Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA and Universal Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story contains fairly graphic violence. It also contains a consensual relationship between two women. If this is not legal where you are, or you are not of age, then read another story.
The characters contained in this story are mine, and mine alone. Do not copy or distribute this story without my consent. Characters within this story bearing resemblance to persons dead or alive are unintended.
Another disclaimer I liked: Although many of the locations mentioned in this story are real and many of the characters are based on amalgamations of people I have met, I have taken artist license in describing them.
Thank you to my beta author Buxxer.
Thanks also to my beta readers Mercury and Garnet.All comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
It was Christmas Day, and although the parks were open, Toni insisted on spending the day alone with Megan. Megan did her exercises while Toni scribbled furiously on one of her legal tablets. Megan knew that Toni didnt write unless she was somewhat relaxed and that made Megan happy.
When she emerged from the shower, Megan pounced on the bed next to Toni, who was now surrounded by several wads of yellow legal paper. "What are you writing?" Megan asked curiously, trying to get a glimpse from the pad in Tonis lap.
"Nothing," Toni replied, making sure that Megan couldnt see what was on the pad.
"Fine, Ill just find out for myself," Megan teased as she bounded off the bed with one of the crumpled sheets in her hand, waving it at Toni.
Toni was on her feet almost as fast and she grabbed Megan by the wrists. "Dont!" she commanded forcefully. The smile that Megan was wearing fled her face as she stared at Tonis hands gripping her wrists. Seeing her mistake, Toni quickly released Megan. "Im sorry Megan I "
"Its okay," Megan told Toni, her voice a little sad. "I wont read it if you dont want me to. I was just teasing."
"No I mean I want you to read it. Its for you I just wanted to get it right first. Im sorry I scared you," Toni added as she gently turned Megans face up towards her own. She saw that Megans eyes were full of unshed tears. "Megan, please forgive me? I shouldnt have grabbed you Im an idiot " She didnt get a chance to complete her thought because Megan had wrapped her arms around Tonis neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Toni could feel Megans forgiveness in the kiss, but couldnt help mentally berating herself for having such a quick temper, especially with Megan.
"Thank you," Megan said quietly when their kiss finally broke.
"For what?" Toni asked, "Making you cry again?"
"No silly for wanting to write something just for me."
"I guess the only thing I succeeded at was making a mess," she said looking at the discarded pages littering the bed and the floor, "and scaring you."
"Toni, you dont think my tears were because you scared me did you?"
"If not, then why?"
"Because you just told me that you were writing something just for me I was touched and I guess the waterworks just turned on," Megan told her as her bright smile returned to her face. She saw the understanding cross Tonis face and added, "Besides, you dont scare me Antonia Ferenci."
"I dont?" she asked smiling as Megan pushed her slowly backwards towards the bed.
"Nope, not one little bit," she punctuated this statement with tiny pokes at Tonis chest and then pushed her over when she realized they reached the bed. "Ive got your number, you know."
"You do?" Toni smiled as her lover straddled her hips.
"Mmmhmmm, want me to show you?"
"Sure, you can try anyway," Toni challenged.
Megan leaned down and began to kiss the pulse point below Tonis right ear and after several minutes, and a tiny moan, which Toni tried hard to conceal, she switched over to left ear and repeated the process. This time she nibbled the lobe and sighed contentedly so that her breath would blow gently into Tonis ear. Several minutes later, she stopped abruptly and rolled onto her back, smugly lying with her arms behind her head.
"What?" Toni said, sounding dazed. She opened her eyes and looked at Megan trying to focus her mind after the sudden departure of Megans body and warm kisses.
She rolled over and gently pinned Megan beneath her gazing into the amazing emerald eyes. For a few moments she simply sat and regarded her partner. "I hope you plan on finishing what you started, you little monster," she teased as she leaned in for a kiss.
"I thought youd never ask," Megan told her as she wrapped her arms around her.
A couple of hours later, Toni woke from a light doze. Megan was draped across her body and something was poking her in the back. She gently rolled Megan over and covered her with the blankets and then rolled herself over to find what she had been lying on. It was her pen and pad. She laughed quietly to herself and picked them up, trying to finish what she had started earlier.
She was sure that she was the only writer on earth that hated poetry yet here she was, trying to pen a sonnet for Megan. She wanted to give Megan a piece of herself for Christmas and aside from physically opening her chest and handing the beautiful woman her heart, this was the only thing she could come up with.
About an hour later, she laid the pen and pad down, knowing that it wasnt in her to write anything better. She watched as her lover stretched lazily and began to stir. She got up quickly, gathered the scraps of paper and threw them in the wastebasket. Then she dressed. As she was tying her last bootlace, Megan opened her eyes.
"Where are you going?" she asked sleepily. Toni went around and knelt beside the bed.
"I just need to stretch my legs," she told Megan and then kissed her softly on the lips. "Merry Christmas," she added and thrust the pad into Megans hands. Just as quickly, she was out the door.
Megan rubbed her eyes and looked at the pad. In Tonis neat script it said:
December 25, 1999 Merry Christmas
I thought I could never be anything until you.
You are the sun that lights my day
And the moon that affects my tides.
You give my sharp edged world contours
That Ive only seen in my dreams.
I was a puzzle, incomplete,
You were the missing piece.
You resuscitated my stilled heart
With a simple kiss.
I feel blessed to have experienced
Things even immortals havent dreamed.
And I feel awed to have been given a gift
That no one deserves you.
I love you, T.
Megan began to laugh and cry at the same time. She knew it wasnt award-winning poetry, but it was hers. The person who she loved most in this world wrote it for her and it made her feel special. She jumped out of the bed and headed for the door. She had almost turned the handle in her hurry to get to Toni and thank her for the wonderful gift, when she realized that she wasnt dressed. She grabbed some clothes out of her bag and then went to the bathroom to wash her face. She didnt want to give Toni another dose of her never-ending waterworks. She rummaged through her bag until she found what she was looking for. She went back to the bed and gently tore the page from the legal pad, carefully folded it and placed it in her breast pocket. Grabbing a room key she rushed out the door nearly colliding with Toni.
Toni was standing with either hand braced on the doorjamb facing Megan, her head hanging down. "It was stupid, huh?" she asked sheepishly. As the shock of finding Toni standing, waiting just outside the door began to wear off, Megan grabbed her shirt and dragged her back into the room.
"It was beautiful," Megan told her sincerely wrapping her arms around her tall lover.
They stood holding each other for several minutes. Toni breathed a sigh of relief. Personally, she thought her attempt at poetry was schmaltzy crap, but Megan seemed to like it, and that made it worth the effort.
"Here," Megan said, stepping back and handing Toni a tiny box.
"What is it?" Toni asked.
"Your Christmas present, open it," Megan said, nervously biting her lip. She wasnt sure whether Toni would like it, but she couldnt find anything she thought was special, so she grabbed it.
"Megan, you shouldnt have," she said awkwardly trying to give it back. "I didnt get you anything."
"Yes you did. Your poem was beautiful. I loved it." She watched as Toni hesitated. "Dont you even want to open it?" She became nervous. It was obvious that the small box contained an item of jewelry, and she knew Toni didnt wear any. She began to think she had made a mistake when Toni opened it.
Inside Toni found a silver ring with a small rainbow heart on it. Inside the heart was the initial M. "Wow," was the only thing Toni said as she dropped the unneeded box and began trying it on her fingers. She found that it fit perfectly on her pinky. "Look, its perfect," she said softly and a silent tear slid down her face.
They held each other again for several more minutes. Megan felt a teardrop land in her hair and looked up at the blue-eyed woman. "Hey, cut that out," Megan said. "Waterworks are my territory."
They regarded each other for a moment and then began to laugh. Their merriment was interrupted by a loud growl from Megans stomach. This only fueled their amusement.
"Wed better go get you something to eat," Toni said as she brushed the tears from her face. "Besides, Im starving too."
After lunch, they returned to the room and cuddled. They sang as many Christmas Carols as they could remember and laughed and talked until early evening. Megan suggested that they drive around town to look at Christmas lights, a tradition her family usually upheld on Christmas Eve.
When they reached an area called Old Towne, it seemed as though quite a party was going on. They parked as close as they could so that they could check it out. At the heart of Old Towne, they found what appeared to be nearly a hundred antique and rebuilt classic cars cruising in a slow moving parade. Most of them had Christmas lights adorning their autos. Both women found the sight incredible.
Megans favorite was a 58 Mercury painted bright, cab yellow, with tiny windows and no door handles. Tonis favorite was a classic, black 57 Chevy with flames painted on the sides. They watched the parade and window-shopped at the charming old time shops, eating greasy pizza and drinking beer along with the rest of the crowd for nearly three hours. Old Towne began to close up around 10pm and they took it as their cue to leave.
Toni insisted upon a shower when they returned to the hotel and Megan joined her. They changed into their pajamas and climbed into bed.
"So," Toni said as they cuddled together, "what was you favorite Christmas present ever?"
"You mean besides your poem?"
"Megan, Im being serious here," she sighed, rolling her eyes.
"I am serious, Toni. No one has ever written a poem for me or anything that required that much effort. I love it even if you think its silly."
"Okay, let me amend my question. What was your favorite Christmas present when you were a kid?" She knew that Megan had been honest in saying that she loved the poem, and every time she looked at the ring on her finger, her eyes began to fill with tears, until she finally stopped glancing at it every few minutes.
"Lets see. When I was about eight-years-old it was this standing toy pinball machine. It was just my size, and I loved pinball machines. It had flashing lights and a counter that went around like a real pinball machine. I think the thing I loved most about it was that I hadnt asked for it, you know, picked it out of the Sears catalog, so it was a surprise. And no one could beat me on it, not even Pat or Colin. It pissed them off no end to be beaten by their younger sister. What about you? What was your favorite Christmas present as a kid?"
Toni thought about it for a while. "My grandmother always brought me a doll of some kind. I really hated them, but I would smile and give her a big hug. Then I would throw it in my closet with the rest of them, but I would pull them out, and arrange them on my bed when she came to visit.
"But I suppose my favorite was when I was five. My mother had figured out how much I liked to read and write, so she enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Book Club. It was just like the book club she belonged to. I got one of those little catalogs every month, and she would help me pick out books. She always let me get more than one. She also gave me my very first diary that year. It was one of those ugly pink things, but it had a little lock and key. She would help me write in it every day, telling me what date to write and helping me spell words. That was my favorite until now," she finished, holding her hand out and looking again at the tiny ring on her pinky.
"Youre just teasing me," Megan said.
"No Im not. No one has ever given me a gift that was as personal as this, except for my Mother. I love it, because its your heart isnt it?"
"Yes," Megan whispered, awed that Toni understood the significance of this particular gift, "and I wanted you to have it."
They decided they would go to Universal Studios, which was also located in Orlando, on the 27th of December. Toni had become accustomed to Megans predilection for roller coaster-type rides and was not surprised to find herself in line beside her strawberry headed lover waiting to get on a ride based on the movie Back to the Future. Toni found the ride exciting, when she didnt have her eyes closed.
They went on the King Kong ride. Toni was sure she had never laughed so hard, especially when the giant ape roared at their swinging cable cars and his breath reeked of bananas.
The park turned out to be a great place to take pictures and Megan was glad she brought her digital camera with her. They had fun taking photos of one another in front of the forced perspective images, which when lined up properly with the buildings in the background, gave the feel of being on a street in New York or San Francisco among others. They caught a show that took place in the simulated streets of Chicago. The performers were dressed like the Blues Brothers and Aretha Franklin. Toni was surprised to hear Megan sing along with every song, and even do some of the dance steps. Megan informed Toni that The Blues Brothers was one of her favorite movies and that she had a couple of their CDs, including the movie soundtrack.
They went to an Irish pub to have some lunch. While eating they saw Mae West, W.C. Fields and Laurel and Hardy. Obviously it wasnt really them, but the actors who were posing as them were doing a damn fine job. Next they moved to a ride called Earthquake. "I thought this was a ride," Toni said.
"It is," Megan told her, "just wait."
Toni did find herself fascinated with the miniatures and the way they used blue screen and other techniques that simulated the crumbling buildings shown in the movie. She was even more delighted not to have been picked as a participant.
After the presentation, they were moved into the ride area. Toni was impressed. The car did look a lot like a real subway car, with one difference. "This is the cleanest subway Ive ever been in," she told Megan who laughed. When the ride truly got underway and the ground began to shake and the subway car started to rock back and forth, Toni became agitated. Water was rushing at them from one side and on the other, the ground opened up and an oil tanker began to slide towards from the street above, bursting into flames. When the ride was over, Toni bolted from the car and pushed past other people until she exited the building.
It took Megan a couple of minutes to catch up to her. "Are you okay?" she asked softly touching Tonis hand.
"Yeah Im sorry I guess " Toni paused to try and slow her erratic breathing once more. "I guess Ive been on the New York subway too often that was so real even though " she paused again. "Even though I knew it was just an illusion an effect it was too real for me," she finished.
"I should have thought about that before I took you on that ride," Megan offered, squeezing Tonis hand gently.
"No I mean I knew that it was going to be shocking, I just didnt figure that it would affect me that way. Im really sorry for running out."
"Its no big deal. Im sure you werent the first person to react like that. What do you say we go find a nice place to sit and watch some movie stars go by?"
"Sounds like a plan," Toni answered, smiling with relief.
They spent the rest of the day avoiding any more rides, and watched the stunt show that took place just after the sun went down. It was amazing. Boats were crashing, things were blowing up and it looked as though the people were actually experiencing this for the first time, instead of the well-rehearsed show they knew it to be.
They went to MGM Studios the next day, since they still had 3 days left on their Disney passes. Toni wasnt particularly impressed because she wasnt a movie buff. And she absolutely refused to ride the Tower of Terror that simulated a plummeting elevator. They decided that a return trip to Disney World the next day was in order.
Toni insisted on taking the Jungle Cruise several more times, because, she told Megan, that she saw something new every time. They found their way back to Tom Sawyers Island several more times that day, just so they could visit the cave. Toni even agreed to go on Space Mountain again. It wasnt nearly as scary the second time and she was a lot more relaxed. They had dinner in King Stefans Banquet Hall, which was located in Cinderellas Castle. They stood in line for several more rides and again, watched the fireworks display before heading back to their hotel.
They decided to save the last day of their pass for a final trip to EPCOT Center on New Years Eve. Megan contacted Frank Tate the morning of December 30th and he told her that it looked as though Jack would survive, despite the seriousness of his injury. He was currently listed as stable but guarded. The only fear now was from infection. When Megan told Toni the good news she bowed her head and closed her eyes and Megan was able to read the words she silently mouthed, Thank you.
"Its Bill," Toni whispered after her quiet prayer.
"What?" Megan asked. She had said it so softly that Megan wasnt sure what she had just said, or if she had even meant to say it out loud.
"Its Bill," Toni spoke a little louder, as if that was enough of an explanation of what she meant.
"What do you mean?" Megan asked as she hugged her tall lover.
"The reason he made it through it was Bill "
Megan began to understand. "You mean that Bills love gave him strength?"
"No I mean that his love for Bill gave him strength the strength to continue on to survive. It certainly helped that Bill loved him in return. But it was more. I...I spent a lot of time with Jack. Did you know that he and Bill have been together nearly twenty years?"
Megan knew because Bill had told her, but she also knew that Toni had something to say; she could tell by Tonis body language, so she nodded her head against Tonis chest and waited.
"He told me that he knew, the instant that he met Bill that they were destined to be together he just had to convince Bill of that," she finished, and then chuckled at the memory. Jack had meant it for an amusing story, and she was suddenly glad she was getting a chance to see it that way, instead of it being a bitter memory that she had helped to create. Megan recognized it for the tension breaker it was meant to be and laughed with her, relieved herself.
"How long have your parents been married?" Toni asked Megan.
"They celebrated their 35th Anniversary last July 12th," Megan answered.
"My parents were only married 14 years when my Mom died. My Pop, he dated a couple of widows, years after her death, but he always came home looking more lonely than when he left for the evening. He socialized with his poker buddies and with some of the couples from the old neighborhood. I always hoped he would find someone to share his life with but I guess he didnt get over her anymore than I did."
Megan felt her eyes water and her throat begin to tighten at this admission from Toni. It was one of the most honest things that Toni had ever shared with her and she was sure that she had never shared it before, not even with her father.
"Its really sad I mean that they only got to share 14 years. They loved each other so much. I wasnt so sure my Pop would survive when she died, and I think the only reason he did was for me. And it makes me feel good and bad that he couldnt find anyone to take her place," Toni finished, her voice breaking with heartache and tears.
They sat down on the hotel bed and shared their relief and their grief in each others arms. "Do I mean do your parents love each other I mean really?"
"Yes," Megan whispered. "I suppose one of the reasons I held out you know dated guys for so long, was because I wanted so badly what they shared. Despite my deepest feelings Id never been exposed to a same sex couple that had been together as long as they had or my grandparents. My Dads parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary two years before my grandmother died. Thats 52 years, and I know my Grandpa courted my Grandma for years before they actually married. So, really, they were together for over 54 years. I guess Wow Id never thought about it like that it must be nice to be with the person you love for that long. When I first started dating girls women the only exposure Id gotten was the whole club scene. You know women who were together for a couple of months, maybe a couple of years before the relationship became sour. I suppose I thought that all my relationships were destined to be fairly short-lived. The club scene was bad but it was mostly because it was the only place we knew to go to find others who shared a common sexuality. So, there were tons of times that I would be there that I would see one of those horrible scenes. When two women would be having what looked like a great time, until one of their exs walked in," Megan shivered at the memory.
"I guess I didnt exactly answer your question, but yeah, they love each other. I mean, they fight, but what couple doesnt? But you can tell, just to look at them, that they are happy with each other, and with the life they are leading. Ive always wanted that for myself. Ive always wanted to find someone that will love me just as much when Im 50 as when Im say 28?" She said as she looked into Tonis eyes.
Toni laughed at the genuine and smiling face before her. "I I was pretty young when my Mom died, and I know they loved each other, but I didnt get to see them together as long as say Leo Ribisi and his wife. Dont get me wrong she is one tough broad. She demanded that no actually you felt very respectful in her presence. But you could tell that Maria and Leo didnt really feel anything for each other, despite several children. I suppose that it could have been an arranged marriage, but it didnt matter. He treated her like a second class citizen and she played the gracious hostess. Ive never Ive never felt the way I feel about you, toward anyone else in my entire life. I feel as though Im alive for the first time in my life its so hard to explain."
"Youre doing fine," Megan assured her as they quietly changed into their nightclothes.
"I didnt realize life could be like this, you know, so happy," she concluded. "I mean it would be better under different circumstances but I was never willing to open up and let anyone in. And you, you made it so easy to do that. I feel as though Ive known you all my life. I feel as though Ive found the other half of my soul the good half and I know that Ill never love anyone this way ever again. You are it for me the one the only one."
"Me too," was all Megan could say because her throat was tight with emotion.
Megan awoke choking back sobs as Toni gripped her tightly. "Ssshhh, its okay," Toni soothed, wiping the damp sweat from her lovers brow. "Tell me," Toni insisted gently, knowing that it calmed Megan after she woke up from her nightmares.
She began after catching her breath. "It was the same mostly except my parents were there too " she started. Toni was familiar with the nightmare that had plagued her lover since Megans partner John Taylor had been killed by the mob that was trying to silence her. Mostly it was fueled by survivors guilt. She was often taunted by Johns family for being the cause of his death. Megan continued, "They were angry as well. My dad he said he said " she sobbed uncontrollably.
"Ssshhh, cmon sweetie, Im here its okay. Tell me." Toni found that the nightmares were fewer and farther between if she could get Megan to describe them.
"He said that John and I had made our graves together and thats where we belonged," she cried into her lovers shoulder. "He said he said that I should just stay dead "
"Megan Meg it was just a dream. It wasnt real. Im real Im right here. Just hold on and it will fade. Itll be all right. Im here. I love you," Toni assured as she rocked Megan gently in her arms. Toni wasnt sure who got the worst end of these nightmares, her or Megan. Trying to reassure her lover against her own unconscious was harder than trying to come to grips with her own past. At least Megans nightmares occurred when she was asleep. Tonis had occurred while she was wide-awake.
Neither woman was able to get back to sleep, so they decided to shower and board the earliest bus for EPCOT Center. They arrived at the park nearly a half-hour before it opened and stood in the guest relations line to book lunch and dinner reservations so they wouldnt have to wait.
The atmosphere at the park was hard to describe. It seemed to both that the people around them were anticipating something more than just another New Year. They heard people speculate as to whether computers would crash and they would be left in the dark, or whether it was just another year passing, except that the year would now be 2000, a strange and mystical number.
"I think this is the most exciting New Year Ive ever had," Megan told Toni.
"Cmon, you dont really think that things will change that much, do you?"
"No Im not worried about that its exciting because Im with you."
"Oh," was all that Toni could manage.
The day was exciting. Megan and Toni agreed not to try to go on any rides as the lines were incredibly long. They spent the afternoon wandering from pavilion to pavilion, trying beers from different countries and shopping in the stores. They went wine tasting at La Maison Du Vin in the France pavilion and were unable to resist buying a sample of candy from each countrys shop as they passed.
Their lunch reservation was for 2pm at the Biergarten in the Germany pavilion. They ate their traditional German fare while listening to yodelers and accordionists and watching the dancers. They lingered over their lunch and the show for an hour and a half. Afterwards they continued as they had been, wandering from country to country and sampling candy and shopping.
They had made a late dinner reservation at the Coral Reef, which was located in the Living Seas area. They sat next to giant tanks filled with marine life while they ate seafood. It made Megan feel a little guilty and Toni had nearly upset their table when a shark swam by. It reminded her of one day in Key West when they had gone snorkeling and Megan had pointed out a small nurse shark. Toni had immediately exited the water and refused to go back in for several days until the teasing from Megan, Jack and Bill finally convinced her that going back in the water was less dangerous than putting up with those three.
Near 11:30pm they staked out seats at the British tavern so they would be near refreshments and have a good view for when the fireworks started. There had been smaller versions of this celebration in the countries when their respective midnight hours chimed. The parks patrons were loud and boisterous until the announcement was made that it was one minute to midnight, Eastern Standard Time. The park became almost silent until the last ten seconds when everyone began to count down as well. At the stroke of midnight, the park erupted with cheers, but Toni and Megan didnt hear. The only sound for them was the beating of their hearts as they shared a tender kiss.
"Happy New Year, love," Toni said softly in Megans ear.
"Yes it is," Megan agreed smiling at her beautiful lover and capturing her lips for another kiss, not caring who might see.
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