Nerves. She still felt like a bundle of nerves, unable to calm down. Excitement was also laced within the nervousness but sis didn't give her internal conflictions away. For a week she had seemed calm, self-assured; it had taken them that long to become reacquainted and comfortable as they had before-before her death, before her "rebirth", before her undead state. In all honesty is seemed like a painfully slow process for Karen who wanted to reach out at every second and hug Nikki, for the desire and need to remind herself that it was real. To touch-feel connected and have that simple sensation that now felt heightened.
It was days of brief conversations and summarizing what had happened with her new friends and those who made themselves into enemies. Nikki was beyond patient, a trait that Karen appreciated even though she knew fully well that her girlfriend wanted more answers and more details. Sometimes Karen avoided them, not in the mood to dredge the memories from their graves. She knew how much she had changed. The dark sense of humor was there to stay.
Now they could lay down together-comfortably talking. No holding back-a complete lack of inhabition.
"I think the world has a visceral issue with something young dying." She said calmly and gently. "It seems easier if its beaten up and hard to look at. Your immediate reaction is to look away. Even I'll admit I had it easier fitting in…I could blend." She paused and took a deep breath. The action was refreshing.
"Because you're beautiful…" Nikki said gently and with sincerity.
"Thank you babe," she replied sweetly. "But looks aren't everything. They fade." She said with deadly accuracy and a knowing tone. "It just doesn't matter anymore. You become obsessed with living that you avoid looking in a mirror because it tells you the truth," she said solemnly. "You're stuck like that and you won't age." She laughed dryly. "We're almost like vampires in that sense," she said with her own amusement.
"What did it feel like to you?" She asked delicately, her eyes peering into Karen's imploring without demand or expectations.
"Its like a near death experience," she said gently and felt her girlfriend tense from the word death. Karen couldn't blame her, the word held weight. "Its just prolonged…hazy for some…as I'm told. Or acutely away," she tried to explain. "And either way its overwhelming," she got out stoically and felt Nikki running her hand across her back, trying to sooth away the memories. "Sometimes it felt like sleepwalking. For some it was constantly similar to the tip on the tongue theory when you know a word, the facts, but can't verbalize them. Its frustrating as all hell and you know I'm not patient…"
"Understatement of the day," she said playfully, cutting her off. Karen smirked and enjoyed the teasing. It was nice and necessary to have those instances of humor when she knew they needed to discuss these things.
"So it was very annoying in the beginning when I couldn't find my words," she said looking up at the ceiling as she felt Nikki who was on her side move closer to her with her arm coming around Karen's waist more.
"And you've always used words instead of fists. You could inspire war or an uprising with the way you speak," she said with gentle admiration and conviction. "That's your violence," she said knowingly. When Karen was alive or pre-zombie as she now called it and dating Nikki in secrecy they had talked about how the world had a long history of violence and how people are often capable of malice and brutality in their own ways. "Though," she continued and got out softly, "its often beautiful and poignant," she ended with a kiss to her cheek. That moment made Karen at ease and she tilted her head to lightly kiss Nikki. A ghosting of lips, a delicate touch that Karen welcomed and embraced in its hypersensitivity. She knew she loved Nikki, couldn't refrain from caring and thinking about her even when she was more or less a corpse. Her body and mind still held emotions as though the heart was unwilling to give them up. And now they had a different relationship. She appreciated Nikki's maturity, her understanding, her ability to gently push her to be open and less guarded and in turn give her love, willingly, without want or conditions.
She knew it was the reason why people kept living-love. Nikki looked at her pensively as they were facing one another. She seemed slightly unsure but kept her hand against Karen's lower back.
"When you kissed Pete did you feel anything?" There was an edge of jealousy, which Karen felt endearing.
"Sheer repulsion," she said with a frown and her features expressing disgust. "Revolting, regurgitation…" she lingered off and smirked. "What other r words can I throw in?" She asked jokingly. Her smart-alec tone was clear. She paused and went back to her point, "falls flat." Instinctually she brought her hand closer to Nikki's face. Her palm holding her jaw line with her fingertips resting along the back of her neck. "It was acting. And frankly I think I deserve an Oscar," she smirked, making it easier to set up Nikki to relax.
"Why did you go through with it?"
"He tried to kill Pheobe," she said with a dead tone, her voice coming out cold.
"Who's Pheobe?" Nikki asked curiously without judgement.
"A girl who reminded me of you," Karen replied after a small sigh. It was refreshing to have had a friend like Pheobe who was loving, king and a reminder of the potential that the normal/undead people have.
"So you were in love with her?" Nikki questions and again lacked jealousy and a critical tone. She remained warm and welcomed the conversation.
"As unrequited love goes," she said truthfully. Her girlfriend deserving that.
"Did she know?" Nikki wondered gently, wanting to know of Karen's life when she was a zombie.
"That I would have been in love with her if I let myself?" She asked with a frown. "Maybe." She offered unsure. "I kissed her on the cheek once. She blushed madly. It was rather adorable." Karen said with a small smile.
"Good thing I'm not the jealous type," Nikki said pulling Karen closer, though very gently, with care. They both knew Nikki didn't have to be that gentle. They were about the same size. Slim with Nikki a bit taller with brown hair and dark, dark brown eyes. Only now Nikki seemed less pale in comparison to Karen who was still getting more color back into her. She appeared more pink and could now blush.
"Clearly," she said with her signature smirk and wrapped her arm more so along her girlfriend's shoulder. Their body language relaxed as they lay there for a few minutes without talking. Karen had missed her girlfriend's smell and how her pillow held her scent so well.
"Okay," she said and gave the impression that the discussion was over; the question answered if Karen was interested in Pete was killed. "With…all the…experiments and that school you went to…with the research and dealing with anti-zombie groups…did you have any organization…or I guess what I'm trying to say," she paused and frowned, "is what were you feeling at the time?" She asked outright but knew Karen had difficulty expressing everything. Nikki knew her girlfriend was smart, intelligent, but she held her emotions in check and didn't share them often. It was the logical part of her brain that Karen preferred when dealing with stress. Nikki had experienced it again and again when Karen had wanted to be public about their relationship but Nikki was hesitant.
"If you prick us will we not bleed concept…" she faded off. "People thought of us as inferior and abominations," she said with disdain, unable to hide it and her voice coming out strained. "All because it made them feel better about themselves," she paused and took a deep breath. "Simple psychology," she said off handedly in a blasé tone. "Its not as though its never occurred throughout history-oppression. People calling immigrants aliens…anyone gay a fag or dyke," she flinched. "We happen to be more…overt," she said choosing her words, "about being marginalized," she said in a tone as though she were giving a lecture, very matter of fact. "And no one wants to be reminded of their own mortality. And the lack of a possibly god….even if I am pretty animated for a corpse," she said in all seriousness but quoted Buffy the Vampire Slayer to lighten the mood knowing her girlfriend would pick up on it.
"Jesus you had a lot of time to think with your temporary insomnia," the taller girl replied as she looked Karen's features over.
"Actually I still have a hard time falling asleep," she admitted softly.
"Why?" Nikki asked gently and thought in her mind that she would ask if Karen wanted to stay the night. No motives but for her girlfriend to sleep better if she could in a place that seemed familiar to her.
"Maybe because I fear waking up a zombie again." She said without emotion.
"That's not going to happen again," Nikki replied with certainty.
"I know its not rational, but…"
"I love you," Nikki said cutting her off.
"I fear that too," Karen said quietly and she witnessed her girlfriend frown and tried to explain. "The lack of love…even my perceived lack of support, care…is what made me die. I think the lack of love hurts everyone in some way," she said wisely.
"Death's aged you," Nikki said with an edge of sadness but couldn't refute the fact.
"Well the grim reaper's never young in pictures," she tried joking.
"Stop," Nikki said with control. "You're still you. Just different. I want to say…" she paused and searched for the words, "evolved." They paused letting it sink in. Karen has never considered that idea. Karen could feel Nikki's warmth, not only physical that was soothing but her emotional warmth.
"Why…did it take you so long to come back here? I mean…I know this town isn't great, but…" she drifted off and kept eye contact with her girlfriend.
"I didn't…even feel alive when I was alive. I didn't want to hurt you by coming back." She said with apprehension.
"You hurt me by leaving," Nikki replied calmly. There wasn't a need to raise her voice, she knew Karen understood her perspective and didn't look aware.
"I'm sorry," she said as though she couldn't say it enough but knew if she did it would lose its value. What was called semantic satiation. And Karen firmly believed that words mattered. "I didn't think you'd take it…what happened…" she tried to give her reasons.
"This is what happens when you assume," Nikki replied with her own smirk as she lightly pushed her girlfriend. "Stop thinking and feel for once," she continued, knowing that even though Karen over thought and overanalyzed while she felt a lot and sometimes too much in her opinion-they balanced one another.
"Yes ma'am," Karen said with her smirk that Nikki loved and moved closer to kiss Nikki, her lips once again meeting lips but with less holding back, more emotion in the affection, a non-verbal acclimation of commitment and a telling of more.
You have to promise me that you'll stay," Nikki said with command. And again Karen felt her heart more intensely, the blood pumping through strong and with certainty. She loved that Nikki could match her and challenge her but also her humanity that Karen felt she wouldn't fully get back. Nikki wasn't selfish, she didn't hold demands over her or expectations. She asked for something, something that they both knew was needed but more importantly she asked.
"I'll promise you." She said with the emphasis on the last word.