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
"Whats so special about reggae?" Toni had asked, perplexed as to why this would make Megan want to stay.
"Are you kidding? You have heard reggae havent you?"
"Of course, but I still dont get it. Its just island music."
"Novice," Megan joked. "Yes it is island music, but it the best music in the world to dance to," she told her.
"Oh, really?" Toni questioned.
"Yes it is. It is also the easiest to dance to," Megan said, as if that would explain it all.
"Why is that?" Toni inquired.
"Because all you need to do is to grab a Red Stripe beer, smoke a great big spliff, and your body does the rest when the music starts."
"Oh like youve ever smoked pot in your life," Toni countered.
"I have!" Megan insisted, somewhat indignant.
"When?" Toni taunted.
"A couple of times when I was in college. One time at a party my friend Jane started teasing me because I kept passing it without taking a drag "
"A hit," Toni corrected her.
"Right, thats what I meant. So I did."
"And?" Toni prompted, wanting to know what happened after that.
"And what?" Megan asked.
"Well, did you like it?"
Megan looked around, as if her parents might be magically listening in. "Yeah, I did. It made me really giggly and really relaxed, but not the kind of relaxed you get with alcohol you know I was relaxed without losing my basic good reason. It was also the first time I really got a dose of reggae music. They started playing it and everyone just got up and danced together. It was the first time I was ever really able to dance to anything. And after that, we used to go to this little Blues club every time this reggae band called Pili Pili came to town. I would be on the dance floor from the time they started until they stopped. My friends would have to get me beers because I wouldnt stop dancing. The guys in the band loved me. They kept trying to get me to come to their hotel after the gig, but I wouldnt. At first I thought they were just trying to hit on me but when I told Leon that I was into women he just laughed and said, Me too! My friends hated me because I kept turning them down. But I did go outside with them one night and smoke a joint with them in between sets."
"Wow you bad girl you party animal, you," Toni said laughing.
"Stop teasing me. I only smoked it twice and yes, I inhaled."
Toni was laughing harder now because of Megans joke and because she just couldnt help herself. She could not for the life of her picture Megan stoned.
"What is so funny? I suppose you were a stoner in high school or something?"
"Well, I smoked it more often than you did," Toni admitted between bouts of laughter.
Toni tried to get Megan to explain what was so special about reggae to her, but Megan would only tell her Youll see.
Saturday finally rolled around and they watched as people began to pour into the tiny coastal town. The festival was being held a bar called Frogs Landing. It had a large indoor area that contained a large bar, stage and nearly twenty tables, which spilled out onto an open-air deck that overlooked the water. A small inside staircase just beyond the restrooms led up to the roof deck which had a portable bar, and large speakers to carry the music being played on the stage downstairs. The bar filled quickly once the first band started to play. They munched on Jamaican Jerk-style chicken wings and smoked fish dip and drank bottles of Red Stripe beer. After their lunch was over, Toni could tell that it was all Megan could do to keep her seat.
"Go dance," Toni encouraged Megan.
Megan looked at her blue-eyed lover, "Dance with me?" she asked.
"How about, you go, and Ill watch," Toni said suggestively squeezing Megans hand.
It was an offer Megan couldnt refuse. She knew that Toni would probably join her after one song. There was one thing she knew, that Toni didnt: reggae seemed to touch her down to her very bones and to her, at least, people dancing to reggae were infinitely more sexy than an experienced couple dancing a Tango. "Okay," Megan told her, smiling. "Are you sure you dont want to join me?"
It was the way she said it, Toni decided. It was if she knew something that Toni didnt, that unnerved her for an instant. Toni didnt like to dance, especially not in front of large crowds. In a smaller, darker club, Toni might have taken Megan up on her offer. But here in this sun-filled bar, she would be satisfied to simply watch her strawberry-headed partner enjoy herself.
"No, you go ahead," Toni told her grinning at Megans willingness to dance by herself.
"If you change your mind you know where to find me," Megan said. With that, she eyed her beer and Tonis. Tonis was fuller, so Megan simply grabbed Tonis and slid hers into its place, and then turned and snaked her way through the tables toward the dance floor.
Toni sat, astounded. It wasnt because Megan was bold enough to grab her beer or even to dance by herself. It was the sheer animal magnetism that Megan was exuding. Toni could not take her eyes off of Megan. She ran her tongue along her suddenly dry lips and felt another area become wet. She watched as Megan reached the edge of the dance floor and began to sway with the beat of the music. Tonis heart stopped. She could see the beat of the music in Megans movements. Megan worked her way toward the stage stopping briefly to dance with each person she passed. After only a minute or two, Toni could only see Megan intermittently.
She grabbed the beer sitting on the table and finished it off in one swallow. She decided that she would be able to get a beer quicker if she went to the bar, instead of waiting on the waitress. Besides, it gave her a good reason to stand up. That way she might be able to see Megan better. Her six-foot height helped as she scanned the dancers for one in particular. Having spotted her, Tonis heart slowed somewhat. Megan was dancing right in front of the small, elevated stage. She had her back to the other dancers and was dancing alone. No, not alone, Toni mused. Shes dancing with the band, the music. She made her way to the bar and got the attention of the bartender without ever having looked away from Megan. "Two Red Stripes," she told the bartender slipping a few bills out of her pocket.
She watched Megan and had the intense feeling that she was watching Megan do something that was so private erotic, while others were around. But as she glanced at the others on the dance floor and around the bar, she saw that no one was specifically paying attention to Megan. They were dancing by themselves, in pairs and even in groups. And she could tell that Megan was in her own world, one that she owned completely. She paid for her beers and made her way closer to the dance floor so she could have a better view of the emerald-eyed pixie that had stolen her heart. She stood and watched and a new song began to play and she actually heard the lyrics this time. It didnt help it was a love song that for some reason made so much sense to her. They had both smelled the sweet, pungent aroma of marijuana around themselves all afternoon, and now Toni couldnt resist. She wove through the tables until she was on the outer deck. She stepped up to the college-age kid who had just discreetly received the joint from his friend.
"May I?" Toni asked gently removing the joint from the young mans hand. "This is for you," she told him, handing him one of the two Red Stripe beers. He handed her the joint, "Thanks," she smiled at him taking a large toke, pausing and then taking several small ones. She hadnt indulged in smoking a joint since college and wasnt sure why she couldnt resist now. She handed the joint back to him and turned out towards the water. She let her mind drift while she held the smoke in, and then slowly and gently, blew it out of her lungs. Then she clasped the young man genially on his shoulder, "Thanks," she told him again and then went back to the bar. She was making her way closer to the stage, until she was at the end of the bar nearest the stage. She bought two more beers and finished off the one she still had while waiting.
Her eyes were again riveted on Megan. She watched as Megan danced her way over to the garbage can to put her empty bottle in. She slowly moved to Megan, who was, by then, back in the middle of the dance floor. "Here," she told her, handing her a fresh beer. "Wouldnt want you to get thirsty out there," Toni finished, leaning into Megans ear.
"Thanks," Megan told Toni, never missing a beat and gently kissed her on the cheek. Toni found herself stuck to the spot, looking her lover up and down, and suddenly wanting to be a part of her movements. Her body began to move with the beat of Megans body. Megan turned toward Toni and they began to sway in rhythm with the music.
Neither of them left the dance floor until the band stopped nearly a half-hour later.
They both took advantage of a bathroom break and went back to the bar for a couple of beers. A new band was setting up. They went up the stairs to the deck. They found a spot at the rail, overlooking the street below. "That was incredible." Toni told Megan.
"What took you so long?"
Toni swallowed. "Pride, I think," she told Megan honestly.
"Okay, Ill buy that. But did you think I wasnt going to bust you for smoking pot?"
"What? Me?" Toni tried the innocent approach, momentarily, before breaking out into gentle laughter. "What gave me away?"
"The smell will always give you away. The red eyes dont help, though," Megan added, teasing. "Did it help you feel the music?"
"No actually, I was hoping it might distract me, a little bit, from you."
"From me?" Megan asked confused.
"To keep me from taking you, right here, in this crowded bar."
Megan smiled. "So, are you going to dance with me when the next band comes on?"
Toni licked her dry lips, took a large swallow of beer and was still only able to squeak out a barely audible, "Yes."
Toni stayed with Megan on the dance floor for the second bands entire set, excluding a couple of trips to the bar for beer. She felt as though her and Megan were making love without even touching. The dancing was so intimate. It was no effort to dance, she realized. Her body simply moved to the rhythms without her even having to think about it. And the lyrics often spoke of loss of innocence, life and youth and also of love. Toni was able to relate. For the last several years she had felt as though she had abandoned her life, and had willingly given her youth and innocence to the people who were presently trying to kill her. She knew that she had brought their wrath upon herself, but she knew that she could not have kept leading that life which had become such a lie.
Midway through the third band, both women realized that they were starving again. They found a place to sit at the bar and ordered blackened dolphin sandwiches as well as another helping of the extraordinary fish dip. By the time they finished, the third band had as well and were packing up their equipment to make way for the final band. When Megan slipped away to the restroom, Toni found her little college friend and convinced him to sell her a joint.
She sparked it up just as Megan found her. "What are you doing?" Megan teased.
"Want some?" Toni asked as she held in her hit.
"No way! Experimenting in college is one thing "
"Are you mad at me for getting
"No, some people can handle the stuff I dont think Im one of them. Besides, one of us should have our wits about us," she smiled at her lover.
Around that time the sound system came alive. The announcer asked, "Is everyone having a good time?" and was answered with a raucous bout of shouts from the audience. "A couple of announcements," he added. "First of all, make sure to tip you waitstaff and bartenders theyve worked hard today. Also, make sure to designate a driver. Please dont let your friends drive drunk. If you are having any trouble in this area, alert one of your servers, they will be happy to call a cab. Now, for the main event all the way from Boston lets hear it for Pili Pili!"
Megans head snapped up at the bands all too familiar name. "No way!" she exclaimed happily, grabbing Toni by the hand and dragging her towards the dance floor amidst strains of "Hot, Hot, Hot." When they reached the front of the stage, Toni was amazed when the bassist stopped playing and grabbed Megans hand, pulling her onto the stage.
"Oh woman, youre a sight!" he told her as he hugged her too him. "Look ere fellas, look who tis!" Each of them stopped playing in turn, to give the young woman a heartfelt hug. Toni stood with her arms crossed waiting. For a moment she thought that Megan was going to grab up an instrument and start jamming with them, when the bassist whispered into Megans ear, "I tink your girlfriend is waitin." With that, Megan turned, blushing, and stepped off the stage into Tonis arms.
They danced to several songs before Megan gestured toward the bar. Toni followed. They got themselves a beer and Megan put in an order for the band. It seemed that she knew what they all drank. They made their way back across the dance floor with a waitress in tow. She distributed drinks to the various band members; happy with the tip she had already received.
At the bands first break, Megan took the opportunity to introduce Toni to them: Leon, Chris, Jon-Jon, Douglas, Ray and Bob. "You gonna come to tha party luv?" Leon, the bassist, asked Megan.
"I dont know Leon " Megan began.
"Wed love to," Toni interjected quickly. The smile from Megan was all the thanks she would need for that one. They danced until the band finished, and as they were packing up, Megan got the directions to their hotel on the mainland and the women checked out of their bed and breakfast.
When they joined the band at their secluded hotel, they found that they were the only guests, so any parties would not disturb the other residents, because there werent any. There were a lot of people in the twelve-unit motel, Toni found, as most of the band traveled with their girlfriends, wives and children. They sat out in the patio area and drank beer and real Jamaican rum. The marijuana was bandied about, freely as well. Toni knew that there were side effects when smoking pot, including paranoia and extreme giggling. The worst one of all was the users tendency to become philosophical, at least in her opinion. She hoped that she hadnt smoked enough to get to that stage the last thing she needed now was to try and be all of the sudden, profound.
She allowed herself to relax and simply listened as various band members and most of their wives and companions took turns either just playing a rhythm on one instrument or another while singing gently. She sat listening to them talk about the music and spoke up. "What was that one you sang about redemption?"
"You mean Redemption Song by Bob Marley?" Megan asked.
"Yeah, I think so," Toni replied.
Leon, Douglas and Chris began to play the song she had asked about, as Leon sang. It was the chorus that grabbed her and made her think.
"Wont you help to sing,
These songs of freedom,
Cus all I ever heard,
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds,
Have no fear for atomic energy,
None of them can stop the time,
How long shall they kill our prophets?
While we stand aside and look
Some say its just a part of it,
Weve got to fulfill the book.
Wont you help to sing?
These songs of freedom,
Cus all I ever heard,
"Thats what I need," Toni stated confidently, when the song was over.
"What?" Megan asked gently. The others waited quietly for an answer as well.
"A redemption song. Something that will help erase the crap from my past," she said.
"If youre looking for redemption, youll find it," Leon spoke up. "Just keep singing." With that, they broke out into another tune made famous by Marley, "No Woman, No Cry" with everyone joining in. Toni found the remark rather ironic considering that singing was a slang term for people when they ratted out or testified against others. Because, in order for Toni to begin her path of Redemption she had to do just that sing.
Her goal from the beginning had been to simply put as many of those bastards that had stolen her fathers life and had forced her to steal her best friend, Sals life, behind bars. She knew from the start that they would try to kill her. And she didnt care then. She had hoped that if she didnt get to trial, that the confessional tapes she made with the Justice Department and the U.S. Marshals would do it for her.
But she really didnt expect someone to step into her life and make her want to live! It was now her top priority that Megan was not harmed because of her and that she did not go out of way to be reckless, because she knew that Megan cared very deeply for her. She wanted to live just to make sure that she wasnt looking up from Hell and having to see loss, hurt or grief to ever cross Megans tender features.
She watched, absolutely intoxicated by the sight of Megan, along with Bobs wife Tyree and Leons girlfriend Lila sing the chorus of another Marley tune Three Little Birds.
"Dont worry bout a thing,
Cause every little things gonna be all right,
Sayin dont worry bout a thing,
Cause every little things gonna be all right."
She had never seen Megan so open so comfortable. Toni wanted every day of their future to be as fulfilling as this single evening had been. Toni knew that Megan had had the most fun today, than she had since they had met. And that knowledge fueled Toni with the desire to fill Megans remaining days with the kind of soothing joy that she currently saw reflected on her lovers face.
Alone in one of the motels tiny rooms, as the sun began to rise above the horizon, Toni and Megan changed into their nightclothes. The party had not ended for everyone. Several people were still drinking and singing. The sounds of laughter and reggae drifted into the room as they snuggled together.
Toni was unable to get that song out of her head. In just over a week, she was going to go in front of a grand jury and help indict members of one of the biggest mob families in New York and New Jersey.
"Whats on your mind?" Megan asked, knowing that Toni was deep in thought.
"Im worried," Toni told her.
"About what? Everythings going to be fine." Megan gently stroked Tonis cheek.
"Not about me I mean not about my physical safety. More about my soul."
"What do you mean?"
"I dont think my testimony is going to make a difference," Toni told Megan.
"Of course it will! Youll be helping to bring down one of the biggest crime families operating in the U.S."
"Yeah I know," Toni agreed. She could see that Megan didnt know what was really bothering her. "But will it be enough?"
"Sure it will. Youll be putting Leo Ribisi and his cohorts out of business for most of the rest of their lives. Even though were not going to get Leo, we know that most of his connections will be behind bars and then he wont be able to reign over them"
"No Megan! Im not talking about that! Im talking about me! Will it be enough for me? For my soul?" Toni finished loudly, getting up from the bed and pacing the tiny room.
Megan finally figured it out. She was mostly tired and not to mention a little drunk and stoned. But she finally realized what was upsetting Toni. "Toni you have to forgive yourself, before anyone, even a higher power can," she told her frazzled lover.
"How can I?" Toni railed. "Ive killed 14 people! Ive taken their lives away. Me " she pointed at her own chest. "Ive taken them away from their families. Ive passed judgment on them. I decided that their lives werent worth living anymore!" She quieted a little and then added "And the worst part is, I didnt feel guilty about it at the time."
"But you do now?" Megan asked gently.
"Yeah really guilty. And I dont think that putting others away for their crimes will redeem me. At least, not in the eyes of God."
"Come here," Megan told her, extending her hand. Toni hesitated and then climbed back into the small bed with her lover. Megan wrapped her arms around Toni and held her closely. "Youve taken the first step to redemption. Whether you see it or not. You could have kept living that lifestyle and never once felt any guilt for your actions, but you didnt you couldnt. And by coming forward, you have taken responsibility for your actions."
"Toni Im not saying thats it. Im not saying that this one step, no matter how huge, is going to set your soul free Im just saying, that now you are on the right path. And from now on, the way you live your life and the choices that you make, will continue to lead you in the right direction. I hope that one day you will forgive yourself but until then keep going keep at it and you will, at least, be able to live with yourself."
Toni kissed the green-eyed woman softly. "Okay youre right. You always are. Do me one favor though?"
"Anything," Megan promised.
"Stay with me. Be my anchor."
"Always," Megan told her. They consummated the fire that had been building since early the previous day. Their touches were tender but electric. It wasnt long before they were calling each others names and climaxing together. They both knew that it was just the beginning of their day together. They cuddled and spoke softly to each other; neither was tired.
A half-hour later, words gave way to kisses. This time their kisses were deeper. Each seemed to know instinctively what the other would enjoy. "Toni?"
"Yes?" she answered breathlessly.
Megan didnt speak another word, but tickled Toni in the ribs, just below her breasts. Immediately Tonis body flew into a position of defense as her body betrayed her. Her arms clasped across her chest and her elbows locked to her sides as she tried in vain to avoid Megans tender touch. Megan was entranced as she continued her vicious assault. Tonis body was squirming uncontrollably from side to side as she tried to dislodge her tormentor. "Please please " she laughed. "Megan stop please Uncle Megan!" Megan was laughing so hard as well, that she had to stop.
"I did it!" she proclaimed throwing her arms over her head in a sort of victory celebration. "I knew you were ticklish somewhere and I found it," she gloated knowing that she was exposing herself to a counter-attack from Toni but knowing that she wouldnt now that Megan had her secret weapon.
It took Toni a couple of minutes before she felt comfortable enough to take her elbows away from her vulnerable sides. She owed Megan this. It was truly the only spot that she was ticklish and Megan was the only person in her life besides her mother who knew this about her. Megan had from the beginning of their physical relationship, tried to find a spot in which Toni was truly ticklish. Toni hadnt envied her lover trying to find the spot though, because she had tried so hard. Megan tried every spot that she was sure would be ticklish. Toni knew this because it was in all of those spots that Megan was ticklish.
She had started at Tonis toes. Nothing came of that, nor her assault on the soles of Tonis feet, her calves, the fronts and backs of her knees, her thighs, her stomach, under her arms, her neck, face and ears, her breasts and her ribs until she found the exact spot, in the middle of Tonis ribcage just under her breasts on either side of her body.
Megan wasnt going to continue tickling Toni. But she thrilled in the odd bit of power she now had over her intoxicating lover. She leaned in gently and they began their kissing anew. By ten a.m. they were starving and they knew that they would need the room for at least one more night.
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