The small town of Purgatory reminded Officer Nicole Haught a lot of the little town she had grown up in. Purgatory had that same small town charm as her hometown. It had the same tight knit townspeople, who did not care much for outsiders (even if those outsiders now worked for the Sheriff's office). The people here hadn’t exactly been cold or mean, but they hadn’t been friendly either. One week here and the only people Nicole had gotten to know was Sheriff Nedley, a few of the other deputies she worked with and the cute barista that worked at the coffee shop down the road.
Purgatory had not been as welcoming as she thought it would but Nicole honestly could not care less (or so she told herself). This was a fresh start, a chance to make a new life for herself. She had left everything and everyone she had known behind and she was determined to make this move work. She had no choice really, she refused to go running back home to her parents. She refused to fail.
“Officer Haught,” Sheriff Nedley’s gruff voice pulled Nicole’s attention away from the paperwork she had been trying to get through. Trying was the key word there, she was bored out of her mind and just couldn’t focus.
She looked up at the man, glad for the distraction. Paperwork was her least favorite part of the job. She wanted to be out there patrolling the town, helping people, doing anything other than stupid, tedious paperwork. “Yes Sir?”
“Come with me, I have a job for you.”
“Yes Sir.” Standing up quickly, Nicole secures her standard issue Glock 9mm pistol in it’s holster. She places her steton on top of her head and grabs her jacket from the back of her chair, slipping it on as she follows Nedley out of the station, with a bounce in her step.
Finally, she was getting out of the station and going to handle her first call. Something she had been dreaming about since she was little. She had always wanted to be a cop. She had always wanted to protect and serve.
Every man in her family had joined the academy, they all had protected and served their community and Nicole wanted to follow in her father’s, uncle’s, and grandfather’s footsteps. Even if that had meant she had to leave her home, to make her name somewhere else because no one back home would take her seriously.
Instead of heading for his squad car like Nicole expected, Nedley starts walking down the sidewalk towards the main part of town.
After a few minutes of walking in silence, Nicole’s curiosity finally gets the better of her. “Sir, where are we going?”
“Something happened at Shorty’s?” She asked, hand automatically coming to rest on her Glock, trying to contain her excitement. It was wrong to hope that someone had broken the law, that someone might have gotten in a fight or gotten hurt but she couldn’t help it. She was so ready to do actual police work. She’s been waiting her whole life for this.
She had yet to stop in Shorty’s Saloon, though she knew from her fellow officers that it was where most of the town hung out on a regular bases and where most of their calls came from. Which meant it was probably a bar fight, that she would get the chance to break up.
Okay, now she was confused and slightly disappointed. Why would they be going to Shorty’s if nothing happened? She welcomed the break from her paperwork but she really needed to get it all done if she wanted to go home at a decent time tonight. Not that she had anything but her cat and boxes that needed to be unpacked waiting for her.
“Then why are we going to Shorty’s Sir?” She questioned, watching him from the corner of her eye.
Nedley sighed, coming to a stop and placing a hand on Nicole’s shoulder, stopping her as well. He liked Nicole, he really did and he saw the untapped potential just sitting underneath the surface. And maybe it was just the father in him but he wanted to see her succeed in whatever it was she came to Purgatory for. Also the girl needed some damn friends, the whole week she has been here she has been at the station.
“You have good instincts Haught but, a good cop needs more than their instincts, they need to know the town they are protecting inside and out, they need to know and understand the people they are protecting.”
“And I don’t know the people in this town?”
“No, you don’t.” He nodded, dropping his hand from her shoulder. “And I know it’s not from a lack of trying, it’s hard to get to know the people in Purgatory when you are an outsider, even if you are here to make this place your home.”
“So what exactly do you want me to do Sherif?” Nicole asked when they started walking again.
It was nice to know that someone here cared about her, that she wasn’t on her own here, that she had someone she could possible count on. Maybe he had only taken an interest because she was a rookie and he needed her up to par with everyone else, so he didn’t have to take the heat if she screwed up. Either way it was still nice.
“I want you to mingle with the people of this town, I want you to observe them and get to know them and I want you to relax and make friends,” he said as they stopped in front of the saloon.
He held his hand out and smiled encouragingly at her. Something she hadn’t seen him do very often. He was a man of few words and even fewer smiles.
“Now give me your gun, as of right now you are no longer Officer Haught, you are just Nicole.”
Nicole unstrapped her Glock from it’s holster and handed it to him. She wanted to point out that even if she took off her uniform and her stetson, which held her badge, she would still be Officer Haught. The outfit, the gun, the stetson was only part of being an officer.
With a nod to Nedley, she turned to the door of the saloon, taking a deep breath and unbuttoning the first two buttons on her uniform shirt. Trying to look as casual as possible in her uniform. Though she was pretty sure it hadn’t helped much. There was the air of a police officer surrounding her at all times, it was unmistakable and people usually noticed it right away.
She wasn’t sure why she suddenly felt so nervous. She was usually such a confident person. She knew who she was and she owned it. She never apologized for who she was or how she felt. She stood up for the things she believed in and the people she loved. She did not let the hateful, homophobic things people in her hometown said to her get under her skin because she knew there was nothing wrong with her.
Bottom line was that Nicole Haught was sure of herself and usually didn’t care what people thought of her.
Yet here she was, scared to go into the only saloon in town because the people in this town might not like her, might not come to accept her as one of their own.
Sighing, Nicole shook her head, trying to clear her mind and calm her nerves. Honestly this was ridiculous. She was a cop for crying out loud, people were going to dislike her on that fact alone, so why did it matter if not everyone here accepted her? And how in the hell was she supposed to protect them if she was busy worrying what they thought of her.
She knew why it mattered, deep down she knew. She knew deep down that if these people, this town did not accept her then she would have thrown away everything she had ever known for nothing. She would not just fail, she would be destroyed.
“I expect a full report on what you learned tomorrow morning,” Nedley called over his shoulder as he headed back to the station.
“Wait, what?” Nicole whipped around to look at him but he had already disappeared out of sight. She wasn’t sure if he had been serious but she should have expected some kind of paperwork to come out of this. She just couldn’t escape it.
Readjusting the stetson on top of her head and squaring her shoulders, she pushed the door open and stepped foot in the saloon.
The first thing she noticed was the smell of stale beer, body odor and overpowering cologne. She wrinkled her nose in disgust as she made her way to an empty stool at the bar. She resisted the urge to gag as she took a seat in between two extremely sweaty and smelly guys. Why couldn’t men shower before going out? Was it too much to ask?
The second thing she noticed was the loud chatter over the country music pouring from the updated jukebox in the far left hand corner of the room. The sound of billiard balls smacking against one another and loud drunken cheers as a ball sank into a pocket.
The third and possibly the most important thing Nicole noticed was the brunette beauty serving a pitcher of beer to a group of men just a few seats down. She watched the brunette laugh and smile at something one of the men said and she found herself smiling as well.
Nicole had never seen a more beautiful smile in all her life. She had never seen a smile light up a room quite like this woman’s smile did. She never wanted to be the cause of a smile as much as she did right now. The woman's smile made her heart pound in her chest, left her breathless, and she wasn’t even smiling at her.
It had been a long time since someone had left Nicole breathless with just a smile and last time it hadn’t ended well for her. She hadn’t come to Purgatory looking to fall in love again. Hell she was barely over the last woman that broke her heart.
She did not need to get hung up on someone else right now, or ever but, Nicole had one weakness in life and that was beautiful women with smiles that stole the breath from her lungs, made her heart beat rapidly in her chest, made her palms sweaty with nerves, smiles that excited her and scared her at the same time.
She usually didn’t just openly stare at women like this. She usually was a little more subtle, more discreet when checking a women out but there was just something about this brunette that threw all her tact out the window.
There was just something about the way she smiled so brightly and the way she bounced with every step that had Nicole finding it hard to look away. She was a goner and she didn’t even know a single thing about the brunette.
Someone clearing their throat in front of her brought Nicole’s attention from the brunette. Her cheeks coloring a light shade of red as her eyes meet the man's standing in front of her.
“What can I get you officer?” A slightly round man with short dirty blonde hair and a salt and pepper goatee asked.
“Uh, just a coke please,” she answered, taking her stetson off and placing it in front of her, fingers idly playing with the brim.
The man nodded and walked away to make the drink without another word.
Nicole’s eyes traveled back to the brunette, watching with rapid interest as she turned in Nicole's direction smiling widely and giving a small wave to a man two seats down from Nicole.
“Waverly Earp,” the bartender from before said as he placed her drink in front of her, following her gaze. “Purgatory’s favorite bartender and actual ray of sunshine.”
Nicole looked back over the brunette she now knew as Waverly. Ray of sunshine.
It seemed to be a fitting description judging by the her smile alone.
Nicole found herself wondering if her personality matched the brightness of her smile and the bounce in her step. Was her smile and her laugh just who she was when she was working? Nicole knew a lot of bartenders and waitress that acted like Waverly on the job but when they weren’t working, they were mean and sometimes down right hateful.
Reaching for the glass of coke sitting in front of her, Nicole picked it up bringing it to her lips, her eyes never leaving the brunette. She knew she should probably look away. She would likely freak Waverly out if she caught her staring but she couldn’t find the will to look away.
Waverly’s beauty, her smile, the soft sway of her hips as she moved from customer to customer, it was all so mesmerizing and Nicole did not want to miss one second of it.
After realizing that she had been holding her drink to her mouth without taking a sip of it, she gulps down half the glass. Instantly regretting the action as it burned its way down her throat.
The man in front of her laughed as she yanked the glass away from her mouth, staring at it as if it had offended her somehow.
“Nedley says to relax and have some fun.”
“How about a little warning next time?” Nicole choked looking up at the grinning man.
“I did say something,” he pointed out, leaning over the bar so only she could hear him, “But you were too busy leering at Waverly.”
“I was not leering,” Nicole nearly shouted in defence, a blush spreading across her cheeks and the tips of her ears when a few patrons looked her way. “I was simple admiring the view.”
“Admiring right,” he teased. “Whatever you say Officer.”
“So Nedley told you to supply me with liquor?” Nicole changed the subject, raising her spiked drink and taking a much smaller sip this time, grimacing as it burned her throat. Jack and coke was not her preferred drink of choice. She rather have a dry martini, definitely shaken not stirred.
“He told me to make sure you did what you were told.” He turned away from her and towards Waverly, who was serving beers to a few customers. “Hey kiddo, I gotta run out for a couple of minutes, get the Officer here another drink when you are done.”
“Sure thing Shorty,” Waverly gestured for him to go as she picked up a clean beer pitcher and moved to the beer taps.
“She’s real friendly, just talk to her,” Shorty said with a wink to Nicole then walked away, leaving her to watch Waverly and leaving Waverly to deal with the half drunk patrons.
Nicole’s heart starting beating faster in her chest when Waverly looked over at her and smiled, holding up a finger to let her know what she would be with her in a minute.
If Nicole thought her smile was beautiful before then when it was directed at her and only her, it was truly breathtaking.
Pulling down on the beer tap handle, beer shot out, soaking the front of Waverly’s white shirt.
“Ah, Jesus,” she yelped, slamming the handle back into place and reaching for a rag to cover her now see through shirt.
A man in a red flannel shirt reached across the bar, snatching the rag up before Waverly could grab ahold of it.
“Champ!” She yelled, face turning as bright as a tomato when the patrons crowded around the bar openly gawked at her chest, Nicole included. Some of the men whistled, while others shouted very lewd comments at her.
Nicole wasn’t proud of herself for just sitting there and staring as Waverly tried covering her chest with one arm but dammit, she couldn’t tear her eyes away and she hated herself for it.
The boy-man, Champ laughed along with his buddies, holding the rag just out of Waverly’s reach. “Come on baby, reach for it.”
“Champ give me the rag.” Waverly glared at him holding one hand out, tapping her foot impatiently. Trying not to look as embarrassed and desperate as she sounded. She wasn’t ashamed of her body, far from it. She knew she was beautiful, sexy even but that didn’t mean she wanted half of Shorty’s to see her breasts.
She may wear extremely short shorts at times and shirts were her breast are practically spilling out of the top but that was on her terms, that was her choice. This wasn’t. Champ had taken the choice away from her and a part of her hated him for it.
Waverly’s pleading tone pulled Nicole eye’s from her chest up to her face. Finally coming to her senses, Nicole downed the rest of her drink and stood, walking around the bar, shrugging her jacket off as she went.
“Waverly,” she called as she walked up behind the woman. Hoping the other woman wouldn’t find it weird that a stranger knew her name and came to her rescue.
Waverly turned at the sound of her name, eyes landing on the tall redheaded officer walking towards her, holding a jacket open to her. Relief washed over her. At least someone in here had a heart and some decency to help her.
Waverly practically jumped into in officer’s arms, allowing her to wrap the jacket around her and lead her out from behind the bar and to a room marked ‘Employees only’.
“Thank you Officer...” Waverly whispered once the door was shut behind them, giving a wave of her hand, indicating for the officer’s name.
“Haught, Nicole Haught,” she introduced herself, watching as Waverly clenched the jacket tightly to her chest, face still a bright red. She touched the other woman's forearm gently, allowing her thumb to rub soft circles on Waverly’s soft skin. “You okay?”
“Yeah, uh just a little embarrassed,” Waverly nodded, looking from the hand on her arm up to concerned eyes. Warmth radiated from where Nicole’s thumb made soft, slow circles on her skin like a slow spreading fire that made her feel alive. A warmth she hadn’t felt from another person’s touch in a long time. A warmth she used to feel every time Champ touched her or smiled at her.
Waverly was even more beautiful up close and Nicole was finding it hard to breath properly. Her chocolate brown eyes sparkled with hints of gold that Nicole could easily get lost in. Her voice, God her voice, as cliched as it was, her voice was like music to Nicole’s ears. A sound she could listen to for hours on end and never get tired of.
“Are you sure?” Nicole asked softly, eyes never leaving Waverly’s as she dropped her hand as to not make her uncomfortable.
Waverly instantly missed the warmth from her touch and tried to think of ways to get the woman’s hand on her again, to feel that warmth again, to feel alive again. She tried to shake the thoughts from her head. She had a boyfriend, she shouldn’t want anyone else’s hands on her but his. She shouldn’t want anyone but him to make her feel alive.
With a nod Waverly headed up the stairs to their right, leaving Nicole trying to decide if she should follow or not.
She wanted to. There was just something about this woman’s presence that Nicole found herself drawn to. She wanted to be around her, make her smile and laugh. She wanted to protect her from D-bags like that guy Champ.
“Uh, Officer,” Waverly called. “I’m um stuck.”
Nicole rushed up the stairs to help. She wasn’t exactly sure what position she was going to find Waverly in but it definitely wasn’t her with her shirt halfway over her head and chest exposed.
“Let me help you,” Nicole walked closer, unable to keep from grinning and trying to keep from looking at Waverly’s bra clad breast. “I got you.”
Nicole grasped the part of the shirt hooked over Waverly’s elbow, fingers brushing smooth skin causing both women to inhale sharply. Working on calming her rapidly beating heart, Nicole untangled Waverly from her shirt and pulled it over her head the rest of the way, dropping it on the floor next to her jacket.
Her eyes instinctively darted down to the smooth skin now exposed to her and she resist the urge to reach out and run her fingers along Waverly’s collarbone.
“Oh, God good thing you’re not some guy right, or this would be really, really awkward..” Waverly’s voice trailed off as Nicole tilted her chin down, looking at her through her eyelashes, smiling so wide that Waverly noticed the dimples on her cheeks.
She was breathtaking. That smile and those dimples were gorgeous and Waverly found herself smiling back. “I owe you one.”
“Alright, well how ‘bout you buy me a cup of coffee? How ‘bout tomorrow afternoon?” She asked, tilting her head to the side and giving Waverly her best flirtatious smile. One she knew for a fact made men and women alike fall all over themselves for her.
She wasn’t entirely sure if she was asking Waverly out on a date or out as friends. She just knew that she wanted to spend more time with this woman and she would do whatever she had to to be able to.
“Oh I can’t.” Waverly rushed out.
“No?” Nicole’s smile fell slightly and she looked down at her feet suddenly nervous. Rejection wasn’t new to her but it still stung especially coming from Waverly.
“I mean I love to but...like, like to uh, but I have plans yeah I’m a planner,” Waverly rambled on as the redhead licked her lips and nodded. “I like to know what I’m doing two or three days in advance.”
“I’m in a relationship, with a boy, man,” she rushed out, not entirely sure why. Maybe it was the way Nicole was looking at her, brown eyes shining and wide smile.
“A boy-man?” Nicole gave a breathy laugh, nodding her head and stepping back. “Yup, I’ve been there, it’s the worst, maybe some other time then.”
Leaning down to pick up her jacket, she gave a slight shrug, confident grin back in place as she pulled her card out of one of the pocket. She hands the card to the shorter woman, letting their fingertips brush.
“I mean it.” With that Nicole walked down the stairs and back into the crowded saloon.
“Officer Haught,” Waverly whispered to herself, staring down at the card in her hand. It was a fitting name. She had never seen anyone make Purgatory’s police uniforms look so good before. Hell she never found another woman attractive before and that thought alone scared her.
What scared her even more was that she wanted to loosen Officer Haught’s red hair from its braid, run her fingers through it and pull her down until their lips met in a kiss. A kiss that she knew that she would feel throughout her entire body.
She knew she should feel guilty about thinking of wanting to kiss someone other than Champ but she didn't. She wasn't stupid she knew the things Champ did with other women behind her back and it may not hurt as much as it did the first time she found out but it still hurt none the less and she refused to hurt Champ in that same way.
Besides they were only thoughts, it's not like she was going to go out and actually kiss the redhead. So it was okay right? As long as she didn't act on them?