DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thank you to Debbie for taking on the job of beta for this fic as well as the 22 others and especially for agreeing to write her specialty, Birds of Prey, as part of this 24 fandom series. Thanks, Deb, I truly do appreciate it.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Soaked to the bone, Marshal Karen Sisco raced through the ankle-deep water, her hair plastered against her scalp and her clothes weighing her down. Her breath came in gulps, and for a brief moment, she feared she might drown from the heavy rain the sudden downpour provided, but she pushed on, her legs burning from the additional obstacles the elements had placed upon her. The rain beat down even harder, and she squinted to try to find the shadow of the man she'd been chasing. No one was there he'd eluded her.
"Damn it," Karen cursed under her breath and ducked under the cover of a metal awning for protection. The sheets of water poured off its edge and splashed violently against the concrete of the pavement and onto her feet and shins. The rain didn't seem to be slowing anytime soon.
The sound of running footsteps, sloshing through water, could just be heard over the hard, deafening rain. Karen smiled and braced herself for impact. The idiot was heading straight for her.
Rivulets of water flowed freely from saturated red locks and into the eyes of Detective Marley Novak. She'd long since lost sight of the woman who'd snatched a purse from an elderly lady at the supermarket she frequented. She should have known better than to give chase in the pouring rain. Now, too far from the store, she headed for the only cover she'd remembered seeing on this particular block as she lengthened her stride, no longer concerned with her already ruined shoes. With her focus on the steadily rising water, Marley never saw the person standing directly in her path.
"Ooofff." The air left Karen's lungs right before her ass hit the four inches of water that covered the sidewalk. She'd realized too late that the charging body had been closer than she'd thought.
"Oh jeez, I'm so sorry." Marley had tried to reach out and grab the falling woman, but had barely been able to stay on her own two feet. She extended her hand to offer assistance.
A loud clap of thunder sounded overhead as the rain intensified in strength. Without a word, Marley grabbed Karen's hand and took off down the flooded street, the water rushing rapidly toward them in its quest to reach the already overflowing drain. Getting to safety was Marley's first concern, and Karen blindly followed, trusting the detective to do just that.
"Here." Marley tossed a dry, fluffy towel at the marshal, who was still standing just inside the entryway of Marley's apartment. Drenched from head to boot, she looked far worse than the proverbial drowned rat. She caught the towel and quickly wrapped it around herself tightly.
"I'm dripping all over your floor," said Karen, the chill of the air-conditioned apartment causing goose bumps to rise on her arms and legs. She shivered and pulled the towel closer.
"No problem, I'm just glad to be out of the rain." Marley reached under her towel and unfastened her pants, stepping out of them with ease as she made her way to the television set. Karen shivered more violently, but this time, it wasn't solely because of the cool air. Marley appeared to be unfazed as to how much skin she was now exposing, her firm, muscular legs seeming to go on forever. Reaching for the remote, she clicked on the television and took a step back, a frown immediately forming on her face at the words of the broadcaster.
" . . . The storm has literally come out of nowhere, already dropping 8 inches of rain in the past hour with more expected throughout the afternoon and evening. Flooding is only going to get worse, and local officials are asking citizens to shelter in place. Don't venture out for any reason . . ." Marley tuned out the reporter and headed for the phone, while Karen attempted to extricate her cell from the pocket of her pants the same pants that were currently acting as her second skin. She just hoped the storm wasn't as bad as the weatherman was predicting.
Standing near the window of her apartment, Marley stared down at the palm trees swaying in the wind. The rain hadn't slowed and now the wind was causing problems of its own. She'd been told to stay out of harm's way and wait out the storm with the rest of the public, and under normal conditions, she'd have ignored her captain's orders and found a way to navigate to the station. However, the idea of riding out the storm with Karen had been much too tempting, so she'd offered the obligatory unhappiness with her captain's decision and had hung up the phone in a huff, noting Karen had flipped her cell closed in feigned disgust as well. She'd seen Karen disgusted before and that particular look hadn't come close to the real thing.
"How tall are you, anyway?" Karen moved into the room and looked down at the hem of Marley's sweat pants that she'd had to fold over and over again to finally lay against her ankles.
Marley turned and glanced at Karen's legs and feet. There had to be at least five inches of material rolled up around the marshal's ankles. She chuckled. "Way taller than you."
"Ya think? At least it's better than being wet." Karen pushed up the sleeves that had covered her hands and struggled to fold the material up over her wrist to her elbow. Marley bit down on her lip at Karen's words. It was way too soon in their enforced confinement to start on the innuendo.
"What did Amos have to say?" Marley crossed the room and stood in front of Karen, taking over the task of sleeve-roller as if she'd helped the marshal dress every day. Karen just held out her arm, gladly relinquishing the job to the other woman.
"He was sorry that Peterson got away but glad I'm out of the storm." Smiling down at the neatly rolled-up sleeve, she held out her other arm. "He said Phil's stuck at a day care center." A rich laugh flowed from her lips. "The new neighbor he's been going on and on about for the past month had a flat tire, so Phil offered to drive her to her job. The rain kept him there."
"Phil at a day care, with all those ankle-biters?" Marley chuckled. "There is a God."
Karen grinned widely and nodded. She never gave a single thought as to why God had chosen to strand her with Marley. "So, what do you want to do?" The moment the words left her lips, the lights in apartment flickered off. So did the A/C.
"Shit," muttered Marley, moving to the windows to fully open the curtains and blinds. She'd wait until the apartment had lost its current coolness before opening the windows. She was just thankful that the A/C had pumped the room full of cold air prior to the loss of power. Maybe power would be restored before it got too warm.
Studying Marley in the soft, shadowy light, Karen felt a familiar tingling edge along her spine, the same sensation she'd experienced before, whenever she'd had the opportunity to spend time with the detective. Frowning slightly, she eased in beside Marley and gazed out the window at the bending trees. "Wow, that's some wind. I've seen tropical storms with tamer winds."
Nodding in agreement, Marley pointed at the now dangling sign that had proudly proclaimed the name of her apartment complex. "That sign didn't budge during the last tropical storm. I can't believe no one saw this coming."
"Yeah, like a rise or fall in barometric pressure or something." Karen shrugged. "I guess there just weren't any signs or someone missed them. I can't imagine not seeing something right in front of your face." The metaphor blew right by Karen as quickly as the driving rain had earlier.
"Well, whatever the reason, I'm just glad I'm not stuck here by myself." Marley held the line at her happiness, not pointing out that the only person she'd ever want to be stranded with was Karen. She'd more than likely strangle or shoot anyone else after the first thirty minutes.
"I'm just glad you live so close. We might have ended up in a worse situation than Phil."
A grin split Marley's face. "I wonder how he's faring."
"Very poorly I imagine." Karen pictured a room full of kids asking question after question. It couldn't have happened to a better guy.
"I'd kill myself." Marley might shoot an adult, but even a screaming spoiled brat with chocolate covered hands was safe from her bare hands or gun. After all, she liked kids; she just didn't like to be around them unless they were sleeping. They were so innocent and sweet when they weren't awake and running around causing havoc.
"Yeah, I think I would too. Phil's going to need a nice, long vacation when this is all over." Karen grinned. "That'd be a nice vacation for me, too. No Phil around to irritate the hell out of me, wanting me to set him up with you."
Marley tilted her head and offered a teasing smile. "So, Phil's interest in me irritates you?"
"Yes, I mean, no . . . I mean, Phil just irritates me, period." Karen hadn't realized how her words might have been taken out of context, although Marley's question had her wondering exactly why she'd make the reference to Phil's interest in the detective in the first place. If she hadn't known better, she'd have accused herself of being jealous, but she wasn't - was she? Because that would mean . . .
"I was just kidding, Karen. I rather enjoy playing with Phil myself whenever I get the chance." Marley crossed the room and plopped down on her love seat. "Men are so easy to get riled up."
"And women aren't?" asked Karen, choosing to stay where she was. Somehow, the distance made it easier to ask questions, especially about Marley's experience with women in general.
"Some are," answered Marley with a shrug. "But it's different. Men get all huffy and defensive, while women usually don't cause a scene. They just wait for the perfect moment to strike back - getting even is more their style."
Karen crossed her arms and leaned back against the wall. "And exactly how many women have gotten even with you?"
"Only one, that's all it took, I ended up having to get my car repainted after she decided to leave me a permanent message." Marley had tried to buff out the paint her ex had sprayed on both sides of her car, but only the 'w' had been successfully eliminated. The 'hore' had stubbornly hung on, although Marley never understood how sleeping with just one other woman classified her as a whore. Besides, she and Katrina had broken up three weeks before she'd gotten drunk and slept with her precinct's dispatcher.
Laughing, Karen pushed off the wall and moved to the other end of the couch. "I can't imagine you doing anything that would warrant having your car spray painted. I'm sure it must have been a huge misunderstanding."
Marley opened her mouth to defend herself further, but the expression on Karen's face showed nothing but sincerity. She'd meant what she'd said. Marley felt an irrational need to know why.
"What makes you think I didn't do something to deserve her wrath?"
"There is no way you'd cheat on someone."
"Go on." Marley grinned and turned toward Karen. It had been a very long time since she'd had her ego boosted.
"Well," Karen sighed, pretending to think hard to come up with reasons for her statement. She paused longer than need be, or rather, longer than Marley thought was necessary.
"Well? Don't you want to tell me what a wonderful catch I am?" A grin broke out on both women's faces.
"So you want specifics then," said Karen, shifting so that she was facing Marley. "Okay, you're smart, funny, honest, good-looking, extremely witty, and professional." She paused and added, "Most of the time anyway as long as there aren't any naked guy suspects lying around."
Marley ignored the reference to her knack at ending cases with naked dead guys and focused on something much more important. "You think I'm good-looking?" She lowered her voice and eased her bended leg onto the cushions, their knees just inches apart. The familiar tingle had returned with Marley's question, but this time Karen didn't try to ignore it or bury it beneath her mass of confusion. Instead, she forced herself to maintain eye contact with the other woman.
"Yes." Her reply was more of a whisper. The conversation was swinging dangerously close to the one they'd had the first time they'd gone out for drinks. Karen had been able to deflect Marley's flirting banter with her less than honest answer to the state of her love life. She'd been surprised by Marley's revelation concerning her sexual preference and had blurted out the first thing that had come to mind. Thankfully, the detective took it all in stride. Karen wondered what Marley would do now.
"Good-looking as in, 'Gee, that Marley Novak is a fine looking woman' or, good-looking as in, 'Wow, Marley Novak is hot'?"
This was it - the moment where the tide could change or continue on its present path. Marley's reply could be answered seriously, or Karen could spin it into a teasing remark. She knew her friend would take either in stride.
"Both, actually," said Karen, her tone shaky, but firm. Not allowing Marley time to process too much and perhaps misinterpret her reply, Karen pushed on. "I don't understand this," she gestured between the two of them, "but, I want to. I'm tired of fighting my feelings, I'm tired of being confused, and I'm tired of being scared."
Marley offered a reassuring smile and suppressed her urge to run out into the storm and shout for joy. "We can talk this through, Karen. I'll answer any questions you have. There's no need to be scared." Slowly reaching out, she eased her hand into Karen's, pleased when the marshal took hold. "I'm a very patient person."
Gazing at their joined hands, Karen nodded in agreement. Marley was possibly the most patient person she'd every met. "So, how does this work? What do we do first?"
"We get to know each other better go out to dinner, maybe a movie or two, perhaps take walks on the beach."
Karen looked up. "But we go out to dinner all the time, and we already know each other fairly well."
"Yes, as friends." Marley squeezed the hand she held and waited for Karen to catch up. It didn't take long.
"Oh . . ." A pink shade colored Karen's cheeks. "Like regular dates then."
"Yeah, just like regular dates."
"Okay, then when do we go out?" Now that she'd crossed the first hurdle, Karen was eager to approach the next one.
Marley glanced toward the window and laughed. "Probably not for a couple of days. The last time we got this much rain, I was stranded in my apartment for three days."
The mention of the length of their possible enforced confinement had Karen suddenly remembering something Marley had said about chasing the purse-snatcher from the supermarket. Her focus changed from their current relationship status to their survival. "Do you have enough food for three days?"
"Yes, I just stocked up my panty the day before yesterday."
"But then why'd you go to the store today?"
Marley bit down on her lip. She'd hoped Karen wouldn't make that particular connection. "I forgot to get something the other day.
Karen mentally listed essential items they'd need. "Bread?"
"Oh hey, crunchy or smooth?" Karen got side-tracked by the peanut butter.
Karen grinned. Another thing in common. She could survive for weeks on bread, water, and peanut butter. "What was it you forgot?"
"Cereal," muttered Marley softly.
"Well, any milk you might have probably won't stay good anyway. What kind of cereal?"
"Cocoa Pebbles." Marley squirmed in her seat like a child, and Karen was tempted to look at the other woman's foot to see if she was digging her toe into the carpet. She looked absolutely adorable.
"That's not cereal; that's a boxful of sugar posing as cereal."
"Hey! Fred Flintstone would not endorse anything harmful to kids."
Karen laughed out loud. "So what other unhealthy foods do you eat?" Sitting back against the end of the love seat, Karen continued to hold onto Marley's hand as the other woman launched into a defense of her food choices. This getting to know more about each other was easier than she'd thought.
Forty-eight hours later, the waters had finally receded, and the two women ventured from the apartment, hand in hand. Karen's questions had all been answered to her satisfaction and then some. Marley had been right. There had been absolutely no reason for her to be afraid.
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