with a little help from my friends
you by my side
holding on for dear life
with the sun in my eyes
and with all of your love you let go of
my little red bike
- ‘Little Red Bike’ by Mindy Gledhill
“Tommy Hopper said what?” Wynonna’s voice is loud and shrill and Nicole can’t help but wince. “Baby girl, go get your shotgun. I’ve got Peacemaker. That boy’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
“Whoa, whoa, stop,” Nicole near shouts to catch the sisters’ attention. “You two are not going to threaten a teenage boy with guns, even if he is a homophobic asshat.”
“You heard what that shiteater told Belle,” Waverly hisses, and she’s got the same fire in her eyes that Nicole had to quench just minutes ago. “He needs to know that shit’s not okay , whether he says it to our daughter or somebody else.”
“What she said,” Wynonna chimes and she’s already got Peacemaker in hand, checking the cylinder of the old Colt buntline.
Nicole shoots her a glare before resting her hands on her wife’s upper arms. Some of the tension in her posture dissipates and she crosses her arms, mindful not to knock away Nicole’s hands. “What do you propose, then?” she asks.
And Nicole nods because the bomb is defused for the time being, and she can handle this. “Wynonna and I are going to go find that boy and sit him down for a good talking-to.”
Waverly narrows her eyes. “Why does Nonna get to go but not me? She’s my daughter and you’re my wife,” she huffs.
“Because you two,” she waggles her index finger between Wynonna and Waverly. “Will feed off each other’s anger. And we.” She points at herself and then her wife. “Would be just as bad. Wynonna and I together would be at least marginally better than the other two options.”
Both of the sisters grouse under their breaths, but Nicole refuses to budge.
“And everybody still thinks Wynonna’s a crazy chick with a gun, so that bumps up the intimidation factor.”
“Fine,” Waverly grumbles petulantly. “But I’m going to stay here and take a nap on the couch, and when you two get back from whatever the hell it is you’re gonna do, we’re going to bail our kids out and go to breakfast.”
“I told them I’d make them wait until shift change,” Nicole tells her. “And that we’d go to the hospital first.”
She raises an eyebrow and the look on her face brokers no room for arguing. “We’re going to take our kids to breakfast and then we’ll take them back over to the fire station so Daniel can look them over.”
“Sounds good, sis. We’ll see you later!”
Nicole wants to say more but Wynonna has her by the wrist, tugging her forcefully toward the exit. “Try to get some rest,” she calls out instead, and Waverly disappears into the sheriff’s office.
Officer Paten and Deputy Sheriff Price share a look. “I should probably follow them,” Paten says, and Price nods in agreement. “Should I… arrest them if it comes down to it?”
Price clicks her tongue against the back of her teeth before shaking her head. “Unless they’re actively destroying property, let them do whatever they’re going to do and then get ‘em in your cruiser and bring them back here. Let ‘em wait in a cell until Waverly decides to bail all of them out.” At Paten’s somewhat baffled expression, she clarifies, “Tommy Hopper probably deserves whatever he’s got coming to him and the sheriff won’t let anything get out of hand.”
Officer Paten rests her hands on her duty belt as she saunters toward them. Her eyes look pointedly at the cling wrap box still in Wynonna’s hands to the mickey of Jameson that Nicole is holding. Behind them is a truck wrapped almost completely in plastic wrap.
“Sheriff,” Officer Paten drawls.
“Officer Paten,” Nicole greets as if they haven’t just vandalized somebody’s property. She doesn’t try to assume her sheriff’s persona. They’ve been caught red-handed, though she’s pretty sure that she’d do it all over again anyways.
The deputy’s eyes flicker to Wynonna. “Earp.” She also takes note of the toilet paper streaming from the trees, blowing gently in a pre-dawn breeze. They were efficient; she’d give them that, considering they left the station only an hour ago.
“Heya, Erika,” Wynonna grins. Without breaking eye contact with the young deputy, she pulls the last of the plastic wrap from the roll and drops the box. “I just gotta—” She gestures at the truck and leans down to tie the end somewhere near the back left tire.
“Wynonna!” Nicole snaps through gritted teeth.
And of course Wynonna stretches upright and claps her hands together as if dusting them off after a job well done.
(It’s totally a job well done.)
Officer Paten can’t hide the bemused smirk on her face. “You two want to get in the back of the cruiser on your own?” she asks, throwing her thumb over her shoulder.
“One thing first.” Wynonna takes the bottle from Nicole, twisting the cap off and swallowing a mouthful of whiskey. Her best friend grabs it back from her, eyes shifting between her deputy and the pain in her ass. She takes a long pull — too much because she starts coughing. She screws the cap back on as Wynonna slaps her on the back a few times. “Now we can go.”
Chagrined, Nicole hands the bottle to Officer Paten and follows Wynonna’s path to the car. The officer can only sigh and gather the empty plastic wrap boxes littering the gravel driveway. She dumps them into her trunk and rests the half empty bottle of liquor on the floor of the passenger seat’s footwell.
“Your wife isn’t going to be happy, Sheriff,” Paten says as she turns the ignition.
Nicole thumps her head against the headrest in the back. “Shit,” she mutters under her breath.
Wynonna pats her leg. “You can sleep at the Homestead when Waverly kicks you out. We’ve still got the trundle bed for when the kids stay over.”
“Was it worth it, at least?” the officer inquires as she steers toward the sheriff’s station.
“I’d do it again,” Nicole tells her, and she hears her daughter’s voice echoing those same words, defiant and proud and laced with vigilante justice.
“Fuck yeah, we’d do it again,” Wynonna cheers. “Tommy Hopper and Chump’s spawn and any of the other shitheads that spewed shit tonight can eat shit.”
Officer Paten hides her grin from the rearview mirror. “Sounds like a lot of shit.” It comes out straight-laced, without an undercurrent of humor, and she’s proud of herself.
“I’m so not drunk enough for this conversation,” Nicole mumbles.
The cruiser rolls into the station’s parking lot, and Officer Paten lets the two of them out of the back. “Come on,” she says, ushering them in front of her and into the building.
Wynonna groans dramatically, which only leads to Nicole jabbing her hard in the side.
Price quirks an eyebrow as they pass by her desk on the way to the cells. “Sheriff?”
“Aphrodite made me do it,” she says with a shrug, not that anybody outside of their family understands the long-running gag.
Wynonna snorts. “Like anybody could make you do anything you don’t want to do, Haught.”
Paten shakes her head in resignation as she continues to try to shepherd them down the hall and to the rear of the station.
“Shut up, Earp.”
“Make me, doughnut squad.”
“See if I ever buy you a jelly doughnut again,” Nicole grumbles.
Wynonna fake gasps. “You wouldn’t!”
They glare at each other for a moment and Paten can’t tell if they’re seriously fighting or if this is just their normal banter. She tends to work nights because she likes the quiet, so she doesn’t often witness their ribbing when they’re at the station during the day. God, she hopes they don’t actually get into it.
But then Nicole playfully hip checks the other woman with a smile on her face. “Don’t worry, Earp. You’re still the peanut butter to my jelly.”
Wynonna grins, smug and satisfied, and she bumps her shoulder against Nicole’s. “And you’re the jelly to my doughnut.”
The officer sighs, waiting for the buzzer to signal that the door is unlocked. Mercifully, it sounds a second later and she pushes the door open, waiting for the two vigilantes to walk through the doorway.
“Mom? Wynonna?” Belle stares at them in confusion. “I thought you weren’t picking us up until shift change?”
Paten unlocks the cell next to the one where Belle is sitting on the edge of the concrete bench with Alice’s head in her lap. The older girl is fast asleep, sprawled out with limbs stretching in every direction. She’s confused when the officer swings the cell door open and points her mom and aunt inside.
Nicole takes a second to look at her daughter and niece. She thinks it’d be an adorable sight if they weren’t black and blue and in a jail cell.
Of course, Wynonna thinks they’re an adorable sight because they’re black and blue in a jail cell. “Our kids are awesome,” she says in admiration.
The door to the jail cell clangs as Officer Paten closes it, keys turning the lock before making a hasty retreat back to the bullpen.
“Uh, so what happened?” Belle asks.
Wynonna lies down on the bench, much like her daughter in the cell next to them. Nicole opts to lean against their shared cinderblock wall.
“Your aunt is a bad influence, Belle,” the sheriff-turned-jailbird laments.
“Belle, your mom is amazingly skilled at teepeeing a house. You should be proud.”
Nicole can see the shit-eating grin on her sister-in-law’s face, and she swats at her knee in protest. Even if she is first-rate when it comes to toilet papering somebody’s house. Not really information that their kids need to know.
“Whose house were you teepeeing?”
“Tommy Hopper’s. His dad’s a narcissistic ass, too,” Nicole answers.
She looks at Wynonna and sees her head lifted just enough to peer at her with those blue eyes of hers, and there’s a question there. Wondering if she really did fuck up, dragging Nicole to the 24-hour drugstore to buy their stock of plastic wrap and a bottle of Jameson whiskey. Questioning if it really was worth it.
Nicole shakes her head. “No regrets,” she says, and it’s just loud enough for Wynonna to hear, to offer her reassurance.
The door buzzes again. None of them expect whirlwind Waverly to blow through it.
“You—” She points a finger at Wynonna. “ —and you!” Nicole receives the same angry stare and pointed finger. “What are you? Sixteen again? You said you were going to talk to that shit-ticket, not teepee his house and Saran wrap his car!”
“You Saran wrapped his car?” Belle asks, and the amazement in her voice is enough to earn a dirty look from her mama, too.
“We might have also Saran wrapped his car,” Nicole answers, and she can’t help but be a little proud of herself with how impressed her daughter sounds with her delinquency.
Waverly throws her hands into the air. “I’m in a family of miscreants,” she complains. “All of you. Miscreants.”
Alice stirs with the commotion in the room. “Why are we miscreants?” she asks sleepily, the last vestiges of alcohol still softening her tongue.
“Our moms are in the cell next to us,” Belle explains and Alice bolts upright when she hears it.
“Mom?” she says, louder than necessary in the small space.
“Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, baby girl.”
And Alice starts laughing. Really laughing. The kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes and makes you gasp for air because you just can’t stop. The kind of laughter that bows you over and leaves your stomach muscles aching because you’ve laughed so hard that it hurts.
It’s infectious. Because Belle is soon giggling and then full belly laughing. In the cell next to theirs, Wynonna’s snickers turn into full guffaws. Nicole holds back, though. She fights her chortle as she steps toward the bars and Waverly meets her there. They reach for each other’s hands, and Nicole brushes her lips against Waverly’s knuckles.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I really did plan just to find the kid and talk to him. But I didn’t really mind Wynonna’s plan either.”
“It was a good plan. At least until you got caught,” Waverly whispers back. “I’m not really mad. I just wish you would’ve taken me with you. I’m an expert when it comes to teepeeing.”
Nicole chuckles at that, grinning at her wife. “This is why I married you, Waverly Haught.”
Waverly tilts her head, curious. “Oh really, Nicole Haught? Because I’m good at trivial vandalism?”
She doesn’t answer right away; she contemplates the woman before her. The woman she’s loved for over twenty years. “Because you are extraordinary,” she breathes.
(Because Waverly is the air to her lungs and the blood to her heart. Because Waverly is her everything.
And so is that brave girl with the blonde hair and moss green eyes, sitting in the jail cell next to them.
Her family means everything.)
“You’re extraordinary, Waverly.”
Waverly blushes at that. She’ll never get over the way that Nicole says it. The way that Nicole makes her feel it. Makes her feel extraordinary. She presses her own kiss to the back of her wife’s hand. “I’m going to go talk to Price about getting you out of here. See if you can’t calm them down? They sound like a bunch of hyenas.”
Nicole laughs and Waverly smiles and who knew some of the best family bonding time could happen in adjacent jail cells? Maybe it's just a Haught-Earp thing.