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 6

They returned to their room and asked Gwen again for a recommendation for dinner. She suggested a rather festive restaurant that attracted a lot of locals called Gabrielle on Esplanade Avenue. They secured directions and started off. When they arrived, true to her word, the found a very energetic place with a rather tight dining room. It appeared to be mostly filled with locals as the smattering of conversation held that Cajun twang. They wanted to be somewhat away from the tourist haunts because they needed to talk.

After they ordered, Megan told Toni more about her conversation with Tate. She explained how he had encouraged her to stop using the credit cards, because he suspected the purchases could be easily traced.

"What about the rental?" Toni asked. "Didn't you put that on a credit card?"

"Yeah, that's one problem. I used the Paula Ingalls, ID. We told them we were taking the car to Houston to drop off."

"Well, maybe that should be our plan. We could take a trip to Houston, drop the car. Cash the checks there, and get another rental paid for in cash."

"The only problem I can see with that, is that most rental car agencies want a credit card as a form of security against you holding the car longer than you say. Plus they still need to see your driver's license so that they know who to insure," Megan told her.

"I see what you mean. But still…we can take a bus back here. That wouldn't be as easy to trace."

"Yeah, that might work. But I think you are right, I think we should take the rental to Houston, so we don't have any questions lingering as to its whereabouts. Plus it will give us something to do," she replied with a small smile.

Toni realized that Megan was still in a funk. 'How could she not be? She is so close to her family and she can't tell them that she is fine. They are all destined to attend her funeral and to grieve for someone who is very much alive. If I were in her shoes…hell…I wouldn't have any idea what it would be like to be cared for by so many people. But I know I couldn't stand the thought of my mother thinking I was dead. I honestly don't know how she does it. It's so obvious that it is tearing her up, but she is willing to maintain this charade for the next 3 months, just so she can protect me. God, how am I going to live with what I'm doing to her?'

"Toni? Yoo hoo? Earth to Toni," Megan teased looking at her far off expression. Toni looked up at Megan, embarrassed at having missed part of the conversation.

"Sorry, I was just thinking." She felt guilty at having drifted off into her own thoughts and she took Megan's hand and squeezed it gently by way of apology.

"About what?" she asked.

"My mother," Toni told her revealing part of her thoughts. She needed to talk to Megan about this, about what Megan was feeling, but she was hesitant to bring up such a painful subject. "Megan…are you…are you all right?"

Megan knew what Toni was referring to instantly. She looked away for a moment trying to compose her thoughts. Part of her wanted to run to the nearest phone booth and put her parent's minds at ease, the other part of her knew that to do that would mean to give up Toni. And giving up Toni would mean resigning from the case. The scariest thought about that was that she didn't trust anyone else to protect Toni as well as she would, and right now, losing Toni was more horrifying than any thought that came into her head. "I guess…I mean…I'm as okay as I can be given the circumstances."

One of Toni's father's favorite sayings was "look out for number 1, because nobody else will". She had lived most of her life by this credo, but now, all she could think about was how badly Megan must be hurting. She knew there was nothing she could do to ease her burden. The only way she could think to do that, to take away Megan's pain, was to encourage her to quit the case. "Megan…I've been thinking a lot about this lately…and I think that maybe you should ask to be reassigned. That way, you can let your family know that you are okay."

Megan shook her head. She wasn't sure if she had just heard Toni correctly. "You…you want me to quit?" Her calm had begun to erode. "You want me to go? After all we've been through, you don't trust me?"

"What? No…Megan. I trust you with my life."

"But you want me to put it in someone else's hands?" she snapped, her anger coming through.

"No…yes…damn Megan…why are you making this so hard?"

"What? Am I upsetting your routine?" Tears were clearly showing in her eyes now though she was keeping her voice low.

This was not the reaction Toni was expecting. She thought she would get relief and gratefulness for her understanding. Toni wasn't sure if Megan was just more upset about her family than she was letting on, or if she herself was missing something entirely. "Megan…please…listen to me…"

"God…how could I be so dense? You've been telling me this all along and I've been trying to convince both of us otherwise."

"What? Megan…I'm just concerned about you…"

"Save it Toni. I've been 'let down easy' by the best of them. I'll save you the trouble." With that statement, Megan stood abruptly and left the table heading for the exit.

"Wha…but…" Toni stood immediately and started to go after her, then realized that they had ordered drinks and dinner and someone needed to pay. She hurriedly took out her wallet and quickly tried to guess the tab, but her mind was going out the door, along with Megan. She counted out $60 and threw it on the table, hoping that would suffice and rushed out the door amidst curious stares. As she hit the exit, she saw their rental car fly out of the parking lot at a furious pace. Unable to stop her, Toni halted in her tracks unsure of what to do next. She quickly looked around. "Damn it," she cursed out loud to no one. In New York, cabs were a dime a dozen. Here she couldn't spot one. She went back inside and asked the host to call her a cab. She made sure that she had left sufficient money to cover their tab, and since it had come to $42 dollars, she was satisfied that she had left enough.

It took nearly five minutes for the taxi to arrive. By then she had no idea where Megan had gone. She instructed the driver back to their room on Magazine Street, unable to remember the exact address. She stopped him when he pulled up in front of the little bed and breakfast. She was alarmed because the rental wasn't there, which meant that neither was Megan. She instructed the driver to wait as she dashed inside.

"Ben…has Meg…" she paused closing her eyes. She was getting tired of the whole charade. She tried again, after composing herself. "Has Linda been here?"

"No Sophia, I haven't seen her since you two left for dinner. Is there a problem?" He could tell there was. Sophia was clearly upset.

"Um…yeah…we had a fight, and she drove off. I thought she would come back here."

"No, sorry, I've been here the last half hour and I haven't seen her."

"Do you have something I can write on?"

He jumped up and produced a pen and paper from a desk near the entrance. "Here, will this do?"

"Yeah, thanks." She took the pen and paper, not at all sure what to write. Knowing only that she desperately needed to talk to Megan before things got more out of hand. Her hands were shaking so badly she could hardly hold the pen. She wrote "M…I love you. I need to talk to you, please. T." She folded it up and asked Ben to give it to Linda should she show up. If she didn't return before they closed the front door, she asked him to place on their outer door, for her to find. He agreed and expressed his sorrow at their disagreement. He wished her luck in finding Linda.

She jumped back into the taxi. "Where to?" the driver asked. She had no idea really, where to begin. But since they were most familiar with the French Quarter, she asked him to take her there.

She exited onto Canal Street and paid her fare. She looked around quickly knowing that Megan would not be able to drive the rental into the Quarter, as it was closed to all but foot traffic after dark.

'For God's sake, she could be anywhere. Shit. Megan? Christ, what is going on? Did I miss something? I just want you to be happy. What the hell did I say to upset you so much?'

She headed down Decatur Street towards the Café du Monde. She peeked into every bar and restaurant that was open along the way. Although for New Orleans, 9pm might be early, it seemed so dark and late to her. She hoped that Megan hadn't gone anywhere they had been warned not to go after dark, or without a tour group.

When she got to the Café du Monde, she scanned the crowd carefully. She did not see Megan. She decided to try some of the clubs they had been to. She headed up St. Ann Street towards Bourbon. Dodging around tourists she was there in less than ten minutes.

She went into the Bourbon Pub and checked upstairs at the Parade Disco. She went from there to Oz where they had danced a couple of times. It took her more than fifteen minutes to look through the crowds and determine that Megan wasn't there. She was becoming more frustrated. It had been nearly two hours since she had last seen Megan. 'Think Toni think. Where might she have gone?' One of the Oz bartenders recognized her and asked her if he could get her a drink. She asked him if he had seen the little redhead she was with a few days ago. He told her that maybe she might find her over at Charlene's. Something clicked. Megan had been talking about going there the next time they were out. She had seen it listed in their guide as the premier lesbian bar. She asked the bartender for directions to Charlene's and was chagrined to find out that she had been fairly close to it when she was at the Café du Monde. Quickly she retraced her steps. It was nearly a half an hour later when she arrived on foot.

She was even more pissed at herself when she saw that she had to cross Esplanade Avenue, which was still open to traffic, and was the road Gabrielle was located on. Charlene's looked like any neighborhood bar. But she was most relieved to see the rental parked in the lot. She entered the bar and looked around. The clientele was predominately female but there were some men. She immediately spotted Megan. She was sitting at the bar surrounded by several women.

She was hesitant to approach her. She didn't want to cause a scene and she didn't want to upset Megan any further. She decided to take a seat at the far end of the bar where she could keep her eye on Megan and not be seen. She ordered a Dixie Blackened Voodoo, and waited. She didn't much like what she was seeing though. The three women that were talking to Megan seemed quite charmed, and jealousy sprang to life in her heart. A pretty blonde sat on the barstool next to her and attempted to engage her in conversation. The blonde noted where she was staring.

"She's cute, isn't she?"

"Yeah," Toni shrugged, not really wanting to talk to anyone.

"Well, good luck. Those three have been trying to take her home all night. Seems she just broke up with the love of her life."

"Oh?" Toni was suddenly interested in what the blonde had to say.

"Yeah, she said she seems to attract the 'love 'em and leave 'em type'. I can't even imagine leaving her."

"She been here long?" Toni tried to sound casual.

"A couple of hours I guess. What about you? Are you a tourist?"

"Yeah, just passing through."

"I could show you around."

"Maybe some other time." The blonde gave up and sipped her beer. Toni was perplexed. According to the woman sitting next to her, Megan was telling people that she had just broken up with the love of her life and that that person had dumped her? She thought back to their conversation at the restaurant. Toni could think of nothing she had said that would lead Megan to believe that she didn't want to be with her. She simply told Megan that she wanted her to be able to tell her family that she was alive and doing fine. Of course that meant that she would have to resign the case. Suddenly Toni had a sinking feeling. Tate had given Megan the perfect out to hide her. He could devise as many ruses as he wanted to lead the bad guys off their trail by telling them that he had assigned Toni to another Marshall. But in return, Megan had to agree to put herself and her family through three months of pure hell. And she had chosen to do so, at great personal loss. 'Just to be with me.' The thought finally sunk in. 'And here I am telling her to get lost. That what we have…had…didn't mean anything. At least, that's the way she took it, isn't it? Oh God, I am so stupid.'

Megan's words suddenly echoed in her head. "Save it Toni. I've been 'let down easy' by the best of them. I'll save you the trouble." It finally occurred to Toni. 'I was the only thing she had to hold onto, and I told her to go. For God's sake Toni, I know you're new at this, but could you have screwed it up any worse? I knew it…I knew it. I knew that I would totally blow this relationship to bits. I just didn't know it would hurt so badly when I did. How in the hell are you going to fix this? You have to fix this Toni,' she told herself, 'you have to fix this, not only because your life is in danger…but your heart and Megan's as well.' She downed her beer and slowly began to make her way through the crowd of dancers towards Megan.

Suddenly Megan saw her. Their eyes locked for an instant, and then Megan turned her head and spoke to one of her hangers-on. Toni watched as the other woman nodded her head and extended her hand, which Megan took. They went out onto the dance floor. Toni stopped her approach, momentarily stunned. She watched and felt the anger and jealousy grip her. She hesitated and decided that a display of those feelings might further alienate the woman she loved. She nodded quietly to Megan and took another seat at the bar and ordered another beer. She watched Megan dance in another's arms and tried to smile. Not a smile that said it didn't bother her, but one which said she would wait. Patiently. All night if that's what it took. She didn't stare at the couple, at least, not as much as she was able. She tried to look around, enjoy her surroundings, and she gripped the beer bottle almost tight enough to shatter it in her bare hand.

The song ended, and thankfully Megan decided not to torment her by dancing to another. She resumed her seat amidst the other women. She obviously continued the lively conversation that they had going, but Toni noticed that occasionally she would look her way. Toni concentrated on her beer bottle. She was determined to let Megan approach her. She gently turned away the many attempts at conversation that others tried with her. The only thing she maintained in her mind, was Megan's exact whereabouts. She was not going to let her leave without her, and certainly not with anyone else.

They played the battle of wills for close to an hour. Toni tried not to look at Megan and Megan tried to pretend that Toni wasn't ten feet away. Toni began to feel a lot less threatened. It became clear to her that if Megan had been interested in going home with any one of the three women that were clearly interested in her, she would have done so in the first two hours she had been there. Ever since Megan had spotted her, it was if she were trying to make Toni angry. And not that she wasn't, angry, that is, but she knew it wasn't the strategy that would win Megan back. Several more women had approached Toni, alternately asking her to dance or if they could buy her a drink. Finally, a lonely looking brunette seated herself next to Toni. She simply said hello and sipped her beer. After several minutes she and Toni began to talk. It was mostly banal get-to-know you questions and answers. What's your name? Are you visiting? How long are you staying? What brought you here? That kind of stuff. Being thoroughly bored, Toni found it a pleasant way to pass the time, never really taking her attention off of Megan.


They had gone to dinner in a really nice little local restaurant. Megan was still feeling ill at ease. Her conscience had been at war for days. She so desperately wanted to tell Tate to shove it up his ass and go home. But then there was Toni. She had been so loving the last couple of days. Holding her, comforting her, especially when she needed it the most. They had gone to watch the sunset and Toni had revealed to her a vulnerable side. She knew Toni had one, but she rarely showed it. She had fallen in love with a woman who had walked a very dark path until recently. And the only reason she could extract from her for putting her life in jeopardy was to avenge the murder of a father who clearly loved her, but didn't really understand or support her. The only bright spot in Toni's life that she could see was her mother, who when taken so abruptly from her, had caused her to lose her faith in God.

They were talking about their plans when Toni had asked her if she were okay. She thought about it. She knew that she could just walk away, and not cause her family any grief, but that would mean giving up the most profound relationship that she had ever been a part of. If she resigned from the case, she would spend the next 3 months wondering if the woman she loved was safe. Then Toni had dropped the bomb. She wanted her to go. It took her a couple of minutes to realize that she had been so totally conned. Here she was behaving like a love-struck teenager and Toni had her fooled into thinking that they couldn't sleep together…have sex…because it would ruin their friendship. And they finally did, and it was obviously just a ruse. She surrendered her heart, and now her family, and Toni was sitting across from her telling her to go. Get out. Obviously she didn't care that Megan was willing to do this for her…for them. She knew that she was walking on eggshells to begin with, and she had counted on the support of this woman, who had professed her love, to see her through…and this is what she got. Go away…get out…go back to your family. Yeah she said she wanted her to be happy…but God, where hadn't she heard that line before?

She got up and bolted. She went to the car, got in and started driving. She had no idea where she was going. Certainly not back to their room…oh no…that's exactly what Toni would expect. She drove down Esplanade Avenue and parked. She simply sat there and sobbed. She ran over the past few weeks in her head and all the indicators were there. She was the one who had pressed a physical relationship. Toni had tried to let her down before, but she persisted. Toni had told her that she had never really had a real relationship, but she discounted it. She talked Toni into it and when it happened she attached emotional significance to it. It was quite clear now, that Toni had not felt anything more than she had said she would, despite her words. Toni had clearly told her that sex was just an act, and that it had never meant anything to her. And she berated herself for attaching meaning to a phrase yet again. She remembered a time when she had promised herself that the phrase "I love you" would not stir her ever again.

Megan wiped her eyes, determined not to cry any more that evening. She thought about her options. Her emotions aside, she could not leave Toni without protection. She determined that she would get a hotel room and turn the case over in the morning. But right now, her battered soul needed soothing. She remembered that she had wanted to go to Charlene's and thought it would be a good place to lose herself for a while.

When she entered, she was reminded of any local neighborhood bar, except when she looked around, there were mostly women patrons. Her first thought was that she wanted to be alone, to think. Shortly after she sat down and ordered a bourbon and coke, a young blonde woman approached her. She didn't want to appear hostile in this new environment, so she talked to the woman. After several persistent questions, she told the blonde that she had recently broken up with the woman she considered the love of her life and wasn't looking for anything new. The blonde gave up, but was quickly succeeded by a trio of pretty women. It was apparent to her that they considered new blood a game, and the one who got to take her home, the winner. They were funny and charming, so she played along. They each asked her to dance, but she demurred. But they all sat and chatted amiably. Over an hour later she looked up and was shocked as she saw Toni approaching her. Their eyes locked.

Suddenly she was angry. She wanted to hurt Toni, knowing that somehow, it wouldn't, since Toni didn't feel the way she said she did. Becky, Susan and Kim had each asked her to dance. She turned to Susan, mostly because she was tall and dark-haired, and asked her to dance. Susan accepted by offering her hand. They headed towards the dance floor and she saw Toni stop. If she didn't know better, she would have thought that Toni was hurt by her gesture. Toni seemed to nod at her, as if she was helpless to do anything about it…which she was…in Megan's opinion. She watched as Toni took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. She danced with Susan trying to concentrate on the moment. She was unable to, mostly because she remembered that the three women were playing their little 'one-upmanship' game. She knew that she shouldn't encourage this, mostly for her own safety and not because it might be making Toni uncomfortable. After the dance, her and Susan resumed their spots at the bar. She continued to talk to the three, occasionally looking over to see if it was in any way affecting Toni. She was pretty sure it was, because Toni was trying not to look at her.

'Why in the hell do I care?' she thought to herself. 'She's only here because I'm supposed to protect her. And damn it. I will. But if she thinks she needed to suck me in like she did, just so I would do my job, then she was an idiot and cruel as well. I would have done my job regardless.' She tried to pay attention to the three chattering women, but was unable to keep track of the conversation. Then she watched as a tiny brunette sat down next to Toni. At first Toni responded as if she wasn't interested, which thrilled her, but then she watched as Toni started talking to the woman.

The bartender called last call for alcohol. Toni stood and took out her wallet and placed several bills on the counter, she looked once more at Megan. If Megan could read into her expression what she wanted to see, it would be "I love you", but that was the running joke of the evening she thought to herself. She ordered one more bourbon and coke. She knew she couldn't drive, and wasn't planning to. There were a dozen hotels within walking distance and she was determined to be in one of them. Toni looked back at her several times, before she exited the bar. Becky and Kim gave up, deciding that if someone were going to score with Linda, it wouldn't be them. Susan stayed, playing the odds.

Megan sipped gingerly at her drink. She didn't want to stay and talk to Susan, yet she didn't want to go either. Not that she considered going anywhere with Susan. She just wasn't her type. And she let Susan know this as delicately as she could. Susan wasn't discouraged. Megan took a couple of more sips and decided it was time to go. Susan insisted on walking her to her car.

When they exited the bar, Megan was decidedly uncomfortable. She hadn't planned on driving because she was intoxicated, but she saw her car as a hasty retreat from Susan's no longer encouraged advances. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Toni. She was standing at the street, her hands in her pockets, watching the exchange.

For her own part, Toni was about to tear across the parking lot and rip this woman a new asshole, but she had no idea whether Megan wanted to be with her or not. She approached slowly trying to hear the conversation. Finally she heard Megan state clearly, "I said no, okay?" She advanced rapidly as Susan was trying to force herself on Megan who was backed up against her car. Toni grabbed her and spun her around, unexpectedly. The tall brunette looked somewhat savage at having been interrupted.

"I heard the lady say no," Toni told her, pinning her arm behind her back.

"What's it to you?" Susan replied menacingly, having never been challenged before.

"I happen to care about her. And if you care about yourself, you'll just walk away and pretend like this didn't happen." Toni hissed pulling the woman's arm tighter.

"Ow…okay…okay…I'm going…" Susan conceded.

Toni released her grip. Just as she turned to check on Megan, Susan sucker punched her. Toni was stunned momentarily, then she stood up to her full height and looked down on her opponent. She knew that she could instantly put this woman in the hospital, but that would attract undue attention. "Leave now, or so help me, they won't be able to find the pieces of you in the Mississippi." Susan thought about this for about a second, then backed off. Toni looked at Megan. They simply stood there for nearly a minute, making sure one another was okay.


"Do you need a ride somewhere?" Toni finally asked, extending her hand.

Megan placed the keys in her hand. "I wasn't going to drive, I've had too much to drink."

Toni unlocked the car and they climbed in. "Are you okay?" Toni asked cautiously.

Megan looked at her for a moment, wishing that Toni would just kiss her, but dismissed her fantasy for reality. "I'm fine, just take me to a hotel. I'll pick up my things tomorrow."

She had to try. "Megan, please come home with me."

"Mmmph," was her response. 'What the hell does that mean?' she asked herself.

Toni started the car, and headed them back towards their room at the bed and breakfast. They drove in silence for a few minutes before Toni couldn't stand it. "Megan, I think we had a…big…a huge misunderstanding tonight."

"Mmmhmmm," was Megan's non-committal response.

"I love you," Toni told her. Megan's response was to look out her window. "I'm not sure what went wrong, but I…just wanted you to be happy. And from everything you've told me, you're happiest when you are surrounded by your family. I can't take that away from you. And yet I have. This circumstance, and the position that Tate has placed you in, rips you from them. I don't want to be responsible for that. God Megan, don't you get it? Why in the hell would you place your job in front of your family? I don't understand."

Megan finally looked at her, disbelief, shock, registering on her face. Toni obviously didn't get it "Toni, I didn't place my job before my family…I placed you…I thought that you loved me…and that was enough for me to place them in this position." She resumed her gaze out the window of the car.

"You're willing to do that for me?" Toni was stunned.

"Pretty stupid huh?" Megan responded with a half-hearted chuckle.

They were on Magazine Street, headed towards their room, when Toni suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road and stopped. She tried to gather the information that was bombarding her head and reconcile it with the pain pounding in her heart. "Are you saying that you were willing to put your family through all this…because you want to be with…with me?" she could hardly breathe.

Megan looked at Toni; her eyes hard and fixed. "Does it matter? It might have if you had any feelings for me. I thought you did. Apparently I was mistaken."

"How can you say that?" Tears sprang unbidden to Toni's eyes. "God Megan, I love you. I don't want to do this without you. I just can't bear the thought of you or your family in pain. And if I'm the cause of it, then I…I can't do this. I won't. I would just as soon turn myself over to the Ribisis than cause you one second of pain. And if you don't believe me…then fine. Quit the case…I deserve what I get when they assign someone else to me. Someone who doesn't give a damn and can be bought for $2 million." She shifted the car into drive and sped towards their room. When they got there, she jumped out of the car, heading towards their private entrance.

Megan was trying quickly to follow. Unsure of what she was feeling now and not sure at all of what Toni was planning. She watched Toni as she approached the door, trying to fit her key in, her hands shaking. She couldn't tell if it was anger or fear. In her frustration, she saw Toni pull a scrap of paper from the door and fling it to the ground as she finally gained entrance. Before following her, she picked up the piece of paper.

When she entered, Toni was hastily shoving her belongings into her duffel bag. She opened the crumpled paper. It read, "M. I love you. I need to talk to you, please. T." She was stunned. She watched mutely as Toni passed her, careful not to brush her, on her way to the bathroom. She heard her pack up her toiletries and watched as she put them into the duffel.

"I'm ready. Tell me where to go. It doesn't matter anymore," she said slinging the bag over her shoulder and heading out the door. Megan gathered her alcohol dulled senses and dashed out the door behind Toni. She got to her as she was shoving her bag into the trunk.

"Stop…stop." Toni ignored her and slammed the trunk closed. She got into the driver's side and turned the engine over. She would have slammed the door shut but Megan was blocking the way.

"Let's go. I'm sure you have more important things to do. Which way do I head?"

"Damn it, Toni…stop it!" she yelled, reaching into the car and snatching the keys out of the ignition. "Please…don't…" tears were spilling down her face. "I'm…Toni…please…I've had too much to drink. Please come inside and talk to me."

"You know what Megan? You are so sure that I don't give a shit how you feel…how am I supposed to think that you care now how I feel?" Toni was unable to stop the angry words. She wanted so much to just shut her mouth. To take back every little thing she might have said wrong tonight, but it just came flying out.

"I care. I do care. Please come inside. Please?" she begged. Not that Toni could go anywhere now. She had the keys to the car. "Toni please?" Toni was angry…with herself…with Megan…especially with Megan. She was such a sucker for her tears. Never in her life had tears affected her. In fact the few times that others had tried that tactic on her, she had laughed. Now, her stomach was in knots. She could have grabbed the car keys back, but she suddenly felt deflated. The tears streaming down her lover's face had the same effect as a pin in a balloon. She slowly got out of the car ignoring Megan's extended hand.

Megan backed up. She felt rejected when Toni wouldn't take her hand, but at least she was going to come inside and talk. She watched Toni as she exited the car and shoved her hands in her pockets. Toni went back to the entrance as Megan opened the trunk and grabbed Toni's duffel.

Toni parked herself in the one armchair that was in the room and watched as Megan sat her bag down inside the entrance and locked the door behind them. She waited patiently as Megan went out of their room and returned with a couple of sodas and cups of ice. Megan poured one drink using the Kentucky bourbon they had bought. She handed it to Toni and poured herself plain coke. "I can't sober up, so I thought maybe you could catch up to me."

Toni accepted the drink from her and took a sip, waiting. She had no idea what was on Megan's mind, but she had had enough of being jerked around. The only thing that sprang to her mind was how Megan had convinced her that there was a difference between making love and having sex, and then proved her right. Sex was just an act. She knew Megan was hurting, and she had never tried so hard in her life to make someone else feel good, and when she did that, she got kicked in the teeth. This was the thanks she was getting for putting someone before herself. Pop's words echoed in her head. "Look out for number one, because no one else will." And finally she saw the wisdom in these words. She had tried to put Megan's feelings before her own, and…and what? She had never cared about anyone enough to do that. And she had no idea why it seemed to have backfired.

Megan's head was fuzzy to say the least. She was still trying to make sense of why her and Toni were fighting. She was sure that she had the major part in this drama, but wasn't sure why. Several hours ago she had been convinced that Toni was trying to get rid of her…but now, the way Toni was reacting, she didn't think that was the case, but still wasn't sure why she felt convinced of that not too long ago. "Toni, I don't know where to begin. Do you…not want to be with me?" she asked.

Toni sipped her drink. Megan she knew was pretty drunk, but…damn…didn't she know the answer to that question? "You've got to be kidding me? How many times do I have to say that I love you before you believe me?"

"I…love it when you say that…I just thought that…when you were telling me that you wanted me off this case…that…"

Toni put her drink down and approached Megan who was leaning against the dresser. "You thought that I had used you? Didn't you? Damn Megan, I knew you were hurting, but I thought we had something. You were the one who convinced that we did. And when I tried to put your feelings before mine, you decided that I was so shallow, that I was trying to get rid of you? I guess I just don't get this relationship crap."

Megan looked at Toni, as she bit her lip. She so wanted to kiss her. "I…didn't… react well. I'm…Toni…I'm in a very scary place right now. And I thought that you were there with me. But when you said I should quit the case and go home…I guess I thought…you didn't want to be with me anymore."

"How the hell could you think that?" Toni asked, not meaning to sound so harsh. "I love you. Do you know how many people I've said that to?"

Megan shook her head gently no, not knowing the answer.

"One…you. I've never had any experience to compare to this, so I don't know what I'm doing wrong."

"Nothing," Megan interjected. "I…I've never considered leaving my family for anyone…until you. My family is gone, unless I leave you right now and tell them that I'm alive…"

"Don't you think I get that? Damn it…I don't want you to do that for me."

"Not even if I want to do that for you? To be with you?"

Toni was speechless. Here, the most beautiful person she had ever met in her life was willing to give up her entire family for her? She did not understand why. She tried to put herself in Megan's shoes. If she had had a huge, close family, could she give it up for one person? And she knew suddenly…she would give up every person she knew, that ever meant anything to her, for Megan. She simply couldn't fathom anyone feeling that deeply towards her. She looked into Megan's eyes, and saw her own feelings reflected, as if she were looking into a mirror, and suddenly she felt little. How could she have been so blind? So stupid? She had just answered her own question.

"You…can't possibly feel…that strongly about me? Can you?" she asked gently stroking Megan's cheek. She was trying hard to choke back the sobs that were threatening to overwhelm her.

"Why do you have such a hard time believing that I love you too?"

Toni was unable to hold back the tears. She leaned slowly towards Megan; hoping…hoping that Megan would forgive her and return her kiss. She pressed her lips gently against Megan's. Megan didn't respond at first, but then she felt the overwhelming joy that accompanied Megan's tender return.

For several minutes they gently kissed one another. Toni couldn't stand it anymore. She wrapped her arms around Megan and pulled her in tight. She did not care if they ever went beyond this point. She had all that she needed in her arms, and she was sure that she would not make the mistake ever again of making Megan doubt that this was exactly what she desired. And she knew that they could make love a thousand times, but the biggest thrill she would know would be holding Megan close to her.

She broke the kiss for a moment. "Are you okay, love?"

"Yeah," Megan smiled happily at her.

"It's late. Let's lay down."

"I'm exhausted."

"Me too."

They dressed for bed. Again, Megan was hesitant, but Toni held her arms open. "Please…I love you, lay here with me." Megan smiled and snuggled up next to Toni and was asleep within minutes, Toni not far behind.


They woke at the same time. Megan found herself draped over Toni, as she had been lately, especially the last couple of weeks. At first she was somewhat embarrassed and she started to move to a less provocative position. Toni couldn't get close enough to Megan and when she felt Megan start to move away she held her tighter. "Please don't move away…unless you really want to…"

"I don't…I just thought that maybe you might be uncomfortable."

"I couldn't be more comfortable if I tried. And Megan, I'm never going to stop trying with you."

Megan snuggled closer, at least, she tried to. And Toni felt a shift within herself. She felt herself open up, and Megan sink inside and nestle around her heart. And it was the single best feeling she had ever experienced. She wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, instead she was determined to memorize the sensation in all its detail so that she could recall it at any time. Eventually, they both drifted back to sleep.


When they actually awoke, ready to start the day, they considered each other. Their lips met in honest playfulness. Both wanted to start the day, but neither wanted to move.

"Can I stay here forever?" Megan asked.

"Don't you dare go anywhere." Toni told her. "I'd be lost without you." She smiled at her young lover. "Where were you ten years ago?" She asked rhetorically.

"Dreaming about you." Megan said simply.

"Do me a favor…pinch me…because, although I don't want to wake up, I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming."

"Is it a good dream?"

"The best." They held each other and both smiled and giggled, like teenagers.

"What do you want to do today?" Toni asked.

"Besides this?" Megan teased. She knew that there was a very serious side to their situation. "I think we should take the rental to Houston and drop it off. The sooner, the better. We'll find a way to get back here, even if we have to hop a bus," she told Toni, acknowledging her suggestion from the previous evening.

"We should tell Gwen that we will be gone a few days, and maybe she will hold the room for us."

"Well, she did say that she wouldn't have rented it if we hadn't shown up. I'm sure she wasn't sugarcoating the circumstances. I think that the room will be available when we return." Megan asserted.

"Then we should get going."

"Mmmhmmm," Megan responded teasingly, "as soon as you're fully awake, we'll take off." Her lips found Toni's sensitive neck. At that moment, Toni forgot the reason that had brought them together. She simply knew that that they would never be apart again as she lost herself in Megan's caresses.

It was nearly two hours later when they lay in each others arms and tried to contemplate rising from the bed.


They explained to Gwen that they would be gone for a day or two and she assured the young couple that the room would be available upon their return. They headed for Houston to return the car. The map showed them that Houston was approximately 360 miles away. They figured that they would probably be there in about 8 hours with a stop for lunch.

Toni took the first driving shift with the agreement that Megan would drive after lunch. She had an overwhelming need not to be out of physical contact with Megan, and held her hand as they traveled and talked.

Megan had been curious and asked Toni when she realized she was gay, considering her first crush had been on a guy. Toni snickered lightly before she began. "I think my attraction to Bobby was because we both had a lot in common. We both wanted to be writers, and, don't get me wrong, he was gorgeous, but we soon found out that we had even more in common. Her name was Candace…Candy for short. You remember that song…I Want Candy? Well, he and I were sitting on my stoop talking when she strolled by. She obviously shared my opinion of Bobby. After she flitted past, I started singing that song, you know, as a kind of joke. And he looked me right in the eye and said, "I know what you mean". From that point on, we would sit together and compare notes."

Megan smiled. She had an image in her head of Toni and Bobby laughing like teens are apt to do when someone they find attractive wanders by. "I guess I know what you mean. I was a sophomore in high school when Sean started middle school. He and I were always close. We were hanging out at the mall that was near our house one afternoon and I watched as his eyes lingered on Tom Price and his girlfriend Lily Best. At first I thought he was looking at Lily…I know I was, then I realized he was looking at Tom. I don't know how I knew, but I just blurted out, "He's cute, isn't he?" And he answered yes before he realized what he said. I thought he was going to slide under the table at having revealed this personal detail to me, but he held up and then looked back again at Tom and Lily. When he looked at me, he noticed where my attention was focused. He didn't even have to say anything. I put my head in my hands and blushed. "I see you're having the same problem, aren't you?" he asked me. After that, we were inseparable. We finally had someone to discuss our feelings with that wasn't going to judge us. It was fantastic. Actually it still is…" Megan stopped talking suddenly.

Toni knew exactly what had just occurred to Megan. Sean, like the rest of her family, thought she was dead, and until this trial was under way, she wouldn't be able to tell them otherwise. "I know it's not the same, but, I'm here if you want to talk," Toni offered. Megan raised her captured hand to her lips and kissed her knuckles tenderly.

"Thanks. You don't know how much that means to me," Megan told her, unshed tears shining in her eyes.

Continued in Part 7.

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