Disclaimers: These are my characters, all mine, even if they bear a striking resemblance to a certain warrior and bard. Sorry MCA/Universal you should know by now that I can't resist. But, so ya know, in no way do I make money from this. It's just my own sick, twisted fun.
Sex/Violence: Lots. More then the usual eps of Xena, and more then my usual stories. This is a tough city, a tough neighborhood where just about anything does and will happen. This story depicts love between two members of the same sex, so if this is illegal or offensive, read elsewhere. This story also depicts an act of rape, but no graphic sex scenes. Sorry folks, just not my style.
Anything else? Don't know about that yet. Guess this story has an R rating because of the violence and potty mouth language. Um, that'd be all now. Go ahead and read. Delve into my twisted mind, if you dare! :)
Feedback most welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh yippy, Tony thought as she slipped into one of the only seats left in the classroom; in the front. Do I really need to be this close when I've got nothing to learn?
The trial period had come and gone, in two days. There were no hassles and so now Tony was going to the rest of the senior classes. The one right after lunch was science. And the man hadn't a clue.
In a way she felt sorry for him.
She wandered in her mind, going back over the walk through the tunnel and how Shane had held her hand the whole way. When they'd left the tunnels and stepped into the daylight Tony had left some of her pain behind.
It had gotten even better after Shane had bought her ice cream and they'd strolled up and down the boardwalk.
Now, it was two days later and they were falling back into a routine. Shane walking her to classes in the morning, Casey meeting her just before lunch, and all of them eating and talking over lunch in the cafeteria.
After lunch was this class, science, then English with Ms Stewart. Tony had been more then thrilled to find Cadence in the English glass with her. And less then thrilled to find out she'd be competing with Casey in gym class after that.
Tony sighed and tried to concentrate on the science teacher. He was probably in his forties, but looked older, with gray hair pushed to the side to cover his bald spot and gold, wire rimmed glasses that were two small for his thick face. All in all he had a grandfatherly look about him. Non threatening but in a scattered kind of way.
She tossed her science book up onto the graffiti covered desk and sighed again. She wasn't stupid; she knew the pain of loosing her mother was still there. She knew that the funeral was tomorrow÷
"Nice of you to grace us with your presence, Miss Delante," the teacher risked a bit of sarcasm. He was grouchy. It appeared everyone was grouchy or on edge today.
Shane grinned without humor and slid into her seat, not noticing Tony until a startled set of familiar green eyes glanced her way.
"I want everyone to pair up and head to the lab tables."
Tony practically skipped out of her seat then suddenly paused when she realized several people were already approaching Shane. She tried to keep a neutral expression on her face as she glanced about for someone to pair with. It was just like those old nightmares about being the last one picked in gym class.
There was still a small group around Shane, but everyone else had paired up.
"Let's go ladies and gentlemen, we haven't got all day," the teacher said sternly as he began to pass out battered and outdated lab books to those already seated at the back tables.
Tony casually made her way to the back and to the teacher to explain she didn't have a partner and to ask if she could do it on her own. A hand reached out from the group around Shane and tapped her on the shoulder.
"Hey, kid," he said.
Tony looked up hopefully. "Yes?"
"Maybe you should go back home. No one here likes overachievers. Especially not ugly little girls."
"What did you say?" A dark head popped out of the crowd.
"Nada Hammer, just messin' 'round with the ugly duckling," he smiled brilliantly at Shane. He'd win her over yet. No girl could resist his charms. Not for long anyway.
"Quick, you bastard, I'd rip your heart out, if I even thought you had one." Shane grabbed the boy's neck in one hand.
He yelped and dug his heels into the floor, trying to back away. He couldn't break her vise-like grip.
The world suddenly slowed down for Tony as she saw the same anger she'd seen that first day in the cafeteria. She watched the amazing show of strength as Shane pulled the boy, Quick, up farther and demanded an apology.
She put her hand out. "Shane?"
Dark, angry eyes turned her way and for a second Tony feared for her life, then dark blues softened.
"Put him down, please?" Tony asked quietly, ignoring the boy's acute embarrassment and shame, focusing solely on Shane.
For a second nothing happened then Shane suddenly let the boy go with a growl and a menacing 'If I ever hear you call her names again' kind of threat.
Quick nodded and retreated to the other side of the room, as far from Shane as he could get.
His tag isn't Quick for no reason, Tony had the sudden urge to laugh but surpressed it when she glanced back up at Shane with a quirky smile. A weight Tony didn't realize was on her shoulders suddenly lifted as Shane asked, "Wanna be my partner?"
With the barest hint of a tremor in her voice Tony replied, "Sure, but I gotta warn ya÷ I tend to blow things up."
A crooked smile lifted the corners of Shane's lips. "No problem. It's about time someone spiced this place up."
A very relieved science teacher pushed his specs back up his nose and finally began labs, thanking God no blood had been spilled in his classroom. At least not today.
The funeral... Oh God, the funeral. I can't go through this again. Not now, not alone. Tony's fists clenched and unclenched in her lap as she listened to the eulogy after the final viewing. Gram was right beside her, but she was in her own world of despair, and Tony didn't entertain the idea of leaning on her for support.
She was an adult now. Ok, fifteen wasn't exactly an adult÷ but it sure as hell felt like she'd grown up these last two years. Nothing would ever be the same...
Casey doubted Cadence's sanity for a moment. "We should go where?"
"You heard me. Shane's going to the funeral and I think we should too." Cadence had a serious look about her face that Casey never argued with. Simply because she never won.
But she had to try anyway. "Shane already left. No one's gonna care if we show up or not." She shrugged her shoulders and started to walk away.
"Case-" Cadence started angrily.
"Casey, Tony will care. Don't you think?" Molly stepped in front of Casey's retreating form and effectively blocked her path.
The spiky haired girl took a moment to study the quietest member of the gang. Her words were few and far between. She rarely even spoke when spoken to. Casey raised her eyebrows in a slightly less then perfect imitation of Shane's signature gesture and placed her hands on her hips.
Molly stared back. She flipped a short brown curl behind her ear and waited.
"I'll go," Tish said unexpectedly, breaking the tense silence.
Casey whirled to face her. "You don't even like Tony."
"Why do you want to go then?"
Tish mumbled something about Shane probably killing them if they didn't. Casey's eyes widened. When you put it like that÷ "Fine," Casey said, "we'll all go."
All meaning; Tish, Casey, Molly, Cadence, 'Ripper' and Dorsey. Half of them tumbled into Tish's Corvette and the rest in Cadence's battered old MAZDA CRX.
Tony didn't see Shane right away, so she stood in the doorway a moment studying the pale, tense face and clenched hands. The words of the pastor floated around her head and past her ears, sounding like the buzzing of bees. Just like it had at Charley's funeral. Oh God, what a mess that had been.
Purposely she blocked out the painful memories of her mother sobbing over the casket and her father trying to look tough and immovable.
She fairly stalked past the handful of other mourners and sat in the empty chair to the left side of Tony. The blond head whipped up and looked at Shane for a stunned second before she tore her eyes away and faced the front.
"Didn't think you'd come," Tony whispered.
"That's what friends are for, right?" Shane whispered back.
Something unclenched in Tony's chest. It was so palpable it made her grimace.
"You all right?"
Tony nodded silently and felt tears threatening at the edge of her lashes. She blinked them angrily away as she looked down at her shoes. Damn, am I gonna cry for the rest of my life? Someone standing in front of her handed her a tissue. She made a desperate grab for it and looked up.
"C-cadence? Casey?" She looked around at the rest of the small group. Most of them stood awkwardly, hands in pockets and feet shuffling nervously.
"Yup, we're here for ya darlin.'" Cadence knelt down on one knee in front of Tony and opened up her arms. Tony leaned forward and accepted the hug.
"Thanks for coming. It means the world to me," she whispered in Cadence's ear and the girl squeezed tighter before gently releasing her and motioning for the others to sit down as she took a seat to Shane's left.
Cadence glanced at Shane and found an intent stare focused her way. Shane nodded and Cadence smiled slightly, patting Shane on the knee before they both turned their attention back to the pastor.
The sun shining clear and bright belied the fact that one fifteen-year-old girl was going through hell as she watched her mother's coffin lowered into the ground. How can she leave me? How mother?! How could you leave me like daddy did? You were so goddamned worried that I'd be the one to die÷ and you leave me!
Tony wanted, no needed, to kick something. To break something. And she was÷ sorta. She was almost breaking Cadence's hand. She glanced sideways at Shane and saw her rather calm expression.
Tony's anger flared. How can Shane be so calm? The rational side of Tony's mind tried desperately to make her remember that it was her mother and not Shane's brother going into the ground. Had the roles been reversed would Tony put on the 'calm facade' to help her friend through it all?
As soon as Cadence had led Tony out of the funeral home and to her car Shane had stepped back and let her take over. It was all Shane could do to keep from bolting; distancing herself from the situation and Tony's evident pain.
And it was so much easier for Tony to focus her anger on Shane. Someone living and breathing... her anger sputtered and dwindled to a small coal in her belly. Momma's really gone... She glanced at her grandmother. Gram had lost her daughter, had lost that twinkle in her eyes. Tony would do anything to give it back.
But not now. Now she couldn't do anything but hold back the waves of tears that threatened to consume her.
Graveside services came to an end and Tony realized she hadn't heard a word that was said. Cadence shuffled both her and Gram back towards the cars. Gram gave Tony a fierce hug and slid into her friend's son's BMW. The lawyer, if Tony remembered correctly.
With promises to meet them back at the hall Cadence propelled Tony to the CRX and ushered the others to their car as well. Tony slumped into the right front seat and silently stared out the window as the projects, abandoned buildings, 'mom 'n' pop' stores and gas stations flew past.
It's too much, Tony admitted to herself. She was seated on a dull brown couch that had seen better days. A few feet a way tables had been set up and most of the people were seated, in small groups, talking and laughing. Each time a well meaning person came up to her with cliches like 'The pain will fade', 'In time...', 'Your mother's in a better place...' Tony cringed.
Wasn't it bad enough that the little children ran around the tables and the legs of the adults, cheerfully oblivious to it all? She'd only been a little older then some of them when her father had died. Alice had tried to piece together their tiny family, tried to keep them in Missouri÷ but once the will was read Ů what will there was Ů they'd practically been thrown off base. They'd wrestled a tiny, one bedroom apartment and Alice had gotten her first job in years. Ends hadn't been met and Alice had sent a last, desperate call to her mother in NYC.
And here they were... here Tony was.
She glanced at Cadence's profile and Shane's a bit farther down on the couch. "I need to get out of here," she whispered.
Cadence turned to her with an understanding look. "Want me to take you home?"
Tony shruddered visibly. "Anywhere but home right now, please."
"You got it."
They all stood as Tony searched for her Gram. "Lemme just tell Gram I'm leaving."
Shane nodded absently. "Meet ya at the car."
Cadence waved Casey over from the table laden with food as Tony made her way to the other side of the room.
"What's up?" Casey asked.
"Tony needs to get out of here. Let Molly and everybody know, ok?"
"Sure," and Casey wandered off to find the others.
Tony had to wait a moment for her Gram to take notice of her as she stood impatiently on the other side of the table. When Gram looked up from her conversation Tony smiled slightly. "I'm gonna go now."
"You sure, sweetheart?" Gram asked.
She nodded. "Cadence invited me to stay over." The lie rolled easily off her tongue.
"Good, good," Gram replied absently. "Friends are good now."
Tony mumbled an 'uh huh' and a 'see you tomorrow' before sidestepping around a bunch of rambunctious children on her way to the door.
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