DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks, as always, to chicafrom3 for her brilliant beta'ing. Thanks also to Jenn and AJ for another Femme Slash Advent Calendar - Dead of Winter 2006.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Regrets Are No Fun
It all started that day. Actually, it was the day after the case with the kid and the ex-con dad was solved. The pair who solved it, Karen Sisco Federal Marshall and Marley Novak Detective Sergeant with Miami Dade, were heading out of the station when Marley turned to Karen and asked
"So, you wanna get dinner tonight?"
"I already have plans."
"Eh, another night."
Marley stopped and turned toward Karen once again. "You know, we work well together," she said as she extended her hand.
"Yeah," Karen agreed as she took the offered hand and shook it firmly.
"We make good partners," the redhead stated as she looked into Karen's eyes.
They stood, seemingly frozen in the moment, until Phil walked up.
"Sisco," he called out as he neared. Then noticing the person with her, he said, "Hey, Marley."
After finding out that the good Harry and precocious Josie Boyle took off with $400,000, they all had a good laugh. They continued on toward the elevators and Karen realized she'd really like to spend some time with the woman walking beside her. She didn't have any good friends and she felt, considering the similarities in their jobs, that she might be able to find one in the redhead at her side.
"So, Marley," the brunette offered, "How about dinner tomorrow night?"
"Sure, where do you want to go?" she responded with a smile.
"Well, I was thinking of just having something simple at my place. I've been eating at restaurants all week and I haven't been home in days. I really don't feel like dealing with crowds and traffic and I'm babbling, sorry."
"Hey, no problem, I know just what you mean." Marley chuckled, "But I thought you said you couldn't cook?"
"That's true, I can't cook but I can manage a decent pasta, garlic bread and a nice salad."
"Mmm, that sounds perfect." They finally reached the elevator and as the door slid open Marley turned to Karen. "So what time should I come over?"
"How about sevenish?"
"Great." Marley smiled and, as the elevator doors closed, she added with a wink, "I'll bring dessert."
It had been a pretty easy day for Karen and she managed to get home with plenty of time to clean up the place before Marley showed up for dinner. Just as she was putting the finishing touches on the living room, her front door opened and her father walked in.
"Hey, Dad," Karen said as she smiled at the man.
"Hey, honey." Looking around, he commented, "Place looks great. Here's the wine you asked for. Are you sure you don't need "
Cutting him off before he could complete that sentence, she sighed. "Dad, I'll be fine. I'm actually pretty good at boiling water and opening jars. They even have salad in a bag so I can't go wrong."
"Alright, I'll just get out of your hair and let you get ready." Smiling as he reached the door, he turned and added, "Have fun tonight, honey. I really like Sergeant Novak."
Her head snapped toward the door but her Dad had already shut it. What does he mean by that I wonder? Sounded almost like he thinks we're having a date!
"What am I going to wear?" the redhead questioned as she paced in front of her closet pulling out and discarding outfit after outfit. What is wrong with me? You'd think I was going on a date or something. "If only " Grabbing an outfit, she quickly dressed and headed out the door. She'd almost reached her destination when she remembered her offer to bring dessert. Oh, what an idiot! Fortunately she also remembered passing a bakery back a ways and quickly changed course. I'll just grab a cheesecake or something Does she even like cheesecake? Dessert in hand, Marley made her way up to Karen's apartment, taking a deep breath she knocked on the door.
Hearing the knock, Karen smoothed down her top and glanced quickly around her apartment before opening the door. I don't think I was ever this nervous when I invited a date to my apartment. This isn't even a date so what is wrong with me? Smile firmly in place and sweaty hands wiped, Karen opened the door to an equally beaming Marley. "Hey, come on in." Moving aside, she motioned the redhead into the room.
"Thanks." Taking a quick look around, Marley commented, "Nice place. And something smells wonderful Are you sure you can't cook?"
It had been a running joke with them, ever since the day she'd quipped about Karen being bad with kids and Karen countered with not being able to cook either. They had formed an interesting friendship since meeting at a crime scene not so long ago. She could have sworn she heard the old gaydar ping when she spotted the gorgeous U.S. Marshall and so she'd suggested dinner. She still couldn't describe the look in the brunette's eyes when she'd asked her if she was seeing anyone. And though it took a few of the longest seconds in her life, she found out that not only was she seeing someone, but that someone was a guy. Ah, well, at least it seemed they'd developed a friendship. Drawn from her musings by the sound of Karen's voice, Marley returned her attention.
"If you call boiling water and opening a jar cooking then I guess I can." She motioned at the box in the redhead's hands. "Can I take that from you?"
"Oh, right, well I did promise to bring dessert." She smiled as she handed the box over. "Hope you like New York style cheesecake."
"Ooh, maybe we should skip right to dessert!" the brunette stated as she looked longingly at the bakery box.
"Uh." Normally hearing those words out of a woman's mouth would make me extremely happy. "Is this your way of getting out of feeding me?"
"No, of course not! I mean, I didn't slave over a hot stove for " She glanced at her watch. "Twenty minutes for nothing."
Dinner turned out to be even more enjoyable than either woman had anticipated. Conversation was light, and the laughter flowed as easily as the wine. Dessert and coffee followed and Marley nearly lost it when Karen moaned her appreciation of the cheesecake. Drinks and more pleasant conversation followed dessert. Each woman was completely oblivious to the time until, at some point, there was a lull and Marley looked at her watch.
"Oh my, Karen, it's after two!" Jumping up a bit too quickly the redhead stumbled.
"Hey, are you alright?" Karen asked as she noticed the misstep.
"Yeah, fine. It's a good thing I don't have to work tomorrow." Suddenly feeling more than a little tired and the slightest bit tipsy, Marley reached for her purse.
"Listen, I don't think you should drive home right now. Since you're off tomorrow, why don't you just stay here tonight?"
"No, no, I'm fine." Yawning, Marley rubbed at her eyes. "I can't put you out like that."
Standing in front of the once again yawning woman, Karen took her purse from her and laid it on the chair. "You should stay. My couch is pretty comfortable and I can get you a pair of shorts and a T-shirt to sleep in." Before the redhead could protest, she continued: "I even have a clean toothbrush. Plus my other specialty is scrambled eggs, coffee and toast."
"Well, when you put it like that, how can I refuse? I really am pretty tired and more than a little buzzed to be driving anyway." Smiling at the brunette, she added, "Thanks, Karen, I appreciate it."
"Friends don't let friends drive slightly buzzed, so I'm just doing my friendly duty."
After changing and preparing for bed, Karen fixed up the couch while Marley got changed. They chatted for a bit until they could barely keep their eyes open. Saying their goodnights, Karen went to her bedroom and Marley settled onto the couch. A short time later each woman was sleeping soundly.
At about four-thirty Marley awoke to relieve her bladder and, half asleep, she absently made her way into the bedroom instead of the living room. Lifting the covers on the bed, she slipped in and snuggled down to resume her sleep.
Marley awoke with a pounding in her head that matched the pounding between her legs. Whoever was spooned behind her was squeezing her breast, and from her level of arousal, probably had been for some time. She tried to clear her foggy brain in hopes of remembering who it was that was in bed with her. Suddenly lucid, she tensed. Karen? She tried to get out of bed without waking the woman. Even though she was the one being groped, she knew it would be very awkward for Karen. As she tried to move away, she found herself pulled back against the brunette.
Karen was slowly waking. Feeling lethargic and warmer than she ever remembered, she snuggled closer to the person in front of her. Sighing in comfort she moved her hand up the chest wait, that feels like a Oh my God, Marley! Removing her hand and scooting back, she watched as the redhead moved to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm so sorry," she said as she reached out to touch the woman's shoulder.
Flinching, Marley choked out, "Don't please." And Karen moved her hand. "Just just give me a few minutes, okay?"
"Sure. Okay." Karen got up and went into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. She couldn't even look at herself in the mirror. "What have I done? How can I ever fix this?"
Meanwhile, Marley tried to regain her composure. It was bad enough she was in love with a straight woman but now she also knew what it felt like to have that woman pressed against her back and caressing her breast. She knew she had to get out of there, and so she got up and quickly dressed. Just as she was heading out the door she heard the bathroom door open. She fumbled with the deadbolt in her haste to escape.
Karen came out of the bathroom and noticed Marley was no longer in the room. She knew she had to make this right, so she walked into the living room to find her. "Marley?" she called out as she heard the door locks being opened. "Marley, please wait."
Finally getting the door opened, Marley tried to ignore Karen's plea. She knew she couldn't stay, not right now. She also knew she shouldn't turn around but she couldn't help herself. Opening the door further, she quickly looked back at Karen before she stepped through and closed the door behind her.
Karen stopped dead in her tracks as she saw the look of utter devastation on the redhead's face.
A few days had passed and neither woman had any contact with the other. No cases brought them together, no accidental meetings on the street, no second hand information overheard. Of course that meant that neither one of them had come to terms with what had happened that night. It was starting to take its toll on them both and people were starting to notice. People like her boss
"Karen, can I see you in my office?"
"Sure, Amos, be right there." Finishing up what she was doing, she made her way into his office. "What's up?"
"I just got back from Police HQ," he said as he looked meaningfully at her.
Confused, she asked, "Do we have a new case?"
Rolling his eyes, he decided to get down to brass tacks. "Are you okay? You've seemed a little preoccupied lately."
"No, I'm fine." The look of confusion continued.
"Listen, Karen, I'm gonna tell you exactly what I'd tell any of the guys out there." Having her full attention, he continued, "Go and find her. Tell her you're sorry or whatever it takes. Because I need you to be focused on your job."
"Amos, what are you talking about?"
"Karen, when I was at HQ I saw Sergeant Novak." He looked at her knowingly.
Eyes wide, she responded, "Did she say something?"
"No, she just had the exact same look on her face as you do."
"Amos, we're not "
"I don't care what you are or aren't, Sisco. I only want you to be at 100%. Novak too. It's dangerous out there."
"But, I'm not "
The ringing of the phone interrupted her as Amos picked it up. Karen watched as a strange look came over her boss. He glanced up at her and quickly looked away as he continued his conversation. From what Karen could gather it sounded as if someone had been hurt, but who? Finally, Amos hung up the phone, and with a heavy sigh looked up at his Marshall.
"Karen, Sergeant Novak was shot this morning."
"What! Is she okay? Where is she?" Panic infused every cell in the brunette's body as all previous conversation fled her brain. Her focus was completely on finding out about and getting to Marley.
"I need you to calm down for me, Sisco." Waiting as the woman took a few deep breaths, he continued, "She's at Jackson Memorial, she was shot in the leg but her worse injury occurred as a result of falling after being shot. She suffered a pretty severe concussion and was unconscious for quite some time."
"But, she'll be okay, right?"
Seeing the poorly masked fear and anguish in Karen's eyes, Amos gestured toward the door. "Why don't you go and see for yourself? There's nothing pressing going on right now and you can report back to us on her condition." That last bit he added just in case she recalled their earlier conversation and decided to play stubborn.
"Oh, good, okay. I'll just head over there now and I'll let you know how she is." Heading for the door she turned and smiled at the only other man I her life she really trusted. "Thanks, Amos."
Managing to arrive at the hospital in one piece Karen immediately made her way to the admissions desk. "Excuse me, I'm here for Sergeant Novak. She was brought in this morning with a gunshot wound and a concussion. Can you tell me where she is?"
"Are you family?" the nurse asked.
"What? No, I'm a Marshall." Pulling out her badge, she continued, "And we work together."
"I'm sorry, only family members can see her right now."
"She's her partner. I think this hospital allows partners access equal to family members, right?"
Turning toward the voice, Karen fell into strong, familiar arms. "Dad? Oh, Dad."
Smiling at the touching scene, the nurse looked up at the distraught woman's father. "Well, why didn't she just say that? Of course she can go back, and as her father, so can you. She's just down the hall in room 256."
Not releasing his hold on his daughter, Marshall made his way toward the room after thanking the nurse. "Okay, sweetie, we're here."
Pulling away at his words, Karen looked up with tear-filled eyes. "Dad, it's all my fault. We had a misunderstanding and we didn't talk about it, and Amos told me I should talk to her, but it's too late now."
"Oh, honey, that's not true. Sergeant Novak's job is dangerous but she's a professional and she can handle herself. She wouldn't let personal issues cloud her judgment." Pulling the brunette in for a hug, he added, "And it's not too late. Go on in there and be there for her. Talk about whatever was left unsaid, but don't put your guilt trip on her, okay. You need to just show her that you care, that you're glad she's okay."
"Dad, I we I mean Marley and I, we're not "
"Listen, honey, once you've figured out what's going on you can come to me about it and talk. Until then I think there's someone you need to see."
Giving the man another hug and kiss on the cheek, she moved toward the door. "Thanks, Dad," she said as she slipped into the room.
Slowly Karen opened the door. She really had no idea what she would say when she entered the room, she only knew she needed to see for herself that Marley was all right. Her head was swimming with so many confusing emotions, but one thing was becoming increasingly clear. What she felt for this woman was so much more than she had realized.
Looking into the slightly glazed eyes of the redhead lying in the hospital bed, Karen moved toward her. "Hey, how are you feeling?" Taking in the machines and the tubes surrounding the woman, the brunette pulled a chair up to the side of the bed. "Check that, I'm pretty sure you're not feeling your best right now."
"Hmm, actually I'm suddenly feeling much better." Smiling at the now sitting brunette, Marley closed her eyes and sighed. "I was getting a little tired of staring at the ceiling and this view is soooo much nicer."
Trying hard to hide the blush caused by those words, Karen placed her hand on Marley's arm. "You scared me, do you have any idea how much you scared me?" Squeezing the redhead's arm, Karen tried to tamp down the emotions welling up inside her. "When Amos told me you were shot, I almost lost it, thinking I never got a chance to make things right with you."
"Hey, look at me." Reaching for the brunette's hand, Marley pleaded, "Please, look at me." When tearful hazel eyes finally met concerned blue, Marley held her gaze. "I'm fine, and things weren't really wrong between us, were they?"
"Marley, what happened that night I should have made it a point to talk with you about it." Wiping at a stray tear, Karen added, "I know why I didn't, I was a coward."
"A coward? How were you a coward? I was the one who ran."
"No, Marley, you ran because of what I did."
"You were asleep, Karen. I can hardly hold you accountable for something you weren't aware you were doing."
"Okay, I'll give you that. I was asleep when I was groping you, and I didn't try to stop you when you left." Smiling at the redhead's raised eyebrow, Karen reached up to stroke it. "How do you do that?" Karen chuckled, as the eyebrow in question once again made its way skyward.
"I should have come to you as well, to talk about it, but I honestly couldn't figure out what to say." Closing her eyes, Marley tried to find the words now. "I felt so many things that night, besides the obvious, and it took me a lot longer than I expected to accept my fate."
Confused, Karen asked, "Your fate?"
"Yes, it seems I am fated to want what I can't have." Her statement was accompanied by a sad smile.
An equally sad smile graced the brunette's face. "How can you be so sure? It sounds like you've found answers when all I've found are all sorts of questions."
Now it was Marley's turn to be confused. However, just as she was about to ask Karen to elaborate, the door opened and her doctor walked in.
"Ms. Novak, I need to do a quick check on you." Turning toward the brunette the doctor extended his hand. "Hello, I'm Doctor Hamilton. You must be Marley's partner."
Catching a glimpse of Marley's widened eyes Karen quickly shook the man's hand and answered. "Yes, Karen Sisco. Thanks for taking such good care of her. Can you tell me a bit more about her injuries?"
"Absolutely, I'll fill you in while I check on Marley." Looking at the redhead he asked. "Is that alright with you?"
Somewhat dazed and more than a bit confused at hearing Karen referred to as her partner she answered simply, "Sure."
"Alright, let's start with the less serious injury." Lifting the sheet on the left side of the bed the doctor began removing the dressing from Marley's leg. "She was shot in the left thigh with a small caliber gun. Fortunately it was a through-and-through and it didn't strike any major arteries or any bones." Replacing the dressing he continued. "She'll be laid up for about a week, no weight on the leg for at least three days and then limited for four more. After that we'll remove the stitches and start rehabilitation." Smiling at the intently listening brunette he added, "If you'd like you can come for her rehab sessions and we'll have the therapist show you what to do so you can continue treatment at home."
"Okay, that sounds good. So, the concussion is more serious than the gunshot wound?"
"Yes, Ms. Novak suffered a fairly severe head trauma and was unconscious for approximately twenty three minutes. We've been monitoring her and having nurses check in on her to ensure she doesn't sleep. If she were to sleep she could lapse into a comatose state again so we'd like to keep her awake for at least the next nine hours."
"Well, if it's okay, I'll stay here with her and keep an eye on her." Smiling at the redhead she added. "We've got a lot of things to talk about."
Moving to the head of the bed the doctor took out a penlight and looked into Marley's eyes, checked the readings on the machines surrounding her and moved back to the foot of the bed. "So, Marley, how does that sound?"
"Great. It's sounds great."
"Alright then, I'll leave you two to your conversation and let the nurses know that they won't need to do the half-hour checks anymore. It was nice to meet you Miss Sisco." Giving a slight wave he made his way out the door.
"Partner?" Marley asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, well, yeah." Blushing a bit she told her the story. "They weren't going to let me see you because I'm not family and then my Dad showed up and told them we were partners. So here I am."
The next few hours were spent making idle conversation, both women studiously avoiding breaching the one subject that was weighing heavily on both of their minds. Karen was seated next to Marley's bed and was fighting the fatigue created by the combination of lack of sleep and a sudden surge of adrenaline that was now quickly dissipating. Before she realized what was happening she closed her eyes
A little over an hour later Karen stirred, slowly waking she raised her head and found herself captured by the most beautiful blue eyes Oh my God! "Marley! Are you alright? I can't believe I fell asleep!"
Grabbing the brunette's hand Marley assured her. "Hey, I'm fine, don't worry. You still kept me awake."
"I stayed awake because I spent the time staring at a very beautiful woman."
"Marley." Karen once again found herself blushing. "Still, I promised to keep you awake, you're the one with a concussion and I fell asleep!"
"Don't beat yourself up over it. If you weren't here there would have been no one but the nurses."
"Nope. They're all dead to me, or I'm dead to them or they're actually dead."
"It's okay Karen. I've adjusted. Besides it makes having friends like you all the sweeter."
"So there's no one you need?"
"Only you." Chuckling at the flustered and still blushing brunette Marley continued. "I know, I know. But you are a beautiful woman and I am a big flirt. So until I find your gay twin " A slight smirk graced the redheads face as she thought about the irony of the situation. "So, these questions?"
"Right, um what happened that night. I'm so sorry Marley."
"Like I said before Karen, you were asleep."
"I know, but still " Karen smiled as the redhead's eyebrow made its way skyward yet again. " waking up holding you was certainly a revelation. I never knew I was a snuggler, you know why?" At the redhead's negative headshake Karen continued. "Because I've never woken up with another person in my bed. I've never spent the night with a lover because it never felt right. When I woke up with you that morning I remember feeling so warm and comfortable."
"That's probably because we didn't, uh, do anything the night before."
"No, Marley, that's not it. I've thought about that night so many times, thought about what I felt that night and every other time I've been in your company." Taking a deep breath, Karen took Marley's hand in hers and looked deeply into her eyes. She wanted Marley to know that what she was about to say was important. Probably the most important thing she'd ever said to anyone to date. "I've been drawn to you from the moment I met you. I tried to chalk it up to not having any close female friends but I realized I was just fooling myself."
"Karen, don't do this I can't hear this." Tears quickly filled the redhead's eyes at Karen's admission. "You have to be sure, no regrets "
"No regrets, Marley. Regrets are no fun. You " Caressing the redhead's cheek, she smiled brightly. "You are fun. And you make me fun. No one's ever done that."
The redhead sobbed and the tears finally fell as she realized what had happened. Karen, the woman she wanted but never dreamed she'd have, had just confessed her feelings and given her back her hope.
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