Redemption Song

by BlondeBard

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.

I would also like to thank my beta readers Buxxer and Mercury for their support.

All comments can be sent to

Part 5

They arrived back at the bed and breakfast and decided to clean up. Toni showered. Megan again relaxed in the large claw footed tub adding bubble bath. After about twenty minutes, Toni became curious. She rapped on the door. "Come on in," Megan told her.

She entered cautiously. She didn't want to intrude on Megan's privacy, but was curious as to what could hold her attention this long. Megan was submerged up to her neck in bubbles. She put down the toilet lid and sat down. She nodded towards Megan and her bubble bath, "Is that as enjoyable as it looks?"

"You've never had a bubble bath?" Megan asked.

"Yeah, sure, when I was a kid. But I've never thought about having one since."

"Well, then yeah, it is as enjoyable as it looks," she replied with a sly smile. "Especially in this tub. Is this thing cool or what? I wish I had one of these at home."

"Why? It doesn't look any bigger than an ordinary tub."

"Yeah, but it stands up off the floor and has cat feet holding it up," she tried to relay her enthusiasm to Toni.

Toni peered at the feet. "Yeah, I guess that is different. And it's deep. At least deeper than a regular tub." She shrugged. Not finding her interest in the old tub even equaling Megan's.

"Jeez Toni, don't you find any of this old-style stuff interesting?"

"Well, yeah…but…I don't know…the tub…it's just a tub. It doesn't even have massaging jets," she replied cynically, hiding her smile. She was in fact really enjoying the Old World atmosphere; she was just teasing Megan, and doing a damn fine job she thought smugly.

"How could you not be charmed by this house, this room, this tub in fact?" Megan had come up out of the water in her enthusiasm. Toni knew her limits and produced a towel, just in time for Megan to get really geared up…or stand up. Same difference as it turned out. Toni left the little bathroom; Megan chasing after her enumerating the charms of the tub when she realized it had been a ploy to get her out of the bathroom.

"You…you did that on purpose didn't you?" Megan accused Toni. Toni stood there with an innocent 'What me?' look on her face. "Oh you are sneaky," she challenged as she menaced Toni around the room.

"Hey…" Toni consulted her watch, "we do need to be leaving soon, huh? Or we're going to miss all the fun…right?" she countered as she jumped over the bed, dancing out of Megan's reach. Toni dodged Megan a couple of times before letting Megan catch her. When she found her arms wrapped around a drenched, towel-clad Megan, she captured her and kissed her soundly. And her world fell into place in that instant. Several minutes later when they came up for air Toni said, "Let's just stay here…okay?"

Megan looked into her eyes and knew that the barriers were down. Toni was ready to take the next step…and suddenly she was scared. 'What if she is disappointed? What if I'm not what she needs or wants?' These thoughts gripped Megan with an intensity that she didn't know how to deal with suddenly. She had been so confident not too long ago that if their relationship took on a new layer, that it would flourish. Now she was not so sure. "C'mon…you don't want to miss the Vampire Hunt? Do you?" she challenged hoping to get Toni off the subject for a few hours, while she figured out what her sudden reluctance was.

Toni looked Megan in the eyes and saw her same fears reflected and understood instantly. "Not on your life…get dressed or we're going to miss it," she told her, bestowing another soul-warming kiss. Finally Megan broke off and grabbed her clean clothes and went into the bathroom to change.


They exited the St. Charles St. streetcar as they had previously. Crossing Canal St. into the French Quarter. As it was evening, the town was hopping. There weren't quite as many people as the previous night, but there were still plenty. And they had outfitted themselves just like the other tourists. Both were wearing their new shirts. Megan had her T-shirt tucked into her blue jeans, and Toni had her cut-off sweatshirt hanging freely. Megan loved the look. Both fit the typical stereotype of a tourist. Certainly no native wore a shirt that proclaimed they had never been there before. They both brought light jackets, as the temperature promised to drop a bit, and by the end of the evening they might be needing a warmer garment. They headed down Bourbon St. and entered a bar they had discovered the previous day. They served a frozen drink called a Hand-grenade, though they would not give up their recipe. They liked the bar's signature drink and they liked that the bar had a second floor balcony where they could sit and watch the passers-by. They sat next to each other and talked of little things. Both knew how close they were to going that extra step, and it added to their excitement at being together. They traded light kisses and no one cared. They rested their heads on one another's shoulders and no one looked their way. They held hands and if anyone saw, they thought it was sweet. The easy acceptance they felt helped to make them both feel uninhibited. Finally they made their way down the street to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. It was a quaint little bar, which both might have been compelled to spend more time in, but the tour quickly organized. Approximately 30 people had purchased ticket for the tour. They left at 8:30 heading towards the outer reaches of the French Quarter.

Their guide was impeccably dressed in 18th Century attire. A tall black hat, a long black tailcoat, a walking cane and a lantern only added to his mystique.

He led them along the less traveled parts of the Quarter. Filling their heads with disturbing stories about the houses that they were standing right on the edge of. Toni was used to things being kind of crowded, but Megan found that the streets were narrow and the house fronts were only one or two steps off the street a little claustrophobic. Especially when their guide was telling them that not ten feet away, up one or two stories, a dozen or more people had been brutally murdered.

Their guide led them to the edge of the French Quarter, which he reiterated that no one should be convinced they can go without being on a tour. The edge was Rampart St. Across the street was St. Louis Cemetery #1 which purportedly housed the grave of Marie Laveau, the most renowned voodoo priestess the area ever knew. The odd way that the houses were shuttered was eerie enough, but the mention that the spaces in between housed courtyards where…to this day…rituals were held, only kept the listeners on their toes.

After nearly an hour the guide approached a well-known landmark. The house of Dr. and Madame Lalaurie. It was said that the structure had caught fire one day in 1834 when a fire broke out in the kitchen. The fire spread rapidly, the household slaves unable to bring it under control and when the fire department had arrived, after extinguishing the fire, they inspected the house for hidden pockets of resistance. They found a heavily barred door leading to the attic space, forcing the door to make sure the fire did not linger behind it, they were aghast at finding 7 slaves chained in various stages of torture. Several were missing limbs, one reduced to only her torso, and one woman had every bone in her body broken and reset at odd angles so that she was crab-like in her appearance. It appeared that Madame Lalaurie had been experimenting. Stories say that the unearthly screams of the tortured slaves can still be heard.

Another story he told his captive audience was one, of the old Ursiline Convent. It was said that for a time many caskets arrived to the convent from France, as the Ursiline's were a French sect. It is believed that the caskets contained the remains of vampires that were fleeing France because the persecution of Vampires and Witches had gripped the continent.

Megan found that the stories took on a life of their own, while one was standing, looking at the actual site of such vicious atrocities. She grabbed Toni's hand and held it for the entire length of the three-hour tour. The guide told them several other stories, which had her disturbed by the end of the tour. Luckily it ended near the Café du Monde, where they could pause to collect their wits and add caffeine to their perspectives. As the tour ended near midnight, many were reluctant to head towards their respective hotels, having had the wits scared out of them. Most of them decided to stop at the 24-hour café and consume hot café au laits and beignets while waiting for their reluctant nerves to calm.

"Hey," Toni suggested, "why don't we go where there are some actual living people and hear some music or something." She suggested it not only to ease Megan's jitters, but her own.

"Sounds like a plan," Megan smiled at her gratefully. They headed back towards the very populated Bourbon Street and find a lively club called Oz, which it appeared, catered to a mostly gay and lesbian crowd. After a couple of drinks and a couple of Jell-O shots that were being served by waitresses roaming the bar, Megan convinced Toni to slow dance with her. Toni had tried to object firmly stating that she did not know how to dance, but Megan turned on her charming little pout, which Toni found irresistible. Toni found that she enjoyed swaying to the music with Megan in her arms and as a result they slow-danced for several songs, despite the increase in tempo. Nearly exhausted and not a little drunk, they decided it was time to head back to their room for the evening.

They found the St. Charles streetcar and boarded it their arms firmly around one another. They walked the last couple of blocks back, each still a little ill at ease. Neither wanted to admit that the ghost stories had gotten to them, but both were feeling a little skittish. They grasped each other's hands like it was a lifeline. They let themselves in the separate entrance as it was well past 3am. They each took a turn in the bathroom, each feeling quite alone during the experience. When they crawled into bed, they both recognized the wary look in one another's eyes. It had nothing to do with them…just the mutually creepy feeling that they had actually stood next to ghosts. They snuggled up by mutual consent.

"I've heard ghost stories," Megan told Toni, "but none so realistic…and certainly none with such in-your-face visual aids as this one. I'm kind of creeped out."

"I know what you mean," Toni replied honestly, hugging Megan closer to herself. "All I knew was that I was glad the tour didn't lead us into any one of those buildings."

"Dear God…ditto. Do you think those things really happened?"

"Sure. I just think it was so much more eerie because we were standing there looking at these old buildings and letting our guide and our imaginations run away with us. When they take place in a town like New Orleans, with such a rich verbal history, they take on a mystique all their own."

"I see what you mean. If I took the same story and pointed out a residence in Miami and said, that is what happened here…everyone would shrug and go about their business. But here is it so believable. I'm glad…I'm glad you're here with me." Megan told her.

"Me too…I mean…I feel the same way. I wouldn't want to be here with anyone but you," she smiled sweetly at Megan and kissed her gently.

Soon their playfulness turned passionate. Hands began to explore. Both of them were eager for this sensation. As both of them had dressed for bed, Megan boldly lifted Toni's sleeveless T-shirt over her head. She kissed her way across Toni's collarbone and made her way down towards the enticing, erect nipples that greeted her. She reveled at the reaction Toni had as she took one nipple in her mouth and the other between her fingertips. Megan knew that she didn't need for it to go beyond this point. The delightful sounds that she was eliciting from Toni had her captivated. Megan was thoroughly enjoying herself and would have missed Toni's ragged whispers had she not been tugging on Megan's nightshirt.

"Megan…stop…" Megan looked up suddenly worry clouding her expression. "Come here," Toni whispered hoarsely. Megan was confused. The look on Toni's face spoke desire but she had asked her to stop. Hesitantly she moved back up next to Toni.

Toni's mouth was dry and she swallowed several times trying to work some moisture back in. She tugged Megan up next to her and mutely indicated her wishes as she began to tug Megan's Harvard nightshirt up in an effort to free her from it. Megan expelled the breath she had been holding and smiled warmly at Toni as the precious nightshirt was tossed aside. Toni wrapped her arms around Megan and pulled her close kissing her with glorious abandon as she lowered Megan on her back and proceeded to ravage her as she herself had been only moments before. She captured one rosy nipple in her mouth and smiled, as it became instantly erect at her ministrations. She felt Megan's hands in her hair pulling her closer as her back arched giving Toni greater access.

"Yes…Toni…yes…" Megan cried out, her breath coming in gasps. Toni was suddenly overwhelmed by the desire she felt to please her new lover, to hear her beautiful voice as she climaxed. She moved her attentions lower placing tender kisses along Megan's taut abdomen and running her tongue inside the tiny bellybutton. This served to increase Megan's vocal responses and her hips began to rock in a gentle, ageless rhythm. Toni used this opportunity to slide her hands down Megan's sides hooking her thumbs into Megan's panties and easing them down. She worked her way back towards Megan's center with a series of kisses to her calves, the backs of her knees and her inner thighs. She paused momentarily and took a deep breath of her lover's scent. It was intoxicating and she could barely keep herself from devouring the young Deputy instead of "making love" to her as she intended.

'If this isn't heaven, I don't want to go,' Megan thought. She was trying to watch as Toni kissed and touched her body, but the sensations that were flowing through her kept causing her to throw her head back and squeeze her eyes shut. She was trying not to be loud, but wasn't having much success. She could feel Toni's warm breath on her center and the tingling feeling she had throughout her body was concentrated on that one spot. She nearly left the bed when she felt Toni's tongue probe the sensitive nub. As a result, her ragged moaning had increased and had become more incoherent. "Please…yes…oh…Toni…yes…more…ahhh…don't stop," she continued.

Toni couldn't have been happier at the response her explorations were having on Megan. And after a couple more minutes she had achieved the desired reaction. Megan's hips bucked wildly as the orgasm washed over her. She found herself unable to stop. The sweet musky taste of Megan's sex had her enthralled. Finally she moved her way back up Megan's body to her lips which Megan devoured greedily.

She found that she liked the taste of herself on her lover's lips very much. She could hardly breathe, but it didn't matter. She wanted to send Toni over the edge when she felt Toni's wetness settle against her hip. Slowly she began to move her hips in time with Toni's rhythm never breaking their kiss. Toni's knee was set firmly between Megan's overheated center. Moments later both women were moaning as they climaxed together. "Megan…ahhhh…Megan…now…yes!" Toni cried out as the orgasm shook her.

"Toni…. mmmmm…Toni…" Megan countered climaxing for a second time within as many minutes.

Toni's body lay across her lover's, spent. After gathering her breath, she shifted slightly so she wasn't laying her full weight on Megan. They snuggled against each other, neither able to speak. Toni gently nipped at Megan's neck and ear wanting to hear her cries of passion yet again. "I love you, Megan. With all my heart…" she whispered seductively. "I want to make love to you all night…"

"Yes…" was all Megan could produce from her dry throat. "I love you too…and yes…all night…please."

After relaxing for several minutes, their sweat-covered bodies began to recognize the chill that had filled the room, as the window had been left open and the ceiling fan was revolving briskly. They pulled the covers over themselves and dozed for a while. Upon awakening, they continued their explorations of one another anew. They each had discovered that they had never quite felt this way with any other person in their lives. And this new discovery had only encouraged them further. For her own part, Toni had never before derived the giving of pleasure as a sensation unto itself. The closer she brought Megan to climax the more aroused she herself had become. This was an overwhelming sensation for her and she reveled in it.

By the time they were truly exhausted, the sun had been peeking in the window for quite a while. Eventually they decided that they needed more substantial nourishment than each other. Toni convinced Megan that they needed to shower before venturing into the world of the living, and that experience had left them both with trembling knees before it was over.


They were both flushed as they left their room for the confines of the kitchen. They found that they had to brew a fresh pot of coffee if they wanted some. Minutes later Gwen entered the room and both women blushed again. "I take it the tour was to your liking?" she teased, knowing that the walking tour was not what had the two women blushing furiously. Unfortunately the walls of the old house were not terribly thick. But it had rather delighted her and her husband that the two had finally gotten over their obvious reticence at making love in their home. At least, that's what they had put it down to. Honeymooners that didn't make any noise was a bad sign. Finally they had been able to relax and enjoy the fact that their only occupants had relaxed as well. "Any plans for today?" she inquired.

"Um…yeah. We were going to go explore that gigantic riverfront mall. Is it worth the trip?" Megan asked.

"As a matter of fact, Linda, it is," she informed Megan, calling her by the name she knew. "Make sure to stop in the bookstore there. Often times you can find autographed copies of books by local authors."

"Thanks, we will," Linda/Megan informed their hostess. "Hey, let's go get some warmer clothes on," she said to Toni.

"Right behind you," Toni smiled back. After Megan entered their room and shut the door, she turned her attention back to Gwen. "Um…Gwen…if you don't mind…can I borrow your kitchen tonight?"

"Sure you can, sweetie, no problem. If you can't find anything, just ask," she replied kindly.

"I really appreciate it. I…want to cook…umm…Linda a special dinner for our anniversary. There will be plenty, and I would appreciate it if you and Ben would join us."

"Nonsense, we'll get out of your hair," their host tried.

"No…please…I insist. It's just that you two have made our…umm…anniversary so special, that I would like for you to be there. Really, you won't be imposing, you'll be fantastic company." In fact, Gwen and Ben had reminded her of her parents before her mother's untimely death. So happy with each other, that it couldn't help but rub off on her and Megan, bringing them a sort of luck.

"We would be honored," Gwen told her reflecting Megan's thoughts when they had been invited to an impromptu dinner the first night they had arrived. "Can we bring anything?" she asked.

"Just yourselves," Toni assured her, and then she embraced Gwen, overcome by the whim to do so. "Thanks, a lot, really," she told the older woman. Then she dashed into their room to put on warmer clothes for their newest adventure.


The Riverfront Mall was spectacular. It had many of the same shops as any other mall, but it boasted a view of the riverfront that was astounding. The bookstore was were they spent the bulk of their time. They found several autographed copies of paperbacks by a local author by the name of Poppy Z. Brite. They couldn't resist and bought two of the paperbacks promising to read them together. Another store that had captured their interest was a cooking store. They both knew that Louisiana Hot Sauce came from the area, but neither realized that New Orleans was the pepper sauce capital, apparently. The store had several different selections for shoppers to taste. They provided crackers and chips to dip and sample the wares. Megan was enthralled by a horrible looking concoction called Bat's Brew and bought a bottle, completely unsure what she might do with it, especially since she didn't really cook.

After a nearly exhausting day of shopping, they returned to the bed and breakfast. Toni encouraged Megan to bathe at her leisure. She talked to Gwen who agreed to accompany her to a local grocery for the needed ingredients.

Megan finished her bubble bath, expecting to find Toni waiting to take her turn, but turned up only Ben. Ben admitted that Gwen and Toni had gone to the grocery, unaware that the trip had been kept secret from Linda/Megan. He and Megan talked and watched TV waiting for the two women to return. When they finally did, their arms bursting with bags, Megan and Ben stepped in to help them. Megan cornered Toni. "What's going on?" she asked, not wanting to be worried at her lover's sudden disappearance, but nonetheless she was.

"Remember when I told you that I wanted to prepare a real lasagna for you? Well, I just went out and got all the ingredients. And now I have someplace to cook it. I couldn't do it in a hotel room, but here turned out to be perfect," she explained. She suddenly noted the look on Megan's face. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing now…I just…well…I was worried. You didn't tell me you were leaving…and it…well it scared me," she admitted, her body still shaking.

"I'm sorry Megan, I wanted it to be a surprise. I mean…I'm sorry," she said again as she kissed her lover gently.

Megan had had visions of her lover fleeing her arms, dissatisfied. But she relaxed at Toni's apology. She knew these feelings had no basis in fact, but it didn't keep her unruly mind from running off at the first indication of being left behind. Toni's kiss had reassured her that her feelings had not been one-sided. "Can I help?" she inquired gently.

"Nope. You just need to go sit down in the living room and relax. Gwen and I have this totally under control." She saw the look of loss on Megan's face and tried to take it away. "Please. Let me do this for you. I did promise you after all. Okay?" she asked as she kissed her young lover softly.

"Okay…you win. Are you sure you don't want any help? I can chop things up pretty good."

Toni laughed. "Go on you," she told Megan shoving her towards the living room.

"Do you like football?" Ben questioned Linda/Megan.

"Do I? Yes sir. I was raised on it. Turn it on," she encouraged. They watched the Monday night game, the whole time, going crazy over the smells coming from the kitchen and speculating on what exactly their dinner would consist of besides Sophia's/Toni's lasagna.

When they were finally called away from their reverie that is Monday Night Football, they entered the kitchen to find a healthy salad, lasagna and loaves of garlic bread awaiting them. They dug into their meal. None of them spoke for a few minutes, as they were too busy stuffing their faces. 'Toni was right,' Megan thought, 'this is the best lasagna I've ever had. Now I'll never be able to eat a frozen one again,' she smiled happily to herself. After they were all thoroughly satisfied, Ben and Megan insisted on doing the dishes. Toni and Gwen shrugged and retired to the living room to watch the second half of the game.

After the evening news Toni and Megan retired to their room.

"Thank you," Megan whispered as she lay close to Toni.

"For what?" Toni was at a loss.

"For dinner, of course," Megan told her.

"You don't have to thank me for that, I did promise you that dinner, quite a while ago as I remember."

"I know, but it was still special…I mean…that you remembered."

"Megan…" Toni began, not sure exactly what she wanted to say, "I don't think I'll ever forget anything about you," she finished tenderly.

They spent the night making new discoveries about each other. Megan learned that Toni was ticklish, in certain spots. And Toni learned that Megan had been right. Making love to someone did not diminish or take away from the existing relationship, it enhanced it.


The next morning, Megan shocked Toni by insisting on a breakfast of warmed up lasagna.

"Ugh…how can you eat that so early in the morning?"

"Don't tell me that in your college days you never ate cold pizza for breakfast," Megan chided.

"Not unless I was thoroughly hung over and didn't know what I was doing," Toni informed her, selecting her preferred cheese danish.

"Besides, after last night, I'm starved," Megan told her, mischievously wagging her eyebrows. Toni blushed, a rare sight that pleased Megan greatly.

They decided to head back to the French Quarter. It seemed that no matter how many times they explored it, they found new shops to look in and new restaurants to try. Besides, Megan had explained to Toni, she needed to check in and she wanted to use a payphone that was not near the location they were staying at.

After wandering around for several hours, both admitted they were tired and hungry. They decided to try their luck at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street. Megan tried one of the gumbo dishes and Toni had the blackened tuna. They shared a piece of the sweet-potato pecan pie. When they finished, Megan excused herself and armed with a pocketful of change, headed for the payphone near the restrooms. She dialed the number for the Herald ads and listened patiently for Tate's response. She then beeped the new number he left and waited. Nearly twenty minutes passed before the phone rang.

"Hello," she answered.

"O'Reilly?" came Tate's voice.

"Yeah, boss," she answered recognizing him at once.

"We've got some news here, but nothing that is going to help. You'll probably hear some distorted version of it on the evening news. We set up a room in Seattle and there was another attempt. Two of Ribisi's goons are dead, so we were unable to get any answers from them. Unfortunately, we lost one of our young Deputies as well."

"Yes sir," she responded, a little shaken up, although that had been her aim. To lead them off their immediate trail.

"Listen Megan," Tate began uneasily, "I don't know how exactly to tell you this, but," he hesitated again, "we released your name as that of the murdered Deputy."

Megan dropped the receiver, gasping for air. 'Oh my God. My family. My God. They're going to think I'm dead.' Her vision blurred and her head began to pound at the thought. After several numb minutes she could hear Tate, "O'Reilly…Megan…please pick up the phone…Megan? Megan?" Finally she was able to make her fingers work. She picked up the receiver.

"Yes," her voice was shaky at best.

"Sorry…Megan…I didn't mean to drop it on you like that. But better you heard it from me, than on the nightly news."

"Yes sir."

"Listen…I know this is hard…"

"What…what about my parents? Do they know?"

"Megan, listen…we had to tell them that what the news reports said are true. I realized that when it was evident that you were still in charge of Ferenci, that they might try to use your family against you." "But…but you told them it wasn't true? Didn't you?" Although Tate had answered that question already, Megan hadn't really been listening.

"Megan…they have to believe it's true, or they could become targets."

Megan tried hard to rein in her shock and anger so that she could make sense of what Tate was telling her. 'Her family thought she was dead. Okay. This way they would not be harmed. Got it. But what now?'

"What do I do now?" she asked.

"Do you still have the money you won?"

"Yes sir, most of it," she told him, "in cashier's checks." They had spent a very small amount on items they had considered personal, the bulk of it was still in cashier's checks.

"Although I can't say I'm happy about the manner in which you acquired it…and I know the Justice Department has no claim on it…I'm asking you now, cash those checks and use cash from here on out. I'm sure you won't have any problems. Keep the receipts and we will reimburse you. Look," he admitted reluctantly, "I'm stumped O'Reilly, I truly am. I honestly don't know if these guys have a line on those cards. Although you and I are the only ones who know you have them, the purchases do go on record here, and it appears that someone is working really hard to figure out just which cards are in your possession. This way, the diversions I set up may have a chance. Hopefully, whoever it is will know that I had to give Ferenci over to another agent." He waited to see if she had heard what he said.

"Okay. I understand."

"Another thing…and I'm hesitant to tell you this…"

"Please Frank, I don't think you could tell me anything else that would shock me right now," she responded her voice edgy and distant.

"Your charge has a price on her head."

"How…how much?" Megan asked, her voice cracking.

"Two million dollars. An awful lot of people in the business won't hesitate to cash in on that, so watch your back." He waited for her response but got none. "O'Reilly? You still there?"

"Yes…yes sir. Don't worry sir. We'll be fine. Is the court date still the same?"

"For now it is. If there's any change, I'll let you know."

"Yes sir. I'll check in again in two days." She listened as the line disconnected at his end then hung up the receiver. She sat for a few minutes to collect herself. For the mob to put a price on someone's head was not unheard of, but $2 million was quite steep, and spoke of the desperation the Ribisis were feeling at stopping Toni Ferenci. Whatever it is that she knew, they were determined to quiet. She also knew that this price tag would attract every penny-ante crook that had the smallest tie to organized crime. But the thing that had her glued to her seat, unable to stand, was the knowledge, that in the eyes of her family…she was dead. Gone. They would attend her funeral, and no one would tell them that it wasn't true. So wasn't sure how long she sat there, stunned, unable to move or to think.

After nearly forty minutes, Toni was getting antsy. Finally, unable to contain herself, she headed towards the restrooms and telephones to check on Megan. When she rounded the corner, the sight that greeted her was not pleasant. Megan sat in front of the phone. Her hands in her lap, her complexion pale, pupils dilated, with tears streaming down her face. She rushed to her side. "Megan…Megan…" she tried. She reached out and gently took the younger woman's hands in her own, finding them icy cold. "Megan…sweetie…please. Can you hear me?" she asked her voice quivering with fear.

"Wha…what?" Megan responded quietly. Her gaze shifted to Toni's face, but it was as if she was looking past her, Toni thought.

"Can you hear me? Megan? What happened?" she asked massaging Megan's frozen hands between her own. As if sensing someone nearby that she could depend on, Megan threw her arms around Toni's neck and sobbed quietly. "Ssshhh…it's okay. It's okay," Toni reassured her, holding her tightly, not knowing if her words held any truth to them. After several minutes like this Megan spoke.

"Drink…I need a drink…" Toni helped her stand and guided her back to their table. She grabbed the waiter and asked for a glass of water.

"Bourbon…double…" Megan said, her eyes still not focusing on anyone or anything.

Toni sat next to Megan, her arm around her lover's shoulders, waiting, for what, she wasn't sure. The waiter returned with a glass of ice water and a double bourbon, setting them in front of the women. Megan grabbed for the bourbon, but Toni halted her hand. "Maybe you should try some water first," she tried. Megan tugged the bourbon out of her grasp and downed the contents in one gulp. She didn't even make a face, Toni noted. Several more minutes passed before Megan tried to speak.

"God…Toni…they think I'm dead." Tears began to run down her face again.

"Ssshhh…tell me…tell me what you're talking about Megan, please?" Toni begged, not knowing what Megan was so upset about. "Who? Who thinks you're dead?"

"My…my family…they told them I was dead," she replied in a monotone.

"Who told them you were dead?" Toni was trying to understand, but her own fears were making her heart beat so fast; she couldn't make sense of what Megan was trying to tell her.

"Tate…Seattle…oh God…they think I'm dead. It'll kill her…Mom…it'll kill her…" she sobbed, sinking her head against Toni's willing shoulder.

"It's okay…I'm sure…I'm sure they'll understand it was all a mistake…"

"No!" Megan yelled, as heads turned to look at them from around the restaurant. Toni quieted her once more. "You don't understand…they want them to think that I'm dead…it's part of the plan…don't you see?" she asked frantically. Toni realized the situation was getting out of control. She reached into her pocket and pulled out more than enough money to cover their tab and threw it on the table. She then helped Megan up and carefully guided her towards the restroom where they would have more privacy.

She led Megan to the sink and turned it on. She grabbed some paper towels and wet them under the spout. Gently she patted Megan's face with the cool towels. "Tell me what happened. Slowly. Okay. I'm here."

"Seattle…another attempt…Deputy dead…he…he gave my name…he told them it was me who was dead."

Toni listened carefully and started putting the pieces together. "Are you saying that there was another attempt on me? In Seattle? And a Deputy was killed?" she asked. Megan nodded yes. "And that Tate told the media that you were the Deputy killed?" Yes again. "God almighty," Toni hissed. "Why the hell would he do something like that?" she railed.

"To…to protect my family…by telling them that I'm dead…" Megan broke out into a new batch of sobs. Toni instantly curbed her anger and pulled the distraught woman into an embrace.

'Damn the Ribisis…damn them to hell…I'm going to bring every one of them down,' she thought angrily. It had suddenly occurred to her just what they had done to Megan. They had just told her parents and her six siblings that she was dead…in the line of duty…but dead nonetheless. And that they weren't going to inform them otherwise, lest they become targets of the Ribisi family as well.

Toni finally got Megan calmed down enough to leave the restaurant. It was almost 2pm when they exited onto the street. Toni steered Megan towards the streetcar that would take them back to the bed and breakfast, but Megan was having none of it. "Nope…" she told Toni, "we need to have a drink." Toni hoped that it would be one drink, one stop…but Megan was determined. Probably to get drunk she figured, so she decided to play along for as long as it took to get Megan to agree to return to their room.

They went back to the Oz since it was a 24-hour bar and guaranteed people and music, as well as drinks at any time. Megan insisted on bourbon shots, but after two of them, Toni had talked her into drinking them with coke. She then quietly instructed the bartender to put very little bourbon in Megan's drinks. He complied, happy with the generous tip and seeing his patron already appeared quite drunk although he had served her very little. Toni tried her best to coax Megan out of her strange mood. If Toni hadn't known better, she would have come to the same conclusion as the bartender, that Megan was already drunk. She agreed to dance with Megan hoping it would help her work out some of the manic energy she was exhibiting.

When the music finally slowed, Toni pulled Megan to her and held on to her for dear life. Megan dropped her head onto Toni's shoulder and they swayed gently to the beat. "Megan…" she tried to reach her lover for the hundredth time, "hey love. Everything's going to be all right. Okay? I promise."

"Mmmhmmm…" Megan seemed to agree. "If you say so."

The sentiment felt very non-committal to Toni. She tried again. "I love you…you know that? Right?"

"Yes…mmmm…yes I do," Megan's words seemed almost slurred, even though Toni had seen her drink more and be less affected. She knew it was the situation, but it was spooking her nonetheless.

Toni dug deeper. "Megan…I'm scared…" she began. For some reason this got an instant reaction.

"What? What?" Megan repeated her eyes finally focusing on Toni's. Toni realized that this was the only way she was going to reach her.

"I'm scared," she said again.

"Why?" Megan asked gently stroking Toni's face.

"I…I don't want to lose you," Toni stated simply.

"Never…baby…you're never going to lose me…are you okay?" she asked seeming a more normal semblance of herself.

"Yeah…I…just want to go home…okay?" Toni tried.

"Okay…okay…we're going to be okay. Let's go home," Megan told her.

"Please…I just want to go home." For whatever reason, it worked. Megan seemed more in control than she had been in the last two hours. They made their way to the streetcar and headed back. As they neared their room, Megan had begun to look a little green from her experience. Toni let them in the side door, so as not to alarm their hosts. Megan fled into the bathroom and slammed the door. The unmistakable sound of retching could be clearly heard outside.

Toni slowly entered the bathroom. She rubbed Megan's back and started water into the tub. When the tub had filled with warm water, Toni undressed and helped Megan do likewise. She eased them both down into the soothing water. She held Megan in her arms. Megan alternately dozed and awoke, each time sobbing uncontrollably until Toni assured her she was there and would remain so. Nearly an hour later, the water had cooled considerably and they had both pruned. Toni helped Megan out and dried her, then settled her into the bed, tucking her into the comforting covers and holding her until she dozed off again. She threw on some clothes and went into the kitchen searching for some soda to settle her own queasy stomach.

"Is everything okay?" Gwen asked, stepping into the kitchen and startling Toni.

Her heart was beating so hard, she could hardly answer. "Yeah…well…no…umm…Linda drank too much this afternoon…she's pretty sick…and I'm not feeling too good myself."

"I'm sorry to hear that, will she be okay?" Gwen asked concerned.

"Yeah, she's just sleeping it off now. Everything will be fine, thanks for asking. We just got a little carried away today…that's all," Toni assured their hostess.

"Okay…well if there's anything you need, just call, okay?"

"Yeah…and Gwen, thanks…we appreciate it."

"No problem."

Toni took the soda back to their room. It was the only thing that would calm her uneasy stomach. She climbed into bed trying not to awaken Megan, but her eyes flew open at the movement, searching wildly for something, someone. When she locked onto Toni's eyes, she calmed somewhat, but threw herself into Toni's arms. Toni held her as tightly as she could without making her uncomfortable. The night was like the worst rollercoaster ride Toni had ever been on. Megan slept fitfully, when she did wake; she was disoriented and nearly inconsolable. And as she slept, nightmares held her in their horrible embrace. Toni spent the night alternately trying to wake Megan from the frightful dreams, and gently ease her back to sleep. When morning finally neared Megan was finally resting. Toni held her and spoke to her as the terrible dreams seemed to subside and she appeared to be getting some sleep.


Megan awoke, the sun streaming in through the blinds, from the horrific nightmares that had consumed her. She felt weak and disoriented, but comforted as she noted that she was in Toni's arms. A place she knew she belonged. She tried to remember the events of the day before, but they were hazy and slow in returning. She lay still and concentrated. Slowly the events returned. They had a nice lunch…she called Tate…and her world crumbled around her again. The mere thought of her mother, standing over her grave brought sobs up from the lowest depths. Toni awoke with a start, clutching Megan.


"Hey…hey…sweetie…it's going to be all right. Listen to me."

"Oh God…Toni…I can't deal with this…they think I'm dead."

"I know…I know…they did it to protect them."

"God…by telling them I'm dead?"

"Yes…I know it's hard to understand…I know they are going to hurt…but they might have become targets…and what would have hurt worse? Hmmm? Could you have handled it if they had threatened one of your family? It was for the best. You'll be able to see them once this is over. Okay? God Megan…I'm so sorry I dragged you into this."

"What? No…you're right…they knew I was the one that was sheltering you. Tate did the right thing, no matter how much it's going to hurt. I'll…I'll be okay."

Somehow Toni didn't believe that, no matter how much she wanted to. This event was going to change Megan's life forever. She still wished she had no part of it. But it was too late for that. She was the catalyst. She hoped that Megan's family would forgive the Justice Department…and herself…for making them perpetrate this lie. She couldn't even imagine what it was like to be told that your child was dead. It was hard enough when her mother died. She had forsaken the church and her faith after that. And when her father was murdered, she had forsaken the only other family she knew. But this was different. This was their daughter, their sister. She was young. How could you get over that?

They remained in bed. Both fitfully dozing on and off. Finally Toni escaped to the kitchen and Gwen found her a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup to warm up and take back with her. Megan wasn't really interested in eating, but Toni insisted. Finally she did manage about half her bowl. She suggested that they relax in the tub, to ease their fatigued muscles, and Megan reluctantly agreed. Toni readied the bath water and she and Megan settled into it.

Toni held Megan in her arms and finally her own shame and grief overcame her, and tears began to flow unbidden, down her face. "I'm so sorry," she told Megan.

"I know…I know love…it'll be okay." They held each other again, until the water began to cool.


By Thursday afternoon, they determined that they had better venture back into the world of the living, so that their hosts would not worry too much. They decided a drive would be nice and headed toward Lake Pontchartrain. They stopped at Clancy's a restaurant which was nearby, and had a light lunch of fried oysters and warm Brie. They headed out towards the lake to watch the sunset.

They sat on the seawall watching boaters, Toni had her arms wrapped around Megan, determined that she would never let her go. "Megan…do you…regret…us?"

"What?" Megan was somewhat shocked at the question. She looked into Toni's cobalt eyes and saw only the look of worry reflected in them. "No…no…Toni…don't think that. I can't say I like the way things are going…but…I mean…with us…I like the way things are going…I love you."

Toni breathed a sigh of relief. "I love you too Megan. I just hate the fact that I'm the cause of all your troubles…your grief."

"Hey…aside from the horrible circumstances…you have never caused me grief…only happiness. Okay?" she asked with a kiss.

Toni returned the sweet gesture and smiled. "How do you always know the right thing to say to me?" Toni asked her.

Remembering the last time Toni had asked, Megan replied, "I just tell you what makes me feel better…and I hope it works for you too." They exchanged several gentle kisses and watched the sunset over Lake Pontchartrain. After the sun crept over the horizon they got in the car and headed back towards what they currently considered home.

Continued in Part 6.

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