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Changing Times

Chapter Text

Nicole reckoned there was nothing better than seeing Waverly Earp’s face light up in a smile.

Sure, a greasy cheeseburger to devour after an intense workout always felt God-sent but it had to come a close second to Waverly’s radiance.

That might seem soppy but, hey, Nicole had been in love with her since fourth grade. She’d been in purgatory all of ten minutes when she looked at the house across the street and saw Waverly, face set in a determined pout, as she set off riding a bright pink bike. Of course, she’d immediately toppled sideways off it, but she was back on and trying again moments later, her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth in a show of intense concentration.

Back then Nicole wanted to walk over, introduce herself and congratulate Waverly once she’d mastered the art of cycling, but she’d been a weird kid with wonky teeth, thick-framed glasses, mussed hair and awful clothes picked out by her hippy parents. Perpetually unfortunate. Why would beautiful, determined, intelligent Waverly Earp want to associate with that?

Eight years later and Nicole still hadn’t properly introduced herself to Waverly. She’d missed her shot for a suave introduction. She’d had to make do with Wynonna’s offhand ‘Waves, this is Nicole’ the one time she had visited the McCready house to work on a school project.

So, she was in love with Waverly Earp. Join the fucking queue. Nicole was no longer the little, nervous, scrappy girl that had moved to Purgatory Eight years ago, but Waverly was still Waverly, head cheerleader and golden girl in town; universally adored.

Nicole was staring, kind of wistfully- who was she kidding: it was definitely wistfully, across the street where Waverly was chatting excitedly with her friends and getting into a car.

“Ugh. I know, right?” Wynonna’s voice broke Nicole out of her trance. “Cheerleaders are so annoying.” She smirked at Nicole. “Samantha perky-tits baker is looking good this year, though. If I swung that way…” She made a clicking noise and raised her eyebrows.

Nicole fixed her with a glare. “I thought you were going to lay off trying to get me laid this year?”

“Uh-uh,” Wynonna replied with a shake of her head. “I made no such promises and I will tell you why.” Wynonna paused, presumably for dramatic effect, making Nicole roll her eyes as she unlocked her car. 

Nicole decided to indulge her. “Please: enlighten me.”

Wynonna swung open the passenger side door and draped herself over the seat, boots up on the dashboard in typical no fucks given Wynonna fashion. “For starters, what have you been eating this summer - you’re, like, a foot taller and kinda stacked?”

Nicole felt her face warm. “I may have spoken to Dolls about a diet and fitness regime.”

Wynonna continued as if Nicole had never interrupted, “I know you wanna get some, Red. You’re no longer a brace-face, you’ve ditched the glasses, got a cool new haircut and have, apparently, been working out non-stop. Didn’t realise you were re-enacting a Rocky training montage every time you said you were ‘busy’.”

“Thanks, I think? But I did this for me; not to get any attention or anything.” Nicole turned the key in the ignition and backed them out of her drive. “Seatbelt on, Wy.”

Wynonna yanked her seatbelt on. “Sure, sure. I get that. It doesn’t mean that attention can’t be an added bonus for the new you - Hot Haught.”

“What was that?” 

“Haught-to-trot. Haught sauce. Naughty Haughty.” Wynonna cackled at the glare Nicole sent her way. “I can keep this up all day - no all of senior year!”

“I know.” Nicole turned the radio on and twisted the volume up until she could no longer hear Wynonna’s laughter.

The crowd of Freshers parted for Wynonna Earp as she sauntered down the hall. She was a force that even new kids sensed instinctually not to mess with. Very wise.

The familiarity of the cream walls, ugly linoleum floor and grey lockers lining the walkway gripped Nicole tight and reminded her that this was her final year. She smiled, turning it into more of a grimace as the screeching bell rang out to announce the start of the day. She wouldn’t mourn Purgatory High.

They approached their lockers and Wynonna rolled her eyes when she spotted the bright red spray painted ‘SLUT’ across the front of hers. “Wow - you wouldda thought they had time to paint over or wash that off during summer, right?”

“Shit. I forgot that was on there,” Nicole said with a sympathetic look that she knew Wynonna hated.

“Makes it easier to spot which one is mine.” Wynonna flung her locker open and rifled through its cluttered contents. Nicole just caught her murmuring, “you sleep with someone’s boyfriend two times…”

Nicole understood why people thought nothing fazed Wynonna. On the outside she was a solid wall, letting the words and looks glance off her. Nicole knew better.

Maybe that was why they had struck up this odd sort-of friendship last year. Nicole knew that no matter how unbothered you seemed, no matter how much of a lone wolf you claimed to be, you were living a lonely life being the object of people’s meanness. 

They were the same in the way they had been treated and in the thick skins they had developed to combat it. However, where Wynonna had acted out, Nicole had curled in on herself until she’d been almost invisible between the school walls.

It seemed her invisibility would be coming to an end this year. They’d barely been on school grounds for ten minutes, but people had been looking at her differently. Nicole was sure some thought she was a new kid.

Wynonna slammed her locker shut, ignoring the papers that stuck out of the sides, and leaned next to Nicole, who was re-organising her own pristine locker. “So, Nic, how does it feel to be the second hottest senior?”

Nicole raised an eyebrow as she replenished her emergency pen stash. “Are you sure about second hottest?”

Wynonna smacked a hand down on her shoulder. “Now that is what I’m talking about. Confidence! I’m so proud of you.” She wiped an imaginary tear from her eye. “They grow up so fast.”

“We’re the same age.”

“Whatever. My birthday is actually pretty soon so I think you’ll find I’m older than you… kiddo.”

Nicole closed her locker and stood straight, facing Wynonna. “Kiddo, huh? That’s weird to hear since I’m taller than you.”

Wynonna threw her head back and started down the corridor. “Alright, alright we get it! You drank your milk and grew like half a foot. You’re not even that much taller than me.”

“You keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.”

Wynonna glared over her shoulder. “You know what? I think I liked the old Nicole better. Less sassy.”

The cafeteria was serving the usual gruel for lunch and Nicole soldiered her way through it whilst she nodded along to Jeremy’s admiration of one of the jocks that had taken his fancy.

“Not that I want to be a shoulder to cry on or anything, but I think Chrissy broke up with him over the summer and I know he’s probably one hundred percent super straight, but he seems like a cool guy and we could be friends-”

Nicole lifted her head up from the grey mess on her plate. “Sorry - what did you say his name was?”

“Robin.” Jeremy said his name with a sigh.

“Oh yeah. He’s alright for a jock actually.”

Jeremy shuffled forward to the edge of his chair. “You know him?”

“Not really. His dad ordered a load of solar panels from my dad ‘cause they’re into the whole eco thing too so we’ve been to their house a couple of times. They invited us to dinner - you know, suburban family stuff.”

Jeremy took a moment to take in this, apparently valuable, information. “Maybe if he sees me recycling, he’d see we have something in common and we could strike up a conversation...”

“Or you could just talk to him like a normal person,” said Nicole like the massive hypocrite she is. At least she’d never tried to stage an opportune recycling moment to get Waverly’s attention. That would be a new low.

Nicole stared down at her phone.

[Wynonna]: I’ll be a tiny bit late. wait 4 me yh? 

[Nicole]: sure

Nicole rolled her eyes at her car steering wheel whilst the school parking lot slowly emptied around her.

Only a few minutes passed before another text came through.

[Wynonna]: also can u do me a favor?

[Nicole]: what is it?

[Wynonna]: can my kid sister get a ride with us? Her ride home blew her off. Fuckin dumb bf of hers

Nicole opened the message and sat looking at the keyboard on the screen before letting out a breath she hadn’t even known she was holding.

[Nicole]: yeah of course. Only if you turn up before next century. Where even are you?

A loud, frantic knocking against the passenger side window caused Nicole to drop her phone. “Shit. What the fuck Wynonna?!”

“You said to hurry up!” Wynonna grinned through the now open door at her as she pulled the seat forward and gestured grandly with her arm to the cramped backseat of Nicole’s car. “Your carriage awaits.”

Waverly Earp was now clambering into her shitty, ancient, three-door car. And Waverly was sending her a smile, despite her red rimmed eyes and flushed cheeks. “Hey. Thanks for this.” Waverly Earp was talking to her.

Nicole mentally slapped herself into the moment. “No problem.” She shrugged too frantically to look casual. “Makes sense since I’m going your way anyway.”

Waverly fixed her seatbelt on and scooted forward so she could lean into the space between the front seats. “Well it’s still nice of you. You didn’t have to-”

Wynonna let out a laugh. “Yes, she did. Haught knows I’d beat the crap out of anyone for letting you down so she was wise.” She playfully punched at Nicole’s shoulder.

Nicole glared at Wynonna as she started up the car. “Seatbelt, Wy. That’s strike two. Don’t make me kick you out of here.”

Wynonna very slowly put her seatbelt on, all the while sighing. “You wouldn’t kick me out. The drive home would be so boring without my company and you know it.”

“I’m sure I'd survive,” Nicole snarked as she turned out of the parking lot.

Wynonna made a hurt gasping sound whilst Waverly giggled and poked her sister in the back of the head. “She’d have my infinitely better company.”

“I get you a ride home, so you don't have to go on the disgusting STI infected school bus, and this is how you repay me?” Wynonna glared at Waverly, but her eyes shone with affection.

“Aw, don’t be like that. I know you love me,” Waverly teased.

Nicole almost found herself sighing out a yeah in tandem with Wynonna.

Nicole woke from a deep slumber, startled when a hand covered her mouth accompanied by a shush.

In one swift motion she sat up and punched the intruder in the gut, earning a sharp gasp of pain.

“The fuck? Nicole - it’s me-”

“Wynonna? How and why are you in my room in the middle of the night?” Nicole hissed out, already feeling the comfort of sleep leaving her. “Is this a nightmare?”

“Jeez. Thanks. A nightmare? Could’ve at least said a weird sex dream. You know how to make a gal feel special, Haught.”

Nicole sighed and flicked on her bedside lamp. “Definitely a nightmare if you’re involved. What do you want, Wynonna?” She looked at her phone and saw it was nearing one AM.

“I need a getaway driver. Nothing too illegal, I swear.” Wynonna flung herself onto the empty side of Nicole’s bed.

“By all means have a seat,” Nicole grumbled. “Please tell me you’re not robbing anyone?”

“Nah.” Wynonna avoided Nicole’s gaze as her eyes floated about the room. “Just a bit of casual B and E. But I swear it’s for a good cause.”

“How can that be for a good cause?”

“It’s for my sister.”

Nicole stood and moved over to her closet. “Alright. I’ll bite. Is she OK?” She grabbed a pair of sweatpants and pulled them on over the boxer shorts she’d been wearing to bed with an old band tee.

“No. The dickhead she was seeing hasn’t been treating her right. There’s only so many nights I can hear her crying down the phone before I take decisive older sister action. That girl is an angel and she deserves the world.”

Nicole nodded. “Alright. What do you want me to do?”

“You’re gonna drive me to a couple of places then back. All you need to do is stay in the car the whole time and keep the motor running.”

“You’re not gonna kill him, right?”

“Nah. He’s a typical macho, popular, teenage boy; embarrassment will be worse than death for him.”

“Sure. I’m in.”

Wynonna looked speechless for the first time since Nicole had known her. “Just- Just like that?”

Nicole shrugged. “Yeah. He’s a dick and she’s your sister. I’m in.”

Wynonna pulled a box of donuts from somewhere. “I didn’t even need these bribe donuts?”

“No, but they definitely help.”

Wynonna directed her to school first. Pulling up in the eerie, empty parking lot, Nicole turned to frown at Wynonna. “Why are we here?”

“I’ve got some stuff to put in his locker. Just keep a lookout and I’ll be like ten minutes.”

“But - what - Wynonna!” Nicole’s pleas for more information were ignored as Wynonna pulled her hood up and hefted a large duffel bag she’d grabbed from her house over her shoulder. She gave Nicole a wink and sauntered towards the dark school building, visible only in the dim glow of the streetlights along the road and the sliver of moon just peeking out between the cloud cover.

Nicole drummed her fingers on the top of the steering wheel, tapping her leg absently to the classic rock radio station.

She grabbed an iced donut and nibbled at it. 

She watched the school and it stayed in its peaceful slumber, only to be woken when the students returned to breathe life into it the next morning.

Wynonna reappeared a few minutes later with a grin on her face that Nicole knew spelled trouble. At least she was an accomplice rather than on the receiving end of it.

Nicole was backing out of the parking lot before Wynonna had even closed the car door.

“We good?” Wynonna asked, stuffing her now emptier duffel bag beneath her feet.

“Didn’t see anyone.” Nicole answered as she turned onto the road. “Where to now?”

“I’m feeling lucky.”

The only notice Nicole was given was a loud shout followed by the lights on the Hardy’s porch flickering on before Wynonna was sprinting down the street towards the car.

“Go go go!” Wynonna yelled whilst Nicole dropped her second donut, threw the passenger side door open and set the car into motion.

Nicole’s eyes widened when she saw movement in the rear-view mirror. 

Champ Hardy was chasing them down the road, all Forrest Gump style, dressed only in his tighty whities. “Is that a-”

Wynonna, breathless but triumphant, turned to her. “A dick on his forehead? In permanent marker? Why yes, it is, Nicole. What a keen eye you have.”

Nicole kept her foot on the accelerator and as they pulled away from the furious, and mostly naked, Champ, she couldn’t help bursting out into pure laughter.

Nicole parked in her driveway and turned to Wynonna. “What did Champ do to upset Waverly?”

“Apart from his generally dickish personality?”

Nicole merely raised one eyebrow in reply.

Wynonna sighed. “Even though I’m sure it will get around school eventually, please don’t tell anyone this-”

“Of course I won’t. Who would I even tell anyway?”

“Oh yeah, I totally forgot you have no friends.” Wynonna gave her a sly grin then let out a sigh. “Waves found out today that Champ cheated on her over the summer.”

Nicole felt a flash of anger spike through her chest. “And you didn’t let me run over him?”

“Believe me I considered it,” Wynonna muttered. “It was with fucking Stephanie Jones, too.”

Nicole felt her jaw drop. “I thought they were friends?”

“Yup. I don’t even wanna think about how awkward Cheer practice must be now.”

Nicole leaned her head back against the headrest and huffed. “Shit.”

“That about sums it up, Haught.” Wynonna opened the car door and nodded to her. “See ya tomorrow.”

“Night, Wynonna.”

Nicole locked the car and snuck back into her house, not wanting the inevitable ‘we’re so proud you’re finally letting loose and having fun like a normal teenager’ talk from her parents if they caught her.

Through her bedroom window she could see a faint lamplight from Waverly Earp’s bedroom across the street. Nicole supposed that betrayal would keep someone up at night. She also supposed she should be ashamed for abetting Wynonna’s behaviour tonight but when she looked over at that light, she couldn’t find it in herself to regret one moment.

Chapter Text

The morning after the night-time pranks, Nicole froze when she stepped out of her front door to see both Earp sisters leaned against her car.

“About time, Big Red,” Wynonna called out after looking at an imaginary watch on her wrist.

“Wynonna… you’re early?” It was the shock of the century.

“You can thank this little gremlin for that.” Wynonna jerked her head at Waverly beside her.

Waverly fixed her with a smile brighter than the sluggish morning sun. “Good morning, Nicole.”

“Waverly. Hey. How are you?” Nicole shoved her hands deeper into the pockets of her jean jacket and made her way to her car, all the while having to overthink every step. Waverly’s smile was distracting enough to cause a growing worry that she could fall flat on her face like a clumsy idiot.

Wynonna huffed and crossed her arms. “Oh, so just fuck me then I guess?”

Nicole gave her a deadpan stare and unlocked her car. “Wy, I saw you like five hours ago.” Her eyes widened when she realised she’d potentially given away her and Wynonna’s misdemeanours.

Waverly’s eyebrows came together, and she tilted her head. “What were you doing at two in the morning?”

“Pshh. Ah - nothing. You know, just,” Wynonna floundered, “it was uh senior stuff. You wouldn’t get it being a junior and all.” 

Nicole let out a laugh and muttered “Smooth” to Wynonna as she passed by her. She slid into the driving seat and started up the car, wanting to end this conversation with some crappy pop music or whatever the radio plays in the early morning.

Waverly buckled up in the backseat and glared at the back of Wynonna’s head. “Wynonna, I know about hook-ups. I'm seventeen, not five.”

Nicole felt her mouth go dry before she spluttered, “that’s not what we were doing!”

“What, are you homophobic or something?” Waverly gave her a challenging look.

Wynonna could hardly contain her laughter as she shifted to face Nicole. “Yeah Nicole, are you a homophobe ?”

Nicole rolled her eyes and sped up. “Of course not.”

Wynonna, in a rare, precious, act of mercy, turned to Waverly in the back and answered, “Waves. I can assure you Nicole is not homophobic. She likes softball.”

Waverly scrutinised them for a second longer before she nodded and checked her phone.

For some students there is a moment in their school careers that they will be remembered for until they leave, or even for generations after.

Champ Hardy was about to have that moment.

Waiting next to their lockers, Wynonna and Nicole watched as Champ swaggered towards his locker, shoving a kid called Garrett- one of Jeremy's friends- into the wall as per his usual morning routine. His posse of dudebros laughed at Garrett scrambling to get up and out of the way.

Champ was wearing a cap low over his forehead where Nicole knew there was a particularly artistic rendition of the male genitalia left there by Wynonna last night. He’d probably scrubbed away or covered most of it, but she couldn’t deny the thought of it being there still made her chuckle.

The hallway was at its busiest, filled with students meeting up with friends and grabbing books for their first classes.

Nicole was sure that Wynonna was some kind of diabolical genius.

Champ yanked open his locker in his big, bad, manly way and let out a high-pitched yelp when its contents flooded out and into the hallway.

A moment of rare silence descended on the student body.

First his friends, then the rest of the students nearby, realised that Champ Hardy had emptied a worrying amount of adult diapers and extra-small sized condoms all over the surrounding area.

Wynonna joined in the startled laughter around them and leaned closer to Nicole, “and that is how you ruin a young man’s life, Nicole.”

The school was shaken. 

Things would be back to normal soon enough, Nicole supposed, but, temporarily, the hierarchy had been questioned.

Various kids, the bullied and even ‘friends’ of Champ, had taken to opening and throwing extra-small sized condoms at him throughout the school day.

It was awful, bullying behaviour but there was a fucked-up justice to Champ being on the receiving end of the kind of crap he’d been piling on others for the last couple of years.

Wynonna was, of course, triumphant. “Oh, how the mighty fall, or, some poetic shit,” she sniggered from behind a can of 24 hour energy whilst they watched Champ shouting indignantly at his friends on the other side of the cafeteria. It looked to be that he was denying any of the stuff that had fallen out of his locker was his, which, Nicole thought, should be obvious to everyone. People didn’t care that it wasn’t true. High schoolers just loved to torment each other.

Champ would understand that. It had been his daily routine for so long after all.

Nicole looked over at Waverly, sat with her group of cheerleader friends, looking worried rather than shocked or amused.

Nicole frowned and wondered if perhaps Wynonna’s revenge had been too far.

She wasn’t being reckless; it was just that Nicole was bored of History already this semester and she’d only had two classes. So, if she decided to do a Wynonna and miss one class who cares? Her parents wouldn't.

Nicole made her way to a restroom she knew was likely to be empty. She had a date with a particularly difficult game level on her phone.

Her plans were scuppered when she could hear someone crying through the door of the one closed stall. The quiet sniffling got quieter still when she stepped further into the bathroom and called out, “hey, uh - are you OK?” The stupidest, most cliched question you could ask someone who was clearly in distress, but Nicole never claimed to be original. “Crying in school toilets isn’t a good time. Believe me, I’ve been there. Do you want me to get some chocolate? More paper?”

She waited a tense moment before a croaky response came through the door. “I don’t think chocolate is gonna fix this,” they said with a snuffle that may have been a small laugh.

“Oh, I don’t know. It can be pretty magical.” Nicole took in a breath. “Look, if you want me to leave I will. Just let me know.”

There was a shuffling behind the door before the lock slid open and Nicole was face to face with Waverly.

“Waverly?” Nicole felt her alarm building at the tear-filled eyes locked with hers. “What’s wrong?”

Waverly’s eyes moved up to the ceiling and she bit her bottom lip before sighing. “Can- um. Can chocolate fix this?” She moved her hand from behind her back and Nicole damn near fainted at the sight of the plastic stick clutched tightly in her fist.

“Is that a-”




Nicole swallowed the lump in her throat. “Is it definitely positive?”

Waverly moved her eyes back to the pregnancy test in her hand. “Yes.”

“Have you got another? Maybe you should do another just to check?”

“No, I- this is one Samantha gave me. I can’t exactly buy a test in town without someone telling my Aunt.” Waverly’s knuckles were turning white with her grip around the test.

“OK.” Nicole took a deep breath and nodded once. “We’ll get you another one. A better quality one to check. These things can be faulty.”

Waverly’s beautiful, tear-filled eyes looked at her with a shred of hope. “They can?”

“Sure - I mean that one looks kinda old and cheap.” Nicole scratched the back of her neck. “Let’s- uh let’s go now. I can buy it. My parents won’t care.” She waved a hand in the air and held the bathroom door open.

Waverly gave her a look like she might question her but instead she nodded, grabbed her school bag and stepped out into the corridor. 

Nicole slapped three pregnancy tests, each different brands, a pack of gum, a Coke, and some doritos onto the counter, keeping her gaze confident.

The Clerk started ringing up the items with only a raised eyebrow and pointed to the offer by the till. “Did you want to buy our daily offer? Packs of condoms two for one.”

Nicole coughed once. “No. Thank you.”

The Clerk looked at the items she had bagged and back to Nicole. “You sure?”

Nicole felt her cheeks warm as she inwardly wished for a swift, sudden death to take her from this moment. “No. Not today thanks.” She fumbled through her pockets a moment before brandishing her wallet and sliding more than enough cash across the counter. “Keep the change.” She grabbed the bag and exited the store before she could be offered any more contraceptives she had absolutely no use for. Except maybe for water balloons or something.

Waverly was nervously wringing her hands together outside the store, kicking her sneakers against the asphalt as she waited for Nicole.

“So… where do you wanna do this?” Nicole wiped a sweaty palm against her jeans and swung the bag casually as if it was a common occurrence for her to buy three pregnancy tests and some snacks.

Waverly’s eyes widened. “I didn’t think that far ahead! School will be hard to sneak back into…”

“We can go to mine if you want?” Nicole’s voice was higher than would be expected from someone who coolly asked cute girls to their houses all the time but she noticed the relief in Waverly’s eyes.

“Your parents won’t be suspicious or anything?”

Nicole shrugged. “Nah. They’ll be working anyway.” She passed the can of Coke over.

“Cool and thanks.”

The house was quiet when Nicole held the front door open for Waverly and smiled. “Let’s get you another drink. What do you want?”

Waverly was taking in the surroundings, eyes lingering over the family pictures hung in the main hallway. “Just water’s fine, thanks.”

Nicole led her to the kitchen and grabbed a glass. “One just water coming up.”

There was an awkward silence as Waverly tried to drink the water as quickly as possible and Nicole focused on pretending to clean the kitchen. What kind of fucking weirdo would just stand and watch someone drink a glass of water? Not Nicole. No, she was busy opening and closing drawers and other important kitchen tasks and not freaking out about having Waverly Earp in her kitchen.

“I’m ready. Let’s do this.” Waverly, with a determined set to her jaw, startled Nicole out of re-organising the cutlery drawer.

“Uh- cool. Yeah. Sure. Let’s go to the upstairs bathroom.” Nicole pointed to the ceiling and ran a hand through her hair, grabbing the bag of pregnancy tests from the counter and making her way out of the kitchen.

Nicole gestured to the bathroom door and handed the three tests over. “Good luck?” Maybe not the best thing to say in this situation. “I’ll be just out here if you- when you… yeah.” 

Waverly looked to almost smile as she clutched the tests against her stomach and entered the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

The wait was a while. There may have been pacing involved, but Nicole would deny it. It must take a while to muster up enough pee for three pregnancy tests, right?

Nicole whipped her head up at a thud behind the door before she heard the lock unlatch.

The door opened and Nicole held in her breath.

“I have good news and bad news,” Waverly announced from the doorway.


“Bad news: I broke your toilet. Good news: I’m not pregnant!”

Nicole felt relief flood her system, so strong it almost made her knees wobble. “That’s great Waverly!”

Waverly was grinning but she raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you hear? I broke the handle off your toilet.” She gestured to the handle she was holding.

Nicole could do nothing but laugh. “What is it with you Earp’s? It’s OK, Wynonna broke it like a month ago. You just have to fix it back on - it sometimes comes off if you don’t know about it…” She held out her hand and accepted the handle before fixing it back on.

“Now we just have to figure out where to dump three negative pregnancy tests…” Waverly said.

“I need to take out the trash today anyway so you can just throw them in there.”

Waverly looked like she was about to reply when Nicole’s phone rang out between them. She pulled it out of her pocket and cursed when she realised she’d left Wynonna without a ride home.

She threw Waverly a panicked look and answered the phone. “Wynonna I’m so sorry I-”

“Cut the apology short, Haught. You skipped class, didn’t you?”

“Uh- Yeah?” She caught Waverly’s worried eyes.

“I knew you had it in you to be a badass bitch this year. Welcome to the cool club,” Wynonna continued.

“Thanks, I think?”

“Just give me a heads-up next time, OK? We can ditch together.”

“Of course. It was sort of a spontaneous thing. Look, I’m sorry I’ve left you with no ride- I can come back and get you.”

“No, it’s fine” Wynonna spoke with mischief in her tone. “You gave me an excuse to bother Dolls into giving me a ride… if you know what I mean.”

Nicole rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to know. I’m glad you’re safe, though. I’ll see you on Monday?”

“Uh -no. We have plans this weekend actually. I’ll text you the details.”

“We do? But I have plans already-”

“Whatever. I’ve gotta go; something’s come up . Text ya later, Haughty!” Wynonna let out a laugh and hung up on her.

Nicole gave a somewhat fond sigh and aimed a smile at Waverly. “Has she always been like this?”

“As long as I can remember,” Waverly replied with a giggle. “Hey - thanks for not saying anything to Wy. She would probably give me a super hypocritical lecture if she found out about this.” She gestured to the tests she was still holding.

Nicole looked at her watch. “We’d better get those in the trash before my parents get home.”

Waverly’s forehead creased into a cute frown. “I thought you said they’d be cool?”

“Yeah they wouldn’t be mad or anything, but they’d ask a whole lot of awkward questions.”

Chapter Text

After their afternoon excursion, Nicole was confident enough to believe she was a friendly acquaintance of Waverly Earp. What could she say? It seemed a pregnancy scare really brought people together: a classic teen bonding session for sure.

Waverly chatted to her and Wynonna on their daily rides to school in Nicole’s car and she even greeted Nicole in the halls at school now.

It wasn’t just Waverly either. Nicole realised she was being talked to more often in her classes and people even smiled at her sometimes. Being hot was something that gained you popularity, who’d have ever thunk it?

Nicole rolled up the sleeves of her jean jacket as she leaned her shoulder against her closed locker and half listened to Wynonna giving her usual Wednesday rant.

“I just don’t get why they can’t serve more than like four tater tots in a portion!” Wynonna exclaimed as she raided her bomb site of a locker for something.

Nicole saw a cute girl walking their way and when she saw Nicole she smiled. Like, actually smiled at Nicole not at someone behind her. There were just lockers behind them, so she was definitely smiling at her, right? 

Wynonna continued in the background, “What is this, prison? They’ve got no reason to be so stingy… Nicole, are you even listening?”

Nicole had to remind herself to smile back at the girl before she missed her chance. She put on her most charming, dimpled grin and inwardly high-fived herself when the girl blushed and ducked her head, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear before approaching her group of friends further down the hall.

“Jesus Haught, keep it in your pants in the hallways. What is this, an episode of Riverdale?”

Nicole focused back on Wynonna. “ You watch Riverdale?”

That’s what you’re taking from that? I don’t watch it. Waverly does. It’s just sometimes on when I’m there and-”

“Whatever, Wy. I don’t judge.” Nicole held her hands up in a placating motion and smirked down at her.

“Snarky bastard,” Wynonna grumbled under her breath before slamming her locker shut. “Let’s go, Casanova. I’ve got a can of red spray paint that won’t draw dicks all over the principal’s new car itself.”

Nicole lit another cigarette in lieu of confronting the fact that she was skipping History class again. She lay atop a row of the bleachers and stared at the blue sky, wispy white clouds moving in and out of her vision in various shapes. It was a beautiful view: much preferred to the backs of sleeping student’s heads and a whiteboard covered in stupid dates.

The rumour that Waverly was taking Champ back despite his discretions, and apparent use of diapers and tiny penis size, was making its way around school at a frightening speed. What did they have that was good enough to forget Champ cheating with a friend of hers? If Nicole didn't understand all the complexities of the study of History, she certainly didn't understand how Waverly Earp's mind worked. 

A voice broke into her reverie. “Hey, can I bum one of those?”

Nicole turned her head and watched a girl approach. She recognised her as one of Waverly’s close friends. Chrissy Nedley? “Sure. Just promise not to tell anyone else I’ve got them or I’ll get pestered all the time.” She smirked and sat up. “I once offered a kid in class some gum and ended up having to pass the whole pack around.”

Chrissy let out a laugh and took the cigarette Nicole held out. “I’ll take this to my grave. Girl scout’s honour.” She leaned forward; the cigarette held in between her lips as Nicole lit it for her. She took a long first drag and breathed the smoke out into the mild mid-afternoon air. “You’re Nicole, right?”

Nicole sat up straighter and nodded. “You’re Chrissy, right?”

“Yeah. I’m one of Waverly’s friends. She told me about how you helped her.” Chrissy gave a look that said ‘with you know what’. “That was nice of you.”

Nicole avoided her eyes. “Anyone would’ve done the same.”

Chrissy let out a cynical laugh. “You and I both know that isn’t true. Most other girls probably would’ve laughed at her and then spread the gossip.”

“That’s not really my style.”

“Yeah. I can tell.” Chrissy flipped her hair over her shoulder and fixed Nicole with a mischievous grin. “Is pranking dirtbag cheating boyfriends of Waverly Earp more your style?”

Nicole felt her mouth go dry. “I- Uh- No that’s not. I’m far too busy,” Nicole stammered.

“Mhmm?” Chrissy had a smug look that didn’t look all that bad on her.

Nicole couldn’t help but let out a laugh. “It genuinely wasn’t my gig.”

“Wynonna, right?” Chrissy seemed to be aware of the types of shenanigans Wynonna spent her time cooking up, probably having heard all about past pranks from Waverly.

“She’s… unique.” Reckless. Dangerous. A wild force of nature.

“I kind of admire how much she doesn’t give a fuck, you know?”

Nicole sighed. “Yeah. I’ve always thought it would be nice to care less what other people think. It’s not easy but I'm working on it.”

Chrissy took another drag and let the smoke out of the side of her mouth. “Same. Let me know when you’ve figured it out.”

For some students there is a moment in their school careers that they will be remembered for until they leave, or even for generations after.

Nicole Haught was about to have that moment.

Albeit wasn’t as dramatic as the Champ debacle; it still got the school saying her name.

It had been a normal Thursday by all accounts for Nicole. She’d had a normal bowl of cereal, enjoyed her now normal drive to work with the Earp sisters, even sat through her predictably boring morning classes, yet she couldn’t help feeling good about this particular Thursday.

Since when was Thursday a good day? Sure, it was better than Wednesday, but it wasn’t exactly Friday. Anyway, Nicole’s approval ratings of various days of the week were beside the point. She was feeling good in general that day which was probably why she decided to do something childish and stupid.

She sat in the cafeteria at the table she sometimes shares with Wynonna and Dolls. It was the ‘you’re outcasts but we respect you enough to leave you alone, unlike the nerds’ table.

Wynonna was glowering at the tiny portion of fries she’d been given whilst Dolls explained his new workout routine to Nicole, who was finishing off her can of soda.

There was a loud stamping and hollering from the jock table where Champ’s football buddies were goading him into something. The loudness drew everyone’s eyes to the table where he stood up, turned to the trash cans, and launched an empty bottle of whatever he had been drinking towards them.

There was a moment’s pause where all eyes followed the arc of the bottle as it flew across the cafeteria and clattered against the floor, a couple of metres short of the trash.

Champ shrugged it off as his friends laughed and caused more disturbance to the peace.

Nicole didn’t even realise she was standing up, but she was. She was out of her seat and grabbing her empty can, already turning towards the trash cans and judging the distance before she could tell herself to sit the fuck down.

Looking over, she could tell they were seated about as far from the target as Champ had been, their tables being level, but at a different angle since there were a few groups between them.

She thought she could hear Wynonna saying “Yass Nic! Show ‘em how it’s done,” but there was a ringing in her ears that demanded her focus.

She drowned out the shouts of excitement when others realised what she was about to do as she judged the weight in her hand and looked at the target.

It would be difficult; but far from impossible.

Added height would help get a clean, arcing shot so she stepped up onto her chair and breathed in deep.

Breathed out.

And in.

She launched the can and watched, rapt, with each of the students in the cafeteria much the same, as it spiralled through the air and clinked as it hit the side of the trash can and went in.

The whole of the cafeteria roared.

Students were cheering, whooping, and laughing at Champ.

A couple of teachers shouted over the chaos to calm things down, but Nicole was being tackled by Wynonna and pushed back into sitting on her chair.

“Nicole that was fucking awesome, dude!” Wynonna was patting her on the back and even Dolls had a grin on his face.

Sometimes Thursdays were good days.

Her phone buzzed. This had to be the fifth time in the last ten minutes.

Nicole leaned closer to her workbook and frowned. Equations. Yay. 

Her phone continued to buzz around on her desk, and she sighed before putting down her pencil and deciding that she was done with Math for the evening.

She had an unusual amount of notifications.

[Wynonna]: girl someone filmed that throw u did earlier and like everyone in school has seen it

[Wynonna]: Ur famous

[Wynonna]: Answer ur phone

[Wynonna]: Wat ur too famous for me now?  

Nicole’s eyes widened as she saw a video she had been tagged in by Max, a kid in a few of her classes who was friends with Jeremy, had a few hundred likes.

[Nicole]: Chill. I was just doing homework.

[Wynonna]: Forget homework. You’re popular now. Not doing homework is part of the job description.  

[Nicole]: Being popular is a job???

Nicole pushed her hair out of her eyes and leaned back in her desk chair.

A shout came from downstairs, “Nicole, sweetie!”

“Yeah?” Nicole yelled back, hoping she could have whatever conversation this was with her Mom through shouting down a flight of stairs rather than getting up and moving. You know, like a normal properly functioning mother-daughter relationship.

There was a pause then another shout, “Nicole!”

Nicole sighed and pushed her chair back, stomping out of her room and downstairs to appease her mother.

She stuck her head around the kitchen door. “What’s up, Mom?”

Her Mom smiled at her and wiggled the cocktail shaker in her hands. “Margarita, honey?”

“Uh, no thanks. I’m good.”

Her mom drained the drink into an ice filled glass. “Well I thought I’d offer since sharing is caring and cocktails are the best way to celebrate a happy Friday!”

“It’s Thursday.”

“Sure!” her Mom waved a hand about and took a sip of her Margarita. “Your Dad and I have just sealed a big deal. I’m talking some serious figures. So, to celebrate, we’re going on a holiday. Now, I just wanted to check with you - do you want to join us, or would you rather stay here?”

“I’ll stay, thanks.”

“Always so dedicated to your studies!” Her Mom took another long swig of her drink. “Well, I’ll let you know when it’s all booked but we’re looking at two weeks in the South of France. We’ll obviously leave you plenty of money for food and if you want to have any parties or bring any girls around...” Here her mother decided to wink at her.

“OK I’m out.” Nicole turned around and headed back towards the stairs.

“Nikki, sweetie, your Dad would like a word with you too! He’s in his study.”

Apparently, she wasn’t going to be given peace this evening.

Nicole meandered towards her Dad’s study, dragging her heels the whole way. 

She reached the study door and rapped her knuckles against it twice, calling out, “Hey Dad.”

She heard her father’s voice from behind the door. “Hey kiddo! Come in, come in.”

Nicole opened the door and hovered in the doorway, watching her Dad turn around in his swivel chair and run a hand through his red hair.

“Nicole.” He paused to remove his round, gold-rimmed glasses. Uh-oh. That usually meant a ‘telling off’. “I thought you should know I was contacted today by your school principal.”


“Yes. He said you were involved in some sort of incident in the cafeteria?” He raised an eyebrow but continued, “and that you have been skipping a few History classes.”

“I- um. Yeah. I’ve-”

“Nicole, I understand. History is boring and the majority of it is made up by the dominant powers that be.” He fixed her with a caring gaze. “Your Mom and I want you to explore who you are more, make friends and enjoy yourself. That being said, I expect you to only skip the occasional class and at least don’t skip the same class each time - I raised you better than that.” He let out a laugh.

Nicole rolled her eyes. “Sure.”

“I’m enjoying this whole moody teenager getup. Believe me, I had been wondering if you’d ever have a rebellious phase… However, I have to look pro-active so the Principal mentioned you should get a History tutor and I agreed with him.” He turned behind him and grabbed a dismantled piece of tech off his desk. “I’ve arranged for her to visit on Mondays after school and I expect you to at least take it somewhat seriously.”

Nicole nodded. “Of course, Dad.”

He grunted as he fiddled with the mini solar panel with a screwdriver. “I’ve been trying to figure out the fault with this little bastard for a few days now. Oh - that reminds me. Nic, I’ve set up a Facebook page for the business but I’m struggling with a few of the more technical aspects-”

Nicole spent an inordinate amount of time wondering how someone who was basically an inventor couldn’t even use social media properly. “Pass me your phone and I’ll make sure it’s all good.”

There was bird shit on the bonnet of her crappy car: fitting really. Nicole slid into the driver’s seat when she spotted Waverly stepping out onto the front porch of the McCready house, looking as radiant as ever. Far more radiant than most humans at early-morning-o’clock.

She bounced across the road, a grumpy Wynonna several feet behind her, and rested her forearms on the driver’s side door where Nicole had rolled down the window.

Nicole’s eyes took in the delicate silver bracelet on Waverly’s wrist before moving up to take in her cute, very short, crop top and beaming grin which somehow made her all the more beautiful.

“Good morning, Nicole! Are you coming to the party tonight? Wynonna said even she might come. Apparently, everyone who’s anyone is going to be there and Eric’s got a pool.” Waverly somehow managed to divulge all of that in one excited breath as she expectantly stared at Nicole.

Nicole, who was wrecking the conversation by getting utterly lost in hazel eyes. She returned Waverly’s smile and finally replied, “Morning to you too. I don’t know about the party. I wouldn’t say it’s really my scene.”

Waverly looked, dare she consider, disappointed? “Oh. Well it should be super fun so if you change your mind we’re gonna walk there at about half ten, you know, fashionably late. You’re free to join us.”

Wynonna strolled up to the car, with her bag dangling near the floor from one hand. “Whaddya say, Haught? Fancy hitting this lame ass party with us?”

Nicole started the car whilst Waverly climbed into the back and Wynonna dropped into the passenger seat.

Nicole asked, “so you’re definitely going then, Wy?”

Wynonna shrugged. “Yeah. I thought, why not? Rich kid probably has tons of free alcohol and it’s only a few minutes’ walk to the fancier neighbourhood so we can bail if it’s major lamesville.”

“Huh. Maybe I’ll join you then.”

The school day had been a whirlwind for Nicole. She’d had several students clap her on the back, and act like they knew her before she’d been part of a viral video, all before lunch.

In the cafeteria she’d sat down then been promptly joined by a group of popular kids who were chatting away like she was a normal addition to the group. She’d acted as calm as possible about this, but it was a little jarring. Waverly periodically sent smiles at her from across the table which did nothing to sooth her rolling stomach.

She’d kept up this nervous excitement all day and now she was picking through her closet with a critical eye and wondering just how anyone was supposed to choose an outfit for a party.

It seemed a near impossible task.

She settled on a navy dress shirt with a dark floral print tucked into some skinny jeans and a pair of sneakers. She rolled, then re-rolled the sleeves of her shirt until she had attained the desired casual, but still smarter than usual, look she guessed would work for a party.

She grabbed her leather jacket when she reached the door, and called out to her parents, “I’m going to a party! Be back in a few hours!”

She was opening the door when she heard her Dad call out from the living room, “Stay safe, kiddo, and enjoy!”

Nicole threw her house keys into her pocket and started across the street, towards the McCready house, her palms already sweating as she stepped up onto the lit porch.

She could hear low talking, giggles and pop music from Waverly’s window above.

Her knuckles hovered over the front door a moment before she swallowed the lump in her throat and knocked.

Gus McCready opened the door and looked her over. Nicole couldn’t tell if it was with disapproval or not. It was always hard to tell with Gus. “Why Nicole, dear, are you also here for the, what did Waverly call it-”

Curtis spoke up from the sitting room behind her, “Pre-party, I believe.”

Nicole was about to reply when a third voice broke into the conversation, “nah, this one’s here for me.” Wynonna had stuck her head over the top of the stair bannister to look in on the front door.

“Oh. You’re a troublemaker, are you?” Gus kept her steely gaze on Nicole.

“No, Ma’am.” Nicole felt her mouth go dry.

Wynonna snorted. “Let up the interrogation, Gus. Half the time she’s talking me out of 'troublemaking'.”

Gus stepped back and opened the door wider. “I should hope so,” she grumbled.

Nicole took that as her invitation, and she scurried into the hall. “Thank you, Mrs McCready.”

Gus gave her a rare smile before turning a glare on Wynonna. “Why can’t you have manners like Nicole here?”

“Manners schmanners,” Wynonna eloquently replied before turning to Nicole. “I’m nearly ready. Come on up.”

“Sure.” Nicole followed Wynonna up the stairs and into her messy bedroom. Clothes littered the floor, glasses were piled up on all available surfaces, and Nicole found herself standing in the doorway wondering where she was supposed to sit. 

Wynonna grabbed a bottle of perfume and began spraying all over. “So. Haught. Tell me: who are you going for tonight?”

Nicole found a relatively free space on the floor and sat down, leaning back against the bed. “I don’t exactly have anything like that in mind. I thought we were just gonna hang?”

Wynonna hit her with a deadpan stare. “Oh, you’re telling me you’re going to a wild house party with no intention of hooking up with someone?”

Nicole rolled her eyes and pulled one of her knees up. “I’m not intending to hook up with someone-”

“Who’s hooking up?” Waverly was standing in the doorway reminding Nicole of why the phrase drop dead gorgeous was created. Why did anyone else ever bother when Waverly Earp could casually lean in a doorway wearing a cute skirt, a crop top and a smile and look like that ?

Wynonna wolf whistled. “Babygirl, who are you trying to impress tonight?” A smirk took over her face. “Aah you’ve gotta make Chump see what he’s been missing. I know you’ve been on and off a lot but you’re not gonna go back there, right? I mean I kinda get it, he is a bit of a hunk, but you could seriously do better, especially in the brain cells department…”

“Amen,” Nicole muttered under her breath. Not as quietly as she thought.

“You’re both judging my taste in men now?!” Waverly tilted her head to the side.

Wynonna and Nicole made eye contact then nodded in unison.

Chrissy piped up from behind Waverly as she walked down the hall towards Wynonna’s room, “me too.”

Waverly stamped one foot against the floor. “Oh, come on, I thought you’d at least back me up.”

Chrissy shrugged. “I always said he was a dick.”

Nicole snickered at the interaction but decided to save Waverly from more mockery. “So when are we headed out?”

Wynonna pulled a near empty bottle of whiskey from somewhere and took a long swig. “Right after we’ve finished this bottle, Haught-shot.” She held it out. “Drink up.”

Nicole raised her eyebrows but accepted the offer and felt the spirit burn its way down her throat. She tried valiantly to not show her eyes watering as she passed it along to Waverly.

“Good, huh?” Wynonna gave her a smug grin and a strong pat on the back.

Nicole cleared her throat. “Sure.” She could see Chrissy giggling behind Waverly. Apparently, she hadn’t been as smooth as she’d have liked.

Waverly stomached the neat whiskey with far more practiced grace than Nicole and checked her phone. “The others are outside so we’re heading out now - are you two coming?”

Wynonna tilted her head at Nicole. “Whaddya reckon, will it ruin our cool, outsider reputations to rock up to a party with a group of cheerleaders?”

Nicole stood up and brushed off her jeans, tipping back another long drink of whiskey. For nerves or something. “I’m sure we can pull it off.”

Chapter Text

Under the streetlights on their short walk, Waverly and her friends were swapping topics at such a speed Nicole could hardly keep up between various gossip and opinions on TV shows she hadn’t watched.

Nicole was terrible at remembering names, but she was trying her damnedest to keep track of the group. There was Waverly and Chrissy but the others she reckoned were maybe Samantha, who she totally didn't ID from her chest area, Jessica she recognised from her English class, and a couple of others.

Wynonna was walking next to her, watching the group in front and drinking from a hip flask. “I told you being popular is a job. Imagine how exhausting it is to keep up with all that and pretend you care about stuff. Don’t even get me started on how peppy you need to be for cheerleading.”

Nicole shrugged, the alcohol in her system making her feel far more emboldened than usual. “I could totally be popular or a cheerleader if I wanted to.”

Nicole had meant to say that quietly enough that Waverly wouldn’t snap her head around and announce to the group, “that sounds like a challenge!”

“Shit, you’ve done it now,” Wynonna muttered under her breath as it dawned on Nicole that several sets of eager eyes had turned around to look at her.

Nicole’s mouth was dry.

Wynonna slyly pressed her hip flask into Nicole’s hand. Probably some show of support by offering liquid courage.

Waverly placed her hands on her hips, a smirk on her face that turned Nicole’s cheeks warm. “You could ‘totally’ be a cheerleader, huh?”

Nicole forced her best dimpled smile. “Go Blue Devils?” She earned a laugh from the group and managed to dissipate some tension.

Chrissy nudged Waverly with an elbow, a wry smile on her face. “Shame she missed tryouts, huh?”

Nicole let out a laugh. “I’m joking, obviously. I have two left feet. I can do a flip or lift people up though…” 

Wynonna looked affronted. “You can do flips and you didn’t tell me?”

“Yeah I used to do gymnastics when I was a kid.” Nicole took a drink out of the hip flask. More whiskey she reckoned from the burn. “Why would I have ever thought to tell you that?”

“You’re proving that later.”

Nicole waved her off. “Sure. Whatever.”

They were nearing the house now, hearing far too many sweaty teenagers shouting, laughing and screeching over music that was more bass than any discernible lyrics as far as Nicole could tell.

This kid’s house was fucking massive.

It was a modern style, sprawled out across luscious green grounds, all glass, white and grey. There were four garage doors off to the side and lights lining the drive up to the front of the house.

Wynonna stepped over a guy with no shirt who was lying on the gravel, and breathed out a sigh next to her. “How the other half live...”

The cheerleaders whooped and Waverly addressed them as they walked up the drive towards the open front doors. “Stay safe, ladies! Don’t walk home alone and put a message in the group chat if you need someone to come find you.”

Wynonna slapped Nicole on the back. “We’re gonna make this a great cherry popping first party for you-”

“I’ve been to parties before, Wy.”

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s get wasted, Haught.”

The world had a soft blurriness to its edges when Nicole moved. Everything was loud but she didn’t mind, in fact she didn’t mind much at all. 

Nicole had discovered a great invention: Jello-shots. Genius, really.

A couple of shots back Wynonna had announced she was going to the bathroom and Nicole hadn’t seen her since. Whatever. She was more than capable of taking care of herself.

The party was in full swing and Nicole delighted in taking it all in. The school mascot, still covered in blue body paint, was jumping on a previously cream sofa, whilst Eric, who was hosting the soirée, sprayed a bottle of champagne over them. As Nicole moved through the house she spotted a kid being sick in a plant pot, no less than six couples making out, a guy pissing out of the window and, in the kitchen, a group doing body shots off of Samantha Baker who was lying on the worktop with no top on. 

Nicole grabbed a beer from the counter and moved towards a busy room, probably one of the many sitting rooms which had now been converted into a dancefloor. She bobbed her head out of time to the music until she heard a squeal and a hand grabbed her wrist, pulling her further into the crowd

"Nicole!" Waverly was hard to hear over the pulsing, pounding beat of the music.

Still, Nicole enjoyed the excuse to lean closer and speak near Waverly's ear. "Hi. You OK?"

Waverly nodded and gave her a wide smile, beautiful and irresistible. Nicole was sure she would've done anything Waverly asked of her in that moment. "Dance with me?" Even that.

Nicole felt her face warm and ducked her head. "I'm really bad at dancing." Her heartbeat was thundering in her head. Was it in time with the music? A hand came up and pointed to her heart. 

Waverly looked resolved. "You have to feel it in here."

They matched serious looks before they both broke out into tipsy giggles.

The music slowed tempo, a strong, slow baseline that was met with Waverly's slower movements as she danced closer.

Nicole's breath caught in her throat as she matched Waverly's pace and movements, feeling like it was just the two of them. In a horde of sweating, horny, wild teenagers, they were all that mattered. She'd never been this close to Waverly before. Waverly, who's eyes were locked on hers, who's sharp jaw was tilted up, who's lips had turned from a smirk to something more intense as they danced closer. They were about as close as possible without touching, and Nicole noticed a small scar above Waverly's lips. She spotted flecks of gold in her eyes that twinkled in the spinning, changing lights.

Nicole was about to reach out, to pull Waverly against her, when a figure appeared behind Waverly, wrapping their arms around her middle.

Nicole stepped back, a spike of panic making her break the gaze she'd been so confidently holding.

Champ was speaking into Waverly's ear where he rested his head on her shoulder. Nicole couldn't, and didn't want to hear whatever he was saying.

"I'm gonna head outside for some air," Nicole said to no one in particular.

Waverly reached out to grab her hand, but Nicole turned away, trying not to look as Champ started pressing sloppy kisses against Waverly's neck and head.


Nicole caught her breath- she reckoned Waverly had stolen it somehow- and she made her way outside. She downed the rest of her lukewarm beer, wincing at the taste before pulling her pack of cigarettes out of her jacket pocket and scanning the immaculate patio, backyard and pool.

Well, not so immaculate since a raging party was currently occurring.

A group of jock dudes were cannonballing into the pool, likely just wanting to show off their muscles to a crowd of eager onlookers. Beer cans were scattered over the patio and Nicole kicked a couple as she edged her way further from the busy areas and across the grass.

She spotted an area with a small canopy supported by pillars wrapped with fairy lights and a white hammock sitting between them. The was a figure perched there with their legs dangling off the side and swinging back and forth. Nicole sighed at being beaten to a great spot to brood.

The figure waved and Nicole squinted and moved closer, noticing the lone figure was Chrissy.

Maybe brooding could wait for another time. “Hey Chrissy - you got a light?” Nicole gestured to the unlit cigarette in her hand and stepped up to the hammock, leaning against one pillar.

“Sure.” She held out a silver lighter. “Wanna join me?” She gestured to the hammock and Nicole, being drunk, thought it was a fantastic idea to attempt to sit next to her.

The world span as she was flipped onto the floor by the swinging fabric, not being able to judge how to keep her balance.

Nicole lay flat on her back and groaned, turning her head to face Chrissy next to her. “Shit. Fuck. I’m sorry. Are you OK?”

Chrissy let out what could only be described as a cackle and pushed herself up onto her elbows. “Yeah. Should we try take-two? Maybe we should get you on first since I’m apparently the one with greater hammock knowledge.”

“You are?” Nicole stood up and held her hand out.

Chrissy took her hand and hauled herself up, swaying a moment before steadying herself with a hand on Nicole’s shoulder. “Sorry - heels.” She gestured to the high heels she was wearing. “My dad has a hammock, so I like to think I’ve mastered it.”

Nicole nodded. “Ah. Also, you should take the shoes off. Do you know how many ankle injuries are caused by wearing heels on grass?”

“Do you?” Chrissy raised her eyebrows but toed off her heels, making her a fraction shorter than Nicole now she was on her bare feet.

“Oh, I’ve absolutely no idea but it’s best to be cautious don’t you think?”

Chrissy laughed and grabbed onto part of the hammock. “OK Miss Cautious, are you ready to try this again?”

She was Nicole Raleigh Haught. She could do this. She wasn’t going to be defeated by a piece of fabric tied to two posts. “I’ve got this.” She approached the hammock.

“I’m loving the confidence. Just ease into a sitting position first, yeah?”

“Yeah. Totally.” Nicole edged onto the hammock and held her breath, waiting any moment to be eating dirt again. She sat on the side and kept her feet on the ground but found that she was stable. “Hah! I did it.”

“You did!” Chrissy let go of the hammock. “Now twist around and lift your legs in.”

Nicole lay back in the hammock contentedly. “I feel like a pirate or something.”

“One of the best emotions. Can I join you?”

“Yeah of course! Get in - I’m not stealing your spot from you.” Nicole grabbed a new cigarette out of her packet, having lost her first one in the recent hammock spill, and lit it with Chrissy’s lighter. She felt the other girl climb in next to her, Chrissy’s side pressing close against hers.

The night suddenly became warmer and quieter.

Neither of them broke the silence as Nicole passed Chrissy’s lighter back and took a drag, eyes caught up in the twinkling lights and far off shapes of kids running around the edge of the pool.

Nicole froze when she felt a hand close around hers and gently take her cigarette, guiding it over to red lips.

Chrissy took a drag and Nicole couldn’t help watching her lips intently as she let out the smoke before passing the cigarette back.

Nicole focused on the red lipstick stain as she raised it to her lips again, ignoring the thudding heartbeat through her ears.

“Nicole,” Chrissy’s voice brought Nicole’s gaze back to blue eyes, “are you gay?”

Nicole felt too warm now. Uncomfortably so. Yet, she couldn’t tell her muscles to move.

Chrissy continued, her cheeks flushed, “It’s OK- I mean, I’m sorry if I’ve read your vibe completely wrong I just-”

“I am,” Nicole croaked out. 

“Oh. Cool.”


“Cool.” Chrissy nodded. She shuffled slightly, bringing their faces closer, her eyes drifting to Nicole’s lips. “Is this cool?”

Nicole’s first kiss had been when she was fourteen. A girl named Emily. They’d snuck out of church and hidden round the back. It felt exciting, but dangerous. Messy, but Nicole knew it was right. She liked girls. Always had, always would.

Every kiss since then she’d been certain, always nervous, but certain, as she was now.

Nicole leaned closer to Chrissy and breathed out, “yeah.”

And then Chrissy’s lips were pressed against hers, tentative and testing. She tasted like smoke and liquor.

And, God, was it nice to feel wanted .

Nicole flicked the cigarette onto the floor and placed her hand at Chrissy’s hip, feeling a hand come up to hold her jaw and coax her closer in return. She opened her mouth, feeling a spike of heat in her navel when Chrissy’s tongue licked into her mouth. 

Nicole’s hand tightened its grip and she pushed closer still until-

The hammock flung them unceremoniously onto the ground in a pile of limbs and laughter. Nicole held herself up above Chrissy, her arms shaking with laughter as she tried to contain herself. “I’m so sorry again.”

Chrissy looked up at her, shrugged and placed her hands behind Nicole’s neck. “I’m not.”

Nicole was leaning down to close the distance again when she was startled by a shout. “Hey Haught! You out here?” Wynonna. Of course.

Nicole closed her eyes and sighed. “Do you think if we stay really really still she won’t see us?” Even as she said it, she was leaning back and sitting up.

“Haught? Haughty? Haught-stuff?”

Nicole stood up and pulled Chrissy with her. “Wynonna! Over here.”

Wynonna spotted them and made her way over, a can of beer in one hand and a toilet roll in the other. “Oh hey. What were you guys doing out here?”

Nicole coughed. “Uh-just having a smoke. Why have you got toilet paper?” 

Her deflection worked. Thankfully. Wynonna gave her a smug look. “Dude, do you know what ply this stuff is? I’m taking it home. It’s gonna be like wiping my ass with silk.”

Nicole and Chrissy shared a look then broke out into laughter.

“I don’t know why you’re laughing, Haught. You owe me a flip if I remember correctly and I will be collecting on it in five. Let’s go to one of the living rooms so I can see you backflip off a sofa.” Wynonna paused. “Is that lipstick on you?”

Nicole hastily wiped off her lips. “Nah- so where are we going?"

Wynonna had made enough of a fuss that there was quite a crowd gathered in the room of choice and Nicole was still buzzed and fairly confident she could pull this off. She’d not done any gymnastics practice for a few years, but one flip would be fine, right?

“Ladies and Gentlemen gather round to be entertained by the amazing Haught-shot once more,” Wynonna announced from her position on the arm of a sofa.

Champ and a few of his friends were not far away so Nicole fixed him with a smirk. “Bet you couldn’t do this either, ey buddy?”

He glared back but if he replied Nicole couldn’t hear it over the din of music and ‘oooooo’s from the kids stuffed into the room.

Nicole hastily finished up a lukewarm can of beer and prepared herself. A room nearby was blasting out All Star by Smash Mouth and Nicole felt that this was as good a moment as any. She controlled her breathing, went through the mental prep she would always have done before, and readied her stance on the sofa.

She heard a whoop from across the room but focused and flipped backwards.

It went well.

Better than she probably deserved after a good few years of no proper training.

She even thought she would have stuck the landing if she wasn’t shoved as her toes were just grazing the floor.

She heard a “who the fuck do you think you are” aimed at her which accompanied the shove that sent her careening back towards an expensive, long coffee table.

Nicole smashed onto the table, heard it crack beneath her as the crowd gasped.

The breath rushed out of her body and she tried to suck it back in as she lay on the crumpled mess of wood, or MDF, or whatever hard ass material, and felt a shot of pain all over.

Champ, for some unholy reason, was coming towards her, leaning over her. “Think you can show me up again, huh?”

Wynonna piped up with an indignant, “what the fuck , dickwad?!” She sounded like she was making her way over but there were a lot of onlookers in the way who were starting the typical “fight fight fight” chant.

Then Champ’s meaty fists were locked in the lapels of Nicole’s jacket as he hoisted her up and she scrabbled her feet against the hardwood floor, trying to find purchase, trying to rip herself free of his grasp.

She took in frantic breaths, her feet finally touching the ground, but his grip didn’t lessen in strength. “What are you doing?”

He was plainly drunk. “I’m teaching you a fucking lesson about who’s in charge round here,” he snarled.

“Aw, is poor baby Champ jealous?”

He punched her once in the gut. Not too strong but uncomfortable, nonetheless. “You’d better watch your mouth.”

“I don’t take orders from babies.” He punched her again, harder this time and Nicole let out a grunt.

OK so maybe goading wasn't the best thing to do in her position. She cast her mind back to the defence training Dolls had given her over the summer. Nicole adjusted her stance, brought her hands up between his and swept them apart, breaking his grip on her collar. 

He looked shocked momentarily and Nicole lurched forward, smashing her forehead into his face and sending him reeling back.

Yes, it did send some pain through her skull, but she knew it had done worse to him.

The crowd all gasped again, and she straightened up, hands in front of her before she felt Wynonna grab her arms and start moving her.

“Let’s go quick quick quick.” Wynonna was dragging her away, but Nicole looked back to see Champ stumbling, hand over his now bloody nose.

She heard Waverly enter the room and run over to him asking what happened.

Nicole was out of earshot by the time he replied.

“Wynonna you don’t need to drag me. I’m coming. Let’s get out of here.” Nicole’s ears were ringing, her stomach rolling, her hands shaking as they made their way out of the house and onto the long drive.

“I’m sorry Wynonna. I’m so sorry. I ruined the party. I-”

“If you’re about to say sorry one more time I’m gonna slap you.” Wynonna kept up her pace but smiled at her. “I’ve never respected you more. That was metal as fuck.”

“Huh?” Nicole stopped but was ushered back into walking by an arm. “But I ruined the party for you.”

“Ruined it? No way. You made it the most exciting party we’ve had in years.” Wynonna grinned at her then her eyes softened. “You’re OK though, right? Like, you went through a table, that shit’s got to hurt.”

“Think it’s just bruising. The alcohol is numbing it for now though.”

“I can’t believe you smashed a table and got into a fight at your first proper party.” Wynonna smirked at her. “I'm so proud."

Chapter Text

The pain that Nicole was in the day after the party was nothing short of catastrophic.

She supposed it was exactly what she deserved after being so reckless, drinking so much and engaging in fisticuffs. Still, that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to complain about it.

[Nicole]: pls kill me

[Wynonna]: sorry im busy

Her Saturday ended up being a cocktail of soup, water and painkillers. Oh, and agonising over all the events of the party.

Her kiss with Chrissy had been fun. It was enjoyable and Chrissy was a good kisser, but it wasn’t life changing. Were kisses even supposed to be life changing? It had felt kinda like it with her first proper relationship, Shae at summer camp a year ago, yet that only ended with tears and distance between them. Nicole had sworn off relationships since then.

She decided she wouldn’t worry too much about what the kiss meant. Would she say yes to repeating the experience? Probably. It wasn’t like Waverly was ditching Champ or her apparent straightness any time soon so Nicole wouldn’t let those feelings get in the way. In fact, she needed to get over her feelings for Waverly. Still, she guessed it depended on how Chrissy felt about it, and whether she’d want to try anything casual with someone who was deathly afraid of commitment.

The fight with Champ was something she was far more certain about. She didn’t want to repeat it for any reason. She placed a hand against her aching head and thought about how difficult school could be if Champ decided to make it hell for her. She could hardly blame him if he did after she thoroughly embarrassed him again.

She let herself smile. It had been dramatic at the time but looking back she couldn’t help but find it funny.

What an idiot.

Her or Champ? 

They were Both idiots.

It was early Sunday afternoon when Nicole was woken from her nap by a knock on her bedroom door.

“Hey Kiddo - it’s time for you to yet again tame Satan’s Infernal Machine.” Her dad, of course, was calling through the door. “You know I can’t deal with that blasted thing and the lawn is looking particularly ragged.”

Nicole groaned into her pillow. “Sure, Dad. I’ll get to it in a minute!”

“Fantastic! You really are my favourite daughter.”

Nicole rolled out of her bed and began the search for some suitable clothes. “I’m your only daughter,” she called back.

“And so quick-witted,” her Dad stated as his footsteps receded further down the hall.

Nicole rolled her eyes at the closed door and grabbed some old sweatpants and a tight V-neck t-shirt, deciding that workout clothes would be needed for what she knew would be a strenuous task. Their lawnmower, or Satan’s Infernal Machine as her father had named it, was notoriously awkward to work with. However, instead of just replacing it, her Dad, who maintained that it just had ‘so much personality’, enlisted Nicole to use it as she always managed to wrangle the best results.

She yanked the lawnmower out of the corner of the garage and gave it a look over, deciding to clean off the blades with a nearby rag. She checked the small motor and was awarded with a coating of grease over both her hands for her troubles. The wheels also looked to be past their best days. No wonder it was barely functional, left rotting in the garage for the majority of each year. She tightened a nut on the right back wheel and gave it a spin. It didn’t fall off or stick so she’d take that as a win.

“Come on then you piece of shit, let’s get this done,” she muttered as she dragged it out of the garage and onto the front lawn.

It wasn’t a warm day, but Nicole was sweating from the sheer effort needed to haul the heavy mower around. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and glared at a particularly stubborn section of grass. “Work with me here!” She growled at the lawnmower.

“I’m not sure it can understand you,” a voice called out behind her.

Nicole whipped around, flushing all the way up to her ears at being caught talking to an inanimate object.

Chrissy stood at the edge of the freshly cut grass wearing seriously tight jeans that garnered Nicole’s attention for a second before she raised her eyes up to Chrissy’s smirk.

The lawn mower sputtered to a stop as Nicole flicked the off switch and leaned against the handle. “Believe me, the wretched thing knows exactly what I’m saying,” Nicole assured her.

Chrissy’s eyes swept across the lawn. “I won’t criticise your methods since it seems to have worked so far.”

“All of us in the industry talk to our mowers. It’s totally normal.” Nicole shared a grin then ran a hand through her hair, pushing it back from her face. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company today?”

Chrissy matched her smile and pointed across at the McCready house. “I’m here to see Wave. I just saw you out here and thought I’d say hey.”

Nicole’s eyes tracked Chrissy’s hand and saw Waverly looking out of her bedroom window at them. She met Chrissy’s eyes again. “Well, hey to you too.”

Chrissy’s cheeks carried a pretty pink blush as she moved her gaze to the ground. “I didn’t see what happened on Friday with you and Champ but are you OK? He said you headbutted him?”

“I swear it was self-defense. I’m fine, really, just some painful bruises.” Nicole dug her hands into her pockets. “The hangover was just as bad.”

Chrissy nodded. “I think I’ll have to plead your case with Waverly. Champ’s been playing the victim to her all weekend. Apparently, you almost broke his nose?”

Nicole grimaced. “Shit. I didn’t mean to do that much damage he was grabbing me and punching me, and I don’t know what came over me I just-”

“Heyyyyoooooo! Haught Shot, you absolute legend .” Wynonna was stamping out of the front of her house and yelling at them across the street. “Champ’s been crying about how you handed his ass to him all weekend.”

“Great,” Nicole muttered before waving at Wynonna.

Chrissy kept her voice low before Wynonna got to them. “I’m gonna go - I’ll talk to you later?”

“Sure.” Nicole smiled at Chrissy and watched her walk towards the McCready front porch, hips swaying, and saying hello to Wynonna as their paths crossed.

Nicole wiped at her face again and nodded to Wynonna. “What’s up, Wy?”

Wynonna reached the mower and looked back over her shoulder. “Chrissy’s ass looks good in those jeans don’t ya think?”

“Yeah,” Nicole sighed. “Wait, what?”

“Ha!” Wynonna clapped her hands together. “Got you! Wait. Why the fuck didn’t I realise before? You literally had her lipstick all over your face. Shit- did I clitblock you at the party?”

Nicole chewed the inside of her cheek. “Wynonna, please. It wasn’t going that far or anything it was just a kiss. Please don’t tell anyone about it. Also, never let me hear the word ‘clitblock’ come out of your mouth again.”

“Hey calm it down, red. I’m not gonna say anything. I get it, ya know? Just a drunken kiss at a party; all lust and stuff.” She smirked at Nicole. “Still, the sheriff’s kid, huh? I had no idea she was into girls…”

“Me neither.” Nicole felt a twist in her stomach. “The Sheriff’s not super protective, is he? I mean it was just a one-time thing so no need to worry, right?”

Wynonna threw her head back into a wicked cackle. “From what I hear the Sheriff is super protective of his baby girl. Also, you sure it’s a ‘one-time thing’ since you’re out here flirting with her whilst doing your best ‘refreshing diet coke’ ad impression?”

Shit. “I wasn’t flirting,” she lied. “What do you even mean about the coke ad?”

Wynonna gestured at Nicole as if it was obvious. “Girl, do you not know what you’re doing? All short-sleeved shirt, low waisted sweatpants, doing manual labour while you’re covered in dirt and sweat.”

“Sounds gross,” Nicole grinned. “If you have got an ice-cold drink, I’ll take one, though.”

“Oh, so you can drink it all sexily and give old man Jenkins another heart attack?” Wynonna pointed to the old man a few doors down who was watching them through his front window. “I don’t think so!”

“Ugh don’t make a sweet old man creepy, Wy!”

Wynonna waved a hand through the air. “All men are creepy. Anyway, can you take a break from being the intro to a crappy porno and give me a hand with something?”

Nicole looked at the small patch of long grass left and sighed. “Sure, what is it?”

“Come with me.” Wynonna led her across the street and up towards the McCready house.

“Where are we going? Hello Mr McCready, sir.” Nicole nodded at Mr McCready as Wynonna and her walked past the homely living room.

“Good afternoon, Nicole.” He was soft spoken, but confident in a way that gained him respect from everyone. Nicole had always liked that about him. “You’ve done a good job on that wild lawn of yours. Would you maybe do the same for ours whilst we still have some fine weather left? I can pay you of course.”

“No need to pay me, sir. I can do it after school on Tuesday if that’s OK?”

Wynonna scoffed. “Good ‘cause I’m not doing it.”

Curtis gave Wynonna a stern look that was softened by the fondness in his eyes. “I wouldn’t trust you with it whether you were willing or not. Thank you, Nicole. That’s a very kind offer that we will gladly take you up on.”

“Great- she’ll be here on Tuesday.” Wynonna grabbed Nicole’s arm and dragged her towards the stairs. “Let’s gooooo.”

Nicole managed to get out a hurried goodbye before she was ushered to the top of the stairs where Wynonna turned around and placed a finger against her lips. They crept up to Waverly’s room and Wynonna stopped to listen in, grabbing Nicole closer so she could too.

Waverly sounded pissed off. “So, you’re gay now?”

Chrissy sighed. “No. I’ve always been Bi, Waves. I don’t get why it’s a big deal. She’s hot, I’m hot - it was just a bit of fun.”

“I’m sorry.” There was a pause where Nicole and Wynonna leaned closer to the door. “I know you have a right to tell people when you’re ready. I just felt upset that you hadn’t told me this before.”

“I guess I didn’t feel the need to since I hadn’t really acted on it before now.”

“That’s OK, Chris. I want you to know I fully support you and I have no problem with her being a girl. I have a problem with her being the girl who broke my kind-of-boyfriend’s nose.”

“We went over this - he started it!”

“It takes two to tango.”

Wynonna stood up straighter and made a stamping sound with her feet. Nicole gave Wynonna a ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ look that was promptly ignored as Wynonna waited a moment before knocking her knuckles on Waverly’s door.

“Hey Waves,” she warned before barging open the door and grabbing Nicole by the front of her shirt to push her into the room. “I would like to present to you the actions of your so-called ‘kinda boyfriend’.” With the announcement, she turned a bewildered Nicole round and lifted the back of her shirt up.

Nicole’s “Wynonna, what the hell-” petered out when she heard the gasps from everyone in the room.

All Nicole could think was thank fuck she’d thought to put a sports bra on.

Wynonna continued, “this is what he did before punching her twice. Only then did she defend herself, so I think Chump has some serious explaining to do.”

Nicole peered over her shoulder at the others. “Is it bad? I tried to look earlier in the mirror, but I couldn’t see very well…”

Waverly and Chrissy were speechless.

Wynonna winced at her. “It looks pretty bad, dude.”

Nicole wriggled in Wynonna’s grip. “Can I turn around now and have my modesty back, please?”

Wynonna immediately let go of her and Nicole pulled her shirt down to cover her back.

Nicole shifted awkwardly under the other three’s gazes. “Look, the table did most of the damage. Not Champ.” She didn’t want to cause conflict between the sisters because of some dumb fight. “If I hadn’t stupidly done a backflip right next to it, this wouldn’t have been as bad. I also totally goaded him into it,” she rambled into the silence.

Waverly met her gaze with reddened cheeks. “Whilst that explains it more it doesn’t excuse him behaving like a thug. I’m sorry, Nicole.”

“I’m uh- sort of sorry for fucking up your sort of boyfriend’s nose?” Nicole smiled to break the tension in the room. “OK, I’m not that sorry, but can we all just move on from this, please?”

Waverly smiled back and nodded.

“Aw, I’m so good at peace talks!” Wynonna chimed in before patting Nicole on the back.

“Ow!” Nicole couldn’t help yelping as pain lanced up her shoulder blade.

Wynonna leaped away and exclaimed, “oh shit- sorry!”, at the same time as Chrissy and Waverly both yelled “Wynonna!” at her.

Monday morning came, as it was wont to do, unfortunately. Nicole had no idea what to expect after having a public fight with one of the most ‘popular’ guys in school but if it meant being demoted to the rank of outcast again, she could live with it.

She twisted uncomfortably in the driver’s seat of her car, trying to ignore the tightness in her back, as she waited for the Earp’s to grace her with their presence. She played a game on her phone until she caught sight of Waverly skipping down the McCready porch steps in her short cheerleader skirt. Needless to say, she lost the level she was meant to be playing as she rolled down her window and smiled.

“We got a pep rally or something today?”

Waverly gave her a smile that was worthy of a far better day than a Monday. “Yes. There’s a big Football game against our rivals on Friday.”

“Meh. Hard pass on that one.”

Waverly’s mouth fell open. “What? You can’t just skip a game against the Rottweilers!”

Nicole stepped out of the car and pulled the seat forward to let Waverly into the back. “I’ve skipped all the others. I truly don’t care.”

Waverly buckled herself into the back whilst Wynonna stumbled into the passenger seat, looking less alive than the poor field mouse Nicole had accidentally caught in the lawn mower when she finished up yesterday.

“Wynonna - tell Nicole she has to come to the game on Friday!”

Wynonna leaned her head back against the headrest as Nicole started up the engine. “Babygirl, you’re going about this completely the wrong way. Nicole - there will be loads of cheerleaders at the game on Friday.”

Waverly’s hand appeared between the front seats to slap at the side of Wynonna’s head. “Don’t make Nicole out to be a creep!”

Nicole let out a laugh. “Waverly, I genuinely appreciate your defence of my character. Wynonna, I’ll admit you do make a compelling argument. I’ll go if she does.” Nicole nodded her head towards Wynonna.

Waverly turned her pleading eyes on Wynonna for a mere moment before she burst out with, “fine, we’ll go! You’d better give the peppiest cheer I’ve ever seen.”

“You can count on it.” Waverly pulled her cute smug face then turned her attention to Nicole. “So… Chrissy?” She raised her eyebrows and blinked at Nicole like that was actually a conversation prompt and not just a statement.

Nicole focused resolutely on the road. “What about her?”

“You guys are hooking up, huh?”

“No- we just kissed.” Nicole checked her mirrors three times before pulling out of an intersection.

“Was it good? Are you gonna do it again? Have you thought about dating?”

Wynonna turned to glare at Waverly in the backseat. “This ain’t twenty questions, Wave. Besides, Nic’s a player- she don’t get tied down or play by the rules. She’s cool, like me; we don’t bother with relationships.”

“Wynonna, that’s so sad. Don’t you want to find love?” Waverly pouted at her.

“Waves you know that’s all bullshit. Plus, we’re seventeen. We’re not gonna find ‘the one’ at purgatory high and if we can’t explore stuff now, when can we?”

“What’s the point if you never make a connection because you’re purposefully closing yourself off?”

Nicole pulled into the school parking lot. “This is kinda heavy for a Monday morning, guys.”

Waverly removed her seatbelt and shuffled to the edge of her seat. “I’m not saying you have to always be looking for ‘the one’ I just don’t see the need to be so cynical.”

Wynonna was already out of the car. “We’ll agree to disagree, Babygirl. I’ve gotta go sell some whiskey to freshmen so I’ll see you ladies later.”

Nicole got out of her car and held the door open for Waverly.

Pushing the seat forward and climbing out, Waverly looked up at Nicole. “Please tell me you don’t also believe that love is dead like Wynonna?”

Nicole smiled. “No. I’m sure love is alive and kicking. I just don’t believe you can find it if you go out looking. I think maybe it finds you.”

“Nicole, that’s kinda beautiful.” Waverly gave her a priceless smile, placed a gentle hand on her bicep and squeezed once. “I’ll see you later at yours, OK?” She turned and began walking towards the front doors.

Even with her head spinning from Waverly's touch, Nicole managed to get out, “Later?”

“For tutoring!” Waverly replied over her shoulder.



Waverly was going to be her History tutor.

Chapter Text

The cafeteria was a no-go on Monday lunch, since Nicole didn’t want to exacerbate this ridiculous feud with Champ, so she spent some time in the gym with Dolls. It was hard to worry about other things when she was focused so intently on completing each lift.

Dolls was spotting her when he gave her a small grin. A rare occurrence indeed. “Do we need to do a few more sessions in the ring?” He nodded at the boxing ring behind them.

Nicole rolled her eyes. “I’m guessing you’ve heard about the fight then?”

“Yes.” Dolls gave her a look that said, ‘you’re an idiot’.

Nicole let the weight drop back and sat up. “First, he started it. Second, I just finished it.”

“I believe you but that doesn’t make it OK,” Dolls replied in his stern voice that Wynonna liked so much.

Another voice cut in from the door. “He’s saying that he gave you these superpowers and as your mentor he wants you to use them for the power of good.” Jeremy, in the gym?

Nicole blinked once to check she was awake. “Jeremy, are you sure you can be in here? Won’t you come up in hives being so close to workout machines or something?”

“Oh ha-ha,” he replied but did look very out of place. “I’m not here to do exercise. I’m here to see if you’re alright, and if you’re free to help me with something.”

Nicole was touched by the gesture. “Yeah. I’m good. Also: not a superhero.”

“No? I was thinking ‘Headbutting Haught’.” Jeremy gave her a grin and even Dolls smirked at that.

“I love it.”


“No.” Nicole rolled her eyes at Jeremy’s feigned hurt and stood up. She turned to Dolls. “Thanks for this- I would actually like to take you up on some more boxing practice so let me know, yeah?”

“Of course.” Dolls nodded to them both.

Nicole followed Jeremy out of the gym and towards the science labs. “How are you anyway, Jer?”

“I’m all good.” Jeremy pushed open a lab door and approached a corner where some lab equipment was set up. It looked far too complicated for Nicole to comprehend. “How’s being popular treating you?”

“There’s ups and downs.” Nicole let out a laugh. “You know I think talking things through with someone could help if you’re willing.”

Jeremy placed a pair of goggles over his eyes and passed a pair to Nicole. “Sounds good to me. You help me with this experiment, and I’ll be a great listener for you.” He moved a few conical flasks around with various liquids in before facing her again. “So- give me all the goss, girl.”

Nicole told him everything. They’d already broached her feelings for Waverly previously so there was no shock there at least.

Jeremy was precisely adding something to the solution with a pipette when Nicole finished up and he let out a hum before standing up straight. “Sounds to me like you have a couple of problems.”

“No shit, Sherlo-”

“You’ve made an enemy of a douchebag by showing him up and you’ve got some seriously complicated feelings about Waverly and being with anyone else.”

“Yeah that summarises it.” Nicole rested her elbow on an empty part of the workbench. “I just feel like it’s hard to move on from my feelings for Waverly even more now she’s actually in my life, but I need to ‘cause it’s so stupid pining after a straight girl who's into massive dickbags.”

Jeremy shrugged. “Maybe you’re going about it the right way though.”


“Well, maybe actually getting to know Waverly properly will help you to see her as a normal, flawed person rather than an amazing goddess-like unavailable crush.”

“Huh.” Nicole placed a hand on her chin.

“Plus, you know what they say…” Jeremy fixed her with a grin.


“The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” He gave her a wink and laughed when she put her head in her hands. “Plus, Chrissy’s hot and, for some unfathomable reason, thinks you are too.” 

"Rude." Nicole stuck her tongue out at him. "I don't wanna hurt her though. I'm not sure I'm comfortable using anyone like that."

"As long as you're honest and upfront about not wanting anything serious, I'm sure you'll be fine." Jeremy stepped back from the table and took his goggles off. "Everyone does casual hookups and dating nowadays anyway. Or so I hear."

"Maybe you're right…"

"It's a habit of mine." He gave her a grin and scribbled some notes down. "So, we're still on for Thursday evening D&D at yours, right?"

Nicole checked over her shoulder to ensure they were definitely alone before nodding. "Yes. My parents are going out for dinner, so we've got the house to ourselves to kill dragons or whatever we get up to."

Jeremy gave her a grin. "You'll have to wait and see what I've got planned."

Nicole nodded. "Anyway, enough about our nerdy Thursdays and my sad excuse for a love life, what about you? Did you speak to Robin?"

Jeremy blushed and looked back at the chemicals in front of him. "It's a- well, it's a work in progress unfortunately. I said 'hi' to him by the recycling bins the other day and he said 'hi' back but that was it. I get all tongue tied."

"He'd be lucky to have you." Nicole pat him on the back. "Confidence is key."

"I'll blame you when I next embarrass myself…" Jeremy muttered as he gave Nicole a conical flask to hold. 

Nicole grabbed a spot near the back for the mandatory pep rally and saved a seat for Wynonna. Usually, saving a seat wouldn't be an easy task but it seemed that all she had to do was give a look to anyone approaching and they backed off. She guessed that was what happened when everyone thinks you're a deranged psychopath who breaks people's noses with their forehead, or you're the heroic underdog who rose up to beat the school bully. Either way, the power she now had was kinda dizzying.

"Howdy Haught-dog, how's your first day back at school since you became a badass?" Wynonna dropped into the seat next to her and put her feet up on the chair in front, earning a glare from the occupier until he realised who it was and turned back around.

Nicole laughed. "Don't give me positive reinforcement for beating someone up. To be honest I'm really thinking we should have skipped this."

Wynonna somehow lounged back in her seat even further and laced her fingers behind her head. "Sometimes people deserve it, but I agree we definitely should have skipped this. Ooooo look." She pointed to the football team coming out into the main gymnasium. "Let's see how messed up Champ looks!"

"Wynonna shh. Don't draw attention." Not that it would help now. Everyone knew what had happened, some kid had filmed it, and Nicole saw the majority of the school whispering and looking up at her when Champ did finally trudge out at the back of the group.

His nose was taped up and covered, and with dark purple bruising over the bridge and under both of his eyes, he looked a sorry sight.

Wynonna was grabbing onto her arm. "Dude, you legit gave him two black eyes. Two for one. Buy one black eye: get one free from Haught-shot."

Nicole kicked Wynonna in the shin and folded her arms, trying to look like all the scrutiny from her classmates was no bother. 

Wynonna was glaring at everyone in her usual way but even she couldn't dissuade people's natural curiosity.

Thankfully the music turned up and the cheerleaders began the rally, starting with an upbeat dance routine.

Wynonna leaned closer to her to be heard over the music. "Don't ya think-"

Nicole cut her off. "Wynonna if you are about to say anything remotely sexual about any of them-"

"What, you'll headbutt me?" Wynonna sniggered at her. "Please don't!"

It was going to be a long afternoon.

Nicole re-adjusted her hair in the mirror for what was the third time in the last fifteen minutes.


She was cool. She could be cool. Chill. Relaxed. She was on her way to getting over her ridiculous crush on Waverly, right? Right. She could be laid back around her easily. They were just normal friends. She reminded herself that it wasn't fair to Waverly to act weird around her. Nicole's feelings were Nicole's problem and she was working on it.

When the doorbell rang, she totally acted normal by running to the door to ensure Waverly wouldn't have to interact with her Mom. She yelled, "I've got it!" towards the living room and yanked the door open.

"Hey," Waverly Earp greeted her with an adorable smile and what looked to be a pile of dull textbooks.

"Hey," Nicole breathed before shaking her head a little. "Hi. Yes. Please come in. Let me take those." She held out her hand for the pile of books and wheezed when Waverly dropped them into her grip.

"Thanks," Waverly replied as she stepped over the threshold.

"Jesus, what are these made of? Paper or bricks?" Nicole closed the door and heaved the books through to the dining room, Waverly just behind her. "We can set up here if that's OK?"

"Sure. I'll have you know those books are made up of history. A very weighty topic." Waverly grabbed a pink pencil case out of her bag.

"It sure is," Nicole murmured before taking a seat. "So, uh, how come you tutor history for seniors?"

"I'm in the advanced class. I was considered to skip a grade in middle school, but I wanted to stick with my friends, and it would be weird to be in loads of classes with Wynonna."

Was there anything this girl couldn't do? "So, you're a genius?"

Waverly blushed and focused on getting a pen out to scribble on the side of her notebook. "I wouldn't say that."

"Well I hope you’re ready 'cause you've got your work cut out for you." Nicole opened her notebook and shrugged. "I suck at history."

"I don't back down from a challenge." Waverly gave her a stern gaze.

Nicole swallowed a lump in her throat.

Well, damn.

To credit Waverly she did make history more interesting. Nicole preferred the part that involved them spending time together to the actual boring facts but nonetheless she had learned more than she ever felt she did in class.

Waverly stacked her books and gave her a smile. "You're a lot better than most people I've tutored. I'm confident we can get you to a B grade, maybe higher if you really apply yourself."

"Where's the fun in that?" Nicole joked but her smile fell when her Mom walked into the room. She prepared herself for incoming embarrassment.

"Hey girlies are you done with your studying? Oh, and Waverly, did you want to stay for dinner?"

Nicole heard alarms blaring in her head. "Mom, I'm sure she has to get back home for dinner." She turned on Waverly with pleading eyes. "Right, Waves?"

Waverly looked confused for a moment as she looked between the two of them before nodding. "Right. Yeah, I've got to get back- it's casserole tonight so I can't miss it but thank you for the invitation Mrs Haught."

"Not a problem, dear. You're always welcome." She smiled at Waverly and Nicole knew she had to split this up now before any embarrassing stories came to light.

Nicole stood up from the table and grabbed Waverly's heavy books. "I'll walk you home. See you later, Mom." She glared at her Mom behind Waverly's back as she scooped up her things and they made their way to the door. 

Waverly called out, "goodbye Mrs Haught," as she stepped out of the front door.

Nicole's Mom gave her a wave and a, "bye sweetie," before turning to Nicole who was adjusting her jacket in the doorway. "Why can't you bring home a nice, sweet girl like Waverly, Nikki?" There it was- strike one.

"Ugh. Bye!" Nicole slammed the door closed and followed a giggling Waverly down the steps and onto the path. "Sorry about her. I didn't want you to stay for dinner as all she'd do is grill you the whole time. Pun intended.”

Waverly’s eyes were full of mirth and Nicole reckoned there was no better sight. "I see. And here I was thinking you hated my company." 

Nicole's eyes widened. "Not yours! I wanted to save you from being in her company."

"Sure Nikki ," Waverly teased.

"Ugh, I hate being called that," she growled, stuffing her hands further into the pockets of her denim jacket.

"I'll stick with Nicole then." Waverly caught her gaze. "Can I ask why she annoys you so much? She seems sweet."

They crossed the road and Nicole held tighter onto the books. "I do love her, and I know she loves me, I've just never felt like I was what she wanted."

Waverly tilted her head, eyebrows furrowed. "In what way?"

"First off she enjoyed being a free spirit not tied down by a kid. Second, I think she really wanted a girly girl who she could talk make-up and boys with, and I've never been close to that." Nicole stared down at the sidewalk. "I've always felt like we're very different people."

"I get what you mean." Waverly gave her a small smile as they approached the McCready porch. "It's not nice having pressure to be someone you're not or feeling like you’re letting people down if you be yourself."

"Let me tell you, I suck real bad at pretending to be interested in make-up and cute boys." Nicole stepped up onto the porch and held out the books. “So, I stopped bothering pretty quickly.”

Waverly gently took them out of her hands. "I've always kinda admired you for that."

"Me?" Nicole managed to stop herself from adding 'you knew I existed before now?!'.

"Yeah. I always thought you were cool because you were rebellious and not afraid to be different, you know? I remember when we were in elementary school and Chad Davis was making fun of my pink bike." She rolled her eyes but smiled. "I was so proud of myself for learning, that I rode it everywhere that year, and you came out of nowhere, pushed him down a hill and just walked off!"

They shared a laugh and Nicole couldn't help noticing how Waverly's nose crinkled up. "I can't believe you remember that! That guy was, and still is, a douche."

"He really is." They were standing outside the door now and Waverly hiked the books closer to her chest. "Goodnight, Nicole."

Nicole felt her throat go dry at their proximity, but she steeled herself to be confident. "Night, Waverly." She gave her a smile and started the walk back across the road.

That night, Nicole grabbed an old basketball and took a few shots at the net her Dad had fixed over the garage door when she’d gotten into sports as a kid. Doing some exercise helped channel all the nervous energy that had built up as she mused over her study session with Waverly. 

It was nice.

Well, she was still smiling two hours later so it was pretty good at least.

Her confidence was growing the more she was around Waverly and, whilst that initial attraction Nicole had felt was not dying down, she at least managed to talk like a somewhat intelligent human being around her now. Maybe she could do ‘friends’.

Did it hurt every time she saw her with Champ? Yes. Did Nicole have absolutely no right to be hurt by that? Also, yes. Waverly was her own person with her own desires, and Nicole wanted her to be happy.

Still, that didn't mean she couldn't listen to sad mopey songs about unrequited love whilst she thought about Waverly's smile.

Chapter Text

The next day shaped up to be what was most likely the last hot day of the year and Nicole was thoroughly enjoying the shade of a tree.

It was tough for the pale redheads in this kind of heat.

She leaned back against the tree trunk, one leg flopped out in front of her and the other bent at the knee. She lit a cigarette and opened up the play she was supposed to be reading for English Lit. 

She reckoned there were worse ways to spend your time.

"Can we join you?" 

Nicole looked up from Macbeth to see Waverly and a small group of her friends had approached her. "By all means: take a seat." Nicole slapped on her most charming grin and exhaled smoke. "I'm surprised you aren't topping up your tans." She pointed at a group of other cheerleaders not that far away who were lying in the sun.

"We wanted a break from the heat." Waverly found a spot, on Nicole's left, and her friends spread round, Chrissy coming to sit on her other side with a battered copy of Of Mice and Men in one hand. The group of girls were mostly cheerleaders, Nicole thought, there was Jessica and Darcy? A Rachel? She wasn't sure of a lot of the names, but they began chatting between themselves about some Bio test they'd all taken.

Nicole took another drag of her cigarette and nodded at Chrissy's book. "George kills Lennie."

The look of shock and anger was worth it. Chrissy smacked her on the arm with the book three times. "You asshole!"

Nicole noticed Waverly watching the two of them carefully, but she laughed and asked, "Is it really a spoiler if the book's been out for over seventy years?"

"Yes, it is if I haven't read it!" Chrissy threw her hands in the air then stuffed Of Mice and Men back into her bag.

Nicole held out her half-finished cigarette. "Accept my apology?" 

Chrissy rolled her eyes but took the offer.

Waverly raised her eyebrows at them. "You're supposed to be quitting."

"Yeah," Chrissy sighed. "That's why I'm only smoking half rather than a whole one."

Nicole looked back down at Macbeth but couldn't hold in a snicker. "That's genius right there."

Waverly scowled but there was playfulness behind her eyes. "Maybe you should quit too, Nicole."

Nicole rolled her eyes at her over her book. "But then how will I look cool?"

"Dying of lung cancer isn't very cool." Waverly stretched her legs out and Nicole followed the movement.

"Fair. Sure." Nicole grabbed the half empty pack from her bag. "I'm quitting right now. Promise." She flung the cigarettes across the field, watching as it hit some kid in the back.

The boy yelped then turned around and looked over at them.

Nicole held her hands to her mouth to shout over, "I'm quitting! You can have them, enjoy!"

The group laughed and Nicole turned back to Waverly. "You've just improved my health, happy?"

"I guess."

"You are a hard girl to please, Waverly Earp."

Chrissy sniggered next to her before muttering, "true, if you ask Champ."

Nicole raised an eyebrow, ignoring the dull ache in her chest and instead mustering some bravado. “Is this a sex thing? I feel like it’s a sex thing.”

Waverly crossed her arms. “ Yes , it’s a sex thing.” She lowered her voice. “I was… disappointed by the make-up sex that’s all.”

“Did you let him know?” Nicole asked, trying her hardest to stay objective. 

“I tried but he got all defensive.”

“Ugh, guys. They’re the worst. Such fragile egos.” Nicole closed Macbeth . “This dude literally commits a murder for his lady.”

Chrissy laughed. “I don’t know if relationships should be based on whether you’d murder for them.”

“I guess now I know why my last relationship failed,” Nicole joked.

Waverly gave her a curious look. "Who was your…" she trailed off as their attention was then drawn to the group of cheerleaders who’d been sat in the sun as they got up and started to make their way towards them. At the front was Stephanie Jones in all her blonde, bitchy-looking glory.

Not to stereotype or anything.

Waverly grumbled, “here we go…” under her breath.

“Waverly.” Stephanie popped some bubblegum and looked down at the group sitting under the tree. “We’re gonna go inside. Are you coming, or staying here with,” she looked Nicole up and down with apparent disgust, “this weirdo ?”

Oh, so it was like that. Well, it wasn’t like Nicole had much to lose since she’d already done incredibly stupid shit in front of the whole school more than once. She stepped up, brushed her skinny jeans off and held her hand out for Stephanie to ignore. “Hi. I’m Nicole ‘Weirdo’ Haught. Nice to meet you.”

“Charmed,” Stephanie replied, looking as far from charmed as a human could.

Nicole flashed her the Haught dimples. “I’m sure you are. You might want to tell your face, though.”

“Look, loser, I don’t care.” Stephanie stepped closer and glared up at her. “You’re a big deal right now but by next week you’ll be old news. Everyone will forget about you.”

Nicole smirked at her. “You’re getting pretty angry for someone who doesn’t care…”

That didn’t go down well. “You’re a smug bitch with no class.”

“Ouch.” Nicole didn’t drop her smirk. “I love it when you’re mean.”

“What the fuck?” Stephanie gave her another disgusted look. “Waverly- come and get your creepy weirdo or I won’t be held responsible for what I do.”

Waverly stalked over to them whilst Nicole wiggled an eyebrow at Stephanie and asked, “what are you gonna do?”

“I’ll slap your face, bitch,” Stephanie spat through gritted teeth.

Waverly grabbed Nicole’s arm and began moving her, but Nicole couldn’t help herself. “Maybe I like it rough, Stephanie.” She kept up her smug, frankly arrogant posturing as she winked. “I never realised you had so many passionate feelings towards me.” 

Stephanie turned a dark shade of red and her eyes went wild. For the first time in what was probably Purgatory High history, Stephanie Jones only managed to splutter out half words. “You- I don’t- how dare -”

Nicole put her hand next to her ear and yelled back, “call me, yeah?” As she was dragged away by Waverly, Chrissy and a couple of their friends, who led her into the school. “Before you give me a lecture,” she started as they let go of her, “she was so easy to wind up. Also, what’s the deal, are you guys in two warring 'Cheer-gangs' now?”

Waverly sighed before replying in a far too serious voice for what was essentially, kind of ridiculous. “Stephanie’s trying to organise a coup by dividing the cheer squad to get enough support to replace me.”

And Purgatory High had been running as normal with this war seething below the surface? The social hierarchy was in serious turmoil this year. 

“Shit- I thought you guys just danced and shouted?” Uh oh. That was the wrong thing to say to five cheerleaders. “I mean uh. I can’t believe her! Right?”

“She’s always been jealous.” Waverly shook her head. “Maybe stay away from her if you can, Nicole. She’s pretty vindictive.” They walked towards the lockers and Nicole wondered if she'd end up regretting getting on Stephanie's bad side. Still, she knew where her allegiance was in the 'Cheer War'.

Before they got further into school Chrissy grabbed her wrist. “Hey- Nicole, can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure, what is it?”

Waverly loudly announced to the group that she had something to show them in her locker and Nicole frowned at the weirdness until she realised Chrissy was pulling her in the opposite direction. 

She took her towards a supply closet, away from the busier hallways.

“Is this a hit? Am I about to die right now? I swear I didn’t mean what I said about Cheer just being dancing and shouting,” Nicole pleaded before she was yanked into the dark room.

Chrissy closed the door behind them and pushed a box in front of it.

“Ok am I actually in danger here?”

Nicole could just hear Chrissy breathe out, “God, you’re so fucking dumb,” before she was pushed back against the wall and Chrissy was kissing her.


That did make more sense. Sort of.

She placed her hands at Chrissy’s hips and returned the kiss fervently, pulling them closer together as she did so.

It was more intense this time, compared to their first light-hearted, buzzed kiss, plus the whole ‘we totally shouldn’t be doing this’ thing was seriously hot.

Nicole bit down gently on Chrissy’s lower lip and relished in the moan she received in reply and the tug on her hair at the back of her head.

She felt a heat build in her chest and move lower.

Nicole broke away to gasp out, “can I just say, in my defence, it is really dark in here.”

Chrissy giggled as she ran a distracting finger along the length of Nicole’s jaw, and she opened her mouth to reply when the bell for the end of lunch rang out.

Nicole shot up straighter. “Fuck- I cannot miss another History class! I have to go. I’m sorry. Can we- um take a rain check on this?”

“Sure. I’ve got English Lit to enjoy.” She gave Nicole a sarcastic look as she opened the door a touch to check the coast was clear. “See you later, Weirdo .” She mocked Stephanie’s nasally voice before hurrying off down the hall.

The sun was lower in the sky, but the heat was just as gruelling when Nicole made her way over to the McCready house after school.

She greeted Curtis, who requested she call him Curtis rather than ‘Mr McCready’, and she followed him into the small, packed garage. Curtis’ beat up truck took up most of the room, but all other available space was for gardening equipment, boxes, and the kinds of things you didn’t have a place for in the house. One such thing that drew her attention was the pink bike Waverly had loved as a kid, sitting in a corner and looking forlorn in its abandonment.

Curtis followed her gaze and smiled. “I haven’t had the heart to get rid of it yet.” He paused for a moment, most likely to reminisce too, then continued. “Our mower’s a little tricky to use but once it’s up and going it gets the job done. Although, it wasn’t working properly last time and I’ve been meaning to give it a look over...” He pulled it over from behind a box labelled ‘Plant Pots- HANDLE WITH CARE’.

“Trust me it can’t be worse than ours. I’ll take a look at it and get started.” She bent down and assessed the machine, trying to call back on the lessons her Dad had given her since he had a mechanical mind. “Have you got a set of tools?” She looked up at him.

“Oh, yes, somewhere…” He rooted around on a messy workbench until he returned with a toolbox and crouched down next to her.

They took it apart together, checked the components and worked it out. It reminded Nicole of the times when she was a kid and her Dad used to include her in his projects, before the business got busier and demanded more, or closer to all, of his time.

They were covered in grease and oil by the time they finished but they shared a satisfied smile when it whirred into life, functional once again.

They both looked up through the open garage door to the drive when they heard a car pull up. Loud pop music blasted out as Waverly said goodbye to her friends and hopped onto the drive.

Curtis smiled brightly at his niece. "How was your day, darlin'?" 

Waverly, radiant as usual, began pulling her hair up into a bun, and Nicole studied the movements of her hands helplessly. "Brilliant, thanks! How about you- you've got the lawn mower working again?"

"Thanks to some help from Nicole here." Curtis gave her a nod and stood up, stretching his back and wiping his hands on his jeans. "Think I need a drink or something."

Nicole began to move the mower. "I'll get started."

Waverly stepped into the garage, squeezing past Nicole in the small space. "I'll get you both some cold lemonade."

Nicole nodded, temporarily speechless from being so close, but focused on her task, making her way out of the cluttered garage and onto the lawn.

She was on her way to being over her crush but moments like that still had her heartbeat racing.

OK maybe she wasn't over Waverly at all, but it was a work in progress. Like quitting smoking and trying to have a better relationship with her parents. She should probably work on her impulse control too.

So, she had a lot to work on.

Not mowing grass though, that she was good at. Plus, it allowed her plenty of time to ruminate over her numerous character flaws. 

Nicole wiped at her brow and looked up to see Waverly stood still on the porch, a glass in her hand. Once she realised Nicole had stopped too, she snapped back into motion, hurrying across the small patch of grass to hold out the drink. "Here- some cool lemonade. You won't be much use to anyone if you die of heat exhaustion or whatever," Waverly rambled with pink cheeks. 

Nicole gladly took the glass. "Thanks, Waves." She took a sip and savoured the taste. Damn, it was good. "I'm lucky to have you looking out for my health."

Waverly laughed a little too loudly and backed away. Odd. "Ha. Yeah. Um let me know if you want me- I mean if you want any more lemonade or anything and I'll get you some." She turned around and hurried back into the house. 

Was it something Nicole said?

Curtis McCready was a lovely man who had a lot of friends. Completely unrelated: Nicole had suddenly been asked to mow other people's lawns. For actual money. Was she a business owner now? 

Turned out Curtis had gone down to Shorty's bar and diner and sung her praises to all who would listen. 

Her Dad was delighted at what he called her 'entrepreneurial spirit' and immediately bought her a diary for her 'bookings' and a pair of thick gloves for safety. It was kinda heart-warming, not that she'd let him know that.

Wynonna, unsurprisingly, found it all hilarious. She lay back on Nicole's bed later that week, uninvited naturally, and smirked. "Think of all the girls you can meet and flirt with whilst you're channelling your peak butch-ish vibes."

"Wynonna, you need to get off the internet." Nicole was supposed to be doing Math homework, but she put down her pencil and swivelled in her desk chair to face Wynonna.

"I educate myself, what's wrong with that? Besides, you were depressed all last year about that girl you met at summer camp. I just think moving on and getting some more experience will be good for you."

"What are you, my life coach?"

"It's called friendship, idiot." That was the closest thing Wynonna got to mushy. 

"Uh thanks, I guess." Nicole sat at the foot of her bed. "Shae really messed me up.” Her throat felt dry, so she cleared it and focused on pulling out a loose thread on her duvet. “I loved her Wy, but I think I'm getting over her."

"Good. I didn't want you wasting your senior year being all mopey. Speaking of…"

"What?" Nicole asked, with a learned caution that always came from Wynonna suggesting things.

"What party plans have you got for when your parents are away?" 

"Ha. Nothing. Have you already forgotten how the last party went for me?"

Wynonna sat up to face her. "OK but just hear me out." She looked more serious than Nicole had ever seen her. "We'll only invite people we actually know or like. We can keep it casual- maybe BBQ food and some beers around the fire pit?"

"My parents bought the fire thingy so they could have wine and cheese outside, not so drunk teenagers could burn themselves."

"I'm gonna be honest with you here, Nicole." Wynonna laced her hands together like she was selling a business pitch or something else far more serious than the moment required. "You're privileged."

"Uh-huh." Where was she going with this?

"You can share your fortune by opening your spacious, modern, cool-ass home to poor kids like me."

"I have no problem with you coming over. I don't want loads of drunk strangers rooting through my stuff, is all."

"How about we agree on a Guestlist then? Make it an exclusive party?"

Nicole almost said no, almost. "... Alright. I am trying to be more fun this year so yes, we can have a small party."

Wynonna whooped.

There was a knock at the bedroom door followed by Nicole's Mom calling through. "Hey girls, can I come in or are you doing something ?"

Nicole rolled her eyes. "Come in. I already told you Wynonna is just a friend, Mom."

She opened the door and gave them a grin. "I wanted to let you know that we're all packed up to go in the morning. Are you sure you don't want to come? I can talk to the principal. I'm sure it's fine to miss a bit of school…"

"No thanks, Mom. You guys enjoy yourselves."

Her Mom had a twinge of disappointment on her face, but she nodded. "Well, alright. The fridge and cupboards are all stocked up and I've sent you a bank transfer. Don't spend it all at once." She moved to close the door but popped her head back in. "Oh, and enjoy your time being independent!" 

Her Mom had barely closed the door before Wynonna smacked her arm in excitement. "Your Mom is so cool! How much money did she send you?"

"I'll check later, Wy. I think you'll be more interested to know that 'the fridge and cupboards are stocked up' means she's left us a load of alcohol too."

"Seriously? Can I move in?" 

"Hah. No."

"But you have three spare rooms!"

"Do you really think we could live in the same house for more than a week without killing each other?" Nicole raised her eyebrows.

Wynonna placed a hand on her chin. "No. Yeah, that's fair."

Thursday morning, which is usually a good day, Nicole was taken aback by her locker having a message written on it in red paint. She double checked it was hers before shrugging.

Wynonna frowned next to her, placing a hand on her chin. "Lacks imagination if you ask me but at least we're vandalised locker buddies now."

Nicole stared again at the 'Bitchface' scrawled across her locker. "I guess." Being an outsider, ignored by all, had stung but she was starting to wonder if notoriety would be worse.

Chad Davis and the Yorke brothers walked past and smirked at the writing. Chad, giving Nicole a gross look up and down, asked, "what's up, Bitchface?"

Nicole nodded to him and opened her locker. "Could be worse. I could have your face."

He looked confused for a moment before giving her a glare as Pete grabbed his arm to shuffle him along.

Wynonna gave them a wink. "Nice to see you, Pete." She waited for them to get further away before turning back to Nicole. "He's terrible in bed."

Nicole rolled her eyes. "Then why have you fucked him multiple times?"

Wynonna just shrugged before cursing under her breath as she spotted someone over Nicole's shoulder. "Gotta go," she let out before making a swift exit that left Nicole baffled.

"Nicole Haught. I haven't seen you in a while."

Ah, shit. Nicole turned around to face Mr. Scott, the school guidance counsellor. "Good morning, Mr. Scott. How are you?"

His eyes lingered on the graffiti covering her locker. "I am well, thank you. Could you spare a moment to join me in my office?"

"Well I have Bio in a minute-"

"That is all accounted for. Your teacher will be expecting you late this morning."

"Right. OK. Sure." She grabbed her bag and followed him to his office, realising as she entered that she hadn't visited since her sophomore year. It was still set up like a ragtag living room of sorts with mismatched chairs around a coffee table and books filling, almost spilling out, of a packed bookshelf. His desk, set off to the side, was covered in papers, pens and framed pictures of his kids.

"Take a seat." He gestured with a palm towards the comfy chairs, opposite to his desk which sat by the window.

Nicole picked out her favourite chair, the one she knew had decent give but enough firmness that it didn't make it hard to get up. "Can I ask what this is about?"

Mr Scott sat in the leather chair opposite her and smiled. "I wanted to check in with you and remind you that I am here to talk about anything you want."

"Thanks. I'm doing good, though."

He gazed at her. He had deep brown eyes with a softness that invited you to spill out your secrets. Nicole had done that many a time in this room. "Nicole, you don't have to see me, but I would love to go back to our weekly meetings like we used to."

"I um." Nicole pushed her hair back from her face. It had always felt good to unload when stuff became too overwhelming. She sighed. "OK."

"That's the spirit." He gave her a grin. "We'll see where we can fit it into your timetable."

Great. Now she had the school shrink on her back.

"You approach the next room in the manor, having evaded the traps so far…" Jeremy peered at them over his screen. "I need all of you to make a stealth check."

Max, who was in Nicole and Jeremy's English class, groaned and pulled off his glasses. "I've done so well disarming all the traps up here now we're gonna fuck it all up with a stealth check?"

Nicole frowned. "I have disadvantage 'cause of my Chainmail armour, right?"

"Well remembered," Jeremy gave her a smile.

Nicole looked at the 13 she had rolled a moment ago and rolled again, cursing through her teeth at the 1 showing up on her die. "A nat one again? Are you fucking kidding me?"

The rest of the table giggled at her but quieted when Jeremy cleared his throat. "Your armour encumbers your movement and you clang your way behind the rest of the party, knowing that any element of surprise has been lost."

"Sorry guys."

Jeremy continued. "You enter the room... and hear a horrible screech! And that's where we're ending today's session."

"We're fucked," Nicole lamented, drinking the last of her soda.

"We'll be fine. You should probably replace your dice though…" Lily, who was in Jeremy's AP Chem class, glared at Nicole's set of dice which had been rolling like shit all evening. 

Garrett, who knew Jeremy through the AV club and was possibly the nerdiest dude Nicole had ever met, spoke up. "All dice are weighted somewhat but I'm convinced the dice gods have cursed you."

Jeremy frowned. "Do you wanna borrow one of my sets next time?"

"I dunno, do you mind me passing on my 'curse' to them?" She grinned at him. "Letting me join your D&D group is one thing but letting me curse your precious dice must be a step too far."

"Pssshhh. I can handle it." Jeremy waved her off before folding up his DM screen and packing his notes into an overflowing binder. 

Nicole nodded. "Did you guys want to come to a party here next weekend?" They all looked at her in shock. "It's nothing big! Just a few people since my parents are still away…"

Lily focused her wide brown eyes on her. "Will your other friends be there?"

"Like who?"

Jeremy cut in. "She means will your 'cool' friends be there? Or, at least, that's what I wanna know."

Lily nodded. "Yeah. Will they want to go if we're there?"

"Of course. It's only gonna be people we know."

"So, there will be cheerleaders?" Garrett asked. 

"Yes, but don't be super weird with them, yeah?" Nicole raised an eyebrow at him.

Garrett lifted his hands up. "Of course, of course. They are Queens and I am but a humble servant."

"Just like that. Whatever that was, rein it in for an evening, please?"

Max grabbed Garrett’s shoulder. "I'll keep him in check. I can actually be vaguely normal when I try my hardest."

Nicole nodded. "There will be food and drinks provided. Also, you are free to have alcohol but don't feel like you have to, no matter what Wynonna says."

Garrett's eyes bugged out. " Wynonna Earp's going? Should I wear a stab-proof vest?"

"Garrett, that rumour was proved untrue."

"I heard she set fire to the gymnasium to get out of class one time," Lily chipped in.

"It wasn't, like, the whole gymnasium- anyway, yes, she is gonna be there, we're friends and you guys will be fine," Nicole assured them.

Jeremy stood up from the dining table. "You can count me in! I'm not gonna tell my parents that it's a party or your parents are away though." He scooped up his equipment and put it in his bag whilst the others began packing up too. "I've gotta be back for curfew but put the details in the group chat, yeah?"


Max gave her a thumbs up as they filed out of the dining room and towards his car. 

Nicole waved them off before closing the door.

Was mixing her nerdy and cool friendship groups the best idea? Maybe not, but at least the party would have enough people for Wynonna not to call it 'lamesville'. Probably. 

Her phone buzzed. Speaking, or thinking, of the devil.

[Wynonna] : who r ur Thurs night friends? 2 weeks in a row now. R u replacing me? *Tears emoji*  

[Nicole] : how do u even know?

She cleaned off the dining table and threw her empty soda can in the recycling. 

She liked Jeremy and the friends he'd introduced her to when she showed interest in joining his D&D group. She was worried they'd be scared off by Wynonna though.

[Wynonna] : waverly told me. Her window faces ur house 

It checked out. Waverly wasn't the only neighbour that peered out of windows every time a car pulled up on their street (looking at you old man Jenkins).

[Nicole]: yh I'm replacing you. It's so sad you had to find out this way...

[Wynonna] : dont make me come over there!

Nicole laughed at Wynonna's dramatics and flopped onto the sofa, flicking through the channels to find anything that wasn't crap.

Her phone buzzed again. It was a different number this time and Nicole's eyes widened when she saw the ID come up on her screen.

[Waverly] : I don't know what Wynonna has told you but I swear I'm not spying on you. She specifically asked me to check out of my window.

[Nicole]: Sounds like Wynonna. Don’t worry about it

She turned off the TV and decided to play some music to fill the quietness of the empty house.

[Waverly]: Am I invited to this party I’ve heard you and Wynonna are planning?

[Nicole]: You have to keep it on the down low but I think I could get you in

[Waverly]: What type of party is it? Wynonna mentioned something about wine and cheese?

Nicole threw her head back and laughed.

[Nicole]: Don’t forget the Brie, yeah?

Her phone was silent for a moment whilst Nicole congratulated herself on just how funny she is. 

[Waverly]: You’re being sarcastic

[Waverly]: Right?

[Nicole]: Yes, although I’d never turn you away for bringing cheese

[Waverly]: Noted

Chapter Text

Friday had the school buzzing about that evening's football game. It was against a school that was close enough to be considered Purgatory High's rivals, which almost always made the games descend into some kind of fight or tussle that had to be broken up by the match officials. 

The promise of drama, and the promise made to Waverly, had Nicole and Wynonna reluctantly attending. 

They'd been late enough to miss some of the first half but enjoyed the halftime cheer show. The opposing team's cheers had turned very derogatory towards Purgatory which had the crowd fired up for the second half. Even Wynonna seemed somewhat focused on the game now Purgatory's pride was at stake. As she'd said: "I hate this town. It's a piece of shit, but it's my town, and it's my piece of shit." Lovely sentiment.

Shoving her second hotdog in whole, Wynonna spoke through the corner of her mouth. "M-what mmm mm mmmm mmm?"

Nicole squinted at her. "Yeah I didn't get any of that."

Wynonna finished up chewing and fixed her with a glare. "I said what are the rules again?"

"You think I know? They throw the ball and sometimes it's good but sometimes it's bad?"

"Great," Wynonna huffed. She pulled a hip flask from her cleavage and took a long swig. "You want some?"

"Nah. I'm driving us home, remember?"

"Alright, sensible Suzie." Wynonna stuffed the flask back and looked at the game. The scoreboard was showing that Purgatory were down by 14 points. "Do they always lose?"

Nicole smirked. "Most of the time. They still have a chance to win this, though. We've got the final quarter to go."

Wynonna raised an eyebrow at a crunching tackle on a poor Purgatory dude. "Ouch." His teammates rushed over to push at the defender on the opposite team and a small fight broke out. The crowd was roaring at some interesting action, including Wynonna, who raised her fist up and yelled, "fucking smash them!"

After much arm waving and whistle blowing, the referee broke it up. There was a small cheer from the crowd when the flattened kid sat back up and hobbled to the benches on the side of the pitch.

Nicole pointed down to the cheerleaders, situated on the running track that surrounded the main football field. "I don't think the players are the only ones we should be worrying about fighting each other."

The two opposing team's cheer squads were now close together, presumably exchanging some choice words that were hard to hear up in the bleachers. The game, resuming behind them, was forgotten, as a tall girl with dark hair stepped up into Waverly's personal space, and Wynonna leaped out of her seat.

Nicole leaned forward. "Shit. Should we do something? Why isn't a teacher stopping them?"

Wynonna growled out, "if that bitch touches one hair on Wave's head…" Then she was hopping over the seats in front, ignoring the complaints of the spectators she was bumping into. 

Sensing trouble, but being unable to resist it, Nicole followed Wynonna's path down to the field, letting out a few apologies as she went. 

Wynonna stalked over to the group with more purpose than Nicole had ever seen her possess. Uh oh.

Nicole lengthened her stride to stick behind Wynonna and felt her heart racing as she nodded to the cheerleaders she recognised.

Wynonna pushed her way towards the middle and Nicole finally caught sight of the battlefield.

The tall girl from the other squad was glaring down at Waverly. "Tell your uggo boys to keep their hands to themselves and we won't have a problem, you evil little shit."

Nicole sighed. She couldn't have picked a worse time to say that.

Wynonna broke through the shocked girls around them and shoved the girl back, sending her sprawling into her squad members like bowling pins. "What else do you have to say about my sister, huh?"

Then, it was a free-for-all.

Nicole was pushed this way and that as all the cheerleaders leaped at each other, much to a lot of the crowd's delight. 

The football game paused mid play as the boys stared at the carnage.

Nicole thudded into someone and looked down to see Chrissy, who simply said, "oh. Hey." Then she punched over Nicole's shoulder, hitting a girl who had been coming up behind her. 

Whistles and shouts were now breaking through the mêlée, but it showed no signs of slowing, only getting more frantic as anger soared.

They were driven to the right and Nicole's feet got caught up, sending her stumbling to the floor, scraping her knees and palms against the hard tarmac. She landed next to Waverly, who was holding her own against the girl who had previously got up in her face. 

From the floor Nicole received a kick in the back that had her wheezing before she was yanked up onto her feet by a bloody nosed Wynonna. "Get back in it, Haught!"

Nicole could only get out, "wha-" before she was propelled towards a girl who was pulling at Waverly's hair. Their bodies collided and Nicole instinctually wrestled the girl to the ground. Desperately, the girl's flailing limbs hit out, and a fist came up to smack against Nicole's face.


Warm, coppery liquid spilled into Nicole's mouth from her lip and she groaned, rolling away.

Go see a Football game they said. It will be fun, they said.

Nicole was pulled to her feet again and spat the blood out of her mouth, some dribbling down her chin, her ears ringing but just making out Wynonna shouting, "nice one, Red!" Over her shoulder.

The world was spinning, a blurred kaleidoscope of night sky, bright Football field lights, whirling arms, whipping hair, and pain. Nicole stumbled, no longer feeling a grab on the back of her jacket to steady her. 

She grasped at a nearby shoulder and saw Waverly's shocked face turn to her. "Nicole! Oh, God. She's bleeding. Wynonna- help me!" And then Nicole was being guided away, Waverly's hand under her elbow. 

Her knees shook and she let herself sit heavily on the running track once she'd been dragged further to the side by the Earps. She closed her eyes.

"Fuck," Wynonna cursed. "Is she OK?"

"Nicole, open your eyes." There was a soft hand pressed against her cheek and Nicole fluttered her eyes open to take in a blurry Waverly Earp's concerned gaze. OK, maybe being smacked in the chops wasn't all that bad.

"Hey Waverly. I fink I lost my contacts…" Her voice was muffled by her bloody lip but there was a definite relief that came over Waverly's face.

Then their moment was broken by others gathering around, and Wynonna pushing into her hazy gaze. "She's not dead then?"

Nicole tried her best glare. "No fanks to you."

Waverly grinned. "I think she's OK."

Nicole spotted Champ smirking at her behind Waverly. "Not looking so good now, huh?" He had removed his football helmet, but Nicole wished she couldn't see his smug face.

Before Nicole could stick her middle finger up at him Waverly had reeled round and smacked his arm. "This happened protecting me !"

Champ at least had the grace to look sheepish. "Oh. Uh, sorry." He swallowed under her glare before stepping closer. "I'll take her to the nurse."

Nicole pushed herself up, much to Waverly's annoyance. "I can do it myself," she let out between gritted teeth.

Wynonna pushed everyone aside. "I've got this." She placed Nicole's arm over her shoulder. "Oh shit, she's heavier than I thought…"

Nicole got her sore legs moving with Wynonna's help, but grunted out a defence. "It's all muscle."

"I'll give you a hand." Waverly stood up and wedged herself under Nicole's other arm, gradually moving her away from the main scene.

The team coaches, referee and a couple of teachers were rounding up all the injured kids to head to the nurse whilst they discussed what to do about the game.

Nicole was too busy looking at the stars. Oh, and Waverly Earp, who was very close. "You smell good," she told her, honestly.

Waverly blushed in the soft glow of the schoolground lamplights. "Uh. Thanks."

Wynonna huffed. "You think you can get away with flirting with my sister just 'cause you got hit in the head?"

Nicole blinked at her. "You're just jealous. You don't smell good." Waverly giggled and Nicole felt her heart fumble in her ribcage. 

They approached the nurse’s office, which was only open after school due to the game being on, and saw a queue had already formed.

Nicole was guided into a crappy plastic chair and she leaned back, lazily pushing her hair out of her eyes, before trying to remove her left contact. She'd realised that her vision problems had stemmed from her right contact being knocked out, causing the blurriness and adding to her general confusion.

Wynonna had stalked off to presumably bully the nurse into seeing Nicole first, but Waverly was perched on her left, looking very perturbed at her poking her own eye. "Nicole, what are you doing?"

"Just." She managed to get the little bastard out and smiled. Ouch. That did nothing to help her torn up lip. "Just removing my contact." She rooted around in her jacket pocket and grabbed the, thankfully strong, glasses case.

"Oh." Waverly smiled back at her. "I kind of forgot you wore glasses."

"My old ones were super dorky. These are newer, but still kinda dorky, so I prefer not to wear them." She grabbed the round, golden wire framed glasses, very like her father's now she thought about it, and put them on. The corridor came back into high definition and she breathed a sigh of relief. Most likely she hadn't gotten any brain damage then. She'd class that as a win.

Waverly looked at her with wide eyes, gaze going over her glasses then lower, to her mouth. Probably to assess the damage.

"Is it bad?" Nicole asked.


"My lips." Nicole grimaced then pulled a mock horrified face. "Will I ever use them again?"

Waverly blushed. "Oh. It doesn't look too bad. I'm sure you'll be kissing again in no time."

Nicole raised an eyebrow. "That's what I use them for, huh?"

"W-well I wouldn't know what you use yours for…"

"Nicole Haught?" The nurse called out into the hall and Nicole stood up, relishing in the sighs of those still waiting.

After the game, and subsequent clean-up, Nicole drove them to Shorty's Bar and Diner, and they managed to wrangle some free fries out of him. Apparently, he'd always had a soft spot for the Earp girls and Nicole looked particularly pathetic with her bust up lip, hardly hidden behind an ice pack she kept against her face. 

There was a large section of the diner area taken up by Purgatory High students as it was tradition to visit Shorty's after a home game. Nicole tried to slump down in their corner booth, hoping to avoid the shame of people seeing her fucked up after stupidly getting into another fight.

Wynonna, after pouring the remainder of her hip flask's contents into her cola, frowned at her. "You should wear a war wound with pride, Haught-Shot."

Nicole glared before stuffing more fries into the side of her mouth that wasn't numb from cold. "It's stupid. Plus, it didn't even need stitches so now everyone thinks I look like a massive baby."

"Ha! No, they don't," Wynonna argued. "There was a lot of blood. Plus, they think you're a hero for saving my darling sister."

"I didn't even 'save' her." Nicole glanced at Waverly who was enjoying a strawberry milkshake. "She was doing fine on her own."

Waverly gave her a smile. "Whilst I appreciate that, you did tackle her to the floor before she ripped any of my amazing hair out, so we defo owe you one."

Wynonna folded her arms. "I swear if I ever see that bitch again, I'll give her the Haught special." She mimed headbutting someone and Nicole rolled her eyes. 

"No, you won't," Waverly warned. "The whole of the Cheer squad is in so much trouble and it's on my head since I'm captain. I can't slip up like this again."

Wynonna paused for a second before sharing a smile. "Still, it was kind of funny though, right? When she looked so shocked after I pushed her!"

"She did deserve it," Waverly admitted, sharing a smile with her sister.

Wynonna spotted some people walking past and shouted up. "Hey- Chrissy. Come look at Nicole's injury."

Nicole and Waverly both glared at Wynonna for drawing attention to the table, but Chrissy turned to them and walked over.

"Hey guys." She gave them a smile then pointed to some space in the booth next to Nicole. "Can I sit here?"

Nicole attempted a smile that turned into a sore grimace but nodded. "Be my guest." She patently ignored Wynonna winking at her across the table.

Chrissy sat down, close to Nicole. "Are you OK?"

Nicole nodded, moving the ice pack away from her wound. "Take a look if you want. It's not that bad. Apparently, for all the blood, it didn't need any stitches. Might scar a little though."

Chrissy hummed and moved closer, lifting her hand out to gently move Nicole's chin to face her. Nicole focused on blue eyes but could almost feel Wynonna vibrating with excitement across the table.

"Looks painful." Chrissy winced.

Nicole swallowed a lump in her throat as Chrissy's thumb brushed her chin when her hand dropped. "Yeah," she managed to get out.

They were startled by Waverly placing her empty milkshake glass loudly on the table. "I'm just going to the restroom." She stood up from the table and Nicole locked eyes with Wynonna who shrugged.

Chrissy frowned. "I'm going to see if she's OK. I think she's still rattled after the fight." She gave Nicole's hand a quick squeeze. "I'll see you later, yeah?"


Chrissy stepped to follow Waverly but looked back over her shoulder. "Those glasses look really cute on you by the way."

Nicole felt her face flush. "Thanks."

Wynonna laughed at her long after Chrissy was out of sight. "Even when you're that awkward you're somehow still a chick magnet. What the fuck?" 

"Jeez thanks, Wynonna. I'm trying to be confident, OK? It's one step at a time."

Wynonna grabbed the rest of Nicole's fries. "More like one step forward; two steps back."

Chapter Text

Nicole's accidental mowing business had the discourtesy to give her weekend plans. At least it kept her busy not thinking about the fight or her healing lip- it wasn't too bad, just some soreness, and it would leave a small scar. Still, she was hoping the school hadn't thought to contact her parents since they'd never forgive her for ruining wine tasting in the South of France for them.

By Saturday afternoon she'd already done a handful of lawns, and she grabbed some ice cream from the store and drove over to the gym to pick Wynonna up. She'd been 'sparring' with Dolls, though it was unclear how much actual gym appropriate working out had been done from the smug grin on Wynonna's face.

Wynonna dropped in the passenger seat, looking over her 'work' clothes. "Ew. Shouldn't you wash off all the grass stains before getting in the car?"

Nicole gave her a glare before pulling off the curb. "It's my car. My rules."

"Alright, alright!" Wynonna held her hands up before grabbing the tub of ice cream and opening it up. "What crawled up your ass?"

"Wynonna don't eat that with your hands!" Nicole tried to slap the tub out of her grip but only succeeded in swerving her car to the right.  

"Whooooo!" Wynonna waved a hand out of the window. "Do it again!"

Nicole focused on the road. "Remind me why I'm picking you up from a gym hook-up? 

"Because you owe me?"

"For what?"

"The sage advice I'm about to give you."

The car turned onto their road, and Nicole could see Waverly and a group of her friends on the drive by an expensive looking convertible. "Go on then, hit me with your wisdom."

"You need to take initiative and bang Chrissy already."

Nicole stamped on the break and they jolted forward in their seats. "Wynonna!"

"Ouch. What's the problem? I've heard her talking to Waverly, she just wants something casual so why not?"

Maybe it was time to be honest. Or, at least, closer to honest. Nicole avoided her gaze and pulled into her drive. "I have feelings for someone else," she uttered, turning off the engine and leaning back in her seat. 

"So?" Wynonna let out a single laugh. "Don't we all?" She waited, but when no response came, she continued with a softer tone. "If you really aren't ready to move on from Shae just say the word and I'll drop it. No more mentions of getting you laid at all." She let Wynonna presume it was about Shae rather than Waverly. She liked not being on Wynonna's shitlist thank you very much. "I can be chill about it if that's what you want."

She had the feeling Wynonna genuinely wanted to help in her own kinda fucked up way, and maybe she was right. What was the point in holding on to something happening between her and Waverly? She looked in her mirrors and saw Waverly flirting with Champ by his car.

Was Nicole going to spend her whole life hung up over someone who is clearly not interested? She'd thrown herself in too deep too fast with Shae and got burned, but that didn't mean she had to completely give up on romance. Or, more accurately, lust, right?

Mind made up, she gave a small smile to Wynonna. "Actually, I don't mind that much." She looked at the steering wheel as she tightened her knuckles around it. "When I was younger, I was worried I'd never make friends at school who were OK with me being gay. You're maybe a bit too OK with it at times but I still appreciate it."

Wynonna held out her pinky finger. "Sluts together?"

Nicole laughed and linked their pinky fingers. "Friends who look out for each other."

"You had to make it gay, huh?" Wynonna teased.

Nicole grabbed the ice cream and shoved Wynonna in the arm. "I sure did! Are you coming in to share this or what?"

They slouched on Nicole's sofa, having demolished the tub of ice cream, and were watching one of the stupid shopping channels. 

Wynonna waved a hand in front of her, gesturing to the model showing off a bracelet on the TV. "Don't you think I could be a hand model?"

"Yeah. You should drop out of school and move to LA."

"No one would laugh at me then! A big-time hand model…" 

Nicole put her feet up on the coffee table. "What do you even put on your CV after that? 'I did a hand job'?" She descended into laughter.

"That would get you all the jobs."  Wynonna laughed it off before turning to Nicole. "Speaking of jobs, how's your mowing business thingy going anyway?"

"Let's see." Nicole counted on her fingers. "I did a couple earlier including the Baker's and, before you ask, Samantha wasn't even there just her Mom, who is also hot, fyi. I've got Sheriff Nedley booked in tomorrow…"

"I'm not gonna say anything." Wynonna cut in with a pained look.

"By saying that you are saying something," Nicole deadpanned. "I will update you if anything happens with me and Chrissy, OK?"

"Cool beans. So, tell me more about Samantha Baker's Mom, is it like a 'Stacey's Mom' situation?"

"Oh, absolutely."

It was surprising how long the sunny weather had managed to keep up for September. It was the Summer’s last hurrah before what would undoubtedly be a freezing Winter. 

Nicole knocked on the Nedley’s front door and stepped back, fingers nervously twisting together as she waited.

It wasn’t long before she heard the thud of someone approaching the door and Mr Nedley swung it open with his usual grim determination that he set to every task.

"Good afternoon, sir."

"Afternoon, Nicole." He held the door open. "You're early. I like that."

She ducked her head and stepped into the entrance of the house, curiously taking in a small mirror and worn stairs. Pictures of the family were framed on the wall going upstairs. A woman who looked very much like an older Chrissy was in some of the earlier ones.

Nedley led her past a cosy living room and into a kitchen diner which faced the back garden through open glass doors.

"I've not found time to get around to mowing the last couple of months," Nedley commented as they looked out at the long grass. "Did you want a drink or anything?"

"Do you have any whiskey?"

There was a lengthy pause in which Nedley's eyes widened.

Nicole smiled at him. "I was joking. I'll just get to work if that's OK?"

He seemed to have recovered his powers of the speech by then and gave her a small flicker of a smile, covered mostly by his bushy moustache. "Yes. The mower's in the shed." He stepped out onto the small patio area and sent a look to his right.

Nicole followed his gaze and swallowed when she saw Chrissy lying back in a hammock wearing a pair of cut off Jean shorts, a bikini top and sunglasses.

Nedley placed his hands on his hips. "Christine. I thought you were coming inside. We have company."

Chrissy gave them a grin. "I'm sure she doesn't mind." She took off her sunglasses and, as casually as anything, said, "Hi, Nicole."

Nicole managed to stutter out a "hi" back before she was following Nedley to a shed at the bottom of the garden that looked to be holding itself up through sheer force of will. He unlocked the door and rolled out an old sit-on mower that would hopefully make Nicole's job easier than her usual evil mower. 

She gave it a quick inspection. "Looks like a good piece of kit you've got here."

Nedley nodded. "Yes, it's only been used a handful of times as you can probably tell." He gestured to the overgrown lawn.

Nicole laughed. "I'll get it sorted out."

"Good. I'll leave you to it." Nedley looked back over at his daughter, who had returned to tanning whilst flicking through a magazine. "If she's bothering you just let me know or tell her to move."

Nicole felt her face warm. "It's no bother, sir."

He nodded. "OK, I'm going into the station in," he looked at his watch, "Five minutes. Chrissy can let you out if I'm not back."

"Sure. Cool." She turned her attention back to the mower as he strode across the garden and inside. 

Nicole drove the mower to the edge of the grass and started her work.

Except, this time she didn't sit and enjoy the usually mind-numbing repetitiveness of manual labour. She didn't let her mind wander to various topics that she often didn't find time for in her busy schedule. Her eyes were too busy wandering across the green to Chrissy's legs; long and completely on show all the way up to her mid-thigh. One was stuck over the edge of the hammock, tips of her toes brushing the ground and gently rocking her side to side.

She could feel a miniature Wynonna with red horns sat on her shoulder, cackling away at her.

The mower was slightly off course when Nicole shook her head and turned back to her task. When focused, she was making light work of the grass with a mower that didn't cut out randomly or make a terrifying screeching sound. It was just harder to be fully focused as she got further across from the far side, closer to the house and the hammock. 

Chrissy paused reading her magazine, instead laying it across her exposed midriff, and leisurely pulling her hair up into a ponytail. Nicole’s eyes were drawn to the lines of her neck, and she wondered if, through the sunglasses, Chrissy’s eyes were on her too.

Nicole stopped the mower.

A quiet fell on the garden before Nicole broke it. “Wanna come and give me a hand?"

Chrissy tilted her sunglasses low on her nose, smiled, then put her magazine and sunglasses to the side. "Sure." She stood up from the hammock. "How can I help?"

Nicole felt her mouth dry as Chrissy walked towards her. She cleared her throat and shuffled back, leaving a space in front of her. "Take a seat."

Chrissy slipped onto the mower seat, occupying the space between Nicole's legs as she shuffled back. "What's next?"

Nicole's head felt light, and she lifted her hands up to point to the controls. "So, this here's the brake, there's the accelerator, oh, and you need to click this to engage the blades…"

"Mhmm." Chrissy nodded along with her.

"Shall we get the job finished, then?" Nicole asked as she flicked the mower back on.

"Yeah. I've got this." Chrissy grabbed the wheel and set them off at a speed Nicole hadn't been aware lawnmowers were capable of.

Nicole grabbed onto Chrissy's middle out of a genuine worry for her safety. "Shit. If you crash this thing your Dad will kill me!"

Chrissy replied, "it's fine!" Before turning sharply and almost tipping them over. Nicole let out what could only be described as a girlish scream before the mower slowed and Chrissy pulled it to a stop, laughing the whole way.

Nicole couldn't help laughing along with her in a mix of sheer relief and happiness. Maybe it had been a bit fun.

She lifted her right hand off Chrissy's hip and pointed at the grass, which hadn't been cut since Chrissy hadn't engaged the blades before setting off. "I'm not sure about your mowing technique."

Chrissy turned in the seat, a smile on her face and a flush on her cheeks. "You've got issues with my technique, huh?" Her eyes flitted between Nicole's gaze and lower, to her mouth.

Nicole smirked, leaning closer. "Maybe I do…"

They were startled when steps sounded on the patio and Nicole looked up to lock eyes with Waverly, who immediately blushed and looked away. "Sorry! I'm sorry guys. I didn't realise- the door was open, and I know I'm early. I'm sorry. Did I interrupt?"

Chrissy let out a laugh and stepped off the mower. "Yep. It's okay, Wave."

Nicole was too busy feeling supremely awkward to say anything, so she wiped her sweaty hands on her plaid shirt and stood up too.

"I'm really sorry." Waverly stayed on the patio as Chrissy walked up to her. "I've got the stuff for our project."

"Great. We can get started soon then."

Waverly's gaze moved back over to Nicole, who was pretending to be busy checking over the mower. "I can come back later if-"

"Don't be silly. You're here now." Chrissy waved off Waverly's protests then called over to Nicole. "Hey, Nic? Can you come here a sec?"

Nicole checked the brake was on properly and nodded, striding towards the two of them with what confidence she could feign. "Yes, ma'am. What's up?"

Chrissy pointed between Nicole and Waverly. "Can you two get over any awkwardness now, please?"

"Huh?" Nicole wondered aloud.

"What I mean is that Waverly has seen me kiss plenty of people before, so you don't need to feel weird about it, Nicole."

"Oh. Right." Nicole nodded and smiled at Waverly. "Ok."

"Yeah," Waverly agreed. "It's all fine. Cool beans."  

Chrissy looked at them for a moment before shrugging. "Wave- we can set up at the table." She headed inside and Waverly gave Nicole a small smile before joining her.

Nicole looked back at the grass, wondering what to make of the whole interaction. Was Waverly not OK with her and Chrissy having a fling? Was it because she was protective of her friend? Or was she uncomfortable seeing two girls kissing? 

Nicole let out a sigh and headed back to the lawnmower. All this thinking wasn't going to get the Nedley's lawn in shape.

She hated it when Wynonna was right, but Nicole had to admit she'd been correct about the school's reaction to her fight at the game. They saw her as some sort of hero who swooped in and saved Waverly from being attacked by a brutal Cheerleader. In reality she'd accidentally been dragged into the fight and literally thrown at Waverly's attacker by Wynonna but, who cared for the details?

Nicole had walked back into school on Monday but by the afternoon she had to admit it was more of a swagger. Even Champ had made amends with her, apologising, before thanking her for watching out for his 'girl'. Nicole had relished in watching him eat humble pie.

The first of three after-school detentions, for the 'Cheer moshpit', as Wynonna had dubbed it, found Nicole bored out of her mind. She'd even take a History class over this.

All the Purgatory High Cheerleaders, Nicole, Wynonna, and a couple of members of the Football team, who had been involved in the on-field fight, were crammed into the English classroom. The teacher, Mr Sharpe, was grading papers whilst they were left to write an essay about the reasons why 'physical altercations' were 'not an acceptable method of resolving conflict'. 

Nicole looked up from her hastily scribbled few lines to see Waverly, on her left, already a page into hers. Wynonna, at the desk in front of her, was ripping her blank paper into bits.

Nicole looked at the clock tick-tocking away in a mocking tone above them.  Still half an hour to go. Yay.

Wynonna leaned back in her chair then put her hand up in the air. The other students looked at her, wondering what trick she was trying to pull.

Eventually, the teacher looked up from his test papers. "Yes, Miss Earp?"

"Can we go, Sir?"

The students let out a laugh and even Mr Sharpe smiled before replying. "Whilst I admire your gall, you are here until 5pm."

"Can we at least do something that isn't as boring as this essay?" Wynonna whined.

"Detention isn't supposed to be fun, Earp."

At that Wynonna just huffed and lay her head on her hands, probably trying to nap at the desk. Nicole had tried that before. It wasn't comfortable.

Nicole crossed out half of her work and sighed, looking to her right to see Chrissy drawing a cartoon style cat in the margins of her lined paper. Nicole ripped off a chunk of paper from her notebook and wrote out a message.

you busy tonight?

She folded it up, checked that Mr Sharpe was focused on his work, and passed it onto Chrissy's desk.

She felt eyes on her but pretended to be writing her pointless essay until the paper appeared on the edge of her desk. She unfolded it and saw Chrissy's loopy handwriting.

pick me up around 9?

Nicole smirked, ignored Wynonna giving her a thumbs up, and pocketed the paper. So, this was a thing now.

Chapter Text

Monday evening found Nicole stuffing all her clothes into drawers when the doorbell rang. She'd only been back from detention for an hour or so, making her wonder who was calling at this time.

She ran down the stairs, pulling open the door to see Waverly, carrying a lot of books. "Waverly… hi?"

"You forgot, didn't you?"

Oh. Monday's were History tutor days now. "No," she lied. "I'm prepared as always for learning. Come in." She opened the door.

Waverly gave her a raised eyebrow but stepped into the foyer. "Smells good."

"Oh shit! I forgot. Hang on-" Nicole sprinted towards the kitchen, almost sliding all the way past the door due to her socks on the laminate floor.

She rushed over to the stove and stirred her pasta sauce, sighing in relief when it wasn't stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Waverly popped her head into the kitchen. "I didn't know you could cook."

"Sort of. I mean, it's probably edible." She shrugged and grabbed the pasta, draining it over the sink. "Did you want any? I've made too much as usual. I swear pasta multiplies in the pan."

"It's it vegetarian?" Waverly asked, walking into the kitchen and standing close.

Nicole’s ability to form proper words drifted away from her for a moment as she breathed in the scent of Waverly’s perfume. She smelt like flowers, and the soft morning dew that clung to grass in the spring, and pure sunshine. Not that it made any sense to think that. Sense was always in short supply for Nicole when Waverly was this close.  "Uh- yeah. Accidentally. I forgot to add some chorizo so it's a tomato veggie sauce. I didn't know you were a vegetarian?"

"Well, I'm aiming to go vegan, but one step at a time." She gave Nicole a smile that crinkled her eyes in the best way. "Plus, I think Aunty Gus would kill me having to worry about dairy as well as meat."

Nicole grabbed two pasta bowls from the cupboard. "So, you'll have some?"

"Sure. You're not actually an awful cook though, right?"

"No way," Nicole assured her as she split the pasta into two portions. "Head Chef Haught doesn't disappoint." Great. Now she'd look like an idiot if it tasted awful. She doled out sauce in both bowls and grabbed some cutlery. 

They sat at the table eating pasta and chatting about normal things: school, the Football game fight, music, their favourite desserts, but it was delightful. Waverly Earp was delightful. If this was what it meant to have Waverly as a friend then Nicole would hold on tight, despite wanting, craving more than friends as she did.

Waverly giggled at one of Nicole's scathing reviews of one of the desserts she'd tried on a trip visiting her Dad's English side of the family. "I didn't realise you had relatives across the Atlantic," Waverly mused.

"Distant, but, still, the Haught's have plenty of history in England."

"A fantastic segue that brings us to what we should be doing now…" Waverly held up some cute finger guns towards the books she'd carried in.

"Finding some dessert in my Mom's not-so-secret treat cupboard?"

"No! Learning History."

"Right. That." Nicole reluctantly tore her gaze away from Waverly’s smile and focused on the history questions in front of her.

It was later, when Waverly was packing up her books, that Nicole realised she'd done none of the cleaning up she'd planned to do. She checked her watch. "Ah, shit."

Waverly frowned at her. "Are you OK, Nicole?"

"Yeah. All good." She grabbed the trash off the dining table and stood up. "You want me to walk you home?"

Waverly smiled. "I think I'll be fine. It's only across the road."

"Alright." Nicole walked her to the door and held it open. "See you tomorrow?"

Waverly, framed by the glow of the porch light, turned back with a twinkle in her eye that had Nicole's knees feeling unstable. "See you tomorrow, Nicole."

Nicole stood, in her open doorway, as Waverly crossed the street and entered the McCready house, turning back to give a small wave.

Nicole closed her door and leaned back against it. There was just something indescribable, intangible, about being close to Waverly Earp. Did she affect everyone the same? Nicole tried in her mind to grasp what it was. A spark? No, too clichéd. She was drawn to Waverly like she was cold water on a hot day. Yet, when they were close, she realised she'd slipped into a current, pulling her ever closer no matter how hard she tried to break free, the worry of being too obvious eating her up. When Waverly looked at her a certain way, or said her name, or touched her arm, Nicole didn't even want to escape the pull that kept her there.

She shook her head.

Waverly wasn’t, isn’t interested.

Nicole thundered upstairs and turned on her angsty playlist to listen to whilst hurriedly finishing up cleaning her room.

It was two minutes past nine when Nicole pulled up outside the Nedley house, wondering whether she should knock on the door or just wait until Chrissy spotted her. She could imagine how it would go down. She'd smile at Sheriff Nedley and say 'oh hello. I'm here to pick up your daughter for a booty call I invited her to during detention'. Yes. That would go perfectly.

Thankfully, she spotted movement and saw Chrissy coming out of the house, striding towards the car like they did this on the regular. 

Nicole placed one hand on the wheel and attempted to look as casual as possible. "Hey," she greeted when Chrissy opened the passenger side.

"Hey." Chrissy gave her a mischievous smile and slid into the seat. "Are we going to yours?"

"Uh- yeah if that's good with you?" Nicole started the car after the click of the buckle.

"Sounds good to me." 

Nicole’s eyes flicked between the road and Chrissy as she drove, lingering on a slender hand tucking hair behind an ear. 

Whatever feelings she had for Waverly- painful, frustratingly intense feelings as they were- Nicole still wanted to explore this chemistry with Chrissy. She could spend her days wanting, waiting, and aching to be in Champ’s place, or she could suck it up and try out the Wynonna method. Confident. Casual. Cool.

Nicole parked her car on the drive and kept her eyes away from the light spilling between the curtains in Waverly’s room across the street. Instead her gaze met the blue eyes across from her.

“Can we- um.” Nicole shut off the engine. “Can we talk about something first?”

“Of course.” Chrissy unbuckled her seatbelt and Nicole mirrored her action. “You know we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, right?” She turned in the passenger seat.

Nicole put on her most charming smile. “I’m not having second thoughts if that’s what you think this is about.” She scratched at the back of her neck. “Are you? OK with this I mean.”

“Yes.” Chrissy matched her smile. “I’ve actually been wanting this for a while so…” she trailed off with a colour to her cheeks. That was a nice ego boost. Chrissy cleared her throat. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

Nicole snapped out of looking smug, “Right. Yeah. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page about stuff. I don’t want a relationship or anything serious at the minute- are you good with that?”

“Yeah.” Chrissy’s gaze moved lower, to Nicole's lips, then flicked back up to her eyes. “I don’t want anything serious either. Casual, or one-time if you want.”

Nicole's mouth felt dry and she licked her lips, gave a grin. "That's all I needed to hear." She stepped out of the car and held the passenger side door open for Chrissy, barely registering her movements as she locked the car and entered the house.

Nicole pointedly avoided looking at Wynonna as she drove them to school. She could make out the eyebrow wiggling in her periphery, but she wasn't going to engage in what she knew would be an embarrassing, far too detail-oriented discussion about the previous evening.

Waverly leaned into the gap between the front seats. "Are you OK, Nicole? You're very quiet today."

Nicole breathed in Waverly's perfume and felt a lance of guilt stab through her stomach. How did she feel guilty about this? Stupid brain. "Uh yeah. I'm fine thanks, just a bit tired is all."

Waverly's concerned look did nothing for Nicole's churning stomach. "Oh, did you have trouble sleeping last night?" Huh. From the genuine question Nicole gathered that Chrissy must've not told Waverly anything yet.

Wynonna snickered. "You could say that…"

Nicole shot Wynonna a warning glare. "I just woke up early and couldn't sleep so I got up."

Wynonna rolled her eyes. "Please don't tell me you're one of those boring people that don't kiss and tell."

Waverly's face flickered with recognition and she sat back in her seat.

Wynonna continued, seemingly ignorant to her sister's reaction. "I want juicy details, Nic."

"You're not gonna get them." Nicole looked in her rear-view mirror to see Waverly quiet, arms folded but clearly listening to them.

"Where did you do it?" Wynonna, as usual, pressing. "Wait. Never mind. I don't need to ask that. You're the kind of boring person who just does it in bed."

Nicole did feel her poker face breaking slightly to lift one side of her mouth in a smirk.

That was enough for an overly dramatic gasp from Wynonna. "Haught, you absolute dog! Where ? The Sofa? Dining table? Kitchen counter?"

Nicole let out a short cough. Fuck. "I said I'm not going to answer you."

Wynonna nodded. "Kitchen counter. I get it. Then you moved upstairs, right? How many times did you do it?"

Nicole saw Waverly lean forward a little further and she tried so hard not to give anything away, but she couldn't help letting out, "Depends what you class as 'it'..."

Wynonna tilted her head to the side. "You've got a point there. Alright I'll be more specific. How many times did she cum?"

Waverly let out a low, strangled sort of noise from the back.

Nicole shook her head. "Wynonna, I'm not gonna answer that. Plus, you'd have to ask her anyway."

Wynonna held one hand out in front of her and began counting on her fingers. "Once?" There was a pause. "Didn't think so. Twice? Three times?" She did a double take where she was watching Nicole intently. "It was more than three times?"

Nicole felt her face heat up as she thought back to the previous evening. The making out had gotten heavy in the kitchen and it had just sort of happened the first time, the times in her bed after had been far more intentional. Her knuckles turned white where she gripped the steering wheel. 

Wynonna's eyes were wide. "Dude, no wonder you're tired. So, four times, right?"

Nicole, for the thousandth time in her life, wished she wasn't so easily read by Wynonna. Still, since she'd been made anyway. "Yeah, I know, pretty weak, but it was a school night so-"

Wynonna's laughter was raucous, and she hit Nicole on the arm. "Fucking hell, Haught."

Nicole tried not to look too smug as she drove up to school. Her eyes looked at the mirror and met Waverly's, who blushed and looked away. 

Wynonna hopped out of the car and left them with, "gives the 'Haught Special' a whole new meaning, huh?" She laughed all the way up to the doors.

Nicole rolled her eyes and stepped out, pulling the seat forward for Waverly. "Are you OK? If you're not comfortable I can add sex to the banned car conversation list?"

Waverly quickly snapped up her head from where she had been looking at Nicole's hand and let out a laugh. "No. It's fine. Me and Wynonna talk about that kind of stuff. We're sisters."

"Cool. I'll see you later?"

"Sure." Waverly gave her a small smile and walked away. Something felt off about her this morning, but Nicole couldn't figure out what.

By midweek there were rumblings around school about Nicole and Chrissy but, fortunately, the guidance counsellor hadn't heard of it yet. Nicole stood up from her usual seat in his office, her books awkwardly bulking up her backpack, but Nicole ignored the jab into her shoulder blade as she hurriedly left Mr Scott's office.

She did admit that talking through her feelings with someone objective was probably good for her but every time she saw him, she cringed. He'd been helpful back when she was a struggling, lonely freshman but honestly it was embarrassing how much he knew about her or, at least, who she was previously.

Nicole sped to her locker, wanting to avoid the rush once the classes were let out.

Oh lovely. Her locker now held another message. Her admirer was going to run out of space soon. Just under the previous message of 'Bitchface' was the new message 'Dyke'. "I mean, at least this one is more accurate," Nicole muttered under her breath. 

Didn't mean it hurt any less. 

It was probably just Stephanie, or some other sad homophobe with nothing better to spend their time doing.

She rooted through her locker and sighed when the bell let out a screech, followed by thunderous footsteps coming out of classes. 

Nicole closed her locker, crossed her arms and leaned back against it, deciding to wait for the rush to pass before finding somewhere quiet to eat her lunch. Maybe to also have a little cry. Just a little one. She'd earned that, right?

Jeremy spotted her as he made his way down the hall with Max. He frowned at the front of her locker, hardly concealed behind her, before he came over. “Hey.”

Nicole nodded, smile not quite reaching her eyes and she knew it. “Hey Jeremy.”

“Do you wanna come and sit with us in the science labs?”

Max nodded next to him and addressed Nicole. “I actually could do with some advice. I’m going to ask this girl out-”

“Dude.” Jeremy elbowed him. “Maybe not the time?”

Max’s eyes fell guiltily on Nicole’s defaced locker. “Oh. Sorry.” 

Nicole let out a genuine laugh at that. “It’s OK, I’d love to give you some advice, Max. I haven’t handed out any respect women juice yet today.” She ignored the stares as she followed two of the known dorkiest guys in school to the science labs.

There was quite the gathering when they arrived, many looked shocked at Nicole’s appearance, but Jeremy waved them off. It had Nicole suspicious that Jeremy had mentioned being her friend and most of them had probably not believed him until she materialised in front of them.

Nicole mustered enough confidence that she thought even Wynonna would be impressed, and she flopped down onto a stool next to Lily, who was intently filing notes into a massive binder. “Hi Lily.”

“Hi Nicole,” Lily replied without looking up from her alphabetised and colour coded notes?

Max manscaped in the stool opposite, his lanky limbs making him look ridiculous. “So, there’s this girl I’ve been speaking to in a couple of classes and I don’t know what to do about making my move, you know?”

Jeremy sighed and put his bag on the worktop. “I swear I hear more about this girl than anything else at the minute!”

Nicole ignored Jeremy’s frustration. “Ok, so you should ask her out if you’re this into her. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?”

Max blanched. “She says, ‘no you’re an ugly nerd’ and embarrasses me in front of the whole school?”

“Why would you be asking her in front of the whole school? Ask her confidently and not in front of other people, as that’s always a dick move, and if she says ‘no’ you at least tried.” Nicole ignored the voice in her head that told her she probably should have taken her own advice at some point.

“Rejection sucks though,” Max whined.

“Yeah, it does,” Nicole agreed. “But if you never risk rejection, you’re stopping yourself from having a chance.”

Lily huffed out a laugh. “You should’ve heard him last week talking like he had sooooo much experience.”

Max glared at her. “Lily, I do have lots of experience with girls.”

She didn’t look up from her note organising. “Really? Name five of their albums.”

Nicole and Jeremy laughed at them, but Max rolled his eyes. “I actually do though.”

Jeremy snorted. “I don’t think a handjob in the back of your Dad’s Prius counts as ‘lots of experience’.”

“I always thought my car might be a mood killer,” Nicole said, “But if you can get some action in a Prius, I guess we all have hope for car hook-ups in our futures.”

Chapter Text

By the end of the week everyone in Purgatory High knew about Nicole and Chrissy. Nicole couldn't blame them for spreading it really, a cheerleader and the outsider kid, who fights everyone, hooking up was peak gossip fuel. It also only raised Nicole's reputation to most (bar any homophobes of course), however, she hoped it wasn't affecting Chrissy negatively.

The cafeteria was extra busy for 'half-price fries Friday' so Nicole avoided it and found a spot to sit down not far from the football field, in a patch of shade created by the bleachers. She ate a packet of chips and flicked through the last act of Macbeth , hoping that actually reading the play might improve her English grade. In previous years she'd just googled the plot of whatever they were supposed to be reading. 

Her head perked up when she heard voices nearby. She wasn't spotted from her hidden patch in the shade as she watched two cheerleaders walk up to the bleachers. It looked to be Samantha and a redheaded girl she thought was called Darcy. Maybe. She was gonna go with Darcy.

Samantha sat down and sighed. "Do you really think it was my fault? I know Chrissy said she wanted to keep it quiet but, like, who cares?"

Darcy sat next to her, twirling a finger around the hair not held up in her ponytail. "Well I wouldn't want everyone knowing every time I slept with some random person."

"I guess you're right. Ugh. She didn't need to blow up on me though," Samantha sulked.

"Oh, she defo overreacted. Even Waverly didn't back her up." Darcy tilted her head to the side. "I totally thought Waves was gonna kick you off the team, but then she just sat back and didn't say anything."

"At this point I wouldn’t even mind. Far too much drama this year."

Darcy stood up and brushed off her skirt. "I know you live for the drama, bitch. Now let's go and see if Chad's done beating up those freshmen…"

They made their way down onto the track and away from Nicole, leaving a lot of questions in their wake.

She hadn't ruined a friendship, right?

It was nearing the end of lunch so Nicole packed everything into her bag and tried to figure out where the fuck she would find Chrissy or Waverly. She set off walking across the grass, avoiding the outside benches where all the stoner kids sat, and headed toward the gym block. That seemed a good bet. She was strolling down the path when someone came out of the girl’s locker room and slammed right into her in their haste.

Nicole held out her arms and steadied Chrissy, who looked mortified at running into someone. Her eyes, nose and cheeks were all red and she had a tissue scrunched in one hand. "Sorry- oh. Hi Nicole."

"Hey Chrissy, are you OK?" Again, what was with Nicole and asking crying girls the obvious? She was clearly not OK.

"Yeah. I'm fine," Chrissy managed to choke out as she blinked back tears.

Nicole glanced around. "Hey uh- come with me." She walked further down the path and around the corner of the building where they wouldn't easily be seen. She rooted around in her backpack and grabbed a pack of tissues. She held them out to Chrissy. "You want a fresh one?" 

"Thanks." Chrissy took a new tissue and dabbed at her eyes. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't have to be dealing with this on your lunch."

"You don't need to apologise," Nicole assured her. "Did you wanna talk about it?"

Chrissy looked at her for a moment, maybe weighing up whether it was appropriate to share with someone who was, at this point at least, a sort of friend slash one-night stand. "It's been a shitty morning, and then I had a fight with Samantha, and it felt like no one was on my side, you know? It just felt kind of lonely."

"I'm sorry." Nicole opened her arms and raised her eyebrows. "I've been told I give good hugs."

Chrissy let out a laugh and stepped closer. "You got the references for that?"

"I've got it on good confidence from Mr Snuggles."


"Oh- he's my teddy bear."

"Of course he is." Chrissy laughed and accepted the hug, wrapping her arms around Nicole's torso.

Nicole breathed in and was surrounded by Chrissy's scent. She wasn't sure what it was, maybe a coconut shampoo? Some lavender in there? It was comforting. She held her for a moment before stepping back. “Now, what do you need? Ice cream? A ride home?”

A small smile tugged at the corners of Chrissy’s lips. “Whilst I appreciate it,” she pointed to herself, “Sheriff’s Kid, remember? I can’t exactly skip school…”

“Alright.” Nicole nodded.

“Thanks for this, Nicole.” They shared a smile and Nicole couldn’t help thinking back to Monday night when they’d shared a lot more. Not the time, Haught.

Nicole cleared her throat. “Of course. No problem. Do you want me to walk you to your class?” Fuck. Why had she said that? That was a bit intense for their casual agreement, right? Nicole cursed her automatic responses to any upset girls. She was gonna have to get over this weird white knight complex at some point.

Chrissy took a moment to respond, probably thinking along similar lines. “I’m gonna be honest: I would like that. I don’t really want to be alone right now. Is that sad?”

“Suuuuper sad,” Nicole teased, eliciting an elbow in the ribs from Chrissy, “But seriously, I get it.” They started back onto the path towards the main school buildings. “Do you think you’ll be able to patch things up with your friends?”

"I don't know." Chrissy worried her lip as they approached the school doors. "I think I just need to apologise to Sam."

Nicole wasn't sure whether she should let on that she had an idea what they were fighting about. "Before we go in, I just want to ask- are you sure you're OK being seen with me? I know that basically everyone is gossiping about us."

Chrissy rolled her eyes. "Thanks to Sam's big mouth." She shrugged and opened the door. "Since everybody has heard about us, I don't see the point in worrying about it."

"Fair." Nicole murmured as she followed Chrissy into the hallway, and immediately noticed eyes on them. Fuck it. She shouldn't feel embarrassed about having a life. Nicole mustered up her best confident swagger and ignored the stares and whispers. It wasn't that bad. The hall was busy enough that some kids didn't notice them and continued their own conversations, but it was still disconcerting to think that people knew who she was and even talked about her. Nicole let out a short laugh. "You might have been able to fly under the radar better without me."

"Or I might have had to face all of this on my own," Chrissy countered. 

"True. What class have you got now?"

"I have English. I get to talk about the book you spoiled the ending of. Lucky me." 

"I'd say I was sorry…"

"But you're not." Chrissy grinned at her.

"Nope. It was worth it for the look on your face." They approached the classroom as the end of lunch bell sounded out and Nicole leaned against the wall next to the door. "So, I'll totally get it if you don't feel up to it anymore, but maybe I'll see you at my party thing tomorrow?"

"I'll see how I feel." Chrissy took in a deep breath and let it out. "Thanks again for this." She gave Nicole a grateful smile and stepped into her classroom.

Nicole was awoken by a hurried knocking on the door at 11:03am on Saturday. She rolled over, onto the floor, whilst yelling, "alright, alright! I'm coming!" Not that they would be able to hear from her bedroom. She grabbed a large hoodie and threw it over the old T-Shirt and boxer combo she was wearing to sleep in and ran down the stairs. 

The obnoxious knocking continued as she sprinted across the laminate and hit the door with a thud, unable to stop in time.

"Ugh," she let out, but unlatched the door and glared at the lie-in murderer. "What?"

Wynonna, looking far too happy to promise anything good, barged into the hall. "Good morning, Haught-Shot! Nice legs." She laughed and carried a bottle of whiskey through to the kitchen.

Nicole blushed as she realised Waverly was following her sister in, her eyes also flicking down to Nicole's hardly covered legs.

"Did we wake you?" Waverly asked as she stepped into the foyer. 

Nicole tugged the hoodie lower and ducked her head. "What gave it away? The clothes or the bed head?"

Waverly giggled. "Both. Sorry. I couldn't stop her. You know Wynonna."

"Can I ask why you guys are here this early?" Nicole closed the door and headed to the kitchen, Waverly just behind her.

Wynonna was rooting through the cupboards but heard Nicole's question. "We need to set things up, obviously!"

Nicole pushed herself up and sat on the counter Island, legs dangling as she tried to properly wake up. "Right. They're not coming for like another seven hours, 'Nonna."

Wynonna stood up straight and placed her hands on her hips. "I don't think you're treating this with the seriousness it deserves."

"I literally just woke up." Nicole wiped the sleep from her eyes.

Waverly pulled a piece of paper out of the pocket of her bomber jacket. "Don't worry: I wrote a list."

Nicole took the list from Waverly. "I don't have my glasses on." She squinted at the blurred writing.

"She's useless before her coffee," Wynonna huffed. "Waves, take Nicole through the list whilst she grabs her glasses and some pants. I'll make the coffee. We've got less than seven hours now."

Waverly grabbed Nicole's arm and guided her out of the kitchen. "Just do what she says. It's easier for everyone."

"What is she on?" Nicole grumbled, but followed Waverly up the stairs.

"Which one's your room?" Waverly asked.

"This one." Nicole led the way and tried to squash the screaming in the back of her brain that was saying 'Waverly Earp is about to be in your bedroom!' on a loop.

"Cool." Waverly followed her in and started reciting the list she'd written, her eyes occasionally floating away from the paper to take in aspects of Nicole's room. "Pre-Party Prep list. Number one: drinks. Number two: food."

Nicole nodded as she grabbed her glasses off her bedside table and hid Mr. snuggles under the duvet.

"Number three," Waverly paused, "what was that you hid?"

"Oh. Uh- nothing?" Nicole tried.

Waverly raised an eyebrow.

Nicole sighed and pulled her teddy bear out. "His name is Mr. Snuggles."

Waverly laughed and said, "cute."

Nicole didn't know if Waverly was talking about the bear or her. She cleared her throat and stuffed Mr. Snuggles back in her bed. "Yeah. So, party list thingy."

Waverly shrugged. "It's basic stuff." Her eyes travelled around the room. "I never knew you liked basketball. Huh." She moved her eyes from posters to the acoustic guitar in the corner. "You play guitar?"

Nicole stepped into some sweatpants. "Barely."

"Your bed's big," Waverly commented before flushing after realising what she'd said. 

"Gotta have room to starfish." Nicole sat on her bed before rolling onto her back, hands behind her head. "Give me an hour and I'll be ready."

Waverly’s eyes flicked to the sliver of stomach skin on show between Nicole’s hoodie and the waistband of her sweatpants before moving up again. "Ha. You know it's Wynonna's birthday, right?"

Nicole shot up into a sitting position. "What? It's Wynonna's birthday? Why didn't she tell me?"

"She doesn't like people to know." Waverly perched on the edge of the bed. "Don't tell her I told you, but I thought you should know since we're basically having her party at your house."

"Well that explains why she's so excited about it." Nicole pushed her glasses up. "Do I need to get her anything?"

"No. Just help me make it a fun day for her?"

"Sure." Nicole gave Waverly a smile and laughed when she heard Wynonna shout up at them to get their asses back to work.

The sun was lowering in the sky, painting the heavens in pink, purple, and orange hues, and giving the air a crispness that was typical of fall in Purgatory. Nicole flipped over the food on the grill and nodded her head in time to the chill music that drifted out of her speakers, surrounding the firepit and patio area in her back garden with a casual vibe that matched the evening.

Wynonna had been banned from coming near the BBQ after her fifth shot, and Nicole couldn’t help grinning and shaking her head as she watched Wynonna talking animatedly to a very worried looking Garrett.

“I think you may have pulled off the impossible,” Jeremy noted as he approached Nicole.

“Huh?” Nicole filled his plate with more of the vegetarian food he’d been mindful to bring when he stepped close enough.

“A true mixing of the different social circles at Purgatory High.” Jeremy held a hand out at the garden, pointing out the varied group that were sprawled out on lawn chairs chatting, drinking and laughing. Nicole followed his gesture and took in the scene, frowning when she noticed Chrissy sitting off to the side speaking in low tones with another cheerleader. It seemed that there was still some tension with her friends.

“I think it says more about people’s reactions to free food and booze than anything special I did.”

“Don’t undermine what you’ve achieved today. I mean, a cheerleader is talking to Max!” Jeremy looked across at the edge of the firepit where Max, blushing heavily, was nodding along to a drunk Samantha Baker.

Nicole raised her eyebrows. “You’ve got a point.” She smirked when her eyes caught another group. “What about you, Jer? Why don’t you go and talk to Robin?” She nodded her head at Robin, Dolls and a girl who didn’t go to their school called Eliza who Dolls knew from somewhere.

“I- uh. Well. I mean, I could , but I’m just really enjoying this vegan potato salad Waverly made so-”

“Dude. This is gonna be one of your best chances to ask him out.”

“Ugh. You’re right.” Jeremy took a few deep breaths before placing his plate on the table nearby. “I’ve got this. I can do this.” He made a beeline towards Robin before letting out a strange squeaking noise, stopping in his tracks and heading inside instead. Of course, he’d bottled it. Well, Nicole mused, the night was still young.

Nicole took a long swig of beer and tried to ignore the craving she was feeling for a cigarette. It was always so satisfying when drinking. Instead she focused on the food, flipping a couple of burgers and turning some skewers.

“You’re really channelling your inner BBQ Dad, huh?” Waverly, wearing a cute summer dress she’d changed into sometime after their pre-party prep, gave Nicole a beautiful, not super sober, smile that twinkled in her eyes.

“One of my many alter egos,” Nicole replied.

“Impressive.” Waverly chewed on her bottom lip for a moment before shuffling closer, looking up at Nicole through her eyelashes.

Nicole swallowed; her throat suddenly dry. “Uh- you OK there?”

“Yes. I was wondering…” Waverly was close now. So close Nicole breathed in her perfume and felt her palms sweat where she was clutching the cooking utensils. “Could we set up a game of ‘seven minutes in heaven’?” Waverly asked.

Nicole wondered if it was possible for anyone to deny Waverly Earp something she wanted. “Sure. You’ll have to convince people, though.” Nicole pointedly avoided Waverly’s eyes. “I’m not sure I’ve drunk enough for that yet.”

“You’ll have to catch up with the rest of us, then!” Waverly placed a soft hand on Nicole’s forearm, bare where she’d rolled up her plaid shirt sleeves, and smiled. “What do you fancy?” Here Nicole barely restrained herself from saying ‘you’, but Waverly carried on. “Whiskey? Vodka? No! Tequila!” Her fingers traced a pattern on Nicole’s arm. It was hard to concentrate whenever Waverly was nearby but being touched by her was on another level. 

“Tequila’s fine,” Nicole barely managed to choke out. She was warm all over. The intimate familiarity of Waverly’s touch, so freely given, was everything. The world around Nicole could’ve been burning for all she knew or cared. 

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Waverly gave her a sweet little squeak of excitement before rushing off, presumably to find said Tequila, and Nicole stood frozen in place reminding herself that she was cool now, confident.

Nicole closed her eyes for a second then opened them and started packing up the grill and food for the evening. If she was going to be moving onto Tequila, it was best to avoid food preparation.

She was cleaning off the table when Waverly appeared back outside with a tray covered in Tequila shots, lime slices and saltshakers. Before Nicole could question her, she was yelling across the garden that it was ‘shot time’ and the majority of guests were pooling over to the patio to join them.

Somewhere after her third Tequila shot, Nicole had been chivvied by Waverly into organising a game of seven minutes in heaven. It had taken her a long time to figure out just how to make it work, but for Waverly, of course she’d found a way.

The group who had agreed to play were gathered in the kitchen, some sat on or leaned against the counters, others sat on the breakfast bar stools. Nicole had asked Waverly if the cramped pantry would serve as an acceptable place for the game and, after Wynonna had taken several minutes to get over how ‘fancy-ass’ the Haught’s were for having a pantry, it had been deemed adequate.

They placed an empty glass beer bottle on the central island counter and Wynonna shouted a lot louder than was necessary for the room, “Listen up, sluts! Here’s the rules: No take backs. It lands on who it lands on and that is who you go into the super fancy food cupboard with, OK? Once you’re in there, we start the timer. If you need to tap out, ‘cause you’re a fucking chicken, do this special knock on the door and we will let you out.” She did a quick knock on the countertop. “I, personally, don’t care what you get up to in there, kissing, talking, whatever. But,” here she held a hand up to emphasize her point, “make sure it’s all consensual, alright? Kosher make-outs only!”

There were shouts and agreements from those in the kitchen and Wynonna let out a whoop and began the game, spinning the bottle around with an aggressive flick of her wrist. She cackled when it landed on Max, who immediately flushed all the way up his neck and ears. “Oh, I’m gonna teach you a thing or two, boy.” She beckoned him into the dark pantry and Lily, who, instead of playing, had volunteered herself for ‘door duty’ which involved the timing and listening for tap outs, closed the door behind them.

Nicole cast her eyes around the wonky circle they’d created in the kitchen. There was a definite majority of girls over boys, something that had Jeremy awkwardly fidgeting next to her, but Nicole was thankful for.

They played a few rounds, those not selected continued drinking, and at one point playing an intense game of snap with a pack of cards whilst they waited. The alcohol coursing through Nicole’s bloodstream had her not worrying too much each time someone new stepped up to spin the bottle. Wynonna had, somehow, been picked out by Dolls and then Samantha Baker and appeared to be having the time of her life. 

Nicole had zoned out, enjoying her buzz and listening to Jeremy talk about how much he hated the last season of Game of Thrones when Waverly stepped up for her turn.

“I think their handling of Daenerys’ arc goes without mentioning as one of the many failures-”

Jeremy was cut off by Wynonna who let out a whoop before yelling, “get it, Babygirl!” As Waverly spun the bottle round.

Time moved excruciatingly slowly as Nicole’s eyes focused on the spinning glass.

It gradually came around the circle a few more times, stuttered, and stopped, pointing right at Nicole. Her mouth was too dry to say anything, her body frozen, stuck still.

Waverly made her way over, hand held out to grab hers.

Wynonna was laughing and patting Nicole on the shoulder roughly. “At least I can trust Haught to keep her hands to herself, right?” She pushed Nicole away from the counter she had been leaning on.

Stumbling forwards, Nicole took Waverly’s hand and was coaxed into the pantry, Lily giving her a wink as she closed the door behind them.

And then it was just Waverly and Nicole.

In the darkness Nicole could hear each of Waverly's breaths, the noises from the kitchen muffled by the closed door. The scent of herbs was second to Waverly's sweet perfume, and it tied up Nicole's tongue as she sifted through her addled brain to find any words that would be appropriate.

The hand that was holding Nicole's squeezed once and Waverly broke the silence. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Nicole wasn't too proud to admit to herself that she was struggling to process everything. The softness of Waverly's question, the light touch of Waverly's fingertips as they danced on her palm, then higher up to her wrist and forearm, leaving goosebumps in their wake.

Nicole stepped closer, testing, waiting for a sign that she was pushing too far. Except, instead of backing off, Waverly matched her movement, tilting her head up until their foreheads were pressed together.

Everything about the moment was so charged. If she couldn't feel the hairs on her arms raise, her stomach twisting, her palms sweating, she would think she was dreaming.

Waverly whispered into the minimal space between them, "can I kiss you?"

Nicole started nodding but reminded herself to use her words. "Yes." God, yes. Please.

Waverly leaned up on her toes, placing her hands behind Nicole's head, and pressed their lips together.

Well, damn.

Nicole could hardly focus with her swooping stomach, but she placed her hands at Waverly's hips and tilted her head further, deepening the kiss. She let out a low moan when Waverly's fingers pushed through the hairs at the back of her head.

The noise accelerated the headiness of the atmosphere and Nicole gasped when Waverly gripped her harder, one hand coming around, across her ear, to cup her jaw. Waverly's fingertip brushing the shell of her ear on its way past had Nicole letting out a shiver. It was like her every nerve ending was increasingly sensitive, heightened by Waverly's touch.

Nicole moved her hands onto the small of Waverly's back, and almost sighed when Waverly pulled away.

The only sound was their ragged breathing until Waverly spoke up. "You can put them a little lower, you know."

Nicole didn't need to be told twice. She surged forward, connecting their mouths again, as she placed her hands lower.

If Nicole had told herself two hours ago that, by the evening, she would be fondling Waverly Earp's ass whilst making out with her in the Haught pantry, she'd have checked her food for hallucinogens.

Yet, here she was, pressing forward at the moan Waverly now let spill out of her. Nicole had barely noticed that Waverly was pressed up against the one wall without shelves until, with a gasp, Waverly wrapped a leg around Nicole's. Nicole readily accepted the invitation to lift, her hands secure on Waverly's backside, until she was holding her against the wall, hips wedged between Waverly's legs.

Pure instinct and desire were driving Nicole now. She broke off the kiss and began trailing her lips along Waverly's jaw. Waverly tilted her head, exposing her neck, and Nicole gladly pressed kisses along it, increasing in pressure when she felt Waverly's hips rock against her. Waverly gave a sinful sigh and dug her nails into Nicole's shoulder blades.

Nicole thought she might just combust right there.


There was a knock on the door, and they sprang apart.


The door opened and Nicole tried to subtly adjust her shirt, where it had hiked up her stomach, and control her frantic breathing.

Waverly was already stepping out into the bright lights of the kitchen, looking far more composed than Nicole felt. Perhaps it hadn’t had quite as much of an effect on her.

Nicole avoided eye contact with anyone as she focused instead on making her way back to her drink without stumbling. 

Thankfully, the game continued without anyone questioning them whilst Nicole's head reeled. Waverly had kissed her, and it was incredible. She still had electric tension running beneath her skin when she lifted her head and made eye contact with Waverly across the kitchen Island.

Waverly's cheeks flushed as she looked back before turning to talk to Robin next to her.

Now the haze of lust that had taken over her cooled off, Nicole’s mind whirred. What did it mean? It seemed so natural, giving in to this pull between them. Still, Nicole didn’t know if this pull went both ways. Was it just a game to Waverly? A drunken bit of fun at a party? Nicole yearned in the marrow of her bones, her frantic heart, her twisting stomach, for it to mean more. Yet, she couldn’t ask Waverly to be something she wasn’t. That wasn’t fair to either of them.

Nicole ran a hand through her mussed hair and leaned heavily against the counter, ignoring Jeremy's elbow to her ribs.

He raised an eyebrow and stepped closer. "So…?"

Nicole shook her head and opened another beer. "We'll talk about it later."

Chapter Text

Nicole pulled a blanket over herself in a drunken haze as she leaned back in the garden chair. The sun had retired for the evening and the night air was chill, surrounding the remaining partygoers who were enjoying the warmth of the fire pit.

She’d kissed Waverly Earp.

Her, Nicole Haught, had kissed Waverly Earp, and it had been breath-taking, astonishing, staggering.

Far too brief.

Nicole had no idea where they went from here. Would they ever repeat the experience? What if Waverly didn’t feel the same? That was just it: Waverly didn’t feel the same as her.

She looked over at the group of cheerleaders playing beer pong on the table on the patio, giggling at Samantha trying to do a trick shot. Waverly hadn’t spoken to or really looked at Nicole since their kiss. Maybe she regretted it.

Still, Waverly had seemed to be pretty into it in the moment.

Nicole’s breath smoked out as she leaned her head back and gazed at the stars, hanging above their small town in a twinkling, dazzling blanket. Looking at the ground, it was easy to get trapped in the everyday, the mundane, but the sky was endless, boundless, and always gave Nicole the dangerous hope of allowing herself to dream. Her eyes watched the crescent moon as she wondered whether she was always this poetic when drunk and full of emotion.

Poetic was not realistic.

She sighed and reminded herself that Waverly was currently dating? sort-of dating? Champ. Nicole didn’t think she was someone who got jealous, but her blood boiled at the thought of Champ getting to do that with Waverly whenever he wanted, yet he treated her like shit. She was under no illusions that she was somehow way more deserving of Waverly’s affections, but it hurt that Champ could be, well, Champ and Waverly still chose him time and time again. She didn’t want Nicole. One kiss didn’t change that.

Plus, even if Waverly enjoyed one kiss with her that didn't mean she wanted anything more.

“You need some of this?” Wynonna broke into her reverie by throwing herself into the seat next to Nicole and waving an energy drink near her face.

Nicole flinched away from the can, that was almost hitting her nose, and glared. “I was enjoying the view.” More like ‘agonizing over your maybe straight sister’, but Nicole was hardly going to mention that to Wynonna.

Wynonna tsked. “All views are improved when I’m in them.”

“Sure,” Nicole replied around a wry smile.

“Facts are facts.”

Nicole stretched her legs out. “I could really go for a smoke right now.”

“You want me to slap a load more of those patch thingies on you?” Wynonna looked deadly serious as she checked her pockets for nicotine patches.

“Fuck no.” Nicole laughed and shoved Wynonna’s hand away. “I’ve got the top of my left arm covered in them.”

“You’re doing well, you know.” Wynonna’s sincerity was startling.

“Thanks.” Nicole gave her a smile. “I think I’ve seriously lost so many cool points though.”

“No way!” Wynonna tipped back the energy drink and glugged a worrying amount at once. “I’m the coolest person I know so you get cool points from hanging with me.”

“Thank God.”

“Hey- uh.” Wynonna shifted in her seat. “I haven’t told anyone else ‘cause I didn’t want a stupid deal made out of it, but it’s actually my birthday today and I wanted to say thanks. For this.”

“Are you sure you’re feeling OK?” Nicole teased, unable to help herself before schooling her grin into something more serious. “Happy Birthday, Wynonna.”

“Thanks, ya asshole.” Wynonna messed up her hair and stood up, heading back inside, probably looking for more alcohol.

Jeremy and his friends were leaving, and Nicole gave him a wave that promised she would give him all the details over text tomorrow. She moved her gaze from the French doors and locked eyes with Chrissy who gave her a small smile.

Nicole waved at her and returned the smile as she walked over.

“Howdy,” Nicole greeted as Chrissy sat in the seat Wynonna had vacated.

“How drunk are you?”

“Just the right amount." Nicole cast her eyes over the dress Chrissy had worn, low-cut on her chest and very short, and moved her gaze up to meet blue. Things were so easy with Chrissy. There was no electric current running through Nicole’s body when Chrissy lifted her legs and placed her feet in Nicole’s lap, no hyper awareness of their closeness, just simple understanding.

“This is when we’d both usually be smoking,” Chrissy commented, her eyes falling to Nicole’s lips. No electric current perhaps, but a small something still stirred in Nicole’s belly. So, she was drunk and horny- sue her.

“I wish, but I made a promise.” Nicole looked over at Waverly, taking her turn at beer pong, and shrugged.

“You love her, don’t you?” Chrissy asked in a similar tone as she would have used to enquire about the weather.

Shit. Nicole spun her head back to face Chrissy. “What? Waverly? Of course I don’t- no way. Me?”

Chrissy chuckled. “You can be honest with me, Nic.” She tightened her ponytail, smirk still wide at Nicole’s shock. “I can see it in the way you look at her. Also, you were both not at all subtle after seven minutes in heaven, like, what even happened in there?”

“Huh.” Nicole tilted her head. “I didn’t think I was that obvious.” She placed a hand on Chrissy’s ankle where it rested in her lap. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before I just, I know it’s stupid but it’s how I feel-”

“Hey- It’s OK,” Chrissy assured her. “I thought you were into someone with your whole ‘no commitment’ talk. I didn’t realise until today that it was Waverly, though.” She twisted a bracelet around her wrist. “She’s um- we’re not really talking at the minute.”

“You guys are arguing?”

“That’s just it- we’re not. I mean, as far as I know we haven’t argued or have any reason to be mad, but she’s acting weird with me and I don’t know why.” Chrissy chewed on her lip. “Well, it’s been since me and you, you know.”

Nicole nodded. “Oh, believe me, I know.” They shared a grin. “I’d be shocked by this, but you don’t think it’s ‘cause we’re both girls, right?” It wouldn't make sense after what they'd just done in the pantry, but internalised homophobia could be pretty strong.

“It did cross my mind, but it’s Waverly. She’s the nicest person in Purgatory!” Chrissy shook her head. “Maybe it’s the Champ hating you thing? Or maybe she’s jealous of me?” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Nicole let out a loud guffaw. “Ha! Not likely." If Waverly wanted Nicole, she could have had her with just a word. Surely, she knew that? Nicole sighed and said, "Whatever it is, I’m sure she’ll come around.”

 “I hope so.” Chrissy looked at her legs, supported by Nicole. “Did you want me to back off with this?”

Nicole’s thumb traced patterns on Chrissy’s bare ankle. “No. I may love her, but I know I have no chance, Chris. She’s with Champ, and I’m me.” There it was. Nicole’s painful truth laid bare, resting out in the grass that surrounded them, a stubborn weed ready to be rooted up or perhaps buried below the earth again.

Chrissy took a moment, maybe measuring how truthful she was, maybe trying to work out just what she wanted from whatever was happening between them. “You sure?”

This was Chrissy giving her a chance to firmly put a stopper on anything between them that wasn’t friendship and, whilst Nicole appreciated the option being offered, she was still human and she wanted, so badly, to feel desired. Even if it was temporary, hollow, it still felt good for a short time.

Mind made up, Nicole smirked, moved her hand higher up Chrissy’s leg, resting it just above her knee. “If I don’t want you to touch me in public, I will politely let you know.”

“I like your honesty.”

“Is that the only thing you like?” 

Chrissy’s eyes flicked up and down her form. “I can think of a few other things.”

That had Nicole warm all over again, thinking about the evening they’d spent together, thinking about how she knew where she stood, or more accurately sat, with Chrissy, with no fear of a crushing rejection. It was safe. There were no obnoxious feelings that could be trampled on, that would devastate Nicole and leave her crying into a bowl of cereal. That had been one time, with Shae, but her Dad had given her awkward, sympathetic pats on the head for weeks after. It was not a feeling Nicole wished to repeat.

Nicole’s hand moved higher up onto Chrissy’s thigh, just below the hem of her blue dress, when an annoyed sounding cough startled them, causing Chrissy to pull her legs out of Nicole’s lap.

“Nicole- can you help me carry Wynonna home, please?” Waverly, her voice sounding saccharine sweet. “She’s nearly passed out in the kitchen.”

Just Waverly’s voice had her heart rattling against her ribcage. Or, maybe that was because she’d caught her with Chrissy. Wait. There was no ‘caught’. Waverly was with someone else and she’d gotten Nicole all confused and horny with no explanation or attempt to talk things out. Nicole was painfully single and free to flirt with whomever she wished. She knew that. So, she gave Waverly her best cocky grin and stood up. “Sure.”

“Thanks,” was all Waverly replied before she was moving to head to the kitchen.

Chrissy looked up at Nicole. “I should probably go.” Almost all the guests had left now, the cheerleaders having packed up their beer pong game some time ago.

“Feel free to stay over.” Nicole looked back over her shoulder as she followed Waverly. “If you want?”

“I’ll think about it,” Chrissy called over with a worried glance at Waverly’s back, her tight shoulders hunched slightly.

Nicole hurried closer behind Waverly, who, for someone with such short legs, was going at quite the pace. “Where’s the fire? You OK, Waverly?”

Waverly came to a sudden stop and Nicole almost barrelled into her, lifting her hands to hold Waverly’s shoulders so they didn’t both topple to the floor.

Waverly shrugged Nicole’s hands off. “I’m fine, Nicole.”

To go from the heat of earlier between them to this glacial cold was like a slap to the face. “You’re giving me whiplash, Waves.”

That seemed to be the wrong thing to say. With a huff, Waverly whirled her head around, letting out a low, “Oh, am I?” That had Nicole’s jaw tightening in anticipation.

Nicole, too taken aback to reply, followed Waverly into the kitchen where Wynonna was sprawled over the island counter, one shoe discarded on the floor, and a lazy smile on her face. “Well heyooooooo Haught sauce and Babygirl! How y’all doin’?”

“It’s time to head home now, ‘Nonna,” Waverly said, her face stern and hands planted on her hips.

“What? Why?” She drew out the ‘why’ until Nicole rolled her eyes and marched over.

“Girl, you’re a mess. That’s why. Let’s get you to bed.” Nicole held her hands out to help Wynonna down from the counter.

“Oh, you wanna get me to bed, do you?” Wynonna let out a drunken laugh as she fell onto her feet, arms planted on Nicole’s forearm. “Classic Haught Potato- such a player !”

“You know that’s not true,” Nicole said, face warm as she supported Wynonna’s weight.

Waverly made an odd tutting noise but before Nicole could analyse that reaction, Wynonna was slumping further in her arms, groaning, “ugh. I am kinda tired, I guess. Carry me home, Haught. I trust you not to try any funny business.”

“Jeez, thanks, I think?” Nicole swung Wynonna up into a bridal carry, laughing at the ‘whoop’ Wynonna let out in reaction, and began the trek outside.

“Where did Doll’s go?” Wynonna mumbled, her eyes heavy with oncoming fatigue.

“He went home,” Nicole said, grunting as she twisted to get Wynonna out of the door.

“Did he go with that Eliza bitch? Who even is she?”

“Jealousy doesn’t look good on you, Wy,” Nicole joked.

Wynonna lifted a slack hand to drag along Nicole’s cheek. “Wrong. Everything looks good on me.” She closed her eyes, seemingly drifting into a heavy sleep if the snores were anything to go by.

Great. Without Wynonna as a buffer, that left Nicole and Waverly having to trudge through the awkwardness together. Or silence. Silence Nicole could do. It was one of her preferred methods of dealing with arguments, not that they’d really had an argument, had they? No, they'd just had an amazing drunken make-out. Nothing serious.

A silence, thick and filled with questions, settled over them a moment as they walked down Nicole's drive.

Fuck it. She never could help herself when it came to Waverly. “Hey- are we good?” She asked as they crossed the road, watching Waverly avoid her gaze. The faint glow of the streetlights framed Waverly’s profile, drew attention to her button nose, her sharp jaw jutting out, the slight pout to her lips. She was terminally pretty. 

Nicole inwardly groaned. It was that kind of thinking that had gotten her into this mess.

“I don’t know, Nicole.” Waverly finally turned to face her, and Nicole drew in a sharp breath, stunned by the agonized look in Waverly’s eyes. She knew then that no matter how she felt she had to make things right between them. This conversation would be so much easier sober, but Nicole would give it her best shot.

“If this is about,” she lowered her voice, despite Wynonna being dead to the world, “the kiss - I’m sorry. It got out of hand. I shouldn’t have pushed so far. I know you’re with Champ and I should have respected your decision, your relationship, more than that.”

They paused, just before the steps up to the McCready porch and Waverly mulled over Nicole’s apology, a range of emotions flitting over her face that Nicole had no hopes of reading in her tipsy state. Disappointment? Anger? Sadness? Guilt?

She opened her mouth to speak several times, then closed it, before, eventually, she said, “I’m sorry too.” Waverly swallowed, eyes dropping to the ground. “I shouldn’t have kissed you, and I think after that I was projecting my guilt onto you and that’s not fair.”

Waverly saw their kiss as a mistake, a regret. 

A dull, aching pain rose up in Nicole’s chest, her breath feeling short. “So, friends?” She asked, marvelling at how resilient her outer presentation was whilst inside her heart was breaking, shattered into a collection of sharp pieces that stabbed at her each second she stood in front of the girl who didn’t even realise the power she had over Nicole. Power that Nicole had given to her.

“Friends,” Waverly agreed, a small smile on her face that didn’t reach her eyes.

Turning her back on the McCready house, Nicole growled at her foolishness, her eyes stinging as she thought over Waverly’s apology: ‘I shouldn’t have kissed you’.

She closed her eyes.

‘I shouldn’t have kissed you’, Waverly whispers between her gasping breaths as Nicole pushes her against the wall of the pantry.

‘I shouldn’t have kissed you’, Waverly moans into her ear as she tugs on Nicole’s hair, drawing their lips together again.



Nicole kicked the curb, cursed again when pain cracked against her toes, shot up her foot.


Further down the street a window opened, and a shout called out into the night, “keep it down out there, kid!”

Nicole groaned and muttered out, “I’m trying to have a meltdown here,” but strode back to her door, locking and sliding down against it in as dramatic a fashion as she could muster.

She held her head in her hands, focusing on breathing and tamping down the tears that her body was determined to shed over a girl who she meant nothing to.

It took a few minutes before she realised someone had sat next to her, back against the door, her head leaning against the wood.

“Hey. You stayed,” Nicole said, completely unnecessarily.

“Hey,” Chrissy replied. “I did.”

They sat, a silence between them that said a lot of things, but Chrissy simply reached out, taking Nicole’s hand into her own and locking their fingers together.

“Thanks,” Nicole whispered after a while.

“You did the same for me the other day.” Chrissy smiled at her. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

Did she? What was there to say? I’m in love with someone who is incapable of feeling the same way about me and she regrets a kiss that, to me, was the world? That Nicole was sure some cruel twist of fate had created her to be destined to pine for Waverly her entire life because something inside of her, in her very cells, were coded to react to Waverly’s presence? That she was worried she’d never feel like this about anyone else?


She needed to stop acting, and feeling, like a victim when this was on her. She’d been walking a tightrope for so long teetering towards being an entitled asshole or a whining kicked puppy. Waverly owed her nothing. Not her time, her love, her friendship. Had she thought, for a moment, that a kiss during a childish game somehow changed that?

“I don’t want to talk,” Nicole told Chrissy, standing up and pulling Chrissy with her. She stepped into the space between them. “Is that- are you still OK with this?”

Chrissy let out a laugh, light and breathy, and it ghosted against Nicole’s lips. “Why do you think I wore this dress?” Her fingers graced the buttons on the front of Nicole’s shirt, her eyebrow raised in question until Nicole nodded.

Nicole closed the gap between them and melted into Chrissy, cramming all of her frustration into the kiss, needing this even if it was just a distraction from her turbulent, overwhelming thoughts of Waverly.

Covered in a thick duvet, Nicole was spending her Sunday how she liked it: dozing and daydreaming, nothing important to drag her out of the warm cocoon she’d created.

Chrissy had left sharpish in the morning, avoiding what would have been an awkward post ‘we made this more than a one-night stand’ talk. Nicole dearly appreciated that.

She spent the day eating ice cream and mourning something between her and Waverly that hadn’t even been there anyway. She ignored a couple of messages on her phone, had a cry to some Adele , and looked at all the cats up for adoption at the local shelter. God, they were so cute. Unfortunately, after the cat debacle a few years ago, her parents had blacklisted her number at the shelter to avoid a repeat of them coming home to a clowder of cats prowling across the laminate like they owned the place. 

It was evening by the time she was looking into cooking something that was substantial, and her chest felt tight when she stepped into the kitchen. It wasn’t fair that she’d never be able to look at the pantry the same way again, assailed as she would be by memories. She’d not once stopped to consider how this would affect the next time she had to grab some pasta. How careless. Having to ignore vivid, horny flashbacks whenever she wanted to make some spaghetti was going to be a challenge. 


Seeing sexual innuendo everywhere must be what it was like to live in Wynonna’s mind, Nicole mused.

So, she’d fucked everything up with the girl she’d been pining over for years. Just another day in Nicole Haught’s life. She had to look at the silver lining- there was always a positive, right? 

Her heart was already broken so it couldn’t be broken again.

Maudlin, but what did it matter now? She didn’t need to be shy or embarrassed in front of Waverly, or anyone really, now she’d felt the sting of rejection she wouldn’t fear it again. She’d prescribe to the Wynonna way of living. 

She was Nicole Haught: cool, confident and untouchable. If you say one thing about Nicole Haught, say she gets back up when she’s knocked down. 

There was dew on the grass and a crispness to the air on Monday morning, but the sun was still bright where it struggled up above the trees in the early hour. It was a sunglasses kind of day, Nicole decided.

She strolled out of her house, late and chewing on a slice of buttered toast, and nodded at Wynonna, who was looking as tired as she always did before school.

“Hey, Red.” Wynonna dropped into the passenger seat the minute Nicole unlocked the car. “Apparently Wave is getting a ride with Champ this morning, though he’s cutting it kinda fine." She glanced at the clock. "Tried to talk her out of it, but you know how stubborn that kid is.”

“Tell me about it,” Nicole muttered as she climbed in and adjusted the radio to a rock station.

“You OK, dude?” Wynonna fixed her with a curious look as she put her feet up on the dashboard.

“Feet down.”

“There she is,” Wynonna laughed and adjusted her position. “So, what’s with the chill time keeping- you finally took that stick out of your ass?”

"I sure did." Nicole put her shades on and started up the car, finishing up her toast and licking the butter off her fingers as she spotted Waverly coming out to sit on the porch steps.

Nicole pulled out of her drive and stopped by the curb outside the McCready house. She lowered the window and rested her forearm on the door. "You sure you don't need a lift?" She gave Waverly a dimpled grin and raised eyebrow, glad that her sunglasses hid the hardness she knew lay behind her eyes.

Waverly, looking like she'd been stood up for a date, lifted her chin and waved at them. "I'm good, thanks. I'll see you two at school."

"No worries- see ya." Nicole was surprised the tires didn't squeal with how fast her jumpy foot hit the accelerator, and they shot along the road towards school. She thought she might have seen Champ roll up not long after them, but she focused on the road and Wynonna's terrible tapping of a beat against the dashboard, vaguely in time with the fast rock music blaring out of the stereo.

She guessed that was it. Waverly had picked Champ.

Chapter Text

The week at school had been mostly boring, yet Nicole had taken any chances she got to exude this new, confident version of herself. 

Something that had stung was Waverly flaking out on their Monday History tutor evening, citing an important commitment that needed her time this week. That commitment was probably having sub-par hetero sex with Champ in the back of his convertible, but Nicole wasn’t bitter or anything.

Her parents returned from holiday and, whilst Nicole would never say it out loud, she was kind of glad to have the house not so eerily quiet. Plus, her Dad was going through a culinary based mid-life crisis that had him cooking up some tasty meals. Not having to cook for yourself was a privilege Nicole had sorely missed.

Friday lunch, Nicole sat down at the ‘popular’ kids table next to Robin.

He looked up from his sandwiches. “Hi Nicole.”

“Hey, Robin.” She took a bite out of her apple. “How are you?”

“I’m good, thanks.” He gave her a smile. “Your party was fun.”

“Yeah? Was it my amazing grill skills?”

“That, of course, and I thought some of your other friends were pretty cool. I was speaking to a guy called Jeremy?”

Nicole tried not to smirk. “Oh, yeah, Jeremy’s great. Did you want his number?”

There was a slight blush dusting his cheeks. “Sure, that would be- yeah. You sure he’s OK with that?” He held out his phone for her.

“Definitely,” Nicole assured him. She took his phone and copied over Jeremy’s number, using her own phone to send a quick text to Jeremy to give him a heads up. Should she change her name to Cupid now?

Stephanie, Chrissy, Samantha and Darcy approached the table, taking seats opposite them. Stephanie, giving a sly look, muttered, loud enough for everyone nearby to hear, “Oh, look, it’s the ‘I’m a weirdo so Chrissy pity-fucked me' squad.” She nodded at Nicole and Robin. “Charity is one of your best values, Chrissy.”

There was a nervous giggle from most of the people in earshot and Chrissy flushed, ducking her head and focusing her eyes firmly on her lunch.

Nicole rolled her eyes. “Just say you’re jealous, Steph. We won’t judge.”

Stephanie sent her a glare that would be bad for her health if looks could kill. “I’m not jealous of anything. I’m not gay. The thought of you honestly disgusts me.”

Nicole was about to reply, probably escalating the situation further, but Champ appeared and tapped a hand against Steph’s shoulder. “Now, now Steph, being homophobic’s not cool.”

Was Nicole hearing right?

“Besides,” Champ continued, “the thought of you two together doesn’t disgust me at all.” Ah, there he was. How did men like Champ always manage to make everything about them?

Steph slapped him on the arm. “Champ! Don’t be gross. I thought you hated her?”

“That’s not ‘cause she’s gay, Steph. My therapist says my anger is a reaction to my masculinity being threatened.” He shrugged like it was normal to just share that much private information and reached over to grab a handful of fries off Pete York, who glared back from a few seats away.

Chrissy gave Nicole a look that said, ‘what the fuck was that?’ and Nicole shrugged back, taking a bite out of her apple now the situation had somehow been defused by Champ of all people.

Samantha sipped the smoothie she was holding, part of a special liquid diet most of the cheerleaders had started, and said, “Speaking of the gays.” Here we go. “Nicole, do you want to sign up for the kissing booth at the October Festival? It would give us gals a different option.”

Darcy clapped her hands together. “We’d be, like, the most progressive kissing booth in rural Canada! Plus, we totally need to raise more money this year.”

“Hard pass on that one, guys,” Nicole said. “It sounds like a bad Netflix movie waiting to happen.” 

"But the kissing booth is a Fall festival tradition." Darcy seemed genuinely shocked that she wasn't interested. "Does that mean you aren't even going to homecoming?"

"I mean, I wasn't planning on it…" Nicole wondered if there would have been less shock from the table if she had announced she was half alien.

 Wynonna was relishing in Nicole’s new carefree attitude and had even agreed to reveal her super-secret chill spot that no one else knew about. Apparently, it was a good place to go to scream, since people tended to frown upon those over the age of seven who screamed in public.

“You sure we’re allowed to be out here?” Nicole questioned as she followed Wynonna down a grassy verge, covered in weeds and wildflowers, to a partially concealed area below. There was a weak brook, winding through the tree covered shores, only ankle deep in most places and glistening in the failing orange glow of the setting sun.

“No idea,” Wynonna said with an errant wave of her hand. “People flytip here all the time. There’s a passable couch down here somewhere…”

Nicole, stumbling on the uneven ground, came to a stop and admired the beauty of nature, marred by bits of trash people didn’t want anymore. An open fridge lay on its side a few feet away, gaping and covered in mud, almost as if it was shocked at the betrayal of being left to rot in the wilderness at the edge of Purgatory. She looked up at Wynonna, following her along the muddy shore. “Isn’t there a site in town where you can dump stuff?”

“Yeah but there’s loads of rules you have to follow, they're super picky with what they can take, and they charge you money or something? Stupid, if you ask me, but the government’s loss is our gain.”

“It is?” Nicole raised an eyebrow at a microwave, open and stained, the inside moulded over with what must have been remnants of food about a decade ago.

“Uh- yeah.” Wynonna said, like Nicole was an idiot. No argument there, really. She carried on, kicking junk out of her way until she found a cut back hollow, a sofa perched under the bank, hidden and sheltered from above.

Wynonna grabbed a worried Nicole over. “You sure that thing hasn’t got fleas or chlamydia or something-”

“Calm it, Haught. It’s fine.” Wynonna sprawled out on the couch and Nicole hesitated for a moment but joined her with a sigh.

They sat, on a janky-ass couch, listening to the sounds of nature around them, the trickle of the river, the rustle of the trees, the twittering of birds. It was so calm. Nicole took in deep breaths and forgot about everything else. Just this moment existed, a snapshot of bliss.

“I fucked one of the Yorke brothers on this couch.” Of course, Wynonna had to ruin it. “Can’t remember which one it was. Pete maybe? Yeah, I think it was Pete. It was shit."

Nicole mimed a gagging motion but couldn’t help the laugh that spilled out of her. “Thanks. Not for that image, but for this.” She looked out at the scene again.

“It’s the least I could do.” Wynonna kept her gaze on the glittering water. “I’ve never really had a close female friend before. I think most people are intimidated by my fantastic hair and great ass, but I’m glad you weren’t.”

“It is top shelf, man,” Nicole assured her, “and you shouldn’t be ashamed of knowing that.”

“It’s a tough responsibility having the best ass in Purgatory, but it’s one I shoulder with pride.”

“An inspiration to us all.”

Wynonna matched Nicole’s grin before adjusting the zipper on her jacket, fiddling in a nervous way that was very uncharacteristic of her. “I think I’m gonna travel, after graduation. Purgatory, it’s suffocating in a way. Everyone knows about Daddy and Mama, and what happened, and I’ve dreamed of being somewhere else for a long time. I just thought I should give you a heads up, you know?”

Nicole nodded. “I get it. You know you’ll be greatly missed, right?”

“Maybe a couple of losers will miss me, but most won’t.” Wynonna deflected the emotional moment with humour, as always. “You could come with me, if you want.”

The statement hung in the air. Endless possibilities unfurling in front of Nicole. “I-”

“You don’t have to make any decisions soon. Just know - the offer is there. I’m thinking Europe, maybe Greece. Somewhere sunny and far away from here.”

“I’ll think about it.” Nicole smiled at her. "You're my best friend, you know that?"

“Really?" Wynonna looked genuinely shocked and delighted. "Best friends it is- no takebacks!" They did a stupid pinky promise and shared a laugh. "Right.” Wynonna slapped her knees and stood up, her mushy emotions probably used up for the day, or week. “I’ve got a board which I’ve been throwing knives at. It’s really fun if you imagine you’re throwing them at people you hate.”  

Before Nicole knew it, the weeks were passing by in a monotonous rhythm broken only by the occasional panic about post-senior year plans each time an adult saw fit to mention it to her. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, OK? Who the fuck did at seventeen anyway?

The weekly tutor sessions with Waverly resumed with some awkwardness, but eventually they fell into a guarded friendship that had Nicole aching but reminding herself that it was necessary.

One Sunday, later in October, when Nicole's parents were out of town on a business trip, found Nicole laid back on her bed, head against her pillows.

Chrissy, hair down and thoroughly messy, rolled on her side to face Nicole, and rested her chin on her hand. "So, I finished Of Mice and Men ."

Nicole laughed. "What did you think?"

Chrissy shrugged her bare shoulders. "It was good, I guess. Not the best thing I've ever read."

"Yeah. I kinda feel like that about a lot of 'classics'." Nicole grabbed a T-shirt off the floor and pulled it over her head. "Don't you think the English teacher Mr. Sharpe has a weird thing going on with the football coach? I always get a chemistry vibe thing between them."

"Oh my god- same!" Chrissy shrugged into some sweatpants on the other side of the bed. "They defo have a love hate relationship."

"I bet they have hate sex in the gym or something."

"Ew. I didn't need that image!" Chrissy pulled her hair up into a ponytail and scanned the room. "Where the hell did you throw my bra?"

Nicole lifted her hands up. "That's not on me. Have you checked under the bed?"

"It's definitely your fault," Chrissy said, searching more intently. "Found it!"

"You weren't complaining earlier," Nicole replied as she yanked on a pair of boxers.

"Ha ha." Chrissy rolled her eyes and checked she was fully dressed before she grabbed her phone.

They made their way downstairs and Nicole filled up a couple of glasses of water for them. She always took hydration after strenuous exercise seriously.

"Thanks," Chrissy said, taking a glass. "Hey- did I mention I've got a date tomorrow?"

Nicole leaned against the counter. They both had the understanding this was casual, so she wasn't shocked. In fact, she liked being able to talk frankly with Chrissy about these things. "Oh, with who?" 

Chrissy grimaced. "Don't judge me. There are limited options in Purgatory, you know that…"

Nicole rolled her eyes. "I won't judge you. I promise."

"It's with Pete York," Chrissy admitted.

Nicole let out a laugh. She couldn't help it. "This isn't me judging you." Chrissy smacked her on the arm. "Hey! I said I wasn't judging," Nicole protested.

"It sure sounded like you were."

"No. I get it. There aren't many options. I was laughing because, unfortunately, I've heard he's terrible in bed."

"How would you know that?" Chrissy asked. "Wait- Wynonna?"

Nicole nodded. "Yeah."

"Well I wasn't planning on sleeping with him but that's gonna make the date weird now I know."


"Don't apologise. Better I didn't have to find out for myself, huh?" Chrissy joked. 

"Maybe. He could be lovely company, though." Nicole smirked. "I bet he's planning on pulling out all the stops to impress you. Let me guess… a fancy dinner out at Shorty's ?"

"Have I told you you're an asshole?"

"You might have mentioned it." Nicole drank half of her cold water, using it to cover her smug grin.

Chrissy raised an eyebrow. "I doubt you would be much better at romance."

"Of course I wouldn't." Nicole knew that she was, in fact, deep deep down inside, a soppy, lovestruck, hopeless romantic. The world, and Chrissy, didn't need to know that though. Neither did the girl who still held her heart.

"I'm kinda glad about that," Chrissy said, laughing at Nicole's confused face. "What I mean is that I like not having to worry about that with you. It sometimes seems like guys that ask me out just do all the typical romantic stuff for show and it feels so fake. Plus, I don't want to explain to my Dad what 'bisexual' means. The longer I can put that off, the better." She finished up her water and put her phone in her pocket.

Nicole did laugh at the thought of Sheriff Nedley seeing her take Chrissy on a date and having to google what bisexual meant. "I'm sure he'd be supportive of you if you did ever want to tell him." Nicole followed Chrissy to the door, handing over her coat.

Chrissy thanked her and put on her warm winter coat. "It's not a lack of support that I'm worried about, it's just the general awkwardness."

"That's fair." Nicole held the door open for Chrissy. "Well, have fun on your date tomorrow."

"Thanks. I'll try." Chrissy's eyes wandered to the house across the street. "Have you spoken much to Waverly lately?"

"A bit. She's tutoring me in History. What about you? Have you guys made up?"

"Not yet. I'm going to speak to her though. I miss her."

Nicole understood that. "Yeah. You guys will work it out. I'm sure."

The library was quiet and, whilst that should be the norm for a library, it so often wasn’t the case in Purgatory.

Nicole nodded at the person manning the front desk, noting that it was probably how unhinged she looked that had kept people so eager to adhere to the rules today. There was something about Beth Gardner that made you wonder just when she’d snap. She held eye contact with Nicole, who tried to match it but eventually gave up and let out a shudder as she traipsed into one of the stacks.

She’d received a list of recommendations from Waverly for books to help her in an upcoming History pop quiz, and she stepped further into the shelves, through a few rows of novels, eyes scanning over the neat, bubbly writing on the paper ripped out of Waverly’s notebook. Not looking where she was going, she almost stumbled into someone.

Reaching out to steady herself against a shelf, Nicole looked down. “Sorry I wasn’t looking where I was goin- oh. Hi Waverly.”

Waverly looked up at her, eyes wide and cheeks red, her hands clasped tightly around a book with a pink cover. “Uhm- Hi, Nicole. Fancy seeing you here. That’s weird, huh? Do you uh, come here often?”

Nicole frowned. Why was she so shocked and embarrassed about seeing Nicole in the library? “I know I said I don’t read a lot, but I have been known to come here occasionally.” 

“Right. Yeah.” Waverly held the book tighter against her chest. “I guess I’d better be going, but it was nice seeing you.”

Nicole’s eyes flicked down to the book in Waverly’s arms, as well hidden as possible but Nicole could tell it was a romance, or maybe smutty novel? Ah. That would explain the embarrassment. Her eyes drifted to the shelf they were standing next to. It was the very small LGBT+ section. Oh. “Sure.” Maybe it would be unfair to embarrass Waverly further. “You know,” Nicole said as she stepped away, “I could give you some book recommendations if you want any?”

Waverly blushed a darker shade of crimson but raised her gaze to meet Nicole’s. “I think I’m good, for now, but I did actually want a hand reaching a book.” She gestured to the top shelf, just out of reach for someone of Waverly’s stature.

Now, Nicole knew there wasn’t anything going on between her and Waverly, but a bit of a flirt wouldn’t hurt, right? “Yeah?” She moved closer again, close enough that she could see the speckles of gold in Waverly’s hazel eyes, and asked, “Which one?” She lifted her hand to the top shelf, finger pointing.

“Not that one.” Waverly’s voice was strained, a little breathy as she also shuffled closer, close enough that if she’d leaned her head forward, she could’ve rested it on Nicole’s collarbone. Not that Nicole was thinking about that, or about the way Waverly was biting her lower lip before continuing to guide her. “The one on the right. Yes. That one.”

Nicole regretfully took down the book, scanning the front to see two women in an embrace. Huh. “Here you go.” She handed it over.

“Thanks.” When Waverly gave her a look, so full of something , Nicole wanted to scream out ‘am I reading this wrong? Or are we flirting?’ But they were in a library, so instead she gave a soft smile.

In the quiet, between the stacks of well-worn books, Nicole almost let herself believe that the longing she knew was written all over her body was mirrored in Waverly’s before her.

A cough broke into the moment before Nicole could examine it further, and they stepped apart to see Beth giving them a stern glace from the end of the row.

They let out low giggles when she walked away.

Waverly, her joy drawing Nicole in, said, “I guess I’d better go before she tries to murder me. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Tomorrow.” Nicole was still dazed and thinking about Waverly’s smile as she made her way to the History section.

Nicole pulled on a pair of gloves, knowing the evening would be chill, before she walked out of the house, checking the time on her phone and noting she was going to be five minutes early. She didn’t anticipate any delays on her way over.

She strolled across the road and pressed the bell by the McCready’s door.

Curtis opened the door, giving her a kind smile. “Hello Nicole. Please, come in.”

“Thank you, Sir- I mean Curtis,” she replied and stepped into the warmth of the house gratefully.

“You’re in for a treat tonight. I’ve made my famous vegetable lasagne.” He closed the door behind her and took her coat. “It’s one of Waverly’s favourites. You know, I don’t think we’ve ever had one of Wynonna’s friends around for movie night…”

“Curtis!” Gus called out from the kitchen. “Let the girl breathe and come help me with this salad.”

“Duty calls.” Curtis gave her a grin. “Wynonna’s in her room.”

“Thanks.” Nicole hurried up the stairs and knocked on Wynonna’s door, hearing loud rock music blaring out inside.

“Come in!”

Nicole opened the door then immediately closed it again at the sight of Wynonna in her bra. “What the fuck, Wynonna?”

Wynonna appeared around the edge of the door, now with a shirt on, thankfully. “What?” She pulled the door open. “I’m pretty sure you’ve seen me with no top on before. You and half of Purgatory.”

Nicole shrugged. “I guess you have a point. Maybe give me a warning next time?”

“Prude,” she teased.

Nicole rolled her eyes and stepped into the room. “How come you invited me for movie night?”

“What? I can’t invite a friend over?”

“Aww, you’re getting all mushy.”

“Look, half the time you don’t feed yourself properly when your parents are out of town. I’m just making sure you eat at least one vegetable this week!” Wynonna defended.

“Sure. My parents are back from their work thingy in like two days." She grinned at Wynonna but decided to stop teasing her further. "What are we watching anyway?”

Wynonna waved an errant hand around. “Meh. I don’t know. Movie night is all about Uncle Curtis’ lasagne. No one really cares what we watch.” Her phone buzzed on her bedside table and she picked it up, laughing at whatever message she’d received.

“Who’s got you giggling at your phone like that?” Nicole said, sitting on the edge of the unmade bed.

“It’s just a dickpic. I don’t think guys understand how much we don’t want to see their junk. Newsflash: your dick is ugly as fuck, all dicks are.”

Nicole couldn’t keep the disgust off her face. “Sometimes I truly feel sorry for the tragic individuals who date cis men.”

“Yeah,” Wynonna sighed. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty tough. Speaking of,” Wynonna cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Wave!”

There was a pause before Waverly’s door opened and she appeared in front of them, wearing sweatpants and a large hoodie. She looked endearingly cute with the sleeve cuffs covering her hands, and her eyes widened at the sight of Nicole. “Oh, hi Nicole. I didn’t realise you were coming over?”

“Yeah, I heard about Curtis’ legendary lasagne so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try it.”

Waverly smiled and came to sit next to her. “It is my favourite for a reason.”

Nicole turned, her hand placed on the bed, not far from Waverly. “That good, huh?”

“Yeah,” Waverly’s voice was quieter now, her eyes intently watching Nicole’s face.

“Guess who finished things with Champ, again?” Wynonna cut into the conversation. “Is it for real this time, Babygirl?”

Waverly sat up straighter. “Yes. I’ve told him we’re just friends now.”

Wynonna placed a hand by her mouth and aimed her reply at Nicole. “We’ll see how long that lasts, huh?”

Before Waverly could aim her anger towards her sister Gus could be heard calling them downstairs for dinner.

Late October, the evening dark and cold, Nicole was driving home after a dramatic D&D session with Jeremy- and having to tell Mrs. Chetri that she already ate about five times- when she spotted a slight, familiar figure walking alone. She did a double take and realised it was Waverly. She pulled over, hoping that Waverly would recognise her car since it was always worrying walking alone as a woman anyway without cars stopping.

Nicole reached over and rolled the window down. “Hey- Waverly. Do you want a ride? I’m headed home.”

Waverly, nose red with the cold, pulled her fur coat tighter around her. “I’m good, thanks though.”

Nicole sighed, leaned further across the car console. “You’re gonna get pneumonia or something. You sure?”

Waverly paused. Took in a breath. A car behind Nicole beeped the horn twice.

Nicole stuck her middle finger up at the dick behind them and turned back to Waverly. “Waves?”

A second more. Then Waverly nodded. “Yeah,” she said, pulling open the passenger side door, “thanks, Nicole.”

Once Waverly was safely belted in, Nicole set off again, eyes on the road. She didn’t say anything, just turned up the heat to warm the car further and ignored the asshole driving closely behind them.

It was Waverly who broke the silence, glancing out of the window at the lights flashing by. “How come you’re out this late?”

“I was at Jeremy’s,” Nicole said, her hands tight on the wheel, on edge, as she always was around Waverly now, with so many things unsaid. “What- uh- what about you?”

Waverly tugged at the seatbelt, adjusted it so it didn’t dig into her neck. “I was on a date.”

“Right. Cool.” Nicole ignored her insides, rebellious, churning and painful. She squared her jaw. “Was it good?”

Waverly leaned her head back against the headrest. “No. She- Uh, Not really.” She let out a single, sad laugh, more like a sigh. “I wouldn’t be walking home alone if it had been good.”

“Sorry- I probably should’ve picked up on that.” Nicole chewed on the inside of her cheek. “Do we need to go egg anyone’s house?”

This time Waverly’s laugh was genuine. “No. I’m good. Thank you, though.”

“Yeah? Well, anytime, OK? You know if you’re stuck walking home you can just text me. Whatever time, I’ll come get you,” Nicole said, honestly. She’d carry Waverly to safety out of the cold if that was the only way.

“I’ll bear that in mind.” Waverly fixed her with a grateful glance. “Have you thought about setting up a Purgatory Uber?”

“I think I’m too picky with my clientele to earn much. Only good company allowed, and that can come in short supply in Purgatory,” she joked.

“So harsh.”

“Am I right, though?” Nicole smirked, raised an eyebrow at Waverly and waited at a red light.

“...Maybe?” Waverly scrunched up her face until she let out a giggle. The image of her in the passenger seat, in the glow of the red light, and laughing so freely would stick with Nicole for days.

“You’re some of the best company in Purgatory, Waverly.”

Waverly blushed, glanced up through her eyelashes. “Thank you. You’re not too bad yourself.”

Was this flirting? Were they flirting right now? Nicole wasn’t sure, but she shook her head when she realised the light had turned green. They were nearing their street now and Nicole couldn’t help stealing glances of Waverly out of the corner of her eye, noticing that she was doing the same.

 Nicole parked in her drive, cutting the engine and turning to face Waverly, whose eyes were already on Nicole’s form. She looked up, bashful at being caught and undid her seatbelt. “Thanks, Nicole.”

“No problem.” And it really was no problem. Nicole would help Waverly in any way she wanted, whenever she wanted, but it took everything in her not to overthink things when Waverly looked at her like that. 

Nicole was happy, cuddled up in bed, warm and laughing. Waverly, her eyes full of joy, was lying on the pillow next to her, framed by white sheets. God, she was so beautiful.

“Nicole!” that shouting was not coming from Waverly.

Nicole opened her eyes.

“Nicole. Kiddo! Get up. We’re going out today.” Her Dad was tapping on her bedroom door.

“Gimme a few more minutes,” she called back. Fuck the real world right now.

“Your bed will still be here when we get back.” He ceased his knocking on the door. “Be downstairs in twenty minutes.”

Twenty minutes ? Nicole rolled onto the floor, struggled with the duvet caught in her legs, kicked it free and stumbled towards her drawers. 

 She made it downstairs with three minutes spare.

Her dad leaned against the front door, arms crossed. “You wear sunglasses indoors now? What are you, a Rockstar?”

“It’s called fashion, Dad. Look it up.” She grabbed her leather jacket.

Her Dad frowned. “You won’t be cold?”

“I refer you to my previous statement,” Nicole quipped. “Where are we going anyway?”

“We, my dear daughter, are going to the Fall festival.” He grabbed his keys and twirled them around his finger.

“What? Why? Wait- me and you are going to the festival?”

He clutched at his heart as if she’d wounded him greatly. “Do you not enjoy spending time with your old man?”

“I guess.”

“Oh, the joys of having a teenager,” he muttered as he held the door open for her.

“Can you at least tell me why you chose the festival?” Nicole asked, waiting by her Dad’s truck.

“I may have rented us a small stall for the weekend to promote the business, also they have fantastic pumpkin pie every year and you know how I adore seasonal specialities.” He slid into the driver’s seat and started up the truck, pamphlets, business cards and other stall related items already stashed in the bed.

“So, you wanted me for free labour, I see.” Nicole buckled herself in and crossed her arms. “Where’s Mom?”

“Pilates or something. I did also want to spend time with you.” He looked at her over his glasses. "Besides. You'll help me with charming everyone there. You didn't get the hereditary Haught dimples from me for nothing." He flashed her a grin and Nicole rolled her eyes.

"I doubt my dimples will help us sell shit like solar panels."

“Oh, how wrong you are," her Dad sighed then sat forward as if he'd had a fantastic idea. "I know how much of a sweet tooth you have- how about this: help me set up the stall and I’ll buy you some cotton candy?”

Well, Nicole wasn’t going to turn her nose up at an offer like that. “Sure.”

Chapter Text

The cotton candy, sweet and cloying, had Nicole feeling like a kid again as she walked through the festival, looking at local business advertisements, food, drinks, Halloween related paraphernalia and hired fairground rides set up specifically for the event. The school had been involved in a few of the various stalls and events, but Nicole had kept out of the organising, not wanting to give up her weekend to serve bratty children or get covered in fake blood for the house of horrors.

She spotted the cheerleader’s kissing booth and rolled her eyes. Stephanie and Samantha were both manning the booth, each with a queue of gross boys waiting for their turns.


Nicole turned to the shout and spotted Max, queueing up for a kiss with Stephanie Jones. She shook her head but walked over to him. “Dude. I try not to judge people’s kinks but are you really interested in someone who is that much of a bitch?”

Max just shrugged. “The heart wants what the heart wants, Nicole. Besides, some of us like being insulted by hot girls. We’re valid, OK?”

“Whatever you’re into, man.” Nicole held her hands up. “I guess I get it.” They were not far from the front now and Nicole spotted Chrissy who was taking payments and keeping track of the queues.

“Speaking of hot girls,” here Max wiggled his eyebrows before pushing his glasses back up where they had slipped down his nose, “Do you think you could put in a word with Chrissy for me?”

“I thought you were gonna ask that other girl out- the one you asked for advice about?”

“Yeah. She said no.” Max shrugged. “Her loss really.”

Nicole placed a comforting hand at his shoulder. “That sucks.”

“I’m over it.”

“Well, I mean I can introduce you to Chrissy if you want but I can’t promise she’ll be impressed by your Dad’s Prius…”

He glared at her. “Thanks. I guess.”

She laughed at him and stepped forward since they had reached the front of the queue where Chrissy was sitting behind a table.

Chrissy tilted her head. “Nic? You’re not in the line, right? I’m pretty sure Steph would flip.”

“Ha. God, no. I’m just chatting to my friend here, Max.” She slapped his shoulder as she ushered him closer to the booth.

“Ow,” Max whined underneath his breath. “Hi. I’m Max.”

“Uh, hi?” Chrissy raised an eyebrow at Nicole but turned to Max and accepted his money. “You’re next. Just a head’s up: Steph’s not in a great mood so keep it lowkey with the tongue, yeah?” Nicole had to stifle a laugh. Max had no hope with Chrissy or Steph. Bless him.

Max blushed all the way up to his ears. “Yeah. Of course.”

As Max stepped up to take his turn Chrissy lowered her voice to speak to just Nicole. "I need to speak to you soon. I've made up with Waverly. Finally."

"That's great. What do you need to talk about?"

Chrissy shook her head. "Not here. I'll grab you at school."

"Sure. OK?" Nicole frowned but moved away, sensing she was holding up the line if the grumbling behind her was anything to go by. "See you later."

"See you later, Nic."

Nicole’s phone buzzed as she was wandering again, passing the rowdy beer tent.

[Wynonna]: Yo Waves has me 3rd weelin. meet us so i dont look as sad?

[Nicole]: sure - where are you? I’m by the beer tent

[Wynonna]: I got removed from there by ‘security’. we by the churros

Nicole rolled her eyes but made her way across the muddying grass to the churro van she’d been eyeing up earlier, easily spotting Waverly, Wynonna and Champ by a basketball game.

Wynonna waved her over. “What up, Haught-dog?”

“Not much.” She shrugged. “You guys played yet?”

Champ gave her a look up and down. “Me Vs you- how about it, Haught? We’ll each try and win our girl a prize.”

Wynonna and Nicole burst out laughing. “We aren’t-” Wynonna pointed between them. “You know that, right?”

Nicole smirked. “Also, are you sure you want to go up against me? Your track record isn’t great.”

Top tier trash talk,” Wynonna muttered, forming the ‘OK’ sign with her hand.

“We’re doing this,” Champ grumbled, turning to Waverly. “Don’t worry, babe. I’ll win you that rabbit.” He pointed at a terrifying, gargantuan rabbit plushie.

"It's so ugly," Waverly breathed out.

The spotty teen running the stall cut in. “Are you guys playing then, or?”

Nicole grabbed a handful of notes from her pocket and presented them to him. “Sure.”

“Great,” he said, in a tone that sounded as far from ‘great’ as possible. He then ran through the rules, his voice breaking when Wynonna sensed an accidental innuendo and winked at him. Nicole zoned out, watching Waverly tapping her foot against the ground, arms crossed, and eyebrow furrowed.

Basically, score more baskets than Champ and she keeps her pride, beat a certain amount and she gets the hideous rabbit toy. Whatever, she’d spent practically every lonely summer as a kid throwing baskets with her Dad, who was relieved when she stopped showing as much interest in sports since it really wasn’t ‘his thing’ (his words not hers). Eventually, she’d focused on her studies instead of gymnastics or basketball, it didn’t help that she’d been deathly afraid of playing in front of people, but the muscle memory should still be there right?

Champ was grinning by the time they were preparing to start. “This should be easy. Girls can’t play basketball. Everyone knows that.”

Wynonna leaned close to Nicole’s ear and whispered with venom. “ Destroy him.”

The boy counted down and the buzzer to start sounded out.

Nicole blocked out all outward noise, even Champ next to her. All that she saw were the basketballs in front of her and the net. She let her instincts, her memories, lead her as she worked to get as high a score as possible. There were a few near misses that had her gritting her teeth, but all in all she was impressed by her performance. When the end of time buzzer went off Wynonna was clapping her on the back, so she guessed she’d done OK.

“Is there anything you can’t do, Haught-Sauce?” Wynonna asked.

“Yeah,” Nicole replied, a little out of breath, “Biology. Dancing. Relationships. Counting without using my fingers.” She looked at the four fingers she held up. 

The boy at the stall gave them a lethargic thumbs up. “Wow both great tries there, but sadly no one has won a prize this time. Do you want to play again?”

Wynonna sighed. “I can’t believe you didn’t win me that ugly-ass hate crime against bunny-kind. Still, at least you beat Chump.” She whirled round to a red-faced Champ. “What was that about girls not being able to play basketball?”

Champ, eyes firmly on his sneakers, scratched the back of his head. “You’re something else, Haught.” He held his hand out to Nicole. “Well played.”

She shook his hand, pressing firmly, before nodding at him. “Tone down the macho bullshit, alright?”

“OK. Please don’t tell anyone about this.”

Nicole rolled her eyes. “I won’t.”

“I make no such promises,” Wynonna chimed in. “Can we do the shooting one now? I wanna win my big ginger girlfriend a goldfish or something.”

“Please don’t get a goldfish,” Nicole pleaded.

Hanging at the back of their group, since Wynonna had proclaimed she was gonna beat Champ at the next game, Nicole bumped her shoulder against a quiet Waverly. "Are you OK?"

Waverly nodded, leaned slightly into the contact of their shoulders before putting the space between them again. "Yeah. Just a little… worn out, I guess."

They approached the shooting range, Wynonna trash talking Champ non-stop whilst they set up.

Nicole gave Waverly a concerned look. "You need some sugar or something? Cotton Candy? My treat?"

Waverly studied her face for a moment. "Yeah. That sounds nice."

"Hey," Nicole addressed Wynonna and Champ who were now holding their rifles, ready to start. "We're just grabbing some cotton candy. Meet you back here in a bit?"

"Sure," Wynonna nodded. "Shame you'll miss my insane skills though."

"I'm sure I'll live," Nicole replied, starting the walk across the grass with Waverly at her side.

They took in the sights, the families and friends wearing thick coats and hats, their faces full of excitement. They relished in the smells of hot dogs, burgers, sweet treats and hot drinks often with a shot of liquor to help keep warm. The excited squeals of children, shouts of victory or screams on rides, broke the chill night air.

Nicole stuck close to Waverly in the crowd, searching for any sign that she should give more space, not wanting to make Waverly uncomfortable, but found none.

Nicole ran a hand through her hair. "Feel free to not say anything, but are you really OK? Maybe I'm not the best person to talk to, but I'm here, if you need me."

Waverly looked in her eyes and Nicole hoped she could sense that she was earnest. "You're pretty great, Nicole." She smiled. "Rare, like a unicorn or something."

Really? A unicorn? She couldn't have picked a cooler, or better yet, a real animal? "Are you making fun of me?"

"No no no!" Waverly stumbled through a recovery, cheeks flushed. "I meant, like, you're different to most people here." Her eyes widened. "I mean different in a good way."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"You should." Waverly gave her a smile, eyes crinkling at the corners, then sighed. "I'm OK, really. I just have a lot on my mind at the minute with school and stuff, and Champ acting like we're together when we're not, and then Wynonna says she's going to be leaving us the minute she finishes school? It's a lot, you know?"

"It is," Nicole agreed, reaching for her wallet as they joined the short line for cotton candy, "and it's normal to be worried or scared about these things, but you should remember who you are." She tentatively took Waverly's hand, feeling butterflies when Waverly squeezed back. "You're Waverly Earp: nicest person in Purgatory, as voted by the people, cleverest student in Purgatory High, fantastic cyclist, despite what dickbag Chad Davis says, and head of a cheer squad that performs far better than the dreadful team deserves."

Waverly beamed. "I feel like some of those were only partly serious." She held Nicole's hand in both of hers. "But thank you, Nicole."

Nicole laughed, and tried to ignore the blush on her cheeks as Waverly slowly let go of her hand, fingertips lingering across her knuckles. "I was deadly serious." She realised then that they were at the front of the queue and she placed an order for the largest stick of cotton candy.

Waverly was at her cutest in her fluffy jacket with a huge stick of cotton candy and a mischievous grin. "Hey- we should go in the haunted house!"

"You sure?" Nicole's mouth was dry. Going into a haunted house with Waverly, in the dark? She didn't know what would be more terrifying, or exhilarating, the attempted spooks or being in Waverly's presence. "What about Champ? And Wynonna?"

Waverly grabbed her phone and sent off a couple of texts. "Champ can go hang out with his friends and Wynonna can meet us there. Let's go!"

If you asked Nicole how she managed to find herself in these situations she couldn't tell you. Yet, here she was, stumbling through a dark set of rooms, Waverly's fingers locked in hers. 

There was a thud nearby and Nicole let out a short squeal, embarrassingly high pitched, as Waverly yelped and pulled her further. They jogged into a hall of mirrors, their reflections, warped and twisted, creeped along with them as they slowed to catch their breaths. They moved off the main path, meandering rather than searching avidly for a way out.

"You're a bit of a scaredy cat, huh?" Waverly teased, slowing her gait and turning to face Nicole.

"I-uh." She tugged at her jacket collar. "Yeah, I am."

Waverly smirked, hands on her hips. "It's a good thing you've got me here." There was quiet now, as they stood in an enclosed corner of the mirror covered maze, and Nicole sensed a change between them, in the way Waverly looked at her, over her, with intent behind her eyes. 

"It is," Nicole whispered into the low-lit space. She didn't know why she was whispering but it felt like anything louder could shatter this moment.

Waverly didn't say anything further, she simply reached out, placed her hand at Nicole's collar, and looked up.

Nicole was hot. Flushed and wanting, she marvelled at the smallest gesture from Waverly sending her entire body into an anxious mess. Her hands tingled at her sides, needing, but scared to touch, to take any more than Waverly was willing to give.

Still Waverly didn't speak, but watched Nicole closely, before scrunching her grip on Nicole's leather jacket into a fist. She pulled Nicole down to her, joining their lips in a kiss that was imbued with a desperation that Nicole felt in her very core.

Waverly tasted like cotton candy and goddamn sunshine, and possibly bad decisions too, but Nicole couldn't find it in herself to care. 

It was like they had been holding back for so long, desire simmering below the surface that had bubbled up and finally broken free in a frantic torrent.

Nicole cradled Waverly's jaw between her hands, threaded her fingers through Waverly's hair, tentatively brushed her tongue against Waverly's.

And that was her whole world: Waverly, Waverly, Waverly .

Shaky hands fumbled with the zipper on Nicole's jacket, pulling it down, and Waverly pushed a hand under Nicole's shirt collar. She sighed into the kiss, moved her hand across the hollow of Nicole's collarbone, as if she needed to feel bare skin on bare skin.

Waverly broke the kiss, gasping in breaths and moving her hand to grip at Nicole's shoulder. "I want to-"

Nicole would, unfortunately, never find out what Waverly was going to say in that moment.

"What the fuck ?" Wynonna. Why? Why did it have to be Wynonna who stopped, a few steps away, on the main path they had stumbled off, looking at them with shock, and worse, betrayal.

They'd already leaped apart but Waverly stepped even further back, bumping into the mirror behind her and letting out a choked noise that didn't form a word.

Nicole, red, panting, and with her shirt and jacket yanked to the side, exposing her collarbone and shoulder, wheezed at the fire burning behind Wynonna's blue eyes. "Wynonna, please, it's-"

"If you're about to say this ," she pointed between the two of them, "is not what it looks like, I have to say the boat has sailed with that one, Nicole." Fuck. Wynonna hadn't even used a stupid nickname. "My little sister, huh? Enjoy the fish, best friend." Wynonna threw whatever she was holding at Nicole's face and stormed away from them, swearing and shoving a mirror to the ground on her way.

Nicole caught the object that slapped her in the face and looked down to see a clear plastic bag full of water and a single goldfish.

Waverly was already running after Wynonna. "Wynonna, stop. Please!"

Nicole stared at the miserable fish, alone in her hands. It stared back.

Chapter Text

Laying on her stomach on her bed, feet up and crossed at the ankles behind her, Nicole stared at the fishbowl on the side table. She’d named the goldfish Doctor Gerald Palmerston. He was mischievous, vapid, and, currently, her only friend. Or, at least, that was what it felt like. 

Wynonna was ignoring her, and it was fucking painful. 

It was made even worse knowing that Wynonna would definitely have had some stupid pranks planned for Halloween that Nicole would’ve pretended she didn’t want to join in with.

Having driven to school alone all week, Nicole had spent some lunch breaks with Robin and Chrissy, Waverly pointedly avoiding her gaze, and others with Dolls or Jeremy.

Now, after spending the first half of the weekend eating chocolate, she was seriously missing the thorn in her side that was Wynonna Earp.

There was a knock at her door and her Mom called through. “Nikki, sweetie, can I come in?”

“I don’t want a margarita, Mom.”

Her Mom opened the door and gave her a ‘don’t be stupid’ look. “It’s a Sunday, Nicole. You know I don’t drink on Sundays.” She stepped into the room, eyes raking over the empty tub of ice cream on the desk, the piles of clothes strewn about the floor, and the blinds, half closed where Nicole had jammed the mechanism and told it to fuck itself. “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, honey?”

Nicole sat up, shuffled to sit against the headboard. “Nothing?” she tried.

“We may not have the closest relationship, Nicole, but I know you, I know when something is up.” She sat on the bed next to Nicole, her bangles and bracelets jingling as she placed her hands in her lap and waited.

“I…” Nicole pulled her knees up to her chest, laid her arms across them. “I had a falling out with Wynonna, and I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me.” She could feel tears pricking at the backs of her eyes, but she blinked them back. “I feel like I’ve lost her, Mom.”

Her Mom reached out, put an arm around Nicole’s shoulder and drew her to her chest. “It’s OK, sweetie. It’s OK.”

Nicole let herself be held, let herself break, let herself cry into her mother’s shoulder.

Kissing the top of Nicole’s head, her Mom said, “It doesn’t get easier when you’re older, falling out with those we love, but you get better at talking things through. Whatever you did, I am sure Wynonna will come around." She stroked Nicole's hair in a soothing gesture that Nicole hadn't felt for years. "Sometimes people just need time and, if you’ve caused hurt, you have to respect that and respect how they heal. And, never underestimate how important a genuine apology can be.”

“I know,” Nicole managed to choke out between sobs, “It just sucks.”

“It does,” her Mom agreed, handing over a tissue for Nicole to wipe at her disgustingly tear-covered, snotty face. “It does.”

The ball whooshed through the net, falling into Nicole’s waiting arms.

Dolls smirked, hands coming down from his shooting pose. “Nothing but net, baby!”

“Keep up that cocky attitude now but we’ll see who wins,” Nicole replied, already dribbling the basketball back out to the centre of her drive.

“Call it cocky, I call it confident.” He made a lunge for the ball, brushing it with his fingertips but not able to dispossess Nicole.

She danced out of his range, turned to the net and took her shot, fist pumping when it hit the ring once before dropping through the net. “Too early to write off Haught!” She did a stupid dance and froze abruptly when she caught the flick of curtains falling back from Waverly’s window across the street.

Dolls was slow to regather the ball this time. “Have you made up with the Earp’s yet?” he asked, resting the ball against his side as he walked to the starting point.

Nicole ran a hand through her hair, collecting the sheen of sweat from her forehead. “Neither of them will talk to me.” She sighed but faced Dolls, eyebrow raised. “I thought you were on Wynonna’s shitlist too?”

He shrugged. “Sort of. It’s hard to tell with Wynonna. One minute she’s like an open book, the next she’s so closed off.”

“She’s guarded,” Nicole said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to shoot your shot, X.”

“Is that what you’ve done with Waverly?”

“Hey- I give out good advice, OK? Just because I don’t take it myself doesn’t mean it’s not good advice,” she muttered, eyes on the concrete.

He used her distraction to bounce the ball past her and score another point

“That’s cheating!”

Dolls looked around them. “I don’t see any referees.”

“But that is where you are wrong, young Xavier.” Nicole’s Dad stepped out of the garage side door. “I think that was a fragrant violation of basketball code seven zero three.”

Dolls looked confused for a moment whilst Nicole sighed and said, “Dad doesn’t understand sports.”

“That may be so,” her Dad said, undeterred, “But I have bought you a present.”

“OK, now I’m interested.” Nicole passed the ball to Dolls and turned to her Dad.

Her Dad gave her a grin and opened the large front door of the garage, holding his hands out in a jazzy pose towards a pile of metal parts that had been deposited on the ground. “Ta-da! Am I father of the year, yet?”

“What- is this an engine?” she ventured.

“That it is.” He turned back to Dolls. “My Nicole is so clever.” He stepped closer, stroking his hand along the top of the cylinder head. “Your mother mentioned you were having a tough time at the moment so I thought we could spend some time replacing the engine in your car. You know, Haught’s working together like we used to.”

She almost cried again. She was so emotional at the moment- hormones? She was gonna blame it on hormones. “Thanks, Dad. I’d like that.” She looked over the parts, newer than the junk that was rattling around in her car at the minute. “You sure this will fit? It’s bigger.”

“That’s where I have a few ideas I wanted to run past you- I put the plans somewhere…” he trailed off, searching on the cluttered side through tools and papers before brandishing a few pages of designs he’d drawn up for general enhancements. “Ah-Ha! Take a look at these, honey.”

Dolls gave Nicole a smile. “I’ll leave you two to it. I’ve got homework to get started on.”

“You sure?” Nicole asked, excited about spending time with her Dad but not wanting Dolls to feel abandoned halfway through their hangout.

“I am,” he replied. “Have fun, grease monkey.”

Her Dad gave him a nod then pushed his glasses further up his nose. “So, what do you think- I’m keen on Mark Three, personally.”

“Mark Three looks good.” Nicole studied the blueprints.

Her Dad placed a hand over hers, drawing her eyes up to his serious gaze. “No, Nicole. Don’t say what you think I want to hear. Tell me, which one is in your heart?”

She rolled her eyes and laughed at his silliness. She did miss spending time with him. “My heart is telling me that Mark Three is the one, Dad.”

“Oh, good.” He took the other blueprints from her and chucked them into a pile on the side. “I would have disowned you if you’d chosen wrong.”

Wanting to avoid the spotlights of teen drama, Nicole had taken to spending most of her lunches alone. With the cold becoming biting as it turned early November, she treasured finding a quiet corner in school and reading or playing on her phone.

One such day she was sitting in her car, heat on full blast, as she flicked through the pages of The Great Gatsby, the upcoming book for her English class. There was a tap on her window, and she rolled it down slightly to speak to Chrissy, who was bundled up in a large coat and woollen mittens.

“Cute mittens,” Nicole said.

“Don’t mock me- they keep my hands warm.” Chrissy gave her a grin and nodded at the car. “Can I join you?”

“Sure.” Nicole closed her book and placed it on the dashboard as Chrissy came around to the other side and sat in the passenger seat.

“Nic, we need to talk about Waverly.” Guess there was no small talk, then.

“We do?” Nicole’s mouth was dry, the heat coming out of the vents suddenly stifling.

“I’m coming to you as a friend, and partially for selfish reasons but we’ll get to that.” Chrissy took off her mittens and folded them in her lap. “I didn’t realise before, but I think she does have feelings for you.”

Nicole folded her arms. “She doesn’t have feelings that I understand. One minute she’s seemingly into me, then the next she’s giving me the cold shoulder and messing about with Champ. Would you do that if you actually cared for someone?”

“You need to think how things looked from her perspective as well.” Chrissy turned farther in her seat, twisting to face her. “I know how you felt, and that every time she didn’t seem into you, she pushed you back towards me, but she thought you were playing us off against each other. Plus, no one thinks you do serious relationships."

“I wasn’t- that wasn’t my intention. I thought she was toying with me and didn’t like me like that.”

I know that, but she doesn’t.” Chrissy sighed. 

“It doesn’t matter anyway.” Nicole twisted her hands together in her lap. “Wynonna doesn’t exactly approve of me and her sister.”

Chrissy frowned and placed a hand on Nicole’s shoulder. “Wynonna will want whatever makes you two happy. I’m sure of it.”

“I hope so. I’m still not sure Waverly is ready for something serious between us, though." Nicole sighed, her eyes studying the steering wheel. "She’s spent her whole life tailoring who she is to the people she’s with, trying to please everyone. It’s a hard habit to break and I want to believe she’s figuring out what she really wants, but I don't know if that's me."

“That’s deep, Nic.”

Nicole felt a laugh bubble up from her chest. “Wynonna once said I was a walking bumper sticker.”

Chrissy matched her grin. “She always has a way with words. Speaking of words, I think we should maybe address the elephant in the car.”


“Well, now I’ve made up with Waverly, and I’m pretty sure she has some sort of feelings for you, girl code dictates that this,” she pointed between the two of them, “is going to have to be a friends only situation from now on.”

Nicole nodded. “Of course.” She gave Chrissy a smile. “Are you sure it’s not due to Pete York taking you on a fantastic date? How did that go anyway?”

“Don’t tease me! It went as horribly as you can probably imagine but I did get ‘saved’ by another guy who gave me a ride home and I have to say I enjoyed his company more.”

“Sounds romantic." Nicole wiggled her eyebrows. "Who is it?”

Chrissy blushed. “He- well it’s kind of complicated. He’s into Waverly, I think, so let’s just say it wouldn’t harm my case if you finally got your shit together and sorted out your thing with Waverly.”

“Huh.” Nicole nodded. “Wait. You like Champ?”

“Ew. God, no.” Chrissy pulled a disgusted face then giggled. “His name is Perry. He’s in your year too.”

“Oh- yeah, I kinda know him. He’s an alright dude.”

“He’s nice, and really fucking rich. And hot. So, he ticks all the boxes.”

Nicole grinned. “Get it, girl!” Chrissy deserved someone who could commit to her and treat her well. Nicole didn't know if Perry was that, but he'd be a damn sight better than she was.

“Either way I know he’s thinking of asking Waverly out, so you need to take your chance, Haught, or we’ll both be miserable.” She put her mittens back on. “No pressure, or anything.”

“Yeah, thanks for that.”

Chrissy's eyes took in the book on the dashboard. “George shoots Gatsby,” she said, hand on the door to exit.

“You- Chrissy! What the fuck?” Nicole yelled at Chrissy’s retreating form.

Nicole sat there, dumbfounded, as she shook her head, hearing Chrissy shout, “Payback’s a bitch, Nic,” over her shoulder.

Payback was, indeed, a bitch.

On a Thursday morning, because Thursdays were always good days, Nicole waited at her locker for Wynonna to show up. She dug her hands into her pockets and searched for the classic, confident stroll down the hall of her best friend.

Except she didn’t arrive, at least not before the bell for first period called out and Nicole reluctantly pushed off the locker and shuffled to her class.

Thursdays sucked.

That evening, wanting a change of scenery, Nicole drove the D&D squad, after they’d finished playing, to Shorty’s for burgers.

They claimed a large booth by the back corner and talked about how close their characters had been to dying in an insanely good boss battle that Jeremy must have worked on for weeks. He had a smug grin as they congratulated him, until his face dropped when their server walked over.

Jeremy’s eyes widened and he looked to Nicole then back. “Hey Waverly, how are you? I didn’t know you worked here? How-how long have you worked here?” Jeremy asked three questions in one breath in a serious bout of verbal diarrhoea that was unfortunately mimicking Nicole’s mind.

“Hi Jeremy,” Waverly, in a cute Shorty’s T-shirt, gave him a smile, “I’m fine, thank you. How are you? I’ve only had a few shifts so far, still new, so go easy on me, OK?” she joked, with an easy charm that had been making all of Purgatory love her for years.

“I’m great, thanks Waverly.”

“That’s good to hear. So, what can I get you guys?” She looked around the table, eyes not stopping on Nicole, but drifting past.

They listed off their orders, Waverly charming and professional throughout whilst Nicole’s nails left crescent shaped marks on her palms beneath the table.

When Waverly left to place their order, her eyes stopped on Nicole, something unreadable but intense behind them that had Nicole frozen in her seat. She let out a breath she hadn’t even noticed she was holding once Waverly was across the other side of the diner.

“Great,” Lily groaned. “I guess we’re going to have to leave a massive tip.”

“Yup,” Jeremy popped the ‘p’ and gave Nicole a sympathetic look.

One of the lacklustre ceiling lights in the bathroom was flickering and Nicole glared at it as she washed her hands, only turning her head when the door behind her opened. Her eyes met Waverly’s in the mirror.

There was always something magnetic in the hazel of Waverly’s gaze, and it held Nicole fast where she stood.

Waverly stepped closer, came up to the counter and leaned against it, hands on the edge.

In this crappy diner, in this crappy town, under the crappy broken light, Waverly had the audacity to look striking, to look like she deserved no less than to be cherished like a Goddess. Yet, if Nicole had the words to tell Waverly how she felt, she couldn’t find them. Not in that moment. Not when her insides burned with a fervour that threatened to consume her.

“Waverly- I.” Her voice was scratchy.

Waverly moved closer, placed a hand on Nicole’s cheek. “I don’t want to talk right now.” Her thumb stroked against Nicole’s lower lip. “I’m not-" Her eyes were wounded, wide, wild. “I’m not ready for that, yet. Is that OK?”

“I don’t understand,” Nicole breathed out against Waverly’s thumb, her heart, her body was a thumping mess of turned on confusion. She wanted to talk things out, but her mouth was dry, her tongue betrayed her, and instead she leaned closer. The gravity of Waverly Earp was irresistible.

Waverly's hand came to the back of Nicole's neck and she ran her fingers through the short hairs there. "I don't understand either," she said, and then they were kissing again, and Nicole couldn't, wouldn't stop when being this close to Waverly felt this good.

Nicole held Waverly at the waist, brushed her hands under her shirt and relished in the gasp as her palms pressed against the warm skin of Waverly's stomach. Her brain was fuelled only with the desire to please Waverly, to greedily take anything Waverly would give.

The door swung open and they broke apart to see a red-faced Lily. "Ah fuck. Sorry guys. I need to pee." 

Nicole left a gap between her and Waverly and ran a hand through her hair as Lily awkwardly made her way to a cubicle.

"I've uh- got to go. Curtis is giving me a ride home and I finished my shift like twenty minutes ago." Waverly laughed loudly in the quiet room. "He's probably having an aneurysm right now wondering where I've got to!" She was making a speedy exit before Nicole could even recover.

Nicole leaned against the counter, staring off at the flickering light when Lily came out of the cubicle to wash her hands.

"You've got some serious game," Lily said.

"That's the problem. I think she thinks I'm just a player and I don't do relationships or something." Nicole sighed and stuck her hands in her pockets.

Lily dried her hands and gave Nicole a cheeky grin. "Yeah, I heard a rumour you had a threesome with two cheerleaders."

"I think I'd know if that had happened!"

"You've got to be honest about your feelings. You could ask her to the Homecoming dance next week? Or not. I don't care. She seems pretty into you either way." Lily shrugged and opened the door. "We're getting dessert, right?"

If only things were that simple. "Of course we are."

Chapter Text

Nicole was drunk.

Apparently, that was better than thinking about how messy stuff was at the minute. Waverly and her had been reckless, stupid, letting their bodies get carried away when Waverly probably wasn’t ready for a new relationship, much less one with another girl, and, without speaking to Wynonna, it had destroyed a friendship that was so important.

Apparently (pt. 2), being drunk just made her think about this stuff more? What was with that?


It was hard, OK?

There was always an intensity every time her and Waverly kissed that naturally escalated until Nicole was left wanting a lot more. 

And then there was Wynonna.

Would Wynonna forgive her if she promised there wasn’t and wouldn’t ever be anything between her and Waverly? Was Wynonna ever going to be her friend again?

So, Nicole had dragged herself out to some shitty party across town and had proceeded to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. You know, a sensible, measured reaction to her current distress.

She was with a group of people she didn't even like. She didn't really know why.

Nicole slapped Champ on the back, causing him to wheeze, and poured them another shot each.

"Damn, Haught. You go hard on the shots." He gave her an appreciative look.

"No point in half assing it. Go Haught or go home I always say." She knew she was slurring her words, but her tongue felt too large, like she couldn't quite construct the correct sounds each time she spoke.

"Damn right!" Champ clinked his shot glass against hers, spilling half of the contents over their hands, and downed it.

The burn of tequila reminded Nicole of her party. Waverly. Their first kiss that felt like it was buried under her skin, forever imbedded where Waverly had touched her, her hands, her wrists, her arms, her neck, her jaw.

"Champ," she started, then hiccupped. "Bud. Have you heard that this Perry guy is gonna ask Waverly out?" She was such a little shit stirrer, but she wanted to see his reaction.

"What?" His mouth hung open comically. "He's so cool, and handsome, and rich…"

Chad, who was barely able to keep his eyes open and had removed his shirt at some point, gave Champ a pat on the head. "He's not the Champster though!"

Champ stood straighter. "You're right, dude! She would never pick that dick over me."

Nicole made a tsk noise out of the side of her mouth. "I don't know man, have you seen Perry?"

"I thought you were into girls," Chad hummed.

"I'm gay, not blind." 

Champ grabbed a fistful of his hair. "I've been gluten-free sooooo long to keep this hot bod, and she's gonna leave me for Perry?!'

"You probably shouldn't be gluten-free unless you're actually celiac or whatever," Nicole mumbled.

"No. I'm not having this. I'll fight him. Where is he?"

"I don't think that's the best idea," Nicole warned him. She had first-hand experience of how terrible at fighting Champ was.

"I could take him."

"Doesn't mean you should, though."

"You're a good fighter," Champ said. "Why don't you help me? Whaddya say?"

"I've sworn off fighting. That's all in my past," Nicole said, like some mysterious stranger in a western movie.

Champ stuck his tongue out at her. "Boring."

"Yeah." Nicole could feel herself getting roped into something here, so she politely excused herself. "I've got to go puke or whatever, so I'll see you guys later."

She exited the kitchen and stumbled out into the garden, yet again craving a cigarette to calm her nerves and combat the freezing air.

Of course, that was when she spotted Waverly for the first time that evening, looking as stunning as always, and speaking to Stephanie of all people.

Nicole made a beeline for them, trying her best to look as charming as possible. It was made harder when faced with Steph's signature glare.

"Oh, great. What does she want?" Steph said, scrunching her nose up like Nicole smelled bad. Did she smell bad? She sure hoped not.

"Hey. Waverly. Could I talk to you?" This was it. Time to talk it out or something.

"Just fuck me then? Ugh." Steph stormed away, but that was a problem for future Nicole to deal with.

"Are you drunk?" Waverly asked.

Nicole dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand. "I had a few tequilas."

"Are you OK? Do you need someone to drive you home?"

"S'fine. I'm with Dolls." Nicole shrugged. "I need to tell you something. Me and Chrissy were just friends with benefits. Just casual. I'm single. Available." She gave her best smile, knowing she wasn't perfectly articulating her deep feelings, but trying her drunken best.

Waverly frowned. "Oh. I haven't done a 'friends with benefits' thing before. I don’t know if that’s really my style.”

“There’s something else, Waverly, I-” Nicole spewed the contents of her stomach, mainly tequila at this point, onto the grass.


It was ridiculous. Preposterous. Baffling. Nicole was unable to form words, her thoughts whirring with disbelief and anger. “Sir- you can’t- she’s not here. I can’t do this on my own!”

“You’re friends. You two will work it out if you want to pass the class.” He sat behind his desk, eyes bored.

“Please. Is there not another project I can do for the class- a paper- a quiz?” she pleaded.

“Need I remind you why you didn’t get to choose your partner for this project? You were late to class, Miss Haught.” He shuffled the papers on his desk. “Take your child, and good luck,” he stated with a finality that Nicole knew she couldn’t overturn.

So, she sucked it up. She could do this. Nicole sighed, turned around and grabbed the doll/baby thing that was her charge for the next week. 

Stupid project. Stupid Wynonna not showing up to class and therefore being the last available partner. Stupid Nicole for turning up late so everyone else had already partnered up. Stupid fake baby that would be the judge of whether she passed this, frankly useless, health class. Maybe she could risk failing? As it wasn’t a ‘proper’ class it wouldn’t stop her from graduating. It would look poor on her record though.

So, she guessed she was going to try out being a single parent for a week. The main reason this was added to the curriculum was apparently to teach responsibility, but also to scare all the kids about the consequences of unprotected sex. Nicole reckoned it was highly unlikely she’d ever have an accidental pregnancy, but she appreciated her school even covering topics like sex and relationships at all.

She looked at the plastic little boy who was now her charge. Fake blonde baby hair, ugly scrunched up face, and adorable toes. Pretty accurate to what she’d seen of real babies then. Apparently, he would even cry when distressed. Brilliant. There was a machine thingy inside that measured just how distressed he got and how often, which would be used as part of her grade for the project, and Wynonna's grade too, but she hadn’t turned up to class or spoken to Nicole.

The pack of equipment which came with the doll included a little stroller that folded up, a bottle to imitate feeding, a sling to attach the baby to your front whilst walking, and some clothes. Nicole dragged the baby stuff along with her and towards her car, thanking the Gods that her health class was last period so she wouldn’t have to lug everything around for the rest of the day.

She decided to at least try to let Wynonna know about this and, since she’d not been responding to texts or calls, she found herself, baby attached to her front, ringing the bell of the McCready household.

She guessed this would be it: make or break for their friendship.

Gus opened the door, taking a step back in shock. “Nicole- that’s not a real baby is it?”

Nicole’s eyes widened, looking down where the plastic head was against her chest. “Oh, no ma’am. It’s a school thing- can I speak to Wynonna please. It’s about this. It’s very important.”

Gus, recovered from the shock, squinted her eyes. “I don’t know what’s happened, and I’m not sure I really want to, but you’ve caused an absolute ruckus in my household, young lady.”

Nicole flushed. “I’m so sorry. Please, Mrs McCready, I just need to talk to Wynonna and then I’ll be on my way.”

A voice called through from the living room. “Let the girl in, Gus. God knows I need whatever teenage drama this is resolved for the good of my health,” Curtis said.

Gus rolled her eyes but stepped back, allowing Nicole to shuffle into the hall, head tilted down in thanks.

Curtis caught her eye and gave her a wink. “Hello, troublemaker.”

“Mr-I mean, Curtis, sir. Thank you, for letting me in. I promise I won’t trespass on your hospitality for long.” Nicole was red-faced and sweating before she’d even made it farther than the living room door.

“Good,” Gus sighed. “Off you go then. She’s in her room.” Gus dismissed her.

Nicole’s heart was pounding by the time she was hovering outside of Wynonna’s door, and it wasn’t just from her jog up the stairs. Although, she probably could work on some more cardio. She knocked on the door in a rapid pace that belied her nervousness.

“Whaddya want?” Wynonna shouted through the door. As welcoming as always.

“It’s Nicole - I really need to speak to you about something. Can I come in? Please?”

“Was I not clear enough? I know you’re pretty shit at reading people’s intentions sometimes, but Jesus Nicole. Fuck off.” Ouch.

Nicole swallowed the lump in her throat. Wynonna could be so sharp, always knowing how to hit people where it hurt. “I- Wynonna I’m sorry, OK?” She felt tears pooling at the corners of her eyes. “ So sorry, but I need you to open the door. It’s about- well it’s better if you see.”

There was a pause in which Nicole’s gut twisted painfully, her sweating palms resting against the cold door.

Eventually Nicole heard a frustrated sigh and the stomping of Wynonna’s feet against the floor. She swung the door open, a glare on her face until it morphed into astonishment as her eyes slid to the baby strapped to Nicole’s front. A breath. “OK, Juno , what the fuck?”

Nicole felt that however the next few minutes went could possibly break her. Why did she have a habit of letting the Earp girls have the power to hurt her in the palm of their hands? “It’s the health class project,” she said. “Surprise: we’re co-parents for a week.” She gave Wynonna a weak, pathetic smile, her eyes still watery.

Wynonna stared at the blue hat on the baby’s head. “What’s his name?”

“Frank,” Nicole answered, “Frank Red Haught.”

Wynonna froze for a second before bursting into a sputtering laugh. “Fuck- like Frank’s red-hot sauce? Goddammit, Nicole. I was about to tell you to enjoy single parenthood, but I don’t think I can leave little Frank like that.”

Nicole laughed with her, all relief and shaking knees. “Can we talk, properly?”

“Sure.” Wynonna met her eyes, nodded and stepped back, allowing Nicole into her bedroom.

Feeling about six feet taller, Nicole skipped into the trash heap that was Wynonna’s bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed.

Wynonna closed her door and sat next to her. 

“Have I told you I’m sorry?” Nicole fixed her earnest gaze on Wynonna’s face.

“You have,” Wynonna replied, “and I should admit that I think I overreacted a little. You know how I am about protecting Waverly.”

“I know, and I should’ve told you before anything happened.”

“I’m not going to get stuck being the middleman between you two,” Wynonna warned.

Nicole frowned. “I would never ask that of you, Wy.”

“Good. You’re both big girls who can work things out for yourselves.” She raised an eyebrow.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Nicole muttered, looking down at the clothes covering the floor.

“I will only say this before we put a lock on talking about you two, alright? You need to speak to her, Nic. I’ve seen her upset about relationships before but never like this. It’s like she’s going through some quarter life crisis or something.”

Nicole nodded but before she could reply Frank started wailing from his pouch. She rooted through her rucksack, fumbling for the little fake bottle that would probably shut him up. 

Wynonna groaned. “Ugh. I take it all back. Leave me out of this parenting shit. 'Hit it then quit it' is the way to go.”

“He’s just hungry,” Nicole explained, making shushing noises subconsciously to calm a baby that wasn’t actually real. She couldn’t help herself. The longer she spent with him, the more she started treating him like he was real.

“Hungry? I thought he was a doll?” Wynonna looked horrified.

Nicole finally found the bottle and held it aloft in triumph, just as Wynonna’s door was flung open and Waverly glowered at them. “Wynonna, what on earth are you doing in here?” She took in the scene before her. “Oh- what? Nicole? Is that real?”

“Yeah she just kidnapped a random baby,” Wynonna snarked. “No. Of course it’s not real. It’s the health class project for seniors- they did it last year too, remember?”

“Right.” Waverly’s eyes kept moving, anywhere but Nicole’s. “I’ll just- I’ll leave you guys to it then.”

Nicole wanted to say something but instead she bit her tongue, watching Waverly leave the room, closing the door softly behind her.

“Fuck, dude.” Wynonna sighed. “Frank’s gonna have a complicated family situation.”

Since Nicole had mentioned friends with benefits to Waverly and almost confessed her feelings, before promptly barfing up on her shoes, Waverly had been avoiding her. Not obviously. She still spoke politely whenever necessary, but Nicole couldn’t help feeling like they’d taken two steps back again. She guessed Waverly wasn’t ready to have an honest conversation about them yet without freaking out.

Nicole understood. She’d panicked after her first kiss with a girl and genuinely feared she’d set fire each time her parents had tried to take her to church after.

Whatever. Waverly would get there with time. She was sure. Plus, she had more important things to focus on right now like school and rebuilding her car engine with her dad.

Her phone rang on the couch next to her and she raised an eyebrow at the caller ID before picking up.


“Hey Nic. We have a code red,” Chrissy greeted in one hurried breath.

“Your Dad has another heart problem?”

“What? No. I told you he’s been eating better, didn’t I? It’s code red as in Perry has asked Waverly to the Homecoming dance and she said yes!”

Nicole’s hand tightened around her phone. “Fuck.”

“My thoughts exactly. We can still sort this out- you just need to tell her that you are serious about her.”

“No. I’m done. I need to have more self-respect and Waverly clearly isn't ready.”

“It’s not about respect, Nicole. It’s about her thinking you don’t do serious relationships. That the only times you are bold enough to even get close to addressing the chemistry between you is when you’re drunk.”

“I don’t want to be anyone’s second best,” Nicole growled. “I wanna be her first choice.” 

Chrissy laughed down the phone with a cynical tone. “You don’t think that’s exactly how I feel? It’s not always that simple. People don’t always get things right, or know what they want, or have the courage to go for what they truly want.”

“It shouldn’t be on me to have to risk everything when Waverly continues to give me mixed signals,” Nicole argued.

“Maybe you’re right, Nic. Just- I think you should speak to her before it’s too late.”

Nicole laughed. “What? Are they killing people at Homecoming, now?”

“No. It’s just kinda romantic and, like, loads of couples become official there.”

“I appreciate you telling me this, but it doesn’t change my mind.”

“Alright,” Chrissy sighed. “Did I mention they’ve got an ice sculpture this year?”

“Ah shit. That is really romantic.”

Nicole was covered in oil and grease and sweat. Ugh.

Her Dad was holding Frank, bobbing him up and down whilst he watched her work on her car engine. "Wait. You might want to adjust this," he pointed to a valve.

Nicole glared up at him. "I might want to ask my Dad to help me instead of just standing there?"

He let out an affronted noise. "I am looking after my grandson! If you hadn't gone and had an irresponsible teen pregnancy…"

They burst into laughter and Nicole wiped her hands on her jeans. "Very funny."

Her Dad gave her a serious look. "It will feel far more satisfying if you finish this all with your own hands."

"Alright alright. Spare me the hard work sermon."

"But I had it so well-rehearsed," he complained.

“Of course you did.” Nicole rolled her eyes but focused on her work, before glancing up to see her Dad giving her a worried look. “What?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to your Homecoming dance tonight, kiddo? You don’t have to have a date. Your old man went stag to all of his school dances and, let’s just say, I did alright for myself.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“Ew, Dad. I don’t want to think about what you got up to at your High school dances.”

“I can boogie with the best of them.” He gave her a wink. “Look, it’s your last chance to go to one before you leave school.”

“I’m good, maybe I'll go to prom in a few months.”

“Alright.” He patted Frank on the head. “I won’t mention it again.”

Nicole nodded and tried not to think about Homecoming, and Waverly going with someone else. She thought again about the phone call with Chrissy. She honestly wasn’t sure what to make of it. Would revealing how deep her true feelings were ruin her friendship with Waverly forever?

Thinking of Waverly, Nicole looked up from her car, parked in the garage facing the McCready house, and watched as Waverly stepped onto the front porch. God, she was gorgeous. She was wearing a floor length gown and her hair was pulled up into a bun with an intricate braid surrounding it, her smile radiant as she chatted excitedly over her phone.

Nicole knew she was staring, wistfully as always, and her Dad hummed beside her. “Young Waverly looks beautiful. Whoever’s taking her to Homecoming is pretty lucky, eh?”

“Yeah,” Nicole sighed.

“Haught! Where you at, Ginger Spice?” Wynonna, who Nicole hadn’t even noticed walking across the road, was strolling up the Haught drive.

“Here, Wynonna!” Nicole wiped off her greasy hands and waved.

“We’ve got a code red, Red.” Wynonna rested her arm heavily against Nicole’s car, then pulled a face when it groaned.

“Hands off my baby, Wynonna. She’s fragile.”

Wynonna held her hands up. “Fair enough, Danny Zuko.”

“What’s the code red? Did you realise you’ve worn the same bra for three weeks without washing it again?” 

Wynonna looked down at her chest. “Honestly? it could be longer than that.” She shook her head. “I just found out a rich, fancy, handsome man is about to whisk my sister off her feet and take her to homecoming.”

“Sounds like normal people would think that is the opposite of a problem.” Nicole crossed her arms.

“Well, you see, I ain’t a ‘normal people’, Haught-rod. Please tell me you’re going to do something about this.”

Nicole felt her cheeks heat up when she realised, out of the corner of her eye, that her Dad was listening intently to the whole conversation. “If by ‘do something’ you mean respect Waverly’s wishes and leave her be, then yes, that was my plan.”

“Do you like her? Do you think she’s the most goddamn beautiful person you’ve ever seen? Do you think she deserves the world?”

Nicole’s eyes fell to the floor and she cleared her throat before looking back up and capturing Wynonna’s intense gaze. “Yes.”

“Does she… get your motor running?” Wynonna raised her eyebrows and smirked at the half-assembled car in front of them.

“Wynonna!” Nicole frowned but then, after some nudging of an elbow against her side, she sighed. “Yes.”

Nicole yelped when she felt Wynona grab her by the back of her shirt and drag her towards the house. “Nicole.” uh-oh was she in trouble? “We’re getting you dressed in your best and you’re going to tell Waverly how you feel before Perry can make his suave move. She's only going with him 'cause she didn't think you wanted to go with her.”

Nicole heard her Dad, between raucous laughter, say, “You guys are forgetting your kid.”

“Shit,” Wynonna said, before stomping back into the garage and grabbing Frank

Chapter Text

Nicole looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was perfectly curled, her dress, something her Mom had purchased a while back in the hopes she’d actually go to a dance this year, fit perfectly and was strapless, showing off her arms, chest and shoulders.

Wynonna, holding Frank, whistled as she looked over her shoulder. “Damn, my baby momma is Haught, if Waverly rejects you now, she needs to go to the eye doctor.”

“Thanks, I think?” Nicole checked over the items in her bag. Wynonna was appraising her own very short black dress that she’d brought over. “You look great too, ‘Nonna." She smiled at her best friend before humming. “It's not cheating if we leave Frank with my Dad whilst we go to the dance, right?”

“What are they gonna do? Mark us down for leaving our kid with a sort-of-responsible adult? That’s the best thing to do!”

 Nicole nodded. "You’re right. Anyway, how are we getting there? My car isn’t ready yet.”

Wynonna’s eyes bugged wide. “Fuck. I didn’t think that far ahead. Your Dad, or Curtis could give us a ride?”

Nicole rested her hands on her hips. “If you think I’m rocking up to Homecoming to steal someone’s girl after getting a lift from my Dad-”

“Jeez. I get it. No need to be so judgy,” Wynonna said. “Any friends that could take us?”

“I’d ask Dolls, but I think he said he was away this weekend, which just leaves...” Nicole sighed. “Shit.”

Nicole leaned against the passenger side window of Max’s Dad’s Toyota Prius and watched Purgatory rush by.

This was it. She was going to lay all her cards on the table, let Waverly know the truth, that Nicole didn't want anyone else.

If it went badly? Well, Nicole would have to lick her wounds and move on. They'd been dancing around their feelings, their chemistry, for too long now, and it was time to be decisive. At some point you just have to find the courage to make your move.

Wynonna, who was fidgeting in the backseat, leaned into the gap between the seats. "Thanks for the ride, dude. You're doing important work."

Max, in the driver's seat, raised an eyebrow and looked at Nicole out of the corner of his eye as if to say 'and you said a Prius wouldn't get me laid?', before he nodded and replied, "No worries. It's what friends are for."

Nicole smiled at them both, calmer than she thought she would be. "Thanks guys."

Lily, who was on the other side of the backseat, with Jeremy pressed between her and Wynonna, sighed. "Remind me why I'm here again? I don't care about Homecoming."

Jeremy gave her a nudge in the ribs. "We're supporting Nicole. She's Miss Steal Your Girl on her way to tell Waverly how she feels."

Lily frowned and kicked Jeremy in the shin, before turning to face Nicole in the front. "Weren't you guys making out in the bathroom of Shorty's a couple of weeks ago?"

Nicole flushed. "Yeah, well that was-uh. She doesn't know how I really feel so..."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Why are all you popular people so dramatic?"

"You think I'm popular?"

Jeremy laughed. " That's what you took from that? Either way, it doesn't matter." He clapped his hands together once, hampered by the girls squashing into him in the backseat. "What's the plan, Nicole?"

"Well…"she glanced at Wynonna with a smirk.

Wynonna sat up straighter. "Here's the plan, nerds…"

The gym had been re-purposed for the evening, loud music and the shouts of excited teens bubbling through the cracked open front doors, and as the group approached, Nicole noticed there was a table set up outside.

“Ah shit. I didn’t bring any cash to get tickets,” Wynonna said, looking left and right as if a way to avoid paying to enter would jump out of the night at them and present itself.

“Don’t worry. I’ve got this.” Jeremy pulled out his wallet and they stepped further along the path.

“Alright. I’ll let this one slide,” Wynonna grumbled, “But I’m not making you my sugar Daddy just ‘cause of this one time.”

“I could think of nothing worse than being your ‘sugar Daddy’,” Jeremy replied under his breath before smiling at Chrissy who was manning the booth, looking bored out of her mind.

She put her phone on the table and smiled up at them, her eyebrows raising when she noticed Nicole. “Hey guys! I didn’t think any of you were coming.” She took the money from Jeremy and handed him some change.

Wynonna shrugged. “Well, we had a change of heart. Let’s go.” She led the group towards the doors.

“Good luck, Nic.” Chrissy gave Nicole a knowing grin. “I’m glad you changed your mind.”

“Me too. You look great, by the way.”

“Naturally.” Chrissy gave her a wink. “You look great too. Now, go get your girl.”

“Thanks, Chris.” She nervously returned the smile before shuffling after the group.

The gymnasium was decorated haphazardly with Homecoming banners, balloons, and what looked to be anything else that was discounted at the local craft and hardware stores. There were flashing disco lights that had probably been used for every school dance since the eighties, a half-melted ice sculpture of undeterminable form and a mass of students dancing in the middle, milling about at the edges or chatting by the punch bowls. At first glance, Nicole couldn’t spot Waverly.

Wynonna, grin wide and manic, raised her voice to shout over the loud pop music blaring from the speakers. “Right you all know where you need to be, so let’s get to it!”

Jeremy nodded and said, “Operation Wayhaught is a go,” before disappearing into the crowd along with Max.

“Wayhaught?” Nicole asked, to no one in particular.

Lily gave her a ‘duh’ look. “It’s your ship name. Anyway, I’ve got to go and check Waverly isn’t in the bathroom apparently so peace out.”

That left just Nicole and Wynonna, staring out at the threatening, pulsating mass in front of them. Nicole’s palms felt sweaty. A group of jocks were carrying Chad Davis- without a shirt again - on their shoulders, a crying girl broke away from the punch table with her friends trailing after her, and a particularly nerdy dude busted out some terrible dance moves in front of a couple of laughing cheerleaders. Ah yes: the school dance. The whole range of terrible, terrific humanity in front of Nicole to take in, and she was about to embarrass herself in front of all of them.

“You OK, dude? You look kinda pale.” Wynonna placed a hand on her shoulder and drew Nicole’s flicking eyes to her.

Nicole swallowed the lump in her throat. “Uh- yeah. I’m good.”

Wynonna’s eyes turned soft. “You’ve got this, Nicole.”

“Yeah,” Nicole whispered.

“Who are you?” Wynonna asked, her hand squeezing Nicole’s shoulder.


“You’re Nicole Goddamn Haught, that’s who!” Wynonna gave her a pat on the back that pushed her into moving her glued feet.

“Yeah. I am.” She could do this. Fuck everyone else. All that mattered was being true to herself and her feelings in this moment. “I am,” she said, louder this time.

“Then go and get your girl.” Wynonna nodded at her. “The plan starts now.” With that she was off, headed toward the punch table with such purpose that Nicole knew she had to do this, knew she could do this.

She looked over at the small makeshift stage area, set up with a microphone and two ‘thrones’ for the Homecoming King and Queen to be crowned later.

It was now or never.

Walking with as much confidence as was possible with wobbling knees, Nicole headed to the stage, ignoring the strange looks sent her way by the handful of classmates that noticed she was approaching it. The microphone was calling to her, whispering: do it do it do it .

There were shouts from the opposite side of the room and everyone turned to see Wynonna being held back by the teachers as she waved a flask towards the punch bowls, her feet kicking out in indignation as she was half-lifted off the ground by the Football coach.

The music cut out.

Just on time. Just as they planned.

Nicole’s mouth was dry.

There were confused gasps and giggles that became the backing track to Wynonna’s fuss. “Hands off me, pervert!”

Nicole stepped up to the microphone and tapped it once. It gave out a loud feedback screech. Well, she certainly had everyone’s attention now. She spoke into the microphone, her eyes scanning the crowd to see if she could spot hazel. “Uh- sorry. Hi everyone. I just have something really important I’d like to say.”

She paused. There were a few nervous laughs, one of the teachers looked up, wide-eyed and began to move, and someone shouted out, “Well say it then!”

Nicole laughed. “I don’t think public confessions that put someone on the spot are fair so I’m just gonna say: you know who you are." Her eyes scanned again, still not spotting Waverly. "I really suck at this, but I’m trying, and I like you, really like you.” She kept looking over the shocked faces in front of her, knowing time was running out as the teacher pushed through the crowd. “If you don’t want this, I’ll never mention it again, but I couldn’t keep sitting by and not saying anything. I am serious about you and I hope you give me a chance.”

A voice broke out from the crowd. “How many times do I have to tell you I’m not interested?” Stephanie Jones shouted.

 “What the fuck? No, it’s not you, Steph!” Nicole frowned as a few of the students laughed at them.

“I get it.” Champ put a hand up. “It’s me isn’t it? I can’t blame you.”

“God, no, Champ, it’s not you.” Nicole ran a hand through her hair and grabbed the mic, stepping back from the teacher that was hopping onto the stage. “This is getting ridiculous so I’m just gonna say I understand now, and I hope you do too.” The teacher made a grasp for the microphone, but Nicole ducked out of the way, much to the students’ delight, however, she nearly tripped over in her haste to avoid him. “Shit. I’m nearly done, OK?” She aimed at the teacher and another laugh erupted from the crowd. “I can’t find the right words most of the time so hopefully this song will say it for me. It’s cheesy but it says the things I can’t. Haught out.” She dropped the mic and dodged away from the teacher’s lurch for her, narrowing avoiding him. She hopped down off the stage as ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’ by REO Speedwagon began to glare out of the speakers thanks to Jeremy and his AV club friends.

There was a cheer and Nicole felt a few slaps to her back as she wiggled and squeezed through the crowd, knowing she was being chased for disrupting the dance. She didn't care. She'd said her piece, finally, and hoped Waverly had heard her. She felt lighter, like she could breathe better knowing she'd said all she wanted to. 

A grin spread across her face.

“Haught!” Uh oh. The teacher wasn’t far behind her now. “Haught! Come back here. You can’t just cause a ruckus like that and waltz off, young lady.”

Nicole pushed faster. “Excuse me. Sorry.” She stumbled but made her way to the gym doors, hurrying through them and into the chill night outside. She took in a few quick breaths. Looked left and right for her exit strategy. They hadn’t exactly thought an exit strategy through with their ‘genius’ plan.

A hand grabbed her wrist and pulled her along the side of the building. “Come with me.” Waverly. Of course it was Waverly.

“Did you- were you in there?” Please. Nicole didn’t know if she had the strength to say all that again. “Tell me you heard it all.” She was tugged further into the darkness, towards the Football field.

“I did,” Waverly replied as she moved her hand lower, to lace their fingers together. She pulled Nicole faster when they heard the gym doors slamming open behind them. 

A shout broke out, more distant now. “Haught! Come back here now !”

They approached the path beside the Football field, illuminated by the bright floodlights, and Nicole finally got a full view of Waverly. Her hair was wild, trailing behind her where it had come loose from her bun and she held her dress up, scrunched in her palm in front of her as she ran. They thundered down the running track together, breaths smoking out in front of them. Then Waverly was laughing, just straight up laughing into the night as she squeezed Nicole’s hand in hers, the picture of youthful joy.

Nicole followed Waverly, as she always had, and always would, and they clattered to a stop on the grass at the far side of the Football field, giggling whilst trying to catch their breaths and listening for any sign they were being followed still.

Waverly, her face captured so perfectly in the patch of light that filtered down, looked at Nicole with determination in her eyes and the set of her jaw. “Did you mean those things you said? Were they for me?” With her breathless question, her rosy cheeks, her wide eyes, Waverly was more beautiful than Nicole had ever seen her. 

“Yes. Of course they were for you, Waverly.” Nicole’s heart, thumping in her chest, was singing, soaring all the way down to her swooping stomach. “It’s always been you.”

Waverly’s smile widened, crinkled the corners of her eyes. “I’m sorry it took me so long. It was stupid. I thought you weren’t serious, I thought you didn’t want this, us , and then when I realised my feelings I panicked.” She placed a tentative hand at Nicole’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to get hurt and I was so scared.”

“I scare you?”

“More than anything,” Waverly whispered, her eyes searching Nicole’s face.

It was astounding that Waverly had been feeling the same as her. As Nicole tentatively placed her hands at Waverly’s hips, she wondered why she’d ever worried. This was right. This was where they were supposed to be. She leaned in to capture Waverly’s lips, her entire body buzzing with the knowledge that they had each other, that she finally felt like she was home.

And then a torrent of cool water had them breaking apart in shock. 

The Football field sprinklers had activated. Nicole let out a yelp and made to jog away but was stopped by a hand on her shoulder as Waverly moved her grasp up to cradle Nicole’s jaw. “You won’t escape me that easily, Nicole Haught.” She smirked and pulled their faces closer together.

The water covered both of them, dripped from the tips of their hair, glistened where it caught in Waverly’s eyelashes. “I wouldn’t even dream of wanting to escape you,” Nicole replied, and Waverly pressed up on her tiptoes, pushing their lips together again.

Chapter Text

Sunlight streamed through a gap in the garish curtains that were hung over Waverly Earp’s bedroom window, specks of dust in the air shining and catching Nicole’s eye. She sighed contentedly and pressed a gentle kiss to the top of Waverly’s head.

Waverly, covered in blankets, hummed and snuggled closer, resting her head against Nicole’s collarbone. “Are you all packed and ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Nicole murmured, thinking of the luggage she had meticulously packed into her suitcase and carry-on and left by her front door, ready for later. “I’m all yours until eight thirty.” She flicked her eyes to the clock by Waverly’s bed and frowned at the time: seven AM.

Waverly’s head lifted, a mischievous smirk gracing her mouth. “Oh, really? I wonder what we could get up to in that time...” Her hand, which had previously been innocently resting on Nicole’s stomach, began moving, lifting the hem of Nicole’s T-Shirt to press against skin.

Nicole shivered but raised an eyebrow. “I think Gus had me sleep on the sofa last night to avoid us engaging in that kind of activity under her roof.”

Waverly huffed, the most adorable frown creasing up her features. “Always such a stickler for the rules, aren’t you?”

“Usually,” Nicole agreed, “But I suppose rules are made to be broken, and we’re going to be apart for so long.” She matched Waverly’s grin before twisting, flipping Waverly onto her back and leaning down to kiss her.

Waverly sighed into the kiss, threaded her hands through Nicole’s hair and tugged, urging Nicole on. Well, why would Nicole not want to take her up on such an inviting offer? So she did. She bit down gently on Waverly’s lower lip, revelled in the groan she’d drawn out, and settled her body between Waverly’s legs, giggling when she had to yank a blanket out from between them to press closer.

“Are you laughing at my blankets?” Waverly asked, one of her hands sliding up the back of Nicole’s T-Shirt, her nails pressing against Nicole’s shoulder blade.

Nicole laughed again. “Yes.” She pressed a kiss to the tip of Waverly’s nose before moving her lips across her jaw, kissing her way down Waverly’s neck.

“Hmm. I was going to kick you out for that, but on reflection,” she paused to sigh when Nicole’s mouth reached a particular part of her neck, “I think you can stay.”

Grinning at Waverly’s hips rocking up against her, Nicole replied, “Lucky me.”

“Lucky me ,” Waverly argued, her legs wrapping around Nicole’s hips. She let out a groan when Nicole thrust against her again but cut herself off when loud footsteps could be heard in the hall.

“Haught?” Wynonna called out through Waverly’s closed door.

“Fudgenuggets,” Waverly cursed under her breath as she loosened her grip on Nicole.

Wynonna continued, turning the doorknob. “Haught? You in there? Please tell me the scene behind this door is PG.”

Nicole rolled off Waverly and adjusted her scrunched up T-Shirt. “What is it, Wynonna?”

The door burst open and Wynonna was far happier than Nicole had ever seen her before eight in the morning. “Good morning, Globetrotter! Are ya ready?”

“Sure,” Nicole replied, rolling her eyes. “How much coffee have you already had this morning?”

Wynonna waved offhandedly. “Probably more than is recommended by any decent healthcare professional, but I needed it.”

Waverly, sitting up in bed with her arms crossed, gave Wynonna a glare. “You interrupted some of the little time we have left together to talk about how much coffee you’ve had?”

“Oh, you don’t wanna spend some time with me too? You aren’t gonna miss your big sis?” Wynonna placed a hand at her hip.

“I didn’t say that,” Waverly replied, tilting her head to the side. “Come on.” She patted her bed.

That was all the invitation Wynonna needed before she was leaping into the space between Nicole and Waverly, placing her arms across their shoulders and dragging them both into a hug. “Look at us! We’ve come so far. Can you believe that me and Nic are an hour away from going off into the world on our own?”

“I’m honestly surprised we both graduated,” Nicole grunted as she tried to worm out of Wynonna’s strong grasp.

“Same,” Wynonna said, tightening the hug.

“‘Nonna, I love you, but I think I’m dying,” Waverly whined from somewhere near Wynonna’s armpit.


They were released, finally, and all three of them laughed before turning to listen to Gus shouting up the stairs. “Breakfasts up! I know you’re not on my couch right now Nicole, so you’d better be down here, fully dressed, in two minutes!”

“Ah, shit,” Nicole said, knowing Curtis would be chuckling at them over his breakfast.

The worst part of every holiday: waiting. Nicole sat in the criminally uncomfortable waiting lounge of the airport, eyes periodically flicking up to the departure board then back to the other people waiting, then to Waverly, her smile soft but sad.

Nicole bounced her knee up and down until Waverly’s hand took hers and gave it a squeeze. “Sorry,” Nicole mumbled.

“No need to apologise, baby.” Waverly’s thumb began a soothing stroking motion across the back of Nicole’s hand. “Are you nervous about flying?”

Nicole checked for Wynonna, noting she was queueing up for even more coffee, and nodded. “Yeah. I always get a little worried about it.”

“Have you got some things to distract you?”

“Yeah. I’ve got some candy to chew on and stuff. I’ll be OK, Waverly.” Nicole gave a reassuring smile.

Waverly’s eyes roamed over her face like she was trying to stamp it into her memory. “What am I going to do without the best company in Purgatory?”

“I’m sorry. You’re going to be so bored without us, aren’t you?” Nicole joked.

Waverly matched her smile before her face turned serious. “I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I will miss you every minute we’re apart, Waverly,” Nicole replied, knowing each word was true. She brushed some stray hair out of Waverly’s face and cupped her cheek. “We’ll be back before you know it.”

“Good.” Waverly smiled, unshed tears in the corners of her eyes. “Europe won’t be prepared for you two.”

“I’ll call ahead and warn them about hurricane Wynonna.” And then, like the devil, she was summoned.

“Did someone say coffee?” Wynonna waved another cup in front of them and collapsed into the chair next to Nicole.

There was a tinny crackle from a speaker that broke into Waverly berating Wynonna for her overindulgence and announced their flight had a departure gate.

“Greece here we come!” Wynonna punched the air and downed her coffee.

Nicole leaped up, grabbing her bags. “Shit. Let’s get over there.” She turned to Waverly. “I’ll text and call as often as I can, OK? Keep me updated with all things Purgatory.”

“I will, sweetie.” She pulled Nicole into a crushing hug that Nicole returned, breathing in the scent of Waverly’s perfume. They kissed, knowing this would be the last time for at least a few months.

“Ew,” Wynonna mimed gagging at them. “You done yet? I want to say bye to my sister too, Haught-Sauce.”

Waverly pulled away and sighed. “Promise me you’ll both be good and come back in one piece.”

Wynonna gave Waverly a hug and stage whispered, “No promises.”

“I’ve got this,” Nicole assured. 

With that they dragged their bags away and Nicole turned to see Waverly, a big smile through the tears in her eyes, waving them off.

Of course, she was excited about her and Wynonna’s European adventure, but leaving was made all the sweeter knowing she’d be returning to Waverly Earp.