was never going back there but knowing that they might all feel some remorse, she thought that might actually help. Unless they thought she had done it because Alex had been telling the truth, that she really was an awful person and Nicole had finally accepted that.

"A few weeks after you moved away…I felt so ashamed of myself…but I…I've been seeing a therapist…"

"Yeah, me too." Nicole shrugged even though she felt like spitting the words. Why would she think that Nicole even cared?

"That's good…mine is helping me accept who I am…my mom is too." Alex smiled at Nicole, just like she used to when they were both pretending they didn't like each other as anything more than friends. Nicole's eyes burned at that revelation, that she might be out now, that everything Nicole went through was for absolutely nothing.

"I shouldn't even have to be in therapy! The only reason…" Nicole stopped herself, she could feel the anger boiling up inside of her and she didn't want to get even more upset. Her hands were balled into fists at her sides, clenching harder with each laboured breath. She could feel the tears running down her face and each one stung as if it were tinged with acid. Before she could get any worse, Waverly was behind her with a tender hand on her back and one on her chest.

"It's ok, baby. I'm here." Waverly's voice was gentle in her ear and she turned to give Waverly a gentle smile before looking back at Alex. She was watching them closely as Waverly's hands touched Nicole where she used to touch her. She looked away quickly when she noticed Nicole watching her.

"Bye, Alex." Nicole took Waverly's hand from her chest and held it tight, this time Waverly went with her easily not once looking behind them.

"I'm sorry I suggested that, it was stupid. I just thought it might help you…" Waverly laid her head on Nicole's shoulder as they walked, her voice so quiet that Nicole knew Waverly felt like it was her fault Nicole was so worked up.

"It's fine, Waves. Honestly, I think you were right." Nicole let go of Waverly's hand and wrapped an arm around her shoulders instead, pulling her as close as she could while they walked. "I didn't think I'd ever be able to handle seeing her again but now I have and I'm ok."

"You don't look ok…" Waverly looked up at her as Nicole smiled down, wiping away the last of the tears from her face. Nicole didn't know that she'd ever be able to forgive what Alex did but what Nicole had said to Waverly all those months ago still rang true. If none of that had happened, Nicole never would have met Waverly and in that moment when all Nicole needed to feel ok again was Waverly's hand on her back she knew she wouldn't change a second of it.

"I will be, I promise." Nicole rubbed Waverly's shoulder, she had been putting it off but now Nicole knew she had to tell Waverly about what date was coming up. She needed Waverly to know.

As they walked back towards the hotel they both looked out for somewhere they could go and forget about the unfortunate encounter. Her mom had given her some extra spending money, so she could take Waverly out somewhere really nice for dinner. They could have a nice meal and once they were back at the hotel, Nicole would tell her.

Out of the two of them, Waverly was definitely fussier when it came to picking somewhere to eat but she always made good choices so Nicole let her decide. She thought a little Italian place looked good, it was small and intimate and luckily, they were able to be seated without a reservation. The owners were a sweet older couple who ran the place with their daughter, information that Waverly somehow managed to gain in the space of a few minutes while their drinks order was being taken. When they asked for the bill, Waverly told the wife that they had been there visiting the campus and that hopefully they would be seeing more of them again after the summer.

Nicole couldn't help but think about the fact that over the past week, doubts had started to creep in. Her grades were good, but they weren't Waverly good. She didn't have glowing letters of recommendation from half the town like Waverly did or the involvement in a whole bunch of clubs throughout high school. Waverly was just so happy whenever she talked about the two of them sharing the adventure of moving somewhere new together, she couldn't bear to bring it up again after seeing Waverly's face fall the one time she mentioned them potentially not getting into the same school. They didn't have all that long before letters would be arriving, whether they were acceptance or rejections letters though, Nicole would just have to wait and see.

By the time they made it back to the hotel, Nicole had readied herself to tell Waverly. She knew it was the right thing to do, for herself and for Waverly just in case Nicole did anything to cause concern. Especially after seeing Alex. She knew that was going to play on her mind over the next few days even if she had managed to distract herself from really thinking about her for the time being.

"Waves, can I speak to you about something?" Nicole sat down on the end of the bed in their hotel room, her hands fidgeting nervously in her lap.

"Of course…" Waverly looked at her, something Nicole was sure was concern on her face and Nicole tried to hold a less tense posture but it didn't exactly work. She didn't want Waverly to worry that she was about to tell her something inherently bad, in fact really it was a good thing that Nicole felt comfortable enough with Waverly to tell her.

"I know we haven't talked about it much, but I wanted you to know that it's coming up on a year since I…" Nicole took a deep breath and Waverly was at her side in an instant. A hand on her thigh and the other gripping Nicole's clasped hands. "I spoke to my doctor 'cause I was thinking I might be a little off that day. I just don't want you to think that you've done anything if I am, y'know?"

"Yeah..." Waverly gently ran her thumb along Nicole's wrist and she let it calm her. "Do you mind if I ask when?"

"Wednesday…"

"Are you gonna come to school?" Waverly lifted her hand from Nicole's thigh and ran a finger delicately down her cheek as Nicole shook her head. She'd thought a lot about it, as much as she didn't want to wallow she really wasn't sure she would be able to handle it and her mom had already spoken to the school. "I could take the day off too, if you like? We could spend the day together?"

"You'd do that for me?" Nicole locked eyes with Waverly and not for the first time, was simply overcome with how much she loved her.

"Of course, I would." Waverly smiled softly, taking a firm hold on Nicole's cheek as she leaned forward to press their lips together.

 

Wednesday came and Nicole woke up with Waverly in her bed, tucked into her side just how they had fallen asleep together the night before and while she had been worried that she might have woken up with a horrible feeling in her stomach despite having her there, all Nicole felt was loved.

She was still worried that they might not end up at the same school and there was always that tiny voice in the back of her head telling her that one of these days Waverly was going to realise that Nicole wasn't worthy of her love but today she wouldn't listen to any of her worries or her fears. She was going to hold onto the girl she loved, she was going to forget that there was ever a time she wasn't as happy as she was now, and she was going to act like today was just a normal day. A normal day where she had Waverly all to herself.

Chapter Text

Waverly was rudely awakened by Gus throwing open her door, sitting down on her bed and thrusting two hefty envelopes into her hands with glee. Waverly knew instantly what they were, there was no way rejection letters would carry such weight.

As soon as she saw the stamp from her school of choice on one of them, she tore through the paper and read the words she felt like she'd been waiting her whole life to read. She'd almost forgotten that today had been noted as the most likely day she'd receive her acceptance letter and she silently thanked herself that she'd encouraged Nicole to spend the night at home. Gus bursting in on them in bed was not something that Waverly ever wanted to come close to again.

After Gus had congratulated her, hugged her far too tight and left her to read over the information in her letter from her first choice, she confirmed that her backup had also offered her a place.

Waverly went over the route in her head that the mailman took, Nicole would have received her letters before Waverly so why hadn't she called yet? Waverly grabbed her phone from her bedside table and called Nicole. Usually she answered after the first couple of rings, but it was taking her a lot longer to pick up than normal. Waverly instantly took that as a bad sign, if she had got in surely Nicole would be dying to speak to Waverly.

"Hey…" Nicole sounded sad, really sad. Waverly closed her eyes as her heart sank, Nicole's voice told her everything.

"Hey…my acceptance letters came."

"Yeah, I figured…" Nicole sniffed, and Waverly felt her chest constrict, she had been so sure that Nicole was going to get accepted. She had got her hopes up and now they were all crashing down around her.

"You didn't get in, did you?" Waverly could feel the tears burning behind her eyes, but she forced them to stay put. It was going to be fine.

"No…my backup school wants me though." Nicole sighed, and Waverly's chest loosened just a little. It wasn't exactly what she had planned but it could still work, they could still be together.

"I got in there too…"

"Waverly," Nicole interrupted but Waverly carried on talking, pretending she didn't hear the stern tone in Nicole's voice.

"So, we can go there together..."

"Waverly," Again, she pretended not to hear Nicole's protests.

"It's not the exact course I thought I wanted to do but I'm sure I'll love it just the same."

"Waverly!" Nicole had clearly had enough of being ignored and her raised voice made Waverly's words stop. Nicole continued in a softer tone. "You're not changing your plans for me."

"But-"

"No, Waverly. We knew this was a possibility, you can't give up on the school you've always wanted to go to just because I didn't get in." Nicole sighed down the phone and Waverly's ability to hold back her tears was gone. She didn't really believe it was a possibility, she didn't want to be anywhere that Nicole wasn't. It wasn't fair, she had thought about what it would be like to be there together far too much. "It's ok, Waves. It's not too far away from each other and I've got my car. It's going to be easy." Nicole didn't sound like she even believed what she was saying, she was obviously trying to make herself and Waverly feel better, but it wasn't helping Waverly in the slightest.

"I don't want to go if you're not going." Waverly felt like a child as the words came out of her mouth, she knew she sounded like one, but she didn't care.

"Waves…I know you want to go and that's ok." Nicole was trying her best to make Waverly feel like it was fine if she still wanted to go but it wasn't fine. How could Waverly not feel guilty about leaving Nicole when they had been accepted to at least one school together.

"I'll miss you too much, Nicole." Waverly hadn't even left yet, they hadn't even graduated but she felt as if Nicole was already too far away. She knew she wouldn't be able to handle it if that became a reality.

"Can I come over? We can talk about it. My mom's annoying me with questions about the classes I want to take so I need to get out of the house anyway." Waverly knew that Nicole was probably lying, coming up with an excuse to come over and convince Waverly to just go but Waverly wanted to see her, hold her, make her understand why she couldn't just leave her.

"Yeah, please."

They talked for what felt like hours and eventually Nicole managed to convince Waverly that she needed to stick to her plan regardless of what Nicole was doing. The guilt was physically paining Waverly, but Nicole held her and promised that she understood why Waverly wanted to go, even if she couldn't admit to herself that she still did.

Nicole assured her over and over that whatever distance was between them would change things a little, but it didn't necessarily have to be a bad change. Missing each other and then seeing each other again, it could feel amazing, but Waverly wasn't sure she could actually handle the missing Nicole part. They hadn't spent so much as a few days apart since they first became friends, spending that much time apart now that they were more than that seemed unimaginable.

 

In the weeks leading up to graduation, Waverly knew she was being extra clingy to Nicole. The idea that in a few short months she wouldn't be able to just pop over and see her or spend the night cuddled into her girlfriend, haunted her. Nicole made it clear that she thought Waverly had made the right choice by sticking with her plan but there wasn't a day that passed that Waverly didn't think about changing her mind.

By the time graduation actually came around, Waverly was dealing with things a little better. Her and Nicole had started mapping out when exactly they would visit each other. It was Nicole's idea to solidify their plans and Waverly thanked her for making it easier on her. If they had a plan, Waverly could focus on it.

They got pictures together after their ceremony, with Gus, Wynonna and Susan all taking turns posing with them, but Waverly couldn't help but miss the one person not there with them. Nicole noticed the sadness, she always noticed, and she tucked Waverly into her side when her mom had finished with the photos and held her tight.

"He would have been proud of you, baby." Nicole kissed the side of Waverly's head and she leaned into the comforting touch.

"I wish he was here." Waverly closed her eyes, she could almost picture Curtis there with them. Smiling and maybe even crying. He should have been there. Nicole just held her, she could feel people moving around them, but she kept her eyes closed and focused on Nicole's arms around her and the gentle words she was speaking into her ear. Telling her how proud she was of her, of making it through the end of the school year without him.

"I got you something…" Nicole whispered in her ear after Waverly had calmed down, she opened her eyes and pulled back from Nicole. She hadn't thought to get her a graduation present, they hadn't even talked about it. "Since you found Curtis' before, I thought you might like to open something today." Nicole tugged her hand gently and led her through the crowd to her car, she opened her boot and handed a gift bag to Waverly. It felt heavy and when Waverly looked inside she couldn't believe it. Nicole had given her a camera, a really nice, presumably really expensive camera.

"Nicole, how much did you spend on this?" Waverly looked at her with wide eyes, there was no way that she had spent anything less than a couple hundred dollars on it. Nicole just shrugged with a smile.

"I had some money saved from my birthday, I was saving it for something special and I think you definitely qualify." Nicole leaned her forehead against Waverly's and rubbed their noses tenderly against one another.

"I didn't get you anything." Waverly said barely above a whisper, she should have known that Nicole would have got her something, she would never have guessed it would be something quite so extravagant though.

"I didn't expect you to, I just wanted to get you something and this way, you can take loads of pictures when we are apart and then you can show me all the cool things you've been up to!" Nicole smiled, and Waverly tried to return it but remembered all over again just how badly she knew she was going to miss Nicole. They had all summer though and Waverly didn't want to waste it being sad.

"I can almost guarantee right now that Waves here, will end up showing you a million pictures of super cute dogs she meets on the street!" Wynonna came up behind them and leaned against Nicole's car with a smirk. She hadn't bothered to dress up for their graduation like everyone else did but Waverly thought it would have been weird if she actually had. Wynonna's signature look was not something Waverly ever got tired of, it was comforting in a way that no matter how long Wynonna went away for, she was always the same person when she came back. Leather jacket and tight jeans, included.

"Hey! I filled one roll of film with dogs…" Waverly defended herself with a blush, she had just been so excited when Curtis let her borrow his camera one afternoon when she was younger and didn't realise that there was a finite number of pictures you could take on a roll of film.

"It was one dog, babygirl!" Wynonna raised her eyebrows, daring Waverly to say otherwise but she couldn't. Damn her memory. With a wink, Wynonna pulled Waverly into a tight hug. "I'm proud of you, Waves! You too, Red! Now are we gonna celebrate you leaving this shit hole behind?" Wynonna threw her thumb over her shoulder at the high school and shimmied her shoulders. Waverly looked to Nicole, they had sort of planned their own celebration, but it could wait.

"The Gardners are having a party, I'm happy to go but me and Waverly have plans tomorrow morning, so we can't stay too late." Nicole winked at Waverly and she smiled, sometimes it was like she could read Waverly's mind. Their plans would definitely not be waiting until the morning…although there may be an encore.

"A high school party?" Wynonna groaned. "High schoolers don't know how to drink! Present company excluded." She shot a wink to Waverly who just rolled her eyes. Waverly wasn't sure that her past experiences with alcohol was actually a very good example of someone knowing how to handle their drink. In fact, she didn't plan on drinking very much at all if they went to the party.

"Mercedes will be there, Beth said something about her having friends visiting from the city! Oh, and Tucker is away with their parents so no need to worry about him creeping up the place!" Waverly laughed, and a confused look took over Nicole face, Waverly promised she'd explain later.

"Fine but if anyone touches my whiskey, I get to slap them. Hard!"

"And if you steal another expensive piece of art from their house, I get to slap you. Hard!" Waverly pointed her finger at her sister as Wynonna backed away, telling Waverly she was making absolutely no promises on that front.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole had a great time at the party, hearing stories about Mercedes and Wynonna when they were in high school together, listening to Waverly and Chrissy reminiscing about elementary school and talking to Xavier about his plans to join the police in a couple years. It was a stark contrast to the first time she had set foot in the Gardner's house.

As the alcohol flowed, Nicole was finding it harder and harder to keep her hands off Waverly. They had put off their own celebration in favour of the party, at least for the time being, but Nicole was really regretting it. Most of all when Wynonna would give her the stink eye whenever Nicole clearly got a bit too handsy for her liking. She knew that Wynonna had no real problem with their relationship but it was still her little sister and she tried to control herself a little more. Waverly was not making it easier though, as soon as Nicole had started to restrain herself, she would pull Nicole into her for a kiss or just so Nicole would hold her and Nicole's self-control would wane.

Eventually Wynonna stopped being able to be around them and went to another room, dragging one of Mercedes' guy friends with her and Nicole stopped controlling herself completely. She could tell by the look in Waverly's eye that they wouldn't be staying much longer, not when Gus already knew Nicole would be staying the night. No less than five minutes after she had clocked the look in Waverly's eye, Waverly was asking if they could leave. Nicole was definitely ready for that, but she needed to make a quick trip to the bathroom before they started the long walk back towards Waverly's house.

She ran up the stairs and frowned as she noticed a small queue had formed outside. She leaned up against the wall, hoping that whoever was inside wasn't going to take long when she heard Rosita's voice. She tried not to listen, but she couldn't help it and when she heard that Rosita had been accepted into the same school as Waverly, suddenly Nicole didn't need to use the bathroom so much.

Even though Nicole knew that Waverly didn't like Rosita it brought up a fear that had yet to rear its head about the time they would be spending apart, and Nicole's mind filled with dread. What if Waverly met someone else, someone that liked her just like Rosita did and what if they were actually a nice person, unlike Rosita.

Nicole made her way downstairs and told Waverly she could wait until they got home. As they walked, Nicole knew she was being unusually quiet, especially since she had just been so happy at the party, but she hoped that Waverly wouldn't notice. Obviously, that wasn't going to happen though because Waverly was always observant, and she'd had a lot less to drink than Nicole had.

"Nicole, what's up? Did you want to stay?" Waverly tightened her grip on Nicole's hand until Nicole looked at her. Had she been sober, maybe the intrusive thoughts would have passed her by or at least not been quite so abrasive. She knew if she had been sober she would not have voiced them, but her lips were loosened, and she couldn't help it.

"Waverly what if you meet someone at school? Someone you like…" Nicole shook her head, as soon as the words were out, she wished she could take them back, but they were out now, and Waverly deserved to know where her mind had taken her. "We're going to be away from each other and I just…you'd never cheat on me, right?"

"Nicole, how can you even ask me that?" Waverly stopped walking and Nicole had been expecting her to be angry or hurt but when she turned to look back at her, there was only concern in her eyes. Waverly reached forward and held Nicole's face in her hands, wiping away the tears Nicole hadn't even realised she'd been shedding. "What made you think about that?"

"People like you, in general people like you but there's also probably a lot of people who like you, like you. You could meet someone at school and they'll be there and I won't and…"

"Nicole…I love you, ok? You! I wouldn't do that to you." Waverly gave her a soft smile filled with love, not even bringing up how it was Nicole idea in the first place for them to go to separate schools. She could see the irony really but sometimes she really did find it hard to believe that someone like Waverly even wanted her, her and only her.

"I trust you…it's just my head, it makes me doubt things…doubt how much I know you love me." Nicole screwed her eyes shut, in an attempt to banish the thoughts polluting her view of their relationship.

"I do love you, so please tell me what happened. What made you think about that?" Waverly could obviously tell that something had triggered these thoughts in Nicole and Nicole knew she was not going to get away with brushing it off even if she did hate to bring up Rosita.

"Rosita's gonna be at your school, I heard her talking at the party and I know you don't like her but…" Nicole opened her eyes but looked somewhere off in the distance, not wanting Waverly to see the pain her eyes. She didn't want to finish that sentence because deep down she knew she trusted Waverly and she knew she wouldn't hurt her like that, but she couldn't help the doubts that were repeating themselves over and over in her head.

"But you got scared that I'd meet someone that I do like?" Waverly asked, and Nicole nodded as thumbs brushed so delicately against her cheeks that she barely felt them there. Again, Waverly didn't look upset that Nicole had basically just confessed to not fully trusting her, she looked worried. "I want you to listen to me, really listen to what I'm about to say Nicole, ok?"

"Ok…" Nicole forced herself to keep eye contact with Waverly even though every thought in her head was telling her to look away, to protect herself.

"I know you find that hard to believe how important you are sometimes, so I will tell you as many times as you need to hear it! I'm guessing you thought I'd be mad at you for thinking those things but I'm not because I know you, Nicole. I know how your mind likes to play tricks on you and I also know that deep down, you don't believe them but any time they get too much, any time at all, you speak to me about it, ok?" Waverly kept her eyes glued to Nicole's, clearly waiting for a response but Nicole was absolutely floored. How did Waverly know exactly what to say for Nicole's mind to quiet down? Nicole didn't really need to wonder that for long because she did know the answer, Waverly had said it herself. Waverly knew Nicole, sometimes better than Nicole even knew herself and truly realising that made all of Nicole's fears about not being enough for Waverly leave her well and truly alone.

"Thank you, Waverly." Nicole's tears came fast and hard but this time they did not come from a place of sadness or fear. They were from total relief and happiness that in that moment, even if it didn't last and she might need Waverly to give her little speech again someday, she didn't have a single worry about her and Waverly making it work long-distance.

 

Saying goodbye to Waverly on the front lawn of the McCready house as she left for university was the single hardest goodbye Nicole had ever had to say. They had the perfect summer, spending as much time together as they could but somehow that just made it worse. She knew she was going to see her again soon, but she couldn't stop the physical pain that started in her chest and burned her eyes as she held on to Waverly so tight, Gus already waiting in the car to take her away.

"I'm gonna miss you so much." Waverly's voice cracked, and she squeezed into Nicole impossibly tighter. She had been crying for the last ten minutes as she said her goodbyes first to Wynonna and then Nicole. Nicole had tried to be strong, tried to make things easier for Waverly by keeping her tears at bay but the moment Waverly hugged into her, they came, and she really wasn't sure if they would ever stop.

"Me too, I'm sorry I couldn't drop you off." Nicole sobbed as she pressed a kiss to the top of Waverly's head. She had desperately wanted to drive Waverly herself, but she needed to leave the following day, there was no way her car would have taken both of their things and it just wasn't practical for Nicole to do multiple long trips in such a short space of time.

"I know, it's ok…I'm gonna call you when I get there." Waverly pulled back and looked over to Gus, who didn't actually look all that annoyed that it was taking far longer to get on the road than she probably thought it would, but Nicole knew Waverly felt bad for keeping her waiting. "I have to go…or else I'm never going to…" She bit down on her lip with a small shake of her head.

"I love you, I'll see you soon." Nicole let out a staggered breath, it was not going to be soon enough. She pulled Waverly in for a kiss, something they had been putting off because well, it was in front of Gus and Wynonna, but Nicole could see it in her eyes. She knew Waverly didn't care anymore, she just needed to feel her one last time before she was gone, and Nicole was more than happy to pretend that they were all alone for a few moments. "Bye, baby…"

"Bye…" Waverly closed her eyes slowly and a few more tears rolled down her cheeks but before Nicole could swipe them away she was walking towards the car and Nicole's jaw started to quiver.

She stood and watched the car pull away, taking deep breaths to remind herself that she was in fact still alive even if it did feel like half of her had just driven away. She wasn't sure how long she was standing there, just letting the tears fall but Wynonna wrapped an arm around her eventually and took her inside. She poured Nicole a cup of coffee and grabbed a glass and a bottle of whiskey for herself.

"It's going to be fine y'know? The time will pass quicker than either of you even realise." Wynonna sat down on the couch beside Nicole and slid the cup towards her before filling up her glass.

"I don't know about that…" Nicole picked up the coffee, part of her genuinely thought about pouring a little of Wynonna's whiskey into it but with a long drive ahead of her the next day that wasn't the best idea. She wasn't sure she'd be able to stop if she started drinking.

"Come on, Red. I'm the one that has to stay here without either of you to keep me company!" Wynonna playfully hit her glass against Nicole's cup and even though she had tried very hard to make it seem like she was joking, Nicole knew that Wynonna had meant it. Wynonna didn't seem to be making many friends in town apart from Nicole and only on the odd occasion would she spend some time with Doc but overall, people really didn't seem to want to give her a chance. They'd made their mind up about her and even if she'd never say it, it very clearly hurt her feelings. Nicole wasn't sure why she stayed in a place very few people liked her, and Waverly had wondered the same thing aloud to Nicole a number of times.

"Waverly thought you might leave again…before she comes back." Nicole wasn't sure if Waverly would have wanted her to voice these thoughts to Wynonna but if she really was going to leave again, Nicole being ready to comfort Waverly when that happened could only be a good thing.

"Not this time…" Wynonna finished her whiskey in one go, then foregoing the glass altogether, grabbed the bottle and took a swig. "Gus needs me. She pretends she doesn't, but she does."

"That's awfully selfless of you…" Nicole teased, feeling a little less like she needed to cry her eyes out. Wynonna seemed to have a similar effect on Nicole as Waverly did, she made her feel at ease.

When Nicole's teasing didn't get a sarcastic retort straight away, Nicole started to think that maybe Wynonna was the one that needed someone and brushing it off as Gus being the one in need was just how she was dealing with it.

"It's been known to happen." Wynonna said as she shrugged one shoulder and took another swig out the bottle.

Chapter Text

Waverly woke with a start as the phone placed beside her head began to ring obnoxiously right in her ear. It couldn't have been much later than midnight but after a late night the day before she fell asleep almost immediately after texting Nicole a goodnight message. Her roommate was off somewhere doing whatever it was she seemed to always be doing, instead of coming back to their dorm at a reasonable hour and she had managed to have a quiet night with no interruptions to her text conversation with Nicole. Her eyes focused in on the phone's bright screen, taking in the name of the caller and nothing else before she shot up in her bed and answered it.

"Nicole?"

"Waves, I can't do this." Nicole's voice sounded broken as it came through the phone and Waverly's stomach bottomed out. Even though she had barely been awake for more than a few seconds, her mind was already working at lightning speed, running through every possible reason Nicole would be saying those words but she kept getting stuck on one. Even though it hadn't been a full week since they last saw each other, it was too hard for Nicole to be apart from Waverly and still be with her. She couldn't do it anymore, couldn't do them anymore.

"Nicole, what are you talking about?" Waverly managed to keep her voice surprisingly steady for how erratic her breathing had become in such a short space of time.

"I don't think I can do this, I don't think I can be here! I had a panic attack tonight for the first time in months and I just can't. I don't think I can handle this. I just want to go home but you're not even there and so I don't think I could even go home and handle you not being there. Everything is new, again! And I can't keep my brain from going a million miles an hour, all the damn time!" Nicole's words came out so fast that Waverly wasn't able to get a single one in until Nicole took a deep breath.

"Baby…I need you to calm down, ok?" Waverly's initial fear was wrong, but she had been afraid of this too. That Nicole would have a hard time being away from home, away from her support system. They'd talked about it a lot and Nicole was confident that she could handle it but Waverly had still worried, Nicole couldn't possibly know what it was going to be like. Sure, she had moved to a new town before, but she had her mom there and then she had Waverly. Now she didn't have anyone.

"I know…." Nicole's breathing was coming down the phone a little less laboured and Waverly waited patiently for it to return to normal rate.

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Waverly repositioned her pillows behind her and pulled her legs up to her chest. There was an ache in her fingers, all she wanted to do was reach out and calm Nicole, comfort her with a gentle touch but she couldn't.

"I was at that mixer thing I told you about…it was pretty relaxed until everyone started getting really drunk. Someone grabbed my shoulder while we were playing beer pong and I just…I left. I freaked out and I left, and I've been sitting on this wall for twenty minutes trying to get my heart to calm down. I was shaking so bad I couldn't call you until right now." Nicole sighed and the ache in Waverly's fingers spread to her chest. If it had taken Nicole that long to calm down enough just to call her, it must have been a bad one.

"Baby, I'm so sorry that happened. Are you close to your dorm? Are you going to be ok getting back?" Waverly hated the idea of Nicole being alone and scared, she could practically see her sitting on that wall, arms wrapped around herself protectively as she tried to calm down.

"Yeah…yeah, I'm close but I really don't think I can do this, Waves. I'm scared." Nicole's voice cracked, and Waverly knew she was crying. She had thought that missing Nicole was bad enough but not being able to be there for her when Waverly knew she needed it the most was killing her. She knew whatever words she said would pale in comparison to what simply holding Nicole would be able to do but she had to try.

"I know you can do this, Nicole. You had a setback but that doesn't mean you're going to go back to where you were this time last year, ok?" Waverly knew reminding Nicole of all the progress she had made might be a gamble, she could take it either way. It could reaffirm that Nicole was capable of dealing with this or it could make her believe that all of her progress had been lost completely.

"But no one knows me here, no one knows what I need when I'm feeling like this…I can't do this!" Nicole's sobs were coming through stronger now and Waverly was finding it difficult not to join her in tears. She knew she had to stay strong though, for Nicole. She had to remind her that all that she had accomplished the past year, while she might have had help, it had been her accomplishment. It wouldn't have been possible unless Nicole had been capable of it.

"Nicole. Listen to me! You can do this. You are so strong, and I know you can get through this. I'm only a phone call away, always. No matter the time, if I see you calling, I'll answer."

"Thank you, baby. God, I miss you so much." Nicole sounded like she'd stopped crying but the sadness in her voice was still clear.

"I miss you too, like crazy!" Waverly knew it hadn't been long since she'd seen her but that didn't really matter when she knew it would be even longer until she would see her again. She was already missing her for the days that were still to come, and she couldn't help but think it would only get worse. "When are you coming to visit again?" She didn't really need to ask, she knew exactly how long it was until she would see Nicole again, but she needed to change the topic before she started crying.

"Twenty-one days…" Nicole said without missing a beat and Waverly smiled, at least she wasn't the only one counting down the days.

"Why did we say we'd wait almost a month again?" Waverly groaned, and Nicole laughed. Waverly instantly felt lighter and she stretched herself out on her bed, releasing her legs from the vice grip she had on them against her chest.

"It was your idea! Make sure we had something to look forward to while we got settled in." Nicole laughed again, and Waverly thought she'd stay on the phone with her all night if she could keep hearing that sound. "Plus, you can get close enough to your roommate to ask her to make herself scarce for the weekend…how's that going?"

"We'll see…we haven't exactly bonded yet! I'm about ready to book us a room at that hotel we stayed at just in case. I don't think I'm going to be able to keep my hands off you when I do see you again." Waverly thoughts descended very quickly to everything she wanted to do right at that moment, twenty-one days felt like a life time.

"Well we could definitely do that, I would not be opposed to a repeat of that night!" Nicole's flirtatious voice only furthered Waverly's spiraling thoughts deeper into the gutter and she wondered if she'd have enough time before her roommate came back to satisfy a rapidly increasing need.

"Feeling better now?" Waverly managed to square her potential plans away until after she had made sure that their conversation had actually helped Nicole, maybe until Nicole had made it back to her dorm.

"Yeah, definitely." Nicole heaved a sigh that Waverly hoped was relief but before she could examine it further, her roommate unlocked the door, walked in and flopped down on her bed with a tired groan. Well, that was Waverly's plans ruined. "That Eliza?"

"Yup, I'm gonna have to go, I'll call you tomorrow?" Waverly knew that Nicole would no doubt need a quick reminder of what she had said that night, the next day and Waverly would want to make sure that Nicole had actually taken it all in.

"Yeah, love you."

"Love you too. Bye baby." Waverly hung up and instantly her eyes went wide. She'd just said that with Eliza a few feet away. She chanced a look over her shoulder to see if she had fallen asleep where she landed but no such luck. She was looking right at Waverly with a shit-eating grin on her face, propped up by a hand under her chin.

"I didn't know you had a boyfriend…" Eliza wiggled her eyebrows and Waverly rolled her eyes.

"I don't…" Waverly wasn't sure what to do, she hadn't told Eliza about Nicole not because she was worried about the reaction but because they really had not spend much time actually talking to each other. Eliza was always off doing god knows what, with god knows who. Waverly didn't even know what classes she was taking, there were never any textbooks on her desk. "That was Nicole…my girlfriend."

"No way!" Eliza shot up and sat on the edge of her bed, if it was possible the grin on her face got even bigger. "I wouldn't have guessed that, like at all." She laughed, and her massive grin turned into a gentler smile. "What she like?"

Waverly released the tension she'd been holding in her shoulders, she would have told her about Nicole earlier if she thought it would have earned her that reaction. Waverly was pretty sure it was the first actual question Eliza had asked her since their initial introduction.

Waverly, deciding that she wasn't all that tired after her conversation with Nicole, told Eliza all about her. How funny and kind she was, how she was at a different school but that she'd be coming to visit in a couple weeks. She thought it was a good idea to lay the ground work for when she would need to ask her for the room for at least a night.

Eliza didn't exactly reciprocate by divulging any information about her own life, but Waverly felt like they were at least making some progress, they'd get there soon enough.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole really started trying to feel more at home. She tried to make friends, stay calm when she was in new situations and she was sure that it was working. She was feeling better about it all, but missing Waverly was just as hard. She had taken her words to heart though, Waverly believed she could do this and she never wanted to disappoint Waverly, so she was not going to give up without a real effort to make it work. Nicole knew she had got through bad times before, she could do it again.

One thing that she found, much to her surprise, really helped was working out. She'd decided to start going to the gym after one of her new friends suggested they go together. She'd never really been one for taking exercise seriously, what with her great metabolism and all but working out seemed to help, not only to take her mind off missing Waverly for an hour or so but helped get rid of a lot of the nervous energy she carried around with her everywhere. She also didn't mind the fact that when Waverly saw her again, maybe she would look a little more toned than the last time they had seen each other and that couldn't hurt.

The day she was going to take the trip to see Waverly finally came and as soon as her classes were done for the weekend, she rushed back to her dorm to grab the bag she'd had packed for the past week and all but ran to her car. She called Waverly right before she set off and the two of them excitedly talked about how in just a short couple of hours they would be together again. The month had been hard, but she knew as soon as Waverly was in her arms, all of those thoughts would vanish.

The drive was tedious, even with her favourite music blasting in the car. She just wanted to be there already. When she reached the familiar stretch of road from her and Waverly's visit earlier in the year, she may have pushed the accelerator a little further than necessary. She followed the very precise directions that Waverly had given her to Waverly's building and ran up the stairs after finding a parking spot. She slung her bag over her shoulder, so her hands were free, fixed her hair as best she could without a mirror and took a deep breath before knocking on the door. She heard the excited scream on the other side just before Waverly opened the door and all but threw herself at Nicole, kissing her over and over until Waverly pulled back with the biggest smile on her face.

"God, I missed you!" Waverly sighed as she placed her forehead gently against Nicole's. Nicole was still holding her up by her waist and for the first time she really noticed the difference going to the gym had made. She never would have been able to hold her that long before without a slight tremble in her muscles.

"I missed you too!" Nicole almost felt like crying, everything that was Waverly filling all of her senses at once was overwhelming and she was just so content. She didn't want to waste another second so, still with a firm grasp around Waverly's middle she walked them backwards into the room, kicking the door closed behind her and spotted the bed covers that were so obviously Waverly.

If it was even possible, being with Waverly was even better than Nicole remembered. She lay on her side, looking down at Waverly who had the most serene look on her face as she stared into Nicole's eyes and Nicole knew that Waverly must have been thinking the same thing. Neither one of them wanted to leave that room or each other's arms but Nicole hadn't bothered to eat anything before hitting the road and her stomach had other ideas. It grumbled away until they eventually decided to head out for something to eat. They walked, as close together as humanly possible, to Waverly's new favourite café, that according to her did the best coffee around campus and the most amazing sandwiches.

After refueling, Waverly wanted to introduce Nicole to a few of the friends she had made. They were all lovely and Waverly seemed to get along great with them, she seemed genuinely happy. Nicole knew she had made the right decision encouraging Waverly to go there, even if it did suck that they were away from each other.

Hearing Waverly talk about her classes and her teachers, she seemed a lot more interested in them than Nicole was in hers, but she figured that was just Waverly. That was confirmed when all the friends that were in the same classes as her, rolled their eyes teasingly as she talked about how excited she was for their first assignment.

"You really are something else, Waverly Earp." Nicole whispered softly in her ear as everyone continued to talk around them. Waverly turned to look at her with a confused smile on her face. "I don't know anyone who's so excited to start actual work at school, it's very attractive."

"Oh yeah?" A shine appeared in Waverly's eyes as she moved in slowly to capture Nicole lips. As much as Nicole had really been getting along with all her friends, suddenly she wasn't so fond of one of them when they ruined the moment with an announcement about a party they were all invited to that night and a query as to whether Nicole would be joining them as well. Waverly hadn't mentioned anything about a party when they spoke earlier, maybe she wasn't sure if Nicole would want to go but if Waverly wanted to be there then she'd go. Before Nicole could say she would be happy to attend, Waverly pulled back from the impending kiss and spoke. "Not tonight, sorry guys! Nicole's really tired from her drive."

"That's too bad, maybe next time?" The question directed at Nicole who was still a little surprised by Waverly's answer.

"Uh, yeah. For sure!" Nicole managed to stumble her answer out before they all got up to head off to the party, telling Nicole how great it was to finally meet her. They waved goodbye happily and Nicole turned to Waverly as soon as they were out of earshot. "I'm not too tired, Waves. We can go to the party if you want? I'll be fine, especially with you there!"

"Absolutely not!" Waverly let out a quick laugh and focused an intense stare at Nicole's lips. "I had to bribe Eliza with take-out pizza two nights next week and I am going to get my money's worth!"

 

The visit was too short, two days was nowhere near long enough and when Nicole had to leave again, Waverly was in tears. Nicole cradled her head as they held each other up against Nicole's car, she knew it was going to feel awful having to leave again but she didn't realise just how much worse than the first time they'd said goodbye it would be. She kept telling herself they would see each other soon but it wouldn't be soon enough, not when she knew what she was going back to.

Nicole knew Waverly made friends easily, but her little group looked a hell of a lot closer knit than any of the people Nicole had met so far. She had to do better, she had to find herself people she could actually rely on and talk to just like Waverly had. Nicole got on well with her roommate but as she had told Waverly, she could be a bit much sometimes. Always asking questions about how tough it must be to be away from her girlfriend. She was lucky enough to have a boyfriend at school with her but thankfully he had his own place, so Nicole never had to deal with that. She wasn't sure she'd handle seeing a happy couple flaunting their togetherness in her face all the time.

Maybe she wasn't making enough of an effort, maybe she was spending too much of her time sulking about missing Waverly and maybe she mentioned her too often. People didn't want to be friends with someone who was always complaining.

"I hate this." Waverly huffed into Nicole's chest as they hugged one final time before Nicole really needed to leave.

"Me too but we can do this! Just think after all this is over, we'll know we can handle anything!" Nicole truly believed that, it had to be one of the biggest strains a relationship could face but she already couldn't wait for it to be over.

Nicole saved her real tears until she drove away. Her chest heaved almost the whole drive back, her knuckles white against the steering wheel as she counted the days until she would see Waverly again. It would be longer this time around, school work had to take precedence and as assignments were mounting she wasn't sure how on earth she was going to concentrate.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly was bored out of her mind. Sitting in class as her least favourite professor went on and on about a subject she usually enjoyed. Except not when he taught it. She couldn't help but get annoyed at his not-so-subtle biases, totally ignoring the role of women in twentieth century Europe every time she was in his class. She couldn't understand how someone could assign a reading that week, written by a woman and then totally ignore the genders contribution to society while most of the men were off fighting in the war.

She rolled her eyes as he wondered aloud yet again, how on earth society did not simply crumble without the involvement of men and finally gave up taking notes. She opened a new tab on her browser and scrolled aimlessly through facebook until she saw Nicole had changed her profile picture to one of the two of them. It had been taken when Nicole had come to visit two weeks previously, she had her arms around Waverly's waist and as Waverly had taken the photo, Nicole had placed a tender kiss to her cheek. If Waverly concentrated hard enough, she could still feel Nicole's arms around her and her lips pressed against her face.

Waverly opened another tab and searched for bus tickets. She knew it was ridiculous to miss Nicole so much already, but she really didn't care. Her friends were doing their best to get her involved in whatever they were doing, they knew she was having a difficult time since Nicole had left. Waverly was just struggling to find common ground with most of them now they were past the initial stage of friendship. They had classes together, went to parties together but it didn't feel like they were really getting to know each other. Most of them were more concerned about hooking up at the parties than spending time with Waverly and more often than not she would get bored and end up back at her dorm, texting with Nicole.

Things with Eliza were getting better each week though, Eliza had started spending more time in the dorm as school work started to pile up and Waverly was more than happy to lend a hand whenever she was struggling. They actually talked while they studied together, asked each other how their days were going, their classes and Waverly had really started to like her. Waverly thought Eliza might be her only real friend at school.

There was a bus leaving in just over an hour that would take her to Nicole and so presumably, much to the annoyance of her professor, she got up and left in the middle of his class without a second thought. She had purchased a return ticket online that would give her roughly seventeen hours with Nicole. One day was all she could respectably miss of classes, but she was absolutely positive it would be worth it.

 

She sat near the rear of the bus and messaged Nicole when she figured she was less than an hour away, innocently asking what she was up to and not letting on that she had just made one of the most impulsive decisions of her life.

Nicole was just about to head to the gym, again. She'd been going most days and Waverly had been pretty damn impressed with the results when she'd seen her. She didn't think Nicole could get much closer to perfect but she had to admit that the added stamina was definitely a bonus. Waverly looked up where the gym on her campus was and plotted the route from where she'd get off the bus to where she would hopefully catch Nicole just as she was leaving.

She stood awkwardly outside the gym, praying that she hadn't already missed her girlfriend leaving. She knew Nicole would normally stay for roughly an hour, but she might have decided on a less intense work out that day.

Finally, she saw a flash of familiar red hair as Nicole pushed through the glass doors, holding it open with a smile for the girl walking behind her. A gorgeous girl with long, sleek, black hair, a stunning dark skin tone, similar height to Nicole and in unfairly good shape. Waverly could see that easily thanks to the tight workout clothes she had on.

Waverly hoped for a moment that Nicole didn't actually know the girl and was simply being polite but when they shared a hug as they went their separate ways, Waverly let out a quiet whine. The whine turned into an almost growl as the girl bunched her hands tightly into Nicole's shirt as they hugged, her chest tightened as Nicole didn't seem the slightest bit put off by the action. They shared one last smile before Nicole started walking in Waverly's direction and the girl took off in the other.

Nicole was too busy staring down at her phone with a smile on her face to notice the uneasy look on Waverly's and for that she was thankful. Waverly's phone went off in her pocket and she took it out to see a selfie that Nicole had just sent of her at the gym. The tightness in her chest loosened and a smile quickly took over her face..

"I'd rather see the real thing!" Waverly raised her voice just loud enough for Nicole to hear, and her head shot up with wide excited eyes.

"Waverly?!" Nicole started running then, much to Waverly's amusement and pulled her into a hug so tight she almost couldn't breathe but she wrapped her arms around Nicole's neck and accepted the embrace. "You're here?"

"I'm here." Waverly nodded with a giggle as Nicole spun them around once on the spot. Nicole set her back on the ground and brought their lips together in a fierce kiss. Waverly knew she'd made the best decision surprising her.

 

After a few moments just staring at each other with stupid grins on their faces, Waverly's words spilled out almost on their own accord. "So... who was that you were with?"

"Oh, that's Shae. She's the one who suggested I start going to the gym with her." Nicole shrugged, and Waverly couldn't help the slight furrow in her brow. Nicole had never mentioned Shae by name before. Waverly knew that someone had suggested to Nicole she start working out, but she didn't know that they always worked out together…or that she looked like that. "Crap. She's having a party tonight, I'll have to send her a text and let her know I can't make it anymore."

"No, we should go!" Waverly wasn't sure how those words left her mouth without her permission. She didn't want to go, she didn't want to see Shae again in all her glory, probably looking even better since she wouldn't have just left the gym but apparently her mouth had other ideas. "I'm the one who turned up unannounced, you don't have to change your plans just cause I'm here!"

"You sure?" Nicole placed her hands on Waverly's shoulders and Waverly wanted to tell her no, wanted to say all she wanted to do was spend time alone, with her girlfriend but she also knew she was probably being irrational. Nicole had made a friend and had been planning on going to a party, that was more important than Waverly's jealousy.

"Of course, I'd like to meet her." Waverly smiled, and she knew it definitely was not a genuine smile but before Nicole could notice she pulled Waverly into another hug, telling her how glad she was that Waverly was there.

Waverly relaxed on Nicole's bed as she got showered and changed down the hall. She instantly understood what Nicole meant when she had mentioned that her roommate could be a bit much. In the fifteen minutes Nicole left them alone, she asked Waverly a million questions about herself, what she studied, why she studied that, what she planned to do after school, how she met Nicole, how long they had been together, was it hard for them to do long-distance like they were. Thankfully she was saved by Nicole coming back and suggesting they go grab something to eat, before it started to feel any more like an honest to god interrogation.

They found somewhere close to Shae's place off campus to eat before heading along to the party. Nicole wasn't sure she had in fact found the right place when they got outside the pretty fancy looking apartment building, she double checked the address Shae had given her and it was definitely the right place. Waverly had to control the happiness she felt at Nicole never actually having been to Shae's place before. Nicole knocked on the door and Shae answered with a bright smile that disappeared the second she saw Waverly. Waverly forced a smile in her direction despite herself.

"Oh, you brought someone…"

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The party was a lot more intimate than Nicole had anticipated. Just a handful of people and Nicole felt so awkward about bringing Waverly without even a heads up to Shae. She thought it would be fine and barely even noticeable if there were lots of people already there. The pair greeted the other guests, no doubt friends of Shae's also studying medicine and found a spot on the couch to sit.

Nicole, in social situations was not confident. Nicole, in a social situation where she felt she had just made a pretty big etiquette faux pas, was definitely not confident.

"Nicole, could you help me grab some drinks?" Shae threw her thumb over her shoulder towards where Nicole presumed the kitchen was. She got up from the couch with a squeeze to Waverly's knee, an apology for leaving her alone in a room full of strangers even if it was only going to be for a few minutes. The apartment was beautiful and so much bigger than Nicole imagined. She had figured that Shae had wealthy parents from the car she drove, but she didn't quite imagine they were this wealthy. The kitchen was bigger than Nicole's at home and was kitted out with what looked like, all brand-new appliances. Shae opened the fridge for her and Nicole took out a couple of beers for herself and Waverly before pulling out the bottle of wine that Shae asked her to grab. "So…you brought a date?"

"Yeah, sorry. I thought this was going to be like a party party…" Nicole set all the drinks down on the island in the middle of the kitchen. She really hoped that her error in judgment was not going to taint her newest friendship when it had barely even begun.

"It's ok, I just didn't know you were seeing anyone…" Shae opened the bottle of wine and poured herself a glass before taking a long drink. If Nicole wasn't imagining things, it seemed like Shae was actively trying to avoid making eye contact.

"Waverly's my girlfriend..." Nicole was sure she had mentioned Waverly to Shae before. She had to have mentioned it.

"What? You never mentioned you had a girlfriend…" Shae set her class down and finally made eye contact, but Nicole almost wished she hadn't. Shae looked hurt. Surely Nicole not telling Shae something like that wasn't grounds for being upset with her, they were friends who spend most of their time together working out. The pair hadn't even connected on social media yet. Surely it wasn't an indication that Nicole didn't consider them friends if she hadn't mentioned Waverly, even though she was positive that she had to have at some point. "I'm pretty sure I would have remembered something like that."

"Sorry I didn't ask ahead and see if it was ok if she could join me, she sort of surprised me with a visit."

"It's fine…I just…never mind." Shae picked up her glass and the bottle of wine, she was about to head back through to her guests, but Nicole didn't want to leave their friendship up in the air like that.

"Never mind, what?" Nicole asked, and Shae sighed, maybe Nicole shouldn't have pushed her, maybe they would just get over this after tonight. Nicole didn't think it was that big of a deal and maybe Shae was just surprised.

"I was going to ask you out." Shae huffed out and shook her head. "I feel like an idiot now."

"Oh. Sorry." Nicole didn't know what else she could say. Shae was going to ask her out? Nicole started to go over their time spend together in her head, she couldn't for the life of her pin point any indications that Shae liked her like that. She wasn't even sure if she knew that Shae was interested in women. Was she just oblivious? She hadn't realised that Waverly liked her either at first...

"Nothing to apologise for."

"Should I leave?" Nicole really did not know what to do in a situation like this. She had her girlfriend sitting in the next room and a girl that was interested in her standing right in front of her. She didn't want to make either of them feel awkward. She definitely did not feel anything like that for Shae, but she did care about her as a friend.

"No! I made this weird…just enjoy your night, please!" Shae smiled and walked out of the kitchen. Nicole waited a beat to compose herself and followed behind. She really wished she had just cancelled and spent the night with Waverly instead.

Nicole convinced herself it was best to stick around, she didn't want to upset Shae and she didn't want to make Waverly think that she wasn't welcome at the party, but Nicole did start to notice how often Shae looked at her. Especially when Waverly would touch her, Waverly was a very tactile person normally but considering they hadn't seen each other in two weeks, it didn't surprise Nicole that those touches were a little more exuberant than normal.

Despite Shae's assurance that she shouldn't leave just because of her revelation, Nicole did not want to outstay their welcome and as soon as Waverly let out a small yawn, she used it as an excuse for the both of them to take their leave.

"We could have stayed a little longer, if you wanted to?" Waverly interlaced their fingers as they started the short walk back towards Nicole's dorm. Nicole was battling with herself, she didn't know whether or not to tell Waverly why exactly she wanted to leave.

"No, it's fine. I wanted to go…" Nicole knew as soon as she spoke that her voice was betraying her. She sounded uncomfortable, someone else might not have noticed but Waverly definitely would.

"Why? Was it too much?" Waverly looked at Nicole with concern. She easily could have brushed it off as feeling anxious, made it just another night when things proved to be too much for her to handle but she was not about to lie straight to Waverly's face.

"Shae didn't know I was dating anyone…I was sure I told her about you, I tell everyone about you!" Nicole realised as soon as she said it that what she had said was not exactly an explanation as to why she wanted to leave but she thought that somehow Waverly knew where it was going. She instantly looked hurt and angry, she dropped Nicole's hand and stopped walking. Nicole turned to face her fully, trying really hard not to look guilty even though that was exactly how she felt. She hadn't done anything to really feel guilty about, but she felt it nonetheless.

"But not her…" Waverly stared Nicole down and she could feel her suspicions. Nicole flinched away from the intensity of her glare.

"It just mustn't have come up." It was a lame excuse and Nicole knew it, but it was all she had. There was no reason that Nicole hadn't told Shae she had a girlfriend, clearly it just didn't seem relevant at the time because she had absolutely no idea that it would have any influence on the time she spent with her.

"Ok." Waverly crossed her arms and looked far from ok when Nicole reached out to take her hand again. They walked back to her dorm in silence and Nicole absolutely hated it. Why hadn't she just added Shae on Facebook like she had planned to the week before, none of this would have happened. She would have seen her profile picture, she would have seen her relationship status, she would have seen the countless posts where she had tagged Waverly in songs she thought she would like. Sure, it might have still been a little awkward showing up at Shae's party with Waverly, but Shae would not have been so shocked to see Nicole turn up with her.

Waverly grabbed her pajamas and got changed in silence while Nicole did the same. She was glad that her roommate had already left to stay the night at her boyfriend's place. The only thing that would make the situation more awkward with Waverly was if they had an audience. Waverly climbed under the covers and folded her arms on top of them.

"Waves, please talk to me." Nicole stood beside her bed and pleaded with her eyes. She couldn't stand the silent treatment, it was letting her mind run away with itself and she knew that that was never a good thing. She could feel the tightness in her chest, her slightly quickened heart rate and if Waverly didn't say something soon she was sure it would turn into a full-blown panic attack.

"She clearly likes you…she couldn't keep her eyes off you all night and you never even told her about me!" Waverly kept her eyes fixed firmly on the wall in front of her, but Nicole could see the beginning of tears. She hated that this was her doing, even if it she hadn't done it on purpose. Nicole knew how it felt when she found out Rosita liked Waverly but this didn't just look like jealousy. Waverly looked like she'd just taken a kick to the stomach.

"I'm sorry."

"Maybe there's a reason you never told her…" Waverly turned her head towards Nicole and she just wanted to reach out and comfort the hurt she saw in Waverly's eyes. "Maybe you didn't want her to know you weren't single?"

"Waverly, that's not fair! I didn't even know she was gay!" Nicole snapped her mouth shut but she had already said too much, and Waverly's eyes narrowed.

"Oh, but you do now?" Waverly laughed humorlessly and shook her head. "You've never once mentioned the name 'Shae' to me before today and yet it seems you guys hang out all the time!"

"At the gym, Waverly! Tonight was the first time since we met that I've seen her anywhere other than to work out!" Nicole wasn't lying, her and Shae might spend more time together than most people Nicole was friendly with at school, but it had always been to work out, apart from the night they were introduced to one another. "Waves, you were the one telling me that I shouldn't worry about you finding someone else at school and I don't worry about that because I trust you! Don't you trust me?"

"That was different."

"How was that any different?" Nicole knew as soon as she asked why exactly it was different, Nicole's fear had been entirely hypothetical. Shae was not hypothetical. She was very real, and Waverly could tell that she was interested in Nicole, she hadn't even needed to know that Shae had planned to ask her out to know that. She had noticed it and now that Nicole knew Shae was interested, she felt stupid for not noticing it before.

"I'm going to sleep, Nicole. I don't want to fight with you." Waverly turned herself over and pulled the cover up over her shoulder. She was clearly done.

"We don't need to fight." Nicole reached out and placed her hand on Waverly's covered shoulder, but Waverly shrugged off her touch. Nicole bit down on her lip to stop herself from bursting into tears right then and there.

"Goodnight, Nicole." Waverly's said flatly, and Nicole's heart sank. For a brief moment, she thought about taking her roommates bed to give Waverly the space she obviously wanted, but she had taken the sheets off to clean them that morning. Nicole got under the covers but kept her distance from Waverly. They lay back to back and Nicole's chest ached. Being so close to Waverly and not touching her was torture, all she wanted to do was make things right.

She knew it was going to be one of the worst night's sleep she'd ever have.

 

When Nicole woke up, she instantly felt lighter. Waverly had cuddled into her during the night. Nicole worried that it might have been unintentional but when Waverly woke up and made no moves to untangle herself and instead tightened her hold on Nicole she figured it was safe to place a small kiss to her forehead.

"I'm sorry I got so worked up last night." Waverly hid herself in Nicole's neck.

"I'm sorry I never told her about you." Nicole slowly smoothed her hand up and down Waverly's back.

"I know…and I know you didn't not tell Shae on purpose." Waverly kissed her neck softly and then propped herself up, so she could look at Nicole properly. "It just sucks that she gets to see you all the time and I don't...I was just jealous of all the time she gets to spend with you."

"There is absolutely nothing for you to be jealous of. I'd much rather be spending my time with you. Always." Nicole ran her hand down Waverly cheek's and guided her forward to connect their lips. There hadn't been nearly enough kissing since Waverly arrived and she was going to have to leave soon. "I don't want to lie to you, but I want you to know that what I'm going to say doesn't mean a thing, ok?"

"Ok…" Waverly sat up a little straighter and pursed her lips.

"You were right, Shae is… was interested in me. She was planning on asking me out before she found out about you." Nicole watched Waverly carefully and while she did see the tiniest flicker of hurt pass over her face, it seemed to pass quickly, and she reached out for Nicole's hand and squeezed it gently.

"I can't really blame her, can I? You are pretty great." Waverly sighed and cuddled back into Nicole's side. "And I do trust you…I'm sorry you had to fall asleep doubting that."

"It's ok, baby. I know you do. Can I drop you off at the bus station?" Nicole kissed her again as Waverly nodded. She wrapped her arms tight around Waverly and wished that time could just stand still for a while, she wasn't ready for Waverly to be gone again.

As they stood, taking advantage of the last few minutes before Waverly's bus would take her away, they shared a final few kisses. Waverly pulled back and her scrunched up face told Nicole she had a question to ask. Clearly, she was not sure whether or not she should though. Nicole tilted her head and encouraged her with a soft smile.

"Are you still going to hang out with Shae?" Waverly looked down as she asked but Nicole lifted her head with a finger under her chin.

"Would it bother you if I did?" Nicole wasn't even sure if she still wanted to spend time with Shae, it might be awkward, but she did enjoy the time they spent together, and she didn't really have anyone else to workout with. Now though, she didn't know if the effort Shae had made to get to know her was simply because she was interested in asking her out and maybe staying as just friends was not something Shae would want.

"I don't know. I trust you, I do! I just don't know if I trust her." Waverly blew a long breath out through her nose and shook her head. Nicole leaned down and rested their foreheads together, being away from each other was so much harder than she thought it would be.

She knew she was going to miss Waverly but now they were starting to not even know things about each other's lives. Nicole wasn't telling Waverly things and whether or not it meant anything that Nicole hadn't told Waverly about Shae explicitly, she simply hadn't. If they were together, Waverly would have known about Nicole spending time with her and Shae would have known about Waverly.

"Are we ok?" Nicole pulled Waverly closer as she noticed the driver looking over in their direction, Waverly was going to have to go any second.

"Yeah, baby. Promise." Waverly pulled back and kissed Nicole quickly one last time before saying goodbye and getting onto the bus. Nicole watched as it pulled away, waving until Waverly was out of sight. Tears slowly made their way down her cheeks.

The goodbyes were only getting harder each time.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly called Wynonna as soon as she stopped waving goodbye to Nicole from her bus. The moment she heard Wynonna's voice the few tears she was shedding turned into full blown sobs.

"Babygirl, what's wrong?!" Wynonna's voice was full of fear and Waverly felt bad for making her sister worry. She managed to get herself to calm down, so she could reassure her that she was not in fact in any immediate danger.

"I'm upset…it's stupid." Waverly puffed out a deep breath as she got herself under control. She would have felt embarrassed about bursting into tears on a bus full of strangers if she hadn't felt like she really had needed that cry.

"Hey, if it's upset you, it's not stupid. What's wrong?" Wynonna asked, a rare softness in her voice that was reserved only for Waverly when she needed someone to talk to. Waverly took a deep breath, preparing to explain what had happened and told herself not to get worked up again.

"I went to visit Nicole, surprise her and she was with this stupidly gorgeous girl, Shae, who likes her and she didn't even know about me. Nicole hadn't told her she was dating anyone and now I'm sitting on a bus heading back to school when all I want to do is stay with Nicole." Waverly wasn't sure how Wynonna would actually react, it easily could have gone either way. She could decide she was just as pissed at Nicole as Waverly had been the night before or she could tell Waverly she was being totally ridiculous.

"She would never cheat on you, Waves." Wynonna replied, and Waverly could feel the eye roll in her voice. "I have eyes, Nicole loves you. "

"That's not the point!" Waverly had realised this when she had woken up in the middle of the night, the distance between her and Nicole made her heart ache and she couldn't bear to stay mad at her any longer. She knew that Nicole would never cheat on her, Waverly could tell she wasn't lying when she had said she had no idea that Shae was interested in her. In truth, it didn't surprise her one bit because Nicole had no idea that Waverly was interested in her all those months ago.

What she was, was jealous of the attention that Shae was getting from Nicole, even if it was platonic. She hadn't seen her girlfriend in two weeks and yet Waverly knew Nicole had been to the gym a multitude of times in those two weeks. Which meant that she had spent time with Shae a multitude of times, all while Waverly had been hours away wishing she could just reach out and touch Nicole. "She gets to spend time with my girlfriend when I don't!"

"It's not even been two months, babygirl." Waverly knew what Wynonna was doing, she was trying to get Waverly to see the absurdity of her missing Nicole so much, but it wasn't helping. Those two months had felt like the longest two months of her life. "You should be able to last that long without seeing here…"

"Why?" Waverly retorted, she knew she sounded like a petulant child, but she didn't care. Why should she have to be fine with not seeing Nicole? Why should she not get jealous of all the people that Nicole got to see every day? Why shouldn't her heart ache when she thought of the amount of time before she would get to see her again, hold her again, kiss her again?

"Because you are your own person and so is she! I know young love feels like the hottest shit in the world right now but if you keep stressing out about this, you'll never do well at school and graduate top of your class like you've wanted since you were eight years old! " Wynonna sighed down the phone, Waverly didn't realise that Wynonna remembered her saying that, she barely even remembered saying it. She did have to admit Wynonna had a point though, even if she didn't want to say it out loud. "I love Nicole, I love you guys together but this is about your future!"

"But what if my future is Nicole?" Waverly had been thinking a lot more about that lately. She really couldn't see a future for herself that didn't include Nicole, she didn't want to even think of one.

"She can't be the only thing in your life babygirl…can you please not waste this opportunity? We do not need two total fuck ups in the family!" Again, Waverly had to admit that Wynonna had a point.

"You're not a total fuck up." Waverly teased but only to cover up the fact that she had accepted Wynonna was right. If she let her mind get taken over by thoughts of Nicole every second of the day she would never do well at school. She had exams coming up in a couple of months and if she didn't do well what was the point of Nicole encouraging her to go to the school she had always wanted to go to in the first place?

 

When Nicole came to visit a few weeks later like they had planned months ago, they had a long conversation about knuckling down and focusing on school. They agreed they wouldn't see each other again until after exams were over and Nicole would pick Waverly up to go home for Winter break. Neither of them were particularly ecstatic about the idea but they both knew it was for the best if they were going to do well. Once they had got the seriousness out of the way, they enjoyed the last couple of days they would be spending together for the next few months.

Eliza was not so easily bribed that time around after coming down with a cold and so Waverly had decided to book them a hotel. She was not willing to go another visit not showing Nicole just how much her body had missed Nicole's.

Waverly tried not to think about how long it would be before she could hold Nicole again. She tried her best to just stay in the moment and enjoy the time they had together, but it was harder than expected. As her head hit the pillow the night before Nicole had to leave, and Nicole's lips travelled the distance from between her thighs, up to her mouth, silent tears fell from Waverly's eyes.

"Baby, what is it?" Nicole wiped at the tears on Waverly's cheeks as she shook her head and tried unsuccessfully to get them to stop. "Waves…"

"I don't want you to go…" Waverly choked out the words as her tears simply came faster.

"I know, baby…I wish I didn't have to go either." Nicole pulled Waverly into her chest and try as she might, Waverly couldn't get her tears to stop. She could hear Nicole's own sniffles as she held on, not willing to fall asleep and miss out on any more time with Nicole until exhaustion took over completely and she couldn't fight it.

 

After Nicole's visit, they blocked out time to call each other as often as they could. Nicole talked about some of the new friends she was making through the LGBT society she had finally decided to join but Waverly struggled not to ask about Shae. She knew she shouldn't be jealous but the fact that she knew Shae liked Nicole still made her uneasy. She figured it was just better not to know if they were spending time together, Nicole hadn't mentioned her though and that made Waverly feel a little better.

Waverly had been doing a lot of thinking, about what she wanted her future to look like. Every single time that they spoke, she thought about telling Nicole, but she didn't want to put any pressure on her. She'd also been thinking about where she really wanted to be, if she had actually made the right decision all those months ago. Again, she didn't know whether or not to say anything to Nicole. If Nicole didn't know about it at all and what she was considering doing didn't end up happening, it might be better.

They switched to FaceTime after a month of calls because Waverly was desperate to see Nicole's face and not just in the pictures they would send back and forth to one another during the day.

When Nicole answered the call, Waverly was sure something was wrong. Nicole didn't look like she was sleeping, she had heavy bags under eyes and her whole demeanor just looked off. Waverly thought she'd noticed it in a few photos that Nicole had shared with her recently, but she could see it far more clearly now. She had been worrying about it, but she just didn't know the best way to bring it up. If Nicole got upset when Waverly brought it up, she wouldn't even be there to help calm her down. She wouldn't be able to forgive herself for doing that to Nicole. Now though, she had to ask. She'd only worry even more if she didn't.

"Baby, are you ok?" Waverly could see Nicole's eyes switch to her own face on the screen, she clearly noticed what Waverly had but she brushed it off.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Nicole smiled but it looked so forced that Waverly's concerns grew instantly.

"I miss you…" Waverly wanted to say more, wanted to say how much she missed holding her, how much she missed having someone around who she felt truly understood her, how much she wanted to turn that fake smile on Nicole's face into a real one, but the way Nicole's face fell when she spoke the words, she knew it was best not to continue down that path. She'd only upset Nicole more than she obviously was already.

"I miss you too." Nicole's voice cracked, and Waverly thought she might be about to cry. "God, I miss you so much, Waverly. This shouldn't be so hard right?"

"I don't know…but it is." Waverly leaned her face on her hand, propped up on her elbow. She hadn't been sure before about getting Nicole's hopes up but clearly Nicole needed something that might cheer her up, get them both through this last stretch before they would see each other in person again. "I've been thinking…"

"When are you not?" Nicole smirked, looking a little more like herself every second they spent talking to each other. Waverly scowled at the screen playfully before carrying on with what she was saying.

"I might transfer next semester…so we're together." Waverly had been thinking about it since Nicole's last visit, ever since Nicole had left her again she'd felt like a piece of her was missing. A piece that she wasn't sure she could survive without.

It wasn't purely for her benefit though, she could see the way Nicole looked even if Nicole was going to deny it and say she was fine. She wasn't fine, and Waverly was worried about her, worried that she'd decide studying away from home wasn't something she could handle. Waverly knew it was her choice to go to a different school, even if Nicole had encouraged her and if Nicole dropped out when Waverly was sure that her being there with her could have stopped it, Waverly had to do something about it.

"What?" Nicole sat up straight from her slouched position and stared wide eyed at Waverly through the screen.

"Yeah, I just…the campus here is amazing and my courses are too but it's just a degree." Waverly stopped herself from mentioning all of the things that she had told Wynonna only days before.

She had told her sister how lonely she was, how the fact that she had bailed out early on so many parties at the start of the year meant that she wasn't getting invited to many anymore. How she'd run into the people she had considered her friends all out for coffee without her. Wynonna had told her she needed to try harder with them, but Waverly didn't have the energy to force herself on people who clearly didn't want her around.

She missed Nicole more than anything but more so for the fact that Nicole was her best friend and while Eliza was great, she didn't have anything on Nicole. She couldn't tell Nicole these things, not when all it would do was make Nicole worry. "I can get my degree anywhere and…I'd much rather be somewhere with you!"

"Baby…" Nicole began shaking her head.

"I haven't started the official process or anything yet, but I've been looking into it." While that was strictly true, Waverly had actually spoken to faculty members at both institutions to talk about the process and things did look promising. She had already been offered a place there once, so no one expected there to be much difficulty in her transfer being accepted. Nicole's face was unreadable though, Waverly thought she would have been ecstatic. Waverly was terrified that she had made a mistake. "Is that not something you'd want?"

"Of course I would, I just…I don't want you screwing up this amazing opportunity just because of me!" Nicole worried her bottom lip between her teeth and Waverly could see the anxiety dripping off of her.

"This would have been an even more amazing opportunity if you had been accepted here too…or if you had just let me come with you in the first place." She added a playful wink with that last part, she knew Nicole hadn't made her do anything. The fact of the matter was that Waverly had decided she made the wrong choice, but she wasn't going to let that ruin both of their happiness any longer. Waverly was certain that she would screw up if she spent the next few years wondering how different things would be if she'd just gone to school with Nicole.

"Waverly, you know I just didn't want you changing everything you'd worked so hard on just for me. It was about your future!" Nicole's expression softened as she spoke, there was a small smile appearing on her lips and Waverly was certain that Nicole had started to realise just how serious Waverly was about all of this.

"I know it was about my future…" Waverly took a deep breath, she wasn't sure how Nicole would take what she had to say next, but Nicole had to know just how serious Waverly was. "So, it's between finishing here or finishing where you are, I'll still have my degree but if I transfer I know I'll still have you as well."

"Waves…" Nicole's face fell, Waverly hated to think about the worst case scenario that might come to pass if her and Nicole continued to have this strain on their relationship but some days it was all she could think about. She hadn't really meant for her little speech to come out sounding like she thought her and Nicole definitely wouldn't make it but the thoughts that worried her on her worst days managed to creep in.

She was terrified that her and Nicole wouldn't last. What if there were more girls like Shae and Waverly reacted the same way? What if it happened again and Nicole was not so understanding and forgiving about it? What if Nicole couldn't handle being away from home for so long, being away from Waverly and her mom and she slipped right back to where she had been before they'd even met? Waverly hated those thoughts, but she couldn't stop herself from having them.

"I worry about you, I know you told me not to, but I can't help it Nicole. You don't look like you're even sleeping properly…" Waverly saw Nicole's brow furrow and she felt bad for even saying it, but it needed to be said. Nicole hadn't told anyone at her school what she'd been through, that was her choice and Waverly totally respected that, but it also meant that there wasn't anyone there who could check up on her.

"I'm not." Nicole said hesitantly, and Waverly bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from crying. "But I'm fine, I can do this Waverly."

"And I really hope that you're right but…I don't know that I can. I don't want to wait and see if we survive this time apart, ok? And I don't want to be worrying about how you're doing when you are so far away from me and I feel like I can't do anything to help."

"This helps baby, you help, even if it's just over the phone." Nicole said firmly, and Waverly knew she was telling the truth but if they were together, it would be different. For both of them. "You don't think we can do this?"

"I want to believe that we can, but…" Waverly gripped the edge of her desk, they had been together for just over a year, but Waverly didn't want to keep her true feelings from Nicole any longer. "I want a future with you Nicole, a really long future but what if we don't make it through this? Does that mean we aren't meant to be together? I don't believe that, and I don't want to wait around to find out!"

"Are you sure?" Nicole's eyes were focused intensely on Waverly, she was clearly looking for any sign of doubt on Waverly's face, but Waverly knew she wouldn't find any.

"I'm sure! Let me do this." Waverly beamed, and she was sure Nicole's face almost split in two from how wide she started smiling. "And next year we can get an apartment together…you still want that, right?"

"More than anything!" Nicole looked happier than Waverly had seen her in months. She still looked tired, but Waverly really hoped that Nicole would be able to get a good night's sleep tonight.

Chapter Text

When Nicole arrived to pick Waverly up for Christmas at home she was already sitting waiting outside her building, surrounded by her bags. She jumped up and down excitedly as Nicole got out of the car and then ran forward to leap into Nicole's arms.

"I missed you!" Waverly said as she wrapped her arms around Nicole's neck. Nicole buried her head into Waverly's shoulder and could feel the tears starting behind her eyes. She had missed Waverly so much that it scared her. She had never relied on anyone nearly as much as she relied on Waverly. She had been trying to do better on her own, open up to friends but she had been so scared of spiraling downwards in the last few weeks of school, even with the knowledge that Waverly wanted to transfer next semester.

Waverly pulled back from their hug and looked at Nicole, her face etched with concern as Nicole let the tears come. She would have been lying to herself if she thought she had been anything but miserable lately, the stress of exams and being away from home, away from Waverly. Waverly noticed of course and that just made Nicole feel worse, she didn't want Waverly to worry about her, but she realised it was inevitable.

She hadn't been sleeping or eating right and she'd all but given up on going to the gym after a few awkward encounters with Shae. She knew it had been helping her but every time she was there, she was reminded of what had happened, how she hadn't told Waverly about Shae, how she hadn't told Shae about Waverly. Waverly seemed to have forgiven her, she really had but that didn't stop Nicole beating herself up over it every time she thought about it.

"Baby…" Waverly ran her hand softly down Nicole's cheek, catching a few of the tears that had fallen.

"They are happy tears, I promise…I've just really missed you. I almost can't believe that you're here right now, right in front of me!" Nicole had been waiting for this day for what felt like years. She hated just speaking to Waverly over the phone or on her laptop, it wasn't the same. Waverly wiped a few more tears from her cheek before leaning in and kissing her softly.

"Let's go home, yeah? Your mom told me she has a surprise for you!" Waverly raised her eyebrows with a cheeky smile.

"What?" Nicole laughed, she hadn't realised that her mom and Waverly spoke to each other without Nicole present. Her mom hadn't mentioned it on the numerous phone calls and she called her mom nearly as often as she did Waverly. She knew her mom had been worried about her and calling to check in was definitely helping her mom worry less about how Nicole was doing away from home.

Nicole had learned her lesson when it came to keeping things from her mom and she had been totally honest about how hard she was finding things. She offered to come and visit if Nicole needed but Nicole didn't want her taking time off work. Nicole was also pretty sure that the moment her mom saw her in person, she would realise how bad things had been and she might have even taken Nicole home. Nicole couldn't let that happen. "Should you even be telling me if it's a surprise?"

"Well she told me not to tell you what it was, not that I couldn't say she had a surprise!" Waverly winked and tried to pull herself out of their hug, no doubt to get her bags into Nicole's car but Nicole wasn't quite ready.

"Wait!" Nicole tugged her closer and rested their foreheads together. "I just want to hold you a little longer!" Nicole smiled, and Waverly settled into the embrace, they had a couple hours to drive and Nicole needed to soak in Waverly's touch before that.

Waverly got her things into Nicole's car, just. She had so much stuff and Nicole was glad she didn't pack that much for the few weeks she'd be at home. Once settled in the car and their journey home began, Nicole tried desperately to get Waverly to tell her what the surprise was, but Waverly wouldn't reveal anything.

Eventually she gave up and they talked about Waverly's exams first and then Nicole's. Waverly was certain she'd done well in all of hers, but Nicole was a little worried about one of her own. She'd had a particularly restless night's sleep beforehand and even with an encouraging text from Waverly in the morning, she wasn't sure she did as well as she could have.

As soon as they passed the 'Welcome to Purgatory' sign, Nicole felt all the stress and unhappiness she had been feeling for weeks leave her body, she was home. It was as if Waverly could tell or maybe just felt exactly the same. She reached over and squeezed Nicole's hand before giving her a beautiful smile, they kept their hands locked together the rest of the way until Nicole had to pull into Waverly's driveway.

Gus was out the door and hugging Waverly before Nicole even managed to get out of the car and then as soon as she was out, Gus enveloped her in a hug as well. Wynonna stood by the doorway and waved as the rest of them helped take Waverly's stuff out of the car and into the house. Nicole thought about telling Wynonna she should help but it probably would not have made a difference anyway. After all of Waverly's things were up in her room, they made their way to Nicole's.

"You could have come over in a bit, y'know? Spent some time at home before dinner later." Nicole looked over at Waverly who was staring down at her phone.

"No chance! I want to see your face when the big reveal happens!" Waverly grinned excitedly and brought her phone up to her ear. "Hey, Susan. Yeah, we've just left so we'll see you in a few…No, she has absolutely no idea, I told you I'm great with surprises!" Waverly giggled as she tucked a strand of loose hair behind Nicole's ear. Nicole wasn't sure how she felt about her mom and her girlfriend having secrets that didn't include her, even if they were surprises. As soon as Waverly had put down the phone, Nicole pushed her speed just a little over the limit, so they could get to her house faster as Waverly laughed from the passenger seat.

"Mom, we're here!" Nicole dumped her bag by the front door and started undoing her laces.

"Just a second, sweetheart!" Her mom shouted from through the back of the house. "Now, stay…crap!" Her mom's lowered voice still managed to make it the front door and suddenly Nicole could hear tiny footsteps making their way towards her and Waverly. When she saw the puppy bounding towards her, with her mom hot on its trail, she almost screamed with joy. It was so fluffy and tiny, Nicole didn't think she'd ever seen a cuter dog in her entire life.

"Oh my god! He's even cuter in person!" Waverly squealed, and Nicole quickly brushed past the jealousy that Waverly knew all about it before her as she got down on the floor to let the puppy crawl all over her, licking her face as she laughed uncontrollably.

"You got a dog?" Nicole smiled up at her mom as she tried to control the tiny wriggling creature in her arms, but it was so excited it just kept jumping out of her arms to lick her all over again. Her mom simply shrugged, and Nicole shook her head. "Why couldn't we get one before, when I actually lived here? I always asked!"

"Yeah…we should have! Look at him!" Her mom laughed as Waverly got down on the floor next to Nicole and the puppy launched himself into her arms. "If you still want to find an apartment off campus next year and manage to find one that allows pets, I was thinking you could take him with you!"

"What?!" Nicole stared up at her mom, stunned.

"After summer, you can take him with you when you go back to school…if you want to." Her mom shrugged again like she hadn't just given Nicole the gift she had wanted literally her entire childhood. Nicole got off the floor, wiping the few hairs that had made their way onto her clothing before staring back at her mom in disbelief.

"You didn't get him for you?" Nicole had to be absolutely certain she wasn't imagining the whole thing. Her mom shook her head and rested a hand on Nicole's shoulder.

"I know it's been tough for you, being away from home and I thought he'd help but having a puppy puppy and going to school isn't a great mix so I thought I'd get him now, train him, he can get to know you and then ta-da! I don't actually need to get you anything as a house warming gift, when you've got your own place!" Her mom winked, and Nicole pulled her in for a hug. It was probably the best gift she'd ever received.

"Thank you, seriously!" Nicole squeezed her mom tight before releasing her.

"Waverly's the one you should be thanking…she sent me a link to an article about how caring for a dog can help with anxiety." Her mom looked down affectionately at Waverly, still on the floor playing with the puppy. Telling him how good a boy he was over and over.

"Well clearly she had ulterior motives!" Nicole laughed, if her and Waverly were going to be living together than Nicole's dog would become their dog and that made Nicole feel warm all over. They would have a dog, together. When Nicole's gaze went back to her mom, she saw only confusion there at what Nicole had just said. Clearly Waverly hadn't mentioned that in all their secret phone calls. "Waverly's been thinking of transferring."

"To be with you?" Her mom's eyes lit up and Nicole nodded. "Waverly, why didn't you say anything?"

"It's not set in stone yet." Waverly shrugged, and Nicole felt a knot tighten in her chest. She thought that Waverly had been trying to get it sorted for the following semester, there wasn't much time left if she hadn't done it yet. It had been one of the few things getting Nicole through her exams but now it seemed like Waverly wasn't treating it seriously. She figured with all the stuff Waverly had taken back with her, it meant it was finalized. Nicole tried to shake the worries from her mind but they clung to her, maybe Waverly had decided it wasn't worth it. Waverly jumped up from the floor and wrapped an arm around Nicole's waist. "Can we take him for a walk? Oh, and you need to think of a name, Nicole!"

"Well we just got back a little while ago but by all means, he's got endless energy!" Her mom laughed and reached up behind them for the harness and lead. "Make sure you get him to sit before you cross any roads and give him one of these, every time he does." She handed Nicole a bag of treats from her pocket before attaching the harness. Nicole watched carefully so she would be able to put it on herself next time.

 

As they walked through the streets, stopping at every road and giving the puppy a treat, Waverly tried to come up with names for him. By the time they made it to the park, Nicole had decided on one of the names that Waverly had suggested, Murphy. Nicole loved it and they instantly started using it, so he could get used to it. It would no doubt take him a while before he registered that it was actually his name because apparently her mom had been calling him 'buddy' since she took him home a few days earlier.

Going through the park, people they recognized smiled as they walked by and they weren't just smiling at Waverly but Nicole too. It all felt so right, being back home with Waverly and stopping to chat with people that they knew, usually Waverly better than Nicole but they still asked both of them how school was going, the knot got tighter every time Waverly said nothing about potentially transferring to a different school. She tried her best not to focus on it as everyone they met asked if they could pet Murphy, Waverly was probably just being polite and didn't feel the need to tell everyone about her life choices. Nicole couldn't quite believe how comfortable she felt making small talk with people she barely knew. She had always avoided eye contact as she walked the streets of Purgatory before but now, she didn't feel like she needed to.

On their way back, they bumped into Sheriff Nedley who was equally enamoured with Murphy as everyone else they had met while they were out. Waverly asked if Chrissy was still coming to meet them later that evening at Shorty's and he confirmed she'd just got home from school the day before as he gave Murphy a good scratch.

He asked Waverly how school was going for her before asking Nicole the same. When he heard what course Nicole was doing, he asked what her plans were for after school. She answered truthfully, not really knowing what she wanted to do but he told her to let him know when she decided. She didn't really understand why he was so interested in her career choice considering they had only met a few times before, he hadn't even asked Waverly what she wanted to do after school and he'd known her practically all her life.

 

Nicole really was surprised that she didn't feel a hint of panic or anxiety the whole time they were out. Stopping and speaking to people who she didn't know all that well, it didn't bother her at all. Walking hand in hand with Waverly down the streets and in the park, didn't make her scared of what people might say. Even when a car backfired somewhere down the street from them and Murphy jumped at the noise, Waverly instantly checked on her, but Nicole just smiled as she promised she was fine. Actually, she was better than fine. Now that she thought about it, although she hadn't exactly been happy while she was away at school, she hadn't had a full blown panic attack in months. She definitely still had moments where she could feel one coming, standing outside her exams waiting to go in had been particularly bad, but everything she had learned to help deal with them and calm her down had actually started to work.

She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to do after school, but she hoped that Waverly would be happy coming back to Purgatory. Somewhere Nicole was never sure she would call home when she first arrived, but it was more home than anywhere she'd ever lived.

School couldn't be home without her mom, where she grew up could never be home again with all the bad memories attached to it, but Purgatory was where her life changed for the better in so many ways she hadn't planned for.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

They had decided to eat at Shorty's before everyone else arrived to catch up, Waverly was excited to see everyone and hear how they were doing. Chrissy had moved to Calgary for school, Steph had decided to stay in Purgatory and had been working at her mom's real estate company as a receptionist and from the few conversations her and Waverly had while she was away, really seemed to be enjoying it. She was even saving up enough money for her own place in town. Xavier was working on a farm one town over, saving up money to go through the police academy but he would be home for a few months over Christmas. Even Jeremy was going to swing by at some point and say hi. For now though, it was just the two of them and a whole bunch of food that Shorty said was on the house.

"What did Nedley mean earlier?" Nicole asked before taking a bite of the last fry that Waverly was holding out for her. Waverly laughed as Nicole kissed the fingers that had just been holding it before remembering that she had asked her a question.

"What?" Waverly couldn't believe she was even asking that, Nedley was the Sheriff, he wanted to know what Nicole wanted to do after school, clearly, he wanted to know if she'd ever thought about law enforcement. "He meant, let him know if you want a job."

"What?!" Nicole's eyes went wide. Had she really not picked up on that?

"Well you are studying criminal behaviour, baby. A lot of people go on to do something that involves criminals after that…" Waverly watched as the cogs turned in Nicole's head. Waverly could have giggled at how obvious it was when Nicole finally understood what Nedley had meant.

"He thinks I want to be a cop?" Nicole's stunned look was almost comical, her mouth hanging open and her eyes bulging.

"Well, what do you want to do?" Waverly asked, they hadn't spoken too much about their plans for after school. Both of them were more concerned about actually making it through to graduating.

"I don't know…could I even be a cop? I've not exactly got the um…" Nicole looked like she was trying to find the right word, but Waverly understood where her mind was going and reached across the table to take her hand.

"I think you could be anything you want to be, Nicole." Waverly wasn't lying. Nicole was doing so much better in terms of her anxiety, Waverly could see it now they were together again even if she had been worried about how Nicole had been doing recently. She'd kept a close eye on her while they were out walking Murphy just in case she needed to come up with an excuse to leave a conversation, but Nicole had seemed so much more at ease than she'd ever seen her. Maybe it had something to do with being back home or maybe it had something to do with having Waverly back at her side. Whatever it was, Nicole had a couple of years to get even better if she decided that Nedley's offer was something she might want to consider.

"Would you want to come back here? After school?" Nicole held Waverly's gaze intently, there was another question burning behind her eyes. Would Waverly come back to Purgatory with her?

"Well Purgatory is my home but…" Waverly saw Nicole deflate at that and she realised she'd said the wrong thing. Of course, she wanted to come home after school, she just didn't realise before today that Nicole might want that too. She squeezed Nicole's hand. "I'm going where you're going. If it's here, if it's a million miles away. I always wanted to stay in Purgatory but not if that's not where you are." Waverly smiled, and Nicole lit up.

"Purgatory is good, it's home." Nicole nodded, and Waverly's smile grew immensely.

"Yeah but anywhere with you would be too." Waverly said seriously, and Nicole leaned over the table to kiss her.

"Ugh, guys! Come on, not in front of the food!" Wynonna scooted in beside Nicole, knocking them apart as they kissed before she picked up Waverly's burger from her plate and took a bite. Waverly snatched it out of her hands, telling her sister to order her own damn food.

The rest of their evening was perfect, catching up with everyone and playing pool. Waverly was enjoying herself, but she also just wanted to take Nicole home. It had been too long since they held each other, took the other apart and it was all she could think about as she watched Nicole lean over the pool table. She'd actually managed to get a lot better, but Wynonna was still beating her, just not by quite as much this time. After Nicole had taken her shot and passed the cue back to Wynonna, Waverly walked over and whispered in her ear.

"Want to get out of here?" She thought Nicole might protest just a little, she actually had a chance to win against Wynonna for the first time ever seeing as Wynonna had just missed her shot and was holding the cue out for Nicole to take. Instead she took the cue and pushed it into Xavier's hand, grabbed her coat and took Waverly's hand in one fluid movement. Waverly grinned ear to ear at her girlfriend's eagerness, at least she wasn't the only one dying for some alone time. Waverly called over her shoulder as they made their exit, saying goodbye to everyone.

"Yeah, bye!" Nicole barely even turned her head, her eyes fixed firmly on the door in front of her and a solid grip on Waverly's hand.

"Remember, sock on the door handle, babygirl!" Wynonna shouted after them and Waverly flipped her off, she was never going to live that down.

"My mom's totally cool with you staying over whenever from now on, so…" Nicole leaned in to whisper into Waverly's ear and just the warm breath on her neck was enough to make her whimper.

"Thank god!" Waverly groaned, and Nicole laughed as they pushed through the exit. The pair of them giggled as they ran to Nicole's car and Waverly really wasn't sure if she was going to make it until they got back to Nicole's house. She gripped Nicole's thigh the whole way home and both of them were relieved to see all the lights out in the house when they got there.

They barely made it inside the house before their kissing grew heated and Waverly was about ready to pull her clothes off before Nicole reminded her they should probably wait until they were actually in her room.

It turned out that Murphy wasn't the only surprise that Susan had got Nicole. When they got into her room, a gorgeous new double bed was sitting in the spot where Nicole's old single used to be. By the look on Nicole's face, she already knew about it and she shot Waverly a sly smile before pulling Waverly down with her as she fell backwards onto it, capturing her lips as they went.

Waverly already knew she was unbelievably happy to be home but something about coming undone by Nicole's hands and then bringing Nicole right along with her really cemented that fact. They lay in Nicole's new bed, totally spent and stared happily into each other's eyes for an unknown amount of time before Waverly cuddled herself right into Nicole, ready to sleep in her arms for the first time in months.

"I missed this, it's been so hard not thinking about it." Waverly sighed, totally content as Nicole wrapped her arms securely around her body. She had tried not to think too much about being with Nicole like that, it made it harder to concentrate on almost everything.

She had allowed herself a few nights when Eliza was out of the dorm where her mind had roamed freely, imagining all the things she wanted to do to Nicole when she saw her again, or things she wanted Nicole to do to her. She'd almost been caught once when Eliza forgot her phone and came back into the dorm roughly twenty minutes after she had left. Luckily Waverly was able to feign being asleep until she had left again.

"I missed it too!" Nicole kissed the top of Waverly's head softly and pulled the covers more snuggly around the two of them. This time Waverly actually thought they might sleep, she'd quickly thrown off the covers the last time Nicole had pulled them up because she was definitely not done showing Nicole how much she'd missed her.

"What did you miss the most?" Waverly asked, genuinely intrigued as to what Nicole would say. She'd had a lot of time to think about what she wanted to do when they saw each other again and the same few ideas would always reappear over and over again.

"Honestly?" Nicole asked, and Waverly nodded. "I missed the way you look at me…like I'm something incredible, like you always can't quite believe it's actually happening." Nicole spoke so sincerely that Waverly's breathe caught in her throat. She had no idea she looked at Nicole like that, she obviously felt that way, but she didn't realise that her face showed it so clearly.

"You are incredible, Nicole." Waverly adjusted herself, so she could look Nicole in the eye, but Nicole's focus drifted away to the ceiling.

"I don't always feel incredible…sometimes I don't even feel like I'm worth anything at all, but you help me believe that I can be." Nicole shook her head and held Waverly even tighter than before. "I don't know where I'd be without you, Waverly."

"Hey…" Waverly held Nicole's face in her palms and smoothed her thumbs over Nicole's skin until she held Waverly's gaze again. "You are definitely incredible and even without me, you would still be incredible, ok? I didn't help you be anything you wouldn't have figured out on your own eventually! I'm proud of you, so proud you wouldn't even believe!"

"I believe you." Nicole smiled and pulled Waverly down to kiss her sweetly. Waverly settled her head against Nicole's chest after their lips pulled apart, listening to the steady heartbeat and letting it lull her to sleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waking up with Murphy right in her face was something Nicole could absolutely get used to. The sight made her so happy it was ridiculous. Waverly on the other hand, pulled the covers over her head with a groan, which only seemed to spur him on. Tugging at the covers to get at her face so he could lick it until Waverly managed to wrestle them out of his mouth and over her face again. Waverly might have been a morning person but she certainly liked her wake up calls to be a little less exuberant.

"Ok, Murphy! We'll see you in a bit!" Nicole got out of bed with a laugh, picked him up and pointed him in the direction of her mom's room, where she could hear her getting ready for the day. She waited until she heard her mom cooing at him before shutting the door. She nearly tripped over some of their discarded clothing from the night before in her hurry to get back under the covers, it was far too cold to be walking about with just her underwear on.

As soon as she got back into bed, Waverly rolled on top of her and kissed her collarbone before a notification from her phone sounded. She reached over Nicole to grab it and leaned back against Nicole's chest as she checked it. Nicole ran her hands through Waverly's hair as she had a text conversation with whoever it was. It had been the little things like that she had missed, walking up next to Waverly, being able to just feel Waverly's body against her own. Of course, she missed everything else as well but just the contentment she felt from being in Waverly's orbit was what Nicole had been craving more than anything.

"Ugh, Wynonna says Gus wants us to come over for breakfast." Waverly set her phone down on the mattress and pushed it away from her.

"You don't want to go?" Nicole asked, leaving a small trail of kisses on Waverly's shoulder. She thought she would have missed spending time with Gus and Wynonna, she had barely seen Gus the day before and Wynonna had been too busy teasing Xavier about wanting to become a cop at Shorty's to have much real conversation with Waverly.

"I do…but I don't want to leave this bed!" Waverly snuggled further into Nicole which elicited a massive grin from Nicole. She couldn't believe they had a few weeks of that, but she also couldn't stop thinking about how hard it was going to be if Waverly didn't transfer. She'd brushed it off so casually when they'd spoken to her mom about it and Nicole just hoped that Waverly hadn't changed her mind. Waking up with Waverly beside her again, she didn't want that to end and every single time they had to say goodbye was worse than the time before. She didn't want there to have to be another one. Nicole hadn't been brave enough to bring it up the night before and if Waverly had changed her mind, Nicole thought it might be better to live in blissful ignorance for the rest of the holidays.

 

Eventually they got out of bed and dressed to head over to Waverly's for breakfast with Gus and Wynonna. Nicole gushed all about Murphy as Wynonna and Gus looked over the million pictures she had taken on their walk to the park. Nicole could feel Waverly watching her and when she looked over, Waverly was sitting smiling lovingly as she propped her head up with an elbow on the table just watching her. Nicole winked at her and she blushed at being caught staring.

Wynonna insisted she come over to meet Murphy that afternoon, but Nicole had decided a couple weeks back to set up an appointment for when she was home with her psychiatrist. She was feeling better than she had been when she set it up, but she figured it couldn't hurt to check in, she also had some questions about her options for the future.

 

"Do you think I could be a cop?" Nicole asked almost as soon as she was settled into the familiar office with Dr Kinnaird.

"Do you want to be a police officer?" She seemed a little taken aback by the abrupt question but interested nonetheless.

"I don't know…the Sheriff is a friend's dad and he found out what I'm studying and asked me to let him know what I'm doing after I graduate…but he doesn't know about all this!" Nicole gestured at herself and then around her. She wasn't really sure what would constitute as something that would hold her back from joining the police academy.

"Well how about we talk about all of this first." Dr Kinnaird suggested and they spoke about how Nicole had been at school. She admitted that it had been hard, away from her mom, Waverly, her weekly appointments, somewhere she felt safe, but she also told her that being back in Purgatory, she felt safer than ever and she thought it might even help once she was back at school. Nicole smiled as she revealed that she didn't even jump when a car backfired the day before, something that a year ago would have sent her very quickly into a panic attack.

"Well that is progress." Dr Kinnaird smiled wide with a nod. "Ok, so why is the police officer idea sticking with you? You've never mentioned it before."

"I don't really know." Nicole wasn't lying, she had never dreamed that it was a career she would even remotely consider but something just felt right about it. "I like helping people I guess, protecting people."

"And the idea of a firearm, does that make you nervous?"

"I don't know…I've never really been around guns." Nicole had never been hunting or even knew anyone that did. She'd never really had any desire to fire a gun, but she did know that was something police officers sometimes had to do.

"Well police work is a lot more than that obviously but maybe that could be an issue you'd need to face. People also don't always like police officers. They can say horrible things about them, how do you think you might deal with that?" Dr Kinnaird was asking the questions that needed to be asked but she didn't seem like she was trying to put Nicole off the idea, more help her figure out if this was something she really wanted.

"I don't know…I'd have to be stronger…mentally, but I feel like I'm getting there." Even with her setbacks during her time away at school, she still wasn't anywhere near where she was before coming to her first appointment.

She had pushed herself to try new things, she had made a few friends and she had made herself hang out with them until she felt like she wasn't forcing herself to anymore. Joining the LGBT society had really helped and everyone was really welcoming. She regretted not joining as soon as she got to school. Even though she was still struggling to be as happy as she had been when she was back in Purgatory, in high school with Waverly every day, she had to admit that she was still happier than she had been before she even moved to Purgatory and that was enough for Nicole to admit that she was still making progress.

"You do seem to be doing well, Nicole." Dr Kinnaird smiled genuinely and Nicole returned it happily.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly had decided to wait and tell Nicole on Christmas day, but then Nicole walked in while Waverly was on the phone finalizing her accommodation for the following semester and the surprise came early.

Waverly finished the call with a massive smile on her face as Nicole's brain caught up with what she had just heard, and a fantastic grin stretched from ear to ear. She threw herself back onto Waverly's bed with her hands behind her head, not taking her eyes off of Waverly.

"So…" Waverly said after placing the phone down and crawling towards Nicole on the bed. "I wanted it to be a surprise."

"I'm still surprised." Nicole sighed as she bit her lip and pulled Waverly into her side.

"I know but like a Christmas present, surprise." Waverly pouted, she wanted to wrap up Nicole's present with her transfer confirmation letter inside for her to find.

"This is the best present I'll get, I'm sure." Nicole pulled Waverly in for a kiss, but Waverly paused.

"Even better than Murph?" Waverly smirked, she knew Nicole didn't like the nickname Wynonna had come up with.

"Yes, but only if you stop calling him that!" Nicole laughed and pulled Waverly forward again, this time Nicole stopped before connecting their lips. "You're absolutely positive you want to do this, right? I thought since you hadn't mentioned it maybe you'd changed your mind…" Waverly grimaced and realized that maybe it shouldn't have been something she kept from Nicole, she should have known that Nicole would start worrying that Waverly wasn't going to do it after all.

"Sorry…maybe I should have told you before." Waverly hadn't exactly planned to keep it from Nicole until Christmas but when Nicole hadn't asked her about it, she thought it might be a nice idea. "You didn't think it was weird I took everything home with me?" Waverly gave Nicole a questioning smile, she was sure that Nicole was going to ask her as soon as she saw the amount of stuff she had to take back to Purgatory with her. If she had asked, Waverly would have told her right there and then but maybe Nicole had just been so focused on them being together again that everything else took a backseat. Or maybe Nicole really thought that Waverly had not been serious, the thought instantly made Waverly feel guilty.

"I did think it was a lot of stuff for a couple weeks." Nicole laughed a shake of her head and Waverly leaned forward to place a quick peck to her lips. "I guess part of me was just waiting for you to change your mind…"

"Never…ok?" Waverly looked deep into Nicole's eyes and smiled brightly when she nodded. "I'm gonna be in your building…"

"I heard…" Nicole raised an eyebrow and gave Waverly a cheeky grin, it calmed all of Waverly's worries that Nicole was actually upset that she'd kept it from her.

"And the only room available was a single…" Waverly licked her lips as she walked her fingers up Nicole's stomach, that had been an added bonus she really was not expecting.

"Ok, that might be the best present!" Nicole laughed and flipped them over, so she was hovering above Waverly, lip between her teeth. "And you're really really sure?"

"Nicole, I want to be where you are! Don't you know how crazy I am about you?" Waverly asked softly, searching Nicole's eyes for any indication that she didn't know that Waverly would do absolutely anything for her.

"Sometimes I just can't even believe someone like you wants to be with me…" Nicole's face turned pensive, she looked so vulnerable and it made Waverly's chest ache.

"Hey…" Waverly reached her hands up to cup Nicole's face, she stroked her thumbs gently across her cheeks and held Nicole's gaze, so she knew just how genuinely she meant the next words she was going to speak. "Believe it, 'cause I don't ever want to be with anyone but you!" Nicole stared at her for a few moments, Waverly hoped she was absorbing just how much Waverly meant that and suddenly she was crashing their lips together. It was messy, too much teeth as neither one of them could fight their smiles but it was perfect anyway.

 

Before Waverly knew it, they were heading to school, together and it felt right. She should have just done it in the first place. Nicole had Waverly's future in mind and Waverly really had too but she knew if she hadn't have done this, she could end up regretting it for the rest of her life. Moving to be with Nicole, she could never regret that.

The reactions she got from a few people at school when she revealed she wouldn't be back the following semester were interesting. Eliza was the only one that seemed genuinely happy for her, she knew it was what Waverly wanted and while both agreed that they would miss living together, they promised to keep in touch.

The rest of her classmates she told couldn't understand why she would move to a less esteemed institution when she'd got into such a great school. Waverly didn't care about any of that, not really. She didn't like the assumption that just because a school was harder to get into it meant that it was where Waverly should have wanted to go. The course she was about to start sounded fascinating, she was even a little disappointed that she had missed the first semesters curriculum, but she had looked up all the reading and decided it wouldn't be too hard to get it under her belt in her spare time.

The journey was full of excitement for what the rest of the school year would hold, for both Waverly and Nicole. It was clear to Waverly that Nicole was beyond ecstatic to have Waverly with her, she kept turning and smiling as they drove like she couldn't quite believe it was actually happening.

"You're gonna show me around right? Show me all the best coffee places?" Waverly laced their fingers together as a sign came into view, informing them their journey was almost over.

"Uh huh, I can start today! Once we've got you moved in, I'll take you to my favourite coffee spot!" Nicole lifted Waverly's hand and kissed it softly before nuzzling her nose against it. Waverly giggled as she pulled her hand away, encouraging Nicole to keep her attention on the road. "They do this amazing cold brew, you're gonna love it!"

"I'm really glad I did this!" Waverly sighed, looking out the car window as the city that would be her home for the next few years came into view.

"Me too." Nicole laid her hand on Waverly thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze.

It didn't take long for them to get Waverly moved in, after realizing the amount of stuff she brought to her first dorm was way too much, Waverly decided to be more sensible this time around. When they got their own place, they could bring everything else they wanted but for now, what she had was more than enough. She even had a spare drawer after putting all her clothes away and she happily told Nicole that she could bring a few things down from her room to live in there for nights she wanted to stay over.

"If you think I'm ever sleeping in my own room again, you are insane!" Nicole laughed as she gently maneuvered the both of them onto Waverly's bed. They were very quickly and very rudely interrupted by a knock on the door, the RA had come to introduced herself. She recognized Nicole immediately and said she was glad Waverly had already made a friend.

"Nicole's actually my girlfriend, I kind of moved here to be with her!" Waverly smiled as she took Nicole's hand and noticed a small blush along with a smile on Nicole's face.

"Wow, that's…really cute! I'll let you get back to settling in, just holler if you ever need anything!" She waved goodbye with a smile and a little shake of her head as she headed back down the hall. Waverly watched until she saw which room she went into just in case she ever did need anything before pushing Nicole back into the room to resume what had been interrupted.

 

Thoroughly in need of some caffeine, they headed along to Nicole's suggested coffee shop. It was super cute, and Waverly instantly could see why Nicole liked it so much. The music was nice and low, the tables were all spaced nicely apart even though it was relatively small, and they had an insane selection of coffees and teas to choose from. Waverly knew on the days that Nicole was feeling particularly anxious she would usually forgo caffeinated drinks in favour of something a little more calming. Clearly, she was having a good day, or she just really needed the energy boost because she got herself a large cold brew.

They sat in a booth near the back, Nicole with her arm draped over Waverly's shoulders and people-watched while they drank their coffee and nibbled on a muffin they'd got to share. Waverly stiffened when she saw Shae entering the shop until she saw that she was walking hand in hand with another girl. She looked really happy as they flirted back and forth in the queue, not even noticing Nicole and Waverly sitting in the corner. Waverly felt herself actually being happy for her and not just because it meant that she probably wasn't interested in Nicole anymore. She wanted everyone to have what she had with Nicole, everyone deserved that kind of love.

"She seems nice." Nicole whispered in her ear and Waverly knew she'd been busted staring. She turned to face Nicole with a slight blush on her cheeks and nodded. "I've only seen pictures of the two of them on Facebook but they look happy."

"Yeah, they do." Waverly leaned back into Nicole's side before reaching up and kissing her cheek, she leaned back just as Nicole's dimples came on display before moving back in and kissing them.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nicole couldn't get over how happy it made her that Waverly had fit in so seamlessly to her life at university. She joined the LGBT society with her and even found a few others she was interested in and joined those too. Waverly found some kindred spirits among the history buffs and Nicole found she actually got along with them quite well too.

Nicole thought it was important that even though Waverly was there with her now, she needed to have her own friends. She couldn't just have Nicole, even if she was the reason she had transferred. Now that they were spending almost every night together, they needed to have their own lives outside of each other even if it was only for a few hours before they were back together, sleeping soundly in each other's arms.

Nicole rarely spent the night in her own dorm, only when one of them had a particularly demanding paper or test the following day did they decide that having a night to themselves was the best idea. Even then, sometimes Waverly would call Nicole once she had finished her work and Nicole would make her way down to crawl into bed beside her. Nicole figured it was great practice for when they would be living together, knowing when the other needed some space and recognizing when they really didn't.

The monthly LGBT society's party had become one of their favourite outings together, they could let loose and ignore their work for one night and maybe the next morning depending on how late the night went on for. The third time they had attended, Shae and her new girlfriend appeared. There was a little awkwardness at first but when Waverly introduced herself to Shae's girlfriend and ended up getting along like a house on fire, it seemed to dissipate a little.

Nicole watched happily as Waverly was explaining something from one of her classes to the pair until Shae slipped away and stood next to her.

"Hey." Shae smiled, they had already greeted each other so clearly Nicole wasn't the only one feeling the lingering awkwardness between them. Shae had added her on Facebook a good few months back and not wanting to be rude, Nicole had accepted. She thought it would help things feel more normal between them again but when neither of them made any effort to actually speak to each other on it, it almost made it more awkward than it had been before.

"Hey, yourself." Nicole nodded, taking a sip from her beer as she tried to think of something else to say. She couldn't even remember what they used to talk about all the times they had worked out together. "Rebecca seems really nice."

"Yeah, she's great." Shae wrapped both of her hands around her glass and took a deep breath. Nicole could sense what was coming a mile off and she prepared herself as well. Maybe it would have been easier to have this conversation online rather than in person. "Look, I really am sorry if I made you or Waverly uncomfortable before…that wasn't my intention and if I'd known you were with someone…" Shae grimaced as she spoke, trailing off and taking a drink from her glass of wine.

"Waverly was just a little pissed I hadn't told you I was in a relationship…sorry I kind of avoided you afterwards." Nicole leaned herself back against the table behind her, things didn't have to be awkward with Shae and Nicole could still be perfectly friendly with her if it was something that didn't make Waverly uncomfortable. "Honestly, I didn't even realise you were gay…let alone interested in me!"

"Yeah, I figured!" Shae laughed softly and joined Nicole in her more relaxed demeanor. "You really don't see how great you are, do you?" Shae turned to look at Nicole face on and while her words could have come across a little flirty considering Shae's previous interested in her, Nicole could only see genuine concern on her face.

"Not really…" Nicole admitted, ducking her head and looking back over to where Waverly stood. A smile tugging at the corner of her mouth as Waverly's hands flew about in between herself and Rebecca. Nicole couldn't even guess what it was she was trying to explain to her now. "She helps me see it though."

"I'm glad. You think you'd ever come back to the gym with me? I do kinda miss hanging out with you." Shae kept her focus on her girlfriend as she spoke, a smile on both of their lips as Rebecca seemingly had lost the point of whatever it was Waverly was saying. Nicole knew that feeling well, it was hard to keep up with her sometimes.

"Maybe…I'll think about it." Nicole tapped her beer against Shae's wine glass and decided she would actually consider it but not before speaking with Waverly first.

 

In the little spare time they had between school work and their other activities, they managed to fit in a decent amount of apartment hunting. It didn't prove easy to find somewhere to rent that would allow Murphy and was somewhere they could actually afford. Even though Nicole knew her mom would be more than happy to keep him until they did manage to find somewhere, she really wanted Murphy to come and live with them. The idea of sharing a home together was great by itself but adding him into the mix would be so blissfully domestic and Nicole desperately wanted that. She wanted that for the rest of her life.

They finally managed to find somewhere, not too expensive and pet friendly just before exams began and it somehow managed to distract them both from all the stress of actually sitting them while also giving them motivation to pass so they could actually come back the following school year.

 

"So, me and Waves found an apartment for next year!" Nicole beamed as she sat down in amongst her friends at their go-to coffee shop. They had all finished up their exams and it was their first time hanging out since Nicole and Waverly had signed the lease to their first apartment. She had been desperate to tell them all and nearly let it slip in their group chat on more than one occasion, but she wanted to see their reactions in person. She was pretty sure they all loved Waverly, maybe even liked her more than they did Nicole sometimes, but Nicole needed some reassurance that they weren't moving too fast. "It's not too soon to move in together, right?"

A chorus of 'no's followed Nicole's question and she smiled around the table. Personally, she didn't think it was too soon, but she did value her friend's opinions. Nicole wasn't sure if she believed in soulmates, but she knew if there was just one person out there for her, she wanted that person to be Waverly and really, wasn't that all that mattered? It couldn't be too soon for them, if they were meant to be together then it would always work out. She'd obviously been lost in her thoughts for longer than she realised because light laughter spread around the table and she blushed, coming back to reality.

"Just remember we all want invitations to that wedding you were obviously just planning in your head! We all want to see this Purgatory you're both so crazy about!" One of her friends teased and Nicole tried to cover up her nerves with a laugh of her own. She would be lying if she said she hadn't thought about it. Waverly in a beautiful white dress, Nicole in something that would pale in comparison, but she knew that was still a good while off. They had all the time in the world to plan what their life together would look like.

Chapter Text

After their successful first academic year, Waverly and Nicole decided only to go back to Purgatory for a few weeks during summer. Waverly was worried that it was going to be a tough decision, she knew how much Nicole had loved being back over winter break but they both needed to find jobs after securing their first apartment together. Thankfully, Nicole was just as excited as Waverly was about moving into their place, and with the promise that Susan, Gus and Wynonna would all come to visit at some point, it made it a lot easier to have such a short time back home.

As soon as they got back from Purgatory and settled into their new place, it was Susan's turn to come visit and she brought Murphy to his new home. He was so excited to see Nicole and Waverly couldn't help herself imagining what it would be like if they raised something else together. She'd always known that Nicole had so much love to give, she felt it all the time but seeing it play out before her eyes, that filled her heart with a warmth she didn't ever want to lose.

When Susan left a few days later, Murphy was understandably sad. It was what they had all expected but as soon as Nicole suggested she take him for a walk, he perked up considerably. Their apartment was just down the street from a dog park where he could run and play off the lead, he was great with other dogs even if he did get a little overexcited sometimes.

Waverly decided to stay behind and sort out their living room. Something about it just didn't feel right yet and so she moved the couch from one side of the room to the other, moved the TV and the coffee table. When she lay down on the couch, a little sweaty from the exertion, it finally felt right. It felt like something that was theirs .

It wasn't a massive apartment, but they did have a spare room for when people would come visit and it was close enough to campus that they could easily come back during the day to check up on Murphy, feed and walk him in-between classes once they'd started up again.

 

Waverly managed to find herself a job at a bar close-by, no doubt thanks to the slightly exaggerated recommendation from Shorty when they'd called to check up on her references. The clientele were friendly and far better tippers than back home, but she was always happiest when she was able to crawl into bed after work every night. More often than not having to shove Murphy off her side before she could snuggle into Nicole.

"How was work?" Nicole mumbled, clearly just woken up thanks to the noise Waverly had caused by moving Murphy.

"It was fine…I don't think my sleeping schedule is ever going to recover after this summer though." Waverly yawned as she ran her hand slowly up and down Nicole's back, she'd been looking forward to snuggling up beside her even before her shift had started.

"Mmhmm, tell me about it." Nicole replied as she drifted of to sleep again. She'd got herself a job as a barista at the coffee shop she'd taken Waverly to when she first moved, she loved it, but she was almost always working the morning shifts. It meant that the dog was never left alone for too long, but it also meant that they barely had time to see each other. Waverly knew that Nicole had to be up in just a few hours to get ready for work and so she lay awake for a little while, despite how tired she was just so she could take in everything Nicole before she was gone again. They both had two days off in a few day's time and Waverly couldn't wait. She'd planned a romantic night out, with a nice meal and then she planned on not letting Nicole leave their bed until they both had to work again.

Nicole got up not long after Waverly succumbed to her tiredness or, so it felt. She stirred for a moment, Murphy moving into Nicole's spot and snuggling closer into her before she said a sleepy goodbye to Nicole and letting her know she'd been replaced before falling asleep again. The last thing she remembered was hearing the sound of Nicole's soft chuckle and the camera app snapping a picture before she headed off. She saw Nicole had posted the sneaky picture to her Instagram with the caption, My one true loves when she woke up for the day. It was sappy but so adorably sweet and she knew she'd have to get a photo of Nicole and Murphy in a similar position soon. It wasn't uncommon for her to come back from work and see the pair snuggled up on the couch.

Their date night felt like it took forever to come around, but when it finally did, and they headed out to try the new restaurant that had opened up a few streets away, part of Waverly wished they had just stayed in and eaten take-out on the couch before retiring to bed. She wasn't sure she loved the whole adult-ing thing, she couldn't wait for classes to start again so she had an excuse not to work at the bar nearly as much.

"Do you want kids?" Nicole asked, not five minutes after they were served their food and Waverly nearly chocked on the pasta she was eating. Nicole reached a hand over the table to check that Waverly was actually ok, she coughed her food down and tapped Nicole's hand to let her know she wasn't dying. "Sorry, that was kinda out of the blue."

"Uh…y-yeah." Waverly stammered out, she had not been expecting it at all. Part of her thought that Nicole had somehow figured out how often she'd been thinking about that recently.

"Yeah to that was out of the blue or yeah to wanting kids?" Nicole smirked even though Waverly could see she was incredibly nervous.

"Nicole, we're not even…yet." The unspoken married hung in the air between them as Waverly grinned over to the table. She knew Nicole could feel it too because for a moment her eyes shone before she came back to herself.

"I know, I know it's just…we've never talked about it." Nicole started spinning her fork in her linguini, not picking it up to eat and Waverly knew Nicole's stomach must have been doing the same million flips in that moment as hers was. It was a big conversation to have but Waverly would have been lying if she wasn't over the moon that they were. "My mom asked about it, if she should keep some things, baby things of mine…just in case."

"I do…I mean, I've definitely thought about what it would be like. Me, you and a little something extra." Waverly admitted a little bashfully, she'd thought about it a lot since they had moved in together, probably more than Nicole had. Nicole reached over the table again to take her hand, probably noticing the nerves that Waverly was now feeling herself.

"Me too…so I should tell her, right? Keep some things, just in case?"

"Yeah." Waverly beamed, and Nicole returned it right back. "We do have time to decide if it's what we really want."

"Definitely. Loads of time…I like knowing you think about it though. Think about our future, 'cause I do, a lot!" Nicole laughed, and Waverly gripped her hand just a little firmer. Knowing Nicole thought about their future a lot did something to Waverly. She'd been expecting a nice dinner out, some time together when they got home but now all she wanted to do was take Nicole right then and there.

"I think about it a lot too, I'll probably need to stop thinking about it so much once school starts again or else I'll never graduate!" Waverly chuckled, and Nicole pulled her hand back, finally calm enough to start eating again as she nodded her head in agreement with Waverly.

"I thought my mom would be worried." Nicole started talking with food in her mouth and with a slight blush chewed faster until she could safely speak again. "When I told her that you are who I want to spend the rest of my life with, I thought she might freak out!"

"Why?" Waverly asked, trying to contain the blush that was spreading at hearing those words fall so casually from Nicole's mouth.

"Well her and my dad were high school sweethearts and I dunno, I thought she might think we'd end up taking the same path as they did! Without the accidental pregnancy of course." Nicole laughed, and Waverly shook her head slowly as she joined in. "But she thinks it's sweet, she believes we're the real deal!"

"Well I do too! Do you think they would have stayed together if your mom didn't decide she wanted to keep you?" Waverly asked and now it was Nicole's time to nearly choke on her own food. "Sorry, that was…is that a horrible thing to ask? Would your parents still be together if you were never born?"

"No, I just wasn't expecting it." Nicole managed to say between coughs until she managed to clear her throat and gave Waverly a smile. "Maybe they would be but ultimately, they wanted different things…so that's why it's important for me to know that we want the same things." Nicole looked like she was keenly studying what Waverly's face was telling her.

"Good thing we do then!" Waverly said without hesitation and Nicole sighed, obviously happy with what she had seen. Waverly still had no real idea what their lives might bring after they'd finished school and moved back to Purgatory, but Waverly was certain of one thing; Nicole would always be there.

After they'd finished their main course, Nicole asked if Waverly wanted dessert. She had to control the speed at which she said no and asked for the bill. Although she clearly didn't do a very good job because Nicole looked at her curiously, probably checking to see if everything was alright, but Waverly slowly and deliberately trailed her foot up Nicole's calf with wry smile. The words, take me home, written plainly on her face.

When they came together in their bed, in a flurry of kisses and moans and hands, Waverly was so glad that they had all night if they wanted it. She was only partially satisfied, after weeks of long hours and only gentle, sleepy, love making to get her through she knew that night would be different. She knew it would be passionate, she knew she wanted to take and take and take Nicole, but she was pleasantly surprised that Nicole seemed to be just as eager to last all night.

The ferocity was such that Nicole suggested a shower was probably needed before they actually fell asleep which simply had Waverly jumping into action again. They'd only had sex once before in the shower, it hadn't been very good, but Waverly was determined to get it right and just like everything else she set her mind to, she did eventually.

When Gus came to visit a few weeks later, Waverly swore she saw tears in her eyes as they embraced each other. She wanted to ask what was wrong, but Gus dove straight into asking the pair how everything was going living together and Waverly didn't get the chance. After Nicole headed out to take Murphy to the park, Waverly sat down with Gus, hoping that she would share whatever had her upset when she'd arrived.

"You two look very happy here…"

"Is that bad?" Waverly was confused, she didn't understand why her happiness would have such a reaction from her aunt.

"No!" Gus reached out and pulled Waverly into her side, she placed a kiss to the top of Waverly's head and sighed. "It's just hard to see…and accept that you probably won't be coming home after you graduate."

"Gus…" Waverly pulled out of Gus' hold as she finally understood what must have been running through her mind. "We're coming back. We've already talked about it."

"But-"

"Purgatory is home , Gus. We want to come back." Waverly interrupted and while she didn't make a habit of interrupting Gus, for once she was glad she did. Gus pulled her back into the hug and Waverly squeezed back just as tight. After everything that Gus had done for her, for Wynonna, Waverly was glad she wouldn't have to spend the rest of her life living so far away from her. She would have done it, if Nicole wanted to live somewhere else but she was happy she didn't have to.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Living with Waverly was more than Nicole ever imagined. She knew for a long time that she wanted a future with her but after moving in together, she knew she would have been happy if that was the only thing in life she wanted that she actually got.

By the time that school started again, and their studies were piled on top of the hours they were still working part time, they ended up spending most of their evenings lounging at home with Murphy after taking time to finish their classwork. Picking new shows to binge watch together and their friends affectionately started referring to them as an old married couple, but Nicole wouldn't change it for anything.

Wynonna came to visit a few months into the new school year, unannounced and she happened upon them getting the apartment ready for a games night with their friends. Waverly asked if Wynonna was going to stay even if they were having people over. Nicole could see the hesitation in Wynonna's eyes and the hope in Waverly's, so she nudged Wynonna, just a little so Waverly wouldn't notice, and Wynonna said she would stay. The pure joy on Waverly's face was worth the glare she got from Wynonna after Waverly had turned around to open up a pack of chips.

Wynonna seemed to perk up after Nicole told her where she could go and buy a bottle of whiskey to make the evening more bearable if she really needed to. She was out the door with Waverly's keys without a moments pause and returned with three bottles of wine, a bottle of whiskey and a twelve-pack of beer because;

"I'm not the only one who's gonna be drunk tonight!"

Wynonna's wicked grin landed on Waverly first and then Nicole. The pair shared a look and at the same time agreed it might not be the worst idea, they hadn't been to a party since school had started back and although Nicole would never admit it to Waverly, she didn't exactly find board games to be the most exciting thing in the world. A little alcohol would definitely liven things up.

One third of a bottle whiskey, two bottles of wine, a game of Trivial Pursuit and most of the beer gone, the small group settled in their living room was decidedly drunk. Murphy had excused himself not long after the crowd had arrived, to lay down on their bed but would appear every now again for a quick scratch of his chin from Waverly before plodding back through to avoid to drunken competitiveness that had descended upon their apartment.

Wynonna got on surprisingly well with all of their friends despite her earlier hesitation and even joined in with their good-natured teasing of Waverly and Nicole being that couple, who they only ever saw in class or if they came round to their apartment.

"You should have seen them when they first got together though, it was gross! Our house did not have thick enough walls!" Wynonna cackled as she threw Nicole a wink to lessen the sting of her words. "Speaking of…how's the soundproofing in this place? Should I have invested in some earplugs before coming to stay?"

"God, stop Wynonna! Please!" Waverly buried her head in her hands as Nicole pulled her closer into her side and placed a kissed to the side of her head. Nicole didn't mind the teasing, she knew it meant Wynonna was still a fan of hers, but it was clearly making Waverly uncomfortable.

"What? They all know you guys bang or is it all a big secret?" Wynonna looked around the room at their friends and completely missed the throw pillow that Nicole launched directly at her face. "Hey!"

"Wynonna stop or I'm taking that whiskey and putting it on the top shelf that only I can reach!" Nicole warned her with a glare to show just how serious she was. Wynonna held up her hands in surrender before clutching the bottle to her chest and giving it a quick kiss.

"Don't worry, I won't let Red take you away from mama!" Wynonna cooed at the bottle as the room erupted in laughter, but Nicole could only roll her eyes. She had missed Wynonna, but she had never realised quite how much of an entertainer she was.

"She's never meeting our friends again." Waverly whispered into Nicole's ear while the laughter continued around them.

"Agreed." Nicole laughed and selfishly started playing with Waverly's hair, she knew it would get her thinking about drawing the night to a close and heading to bed. It didn't take long before an exaggerated yawn came from beside her and Nicole took it as her cue to begin tidying up everyone's mess, so people would take the hint. It had already gone on much longer than previous game nights, what with the constant interruptions throughout the game so Waverly could repeatedly explain the rules to Wynonna even though Nicole was pretty damn sure she knew exactly what they were.

Everyone said their goodbyes and Wynonna insisted on sleeping on the couch even though the guest bedroom was already made up. Nicole wasn't going to fight her on it, but Waverly tried to. It was unsuccessful, and they retired to their own bed, leaving Wynonna to an uncomfortable night's sleep.

Waverly, a little tipsy, managed to get herself stuck as she took off her top and Nicole helped remove it painfully slowly just so she could take it all in. Nicole hadn't planned on anything other than sleep once everyone had left but one look in Waverly's eyes after her top was untangled from her hair changed that in a heartbeat.

Nicole figured there was only one way to truly test how soundproof their apartment was.

 

Living with Waverly was great, but it wasn't perfect, they still had their moments. Like when Nicole refused to do the dishes after promising she would, because the new soap Waverly had bought bothered her skin. Even after Waverly went out and purposely bought some new dish soap and extra thick, extra-long gloves so not a single part of her hands or even her arms would get touched while she did them. Waverly had called her childish and after a back and forth of snarky comments, they didn't speak to each other all afternoon. Nicole knew that Waverly was right, she'd known that almost instantly, but she couldn't quite admit it so soon after making such a big deal about it.

Waverly took Murphy out alone to the dog park and by the time she came back, Nicole had done all the dishes and wrapped her arms around Waverly so tight while apologizing repeatedly. They fell back onto the couch locked in their embrace until Murphy jumped up on the couch too and tried to force his way between them.

"You're not still mad at me for calling you childish?" Waverly questioned as she rolled to the side to give Murphy a little more room on the couch and tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid his tongue from getting at her cheeks.

"I was being childish…but girlfriends fight, it's ok. It's normal!" Nicole tried to reassure her, fights were bound to happen when they were living together more than they had ever happened before.

"It's kind of the worst…" Waverly sighed, urging Murphy off the couch so she could get closer to Nicole again and not have dog breath all over her face.

"Yep, totally the worst!" Nicole laughed and pulled Waverly in for a tender kiss that Waverly deepened instantly.

Nicole hated fighting with Waverly but making up afterwards was always eventful. It was like both of them felt the need to show the other just how stupid they had been, how sorry they truly were and how little it changed how they really felt about the other.

Navigating the changes from a high school relationship into an adult one wasn't always easy, Nicole didn't always feel like a grown up. Sure, she was living with her girlfriend in their own place, she was working and studying for her degree but sometimes she still felt like that scared kid that could barely face the outside world.

In the moments before they would make up, fears would flood Nicole's mind. What if this time, Waverly didn't forgive her? What if this time, everything she had ever wanted was taken away because of a stupid, meaningless fight? She hadn't had a panic attack in over a year but that didn't mean her anxiety was just magically gone. She had better coping mechanisms, things that used to scare her didn't scare her nearly as much anymore but the one thing that still scared her more than anything was losing Waverly.

 

On Nicole's birthday, Waverly brought her breakfast in bed. It was the most beautifully domestic thing they'd ever shared, and it felt like Nicole was seeing straight into their future. They lay in bed for a couple hours after they ate, sharing sweet kisses as the street outside their apartment came to life.

When Murphy started to get antsy, they took him to the park and shared pleasantries with the same people they often met there and Nicole couldn't have asked for more on her birthday. They didn't have classes, they didn't have to work, they could just be and enjoy the day in each other's company.

A little while after they returned, with groceries in hand so Waverly could cook a recipe that Gus had sent through especially for Nicole's birthday, there was a knock at the door. Waverly insisted that Nicole answer it, even though Waverly was literally standing an arms length away and Nicole got suspicious. She narrowed her eyes on Waverly and a hesitant smile appeared. She'd told Waverly she didn't want to do anything on her birthday except relax with her. Waverly had promised her no surprise party or gathering but now Nicole wasn't so sure she had been telling the truth, maybe Wynonna had convinced her.

"Just answer it, Nicole! I promise you'll be happy!" Waverly's smile grew wider and wider as Nicole neared the door, her eyes stuck on Waverly just trying to figure out if happy was actually how she was going to feel when she opened it.

"Hi, sweetheart! Happy birthday!" Nicole leapt forward and hugged her mom tight against her chest. Happy, definitely happy. "I can't believe my baby is no longer a teenager…that makes me feel so old!"

"You're here?" Nicole beamed as she pulled back from the hug. Her mom had surprised her with a visit on her last birthday too. She'd taken her and Waverly out for a nice meal, paid for everything even though both Nicole and Waverly had tried to argue her into letting them at least cover half. This year she'd told Nicole she had to work, that there was no one who could swap shifts and Nicole had believed her.

"I'm here!" Her mom pulled her in again and kissed the top of her head. Murphy must have been exhausted from the trip to the park because it took him a solid two minutes before he recognized whose voice was in the room but when he did, he bounced around her mom's feet until she got down on the ground and wrapped him in a hug as well. Nicole let them play a little and went over to place a well-deserved kiss on Waverly's cheek.

"Told you, you'd be happy." Waverly giggled with a smug grin before turning back to the sink where she was peeling potatoes. Nicole placed a hand on either side of her and pushed gently into her back.

"Thank you, baby. Definitely a good surprise!" Nicole whispered softly in her ear and placed a gentle kiss to her hair.

They ate dinner and her mom spoke to Waverly all about how Gus was doing when she saw her a few days before for coffee, how she'd bumped into Steph and how she was working as a realtor now and not just an assistant anymore, at her mom's business. Waverly smiled at that but there was a sadness in her eyes too, like she didn't know about it.

Waverly still talked to Chrissy all the time and they both spoke with Xavier pretty regularly, but Waverly hadn't mentioned Steph in months. It'd been nearly two years since they finished high school and Nicole had expected that people would grow apart but maybe Waverly had just not expected it to happen so soon.

Waverly went to bed early that night, Murphy following obediently behind and left Nicole and her mom to catch up, she had been calling home less often than she'd meant to and she did feel bad about that, but her mom assured her it was fine. She actually worried more when Nicole called all the time because that's what she did when she wasn't doing well so she presumed that the opposite was true, and she was right.

"I've been wanting to tell you something, I hope that you're ok with it." Her mom looked nervous, she fiddled with her hands in her lap and took a deep breath. "I'm seeing someone and it's getting pretty serious, I'd really like you to meet him."

"Mom, that's great! Of course I'm ok with it, I want you to be happy!" Nicole couldn't help the smile as her mom confided in her that she was happy, ridiculously happy and now that she had said it, Nicole could see it.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The following summer, they headed back to Purgatory for the whole break from school. Instead of paying for an apartment all summer that they wouldn't be using, they put their stuff in storage and signed a lease for a new place that wouldn't start until a week before school began again. It wasn't as big as their last place but they could keep Murphy and the lease was long enough to get them through to the end of their studies without having to move again.

Losing touch with Steph had been one of the main reasons that Waverly wanted to spend some quality time at home. She didn't want to return a stranger to people who she had once been so close with. She made sure that she was going to find time to reconnect with her and others who she hadn't made enough of an effort with while she was away. She knew realistically they probably didn't hold it against her, everyone was busy living their own lives and they knew she was too but that didn't mean things had to stay the way they had become.

After a single catch up over coffee it was like they had never lost touch, Steph promised to be better at keeping in contact and Waverly confirmed she'd do the same. Chrissy came back for a couple of weeks too and the three of them spent time together just like they used to, although now with less giggling about which boys Chrissy and Steph currently had their eyes on. After a couple of bottles of wine had been drank between them though, the giggling started.

Waverly crawled into bed next to Nicole at her mom's house, thanks to the spare key that Susan had given her. Nicole obviously hadn't been expecting it because she jumped a little as Waverly's hands snaked around her waist, but she quickly settled into the contact and pulled Waverly closer under the covers.

"Have a good time?" Nicole mumbled against her neck as they settled comfortably against each other.

"Yeah, really good." Waverly smiled easily, she had missed them and not because she didn't love her friends at school, she did but they were different. She'd known Chrissy and Steph her whole life and they'd been through so much together. "Where's Murphy?"

"Mom's bed…traitor." Nicole mumbled, clearly right on the edge of sleep again and Waverly laughed. Murphy may have started out loving Susan more than either of them, but he was definitely their dog now and Waverly was sure that Susan had to have bribed him with treats to get him to sleep anywhere other than next to Nicole. Sure enough, when Waverly woke up in the morning, Murphy was snuggly tucked into Nicole's side just like he usually was.

 

***

"Where do you want to live after school?" Waverly asked Nicole as they walked down the streets of Purgatory, Murphy walking just ahead of them with his nose to the ground. Taking in all the scents that were so different to his now normal walking route in the city.

"I thought we talked about this? Purgatory." Nicole turned to Waverly and furrowed her brow. Waverly knew she had a bit of a habit of starting a conversation with herself and then blurting out a question before realising the whole preamble had happened in her head.

"Sorry, I know. I mean, where in Purgatory? We can't go back to living at home, summer break is one thing, but I'll go mad if we don't have our own place here, just the two of us again." As if on cue, Murphy barked and both Waverly and Nicole laughed.

"Three of us, I think you mean!" Nicole nudged Waverly's shoulder and Waverly couldn't help herself from once again thinking about three, turning into four and maybe even more. "Where would you want to live?"

"Ideally?" Waverly asked, a little hesitant to actually reveal where her heart was set on. Nicole nodded and Waverly gripped Nicole's hand just a little tighter. "I'd like to live in my old house…"

"Huh?" Nicole looked to Waverly again and Waverly suddenly realised that Nicole was maybe one of the few people in town that didn't know about the Earp homestead. Waverly had certainly never brought it up and she highly doubted that anyone else would have told Nicole about it either.

"Where I lived before I lived with Gus. It's been empty since my dad died but it belongs to me and Wynonna."

"What's it like?" Nicole asked, and Waverly was certain she was genuinely curious, maybe even actually considering the possibility.

"It's a total mess now, Wynonna goes to check on it every now and again, make sure it's still standing." Last time she had gone, Waverly had asked for some pictures and it really had fallen into a horrible state, but it was still the first home she had ever known, and it was a part of her family's history. She didn't want it just laying empty year after year but she couldn't even imagine selling it and someone else living there either. "It could be really beautiful though! Lots of land, Murphy could tire himself out and not even make it across half the property."

"We could do it up? Find somewhere cheap to live in the meantime?" Nicole shrugged like it was the easiest decision to make. It was for Waverly but that was because it was important to her, Nicole didn't even know about its existence a minute earlier.

"Yeah?" Waverly asked, and she knew her face had lit up by the smile reflected on Nicole's. She had been worried about telling Nicole, not because she thought she would say no to the idea but because it was so personal. By rights, Waverly shouldn't want to live there, she'd had a better life after she had left but it was still a part of her.

"Yeah, if that's where you want to live then let's do it!"

"We could go see it while we're in town?" Waverly asked hopefully, and Nicole smiled with a firm nod.

The homestead really was a mess, it was barely recognizable as her old home and in some ways that made it better. Waverly hadn't been there since the day she left with Gus, seeing pictures of the place was one thing but actually being there was so much harder than she ever thought it would be. She ended up crying, stood in her childhood bedroom which looked barely touched, except by dust, since the day she'd left. Nicole wrapped her arms firmly around her from behind.

"We can go, if you want?" Nicole said it softly, so Waverly would know that Nicole didn't mind either way. Waverly knew that if she needed to just cry it out standing right there, Nicole would stay and if Waverly wanted to leave and never come back, Nicole would be right with her.

"No, it's ok…it's just hard. This house was in my family long before I had a crappy childhood here. There are probably a lot more happy memories here than bad ones." Waverly sighed, she was sure that had to be true, but the pain was still there. It was so easy for her to forget about how lonely she had been before living with Gus and Curtis, Wynonna isolated herself except for at night when Waverly would crawl into her bed and Waverly had felt so alone for years.

"We can make more happy memories." Nicole squeezed Waverly tight and Waverly swallowed thickly. Nicole always knew exactly what to say.

"Yeah, I'd like that." Waverly smiled as she turned in Nicole's arms and leaned up to kiss her. They had dinner plans to meet Susan and her new boyfriend, Gerry but that could wait. She wanted to visualize her and Nicole making a life together right there, for a little longer.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Babe, can you hurry up? They are gonna be here soon and I still need to shower!" Nicole was stood in front of their shared dresser, triple checking that she had everything ready for the day ahead and she hadn't already packed anything away she might need.

"I did offer a time saving solution, you're the one that turned it down!" Waverly sang from the bathroom and Nicole groaned.

"Gus has a key, I was not willing to get caught red handed, again! " If they had thought Gus walking in on them when they were in high school was bad, it was absolutely nothing compared to completely forgetting that she was coming to visit and her walking in while Nicole was literally two fingers deep in Waverly on the couch.

"Chicken." Waverly's arms wrapped around her waist and her voice was soft against her ear. Nicole leaned into it, but Waverly instantly pulled away. "On you go, don't want to keep them waiting!" Waverly gave a light tap to Nicole's ass and she quickly turned to pull Waverly flush against her front. She walked her hands slowly and deliberately towards the knot in Waverly's towel but just before she pulled it apart enough to see anything underneath, Waverly took a step back. "Hey, you had your chance earlier…"

"Well I'm allowed to regret my decision, aren't I?" Nicole smirked as Waverly took another step back and dropped the towel to the floor. It didn't matter how many times she saw her, how many times she touched her, Waverly still took her breath away every single time. Nicole closed the gap between them quickly, trailing her hands slowly down Waverly's sides, landing on her hips and leaned down for a kiss.

Their front door opened and slammed against the wall beside it with a loud bang. Murphy jumped up from his sleeping position on their bed, ears raised and ready to pounce.

"Gus says you two better have clothes on this time!" Wynonna's voice traveled through to their bedroom and Murphy promptly jumped off the bed and ran through to find the cause of the commotion. Nicole rolled her eyes and grabbed the towel she'd laid out for herself on the dresser before heading to the bathroom.

"I do not believe that Gus was the one who told her about that so you can deal with her while I get ready!" Nicole chanced a look over her shoulder and saw the exact look of guilt that she'd been expecting from Waverly. She wasn't surprised that Waverly had told Wynonna about that particularly horrifying moment, but she was surprised that Wynonna thought it was perfectly acceptable to bring it up quite so soon after it had happened. She hoped that Waverly would give her sister a smack to the back of the head, but she knew it wasn't very likely.

When Nicole had first started university, she wasn't totally positive that this day would actually come. Her and Waverly were graduating. She had been so close to throwing in the towel in those first few weeks, so ready to just pack it in and chalk it up to one more thing she never thought she'd be able to do. So much had changed though, she barely even noticed her nerves anymore. They were definitely still there and sometimes her mind did still run away with itself but now, she could stop it almost as soon as it began.

The added stress of their final year had been difficult, for both of them but together they managed to power on through. They were both facing the biggest challenge intellectually that either of them had had to deal with before and that did put a strain on their relationship. There were arguments, there were tears but most importantly there was support and understanding that it was simply the stress talking. Nicole knew she never would have got to this point it without Waverly's unwavering belief in her.

Nicole joined everyone in the kitchen once she was dressed and did not miss the once over that Waverly gave her as she reached for a cup for her coffee. She gave her a wink before taking the seat beside her and giving a corner of toast left on Waverly's plate to Murphy underneath the table.

"So, when is your mom and Gerry getting here?" Gus asked Nicole, thankfully a lot less bashful than the last time they had spoken face to face. Nicole looked at her phone and the last message she had received from her mom.

"Should be about an hour, Gerry is literally the slowest driver!" Nicole groaned, even though she was over the moon that her mom had found someone, he did drive like an eighty year old women with bad eye sight.

Gerry had moved to Purgatory to work at the hospital and the two of them had hit it off instantly. He even had a couple kids of his own, both a fair bit younger than Nicole and lived with their mom most of the time but Nicole had managed to meet them a couple times. She wasn't sure if her mom ever wanted to actually get married, or if Gerry wanted to ever get married again but she was positive that either way, it really was going to last between them. "If they don't get here before Wave has to leave, I can meet you guys down there." Waverly's ceremony was earlier in the day than Nicole's and she would never forgive her mom or Gerry if she missed it because she was waiting for them.

Nicole's estimation of when they would arrive was off by about twenty minutes and she was waiting impatiently downstairs for them when they did eventually pull up. The others had already had to leave, and Nicole was terrified that she would actually miss Waverly's ceremony. They managed to find their seats next to Wynonna and Gus with literally seconds to spare and Nicole couldn't stop smiling the entire time Waverly was in view. She was so happy that she forgot to take any photos but her mom, thankfully, had her back and sent all of hers through to Nicole.

 

Nicole could see Waverly clear as day as she accepted her own diploma and Waverly whooped so loud that Nicole was sure her blush actually matched her hair. As she made her way back to her seat she was sure she saw Wynonna take a swig from a silver flask and from the way she spoke when they met up afterwards, she was planning on spending the night.

This was news to both Waverly and Nicole since they thought she'd be heading back with Gus and Murphy, but she was more than a little persistent as she begged them to let her take them on a night out to celebrate. Not that Wynonna actually knew anywhere to go in the city and Nicole genuinely debated whether or not they should take her to the gay club that they had been to a few times with friends. It had taken a lot of convincing on their part to get both Waverly and Nicole to blow off some steam in manner they wouldn't normally. The music was terrible, in Nicole's opinion, but the drinks were cheap, and it was nice being able to dance with Waverly in a way she'd never really got to do before.

They partied well into the early morning and Nicole was sensible enough to stop drinking before everyone else, but she knew it wasn't early enough that she would beat the hangover completely the next day. She was just glad that Murphy was back in Purgatory because waking up to his dog breath with a hangover was hands down one of the worst things in the world.

Waverly was tired and more than a little drunk by the time they got back to their apartment. She walked straight through to their bedroom, yelling a 'goodnight' to Wynonna and a 'hurry up' to Nicole.

Nicole got the couch bed set up for Wynonna as she lay on the floor imitating whipping sounds and insisting that she would just sleep where she was, but Nicole lifted her up onto the couch.

Wynonna slung an arm over Nicole's shoulders and forced her to sit down next to her. They hadn't had a heart to heart in some time, but Nicole could read the telltale signs of one brewing as she leaned against Wynonna.

"I can't wait for you to come home…it's so boring without you guys!" Wynonna groaned but a small smile managed to make its way onto her face.

"I can't wait either. You're sure Waverly is happy moving back to Purgatory?" Nicole knew that Waverly had said a million times she was but if there was even a little bit of doubt, she knew she would have told Wynonna.

"Duh! She's in love with the stupid town and you! So, if you're going, she wouldn't go anywhere else!" Wynonna jostled them together on the couch and Nicole smiled as she slapped Wynonna's thigh lightly before getting up. Wynonna threw herself lengthways on the couch and stared up at Nicole with an odd look.

"What?" Nicole asked, wondering if she had something on her face.

"You guys are gonna get married." Wynonna kept staring at her as Nicole's smile grew wider and desperately prayed that it was an approval of something she hoped would come one day.

"Goodnight, Wynonna."

"Night, Red."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Ugh, I am never drinking again!" Waverly could feel her head pounding as soon as she woke up and she wished she could go back to the days when hangovers just consisted of a dry throat when she woke up and feeling fine by the time she'd had a coffee and eaten breakfast. "I'm so glad that everything is pretty much packed!"

"Shh…too loud!" Nicole rolled over and covered Waverly's mouth with her own. She may have stopped drinking before the rest of them, but she definitely still stunk of alcohol.

"Are you even going to be able to drive today?" Waverly laughed after Nicole broke the kiss and slumped back down on the pillow, massaging her temples with her eyes screwed shut.

"Probably not for a good few hours…movers won't get here til after four anyway."

"Good, I need more sleep!" Waverly cuddled into Nicole's side and quickly drifted off again.

When they finally got up and dressed, Wynonna was sitting at the kitchen table nursing a coffee but otherwise looking a lot more chipper than Waverly had expected. Nicole mentioned the run-down of the day, when the movers would arrive and what time they would be leaving to head back to Purgatory.

"I'm not helping…" Wynonna held up her hands and Waverly just rolled her eyes.

"You weren't even supposed to be here, that's why we hired movers!" Waverly nudged Wynonna and then immediately regretted the movement, she wasn't sure how she was going to fair in a car for a couple hours.

"Has Steph found you guys a place to live yet?" Wynonna asked, standing up from the table and sticking a few slices of bread in the toaster.

"We've got a couple viewings set up for next week." Nicole answered, it was the truth, but those places would only be temporary. Waverly still hadn't told Wynonna about her and Nicole's plans to do up the homestead, she'd been meaning to since they decided on it, but she wasn't sure how Wynonna would take it. It technically belonged to both of them even if Wynonna had said she didn't ever want to live there again.

"House warming party is going to be amazing!" Wynonna clapped her hands together and both Waverly and Nicole recoiled at the sound.

"How can you already be thinking about drinking again?" Waverly groaned as she placed her head on the cool surface of the kitchen table, sighing softly when Nicole started to rub her back.

"Hey, I just said party, babygirl. You're the one that thought alcohol!" Wynonna winked when Waverly lifted her head to glare at her sister.

"Wynonna…" Waverly figured that then was as good a time as any, especially since Wynonna seemed to be in such a good mood. "Me and Nicole want to move out to the homestead eventually…if that's ok with you?"

"You two really are going to get married, aren't you?" Wynonna looked at Nicole and Waverly raised her eyebrows. What had they talked about the night before when Waverly had headed to bed? Nicole just shrugged with a warm smile directed at Waverly before taking her hand under the table and squeezing it gently.

 

Wynonna was a good distraction from Waverly's queasiness on the long drive home and while she probably could have done without the hangover, she was glad that her sister had stayed. She told them everything and anything that was going on in Purgatory and it managed to engross Waverly just enough to make it through the journey without needing Nicole to pull over, so she could throw what little she'd been able to eat that day up on the side of the road.

"Nedley still looking for recruits?"

"You still thinking about that?" Wynonna leaned forward a little from her seat in the back and Waverly laid her hand on Nicole thigh. She was so proud of Nicole, she was almost unrecognizable compared to the girl Waverly had met. She'd doubled up her course load in her last year, taking a whole bunch of courses that Nedley had suggested would look good on a police academy application and she'd done amazing in all of them. Nicole had set her heart on it now, Waverly knew that if Nicole didn't get the chance to become a cop in Purgatory, it might crush her.

"Yeah, got a few weeks to decide for sure before I need to apply but I think I'm gonna go for it." Nicole puffed out her chest and nodded to herself. Wynonna hummed from the back seat approvingly.

"Dolls just qualified, he'll be back in Purgatory next week, so you can bug him with all your questions." Wynonna smacked the back of Nicole's seat lightly.

"Just like high school." Waverly laughed, and Nicole turned to smile at her quickly. "Wait…how do you know that?"

"Uh…yeah, 'bout that." Wynonna slunk back in her seat and wiped her hands on her jeans even though Waverly was certain there was absolutely nothing on them. That meant she was nervous, why would she be nervous? Unless…

"Actually!" Waverly held up her hands as her brain started to form a mental image she really wished it wouldn't. "I don't want to know!"

"I do!" Nicole almost yelled as she laughed and turned her head quickly over her shoulder to look at Wynonna before focusing back on the road.

"We're kind of…dating. It's not a big deal!" Wynonna rolled her eyes despite the fact that it was indeed, a very big deal. Why hadn't she told Waverly before? Why hadn't Dolls?

"You're not just hooking up with him?" Waverly asked, her curiosity suddenly piqued and Nicole shot her a look that said she knew Waverly would actually want to know. She gave her a sarcastic smile and roll of her eyes. Of course she wanted to know if they were serious, she just didn't want to hear the intimate details of her older sister hooking up with one of her oldest friends. Which, as she thought about it, was probably exactly why neither of them had shared that information with her.

"Yeah, he's nice. He's good, you said I should go for a good guy…" Wynonna shrugged, and Waverly felt a smile tugging at her lips.

"That was Curtis…didn't think you'd ever actually listen to me telling you he was right though." Waverly closed her eyes for a moment. It didn't matter how long it had been, it was still just as difficult to think of him sometimes. Nicole's hand found hers and she opened her eyes before giving her a sad smile.

"Yeah well maybe I'm growing up…'bout time I guess." Wynonna half laughed, and Waverly watched in the rear-view mirror as a genuine smile appeared on her sisters face. She wasn't sure how she felt about Xavier and her sister together, but it wasn't like she really had a say in the matter, maybe they were good for each other.

As they passed the 'Welcome to Purgatory' sign, Waverly felt a happiness settle deep inside of her and Wynonna leaned forward from the backseat to drape an arm over both of them in the front.

"Welcome home!" She said with what sounded like real happiness in her voice and Waverly wondered if that was how Wynonna truly felt about Purgatory now, even after all her running away from it. Waverly looked over to see a truly magnificent smile gracing Nicole's face, she took her hand again and squeezed it tight.

Home.

Chapter Text

Nicole had never been prouder of what she had accomplished than she was on the day she graduated from the police academy.

Graduating from University was one thing, she’d had Waverly there beside her. Leaving Purgatory again, even if it was just for those six months of academy training, had been incredibly hard. She was so much stronger though, as was their relationship, so they knew a temporary separation was something they both could handle.

Waverly had settled back into life in Purgatory, in their small apartment with Murphy while she was gone. She’d gotten herself a job at the school library; it was only a few days a week since Mrs. Gibson was still there but with her retirement coming up fast, Waverly was hopeful it would turn into full time employment until she figured out what she really wanted to do with her life. Waverly also managed to find the time to start planning the work that needed to be done on the Earp homestead before they could even think about redecorating, and with a little help from the money Curtis had left her, the work got underway.

Nicole never thought she would be one of those people who would be genuinely happy to go into work each day but after nearly six months on the job back in Purgatory, that’s exactly the person she was. She loved it, every single part of it and especially on days like today.

Just like every lunchtime when Nicole was working and Waverly wasn’t, she would breeze through the station, straight into the bullpen as she waved to all the other officers and park herself at Nicole’s desk.

“Hey, baby,” Waverly grinned as she leaned against the edge of Nicole’s desk and set the Tupperware box down in front of Nicole.

“Hey, how’s the work going today?” Nicole asked, noticing the specks of paint on Waverly’s cheek and a couple in her hair. She reached up to run her hand through it, taking a couple of the easier to remove bits with her. She hadn’t realised that Waverly was going to the homestead that day, she must have come all the way back into town just to deliver Nicole her lunch.

“Our future bedroom is finally finished…and Murphy may or may not have a streak of blue down his back…” Waverly pulled her lips to the side in a guilty smile, but Nicole could only laugh.

The work on the homestead was taking a little longer than they had hoped but it was getting there, and Nicole couldn’t wait to have more space for them to live in. Gus and Waverly were doing most of the work now that things like the plumbing and the more labor-intensive jobs were done. Nicole felt bad that she hadn’t been able to help much but she was putting in so much time at the station that any time she had a day off, Waverly insisted she didn’t have to help.

“Well, I’m sure it suits him!” Nicole managed to say after her laughter had subsided. She turned her attention to the container Waverly had brought her and tried to force a smile as she took in the turkey sandwich. No mayonnaise and more salad than Nicole would ever put on one she had made for herself. Nicole figured Waverly’s reasoning for bringing her lunch that day had something to do with the fact she’d found the receipt for Nicole’s lunch the previous day and was less than impressed with the unhealthy choices that she had made.

Waverly was desperate for them both to eat healthy, something about people typically putting on a bunch of weight after they graduated. Nicole didn’t like to remind Waverly that that probably wouldn’t apply to her since she was still sticking to the strict workout regimen from the academy. Nonetheless Nicole knew that Waverly’s concern was coming from a place of love and so her forced smile turned into a real one. “Thanks, baby.”

“Haught! We got a call.” Doll strode through to the bullpen from the breakroom, throwing on his police issue jacket as he nodded a greeting to Waverly. Nicole stood from her desk, shut the lid for her lunch and leaned in to give a quick goodbye kiss to Waverly’s cheek.

“What time do you get off?” Waverly asked as Nicole pulled back, with the same smirk she always had whenever she was asked that question.

“I’ll be home by eight.” Nicole pulled her jacket off the back of her chair and followed Dolls, shooting a quick smile over her shoulder to Waverly before getting herself focussed.

Being partnered with Dolls was fantastic. After going through the academy himself, he got a job with the department instantly and proved to Nedley to be incredibly capable. Then, when Nicole finished the academy at the top of her class and Dolls requested she be his new partner, Nedley didn’t think twice before approving it.

As a pair, they had established themselves as Nedley’s ‘dream team’. They’d closed more cases in their time as partners than most other officers in Purgatory had in the past five years. They’d even started pulling unsolved cases in their down time at the station, with the goal of hopefully giving some residents closure. Nedley wasn’t a particularly affectionate man, except when it came to Chrissy, so they didn’t often get much outright praise but Waverly swore that she’d heard him joking about the day he might have to make them co-Sheriff.

Their first real call of that shift was a bust. Dolls had hoped it would be a lead in the case they had been working on; someone in town was injuring a few local farmers’ livestock, but it turned out to just be some stupid kid. He was messing around on someone’s farmland, with a gun he’d found in his late grandfather’s attic, shooting tin cans and pieces of fruit that he’d lined up on a fence. The poor boy had nearly cried when Nicole and Dolls arrived at the scene, positive he was about to be arrested. They drove him home, told his mother what he’d been up to and asked her to lock up the gun or get rid of it.

“You coming over for dinner Friday night?” Nicole asked Dolls as they made their way back to the station.

“Wynonna did mention something about it.” Dolls nodded as he drove. Nicole rolled her eyes; she didn’t often get a straight answer out of him when they were trying to organise social plans.

“So, is that a yes, or...?”

“Yes,” Dolls replied, the tiniest smile cracking. “Need us to bring anything?”

“I think we’re all set. I’m making vegetable lasagne and Waverly’s making some low fat, low sugar dessert…” Nicole shuddered at the thought, she would eat some of it but only to keep Waverly happy. “Actually, maybe you could bring some dessert?”

“Sure,” Dolls chuckled. “Wynonna also mentioned Waverly’s health kick.”

“Yup…it’s super fun!”

 

By the time Nicole made it home, Waverly was fast asleep on the couch. A long day of moving furniture and painting had clearly exhausted her. Nicole could see the space that Murphy must have been occupying before he came running to the door to greet her as she came in.

After taking off her shoes, hanging up her jacket and storing her gun away, Nicole bent down beside the couch. She moved a few hairs away from Waverly’s face before pressing a light kiss to her forehead.

“Mmm, sorry. I fell asleep.” Waverly stirred and stretched out on the couch, her eyes slowly opening to take in Nicole.

“Have you eaten?” Nicole asked, and Waverly shook her head. Nicole had hoped that was going to be the answer, as she had picked up some food from Shorty’s on her way home. She may or may not have eaten the small order of fries before she got out of her car… “I got chicken burgers and milkshakes from Shorty’s.”

“Nicole…” Waverly whined.

“Waverly, you did a lot of work today I’m sure and I ran for nearly two hours before work. I think we both deserve a treat, don’t you?”

“Fine.” Waverly acquiesced, allowing a small smile to appear. Nicole grinned heartily in return, she really did not want to have to throw those milkshakes out. “But, only because I plan on working it off later.” Waverly pulled Nicole in for a deep kiss, and Nicole nearly lost her balance on the balls of her feet. She steadied herself on the arm of the couch and laughed as Waverly remained completely undeterred by her near collapse onto the floor.

“Now…why can’t we have burgers or pizza every night and then work it off?” Nicole chuckled against Waverly’s lips when she finally allowed for Nicole to get some desperately needed air.

“I’m not sure either of us has the time for that!” Waverly’s sighed as she stroked a palm slowly down Nicole’s cheek. “Unfortunately.”

Nicole pushed herself to her feet with a grin to grab the bag of food and the milkshakes she’d left on the table by the door. Murphy was sniffing around the bag, but Nicole knew he was smarter than to try and actually get at them. She walked back through to Waverly and handed off a burger to her, set both milkshakes down on the table and took her seat.

Murphy immediately sat down on the floor in front of them, tail smacking against the carpet as he watched them unwrap their burgers with a quiet whine. Waverly sighed and pointed him to his bed; he plodded off with his head down before resuming his staring from across the room, a strand of drool dangling from his jowl.

“You know he’s only doing that ‘cause you keep giving him leftovers.” Waverly nudged Nicole as she leaned over her to grab the remote and load up Netflix. She clicked ‘continue watching’ on the latest series they’d started and tossed it aside.

“I can’t say no to his pouty face!” Nicole tried to defend herself, but she knew she was guilty of doting on him. She wasn’t the only one though, her mom, Gerry, Gus and Wynonna were all terrible for sneaking him extra food when they came over or walked him on the days that both Nicole and Waverly were working.

“I never thought I’d be the ‘strict mom’ in this relationship!” Waverly sighed snuggling into Nicole’s side while she ate.

“Oh, you are definitely the strict mom!” Nicole kissed the top of her head with a smile.

They hadn’t talked about their future in a while, not beyond getting their future home liveable. Nicole hoped it was simply because they’d been too busy to really think about it all and not because Waverly was second guessing any of the things they’d talked about.

Nicole still worried that one day she’d wake up and find that Waverly had realised she could do better than Nicole. She knew that Waverly wasn’t the type of person to just stay with her out of a sense of guilt or obligation but sometimes Nicole needed a little reassurance on that front.

She had plans to go over and help Gus build a new set of shelves she’d bought after she finished her shift the next day and whenever they were alone, Gus always managed to keep Nicole’s head on straight about how much Waverly truly loved her.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Waverly decided that dinner at their place was the perfect setting. Almost everyone they cared about in one place, and one question. A question that she had been waiting for Nicole to ask for so long that she’d decided she was going to do it herself. When she came to the decision that she was going to be the one to do it, she realised that she had been a little silly in thinking that she had to wait for Nicole to ask her. Waverly wanted to ask her before the time came that they moved into the homestead and so it had to be now.

The work on the homestead had progressed a lot further than Waverly had let on to Nicole, it was practically move-in ready. The only thing left to do was buy a few pieces of furniture to replace those that couldn’t be salvaged or that were already in the apartment when they’d moved in. Waverly had spoken to Steph and made sure she knew that she could start setting up viewings for potential renters of the apartment in the next couple of weeks. As far as Nicole knew, their lease wouldn’t be up for another few months but with her patented smile directed at Steph’s mother, Waverly was able to shorten it and not lose any of their deposit even though Murphy had managed to scuff up quite a few places on the floor.

Nicole had been so busy at work and Waverly was actually glad. It was going to be the best surprise. She’d had a ridiculous amount of help to do so much work though. Gus and Wynonna had been amazing, even Doc decided he would like to pitch in when he heard what they were up to.

He and Wynonna had created a better sort of relationship now that she was officially with Dolls, they were friends and really good ones at that. Wynonna didn’t have too many of those and Waverly was glad she had found someone else to spend time with now that she seemed to be permanently back in town.

Together they had managed to create something beautiful and so very unlike the house she and Wynonna had grown up in. Every time Waverly set foot inside the house, she felt the bad memories slipping away, making room for a long life of pleasant ones with Nicole.

Tonight, she would ask the love of her life to marry her and she would finally tell her that the home where they could live out the rest of their days together was ready to move in to.

She wasn’t nervous in the slightest. She wasn’t worried that Nicole would say no or even hesitate for a second, but she was worried that the moment Nicole came home from work, she would fall down on one knee and do it right then and there. All day the ring had been burning a hole in her pocket and she was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to wait.

Susan had helped her pick out the ring nearly a month ago. Waverly knew Nicole wasn’t a particularly avid jewellery wearer like herself, so she knew whatever she picked had to be something Nicole would really like. Simple but stunning, and Waverly was sure that they had managed to find the perfect piece.

 


“Susan…”
“Yes, dear?” Susan called from her kitchen after Waverly had let herself and Murphy into the house. She hadn’t been sure if Gerry would be home, and as much as she liked him, she really was hoping that her plan could stick between her and Susan for now.

The more people that knew, the higher the risk of it getting out. Nicole’s investigative skills had certainly been honed since she started working for Nedley and it was a good thing that Waverly only ever kept pleasant surprises from her. There would be no hope for Waverly if she ever had something to hide that Nicole wouldn’t like.

“Hi…” Waverly grimaced as she stood awkwardly by the kitchen door; she hadn’t been this nervous around Susan in years.

“Everything ok, sweetheart?”

“Yeah…yes. I just…IwanttoaskNicoletomarryme,” Waverly rushed out and it was clear that it hadn’t made much sense if the confusedly blinking eyes staring back at her were any indication. Waverly took a deep breath and tried again. “I want to ask Nicole to marry me…and I need your help deciding on a ring.”

“Waverly…” Susan’s confused face turned into a million watt smile in the blink of an eye and she was across the room with her arms wrapped around Waverly before she could even blink again. “I can’t for the life of me figure out why my daughter hasn’t already asked you!”

“I have an idea.” Waverly shrugged as Susan let her out of the embrace and stared at her questioningly. “Nicole is better than she was, there’s no doubt about that but…I still see it sometimes. The way she thinks that maybe I don’t love her the way that she loves me or that one day I’m going to decide she isn’t who I want.”

It wasn’t often these days, but Waverly could still see those insecurities clear as day when they would rise up again in Nicole. She hated that there wasn’t anything she could say or do that would get rid of them for good, but maybe asking for Nicole’s hand in marriage would help her understand that there really wasn’t anyone else Waverly could ever imagine wanting. “There’s probably a part of her that’s telling her I might say no…and she wouldn’t be able to handle that, so not asking is probably just her way of protecting herself.”

“Sweetheart…” Susan brushed a tear from underneath Waverly’s eye that she hadn’t even noticed falling. “I know we didn’t see eye to eye in the beginning, but you are without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to my daughter.”

“She’s the best thing to ever happen to me too.” Waverly smiled shyly, and Susan pulled her back in to a crushing hug. “So, will you help me?”

“Of course, I will.”

 

Waverly heard Murphy’s tail happily hitting the floor in the hallway just a second before she heard Nicole’s keys in the front door, and she forced herself to stick to her plan. She pulled the hand that was idly stroking the smooth band out of her pocket and tried to make herself look as casual as possible.

“I couldn’t get that specific dark chocolate you wanted at the store, but is this one ok?” Nicole set down the bag of groceries on the counter once she’d said the obligatory excited ‘hello’ to Murphy and found Waverly in the kitchen. Nicole reached into the bag and pulled out the chocolate for Waverly to inspect. It wasn’t the exact one she wanted but it was pretty close, and she was sure it would taste just as delicious. Even if it didn’t, she wasn’t sure that anything could bring down her excitement for the evening ahead.

“Yeah, that’ll work. Thanks baby.” Waverly took it from Nicole’s hand as she moved forward and gave her the welcome home she deserved. Nicole grinned into the kiss and pulled Waverly as close as she could. As they broke apart, Waverly couldn’t help the dopey smile on her face. She couldn’t wait to propose to Nicole. “Dolls still coming?”

“Yeah, pretty sure even if he didn’t want to Wynonna would be dragging him along anyway.” Nicole chuckled to herself as she started to put the groceries away.

Waverly knew Dolls was coming, what she really wanted to know was whether or not he had given anything away during their past few shifts but as she considered Nicole’s face, it didn’t seem like it.

Waverly had ended up telling both Wynonna and Dolls her plan. When she had called to see where Wynonna was the week before and she was at his place, she figured it wouldn’t hurt to have one more person who knew and who she knew was pretty damn good at keeping secrets.

“This is going to be fun, if everyone leaves still liking each other, we should do it again.” Nicole came up behind Waverly and wrapped her arms around her waist, she pressed a tender kiss to Waverly’s neck and she had to remind herself not to just ask Nicole right there and then.

That evening would be the first time that both their families and Dolls had spent an extended period of time together. Gus and Susan spent a fair amount of time together already, but Waverly was a little worried about Wynonna and her penchant for inappropriate jokes at Waverly and Nicole’s expense. Gus was more than used to it by now, unfortunately and she had all but stopped trying to get Wynonna to cut it out. Clearly, Gus felt it was a battle she would never win. Susan and Gerry on the other hand, they had not spent all that much time around her sister and she wasn’t sure how exactly that was going to go.

“Maybe we could have everyone out to the homestead once the work is finished?”

“Yeah…I like the sound of that.” Waverly leaned further into Nicole’s touch. A house warming party and an engagement party all rolled into one sounded perfect.

After nearly two hours of preparation in their small kitchen, everything was ready for the night ahead. Waverly really couldn’t wait until they had the big kitchen at the homestead to work with instead of the tiny one they currently had to deal with.

Dolls and Wynonna arrived first, just as Waverly was taking Nicole’s lasagne out of the oven and they helped themselves to beers from the fridge before helping her get all the food on the table.

Once Nicole had arrived back from walking Murphy, Dolls kept his attention by playing around with him in the living room while she and Waverly put the final touches to the table.

By the time everyone else had arrived, Waverly had started to feel nervous.

What if what she wanted to say wasn’t good enough? What if Nicole wanted this to be a private moment and not one in front of an audience? She wished she had been the one to take Murphy out for a walk. She would have had some time alone to clear her head.

Susan could obviously sense her nerves and when Waverly went back into the kitchen to fetch the bottle of wine she’d forgotten, Susan followed.

“Waverly.” Susan put a gentle hand on Waverly’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “You’ve got this, ok?”

Susan smiled as Waverly turned to face her and nodded. She had this. She would do it right before everyone tucked into dessert. She hoped that Susan had remembered to hide the bottle of champagne she’d bought a few days ago in her car.

Waverly was thankful that everyone around the table had plenty to catch up on, she wasn’t having to make much conversation and she was able to go over and over exactly what she wanted to say a few final times in her head. As Nicole cleared everyone’s plates away, Wynonna gave Waverly a reassuring nod which she attempted to return confidently.

Nicole came back through, an uneasy smile on her face, carrying the dessert Waverly had made in one hand and a cheesecake that she had definitely not made in the other. Dolls made a sound that Waverly was sure was a laugh before Waverly turned to face him and the laugh morphed into a decidedly fake sounding cough.

“I didn’t know you didn’t want us to bring anything,” Dolls said innocently, and Wynonna let out a full-bellied laugh. How had Waverly managed to miss them arriving with that? She had obviously been far more distracted than she thought.

“I must have forgotten to mention…” Nicole continued to smile awkwardly, and Waverly just rolled her eyes. She knew Nicole hadn’t forgotten but really, she didn’t care.

As Nicole set both options down on the table and sat down before passing out bowls to everyone, Waverly stood. Nicole gave her a questioning look and Waverly reached down for her hand after she finished handing out the dishes.

“I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for coming this evening, we both want to thank you all for the help in repairing and redecorating the homestead. It’s a big job and honestly, we are both so grateful that we have such amazing people in our lives.” Waverly knew she was speaking for both of them when she said that; they’d had plenty of conversations where they’d realised how lucky they were that so many people were pitching in. They had more people to thank than just those around the table but there was simply no way of having all of them round to their small apartment, that would definitely have to wait until they’d moved.

“Yeah, thank you.” Nicole squeezed her hand as she smiled around the table. “We know we’re a long way off being able to actually move in, but we would be even further away from it without you guys.”

“Well…” Waverly beamed down at Nicole as she turned to look up at her. “we might be a little further along than I’ve let on…”

“What?” Nicole’s eyebrows raised, and a look of pure delight appeared on her face.

“Yeah…we could move in next week if we wanted.” Waverly watched as Nicole’s smile grew and she looked like she might be about to stand up and hug Waverly, but she let go of Nicole’s hand and placed it onto her shoulder to keep her sitting. Nicole’s eyebrows pulled together, but Waverly really wanted Nicole to be sitting down for the next part; she wanted to be as close to her face as possible and Nicole towering over her would not help with that. “There’s just one thing I need to do before we move in…”

“What?”

“Nicole,” Waverly said, before taking a steadying breath.

Gus let out a tiny gasp and Waverly couldn’t help but smile. She hadn’t told Gus about her plans, mainly because she wanted that exact reaction. Nicole’s eyes went wide as Waverly lowered herself to the floor and brought the ring out of her front pocket.

“You’ve been my best friend since probably a week after we first met, and I think I always knew this was where we were headed after we actually got together. Even if your mom really didn’t like me at first.” Waverly shot Susan a wink and everyone around the table let out a laugh. Waverly returned her focus to Nicole, who was hanging on every word she was saying. “I don’t know why I was waiting for you to ask me this question, maybe you were waiting for me, but…Nicole, will you marry me?”

“Waves…” Nicole quickly wiped a tear from her eye and stood up, taking Waverly with her. “Just give me a sec, ok?” Nicole squeezed her hand and then let go, she walked straight out of the room and Waverly was frozen, staring at the spot Nicole had just vacated.

Did Nicole not want this? After everything they had talked about? Moving to their new home, having a kid or even kids…had Nicole decided that that wasn’t what she wanted anymore?

Panicked, Waverly looked to Susan who looked equally as concerned and then to Gus, who weirdly, had a smile on her face. Before Waverly could ask what could possibly have her so amused at a time like this, Nicole cleared her throat from behind Waverly.

“Waverly.” Nicole’s voice turned Waverly and the gasp that came from Susan before she got all the way around had her panicking all over again but the sight she was met with calmed her in a heartbeat. Nicole was down on one knee, with a ring of her own held up for Waverly. “I was going to do this after dinner but…looks like you beat me to it.” Nicole chuckled, and Waverly pulled Nicole up from the floor, grabbing tightly onto her wrist.

“You scared the shit out of me!” Waverly closed her eyes as she shook her head. “I thought…”

“What? That I didn’t want to marry you?” Nicole cupped Waverly’s cheek as she opened her eyes, she was met with the softest smile and the tiniest look of guilt on Nicole’s face.

“Well, you did walk away, Red!” Wynonna cut in and when everyone turned to glare at her, she slunk back into her seat with her hands up in surrender.

Nicole grabbed Waverly around the waist and pulled her closer. “I just thought two rings were better than one. It’s a yes from me, what about you?”

“Yes! Of course, it’s a yes!” Waverly laughed, and her tears came quickly. She placed the ring on Nicole’s finger before her vision became too hazy and then held out her hand for Nicole to do the same.

“Can’t believe you thought I was going to say no.” Nicole smirked, and Waverly quickly pulled her in for a kiss.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

“So, Gus knew?! “ Waverly asked for the third time since everyone had left…this time from between Nicole’s thighs. Nicole threw her head back in frustration. They’d been over this but somehow Waverly just couldn’t wrap her head around how Gus had managed to keep this secret from her.

“Yes! Baby, please…can we talk about this later?” Nicole ran her fingers through Waverly’s hair with pleading eyes.

“Sorry.” Waverly ducked her head and rested it on Nicole’s thigh. “Yeah, we can talk about this later.” Waverly kissed Nicole’s skin softly, and Nicole nearly begged for Waverly to go back to what she had been doing but just as the words were about to fall from her lips, Waverly moved back in.

It hadn’t exactly been the plan to fall into bed as soon as all their guests had gone home; Nicole had a million questions as to how the homestead was suddenly ready for them to move in. As soon as the front door closed though, their eyes met and there wasn’t a force on earth that could have stopped them from coming together in that moment.

“Ok, so Gus knew but no one else did. I didn’t even tell my mom.” Nicole had her head on Waverly’s chest, trailing her fingers up and down Waverly’s stomach as they finally shared all the details of their individual proposal plans.

“I told your mom I was going to do it,” Waverly laughed, and Nicole pressed her lips to Waverly’s bare skin with a smile. She didn’t expect that, she totally expected Waverly to have told Gus if she was planning to propose. “I wonder what they would have done if they both knew we were both going to do it tonight?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Nicole chuckled, she really didn’t. Would they have told them and ruined the surprise? Or would they have let it happen, but both known exactly what was about to go down? “At least we know they’ll keep a secret from each other if we ever need them to! Did you really think I was going to say no?”

“I didn’t know what to think…I mean, I had been wondering what exactly was taking you so long to ask me but then I thought maybe you were waiting for me and then you just…”

“I guess walking away right after you asked wasn’t exactly the best idea.” Nicole grimaced, she hadn’t really thought it through. All she knew was that she wanted Waverly to know she had the exact same plan for that night.

“You think?”

“I’m sorry.” Nicole kissed Waverly’s chest once more before lifting her head and leaning into Waverly’s lips. “For taking so long and for walking out right after you asked.” Nicole connected their lips, but Waverly was holding back, just like she did every time she had something she wanted to say. Nicole pulled back and nodded for Waverly to say whatever it was.

“I thought maybe you’d been second guessing everything we talked about…and that’s why you hadn’t asked me.” Waverly’s eyes darted away from Nicole, and she felt a sharp pull of guilt in her stomach; she never wanted Waverly to think for a second she didn’t want everything that they had discussed for their future.

“I wasn’t second guessing, it was more…I don’t know, thinking that this was all still too good to be true,” Nicole said honestly. She reached up and stroked her thumb across Waverly’s cheek. “but when I spoke to Gus, she told me to stop overthinking and just do it already!” Nicole laughed, it had been exactly what she needed to hear. “That was literally yesterday, and I went straight out and bought the ring! It didn’t even occur to me that you might have had an ulterior motive for this dinner!”

“I really did want to thank everybody, this was just on top of that.” Waverly lifted Nicole’s hand and ran her finger along the band with a smile. “Do you want to see the pictures of our house I took yesterday?”

“Yes.” Nicole sighed, our house. Waverly jumped out of bed, grabbed a t-shirt and pulled on the underwear that had been cast aside in their rush to the bed. She ran out of the room and came back with her phone and Murphy in hot pursuit. She jumped back onto the bed and he followed, tail wagging and tongue hanging out. Waverly really had a knack for getting him all riled up right before they were heading to bed.

“Murphy! Down,” Waverly commanded but he did that adorable head tilt, walked around in a circle and settled at the end of their bed instead. They were never going to have the bed to themselves for a whole night.

As they scrolled through the pictures, Nicole could see their whole life playing out before her eyes. Where their kids could play and run around with Murphy, maybe even a second dog if they wanted one. Where Nicole would rest after a long day at work and snuggle up with Waverly in front of the fire. It looked so remarkably different from that first time she had gone to see it with Waverly and her promise of making happier memories there was so close.

 

Five years later

 

“Baby…” Waverly’s moan woke Nicole from her sleep. She wasn’t sure how long ago her eyes had actually fallen closed again, but it definitely was not nearly long enough.

“Baby.” Waverly nudged her.

“Hmm?”

“He’s hungry…” Waverly sighed, and Nicole groaned as the unmistakable crying finally made its way to her ears. It was her turn, she knew that but getting her body to respond to the request was another matter entirely. “Babe?”

“Yeah…yeah.” Nicole rubbed at her eyes, a futile attempt to get them to open properly through her sleepy haze. “I’m up.”

“Thank you.” Waverly leaned in close and kissed her shoulder before rolling over and burying her face in a pillow.

Nicole’s eyes finally opened to the darkness of their room and she forced herself out of bed. She padded through to the room next door, lifted the adorably small body from his crib and carried him downstairs clutched tightly to her chest.

The crying didn’t stop until the milk from the bottle reached his lips and his eyes slid closed in a far more peaceful manner.

“Joseph, what are we going to do with you?” Nicole asked aloud, even though she knew she wouldn’t be getting an answer.

He was relentless, since the day they brought him home from the hospital it seemed he was always hungry. They were up throughout the night, every night and while Waverly would normally be kind enough to deal with it, on the nights when Nicole wasn’t working the next day they split the work equally.

Nicole got comfortable on the couch while Joseph finished his half bottle. Murphy came over and rested his chin on Nicole’s knee.

“I know, buddy.” Nicole sighed. Murphy loved Joseph, he would sit and watch him sleep, when he did sleep. The moment he stirred though, Murphy would escape downstairs before the crying could start and Nicole couldn’t blame him. The cries were deafening even to her ears and if she didn’t love her son so damn much, it would probably drive her insane.

With the bottle empty and Joseph looking like he was ready to go back to sleep again, Nicole walked slowly up the stairs, followed closely by Murphy who would no doubt curl up beside the crib the second Nicole put Joseph down. She was careful of any noise that might bring him out of almost slumber and she set him down gently onto his back, turned on the musical nightlight that Wynonna and Dolls had gifted them and left the room as the calming music started to lull him into a full sleep. At least for the next few hours.

Nicole climbed back into bed, hopeful that Waverly was so exhausted she wouldn’t wake up but for a moment Nicole thought she had failed in her attempt to let her sleep. She was sure the hand sneaking around her waist was connected to her sleeping wife, and the mumbles followed by deep breathing confirmed that Waverly was blessedly still fast asleep.

The following morning, Nicole woke up in an empty bed. She could hear soft singing coming from the floor below and she lay happily in bed listening to the melodies Waverly was humming.

Sometimes she still couldn’t believe how lucky she was. Waverly was her wife, her wife. They had a beautiful son, who even if he was particularly stressful for the time being, she wouldn’t change for a second. He was theirs and he was everything they had wanted.

Nicole had spent years trying to convince herself that the life she had now was the life she actually deserved. That she deserved to be truly happy. She had really started to believe that was true but the moment she had laid eyes on their son, it was like everything that had settled within her the day her and Waverly said “I do” locked into place, permanently.

She pushed herself out of bed, pulled a pair of pajama bottoms on over her boxers and made her way downstairs to the kitchen. The sweet sounds of Waverly’s singing guided her all the way. Waverly was standing, swaying her hips along to her song choice as she grinned down at Joseph who stared upwards from his bouncer, fascinated by his mother.

“Morning, beautiful.” Nicole came up behind her, she wrapped her arms around Waverly’s middle and pressed her lips to the side of Waverly’s head as she greeted her, the same way she had greeted her for years.

“Good morning.” Waverly turned in her arms and brought her hands up to the baby hairs at the base of Nicole’s neck. “Do you know what day it is today?”

Nicole smiled and shook her head, even though she knew exactly what day it was. They had never counted it as their anniversary, but it was still a special day to them.

“The first day that I kissed you.” Waverly leaned in and placed her lips softly to Nicole’s.

Nicole closed her eyes and she swore she was right back there again, on her mom’s couch with her heart in her throat and the most beautiful girl she had ever seen in her arms.

“Mmm, how could I forget?” Nicole mumbled against Waverly’s lips before a burp from near the floor had them both looking down at their son.

Nicole squeezed Waverly’s hip before releasing her and bending over to pick Joseph up. She placed him over her shoulder and gently began to pat his back. Waverly pressed a quick kiss to Nicole’s lips before she went back to preparing their breakfast and Nicole hummed softly as she continued to burp Joseph.

“Want to bust out the ol’ Wall-E DVD tonight and totally not watch it?” Nicole smirked over Joseph to her wife.

“Now, would that be because the little man is going to interrupt us every twenty minutes or…?” Waverly smiled over her shoulder and Nicole couldn’t help but laugh.

“How about we make a deal?” Nicole whispered into Joseph ear, loud enough for Waverly to hear her. “You let your mommies have one night and then you can scream the house down for the rest of the month?” Nicole pretended like she was waiting for an answer and Waverly’s giggle brought out one of her own. Joseph burped up at her before a tiny smile appeared on his face, happily relieved of the gas.

“I really hope that meant yes,” Waverly sighed, moving back in beside Nicole to place her lips softly onto Joseph’s head and then to Nicole’s lips. “I love you, even if we probably won’t be able to get some time to celebrate tonight.”

“My mom is still desperate to have him for a night, she thinks it’ll be good for us…and him.” Nicole held on to Joseph tightly with one arm as she wrapped the other around Waverly’s waist. She’d mentioned it a number of times before, but Waverly was having a hard time considering a night where Joseph wasn’t so close to them. Waverly had a very difficult time spending time away from him. Nicole understood, she felt the same way, but she knew why it was often much harder for Waverly.

Her pregnancy had been almost too easy, right up until she went into labor. It had ended up lasting far longer than was entirely safe for Waverly or their unborn child and Nicole had eventually managed to convince Waverly to accept the drugs offered to her. She had wanted so badly to do it naturally, despite Nicole’s reassurance that there was absolutely nothing wrong with taking the edge off, but when she simply wouldn’t have been able to carry on without it, she finally accepted. By the time they had delivered him, Joseph was as distraught as Waverly. The only thing that kept her calm for the near twenty-four hours following the birth was holding him close.

Nicole could see Waverly thinking it over. If she said no, Nicole wouldn’t push it, but she did think it was important for all of them to get used to it in the long run. Nicole knew that Waverly had to be totally comfortable with the idea before they went ahead with it, otherwise it wouldn’t matter that they had the night to themselves, Waverly would spend the whole night worrying.

“Ok…” Waverly nodded before placing another kiss to Joseph’s head and pausing in her retreat to inhale his smell. “I’ll give your mom a call.”

“If you’re not ready for that it’s-“

“I’m not but I’ll probably never be fully ready, and I have to get used to it, right? Once I go back to work, I’ll have to be ok missing him.” Waverly smiled sadly, and Nicole nodded. She understood that, she missed him and Waverly every day she was at work but coming home to them both everyday was one of the best feelings in the world.

“I love you.” Nicole squeezed Waverly closer and rest their foreheads together as Waverly hummed contently.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as Susan had said she and Gerry were happy to have Joseph to stay overnight, Waverly decided that she and Nicole deserved more than just a night in watching an old movie. Even if that movie brought the most wonderful memories back to her.

They hadn’t been out out since before Waverly hit six months into her pregnancy. Nicole had taken every extra shift offered to her to help with all the money they were just about to spend. She had barely cut back on her hours, except for the few weeks she took off after Waverly gave birth, she wanted to make sure that Joseph had absolutely everything he needed. Waverly knew exactly how hard Nicole worked and she deserved a nice night out.

Waverly made a reservation and dropped both Joseph and Murphy off with their grandma. Murphy happily strolled over and got himself comfortable on the couch while Waverly spent far too long saying goodbye to her son. Susan watched silently; she understood it was hard. They hadn’t been separated for a single night since he was born and even if she knew Susan, a mother and a qualified nurse, was perfectly capable of dealing with any problem that might arise, it was harder than she ever thought it would be to leave him there. She told Susan to call her if she needed anything at all and while the look in her mother-in-law’s eye told Waverly she would be leaving them be for the night, she promised she would call if she thought she should.

By the time Waverly got back to the homestead, she thought Nicole might have already gotten herself ready for their evening out. Instead, she found Nicole lounging on their bed reading a book, in the same comfy clothes she’d been wearing when Waverly left.

“You know I booked the table for six o’clock, right?” Waverly shook her head with a smile, she didn’t begrudge Nicole for sneaking in some relaxation time before they headed out but she’d rather they weren’t rushing out the door.

“I know.” Nicole grinned back at her, she placed her book down on the bedside table but stayed exactly where she was.

Waverly moved to their closet to try find something nice to wear. She hadn’t lost all of the baby weight, she was absolutely determined to eventually, mainly so she could actually fit into all of her old clothes again. Most of them still fit fine but her favourite dress was just that little bit too snug to feel comfortable and she didn’t exactly have the time to go clothes shopping now that Joseph was around.

Waverly noticed Nicole was happily taking in the view but for the first time in their relationship, Waverly actually felt self-conscious around her wife.

They had been intimate since Joseph was born, more than a few times but it always had been late at night or interrupted before it really got anywhere. Waverly had also taken to staying in her pyjamas long after Nicole had gone to work so their old routine of getting ready around each other simply hadn’t happened for a while. Waverly wasn’t sure if Nicole had really seen the lingering effects that her pregnancy had had on her body in the clear light of day.

“Baby…” Nicole’s voice pulled Waverly right out of her thoughts and she realised that she’d been standing with her hands ready to pull off her top for quite some time. “You ok?” Nicole jumped up from the bed and circled her arms around Waverly’s waist. “If it’s too much to leave him for the night, we can go pick him up.”

“No…it’s not that.” Waverly bit down on her lower lip, feeling nervous about verbalising her fears.

Realistically she knew it was silly, Nicole loved her and not just for her body, and of course Nicole had seen her after they’d come home from the hospital. The fact of the matter was that it had been months and Waverly’s body was still showing the after effects when naively she thought it might not. It probably always would in some areas and the idea that Nicole could find her less physically attractive was a fear she had regardless of how much she knew Nicole loved her.

“You’ve not really…seen me, like this, properly since…”

“Baby…” Nicole seemed to understand, her face softening and her hands around Waverly’s waist pulling her closer.

Nicole lowered herself to the floor on her knees, she gripped the edge of Waverly’s top and looked up into Waverly’s eyes with a question, Waverly nodded. Slowly, Nicole lifted Waverly’s clothing to reveal the stretch marks and her still slightly protruding belly. Both of which Waverly had spent more than enough time noting in the bathroom mirror each morning while Joseph napped. She didn’t hate them, they were a reminder of the life she had brought into this world, but she couldn’t say she particularly liked them either.

Nicole placed her lips delicately onto Waverly’s skin as her fingers grazed the lines her mouth wasn’t touching.

“Of course I’ve seen them baby,” Nicole said against her skin and Waverly let out a staggered breath. She didn’t know that; maybe that would have helped. “This doesn’t change the fact that you are still, without a doubt, the single most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

“You don’t have to say that…” Waverly could feel tears prickling the corners of her eyes as Nicole laid one last kiss to her skin before rising to her feet and meeting Waverly’s lips.

“Well…I think technically as your wife, I do.” Nicole grinned as she pulled back from the kiss. “But it doesn’t make it any less true.”

“You’re such a sap, you know that, right?” Waverly let out a watery laugh as a few tears fell from her eyes and Nicole wiped them away.

“We don’t have to go out tonight, we can just stay in if you want? I think we have everything I’d need for that casserole you like.” Nicole rested her forehead against Waverly’s and as Waverly looked into her eyes, she saw just how much care was pouring out of her wife.

“We should go, it’s been months!” Waverly said decisively; she had worked out exactly how long it had been on her drive back from Susan’s, down to the day, and honestly it had been far too long since they’d done something for themselves.

“Ok…I can get ready in the bathroom and leave you to it, if you want?” Nicole tilted her head a little, giving Waverly the option of privacy if that was what she really wanted. Waverly gave a tiny shake of her head as she pulled herself out of Nicole’s embrace and urged her to sit back down on the edge of their bed. “No baby, stay.”

Nicole’s eyes didn’t leave her the entire time she got herself ready and each time Waverly would look over, she saw the same desire and want that had been in Nicole’s eyes all these years. When Waverly was ready, she held out her hand for Nicole, who jumped up from the bed and took it happily, squeezing it tight before threading their fingers together. As they shared a quick kiss Waverly felt silly for not sharing her concerns with Nicole earlier, she would have saved herself a lot of self-doubt.

“Are you going to get ready now?” Waverly asked, it didn’t seem like Nicole had any intention of letting go of her.

“If I must.” Nicole chuckled, she pressed her lips to Waverly’s cheek quickly and nodded her head towards the bed. Waverly took over Nicole’s position on the edge of it and looked on confused as Nicole disappeared from the room.

“Nicole?” Waverly called out as she was sure she heard some rustling from the closest of the room next door but before she could get up to investigate, Nicole was back in the doorway holding a garment bag that Waverly hadn’t seen in quite some time.

“It’s a special occasion, right?” Nicole said, with a nervous smile and all Waverly could do was nod as her confusion turned to elation. She really loved that outfit on Nicole.

Nicole beamed as she hung up the bag on the back of the door and began removing its contents. Waverly was no longer in any hurry for Nicole to get ready, she hadn’t been allowed to see her put it on the first time and she was going to enjoy every second of it now.

It had taken Nicole months longer than Waverly to decide what she was going to wear on their wedding day, she’d tried a couple dresses but decided none of them felt right as well as a few suits that she felt made her look far too rigid. On the day she had found this particular ensemble, she had called Waverly while still looking in the mirror and told her it was perfect. Waverly hated that she had to wait weeks until she could see it but when she finally did, she knew exactly what Nicole meant.

The suit Nicole finally decided on was the perfect cut, the perfect color and it drove Waverly wild from the moment she laid eyes on it until the moment she had eagerly helped Nicole get out of it later that night. Seeing Nicole wearing it again brought back some exceptionally pleasant memories and she suddenly felt a little underdressed, even if they were only going out for a meal in Purgatory.

“Should I change? I would’ve picked something a little nicer if I’d known you were going to wear that!” Waverly stood from the bed and started towards the dresser but Nicole caught her wrist and spun her around.

“What you’re wearing is perfect, baby.” Nicole smoothed down the sides of Waverly’s top and leaned down to meet her lips in a kiss. “I just know how much you liked this on me.”

“I do. I really do.” Waverly ran a finger down Nicole’s skinny black tie with a wide grin that Nicole returned before she took Waverly’s hand and led them down the stairs for their evening out.

 

Purgatory hadn’t changed all that much over the years, there were still pretty limited options in the form of evening and late-night entertainment if you didn’t want to go to a strip club or a bar full of biker dudes that would inevitably get into a brawl at some point.

One thing that had changed though, was Shorty’s.

Shorty had sadly passed away a couple years back and the diner lay empty for nearly a year before someone brought it. Waverly still couldn’t quite get over the fact that Chrissy and Doc had gone into business together, but Doc had the capital and Chrissy had the know-how thanks to her business degree and the impressive internship she’d completed before moving back to town.

It still had the same charm, a similar but slightly updated menu and with the only other options in town being less than impressive, Chrissy had the wise idea of keeping the establishment as a diner during the day and a proper bar after the dinner rush died down for the night. Waverly was sure they had to be making a killing, the place was far busier than it had ever been when Shorty was around.

Waverly had made her reservation with the hostess over the phone even though she knew they’d be able to get a table thanks to knowing both owners, but she wanted the night to feel like a real date. It had been far too long.

Nicole nodded to each of the town’s residents she knew, most of them even better than Waverly now due to her role in the community. They made their way through to their table and took their seats.

Nicole immediately started looking over the menu, but Waverly let her eyes linger on her wife. It was hard to imagine what direction her life might have taken if she hadn’t met Nicole. It wasn’t something she thought of often, but she’d thought about it enough to know she might never have realised her attraction to women and god forbid, she might have ended up marrying a man like Champ or Pete. Both of them hadn’t seemed to grow up a single inch since they’d all left high school. She could have ended up staying at her first university, never moved back to Purgatory, never had the son that she loved more than she ever thought was possible…never had Nicole to call her own.

“You’re staring at me…” Nicole grinned down at her menu and Waverly laughed. How did she always know?

“I can’t help it.” Waverly reached over the table and took Nicole’s hand. The table layout had changed over the years, so they couldn’t actually sit in the exact same place that they had been on this night all that time ago, but it was close enough in Waverly’s book. “Do you know how thankful I am that you invited me over that night?”

“Maybe…” Nicole finally looked up at her. “Probably about as thankful as I am that you actually showed up.”

“Yeah.” Waverly nodded before she began to look over her own menu, keeping their hands locked across the table.

After a lovely dinner, Waverly nipped through to the back office to see if Chrissy was in. She seemed to be placing an order of some kind on her computer but stopped the second she saw Waverly standing in the doorway.

“Hey, dinner on Thursday next week?” Waverly asked, it had been a while since they’d had anyone over and she needed to catch up with her friends. “I’m going to message Steph too.”

“Yes! Absolutely, seven work for you two?”

“That’s perfect. Dinner was wonderful by the way; new menu is really great.” Waverly beamed, she was so proud of the work Chrissy had done.

“Thank you.” Chrissy blushed and rolled her eyes, but Waverly knew she really had appreciated the compliment. “Joseph with you guys?”

“Susan’s…he’s staying the night.” Waverly sent her friend a tight-lipped smile and Chrissy gave her a sympathetic one in return.

“He’ll be fine.”

“I know…just weird not having him so close.” Waverly had managed to keep her mind occupied throughout dinner but now that they would be heading home, and she wouldn’t have to go through their nightly routine with him, all she could think about was how he was getting on with Susan. “Nicole’s waiting...but I’ll see you Thursday.”

“Have a good night, you’ve earned it.” Chrissy winked, and Waverly rolled her eyes, even though she was pretty sure that what Chrissy had in mind was definitely going to be happening when they made it home.

The whole drive back to the homestead, Waverly was painfully aware of how distracted she was. She wanted to focus on Nicole, on how great their night had been, but she couldn’t shut her brain off from worrying. When they pulled up outside, Nicole reached over and stilled Waverly’s bouncing knee.

“Baby.”

“Sorry.” Waverly shook her head and leaned over the car to rest it on Nicole’s shoulder.

“It’s weird for me too but it’s one night, what would you say to both of us taking our mind off of it?”

“I’d say that was a very good idea.” Waverly lifted her head to place a kiss on Nicole’s cheek, but Nicole quickly turned her face and she caught her lips instead. Nicole smiled into the kiss and as she deepened it, Waverly could feel herself finally relaxing.

They made their way inside and immediately up the stairs. Nicole began undressing Waverly, her mind now fully on what was happening right then and there. Nicole’s lips rolled down her neck and her hands caressed the areas where she knew Waverly always loved being touched, as they lay back on the bed. Her body was relaxing more and more as Nicole’s lips travelled further down her body and before she could stop it, a yawn escaped her mouth. Nicole chuckled and made her way back up Waverly’s body to lie next to her.

“Sorry.” Waverly covered her mouth as another yawn came and Nicole smiled down at her like she’d not just totally ruined the mood. “Keep going baby. I’m good, that was good.”

“You’re tired.” Nicole was still smiling as she ran a finger down Waverly’s cheek. Waverly sighed and regretfully nodded.

“So tired…I’m sorry.”

“Never something you have to apologise for. I’m actually pretty tired myself.” Nicole chuckled and stood up from the bed. She dropped her pants and pulled off her shirt followed by her bra. She reached into the dresser to grab a t-shirt for herself and one for Waverly to sleep in.

“We can still-“ Before Waverly could even finished her sentence, another yawn took hold and she grabbed at the shirt Nicole was dangling in front of her before slipping it on and throwing herself back onto the bed. Nicole climbed in beside her and pulled her in close.

“How about we get the first good night’s sleep we’ve had in months and then tomorrow, before my mom comes to drop Joseph off, we can mess around a bit.” Nicole grinned, raising an eyebrow and placing a soft kiss to Waverly’s waiting lips.

“We have been married for three and a half years, should you really still be referring to it as ‘messing around’?” Waverly teased as she settled against Nicole’s chest, already feeling sleep coming for her. She hadn’t realised just how tired she was until her body had hit the mattress. “Happy first kiss day, baby.”

“Happy first kiss day to you too.” Nicole chuckled lightly before reaching over and turning off the lamp at the bedside. She pulled Waverly tightly against her and let out the most contented sigh Waverly had ever heard from her.