Nicole’s life up until this point had been...fairly ordinary.
She went to school. Got good grades. Pissed her parents off. Went to college and joined the police academy. The usual.
It had been so normal, in fact, that at one point Nicole kind of...freaked out. She referred to it as her crisis. It wasn’t a midlife or quarter life crisis...she just...suddenly had a moment. And that moment made her use all her saved up vacation days and take off to Vegas. Then she came back with a wife who turned out to be a much better friend than an actual wife, and not long after, they seperated.
As soon as she came home, she transferred to a small town that was looking for some fresh blood and that’s how she ended up in Purgatory. As much as Nicole pretended to just be paying her rookie dues with what was considered one of the worst shifts, she would volunteer for it as much as possible. Someone would have to pry that shift from her cold dead hands.
Because every night at exactly 9:30pm, she watched as the most beautiful girl she’d ever seen walked into Shorty’s. And she’d sit and wait until 1am when the same beautiful woman would stumble back out, clearly intoxicated but still unquestionably the woman of Nicole’s dreams.
She had long, wavy dark hair and bright blue eyes Nicole swore she could see from a mile away. She also had perfect, ivory skin that Nicole was sure felt just as soft as it looked. That and her devil-may-care attitude...Nicole had never actually spoken two words to her, but she was in love.
Completely and utterly in love.
So for six months, she willingly took the shift. She sat outside of Shorty’s in case of an incident when most of the time it was quiet. Just a handful of people stumbling home. She didn’t expect the small town cop life to be exciting, but this was a new level of boredom. But every moment was worth it for when she got the see the woman that she had figured out was named Wynonna.
Nicole didn’t know much about her and she certainly wasn’t about to go around asking people about her. Especially not with the carefully crafted image of her she had in her mind.
She imagined finally going up and talking to Wynonna. She might be kind of brash and defensive at first, she looked the type, but quickly she would be charmed by Nicole. They’d go on their first date to dinner in the city, and Nicole would kiss her at her front door. While Nicole was driving home, Wynonna would call her and say she missed her already and Nicole might tease her a little bit before saying she missed her too. Then they’d go on another date and be inseparable and eventually get married. Just first...Nicole had to talk to her.
Some day...some day she would get the courage to talk to her.
But today was not that day.
The stale bagel she had gotten should have been an omen that tonight wasn’t going to go well. Still, Nicole remained sitting outside of Shorty’s in her police cruiser with her hard, dry sandwich from that morning.
She chewed the bagel slowly, grimacing as it stuck to the roof of her mouth. Nicole watched the Christmas lights that had been hung up outside the bar blink on and off in different patterns, reflecting off the snow The radio was turned on softly and old Christmas music crooned through the speakers as she sat.
It would be very romantic if not for her only company being a mediocre bagel sandwich.
Mid-chew, a familiar figure walked right besides the cruiser and Nicole inhaled abruptly. Gasping, she quickly grabbed her coffee and drank it down in an attempt to dislodge the bagel from her throat. She hit the steering wheel as she took a deep breath again.
“Fuck,” she coughed, eyes watering.
There was a soft knock on the window and Nicole jumped again, only blushing deeper when she saw Wynonna leaning over and looking in the window. Nicole wiped at her watery eyes and rolled down the window, nerves alight in her stomach. The cold air from the outside hit Nicole in the face and she swore she could smell the snow in the air.
“H-hey,” Nicole said weakly. She cursed herself and cleared her throat. “I mean um...hey. Hi.”
Wynonna’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline and she chuckled. “Shouldn’t you be making me nervous, flatfoot?”
Nicole blushed and hoped the darkness of the night hid it. “Sorry, you just caught me off guard.”
“That’s what everyone wants to hear from their local law enforcement,” Wynonna said. “Listen, Flat Foot, I just heard you dying and wanted to make sure I didn’t have to Heimlich you.”
“I’m good. Thank you,” Nicole said, trying to remain professional. There was so much she wanted to say and her mind was racing. Just a simple ‘hello nice to meet you’ would have worked. But instead she just gaped at Wynonna.
Big blue eyes blinked back at her in confusion. Wynonna just tapped the top of the patrol car. “Alright then,” she said before straightening back up. “See you around, Rookie.”
Nicole watched Wynonna walk away and exhaled noisily.
“Fuck,” Nicole said, letting her forehead fall onto the steering wheel as Wynonna disappeared into Shorty’s. “Fuck.”
Her chance, her one chance and she made a fool of herself. So much for a good first impression. This would happen to her. She used to be so...suave. Nicole would walk into a bar with a swagger that got her basically any girl that she wanted. Not to be stuck up or anything...but she had never had a problem getting a girl.
Then Shae happened...Nicole thought she had found the love of her life. Until they got home from Vegas and actually lived together. The divorce was quick and painless and now they were friends. Especially since they lived hundreds of miles away from each other.
Which is why it was comforting to see her phone flash with Shae’s number at that moment. She slid her thumb across the front and pressed the phone to her ear, head still on the steering wheel.
“Hello?” she mumbled.
“Jeez, don’t sound so happy to hear from me,” Shae joked. “I just called to see how you’re doing. Haven’t heard from you in a while.”
“Fine,” Nicole groaned, leaning back in her seat. “Sorry I haven’t called. I’ve been on the graveyard shift so I figured you’d be sleeping when I was off.”
“You don’t sound fine,” Shae said, waving off the second part of Nicole’s statement. “What’s up?”
Nicole sighed dramatically and wrinkled her nose. “Well…”
“It’s a girl, isn’t it?”
“That could mean...a lot of things,” Shae said.
Nicole looked up towards Shorty’s and wondered what Wynonna was doing now. “Well, remember that woman I told you about? Who I saw every day?”
“Yeah. The drunk one?”
“She’s more than that. But yes,” Nicole confirmed. “Well I talked to her-”
“Oh! That’s good!” Shae said, voice dripping with enthusiasm.
“No, not good. I was choking and made an idiot out of myself,” Nicole said. “Now I definitely don’t have a chance.”
Shae chuckled. “You’re being a little dramatic, don’t you think? Just go in and talk to her.”
“She’s just so pretty,” Nicole sighed, picking at a worn area on the steering wheel. “Maybe someday.”
“You know what they say, you snooze you lose,” Shae singsonged. “Speaking of, want to come over for Christmas?”
Nicole frowned, remembering the last time she went over to Shae’s family’s place for a holiday. It was Thanksgiving and Nicole was sure she wasn’t going to get out alive. She figured that bringing your ex-wife to a family holiday probably wasn’t the best move.
Even still, the hard reality of being alone during the holidays again pained her a little. NIcole would admit she was lonely. She didn’t talk to her parents anymore, had no nearby friends or acquaintances and was definitely not going to spend her holidays with her ex wife. Again.
“Um...I would if I could get more than a day off. Plus flights...Thank you though,” Nicole said with a chuckle. “If I go back into your mom’s house, your Nana will for sure murder me.”
“You’re not wrong about that,” Shae said. “Shoulda known better than to invite a white girl to dinner. How did you not know what black eyed peas were?”
“I’m sorry,” Nicole groaned, smile still apparent in her voice. “I know now!”
“Better late than never,” Shae quipped. “Okay, so you’re not going to dinner at my place. Please tell me you’re not going to do what you did last year and sit alone in your apartment with CJ?”
Nicole shrugged. “It’s a house this year.”
“Nicole. Please just do me a favor. Find some place to go on Christmas or I’m going to fly down there and kidnap you from your sad existence,” Shae said. “Okay? I just don’t want you to be alone like last year.”
“Fine,” Nicole said with a small roll of her eyes. “But I better go. I am still on duty after all.”
“Right right. Okay, well I’ll talk to you later.”
“Go talk to the girl. Bye!” Shae added quickly before hanging up.
A few hours later, Nicole looked at the time on her car dash. One am. Her shift was a half hour away from being done. That meant that Wynonna was due to stumble out at any moment. Nicole ran a hand through her hair and put the beanie back on her head, adjusting the collar of her uniform to make sure it was straight.
She took the half eaten bagel from earlier and made sure it was in the bag before she put it on the floor of the cruiser. Out of sight, out of mind.
“I’m going to talk to her,” Nicole said in a little pep talk to herself. “I’m going to look her in the eye and say...hello.”
Nicole nodded to herself, trying to build up her confidence before Wynonna wandered out of the bar. She opened the tin of mints she kept in the middle compartment of the car and opened it, popping a mint into her mouth before she stashed the tin again.
“Okay,” Nicole said, watching as the door opened. “This is it.”
Sure enough, like clockwork, Wynonna walked out of the bar and into the biting night air. She struggled with zipping up the front of her leather jacket, drunken fingers tripping over the zipper for a moment before she finally got it. Nicole sighed as Wynonna stuffed her hands in her pockets and squinted up at the streetlight like it had offended her.
Nicole put her hand on the car door, ready to get out and talk to her. This was it. Her chance.
Wynonna started walking off back towards the car. Nicole’s heart raced for a moment before she let out a sigh, body going slack in her seat.
No. She couldn’t do it.
“I’m such a wuss,” Nicole said to herself as she watched Wynonna walked past the cruiser and down the street towards the train tracks. “Fuck.”
Nicole felt regret settle almost immediately in her stomach as she watched through the side view mirror as Wynonna walked away. Why was she like this? Completely and utterly unable to talk to this woman. Nicole knew she was supposed to be with her. She knew, deep down in her heart, that Wynonna was important to her. Now she just...had to figure out a way to make it happen.
Her thoughts were derailed when she saw two guys emerge from the darkness, and start walking quickly towards Wynonna from the side just as she was about to cross the train tracks. Nicole sat up a little straighter, eyes on them to see if they were going to try and pull something. One of them had a santa hat on while the other donned a headband with antlers. They were several yards away, but she could get there quickly if she had to. As soon as one of them grabbed for Wynonna’s arm, Nicole was out of her car in a flash.
“Hey!” she shouted, hand on her weapon as she started to jog towards them. “Purgatory Sheriff’s Department! Hands off!”
They didn’t hear her or didn’t care, one yanking at Wynonna’s arm. Wynonna took a drunken swing at one of the guys. The other one punched her in the back of the head and she stumbled forward.
Nicole drew her weapon and started to run towards them as she shouted. “PSD! Step away from her!”
One of the guys noticed her and cursed, giving Wynonna one more good punch before both of them ran away. Wynonna collapsed on the train tracks and Nicole could hear her head hit the tracks even from a yard away.
“Shit,” she said, reholstering her weapon and running the rest of the way up to Wynonna. She quickly knelt next to her, pulling out her small penlight and using it to light Wynonna’s face.
“Ma’am,” she tried, but Wynonna was out cold. Nicole pried open an eyelid and shined the light on her before putting the flashlight away. She pushed the button down on her shoulder mic and spoke into it. “Dispatch, this is Officer Haught. I have a downed civilian on the train tracks near Shorty’s. Can I get an ambulance please?”
“On the way, Officer Haught,” Linda from dispatch replied over the radio.
The blaring of a commuter train caught Nicole’s attention, and she looked down the tracks to see the headlight of one coming.
“Well...shit,” she said looking back at Wynonna’s unconscious form. She looked back at the train and estimated she had about a minute to get Wynonna off the tracks before they both became splattered on the side of a train.
“Wynonna,” Nicole tried, hand on Wynonna’s cheek. “Can you hear me?”
“And why...is your skin so soft?”
The train blared again.
“Okay, focus,” she chastised herself. “Wynonna! Wake up!”
Nicole looked back up and the train was about thirty seconds away at this point and only getting closer.
“Wynonna! Can you move on your own?” Nicole tried once more. Wynonna, predictably, said nothing, so Nicole crouched next to her, lodged one arm under her head and one under her knees and lifted her bridal style. She wasn’t supposed to move an injured person, but it was either this or they both went boom.
Nicole managed to jog off of the tracks just in time as the train moved past them, buffeting Nicole forward a little. Nicole looked down at Wynonna’s face. So peaceful looking if Nicole didn’t know that she had just been punched in the face and probably had at least one concussion. It would have been very much like a fairytale. Except for the whole...Wynonna being out cold thing.
The sound of the emergency siren could be heard in the distance and Nicole carefully set Wynonna back on the ground. On safe ground where she wouldn’t get hit by a train. Nicole gently pushed some hair away from Wynonna’s face before shrugging off her coat and bundling it to put under Wynonna’s head like a pillow.
The cold winter air bit at Nicole’s skin through her uniform shirt, but she didn’t mind.
“Maybe I should have just talked to you,” Nicole said softly, stomach fluttering at how close she was to Wynonna. So close and she could stare unabashedly with her out like this. “Shae is really gonna tear me a new one for this,” she muttered to herself as the ambulance pulled up next to them.
Nicole followed the ambulance to the hospital. Was it a little above and beyond what she was supposed to do? Sure. But it was Wynonna. She couldn’t leave her alone. Even for a second. She wanted to make sure that Wynonna would be okay. It wasn’t a good hit to the head. Not that any hit to the head was, but this one seemed especially bad.
She haphazardly parked the cruiser behind the ambulance as they were taking Wynonna out on the gurney, and Nicole walked in beside it.
“Is she okay?” she asked one of the young paramedics.
They looked at her nervously. “It’s not great. But we can’t say much until the doctor sees her.”
“Shit,” Nicole said, reaching for Wynonna’s hand and squeezing it gently. She kept holding her hand, thumb brushing over her knuckles and marveling at how soft she was, when they wheeled her into the hospital. A doctor immediately met the gurney.
“What happened?” he asked as they started to walk towards a curtained area.
“Patient was hit in the face and hit their head on the train tracks,” the paramedic said.
Nicole just watched helplessly as the nurses came and swarmed the bed, taking Wynonna’s vitals and sticking her with things. The paramedics were soon gone but Nicole was still there holding Wynonna’s hand.
“Officer,” the doctor said stiffly, but not unkindly. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Oh, right,” Nicole said clearing her throat. “Sorry.” She squeezed Wynonna’s hand one last time before taking a step away from her. She looked at her one last time before ducking out of the working area. Wistfully...pathetically...she watched until one of the nurses closed the curtain. Nicole sighed and stuffed her hands in her jacket pockets.
“At least this will be a fun story to tell at our wedding,” Nicole mumbled to herself, not looking as she bumped into another nurse. “Oh, sorry, ma’am.”
The nurse looked up at her with big almost moony eyes and just squeaked. She had a comically large stuffed elf pinned to her shirt so it looked like the elf was riding on her shoulder. Nicole stared at it for far too long before looking back at the nurse. Nicole nodded politely at her and continued on her way.
Nicole went through her usual routine the next morning.
Brush her teeth. Put on the coffee. Feed Calamity Jane. Make a sad breakfast.
Well, Nicole didn’t consider it sad, she just considered it breakfast. But Shae always told her it was sad. Two pieces of toast and some scrambled eggs. It was filling and fortifying and Shae said it was the saddest thing she could imagine. She said it was a sad single person’s breakfast.
Again, Nicole just called it breakfast.
Usually after breakfast, Nicole would just go for a run and get her day started. But today she couldn’t concentrate and traded her morning run for a warm bath and getting dressed. And well...so what if she was going to go see Wynonna? She just wanted to see if she was awake. And if she was maybe she’d want to meet the officer who saved her from the tracks. At least it would be a better introduction than the one Nicole had the night before where she nearly choked to death on her bagel.
So Nicole went down to the hospital and up to the fourth floor where she knew Wynonna was. Nicole looked at the assignments board and muttered to herself. “Room 204.”
She continued down the hall, turning the corner where Wynonna’s room was. But when she got closer, she stopped in her tracks. There was a woman with short, grey hair sitting next to Wynonna’s bed. There was also a stockier man closer to the end of the bed who was looking at the two of them.
“Oops,” Nicole said, feeling like she’d been caught even if no one noticed her yet. She took a small step back when she bumped into someone. “Oh, sorry-”
When she turned around, she noticed it was the same nurse she had bumped into the night before. Still with that same stuffed elf safety-pinned to her shoulder.
“Oh! It’s you!” the nurse said, far more chipper than she had been the night before. “You’re Wynonna’s person!”
Nicole blinked for a moment, confused. “Um-”
“I’m Chrissy! I’ve known the Earps forever. I didn’t know Wynonna had a girlfriend!” Chrissy said, looping her arm with Nicole’s and walking her towards Wynonna’s room. She frowned, so confused that she couldn’t even talk in that moment as Chrissy continued. “Girlfriend, what am I saying. Fiancee! Right?”
“Um-” Nicole tried again. But Chrissy had practically shoved her into Wynonna’s room, the two visitors looking at her suspiciously.
“Gus, Shorty...do you know Officer…” Chrissy trailed off, waiting for Nicole to fill in the blank.
“Oh, um, Haught. Officer Haught,” Nicole said, reaching her hand out to shake both of their hands.
“Oh, are you the one who picked up Wynonna?” the woman Nicole presumed was Gus asked.
Nicole shrugged and couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, I’m the one who called the ambulance.”
“I could never thank you enough,” Gus continued.
“Just doing my duty, ma’am,” Nicole said modestly.
Chrissy gestured between Nicole and Wynonna. “Um, that’s not all, they’re engaged!”
Nicole felt all the blood drain from her face as she gaped at Chrissy, jaw practically on the floor. How could she-? Where-? Nicole sputtered but Gus gasped and Shorty looked just as shocked.
“Oh,” Nicole started, “I’m not-”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Shorty said, standing up and immediately pulling Nicole into a hug. “I’ll be damned! We finally found the one to tame Wynonna! A police officer.”
Gus stood and shook her head, a fond smile on her face. “I was wondering if that girl would ever settle down.”
Nicole stood, shocked, as Shorty pulled away and clapped her on the shoulder. She blinked in shock momentarily and turned to Chrissy. “Can I speak with you? Outside?” she breathed.
“Oh, yeah!” Chrissy said with a concerned furrow of her brow. Nicole rushed outside the room with Chrissy and made sure the door was closed before she started.
“Chrissy! What the hell was that?” Nicole asked, wondering how a relative stranger just made her life a little more complicated. “Why do you think I’m getting married to Wynonna?”
Chrissy blinked at her with a confused shake of her head. “I heard you talking about how this would be a great story at your wedding.”
Nicole groaned and covered her face with her hands. “I was just being stupid. I don’t even know her.”
“Excuse me,” Chrissy said with a small laugh. “What?”
“I don’t know her. I just...awkwardly stare at her every night when she walks into Shorty’s on my graveyard shift,” Nicole explained. “I’ve barely had a conversation with her.”
“You talked about marrying her!” Chrissy squeaked.
“I’m stupid and love struck!” Nicole said running a hand through her hair. “A lonely gay!”
Chrissy blew her bangs out of her face and shook her head. “Man. Too bad they think you’re marrying her.”
“What do you mean?” Nicole asked. “I have to tell them the truth-”
“Oof, no you can’t,” Chrissy said solemnly. “I’ve never seen either of them that happy. Especially when it comes to Wynonna.”
“So what? You just want me to let them think we’re engaged?” Nicole asked incredulously.
Chrissy shrugged. “Well you can’t take away their joy now! Plus, have you ever been on the other side of the barrel of a pissed off Earp. That is not where you want to be.”
“I can’t lie! Someone’s bound to find out. And when Wynonna wakes up-”
“Listen,” Chrissy said, “I’m just saying that...maybe since it’s Christmas in a couple of days... Maybe you can let them be happy about something? Since their niece is in the hospital in a coma?”
Nicole looked over at them, dopey smiles still gracing their faces as they gazed at Nicole from inside the room. “I guess...you’re right,” Nicole groaned, fingers rubbing at her temples. “God, this is the worst idea.” She took a deep breath and looked back at Chrissy. Nicole suddenly recognized her as the Sheriff’s daughter and groaned. “Please don’t tell your dad this.”
Chrissy giggled. “Of course not. But now you owe me a favor.”
“Fine. Deal,” Nicole said looking back towards the hospital room. “I guess I should go...not be rude.”
“They are your future family after all,” Chrissy said with a wink.
Nicole groaned. “Thanks for all your help, Chrissy.”
“Anytime. Gotta jet,” she said moving past Nicole, leaving her in the hall trying to figure out how she was going to approach this situation. How did she get herself in this situation?
Nicole straightened out her shirt and took a deep breath before turning back towards Wynonna’s room. She smiled to Gus and Shorty as she walked into the room. With her best ‘officer of the law’ smile, she cleared her throat and croaked out, “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you.”