When Wynonna told Waverly that she had gotten her a “super fucking huge surprise” for successfully defending her art history dissertation, this wasn’t what Waverly had in mind. Knowing Wynonna, it could have been absolutely anything. So although she wasn’t exactly thrilled about the puppy that Wynonna brought over in a box with holes punched in it, she was somewhat relieved. After all, it could’ve been worse.
Still though, she had trouble managing her facial expressions when she lifted the lid to see the fluff ball inside.
“Oh, it’s umm … it’s ahh … this thing is alive,” Waverly blurted out, eyebrows raised and something between a grimace and a smile affixed to her face.
“Of course it is! It's a fucking puppy, baby girl! Look at him!" And of course, Wynonna was oblivious to the fact that while yes, he was cute (okay, really, really cute), Waverly wasn’t necessarily stoked to be receiving a live animal. The kind that requires care and training and money and time, and these were just a few of Waverly’s immediate concerns. But damn, was he cute. So when she lifted the little guy out of the box and his tiny tale wagged uncontrollably, she knew that she wouldn't be able to protest.
When she pressed Wynonna on it later, asking her why she thought a puppy was a good gift for someone who desperately needed relaxation after the stress of working on her dissertation for a year, she had to admit that Wynonna's answer was genuinely sweet. "I don't know why, but growing up, I always thought that perfect, happy families had Golden Retrievers. I know we're not perfect, but having you back in my life has made me so happy, Waves. So I thought that we could have one of the happy family dogs." Waverly had to admit that the sentiment behind the gift was thoughtful. Although it struck her as typical Wynonna to give the gift of responsibility to Waverly instead of taking it on for herself.
She named him Sonny and even though he had been chewing on damn near everything she owned, she loved him dearly. She read voraciously about training and socializing, which was why she started taking him to a dog park as soon as he was old enough to go. Her plan was to socialize him with other dogs and people, start to apply his training in places with more distractions, and eventually she would have a well behaved boy on her hands. But unlike many of Waverly’s other plans, and God did she have many, this one just wasn't going according to, well, the plan.
As energetic and wild as Sonny was at home with Waverly, and even around Wynonna, the second they left the apartment, he whined almost constantly, with his tail tucked between his legs. He was, as Wynonna affectionately put it, "a big ass baby", and Waverly couldn't argue with that. His fear of absolutely everything outside of the apartment did not bode well for him in such a hectic city as Brooklyn. The traffic, the noises, hell even the smells scared him. But every time they made the trip to the dog park, he got a little bit better. She figured at this pace, he should be completely over the fear by the time she turned 80.
So again, they suited up for the park. Waverly with her birkenstocks, jeans, t-shirt and a backpack for Sonny’s treats and water (hello, she's a planner), and Sonny with his tucked tail. The walk was only a few minutes from the apartment, but Sonny required ample time to stop, sit, and whine, with Waverly begging him to kindly move his furry tush. The few minutes turned to 15 but hey, there was a time when he had refused to walk at all.
It starts the same way it always does. Waverly opens the first gate, closes the first gate, unhooks Sonny's leash from his harness, and opens the door to the second gate. Per usual, he is immediately glued to her side and she struggles to keep from stepping on him when she turns to latch the second gate closed. Then, a change. She looks down from the latch after she’s finished hooking it into place and doesn't see Sonny. She turns all the way around. No Sonny.
Her heart beats a little faster. Maybe he's finally gone to play with another dog? Or maybe his wish has finally come true and he has disappeared, never to face the torture of the dog park ever again. Just as she starts to call out for him, she spots him. He is on a bench, sitting snugly next to someone whose giant German Shepherd is sitting next to them. As she walks towards them, she hears a soft voice.
“Hi, little guy. Aren’t you cute?” Waverly watches him practically melt into her touch when she pets him, and she is stunned. She assumes that a friendly spirit has taken control of his tiny body. The alternate explanation, that Sonny is just for whatever reason drawn to this person, doesn’t mesh with the shy dog that she’s seen at the park every time before. As she nears closer to the bench, the German Shepherd tentatively sniffs Sonny, then gives him a lick right on top of his head. “Easy, Bernie. He’s a baby.” Her voice gets a little higher and more airy as Sonny flops himself onto her lap. “Aren’t you just a little baby? Aren’t you just the cutest little-”
“I’m sorry,” Waverly cuts her off, “he’s usually so shy. He’s never actually left my side. I kind of can’t believe he’s more than an inch away from me.”
And when Sonny’s new friend turns towards her, she gets it. She understands completely why Sonny is drawn to her. She’s gorgeous. Like really gorgeous. And so damn cool looking with her snapback and army green jacket. Has she ever even thought someone looked cool before, was that even a thing anymore? Jesus, she may be the most attractive person she’s ever seen.
Wait … what?
Waverly decides she’ll put a pin in this and revisit it later, when she’s not practically ogling someone she doesn’t even know. Luckily, she snaps out of her haze enough to catch the tail end of whatever this mystery lady is saying. “He’s really never left your side here? He seems so friendly.”
“Really, he’s been a whiny baby every time we’ve come here.” She stands awkwardly, feeling heat rise to her cheeks. What the hell has come over her? ‘Am I feverish? Am I getting sick,’ she thinks. “Well, I’m sorry to interrupt you guys,” she says as she goes to grab Sonny from her lap. “Come on, buddy, let’s let them get back to their thing.”
“Oh, no, he’s really fine,” the red haired woman says. “Bernie loves to play with puppies. It keeps this old guy young, huh Bern,” she says as she pats him on the head.
As if on cue, Sonny hops down from the bench and Bernie follows him. Waverly assumes that whatever spirit has possessed him has left and he’ll come right back to her side and start his whining routine. So when Bernie picks up a stick and brings it back to Sonny, who then starts to play with Bernie, she is well and truly shocked.
“I’m gonna be honest, I’m a little worried that he’s been possessed by something. He has seriously never even come close to playing with another dog.”
The other woman laughs, and Jesus, her dimples (‘seriously, what is even wrong with me?’ Waverly thinks to herself). “Puppies always find him. It’s like they know he’s a gentle giant.”
They watch their boys playing together, Waverly standing next to the bench and the other woman sitting with her body angled towards Waverly. She looks up and meets Waverly with a sort of smirk playing at the corners of her lips, “You uh .. you don’t have to stand, you can sit on the bench if you want.” To which Waverly silently thanks the universe, Sonny’s backpack was getting heavy with all of the supplies she had thrown in there.
As she sits, putting her backpack between them, the other woman introduces herself. “I’m Nicole, by the way. That’s Bernie,” she gestures to him gently playing with Sonny, who looks ridiculously small in comparison. “I think I heard you say your little guy’s name is Sonny, right?”
“Yup, you heard right. That’s Sonny, and I’m Waverly.” Waverly briefly thinks about shaking her hand, but wouldn’t that be awkward? Good Lord, since when did she start overthinking her every move? Thankfully, Nicole carries them through, preventing an awkward silence that Waverly definitely would’ve allowed.
“So, do you live near here?”
“Oh yeah, my apartment is like a three minute walk from here. Though Sonny is having some kind of competition with himself to see how long he can drag it out.” They laugh softly together. “What about you?” Waverly asks, and chastises herself for secretly hoping that she lives nearby so that maybe seeing her here isn’t a one-off.
“Mhm, I’m pretty close by, we’re here every -”
And then Waverly feels her phone vibrating and gets it out of her pocket. “Gosh, I’m sorry, I have to take this.”
She stands up and walks a few paces away before answering. “Hello?”
“Baby girl, I need some help.”
“You sound drunk. Like really drunk.”
“Yeah, I know. I can’t find my car. Wait, hang on,” she says and Waverly hears some mumbling in the background. “Never mind, Dolls said I didn’t even drive. Can you believe that?!” and she laughs so loudly that Waverly has to pull the phone away from her ear so that her eardrum doesn’t burst. She pulls it back when she hears Wynonna compose herself. “So yeah, I need you to help me get back home.”
“You’re serious? It’s 11 AM on a Sunday. Dolls can’t help you get home?”
“I made some bottomless mimosas my bitch. He said he’s got some work to get back to, but I know he’s lying.” Waverly can hear Dolls in the background telling Wynonna that he isn’t lying.
“Whatever. Just text me where you’re at and I’ll get to you. Wait no, have Dolls text me where you’re at.”
“You’re not mad, are you? Waves come on, this is the first time I’ve called you to come get me in like forever.”
“I’m not mad.” She’s mad. “Just … just stay put and tell Dolls to text me.” She hangs up before she can give Wynonna a chance to respond.
She’s used to this, taking care of Wynonna and rescuing her from whatever stupid conundrum she’s involved herself in. And God knows, Waverly is patient beyond belief with her hot mess of a sister. But today, she’s definitely aggravated with Wynonna’s seeming inability to ever grow up. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she’s pulling her away from an attractive redhead, but like she told herself earlier, she’ll come back to that another time.
When she turns back and sees Sonny bringing a stick to Nicole, she feels even more annoyed that Wynonna’s interfering with the only time he’s acted like an actual dog at the dog park.
“I’m sorry buddy, we’ve got to go rescue your drunkard of an aunt,” she says and Nicole laughs, which Waverly can’t help but to smile at. As she gets Sonny’s harness reattached to the leash, she looks up to meet Nicole’s gaze. “Gosh, I hate to leave, he’s never played with another dog without acting like it was pure torture.”
“Well, Bernie and I are here every Sunday at 10:30.” She pauses and her eyes go from Waverly’s feet to her eyes and there’s something in them that’s causing Waverly to feel like she’s having a heat stroke. ‘I’m definitely getting sick,’ she thinks. “We’d love to see more of you and Sonny, right Bernie?” and Waverly is thankful that she cuts off their eye contact by reaching down to pet Bernie because she thinks she might faint.
Waverly tries to think of anything to say, but when she feels her phone vibrating again and sees that it’s Wynonna, she figures that maybe the universe was trying to help her avoid embarrassing herself. “And the drunkard is calling again,” she says chuckling. “Well, hopefully we’ll see you next week.” She waves and starts to walk away with Sonny, truly hoping that she will indeed see Nicole next week.
It’s 8:30 PM and Waverly is exhausted from the energy she’s spent on tracking down Wynonna, getting her back to Waverly’s apartment, and stealing her phone away from her every two seconds to prevent her from drunkenly calling her boss. She’s finally fallen asleep on the couch, and Waverly decides to call it an early night. So when she lays down at around 9, after getting Sonny situated, she figures it’s probably time to revisit all of her thoughts at the park.
Okay, so Nicole was attractive. Not a big deal, people are attractive all the time. But the thing about her being the most attractive person she’d ever seen, that was a bit dramatic for Waverly. So she hones in on this. Sure, she’s found women attractive before. There was even a time in high school when she thought that she might be bisexual. But then Champ happened and they were together for so long, and okay, maybe she had tried to ignore it. And it’s only been 6 months since Waverly’s been single, so not a ton of time to revisit the topic.
Sticking with her tried and true method, she decides to plan out an exercise for her to try: she’ll think of herself with another woman and see if she can truly picture a life with someone of the same gender. She lays on her back and closes her eyes, taking several deep breaths before she starts. She decides her counterpart in this production will just be a generic woman with no clear face. She goes through a sort of checklist. Hand holding? Yes, she can imagine that. Going on a romantic date? Even just the thought gives her butterflies, so she supposes that one can be crossed off too. A kiss? Sure, her lips would probably be really soft. A serious kiss, like making out? Yeah, she could get into that. She’d probably run her hands through red hair and - wait, what? Red hair? Then it hits her that her “generic woman” has morphed into Nicole. And that feeling of heat coming over her is back and now she knows that she wasn’t getting sick after all.
“Shit,” she says out loud.
She decides that for tonight, she’ll just agree that she’s attracted to Nicole in more than just a friendly, platonic way. Figuring out anything beyond that is too much for just a night, so she’ll come back to this again. Perhaps run through her exercise again, though she won’t admit that it’s just to let herself imagine what it would feel like to kiss a woman (okay fine, to kiss Nicole).
So yes, she has a crush on Nicole and it’s making her feel excited and a smidge more alive (‘again with the dramatics, Waverly!’, she chides herself) than she felt at the start of the day. And even though she still has a lot to figure out, she knows one thing for sure:
She really hopes that she’ll see Nicole at the dog park next Sunday.