The snow storm that had roared up midmorning and blanketed the county had finally calmed down, but it was still coming down steadily outside. Even the hardiest of the usuals were scarce as winter took a firm hold on Purgatory. Though they did have an interesting call earlier.
"This is Shorty." Waverly glanced over when Shorty paused and asked for the caller's name again. The look of utter confusion had both Waverly and Gus walking over to the man who put the call onto speaker. Deep sobs came from the other side of the phone. All three of them looked at one another, worry and bewilderment mirrored on each of them.
"Hello? Who is this?"
"I miss you, Shorty. I wish I could be there today."
"Tom! Get off the phone and go lay down. You're drunk." Another voice came on, a woman in the background that steadily got closer.
"I think it's Tom Crutchen," Gus replied, the thinning of her lips the only sign of her fight to keep from laughing. Waverly wasn't as restrained, having to slap a hand over her mouth to keep the giggles from behign heard.
"Now it's quite alright, Tommy. I understand," Shorty said with forced sincerity, shushing Waverly as she only laughed harder. "Now you listen to Georgia and get into bed. We'll be here for ya tomorrow."
"Promise?" Came the watery, hopeful whisper.
"Thanks Shorty," The woman, Georgia came over the phone soon after as Tom's voice became progressively quieter. "He's been stuck in the house all day and decided to get started on drinking early to keep warm. Sorry about that."
The two had chatted a bit longer before Shorty hung up and for a moment all three looked from the phone to one another before cracking up laughing.
Now they were back to puttering around, more wasting time than anything since they doubted anyone would really come out in this. Waverly was wiping down the bartop when she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. Dropping the rag onto the already clean wood top she pulled her phone out and immediately smiled when she opened it up.
Nicole: Hey. It's getting pretty bad out, I don't want you getting stranded. Do you want to make plans to get together another time?
Waverly chewed her bottom lip as she looked up at the window and the snow covering the sill. They had made the plans earlier in the week, before the winter had taken hold. She had been looking forward to this, truth be told she needed this. The last few weeks had been…hard to say the least. Between her Uncle Curtis, who had raised her since she was young, dying suddenly of a heart attack, and the return of not one but both of her older sisters, things at home were hard. She loved Wynonna dearly, but Willa…she had never close to her oldest sister. Waverly was trying so hard to be understanding, not knowing what Willa had been through since she disappeared when they were young, but Willa was…indifferent, almost to the point of being cruel at time. But Waverly tried, she tried so hard to be accepting, especially for Wynonna's sake. And if truth was told she hoped that if she just held out she'd have a family again. It was probably foolish, she had a family. Gus and Shorty and Wynonna, but something felt like it was missing. She hoped that if she and Willa could find some sort of middle ground it would fill that void, become that final piece in the puzzle. So far nothing.
Here at Shorty's she was sure of herself, could sling beer with the best of them, make anyone smile, and she never had a day where the bar was full and her tip jar was empty. And getting to spend time with her friend helped a great deal. Their schedules sometimes conflicted so getting to hang out was hard, outside of when the officer came in to get a cup of coffee and a little flirting in. If she was honest with herself it was the highlight of her days and overtime she found herself becoming more comfortable with flirting back. She hadn't had much practice in the past. Flirting with Champ was little more than 'Hey sexy, do you wanna?' But Nicole made it easy and unpressured, and even when she floundered, Nicole still played along, never making fun of her.
Waverly: I'd still like to come over. If you're okay with it. I could just steal your couch if it gets too bad.
The reply came soon after: If you're sure then I think I can offer you something better than the couch. Text me when you're on your way.
Waverly: And what is this something better?
Nicole: You'll find out when you get here ;) see you soon.
"Tell whoever you're texting, you'll talk to them later. Let's just close for the night," Shorty said, picking up the discarded rag and tossing it back at Waverly, who barely caught it before it hit her in the face. Excitement bloomed in her as she registered Shorty's words, quickly jumping to action.
"Just take out the trash before you pull something," Gus smirked, watching her niece move about with an extra pip in her step. She had a good feeling she knew why and as much as she felt it was her obligation to tease, they were family after all, she kept her thoughts to herself. With everything that had occurred the young woman had been a little slower to smile or laugh. She was glad to see that had changed and made a note to pull Nicole aside and thank her. And of course give her a little warning about hurting Waverly, another family obligation of course. Though she'd wait until both girls actually stopped dragging their feet and got together.
"Okay Gus," Waverly said as she donned her coat to head outside. As much as she loved the snow and winter she hated the cold. She always got so cold easily, Wynonna teased that she was like a human Chihuahua. Wrapping her coat tight around herself she picked up the small bag of trash by the back door. Taking a bracing breath she opened the door and almost yelped at the cold that reached in and smacked her in the face. Almost immediately her eyes began watering and she shuffled through the shin deep snow as quickly as possible. The snow was melting into her jeans and into the cuff of her boots, urging her to move faster. She had just wound the bag back to toss it in when a noise and rustle from behind the dumpster startled her onto her butt. Almost as quickly she shot back up, the sudden cold on her butt and thighs pulling a small yelp from her. Her eyes darted around for the source of the noise, wondering what was out in this weather.
From behind the dumpster a small form emerged from beneath the snow, a black head the size of a tennis-ball a stark contrast to the white snow covering them both. A scraggly black body soon followed as it attempted to hop out of its little hole, but only ended up sinking back in.
"Oh my gosh," Waverly gasped, immediately scooping it up and tucking it into the crook of her elbow. Large green eyes blinked up at her as batlike ears flicked back and forth. "Hello little one, what are you doing out here?" She asked, tilting its head slightly to look for tags, but there were none. "Come on, let's get you warmed up." She tucked the kitten into her coat and immediately headed back inside. Half the lights were already off as Shorty was finishing putting away the registers.
"You about done, Wav…" Shorty paused midsentence when he saw the furry bundle that Waverly pulled from the depths of her coat. "What did I tell you about taking things out of the trash?"
"Ha ha," Waverly replied dryly. "I found this little guy…girl…cat when I was taking the trash out. I couldn't leave it."
Shorty shook his head; the girl always was a soft heart. He tossed her a dry towel. "Here. Looks like he's gonna freeze to death if you don't dry him off." Waverly smiled and did just that, rubbing at the scraggly black fur until the towel was too damp to be of any use. The small kitten had roused in the scrubbing, looking up alert at the world around it. A soft meow filled the quiet, drawing a laugh from the two.
"You should probably head out and get both of you warmed up," Gus said as she came from the back where she'd been restocking. She reached out and scratched the kitten under the chin, earning an appreciative little purr.
"And be safe out there. I don't want a call about you ending up in a snow bank."
"I'll be fine, Shorty," Waverly laughed, warmed by the gruff man's concern.
"See you later Waverly. We'll call to tell you if we're gonna open tomorrow," Gus said, earning a bluster from Shorty.
"Who says we wouldn't be?"
"If no one but you can get in, why would we be open? Unless you'd like to listen to more drunk calls like earlier?"
Waverly left the bickering co-owners before heading out. Again the cold slapped her in the face. As she stepped back outside she pulled her scarf from her pocket and wrapped the little kitten in it, hoping it helps to keep it warm. A soft mew was her thanks and she laughed softly while fumbling with her car keys. The cold had already seeped into her fingers, sapping away any real coordination. It was made worse as the scarf wrapped bundle in her arms squirmed. It took a moment but she finally got into the cab, slamming the door and immediately putting the keys in the ignition.
Almost throwing herself into the car she jammed the key into the ignition. It took a moment, the old engine sputtering and protesting against the cold. 'I know old girl, I feel the same,' Waverly thought, feeling her own body protesting. A hot shower, warm clothes and a hot drink sounded amazing right now.
'And maybe a warm body to cuddle up with?' A traitorous voice snickered, bringing with it images of herself cuddled up close to a certain red headed officer. It was just an image of the two laid out on Nicole's couch, Waverly cuddling on top of the taller woman. Nothing risqué in the slightest, but it still warmed her from the inside out.
The engine finally turned over and she cranked the heat. The kitten squirmed in the scarf and Waverly set it on the passanger seat as she turned to peer out the windshield. Snow still covered her windshield and mirrors and she'd have to get out to knock them off, but she wanted to give her appendages a chance to thaw. While she waited she pulled her phone from her pocket and sent a text to Wynonna, telling her she was fine and was going over to Nicole's. Next she texted Nicole, Hey I'm on my way now. Also I'm bringing a guest. I found a small kitten out in the snow. Is that going to be a problem with Wonka? She'd met Nicole's cat before and had instantly fallen for the quirky little cat who seemed to swing between chill and spaz within the blink of an eye. She just wasn't sure how she'd do with another kitten.
She got a response back almost immediately; Nicole – She's usually pretty good with other animals, if not I can just put her in her cage for the night. And I'll see you in a little bit, but be careful. There's black ice on the streets.
Waverly – I'll be fine, Mom. See you in a few.
Nicole – Brat ;p
Feeling energized Waverly grabbed the scrapper from the backseat and hopped back out, eager to leave.