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Fire & Rain

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October 1, 2015

Almost six years. Nicole Haught couldn’t believe that she was back in Purgatory for the first time after almost six years. Of all the job offers she could have accepted, Purgatory was the only one that she even gave a second glance to. It certainly wasn’t for the progressive culture of the small town or its renowned police force. No, she’s stepping out of her truck, boots crunching in the gravel of her new yard, because she’s hoping to run into the one that got away. The one that got taken away, more specifically.

The air smells the same and it triggers every synapse to begin firing all at once. Her eyes flutter closed at the overwhelming sensation and suddenly, she’s sixteen again.

----

November 10, 2007

Nicole Haught checks herself one last time -- braid tight, headband to catch the loose hair once it inevitably began to fall, two black streaks under her eyes. She rolls her eyes at the black marks under her eyes. Her coach swears that it helps catch the light and “reduce glare” but Nicole didn’t buy it. At least, it makes her look kind of cool. Which she definitely isn’t. Sports are the only thing she has going for her.

“Haught, c’mon! We gotta warm up!” Nicole’s head snaps to find her coach waving her out of the locker room.

“Coming, Coach!” She calls and claps her hands together.

It’s her first game on the varsity team and she’s determined to make sure that she’s earned her place on the team. She jogs out of the locker room and into the visiting gym. It’s old… Definitely in need of an update, but it’ll do. The town’s called Purgatory for Christ’s sake. The junior basketball player still swears that’s a joke. Every sign on their way in said otherwise.

“Alright, asshole! Hands to yourself.”

A voice cuts through all the noise. Nicole’s not even sure how it reaches her ears when there’s music playing, fans chattering, and the sound of shoes squeaking against the court -- making it almost impossible to hear anything that isn’t right next to you. Still, her eyes find the source of the voice immediately.

“Shit.” A whisper slips out of her lips as she sees the girl of her dreams. Okay, maybe that’s a bit… Dramatic. Or not. Nicole swallows a hard knot and takes in the sight of a dark-haired woman with eyes so blue that it hurts. There’s no way that is a student from her school. What does Purgatory have in the water?

“Oh come on, Wynonna!” The “asshole” retorts and Nicole’s jaw tightens when he reaches out for her again.

Wynonna.

In the next instant, Nicole sees Wynonna grab the wrist that reaches out for her. It all happens in a blur, but soon, Wynonna has the boy’s arm pinned against his own back and he’s pressed against the wall of the gymnasium. Nicole’s lips tug up in a little grin.

“I warned you. Hands to yourself. Next time, I’ll break your fingers. All of them. And you won’t be able to circle jerk with your buddies. Got it?”

“Nicole! Heads up!”

Nicole shakes her head and looks up just in time to catch a ball that was headed straight for her face. “Jesus!”

Max, Nicole’s closest friend on the team, jogs up next to her and punches her arm. “What the hell were you staring at?!” And her eyes search to find the answer of her own question and sees the brunette staring at the both of them. “Oh. You useless gay ass…”

“Hey can you shut up!?” Nicole bites in a whisper. She’s not exactly hiding the fact that she’s gay, but she really doesn’t need everyone in this damn town to hear about it.

“She’s hot, Haught. And staring at you.” Max says with a smirk.

“What?!” Nicole’s head whips back towards where she’d been staring and sure enough, she catches those blue eyes looking straight at her -- through her -- she’s not really sure. All she knows is she’s stopped breathing and she can’t pull her eyes away. By god, her knees feel like they’re going to buckle under her when she sees Wynonna bite at her lip and turn away, marching into the stands.

“God, you’re the same color as your hair! C’mon, you useless thing, you. We got a game to win so you can impress that new girlfriend of yours.” Max said with a smack to Nicole’s shoulder.

Girlfriend. God, that sounds great. Nicole hasn’t even had her first kiss with a girl yet, though. And she definitely wouldn’t mind if it happened to be with that girl.

Nicole somehow manages to get her head out of the clouds and back onto the court sometime through her warm-up. Fighting the urge to search for Wynonna in the crowd proves to be one of the tougher things that she’s done in her sixteen years of living. But she swears she can feel eyes watching her as she plays. And the thought makes her show out -- playing with more drive than she ever has before.

Sometime during the first half, Nicole posts up and lets loose a shot from behind the three-point line and it falls in with a hard swish. Loud cheers erupt throughout the stands, but her eyes settle on the one she’s hoping to find. Wynonna has this little smile on her face that Nicole can’t quite pin down, but she thinks it’s an impressed one. She hopes so anyway. Fueled by adrenaline, Nicole throws a wink at the girl before taking off in a sprint down the court to post up as defense.

The game rages on - it’s a close one until the last quarter. Nicole kicks into overdrive and settles on the fact that they’re going to win. And she’s going to talk to Wynonna. And she’s going to be able to be as confident as she had been out on the court when she finally gets around to it. Hell yeah.

They do win, much to the disappointment of the home team. Nicole’s never showered after a game so quickly in her life, still careful not to get her hair wet. The boys are playing after them, so she knows that they’ll be there a little while longer, but part of her wonders if Wynonna will still be in the stands when she gets out of the locker room.

She’s back to checking herself in the mirror, now clothed with a fresh pair of track pants, t-shirt, and her sneakers. Normally, she wouldn’t have bothered, but she quickly coats her lips with her lightly tinted chapstick before slinging her bag over her shoulder and heading back out into the gymnasium.

With a one-track mind, Nicole’s eyes search the row where she’d spotted Wynonna before and her face falls. She’s not there anymore.

“Is your name really 'hot?'” Nicole jumps and spins around and there she is. Wynonna’s grinning at her with her foot propped against the wall beside the door Nicole just walked out of. Was she… Was Wynonna waiting for her? No way.

“I-- Uh…” Nicole shakes her head a little and laughs at herself. Pull it together, doofus. “Yeah. It’s H-a-u-g-h-t.”

“Hmm..” Wynonna pushes off of the wall and steps closer to the redhead, clearly giving her a thorough onceover. “At least you live up to it.”

Nicole feels her body warm and start to itch all at once. She just called you hot. Say something. Do something. Don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open. Max is right, you are a useless gay. Sounds are just about to start stumbling out of her mouth when Wynonna steps in to save her. Sort of.

“You know, I expected you to talk a lot more, Haught Shot. After that macho display out on the court. With the winking and whatnot.” Wynonna teases, punctuating her own word with a wink and Nicole thinks she might melt into a puddle.

“Maybe I just like listening to you talk,” Nicole replies, lacking the confidence to really deliver the line as flirtily as she would have liked to. Thankfully, the older girl seems to still find it cute because she chuckles from low in her throat. Fuck, that’s the sexiest laugh I’ve ever heard in my life.

“I am known to be un poco mouthy, so I guess that’s a good thing,” Wynonna replies.

“So, what can I call you?” Nicole plays it cool, as if she didn’t eavesdrop and learn her name earlier.

“You can call me a lot of things, Red. But my name is Wynonna. Wynonna Earp.” Earp. Like Wyatt Earp? The name was everywhere around town. Nicole raises a brow but that sweet smile stays in place on her lips. “Yes, like Wyatt Earp. He was my great-great grandaddy.”

“I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds cool,” Nicole says truthfully, flashing her teeth at Wynonna. There’s a flash of something -- something Nicole would have missed if she hadn’t been staring so intently at Wynonna -- that shines in Wynonna’s eyes and melts in the way her jaw relaxes. She seems grateful for what Nicole has said, but the meaning is lost on her.

“C’mon, Haughtstuff. I promise to have you back by the time the sweaty boys finish their game.” Wynonna nudges Nicole with her shoulder as she walks past her, leading the way.

“Where are we goin’?” Nicole follows her blindly.

“Not where I really want us to go, but it’ll do.”

What did that mean? Somehow, it comes off… Well, it comes off sexual. But that’s just Nicole’s wishful thinking, she figures. Not that she just wants to have sex with her. She wouldn’t even know where to start. Well, she kind of would know where to start. It’s not rocket science, but the clumsiness. Again, never even kissed a girl before. Much less…

Nicole shakes her head and focuses her eyes low as Wynonna walks ahead of her. What a nice ass… The sway of Wynonna’s hips is hypnotizing -- so hypnotizing that she doesn’t even notice she’s about to walk into the bar that separates the double doors of the exit. Her shoulder hits it and she winces.

Wynonna turns to see what’s happened and she can’t help but laugh that same dark chuckle from earlier. “There’s a bar there.”

“Yeah, I see that now,” Nicole says, blood rushing to her cheeks. Shit. Does she know I was literally staring at her ass? That look on her face… Survey says… Yes.

Nicole speeds up enough to catch up with Wynonna and walk side-by-side with her. Which is significantly easier to manage since looking over at her is a lot more obvious than checking her out from behind. Nicole realizes they’re headed out into the parking lot towards an old blue and white truck. Probably around a ‘92 or ‘93 make if Nicole had to guess. Her own truck was just a few years younger than that because that’s what she could afford. Her parents would match whatever she could raise and she ended up with a pretty decent ride (she thinks).

Wynonna walks around to the tailgate, lets it down, and hops up onto it in what looked like one fluid motion. Nicole stands there, a little dumbfounded. Her hand grips the strap of her bag at her shoulder and she still can’t believe she’s just followed a girl out to her truck.

“Hop on up, Haught. I won’t bite just yet,” Wynonna promises with a grin that shows her teeth. Nicole melts for the nth time since seeing her. A beat passes, but Nicole finally chucks her athletic bag into the bed of the truck and jumps into the spot Wynonna designates as hers with a pat of her hand.

“So you’re just a fan of girls’ basketball then?” Nicole asks, trying desperately to go about this as subtly as she can. (And failing miserable.)

“I’m not a fan of basketball at all. I wasn’t even going to watch that game, but something caught my eye.” Wynonna leans back on both of her hands and kicks her feet out in front of her, making sure to hold her gaze on Nicole until the redhead notices.

And she does. Her brown eyes follow Wynonna’s every movement. “Oh.” Nicole speaks before she can swallow the word.

“Yeah. Oh.” Wynonna smiles and shakes her head. “So, what’s your story, Haught?”

Nicole gives a shrug, turning her body to where one of her knees is lying bent on the tailgate while the other hangs off the edge -- her body naturally pulling to face Wynonna. “For one, you can call me Nicole.”

“Not gonna happen. Your last name is too good,” Wynonna assures, turning the corners of her mouth down in a brief frown before smiling again.

“Okaaaay…” Nicole chuckles. “I don’t really have a story. I play basketball, softball, and that’s about it. I’m pretty boring.”

Wynonna narrows her eyes and tilts her head skeptically. “I’ve got tingles that tell me you’re definitely not.”

“What about you, Wynonna? What’s your story?” Every bone in her body is telling her that Wynonna is something special. That she’s got layers she would love to peel back and discover. She’s never been drawn to a person this way before and in this moment, it feels like it’s the only thing she’s ever wanted in her life.

“You ain’t got the time for that, Red. Besides!” Wynonna sits up straighter, her body mirroring Nicole’s now -- one leg hanging off the tailgate and the other with her knee bent lying across the tailgate. She scoots closer to the younger girl until their knees are touching. The way that Wynonna reaches out and grabs one of Nicole’s hand in both of hers and starts tracing her finger across the lines of her palm makes Nicole swoon. “I asked first. What’s your deepest darkest secret, Nicole Haught?”

Nicole watches Wynonna’s finger on her hand for too many seconds before even beginning to think of her answer. She’s perfectly content to just sit here and enjoy the silence of the moment, to feel the electricity emitting from Wynonna’s fingertips coursing into her hand and going straight to her chest. Her heartbeat is so loud that she wonders if Wynonna can hear it, too. Finally she tears her eyes away and the two of them look up at the same moment. Brown meeting blue in the dimly lit parking lot.

“I like girls,” Nicole breathes out -- her body expelling the information on its own, compelled by Wynonna’s piercing stare and her tantalizing touch.

Wynonna almost wants to laugh, but something tugs at her heart and makes her smile softly instead. She pauses her fingers over Nicole’s hand and lets them drop down onto their legs, still holding it. “No one knows that, huh?”

Nicole swallows and shakes her head. “Not everyone. A couple people, but…”

“It’s okay. It’s a shitty world we live in. I get it.” The sad smile makes Nicole believe that Wynonna might know more about the shitty world than she does, but she doesn’t want to press. Not yet. “Hope you know… You made it kinda obvious to me,” she teases.

Nicole ducks her head down and pushes out a shaky chuckle. “Is that a good thing?”

Her gaze remains fixed on their joined hands. At least, she isn’t going to look up. Wynonna has other ideas, it would seem. One of Wynonna’s ringed hands comes towards her face and tilts her chin up to look at her. When she finally meets Wynonna’s stare again, Wynonna is just grinning. I’ll take that as a yes? Nicole thinks.

“Seriously, what happened to the star jock that sent a wink into the crowd?”

“Guess you make me nervous.” Nicole answers honestly.

“Okay, well how about this? Close your eyes, Haughtshot. Do it.” Wynonna gives a pointed look until the redhead finally complies. “Alright, now you’re back out on the court. Kicking all the ass like you apparently do. You make the final point or shot or whatever the fuck you say when you win the game. How’s it feel?”

Nicole tries to get her head in the same space it was out on the court, but she’s failing and she can’t help but shake her head.

“Oh c’mon, you dweeb! You just won another game. You see me in the stands watching you. Just like before. What’s going on in your head?”

The aggressiveness in Wynonna’s voice jostles Nicole and she’s able to finally begin to get lost in the moment. She can feel her blood rushing and her adrenaline spiking again. She sees Wynonna staring at her and she remembers winking at her. Her eyes open and Wynonna is closer than she had been a few seconds ago when this little game started.

It knocks the wind right out of her and all of the adrenaline from earlier rushes straight to her chest and pushes her forward. Their lips touch and Nicole pauses because she has no idea what to do now. She’s just had her first kiss and she has no fucking clue what to do. Shit shit shit.

Thankfully, Wynonna’s hand finds purchase on the back of Nicole’s head over her messy braid and pulls her closer. Wynonna parts her lips and Nicole mimics her, trying to follow Wynonna’s lead. Kissing seems instinctual. Goosebumps take over every inch of her body despite actually feeling warmer.

Kissing a girl is ten times better than she thought it would be. Stars? Nah. Fireworks? Lame. Butterflies? Not this one. None of the cliches seem to do this kiss justice. A pitiful sound comes from Nicole when she feels Wynonna’s tongue slip slowly into her mouth. Nicole relaxes into it and allows her body to speak for her.

They kiss. Forever and for not long at all. Nicole feels suspended in time but when she pulls away, it’s over too soon. Her eyelids are too heavy to open for the first few seconds. Was that real? Did she really just kiss a girl? Wynonna? Prettiest girl she’s ever seen? Was that real?

“Well, Haught damn, indeed.”

Nicole finally opens her eyes and notes the slight difference to Wynonna’s lips, fresh from kissing. From kissing her. It makes her giddy. Rolling her lips together, Nicole tries to stifle the full-blown, ear-to-ear grin that threatens to break through.

“Gimme your phone.” Wynonna holds out her hand expectantly and Nicole is still trying to get her mind off of the softness of Wynonna’s lips. “Today, Haught!”

Nicole scrambles and reaches inside her bag to grant the older girl’s wish. After a few taps on the keypad, Wynonna exits out of what she was doing and hands it back to the stunned redhead. “We better head back. Wouldn’t want you to get in trouble, would we?”

Nicole still hasn’t said a word since before their kiss. All she does is nod dumbly and watch as Wynonna hops back onto the ground and waits for Nicole to join her.

“Head on in, Haught. I gotta jet. See ya around.” Wynonna closes the tailgate of her truck and gives Nicole one last wink before hopping into her truck and peeling out of the parking lot.

Nicole’s left utterly shocked by the events of the night. Her phone rests in her hand, still, and she realizes she doesn’t know what Wynonna did. She’s hoping she at least programmed her number into the device so that Nicole can call her later. Or text. Though she was just now getting into that whole trend.

The basketball player shakes her head, trying to clear up her headspace. Right now it’s all Wynonna. Wynonna. Wynonna. Wynonna. She pushes out a long breath of air between her almost closed lips and heads back to the gym with light steps. She’s walking on sunshine right now.

By the time she makes it into the gym, the game is still going and she’s got to sit through a good bit more of it. She sits in the stands and pulls out her phone, tapping around to the random applications and notices there is a new contact. Wynonna (Nice Ass) Earp. Her cheeks redden again and she knows without a shadow of a doubt now that Wynonna caught her staring when she ran into the bar.

Maybe she should change it to just Wynonna Earp in case someone gets a hold of her phone or her parents happen to snoop around. Or something. She starts to, but she just can’t bring herself to do it.

A few moments later a new text comes through.

(1) New Message - Wynonna (Nice Ass) Earp

The cellular almost falls out of her hand with her excitement. She opens it and grins.

Wynonna: For the record, I like girls, too. ;)

The short text causes Nicole to bite her lip to keep from grinning. She’s not ready to talk to her friends about this just yet. Then she notices there was another text in this thread that she apparently “sent” a little while ago.

Nicole: You’re the best kisser in the whole world, Wynonna. <3, Haughtstuff.

Nicole can’t stop the laugh that bubbles up in her throat when she reads the text Wynonna sent herself in order to get her number. She isn’t lying, Nicole thinks to herself.

“Alright, Useless… What are you grinning and laughing about? Spill. Was it--?” Max starts but Nicole shushes her.

“I got someone’s phone number. That’s it. Shut your mouth.” Nicole somewhat threatens.

Fiiiine! Party pooper.” Max leans in close so that she can whisper. “But you better tell me about this next time we’re alone.”

“There’s nothing to tell. I just got a phone number, Max.” She lies, but she’s not ready to share that they’ve kissed yet. This is something that she wants to keep for herself. For just a little while longer.

Now, she turns back to her phone.

Nicole: Hope you know… You made it kind of obvious to me.

Wynonna: Good. See ya later, Red.