DISCLAIMER: I don’t own them… if I did there would have been kissing and such. This story is not intended for profit but simply to test my ability to create something I am happy with that others might enjoy. Karen Sisco and all its characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for her usual fantastic betaing work.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Dreaming of Tomorrow
By Annette


Life is full of trials and tribulations – choices made and consequences accepted. There are days when we hardly recognize ourselves or when we feel as if we're under a microscope. There are those days when the entire world seems out to get you – when you want nothing more than to hide until the storm blows over. And then, there are events that affect you so deeply that you are never the same again, events that change the shape and direction of your very existence. I've come to realize that whenever you have one of those days, it usually starts off as the happiest day of your life. I remember the first time I experienced one…

"Marshall, are you ready?" My mother called up the stairs. "Karen's getting anxious, honey."

"Yeah, c'mon Daddy! Wanna go fishin' now!" I yelled up to him as well.

My dad, Marshall Sisco, was an officer with the Miami Dade police force, and I thought he hung the moon. He was finally getting some time off from work, and we were going to spend an entire week fishing, swimming, and playing on the beach. It was such an amazing time for me, being with my mom and playing in the water with her – being with my dad and going fishing for the first time – watching my mom and dad together and so very happy.

"Daddy, we're gonna catch lots of fish today, right?" I asked as I grabbed his hand.

"That's right, honey." Ruffling my hair, he helped me into my seat. "And after we catch a whole mess of them, I'm gonna clean 'em up, and Mommy's gonna cook 'em up."

"Yay." I clapped and bounced around in my seat. "Mommy cooks fish good."

"Yep, she sure does. Now, sit still so I can buckle you up." I watched him as he completed his task, moved to the front seat, and kissed my mother before taking his place behind the wheel. "All right, let's hit the road!" And so, we were off on our adventure, and just like every time we took a long car trip, I asked to hear my favorite story. "Mommy, tell about the people with two heads!"

"Oh sweetie, you want to hear that again?" My mom chuckled as she handed me a juice box. I watched as she smiled at me and prepared to tell the tale. "Once, a long, long time ago, all people had four legs and two heads." I giggled as she made hand gestures mimicking her words. "And then, the gods threw down thunderbolts and split everyone into two halves. " Again she pretended, making throwing gestures and booming noises. "Each half then had two legs and one head. But the separation left both sides with a desperate yearning to be reunited." Now, she pretended each hand was the separated person and used her fingers to walk them toward each other. "Because they each shared the same soul, and ever since, people spend their lives searching for the other half of their soul." And finally, she clasped her two hands tightly together.

I clapped as she finished and bounced in my seat. "Just like you and daddy right. You found each other 'cause you and daddy make a match."

"That's right sweetheart. And someday, you'll find yours, too."

That week was something I'd never forgotten because it was the last time we vacationed together. You see, shortly after we returned from our trip, my mother became ill. I didn't really understand what was happening, why my mother was weak and didn't smile as often as she used to. Daddy tried to explain as best he could, but I always wondered why he was always so sad, too. Then, my Mom got worse and needed to go to the hospital for a while. It was hard, but we made the best of it, visiting with her every day before heading home.

It was a bright and beautiful Miami afternoon as I stood by the curb and waited for the familiar blue sedan to pull up. My dad came to pick me up from school and take me to the hospital to visit my Mom just as he had been for almost two years, but something was different. Even though I was only eight years old at the time, I could tell something was wrong. I watched his face as he drove away, and I had to ask. "Daddy, why are you sad?" When he didn't answer right away I became confused – when I looked out the window and realized we were home, I was even more confused. "Why are we home, Daddy? Aren't we going to see Mommy?"

I remembered how he didn't say a thing; just opened my door, helped me out of my seat, and carried me into the house. He sat down on the couch and pulled me onto his lap, kissing the top of my head as he held me close and said the words I'd never forget. "Honey, you remember Mommy was very sick, right?"

I peered up at him and answered. "Yes, Daddy, you told me she might have to go to a better place someday." Furrowing my brow, I reached for the large hands that always kept me safe. "Did she go, Daddy?" Tears began to form in my eyes. "She didn't wait for me to say goodbye!" The floodgates opened, and he pulled me tightly against his chest, joining me in my sorrow.

My dad was never quite the same after my mother passed away. And, well, neither was I – but we still had each other. I became a mini-Marshall, following my dad around wherever he went, doing whatever he did, and making him smile whenever I could. As the years went by and I entered into my early teens, I started to spend more time with my friends and less with my dad. I never noticed that he didn't date – ever – until I started depending less on him.

"Hey Dad, I'm going over to Maggie's, and then we're going to the mall. Okay?" I called out into the living room.

"Sure, honey," he replied, "just make sure you're home by 10:00."

At 10:20, I opened the door to my room and let out a breath at getting there without running into my dad. I was confused for a second; after all, dad was always home, but I let it go. I mean, I'd gone to the mall, where the boy's were… and imagine my surprise, when I tried to sneak in after curfew only to find that my dad wasn't home. So there I was, sitting on the living room chair with the lights out, waiting for him to get home and explain himself. Talk about role reversal, huh? At 11:30, I finally heard his car pull into the drive, followed by the sound of a key in the door. I waited for him to get all the way in and close the door before I turned on the lamp. I almost laughed aloud as he whirled around to find me sitting there.

"Jeez, honey, you scared the heck out of me." He looked a little sheepish. "What are you still doin' up?"

"I don't know, young man, but I think you need to explain yourself." I crossed my arms and gave him my best Sisco stare. "I'm waiting."

"Oh, honey, did I forget to tell you?" He really did look sorry. "I had a… well, you see, I met this woman and…"

He was well and truly flustered, so I made the decision to let him off the hook. "You went on a date?" He looked up at me with big, worried-looking, puppy dog eyes.

"Listen honey..."

I held up my hand to stop him; I knew what he was going to say. "It's fine, Dad. As a matter of fact, I was starting to wonder if you'd ever start dating again." I stood and moved closer, wrapping my arms around him. "I love you, Daddy, and I want you to be happy."

So, for the next few years, my dad dated, and I dated, and more often than not, we'd end the evening at the kitchen table, chatting with each other about why the latest one just wasn't the right one. Of course, there were a few occasions when I'd thought I'd found the one, but my hopes would soon be dashed, and dad would be there.

In my thirties, I honestly started to believe I'd never find anyone I wanted to see more than once. As for my dad, I think he knew there would never be anyone for him like my mom, but we both kept dating, and we kept meeting at the kitchen table. Until one night the conversation changed a bit, you see, I thought I'd found The One.

"Hey honey, how was your night?" My dad asked as usual.

Of course, my usual answer would have been a sullen expression and a sigh. He'd laugh and ask me what happened, and I'd rant about the latest idiot who either treated me like I couldn't think for myself, or acted like I wasn't even there. I tried, I really did, to follow that same course, but I couldn't help the smile that broke out on my face at the thought of last night's date.

"Well, looks like you had a nice time last night." He said as he watched me smile - a smile that faded and was replaced by a look of wide-eyed terror. "What's wrong sweetheart, did something happen?" He was getting angry now, but he was still confused by my earlier smile. "Honey, talk to me."

I don't know why I felt so fearful, I know my dad is a very understanding man, and yet, I was afraid to tell him about my date. I knew I had to give him some sort of answer before he started his own investigation. "Dad, I... my date is, um..."

"Sweetheart, you know you can tell me anything, right?" I could hear the disappointment in his voice. "Please, just talk to me."

"I'm sorry, Dad, I... my date tonight was with a woman." I peered up at him, waiting to see his reaction.

"You know, I had absolutely no idea what you were going to tell me that could possibly be so bad. I started thinking that maybe you were dating a former or future criminal." He held out his arms to me asking for a hug, which I readily gave. "If she makes you happy, honey, that's all I care about."

I felt so relieved as I returned to my seat. "Oh, Dad, she's wonderful," I gushed while he smiled indulgently at me. "I never knew I could feel this way."

"Honey, I couldn't be happier for you." He smiled as he reached across the table and grabbed my hand. "Do I know her?"

I wasn't sure how much to tell him just yet; this was all so new, and I didn't know what he'd do with the information. I was fairly certain he wouldn't butt in but decided to err on the side of caution for the time being. After all, it was just one date. "Well, you may have seen her once, but I don't think you really know her." I knew he could sense my evasiveness, but he let me off the hook anyway.

"Well, when you're ready, I'd love to meet her." Kissing the hand he still held, he rose from the table and pulled me up into another hug. "Go on, get out of here and call your girlfriend," he said with a smile.

I hugged him a bit harder as I tried not to get too emotional, finally releasing him with a soft kiss on his stubbly cheek. "Thanks, Dad, I love you."

My dad was great about giving me my space and not pressuring me into telling him whom I was dating. He was content to simply chat with me about her. I was falling for her, and I think he could sense it. Things were going well, and I was hopeful I'd be able to introduce my girlfriend to my dad sometime soon. I smiled at the memory of how our paths had crossed.

It wasn't long ago that I'd first met Marley Novak. I'd walked into a murder crime scene and heard someone calling my name, and suddenly, a very tall, very beautiful, redheaded Homicide Detective introduced herself with a confident grip of my hand. She'd called me to the scene after finding my card on the victim's body, and we'd discussed the case. I remembered how she leaned against the fireplace, and there was this one moment when we just stared at one another. Then later, after I'd been shot at, she'd arrived on the scene, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Hey, you okay?" She'd seemed sincere, and I liked that she cared. Then, she'd let me have a look at the not yet evidence, and I liked her even more.

Before I knew it, she'd suggested dinner, and I was once again enjoying being in her company. My dad stopped by the bar, and I'd introduced them. It was the first and only time they'd met. Not too long afterwards, she'd turned to me and asked, "So Karen, you seeing anyone at the moment?" I didn't answer right away, I'd just looked at her and noticed how nervous she was, biting at her lip waiting for my response. That's when I'd realized just what she was asking. I wasn't nearly as shocked as I thought I'd might be and simply said, "Uh huh." We never broke eye contact as she came to her own realization and asked, "A guy?" To which I'd once again answered simply, "Yeah." We stared at one another for a few more seconds, and then looked away and started eating as if nothing had happened.

That was the start of quite a few rounds of teasing and innuendo between us, until one day, I wanted it to be more. I found that I missed her whenever we were apart, and I'd never felt that way about anyone else except my dad. I anticipated our get-togethers and dreaded when they'd end. I watched her and touched her – mostly innocently – until one day; I just up and kissed her. She was initially shocked, but soon she was kissing me back and that was all it took. I was truly hooked; I just had to convince her, and tonight, I planned to try.

We went back to my place after dinner, and I was feeling a bit nervous. I wanted Marley to stay the night, to take our relationship to the next level, but I had no idea how to verbalize that. She followed me into the kitchen and watched as I poured us both a glass of wine. She never said a thing – she simply watched me, which kicked my insecurities up a notch. I put the glasses down on the counter and wrapped my arms around her tightly, trying to buy a few moments to calm my pounding heart.

"I can't do this!" Marley exclaimed as she pulled away from me.

"What?" I asked, confused by her retreat. "Marley?"

"Have you ever even been with a woman?" She asked from across the room.

"Not really." I answered, not sure if a drunken make-out session in college counted.

"Not really! Close enough." She stood and moved to another corner of the room. "I won't be an experiment, Karen. I can't be."

An experiment? "What are you talking about?"

"Karen, you're straight. I'm not. I care about you, and I admit I'm attracted to you. But I can't do casual with you." Emotions started to bubble up for her. "I don't want us to have a 'friends with benefits' relationship."

"I... that... Is that what you think I want?"

When Marley nodded in the affirmative, I knew it was now or never. I had to let her know just what I was feeling - what I wanted from her. And so, I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and started to pace. "Do you remember me telling you how I was always asking my mother to tell me the story about the people with two heads and four arms and legs?" I didn't wait for her response. "She always ended it by telling me that I would find my other half someday. I believed her, and I've been trying so hard to find that person because it's what she wanted for me. I went through so many bad relationships looking for what my mom and dad had." I stopped for a moment to regroup. "It scared me - thinking I would never find a love like that. So, a few therapy sessions later and I realized, I was scared of finding a love like that. I was scared because I knew that it could quickly be taken away from me. I've seen what losing my mom did to my dad. He's better now, but he'll never be the same."

I stopped pacing and looked over at Marley. She had tears in her eyes that matched my own, and I walked toward her as I continued. "For years, I had relationships that were doomed from the start. I was sabotaging my own love life." I stopped just in front of her and looked into her eyes. "What I didn't realize was that you can't go looking for your soul mate - at least not with your eyes. It's something you just know - but not always instantly. Sometimes, you fight so hard, trying to deny what you feel." I couldn't help but touch her, so I reached up and caressed her cheek. "I'm tired of fighting Marley. I didn't know - never realized - that my other half didn't have to be a man." I watched as her eyes widened. "I'm scared Marley, but I'm not confused. I know what I feel for you. It's not a phase, or an experiment, or an outlet for stress relief. I feel you in here," I pointed to my head, "and in here." I took her hand and placed it over my heart.

She didn't speak at first, and I began to worry that she didn't actually want this. My heart began to beat even faster as I prepared myself for rejection, but she must have felt it. "God, Karen... I." She never finished her thought as she pulled me tightly against her, buried her head in my shoulder, and began to sob. I wasn't prepared for this reaction.

Slowly, I walked us over to the sofa to sit. I held her close, making shushing noises and rubbing circles on her back as she cried. Soon, she became still, her breathing evened out, and I realized she was asleep. I sat there holding her and, even though she never responded to my confession, I knew we would be all right.

I don't know how long I sat there holding her, but it was long enough for me to join her in slumber. Waking suddenly, it took a moment to get my bearings, and then I heard a noise. Was that my door opening? I lifted my head to peer over the sofa just in time to see my dad walking in. As he walked further into the apartment, I tried to extricate myself from Marley's arms, but she was having none of it as she pulled me closer to her without actually waking up. "Dad, I..." I struggled for something to say, but he simply held up his hand to stop me from continuing.

"Shh, honey, don't move; you'll wake her. I was just stopping by to check on you, but I see you're doing fine." Chuckling at what must have been a very stunned expression on my face, my dad headed for the door, stopping long enough to reassure me. "I'm happy for you sweetheart." The door closed on his words.

Although this wasn't quite the way I envisioned spending my first night with Marley, or letting my dad know who my girlfriend was, I suppose it could have been worse. So, I simply gave in to it – snuggling into the warmth of this woman I wanted to build a life with. Tomorrow would be soon enough to start mapping out that plan, soon enough to find out if I stood a chance with this beautiful woman. I kissed her forehead and gave myself over to sleep, dreaming only sweet dreams for the first time in a long time.

The End

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