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Seasons

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The seasons come and go like thoughts of you.

Nicole looks up from the desk, the window catching her eye. The snow falls outside, lightly covering everything in a thin, white blanket.

Like the waves return to the seas into the blue.

Waverly sits on the dry rock near the mouth of the cave, watching the waves batter against the rocks in front of her. An occasional spray of salt water made her shiver, but she couldn’t—wouldn’t, bring herself to move.

To care.

They change but in a cycle, that I can’t lose.

Waverly pushes herself off the rock, grabbing her shoes on the rock next to her. She wades out of the cave, towards where her car was parked.

~.~.~

Nicole perks up as knocks on her door sounded, calling ‘Come on!’ and found herself grinning when Alice Earp, Wynonna’s daughter came in.

Each painful but delightful to live through.

After promising Alice that ‘Yes, she wouldn’t spend Christmas alone,’ and ‘No, I’m so sorry I can’t celebrate with you guys this year, there’s just so much paperwork,’ she ushered the seven-year-old out, exhaling. She walked over to the window now, succumbing to the temptation of a momentary break, and watched the snowfall. She’d lied; she will be spending Christmas alone and wouldn't be going to the Homestead like the past years because truth to be told—

~.~.~

Waverly drives to the airport, dropping the car off at the airport rental. She puts her sunglasses on, takes the luggage—a medium-sized suitcase— and heads into the airport. She’d promised Wynonna that she be back at Purgatory for Christmas after three years of traveling the world. She supposes that her travels were like the seasons, and now, ironically, she was returning to Purgatory in the season she hated the most—winter.

You came into my life, just like another season.

A smile graces her lips as she thought of Alice— she must be six or seven-years-old by now. She’d blown straight into Waverly’s life like a season; expected, yet surprising. She heard that she was back in Purgatory now, living with Doc, Gus, Wynonna and…

~.~.~

Nicole walks back to her desk, dragging her feet. Paperwork for a sheriff was doubled—well, quadrupled, if we’re being honest here, but it wasn’t that bad. There was still enough to last her quite a few days. Besides, she liked the paperwork.

Not for long just a time, just like another season.

A transfer sheet sat on top of all of the other paperwork, demanding more attention than everything else. She could transfer quickly, before… before she came back…

~.~.~

But another thing, Waverly supposes, that came into her life like a season, was… well, was Nicole. Showing up at Shorty’s that day, disrupting the easy, predictable small-town life she’d had…

Maybe this time next year you’ll reappear for unknown reason.

Briefly, Waverly allows her mind to wonder about whether Nicole would be there when she got to Purgatory. She hands her ticket and passport to the attendant, and upon receiving a ‘Have a good flight!’ and her things back, she smiled politely and crossed the bridge leading to the airplane. Hell, did Nicole even know that she was going—coming back?

~.~.~

Nicole thought back to the conversation she had with Wynonna earlier that day. The young mother had barged into the Sheriff’s office, interrupting what was a peaceful lunchtime. Standing up instinctively, Nicole opened her mouth to ask what was wrong before Wynonna waved at her to sit down.

‘Look, you might need to sit down for this,’ Wynonna advised, waiting for her to sit down before speaking. ‘It’s Waves. She’s, ah—’

‘Coming back?’ Nicole finished, phrasing it as a question. After some hesitation, Wynonna nodded, and she leaned back into her chair. Wynonna had been right; she did need the seat.

‘Hey, Haughtsauce,’ Wynonna began before clearing her throat. ‘Look, I know you’ve been celebrating Christmas with the rest of us for the past through years, and I’m really grateful for what you’ve done for Alice. What role you’ve been playing in her life, especially since Waverly hasn’t been here…’

Nicole did her best not to flinch and threw up the emotionless mask she was now used to putting on at any given time, and raised an indifferent eyebrow, indicating for Wynonna to continue.

‘Well, I was still hoping that you could… you know, come.’

Nicole sighed, her mind scrambling for the lie that she hadn’t used in a very, very long time. ‘Well, I’ve actually got a lot of paperwork to do this year.’ She gestured vaguely at the messy piles at the edge of her desk. ‘Thanks for the offer, though.’

Albeit disappointed, Wynonna chose not to push it. ‘Okay.’ She headed to the door, but paused, hand on the knob. ‘Hey,’ she said gently.

Nicole looked up, raising an eyebrow at her, pen poised over more paperwork.

‘If you need someone to talk to…’ Wynonna let her sentence trail off and made sure that Nicole knew what she meant.

Nicole nodded. Realizing that she wouldn’t get anything else out of the redhead, Wynonna turned the knob and left.

Nicole just sat there and wondered how she was going to give Alice her gift.

But I’ll cherish everyday till you come my way this season.

And Nicole HAD cherished every single day Waverly was gone from Purgatory.

She moved from her apartment to another one, one much closer to the city. Luckily, she hadn’t really had to touch any of Waverly’s stuff; Wynonna had come and taken it all away after their… disagreement. She’d given Calamity Jane to Nedley, who was now one of the bartenders at Shorty’s, and changed everything in her new apartment so nothing reminded her of Waverly. She’d changed her hat, burned most of her clothes and got new ones, left the gifts that Waverly had given her with Wynonna. She’d also gotten a new couch for her office; the old one had been falling apart anyway.

She never went to Shorty’s anymore, never went on walks alone in the night or anything that reminded her of Waverly. Everything simply hurt too much. And it shouldn’t feel that way.

Especially since she was the one who did the breaking up.

~.~.~

Waverly opens up the notebook. She checks off Australia and stares at all the other countries she was planning to visit. Italy, Andorra, Iceland. Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka. And so much more. So much of the world that’s left to be seen.

The seasons turn and change just like your mind.

She’d made sure to send a postcard from anywhere she could. Experienced everything she could. Ate the foods that were within her diet—she is vegan, after all, and took many pictures. She lost count of how many SD cards there were, filled with photos, in her bag.

~.~.~

‘Look, I don’t know what’s going on between us,’ Nicole told her, gesturing between the two of them. ‘You’re constantly researching about God knows what, we don’t sleep at the same time anymore, and we can barely stand to be in the same room with each other for more than fifteen minutes. What’s wrong? Are you okay?’ Taking a step forward, she reached out to place a hand on Waverly, pulling it back and taking a step back when she saw Waverly cringe away the slightest bit.

‘Of course I’m fine,’ Waverly replied testily. She stands up and gathers the papers closer to her chest, pointedly covering the parts covered in ink. ‘I have to go to the Homestead. Wynonna’s working tonight and…’

‘Oh no, don’t lie to me,’ Nicole said wearily. She sat down on the now-vacated dining table, looking up at the brunette standing by the doorway. ‘Wynonna’s got work tonight. Nedley’s got her evening shifts every Thursday, Waves. What’s going on? What’s happening to us?’

‘Nothing,’ Waverly replied shortly again. She turned to leave and Nicole felt her temper burst.

‘Don’t tell me ”nothing” is happening!’ Nicole felt like a dam was opening up from within her, and she knew that she’d probably say something that she’d regret but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She’d been holding this in for too long. ‘I don’t get any time alone with you anymore! You’re always researching, you won’t tell me what you’re researching, and you’re always lying to me just so you can get some space alone! Nicole took a deep breath before continuing, knowing that the woman standing stock-still in front of her was listening. ‘Don’t try to deny it. I know. If you wanted space, I’d rather you tell me instead of lying to me about it. Tell me, what do I have to do? What’s going wrong?’

The silence was deafening. Neither of them moved until Waverly threw her papers onto the table, scattering them everywhere. Some fluttered to the floor, missing their intended mark, but Nicole saw what the general gist of those papers.

‘You… you want to travel the world.’

Waverly nodded.

‘And you didn’t want me to know. Why?’

She didn’t look at Nicole. Instead, she gazed off at the doorway, a faraway look in her eyes. Nicole knew why, but she still wanted to hear Waverly say it.

‘Waverly Earp.’

No answer.

‘Why.’ It’s phrased more as a statement rather than a question because Nicole already knew the answer, but she still wanted to hear it from Waverly’s mouth.

When she didn’t reply for a few more minutes, Nicole decided to just make things easier for both of them.

‘I don’t see a future between us anymore,’ she said, watching Waverly come alive at her words. ‘We’re…’ it’s hard to get the words out, but she manages it anyway. ‘We’re done.’

She pushed down her emotions and got up to go to their—hers, now— bedroom and closes the door, picking up her phone. Dialing the contact ‘Aphrodite’, she heard the door slam just as the person on the other side picked up.

‘You might want to check on her,’ was all that Nicole said before she hung up, put on her uniform and prepared to head to the station for some work to do. And so she could relieve Wynonna from her shift to go after Waverly.

Like the sun gives into the moon into the night. Time continues marching, it slowly crawls. With each new one starting, I recall.

‘Haughtshot,’ Wynonna said when Nicole opened the door the next morning. ‘Sit down. I’m making coffee, then you’re going to tell me exactly what happened between the person who’s finally been treating my sister right and her. And what we’re going to do with her stuff. And… stuff.’

And that was how Nicole learned that Waverly was actually going to travel the world. 

‘Well, I guess I made the right choice. If she stayed, I would just be a burden. Then she wouldn’t have gotten to see the world like she’s always wanted to, right?’

Wynonna shook her head at Nicole, sipping the coffee. ‘I agree with your intentions, but not how you carried it out.’

~.~.~

Fall in Papua New Guinea had been beautiful. Winter in New Zealand wasn’t mild, but it wasn’t harsh, at least compared to Purgatory. Spring in Japan was great, with cherry blossoms floating about as she walked through the path. 

Waverly continues flipping through the pictures, smiling to herself. Drinking coconut juice in Brazil, throwing snowballs in Korea, learning how to count in Vietnamese in Vietnam. 

She stops, smile fading. It suddenly hits her that she’s missed out so much in Purgatory while she was gone, and she hadn’t bothered to contact anyone except for sending postcards. Radio silence.

Just like what Wynonna had done when she was in Greece, except she’d sent letters. 

But… but you sent more postcards… right?

That shouldn’t excuse your actions , the rational part of her brain fought back. You’re becoming the person you don’t want to become.

You came into my life, just like another season. Not for long just a time, just like another season. 

‘Waverly!’ 

She turns and sees Wynonna and Alice on Doc’s shoulders, holding a sign that screams “Welcome Home Earp!” and Wynonna’s holding a printed picture of Waverly’s head on a stick.

She blushes but heads their way, ignoring the weird looks she gets from everyone else. The little girl is helped down from Doc’s shoulders.

“Hi, I’m Alice!” she says cheerfully. “You’re auntie Waverly, right?”

Waverly smiles brightly, leaning down a bit accommodate herself to Alice’s height. “Yep! And you must be Alice, right?”

“Yep!” Alice replied happily. “You know, auntie Waverly?”

“Yeah?” she returns, taking her suitcase and dragging it alone behind Wynonna and Doc, who were leading the way.

“Mommy and auntie ‘cole both said that I’m optimistic just like you!”

~.~.~

Nicole’s phone pinged, making her pull it out of her pocket.

Aphrodite: Just thought that u would want 2 know that Waverly’s back. 

Haughtshot: Thanks for the warning.

Haughtshot: Are there any places I should be avoiding today?

Aphrodite: Shorty’s. I think that’s it. 

Aphrodite: And the Homestead.

Haughtshot: Okay. 

Haughtshot: By the way, I’ll leave Alice’s gift in the bullpen with your name on it. Get someone to come to pick it up, okay?

Nicole put her phone down, ignoring the responding ping. She went to find two people; an officer with relations to the city department and a very promising deputy. 

Maybe this time next year you’ll reappear, for no reason. But I’ll cherish every day till you come my way this season. 

“Yep. Are you sure you’re going there and not going because of me?”

“Yes, yes,” Officer Johnson replies. “I’ll hand it to their superiors. My brother’s pretty well-known with them so I can get them to get it finalized sooner if that’s what you’d like.”

He tips his hat and leaves before Nicole could reply. Deputy Davis sits down onto the leather couch. “So it’s true, then?” she asks. “You’re leaving?”

“Yeah,” Nicole returns. “Well, I mean the paperwork hasn’t gone through yet. But I was hoping that you’d be Sheriff once I’m gone. You’re dedicated, smart, and careful.” She holds up a hand to stop her from talking, indicating for her to let her finish first. “I’ve trained you the best I could and you graduated at the top of your class.” She looks straight into Davis’s eyes now. “Jacqueline Violet Davis, do you know why I tried so hard to recruit you?”

Deputy Davis sits there in shock. She nods slowly, understanding the reasons of everything the Sheriff did now; going out on patrol with her, telling her the story of every person they saw, harsher punishments when she messed up, and the higher expectations she was expected to achieve. “Oh.”

“ ‘Oh’ is right,” is Nicole’s response. “You’ve been here for about three years now, and I’d really like for you to be Sheriff if I were to leave.”

“Which you are.”

“Yeah...”

And, Nicole wanted to say, You remind me of me when I first arrived here.

~.~.~

Waverly was going downstairs to retrieve some juice for her tea party with Alice when she paused on the stairs and heard Wynonna and Doc whispering furtively— which is to say, not very secretly given Wynonna’s loud nature.

“... thinks I didn’t see it,” Wynonna was saying. “It was on her desk, on top of all the paperwork. Seriously.”

“Perhaps she finds herself soft on the idea of… explorin’ the world and her interests as well,” Doc’s familiar drawl said. Waverly sinks to her knees, kneeling down on the stairs. They couldn’t be talking about… 

“The Nicole Haught that I know wanted to settle down in a small town, not move to a big-ass city like Calgary!”

Waverly feels her heart freeze up a little at her words. Paperwork… big city… A sudden thought shocks her and she unwittingly gasps. 

Nicole’s planning to transfer?

She accidentally leans too much to the front and loses her balance, tumbling down the stairs. She lands in a tangled heap at the foot of the stairs. Wynonna and Doc rush over.

“Waves! Babygirl, are you okay?”

Waverly rubs her head and sits up sheepishly, helped up by Doc. “Yep! I came to get some juice for my lady upstairs. We’re having a tea party.”

Wynonna goes to the kitchen, getting some juice boxes Nicole had bought for them a few days ago. She took it and walks back to Waverly, who was now standing up thanks to Doc. “Here!”

“Thanks, Wy,” she says, walking back up the stairs. Her head spins, but not from the fall. What did I just hear?

Wynonna watches her go with a suspicious look in her blue eyes. She turns to Doc. “Think she heard something?”

“Why, I’m sure she did. Hence why there was a gasp before the young lady tumbled down the stairs.”

“Well, shit.”

Each time of the year carries memories. Like the never fading whisper in the breeze. 

Later that day, Waverly stands in front of her bed. Wynonna and Alice have long since passed out, and Doc was probably in the barn. Apparently, that’s where he lives now. 

She traces her hand over the walls, over the bedspread, over the window, and rests her hand on the desk. This was where she researched for hours on the Earp Curse. And it had all paid off.

Now Alice was home and she and Doc were back from the Garden.

She reaches out to the picture frame that was placed face down on her desk and adjusts its position, placing it so she could see what the picture was.

And there was no need, actually. She has that picture seared into her brain, anyways. 

It was a picture of her and Nicole sitting around a bonfire. She had a blanket wrapped around her, and Nicole had wrapped her arms around Waverly. She was asleep in Nicole’s arms, and Nicole had this affectionate look on her face.

She instantly turns it over, placing it face down again. She was still confused about how she should think about the redhead. Sure, they had broken up, but she still loves Nicole. 

They had been engaged, after all.

~.~.~

Nicole drives by her old apartment, stopping. She leans her head on the car window and sighs. Waverly was back. And that brought on some very memories that she’d been able to repress for three years.

“Come on , don’t tell me you’re chickening out now!” Waverly giggled. Nicole sighed and wraps her jacket tighter around her own shoulders. 

“It’s cold,” she groused. “I’m just gonna go ins—” Something cold hits her back just then and she turns around, gasping in indignation. “Waverly Earp!”

The brunette just sticks her tongue out, hands already busy making another snowball. “What, Nicole Rayleigh Haught?”

“You have ten seconds to run,” she threatened playfully. She stepped into the snow, feeling grateful for having the foresight of putting gloves on before coming out. “Ten! Nine…”

Oh, we will keep on changing, all over again. Yeah, we will keep on changing just like another season.

It’s officially Christmas day. Nicole brings a cardboard box into the police station and walks towards the Sheriff’s office.

Nicole goes in and starts putting things into her box; pencils, pens, other miscellaneous things. When she opens the bottom drawer, she hesitates before pulling out a framed picture of her and Waverly.

It used to be in her house but she’d moved it here to have a part of Waverly to motivate herself every day. But after they… well, she’d decided to put it where she couldn’t see it.

And now, as she looks at it, a wave of sadness washes over her.

Waverly had finally gotten a chance to see the world, but the emotional scars that were left behind would never be forgotten. 

Don’t want another day without you by my side, oh this season.

The first thought that crosses her mind as she wakes up is that she has to stop Nicole.

Stop her from leaving.

But on what pretense? As her ex-girlfriend? As a friend? 

Definitely not a friend…

~.~.~

Nicole suddenly feels the urge to stay.

The transfer form hadn’t come down yet actually; Johnson had mentioned something about the superiors thinking that she was “overqualified” and that they might not take her in. 

“They’d also researched the crime rates of Purgatory,” she remembers Johnson’s voice over the phone. “Apparently it went down a lot when you were Sheriff. They think that you should stay and keep them that way.”

“Interesting,” Nicole mused. “I’m guessing that that means that they’re not going to accept me, right?”

A pause. Nicole sensed the answer Johnson was going to give and nodded before realizing that he couldn’t see it. “Okay. Hey, call me when they get a definite answer, okay?”

“Sure thing.”

Her phone rang. She pulls it out of her pocket, answering it. Except it was Davis, not Officer Johnson.

“Deputy?”

“Sheriff,” her deputy replied. “Hey, Johnson called to tell me the result. Did he…?”

“No.”

“Well…”

Nicole pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs. “Yeah, I guessed so. I’m staying.”

“Hey, meet you in your office in a few, okay? I want to ask you something.”

She hangs up without another word and Nicole sighs. She picks up the picture frame and stares at it. Why was there suddenly all these lingering feelings? 

The door opens and Deputy Davis strolls in. She holds a frame in her hands too and points at the picture in front of Nicole. “Is that why you want to leave?”

Nicole blinks before she splutters out, “H-how do you… how did you know?”

A secretive smile graces Deputy Davis’s lips before she holds out her picture frame. “Because this person is why I’m here at Purgatory.”

The frame is of Deputy Davis and a blonde. The blonde is wearing blue, rectangular glasses and has a happy smile on her face, eyes closed with Deputy —Jacqueline — kissing her cheek gently. 

Nicole instantly understands and goes to hug her. Who would’ve thought… 

You came into my life, just like, another season. Not for long just a time, just like, another season. Maybe this time next year you’ll reappear, for unknown reason. But I’ll cherish every day till you come my way this season.

It was later that day and Nicole was doing her usual Sheriff’s work. Paperwork, making sure the officers didn’t goof off too much, and so on. 

It suddenly registers to her how quiet it is outside. Well, besides from the fact that it’s quite late now; around 8 pm, when most of her officers are off at Shorty’s and it’s Christmas , there was a quiet shuffling sound outside. When she looks up, she sees the girl she hadn’t expected to see at all.

“Hey,” Waverly hesitantly says. “Where’s… everyone?”

“You mean Happy Hour at Shorty’s, same time every day, kinda like clockwork,” Nicole replies, standing up. At that, Waverly starts pulling all of the blinds shut. Her head blanks out for a few seconds, remembering what had happened a few years ago in a similar scenario…

“Hey.”

Waverly continues to pull the other blinds shut.

“Waves.” Nicole gets up and walks towards Waverly, feeling concerned.

Waverly pushes past Nicole, muttering, “Excuse me,” closing the door.

“What is your problem? You—”

Waverly lunges forward and kisses her, backing her towards the couch. Nicole feels her hands instinctively go up, grabbing onto Waverly’s arms. Oh, she’s gotten stronger…

They land on the couch together, Waverly on top, and Nicole is breathless. “What happened to Well, what were they? Friends? Exes? 

The other girl sits back. “Do you know what I did when I was gone?”

“What?”

A smile appears on Waverly’s face. “I think the question you should ask is what I didn’t do.” She settles, making herself comfortable. Nicole pulls herself up, realizing that this would be a long story. “I did everything that I could do; I ate so many different vegan cuisines, I took so many pictures with the different styles of art…” Shaking her head to try to re-center herself, she had to pause at the happy, proud look on Nicole’s face. Something in Nicole’s eyes encouraged her to go on, so she did. 

“I did so many things, now that I think of it, I think I was just trying to distract myself from something that I was sad about. Maybe my past, or maybe, well,” she stopped and blushed. Refusing to look Nicole in the eye, she whispered, “well, you.”

“Me?”

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat and shifted nervously, feeling the embarrassment spread across her face. She forges on anyways. “You complete me in a way no one else ever will. So please, don’t leave?”

Nicole captures her lips in another kiss, making Waverly’s heart flutter. “Did you just get back? Come on, let’s get you home first. Then we can talk about our feelings, yeah?”

As if on cue, Wynonna bursts into the room. “Waverly!” Seeing the situation, she stops and backs to the door. “Am I… am I interrupting something?”

“No,” Nicole says, helping Waverly up. “Waverly here is just going to go home. She needs some rest.” She smiles at Wynonna. 

Wynonna takes Waverly gently by the arm, but the younger Earp turns and looks at Nicole. “Tomorrow morning?” 

There’s so much hope in her voice, Nicole thinks. She forces a smile. “Yeah. Night!”

“Good night, Sheriff Haught.” Wynonna leads Waverly out. 

~.~.~

However, when Waverly walked into the Sheriff’s office the next day, it was empty. Cold.

Any trace of Nicole was gone, save for a note on the desk. 

She rushed over and read it, dropping it on the desk and trying to hold in the tears. 

Calgary, Canada.