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Piece Of Your Heart

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“Watch where you’re goin’.” Champ Hardy snarled as he purposefully bumped into Waverly as he made his way to class. “Freak.”

 

 

Waverly stayed quiet, clutching her books to her chest, as she continued on to her own class, AP History. She’s so used to this, every single day one of the popular kids would pick on her, just because of her last name. They would take her things, throw her books onto the ground, spit insults and jokes her way. She’s never done anything to anyone, hasn’t ever even hurt a fly but because of her last name, she was a target.

 

 

Earp. The name itself was a curse and she would do anything to be rid of it. Everyone in town knew that anyone with her last name was trouble, wasn’t worth a damn. Ward, her father, was a lowlife and a drunk with a horrible temper; he caused trouble in town whenever he could. Her Mama and oldest sister Willa had been killed when she was six years by a drunk driver and the pity she got from those around her was suffocating. Wynonna, the only person she’s ever really cared about, who had spent most of her teenage years in and out of juvie, left the first chance she got.

 

 

Waverly was utterly alone, and she couldn’t do anything about it.

 

 

“Dude.” Nicole scolds her ‘friend’ as they made their way into class. “Why are you so mean to her? What’d she ever do to you?”

 

 

“She’s an Earp.” Champ spat in distaste. “They ain’t nothin’ but trouble.”

 

 

Nicole goes to argue, saying that no one really knows anything about them, but it would fall on deaf ears. Everyone in that god forsaken town was set in their ways and nothing she could ever say or do would change their minds. She knew that most of the Earp family was a mess, unhinged and somewhat dangerous but when it came to Waverly Earp, she knew she wasn’t like the rest.

 

 

///

 

 

Nicole sat in her study hall, Neck Deepblasting through her headphones, fingers tapping to the beat against the table. Unlike most of the students, Nicole stayed at the school during her free class, not having a need to go anywhere else for the hour and a half they had to do whatever they wanted.

 

 

One of the only other students who stayed behind though, was none other than Waverly Earp, who sat across the cafeteria, by herself, head buried in homework. Nicole, although she would never admit it out loud to anyone, found the younger girl fairly adorable. Whether Waverly knew it or not, she would always scrunch her eyebrows together as she studied, clearly focused on the task at hand and Nicole honestly thought it was the cutest thing.

 

 

Nicole ran a hand through her short, choppy hair, shaking the thoughts from her mind. Get it together, Haught, you two are from completely different worlds.Besides, Nicole wasn’t one for serious relationships and considering that more than half of her friends didn’t like the youngest Earp, she knew she should steer clear of her.

 

 

This was on person she shouldn’t try and pursue.

 

 

Waverly felt eyes on her and when she looked up, she saw Nicole Haught staring at her. She immediately dropped her head back down, trying her best to focus on the paper she was working on, but it was hard too when she had just caught her crush staring at her.

 

 

Nicole Haught was Purgatory High’s greatest asset in years. The fiery redhead was full of energy and spunk that the small town hadn’t had in a long time. She was hands down the hottest person in school, was a star player on the school’s co-ed basketball team and she had muscles for days.

 

 

Focus, Waverly, focus.

 

 

Nicole was loved by all teachers and peers, she was the most popular girl in school and she had girls trampling over one another just to get a smile from her. Waverly thought it was pathetic really, but a small part of her (okay, maybea big part of her) wouldn’t mind a smile directed at her one day.

 

 

Waverly knew she would never have a chance with someone like Nicole. No one would ever want the girl whose family was so fucked up that the entire town hated her for their mistakes. She was poor, she didn’t even have her own car; she had nothing to offer.

 

///

 

 

“You’re not gonna graduate, Miss Haught.” Lucado said with a sigh as she dropped Nicole’s last test down in front of her. “You only have a couple months left until graduation and your grades are only getting worse.”

 

 

Nicole sighed as she saw the grade in front of her, she barely got half credit. “I really tried this time.” She said. “I really, really did.”

 

 

“Try harder.” Lucado said. “If your grade gets any lower, I’ll have to tell your coach and you’ll be benched until it gets higher.”

 

 

Nicole froze, eyes growing wide, “No, please, I- I can’t! The Championship is only a few weeks away and the team is counting on me.”

 

 

“Then I suggest you look for a tutor.” Lucado said, “Look Nicole, you’re a good kid, I know you are. You have the potential to pass every single test that I give but for some reason you’re just not trying at all.”

 

 

“I’ll do better.” Nicole said, snatching her test up and shoving it into her backpack. She stood up, slipping her letterman back on. “I’ll get a tutor.”

 

 

“I just want what’s best for you.” Lucado said. “You have a bright future ahead of you, don’t let it go to waste.”

 

 

Nicole nodded and made her way out of the classroom and towards the cafeteria. She had been called in to see her history teacher just before her study hall started and ended up spending most of her free class discussing her failing grade. Sighing, she dropped into her usual seat, feeling defeated. She had studied so hard for that test, yet she didn’t have a damn thing to show for it.

 

 

 After sitting there for a while, mind elsewhere, Nicole got an idea. Right across the room from her was history extraordinaire; it was known to pretty much everyone in town that Waverly knew all things to do with history. There was even a rumor that said girl knew over four dead languages just because she wanted to learn something new.

 

 

Throwing her pride aside, Nicole grabbed her things and made her way over to the brunette, dropping into the empty seat beside her. “Howdy.” She greeted awkwardly, unsure. She was not one to ask for help, but she was desperate.

 

 

Waverly felt her heart skip a beat at the familiar voice and when she looked up, she saw Nicole sitting next to her. “H- hi.” She squeaked out.  

 

 

“I’m Nicole.” Nicole said, holding out her hand. What the fuck, Haught? A handshake, really? “But I’m sure you already knew that.”

 

 

Waverly was so taken aback, she didn’t react, “I- um. I’m Waverly.”

 

 

Realizing the other girl wasn’t going to shake her hand, she dropped it down onto the table, “I need your help.”

 

 

Waverly looked at her, eyebrow raised in question, “With?”

 

 

“I’m failing history, really badly.” Nicole admitted, “No matter how much I study, I don’t seem to understand it. The dates confuse the hell out of me. If I don’t get my grade up within the next few weeks, I’m going to be benched and I might not graduate on time.”

 

 

“So, you need a tutor?” Waverly asked.

 

 

Nicole nodded.

 

 

“Why me?”

 

 

“You’re the smartest person in school.” Nicole said. “And I hear you’re really good at history. I’ll pay you if you want!”

 

 

“I don’t need your money.” Waverly said. “But if you really need my help-”

 

 

“I’ll do anything.” Nicole said, “Please, I’ll get on my knees and beg if I have to.”

 

 

Waverly smiled and shook her head, amused, “Please don’t do that.”

 

 

“Are you sure?” Nicole asked, “Because I will.”

 

 

“I’ll tutor you.” Waverly said, although every part of her brain was telling her this was a bad idea. She knows she should say no, to not get involved with someone like Nicole, whose friends constantly pick on her, but it was clear the older girl was desperate. “Every day, during study hall.”

 

 

“Oh, thank fuck.” Nicole said, visibly relaxing. “You’re my favorite person.”

 

 

Waverly turned her head, to hide her blush.

 

 

///

 

 

“Okay, and when was Abraham Lincoln born?” Waverly asked, several days into their tutoring sessions. Nicole was actually a model student, if only she would stop flirting with Waverly every god damn time; her heart couldn’t take it.

 

 

“April 15th, 1865.” Nicole paused. “Wait, no. That’s the date he was assassinated, right? Fuck, I know this. Is it uh, dammit!”

 

 

“That’s okay. Try again.” Waverly said, ever so patient. “You know this.”

 

 

Nicole sat there for a moment, racking her brain for the answer. Waverly was such a great teacher, always patient with her, helping her when she got stuck or frustrated. If she was being honest, she was growing fond of the brunette, of how kind she was; it was clear that Waverly didn’t deserve the hate she got.

 

 

It also might’ve been a bonus that Waverly was maybe, sorta, kinda really hot.

 

 

“February 12th, 1809?”

 

 

“That’s it!” Waverly said, “Exactly.”

 

Nicole smiled, happy to finally get an answer right. She was about to move on to the next question she had on her homework when Champ made his way over to them, “Yo, Red, let’s get out of here.”

 

 

“Where are we going?” She asked, giving an apologetic look to Waverly.

 

 

Waverly turned her attention to her own homework, knowing that Nicole would leave to go hang out with her friends. Nicole was only spending time with her because she needed to pass a class, not because she actually liked her.

 

 

“Lunch at Jack’s.” Champ said, unceremoniously throwing Nicole’s things into her backpack, not caring that he was wrinkling some of her stuff. “The team is meeting us there.”

 

 

“Yeah, alright.” Nicole said, a little reluctantly; she handed Champ her keys. “I’ll meet you outside.”

 

 

“Don’t take too long.” Champ said, glaring at Waverly as he walked past her. “I know you wanna be anywhere but here.”

 

 

Nicole looked at Waverly, “Same time tomorrow?”

 

 

Waverly flipped the page in her textbook, not looking up. “Sure.”

 

 

“I’m sorry about Champ.” Nicole said, as she stood up. “I know he’s a dick.”

 

 

“You don’t need to apologize for him. Have a good day, Nicole.”

 

Nicole pulled her beanie from her pocket and pulled it onto her head, a mischievous smile playing at her lips “You know, you look hella cute when you scrunch your face like that.”

 

Waverly sat there, eyes wide, unable to form a proper response. She opened and closed her mouth several times but came up empty every single time. Nicole gave her a wink and turned on her heel, making her way out of the building to meet up with her friends.

 

 

“You’re fucked.”

 

 

Waverly looked up to see Chrissy standing over her, a knowing smile on her face. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

 

“Mhm, sure.” Chrissy said, pulling out a chair and sitting down across from her best friend. “I see the way you look at her, you’re in deep.”

 

 

“I am not!” Waverly tried to lie. “I’m only helping her with her studies.”

 

 

“Mhm, sure.” Chrissy said, once again.

 

 

“Will you stop that!” Waverly huffed. “I do not like Nicole.”

 

 

“You’ve had a crush on her since she started school here.” Chrissy said, “Rightfully so, she’s hot as hell.”

 

 

Waverly gave her a look.

 

 

“I’m straight, not blind.” Chrissy said, straightening up in her chair. “Look, I just don’t want you getting hurt, okay? Sure, flirting is harmless… until it’s not.”

 

 

“I know Nicole doesn’t like me.” Waverly said. “We aren’t even friends. I’m just someone that can help her, that’s all. As soon as she passes her class, she’ll go back to acting as if I don’t exist.”

 

 

“That’s her loss, then.” Chrissy said. “You deserve to be treated like a princess, Wave. I wish you could see that.”

 

 

Waverly shrugged, “I’m an Earp, I don’t get happy endings.”

 

 

“Just protect that little heart of yours, yeah?” Chrissy said, just as the bell rang. “The right person will come along soon. Don’t give your heart to someone who is gonna ruin it.”

 

 

///

 

 

“Dude, that shot was fuckin’ sick!” Buck Montgomery, one of the point guards on the team said, slamming a meaty hand onto Nicole’s shoulder as they walked through the school hallway. “Ghost River couldn’t do shit!”  

 

 

“The team is shit.” Nicole said, waving him off. “They’ve been 2 and 15 for years. Bobo Del Ray is a terrible coach. He’s too invested in the team’s look to actually teach them anything. It was an easy win.”

 

 

“Always so humble.” Beth Gardener said, tucking her arm under Nicole’s elbow. “That’s what makes you so darn cute.”

 

Nicole went to speak but was cut off when a loud crash sounded a little way down the hall; she turned to see Waverly on the floor, books all around her. Without a second thought, she gently shoved Beth off and went to go help the brunette, ignoring the calls from her friends. “Here, let me help you.” She said, offering a hand to the upset girl.

 

 

“Thanks.” Waverly mumbled as Nicole pulled her up. She wiped her hands on her leggings and started to pick up her things that were scattered all over the place, being stepped on.

 

 

“Who did this to you?” Nicole asked, shoving a kid out of the way who was deliberately about to step on what looked like a very important paper. She grabbed it quickly and handed it back to Waverly, along with several other papers.

 

 

“No one.” Waverly said automatically; it wasn’t like Nicole really cared.

 

 

“You didn’t just fall on your ass.” Nicole said, “Tell me, who knocked you down?”

 

 

“I… Stephanie.” Waverly sighed, defeated. “But it’s okay, happens all the time.”

 

 

“I’ll talk to her.” Nicole said, matter of fact. “There’s no reason for her to be so cruel to you, you’ve done nothing to her.”

 

 

“Don’t worry about it.” Waverly said, voice barely above a whisper. “I’m used to it.”

 

 

“That doesn’t make it okay.” Nicole said, irritated. “I’m gonna talk to her.”

 

 

Waverly nodded, realizing that the basketball player was going to do what she wanted, no matter what. She said a quick thank you for helping her and took off down the hall, ignoring the laughs from the jocks.

 

 

Nicole sighed and stood up, she needed to find Stephanie Jones and tell her to fuck right off. Waverly was a literal angel and should be treated as such. Whoa, Haught,slow down there.She didn’t deserve to be bullied, especially when she hadn’t done a damn thing to anyone.

 

 

“You’ve got that look on your face.” Champ said, making his way up to her. “Like someone kicked your puppy. Who pissed in your corn flakes?”

 

 

“You know.” Nicole said, eyes hard as she looked at the town’s rodeo star. “You really need to leave Waverly alone, she hasn’t done shit to you.”

 

 

“Hey dude, calm down.” Champ said, holding his hands up. “She’s an Earp, they’re all fuckin’ crazy. I know she’s helping you with your history shit but-”

 

 

“Just leave her alone, okay?” Nicole said, running a hand over her face. “We’re about to graduate high school, we’re adults for crying out loud. This bullying shit is childish as fuck.”

 

 

“You need to get laid.” Champ said, ignoring her previous statement. “Party at my place tomorrow night. Plenty of hot ladies there. You’re coming.”

 

 

“I’m gonna pass.”

 

 

Champ shook his head, “You can’t! The Captain doesn’t miss out on parties, it’s in the rule book. You have to come.”

 

 

Nicole sighed, “Alright, fine, but only because your parents have the best alcohol.”

 

 

///

 

 

“Your hair looks different.” Nicole said, a few weeks later as she slides into the empty seat next to Waverly.

 

 

“Got it cut.” Waverly said, her attention on the book in her hands.

 

 

“It looks good.” Nicole said simply as she pulled stuff out of her backpack for their study session. “Then again, youlook good.”

 

 

Waverly paused to glance at Nicole then looked back down at her book. Against better judgement, she was growing comfortable around the redhead. “Shut up.”

 

 

“Not gonna.” Nicole said, “I gotta tell a pretty girl when I think she’s pretty.”

 

 

Waverly sighed and closed her book, too distracted to finish the page she was on. “O…kay, why don’t we go over your homework for last night, make sure it’s all correct?” She said, throwing herself into the task at hand so she wouldn’t have time to stop and dwell on what Nicole had said. “Can’t be getting anything less than a B, can we?”

 

 

////

 

 

Nicole walked into study hall for the third time that week, stopping in her tracks when she saw that Waverly wasn’t there again. She didn’t have the girl’s number or any way to contact her, so she had no idea if she was okay. Nicole even went the extra mile and asked Chrissy Nedley and Jeremy Chetri where the brunette was, but they had no idea either.

 

 

Nicole, to say the least, was a little bit worried; Waverly Earp was not one to miss school.

 

 

During a break in practice, Nicole slipped out and headed to the office, knowing she could talk her way into the secretary giving her the information she needed. Not only did the students love her but the faculty did too, and she wasn’t afraid to use that to her advantage if need be.

 

 

“What can I help you with, Miss Haught?” Kate, the school secretary asked, a smile plastered on her face, per usual. “Shouldn’t you be at practice, getting ready for the big game?”

 

 

“Break.” Nicole said, taking a sip of her water. “I need some information.”

 

 

“What kind of information?” Kate asked, an eyebrow raised in question.

 

 

“A home address for Waverly Earp.” Nicole paused, “For uh… I have her homework. She’s not been here and… well, I said I’d drop it off.”

 

 

“You know I’m not supposed to give out information like that.” Kate said, as she wheeled herself to the filing cabinet that held all of the student records. She used one of her many keys to unlock one of the cabinets and pulled it open; she found the right file and pulled it out. “It’s nice to know that Miss Earp has such a good friend. Her address is 743 Revenant Drive. It’s just outside of town.”

 

 

“Thanks Miss Holliday.” Nicole said, before she headed back to the gymnasium. Once practice was over, she was going to go check on her friend.  

 

 

///

 

 

Nicole came to a stop just a few feet away from an old, worn down barn and parked her car. She double checked to make sure the address was correct before she got out and made her way over to the house that looked as if it was seconds from collapsing. It hurt her heart a little to know that Waverly was living in a place like this, a place that clearly hadn’t been taken care of.

 

 

She climbed the steps, hearing the wood groan in protest from her weight, and knocked on the front door.

 

 

“Who the hell are you?” Ward Earp asked, opening the door a crack.

 

 

“I’m a friend of Waverly’s.” Nicole said, taken aback by the man in front of her. He was nothing like Waverly, no resemblance at all. He was taller than her by a few inches and so much bigger, it was eerie just to be in his presence. It was easy to see that this man was not a good man, that his life was consumed by anger and alcohol, if the smell of his breath and the look in his eyes said anything.

 

 

“She’s sick.” Ward grunted. “She don’t need no visitors.”

 

 

“Um, well.” Nicole was stumped. “Can you tell her I stopped by?”

 

 

“Yeah, sure, now get outta here.” Ward said, practically shutting the door in her face. He waited until the redhead was down the driveway before turning to look at Waverly, a wicked gleam in his eye. “Who was that?”

 

 

“I… uh.” Waverly stood in fear as she looked at her father. Over the past couple of days, he had been on a huge drinking spree, which meant his anger was ten times worse than it normally was. She was sporting a bruise on her face because of it. “Her names Nicole.”

 

 

“Pretty.” Ward snarled, “Too good for you.”

 

 

Waverly looked down, “I know.”

 

 

“What does she want?” Ward asked, finishing off the rest of his beer. “Clearly you’re givin’ her something. You let her fuck you? You one of those dykes now? You feel so lowly of yourself you’re just giving it up to anyone?”

 

 

“I’m her tutor.”

 

 

Ward nodded and dropped onto the couch, “She’ll never want you. You’re damaged goods. No one will ever want you.”

 

 

Waverly felt the tears prick at her eyes, “I know that too.”

 

 

“Good.” Ward said, “Get me another beer and get out of my sight. I wanna watch the game and you make too much noise.”

 

 

Waverly made her way into the kitchen and grabbed another beer from the fridge then handed it to her father. “Anything else?”

 

 

“That’s it.” Ward said, eyes on the television screen. “Just remember that no one cares about you like I do. They’ll use you as soon as they get the chance. That girl will only hurt you. She’ll leave you, just like everyone else has.”  

 

 

“I’ll be in my room.” Waverly said, swallowing back the tears as she ran up the stairs, locking herself in her room. Even after all this time, she refused to let him see her cry, she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

 

 

///

 

 

“You’re back.” Nicole said, a huge smile on her face as she sat down next to Waverly the following Monday. She pulled something from her backpack and sat it in front of the brunette, “Look! I got my first A because of you.”

 

 

Waverly glanced at the test, “That’s nice.”

 

 

“How are you feeling?” Nicole asked. “I missed you last week.”

 

 

“No, you didn’t.” Waverly mumbled to herself.

 

 

“What was that?” Nicole asked, having not heard her.

 

 

“I’m fine, it was just a virus.” Waverly said, “All better.”

 

 

“Good It’s weird when you’re not here.”

 

 

“Yeah.” Waverly said, grabbing her math homework from her bag. “I’ve got a lot of work to do so-”

 

 

“No, no, that’s cool.” Nicole said, “I get it. Go ahead. I’ll just sit here with you.”

 

 

Waverly realized that the redhead wasn’t going to go away so she nodded and went to work on her homework; she did have a lot to catch up on.

 

 

“You gonna tell me about the bruise on your face?” Nicole asked, after a while. She held up her hands in defense, “Sorry, I just. I like looking at your face and it’s very obvious that you have a bruise on your cheek.”

 

 

Waverly’s eyes grew wide, “I do not.”

 

 

“You’re wearing more concealer than you normally do.” Nicole pointed out. “Look, you don’t gotta tell me. I’ve been worried about you, is all.”

 

 

“I’m fine.” Waverly said, relieved when the bell rang. She quickly tossed her things in her backpack and stood up. “Gotta go.”

 

 

Nicole blocked her from leaving, a gentle hand on her arm. “We’re friends, you and me. If you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

 

 

“Thanks, but I’m really alright. Bye.”

 

 

Nicole sighed, watching as Waverly practically ran out of the cafeteria. She knew that the younger girl was lying but she wasn’t going to push it further. If Waverly wanted to talk to her that was fine, but she would never force her into talking about something she didn’t want to.

 

 

It didn’t stop her from worrying about Waverly though.

 

 

///

 

 

“Come over tonight.” Nicole said.

 

 

Waverly closed her locker and looked at the redhead, “What?”

 

“Come over tonight.” Nicole repeated. “There’s a documentary out on Netflix about Ancient Rome and I know you’re all about that. I thought we could watch it together, maybe order pizza?”

 

 

“I um.” Waverly was dumbfounded. Why was Nicole inviting her over?

 

 

“I don’t bite… unless you’re into that.” Nicole winked. “Come on. You can come to my game and then we can go over to my place.”

 

 

“I hate basketball.”

 

“That’s because you’ve never seen me play.”

 

 

“I don’t know, I have a lot of-”

 


“Waverly. Stop.” Nicole said, taking a step into her personal space. “Not that I don’t enjoy our tutoring sessions, but I would really like to spend some time with you outside of school.”

 

 

“Why?” Waverly asked, voice barely above a whisper. “Don’t you usually go to parties after?”

 

 

Nicole waved her off, “I’ve been to plenty. I can miss out on one.”

 

 

“I-”

 

 

“Please.” Nicole asked. “I know you find it hard to believe but I like your company. You aren’t fake like the rest of the town. You’re just you.”

 

 

Waverly knew Ward would be too drunk to notice her absence and she really wouldn’t mind spending some time with the basketball captain outside of school. Ignoring every part of her brain that said this was a bad idea, that she was only going to get hurt, she nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Wait, really?” Nicole asked, rocking on her heels in excitement. Over the last couple of months, it had become very apparent to Nicole that she had grown to like Waverly, a hell of a lot. Waverly wasn’t like the other girl’s, she was sweet and funny and so fucking smart, Nicole genuinely loved her company. For the first time, she wanted to do this right; she didn’t want just another notch on her bedpost, she wanted the real thing. She hoped Waverly did too.

 

 

“Sure.” Waverly said. “You promised pizza.”

 

 

 “Cool.” Nicole said, with a nod of her head. “Cool.”

 

 

Waverly smiled, “You say that a lot.”

 

 

Nicole shrugged, adjusting her backpack on her shoulder. “I’ll see you later?”

 

 

“Yep.”

 

 

Nicole pressed a kiss to her cheek and took off down the hall to her next class. It only took her half an hour to realized what she had done, and she wasn’t even sorry about it.

 

 

///

 

 

“I’m sorry.” Nicole said, jogging into the now empty gymnasium nearly thirty minutes after the game ended. She paused to finish pulling on her basketball t-shirt, “Coach sometimes doesn’t know when to shut up.”

 

 

“I heard that!” Coach Perley said, as she walked past the two girls. She fondly rolled her eyes at her star player, “50 suicides, Monday at 5am.”

 

 

“Yes ma’am.” Nicole said. “Wouldn’t miss it.”

 

 

Waverly waited until Nicole’s coach was gone before she looked at the redhead. “She looks like a nurse from the hospital.”

 

 

“That’s her twin sister, Gretta.” Nicole said, she grabbed her bag from off the bench. “Ready to go?”

 

 

“Yeah.” Waverly said, standing up.

 

 

“Yo, Haught. Party at my crib!” Perry yelled, nearly tripping over Champ as the stumbled into the gymnasium. “Come one, let’s go.”

 

 

“Not tonight, guys.” Nicole said, standing just a bit closer to Waverly. “I’ve already made plans already.”

 

 

“Oh, boo!” Champ said, waving his hand in dismissal. “Perry’s older sister will be there, and you know she has a crush on you!”

 

 

“You can go.” Waverly said softly, trying her best to hide her disappointment. Nicole wouldn’t choose her over her friends, there was no way.

 

 

Nicole rested her hand on the small of Waverly’s back, “I’m okay, really. Have fun and be safe. Text if you need a ride.”

 

Champ rolled his eyes and pulled on Perry, “She ain’t comin’ dude.”

 

 

Perry sighed and nodded, “But I promised Jackie she’d be there.”

 

 

“Don’t worry.” Champ said as they started to leave, “She’ll fuck that Earp bitch and be done with her tomorrow. It’s just a pity date, we’ll have her back next week.”

 

 

Perry whooped in excitement, he was already a little high, “True man, true.”

 

 

“That’s not true.” Nicole said, jaw clenched. She looked to Waverly, “I swear to you that’s not true. You’re… you’re not like the others. Stay right here.”

 

 

“Nicole, I-”

 

 

“Please.” Nicole begged softly. “I’m not just gonna stand here and let them talk about you like that. I’ll be right back.”

 

 

Nicole gently sat Waverly back down onto the bench and followed after her teammates; she honestly didn’t know if she could call them her friends anymore. She didn’t know if she wanted to. “Hardy, what the fuck dude?”

 

 

Champ turned around and laughed, “Decided to join us?”

 

 

“No.” Nicole said, “You’re being an asshole for no reason at all.”

 

 

“She’s a freak.” Champ shrugged. “You and I both know it.”

 

 

“No, she isn’t.” Nicole argued. “You know nothing about her.”

 

“Why are you getting so defensive? You’ll drop her just like you do every other girl when you’ve had your fun with her.” Champ said. “She helped you pass your class, you don’t need her anymore.”

 

 

“You know what.” Nicole said, hands up. “I’m not doing this with you. I’m not doing this with any of you. You’re my teammate, my friend, you’re supposed to support me not tear down the person I care about.”

 

 

“You’re Nicole Haught, you don’t care about anyone.” Champ said. “Cut the shit and come hang out with us. Have a drink, you clearly need to relax.”

 

 

“Like I said.” Nicole said, trying her best not to punch the boy in the face. “Text me if you need a ride home. I don’t need you dead on the highway four days before our big game.”

 

 

Nicole didn’t want for a reply, she made her way back into the gym, grasped Waverly’s hand and led her towards the parking lot. She opened the passenger side door the brunette and waited until she was inside before she got into the car herself. Normally Champ didn’t bother her, he was insecure and would target those he never understood but it seemed that lately all he could think to do was attack Waverly for every little thing and she had had enough.

 

 

“Are you okay?” Waverly asked as they drove; the music was playing softly in the background but the silence between them was deafening.

 

 

“I don’t like how you’re treated.” Nicole said simply. “It pisses me off.”

 

 

“I’m used to it.”

 

 

“That doesn’t make it alright.” Nicole said. “We’re adults for fucks sake. Who goes around knocking people over and laughing about their home life. It’s a shitty thing to do.”

 

 

 “Thank you.” Waverly said, “For sticking up for me.”

 

 

Nicole came to a stop at the red light and looked at Waverly, a dopey smile on her face. There was just something about this 5’4, all-knowing girl that made her want to change everything about herself. “Anytime, Wave.”

 

“Wave?”

 

Nicole frowned, feeling as though she crossed a line, “Shit, I’m sorry, that was-”

 

 

“I’ve never been given a nickname before.” Waverly admitted as they continued down the quiet streets of Purgatory. “Well, not a good one.”

 

 

“If you don’t like it, I won’t call you it.”

 

 

“No.” Waverly shook her head. “I love it.”

 

 

///

 

 

Nicole’s arm was falling asleep and she was exhausted but for the life of her she couldn’t move. Waverly was sound asleep against her body, tucked into her side, covered in a ridiculous number of blankets, snoring softly. The documentary had been over for some time and it was back to the title screen, but Nicole couldn’t find it in her heart to wake up the sleeping girl.

 

 

“Another girl I see.”

 

 

Nicole looked towards the doorway and saw that her parents were finally home from their business trip. “Hello to you too, dad.”

 

 

“At least you’ve had the decency to be clothed this time.” Miranda Haught said, with a shake of her head. “Poor girl, does she have any idea that you’re about to break her heart.”

 

 

Nicole huffed, annoyed. “Waverly is different.”

 

“I’m sure she is, Cole.” Anthony Haught said, hanging his coat on the coat hanger. “Just clean up whatever mess you have made. Cassie won’t be here until Wednesday and we have guests coming over tomorrow for dinner.”

 

 

“Of course, you do.” Nicole mumbled.

 

 

“I bought you a nice dress while we were in Manila, I think it’ll be lovely for the party. It’ll match your brother’s suit quite well.” Miranda said. “I’ll put it in your room downstairs.”

 

 

“How many times do I have to tell you, I won’t wear a dress and I don’t want any part of your work parties.” Nicole hissed. “I have plans.”

 

 

“Why can’t you be like Joshua?” Anthony asked, “He’s married to a beautiful woman, knows how to handle the business for when we are away and-”

 

 

Nicole would’ve stood up and stormed out of the room in anger, but Waverly was still sound asleep against her and she wouldn’t disturb her. Although she was very surprised the brunette hadn’t woken up during the heated argument she was having with her parents.  “I don’t want to be a lawyer! I want to play basketball until I can’t anymore and teach, that’s it!”

 

 

“We just wish-”

 

 

“You just wish I was anyone else and not a disappointment.” Nicole bit out. She would never let her parents know how much they hurt how, how she spent so many nights crying in her room because she would never be what they wanted.

 

 

“That’s not true, Cole.”

 

 

“Isn’t it though?” Nicole spat. She felt Waverly start to move and she took a deep breath, to try and calm down. “Can you leave now?”

 

 

Miranda sighed and nudged her husband, silently letting him know they were fighting a losing battle. “The invitation is open for tomorrow, if you decide to come.” She said before they made their way upstairs.

 

 

“Do your parents always treat you like that?” Waverly asked, voice hoarse from sleep. She blinked a few times and sat up, cheeks flushed in embarrassment from having fallen asleep on the redhead. “Sorry.”

 

 

Nicole shrugged, “You’re cute, so it’s okay.”

 

 

“Flirt.” Waverly said over a yawn.”

 

 

“I like this.” Nicole said, reaching for her hand. “You’re becoming more comfortable around me.”

 

 

“You’re deflecting.” Waverly pointed out.

 

 

“You don’t wanna hear about my life story.” Nicole said in return. “Besides, you never told me where that bruise came from and why you really missed a week of school.”

 

 

“What time is it?” Waverly asked, searching for her phone. She found it tucked in the couch cushion and when she saw the time she gasped, eyes growing wide in panic. “I have to get home, my dad’s gonna kill me.”

 

 

“Hey, calm down. It’s alright.” Nicole said, not knowing that it was anything but alright. She had no idea of the repercussions. “Come on, I’ll take you right now.”

 

 

“Thank you.” Waverly said, voice shaky; she was terrified to go home. It was nearly two hours past her curfew. “For everything.”

 

 

“Yeah, of course.” Nicole said, pulling on a jacket and grabbing for her keys. “Let’s go. I know a short cut to your place.”

 

 

///

 

 

“You’re gonna get yourself pregnant.” Ward slurred as soon as Waverly was in the door. He threw his empty beer bottle at her, hissing when he missed. “Out here runnin’ around with god knows who. You think anyone is gonna stay for you? Take care of you and a baby? You ain’t nothin’ but a whore, just like your good for nothin’ sister.”

 

 

Waverly clenched her fists at her sides; she always got angry when her father talked badly of Wynonna. Even when she wanted to hate her older sister, she couldn’t, because she understood why she had to leave. For years and years Wynonna dealt with the brunt of his abuse, doing her best to shield Waverly from their father. Waverly couldn’t blame her sister for leaving because if she ever got the chance, she was going to do it to.

 

 

“Get outta my sight.” Ward said, waving her off. “You disgust me.”

 

 

Waverly sighed in relief, thankful that he wasn’t in a violent mood that night. The last time she came home late, he had given her three broken ribs and a black eye. She made her way up to her room and practically jumped out of her skin when someone came from behind and pulled her into a bone crushing hug. “What the-”

 

 

“Baby girl, it’s me.” Wynonna said.

 

 

“Oh, thank god.” Waverly sighed, her heart rate slowly getting back to normal. She turned to look at her sister and punched her hard in the arm. “Asshole!”

 

 

“Ow, hey!” Wynonna hissed, rubbing at the bruise that was starting to form on her arm. “You don’t see me in six months and this is the greeting I get?”

 

 

“So that explains why I didn’t get the crap beat out of me.” Waverly said, sitting down on the edge of her bed. “He knows you’re here.”

 

 

“Yes, he does.” Wynonna said, patting the gun that was tucked away at her side. “Let that mother fucker lay a hand on you while I’m here.”

 

 

“You can’t hurt him, you have Alice.” Waverly said, smiling fondly at the thought of her two-year-old niece. She had only met her a couple of times but they talked on the phone often when they could.

 

 

“Where’s are they?” Waverly asked, of Wynonna’s boyfriend and daughter.

 

 

“At Shorty’s. We’re staying at the apartment upstairs.” Wynonna said, dropping into the empty space next to her sister. “I want you to come with us this time.”

 

 

“Wynonna, I can’t. I’m only sixteen and if he finds out I’m with you, you know he’ll try to come for you.” Waverly said, “He tried that once before.”

 

 

“You’re older now and speak up.” Wynonna said. “You shouldn’t have to live like this for two more years. He only gets worse as time goes on.”

 

 

“Just sometimes.” Waverly mumbled.

 

 

“Don’t lie.” Wynonna said. “We both know he’s a sorry sack of shit and deserves to die a painful death.”

 

 

“He’s still our father.”

 

“Who gives a fuck.” Wynonna hissed. “You don’t hit your kids.”

 

 

“I have school and work.” Waverly said. “I’m saving up.”

 

 

“I can’t force you to go with us, baby girl, but I really think you should.” Wynonna said. “We have the room and there’s tons of libraries where we are, so you can nerd out. Alice would love to see more of her aunt and Dolls would love to argue with you about how much sugar you have in a day. It’s a win-win.”

 

 

“I don’t know.” Waverly started to play with the ring on her finger, it was something she often did when she didn’t know what to say.

 

 

“Just think about it, okay?” Wynonna said. “We’re gonna be in town a few days, helping Gus with some stuff. Dinner tomorrow night? My treat.”

 

Waverly nodded, “I’d like that.”

 

 

Wynonna squeezed her little sister’s knee, “Good because it wasn’t an option.”

 

 

///

 

 

Ultimately, Waverly decided not to leave with her sister, who had left just several days prior. With the exception of a few nights here and there when the drinks got out of hand, Ward would only hurt her with his words, nothing she wasn’t used to. Besides, she was almost finished with school and she loved working at the library when she could with Mrs. Hamilton. And just maybe there was another reason she didn’t want to leave, but she refused to admit it.

 

 

“Hey, where are you?” Nicole asked softly, her fingers dancing up Waverly’s arm as they sat in study hall.

 

 

“My sister was just here.” Waverly said. “She wanted me to go with her back to California.”

 

 

“Who, Wynonna?” Nicole asked.

 

 

Waverly looked at Nicole, surprised. “How’d you know her name?”

 

 

“I pay attention when you talk, Wave.” Nicole said, like it was the most obvious answer in the world. “Did you want to go with her?”

 

 

“It’s not practical.” Waverly said. “I have school, work… you. I mean, you’re one of the only friends I have. I like your company.”

 

 

Nicole smiled and squeezed her hand, “I didn’t ask if it was practical, I asked if you wanted to go and live with your sister. What do youwant?”

 

 

You. Waverly thought but knew that would never happen, Nicole was just being overly friendly with her, that was all. “I… I need to stay and finish school.”

 

 

Nicole could tell Waverly was getting anxious and decided to drop the conversation, “If that’s what you want.”

 

 

“I just wish she wasn’t so far away.” Waverly admitted. “I know she needed to leave, to get away from… here but it still sucks. Wynonna was all that I had growing up.”

 

 

“I know I don’t compare, but you’ve got me.” Nicole shrugged, that same dopey smile on her face that she only seemed to have whenever Waverly was around.

 

 

“You have no idea how much that means to me.”

 

 

///

 

 

“You only get hotter and hotter.”

 

 

Nicole, who had been in the locker room, changing out of her practice jersey, froze at the familiar voice. “Shae.” She said, as she turned to look at her ex. The older girl hadn’t change that much in the last year, but she still had the same, cocky aura. “You’re back.”

 

 

“And you’re even sexier than I remember.” Shae said, running a hand through Nicole’s short hair. “I like the hair.”

 

 

“Thanks.” Nicole said, stepping back. “What are you doing here?”

 

 

“I missed you, of course.” Shae pouted. “There’s no one like you back home.”

 

 

“You’re so full of shit.” Nicole said with a shake of her head. “Why are you really here? And how did you know where I was?”

 

“I watched you practice.” Shae shrugged. “My dad is here on business and I’m on break, so I decided to come with him. Why all the questions?”

 

 

“You left without a goodbye, wouldn’t answer any calls or texts.” Nicole said. “You totally ghosted me, and you think I’m just gonna be okay with you showing back up. No, that’s not how this works.”

 

 

“But we could always have a quickie in the showers, just like old times.” Shae said, “You know you want to.”

 

 

“No, I really don’t.” Nicole said, grabbing her gym bag. “I gotta go, I have plans and I don’t want to be late.”

 

 

“Is it with that Earp girl?” Shae asked, venom in her voice.

 

 

“How do you know about Waverly?”

 

 

Shae shrugged, “Hardy really hates that girl, told me all about her. What are you gonna do? Save her? She’s no good for you, Nicky. She’s only going to bring you down, she isn’t like us.”

 

 

“Waverly is better than most of us.” Nicole said, “You know, I’ve had just about enough of everyone talking about shit they know nothing about. Instead of attacking Waverly all the god damn time you would take the time to get to know her, then you’d see that she doesn’t deserve the shit she gets.”

 

 

“Aw, is someone in love?”

 

 

Nicole snarled, “Shut up.”

 

 

“Always so feisty.” Shae said, “You talk about people treating Waverly like they deserve, shouldn’t that mean you too? You aren’t loyal, you can barely have a serious relationship for more than five minutes. You’re going to hurt her.”

 

 

“It’s different with her.” Nicole said, matter of fact. “We aren’t even together.”

 

“You hate commitment, so it makes sense.”

 

 

Nicole sighed, running a hand through her hair; she looked her watch and cursed. “Fuck, I’m gonna be late.” She said, pushing past Shae. “Have a great time while you’re in town!”

 

 

Making her way out of the locker room, Nicole took off for the school library where she knew Waverly would be waiting for her. They had made plans earlier that day to meet up and grab dinner together before they studied for one of the biggest tests Nicole was about to take.

 

 

“Where’s the fire?” Waverly asked, a smile playing at her lips as she saw Nicole practically run into the library.

 

 

“I’m so sorry times infinity.” Nicole said, “I got caught up.”

 

 

“It’s okay.” Waverly said, putting her things in her bag and standing up. “You still didn’t have to run all the way here though.”

 

 

“I felt bad.” Nicole shrugged, “Ready to go?”

 

 

“Only if you promise that we don’t have burgers again.”

 

 

“Whatever you want, Wave, just lead the way.”

 

 

///

 

 

Nicole could feel the adrenaline pumping through her veins. The clock was seconds away from zero and they were so close to the championship trophy. She could hear the crowd screaming, hear her teammates cheering her on but all she could focus on was the task at hand; getting the ball in the basket and no longer being tied with the rival team. It was now or never.

 

 

She faked left and then right, slipped through two forwards and drove home towards the basket, performing a near perfect layup. Nicole barely had time to register what had just happened before she was being lifted up by her teammates and surrounded by most of the student body.  They won the championship, they fought, and they fought, and they actually won.

 

 

“You fantastic son of a bitch!” Champ yelled, slapping her thigh as she sat perched on one of his shoulder. They had practiced hard for weeks on end and it finally paid off. “That was awesome!”

 

 

Nicole laughed, patting his shoulder, asking to be let down. She was on cloud nine, the adrenaline coursing through her body but all she wanted to do was find Waverly and celebrate with her. She knew the brunette was around here somewhere, she just had to find her.

 

 

“Where you goin’, Haught?” Nicole, who was so busy looking for Waverly, she didn’t realize Shae had snuck up behind her. “I’m kinda busy right now.”

 

 

“Hey, hey.” Shae said, pulling Nicole’s attention to herself. “You played one hell of a game tonight. I think you deserve a reward.”

 

 

“What the hell are you-” Nicole couldn’t even finish her sentence. Shae’s lips were on her own, pressing down hard, begging for entrance. She stood there frozen for a second, unable to comprehend what was happening but after what seemed like forever, she finally had enough sense to push the dark-haired girl off of her. “What the fuck, Shae? I told you I’m not into you.”

 

 

Shae smirked, wiping her lips with her hand, “Oops, sorry.”

 

 

Nicole shoved past her and through the crowd, trying her best to spot Waverly but she couldn’t see the younger girl anywhere. She sighed and slammed her foot into the ground, frustrated. “God damn it!”

 

 

“You okay, Haught?” Perry asked his teammate.

 

 

“Have you seen Waverly?”

 

 

“She literally just left dude, looked pretty upset.”

 

 

“Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!”

 

 

Nicole took off out of the gymnasium, ignoring the calls from her teammates to come back and join them for a celebration. She didn’t care, all she wanted to do was find Waverly and talk to her, to tell her how she felt. Maybe it was the adrenaline or the high from winning such a big game, she had no idea, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to find Waverly and tell her how she feels.

 

 

“Have you seen Waverly Earp?” Nicole asked one of the freshman that was in the main lobby, waiting for their ride. “Short, possibly upset?”

 

 

“Had a Purgatory High practice jersey on?”

 

 

Nicole nodded, “That’s her. Where’d she go?”

 

 

“That way.” They said, pointing outside.

 

 

“Thanks.” Nicole said and made her way out into the cold night air. She didn’t care that it was nearly freezing or that she didn’t have enough clothes on, all she wanted was Waverly. She had walked around half the perimeter when she spotted the brunette at a bench, just a little way away. Sighing in relief, she ran over to the younger girl. “There you are.”

 

 

Waverly didn’t look at her, “Go away.”

 

 

“Hey, don’t do that, please don’t push me away.” Nicole said, “I… Shae, did you see what happened because I-”

 

 

“Out of everyone, you’re the most cruel.” Waverly sniffled. “Did you ever even care about me or was it all just a game to you?”

 

 

“What are you talking about, Wave?” Nicole asked, taken about by the accusation. “Waverly, none of this is a game to me. I care so much about you.”

 

 

A truck pulled up in front of them and Chrissy Nedley got out of the car, a jacket in her hands. “There you are, Waverly. What are you doing out here, you’re gonna get sick.” She glared at Nicole as she pushed past and put the spare jacket on her best friend’s shoulders. “Let’s get you home.”

 

 

“Wait just a sec.” Nicole pleaded, “I didn’t-”

 

 

“I really thought you were different from the rest.” Waverly said, wiping at the tears pouring down her face.

 

 

“I was. I am.” Nicole said, “Waverly, please.”

 

 

“I think you should go.” Chrissy said, leading Waverly back to her vehicle. “Way to fuck it up, Haught. Did you get what you wanted?”

 

 

“I don’t. I just want Waverly.” Nicole said, for the first time. She tried to get Waverly to look at her, but she was adamant on looking anywhere but Nicole. “I wouldn’t hurt you, Wave. You have to believe me.”

 

 

“Congrats on the win. Haught.” Chrissy said with a shake of her head as she got back into her car. She said something to Waverly just before she drove off, leaving Nicole standing all alone with a broken heart.

 

 

“Yo, Haught!” Champ barreled into her, nearly knocking her to the ground. “Buddy, where ya been? Let’s go, it’s party time.”

 

 

Nicole growled, shoving him off of her, “Don’t fuckin’ touch me, James.”

 

 

“Oh, we’re bringing out the first names, someone’s in a mood.” Champ cackled, “What happened? Wait, I don’t really care. Let’s go get fucked up!”

 

 

“Go fuck yourself.”

 

 

///

 

 

The last time Nicole was here, several months ago, the door was practically shut in her face and she prayed to whatever God was out there that it didn’t happen again. She needed to defend herself, to let Waverly know what really happened. She made her way up the steps, pulling her letterman tighter around her body to try and shield herself from the cold and knocked on the door.

 

 

To her surprise, Waverly answered, eyes bloodshot from crying and it broke Nicole’s heart, “Oh Wave…”

 

 

“Go away, Nicole.” Waverly said, “I don’t want to see you.”

 

 

“You have to let me explain.” Nicole said, “Shae kissed me, I didn’t even kiss her back. I don’t… I wouldn’t do that to you.”

 

 

“Waverly, who’s at the door!” Ward called, from just inside.

 

 

“I’m not leaving until you talk to me.” Nicole said. “I’ll sit out here all night if I have to.”

 

 

“Congratulations on your win, Nicole.” Waverly said and shut the door in her face.

 

 

///

 

 

Four days.

 

 

It’s been four days and Waverly hasn’t been in study hall. Nicole has seen the brunette in the halls, so she knows she’s act school, but Waverly hasn’t shown up to their free class and it’s driving her insane. Nicole has barely slept, has barely ate, choosing to spend her time drinking copious amounts of alcohol instead to distract her from the ache in her chest.

 

 

Unable to stand it any longer, Nicole walks out of her study hall and makes her way towards the football field. She is halfway up the bleachers when she stops dead in her tracks, sitting at the very end, face in a book, is Waverly. Silently, she walks up several flights over stairs and sits down behind her, not making a sound. She doesn’t know where to start, what to say.

 

 

“I…” Nicole tried, but stopped. “Waverly, I-”

 

 

“I don’t want to hear it, Nicole.” Waverly said, “What part of leave me alone don’t you understand?”

 

 

 

“I’m trying here, but you won’t let me.” Nicole said, frustrated. “God damn it, Waverly.”

 

 

“Do you know what hurts the most?” Waverly was suddenly standing up and glaring at Nicole, eyes filled with unshed tears. “I actually believed everything you said to me. I really thought you cared about me… liked me.’

 

 

“I-” Waverly glares at her so she promptly closes her mouth.

 

 

“You know how everyone has treated me.” Waverly said, “My dad, everyone at school, I don’t mean anything to anyone.” She holds her hand up, just as Nicole is about to speak again. “You know how everyone has treated me and you still did it anyway. Was it a bet? Was I just some pathetic game for you and your teammates? Poor, pitiful Waverly Earp who falls for the first person who gives her any atten-”

 

 

Nicole was against Waverly in a heartbeat, pressing the smaller girl into the fence, eyes narrowed, “You have no idea how wrong you are.” She said as she leaned down and kissed the smaller girl, holding her tightly in place.

 

 

The kiss lasted for only a second, but it was all that Waverly could’ve ever dreamed of. Nicole’s lips were so soft, and she was so gentle, and her hands didn’t wander. Waverly whimpered and pulled away, “Stop, stop.”

 

 

Nicole stepped back, hands up in the air, “I… I’m sorry. I just don’t know how else I’m supposed to prove to you that you mean everythingto me.”

 

 

“I can’t do this.” Waverly said, shaking her head. “I can’t.”

 

 

Waverly quickly gathered her things and fled, trying her best to get as far away from Nicole and her caring eyes as quickly as she could. Nicole didn’t really care about her, she was just using her, and she would leave, just like everyone else.  

 

 

///

 

 

Another few weeks went by, Nicole, out of respect for Waverly, gave her space. She hardly did much of anything anymore. Her grades were slipping again, her parents were suffocating her with trying to decide on a university to attend in the fall. She was barely sleeping or eating, and alcohol had become her best friend. Basketball, which always eased her mind, didn’t even help.

 

 

Waverly was just as miserable. It was only a few days away from the anniversary of her mama and Willa’s death and Ward was in a rage. Anything and everything Waverly did seemed to make him angrier and angrier and when she was at home, she was walking on eggshells.

 

 

After a night out of drinking and losing all the money in his wallet, Ward came flying into the Homestead like a hurricane, ready for chaos and destruction. He tore into Waverly’s room, eyes bloodshot and breath heavy with liquor, “This is all your fault, you little bitch!” He stumbled into Waverly’s desk with a curse. “You just had to run away, scare everyone to death! If it wasn’t for you, they’d still be here!”

 

 

Waverly stared at him, wide eyed and in shock; she always thought her father blamed her for her mama and sister’s death, but he had never come right out and said it. “I-”

 

 

“You just had to go to that damn book fair, didn’t you!” Ward hissed, “You wouldn’t take no for an answer, would you? You’ve always been so damn stupid. So selfish!”

 

 

“Daddy, I-”

 

 

“I can’t even look at you anymore.” Ward said, tearing open her closet door and pulling her clothes from the hangers, “I want you gone. You cost me money, you don’t do nothin’ I ask you to! You sit in this room and cry all the time. Poor you, nobody loves you. That’s life kid! Even Wynonna left you, that good for nothing piece of shit!”

 

 

“Where am I supposed to go?” Waverly asked, absolutely terrified.

 

 

“You think you’re so smart, I’m sure you can figure it out!” Ward said, jerking open a suitcase and shoving things inside. “Just get out of my house.”

 

 

Waverly stood up on shaky legs. She barely had time to catch the small suitcase her father tossed her way. She went to speak, to beg him to let her stay but thought better of it. “I-”

 

 

“Get out, girl! Now!”

 

 

Waverly ran down the stairs, suitcase held tightly against her chest as she tore open the front door. It was so cold outside, but she hardly even noticed as she began the long walk into town. She was in the middle of nowhere, there were wild animals all around the Homestead, but she wasn’t about to chance being around her father for a second longer. She had thought she had seen him angry in the past but tonight was something entirely different, Ward wasn’t just dangerous, he was deadly.

 

 

///

 

 

Waverly collapsed under a nearby tree in the town park, exhausted. She had spent all night walking to town and by the time she reached the city limits, she felt like she was going to pass out. She thought about Aunt Gus but remembered was out of the country on vacation. There was Chrissy but Sheriff Nedley would ask too many questions and Jeremy, bless his soul, wouldn’t know what to do. So, she sat and she cried and she wished her life was different. Anything would be better than the life she had now.

 

 

“Wave?” Nicole came to a stop, pulling her headphones from her ears as she spotted the brunette under a tree, suitcase by her side. She dropped down in front of her, “Waverly.”

 

“Go away, Nicole.”

 

 

“I can’t do that.” Nicole said, forcing her chin up so she could look the smaller girl in the eyes.” I know that you hate me, and I know there isn’t anything I can do to change your mind, but I can’t let you sit out here and freeze to death.”

 

 

“I don’t hate you.” Waverly mumbled. “I don’t think I ever could.”

 

 

“Come on, up we go.” Nicole said, pulling Waverly up into a standing position. She knew now wasn’t the time for questions, so she grabbed Waverly’s suitcase and led her to her car down the street. “Everything is gonna be okay.”

 

 

“No, it’s really not.” Waverly said. “Nothing is ever okay.

 

 

///

 

 

Several hours later, Waverly walked out of Nicole’s bathroom, sporting one of the basketball player’s shirt. She had tried to wear some of her clothes, but they were all wrinkled and messed up. “Thanks for letting me take a shower.

 

 

“Anytime.” Nicole said as she turned the oven off. She lived in the basement, a full, finished space that she had all to herself and she loved it. “I uh, fixed breakfast. I uh, don’t know if you’re hungry but… just in case.”

 

 

“Thank you.” Waverly said awkwardly, as she looked around the living space. “Is this all yours?”

 

 

“My parents don’t have to deal with me.” Nicole shrugged. “EverYbody wins.”

 

 

“Nicole, I-”

 

 

“Don’t.” Nicole said, making her way over to Waverly slowly. She didn’t want to overstep but she couldn’t be quiet any longer. “I need to say my piece and after, if you want me to take you somewhere, I will. But I… I can’t not tell you.”

 

 

Waverly nodded, “Okay.”

 

 

“I… God, Waverly, I love you so damn much.” Nicole said, “You make me want to be a better person. I ama better person because of you. These past few months, they’ve been the best time of my life. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get you off my mind. I don’t do relationships, I don’t do commitment but that’s all I want with you. You’re so smart and funny, you do this little thing with your face when you’re studying and it just… I’m not sure of a lot of things but I do know that I want you. If… you’ll have me, that is.”

 

 

Waverly stared at her, tears falling down her face, “You- you love me?”

 

“Hell yeah I do.” Nicole smiled softly. “I don’t know what all you’ve been through and if you never tell me, that’s okay. I just need you to know that you will always have a safe place here with me, even if we’re just friends. I don’t want to pressure you into something you aren’t ready for or don’t want.” At the end of the day, you’re my best friend.”

 

 

“Why me?” Waverly asked, “You have so many other girls that-”

 

 

“They aren’t you.”

 

 

“But…”

 

“They. Aren’t. You.” Nicole said, cupping Waverly’s cheeks. “The other girls don’t matter to me.” She pulled one of Waverly’s hands to her chest. “They don’t make me feel the way you do.”

 

 

Waverly gasped as she felt the rapid beating of Nicole’s heart.

 

 

“Every single time I’m around you, my heart does this.” Nicole said, matter of fact. “My heart knows what it wants, and it wants you. Fuck Shae, fuck anyone who doesn’t see how wonderful, how beautiful and caring you are. I love you, Waverly Earp, more than you know.”  

 

 

“I… I love you, too, Nicole.” Waverly stuttered, still shocked by the redhead’s confession. “I’m sorry I didn’t stop and listen to you after your game. I just… why wouldn’t you pick Shae over me? She’s… she’s so.”

 

 

“She’s not you.” Nicole shrugged, “Baby, when will you understand that it’s only you that I want. You own my heart, Wave.”

 

 

“Can I kiss you?” Waverly asked, a little hesitant.

 

 

“You never have to ask.” Nicole said as she dipped her head and kissed the brunette, hard. She dug her fingers into Waverly’s hips, holding her in place. Before the kiss could get carried away, she pulled away, resting her forehead against Waverly’s. “Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out together, yeah? No more running away from each other. We talk about it.”

 

 

Waverly nodded, wrapping her arms around Nicole’s neck. “Okay.”

 

 

Nicole pressed a soft kiss to her nose, “You sure you’re gonna be alright?”

 

 

“I will be.” Waverly said, smiling up at her. “I have you.”

 

“Damn right you do.”