Shattered Innocence

by Tragedy88

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

Chapter Eighteen

No where to go... but down

The warehouse? Too dark... The tunnels? Too dark... and besides I don't think Shane would like it if I went there myself. Coney Island?

Where the hell is Shane?

Fine. Coney Island it is then.

She wandered aimlessly down the crowded boardwalk, passing dozens of shops, and paying no attention to any of them. Stubbing the toes of her sneakers against the weathered boards she wondered if Casey would be all right. It wasn't like her and Casey were joined at the hip, or even close friends, but the fact was she'd hot wired a car and stolen it right from the school parking lot.

Right with Tony watching. She knew she'd be hard pressed to lie for Casey if asked. She slowed as a roller blader nearly ran over her and forced her up against the side of a building. With a grumbling sigh and a muttered curse she stepped out of the shade of the wall and stood for a moment wondering where in hell she'd ended up.

In front of her was a gaudy sign with a large hand print. A fortune teller. One store down was a tattoo parlor. Inanely she wondered it if was the place where The Panthers got all their tats.

Tony looked at the pink palm again.

"Are you ready?" it asked in green letters. "$3.00's to see your future."

Geez, what a rip off, Tony thought. But she found her feet shuffling forward of their own accord and her hands brushed aside the beaded doorway.

The inside was dimly lit and much cooler then the air outside. Even in the dim light everything looked too flashy and fake. She was about to turn around and walk back out when a lilting voice called out.

"May I help you?"

Tony looked up at the middle aged woman who had appeared from a back doorway. She certainly didn't look anything like the place would lead one to believe. In fact she only wore a single silver chain around her neck. Her long, dark hair fell in gentle waves down over her slim shoulders. She wore a light cotton sun dress with a splattering of roses, and her hands now rested on her hips impatiantly.

"Well, girl?"

"I... I'd like to know my future," Tony finally said.

"Ahh, you would now? This way then." The woman turned, fluttering the sun dress around her slim hips and legs, and glided into the back room.

Tony followed, slowly peeking her head around the doorframe before ascertaining there was nothing there to jump out and get her.

"Have a seat, and we'll see what we shall see." The fortune teller was already seated behind a round table, and she pointed to the metal folding chair in front of her.

Reluctantly Tony sat, wondering why on earth she was here to listen to a bunch of mumbo jumbo anyway. None of this stuff was real.

"Give me your hand, child."

The woman's hand was cool against her fingers and Tony let her palm settle in. It was flipped over and the woman traced a long finger over the thin lines on Tony's palm, her face hidden by a cascade of dark hair. Several moments of silence followed before Tony couldn't take it anymore.

"What do you see?" Tony asked.

"Shhh," the fortune teller reprimanded. "A true reading takes time. Close your eyes for me now."

Obediantly Tony closed her eyes. The touch of soft fingers on her palm was soothing and she slowly found her head drooping to her chest.

"That's it, child," the woman whispered. "Close your eyes, bring the future to you." She traced Tony's life line, fascinated by the seeming fact that she had two. One started out slim and sketchy, turning jagged and broken before another line began to run parrallel to it. That line was also jagged, but it ran into the first and became one with it. The lines molded into something solid and strong. Interesting...

"What do you see, child?" She asked softly.

"Nothing," Tony mumbled, finding it harder and harder to keep her head up.

"Look closer," the woman said as she closed her own eyes. "Do you see that light ahead?"

Behind closed lids Tony strained through the darkness to see the so called light. Nothing... wait. What's that? In the distance a tiny shaft of light shone down, like a beam of sunlight. "There," Tony whispered back, her heart picking up double time.

"Go to it. What do you see?"

"I... I see... trees."

The woman smiled. "Good girl. Go and sit beneath the tree in the shade."

Tony walked through the vision, over soft blades of grass to the tall tree. Carefully she sat in the grass in the cool shade. Now she could hear the buzzing and whining of insects, smell the pines from across the meadow... Meadow? A large meadow with a tiny brook dividing it in half.

Where the pines began shadows drifted in and out. But they weren't all shadows from the trees. "Someone's there!" Tony said, startled.

"You are safe here, Tony. Just wait for them to come."

Irrational fear took ahold of her chest and she stood quickly, her back scraping up against the rough bark of the tree. "I'm afraid."

"Don't be afraid, child. You can not be hurt here." The fortune teller gently ran her fingers in a soothing motion across Tony's palm.

"I think I see someone." And Tony did. One shadow had stepped out from among the others, and it was walking slowly toward her.

"Concentrate on them. Know them..."

"How do I do that?" Tony watched the shadow come closer. It was in the sunlight now, but still bathed in darkness. 'Concentrate... know them...' The shadow was tall. Taller then Tony. Tall... like Shane. Tony gasped. The shadow walked with that same purposeful stride, that walk born of greatness and class.

"What do you see, child?"

"I- I- see... Shane," Tony whispered, disbelieving and afraid. The shadow had reached the edge of the brook and stopped. The darkness clung around her like an evil hand. "Why is she so dark?" she asked in a fear filled voice.

"The darkness surrounds her?"


"Then the past is strong with her, as it is with you, child. Do not be afraid." The fortune teller clasped Tony's hand in both of hers.

"But I came here to see the future..."

"She is your future."

"I don't understand." The vision began to fade. Suddenly panicked Tony began to run toward the shadow. No! Don't go! She reached the edge of the brook. An invisible hand reached out and held her in place. "Please don't go." She reached out her hand. The shadow reached out too.

And disappeared.

"No! Don't go!" Tony's eyes snapped open. Oh my god... it was Shane. What the hell does that mean?

She looked up to capture the eyes of the fortune teller, a million questions stampeding through her mind, but she found herself outside in the sun, the beaded door to her back and streams of tourists passing her by with unabashed curious stares.

Shuddering, she resisted the urge to run as far as she could. Without a glance to the door she began to walk back the way she'd come from.

She ended up on the beach, and sought the shade and quiet confines of the area directly under the boardwalk. Tony went back as far as she could go, ignoring the trash piles and the homeless sleeping under newspapers, and slumped to the cool sand. After taking off her shoes she sunk her toes into the ground and numbly poured sand up to her ankles.

For a while that was all she did; simple mindedly shifting sand through her fingers. It was calming, and some of her thoughts slowly fell into place. But before she could get a handle on any of it a shadow loomed up over her.

Startled, she looked up to find Ripper studying her.

"Heard what happened at school," the tall, athletic girl said, by way of greeting.

Tony shrugged and after a moment Ripper sat down beside her.

"You ok?" Ripper asked.

"Fine, why?"

"Well, I saw ya rushin' down the board walk, pale, like ya'd seen a ghost..." Ripper trailed off and hefted a handful of sand. It was easier then looking at Tony.

"I said I'm fine," Tony replied testily.

"Sorry," Ripper muttered and dropped her handful of sand. She stood suddenly and started to walk away. "She didn't get caught," she called over her shoulder.

Tony looked up with wide eyes. "Who?"

Ripper stopped, turned and was startled to find Tony's hands shaking. She came back and knelt beside the girl. "Casey. She didn't get caught. She dumped the car."

"Oh." Tony shoved her hands beneath the sand. Somehow I thought... "I'm sorry for snapping at you, Ripper."

"S'ok." She sat in front of Tony. "Uh, wanna talk about it?"

"How did you know where to find me?" Tony asked, avoiding the question.

"Um, well Casey found me first and told me what had happened. That she'd, uh, seen ya running away. Guess she was kind of worried." Ripper ran her hand through her short hair then nervously scratched the back of her neck.

Tony snorted. "Casey? Worried? Over me? I don't think so."

"She was," Ripper said firmly. "She said we should all look for ya."

"And by chance you saw me on the boardwalk?" Tony asked. She shifted her legs up under her thighs and set her hands in her lap. She just didn't know what to do with them.

"Nah, I know you n Shane come here a lot. So I just thought, ya know, that you might be here."

Tony nodded but didn't meet Ripper's eyes. How could she ask without seeming ungreatful that Ripper even knew where to look, had even bothered in the first place? "Did Shane... um come with you?" Now she did look up.

Ripper smiled slightly, not at all offended. "Shane's vamoosed. Nobody knows where she is."

"Figures," Tony murmured and looked back down at her hands.

"Yeah, she's never told anyone where she goes. Like it's suppose to be some big damn secret." Ripper began to relax and leaned back on her elbows.

"She hasn't told anyone?" Tony asked increduously. "Not even Casey or Cadence?"

"Nope." Ripper shook her head.

"Isn't that kinda bad? I mean she's your leader, or whatever. Why would she just get up and leave with all that responsi..." Tony suddenly realized that it wasn't really any of her business and she had no right asking.

"Responsibility? It is weird. But maybe that's why she does it." Ripper shrugged. "Maybe she just gets tired of us and gets out."

"But that's not fair to the rest of you," Tony blurted. Or me either.... She quickly banished that line of thought.

"We do just fine by ourselves."

"I'm sorry, that's not what I meant." She studied Ripper, realizing she'd hurt her. Not big, maybe just offended her. Tony sighed. "I just meant-"

"I know what ya meant. It's ok." Self conciously Ripper sat back up and crossed her legs Indian style. "Can I ask ya somethin'?"

"Sure," Tony answered absently, her attentions drastically divided.

"Do you remember when we were at the abandoned apartments the other night?" God, she wished she hand a basketball in her hands right then. Ripper always felt so much more in control with that bit of air and rubber in her hands, doing just what she wanted.

Tony made a face. "You mean when I drank too much and threw up?"

Ripper blushed. "Uh, yeah, that'd be the night."

"What about it?" Tony's eyes were focused out over the beach goers and she didn't see the embrrassment and discomfort flash across Ripper's lean, tanned face.

"I... um, well... I was wonderin' if you remembered anything that, um, that you n me talked about?" Ripper waited, terrified and uncertain.

Tony considered that for a long silent moment. "I'm sorry, I guess not. All the alcohol," she waved her hand apologetically in the air, "ya know?"

Ripper didn't know whether she should be feeling relief or sorrow. "Ok."

"Why'd you want to know?" Tony asked curiously, shifting to look at Ripper. She sure turns an interesting shade of red. What the hell DID we talk about that night?

"Just curious." Ripper tried to shrug it off. Tony was staring intently at her. Damn, I never should have brought it up.

"What did we talk about then?"

"Um, oh, ya know, this n that." She blushed even more.

"Well," Tony drawled. "It must have been something pretty interesting." She watched, amused, as Ripper blushed even more and turned her head away.

"Hey Shane, didja know that Ripper said I was cu-"

Tony's own voice rang suddenly clear in her ears. No wonder Ripper's embarrassed. Do I pretend not to remember? Or do I tease her about it? A slow, miscehvious sparkle lit up Tony's eyes and turned to a quirky grin.

Ripper was fascinated by the sudden transformation. The girl positively glowed. Ripper's chest ached and she felt a pull to the shy girl with the shining golden hair and gem colored eyes. A little voice, from far far off was trying to tell her something. Trying to remind her... But the voice slipped away as Ripper felt herself falling into Tony's eyes. Hard.

Tony blinked rapidly and the grin slowly slipped away. She also remembered that Ripper hadn't been nearly as drunk as she'd been. "Uh, how about we find Casey? Let her know I didn't go falling off a cliff or something?"

Ripper nodded mutely and lept to her feet, leading the way quickly out from under the boardwalk.

My god, what the hell just happened...

Tony hurried to catch up and match strides with the tall athlete. "Hey," she said softly and tugged on Ripper's arm.

Ripper pulled herself to a reluctant stop and turned sideways to face Tony. The look Tony gave her unsettled the teen, more then simple words. "What?" She crossed her arms across her chest and waited.

"It's ok, ya know?" the shorter girl said. She stood to her full height and looked Ripper in the eye. Tony had the sudden urge to do far more then stand up to the tall butch. However, she didn't know what the hell that would be.

A gull screeched and swooped down from the sky. Ripper turned to watch it fly out over the crashing waves. "S'ok," Ripper mumbled, but wasn't sure just what was ok. She dropped her arms to her sides, knocking Tony's small hand off her forearm. "Time to find Casey, right?"

"Yeah." Tony once again matched Ripper's strides across the sand and up the stairs to the boardwalk. It wasn't until they were out of the gates and on the sidewalk that Tony spoke again. "Ripper?"

"Hmm?" she asked as her eyes shifted from one side of the street to the other, looking for an opening to cross.

"I won't say anything if you don't want people to know," Tony replied as she looked at the strong profile of the girl standing on the sidewalk next to her. In many ways she was a lot like Shane.

There was the break in traffic they needed and they raced across the street, heading to the nearest subway entrance.

"Everyone knows anyway, Tony, it's not a secret," Ripper finally said, hoping they were talking about the fact that she was gay and not the fact that she had a crush on the 'new girl.'

They were past the turnstiles before Ripper had spoken and Tony had thought her comment would go unanswered. As they waited at the stuffy and crowded platform for the next train Tony debated saying more. But it could only get her in trouble so she was silent.

And silent on the train; through two transfers- and still silent as they walked down a back alley to the abandoned apartment building. They were at the boarded up doorway before Tony pulled Ripper to a stop once more.

"Can I ask you something?"

"What?" Ripper glanced around to make sure no one was in the alley with them.

"Why did you tell everyone?" Tony asked.

Evidently it was not the question Ripper was expecting because her brow furrowed and she gave Tony a blank look. "Why did I tell?"

"Yeah. If you're... straight then you don't have to tell anyone. If you're ... not... then why do you have to tell?" she shoved her hands in her pockets as she asked and shuffled her feet nervously.

Ripper studied Tony. She's so young.... looks like she's just a little kid. "It's how you know who your true friends are, Tony," she replied honestly and simply.

Tony looked up and hesitantly met Ripper's dark blue eyes. "Then... then, everyone in the gang is ok with it?"

Ripper sadly shook her head. "No, but it doesn't matter. It only matters how I feel about it."

Then... Tony squared her shoulders and stopped shuffling her feet. She liked Ripper. "Ok, then... since it's cool with you, it's cool with me."

Suddenly Ripper grinned. And Tony grinned back, surprised as the tall girl smacked her playfully on the shoulder.

"Let's get inside, everyone's gonna meet here in a bit."

Tony followed behind Ripper as she ducked under the boards and mumbled something about dumping out all the beer and replacing it with Mountain Dew. Up ahead Ripper chuckled and waited for Tony to catch up before she opened the sagging door and bowed, ushering Tony in with a wave of her arm.

"After you, fair maiden," Ripper said, smirking.

Oh God... Tony's heart rate sped up. "I'm going to kill Cadence," she muttered.

Ripper just laughed.

Chapter Nineteen
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