DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The First Day of Christmas
By Ann


Karen looked down at the barking dog that had easily treed her. She then focused on the large hole in the knee of her favorite pants. Finally, she turned her attention to the redhead, sitting on the limb next to her.

"You never said anything about a dog."

"Neither did one-eyed Willie." Marley fingered her torn sleeve, noting the red seeping through just below the tear.

"Well, I know what his one-eye didn't see." Karen sighed. "We'll never catch up with Peterson now."

"Sorry, Karen; I thought this would be an easy grab. Willie said Peterson had signed on to work the tree farm several weeks ago. I figured he'd be comfortable to keep up a regular routine here."

Karen nodded. "He was here alright, and we'd have had him, too, if he hadn't been for the spawn of Satan." Karen glanced towards the ground to find a pair of dark eyes glaring back at her. At least, he'd stopped barking.

"You know, he seemed kind of friendly at first." Marley tilted her head, trying to find the mannerism that had made her believe the dog wouldn't attack.

"Who, Peterson?" Karen hadn't taken her eyes off the canine. She'd be damned if she'd lose a stare-down with a dog.

"No, Cujo; he looked like he was smiling at us when we passed him on the way to the orchard."

"That's because he was excited at the prospect of having two new chew toys."

Marley chuckled despite the rather embarrassing situation. "Okay, fun's over then. Give the owner a call to come get his watchdog."

Karen reluctantly broke eye contact with the attack dog. "My cell's in the car."

"Here, use mine then." Marley slid her phone from its leather case and offered it to the marshal.

"Um, I don't know the number." Karen shrugged. "I just looked up the address."

"That makes sense." Marley nodded but continued to hold the phone towards Karen. "Then call one of your colleagues and ask them to call the owner."

"No way!" The dog didn't take too kindly with Karen's tone and barked his protest.

"What do you mean, no way?" Marley pointed towards the ground. "He's not going anywhere, Karen. We've got to get someone to come get him."

"Then you call your guys."

"No way!" Marley echoed Karen's protest amidst another round of loud barking.

Karen folded her arms across her chest, taking care not to lose her balance. "Why not, Marley?" She mimicked Marley's words in a singsong tone. "The dog's not going anywhere."

"You know good and well why I can't call my guys. I'd never hear the end of it. Killing naked guys is one thing, but getting treed by a dog? I don't think so."

"And you think I'm going to risk Phil finding out about this. Uh uh, no way, no how."

The two women glared at each other before turning their stares towards the barking dog.

"Why hasn't he gone? Surely, he's hungry." Karen's own stomach had begun to growl.

"He's got his eyes on his meal, Karen." The dog had moved to a sitting position, but he hadn't lost eye contact with either woman.

Karen placed her hand on her gun, and Marley reached an arm out to stop her. "Hey! We can't shoot him."

"Why not? He's obstructing justice."

"By sitting under an orange tree? He's not a threat, Karen." The dog looked at Marley and blinked.

"Not a threat? He chased us up this tree and kept us here for over an hour. And, look what he did to my pants." Karen extended her leg to display the rather large hole.

"Actually, you tore your pants on the tree. He hasn't bitten either one of us." The dog continued to listen to Marley plead his case.

"Only because he can't get to us. He'd sink his teeth into us in a matter of seconds if he had the chance."

Marley glanced down at the dog. "Probably, but he hasn't yet. All we've gotten so far is some scrapes and bruises."

Karen sighed. "I guess you're right. I can live with a pair of torn pants, and . . . wait, a minute. I don't have any scrapes or bruises. You hoisted me straight up to that first branch. I only tore my pants when I caught it on a twig when I was moving to a higher branch."

"Did I say scrapes and bruises? I meant to say holes in pants."

"Marley?" Karen was one of the few people Marley knew who could phrase a question in the form of an accusation. Her parents were the other two.

"Yes, dear?" Marley smiled sweetly, trying to employ a strategy of her own.

"Are you injured?" Karen passed her eyes over the detective for the first time since they'd been treed. She immediately spotted the blood on Marley's elbow.

Ever alert, Marley knew exactly when Karen spied her injury. "It's just a little cut, Karen."

"Let me see." Karen edged closer to Marley.

"You have to promise not to shoot the dog if I show you, okay?"

Karen reluctantly agreed, and Marley rotated her arm towards the other woman. Karen took one look at the deep cut and held out her hand.

"Give me the phone."

"I can't believe you were treed by a dog." Phil wiped the tears from his eyes.

"All you had to do was call the owner, Phil. You didn't need to leave the office." Karen gently wrapped a towel around Marley's elbow. The owner had apologized profusely for his dog's behavior and had graciously supplied the towel for Marley's injury.

"And miss this, no way. I can't wait to get back to the office and tell the others."

Karen ignored her colleague and placed her hand on Marley's lower back, directing the detective towards the car. Marley stopped halfway to the vehicle and turned back towards Phil.

"Phil, I'd consider it a personal favor if you didn't say anything. I really don't want word to get back to the precinct." She offered a sickening sweet smile.

In turn, a goofy smile spread onto Phil's face. "Sure, Marley, mum's the word. So, does this mean you'll go out to dinner with me on Friday?"

"Phil, I need to get Marley to the ER; her cut needs several stitches." Karen spoke her words through a clenched jaw. She was tired of Phil's constant attempts to get Marley to go out with him, but now wasn't the time to get into an argument.

"Oh, sorry; you go on ahead, Karen. I'll call you later, Marley." The slamming of the door closed on Phil's last words.

"Why do you encourage him like that?" Karen put the car in gear and pulled from the space, gladly leaving her colleague behind.

Marley laughed. "It's fun, besides I got him to keep quiet about the whole incident, didn't I?"

"Yeah, well, I guess it's okay this time." Karen placed her hand on the console, and Marley balanced her towel-clad elbow against the door before sliding her free hand into Karen's.

"I'm sorry you had to call Phil."

Karen glanced over to find blue eyes fastened onto her own. "I'm sorry you got hurt. I shouldn't have rushed past Tiny like that."

"Can you believe the owner named him Tiny?" Marley chuckled out loud.

"He said he was the runt of the bunch. Am I ever glad he wasn't the biggest; I can't imagine anything bigger." Karen eased onto the entrance ramp and merged into the traffic.

"So, you prefer smaller dogs?" Marley's question was asking much more, and Karen knew it. They'd had the same discussion twice before. In fact, Marley had just talked about how much she'd love to have a dog a few weeks ago.

"I like dogs, Marley, but we're gone so much. It wouldn't be fair to keep him or her cooped up in that tiny yard."

Marley nodded and turned her gaze to the side window. She'd always wanted a pet, but her father had been allergic to cats and her mother to dogs. In her mind, any other type of animal was a poor substitute.

Karen squeezed Marley's hand, her thoughts immediately focusing on her lover's Christmas gift. She'd been a little uncertain when her Dad had suggested she go ahead and take the Tabby kitten when the pair had visited the animal shelter the other day, but his offer to keep the kitten until Christmas Eve sealed the deal. Karen knew that if she changed her mind, her Dad would gripe and complain, but he'd keep the kitten for himself. So, safe in the knowledge the kitten would have a good home, she'd agreed.

Taking the next exit, Karen smiled. She certainly hoped her Dad didn't get too attached to the cute little kitten.

The End

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