Dec. 18, 2022

12 Days of Ficmas: Beneath Your Snowman Sheets - Chapter Five

12 Days of Ficmas: Beneath Your Snowman Sheets - Chapter Five

Chapter Five: Snuggled Up Like Spoons - Fanfic reading of Beneath Your Snowman Sheets


It's the fifth day of Ficmas! Chapter Five: Snuggled Up Like Spoons - Fanfic reading of Beneath Your Snowman Sheets 

Fanfic reading of Beneath Your Snowman Sheets by New54321 (Twitter @StaceyE706)  by Jen G. (Twitter @Jen_Z_Green) edited by Anne H.B. (Twitter @WynaughtP)
*original fic is 8 chapters. It has been broken down into 12 chapters by the author for the purposes of this audio.

Summary:
Waverly has been Nicole’s best friend since they were four years old.

She’s been the unrequited love of her life since they were six.

Eighteen years ago, on the day Nicole fell in love beneath a makeshift sprig of mistletoe and a set of special Christmas bedsheets, she made her best friend a promise.

That one day, when they were grown, she would take Waverly on the date of her dreams.

This Christmas, will Nicole finally get to make good on her promise?

https://archiveofourown.org/works/35080315/chapters/87381859

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Transcript

Chapter 5 - Snuggled Up Like Spoons

“That was Ladbaby, and another charity effort for this year’s Christmas number one! Do we love a sausage roll enough to give them a second year in a row? Keep listening to find out, here on Spark Radio UK, as we count down the twelve days to Christmas 2019.” Waverly smirked as the radio played across the kitchen. If she were honest, she'd been really hoping for an actual Christmas song for the number one this year, but she did appreciate a charity effort, and anything was better than another X Factor winner. She rinsed the suds from the dish she'd been scrubbing, shaking off the excess water as she moved to place it on the rapidly filling draining board. She screamed, barely managing to keep a hold of the slippery dish as the completely unexpected sharp whip of a rolled tea towel lashed across her thigh, and her sister’s cackle sounded through the barbed sting. “You shit!” Waverly yelped, dropping her dish onto the draining rack and rubbing frantically at the rapidly forming welt on her thigh. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” Wynonna’s raucous laughter subsided into a smug chuckle, and she shook her head as she leaned against the counter beside the sink, her rolled towel still wrapped precariously around her palm. “Every year you ask me this, and never once has the answer been yes," Wynonna teased. “You think now I’m the ripe old age of twenty-eight, that’s gonna have changed?” Waverly rolled her eyes, picking up another dish from the dirty pile. “Well I thought with some luck, maybe this year you’d be off with Doc, or Dolls, or Rosita, or whoever your latest conquest is," she huffed. “Alright, what’s got your knickers in a twist?” Wynonna flicked the towel again, though this time the contact was considerably softer. “Nothing," Waverly shot, her stomach bubbling with irritation at her sister’s goddamn bullying. "I’m just…” She trailed off. Nervous. She was nervous. And she didn't really know why. But the uncomfortable feeling of anxious butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and they had done all day. "Is Haught coming this year?" Wynonna asked. “Yeah.” Waverly nodded. The butterflies beat harder. This was why. She hadn’t seen Nicole in so long. She’d been due to visit Waverly in the summer, but then she’d been breaking up with Shae and it had all gotten a little messy, and so she’d not made it. So Waverly hadn’t seen her best friend for eighteen months. Hadn't seen her since Shae, and the uncomfortable jealousy that had surged Waverly’s veins completely unnecessarily, no matter how hard she'd tried to convince herself that wasn't the root of her unsettled feelings. And for some reason, the idea of seeing her best friend again now was setting Waverly’s nerves on fire, and that in itself was irritating her. "Alone?" Wynonna prompted. “Yeah,” Waverly breathed. “Yes, Wave!” Waverly jumped, her eyes snapping up to her sister as Wynonna whooped loudly, punching the air with her fist as she pushed herself off of the counter and flopped herself down into a chair at the table, her feet up on the surface. Waverly blinked. Then she frowned. “Why is this the most excited I’ve seen you since the Killing in the Name Of Christmas win?” She queried, raising an eyebrow as she turned to face her sister fully. Wynonna grinned, settling herself back in her chair as she studied Waverly irritatingly smugly. “You’re grown this year, right?” Wynonna smirked, shooting Waverly a wink. Waverly balked. She blushed immediately, the skin of her neck and her chest burning at the words and the implication. One she knew full well she'd been refusing to consider for some time now, and her entire body surged with irritation that someone else was calling her out on it before she'd managed to muster the courage to call herself out on it. She huffed harshly, shoving Wynonna’s feet off the table with considerably more force than was necessary. “Don’t be ridiculous," she scoffed. “Oh come on, Waverly," Wynonna laughed, rolling her eyes as her sister turned abruptly back to her dishes. "We all know it's far from ridiculous." Waverly took a deep breath. She needed to shut this down, before it wormed its way into her head, and confused her beyond all get-out. She glanced back over her shoulder, steeling her eyes in her best efforts to look as condescending as possible. “What is it you think you know, oh wise one?” Wynonna grinned, putting her feet back on the table with deliberately intense eye contact. “That you and Little Haught are hopelessly in love, and Christmas is a magical time that just might make you realise it," she sang. “Oh my god, I am not in love with Nicole!” Waverly yelped, throwing her soapy hands to her sides as she spun back to face her sister. "And Nicole is not in love with me!” “Love to be the one to break it to you, Babygirl, you absolutely are," Wynonna chuckled, her eyes sparkling as her smirk tugged hard at her lips. “And are we really gonna pretend like Haught hasn’t been openly telling you she loves you for like, twenty years?” Waverly’s heart thudded, her pulse racing in her ears as it tried to block out the words. She'd been battling with herself not to think about the reasons behind her own jealousy and rollercoaster of emotions, but she hadn't even once considered whether Nicole might have her own feelings. And it was preposterous to even imagine. Nicole was absolutely not in love with her. She would know. She would know. “You’re being very homophobic right now," she grumbled, shaking her head as she turned back to the sink. “How am I being homophobic?” Wynonna laughed. “Just because Nicole is gay does not mean she is love with me," Waverly retorted, "and just because I slept with Megan Wilson like, one time, does not mean I am in love with Nicole!” Wynonna paused, and Waverly blushed as she registered the words that had left her lips. She glanced over her shoulder shyly, blushing deeper as Wynonna raised an eyebrow. "Like… two times," she mumbled sheepishly. Wynonna smirked. Waverly rolled her eyes. "Six times!" She exclaimed exasperatedly. "And like, three dates." Waverly could practically feel the smug amusement radiating from her sister’s body. “Who’s Megan Wilson?” Wynonna deadpanned, though Waverly could hear the tick of a smirk in her lips. Waverly shot her sister a scowl. “Okay okay, what happens at uni, stays at uni!” Wynonna grinned, holding her hands up in defense. “But my reasons go slightly beyond you and Haughty just being a couple of lady lovers, Babygirl. You two have been making moon eyes at each other since you were like, six." Waverly turned her back. Again. She stared at the water in her washing up bowl, hoping that somehow the bubbles would form a crystal clear image of how the fuck she was supposed to feel across the surface of the dirty water. She did not need this right now. She was nervous enough to see her childhood best friend, without these mixed-up, misunderstood, unnecessarily confusing accusations and feelings and expectations. She was confused enough in her own brain, and she did not need Wynonna complicating that for her. "You're being ridiculous," she huffed, her voice smaller as she directed it into the sink. She wasn't sure who at. Wynonna, or herself. Or the bubbles. "We've been friends our whole lives, you don't think if we were in love we might have done something about it by now?" "That's what's so annoying!" Wynonna wailed dramatically. "Every fucking year I've tried…" Waverly groaned, throwing her head back in frustration. "Just go and get the pull up beds out, Wy," she sighed. "If you must be here, at least make yourself useful."

〜〜〜〜〜〜 🎄 〜〜〜〜〜〜

Nicole lounged back against the wall alongside Waverly's bed, her legs tangled between the brunette’s beneath their canopy of fairylights and tinsel, and threadbare, faded snowman sheets, like absolutely nothing had changed. And she guessed it hadn't. Not really. She hadn't seen her best friend in eighteen months, but Nicole had still missed Waverly with every fibre of her being. She'd still hated every moment she wasn't spending with her, and she still just loved her with everything she had. And she was beginning to understand that she just always would. Loving Waverly was embedded too deep into her bones, ingrained a little harder with every year that it had grown. It didn't matter what she did, or who she dated, or how hard she tried. It was part of her soul, and it wasn't going anywhere. "Do you ever just feel like we're still kids?" Waverly grinned, dipping her hand into her ancient, cracked and faded snowman popcorn bowl. The TV was playing Elf, but neither Waverly nor Nicole had really been watching, choosing instead to throw popcorn across the Christmas den into each other’s mouths amidst easy conversation. "No, I think we've really matured well." Nicole grinned, throwing another piece of popcorn across for Waverly to catch. She chuckled as the brunette missed, and the popcorn tumbled over her shoulder and onto the pillow behind her. "Seriously though, doesn't it just feel like nothing's changed since we were six?" Waverly laughed. "Like no matter how long you live away for, it always feels the same when you come home." Nicole beamed, her stomach flipping at the sentiment. Funny, how even after six years of living in Sheffield, this did still feel like coming home. "Well, I don't know…" she shrugged, grinning cheekily as she threw another piece of popcorn for Waverly to miss. "You have a lot more teeth now than you did when you were six, and I have a tattoo…" "You have a tattoo?" Waverly yelped, sitting up so hard her popcorn bowl flew across her lap. "Where?" Nicole laughed openly, shuffling forward as she lifted her shirt and her arm enough for Waverly to see the little hummingbird inked over the side of her ribs. Waverly gasped, her hand reaching forward instinctively to touch the black lines. Her fingertips brushed feather light over the sensitive, bare skin of Nicole’s ribs, and the redhead felt her heart halt instantly in her chest. Waverly trailed her fingers down, mapping the lines, and Nicole bit back a gasp. She gritted her teeth, holding her breath in a desperate and fruitless effort to hold back the goosebumps that rippled across her skin under Waverly's soft touch. She could feel the heat under the skin of her cheeks, and her neck, and her chest, and doubtlessly the practically vibrating flesh beneath Waverly’s fingers, and she prayed to whatever deity might be out there that her best friend couldn't tell how much the simple, fully platonic action was sending her into meltdown. Waverly blushed, her fingers stilling and curling away from goosebumped skin as she tore her gaze from the tattoo, and up to meet Nicole’s eyes. "It wasn't for Shae, was it?" She whispered, wrinkling her nose slightly. "No," Nicole chuckled, shaking her head as she dropped her shirt back down over her overheated body. "It wasn't for Shae. I got it after we broke up. I just liked it, I don't really have a reason." Waverly nodded, her eyes drifting once more to the spot on Nicole’s side, covered now with the material of her shirt. "You just got out of a relationship and thought you'd get a tattoo, like a totally casual, well rounded, completely unphased individual?" She smirked, raising her eyebrow as she settled back against the pillows and picked up the remainder of her discarded popcorn bowl. "Something quite a lot like that," Nicole laughed. She grinned cheekily. "I was back on the market, I needed something to make me more appealing." Waverly blushed a little, and Nicole felt her stomach flip. She didn't know why. There was just something in that blush that connected straight to her butterflies, and she pulled her own popcorn bowl closer to her stomach as if somehow it could shield it, and hide them from her unsuspecting best friend. “So…" Waverly started, her eyes focused on her sheets as she picked at the popcorn scattered across them. "What happened with Shae?” Nicole smiled shyly, her own eyes dropping to her lap. She'd rehearsed this. She'd known she would get this question, and she knew she couldn't tell Waverly the truth. Not really. She guessed, if she really thought about it, she'd never really directly hidden the truth, but she'd also never outright said it. And she didn't think now was the time. Honestly, she wasn't sure there ever would be a time. To tell Waverly she loved her, she'd have to be pretty certain Waverly loved her too. And Nicole was just not that lucky. She threw a piece of popcorn, just to try and keep things light, in the hopes Waverly wouldn't see the words behind the ones she said. “We just wanted different things.” I’m in love with you. “We drifted apart.” And Shae knew it too. Waverly smiled softly, nodding as she threw a piece of popcorn for Nicole to catch. Nicole ducked, opening her mouth as the popcorn approached, and threw her hands in the air in celebration as it landed on the tip of her tongue. Waverly grinned. “She was nice." She shrugged. "I liked her.” Nicole blinked. Then she giggled. “What?” Waverly narrowed her eyes. “You absolutely did not like her," Nicole laughed. "I think she thought your scowl was a permanent feature!” Waverly chuckled, her cheeks tinting a deep red. “Hey, I was nice to her!” She argued, her eyes a little sheepish. “Sometimes.” "Hmmm." Nicole grinned, popping a piece of popcorn into her own mouth as she studied Waverly in amusement. “You were jealous.” “Jealous?” Waverly choked, her eyes widening and her body stiffening just enough for Nicole to notice. Nicole raised an eyebrow. “Cause she stole your best friend..." “R-right.” Waverly huffed, her eyes dropping as her cheeks reddened further, and Nicole felt her stomach drop. It was stupid. Stupid, unnecessary wishful thinking. But it felt, just for a little moment, like maybe that blush had meant something. Like she'd hit a nerve. She guessed she had, really. Just not the one she wanted. "I'm sorry, you know," she murmured, her eyes softening as she waited for Waverly’s to meet them. "What for?" Waverly whispered. "For the way it changed things." Nicole shrugged, her smile soft as hazel eyes found her own. "Me being with Shae." Waverly swallowed visibly. "I didn't mean it to," Nicole explained. "It was just… hard, to…" She trailed off, her throat closing a little tighter as she processed that she had no way to end this sentence. Not without laying her heart bare, and that had not been the intention tonight. Waverly smirked, raising a playful eyebrow. "Be with someone when you've promised your heart and your hot chocolate to another Princess?" She grinned, the quirk of her brow shifting as she wriggled it. Nicole chuckled, shaking her head as her shoulders dropped and her heartbeat found its soft rhythm under the lighter air, and the cheeky glint in her best friend's eyes. "Absolutely, emphatically that," she breathed. She grinned as Waverly giggled. She was so in love with the ease with which her friendship with Waverly was able to ebb and flow between emotions and atmospheres, and she loved endlessly that actually, she'd always been able to tell Waverly the truth. She just kind of wished her best friend knew it was the truth. She lifted her hand, holding a piece of popcorn poised and ready for Waverly to catch. As the brunette leaned forward, her jaw dropping open in preparation, Nicole leaned her head back, tossed it up into the air, and caught it in her own mouth. Waverly huffed, throwing a handful at her. Nicole smirked, moving to repeat the action. She threw the popcorn arrogantly high, leaning her head back against the wall as she waited for it to land. The bed shifted beside her, and before Nicole could even process the movement, Waverly was up and over Nicole’s lap, straddling her thighs as she reached her body up, and caught the popcorn in her own mouth before Nicole could. Nicole's entire body shut down. Waverly’s thighs gripped either side of her own, her hands resting on Nicole’s shoulders as she grounded herself against the movement of her reach. Brunette waves brushed over Nicole’s face, and the scent of everything that was Waverly overwhelmed her completely. Her own hands had landed instinctively on the outside of Waverly’s thighs, and the heat below them burned on her fingertips. But the real killer was Waverly’s celebration move. The brunette hissed in self satisfaction as she caught the popcorn, and she shimmied her shoulders as she rolled her hips in what Nicole could only assume was intended to be a gleeful dance. But from where Nicole was sitting, her best friend and the love of her life was all-out gyrating in her lap, and she was absolutely positive she was having the ultimate full-scale gay meltdown. She seized up, her body beyond frozen beneath Waverly as the brunette finished her celebration, and she couldn't tear her eyes from her best friend's face as Waverly’s crinkled smile turned down towards her. She just hoped her eyes were at least somewhat acceptable, and weren't completely betraying her state of panicked arousal. Waverly's hazel eyes clouded as they met Nicole’s, something both familiar and unfamiliar behind them that made the beat of the butterflies surge up to Nicole’s heart. The quirks at the corners of Waverly’s lips softened, and she blushed as she slowly dismantled the redhead’s lap. Nicole wasn't sure she could remember any words. Her head was swimming, and her pulse was practically shuddering as she fought to get a grip on her gay panic. "E-erm…" She closed her eyes, screwing them tight for a moment as she cleared her throat. "Did… what did you think of the film?" There was a pause, and Nicole cracked an eye open as she risked a glance at Waverly. Waverly smirked, her eyebrow raising. "Nicole, we watched thirteen minutes of it." "I… well…" Nicole blushed, hooking a thumb awkwardly in the direction of the TV as she fought the urge to hide her face. "Will - uh… Will Ferrell is particularly… good?" Waverly laughed, her eyes shining with playful tease. "Did I climb in your lap and break you?" Nicole’s entire body burned, her blush almost painfully hot over the shell of her ears as Waverly eyed her in knowing amusement, giggling softly. Nicole closed her eyes, dropping her head back against the wall with a choked groan as she surrendered to Waverly’s teasing. "Fuck off," she grumbled, the sound distorted by the quirk of her own lips as Waverly’s giggles caught on. "I'm a useless lesbian and it is homophobic to mock me for my gay panics." "You are peak useless lesbian right now, Haught," Waverly laughed. "And it's honestly the cutest…" "Christmas time!" The sound of the door slamming open, and the pitchy melody of Wynonna’s tuneless singing cut Waverly’s sentence short, and Nicole was somehow both painfully frustrated by, and incredibly grateful for, the interruption. "Mistletoe and pine-ing!" Nicole furrowed her brows at the lyric change. Did she say pining? Did she know? Nicole guessed she wasn't really that subtle, but she'd always assumed Wynonna just saw it the same way Waverly did - as at least half a joke. She swallowed back the nervous lump that formed in her throat. In the midst of being teased for having a huge gay meltdown because her best friend touched her, the last thing she really needed was to be teased for her long standing pining. She watched almost warily as Waverly huffed, glaring at Wynonna as she threw a handful of popcorn at her sister. Nicole pushed herself upright, willing her racing heart to calm down. It had been a weird few minutes, and she could really do with getting herself together before Wynonna produced the holly. She frowned. The holly that looked a lot less like holly this year. "Is that actual mistletoe, Earp?" She quirked an eyebrow. "It is." Wynonna grinned. "I've gone all out this year." "Why?" "Because…" Wynonna smirked, the tick of her lips way too smug as she flicked her eyes between Nicole and Waverly. "Real mistletoe means a real kiss." Nicole’s stomach clenched. "A-a real kiss?" "Don’t play innocent, Little Haught, I mean a kiss." Wynonna rolled her eyes. "A kiss on the lips like big grown adults." Nicole swallowed, the nerves sitting heavy in her stomach. She could feel her hands shaking, and she buried them into her lap as she glanced at Waverly. This felt weird. Any other time, Nicole would have jumped at the chance for this. Fallen over her own feet for the chance to kiss Waverly. But so soon after Waverly had called her out on her second meltdown of the night, and after Wynonna’s lyrical tease, she felt more on edge than usual, and a lot less in control of her feelings. She felt exposed tonight, and this was not going to help her. But then Waverly's eyes met her own, softer and warmer for her than they had been for Wynonna, like always, and the reassurance flooded instantly through Nicole’s veins. It was fine. It was just their tradition. It was just Wynonna being Wynonna. It wasn't about exposing Nicole. She grinned, shaking her head as Wynonna bowed, brandishing the mistletoe above their heads as if she were presenting some kind of gourmet Michelin star dish. Waverly rolled her eyes, her lips curling into a smile as she shuffled over the bed to be closer to Nicole. Nicole took a slow breath, fully intending to prepare herself. But before she could even process the movement, Waverly’s cold hands closed over her cheeks, and Nicole felt herself tugged forwards as impossibly soft lips pressed against her own. It was a peck. For all intents and purposes. But for the turmoil it was causing in Nicole’s stomach, it might as well have been a deep and passionate make-out. And it was just a second longer than a peck should have been. Just the tiniest bit more heated. And Nicole would swear she could feel Waverly melt into it for the absolute briefest of moments. Nicole’s blood boiled as she pulled back, and she didn't dare open her eyes for a moment. She knew how they'd look. She knew they'd be awed, and smitten, and dark, and glazed, and she couldn't bring herself to expose her soul like that without a moment of composure. Waverly’s hands were yet to leave her face, and she gasped softly as she felt her best friend press her lips to her own once again. So soft. So light, and so brief that Nicole could one hundred percent have imagined it, if Wynonna wasn't all-out whooping and cheering beside them. Nicole’s heart was on fire. The first kiss was the mistletoe. Tradition. But the second one? Was that for Waverly? For her? For real? She let her eyes flicker open, her chest closing tight as she met clouded hazel. Waverly’s cheeks were reddened, her lips parted in a visible fluster as she let her hands drop from Nicole’s face, and her eyes glimmered with something almost awed, but also almost apprehensive, and Nicole couldn't fight through the haze in her own mind in order to fully ascertain which rang truer. She swallowed hard, closing her hands around the material at the ends of her sleeves in an effort to ground herself against the rush of adrenaline, and the ghost of Waverly’s lips against her own. She had a feeling she'd be replaying the brief peck over and over in her mind for hours. Forever, if she was honest. And she really wanted to know what the mist in Waverly’s eyes was. Discomfort? Regret? Or flustered awe? Like the one in Nicole’s stomach. "Merry Christmas Wayhaught," Wynonna sang as she all-out moonwalked out of the room. "Don't expect another gift from me!" Waverly groaned. Nicole blinked. "Wayhaught?"

〜〜〜〜〜〜 🎄 〜〜〜〜〜〜

Waverly grunted as she tugged hard on the clasp of the pull-up bed, fighting to set it up before Nicole came back from the bathroom. Because Wynonna had failed to do so. Obviously. She felt ridiculously flustered. It had been several hours since her mistletoe kiss with Nicole, and Waverly was pretty sure neither her heart rate nor her temperature had lowered since. The kiss had confused her. Fully, entirely, utterly confused her. It was the shortest kiss known to man, and yet somehow it had flustered her as if it had been a twenty minute fucking make-out, with roaming hands and rolling hips. And now she was thinking about making out with Nicole, and about her hands and her hips, and she was getting more flustered, and this was Wynonna’s fault! This was ridiculous. It was Nicole. Nicole, her best friend since nursery school, who had seen her in her jelly shoes, and eating mud pies, and sat with her while she had her moulds done for her braces, and still had photos of that weird stage when she'd tried to pull off a newsboy hat and double denim. They were not in love. It was a goddamn peck. Because of their mistletoe tradition. Which Wynonna started in the first place! Everything about this was Wynonna’s fault. She huffed, grunting again as she finally managed to straighten out the fold-away bed, and reached for the sheets she had washed and dried specifically for Nicole’s arrival. Wynonna’s fault. This was Wynonna’s fault. This was not related to the times she knew she'd felt her stomach tell her otherwise in the past. Because it was just normal. Nicole was her favourite person in the world, it was only natural that sometimes she could make Waverly feel like that. That wasn't love! Was it? Was she attracted to Nicole? The redhead was definitely an attractive person, and Waverly knew she appreciated her eyes and her dimples and that blinding smile, sometimes quite deep in her chest. And she knew she got butterflies sometimes when Nicole touched her just a little too tenderly, or when they found themselves just a little closer than usual. And she knew she thought about Nicole sometimes, when she was alone at night and struggling to focus her mind on whatever wet-wipe man she was trying to make a go of things with at the time. But those things were normal too, right? Because Nicole was important to her. Right? Everyone got that, right? Was that attraction? And she knew she really didn't like the idea of Nicole being with someone else. But did she like the idea of Nicole being with her? Waverly took a deep breath, her shaking hands pulling a case onto a pillow as she fought to focus her mind, and calm her heart as the sound of Nicole’s footsteps echoed along the hallway floor, and the latch on her bedroom door clicked open. "Oh, thank you!" Nicole beamed, her eyes bright and her dimples ridiculously cute as she nodded towards the bed Waverly had laid for her. "I assumed we'd be snuggling up like spoons like the old days." Waverly blinked, her heart rate going completely the wrong way. "Since when have we snuggled up like spoons, Haught?" She choked. Nicole grinned, quirking an eyebrow. "You honestly trying to suggest we've never snuggled?" "Well of course we have, but spoons?" "You're a very cuddly sleeper." Nicole winked, her grin tugging into a mischievous smirk. Waverly scowled, her tension dropping and her laughter falling naturally at the cheekiness of the woman she'd felt most comfortable around all her life. No matter how many years passed, it never failed to amaze Waverly how easily her best friend could lift her mood, and calm her nerves. Even when she was the goddamn source of the nerves. "Don't be embarrassed, there're many worse ways to wake up than with you wrapped around me." Nicole grinned, taking the pillow from Waverly’s hands before flopping down way too smoothly onto the bed, the pillow cradled in her arms. Waverly rolled her eyes. "You're a flirt," she chuckled. "Have you always been this much of a flirt?" Nicole flipped the pillow behind her head, crossing her arms beneath it as she lounged back in a deliberately cocky move. "Waverly, I've flirted with you for as long as you've big spooned me in your sleep." She grinned, her dimples drawing Waverly’s eyes in easier than they ever had. "I've waited sixteen years for you to flirt back." Waverly threw another pillow at her. It was only as she lay back in her own bed, the lights out and only Nicole’s soft breathing breaking the silence, that she wondered if there was actually truth in that. Whether beneath the jokes, lay real feelings. Was Wynonna right? Had Nicole been telling her for sixteen years? And did she feel something too? If she was really honest, and pushed every fear and confusion and uncertainty aside, she certainly did right now. But had she always? And what did that mean? Did she want to be with Nicole? Shouldn't that idea have been weird? When they'd known each other all their lives? Why wasn't it weird? How would it even work? Nicole lived at the opposite end of the country. Any chance Waverly had to work this out felt like it had passed her by when they were seventeen, and Nedley had whisked her best friend to Sheffield and out of Waverly’s day to day life. Had Nicole worked it out back then? If she even did feel that way, had she known, this whole time? The thought both unsettled Waverly and made her heart feel warm. On the one hand, if Nicole had loved her all their lives, then Waverly had undoubtedly caused her pain. Pain she would never have willingly or knowingly caused her best friend. And that felt really sucky. But on the other hand, if Nicole had loved her all her life… well then she'd never once made Waverly feel bad for it. Never once had Nicole made Waverly feel uncomfortable, and never once had she put any sort of pressure or guilt on her. Never once had she even told her. And there was a part of Waverly, bubbling somewhere deep in her belly, that felt irrationally irritated by that. Irritated by the fact that if this were true, then Nicole had held onto it all this time. Not shared her feelings with her. Never given Waverly the chance to search her own heart. But she understood, also, that she wouldn't have been ready to hear it then. Not when they were kids. Not before Nicole left. And maybe Nicole had known that. Maybe she'd simply offered a cheeky quip about a date every year for Waverly to catch if she so desired. Did she desire? Were they grown?