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Of Rocky Starts and Smooth Finishes

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“That was cute.” A crumpled piece of paper hits Waverly’s knee and bounces to the floor, landing among the chalk pile she has managed to nervously collect. “Sticking it in my chalk bag when I wasn’t looking. But you’re going to have to try harder than that to throw me off my game.”

Against her better judgement—Waverly knows that voice, damn it, and never likes a single damn thing that it says—she uncrinckles the paper as she stands and turns towards its owner. Dyke is scribbled in heavy black ink, graying slightly from the chalk it’s soaked in. “What?”

“Look.” Nicole’s smile is predatory as she takes the piece of paper back and drops it into her chalk bag. “I know you don’t like me, Earp, and I’m not your biggest fan either, but that was a low blow, even for your standards.”

“I don’t have time for this.” Waverly’s halfway through lacing up her shoes and she’ll be damned if Nicole slows her down again. She turns to head to the opening in the wall that will ultimately decide today’s fate, faltering a moment to spin back and glare at Nicole. “But for the record, I didn’t do it. I don’t like you, but I’m not an asshole.” She takes a moment, as if deciding her next plan of action, then turns away, tacking on a, “And fuck you for thinking that I did.”

When she sees Nicole an hour and a half later after the competition is over, she’s surprised to note that Nicole has taped the piece of paper brazenly over her chest.


 

“Impressive dryfire, Earp. Second to last hold, right? Did it take off a finger?”

Waverly freezes at the sound of her voice. Her hands are still shaking from the adrenaline rush, fighting to shove her water and chalk into her gym bag and get the hell out of there. “Are you actually asking, or did you just come over here to mock me?” She zips up her bag and spins.

“Maybe a little bit of both.” Nicole shrugs, but it turns into a smirk a little quicker than Waverly would appreciate. “All in good fun, right?” There’s a certain sting to her voice parallel to how a cat might also consider cornering a mouse fun.

“You’re an ass, Haught.” Waverly replies.

Nicole furrows her brow. “No, you said that wrong. It’s, You’re a hot ass .” She crosses her arms over her chest, effectively covering the makeshift sticker made from climbing tape and determination.

“Are you done?”

Nicole analyzes her for a moment, reveling in the way Waverly squirms under her gaze. “Sure hope that shaking is from the climbing.” As much as Waverly hates to admit it, Nicole’s smile is something else, and okay, so maybe a little bit of the shaking is due to close proximity to someone she has yet to admit she is attracted to.

“Adrenaline rush,” Waverly snaps back. It’s quicker than she intended it to be and she can feel the onsets of a blush creeping over the back of her neck. Her hands begin to shake a bit more.

With a bit of convincing, she’s able to to tell herself it’s from anger.


 

“It was that fucking barn door that got me,” Waverly hisses. The shredded skin on the tip of her fingers is a clear indication of her dryfire off the second-to-last move from the top, securing Nicole directly into first and her, once again, into second.

Which Nicole had been all too quick to point out, anyway.

“Jesus, take a breather. I’m still proud of you.” Wynonna is well aware Waverly’s beyond consolation at the moment. A little banter here and there never hurts, but the vast majority of her anger always ends up dissipating by the next morning. “Go for a run. Shake it off.”

Waverly isn’t listening. “She fucking beat me again. All because she got lucky and—”

“We both know that wasn’t luck, babygirl.”

The look Waverly shoots her is strong enough to kill.

“And some douchebag wrote ‘dyke’ on a piece of paper and stuck it in her chalk bag when she was warming up and she thought I did it, which, like, okay, so I can be a bit of a prick sometimes but I’m not that much of a prick.” Waverly huffs and leans back against the car seat. The windows to the jeep are rolled down and the top is off, whipping her hair into her face as if to taunt her for losing.

Wynonna’s hand adjusts on the steering wheel. “It was a hard set, and you topped out both of the other climbs. One foot cut, Waves. That shit happens to the pros.”

“That shit doesn’t happen to Nicole.” It’s callous, muttered under her breath as she slumps back.

Wynonna pretends not to hear it.


 

The last person Waverly wants to see at six o’clock in the morning when she gets up to train is Nicole fucking Haught, but there she is, hands dipping into her chalk pot before wiping against her legs to get the extra off. She’d hoped the gym would be empty when she arrived, as it usually is at the asscrack of dawn, but it’s like Nicole is spiting her.

Waverly tries her best not to notice and sets about to loudly throwing her gym bag onto the bench. If she’s going to be sharing this space with Nicole she may as well let her know that she damn well isn’t pleased about it.

Nicole still has yet to actually get on the wall by the time Waverly has made her way over. “I didn’t know you could read,” she snarks.

“Books?” She doesn’t tear her eyes from the wall.

“Anything. Wall included.”

“All this talent doesn’t come from pure luck,” she replies. “Guess you saw a little snapshot of that yesterday when I read well enough to avoid the dryfire you didn’t. How’s that finger doing, by the way?”

Waverly’s face grows hot. “That’s not what happened.”

Nicole chalks up again. Sunlight streams lazily in through the ceiling vent, illuminating the clouds of chalk she kicks up when she draws her hand from her bag and claps them together. As much as Waverly despises herself for admitting it, Nicole is almost ethereal looking. Stark red hair and legs that stretch for miles, always covered in chalky handprints reminiscent of hours spent slaving away at the gym, torn hands and bloody fingers be damned. “Sure as shit looked like it, sweetheart.” She makes her way to the wall and turns back around to smile, all too cheeky for Waverly’s taste. She’s toying with her. “You missed the heel out left.”

Waverly glares.