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Nicole tumbles out of the car, sack of lunch in hand.  Her parents seem to linger in the front seat, little brother in the back still strapped in his car seat.  She hesitates when she reaches the grass and glances at her parents over her shoulder.  Her dad gives her a small smile and an encouraging nod.

She proceeds with caution.  The park is relatively empty and extremely unfamiliar.  She's never been here before.  They are moving, again.  She hates moving.  She hates the way she has to make new friends and learn things she already knows in school.  She hates the way the food tastes slightly different and none of the restaurants are the same.  But, what she hates the most, is that they never stay long.

The world surrounding her is gray.  Her shoes are black, pants are a lighter shade of black, but her shirt is white.  The world is simple, but at least her clothes are soft.

She's nearly to the picnic table when she glances to her left and spots a little girl sitting on a bench.  The girl's hair is long; a color she's never seen before.  In fact, everything is suddenly a color she's never seen before.  She doesn't know what any of it means, but she feels a tug inside of her that draws her to the girl.  She's crying, silently, but Nicole can tell by the heave of her shoulders.

Nicole approaches her quietly, sack of lunch still clasped in her fingers.  She looks down, notices that her shoes are no longer a black and her pants are no longer a lighter shade of black, and her shirt isn't really white.  In fact, she is vibrant and saturated.  She blinks rapidly, eyes drinking in the scenery.  So many different colors and shades.  She has no understanding for it.  

She swallows thickly and sits on the bench beside the crying little girl.  Her heart aches for the girl.  The girl has a beautiful color dress on, long and flowing around her ankles where a pair of non-black shoes grace her feet.

"Are you okay?" She stutters.  

She takes a quick look around the park, searching for anyone this girl may belong to, but she doesn't find anyone.  She only sees her parents, leaning against the hood of their car as her little brother stretches his legs.  She looks back at the crying girl, her lips tight together as she tries to find her voice once more.

"I'm sorry you're sad," she mutters, softly.  

The little girl doesn't look up at her voice.  She hears her parents call her name in the distance.  She sighs heavily.  She opens her paper sack, reaching deep into it and pulling her sandwich out.  Peanut butter.  She pulls the triangles apart and sets one half down on the bench atop the cellophane.  Briefly, she reaches and touches the little girl's elbow in an attempt to comfort her.

Nicole offers the little girl a smile that she doesn't see before hopping off of the bench and running back to their car.

-

Nicole examines her uniform.  An ugly pair of khaki pants and a blue button up.  Whoever chose this uniform obviously can't see in color.  Of course, the disdain for her uniform would be in vain seeing as it's standard issue for the entire department.  To top it off, she has to wear a ridiculous hat that she really doesn't think she has the head for.  Having to wake up an extra half hour just to put her hair into a French braid for work is almost enough of a reason to chop her hair off.  At the moment, she's mildly attached to it since it's the only thing in her life that hasn't changed yet.

Deciding to move to a small town was a big one.  She knows very little about small towns other than everybody knows everybody else, and that is can get quite complicated from there.  She heard rumors while she was at the academy from other officers in training about their small towns.  Being from a much larger city, Nicole hardly ran into any issues of familiar faces knowing everyone she sees.  Well, that, and the fact that she moved a lot.

Taking the job in Purgatory was a commitment, a big one, even more so than that one drunken fling she had in Vegas that put a permanent stamp on her record.  Accepting a position as deputy straight out of the academy has been huge.  Her classmates hadn't understood how she managed to get an offer so quickly, especially one with such high ranking.  When Sheriff Nedley had pitched her the offer, it had sounded...stable.  She has always wanted a stable life, some place to permanently call home.

She packs on her atrocious uniform with hopes that one day she will grow to love it.  Checking herself over in the mirror one last time before she heads out of the door, she makes sure to grab her Purgatory Police Department issued jacket to protect her from the chill outside.  The north is so much colder than she's used to, and she can definitely feel the ache in her bones already.

She steps outside of her house and onto her front porch, the worn wood in dire need of a little t-l-c, and makes a note to spend a little time at the hardware store examining wood finishes.  Owning a home is just another thing on her list of firsts, but learning to do a little renovation around a home was going to be a major headache.  Most of her experience is more connected to hotel and apartments.  She's hardly even done her own handy work before.

She makes sure the front door is locked before making her way out to her car.  She should invest in a truck to do all of this hauling in it she really plans on learning how to renovate.  She's had a lot of years with her Honda, but it certainly makes for a half assed partner at things like moving massive amounts of materials.

The drive into town is rather quick, painless.  She had over prepared for her new routine and gave herself about a half hour of wiggle room to arrive at the station.  She doesn't want to appear too eager, so she pulls her Honda into a parking spot in front of a small coffee shop just a few blocks from the station.

This town doesn't have very many restaurant chains.  A McDonald's, yes, but a Starbucks, no.  She leaves her issued hat in the car and makes her way into the coffee shop, pulling the collar of her jacket tighter around her neck.  She pulls the door open and hears a bell signal from up above.  She casts a glance upwards, just to be sure her senses aren't betraying her already, and edges further into the shop.

She takes a quick look around the shop.  It's welcoming and warm, light and dark colors complimenting each other with such ease.  The customary tables are scattered throughout the room but there's a clear path to the counter.  There are a lot of coffee related decor hanging on the walls.

She hears muffled voices in the corner at a table where two older women sit.  She can almost swear they say her name like she's a familiar figure in their town despite only being there for two weeks.  She smiles politely when she looks eyes with the barista behind the counter, a cheery young man offering her a polite smile in return.  She pushes her palms against the counter and lightly leans against it as she looks over the menu.

"What can I get for you, Officer Haught?" He asks.  The use of her name takes her off guard, not sure how he knows who she is.  She gives him a look, narrowed gaze and tightened jaw.  His smile remains, but his eyes turn slightly apologetic.  "Sorry, we just don't get a lot - any - female police around here.  You're kind of a big deal in this small town."

"I am?" She hears herself say, but her voice sounds for away.  She hears her name a little louder from the corner and she can't help looking directly at them, turning her entire body to face the two women.

"Don't worry," the man says, reassuringly, "It's only good things."

-

Waverly Earp has a strong name and a hell of a strong bloodline, but her family has the bad reputation.  Not her.  She is easily viewed as kind and thoughtful and enjoyable.  A generous counterpart to the exterior that her sisters put off.  Her sisters, both of them, can be very unforgiving forces of nature, and extremely difficult to compete with.

Willa had, to say the least, tortured her in a way that left more psychological damage than the physical kind.  Of course, Willa's behavior had been, well, weakly offset by Wynonna's efforts to make sure Waverly had always felt mildly welcome.  Wynonna could only do so much on her own.

It was when Waverly was 11 and Willa moved off to college that she realized she was going to lose her anchor very soon.  Wynonna had been a bit of a whirlwind.  She was hot headed, unabashed and braver than any person Waverly had ever met, but Wynonna was terrifying.  Wynonna had been so displaced after their dad died, rebelled against everything she could.

It was no surprise to Waverly when Wynonna left at 18 and only returned when she needed, well, money.  Wynonna had called often - more than Willa and probably more than was necessary - until Waverly got into high school.  The calls dwindled down from every other day to once a week to once a month.  Waverly had reasoned that it's because she was busy with various school activities.  She had been partially right.

She hadn't heard from Wynonna in nearly a year, but here she is, staring her sister down with such a shock that Waverly feels like she's seeing a ghost.  Wynonna, on the other hand, looks like she's already 3 sheets to the wind despite it not even being 11 in the morning.  Despite her disappointment, Waverly steps forward and wraps her sister into a hug, holding her tightly with all of her might.  She slowly feels Wynonna wrap her arms around her back and hug her in return.

"You look like you've seen a ghost, baby girl," Wynonna hums.  Waverly notes the shaky tone to Wynonna's voice and thinks for just a brief moment that she feels a tear drop onto her shoulder and absorb into her shirt.  Maybe she's only dreaming because the Wynonna she knows would never cry over such silly things.

"Maybe I did," Waverly whispers.  Wynonna releases her first and steps back, out of Waverly's arms.  Waverly still feels the shock course through her.  Her hands stay on her older sister's arms as she gives her a once over.  Suddenly, her shock is replaced with anger, annoyance, and she slaps Wynonna's upper arm.  Hard.  "Where the hell have you been?"

"Here and there," Wynonna replies with a flippant shrug.  Waverly scowls then at how her sister can be so selfish.  She had always known Wynonna had more to escape from than her.  She remembers everything while Waverly hardly remembers anything.  Willa hadn't made matters any easier in the long run, but it was Wynonna who really shouldered everything.  "No worries, baby girl.  I'm still in one piece."

"Surprisingly," Waverly says.  She immediately covers her mouth, embarrassed by even uttering such a rude thing.  Wynonna mouths a wide 'wow' that resonates in her core.  "I'm sorry!  I just haven't heard from you in so long.  I don't think that what I'm seeing is real."

"In the flesh," Wynonna says, gesturing to herself with a thumb.  Waverly's vision begins to blur and she realizes her eyes are filling with tears.  She sighs and shakes her head, attempting to blink away her unshed tears.  "Are you gonna cry, baby girl?"

"You're a jerk," Waverly says, "I missed you."

"Yeah, yeah," Wynonna muttered, "Are you gonna let me in or not?"

"Ugh, yes," Waverly replies, stepping back and allowing her sister in the front door.  She doesn't mean to be so rude, especially to someone that she loves so much, she's just really taken aback.  She's becoming even more agitated at the unexpected arrival because she's supposed to be at work in half an hour.  "I have to work."

"Listen," Wynonna starts.  Waverly shuts the door and follows Wynonna as she makes her way into Gus' house, taking a look around like she's an inspector.  Wynonna stops suddenly just inside of the living room, and turns to face Waverly.  "I met a guy-"

"Oh my god," Waverly interrupts her before she can say anything else, a squee almost falling out of her mouth.  Thankfully, it catches in her throat, causing her words to strain.  The thing about Wynonna is that she's never much cared about finding her soul mate, and Waverly has always wondered just how someone could be so resolute with never seeing the beauty in the world.  "Like, the guy?"

"What?" Wynonna's face contorts almost into disgust, nose scrunching as her head slightly tilts.  She sighs and Waverly can see her shoulders loosen as she relents just a tad.  "Sort of.  It's complicated."

"Complicated?"

"We're gonna make beer," Wynonna says, "Like, a line of beer out at the homestead.  The barn just needs a few updates, but we have the land for it.  You in?"

"Wynonna, that's insane," Waverly says.  She nearly loses her train of thought, her sense of time, but the clock chimes to indicate the new hour upon them.  She huffs out.  "I'll think about it.  I need to go.  I have to get to work."

"Where you workin' now, baby girl?"

"Shorty's," Waverly answers.  She would tell her to stop by, but she already knows she'll be seeing Wynonna there later.  She steps back and reaches for her purse.  "Try not to destroy anything of Gus', please.  She'll kill us both."

-

Nicole has spent 3 days, 3 entirely full 10-hour work days, filling out paperwork and going over every case that has crossed into the department in the last 25 years.  This was not her idea, but she can’t actually say that it isn’t a good idea.  Especially in a small town like this.  Her desk is littered with notes as she cross references arrest after arrest after arrest, usually regarding the same 9 or 10 names.  One name is incredibly popular, although all of the paperwork suggests that the person has been on their best behavior for the last 3 years.

She doesn’t have a particularly familiar history with the town.  Nor has she heard much gossip over the last few days.  Ironically, given that nearly everyone in town seems to have her name coming out of their mouth. 

She glances at the clock, having lost her watch somewhere in the move, and shifts in her uncomfortable uniform.  The material is still stiff, not yet worn in, and she’s been daring herself to just let it tumble in the dryer for a few rounds before she has to wear it again.  The hideous coloring is driving her crazy, something that perhaps not everyone has to deal with.  She has an infinity for colors, always has.  Even before she could actually differentiate the colors, could name them well enough that she got put into special classes because she could actually see in color, she had a way with them. 

Nicole honestly feels sorry for anyone who has maybe spent their entire lives in this town without their soul mate existing here.  She thinks the privilege of colors is the most magnificent gift that she could ever be given but, hell, if she doesn’t live every day terrified that at any given moment she could lose them.  The truth is, she doesn’t know who her soul mate is.  She met the girl when they were both so young that she didn’t understand what any of it meant.  She didn’t even get the girl’s name. 

So, she spends her breaks when she’s not reading over countless files getting to know the crimes of the town’s people, memorizing every color around her.  She takes note of the color of the wood in the station, the pristine blues of the sky, the ugly stain of blood on the concrete outside of the famous bar where Wyatt Earp drank, and even appreciates the hideous mixtures of amazing colors of her police uniform. 

She’s about to close another file, halfway through the year 2001, when she hears Sheriff Nedley clear his throat from the doorway of his office.  She looks up from her desk, taking a swift look around the room only to notice that she’s the only one here.  She looks over at him and smiles her most polite smile.  His mustache wiggles, but his mouth doesn’t return the gesture. 

“Can I speak to you for a few minutes?” 

“Of course, Sheriff,” she replies.  She immediately pushes herself to her feet and crosses the room into his office.  He gestures to one of the chairs on the opposite side of his desk to which she immediately sits.  “Is everything alright?” 

“How are you getting settled in, Haught?” He asks, ignoring her question. 

“Fine,” she says, a little hurriedly, “It’s good.  Thank you, by the way, for getting me the number for that real estate agent.” 

“Are you meeting anyone?” He replies.  He nods slowly, politely, not quite telling her ‘you’re welcome’ but feeding her with the sentiment nonetheless.  “Making any friends?”

“Not yet,” she admits.  She settles her hands into her lap and leans forward in the chair.  She doesn’t look directly at him this time, feeling a little too nervous to admit that the rest of the town seems to already have made their own judgments about her.  “I’ve been busy unpacking.” 

“Well, don’t hesitate to re-familiarize yourself with the people of this town beyond the crimes they’ve committed.  A lot of these people are good people, Haught, and they deserve a chance.”

“Of course,” Nicole replies.  She sits up straighter as his eyes hone in on her.  She feels her blood roll through her veins like it’s looking for a place to hide.  She feels really put on the spot, not quite able to miss his specific word choice.  “It’s on my list of things to do.” 

“Good,” he says with a small smile finally gracing his lips, “Swing by Shorty’s for a drink, introduce yourself to that bartender Waverly Earp.  She’ll make sure you get the warm, Purgatory welcome that you deserve.” 

“Noted, Sir,” Nicole says.

-

Waverly is used to the fast paced movement of being a bartender at nearly the only place in the entire town to grab a drink after work.  She knows everyone.  She had known everyone before she even started working the job.  She's quite popular.  It's exhausting at times, dealing with the pressures of being a model person.  Sometimes, she just wants to take a moment to scream bloody murder at people being impolite.

There's one thing she believes wholeheartedly in: human decency is simple.

She's always had a bit more of a difficult time dealing with the whole soul mate thing.  The people around her have mostly refused to talk about it.  She doesn't really know the consequences of being with someone other than your soul mate.  The closest she's ever gotten is one conversation with Gus right after Curtis' funeral.  When he'd died in that car wreck no one had been prepared.  Discussing soul mates had been hard for Gus after that.  Waverly had only been 13.

She's been kept in the dark her own life about some of the basic facts of society regarding this ordeal.  All she knows for sure is that some people never get the chance to see in color, that most people don't get to see in color for nearly their entire lives.  She had been forced to do her own research, which hadn't been too terrible because she loves research, but she still has questions.

Her situation has been, unique.  She doesn't understand the rules of her situation, of the fact that she's been seeing in color for as long as she can remember.  And she's thought a lot about how complicated her family's history with their soul mates have been, how Wynonna had told her just a few days ago that it was complicated about the soul mate without having elaborated on it yet; she's come to the conclusion that it's some kind of curse.

She stares at the homestead, untouched and unlived in for too many years.  She hasn't even been out to see it since Wynonna was last in town for her graduation 3 years ago.  It's so far out of town, out of the way from the town life she actually enjoys.  But Gus has been wanting to explore the world, which she could do easier without having to worry about Waverly.

She thinks that despite every fiber in her being telling her this is a bad idea, she's going to tell Wynonna that she'll do it.  She has a few ideas about what to do with the homestead, with the barn, with this beer label Wynonna had proposed to her.  She wonders where why're going to get the money, but she supposes that's a worry for another day.  She's been saving long enough to get by for at least a few months, and if she keeps working at the bar until this beer thing gets off of the ground then they'll be fine.

Just then, her phone rings from the passenger seat, taking her thoughts away from this very important decision.

-

"Excuse me," Waverly calls into the police station, voice incredibly loud.

She takes a quick look around the room and leans against the counter, looking for an available officer to assist her in, well, retrieving her very, not surprisingly, drunk sister.  Wynonna has been back in town for all of 2 minutes and is already finding herself in old, familiar places.  Waverly sighs from lack of response and leans her elbows on the counter, quickly placing her forearms onto the wood and spreading her arms across to the other side to pull herself up and get a polite view further into the offices.  Not that she hasn't seen this place more than enough, more than because her sister has found herself locked up for a minute or two more times than Waverly can count.

She clears her throat and says, "Is there anybody here?"

She's ready to step behind the counter and help herself to the keys.  Chrissy had showed her years ago where the Sheriff kept his spare.  They were seniors and the only ones not completely wasted after the homecoming dance.  She moves to step around the counter when a tall, pretty, red headed woman in a department uniform rounds the corner.  Surprise slowly registers on the woman's face as her eyes lock with Waverly's

"Hi," Waverly hums, her brightest smile tugging her lips widely across her face.

"Hi," the questionably astute police officer breathes; Waverly watches in awe as the woman collects herself, surely she had only been caught off guard by her presence, "Can I help you?"

"I'm Waverly Earp," she replies, "You called about my sister."

"Oh, right," the woman replies.  Waverly watches with an intent gaze as the woman flails around at a desk a few feet away.  The woman's sleeves are rolled up to her elbows and her hair is pulled back into a very prestige braid.  This woman looks well put together, but has suddenly seemed to lose a grip on herself.  The woman finally stands upright with a file in her hand, holding it up into the air.  She says, "Got it!"

Waverly's breath catches in her throat for a millisecond as the woman smiles generously, cheeks dipping and dimples peeking out.  She's never seen such a nice, warm smile before.  Granted, she knows everyone in town.  This woman, however, she does not know.

"I'm sorry," Waverly suddenly says as the woman gets much closer to the counter, "I don't mean to be rude, but who are you?"

"Oh, Nicole Haught," the woman replies, extending her hand before she's even to the counter, "I just moved here.  Recruited by Sheriff Nedley himself."

"On behalf of the welcoming committee," Waverly replies, smile quickly covering up her confusion, "Greetings."

Nicole's laughs, softly, but genuinely.  Waverly slips her hand into Nicole's and the warm hand wraps hers firmly.  Her gaze flits to their hands, eyes searching for some kind of understanding of how in the hell she could be so...anxious.  The handshake lasts for an extended amount of time, the grasp of the newcomer undoubtedly a comfort on her jittery nerves.  She doesn't even know why she's so suddenly nervous at the sight of that bright, contagious smile.

"There's a welcoming committee?"  Nicole suddenly asks.  Nicole's grasp loosens but gently squeezes Waverly's fingertips, like she's reluctant to let go.

"Well," Waverly exaggerates, "No. I just made that up but, if we did have one, I would definitely volunteer to be on it."

"Waverly Earp," Nicole says suddenly, like she's testing Waverly's name out.  It sounds like a song.  Waverly shivers, but is brought back to the matter when Nicole sets the file down on the counter with a careless slap.  "Welcoming committee leader.  You know, that's good.  I think we should institute that."

"We don't get a lot of new people around here," Waverly replies.  She lifts her gaze back to Nicole who is still smiling, still attentive in whatever might fall out of her mouth next.  It's an odd feeling, someone willing to listen to her.  She realizes then that she has to choose her next words wisely.  "It would be an ill-prepared for job. Everybody already knows everybody around here."

"I don't know anybody," Nicole corrects, "Well, other than the people around the station.  And, full disclosure, they aren't the easiest to get to know."

"I know people," Waverly replies with a tad bit too much enthusiasm for her own liking, "I'll introduce you.  You're in safe company with me.  I'm well liked."

"You just might be the nicest person in Purgatory," Nicole says, face shifting into one of...awe, perhaps?

"I am," Waverly assures, "I have a sash to prove it."

"That's...something," Nicole says with a laugh.  Finally, Nicole looks down and away.  Her smile fades quickly as Waverly sees that Nicole's eyes have settled on the file on top of the counter.  They look up at the same time.  Nicole says, "So, I found your sister trying to straddle a mailbox outside of the McDonald's, was interrupting the drive thru and making a lot of people unhappy.  She was passed out by the time we got back to the station and I had to carry her in.  I'm supposed to write her a ticket, a big one, but I'm going to give her a warning this time."

"Where is she?"

"On the couch in the Sheriff’s office," Nicole answers.  She smiles but this time Waverly doesn't see the smile touch her eyes.  She watches as Nicole opens the file and pulls out the report, quickly ripping it in half.  "I can help her to your vehicle, but you might want to get someone to help you when you get home.  She's dead weight."

"Not my first rodeo," Waverly mutters.  She hears herself, hears how rude it comes across, and widens her eyes in a panic.  She shakes her hand quickly and adds, "I've just, I've carried her into the house and put her to bed more times than I can count.  She's a bit of a rebel."

"Advise the rebel that I let her off this time, but that her sister might not be able to pull any favors for her the next time," Nicole says.  Waverly blinks and thinks that she catches the tail end of a wink but she could be wrong.  She definitely doesn't want to assume that the smile on Nicole's face is anything other than politeness.  Nicole quietly clears her throat as she gives Waverly a rather serious look.  She adds, maybe a bit nervous yet confident at the same time, "I don't mean to take advantage of your hospitality but, maybe we could get a coffee some time?"

The wind is knocked out of her for some abrupt reason at the suggestion.  She would love, like, to make the newcomer feel welcome, but there's something so familiar about Nicole that makes her insides twist.  Waverly taps absently at the counter, her face contorting with such ease that she almost doesn't even realize her face might betray her anxiety.  She feels absolutely beside herself at the realization that all it has taken is one pretty girl to sway her equilibrium.  She doesn't even know if she's still standing straight up anymore.

"Sure," she finally says, voice small.  Nicole seems dissatisfied with her answer because her eyebrows furrow.  Waverly jumps to maintain the moment.  She says, "I just mean, I'm busy tonight.  With Wynonna.  And tomorrow night I'm working.  At Shorty's.  Where I work.  And I need at least two to three days to prepare for-"

"Waverly," Nicole interjects.  Waverly suddenly feels a gentle hand on her arm, fingers splayed easily across her forearm and the pads of Nicole's fingertips press into the crevice of her elbow.  She looks down at Nicole's hand, nearly trembling as Nicole's thumb wraps around the muscle.  Her touch is so confident and unwavering.  She expels a breath and looks back at Nicole's brown eyes.  They're so warm.  Everything about this woman is warm.  "It's just coffee between friends."

"Friends," Waverly echoes, "Right."

"Now, let's get your sister home," Nicole says. 

She feels Nicole give her arm a squeeze before releasing her grasp.  Nicole's fingertips slide down to her wrist then her touch is suddenly gone.  Nicole gestures to follow her to Nedley's office.  Her feet barely move when she tells them to, but finally she follows, heels of her boots echoing against the tiles.

Chapter Text

Nicole slows her vehicle to a stop at the stoplight, tapping on the steering wheel as she waits for it to turn from red to green.  She waits and waits and waits, but stills her movements at the sight of an older woman beginning to cross the street.  She seems to be waning with her balance, hands too full for her to use her cane to walk.

 

She quickly pulls on the gear shift of her vehicle as she peeks at the rear view mirror to make sure no one is behind her.  She pulls the car into reverse and presses the vehicle into a parking spot against the curb.  Turning off her vehicle, she pushes the door open and climbs out.

 

She rushes to the older woman and scoops for a few of her bags, "Let me help you, ma'am."

 

"Oh my, thank you," the woman hums.  The woman gives Nicole a once over, taking in her attire and realizing that she belongs to the police department.  The woman's eyes widen, a grin sliding across her mouth as she leans more against her cane.  "You're so kind."

 

"My pleasure, ma'am," Nicole replies.

 

She follows slowly behind the woman, careful not to rush her.  The woman goes to a car across the street.  The woman struggles to get her keys out of her purse, accidentally dropping them onto the wet asphalt.  Nicole quickly squats to the ground, setting the bags on the ground and grabs her keys.  She hands them over to the older woman.

 

"Officer Haught," the woman says, looking sharply at Nicole's name badge, "You wouldn't be Nicole, would you?"

 

She stutters for a moment as the woman gives her an inquisitive look.  She doesn't know what is going on around here, if she's the subject of town gossip or what.  She hasn't a clue where her name would have originated, but she suspects it's the Sheriff.  She only hopes he's at least bragging about her.

 

"The new recruit," Nicole confirms.  The woman's smile splits a bit as she lightly shakes her head.  The response is rather confusing for Nicole.

 

"You're lovely," the woman says, "Reminds me of that Waverly Earp."

 

The woman's smile doesn't wane as she turns to unlock her car and wordlessly allows Nicole to help her store the groceries into the back seat.  Nicole, however, is left reeling that this woman is not the first person to mention that name.  She has heard it multiple times now.  And, every time, Nicole is left with the impression that everyone is in on something that she isn't.

 

She just wants to get to the bottom of it.

 

She's only met the woman 1 time and, as lovely as she was, it was all good and well when it was only Nedley who had suggested she get to know Waverly.  But now it was many of the town's people applying the pressure.  Nicole had half a mind to believe she was being duped by them all, like she was on the brunt end of a sick joke.

 

But despite herself, she had felt drawn to Waverly in a way that even if she was being mocked by the rest of the town she wouldn't be able to protect herself from it.  There was something about Waverly Earp that really caught her interests.  She had reassured Waverly that their coffee, scheduled promptly for tomorrow on her first day off, was just between friends.

 

Besides, in a world like this, personal attachment and feelings were irrelevant.  She's already met the person she's supposed to end up with, the person she is supposed to spend the rest of her life caring for.  Love is merely a concept she won't be afforded.  And she would not drag Waverly into this complex situation with her.

 

Nicole dated casually in the big city but, in a small town like this, that was most likely never going to be an option for her.  She could always use a friend though.

 

-

 

Nicole is, well, not nervous per se, but she's nervous.  Waverly Earp had been a name suddenly mentioned to her by several different people, almost like everyone in the town knew something that she didn't.  The sheer mentioning of Waverly's name repeatedly had almost made her cancel even meeting up with Waverly.

 

She feels like an absolute nervous wreck as she taps out incoherent Morse code on the table top, the coffee shop already bustling with patrons.  They had agreed to meet up at 9am and the time on her phone is sporting a very unforgiving 9:04.  Maybe Waverly has decided to do them both a favor and just not show up, maybe she'd heard all of the talk around town, people pushing them to hang out.  It was creepy.

 

The clock switches impatiently to 9:05 and a huff accidentally slips out of Nicole's mouth.  She fiddles with the sleeve of her maroon sweater, tugging it all of the way down to her wrist until it touches the beginning of her palm.  She's been sitting here, waiting long enough, that she's beginning to question her entire attire.

 

She grumbles a little as she gives herself a once over and stands up.  She grabs her jacket off of the back of her chair and quickly steps forward, not even bothering to look up.  She slams right into something, a gasp escaping her as she looks up.  She lifts her hands quickly to still the person she's ran directly into, fingers desperately pressing into the person's sides to keep them from toppling over.

 

"Shit, Waverly," Nicole says, breathless.  She doesn't know if she forgot how to breathe from the impact or from the sight of the woman in front of her.  Waverly is a vision, absolutely stunning in her pink, low cut top.  Which Nicole now realizes she's been staring straight down.  She swallows and says, "I'm so sorry.  I didn't see you.  Are you okay?"

 

"Were you leaving?" Waverly asks, equally taken aback.  Nicole suddenly realizes that Waverly is braced against her, hands on her clavicle bones.  Waverly's nimble fingers slide down her front only coming to a stop at her stomach, palms relieving the pressure as her fingertips linger.  "I know I'm late.  Wynonna needed me to drop her off somewhere and wouldn't stop chattering long enough to get out of the car."

 

Waverly laughs, the noise sounding a bit nervous.

 

"No," Nicole lies, "I was just going to, um..."

 

She trails off slowly, realizing that her hands are still on Waverly's waist and half of the people in the room are staring at them.  She breathes in deep and releases her hold on the beautiful sight before her.  She'd felt Waverly's skin beneath the hem of her pink top, the warmth of Waverly's skin almost more than her brain could compute.  Her mouth is suddenly dry, and Waverly's light blue jeans tightly hugging her legs certainly aren't helping any.

 

"You were totally bailing," Waverly accuses.  Waverly's fingertips retract from her stomach and the lack of contact is almost something she hadn't mentally prepared for.  Since when has it been so abnormal to fail to process someone is no longer touching her?

 

"Okay, I was leaving," Nicole admits, voice immediately going an octave higher as she prepares her defense, "But I thought you stood me up."

 

"I wouldn't," Waverly says, chin dropping low.  She looks up at Nicole through her eyelashes and Nicole really doesn't know how to register a look like that.  Nicole smiles softly.  "Nicest person in Purgatory, remember?"

 

Nicole nods at the reminder.  She takes a half step back and replaces her jacket onto the back of the chair she had previously been sitting in.  She sees Waverly shimmy her jacket off out of the corner of her eye and the jiggling movement is distracting.  She wonders if Waverly realizes that she's attractive, if she knows just exactly what kind of feelings she could invoke in a person.

 

Nicole stands upright again, feeling a startling amount of eyes on her.  She looks around the room and notices that people are still staring.  She squirms a little, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as Waverly places her jacket on the back of the chair she's standing beside.  Waverly turns on her heel and steps towards the counter.  Nicole follows her, her hand drawn to the woman beside her as her fingers press into Waverly's spine.

 

"Waverly," Nicole says quietly, leaning towards her.  Waverly is just short enough that Nicole has to bend at the knees just a little if she wants to be quiet yet loud enough for Waverly to hear her.  She swallows and says, "Can I ask you something?"

 

"Anything," Waverly says.

 

"Is there something going on here?" She asks.  She's extremely confused by the amount of people watching her intently.  She feels like a caged animal.

 

"What?" Waverly looks over at her then, nose incredibly close to Nicole's, but Nicole can see the deep furrow of Waverly's eyebrows.  Waverly studies her for a moment, and Nicole can see the unasked question in her green eyes.  The tint of green is breathtaking, almost like nothing else that she’s never seen before.  And she practically lived at the beach for a month straight.

 

"People are staring," Nicole points out, "They're whispering."

 

"Whispering?" Waverly repeats, the same needling look in her dilated pupils.  Waverly looks like she got caught red handed, a slight blush creeping up Waverly’s neck.

 

"They've been whispering about me for days," she replies, "Like they know something about me even I don't know."

 

"You're just new," Waverly says.  Nicole watches as Waverly's shoulders drop, like she's relieved.  Nicole doesn't know why, but she isn't very comforted by that.  "You're like an enigma, or a unicorn."

 

"A unicorn?" Nicole asks.  She drifts off for a moment as they step into the too long for just after 9am line so she can take another look around.  They're still watching her.  Surely someone somewhere in this coffee shop is taking notes.  "Waverly, every person I meet tells me that I should befriend you."

 

Waverly looks up at her then like she's mildly hurt about this revelation.  Nicole can tell she looks a little disappointed hearing this.  She doesn't want to make this lovely person feel bad by any means.  In fact, she feels like if no one had ever mentioned Waverly's name to her it would have only been a matter of time before she was drawn to Waverly anyway.

 

"I'm sorry," Nicole says before Waverly can say anything else, "That didn't come out the way I meant for it to."

 

"How did you mean it?" Waverly inquires.  Her tone lacks disdain.

 

"I just," Nicole hesitates, pondering just how honest she should be, "It made me nervous to meet you here."

 

"Awe," Waverly teases.  She feels Waverly's elbow jab her in her ribs.  She can barely feel it as she memorizes that cheeky, bright smile on Waverly's face.  "You were nervous about little ole me?"

 

"You're a little intimidating," Nicole says, "You have quite the reputation."

 

Waverly laughs at that.  No, not laughs.  She almost bellows.  The sound is heartwarming and beautiful.  Nicole would almost do anything to hear it again.  She never even knew a sound like that existed in the world.

 

"I told you, Nicole, I'm well liked," Waverly explains, "They probably just think I'll give you the best Purgatory welcome.  Welcoming committee leader."

 

Nicole’s gaze travels to Waverly’s hand where her hand is balled into a fist and she gestures to herself with a thumb.  Nicole’s eyes shift back to Waverly’s mouth.  The grin on her face makes the breath hitch in Nicole’s throat.  She can’t even think anymore.

 

"That's you," Nicole says, softly.

 

"You appointed me," Waverly reminds her.

 

"Right," Nicole absently agrees, "I'm sure I'm just overreacting."

 

"It's adorable," Waverly supplies, flippantly.

 

-

Waverly is feeling.  She is feeling intensely and deeply and unexpectedly.  She hadn't prepared what it would be like sitting in the presence of a warm, gentle, glorious individual just sipping on a warm cup of coffee.  She had never pictured it and, in all of her years out in the world, it has never happened.

 

She thinks of Nicole's warm, chocolate eyes that turn into a delicate honey color in just the right light.  She thinks of the way that Nicole listened to her intently, eyes focused on her and mouth quirked encouragingly.  She thinks of the kindness in Nicole's voice as she asked questions about Waverly's passions, about the history she loves.  She felt heard and important.

 

Nicole is special.  She doesn't know much about the new addition to the Purgatory Sheriff's Department behind the fact that she is kind, attentive, and, honestly, beautiful.  Waverly's never allowed herself to stop and think about how beautiful another person is.  Mostly because she's spent the majority of her life dealing with people who are self-centered assholes.  Her sisters included.

 

That’s a lie.  Wynonna has always had this self-centered air about her, but her main concern has always been Waverly.  There wasn’t a day that went by where Wynonna didn’t make Waverly feel wanted.  She’s the one who held Waverly when she cried herself to sleep, who told her Willa was just being a bitch whenever she was particularly mean to Waverly.  On multiple occasions, Wynonna has staged a coup to put someone in their place when it came to Waverly, and that includes Willa.  Wynonna’s relationship with Willa has been touch and go because of Wynonna’s particular efforts to protect Waverly at all costs. 

 

Wynonna has always been there for Waverly, even when she didn’t feel like anyone else saw her for her.  Wynonna just couldn’t help that she was a big presence, and left Waverly to live in her shadows.  Throughout all of that, she’s always felt like while Wynonna has been there for her, that Wynonna hasn’t really let Waverly return the favor.

 

This, of course, presents Waverly with the realization that she's never really felt such a strong connection to someone.  Especially someone she's only know for a few days.  Coffee with Nicole had been, quite possibly, the most enjoyable two hours she's ever spent.  Two hours.  She spent two hours at the coffee shop with a woman who treated her like she hung the stars in the sky, and it wasn't even a date.

 

Part of Waverly wishes it had been a date.

 

Allowing those thoughts to seep in is huge.  The idea of dating someone who isn't your soulmate is hugely frowned upon.  She had dated a few boys in high school, as practice, to have a companion, because she truly didn't know who was her soulmate.  She hasn't the first clue.  All she knows for sure is that the boys she dated couldn't see a bit of color, she knew they weren't her soulmate.  And, in this society, there isn't any real repercussion for not being with a soulmate, it's just hugely frowned upon.

 

Besides, she remembers what it did to her family.

 

She understands that there's a missing piece when with anyone other than a soulmate, like a part of oneself is gone.  She remembers her mother feeling misunderstood, her mother crying herself to sleep because wasn't there supposed to be more out there.  She remembers what it's like when one parent isn't with their soulmate, remembers the anger her father became filled with when her mother rejected him and rendered him color blind.

 

She remembers all of these things, but she still can't understand how something so wrong could feel so right.

 

Waverly sighs as she parks her Jeep outside of the homestead and hops out of it.  She fetches the last box of her stuff remaining to be moved from both Gus' house and the apartment above the bar.  Clutching it tightly in her grasp, she tries to push away thoughts of Nicole as she heads into the partially remodeled home.  She balances the box as she pushes the door open, catching sight of Wynonna sitting on the couch, bottle of whiskey already cracked open on the coffee table.

 

"Hey, baby girl," Wynonna says, lifting the bottle high into the air, "Get the last of your stuff?"

 

"This is the last of it," she confirms with a huff.

 

The box contains an assortment of various items that are probably better off for the trash than they are for her current stage of life.  There's an old stuffed animal and Willa's diary that she stole years ago stuffed amongst random papers and books and scarves.  A basketball sits on the very top, but she has no idea where she even acquired it - she'd never taken to much sports other than dance and cheerleading.  She sets the box at the bottom of the stairs and peels her jacket off, draping it over the box of stuff.

 

She retreats to the couch beside Wynonna, dropping into the space in the corner of the worn couch.  Curtis and Gus had taken delicate care of the furniture in the homestead for Waverly and her sisters, covering the furniture with plastic covers.  It is in as decent shape as a 25-year-old couch could be.  Every piece of furniture in the house is a piece that she remembers from her childhood.

 

"Cheers!" Wynonna announces, taking a swig from the bottle of whiskey before handing it over to Waverly.

 

Waverly eyeballs the bottle for a moment before taking it from Wynonna's grasp to take her own drink.  She could use a distraction from her newfound, complicated feelings - feelings that society suggests she shouldn't have in the first place.  She takes a long pull from the bottle, a small gasp being elicited from Wynonna, and lowers the bottle.  She hands it over to her older sister as she swallows the mouth full.

 

She hisses as the liquid burns her throat.  She's always preferred tequila over whiskey, but whiskey is Wynonna's drink of choice and always has been.  Perhaps she will slowly shift to something a little less hard liquor when they start this brewery on their land.  God this is going to be so much work.

 

"You heard from Willa?" Waverly asks.

 

"About two weeks ago," Wynonna confirms, "Says she's gettin' hitched."

 

"Oh," Waverly hums her acknowledgement.  She didn't even know that Willa was dating anybody.  Willa didn't much care for Waverly, which took a lot for Waverly to accept in the first place, but this news leaves her a bit off guard after Willa's soulmate situation.  Waverly almost wants to call her whatever with Nicole a date after hearing that.  "Do you believe in the whole soulmate thing?"

 

"It doesn't matter if I believe in it or not, baby girl, it exists," Wynonna replies.  She hears the liquid shift in the bottle as Wynonna throws back another drink.  Waverly looks over at her sister as she swallows and swipes at her mouth with her hand.  "That doesn't mean I think everyone is compatible with their soulmate.  It's just fucked up to think that someone could have a soulmate for such a short time, it's like the universe played a sick joke on her."

 

"Maybe the universe is playing a sick joke on us all," Waverly mutters, "Maybe we're cursed."

 

"Maybe," Wynonna absently agrees, handing the bottle over.

 

Waverly thinks that just she's going to drink until she can't think anymore.

 

-

 

Nicole opts to not use the siren as she approaches the scuffle at the corner of the street near Shorty's and chooses to use only the red and blue lights to distract the aggressive contact.  She squints in the darkness as she pulls her cruiser up to the curb and pops open the car door.  She steps out and observes the scuffle with a narrowed gaze.  She shuts the door to the vehicle and steps away from it.

 

She drops her hands to her belt, letting her thumbs hook around the leather just inside the shape of her hips.  She approaches the group carefully, one ear paying close attention to make sure the crowd doesn't get too rowdy.  The crowd, however, begins to notice the flashing lights from her vehicle and disperses.  She offers a few people a warning smile as they pass her with a heavy nod. She hears them return to the bar, sound of the music from the jukebox increasing as the door opens.

 

"Alright," she calls loudly, squinting in the darkness to get a better look, "Break it up."

 

She delves a little deeper into the altercation, the faces beginning to become clearer as they move directly under the street lamp.  She spots Waverly's sister, brows furrowed and fists clenched.  Wynonna's tightened fists are directly pointed at a thick man, body shape somewhere between muscle and fat.  Nicole quickly lifts a hand up to ease in between them and that's when she notices a spot of blood on the man's lip.

 

"I told you to keep your hands off of my baby sister," Wynonna growls.

 

Nicole perks up at this, the idea of this man touching Waverly without permission rubbing her the wrong way.  She has a war within herself, uphold the law or encourage the protection of the girl she just met, the one she can't seem to stop thinking about since they'd had coffee a few days ago.  She sighs in defeat, knowing that she had to do the right thing.

 

"Wynonna," Nicole greets, voice slightly sing-song in an attempt to be reassuring, "Let me handle this."

 

"Can't," Wynonna replies.

 

"Wynonna!" Comes a scream from behind Nicole.  Nicole rocks backwards and casts a glance behind her, hearing footsteps clamber against the concrete as someone else rushes over.  Nicole is distracted as her brain registers that it's Waverly, dressed in her Shorty's uniform shirt that slightly rides up her torso as she runs passed Nicole, undoubtedly freezing.  "Let him go."

 

Just then, Nicole blinks and she can't move fast enough to save her.  Champ's fist collides with Waverly's jaw.  She recoils on impact, falling back into Nicole.  Nicole gasps.  She steadies her, hands squeezing Waverly's hips and pushing up Waverly's sides.  Her thumbs dig into Waverly's ribs inches above her waist.  She hears Waverly suck in a deep breath.

 

"Shit," Nicole grounds out.

 

Her eyes stay focused on Waverly as her hands slide to Waverly's diaphragm, holding her into place.  She can feel the wisps of Waverly's hair catching in the wind against her nose, and her eyes drift closed for a few seconds.  Hearing Wynonna scream, Nicole's head snaps up in response as she zeroes her gaze in on the woman who had elicited the noise just in time to catch Wynonna lunge forward and pin Champ to the wall.

 

"Alright, scum bag," Wynonna yells, "I'm gonna-"

 

"Stop," Waverly screams.  Wynonna's fist comes to a halt, stilled angrily in the air like her hand is aching to plummet Champ.  "It's not worth it."

 

"Wow," Nicole whispers.  She feels Waverly's hands press against the back of hers, gently wrapping around them to her palms to pull them away from Waverly's torso.  Reluctantly, she loosens her grasp and lets her step away.  Waverly casts a pleading glance over her shoulder at Nicole that fires her up.  She steps forward, moving around Waverly to take Wynonna's place.  "Champ, is it?"

 

The guy nods slowly, slightly trembling beneath Wynonna's primed fist.  Nicole looks at Waverly again, a small welt beginning to form on her jaw and her lip sporting some blood.  Nicole sucks in a deep breath, the air flooding her lungs as she looks back at Champ and wraps her hand tightly around his wrist.  She tugs him towards her, pressing his face against the brick wall as she fishes her hand cuffs out.

 

"You're under arrest,” Nicole starts her spiel of reading the guy his rights.  He grumbles the whole way through but is mostly compliant.  He doesn’t fight her off, but he’s definitely complaining.

 

She drags him to the car and forces him into the backseat just a slight bit rougher than is necessary.  She turns around and sees Waverly standing rather closely behind her.  Wynonna is flipping Champ her middle finger as she treks back into the bar.  Nicole simply shakes her head at Waverly's reckless sister.

 

"I'm supposed to take her to the station as well," Nicole tells Waverly.

 

"Can't you let it slide?" Waverly asks, trying to smile but wincing instead, "Just this once."

 

"Shit," Nicole says suddenly.  She reaches a hand up to Waverly's mouth and lets her fingertips hover above the split lips.  She watches as Waverly hugs herself, suddenly shivering in the cold, and all Nicole wants to do is make sure the punch didn't hit Waverly too hard.  "Are you okay?"

 

"I will be," Waverly mutters.

 

Nicole shrugs her jacket off in a flash.  She tosses it outward and drapes it across Waverly's shoulders, immediately pulling it snug around her neck at the collar.  Waverly's eyes trail down to the ground, like she can't even look at Nicole anymore.  Nicole takes this opportunity to be bold, to lift her fingers to Waverly's chin and tilt her jaw more towards the light so she can get a better look.  She, however, thinks that she literally feels a jolt of electricity spark between them.

 

Her eyes scan Waverly's perfect skin, smooth and warm and beautiful.  Nicole thinks her face will need some ice, pronto.  She exhales slowly, brushing her thumb over Waverly's cheek.  Waverly whines quietly, blue tinted eyes rising to meet Nicole's brown ones.  That's weird - Nicole could have sworn the other day that they were green.  She blows against Waverly's lip gently, hoping to stop the bleeding with a cool breeze.  She stupidly realizes that it's already cold outside, much colder than her breath is.  Waverly shivers anyway.

 

"I think you're going to be okay," Nicole assesses, "No stitches required.  It'll just be a really nasty bruise."

 

"Thank god for make up," Waverly says with a laugh.

 

"You'll want to ice it," Nicole adds, a warm smile spreading across her mouth.  Her hand drops to her jacket wrapped around Waverly.  She pulls it tighter.  "I have to get this daredevil to the station.  I'll swing back by for the jacket."

 

"That's not-"

 

"It is," Nicole interjects with a firm hand on Waverly's arm.  Waverly's eyes flit to where Nicole's fingers squeeze.  For a moment, Nicole forgets anything else that has happened as she gets lost in those blue eyes that resemble the ocean.

 

She offers Waverly a small smile and steps back; her hip hits the metal of her vehicle, and she nearly knocks the wind out of herself.  She doesn't know when she got so clumsy.  When she looks up and connects her gaze with Waverly's again, she realizes exactly when.  She gives the woman a small wave with one hand as she pulls on the door handle to get into her car.

 

She shakes her head at how ridiculous she is.  She watches Waverly retreat back into the bar, jacket held tightly to her chest.  At least Nicole has an excuse to see Waverly again.

 

"Hey, copper," Champ barks suddenly, "Can we get a move on?  It's freezing."

 

"Can it, Hardy," she huffs, suddenly realizing just how true that statement is.  She ignites the vehicle and pulls it into park.  Pointing the cruiser towards the station, she realizes her first night shift is going to be a hell of a long night.

 

-

Waverly makes her way into the quiet police station.  All of the times she's been to this place, she has never heard it be so quiet and serene.  She clasps Nicole's borrowed department issued jacket in one bent arm and clutches a cup of coffee in the other.  It's just passed 3am, the rest of the town having head to bed and given Waverly enough time to close down the bar, get it as cleaned up as humanly possible.  She hears her heels echo against the tile, noise reverberating against the bland walls, and if she were trying to sneak up on someone then it would be literally impossible.

 

She spots her destination, a wave of energy coursing through her as she walks just a little faster.  She rounds the corner of the offices, Nicole's bright red hair standing out from where she sits at her desk.  Waverly stops walking entirely at the sight of her, already missing the scent that has been surrounding her ever since Nicole wrapped her jacket tightly around her.

 

She swallows, rendered motionless by just how beautiful the woman is sitting behind her desk, focused on her job.  Waverly finds something incredibly sexy about Nicole being the first female police officer of the town as though she's the one tearing through the community and shattering all of those glass ceilings.  She didn't mean to think sexy.

 

"Hey," Nicole greets through a gentle laugh, voice filled with excitement.  Waverly immediately blushes.  She feels like she's been caught.  She hasn't even moved since she started staring. "What are you doing here?  It's the middle of the night.  You should be heading home and climbing into bed."

 

"I wanted to bring you your jacket back," Waverly explains.  She lifts the arm with the jacket draped over it as a sign of good faith.  She bites the bullet and treks further into the room, crossing the threshold passed the counter like she has every right to wander around the room.  "And I also brought you a little extra something."

 

Nicole's eyes widen, a softness around each edge and crevice of her face.  Waverly's eyebrows pop up on her forehead, gaze tracing the outline of Nicole's face, memorizing each dip and crater of her cheeks. Including those life altering dimples.  She sets the cup of coffee on Nicole's desk and slides it a little bit closer.  She also extends the jacket to Nicole, who promptly takes it from her.  She watches as Nicole's face contorts.

 

"Did you ice this?" Nicole asks, standing up.  Waverly feels her hands on her face again, pushing at her skin to angle her cheek upward.  She can see Nicole's eyebrows furrow pensively as her gaze scans over Waverly's face.  "It looks a little better, but you still need to take care of it."

 

Nicole practically has her pinned against the desk.  She is fairly certain she can feel the poignant shape of Nicole's hips sliding against her own, which is distracting enough, but to add in the ghost of Nicole's breath kissing her skin makes it practically unbearable.  Nicole's fingers sweep across her jaw.  She shivers beneath Nicole's touch.  Her hands are soft, softer than anyone else Waverly can remember ever touching her.  Waverly's eyes fall on Nicole's lips, realizing just how close the woman is.  She wonders if Nicole's lips are as indulgent as they look, what they taste like.

 

"I will," Waverly replies, trying desperately to take herself out of the moment.  She pulls her head back gently, out of Nicole's touch, hoping that it will allow her to think more clearly.  She offers Nicole a small smile as replacement, hoping that she doesn't take that as a rejection.   Waverly had been enjoying Nicole's touch far too much.

 

"Waverly," Nicole says, carefully, shakily, as she takes a half a step back and drops her hands to her belt, "I have to ask, do you want to press charges?"

 

Waverly feels herself visibly relax as Nicole moves out of her space.  Although she misses the body heat, the warmth that Nicole gives off, she knows that the distance between them is very necessary.  She shakes her head slowly.

 

She says, "No. Champ is a moron but he's harmless."

 

"He clocked you," Nicole points out.

 

"He was aiming for Wynonna," Waverly replies, "Which, she probably deserved it.  She can be a bit...combative."

 

"You have a welt on your face the size of a golf ball," Nicole tries again.

 

"I will be fine," Waverly reassures, "Champ Hardy isn't worth the paperwork."

 

Waverly silently adds that he isn't worth the trouble.  She thinks back to the time they spent together when they were younger and dumber and didn't understand the concept of soulmates.  He had been a boy.  He will probably always be a boy.

 

Nicole sighs but nods despite her obvious disapproval.  She says, "You're worth the trouble of paperwork, Waverly.  I understand that you think Champ isn't, but he should be keeping his hands to himself.  I would have come back to the station having broken up a fight rather than with an arrest under my belt."

 

Waverly gulps thinking about Nicole's belt.  Waverly forces a smile across her mouth to cover up her wavering, nodding slowly.  She feels like she’s nodding a lot.  "Listen, I have to go.  Big day tomorrow.  What?  With the things and all.  I'll see you around, Nicole."

 

"Right," Nicole mutters.

 

Waverly slips passed Nicole, not even bothering to give her an opportunity to say anything else.  The echo of her shoes against the tile follows her all of the way to the parking lot.  Her flesh burns against her jaw and she isn't sure if it's from Nicole's touch or from being clocked by Champ.  The cool, night breeze does nothing to dull the burning sensation.

 

This entire night has gotten completely out of hand.

 

She has gotten completely out of hand.

 

Chapter Text

Waverly is still intoxicated by Nicole's warmth when she wakes up mid-morning. She hadn't even worn the jacket for very long but it was long enough to make some kind of weird imprint on her senses. She can't remember ever feeling this intoxicated by a person.

A person who isn't her soulmate.

God, she found her soulmate at such a young age she doesn't even know if she would recognize them. Does she already know them? If she does, how will she ever figure out who it is? Most of the boys she dated in this town haven't seen any color and all of the ones who do see in color already know who their soulmate is.

No matter what, Waverly knows that she has never felt as connected with another person than she does Nicole.

Including Wynonna. And Wynonna has been her bleeding heart for her entire life. When she was a kid, Wynonna used to lie to her and say, "The day you came into this world is the day I found my soulmate." Waverly didn't know exactly what that meant, didn't know at the time that Wynonna was lying to her, but it made her feel special nonetheless.

Begrudgingly, she takes a shower and rids herself of the amazing, intoxicating smell. She washes away thoughts of being surrounded by that smell, of warmth surrounding her. The closest thing to having Nicole Haught's arms around her that she could get. Silently, she chastises herself for going there, for even thinking about that (unabashedly for nearly the 100th time). Perhaps next time she sees Nicole she will just bite the bullet and pull the warm woman into a much needed hug.

She's managed to correlate Nicole with warmth.

That’s just great.

It's definitely Nicole's warm, brown eyes and her warm smile and the way her hands are warm any time she does reach out and touch Waverly. Waverly can still feel the ghost of Nicole's touch against her cheek and the comforting way that her healing hands took away any sting kissing the skin. It had been surprising for Waverly that she had even been distracted by Nicole's lips, wondering if they were as soft and kind as Nicole's hands and voice are.

She knows even acknowledging an attraction to Nicole is fruitless. Perhaps if she lived in a world where soulmates didn't exist, where people weren't expected to live their best life possible with their soulmate at their side. The only accepted form of life is to be with your soulmate. Not that people haven't been known to not be with their soulmates on occasion, but that life lacks beauty and imagination. The people who choose to do that stick out like a sore thumb, even sometimes go as far as being ridiculed for the decision to go against the soulmate concept - at least in this town.

Purgatory can be rough. It can be difficult to make friends because everyone has, for the most part, spent their entire lives creating these bonds that are sometimes not only irrational but also insanely strong. Waverly knows that what she has to do, because she considers herself a good person, is introduce Nicole to the towns people and help her become socially accepted by them. So, she takes it upon herself to stop by that little coffee shop they met at and orders her the one drink that she knows Nicole likes.

When she gets to the station, Sheriff Nedley informs her that Nicole isn't working today but he does hand over Nicole's address. Reluctantly, for fear that she will be invading Nicole's privacy by showing up without an invite, she takes it. She decides she'll only hand over the coffee and use the excuse of not having her phone number so having to invite her in person. Maybe it will even be an excuse to get Nicole's phone number.

God, she's an idiot.

She pulls her Jeep to a stop near the government issued cruiser and expels a deep breath in an attempt to still her nerves. She turns off her car, checks herself in the rear view mirror, and reaches for the coffee from the cup holder. Throwing the door open and hopping out, she suddenly realizes that Nicole is just a few inches from the stairs to the porch, crouched to the ground.

As she fast approaches, a little too speedily considering how anxious she's suddenly feeling, Nicole stands upright with a subtle attempt to stretch out her spine.

"Waverly," Nicole says, voice low and grave as though she hasn't spoken to anyone since waking up, "Hi. What are you doing here?"

"I brought you this," Waverly replies, extending the cup of coffee.

"Oh wow," Nicole hums, taking the proffered cup, "You really have to stop bringing me things, Waverly Earp. It's really nice. I haven't done anything for you."

"You got my sister off," Waverly says, eyes widening almost immediately, "I mean, you let her off. With a warning. Twice."

"Ah, well, good 'ole Wynonna can be quite charming," Nicole says, a small laugh tumbling out of her mouth. For some reason, this answer really rubs Waverly the wrong way. She feels something deep inside of her swell up, warm her cheeks, and catch in her throat. If this is what jealousy feels like, she has never felt it quite like this before. "Besides, she's harmless."

"She doesn't scare you?" Waverly asks. She wants to add that Wynonna scares everyone. Wynonna’s reputation is far scarier than Waverly’s.

"Not one bit," Nicole says.

Waverly sighs, slightly annoyed by the response. She doesn't know what she had been expecting, if she were honest. She's always kind of lived in Wynonna's shadow, even though Wynonna has spent the better part of her life trying to pull Waverly out of it.

"Wynonna is great," Waverly says, evenly. Hearing herself, she almost sounds like she's encouraging Nicole. Encouraging Nicole for what, she doesn't know. She smiles despite her ever growing jealousy. Nicole returns the smile and Waverly almost feels that jealousy fade. Swallowing thickly, she suddenly remembers why she stopped by in the first place. "I just came by to invite you out with us tonight."

"Us?" Nicole's voice houses a disappointment that Waverly considers she may be imagining. She opens her mouth to elaborate, but Nicole recovers too quickly. "I really appreciate the invite. What time? I've been working around here and I need time to clean up."

"Oh," Waverly says barely above a whisper. She looks around the property, taking in all of the work Nicole could be referring to. That's when Waverly sees the bags of concrete and the perfect little squares at her feet. "You've been pouring concrete?"

"Yep," Nicole replies, a smile stretching across her face, "It's my first time, so go easy on me if I didn't do it correctly."

"This looks perfect," Waverly says. She smiles so wide that her eyes crinkle at the edges. She crouches down beside the gray square, wondering if Nicole just has a knack for things like this. "You know what I've always wanted to do?"

"What?"

Nicole bends her knees and settles down beside her. She turns her head to watch Nicole balance expertly, her muscle strength fit enough to keep her from wobbling. Waverly finally allows herself to give Nicole a long look, a pair of black track pants tight against her legs as she bends and an old t-shirt with some basketball designs on it.

"I've always wanted to leave my mark," Waverly admits, sheepishly looking away, "We've never had to pour concrete."

"Go ahead," Nicole mutters. Snapping her neck to look at Nicole, eyes filled with uncertainty, she sees a reassuring smile on Nicole's face. Her lips part but she can't form any words. "Leave your mark."

"Are you sure?"

"Sure, why not?" Nicole shrugs, "I'll do it with you."

"Okay," she rasps with a small nod.

She places both of her palms into the concrete at the corner of the square and presses her fingers down with care. She glances at Nicole to see her repeating the action, Nicole's long pinky ridiculously close to Waverly's. Breathing stalling, she digs her hands in just a tad bit harder before completely removing them from the cool substance. Nicole does the same action, quickly scattering away in search of something.

Waverly lifts her hands in front of her to examine them. They have a white, chalky look to them but they appear otherwise unscathed. She lifts her eyes from her hands when she sees Nicole return with a piece of bark, jagged edge just pointed enough to etch into the still freshly poured concrete. Nicole's grinning as she writes N.H. above her hand prints and W.E. above her own.

A shoulder lightly presses against hers, and she turns her head to look at Nicole. Waverly hasn't seen the woman in a couple of days, seems to have forgotten just how beautiful she thinks Nicole is. Her red hair is vibrant in the sun, pulled up tightly behind her head but not encased in that French braid she usually wears with her uniform. Waverly can't help smiling again, even as her eyes flit to Nicole's mouth.

"Thank you," she whispers.

"You can cross that off of your bucket list," Nicole says with a small laugh. Her laugh warms Waverly. She's never quite seen brown as beautiful as Nicole's eyes. "Haven't seen you in a couple of days. Your bruise seems to be fading nicely."

"Make up," she supplies. She stands up, Nicole quickly following. She feels herself leaning forward, knows she should try to right the movement, but she can't. Not when she thinks she can feel Nicole's knuckle brush against her thigh. "Tonight, meet me at Shorty's? We'll have a plan together by then."

"What am I dressing for?" Nicole asks.

"For me," Waverly teases.

Finally leaning back, she thinks she can actually see Nicole's eyes bulge of her head. She really wants to leave it at that, at the suggestion that perhaps Waverly wants to be on Nicole's mind. Because she really, really does even though she shouldn't.

"For you?" Nicole repeats, voice sounding lost.

"Wear whatever you want, Nicole," she says, a light shake of her head as she smirks, "It'll be great."

"Sure," Nicole says with a nod, "What time?"

"Seven-thirty?" Waverly says with a shrug. Nicole nods again. Taking a step back, she allows herself to take in just how beautiful every curve of Nicole is as she puts more distance between them. "You'll be there?"

"Wouldn't miss it," Nicole calls back.

Still smirking, she turns and loads into her vehicle. She watches Nicole as she closes the door, red hair catching in the wind. Nicole takes a drink of her impossibly cold coffee and, as Waverly looks for a cringe, all she sees is a smile work its way onto Nicole's face.

-

Hoping that she's dressed up enough, Nicole steps into the bustling bar and she immediately sees Waverly. She pauses just a few feet from the door before she's even stepped out of the entryway, noticing that Waverly looks absolutely amazing. All of the colors on Waverly seems to work so well together that it strikes Nicole as odd.

Considering, for a moment, that perhaps Waverly can in fact see every color on the color wheel, her feet seem to firmly plant into the wood. She feels underdressed in complimentary colors. She's wearing a pair of tight, black pants and a royal blue top. Her shoes aren't yet broken in, a boot style but stopping at her ankle, and they are already pinching her feet.

She gets stuck on the flower pattern skirt Waverly is wearing, a gentle pastel pink top to compliment it. Nicole feels her gaze tighten, contemplating just how difficult it would be to piece together such extravagant colors without knowing exactly what she's looking at. Her breath catches in her throat at the realization, no, the suspicion and what is entailed with that. If Waverly sees in color, it's because she's already met her soulmate.

That could mean any number of things, but none of them are especially good. All Nicole does know that it means is that Waverly is not her soulmate. Not that there was a chance of that before, despite her creeping thoughts that perhaps the universe had thrown her a bone.

It didn't.

Sighing, she advances further into the noisy bar. Her eyes stay trained on Waverly, but flit away quickly when Waverly lifts her gaze and spots Nicole. Seeing the smile spread across Waverly's mouth, Nicole feels her chest swell. Waverly jumps off of her bar stool and meets Nicole half way.

"Nicole," Waverly says loudly, "You're early!"

"You changed," she replies. She feels Waverly's hands outstretch and immediately wrap around one of hers. The contact clouds her head for a moment. Incredibly too distracted to think clearly, she lifts her free hand to Waverly's hip and absently thumbs the material there. It's silk. "You look great."

"Thank you," she says, so much vibrato.

She releases Nicole's hand with one of her hands but threads their fingers together with the remaining one. Tugging her towards the bar where she was sitting, Nicole follows Waverly like she's going to get lost, free hand inappropriately moving to Waverly's hip. Although she knows she should remove it, even berates herself so fully that her fingers twitch, she still doesn't manage to listen to her better judgment.

Waverly is just a friend.

That's what she keeps trying to remind herself anyway, with Waverly's fingers pressing into hers so tightly that she can almost feel Waverly's touch burning her skin. Waverly slides back onto her stool and smiles tightly as she gestures to the stool beside hers to Nicole. As she easily slides onto the stool facing Waverly, she expects her hand to be released but is pleasantly surprised when it isn't.

"Can I get you a drink?" Waverly asks. Suddenly, the grasp on Nicole's hand is loosening and she's automatically pouting without really meaning to. If Waverly notices, she doesn't have a visible reaction to it.

"Maybe just like a cider?" Nicole asks.

She feels a chill behind her and glances over her shoulder. Seeing Wynonna standing in the door way, feeling Waverly's hand completely leave hers, her heart kind of sinks a little bit. She's sure that she would probably like Wynonna if she got to know the woman, but from what she's seen Wynonna can drink. Nicole isn't really sure if she can keep up. And, if she were being honest, she's disappointed that it isn't just her and Waverly anymore.

"Wynonna can be a tough crowd," Waverly warns, "But don't worry. She's going to be on her best behavior."

"I kind of thought I would be meeting your friends," Nicole admits.

Sliding off of her bar stool, Waverly shoots her a small smile while she moves around to grab Nicole's drink from behind the bar. She watches Waverly as her eyes never leave Nicole's, hands expertly feeling for the cold bottle of cider. Waverly leans on the bar and sets the bottle down in front of Nicole. Turning her stool while she reaches for the bottle, her fingers settle against the sweating glass enclosure just over Waverly's. She expects Waverly to withdraw her hand immediately, but she doesn't. Nicole blushes, grin widening despite the distraction from her thinking clearly.

"You're my friend," Waverly hums. Her voice sounds like music. Losing her train of thought at Waverly's smile, she almost doesn't notice Waverly removing her hand from the bottle to return to her seat at the bar. It's only then that Nicole realizes Wynonna hasn't even made it over to them yet. Sliding into her seat, Waverly adds, "Besides, you don't need to be friends with my friends. You should make your own friends."

"I already have one friend who is a lot of work," she teases.

The fact is that a friendship with Waverly is actually quite trying. All of her efforts have been centered on trying not to think about how pretty Waverly is, how kind she is, how she's so full of life and energy. She's been denying any kind of attraction to Waverly because the soulmate thing gets in the way.

"Oh, yeah? I'd like to meet this difficult friend," Waverly teases back.

"I don't know," Nicole replies, hand tightening around the bottle she hasn't even taken a drink from yet, "She's always asking me for favors, like letting her sister off when she's drunk and disorderly."

"Yeah," Waverly murmurs, reaching for Nicole's hand again, "Thank you again for doing that. I really owe you."

"You don't owe me, Waverly," Nicole says, "Your company is worth turning a blind eye once or twice."

-

Nicole thinks about Waverly's hands on hers. The way they are small and strong at the same time, warm but not too warm. Of course Nicole can't stop thinking about Waverly's hands because they had managed to stay on Nicole in any capacity. She would blame it on the alcohol but neither of them had consumed more than one or two beers.

Well, she had consumed two and Waverly had only consumed one.

The night had only managed to confirm one thing that she had been trying so hard to convince herself was possible to pretend didn't exist: she is attracted to Waverly Earp.

Attracted isn't the right word. Waverly is beautiful, that is certainly undeniable, but it's more than just a physical attraction. She is attracted to Waverly's spirit. There's something to be said for that, she thinks. She hasn't ever been attracted to someone's spirit before. It feels different than anything she's ever felt. She doesn't even think that she can explain it.

Hell, she doesn't even think she can understand it.

She just thinks that Waverly Earp is deserving of the moon and the stars and the entire universe. And she doesn't even know her all that well. Well, actually, there's a lot of things she knows about Waverly that she's learned in the short time they've known each other.

She knows that Waverly is really smart. When they had coffee, Waverly told her about knowing 4 languages fluently, about the 4-year university degree she acquired by attending through correspondence. She knows that Waverly was valedictorian, easily had the highest GPA out of all of her fellow graduates. Nicole thinks that Waverly is probably a lot smarter than her.

She knows that Waverly is really kind. The number of people in the town who consider Waverly to be the nicest person, even going as far as rewarding her a sash for that niceness, is completely astounding. Having traveled and lived a number of places, Nicole has never encountered such a unanimous agreement amongst a community.

She knows that Waverly is genuine. There aren't a lot of genuine people left in the world. One of the things about Waverly that she has noticed is not only that she's nice, but that she means it. That's really difficult to come by.

There's so many qualities about a person that Nicole likes that Waverly has. And maybe, if this weren't such a small town, Nicole would explore just what she loved most about all of those qualities. And maybe she could even pursue whatever Waverly wanted. She would want to, if the small town circumstances didn't play against people not being with their soulmate.

Her hands, arms and shoulders ache from everywhere Waverly touched her - polite, discreet, slightly more than friendly. Surely all of the gestures are just because Waverly is a friendly person. Not for any other reason than that.

No way is Waverly attracted to her, too.

-

The diner is just as busy as usual. Being almost one of the only breakfast places in town, it's almost always packed between the hours of 6am and 9am. Usually, Waverly meets Chrissy once a week so they can catch up, but since Wynonna rolled back into town she's had to cancel the last two weeks.

And, boy, does Waverly have a lot of feelings to spill out onto the table with Chrissy.

Their friendship has been steadfast. They've been friends since they were in middle school and Waverly had to go with Gus to pick up Wynonna from the police station. Chrissy had been there with her dad after school and had smiled so kindly that, even though Waverly didn't understand what even was going, she left feeling happy that she had made a new friend.

Chrissy, unlike her, still hasn't met her soulmate. Up until Chrissy moved out of her parents’ house a few months ago, Chrissy's mother had approved her outfits before she left the house. Ever since, although Chrissy has felt a freedom she hasn't been allotted, her wardrobe choices have been a mess. Waverly finds it adorable, but mostly because she knows Chrissy just can't help it.

Chrissy is one of the few people outside of her family who knows about Waverly's soulmate predicament. Trying to be supportive, Chrissy often tells her to go out and have fun because she deserves it. Waverly always smiles politely and appreciates the support, but she's never particularly felt like anyone was really worth the time. She knows she's mostly just a pit stop on the way to someone else's final destination.

But Waverly really needs her support...or advice. She would definitely prefer her advice. Perhaps she had only decided to come to Chrissy about this because she knows she will get unyielding support in whatever decision she makes. She isn't sure if she can talk to Wynonna - anyway, she mostly avoids any resemblance to feelings.

She's waiting for the waitress, a woman in her early fifties names Bonnie, to bring them their coffee refill before she even broaches the subject. Just for the effect of getting less interruptions. The diner is busy and, although it always does its best in producing food as quickly and safely as possible, it still takes a good 15-20 minutes to get their plates. Usually.

"Thank you, Bonnie," Waverly says once Bonnie has finished filling her mug of coffee. Bonnie smiles and nods kindly, moving on to filling Chrissy's mug as well. The coffee here is subpar, but that's okay. Their food is good.

"You're welcome, Miss Waverly," Bonnie steps away quickly. Chrissy immediately reaches for the cream, pouring it into the mug over the steaming liquid.

"I wanted to talk to you about," Waverly trails off, as the doorbell rattles loudly throughout the noisy room and she notices Nicole; she loses her train of thought, simply muttering, "Nicole."

"Nicole?" Chrissy repeats, lifting her mug and blowing some steam towards the center of the table, "You mean the new Deputy Sheriff my dad brought in?"

"Nicole," Waverly says a bit louder. Attempting to get Nicole's attention, she lifts her hand into the air. Nicole seems to notice and immediately heads into their direction. "Hi."

"Waverly, hi," Nicole greets, voice chirpy, "How are you?"

"I'm fine," Waverly immediately replies. She feels small under Nicole's gaze, delicate. She's been thinking about Nicole ever since they met up at Shorty's a few nights ago. Not knowing what had gotten into her with all of the touching, she's been kind of avoiding the topic of potential conversation until she figured things out. "Sit down. How are you?"

Scooting over to make room for her to sit, Waverly feels Nicole's thigh press against hers, knee extending slightly passed Waverly's. She smiles shyly at the feel of Nicole's warmth, beginning to feel awfully flustered despite the fact that she has no idea how Nicole feels. She should have really tried a little harder to keep her hands to herself the other night while drinking.

"I'm well," Nicole says with a small smile. Watching as Nicole lifts her gaze to Chrissy and offers her a nod, Waverly drops her hands to her lap. Nicole leans a little more heavily against the table and says, "Miss Nedley, how are you this morning?"

"I'm great, Officer Haught, thank you for asking," Chrissy answers, setting her mug back on the table, "Daddy finally let you away from your desk?"

"Oh, yes, for about a week now," Nicole replies.

Waverly watches the exchange, listening to how polite Nicole is to Chrissy as though they've met on more than one occasion. Suspecting they've probably only met the one time, Waverly can't help feeling like Nicole is exactly the type of person she needs in her life. She pushes her knee more fully against Nicole's thigh. She can't help her hand gravitating towards Nicole, fingertips etching slowly to the space just above her knee. Waverly feels Nicole's leg twitch beneath her fingertips.

She's more certain now than she was a few days ago about what she intends for the touching to mean. She knows she feels something for this amazing woman, something that she hasn't felt for a long time. Something she's maybe never felt before. It isn't fair to think that she feels so full around someone that she really can't be with. She doesn't know Nicole's story; assuming her suspicions are true though, Nicole's soulmate situation isn't much different than hers.

"I had a lot of fun the other night," Nicole says, suddenly looking over at Waverly.

Leaning back against the booth cushion, Nicole slowly moves her hand to cover Waverly's. Waverly stills herself, knowing full well that Nicole has been mostly accepting of her touchy-feely demeanor, thinking that this feels different somehow, that Nicole is going to get tired enough of it that she will forcibly remove Waverly’s hand. She isn't sure that she can handle that rejection, not so soon after realizing she does actually have feelings for the woman.

"And nobody even got arrested," Waverly agrees with a too wide smile and a nervous chuckle.

Nicole's fingers hook around her hand, pads of her fingertips pressing lightly against Waverly's palm. Her short nails lightly scratch against Waverly's life lines, the most unexpected tickle kissing her nerve endings. She involuntarily squeezes her fingers tightly. Nicole quirks an eyebrow at her, uncertain of what that kind of reaction is. Pulling her shoulders up around her ears, she gives Nicole a shrug that is the most playful her body can muster.

The tension in her shoulders remains as she summons the courage to turn her hand around beneath Nicole's. Nicole's warm palm lifts from Waverly's, but she can still feel the heat radiating off of Nicole. Her failure to add anything further to the conversation is quickly ignored by Chrissy projecting the conversation further, questions sparking a graceful conversation with Nicole. She feels Nicole's hand settle back onto her palm, fingers sliding together until they are fully entwined and the back of her hand is more profoundly pressed against Nicole's thigh.

Waverly could almost think that this was all part of the plan.

"I better be heading to the station," Nicole suddenly says, "I just stopped by for the donuts."

"Really giving in to that stereotype," Waverly supplies, giving Nicole's hand a squeeze as though she could release her sadness at the woman leaving through her hands, "You should really try a healthier breakfast."

"They're not for me," Nicole says, "But if I showed up empty handed I would get a hazing I could never forget."

"She's right about that," Chrissy agrees.

"Sorry to dip out without a proper conversation," Nicole replies, "But we'll catch up later."

Nicole is mostly talking to her, but she quickly flashes a look to Chrissy as though she doesn’t want to leave her out. Nicole releases her hand slowly, almost painstakingly, and pushes herself into a standing position. Waverly watches as Nicole absently smooths out her khaki pants with a warm hand. Her hand is suddenly cold without Nicole's warmth.

"Yeah, I'll catch up with you later," Waverly confirms. They don't have plans or anything, but Waverly thinks they certainly need to make some.

Nicole smiles boldly. She says, "Miss Nedley, you have a fantastic day."

"Thank you, you as well," Chrissy replies, "And say hello to Daddy for me, will you?"

"I don't have to call him that, right?" Nicole asks. Waverly's insides warm up as a smile slowly splits across Nicole's face, dimples cratering so deep into her perfect cheeks that the breath catches in Waverly’s throat, an obvious tease slipping out in Nicole’s tone. Chrissy takes a moment before chuckling softly, like she was just returning the favor. Straightening, Nicole looks over at Waverly again, reaching out and quickly caressing Waverly’s shoulder with her light touch, and mutters, "Alright, Waverly, you have a fantastic day, too. And tell that sister of yours to stay out of trouble."

"Will do," she says. Nicole nods her head and turns on her heel. Waverly can't help herself, watching Nicole as she saunters away. Hand still warm where Nicole had her fingers slipped between hers, she tries to focus on breathing in and out.

"I like her," Chrissy announces, giddily.

"Me, too," Waverly agrees. Doughnuts in hand, Nicole knocks the bell alive again as she leaves. Lips tugging upwards into a soft smile, Waverly looks at Chrissy again. "A lot. That's actually...I just, I needed someone to talk to about what's going on."

She must hesitate for too long because Chrissy is reaching across the table to cover her hand reassuringly. "What's going on, Waverly?"

"I just really," Waverly sighs and looks up at Chrissy, a sting touching her eyes, "I like her. There’s something about her that, she's…special."

"Is she..."" Chrissy trails off, the unspoken question hanging in the air.

"No," she says quickly with a saddened shake of her head. Waverly looks around quickly to see who could be tuning in, to see if anyone who likes to run the gossip mill is nearby. She sighs, knowing this is not the place to tell such a well-kept secret. She leans closer, "Not here, okay? But I'll tell you everything."

Chrissy nods in affirmation.

Chapter Text

Another boring day at the office.  As a police officer, she knows that she should probably be relieved by that but, as an extremely bored person looking for some kind of mental challenge other than filling out and filing paperwork, she is really not happy about it.  She thinks with the weather beginning to warm up, it'll bring in a bit more action.  Maybe she won't be spending every day sitting on the station, checking and double checking each police report that has come in for the year.

 

Her desk is nearly void of paperwork anyway.  With only about a total of 20 more files to scan through, her task will be done.  Then what?

 

"Officer Haught?" Sheriff Nedley interrupts her, "A word?"

 

She’s been pretending that she isn't thinking about Waverly Earp.  She's been doing that a lot.  And, frankly, Waverly has given her plenty to think about.  With wondering hands, Waverly has managed to touch her just a tad bit too much for it to be just friendly.  Besides, Nicole is pretty sure that Waverly wouldn't be holding Chrissy Nedley's hand under the table at the busiest place in town.

 

She really doesn't know what's gotten in to her.  She allowed this to happen, essentially only playing herself by leaning in to the warm touch.  Even though she hasn't done much, or any, for that matter, of initiating the contact, she hasn't moved away from it.  She absently wonders if Waverly even know what she's doing.

 

That's when she remembers Sheriff Nedley is casting a shadow over her, looking down his nose at her, awaiting her response.  She swallows and laughs quietly in the back of her throat, that nervousness slipping into the air between them.  She says, "Uh, sure, Sheriff.  What's up?"

 

"My daughter mentioned you being a little friendly with Waverly Earp this morning," Sheriff Nedley replies.

 

She stills in her movements, conflicted with so many emotions that she doesn't know which way to react or even what to react to first.  Perhaps that tightened brow on his face is because he is unhappy with the way events have unfolded.  If Chrissy saw them holding hands, it's possible she's about to get a stern talking to about the whole soulmate thing.  But still, she can't help the way a smile tugs at her lips at the mentioning of Waverly's name.

 

"Uh, yeah," Nicole slowly replies, "I'd say we're friends.  I mean, we aren't braiding each other's hair yet but Saturday is free."

 

He chuckles softly, politely, "Might I suggest a restaurant here in town instead?"

 

Wait... she hadn't been expecting that.  She's caught a lot of flak for casually dating girls, even in the big city where people have a smaller chance of running in to their soulmate.  When she was a kid, they moved around so much that she doesn't even know the names of all of the places they called home.  Her soulmate could be in any one of those places.

 

"Alright," she says, leaning back in her desk chair, "Hit me with it."

 

Zoning out for a moment, she thinks about how easily her fingers slipped between Waverly's.  The web between their fingers complimented one another, avoiding that nonsense of the unexplainable pinch against the skin.  That's happened to her on occasion, with a girl or two.  Admittedly, she isn't really much of a person who likes to particularly hold hands.  She more prefers to let her hands roam, get a feel for what exactly is in store.

 

"Chrissy always talks about this place she meets Waverly, has amazing...something, I tune her out sometimes.  She likes to chatter," Sheriff Nedley explains, "Anyway, it's on Main Street, near eighth.  It's an oriental place.  I can't recall the name.  If you have any trouble finding it, I can ask Chrissy for the name of it."

 

"Thanks, Sheriff," Nicole says, "But I don't think that's necessary."

 

"You know the place I'm talking about then?"

 

She smiles at him, politely and restrained.  The town is so small that it isn't hard to figure out exactly what place he could be talking about.  Even more than that, she wonders why he cares so much.  Sheriff Nedley isn't usually one to meddle, let alone while in the work place, but he seems to have taken a special interest in her.  For some reason.

 

"I know the place," she confirms.  Although she's lying, she will figure it out.  Moreover, she doesn't even know how she feels about getting date location tips from her boss.  She quickly berates herself at the idea that Sheriff Nedley is actually suggesting she ask Waverly on a date. Surely he isn't doing just that.  "Besides, I prefer to ask my friends where they would like to go.  I find that with friendships, especially new ones, that's usually the smartest way for me to go."

 

"Waverly Earp is a good girl, Haught," Sheriff Nedley states, "She's a good friend to have."

 

Although he lingers for a second longer than is probably necessary, she hears him mutter a 'get back to work’ as he trudges off to his office.  She can almost swear she hears some kind of annoyed sigh in the process, but she decides not to read too much into it.  But then again, just thinking of Waverly makes her skin tingle.

 

-

Nicole bounces on her heels, hands buried deep into her pockets.  It's only just now beginning to be warm outside yet, here she is, standing in an ice cream shop line with Waverly Earp by her side.  It had been Waverly's idea to go for ice cream and, even though she still needs a light jacket to walk around outside, she couldn't tell Waverly no.

 

She's going to have to work on that so they can maintain this friendship thing without it getting too complicated - feelings or whatever.

 

She rocks from heel to toe, looking over at Waverly who is staring ahead at the ice cream.  Thinking about which one she might be considering the most, Nicole's eyes trace the outlines of Waverly's face.  Her eyes get stuck on Waverly's strong jaw line, the way it cuts through the air.  Nicole wonders what it would be like to kiss that expanse of space, the space where the bruise has completely faded, if it would tickle Waverly or if she would turn her away.

 

Just then, Waverly looks over at her, a knowing smile on her face.  Nicole tightens her lips together and looks away, undeniably caught by the way her cheeks heat up.  She misses the confident version of herself she used to know before Waverly scared that version off.

 

"I think I'm going to mix it up," Waverly says, "Might get the coconut this time."

 

"Oh yeah?" Nicole responds with a gulp, "What do you usually get?"

 

"Anything with peanut butter," Waverly hums, "It's kind of my guilty pleasure."

 

"Guilty pleasure, huh?" Nicole baits.  Absently, she wonders what other things might be on Waverly's list of guilty pleasures.  Waverly pops her eyebrows up on her forehead while grinning and shaking her head.  "When it comes to ice cream, I usually just stick with like chocolate chip, sometimes cookie dough."

 

"You should try the coconut," Waverly says, "It's their one vegan flavor.  It took me six months of begging to get them to stock it."

 

Nicole stares at her in awe.  Wondering how Waverly can do that, how she can so heavily influence a whole town, really leaves her speechless.  This woman is extraordinary.  She finally says, "You're amazing."

 

"You've never had it," Waverly replies.

 

She can see the question resting in Waverly's eyes, but her words weren't shaped like a question.  Nicole doesn't really want to get into it, the vegan ice cream has a lot to do with some weird kick an ex-girlfriend went on for like a week right before she admitted it was her soulmate who suggested it.  That was the end of that relationship.

 

"No," she lies.

 

"You'll try mine," Waverly replies, decidedly.

 

She nods, knowing that it's better to just not argue over such a minute thing.  One bite of Waverly's ice cream and she can put a few more inches between them, despite the fact that she really doesn't want to.  She wants to feel Waverly's hand in hers again but she wouldn't dare force Waverly to do anything that she doesn't want to do.

 

Stepping up to the counter, she waits as Waverly tells the lady what she wants before Nicole quickly follows suit.  She pulls money out of her pocket and pays for Waverly can even think about it.  With this act, she realizes that this is beginning to feel more and more like a date.  She wonders how Waverly would feel about it being a date.  That's when she remembers that they're friends, that Waverly has a soulmate somewhere; meanwhile, she's already met hers.

 

Once they are handed their single scoop cones, she follows Waverly out of the way of the line so other people can order.  Nicole looks around at the amount of people waiting for ice cream, wondering why everyone is meeting here in a Saturday afternoon when it's still chilly outside, and notices that there isn't a single free table.  Waverly is already lapping at her ice cream.

 

"This place is packed," Nicole states, "I think we're gonna have to take this outside"

 

"Good idea," Waverly says.

 

Moving towards the door, she reaches for the door handle with her free hand to open.  She leans back against the glass, hand of her other hand lifting to the small of Waverly's back as she steps over the threshold.  She feels like she's magnetized to Waverly, like even when she tells herself that she will put space between them and won't reach out to touch the woman she can't help it.

 

The wind hits her cheeks and a shiver moves down her spine.  She's going to freeze to death out here, beside Waverly.  What a way to go though...

 

"Try it," Waverly says, pushing her ice cream towards Nicole's face.  Leaning back a little to take a look at the ice cream, she sees that a pretty sizeable portion of it has already been eaten.  She's going to put her tongue where Waverly's tongue has been.  Her brain will go into over drive, she already knows.  "Cooties aren't real."

 

Nicole laughs.  She really doesn't have a choice.  She leans forward and slides her tongue across the ice cream, the coconut taste seeping into her taste buds. It tastes pretty decent.  After swallowing, she sees Waverly's wide, hopeful eyes.

 

"It's good," Nicole confirms, "It's no chocolate chip though."

 

Nicole takes a bite of her ice cream then, mouth so cold as they walk slowly down the sidewalk in no particular direction.  She doesn't know their destination but she figures that she would be willing to encounter anything beside Waverly.  She really needs to stop herself from going there.

 

They reach the end of the street and she sees a park.  She pauses at the end of the sidewalk, waiting for the walk light to flash before they cross the street.  She takes a glance at Waverly who, at this point, has more ice cream left on her cone than Nicole does.

 

"How is your boring chocolate chip?" Waverly asks.

 

"It hits the spot," Nicole tells her.

 

She pauses as she looks over at Waverly, eyes drifting to her mouth.  She sees a speck of ice cream on Waverly's lip and, without thinking, reaches out to sweep it away.  Her thumb drags over Waverly's bottom lip, the ice cream sticking to the pad of her thumb, and she immediately pulls her thumb to her mouth.  The taste of coconut mixed with strawberry lip gloss sticks to her tongue.  She doesn't even realize what she's doing until it's too late.

 

"Wow," Waverly whispers.  As Waverly's tongue flits out against her own bottom lip, Nicole watches the movement with great focus.  She swallows and looks away.  "You taste like vanilla."

 

"That was weird. I'm sorry," Nicole says.

 

She snaps her gaze back to Waverly who is already replacing that vanilla taste with her coconut flavored ice cream.  Smiling sheepishly, Nicole takes a bite from her cone, practically devouring it to keep herself from saying anything else stupid.  She feels Waverly's hand circle her wrist.  There's a quick squeeze but the release doesn't follow.

 

"It's fine," Waverly counters.  She tugs on Nicole's arm to instruct her to cross the street.  She's a few steps behind Waverly, her fingers slipping down to Nicole's hand.  Anticipating her to remove her hand, Nicole instinctively lunges forward and presses her fingers between Waverly's.  "I love this park."

 

"Park?" Nicole hums, not even realizing they were staring at a park.  It's a rather large park.  It has two basketball goals and a decent playground.  There's a few swings.  It's practically empty for a Saturday afternoon.  "It's really nice."

 

"This park is so important to me," Waverly admits quietly.  Nicole looks at the park area again, taking in the serenity of it.  Of course this place is impactful.  Most of the people in this town probably played here as children.  The grass is a flourishing green beneath her feet.  She wonders what it would be like to never see the beautiful shade of green again - would she eventually forget what it looked like?  "This is where I met my soulmate."

 

Nicole gulps at that confirmation.  Her heart sinks upon hearing the truth, even though she had suspected all along that it might be the case.  Hearing the truth is never easy, and in this case it means the woman she has an infatuation with already belongs with someone else.  Whether Waverly knows who or not.

 

"That's great, Waves," she says solemnly, the nickname slipping out.  She's gutted, insides wrenching as they fold up inside of themselves.  Her stomach drops all the way down to her toes and she hates that she has no control over how she's reacting.

 

Hypocritical - that’s what it is.

 

"I was five," Waverly starts.  Loosening her grasp on Waverly's hand, she lets her step away from her.  With the minimal space, she almost feels like she can breathe again.  Almost.  She follows Waverly towards a bench.  When she's near enough to the trashcan, she tosses the remainder of her cone into it, having lost her appetite.  She looks over at those green eyes, they're green again and she's confused by the color change; her breath catches in her throat at the way Waverly looks at her expectantly.  "I was sitting on this bench and this person, this stranger, gave me this beautiful gift.  I could suddenly see all of the colors that exist and it was beautiful.  I didn't even get a chance to thank them."

 

"You didn't?" She asks.

 

Waverly sits on the bench, her doe eyes looking up at Nicole.  Staring down at her, Nicole can't help but think how looking down at Waverly is such a sight.  The way she peers up at Nicole through her eyelashes, mouth cocked slightly coy, head slightly tilted to the side.  She tilts her head in the same direction as Waverly's, gaze squaring up with hers.  She could just lean forward right now and press her lips against Waverly's, really quick and harmless.  She could do it.  It would be easy.

 

"Nope," Waverly admits, "I never even saw their face."

 

Suddenly, Nicole feels sad for her.  Waverly, however, doesn't look sad.  She looks bright and bubbly and like a ray of sunshine.  Feeling Waverly's hand on hers, again, she finally looks away from Waverly's alluring gaze to look at her hand.  A quick tug on her fingers elicits a request for her to sit down beside Waverly on the bench.  She complies with the request, moving around Waverly's perfectly toned legs and sitting beside her on the split wood.

 

"What would you say to them? I mean, if you could," Nicole asks.  There's a small space between them, enough that the breeze cuts against her sides just beneath her jacket.  She leans back, crossing one of her knees over the other, and looks straight ahead, almost afraid to be caught looking at Waverly for too long.  The bench shifts beneath her as Waverly scoots just a tad bit closer.

 

"Oh, gosh," Waverly mutters, "I wouldn't even know where to start.  They came into my life at a time that everything was just...so hard.  I needed something to give me hope, and I got it that day."

 

"I'm sorry," Nicole replies.  She finally looks over at Waverly just in time to prepare herself as Waverly etches her fingers towards Nicole's hand.

 

Waverly smiles and shakes her head in small protest.  She says, "Don't be sorry."

 

"And your parents?" Nicole asks.  Waverly stills then, fingers hooking gently around Nicole's.  Not knowing how to react, she drops her chin towards her chest to look at their hands.  Slowly, she turns her hand over beneath Waverly's and immediately sweeps a thumb over Waverly's knuckle.  "I'm sorry.  That's a really personal question."

 

"No, it's okay," Waverly reassures, "They...didn't care about me.  It was a long time ago.  It's not a big deal."

 

"I care about you," Nicole says.

 

Immediately kicking herself for letting those particular words fall out of her mouth, she searches Waverly's face for some kind of reaction.  There's a small smile toying on Waverly's lips, a shy look to accompany it, but she doesn't immediately respond.  Instead, she leans a little against Nicole's side and watches a pair of birds chase each other in the air.  As Waverly lifts her hand, Nicole realizes Waverly is draping Nicole's arm around her shoulders.  Waverly only squeezes Nicole's hand tighter in the process.

 

Nicole Haught is in trouble.

 

-

There's really so much going on, between work at Shorty's, fixing up the barn, making the homestead livable, and getting the pasture prime for wheat, that Waverly really doesn't have a minute to spare thinking about a certain woman who is far, far out of her league.  The part that really gets her the most is that they've spent enough time together that she really should have Nicole's phone number by now but, for some stupid reason, she hasn't asked and neither has Nicole.  So, instead, she has to keep coming up with excuses to run into Nicole.  Which isn't easy given the fact that Nicole is a police officer not quite grounded to a specific place at all times.

 

Waverly makes a bold decision to show up, uninvited, at the station with something for Nicole to eat.  Which is really a task in and of itself considering they haven't shared a meal together.  They've gone out for ice cream and coffee, shared stories that are deeply person, but never a meal.

 

She's actually told someone whose phone number she doesn't even have her best kept secret.

 

There was that one time Nicole called her for official police business, but from there on out it had only been face to face invites.

 

She gathers the sandwich she'd made and puts it into a styrofoam container.  Giving Gus a nod before she dips out, Waverly makes sure she has her purse and other items she'd brought in with her.  She isn't actually working today.  She only came into town to execute this plan.  She's really supposed to be working at the homestead, helping in updating things - finally meeting the man Wynonna has kept far, far away.

 

She heads down the street to the police station and enters with as much confidence in her shoulders as she can gather.  The walk down the hallway is insanely long, nearly encountering not a single other living person from the front door to the municipal building all the way to Nicole's desk.  She can't think straight, can't think about how this might actually result.

 Nicole could easily say no after Waverly told her the truth regarding her already having a soulmate.

 

She supposes that, overall, Nicole would have a lot of reasons why she wouldn't want to date Waverly.  One, Waverly already has a soulmate.  Two, she's never really dated a girl.  Three, maybe she just isn't Nicole's type.  She spends her entire trek into the station convincing herself with a long list of reasons why Nicole wouldn't feel anything for her.  This was a bad idea.

 

She rounds the corner into the station and sees an unsuspecting Nicole behind her desk, going through a stack of papers.  Waverly immediately forgets all of her doubts at the sight of her.  The taste of vanilla floods her mouth, taking over her senses.  For a moment, Waverly laments on how exactly Nicole could make that god awful uniform look so cute.

 

Her boots must echo loudly as she enters the room because Nicole looks up sharply, fused eyebrows and tight lips.  Watching her lips slowly part and her tongue dart out against them makes Waverly's head dizzy.  Have women always been this pretty, or is it just Nicole?

 

"Hi," Waverly says.  She feels like her voice is strained, quiet and inaudible as she struggles to get her breathing in order.  She hasn't seen Nicole since the weekend and she might have forgotten exactly how the woman makes her feel.  "I brought you some lunch."

 

"Lunch?" Nicole repeats.  Waverly smiles at the thought that perhaps she makes Nicole feel something, too.  The confident, charming woman sometimes resorts to repeating her like she can't even think about anything other than what is right in front of her.  "Is it that time already?"

 

"Well, I'm a little early," Waverly says.  She strolls to Nicole's desk with grace and extends the styrofoam container towards her.  Taking it and sitting it on an empty spot at her desk, Nicole gives Waverly a small wiggle of her eyebrows.  Leaning on the corner of Nicole's desk, she watches Nicole angle her chair more towards her.  "I didn't want you to have already eaten by the time I brought it to you."

 

"To be honest, I probably would have forgotten about lunch," Nicole admits.  Fighting the urge to reach out and touch Nicole, Waverly pushes her palms against the corner of the desk on either side of her hips.  "So, thank you."

 

"I wasn't sure what you like, other than boring chocolate chip ice cream," Waverly says with a small shrug, "So, I just threw some things together.  Hope you like pickles."

 

"Uh," Nicole hesitates, which makes Waverly suspect that Nicole doesn't actually like them at all, "Love them.  They're like the best sidekick to everything."

 

"You're lying," Waverly accuses with a small laugh.  Nicole isn't a very good liar for being a police officer.  Probably because she's just an all-around amazing person.  Waverly feels her mouth settle into a wide grin as she tilts her head.  "I think we should get dinner, you know, so I can learn more about what foods you like and I don't bring you something you hate again."

 

"I guess I could cancel my plans to arrest Wynonna tomorrow night," Nicole replies.  Shaking her head, Waverly feels upper body gravitate in Nicole's direction.  She thinks, maybe, perhaps, Nicole's leaning in, too.  Her heart stops beating in her chest - what if Waverly is a bad kisser?  "How do you feel about that place on Eighth and Main?"

 

It hits the spot.  Like, really, Nicole must be magical to have guessed, of all of the places in Purgatory, that is her favorite?  She's something really special.

 

"It's a good choice," she hums, "How about I give you my phone number and you can text me tomorrow?"

 

It's like Nicole has her phone out on the ready and she hands it over to Waverly.  The trust is evident to hand over such an important device, all unlocked and ready to go.  Nicole's phone background is a picture of the desert, orange mixing with blue for miles beyond miles, the slightest edge of a cliff present and a black rope leading off of the side.  It's beautiful.

 

She types in her number and immediately calls herself.  She feels her phone vibrate in her pocket.  Handing the phone back over to Nicole, she says, "And now I have yours."

 

Maybe she's better at this than she initially thought.

 

-

Painting Willa's old room is exhausting yet invigorating at the same time.  There are memories everywhere, memories that are no longer being preserved for a sister who essentially hates her.  Which always leaves Waverly unsettled because everyone likes her, everyone, except for her own sister.

 

Regardless, the homestead is finally livable.  Up to date plumbing, wiring in the walls, gutted room by room and then rebuilt with such speed and accuracy that it finally feels like something she could call home.  All she has to do now is get rid of this ugly wallpaper that has graced the walls her entire life.  If Willa ever does make it back to town, which is possible now that Wynonna is back, she is going to be pissed.

 

Maybe that's why Waverly paints the walls yellow, out of spite.

 

Just as she steps back to view her handiwork, her phone vibrates in her back pocket.  She sets the paint roller down in the tray and reaches into her pocket for her phone.  Looking at the screen, she sees that she's received a text from Nicole.

 

She had decided to leave it up to Nicole to text her.  She hadn't (until now).  All of the doubt and confusion regarding how Nicole might feel about her flees the forefronts of her mind as she unlocks her phone.

 

Nicole Haught : Is 7 ok?

 

Waverly types out a quick, 7 is perfect!

 

Nicole Haught : Can't wait. See you then!

 

-

Nicole feels a significant amount of pride course through her veins as Waverly's eyes widen while she soaks in the appearance of her house.  The look on Waverly's face is adorable - mouth slightly agape, eyes sparkling, lips turned upward.  Nicole has to steady herself despite the fact that she has clearly succeeded in impressing Waverly.

 

They had a solidly flowing conversation throughout dinner and had opted not to go to a movie after dinner so they could continue to talk.  Nicole doesn't know how to explain it, but she feels a connection with Waverly that she's never felt before.  The conversation comes easy, like a friend she's known for her entire life, and the sheer companionship just warms her.  She already cares for Waverly so much, and it's completely unexplainable.

 

Of course she recognizes a crush when she sees it.  She's had crushes on girls before (a guy one time, just once, and she doesn't mention it unless she absolutely has to), and she's even had a few meaningless relationships in the past.  This feels slightly different than a crush.  She tells herself, as Waverly settles her purse on the ottoman, that it's not really anything.

 

Nicole watches as Waverly traipses further into the living room, eyes still wide with curious youth.  She enjoys watching Waverly's curiosity enter the world; the curious woman's interest in anything and everything is liberating and welcoming.  Waverly reaches out and drags her fingertips over the spine of a few books hoisted on the shelving.

 

"Thank you for inviting me back," Waverly mutters.  Nicole can hear a bit of wonderment in her tone.  She forgets to chastise herself as she considers what it might feel like to have Waverly wrapped up in her arms.  "I really appreciate you being so, hm, kind."

 

"I'm really enjoying you, Waverly," she says, reassuringly.  Against her better judgement, she steps forward and closes the space between them.  She stands rather closely, too close, perhaps, close enough to feel Waverly's warmth.  She tucks her bottom lip between her teeth for just a moment as Waverly's finger hesitates on a much larger, much thicker spine.  "My photo album.  Want to have a look?"

 

"Could I?" She asks, voice slightly higher as she turns her head to glance at Nicole over her shoulder.  Waverly seems to notice how close they are, but she doesn't recoil.  She seems comfortable.

 

Nicole nods.  She says, "Of course.  Let me grab some drinks from the kitchen."

 

Waverly nods excitedly and grasps the book tightly.  Nicole, hesitantly, steps back and heads into the kitchen.  She exhales, realizing that maybe she had been holding her breath while in such close proximity of Waverly.

 

Once she's in the kitchen, a safe distance from Waverly, she leans heavily on the counter.  She doesn't want to have feelings like this.  Of course she's attracted to Waverly - Waverly is, well, attractive - but she knows that in a world like this, being with your soul mate is just better for everyone involved. Although she learned at 7 years old the blessing of seeing in color, she knows that not everyone gets that opportunity until they meet their soul mate.

 

She also knows that being rejected by a soul mate could have that luxury taken away, which would make not only her job but her position in society that much harder.  But, god, she likes Waverly.  She thinks Waverly is amazing and brilliant and gorgeous.  Waverly makes her feel safe and warm and makes her laugh so whole-heartedly that she feels something she's never felt before - peace.

 

She sucks in a deep breath and stands taller.  Reaching into her cabinet.  She fishes out two long stemmed wine glasses before searching for a bottle in the fridge.  She knows wine probably isn't the best idea, given the emotions she's already beginning to feel for this amazing woman, but she thinks it would help calm her nerves.  She pops the cork and pours two glasses, half full to not be too presumptuous, and stores the bottle back in the refrigerator.

 

Carrying the glasses into the living room, she pauses at the sight of Waverly sitting on her blue couch in a pair of floral pants and black top.  She sticks out against the furniture and Nicole briefly wonders if she sticks out in any room.  She knows that she seems to always be acutely aware of Waverly's presence.

 

When she finally forces her legs to move again, she notices Waverly is already looking in the album, fingers tracing outlines of figures in the photos.  Nicole can't help but smile at this inane movement.  She sets one glass on the coffee table in front of Waverly and sits on the couch across from her, settling into the corner.

 

"I hope red is okay," she mutters.

 

"Red is perfect," Waverly says with the widest smile she's ever seen on any person's face.  She has noticed that Waverly has a way of making people feel appreciated, like their efforts are recognized and good enough.  Waverly's eyes fall back to the photo album and she says, "Is this your brother?"

 

Nicole scoots a little more towards the center of the couch to get a better look.  She nods slowly and she says, "That's me and Colin when we went to the Grand Canyon.  He was terrified at the vastness of it."

 

"It seems daunting," Waverly absently agrees, voice sounding small, "I've never been."

 

"It's beautiful," Nicole says, "I went back a few years ago to go rock climbing at a place near there.  I think I nearly killed myself."

 

She laughs uncomfortably, a story she isn't sure she's ready to get into.  She doesn't want to burden Waverly with her dysfunction, with her problems.  Her life is both complicated and uncomplicated at the same time.

 

"You were so cute," Waverly says, gaze returning to the photo album.

 

Nicole can't help herself.  She says, "Were?"

 

"You know you're attractive, Nicole," Waverly says, a look of feigned disbelief touching her cheeks, "You shouldn't fish for compliments.  It's unbecoming."

 

She hums absently, but her grin betrays her.  She can feel her cheeks are warm, flushed from the way the compliment and reprimand combo makes her feel.  She's warm but she quickly blames it on the wine.  She sets her glass down on the coffee table as Waverly flips through the pages of the album.  She stops about halfway through, and Nicole's feelings about Waverly have suddenly faded and her disdain towards her parents replaces them.

 

"My parents," Nicole supplies softly, "We don't really speak, for a lot of reasons."

 

"Oh?" Waverly asks.  Her genuine interest shines through as she closes the album and settles it gently on the table.  She quickly takes a sip from her glass of wine and leans back into the cushion, getting visibly more comfortable.  "Can I ask why?"

 

"They weren't soul mates.  I mean, they loved each other, a lot, but there was something always missing.  When I was seven, I kind of met my soul mate," she says.  She smiles at the memory, fondly remembering the moment despite how badly she remembers feeling for the little girl.  It all seems hypocritical to be so disappointed about Waverly having a soulmate.  "I didn't tell them for a while, for a long time.  But when I told them that I didn't think my soul mate was a boy, a man, that I didn't find men attractive, their jealousy shifted to disappointment or hatred or...I left.  I survived."

 

"Are you happy?" Waverly asks.

 

Nicole looks at Waverly sharply, not quite expecting the question.  She can't remember the last time that someone asked her that.  It's been months, maybe years.  She's taken aback for a moment, rattled to her core as she thinks about how to answer the question.

 

She's always gone through life with this luxury that some people go their entire lives without, but she knows that one day it could be taken away if she happens to run into her soul mate again and her soul mate doesn't think she could love her back.  It's complicated.

 

But despite the complication, she says, "Yeah, I think I am."

 

"Your parents are really missing out, Nicole, you're amazing," Waverly says.  She feels Waverly's hand touch her knee, her gaze immediately landing on Waverly's twitching fingers.  She tightens her lips for a few moments, staring, only straightening when Waverly retracts her hand.  "Can I use your bathroom?"

 

"Oh yeah," she says, "I'll show you where it is."

 

She hops up off of the couch and gestures towards the hallway.  As Waverly stands, Nicole's hand absently presses into the small of her back.  She thinks for a moment that Waverly rests back against it, but the thought is fleeting as she steps towards the hallway to show Waverly the bathroom.

 

As Waverly smiles her thanks and disappears into the bathroom, the belief that Nicole could really keep herself from falling for this woman fades entirely.

Chapter Text

Waverly types out a quick text, Thanks for last night.

 

Nicole Haught : I really like spending time with you.

 

She tries to convince herself not to read too much into it. She has a lot to do today just around the homestead, like meeting Wynonna's friend who is going to teach them how to make stellar beer. But she's mildly distracted by thoughts of a certain police officer that is only proving to be the most amazing person Waverly has ever met.

 

She'd at first found Nicole refreshing. A new face, someone not confined to their role in the town and with a broader way of thinking. She was like a breath of fresh air, someone who had shown her it’s okay breathe while her head is above water. What Waverly Earp hadn't expected was to have unexpected feelings for Nicole. She's never really entertained having feelings for another woman but, if she really thought about it, she's never really remembered having true, honest feelings for anyone. Even when she had dated in the past, she had never truly thought anything would come of it.

 

What she's gotten with Nicole is so much more than she could have ever expected. She would be lying to herself if she said all of the times she reached out and took Nicole's hand it meant nothing to her. It had meant something. It had felt like her body was alive, like Nicole was the finest source of electricity and she was transferring it directly into Waverly's body through her fingertips. And, yet, Nicole has been nothing but polite. Maybe too polite.

 

Waverly as done the inviting. She's the one who has grabbed Nicole's hand. She's the one who has leaned her head on Nicole's shoulder. Hell, she's the one who has wondered what it would be like to kiss Nicole.

 

It's probably all been in her head.

 

Disappointed, Waverly tucks her phone into her back pocket and makes her way down the stairs. Wynonna is still passed out on the couch, most likely fighting off the remnants of a hangover. Waverly admires the way Wynonna can drink herself senseless and wake up the next day, ready to battle the world when most people are stuck in a near death experience. Thinking back, Waverly can't remember a time she's ever been to the point Wynonna could easily get every night.

 

Her phone vibrates in her pocket, alerting her of a new notification. She plucks it from the denim material and peers at the screen. She breathes out a massive sigh. It could be terror. It could be relief. She reads over the screen, finally deciding it's relief.

 

Nicole Haught : Bowling tomorrow night?

 

-

This guy, John Henry who insists on being called Doc (as in Doc Holliday), is a lot.

 

He doesn't seem like a bad guy, by any means, he's just particular.  Wynonna seems to like him in this weird way that Wynonna likes people.  Waverly doesn't dislike him.  He actually seems to be an incredibly nice guy.  And he has a killer moustache, if you're into that sort of thing.  But he's really intense in a way that you would want a business partner to be, not necessarily a lover.

 

If Wynonna is sleeping with him, Waverly hopes that she isn't anywhere near wherever it is they decide to get down.

 

"Miss Waverly," John says, politely but without feeling, "Do you have any thoughts on the matter?"

 

"Oh, no," she hums, "I'm just ready for us to get started."

 

He nods and gives her an attempt at a heart-warming smile.  She imagines Nicole's piercing smile, her dimples flashing so kindly that Waverly automatically smiles back.  She gives him a small wave and excuses herself into the house so that Wynonna can tell him goodbye in privacy.  She thinks it's better if she stays in the dark on the status of their relationship.

 

She busies herself with her phone, looking for some new vegan recipes that she can try out.  She isn't a great cook, but not for lack of trying.  She thinks, if everything goes right, she might have an opportunity at having more practice at cooking.  She's had a tiny kitchen and hasn't necessarily been able to cook for more than one.  Maybe Nicole will let her use her kitchen and make her dinner - her kitchen was rather large.

 

After a few minutes, Wynonna comes inside.  She looks slightly annoyed, but that's a rather normal reaction any time that she's spent an extended amount of time around people without alcohol.  However, when Wynonna makes eye contact with Waverly, she finds a genuine smile.

 

"Gettin' started on Monday," Wynonna announces, "You ready?"

 

"Yep," Waverly says, standing upright and hiding her phone away.

 

Wynonna begins muttering about not having enough donuts on hand.  Expelling a breath, she tries to steady her nerves.  She's been putting this off for weeks, talking to Wynonna, when she knows that she really should have a long time ago.  She honestly just doesn't even really know what's happened to her.  She's always played by the rules, but she wants. Itching more to pretend that the soulmate problem isn't an issue.

 

"Can I talk to you?"

 

"You know you can always talk to me, baby girl," Wynonna says with a sigh.  She mutters, "Wish I had something to eat."

 

"I'll take you to breakfast," Waverly says, "Just let me get this out."

 

"Seriously, what is it?" Wynonna asks, not annoyed but impatient.  Waverly thinks she sees a flash of terror on Wynonna's face.

 

"There's this girl," she starts.  Leaning heavily against the counter, she drops her gaze to her fingers and inspects her nails.  She doesn't know why she's so nervous.  Wynonna is the most open thinker she knows.  "And I...I like her.  She's amazing.  I think that she likes me, but I don't know for sure."

 

"Are you asking me for advice?" Wynonna asks, voice louder than necessary.

 

"No!" Waverly yells defensively.  She snaps her gaze up to Wynonna.  Her face lacks judgment, just curiosity.  "I don't know.  Maybe.  We've been spending time together but nothing's happened.  I just feel like, maybe, I'm scared."

 

"Does she know?"

 

"Yeah," Waverly answers.  She told Nicole about her meeting her soulmate when she was just 4, not knowing what it meant and never seeing who it was.  That didn't scare her off, not necessarily.  She also knows that Nicole has met her soulmate, when she was also a little girl, but moved around so much that she has no clue who it might be.  "Do you think...if I met them again, I would know?"

 

"Like your soul would recognize theirs without the dead giveaway?" Wynonna says.  Waverly nods slowly.  She hasn't ever cared about the person she was casually dating enough that them not being her soulmate was a non-issue.  "I don't know.  It was different for me.  I met Doc and there was this uncertainty.  I don't really have a strong attachment to him.  I can't explain it.  But I feel like when you want someone, your body just knows, and isn't that more important than this whole soulmate shtick?"

 

"So what do you think I should do?"

 

"I think you should do whatever makes you happy."

 

-

Oh god, Waverly is nervous.

 

She's really nervous.  More nervous than the time she lost her virginity to Champ in the back of his truck.  He had been selfish and made it clear that he was only there for himself.  That had made Waverly nervous, but in a different way.

 

Nicole makes her nervous...in a good way.  Like, maybe for the first time, she's being true to herself.  The best part of it all is that she doesn't even like bowling.  Maybe because that god awful field trip in the 6th grade.  But she feels like whatever Nicole were to ask her to do she would have readily agreed.

 

She smooths out her pants- a pair of dark, floral pattern pants with pockets where she can store her hands in the event that they try to wander freely.  She taps on the steering wheel for a few moments as she looks for Nicole's car in the parking lot.  Will she be driving the cruiser or that old Honda that was parked outside of her house?

 

She can't spot either one of the vehicles parked outside of the bowling alley on the outskirts of town.  It does nothing for her nerves.  She closes her eyes and immediately hears a sharp tapping against the window.  Letting out a shocked breath, she hears the door pop open.  The cold air assaults her briefly before something blocks it.

 

"Waverly Earp," a playful hum cuts through her thoughts.

 

"Nicole, Jesus," Waverly says, turning her head to look at Nicole, "You scared me."

 

"Who else were you meeting here?" Nicole asks with a grin.  Waverly immediately shakes her head at Nicole's jest.  "I could have come get you."

 

"I didn't want you to drive all the way to the homestead," Waverly admits.

 

"Next time," Nicole says.

 

Lighting up at the prospect of next time, Waverly turns her body more fully to look at Nicole.  Nicole offers her hand out for Waverly like she's going to help her down out of her Jeep.  It's a comforting gesture.  She slips her hand into Nicole's and drops down out of the car.  Once the door is closed, they head inside.

 

The bowling alley is not very busy.  For such a small town with not a lot to do, the bowling alley has never really been much of a hangout spot.  The people of Purgatory tend to spend their time doing something else, even with the bowling alley being right here to offer entertainment.  The bowling alley barely even makes enough money to stay afloat, but they did just get a new jukebox - one of those TouchTunes.

 

Nicole holds open the door for Waverly to go through.  Feeling Nicole's hand press against the base of her spine, a jolt of electricity causes her body to twitch.  She hopes it's discreet.  The door closes behind them and the warmth of the building replaces the cold from outside.

 

"I'm not very good at this," Waverly admits.

 

She looks over at Nicole as they approach the counter.  Her eyes give Nicole a full sweep.  Nicole's black pants are tight around her legs, exhibiting the muscle she has in them, and her blue shirt compliments her pale skin and red hair.  Waverly feels herself staring as she nearly walks right into the counter.

 

"It just takes practice," Nicole says.

 

Getting their shoes, they head to their assigned lane and take a seat.  Waverly feels Nicole's knee against hers as they change into their bowling shoes.  Nicole quickly stands, Waverly misses the contact, and types their names into the screen.  Kindly, Nicole let's her go first.

 

"Pick your ball, Waves," Nicole suggests as she hovers above her.  Waverly's eyes trail over Nicole's socks, a simple white stopping just below her ankle bone, and move over Nicole's calves.  The pants accentuate her muscles and curves, the hem of her blue button up shirt just over the waist of her pants.  Waverly gulps as her eyes meet Nicole's.  "Everything okay?"

 

"Fine," she says.  Smiling, she stands up and bumps Nicole's hips with her own.  She's so close to Nicole that she can't seem to think, eyes zeroing in on her mouth.  Those lips still look so warm.  She's pretty sure that she feels Nicole's fingers brush over her hipbone but perhaps she's imagining it.  "Which ball do I need to get?"

 

Reluctantly, she steps away from Nicole.

 

"You've really never done this before, have you?" Nicole says, following her.

 

Giving Nicole a playful squint of her eyes and a light shake of her head, she replies, "Once.  Like six years ago.  It was awful."

 

"Then why didn't you say you wanted to do something else?" Nicole asks with a laugh.

 

"What?  I was excited.  You just might have to teach me," she answers.  Wiggling her eyebrows, a little suggestively, she finally takes a look at Nicole who has a small smirk on her face.  They grab their balls and head back to their lane.  Nicole deposits her ball into the ball return chamber.  Before Nicole can step away, Waverly reaches for her sleeve and keeps her from getting too far away.  "Please help me."

 

"Of course I'll help you, Waves," Nicole replies.

 

Waverly feels her chest swell at the nickname.  Nicole has called her that a couple of times and she really likes the way it sounds coming out of her mouth.  Smiling softly, Waverly watches as Nicole repositions the ball in her hands before moving slowly behind her.

 

Waverly Earp knows exactly what she's doing.  She used to make Wynonna bring her here every weekend when she was 11.  Wynonna would play arcade games while she taught herself how to bowl so she wouldn't be embarrassed again in the event of another class field trip at the bowling alley.  She referred to it as research.  Which is exactly what this is.

 

But, when she feels the expanse of Nicole's body press against her back, she thinks she has completely forgotten how to bowl.  Nicole's helping hand circles her wrist while the other hand slides to her hip, holding her carefully in place.  She can feel Nicole's chin against her shoulder, breath sticking to her neck, and she swallows thickly.

 

"Just take it easy," Nicole says, barely audible, "Don't rush it.  You want to look at the second set of arrows and release the ball like you're going for a handshake."

 

"Handshake," Waverly repeats with a slow nod.

 

Nicole urges her forward, fingertips soft against her wrist as they etch towards the lane together.  Steadying her breath, Waverly finds that Nicole is no longer touching her and she misses her warm hands.  She releases the ball and watches it glide down the lane.  Ball colliding with the pins, 9 of them topple over.  She turns with awe in her face, Nicole nodding with a grin.

 

"You did it!" Nicole exclaims, "You're a natural."

 

"Or I just had a very good teacher," Waverly placates.

 

"You flatter me, Waverly Earp," Nicole mutters.  Holding her hand up, Nicole offers Waverly a small smile as Waverly slaps her palm against Nicole's.  She would have preferred a victory hug.  "You've just got one more pin.  You can do it."

 

"Can you show me?"

 

Nicole smirks and steps forward as the ball tumbles against the ball return.  Nicole reaches for it and hands it over to Waverly's waiting hands.  The ball feels heavy all of a sudden, like the added weight of wanting to kiss Nicole has doubled.  Once she has her fingers placed properly into the holes, she turns to face the pin.

 

The feeling of Nicole's hand circling her hips nearly makes her drop the ball.  Briefly, she thinks about them doing this again months from now, Waverly freely touching Nicole however she pleases, kissing her softly between their turns.  With Nicole's hands on her hips she begins to move forward, but Nicole's fingers slide around to her torso and keeps her from moving.

 

"Impatient," Nicole teases.

 

"Nicole," she mutters, feeling inspired by Nicole's hands circling her waist, "Is this a date?"

 

Warm breath skates over her skin, a deliberate movement from Nicole to steady herself.  For a moment, Waverly thinks Nicole is going to step back and put some distance between them.  She braces herself for Nicole's fingers to trail solemnly over her stomach as she retracts her hands.  Waverly drops her head, readying her disappointment.

 

"Do you want it to be a date?" Nicole whispers.

 

Her voice sounds scared, like Waverly encompasses all of her hopes in dreams in that moment.  The zoo inside of her erupts into a chorusing cheer that has her nearly screaming yes! right then and there.  But she doesn't.  She manages to keep herself calm and, for all intents and purposes, collected.

 

"I like the way it sounds," Waverly admits.  She thinks she can feel Nicole smile beside her, her fingers fluttering lightly against Waverly's stomach.  Again, she imagines what it would be like to kiss Nicole out here, in the open, for everyone to see.  Warm, soft lips against her own.  "On a date with Deputy Sheriff Nicole Haught."

 

"Uh, Waves," she says softly, "Not in uniform.  You don't have to call me that."

 

"Okay, but," she argues, "It just sounds so cool."

 

"Okay," Nicole laughs quietly relenting.  Her hands loosen on Waverly's stomach as she feels Nicole pulling her hands back to her hips.  The gentle touch is suddenly gone and Waverly feels herself pouting when, suddenly, there's a strong tap on her ass.  "Throw your ball down the lane, you liar."

 

When she turns to look at Nicole, Nicole is no longer standing directly behind her.  She can't help but scoff at the way Nicole is staring at her, watching her with those brown eyes.  She truly thought she was convincing in her act of not knowing how to bowl, but clearly Nicole is more perceptive than she thought.  She concedes and takes the rest of her turn, knowing full well that she's going to put on the best show possible.

 

-

 

With the knowledge that Waverly wants this to be a date, that Waverly maybe wanted all of those other times to be a date, Nicole now knows that she can stop wondering what all of those touches meant.  No longer is she thinking that Waverly, nicest person in Purgatory, was just being her friendly self.  Of course, sliding hands together has never really been something that Nicole has done with just friends, but she's seen some girls do it.  Up until this confirmation, Waverly asking her if this was a date, she had just told herself to let it go on as long as possible.

 

She doesn't know the type of people Waverly has dated in the past, but she suspects that she hasn't really had a lot of options.  They haven't really discussed their dating history, and Nicole isn't entirely sure that's necessary.  Besides, her history is a whole lot of things she doesn't really want to get into.

 

Even then, staring at Waverly Earp while she throws a bowling ball down a narrow lane and her pins crash into a loud heap at the back of the enclosure feels different somehow.  She likes Waverly, a lot.  She likes the way that when Waverly smiles it brightens a room.  She likes that Waverly is probably the smartest person she knows.  She likes that Waverly is so kind.  She likes everything about Waverly.  In fact, the only thing she probably doesn't like Waverly is that the universe decided she isn't Waverly's soul mate.

 

And she thinks long and hard about that.  She thinks about how she could really fall in love with Waverly, how it would be so easy to just be happy and be with Waverly and be a big cop in the small town while they become a big part of each other's lives.  Maybe she has too much free time while she sits on the edge of town and waits for someone to speed past her cruiser.

 

Maybe she doesn't think about any of that when Waverly Earp gets her first strike of the night.

 

Waverly turns so quickly on her heel, mouth open and eyes glinting with excitement.  Nicole stands, no, jumps to her feet with closed fists in the air and Waverly's excitement is easily transferred to her even with the space between them.  It's the victory smile that drives Nicole to forget everything else, the crashes and booms of pins being knocked over, the bright lights in the bowling alley, the fact that their souls have been bound to other people at the mercy of the universe, as she steps onto the slick wood.

 

Hip bumping the ball return, she slips her hands to Waverly's waist and tugs her close - very close.  Instantly, adrenaline pumping, she lifts Waverly from the floor.  It's this movement that makes Waverly's breath audibly catch in her throat, her slender fingers cupping Nicole's face.  In that moment, they make a mutual decision - an unspoken understanding.

 

Her grasp on Waverly's waist slips just enough that there's a slight tap of the toes of Waverly's bowling shoes on the wood floor.  Tilting her chin down, nose bumping against the nose belonging to the slim woman in her arms, she gulps deeply.  Nicole Haught finally does something she has thought about for weeks.

 

Breath mingling, her lips settle on Waverly's soft edges.  The dainty feel of finger nails scratching against her jaw and hooking around her neck causes a distracting shiver to trickle down her spine.  A force drives her deeper - a slight arch of Waverly's hips into hers as her fingers clutch the material of Waverly's top in her hands, causing the shirt to expose Waverly's skin.  The pad of her pinky finger smooths over the skin, lips parting against Waverly's.  Sweeping her tongue across Waverly's bottom lip only causes a quiet pant to slip out from Waverly’s mouth, urgency rising.

 

Waverly's lips part, offering her a warm invitation.  When their tongues touch, Nicole tastes spearmint and it's smooth, refreshing.  She can't help the smile that tugs at the corners of her mouth, tongue absently stroking Waverly's.  The push of Waverly’s tongue draws her in, fingers beginning to slip beneath the hem of Waverly’s shirt.  It takes her a few seconds to realize she isn’t breathing.

 

Waverly whines when she pulls back, forehead pressing against hers, muttering a breathless, "Wow."

 

"Was that okay?" Nicole whispers back.

 

"That was..." Waverly trails off, sucking in a deep breath, "Wow."

 

"Good wow?"

 

"Best wow," Waverly admits.  Lowering Waverly to her heels, Nicole releases her.  She can't fight the grin widening across her mouth, a place that she can still feel the ghost of Waverly's kiss on her lips.  She hopes she doesn't look smug.  "I hope there's more where that came from."

 

Nicole laughs softly, thinking that she could truly be happy with this woman.  She must hesitate for too long because Waverly’s saying, “How did you know I was lying?”

 

“What?”

 

“About knowing how to bowl,” she elaborates. 

 

“Hate to break it to you, Waves,” she says, grin splitting her dimples wide open as Waverly steps down from the wood and onto the tile, “But this isn’t my first date.  And I know when a girl is lying to me.” 

 

“Nicole Haught,” Waverly hums.  Deft fingers wrap around the front of her shirt and her eyes drop to where Waverly is clasping the material in her hand.  Nicole has an extra two inches on Waverly from the flooring difference and Waverly’s cute little grin hits her right in the heart.  Cocking her head to the side, she leans a little closer, settling her hand on Waverly’s forearm.  “Are you saying you’ve taken other girls on dates before?” 

 

She nods sheepishly, leaning down as her fingers slide up to Waverly’s elbow.  She says, “But none of them were as pretty as you.” 

 

Seeing Waverly falter under her gaze really makes her want to kiss her again.  Taking a look around the place, she notices that there are a few people casting glances in their direction.  She’s been the talk of the town, but she isn’t sure if she wants to cause Waverly that kind of annoyance…anymore.  Without a doubt, someone saw that kiss and it’s going to spread like wildfire. 

 

“Hey,” Waverly interrupts her thoughts, hand reaching up towards her face.  Tucking a loose hair behind Nicole’s hair, Waverly directs her attention back to her.  The smile on Waverly’s face makes it really difficult to remain level-headed.  “Don’t worry about them.” 

 

“Waverly,” she says forcefully, stepping down from the wood surface to get close enough that she doesn’t have to speak loudly, “We’re not each other’s soulmates.  I kissed –“

 

“I kissed you back.”

 

“Okay,” she says, voice steady, “You did, but isn’t this going to be a problem?”

 

“I have a plan,” Waverly says.

 

“Okay…what’s the plan?” Nicole asks with a firm nod. 

 

“I’m not going to let it be a problem,” Waverly replies with a smirk. 

 

Nicole shakes her head lightly, unable to fight the smile etching its way into her face.  Forgoing her better judgment, perhaps because she’s unable to help herself, she lifts her hands to Waverly’s hips.  She looks passed Waverly, taking in the strobe lights teasing the wall behind her.  She considers what it might be like not to see those colors anymore.  She tries to imagine the world being in black and white.  Looking at Waverly again, she thinks that might be okay.

 

Sighing, she pushes her hands around Waverly’s waist and brings her a bit closer.  With the feel of Waverly’s hands circling her biceps, with a moment for her to gawk at the muscles beneath her fingertips, Nicole feels a blaze light within her.  It’s hot and unrelenting, like she feels the rays of the sun inside of her, bringing her to a happiness she’s never known before. 

 

“You’re extraordinary, you know that?” 

 

“I’m just doing what I want for a change,” Waverly admits. 

 

Gulping, Nicole says, “I’m what you want?”

 

“More than anything,” Waverly says shyly, dropping her chin and casting her eyes away. 

 

Giving in to the urge, Nicole quickly lifts her index finger to Waverly’s chin and tilts her head upward.  When their gazes lock, Waverly smiles that nice smile that opens her up to other worlds.  Nicole kisses her again. 

 

The kiss will linger on her mouth for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Upon receiving Waverly's text asking her to come to Shorty's, Nicole promptly found a pair of jeans and a shirt to rush right over. Since kissing Waverly at the bowling alley a few days ago, they've simply exchanged a few texts because their schedules haven't overlapped properly. She's been working the morning shift while Waverly has been closing the bar down. She'd only been home from work for about an hour when Waverly's text came through, and she jumped at the chance to see her again.

 

The moment she steps into Shorty's she catches a glimpse of the pretty girl who has quite possibly stolen her heart. Every time she doubts anything at all, she looks at Waverly and forgets the doubt entirely. Waverly, with her long hair and her world changing smile, turns away from an already slurring table just at the right moment. Nicole barely reacts in time, catching Waverly by the hips and taking a step back before a collision ensues; meanwhile, she pretends not to hear the comment from the slurring table about Waverly's ass.

 

Although she normally respects boundaries such as workplace professionalism, the longing that has taken up residence within her wins out. One hand on Waverly's hip, the other straying upward until she can push the hair from Waverly's face, she leans down to connect their gazes. The waning smile on Waverly's face, the bright one that was mere nanoseconds ago fading into a clear annoyance, quickly tugs upwards as realization hits.

 

"Hey," Nicole mutters softly.

 

The bar is not yet erupting with customers, not so much that a slight delay in Waverly's movements will cause her the entire night of playing catch up, but there are a few patrons engaged in drunken activities. Nicole's typical mode of upholder of the law needs to be bitten down, pushed away from the surface so she can live a little. She gets that...in a way.

 

Tucking the strands of hair behind Waverly's ear, Nicole begrudgingly retracts her hand from the warm cheeks. It takes her a moment before she leans back, but an over excited Waverly reaches to her sides and leans her direction. The fingers along Nicole's ribs causes a tickle to flutter from her skin to her nerve endings, a gentle laugh tumbling out of Nicole's mouth.

 

"Hi," Waverly finally greets, voice so soft that it almost gets swallowed up in the space between them.

 

Waverly's hands falter as she pulls away, like something inside of her clicks, and she instead hooks her fingers around Nicole's. Stepping from beneath Nicole's fingertips and increasing the space between them, Nicole's body instantly follows without the intended tug that would inevitably coax her forwards. She follows Waverly's lead towards a hole in the wall, a door with a sign that says 'employees only' theatrically placed towards the corner of the room behind the billiards table. Once pushing the door open, Waverly steps onto a strong, wooden platform but the sound doesn't manage to touch Nicole's ears until her boots echo against the building material.

 

The door swings shut behind them, effectively drowning out the chatter from the bar crowd, and Nicole is instantly filled with the urge to pull Waverly in close. She thinks through their filed away interactions and quickly realizes that she's never really hugged Waverly before. They've kissed a few times (4, to be exact), but she's never had the sparkle encompassed in her arms.

 

"I like this," Waverly murmurs, reaching up and running her hands through the ends of Nicole's hair. It's halfway down her back now and she's been thinking about cutting it. It takes a long time to put it into a braid and it would get in the way at work without it. "I like seeing you."

 

"I'm sorry," Nicole breathes out, "I have a few days off coming up. I promise we'll see each other again. I'm not avoiding you."

 

"I was thinking I could make you dinner," Waverly says.

 

"Sure, Waves," Nicole replies with a small smile. The tips of Waverly's fingers move slowly down her side, palm slowly flattening against Nicole's rib cage. It tickles again and she squirms a little beneath Waverly's hands, the other hand quickly joining on the other side.

 

"At your place?" Waverly adds.

 

"Anything you want," Nicole replies easily.

 

Waverly smirks at this. The tight grasp on her shirt beneath the lapels of her jacket tugs her forward. Moving willingly, she can feel the ghost of Waverly's lips against her when the hinges behind them creak and tears her away from her concentration.

 

"What are you doing in here?"

 

Waverly groans with her obvious annoyance and Nicole's heart leaps into her throat. Glancing at Waverly, she sees her gaze narrow before she smiles teasingly. For just a moment, Nicole feels a little bit scared of the woman - more scared than all of the stories combined she's heard about Wynonna.

 

"Employees only," Waverly barks, "Can't you read?"

 

"Haught's not an employee," Wynonna replies with a sharp finger pointed at Nicole, a triumphant look on her face.

 

"Whatever," Waverly says with a roll of her eyes, "She's here to drive you home."

 

"She is?" Wynonna asks at the same time Nicole says, "I am?"

 

"You're drunk," Waverly points out, "I took your keys an hour ago. When I tried to cut you off, you managed to trick others into buying you drinks."

 

"It's only seven," Nicole mutters. Confusion takes over her face, a light shake of her head momentarily blurring her vision. Her glance flits from Wynonna to Waverly as she blinks to understand how the hell Wynonna is drunk already. "How?"

 

"She likes to start early," Waverly supplies.

 

"Hey," Wynonna whines, "I'm a paying customer."

 

"Your tab hasn't been paid. Ever," Waverly says with a sigh. Feeling Waverly's hand wrap around her arm, she slowly becomes aware that Wynonna is swaying slightly. Wynonna has already proved to her that she can drink. A slight tug on her arm encourages her to look more fully at Waverly. "Nicole, please."

 

"Of course, Waves, anything," Nicole agrees.

 

"Fine," Wynonna huffs, immediately turning around and heading back into the bar. The doors creaks shut on its hinges and Waverly's hand on her arm disappears. Slightly disappointed, Nicole turns her body more towards Waverly, lifting her arm to wrap it around Waverly. The door opens again, Wynonna yells, "You're needed."

 

Waverly growls at the interruption. Her fingertips wrap around Nicole's as she breezes past. Nicole quickly follows Waverly back into the bar area where the crowd is significantly larger.

 

"Come on, Wave, one more drink," Wynonna begs.

 

"One more," Waverly says sternly, "But then Nicole is taking you home."

 

“Well, well, well,” comes a deep, interrupting voice, “Look who we have here.”

 

Nicole doesn’t bother sitting on the stool she had initially been aiming for at the sound of Champ’s voice. His hands come to rest on the bar top between Nicole and Wynonna, leaning heavily against the wood. Nicole can tell that Champ is already drunk. She doesn’t need a breathalyzer to detect that he’s already had a few too many.

 

“Champ Hardy,” Nicole grounds out.

 

"Officer Haught," he baits, "I should have known I'd find you wherever Waverly is."

 

"Fuck off, Hardy," Wynonna barks.

 

"I heard about the bowling alley," he teases Nicole, quite clearly ignoring Wynonna, “How you can't keep your hands to yourself...Practically accosted Waverly in public."

 

"You're one to talk," Nicole finally replies, "You clocked Waverly a few weeks ago, if I'm remembering correctly."

 

"I've done a lot of things to Waverly," Champ replies with a smirk.

 

Nicole stands taller, throwing her shoulders back at the lewd tone in Champ’s voice. She looks down her nose at him, jaw clenching tight, and she huffs out of her nose. Catching Champ’s scummy smirk growing, she follows his gaze to see him leering at Waverly who isn’t paying attention to what’s going on because she’s too busy serving drinks.

 

“I don’t really think that’s necessary,” Nicole replies.

 

“She didn’t tell you,” he says with a bellowing laugh, eyes turning towards her accusingly, “The things she let me do to her...”

 

Hand balling into a fist at her side, she stares passed Champ at a seemingly oblivious Wynonna. She’s distracted by a drink or two being passed to her and Nicole wishes that Wynonna were sober enough to stayed focused because she’s about two seconds away from punching this guy. He’s still rambling, but she isn’t really hearing the words coming out of his mouth.

 

Somewhere between his boastful ‘fucked her’ and ‘sloppy seconds,’ Nicole gives up the jig. She lifts her balled up fist into the air and slams him square in the nose. Knuckles screeching out in pain, she watches as Champ stumbles into Wynonna who elbows him to the floor without even looking. The bar keeps moving around her as Champ’s buddies circle him and she waves her hand out in the air beside her, Wynonna looking at with a sharp, narrow gaze.

 

“Come on, Wynonna,” she mutters, stepping over Champ’s foot and heading towards the door. She doesn’t bother looking behind her, looking at the scene of the crime or at Waverly. She can only hope that Wynonna is actually catching on that they are leaving. S he gets into her cruiser and is relieved when she sees Wynonna climbing into the passenger seat.

 

“What the fuck was that, Haught?” Wynonna grumbles.

 

“That was Champ fuckin’ Hardy running his damn mouth about Waverly,” Nicole replies flatly, “He had it coming.”

 

“I’m all for flattening that slime ball to the ground,” Wynonna says.

 

Nicole knows she’ll have a lot of explaining to do next time she sees Nedley.

 

She pulls the car into the nearly empty street and heads towards the edge of town. She sighs when she reaches a stop sign, letting the car idle. She says, “You’re going to have to direct me to your house.”

 

“Right,” Wynonna hums. It’s then that she notices Wynonna is starting to fiddle with things in the dashboard.

 

“Don’t touch,” Nicole says, reaching forward and swatting Wynonna’s hand. Wynonna instantly pouts. Nicole realizes this is going to be a long drive, especially with the throbbing over her hand.

 

-

Surprised to see the cruiser still parked outside of the homestead, Waverly double checks the time. It’s nearly 3am and she wonders why exactly she’s still here. Not that she is necessarily disappointed at the prospect of seeing Nicole. They've been exchanging text messages but nothing that particularly merits anything substantial. They hadn't had plans since the bowling alley, not that Waverly hasn't been thinking about their kisses, and their opposite work schedules hasn't really allowed them to cross paths.

 

Preparing herself for whatever sight she might walk into, she enters the homestead as quietly as she possibly can. Her body is tired because she hasn’t necessarily been getting much sleep between the bar and dealing with Wynonna’s business venture which easily counteracts her trying to be as quiet as possible. She’s sure that she’s infinitely louder than she intends to be. Closing the front door behind her, she notices the soft glow of the television screen. She doesn’t recognize the moving pictures on the screen, but it’s in black and white.

 

Approaching the coffee table with caution so she can find the television remote, she pauses when her eyes land on Nicole. Nicole is spread across the couch, the glow highlighting the outline of her face, and she looks almost uncomfortable. Waverly feels her heart speed up a little as she peers over her. She’s spent a lot of time thinking about Nicole, maybe more than anyone else.

 

Bending down, Waverly presses her fingers into Nicole’s stomach. Trailing them along her waist where her shirt has ridden up just a little, pads of her fingers etching along skin, she absently slips her fingertips under the hem of Nicole’s shirt. Nicole’s breathing changes just a little which prompts Waverly to think she isn’t in as deep a sleep as she originally thought. She lightly presses a kiss against Nicole’s cheek. It enters her mind for the first time that she doesn’t even know what they are, just that she wants to kiss Nicole.

 

Stirring beneath her touch, Nicole twists, angling herself more towards Waverly. Feeling Nicole’s hand lift into the air and press into her arm, Waverly welcomes the warmth that comes next. With the turn of Nicole’s head, Waverly immediately feels soft, warm lips against her own. The kiss is soft, inviting, and Waverly leans more heavily against Nicole’s chest.

 

Nicole breaks away with a hiss. Waverly feels a thumb press hard into her arm, guiding her up. Concern spreads across her face as she looks over Nicole for some kind of inclination of what could possibly be wrong.

 

“My hand,” Nicole explains quietly, lifting her hand up just a little.

 

Waverly leans back, looking at her hand more fully. She hadn’t addressed Nicole knocking Champ on his ass at the bar earlier, doesn’t really know if she should be mad. She says, “What happened?”

 

“Champ was just running his mouth,” Nicole says, waving her hand in the air. Waverly notes a cringe on Nicole’s face with the movement. Whatever happened, Nicole must have really hurt her hand. “I had to shut him up.”

 

“Did you ice it?”

 

She nods slowly, sitting up a bit more, “Wynonna forced me to take shots to numb the pain.”

 

“Come here,” Waverly says, standing upright. She notes Wynonna is over on her makeshift bed, snoozing in such a dramatic way that Waverly has to swallow a laugh. Looking back at Nicole, Waverly offers a hand to help her with her struggle. “Let’s go have a look at this hand.”

 

Nicole hums her response, finally planting her feet in the floor. Waverly releases the grasp on her hand and motions for Nicole to follow her to the kitchen. Feeling some relief that Nicole has at least slept off some of the alcohol, Waverly flips on the light in the kitchen. Fetching something to ice Nicole’s hand, she turns to face her squinting eyes to fend off the light.

 

Bag of frozen vegetables in hand, Waverly approaches where Nicole sits at the kitchen table. The soft glow from the kitchen light creates a peaceful ambiance, one that is greatly disturbed when Waverly slides one of the chairs closer to Nicole’s. She reaches for Nicole’s hand and pulls it more into the light, getting a better view of the bruised knuckles. Waverly has heard about Nicole punching Champ for most of the night. They were mostly saying negative things about Nicole and Waverly had no choice but to keep her mouth shut on the matter.

 

“What did he say?” She finally asks.

 

“Nasty things,” Nicole replies with a shrug, “It’s fine now.”

 

“Baby,” Waverly warns, voice still quiet, the word slipping out from her mouth so naturally, “It isn’t fine. Champ is a real piece of work, but I know it takes a lot to get a rise out of you.”

 

Waverly only knows this based off of the interactions they’ve had. She is still getting to know Nicole, but she always seems so calm and collected. More so than most. Waverly really loves that about her.

 

A grin splits across Nicole’s mouth, dimples so deep that Waverly’s breath hitches in her throat. She says, “You called me baby.”

 

“Did I?”

 

“Yeah,” Nicole breathes out, “I liked it.”

 

“I like you,” Waverly counters. They settle into silence for a few minutes as Waverly presses the frozen vegetables to Nicole’s knuckles, the noise only interrupted by an occasional grunt of pain or annoyance eliciting from Nicole. Slowly lifting her gaze to Nicole, she says, “I can’t help but think you were defending my honor.”

 

“Well,” Nicole trails off.

 

“I don’t know why everyone always gets into such an upheaval about me and Champ. He’s just bitter,” Waverly starts. Thinking back to the time they dated, years ago, passing the time, Waverly remembers how he was such a jerk. He can’t even see in color. He’s never even met his soulmate. “He had a stick up his ass when we were dating and he’s a real jerk. I knew we weren’t meant to be together, but I was just so confused about everything.”

 

“Your soulmate?” Nicole asks.

 

“Yeah,” Waverly confirms, “It makes me lonely sometimes not knowing who it is. It isn’t fair to sit around and wait for someone I don’t even remember. Don’t I deserve someone?”

 

Tears cloud her vision, and she looks away from the beautiful woman before. She doesn’t want to make anyone see her like this, most of all Nicole. She feels a warm touch against her chin, boney knuckles directing her eyes to a pair of warm, brown ones.

 

“You deserve everything,” Nicole whispers.

 

The smile on Nicole’s face only makes Waverly smile in return. Watching as Nicole leans forward, Waverly braces herself for the contact she’s been thinking about all evening. Angling her face towards Nicole’s, gentle lips land on hers and kiss her reassuringly, warmly.

 

Her lips are wet when Nicole pulls back, resting her forehead on Waverly’s. It takes Waverly a moment to realize that her cheeks are also splattered with tears, that her eyes are spilling over with them. She sucks in a deep breath in an attempt to steady herself, Nicole’s good hand now absently wiping at a few wayward tears.

 

“I don’t deserve you,” Waverly says.

 

“Yes you do,” Nicole argues, “If anything, I don’t deserve you.”

 

“Do you think we can do this?” Waverly tries, “Do you think we can be together even if the universe doesn’t want us to?”

 

“Waverly,” Nicole says softly. Waverly blinks a few times, clearing her eyes of the tears that have gathered. Watching as Nicole pulls her hand from the frozen vegetables, Waverly feels confusion wash through her. Nicole’s hands wrap around her wrists and tugs her out of her cheer, guiding her into Nicole’s lap. “I think we could try. See what happens.”

 

Nodding excitedly, she feels Nicole’s arms wrap around her waist and pull her into Nicole’s chest. The warmth and security she feels instantly replaces any kind of thoughts about them not being soulmates. Smiling wider with Nicole’s arms secured around her, she leans her forehead against Nicole’s temple.

 

Nicole says, “Your sister seems to be the only person who hasn’t heard about the bowling alley.”

 

Laughing softly, Waverly pulls back to look more fully at Nicole’s face. She lifts a hand and drags her fingers across Nicole’s jaw. She could get used to the feeling of her skin. She says, “I talk about you all of the time. If she hasn’t figured it out, it’s because she’s not listening.”

 

“She’s something,” Nicole agrees.

 

Basking in Nicole’s touch, Waverly doesn’t press anymore. She’s never fully understood the concept of soulmates anyway, never really knew anyone who had even been with theirs. Soulmates were never discussed with her growing up and a lot of the people she knew were still happy. She could be happy, too.

 

“Stay,” Waverly mutters, “I’ll share my bed with you.”

 

“Okay,” Nicole slowly answers with a nod.

 

-

Waking up with Waverly in her arms is something else. Having woken up next to a handful of beautiful girls (5, to be exact, with a slight bit more amount of conquests), she would readily admit that Waverly resonates the best feeling inside of her. The warmth in her chest spreads into her bones, reverberating there like she’s never felt before.

 

As she’s blinking away sleep, slowly comes to the realization that the feeling in her chest in regards to Waverly might be more than she had previously thought. She had known that there were some feelings for Waverly, that much was clear, but this is something more. Obviously as their connection progressed, she had become more allowed to have feelings for Waverly and to act on them.

 

Waverly stirs slightly in Nicole’s arms. The action makes Nicole wake up a bit more and, checking her watch to see what time it is, outwardly groans. The sunlight is already pouring into the bedroom and she has a lot she needed to get done today around the house. However, her hand looks worse in the sunlight than it had in the soft glow of the kitchen light and the ache is so very bad in her bones.

 

Dropping her chin to Waverly’s shoulder, Nicole nuzzles there against the silk of her hair for a few moments before she stretches forward just a tad to press a light kiss to Waverly’s jaw. She knows they shouldn’t be together, not according to the universe, and from what she knows not being with a soulmate always ends badly. But Nicole really doesn’t want this to end.

 

“Waverly,” she says hoarsely, “Wake up. I have to go.”

 

Her hand aches from above her head as she peels her left arm off of Waverly. Rolling on to her back, she moves her right hand to her side away from possibly being accidentally hit. Waverly follows her movement, intent on throwing her arm across Nicole’s waist and coaxing her more firmly into place. Not that it would take much of an argument.

 

“No,” Waverly whines out, “You smell so nice.”

 

“Baby,” Nicole groans, testing out the name Waverly had let slip the night before, “I have to get up.”

 

“But you’re so warm,” Waverly hums, “I’ll be cold without you.”

 

Snorting a gentle laugh in response, Nicole presses the fingers of her good hand into Waverly’s back and smooths them over the expanse of her spine. Each vertebra is poignant and firm, announcing Waverly’s curve into Nicole’s side. She sighs as Waverly presses her fingers into Nicole’s hip, the sharpness of her nails momentarily digging into the skin as Nicole wiggles beneath Waverly’s touch.

 

She doesn’t even remember falling asleep the night before, but she remembers the weight pressed against her form. Falling asleep had been easy beside Waverly. Although it was perhaps the alcohol, the throbbing in her hand and managed to remain minimal. Even though she had a few shots before Waverly had gotten home, she hadn’t felt the effects of it by the time Waverly got home from work.

 

Really, she hadn’t meant to stay at the homestead so late...or at all. Wynonna and Waverly has one thing in common: they can both be quite persuasive. So, against her better judgment, she had appeased Waverly’s drunken sister and had a little bit of bonding time. That had not been intentional.

 

“I really have to go,” Nicole tries again. Waverly whines half-heartedly. She feels Waverly’s fingertips press directly into her skin just above the waist of her jeans. Pants hanging low on her hips, she turns more fully to face Waverly, her nose bumping against Waverly’s forehead. “Come over tonight?”

 

The question leaves her mouth, but she’s nudging Waverly’s forehead until she angles her mouth upward. Her lips descend upon Waverly’s, a light touch that lingers there for a few minutes. Waverly’s warm breath presses around her mouth as the heel of her injured hand pushes against the dip of her spine.

 

When she pulls away, Waverly gives a small nod of affirmation as she presses her hand against Nicole's sternum.

 

-

 

“Haught,” Nedley says gruffly from the doorway of his office, “Get your ass in here.”

 

Nicole stills in her movements. It’s been 2 days and her hand is still aching something fierce. It’s really a problem, the way that it’s now getting in the way of her being productive at work. Even if it is just doing paperwork. Not that she isn’t going to be in the cruiser after lunch.

 

She closes the file across her desk and leaves it behind to trail into the Sheriff’s office. She has an idea about why she’s being called into his office, the dull ache has been actively reminding her, but she doesn’t want to get defensive too soon. Realistically, it doesn’t matter what she says because, as long as it isn’t against the law, he makes the final call.

 

She enters his office, immediately obeying when he tells her to shut the door. She sits in the chair across from his desk, squirming a little in the work padding. She absentmindedly attempts to curl her hand around the armrest, obviously bruised around the knuckles, but the pain is too strong so she releases the flex. Shifting uncomfortably under Nedley’s gaze, she quickly retracts her hand from sight and holds it into her lap.

 

“Everything ok, Sir?” She finally mutters under his scrutiny.

 

“What happened to your hand?” He presses.

 

“Nothing,” she says too quickly. She sounds unconvincing, even to herself, and Nedley’s narrowing gaze makes her breath catch in her throat. Jaw tightening, he opts not to say anything further. She suspects that he knows exactly what happened to her hand. She sighs in defeat, saying, “It won’t happen again, Sir.”

 

“It’s a small town, Nicole,” he says evenly, but the use of her first name makes her feel like he’s trying to comfort her, “Word gets around fast. It’s been the talk of the town all weekend.”

 

“I...” she trails off, realizing there isn’t a single thing she could say to ease the trouble she’s in. She nods slowly. She says, “Was there a complaint filed?”

 

“You weren’t on duty,” he replies, simply, “But Mister Hardy had it coming for a long time. He gets away with it because everyone remembers him as an award winner, but he’s just a drunk now. He’s never had potential to be anything else.”

 

She nods slowly. She says, “I’m sorry, Sheriff. I just...he wouldn’t stop saying lewd things about women.”

 

“Woman,” Nedley corrects. She thinks she sees the hints of a smirk on his mouth. He knows way more than she’s comfortable with. “I need you to go to the hospital and get that hand checked out. You’re being unproductive.”

 

She swallows thickly. With a small nod, she pushes herself into a standing position and poises herself to leave his office. She turns her gaze away from him and opens the door, heading back to her desk to clear off all of the files.

 

Just as she stores the files away in her desk and turns the key, she hears the sound of shoes echoing down the hallway. She counts the seconds (1...2...3...4...), before Waverly enters with a radiant smile on her face. Nicole’s heart warms all too quickly and it leaves her brain completely void of words. Standing upright and shoving her keys into her pocket, she manages a smile.

 

“Hey, Waves,” she says. Her look must give her discomfort away since she last saw Waverly a few days ago because Waverly’s smile fades rather quickly. She must notice the way Nicole is babying her right hand close to her body. Nicole doesn’t give her a chance to say anything before she adds, “I’m actually headed out.”

 

“Is everything ok?” Waverly replies.

 

Nicole lifts her hand carefully, stepping a little closer to Waverly. Part of her doesn’t want to say it because they’ve been ignoring the topic of her hand quite well. She hasn’t actually seen Waverly since she left the homestead a day and a half ago, but their text conversations and phone calls have remained off the topic. Even if she could tell that Waverly’s been itching to ask.

 

“Nedley wants me to go to the hospital to get it checked out,” Nicole admits.

 

“I’m coming with you,” Waverly says without missing a beat.

 

“You don’t have to,” she replies.

 

“Nonsense,” Waverly says, all chipper with a shrug. Nicole smiles softly, already feeling guilty about wasting Waverly’s afternoon at the emergency room. Really wanting to put up a fight, she hesitates as Waverly digs her phone out of her purse, discarding a container onto the counter. “Just let me call Wynonna and let her know I won’t be back until later.”

 

“Waverly,” Nicole says sharply, trying to get her attention, “You really do not need to come with me to the hospital. It’s going to be boring. I could be there for hours. Emergencies take precedence over this. I’m going to be like an eleven on the priority scale.”

 

“But you’re a police officer,” Waverly argues.

 

Nicole can’t help the laugh that falls out of her mouth, finally stepping close enough to Waverly that she can reach out to touch her. Shaking her head, she places her good hand against Waverly’s shoulder before sliding it over her back. She says, “It doesn’t work like that. I have to wait just like everybody else.”

 

“Fine,” Waverly huffs, “But I’m still coming with you.”

 

Nicole, without any more persuasion, concedes. Stretching her arm across Waverly’s shoulders and guiding her out of the bullpen, she releases a sigh. She feels really lucky that Waverly cares about her so much in such a short time. She’s drawn to Waverly, heartbreakingly wishes that everything would work out the way that she wants it to.

 

“Do you mind driving me?” Nicole mutters. She sighs heavily, pushing away the thoughts of frustration that they don’t actually belong together and reminds herself that they’re still going to drive. When she looks over at Waverly, she fixes a smile on her face that is absolutely fool proof. Or so she believes. “I have a feeling that they’re going to drug me up and I shouldn’t drive myself.”

 

“Of course,” Waverly says with a smile. They walk down the hallway towards the parking lot, the sound of their footsteps pushing together as their strides match. It’s only when Waverly stops suddenly that Nicole’s arm falls from her shoulders, the question ‘what?’ dying on her lips. “How were you going to fill out paperwork?”

 

“Poorly,” Nicole admits with a smirk.

Chapter Text

Clipboard of paperwork clutched in her left hand, pen trapped beneath the springboard, she releases a heavy hearted sigh.  The waiting room is packed full with people coughing and sneezing, sleeping children resting against armrests.  Nicole absently checks her watch circled around her left wrist, noting the time puts them directly around noon, just passed it.  It suddenly dawns on her that the container of food Waverly brought to the station was left on the counter in their small argument about her accompanying Nicole to the hospital.

 

“Crap,” Nicole mutters.  Waverly looks at her sharply, confusion all over her face.  Stomach grumbling, their eyes connect and she feels a flush touch her cheeks, slightly embarrassed by her outburst.  “We left the food at the station.  I didn’t realize how hungry I am until just now.”

 

“Paperwork first,” Waverly replies quickly, a smile touching her mouth, “Then I’ll run to the cafeteria to grab you something.”

 

Nicole nods begrudgingly, resigning herself to an open seat near a bulky man below the television in the corner.  They are perhaps the only two seats available beside each other, possibly because the man is intimidating.  No sooner than she’s sitting down and pressing the clipboard to her thigh does Waverly pluck the pen into her hand.  Lowering herself into the seat beside Nicole’s chair, Waverly offers her a heart wrenching smile as she peels the clipboard from her grasp.

 

“Okay, name,” Waverly starts, voice soft yet commanding.  Nicole gives her a pointed look.  Sighing, Waverly turns her chin down and looks up at her through those long lashes.  Nicole’s heart skips a beat in her chest.  “Full name?”

 

She casts a glance to her right at the man beside her when she accidentally brushes her elbow against his.  His head is tilted back, resting on the wall, but she knows he isn’t asleep because his nostrils flare clearly annoyed.  She swallows and looks back at Waverly.  This is the most embarrassing moment of her life, isn’t it?

 

“Just let me,” Nicole replies curtly, reaching for the clipboard with her good hand.  She removes her arm from the armrest to cradle her right hand in her lap, but Waverly moves the clipboard just out of her grasp so she can’t reach it.  She relents again off of the pointed look she’s receiving as she huffs out a breath.  “My middle name is...”

 

“Nicole,” Waverly replies, “Just tell me.  You can tell me anything, baby.”

 

“It’s really embarrassing,” she admits.  Sighing deeply, she looks at the man beside her again and leans closer to Waverly.  She rests heavily on the left armrest, careful to keep her hand away from being smashed by her torso.  “My middle name is Gay.”

 

The sentence barely leaves her mouth and the muscular guy beside her is snorting out a laugh.  A scowl crosses her features as she tosses him a glare, immediately looking back at Waverly.  Waverly doesn’t sport any sort of reaction, just beautifully writes her name on the line of the piece of paper before looking up and offering her a small smile.

 

“Date of birth,” she hums.

 

“January fifth, nineteen-ninety,” she replies.

 

“Do you have your insurance card?” Waverly asks, quickly looking up from the paperwork.

 

Nicole gets lost on her for a second, the way Waverly’s jaw flexes as she swallows and how her hair frames her face.  Her lips part slowly, eyes tracing Waverly’s features in the bright, hospital waiting room lighting.  She doesn’t think she’s seen anyone more beautiful.

 

Standing, she gives Waverly a nod as she digs in her pocket for the wallet she carries on her at work.  It’s uglier than she likes, perks of the job, but it’s more practical than carrying her purse.  Pulling it out of her front pants pocket, she flips it open as she sits down and begins looking through it.  Noticing the struggle, Waverly takes over on the hunt for the insurance card.

 

With the insurance card in front of her, Waverly flies through a portion of the paperwork.  Nicole has to pay attention where she’s at on the paperwork to be sure to tell her about her allergies to medicine.  That would be a potential disaster.

 

Once they sort out all of the details of her family history and the like, she takes the clipboard from Waverly’s grasp and returns it to the nurse behind the counter.  Despite her police uniform, she knows she’s going to be waiting awhile.  When she turns to look, Waverly’s chatting with the gentleman who laughed while they were filling out her paperwork.  She frowns as she returns to her seat, easily breaking up the flow of the conversation between the two.  She has noticed that Waverly could easily make friends anywhere.  Why would Waverly pick her when she could have anyone?

 

“I’m going to run to the cafeteria to get some food for that angry stomach,” Waverly says.  Nicole has barely lowered herself into the uncomfortable seat when Waverly is standing up, reaching for that large purse of hers.  “It was lovely meeting you, Xavier.”

 

She leans down and presses a kiss to Nicole’s cheek before she takes off in a dash towards the hallway.  Nicole can’t really do anything but watch her leave as her brain slowly registers the entire scene.  She sighs, looking over at this Xavier guy to give him a glare.

 

“You laugh at me with a name like Xavier,” Nicole mutters.

 

“She’s a lovely girl,” he replies, “That your girlfriend?”

 

“Uh,” Nicole drawls out, uncertainty settling into her bones.  They’ve been on one actual date.

They’ve kissed a handful of times.  Waverly already seems so comfortable in whatever they are.  Nicole wants nothing more than to burst at the seams and tell everyone she has the most beautiful girlfriend in the Ghost River Triangle.  But, they haven’t talked about it.  She shrugs, adding, “I guess.  We haven’t really talked about it.”

 

“You might want to wife her up before it’s too late,” Xavier says.

 

“Excuse me?” She says quietly, leaning closer to him, “What does that mean?”

 

“Look,” he starts, taking a swift look around, “The government is making big changes and quick.  Anyone who is already married is grandfathered in, but otherwise...Anyone dating someone who isn’t their soulmate is going to suffer.”

 

She gulps.  She mutters a confused, “What?”

 

“A special division has been created, Black Badge, to enforce the laws of soulmates.  Anyone dating, not legally bound, to someone other than their soulmate will find themselves on the outskirts.  It’s going to be, well, it’s going to throw this country for a loop.  I shouldn’t be telling you this, but that girl is lovely.”

 

“Yeah,” Nicole hums.

 

She feels a worry settle into her bones, an annoyance taking over.  She’s been telling herself that there aren’t any real consequences of them being together if that’s what they wanted.  But now, god, the moment this thing breaks and they are caught they will both be punished for it.  She absolutely can’t let that happen to Waverly, no matter how much she might possibly love her.

 

“But, hey, you don’t even know if she’s your girlfriend,” Xavier adds with a laugh.

 

Glaring at him, Nicole leans on the armrest opposite of him and cradles her head in her good hand.  She huffs and puffs waiting for Waverly to return, actively ignoring the annoying man beside her.  Her heart aches as the words of this Xavier fellow sink in.  The weight to her right side shifts as he pushes to his feet, making a beeline for a nerdy looking gentleman exiting the patient care side of the emergency room.

 

She watches carefully as he slams into someone, stilling the woman in her movements.  Xavier and the woman stare at each other for a really long time before he nods curtly, continuing his walk to the intelligent looking man.  Squinting, thinking that perhaps her eyes have deceived her, she shakes her head.

 

Wynonna?

 

-

 

“Holy shit, Wave,” Wynonna greets a little too loudly.  Waverly turns on her heel from her spot in line in the cafeteria, questionable peanut butter and jelly sandwich in hand.  Grasping the sandwich, a little too tightly as she steps forward with the line.  “I just ran into this guy in the waiting room, like literally ran into him, and I don’t know what to make of it.”

 

“But I thought you had Doc,” Waverly murmurs.

 

“Ugh,” Wynonna groans, “It’s complicated.”

 

“Complicated?” Waverly repeats.

 

Wynonna takes a look around the cafeteria before slipping between the bars to join her sister in the line.  Waverly huffs at the realization that she can’t even provide Nicole with a hearty meal, because she thinks she certainly deserves one.  Whatever she feels for Nicole, she’s fall fast and hard.  She just has a way about her that draws Waverly in.

 

“Okay, so,” Wynonna starts, leaning forward.  Waverly’s shoes are tall enough that she only has to tilt her head up slightly to make eye contact with Wynonna.  She does love a boot with a tall heel.  Wynonna groans, loudly, and says, “When I met Doc, it wasn’t really anything special.  I blinked, suddenly I could see color out of one eye.  We share a common interest of alcohol, which, by the way, we were supposed to get started on today but instead we’re here with your girlfriend.”

 

“She punched Champ in the face, Wynonna,” Waverly replies evenly.

 

“Saved me the trouble, that’s for sure,” she mumbles.

 

“Anyway,” Waverly baits.

 

“So this guy in the waiting room - tall and muscular with a really chiseled jaw-“

 

“Wait, are you talking about Xavier?” Waverly asks.

 

“Jesus, Wave, how long have you been here?” Wynonna grumbles, “Anyway, I bumped into him and suddenly there’s no more gray.  Well, except for what’s supposed to be gray.  We really are cursed.”

 

“So you have two soulmates,” Waverly says, only managing to pout a little as she does a gesture with two fingers, “And I don’t even know who my one is?”

 

“But you have Nicole,” Wynonna points out.

 

“You’re right,” Waverly replies dreamily, “I do have Nicole.”

 

“Dude, gross,” Wynonna says, making a gagging noise, “Since when were you into chicks anyway?”

 

“Since I had to pick up your drunk ass from the police station for attempting to ride a mailbox in a McDonald’s parking lot and met the prettiest girl in the world,” Waverly says, “Besides, not that it’s any of your business, but she’s nicer than any of these goons around here.  And she’s a great kisser.”

 

“I’m gonna throw up,” Wynonna says with a roll of her eyes.

 

“Besides, she likes you, Wynonna, and I don’t think you’re in any condition to have any more enemies in this town,” she argues.  The line moves forward and so do they.  There’s only two people ahead of them.  She reaches for a bag of chips just in case the sandwich is actually too disgusting to eat.  It’s such a letdown compared to the one she had made.  “Plus, she’s given you a lot of passes.  You should really give her a chance.”

 

“Damn, you never got this defensive over your boyfriends,” Wynonna balks, “I’m just messing with you anyway.  She’s a good chick, for a cop anyway.”

 

“Yeah,” Waverly says airily, “I’m really lucky.”

 

Wynonna gags again as they move forward in line and she starts digging through her purse for some money.  Making the wise decision to just ignore her sister, she moves forward with the money in her hand and quickly hands it over with a smile.  The exchange is quick, and they are heading back to the waiting room with Wynonna impatiently tapping on the walls.  She huffs as their shoes echo down the hallway, only managing a smile when she comes back into the waiting room to find a very bored Nicole.

 

“How ya doin’?” Waverly asks, voice too high pitched for Nicole not to notice.  Giving a half-hearted thumb up, Nicole looks around the waiting room like she’s counting heads.  She sits in the chair she’s vacated earlier and pushes the sandwich in Nicole’s direction.  “The food in there looked questionable, but I got you some chips just in case.”

 

“Thank you,” Nicole says, smile puncturing her face, “You’re the best.”

 

“No, you’re the best,” Waverly corrects.  Wynonna, sitting in a chair diagonal from her, earns herself a sharp glare when she gags again.  Feeling Nicole’s gentle gaze on her, she looks up and offers a reassuring smile.  “Wynonna is just overreacting.”

 

“Am not,” she barks defensively.

 

Nicole smirks suddenly and says, “Agent Dolls came back.  Gave me his number.  Something tells me this was more about you, Wynonna.”

“Shut up,” she grumbles.  Waverly can’t help laughing, immediately ignoring the glare she receives from her sister.  Already knowing the details of meeting Xavier, she suspects that perhaps Nicole witnessed it firsthand.  She wishes she could retell the moment she met Nicole with some whimsical undertones.  “I don’t even know why I’m here.”

 

“Why are you here?” Waverly murmurs teasingly, “To bitch about my girlfriend wasting your afternoon?”

 

It suddenly occurs to her what she’s said, right in front of Nicole, when they haven’t even discussed it.  They’ve only had 1 date and she’s already calling Nicole her girlfriend.  She’s almost too afraid to look at her in case she sees a reaction that just might break her heart.

 

“Good question,” Wynonna barks, standing to her feet, “I have way better things to do than this.”

 

She starts to storm off when Nicole says, “Don’t forget this.”

 

As she waves the piece of paper in the air, Wynonna glares at her for a few moments again before closing the space between them and snatching Xavier’s phone number out of her hand.

 

-

 

Putting the Jeep in park, Waverly looks over at Nicole with a pair of sad eyes.  Nicole absently wonders why she looks so sad when everything is really okay.  She broke two knuckles and sprained her wrist, but she’s stuck with a cast for the next 6 weeks regardless.  It will be hard, considering she’s right handed, but it’ll be doable.

 

The thing that is haunting her the most is what Xavier told her in the waiting room.  Consequences for dating someone who wasn’t your soulmate were coming.  The only people exempt are people who are already married.  How would anyone ever know that they weren’t soulmates?  They both have the significant capabilities of someone who has met their soulmate.  But if they were ever found out, that would be the end of both of their lives as they know it.

 

Nicole knows that she could possibly already be in love with Waverly, despite telling herself it was a bad idea.  She had warned herself not to go there, but ultimately she had been drawn in.  She couldn’t possibly suggest they move this fast, not when they’ve only known each other for a few weeks.

 

Reaching across her body with her hand not wrapped up in a cast and popping the car door open, she hops down out of the vehicle.  The gravel in front of her house crunches beneath her feet as she grasps tightly onto the frame of the Jeep to steady herself.  Her legs are numb, and she’s trying not to look over at Waverly because she might finally react to the whole girlfriend comment.

 

After Wynonna left, they had proceeded to spend the rest of their afternoon waiting just to be called back and now it was nearly midnight.  The cast had taken two more hours and a 45 minute car ride had finally landed them at her house.  The whole day was wasted and she had essentially trapped Waverly there with her.

 

Waverly hops out of her Jeep and follows her to her door.  The sound of Waverly’s tall boots echoes against the wood of her porch and only stop ringing when she turns to face Waverly.  Leaning against the doorframe, she offers Waverly a tired smile.

 

“Thank you for driving me,” she mutters sheepishly, “I’m sorry it took up your whole day.  I’m sure you had more important things to do.”

 

“Well,” Waverly hums, “Not really.”

 

Nicole knows, in the back of her mind, that this is a boldface lie, but she allows herself to feel warmed by it anyway.  She smiles and drops her gaze to the ground, eyes examining the space between them.  She says, “I really appreciate it, anyway.”

 

“I’m going to need the full story on how it happened,” Waverly starts, hands reaching out and finding the lapels of her jacket.  It’s colder now than it had been earlier.  Much colder.  Nodding slowly, she lifts her gaze to Waverly.  “Besides, it’s nice knowing you would punch someone for me.  But you shouldn’t, you know?  Look at the consequence.”

 

“Worth it,” she replies with a smug grin.  She lifts up her right hand in the small space between them and examines the cast.  It’s a navy blue, picked out by Waverly, and it clashes with the sleeve of her uniform.  She’s going to stand out in a crowd.  “Except the part where Nedley kills me.  Or worse, fires me.”

 

“He isn’t going to fire you,” Waverly reassures, “I’ll be sure of it.”

 

“How can you do that?” She breathes.  She lifts her left hand to Waverly’s arm, letting her fingers trickle down to the elbow.  She quickly remembers what Xavier said about soulmates, but she can’t help the way she feels.

 

“Nedley loves me,” Waverly says, “Also, I can be very convincing when I want to be.”

 

“I’m sure you can,” Nicole says.  Noticing the way Waverly smiles, she feels her heart skip a beat and momentarily forgets the potential danger they might be in for even trying to be together.  The look gets the better of her.  She smiles with a soft sigh, lifting her left hand to Waverly’s cheek and gently smoothing her fingers across the skin there.  “You’re really extraordinary, Waverly Earp.  You don’t even see it, but you are.”

 

“Nicole-“

 

“Seriously,” she interjects, “You sat in that waiting room with me all day and didn’t complain once.  You could have, you had ample opportunity, but you didn’t.”

 

“I wouldn’t complain about getting to spend a single second with you,” Waverly replies.  Nicole feels a blush touch her cheeks.  It seems that Waverly always knows the right thing to say, the exact thing that she needs to hear to reassure her that this is all worth it.  “Do you maybe want to be my girlfriend?”

 

Despite her better judgment, she nods as she pushes a hair back behind Waverly’s ear.  She says, “I would love nothing more than to be your girlfriend.”

 

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Waverly mutters.  She sees Waverly visibly relax and it makes her smile.  Feeling the drugs beginning to kick in, she leans forward a little, fingers curving a little to press into the back of Waverly’s neck.  “Where are your keys?  I’ll help you inside.”

 

“I got it,” she insists.  She moves her hands down Waverly’s arm and pulls her hand away, fingers tingling at the loss of contact.  She digs into her jacket pocket and fishes for her keys, finally pulling them out.  She struggles with finding the key one handed.  She mutters, “I had to break my right hand.”

 

“I got it, baby,” Waverly says, swooping in to save the day.  She feels Waverly pry the keys from her fingers.  The crunch of the key sliding into the lock grates in her ears and she winces in response, but she quickly forgets when Waverly smiles at her.  “Are you going to be alright by yourself?”

 

“Wynonna needs you,” Nicole reminds her, “You’ve been taking care of me all day.”

 

“I didn’t mind doing it,” Waverly reminds her.

 

“Waves,” she says evenly, “I’ll be fine.”

 

“I know,” she practically sings, turning back to face her.  The drugs are beginning to kick in so Nicole nods carelessly, arms feeling a little happier.  Waverly smiles again and she feels a stupid grin match her face.  “I just worry about you.  You broke your hand for me.”

 

“I broke my hand because Champ Hardy doesn’t know when to shut his mouth so I shut it for him,” she mutters.

 

Looking over at Waverly, she feels that goofy smile widen but she can’t even stop herself anymore.  The drugs must be hitting her hard.  She swallows and says, “You’re really pretty.”

 

“Let’s get you to bed,” Waverly replies with a laugh.

 

Begrudgingly, Nicole nods in agreement.

 

“Goodnight, Waverly,” Nicole hums.

 

Waverly presses up onto the tips of her toes and presses a kiss to the corner of Nicole’s mouth.  Her lips tingle, brain slow to react and nearly not reciprocating the kiss at all.  She silently chastises herself, but can’t really muster the energy to react accordingly.  Sighing, she turns into her house and heads to bed.

 

-

 

Waverly will never forget this moment.

 

She's walking to Shorty's from where she parked her car when she spots Nicole from across the street.  Her beautiful hair is tied up into that French braid again as she dons that ugly uniform that she manages to make look so pretty.  She hesitates, smile widening on her face despite the fact that she hasn't even had much of a chance to talk to her today.  Just seeing Nicole has managed to brighten Waverly's day.

 

From a distance, she realizes that Nicole’s broken hand is tucked at her side in its navy blue wrapping.  She must still be babying her injury.  An automatic pout forms on her face in sympathy, wondering just how exactly Nicole is getting along at the station.  She’s already heard a few complaints about how difficult texting has been, and they left the hospital less than 24 hours ago.

 

She pauses, waiting for the white walk indicator to light up.  Not many people in the town of Purgatory obey the sign, but she’s always tried.  Although, she is more impatient than she likes to admit.

 

After leaving Nicole last night, not even entirely sure that her now girlfriend even realized Waverly had to practically carry her to bed, she’d had a hard time sleeping.  She had wanted to stay, to take care of Nicole, but Nicole had been persistent in Wynonna needing her.  Which, turned out to not be entirely true.  Wynonna was 3 sheets to the wind by the time that Waverly got home, and she didn’t even manage to get out of bed by the time Waverly had to leave for work.  That pesky job she can’t quite afford to quit just yet, not until they get the results from their brew.

 

Smiling widely, she sees Nicole stop just in front of a little girl. Officer Haught crouches down to the child’s level, smiling her own wide smile, and appearing to be as warm and welcoming as she has been with Waverly.  Briefly, Waverly thinks about how warm it had been to sleep beside Nicole and giddily begins to think of when she could possibly do it again.  She’ll have to come up with a plan to be sure it happens.

 

The walk sign lights up. Crossing the street, she closes the distance between her and Nicole.  By the time she reaches the curb, Nicole has bid the child and the child’s mother farewell.  They nearly collide at the corner, reaching it at the same time.

 

A gasp escapes her, like she’s surprised even though she really and truly saw it coming.  The palms of her hands push against Nicole’s collarbones, fingers absently wrapping around to the back of her shoulders.  She feels a tight grasp at her side.  When she looks up at Nicole through her eyelashes, she can tell that Nicole is possibly not quite breathing.

 

Waverly realizes that she’s in love.

 

“You’re so pretty,” Waverly murmurs.

 

Nicole releases a breath, a soft chuckle falling out of her mouth at the same time.  The sound is better than any bird that Waverly has heard sing into the wind.  Smiling bashfully, she tilts her head.  She feels embarrassed, as though Nicole can read her thoughts and it makes her feel exposed.  Her secret, the one she just realized for the first time to be true, is not yet ready to spill out into the realms of the universe.

 

Nicole’s thumb sweeps across her rib cage before her hand retracts.  She says, “We really have to stop running into each other like this.”

 

“How’s your hand?” Waverly asks, absently sliding her hands across Nicole’s front before pulling away, “In a lot of pain since the drugs wore off?”

 

“No more than before,” Nicole says with a shrug, “I’ll walk you to Shorty’s.”

 

Turning on her heel to proceed down the street, she immediately feels Nicole’s hand go to the small of her back.  The hair there stands on their ends, goosebumps instantly littering her skin.  She sighs contentedly, an ache settling into her all too quickly as she remembers she has to say goodbye to her girlfriend.

 

“How did Nedley take the news?” Waverly says.

 

“Luckily, I haven’t seen him yet,” Nicole admits, warm fingers leaving Waverly’s skin, “But I assume not well.”

 

Waverly’s eyebrows furrow in confusion.  Shaking her head, the Shorty’s sign comes into view and she draws closer to Nicole, her steps nearly making her press into Nicole’s side.  She looks up at Nicole as her steps come to a halt and she angles her body to face her girlfriend.

 

She’ll never get tired of that.

 

“I have the evening shift,” Nicole explains, “He’s probably eating lunch right now and that’s why I haven’t seen him.”

 

“Right,” Waverly breathes as though she suddenly remembers, echoing, “The evening shift.”

 

“I’ll come by after work,” Nicole starts, voice shaped a little bit like a question, “Say hello.”

 

“I’d like that,” she hums.  She leans back on her heel, knowing that she needs to get inside but wishing she could at least kiss Nicole before she says her goodbyes.  But she wouldn’t do that, not while Nicole is in uniform.  She smiles tightly, albeit her disappointment peering through.  “I’ll see you later then?”

 

“Later,” Nicole confirms.  She moves to step away, but a hand on her arm stops her.  Her eyes quickly flit to Nicole’s.  “Hey, wait.”

 

“What is it?” She asks softly.  Nicole steps a little closer and leans down slowly.  Feeling Nicole’s warm lips touch hers makes a smile take over her face, the kiss ending all too quickly.  When Nicole pulls away, she feels dumbstruck.  She says, “Thank you.”

 

An eyebrow quirks on Nicole’s face and a small laugh gently accompanied it.  With a promise to swing by later, Nicole heads towards the station.  Waverly, on the other hand, spends half of her day chastising herself for being so weird about the kiss.

Chapter Text

Waverly Earp is a nice girl. Maybe too nice.  It’s the reason why, when her older sister barges into her bedroom at early in the morning drunk off her ass, that she doesn’t get angry.  But Waverly doesn’t feel very nice at the moment.  She feels her face hot and jaw tighten as the moments pass, as the clock ticks away well passed the time Nicole was going to be getting off of shift.  She huffs absently, only realizing that she’s needed when someone snaps their fingers a few inches from her face.

 

Glaring at the rude action, she notices that Champ’s sleazy smirk settles into a familiar shape.  Grating on her very last nerve.  All she really wants to do is have her ex-boyfriend dragged out of the bar, quite possibly in handcuffs.  That could be hot.  But...he hasn’t actually done anything wrong except for be in her space.

 

“What do you want, Champ?” She asks.  She knows she sounds tired.  She does feel a slight bit tired but she’s mostly just tired of Champ’s bullshit.  She’s been hearing rumors.  Very false ones, at that.

 

“The usual, babe,” he replies.  He smirks, slowly and predatory.  She feels it in her bones, the memory of him draped over her like she was only a prop to keep him upright.  She wants to slap him harder than she’s ever slapped anything before.  He adds, “And some of the good stuff.”

 

Grumbling, Waverly turns towards the taps as she grabs a cold mug.  She gravitates towards Champ’s customary favorite, lifting her hand to release the liquid from the spout.  As she tosses her rowdy ex-boyfriend a glare, a brilliant hiss cuts through the sound of the room.  Foam and a brown liquid spews everywhere, landing mostly on her but also spraying a few customers.

 

The customers perched on the other side of the bar scatter.  The space around her is suddenly bare as she blindly tries to push the lever back.  She nearly chokes to death on the cheapest beer the bar keeps on tap, reaching for a towel and wiping at her face.

 

She hears, “Woohoo! Wet t-shirt contest!”

 

She feels her throat tighten as the urge to scream bubbles upward.  She finally blinks a few times as her brain catches back up to the moment, a rapid succession of realization hitting her like a bolt of lightning.  She narrows her gaze at him and stomps her foot before storming off into the back room leading to the basement.

 

She thinks back to all of the times Champ strolled in and ordered the beer from that specific tap because he knows the spout needs to be repaired.  Her blood boils with anger as she descends the stairs to get away from the bustle of the bar crowd.  Her damp shirt sticks to her skin, making her feel absolutely disgusting. This has happened too many times, she should really be more prepared.

 

She hears the sheer volume from the bar increase momentarily.  The noise is quickly replaced by the sound of light steps descending the stairs and she turns to look at the cause of the sound.  Her annoyance towards the offender has faded and she now feels relief, the tightness in her chest releasing as hot tears begin to fall onto her cheeks.

 

“Waves,” comes the gentle voice, cold fingers sliding across her cheek in an instant, “Did something happen?”

 

“Just Champ,” she mutters, annoyed.

 

“Champ?” Nicole grumbles sharply, “What did he do?”

 

“Being Champ,” Waverly huffs, “I’ve asked Shorty so many times to get the spout fixed.”

 

“Are you ok?” Nicole practically hums.  It warms Waverly instantly, the gentle vibrato of Nicole’s soothing voice as her hand smooths over her soaked shoulder.  The cast wrapped around her hand prohibits her from offering more comfort, and Waverly sinks into her.  A hiss tumbles out of Nicole’s mouth, the uniform issued blue button up getting wet with the liquid, stench of alcohol lingering in the air.  “I want to punch that guy.”

 

“You already did,” Waverly mutters.  She leans back and takes a sweeping look at Nicole, shirt dampened from transference.  She sighs, disappointed in herself as she realizes what she’s done.  She reaches out and runs a hand across Nicole’s front, feeling the darkened material.  “Oh no, I ruined your uniform.”

 

“It’ll wash,” Nicole replies.  Seeing the cringe on Nicole’s face despite herself, Waverly can’t help but smile at her efforts.  She feels Nicole’s hands lightly touch her sides, a slight pout forming on her lips.  “Are you ok?”

 

“Yeah,” Waverly hums, “But now I feel bad about your shirt.”

 

“Don’t,” Nicole insists, “It’s just a shirt.”

 

Waverly, feeling the guilt washing through her as the darkened material of Nicole’s shirt becomes more prominent in certain light, takes a step back to put some space between them.  Nicole’s hands slowly leave her sides as she steps out from beneath her touch, a tiredness suddenly settling into her bones.  She feels completely exhausted by Champ, by Wynonna, hell, even by Shorty, and she just wants a break.

 

“Nicole,” she says slowly, “Baby?”

 

Nicole looks up at her expectantly, a confusion quickly crossing her brows.  An acknowledgement dies on her lips, breath hitching in her throat, and it makes Waverly’s eyes sparkle with something fiery.  A warmth spreads through her as Nicole’s gaze settles warmly on her own, a soft, reassuring smile dancing on her mouth.

 

“Get me out of here,” Waverly murmurs.

 

“Where’s your jacket?” Nicole asks softly with a nod, stepping forward again and pushing warm hands against Waverly’s bare arms.

 

“It’s behind the bar,” she replies.

 

“Get out of that soaked top and I’ll grab your jacket.  Can’t have you catching a cold out there,” Nicole says with a small, tight smile.  Waverly smiles at the thoughtfulness of Nicole, the intense need to get away from these people she’s known her entire life only growing.  She’s never much had a difficult time fitting in with them...until now.  “I’ll be right back.”

 

-

Lifting her left hand, only after berating herself for trying to use her right hand in the first place, Nicole plants a firm knock on the door.  It echoes throughout the house, reverberating against the wood of the porch, and sticks into the cold air.  It’s colder today than it was yesterday, a sad feature lingering into the spring time.  And they say global warming isn’t real.

 

It’s only a few seconds before someone answers the door, but she feels the cold in her bones, especially in her hand.  She attempts to shake it out while she waits, but it’s futile.  When the door opens, Waverly is giving her a broad smile that warms her almost instantly.

 

“Hey,” Waverly greets, voice sounding like a song, “Let me grab my stuff.”

 

Nicole nods, following Waverly’s gesture to step inside.  She steps over the threshold of the homestead, and is met with a stagnant warmth.  She wonders if the air even moves in the house, or if there’s too many people in and out of it.  She follows Waverly further into the house but stops all too quickly when she can see clearly into the kitchen.

 

Her gaze narrows as it lands on Xavier Dolls, sitting squarely at the table with a mug of coffee in front of him.  She wonders how long he’s been here, if he’s told Waverly what he told her when they were in the hospital waiting room.  Nicole doesn’t even know what Waverly would do it she knew.  He turns suddenly, body angling more fully towards her, and he squints at her like he’s offering her a warning.  She sucks in a deep breath, nearly freezing under his gaze.

 

“You ready, baby?” Waverly asks.

 

She jumps to attention, her gaze easily transitioning from Xavier to Waverly.  Her cheeks flush as she makes eye contact with Waverly, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.  The concern seeps into her though, the realization that Xavier Dolls could become a more permanent fixture in their lives suddenly dawning on her.  She certainly didn’t think giving Wynonna his phone number through.

 

“Yeah,” she finally mutters in response.  She eyes her girlfriend up and down, taking in her appearance.  The jacket she has on looks cute, but like it might be a little cold.  The colors of Waverly’s attire compliment itself so perfectly that Nicole absently wonders how she didn’t realize Waverly could see in color from the start.  She pushes out a sigh, relaxing her shoulders, and smiles, saying, “You look cute.”

 

Waverly hesitates in her step as she returns the once over, a brilliant grin across her face.  She says, “Thank you.  Blue really is your color.”

 

As Waverly steps passed her, she presses her casted hand against her spine and follows her in a half step towards the door.  She’s forgotten about Xavier in the other room, a judgmental look in his eyes, as they leave the homestead to head towards Waverly’s Jeep.  The plan had been to go to the city to purchase supplies for brewing the beer.  Although the plan had only just been formulated, they need about a week to come up with a unique recipe and another month before the first batch will be available.

 

However, Nicole spends the better part of the drive thinking about the consequences Xavier had told her about.  Even more than that, with him being so close and hanging around, Nicole has to figure something out.  She has to know if maybe her new girlfriend, could, perhaps, feel something for her that it would all be worth it.  She needs a solution, one that they can give this a real chance before someone else finds out...someone like Xavier Dolls.  Proposing to someone she only just started dating, officially, is really extreme, she knows, but according to Agent Dolls it might be the only way they can ensure they give this the proper chance.

 

Intricate ramblings about brewing beer and what not spread throughout the car as they make their way out of town, Waverly's sweet voice almost managing to distract her from their predicament.  Thinking of a solution is a little more difficult with Waverly talking her ear off. Not that she hates it.  She just hates the idea that she might not get to hear that melodical voice anymore.

 

"Everything okay?" Waverly asks when they are nearly to the city.  It seems she's finally noticed that Nicole has had very little to say, too wrapped up in her thoughts.  Or, finally decided to mention it.

 

"I'm fine," Nicole insists, offering Waverly a tight smile.  Waverly's gaze narrows on her as though she doesn't believe her.  It makes Nicole squirm.  Transparency has never been one of her best features, especially when dating someone, but Waverly might have her pegged a little better.  She concedes and admits, "Just thinking."

 

"Any secrets you want to share?" Waverly asks with a cheeky.

 

"Just work related stuff," Nicole lies.

 

The lie seems to be believable enough as Waverly puffs out a slightly annoyed sigh, bottom lip jutting out slightly to really emphasize her dissatisfaction with the answer.  They've really spent a lot of time talking and texting, especially while she's on the night shift and Waverly isn't on the evening shift at Shorty's.  They haven't necessarily known each other for too long but everything she knows about Waverly she likes.  Even the things she hates.

 

The GPS announces that they will be at their arrival shortly.  Straightening up in her seat, her stomach rumbles.  She notices that it's nearly lunch time when she looks at the clock and secrets hopes that whenever they leave this place Waverly will suggest lunch.  Once Waverly parks the Jeep, they tumble out of the red vehicle and head into the store.  It's some place she's never heard of.

 

She hovers behind as Waverly digs through her purse for her predetermined list of items she's looking for.  For a brief moment, she wonders what she's even doing here.  She isn't really part of this big plan to start up a brewing company.  Wynonna would certainly be better fit to accompany Waverly.  Even though Wynonna had some kind of unexpected visitor.

 

It really doesn't sit well with Nicole, Xavier Dolls hanging around.

 

Of course she can’t say that, not to Waverly and certainly not to Wynonna.  She isn’t even entirely sure that Wynonna likes her.  She definitely doesn’t need to make an enemy out of her girlfriend’s sister.

 

Her shoes squeak against the tile as she follows Waverly through the aisles.  She’s trying to make out what exactly kind of store this is.  It has a lot of items she’s never seen before.  It’s possible this is some kind of hobby store by the materials placed throughout the store, a target audience being those who seem to enjoy drinking.

 

The entire time, she can only think about Xavier Dolls being in such close proximity, possibly watching their every move.

 

After about half an hour of browsing through the store, following Waverly’s decided path throughout, they finally exit the premises.  Waverly doesn’t purchase everything she’d been eyeing at this time and decides that she would be better off purchasing everything online to have it sent to the house.  Understanding that their end goal is to brew an entire line, they will need a lot more equipment than can actually fit in the Jeep.

 

She must huff out a heavy sigh because suddenly Waverly is looking at her with large, inquisitive eyes in the middle of the aisle.  She gives a sheepish look in response, turning slightly away as she spots a seemingly happy couple walking by.  She feels her blood boiling at the sight of them, a heavy annoyance as the realization that can never be her and Waverly settling onto her shoulders.  She tries to recover when she looks at Waverly again, but she doesn’t do so successfully.

 

Trying to brush it off, she gives Waverly a gentle smile and steps a bit closer to her.

 

-

He’s chummy.

 

Too chummy for someone who as enforcer of the rules.

 

A different kind of enforcer of the law than Nicole is.

 

She’s a lawman of a small town, writing speeding tickets from time to time, but mostly escorting a drunken civilian home after an evening at Shorty’s.  Granted, she’s only been around for a few months and she’s already rocked the boat by a lot.  She’s heard some of the things that the townspeople are saying - has it out for Champ Hardy, soft spot for Wynonna Earp, stolen Waverly’s attention.

 

It’s like a game of fuck, marry, kill that she doesn’t get the opportunity to answer because everyone else has answered for her.

 

Fuck: Waverly

Marry: Wynonna

Kill: Champ

 

And the townspeople?  They might be on to something.  But Nicole pretends she hears none of it.  She isn’t particularly interested in being part of the town gossip, especially because their inevitable break up will definitely make newspaper headlines that way.  Even though it seems someone is always talking about Waverly, she had determined that before she had even met her, Waverly doesn’t deserve that kind of scrutiny.

 

She needs to end it.  The law defines that they can’t be together.  Regardless of how she feels, or Waverly for that matter, they’re just dragging it on.  Ever since she met Dolls she’s been on the verge of telling Waverly they shouldn’t do this, but she always loses her nerve.  She really doesn’t want to be that asshole who breaks up over a text message.

 

But she has to.

 

She types up something, many different somethings, akin to I think we should just be friends, but doesn’t ever send it.  She doesn’t feel like she can disrespect someone she cares so much about.  She doesn’t want to lose Waverly entirely.  She’s definitely in an impossible situation.

 

She lifts her gaze to the lonely house in front of her.  It’s a small, wooden structure that she’s hardly familiar with but she is becoming so.  Having been inside, guzzling down bits of alcohol and sleeping it off, she knows that it is a warm home.  It looks chilly from the outside, with the lingering winter weather biting at the space around it.  Waverly’s red Jeep is parked out front beside a dated truck, a pink Cadillac, and a black Tahoe.

 

She feels like she doesn’t belong.

 

Before she can back out of the driveway, take herself home and far away from her, she sees the front door open.  Her heart skips a beat as her mind swirls with thoughts of rules, laws, the right thing, of Waverly.  Swallowing thickly, she braces herself for the sight of her girlfriend (the one she’s so eager to see but she knows she shouldn’t be with), but instead is met with a taller gentleman wearing a black cowboy hat.  His mustache is thick and he is lifting a cigarette to his lips before the door is even closed behind him.

 

Nicole thinks about fleeing for a moment, but her gaze catches with the man in the black cowboy hat.  She knows she can’t leave.  He tips his chin downward as he descends the stairs, his steps taken at a leisurely pace, and he heads in her direction.  Releasing a heavy breath from her chest, she turns off the cruiser while popping the door open to exit the vehicle.

 

“You must be Officer Haught,” the man greets, tipping his hat as his voice carries in the cold space of air between them.  He hasn’t lit his cigarette yet, but it stays dangling between his lips as he leans forward with an extended hand.  “Miss Earp speaks rather highly of you.”

 

For a moment, Nicole hesitates, not quite sure if he’s referring to Waverly or Wynonna.  She nods carefully, eyes tracing the shape of his mustache.  It looks full.  This man looks to be Wynonna’s type and looks not to be Wynonna’s type at the same time.  She doesn’t entirely get it.

 

"I don't believe Miss Earp mentioned you were coming," the man adds.  Reluctantly, she shakes his hand and pushes the door to her cruiser closed behind her with her hip.  He offers her a polite smile, one that seems to make his eyes twinkle.  She doesn’t know much about this guy beyond the bare minimum - he’s a business partner, a guy that Wynonna met somewhere before returning to Purgatory - but she suspects that Waverly herself does not know much about him.  He adds, “Was she expecting you?”

 

“Uh,” Nicole drawls out, exaggerating her lingering breath, “Not exactly.”

 

“I think she would be over the moon to see you,” he laments, releasing her hand.  She absently presses her palms against her thighs, cast catching a little on the material, and wipes away some residual anxiety that has gathered there.  He stands straighter, pulling the still unlit cigarette from his mouth.  He says, “Oh my, where are my manners?  I forgot to introduce myself.  My name is John Henry.”

 

“Nicole Haught,” she replies all too quickly, “Waverly inside?”

 

“Going over a few plans with her sister,” he answers, “And that broody gentleman who has been hanging around.”

 

She senses some disdain and is immediately comforted by the idea that she’s not alone.  She watches him silently grumble as he turns his face away from her to perch his cigarette back between his lips.  He mutters a half-hearted excuse me before he stalks off towards the hill to smoke in peace.  A tension settles in his shoulders and she thinks for a moment that this all might be more complicated than she can even understand.

 

She decides it’s best not to comment on it and heads towards the house.  On her way, she digs deep within herself to muster all of the courage she can to be firm and put her foot down with Waverly.  She stands in front of the door, clumsily trying to regain her quickly slipping composure.  She counts to three before she knocks, the words already poised between her lips to tumble into the space between them before anyone can even come to the door.  She hears a muffled yell on the other side, a clear annoyance from Wynonna that the man in the cowboy hat should just re-enter without knocking. 

 

Pushing open the front door just a crack, she peeks inside to get a better read of the room.  She doesn’t immediately spot anyone in the living room, but she hears Wynonna’s annoyed grumble followed by Waverly’s soft voice.  Heels echo against the floor as footsteps move from the direction of the kitchen and into the living room.  Nicole’s resolve breaks when she takes in Waverly’s form, crop top exposing a bit more of her stomach than is necessary. 

 

“Hey,” Waverly practically sing songs.

 

Hearing Dolls’ deep voice, she stands a little straighter.  Her lips part slowly, throat tightening suddenly as the words sit on the tip of her tongue.  She swallows thickly and says, “Baby, can we talk?”

 

“Of course,” Waverly hums happily. 

 

Nicole’s heart aches in her chest at the realization that she’s about to crush her.  She always hates this part.  She developed a bit of a reputation before coming to Purgatory, keeping it too casual knowing that her soulmate is out there somewhere.  She knew that she would end up getting her heart broken in the end because the girls she had flings with were still on the hunt for their one true loves.  So she mostly steered clear of any kind of relationship to avoid an easy title of being a heartbreaker. 

 

“Maybe…” she hesitates, wondering what specific location she should suggest since the man is outside and the others are within earshot, “Somewhere else?”

 

Her shoulder walkie hisses in disagreement, an instant reminder that she has somewhere else to be.  Waverly’s face falters at the sound.  Knowing that she should have planned this better, she sighs heavily and takes a step back. 

 

“I’m really sorry,” she says to Waverly, “I really should have planned this better.”

 

“At least I got to see you,” Waverly replies, quickly pushing up on her toes and placing a soft kiss against Nicole’s cheek. 

 

-

 

It’s less than 4 hours, only barely though, before Waverly traipses into the station like she owns the place.  Nicole, being caught heavily off guard, forgets how to form words.  The ones that do enter her mind are either incredibly blunt or incredibly inappropriate.  She doesn’t know which of the two will fall out of her mouth first if her brain ever does decide that words can string together for form sentences. 

 

A determined Waverly barely casts her a glance before she grabs her by the wrist and forcefully pulls her into Nedley’s office.  She trips haphazardly over her feet, everything in her hands scattering to the floor and creating a mess of the room.  A word of disapproval sticks to her lips but doesn’t come out.  Instead, her boots squeak against the floor in protest despite her legs willingly carrying her down Waverly’s guided path. 

 

She is mesmerized, missing the warmth of Waverly’s hand against her wrist when she lets go to move further into the room.  She only waits by the door for a moment before she steps forward.  Looking to the floor, she estimates one large stride between them, something that can be closed extremely easily.  Brain working, finally, she stays still.

 

Waverly, on the other hand, clearly has something else in mind as she steps forward.  She extends her hands and presses her fingers heavily against the protruding button just above Nicole’s belly button.  Time seems to stand still as Waverly pushes up onto the tips of her toes just as she had done earlier. 

 

Waverly’s soft lips settle against hers, warm and inviting.  As if on autopilot, Nicole responds.  Her lips part beneath Waverly’s, tongue immediately flitting out against Waverly’s top lip.  She realizes that she isn’t breathing so she sucks in a deep breath, head swirling as her eyes close. 

 

For a moment, she considers that she could just easily capture this moment and live in it forever.  Until there’s a better memory to replace it.  Which, she thinks, is highly unlikely.  Their first kiss was pretty good, but there’s something about this one that makes her heart thud against her ribcage.  She can feel it pulsating in her throat. 

 

But her brain comes back to reality all too quickly. 

 

She pulls away, taking a step back and colliding with a structure.  The collision echoes below her shoulder and moves down the length of her.  It becomes dangerously obvious that she did not hit the wall, nor did she hit the door. 

 

In fact, the look on Waverly’s face speaks volumes. 

 

Slowly, she turns on her heel to face the immovable object and is met with the furrowed brow of the last person she wants to see.  Her stomach drops to the floor as Sheriff Nedley’s gaze sharpens angrily.  She can almost feel herself cower beneath his gaze, mind already whirling with possible consequences. 

 

Waverly never should have come here. 

 

Nicole quickly tosses a glance at Waverly who has stilled in her movement.  She seemingly lacks remorse.  Nicole herself has a tendency to be lenient on those who are remorseful and, in a small town like this, it’s something she can happily get away with.  But the lack of remorse makes her blood boil. 

 

“Sheriff, I-“

 

“Haught,” he interrupts sternly, “You’re dismissed.”

Chapter Text

The footsteps behind her are heavy.  Perhaps even forlorn as she moves down the elongated hallway of the police station to get to where her Jeep is parked. She feels it settling heavily on her shoulders, the guilt from what she’s done. Sheriff Nedley had been angry. And she had been inappropriate.

 

Nicole, red faced, hadn’t muttered another word as she gathered her things from her desk before heading towards the door. She wants to fix everything, has been trying to fix everything by spontaneously showing Nicole how much she cares for her. She’s felt her pulling away.

 

All Waverly wanted to do was rectify that before it was too late.

 

And now, she’s only managed to make things worse.

 

Her tendencies had always been to be a little too passionate and to take things a little too far for the average person. Every project growing up had gotten every sector of her energy from the moment she had woken until the moment she had gone to sleep. Her feelings for Nicole haven’t been any different.

 

Waverly swallows thickly, waning to wait for Nicole – wait for her to say something, anything – but her wait is mostly fruitless. Waverly feels her skin crawling, aching with a sense of brokenness that she’s been trying to avoid. She’s torn between saying something and saying, well, nothing. She’s never really been one to let situations linger on for too longer.

 

“Nicole, I’m-“

 

“It’s my job, Waverly,” Nicole interjects forcefully, “It’s the whole reason I’m here.”

 

Waverly gets that, she does, but there’s something extra painful about the way Nicole says it. Like perhaps Waverly means nothing. Nicole’s footsteps only echo heavier as they reach the dark parking lot, the stillness of the early sun setting and the cool evening air a sting that Waverly feels throughout every inch of her. The pain almost etches into her skin.

 

“Nicole,” Waverly mutters, half pleading. As she blinks, she thinks she sees Nicole hesitate in her step. The gap between them and Nicole’s car is closing rapidly, almost too rapidly. Waverly tries to think of anything to make her stand still long enough to hear her out. “What can I do to make this up to you?”

 

Nicole stops, hand on the handle to her car. She doesn’t yet look over her shoulder but Waverly attempts to will her to do so. Gus always told her she was strong willed when she was a kid, and hopefully there’s just a smidgen of that part of her that remains.

 

She’s finding it incredibly difficult to tap into that when Nicole says, “Just…maybe this was a bad idea.”

 

“What do you mean?” Waverly asks, breath hitching in her throat.

 

“I just mean that,” Nicole stops again, silence lingering for a second too long for Waverly’s liking, “Maybe we’re better off friends.”

 

“Friends,” Waverly repeats, “I don’t think that-“

 

“It’s better this way,” Nicole interrupts, “Before anyone gets hurt.”

 

The sound of the door handle popping on Nicole’s car only signals the finality of the statement, not leaving Waverly much room for argument. Waverly has so many compelling arguments to make. Like they’re good together. Or that this feels different. Or that she really likes Nicole so much and she would do anything to prove that. Or that she might even love her.

 

But, instead, Waverly says nothing.

 

She just watches as Nicole backs the car out of the parking spot and drives away. Leaving Waverly alone to wallow in her own heartbreak. This is absolutely the last thing that she wanted.

 

Who was she to really to want anything at all?

 

-

 

Nicole, staring at Sheriff Nedley with as submissive of a gaze she can muster currently, absently licks her lips. She's boiling because, for once, she had been happy. But then, Xavier Dolls and the Black Badge Division had to move into town and change everything. Just when she was starting to think that she could have a bright future with someone. Girls she had met previously had been terrified of not being with their soulmate. But Waverly, she was different. She hadn't cared.

 

She's looking at Nedley but all she can see is Waverly Earp, tears welling in her eyes as Nicole breaks her heart.

 

And Nicole has never been much of a heartbreaker before. At least she has tried not to be. She hasn’t had much of a reason to break many hurts. She did have a close call once, a woman that she believed she was in love with and they could risk it all just to be together, but something changed.

 

Nicole just isn’t sure what and she isn’t even sure she could compare what she has felt with Waverly to what she had felt with…the other woman.

 

Her heart hurts. It hurts in a way it has never hurt before. Something ended way too soon and she never got a chance to see the bad parts happen. Not that she thinks there’s a single bad thing about Waverly Earp. Waverly is absolutely the kindest, most thoughtful, and amazing woman she’s ever met. But that still doesn’t mean she should be selfish enough to ruin Waverly’s life.

 

“Haught,” Sheriff Nedley says evenly, forgoing any form of softness she could really use right now, “What happened last night…”

 

“I know, Sir,” she says, quickly, voice wavering.

 

“Let me finish,” he says, lifting a hand up between them. It lingers in the air for a few moments as she wills herself to settle back into the chair. Her hand aches, twitching beneath the annoying cast she has wrapped around it. He releases a breath. “Once, about twenty years ago, I saw this little girl in the park. She was nice but, most importantly, she made the Earp girl smile.”

 

Nicole, confused, purses her lips together. She lightly shakes her head to indicate that she doesn’t follow where he’s going with this. He leans back in his chair as well, presumably stretching his back out.

 

“That was the summer after their father died,” he continues, “She hadn’t smiled in a while and Waverly was a pretty happy kid, considering.”

 

“Considering?” Nicole is intrigued – especially upon hearing Waverly’s name out of his mouth, especially after yesterday.

                         

“Ward never particularly favored her,” Sheriff Nedley says simply, “Anyway, what I am getting at, Nicole-“

 

She stills, eyes training on him as his name softly leaves his mouth. She wants to pry farther. However, she doesn’t think it appropriate to set him, her boss, straight.

 

“Is that the little girl, the one who reminded Waverly how to smile, she wasn’t here for long, but I remember her vividly,” he says. He sucks in a deep breath as he drapes his fingers across his stomach. “She was about seven years old. She had red hair. Came to my house a few times with Chrissy and Waverly. Lovely girl.”

 

“Sounds it,” Nicole replies with an agreeable nod, “But that was so long ago, Sir. I don’t…follow.”

 

“Nicole,” he says slowly, abandoning his position and leaning forward against the top of his desk, “You were meant to be here. You were always meant to be here. Nothing is going to change that.”

 

“Thank you, Sheriff,” she says.

 

“Take a few days off to heal,” he says.

 

“I can’t,” she protests.

 

“You will,” he replies sternly, “Use your time wisely.”

 

-

 

Moving back into the homestead with Wynonna has been a wild ride. In fact, since the moment Wynonna stormed back into her life like a hurricane her life has been chaos. And it hasn't just been Wynonna bringing the chaos.

 

Two women of different caliber came into her life at the same time, one returning and the other making an impression that will last for the rest of her life. Waverly had never particularly admitted to herself that she was attracted to women but, at the same time, she had never really been attracted to men. Perhaps it was the limited selection that the town of Purgatory had to offer. The stuck up, simple-minded people around her had really managed to turn her off of the idea of soul mates completely. And their society was practically built on finding the one.

 

The only person she's ever met managed to appeal to the reality of their society, appealed to what might happen if they did allow themselves to explore their feelings for one another. Waverly certainly feels like Nicole is someone she can count on, someone that she would be able to count on for the rest of her life. And, for her, if that isn't what a soul mate is then she really doesn't want to find out what a soul mate really is.

 

She sighs as she descends the stairs that lead into the basement at Shorty's, hellbent on finding a way to convince Nicole that they can be together. She remembers one time Nicole saying that she always goes after what she wants, and Nicole said she wanted Waverly. She thinks that, if given enough time, she could love Nicole enough that losing her ability to see color would be worth the risk.

 

She blinks back tears, approaching a walnut chest against the wall beneath the small window. The chest once belonged to her mother, a storage compartment for everything that mattered to her. Waverly has looked through it before, nearly 100 times. She's pretty sure that she can name each individual piece within the container, but she's looking for something, anything, that her mother left behind telling her that she was perfectly happy living her life with someone who wasn't her soul mate. Her mother had a uniqueness about her, where she was someone's soul mate but her soul mate was someone completely different.

 

She lifts the lid to the walnut chest and lowers herself to the ground. She begins to dig inside, on a hunt for maybe something she's never seen before. Maybe her mother kept a journal, like the one she found in Willa's room when Willa was 14 and writing about kissing a boy behind the bleachers. She'd tried to ask Willa once about colors, but Willa didn't care; when she'd tried to ask Wynonna, Wynonna smiled softly and explained to her that she saw in color the day Waverly was born. Waverly knew that was a lie because everything that Wynonna wore was so mismatched.

 

Despite the hollow feeling in her stomach, she smiles at the thought. Wynonna has always had a rough exterior but a soft spot for her. She cared for her when no one else would. Wynonna had been her protector when no one else would even look at her.

 

She digs a little more, pushing around old pictures and various items that have no personal value to her. The items are things her mother kept, things that lack importance or explanation. She has always had a disconnect to what should be invaluable to her, the importance of each thing missing a description or a logical reason for safe keeping. She's kept them stored away all of these years because it's what she should do, because they were important to her mother.

 

She hesitates when her hand hits something plastic, her fingernail catching and snapping at the edge. She hisses at the shock of the break, recoiling as she pulls her hand back towards her chest. She looks at her nail and rapidly shakes her hand before delving it back into the chest. She moves her fingers around until they brush the plastic again. She wraps her hand around whatever it is and tugs on it until it gives.

 

She pulls it out and lifts it in front of her face. It's a tape. It has "Happy Waverly" scrawled across the front of it in a younger Wynonna's handwriting. She feels her eyebrows furrow, confusion taking up residence in her facial features. She swallows a thick film of saliva that's gathered at the base of her throat and pushes herself to her feet in such a hurry that she nearly falls backwards.

 

She balances herself really quickly before she runs up the steps. She reaches for her purse hanging on one of the stools just outside of the basement door. She needs to find a VCR. If one still exists anywhere in this god forsaken town.

 

-

 

Her search led her here, to the homestead, empty handed except for the video tape. She was unable to find a VCR anywhere in town. She feels completely dejected, but she doesn't really know why exactly. She doesn't even know what's on the tape. It could be anything. It might not even be her on that tape.

 

Her curiosity has been eating away at her for hours. She wants to know what's on the tape so badly, wants to see if it can help her fill a void from her childhood that she didn't even know she really needed to fill. Not that Gus and Uncle Curtis didn't provide for her and her sisters as best as they could, but part of her still wanted to see a time where she was maybe just happy and carefree. She assumes she was once carefree, before her mother left and her father...died.

 

She sighs in defeat, a heavy weight settling onto her chest as she drops onto the couch with the strap of her purse in her right hand and the video tape in her left hand. She stares at the glorious piece of plastic for what feels like minutes. She wants to know what it contains. She feels tears prick the corners of her eyes.

 

She doesn't remember exactly what happened between her parents that caused her to be orphaned at 4 years old. Everyone treated her like she was too young, maybe she was, but that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve to know the truth. It's time she stops making excuses for everyone who has kept her in the dark her entire life. After all, she is the one who has coasted through life with the luxury of a beauty that others haven't yet had the pleasure of witnessing.

 

She steadies her breath for the third or fourth or maybe fifth time today. Biting the inside of her cheek in an attempt to still the tears before they can fall, she lifts her gaze to the space in front of her. That's when she sees it. A VCR situated in the middle of the space on top of the television. She blinks as her brain wraps around the fact that the missing piece has been right where she needed it all along.

 

She stands and crosses to the VCR, leaving her purse behind on the cushion. She pops the tape into the VCR and pushes the power button for the television. It hisses to life, a vibrant video beginning to play on the screen. She takes two steps back and settles onto the coffee table, staring at the forgotten moment in front of her.

 

She sees herself running across the screen and disappearing. Another little girl quickly follows, vibrant red hair flowing behind her. Waverly feels a smile tug at the corners of her mouth, a sadness instilling itself deep inside of her. She watches with due diligence as young Waverly looks at the camera. The other little girl quickly mimics young Waverly's motions.

 

Waverly's breath escapes her. The tears immediately spill over the brims of her eyelids as she grips the edge of the coffee table in her hands. She wants to scream, but all she can do is cry.

 

"Whatcha watchin', baby girl?" Wynonna asks as she descends the stairs.

 

Waverly braces herself as she inhales. She reaches forward and pauses the video, the screen stilling on the little redheaded girl as she playfully pushes a young Waverly. She turns to face her sister. She knows it's obvious she's been crying.

 

"That's Nicole," she answers, gesturing to the television behind her.

 

"What?" Wynonna says, blinking, confused.

 

"This," she says harshly, voice more aggressive than she can usually muster as she points a finger and taps it against the screen, "Is Nicole. In this video, with me, when we were children."

 

"That's-"

 

"Nicole," Waverly says again, "This whole time she felt...familiar, and I had no idea why."

 

"So, you've met," Wynonna replies with a shrug, "Where did you find the video?"

 

"In Mom's chest in the basement at Shorty's," Waverly explains, "You took this video."

 

"Yeah," Wynonna says with a snap of her fingers, "It was the summer after Daddy died and it was the first time I saw you smile since Mom left."

 

"It was the summer I could see colors," Waverly replies.

 

"You never said," Wynonna trails off, eyebrows furrowing suddenly. Wynonna sighs, shakily, not a hint of jealousy in her posture. She sighs heavily and says, "You were five, almost six, and you'd already been through so much. I wanted to protect you."

 

"Wynonna," Waverly mutters softly yet forcefully. Her sister looks at her obediently, attentively. She shifts under Wynonna's gaze, not really sure how to explain all of the pieces coming together. Wynonna steps a bit closer and reaches out to touch Waverly's shoulder. "Nicole is my soul mate."

 

-

 

Waverly lifts her head from her hands as she hears a car start in the distance. Her head feels heavy, eyelids even heavier. Her cheeks feel...stained, dirty, heavy and disgusting. She releases a shaky breath and lifts her eyes. The world is a blur. She blinks a few times and notices the sandwich beside her, cut into a triangle, a shade of something she has never seen before.

 

Her world is in color and she has never seen anything more beautiful! She sucks in a deep breath, her tears drying instantly. Everything has suddenly evaded her.

 

She no longer remembers that aching feeling of wanting her mother who left her months ago. She forgets about the sound of the gun shot that echoed throughout the homestead when her father ceased to exist. She forgets the way that Willa hates her.

 

She can only think of the beautiful things in life. The way the birds sing at the break of dawn. How the bunnies frolic in the forest. The wholesome feeling when Wynonna wraps her arms around her and holds her tightly. She feels her lips turn into a smile, which she hasn't been able to conquer for weeks.

 

"There you are, baby girl," Wynonna says as she slides up beside her on the bench. Waverly looks over at her sister and tightly wraps her arms around Wynonna. This is the most blissful moment of her entire life, all because a stranger tried to comfort her. "Hey, everything okay?"

 

"It is now," Waverly replies. She feels Wynonna's hand in her hair. She wants to scream and she wants to cry and she wants to laugh. She feels like she's on top of the world and no one can ever take that away from her.

 

She just wishes she knew who the stranger who gave her this gift was, so she could say thank you.

Chapter Text

With her right hand out of commission, Nicole is going absolutely crazy. She’s out of work, out of love, out of her damn mind. She can’t do anything. Like, really can’t do anything. Can’t go to work. Can’t fix up her house. Can’t even call Waverly. 

So, she calls Xavier. 

She remembers his phone number from the hospital, when he jot it down on a piece of paper for her to give it to Wynonna. She has a knack for numbers. It isn’t something she talks about much, not since people teased her about being a nerd when she was in high school. Granted, most of her friends were jealous that she could see in color even though it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. For the most part, it meant seeing all of the fashion sense her classmates didn’t have since their colors mostly always clashed. 

As she waits for Xavier in the parking lot of the gym, frustration and anger and disappointment boiling inside of her all at the same time, she taps her cast against the steering wheel and listens to the sad, sad song playing through her speakers. She really isn’t in the mood to work out, but she needs to talk to this guy and figure out more details of this new law that will be enforced. 

It doesn’t take long before she sees the man, stoic look on his face while doing arm stretches walking towards the door. She exits her vehicle and heads inside. She immediately regrets asking to meet him here. He heads into his routine, greeting her with a simple head nod but doesn’t incite conversation. 

Frustrated, she heads to the treadmill which is pretty much the only thing she can use with this stupid hand. Besides, Sheriff Nedley told her to take it easy, the doctor told her to take it easy, and this is all definitely not taking it easy. It’s just difficult to take it easy when her entire world is crashing down around her. One minute she was falling in love with the most amazing woman she had ever met and now she was too much of a coward to keep trying to go there. 

Part of her knows that’s why she called the man in the first place. She wants to justify continuing to be with Waverly, but she doesn’t think that she can. The last thing she wants it for that woman to get hurt, that bright and bubbly joyous personality. All Nicole wants to do is protect her. That even means from herself. 

After being on the treadmill for 15 minutes, Xavier makes his way over and fires up the one beside her. She sighs, slightly relieved that he’s a little bit closer so she can delve into the possibilities. Her hand aches, heart aches, legs ache. 

“How’s the hand?” He asks, legs carrying him at a light jog. 

“Still broken,” Nicole replies, lifting it up slightly for him to see. 

“And the girl?” He asks now. 

Nicole feels like she’s been kicked in the gut, the wind leaving her lungs. She starts coughing, nearly loses her footing, and can barely manage turning the machine off with her left hand. Thankfully she does because she really can’t afford to hurt herself any further. 

“Not great,” Nicole admits, “I can’t have her getting hurt.” 

He stops the machine suddenly, staying on the rubber until he falls off of the back of it and lands on his feet. She feels his gaze piercing into her soul, the bit that’s left anyway. It makes her feel like he’s going to arrest her on the spot. The man is terrifying. 

“We don’t get to choose our destiny,” he says, “Sometimes our lives make sense and sometimes they don’t. It isn’t up to us. That girl adores you. You adore her.” 

“But we aren’t supposed to be together,” Nicole reasons, “We’re supposed to be with different people.” 

“What’s your story, Haught?” He asks. 

“My story?” She replies, confusion creeping in, “What do you mean?” 

“Can you see in color?” He asks. 

“Since I was a kid,” Nicole conforms with a nod. 

“And can she?” He asks. 

“Same for her,” Nicole says, “Our soulmates are out there. What if we fall in love and decide to spend our lives together then, boom, those soulmates come back and we are forced to make a choice? Our lives will be taken from us.” 

“Love isn’t easy,” he says with a sigh, “Soulmates aren’t easy either, but maybe if you give it a chance it’ll work itself out.” 

“It’ll kill me if she gets hurt,” Nicole says. 

“Why did you want to meet me?” He asks. 

“I wanted to know if we were together, would it be ok?” Nicole admits. 

She looks at her hand, broken and healing inside of a cast. Broken because she lost her temper and punched a man who was saying things about Waverly. She has never cared about a woman before, not like she cares for Waverly, not really at all. Waverly makes it easy to like her, to care about her, to even love her. There’s no doubt in Nicole’s mind just how deeply she feels for this woman. 

“I don’t know,” Xavier says, “But it isn’t up to me. Being with someone you love sounds pretty damn good to me, but you have to decide if you can stomach it. If you can handle it when things aren’t always perfect. Seems like right now they’re pretty perfect.” 

“They are the opposite of perfect,” Nicole says, chuckling softly in her throat. 

“The law will change and soon,” he says, “It’ll be hard but if you love each other you might make it through.” 

“Might,” Nicole echoes. 

Nice, kind and considerate Waverly has been buried deep, deep down as this complete and utter panic engulfs her. 

She's staring Wynonna down, scream caught in her throat, and it’s truthfully all she wants to do. She doesn’t know if she’s overwhelmed with excitement or this feeling of helplessness. Either one, it’s weighing her down. 

Nicole Haught is her freaking soulmate. 

The woman she loves is actually her soulmate and it’s a feeling she literally has no idea how to compute. She needs clarity. She needs Nicole. 

But first she just needs to power through this panic attack. 

“What the hell is going on?” Wynonna finally grumbles. The grumbling isn’t particularly angry. It’s more Wynonna’s impatient tone, and it really isn’t helping. “Baby girl?” 

“Ok so,” Waverly says curtly. She feels her nerves flaying and she begins to unravel. It hits her like a flash of lightening and the tears start welling in her eyes: Nicole is her soulmate. She tries to steady her breathing and it does not help one bit. “Nicole is my soulmate.” 

The tears burst over the brim and her vision blurs. She’s thinking this certainly can’t be real. She lifts her hands to cover her face, hiding the tears from her messy yet surprisingly collected older sister. 

“I’m hearing you,” Wynonna says. Waverly hears jingling that prompts her to spread her fingers apart and peek at Wynonna. She sees a very stressed look on Wynonna’s face. “But I don’t think I’m actually hearing you. Nicole? Your soulmate? How the hell...?” 

“It’s almost-“ 

“How can you be sure?” Wynonna interrupts. 

Waverly really can’t piece it all together. She has all of the facts in clips and doesn’t think she can appropriately fix everything to scientifically prove the possibility. Instead, she stares at Wynonna and swallows thickly. Her mouth feels suddenly dry and she needs a drink. Maybe even a strong one. 

“How were you sure?” Waverly asks, sincerity seeping into her voice. She hopes to get some comfort from Wynonna’s answer. 

“I wasn’t five years old, for starters,” Wynonna says, slightly incredulous, “Are you sure you’re not remembering this the way that you want to remember this?” 

“This is Nicole,” Waverly says stubbornly. They stare at each other for a moment. Everything is running through Waverly’s mind at a million miles per hour, but ultimately all she can do is think about seeing Nicole. “I have to talk to her.” 

Waverly Earp breaks many traffic laws driving over to Nicole’s house. In her passenger seat sits a pile of damning evidence she’s prepared to present to Nicole by way of convincing the woman not only can they be together, but they’re meant to be together. Still, she is nervous that perhaps it won’t be convincing enough. 

Last time they saw each other, Nicole was mad. Really mad. Waverly isn’t even sure that Nicole would want to see her again. But what they have is true love, right? And true love always wins. 

However, her excitement begins to fade when she arrives at Nicole’s house and her car isn’t there. Although they haven’t known each other long, she knows that Nicole doesn’t know a lot of people in town and everyone who does know her has been pushing her towards Waverly. There’s an ache in her chest. She really should have listened to Wynonna. She knows that her sister isn’t good with feelings but maybe she has it right protecting herself so well. 

The tears begin to collect in her eyes, clouding her vision. A blur moves across her eyesight but she can’t quite make it out, so she holds her breath hoping to just be ignored. She counts to 20 before there’s a knock on her window. It makes her jump. She blinks a few times to try and clear the tears, but that doesn’t fair so well. 

Her door opens before she can make a move to open it, and she sighs heavily. All of the energy and excitement she had gathered to confront Nicole has evaded her and when she looks at the woman all she sees is a blob of her outline. She can’t leave now. 

“Waves-“ 

She grabs the door by the handle and tries to close it, a fruitless click sounding in her ears. The door pops back open quickly and a gust of cold wind punches her in the face. A tear slips out of her eyes, sliding down her cheek at a snail’s pace. 

“Waverly,” Nicole says, voice still gentle. 

With a shake of her head, she tries to close the door again. She really can’t handle the rejection that’s coming from Nicole. When she wasn’t looking, she fell in love. She allowed herself to believe that Nicole could be her long lost soulmate. She really can convince herself of anything. The door, however, doesn’t close and after she blinks a few times she realizes that Nicole is holding her cast in the way from the door closing. 

“Waverly Earp,” Nicole says, voice harder, “You can’t drive when you’re crying. I won’t let you.” 

“Stop,” Waverly croaks out, “Stop being so nice to me.” 

“Why?” Nicole asks, genuinely feeling hurt. Waverly looks at her again, heart dropping to her stomach like nothing makes sense anymore. She had come here with a clear mission and now all she wants to do is abort, leave without pouring her heart out. “Why can’t I be nice to you?” 

“I upset you,” Waverly replies. 

“I don’t have to be a jerk just because I’m upset,” Nicole says. Waverly watches silently as Nicole wraps her freehand around the door and pulls it open. Waverly lets her hand fall onto the seat beside her. Nicole sighs and drops her gaze. “You know why I’m upset, right?” 

“Why are you upset?” Waverly asks, voice shaky. 

“Come inside, please,” Nicole says, hand covering Waverly’s, “We need to talk.” 

Waverly sighs, feeling the breakup for a second time as it settles into her stomach. The tears prick harder as she nods slowly. Something compels her to reach over for the stack of items in her passenger seat and takes them inside with her. The house is warm but she keeps her jacket on anyway, reluctant to get too comfortable for when Nicole asks her to leave. 

“Do you want to sit?” Nicole asks. 

“Should I?” Waveely says under her breath, like she’s scared. 

“Yeah,” Nicole replies, “I think so.” 

Reluctantly, Waverly sits on the couch and sets everything in her hands on the coffee table in front of her. Nicole sits beside her but leaves quite a bit of space between them. She feels bad, like she created this distance between them when Nicole makes her feel like she could have hope. 

“Why are you upset?” Waverly tries again. 

“I’m upset because I feel like everything is slipping through my fingers,” Nicole says. 

“Like what?” Waverly asks. 

“Waverly,” Nicole counters, “Why are you here?” 

“Oh,” she hums in response. She wasn’t expecting to just get into it so quickly. Here she is, even now, begging Nicole to just pour her heart out and she’s resistant to the very last second. She sniffles, blinking and pulling the tears all of the way back into their sockets. “It seems stupid now.” 

“Why?” Nicole asks. 

“Because you’re upset,” Waverly says. 

“I’m upset because I got in trouble at work, because I have feelings for you but we can’t be together,” Nicole says, voice unwavering. 

“Why can’t we?” Waverly asks. 

“Because I don’t want you to get hurt,” Nicole says, scooting closer and lightly resting her hand on Waverly’s knee, “It would kill me if I hurt you. If we fell in love only to find out we can’t be together.” 

“I think,” Waverly says, expelling a breath to steady herself; she bites the bullet, “You’re my soulmate.” 

“What?” Nicole says, hand staying on Waverly’s knee but her face contorting in confusion. 

“I know it sounds crazy,” Waverly says, bowing her head and covering her face with her hands for a brief moment, “I know it sounds like I’m just remembering things the way that I want to remember them. Trust me, I’ve already heard it all from Wynonna. But I really think it’s you.” 

“Waverly,” Nicole sighs, “I’m sorry, but that’s just impossible.” 

“I know you think that,” Waverly replies, “But I have it all right here.” 

She gestures to the stack of things she brought in with her. Nicole’s gaze shifts between them and all she wants to do is just have Nicole believe her. That would make everything so much easier. Slowly, Nicole’s hand slides away from her knee as she reaches for the stack. She takes little pieces at a time, balancing them in her one hand as she looks through it. She stacks items in a new pile in front of her, seeming to take in every scrawl of thought Waverly has written down on a piece of paper. Waverly doesn’t know how much time passes before Nicole finally gets to a picture. She gasps and after a full minute sets it down. 

She looks up at Waverly, shock and awe written on her face. Waverly watches as Nicole absently licks her lips. Finally she says, “I believe you.” 

“You do?” Waverly asks. 

“Yeah,” Nicole says. 

“Nicole,” Waverly murmurs softly, “I’m, um, I’m in love with you.” 

“Really?” Nicole asks, eyes lighting up. 

“Yeah,” Waverly says, smiling finally. 

“There it is,” Nicole says, smiling back, “There’s that smile I love.” 

They stare at each other. Waverly blinks and she can see more clearly again. The tears still cling to her eye lashes. 

“Come here,” Nicole says with a pout. She scoots closer and lifts her good hand to wipe at Waverly’s tears. Once the tears are gone, she presses her palm against Waverly’s cheek. “Love was never a question, baby. It came so easily. It’s the fear of losing you that makes everything so hard.” 

“You won’t,” Waverly says, “We’re meant to be together.” 

“I know,” Nicole says. She sighs, sounding relieved. Slowly, she leans forward and kisses Waverly softly. Their lips press together and huddle in warmth, everything inside of them pouring out without the kiss deepening. Nicole pulls back and rests her forehead against Waverly’s. “I think deep down I’ve always known.” 

Waverly smiles and kisses her again. This time she presses her hands against Nicole’s knees and slides them upward, squeezing Nicole’s thighs. Nicole’s lips part beneath hers and the kiss deepens, the other woman’s one good hand sliding around to delve into her hair and pull her closer. She throws her weight forward, pressing Nicole onto her back against the couch cushions and slipping between her thighs. Waverly’s hands press against Nicole’s waistline, slipping beneath her shirt and finding purchase against her stomach. 

Laughter bubbles out of both of them and it takes everything inside of Waverly to disengage her lips from Nicole’s to breathe again. She feels like she would much rather suffocate than be away from Nicole again. It’s a silly feeling, but Waverly’s heart grows in her chest and beats against her ribcage. 

She’s pretty sure Nicole can feel it too. 

Nicole gets a phone call from Xavier, this time asking her to meet him at the shooting range. She huffs at first, annoyed, but ultimately agrees. The annoyance is two-fold: first being that she has to get out of her warm bed with Waverly all curled up beside her and, second, that he has the audacity to invite her to the shooting range when she can’t even properly hold a gun. 

Despite the frustration, she meets him there. 

He’s already loaded up and pointed at a target, pulling a trigger so rapidly that she feels like she’s about to be embarrassed. She takes her gun, not the one issued by the police station, and carries it in her left hand. She really doesn’t know how she’s going to pull this off. 

“Haught,” he greets. 

“Dolls,” she responds in kind, “Some balls you have asking me to come here.” 

“With that right hand out of commission, you need the practice,” Dolls replies. 

“I’m right eye dominate,” she says, like it’s plain as day. 

“So,” he says with a light shake of his head. They both linw their targets up but neither of them shoot. She can barely hold her gun in her left hand. This can’t possibly be safe practice. “Heard you got your girl trouble figured out.” 

“She’s my soulmate,” Nicole replies. 

“You sure?” Dolls asks. 

“Certain,” Nicole answers. 

“Good,” he says, “You two are good together.” 

He immediately pulls the trigger, firing the entire round at his target. 

She’s slow to join him, but she eventually fires off the entire clip. 

Nicole wakes up before the sun, Waverly’s weight pressed on her chest. It amazes her how much contact Waverly enjoys while sleeping. Usually, Nicole doesn’t enjoy it. Her typical bed sharing habits included putting space between her bed buddy, but with Waverly it feels different. Everything feels different. The kisses mean more than they ever have with anyone else. 

She wishes she could reach out and touch her, trace patterns, but Waverly is asleep on her good arm. Instead she has to supplement the desire with just silently watching her. Time moves by slow enough that Nicole’s pretty sure she’s discovered she’s looking at the most beautiful woman in the world. And she gets to call Waverly hers, her soulmate. 

She sighs loudly. 

Waverly stirs and Nicole instantly feels guilty. She feels Waverly’s hand slide against her stomach before she moves to stretch. Nicole holds her breath, hoping that Waverly will go back to sleep. 
She doesn’t. She tilts her chin up and places a kiss against Nicole’s jaw. She says, “Mm, I love this.” 

“Oh yeah?” Nicole hums. 

“Yeah,” Waverly says, laying her head back on Nicole’s chest. She reaches across Nicole’s torso and touches Nicole’s exposed fingers, walking up her arm. With a gentle sigh, she presses her palm against Nicole’s arm and slides it up to her shoulder.

“Nicole?” 

“Yeah, baby?” She asks. 

“I’ve been thinking,” Waverly starts. 

“Ok,” Nicole says, tone encouraging her to continue. 

“Do you think one day we could get married?” Waverly asks. 

“I think we have to,” Nicole replies. 

“Have to?” Waverly says. 

“Yeah,” Nicole says, smirking as she kisses the crown of Waverly’s head, “I need it.” 

Waverly is quiet for a minute. She presses a kiss to Nicole’s throat and pulls back to look at her face. She says, “So you want to?” 

“Yeah I want,” Nicole says. 

Waverly plants soft kisses all around her face before kissing her soundly on the lips. She lets her hand slip beneath the fabric of Waverly’s shirt, tracing patterns with her one good hand as her girlfriend pins down her casted one. She wonders how she so easily decided she wants to marry this woman, that they’re so perfect together that she’s ready to spend forever with her soulmate. 

Unlike other people, she never much thought about what would happen when she saw her soulmate again. She truthfully never thought it would happen. The concept of it seemed impossible given that she met her soulmate so young, that she never saw her face, that she didn’t even know where they were. 

It almost seems too good to be true. 

So she tries to call her parents to confirm, but they don’t answer. 

Ignorance is bliss. If no one can prove otherwise, she’ll lean into it. Believe it. Because she would love nothing more than to be with the person who so easily fits into her life. Waverly enriches her. It’s who she needs. 

Waverly makes her see all of the colors of the rainbow. 

Chapter Text

The moon hangs low in the sky. Last she heard from Nicole was hours ago and her phone has been mostly silent ever since. It doesn’t help the worry brewing inside of her. She can’t help it. After the last month of being together, she feels like everything is perfect.

She’s still getting to know Nicole, but they spend every moment that they possibly can together. Everything she finds out about the woman she likes. Nicole has many great qualities. She’s handy, a good person, kind and thoughtful. Although she’s had a little difficulty using that left hand, she’s definitely improved.

Things around the homestead have been fairly busy. Between Wynonna and John brewing their beer and her sister balancing budding relationships with 2 men, the house is almost never silent. It went from being quiet, just the two of them, to almost having at least 2 people in the house.

Waverly likes both of Wynonna’s soulmates. They have different qualities about them that she likes. They both manage to offer Wynonna things she needs. It also helps keep Waverly sane with other ways to entertain Wynonna, things to keep her out of trouble.

“Ready, baby girl?” Wynonna asks.

It breaks her attention from her spot in the kitchen, leaning against the counter as she looks at her phone. Part of her wants to text Nicole, but she doesn’t. She knows she’s on the way back from the nearest city, getting her cast removed. She had been excited to become a fully functioning human being again. Waverly truly doesn’t blame her, but she really can’t help worrying about Nicole’s safety. She cares about her so much.

“I thought we were waiting on Nicole,” Waverly says, voice encompassing a sad huff.

“She’ll be back soon,” Wynonna says. She moves into the kitchen and elbows Waverly playfully. It hurts a little, so she stands upright. Looking at her sister, she’s immediately met with wiggling eyebrows. “If she’s good in bed with her left hand, think about how she’ll be now that she can use her right.”

“We actually haven’t...” Waverly trails off. Her sister’s eyes practically bug out of her head. Sure, they’ve done a few things, but mostly just making out and stuff from the waist up. Waverly’s been too nervous to ask and Nicole’s been too respectful to try. Swallowing, Waverly says, “Kinda hard to do with a cast.”

“Uh, she has a mouth,” Wynonna scoffs.

“Wynonna,” Waverly screeches, pushing her sister, “Seriously?”

“I don’t want to know, baby girl,” Wynonna says, holding up her hands in defense.

“You brought it up,” Waverly replies, voice going higher.

Wynonna doesn’t much acknowledge her, simply shrugging instead. With a light shake of her head she begins towards the door, boots echoing in the floor. She always makes this weird jingle when she walks.

“The boys are lighting the fire,” Wynonna yells from the other room. The sound of the door closing echoes throughout the house. Waverly shakes off her worry and follows her sister outside. It’s chilly and she shivers when the cold air whips against her cheeks. “Sorry, baby girl! There’s only four chairs!”

Waverly sighs as she drops down into the chair. Nicole isn’t even here yet and she has no idea when she’ll arrive. Still, it isn’t fair that they’re doing this together.

“Can’t we just wait a few more minutes for her?” Waverly asks.

“She’s pulling in,” Xavier says, pointing over Waverly’s shoulder.

She turns to look and sighs with relief upon seeing Nicole’s headlights cutting through the night. Nicole parks her cruiser and gets out of the vehicle, her shadow making her way over with the crunch of her shoes on the ground. Spring is sliding into summer with a little bit of lingering from the cold winds. Waverly hugs the blanket tighter to her body as she stands to her feet, smiling when Nicole’s face is lit up by the blazing fire.

“Hey, baby,” Nicole murmurs when she’s close enough.

Waverly smiles and takes her right hand into hers, lifting it to her mouth to place a soft kiss against her knuckles. It’s interesting to hold her right hand, now cast free for the first time in a month. Her hand feels different, warm and soft from lack of use for weeks. Nicole smiles at her, mouth soft and kind. It’s a sight she’s becoming more and more familiar with:

With a tug on Nicole’s hand as guidance, Nicole sits in the chair. Waverly lowers herself onto Nicole’s lap, wrapping warm arms around her own waist. She settles into the warmth easily, leaning back against Nicole’s chest. She feels Nicole’s nose against her neck, nuzzling into her gently.

Before they get a chance to talk, Wynonna announces that it’s time to try the beer they’ve had brewing for the last 5 weeks. John passes them each a beer. Waverly cradles it in her hands as she reads the label. It says Old West Libations on it with the claim that it’s an Earp-Holliday production. Dolls comes around and pops the cap off of them.

“To success,” Dolls says, as he raises his bottle in the air.

“To love,” John adds.

Waverly giggles at the words coming out of John’s mouth. She feels Nicole’s right hand press against her thigh as she leans forward, perching the opening of the bottle between her lips. They all take a drink at the same time. It tastes like orange but has a light feeling. As she moves the bottle down from her mouth she leans over to place it on the ground beside their feet. Nicole follows her lead, immediately returning her hand to Waverly’s waist and slipping it beneath the fabric of the blanket.

She feels Nicole’s fingers against her stomach, pressing hard to keep her there. They lean into each other for a few minutes, Wynonna and John chatting away about other ideas they have. When she changes a look at Dolls he seems to not be paying attention to their conversation. She wonders how they all 3 work, but when Nicole places a soft kiss against her shoulder she realizes they haven’t seen each other all day.

“Hey,” Waverly says.

“Hi,” Nicole says back, “I got you something.”

“Come inside,” Waverly replies. Nicole nods in agreement. They both get up from the chair and head inside, hands clasped together. As they go, Waverly looks at her sister who just wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. It makes Waverly roll her eyes and not bother saying anything. Once they’re away from the cold air, she asks, “What is it?”

Slowly, Nicole grins and pulls something out of her jacket pocket. Since the establishment that they’re soulmates, they’ve both smiled easier and talked more. Waverly has certainly enjoyed Nicole’s company even more, but tonight she thinks she’s ready. She’s been thinking about them being together, how they need to take the next step.

“You’ve been talking about taking the next step,” Nicole says. Waverly nods in agreement. She has said that. She’s just been too scared to do it, too scared to initiate it. Nicole pushes out a deep breath and reveals the item in her hand. “And I agree. I think it’s time we do it.”

“Uh huh,” Waverly says, eyes wide. Her mouth goes dry.

“You are my soulmate, I know it in my gut,” Nicole says, “And one thing I’ve learned is to trust my gut. So, I got this for you.”

“Oh,” Waverly says, suddenly realizing they aren’t talking about the same thing, “I was kind of hoping we could...you know.”

Nicole looks at her, confusion taking over her face, and shakes her head lightly; she says, “I don’t...”

“Sex,” Waverly whisper yells, “I was talking about sex.”

“Oops,” Nicole says quickly. She pushes the item back into her jacket pocket and Waverly realizes what it is. It’s a square, black, velvet box potentially housing a beautiful ring. Her heart sinks into her stomach. It doesn’t help that Nicole is standing so very far away. “I really did not catch that.”

“No kidding,” Waverly huffs, now upset that not only wont they be having sex but she also won’t be getting a ring.

“I’m sorry, baby,” Nicole says as she steps forward, placing her hands on Waverly’s hips and drawing her closer, “I didn’t want to pressure you. I know it’s your first time and everything. I just wanted you to set the pace.”

“It’s really nerve wracking that you just expect me to make the first move,” Waverly says.

“I don’t!” Nicole says defensively, “But I’m not very coordinated with my left hand anyway.”

“Ok,” Waverly says slowly, looking up at her girlfriend through thick lashes and feeling her frustration melt quickly, “Well, do you want to...since your cast was taken off?”

“The doctor said I might be a little weak,” Nicole replies, visibly cringing. Waverly feels Nicole remove her right hand and lift it into the space between them. Even while wiggling her fingers her hand looks a little stiff. Nicole pouts. “I kind of feel like I’m going to be rather disappointing.”

“You are never disappointing,” Waverly says. Nicole smiles as she lowers her hand, skating her fingertips across Waverly’s jaw. She leans into the touch, basking in the lovely way that Nicole’s soft fingers stick against her skin. Heart swelling with love, she turns her head to kiss Nicole’s palm. “I know you’re not feeling very confident right now but I just want you to know how much I want you.”

“I want you too,” Nicole says with a sigh.

Waverly smiles as big as she can, excitement warming through her. She feels a little bit of adrenaline coursing inside of her, something that makes her reach for Nicole and wrap both arm around her waist. Leaning in, she tilts her chin upward and puckers her lips on wait for Nicole to meet her halfway. She parts her lips beneath Nicole’s and darts her tongue out, flicking it against Nicole’s bottom lip until she feels her girlfriend (?) melt beneath her hands to deepen the kiss.

They pull back and, feeling a little breathless, Waverly asks, “Do you want to go upstairs?”

“Yeah;” Nicole says with a small nod, running her hands up Waverly’s sides, “I do.”

Beaming, Waverly slips her hand into Nicole’s and pulls her upstairs. Once closing the bedroom door, she turns to face Nicole who is lowering herself to sit on the edge of the mattress. With a comforting nod from the redhead, Waverly moves across the room and takes her cheeks into her palms. For once, she’s taller than Nicole and looking down at her really seems to send a feeling straight to the bottom of her stomach. She feels strong and powerful, cupping her woman’s face in her hands while receiving a look of total and complete trust.

“You’re so beautiful,” Waverly croons.

A pretty blush touches Nicole’s cheeks as Waverly presses her weight against her lap, knees flush with Nicole’s hips and straddling her thighs. She presses a soft kiss against Nicole’s mouth, pleasantly surprised when she feels both of Nicole’s hands trace her spine. After a few chaste kisses, Nicole lowers her lips to the skin of Waverly’s exposed collarbone and sweeps her tongue across the flesh before lightly biting down. Waverly gasps excitedly, already feeling more heat between them than ever before.

“That feels good,” Waverly hums, arching her chest more into Nicole’s mouth, “Keep doing that.”

She feels Nicole’s hands against her back, moving down and down and down until they’re both smoothing over the curves of her ass. Nicole’s hot mouth paints kisses along her cleavage. She likes the feeling of Nicole’s hands on her, gentle and warm. Part of her is glad they waited until now, reveling in the way Nicole’s hands slip into the space between them and lift her.

With the movement, their lips disconnect. Waverly immediately pouts and leans forward to connect them again. Nicole shifts, taking her off guard as she presses Waverly onto her back and settles between her thighs. Her girlfriend’s fingers squeeze the flesh at the back of her thighs before pushing up her sides, tickling her lightly as she guides her blouse up her torso. Nicole presses kisses against the exposed skin, appreciating her body like it’s a work of art. Waverly moans appreciatively, arching her stomach upwards to linger in the contact.

A kiss just above her belly button.

One against her ribcage.

Another below the wire of her bra.

She pulls back to peel Waverly’s shirt off. She sits up to offer her help. Their lips touch again, Nicole’s left hand holding herself up as she reaches around Waverly’s body and, with deft fingers, unclasps her bra. It’s chilly with her body so exposed, but Nicole quickly warms her with kisses against the swell of her breasts before sucking a nipple into her mouth. Waverly responds, delving her fingers into Nicole’s hair and pulling her closer. The feeling sends waves through her body, making an ache throb at her core.

All of the oxygen escapes her, fingers tugging on Nicole’s hair until she lets go and she can breathe again. Nicole presses a smile against her mouth, both hands moving to unbutton Waverly’s tight jeans. The movement prompts Waverly to pull at Nicole’s shirt, unbuttoning it to run her hands along her warm skin. Helping, Nicole removes her hands from Waverly’s zipper and starts throwing her arms around to remove her jacket and shirt.

Waverly tried to help, one arm at a time, pushing at her sleeves until all she can see is milky white skin glowing in the moonlight. She can’t help but touch, running her fingers along Nicole’s shoulders and sides and stomach before bravely pressing her palms against both breasts. When she lifts her gaze to Nicole’s, all she can see is kindness and patience.

“Is this ok?” Waverly asks, fingers slightly hooking beneath the material of Nicole’s bra and grasping on.

She realizes that she’s never seen Nicole without a shirt on, which is a shame because she’s definitely a sight to see. Despite her own nervousness creeping up, she feels Nicole’s fingers wash them away as they skate up her shoulders and brush her jawline. Nicole easily pulls her in for another deep, fiery kiss that leaves her breathless.

When she pulls back, she can barely see Nicole’s eyes searching her own before she murmurs, “It feels good.”

Waverly smiles sheepishly, hoping that Nicole can’t see the fear in her facial features. All of that confidence she was feeling minutes ago have banish as seemingly all of the research she did regarding this impending moment is instantly forgotten. Thankfully, Nicole’s lips descend against her flesh, placing kisses against her neck.

“Oh,” Waverly says as Nicole swirls her tongue against a spot on her shoulder. Instinctively she tilts her head and gives Nicole better access. She’s also taken off guard when knuckles brush over her nipple, short nails scratching her skin. Nicole’s fingers continue to brush over it, bringing it to a peak as her skin begins to warm. A moan topples out of her mouth unexpectedly and it only seems to spur Nicole on, painting a trail with her tongue all of the way to her other breast. Breathlessly, she whispers, “Wow.”

Nicole’s tongue wraps around her erect nipple and Waverly’s body responds easily, pressing harder into Nicole’s mouth. After catching her breath, Waverly slides her hands down Nicole’s torso the clasp in her jeans and pushes at the waistline. Nicole pulls back and Waverly whimpers. She watches as Nicole moves away to take her jeans off. It clicks in her brain to do the same. With more and more clothes removed, her doubts begin to rise to the surface.

Waverly pushes up to her knees and crawls closer to Nicole, circling her arms around her neck and pulling her in for another kiss. The kiss deepens. It’s lazy and warm. Nicole’s hands encase her, tracing her curves until she slips her right hand beneath waist and of her panties. She hesitates her movements.

Pulling her lips from Waverly’s, Nicole asks, “Can I touch you?”

“Yes,” Waverly says, voice sounding eager.

Nicole’s hand pushes between her thighs but the waistband of her panties catches on her hips. She holds her breath in anticipation. Her girlfriend trails her fingers over her clit, rubbing gentle circles and making her stomach muscles tighten.

She spreads her legs farther apart. Her breathing becomes quicker. Nicole’s skin feels warm beneath her fingertips. For a moment, Nicole teases her entrance. As she slides a finger into Waverly’s center, she also guides Waverly back onto the bed. She feels Nicole’s knee slip between her thighs and make them wider. With easier access, she feels Nicole’s finger slip deeper before she pulls it back out. She thrusts her fingers slowly and as she does this, Waverly feels all of her muscles tighten.

“I’m close,” she says, moving her hips to meet Nicole’s movements.

“I can’t,” Nicole says, stopping her movements and retracting her hand. Waverly watches in shock as Nicole lifts her hand and starts shaking it. “Cramp. I’m so, so, so sorry.”

She’s silent for a long moment, brain trying to catch up to what exactly is going on. Finally she seems to click everything into place, but she’s still throbbing as she sits on the edge. She gives Nicole a soft smile as she forces them to connect their gazes with one hand, gliding her other down in the space between them.

“It’s ok,” Waverly says, “Just look at me.”

Nicole nods in response. Waverly slips her hand into her panties and picks up where Nicole left off. Nicole stares, eyes wide, before she places kisses on Waverly’s throat. She rubs herself into the tightness in her stomach snaps and she comes with a moan.

“Oh god,” Waverly hums.

“That was,” Nicole starts, pulling back to look Waverly in the eye. She can’t form any words and suddenly looks ashamed. Waverly puts an arm around Nicole and pulls her close. After a few quiet moments of just holding each other, Nicole says, “I’m really sorry. That must have been so...terrible.”

“It wasn’t,” Waverly insists, digging her nails into Nicole’s shoulder, “It was perfect because it was with you and I know you love me.”

“I love you so much,” Nicole replies.

Waverly smiles and places a kiss against Nicole’s cheekbone. She says, “So, you got a ring?”

“Yeah,” Nicole says, sounding suddenly shy.

“Is it...for me?” Waverly asks.

“It is,” Nicole says. Nicole pulls away and Waverly feels cold. She pulls the blanket up to her chin as Nicole gets off of the bed, looking around the floor. Finally, she clambers back into the bed and slips beneath the sheets to curl up beside Waverly. She extends the black box towards Waverly and says, “Marry me?”

“Yes,” Waverly immediately says without looking at the ring. Nicole grins as she opens the box and takes the ring out of it. She finds Waverly’s hand and slips it onto the right finger. Waverly places kisses all over her face while giggles escape her. “You’re amazing.”

“You are,” Nicole responds.

They kiss softly, smiling the entire time. Waverly presses her hands against Nicole’s ribcage and climbs on top of her. Nicole steadies her with her soft hands.

Waverly pulls back and, with a rather serious look on her face, asks, “Can I try?”

Nicole laughs politely and nods.