Chapter 1: Yes (I see my dreams in reality)
“Al, wait up!” Adeline Haught calls after her cousin while running through the backyard of the homestead.
Wynonna and Waverly are sitting at the table on the porch watching their girls play. Alice is seven now and has blossomed into the headstrong leader of the duo. Adeline is always happy to help her older cousin with whatever plan she has concocted. Which today means helping her find a way to get themselves into the big tree, along with a quilt, several popsicles, and a posse of stuffed animals.
“What are the odds that one of them breaks an arm?” Wynonna asks, taking a sip of her coffee.
“I’d say 50/50.” Waverly replies.
She rubs her hand over her swollen stomach. She’s eight months pregnant and lately she’s been feeling the pregnancy more than she did four years ago with Adeline.
“You alright?” Wynonna asks when she notices the grimace on her sister’s face.
“Yeah, just sore. Whales don’t do well on land.”
“You’re pushing yourself too hard.”
“I am not.”
Wynonna gives her best ‘oh please’ look.
“What do you want me to do? I have a four year old, a job, and a house to take care of.”
“You also have a wife that can help with that stuff. Just like, take a nap or something.”
“You were fighting demons while giving birth. I don't think you have the right to tell me to take it easy.”
“That was different. We aren’t in any imminent danger right now.”
“When you’re an Earp that’s never guaranteed.”
Wynonna shrugs and leans back against her chair. This isn't anything Waverly hasn’t been hearing for the past six months or so but she’s still a little annoyed that everyone is trying to coddle her.
They both turn to look when a pained cry echoes across the yard. They move to stand up, Waverly much more slowly than her sister. Adeline is on the ground holding her knee. Wynonna holds out her hand to stop Waverly from moving. Alice is running toward her cousin and she’s a little curious to see how this pans out.
“Hey, you’re okay.” Alice says, “See? No blood.”
“Does it look okay?”
“Totally. Let me help you up.”
Alice stands and extends both hands to help Adeline up. It takes most of her body weight to leverage her cousin up but once she’s standing they’re both off and running again. The injury already forgotten.
“You know who they remind me of, don’t you?” Waverly asks.
“It’s like looking in a damn mirror.”
Waverly turns at the familiar voice. The voice that is etched into her soul. The voice she’s been waiting all day to hear. She lets her wife wrap her arms around her shoulders. She kisses her temple twice before moving to kiss her lips.
“Hey Haught.” Wynonna greets her.
“Hi sweetie, how was work?”
Nicole moves to stand in front of them.
Before Nicole has time to react she is bombarded by two small bodies.
She falls to the ground and the girls pile on top of her. They all fall into a fit of laughter. Waverly’s heart feels like it could burst. She isn’t sure she’ll ever get over how wonderful Nicole is with their daughter. Not that she didn’t see it coming. The minute Alice was born, Nicole was wrapped around her finger. She always knew that when it was their own child that infatuation would only grow.
“Auntie Nicole, we made a fort, wanna see?”
“Duh, let’s go.”
She lets both girls take one of her hands and show her their set up in the branches. She oohs and ahhs and says something about a palace that Waverly can’t fully make out. She picks Adeline up and peppers kisses all over her face.
“Your girl is a goof.”
Waverly’s smile gets even bigger, “She really is.”
Nicole hefts both girls into the tree before climbing up into it herself. They can’t hear what she’s saying but Alice and Adeline erupt into a fit of laughter.
“Wynonna, why is our daughter in a tree?” Doc asks, rounding the side of the house.
“Because she’s a kid, that’s what kids do.”
“Not when I was a child.”
“Had God even created trees when you were a child?”
Waverly suppresses a laugh and Doc gives her a smirk. He takes his hat off and runs his hand through his hair. He and Dolls have been doing some maintenance on the house but in this heat they’ve needed quite a few breaks.
“Did you push Dolls off the roof?”
“I have had that dream many times,” Doc plops down in the chair next to Waverly, “but he is inside getting a drink of water.”
“Why don’t you guys call it a day?” Waverly suggests, “It’s almost dinner time anyway. I can cook something.”
“No.” They both say at the same time.
“Sit there. Don’t move.” Wynonna says, as if speaking to a dog, “Me and Haught pants will whip something up.”
Waverly sighs heavily.
“Nicole, get out of the tree and come help me make dinner. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.”
“But Mama.” Alice whines.
Next to her Adeline looks just as disheartened.
“Why don’t you guys go play with the bubble machine Mama got you, Ads. Maybe after dinner we can run in the sprinklers.” Nicole wiggles her eyebrows and hops out of the tree.
Both girls jump down into her arms and are off running again. Nicole walks over to Waverly and gives her another kiss. She leans down and kisses her stomach.
“How you doing, baby?”
“I’m good. Hungry.”
“What would you like?”
“At this point anything edible.”
Nicole scoffs, “Okay, we’ll make it quick. Doc, keep an eye on my lady.”
Doc tips his hat and they watch her disappear through the screen door.
“Daddy, come play with us.” Alice calls out to him.
He stands with a huff. His body protests every movement. All he wants to do is go to bed but he too has been enchanted by Alice and can rarely say no to her. Alice turns on the machine that Waverly got for them. Doc looks startled by the contraption and the girls find it hilarious. Their giggles fill the whole yard.
“What in tarnation?”
“It’s bubbles, Uncle Henry.” Adeline says.
She pulls out the wand and demonstrates for him. Her little light blue glasses slip down her nose. The day they got them for her, about a year ago, Waverly turned into a pile of mush. She looks adorable in them and the magnification makes her brown eyes seem even bigger than they already are.
“She looks like a little scientist.” Nicole joked and Waverly had to agree.
“Jeremy is going to love it.”
The girls are three years apart and Alice is much taller than Adeline, about two heads taller. She inherited her father’s height while Adeline is stuck with Waverly’s. She never seems to mind though, always happy when someone picks her up or when she climbs into Nicole or Waverly’s lap for a cuddle.
Waverly looks up at her daughter, walking toward her, rubbing her eye.
“Are you sleepy, baby?”
Waverly knows she’s lying. It’s been a long day for her. The girls have been out in the sun and heat for a majority of the day; breaking only for meal times. Adeline didn’t even have her usual nap. She climbs into Waverly’s lap which is a much more difficult feat these days. She rests her head on her shoulder and sighs. Her tiny hand falls onto the top of Waverly’s bump. If they didn’t have to eat dinner, she would already have her in the bath. But she needs to eat so she speaks to her, asking her questions about her day and making her laugh, to keep her awake.
“Alice and Adeline go wash your hands for dinner.” Nicole says, walking back onto the porch, “Uh oh, are we fading?”
“A little bit.” Waverly says.
Nicole picks Adeline up and helps Waverly to her feet.
“Dinner first then right to bed, for both of you.”
“Mommy.” Adeline whines but she’s too tired to argue further.
Dinner goes by quickly. Alice entertains the troops with stories of her day. Dolls and Doc talk about their next move for the house. Wynonna and Nicole talk about a case that the sheriff’s department is working on. Nicole hasn’t been able to put Adeline down so she eats with her left hand while making sure her daughter is eating her own food. Waverly is quiet, just taking it all in; her strange little family, all together, happy and safe.
Nicole and Waverly had a small cottage of their own built on the homestead when they got married. Although, if their family continues to get bigger they may soon outgrow it. They walk back home, hand in hand. Nicole has Adeline in one arm, her head resting on her shoulder. Her small hand with a fistful of her shirt. When they get inside Waverly heads straight for the shower while Nicole puts their daughter in the bath. Adeline’s head lolls to the side when Nicole works the shampoo through her golden curls.
“I missed you today, munchkin.”
“Missed you too.”
“Did you have a good day with Mama and Alice?”
“Mhm,” A yawn escapes her, “Auntie Nonna said we’re crazy pants.” She says with a giggle.
“Well she isn’t wrong. Alice has taught you well.”
“No way,” Adeline’s giggles get louder before they stop and she sounds much more serious, “Mommy?”
“Is the baby a girl or a boy?”
Nicole smiles at her seemingly random question.
“We don’t know yet, why?”
“Cause Al says it’s gonna be a boy cause we already have too many girls.”
“You can’t have too many girls.”
“That’s what I said.” Adeline throws her arms up and splashes them back down into the water, “I think it’s a girl.”
“Yeah? And what should we name her if she is a girl?”
Her tiny features scrunch up into a pensive expression, much like Waverly’s when she’s reading or working on a case.
“Amelia. It’s got a A like me and Al.”
“Another A name, huh?”
Adeline nods decidedly and stands up when Nicole pulls the plug from the drain. Alice and Adeline having the same first initial originally was not intentional. Adeline was a name they finally agreed on and so it stuck, but they hadn’t even begun to think of names for the new baby yet, at least not seriously. Maybe A is the new W and all of their children will have that tie to keep them together; she supposes it’s something to think about.
She gets her out of the tub and wraps her in a large towel. She kisses her temple a couple times before depositing her on the bed in front of Waverly who is already waiting, her own hair still wet, starting to curl with the humidity. She’s holding a hairbrush and Adeline tries to grab it away.
“Mama, I don’t want to brush.”
“I know, but if we don’t those curls are going to be a nightmare tomorrow.”
Nicole laughs, she knows all too well the horrors of trying to brush Adeline’s hair when it’s dry. She grabs her pajamas, a set with unicorns on it; something Waverly found hilarious.
“Do you want a song or a story tonight, love?”
“Um, song please.”
She stands and clumsily puts on her clothes, at first putting her shirt on backward before fixing it and climbing under her covers. She grabs her blanket, the one Waverly knitted for her during her pregnancy; the same one Alice has and the same one she’s making for the baby. The only difference in the soft, light grey blankets is in the color of the trim; Alice’s is a light blue, Adeline’s sea foam, and the baby’s a light green. Once the baby is born she will embroider the name just like she did for the girls.
“Alright Mama, that’s all you.” Nicole says, sitting at the foot of the bed.
She is all about reading to Adeline or making up a story at bedtime but when she wants a song that’s Waverly’s territory. Nicole couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. Waverly sings a soft and sweet rendition of Here Comes the Sun and before the second chorus Adeline is out. They tiptoe out of the room and shut off the light.
They make it back to their room and Nicole takes the opportunity to shower the day off of her. She doesn’t take too long because she’s exhausted too. She wants to have a little bit of time with Waverly before they fall asleep. It’s one of the best parts of her day.
Waverly is reading, the lamp next to her side of the bed is on, illuminating her face just barely. She has the tiniest hint of a sunburn on her nose and light freckles have started to appear on her cheeks from all the exposure to the sun. Nicole gets dressed in shorts and t-shirt before she climbs into the bed behind Waverly. She grabs the lotion from the nightstand and lifts Waverly’s tank top. She lathers her hands in the cocoa butter and spreads it across her skin. Waverly lets her head fall back onto her shoulder. She sighs and Nicole kisses her cheek.
“Exhausted. It isn’t easy hefting around all this weight.”
“You’re gorgeous, Wave. You’re giving us the best gift in the world, again, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
“I would do it ten more times if that’s what you wanted.”
“Oh God, ten of them. That’s a nightmare. I think we should stop before they outnumber us.”
Waverly’s head lifts up and she maneuvers enough to look her in the eye.
“You don’t want anymore kids after this one?”
“Oh, uh, I mean I don’t know. This little one isn’t even out yet. Do we need to talk about it now?”
“No, I guess not.”
Nicole puts her shirt back down and rolls out from behind her. She helps Waverly find a comfortable position, moving blankets and pillows, and adjusting the fan three different times. She finally settles into the mattress and stares at her wife. She can’t help but smile, a stupid, goofy, dimpled smile whenever she looks at her.
“Close your eyes, baby. Get some rest.”
Waverly’s eyelids flutter closed and Nicole places one more chaste kiss on her lips.
“I love you.”
As Waverly drifts off she manages to get out one more sentence, “I love you more.”
Chapter 2: Welcome to the Club
Not sure what this rambling mess is, sorry. But I love these dopes so much.
“Hey Ads.” Wynonna greets her niece when she notices her lingering in the doorway.
“Hey, have you seen my moms?”
“Not today, they must still be at work.”
Adeline nods and looks like she wants to say something else but she doesn’t speak. Her shoe squeaks against one of the floorboards and she avoids making eye contact with Wynonna.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Where’s Al?”
“With her dad. What’s going on? You’re fidgeting. You don’t fidget.”
“I don’t want to tell you.”
This makes Wynonna’s stomach coil. Her and Adeline have always been close, so whatever’s going on must really be bugging her if she doesn’t want to say.
“You’ll make fun of me.”
Where she would normally be sarcastic, there isn’t a hint of humor in her tone. She smacks the couch cushions and waits until Adeline concedes and takes the spot. She doesn’t speak right away but Wynonna knows she will. She’s a lot like Waverly in that way. So she waits.
“I got my period today and I don’t know what to do.”
“Oh, that’s it?”
Adeline looks up at her with a quirked eyebrow. This clearly was not the reaction she was expecting.
“I thought you were going to tell me you got expelled or like, murdered someone.”
“Those were the two options?”
Wynonna smiles, “Well, you are my niece after all. But this?” She makes a noncommittal gesture with her hand, “This we can deal with.”
When Nicole comes home, she isn’t surprised to find the cottage empty. She walks over to the main house and into the living room. Alice is working on homework at the kitchen table, Asher right next to her drawing in his sketchbook. Wynonna is on the couch with Adeline’s head in her lap, she’s sound asleep.
“Hey, is she alright?”
Wynonna looks down when Nicole gestures toward her daughter, almost like she forgot she was there.
“Oh, uh, yeah, she’s fine.”
She shakes Adeline’s shoulder. Her eyes open slowly and she stretches her arms down before sitting up.
Nicole smiles at the greeting. Adeline has done it since she was young and she realized that everyone else in town called Nicole Sheriff, but it still makes her mothers smile. She stands and wraps herself tightly around Nicole; which gives away the fact that something is definitely up.
“Wynonna, can Asher stay here for a while longer?”
Wynonna nods. The kids usually congregate to one house or the other altogether after school and on the weekends anyway. She calls across the room, getting the attention of both of the other kids.
“Hey Ashtray, wanna help me make dinner?”
“Sure Windex.” He replies without even looking up.
Nicole pulls on Adeline’s hand and they start walking away from the house. It’s starting to get dark but it’s still light enough for them to see where they’re going.
“So what’s going on with you?”
Adeline shrugs and puts both of her hands in her sweatshirt pockets. She starts to walk a little faster but Nicole’s legs are much longer, so all it really does is match her natural stride.
“Not buying it. Did something happen at school?”
Adeline is quiet for a while. She keeps walking, hoping the crunch of the gravel will stop Nicole from noticing her sniffles and her tears. Of course it doesn't, she’s a cop after all. She pulls her into her arms and wraps her up tightly again.
“Hey, hey, okay, you’re okay,” She kisses the top of her head, “I got you.”
“Don’t apologize. Can you please tell me what’s going on?”
Adeline is an Earp through and through, which usually means showing as little emotion as possible, so this piques Nicole’s fears.
“I just got scared, I guess. That’s stupid but I just, I don’t know.”
Nicole wants to know what she’s talking about. She’s trying desperately to follow along but she has no clue.
“I know we talked about it but I don’t know, it just took me by surprise.”
Nicole is stunned for a second before she starts laughing. Adeline steps back from her arms and looks pissed.
“It’s not funny.”
“No, sweetie, it’s not. I’m not laughing at you.”
“Yes you are.”
“No, I’m just so relieved. I thought you were going to say something completely different.”
“That I got expelled or murdered someone?” She asks, with a knowing hint to her tone.
Nicole sobers again, “No, but now I do have some questions.”
Adeline starts toward the homestead again, not that they got very far. Nicole can tell she’s made her really upset. Her shoulders are up by her ears and her fists are clenched tightly by her sides. It’s the same body language she’s seen from Waverly quite a few times over the years; the same body language she desperately tries to avoid.
“Ads, wait, please. I’m sorry.”
“Whatever. Forget it.”
Adeline bypasses the main house and heads back to the cottage. Waverly has just gotten home and is taking her coat off when Adeline storms into the house and into her bedroom, slamming both doors behind her. Waverly turns with raised eyebrows to her wife when she walks through the door.
“Do I want to ask?”
“I put my foot in my mouth.” Nicole says with a sigh.
Waverly smiles and kisses her wife. She isn’t completely unfamiliar with turbulence between her wife and daughter. They are both strong willed, stubborn, and fiercely protective which ends in some heated arguments from time to time.
“Maybe go ask her. Hopefully you’ll have better luck.”
Waverly gives her one more kiss, “I’ll be over for dinner in a bit.”
Waverly knocks on the door and waits until she hears a muffled ‘what?’ Before opening the door.
“Hi, can I talk to you?”
Adeline is lying on her bed, facing away from the door. She is curled up into a ball. Waverly sits behind her and rubs her back; she takes it as a good sign that Adeline doesn’t move away.
“What’s going on? Why are you mad at Mom?”
“I don't want to talk about it.”
“Come on, not even with me?”
Waverly leans over her and sticks her bottom lip out. She rests her chin on her arm and she can feel her shift a little.
“Whatever Mom said you know she probably meant it in a different way. She’s kind of famous for that awkward fumbling word vomit.”
“She laughed at me.”
Now Waverly is very confused. Nicole would never do anything with malice when it came to their kids, or anyone really, but especially their children.
“I told her something in confidence and she laughed at me. It’s the same reason I didn’t want to tell Wynonna, or you, or anybody.”
“Adeline, you know you can tell any of us anything. We love you.”
“Yeah, well sometimes everyone in this family can be real assholes.”
Waverly wants to chastise her, for the language and for the insult, but she isn’t wrong.
“Can you tell me what you told her? I promise I won’t laugh.”
Adeline rolls over and she looks into her Mama’s eyes. Sizing her up, judging if this time it will be different. Waverly does the same, she looks tired, her eyes are red, and she looks defeated.
“I got my period.”
There’s a long silence. Waverly is waiting for her to continue.
“Why is that everyone’s immediate response?”
“Because it’s not that big of a deal.” Waverly says softly.
“Well it sure didn’t feel that way today. It felt like a very big deal.”
Waverly feels guilt in her chest. Of course it did. She tries to think back to when it happened to her. She didn’t have anyone to talk to but Gus, and to say she was less than empathetic would be an understatement.
“I’m sorry, you’re right. I guess it happened such a long time ago for me and Mom we forgot what it felt like.”
“You’re not that old, Mama.”
Waverly taps Adeline’s leg and she shifts so they can sit next to each other against the pillows. Adeline rests her head in the crook of her neck and closes her eyes.
“Are you alright?”
Waverly idly draws on Adeline’s thigh with her fingertips.
“Yeah, Auntie Wynonna talked me through the basics.”
“You told Wynonna first, now that’s a gamble.”
“Well, I looked for you but you weren’t here and neither was Alice, so I went with what was left.”
Waverly snorts and kisses the top of her daughter’s head.
“How did that go?”
“It was fine. I wish it had been you, though.”
“Me too, sweetheart. You could have called me.”
“I didn’t want to bother you.”
This makes Waverly’s heart hurt. She has been exceptionally busy with work lately but she didn’t think her kids seemed to mind all that much, maybe she should reconsider that.
“I always have time for you. How do you feel now?”
“My stomach hurts.”
“I’m sorry. We’ll get you some medicine for that.”
Adeline sighs. The door squeaks when Nicole peeks her head through. Her expression is a mix of sadness and guilt.
“Do you still want my head on a spike?”
“No, I’m over it. I know you didn’t do it to be mean.”
Nicole moves over to sit in front of them, “Never.”
She pulls Adeline forward and kisses her head. She pulls her into a hug. Waverly rubs her lower back and they both feel her whole body loosen.
“Welcome to the club, baby.”
“This club sucks.”
“At least admission’s free.” Nicole says.
Adeline scoffs which makes them all laugh. Adeline scoots closer so she can pull Nicole in tighter and rest her head on her shoulder.
“Why don’t we go get some dinner and then cuddle up and watch a movie?”
Adeline is quiet all through dinner. Asher kicks her leg under the table to make her look up at him.
“Why are you acting weird?”
She looks back down at her place and pushes her broccoli along the blue design on the edge. She isn’t hungry. She has a headache and her stomach is starting to hurt worse.
“You gotta eat, baby.” Nicole whispers in her ear.
She pushes the heel of her hand into her lower abdomen and fights a grimace. Nicole rubs her back with her free hand while continuing to eat.
Waverly helps Wynonna and Alice do the dishes. Asher goes back to the cottage while Adeline and Nicole settle on the couch to wait for Waverly. Adeline groans and rests her head in Nicole’s lap.
“Is it always this shitty?”
“Hey, watch the language,” Nicole warns with a poke to her forehead, “but pretty much, yeah.”
“I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”
“Your cramps are that bad?” Nicole asks, this makes her a little worried.
Neither her or Waverly suffer an extraordinary amount of pain during their period, so she isn’t completely sure what to do for her. Normally Adeline has a high pain tolerance, she barely blinked when she broke her wrist and she is always sporting some new injury. She rests her hand on Adeline’s lower stomach and rubs gentle circles. They gave her medicine and it definitely should have been working by now. She lets out another groan and a sigh.
“Why don’t we head back to the cottage and get you into a warm bath? That might help.”
“But what about the movie?”
“We can watch it after. You’re not going to enjoy it if you’re in this much pain.”
Adeline looks at her for a minute. Nicole can see the thought work its way through her brain. She’s weighing her options, the way she does with everything. The way that is so Waverly. She sits up and nods.
Waverly peeks her head out of the kitchen.
“I’ve got Ads, we’re going to see if we can get these cramps under control.”
“Are they getting worse?”
“She says they are. I’m hoping she’s just tired.”
Nicole follows Adeline out of the main house and into their own. Adeline goes upstairs and walks into the bathroom. She sits on the closed toilet lid while Nicole fiddles with the faucet. She gets it to a good temperature and sits back on her heels. When she looks at Adeline, she looks like she could fall asleep right where she’s sitting. She sympathizes with her, but she can’t say that she’s ever been this miserable when it came to her time of the month.
“Get in, baby, before it gets cold. I’m going to make you some tea.”
Adeline waits until Nicole leaves before undressing and climbing into the water. Her whole body goes slack against the warmth and for the first time since last night she doesn’t feel like crying. She closes her eyes and lets the water work its magic. There’s a gentle knock on the door a few minutes later.
“Is it working?” Nicole asks, setting the mug of tea on the side of the tub.
“Good. Stay in until it gets too cold, then come find me, okay?”
Nicole smirks at the look on her daughter’s face. She closes the door and when she turns she is face to face with her wife. Waverly wraps her arms around her waist and rests her forehead against her shoulder.
“You’re so good.”
“What do you mean?” Nicole asks, through a giggle.
“With our kids, at your job, you’re just so good. And I think you need to be reminded of that more often.”
“Well,” Nicole kisses Waverly’s head, “if I’m good, then you’re great. We make quite the team.”
“That we do. We also make great babies.”
Nicole doesn’t fight the smile that crosses her lips. She lets herself get pulled into a kiss, much deeper than the last. They stand, intertwined, enjoying the rare quiet moment together until they are interrupted by a voice in the background.
“Mom, can you stop making out with Mama and get me a towel, please?”
They both try to stifle their laughter.
“Our girl is back.”
Waverly grabs a towel from the linen closet and tosses it at Nicole.
The three of them are all curled up in Nicole and Waverly’s bed watching a movie. They tried to get Asher to join them but he decided he was much more content with staying in his room to read the newest stack of comics that Jeremy lent him. It’s probably just as well because they are watching some romantic comedy that Adeline picked out. Well, Nicole is watching it. Waverly is reading under the small lamp on her bedside table and Adeline is sound asleep against Nicole’s chest.
Waverly looks over at them and can’t fight the swirling feeling in her chest. The overwhelming love she feels anytime she sees her wife with their children. She thought it would lessen as the kids got older, she thought it would be more subdued, but with every interaction, every wiped tear and every joke she feels it grow bigger and bigger. Nicole runs her fingers through Adeline's hair. It’s starting to get darker with winter moving in. Her breathing is steady and calm, her chest rises and falls and her hand is loosely gripping Nicole’s shirt.
“Hey,” Nicole whispers, Waverly hadn’t noticed that she was looking at her instead of the television screen, “penny for your thoughts?”
“I’m just thinking about how lucky I am. How much I love you. How much I love how you love our kids.”
It’s clear that this isn’t what Nicole was expecting. She thought she was thinking about a case, or whatever article she was just reading. But, she too finds herself stuck in these moments of utter dumbfounded joy. She will never understand how she was able to find her family, why she was chosen to be this lucky. However it happened, she just hopes that the universe never decides to take it all back.
Chapter 3: I lived through this horror (I can take the next thing that comes along)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Nicole is in the main house. She doesn’t remember how she got there or why she’s there but she’s standing in the kitchen. She’s wearing her uniform, hand steady on the gun on her hip. She can feel her heartbeat in her stomach and her breathing is loud, labored.
There’s the familiar click of the door followed by rapid footsteps. When she turns she’s face to face with a monster. One she’s seen over and over again, one she’s never been able to defeat. It’s big, with burning blue eyes, scratches on its face, head, and chest. It doesn’t speak but screeches. Nicole feels it in her bones. She draws her gun but before she can fire, it’s gone. It vanishes.
The house falls into the same dry silence as before, only for a few seconds before Asher’s terrified screams echo all around her.
She’s running for the stairs but they never seem to end. The longer she runs the taller the staircase gets. She can hear both of her kids crying, yelling for her, pleading. One piercing shriek. Then another. Then that god damn silence.
Nicole sits up in bed. Waverly has her hand on her back but she doesn’t pay it any attention. She walks down the hall. Asher is asleep in his bed, one hand over his head in a loose fist, the other resting on his stomach. She walks over and kisses his head. She kneels down next to the bed and checks his breathing. She watches him sleep for a while.
In her daughter’s room, Adeline is sleeping on her side, her hair splayed behind her. She does the same, a kiss, then a watchful eye. When she walks back into her bedroom, Waverly is sitting up. The light on the nightstand is on, emitting a gentle glow.
“What’s going on, Nic?”
Nicole bites her lip and shakes her head.
“Just a bad dream.”
“That’s the third one this week. And it’s only Wednesday.”
Nicole climbs back into bed and lays on her side making Waverly the big spoon. She kisses her shoulder.
“Do you want to tell me about it?”
Nicole takes a deep breath. There have been so many times where she hasn’t been able to protect Waverly, or Wynonna, or Dolls. She vowed on their wedding day that she will always do whatever she can to keep danger and fear away from her family but she’s starting to think this is one can’t deal with on her own anymore.
“It’s been the same one for a while now. There’s a monster or demon or something.”
Waverly waits patiently.
“It gets the kids and there’s never anything I can do. The situation is always different but the result is always the same. I can’t save them.”
“Honey, it’s not real. We beat the curse.”
“That doesn’t mean anything and you know it. We put Wyatt’s revenants down but there are still an unimaginable amount of demons and witches and whatever else out there.”
Nicole rolls over to face Waverly. Waverly’s fingertips gently touch her face and trail down her neck to play with her necklace.
“Beating the curse only put a bigger target on our backs. That includes our kids.”
Waverly is quiet for a moment. She’s thinking, calculating what she’s about to say in her head so she gets it just right. Nicole learned a long time ago to be patient. She learned a long time ago that Waverly Earp is worth the waiting.
“That might be true, but breaking the curse also armored us with skills and knowledge and strength. It made us tougher than I could have ever imagined. It made us strong enough to protect our kids, and each other.”
“It’s not just the supernatural stuff.” Nicole says, not for the first time since becoming Sheriff. Although the heaviness, the helplessness, is new. “Some of the things I see at work, just the normal everyday people, it makes you realize that nothing’s sacred anymore.”
“We are,” Waverly gestures around the room, “this is.”
“How do you do it?”
Nicole’s eyes rake over Waverly’s face. In the gentle light she looks younger than the day they met. She looks perfect, she always does, but lying in bed, in their bed, she looks like an angel.
“How do you stay so positive?”
“It’s easy. I’ve been proven right, a million times over. I’ve seen how amazing you are, how capable and prepared and steadfast you are. It never took much to make me believe in you, Sheriff Haught.”
Nicole smiles; the gentle, sleepy, dopey smile that Waverly loves.
Asher’s voice echoes down the hall, just like in her nightmare and her heart starts to race. She thinks maybe she never actually woke up, maybe those demons are still taunting her; reminding her of all the good she has, only to rip it away again.
Asher runs into their room, pushing their door open with a long winded squeal. He jumps into the bed between them and cuddles right into Nicole’s chest. She’s always meant safety to her kids. They’ve seen how the town, and their family, look up to her and they know her job is to protect everyone.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“I had a bad dream. The monsters came and took me and Addy away.”
“That sounds really scary, buddy.” Nicole says, knowingly. She places a kiss to the top of his head, “Are you okay?”
“Mhm, but can you come and make sure there aren’t monsters in my room?”
He pulls back and looks up into her eyes. He looks so much like her sometimes it takes her own breath away.
“Sheriff Haught is on the case, sir.” She says with the tip of an invisible hat.
He climbs out of bed and pulls her down the hallway. He freezes at the doorway to his bedroom and lets her go in first. She holds a flashlight in place of her usual service weapon. She takes dramatic turns and rolls around on the floor like a secret agent. It makes him laugh and makes him forget how scared he was only a couple minutes ago.
“All clear in here, Deputy. I think it’s time we call it a night.”
She pretends to sheathe the flashlight in the band of her sweatpants. He giggles and jumps onto his bed.
“Mommy, you’re crazy.”
“I may be crazy, but I’m the best darn monster finder this side of the Ghost River.”
She sits on the edge of the bed and pulls the blankets tightly around his tiny shoulders and kisses both of his cheeks and his nose. She rests her hand on his stomach. The gentle up and down reminds her that she is home, they’re safe for tonight, for now. She gives him one more kiss and speaks quietly.
“I love you, Asher.”
“Love you, Mommy.”
“Close your eyes and go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”
He rolls onto his side and grips his stuffed rabbit. With a heavy sigh he closes his eyes and she knows he’ll be asleep in a matter of minutes. She walks back down the hall, checking in one more time on Adeline. She hasn’t moved an inch.
“Is he okay?” Waverly asks, when Nicole climbs back into bed.
“Yeah, he’s already asleep.”
“I told you, capable. Prepared. Steadfast.”
Nicole kisses her cheek, “Go to sleep, baby.”
Nicole shuts off the light and curls herself around her wife. She can tell by her breathing that Waverly is already asleep again. She whispers to herself against the dark,
“We’re all safe.”
Chapter title is from this Eleanor Roosevelt quote:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
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