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.
Amazingly enough Toni slept that night without any nightmares. She went to court like a dutiful little informer. When court recessed for lunch Tate had ordered in Chinese food. It was passable, but Toni longed for a real meal in Chinatown. She wished the day would hurry along, she wanted to get back to Megan. She smiled at the thought of Megan awake and talking. Toni wondered if she had terrorized her doctors and nurses yet. She knew that her young lover was probably champing at the bit to get out of that bed already. She hoped that her parents were more understanding and if not, that at least they were a bit more supportive of Megan.
Megan awoke feeling fairly refreshed. Her head didnt hurt as much as it had the night previous. The nurse came in and removed the catheter and gently helped her to the bathroom. It felt so good to be out of the bed that she didnt mind that the nurse had to remain while she did her business. The nurse helped her brush her teeth and towel off. She wasnt allowed to shower until the doctor gave permission. She was allowed to sit in the chair next to the bed and the nurse brought in breakfast.
An hour later her parents came in. "Hi Mom Daddy?" She wasnt sure how he would react to her since their conversation yesterday. He approached her and bent to place a gentle kiss on her cheek. She beamed a smile at him and threw her arms around him. "I love you Daddy."
"I know peanut, I know. I love you too, dont you ever forget that."
"Never," she assured him as tears rolled down her cheeks.
They visited for almost an hour when the doctors came in. They checked her over and pronounced her fit. The doctor told her that they wanted the IV to stay in until early evening when it would be removed and she would be moved out of ICU to a private room. After that she would be free to take a shower, but not to wash her head as yet. The doctor also told her that he wanted her to walk around as much as possible today, but not to push too hard.
When the doctors left, her mother excused herself and left Megan and her father to visit alone. Her father helped her to her feet and out in the hall for some exercise. Megan noticed that no less than four Marshals accompanied them at a discreet distance. "Daddy? About yesterday I I didnt mean to upset you. I love you and Mom very much but I love Toni too."
"Peanut, I understand your feelings really I do. But this woman "
Megan cut him off. "Her name is Toni, Daddy."
"Toni," he amended, "Toni comes with a lot of baggage." He sighed. He didnt want to have this conversation with his daughter because he loved her dearly. "Megan she has killed people," he said as gently as he could.
Megan pulled herself out of his supportive embrace even though she wasnt sure that she could stand on her own. "So have I Daddy," she snapped at him.
"But not for the same reasons Megan. Youve had to kill to protect others. She killed people because she was told to, plain and simple."
"No Daddy its not that simple." Suddenly weary she took refuge in a chair in the visitors waiting room. "She didnt choose that life it chose her. She had dreams Daddy. She went to college and wanted to live a normal life. They robbed her of that chance. For the last four years she has been accumulating the evidence that she is now presenting before the grand jury." Megan bowed her head before she spoke again. "She knows she knows that what she is doing now is not going to make up for the past, but Daddy, its a start."
"Megan do you really think that people can change that drastically?" he asked.
"No I dont. But youre not getting what Im saying. Toni hasnt changed she was just lost for a while. Now now shes found herself. It took a lot of courage for her to go down this path and I want to be there for her. I love Toni, Daddy and I know she loves me too. I see it every time I look at her. And and I need you to support me to understand."
Pat paused and absorbed his daughters words. "Peanut I dont think Ive ever seen you so passionate about anything. Even when I tried to talk you out of joining the Marshal Service you almost gave in. But I can see that you are not going to back down from this. Do you really love her that much?"
"Yes Daddy, with all my heart, I love her that much."
"And youre sure she loves you too?"
"Positive," she answered, a smile returning to her face.
"Youre as stubborn as I am, Peanut," he grinned at her. If he had any doubts about his daughters faith in this woman, they were put to rest when her face lit up at the mention of her name.
"Ive had a good teacher," she told him. They held each other for several minutes before rising and making their way back to Megans room, their arms around each other.
Megan was moved to a private room shortly before the evening meal. The doctor was satisfied that she was taking on fluids well and had her IV removed. She wanted to bathe and got her mother to help her. After her bath and dinner they had her walking around with a walker. The doctors didnt want to risk her falling and hurting herself. Megan simply wanted to be up and about. She kept listing to the left and the doctor told her that her right eardrum having been perforated caused it. He told her that she would eventually become used to it and would walk normally in no time. She was surprised that she didnt have bedsores from having been on her back for nearly a month. She felt fairly drained from her lack of physical exercise but was determined to be on her feet as much as possible.
She made her way to Terrance Walters room. He was the only other Marshal still in the hospital after the shooting. He was in traction. The bullet wound he sustained had shattered his left femur and pins were currently holding it in place. He told her everything he knew about the day of the shooting and they cried together when he told her about Alex. They talked for nearly an hour until Megan noticed the time on the wall clock. It was 8:15, almost time for Tonis visit. She excused herself and told Terry that she would see him the next day. She was escorted back to her room down the hall, again surrounded by US Marshals.
She checked everything and settled herself in the chair to wait. When 8:45 came and went she began to panic. She went into the hall and asked the nearest Marshal if he knew where Frank and Toni were. He didnt, but assured her that he would call in and find out. "Maybe they dont know that I was moved," she told him.
"No that couldnt be it," he informed her. "We were all updated about your move several hours ago." The Marshal made several calls and was assured that Tate had picked up his charge and was on his way, but that was nearly an hour previous.
This news did nothing to relieve her nerves. Horrible scenarios flashed through her mind. "I need I need to go down to the Emergency Room," she told him, her voice stressed.
"Thats not a good idea Miss OReilly," he responded. She had a death grip on his left arm and he was struggling to dial the cell phone with his one free hand. He identified himself and was given Tates personal cell phone number. He dialed it. It only rang once when he heard a voice on the other end.
"Tate here, what is it?"
"Mr. Tate this is John Alexander Im here with Megan OReilly and sir shes really upset."
"Where? Where are you with her?" Frank demanded, confused as to where his injured Deputy would be except at the hospital.
"Here sir at the hospital " the Deputy trailed off.
"Then whats the problem?" he asked exasperated. The elevator doors opened and he, Toni and four Marshals stepped into the hospital corridor. Megans head snapped up as she heard the elevator doors open and she saw Toni step out surrounded by an entourage. The Deputy Alexander sighed in relief as she released his arm.
Megan pushed the walker aside and tried to move toward Toni. After several swift steps she found herself colliding with the wall. Toni pushed past the Deputies and ran to her lover, catching her before she slumped to the floor.
"Hey hey whats wrong?" Toni asked as Megan clutched onto her, crying.
"You you were supposed to be here a half-hour ago!" Megan sobbed.
"We we had a flat tire," Toni tried to explain the delay.
"You could have called!" Megan yelled, pounding on Tonis chest with what little strength she had left in her body. "You could have called!" she yelled at Frank as he approached.
Toni picked Megan up in her arms and strode swiftly toward her new room. She sat down in the chair with Megan in her lap and allowed her to get over her obvious grief. She saw Tate close the door to the room and heard him talking sternly to the Deputy outside. Her attention was immediately back on Megan. "Sweetie ssshhh cmon please? Dont be mad?" Toni pleaded with her.
"Im not mad! I was scared to death! I thought something happened to you!" she yelled, her anger overcoming her grief once again. She fell into Tonis chest. Even though Tonis heart rate was erratic at best, she knew that Toni was all right alive and holding her tightly.
Toni tilted Megans face up toward her own needing desperately to assuage Megans fears. "I love you," she tried. Apparently it worked, because she found herself in Megans fierce grip, her lips locked in a passionate and bruising kiss. She returned the kiss in kind, needing Megan as much as Megan seemed to need her. Megan squirmed in her lap, never breaking the kiss until she was straddling Toni.
"Toni I I need you please?" Megan begged as she began to work on Tonis throat.
Toni swallowed hard. Her hands stroked Megans back and she found herself struggling not to throw Megan on the bed and ravish her. But as much as she wanted needed to make love to Megan, she realized that it wasnt the time or the place.
"Megan Megan please dont I cant "she gasped, even though she could and wanted to very badly.
Megan stopped her assault on her lover suddenly unsure of herself. She looked at Tonis face, into her eyes and saw what she thought was desire reflected in them. But Toni had asked her to stop.
Toni instantly recognized Megans look of confusion. "Megan sweetie I want to make love to you too," she assured her. Satisfied that Megan was hearing her, by the look of understanding on her face. "But here? Now? I dont know. Someone could walk in and I wouldnt want you to be embarrassed "
"I would never be embarrassed to be caught making love to you," Megan said tenderly.
Toni laughed gently. "I wouldnt care if the whole world saw us but this is not the most romantic place in the world to make love. And I want every time with you to be special." She traced her finger over Megans lips. Megan laughed.
"Every time with you is special to me. Otherwise I would feel so rejected right now," Megan commented and wiggled her eyebrows. "But you have to know you make me so crazy. I dream about you when Im asleep and I fantasize about you when Im awake. I cant get you out of my mind. And when I see you I just just need you."
"Me too baby. Me too," Toni told her. She shifted Megan to the less provocative position of just sitting in her lap. "Im so sorry I scared you."
"Yeah well I guess youre not the only one with an active imagination, are you?"
"Apparently not," Toni agreed. They snuggled together for several minutes before Megan became animated again.
"Hey you didnt even notice!" she protested.
"Notice what?" Toni asked, her eyes never leaving Megan.
"This!" Megan exclaimed waving her arm quickly around the room. Toni smiled at the obvious excitement on Megans face and slowly leaned in for another kiss. This kiss was more tender and reassuring than their last one. When it ended, Megan had a dreamy, far away look on her face. Breathlessly she asked, "Well do you like it?"
"I love kissing you," was Tonis honest and simple response.
Megan giggled and dropped her head on Tonis shoulder. "No silly," she explained, physically turning Tonis head to look around the private room. "This "
Toni was surprised when she tore her gaze away from Megan. The room was filled with roses and balloons, proclaiming Happy Valentines Day and Happy Birthday. A couple of packages with bright ribbons, wrapped in Birthday paper stood on the rolling tray that was used for dinner. Toni was stunned. She had forgotten about Valentines Day and the fact that her Birthday was the same date. She hadnt been reminded of her Birthday since her father had died, and she never had anyone to share Valentines Day with until now. She was immediately embarrassed that she hadnt thought to ask Frank to pick her up a card or even a box of candy for Megan. She blushed deeply. "How? When? When did you do this?" she asked quietly.
"Today my Mom helped. But I wrapped the presents, so if theyre a little messy, I apologize." Megan grinned broadly. It was rare that she was able to surprise Toni. She was delighted that she was able to pull anything off in time. "Help me over there so I can give you your presents," Megan requested.
Toni shook her head no and clutched Megan tightly to her chest. The sound of her sobbing was quiet, but unmistakable. "I I almost lost you!" she cried. "I couldnt think about anything else. I was so scared. I I didnt even know what day it was. I just did what they told me and and waited each night until I could see you again." Her words were coming out in fits and starts in between the sobs that were now wracking her body.
Megan had seen Toni cry a couple of times, but nothing like this. She realized that Toni had never allowed herself time to grieve over what had happened and that she had been holding her emotions inside until now. She held Toni closely and whispered soothing words as Tonis tears rolled off her face and down Megans cheek as well. It took nearly a quarter of an hour to calm Toni down.
"Im so sorry Megan. I finally have someone to share Valentines Day with and I totally forgot. Im such an idiot "
"Stop that! You are no such thing! Youve had a lot to deal with and no one to share it with. I understand. I just well I just wanted to show you how much I love you."
"I just have to look in your eyes to see that," Toni told her as she gently kissed Megans lips.
A soft knock on the door interrupted them. Frank poked his head in and spoke while looking at the ground. "Toni um can I see you out here for a minute please," he added.
"Uh yeah sure Frank just a second," Toni replied. They looked at each other curiously and then shrugged. They shared a laugh as Toni gently stood and placed Megan on her bed. Megan grabbed a tissue and wiped Tonis eyes. They shared another kiss. "Ill be right back," Toni assured her, knowing that their hour was not yet up. She went into the hall to see what Frank Tate wanted.
Frank was nervously shuffling his feet, and the other Marshals were down the hall at a discreet distance. "What is it, Frank?"
"Um well I um "
Toni mused for a moment over the older mans obvious discomfort. She wanted him to say what he had to say so that she could get back to Megan. The clock on the wall showed her that they only had another twenty minutes to visit. "Cmon, Frank spit it out."
He was holding a large shopping bag in his hand and he thrust it at her. "My wife well she knew that you wouldnt be able to get anything for Megan so she picked this up for you " he trailed off, embarrassed. Toni opened the bag. Inside was a large box of Valentines chocolates, a card and a large, black, stuffed Gorilla holding a red rose.
"This is perfect! Frank," she said looking him square in the eye, "give your wife this for me." With that statement she grabbed his face and kissed him soundly on the lips. She put the contents back in the bag and left him alone in the hallway, completely stunned.
She went back into Megans room with the bag concealed behind her back. She surreptitiously sat it down close to the bed so Megan couldnt see it and ducked in for another kiss to distract her. "Hey, can I open my presents now?"
"Yeah! Grab them from that tray."
Instead, Toni rolled the tray over so that it covered Megans lap and sat down on the bed on the opposite side. "So what did you get me?" she asked wiggling her eyebrows with glee.
"Well its not much but I thought you might get some use out of them," Megan told her. She was suddenly embarrassed by the lack of originality. She handed the larger package to Toni.
Toni proceeded to open the package, taking care not to rip the paper. "That is not how you open a present Toni!" Megan exclaimed as she ripped into the wrapping. Toni laughed at Megans childlike sense of propriety. The unwrapping revealed a stack of legal sized yellow pads.
"This is perfect Megan," Toni told her. "I didnt have anything to write on. How did you know?"
"I guessed. Open the other one this time like you mean it," she chastised.
Toni ripped the paper. It was a box of black ink, medium, ballpoint pens her favorite to write with. She smiled and reached for the large manila envelope, which sat underneath the other two packages. "Whats in here?" she asked.
"I I dont know," Megan replied, curious herself. Toni turned it over. Taped to the front was a card, which read: Megan and Toni. "Thats my Moms handwriting." Toni looked at Megan with a question in her eyes. "Trust me I dont know. Open it." Toni opened the card. It said: Happy Birthday Toni. Take care of our little girl, we love her too. It was signed Margaret and Pat.
Toni bent the clasp open and shook out the contents after handing Megan the card to read. She looked at the printed pages first and realized they were the stories she had typed into Megans laptop. Along with the stories were several photo quality 8X10s. She turned them over. They were pictures captured from Megans laptop. Two of each. The first one was the photo of them at Mammoth Cave. The four other photos included one of them in New Orleans, two of them in Key West and one of them at Universal Studios. "This is so sweet," Toni said.
"Yeah yeah it is," Megan smiled. They reminisced over the photos for several minutes before Toni remembered that she had something for Megan, courtesy of Franks wife.
"I have something for you. Actually the first thing I write on my new pad will be a thank you note for Franks wife."
"She knew I couldnt go out and get you anything, so she picked up a couple of things for me." Toni grabbed the neatly stashed bag and presented it to Megan. Megans smile was like one of a childs on Christmas morning. She reached in the bag and grasped the stuffed animal. It was over two feet in length and very plush. Megan crushed it to her chest.
"Oh my God this is so cute!"
"I knew youd like it when I saw it. Theres more," she told her. Megan clutched the large, stuffed Gorilla under one arm and reached into the bag again. This time she came out with a card. On the front was a teddy bear holding a heart inside it was empty.
"It doesnt say anything," she said. Toni took it from her hand.
"It will tomorrow," she assured her. She looked at Megan again.
Megan reached into the bag and dragged out a huge heart-shaped box of candy. "Oohh, chocolate," she said as she began to tear the plastic wrap off the box.
"Take it easy there tiger," Toni admonished as she helped her open the box of candy so that it didnt go flying across the room. Once open Megan studied the lid, which told what each candy had inside.
"Mmmm chocolate crème no cherry cordial no I like the turtle flavor and the toffee ones " Toni picked a candy and popped it into Megans mouth before she changed her mind again. She giggled and chewed her candy. "Which ones do you like?"
"Can I share?" Toni asked. The rolling tray was pushed away from the bed in an instant. Megan grasped Tonis neck and pulled her into a kiss.
"Mmmm cherry cordial I like that one," Toni said when they broke the kiss. It was immediately followed by a knock at the door.
"Its time," Frank stated simply.
Both women groaned in tandem. Their evening had been filled with surprises and quite a bit of sadness and grief. After all the time they had spent together in each others company, it was hard for them to be told that they had to end it and wait another 24 hours before they could see each other again. Toni rolled the tray back toward them and they separated the pictures so that they could each have a copy. She left the stories for Megan and put her pictures back in the envelope.
"You dont think I mean theyll let me take this stuff back with me, wont they?"
"Yeah, sure wait." Megan took the large envelope and pried the small metal clasp out of it.
"Youre kidding me, right?"
"Um no. But just show the stuff to Frank hell approve it." The warning knock sounded again.
"Im coming. Keep your pants on!" Toni yelled toward the door.
"Ugh why did you have to say that? Now I have this image of Frank standing outside with his pants around his ankles." Both women started to laugh so hard they had to hold onto each other for support.
"Thank you for my gifts," Toni told her when she was able to catch her breath.
"Mine too," Megan added. "I think Meredith has your number," she mentioned Franks wife as she hugged the stuffed animal to her chest.
"Ill see you tomorrow?"
"Youd better and this time "
"Call!" they said in unison.
"Im sorry I scared you."
"Im sorry I flaked, so were even." They smiled at each other. "I love you."
"I love you too tiger," Toni said as she slipped quietly out of the room. Megan smiled. She loved her new nickname and thought that she should be calling Toni the Tiger. She giggled. Ill have to think up a nickname for her, she thought. The nurse came in a few minutes later. Her name was Tonya and she was nice, but Megan missed Cindy and Nancy. Unfortunately they were ICU nurses and they didnt come with her new quarters.
"Thought Id check up on you," the nurse said. "Those goons wouldnt let me in her until now," she informed her patient.
"Theyre okay Tonya, they just wanted to give me some time with my partner," she added as an afterthought. Megan was sure that not everybody was as comfortable with her lifestyle as she was.
"Is it your birthday?"
"No its my partners birthday," she informed the nurse who was taking her vital signs.
"She didnt take her balloons," the nurse noted conversationally.
"Um well her place is really small shell take them with her later."
The doctor was in early the next morning. He had scheduled a minor surgery for her the next day, to place a tube in her right ear to help it drain. Until then she was not allowed to get her head wet. She was scheduled to have the stitches removed in a week. Until then, she had her wound bathed in peroxide several times a day, so it was no surprise that the hair that was slowly growing in was white blonde. Wow! she thought as she regarded herself in the mirror. I dont so much look like Frankenstein anymore as I do the bride of Frankenstein. She slowly rubbed the wet washcloth across her now spiky strawberry colored hair, studiously avoiding the shaved area. Her mother helped her into the bath again, surprising her with a bottle of Mr. Bubble. Megan luxuriated in the warm bath until her skin pruned.
Megan had thanked her parents profusely for their card and gift for Toni. Her father grunted as if he had no part in the surprise, but she knew that the signature on the card was his and not her mothers.
Toni arrived at 8:30 that night without any problems. "Hi tiger," she grinned at Megan.
"Hi yourself, Hero," Megan responded grinning back.
"What?" Toni asked nervously.
"I talked to Terry today," Megan said as if that would explain her comment.
"The other Marshal thats still in the hospital. He told me what happened the day of the shooting."
"Oh," was all Toni could manage, clearly embarrassed.
"Were you going to tell me about it?"
"Nothing to tell really "
"Not from what I hear."
"Oh? What did you hear?" Toni asked. She sat down in the chair next to Megans bed. Megan swung her legs out of the bed and Toni quickly stood to help her. Megan wrapped her arms around Tonis waist and laid her head against Tonis chest.
"Is that anyway to greet me?" Megan teased.
Toni flushed again, this time for a different reason. "Sorry," she told Megan and she bent to kiss her lovers lips.
"Mmmm, thats better," Megan purred. "Now let me see," she demanded as she began to push the jacket off of Tonis shoulders.
"See what?" Toni asked wondering if Megan was trying again to seduce her right here in the hospital. Her body and mind warred briefly with each other, her mind losing quickly as she leaned in and began to nibble at Megans neck.
"Your your wound " Megan said breathlessly.
Toni found herself blushing again for the third time in as many minutes. She tried to tug the jacket back up on her shoulders. "Its nothing, really."
"Good, then you wont mind me seeing it," Megan stated.
Toni reluctantly gave up the fight. She helped Megan remove the jacket and pushed up her sleeve. Megans face was one of concern as she studied the puckered scar that ran from the front of Tonis left bicep to the back. Megan gently placed a kiss on the scar.
"Does it hurt?" she asked.
"No not really," Toni told her.
"Sit," Megan demanded. Toni did as she was instructed and Megan settled reverently on her lap. "Now are you going to tell me what happened?"
"Like I said, theres not much to tell."
"Indulge me. I havent heard one of your stories in forever," Megan prodded.
"Um well shots were being fired you were kneeling in front of me with your service revolver. You were hit and I took your gun and fired it at the sniper until it was empty. Everything got quiet then except for the sirens. I wanted to ride with you to the hospital, but they wouldnt let me. They took you and Alex by air and the rest of us went in an ambulance."
"When when did you get shot?" Megan asked.
"Um I guess at the same time as you did. The same bullet hit us both."
"Oh," Megan breathed quietly and laid her head on Tonis shoulder. They sat like that, lost in their own thoughts. Toni trying to block out images from that horrible day and Megan trying to recall them.
"Terry told me that you killed Cancini," Megan finally spoke. "Now we know how they were able to find us each time."
"Yeah. Now that I look back on it I should have known that he was working both sides. It makes so much sense now. I would leak him information and some minor bust would go down but never any of the big guys. I was getting frustrated at the lack of results. Then when they fingered Sal as the informant, I knew they were getting close to figuring me out. Thats when I decided to do it myself. I should have known it was Cancini damn it! It would have saved several lives if I had figured it out."
"Toni, you cant blame yourself. He was an undercover FBI agent. He was supposed to be one of the good guys. You cant blame yourself," she said again as she moved to look directly into Tonis eyes. "But youre going to anyway, arent you?" she asked sadly.
"Someone has to take the blame Megan."
"But not you not every time. Toni youll never heal until you forgive yourself."
"Why? Because you forgive me?"
"Its a start dont you think? You were my hero that day, thats got to be worth something."
The surgery the next day went smoothly and quickly. If she had not been in the hospital, it would have been an outpatient procedure. The doctor told her that it was possible but not probable that she would regain some of her hearing in that ear, as the eardrum healed. She would have physical therapy three times a day to bring her muscles back up to par and to help her walk normally with her new inner ear imbalance.
When Toni visited that evening they decided that they would have to start making plans for their future. "New York and New Jersey are out," Toni stated.
Megan wrinkled her nose. "I didnt even know we were going to consider them."
"We werent I was just teasing," Toni admitted as she cuddled Megan on her lap. It had become, by far their favorite way to sit together. They both needed the physical intimacy this position gave to them.
"How about Lexington or Louisville? You thought Kentucky was pretty."
"Yeah but how are the natives about our um situation?" Toni asked.
"Hmmm, never really thought about it. Im not sure," Megan admitted.
"How about we put Kentucky on the back burner of ideas for now?"
"Okay. How about Houston or Dallas?"
"We didnt spend very much time in Texas. Im not sure if I want to live there."
"Me either too much time to get to the gulf or the ocean."
"Maybe Orlando?" Toni suggested.
"Hey, yeah!" Megan exclaimed. "We can get jobs at Disney World. You could be Snow White in the parade," she teased.
"And you could be one of the Seven Dwarves," Toni countered, tweaking Megans nose.
"Is that a crack about my height?"
"Nope, cause if you were any bigger, you wouldnt fit perfectly right here," Toni said as she snuggled her partner closer.
"Okay Ill let you off, this time. But only because you make a great pillow."
"So The Magic Kingdom is out. How about New Orleans?"
"I dont know. I guess we could open a lesbian Bed and Breakfast," Megan suggested.
"Yeah now youre talking. We can hang rainbow flags out front "
"All right " Megan said, clamping her hand over Tonis mouth. "Maybe we should approach this differently."
"What do you mean?"
"We keep thinking about where to go, but not what we will do to occupy ourselves when we get there." Megan said.
"I see your point. I guess we have to make a living somehow, dont we?"
"Yeah " Megan trailed off, lost in thought.
Toni wanted to have time for her writing, but knew it wouldnt take up her entire day. She was sure that she could adapt to whatever environment they chose, but she knew that her partner was a different story. Although Megan was highly educated and could handle a range of occupations, she knew that being an officer of the law was the one thing she had dreamed of becoming since she had been a child. They sat cuddled together lost in their own thoughts for several minutes.
"Ive got it!" Toni suddenly exclaimed, nearly dislodging Megan from her lap.
"What? What?" Megan asked as she held on for dear life to her now excited partner.
Toni told Megan her idea.
"Oohh, I like it," Megan agreed. "But Tates not going to like it at all."
"Well, well just have to convince him, wont we?" Toni grinned.
Megans parents visited her on Friday, February 25th. It was to be Pats final visit to his daughter. He was catching a flight home that evening. In the past 5 weeks, Megans father had used up all of his vacation and part of his sick time. Megans mother was staying at least until they released her from the hospital.
"Hey peanut, how ya doin?" Pat asked.
"Im fine Daddy. I think the doctors are going to spring me soon."
"Thats good to hear. I wish I could stay but Ive used up all my time."
"I know. I wish you could too. I love you Daddy and Im glad you were here for me."
"I love you too peanut. Stop by and see your old man before well "
"I know Daddy, I will," Megan assured him. They held each other and cried softly, both for the renewal of their relationship and for the parting that was upon them.
"Thank you Daddy," Megan told him.
"For what peanut?"
"For taking the time to get to know Toni. I know it wasnt easy, for either of you. But you both knew what it meant to me and thats why I love you both so much."
"Anything for my peanut," Pat assured her as he waved goodbye, probably, he thought, for the last time. Megans mother left with him to drive him to the airport.
Megan thought back over the last week and a half and how her parents had coordinated several of their visits to coincide with Tonis so that they could talk. It wasnt easy on Toni and it had been even harder for her father. But she had to give him credit. He hung in there and after several stilted attempts to engage Toni in conversation they finally clicked. She hoped that he had come away from the experience with a more reasonable view of her lover instead of the stereotype that he imagined her to be at their first meeting.
When Toni arrived that evening, she found her arms full with her grieving lover. She held Megan and sang soothing reggae tunes to her to calm her. Since it was Friday and court didnt convene again until Monday, Frank had told her that he was authorizing a two-hour visit this evening.
For Toni this was the hardest aspect of their relationship. The one that required Megan to sever all ties with her family until they were sure they were safe. Since she and Pat had come to a level of understanding, it was even more bittersweet for Megan that she had to choose. It broke Tonis heart and at the same time caused it to soar like an eagle with the thought that Megan chose her.
Toni had no basis for comparison. Her family, that is, her true family was like a microcosm compared to Megans. She was an only child. Her father who came from Italy when he was 3 with his parents was also an only child. Her father had never remarried after her mothers death. She had two aunts on her mothers side, but both had married outside of the family so to speak, and had only returned briefly for the funeral. She had no idea whether or not she had cousins. Since they lived far from New York, they seemed to have no interest in her, their sisters only child.
It was hard enough trying to remember Megans immediate family. When Megan started to talk about aunts, uncles and cousins, Toni was lost. Toni wondered what it was like. No matter which way you turned you always had someone you could rely on, trust or confide in. Although they had never discussed it, Toni suspected that Megan wanted children. She had never considered the possibility for herself, but then, she hadnt been with Megan at the time. Now, all she could picture was a little girl with strawberry blonde hair and bright green eyes that she could read bedtime stories to, take for walks and watch grow into the beauty that is Megan.
On Monday, February 28th, Megan was released from the hospital. Her mother had decided to stay until Friday to make sure she didnt need any help around the house. Of course, Megan, like Toni, now had an entourage that followed her everywhere. Tate was still worried that there might be a stray element out there that would try to get to Toni through Megan. Having been privy to their relationship, he saw it as a definite threat. They had already secured 14 convictions but almost 20 more were pending.
Megans days were now filled with going to the courthouse to watch Toni testify, getting outpatient physical therapy, visits with a shrink appointed by the Justice Department and visits with her doctor three times a week. The hours she was allowed to spend with Toni in the evenings were longer than they had been able to share previously, but there was even less privacy in Tonis cell than there had been at the hospital. Being babysat was annoying, and now Megan had a taste of what it had been like for Toni for the past four months. A dour young Deputy Marshal by the name of Angela had been assigned to be her shadow until the trial was over. Angela assured Megan that she was fine sleeping on the couch, but Megan was sure that she didnt actually sleep at all. She stayed up until Megan shut her bedroom door at night and was up and making coffee before she emerged from her room the next morning.
Toni and Megan spent most of the month of March making their plans.
"Well, what did he say?" Toni asked as Megan was escorted to her cell.
Megan waited until the Marshal who escorted her in moved out of hearing range.
"Toni, what have I warned you about greeting me like that?" she pouted.
"God, Megan dont do that lip thing jeez " Toni moved closer and pulled Megans body toward her own. Gently she placed kisses on Megans lips, concentrating on the bottom one, which protruded slightly. She continued until Megan collapsed against her in a fit of giggles. Toni sighed as she held her laughing lover against her body. They both longed for the moment when they could be alone together truly alone. She was sure that she wouldnt survive the night with her ravenous little pixie, but she couldnt wait to find out. They sat down on the cot together in their new position of comfort; Toni with her back against the wall and her legs stretched out and Megan sitting snuggly in between.
"Well he wasnt too happy that we wont back down from our decision. But considering this case will make him Assistant Director of the US Marshals within the next year, and Director within the next five hes softening up."
"How so?" Toni inquired.
"Lets put it this way," Megan grinned as she paused, "he and I have been looking at real estate in the area."
Megan could feel Tonis broad smile against her neck and the sigh of relief that accompanied it. "Yes! I knew he would see it our way!"
"Hes getting the paperwork together. And as soon as the trial is over we are so out of here!" Megan exclaimed, joining in the enthusiasm.
They sat together with their arms entwined around Megans middle and basked in the warmth they found with each other. Quietly they sat each dreaming of their future together and the possibilities it would bring. They both knew that they would have Marshals scurrying around them for a few months, but they didnt care as long as they had each other.
From late February until the trial finally ended in mid April, Megan was e mailing, or on the phone with her family constantly. She found it hard to say goodbye to each of them, but at least this time they got a chance to. Over the last couple of months she learned that she was an integral part of her family. Not that she had ever felt otherwise, but she realized that she had been dispensing advice to one member or another since she had been in grade school. Everyone seemed to have a problem that required her immediate attention and she knew that they were all trying to let her know how much they would miss her. It broke her heart to break theirs again, but she had had 28 wonderful years with them. She had only had seven months with the woman who had stolen her heart and it was simply not enough. She needed more. She had sublimated her life with her schoolwork and then her job, never finding the one person who would fit in quite right. Since she thought that perfect person for her didnt actually exist, she was extremely happy with her life. But when she met Toni and her heart was captured in those cobalt blue eyes, she knew she could never go back. She knew that she could never be happy to live as she had.
Megans biggest fear was that she knew that Toni thought she didnt deserve this. She knew that they would have to work on Tonis sense of guilt. But mostly she would have to show Toni that she did deserve to be happy, that she did deserve to be in love and be loved. Now that they were together, their hearts and their souls were intertwined. Neither could imagine life without the other. Megan knew that if they had not been able to be together that Toni would have went on thinking that it was just punishment for the things she did in her past. Megan knew that if Tonis sense of guilt overwhelmed her she would simply bring her back down to earth by reminding Toni that she did not deserve to be punished as well. She would have to remind her brooding lover that her heart was the most precious thing that Toni now held in her hands. She just hoped that she could fill in some of the darkness with her light.
"Are you going to be okay while Im gone?" Megan asked. She had been dreading this trip for a week now, but it was necessary to finalize their new lives. It was April 12th and the prosecutors had decided that there was probably a little more than a week left for Tonis testimony. Nearly 30 convictions had been returned and they were hearing testimony now from some of the ranks in return for lighter sentences. For most of them it wouldnt make a difference except that they would have life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. For some of them, their lives had suddenly become valuable and it had finally hit them that they weren't untouchable or indestructible.
"Yeah I guess," Toni sighed as she held Megan close. She had a hard time reconciling the fact that she had a hand in a good portion of the crimes she had been testifying about and yet she got to go and live a new life a good life a very happy life, while her cohorts went to jail.
"Look Ill be back before you know it. And you have my cell phone number, so I expect it to be ringing off the hook so I can hear your voice," Megan told her.
"Megan " was all Toni could manage at the moment as she pulled her lover into her arms and kissed her. "I I want so much to make love to you I dont I dont deserve you."
Megans body was so enraptured by her lovers touch that she almost didnt hear the words Toni spoke.
"Yes you do you do deserve to be happy please dont say things like that " Megan whispered, her voice full of tears.
"See?" Toni asked, knowing they wouldnt go any further in this place. "I make you cry. You dont deserve that."
"Im crying because Im going to miss you silly. Dont change the subject. I hate it when you do that."
"Dont go " Toni blurted out before she knew her mouth was even open.
Megan looked up into watery cobalt eyes. "I dont want to, but it will be easier if I do this before before we go "
"I know. I shouldnt have said that. Im sorry."
"Dont be if you meant it," Megan smiled softly.
"I mean it. I love you. I dont want you to go, but I know you have to."
"Good I mean Im glad you mean it. I love you too and Ill be back in three or four days by then who knows maybe we can both leave this place and never come back."
"Ill miss you."
"Me too Toni, God me too."
Three days after Megans return, the trial ended. Thirty-three convictions had been returned including counts of first and second degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, illegal gambling, extortion, hijacking, tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, the importation and sale of drugs and racketeering amongst other things.
The sound bites heard on the news claimed that Toni "The Blade" Ferenci received a life sentence for her part in the crimes committed instead of the death penalty and would be placed in an undisclosed womens high security correctional facility. The television cameras outside the courtroom followed over a dozen armed Marshals as they led the witness to the security van. The witness kept her face covered, thus not allowing a good shot of her face for the cameras.
"Well, Ill be damned!" exclaimed Megans father as he and his family gathered around the TV to watch the event. On either side of the witness, wearing their US Marshal jackets and caps, were a tall, dark-haired Marshal, and a shorter red-haired Marshal. After helping the witness and several other Marshals into the security van, they escorted an older, gray-haired man to a black sedan that pulled off after the van.
To be continued
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